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Boost Your Success With Feroce Coaching

At Feroce, we believe that the 5 most common reasons people are unhappy in their jobs or careers are:

1. Lack of FIT: they end up in the job by default, without an understanding of whether their strengths actually match the position.

(by the way, most employers don’t understand this either!)

2. Lack of FIT: they end up in an environment that doesn’t suit them. (right job, wrong company culture)

3. Lack of CONFIDENCE…they lack the confidence that comes from having the opportunity to do what they do best.
(Only 1 in 5 people have the opportunity to do what they do best every day in their work, according to the Gallup Research study from 1.2 million respondents in 101 countries.)

4. Lack of VISION – for their life, for their career, for their business.

5. Lack of VALIDATION – they aren’t rewarded for their strengths. VALIDATION builds momentum, contributes to the sense of FLOW.

Top Ten Reasons To Hire A Feroce Coach to Boost Your Career or Your Business:

1.  It’s all focused on You!  Since it’s all about Fit, learn what best fits you.  (match your skills to your role or your business)

2. Work with your very own strategic partner to help you every step of the way to achieve your business or career goals.

3.  Use tried and tested tools to develop your brand and launch your new role or new business.  (Or give your current one a face-lift)

4.  Leverage your existing skills and resources to become more visible in the marketplace.  (Big confidence booster)

5.  Achieve results with creative and innovative techniques customized for you.

6.  Boost your productivity, performance, and above all, your bottom line by uncovering what’s been holding you back.

7.  Get the clarity you’ve always wanted about what to be when you grow up.  With clarity, the decisions are easy.  Without clarity, you end up on the nowhere road.

8.  Develop your personal strategic plan and map out your road map to be successful and happy.

9.  Get the competitive edge to navigate in today’s economy and market, including office politics.

10. Learn the secrets your competition isn’t sharing.

The most successful people hire coaches.

Is it worth investing in you?  At Feroce, you get two free coaching consultations (risk-free) to explore if coaching is for you.

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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Many attorneys think that lawyering and the media just don’t mix.  Some think just of advertising and find it distasteful (which I think, if done right isn’t).  Not the point though.  Utilizing the media effectively is a great way to market, and it is nearly free.

Three Lawyer Coaching Tips to PR That Will Get You In Front of New Clients

Before the tips, we must caution on two things.  First, before you expose yourself, you need to make sure your house is in order (not talking about your crazy antics back in the day).  You need to have an updated bio on your website, updated picture, etc.  If you are going to yell from the highest mountain, you probably don’t want to be naked.  (Most of us anyway.) 

Tip 1:  Issue a Press Release About Something You Are Doing

Of course, we are not talking about what we normally do – boring.  But, you will be surprised about how many of the things that you do are interesting.  And, you can always do something interesting.  Your coach can help you think of ideas (I have plenty), but a few are – give a seminar on some cutting edge material in your area (stuff that is already getting coverage) – might be changes to the inheritance tax, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the harassment case, etc.  If you really want to be creative, actually do something fun.  We created a fun television show for HR folks, Quid Pro Quo http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2FaoCmck&h=b8820.  It was fun to do, and got a lot of attention.  And, attention equals clients.

Now, we write press releases all of the time and are happy to help with that.  But written the right way, you will attract attention to what you are doing.  And, of course, even if you don’t get clients from the media attention, you will forward that attention to your existing or target clients to make sure they see it.

Tip 2:  Become a Reporter’s Friend

Reporters are always on deadlines, and often looking for something to write about.  If you let the reporter know that you are available to comment on your practice area – or better yet, from a lawyer marketing perspective, you send them story ideas – you will create a best friend.  Soon, you’ll be on speed dial, and might grow tired of reading your name in the paper.  Again, successful marketing will depend on the follow through afterward, which your attorney coach can help you with.

Tip 3:  Partner with a Charity or Client in a Charitable Cause

This is just a good thing to do, and we should do it because we like it.  But again, it never hurts to let people know what you’re doing.  Clients and prospective clients like to know that they are hiring good people.  You are; just show them.  We do a lot with our favorite charity, which has been inspired by our son, Henry’s Hope – www.henryshope.org.  And, we’re not shy about it – because we want to raise awareness about the charity, and clients love it too (and want to help).  It is a win-win.

We hope that the tips have helped you, and our attorney coaches would love to provide you direct and specific guidance for your successful lawyer marketing plan.  So, contact us today for your free consultation.

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We know that we have to do it.  Building our books, attorney marketing, business development – call it what you want, but we have to do it to keep our practice going and growing.  And, in today’s day and age, clients are generally fickle; they could use you for a case here or there and spread their work around.  Haven’t we all heard that?

