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eat the frog

Eat the Frog – Better! Results Tip #12

American author and populist philosopher Mark Twain is given credit for a simple quote that changed how I start my day.

If it’s your job to eat a frog,

it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.

A quick Internet search of this quote will show you the many writers, speakers, bloggers and others who have embraced it and spun it into the context of their own work. That’s not my purpose here. I just want to share it with those of you who have never heard it before (like me until recently), or remind those of you who already know this quote of what a powerful, simple, actionable instruction it is.Eat the Frog

Here’s how I use it to get Better! Results.

On the wall behind my work desk, I have a large orange Post-It Note with “Eat the Frog” written in a wide marker. When I open my laptop to start my day, I see this note right behind the screen. I can’t miss it. And reacting to this instruction immediately every single day has changed my morning work routine so that I’m now:

  • More efficient – I don’t start with low priority busy work. I search around my work area for the single most important task that must be done that day. And I do it right away. Whether that takes two minutes or two hours.
  • More effective – My best time of day for creativity and productivity is early morning. I’m confident that’s due in part to my love of coffee! But I’ve been a morning person throughout my career. So it’s simple self-awareness and common sense that directs me to follow Twain’s advice and eat that critical-task frog first thing.
  • More relaxed – Once that important chore that would otherwise hang over my day is done, I can take a deep breath and move on to the dozens of other less-critical tasks. Emails, proposals, new training materials for my clients, returning phone calls, and pushing a never ending stream of paper around my desk to its final resting place in files or the recycle bin. The critical task stress is gone leaving me with the energy and focus to tackle the many other important but less urgent items on my ‘To-Do’ list.

If you’re one of the large number of business professionals who struggle to find the time to finish important tasks, or if like me you have a tendency to procrastinate, then get out a large bright Post-It Note and marker right now. Write “Eat the Frog” in large letters, and stick it directly in front of where you’ll sit when you start you day tomorrow. Then eat that frog before doing anything else.

Try it for just one day. If you like the result, try it again for a week. If you get Better! Results, repeat every day until it’s your new morning routine. It’s simple; it’s free, and it works.

 


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 38-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.”

Help Your Boss Be A Hero

Help Your Boss Be A Hero – Better! Results Tip #11

Cheryl threw her hands above her head and let out a sigh of frustration. All I had asked was how things were going with her new boss. Clearly, they weren’t going well.

Sound familiar?

Let’s step back a minute and consider Cheryl’s point of view and career objectives. Like most, she wanted to opportunity to perform meaningful creative work. Like you, she prefers to do so in an environment of cooperation and trust where efforts are appropriately recognized. And like you, Cheryl wants to look forward to coming to work and enjoying the many hours spent with associates and supervisors.

And those supervisors come in all styles and personalities. Some are easy to work with. They challenge us, guide us, coach us and bring out our best.

Others – not so much.

Our career goals are important, and our ability to pursue those goals is heavily dependent on our ability to get our immediate supervisor to support us. But with so much diversity in styles and relationships between supervisors and their teams, can there really be a ‘one size fits all’ approach that can work in every situation?

Well, the answer is a resounding – probably. As in, there are some things you can do that increase the ‘probability’ of creating a truly supportive relationship with your boss. And they all start with studying and understanding your boss’s perspective.

Allow me to explain.

make your boss look like a hero

Achieving better results starts with a vision. Through John Hall’s guidance, you will be able to not only envision yourself accomplishing your goals, but also develop clear steps and an attainable plan to help navigate you toward success. Break free from the daily grind and bring clarity to your goals. John helps you develop perspective and context, and then delivers a clear-cut and action-oriented guide of how-to instructions that steer you toward measurably Better! results – however you define them. Let us know how we can help you achieve better results – however you define them. Click here to contact us for more information on our One-on-One and Group Results Coaching Services. Or start getting better results today through the Six-Step System by clicking right here to purchase John’s book “Do what You Can! Simple Steps – Extraordinary Results.”

Like you, your boss has valid points of view and career objectives. She or he likely wants employees who can embrace and support these objectives. Not brown-nosing goody two shoes human robots. Employees who see themselves as professionals regardless of their organizational level or responsibilities. Every supervisor wants team members who bring their best every day, come prepared and energized to take on the daily challenges of business, and will support the group’s objectives as well as their own career goals.

