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!

Will Your Home Business Boom or Bust?

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Seven Personal Challenges That Determine Your Home Business Future

Are you one of the many people who are working from home? Perhaps you operate a home based business or work for a company who is saving on office space. Either way, you have some new challenges. Here are the top seven challenges to having a successful home based business.

  1. Doing everything your way. Most home based business owners get very excited about being their own boss. Truthfully, it IS exciting to set your own hours knowing that no one is looking over your shoulder. Yet there are two sides to this story. You are also your own employee! Be honest! Are there some tasks for which you would never hire yourself?
  2. Dealing with delays and interruptions. When you’re working at home it is a challenge to separate your private life from your workday. Children, pets, neighbors, mail men, and gardeners are part of your office landscape. There is no hard and fast rule to guide your attention. You will get interrupted. Your priorities will determine your outcome.
  3. Staying focused. Even if there are no delays and interruptions, most people find it a challenge to stay focused. You may find that your mind strays, or your online research becomes an episode of “Lost In Web Space”!! One of the best things you can do is anticipate this challenge. Learn to forgive yourself and come back to productive work.
  4. Motivation. It is no secret that your motivation will fluctuate from day to day. When your motivation is high you’re likely to achieve more. Be aware that if your motivation slips for more than a few days it can become a destructive habit. To be successful you MUST have a support system. It can be devastating to watch your business fail, knowing that you are the cause.
  5. Communicating effectively. This topic could be a series of articles. There are so many ways to communicate using the phone, email, print, social media, networking, advertising, speaking and many more. There are times you can communicate by telephone and many other times that you must meet in person up. Once you decide what is most effective for you, commit to becoming a master. Take a class, read a book or look for someone to mentor you. It is worth it!
  6. Listening effectively. To be successful you need to identify and solve your customer’s problem. More importantly, your prospect has to BELIEVE that you understand them and are proposing the right solution. Ask lots of questions and listen to your prospect’s answers. If you find yourself twisting your product or service to fit every possible solution you may want to ask yourself, “Was I really listening?”
  7. Doing everything yourself to keep expenses down. You may be working from home in order to save on expenses. We are fortunate to live in a time when we can be in business with a computer, phone, printer and internet connection! When there is very little money coming in, it is tempting to economize by learning new skills. You might put up your own website, design your business cards, start a newsletter or create a mail campaign. Before long you find yourself losing days or weeks in front of tutorials without any additional revenue. You are caught in the trap! Set aside funds to hire professionals. Spend your time on revenue producing activity. That is the fastest way to create success in your business.

Your home based business can be an adventure that brings out the very best in you. It will be a learning experience every single day. You will be called upon to be the very best you can be! Decide every day to enjoy the process, to learn from every choice and to create a support system of friends, mentors and professionals who have a stake in your success. Lastly, smile and enjoy the ride!

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.

The Truth About Your To-Do List

overwhelmedDo you feel guilty as you drown in the daily details? Too much to do. Too many people wanting your time and energy. Being pulled in multiple directions. And wondering if there will ever be time to do what you want. Time management? It seems an impossible goal.

You try to set priorities, but they never seem to stick. Your to-do list grows by the day, but so few things ever get crossed off. Books go unread. Movies remain unwatched. Your computer’s in box overflows with unread email. And those friends you keep wanting to reconnect with? Forget about it.

You feel overwhelmed. You want to change. But where do you start?

I have news for you. No matter what you do, you will always have more choices about where to put your time and focus than you have time available. You will NEVER complete your to-do list.

Think about that. You will never be DONE! Now ask yourself one simple question – and realize that the answer to this question will make all the difference in your life.

How does it make you feel to know you will never finish all the things on your list?

You could feel a variety of ways: Confused, depressed, and hopeless… or free, elated and renewed. If you don’t like how you feel, are you willing to explore further?

When I realized that I would NEVER complete my to-do list, I felt confused. I have been on this earth for quite a few years. I have definitely been here long enough to work out the issue of TIME – how to manage it, prioritize it, make it work for me. How is it possible that I can’t manage to complete my tasks and make my life simple?

Then I had a blinding flash of the obvious. Who put the items on the list? I did. Who made them important? I did. Are there other things NOT on my list? Of course. So why do I put more things on the list than I can do?

As I sat with that question, an image came to my mind: a beautiful “All You Can Eat” banquet filled with sumptuous treats. Crisp and creative salads, roast beef, salmon, sushi, lamb kabobs, asparagus, French green beans, sweet potatoes, chocolate mousse, berry tarts, lemon meringue pie, butterscotch pudding. And of course, champagne and fine wines. Most anything I can think of is on the buffet, just waiting for me to choose.

Clearly, I cannot eat it all. Even an attempt to taste everything would leave me feeling bloated and not enjoying the experience. Just finding a place to start would overwhelm me. I have a choice. Do I walk outside and look for a hot dog stand instead? Do I insist that someone remove all but a few choices in the banquet?

My deepest desire is to taste and enjoy it all, yet I will be miserable if I try this route. Then the answer became clear. I could feel it in my very soul and celebrate.

Your life is about enjoying the banquet. The abundance of spirit brings you more variety than you can ever taste so you can experience free will. Even bitter choices bring you new experiences. And you may then long for the one thing not on the table: simplicity.

It’s all up to you, babe! You get to find the simplicity within yourself. The world is abundant and full of choice. Will you stop for one moment to enjoy the vast abundance that creates your busy-ness? If you can stop now, you may find yourself smiling and giggling as I did. You are getting it! Be grateful. Simplicity isn’t out there, isn’t it?