Jim Rohn

Make better choices

What will you do in the present to improve your future?  You may have made poor choices in the past and wish you had taken different paths.  Or maybe you have not really made any choices and just let things happen and want to take more control of your life.  There is a strategy for making better choices.

World renowned expert on strategy and Harvard Business School professor, Michael Porter is quoted as saying, “Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.”  Let’s analyze these three areas in terms of making better choices.

Making choices.  If you want to make better choices, you first have to be willing to make choices.  Someone has to decide, and where you’re concerned that must be you.  Jim Rohn, the man who mentored Tony Robbins, said it like this, “It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.” Be determined that you will decide, each and every time.

Trade-offs.  There are never truly perfect answers; but there are better answers.  And there is always a limited amount of information and limited time to decide. What you do with the limited time and information to make the best possible choice can make all the difference in your success.  Are you willing to dig a little deeper?  Are you willing to ask for help?  If you are, you can find what you need to weigh all the possible answers and pick the best one for you.

“Most decisions are not binary, and there are usually better answers waiting to be found if you do the analysis and involve the right people.” –  Jamie Dimon

Choosing to be different.  The easiest choice is to do what everyone else is doing – but that just results in you being average.  What sets you apart is what makes you successful.  All of the choices you make every day should get you one step closer to what makes you different.  Start with deciding what the end game is. Define your dreams, then put everything into accomplishing them.

“Making better choices takes work. There is a daily give and take, but it is worth the effort.” –  Tom Rath

 

Don’t have a mind full of things. Instead, be mindful of the important things.

Dean Kamen, inventor of the AutoSyringe and Segway and a member of the Inventor’s Hall of Fame discussed focusing on important things when he said, I do not want to waste any time. And if you are not working on important things, you are wasting time.” And if you want to know what things are important, Kamen goes on to say, “I don’t work on a project unless I believe that it will dramatically improve life for a bunch of people.”

Focusing on what’s important is a full-time job. For this to work you don’t get to do this once and expect everything to work out. Success will come from the many choices you make each day that lead to accomplishing the important things.

Listed below are the three important choices you’ll face each day:

Eliminate what’s not important. You can’t do everything in one day. Be realistic and make your to do list only that which is a must do – then stop thinking about the rest for the day. Keeping things that you hope to get to on your list will only lead to frustration. You’ll have another chance tomorrow to consider what didn’t make today’s list, but that’s tomorrow. Author Seth Godin correctly points out that, “Until you remove the noise, you’re going to miss a lot of signals.” When you have too many things on your mind you can’t pay attention to all that is important.

Elevate what’s important. Now that you have only important things on your to do list, you should prioritize that which is most important. The first things on your priority list must be those items that support and strengthen your ability to accomplish the rest. By that I mean Exercise: walking, jogging, yoga…the format that gets you going. Education: reading, listening, experiencing new information…the format that keeps you growing. Evaluation: thinking, writing, recording your thoughts…the format that keeps you knowing. Jim Rohn summarized it in this way, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Make sure you’re ready to take care of the important things.

Celebrate achieving what’s important. With your to do list focused and prioritized to the most important things, you are bound to succeed – in the end. Recognize that everything we do, even if it is important things, won’t always work the first time, or second time for that matter. With diligent effort, you will succeed if you keep focusing on the important things. It’s not a matter of what you are trying to accomplish, it’s only how, and you’re always one decision away from a totally different life. Successful inventor Dean Kamen says, “Most of the time you will fail, but you will also occasionally succeed. Those occasional successes make all the hard work and sacrifice worthwhile.”

Deliver when you get the chance

deliver when you get the chance“If they’d only give me a chance.” Ever heard that? Or said that? What would you do if they’d give you the chance? Would you succeed? A better way to get a chance to succeed is to seek out chances and not wait for it to happen. If you want to be successful and deliver the results when your chance comes along, here is the strategy for doing just that:

“Success doesn’t come to you; you go to it.” – Marva Collins

Decide now how you will act. You can’t wait for your chance to decide what to do, you have to plan to take action. When choices come along there are more people than you who are looking for it.

“If you don’t design your own plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn

Dive in and get started. Every chance might not be the one that puts you over the top. Don’t wait for the perfect chance – as long as it’s moving you in the right direction take advantage of it and get going.

“You don’t get many chances in the world, and you don’t want to throw them away.” – Peter Hook

Deliver the results. Chance alone does not determine the outcome, it’s what you do with the chance that matters. Make it count, do your best each and every time no matter what

“It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.” – Jean Nidetch

 

Leadership – Back to Basics

back to basicsEveryone wants to work on the next innovation, the next cool project, and the next big challenge – it’s easy to see why: it’s fun, exciting, and invigorating. We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves – it’s easy to see why:   the impact is greater, the recognition is greater, and the reward is greater.

