Fraud Prevention Tip #25: Resolve or Refer Suspicions

Uncertainty Makes The Elephant Anxious (and Gets in the Way of Better! Results) – Better! Results Tip #20

In their wonderful book “Switch: How to Lead Change When Change is Hard” (PLEASE go buy it right now!), brother-authors Chip and Dan Heath put their personal spin on the analogy of a rational rider attempting to lead a huge elephant in a new, unfamiliar but Better! direction. They teach us:

“Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.”

 Ever wonder what makes the elephant nervous and default to comfortable low-results practices? One word: uncertainty.

Baby elephant bathing in the river, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

And that’s true whether it’s a six-ton pachyderm or the tiny elephant in our heads.

Yes, that’s right. We all have an elephant in our heads. The mental elephant is all of the inefficient and ineffective habits we’ve built over the years. The patterns of behavior we don’t even think about. The prejudices and irrational fears. It’s the knee-jerk reaction we have to uncomfortable situations we encounter as part of life – meeting new people, tight deadlines, trying new food, attempting new solutions to old problems, traveling to an unfamiliar location. Even electing a new president we know virtually nothing concrete about. The elephant wants to go with the rest of the herd – its peer group – to what it believes is a safe place even though it may know little about where the leader of the herd is headed.

Again from Switch:

“The Elephant’s hunger for instant gratification is the opposite of the Rider’s strength, which is the ability to think long-term, to plan, to think beyond the moment …”

 To which I respectfully add, “to think beyond the sound bite to research the facts.”

Depressed handsome man sitting in office

These are times of great uncertainty. Politically, economically, even spiritually. People are anxious, nervous and downright scared. Many are angry as well. Angry that they aren’t heard. Frustrated about the daily lies from so-called leaders. Scared of people who are ‘different’ from them with their different languages, backgrounds, religious beliefs, and even different expressions of love.

Result: there are anxious elephants all around us, and we’re all at risk of getting trampled.

So what does the informed, self-aware, loving, giving human who is interested in Better! Results do? (That’s you, by the way.)

You bring calm to emotion-laden situations. Your bring truth based on researched facts to conversations. You allow that uncertainty makes us all nervous, but you embrace the role of leader and help others think Better!, decide Better!, and then act Better!

Above all else, you lead by example. The example of calm, informed, confident action every day.

Do these things, and then look over your shoulder. You’ll be leading the herd of anxious elephants. In a Better! brighter direction.

Fraud Prevention Tip

Manage Your Energy (Because People Can Read It) – Better! Results Tip #19

Charlie let loose with a world-class yawn. Right in the middle of the meeting. And we all saw it.

“What”, he said. “I’m soooo tired.”

Which was apparently soooo true.

Handsome businessman working in the office

But it wasn’t anything new. We all knew Charlie was always tired. We ‘saw’ it every day in his work, his pace, his attention to detail, his suggestions, and especially in meetings when he thought no one was watching.

About 20 years ago, I listened in on an interesting presentation. It was about the ‘energy signature’ we all leave. The lesson of that program was simple: be more aware. People notice.

One of the foundation principles of Better! Results is the conscious elimination of barriers to our success. You know, those little and not so little habits and other things that we put in the path of our progress. And unless we have a medical condition, are working two or more jobs, or are raising one-year-old twins, it’s very possible that we have more control over our energy level and resulting signature than we believe.

So here are a few ideas to lean us all towards Better! Results through Better! Energy.

One, turn off the TV and get an extra 30 to 60 minutes of sleep each night. Such a simple step with extraordinary potential results.

mix fruit and vegetable salad

Two, eat Better! Food is fuel. Bad food, bad fuel. Real food, good fuel. We wouldn’t dream of intentionally putting bad fuel in our $30,000 car. But most of us put bad fuel in our bodies every day. Does that make any sense? It’s that simple.

Three, watch the sugar intake. A 12-ounce can of ‘regular’ Coke or Pepsi has about 39 grams of sugar. I was never very strong on the metric system, so I had to look it up. Conversion is 4 grams per teaspoon (a measure even I can understand). So a 12-ounce can of pop has about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Result – a raging sugar high followed by a hard sugar crash. No wonder they call it ‘pop’!