Well, it can still happen.  But, I have found that when my clients dramatically change one of their lawyer marketing tools, their client retention rates sky-rocket!  Getting a client to turn to you – for everything – is obviously what you want – especially when you go through the business development chore, which it is no matter how you slice it.

Lawyer Coaching Tweak That Will Give You Return:  Treat Your Client Like A Business Partner

Now, it sounds much easier than it is.  It actually requires you to take your lawyer hat off and put your business hat on.  Remember, your client is worried about running its business efficiently, being more profitable, and focusing on all of those things.  They do not want to deal with legal issues, want to minimize exposure, and not have to talk to (or pay you).  Those are their desires and goals; so, in the face of this uphill battle, the business person in us has to take over and help them satisfy those goals by becoming our clients’ business partner – not their lawyer!

How?  Of course, as a lawyer coach and practicing lawyer, I work with lawyers and associates on this – because it is very individualized.  Coaching each lawyer to use their strengths, talents, and focus on their clients’ goals and objectives is key to success.  That said, we can provide you some general tips:

  • Have a regular meeting with your clients (at no charge to them) to access what their business challenges are, where they want to be with the company, and let them bounce ideas off of you.  They will!  And, they will be so pleased that you are interested.

 *Remember your client’s goals, let them know that you remembered, and help them every opportunity that you can.  None of this may be getting your billables up, but they are little things, and if you can have a client for life out of it – why wouldn’t you do it?  Examples – introduce your client to your banker friend (maybe also a client) that can assist with financing if that is their biggest challenge.  Throughout the year, send notes/emails/articles that address what you talked about, and that could help your client.  (Now, chances are they probably thought of it before you did; it is their business after all, but that’s not the point.  That you care – when you are not billing them – goes a long way.)

  • If they have legal issues,  your attorney marketing has to be balanced, as you don’t want to lose the credibility that you’re building by taking an interest in their business.  Of course, you will offer to help with that (whether it is in your area of expertise or not), but your approach is key.  The client has to know that doing whatever you suggest will achieve their goals (and you have to be too or don’t suggest it).

 

  • Something that is absolutely key, and you must do.  At some point, whether during this meeting or throughout the year, you have to turn work away from the client.  Now, by work, I mean “potential work.”  If the client is getting ready to spend money on you, it is terrific to be able to say:  “I am happy to do that and so glad that you would turn to me for it, but I have to tell you from the business side, I think your money might be better spent on . . . fill in the blank.”  You only have to do this once.  The client might take your advice, and might tell you that they’ll go ahead and spend the money on you.  One way or the other, they will be impressed with your personal dedication to them.

Your business development will take a significant and positive impact – if you always remember to treat your client as a business partner, and let them know as often as you can.  As clients and lawyers are all different, coaching you through the process is what we do, and would love to help!  Contact us today at http://www.ferocecoaching.com/business-coaching/lawyer-marketing-coaches.

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It’s never too late to learn new tricks as this video reveals.

Yes, anyone can learn a new technique or trick for success.  Surf the Internet and it’s full of proven methods to become successful in business, your career, and your life.  Every day, a new guaranteed program is popping up in the field of self-help.  Many of my clients turn to coaching because they have repeatedly tried everything from A to Z and it works for a little while, then it’s back to their old ways.

What’s missing?  Why do old patterns keep showing up over and over?  Research demonstrates that it takes 28-30 days to change a habit, introduce a new way of conducting business, living life, etc.  Actually, what I’ve discovered is that it only takes 14 days because if you have repeated a new habit or technique consistently for 14 days, by the 15th day, it will seem strange without it.  So, you usually continue.  By the time you reach the end of the 30 days, you have successfully shifted.  Then all it takes is another couple months to reinforce it, and voila, you’ve sustained a change.

In theory, this sounds too easy.  You’re right.  There is one more piece to making this work.  It has to be in synch with who you are naturally.  Most of my clients have no idea who they really are and what makes them tick.  They have been too busy listening to everyone else and not truly taking time to find out.

Is this complicated?  No.  The first place to start is to ask 2 questions.  What energizes you and what drains you?  You always know what drains you and if you start to pay attention, you can easily identify what energizes you, as well.

The key is to start creating a custom navigation tool that will help you get back on course and stay on the road to success.  Only by doing the things that come naturally will you be able to stop resisting yourself and actually improve the quality of your life.

I am not recommending that you make any drastic changes.  I am only asking you to discover 2 things:
1. What energizes you?

