Three things I did to pay off my third rental property

As of this writing I have written well over a thousand articles on a wide range of topics.  A topic that I haven’t written about is real estate.  And it is probably one of my favorite topics on the planet.

I bought my first rental property in 2006 at the age of 26.  It was a duplex that I owned up until I moved to Florida in 2015.

My attraction to real estate started when I was young and it is something I have loved ever since.

As of this writing I own five single family residences.  Four of the five are paid off. Two of the five are condos that I paid cash for when I bought them, so I never had mortgages on them.

Over the years I have listened to many so called experts.  I say so called experts, because I am sure they are all successful in whatever they have done and accumulated.  However, they all had different processes they used to get there.

Some of them used a lot of debt to have success, some used minimal debt, and some used no debt to accumulate the wealth and experiences they have in the area of real estate.

I have always been a fence rider on the topic of debt when it comes to real estate.  I innately hate debt. When I became debt free other than the mortgages I had on rental properties and the house I lived in.  I said I would never have debt again.  And I haven’t.

The topic of debt in real estate is something I go back and forth on though.  I am not sure I have a clear opinion one way or the other on it as of today. However, I did make a commitment to myself that I would pay off the other three houses that I did have mortgages on though.

This morning I looked in my journal to see when I made the goal to get the third rental property paid off. The first date I wrote in this journal is 10/19/2018.  Today is 7/1/20.  I assume it may have been in there before.  However, lets just assume that was the first date I wrote that goal down.

On 1/31/2020 we paid off the third mortgage. Since then we have paid off a fourth and could pay off the fifth, but I am having that whole internal discussion on whether to pay it off or use the money we have saved to buy more.  This is another topic for another day.

How did we pay off that third mortgage?  What did we do?

  1. I wrote the goal down everyday:  As I mentioned, I can look in my journal and tell you when I started writing that goal down.  I wrote it down for close to two years almost everyday, until I accomplished the goal. This one thing is first for a reason.  To achieve what it is you want to achieve you have to remind yourself daily that this is what you want to achieve.
  2. Everything extra went towards it. As I mentioned I struggle in the area of whether to have debt or leverage debt when it comes to real estate.  There is one person who is clear on this topic though.  That is Dave Ramsey.    He is a firm believer in no debt on anything.  He has a proven method for people to get out of debt and has helped millions of people do it. One of the things he talks about is the snowball effect.

    The snowball effect is if you take a ball of snow and you roll it down ahill.  As it makes it way down the hill it gets bigger and bigger as it accumulates more snow around it.

    Also, the momentum of the snowball picks up as it makes it way down the hill.  He uses this method when it comes to paying off debt.  Which is to take all extra money and apply it to your smallest debt and pay it off first. He believes, and he is right, that the momentum that a person creates when they are able to pay off something quickly provides them the momentum they need to keep them going to pay off other debts.

    I used this method for paying off this mortgage.  I took all extra money we made and applied it to this mortgage.  It allowed us to pay it off in seven years from the time we took the loan out.

  3. Stay committed no matter what: From the time I made this commitment until we accomplished it, a lot had changed.  I started two different companies, we moved twice, and my income was wildly unpredictable.  During these kind of times most people throw their goals out the door and say they will come back to them when things are more secure. I did not.  I stayed committed.  I kept committing to that goal everyday.

I am a novice when it comes to real estate investing  However, it is something I am committed to and will continue to get better at.  My hope is you find this information to be helpful in your journey.

To your success and your future.

 

5 reasons I have to get back to writing again

Wow!  It has been almost two years since I posted a blog on this site.  I did write a lot on another site I own for about a year, but I haven’t technically done any writing for the last nine months or so.

So what compelled me to pick it back up?

I felt like that I had lost some of the really good habits and emotions that created opportunities for me in my life when I was writing before. So here I am making a commitment to myself to start doing it again.  Writing provided a lot of different things in my life, but here are a few of those things along with my opinion on why I want to get back to writing.

