Your Failure is Not Fatal

Failure is not fatal, but a failure to change might be.”

John Wooden

Years ago, there was a young man named Ron who graduated from College with the goal of becoming the manager of a major department store in his home town. He was a successful college athlete, so he figured that he would apply for the open Sporting Goods Department Manager position. He left the interview with a good feeling about his chances of getting hired. 

Later that week he received a call from the hiring manager letting him know that he did not get the job. Ron was devastated. He told his mother what happened and she said, “Well son, maybe there is another plan for your life.” 

As it turns out, the plan was bigger than either of them could have imagined. The young man in the story is Ronald Reagan and many historians believe that, had he gotten the position he was seeking, he many have never become President. His failure was not fatal. 

“The faster you let it go, the faster you grow.”
Are you still holding on to a failure from your past? As your Procrastination Prevention Partner, I have discovered that an incorrect perspective on failure is one of the main causes of procrastination. Selling professionals with a goal of making six figures delay making their sales calls because a previous transaction did not go as planned. 

Business owners, who complain about not having any free time, refuse to hire their replacement because they remember the bad hiring decision they made in the past. The selling professional and business owner have one thing in common: their actions do not align with their aspirations because of how they view their failures. So how do you move forward and achieve your goals in spite of your painful past? 

Lessons Learned List
I have developed a habit of making a “lessons learned list” whenever I experience a setback. I use the memo app on my phone to list everything that I learned from the experience. The list of positive benefits is always longer than I expect. I can attribute many of my current successes to this process. 

For example, after some of my keynote speeches, people come up to me and say, “Eric, I am terrified at the thought of public speaking, but you are a natural.” The only reason I appear to be a natural is because of what I have learned from my many failures. The engagements that did not go as planned gave me the necessary experience for future achievement. Failure is the secret to my success! 

Just like Ronald Regan, you can use failure as a stepping stone to greatness. If you commit to making a lessons learned list, you will have the right perspective on your pain. You may not get an airport named after you, but you can still fly to the next level! 

Sincerely, 
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS. For additional information on how to overcome procrastination, download my ebook.

The Timesaving “Key” To Your Success

What got you here won’t get you there.”

- Marshall Goldsmith

I have a habit that drives my wife crazy. When traveling, I accidentally keep the room keys to the hotels. Being the creature of habit that I am, I tend to stay at the Hampton Inn whenever possible. On a recent trip I decided to conduct an experiment. 

I attempted to use the Hampton Inn key from my previous stay in the door of my current hotel. I slid the key and was disappointed that it did not work. The problem was that I was trying to go through a new door with an old key! If you have ever tried to get to the next level by doing what got you to where you are, you can relate to this experience. What then is the key to your success that will save time? 

Who, Why, What
Whenever I get to a new level, I ask myself three questions:

  1. Who is currently on that level that has the results that I want?
  2. Why are they successful?
  3. What do they do that I can duplicate to get the same results?

For example, early in my career I received a promotion to District Manager of a national automotive chain with responsibility over 16 stores. The district assigned had a history of poor customer satisfaction and always ranked at the bottom of the organization in this category. 

Initially, I attempted to solve the problem by doing what made me successful as single unit manager. This resulted in several weeks of frustration and embarrassment as our customer service scores ranked last in the company! I was so frustrated that I scheduled a meeting with my boss to ask him what he thought I could do to improve. 

Instead of answering my questions, my boss asked me the following: “Who has the best customer service results in the company? Why is he successful? What does he do that you could duplicate in your District?" 

After this conversation, I contacted the top performing district manager and discovered that we were doing many of the same things to improve customer service. However, there was one method of communication that he was using with his team that I had been neglecting. Although it seemed minor, I decided to give it a try. Once I implemented his strategy, my district went from dead last, to well above the national average in customer service results within three weeks! 

Asking the Who-Why-What questions were the keys that took me to the next level. Remember, what got you here won’t get you there! If you know of someone that needs the “key”, please forward this post using the share buttons at the bottom of this post. 

Sincerely,
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS. For more information that will help you to save time, download my ebook.

Do Not Submit If It Does Not Fit

“It is better to say NO to an opportunity that is not the right fit, than to say YES for political reasons.”

Success breeds opportunity, but not every opportunity is the right fit. The ability to demonstrate competency and deliver results at one level does not guarantee success at the next. It is better to say NO to an opportunity that is not the right fit, than to say yes for political reasons. The following true story from my past clarifies the point. 

Several years ago, I worked for a regional manager named Robert.  He was the shining star of the company with responsibility for over 100 retail locations in the New England region.   He won numerous awards for his sales and profit results, and had a reputation for being highly competent.  Robert was approached by senior level management and asked to take over the Washington, DC region, which was known to be very difficult and had been underperforming for many years.  He accepted the position and relocated his family. 

Unfortunately, Robert was not a fit for the new assignment.  He did well in New England because he inherited a team of seasoned managers that needed minimal direction.  The DC region required someone who was skilled at turning around failing organizations and recruiting good managers.  Robert did not posses these skills and struggled to keep up.  He was eventually fired for poor performance. 

The added stress impacted his personal life and contributed to him getting divorced from his wife.  This is a sad example of what can happen when you fail to evaluate a potential opportunity to determine if it is a fit. There is one key to making sure that you don’t end up in a position that is not right for you. 

Know Yourself
American psychologist Abraham Maslow said: “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself."  The key to knowing yourself is to have a realistic picture of where you are. Recently, I had an experience in the mall that illustrates this point. 

