A Grown-up Version of Fun

Contributed by Debby Stone.

holiday-fun“What do you consider fun?”  I posed this question to a client recently in a coaching appointment and she had trouble answering.  For most of us, as adults, fun is an elusive concept, and it is often easier for us to put a finger on what is not fun than what is.

I borrowed the question “What do you consider fun?” from a line in the song “Genius of Love” by the Tom Tom Club.  The song was popular many years ago and has recently resurfaced in Target commercials.  Back when the song was popular and played on the radio, fun was simple for most of us.  We were young.  We knew what fun was and what it looked like to have fun.

It was fun to ride your bike downhill without braking.  You could feel the speed and the wind in your hair.  That was fun!  It was fun to go to a friend’s birthday party, eat cake and ice cream and play games.  It was fun to play with a favorite toy.  Fun almost always involved smiles, laughter and feelings of outright glee.  Sometimes it even showed itself through screams or squeals of delight.

Now that we are grown ups, fun is more difficult to define.  Can work be fun?  Is it possible to have fun without laughing or even smiling?  As children, fun was outward focused and typically depended upon circumstances beyond our control.

As adults, fun is often a by-product of something deeper.  We can find that we are having fun while achieving a goal, engaging in fulfilling work or honoring a deeply held value.  Nowadays most of the fun we have comes without squeals of joy.

Since it is often difficult for us as adults to know when we are having fun, I want to issue a challenge to you to begin to consciously look at this concept.  How do you define fun?  How do you know something is fun?

Begin by reflecting on what you do that absorbs you so much that you don’t notice the passage of time.  Chances are you are having fun in those moments.  Also notice what brings you contentment and joy.  Start to keep a log of joyful moments.  A pattern may emerge that points you in the direction of activities where fun can be found.

Also, notice your own reactions.  When you are having fun, are you feeling relaxed or intense?  Note the times when you finish something or leave somewhere and say out loud, “I am glad I did that.”  Consider the circumstances of those activities.  What are you doing?  Are you with other people or alone?  What was enjoyable about those moments?

There are many factors that influence fun and adult fun has many faces.

Since it is no longer the simple equation it was when we were kids, if we want to amp up our enjoyment of life, it is important that we examine the question “What do you consider fun?”

Positively Delivering Constructive Feedback

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Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

We are approaching the season of performance reviews and feedback. If you manage people, you will likely be called upon to evaluate those you lead. How will you deliver feedback? The tone and temperament with which you give feedback will significantly influence your brand among your bosses, subordinates and peers.

Recently, at the Decatur Book Festival, I had the opportunity to see two authors, my colleague, Debby Stone (The Art of Self Promotion – Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career) and Sandy Jap (Partnering with the Frenemy – A Framework for Managing Business Relationships, Minimizing Conflict, and Achieving Partnership Success) who articulated important aspects of feedback in their panel on Crucial Conversations. As the authors navigated the topics of effective self-promotion and the dark side of business relationships and the individuals who drive them, a recurring theme came through. Simply put, the question was, “how do I positively communicate the negative?” In essence, what are some ways to effectively navigate and communicate feedback in challenging workplace relationships and environments?

As you might have guessed, this is easier said than done, and we all can think of situations we have been in where we wished we had given feedback better.

You probably have heard the phrase, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.” While this sounds like good advice at first glance, if your goal is to provide others with meaningful and actionable feedback, in reality, this advice is not going to be valuable. Providing high impact feedback requires these key ingredients:

1. Go in with the intent to help the employee’s growth and development, not the intent to show the individual what is wrong. The feedback should build up, not drain, the employee’s motivation and resources for change. Communicate in a manner that builds confidence.

2. When preparing for a feedback conversation, reflect on what you hope to achieve and on what impact you’d like to have on the employee – their takeaway. Practice this!

3. Openness and authenticity on the part of the feedback giver is critical to creating a connection that facilitates change. If you start off accusatory, dominating and self-protective, your employee will match that energy. Model a presence and demeanor that is worth imitating so your employee can internalize this grace and in turn model it throughout the organization.

