What do you do when you know there is a traffic jam in route to your destination?
You take a detour, won’t you? You deviate from the most direct course.
You circumvent the heavy traffic to save time, avoid stress and get to your destination with peace of mind.
Let me ask you:
What do you do when something turns out different from what you expected, such as the resignation of your leader, or unexpected drying up of funds, or the sudden outburst of an unhappy customer?
Now, you have two choices:
a) You pretend nothing happened (or you didn’t notice) and continue on the same course as before, resulting you to be stuck in traffic, or
b) You circumvent the situation and take a detour
The good thing is there are only 2 choices, either you do nothing or you do something. Only in rare cases is doing nothing a good way out of a mess. If you decide to do something though, you have to make many more decisions. You have to evaluate which route to take, you have to consult maps and other resources. You have to discern what matters most to you, i.e. getting there fast or in once piece. This detour, this new reality often derails people. All of a sudden there are temptations to take short cuts, such as driving across people’s lawns. In the business world detours could bring ethical dilemmas.
When things turn out differently, the best made plans and intentions go out the window.
We know that things will turn out differently than expected all the time. I can cite dozens of examples every day, where things turned out differently than expected. So, what do the best of us do, when they become aware of a traffic jam, when there is change?
Here are my top 7 tips to adapting to change:
1) Know That You Will Have to Take Detours. Period.
The possibility for change is infinite, every nanosecond of every day can have an exponential impact on others. YOU can have an exponential impact on others. Change is constant, it’s a fact of life. Yet so many walk through life taking the status quo for granted. Because change frightens people and it upsets the story that we are telling ourselves every day. Whatever story you are telling yourself right now, know that it’s real only for a fleeting moment and this works to your advantage and your disadvantage. It means good things can turn bad instantly and, bad things can turn good also in an instant. Accepting this possibility rather than fighting it gets you ready and primed for whatever life will throw at you.
2) When the Unexpected Happens, Stop and Listen
Only when you find yourself in an emergency will the fight or flight response serve you well. The problem is that most of us don’t find ourselves in emergencies all the time. We are made to belief we are in an emergency more often than we really are though to get us to react. All the urgent phone calls and email asking you to do something are usually not urgent at all. They might be urgent to the person requesting something from you, but not for you. So, stop and assess the situation. Listen to your gut. Ask yourself, will this get me closer to my goal, or will it take me further away from my goal.
3) Be REALLY Clear on Where You Want to Go
You might think you knew where you were going. However, traffic jams and change give you a chance to reevaluate, if you still want to go where you said you wanted to go. The best way to get clarity is by talking the situation through with someone. By talking out loud and you listening to your own voice clarity is inevitable.
4) Consult All Resources, And Then Some
Here is another truth: You don’t have all the answers. As much as you might think you do and the fact that you are at the top of your game makes you belief it even more, but you just don’t know it all. Nobody does, so you are in really good company. Let’s stop pretending and faking it. Let’s just face up to it. You need our help, your family and friends, your colleagues, your community, your organization. Whatever circles you are navigating in, there are resources for you to consult. May be someone in your carpool, knows of a different short cut you weren’t aware of. Maybe your colleague in the office is aware that the all important meeting was canceled anyhow. Think outside of the box and trust that others are well-informed, might have the missing piece and want to help.
5) Consider the Return
Now, this is an interesting one. I am talking about both the return now (abandoning the mission), or the return after completing the mission. How will you be received by your team, your tribe, your community when you come back? Will they acknowledge you for the trouble you have gone through to get there and back? Will there be gratitude for your efforts? If not, time to consider what you are doing…
5) Be Open to New Opportunities on the New Route
Let’s say the traffic jam caused you to choose a different form of transportation. Let’s say you find yourself now sitting in a commuter train, a bit uneasy about what will happen next, but confident enough that you will make it to your destination in time. Open your eyes to what you see along the way. Just by looking out the window, you might see another prospect, or you might run into your neighbor who holds the key to your new life science discovery without you knowing it yet. Anything is possible, always.
6) Enjoy the Ride
Yes, you are on a different course. Things have changed and things are turning out differently than you thought, but hey, why not smell the roses as long as you are at it. This moment will never come back, so make the most of it, by recognizing it.
7) Arrive in Less Time and Stress Free
Yeah, you made it. Congratulations! You have arrived faster and are feeling accomplished. No, it wasn’t the most direct route, but that’s okay. You got there and you gained valuable insights along the way. You learned a new route, a new way of doing things, got to know new people, and found new opportunities. What could possibly be better than that?
How can you use these tips?
