Let’s talk movies. My father loved the “lone hero” characters played by Gary Cooper, who faced off with all of the bad guys virtually solo in the 1952 movie High Noon.
To my dad, Cooper represented the idea that action heroes had to find their way by themselves. Dad believed that strong, successful people don’t ask for help—and while he was always quick to help others, he found it almost impossible to ask anyone to help him.
I loved my father, but he died broke and broken. And I believe that a large part of the reason for this was his view on what it takes to be successful.
He had missed one of the main points of his favorite Gary Cooper movie. Cooper’s marshal, Will Kane, asked everyone in town for help—they were just all too afraid to stick their necks out. In fact, soon after the movie’s release, veteran “lone hero” John Wayne was publicly infuriated that someone had actually made a Western wherein a marshal asked for assistance. Wayne found a counter-vehicle for himself in the 1959 film Rio Bravo, in which he played a sheriff who didn’t ask anyone for anything.
Personally, I’m a fan of the 1992 movie My Cousin Vinny, with Joe Pesce and Marissa Tomei. In the ending dialog, Vinny becomes upset when he realizes that he didn’t succeed all on his own. His fiancé, Mona Lisa Vito, mocks him:
You know, this could be a sign of things to come. You win all your cases, but with somebody else’s help, right? You win case after case, and then afterwards you have to go up to somebody and you have to say, “thank you”. Oh my God, what a f*cking nightmare!
The moral? Keep trying, but STOP trying to do it yourself.
We all recognize that athletes have coaches. That’s where the idea of professional and life coaching comes from. But we are stuck with this archaic view that it’s okay for them, and not for us. They have special needs, and we don’t. Do you accept this view?
If not, find someone who you’d want to let help you. We spend our lives trying to convince other people that we have our acts together, but it’s an achievement to be able to say, “Here’s what I don’t have and here’s what I think is holding me back. Can you help?”
Whether it’s an assistant, a coach, a therapist, or a friend or loved one you never quite let in all the way, make it your hero’s mission to ask him or her for what you need. Often times, you don’t need more information to get things done; what you need is more application–an extra set of hands on the challenges of your career, practice, or personal life. And the motivation to get it all done is often most accessible when you’re working with a teammate, partner, or colleague.
Asking for what you need is courageous–and essential. Please, don’t end up like my dear old dad did. Choose to voice your needs to someone–anyone–who can help you accomplish your dreams.
In the meantime, keep REACHING…
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been busy producing material that you may find useful.
Two weeks ago, Postema Marketing Group sponsored a Webinar I presented called Making Client Referrals Easy. The entire program is now available on YouTube, just by CLICKING HERE.
This week, Sabrina-Marie Wilson released my interview on her acclaimed radio show “Abundant Success”, and it’s already getting lots of attention. It includes my personal story about leaving my “safe neighborhood” and overcoming my fears. You can listen to, or even download, the podcast on iTunes by CLICKING HERE.
In my coaching work this month, several of my clients have been talking about the stress of trying to balance their family lives with their work lives. In my articles, I write a great deal about FEAR, but I more rarely snag the opportunity to write about a related, but equally insidious monster: GUILT.
Years ago, I was helping a child psychologist who ran a busy private practice, made rounds at a local hospital daily, and made himself available to testify in all sorts of court cases. During one of our conversations, he mentioned that he himself had five kids.
“Five kids?” I gasped. It seemed to me that this must be a guilt-ridden man, whose excessive work with neglected children had to have fueled a certain degree of his own family’s neglect. “How can you possibly manage to give them the time you know they need with a schedule like yours?”
With true calm, the good doctor explained to me that the first appointments he put on his schedule each week were with his family—in blocks of two or three hours each. “I’d like to give them more,” he told me, “but I take comfort in the fact that I treat my appointments with them as being my most important.”
“I don’t allow interruptions—except for dire emergencies—of my family time, just like I don’t allow interruptions when I’m working with a patient. When I’m with them, I’m with them one hundred percent. I don’t feel guilty about not getting work done. When I’m working, I know they’re in my schedule, so I don’t feel guilty about not being with them.”
