Give Thanks! Fire, Aim, Ready.

Last week we explored what it was to be “on purpose”.  The various meanings of the word and the importance of living a purposeful life or working within a purposeful organisation.  It has been very encouraging that so many readers have commented on the post and that the ideas resonated with many of you so well.  Thank you also for the feedback: it is always welcome!  I wish you all success in thinking more about what it is to lead a more purposeful life and continuing the quest to find more meaning in it and in the work you do.

This week I want to deepen that thinking and explore the relationship between purpose and the main aims (or goals) that cause us to line-up the activities that we perform as we go about our day-to-day lives both at home and at work.  I believe that this process is at the heart of what it is to be successful.  Indeed, success is a very personal and subjective thing.  Sure, others might judge your success – but that is by THEIR opinion, not yours.  It is important to shape the factors that will make you successful by moulding them out of what you are and what you want to be.  Sourced from your passions and purpose, as it were.

It is a perfect time of the year to look back and look forwards.  Particularly as today in Thanksgiving in the Americas.  Even if you are not from that part of the world, it is a useful exercise to be grateful for all that has happened to you in the past year and for the friendships and experiences you have had.

At the same time, it is also worth looking forwards.  Thinking about the habits that you want to grow, or the ones that you want to release.  Thinking about the ideas or relationships you want to nurture and the ones you want to celebrate or change.

There is an old phrase “Ready, Aim, Fire” that covers the stages you go through when firing an arrow at a target.  For a bit of amusement, I decided to reverse the order of these three steps to see what new thinking might emerge.  It ended up as  “Fire, Aim, Ready”.  Not a very significant sequence of events if you want to hit a target, you might think.

FIRE

But wait!  What if we use the word “Fire” in some slightly different meanings: FIRE that you are fired-up by – or FIRE when you have a “burning platform” that needs immediate attention – or FIRE when we fire someone from work or a relationship.

If you write down your purpose and underneath put the three or four things that are firing you up at the moment or that they need immediate attention, then FIRE becomes a good first step to deciding the few things on which you should focus.  Either because they are important (as in fired-up) or because they are urgent (as in burning platform) or else you want to be rid of it (as in “you’re fired”).  What few things do you want to add, act on urgently or get rid of in your life?  For me, I have a bonfire worth of business books that have been lying up against the wall on the landing for the past year!

AIM

By listing-out these few aims (or goals) and then understanding what sort of change is needed in your life, you can then try to envisage what life would be like with more (or less) of the factor.  New role at work, more time with family, change-out the car, less time tripping over books.  That sort of thing.
At this stage, it is so important to write these ideas down on a bit of paper.  Sure, a computer will do, but somehow writing them down on paper and referring to them on a regular basis helps speed the process to achieving the aim – and either adding to or subtracting from the fire!  They need to be the bigger things in your life.  Otherwise, you will bury yourself in a long to-do list.  If this happens, try to pick the top five or six ideas and work on them.

READY

If nothing else, by doing this exercise in the next few days, you will be in a better position to shape your ideas, projects and activities as we move into 2016 and be ready to design some bold, boring or fun New Year’s resolutions over the next few weeks ahead of the rush.  Typically, in the past, I have jotted my resolutions down on a paper napkin with a hangover from the holiday period on 1st January and then throw them out with the rest of the excess paper a few days later!  It is only in the past few years that I have become a bit more disciplined – but I still have a way to go.

Writing out your aims and then having the discipline to review them regularly reaps the rewards.  Not least, by the above definition of success, you will be much more effective in aligning your activities to your purpose and living a more fulfilling life!

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Next week we will focus on how you can measure your aims (or goals) by breaking each one into a series of defined objectives.  Not only will this allow you to envision more clearly what success looks like, but it will also let you recognise success when you arrive at your destination sometime in the future!

If you are interested in digging deeper into these ideas in the New Year – as well as wanting some help to accelerate success in achieving your aims and objectives, then please do email me at lorne@objectivedesigners.com and I will send you some additional information in December.

