Archive for April, 2010

What do Iron Man 2 and I Have in Common?

Saw an advertisement for the new Iron Man 2 movie, starring Morton Downey, Jr. Got to see it!  The ad said, “Reinvent Yourself! Iron Man 2.”

Hey, Tony Stark! I’ll be glad to show you how to reinvent yourself without having to wear the iron suit!

The Economy Is Your Choice

I won’t argue with you that the times for business are tumultuous. They are rough and many people have found themselves out of work, out of business and out of luck. I meet them every day. I can also tell you that many people have to face challenges that they would have never faced if nothing ever changed. I can say with no doubt that had I not had the difficult times in my life, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Had I not changed colleges, I wouldn’t have met the people I know now who are major influences in my life. Had I not decided to quit my occupation in the church, I wouldn’t be enjoying what I do for a living now. Had my business not fallen apart, I wouldn’t be The Reinvention Strategist. And so on…

When I first became a professional speaker I wanted to motivate people to take action. But something changed…the economy changed. Meetings changed. The world changed. My clients and customers changed. I found that no one wanted to buy the fluffy, feel-good down-home-spun humor. People were hurting and wanted relief from their pain. They were sitting in their seats and listening (most were) to speakers who would come in, do their traveling dog-and-pony show and leave. The feel-good feelings would linger a short while and then it was back to the workplace and the same headaches that plagued them before the meeting. You choose how you react to what is going on in your environment. You either choose to act positively or negatively. It’s all your choice.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am still in the business of making people’s lives better. I just got tired of doing all the work for people who didn’t want to change. I only work with people who want to reinvent themselves in a challenging economy. And fortunately for me, every economy has challenges in it. Charles Swindoll writes, “I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I REACT to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”  And our economic outlook.

About the economy: The US and world economy have taken a beating over the last few years. they have been at the brink, recovered then wandered more into uncertainty. This morning it was announced that several major corporations are reporting profits for the first time in many quarters, but unemployment statistics in the United States (and the world) are still at a staggering rate. No one is ready to declare the recession over yet. You choose how you react to that news. You can either wait, wait and wait longer for the economy to come back to where it was two years ago (and it won’t), or you can choose to act on what is different about it now and make a difference.

It’s all your choice.

Who Cares Who Moved Your Cheese?

When a crisis occurs you will see everyone scramble and look for ways to solve it immediately. Visionaries look around and say, “What can I learn from this experience?” Reinvention strategists see the world of opportunities while those around them see a world of problems. Yes, it goes back to your attitude, but you can’t see the vision with just an attitude change. You need to see life as a series of victories. I tell my daughter that you are either telling your victim story to everyone or your victory story. Victims run people away from themselves. Victors attract a crowd of admirers…and other victors.

In the movie, Patch Adams, Robin Williams’ character runs into an older man who is a genius in a mental hospital for personal reasons. He continually asks people to look at his hand in front of them and tell him how many fingers they see. Every person answers “4.” Each time he rages that they are short-sighted and lack vision. Finally one evening “Patch,” Robin’s character asks the man the meaning of the riddle. The older man likes him and shows him that when he focuses only on the hand in front of him, he can only see four fingers. But if he looks beyond the hand and sees what lies beyond the hand in front of him, his eyes show him eight fingers. “See the world anew. See beyond the problems. See what others choose not to see,” he says.

Change leaders can see the big picture while losers only get a snapshot. They see what others choose not to see out or ignorance or fear. Leaders are reflective. “Why did that work here, but not there?” Instead of saying, “Who moved my cheese?” leaders say, “What else is there to eat and why can’t we make money selling it?” Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading Who Moved My Cheese, I just think that there should be a plan in place in case the cheese runs out and someone should start looking for something else while everyone else is eating cheese. That way, when it gets moved, the leader isn’t whining about who is to blame. The leader is the one with a vision that goes beyond the cheese!

