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On Being “Allowed” to be Your Authentic Self

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Photo credit: eye-for-ebony

Your Authentic Self

Not long ago I was at a presentation where, during a break, I was talking with a couple of women.  I re-told a personal story and happened to say somebody had mocked a circumstance I was in, when they could have empathized with me.  When I told the two women the story, I said that the mocking hurt my feelings. To add insult to injury (at least as far as I’m concerned) one of the women scoffed, “Oh just get over it”.

Why is it that we tell people to be their “authentic self” and then when they do reveal something, such as hurt feelings, they are criticized for it?

What was really ironic, was the speaker for that presentation was encouraging us in the audience to “be our authentic selves” and everyone in the audience applauded enthusiastically.  Including the woman who had just criticized me.

If it’s Important To You

You’ve heard the saying, “People do business with those that they know, like, and trust.”  Interestingly enough, the woman who made that comment to me has been sending me marketing materials for me to go to her events, non-stop, and I had considered going. But as soon as she made that remark, the doors in my mind shut and I knew in that moment I would not do business with her, nor would I refer anybody to her.  Why?  Because the trust was gone. It’s essential that your clients trust you.

Think about how it’s going to affect you, and your work, if you have a knee-jerk reaction and just bark off insensitive comments to somebody who reveals an inner feeling.  You could lose an opportunity, and it’s not just one opportunity, in that moment, your reputation could be crushed forever.  Are you willing to risk that?

Pause and Consider

Here’s what I suggest you do.  You don’t need to be a therapist, counselor or social worker. But you do need to be human. So stop, pause, consider, and think over the words you heard the person say. Then, before opening your mouth to respond, think through what might be behind their words and what you didn’t hear.  There is often more being revealed in the non-spoken words than what is actually coming out of somebody’s mouth.

The opposite of a thoughtless remark, that can cost you everything, is a thoughtful remark that will be pleasantly remembered. One of my favorite quotes of all times is Maya Angelou’s, “People will forget what you did. They will forget what you said. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

And though we’ve all heard the argument that no one makes us feel anything, and we are responsible for our own emotions, there isn’t a person alive who can’t agree that others actions towards us can have a great deal to do with how we feel inside.

Why do you think bullies are so successful in causing emotional pain?  Why do you think coaches that help people with self-esteem are in such demand?

Why We Succeed

As I said before you don’t need to be a therapist, a social worker, or a counselor.  But be human. That’s our commonality.  It doesn’t take a lot of education and it doesn’t take years of experience as a business owner. This is why the members of my High Stakes Mastermind Groups are so valuable; because they come from varied backgrounds and different levels of experience. And yet every single one of them has a wonderful ability to contribute and to support each other.  You will never hear members say to each other, “Oh get over it!”

That’s where my own listening skills have come in handy for me. Because the people I have in the Mastermind groups exhibit the empathetic behaviors that it takes to stop, pause, hear and then respond.

I have not said that the respondent needs to agree with the commenter. I only said they need to be considerate and not lash out with something that could be hurtful, rude or inappropriate.

The next time somebody mentions that something caused them pain, rise to the occasion, and opportunity, to offer a moment of affirmation.  People won’t forget how you made them feel. And if it makes them feel good, they’ll remember for a lifetime.

 

7 Reasons You Want a Trained Facilitator

Photo by Stefan Stefancik
How is it Different?

As a facilitator, one of the most consistent questions I’m asked about my mastermind groups is, “Is it a networking group?”

While there’s no doubt that networking certainly occurs between the members of the mastermind group, relationships are built and cross referrals happen on a consistent and regular basis.

But at the end of the day, true mastermind groups and networking groups are very different. In a networking group you’ll meet lots of people and it’s really up to you whether you build on those relationships; and have coffee with people outside the regular meetings, or talk to each other about your businesses.

There may also be educational sessions, but nobody’s holding you accountable to make sure that you apply what you’ve learned. But a mastermind group is significantly different. A mastermind group is about accomplishing your goals and holding you accountable to build and grow your own business. And the only way that that’s going to happen is to have a skilled and trained facilitator at the helm.

Here are seven more reasons why having a skilled facilitator is so important.
  1. Not the Chairperson of the Board

A trained Mastermind facilitator knows how to bring out the discussion. They know how to make sure that no one person overwhelms the conversation and monopolizes the group’s time while others sit back quietly, not speaking.  And not being heard.

They will make sure the meeting moves according to the agenda but draw out participation from everyone.

Trained facilitators know how to keep the Mastermind groups structured and moving so that there is value for every minute spent in the Mastermind.

  1. Unbiased

Having an “outsider”, as trained facilitator will also ensure you that you have an impartial and unbiased individual guiding your group. When you have a facilitator who is not a part of your organization, and is completely unbiased yet cares deeply about the success of each individual member, than members of the Mastermind group feel comfortable in confiding with the group. The outside facilitator makes the Mastermind group of safe space to speak honestly, opening without fear of reprisal or embarrassment.

