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How Acting As-If Is Invaluable For Your Confidence And Professional Growth

I recently read this article written by Thomas Edwards, in which he discusses how the “fake it ’til you make it” phrase is pretty much garbage. While I understand some of the sentiments, I think it would be good to talk about where this phrase comes from, and why it works to improve your confidence. 

The Edwards starts as follows:

“Wikipedia says the purpose of faking it until you make is “to avoid getting caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy related to one’s fear of not being confident.” On the other hand, Harvard Professor and best-selling author of Presence, Amy Cuddy defines it as, “Fake it till you become it. Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize.”

There are lots of problems with both versions. Being fake is disingenuous, and getting caught implies you were lying. Crippling fear, lacking confidence, and becoming what you fake, all are things you wouldn’t want your employees, investors, your spouse or anyone else to associate with you.”

 

Okay, this is correct that it is better to be genuine and imperfect than fake and mask your humanity. However, the purpose behind this phrase, and what Dr. Cuddy is getting at, is that our lack of confidence and fear of failure actually work against our genuine self. It can be shown pretty easily as well. Think of the last time someone asked you a question where the honest answer made you squirm. Did you tell the truth and deal with the repercussions, or did you blunt the truth in order to avoid an argument or embarrassment? 

Where does this come from?

The fear of failure, our lack of confidence in ourselves is what causes us to be fake in our professional and personal lives. I would actually argue that this phrase, or what it is trying to achieve, is an attempt to be more authentic. What do I mean by this? 

The phrase, “fake it ’til you make it,” is a hyped up version of the empirically-base therapeutic technique called “Act As-If.” 

Act As-If is a technique used in multiple forms of therapy in which a goal has been identified – such as exercising more, or speaking up at work – and there is a disconnect for the client between desire and achievement. The technique is simple, yet powerful. Let’s take the example above of speaking up at work and look at how it works.

 

Client (Ct): Whenever we are in a meeting and the boss asks for ideas, I freeze. 

Executive Coach (EC): What causes you to freeze? Do you have ideas to offer?

Ct: Oh yeah, I have a few ideas. Actually, I have one that I think could really work out.

EC: What do you think gets in your way?

Ct: I just don’t have the confidence. I’m always worried someone is going to shoot it down or find some reason it’s a stupid idea. I wish I was someone who could just…talk.

EC: Okay, this week I want you to act as if you were someone who could just talk. 

Ct: I don’t even know where I would begin. How can I act as if, if I don’t know where to start?

EC: Do you know anyone who is good at speaking their mind?

Ct: Well…Christa is really good at saying what’s on his mind. Each time she says something in our meetings, I think to myself how much I would want to be able to do that.

EC: Then act as if you were Christa. In your next meeting, when your boss asks for suggestions, act as if you were Christa and say what’s on your mind. 

 

And that’s it. That the technique. You might say, “Now wait! The coach asked their client to act like someone else! Isn’t that them being fake?!” 

Not at all. The technique of Act As-If acknowledges that the tools being used by the individual aren’t effectively helping them meet their needs. The coach simply used a tangible example, given by the client, to make the action more easily conceptualized. We may think we don’t know how to do something, but we may know someone who does. Just because we use their example to better meet our needs does not make us any less genuine.

It’s about becoming equipped for success

Act As-If gives us the chance to connect who we want to be with who we are now. We are always improving and growing as individuals and professionals. If we wish to be better public speakers, then we emulate great speakers to grow in our skill. We aren’t fake for taking tips from more skilled professionals. 

Act As-If isn’t just useful for improving upon our abilities, but also for changing habits completely. Take, for example, the common desire to live a healthy, fit life. If we were to Act As-If, we would live as though we were already living a healthy, fit life. This challenges us to question, what do fit people do? how do they eat? how do they take care of themselves? Once we have those answers we simply put those habits into practice. 

Fit people exercise once a day? then act as if you are a fit person and exercise daily. healthy people eat more greens? Then act as if you are healthy and eat more greens. 

There is nothing fake about this. If an individual who Acted As-If was disingenuous, then anyone attempting to improve their lives would be also.  

Personally, I would say that this technique can be invaluable in a professional setting. For those who are coming up on an experience where they need to muster a massive amount of courage, then acting as if they were someone with that courage can unwittingly give them the strength they need to get the job done. After all, they didn’t become someone else and use that person’s courage. That courage was inside of them the whole time.

It would seem to me that the Thomas Edwards has taken an effective tool and associated it with the behavior of manipulative chameleons who shift themselves in order to become more attractive to those around them. Acting As-If achieves just the opposite. Where we feel our behavior does not match our genuine selves, and we continually get in our own way, we Act As-If we have already achieved what we seek. 

