Be happy, learn to say ‘NO’.

Now some people may be horrified when they read the title of this article but the reality is most of us struggle to say ‘No’ and the cost is usually our time or money and our ability to achieve what we want to in life. Let’s face it we were all given the gift of life and if there is a plan for us surely it is the one we should be designing for ourselves. Yet we compromise that plan because we struggle to say that little word.

It could be that we believe that saying no is uncaring, even selfish, and we may have a fear of letting other people down. On top of this may be a fear of being disliked, criticised, or risking a friendship. The reality is, it is impossible to please everyone, so we should prioritise and understand who are the most important people in our lives (and especially include ourselves in those plans).

Now here’s an completely normal example. We are all allowed to be happy every day and the only thing that stops us being happy is the choices we make. One of those choices is what we are going to be doing with our time. If we assume we are going to give eight hours to our career (whether that be your business or employer) in exchange for the cash we need to live our lives, and we should be using at least eight hours for rest, we put aside 30-60 minutes for exercise, an hour in the morning preparing ourselves for work (having breakfast), 30-60 minutes for lunch (where we make catch up with friends or squeeze our exercise in) that leaves us with around five of six hours a day doing the things we want to do. This means during the normal working week we have around five to six hours to concentrate on the activities for our own benefit. These maybe further education, entertainment or doing the activities that we enjoy.

If you have children (and I have four) most of this time will be spent with them, and it should be. There is nothing wrong with that. In the weekend, time can quickly be filled up with laundry, kid’s sports, house and garden maintenance and simply recharging the battery (sleeping in etc.) helping friends out or visiting relatives.

Suddenly when you look back at the week at all these “activities” you have only a few hours per week or less for yourself? Unless of course you start saying no.

Saying no actually starts with you deciding to design the life you would love and then ensuring you prioritise time for yourself. When it comes to designing, I mean making a real plan written down, with actions and everything a plan designed for a life you love to live that will make you happy every day. Now if it ends up looking like the life example described above and that truly makes you happy all well and good, however in most cases once we do this our plan looks very different.

Another reality is you are most likely going to get more respect when you say no.
No doubt, you will need to compromise but a rule I live by these days is every day I am doing something that helps me achieve the life I love to have. Every day my plan is to be happy and no one gets to take the time I have put aside for that. This may only be an hour per day but even then, it means I have had to learn to say no.

What would you achieve if you gave yourself seven hours’ personal time per week?

My goal over the next few years is to increase my personal time, increase my ‘no’s and to teach my children to do the same. Although funny enough they are pretty good at this already – maybe a lesson right there.

If I truly want them to be successful and have the life they would love to have is this not the right approach?

How important is presentation?

Photo Credit: Werner Kaffl

How did you react to my photo?  Was it intriguing? Is it too scary?  Am I looking into your soul? More importantly did it help pull you in to read this article?

What light does this photo immediate place on your impression of me?

You see whether we like it or not people will paint a picture about how they feel about you.  In extreme cases that can be the difference between getting an interview, winning a new customer or whether a potential life partner decides to make contact.  It also dictates what sort of people you will attract.

I think most people understand how important it is to present themselves in the best possible light.  Yet when you troll through Facebook or LinkedIn and our very own JobCafe you will find the majority of photos representing people are of a poor quality.  Many of the LinkedIn profiles I visit are incomplete yet these same people will be the first to complain that “I get no leads from LinkedIn” or “Nobody has ever reached out to me as a result of my JobCafe profile”.

As a person who works primarily in the talent management sector I can tell you now Recruiters, Coaches switched on HR people are using these tools to find or checkout your profile.  Customers are checking you out before you call.

There are so many fish in the on-line sea these days so much so it becomes automatic to skip those who just “could not be bothered” or “I used the camera on my PC, was always going to replace it” .

The reality for all of us is the landscape of finding people is changing dramatically and if you want to take advantage of this technology the time to take it most seriously is right now.

Anyway … so here are my tips on how to look great online

  1.  Use a professional photographer to create your online photos
  2. Make sure you look as professional as you need for the industry or purpose your profile is for. The right photographer will help you here.
  3. Back this up with the way you look when you meet people in real life.
  4. Do the research on people who have a similar career path or business as yourself. How are they presenting themselves?  Set your bar with the people who present themselves the best.
  5. Checkout this wiki site that gives some great tips
  6. Ask your better half – and listen to them.

Finally.  It feels great when you get that haircut or see yourself in that new suit?  You look great and feel great – this is the moment you ring your photographer.  Refresh your look on a regular basis and you are halfway there.






What is Success?

OK for starters there is no one single destination or accomplishment that is success.