Plug in your ‘traffic jam’ into this list of tips, the team leader that quit, the oil spill attributed to your company, the drug addiction of your teen at home or the cancer diagnosis. What is your pattern of dealing with change? Do you react too fast? Do you not consult others in your network? Have you lost your way a bit? Are you missing the nuggets along the way?
Time to take a deep breath – and assess.
I bet you won’t look at a traffic jam in quite the same way again.
To create financial wealth you need to make more than you spend and invest the difference. This seems like such a simple concept, but it is not that easy to attain. I have been thinking a lot about our stressed out society. March seems to have been the month of computer challenges or put out backs, both signs of stress. Everyone is super busy working hard on not making the house of cards collapse. How ironic that Netflix introduced a series called “House of Cards” this month, but I digress. What if we were to apply the said concept of making more than spending and investing the difference to the way we spend our time?
I believe our time is finite and none of us really knows how much time we have in our able bodies. So, we really can’t make more time, except by living healthy and preventing illness and physical decline as much as possible. In a sense we’d be adding time to our time bank by eating well, exercising and maintaining our bodies at peak performance.
In addition, we need to spend time on what matters most and what ensures our survival. We do this by engaging in meaningful work. Notice: I am saying meaningful work, rather than a job – there is a difference. Meaningful work can be helping your children with their homework, helping your spouse solve a problem or volunteering for a good cause. With the time left over, we can invest in ourselves by learning new skills, enjoying the company of friends, replenishing our soul in nature etc.
My intention is to add to my piggy bank of time by actively living healthy, subtracting time engaged in what’s needed for my sustainability and enjoying life to the fullest with the rest.
How does this concept sit with you?
On which end of the equation do you need to make adjustments? What if the difference between time you have available and the time you spend is 0? Then it’s time to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I had an epiphany: “Life Coaches are unnecessary,” stated Dr. Yong Zhao in his address to the Santa Cruz education community at Cabrillo College, California. When he said it, everyone laughed, and so did I. Dr. Zhao was making a distinction between what we need to survive, such as food, water, and shelter, and what we really don’t need, such as iphones and coaches, along with divorce attorneys, accountants and a slew of other professionals.
He made a compelling case for the value of the US educational system, that despite having produced mediocre student math scores in comparison to the Asian scores for years, the US still outperforms all other countries in producing entrepreneurs. He attributed this strength to higher creativity and especially higher confidence in students. He went on to say that we are in danger of losing that entrepreneurial spirit when we strive to compete with Chinese “sausage making machines,” producing employees for manufacturing jobs that are on the decline.
What is needed in today’s work environment more than ever are entrepreneurial qualities to solve the problems we are facing in our families, communities, organizations and society. All of us need to be entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs for non-profit causes, policy entrepreneurs for government agencies, intrapreneurs within organizations or business entrepreneurs running our own companies.
How do we educate our kids to be entrepreneurial? By starting with the strengths of the child rather than by imposing a certain curriculum onto our children. Sure all kids need to have a foundational knowledge to function in society and we can debate what that foundation is. But students need personal education, fostering their natural talents and gifts. And we need teachers who are willing to not be the expert at any subject other than uncovering those gifts through inquiry. And here we close the loop: We need all teachers to be coaching their students. Do they turn into life coaches in the process?
Everyone understands that a great football coach is needed to get to the Superbowl. Teachers need coaching skills to uncover the strengths of the child. The good teachers already have these skills. We need educational environments that allow teachers to explore with their students. Maybe we won’t need lifecoaches or executive coaches in the future, although I doubt it. However, I am convinced all of us need the skills coaches embody, such as inquiry, focus on the student, and value- based goal setting to teach, invent, discover and sell our way to a happy, healthy and useful life.
What can you contribute toward this journey to entrepreneurship of our future generations?
Have you ever sat down and tried to write something but the page remained empty? This phenomenon is commonly referred to as writer’s block. I have had a severe case of writer’s block this month. I haven’t written any blog posts, no linked-in updates or Facebook posts. My mind went on strike. That’s not to say that my mind was empty, on the contrary, I have been thinking about lots of things – my stand on gun control, President Obama’s call to action, creating shared value, sustainability, purpose, having an empty nest and what to focus on for the next year, the next decade. And yet, I couldn’t write any of it down.
I have been in hibernation mode ever since the holidays. Not that I haven’t been productive, in fact I have been very productive, completing and delivering my taxes to my accountant, clearing last year’s files, enrolling new clients in addition to all the other activities that come with running a business, serving on a board, providing for teenagers, pets and homes etc. No, I have not been a couch potato. I have, however, taken a big step back.