  1. Consistency: If you know me, you would probably say that I am very consistent in most of the things I do.  Whether it be exercising, working, or emotionally.  I am a consistent person.  But to me working and exercising are those things that I really do enjoy, but at the end of the day, I have to do them.  Yes.  I have to do them.Writing on the other hand is not a “have to do”.  My livelihood will not be in jeopardy if I don’t do it, like it would be if I didn’t work.  Or my health is not at risk, if I don’t write. Writing is truly extra.  Nothing bad will happen to me if I don’t do it.  However, that is the reason I choose to do it. It forces me do something that I don’t have to do. Forcing yourself to do things you don’t have to do is a muscle that needs to be worked.  And frankly I am not very good at writing, but I love the benefits of it.
  2. Thinking:  Writing forces me to think.  Thinking isn’t something most people spend enough time doing.  Most of us are too busy doing things to think.  Whether it is working, spending time with friends and family, or watching sports or Netflix.  I have found myself the last nine months just doing and not thinking as much as I should.  I want to force myself back in to thinking more and that is what happens when I write.
  3. Clarity: My mentor told me that putting things on paper, written or typed.  Is the best way to crystallize our thoughts and to make things more clear.  Over the last nine months and really the last couple of years, I have continued to journal daily, but it has gotten shorter and shorter.  I am not spending enough time doing it.  I feel like I need clarity more in my life than ever before and writing helps me have that.
  4. Audio/Video: The world is now audio and video dominant.  Everything is consumed in these two formats.  And I have bought right in to it as well.  I have gotten in the habit of watching videos to get my news, to get additional training on a subject, to be entertained, you name it.  Video is everywhere and I consume it as much as the next person.Audio is the same way.  I am always listening to a podcast, a book, an interview, etc.  These are great mediums to get the full context of someones words and they are great when you are trying to do two things at once.  Like working out, driving, and working.  Personally, I have started to rely on these too much for my information, education, and entertainment.
  5. Focus (attention span): My attention span sucks right now.  Seriously.  It is a weakness.  I can’t even read an entire article on something I would be interested in reading.  I skim through it and sometimes I will scroll down to see how long the article is, and if it is too long, I will bail out on it altogether.  Even though I am interested in it.Writing forces me to focus.  It requires focus.  Look, I am not a great writer.  If you have read this far, you probably have cringed at my grammar, sentence structure, my misspellings that spell check didn’t pick up, etc.  But for me to get this far, (679 words) I had to really focus. Because it is really hard for me to put together what I have put together.I believe focus (attention span) is a muscle.  Like all muscles if it isn’t worked and exercised over time it becomes weaker and weaker.  This is what has happened to me.  I haven’t worked the muscle enough and I have lost, frankly, a lot of my ability to focus on the things I need to focus on.

Focus, clarity, thinking, and consistency are all great habits to have.  When you are at your best you are implementing them all to have success.

Today’s society, and life in general has taken some of the gains I made in these areas that provided me a lot of success in my past, away from me.  I have to get what I lost back and build even more on them so I can get to the next level of success.   Writing allows me to work the muscles in each of the areas I mentioned in the post.

To your success and your future.

How I set a goal to find my wife.

I talk to lots of people all of the time that tell me they are just not getting what they want in their life.  It could be a certain career, better children, more money, investments, relationships, health and fitness, etc.  You name it and I have heard it. I have been there myself many times.

About five years ago, I was one of those people who said I need to find a partner/woman who I want to spend the rest of my life with.  Someone who is aligned with the way I think, we want the same things in life, business, and everything else.

I challenged myself with this question:  “Am I the person, the person I am looking for is looking for?”

That is a big question isn’t it?  It required me to take a deep look at everything I was doing in my life at the time.  It challenged me to ask myself what do I need to change to find the person that I want in my life.

At the time I was thinking about this ideal person and ideal wife.  I had been in a long-term relationship off and on that was just never going to go anywhere.  We have all had one of those relationships.  There is nothing wrong with you, and as much as you may agree or disagree, there wasn’t anything wrong with the other person.

If the relationship you are in or was in, is just really jacked up, than shame on you.  Don’t be stupid.  But most of the time, relationships aren’t that jacked up.  If it is, get the heck out of it.  Mine wasn’t. It was just two people who had fun together, but were on two different pages in life and other things.

So I asked myself the question “Am I the person the person I am looking for, is looking for?”  I then got out of the current situation that I was in.  Then the next step was to put together a list of what it was that I wanted in a person.

This is the process for all change to occur in our life.  This is the process to setting goals, changing behaviors, and getting what you want out of life. You ask yourself the questions.

Where am I?  Is this where I want to be?  If the answer is no.  You get out of that situation, if it is a situation that you have to get out of it to move things forward.