Watch out for the hidden sugar as well. Ketchup, tomato sauce, processed breakfast cereal, yogurt, condiments, processed meats, and bread. Plus the bagels, donuts and pastries that seem to be required at too many business meetings and training events.

refined sugar cube

Just so we’re clear, I love sweet treats. (So you can skip the protesting email.) And I have to watch out every single day. But I know from experience what the hidden and not so hidden sugars can do to my energy level. All I’m suggesting is a little conscious thought and modest adjustments to intake. Find that elusive middle-ground between sugar-pleasure and Better! sustained energy

Become that person everyone wants on their project. Bring the energy that inspires confidence in your work. You’ll think Better!, perform Better!, and feel Better! And others will notice – especially your boss.

Integrity – Better! Results Tip #14

After 40 years as a business and consulting professional – most spent in the fraud and business ethics arena – it takes quite a bit to stun me. But it happened yesterday.

The radio interviewer asked the guest what was the most significant development in US politics in 2016. Yeah, I know. Trump v. Clinton, Electoral College v. popular vote winners. Supreme Court vacancies deadlocking progress. State initiatives on legalizing or banning substances. Laws restricting personal freedoms. And a long list of other hot button issues.

And my initial reaction was to reach up and shut off the radio. At this point I’ve simply had enough.

But the three-word answer that was the immediate response froze me in disbelief (and almost caused me to drive up on the sidewalk).

Post-Truth Politics

Wow! I had to listen for more.

Forgive me if I didn’t interpret the message properly or remember it with precision, but my recollection 24 hours later is that Post-Truth Politics assumes that the facts simply don’t matter any more. There’s no need to ‘spin’ or ‘slant’ the truth to make your point. Just ignore the truth and facts completely – and say whatever you want. As often and as loudly as possible.

Political rally

Before your write me a nasty-gram, take a second and listen carefully. My comments here are not politically motivated one way or the other. When asked, I always state that my politics are ‘fact-based’ – a statement that more often than not leaves the questioner puzzled.

So here’s the question for all of us. Has this concept of Post-Truth Politics actually become reality? If so, what about Post-Truth Management? Or Post-Truth Parenting?

Would any of you want to be formally aligned with any anything in life that simply pushed truth to the side and said, “Let’s ignore reality, commitments, agreements, responsibility and accountability and just do and say whatever we want? Is this what we want for ourselves and our children? Or in our business lives?

It’s a simple question: yes or no?

I didn’t think so.

So it’s up to all of us to begin to bring clarity and precision to what we will tolerate in our lives. From our leaders, our organizations, and especially from ourselves.

Truth is an absolute requirement if Better! results are our goal. We must know that what we hear, read and see is based on facts. Do we want others to lie to us or not? Do we want to believe in our organizations or not? Do we want to follow or spend precious family and leisure time with those who will shamelessly lie to us, or not?

It’s all pretty simple.

So here’s my grass-roots challenge.

Truth and lies written on compass

Let’s all try to speak nothing but the truth for one full day. Just one day.

From when we wake up in the morning until we put our heads back on the pillow at night. Every word we say – in meetings, conversations with friends or co-workers, to our partners, children and neighbors – we pledge to be true. In our emails, our phone messages, our business reports, our documents, 100% truth for one day.

Not really a challenge for most of you, I know. But possibly with raised awareness in our own actions, we’ll also raise our awareness level of what we find acceptable in the actions and words of others. And react accordingly.

Let me know how you make out. I would love to hear back from you on this one.

For a great read on this subject, try the book Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Dr. Henry Cloud




Beating the habit | What Excuses Do You Use?

Beating the habit | What Excuses Do You Use?

Are you lying to yourself?

Chances are there are areas of your life you would love to improve. Goals you’ve set. Dreams that keep popping up. Visions of success on your terms. But if it’s been weeks or months since your last real action toward a long-standing goal, it’s time to evaluate why.

As we all work toward achieving our goals, it’s important that we aren’t caught in a cycle of self-deception. If we are constantly thinking “I probably can’t handle that,” it’s only a matter of time before we start believing it.

And how often do we all tell ourselves white lies and excuses that have the potential to drain our motivation. In an instant, our excuses can snowball from a moment of self-doubt or uncertainty about next steps to a concrete perception of our limited abilities. A simple excuse that turns into a limiting belief can prevent you from chasing your goals. In the short term, excuses damage our self-confidence and cause us to ignore an opportunity. In the long term, excuses create major barriers that prevent us from clarifying our priorities and achieving success.

Beating the habit

Beating the habit | What Excuses Do You Use?

“Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”
The beauty of this system is that you can change any area of your life: professional, financial, physical, spiritual, interpersonal, intellectual, or psychological. You’ll be amazed at what you can do!

