My husband and I purchased bikes when we first met over 25 years ago, and we still ride those bikes together today. This summer, our children rediscovered the enjoyment of biking with their friends. One day as my younger daughter was getting ready to leave the house, I asked her if she was meeting up with Lilly. She told me that Lilly's bike was stuck in first gear, and she didn't like riding together because it was a struggle to keep up.
If you are a bike rider, you know exactly what Lilly means. First gear is a tremendous aid when you are peddling up a hill. There is little resistance at this gear ratio so that when you move onto flatter surfaces, you find yourself peddling rapidly without getting the wheel rotation needed to reach faster speeds. It is this design of the gear system that makes bicycling an efficient mode of transportation.
So why am I talking about bikes and gears, and what does this have to do with business? We have two months remaining until yearend for most small businesses. And because of the upcoming holidays, many of us have only 6-7 weeks of productive work time to complete our goals. In other words, it is time to kick it into high gear and sprint for the finish line.
I want to share the guidance I am giving to my clients as we discuss this reality.
DON'T LET THE URGENT
OVERSHADOW THE IMPORTANT
As I have said many times, I find many of the "old school" authors are as relevant today as they were decades ago. And that is why I share the work of Stephen Covey with my clients. He wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and we are discussing Habit #3: Put First Things First.
This graphic from Stephen Covey's work requires little explanation, but focused attention to execute.
During these final weeks, it is paramount to be judicious about maximizing the time you spend in quadrant 2 (Q2) by eliminating distractions and waste. Additionally, it is crucial to regularly commit time to working on the important things that are not presenting with emergency flashers.
I recommend two steps to make this happen.
ONE. Set a clear intention for what you must accomplish before the yearend.
TWO. Follow the advice of author Tim Ferriss and start each workday by identifying two to three objectives that become the primary focus of your attention and effort.
Most of us are happy to see the end of 2020 drawing near. We are eager to put the disruption of the global pandemic in our rearview mirrors. Ending the year strong, however, requires us to do more than crisis management. To strengthen your business, you've got to gear down and power up by committing time and attention to quadrant 2. It may not be possible every day, but make sure that this gets no less than 20% of your time each week.
And don't forget, if you are feeling stuck in first gear, you can take advantage of my FREE initial coaching session. I'll be happy to help you get UNSTUCK and moving FORWARD.
I was completely surprised and humbled when my very talented client, Elizabeth Wimpsett (owner of The Social Boutique, a marketing agency), publicly referred me to her cultivated business network on FB. Within the hour, her generosity resulted in an exploratory conversation booking.
I am proud of the work I do because the positive impact is undeniable. Like many other small businesses, the number one way clients and I connect is through referrals and introductions. Giving written recommendations and testimonials on Google Business Listings, LinkedIn, and Facebook, to name a few, is an act of mutuality. People who see these reviews also have a brief moment of introduction to you.
Whether it is purchased or given freely, when you receive the benefits of someone's professional expertise, you also have the opportunity to declare their value to your network. You have a chance to be "Elizabeth" for another small business owner. Who will you bless this week with your words of appreciation?
Is Resentment Holding You Back?
I started this series after reflecting on ways that my thinking or internal conversations were holding me back. The first article talks about why learning to let go helps us move ahead. The second article shares my experience with permitting myself to step away. In this third article, I want to uncover the self-limiting impact of holding onto resentment.
Resentment is feeling deep and bitter anger and ill-will. Unjust treatment is a common reason for this feeling. Most people don't know how to confront and navigate situations that create resentment. Instead, they respond with suppressed emotion, avoidance tactics, passive-aggressive talk, or subversive actions.
Unresolved resentment escalates to contempt, which is the judgment of another person as vile or repulsive. As you can imagine, these emotions eradicate the possibility of civil discourse, as discovered in the micro-expressions research of Dr. John Gottman. He found contempt expressions to be the most reliable predictor of divorce after observing just a few general conversation minutes between couples. This finding underscores that the presence of contempt is a bad sign for the health of relationships.
To understand how resentment occurs, let's begin with a basic model for the constructive exchange of ideas and information.
Healthy, productive communication requires three conditions of mutuality to be present.
MUTUAL PURPOSE = Committed to Manifesting Shared Intentions
MUTUAL MEANING = Committed to Creating Shared Understanding
MUTUAL RESPECT = Committed to Treating Others With Dignity
When any of these conditions are compromised, miscommunication that can escalate into relationship-ending aggression occurs.
In this model, mutual respect is prime. Without mutual respect, none of the other conditions are possible. The deep, negative feelings resentment produces not only inhibit the expression of respect but also keep us stuck in a pattern of thinking and behaving that traps us.
But here's the thing, holding onto resentment, no matter how justified, is a choice. And as impossible as it may seem, you can let it go by examining your feelings closely and answering these two questions.
1) What's the pay-off?
2) Do you want to be right, or do you want things to change?
Regardless of your awareness, there is always a pay-off associated with our choices. Psychologists termed this reinforcement, and it is widely used to shape behavior. Here are some examples of the pay-offs for holding onto resentment.
There are areas in our lives in which we can walk away from individuals whom we resent. For most of us, however, the workplace isn't one of them. Being in an emotionally combative situation is stressful and distracting. Few of us can perform at our best when carrying this emotional burden, which leads to my assertion that resentment holds us back.
Letting go of resentment is not easy. Psychologists have studied our need to be right, which they've tied to chemicals released during conflict and the ego's protection. [read more] Additionally, our education system reinforces having the correct answer as the ideal state. Nature and nurture conspire to strengthen a neurological pattern that causes us to double down on our rightness and exclude other information to the contrary.
Additionally, the fact that unjust treatment is at the core of resentment makes the process of letting go more challenging. Mark Sichel, LCSW, makes the perfect case for rising to this challenge.
"Letting go of a resentment is not a gift to the person you resent. It is, rather, a gift to yourself."
Holding onto resentment gives it power over our lives in unintended and self-destructive ways. Naming it, facing it, and letting it go is your opportunity to reclaim your extraordinary and manifest your fullest potential.
I have been struggling to write the third article in my current blog series all weekend. Although the topic is impactful, other thoughts kept crowding it out. This exact situation is why I don't have a social media calendar with days or weeks of planned posts. I am an in-the-moment gal who performs best when I am speaking from my passion.
So, pardon me for the interruption. I'll finish telling you about the power of #LetGo next week. This week, I want to share my recent experience with #SayingYes.
Sometimes we agree to something without really giving it any thought, and other times we have to permit ourselves before we act. In either case, our YES is powerful. And directing that power at the right possibilities allows EXTRAORDINARY to happen.
Last Friday, I facilitated a small company's meeting. Every employee attended. They had never held a meeting like this, although many of them had been asking for it to happen for months. Several people offered sincere words of thanks while we gathered and privately. Although only a start, the meeting was a success that affirmed for me the importance of investing my time with the right clients and work.
As I reflected on my personal affirmation, I realized that many yeses were required by both sides to create this moment. This is the story of those yeses.
YES #1: Tim Asked For Help.
At the end of July, I was Todd Meador's guest on Ask The Experts, a live call-in show that broadcasts through our local iHeartRADIO station, News Radio 840 WHAS. About halfway through the show, we received our first caller, Tim. He told us about his team of essential workers, the strain of current demands, and his plans to hold a company-wide meeting. Tim was mentally and physically tired. He knew his team morale was slipping and that he needed to pull them together, but with no immediate end in sight, that conversation was daunting. Tim was asking for help.
YES #2: We Trusted Our Connection.
I called Tim the next day to follow-up and offer more assistance. Signing him as a client wasn't my goal. I offered free thought partnership to help him gain clarity and confidence going into the meeting with his team. In our first meeting, he shared the story of how he had built his company and the challenges they'd faced in 2020. I was able to draw upon my breadth of experience and relate to his plight as he attempted to lead his team through a change that frequently stole his control, like a car hydroplaning on wet pavement. He disclosed that he saw the need for broader changes and wanted my partnership to make it happen as quickly and effectively as possible. Tim didn't interview me. He didn't ask me to produce my credentials. We had a genuine conversation, made a real connection, and that was all he required to trust me as his business coach.
YES #3: We Aligned Around A Shared Mission.
Tim's company is a typical family business. My next step was to gather feedback and input from the two office staff, both family members. Tim hired me without consulting anyone, and I was not surprised to be met with some resistance regarding the timing, nature, and general decision to invest in my services. I was an unknown in a time when everyone was struggling to keep their heads above water. However, doubt quickly transformed to trust as I listened, asked questions that spurred new thinking, and affirmed the reality they named. One person noted how helpful it was to speak out loud to someone about everything they were experiencing. We had a shared mission.
YES #4: We Didn't Let Imperfect Get In The Way Of Moving Forward.
As a seasoned veteran of change management, I counseled against building the perfect plan in the front office before engaging everyone in the company. In the end, they followed my advice because circumstances conspired against completing the work before the date of the all-employee meeting. I shared my facilitation techniques for engaging everyone and gathering their input without creating confrontation or fear. Although I had spoken with only half of the participants, I was confident that all shared the pain and desire for resolution. Although different from the management meetings he'd experienced as an employee, Tim trusted my expertise and commitment to deliver the outcomes we'd established for the meeting.
YES #5: Everyone Chose To Participate.
Everyone arrived for the meeting with little knowledge of what to expect. The meeting began with an hour dedicated to acknowledging the last few months' demands and celebrating their collective ability to ride the storm. Over and over, the company leaders shared information, and then everyone participated in group exercises to give input into the coming changes. The room filled with honest conversations that strengthened connections and commitments. Everyone participated fully.
Friday's success was the culmination of many yeses, said over many weeks by many people. Without these yeses, the outcome would likely have been different. I felt genuine pride and accomplishment on Friday, and I know that every participant did too. This was only the beginning. There is much work to be done and many changes to come. And yet, I am confident that capturing the momentum of that meeting will increase the speed and ease of changes still to come. I can't wait to share more celebrations with Tim and his crew.