And to add a Zen-like koan at the end of all of this just to get you thinking even harder (or not at all):

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” 

Lao Tzu

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Oh, and some of you have kindly asked about my friend’s planning application that I wrote about two weeks ago.  The inquiry has been adjourned until 21st December – so we might well not know the outcome until the New Year – but I’ll keep you posted when I know the result!

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The Single Most Important Ingredient for a Great Product Launch

This week’s “Thursday Thoughts” is one in a series on Product Launches – a subject that I find fascinating and so important to growing a successful business.

So, what is the single most important ingredient of a great product launch?  We need to look no further than the film (or movie) industry – and to a quote Shawn Amos:

“Every major summer blockbuster that is released is essentially a product line being launched across multiple verticals. However, the centerpiece of the product launch is a big, beautiful story whose job is to entertain.”

I believe that the single most important ingredient for any successful launch is to frame a “big, beautiful story whose job is to entertain”.  Think about it.  A story that describes a personal journey.  Your personal journey with all the ups-and-downs and trials and triumphs that go to make us all human.

Our Story

And so, in the closing two days of Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula (a once-in-a-year opportunity to see the master in action), Jeff has offered two personal but quite different stories that show how changing the way you think about a product by re-framing it around a product launch can literally transform people’s lives.

The first story is from Barry who overcame a life-changing accident to go on and organise and teach those who make a living from entertaining.

The second is from Shelly – a very different story of a mother trying to juggle the three forces of family, paying work and passion.

Watch the videos and work out what you can learn from each of them.  See how the personal stories create a different way of thinking.  By building your business around a series of launches (and great stories), rather than flogging a me-too product, you can create a new sense of drive and momentum.  Think hard about how you can apply the learnings to (re-)launch your own products and services and create a new sense of purpose and heartbeat to your marketing campaigns.

Of all the research I have done into this area, Jeff’s strategies and teachings are second-to-none.  And it can be applied to book launches too!

If you think that there is value in digging deeper into the Product Launch Formula, then I thoroughly recommend that you sign up for Jeff’s programme – which will only be available for the next day or two.  Otherwise, you will have to wait another year for the offer to come around again!

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You Can’t Push String!

After the July/August holiday period, I always enjoy the first week of September.  I see it as the beginning of a new year.  Not the calendar year, nor (in my case) the academic year, but the start of the year for new projects.  People return from asynchronous communication through the holiday period to ramp-up for the more synchronised Autumn/Fall workload.  Like a car moving from third gear to fifth gear or a plane taking off on its flight to the end of the calendar year with a destination ending in a runway towards the next holiday period at the final part of December.  If the financial year starts in January or April, it is the time when new ideas are incubated for the budgeting cycles three to six months out.

With the pick-up in this workload comes the re-prioritisation of relationships.  The number of sales calls I have received in the past few days exceeds those that I had in the whole of August.  In a similar way, the number of calls that I have made to prospective clients to re-open conversations from earlier in the year has also increased.  People are open-minded to new conversations and new opportunities whilst there is a bit of time to play with new ideas.  It is also the start of one of the most busy conference seasons.

All this got me thinking….

What do the following have in common: spam (the email kind), a pushy salesperson and one of those irritating calls trying to sell you some personal accident product you don’t want?

They all involve PUSH.  It is amazing that so many folk still make a living at it when we all know that salesmen don’t SELL: people BUY.  Good sales folk understand timing and cycles and simply line up their products and services so that they are the easiest and most top-of-mind for the prospective customer to pull off the shelf when the are ready to buy.

But it is not quite as simple as that……

Tin Cans

Do you ever remember putting a hole in the bottom of two tin cans and then stringing the cans together with a long piece of string to make a crude telephone?  I often cite this as a useful metaphor for how we might think about the way we communicate with our customers (and suppliers) in business.  It isn’t about ignoring pushy sales folk and only pulling when you are ready.  It’s about something I call “@TENSION”.  Let me explain in terms of a children’s playground with the tin can telephone.