Like the doctor, most of my clients who struggle to balance family and work time are in practices for themselves. Unlike the doctor, most have somehow chosen to be their own worst possible bosses. These bosses could give them more time with their spouses and children…but they don’t.
In his book, The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber points out that most of us go into our businesses backwards. We don’t start by figuring out what kind of life we want—what Gerber calls our “Primary Aim“—so we are forced to accept whatever life our business or practice pushes us into.
You don’t have to work 70 hours a week to be a successful professional. Thirty-five hours—or even four—could get the same results, if you are focused. Fear and guilt can affect this focus. The fear often comes from being overwhelmed by the number of steps we see on the way to the success we picture—from forgetting to focus on just a few steps at a time. The guilt usually comes from not having clear boundaries set around our family and work time. Here are some ideas to keep things from getting muddled:
- Decide where you want your practice—and your personal affairs—to be in the next three years, and write each down in as much detail as you can.
- Just as the doctor did, create a Master Weekly Schedule that starts with your family time and time off. Leave open spaces for all of the things that might pop up during the week. Then, put blocks of time into the work portion for: a) the things you need to do on a regular basis, b) three important projects, and c) thinking and planning.
- Honor your family time as if it were a major professional commitment. Make “appointments” with your spouse and children. When you are on work time—barring emergencies—be on work time. But when you’re with family, be truly with them, so there is no guilt.
You can design your work and professional life around the personal life you want. If you want a sense of how balanced (or imbalanced) you may currently be, take a look at the “Wheel of Life” on my Free Resources page. Before you know it, you’ll be doing the things you need to do and feeling much better about where you are and how you’re spending your time.
If you’re already doing what you love and making separate time for those you love, keep that pesky guilt beast at bay, and just keep REACHING…
*Image courtesy of tech.co.
At the beginning of his classic self-help book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill tells the story of R. U. Darby and his uncle, who went out to Colorado from their homes in Maryland to strike it rich digging for gold.
After finding a carload of ore, their mine ran dry. They dug on for a few more weeks and then quit, selling their rights, their equipment, and their maps to a junk man.
The junk man consulted an engineer to take a look at the maps, and after digging another three feet, struck one of the richest veins of gold in Colorado history.
In their book, 100 Ways To Motivate Others, Steve Chandler and Scott Richardson call what Darby and his uncle did throwing the “Quit Switch”. The gold-diggers threw the switch just three feet away from incredible wealth.
Every day, I speak with professionals who have either thrown the Quit Switch or have one in hand.
“Asking for referrals never worked for me.”
“I tried doing seminars a few times, but they never did anything.”
“I tried running my own practice, but it was just too hard.”
“You can’t make a living as a [financial advisor, insurance agent, small town attorney, realtor—you insert the category]…Well, I know some people do, but I can’t.”
It was difficult, or it wasn’t instantly successful…throw the Quit Switch!
It was going along, but too slowly…throw the Quit Switch!
NFL Coach George Allen said, “Most people succeed because they are determined to. People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit.”
If your career or practice isn’t where you want it to be, stop thinking that you know when to quit. You may be only three feet away from your vein of gold. Don’t throw the Quit Switch.
One of the points Napoleon Hill makes in his story about Darby is that the junk man was smart enough (or humble enough) to call in an engineer (an expert) to look at the mining maps. That option was always open to Darby and his uncle, but they either didn’t think of it or they ignored it, and they chose to stop digging instead.
The only real question is: Do you want to be successful in this career or not? If you do, get the help you need to succeed. Don’t wait until you feel it’s hopeless and you already believe you have no choice but to give it all up.
In other words, if you really want it, swallow your pride, and keep REACHING…
My fellow coach Amir Karkouti shared a story with some of his colleagues recently that I want to share with you now:
Some time ago, a team of scientists took a dog and put him in a cage where the floor had a very mild electric current running through it—just enough to make the dog a little uneasy.
As soon as the dog was put in and felt the current, he bolted out of the cage through the open door.