  1. Have Your Success Top of Mind

A trained facilitator also has the skill set to make group members successful.  Mastermind group members grow their businesses at a much greater rate than individuals who are not in Mastermind groups.  If you want your investment to pay off join a group with a trained facilitator.

The facilitator doesn’t answer to a corporation whose agenda must be met.  They have a vested interest in individual member success.  Every member’s.  No other business group environment can equal that claim.  Gymnastics teams yes, business groups – you’re not going to find anything comparable.

  1. Not Your One-to-One Coach

While there can be elements of coaching in a mastermind group the facilitator’s purpose is to make sure that all of the members participate, and help all members with value-adding suggestions; giving resources so that each member has a plethora of information they can apply to their own businesses.  In our groups sometimes the “homework” assignment for one translates into similar goals for the rest of the members.  There’s a good deal of anticipation for the next meeting, “How did yours go?”

Trained Mastermind facilitators are knowledgeable about goal setting and accountability. They know how to make it much more effective than simple brainstorming sessions.  If you want to get things done, be in a Mastermind group with a trained facilitator.

If you want to accomplish your goals you’ll get better “bang for your buck” by going with a group that has a trained Mastermind group facilitator.

  1. It’s a Dirty Job – But Someone’s Gotta Do It

It isn’t a dirty job. Not at all, not even close.  But it did get you to keep reading!

Your facilitator will take on all the logistics of your meeting: time, place, refreshments, note taking, follow-up, message boards, PR, meeting agendas, honestly the list goes on.  And we love doing it.  Even the administrative parts of everything behind the scenes is an aspect that makes for healthy, thriving and productive groups.  Thriving productive groups are comprised of thriving and productive individuals.

  1. Celebrating Your Success

What a party!  We have the same pride in our individual member’s successes as we would if they were our kids.  Like peacocks puffing their chests out.  It’s like, “We did that together!” when one person achieves a milestone, or a goal.  Whether it’s learning to do their own accounting or landing the most elusive client for a six-figure project.  Every success is a celebration. Just writing this blog makes me look forward to our next meeting!

  1. Full Circle

We’re talking about trained facilitators here, right?  So we’re talking about people who have spent their own money and time to complete a course or certification; an investment in themselves so that they can translate that into an investment into you. If you’re a member of a group and your success is stemming from your facilitator’s skills – then tell someone.  Tell a lot of someones.  Give credit where it’s due.  Your facilitator succeeds when you succeed. It comes back to them full circle.

Strategic Thinker – Sometimes You’re Not Born That Way

Photo by Jonathan Simcoe

A friend of mine, who I found to be the consummate strategic thinker, was a sales and franchising expert. He spent years consulting with people who had sunk their saving into franchises because they were sold on the promises of making money “in their sleep”.  Now they were overworked and in debt.

I’m not saying buying into a franchise is a poor choice.  Not at all.  If you’re prepared, educated, have the funds and are ready to put it a lot of hours.  Practice being a strategic thinker. Think intentionally before you commit.  That’s true of any business decision.  And strategic thinking doesn’t mean you mull over it endlessly.  It means look at the decision from every angle – top, bottom, sides and end to end.  In his article Are You A Strategic Thinker? Test Yourself, Peter Walsh lets you answer for yourself.

Let’s just bring it into a smaller scope for the sake of this blog – your individual business.

Rather than constantly reacting to everything that comes up, keep it a list of the regular questions that your customers, clients, friends and contacts are consistently asking you. Do people at networking events ask you the same questions over and over?  Then the strategic move would be to answer the questions before they are asked. Be prepared with what you need to say, or do, in order to answer your client’s questions.  Anticipate them.

Sometimes the biggest barrier to strategic thinking is simply having the time to think at all. people who allow themselves time to quietly think and reflect upon choices and “the big picture” find ways to connect what would never otherwise have been connected at all and therefore come up with the most brilliant ideas, or comfortably decide which projects to pursue. Like Bill Gates’ famous “Think Weeks”.

Practice being a critical thinker – and not one that’s easily sold on every idea that’s thrown your way. Some people are easy targets for every “shiny object” that’s set before them. Practice saying “no” and giving yourself time to reflect and do research.

The solopreneurs and entrepreneurs I work with nearly always tell me that in one way or another they feel alone, isolated, even “in a silo”.  The best way out of that stifling position is to join a mastermind group. There, in the right group that is, you will feel empowered, energized, respected, trusted, and valued. And you will exercise your strategic thinking.