Firstly, there are those kids in the playground that don’t want to play the game at all.  Their attention (@TENSION) is somewhere else.  They are into another game with other kids.  They are not in our game.  So we will exclude them.

Then there are those who are interested in the tin can telephone game.  They pick up one can.  They need someone else on the other end of the string to play with.  So they pull someone from the playground to pick up the other end of the line.

By “feeling the pull”, understanding who is pulling, why they are pulling and how hard they are pulling, we can gain important insights into interest, motivations, demands and communications skills.

Further, by understanding these different aspects of pull, we can seek out those who will play our game and give each other interesting and rewarding experiences.  Given the right amount of “@tension”, new players will respond with delight and enthusiasm – not least because they are being listened to and communicating in ways that are proportionate to the pull that they are giving.  

However, if you pull too hard on their string, you will become an irritant and get dumped.  If you don’t pull enough, the other end of the line will lose interest because they cannot communicate and move onto another string.  I call this “subtle pull”.  You have to pull at roughly the same strength as the other end is pulling.  Appropriate response.  Sufficient @tension for the line.  

You can’t push string.  You can only pull it.  Too much pull from either party and the line breaks.  Oftentimes for good!  

So the next time you think of a customer or supplier or player in your game, just think about an invisible string that connects you to them.  How taught is it?  Is it completely slack?  How much “@tension” has it got?  How much are they pulling?  How much pull should you give “in the moment” to be effective at continuing the conversation?  Who has their ear to the can and who is talking into it?

And at this particular time of the year, how many strings will you tighten.  Will you be listening or speaking?  Can you really manage those ten strings when you could probably be more successful in just focusing on three or four?

So it’s back to school for the children and back to the subtle pull of business relationships for the rest of us!  Good luck with all of your new projects and ventures get the @tension that they deserve!

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Zen and the Art of Business Conversation

It is August and the holidays are here!  For many, July and August are the months for rest and recuperation and spending time with family on holiday.  For those that live in the northern parts of the Northern hemisphere, it is a time for getting some sun on our skins before the longer winter months kick in again.
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For many, it is also a time of reflection.  For although the calendar year starts in January, September is the start of the academic year and August is the gap before the start of the new year.  I have found that many businesses are tuned to the academic calendar – either directly (like a University or School) or indirectly (because many of their employees have children who set a cycle in the family geared around their academic needs).
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So it got me thinking.  Most of my great ideas have come from a time when I am not thinking about day-to-day stuff.  Those magic, “Eureka!” moments when a problem you have been working on suddenly becomes solvable.
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By not being hampered by the grind of meetings, actions and to-do lists, we can solve old problems and creating new ideas.  Finding a gap in the year’s day-to-day grind to think big, think outside the box or just not think at all and let nature take its course often relaxes you in ways you can’t achieve at other times of the year.
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There is an old saying that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as long as we speak.  And so it is with the summer break.  There is a gap in proceedings where we can listen.  Not just listen to those who we work with.  But listen to ourselves.  Our inner mind.  Our inner bodies.  Our inner spirit.  We can refresh each other with the rest and easy living that we often over-ride in the rest of the year.
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So, back the Art of Business Conversation.  For my own part, I have been working on a new way to look at businesses through the conversations we have.  The Art of Business Conversation, if you like.  As simple as ABC.  Except it isn’t, is it?  It is quite complicated.
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There are several different types of business conversation (which I aim to explore more in future posts).  The most intense are often wrapped up in emotional outbursts or things unsaid.
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The key is to find space within the conversation to reflect.  On an annual cycle, this time of the year gives us time to reflect on the longer-term relationships we all have with the businesses and people we work with.  Either as employees; business owners; customers; suppliers; that funny, over-used word “partners”; or simply the friends and relations that weave in and out of those conversations.
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And that is where the idea of Zen comes in.  Zen is the space between.  Zen is the effortless flow.  Zen is the silent, observant onlooker onto our busy world of nothingness.  Zen is the state to get into before returning to the ABC of business, academia and all those things where we sequence stuff and continue our practice of the art of business conversation.
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So, enjoy the break.  Listen to the silence.  Observe the subtle messages coming from the conversation with yourself.  Say nothing and say everything.  Come back refreshed and energised to take on the new challenges that you discover in the hidden moments of this August recess.
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What’s Your Favourite Colour?

