Friday, May 15, 2009

Building Your Morale

In order to join the Down and Out Club you have to nominate yourself and second the motion.
Elbert Hubbard (19th Century philosopher)

How long does it take for someone to pinpoint your morale level whether low, medium or high? Answer: 3 to 5 seconds maximum! This analyst of your morale level can be a customer, co-worker, family member or someone you’ve just met. But who’s responsible for your morale level? It’s the person now reading this sentence. Yep! It’s an inside job. It’s you and no other.

So here are a few tips that will really raise your morale level even if it’s high now. It always can be higher.

1. One of the greatest morale builders available is to have a feeling of accomplishment on a daily basis. Flying supersonic fighters at almost twice the speed of sound, I eagerly signed up for numerous survival courses. If I ever ejected and landed in the wild I wanted to stay alive until someone found me even if it was a few days. In every course they drove this point home. If you don’t have a feeling of accomplishment, even in some small way, on a daily basis your morale will be your biggest problem. The same applies to the business world. Remember a few blogs back when I talked about “butt snappers?”

2. Lay out a priority list of problems to be solved. In the Ozarks where I was raised, we said, “If you’ve got a frog to swallow, don’t look at it too long. If you’ve got more than one to swallow, swallow the biggest one first!” Also, they taste better fresh.

3. Find and talk to high morale achievers. They’ll be glad to know you admire them for their morale level and accomplishments. You’ll be inspired by the challenges they’ve overcome and the ones they’re currently working on.

4. Don’t inflate “mole hills into mountains” and stay away from those who do. Some can do that inflation by noon. Some can do it by 10:00 AM! Don’t walk away from negative people. Run! Back home we said it this way: “Don’t let the chickens roost over the well!!" that’ll ruin your drinkin’ water."

5. Have a confidant outside your industry with whom you can talk things over. Often in a friendly conversation with such a person, you explain, in simple terms, what challenge you’re experiencing at work. By reducing it to simple terms, don’t be surprised if that’s when you come up with the perfect answer.

6. Avoid physical and mental fatigue. Go for an occasional get-a-way, or a long walk in a park. Develop a hobby. This is when your mind and body refresh and you feel your morale elevate.

7. Laugh often and loud. Andrew Carnegie said, “I’ve found there is little success where there is little laughter.” Put a different way by humorist Fred Allen who said, “If you suppress laughter it goes to your hips and spreads.” I recommend that if you have had a bad day rent a very funny movie. Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite movie, which was not one he directed, was “Smokey and the Bandit.” I highly recommend it, too. A real knee slapper!

Please feel free to pass this along to others.

Higher up and farther on! The best is yet to be!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Goal Achievement vs. Shrinking Focus

George Foreman, former heavyweight boxing champion, and I were having lunch prior to doing a program for a group. Sitting there talking to him, I looked at his nose and thought, here's a guy who understands pain. I asked him how he stood the pain to become heavyweight boxing champion?

His answer is something we can all use. He said, "If I see what I want real good in my mind, I don't notice any pain in getting it."

WOW! Keep that in your mind as your read today's thought.

The best is yet to be, Danny

“What do you have planned for the next six months? How do you think you did over the last six months? What are you doing right now?”
(Walt Disney’s three questions to those who reported to him.)

To reach your goals, you have to avoid what I call “wildebeest thinking.” Some time ago, I had the pleasure of taking an early morning hot-air balloon flight over the Serengetti Plain in Africa with world-class adventurer, John Goddard. The scene was beautiful; you could see the elephants, the lions, and the great waves of wildebeest storming across the plain. “It’s a good thing there are so many of them,” mused our African guide, who had noticed me staring at the huge migration of wildebeest. “Otherwise, that species would die out in a hurry.”

I asked him what he meant. He smiled and pointed to a wildebeest that had stopped in its tracks. “You’ll notice that the wildebeest never run for very long. That’s not because they’ve just realized something important and want to stop and think about it. And it’s not because they’re tired. It’s because they’re so unfocused that they forget why they started running in the first place. They see a predator, they realize they’re supposed to run away, and they start moving in the opposite direction. But they lose the focus on what inspired them to run, sometimes at the most inopportune moments. I’ve seen them stop running right next to a predator; sometimes they’ll walk right up to one, as though they weren’t really sure whether this is the same animal that frightened them a few minutes ago. They almost seem to be saying, ‘Hey, Mr. Lion, are you hungry? Care for some lunch?’ If there weren’t a whole lot of wildebeest, I think the whole species would get gobbled up in a matter of weeks.”

It was easy to laugh at the wildebeest while I was on the balloon flight, but before it was over, I found myself with the funny feeling that I’d seen that same kind of problem in the business world.

There are a lot of people whose regular behavior reminds you of the wildebeest. They get a great idea, they commit themselves to a goal, and they run with that goal for a day or maybe for only a half a day. Maybe they just walk around, gingerly, for 15 minutes or so. After those 15 minutes of ambling around, they realize they haven’t gotten to where they said they wanted to get. Then they say to themselves, “Hmmm. This is going to be tough; it isn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be.” And they stop dead in their tracks.

So keep moving. Stay focused. Hang in there!

Point to Ponder: “No one has ever reached a vague goal.” Rick Warren

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The No Limits Story of Mary Lawrence

Mary Lawrence was no stranger to tragedy. For five years after her husband’s death she wandered through life with no real direction. Then late one night, a driver ran a stop sign and what had been two cars was a mass of twisted rubble.

When one of the paramedics found her broken body, he said, “Get the others. This one’s gone.” But she wasn’t and her spirit was uninjured. On the way back to town, an amazed medic had discovered she had a pulse! At the hospital the doctor said she wouldn’t live through the night. She did.

She spent the next year in the hospital. Her teeth and facial bones wired together. Later they performed fifteen root canals. They explained they had to do two facial reconstruction surgeries where no anesthesia could be used. Her response! “Let’s get started.”

A year later, she was released. Her doctor told her to go home and “take it easy.” You don’t say that to “No Limits” people unless you get out of the way first!

When she went shopping, her face still swollen, she would see people she knew were friends. She couldn’t remember their names because of the permanent brain damage. They didn’t recognize her and turned their heads rather than look at her. She said that really hurt.

Her memory was so bad she concentrated on each word of a sentence so she wouldn’t forget what she had said at the beginning. She discovered that getting a California real estate license was very difficult because of the memory work. Typically, she said that’s what she’d do.

She would read each page of that thick real estate manual fifty to sixty times until it was engrained. She passed the full day test the first time!

Mary went to work for one broker who terminated her after a month because she was slow in memorizing the inventory. At the second company, it was the same scenario.

An hour after the second termination my phone rang. This very determined voice said, “I’m Mary Lawrence and I want to work for you.”

She was in our three-week training program a few days later. After she graduated I placed her in one of my offices. WOW! Her sales were incredible.

A year later at our annual banquet I announced from the stage her name as one of our ten Outstanding First Year Salespeople. She came up on the stage. As I handed her the plaque, she leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Save me a place. I’ll be back up here next year.” As I watched her walk away, I thought, she means that.

The very next morning Mary bought a long pink dress to wear one year later. She hung it up in the very center of her closet to remind herself daily of her goal.

The next year I stood on that Grand Ballroom stage of the Disneyland Hotel. I told this story that she had finally told me only a month before. At the end of this triumphant story I announced that she was #1 out of our 700 salespeople in listings taken, listings sold, sales and gross commission. “Ladies and gentlemen, Mary Lawrence.”

The band played “The Impossible Dream” as that no limits champion floated across the dance floor in that long pink dress. A standing ovation!!! Not a dry eye in the audience. As I handed her that big #1 trophy she again leaned over and whispered to me, “I told you I’d be back.”

Adversity sometimes strips a person only to discover the person.
And that person is a no limits person.

There are no Limits! The best is yet to be!


Friday, May 1, 2009

In Depth Problem Solving

If a problem has no solution, it is not a problem but a fact of life like any other. If a problem has a solution, it is not a problem either. The problem is the strength of will and determination to adopt the solution.
–– Richard Needham

In depth problem solving is the opposite of using a “band aid” solution. It’s a “band aid” if you think, “This problem is back to haunt me again. Maybe if I try what I’ve done before, I’ll be lucky and it won’t come back.” (It will come back).

For an in depth solution you have to whole-heartedly commit to a “once and for all” commitment to its solution. If you don’t do this you have the illusion that the problem if growing by the second! You forget you’ve solved bigger problems in the past.

When I was a district manager for a large sales company, I would have one of my salespeople (or managers) pop in and say, “Danny, I’ve got a major problem I need to talk to you about.” This was really an invitation for me to solve it for them.

After listening to their description of the problem, my first question to them was “Is this the biggest problem you’ve ever had to solve? “ The response generally was, “Oh, no! It’s nothing compared to that one.” My response was, “Then why don’t you put the current one in that perspective?” This is when their eyes rolled back along with a backward head snap.

As they turned to walk away with determination, I gave the person a final shot of motivation by saying “a high performer like you ought to be able to handle a little problem like that.”

After doing that a few times, I’d have salespeople walk up to tell me about a current problem, stop in mid-description, pause and say, “I know––a high performer like me ought to be able to handle a little problem like that.” They’d laugh and walk away to shoot down another problem. My plan to keep “the monkey on their back” worked.

So to peel back the layers of a problem and solve it in depth ask the “Five Whys.”

1. Why am I having this problem?
“The customer is upset.”
2. Why is she upset?
“She doesn’t understand our new product.”
3. Why doesn’t she understand?
“She says I didn’t spend enough time explaining it to her.”
4. Why didn’t I?
“I had too many customers to see that day.”
5. Why?
“I’m not disciplined enough in my time planning.”

So hang in there! It’s always too soon to quit!