2. What drains you?

Once you are clear with both questions, you can start coming up with a list of things that must happen in your life.  These will start to be included in your top priorities.  For example, one of my clients, a business owner, was trying to grow his business and heard from many sources that all he had to do was to attend business functions, network and follow-up on leads.  This appeared to be sound advice.  However, group socializing and general networking meetings actually totally drained him.  He did better with growing individual relationships that were meaningful.  So, he created a description of his ideal client and researched places they would attend.  Turns out, he was targeting individuals in the creative professions and he had a passion for the performing arts.  Instead of attending unfruitful business meetings, he attended plays and started becoming involved in Community Theater in his back yard.  His new approach energized him and satisfied his passion for the arts.  In just a couple of months, he was happier and had acquired a dozen new clients.  He was no longer resisting the traditional marketing program.  This client changed the physical location where he was conducting business.  Physical locations provide some of the most powerful cues to behavior.

The most important thing to remember about success is to give yourself permission to explore alternatives without being fixed on the outcome.  To change a pattern or habit that’s not working, identify where this usually happens.  Then …change the context, change the cues.   …This requires understanding the triggers to your own behavior.

In the business world, it’s all about ROI and value propositions from employees.  Performance reviews are all about metrics.  It’s not about abolishing the metrics; it’s about giving yourself permission to creatively look at new approaches that map to the way you operate best.  If you increase the activities that energize you and minimize the ones that drain you, you will already notice a difference.

Try a free coaching consultation with Wanda Ropa, your success coach to get you started and get clear about where you’re going with your career, or with your life so you can develop a strategic plan that really works for you.  With clarity, success becomes a natural outcome.
Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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bradley foster

I saw Richard St. John present a talk on his new book: 8 to be Great: The 8 traits successful people have in common. He interviewed hundreds of successful people to find out what they all had in common (spoiler alert: I’m going to tell you what they are). He distilled the interviews down into various qualities these people (who include Warren Buffet and Bill Gates) and figured out what they all had in common. He discovered that they all had 1) passion, 2) They had fun working and spent a long time at it; 3) They had the ability to focus on just one thing; 4) They had the ability to push themselves harder; 5) They had great ideas; 6) They got good at what they did through constant improvement; 7) They all believed in the idea of service; and 8) They persisted, even in the face of failure.

I believe Richard has done his homework and has a lot to tell us about how to be successful. I have to quibble with his notion of success though. He takes it for granted that these people are successful, yet he never defines what he means by success which I felt was a bit odd. His subjects are all well off and in some cases, ridiculously so, and they are all good at what they do but it’s a bit of stretch to attribute success to them without saying what he means by success. Richard believes that it’s okay to get out of balance, to work long hours, to sacrifice time with family and friends, even skipping the gym all in the name of being successful. That’s not my definition of success. It sounds more like being a workaholic in my books but then one of my definitions of success is to lead a balanced life.

So what is success? I believe that we all succeed on our own terms and it’s key for each of us to be able to articulate our conditions of success. How else will we know when we have succeeded? After all, using Bill Gates as a measuring stick for success is bound to make us all feel depressed. One way to measure success is to set goals, both short and long term so we know what we are shooting for and we know when we’ve arrived. We can certainly take a page from Richard’s book to help us on our way but why not measure success on our own terms?

By the way, I think there are a couple elements key to success that Richard ignored, maybe because they are not identified as traits. Luck and timing are just as important to you as they are to the multitudes interviewed by Richard St. John. After all, how successful would Bill Gates be if he founded Microsoft in today’s business environment? Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Having good luck is really a matter of doing the groundwork and keeping your eyes open. Timing is a little more ephemeral but it requires perspective and a bit of strategy to make it work. Luck and timing can give you a leg up the ladder. May luck be with you and your timing be right!

Bradley Foster

Feroce Coach

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As a Parenting Coach and Parent, Stepping Back and Looking at the Forest While Implementing Your Action Plan is Key

Parenting is the hardest job in the world.  Keeping an objective focus, bouncing ideas off of an objective third party, and keeping it all in perspective is key to sanity – and good parenting.  Having a parenting coach sounds goofy to some – it did to me.  But, really being able to keep perspective and to help talk through ideas to improve your skills in one of (if not the) most important job in your life – doesn’t sound so silly when the job and the joy of parenting is put in perspective.

Let me put my money where my mouth is, and share a very personal story that led me to believe that investing in a parenting coach will result in more confidence, better parenting (which in part is from confidence), more well-rounded kids, and perspective.  Here is my story:

When we got the news, we were sitting at a gas station – somewhere in West Virginia.  We were on the way to Williamsburg – a week vacation that we had planned for a long time.  It was hot and humid, and we had been driving for only a couple of hours on our second day of travel.  The kids were all awake, had been well behaved, and they were all laughing.  Henry, of course, had the loudest and deepest chortle – with a smile from ear to ear.  His laughter and happiness are infectious, and really have been a medicine for all of us. 

