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Your Road Map For Success


Title : Your Road Map for Success
Author : John C. Maxwell

The Big Idea
John C. Maxwell, best-selling author of the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, begins this book by sharing an article about how people define success. He reveals that most people who want to be successful misunderstand success, that it is an ideal situation incorporating impossible elements. Some want to have the beauty of a Cindy Crawford or the business acumen of a Bill Gates. He redefines success but stating what it is not. It is not wealth, not a feeling of success, specific possessions, power or achievement. He then cites specific examples of well-known personalities who had achieved all these but could still not consider themselves succesful.

He then sets out to present the idea that after studying the subject of success, success knows your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential and sowing seeds that benefit others. Then success is a journey, not necessarily a destination. This thinking frees an individual to become a success today and not at some distant time in the future.

 
Knowing Your Purpose

Maxwell quotes psychologist, Viktor Frankl, “Everyone has his own specific vocation. . . that demands fulfillment. Everyone’s task is as unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” Maxwell urges people to ask identify his purpose by asking him “For what am I searching? Why was I created? And Do I believe in my potential?” He also says the time to start seeking that purpose is now.

Growing to your Potential

Maxwell says success comes as the result of growing to our potential. He warns that we can do anything but not everything.

He recommends four steps towards growing out toward your potential:

 

  1. Concentrate on one main goal. It is important to know what you are willing to give up to achieve that goal.
  2. Concentrate on continual improvement. Each day you should work on being a little bit better than you were yesterday.
  3. Forget the past. Despite the mistakes of the past you must learn from them and move on. The past should not hinder you from reaching your potential. He cites Booker T. Washington who did not let slavery and poverty hold him back from founding the Tuskegee Institute. He cites Helen Keller who though blind and dead, went on to finish college and become a noted lecturer and author.
  4. Focus on the future. You can only look forward. You will always have room to improve yourself.

 

Sowing Seeds that Benefit Others

Maxwell insists that one other crucial element to take along on the road to success is the desire to help others. We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give. Maxwell says that one does have to travel to Africa, as did Albert Schweitzer to help others. Helping others can be accomplished right at home, whether it is spending time with your family or teaching a new employee as Danny Thomas expressed it, “Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”

 

In writing down the basic principles for achieving success, Maxwell aims to provide readers with a road map for taking the journey to success.

 

Where would I like to go?

Maxwell says you cannot travel without identifying your destination. He says there is a dream in every one of us and differentiates it from wishful thinking fantasies such as winning a lottery. He refers to a dream inside us that tells us this is what we were born to do, that harnesses the best of our talents and provides is with our purpose in life. He cites Henry Ford who said, “The whole secret of a succesful life is to find out what is one’s destiny and then to do it.” Ford developed his interest in machines until he built the automobile in his own shed. His dream was the mass production of the automobile. Within eight years of establishing the Ford Motor Company, Ford’s production went from 6,000 cars to more than 500,000. They also pushed the price down from $ 850 to $ 360.

What does a dream do for us? It gives us direction. It increases our potential. The greater the dream, the greater the potential. A dream helps us prioritize. Maxwell says the person with a dream knows what he is willing to give up. He is able to concentrate on the things that bring him closer to his dream and give less attention to the things that do not. A dream adds value to our work, by allowing us to see that each activity becomes part of that dream. A dream predicts our future. We are able to have a mental picture that enables to move from one accomplishment to another. Maxwell says you can pursue your dream no matter where you are today.

Stages for Developing a Dream

Maxwell says it is not enough to have a dream. He recommends steps for developing a successful dream.

I Thought It

A dream begins with a vision that grows out of a heartfelt desire. To find that dream you need to:

  • Believe in your ability to succeed.
  • Get rid of your pride. Pride prevents you from taking risks.
  • Cultivate constructive discontent. You must desire positive change. Constructive discontent will motivate you to find your purpose.
  • Escape from habit. Habits can cause you to stop dreaming. You need to break out of the rut and start searching for your dream.
  • Balance creativity with character. It is not enough to think of the dream, you must have the character to try and produce that dream. You must be ready to go to work.

I Caught It

It is not enough to think of a dream. You must feel it. Your dream must live not just in your mind but also in your emotions.

I Sought It

What separates a developer of a succesful dream and a mere daydreamer is committed action. You must go after your dream.

A Few Shot It

Dreams can be incredibly fragile in the beginning, prone to being shattered, even by well-meaning family or friends. Your dream must endure so that it can withstand the criticism of those we love.

I Got it

Success is measured in inches, not in miles. You need to be dedicated and to persevere to get to the I got it stage.

Some Others Fought it

Maxwell says the people around you are either firefighters who will try to put out the fire of your dream or the firelighters who will help you stoke the fires of your success higher.

I Taught it

A person who shares her dream with others will watch it grow. The dream becomes greater than the person who dreamed it when that dream is shared with others.

Others Bought it

Dreams are infectious. Once you share your dream, others will buy it and will follow a person who has a dream.

Go for the Dream

Make a commitment to yourself to find your dream and follow it.

Maxwell recommends you make and sign a statement that will commit you to being succesful. In this statement, you will articulate your purpose in life and promise to grow to your maximum potential and sow seeds that benefit others. You will also promise to do what it takes and persevere.

How Far Can I Go?

John Maxwell likes to bring up the landing on the moon as example of an “impossible feat” that became a reality. When Pres. John F. Kennedy made a speech on May 25, 1961, he promised Congress that the US would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. At the time, the Russians were so far ahead of the Americans in their own space exploration programme that even NASA did not believe they could do this. But on July 16, 1969, six years after Kennedy’s death, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, landed the lunar module Eagle on the surface of the moon. Kennedy had expressed a dream as a vision.

Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude

Maxwell says the moon landing, then impossibility, became a reality because of a change in attitude. He says:

  • A dream without a positive attitude produces a daydreamer.
  • A positive attitude without a dream produces a pleasant person who can’t progress.
  • A dream together with a positive attitude produces a person with unlimited possibilities and potential.

Maxwell says without the proper positive attitude, one cannot enjoy the success journey.

Who and where you are today results from your attitude. Abraham Lincoln said, “Every man over forty is responsible for his face.” By the time one is in his second decade, your choices are all your own. Your attitude is also your own and this determines the person you are today and where you are,

Your Current Attitude is a Choice

One’s attitude cannot be blamed on something else other than oneself. Your attitude should not depend on:

  • Circumstances : You are completely responsible for your reaction to what happens to you.
  • Upbringing : You cannot let the past control your present.
  • Limitations : Limitations should not be obstacles. Instead they should be guidelines, helping you on your journey.
  • Others : It is up to you to move beyond past hurts. Ultimately only you are responsible for your choices.

Boston Celtic player Bill Russel used to say, “The game is scheduled, we have to play it – we might as well win.” While Russel played with the Celtics, the team won eleven NBA titles in 13 years.

Your attitude determines how you approach the journey. If you expect the worst you will certainly get it. But if you expect the best even when negative circumstances come your way, you can make the best of it.

The better your attitude is, the farther you will go. A study at King’s College Hospital in London showed that out of 57 women who had undergone mastectomies for breast cancer, it was whose who maintained a positive attitude who remained alive ten years later. Having a positive attitude not only enables you to go farther it also prolongs your life.

Your attitude means the difference between success and failure. A good attitude not only makes the journey more enjoyable, it also enables people to make the best of any situation.

Seven Signs of a Great Attitude

  • Believe in yourself . When you believe in yourself, you are free to focus on improving yourself and reaching your goal.
  • Willingness to see the best in others. Maxwell says if you treat people positively they tend to treat you the same way. Generally people rise to your level of expectations.
  • Ability to see opportunity everywhere. Lois Wyse, president of Wyse Advertising Inc, used to say, “Always say yes because nothing ever happens to people who say no.” Positive people perceive opportunities everywhere, even under negative circumstances.
  • Focus on Solutions. Rather than dwell on problems, positive people see solutions in problems, and a possibility in every impossibility.
  • Desire to Give. Generous people are among the most positive people because they focus on what they can give to others rather than what they can get from them. Generosity does not depend on what you have but on what you do with what you have.
  • Persistence. Positive people have the ability to stick to their goals and to keep going in the face of disappointments. Even when everything seems to go wrong, a positive person believes a solution is on its way.
  • Responsibility for their lives. Positive people know that positive things happen only when they take full responsibility for their thoughts and actions.

Tips for getting the Right Attitude

Claim responsibilities, not rights

In our imperfect world, we do not always get what we deserve or what we hope for. Instead of growing more resentful of the world for taking away your rights, you should focus on what is under your control, your responsibilities. This increases your energy and improves your prospects.

Associate with positive people

When you spend time with positive people, you are able to see things in a better light. Your friends should bring out the best in you.

Make the Present Moment your Happiest

When you focus on the past you rob the present of its potential. But when you pay attention to what is happening at the moment, you open yourself to all the possibilities in it.

Find ways to relieve Stress

Stress induces negative thinking. It is important to relieve stress preferably through an activity involving both mental concentration and physical effort. The objective is to relieve stress and refresh your positive attitude.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Even if your job is important and serious, it does not mean that you should always take yourself seriously. You would go farther if you maintain a sense of humor, especially about yourself.

Take Action to Change your Attitude

A change in attitude also means a change in behavior. It involves slowly becoming the person you want most to become. You have to act yourself into changing.

How do I get there from here?

Maxwell says life is not a dress rehearsal. It is important to make the most of it because we can never go back and start all over again. If most people plan their trips and vacations why can’t they plan their success journey?

Types of Travellers

The Victim: The victim blames his past for his lack of progress, finding excuses for failing rather than using his opportunities to grow.

The Footdragger: The footdragger hates change and is unwilling to do anything to change the present.

The Dreamer: This traveller never puts her plans into action and does not want to take any risks.

The Motivated: This traveller planned yesterday so that she could make the most of today.

Goals Create a Route for Success

Journeys do not plan themselves. They must be planned. You must know where you are going and how you are going to get there.

You need to set goals along the success journey. Each goal takes you to the next along the direction you want to take. This way you also know if you have made a wrong turn and return to the right direction.

Goals Give You a Sense of Purpose

Goals give you something concrete to focus on. They help you to focus your actions and help you to know where you are going.

Goals Give You a Go

Goals keep you motivated. If you achieve a series of goals you experience success. Having goals enables you to sustain your energy and keep you going even in the face of obstacles.

Goals Show you what to do

Your goals determine your priorities, help you choose what is important and what is not. They also help you to live and work in the present, which is exactly where you need to accomplish something.

Goals Get Your Focus on Improvement, not Activity

Activity alone does not make you successful. It can never take the place of improvement.

Goals Create Mile Markers of Progress

When you have goals you will be able to determine not only that you are moving but also how far you have travelled.

Creating Your Own Road Map

In order to make your own road map, you need to take several steps:

Recognize your Dream

Maxwell believes that to begin your road map you need to know where you are starting from. You need to look at your strengths, weaknesses, experiences, education and resources. Then you can ask yourself the following questions:

How great a distance will I have to travel? Before you set out you need to know how much distance you will have to travel.

What do I have working for me? Look for the things where you have inherent abilities. These will give you a headstart on your journey.