Do whatever is necessary to create widespread understanding and commitment to a shared vision of the future. Write about it, blog about it, tweet it, put it up on Let everything you do convey your vision. Converge all of your efforts into one place – not several to confuse everyone. Send a clear, consistent message of what you want to do and where you are going. Plant your flag in the ground and claim your territory. This will not only help you commit to the vision, but will help others commit and understand it better. You are garnering support for your reinvention.

Usually you have a vague notion that you want to or must do something different. Perhaps you research ideas on the internet or you read books to try to focus in on a set of possibilities. Now you are ready to cast the vision to the world.

Do you want help putting your vision into language your customers and culture can understand?

Who is To Blame for the Recession?

While strategizing with a group of bankers in Tennessee, I heard one of the leaders say, “I think the Democrats in congress caused the banking crisis.” Another disagreed and said it was caused by the permissive loan policies of the Republican administration of the last decade. Then someone started naming politicians who carried blame for cronyism and political favors. When the discussion was over, everyone was in the same place they were before.

Quit pointing fingers at who is to blame. It doesn’t matter WHO is to blame or HOW we got here. If you are wanting to know who, you are already falling into a trap of being a victim. Victims always want to know: Who caused the change? Victors want to know : What can we do moving forward now that the changes have taken place? Change is inevitable and the recession just sped it up considerably. At some point, the “chickens were going to come home to roost,” as my grandfather would say and someone was going to have to pay for the loans and credit crisis so many economists had warned us about. You can’t say we weren’t warned.

For years I heard Dave Ramsey, Clark Howard and many others talk about getting too deep in debt and warning us that there would be a price to pay for the mounting credit problems. We all saw it coming. But knowing that doesn’t solve the problem.

“What are you going to do now that it has happened?” I asked the group of bankers. The room fell silent. It is easy to point fingers but at the end of the day, we are right back where we started from. Assessing blame won’t get us out of the mess we are in. The time is ripe for cool heads who know what to do to move forward and show the way to everyone else.

You need a reinventive attitude that rises above the finger-pointing and blame game. You need an attitude that says no matter what situation I find myself in, I will succeed and look for a better way to do things. I am in stiff competition every day of my life…with myself. I get up every day and ask, “What can I do better today than I did yesterday?” Other questions come to mind: ” Where am I not on the cutting edge? Where is there room for improvement? What am I doing with the resources, talents, skills and creativity that God has given me?”

How do you begin to have a reinventive attitude? I tell leaders to start looking at life as a challenge and every day as an opportunity to do better than yourself. If it means serving others better, then that is even better. If it means making the world a better place for your family, friends and community it is a worthy goal. You need to adopt a reinventive attitude that no matter what circumstances you find yourself in you will look for a way to overcome the problems and use the favorable times as encouragement to keep moving forward.

I encourage people to begin by making personal development a priority. Read books and blogs. Become a student and learn to ask questions. Be a listener, and tell less. Be a learner; not a know-it-all. Most know-it-alls don’t, in fact, know it all! In the reinvention process as with most successful pursuits in life you will learn that the highest performing people ask the most and best questions. This is true in sales, management, customer service and education. The best students make the best teachers. This process becomes much easier each time and allows you to stay in reinvention mode at all times.

Discover your Reinventive Attitude.

Let them beat you on price…but not on value!

If you allow the competition playing field to be on the “price” issue, you lose almost every time. Why? Because anyone can find a way to beat you on price. Anyone can find a way to do what you do cheaper. They may not be able to sustain it for long, but they certainly can find a way to cut corners. There are cheaper mp3 players (Zunes), cheaper flat screen televisions (Insignias) and cheaper cars (Kias). But why can some people charge more for products and services…even in a challenging economy?

The answer is the value you deliver. They can’t beat you if you make “value” the playing field. What value to you give that no one else can give? If you can answer that, you will find the market that you (and only you) own and control. Dominos delivers pizza fast, not just pizza. Oreos are an eating experience, not a cookie. BMW makes great cars, not cheap ones. Disney sells destinations, not a theme park. Barnes and Noble sells more than books so they lead the book industry. Google is more than just another search engine. People will often pay more for increased value.

They can beat you on price, but not on the value you deliver. What  value do you deliver that on one else can touch?

