7 Success Strategies For 2018

People are more anxious and stressed these days. They are working harder with diminishing returns. Just focusing on accomplishing more is not enough in 2018. Research supports the idea that focus on increasing joy and happiness in your life will help you achieve the success you desire. (Over 200 happiness studies of 275,000 people worldwide. “The Happiness Advantage”, Shawn Achor)

This means we have to think differently about success. Happiness is not a by-product of success; instead, happiness leads to success. The following strategies will help you release the brakes and accelerate toward the success you desire. Learn to reduce stress and anxiety, increase your joy, and your productivity will increase.

  1. Take breaks and vacations:

    According to a recent U.S. survey, the average American employee only takes half of their available vacation time. Studies report that taking breaks and vacations from your business reduces stress and heart disease, increases productivity, and improves sleep. The effects are long lasting. When you are happy, relationships, work and life are easier. Just the act of planning a vacation can improve productivity. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, Having something to look forward to can make you happier, and energize you to be more productive. The study suggests taking shorter vacations more often to take advantage of this phenomenon.

    Regular time off is also important. My son in-law has two degrees from Harvard University. He explained the demands on students to perform are great. Many suffer anxiety and stress from the pressure. They would study seven days a week with the occasional self-medicating break. My son in-law would take a break from his studies on Sunday and perform faith-based service (more about this later). He reports this break did not disadvantage him, rather enabled him to refocus his efforts. With these regular breaks, he was able to graduate at the top of his class in his undergraduate and graduate degrees.

    For many years, Bill gates would get away from his business for two separate weeks each year. He called these “Think Weeks” and many innovations at Microsoft emerged from these retreats.

  2. Eliminate energy drains that depress productivity and happiness:

    a. Paper & document handling: Do something with it now, delegate it, defer it, destroy it.
    b. Manage the “Got a minute?” interruptions: By setting a time you are available to give focused attention. Being in control of your day will significantly increase your energy and satisfaction.
    c. Emails: Check only 2x a day. Avoid the dopamine fix of looking every few minutes. This interrupts your concentration and workflow. Stay focused on activities that are most important. It is etiquette to respond within 24 hours. c. d. Smart phones: The irony is these amazing tools are making us dumb, people don’t have to think, they can ask Google or Siri just about anything. We spend a great deal of our productive time distracted by social media. There is a statistic that says using a smartphone is equivalent to smoking two joints. The constant interruptions distract you from being present. One addiction therapist says giving your child a smartphone is like “giving them a gram of cocaine”(Mandy Saligari, June 7, 2017). The smartphone emerged 10 years ago; many of these “addicted” children are distracted workers in our business today.

    Adults are no less connected with the Internet, social media, texts, news alerts and more causing constant interruption. Don’t look at social media during work hours unless it is part of your job. Take time to unplug and turn off your alerts. Take a vacation from your smart devices. You will be happier and more productive.

  3. Learn how to set effective goals:

    Achieving your goals is incredibly satisfying and boosts self-confidence. Having a clear purpose and focus can help you get out of bed in the morning and give you a spring in your step. For goals to be more effective focus on the activities that will help you achieve your goals and eliminate the obstacles. Develop a system that will help track and implement your goal-focused activities.

    For example: If you want to increase your income in 2018, and you have identified a goal you believe you can achieve and a date to achieve that, you are off to a good start. Now work backwards from that date and identify all the activities you must do differently or more of than you are currently doing. These actions may include: cold calling, attending networking events and making new contacts, asking for referrals, making sales presentations and more. These activities are called leading indicators. Engaging in these activities daily will lead to your goal achievement.

    To do lists alone are not enough to help you achieve your goals. You must have a system to integrate your activities into your calendar. A system will keep you focused on activities that move you towards your goals. A system also helps keep you accountable. An example of a system is an activity tracking tool. You may use a program that tracks activities like ASANA, Coach.me, Habitify, Goalplus, Todoist, or any other of your choosing. The best ones integrate with your calendar. You may wish to have an accountability partner or coach you report to on at least a weekly basis. If you need extra help, report daily. Marshall Goldsmith suggests creating a system called the daily questions. This enables you to focus on your goal achieving activities and measure your effort and success everyday.

  4. Manage your energy not your time:

    I took over as CEO of a company needing a major turn around. I worked long hours and took few breaks. My stress increased and my energy decreased. Many executives are in similar situations pushing themselves further and harder. Since the number of hours you have a day is fixed, focus on increasing your energy so the time you spend is more effective.