 

I agree with Edwards that disingenuous individuals do themselves, and those around them, a disservice by attempting to change themselves for others. However, I would tell those people to Act As-If who they truly are is enough. Because THAT is a genuine truth.

 

What I Have Learned About Social Media And Self Care

Recently, I have gotten into the habit of spending time on social media every morning. I wake up, feed the cats, start making a cup of coffee, and start the social media binge.

This is a change for me, as I never really got into the groove of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.. But ever since I began writing, I have tried to increase my presence on these platforms. It’s been a great experience reconnecting with people and expanding my network, but I’ve started to notice another effect going on.

The Risk of Social Media

Whenever you open Facebook or Twitter, and you look at trending topics, it seems that the topics people are talking about have become increasingly negative. World politics, civil rights battles, school shootings, bombings, the list of negative talking points seems endless.

God forbid you dig into these topics and see what people are saying. Discussion points become attack positions. Rather than learning from each other’s experiences and wisdom, we hurl insults. All positivity goes out the window and people become more polarized than when they began. 

My problem is that I get sucked up into this social media drama.

I read an article, come to my own conclusion about the contents, and then read through the comments; hoping that there are people discussing the article with maturity. Then, someone makes a snide remark and lights the powder keg.

The next thing you know, the comments section is a battlefield, and even the onlookers (myself included) are silently empowering the behavior. In these situations, we naturally begin to side with those making arguments congruent to our and roll our eyes at the opposing position. 

After 20 or so minutes of reading these comments, I’ve burned through my quiet morning and have to rush off to work; the raging comments still swirling in my head. I think about how wrong those people are to be as angry as they are. I even imagine what I would say in response to them. Needless to say, I get myself fired up.

What Is This Helping?

Without knowing it, we are immersing ourselves in this negativity. We argue that we are trying to improve the world by joining the conversation, but is it really helping if the rest of your day is spent fuming about someone calling you school-yard names?

How we start our days sets the tone for everything we do that day. If we start by polarizing ourselves against half of the world population and get hung up on arguments that aren’t our own, then how are we going to be able to effectively and positively improve the circumstances of our immediate environment? 

For me, it comes down to this:

The days I spend time in this swamp of negativity, I experience tension headaches, I’m more impatient, less empathetic, and more depressed. Because, really, if you place yourself around toxic people, you’ll start to think everyone is toxic. And how does that help anything?

From now on, this is my rule for social media. You are welcome to join me if you find you experience the same issues.

If I do not find joy in what I am doing – if I am not growing from the experience – then that experience is of no benefit to me. 

Not everything we read, watch, or listen to needs to be substantive. Sometimes the best way to spend 5 minutes is watching funny cat videos instead of keeping up with current events.

courtesy of JESHOOTS

One Supervisor’s Philosophy To Empower A Loyal Office Culture

A while back I was having a conversation with a manager about how they maintain a healthy office culture. These conversations are always interesting because it is evident when a manager has or has not been considering the specific techniques and philosophies they use to make their office a healthy place for their employees.

Some managers get the ‘deer in the headlights’ look as if to say, “you mean I’m responsible for more than making sure my staff get their jobs done?” Some roll their eyes and talk about how difficult it is for them, blaming office drama. They may also light up; excited to talk about the changes they have made and the notable improvements that have stemmed from those changes. 

In any case, there is a conversation to be had about improving office culture. 

I knew they were in the best hands.

Anyway, this manager said something that I had not heard from other managers. It was subtle, yet profound. I became excited for her staff after hearing her philosophy. I knew they were in the best hands.

This is what she said,

“I love having such amazing employees working for us. But if they feel that they will be more fulfilled at another job, then I don’t just want them to take that job – I encourage them to.”

Finding A Job With Purpose

It may seem at face value that this manager is asking her staff to actively find other jobs. The fear of putting ideas into your staff’s heads about possibly leaving your agency is enough to reject this manager’s philosophy right out of the gate. But she has some amazing wisdom motivating this perspective. 

If an employee is not fulfilled and feels pulled away from your agency, do you want that half-hearted employee on your payroll? Their presence could, in fact, keep a better fitting candidate from working for you. Yes, you would have to spend time and money looking for that candidate.

But is saving that time and money worth having an unfulfilled, dispassionate workforce? I don’t think so.

By reminding your staff of their freedom to pursue a fulfilling career, you build the loyalty within your employees saught after by every company. 

This manager’s philosophy is not only helpful for filtering out dispassionate staff. This philosophy also empowers employees and shows them that management truly cares about their fulfillment. By reminding your staff of their freedom to pursue a fulfilling career, you build the loyalty within your employees sought after by every company. 

This can be a subtle shift in interpersonal functioning within your office but will have a dynamic effect on the office culture and morale. We require a purpose to survive and fulfillment to thrive. It is the management’s responsibility to provide purpose and opportunity for fulfillment to their staff. If the staff can’t find a purpose to their work, then encourage them to search for it elsewhere.