4. Invite the employee into the problem-solving process. You can ask questions such as: What ideas do you have? What are you taking away from this conversation? What steps will you take, by when, and how will I know? Powerful questions that encourage ownership on the part of the receiver of feedback have a profound impact on accountability.

Giving feedback – positively communicating the negative – is a critical skill to master. Effective mastery and modeling by leaders can make the difference between an employee who contributes powerfully and positively to the organization and one who feels diminished by the organization and contributes far less or leaves. Remember, a single conversation can switch an employee on or shut the individual down. As Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Consciously Creating Your Next Career Chapter

Contributed by Debby Stone.

Is the role you are in now the product of a well thought-out career plan or did you arrive at your current position through happenstance?  Have you ever given conscious thought to what you would most like to do?   If you could magically wake up on Monday and be doing something else, would you?  What would that something else be?

These are the questions our clients often explore with us during our coaching engagements.  When someone approaches Novateur for career coaching, we initially ask “how satisfied are you with your current role?  On a scale of 0-10 where zero is ‘I hate my job so much that I am going to quit as soon as we are through with this conversation’ and ten is ‘I love my job so much that I jump out of bed each morning and skip all the way to work,’ on average, what is your current satisfaction level?”

Constant Contact Do What You LoveMost of the people I talk with say that they are somewhere between a 5 and 7, but you’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at the number who say that their satisfaction level is a 2 or 3 on that 0-10 scale.  When you were in school, was a score of 5 out of 10 or 70 out of 100 acceptable?  No, I didn’t think so.  In fact, I bet that any grade less than an 80% was disappointing.  That’s a “B” and anything less is “average,” “below average” or “failing.”

Given that we spend the bulk of our waking lives at work, why should any of us settle for average or below average satisfaction?  We work 5, 6 or even 7 days each week and put in 8, 10 and sometimes 12 hour days.  We check email constantly and worry about projects, deadlines and expectations.  If we are going to give so much of ourselves to our careers, shouldn’t we be striving for an “A” or a “B” at work?

I believe that those of us who have the education and the financial means to choose our work have an obligation to consciously choose to be engaged in work that is satisfying at an “8” or above.  When work is satisfying, we make a greater contribution, we feel more fulfilled and we have more energy left at the end of the day for the rest of our lives.  When we are satisfied in our careers, we can bring more of ourselves to work, to our families and to everything we do.

When I was younger, I often heard people say that they loved their jobs and I thought they were full of it.  At that point, I had not held a full-time job that I loved and did not believe that it was possible to have a satisfying career.  As I got older (and wiser) I realized that it is indeed possible to have a career that satisfies me, and as a coach, I know that it is possible for you too.  While no job or role is perfect, it is possible to find a career that regularly brings you satisfaction at an 8 (or better) out of 10 on the scale.

While some people find their ideal career path without a plan, for most of us, a concrete plan is required.  We need to look at our values, our goals, our strengths, our skills, our passions and our natural abilities.  And we do all that in the course of a career coaching engagement.  We also spend time considering the practical aspects of finding work that you love – from finances to roadmaps.  Once you figure out what you want to do, how do you get from where you are now to that new role?

I challenge you to consider your own current level of career satisfaction.  If you find that you are working in a role that does not satisfy you, I encourage you to consider consciously creating your next chapter.   Being pro-active about your career path is a bold step.  I hope you will act boldly and accept the challenge!

 

We would love to hear from those of you who have already taken the bold steps toward consciously creating a more satisfying career.  Tell us your stories of transition and how you made the changes to live a more satisfying life.

Leadership Agility: A Key Component to Career Success

Submitted by Dan Sheedy.

Leadership AgilityLeadership Agility is a hot concept we have been seeing, hearing and reading more about over the past several years. In today’s complex, unpredictable, volatile and fast-paced business environment leaders are expected to handle anything and everything that is thrown their way. This environment demands a leader who is flexible, adaptable and skilled at managing diverse objectives, strategies, people and priorities without sacrificing performance or results.

