Conquering Job Stress

Hi, Everyone!

I just received a copy of David Chinsky’s latest newsletter. In addition to being an executive coach and business advisor, he is also a ChangeWorks Professional splitting his time between Michigan and Arizona. I thought his article shared a wonderful DownGrid maneuver for us all.

Conquering Job Stress by David Chinsky

Early in my career, I began to notice a trend: As I signed up for more and more responsibilities, I experienced increasing amounts of stress. I started to worry about whether I would be able to deliver on all of my promises as I watched my list of commitments grow taller and taller.

Because I was an avid runner, I assumed my daily exercise would serve as protection against my growing stress level.  However, when I moved into my first executive role, I quickly realized that my running habit was simply not enough to inoculate me against the rising stress of my job.

As I discussed this one day with a colleague, she suggested that I go float. When you go “floating,” you are closed up in a large, light-proof, sound-proof flotation tank filled with a shallow pool of water and Epsom salt, which is five times denser and more buoyant than sea water. This allows you to lie back and float effortlessly on the surface with all parts of your body firmly supported…almost like an astronaut in zero gravity.

At first, I thought my colleague was joking. The idea of spending my lunch hour wearing nothing but a bathing suit, cocooned in a floatation tank, buoyed in total darkness for 60 minutes, seemed a bit on the fringe-even for me.

But I decided to give it a shot, and I spent one hour a week floating for almost six months. It was one of the most peaceful experiences of my life.

The salt in the tank permitted me to lie motionless on my back without effort, close my eyes and listen to whatever music I chose for the hour. When I emerged from the tank, I was literally floating.

When I returned to the office, everyone knew I had just floated because I was so mellow.  It was clear that I had found the perfect stress reliever.

Unfortunately, the float store across the street from my office eventually closed its doors due to lack of business (I guess even flotation tank businesses can sink). I wasn’t sure how I was going to replace the serenity I achieved when I escaped into the tank each week.

Interestingly, the same colleague who initially recommended that I float every week went on to recommend an even more powerful form of relaxation, one that has helped me manage my stress ever since. She suggested that I treat myself to a weekly Swedish massage.

Admittedly, I was a bit squeamish about getting a massage at first. At the same time, I knew I needed to find a replacement for my weekly floats.

Being the adventurous person I am, I decided to give it a try-and the rest is history. For the past 15 years, I have been seeing the same massage therapist every week.

The 60 minutes I spend at her center each week are truly grounding, giving me the opportunity to absorb her healing energy and truly relax. While a weekly massage may seem a bit extravagant, I remember reading that Bob Hope received a daily massage-and Bob lived to be 100.

Whether you seek out floating, a regular massage or some other form of relaxation, it is critical to find some way to regulate your stress. After all, stress management is an essential part of a healthy and vital life.

Relaxation isn’t just about peace of mind. It is also a process that decreases the wear and tear on your mind and body from the challenges and hassles of daily life.

So how do YOU conquer stress??

If you’ve enjoyed David’s article, please let him know by contacting him at his website, or leave a message for him here on the blog.

-T-

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The Scoreboard Strategy for Success

Hi, Everyone!

I just received the latest edition of Dave Miller’s newsletter and wanted to share the main article with all of you —

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“Use the Scoreboard Strategy for More Success” by Dave Miller

It’s that time of year – a time of reflection and doing some goal setting. One of the most powerful things you can do for your business and life is to set clear, powerful goals. Otherwise, you leave the things to chance.

Will you be a Passenger, Controller or a Navigator? Will you choose to go rafting down a river without any oars?  Oars that will help you navigate your direction and get to your intended destination?

Without goals, you are, in essence, making a decision to ride passively and let the “river of circumstances” take you, your business, career, and your life wherever it wants.

Now you can go to the other extreme and try to control life’s events. Like trying to force a river flow a certain way, this is an exercise in futility. We can’t control most of life’s events!

However, we do have control over certain things, namely what we believe and how we respond to life’s events. As we take responsibility in these areas, we are stepping into our role as Navigator. In order to navigate we need to set a direction and identify a destination. That’s where goal-setting comes in.