What must I overcome? You have to take an honest look at where you are starting and be prepared to overcome the obstacles.

What will it cost to make the trip? You must decide whether you are willing to pay the price for that journey.

Your Statement of Purpose

You need to write down or to articulate your statement of your purpose. You should have a definition of success. One attorney/writer, Freya Ottem Hansom says in her statement of purpose: To offer compassionate, complete, competent services in her law practice, to write words that inspire God-pleasing changes in others, and to make her life be such that she lives to bless humankind.

Defining Your Goals

Your Goals must be:

  • Written : Writing goals helps clarify your intentions. They make you accountable.
  • Specific : You have to spell out what you intend to do and if a goal is big, break it down to smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Achievable : You should set goals that you can accomplish. You need to identify activities that will require you to work.
  • Measurable : Your goals must help you to improve yourself and develop your potential.
  • Time -sensitive: You must set a deadline. Write a completion date for each goal. Setting a date to the goal ensures that you will achieve it.

Action

President Franklin Roosevelt says, “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” And as the Chinese proverb says it, “Be not afraid of going slowly, be only afraid of standing still.”

Adjust Your Plans

You should continually review and update goals and see if you need to make adjustments. Some goals might need to be eliminated or modified.

Celebrate

Take the time to celebrate, to acknowledge your successes.

 

Growing to your Maximum Potential

Growth is change. Gail Sheehy says, “If we don’t grow we are not really living.” Growth is also a choice. You may choose to grow or not. But those who do not grow will not reach their potential.

Maxwell offers ten principles that can help you in your personal growth:

  1. Choose a life of growth. The only way to improve the quality of your life is to improve yourself. The only thing you can improve is yourself. But when you do, everything else around you suddenly gets better.
  2. Start growing today. You need to choose to start growing today because:
    • Growth is not automatic.
    • Growth today will provide a better tomorrow.
    • Growth is your responsibility.
  3. Be Teachable: The more you learn the more you think you know all there is to know. But you are no longer growing if you are unteachable.
  4. Focus on Self-Development, not self-fulfillment. Fulfillment is a by-product of self-development, not the goal.
  5. Never stay satisfied with current accomplishments. Succesful people do not rest on their laurels. They know they have to keep on growing if they want to continue being successful. You should never be complacent. Instead, move on to greater growth.
  6. Be a Continual Learner. You should carve out the time to continually learn new things. You must keep improving yourself to build on what you learned yesterday.
  7. Concentrate on a Few Major Themes. Keep your focus narrow. Give your time and energy only to the themes at the hart of your life.
  8. Develop a Plan for Growth. You should develop a specific plan for growth. Maxwell recommends setting an hour a day, five days a week. Look for useful materials that fit in with your plan. Above all learn everyday.
  9. Pay the Price. Self-development requires discipline. It can cost you time and effort. You cannot buy success with laziness.
  10. Finda way to apply what you learn. Knowledge is only useful when it leads to action. You need to apply what you learn. Ask yourself where you can use the information you leaned, what can you use it for and who else needs to know it.

It is important to avoid staying on the plateau, content with what one has achieved. Learning continues throughout your life.

Create a Growth Environment

The more positive you are, the more rapid the growth. A good environment makes it also easier and more pleasurable to grow.

Develop Relationships with Growing People

If you surround yourself with positive people dedicated to growth then you will also be encouraged to grow. Achievers constantly speak of new challenges.

How do I Handle the Detours?

As in any journey, there are always problems and setbacks that threaten to disrupt the journey or give rise to delays causing detours. It is only important to keep moving forward, to make the best of those detours and turn adversity into an advantage.

The Two Greatest Detours

Fear and failure are the two greatest detours. Fear can be a permanent detour, creating a cycle that can take over your life. It also causes procrastination. It robs us of our potential and prevents us from moving forward toward our purpose in life. You must confront your fear. Maxwell says 60% of fears never come to pass, 20% are focused on the past, 10% are based on petty things that make no difference in our lives and of the remaining 10%, only 4 to 5% are considered justifiable. Think of why you are afraid. If you can’t change your thought patterns that generate the fears, seek a professional counselor.

Admit your fears. Gen. Patton confessed that he was a coward at heart. However, before an important battle decision he took stock of all his fears, made his decision, turned off all his fears and went ahead.

Progress can only be made in defiance of that fear. One of the best antidotes to that fear is your dream. It can give you the courage to use your fear positively. You can master your fear by focusing on what you can control. You also need to remember that what happens in you is more important than what happens to you.

Eventually facing your fears becomes a habit. You should not feed your fear. Otherwise it will stop you on your journey. You can face your fear and go ahead anyway. Mark Twain said, “Do something everyday that you don’t want to do. This is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.”

The Power of Failure

All successful people have the ability to fail. You have the choice of failing successfully or letting failure send you on a permanent detour. You can profit from your failure. This is called failing forward. Succesful people fail too but they never stop trying anyway. Winners view their failures as learning experiences, as a springboard for success. You can fail forward by training yourself to think of failure as a mileage marker. With each failure, you are moving on the success journey.

Maxwell offers ten guidelines to help you change failure from detour to dividend:

  • Appreciate the value of failure. Failure strengthens you. You’re learning to fail forward to success. Each time you fail you are one step closer to your potential.
  • Don’t take failure personally. There is a difference between saying “I failed” and saying “I am a failure”. Someone who thinks of himself as a failure cannot be succesful. Sometimes it is a sign of a change in direction.
  • Let failure redirect you. Failure is sometimes a sign that you need to try a different strategy. Look around. You may be overlooking another opportunity to develop your potential.
  • Keep a sense of humor.
  • Ask why, not who. You cannot blame others for your failure. If you fail examine why you failed, what you learned from it.
  • Make failure a learning experience. It is acceptable to fail as long as you learn something as you get up.
  • Don’t let failure keep you down. When you fail, learn from your mistakes and then get back in the game.
  • Use failure as a gauge of growth. The more you try, the greater the likelihood of failure, but also the greater the likelihood of success. You are making progress.
  • See the Big Picture. The next time you fail think of the big picture. You will have other chances and you can come back.
  • Don’t give up.

Are we there yet?

How do you know if you are nearing success? How do you know that you have arrived? You need to look for landmarks. You pay for your success with something. You have to be prepared to make certain trade-offs.

Achievement over Affirmation

First you must accept that other people’s affirmation is fleeting. You cannot please everyone all the time nor will others be happy for you all the time. Other people will try to drag you down. You may have to trade other’s people’s affirmation for achievement.

Excellence

Excellence is always a choice. You are exceeding the adequate. To achieve excellence you need to pay attention to details, seek continual improvement, practice self-discipline and maintain high personal standards. You cannot be mediocre and fulfill your potential.

Personal Growth over Immediate Pleasure

You cannot prioritize personal pleasure over personal growth if you wish to be succesful.

Future Potential over Financial Gain

Money does not add value to your life. You must be prepared to pass up the chance to make money in order to seek a future potential for growth.

Narrow Focus over Scattered Interests

You may have to give up the less important things in your life to focus on the one big important thing.

Significance over Security

Bo Buford talks about there being a halftime in one’s life, when one makes the decision to living beyond the immediate. Buford says the key to making the second half of your life count is to shift to significance, to making a difference in people’s lives.

Trade-offs will always come up on the journey. You never gain something without trading it for something else. You must be willing to make sacrifices. Maxwell says that when you pay up first you may not need to pay up much later.

You can develop your persistence by developing character. You can start early as did athlete Jesse Owens who began setting records as early as junior high school. You can also focus on the big picture. You can ignore the disappointments and pains if you keep your eye on why you are in the race.

You can also stop making excuses. Start trading excuses for excellence. Persistence pays. You also need to want the success deeply enough that you are willing to make the necessary trade-offs. Maxwell points out that he gave up a prestigious position as leader of the Skyline Wesleyan Church to devote himself full-time to his company INJOY. He has not regretted the decision. You need to be prepared to make trade-offs in order to attain something better.

Is it a Family Trip?

Maxwell believes that all the success in the world means nothing if you are not loved and respected by those closest to you and this usually means your family. He suggests the following guidelines for strengthening your family:

Express appreciation for each other

The bonds of love between family members grow when family members show appreciation for each other. But this appreciation is rooted in an understanding of the differences between family members. He mentions four different personality types: sanguine, melancholy, phlegmatic and choleric. He also mentions the different kinds of intelligence that all people have in different degrees: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal. When you understand your family members’ individual strengths and weaknesses you will come to a better understanding and love for each other.

Structure your lives to spend time together

It is important for families, in these busy times, to plan their schedules with the sole objective of spending time together. Time needs to be blocked out for special occasions such as birthdays, graduations or anniversaries. Families should also observe family traditions or just have fun. Traditions foster continuity in the family, even amid all the changes going on in it.

Deal with Crisis in a positive way

Problems arise everywhere even in the home. If the families are to stay united and to grow together, they need to solve problems together. Maxwell offers some of these problem-solving strategies:

  • Attack the problem, never the person.
  • Get all the facts. Before you attack the problem, make sure you know what is really going on.
  • List all your options.
  • Choose the best solution. Always remember that people are your priority.
  • Look for the positives in the problem.
  • Never withhold love. Acknowledge problems but continue to love your family members unconditionally.
Communicate Continually

Good communication needs to be developed. Maxwell offers several tips for developing communication within the family:

  • Develop platforms for communication. Communication can take place anywhere.
  • Encourage honesty and transparency in conversations. When family members express themselves honestly, do not criticize or ridicule them.
  • Adopt a positive communications style. There are different communications styles. Maxwell lays them out in the following table.

Communication Style

Results of the Communication Process

Direction it takes people

Effect on Recipient

Retaliation

Destroys Positive Communication

Against Each other

Degrading

Domination

Destroys open communication

Over Each other

Intimidating

Isolation

Destroys Hope of Communication

Away From Each Other

Frustrating

Cooperation

Develops Positive, Open Communication

With Each other

Encouraging

  • Share the Same Values. Common values strengthen a family. You must identify the values you want to install in your family, Maxwell lists the values that have strengthened his own family:
  • Commitment to God.
  • Commitment to personal and family growth.
  • Commonly shared experiences.
  • Confidence in ourselves and others.
  • The desire to make a contribution in life.
Build Your Marriage

Maxwell says the best thing you can to strengthen your family is to build your marriage relationship. Dr. Alfred Kinsey, who studied thousands of marriages and divorces, says, “There can be nothing more important in a marriage than a determination that it shall persist.” A commitment is necessary if one is to build and sustain a strong marriage.

Maxwell thinks there is a correlation between family success and personal success. No matter how impressive their accomplishments are, people miss a great deal if they do not develop close, sustaining relationships. Having a good, supportive family enables you to develop your potential. You also enjoy the success journey more.

Maxwell points out that many people need to realize how much they are shortchanging their families before they make a U-turn and begin taking their families along with them on the journey.

Who Else Should I take with Me?

 

Maxwell relates that if he was to make to the next level of fulfilling his potential he needed to extend himself through others. He lists several people who have surrounded him and have helped determine his success. Maxwell says through their energy, dedication and support he has been able to accomplish much more than if he had not had them around him.