Success is not buying that high end sports car, it’s not having a bigger house than your neighbour, it is not a physical place and it is not how much money you have in the bank.

Success is how you feel about yourself. Everyday.

Success is the journey, provided you are following the path towards what you wish to achieve in life.  These achievements we call goals and they are yours to choose to strive for and this includes what life YOU choose to design for yourself.

I would hope we all choose to live a healthy, happy life everyday – believe it or not this is possible, more so if you follow a Tibetan monk’s life but also more likely if we take the time to design our lives in such a way as to make this a high priority.  At times this can be tough and challenging, take this from someone who is still recovering from brain surgery, being happy is really our choice.  We get to choose how we react to others and to the life and situations we find ourselves in, so why not just choose to be happy.

If you define life this way you should soon come to the conclusion that everyday above ground is a great day – life  after all is just the simple act of breathing in and breathing out. So if you are doing this then you should be happy.

For those of us that feel this is just not enough then design what is right for you.  No one (and I mean no one) can design your success plan for you.  Nor should we look at others success in envy and choose to design the same path.  So how do we design our own successful path.

Step 1. Reflection
Spend time alone with yourself, in a comfortable place where you can think (for some of us that maybe sitting alone on a beach, or in the bush, maybe walking in a park) somewhere where only nature can interrupt our thoughts.  Think about what you really want in life, in fact what is it you want to achieve before your time has come. What are you true dreams? What events have shaped our lives to date?   Do this exercise as often as you need yearly, monthly, weekly and use this time to reshape your plan and revisit your goals.  I personally do this just after new years every year then review and reflect on my plan each quarter.

Step 2. Personal Goal setting (life goals)
These have three main essential elements

  1. They must be inspiring (to you)
  2. You must believe in them
  3. They must be goals you can act on.

If your personal life goals meet each and every one of these criteria, then you have the recipe for success at our fingertips (yes write them down).

Step 3.  Take actions everyday
Everyday take one small step to achieving any or all of your goals and at the end of the day you can call that day a success.  Some days you may achieve more than others but regardless celebrate with a smile your achievements.  The better we plan and more we act the quicker we should reach our goals.

Goals will be attained and new goals will be set, a successful day is a happy day in which we are taking those few small actions towards meeting our next goal.

I wish you a successful life – the one you design.

You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like.





Fifteen fundamental skills of a great leader.

1. Share the Vision
The most important thing a leader can do is provide their team with the WHY? What makes this work worth the time. Granted, the boss doesn’t always get to set the agenda, but a great one will advocate for something worthy, and ensure that she or he communicates it effectively and often.

2. They Lead
Sounds obvious but many ‘managers’ do not lead. To be a great leader you have to demonstrate some level of skill and in times of stress it’s the leader who stands up to be counted or finds a way forward. They make decisions.

3. They respect time.
Great bosses have little tolerance for boring meetings, mandatory fun, and making others wait unnecessarily. They also avoid long-windedness when straight forward comments will do.

4. Establish priorities.
When you try to focus on everything, you’re not focusing on anything. A smart boss understands that, and realizes that lack of focus can easily derail the plan. Everyone should be great at planning; leaders are great at planning and time management but also have that extra skill of being able to set the plans priorities.

5. Share information.
There are often good reasons to control the timing of information sharing, but overall the more transparent a boss can be, the more respect the team will ultimately have for him or her.

6. Provide feedback
People wonder how they’re doing. Great leaders let the team know, and they’re especially vocal and public about it when people are doing well. Building a culture of gratitude starts at the top. If the leader doesn’t take time to offer thanks to those around him or her and sets this culture in place.

7. They demonstrate empathy.
Great leaders are able to see things through other people’s eyes, especially their team. Of course this doesn’t mean that they are pushovers, but it does mean that they’re concerned about their people on multiple levels.

8. They recognise team strengths.
A great leader recognizes the talents of members of the team, and strives to lead in a way that lets everyone maximize their effectiveness together.  They also encourage growth and nurture team members to develop their skills.

9. Be here now
They work in the present when dealing with anyone they focus on that person’s needs, they do not let distractions undermine giving people the right level of attention, they listen. This skillset of working in the present also includes when working on their own tasks – focused.  They understand the importance of successful activity today is how you create what you want in the future.

10. They accept blame.
Ethical people accept blame for their failings. Maybe they don’t dwell on it, but they accept it. Great leaders go a step further, accepting the collective blame when the team comes up short, and then guiding everyone to move forward.

11. They are human
They show their emotions but work hard on being a positive influence. Showing happiness can be infectious and a great way to lead the team.