They returned the dog to the cage and this time shut the door. A week later, when they opened the door again, the dog had no interest in leaving. He had become accustomed to the discomforting cage.
While the dog stayed sitting there, with the electric current running through the floor, the scientists brought in another dog, and opened an adjacent cage with an electrified floor. As had originally happened with the first dog, as soon as the second dog felt the current, he jumped right out.
Here’s the fascinating part: Seeing the second dog bolt, the first one suddenly realized that he, too, could leave the dissatisfying space he was in and, after a few seconds, again ran through the open door.
Only after seeing the second dog escape did the first dog remember that he didn’t have to stay in that less-than-happy place.
Most professionals find themselves in a dissatisfying cage of their own: not earning enough money, being overwhelmed by work, being otherwise unhappy in their situation. But, like the first dog in the study, after awhile they become “comfortable” with being uncomfortable, and they make no big moves to change the current.
In my book, The High Diving Board, I refer to what most people call the “comfort zone” as the “safe neighborhood”. Staying where you are is not necessarily “comfortable”. Sometimes it’s downright UNcomfortable. But it is familiar. And because the unknown—stepping up your game, hiring a coach, etc.—might be more uncomfortable, you stay where you are.
With humans, even seeing someone escape from his or her cage doesn’t always inspire us to leave our own. That requires a decision—the decision to get out. Once you’ve made the decision, knowing what to do becomes much easier.
If you’re in a cage of your own making, or feel that you’ve ended up in someone else’s, don’t wait until you’re in so much pain that there’s no choice but to leave, or be there forever. Make the decision to do it now, and then find the help you need to run free.
Hey, even a DOG can do it. So if you’ve been stuck, pick a new direction, and just keep REACHING…
If you’re like most people, you found yourself juggling all of the things you had to do this past month, including social obligations and gifts galore, and you may have left someone very important off of your list by mistake…YOU! If you could have anything in 2014, what would it be? And why don’t you have it yet?
When we don’t have what we want, we tell ourselves stories about why we don’t. These stories usually involve our circumstances: Not enough time, not enough money, not enough education, the wrong kind of education, etc. Or, they involve the people in our lives: Friends who don’t understand us, spouses who are overbearing, children who are demanding, sick parents, etc., etc., etc.
I often upset my workshop attendees and clients by calling the people or circumstances we blame for holding us back exactly what they are—excuses. Not having money, time, or training may make getting what you want more difficult, but people whose circumstances are far worse than yours have overcome these obstacles by the sheer force of their commitment.
A simple “resolution” you can keep this month is to commit to giving yourself an hour’s worth of time to figure out what you want and what’s keeping you from having it. During that time, ask yourself these Five Questions as part of a “SWOT” Analysis:
1. If you and I were to meet three years from now, what is the absolute minimum that will have to have happened in order to allow you to say your life is terrific?
2. What strengths do you already have that you could leverage to get you there?
3. What weaknesses will you have to acknowledge?
4. What opportunities can you take advantage of that will help you along the way?
5. What are the hardships and obstacles you’ll need to overcome to get to that point?
If you do this analysis before the end of the month, you can make plans you will keep for the New Year. Make time for yourself, and you’ll be able to maintain your holiday spirit all year round, even as you work hard to keep REACHING…
A few years ago, I was asked to give the keynote address at the Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration of Princeton Toastmasters. I decided to speak about Napoleon Hill’s discovery in the 1930s that the wealthiest and most successful people of his time were all following the same Simple Success Formula:
If you conceive an idea for something that doesn’t exist in the world today—an invention, personal wealth, fame, the success of your business, or anything else—and you believe it is possible, and pursue it with passion, it will become a reality.
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe,” Hill wrote in Think and Grow Rich, “The mind can achieve.”
Or, stated simply: “Conceive It…Believe It…Achieve It!”
Thomas Edison conceived that electricity could be a safe, economical source of power for lighting homes and stores, towns and cities.
Andrew Carnegie, the original “Slumdog Millionaire”, conceived as a boy that even a starving orphan could rise through the restrictive societal structure of his time to become wealthy and influential.
Both of these men conceived it, believed it, and achieved it.