And then you ask yourself the final question before you get to work finding it.  Which is “What do I want?”

I asked myself “What do I want?”  I am not going to give you my full list here, but if you have attended one of my workshops or seminars, then you have heard the list, or you can attend and get the list.

But here are a couple of things:

  • Goal Oriented
  • Doesn’t blame others for their problems
  • No Kids
  • Career Minded
  • No debt or very little debt
  • Certain income level
  • A good heart
  • Spiritual

I got even more specific in my list creation than what I have shared here, but you get the point.  You could say black hair, no hair, height, weight, etc.  Its your damn list and your life.  Put whatever list you want.  Whatever you do, don’t ever settle for less. Settle for more.

Now you can’t find out all of this stuff on one date or two dates, it takes some time. But here is the deal though.  If you actually go through the process of creating a list and doing the work in advance of what it is you want and don’t want, then you will know it when you see it.  That is the value of the list.

If you haven’t found the person you want yet, it is because you don’t know what you are looking for.  That is how goals work.  You have to set them in advance, because that is how you will know when you see the opportunity or in this case, the person, when you see it.

My wife sometimes reads my stuff and sometimes doesn’t have the time, so just in case she reads this.  My guess is she will since her title is in the subject line.  I am going to make sure I add this.

I got everything on my list and then some.  I settled for more.  She is amazing and beautiful and I definitely won.

I want you to win as well. I challenge you to go through this process.  Visualize the person you want, make the list, and then you will find it.  Until you do this you will never get what you want or deserve.

To your success and your future.

 

 

 

Bring on the criticism. I need it and so do you.

Are you open to criticism?  If you are like most people, the answer would be no. You might say you are, but who really likes it?

We all need to criticism in our life to have success. Without it, we wouldn’t know what is resonating or not resonating with people. We wouldn’t know what works or doesn’t work.  We wouldn’t know how to adapt and evolve.

Nothing of value in life, and especially the first versions of something, are never that good.  They are only as good as they can be, based on what we know at that time.  What version of iPhone are you currently using?  What version of your Android phone are you currently using?  Well, if you are using an Android, I am sorry.  But I have an iPhone 7 that is running I think, version 11.1 ios.

In Silicon Valley, where a lot of software, social media channels, and other technologies that many of us use on a daily basis is created.  They have a philosophy they live by.  That is, they want to get the software, the social media channel, etc. to a point where they can release it to the market as quickly as possible.

They know the sooner they get it to the market, the quicker they can get feedback on it and start to make the necessary changes to make the product even better. They know when they release the product that it isn’t finished.  But they also know that as soon as they do, they will get the critiques they need to make the tweaks, and make more tweaks, to continue to evolve the product and make it better.

So I come back my question at the beginning.  Do you like criticism?  Or do you do everything you can to avoid it?  If you aren’t getting criticized, the chances are you are going with the flow. And let’s be honest, the flow is usually not that great. The flow usually has status quo ideas, with stagnant bank accounts, and stagnant careers, and stagnant family lives, and the flow wouldn’t be able to identify an opportunity if it hit them.

I know if you are reading my blog, then this is not you.  You want to have more in all aspects of your life.  You are willing to go against the crowd regardless of what every one else is saying. You are willing to state your opinion, even when it is opposite of the masses.  You are willing to do the hard things to get the things you want and your family wants.

If you are in leadership and you are afraid of criticism, then my guess is your team is today where you were yesterday and last year.  And most likely they will be at the same point a year from now. When you start to do things different and push new initiatives you are going to get criticism.

Here is the one thing I have learned in my life.  I have not, and am not currently, getting enough criticism in all areas of my life.  I am not stepping outside of my own comfort zone enough, which means I am not stepping out of the comfort zones of everyone that I know enough.

Whether we want to admit it or not. We are and become the people who we spend the most time with.  If you are overweight and don’t live a healthy lifestyle.  Then there is a 99% chance that the people you spend most of your time with are the same way.  If the people you spend 99% of your time with are in debt and are constantly negative, then the chances are very likely that you are in debt and constantly negative as well.

One of my mentor says this.  When you start doing something different from everyone else.  The first thing they do is laugh at you.  The second thing they will do is criticize you. Then the last thing they will do is admire you.  You cant skip to the third thing first.  You have to go through the first two steps.

