To Thy Own Self Be True

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The last full conversation I had with my dad was a joke.

Seriously, it was a joke. It was a groaner and I guess I should have locked it in my memory for posterity and tender memories and all that stuff but I didn’t. That wasn’t my dad.

Six days later he went to be with the Lord. He’d been living with a host of ailments for the last 6 months and contrary to those stories you read about 95 year old’s running their first marathon your body begins to wear about when you are getting ready to turn 88.

His was. Wearing down that is.

He called me on a Saturday evening and said he had a joke to tell me. He’d heard it from my sister. It was unusual for him to call. My mom always made the phone calls and when you’d ask how dad was feeling she’d pull the phone away from her ear and shout:

Tommy, John wants to know how you’re feeling!

Get my drift.

So I was taken by surprise. He told me his joke, we talked about sports for a few minutes and he said That’s all I needed. Talk with you soon.

But we didn’t. three days later my sister Mary called and said those words I didn’t want to hear. You probably need to come up here. I don’t think it’s going to be much longer.

I am not for certain how many years I have left. I hope quite a few, but when you’re almost 66 you start thinking about your end game.

I don’t act 66. I prefer to associate with younger people and I’m not much for sitting around thinking about the old days. There are folks I hold in my heart but I’m always looking ahead not backward.

That’s who I am. That’s who I’ll always be

I had a good teacher.

My dad was one thing, consistent.

You always knew where you stood and he was easy to anticipate. He never changed. Ask him a question and in most case you already knew the answer

He was we are fond of saying comfortable in his own skin.

I thought about him the other day. I was talking with a coaching client and he told me that one day he just wanted to be like…….

My in box is full of people wanting me to be just like them and for a kings ransom they will show me how it’s done.

But really, they can’t.

You see I cant be anyone other than who I am, and who I was meant to be. It’s like our DNA. There may be similarities with other folks but basically you and I are one of kind.

No matter how hard we try to emulate fill in the blank, we never will.

Look, I been there and done that and I can tell you the main reason I was so attracted to someone elses success pattern: It’s a whole lot easier then carving out your own path.

But in the end I was never as successful as the other guy.

We invest a lot of time and resource in running away from ourselves and becoming something we were never intended to be to begin with.

The key to your success is pulling apart your own DNA and seeing what suprises it has in store for you.

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3 Ways to Get Better Results From Your Network Experience.

“First you must be visible in the community.You must get out there and connect with people. It’s not called net-sitting or net-eating. It’s called networking. You must work at it.” Dr Ivan Misner


Hey. Mr. You-Know-Everybody! You wouldn’t happen to know where I could find a bee keeper? 

I did. Well, I knew someone whose mother was a beekeeper. My doctor’s office was next to a field and when he went to his car at lunch it was surrounded by a swarm of bees. He was allergic to bee stings. A connection I’d met at a local networking event told me his mom was a beekeeper one day while were having coffee.

So what does my doctor, and a bee keeper have to do with networking?

I network for three reasons.

  •        To build my referral network
  •        To test out a new program or product on a live audience
  •        To educate people on who I am and what I do.

There is no magic formula. I attend multiple events each week. There are weeks I will use more that one strategy depending on the group I’m with. If I am a first-time participant, they will hear about who I am and what I do. If I’ve been attending on a regular basis I may talk about my most recent program offering.

It isn’t what happens at the networking experience itself. It’s what happens before and afterwards that determines your success. When I am looking to add new people to my referral network, that’s where my focus is concentrated.

When I enter the room for the event I know why I am there for who I want to connect with AFTER the event is over. Sometimes it’s a brand-new connection in an area a client may need some assistance for. Sometimes its renewing a business relationship that I’ve not cultivated in a while.

Look at it this way: The event you go to once a week for 90 minutes or so is simply a staging area or a springboard for building your business. I believe that’s where we get confused at times.

If I walk in the door and am not sure what my purpose is in being there why should you want to engage with me and learn more about me? If I’m not crystal clear on my purpose and intentions I am asking you to pick through the mine field of my mind and try to figure out exactly what I am trying to say.

There are three things you can do to help yourself be more effective.

Prepare  I cringe when I hear someone say I don’t really have a lot to say today. I’ve been busy. Take ten minutes the night before and prepare. If it’s a group I meet with frequently and most people know who I am I’ll concentrate on a program or an educational moment. Something they’ll remember when they walk away from me.