Disillusioned staff will never be effective representatives of a business. Help them find fulfillment elsewhere so that you can replace them with loyal and fulfilled staff.

 

 

Anxiety, Stress, and the Analogy of the Shoes

I read somewhere that people who regularly run marathons take very seriously the weight of their shoes. Whatever way that they could reduce every ounce of material without losing the integrity and support of the shoe, they would do it. 

But why? What does an ounce matter to the powerful muscles in a runner’s legs? If I can’t tell the difference between an 11oz shoe and a 10oz shoe when I hold them side-by-side, then how will it matter to my legs?

It’s pretty simple, really. You lift the shoe once, it’s nothing. But what about a thousand times?  In an average marathon, a runner takes about 46,000 steps.

The reason behind it actually makes perfect sense and is a great example of how the smallest things can make the biggest differences. 

It makes sense if you think about it, too. 

At the beginning, you may not notice a difference in your stamina. Every step is the same to you, as you run yet another marathon. However, by the end of the race, you find yourself lagging behind. Every step is a little bit harder until you are so depleted that, with all of your might, that once simple step is impossible.

The Shoes of Anxiety

Anxiety is like a runner’s shoe. In order to run a marathon, our feet need proper support. Similarly, to dig in and meet a tight deadline, or perfect a project, we need some anxiety to support and motivate us. Anxiety, in healthy moderation, is one of the reasons we are able to accomplish as much as do. Without anxiety, without a sense of urgency, nothing would get done!

However, there is a difference between anxiety and stress. In our analogy of the runner’s shoe, the weight of the shoe represents stress. Every individual stressor in our lives acts as an additional ounce built into the shoes of anxiety. 

For certain exercises, extra weight is necessary to ground us. But in a marathon – in a career – the least amount of unnecessary stressors we have, the farther and longer we can run. 

Dropping The Weight

How do we remove unnecessary stressors from our daily lives? Where do we even start?

There are many books worth of information in those questions, so I will just touch on the basics. Just know that it is possible to live a life of reduced stress and a healthy level of anxiety.

1. Break It Down

First and foremost, you want to take a look at your daily tasks. You will have a mixture of one-offs (tasks that need attention once and then are complete) and routine (tasks that need to be repeated or maintained on a regular basis) tasks. Separate your tasks into these two categories.

Next, take those separated tasks and separate them into two more categories Urgent and Non-urgent. Usually, urgent tasks are needing to be accomplished that day or within the week. It depends on the responsibilities of your job. Non-urgent tasks are due in a week or beyond. 

By breaking your tasks down and separating them, you will be able to prioritize your time much more effectively. , practice identifying future tasks as they come up so that 

Keep a cheat-sheet for the first months as you put this practice into effect. Practice identifying future tasks as they come up so that you are able to quickly identify the priority of the task and file it accordingly. Less clutter in your to-do list means less clutter in your mind!

2. Stay On Task

I can’t count how many time’s I’m in the office working on a project due that week when I get an e-mail with a question from another client. I know that the question can wait a day, but still, I stop what I’m doing and spend 15 minutes answering the question. By the time I’m done with the client, I’ve lost both my place in my project and the momentum I built up. 

By the time I’m done with the client, I’ve lost both my place in my project and the momentum I built up. Not good.

Instead, keep yourself moving however you can. If you need to turn off your E-mails for an hour to hammer out a presentation for tomorrow, then do it. They can wait an hour to get your answer.

*Side note, I have also found it helpful to put in my voicemail, when possible, the expected “up to” wait for a return call from me. If your job allows up to 48-hours before clients should expect a callback, then put that in your voicemail! It will act as support for you to give yourself time and give your clients a timeframe for when they can expect to hear from you. 

3. Delegate

I can’t count how many times I hear stories of people overwhelmed by their jobs, only to find that they are doing things that are other people’s responsibility. 

It’s easy to slip into this practice. In fact, most of us do it without even knowing. We are working on a job when a client calls with a question. You know the task is better done by someone else who works with the client, but you know how to get the job done, too. So, instead of directing the client to the right person, you just take care of it. 

Was that nice of you? Sure! But how long did that task take? 15 minutes? That time could have been spent getting your actual responsibilities done. That’s 15 minutes of stress you needlessly added to your day. 

“But, I showed initiative by doing the job! I helped that other guy, whose actual responsibility it was, out!”

Sure, I get that. But take a second and ask yourself this question:

If you were looking for an electrician, would you want carpenter who knows a little bit about wiring to rewire your house? Of course not.  

In the same way, if you go outside of your wheelhouse on a task that can and should be done by someone who holds that responsibility, you are actually doing a disservice to the client by not giving them the best product they could get. 