Are you willing to do that?  I am.

To your success and your future.

 

 

A $50,000 dollar risk, and what I learned from it.

“No risk equals no reward”. It is cliché to say the least, but clichés are clichés because they are accurate. This cliché is definitely true.

Throughout my life I have never achieved any kind of benefit, at least, a significant benefit that was worthwhile and beneficial, without taking some risk that included money, time, effort, energy, etc.

Two years ago, I started preparing for the next stage in my career.  When I say two years ago, I mean it was go time. I had been preparing myself for several years prior to that time, but now it was leap time.

At the time, I thought I knew what that next stage was it was and what it looked like.  I had been preparing myself for years for this next stage.  I invested the resources to enhance my current skills.  I made it a priority to seek out and develop new skills. I put in the work and time that was required to ensure I was ready to take the leap into this next phase.

Secondly, I also made sure that my personal finances and life in general was in order. I  didn’t want any financial concerns or constraints to prevent me from making this leap.  Nor did I want to make the leap and fall flat, because I didn’t have things in order.

So with everything in order, it was go time.  I did it.  I knew it would be hard, I knew there would be hardships.  I knew that in the short run, that things wouldn’t be the same as they were before.

I was used to living off of a six figure plus salary.  I was used to spending freely and doing what I want.  I was used to not thinking too much about how and where I spent every single dollar.  I had enough disposable income that money wasn’t a constant concern.

I took the leap, and now that I am on the other side of it.  I can tell you exactly how much it cost me.  I can tell you exactly how much less I had to spend this year, versus the previous ten years. I took a $50,000 dollar risk.

As I planned the leap I didn’t know what the cost would be.  Actually, I thought it wouldn’t have been that much.  Well, honestly, I didn’t know what it would cost.  You know why?  Because I had never been here before.  I had never taken a this leap before. I had never taken this risk.  It was all new.

Monetarily I know what the cost was this year.  It is easy to see.  What isn’t as obvious is the growth that I had this year.  The things I learned that I would have never known if I hadn’t taken the leap.  The things I learned about me and what I like and don’t like. My true strengths and some of my weaknesses.  What is best for me, and what is not good for me.  How business works and doesn’t work.  I learned about people.  You can’t put a dollar figure on any of these things.

Most of us never venture out far enough to actually see how far we can go. We instead have to play it safe, because we are afraid or because of our lifestyle, we have to stay close to the dock, and never really swim out far enough to realize we can swim as far out as our mind will take us.

As you wrap up 2017, let me ask you:  Would you be willing to take a $50,000 risk for your growth and development?  Or maybe a better question is this:  Can you even do it?

The second question is probably the more important one.  Have you put yourself in a position to know what you are truly capable of.  Or have you been doing the same things for so long and getting the same results, that you can’t even begin to fathom what it would be like to do something else.

Are your debts and obligations such, that you have to keep doing what you have always done? Again, I know what this looks like, I did it for many years before I learned that I had to prepare myself today for the future I want tomorrow.

If you want to learn more about how I did this, and how you can do it.  Reach out to me and lets talk.  We all need a little coaching in our life. Someone to hold us accountable and help us get to a place where we have never been before.  Are you willing to take a risk?

To your success and your future.

 

 

They are watching…what do you want them to see?

“I quit!”…”It has been six weeks since I quit chewing tobacco.”  This is what one of my participants recently told me in one of my leadership training sessions.   We were in week seven of a twelve-week leadership course.

As a trainer one of the most important things I do is create an environment where people are excited about learning the material I am teaching.  I can do this a variety of different ways.   It is done through how I open sessions, the relevance of the material, the examples I use, the facilitation of them applying the concepts taught, how I close sessions, transition sessions from one to another, and most importantly, creating a connection between the material and how they can use it to get better results than they have been getting.

When training is done well, the participants learn something new because they see how it can help them do their job better. More importantly than that to me is, when they see how they can apply what they have learned to make a better life for themselves.

In a twelve week training course, where we spend 3.5 hours together once a week for twelves weeks, we cover a lot of concepts and techniques that can make the participants a better communicator, a better leader, how they can reduce conflict in their life, and a lot of other things as well.  In addition, we will cover how to become a more disciplined person in all areas of our life.

