When You Choose Unconditional Happiness, You Win

joy

For me, fall means hunting. Earlier this month I went on a great trip to Kentucky with my father, and I’m just flying back from another hunting trip in Calgary with the boys. These trips are all about savoring the fresh air, living simply for a week, mastermind with other business owners, and building on already great friendships. I also use these trips to dive back into some of my favorite books and use the quiet of the forest to do deep spiritual work – meditating, thinking, and just being.

This year, I reread two powerful books by Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul, and The Surrender Experiment. Now, I read these books years ago and they really changed my perspective and brought a deeper awareness to myself and my world. But that’s the funny thing about books. The message changes based on where you are at in your life’s journey. This time around, the message profoundly impacted me, and I want to share a little with you about what I learned, specifically about unconditional happiness.

Unconditional happiness sounds like a lofty (and unattainable) goal on the surface. But would you believe me if I told you that it really all comes down to a choice? You have the ability to choose happiness. But you must make the choice. The kicker is that there can’t be any conditions or preferences attached to that choice. For example, unconditional happiness means you choose to be happy despite the loss of a loved one or even if you don’t get that raise you were hoping for. If you truly choose to be happy, from the depths of your being, then you must remain seated in that happiness and never close your heart, regardless what events (sometimes downright shitty events) are happening around you. Those are not you. You can remain separate from those events. If you make the choice.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you become an emotionless robot. You will still feel all the feels – sadness, anger, jealousy, joy, etc., but you won’t allow yourself to become that emotion. YOU are watching and experiencing the world. That’s the key. Experience it. Don’t become it. Think about this… the same person that looked in the mirror when you were 5 or 6, is the same person that looks in the mirror now. Whoa. You are the same you. You took on a new physical form and gained more experiences (which, after all is the purpose of life), but again, you are still you.

Let’s talk about that voice in your head for a minute. You know the one. The one that anxiously runs through a list of to-dos in the shower every morning. The one that repeats past conversations with colleagues to try to determine where the miscommunication happened. The one that sees a baby at the grocery store and starts on an internal debate about whether you should have children in this world. Everyone has that voice. But if you can hear it, then it’s a subject/object relationship. Just like when you look at a few objects on a table. You are also “watching” and listening to the voice. In order to see the object, you must not be the object. Therefore, you are not your thoughts.

Then why does it talk so damn much! Because you’ve asked it to. The voice in your mind is simply narrating the world around you based on your preferences and preconceived ideas of what will make you happy. If it senses something unpleasant, it immediately gets to work rationalizing, talking you off the ledge, or categorizing the things around you to make you feel safe. The voice is trying to make sense of everything you see and then control it. You like someone’s car and your mind starts telling you how you can go get one for yourself. You don’t like what someone says? Your mind tells you that that person is an idiot and they don’t know what they are talking about. You don’t like that someone is more fit than you? You mind tells you why they can be fit and you can’t and ultimately leads you down a path of why you are better than them anyway. These are all events. You’ll only be happy, truly happy, when you let go and understand that nothing in the external world will give you what you’re looking for.

You are not your thoughts. Don’t get lost in the conversation in your head. Get lost in the moment by never choosing to close your heart. Ultimately, what will give you what you are looking for is the spiritual work through life’s experiences, struggles, and remaining seated behind your thoughts in that subject/object relationship, what Singer called, “witness consciousness.”

This does not happen overnight. You will slip up. I practice this daily and I’m not even close to realizing witness consciousness. But what I have noticed so far is that true happiness, unconditional happiness, comes from deep spiritual work. And what does that mean? Well, deep spiritual work to me is about overcoming struggles and challenges and serving others, regardless of my expectations of how life “should” be. No one is entitled to anything in this life. Control? That’s a frickin’ illusion. There is nothing in this world that is really within our control… except for choosing happiness. Unconditional happiness is the like the love of your child. No matter what they do, you would never stop loving them. You may not like what they did or agree with them, but man, you’ll never stop loving them at the core of who they are. How come we don’t do that for ourselves and choose to just be happy.

Choosing unconditional happiness has benefits in the business world too. When you choose unconditional happiness you see things much clearer, without the cloud of preferences and conditions. The flow of life just happens much easier. Or, I should say, you are able to accept the flow of life much easier. Things show up exactly when you need them to – people, money, deals, etc. Everything becomes easier because you are not resisting life. You are not closing your heart. You aren’t your problems. You effortlessly solve them.

Having an awareness of the voice (and the subject/object relationship), is the first step to staying centered. Watch the voice talking to you. Realize you are not the voice. You are the one who watches the melodrama of the voice playing out, but it won’t affect you or your happiness. Eventually, you (the you that you have always been) will fad back behind this voice into bliss.

We are not here to get something from life. We are simply here to experience life as it unfolds for us. We are spinning around on a small piece of dirt in the middle of a galaxy. You think you can control your life? Think again. Let go and stay open. Choose to enjoy the experiences of life (without judgement) and enjoy what life provides you. When you choose unconditional happiness, you win.

