Are You Following the Winds of Fortune?

MoneyWindMillLast Sunday I stood on a bluff in Santa Monica overlooking the ocean.  A dozen sailboats spread across the horizon, enjoying a beautiful Southern California day.

Although it’s been years since I sailed, it’s something you don’t forget.  Each sailing trip is unique.  One time I floated along, almost dozing, as the boat lapped through the water.  Another trip, I negotiated 20 foot waves for hours to keep the boat upright.  Even when you check the weather in advance there are no guarantees for smooth sailing.

Life is like that too.  Unpredictable.   Buffeted by the changing winds of circumstance, we are all captains of our own ship.  I offer a few things I have learned from sailing as ways to cross your own outrageous sea.

You set the course, no matter which way the wind blows.  Sailing is an art – feeling the pulse of the wind, setting the sails to capture the gusts and move the boat forward.  It is your determination and direction that takes you forward.  The very force of the wind against you drives you to your goal.  Navigating  your business plan may be no less challenging.  Successful people feel the pull of their heart and the whispers of intuition.

You set your own course.

It’s rare that you move in a straight line.  Be willing to change course frequently.  Life is just like that – port and then starboard, and back again.   Keep a taut sail, but be willing to change direction.  Be aware of the horizon and your goals at all times.  Otherwise the changing winds and tides can confuse you.

Expect change and adjust.

Be careful of the lull.  As you tack from one side to another there is a momentary place where the sails flap, noisy and seemingly out of control.  It can be a frightening moment of indecision and doubt.  In that moment you decide the next turn.  It may be the moment you decide whether to leave a marriage, or start a new business, or move to a new community. There is no right answer.

The only danger is stopping in the middle.  You must move forward and fill your sails.  The lull of self-doubt is natural.  Welcome it as a sign that you are changing.  Welcome it as the progress that it truly demonstrates.  And move on.

Self-doubt happens when you are changing, keep moving.

If you persist you’ll get there.  The timing isn’t up to you.  Winds and waves have their own rhythm.  You can steer and set the sails.  Then be patient and enjoy the ride.   Keep your eye on the compass and move toward your goal.

You will reach your goals, at exactly the right time for you.

When the wind is pushing you forward, enjoy.  Then, to sail beyond your wildest imagination – make the extra effort to put up your spinnaker.

When you have been grinding hard to move upwind, it is natural to take it easy and relax when the wind is behind you.  It takes a little extra effort to pull out the spinnaker.  Yet it you have ever seen a boat being pulled along by the half balloon at its bow, you can understand the sheer exuberance of a winner.  Take the extra step.

Celebrate at the top of your game, rejoice and dance through the waves, spinnaker flying.

Step back from the daily grind and feel the wind in your face.  Look up and keep your goals in sight.  You are the captain of your ship.  Glad to come aboard and share the journey!

The Missing Keys to Great Negotiation Skills

j0387744

Would you agree that your success, in business and in life, is determined by your ability to successfully ask for, and get, what you want?  It may have begun when you first asked for a cookie.  Today, you may be asking for a $50,000 contract or a higher discount on supplies.  The principles are the same.

Yet I find people often miss the mark.  Clients tell me that they fear negotiations will result in anger, so they never even ask for what they want.  Or their negotiations bring about a stalemate.  In every instance, we find that four specific keys are missing.

Continue reading

Can a Manager Be Too Nice?

upsetHaving a great manager can boost productivity.  But last week, I heard about a company in chaos due to a manager who wanted to be NICE.

Here’s the scoop: A local company was acquired by a national company.  The office staff grew, and the manager who used to have only a small staff now manages an office of more than 20 people. And after six months of this new management, things are in chaos.

Continue reading

FIRST POSITION: The Beginning

DanceThe dancer knows where to start – always the same.  Class begins with first position.

Left hand on the barre.  Heels together, toes pointed outward, weight equally distributed for balance.  Knees directly over your toes.   Adjust.

Framework.  Classes become more advanced, yet each dancer begins with the basics – over and over.  Think sunrise, morning, breakfast, eyelids opening – first position.

Continue reading

Find the Gold in Gab – Business Communications that Count

Friendly ConsultationPeople do business with people they like.  Yet business is more than a popularity contest.  It is an opportunity to create human connection that generates creativity and growth.  Here are some simple basics!

1. Listen to other people. The most successful people let others talk more than they do.

– Use questions to expand the conversation beyond small talk.

– Ask probing questions to elicit a person’s dreams and passions.

– Uncover ways that you can contribute to others and take action immediately.

2. Compliment others often. Everyone likes to know they’re doing a good job. Be sure to be specific when offering words of encouragement.

– People like to be acknowledged in different ways. Pay attention to each person’s personality style and preferences

o Fast-paced and directed individuals like to be complimented for “taking control” and “achieving results”

o Chatty and personable people enjoy compliments about the “fun and enthusiasm” which they contribute.

o Individuals who look for group consensus and include everyone like to be told that they “create stability” and “help keep everyone on track”

o People that often check details and rules will beam when you tell them that they “maintain high quality standards” and that you appreciate their “attention to detail”.

3. Make a personal connection. Try to stray from using e-mail as a primary form of communication. It will give you a chance to stretch your legs and make a personal impact.

– Your talents, enthusiasm and passion are best communicated in person. Words are only 7% of communication. Communicate facts on paper and in email. To influence and persuade others, meet them in person.

– Personal connections provide feedback for your own growth. Notice when others take your leadership and when they resist. Observe your comfort level.

– Ask others for direct feedback when appropriate so that you can improve your communication!

Communication is more art than skill. To be great at it you have to pay attention and practice. The good news is that every conversation is a source of feedback. We are all human. Forgiving mistakes and showing gratitude and appreciation flow smoothly.