Want to know how to be different in the challenging economy?

What do you do when you hit The Wall?

If you ever meet a professional speaker, ask them what they used to do. Every speaker I have met left a career to begin speaking. Me, too! We either got tired of our job, or fired from it! The work is difficult and the travel can be a nightmare. Almost no one is in college somewhere saying, “I can’t wait to graduate and move on to my career in professional speaking!” Still many people go into the field when their job dries up. Most describe the sudden transition like hitting a wall.

Sooner or later in life you are going to hit “The Wall.” When you hit a wall, your momentum stops completely. You want to continue in the same direction, but The Wall is preventing you from moving forward. Many people have hit The Wall and it has stopped them completely. Walls are often unexpected, rarely welcomed and force us to stop and evaluate practically everything we thought was sure and secure.

You feel like a failure. A little voice hisses at you, “If you fall, you will never get up. You’ll be a failure for life.” Failing and being a failure though aren’t the same. Some of the most famous successes in life have come in the midst of failure. We are taught that Edison was a brilliant inventor, but he failed many, many more times than he succeeded. You feel like a failure when you don’t succeed every time, but you don’t always see the successes that brought you here. Have you ever been to a prize drawing and heard someone say, “Oh I never win anything!”? The truth is, they have been winning their whole lives. They simply chose not to notice the victories. When you fall, you need to see what caused it – The Wall.

When you hit a wall, you are stopped cold. The direction you thought you could go in has been blocked. You were coasting right along and then BAM, you hit The Wall. The Wall is no respecter of position or prominence. Everyone hits it at some or many points in life. The question is, how are you going to respond when you hit The Wall? What is your reaction when you know what you have been doing or enjoying success in dries up?

Here are some tips for guidance when you hit The Wall in your life or career.

1. When you hit The Wall, stop. Stop moving. The Wall stops everyone, but some people try to keep going, ignorant of the fact that they can’t. Stop hitting The Wall, like a child’s wind-up toy. Instead, look at where you are. John Maxwell says, “The next time life knocks you down, look around. Pick up something down there you can take back up with you.” Find out why there is a wall in your path. What is causing The Wall to be in place?

The Wall is forcing a change. Oprah Winfrey said, “Failure is really God’s way of saying, ‘Excuse me, but you are moving in the wrong direction.’” What is The Wall forcing you to change? I meet people every day who are still trying to press forward and do or sell products and services that no one is buying. But they continue to defy wisdom. The Wall has told them they can’t move forward, but they just keep ignoring it and pushing forward. When was the last time you began to feel a cold coming on and denied it? Eventually you had to give in and just allow yourself to be sick.

2. When The Wall stops you, look for a window. The Wall forces you to look at things differently. The Wall blocks your vision and gives you something new to look at. What is your new vision? What is the perspective you have now that you have hit The Wall? What can you see differently that you couldn’t before The Wall changed your forward progress?

The death of Princess Diana in 1997 was tragic to many people. There were mourners in every corner of the globe. But the royal family didn’t expect the magnitude of grief from the British people. It changed their perspective of traditions they held dear. They were forced to view this death as more than a private matter that was to be dealt with behind closed doors. Queen Elizabeth II had to see her role as a consoling individual, rather than the role of a withdrawn monarch. The Wall of Princess Di’s death changed her perspective.

3. When you hit The Wall look for a door. Find a way to go past The Wall and move in a new direction. Every wall has a door. The window tells you where to look; the door shows you where to go. What door is your wall opening for you? It may not be a door you would have chosen in the first place, but The Wall has forced you to take this new path. Don’t ignore it. The path is opening for you.

In November of 2009, Tiger Woods hit The Wall when his personal life became front page news. Matters he was responsible for had gone beyond his control. His private life was now very public. But in a concentrated effort, he looked to friends for guidance, sought help in counseling and rehabilitation and came out a strong player in the 2010 Masters Golf Tournament (tied for 4th). The Wall forced him to seek a door and move forward in a way he would have never moved previously.

Want to get past The Wall?

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April 2010


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