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Falling Back in Time and Moving Ahead with Technology

time

Daylight Savings Time means moving the clocks back a hour and getting a jump on the day. Yes, I know, it also means getting an extra hour of sleep. But if you really want to change your life. Now is the time. All those months you said you were going to get up at 5am, but keep hitting your snooze until 6am? Daylight Savings Time just solved that problem for you. All you need to do is lean into the change and get your butt out of bed!

Now, I’m in Kentucky right now, hunting with my Dad, and I already get up at 3:45am, so no extra daylight for me. And since, I live in Northern Vermont, it will now get dark around noon. I kid. Kind of. Whether I’ve got daylight or not, I’ve got work today. We may have fallen back in time, but time waits for no one and big changes are here. You can either let them pass you by or you can grab on and take advantage of both the time change (create a new habit!) and the industry changes (reinvent yourself!) that are happening right now. Your choice.

It’s not news that the real estate industry was due for some disruption. The industry as a whole hasn’t changed in several decades since MLS (the multiple listing service) went from paper binders to the internet. Now, technology is again shifting how real estate agents do their job and how consumers buy and sell homes. It’s an exciting time to be in the business because the opportunities are pretty much endless.

One big change is what real estate agents will look like in the next couple of years. I believe that agents will no longer be able to rest on their laurels, built upon a strong market. Real estate agents will become fiduciaries. Consumers, now more than ever, will place extreme confidence and trust in their agent and look to them for help and advice while navigating all of the various buying and selling options available, along with the financial implications involved in each.

Recently, I wrote an article for Inman News on a hot real estate topic, iBuyer platforms. That article goes more in depth about the fiduciary responsibility of real estate agents and the impact on the consumer and industry as a whole. Check out that article here and drop your thoughts in the comments.

Time and technology are both fluid. It’s how you harness them both and use them to your advantage that will ultimately dictate your success.

 

 

What Are You Most Afraid Of?

fear

Halloween is a big deal for kids, well, at least for my kids. They’ve been debating since summer ended and school began what they would be. A witch? A princess? A firefighter? A fairy, a frog, a fisherman? Or perhaps Elsa, Dorothy, or Hercules? The struggle is real. After much debate, I’ve now got Peppa the Pig, Black Panther, and a fallen angel running around my house. It’s kind of funny how much time and effort kids (and for that matter, adults) put into imagining, planning, and creating who they are going to be for one night out of the year. What if we put that much time and effort into thinking about who we want to become as a person?

halloween 2018I know, I know, let’s shift gears before I ruin the Halloween fun and get too philosophical on you. Halloween is about tricks and treats, the suspension of reality, and scaring the pants of your friends and family. In small doses, of course, while you’re still in control. That physical, primal feeling of being terrified is not something that many people experience in life. Experiences are what drive us. And since we no longer live in the days of tigers and warring families, we don’t often feel that primal fear. Many enter into it willingly around Halloween through haunted houses or simulate that primal fear through scary movies. Now, psychological fear on the other hand. That, us mere mortals, have on lock. The fear that you won’t be able to give your children everything they want, the fear of public speaking, the fear of quitting your job and staring your own business, or the fear of being judged. While not life-threatening, those fears are just as real and can cause a visceral response, not to mention a whole lot of worry, stress, and anxiety.

A few months ago, I asked my team a simple, yet powerful question: What are you most afraid of? Many of our real estate team CEOs and leadership team members took several days to respond. As they should. It might be a simple question, but it’s not a simple answer. Sure, on the surface level, they thought of things quickly, like being afraid of snakes or heights, but that wasn’t really what the question was about. This is not a water-skiing kind of question, but rather a deep, scuba-dive into your subconscious. It’s there that those fears live and it’s there that many of your limiting beliefs live, where your self-sabotaging behavior thrives, and where your decisions stem from. It’s time to shed some light on those fears and free them from the darkness. Only then can you actually make progress.

Here are a few examples of the responses I got:

  • Fear of rejection.
  • I’m afraid of not achieving balance – between work, home life, and fitness. I could work all day long every day and be perfectly fine… but I have to remember to budget in time for other things as well that are going to make me more productive in the long term.
  • That my children will not live long, healthy, and happy lives.
  • Fear of complacency.
  • Fear of thinking bigger. I have a hard time seeing myself as a successful professional woman, even though I built a thriving real estate business on my own and make more than my husband makes in a year.
  • Fear that I won’t find or figure out my purpose/meaning in life.
  • I am afraid of not failing fast, failing often , and failing forward so that I
    can build a big business and live the biggest life possible that I
    and my family deserves.
  • Not making a big enough difference in the world – at home, in my relationships, at work, in life in general (not providing value or being seen as someone who provides value or “mattering”).
  • I am afraid that I won’t live up to my potential.

What about you? What are you most afraid of?

Here’s the thing, it can be pretty scary just to think about this question and to be completely honest with yourself about what you fear. Chances are, whatever that fear is has been dictating your actions and holding you back from what you truly want for years. But the beauty of this question is that once you name that fear, then you can get to work overcoming it. After all, the problem named is the problem solved. You can’t move past your fears without confronting the. Figure out your fear and then learn to dance with it.