Engage  No one likes to listen to some one drone on about themselves. Engage a group by starting with a question that pertains to your topic. It gets them involved and makes them feel included. Ask for their advice or ask what they know about something. In short, they become part of my short presentation. A bonus happens when one of their ideas or observations is something you can use in the future.

Be memorable (What’s Your Story)  The way you can tell the contenders from the pretenders is to listen to their story. Have they lived what they are talking about or did they read about it?

confused mind

Have they gone through the experience, know where the trap doors are and how to avoid some of the banana peels? It’s how I found out that one of the folks I network with has a mother who is a beekeeper. They told the story of learning first hand how their mom started a home-based honey business complete with bee hives. That’s something I remembered, and that memory became a referral.

One last thing.

Business working is hard work. It’s  not magic.

 

A Look In The Mirror

I saw Brandy this morning.

That’s right. You probably don’t know who Brandy is.

Brandy is a trainer at my gym.

A few years back I took a class she taught called Ab-Blast. Mostly, it was a grueling hour of contorting your body into all sorts of strange positions twice a week for 5 weeks in an effort to strengthen your core muscles.

I was ready to quit after the first class but I’d paid sixty dollars to be there and a small voice inside of me that sounded an awfully lot like my dad kept shouting You made a commitment!

I was the oldest person in the class. Oldest by a few miles. My partner for our warm ups was a twenty something who had enough energy and enthusiasm to light up a small town.

She told me I reminded her of her grandfather and kept telling me to take it easy.

I toughed it out until the last week. The last week was devoted to forming and holding a plank. If you aren’t aware, a plank is when you put your entire body parallel to the ground, lift up about six inches and hold it for thirty seconds. It’s supposed to strengthen your core muscles. Build character and all that stuff.

Uhm Okay.

It wasn’t working too well for me. I kept falling flat on the mat after about 3 seconds, so I devised a work around, so -to-speak.

I sorta scooted my butt up in the air a bit so I looked like an bridge rather than a plank. It took the pressure off of my core muscles and made me feel a bit more comfy.

Comfy not healthy

Brandy was walking around encouraging us and when she got to me she leaned over really close and whispered

The only person you’re cheating, John, is yourself

With that she firmly put her foot on my lower back and pushed.

Embarrassed?

Humiliated?

Sure was.

What happened early that morning long ago has never left my thoughts for very long.

Taking the short cut, cheating, phoning it in – call it what you will only provides us with a false sense of who we are or what we can do. I’ve come to discover it is one of the more selfish things I can do.

There have been times I’ve been tempted to take the short cut and when I do I remember what she told me. The only person I am cheating is me. I’m robbing myself of an opportunity to grow.

I’ll leave it there

Oh yeah. I don’t see Brandy very often anymore but when I do I make it a point to thank her. She just smiles.

Wisdom comes when we least expect it

Namaste.

The Chain That Binds

Before an elephant can be trained it has to be tamed.

A trainer fastens a chain to its ankle and anchors the chain to a stake in the ground. The elephant is conditioned to stop when the chain provides resistance. Once trained as a baby this elephant who has the power to tear the stake out of the ground, doesn’t. It’s been trained and conditioned to accept limitation and it behaves that way for the rest of its life.

Ever seen how huge and powerful an adult elephant is?

They should easliy remove the stake and ramble and amble wherever it chooses.

But it doesnt.

Somewhere deep inside the elephants mind, when the chain pulls taught it reminds it there are limits to where it can go and what it can do.

And what it can’t do.

It’s been conditioned.

Just like me and you.

Someone or a bunch of someones told us we couldn’t or shouldn’t.

So we didn’t

I am tempted to write another ten paragraphs telling you why we behave the way we do, but ya know what?

We already know.

Breaking that chain, metaphorical or real is a matter of how strongly we believe in our own power and passion. In our lives, our careers and our businesses, we decide what we’ll accept as a limitation and what we won’t let hold us back from our goals and dreams.

It’s up to us

Namaste

The New Normal

I wanna tell you a story.

You know the area on your web page where in big bold letters it says CONTACT ME?

Someone contacted me.

Someone I didn’t know. They wanted to set up a face to face meeting with me. They’d heard about the work I was doing with fledgling entrepreneurs and wanted to discuss some coaching.

Cool beans.

I stalked them looked them up on Facebook and saw that a client of mine was a connection of hers. I do this with just about everyone I meet for the first time that has a social media presence which is just about everybody. It helps remove the awkward, who says what and who goes first and all that other nonsense

Lo and behold one of her connections was a client of mine. Someone I’d coached a few years earlier.