Finding the Right People for the Journey

Maxwell says not everyone will want to go with you on your journey even if they seem to be compatible with you. Some people are content to stay where they are. So you must ask yourself, “Does this person want to go?” Then ask yourself, “Is this person able to go?” Thirdly ask, “Can this person make the trip without me?” If they are and it seems that they are able to make their own road map without you, then make friends with them and keep in touch. You may be able to help each other as colleagues.

Maxwell says as a result of his own observations, he has narrowed the qualities he is looking for in a potential leader to ten. These are:

  • Make things happen. People who make things happen are able to discover resources, create opportunities and fulfill their potential.
  • See and seize opportunities. Good potential leaders do not depend on luck. They do not wait for opportunities to find them, they seek them out.
  • Influence others. Maxwell says all leaders have two things in common: they are going somewhere and they are able to persuade others to go with them. They have a high degree of influence. Consider the following questions: “Who influences them? Who do they influence? Is their influence increasing or decreasing?”
  • Add Value. The people around you either take from you or give to you. The people you take with you must add value to you. They must have been able to make you a better person. With such people beside you, you experience synergy. You actually inspire each other and take each other along to higher levels.
  • Attract other leaders. Maxwell says there are two kinds of leaders: those who attract followers and those who attract other leaders. Leaders who attract only followers influence the followers. But people who attract other leaders influence many other people.
Leaders who attract followers Leaders who attract Leaders
Need to be needed Want to be succeeded
Want recognition Want to reproduce themselves
Focus on others’ weaknesses Focus on others’ strengths
Want to hold on to power Want to share power
Spend their time with others Invest their time in others
Are good leaders Are great leaders
Experience some success Experience incredible success
  • Equip others. It is not enough to attract leaders, it is also important to equip them with their own road map, which enables them to go anywhere and do anything they wish on the success journey.
  • Provide inspiring ideas. If the people around you generate good ideas, then all of you will be able to reach your potential. You can never have too many ideas. You should try to surround yourself with people who inspire you with their ideas.
  • Possess uncommonly positive attitudes. You should keep around you people with positive attitudes. Negative people hold you back.
  • Live up to their commitments. Committed people become succesful because they do not let obstacles hinder them from their goals.
  • Have loyalty. Those who have loyalty love you unconditionally, represent you well to others, are able to share your joys and sorrows and they make your dream their dream.

What should we do along the Way?

Maxwell advises you to take others along. In doing so, you may give and share with them your success. There are however many people who do not take anybody along on the journey. This is not the way to be succesful, says Maxwell. Douglas Lawson said, “We live forever through what we give.”

There are several reasons why some people do not wish to mentor or teach others. These are:

  • Insecurity : Insecure people make themselves look better at other people’s expense.
  • Ego : Some people want all the attention on them and have no interest in raising others.
  • Inability to discern people’s success seeds. Maxwell says that if you have the ability to find the seeds of success in yourself, you can also see it in others. You need to help that seed to grow in that person.
  • Wrong Concept of Success Many people are hindered from reaching their true potential by the wrong concept of success. Cullen Hightower says, “A true measure of your worth includes all the benefits others have gained from your success.”
  • Lack of Training Many people do not raise people around them because they lack the knowledge to do so.

So what do you need to know to raise people to a higher level and help them to be succesful? You need to remind yourself that:

  • Everyone wants to feel worthwhile.
  • Everyone needs and responds to encouragement.
  • People are naturally motivated.
  • People buy into the person before buying into their leadership.

In order to take others along for the life-changing ride, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Make people development your top priority. Commit yourself to developing people. They will be able to carry on being succesful even if you are no longer around to mentor them.
  2. Limit who you take along. Your time is limited. You cannot take everyone along. In his leadership seminars, Maxwell uses the Pareto (80/20) Principle: This means that if you develop the top 20 in anything you do you will get an 80% return. In terms of developing people, this means that you should use 80% of your time developing people this means that you should use 80% of your time developing the top 20% of the people, including your family and these with the most potential. If you try to do more than this you are spreading yourself too thin.
  3. Develop relationships before starting out. Leaders need to develop relationships with people before making an impact on their lives. Vince Lombardi once said, “If you’re going to play together as a team, you’ve got to care for one another.” If you spend time with others you know more about them and about the kind of travelling companions they will turn out to be. When you bring others along, bring people you expect people to like.
  4. Give help unconditionally. You must expect nothing. Give for the sake of giving, if you do get something in return, then it is a wonderful thing.
  5. Let them fly with you for a while. Maxwell recommends that in developing others the best approach is to have your people work alongside you, much like apprentices. It is important to match people’s tasks with their strengths.
  6. Put fuel in their tank. Share with others the material that will help them develop, be they books, tapes or videos.
  7. Stay with them until they can solo succesfully. Remember you are taking people with you, not sending them away. Stay with them until they are ready to go it alone.
  8. Clear the flight path. There are several reasons why mentors create obstacles for potential leaders:
  • Lack of Direction
  • Bureaucracy: Do not put your potential leader in a bureaucracy where his potential is stifled.
  • Isolation: Every potential leader needs a community to provide support.
  • Busywork: People must perceive value in their work.
  • Poor or Dishonest Communication: An agenda must be communicated clearly to the person being developed.

 Help them repeat the process. Great leaders repeat the process of mentoring with others. This makes it possible for the success to continue.

For Maxwell the greatest goal is to help others grow and in the process change their lives. In a final note, Maxwell says, “Take others with you and hope you change their lives for the better. Nothing in life is more fun, or has a greater return. You’ll never regret the time you invest in people.”

May 16, 2009 Posted by | Business Tips | Leave a comment

The Manager’s Cheat Sheet: 101 Common – Sense Rules for Leaders


The Manager’s Cheat Sheet: 101 Common Sense Rules For Leaders

Inside CRM Editors

Management is all about connecting with the people on your team. So how do you effectively manage a team? With common knowledge, of course. These are a few back-to-basics rules that will help you develop management skills that really matter.

 

BODY LANGUAGE

Like it or not, your body speaks volumes, even when you are silent. Here’s how to express an attitude that’s appropriate for a leader.

1. Stand tall. Keeping your shoulders back and holding yourself up to your full height will give you an air of confidence.
2. Take your hands out of your pockets. Putting your hands in your pockets is often seen as a sign that you have something to hide.
3. Stand with your arms crossed behind your back. This will help you adjust your posture, and it leaves your hands in a position that is open and not intimidating.
4. Make eye contact. Always look directly into the eyes of the people you are speaking with. This shows you’re interested and also gives you a sense of confidence.
5. Sit up straight. Even if you’re at an 8 a.m. meeting and feeling tired, it’s important to sit up straight in your chair. Slouching makes you look disinterested and can give off an unwanted air of laziness.
6. Face the person you’re talking to. This shows you are interested and engaged in the conversation.
7. Shake hands firmly. For many, a handshake is a reflection of the person you’re shaking hands with. You don’t want to come across as unsure or overbearing, so make sure yours is professional and confident.
8. Always smile. Smiles are contagious and will make others feel positive when you’re around.
9. Look your best. You don’t have to be model perfect every day, but you should dress appropriately and neatly. Clothes can have a big impact on the way you’re perceived.
10. Walk confidently. Keep your head up and take even strides.

 

MEETING DEADLINES

No one will be happy if your team has to rush around at the last minute to complete a project. Follow these tips to make deadlines less stressful for everyone.

11. Only promise what you can realistically deliver. Don’t create deadlines that you know you can’t meet. By only promising what you know you can do, you’ll be able to finish on time.
12. Set clear goals. Once you know what you need to accomplish, it helps to know how and when you want to do it. Put your goals down on paper and make sure everyone on your team gets a copy.
13. Organize a team. Many of your employees will have unique strengths and training that can make them great assets to certain projects. Pick a team that has the right skills to carry out the job.
14. Delegate tasks. Spread work among your employees in a way that doesn’t leave anyone overburdened while also allowing the project work smoothly.
15. Create milestones. Creating milestones for you and your team will help you keep track of your progress and also give you a sense of accomplishment as you reach each milestone.
16. Keep communication open. Keeping everyone in touch with the status of the project is key to making sure it’s completed on time.
17. Do it right the first time. Planning ahead will help prevent you from delivering a substandard product. Having to redo something for a client costs money, and, more than likely, future business opportunities.
18. Stay organized. Staying organized will help keep you from wasting time chasing down important documents and information.
19. Make sure expectations are clear. Be sure that each member of your team knows what their specific responsibilities are. This will save time and prevent tasks from being overlooked.
20. Create a plan. Compile your goals and milestones into a comprehensive plan for attacking any project you are given. This way, you can make sure you’re staying on schedule and that all of your employees will be clear about how and when things should be done.

 

GETTING ALONG WITH EMPLOYEES

A happy office is a productive one. Everyone will be more cheerful if you follow these simple rules.

21. Don’t make your employees come in on days they’re normally not scheduled to work or call them while they’re on vacation. A surefire way to make employees resent you is to invade their personal time for nonpressing work. Unless you have something that absolutely has to be done, let time away from work stay that way.
22. Don’t play favorites. Playing favorites can bias your judgment and impair your leadership abilities. Treat your employees equally.
23. Give credit when it’s due. Don’t take credit for your employees’ ideas or hog their limelight. This action not only fosters resentment but also makes you seem untrustworthy.
24. Don’t micromanage. While it’s fine to keep up with what your employees are working on, don’t constantly look over their shoulders.
25. Never discuss employee matters with their co-workers. This kind of gossip always gets back to the person and will make you look unprofessional.
26. Don’t interfere with employees’ work. If your employees are getting work done, don’t stress about how it gets done. Even if it’s not being done they way you’d do it, it’s best to let employees use their best judgment.
27. Don’t push unreasonable deadlines. You don’t want to spend all of your time at the office, and neither do your employees.
28. Keep your promises. Barring some catastrophic event, you should always keep promises you make to employees, especially about pay and benefits.
29. Keep work about work. Don’t require employees to run your personal errands. Take care of your own personal business or hire an assistant.
30. Reward hard work. Make sure your employees feel valued for the work that they do. Employees will be more willing to put in extra effort if they know it’s noted and appreciated.
31. Provide motivation. Sometimes employees need a morale boost. Provide them with encouragement to get a project rolling.

 

MANAGE YOURSELF

Being a good manager isn’t just about what you can encourage other people to do, it’s also about managing your own performance.

32. Be accessible. Don’t hole up in your office all day — come out and visit with your employees. Let them know that they can always come to you with problems and concerns.
33. Be open to constructive criticism. It may not always be what you want to hear, but listening to constructive criticism gives you the chance to learn and grow from your mistakes.
34. Accept responsibility. Part of being the boss is accepting responsibility for the mistakes of all that you manage, not just your own.
35. Know there’s always room for improvement. No matter how good you think you are, your job can always be done better. Always be willing to learn.
36. Improve your skills. Learning is a lifelong process. You’re never too old to take a class or ask a co-worker to help you improve your knowledge.
37. Explain things simply. Don’t use big words or technical jargon just to sound smart and impress others. Your employees will understand and perform better if you explain simply and clearly what you need.
38. Instruct rather than order. You may be the boss, but you don’t have to be bossy. You’ll have more success if your requests are more tactfully delivered.
39. Include your staff in your plans. Don’t make your work top secret; let your employees know what’s going on and how they are expected to contribute.
40. Know your subordinates’ jobs. You don’t want to be caught with inferior job knowledge.
41. Be flexible. It’s fine to be firm in what you expect, but allow for flexibility in how it gets done.
42. Get regular feedback. Your employees and superiors can give you valuable feedback on how to improve your performance. Use this to your advantage.
43. Know your limitations. You can’t be everywhere doing everything all at once. Know the limits of your time and abilities and say no to things you know you can’t do.

 

BOOSTING PRODUCTIVITY

Getting the most out of your day can be difficult with a busy schedule, but you can use these tips to help you maximize your time in order to be better available to employees.

44. Get the most out of meetings. Be organized and prepared for meetings to increase effectiveness and time savings.
45. Focus your energy on things that matter. Don’t let trivial tasks take time away from things that are really important.
46. Identify your time-stealers. Everyone has little things that detract their attention and make them lose focus. Figure out what these are and work to eliminate them, if only for a few hours a day.
47. Be punctual. Being on time is a big deal. Never keep people waiting for appointments or meetings if you can help it.
48. Respond to your correspondence within a reasonable amount of time. You don’t have to be chained to your inbox, but make sure you respond to emails within a few hours whenever possible.
49. Do only what is necessary. There are times when going above and beyond works, but doing so on a daily basis can derail your progress on more important issues. Get the key things done first, then see if you have time for additional things.
50. Stick to schedules and routines. While they may not be the most exciting things, schedules and routines can help streamline and improve your productivity.
51. Organize and manage your schedule. Use any tools and utilities you have at your disposal to prioritize your day and keep track of what you need to get done.
52. Plan more than you think you can do. While this may sound stressful, it can actually be a great motivator. If you manage to get everything done, you’ll enjoy a great sense of achievement.
53. Get to work early on occasion. Sometimes an uninterrupted half hour in an unoccupied office can help you get key things done or allow you to plan your day before there are any distractions to slow you down.
54. Know that sometimes stress is good. While too much of anything, especially stress, can be bad, sometimes a little stress can be the motivation to get you moving, allowing you to get more done.
55. Do your least favorite tasks first. Get your most tedious and least desirable tasks out of the way earlier in the day. After that, everything else will be a breeze.

 

MANAGING FINACES AND ROSOURCES

Whether you’re a business owner or a manager, staying on top of tangible items is vital to success. These tips can help you keep track.

56. Set up a realistic budget. While it’s good to be optimistic, don’t plan for more spending than you know you can afford. Make sure you plan for emergencies and contingencies as well.
57. Save costs where they matter the most. Don’t just pinch pennies for the present. Make sure your savings will pay off in the long run. Compromising on quality might cost you later on in repairs and replacements.
58. Spend only when it’s necessary. Don’t spend if you don’t need to. Every bit you save goes toward your profit.
59. Find alternative sources of finance. Sometimes even successful businesses need a little help. Business loans and investors can help you through leaner times.
60. Stay true to your contracts. Not only will you gain the respect of your clients, you’ll also avoid legal battles that can be a serious financial drain.
61. Make sure employees are well compensated. Employees deserve to be rewarded for hard work. Make sure yours are well compensated for their time and they’ll be more productive and happier to come to work.
62. Learn to do more with less. Quality is much more important than quantity, so make what you have count.
63. Assign equipment wisely. While it might be nice for every employee to have a PDA, budgets often don’t allow for such conveniences. Make sure the employees that need tools the most have access to them.
64. Invest in solid technology. This doesn’t always mean the latest technology, but what your office needs to do work effectively.
65. Update when necessary. Using obsolete equipment and programs can really slow you down. Update when it makes sense so you won’t get left behind by competitors.
66. Don’t be wasteful. Every sheet of paper, paper clip and pen is a cost on your budget. Use materials wisely and don’t waste them out of haste or carelessness.

 

COMMUNICATING WITH CLIENTS

Whether you’re a business owner or a manager carrying out a project, one thing is always the same: The client is dominant voice in decision-making. Learn to communicate with them effectively and you’ll set a good example for the people you supervise.

67. Remember that the customer is the boss. At the end of the day, your job is to make the customer happy. Act accordingly.
68. Differentiate your products. Don’t get lost in a sea of products and services like yours. Make sure you stand out from your competitors.
69. Retain customers as much as you recruit new ones. While you always want to bring in new business, it’s very important to maintain relationships with loyal customers.
70. Provide effective channels of communication. Make sure your clients can contact you easily and quickly if they have a problem, concern or question. They can also provide a valuable source of feedback.
71. Maintain customer data. Use this data to make your customers feel special by remembering occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. It’s also helpful for keeping track of purchasing preferences.
72. Segment your customers. Not all customers are alike. Divide your customers into groups that allow you to provide attention and services that meet each customer’s unique needs.
73. Provide effective after-sales services. Don’t let contact fall off after the work is complete. Make sure your client stays happy.
74. Listen attentively. Pay attention to exactly what clients are asking for to help you better meet their needs.
75. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. It’s OK not to know the answer to every question. It’s better to say you don’t know and get back to a customer than to try to bluff your way through a conversation and have to backtrack later.

KEEP UP WITH CHANGE

There is no way to stop the world from changing, so follow these tips to keep up and ahead of the game.