    In their article “Manage Your Energy Not Your Time”, authors Schwartz and McCarthy conducted a study at Wachovia Bank, which focused on increasing physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy. Revenue for the participants increased 13-20% over the control group.

    What can you do increase your energy?

    Plan to leave work by 5:30pm. You will find with a deadline, you will get more done. You will have more time for renewing activities like exercise, time with family, reading good books, meditating, etc. Some of the most productive people work shorter hours.

    Understand that your cognitive abilities will vary predictably throughout the day. Research shows that the impact of time-of-day accounts for 20% of cognitive performance variance. How you use the time of day will allow you to leverage your energy and cognitive abilities. For most us, our executive brain function, and our ability to concentrate and engage in analytical efforts peaks in the morning until about noon. Our cognitive sharpness and energy fall drastically in the afternoon. This is a great time to engage in more mundane activities like checking email, organization, and expense reports. This would not be a good time to hold a staff meeting that requires the creative participation of all involved.

    In the late afternoon and evening we begin to recover. Psychologists, Mareike Weith and Rose Zacks believe this time is best suited to creative or collaborative thinking which requires less focus than algorithmic thinking of our mornings. Of course, these time trends vary for someone like my wife who finds her greatest ability to concentrate at night and finds her creative rebound in the late morning. The key is to identify your energy and focus rhythm’s and match the work required of you to the time of day where your energy and focus is best applied.

    Exercise more often. Intense exercise helps increase your neurotransmitters and grows new brain cells. Do it five times a week. When you exercise also matters. Morning exercise will help you burn 20% more fat than later after meal workouts. Early exercise also give you’re the advantage of boosting your mood throughout the day. (For more information on exercise and cognitive performance variance, read: “When, The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” by Daniel Pink)

    Improve your diet to improve your energy. The food we eat provides the energy we burn all day. There is a great disparity of the quality of food fuel available. Don’t skip meals; eating the best foods regularly increases your metabolism and available energy.

    Get 7-9 hours of sleep. This will increase your mood, energy, and your ability to concentrate.

  5. Develop personal relationships:

    I have always prided myself on being task focused. I know how to get things done. The problem is that this usually comes at the expense of developing relationships. I suggest scheduling lunch meetings each week with people you want to develop relationships with. Network with people who can mentor you and give you career advice. If you are in a position to be a mentor, make time to help others on your team. This can make a huge impact on the team culture and engagement. It will give you a sense of satisfaction and happiness. It may also provide you with opportunities for increased credibility, responsibility, and income.

    One of my client’s has created a mentorship program where a senior employee is paired with a younger employee to help them with their career goals. Having a senior employee available for mentorship meetings and to advocate on behalf of their mentee’s is strengthen the culture an improving the engagement and satisfaction of all involved.

    If you are a senior executive, network with people outside of the company who can support you. Finding a coach or board of experts that can help hold you accountable and advise you on your goals and strategies. Your personal joy and happiness is tied to your ability to learn and grow as person. Often we are happiest when we are challenged to step outside of our comfort zones.

  6. Help someone in need:

    During 2017, we had a number of natural disasters in the U.S. alone, including floods in Houston, Hurricanes in Florida and Puerto Rico, and fires in California. These events and others have provided numerous opportunities to serve. A less dramatic opportunity to serve came recently to my nineteen-year-old son just before Christmas. He was asked to join a group of young men and young women ages 12-18 that were going caroling to several families in need. He was asked to dress up like Santa Claus. At first he was reluctant. He came back feeling terrific.

    He said he realized that he was able to bring so much joy to the little children in the homes that he visited. He realized, this was not about how he felt, but rather, how he could use his talents to benefit others. We discussed that often he and other youth don’t want to go to service events because they would rather follow selfish pursuits like playing video games, being with their friends “chilling” or even studying. In my sons case, he reported that each time he overcame these selfish desires to serve, he always returned feeling “filled” with joy and gratitude.

    Taking a portion of your time to serve others in your community has multiple benefits. First, it boosts your self-worth and esteem as you engage in helping others that benefit from your experience or efforts on their behalf. Not only does service make you feel better, it has several health benefits including: physical health, mental health, emotional stability, reduces stress, prolongs life, reduces the risk of alzheimer’s disease, and more. It can also boost your career prospects and benefit your business as you engage in corporate philanthropy and employee volunteer programs.

    Find a cause you believe in to support. You don’t have to look far, there are many worthy causes right in your own community. Justserve.org will help you find someone to help in your backyard.

  7. Learn to say no:

    Though there are many worthy causes that merit your attention, saying yes to too many will increase stress and dissatisfaction. If you take on too much, you may do many things poorly instead of a few things well. We all have limits to what we can accomplish. Saying no to some things means we can say yes to our own mental well-being and to the most important things in our lives; like family, faith, and health.