In 1993, an unhappy lawyer who had spent a year battling cancer and complications from treatment that left him disabled and bankrupt conceived of an idea for a career—as a speaker, coach, and author—that was nothing like the one he thought he was chained to for life. He dreamt of helping other professionals who were struggling—or completely burnt out, as he had been—find their true calling and success.
But for years he didn’t believe what he had conceived, so nothing happened. A full five years later, in 1998, it was having joined Toastmasters, and having built confidence as a motivational speaker, that helped him believe in the reality of his dream career. The belief became so powerful that soon, nothing could stop him.
Now, over 15 years later, I visit firms and organizations throughout the country doing what I love. I coach individuals who are going through equally challenging life and career transitions as I once experienced. And I’ve written two books and countless articles, sharing the lessons that I’ve learned with an audience wider than I could have imagined.
The main one is this: You can have anything you want…You can be anything you want…You can do anything you want. If you conceive it and believe it, you’ll achieve it.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help to find the right track and to keep yourself on it. Until you conceive of doing that, or until you believe you can, keep REACHING…
A favorite hypothetical of mine:
Let’s imagine two professionals in the same field. We’ll call them Advisor A and Advisor B.
We’ll give them the same educational background, the same training, the same resources and connections, and even similar personalities and work ethic.
But when we put them out in the field, I can promise you that one—let’s say, Advisor A—will do better than the other—our unfortunate Advisor B.
If we made them practically identical in every aspect, the only factor that could account for the difference in their performances is that Advisor A would be taking more of the kind of action he needs to take than Advisor B is taking.
But if their work ethic were the same, how could their actions be any different?
The simplest explanation is that for each, the way his world is occurring to him will be different: the way he views his work, the way he views the people he interacts with, and, of course, the way he views himself.
Advisor A might see his work as being important to the people he works with—something they need in their lives.
He might see the world as a safe and friendly place where what he has to offer is welcome.
He might see clients and prospective clients as open and interested in doing what they need to do for their families. And he might see the people he works with as good people, who are there to support him.
Advisor B—the less successful advisor—might have a different view of his world:
Maybe it’s a difficult, unfriendly place, where you have to struggle to succeed.
Maybe he sees himself as a “salesperson”, who “bothers” people.
Perhaps he sees clients and prospects as closed and deceitful, and he sees the people he works with as being there to make his life difficult.
When Advisor B feels he is not succeeding, he tries to imitate what Advisor A is doing, or he enrolls in yet another course to learn another way to do what he already knows how to do. He experiments with the latest and most advanced strategies and language nuances, and finds that none of it works for him.
Of course it doesn’t. All of his effort is like trying to take the apples off of someone else’s tree and tape them to his own, withering tree stump. It’s not the same, and it won’t yield any new, ripe fruit.
If you identify with Advisor B in this hypothetical, you should understand that it is a mistake to try to solve your work performance problems with more information. You already know enough to succeed. What you need is a transformation—an alteration in how your world is occurring for you. Your “inner game” needs fixing, not your “outer game”.
Strategies and language nuances may help a little, but until you view the world as a place where taking action is easy and fun, you will continue to struggle.
If you’re not taking enough action because you are uncomfortable or overwhelmed, don’t spend your time, energy, and money on another course to learn new ways of doing the same thing. Instead, get to work on your view of your world.
How different would your practice be if you believed that finding new prospects is easy? That people are grateful for the help you offer? That it’s OK to tell them what you believe, even if it might upset them? That you bring value to everyone you speak with?
Change your inner game and you automatically change your results—but only always.
I always believe in game-changers, so contact me if you’re in need of one. In the meantime, keep REACHING…
I had been limping around for three weeks with a pain across the top of my left foot that didn’t seem to be getting any better. I made it through five straight days on my feet for two workshops and an active vacation, but the pain did not subside. So, I finally decided to visit a local orthopedist.
It was good for me to go through this experience, because as often happens, it reminded me of why I do the work I do.
