The Blog

The Power Of Positive Focus

When you are thwarted, it is your own attitude that is out of order.

~ Meister Eckhart

You’ve heard about the power of positive thinking 100 times; just make it your default attitude and success will naturally and effortlessly follow. But it’s not enough to just think positive. You want to work toward positive focus, not positive thinking. So, what’s the difference?

Positive thinking tends to gloss over “negative” reality. It also doesn’t always account for personal responsibility. You can focus on finding more opportunities to make money, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have to eat today. And you can’t change a car accident by thinking, “If I drive away, maybe nobody will notice.”

Positive focus means living firmly in the present and getting the most out of it, while understanding that the choices you make now will affect the future. It also acknowledges that everything has both a positive and a negative side.

Most people spend their day thinking and talking about what they don’t want. Well, guess what? What you focus on expands! You may not be able to control the facts of life but you can control how much attention and significance you give them.

If you want more money, don’t focus on the money you don’t have. That only places more emphasis on the lack in your life. Focus on earning and accumulating more money, for whatever reason drives you toward that goal. If you want to change your job or career, don’t focus on how much you hate what you’re doing now. Focus instead on discovering a great opportunity. Focus on solutions, not problems

The mind is limited in its conscious attention. You can only entertain one focus at a time.  Positivity is one of the greatest secrets to both happiness and success, so make sure you choose positive focus. 

The “Four C’s” Of Transformation

All people are alike in their dreams, and all people are alike in the promises they make. The difference is what they do. 

~Moliere, 15th Century French Playwright

Making significant changes in your career or personal life can be an intimidating prospect. Most of us want to wait until the time is “right”. But how do you know when that time has come?

Procrastination is the number one killer of dreams. It often shows up as putting too much effort into getting ready to get ready – expecting everything to be just so, or even perfect. But no one can ever be that ready.

Waiting for confidence is another telltale sign of procrastination. You may be tempted to procrastinate in hope that your confidence level will increase the more you prepare. But top achievers know that confidence only comes after you make a decision, take action, developing skill as you go, and have some success no matter how small.

Making a commitment also takes courage. Stepping out of your comfort zone is the price every highly successful individual has paid for future success, so you certainly wouldn’t be the first to do this.

 If you’re asking, “Am I ready?”, 99% of the time you are. When you create a clear vision of where you want to go, muster up the required courage to make a decision and commit to moving forward, there is no challenge you can’t figure out and eventually overcome.  Sharing your commitment with someone who supports your decision can give you added incentive when the going gets tough.

 Here are the “four C’s” that can help you successfully navigate your next big change:

 Courage (leads to) Commitment (leads to) Capability  Confidence

Start Small And Change Your World

The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change  ~ Heraclitus

We all know that change is the most constant force in life.  The transformative power of big changes is obvious, but even small ones can bring amazing gifts into your life.

One “baby step” you can take starting tomorrow is to get up 10 minutes earlier.  (You might find this easier now that the long days of summer are here.)  Use this time to meditate or pray, listen to your favorite music, make your bed, or simply relish some quiet time.

Waking up even just a few minutes earlier allows you to indulge in moments you wouldn't normally enjoy, and can help you begin your day with more energy and a positive state of mind.  This is one small change you can apply now that will create lasting benefits for your health, wealth and happiness.

Do Vision Statements Really Work?

I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can't find anybody who can tell me what they want.

~ Mark Twain

When you're feeling stuck or in a rut, it often means your vision is fuzzy - not your eyesight, but your life’s vision.

A compelling vision statement can help to combat the “fuzziness”. However, writing one can seem too confusing and very time-consuming, which may be why so few of us either a) don’t have a vision statement, or b) have only a general idea of what we want, such as “a happy life” or “personal fulfillment”.

Now if you’re making a trip to the local mall, you know exactly where you're going when you get in your car. You know the route you’ll take.  If there's traffic, you find a way around it. No matter what, you're going to arrive at your destination because you have a specific plan. 

Why wouldn’t you be willing to do the same for your life?