If you want to achieve the next fun, exciting, and invigorating goals – get back to basics.

If you want to have a greater impact, greater recognition, and a greater reward – get back to basics.

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequences of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn

Leadership: Back to Basics

The basics are the same but every project is different

Success comes from doing the basics right – one step at a time: How will you do it, who will do it, and when will you do it? Some may say those things are best left for others to think about – let’s focus on the big ideas. While big ideas are essential, executing the big ideas makes them real and not just ideas. Big ideas will remain just big ideas unless you get back to basics and implement them.

The key to making even the basics exciting is to be aware that even though the basic steps are the same, the project is different. Like a bike ride, or hiking, the actions are the same each time but the scenery is different at each location. Leaders need to celebrate the new success through the same steps.

Remember the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who said, “You could never step twice into the same rivers; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.”

The basics get you started on the path to success

You have great ideas, you are going to change the world – ok, now what? You have to do something to start to change the world. Getting back to basics will get you started. How will you do it, who will do it, and when will you do it?

Doing something big requires you to start with something small. Vaclav Havel, the first president of the Czech Republic said it like this, “The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.”

The basics are best done first so you can savor victory last

When you start something new it is hard to know exactly how it will turn out. You don’t know all the steps you must take to succeed. That’s why getting back to the basics is so important. It takes time and energy to think it through. How will you do it, who will do it, and when will you do it?

The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu is quoted often in saying, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with single step.” Wise advice for sure. But lesser known is the first sentence in his guidance, “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small.”

Taking care of the basics first, will allow you to savor the victory last.

 

Why so complicated? Simplify.

complicated simpleWhen Ford sold the Model T in 1908 it was the first mass-produced car for the middle class. Henry Ford had a simple vision, “I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best material, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise…” When demand for the Model T increased dramatically in 1913, Ford switched to using only black paint to increase the efficiency of the assembly line and to keep prices affordable. It is here that Henry Ford is often quoted as saying, “Any customer can have any color paint as long as it’s black.” It was a simple vision.

By 2006 Ford was selling cars under nine different brands in six continents. It had become a much more complicated business and Ford lost $12.6 billion that year, the year that Alan Mulally became the CEO and began what would become one of the greatest turnarounds in business history.

Mulally re-focused Ford to simplify the business and return to profit using the same process he used as the CEO of Boeing, the same process that other great leaders had used in the past: Simplify the Message, Simplify the Schedule, and Simplify the Measurements. If you find yourself in a business that has gotten to complicated, take a look at this three-step process.

Simplify the message

Steve Jobs was a master at simple messaging. From the Apple logo to every new product release, the message was clear and easy to understand. Jobs said, “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Alan Mulally started with harkening back to the simpler time of the Model T. Henry Ford envisioned, “Opening the highways for all mankind,” According to Mulally, you have to figure out a way to, “Get every employee to understand the vision of the company, buy in to the plan, and feel supported in their jobs.”

Mulally introduced a simple message called One Ford. “One Ford optimizes our collective strength by aligning our efforts toward a common definition of success, with a clear focus on the skills and behaviors we must develop to accomplish One Team, One Plan, One Goal,”  This would bring all the global businesses together to more efficiently and effectively achieve success.  This included simple behaviors that were fundamental to One Ford: Foster Functional and Technical Excellence, Own Working Together, Role Model Ford Values, Deliver Results.

Simplify the schedule

Jim Rohn is best known for being a bestselling author and motivational speaker. He began his career as an entrepreneur in the direct selling business where he learned his craft and developed methods for success. Rohn’s simple method for success is stated as follows, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day”

Alan Mulally joined as the CEO of Ford during “Meeting Week.” This was the time of the month when all of the corporate meetings happened across one entire week; finance, sales, products and others. Mulally sat through the week then cancelled all of the meetings and replaced them with one weekly “Business Plan Review,” meeting where the strategic focus of the company would be reviewed all in one day. If problems were identified in this meeting, follow-up meetings would be scheduled to dig deeper and identify solutions.

This new meeting structure brought the entire company into focus for every executive to see, offer opinions and solutions in line with the One Ford message of working as One Team, with One Plan, and One Goal.

