We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and we wish you a very happy new year! As we return from our holiday break, it seems appropriate to talk about a phenomenon that concerns a very large portion of the population: New Year’s resolutions.
We all have been there (and most of us still do it every year): January 1st hits, we get a sense of new and renew, and we have the overwhelming desire to hit the refresh button and make a lasting change to better our lives. When that happens, we have an amazing feeling of being invincible. And then, by February (yes, we have all been in that position), our resolutions fade away and we, consciously or not, decide that the resolutions aren’t worth that much and we get back to our old patterns.
Sounds familiar? Once again, our fears of change overcome our desire to change. One of the main reasons behind that phenomenon is that when we make a resolution, and we genuinely mean it, we forget to make a plan for it. We come up with the end result, but we don’t establish the path to get there. It is like deciding to climb a very tall mountain without thinking of getting in shape before starting the climb. So how do we fix this? It is quite simple.
- Allen Shaw said: “Don’t make resolutions without an action plan. The secret to success is right in your hands”. Go ahead, dissect your goal into smaller attainable steps, make a plan!
ACTION STEP FOR THIS WEEK: make a list of your resolutions for the year, and don’t forget to write down your WHY for each of them. Then narrow the list to 2 or 3 and for each to them, make a plan with milestones and a timeline.
When I was growing up in France, there was a commercial for a brand of ice cream and its slogan went something like “Everything passes, everything ends, but our cravings for ice cream!”. Well, cravings for ice cream come and go, but the ultimate truth is that good or bad, all situations are temporary. What that means is that when we feel stuck, it is very important to understand that it is temporary and that our present always forges our future.
When a company experiences a downturn in business, it is time to think about new products, new solutions, new services, rather than trying to figure out how to keep the profit level steady by reducing the work force for example. Since every situation is temporary, when a bad situation hits, it is time to brace and think of better times to come (and they always come) and ensure that we are prepared for when things turn around.
Napoleon Hill said: “Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat”. When in a daring situation, think of the opportunities ahead and keep moving forward.
ACTION STEP: if you find yourself in a difficult situation, think that it is only temporary and imagine and work on what you will do when things get better. What is worse than dealing with a bad situation is to not know what to do when things get better.
When building and growing a business, or even with our daily interactions and whereabouts, one quality is key to develop: the art of listening. Very often, we hear people say or we say ourselves “I am listening”, only to realize later on that whatever was said was only heard but not understood, because the other person was not listening at all.
There are different levels of listening. The first level represents that person who you are telling a story to and who immediately says, “Oh I know that feeling, I myself have experienced this when…”. The so-called listener then makes it all about themselves and your story or point is never taken into consideration. This kind of listening (let’s call it Level A) does not lead anywhere since it ends up being one-way communication only.
Level B is when a person is told a story and they intensely listen to the other person, or at least pretend they do. They do not bring up anything about themselves, nod their head and seem to have soaked all of the information that was given to them. Unfortunately, it is very passive and very often, the information conveyed is lost or not understood deeply.
Finally, level C is active and deep listening. The listener in that situation is intensely involved and focused and pays attention to the other party and the information, but also are very present in the moment. They notice everything that surrounds the conversation and when asked later, are able to retrace it like a vivid memory. This kind of listening is what we should be doing all the time, every single day, it is mostly about living every moment and being present.
Ernest Hemingway said: “I like to listen. I have a learned a great deal listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Are you listening?
ACTION STEP: Learn to listen. Pay attention to everything that surrounds you, even when you are alone. Listen to the sounds around you, pay attention to your environment. Be present. You’ll be surprised how your communication skills will improve.