So, if just “I don’t want added stress” isn’t enough of a reason not to do unnecessary work, check to see if someone else is better equipped to get the job done. Then, tell the client to call them. 

4. Review Your Happiness

Finally, and a more introspective note, you need to take a hard look at your happiness at your job. 

A massive stressor in our careers is a fundamental lack of fulfillment in the nature of what we do. If you are fighting upriver to do a job you hate, then you’ll be drowning in stress in no time. This is why it’s important to evaluate how much pleasure you get from your career. A lack of fulfillment in your work is an indication that a shift might need to happen.

It can be scary asking yourself if you’re truly happy with your career. It’s hard to broach that subject. However, if you take anything from this article, this is the most important. Make sure you love what you do.

Make sure you find purpose in your efforts. Otherwise, what is the point in working at all? 

Money? You can make that doing anything. 

You need purpose. You need fulfillment. 

Take care of yourself during this marathon. Take the unnecessary weight out of your shoes and push on. Always be mindful of your happiness, and don’t do anything unnecessarily that should be done by someone else.

Only you can set your own boundaries. And you only need your own permission to make others respect them. 

 

If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or questions, then please leave them in the comments section below!

 

How To Make An Ambitious Goal Achievable

How To Make An Ambitious Goal Achievable

 

Ambition can often overflow when we have a vision of what goal we want to achieve. We think about all of the ways our life, and the lives of others may be better by having our ideas realized.

But many people stop with just the vision. Their dreams build expectation without any follow through for one simple reason.

They don’t know how to make an idea a reality.

Because this lack of follow-through is so pervasive, I want to share one of the greatest ways to create productive movement and set yourself up for success. The technique is powerful for multiple reasons. It’s easy to remember, the concept is simple (making it easy to teach), and most of all it works.

The technique is called S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Standing for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely, this acronym can help with nearly every goal you wish to achieve. Whether you use it once to complete an entire plan, or break a larger goal down and utilize this technique repeatedly, S.M.A.R.T. goals direct your efforts efficiently towards productive outcomes so as to avoid action that may be counter-intuitive to what you are trying to achieve.

So how do you use S.M.A.R.T. goals?

The process is linear, starting with:

 

Specific (S)

This step is about nailing down exactly what your goal is. Be as specific as possible here; what are you specifically wanting to achieve? Let’s say that you run a sporting goods store and the current plan is to increase sales of men’s sportswear in-store rather than online.

Now that the goal has been specified, let’s move on.

 

Measurable (M)

This step is where you determine how you will measure your goal. What is the tool of measurement which will help you know that you are attaining the set goal? Decide at what level of measurement you have achieved your goal. Don’t leave it at “more.” This is an arbitrary amount. How much more? For our example of men’s sportswear, would you be measuring the number of sales made? The amount of product sold? Give yourself a precise number or rate you which to achieve so that you can see exactly where you are in comparison to where you want to be. Let’s say that the measurement is a number of items sold daily. Now you have a reference for measuring your achievement.

For our example of men’s sportswear, would you be measuring the number of sales made? The amount of product sold? Give yourself a precise number or rate you which to achieve so that you can see exactly where you are in comparison to where you want to be. Let’s say that the measurement is a number of items sold daily. Now you have a reference for measuring your achievement.

 

Achievable (A)

This step is to make sure that your goal, and how you measure that goal, is something that you can realistically achieve. Don’t breeze over this step. If you have set the bar higher than you can reach, then you will set yourself up for failure.

If you are trying to increase your sales of Men’s sportswear (S) and are selling items at a rate of 10 per day (M), it may not be achievable to set the goal at 150 items daily. Give yourself a realistic, achievable goal. You can always set a new goal later. For now,  you determine that increasing current sales from 10 items daily to 50 items daily is your desired result.

If you are trying to increase your sales of Men’s sportswear (S) and are selling items at a rate of 10 per day (M), it may not be achievable to set the goal at 150 items daily. Give yourself a realistic, achievable goal. You can always set a new goal later. For now,  you determine that increasing current sales from 10 items daily to 50 items daily is your desired result.

For now,  you determine that increasing current sales from 10 items daily to 50 items daily is your desired result. 

 

Relevant (R)

This step is more of a gut-check and an increase of your mindfulness with regard to the goals you set for yourself or your business. Here you ask yourself, is this goal relevant to my overarching purpose? Is this goal going to achieve the fundamental objective of my goal?

If you are trying to increase your sales of men’s sportswear, but you run a gas station, then the goal may not be worthwhile at this time to pursue. Just because you feel that it is important right now, does not mean that it is worth your effort in the long run.