The value of a training environment is it provides a place where you can go and focus, even if it is only for a few hours.  This focused time is more time than most people find to focus on doing just about everything in their life.  It allows time to reflect on the concepts we are teaching, but it also allows time to reflect on other areas of life and how to make changes in those areas.

When this participant shared with me that they made a decision to quit chewing tobacco, something they have done their entire lives, I was really proud of him.   He said, that when we were setting goals for the course, he decided that this was a goal that he should pursue as well.

Keep in mind, I am not teaching people how to set goals on how to quit bad habits.  However, when training is done well, people will see a connection between what is being taught and how they can apply it to other areas of their life. And that is what he did.

Maybe he was already thinking about quitting anyway.  Maybe he was fed up with the costs financially and health wise, from this bad habit.  Regardless of what it was that compelled him to quit doing it.  He made it happen.

What is even more profound is that after a few weeks of him quitting.  He noticed that several people on his team quit doing it as well. And he has a very large team of a hundred people or so, on an off shift.

Think about this for a minute.  If you are around hundreds of people, for fifty and sixty hours a week in a high stress environment.  Do you think after years of doing this, that the team, and the people part of the team, will have similar habits?  Absolutely. We are all products of our environment.  My mentor told me that I will become the average of the five people I spend the most time with. 

When this leader made the decision to quit chewing tobacco, his team noticed it. A leader is being watched at all times.  You set the stage.  If you are a mess, your team will be a mess.  If you are an ass, the chances are your team will have those tendencies as well. When he decided to quit chewing tobacco, those on his team that chewed, said that they can quit as well.

This is a great example of why leadership is not for everyone.  As a leader you have a big responsibility.  I make the connection with parenting.  More is caught, than taught.  Subordinates are watching what you do and how you do it.  Kids are watching their parents and what they do.  What do you want them to see?

To your success and your future.

The day everything became clear to me…

Recently, I have had some conversations with several of my good friends and some of my clients about life, work, family, etc.  These are all highly successful people in their careers and in their life.  They have their finances in order and live a very good life.

However, a theme that I noticed that kept popping up with them and with me, is “What do I want to do and be when I grow up?”

Sure, they and I have nice careers, but we are all thinking to ourselves what is the next thing?  Does it mean that we aren’t happy doing what we are currently doing?  I would say no. Because they all love what they do and they are really good at it and so am I.

Is it that the job doesn’t pay enough?  I mean, I think all of us would always like to make more money, but we are all satisfied (I say that loosely) with the amount of money we are making.

Is it that they hate their bosses?  Their company?  No.  Because most of them have worked for their current employer for many years.  So what is it?

I don’t have the answer to the question, but I do have some opinions.

Since I know each of these people and myself, the first thing is we all have reached a pretty high level of success in our current career choices.  Whatever this level is varies for each of us, but nonetheless success has been reached.

I think that high performing individuals like all of us, and probably you to.  We are just wired to constantly think about what does the future hold and what does the next steps look like for me.  What can I do next.  Especially if you have had some level of success financially or career growth wise.

What do we do with this constant pursuit of what is next?  For some this can be an all-consuming burden that takes it toll on our health and causes undue stress.  Believe me, I have lived it personally through my own career at times.   I am currently going through that right now personally.

My wife and I are asking ourselves what do we want to do and where do we want to do it? Are the decisions we made over a year ago the ones we want to live with in the near future?Or is there a different path for us?

A year ago we packed ourselves up and moved over 1000 miles to a place neither one of us have ever lived.  We didn’t know anybody in the community.  We don’t have any connections in the community. We knew absolutely nothing about this place.

Here we are a year later with a lot of questions about our future. But what is clear to me and what is clear to my wife.  Is that we can do whatever we want.  We have done it.  We have made ourselves uncomfortable.  We have pursued the opportunity when we didn’t have all of the answers.  We know we will find a path forward even when one is not as clear as we would like it to be.

When things are not certain and the path is not clear you have to find some absolutes in your life.  Meaning what absolutely must exist in my career, my family, my home, my community, etc.  In all of the major pieces of your life.

What are those things that must be present for you to make a decision. For example: An absolute in our life right now is that wherever we go, my wife must be able to work for her current company. Another absolute is: wherever we live must not experience winter the way we always experienced winter growing up.  Meaning very little or no snow.