    Saying no can be very difficult for different personalities. Some people are afraid if they say no, no one else will do it. Some are uncomfortable saying no because they feel they are letting others down. Some truly believe they can help everyone and they focus their talents and energy on everyone but themselves. This can lead to burnout and compassion fatigue. This can happen to anyone, but especially health-care providers and non-profit employees. Often their own health suffers as they go about “saving the world.” The danger is their ability to give and help is not sustainable. We want to be able to sustain our efforts. There are certainly seasons in our life when we will be out of balance. We just have to be careful to say no, or our health and energy will say no for us.

Theses strategies will go a long way to helping you have a happy and successful 2018. Feeling better physically, emotionally, and mentally will help you focus the best of you on activities that matters most to you. It will also make you more resilient and prepared to manage the challenges you may face.

The author Spencer Horn is President of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC, Face Your Fears; Learn From Mistakes; Start Beating Yourself Up; The Help You Need To Achieve Your Resolutions; How To Create Success From Failure

Act As If…Today!!!

Experience the fulfillment and happiness of achieving your future goals, your new year’s resolutions TODAY!

Over the years I have learned a principle of success called “act as if”. Believe, think, act, dress, talk and feel like someone who has already achieved success. The idea is to begin to program your subconscious to find ways to help you achieve the success or goals you desire. William James considered by some to be the father of psychology said, “If you want a quality, act as if you have it.” The famous Jack Canfield writes about this principle in his book “The Success Principles”.

It is fascinating how powerful our thoughts are. I heard of a study that looked at why college students drink. Several students reported they drank so they could be more sociable, outgoing and fun. They thought the alcohol helped them to achieve these goals. The experiment divided students into two groups, one with alcohol and the other group were told they were getting alcohol when in fact the drinks where non-alcoholic. The first group with alcohol behaved how you might expect at a college party. The second group, surprisingly, behaved very much the same. Participants laughed and socialized and even behaved as if they were inebriated. The point is; they did not need the alcohol to be outgoing, fun and sociable. They just needed to think they were those things and they were.

If you want to get a promotion at work, start behaving in a way expected of those in the desired position. This will make it easier for management to believe you have the ability to do the job and may help you get the promotion. If you want to lose weight, behave like people who are healthier. If you see yourself as healthy, you will put down the doughnuts and begin eating better and exercising more. As a result, you will lose weight and be healthier. Visualize the success you desire and begin behaving today as if you had achieved the success.

Wayne Dyer wrote a book called, “You’ll See It When You Believe It”. Do you believe this or do you believe the more common maxim, “I’ll believe it when I see it”? If you prefer the scientific method to a principle of faith, consider how many people successful in business, sports, or life believed they would achieve before the evidence of that success appeared. Muhammad Ali said, “I am the greatest. I said that before I even knew I was.”

Perhaps you want more scientific proof that faith works. Within two decades of Einstein discovering his theory of relativity, Dutch physicists Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg made a similarly profound discovery. The units that make up the atom act in a much unexpected way. The mere act of observing atomic particles influenced the way they behaved. Meaning our thoughts influence matter. Thought is what the universe is made of. Matter and energy are two of the forms that thought takes. Everything in the world is made of Atoms. Atoms are made of energy. Energy is made out of thought. This has enormous implications for the power of your thoughts. Your thoughts determine your results in business and in your personal life. Napoleon Hill says “thoughts are things.”

The Heisenberg principle has been applied in psychology. We know that just observing people in test groups influences the outcome of the experiment. You probably behave differently when your boss is watching or your employees behave different when you are watching.

Acting as if, does not mean you have all the answers or know everything you want to know. It means you believe you will know in the future. Several years ago I was consulting for Larry Miller Theater’s in Salt Lake City. I was working for the late, highly successful businessman Larry Miller. He developed one of the largest car dealership operations in the country. He owned the Utah Jazz NBA team and other businesses. My office was right next to the Utah Jazz offices. I was hired to help provide expertise on the IMAX theater Larry was building at his Megaplex development in Sandy, Utah. This was a new venture for him at the time. Larry was very financially successful. I was a consultant with no such wealth. Despite our financial disparity, Larry wanted to learn everything he could from me.

I love the quote, “When you come to a point you have no need to impress anybody, your freedom will begin.” Larry did not need to impress me. He wanted to learn from me, which I believe helped him have more success in his venture. The characteristics exhibited by Larry did not begin when he was successful. They started before and continued on after.

