Category Archives: Direction

Don’t Listen to the Doubters

doubt diceThe truth about success is that most people fall into one of three categories. The first are those who do not want you to succeed. We will call them Leadweights. These people are easy to identify. The second group are those who want to help you succeed. We will call this group the Pullies. This group generally is very small and often overlooked. The third group are those who you carry along in life, who neither help you up the ladder but are not obviously trying to drag you down. We will call them ChosenWeights.

Think of these three groups on a ladder you are trying to climb. Their hold on you will determine both the rate and difficulty of your goal to reach the top of the ladder. The goal can be a simple promotion or the achievement of a complex, critical project. It can meld with personal goals such as buying a new home. Business or personal, the objective is the achievement of the goal.

All of these groups have doubters in them, though rarely are they found among the Pullies. The majority of doubters can be found in the ChosenWeights, those people you highly value for one reason or another, but too often stand on the sidelines instead of helping you up. They can be co-workers or family and friends. This is a difficult group to interact with because of your attachment to them. However, the danger is placing too much weight on what they say, making their weight greater than it should be.

It is not that they do not want you to succeed, but they do not know how to be supportive in a tangible way. A long time best friend may be used to sarcasm as a way of having fun, but if this happens when talking about something that is extremely important to you it can transform into doubt. The well-intended criticism you get from a parent may feel like a barb directed at your potential for success. A co-worker’s zeal for excellence may have you questioning your goals altogether. People believe they are being helpful, but in reality are only creating doubt in your mind.

In general, people have all kinds of good advice, and some of it is actually useful. But even with the good advice, unless people are willing to get their hands dirty and turn the advice into action, good or bad advice is just advice. The advice that is often offered is how something should be done, and if the advice isn’t taken, the adviser will doubt you. Why shouldn’t you heed their advice? The simple answer is because they are your goals, personal to you. And whether you succeed or fail it will impact your life significantly more than anyone else.

Returning to the ChosenWeights, it is hard not to listen to their perspectives. The people closest to you are the ones we presume know us the best. That translates into their views and opinions having more importance than others. But as you move forward in life and begin setting and achieving goals, you change. Those who were once close to you want to remember the “old” you, so doubt that the changes they are seeing are really what is best for you. Their problem is that you may have outgrown them. Your problem is they can be slowing your climb up.

Who to listen to is the most important question that will direct your long term achievement. You have the right set of goals, a plan to achieve them, and now need a support group to help move you forward. This group will likely be a combination of Pullies and ChosenWeights. Through the journey, do not perceive all criticism as doubting. Sometimes the harshest critics are your best motivation – because they are right. But someone who neither helps nor offers constructive, positive, criticism is usually a hidden doubter.

Over time, you will discover that achieving your goals is a path full of opportunities, supporters, doubters, and well-meaning friends and family. Along the way it is almost certain you will have to choose to leave some of these behind for one reason or another. These are times when the voices of doubt come from within. Most of the time the discussion about people doubting your goals is focused on those outside of you. Strange as it may sound, do not forget that there are times you cannot listen to yourself. It is during these times the voices you need to listen to are those who have consistently been supportive of your journey.

You gotta see where you stand to see where your’e going

Many people think that persistence is the path to achieving one’s goals, and on some level this is certainly true.

It’s unfortunate however the many confuse being persistent with being inflexible or stubborn. “Staying the course” won’t work if that course doesn’t have the ability to ever lead you to your destination. Being consistent has not value or benefit if you it means consistently being wrong.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Context vs Consistency
The world is fluid and constantly in motion, very few things are static and unchanging. It is important to realize that context is more important than consistency. What worked for you in the past may no longer work for you today. For example, if you try to use a 50 year old body the same way you utilized a 15 year old body, you will get completely different results. It’s important to understand that you have to act and react in ways that are appropriate to the present situation, rather than simply relying on what worked before.

A Brave New World
Business methods and practices that predate the internet and social media haven’t lost all their value, but they do lack scope and are not suited to a world of “real time”. Consumers now get information in real time and have access to much more of it. They also have a new unprecedented ability to share information including their opinions and experiences for brands, products and services. Word of mouth is no longer a small or localized process, it is not instant and global. It is important to understand this and leverage it to your advantage or it will be used to your detriment.

A real world example of this is a UK bookkeeping business I cam across recently who in a few short years have transformed themselves from traditional bookkeepers visiting clients premises or receiving in boxes of documents to dealing with their outsourced bookkeeping and accounting services online. This has been made possible as acceptance of cloud-based accounting and bookkeeping has taken hold and as software companies such as Xero and Sage have made this option secure and affordable.