Now, that I got you thinking some.  Come up with your absolute list. Here is the challenge. Don’t be so narrow in your list that you rule out everything possible.

If you are thinking about switching companies.  What must exist at that new company.  What are the absolutes that must exist before you would ever switch companies.  If it is a new career what are the absolutes that must exist in this new career.

I am not saying that creating this list will solve all of your problems, but once you decide on the things that must be absolutely present in your future, it makes it a little bit easier to decide how to go forward.  It also allows you to decide what not to do and pursue when those absolutes don’t exist.

And then lastly, the key is to take action. Make a decision and go.  Will it be right?  I hope so.  But if it is not. You will figure it out and decide what you need to do next. And so will I…

To your success and your future.

The 6 most important fundamentals great leaders demonstrate

Many people talk about the characteristics that leaders must have to be considered great leaders.  Words such as vision, character, empathy, charisma, outgoing, sympathetic, fair, ability to communicate, persuasive, etc. are just some the words most people use. I agree that all of these are important.  But there are things that leaders must do that are even more important.

Most of the lists people have created describe what leaders must be.  Meaning they must possess these characteristics and skills to be a great leader.  What I am describing in this article is what leaders must do.  There is a big GAP in what people do and what they say they do.

This list provides leaders a great outline on how to lead in todays workforce and get people to buy in to their vision.  Vision, charisma, persuasive, and all of the other traits are important, but doing these six things are more important.

Time:  Time is the one of our most precious commodities.  No matter who you are and what you do, you don’t have any more than anyone else.  And in this hyper busy and noisy world, it seems like we all have less of it than ever before. So when a leader spends some of their time with the people they lead, it demonstrates and communicates to the person or persons, that they are important enough that the leader is willing to take some of their precious time and spend some of it with them.

I know spending time with the people seems like a simple thing to do.   However, as I work with leaders around the country, I find that most leaders are spending less time with their team. Instead they are going from meeting to meeting, running reports, and putting out fires and not actually spending enough time with the people they lead.

If you want to become a better leader and get engagement from your team, you have to make time for the people on your team.  This must be a priority.

Recognition: Being recognized is probably one of the most inherent qualities that we as humans have.  We love to stand out or be pointed out in a crowd as someone who is doing something different.  I have worked with thousands of individuals in my training sessions and I have yet to find a person that says they don’t like to be recognized.  Great leaders find ways to recognize employees in everyday interactions.

Appreciation: Being a trainer for many years now, one of my favorite sessions in my training classes is something we do called “strength centered comments”. A strength centered comment is where the people in the training recognize each other for the strengths they have observed while they have been in the training together. Most of the training I do is spending a day with a group, many days with a group, or many sessions with a group.  The group has the opportunity to spend a lot of time with the other participants in the training.  At the end of the training, they have to get in to group of three-five and write out strengths they have witnessed in the other participants in their group throughout the training.

The way it sounds is like this “Laura, one of the strengths I have observed and appreciate about you, is your willingness to ask very thought-provoking questions.  This tells me that you are really listening to the other person and really care about what they are saying.  I watched you do this throughout the training in all of the interactions you have been a part of.

Everyone loves this session in my training courses. Leaders have the opportunity to do this every single day.  They can show appreciation for their teams strengths daily, and good leaders do this consistently.

Forgiveness: You and I both have done things that we wanted forgiveness for. It is just a part of life.  If you aren’t doing things that require forgiveness from time to time, then the chances are you aren’t taking any risks, especially in the work environment. Forgiveness is something that we all want when we do something that we shouldn’t have done.  It may not have been maliciously done, but it was done nonetheless.  And we as humans want affirmation that the person impacted by whatever we did, has forgiven us and put it to the past.

In leadership, you want employees taking risks, you want employees pushing the boundaries to ensure success.  You don’t want them to do anything that is unethical, illegal, or unmoral, however, you do want them to be creative and look for new ways to solve problems that impact business.

If a person feels like a leader is resenting them or holding a grudge on a decision they made.  This creates animosity and lack of engagement on the part of the employee. A leader must communicate to this person that it wasn’t a big deal, that is was okay, and it is in the past.  Now I know this seems like an easy thing to do, and it may be a little overstated.  However, I have been the person that needed forgiveness and affirmation from a leader that what I did was in the past and it wasn’t impacting any thing going forward.  We all seek this in our personal lives, so leaders must also give this to people in the business environment.

Attention:  Spending time with someone is very important, but when you spend that time with someone giving them your full attention and being fully present is just as important. They way you show that you are fully attentive and present is by engaging with the individual to show that you are hearing what they want you to hear. Leaders today may be willing to give some time to their team, but they may not be fully attentive.  Great leaders clear off the desk and put their phones down and give their employees all of their attention and not part of it.

Credit:  I don’t care who you are and what you say, my experience tells me that all of us want credit for anything and everything that has a positive outcome.  Whether it is an opinion on a football game, a thought on a project, or we guess on the right directions on a road trip, all of us love to get credit for something.  My guess is some of the mostly used words together in the human language are “I told you”, “That is what I said”, or the passive aggressive way to say this is “Didn’t I say that?”.   All of these statements are examples of all of us wanting to get credit for are efforts and being right.

As a leader, especially a good leader, you should be listening more than talking. Which means most of the good ideas that solve problems in your organization are coming from the people on your team. Most of us have had leaders take credit for our ideas.  You know they did.  This is one of the most demoralizing and infuriating things you can do to someone on your team.  If you are a leader, you have to give public credit to people on your team for their contributions.  I would say that you have to go out of your way to ensure the people on your team know that in the board room and in other meetings, that their leader is giving the proper credit.

Here is your challenge:  Write these six words down on a piece of paper. Next to the words also write down the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.  Now circle the number you feel like represents how well you do these six things. 10 being you do it really well. 1 meaning you don’t do it well at all. After you rank yourself in each of these areas. Write down a specific goal you would like to work on accomplishing in this area?

Is it giving more public credit? Is it recognizing people more?  Whatever it is, you have to commit to a goal and then implement ways to accomplish the goal.

To your success and your future.

The sh*t sandwich method leaders use and should stop, use this instead.

If you are like most leaders you are making your way in to work today and there is someone on your team that you need to give some hard feedback to at this very moment.  The chances are you have been delaying it for days at least, probably months, and some of you have been delaying it for years.

Why haven’t you done it yet?  There are a lot of reasons, maybe one of these are yours.

  • Because you are fearful of how they might respond.
  • You don’t want to hurt their feelings.
  • You just never do the hard things.
  • You are afraid that they will quit.
  • You keep telling yourself it really isn’t a big deal, but it keeps happening.
  • You say that they do so many other things well.
  • You are about to get promoted or quit so you are passing the buck.
  • You are waiting for it to resolve itself. (it won’t)
  • You don’t know how.

I am sure there are other reasons as well, but from my experience these are usually the reasons.

If you don’t know how, I am going to give you a process that you can apply today that will make this easy.  Now, unfortunately, courage doesn’t come with the process.  However, if you practice the process enough, overtime you will gain more courage because it will get easier and you will become more comfortable at doing it.

As the title states. A lot of leaders have been taught the shit sandwich approach.  I am not saying it is a horrible process, but it doesn’t always feel right.  This is where you give them some praise for something that they have done.  Then you tell them something that you want them to work on (feedback), and then you give them some more praise on something that they do. From my experience, this process can sometimes water down the feedback you are trying to provide.  I am not saying leaders should stop this altogether, I would just use caution when applying it especially with some of the bigger issues.

Now keep in mind, I don’t want you to only use the process below when you are giving what could be viewed as negative feedback only. You should also use this process, and do it quite frequently, to provide good feedback as well.

I have used this process and others for many years with great results. You can apply it to a subordinate, a peer, a child, etc.  This process has been credited to the Center for Creative Leadership, but everyone has their own spin on it.  You can see the framework below, but I would encourage you to modify it to make it work for you.

The process goes like this:  You want to tell the person about a situation that you recently witnessed that they did something.  I will give you an example here in a minute.  So you remind them of the recent situation.  You then tell them the behavior that you witnessed.  And then lastly, the impact that the behavior had on that situation.  Lastly, ask them their thought on the situation and then ask “what would we do differently the next time we are in that situation.

  • Situation
  • Behavior
  • Impact it has/had
  • What will you do differently next time.

Here is an example:

“Joe in our last meeting I noticed that when Joan was talking you cut her off several times, not allowing her to finish her thoughts on the project. (situation) By cutting her off (behavior) it doesn’t allow her to make her contribution to the project and we want everyones buy in on this project(impact). Did you realize you were doing that Joe?”  Joe responds. “In future meetings lets be sure we get everyones contribution to this project.

