Thinking is the hardest work we do

Stop What You’re Doing – Better! Results Tip #3

“Thinking is the hardest work we do.” This famous quote has been attributed to Henry Ford. It appears in offices and schools on motivational posters and coffee mugs.

But what’s missing from this energizing message is the next line, and it’s oh-so important. So let me give you the whole thing here:

“Thinking is the hardest work we do…

which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”

TIME FOR SUCCESS! (2)Ouch! That hurts so much because it’s so true for me. Each day, I react to the next urgent issue, answer emails as quickly as possible, spend too much time on the phone, finish too may tasks and projects minutes before they’re due, and somehow ‘work’ between 10 and 12 hours too often feeling like I didn’t get anything strategically important accomplished. Just busy, busy, busy from before dawn until after dark most days.

How about you? Do you jump endlessly from one issue to the next, convincing yourself that somehow multi-tasking (multi-thinking??) is more efficient and energizing? Perhaps leading to more innovative ‘a-ha’ moments than focused disciplined thinking could possibly provide?

Well, if so, then we’re both headed in the wrong direction.

To be honest, thinking isn’t really that hard. What appears to be hard is the discipline to push aside distractions, block the time, find a quiet place, and – quite simply – think.

Thinking is the hardest work we doCopying the Behaviors of Successful People

As a core part of my own professional and personal development, I’ve become a big believer in finding someone who does something really well that I’m interested in doing, and just copying what they do. For me, it’s worked for becoming a better speaker, consultant, auditor and coach. And it can work for you, too.

That’s how I ran across John C. Maxwell. In his book How Successful People Think, Maxwell suggests that successful people “fight the hectic pace of life that discourages intentional thinking.”

O.K., that makes sense, but the big divide is the difference between knowing it and doing it.

In a similar vein, several of my coaches and advisors have said that we all need to ‘block the time’ to think or to focus exclusively on an important project or task. ‘Blocking the time’ means literally putting it on your calendar, accepting no interruptions, turning off your phone or laptop, closing the door, sitting comfortably – and thinking!

Your Action Challenge

Whenever and wherever you are reading this, stop right now. That’s correct – RIGHT NOW. Take five minutes with no other distractions in order to fully appreciate the gift of quiet time to think.

You may need to go find a place to hide. Your cubicle at work may be too noisy. Your desk at home may be too cluttered. The coffee shop where you go each morning to escape and relax may have the music turned all the way up. If so – think: where can I go RIGHT NOW to enjoy five minutes of uninterrupted, undistracted time to think.

For Better! results in your business or personal life, make the positive choice to Stop What You’re Doing. Then repeat this gift every day. Allowing yourself a few minutes each day to do nothing but think is a great gift. It’s free and it’s just for you. So try it and enjoy.

Let me know how it goes.

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.”

 

 

Your Past Is Not Your Future

Your Past Is Not Your Future – Better! Results Tip #2

10 Steps to a Better Career | Interested in a new career? Ready to leap for that next promotion? If so, it is important to take the time to evaluate your present situation, to explore career options and to choose a career that will be satisfying for you. CLICK THE IMAGE TO LEARN MORE

Terri Said, “I’ll never be able to get the top spot here. Pursuing goals like that just isn’t part of where I come from.”

Yikes! What a limiting statement to have about yourself and your abilities. And it certainly caused an abrupt change in our performance coaching conversation.

Of course Terri could get the top spot. There are no guarantees, but there are steps she can take every day to increase the probability of that happening. To position herself for success however she defines it.

But if her starting point is a deep-seated believe that she can’t or won’t ever be able to because of where she comes from, she’s pretty much dead in the water before taking the first step.

Building on Where We’re From

We all come from somewhere. We all have many pluses and minuses in our background. Family, friends, health, nationality and race, beliefs, finances, language, education, contacts and a thousand other factors. All are the foundation points from which we jump forward – that is, if we choose to jump.

Here are two of my favorite quotes on this topic. Both frame this issue with great clarity and precision.

First, from Brendon Burchard at his High Performance Academy seminar I attended in the spring of 2015:

Your background is your starting point. No more or less.