As I climbed back in the van, having gassed up, with the kids laughter in the background, Kristen was on the phone.  The conversation was serious, but Kristen, as she always does, brought comfort to the caller – she was gracious and kind – knowing at some level how difficult it was for Shirley to deliver the news that afternoon.  I quieted the kids down, and soon wish that I hadn’t.  Quieting the laughter, in retrospect, was so wrong. 

I knew Shirley; she was Henry’s neurologist’s assistant – she was to call about his biopsy results.  Before Kristen got off the phone, I knew the news.  I am no sleuth.  Kristen talked about the team that would be assembled, she talked about scheduling, and was being given websites to browse.  His biopsy confirmed the feared diagnosis.  Henry has a mitochondrial disease.  When Kristen pressed, Shirley specified that he had a form of the Complex 1 mitochondrial disease. 

To receive the news at a gas station somewhere in West Virginia was ironic and definitely consistent with our journey.  For years, we had been in search.  In search for answers, a diagnosis, a treatment, a reason.  And, we had seen dozens of doctors, in many hospitals, in three states all across the country.  We moved, in part, to be close to the program where Henry could get the treatment.  And in that program, they tell us that he has a much bigger problem. Our poor little Henry sent off again to more (and different) doctors for more tests, more procedures, more unknowns.  So, after all of this, we sit at a gas station in West Virginia to be given the diagnosis.  Right now, it is an answer (though not the one we wanted), that creates so many more questions.  The journey continues.

When Kristen got off the phone, we did not lose our cool.  I said “he has it.”  Kristen nodded, and we started a movie for the kids.  In our own bubble in the front of the car, with Scooby Doo muting our conversation, Kristen told me her conversation.  The most I remember from those several minutes were my impression that Shirley was kind in her delivery.  The type of kindness that we never wanted to have to face.  And hadn’t before.  She told Kristen that Henry would be a candidate for the Mitochondrial Clinic, and that we would have an appointment with the neurologist, geneticist, and a genetics counselor.  She also said not to despair – that everyone responds differently and that there could be development in the field.

Those later comments took me back to Dr. DeGraw (Henry’s neurologist) comment to me when I pressed him about prognosis – if Henry had a mitochondrial disease.  He told me not to research it, not to cross the bridge before we get there, that medicine is miraculous, but “to answer your question, the prognosis is not good.  There is no cure, and there are no survivors so far.”

The kids engrossed with Scooby, Kristen and I used the gas station parking lot as our internet library.  Both of us on our Blackberries, we went to the site that Shirley directed us to.  Like with many things, Kristen was faster than I.  At first, when she said “Complex 1,” I thought she said it is a “complex one” meaning difficult.  So, I am slow.  She grabbed my hand and said, it is neuro-degenerative and progressive.  Could result in hearing and vision loss – before the mulit-system failure.  The one we didn’t want to have – of course.  Essentially, Henry’s cells do not have the energy necessary to have his organs do what they need to do.  It is system wide, and with age, the energy drops more and more, affecting new systems in different ways, in no particular order.  The disease progresses until there is not enough energy for life function.  So, he will pass with this – unless our prayers are answered (and medicine comes a long way fast).  The fact that several of his systems have already been affected (called early onset) is not a great sign – just from a pure time standpoint.  The literature points out the obvious – the later the onset and the slower the progression, the longer the life expectancy.  But, it is all very individualized.  So, we are not defeated. 

After our internet café parking lot picked up with traffic, we got back on the road.  As tears streamed down her face, I could show no emotion.  My stomach was in knots, and I’m sure that my next questions seemed like what a medical student would ask a mentor – not a father of a sick son.  I asked, “Will he degenerate cognitively?” (as I can’t imagine our smart little boy in that state).  Then, I asked “What about Luke?”  Kristen knew the questions were almost rhetorical, and we just exchanged painful glances.

On the trip, for the first time, we both noticed (though we didn’t discuss for the week) that Henry was quite drained.  He refused to walk, saying he couldn’t for a few days.  The trooper was tired.  Many days, he was too tired to laugh.  Henry, too tired to laugh, was very painful for us.  It could be emphasized because we knew, but it was what it was. 