I’ve always been fascinated by colour and believed that men and women see colours differently.  So I was both interested – and not surprised to see what researchers have found on the subject.  It proves that men and women not only prefer different colours, they also see more hues of colour than men.  Men, on the other hand, prefer shades.  Perhaps it goes back to our ancestors, where women were more attuned to gathering different types of fruit and men were looking for subtle shadows of beasts behind a bush.  Who knows?  Makes you think, though!

By the way, my favourite colour is blue!  But I was surprised that no men liked purple!  It was my favourite colour once as a teenager.  Before I turned to red – and eventually to blue.  I wonder if others have changed their preferences through their lives?

Oh, and just for fun, why not put down your favourite colour in the comments box below – and we’ll see if the research is borne out by those who read the blog.

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The Hidden Treasure

The Creator gathered all of creation and said,

“I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it.

It is the realisation that they create their own reality.”

The eagle said, “Give it to me, I will take it to the moon.”

The Creator said, “No.  One day they will go there and find it.”

The salmon said, “I will hid it on the bottom of the ocean floor.”

“No.  They will go there too.”

The buffalo said, “I will bury it on the great plains.”

The Creator said, “They will cut the skin of the earth and find it even there.” ….

Then Grandmother Mole…. who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes,

said, “Put it inside them” [for that is the last place they will look.]

The Creator said, “it is done.”

An old Sioux Indian Fable from “Somebody Should Have Told Us! (Simple Truths for Living Well) by Jack Pransky

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Streep, Einstein and Mouse

I was recently sent this quote:

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.

I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

It was attributed to Meryl Streep.  On a bit of further research, it appeared that the original quote was not by Meryl Streep at all – but by a Portuguese self-help author/life coach José Micard Teixeira.

 

StreepEinstein

The research (and subsequent discovery of a mis-attribution) reminded me of another quote, supposedly by Einstein:

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left.  No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

No one has found evidence that Einstein was the source.

And so it is.  There are great quotes and famous people.  Many times, famous people say great things.  But with the internet, great quotes can go viral – particularly when attributed to a famous person who is likely to have said it.

Makes you think.  The power of great thoughts that go viral by being mis-attributed to famous people might actually be a good thing – particularly if they spread those great thoughts further than if they were attributed to a Portuguese self-help author that no one has heard of.

Famous people come and go.  But great quotes and great thoughts live on forever.  Even before the Internet, how many great quotes remain in current parlance having been written by the famous Anon E. Mouse!

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If I had my life to live over

I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.

I’d relax, I would limber up.

I would be sillier than I have been this trip.

I would take fewer things seriously.

I would take more chances.

 

I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.

I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would perhaps have more actual troubles,

but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

 

You see, I’m one of those people who live

sensibly and sanely hour after hour,

day after day.

 

Oh, I’ve had my moments,

And if I had it to do over again,

I’d have more of them.

In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.

Just moments, one after another,

instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

 

I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere

without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat

and a parachute.

If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

 

If I had my life to live over,

I would start barefoot earlier in the spring

and stay that way later in the fall.

I would go to more dances.

I would ride more merry-go-rounds.

I would pick more daisies.

