Archive for the ‘Personal Productivity’ Category

Iron(Wo)Man Challenge

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

One of the most important lessons I learned as a world class swimmer is that IF YOU BELIVE IT, YOU CAN BECOME IT.  It’s great when I see my clients learning this same lesson.  Sometimes however, there is a need for a change or for a few changes in order for us to become the person we want to become.  That’s when the rubber hits the road.

Change is a process and, many times, it is not an easy one.  In order to change and to make that change long lasting, we need to recruit help.  It’s easy to say that the only reason why we don’t follow through with change is because we don’t have enough willpower or because we are lazy.  This is a simplistic assumption and it is a wrong one.  When you believe that your ability to change comes only from your willpower – and that willpower is a quality that we are either born with or not – you eventually stop trying all together.  This mindset keeps people in a trap that leads to depression and eventually into the relapse of the old habits one is trying to change.

Fortunately, there are studies that proved that willpower is not simply an innate ability but a skill we can learn.  There are many other sources of help that we can recruit to help us change.  Let’s take the example of a person who became overweight and one day decided  he wanted to become and ironman contestant.  Now, this fellow, let’s call him Mike, used to be an athlete.  He got married, got a corporate job and doesn’t know how 10 years later he was 30 kilos overweight.  He felt bored and stuck in a routine, unfulfilled, and he began to blame it all on the people he loved the most – his wife and children – which led to many fights.  The picture was not a pretty one.  The one day, while watching an ironman race on TV he began to remember his days as an athlete.  He made a decision right there that he would be in that same ironman in a year’s time.  

Now Mike needed to come up with a plan.  He realized a few things.  He had his personal motivation but he knew he could not do it by himself so he recruited help by hiring a coach.  He also signed up for a team that would train together for the same ironman.  He also got educated about what would be the best fuel for his body and changed his diet.  He distanced himself from his “happy hour” buddies who refused to respect his decision not to drink and kept inviting him for drinks.  He began to hang out with his team mates who had the same goal in mind.  He also knew that he was doing all of this to avoid the consequences of being overweight so he created a story about what would happen if he did not follow through with his goals.  When he didn’t feel like going to practice, he would tell himself the story of what would happen if he neglected his health.  His story was graphic and detailed enough to kick him out of the couch and into the pool.  The thought of not seeing his daughter getting married or graduating because of his early death – like that of his father – did it every time.

Mike created a smart plan of change.  Let’s recap what he did:

1.  He was clear about his personal motivation and he knew that it was not enough to make him achieve his goal.  So, he recruited help both from inside himself and from outside.

2.  He joined a team and got a coach.  By doing that he made sure that he had support from people who had the tools to train him and that were literally swimming/biking/running in the same direction that he was.

3.  He educated himself on the best fuel for his body and followed a diet plan.

4.  He made a clear assessment of the people around him who could help him or hurt him on his quest.  He then eliminated the not so helpful influences and hang out with the others who were on the same path that he was.

5.  Finally, he created a powerful story about what could actually happen if he didn’t follow through with his plans to become a healthier person.  He didn’t sugar coat it or lied to himself.  He looked at the facts that were against him – like the early death of his father because he was overweight and diabetic  – and decided that the story would give him a powerful push whenever he was tempted with missing practice.

Mike realized that blaming or crediting his willpower is a major trap.  One that people fall for every time.  An athlete knows that s/he cannot do it by her/himself.  An athlete has a plan just like Mike had and follows it.  An athlete recruits help and uses strategies to succeed.  An athlete is not born an athlete; s/he needs to practice and learn the skill before becoming a good swimmer, runner or whatever.

You also can change!  Dig deep and find your personal motivation, get help, design a plan and get the systems in place.  We can all do it because it is a skill we can learn and not an innate ability.  Now, what’s your iron(wo)man challenge?

Happy change!

With energy,


TMI – Too Much Information!

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

In a recent event where I talked about “De-cluttering Our Lives”, I noticed that one point hit home for the audience:  Information clutter. I presented ‘Information’ as one of the places in our lives where we don’t think we have clutter – but we do.  Information can come in the traditional shape of magazines, newspapers and junk mail that we can see piling up in our living room.  It can also come in the form of TV, movies and e-mails that makes us waste time and energy just by looking at them.

We rely on information so much that we are afraid of throwing away magazines, newspapers and outdated books simply because we think we might need them someday.  Notice the word ‘afraid’ here!  Whenever you see this word showing up, you know that your action is fear based.  Being afraid of letting go of something is totally related to the concept of scarcity, of not having enough.  And why are we afraid of not having enough information about a subject?  In this day and age of ‘google’ we can find information about anything and everything on the web!  Just type any word and see what comes up.  I found about 112,000,000 results for the word “smile”!

