The volume of information and stimuli coming at us every day makes it more difficult to focus than ever. To do the careful thinking that decision making and leadership require, you must step back from the noise of the world. Schedule 15-minute breaks at least once or twice a day to sit quietly in your office or take a walk. Commit to these breaks as you would any meeting or appointment; if you don’t schedule moments of quiet, something else will fill the time. Use them to think about your to-do list, especially the tasks you should stop doing. Solitude gives you the space to reflect on where your time is best spent. Try to get clarity on which meetings you should stop attending, which committees you should step down from, and which invitations you should politely decline.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson worked hard to become a top NFL player. He worked out, practiced and was on his way, receiving a full scholarship to play football at University ion Miami. While he had all the makings of a pro football player, his career was brought to a halt by an injury. Unable to continue as a football player, he had to find a new path.
Many businesses find it necessary to change paths, and many companies have a hard time doing it. Polaroid and Kodak both had difficulty pivoting when the digital camera emerged. Toys R US found it difficult to deal with consumers shopping online. Whatever the change you need to face, here are three tips for starting a successful pivot.
- Take Inventory: What are the specific skills, abilities, products, unique selling points, etc. that you and your business have?
- Look at new opportunities: How can the items in your inventory be used in other ventures? Find new ways to apply your strengths.
- Evaluate the pivot cost: What are the costs involved in shifting your abilities to the new venture? Can it be done easily or will you need additional investments in time, money, or skills? If you need to make an additional investment, is the return worth it?
Following these steps will give you a good idea of what paths you can follow when the one your on is no longer viable.
You are a superstar. Everyone knows it. You are the one to turn to when something needs to be done. This usually results in an abundance of requests for assistance. You want to help everyone, but saying yes to everyone isn’t helping them. Worst of all it is not only detrimental to the people you’re trying to help, it’s bad for you.
Stretching yourself too thin affects the work you are doing and your physical and mental well-being. When you pile too much into your schedule:
- You do not focus on any one task, as you are trying to juggle multiple deadlines. This results in the work being completed with a lower level of quality than you would otherwise provide. Worse, you could miss the deadline all together and not complete the task.
- You begin to suffer from mental exhaustion, which keeps you from concentrating properly.
- The stress affects your physical health. There comes a point where your body tells you to stop, whether you want to or not.
Keep your work and your health at its peak by being honest and telling people when you cannot fit anything else into your schedule.
By law financial advisors are required to act with fiduciary responsibility. This means they are required to put the client’s best interests before there own. This is a concept that isn’t just for financial advisors, it should be applied in every industry.
Your customer is the reason you are in business. Your customer is the reason you get paid. You are there to solve a problem for your customer. For these reasons and many others, you should be putting your customer before yourself. It is a step above customer service. It is about trust. When your customer knows that they are taken care of they come back over and over again. They refer more clients to you because they know you will take care of the people they refer.
In an episode of “Mad Men” Peter Campbell is told that Ken Cosgrove is getting a job they were both competing for. The reason he is given is that while he makes his clients feel that their needs are being met, Ken makes his clients feel as if they have no needs. Meeting a client’s needs is about them telling you what they need and you filling that need. Making a client feel as though they have no needs is about building a trust in which they feel they don’t need to say anything because they trust that you’ve already taken care of it for them.
Serving a customer is about creating an experience that the customer feels safe and happy. Building trust is a crucial part of it.
Studies show that Americans are taking less vacation than they ever have before. In fact, more than half of Americans (55%) let their vacation days go to waste, which equates to 658 million unused vacation days. Remember, this is paid time off — by not taking your allotted days, you’re essentially volunteering for your company. Forgoing your vacation might be worth it if doing so made you more successful, but studies show that people who take more vacation days are actually more likely to receive a raise or a bonus. So, go away! Plan ahead, too: Your vacation will only improve your energy and outlook upon returning to work if you plan it at least a month in advance and get far away from work (that’s physical and emotional distance). And be sure to relax. A stressful vacation eliminates any of the positive benefits of taking time off.
On an episode of “Lockdown” a prison warden spoke with a member of jailhouse gang. The problem being addressed was that there was a steady stream of contraband coming in and the guards couldn’t figure out how to stop it. Speaking candidly the prisoner stated that they had 24 hours a day to figure out how to get things in while the guards only had 8-hour shifts to figure out how to stop it.
The prisoner brought up a good point. When all other resources are limited, time is incredibly valuable. Time and effort are as valuable, if not mores, than money. Ask anyone who has bootstrapped a startup. What money can buy, time and effort can build. Since time is so valuable, it should be not be wasted. Here are some tips for reclaiming wasted time:
- Track your time: if you know where you’re spending your time you can decide if its wasted or not. How long do spend surfing the web, reading posts on Facebook, or playing games on your phone? A little is relaxing. Too much is wast]ing time. There is no hard and fast rule as to where the line between the two is, you have to decide that for yourself.
- Don’t multitask: Studies have shown that tasks get done faster and better when you focus on one at a time.
- Turn off your phone: Sometimes to focus you need to eliminate distractions. Turn off your phone and disable email notifications. You can return them when you’re ready.
There are two ways to approach your goals: You can be flexible, and let the next steps evolve as you work toward your objective, or you can be rigid, and set specific actions to take. To decide which approach you should use, ask yourself how difficult your goal will be to achieve, how invested you are in achieving it, and what else you have on your plate. In situations where your goal is relatively simple and you’re highly motivated to achieve it, a flexible approach typically works best. In situations where the change required is difficult and you feel less engaged, lay out a firm sequence of steps. And be mindful of your track record. If you struggle with follow-through, or you find that there are simply too many priorities competing for your attention, you’ll need a rigid approach to pursuing your goal.
In martial arts, practitioners are taught to aim through their target. The reason for this is that people tend to slow or halt their momentum as they approach a target. To hit a target with maximum power, you don’t stop your movement until you are past your target. The same principle applies to business.
In order to get the most out of your goals, aim past them. If you want five new customers, aim for ten. If you want $1 million in new revenue, aim for $1.5 million. By pushing through you are not only more likely to achieve your goal, but exceeding the goal leaves you in a better position for the next goal. Even if you don’t achieve the higher goal, you have achieved your actual goal.
The additional effort you put forth to raise the bar boosts your efficiency, enhances your productivity, and increases your momentum. Push through your goal and achieve more.
When developing a strategy, you need to put your capabilities first. If your strategy depends on capabilities that you do not possess, the strategy can not succeed. Don’t decide on a strategic direction and then wonder what you need to get there, outperform competitors by leveraging what you and your company do best. Use your capabilities — the people, knowledge, systems, tools, and processes that create value for customers — as the foundation of competitive advantage.
Identify what differentiates your capabilities from your competitors. Figure out what your company does uniquely well, what your customers value, and what your competitors can’t emulate
Far too many people toil away in jobs that leave them dissatisfied. Business owners grab any project they can and dilute their focus. To avoid, or fix, this situation, you need to find your core competency, your focus. How do you determine what your focus is?
1. Figure out what you like to do. If what you enjoy doing most is useful, it ought to be part of your focus.
2. What you do best. Many people spend years trying to improve areas of weakness. Focus your energy on mastering what you’re good at.
3. What is valuable to your company or customer. Figure out how your particular strengths can be used to better your company, customer, unit, or team. A sense of contribution will keep you engaged. When you are engaged, its easier to stay focused.