In fact, many thought leaders say that leadership agility is the key ingredient that will define the next generation of leaders – no longer an optional ability but a necessary competency to master for sustained success. Significantly, the growing body of research into the topic has estimated that only 10% of leaders and managers have mastered the level of agility necessary to achieve consistent effectiveness and navigate today’s volatile environment. Put simply, Leadership Agility is the ability to anticipate or adapt and learn from unpredictable circumstances and environments in ways that benefit yourself and others. In seeking to better understand the concept and development of leadership agility, I turned to some research conducted jointly by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) and Columbia University to provide a framework for initial consideration. Their work looks at four factors that enable agility and one factor that impedes agility.

Enablers:

Innovating– This enabler involves questioning the status quo and challenging long held assumptions with the goal of finding new ways and processes to bring about change. Innovators have high idea productivity and migrate towards challenges and knowledge expansion. Are you someone who challenges the status quo in developing strategies or seeking solutions to organizational problems?

Performing– This enabler centers on learning from experience while remaining present and engaged in the face of adapting to the ambiguity of the environment. This factor requires excellent observation and listening skills, combined with the ability to process large amounts of data and nimbly act upon it. Are you able to meet the challenges of an unknown, shifting environment but learn new skills in the process to apply in the future?

Reflecting– This enabler considers the fact that just because you have an experience doesn’t mean you have learned from it. This factor focuses on your ability to seek, take and accept feedback; processing this information to gain greater insight into your own assumptions and behavior. Do you confidently seek feedback about your work or actions regarding how you have performed or affected outcomes in your organization?

Risking– The final enabler is that of taking risks. Risking involves putting yourself out there into the unknown, out of your comfort zone. This is pioneering or volunteering to take on a role that doesn’t have known outcomes or success attached. This component is the ability to take progressive, calculated risks that can change the trajectory of you and your organization. What are your thoughts when considering risk? Laura Overstreet Biering’s, The RiskADay Journal: 28 Days to Being You Out Loud with Courage, Creativity and Confidence offers a great tool kit to get you started on thinking about and developing this enabler.

Impeder:

Defending– This impeder is the inability to be open and accepting of experience. Such openness is fundamental to learning. Some individuals become closed, shut down or become defensive when given critical feedback or when they are challenged. Defending gets in the way of the enabling behaviors listed above since it stifles learning. Additionally, it has also been characterized as a potential career derailer (behaviors that cause individuals not to be promoted or to stall out for long periods in their careers) in work conducted CCL.

As an agile leader you can take your team and your company from good to great. Individuals with leadership agility are focused, confident and driven to lead. While it is true that not all of the factors are always exhibited all at once, it is believed that all must be present for an individual to be considered an agile leader.

So what can you do to develop leadership agility? Practice! Be curious. Listen. Reflect. Ask for feedback. Break out of your comfort zone thinking and take a calculated risk. These are all steps that can help you succeed in a business environment that rewards the focused, fast and flexible – the agile. Are you ready?

Tell Your Story in the Fourth Quarter and Beyond

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

calendar-97868_1280As the fourth quarter comes to a close all of us have a measure of excitement, angst and transition in our work lives. Year-end sales goals, projects, performance reviews, promotions and career transitions dominate our thinking. The theme I hear across all of these scenarios is, “How do I tell my story?” “How do I tell my story so that my business development efforts succeed?” “How do I tell my story so that my performance is recognized and valued in the organization?” “How do I tell my story so that I can transition to a new role in my company or with a new organization?”

Effective storytelling is a theme that unites the people who advance in their chosen careers. Career advancement isn’t based solely on luck or education. Those whose careers are on an upward trajectory know how to tell their stories effectively. They know how to self-promote.

Self-promotion is an often talked about but mostly misunderstood differentiator in what makes careers successful. People tend to go to one extreme or the other. On one end you have the braggart or arrogant person whose bravado turns off anyone who might want to help, build or change that person’s career. On the other end is the timid or unaware person who has so much difficulty telling his story that most would not even think he was trying to advance his career. I have talked to many leaders who believe self-promotion to be a key ingredient to career success. How they developed it, however, was a mystery until now.