12. They set the expectations
It’s often true that more progress is made when we seek forgiveness than when we seek permission. However, there are rules, social norms, and basic decency. Great bosses strive to uphold them.

13. They celebrate wins.
Great leaders look for milestones to celebrate–whether that means a 15-second recognition or a full-blown party. Great teams celebrate, encourage and support each other throughout the journey – not just after the finish line has been reached.

14. They strive for excellence.
Because really, who wants to work for someone who strives simply to be adequate?

15. They create leaders.
Great leaders inspire their people to become great leaders. They’re thrilled, not threatened, when members of their teams move on to better things, in fact often they push these people forward (rather than try and retain or hold them back).

The Rose Compass

OK a little confession here.  This is a tool I have been working on for a few years to help people at work as well as help managers, team leaders, supervisors become stronger talent managers. I have used this tactic a lot when managing staff and have been able to get great results even with those people who may not have been on the companies’ wavelength or that keen on having me take over from their previous manager.  I now use this tool in my approach with my coaching clients and find it works very well for me.

OH…And by results I mean loyalty, trust, honesty and positive outcomes for the business.

The goal of this tool is to provide a simple weekly exercise that every manager can use to help develop a meaningful working relationship with their most important resource – their people.  It is also design so you do not have to purchase some fancy piece of software or invest heavily in management courses to learn.

I have looked to keep it simple so if is effective and easily actioned.  My hope being this will make your work life better.  I suspect you can apply this tool to your other relationships and find improvement their as well if you need it.

So what is a Rose Compass?
The compass rose is an old design element found on compasses, maps, and even monuments (e.g. the Tower of the Winds in Athens and the pavement in Dougga, Tunis, during Roman times) to show cardinal directions and frequently intermediate direction.

Early forms of the compass rose were known as wind roses, since no differentiation was made between a directional point and the wind that emanated from that direction.

The purpose of the Rose Compass is to help you stay on track.  The Rose Compass can show you where you want to go and help you understand where you are actually heading.

Applying the Rose Compass to Talent Management.
Understanding the principle that there are always a minimum of two directions we are heading is important within Talent Management.  No matter whether you are working for someone else or working for a client there are these forces at play – what the company or client wants you to achieve, and what you want to personally achieve.  Like with a nautical Rose Compass the trick is to monitor the situation on a regular basis to ensure you are heading to achieving your goal/s.

From a managers view the value in a Rose Compass is know what the employee is looking to achieve for themselves personally and tracking this against what the business is wanting them to achieve.  If you can find the matches you can coach and manage the employee effectively.  If no match exists or the direction of the employee is unclear, then you have left yourself open for trouble.

Now this is very important …
Unlike, a performance review this approach starts with an absolute focus on the staff member’s needs.  Where are they heading? what do they want to achieve, how can you help them get there?  and in many cases you will find that initially you may need to help people discover a direction.  The great thing is once this is established you can then start mapping the tasks and things they want to do to the tasks and things the organisation wants to do.

This is a very powerful tool as suddenly you have the very means to ensure you are heading in the same direction.  This is how we truly acheve a Win/Win/Win situation, build strong working relationships and if applied to your customers, family and friends, more meaningful relationships all around.

OK, now the hard part – before I get to the tactics of how you work this.  Yes, it may also mean it is time to realise you are on different paths and then you need to work through a positive plan that allows both parties to move on with dignity and respect.

Putting the Rose Compass in action 
I prefer weekly meetings with staff normally between 20-30 minutes per week and unlike the norm these are not performance meetings driven by what the manager or organisation is looking to achieve.  In fact, they are the complete opposite and much more effective in my opinion.  The sessions are to check-in with the staff member and see if they are on track with their plans. Now it may take some time for you to build the trust and if you want to know how to do this please read more about He Waka Taura the talent management framework I developed with Hohepa Patea.

But once this trust is built and the staff member realises you are truly invested in their success you will find these sessions very powerful.  It starts by finding out what the staff member wants to achieve (long term) and looking at how the current role contributes to that success while also clearly showing how that the actions being taken are benefitting both parties i.e. The journey is on track.  This may mean writing down the things the staff member is looking to achieve and how they are doing that on a daily basis and then comparing this to what the organisation (or manager) is looking to achieve by writing these down side by side.

In some cases, their maybe small actions required to alter the course and armed with the information on what the staff member is looking to achieve a talented manager can show what is required for both parties to achieve their goals.  Of course if the tracks are too far apart or totally incompatible then more serious actions will need to be taken.

This method is highly successful it has helped me build very successful teams in the past, even when inheriting someone else’s staff who did not necessarily ‘warm’ to me initially I was able to forge a way forward.