So regardless of the current condition of your relationship with your own boss, here’s a suggestion. Do something today to make your boss look like a hero.

For example:

  • If you know that your boss is struggling with a business challenge – budget, deliverables, performance improvement, customer satisfaction, or anything else that’s important to them – brainstorm something specific you could do in your own work that would help your boss solve that challenge. Then just do it. No fanfare or glory-seeking. Your boss will see and appreciate your efforts. The halo created by your results will reflect back on you without a word being said.
  • When day-to-day problems pop-up, seek solutions without being asked. Highly valued employees are those who see a problem, analyze it quickly, and then dive in to find workable solutions. The unhappy customer, the end of day deadline, and the crisis phone call that just came in all create opportunities for you to take on the role of fixer. I’m a big believer in devoting 20% of our efforts to problem identification and analysis, and 80% to finding and implementing solutions. Show your boss that you can always be relied upon to solve their headache even before they know they have one.
  • Make them look good. Offer to draft documents for them. Volunteer to cover the meeting they don’t have time to attend. Reach out to the vendor or contractor who is causing your boss nothing but frustration and worry. And always – ALWAYS – speak favorably about your boss.

I’m fond of the belief that if you help a lot of people then a lot of people will help you. Start with your boss. Find some way today and every day to help them out and make them look good. Be the great employee they need you to be – the one who makes them look like a hero to their boss!

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 38-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.”

Get A Little Exercise – Better! Results Tip #8

 

2 PM, and I’ve been sitting at my dStuckesk since early this morning. Two cups of coffee, and a very short lunch break. The projectdeadline is just a few days away, and I’m feeling stuck, lethargic, and totally un-creative. Time to giv
e myself the free gift of a walk around the block. I know when I get back in five minutes, everything will flow smoothly again.

I love to play – basketball, ride my bike, snowboard, canoe. Anything that feels like a game. But I HATE to exercise – go to a gym, sit on a stationary bike, lift weights, run the treadmill. HATE is a strong ugly word. But I’m sticking with it!

I know exercise is good for me. Exercise tunes up the body. Exercise makes the blood flow to the brain and everywhere else. Exercise flushes the toxic. Exercise increases creativity.

I know all of this, but still I have a history of resisting exercise if it doesn’t involve ‘playing’ in even a small way.

So here’s what I do – and I challenge you to play along with me.

I walk. At least one mile every day. That takes about 20 minutes. And to make it a game, I keep a log on a very basic Excel spreadsheet. Every day, I know whether I’m ahead or behind. If I skipped yesterday, I do two miles today. If I get ahead, sometimes I’ll give myself a day off as a reward. I start on January 1 and keep it going until December 3. 365 miles per year, one day at a time.

Walk A Mile Every Day On pleasant days, I’ll walk through the neighborhood – ten minutes out, turn around and ten minutes back. In bad weather and while traveling, I’ll walk in client offices, hotel hallways, airport terminals, shopping centers, and college classroom buildings. I intentionally park at the far side of shopping centers and airport economy parking lots, and walk in. Our townhome has 42 steps from the basement to my workspace. I bet I walk 500 steps up every day I’m home.

So simple, even I can do it! And you can too. That’s my challenge to you: to walk one mile with me every day for a year.

Of course, if you regularly engage in more serious exercise, bless you! Continue on your mission to stay fit, healthy and happy. But if you’re a victim of long hours sitting at a desk, there are no worthy excuses to avoid starting today and walking for just 20 minutes. Twice around your office building or the city bock where you live should do it.

The subtitle for my first book “Do What You Can!” is “Simple Steps – Extraordinary Results”. I didn’t write that tag line, a very creative professional writer did. But I love it just the same, and it has become a major theme in my work and personal life. Simple steps. Why not get up right now and literally take a few simple steps. In 20 minutes, you’ll log your first mile. When you get done, see if you feel more creative. I always do – every time!

 

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 38-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.”

Ask “How May I Help You?” – Better! Results Tip #7

“How may I help you?” is a simple yet powerful offer. Every one of us has something to offer others. Help them with a problem, a challenge or a moment of opportunity.

“How may I help you?” is a simple yet powerful offer.

It tells the other person that you’re interested in them. It positions you as someone who is open to providing value. And in the right circumstances, it can credential you as someone with the answers.

Here’s an example from my coaching client Charlotte. In meetings with her clients and co-workers, when an issue or need is expressed her ‘go-to’ reply is always the same. “How can I help you?”