Here are a few examples of my fears and the dance steps I use to push through:

  1. Fear of Failure – Every time I step out of my comfort zone, fear of failure jumps up and says hello. This fear manifests when I take a risk with money, with a business, or putting myself in a situation where I risk embarrassment.
    Dance Steps – When the fear of failure rises up, I stop and ask myself, “Will I regret NOT doing this?” If the answer, is yes, I go for it. I have a huge red sign in my office that says, “No Limits. No Regrets,” as a constant reminder to live life without limits.
  2. Fear of Mediocrity – For the first 15 years of my life I lived someone’s else life – a life I was told was how it was supposed to be. I have a burning desire to never go back to that level of consciousness and never want to put limits on my life.
    Dance Steps – If you are not growing, you’re dying. Every day I strive to have as many experiences as possible. I don’t have to be the best at everything, but I have to know that I have done my best. Each day I journal and reflect on whether or not I could do better in all areas of my life.
  3. Fear of Losing Talent – I fear everyone just walking out of my organization.
    Dance Steps – I work on my leadership and personal development daily so I can be the best leader possible and stay one step ahead of my team and organization. I always push to find ways to train, excite, challenge, and grow the people in my organization. If I am providing as much value to them as humanly possible, they will never want to leave.

Once you’ve named your fear, then how do you counter-act it? What is a daily habit you can implement into your life to dance with your fear? Look, your fear may never completely go away, but learning how to deal with it, move past it, and not let it rule your life is critical to success. When you all fear to turn into courage, you grow. Learn to use fear to fuel your fire!

 

 

 

 

How to Go For Checkmate in Your Business

chess

I’m packing up to head to Austin for a few days to participate in the Keller Williams Agent Labs with our team and it got me thinking about the last time I was in the Lone Star State a couple of weeks ago. Gary Keller reminded us that the most of us in business are playing for check, instead of going for checkmate.

Okay, I’m not going to pretend I’m any kind of chess connoisseur, but I do know enough about the game to draw some parallels to business. Check is good, it clears out some of the competition and it gets you closer to your goal. Checkmate is better. It means you’ve gone deep (not wide), you’ve dominated the market share in whatever industry you are in, and there is no way for the competition to escape. The goal is always checkmate. Here’s how you get there:

  • MASTER YOUR LEADERSHIP – As a business owner, leadership is your craft, it’s your competitive edge. You’ve got to practice and master your leadership skills to win the game. You must become a leader who can inspire loyalty and action. Someone who can quickly analyze the entire game board, sees 12 moves ahead, and takes decision action and calculated risks. The only way to get yourself and your team to checkmate is to start with you.
  • PLAY THE LONG GAME – The longest tournament chess game ever played was in 1980 and lasted over 24 hours. 24 hours for a game of chess! While we’re talking hours here for chess, when it comes to your business it’s all relative. Hours become weeks become years. When you plan to dominate your industry, there is no Fool’s Mate here. It’s a long-term play and one you must prepare for. You’ll have to master the boredom of daily activities. You’ll have to grind year after year, fail, grind, fail again, grind some more, and then finally begin to see the fruits of your labor. But when you fall in love with the game, you’ll be able to withstand the loses. Don’t give up on your goals and dreams, just because they seem to be taking too long. If you are clear on what you want and why, it doesn’t matter how long it takes. It’s not about winning every battle but winning the war.
  • PRACTICE YOUR EMOTIONAL FITNESS – Playing the long game isn’t easy, which is why practicing your emotional and mental fitness is so key. Do you have a daily routine in place to that incorporates exercise, journaling, prayer, meditation, and/or affirmations? What are you doing to center yourself and prime yourself for the day ahead? It’s your daily mental and emotional warm-up. As the leader of multiple organizations, I no longer get to hear the good stuff. The only things that come across my desk are challenges or problems to solve. I’ve got to be ready. If you are able to get right with your priorities and with yourself every day before the sun comes up, you’ll be able to handle anything that comes your way throughout the day. 
  • REMOVE DISTRACTIONS – Do you know what you are after? In chess, the King is the ultimate goal, the North Star. What is your target? Are you removing roadblocks for yourself and your team in order to get there? The biggest roadblock is some sort of distraction disguised as a friendly co-worker or promising new CRM sales pitch. But you don’t have time for that! Delete or delegate all distractions. Get clear on your goals and then stay laser focused. You’ll need to call upon your leadership skills and your emotional fitness in order to stay focused long-term, but that’s how you achieve checkmate in business.
  • PLAY OFFENSE – When you’re going for checkmate in business, you’ve got to go all in. When you think that you are doing all you can do, you’ve got to put in 10%-15% more time, energy, money, or resources. There is always more to give and there is always another move. Don’t fall short of the finish line. Go hard. Push ahead. Do not back down. Never give up.
  • STAY HUNGRY – When your back against the wall, that’s when you have to go on the offensive. You have to tap into your primal instincts of survival, dig deep, and stay the course. A lion runs the fastest when it’s hungry. Use your hunger for success to your advantage. Do not rest on your laurels or become complacent (even with success!). There is always more you can do to build a company and to build your legacy.