You can back these meetings up with monthly performance meetings if needed but I promise you when you get the chemistry right between you and your team member you will find this approach very effective.


Building your brand

Whether you are a business, organisation or an individual, building your brand is the one activity that starts when you are born and will continue with you until your final days.  A great brand will live on forever in the memories of those you touched positively while a bad brand will suddenly find you losing customers, employment opportunities, partners, family and friends.

So what is your brand?

More than a 150 years ago, cattle ranchers used branding irons to indicate which animals were theirs.   As the cattle moved across the plains on their way to the slaughter house, it was easy to determine which ranches they were from because each head of cattle was branded.

In modern days “your brand” is almost related to everything you do.  Celebrities live and die on their brand and believe it or not so do we as individuals, companies and not for profit organisations.  A brand today relates to how we look, how we are perceived by those who already know us, how we act, how we present ourselves, what we say, how we use Social Media (Yes, especially for you teenagers it’s how you use Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat).  Almost every action we take can have a positive or negative impact on our brand.  Today building your brand and destroying your brand is getting easier and easier.

For Business

Companies for years have understood about building their brands, you only have to look at the impact Coke has made over the last few decades with highly successful advertising and brand building campaigns depicting that Coke drinkers lead youthful, fun and exciting lives – and they have been extremely successful.  Today they have to counter the negative reality that too much sugar in our diet is detrimental to our health.  So how will they ‘save’ their brand?  Changing the makeup of Coca Cola may not have the desired effect as the Coke brand is built on the way it looks and tastes, and how it makes us feel, for many the taste they use to love is now too sickening to drink.

So, will sales of ‘Pump’ water save Coca Cola?

Most organisations looking to hire people understand the importance of their employment branding, well you hope they would.  The reality is many organisations over the past few years have forgotten what a brand really is and although they may have been painting a wonderful story with some expensive advertising campaign, the very recruitment process backing up this campaign is quickly destroying their brand and their ability to hire the top talent they really want.  They have basically taken the ‘human’ side out of the recruitment process in order to streamline the hunt for staff, instead of focused on the full brand experience and understood that the first real contact made with people needs to be treated in a very different manner.  Of course there are many organisations who have woken up to this mistake and are taking their recruitment a lot more seriously.

The ATS systems are being replaced by people dedicated to finding the right people for their teams, recruitment a skill that most hiring managers use to have in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s is now back in the hands of those educated managers who understand the value of taking the important responsibility of identifying the people they are looking to hire, and building a relationship with them, reducing the risk of hiring them by evaluating and reserching their backgrounds while understanding that they too are representing the organisations brand,  and setting a strong impression with their own personal brand.

Hiring people in the future is going to look a lot different from the late 90’s and today.  Well for the organisations that want the top talent it will.

For individual people

As we become more successful in whatever field we choose to pursue our brand grows and depending on the way we act, or more important are seen to act our brand is established in people’s minds.  Yes, brands are only established by the way people think about us.

So like anything in the mind a brand can be changed, or built on, or if we are not careful destroyed.  The fact is whatever we do we will build a brand that some people will love, some people will like and some people may not care for.  The trick for us as individuals is taking the time to think about building the brand we would like to have with people we like to live, work and play with.  We also need to understand it is very hard to build one brand so those who try and juggle two (My ‘business’ brand & my ‘personal’ brand) will not only find this task difficult but if they have distinct differences, you are more than likely going to ‘get’ found out.  Your true brand is the one you will be buried with.

How do I build my brand?

The tricky thing is to understand what we are looking to build.  My personal approach albeit a little morbid, is for you to take sometime to think about the end.  Imagine your funeral, what are the people (who turned up) saying about you, to each other (not your eulogy, cause thats more likely going to be only focused on the positive) but what are they really saying about you.

Next step is, what would you like them to say about you? This is your brand.  Now you can go about working on how to build it.

The next stage is to decide what values you would like to live by, and try and apply those when you approach your daily life.  Building a strong positive brand takes hard work, but if you are consistent, persistent and true to yourself you can build a great brand.  Because a great brand is not only about how we look, act, treat others and contribute to our chosen communities, workplaces, clients it’s about how we think and more importantly how everyone around us who cares to know us and who really does not know us thinks about us.

Don’t just think about how your future client or boss thinks about you.  Think as much about the person at reception who gets that first impression from you (yes they will share it with their boss).  Think about the person you provided services too as much as about the person you provide services for. Think about those people who may know the people you know, think about the stranger or future employer or client who reads your Facebook page posts, personal website, or LinkedIn profile and you will really start to get an understand what your brand truly is.

Is it time to work on your brand?