Our next discussions turned to what we have always come back to – making sure that our family is whole, happy, and complete.  The goal has never changed from the start.  We love our family so much, and are so lucky to have each other.  We are focused on giving all of our kids the most full (but “normal” – whatever that means) life that we can.  The kids are all very happy, and we plan to keep it that way.  There is a bit of an ominous burden in the back of our minds – that we want to make sure we know what full is (we think it is love), and the journey ahead and the time we have is uncertain.  As is whether Luke will also fall victim to the disease, or his recent symptoms (gastrointestinal, eye issues – and his hypothyroidism) are just coincidental.  So, we will take it one step at a time, get Henry his treatments (whatever they may be – there are some experimental ones out there), and cherish every day.

Of course, our story is not unlike many others.  Everyone has a challenge – some more difficult than others.  But, keeping perspective and the eye on the ball – providing the opportunity for a full and happy life (whatever its length) to our children is the lesson here.  I know that as well as anyone.

And the bottom line, our story is just the beginning. What we needed, got and continue to get, were specific ideas and ways to achieve these goals.  Not just the “be happy” goal.  We captured our ideas in starting a non-profit for kids like Henry – Henry’s Hope, Inc. – www.henryshope.org.  That was a specific and effective strategy – that, we as a family, work on.

Good parenting coaches provide specific ideas to try out (we don’t have the answers as there aren’t right and wrong in parenting) – but you deserve someone that has experienced a lot, fouled up, got help, and can provide kind, useful, and helpful insight into the issues we all face as parents.  Choosing to get the help – whether through a parenting coach or other means – is a brave and humbling act as a parent.  Call today for a free consult.

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In my coaching (and in my practice), we are driven by the bottom line results – whatever the goal may be – whether it is achieving balance between work and play, increasing revenue, becoming an equity partner, etc.  When it comes to bringing in new work, the results are easy to measure.   Either you got a piece of new work or you didn’t.

Good Lawyer Marketing Requires You To Set A Clear, Tangible Goal.

With all of my clients, we set many different goals in several different areas.  But the goals are never ambiguous, never easy to run away from.  There is always accountability.  As you know, without it, we keep with our big picture goals of “building my book,” “increasing revenue,” “achieving balance,” without any real or permanent progress.  That is because – just like our New Year’s resolutions (mine anyway), we have bitten off more than we can chew – without little steps, and without a little help.

To avoid this common problem, I often like to set the goal of getting a new piece of work in a week’s time.  (Of course, the bigger accomplishment from a bottom line view is the goal of getting a new client every 4 to 6 weeks, which I work with many of my clients on during the coaching process, as it is obviously more involved.)  This short term goal is helpful because it takes you actively through the marketing process in a shortened time frame, is pretty exhilarating when you achieve it (and you will), and it increases your revenue.

In my experience, though it sounds difficult, this is not as difficult to accomplish as one might think.  In fact, most lawyers (at all kinds of different levels) can succeed at it.  Then, why you ask, don’t people do it, and keep doing it?  I think it boils down to two reasons – first, as lawyers, we are overwhelmed with our day-to-day work and know that we have to “increase our book” but we have to do that “next week” or “next month.”  It seems daunting, overwhelming, and easy to put off.  Of course, as a coach, we make this a machine that is built in to your practice – requiring very little effort on your part – yes, effort, but not nearly as much as you are imagining right now.

Second, and pretty puzzling, we as lawyers are generally pretty nervous at failing, and don’t want to do one simple thing – just ask for the work.  Now, it is not a direct ask – generally – and requires timing and tact (okay so we all know someone that won’t be able to pull it off), but it is pretty simple when you change your mind set a bit. 

During our assessment and your coaching, we would determine what the best approach for you would be.  But for a vast majority of lawyers, I would ask you to think of a current client that is a mess (not personally – just in a business sense), and preferably one that you have recently achieved a good result for.  You may be handling a piece of litigation for them or a trademark, etc. – and you know they have a ton of other problems unrelated to what you’re doing.  Now, instead of that client’s litigator or IP lawyer, think of yourself as their business partner.  Your goal is to look out for their business, make it as profitable as possible, and avoid future exposure and expense.  So, of course, you are going to let the client know about what you have discovered, the negative impact that could have on their business (money – bottom line is what they care about), how the issue needs to be taken care of, and how you would suggest doing it.  Now, you might suggest that you can do it or a partner of yours – but you should always suggest an alternative method too (whether it be that you could find another lawyer for them or them handling it internally).  This impresses upon the client how you are looking out for them – not you.  And, they rarely, rarely take the alternative.  You will generally get the work.

There are a dozen other get work in one week methods that I employ, and I’m sure a few will fit for you – but the bottom line is you just have to do it – and you will succeed when you put your mind to it.  Then, we can tackle the bigger goals!   

Use An Experienced Lawyer Marketing Coach That Has Been Successful in Practice.