After we shook hands and exchanged business cards with her, I said.

I understand you and I have a mutual connection.

Her face lit up.

OMG!!! We were best friends growing up. We  went to school together! 

For the next ten minutes I listened to her talk about her friend. She told me they’d lost touch because she’d moved to another state for a few years.

I have a daughter-in-law that grew up in that state. It’s beautiful there!

About that time the alarm went off on her phone.

John, I have another appointment in five minutes. Are you busy on Friday? I’d like to talk to you more and set up another meeting.

When I left her office I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes opened up my phone and messaged my client. I wanted to let her know who I’d met. She’d lost touch as well.

Here is my take away and how it relates to the new normal we some of us are creating. 

Stow the sales pitch! (Even if you have to sit on your hands.) It’s about realtionships! Did you notice that nowhere in the narrative above did I share what her purpose was in reaching out to me. Right now it’s irrelevant. I could have sailed into her office, free gift guns blazing, social media links showering from the ceiling and all the testimonials about the lives careers and businesses I’ve saved from the scrap heap. I could have, but what would have been the point?

She’s heard it all before. So have you. It’s why she set the timer on her phone. If I’d have been the lounge lizard of sales she could have done a quick exit with her dignity intact.

He’s gonna come in here and try to sell me something I don’t even need! Why do I do these things? I’ll give him a bottle of water and send him on his way. He’s probably used to it.

We never did get around to why she reached out. She will check me out, mostly with her BFF, and if things resonate with her we’ll move on too the second meeting. If not…. If not I made a new connection that may be a potential referral partner down the line.

True story: I developed a relationship over a one year period with someone I’d met at a networking event. We had lunch or coffee once a month or so. I’d never use her services and she’d never use mine but……………… One evening she met with two people who were looking to start a new business and in their own words Didn’t have a clue what to do first! My networking buddy said I know someone that could help you.

That referral and that relationship netted me a new client who in turn down the road netted me two other clients. All because we got to know and most importantly trust each other.

Can I repeat that?

All because we got to know and most importantly trust each other.

The people who will pay you the value of your service are the people who get it. They are the people who resonate with your message.

A relationship that shouts “equality.” Back in the old days people hired folks like me because there was the belief we drank a magic elixir every morning and it allowed us to gaze into the past, present and future. We knew everything. You, the poor client knew nothing. I am here to save you.

Will that be cash check or charge?

Sure you don’t wanna cash in your 401K to have me lead you to the promised land?

You don’t? Have a nice day. (By the way: There’s something intrinsically wrong with you if my message doesn’t resonate with you. You REALLY do need me)

I am going to give you one final chance. I’ll even let you send me twelve equal payments.

The poo-ru’s said I am supposed to ask you three times to give in and pay me. It doesn’t matter that you’re not sure if you need me or not. Just pay me!

I’m just going to make one point and move on:

Who knows more about your life, your career or your business than you?

Exactly

We, you and I, can see if we want to travel together on a portion of your journey. Can I help you as a coach or mentor? You steer the ship. I point out potential harbors of opportunity and a careful exhortation about the hidden ice bergs you may encounter.

We both walk away wiser.

That’s the new normal to me. (And I like it!)

5 Reasons to Meditate (And how it can help your life and career.)

I have learned that everything – our successes and our failures; our hurdles forward and our reluctance’s to grow – all emanate from the relationship we have with ourselves. It is the bruises and bumps that our soul’s endure that either motivates us or holds us back in our lives, and our careers

I heard this a number of years ago when I was on a retreat. I found it to be true. When I choose to be open and explore who I am and why I am – no matter how painful that may feel at the time – it allows me an opportunity to heal and to grow.

When I have a discovery session with someone I ask is if they have a meditation practice or carve out some quiet time for themselves to reflect on what’s going on in their lives. When they learn to seek themselves through meditation, they are always surprised how things begin to flow for them.

Over the years I have discovered five benefits of creating a successful meditation practice

Meditation can help deal with stressful situations  I have practiced meditation since the late 1980’s. It is my go-to remedy when I feel the muscles in my shoulders and lower back slowly start to tighten until I am the last person you want to be in a room with. Stress breeds stress which……… wait for it……….. breeds more stress. When I’ve worked myself into a dither over something I probably don’t have any control over to begin with I take a pause.

Okay, on top of being really good looking I read minds.

So you want me to leave my workplace and go off in a corner and chant for an hour?

Well, not exactly.

