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The Stunningly Simple Secret Part 2

The Stunningly Simple Secret Part 2

Busy or effective.  Which one are you?  Did you know it’s possible to do away with almost 80% of your to do list?

Here is a myth about being self-employed.  You start a business.  You work 80 hours a week to build it up.  In 5 years or so, you are a roaring success.

In my last post (http://successfulcm.com/2017/04/28/stunning-simple-secret-improves-productivity/) we discussed how you can choose the hours you want to work, and then use the 80/20 rule to accomplish the 20% of important activities to produce 80% of your results.

 

But what about the rest of the pile?

In this post, I’ll discuss ways you can take the other 80% of your To-Do pile and dump it, delegate it, or delay it.

What Can I Dump?

The first thing to do is to look at your pile and pick out the problem areas wasting a lot of your time.

Remember the 80/20 rule works in all kinds of ways.

Who are the 20% of customers, clients, or prospects causing 80% of your headaches?  How much do they contribute to your bottom line?  My experience is the ones who constantly complain about stuff many times are just trying to shift the blame for their own flaws.  Fire them.  You are better off without them.

You don’t have to be nasty about it.  I have said to clients, “I’m sorry.  I think I’ve done all I know how to do for you.  You’ll be much better off finding someone else who can (fill in the blank)”

If it’s a prospect, you can say, “I’m sorry.  I just don’t think I’m the right person for you.”

I think one of the most wonderful things about being self-employed is the ability to choose the people you want to work with.  Helping others to solve their problems or achieve their goals should be a joyful experience.  If it’s not.  Move on.

What are the time wasters?

  • Email- Probably the #1 time killer.  I’d be willing to bet you 95% of the mail in your inbox is crap.  Get rid of it.  If an email does not relate to getting you business somehow, delete it.  If you get irrelevant emails from the same sender more than once, assign the sender to your junk or spam file.Only look at email twice a day.  Pick the times.  I review once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  Outside of those times, I turn the email completely off. Those emails that are business related should be answered within 24 hours. Keep your emails focused.  Stick to one subject if possible.  Answer it and move on.

There is one caveat here.  If you are emailing a customer, client or prospect about a specific subject and you find you are trading 3, 4, or 5 emails to no result, pick up the phone and call.

  • Phone calls. Turn off your phone during the day.  No…your business will not suffer.  Put a voicemail greeting on your phone that says, “Sorry I am not available to take your call.  Please leave a message.”   If someone won’t leave a message, they are not interested in doing business with you.  That said, here is the caveat.  I call it the “Sunset Rule.”  All calls received before 4 PM should be returned by sunset the same day.  Even if you don’t have an answer for the caller you are telling them you received their call, they are important to you, and you will contact them again when you have an answer for them.  If you are getting more calls than you can handle on an issue, you may want to consider delegating.
  • Meetings. There are two kinds of meetings. One on one meetings with a prospect or client to discuss projects or work in progress.  These are OK.  You should build an agenda for the meeting.  Publish it ahead of time.  Stay focused.  Try to hold the meeting to an hour.  The other kind of meeting is a committee meeting, general discussion, exploration, presentations, pitch sessions, etc.  Avoid these like the plague.  Nothing is ever accomplished here.  One of my favorite quotes is from the humorist Dave Barry, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’”

Delegate

If you are a one-person shop, the way I am, this gets a little more challenging.  You have decided how many hours a week you want to work.  You have chosen the most important things to focus on. You have dumped everything you can.  There’s still stuff left. Now what?

One thing you can do is hire a virtual assistant.  Sources for virtual assistants can be found online.  Be very careful here.  The tendency is to hire a virtual assistant and then simply dump on them everything you don’t want to do.  This is a recipe for disaster.  You would be wise to eliminate the activity completely before you delegate it.

A virtual assistant should be treated as any other employee.  Interview them for compatibility.  Pick a specific function you want them to do. Train them how to do it.  Then turn them loose.

Let’s take the example from the previous paragraph.  You are getting a ton of phone calls on a specific subject. Imagine you are a consultant.  You have offered a free half-hour of your time to discuss a certain issue.  People are calling to book an appointment.

Train your virtual assistant on how to answer questions about the half-hour session. Give them the hours and dates you are available.  Have a separate phone number for booking the appointments. Google Voice is great for this. Turn them loose.  Inspect the results daily at first, then weekly.

You can also delegate out to contract workers and/or freelancers.  Again, you must be careful to confine this to specific functions with clearly defined procedures and goals.

Delay

Finally, there is delay.  This is really a default tactic.  There is stuff in your pile that isn’t part of the 20% getting you 80% of your results.  You can’t (or won’t) dump it.  Now what?

Delay it.  Actually, what I mean by this is ignore it.  Most of the time, this junk will just melt away on its own.  If there’s something in there that must be done, it will rise to assume crisis proportions.

In Conclusion

The idea here is to use your work time to be effective.  Focus on only those things that produce results.  Let the rest go.  This isn’t always easy.  Those things outside of the 20% of effort producing 80% of the results will sap your energy and distract you from the important. The inconvenient truth is you’ll never get it all done.  There’s always one more thing getting added to the list.  Focus on the 20%, Dump, Delegate, or Delay the rest.  You’ll be surprised how much you get done and how good you feel.

How to Find Success

How to Find Success

“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Zig Ziglar

Think about this simple statement.  It almost sounds too easy doesn’t it?

The great myth.

As Americans, we are all taught as children to aspire to success.  What does it really mean and how does one get it?  Is it a bigger house, nicer car, more money in the bank?  Do you have to work 16 hour days, 7 days a week, plot to destroy your competitors or anyone else that gets in your way?  This is the great American myth.  The way to happiness is paved with the accumulation of more “Stuff”.  Put another way it’s, “He who dies with the most toys wins”

What is success?

If we want to achieve something, don’t we have to define it first?  There’s an old Yogi Berra quote, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”  So, just what is success?

First, I believe success, like happiness is an inside job.  Only you can decide what success is for you.

This is the hard part isn’t it?  There is no one arbitrary, one size fits all, definition of success.  There’s no check the block list that, once completed, earns you a certificate from the US Department of Success.

If you win the nobel prize in physics but don’t have a dime in the bank, are you a success?

Then there’s the nagging question, what happens when you get there?  Do you then “live happily ever after?”

So, What’s the Answer?

I believe success is not a place or a thing.  I believe success is a wonderful, long, never ending journey.  One that is filled with sorrows, joys, trials, tribulations, celebrations, and fascinating traveling companions.  For, if we are fortunate enough to attain success, we will not do it alone.

How do I get started?

This brings me back to Zig Ziglar’s quote that led off this article, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

What this means to me is that life is really about service to others.

No, I am not talking about giving away all your earthly possessions, taking a vow of poverty, and moving to a monastery.

What I am talking about is simply devoting your time to helping other people get what they want.  When you do this,  people are glad to pay you for your assistance.

I used to be a mortgage banker.  I originated residential mortgage loans for people.  What I was really doing was helping people to buy homes.  I got paid very well for helping potential home buyers get what they wanted.  At the same time, my employer wanted mortgage loans to add to their servicing portfolio.  So, by helping home buyers, I also helped my employer get what they wanted.

See what I mean?

Ask yourself, “What am I passionate about?”  Make a list of things you really love to do.

Now pick one or two things on the list and ask, “How can I take this one thing I love to do and use it to help someone else get what they want?”

It’s a two way street

When you think about it, success really is a two way street.  We can only be successful by helping someone else be successful.

Let’s look at an example.  With apologies to accountants everywhere, I’ve tried to pick something that sounds pretty boring.  Taxes.  Did you know that at the end of 2014, the Federal Tax Code was 74,608 pages long? (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/look-at-how-many-pages-are-in-the-federal-tax-code/article/2563032)

Let’s say you are an accountant.  Your specialty is taxes.  You are passionate about being able to pick apart the tax code to find all the little inconsistencies, faults, loopholes, etc., that people can use to reduce their tax bill come April 15th.  The more complicated the issue, the happier you are.

I’m a guy with a very sophisticated business situation involving multiple partnerships.  I’m trying to find someone to help me get my taxes done on time, yet pay the lowest amount due.  Do you think I would be happy to pay your fee to help me accomplish my goal?

You betcha!

In Conclusion

Joseph Campbell became fascinated with mythology.  He theorized there was a single myth (the monomyth) that was the pattern for all great myths no matter their origin or time of creation.

“Wow,” you say. “That sounds pretty dull.”

A professor at Sarah Lawrence College, Joseph Campbell became one of the most prolific authors and teachers of the twentieth century.  One of his most famous books was The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

This book has influenced untold numbers of writers and film makers in the art and practice of story telling.

George Lucas used the ideas in this book to shape the stories in the Star Wars Trilogy.

Joseph Campbell, was the one who said, “Do what you love and the money will follow.”

I believe this is true.  I also believe, if you follow this course of action, you will be both happy and successful.  But, remember…you are the only one who gets to decide whether or not you have achieved success.

Pick something you love to do.  Find some one who needs it done.  Go do it for them. Be patient and persistent in your service.  Have lots of fun along the way. Most of all, don’t let anyone else define your success.

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What are the 6 Simple steps to success?

What are the 6 Simple steps to success?

We all want to be successful. Volumes have been written on the subject.  Courses and Seminars abound on the subject.  Yet the amazing truth is there is a simple 6 step formula anyone can follow that leads to success in any endeavor.

Here they are:

  1. Know where you are.
  2. Know where you want to go.
  3. Take action
  4. Evaluate the results.
  5. Adjust the action taken in light of the feedback obtained in step 4
  6. Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 until you achieve success.

“Oh come on!” I hear you say.  “It can’t be that easy.”

Wait…I didn’t say it was easy.  I just said it was simple.

Let’s break it down.