 

Timely (T)

This is as simple as determining a due date for the goal. By when do you want to see this goal achieved? Remember to be realistic. You won’t be able to increase sales overnight, so don’t put that kind of unnecessary pressure on yourself.

When do you feel you can realistically achieve your goal? Use this timeframe as a motivator. For our sportswear example, this measurement of 50 items sold daily may be realistically achievable in the next year.

 

Last Thoughts

So the final result of this process spits out a goal that is manageable and productive. For our example, we created a goal to increase men’s sportswear from 10 items daily to 50 items daily within the next year.

This goal was also determined to be relevant to the purpose of your business because men’s sportswear is a large part of your business.

As you see here, this is a moderate goal. Moderate being that it is a part of a larger system (the entire sporting goods store), but can be broken down into smaller goals, such as determining how you will increase the daily sold items.

If you feel that the plan needs to be broken down in order to determine how it will be achieved, then break it down until the individual tasks are manageable and can be effectively delegated to the responsible parties.

I love using S.M.A.R.T. Goals. This technique is fantastic for professional success and personal achievement. It is quick to complete and easy to remember. Try using the skill and let me know how it goes.

 

 

Why It's Important to be Socially Connected in Business

Why It’s Important to be Socially Connected in Business

So I have a personal belief that a foundational knowledge of mental health, along with therapeutic techniques, is vital for an effective executive coaching practice. Currently, the vast majority of self-made executive and entrepreneurial coaches, such as many retired athletes and previous business moguls, have had no formal psychological or mental health training nor obtained any certifications in coaching.

The vast majority of self-made executive and entrepreneurial coaches have had no formal psychological or mental health training 

Personally, I feel this is a risky practice, as these individuals focus on providing coaching based upon their worldview; forcing their mantras as gospel upon their clients.

In order to push the field of executive and entrepreneurial coaching in the direction of evidence-based, client-centered, practices, I want to take the time to talk about how entrepreneurs and executives can benefit from the theories found in psychology.

To begin this process, let’s focus on the concept of Social Interest.

Social Interest

Coined by Alfred Adler, Social Interest, or “Gemeinschaftsgefuhl” in German (directly translating to community feeling) refers to the level to which an individual focuses their energy on the world around them. Adler believed that one’s mental well-being and their level of Social Interest was positively correlated. That is, the more socially interested an individual is, the healthier their mental state would be.

This theory is not without its evidence. Numerous studies have found that the strength of an individual’s social connections impacted not only their mental health but also their physical health.

The concept of an individual’s mental health being directly connected to their level of social interest is also pretty logical.

The less time we spend inwardly focused, the more time we are able to spend bettering the world around us.

If someone is struggling with, say, depressive symptoms. They can spend a large amount of their day just focused on the inward struggles they are experiencing. This is the same for any mental health condition, and not even limited to those struggling at a diagnosable level.

So, if mental health conditions cause individuals to focus inwardly, then the more an individual is able to focus on events outside of themselves, the less their mental health symptoms are impacting their life. The less time we spend inwardly focused, the more time we are able to spend bettering the world around us.

But what does this have to do with business?

Why should any of this matter to an entrepreneur or executive?

Well, considering that 1 in 5 individuals lives with a mental health condition, anyone in a leadership position should not only understand how pervasive mental health issues are among their employees, they would benefit from realizing that this can also mean themselves. Which leads to three points.

First, spend time and money on the mental health of your staff. If they are struggling, then your business will be too. Provide services such as EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) and mental health sick days – because, let’s face it, some days we just need to recharge without having to also have the flu. Your employees will thank you, your customers will thank you, your shareholders will thank you.

Second, shine a light on your own actions and perspectives. How are you approaching your work? Are your actions based out of an inward focus; attempting to prove something to yourself and the world? Or are your actions motivated by Social Interest as you try to better the world around you?

Finally, this concept of Social Interest and the importance of our social connectedness is primarily held in mental health professions. Even though the evidence proves this is true, the benefits of spreading this knowledge are slow. This is why it is so very important that coaches also develop their understanding of mental health theories and concepts. Not only to increase an executive’s level of expertise but to provide them with insight that is based on more than a personal mantra.

Final Thoughts

A passion to help people improve is a rare and noble trait, but intentions alone can’t produce long-term success. It’s important that when looking for a coach, you find one that has the training to help achieve your desired results. If they are not trained to provide what you need, then move on. Take the time to make the best choice for yourself and your company.

 

 

If this article interested you, be sure to read the second installment, here.

 

Psychological Theories to be Competitive in Business

Last week I wrote about the psychological concept of Social Interest. Specifically, how to increase our mindfulness in a business setting.

This week I want to discuss the concepts of Goal-Oriented Behavior and the 3 Universal Goals. We will see how these psychological concepts have been used to manipulate sales. We will also see how a business owner can improve their practices by increasing awareness of how these psychological concepts impact staff.