Close your eyes, inhale a deep breath, hold it until the count of five and then slowly exhale, five times.

But isn’t stress natural and inevitable? 

Yup, it is but if we learn how to deal with stress and create strategies to control it we are in control of how it affects us.

While you am concentrating on your breathing it disengages your mind for a short period of time. The whole exercise takes less than a minute.

Which leads me to my next point.

Meditation can help increase focus and attention. The phone is ringing, your smart phone is dinging, and three people are impatiently waiting to dump their issues in your lap. Your head is spinning.

I used to drive myself crazy trying to win a war I had no business fighting.

I started taking time at lunch to relax and rest my mind. I didn’t have a smart phones with apps. I had a cassette recorder with some guided meditations on tape and I’d sit in the car and take some time to reboot.

A smart phone and a good set of ear buds can get you focused and back to dealing with priority issues quicker than you think.

Meditation can boost your creativity Contrary to centuries of mythology the quickest way to advance your career is not to marry the bosses children or suck up to an executive vice president. It’s learning to think and approach an issue from a different perspective.



It’s a great way to get noticed, but…………… (There is always a but ain’t there!) you have to clear out all the useless traffic that’s cluttering your mind like the 405 on a Friday afternoon! When we’re not thinking clearly, we cant focus on creating solutions and we shut down and rather than having the confidence to take a risk with a suggestion or solution that no one else has thought of.

The operative word here is thinking clearly. Daily meditation can help you locate that nasty old clutter and remove it so you can focus on your natural creativity.

Meditation can help overcome anger and confusion I cant’ think of anything worse than being stuck!  First we get frustrated, then confused and if we don’t work our way through the issue, we get angry.

The anger is directed at ourselves because we haven’t figured out an answer to our dilemma. (Even though we like to think it’s because our fourth grade teacher never called on us.)

There are all sorts of modifiers we use when we want to describe being angry. What they mostly say is that our internal field of vision is cloudy and uncertain. Meditation allows us the opportunity to explore our inner self and create ways to deal with our anger and confusion. C

Meditation is a practice not an event. Okay technically this isn’t a benefit but if we don’t embrace this notion right from the beginning we are apt to crash and burn – big time.

When I began meditating some thirty plus years ago I almost stopped after a few days. I had this notion that I should be deep in some foggy thought process for at least an hour each day and wipe my mind totally blank during that time. Otherwise, I wasn’t doing it the right way.

Fortunately a good friend set me straight.

Like everything new, meditation takes time to get the hang of. I started with five minutes each morning and worked my way up to ten. Some days I was surprised when the my clock went ding and some days I kept wondering if the darn thing was busted. Ten minutes! It seemed like 10 years. 

Today I meditate for no longer than thirty minutes each morning.

Clearing our minds? Some days its a breeze. Some days it’s a struggle. What I’ve learned is to hang in there, brush my thoughts away very gently and focus on my breath.

I’d suggest you begin with some guided meditation. It’s like learning to ride a bike with training wheels.

There is no right or wrong way to meditate. The key is to create a practice that benefits your life the most. When you do you will begin to see some positive changes in your life:

You’ll have more energy

You’ll focus on your goals

You’ll open yourself to more self development. 

I promise.

What “New Marketing” Really Means

Can we talk?

I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on the “new” marketing for some time.

Why?

I know some really honest people, chock full of integrity, not so much concerned about earning seven figures as they are getting paid for the value of what they share with the rest of us and as importantly making a contribution. Remember that passion and enthusiasm that got you started?

Then, there are the others.

I thought they’d largely vanished. They are the folks who still poke and prod, get up in our faces and suggest that we never really belonged at the cool kids lunch table anyway. They’ve located our pain and they have the answer.

I had an experience the other day that caused me to write this post.

YouTube videos are my friends. Any time I’m stuck I’ll do a search and viola, there are a host of experts willing to share their thoughts with me. Some of them have made me look like I knew what I was doing , especially when it came to fixing things around the house

The other day I was interested in learning how people were using YouTube videos as a way to build their email list. After a few abortive tries I found one that looked pretty interesting. I hit pause, went for a cup of tea, settled in and punched “resume.”

The content was exactly what I was looking for and I even registered to receive the free gift the presenter offered if I’d share my email address.

I did. I know the drill. To get something you have to give something. No problem.

I knew what was coming next. It’s called the squeeze. You have my attention, you’ve plied me with all sorts of free stuff, now it’s time to reach into my pocket……….. Again, I do not have a problem with this.