The Art of Self-PromotionMy colleague, Debby Stone, tackles the subject in her new book, The Art of Self-Promotion: Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career. Stone’s work provides a framework and actionable suggestions that enable professionals at any level to develop an engaging, authentic self-promotion story — a story that interests everyone they encounter including peers, bosses, prospects and clients. Importantly, she defines the fundamentals of self-promotion: What it is – Telling your story, confidence, positivity, authenticity, creating curiosity; and What it is not – Selling yourself, putting on a persona, arrogance, bragging, embellishing the truth.

She starts with looking at the mindsets (mostly negative) we have regarding self-promotion. She then challenges us and gives us tools to shift these mindsets and get past the negative images (the over-promoter) and roadblocks (it’s uncomfortable) that self-promotion holds for so many professionals. The takeaway for everyone is a confidence that moves us beyond the flawed beliefs that everything will work out fairly, that our good work will speak for itself and that self-promotion is socially unacceptable.

The bottom line is we have to tell our stories effectively to achieve the success we desire. Most likely we are not nearly as effective as we think we are. To master the art of self-promotion we must shift our mindsets and adopt the “mindsets of the masters” as Stone puts it. I encourage you to explore the core beliefs of these masters so you can be prepared to position your efforts and achieve results – not only in the fourth quarter but in the years to come!

Building Character, Spotlighting Integrity

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

Tree ShadowCharacter and Integrity rarely grow when everything in life goes our way.  Instead it is our response to life’s challenges that forges our character and spotlights our integrity. I used both character and integrity here because the need for both shows up in our lives every day.  They are not the same thing.  While the words are often used interchangeably, knowing and living the difference can have a powerful effect on how we show up every day and ultimately how we lead.

Think about it.  What happens to your character when things don’t go as planned?”  How do you react when the pressure is on, when you have to perform or when you feel you are under attack? Have you ever “cut a corner” on a project, or justified a behavior because everyone else does it?   Your responses to these situations in life are what refines and defines your character and spotlights your integrity.

The word integrity evolved from the Latin word integer, meaning whole or complete. Used in this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” we have, deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency.  It literally means having “wholeness,” just as an integer is a “whole number” with no fractional parts.  Integrity has to do with what or how you do things.  Having integrity means having excellence in what you do and doing the right thing in a reliable way.

Integrity is a trait that we admire.   In fact, if you look at the mission, vision, or values statements that corporations post on their websites, you’ll notice that many companies include a statement about integrity.  Look at the website of the organization in which you work.  Is the word integrity in there somewhere?

While integrity is important, it is not the same as character.  What is the difference?  There are millions of people all over the world who are excellent in what they do, and even do great things. They show integrity, but they may or may not have character.   Character is who you are.  It defines you and guides your actions, hopefully in a positive way. A person of character is a person who not only lives right in front of other people, but lives right when no one else is looking.

Integrity focuses on the outward appearance; my actions and my works represent who I am.   Think again of the mission, vision or values statements- all outward focused.  Integrity is very important but the reality is that all of us face integrity-based choices regularly. Do we tell customers everything about our products? Do we reveal everything during due diligence? Is it acceptable to hide certain aspects of our background in a resume? What’s considered a legitimate expense on a business trip? How much of what you call billable time is really devoted to a client? How honest should you be when giving feedback to your boss or subordinate? None of these situations has clear answers.  No corporate policy covers every situation. The result is that no matter what choice we make, we convince ourselves that our choice was made with integrity.  But were these decisions of “good character?”

Character focuses on the inward condition. The word is derived from the ancient Greek word “charaktêr,” meaning an impression in a coin.  It later became a term used to describe how we differentiated one thing from another, ultimately coming to represent the qualities that define and differentiate a person.   Character means that who I am determines what I do. It is often said that building character is a project that is never complete.