First and foremost, let’s define our terms.

Goal-Oriented Behavior is a psychological concept which states that every action we take, consciously or subconsciously, is a calculated attempt to obtain or maintain a specific goal which we have set for ourselves. Every action from when we speak, how we speak, what we wear, what we read, IF we read, has a specific psychological purpose behind it.

An example I like to use is the “actually” person.

behaviors are learned and sculpted by the combination of external and internal stimuli.

We all know someone who tries to be a know-it-all. It seems that every conversation you have with them brings a retort, “actually…” as they try to correct something you or someone else said. It’s like they can’t control themselves; that the mere presence of inaccurate information causes them to word-vomit and exorcise the fallacies from the room. This “actually” friend may not even realize why they have to correct you, but still, they do so.

Like a doctor tapping your knee, causing the patient’s foot to kick out. Except, the knee-jerk reaction is not just a physical response; it is behavioral. And behaviors are learned and sculpted by the combination of external and internal stimuli. But how do we set these “goals” for ourselves? Where do they even come from?

Enter Alfred Adler.

Adler believed that each human being is dynamically unique; our personalities as identifiable and unique as our fingerprints. We have vibrant passions, values, and beliefs that have sculpted us into the individuals we are and will become. But as unique as we all are from each other, every one of us is attempting to achieve the same three fundamental goals. These are the psychological goals of Significance, Security, and Belonging.

But as unique as we all are from each other, every one of us is attempting to achieve the same three fundamental goals. These are the goals of Significance, Security, and Belonging.

Titled the Three Universal Goals, Adler explains that every human being, no matter how, is constantly striving to achieve these three goals. Let’s look at each goal individually.

Significance

In our world, whether it be our social circle or professional network, we desire to feel significant to those around us. We want to maintain a sense that, if we were to vanish, the lack of our presence would have an impact on those who knew us. Think back to our example of the “actually” person.

By correcting other people’s statements, are they not attempting to establish a sense of significance in those conversations? The desire for fame is another fantastic example of seeking significance. The hope of getting our 15-minutes of fame and the lengths to which people are willing to go shows how important the concept of significance is to us.

Security

The goal of security focuses on our level of safety in our environment. Think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for this goal. We strive for an environment of safety so that we are not in a constant state of survival.

By obtaining a sense of security, we are able to let our guard down and focus on living and growing, rather than fighting to survive. For this goal, we focus our energies on finding social circles and professional environments that provide a sense of safety.

Think about it this way: would you rather work at a company that consistently threatens your job in order to balance the books or one that has a no-firing policy?

Belonging

Finally, we have the goal of belonging. This goal is focused on social interactions and how we fit into the world around us. Where significance is a striving to feel influential and security is the desire to feel protected from the world’s dangers, belonging focuses on how we fit into our environments.

This concept is as simple as our desire to find like-minded individuals and surround ourselves with those people. Similarly, if we are attempting to achieve a sense of professional belonging, we may seek out purpose-driven companies.

If we were to have the same beliefs as the company we work for, then wouldn’t we feel a belonging to that company? We are attempting to achieve a sense of belonging when we identify with cultures and sub-cultures. It is within a larger purpose that we find this sense of belonging.

So what does this have to do with business?

If you take a walk through your nearby department store, you will find countless companies marketing directly to these goals, hoping to trigger us to purchase their product. Most companies don’t realize that they are doing it, but their message is all the same. “With our product, you will finally be successful/significant/one of us.”

By using these marketing tactics, businesses are attempting to trigger their target audience into buying their product.

Effective business and marketing strategies focus on connecting the product to the fulfillment of one of these goals. Car commercials focusing on “standing out” from the crowd try to appeal to our desire for significance, insurance companies focusing on taking care of the customer – such as Allstate’s Slogan: “Your In Good Hands” – appeals to our desire for security, and a company making the customer feel that they are part of a movement or culture by buying their product (Apple, I’m looking at you) appeals to our desire for belonging. These practices are effective because they target something deeper than our habits, they target our motivations.

The cornerstone is in making the connection between the existence of a product. How it helps the consumer achieve their goals. 

 

Final Thoughts

As a business owner, you will want to see what need your product meets, and why that is important to the consumer. Companies often make the mistake of just finding an opportunity in the market and attempting to fill it with a product. The product is only a small part of the sales experience.

It’s about making the connection between the existence of a product and how it helps the consumer achieve their goals. Having a company articulate their purpose using the language of goal-oriented behavior will provide consumer loyalty.

This is also vital behavior for within a company. Every employee is a human being striving for significance, security, and belonging. An executive would do a disservice to their employees and their company if decisions were made without the psychological decision-making of a goal-oriented awareness. 