It’s called sales and it is not a dirty word.

I read the landing page I was sent to. Again, good stuff. But………….Not anything I needed right now. I book marked it for future reference. Just in case.

Now, people respond to rejection one of two ways:

When I get notice through my provider that someone didn’t click though or left in the middle of reading something I’ll respond by telling them I’m sorry they aren’t interested and one last time in an appropriate way, share the benefits of what I am offering. I close by telling them I hope they enjoy my newsletter or blog or whatever it is they gave me access to their email for.

See, that email address is gold. They may not need the program I am currently offering but down the road something may be of interest to them and they may investigate further.

(Did I tell you one of my motto’s is “Measure progress with a calendar not with a stop watch!”)

The second way of responding to rejection was how I was treated. I received an email that suggested I’d never reach my life or business goals as long as I made the choice not to enroll. As a matter of fact, I was told I was now part of the 99% who didn’t want to work hard and make commitments. It was my loss.

The cool kids lunch table was getting father and farther away.

But ya know what? That’s how they wanted me to feel. They wanted me to feel hurt. They wanted me to lift my tear stained eyes and admit I had it all wrong.

They were my hope and salvation.

There was still time to act.

Let me ask you something?

How do you want to be treated?

Do you want a thank you, see you later, hope we can connect down the road and if not no worries.

Or

Do you want to be told you’re a quivering mass of failure who’ll never amount to anything.

The old way of marketing suggests I find your pain and exploit it. The new way of marketing suggests I find your strengths and passions and celebrate them.

There might even be a happy dance involved.

New Career Creations blends the disciplines of business, career and life coaching to assure their clients have the best opportunity to be successful in all areas of their lives and careers. We partner with you to create those possibilities. A Heroes Journey is published on Tuesday at 7:30 AM CST. You can contact us at John@NewCareerCreations.com

The Wisdom of My Father

I never heard him drop the F-Bomb

He didn’t need to.

He never went along with the crowd and if the prevailing notion of the day lined up with what he believed, so be it. If it didn’t, as he often said, “tough toenails.”

He knew a lot about a lot of things but you never heard him make you look bad. If he thought you were wrong he’d put it in the form of a question and allow you the opportunity to back track a bit and save face.

In the fifty seven years that I knew him, he only recommended one book for me to read. It was Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. He, himself, never had a problem in that area.

When I was old enough I worked summers in the factory he began his career in as a timekeeper. When people saw my name they’d ask me if “Are you Tom’s boy?” I never heard a negative word about him. This high praise came from men who found fault with the good Lord himself.

Don’t ever try to negotiate something with him when he believed his position was the right one. He was never mean or nasty. He simply held his ground and if you didn’t agree, after awhile he’d shake your hand and walk away. No hard feelings.

You could never convince him to do something he didn’t believe 100 percent in. Contrary to my mothers exhortation NOT to have opinions, my father had them and he held firm to them.

If you are thinking I am beginning to make a case for sainthood you’d be wrong. I came of age in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. He and I disagreed on a lot of things especially the War in Vietnam. It made for some interesting dinners.

Looking back, as loud as those arguments became he never made them personal. He would tell me my thinking was flawed but he never attacked me as a person. He told me when I was older I’d look at things differently.

My dad believed in three non-negotiable things.

Your faith in God,

Your family

Your career.

Those were the three things that came before anything else.

I was working third shift when Joan called to tell me my dad had been hospitalized. He’d become violently ill in the middle of the night. It could be his heart. They were running tests. (Turned out to be his gall bladder.)

That morning I reached him in his hospital room. I told him I was going to pack, rest for a bit and head for Milwaukee. He stopped me and said, “You have a family and a job. You take care of them. They come first.”

The last words he spoke to me came two days before he went to be with the Lord. He had an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth and every word was spoken softly. He pulled me close to him, raised the oxygen mask and said

It’s been a good, long life. But gosh, it’s gone by so fast

He was 87.

There was always a sense of who he was and what he had to offer this world. He made no apologies for how he felt or what he believed and deep inside of him was a strong sense of compassion and understanding for just about everyone he met. You didn’t have to agree with him to be his friend.

He’s been gone for seven years. When I look back I’ve always wondered how he came to be so resolute and firm in who he was and what he believed. I believe it was the unshakable confidence he had in himself.

There’s a lesson there.

Four generations My dad, me, my son Matt and my grand daughter Ava-Jo

A Heroes Journey is published each Wednesday morning at 7:30 AM CST