Character is not situational and building character takes time — carving out an unwavering ethical and moral strength of the individual, as well as attributes and abilities that will ultimately correspond to life choices.  If we pursue and build character, integrity will be a natural byproduct of the way we live. Simply put, if I am a person of character then I will naturally be a person of integrity.  Integrity-based choices will become easier to navigate.  Abraham Lincoln had this view of character when he said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

So, how do you react when things don’t go as planned?  When you are under fire?  When the pressure is on to perform or an unclear corporate policy is your only guide?  I challenge you to build your character thought by thought and action by action, putting a spotlight on your integrity.  This is a bright light that can illuminate you as a person and shine at all levels of your organization – a beacon of ethical leadership others will seek to emulate.

What will you do today to make this happen?

Realistically Positive: Growth Isn’t Always Linear

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

Rear View SunsetAs I drove on a stretch of open road the other day listening to Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer,” I thought about where I am going in my career and in my life. How am I growing, both professionally and professionally? Through the vision created in that song (for me a vision of driving somewhere along the Pacific Coast Highway at sunset with a breeze), I was reminded that we have a big windshield to see where we are now and the future down the road and a small rear view mirror for looking at the past.

With 2015 over halfway behind you, now might be just the right time to look out of your front windshield and see where you’re going while staying mindful of the rearview mirror and what you’ve learned along the way. What you will likely discover is that the plan you put in place—the realistically positive goals, resolutions and promises to yourself—don’t look exactly as you envisioned. For every peak, there’s been a valley. For every leap forward, there’s been a stumble backward—sometimes just an inch, and other times, what seems like miles. The plan you envisioned, your growth, hasn’t been linear. In fact, it has the zig zag of “two steps forward, one step back.”

“Two steps forward, one step back” is usually a negative term to describe someone who is having trouble making progress. I like to think of it as forward motion and a primary ingredient in the sauce of life. Forward motion propelling our bodies and minds to grow steadily toward the future we desire. It means progress, not perfection. It means that instead of grumbling or feeling guilty about a misstep, you can still come out ahead by putting your head down and push forward. Oswald Chambers, an early 20th century teacher/evangelist understood this motion when he said, “If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead.” Two steps forward, one step back.

John Quincy Adams further captured the forward motion of growth when he said, “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” Everything about stepping forward with patience and perseverance, in both the figurative and literal sense, offers positive implications. No matter how many obstacles you run into, what matters is that you’re able to overcome each of them, one at a time. Two steps forward, one step back.

But is this attitude realistic? Of course it is! It’s often in our struggles that we stretch and come to better understand ourselves. They’re part of the forward motion of the growth process—not a departure from it. We grow when we do our best to learn from and move beyond our challenges instead of obsessing over them and making ourselves feel stuck. We grow when we put our challenges in the rear view mirror.

When we combine a positive future outlook with the obstacles of reality and the challenges these obstacles present, we become able to be more selective in the pursuit of our goals and confident in our growth.The peaks and valleys and leaps and stumbles become less daunting. “Two steps forward, one step back” becomes a way to measure the non-linear nature of our growth. A forward motion we all experience and one I would challenge you to embrace.

What will you do today to make this happen?

The Payoff Principle: A Lifetime of Payoffs

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

Imagine yourself creating a lifetime of payoffs: happiness, success, significance – a life of abundance, both personally and professionally. We all want it! We all want to become producers. We all want to be that person who makes things happen by design rather than default.

In this column, I’ve spent the past month exploring the components of Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s formula The Payoff Principle (Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff) and the mindset change needed to move from “good enough” to extraordinary. As a refresher, The Payoff Principle works like this: “When you find purpose in what you do, exhibit passion for the outcome, and master the process to make it happen, you produce the payoffs you want, need and deserve.” You become a producer.

American psychiatrist Scott Peck said in The Road Less Traveled, “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you won’t do anything with it.” The key to getting the formula to work for you and getting what you really want is valuing yourself and your time. Then you must do something with it by taking action.