Maybe it is something a little more simple as showing up on time.

“Frank I have noticed that about every few days or so you have been coming in later and later to the office. Being late doesn’t allow you to plan accordingly for your day.  This impacts your productivity as well as the teams productivity. ”  I would then ask if something is going on that is causing this.  And then move to resolving the issue and discussing the consequences if this behavior continues.

Look, giving hard feedback is never easy, by using a process it will allow you to give it to them the way they need to hear it.

Apply this process today and let me know how it works for you.

To your success and your future.

 

Why you and I have to quit relying on this one person

The chances are that at some time in your life you had to rely on the approval of one person, one individual, one decision maker that held YOUR fate in their hands.  Is this not the worse feeling in the world?

Lets go way back.  I was not the popular kid.  No, I was the kid that could get a long with just about everyone.  Sure, people naturally gravitated to me in some circles, while in others, I was nothing more than an outsider.   However, the playground is tough and children make it so.  And like every neighborhood, there are always a few kids that are more popular than the rest. Depending on how the wind is blowing any particular day your connection to the rest of the kids can rest on whether or not a very select few other kids want you to be part of the group or not.

I can remember many times, that I went home because I wasn’t chosen or included.  Luckily, as a kid the wind always can blow differently the next day.  So one day you are out, and the next day you are in.  However, there are always a few chosen kids that help decide this.

Then you grow up and you go to work. You are working at the local grocery store, fast-food restaurant, or retail store.  Mine was the fast food restaurant, McDonald’s, and the grocery store.

I was the hard worker, I did the right things, I always showed up early and stayed late.  However, none of that seemed to matter when you really wanted that day off to go to the football game, the concert, or the local state fair.  Nope.  When you asked for that day off, all of your hopes and dreams of seeing that awesome concert, or hanging out with your friends rested on one individual on whether you were going to get to do whatever it is you wanted to do.  Your immediate manager or some general manager of the store.

In many cases, the immediate manager would be a little bitch and say that the general manager said you couldn’t have the day off.  But you know and I know that many times, they were just scared to tell you themselves.

Then we get our first professional job and we think everything is going to be different. We have our credentials and we are now working in a company that values people and values our contributions.

After several years of commitment, dedication and hard work.  We finally have an opportunity to be promoted and make more money.  We know who the people are that will be interviewing us.  We know that we are the right person for the job.

Whether we get the job or we don’t.  We later find out that one person had the power in their hands to either give us the job that we wanted and we felt like we deserved.  Or this same person could crush us with one swoop by giving the job to someone else in our company or on our team.  Or even worse, hire someone from the outside.

All of these stories may be something you have experienced.  If not, I am sure you experienced something similar.  At one time or another, we have all had our fate resting in the hands of one person.

If you are in sales, I am sure the final decision on whether the sale was made or not made.  Or the consulting agreement signed or not signed, came down to one persons signature.

Or if you have ever interviewed for a job with a company.  Which is probably one of the most difficult.  Because many times you don’t even know who that one person is that will  either get you hired or prevent you from being hired.

So you go in blind trying to figure it out.  And in the end you either get the job, and later discover who that person was.  Or if you don’t get the position, you just go on wondering “Who was it” and what could you have done differently during the interview process.

Again, all of these scenarios are the same.  They have one person tied to the final decision. They are the final voice.  They are the make it or break it people.  That can either say “yes” and you get to go to the concert with the hot girl you have tried to take out for the last three years in high school.

If they say yes.  You get to play the game with all of your other friends that day.

They say yes.  And you get the promotion, the sale, the contract.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of relying on one person to control my destiny.  I am sick of one person deciding whether my family gets to go on the vacation, or this year, it is another staycation.

I made the commitment years ago, that I will have freedom.  Freedom from all financial obligations that I don’t control.  Freedom from having to be around idiots.  You know who they are and what I mean.  No explanation is needed.

To get there we have to make the decision today and everyday that we will no longer rely on this one person to control anything in our life.  We will create a life with endless opportunities and possibilities and ultimate freedom and control.

Don’t put your hands in a select few any longer.  Create an abundance of opportunities for yourself and for your family.  You are in control, so take it.

I am committed to it, are you?

To your success and your future.