Act as if you are already successful and you will see success come to you. Here are some of the behaviors successful people I know demonstrate. I will be working hard to “Act as if”, with these suggestions in 2016, WILL YOU?

  1. Acknowledge other people’s ideas and contribution:

    Successful people are confident enough to not be threatened by brilliant contributions of others. Always look to lift others up. This in no way will hold you back. Celebrate others successes. Recognizing others good work and contribution builds trust and respect. This will make it easier to get through tough times with team members it will also help them listen when you have to correct or discipline them.

  2. Apologize for offenses and mistakes quickly:

    Be willing to admit when you make mistakes. No one is perfect. Even the most successful leaders make mistakes. Hiding your mistakes will only make things worse. If you have caused offense, address the situation as soon as possible. You want as much help as possible on the way to your goals. Unfortunately, we are often our own biggest stumbling block. Showing humility will get you back on track faster than ignoring or covering up.

  3. Listen:

    When you are talking, you are not learning.

  4. Speak well of others:

    If you truly do not like someone, take advice from Abraham Lincoln who said, “I don’t like that person. I must get to know them better.” You cannot lift yourself by tearing others down.

  5. Be honest:

    The most successful people I know have high levels of integrity. Always tell the truth. This does not mean we have to be harsh and critical as some popular politicians of our day. I have the most respect for successful people who tell it like it is with dignity and respect.

  6. Ask questions:

    This is one of the fastest ways to success. It requires you to think and listen, two habits of highly successful people. Click here to learn more about this.

  7. Be interested:

    Care about others. Most people are not successful by themselves. They mostly receive the help, mentorship, labor, effort and support of others. Show you care about others and they just might be willing to help you more.

  8. Be in the moment:

    Enjoy today while you are striving for future success. I have heard people say, “never be satisfied”. I believe a better approach is to be constantly improving. Too many of us miss the benefits of being happy with who we are and where we are today. A fear of complacency may be fueling this. Remember successful people, from our perspective, have arrived. They enjoy the fruits of their success. They also enjoyed it along the way. If your eye is always looking to the horizon, you never arrive. Worse, you miss what is happening in your life now. Enjoying today is not complacency. By all means, strive. Just remember to enjoy the ride.

Waiting until you are successful to demonstrate these behaviors will slow your efforts to achieve them. Start today. Act as if. Enjoy the ride!

The author Spencer Horn is President of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC. You may also enjoy these additional articles: “The Help You Need To Achieve Your Resolutions”, “The Power of Accountability”, “Silence Your Saboteur”

How to Defeat the ‘Fog of War’ in Business

5 Steps To Overcome The Challenges And Setbacks We Experience in Business

There is a phenomenon in battle called the “fog of war’. What it means is when individuals who are fighting in a war perceive they are losing. They may act according to the perception and retreat when in fact the unit or army they are part of is winning the war. The fog of war creates a challenge for generals and their armies. If individuals and individual units feel they are losing from their perspective, they may give up which prolongs the victory. The same phenomenon can happen in business.

In our daily fight to be successful in our roles, we will have defeats. Perhaps we have a disagreement with a co-worker or supervisor. Perhaps we lose out on a sale we were expecting to win. Perhaps a client has a poor experience with our service or product, etc. Sometimes these events can cause us to think and feel our isolated experience is a sign of enterprise wide problems. This can cause discouragement and discontent with some members of our team and can spread to others.

I have fought feelings of discouragement many times. I have experienced personal losses in a business sense and was tempted to think, we must be ‘losing the war’ as a company and maybe I should give up or move on. I also know from experience, we get what we focus on. We will find evidence of our predominant thoughts. When I focused on challenges and failings, I would feel discouraged and questioned whether we could achieve our goals. Conversely, as I began to focus my thoughts and energy around the successful outcomes I desired, my results inevitably changed and my perception of where we were as a company changed. That perception increased my confidence and satisfaction with my company.

The ‘fog of war’ in my experience seemed to happen when our business was in what Bruce Tuckman called the storming phase of team development.  Tuckman proposed his model of team development called forming, storming, norming and performing in 1965. Forming is where we set goals. This can happen at when a company is new or when changes occur. It can happen when we lose or add new people. Storming is where we feel comfortable enough with each other to express discontent and challenge each other. It can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Norming is where we start to give up our own personal crusades and agree with others to make the team function. This phase is not about avoiding conflict, it is about coming together. The final phase, performing, is where the team is achieving goals and things are running smoothly. A company can be in one of the four phases as whole and individual teams may be in different phases. Individuals on teams can be in different phases as well.