As you know, we advocate marketing coaches as a way to achieve this accountability, help you see the forest and the trees, and help you put steps in place to accomplish your goals.  When I built my business, my biggest successes were either while I was directly using a coach or while using steps that my coaches taught me.  But to truly understand what you need to do, and how you need to do it, you want someone that has the training and experience to get you there.  Not someone that teaches well, but can’t do (because not sure it that really exists).  In any event, when interviewing a coach, make sure you are hiring someone that knows the lingo and the challenges – someone who has encountered it and succeeded.

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Trapped by Life?

Do you feel trapped by your life?  Do you sense you are a product of the times finding it difficult to recognize your true self amidst the noise and stimulation of traffic, emails, work deadlines, and family?

Dan Pink acknowledges that we have left the Industrial Age and Entered a Conceptual Age.  What if instead we are entering a dark age?  The economy, the workplace, the political stage, your current state of mind all take its toll on your sense of self.

Do you have a minute to breathe or a few minutes each day to focus on yourself? Maggie Jackson discusses that the Erosion of Attention is heralding this new period in our civilization.

At the TED conference, Barry Schwartz discusses why too much choice is bad for us.
Too many choices cause:
1. Paralysis rather than liberation – people prefer to make no decision rather than make a complicated choice.
2. Less satisfaction with decisions as people have greater reason to regret the decisions they have made.
3. Unrealistic expectations.
4. Self-blame – when experiences are not perfect, people blame themselves.

Is it time to conduct an audit of your life?
A very wise manager once told me that every individual has a check for 24 hours and it is up to him or her how to choose to use it. Now, as you know, that is not necessarily true. We are all bound to our previous commitments. Yes, our commitment to our families and ourselves to maintain certain lifestyles. Have your true priorities been washed away by the current tides?

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has been researching the subject of being in flow for many years.

He defines flow as the process of achieving happiness through control over one’s inner life.
When you are in flow, you are focused on your highest priorities and life becomes easy and effortless. You are leveraging your natural self.

Using the 80/20 Principle, 20% of your critical priorities will yield 80% of your results. The question is how to identify your highest priorities? If you haven’t developed a personal strategic plan, it will be challenging to start this process. To make this easy, let’s first remember it’s not about managing your time, but your energy levels. Begin by answering the next few questions:
When is my peak time of day?  Morning, afternoon, or evening?  Or somewhere in-between?

Am I using my peak times to focus on activities that are most important to me?

Do I know how much true discretionary time I have in a week?

To get you started, let’s look at a typical week: 24 hours x 7 days = 168 hours.
To calculate how much actual discretionary time you actually have in 1 week:
1. Total the number of hours you are actually at work, include your commute time, and work you bring home.
2. Tally the average number of hours you sleep, notice if there are any differences on the weekends, to get your subtotal for the week.
3. Estimate the time you take to eat each day, include meal preparation, grocery shopping, restaurant dining, notice if there are any changes on weekends, to estimate time spent in 1 week.
4. Identify your scheduled and weekly time commitments to other activities, including, but not limited to working out, trips to the gym, church attendance, regular weekly family obligations (does not include relaxation or ad hoc activities – only routine scheduled activities are recorded here)
5. Now, subtotal your hours for the week and subtract from 168 hours. This is your total discretionary time available each week. Any surprises? Yes, you didn’t factor in rest and relaxation. But how many hours of each day do you actually squander or do they just escape in mindless activities that do not move you forward on your goals?

One Quick Tip:
– 1% of your time is 1.68 hours. Let’s round up to 2 hours a week or about 15 minutes per day.
– This coming week, try scheduling 15-minute appointments each day to focus on yourself and your highest priorities.

Are you ready to take this first step? Try it and see.

If you would like a more detailed audit of your life, try a free coaching consultation with Wanda Ropa, your success coach to get you started. Coaching can help you get clear about where you’re going with your career, or with your life so you can develop a strategic plan that really works for you.  With clarity, success becomes a natural outcome.

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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The guy who divorces his wife, gets a hot girlfriend and buys a red Corvette is a hoary but oft repeated stereotype of a man going through a midlife crisis. It’s unclear what comes first, the girlfriend or the sports car but that doesn’t really matter. I work with men going through mid life transitions and to my knowledge, not one of them owns a sports car. My ideal client is the guy who is a little afraid to ask for directions but he can do it. Hardly typical, I know.

Just about every man goes through some kind of mid life transition between the ages of 35 and 50. What they get out of it is entirely up to them but when they go through it is not often their choice. A mid life transition can be as gentle as feeling a little uncomfortable to a full blown identity crisis.