I went to the mall last week in search of a gift for my young daughter.   I could not find the toy store so I went to the map at the center of the mall. On the map I saw in big letters “YOU ARE HERE”. I also saw that there was another store closer to me that sold toys than the one I originally planned to shop.  Based on where I was, this was a better fit for me.  This experience taught me that knowing where you are is essential to getting the opportunity that is the best fit for you. 

Knowing “where” you are is not just a reference to your physical location.  By where, I am referring to your personality as it relates to the potential opportunity.  For example, Type “A”, driver personalities don’t fit well in positions that require extensive research and data analysis.  Analytical personalities are not a natural fit for positions that involve leading large groups of people.  My supervisor Robert was an analytical personality type, which contributed to the challenges that I mentioned previously. 

If you do not know your personality type, resources like Wonderlic and Myers Briggs offer tests that can help you find out. They can also help you to identify opportunities that are the best fit based on your test results. 

By making sure potential opportunities are a fit for you BEFORE you say YES, you will maximize your time and minimize your stress.

Address the Root; Not the Result

"It’s not the towering sail but the unseen wind that moves the ship."

Asian Proverb

Back in my childhood days, I would help my parents by working in the backyard on the weekends.  They provided me with a set of clippers that I used to trim the bushes closest to the house. One day, I came across a weed growing nearby. In an effort to be helpful, I used the clippers to cut the weed so that it was no longer visible. I was proud of myself for eliminating this eye sore in an otherwise beautiful lawn. After several weeks, I was disappointed when I saw that the weed had grown back. The reason the weed grew back was that I failed to cut it at the root. I only dealt with what I saw on the surface. 

Procrastination is like that weed in the backyard. What you see on the surface is not the total picture. The consistent delay and constant lateness represent the surface. If the root cause is not addressed, this habit will continue to appear. Today you will learn the most common root cause of procrastination from my experience and what you can do to deal with it. 

Perfectionism
The root of perfectionism will delay you from beginning a project until you have ALL of the answers.  Everything has to be perfect before the perfectionist gets started.  Sometimes the key to success is to start moving from where you are, and as you move the answers will come.   The solution to perfectionism is to break your major projects down into small and actionable next steps.  As you approach the project, the question you should ask is “What is the next action?” 

For example, if your project is writing a book, the next action may be to select a title.   If you are cleaning the garage, the next action may be to create a throw away pile.   If you are hiring a new employee, the next action may be to create an employment ad.  Each action will put you one step closer to your goal.   The most important aspect of the next action is that it is an observable behavior that is specific.  The following test will help you to determine if your action is specific enough:

Picture Test

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If you can take a picture of yourself performing the action, you will know that the action is specific enough. You can take a picture of yourself creating an ad, throw away pile or book title so they each pass the test. Vague steps like trying harder, doing better, and working on it, do not pass the test.

Eliminating perfectionism through clear and observable action steps will help you to address procrastination at its root and improve your results. 

Sincerely,
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner 

PS. I am finalizing the world’s most comprehensive e-book on time management for executives and entrepreneurs. Please send me an e-mail with your most pressing time management concern. I will send you a free copy of the e-book as a thank you gift.

Address Your Blind Spots

“The difference between winning and losing is how you deal with your blind spot.”

I am a huge fan of the National Football League. The most recognized, and highest paid player on each team is the quarterback. If Tom Brady, the quarterback of the New England Patriots were to show up at your favorite restaurant, everyone would know that he was in the building. If the man who plays the position of left tackle stopped by, he would go unnoticed. 

I would argue that the left tackle is the most valuable player on the field because he is responsible for protecting the quarterback’s blind spot. He blocks would be tacklers that the quarterback cannot see. Even though the average fan can’t name the left tackle, this player is the second highest paid on the team. The coach realizes that the difference between winning and losing is how he deals with the blind spot. Before I discuss how to deal with yours, let’s get clear on a definition of the blind spot. 

What is a Blind Spot?
A blind spot is a personal flaw that is invisible to you, but visible to others. Everyone has at least one, but not everyone has the systems in place to manage them. Poor blind spot management can cause you to lose time and fail to achieve your desired outcomes. 

For example, if I have a flaw in my keynote speech delivery, the organization that I am presenting to may not invite me back and I may never know why. If I have the right systems in place, I can find out and make the necessary adjustment. As an entrepreneurial executive, what systems can you put in place to effectively deal with your blind spot? 
 

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360 Degree Feedback Surveys
A 360 degree feedback survey is a tool that gives people at every level of the organization an opportunity to give feedback on how they perceive their supervisor. Years ago, I was a young executive in charge of 500 employees and 17 retail locations. We were having a record-setting year in sales and profits and I received several awards for our performance. My boss and the senior level executives showered me with praise at our national meetings. 

I was shocked when I got the results of a survey of my subordinates. Many of them thought that I was too demanding and critical in my communication style. This survey made me aware of my blind spots and has shaped the way I lead and communicate today. If you implement a 360 degree feedback system in your organization, you can experience a similar result. 

Three Ups and Three Downs
As a result of the survey feedback, I began having monthly meetings with my team. At the end of each meeting I conducted my own informal survey. I handed out blank sheets of paper and asked my managers to evaluate me using the three ups three downs system. They would list three positive aspects (ups) of my leadership and three things that they would like me to change (downs). This was an anonymous survey so there was no fear in giving feedback. This saved me a great deal of time and stress because it helped me to do more of what was working and eliminate what was not. I use this method today whenever I deliver a workshop or keynote address. 

If you implement the 360 degree survey system and the three ups and three downs, you will maximize your time and minimize your stress. You can also use the surveys to get feedback from your customers and clients. If you are a team of one or one thousand, these systems will protect your blind spot like a great left tackle! 

Sincerely,
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner