Welcome to the "Thoughtful Kick-Start." If you subscribe, you’ll get something useful every Monday – savvy, upbeat insights - that will lead to exciting results by Friday (and beyond). Enjoy!

Gut

It’s common for people to think that following their instincts, following their gut, following their intuition and trusting their feelings are all the same. They are similar, but there are subtle difference between guts, instincts, feelings and intuition.

GUTS: Knowing belly from brain
Your gut is literally a part of your body, around your stomach. You feel sensations there that relate to instincts and sometimes intuition. You also feel fear. And if you muster up courage, you can feel it flood that area. That’s why people say things like, “that’s a gutsy move”, or “that took guts.” However, sometimes gut feelings are gastro-intestinal. You might just be hungry or have indigestion. Getting in touch with your gut feelings means recognizing when you have physical sensations and what you can do with them. Read on.

2. FEELINGS: Own your feelings
We have all often heard the phrase “trust your feelings” but what if what you’re feeling is a fear that is stopping you from doing something outstanding. Some people use feelings consciously or unconsciously as an excuse to avoid risk and challenges. If you follow my favorite acronym of FEAR – Face Everything And Rise, think what you might achieve.

3. INSTINCTS: Think quick
Your instincts are extremely useful in situations that require quick thinking, snap judgement and on-the-spot decisions. In fact, instincts bypass cognitive thinking and simply lead you to act based on the billions of data points from all of your life’s experiences, observations and decisions. When you somehow just “know” what to do, trusting your instincts is not unscientific at all.

4. INTUITION: Trust yourself.
Intuition is similarly based on the abundance of your life’s experiences, but comes up as a smaller, quieter voice you tap into for decisions over which you have more time to ponder. By gathering all the information, thoughts and feelings you have about a decision and then closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths, you can access your intuition. This process will yield answers that sometimes will contradict logic in the short term but will be highly aligned to your true purpose and direction. With practice, living from your intuition brings great joy, success and peace, and trusting your intuition will build a strong sense of self-confidence, which also enlarges the circle of people who trust you.

Begin to notice recognizing your feelings. Trust your gut but be very discerning between instinct and intuition to make fabulous decisions.

So what about you? What decisions are you facing now, or that deal with often, that would be supported by exploring the nuances between guts, feelings, instincts and intuition?

I Don't Like It

One night, I was at a bar called the Oath in Tarrytown known for its artisan draft beers. Being that I prefer gluten-free beverages, I had a shot size taste of an artisan cider with ginger and tamarind. It taught me a lesson.

You see, I didn’t like it.

However, something compelled me to order a pint anyway. I decided there are times in life to say "yes" to explore the experience and not be shut out of something new based on lack of preference. I overcame the slightly childish “I don't like it” attitude and took a powerful, albeit small, risk.

The first few sips were really strange but then I came to understand why this was a popular cider. I ended up actually enjoying the pint and having a memorable experience. From then on, more and more I didn’t let “I don't wanna” stop me from doing new things. For example, I have a spare bedroom and I wasn't too keen at first about making it available on AirBnB. I did anyway. And I've met some really interesting people who have visited as guests, and I made a little extra spending money along the way. That didn’t hurt.

How about you? Is there something, or someone, you want to be pursuing but you are blocked by your own "I don't wanna" or "I don't like it" attitude? What if you transcended that and took it on as a life experience? I hope it gets you where you wanna be.

Excitement

Did you know that you can bring excitement to ANY day, by choosing to be the source?

Today we'll get into some specific ways that YOU can generate excitement:

1) Envision having positive outcomes happen today as a result of past efforts.

2) Envision a fantastic and productive day that ends with a great sense of accomplishment.

3) Envision having an exciting collaboration with one or some of your favorite people.

4) Envision or consider finding new ways of dealing with persistent challenges.

Then you can follow through with excitement by taking the actions you envision.

This may seem simple, but the best ideas usually are.

So hit play and learn how make your day more exciting starting right now!

Starting Strong

     The start of a new year is a time to reflect and consider your full potential. I’m sure I’m not alone in being excited for this year to start strong every day and every week. Here are 3 ways to overcome your top-of-the-year to-do list and use your time to your best advantage.

     Planning the Day. I have certainly mentioned more than once this tried-and-tested formula - planning your day the night before allows you to be more focused on “the day” as it occurs.  When you start your day knowing what’s on the plan – when you’re tackling which tasks between appointments - you’re less likely to be riddled with anxiety and thrown by distractions.  I’ll add a reminder to also plan a little buffer time for the inevitable distractions as well as the unknown opportunities that may be too good to postpone.  It’s also wise to schedule “Get-Back-To-You” time following every block of focused time – so you can truly stay focused and avoid the e-mails, phone-calls and unwanted interruptions that would otherwise tempt you to procrastinate.  Listen to this recording for more detail about this technique

     Planning the Week. Those of you who start your work week with my Monday Morning Mini Motivation Meetings (M5) have already started your week in the right mind-set. I always invite you to start your week with the intention of creating a full week of focused accomplishments. As always, plan your week in advance and don’t forget to coordinate your schedule with your loved ones.  Spouse, kids and pets are as important (if not more important) than your next great business contact! 

     Planning the Year. With the right mind-set, you can make any year your most  successful and balanced.  Write down your most important goals for the year – stating clearly your ideal victory in measurable terms. Then break down measures for each month. For some useful tools, go to http://www.jfcoach.com/gcr and use the Game Plan Worksheet for managing a project-oriented goal, and the Goal Tracking Scoreboard for mapping your annual goal into monthly targets. These “Game-Changing Resources” will help you stay focused and motivated for 2017 and beyond.

     Feel free to share your goals, questions or comments here!  I love exciting news.  Thank you and Happy New Year!

You CAN Always Get What You Want.

In 1968, The Rolling Stones recorded the song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

We’ve come a long way since then, and I’m afraid I have to dis-agree.

“You CAN always get what you want, but you might not get what you want when you want it. However, anything you really want is possible.”

If there is a goal, a level of achievement or a dream you want to fulfill, you can get there with a few key ingredients as daily practices. Here’s how:

1. Commitment – if it’s truly important to you to raise those funds, galvanize the team, find the ideal person for a job, find that great new job or land a few supreme clients, you can get there by keeping the possibility of it alive without attachment. Have a “whatever it takes” kind of attitude and continue reading these guidelines

2. Non-attachment – you know that right now there is a domain of your control and influence, and people and things outside of those domains. You’ll win some “innings” and you’ll strike out sometimes. Just stay in the game!

3. Purpose and Opportunity – make sure to tap into your infinite creativity and resourcefulness and transform the goal YOU want achieve into an opportunity for others to experience an opportunity and a victory along with you.

4. Bold requests - Fearlessly ask the right people, the best people to support you in achieving your goal. Remember the SW Rule… some will, some won’t so what? Someone’s waiting for an opportunity like the one that aligns with honoring your request. If you procrastinate around engaging other people, you’ll get nowhere slowly, but if you boldly ask twice as many people – or three times as many – you’ll get more practice with your request and ultimately get a yes!

5. Persistence – if you don’t quit, you can’t fail.

If you’d like to have this message in a motivating 5 minute audio recording, click here.

I’ll walk my own talk and ask you to share this blog post with the people you care about and people you want to know better. It’s my gift to you and them, and it would be a most welcome gift to me if you would share this with as many people as you can think of.

Here’s the Thoughtful Kick-Start challenge for today - How will you “get what you want” this week?

Time For A Break

Click PLAY above to listen along while you read

As we get closer to the holidays, it’s crunch time for a lot of people in our business community. A vacation may be just around the corner for you. If not, you will find this blog to be an important and exciting challenge.
It’s time to take a break! And taking this break may actually have a significant positive impact on your productivity, wellness and the important relationships in both your business and personal life.

Research from the Mayo Clinic points to the importance of taking breaks often. If you’re in the middle of a deal, or if it’s just the middle of the day, taking a break gives your brain a chance to refuel.

The part of your brain where you do all your concentrating and thinking, the pre-frontal cortex, is a resource hog. Similar to the muscles in your arms and legs, the brain requires a significant amount of oxygen, water, glucose and rest to function at optimal levels. If you plow ahead without a pit stop, you burn out your ability to do your best thinking, inventing or communicating. If a pit stop is okay for a NASCAR or INDY racer, who has to get things done fast, it could be good enough for you! You’ll feel it when it’s missing, and I hope you become more aware of it, especially if you’ve gotten used to ignoring the feeling.

Here’s what to do instead:

• Some experts recommend taking a 10-minute break every hour. Others suggest you find your own rhythm, but consider at least taking some time away from a focused task after two hours of continuous work. A break doesn’t have to mean sneaking away somewhere for a nap. In fact, breaks shouldn’t be sedentary. Movement of some sort along with deep breathing work wonders for your mind such as a walk up and down the hall or a short visit outdoors for some fresh air.

• Drink plenty of water and eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and nuts. That helps a lot!

• Beyond just taking short breaks during the working day, consider the importance of taking a vacation.

If you’re working on a deal that has a deadline, consider being the leader you have always wanted to be (or whispering in the ear of the leaders you are working with) to make the following information available: according to Dr. Michael W. Smith as published on WebMD, “People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals… It doesn’t have to be two weeks in Europe, either”

Whatever you can do to give yourself that break, you’ll end up doing much clearer thinking and that can help get the deal done right.
On that note, on behalf of my family and the whole gang here at JFCA, Happy Holidays and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year to you and yours.

The Power of Transformation vs. Change

What is the distinction between transformation and change.

Making changes can be beneficial for any person who is interested in growth and who is looking to make a particular situation better.   Change involves examining something that is not working as well as it could be, identifying options for making it better and choosing a direction and action plan to implement something different.

Transformation however can be classified on a deeper, more powerful and more sustainable level. Transformation involves unraveling limiting beliefs and unleashing limitless new possibilities and potential that is naturally energizing.
I invite you to consider what are some of the limiting thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes you may have about an area of your leadership, your business or your life that might benefit from a change or a transformation?   Listen here for more insights that might help your thinking.

Balanced Networking

Today we are talking about Balanced Networking.  These are important concepts and practices regardless of your role in business.  If you are a CEO or in an executive leadership role in a company, you will always want to expand your network.  There are two sides to the coin of making new relationships to keep in balance.  
 
The first one is having the “You NEVER KNOW” attitude – believing that anything is possible. Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, made a similar suggestion in an Entrepreneur magazine article  "Networking Fundamentals to Boost Your Bottom Line.  One of his points is to “Continuously add people to your network - think variety, not quantity.”
 
When you are out and about meeting people, be open to talking to anyone.  You never know!  Do you remember when you first met your best client? Did you know that the person was going to be your best client?  You never know who is going to be the next superstar person in your business or your life.
 
Dr. Misner also advises us to “Be selective.” This is particularly relevant when you are organizing your follow up.
 
In other words, when figuring out how stay in touch with the people you meet, trust your instincts to schedule more quality time with people most likely to become dream clients, dream contacts, centers of influence, a dream employee, ideal referral partner, etc. and who would value what you do and who you are. That way, if you do run out of time, you will end the day saying, "Wow, what a productive day I had!"  
 
So how about you?  How might you balance your networking?  More open-ness?  More activity?  More fine-tuned prioritization?
 
Keep me posted… I love good news!

Being Heard

I have a client who runs a business and has two people working in his main office. They weren't answering the phones with the level of energy that he considered representative and efficient. He had frequently asked them to change their behavior, but he didn't seem to get through to them. Sound familiar?

This week we answer the question “How do you want to be heard?” There are two key points in getting heard: Motivation and Clarity. More about that later.

First, I'll give you a couple of reasons why communication doesn't always land:

  1. You're not convinced yourself that your message is important enough to be heard. That will lead you to present your message with a lack of conviction and clarity, and create fuzzy communication. To prevent this, you can prepare the delivery of your message to be more clear and convincing.
  2. The receivers don't think your message is important enough. It could be that they are not interested in the subject, or think that you don't have enough expertise about the subject. If they're not interested in the topic, you should first find out if you're speaking to the right people. If that's the case, ask what it is they are interested in and find a way of placing your message in that context. If there is indeed a gap in expertise, you can overcome that gap by putting your message in the context of research, or quotes by people who have that expertise. Another way is to bring in experts to support your message.
  3. The receivers have something on their mind that's more important to them. Very often we're speaking to people who are listening to something else: their own thoughts. Make eye contact when you are speaking to them. If you see any body language signaling that they're drifting off, check in on them by simply asking “Any questions? Is this clear so far?”
  4. Your message is important to the receivers, but unappealing. Especially when we're delivering unhappy news, we have to be wary of people drifting in and out of attentiveness.

If these blocks are out of the way, it's all about the key points in getting heard:

  1. Motivation. People in general are motivated by money, learning, exploring new and exiting opportunities, growth opportunities and a sense of connectedness through a purpose. If you notice that people aren't motivated to follow your lead, see if you can create a shared goal in alignment with any of these points.
  2. Clarity. In the case of my client, there was also a lack of clarity. He wasn't clear about what kind of questions he wanted his staff to ask, information they had to convey, or needs they should be listening for. Clarity can be provided verbally, but also in the form of writing or graphics. This client wrote a few scripted lines that did wonders for his employees.

For this week I invite you to be listening and also communicating with great clarity. This will cause anything you want to occur that involves other people. If you're having trouble with communicating to a particular person, you're welcome to send me an e-mail or give me a phone call so we can find a custom made solution.

Special thanks to Frank Brasser for contributing ideas on this subject.

To listen to this week's Monday Morning Mini-Motivation Meeting, press play or download mp3:

Gratitude

It’s November, which includes Veterans Day, and of course Thanksgiving.  With these two special days we are going to focus on the power of gratitude, both in business and in our personal life. Gratitude is the gateway to happiness, and this really is true.  If you take a moment to consider anything you are grateful for, you will experience happiness.

In fact, some people, like my colleague Melissa Schnapp of LifeStep Coaching, suggested that every day you write down 3 things that you are grateful for.  If you do this every night, you are going to go to sleep with calmness and wake the next morning set up with an attitude for gratitude.  What is the use of this in business?  How does this set us up for success?  

Studies show that happier people work better. That should include you and the people around you.

So on Veterans Day, we reflect on those who serve our country, who give their lives so that we can live ours in freedom.  We can do so with a great level of gratitude, and really appreciate the freedoms we have in this country.

We can look at this whole month as gratitude month as we move toward Thanksgiving and spending time with the people we care about.  

So what about you and your business?  What are the 3 most important elements, what can you be most grateful for in your business today and every day?  What will you honor by expressing your appreciation, for your team's efforts, intent, results?  Express that every day and you are going to have a happier experience and be more energized to do more work and you are going to be more successful.

Welcome! The purpose of this blog-cast is to provide thoughtful perspectives on leadership, team dynamics and peak performance for leaders and top producers. You'll start every week with savvy, upbeat and focused insights every Monday (read and/or listen) to produce exciting results by Friday (and beyond). Enjoy!

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