Taking action means integrating all three components into your life. No half-efforts will work. Your level of success will be determined by your level of effort. Why? Think of someone you know (it might be you) who works really hard, puts in long hours, but has no purpose in his life. A person with no clearly defined purpose is usually unsatisfied, unfulfilled and meanders thru life, putting in time versus valuing time.

What about a person with great vision and dreams but little enduring passion. Without the attitude, perseverance, and character required of the fire of passion, the flame burns out and she will quit before she can experience the payoffs she seeks.

Finally, what about the person who is intentional and has the drive but lacks process, the tools that turn intention and drive into reality? Without process results don’t come because we are not learning, communicating and listening. We’re always chasing the next great idea. Think of it as the “grass is greener” mindset. That mentality has us neglect watering our own garden. Ultimately this leads to regret and “if only I had…” in our professional and personal lives. What can you learn and do to fill your toolbox of process?

You now see the importance of integrating all three components to unlock the power of The Payoff Principle and that leads to likely the most important question. When do I implement this into my life? The answer is now! Now means now, not “as soon as I….” or “after I am finished with this project….” or “when I start my new job….”

In my executive coaching work, I have found that people who take the “as soon as I…” approach are always waiting on someone or something else to happen to get started on their goals. They are waiting for something outside of them to happen so they can begin to take action. They are creating excuses and living life by default. I’ve done it. We all have. The result is always the same—unfulfilled and unsatisfied lives; years of not achieving our desires and dreams. We owe it to ourselves to put ourselves on a path to a new and complete self—in our careers, communities and homes.

The Payoff Principle provides a formula that guides your progress to success and achieving your dreams and desires. There is never a perfect time to make changes in our lives. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” The first step here is that progress, not perfection is what is required to change your mindset and move from “good enough” to extraordinary – to being a producer reaping a lifetime of payoffs.

What will you do today to make this happen?

The Payoff Principle: On Process

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

mark-516277_640In previous articles – The Payoff Principle: Producers Wanted!, The Payoff Principle: On Purpose, and The Payoff Principle: On Passion, I’ve looked at the power of purpose (the direction you take your life) and the power of passion (the fire that ignites purpose). The power of process is the final component of the payoff principle as defined by Dr. Alan Zimmerman in his book The Payoff Principle. As you may recall, his formula is Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff. Simply put, it is the series of actions you employ with your skills to achieve your desired payoffs.

How many times have you heard “trust the process, the results will come?” That sounds great, but what if you don’t know what process to trust? There are thousands of books and guides on various processes but there is no single book on process that will enable you to tackle every challenge you will encounter.

Peter Drucker said, “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast with change and the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” In The Payoff Principle, Dr. Zimmerman identifies four critical processes behind every success story and explains how implementing these steps can more effectively transform purpose and passion into reality. The good news is that these four processes (two self-focused and two other-focused) can be learned and practiced by anyone. Let’s run through them:

1) Affirming Achievement- How do you think about your life? The process of affirming achievement involves changing how you think about yourself. It is the process of moving from “I can’t…,” “I never…,” “I’m not smart or good enough…,” “I shouldn’t…” by resetting your thinking to “I am good enough…,” “I am smart enough…,” “I can do…” These affirmations determine your mindset and how you show up every day. You change your life and direction when you change your mind and focus. Clearly thought out and written down affirmations give you focus towards the payoff you desire.

2) Continuing Education- Are you open to learning and change? Are you intellectually curious, always searching for more? The process of continuing education acknowledges that you are always learning. The portrait of your best self is never complete. Dale Carnegie said, “Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.” I like to think of the process of learning as a reminder that what got you to where you are in your profession or career won’t keep you there. There is always something we can do to improve ourselves and we cannot settle for “good enough.”

3) Connective Communication- Does communication breakdown drive you insane? The failure to communicate is a core issue across organizations, teams and relationships. The process of connective communication according to Dr. Zimmerman involves avoiding “communication breakups” or things that push people away from you emotionally and send a message of that you don’t trust, respect or care about them. We need to replace those with “communication makeups.” The message of a “communication makeup” is “you count, you matter, you are worthy of my time, energy and attention.” Clear, open, honest communication is far more efficient than the destructive and time consuming results of a failure to communicate.