Here’s a 5 Phase plan for setting goals for 2011.

Phase 1: Reflect on 2010.

Ironically one of the first things that often helps to set goals is to first look back. Here are some questions to ponder as you look back at 2010:

What were your biggest “wins”?
What was the most valuable lesson you learned?
If you had to describe the theme for 2010, what would it be?
What was your biggest disappointment last year?

Phase 2: Envision your 2011.

Here’s where you define the destination. Imagine yourself 12 months from now at the end of 2011. What do you envision yourself accomplishing at that point in time?

It’s helpful to identify various categories to set some goals that you want achieve for next year. For example, in your business you may want to think through some of the following categories:

Maximize new sales / clients
Maximize new sales/clients
Support existing clients
Upgrade my leadership and sales skills
Management of costs
Create an empowered team
Implement systems to leverage business

Identify personal categories as well, such as:

Physical health
Financial well-being
Emotional strength
Relationships – spouse, children, friends, etc.
Spiritual abundance

Once you have your categories, envision where you want to be in all these areas at the end of the year. For example, you may want to lose 30 pounds and start a consistent exercise regime. You may want to increase sales by 20%. Think through all these areas and ask yourself want it would be like to achieve these goals. How would it feel? What else would make it “outrageous”?

Phase 3: Set Performance Goals

The goals you set in your categories are most likely end goals in that they define your destination. And in many cases, you don’t have 100% of the control for achieving them. In this phase write down the practices and behaviors that will support arriving at these goals, i.e. performance goals.

Unlike end goals, with performance goals you have 100% control in seeing them to fruition. Performance goals are the actions and behaviors that, if practiced consistently, will dramatically increase the probability that you’ll get to your end goal.

For example, let’s say you want to increase your client base by 20% (end goal). A performance goal to help get you there is “to speak to groups of qualified prospects at least once per month”.

Remember: End goals provide the inspiration, performance goals provide the specification.

Phase 4: Who do you need to be?

In this phase, ask yourself the following:

“What qualities do I need to bring to the table to make this happen?”
“What do I need to dial-up in order to achieve these goals?”

If you want to do what you did last year, it’s not going to require anything materially different from you this year. But if you’re looking to grow and change in 2011 and play a bigger game, it will most likely require courage to move outside your comfort zone and take more risk. Reflect on the list of characteristics and qualities that will need to show up this year for you to get where you want to be.

Phase 5: Implement A System

If you want to make sure your goals become a reality rather than a pipe dream, you’ll need a system of weekly planning to make sure you reach your destination. For more on how to do this, see my article on “Outcome Focused Planning.”

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If you enjoyed Dave’s article, please leave a note for him here on the blog or send him an email.

-T-


The Power of Stories

Hi, Everyone!

Among the most powerful skills a human development professional can develop is the ability to select and share stories that empower and motivate their clients and their audiences — and our industry has a rich history, filled with countless stories that are as meaningful today as when they were first told generations ago.

Here’s a great story that can set the stage for any talk about personal accountability, self-discipline or individual growth.  It was first printed in Napoleon Hill’s classic book, “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude” published in 1960.  As with any story coming from a time period so long ago, you always need to update elements of the story for political correctness and to mesh better with contemporary audiences, as I have done here:

“Getting the World Right”

A preacher had been having a very difficult time all week coming up with a powerful message for his sermon the following Sunday — and his time was quickly running out …

The preacher found himself on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon.  His wife had gone out for a few hours to do some shopping, leaving him to entertain his young daughter.  With the bad weather preventing her from going outside to play, the little girl had grown bored and was driving her father crazy with her constant interruptions and general mischief.

In a desperate attempt to occupy his daughter’s attention so he could focus his thoughts on his sermon, the preacher grabbed a magazine, flipped through, found a colorful picture of the world, ripped it out, tore it into dozens of pieces, threw them on the floor and said, “If you can put the world back together, I’ll give you a dollar.”

Thinking he had just bought himself a couple of hours of peace and quiet, he was surprised when not ten minutes later, his daughter re-appeared with the re-assembled page in her hand and a smile on her face.