The second quote from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer has traveled with me for many years:

Your past is not your future – unless you want it to be.

Two great insights from two great thought leaders. Brendon is young and energetic. One of the great motivators and influencers of our age. Dr. Dyer – who had more influence on my thinking than any other human except my parents – passed on in late 2015. But not before leaving us with the wisdom of the ages.

If you’re giving me the honor of reading my articles or attending my Webinars or live events, I’m giving you a hard shove right now to invest a few precious moments of Internet research on both of these interesting men.

Your Call To Action

Let’s pledge together to draw a line in our lives that distinguishes the before, the now, and the yet to be.

Let’s acknowledge and celebrate our past as the foundation for future success.

Let’s take stock of where we are right now: our strengths, weaknesses, bright spots and blind spots.

Let’s leave behind once and for all the limiting beliefs and distracting habits that draw us in like quicksand and do nothing more than hold us back.

Then let’s choose to carry forward the positive habits, beliefs and other factors from our past that will serve us in the future as we pursue our goals.

One last quote as a tribute to Dr. Dyer:

“If you focus on what’s always been, it will always be.

Focus instead on what could be.”

Let’s explore ‘what could be’ together. Let me know how I can help.

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.”

 

 

better results tip

Everyone Wants One Thing – Better Results Tip #1

Right now, make a choice. Decide on just one thing that you believe everyone wants. And the answer has to be just one word.

When I was first confronted by that powerful question by my results coach, I sat silently for a full five minutes before coming to an answer. That was over five years ago, and I’m still comfortable that I picked the right word: BETTER!

Better! allows us to acknowledge that we are fine – if in fact we are. But it also gives us permission to go higher. And it can be applied to any personal or professional goal. Be a Better! parent, mentor, priest, engineer, teacher, student, employee or manager.

Better! allows the novice and beginner to learn and grow massively, and it allows the master to seek and deploy the little tweaks to what they already do so well to arrive at even BETTER! results.

So for the last five years, I’ve worked to make Better! my theme – especially in my work. And I challenge you to consider the same test I’m applying each day. It’s a short but powerful question:

Am I Better! today than last week, last month, or last year?

Of course, the devil is always on the details. For example, am I a better speaker, performance coach or consultant than I was a few months ago? Am I a better spouse? A better neighbor? Am I healthier than I was at this time last year? Am I more energized?

What about you? What would be your criteria, and how would you assess where you are?

Which brings me to my purpose in writing to you. You see, where we are is only relevant as the jumping off point to where we want to be. Do you want to be a Better! manager, parent, neighbor or partner? Do you want better health, enhanced energy, more financial security, or any other personal or professional goal?

If so, join me in a journey as together we consider exactly how we’ll get the Better! results we seek. Let’s pursue how we could be better next week than this week. Better next month than this month. Better next year than right now. On whatever goals you have in mind. New, heightened and sustained levels. Increased capacity, desire, potential and energy.

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.”

 

 

I've been working from a home office for over 25 years. Here are some tips I've learned from that experience:

Staying Productive While Working Remotely

There are so many people who believe that working from home is a “dream” situation. The reality is that while working from home does offer you some flexibility and freedoms you can’t get in a traditional office, there are challenges that could turn working remotely into a nightmare situation. At the top of this list is, “How do you stay productive without the discipline of an office setting – especially when so many distractions are right at your fingertips?”

I’ve been working from a home office for over 25 years. Here are some tips I’ve learned from that experience:

1.   Create a consistent schedule – and stick to it.

Consistency in your daily work routine helps you feel organized and increases productivity. Start at the same time each day. Plan your day to include your work responsibilities and deadlines as well as recurring and one-time personal commitments. Prepare for meetings and telephone calls just as you would in an office. Edit your written work carefully. And as you finish your day, prepare a ‘to do’ list for tomorrow.

