Spotlight on the Art of Grace has been Released!

spotlight-on-the-art-of-grace

Spotlight on the Art of Grace

This weekend, our new book, Spotlight on the Art of Grace has been released.

The first book issued by the Alternative Book Club is now out and available for purchase from Lulu.com.

By reading, Spotlight on the Art of Grace, you will be moved by powerful stories of personal loss and triumph. You will learn important tips on how to learn, how to mend fences, how to make the world better, and all the while do it with energy and with a smile.

Drawing from the overall category of Grace, the book spans a variety of fascinating topics, from bringing good energy into your interactions, to effectively using humor, to being thankful even when things don’t work out the way you thought, to making effective apologies, to stepping our of your comfort zone, and to being conscientious in the workplace.

Nine of our authors collaborated on this extraordinary collections of stories and life’s lessons.  The book will move you and educate you.  We know you will discover Grace in your life.

We hope you’ll consider checking it out!

Conquering Procrastination: Nothing’s Going to Change

nothings-going-to-change

The Sign I Keep Above My Desk

This is the sign I keep above my desk in my office. It constantly warns me of the dangers of procrastination.

Many of us want to make a change in our lives.  We want to be more successful, improve our relationships, or go after our dreams.  The terrible truth is that willful change is hard.  It is easy to continue to go about one’s routine.  Routine doesn’t put much stress on your mind.  (If you don’t believe me, ask yourself if you have ever found yourself getting out of your car at work and you realize that you don’t remember the drive.)

Procrastination

Many of us struggle with procrastination. The biggest separator between the dreamers and the doers may be how one contends with the challenge of procrastination. Woody Allen said, “80 percent of success is just showing up.” It’s absolutely true. The challenge of procrastination is so pervasive that the vast majority of people share it. While your procrastination is certainly a challenge you’ll need to overcome to make a difference, be content in the knowledge that since everyone contends with it and so few transcend it, you will find that if you can clear this hurdle, there are far fewer contenders who remain in the game than you think.

“You can mess around all you want, but nothing’s going to change.” Like everyone, I struggle with procrastination. I’m often tempted to jump on facebook, youtube, or consume internet news. My sign reminds me that every second I do that, I am not doing what will empower me to make my life better.

Empower.

I don’t use that word lightly. If you believe, as I do, that procrastination may be the biggest roadblock to success you can face, then success is simply a choice. It is a choice to do the hard thing when you’re tempted not to.

I challenge you to draw up your own sign to prompt you to nip procrastination in the bud. Put it in a prominent place where you have to see it every day. You owe it to yourself to get off the couch and get about the business of delivering yourself the life you want!

Earn Your Promotion: Guidance on Getting the Job You Want

workplace, team, business meeting

Self promotion in the workplace

I bet you thought I was going to go on and on about social media and bragadocious things you can say about yourself.  HA!  Most people never promote themselves because they cannot!  What do I mean by that?  When was the last time you walked into your boss’ office and said, “See that corner office over there?  I want it.  Give me a promotion!”  Would the boss respond positively or negatively to that?  Who knows?

The usual promotion process is completely different.  You work at your desk or visit your clients in the field, or deliver your products and install them, then go home at the end of the night, only to start over in the morning.  If you do get a promotion, it may be due to someone above you quitting or retiring or (God forbid) getting fired.  The boss looks around and you just happen to be close to what he wants in that position and you get promoted.  Some promotions are proscribed due to length of service.  In rare cases, the boss finds someone he wants to promote, goes to them and tells them what classes to take, how to improve their service, what questions to ask and mentors them into a position.

Getting more pay 

In the sit-coms of the 1960’s and 70’s, one of the plot points in common was going to the boss to ask for a raise.  This plot point was considered good comic material because nearly everyone in the work force could identify with this situation.  They were not asking for promotions because that was a change in the type of work they enjoyed.  They just wanted more money for the work they were already doing.  No one seems to be doing that now.  We seek to get group raises.  We seek to get new benefits as a group.  Imagine everyone in a company going in individually to the HR department and negotiating a new wage and benefit package tailored to individual situations!  “I’ll take a 2% raise if you throw in 20% more in health benefits.”  “I need a 5% raise, my wife is pregnant.”  “I don’t really need a raise, but if you could get me an extra week’s vacation so I can see my kid graduate from Harvard, that would be great!”  If you are doing relatively better work than those of your colleagues, shouldn’t you get relatively more money?  Businesses pay the position, not the worker for the amount of work completed.