Becoming Great – Part 4 “Getting noticed and making impact”

In part 4 of my series for becoming great I would like to share my tips for you on how to get noticed, that does not mean getting noticed by everyone, but getting noticed and appreciated by those who matter.  Whether those people be, our family (kids), bosses, work colleagues or customers.

Engage your ears, not your mouth.
In any situation you find yourself in whether it be at home, at work or on the sports field.  Try and be in the moment ‘Be Here Now’ take in the conversations, arguments and ideas of those around you.  Do not let other activities distract your focus on the topic, or situation at hand. If you have been asked to contribute thoughts, provide some comment initially but use questions to dig deeper into what those around you are thinking. Speak less and ask questions more.

By talking less and listening more, often the ‘more impact’ you will have when you do speak. People will start to listen to your ideas more.  However, be smart, find out all the facts, and become the person known for wanting to explore all the options and details. You do not have to be the smartest person in the room, but you can be the most impactful, simply by being the better listener.

Timing is everything.  Wait, until all the thoughts, arguments and ideas are in the room, then speak for the first time from a different viewpoint.

Do your Research
Simple, but the more you prepare the better equipped you will be to make meaningful contributions when you need to.  When you share your ideas, back it up with fact, and if possible great stats or data.  Don’t just come up with a view, or you maybe setting yourself up for a hiding.

Explore different views
Smart people around the world understand that a diverse approach is the most effective and most likely to come up with more ideas and different solutions.  Be the person who seeks out different views from different cultures, people with differing stances, approaches.  Try and think outside the box by exploring more.  If you are an employer hire different people from different cultures, ages and backgrounds and build a business that is based on quality information from different sources.  Find out how ‘it’ impacts everyone not just what it means for someone like you.

If you do not have different views in a meeting, then be the one to suggest seeking out those views, take charge of gathering the information and you will become known as the person who finds the best results.

Never repeat
People only hear it the first time; after that, it’s diluted and they switch off and forget the point you made. You may think you are making a point but your silence will be more powerful after you have shared your thought …

Take notes
Have your journal and pen with you at all times, take notes and arm yourself with the information being shared in the room.  You will be forced to listen more as you write down what others are saying and your notes will provide you with ammunition when it comes time to think, analyse then speak.

Tone and volume
Don’t yell, don’t whisper, don’t screech. The greatest speakers in the world all take lessons so don’t be afraid to follow in their footsteps.

Speak from your heart not your head
Be careful with this, make sure before you speak from your heart that your head is full of different ideas and facts.  Only then are you ready to give a passionate viewpoint.

You don’t have to have the last word
In fact if you have said what you think (for now) then leave it there, let others argue, you end as you begun – the best listener in the room.

Becoming Great – Part 2 Timeliness & Time Management

Becoming great is the art of developing yourself into that person, people want to hire, buy from, listen to, and regard as being dependable.  This is how you get recommended and your actions truly reward your hard work.  Yes, you can still be humble yet develop a reputation for ‘being great’.

Following on from Part 1 of being great the second set of skills I would like you to consider are the following;

  • Timeliness
  • Time Management

For most of us experienced workers some of these things will seem like the obvious, but yet still many of us will disregard the importance we placed on these skills when we were young and boss’s or mentors drummed these skills into us.  The truth is, regardless of your age, all these skills are essential and if we wish to become great they should be practiced every day in every way.

Being on time and having strong time management skills are both equally important but are also two different skills.  My whole life I have been aware of the fact I did not want to let people down by being late to meetings or appointments.  Certainly being late for work was something I was always mindful of and still are.  Luckily I work for myself so I am most likely to let myself down if I do not get up and get working to the schedule I have planned, but I know that to be great I must stick to the plan and meet my own schedule.

There is nothing more frustrating than waiting around for someone who does not make a meeting in time.  If we truly want to be known as great we should want to be also known as the person who “never lets you down” is “always on time”.  With good planning this is very achievable.  Here are some simple tips to help you be timely;