Then just stop. Avoid the temptation to drag a few minor items to your living room to work on while you relax in the evening. Remember, you are working from home – not living in your office. I've been working from a home office for over 25 years. Here are some tips I've learned from that experience:

2. Block out a specific space to work – and protect it.

Block out your work space. This is your home office and it should be treated as a place reserved for business. Piling personal bills, mail, shopping lists, and your child’s school science project on your work desk is a recipe for distraction and inefficiency. In short, block out your time; block out your space.

3. Prioritize your tasks based on when you’re most effective.

Are you a morning person like me? If so, schedule your most important and creative tasks in the morning. Perhaps you operate better after lunch. If so, plan your most demanding tasks to be completed in the afternoon. There are likely going to be other, less-demanding tasks that you can accomplish during your “less effective” time periods. But it’s important to understand when you do your best work and which tasks are your priorities so you know when you can give them your fullest attention.

4. Keep focused on what you need to accomplish.

Be ever mindful of the pull of the ‘distraction box’ – also known as computers, tablets and handhelds. Never forget that just because you are alone, you are still working. Limit the amount of browser tabs you have open, and keep instant messaging services turned off. If music or television will distract you, leave them off. Focus your time, your energy and your attention. My favorite practice is limiting what’s on my desk to what I have to do right now. EVERYTHING else get put in a place where it can’t catch my eye until the task at hand is completed.

5. Turn off your email.

That’s right. I said it! The big heresy of business.

Consider starting your day by checking your email and limiting your start-of-day time to the most important messages that demand a response right now. Then turn it off for a few hours and focus on other important tasks that have to be done today. Check messages again before lunch, and then again at the end of the day.

Brendon Burchard – one of my favorite business coaches – refers to email as a wonderful system for other people to interrupt what you need to get done. Be respectful of the needs of others, but limit how much of your day you let get consumed responding to their email needs.

Try this trick. Plan the last hour of your day to respond to email. You’ll be amazed how efficient you can be when you are trying to shut-down and enjoy your evening.

Working from home can be great, but you really need to work at the way you manage your time for it to be the dream scenario that you want it to be. Common sense is pretty much all that’s needed to make it work. But as in so many areas of our personal and business lives, common sense seems to be in short supply.

Make common sense common practice, and if you’re like me you’ll love the flexibility of working from home.

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.”

battle plan for auditors

How to Be Productive With Your Job Hunt

There’s no getting around it: hunting for jobs is a pain. It’s time consuming, stressful and occasionally disheartening. Worst of all, it’s easy to lose focus, potentially keeping you unemployed for even longer.

However, there are certain steps you can take to be more productive with your job hunt and avoid losing focus. You’ve probably heard this before, but just in case: when you’re unemployed and searching for a job, you need to think of your job search as your full-time job. Treating your search this way makes it much more likely to yield results.

Here are some tips that you should consider:

  • Plan out your days. Just as you would with an average work day, plan out what your days look like while on the job hunt. You might reserve certain days for networking sessions, or set aside blocks of hours looking job huntingfor jobs online. You should also reserve time to tweak your resume, fill out applications, write letters, etc. Stay organized with your planning so that you start to get yourself into a routine; that makes it much easier to stay focused.
  • Track everything. Keep a thorough spreadsheet of all your job seeking activities. Track the jobs that you’ve applied for, when you applied for them, who your contact person was and when you followed up. You should also track all of the networking contacts you’ve made and when you had correspondence with them. Update this spreadsheet regularly to make sure that you’re staying organized.
  • Take advantage of technology. Use social networking or job hunting sites to your advantage. Many of them even have email alert systems when jobs that match your searches or your qualifications show up. You can get alerts as soon as listings are posted, so you can have an inside track on applications.
  • Revise your resume and cover letter for each application. You won’t find great results if you use the same generic resume and cover letter for every position you pursue. Research the target organization and what they’re looking for in an applicant so you have a better understanding of how to frame your application materials.
  • Keep your schedule arranged like you would at work. Get up early, stay well groomed and dressed, take lunch breaks and call an end to your job hunting activities by a certain time of the day. This will make your transition into your eventual new job a lot easier, and also keep you more productive during your search.

Getting that important work position is critical. Take these and other steps that each increase the probability of a successful pursuit. Good hunting!

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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