To the listener, Charlotte is seen as a source of ideas. She is solutions ­rather than problems focused – a very rare commodity in business, politics and society in general today.

What usually follows this question is a reply that her offer is appreciated. People say, “Thanks, Charlotte. That’s very kind of you. Can we just kick around ideas for a few minutes?”

Now here’s the pivot moment that brings extra value. During the subsequent discussion, Charlotte concentrates on asking questions. She rarely offers opinions unless directly asked. Instead she helps the other person think Better! She provides presence, empathy, and appropriate distance while leading through targeted questions.

Here’s a quick example of a rather typical exchange over lunch with fellow manager, Michael.

Michael: “This new project has me stumped.”

Charlotte: “That’s interesting. How may I help you?”

Michael: “Thanks Charlotte. You always offer and I always appreciate it. I’m thinking on this current challenge, I’ve become so deep into the details that I can’t seem to see where it’s all headed. It’s all foggy to me right now.”

Charlotte: “I hate feeling like that. Would it help if you took a deep breath and walked me back through what this project is intended to accomplish?”

Michael: “Yes, thanks. Let’s do that, if you don’t mind.”she asks simply, direct guiding questions.

For the next five minutes, Charlotte remains completely focused on Michael’s words, She is completely present. And where appropriate, she asks simply, direct guiding questions.

As they finish their lunch, Michael tells Charlotte that he feels better about what he needs to do next to get the project back on track. He thanks Charlotte for helping him regain perspective by encouraging him to start back at the beginning to regain his lost perspective.

All Charlotte did was give Michael a chance to talk about his issue, but Charlotte’s approach of asking guiding questions caused Michael to ‘think better’ about his project. She helped Michael add a step or two of distance and to thereby see the issues from a better perspective. Charlotte didn’t offer one specific suggestion. She used questions to help Michael arrive at his own Better! perspective and action plan.

Follow Charlotte’s example and make “How may I help you?” become your automatic response to others in need. See how it works out for you.

And if you want to go deeper, read David Rock’s powerful book “Quiet Leadership”. You’ll learn a great deal more about how and why the approach of guiding questions works.

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 38-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.”

Embrace That You’re Self-Employed (Even if You’re An Employee) – Better! Results Tip #6

This is where the concept of us all being self-employed comes in.When I bring up this concept at my live training events, I always get quite a few skeptical looks. And I certainly understand – because most of the participants in my Better! Results seminars are employees, supervisors and managers. That means they work for someone else, draw a salary, have benefits, travel each day to a job location someone else provides, and follow a daily work schedule dictated by someone above them in the organization hierarchy.

So if that’s the case for most in the room, how is it relevant for me to tell them that they are self-employed?

Well, let’s try this angle.

In it’s simplest form, in today’s business world we all serve and report to someone else. A boss, the board, a client, or a customer across the deli counter where you’re making sandwiches. Every one of us shares the experience of serving someone else in our work roles. This is where the concept of us all being self-employed comes in.

It’s not about who pays us, assigns tasks or provides formal annual feedback. It’s simply a state of mind. Do I see those I serve in my work as customers or something else?

Try to imagine if every person in every business organization handled their work, their preparation, and their interaction with others as though they were in fact self-employed? What if we all thought, “If I’m not ready for my weekly staff meeting tomorrow I could lose the client!” Or “If I don’t do a high quality job every day – bringing measurable value to my clients – I won’t get paid.”

This is what I mean when I suggest that we’re all self-employed. It’s not whether we own and operate our own business, it’s just a state of mind in how we conduct ourselves in our work.communicate better, listen more attentively, and be more present?

It applies in our personal life as well. What if we looked at our family, neighbors and others with the same view as customers? Would we not be more aware of their legitimate needs, their points of view and perspectives. Couldn’t this simple shift in focus position us to communicate better, listen more attentively, and be more present?

Please understand that I’m not suggesting that we become artificially subservient to others in our actions. The old expression that “The customer is always right” simply isn’t true. But what is true is that the ‘customer is always a customer’.

Try it for one week. Try to maintain a “What if I were self-employed and this person was my customer?” focus in interactions with co-workers, supervisors and other departments in your job. See if this perspective doesn’t bring about better results for you – on your terms.

If so, try it again for another week, and so on into the future until this perspective becomes a new and Better! habit.

 

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 38-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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