Too often, we play the game, make a few good moves, achieve some success and then get distracted and before we know it, we’ve moved from chess, to Jenga, to Monopoly, without mastering or winning any of them. So, take your time. Understand your vision. Line up your pieces. Know what each piece is capable of. Develop a strategy (and be willing to adjust on the fly). Stay committed. Stay hungry. And go for checkmate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Set Goals That You Will Actually Achieve and Exceed

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As we enter the fourth quarter, business planning and goal setting is in full effect. Which means the goals I’m seeing are ambitious (perhaps even outrageous, even by my standards). You probably never thought you’d hear me say your goal is too big. Well, it might be. But let me explain.

As I talked about a couple of months ago on my blog, goals are cheap. The new goal is execution. Everyone has a goal, some big, some small. But it’s not really about the goal. It’s about being able to close the gap between where you are now and what you want to achieve.

First, we need to stop throwing around short term goals that are completely unrealistic. We see this a lot in the real estate industry. Let’s say a team has a goal of doing 150 transactions a year. That’s a solid business. Yet we’re in October, and the team still has 80 transactions to close in order to hit their goal. That is going from about 7-8 transactions a month to 26-27 deals a month. That’s a short term goal just kind of being thrown out there without any real plan for execution. How do you plan to close the gap from 7 to 27 transactions in the next 30 days? Are you willing to change your activities that much to get you to that goal? It’s a massive gap to bridge, so you would need to take massive action to get there. What are you going to do differently?

Here’s another example. Historically, if your team is doing about 15 transactions a month at it’s highest month and then you throw out the goal of doing 40 deals, that’s great. It just can’t be the following month. The vision is to eventually get to 40 transactions and to hold the line, but for the next 30 days, just focus on getting to 20 transactions. Close the gap with your team, one mini-goal, one mini-victory, at a time.

Most people go about it all wrong. They throw out this massive goal and then wonder why they don’t hit it or their team doesn’t hit it within the [unrealistic] time frame given to complete the task. One of my employees often throws out a goal of losing 50 pounds in the next couple of months. That’s a noble goal and one I certainly support. But let’s start small in order to go big. Let’s work on the first 10 pounds, and then we’ll work on the next 10 pounds. A goal as big [and again, perhaps unrealistic] of losing 50 pounds in three months is so unfathomable that your brain instantly dismisses it and therefore you don’t even do the activities necessary to get there. You’ve failed before you’ve even begun.

Now, here are a couple of examples about how you do go about setting goals:

  • Earlier this year, one of our company’s was rolling out it’s new technology app and they new it would take some time to get the 150,000+ agents and associates to adopt it. And believe me, this company thinks big! But they did not set out with the goal of getting 100% adoption on day one. Yes, that was the end goal. But the first month they weren’t looking for 100% participation. Instead, they broke it down into something they could actually achieve and measure. It looked something like this: First, they challenged the regions to get to 10% adoption in the first 60 days of the launch. Everyone rallied around that achievable goal. From there, the company set a 20% participation goal, then 40%, then 50%, then 70%, slowly, slowly closing the gap. It’s been a year-long process, but we are finally close to a 100% adoption rate that would have been dismissed (and therefore not achieved) if they had originally set that as a short-term goal.
  • If you run a solid 30 minute 5K and your coach told you that the following month you were going to run a 15 minute 5K you would instantly dismiss it. It sounds cool and may have got you excited for a minute, but it’s literally not going to happen. But what if they said, let’s bring your 5K down to 27 minutes. You could instantly begin working on closing that gap and feel the results. Then the following month, you would tackle a 25 minute 5K, and so on (maybe even a year later!), until you reached your ultimately goal of a sub-15 minute 5K.
  • Recently, a recruiter on my team was struggling to set 10 appointments a week. He was having limiting beliefs with how much time he had, market saturation, systems, you name it. The previous week he had only set 3 appointments. I said, “Get me to 5 appointments this week. Forget 10, get me to 5. Can you hit 5? What does your calendar need to look like to get to 5?” Guess what? He hit 6 appointments. The following week, I asked for 7 appointments. He had a successful week, but we didn’t just jump to 10. We set incremental goals and he had incremental gains.

Long term – dream as big as you can! Short term – make it something people can achieve and celebrate. And make sure you are committed to your short term goal and that you are willing to do the activities necessary to close the gap. That’s what separates people. Anyone can throw out a big goal and make it sound sexy, but whether or not you can grind through and execute on your goal is the real test. It’s not going to be easy. It means you will have to rearrange you day, say no to distractions, and drastically change your habits. 

The only way you are going to close the gap on huge, seemingly impossible goals, is to start executing on small ones. You and your team need to feel like they can actually achieve their long term goal. By creating small victories you create massive momentum and before you know it, that big, long-term vision is now a reality. And then it’s time to set another big goal to execute on.

 

Productivity is Out. Impact is In.

one drop

We all have the same number of hours in a day. 24. No more. No less. So, why do some people accomplish so much more than others? What’s their secret? You know those people. The ones who appear to be productivity geniuses, who seem to have been gifted the “get shit done” gene from a higher power? Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, they are not really that special. Which means, what they do, you can do too. No excuses.

Where these people have pulled away from the pack, though, is by learning to look at their work with a critical eye. They aren’t spending hours making a laundry list of tasks that need to be checked off one by one in no real order. They know what the most important things are that need to be done and they have no qualms about slashing anything that doesn’t help them hit their goals or assigning a task to someone who is better equipped to handle it. No ego. Only results.