That brings up the question, “How do I get more money if everyone in my department gets the same?”  Some companies have a Pay For Performance benefit–a bonus paid for going beyond the expected output.  One business I worked in, this was the case.  They set a standard, and watched as all the workers changed their emphasis to fulfilling the requirement for PFP.  The frustration came in when the company changed the standards and the areas for PFP randomly.  The standard for processing accounts was 350 in a day.  One person did 734.  (The record still stands…)  The company reviewed this process and changed it to require more steps, then they raised the standard to 500 in a day.  Subsequently, no one got the bonus.  Then, ten days later, the PFP was based on the number of phone call clients serviced.  There suddenly was no purpose in processing accounts efficiently and quickly. The focus changed to getting orders quickly and getting off the phone so you could take another call.  The PFP changed again a mere six days later.  In a short time, the workers were ignoring the new PFP emails containing the new standards. The PFP slowly disappeared.

The solution is to get promoted

The way to get more money in a company that pays by position is to change position–go into management, get a promotion.  Most companies, however, do not have a chart that says, “If you do this, this, that, those, this, this and this, you can get promoted to Manager 1st class.”  This is silly.  When you are in elementary school, if you spell your words correctly, do your arithmetic correctly, do 5 book reports, get good scores on your social studies, then you will pass on to the next grade.  It’s true in each school system up through college.  When you are in scouts, if you complete these badge requirements, do this leadership project, and help at least 15 little old ladies across the street, you get promoted.  In sports, if you come to practice every day and do all the required exercises and improve your technique, you get to play varsity.  Of course in every activity, there will be some requirements that need to be met outside of group practices, but generally this is the assumption.

But in the corporate world, if there is no chart, how do you know what to do to get promoted?  Research!  What qualifications are required to get the promotion to the next level?  You can get that by going on line to find out what they are in the company you work for, and for companies in the same type of business. What are the education and experience requirements?  Are there certification tests to be passed?  Are there management positions available?  What qualities do you already have?  Can you develop these qualities, or learn the skills?  Can you join activities or clubs that will develop these skills and qualities?

Ask questions!

Get an appointment with someone in the position you aspire to.  Ask him/her for help!  How did that person get the job?  Was it from an outside company or from school?  Was it from within the company?  What does this position entail?  Is it something you could do?

Get an appointment (or just coffee!) with the supervisor in charge of the department and tell him/her that you are interested in a promotion.  Ask this person, point blank, what you would have to do to get a promotion.  Most importantly, take notes!

Take Steps

Now that you know what it takes, start by finding places to get the skills and qualities you need.  If you need to improve communication skills, for instance, then you should take communications classes.  You could join a speaking club.  You could get self-help books from the library, or you could buy them and place them in a prominent place in your office or work space.  (Hint:  you need to actually read them.)  If you need leadership skills, work with an organization that develops those skills.  Scouts are always looking for more adult participation.  Charitable organizations and churches are places to practice your leadership.  Think about community involvement, classes in management, or just hanging around a really good leader and watching him/her in action.  Check Leadership blogs. https://wordpress.com/stats/insights/solomonsadvisor.wordpress.com is one I read.  There are many others.

In conclusion, if you want that promotion, you need to promote yourself first.  Become the person it takes to fill the role, then improve on that until you are more than what’s required.  Ask what it takes and then do what it takes.

 

 

 

When Things Go Wrong: Five Minutes of Terror

crisis, not, low

crisis

When things go wrong. Five Minutes of Terror.

So I had about 5 minutes of pure terror this morning.

I’ve been seeking to add plugins to the WordPress framework upon which this site has been built. The plugins are intended to make better interaction with social media.

As is often the case with software development, generally, the routines that programmers put together do what they are intended to do internally. Most problems occur when bits of code written by one individual have to play nice with bits of code written by others. That is what happened today.

I added a plugin and immediately got an error.  Nervously, I proceeded to try and deactivate the plugin but found that the plugin had created an internal error. It wasn’t possible to deactivate the plugin. In fact, I couldn’t do anything. I was effectively locked out of my own website.

I’ve found that when you get hit in the gut, it’s important to take a moment, collect your thoughts, and think slow. Work the problem. I went to another computer to ensure it wasn’t something at my end. Sure enough the problem was server side. I then made a cup of coffee. I thought about what I should do. Let’s consider the wisdom of others. Google is your friend in such times. After a minute I learned that perhaps a solution would simply to go into the file structure for the site and change the name of the folder for the offending plugin. That way wordpress couldn’t find it and would hopefully as normal.