It is easy for employees who are in the storming phase to experience the ‘fog of war’ phenomenon. If a team or company stays in the storming phase for a prolonged period, they have a greater chance of not emerging leading to business failure. If you are a leader of a company or team in the storming phase, have hope. Most companies go through similar phases. The following suggestions can help shorten the storming phase and remind team members that even though they may experience setbacks from time to time, they will ultimately succeed.

  1. Challenges Are Temporary:

    Let your team members know that the challenges of this phase are temporary. Educate your team that all companies go through similar phases. Just naming this phase of team development will help give the team hope things will get better keeping the, positively engaged.

  2. Focus On Outcomes:

    Keep your team focused on positive outcomes desired. It is easy to get fixated on failures. Remember, we tend to manifest the results of our predominant thoughts. Keeping the team focused on positive outcomes will help dissipate negative energy.

  3. Be A Role Model:

    Make sure you as the leader and your team leaders model the attitude that the team will emerge victorious. Team members must be able to look to the leadership for how to act in times of challenge and difficulty. A negative team leader will multiply the ‘fog of war’ dynamics if not addressed by discipline or replacement.

  4. Demonstrate Confidence:

    Show your team you have faith in them. Team members can lose hope and exhibit behaviors that hurt the team. Let them know they are a valued member of the team. Help them understand the impact of their performance and behavior on the success of the team.

  5. Celebrate Success:

    Encourage the team by sharing any team successes no matter how small. Celebrating successes will lift morale and give hope the team and organization is moving in the right direction.

Seize the Moment!

Seize Title We live in a great country where every day, every moment, you and I have the happy opportunity to make choices: Each morning we can get up early or hit the snooze button; watch TV or read a book; rent a movie on Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, etc. or go to the theater; go to college or not; work in the private sector or public; meet minimum performance standards and just get by, or obliterate them. You can let work and life happen to you or seize the moment and make life extraordinary! Seize the moment cliffYou are the captain of your life. While it is true that we may not choose all of the circumstances of our lives, we may absolutely choose our response to circumstances and we may learn to influence and change our circumstances. At the end of the day do you look back at your actions and say; “I gave it everything I had!”? Does there have to be some great project, mission or opportunity for you to get engaged, or are you willing to give it everything you have with everyday things: Every phone call, every conversation, and every assignment no matter how small?! Many of us live waiting for what is next. We say things like: “I can’t wait to get to high school.” “I can’t wait to get out of high school.” When we get out of high school and get a job…”I can’t wait to get a job I like.” When in college…”I can’t wait to graduate.” When single…”I can’t wait to get married.” When married…”I can’t wait to be single.” With small kids…”I can’t wait until my kids grow up.” We can’t wait to have money when we have little, when we have abundantly, we can’t wait to have more. Many of us live on someday isle. “Someday I’ll be home in time to read my children a story and kiss them goodnight!” “Someday I’ll get in shape!” “Someday I’ll finish my degree!” “Someday, I’ll do what it takes to earn a Seize the moment romancepromotion!” We live on someday isle where opportunities pass us by while we are waiting for the “significant” things in our lives to happen. I believe a great indicator of how people will perform in a defining moment is how they perform every day. Make right now your great moment! When you share a conversation, make it great…be present, be invested! When you are given a task you think is beneath you-crush it! Come back to whomever assigned it to you and report it complete ahead of schedule and under budget. You want to prove your value on great things? Prove your value on everyday things. Otherwise, all too soon, our children are grown with children of their own, our careers are over and our short time on this earth is coming to a close and we have failed to act and seize many of the opportunities available to us. Seize the moment TeddyAs the Captain of your life, you have the responsibility to LEAD yourself where you want to go. I don’t believe you need to have followers to be a leader. Start with leading yourself. The word “leader” is derived from Greek and Latin words which mean “to act”. Leadership is not about title or rank, it is about the ability to act and “impact”. Make a positive impact on every person you meet, in every game you play, with every job you undertake! Taking charge and leading your life takes courage. Think of your life to come as Louis and Clark might have approached the vast uncharted Louisiana Territory. We have many choices: We can stay safely in “St. Louis” and enjoy vicariously the adventures that lie beyond the horizon; we can venture out, but stick to the easy trails; However, if we want real adventure, if we want to make a real impact, we must do with our life’s opportunities what Lewis and Clark did in the Louisiana Territory-get off the beaten path and seize new opportunities! It is time to leave complacency and comfort zones behind. It is time enjoy the moments of your life right now. It is time to make a positive impact. It is time to act and seize the moment and make life extraordinary!!

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