At the end of the day, it’s not really about productivity, it’s about effectiveness and impact.

Productivity is defined by Dictionary.com as “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.”

“Productivity” means nothing unless the goods and services are the right ones with the most amount of impact. Who cares who gets the job done or how long it takes? It’s about how much impact and value is created through the completion of an action item.

So, how do you harness this power? These “productivity geniuses” ask themselves a series of important questions that help them manage their time and manage their work. There are two great tools to use to maximize your impact.

The first, is from the book Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz, called the Trash, Transfer, & Trim Method.

  1. TRASH – Do you have something on your to-do list that just doesn’t need to be there? Maybe it’s a project that no longer fulfills the mission of your organization or an obligatory phone call or email that is three months overdue. Perhaps it is yet another birthday party for a second cousin’s third nephew. It’s choosing what to say not to, so you can say yes to the most important items. Saying no to drinks after work is probably going to through off your morning routine, so don’t do it. If it’s not necessary for the goals of the business, your life, or your family, trash it.
  2. TRANSFER – The first question I ask myself when a new idea or project crosses my desk, is, “Who can do it?” I do not immediately assign the project or task to myself. In fact, that’s my last resort. If there is someone better equipped to handle a task (and there probably is), transfer it.
  3. TRIM – If the project or task is something that you absolutely must be involved it. Limit your time. Do you have to be in a content brainstorming meeting? Keep it at 20 minutes max. Do you have to attend a speaker series? Request to speak first, pack a punch with your 15 minute presentation, and slip out the back door. If you must be involved, trim it.

The Trash, Transfer, Trim Method is an effective way to focus your efforts on only the most important tasks to maximize your time, while continuing to impact your organization and your overall life goals. A similar model can be seen in The One Thing Focus Chart.

  1. DELETE – This goes for emails, relationships, and social obligations. Delete from your calendar and life anything that is not serving your greater purpose in life or business. Just delete it.
  2. DELEGATE – This is the same concept as Transfer. If the project or task is important to the business, it doesn’t mean it needs to be done by you. Delegate the project to the appropriate member of your team and then hold them accountable to the result. Just delegate it.
  3. DO – If you determine the task needs to be done by you, first ask yourself if it needs to be done right now or if it can wait. If it is going to take longer than five minutes and isn’t a fire that needs to be put out, make sure you block time to complete the project. If it must be done by you, delay until your one thing (top 20% of your job) is done. And then just do it.

focus chart

 

These methods of organizing work is not just for busines owners or leaders. Everyone in your organization needs to master these methods in order to achieve more individually and to achieve more together. Teach these methods to your team, help them implement these habits, encourage them to execute, and watch your company grow.

What can you delete or trash from your business and life? What do you need to delegate or transfer? What does that leave you with to do? Can you trim that down even more? Time block what’s left and focus on the impact on your organization.

Lessons From the 30 Hour National Championship Adventure Race

map 1

I just landed back in Vermont after spending the past three days in Indiana competing with my team Chaffing the Dream (shout out to Tom and Amanda Martin!) at the USARA Adventure Race National Championship. I’ve got three words for you: brutal and exhausting. I thought Ironman races were tough (and they are). But this is on a whole other level. On the flight home I processed everything my mind and body had gone through over the previous 30 hours. There were a lot of thoughts and emotions going on between naps over the Midwest and Northeast this afternoon…

The night before the race, my teammates, Tom and Amanda, and I laid out our supplies, strategized, eliminated items, checked our gear, and packed up for the 30 hour race ahead. A quick note – the goal of these adventure races and orienteering is to navigate the terrain, while hitting as many check-points as possible (which are often hidden and about the size of a plate), within the 30 hour time limit. For every minute you go over the 30 hour mark, you get one check-point deducted. The team with the most check-points in the least amount of time, wins.

To put it into a little context for you, only six teams cleared the entire course in the allotted time. Many teams pulled out early due to exhaustion or minor injuries. There was a lot of vomiting. Two people ended up in the hospital from physical overload. One person got bit by a snake (I appreciate that person for taking one for the team! I hate snakes). And regardless of what terrain you’re navigating, each three person team (co-ed) must remain within 10 meters or so of each other at all times, which means every team member must be able to keep up physically and mentally.

Fast forward to Friday morning, it’s 6:30am and the doors to the race open. We rush inside to grab our 4 foot by 4 foot map. We have 30 minutes before the race starts to strategically determine our route for the next 30 hours of our trip. At 7am, the gun goes off and the clock starts. We quickly pull up Google Earth, looking at elevation, trails and the thickness of vegetation as we map out our route. Eighteen minutes into mapping out our route, Amanda lets us know that we have just a few minutes to get to the starting line. We decide our initial route and then cut the map into sections so we can read the map easier when we are navigating that particular section.

Minutes before the gun, Amanda asked Tom if he had grabbed the “punch”, which is about the only thing that matters that you must have in order to punch each check point. Sure enough, we had forgotten it and had to sprint to the hotel, get it, and just made it back within seconds of the gun going off.