This means a company should focus their team development around providing a sense of significance to their staff. Focusing on an assurance that the staff is secure in their workplace and that they are working for something greater than themselves. Focus on the motivation behind the action. Connect with staff on a visceral level.

Understanding psychological behavior is a vital tool for a business owner. It not only provides marketing insight into people’s motivations, but it also helps us better understand how to support our staff.

 

Business

It’s Not About The Money: Why giving makes a business grow

The other day my wife and I were in the market for a new piece of equipment for an addition on the house. I knew that the price can vary pretty widely depending on the business. I wanted to make sure that I did some price shopping before making a purchase.

The first step of the process was to determine the right kind of product to meet my need, and that required a professional to take the measurements and make right recommendations.

I started off by doing a quick google search to find a location that sold what we needed. I gave them a call and made sure someone could give me the necessary recommendation. They encouraged us to head on over and look through their showroom.

So far so good.

After a quick drive across town, we arrived at the showroom and approached the front desk. We got our name in to see a consultant and made sure that they understood we were just looking for a measurement recommendation and a price check. We sat down and waited our turn.

Then things went downhill.

After a few minutes, the consultant-led us to their office where we reviewed different options for the house. Quickly it became evident that the consultant was under the impression that we were just there to make a purchase. My wife clarified that we were first and foremost there for guidance regarding which product to purchase, and then we wanted a quote on what they had in stock.

The consultant stopped in her tracks and stared at us for a few seconds, only to let out a slow, “….Oookay.”

“Is something the matter?” I asked, confused by the sudden apprehension.

She stood up and grabbed her measuring equipment and said, “Well, I’ve just never had someone come in just for a recommendation and a quote.”

“You’ve never had a customer collect prices and compare?” My wife asked.

“Nope. Never.” She said, bluntly. “I also don’t think it’s fair that I will do this work and not get the sale.”

For some reason, we began to reassure her that we still may purchase from the business. She just reiterated how offended she felt that we would ask for a quote rather than blindly purchase an expensive item.

After a few more exchanges with the consultant, we decided to leave without either the measurement recommendation or a quote. For the rest of the day, I was frustrated and stunned by the blatant disregard for the purpose of their business’s service. But as insulting as the experience was, it was also insightful.

Don’t Focus on the Sale

I realized that the treatment my wife and I experienced at the company’s showroom caused me to have a very specific reaction. Not only did we not want to work with this business, we specifically wanted to not work with them. It was not a pull to another agency, but a repelling away from that experience that now influenced our purchasing decision.

You see, if I organically decided to go with the competition, I would have been making a choice between two observedly good options. I would still feel comfortable referring to both companies for future purchases. However, the spirit of selfishness at the company caused our decision to be made out of principle. Even if they had a cheaper price, I still would have gone with another company.

Selling is not about making one transaction. It is about building a relationship and investing in your customer-base.

This difference in motivation is vitally important for every business owner to be able to understand. It is not just that a customer chose another company over you, it may be that the choice was specifically to not work with you, thus they went with your competitor. Selling is not about making one transaction. It is about building a relationship and investing in your customer-base.

Every experienced businessperson understands that helping and giving incentivizes the customer to want to purchase from you. I mean, come on, if you are willing to give your time, energy, and even products, then what you have for sale must really be of value. Right?

Give To Get

If the consultant approached us with a spirit of giving, truly wanting to see us get the best product for our needs, then we would have wanted to buy from them. Because her motivation was focused on what she can get out of the interaction, she set herself up to fail.

No matter what market you are in, you will work against your best interest if your motivation is money. Instead, focus on improving the lives of your customer-base.

I’ve always heard that giving is receiving. I never realized that lesson was so business-savvy.

 

Why Poor Sleeping Habits Ruin Your Chances For Success

Why Poor Sleeping Habits Ruin Your Chances For Success

Ever since college, I have struggled with sleep. No matter how much time I spent sleeping, I would always wake up more tired than when I went to bed the previous night. It became a battle to crawl out of bed and get to work each morning.

Slowly my mood changed. I became irritable, impatient, and lethargic. What once fed my passion became a nuisance, draining whatever energy I had feebly accumulated through my moments of rest. I felt like Sisyphus; constantly fighting for every inch of productivity, only to slip and start over, exhausted.

Having struggled with symptoms of depression and anxiety, I sought out a therapist.  Personally, I believe each one of us should have a therapist, just as we have primary care physicians and dentists. After a few months, I began to feel more motivated, I rediscovered my passion, and where I wanted to go with it.

And yet, I was still exhausted.

It felt as though there was a haze over my consciousness. I was never really here. I couldn’t think clearly. It was infuriating. I wanted to function like I once did, and I knew there had to be an answer.