Your written vision statement is the plan for your best self, living your best life in the areas of health, relationships, career, and financial abundance. Vague unfocused questions like, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" won’t energize your vision, and simply drain your brain power.  The clearer the “roadmap”, the more likely you are to reach your destination. Having a definite idea of where you’re going will inspire you to take action and bring your dream into reality more quickly and easily than you ever imagined possible.

If you haven’t already written your vision statement, give it a try today. It's a powerful way to align yourself with your desired outcome and attract it into your life.

The Cheese At The End Of The Tunnel

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. 

~ Steve Jobs

A famous behavioral psychology experiment involved presenting rats with three tunnels, only one of which contained a piece of cheese. The rats would explore all the tunnels until they found the cheese. After reinforcement they would go down only that avenue, and ignore all non-cheese tunnels. If the cheese were removed, however, the rats soon learned that it was gone and began to explore all tunnels again looking for the reward.

Human beings, despite being highly evolved creatures, often display less “judgment” than a rat when confronted with a choice between changing and staying put.  Driven by what seems right or reasonable, they can spend an entire lifetime moving up and down the same tunnel looking for whatever “cheese” the situation promises, never get any, and yet refuse to change track. In fact, they often get support from family members, friends and acquaintances, who agree that the cheese really belongs up that tunnel in the absence of any evidence.

Change is a risky proposition. It’s human nature to resist changing until some crisis, trauma, disease or other tragedy makes us so uncomfortable that we can no longer go on with business as usual.  But why wait for the worst-case scenario to turn away from an unrewarding or non-productive path? 

Everything in life is about making choices. No one can force you to move up and down the same “tunnel” in life without receiving any payoffs.  Change may seem difficult, uncomfortable and even frightening especially in the beginning.  If you choose to stay put, however, you can be sure of just one thing – your situation will never change for the better. 

There is no denying that the first step is the hardest one to take. Nevertheless, it’s only when we make up our minds to endure a bit of discomfort, some inconvenience, a break with a predictable routine, and a period of uncertainty that we can experience the liberation that comes from living life on our own terms.

What Do You Do When The Going Gets Rough?

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

~ Proverbs 24:10

Adversity is a mirror. When the pressure is on we find out who we really are. We may suddenly discover facets of ourselves, like anger or lingering resentment or any number of things, we’d never known were there.  Adversity is painful, often intimidating and always uncomfortable. But if we want to grow, we shouldn’t spend our lives running from it.

In a society that promotes quick fixes, we’re often tempted to give up to soon. Your conscious mind probably has a reasonable, if not realistic, time-frame for success. After you’ve failed a few times, giving up seems like the “normal” thing to do. But how much more might you have accomplished if you’d just kept on your current path a bit longer, and with each failure learned more about what works?

It’s very easy to get down on yourself and your results when things don’t go as planned. One way to overcome this is to simply to ask better questions in “negative” situations. Instead of asking “why this” or “why me”, ask questions that empower you, like “What can I learn from this?” or “What is the hidden opportunity in this situation?”

Other people’s thoughts and emotions are contagious. Especially when facing adversity, it’s important to limit your time with negative people.  Also, reduce your contact with media that create envy, shame or just generalized fear and negativity within you (for instance a lot of news shows).

Now, that’s not to say that you should never quit. Knowing what you really like to do and what you really want can certainly give you the inner motivation to persevere after things have gone wrong.

And that’s also not to say that you should do the same thing over and over in exactly the same manner – this would be Einstein’s definition of insanity.  Instead, have the experience, learn its lessons and then adjust how you do things as you try again.

We can all learn a lot about dealing with adversity from people who have faced it and prevailed. Winston Churchill, a famous authority on this subject, suggested a concise and direct approach -  “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Uniqueness Is Overrated

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.

~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the centerpiece of just about every sales and marketing training - and the major stumbling block for many business owners. After all, how many products or services can claim to be truly unique? 

When trying to devise a marketing strategy that highlights our advantages, we often come to the discouraging conclusion that our competitors can say the same thing. And we would probably be right. 

But just because they can doesn’t mean they will.  Actually, the chances are that they won’t.  