I called the doctor’s office and an unhappy-sounding scheduling assistant treated me as if I was a huge interruption to his day. He was abrupt, unsympathetic, and annoyed when it took me a couple of seconds to give him precisely the information he demanded. He advised me that the doctor I wanted wouldn’t be available in this century, and offered me some alternatives. And he became noticeably agitated when I wasn’t satisfied with the first available appointment. After all, who did I think I was? HE worked for a DOCTOR and was VERY busy. I was just one more bother in his bothersome day.
Actor Frank Morgan as “The Gatekeeper” in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
When I arrived at the office, the staff was annoyed that I didn’t notice the big hand-written sign at the window on the right that says “Sign In Here”, and that I thought it was okay to approach the busy person sitting behind the desk on the left instead. When I got back to the person on the right, she handled our entire transaction—from the clipboard to the insurance card and picture ID—without ever looking up to see my face.
Believe it or not, your staff may be treating people like this—and no matter how good you are at what you do, or how kind and considerate you might be, your clients are thinking, “I’m not coming here again.”
Maybe, as it was in the case of this doctor, there are so many people waiting to see you that you can afford not to know how your staff is behaving. But if you’re like most professionals, it matters to you that clients who have experienced something like this aren’t staying with you, and that they will tell others to stay away, as well.
If you want to grow your practice or business, you need to be certain that you’ve spelled out for your staff how to handle the phones and how to greet people, and you need to be sure that they’re following your system. This means listening in on a prospective client or patient call, and having someone report to you about how they are treated while they’re waiting for you. Don’t assume because you’re being treated well by your assistant that he or she is treating your clients in the same way.
It also means spelling out the basics for your team with a formalized procedure that includes, at least, all of the following points:
1. Identify the office and yourself. Everyone who answers a phone should use his or her name.
2. Be pleasant. No matter how frenetic your office might be, every caller deserves to feel that he or she is not an interruption in someone’s busy day.
3. Offer to help. The identification should be followed by “How may I help you?” or “How may I direct your call?” or—well—anything that’s genuinely helpful.
4. Don’t rush the caller. No matter how busy you are, clients want to ease their stress, not to confront yours.
5. Own the call. Until the caller is connected elsewhere, the person answering the phone is responsible for the caller’s experience.
These are just some of the basic rules.
Nearly an hour later, when I finally got to see the orthopedist, I found him to be extremely competent, and a genuinely nice human being. He advised me that I had fractured a bone, but I wasn’t willing to face his staff for the follow-up appointment. I ended up taking my foot elsewhere.
Referrals come from clients who tell stories about the “magical” service they are receiving. If you’re not certain that you and your staff are making magic in your practice—right out of the gate—you can always contact me. In the meantime, keep REACHING…
Mehdi achieved his success despite starting out with a severely limited grasp of the English language and American customs. Now, at the top of his industry, he is famous throughout the world—with a following in over forty countries. A Chinese admirer changed his own first name to Mehdi, and at least one other inspired insurance agent gave that name to his son.
At an Insurance Pro Shop seminar a few years ago, I had the honor of being asked to speak alongside Mehdi and the renowned publicist Wally Cato. Here are some of the Lessons I learned from Master Mehdi that day:
1. Doing the right thing for your clients results in more business and referrals. Mehdi does not attribute his success to any skill of his own—he believes it is his karmic reward for giving what he can to everyone he comes into contact with. His belief in this regard, and how it humbles him, shines through him as he speaks.
2. Love what you do. Mehdi told his audience that selling insurance is his hobby. He is up at 4 a.m. eager to start his day and doesn’t stop until his wife calls him to tell him to come home for dinner.
3. Be prepared to give them what they ask for, but always show them what you believe they should have. Mehdi talked about how he increases the size of his sales, and helps clients at the same time, by presenting insurance policies at signing time for amounts greater than what he had previously discussed with them.
“They always try to buy less than they should,” he told his audience. “I present to them what they really should have, and often, they agree when they see it.”
4. Make them clients first. “What do you do when a client doesn’t want what you believe is right for him?” a workshop attendee asked. “I give him what he does want, of course,” was Mehdi’s reply. But he continued:
“I wait two or three years [until we have a good relationship and my client trusts me],” he explained, “And then I show him a chart that has on the left side what he bought, and on the right side, what I believed was right for him. I ask him which plan looks better now…and he always points to the one on the right.”