Many fear change and things they don’t quite understand. The best way of dealing with fear is often to confront it and neutralize its power of you and your circumstances. Gaining more knowledge and being open to changing strategies and directions is vital here. The barrier and resistance to change is usually a matter of comfort or being very invested in a current course of action.

Too Big To Move
In the case of companies many are too large or rigid to stay nimble and adapt to realities of a more rapidly changing market. While consumerism and its growth has allowed many business to thrive, it has the potential to hurt anyone who get’s “too big to move”. Markets now shift very rapidly as a result because consumers are more fickle and brand loyalty is much harder won and easily lost in the age of the internet and social media.There is also the issue of not watching for trends and shifts in consumer demand.

Kodak is a good example of this, based on the fact it practically developed (pun intended) the entire film industry. Because of there over commitment to film and their lack of belief in the growing popularity of digital cameras, they were late in developing and patenting competing technology for it and establishing a presence in that market. As a result of being able to shift in direction with their competitors they lost everything, while lesser smaller competitors such as Pentax and even Fuji are still thriving.

Changing Direction When Needed, Not For Change Sake
Change can be good, but it is not without it’s dangers. As stated earlier the context of the change and the motivation behind it is what really matters. Changing simply for the sake of being “fresh” is an unnecessary risk if there is no indication that the change will improve the situation considerably or that the situation even requires any change to be made at all. If something is working, and there is not way to qualify or quantify the value of a potential change, its probably not worthwhile.

Analysing your Business Competitors

Knowing you business competitors and what they have to offer is going to help make the products and what you have to offer to be outstanding. It is also going to help you set good prices for your things and undertake rival campaigns. You can use the information you get to create strategies that take advantage of the weaknesses of your rivals. Below are tips on analysing business competitors.

Know who you are competing with. All corporations face competition. People have turned to selling and getting their services online. This means that you are not just up against the local competitors. Another possibility is finding yourself competing with people that are in other countries.

These are some of the things you need to know about the competitors. Look at the products they offer, how they market themselves to customers and the sum they charge. You should make inquiries in regard to their brand and design values as well as how they employ and distribute customer loyalty and the backup they offer.

Another thing to consider are your competitors clients. Be acquainted with who they are what the customers see as the strengths and weaknesses of the challenger and if there are any long standing clients.

You should also inquire what they are planning to do. Know the customers they target, the new products they are developing and the financial resources that they have.

It is also advisable that you read about competitors. Look for advertisements or articles in mainstream publications or the trade press. Check their entries in directories and phone books as well. Read a copy of their annual report to know if theirs is a public company.

With all this in mind, you are going to succeed in your own company by working on the weaknesses of your competition.

6 Reasons to Join a Mastermind Group

social-media-iconsMastermind groups are a relatively new concept to individuals and businesses despite being conceptualized around 75 years ago. Mastermind groups were created to assist with navigating through personal and business challenges by utilizing the collective intelligence and experience of others in the group.

How does it Work?

When joining a mastermind group, the process is simple: a group of intelligent individuals meet monthly, weekly or daily (if necessary) to tackle a problem together. The group provides advice to one another, shares connections and conducts business where relevant. The idea is peer-to-peer mentoring resulting in a significant change in the individual and their business.

6 Reasons to Join

As this concept emerges as an attractive option for conquering challenges, there are six additional reasons for joining a mastermind group including:

  1. Being part of an exclusive community
  2. Collaboration among experts
  3. Cross-promotion
  4. Expanding your professional network
  5. Free advice from advisors
  6. Learning new skills

Being Part of an Exclusive Community

From the beginning, you will be a member of an exclusive community. Typically, other members of the group invite your or you must go through an application process. All teammates need each other so the extent of knowledge and quality of experience is critical to all who are involved.

Collaboration among Experts

Within the group, you may find another participant who is a perfect fit to work on a specific project with you. At the same time, you may also find another to work with to help others in the group. All members work together in a collective fashion to achieve more.

Cross-Promotion

When joining a mastermind group, you will find methods of assisting one another through cross promotion. This includes finding ways to help one another by promoting the business to your personal and professional networks.

Expanding your Professional Network

When you join a mastermind group, your network of professionals will quickly expand. If you are already in a business, you are aware of how critical it is to grow your network. In the group, you immediately add many professionals to you network and also gain part of the networks of those in the group.

Free Advice from Advisors

Once involved you no longer feel alone while running or participating in a business. The other members of the group become your free, personal advisors to provide advice and solutions. Similarly, you become an advisor to them to help sharpen your skills.

Learning New Skills

Each participant in the mastermind group brings their own skills, experiences and personal as well as business connections to the table. Through interaction and the sharing of challenges, it is almost certain that one participant will have some type of connection or tactic to assist the group. On the other hand, the skills you bring to the table can help others find a solution.