Most successful strategic thinkers are not born that way but they learned to exercise their strategic thinking “mental muscle” and the best place to do that is in a mastermind group. In a mastermind group you can get honest feedback and fresh ideas from other individuals. There you can verbalize your thoughts and gain clarity from others.  Leaving you the opportunity to make informed decisions.

“Internal” mastermind groups that are within a single organization, work well to develop and enhance strategic thinking.  They are most successful when lead by an outside facilitator who has no bias within the company.

Mastermind groups where not everyone belongs to the same company, or the same industry, are the most beneficial way to do this. In a group of people from different disciplines and different levels of expertise you will get new and fresh ideas in the least homogenized fashion.

There you will also find accountability where your feet are “held to the fire” in the most supportive way so that if you tend towards “analysis paralysis” you’ll be forced to make decisions. That force is what exercises your muscle. It’s a little uncomfortable but over time it helps you think better faster, stronger and more clearly.  Before you know it, voila, you’re a strategic thinker.

 

 

 

The Price You Pay for Procrastination

Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face

The Price You Pay

After wracking my brain over and over for just the right way to start this blog I came to terms with the fact that I had a mental roadblock about procrastination. I was procrastinating.  Ironic, right?  After all this is a blog about the price we pay for procrastination.  So here we go –

The great news is that I’ve been getting a lot of attention and inquiries into Mastermind group membership. The interesting part is that several of the people have said that they need to wait until after the summer. But how much is at stake and what price do they pay for not joining when opportunity is available?

First of all, the longer you procrastinate with anything the more you prevent yourself from meeting your goals. When well-meaning people want to get things accomplished before starting membership in a mastermind group, it’s the participation itself that’s going to get their goals accomplished.  So they defeat the purpose! The reality is that you are far less likely to meet your goals because you procrastinated and no one held you accountable.

Having goals and tasks in your Mastermind group isn’t any different from having goals and tasks already for your business.  Except they are clarified, specific, on-target and purposeful.  Not time-consuming fluff.  They are  goals and tasks that your Mastermind group is helping you be accountable for completing.  So time is really not the issue because you will be far more efficient in the time that you spend on getting your goals and tasks accomplished.

All the work that you’ll do is the work that you need to do to grow your business. It’s the work you would be doing anyway just better faster and stronger, more meaningful and more goal-oriented. You will be working on your business not just in it.

Whether it’s a big project you’re working on, like writing a book or landing a defined number of clients, your goal is far more likely to be achieved with the help of the Mastermind group. The power of the group pulls you out of the depths of procrastination and is the best way to move you from mental road-block to action.

So why wait?

Secondly, when you allow yourself to procrastinate it tends to have a rollover effect. You put something off for one day and then becomes easier to put it off for a week. Before you know it you start procrastinating for two weeks and then a month, and it just rolls on from there.

Holding yourself accountable to your goals – and being held accountable by others is a surefire way to make sure that you don’t procrastinate.

Being in a Mastermind group, a good one that is, is a guarantee that the little slip-ups don’t become bigger. It’s your best bet to make sure that you don’t allow yourself to accept the little things that get by and begin to ignore and excuse repeated stalling.

Your Mastermind group members won’t let you. The same is true for your participation in the Mastermind group for them.  They depend on you to make sure that they are held accountable to meeting their goals as well.   It’s a win-win for everybody.

The third way that you pay the price for procrastination is it reflects poorly on you.  If you allow yourself a reputation as somebody who just lets things slip and you keep finding excuses, “Well maybe I’ll just call after lunch” and in the afternoon you think, “Well maybe it’s too late in the day and I’ll call tomorrow morning.” But tomorrow morning you think, “Oh they’re probably just too busy.”  Pretty soon you’ve developed a reputation for being somebody that people won’t want to work with because they can’t trust you to follow through.

My least favorite excuse from people who take overly and unreasonably-long to follow through (or never at all) is “I’m just so busy!”  We’re all busy.  Saying you’re too busy implies that you think no one else is, and that your lack of follow-through won’t adversely affect someone else.  It’s as if you assume they aren’t equally busy.

Remember your Mastermind group is shopping you just as much as you’re shopping them. You could be turned you away for not being dependable. Your group probably wants to keep the space open for somebody who they know they can count on.

In this day of business competition you can’t afford to have a reputation at someone who does not follow through.

Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face

According to The Grammarist, the idiom to “cut off your nose to spite your face” means you shouldn’t do something out of spite or revenge that will end up causing more harm to you than to the person with which you are angry. In other words, do not let your overreaction lead to self-harm.

I’ve also heard the figure of speech in much “tamer” situations; just causing yourself more harm than good for silly, selfish or even egotistical reasons.

Being too busy hoping to meet your goals, to actually meet your goals in a Mastermind is one of them.  The best way to get beyond procrastination is don’t procrastinate. Stop paying the price. No matter what your nose looks like.