Domino’s is often cited as an example of a brilliant USP. But really, how unique is “fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes…or it’s free”?  Any pizza company could make the same promise.  But the important point is, no one else did.

Domino’s was hugely successful because they took bold action.  They identified something of value to their customers and went all in with it.  They put a guarantee behind their USP, made sure everyone knew about it, and marketed it with single-minded focus.  What they didn’t do was sit around worrying whether anyone else could say the same thing, trying to come up with a message so unique that nobody could come close to it. 

It’s easy to overthink things.  We sometimes imagine that we’re surrounded by business super-stars who are able to anticipate and respond to our every move.  It’s a recipe for “analysis paralysis” as we search in vain for the perfect marketing message.

You can’t afford to back away from talking about something of real value to your clients just because someone else may be able to say the same.  As Domino’s proves, you’re always better off taking action on a good marketing strategy than if you let a competitor talk about it while you don’t.    

Adapt And Prosper

A wise man adapts himself to circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it.  ~ Chinese proverb

At a library fundraiser I attended this weekend, one of the re-enactors told me an interesting fact about antique sewing machines.  She said that Singer machines dated 1940-1945 are rare and highly collectible, because the company became largely an armaments manufacturer during World War II.  The conversation reminded of an article I recently came across, about another American company that survived, thrived and changed society by adapting to similar conditions.  It’s an interesting illustration of the power of entrepreneurial thinking – I hope you enjoy reading this excerpt.

How American industry changed post-Civil War American society

excerpt from America Inc: The 400-year history of American capitalism by Bhu Srinivasan. 

The best-known brands of the early Gilded Age were machine makers themselves. And for companies and their machines, adaptability seemed to be as vital to survival as it was for natural beings. For one company in the midst of an especially large revenue drop-off, salvation was found in a machine designed for the English language.

A Change in industry

In the years after the Civil War, even as the economy boomed, E. Remington & Sons saw its fortunes decline. The company made guns. Soldiers needed them and then, at war’s end, they didn’t. Based in the small town of Ilion, New York, Remington was one of many well-known gunmakers in the North. Following in the footsteps of Eli Whitney — who after his endless frustration in monetizing his cotton gin turned his mechanical genius to gun making — manufacturers in New England, including Samuel Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Remington gave the Union Army a decided advantage in arms. To meet the demands of war, the gunmakers became especially skilled machinists, using the latest in tooling techniques to make precision weapons. Seeing some synergy, an inventor approached E. Remington & Sons with a functional prototype of a new kind of machine for the written word.

Rather than propelling bullets through the air, the typewriter fired letters at paper. Developing the machine had been a long process. As with many inventions, a fortunate series of events needed to converge to create momentum for the final breakthrough. In this case, three men became inspired by an article about a theoretical writing machine in 1867. After repeated trial and error, they found an investor by demonstrating a functional prototype. After some frustration, two of the initial founders left, leaving the third, C. Latham Sholes, to develop the successful permutation: Each key, when pressed, caused a corresponding inked hammer to imprint the character on a piece of paper.

Up to that point, unlike printed works like newspapers, for which a typesetter set the individual letters by hand for the printing press, business correspondence had remained handwritten, prone to error, misinterpretation, and inefficiency. Seeing an opportunity to completely alter business communication, Remington took the prototype and, with its machinists and toolmakers, perfected the typewriter for market. Introduced in 1875, followed by a much bigger launch at the Centennial Celebrations in 1876, the Remington typewriter soon set the standard in offices across America, and Remington became a brand rather than a family manufacturer’s name.

It was to “the pen what the sewing machine is to the needle,” held a contemporary magazine. In the mid-1870s American sewing machine manufacturers, led by the Singer Manufacturing Company, were selling over 500,000 machines per year — a remarkable number considering that the overwhelming majority were for commercial use. While the sewing machine’s ease of use and contributions to efficiency were immediately obvious, the typewriter presented an obstacle: Few knew how to use it — making it inefficient compared with the pen due to its learning curve — and it wasn’t clear if typing was a skill that just anyone could develop.