Let’s start with the full blown identity crisis shall we? A surprising number of men I work with claim that they do not feel like men at all. They feel like boys dressed in men’s clothing who act like men and who talk like they think men should talk. Somehow the line between childhood and being all grown up was never traversed. Men in this predicament have a very profound fear that they are going to be found out and exposed, as if someone will rip off their mask and find the scared boy masquerading in a suit and tie.

At some point these men/boys get fed up pretending and want to get real. The only problem is that they have been pretending so long, they have no idea how to be real or how to be a man. Typically, before they stop to ask for help they medicate their pain with drugs, alcohol, women, work, golf and just about anything that distracts them from the real issues.

So how does it happen that boys don’t turn into men? Just about every “primitive” society has initiation rites into manhood before boys are welcomed to join the tribe as a man. For instance, in Native American society, boys are sent on a spirit quest to find their purpose before being considered a warrior. If a boy isn’t initiated into manhood, he stays immature, hence a fascination with cars, sports figures, accumulation and ride on tractors, things a five year old could relate to.

Beyond trivial representations, modern society has no such customs. Getting a driver’s license, having a bar mitzvah, getting a credit card, being allowed to vote or having sex aren’t transformative. So boys become men in name only and somehow keep up the pretenses until they lose their sense of purpose often between 35 and 50. As most therapists, coaches and counselors are aware, before they seek help, most of their clients have to hit the wall, get stuck or become total wrecks. On top of that, most men just won’t ask for directions and consequently never seek help.

I realize that the men I work with are not a representative sample; it’s just my experience from where I stand. I’ve seen some incredible flowering of manhood, liberation from the tyranny of self-imposed restrictions, taking responsibility and freedom from negative thinking when boys claim their due. Some of the most dramatic results I’ve seen are in my men’s group where peer feedback, group trust and sharing combine to validate each other.

For a lot of men, being a boy meant death by a thousand cuts, often reflected in poor body image and low self esteem, presided over by distant, often alcoholic fathers, negligent mothers and other forms of more or less subtle abuse. Their wounds never heal until men feel they are in a safe environment where they can share their pain with each other. What they find is that, no matter what happened to them, where they grew up, what their family situation was, they have a hell of a lot in common and their current predicaments are pretty similar. They come to see that ripping off the mask isn’t such a big deal after all and in fact has to happen for their own growth.

So how does a boy grow into a man? Short of sending him to war, we can help boys become men in a therapeutic environment. There is something about the process of a man admitting all the little cuts of childhood to himself and his peers, getting support, being validated and encouraged to become more authentic that allows men to let go of the past and take responsibility for who they are and what they do. In a men’s group it comes through bonding but it can happen in a therapist’s office and in a marriage when both partners are open and unafraid. With responsibility comes maturity and the boy becomes a man.

So what can you do to help if a man you know who is going through a transition? Support him, help him open up and encourage him to ask for directions. Asking for directions might include joining a men’s group, seeing a therapist, coach or being open to talking in a fearless way with his peers. Remember, it’s not what you do but the work the man does that’s important. You can lead a horse to water and all that.

What will you see if you do? If you have a relationship with such a man you will find him becoming more real, taking more responsibility for his actions, more supportive, able to take support, more aware of his impact on others, able to be vulnerable, less neurotic, less anxious or angry. Remember, he may not know how to ‘be a man’ or be real so he may need some help. There is help out there and a lot of guys like him who are looking to connect.

As for the guy motoring into the sunset in his Porsche, well, on some level he’s decided there’s no point growing up. He’s taking the easy way out but the real value is discovering what’s inside and being willing to show it, not how many toys you have.

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Buffet Time Management

Published on August 6, 2010 by in Blog - Main Page

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You can usually spot a highly creative person because they are usually starting too many projects at once or often paralyzed. Time management frequently bedevils creative types. Whether it’s keeping focused on projects or just getting the stuff of life done, a bubbling cauldron of chaos is usually close at hand. Being creative myself, I’ve struggled with my own three-headed hydra: disorganization, distraction and bedlam. I’ve spent entire days wandering down blind alleys, doing things I really don’t have to do, goofing off and generally being unproductive. My meanderings come at the expense of doing things I say I really want to do, like writing this article. I developed a time management system that works for me and it might work for you. My system is like being at buffet, taking bit of this, doing a bit of that so at the end of the week you have some made some semblance of progress and you feel satisfaction, like after a good meal. If this sounds like something you need in your life, read on…

Benefits:
The Buffet system is practical and flexible, yet simple. It not only keeps me focused on what I have to do, I easily manage multiple projects and goals and have the action steps to get me there. A secondary benefit is that it gives me is a sense of satisfaction that comes from feeling like I am in control of my time (excellent for keeping moping at bay). A third and for me, the most important advantage is that it keeps me productive while maintaining enough flexibility to be creative. A fourth benefit is that it helps keep me in balance, a dicey proposition at the best of times. Fifthly, I can easily pick out my priorities when I have them laid out in front of me.