“Hi, Daddy!  Here’s your picture.  Can I please have my dollar?”

The preacher looked at his little girl and said, “Honey, how did you do this so fast?”  She replied, “Well there was a picture of a man on the other side, so I just put the man back together and turned it over.  I figured if I got the man right, the world would be right too.”

The preacher smiled, pulled out his wallet, handed his daughter a $1 bill and said, “Thank you honey!  You’ve just given me my sermon for tomorrow!”

Isn’t that a great little story to capture the heads and hearts of an audience and a great theme for any presentation about leadership, responsibility and focused effort? It’s also a perfect reminder for all of us in the human development industry:  to make our WORLD a better place, we need to stop worrying about our circumstances and get back to work on OURSELVES.

Now, go share the story!

-T-

Tension Management in a Job Interview

Hi, Everyone!

I recently received a copy of John Hadley’s newsletter and thought his lead article would be great to share with all of you. John is a career search and enhancement counselor and, obviously, a ChangeWorks professional.

Managing Tension in the Interview by John Hadley

Candidates tend to come into an interview with a single-minded agenda, “getting the offer.” In the process of working hard to achieve that goal, they often miss a critical element: Tension Management!

The same is true for consultants coming into a meeting with a prospect – they are so focused on their agenda (selling their services) that they often miss out on the subtle changes in tension that are so critical to success.

The other extreme is the candidate who has virtually no agenda, who simply follows the interviewer’s lead on everything and hopes this will ultimately lead to an offer. This is a recipe for disaster, especially if leadership potential is at all part of the hiring decision.

Let’s look at 3 levels of tension you want to manage in the interview.

1. Your own personal tension. Few situations are as tense as a job interview. This is where the rubber hits the road – a make or break situation for landing the job that will end this protracted search.

You need to harness that tension, both reducing it to a manageable level and converting it from high stress to empowerment, confidence, and engagement.

With lots of preparation, including several hours of serious role play to hone your interview skills, you should be able to reach the required level of confidence in your abilities. Additional role play on specific areas with which you are uncomfortable, or that haven’t gone well in past interviews, is also valuable. Visualization exercises immediately prior to a specific interview can help you reach a state of calm that can carry you through the initial stress of walking into unfamiliar territory.

One caveat – don’t over-prepare. If you carefully craft and memorize the “best” answers to interview questions, they cease to even be “good” answers, because they become rehearsed and artificial rather than conversational. Focus more on technique and psychology than the exact words you might use.

In fact, if you find yourself getting a bit cocky about your ability to land this particular opportunity, you might want to think about ways you can raise the bar for yourself – to actually raise your own tension level a bit to get you re-engaged and re-energized.

2. Relationship tension. You want to minimize this as quickly as you can. You want me (as the interviewer) to see you as someone I want to be working with every day, someone I will enjoy having on my team, and in whom I have confidence and can always rely on to be watching out for my best interests.

Those little things you do at the start of the interview to build rapport and create a connection are vital – even just walking in smiling and giving a firm handshake. (I’m still shocked at how many people fail even this simple test!)

You need to reduce the relationship tension quickly so that the interviewer can focus on the bigger question of whether you are the person he/she wants to hire. As long as this tension is high, it will be a serious distraction for both of you, and you won’t be fully engaged in the critical conversation you need to have.

3. The interviewer’s tension. Most candidates fail to recognize this, or to respond properly to it if they do.

A core principle of tension management is that people pay attention to their tension. You want this working for you.

You might think you should reduce the interviewer’s tension. Absolutely not!

There are actually two dimensions to interviewer tension that you are trying to manage. You do want the interviewer’s tension about whether you can do this job to be as low as possible, but you want tension relating to the decision to hire you to stay high enough that they want to act right away!

So how do you manage this latter “hiring” tension?

Follow the interviewer’s tension (and observe it). When you see the interviewer getting excited about the conversation and showing a lot of passion, you are headed in the right direction. When you sense he/she is backing off and showing less interest, you’ve made a wrong turn and need to find ways to get back to riper areas.