Attributed to Nadine Stair, 85 years old

More on other versions at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moments_(poem)

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The Prince of Promises and the Grains of Salt

Once upon a time in a land far from here there lived a wise King. As he neared the end of his life, his barons gained in strength and the King was forced to pass many laws which gave away power.  The kingdom became a less certain place.
The King’s eldest son, (nicknamed “The Prince of Promises”) was a quiet and thoughtful man, but was unsure of his own position in the court. He was full of good ideas and promised many things to many people when he would become King – but few now listened to him for they thought his promises were empty.
Time passed and the King became ill. Whilst he lay on his death bed, the Prince asked his father “What is the one thing that you have learnt that you want to tell me before you pass on?”
The father said “Go and seek counsel from the wise man in the mountains. He has taught me so much. He lives in an old hut that has a blue door and with a yellow circle. Ask him about the story of the grains of salt”.
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When the King finally passed away, there was a week of mourning. Soon after, the recently crowned Young King (who some now called the King of Promises) set off to the mountains to seek out the wise old man. The court, by then, was running itself with the barons creating much discontent and division in the lands.
After several weeks of travel through some very treacherous areas, the Young King arrived at a modest hut which had no sign, save the blue door with the yellow circle. He knocked and a voice said “Please come in”.
The wise old man was very natural and very gentle and said “Ah, you must be the Prince”. The Young King said “No longer a Prince. My father died last month and I am now King and have come to seek your counsel.”
Within the hour, the Young King was relaxed and finally mustered the courage to say to the wise old man “My father told me on his death bed to ask you about the story of the grains of salt. Can you tell it to me, please?”
The wise old man sighed and said “Of course!”. He lit up a pipe, drew deeply on it whilst closing his eyes. He then started to hum with a low droning noise before reopening his eyes. Looking directly at the Young Prince he started the story.
“When your father was much younger, the land was in chaos. There had been a civil war and the barons were very powerful. Your father had a good mind, which was full of many good ideas, but he had trouble putting them into practice. Before he had time to act on one thought, another would enter his mind. Maybe you have some of that in you?” he asked with a wry smile, knowing the Young King’s former nickname of the Prince of Promises.
The Young King nodded in agreement. The wise old man continued.
“Ideas are like grains of salt. There are many ideas and many grains of salt in this world. However, a single idea that is shaped into something that others understand is like 10 grains of salt. An idea that is shaped further into something that can help solve a problem is like 100 grains of salt. An idea that is shaped further into something that for people to buy because it is valuable to them is the equivalent to 1000 grains of salt. And an idea that is so useful that the majority of the kingdom will buy into it is worth a mountain of salt.”
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“And so it is, Young King.” he continued. “Be careful about who you share your many ideas with and who you give your promises to. The effectiveness of your reign will be dissolved very quickly unless the ideas that you have are simple enough to explain and useful enough to grow into the larger mountains of wisdom that you will be remembered for.”
The Young King thanked the wise old man and a day or two later, he returned to the Capital of his Kingdom. On his return he spoke a lot less, gave out far fewer promises and was much more considered in his ideas and opinions. He also listened a lot more to his subjects before laying down any new laws. His subjects said that he had been transformed from the Prince of Promises into the King of Contemplation. Some even called him the Salt King – for he re-told the story to many in his court.
He ruled for a further 35 year and although he made very few new laws, each one was very effective. At his bequest, he was buried under a nearby mountain – which was made entirely of pink salt.
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To this day, that mountain still exists in the Himalayas.
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The Seven Questions of Innovation

Sometimes you get stuck.  You can’t think of a way out.

Well, it’s not the first time!  Mankind has a long history of innovation.

This video explains it beautifully – and gives us seven questions to ask when you get stuck:

Go on! Try it!  Ask the seven questions:

1.  What can we imagine?

2.  What can we look at differently?

3.  What can we use differently?

4.  What can we move?

5. What can we interconnect?

6. What can we alter?

7.  What can we make?

That’s all very well if you are a guy (like me) and trying to fix things to make things better.  But what about the emotional side of the equation?  Jason Headley has another (perhaps much more brilliant video) which should amuse those that find communication skills between the sexes more challenging:

 

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