  1. Always schedule yourself time during the day and schedule time between meetings – that means book it out and work hard to meet those times.  For me that maybe 30 minutes but for some of you that maybe 15 minutes dependant on where the meetings are and how much preparation for the meeting is required.  At best you will make all your meetings that involve others and only slip up on the times you set aside for yourself.  At worst you will see how much you can actually achieve in a day.
  2. If you are travelling great distances always allow time for delays and book yourself plenty of time and anticipate delays.
  3. Always confirm meetings in the morning with your contacts, either by email or text is fine.  This simple act will re enforce to you the importance of planning your time well that day as well as help to ensure you are not left hanging by the person/s you are expecting to meet.
  4. Let people know how much time you have for the meeting when it starts so that you can close off (and reschedule if needed) any meetings that are likely to push your times out for the day.
  5. For meetings where there is likely to be a wait or disruption to the time i.e. Doctors’ appointments, meetings with people you know always run over time, make sure you do not schedule meetings too soon after this.  In my case often I will not schedule any other meetings for the day but will schedule time for me to do tasks, work on my projects, therefore, ensuring the only person I am likely to let down is myself.
  6. When you are scheduling meetings with people that you know are not great with their time, schedule these meetings at the end of your day – you will soon learn how to cancel or postpone meetings with people that do not value time as much as you.
  7. If you know you are likely to be late, as soon as you realise this advise the person you are meeting with and “buy yourself more time”.  Still not ideal but better than just being late.  If this is happening often (more than once a week) then frankly you are a long way from being great.

Time Management
I was lucky enough to be taught strong time management skills when I was still in my teenage years.  These skills were honed more when I became a time management trainer for Day-Timer’s (A planner and goal planning system I still use today 40 years on). These skills have helped me achieve many things in my life and have helped me appreciate how powerful it can be when you engage this skill on a daily basis.

Firstly, Time Management is not you managing time, it is simply you managing your own activities to get the most out of your day.  To become a great time manager you must first learn how to plan.  To become a great planner, you need to understand the reason why you are making a plan I.e. have identified dreams and goals that you wish to achieve written down on paper.  So for me developing your time management skills starts first by writing down your dreams.

  1. Mind mapping my dreams
    Most recently (last 2-3 years) I have moved to developing my mind mapping skills for documenting my dreams. I find this tool and skillset very valuable as it allows me to see the big picture in a single glance while also letting me drill down further into the areas I most want to focus on.  Mind mapping also taps into your creative brain and helps you with your own brainstorming – I find it very powerful.  If, however mind mapping is not for you, then you must at least write down (using paper and pen) your dreams.The most powerful way of checking yourself when you are writing down your dreams is to add a WHY statement, this will help you focus on dreams that match your values (things most precious to you). The better the reason WHY the more likelihood of success.
  2. Annual Plan
    The second phase for me is establishing my plan for the year, starting with a top level plan documenting all the goals (especially those that will help you realise your long term dreams) and the actions I would like to complete in that year that allow me to tick off with confidence my progress towards attaining my dream. I find this process very motivating, and although changes may happen I still get excited after new year when I get into this planning process.My annual plan then will be broken down into tasks usually numbered but in no particular order.  I use a journal for this process and more often than not find I “over plan” which is all OK, it is a part of the process.  You simply then go into prioritise mode and start to work out what are you most important “Dreams” and then reduce your actions down to focus on achieving the goals that will help you realise those dreams.This process can take me weeks if not months during the beginning of the year.  I find I start working on my most important goals (Dreams) initially and then start to work on secondary goals later.

    The final stage of this plan is to assign which months I am going to start working on the goals and tasks – for me this is a guide as you will review this each month throughout the year.

  1. Monthly Plan
    At the beginning of the month I will then write down in my Day-Timer’s planner the goals for this month. These are things I want to achieve before the end of the month and are simply listed – not prioritised (yet).  Again this list can be long, but over the years I have learnt to simplify this list and stick to half a dozen main goals only.  If you achieve all these goals, then it is exciting that you can speed up your plan and maybe bring forward goals or tasks originally planned for later in the year – this is being “ahead of schedule” and gives you positive motivation.The opposite happens when you over pan your month and feel you have not achieved.  Do not set yourself up to fail.You will review your monthly plan at the beginning of next month and bring forward the items still not actioned, maybe even rescheduling them for the future.  Your main dream should never need to be rescheduled, if it is you need to reassess how important it really is to you.During my review and beginning of the next month’s plan (for me this is usually done during the last week of the month being completed and forms part of the daily planning session I have with myself) you will also review your annual plan and revisit your dream map/s to reinforce the WHY.  This action usually pushes my daily planning time from 20-30 minutes out to 40-60 minutes every day.
  1. Daily Plan
    The next stage for me is my daily plan, some people actually break into weekly plans, but I find I do this on Monday morning while I am preparing my daily plan, pushing items to other days as I prioritise things. Monday to Friday I start the day with my planning session (Sometimes on Saturday and Sunday but rarely as I like my downtime and usually spend much of this time with family or personal recreational activities I find useful for my soul, and yes catching up on housework).  Saturday’s and Sundays are usually well planned during my working week.This planning time is the most powerful time you have to achieve your dreams and goals.  It is during this time you will also learn the most about yourself and start to realign and realise what really is most important to you.NB: Doing a personal session on values and dreams is very important and most of us need help initially from a person with the appropriate skills to do this.  If, however, you follow the planning process as outlined above you may find you develop the skills to achieve this yourself (this maybe the long way of getting there).Personally I use my Planner and the ABC, 123 system of prioritising my tasks each day in my daily plan.  My slight variation to that taught by many of the planning experts of the 1980’s where I learnt this skill looks like this;

    ‘A’ items are those most important to me and usually comprise of A1 Planning, then the following 2-3 items maximum of tasks I can achieve that meet goals, that help me achieve my dreams. You prioritise these tasks 1, 2, 3 etc. and action them accordingly.