To uncover (and accentuate) this positive tension, get into challenges. That is where you are most likely to uncover what is really important to the interviewer, and the drivers that will lead to a hiring decision. For more on this, see the two articles here:

http://www.JHACareers.com/ArticlesChallenges.htm

Here’s a concrete example to illustrate what I’m talking about.

Suppose at some stage in the interview you are asked how you would solve a key problem faced by the company. This may also take the form of asking you to come in prepared to present a marketing plan or to make a presentation on your solutions to that problem.
What do you do?

Most would tend to do exactly what was requested, and would try to provide as detailed a plan or solution as possible to demonstrate that you can solve their problem. Big mistake.

By providing me a detailed road map to solve the problem, you reduce both my tension about your ability to do the job AND my hiring tension. The problem I presented no longer seems so insurmountable, because you have just given me the road map to its solution. Now I can see ways to solve it that don’t have to include you.

Instead, you want to show me that a solution exists, that you HAVE or CAN EASILY DEVELOP a road map without actually giving me the critical details that would let me feel I can follow it without you. Navigating the challenge that way will reduce my tension about your ability to do the job while INCREASING my hiring tension. I need to ‘buy’ you to get the actual solution!

For more on this, see my article on “Interview or Free Consulting” at:

http://www.jhacareers.com/FreeConsulting.htm

So, for your next interview, or meeting with a potential client, I want you to ask yourself this question:

“Am I properly managing the interviewer’s tension?”

If not, and you need support through coaching and role play to master this, maybe we should talk… just fill out my Career Search Assessment survey, and we’ll set up a time to chat:

http://tinyurl.com/CareerSearch2010

(Please note that this link takes prospects to John’s ChangeWorks Profile — and I’d be happy to provide the actual link, but I can’t figure out what the tinyurl link really is.  John — let me know if you’d like me to include it.)

If you’ve enjoyed John’s article, please leave a comment here on the blog —

-T-

Free Coaching Sessions??

Hi, Everyone!

I recently received a note from ChangeWorks professional Mattison Grey about an article from CoachingCommons.org she thought I’d find interesting. The subject is “The Double Edge Sword of Free Coaching Conversations” written by Emmy-winning television news reporter and anchor, Mark Joyella.

Here’s the link —

Article about Free Coaching

Let me know what you all think —

-T-

Using the Right Skill Set

Hi, Everyone!

Here’s another article I recently wrote as part of our MasterStream:Essentials outreach program:

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Mission-Critical Issue #3

Using the Right Skill Set for the Job at Hand
The major reason why you’re not getting the clients you want.

Human development professionals are a wonderful group of people, dedicated to helping others achieve the outcomes they want most.

To prepare themselves for the work they do, they’ve devoted tremendous amounts of their time and money to completing their education and developing their skills, routinely investing hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars.

While those skills make them excellent providers of their services, they do NOT generally help them get the clients they need. In fact, many of the skills vital to the work of coaches and consultants actually undermine their success when it comes to the sales process.

Using coaching and consulting skills as substitutes for sales skills is as illogical
as using sales skills as substitutes for coaching and consulting skills.

Different roles require different skill sets — and human development professionals serve at least two roles — as a provider of services to the client and as a sales professional working on their own behalf.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the five “Phases of the Change Process” from the perspective of both you as a provider of services and a sales professional. While the phases may be the same, what you say and how you say it are very different indeed!

Phase 1: Connecting

In your role as a service provider, you begin as you naturally are — as a warm, approachable and friendly person, casual yet professional. Putting your client at ease and creating a safe and comfortable space for them is your focus.

In your role as a sales professional, the conversation begins with a bit more professional detachment. What you say must be more tightly controlled, focused on proving that you understand your prospect’s situation and that you’re capable of helping them.

Phase 2: Analyzing

As a service provider, you ask your clients a variety of question to describe their situations, provoke their thinking, express themselves, and explore options.

As a sales professional, you are on a very deliberate quest to determine whether or not your prospect has a genuine need and the wherewithal to make a decision.