None of this can happen, Mehdi told his audience, unless the person in question becomes a client first.
5. Never give up! A consistent theme in everything Mehdi spoke about was his persistence. “Whenever there is a problem,” he told his audience, “I sit down and create a solution. There’s always a solution.”
6. Talk “Nonsense”. That’s what Mehdi calls his delightful way of engaging people in conversation.
“If I’m going up in an elevator and I push ‘4’, and the other man pushes ‘8’, I say, ‘You must be twice as good as me’. When he asks me why I say that, I tell him that 8 is twice as good as 4.”
Mehdi reminded his audience that day that it makes people feel good when you’re having fun. As further proof that Mehdi walks his talk, he invited me to spend an afternoon with him at his office to pick his brain, and bought us lunch at his favorite Chinese restaurant—asking nothing in return.
Give first, talk small, and think big—and contact me for help with doing the right thing. Love what you do, and keep REACHING…
Nine coaches, myself included, were sitting in a hotel meeting room in Scottsdale, Arizona, mesmerized by Master Coach Steve Hardison, the guest speaker at our workshop. To have Hardison coach you exclusively, you have to be willing to pay $150,000 up front, plus all of your travel and lodging to, from, and in Arizona (no refunds!) in order to meet him in his office at your appointed time every week.
Extending his fingers out into the room and gesturing above and all around us, Hardison urged: “There is no work to do out there, anywhere…Zero!”
“Our minds complicate the whole thing,” he continued. “Listen to what you say here (pointing to his head) and here (pointing to his heart).”
“Everything is from the inside. Nothing is from over here (pointing to the outside world). Dial the right station. When you tune in to what you really want, it will show up. You are god with a small ‘g’. You are creating your life.”
“What could you speak into the world that would upgrade your thinking from a Ford Escort to the car of your dreams?” Hardison asked. “We are the sum total of what we speak about ourselves and the world. Our entire world is what we’ve spoken and thought. I speak it, and my world begins to occur for me. This is what’s going to happen. Every action we take is based on how the world is occurring for us.”
Hardison then told a story about once attending a movie, right before which he stood up and announced to the entire theater that he’d be giving away his client Steve Chandler’s new book after the film to anyone who promised to read it. The people he’d come to the show with slinked down in their seats in fear of being associated with the crazy guy making a self-help announcement in the movie theater. One friend asked him, “Can you do that in a movie theater?” But after the movie, people lined up at the trunk of his car to pick up one of his client’s new books.
Imagine how successful you would be if the way your world occurred to you was the way the world occurs to Hardison: that you can ask anyone—anyone you choose to ask—to meet with you; you could ask anyone for a referral, or to buy whatever you’re offering. And their answer wouldn’t matter. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just an expression of a preference.
“Would you like one of my client’s new books?”
“Would you like to upgrade that popcorn to a Large for 50 cents more?”
“Would you like to sit down and talk with me about your financial situation?”
The world-renowned insurance agent Mehdi Fakharzadeh, now in his nineties, asks the underwriters in his insurance company to issue two insurance policies for a new client: one for the amount they discussed, and one for double that amount. When he goes to deliver the policy, he shows his client both and explains the difference in the monthly fee. More often than you might think, the client takes the larger policy. The client has more protection and Mehdi earns a larger commission. Everybody wins.
But this only happens because the way the world occurs to Mehdi, he can comfortably offer a surprise, double-sized policy to his client while he is delivering what he or she expects, and without worrying that he has overstepped.
If you’re not where you want to be in your career (or in your life), it’s probably not because you need more information. What you need is a transformation—an alteration (or, an upgrade) in how your world is occurring to you.
To have me coach you exclusively, you just have to be willing to make the change. Contact me, and whatever upgrade you desire, I’ll help you find the keys. You’ll have to know they’re somewhere inside, but until you’re sure they’re in your hands, we’ll keep REACHING…