LESSONNo matter how prepared you are, shit’s going to happen. When it does, execute on what you can and focus on the result. Problems and challenges are going to show up; there is no escaping them especially if you are building a business or want big things in your life. The best thing you can do is master your mindset and create habits that build your emotional fitness so that you can handle said shit, anytime, anyplace. Oh yeah, and just embrace the suck. 

We have to carry all of our supplies with us for the next 30 hours, which includes:

  • A dry bag full of warm clothes
  • Cliff Bars, caffeinated Cliff Blocks, gels, dried mango, nuts, peanut butter crackers, gummy bears and Milky Ways (which by the way, taste amazing at 3am!)
  • 3 liters of water
  • 2 water bottles (filled with Gatorade)
  • Head lamps
  • Bike lights
  • Extra tires
  • Space blanket
  • Sealed phone (no GPS, watches, or phones allowed!)
  • Compass
  • Maps

That doesn’t include all the gear on our bodies. I’m dressed like I’m going into combat – Tri shorts, tights, ankle gators, gators, heart rate chest strap, gloves, light hat, t-shirt, and long sleeve shirt.

LESSONDon’t bring a knife to a gun fight. Have the right tools, and right equipment for the job at hand. It took weeks of preparation, but we were fully prepared for the journey ahead. How many of us are doing this with our business? Do we have the right tools, the right systems and models in place to build a platform of success? It took us weeks just to prep the right gear for a 30 hour race! When was the last time you did an inventory of your business “gear”? Is it time to eliminate or upgrade?

There is no prescribed route. Each team can take any route they want, via any means available (bike, running, canoeing, hiking) to get to the check points. When the gun went off, we sprint a little less than a mile, straight to the canoes, carrying all of our gear. At that point in the race, we’re leading the pack, and make it to the canoes first. Everyone started off in the canoes and headed to Transition Area 1 which was about a 12-14 mile paddle. There was a very dense fog and we were only able to see about 30-40 feet in front of us. Needless to say, navigating that type of distance in severe fog was extremely challenging, even with a compass and map. We took a short cut early on in the race. Instead of paddling around a peninsula, we decided to hit the bottom part, get out, carry the canoe, and drop in on the other side. We managed to get the canoe to the other side of the peninsula and just as we were about to put it back in the water, Tom fell into the lake up to his chest. Yup, we had a soaking wet team member within the first 20 minutes of the race. And this wasn’t some warm Caribbean water! We rebounded quickly and were off, until we realized we were actually paddling in a river, instead of hitting the main part of the lake.

LESSONYou’re going to make mistakes. Probably a lot of them. It’s about how quickly you can respond to your mistakes and, maybe more importantly, how, you respond to your mistakes that you will be remembered for. 

Once we realized we were not in the lake, we first had to figure out exactly where we were. Once we did that, we recalibrated and paddled out of the river, traveling south instead of north. That was a little unsettling knowing we were going in the opposite direction from where we needed to be, but we had to get out from where we were. We were able to get caught back up and paddled hard to check point one.

LESSONYou can never make any real forward progress unless to take stock of exactly where you are. If you’re not clear on that, it makes it incredibly difficult to take your next step, to make your next decision.

From there, we attacked our first check points in classic execution mode. We had tons of energy and were running from check point to check point, knocking them off our list one by one. We nailed that section and made up some great time – only about 25 minutes behind first place. We then paddled for what seemed like three days to an island that contained more check points. Once we (finally!) made it to the island, we executed. What I mean here by execution is that we did not make any navigation mistakes, and we controlled our fueling, hydration, and mental state. We dominated the island and then got back into the canoe for another long paddle. We ended up taking another short cut by pulling/dragging our canoe about half a mile over an old logging road before making it to Transition Area 2. At that point, I never wanted to see water or another boat in my life!

But even though we were surrounded by water, about 8 hours into the race, we were dying  of thirst and had already run out of water. I refused to drink pond water – that was one risk, I was not willing to take! We had bleach drops and UV lights to purify our water, but that takes time. So we pushed on and eventually found a camp site and some campers who had two 24-packs of water. They gave us two bottles each, which we gulped down in seconds.

LESSONWhen you are put into a situation where you have to survive, it’s amazing what you are capable of and how resourceful you can get. And yes, that does include asking someone else for help. It’s amazing how nice and generous people are in this world. I think we sometimes forget that people generally want to help their fellow man. 

I got a break from the water when we hopped on the bikes and began a 5-6 hour trek over a series of single track gravel roads, logging roads, and a few paved roads. On the gravel and paved roads I was able to hook Amanda up to my bike and pull her behind me in order to keep all of our members together and moving quickly between check points. I also created a draft zone for Tom to follow. While I am a stronger cyclist than Tom and Amanda, they are much better navigators and pushed me on the trekking, hiking, and running. Tom was the Captain of our team and kept us on track with the map and plotting check points in certain areas and Amanda did an amazing job questioning decisions, routes, and searching for other alternatives. Amanda also kept track of our step count. When you’re looking for a check point the size of a plate in the middle of the woods in the pitch black, knowing the number of steps from the last known location is critical and she executed flawlessly.