Phase 3: Solving

As a service provider, you facilitate discussions leading to the development of the actual solution to their situation.

As a sales representative, you position yourself as the ideal professional for the prospect to hire, focusing on the solid reasons why your background, approach and personality are the exact match for what they are trying to accomplish. Resisting all temptation to give away what you are hoping to sell — to serve as an unpaid coach or consultant — is of paramount importance.

Phase 4: Committing

As a service provider, you seek a “Commitment in Principle” — an agreement to follow through on the recommendations and action plans developed during the Solving Phase.

As a sales professional, you seek a “Commitment in Fact” — a definitive action of engaging your services.

Phase 5: Relieving

As a service provider, you leave your client with a pleasant and soothing sense of accomplishment.

As a sales professional, you leave your client with an excited, enthusiastic and an eager anticipation of their first session.

Now, go back through the phases and read just the paragraphs describing the service provider. Is it any wonder that behaving as a service provider when selling your services is less likely to result in a new client?

On the other hand, read just the paragraphs for the sales professional and see why it’s a much more effective approach.

So, are YOU relying more on your coaching and consulting skills or your sales skills when converting inquiries into clients?

-T-

Dispelling the Marketing Myth

Hi, Everyone!

Here’s an article I recently wrote for our MasterStream:Essentials outreach program —

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Mission-Critical Issue #2

Dispelling the Marketing Myth
Understanding the difference between marketing and sales.

There seems to be some confusion …

A great many human development professionals believe their marketing efforts will bring them clients.

They are mistaken.

The purpose of marketing is to generate inquiries about your services.

Marketing includes an enormously wide range of possible approaches and a huge set of tools and techniques:

• Internet marketing, social media, search engine optimization, viral marketing, video and audio marketing, email blasts and batteries …

• Strategic business alliances, elevator pitches, physical networking, sponsorships, trade shows, advertising specialties …

• Branding, image management, public relations, media relations, expert positioning, association affiliations …

• Designing a website, publishing articles and white papers, maintaining a blog, conducting podcasts, and developing advertising campaigns …

SO many ways to market yourself … and those were just the tip of the iceberg!

Regardless of the approaches you’re using, your marketing can only be deemed effective if it generates qualified leads in excess of your capacity to handle the work.

Read that again.

Your marketing results should keep you in the position to pick and choose those opportunities you genuinely want to pursue — and those you will politely set aside. If your marketing isn’t creating a excess of inquiries, you may be forced to try and convert the inquiries you do receive into clients — and that can be a VERY difficult thing indeed.

Bottom line — all marketing approaches can result in inquiries about your products or services — but getting an inquiry and getting a deal are dramatically different things.

The purpose of sales is to convert inquiries into clients.

While low cost, relatively simple products can sometimes be sold as a direct result of a well-crafted brochure or webpage, the majority of human development professionals offer a much more robust menu of programs, products and services. Things like books and low-cost seminars can easily be purchased without the assistance of a professional, but the REAL things you want to sell will almost always require you to have a conversation with your prospect.

Once you find yourself in a conversation with a prospect, your marketing has done its job and it time for SALES to become your primary focus. Sadly, very few human development professionals are naturally gifted with an ability to sell — and the majority have little or no sales experience and virtually no true sales training.

Sales conversations can be divided into a number of phases, each with its own set of objectives. Some of the phases may resonate well with your personality and business philosophy while others may feel alien, unnatural and downright scary!

So the mere thought of selling can be terrifically unpleasant.

Mind you, sales doesn’t HAVE to be that way — but traditional sales approaches, filled with exploratory probes, trial closes, and objection handlers can feel manipulative and incongruent with what you’re all about. It’s no wonder human development professionals struggle in their role as their own salesperson.

Yes, in order to be successful you must market yourself — and even if your marketing efforts are working well, there’s no guarantee that you’ll end up with a client. Sooner or later, far more often than not, a sales conversation must occur — and you must find a way to become comfortable with that fact, develop the skills you need and apply them effectively. If you lack sales skills and proficiency in using them, even an ideal situation can be destroyed.

So, do you have a marketing problem, sales problem or both?

-T-