If you’re tired of making excuses that limit your potential, if you’re tired of thinking you’re not good enough, too old, or too young to make progress, you have the power to start over – every day. Each morning presents a new opportunity to get back on track with your purpose in life. Beating the habit of making excuses requires work, but the payoff includes releasing yourself from the barriers that hold you back.

It’s time for us all to stop making excuses. Right now, take a moment to think about any negative messages you send yourself on a daily basis. Consider how they impact your family, friendships, work and all areas of your life.

For example, your excuse could be that you don’t exercise because you don’t have anyone willing to join you for a workout. This excuse may affect your level of energy at work, or influence your relationships with loved ones who want to see you healthy. But we don’t need someone at our side to go for a 20-minute walk. We don’t need music in our earphones or texting on our handheld devices. We don’t need special clothes or the latest athletic shoes. We just need to walk. No excuses; just get up and go. In fact, the peace and quiet that is a gift to you as you stroll along by yourself will almost certainly release energy and ideas hiding just behind your excuses.

Once we identify our excuses and push them aside, replace that space by seeing opportunities to help you achieve your goal. Without excuses blocking our view, we’ll see the people, information, and other resources we need to chase our goals. They were always there. Excuses just prevented us from seeing them.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”



Learning to Embrace Change

Learning to Embrace Change

It’s human nature to seek out behaviors and paths where we find comfort, safety and routine. And once those routines are set, it can be very difficult to willfully change our ways. It’s a proven fact of human psychology: change causes anxiety. And anxiety causes us to resist new behaviors and maintain the safety of the ‘status quo’.

But here’s another unavoidable fact about change: it’s absolutely required for better results regardless of how you define them. When seeking goals in our personal or professional lives, changing our comfortable daily practices is a necessary but often daunting task. Learn to embrace change!

Growth and expansion require a willingness to change our habits. To replace what got us here with what’s needed to get us somewhere else. And although replacing comfortable habits may make us uncertain initially, we can counteract this unsettled feeling by being more conscious of the hundreds of changes we already make every day – without even thinking about them. Examples include:

Learning to Embrace Change

Ready for real change? Ready for extraordinary results?
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• How you started a conversation this morning
• What you ordered for lunch
• The specific content of dozens of emails you send each day
• What you put in the cart at the grocery store
• Which TV channel you selected last evening
• What coat or shoes you’ll wear tomorrow depending on the weather forecast

These are just a few examples of our willingness to adapt to changing circumstances and our ‘mood of the moment’. Simple examples, to be sure. But they illustrate our pre-disposition to minor course corrections throughout our daily business and personal lives.

Now let’s jump to larger-scale habit changes needed to advance towards goals. If you’re looking to be more open to the possibilities that life provides, there are a few important factors that must be actively managed. Here are three.

• Plain Old Fear. Fear can be a powerful motivating force, but it can also be a major reason why we resist dropping habits that block our success. Change means embracing some uncertainty about outcomes, and uncertainty brings risk. Our fears instinctively kick in to protect us in uncertain situations. Acknowledging that fear is entering into our decision-making allows us to more effectively evaluate alternatives and choose a course of action.

Here’s a suggestion to help counteract fear. Take daily small steps. A sustained effort of small daily steps reduces anxiety. This approach allows us to evaluate results and adapt our approach easily. Keep your eye on the horizon- view of your goal. Know where you are ultimately headed. But take small steps initially to minimize fear-triggering uncertainty of change.

• Mental Roadblocks. We all give ourselves excuses for avoiding change. We doubt our abilities, question the likelihood of success, and believe we are generally fine with where we are today. Well, ‘Fine’ is the enemy of ‘Better’. ‘Comfortable’ is the roadblock to ‘Excited’ and ‘Fulfilled’. If you find yourself doubting your abilities, or questioning your comfort levels, you’re not alone. It’s important to remember that overcoming our personal and professional mental roadblocks allows us to see opportunity in every change, and remain open to new forms of success.

• Our Current Reality. We’ll all guilty of settling for the comfort and security of where we are right now. Existing habits have produced reasonable results with manageable risk. But that’s not a formula for goal achievement. Successful people who achieve their goals recognize that where they are right now – their current reality – is a great foundation to jump off to even greater heights. Our past is our past: no more, no less. Our past got us to our present, and our present is the springboard to our future. High achievers like you need to catch your breath, and then step up beyond the accomplishments of now to your goals of the future.

Once we realize change includes a heavy dose of opportunity for growth, it becomes easier to embrace change as something we must have to move forward, accomplish our dreams and exceed our goals.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”



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