4) Compassionate Listening- Stephen Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Studies have shown this especially true the higher someone rises in an organization because they feel less “forced” to listen to others. Of course, this is the time when they need to listen more and more compassionately. The process of compassionate listening only begins with the listener listening with intent to reply. Listening then evolves to listening to every word and nuance of the conversation and even further to listening at a level where you are aware of the mood, conscious, tone and impact of the conversation. It means actively listening at a deeper level and understanding by clarifying facts and feelings with powerful questions. American columnist Doug Larson summed it up, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening, when you would have preferred to talk.” I have seen my business and relationships improve with this approach. Perfecting the art of compassionate listening can provide you maximum payoffs.

The power of process is behind every success story and is a series of steps that you can implement into your daily life. Combined with the direction of purpose and the fire of passion, the power of process turns dreams into reality and helps you achieve the payoffs you desire.

What will you do today to make this happen?

The Payoff Principle: On Passion

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.  Don’t miss previous parts of this series – The Payoff Principle: Producers Wanted! and The Payoff Principle: On Purpose

6cb3e4a59d720b063bc775b1948004a7Once you’ve decided to live a life of purpose and on purpose, you need the power of passion to ignite that purpose. What is passion? The Urban Dictionary says “Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible.”

In Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s book, The Payoff Principle, the power of passion (Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff) is the ingredient necessary to excite you so that you are motivated to achieve the goals and dreams you desire. You must have the power of passion working for you. In fact, Swiss philosopher and poet Henri Frederic Amiel said “Without passion, man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.”

Think of passion as your inner fire! Passion is the energy that pushes marathon runners over the finish line, that keeps developers up all night developing a new app, writers looking for the next word, and Doctors Without Borders persevering when tasks are unpleasant around the world. Having a healthy abundant passion is a key. Without it you’ll run out of energy long before your actions yield the desired result.

Zig Ziglar said, “When you catch a glimpse of your potential, that’s when passion is born.” Stop searching for passion in some external explanation or proof, and promise yourself that you will choose to work on what fires you up inside. Once you make that choice, passion is born.

After passion born, however, how do you keep the fire going? Dr. Zimmerman explores three components needed for the fire to burn and produce ignited passion.

1. Attitude – A fire needs something to burn and attitude represents the fuel in the fire of passion. Your attitude—your positive attitude—is the fuel needed to ignite the fire. Without an “I can” attitude, the fire dies and the passion goes away. How does your attitude show up in your life on a daily basis? You are in charge of your attitude and how it serves you in every aspect of your life.

2. Persistence – To keep a fire burning, oxygen is needed, and persistence is the oxygen in the fire of passion. Persistence is absolutely necessary to get the payoffs you desire. Vince Lombardi noted, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” Persistence is the tenacity to keep going, to preserve in the face of obstacles and accomplish your dreams and desires, achieving the life you envisioned. Have you developed persistence to overcome resistance? Do you go the extra mile in all you do?

3. Character – All fires need to be contained and this is true with the fire of passion. Without a fire ring of character to contain and guide the fire, the fire can burn out of control, and relationships, reputations, and lives can be damaged. This is the tug-of-war in many corporate cultures between sales and compliance. Benjamin Franklin said, “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” Do you have a fire ring holding the reins of your passion? Are you staying between the lines and acting out of character in your business and personal life? Have you put in place guardrails that guide your words and deeds? You have to be absolutely clear about your values and what you stand for. The content and expression of your character is your choice. Choose wisely and it becomes easy to do the right thing, which in turn delivers the payoff of trust and respect.

The power of purpose begins the journey and provides direction to the payoff of becoming a producer. The power of passion ignites the fire behind the payoff. Next, we will explore the power of process, the final of component that turns your vision and drive into reality.

What will you do today to make this happen?