It’s not that information is bad but when we rely too much on external sources to make our decisions, we develop the habit of looking outside of ourselves for answers.  We look at others for answers instead of using our main resource:  Our gut feeling, our intuition – the place where our wisdom is!

Take a leap of faith this coming week.  Make one decision without looking at any piece of information or consulting anyone. Look inside for the answer instead.  Start small and begin develop this ‘muscle’ we all have.  Intuition is there for us to access; we all have it.  All we need to do is develop the habit of looking inside instead of outside.  Give your gut feeling a chance! 🙂

With energy,


Fight E-mail Tyranny

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I received this e-mail from Robert Middleton, a marketing expert.  His post is all about how to manage e-mail more efficiently.  We can all benefit from learning a tip or two about how to handle this great slave and horrible master.  E-mail has taken over our lives but it is not too late to make peace with it and to enjoy it for what it is:  A powerful communication tool.  If you wish to subscribe to his e-zine see the bottom for his website link.  Enjoy it!

With energy,


Fight Email Tyranny

By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

On Sunday evening while browsing our local Santa Cruz bookstore
I came across a wonderful book: The Tyranny of Email by John

Freeman spends the first six chapters of the book making a
powerful case for one rather sobering insight: We are all
hopelessly addicted to email. It has taken over our lives and we
have virtually no strategies to manage it.

The good news is that in the final chapter, “Don’t Send,” he
presents ten prescriptions for breaking the email addiction and
handling email with a degree of sanity. I’ll summarize them here,
but if you want the full impact, get the book!

1. Don’t Send

Email begets email. The more you send, the more you get. So
before you send an email message, take a few seconds to think:
How essential is this email? What’s it’s purpose? Could I combine
email messages to a single recipient in response to several
emails? It is urgent or could it wait? So slow things down a bit
and don’t be so reactive. Send email intentionally.

2. Don’t Check It First Thing in the Morning or Late at Night

Don’t you have a business so that you can have a life? And if the
very first thing you do in the day is check email, you are a slave
to email, not to your priorities. Much better to take some time to
plan your day, look at the appointments and priorities YOU have
first and plan how you’re going to get them done. Focus on the
big stuff and then email can fit more easily between the cracks.

3. Check It Twice a Day

We often check our email several times an hour. The truth is, it’s
not necessary. You won’t actually get behind. Better to schedule
time to “handle” email, so you can do it more completely. Can’t
reduce it to two times a day? Try three or at the most, hourly.

4. Keep a written To-Do List and Incorporate Email into It

Your best time management tool is a simple to-do list. I make a
weekly list of about 5 to 10 major items I want to complete that
week and then a daily list of 2 or 3 priority items for that day.
Email is something I fit between these priorities but don’t let it
dominate my day.

5. Give Good Email

The best emails are short, concise and clear. After all, email is
about communication not a deluge of information. Take an extra
minute to proof your email, make sure the message is clear and
also makes a specific request or promise for action. Include your
phone number in your email signature so that they can easily call
you if needed. I also proof my email for typos and format the
email for easy readability such as using bold type.

6. Read the Entire Incoming Email before replying

We’ve all done it. We scan an email quickly and dash off a reply.
Then we read the bottom part we missed and realize our response
was incomplete. So we send another email. Meanwhile you’ve
gotten an email back, trying to clarify this… Again, the key is to
do email intentionally. Write and respond with the intention of
moving something forward without confusion.

7. Do not Debate Complex or Sensitive Matters by Email

Sometimes you just need to pick up the phone. Nuances of
emotion are hard to express in writing. Especially when you’re in
the habit of dashing off emails quickly. Remember that you have
a relationship with your correspondent. Treat that relationship
with care, and communicate in a way that will get the best
outcome. Besides, a quick phone call can often be faster than
writing an email.

8. If You Have to Work as a Group by Email, Meet Your
Correspondents Face-to-Face

In my one-year Marketing Mastery Program we connect by
teleconference, email and phone. But I also hold a 3-day
workshop at the beginning of the program so that people can
connect person-to-person. They get to know each other, feel more
comfortable with everyone and a more powerful community is
created this way. When they send emails after the workshop, they
are no longer emailing to strangers.

9. Set Up Your Desk to Do Something Else Besides Email

A big desk helps. My computer is in the middle of a v-shaped
desk and I have four feet on each side of the computer for my
planning books, for taking notes, for my laptop computer that
acts as my “jazz jukebox,” etc. Yes, the computer is the central
hub of my business, but lots of space leaves me options to do
other things than be on my computer.