Well, I knew that I had family members with sleep apnea. Coupling my knowledge of sleep apnea with the realization that I’ve gained about 55 pounds since college, I completed a sleep test. No surprise, I found that I had sleep apnea and was the proud owner of a CPAP machine. While it’s not fun being diagnosed with any medical issue, it was vindicating and relieving. With nose-hose in hand, I hit the sack.

The change was nearly immediate. I began each day feeling more and more refreshed. At first, I was still tired, but it was remarkably easy to get up. Slowly, with each passing night, the haze lifted, and I was able to say something that I hadn’t been able to say for 6 years.

I felt refreshed.

Processing high amounts of information became possible again. Running complex theories through my head reminded me of the days in college, as I was developing my love for what I do.

My experience taught me the importance of sleeping. And not only sleep but quality sleep.

 

Sleeping Like You Mean It

Being an entrepreneur can be one of the most taxing experiences you will ever have. Long hours working on product design, meeting with investors and implementing marketing strategies can, and will, add up quickly. 

With only 24 hours in a day, the more time you spend on your business the less time you will have to spend on anything else. Sadly the first thing to be rationed in the name of success often is your sleep.

Sleeping essentially breaks up into three parts. REM, light, and deep. Each has a purpose and without any one of them, your body can’t recover from the previous day. Any time you reduce your amount of sleep, you take away the opportunity for your brain to recharge.

In the best case scenario, you will be foggy, experience reduced judgment, and have slower reaction times. In the worst, you will struggle to remain awake and struggle to control your emotions. No matter how you slice it, you’re ruining your chances for success by reducing your sleep.

But don’t take my word for it. Just read Arianna Huffington’s book The Sleep Revolution.

 

Learning From Experience

After waking up in a pool of her own blood due to sleep deprivation, she realized the importance of sleeping and that by not putting sleeping first, she was actively working against her best interests and the overall success of her business.

Listen, we are all vibrantly different, and our bodies work in unique ways. For some, 5 hours of sleep may work well enough while other require 9. Don’t look to the countless listicles ranking top habits of success people for the secret to your success. No one has a one-size-fits-all secret to wealth and happiness, especially me. That being said, I do know what will keep you from your success: avoiding the one way your mind can recover from the pursuits of your passion.

So sleep, and sleep well. Your business will thank you.

Understanding Market Research: Do what needs to be done, but no more

Ensuring that your product development process goes off without a hitch can be difficult.

If you are a small business, then a large amount of your product development can often occur outside of your firm. While this process of communicating with development and production teams can be a big headache, it’s important that you have confidence in the selling power of your product in the first place.

To confirm that the market has a pace for you, make sure you complete the necessary market research. To help you with the research process, we will review the kinds of market research, and how to balance between quality and quantity.

Understand The Kinds of Market Research

Generally, market research falls into two forms: primary and secondary. Here’s what each looks like.

Primary research is completed by speaking directly with the consumer. Conducting questionnaires, product reviews, and focus groups are examples of primary research.

Primary research can be really helpful when you have the product available. By allowing the consumers to use the product you can gain vital information about the nuances of the product.

“I like it, but if this button was on top it would be easier to use while shopping.”

Information gained from primary research is unique information only from consumers themselves.

Secondary research is everything you can learn about the market itself. Statistics, stock reports, market predictions, and business reviews all fall under the category of secondary market research.

Secondary research is mostly important in the earlier stages of the product-development process, as this is when you will be able to discover gaps in the market and what competition will look like once you enter the market.

On many occasions, ideas for products may actually come from your secondary research. You may be researching the market as a whole in order to gain a better understanding, and suddenly realize either that there is a large gap in the market where you could develop a product, or the products in the market are lacking in their design.

 

Don’t Underuse Market Research

Market research can provide an absolute treasure trove of information about the current market if you know how to look. Don’t stop with just seeing where the money is going (ie. reviewing highest sales and popular products). Take the time to understand why the money is going there.

Are there few products to compare, causing a funneling of profits? Is there a lack of knowledge in the consumer base that reduces the willingness of the consumer to branch out? Is the market new, filled with 1st generation products and few innovations?

 Don’t Overuse Market Research

Yeah, I know I just told you not to underuse the research. And now I’m telling you not to go overboard. That’s just how it works, so let me explain and hopefully, it will make sense.

While there is a fantastic amount of information you can glean from market research, it’s very easy to fall into the rut of too much information.

John Oliver has a great segment on scientific research from his show, Last Week Tonight. In it, he shows how you can get pretty much any information you want if you ask the right questions.

There are a lot of ways that you can mess up market research. Don’t make the mistake of taking too much information and just focusing on what you want to see.

 

In the end, you just need to be sure that you have enough information that you are confident in your product development and market entrance strategy. Don’t overthink it.  Do the necessary research and then get your feet wet.

 

Opinions? Questions? Please leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!