    A* tasks are urgent tasks I need to do that day for someone else E.g. posting a job on my jobsite JobCafe for a client etc.  These sort of tasks pop up during the day and are simply added to the list, I usually try to action these immediately if I have time.

    ‘B’ items are those things I need to complete that day to help keep away unnecessary stress I.e. tasks I just need to get done such as Tax returns, tasks for my family, etc. I try to again only do a few of these and schedule them throughout the week if possible so I make sure I have time to action my ‘A’ tasks that are related to my goals & dreams every day.

    ‘C’ items are things we think of that would be nice to get done that day, they often get carried over and either become ‘B’ or ‘A’ tasks at a later date.

    Throughout my daily planning session, I am aware of the time I have to achieve each task.  This is achieved by looking at my calendar and ‘confirmed’ appointments.  For you souls’ sake you are always better to reduce the plan than put too much into a plan for the day I.e. You can always do more if you find time, but it can be demoralising if you are constantly pushing stuff to the next day and are not ticking of tasks and goals you set for yourself.

    You will also have tasks and actions you work on every day that take longer to complete, for these you may break these goals, tasks into project plans and break them down to items you can tick off as you achieve them each day.

Reward yourself
Finally, it really is important you reward yourself when you achieve milestones.  A milestone is a significant marker in any given project that enables you to recognise your progress.

The act of ticking of each task that gets dome every day is a small celebration in itself, and there have been many studies that confirm that this positive action sends good vibrations and signals to your brain that make you feel happy and inspire you to move on.

Achieving milestones should be at an even greater level, it may mean you reward yourself to a special treat or event E.g.  Lunch out to a favourite restaurant or café, or night out at the movies or a massage.  This helps you to celebrate the achievement and maintain motivation to drive forward to completion and final success.  Used often by great talent managers to help inspire and develop and reward teams, it can also be used by yourself for exactly the same reasons.

I think I have covered the basics, and yes there is much more detail you can learn and develop but if you do follow the process above it will also help you to discover how to customise this and develop your own planning and time management skills that lead to achieving goals and attaining dreams.  Ideally you will develop a plan that helps you keep balanced and healthy, spending time on your emotional, spiritual and mental goals as well as moving positively towards attaining your dreams.

Whatever you do remember it must be measurable and it must be recorded and measured every day.  Handwriting on paper is much more spiritual and meaningful than typing into technology as it brings into play other senses.  Again for your master plan/s, mind mapping brings into play your creative talents.  Over time you will start to develop your time management and planning skills, and learn tricks of the trade to ensure you maximise the time you have in any given day.

The perfect day for me is achieving the goals I have set and still having extra time to work on something else of great value to me.  These days I try and make sure that is every day and schedule less to achieve much more.  This for me helps me to achieve the very rewarding personal goal of happiness – every day.

I hope you find this very helpful – and if you master this skill I believe you are a long way towards becoming great.


Becoming great – part 1 loyalty

Over the following months I will share some thoughts, ideas and I hope inspirations on skills you should develop that help those of you who are looking for that next job, or deciding that maybe going into business yourself is a good move (and it probably is) but truly want to become great.

Where do these ideas, thoughts come from?
My experience, the books I read that truly resonate with me, and the people I meet on a daily basis that help me better understand myself and the different perspectives they have on the world around us.  The ideas I share with you I believe are universal and if you start the journey to developing these skills, you will be on a very positive path.

Skill – Loyalty
You may not think it is a skill, but if you can develop anything, to me is a skill.  In the case of loyalty, it is not just a great skill it is one of those attributes that will gain you lifelong respect and help you get through the tough times when those around you whom are less loyal choose to falter.

Wikipedia describes “Loyalty” as;
Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause. Philosophers disagree on what can be an object of loyalty as some argue that loyalty is strictly interpersonal and only another human being can be the object of loyalty.