10. Schedule Media-free Time Every Day

What do we do after our full day at our computers? We visit
Facebook, watch TV and play video games! We are not only
addicted to email, we are addicted to electronic media to the
point of obsession. I include myself in this. If you don’t have a TV,
I honor you! But for the sake of your own well being, make sure
to unplug for several hours a day. If you don’t, you’re opening the
door for serious stress issues.


The More Clients Bottom Line: Work at handling email consciously
and intentionally. It’s one of the most powerful communication
mediums in the world but it is both inescapable and addictive. It
can severely damage your quality of life if you don’t take the kind
of steps outlined in the article above. And do your self a favor and
get John Freeman’s book: The Tyranny of Email. Powerful stuff.

What are a few of your tips for managing email consciously?
Please share on the More Clients Blog.

Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Want a quick way to build a reserve of time?  Under-promise and over-deliver!  To under-promise is to give yourself twice the amount of time you think you will need to get something done.  To over-deliver means to complete the project ahead of the promise date and turn it in early.

Let’s see how that would work in your professional life:  Your boss comes to you and asks, “I want you to work on this project, when can you get it to me?”  Your natural inclination is to over -promise right?  So it is Thursday afternoon, and you think to yourself, “I can work on it all day tomorrow and over the weekend and deliver it by Monday.”  You tell your boss that if you work hard on it, she will have it on her desk by Monday morning.  Now you put aside your other work, come to the office over the weekend and still cannot get it done because you are missing some information from another department.  Monday comes around and you tell your boss that there is some information missing and you cannot deliver the project until Monday evening.  She is not amused and you feel like a failure.  All because you over-promised.

Now try this:  You think, “I can get it done by Monday” and you tell your boss, “I will have it ready by Wednesday afternoon.”  You created an instant reserve of time!  You can enjoy the weekend, exercise , have a great time with your family and fill yourself up with energy.  Now you have your creative juices flowing and you get the report ready with no stress by Tuesday afternoon.  You turned it in early and your boss is impressed and thinks you are great because you turned the report ahead of schedule.  Congratulations – you just over-delivered!  This simple tip can dramatically decrease your stress level and it also puts you in a great position for a raise or a bonus.

What if your boss requires you to get it done by Monday?  While we often get specific deadlines most of them can be negotiated.  Request the extra two or three days.  If you have been consistently under-promising, you will have a reserve of time in all your other projects and you will actually have the time to crunch it out by Monday if you have to.

Under-promise works wonders in your personal life as well.  If you are cooking dinner, instead of bragging ahead of time that you are making a gourmet meal, tell your family you are making something simple and surprise them with a fabulous meal.  When asked by a friend if you can meet her at a certain time, make sure you have at least an extra half hour to spare in case you encounter bad traffic or an unexpected detour on your way.  It’s a fantastic feeling when you keep people’s expectations low and surprise them.  Everybody wins and you don’t have to spend your life apologizing.

Begin under-promising today and watch your time multiply!

With energy,


Happy 2010!

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

fogosdeartifc3adcioToday I am sharing a nice ten step list from Zig Ziglar.  It’s fitting for this time when there is so much hope in the air!  Make 2010 an spetacular one!

Ten Steps to Goal-Getting by Zig Ziglar

1. Make the commitment to reach your goal. “One person with a commitment is worth a hundred who only have an interest.” -Mary Crowley.

2. Commit yourself to detailed accountability. Record your progress toward your goals every night, and list the six most important things you need to do the next day. Daily discipline is the key to reaching your goals.

3. Build your life on a solid foundation of honesty, character, integrity, trust, love and loyalty. This foundation will give you an honest shot at reaching any goal you have set properly.

4. Break your intermediate and long-range goals into increments.

5. Be prepared to change. You can’t control the weather, inflation, interest rates, Wall Street, etc. Change your decision to move toward a goal carefully-but be willing to change your direction to get there as conditions and circumstances demand.

6. Share your “give-up” goals (e.g., give up smoking, being rude, procrastinating, being late, eating too much, etc.) with many people. Chances are excellent they’re going to encourage you.

7. Become a team player. Remember: You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

8. See the reaching. In your imagination see yourself receiving that diploma, getting that job or promotion, making that speech, moving into the home of your dreams, achieving that weight-loss goal, etc.

9. Each time you reach a goal your confidence will grow so that you can do bigger and better things. After accomplishing any goal, record it in your journal, weekly planner or portable digital device.

10. Remember, what you get by reaching your destination isn’t nearly as important as what you become by reaching your goals-what you will become is the winner you were born to be.

Enjoy the journey!

With energy,