Steps 1 and 2

I think steps 1 and 2 should be taken together.  And…not necessarily in order.

In my experience, most people choose “Know where you want to go” first. This your goal.  It can be big or small, business or personal, but this is what you want. It’s the reason for going through this whole process.  If you are doing this for the first time, I suggest you choose a small goal to try the process out to prove it works.   

Go ahead.  Pick a goal.  Now.

Got it?

Write it down.

Before we leave this step, let’s make sure we know what success looks like.   

You should state your goal in the positive as if it were already achieved.  It should have a completion date.  It should be very specific.  So specific that if I called you on the completion date and asked you, “Did you achieve the goal?” your answer could only be “Yes” or “No”.

Let’s say you wanted to learn how to fly.  Your goal could be, “By December 31st of this year, I have obtained my private pilots license.”

Now, let’s go back to step one: Know where you are.

Knowing where you are is the starting point.  Once you can compare that to where you want to go, then the action steps will begin to appear.

Where are you?  Let’s develop a list based on the goal of learning to fly.

1.  Where do you live?  Where is the nearest airport that has an FBO (Fixed Base Operator) where you can learn how to fly?

2.  How old are you?  You must be 17 to get a private pilots license.  There is no upper age limit as long as you can pass the physical.

3.  Are you physically fit? You have to get a 3rd class medical certificate from an FAA Certified Flight Surgeon.  This is usually not an issue as long as you do not have a physical condition that would prevent you from safely operating an aircraft.

4.  Do you have the time to devote to obtaining your license?  Time is an issue.  You must have at least 40 hours of flight time.  However most students need more to become proficient enough to pass the test.  Figure at least 60 hours to be sure.  Plus, there is travel time to the airfield, and ground school.  There is also study time on your own.  You will probably spend 3 hours studying for every hour of flight time.  Total study time…180 hours.

5.  Do you have the financial resources to accomplish your goal?  This is the big one.  Here is a break down of what you can expect:*

  • Aircraft Rental.  60 hours in a  Cessna 150 at $90/hour.  $5,400.
  • Instructor.  40 hours at $45/hour.  $1,800
  • Materials and Exam fees. $600.
  • Flight Test Aircraft Rental.  $135
  • Aircraft Renters Insurance.  $350.  (You need this.  You don’t want to be responsible for a $30,000 airplane if you make a bad landing)
  • Grand Total?  $8,285

*Note:  These rates are estimates and will vary based on aircraft type, fuel cost, local instructor rates, and area of the country.

I want to pause just a moment to apologize.  If you have no interest in learning how to fly, this list is boring you to tears. I went through it for a reason.  Your goal can be fuzzy.  If you’ve never done it before, you can’t know all the components of achieving it. But, you must be completely honest with yourself about where you are now!  Failing to do this may doom you from the start.

Steps 3 and 4

Step 3 is take action.  Now we are getting somewhere.

Let’s go back to learning how to fly.

The first logical action step would be to call the FBO at the nearby airfield you found and ask about flight instruction.  Most FBO’s offer an introductory flight, either for free or a reasonable cost.  On this flight, you will spend an hour in the air with a flight instructor, learning a few basic maneuvers to see if this is for you.

Action step #1:  You go take the flight.

Step 4.  Evaluate the results.

Did you enjoy it?  Or, were you motion sick and on the verge of vomiting most of the time?

If you were motion sick, then you may decide this is not for you.  If so, you can abandon this goal, and save yourself a lot of time and money.

Let’s say you loved it.  You are so excited you can’t wait to get back in the air again.

Step 5

Step 5 is to adjust your actions based on the evaluation of the action taken in step 4.

You loved the flight.  You like the instructor and feel you can learn a lot from him or her.

Based on that, your next step is to sign up for the course.

Step 6

Step 6 is to keep repeating steps 3, 4, and 5 until you are successful.

I have a couple of points here:

1.  You don’t need to plan too far in advance.  If you were accurate in your self assessment in steps 1 & 2, action steps will appear in natural order.  If you plan too far in advance, you risk losing the flexibility to adjust when things go wrong.

2.  Keep it simple.  As humans, our minds try to make things complicated and constantly look for trouble.  The key is to focus on what you want. Obstacles will appear. When they do, ask yourself the magic question, “How can I (insert here the obstacle you want to overcome).

Going back to learning how to fly:

  • Action Step: Get the training manuals and start studying
  • Evaluation:  You find the material interesting and not too difficult.
  • Action Step: Take the ground school test.
  • Action Step: Start flying with instructor- learn basic maneuvers.
  • Evaluation:  Some maneuvers are easy, some are more difficult.
  • Action step:  More practice on the difficult maneuvers.

And So?

You can’t fail.  Yes, things will go wrong.  Yes, you will make mistakes.  But every mishap, every mistake, gives you feedback you can use to adjust your next action.  Keep going, and you will succeed.  The only way you can fail is by quitting.

Remember, Thomas Edison ran more than 10,000 experiments before he found the material to use for the filament in the incandescent light bulb.  That’s persistence.

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