Structuring Time (or not):
Many people try to manage their time by getting structured, slotting in as much as they can in a day with their phone or computer dinging before every meeting. This might work for some people who feel they need a scary load of structure to be productive. In my experience being over-structured doesn’t work for creative types. Too much structure sinks the creative ship. One solution is to make lists. Lists are fine for the grocery store but unless you build in accountability and focus, they generally aren’t much help in planning your week. The Buffet method is excellent for maintaining progress toward your goals while staying open, flexible and creative. The system is bendy enough to give you flexibility to select what you feel like in a particular moment as long as it’s on the list.

Confession:
Before we go too much further, I have to confess my assumptions and biases. First of all, I believe everyone is creative, whether you like it or not. Some people have been told they are not creative and sadly they believed it. Working as a creativity coach, I know this to be true. Anyone can benefit from the Buffet Time Management System if you are open minded enough to try it. Secondly I know that creativity flourishes when there is enough structure to support it, yet it dies a rapid death when there is too much structure. The Buffet system is a simple and flexible enough container to support my creative process and it can support yours too.

Solution:
I enjoy making lists because it feels like I’m getting organized and taking a step toward actually doing things (which doesn’t always happen). What seemed to be missing is having over-arching goals that provide a clear focus for my action steps. So each week I find time to review my goals and projects and see what is coming at me next week. I do this on Sunday because it’s usually a quiet day with few obligations but you can do it any time as long as you keep up a regular schedule. I take a piece of paper but you can use a personal organizer, there is nothing magical about paper; my system works in any media. I write down all my goals, projects and aspects of my life that I need to keep balanced. My goals look like this:
House
Work
Family
Self
Friends
Creative Week Project
TV proposal
These are the goals and projects I’m juggling this week. Now comes the fun part. I think of what action steps I need to take in order to maintain a balance and move all these goals forward. Your set will undoubtedly look different. Note: If you are the sort of person who has a tendency to neglect your own needs, you want to make sure Self is on the list. “Self “for me, generally means how I support myself (more about that later).

List:
Now make a list down the left hand side of the sheet. This is where you write your action steps for each goal/project. If you extrapolate each goal and project into a few steps you can reasonably do this week you will have a nice step of steps for your week as well as an intention to work toward that goal. The essential thing to remember is to break each goal into actionable steps; so you don’t write DO TAXES on the list. Doing your taxes would be a project with a number of small steps unless you are the sort of person who hands your accountant a shoe box full of receipts, in which case” Taking shoe box to accountant” is your action step. I’ve left some room at the bottom right for phone calls I need to make in a week, but you could use it for anything else like sending emails, following up, doing research, and so on. Download a free template at: http://giantstepscoaching.com/articles/buffettemplate.pdf

An Example of Self Neglect:
As I mentioned, I tend to neglect my needs. Exercising is one activity that slips off my plate. So one of my action steps is to join the Y. I also have to do the laundry and shopping this week so I will remember to slot them in. I have made a note to write this article and as you may have noticed, I am busy doing it right now. I don’t always leave time to read so I have granted myself quality time with a good book. This is how I use the system to help me stay balanced. I don’t forget about my own needs and put other needs before them.

Using an Agenda:
If you use an agenda (which I think is essential), the next step is to pencil in a few of the larger items in the big spaces and use your list of smaller things as a buffet table when you only have small chunks of time. Look for list items that are time-sensitive and make sure you get those done on the right day. As some items are higher priority than others, they will jump out at you. Make sure you get them done first. If something important comes up during the week, add it to the list so you don’t forget about it. If your agenda is too full to accommodate the buffet, then my system won’t help you. I could recommend some good therapists.

Having your cake and eating it too:
The idea is to get as much of your list crossed off by the end of the week. It’s important to remember that you only have so much time so don’t crowd your plate. This is how the system is like a buffet. Pace yourself; don’t be greedy, although if you are clever you can still have two desserts. Slow and steady wins the race. If you are finding you are finished your list before the end of the week, you probably have more time than you think and you can afford to generate more items. Cross off anything you get done. Items that are still not done at the end of the week should be added to your list next week. If I have a particularly unstructured day I like to make a sub-list of things I want to achieve that day. With a teensy bit of effort, you can be more productive and still be creative.

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