LESSONTeam work, folks. Sometimes in life we need to hook onto each other and draft to get ahead. Everyone has a unique gift or a zone of genius. Find it and unlock it in your employees and let them shine. When you have the right people in the right seats on the bus, its awesome to see how each team member will execute for the common company goal.

We were ripping up the course until we came into the hardest section called The Dog Bone, where you had to hit each check point in a particular order. If you went to 21A, you must hit 21B next and so on for eight check points, or a total of 16 punches. You might hit 21A and then have to travel over a mile through streams, up and over hills, just to get to 21B, then a half a mile back in the opposite direction just to hit the next check point and continue. We started this section at 9pm, left The Dog Bone, and were still missing two checkpoints at around 6am. Yup, that’s a long time to be orienteering.  At the furthest point in the section, we were completely lost and it took hours to figure out where we were. When you’re lost you start to move very, very slowly and question everything. You get frustrated and start to lose time and lose confidence in your process, your decision making skills, and in yourself. Going back to known points and starting over and learning from our mistakes helped us reset, recalibrate, and move forward. Did we overshoot? Did we drift left or right? What bearing did we miss?

LESSONWhen you get lost, go back to the place you know. Where you are certain. In business, you’re going to have failures and feel lost many times over the course of your career. Go back to the basics and back to what you know works, and start rebuilding from there. But you must keep going. 

At this point, it was like 3am or 4am in the morning, we were lost, cold, hungry, tired, and just mentally drained. We knew we had limited time left. We made a decision to leave the course, leaving two check points behind, with the goal of clearing the rest of the course. If we had stayed to get two more, we would have potentially missed six check points that were easier to get to. We knew that it was time to move on, so we did.

LESSONThere is always another option in life. Execute on the option that is going to have the biggest impact on your overall goal. Once you chose that option and commit, execute. 

Two hours later, around 6am, we were back on our bikes. Getting back on the bike in the middle of the night after being awake, running, biking, and paddling for 24 hours with a pack on is, well, literally a pain in the ass. We biked for another three hours or so, then got into our canoes, paddling back close to the finish line to clear out the last section and picked up four more check points. We got back and had trouble finding check point 1 and we knew we only had 1.5 hours left. The clock was ticking. We started to feel like we were going to miss the deadline, but then I did what no man has done before… I asked for directions. I decided to ask another racing group for help (totally legal) and they were happy to help, which sparked our energy and we used that motivation to pick up the last three check points.

LESSONIt’s okay to ask for help (or directions)! It just might be the boost or break or clarity or fresh perspective you need to get further faster. 

We finished the last check point with 20 minutes to go and sprinted (albeit a 10 minute mile sprint at this point) back to the finish line, crossing it with just under 10 minutes to spare! Boom. Done.

As brutal as those 30 hours were, they went by fast. In such a relatively short period of time, we had great moments and bad moments along the way. All we could do was embrace the suck and know the pain would end. But you can’t rush the pain, it’s an experience like any other to be enjoyed (yes, even the damn canoe).

 

 

Simplicity is the New Sexy

fall

Yesterday was the first day of Fall and just like that, a new season is upon us. Cooler weather, costumes, corn mazes, and pumpkin spice everything. When the air grows colder and we start to shift from one season to another, I can’t help but reflect on what season I’m in in my life and the paradigm shift that has been happening around the world for the past ten years or so.

Gone are the days of overindulgence, material goods, and more, more, more. It’s no longer about how much you have, but how much you do. It’s not about how much you can get, but how much you can give. In this day and age, less actually is more.

Simplicity is the new sexy. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have nice things and to have the means to have your needs taken care of and to provide for your family. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about when you’ve established a baseline of financial success (whatever that means to you), taking pleasure in the little things – apple picking with your kids or date night with your wife – is what it is all about.

This really goes beyond money. I’m talking about everything from your every day life to your career to your business. Stop and think for a minute about how you might be overcomplicating your life. Are you trying to build three businesses, get in the best shape of your life, plan a wedding, take care of your parents, host a weekly poker night, and be home from the office every night by 6pm? Sounds pretty damn complicated (and unrealistic) to me. What can you stop doing? What can you say no to? What (or who) can you eliminate from your life to scale back and slow down, so that you can actually move forward faster?

A big part of simplicity is saying no. It’s about saying no to all the demands on your time and energy so you can yes to the one or two things that actually matter. This is just as true in business as it is in your personal life. You know that so many of the things you say yes to are stressing you out way more than they should because they are making your life too complicated. Slim it down and scale it back. Drop the second car, the boat that you only use two times a year, the nine outfits that you put on your credit card but that you never wear, the seven birthday parties you have to buy gifts for when your family just really wants to go on a hike. You can say no to all of those pressures and obligations. I’m giving you permission, right now. Just keep it simple and you will be able to enjoy life more. I promise!

I’m in a season of simplicity in my life and it has given me more focus, more clarity, and more success than ever before. I’m gearing up to move towards the end of the year and it is actually a pretty smooth process for me and my family (yes, even with three kids!). Why? Because we don’t have a lot of stuff to move! For us, moving into a new home is an adventure. On the business end of things, several years ago, I had eight companies. I have since shifted and focused and now have five thriving organizations, each with a clear mission and vision. The old adage – keep it simple, stupid, couldn’t be more true. But don’t confuse simple with easy. Keeping it simple can be damn hard. Simple simply means uncomplicated and comprised of a single element. Simple means you have a singular focus. Simple means you are not distracted by shiny objects, greener pastures, and keeping up with the Joneses. Simplicity is sexy because it means you are living your truth.