The idea has been treated by writers from Aeschylus through John Galsworthy to Joseph Conrad, by psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, scholars of religion, political economists, scholars of business and marketing, and—most particularly—by political theorists, who deal with it in terms of loyalty oaths and patriotism. The subject had received “scant attention in philosophical literature”. This he attributed to “odious” associations that the subject had with nationalism, including Nazism, and with the metaphysics of idealism, which he characterized as “obsolete”. He argued that such associations were, however, faulty, and that the notion of loyalty is “an essential ingredient in any civilized and humane system of morals”. Kleinig observes that from the 1980s onwards, the subject gained attention, with philosophers variously relating it to professional ethics, whistleblowing, friendship, and virtue theory.

Now here’s my simple definition;
Loyalty is the act of faith and devotion to environment, humanity, your community (town, city, region and country (and in that order), to your workmates, business partners, team mates, boss’s, customers, clients, suppliers, family and friends and most of all to yourself.

In my personal case it also means loyalty to my Iwi, Marae and extended whanau.

Loyal ‘people’ are the ones you depend on whom never let you down, they are always there when you need them, the people whom give you good advice, whether you like it or not, and these are the people you should always be loyal too.  Loyal people are positive people; negative people should be avoided where possible.

Loyalty is not like love, although if you truly love someone you will work hard to be loyal to them.

In all cases – It has to be reciprocal or it will surely fail.

The one measure of true loyalty is time.

A change in loyalty?
Yes I believe loyalty can change, and the key to developing Loyalty as a skill is to ensure it does not fail due to your actions, thoughts or intentions.  You need to work at Loyalty, you need to be conscious everyday as you make decisions that affect those you are looking to be loyal too, and this is not the easiest skill.  The way to be effective is to make sure you take the time to think about how your actions will affect those you wish to be loyal too.

You should be loyal to yourself, if organisations, people or teams you are associated with are not loyal to you then by the simple fact that there is no reciprocation the loyalty (based on trust) is broken and maybe for you it is time to move on.  In saying this you can be loyal to organisations, people and teams and they can still be loyal to you, but you both understand the need to move on, which means the loyalty can remain intact – this is achieved through good communication and using simple tools like the “rose compass” which I will talk about another time.

With loyalty comes trust and together these skills will help you in many ways throughout your life.  In the work situation it may mean a promotion, and more freedom to make decisions (empowerment).  With loved ones the trust should be explicitly intertwined and if strained can be rebuilt, but that is a decision you will make when the time comes.  With teams it will mean “mana”  prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma – “mana” is a supernatural force in a person, place or object.

Benefits of being loyal
The major benefits of loyalty are already described above, but the other benefits you will find appear at the most appropriate times, like all trained skills often it will kick in automatically when needed I.e. To stop a child running onto a busy street, or to make the decisive pass that wins you the game, or to put in that extra effort and time at work because you know your business or your bosses business needs it, to help out a neighbour or to consciously support the local store.

The statistics
Loyalty is linked to success, a friend of mine has spent years tracking the formula for successful sports teams around the world.  These clubs include some of the greatest Football, Rugby, Cricket and other teams he has an interest in.  The fact that he keeps finding is that clubs and teams that are loyal to their players (and academy players) around the world are those that are most successful, on a regular basis.  Those clubs and teams that constantly throw big money at players struggle to win leagues and championships on a regular basis.  Those that develop talent in an environment that is mutually loyal succeed and when they are at the top of the game, keep on top using this same formula.  Yes many of them still import players with skills they do not possess but always they retain and nurture a core group of people they are loyal to for long periods of time.

I suspect this is the same for businesses that last the longest and grow the strongest balance sheets.

Making the world a better place through loyalty
When times get tough, those most loyal to us are the ones we depend on to help us through, and to reciprocate (And we should do this) we should ensure we share in the good times with them.  The same should apply to our customers and if you ever need a reason to be loyal to your locally owned stores and businesses look at those in your community who most support the community (not just market about it) but actually step up and support the community, financially, physically and passionately.

One of my many passions is to see my local businesses thrive, where investment decisions into our local community are not made by marketing managers based in other cities or even other countries, especially in our western word where many corporates are very much driven by profit and loss, and those profits are stripped from your community to prop up a lifestyle and economy thousands of miles from your own.  Not all corporations are like this but unfortunately I think the majority are not really that loyal to you and your community.

Moving forward- being great
So I hope you get the “iho” of this message.  Iho = heart, essence, inside, inner core, essential quality, nature.  Start consciously thinking about building your success foundation on Loyalty, reap the benefits described above and make yourself that person everyone wants to hire or purchase from.

It will not always be easy (nothing really worthwhile is), and at times being loyal can be challenging, you most probably will have to work on it daily, but it will be worthwhile and the benefits are truly great.




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