Rather than rushing in to continue as I finished the last year, I am reflecting on my way of doing things, my processes, my purpose, my values. Unsettling as it may be, it left me content. I haven’t felt rushed or rushing others, have contemplated and assessed. In short, I have taken inventory. Isn’t that what businesses do once a year? Taking stock of the resources you have at your disposal, making a note of the constraints that you believe you have to live within and question them?
I have taken inventory ever since I wrote my Manifesto (see above). Writing my Manifesto was a real awakening for me. Every word is carefully chosen. Each sentence crafted with care. Every period placed with intention. Reading my Manifesto every day has helped me focus on what matters most, reduce waste and create with purpose, not just for the sake of creation. I can’t say I have arrived at the other bank of the river yet, but in the meantime, I am going with the flow while keeping my eyes firmly on the goal.
Have you taken inventory lately?
What does your manifesto look like?
PS. Writing about not writing was the only way to be authentic. Going with the flow always works for me.
Instead of writing New Year’s Resolutions, I decided to write a Manifesto, helping me focus on what matters most this year. It has been a powerful process and I can only encourage you to write one of your own. Here is what I came up with:
Time is of the essence. Time is limited and plentiful all the same. What am I waiting for? For someone else to act? It’s time for me to connect the dots for maximum impact.
Sustainably. Responsibly. Boldly.
Uncovering the essence is like a complex puzzle.
Of people. Of communities. Of organizations.
We have a mountain of challenges to address, so engaging with passionate people who want to ascend to make a difference might as well be fun!
Brian Johnson, author of the Philosopher’s Notes is putting out short little videos about optimal living. His video on Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation spoke to me. What drives you every day? Intrinsic or Extrinsic? I know that I feel much better when driven by internal motivation of meaningful relationships, personal growth, and community contributions.
Only a few days ago, I was admiring the beauty of New York City. I was struck by buzzing Lower Manhattan with its sea of humanity coming and going, noticing the beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge, inspired by the shoreline of New Jersey across the way. I got to stroll through the West Village and into Chelsea and enjoyed the Fall weather. I marveled at the Fall colors driving through the New Jersey countryside. Today all looks different. Today is the day after Storm Sandy devastated New Jersey and put 8 million people out of power. My heart goes out to all who have been affected by Storm Sandy! Everything changed! The only constant is change, so we shouldn’t be too surprised when change happens. As a matter of fact we need to anticipate change. What counts now is the response to change. How do officials respond, especially the heroic first responders. And almost more importantly, how does every individual respond. We tend to see the best of people come out after a disaster. Nonetheless, disasters leave scars and after the initial adrenaline wears off, there is still more clean up to do. My hope for all affected is a collaborative effort to restore, reuse and repurpose. Even if you are not directly affected, how will you change your ways as you are observing the images from the East Coast?
Yesterday, I met my friend and colleague, Nancy Colasurdo, in the meat packing district of New York City for lunch. Little did I know this would be an exploration in re-purposing. The meat packing district, as the name suggests, was formerly used for handling and packing meet. Now it is a trendy area filled with boutiques and restaurants and I witnessed not one but 5 photo/film shoots. I felt as if I was on a movie set, except it was for real. In the restaurant on the way to the unisex bathroom, a novelty where I come from, I discovered a whole floor tiled with real pennies. Nothing better than walking on money. The area underneath the old High Line rail track is now used as a charming backdrop for a Biergarten. Ingenious! Climbing up the stairs we explored the re-purposed train tracks with native grasses and trees, creative walkways and benches flanked by New York City Scapes and art, from street art to audio art. What a delightful way to give these old tracks a new life, serving the community. To top it all off, we strolled through the old Nabisco factory, now known as the Chelsea Market. Re-purposing at its finest!
Several times a year, I attend conferences and trainings for my own development. No boss tells me where to go, since I am an entrepreneur, so I get to choose freely. Whenever I attend a conference or training, I have 5 intentions in mind:
I want to be inspired by the presenters, the attendees, the environment. I choose places, where I want to go, conference subjects that are interesting to me and people that are interested in having an impact.
I want to learn something new that is useful to me. Attending the Infusionsoft Success Tour in San Francisco, proved highly useful, since I learned about specific tools and useful tidbits. Did you know that the average user will spend a mere 8 seconds on a landing page? It sparked thoughts as to how to change my website home page.
Who am I attracted to speaking with at a conference? I am conscious of welcoming strangers, since I am a stranger myself. I picture lots of magnets in a room. Some pull me in and others push me away.
When talking with people, I listen for who I can connect them to. What connection might I be able to offer them that they would find useful?
5) Follow up
Returning home, I enter information about people I connected with in my database and connect with everyone I met. I ask permission to stay in touch and do do on a regular basis.
What is your blueprint to conference success?