Simplify the measurements

Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was the author of 51 books that sold over 600 million copies that were translated into 20 languages. His books covered deep, complicated subjects in simple ways that everyone from the youngest toddler to the oldest adult could understand. Seuss said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

When Mulally joined Ford in 2006, the automotive business was complicated, and it would remain complicated. But Mulally could handle complicated. When asked how he would handle auto manufacturing when a car has 10,000 moving parts, the former Boeing CEO responded, “An airplane has two million, and it has to stay up in the air.” The questions would remain complicated while the answers would be simple.

Gone were the long presentations during “Meeting Week” from every division and they were replaced with color coded charts in the “Business Plan Review” that showed the same data for each division so everyone knew if they were on track or not, where they were not, they would talk about how to get on track. Mulally is known to tell his team to, “Let the data set you free.” These simple measurements would foster greater unity across the whole team in line with the One Ford message of working as One Team, with One Plan, and One Goal.

 

You can’t solve a problem you don’t understand.

don't run away from problems, solve themWhen something is not turning out like you want it to what should you do? Change what you are doing. Sounds simple enough. Sometimes it seems easier to just keep doing what you have been doing and ignore the issues than to figure out what the real problem is and solve it, but as William Rotsler said, “You won’t find a solution by saying there is no problem.”

I have also seen that you have to understand the problem before you accept a solution, or you risk accepting a solution that’s too easy to solve the actual problem. Equally bad as running away from a problem is to think you have it all figured out only to find out that the solution didn’t solve the real problem but only a symptom of the problem.

Thankfully, there are people who have figured this problem solving process out already and we can learn from them. I have taken the Six Sigma process first started by Motorola in the 1980’s and sprinkled it with ideas espoused by past leaders to form the four step process that I use:

Step One – Identify the real problem by asking the right questions. Your goal in step one is to gain alignment on the real problem by asking defining questions. What are we working on? Why are we working on this particular problem? How is the work currently being done? What are the benefits of making the improvement?

“To solve any problem, here are three questions to ask yourself: First, what could I do? Second, what could I read? And third, who could I ask?” – Jim Rohn

Step Two – Find the real cause of the problem through analysis. Your goal in step two is to obtain and sift through as much data and facts about the problem as you can within a limited time frame to bring the root cause to the surface.

“If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes defining it and 5 minutes solving it.” – Albert Einstein

Step Three – Find the real solution to the problem – not just the easy one. Your goal in step three is to brainstorm on as many possible solutions you can until you find the one that is the most promising and practical.

“If you find a good solution and become attached to it, the solution may become your next problem.” – Dr. Robert Anthony

Step Four – Make sure the solution really sticks. Your goal in step four is to make sure the solution lasts. Even though you are solving problems, this is still change and it takes more work to stick with change than it does to implement change. You will have to gain alignment for the solution by selling the benefits, handing off leadership to the team that will be using the solution every day, allowing issues to be raised and ensuring they are quickly addressed.

“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” – Dr. James Belasco

The Three Cs of Leadership Success

Leadership successHow can you achieve leadership success? Bill Walsh, former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers said, “The score will take care of itself.” His teams were known for focusing on the basics and not the score. This advice coming from one of the winningest NFL head coaches in history.

You too can achieve Leadership Success by following these three C’s:

 

CLARITY Why are you in that position, at that company, at this time? What is your purpose? What are you going to accomplish? How are you going to get there?

Have it-You have to know what you are supposed to do. Without clarity of purpose you cannot lead.

“More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity”- Francois Gautier

Write it-A dream remains a dream until it is written down into a goal. You aren’t really committed until you put pen to paper.

“Your mind, while blessed with permanent memory, is cursed with lousy recall. Written goals provide clarity. By documenting your dreams, you must think about the process of achieving them.” – Gary Ryan Blair

Speak it-A leader has to lead other people to achieve their goals. Unless you can communicate your purpose you will lack followers.

“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.”- Jim Rohn

COURAGE We all have fears that can keep us from moving forward. What is your fear? What has been holding you back? Move forward.

Admit it-Fear is a normal emotion. You can’t deal with it unless you admit it’s there.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear” – Mark Twain

Face it-The more you think about fear the stronger it gets. Stop thinking and start doing.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

Conquer it-All your fears won’t disappear, but you can succeed anyway.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

CONSISTENCY Find something that works and do it right – over and over.

Try It-Success comes from consistently trying. Don’t just take my word for it, test it out yourself.

“For the novice runner, I’d say to give yourself at least 2 months of consistently running several times a week at a conversational pace before deciding if you want to stick with it. Consistence is the most important aspect of training…” – Frank Shorter

Do it-Once you see the positive results, keep doing what got you there.

“Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius. “An Wang, the founder of Wang Laboratories

 Achieve it-Like Bill Walsh said, “Let the score take care of itself.”