One of the virtues of the wordpress platform is it’s modular design. Plugins are self-contained in most cases so changes such as these are of lower risk. I made the change and low and behold… I am now typing this blog post on the site with fully restored access.

Whew!

Lessons Learned

There are several good lessons here.

  1. We remember the importance of good design and the separation of concerns. The more cross connected your structures area, whether that be in design or other organizational systems, the more difficult problem solving is.
  2. We further are reminded that it is at the point of connection when systems are usually most vulnerable. That is true for business units just as it is for coding.
  3. When problems emerge, it is important to stay clear headed and maybe to take a step away for a moment to ready yourself for problem solving.
    Work the problem by diagnosing and isolating the issue through testing. It does no good to randomly try “something” and hope things work out.
  4. Finally, try and tap into that vast reservoir of knowledge, wisdom, and experience that exists in the large community. Know that most people will try to help you if you simply ask.

Entrepreneur’s Challenge: I Don’t Feel Comfortable with Self-Promotion

The Challenge of Self-Promotion

Stand out from the crowd

Stand out from the crowd

Self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to us.

In general, Americans have a distinctive mentality.  Americans love the underdog story.  The United States’ democratic tradition means that we have a natural predisposition toward egalitarianism and that it is somewhat taboo to set ourselves apart from others.  Humility is a wonderful virtue.

When it comes to marketing and promotion, however, excessive humility becomes detrimental to one’s ability to touch and impact others.  One challenge of new entrepreneurs is to how to resolve the conflict between one’s predilection for humility and one’s need to promote oneself and one’s business.

Of course, there are some people who never struggle with humility (often much to their detriment and to those near them). They have a natural gift for self-promotion and these people don’t have that psychological challenge to overcome.  But many of us are uncomfortable with self-promotion.

We are afraid that we will come off as arrogant or narcissistic.

This concern is completely understandable. But if we are going to be successful in being an effective advocate for the value that we offer, we must find ways to transcend this challenge.

Overcoming Self-Promotion Resistance

Overcoming this challenge, however, isn’t as difficult as we might first think.  It requires a change of perspective.  The key isn’t to promote yourself.  You must promote what you are offering.  More specifically, you must promote the positive outcomes what you provide brings to those who buy it.

I become a fully aligned and integrated advocate for my business when I truly believe in my heart that when people choose to buy from me that I am helping to make people’s lives better by the help I provide to them.  In this vein, self-promotion is benevolence.  I have to believe that when someone buys from me, that it is in their best interest that they do so.  Whether it be through my books, my talks, my educational activities, or my coaching, I believe that what I am providing to others is of great value and that the payment I receive for them is a portion of the value returned to me in appreciation.

Charlatans can sell stuff for their own benefit.  People with integrity can only sell when they know that what they are peddling is worth more than the price being paid.

If you don’t believe that, then you either should work more on improving your products or you need to have an honest conversation with yourself about your self-esteem.  The challenge of self-esteem is itself a challenge and will be the subject of a future post.  For now, remember this.  if you believe that what you are sharing with the world has value, then you should not feel guilty or self-conscious about advocating for it.

Be as worthy an advocate for your message as your message deserves.  

Author Challenge: Create Your Author’s Bio!

Author's Bio Hello Authors!  As we all know, we must prepare our One-Sheets.  In addition, we need to work on individual author’s bio for promotional efforts.  As discussed in the article referenced below, authors should have several versions of their author’s bio, depending upon their use.  Each of us will need to prepare a long form, a medium length, and brief biography.

How to Write a Killer Author Bio

How to Write a Killer Author’s Bio

You also may want to create a slightly different author’s bio for the different audiences you plan to touch.  Like all communication, always start from the point-of-view of the audience and emphasize the aspects of you that are most likely to resonate with them.

Of course, all of this takes time, but you’ll find that if you can build the long form first, it’s easier to select the highest priority information for the more concise versions.  Like all marketing material, in general, the effort is an up-front price, but once paid, it’s much easier to maintain and tweak rather than create outright.

I challenge each of you to write your long form bio this week.  The author’s bio from Spotlight on the Art of Grace should serve as a good basis from which to build.  Now incorporate the information from the article!

I’m working on my bios over the next couple of days.  I’ll share them as I complete them.  Your feedback would be appreciated.  When you post yours, I will also provide you feedback.

If you are willing to commit to this, reply to this post with a comment stating your commitment–not to me or us, but to yourself!  Then post another comment when you meet the commitment!

Marketing is finding more people to help.  Good hunting!