This next generation and the next several decades will not be characterized by mega-mansions, a garage-full of cars, or a closet full of designer shoes. We are seeing people down-sizing their homes (even hopping from one Airbnb to the next), consolidating or selling off their worldly possessions, and packing up their family to live abroad, travel, experience life, and learn. Technology is enabling us to live a more mobile life. The definition of establishing your roots is shifting. Roots are not about a place, but about experiences and relationships. Having fewer things holding you down allows you the freedom to roam and live. Simplicity equals freedom. And what is more sexy than that?

Do you live the simple life? How could creating more simplicity in your life create more freedom?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond the Resume – How to Bring the Best Candidates Into Your Company

people interview

Earlier this week I taught one of my favorite courses, Career Visioning. Career Visioning is designed to help business owners identify and hire talent using a proven model and system. It’s more than just reviewing a resume. It’s about understanding the right behavioral match, diving deep into a candidate’s track record of success, and truly understanding what makes a candidate tick.

I’ve taken this class a handful of times and taught it over a dozen times more over the past two years. Every time I learn something new or some portion of the class is exactly what I needed to hear that week or month. That’s why we tell people they must take this course over and over again. It’s not simply about mastering the material, but understanding how to use it and what it means for you in various stages of your business. You’re only going to absorb and use what information you need at the time. So, if you and your business are growing, then six months from now, you’re going to need a new piece of this course to implement and help you and your business grow.

This time around, one piece really stood out to me. The difference between a hiring manager, a recruiter and a career consultant. Here’s what Career Visioning tells us:

  • Hiring Manager – Offers a salary to engage a person’s services
  • Recruiters – Enrolls or enlists people to their organization through persuasion
  • Career Visioning Consultants – Gets into business with talent by demonstrating value

Now, there is certainly a place for each of these types of individuals in an organization, especially as they grow and become more complex. Hiring often fills short term needs and recruiting can fill both short terms needs and help you build a bench of talent for the future. However, at the end of the day, the best way to find the right talent is by acting as a career consultant. You always have the right candidate, you just may not have the right position for them right now or even have the right opportunity at your organization. Helping a candidate make the next best move in their career, whether that is at your company or somewhere else, is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. And if you happen to career vision that talented candidate into your organization, even better.

When acting as a career consultant you are focused on adding value to every single person you take through your hiring process. It is not just about you and your company’s immediate needs. It’s a process that focuses on the opportunities you can create together, now or in the future. Resumes only tell part of the story. You need more than a piece of paper to determine whether or not a candidate is going to be the right fit for your organization and whether your organization is the right fit for them.

Our talent acquisition processes involves several stakeholders and over 10 steps including a screening interview, behavior and personality assessment, life story, and group interview. One of the most important components of our process to determine whether or not a candidate is the best fit for our company is the Life Story.

By the time we get to the Life Story interview, we’ve already spent several hours with our candidates. Remember, we want our candidates to interview us, just as much as we are interviewing them, and above all else, we are consultants. Our focus is helping candidates identify their next career move. The Life Story gives us tremendous insight and helps us achieve this goal. The Life Story is designed to go beyond what the candidate has done in order to discover why and how they did it, as well as what they learned from those experiences. Another key part of the Life Story is to identify the candidates trajectory based on the information they share. Then it is your goal to hire people on a huge trajectory who are still trending upwards. Hire them. Then hold on! 

When conducting a Life Story you usually get a flip chart and position that in front of the candidate so they can see all the notes that you are writing. It’s a collaborative experience. You want the candidate to be in it with you. The Life Story dives deep into the resume and beyond to encompass their complete professional biography starting with the last time the candidate was in school and moving forward. The goal is to identify the defining moments in the candidate’s life and go deep into what the event was, what happened, and what they learned. This is really where patterns of behavior and thinking begin to emerge. With each event, we discuss what the highs and the lows of that experience were. As the career consultant, you are taking notes and writing down what the candidate says – noting their exact words here (as much as possible) is important. Do certain words keep coming up over and over again? Pay attention. A great way to end the Life Story and wrap up the conversation is to thank them for their candor and ask them what title they would give to their professional biography.

The Life Story helps you dive deep and determine if the opportunity you have now (or one in the future) is going to be the next best step for the candidate. We have taken many great candidates through our Career Visioning processes and consulted them onto other career paths (even though we would have liked to bring them into our world!). But that is the entire point of this process. Staying neutral, staying in curiosity, and providing value to the candidates so that they can make the right move for them. If that happens to be with you company – great! And if not, you’ve still done your duty as a career consultant.

Whatever hiring and interviewing process you use, it’s important to use models and tools that take you beyond the resume. The resume is a great place to start, but it rarely, if ever tells the whole story. How do you determine if a candidate is the right fit for your company?

Interested in learning more about Career Visioning and the entire Leverage Series? Email us and find out when and where we are teaching next!