By 1880 specialized typing schools had begun to offer training. Remarkably, even though the typewriter was destined for the office environment, a place where very few women had roles, the position of typist was open to both men and women from the very beginning. The profession drew in hundreds of women in major cities. With good typists in New York City making as much as $15 to $20 per week — nearly $1,000 per year — the pay was higher than that of many blue-collar men and that of women schoolteachers with years of education. “The excellent feature of this new profession for women,” read an account in a literary journal in the 1880s, was that “any bright girl in from three to six months may obtain sufficient facility with the typewriter to make herself valuable in an office.” As the telegraph office once had done in more limited form, the Remington became the machine that brought thousands of women into the modern office setting.    

Always Room At The Top

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.

~ Charles Darwin

You might be surprised to learn that many familiar businesses started out doing something totally different from what makes them household names today.

For example, have you heard of Fusajiro Yamauchi?  Back in 1889 this Japanese entrepreneur was in the business of manufacturing quality playing cards. At the time, his marketing options were relatively limited – he couldn’t rely on a large email list or social media following to grow his small operation. It was passion for his product that carried him through the usual ups and downs of business ownership.  Eventually his playing card company, Nintendo, began to offer slightly more advanced gaming options – and the rest, as they say, is history.

And did you know that Samsung Sanghoe shipped dried Korean fish, vegetable and their own brand of noodles to customers in Beijing, before changing course and expanding into consumer electronics?

Flexibility and perseverance are critical elements of business success.  After all most of us don’t spend our lives doing the first job or running the first business we ever had…unless you’ve made a career out of that corner lemonade stand ;-)

Opportunity is everywhere, but it’s easy to miss if we’re bogged down in the status quo and going about business as usual.  This is one reason why the most successful people in any field choose to work with a coach.  Effective coaching can help you recognize your blind spots, keep you accountable to your commitments, encourage you when you’re dealing with challenges, and celebrate your victories and achievements with you.  

The hardest battle you’ll ever have to fight is between who you are now and who you want to be.  Fortunately it’s one you don’t need to fight alone.  If you’re facing a career change, starting a new business or looking to uplevel the one you have, consider enrolling in a coaching program as soon as you’re ready to get going.  Options exist for all interests, learning styles and budgets, including workshops, online courses, group programs and masterminds, as well as personalized individual attention.

Every truly successful entrepreneur understands the importance of investing precious time and money wisely. Choosing to invest in yourself and your success first is one of the wisest business decisions you’ll ever make. 

The Quiet Revolution

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.

~ Joseph Campbell

Many of us grew up hearing stories about our immigrant ancestors and their pioneering spirit - how they bravely embraced the unknown and left home, family and friends to pursue a better life in a new country. That better life typically included self-employment. While it can sound romantic, it wasn’t particularly unique for the 19th and most of the 20th centuries.  In 1900, 90% of people still worked in small businesses that remained in the same family for decades.

Things began to change with the Industrial Revolution. People scrambled to align themselves with big companies that promised safe modern working conditions and a secure paycheck, so that by the end of the last century more than 90% of people now worked for someone else.  Chances are you grew up with adults who went off to work in the morning to a job you may not have known much about, and who often returned home tired and grumpy after a long day. When it came time for you to decide on a career, you were probably told to go for a safe and secure job…and if you objected you were reminded that work wasn’t supposed to be “fun”. 

Well, the wheel is turning once again. The Great Recession of the early 2000’s has kick-started a new entrepreneurial movement. It’s a “quiet revolution” led by individuals who are challenging the employment status quo, and technology is on their side.  More people than ever are entering the brave new world of self-employment, in search of greater freedom, flexibility and fulfillment in their work. 

Of course whenever you explore new territory you can expect to encounter detours and obstacles, and being an entrepreneur is no exception. You won’t always get things right the first time. But if you’re committed to learning from your stumbling blocks (your mistakes) and turning them into stepping-stones, you’ll do just fine – and more than likely find a valuable treasure that “neither moth or rust can corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal.”

© Clear Simple SOULutions LLC 2017