“In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted, if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end.” – Tom Seaver

Communicating as a leader

art of communicationDo you have to be good at communicating to be a successful leader? The simple answer is yes you do.  When asked about the importance of communication in leadership here is what a few past leaders had to say:

Gilbert Amelio, a pioneer in the U.S. technology industry and former President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp. said, “Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership.”

Author and former presidential speech writer James Humes answered the question succinctly when he said, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

And Lee Iacocca, former Chrysler CEO said, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”

So you are a leader or you want to be a leader someday but you have trouble communicating.  Can a person who has trouble communicating be a leader?  Again the simple answer is yes you can.

Listed below are the four areas that all great communicators focus on.  Learn them and you will be successfully communicating as a leader.

Communicating with a purpose. Can you summarize the purpose of your message in one sentence?  If you can’t, then your audience won’t understand the main point.  You have heard some speakers say, “If you only take away one thing this is it…”  Before you start any form of communication you have to know the purpose.  It’s like Stephen Covey said, “Start with the end in mind.”

The purpose of communication is always to elicit an emotional response meant to inspire action.

That action may be very short term, like getting a laugh or tugging at the heart.  The action could be longer term like embarking on the first step of a life changing journey.

Knowing the purpose of your communication is foundational if you want to communicate like a leader.

Communicating with a plan. Now that you clearly defined the purpose of your communication it’s time to plan how you will accomplish that purpose.

Here a few keys to include in your plan:

Be an expert in the facts before you share the facts. This is not a new concept.  First century Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.

Carefully select your words.  As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

Entertain, encourage, and end on time. Not only will the current audience appreciate you, they might also be a future audience.  The great British leader Benjamin Disraeli had advice for communicators: “Be amusing: never tell unkind stories; above all, never tell long ones.”

Communicating with practice.  Once you have your purpose and plan, it’s time to practice. The more you communicate the better you will get. According to master communicator Brian Tracy, “Communication is a skill like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life”

Even after communicating as a leader myself for over twenty-five years, I never step in front of an audience without reviewing and practicing what I am going to communicate.

Communicating with passion Your communication is not complete unless the people who heard it feel enlightened, equipped, and energized to do something with your message right now. 

If you want your audience to have passion about your message then you need to have passion about your message first.  You may be an expert in the facts, but are you committed to the message.  Do you believe it? More importantly do you live it?

Jim Rohn said it like this, “Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.”

 

Are people born leaders or nurtured?

joy of leadership is helping others succeedWe all know larger than life leaders.  Those we think are born leaders.  They are frequently on television, the internet, and newspapers.  We have studied them in the history books.  They are the Presidents, CEOs, Head Coaches, and Generals that command our attention.  If you are not just like these leaders, then you must not be a born leader.  So how did they get where they are?

Vince Lombardi said, “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”  I agree with Lombardi, that leaders are truly made.  Here are a few ideas on what makes great leaders:

True leadership lies in guiding others to success.”– Bill Owens

A good objective of leadership[ is to help those who are doing poorly to do well, and to help those who are doing well do even better.” – Jim Rohn

“True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders.” – Robert Townsend

Management is about arranging and telling.  Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.”– Tom Peters

We are all gifted with abilities that if used to their fullest can help others succeed – and that is the definition of leadership.  The nurturing comes in the seeing of what true leadership really is.

“No one is born as a leader, but everyone is born to lead.”

 

How to encourage game changing ideas.

everything-begins-with-an-ideaEvery team has different methods to generate ideas. It may be formal and happen in committee meetings or it can be informal and happen in the hallway or over email or phone calls.  Whether your team is formal or informal you’ll have to follow the three steps below – there’s no shortcut to successful innovation, “Everything begins with an idea.” – Earl Nightingale.

To turn really interesting ideas…into a company that can continue to innovate for years…requires a lot of discipline.” – Steve Jobs

 

THREE STEPS TO ENCOURAGE GAME CHANGING IDEAS

Get everyone thinking.  Those closest to the process, product, and people (customers) have the best view to opportunities for game changing ideas.

“At Microsoft there are lots of brilliant ideas but the image is that they all come from the top – I’m afraid that’s not quite right.” – Bill Gates

Get lots of ideas.   Don’t settle for the first new idea.  Keep digging and asking questions.  The most important two words are “What Else?” Trust me, your team members have a lot of new ideas.  

“Ideas can be life-changing.  Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea.” – Jim Rohn

Get going and do something. Once you settle on which new ideas to pursue, get going. Implement them, monitor them, and adjust them as needed.   

“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines…You make progress by implementing ideas.” – Shirley Hufsteddler

 

 

 

 

 

 

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