76. Don’t fight change. You can’t stop markets, trends and technology from changing, so learn to go with the flow.
77. Adopt a predictive managerial style. Don’t wait for things to happen to make a move. Anticipate problems and provide contingency plans.
78. Test your contingency plans. Waiting for disaster to strike is a dangerous way to find out if your emergency plans will hold. Test them out from time to time to fine-tune them and make sure they’re still relevant.
79. Identify the positives. Even the most negative changes can have positive aspects to them. Being able to identify and maximize them can help make adapting less painful.
80. Be quick to adapt. Learn to adapt to changing situations quickly and be able to change plans on the spur of the moment if the situation requires it.
81. Stay tuned to external factors. Your business is affected in many ways by outside factors. Keep abreast of these so you can anticipate any sudden market changes that would affect how you need to manage.
82. Put in place a Research and Development plan. Encourage innovation and creativity to stay ahead of the demand for newer and better products and services.
83. Keep an eye on the competition. Don’t let the competition get the best of you. Keep up-to-date with what they’re doing and use it to your advantage in managing your business.

 RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Whether problems are internal or external, they can make your management duties a nightmare if you don’t handle them correctly. Here’s how to stay on top of them.

84. Stand up for employees. If other departments or managers are bearing down hard on your employees, stand up for them.
85. Fix what’s broken. Don’t waste time placing blame. Take care of fixing the problem before dealing with any possible repercussions.
86. Manage and control your emotions. Don’t let anger or frustration affect your problem resolution. If you are emotionally invested in a situation, cool down before discussing it or bring in an outside mediator.
87. Learn when to step in. Some problems might resolve themselves if you just let them be, but you need to be aware of times where you’ll need to step in and take control of a situation.
88. Take the blame. If you’ve made a mistake, fess up. It’ll give you more time to work on fixing the problem instead of talking your way out of taking the rap.
89. Get the facts first. Before you pass judgment on a situation, make sure you have the whole story. Listen to employees and refrain from questioning anyone’s integrity without first ensuring that you’ve gathered all the data.
90. Rise above the crisis. Learn to separate yourself from the problem and rise above the fray. You’ll be able to think more clearly and make a better decision on how to rectify the issue.
91. Don’t ignore problems. A small problem can easily snowball and become something much more difficult to fix.
92. Try to depersonalize problems. Let employees know that the problem isn’t with them but with their actions. Don’t make it personal.

 

GO ABOVE AND BEYOND

Managing people isn’t just about getting the job done. To truly be a great leader, sometimes you need to go above and beyond what the job calls for.

93. Lead by example. You can talk until you’re blue in the face, but the best way to get a point across is to be the model to emulate. Let employees follow your lead.
94. Get your hands dirty. Sometimes you need to show your employees that no one’s above doing unattractive tasks.
95. Make a difference to your employees. Don’t just be a generic manager — stand out as a leader and role model for your employees.
96. Gain your employees’ trust and respect. You’ll have a much easier time managing employees when they respect your rules and boundaries and trust your leadership.
97. Be empathetic to personal problems. Whether it should or not, what happens outside of work can have a big affect on the quality of work produced. Be sensitive if employees have personal issues that keep them from concentrating on work.
98. Be unique as a manager. Every position demands something different and you should be proud to be adept at your particular role rather than trying to emulate other managers.
99. Remember that ethics matter above all. Be honest and reliable in all of your business and personal relationships.
100. Be on the lookout for new ideas. You never know where your next great inspiration will come from.
101. Get to know your employees. Learn more than just their names. Get to know your employees’ family backgrounds, likes and dislikes. Doing so will make you more personable

May 16, 2009 Posted by | Better Life, Business Tips | Leave a comment

10 Basic Business Principals: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same


10 basic business principals: The more things change, the more they stay the same

One thing I’ve had the good fortune to learn as my hairs grey is that some basic principals apply through time and that when you think something is wrong somewhere, you should review the basics before trying to reinvent your solution.

So, I will dare to outline my top 10 business guidelines(and I think you can do the same type of exercise for your business).

1. Most entrepreneurs receive dozens of ideas each year; only a few are worth investigating, and even fewer are worth implementing. Occasionally, we hit a home run.

2. 80 per cent of what we do counts for 20 per cent of the value of our efforts. The inverse also applies. Yet overly blind assessment of this rule is dangerous. An example: We can find that 80 per cent of our marketing call efficiency is achieved by working on the phone rather than meeting clients in person. But yesterday, I saw the value in knowing the exception to that rule, when I met in person with someone important (a meeting that could have been handled on the phone easily), and into the room walked someone with insights of incredible value to our business.

3. Accidents happen. All the time. Plans are meant for constant change.

4. Often you will find your best insights in places you least expect. So it is good to shake things up. On the other hand, you probably know what works best for you. So do it. (I for example always write better in the early morning rather than in late afternoon.)

5. Perseverance and talent are both important. You will be sure to succeed if you have both. You are doomed to fail if you have neither. But if you think you can succeed by persisting without talent, pick a career that requires very little brains or skill, please.

6. You have to have fun to succeed. Sure parts of your work may — and probably are — painful, but if you really don’t enjoy what you are doing, find out why, really quickly, and change things. Don’t do stuff just for the money.

7. It is really dumb to put anyone ‘down’ while you are acting high and mighty. It drives people nuts and makes enemies. I know I’ve done it, to my permanent regret.

8. It rarely helps to hold grudges. Sure, we should not be wimps if we are attacked or mistreated. But it is important to know when to move on.

9. People change. Listen to the changes. If you can help fix the problems (if there are are real problems in the people you know), it doesn’t hurt to help. But if they are going downhill and don’t get it, remember that they can pull you — and others who shouldn’t be pulled down — as well. You will have to make the break.

10. People stay the same. Basic principals apply. Respect and recognize others and appreciate that great relationships are the essence of great business. New and old, through good and hard times, the entrepreneur who understands appreciates the basic rules of respect and integrity will succeed as fly-by-night operators come and go.

May 16, 2009 Posted by | Business Tips | Leave a comment