Checklist for what to do at work before you leave for vacation

Vacation Checklist

Summer is vacation primetime.  People coming and going from the office can be stressful for everyone. In order to reduce the stress on yourself and those you leave behind at work, I thought I’d list some ideas for how to make sure your summer vacation goes smoothly. So before you check out this summer take a look at these 7 tips:

  1. Give people enough notice. It’s imperative to make sure you give enough lead time in order for those around you to plan accordingly.
  2. Coordinate with the rest of your team to make sure that you are all not out at the same time.
  3. Ensure that your regular duties have been transferred to other parties within your team so that they continue to get done. You don’t want to have things piling up on you while you’re gone or worse, you have to do them while you’re gone
  4. Take the time to transition the knowledge required to do those duties. You do not want the first call you get when you leave the office for your vacation to be, “Hey, how do I do that stuff you wanted me to do?”
  5. Make sure that your external stakeholders, clients, etc., have a point of contact that they can get in touch with you or information for whom they can get in touch with while you’re gone.
  6. Make sure that if there is a REAL emergency they can get in touch with you so you don’t have a complete mess when you get back.
  7. If it’s necessary that you check in while you are on vacation, make sure that you have a scheduled time and stick with it. You do not want your vacation to turn into a workcation.

As always I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts or any ideas for making the work to vacation transition easier.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

3 Common characteristics of successful people

Success

I certainly don’t claim to be a scientist or somebody who has an incredibly nuanced opinion of nature vs. nurture but there are certainly a lot of folks on the market right now that talk about what motivates people. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is a great example, by Daniel Pink. There’s another book I loved about what engages people to work hard to move forward in their lives. There’s also another great book called “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell about what it takes to master things. I’ve been around enough successful people, not just in the sense of people that you might’ve read about in newspapers or magazines, but everyday people that have been able to achieve things that maybe they hadn’t had formal training in otherwise. They would look to be unprepared to do something yet you watch them succeed and I think that they all encompass the same essentially three characteristics that jump out at you.

  1. The first characteristic I’d like to discuss is dogged determination to succeed. It’s amazing how much learning something new or anything else, just depends on simply sticking with it. I’ve watched people teach themselves some pretty complicated things in a pretty compressed time period just on the basis of knowing it had to be done and figuring it out. I think there’s just a mindset there around that level of determination that if you put it in your head that you’re simply not going to fail, you’re a lot more likely to succeed.
  2. The second thing is a willingness to work with others, communicate, explore new avenues, and do what it takes to reach success.  That’s another one where I’m always impressed when you see someone who is willing to ask questions. I think sometimes, and I know that I’m as guilty of this as anyone, that you can be hesitant to ask something because you don’t want to look dumb, expose a weakness or lack of knowledge, and have somebody think that you’re not as smart as they thought. That is a path to not growing.  I think you have to be willing to show your weaknesses in order to improve.  If you consistently play to your strengths you’re locking yourself out of a lot of growth opportunities.  When you’re forced or put in a position where you absolutely have to learn something new or develop a new skill, it becomes really hard if you cut yourself off from one of the primary avenues of succeeding. By that I mean finding other people who have done it before you that can help you.  I think that this second factor is huge in attaining success; finding avenues for communicating with folks who have done it before you, asking questions, and being willing to look a little bit silly on the path to understanding what you need to do.
  3. Finally the third thing should come as no secret, and that is you have to be willing to put in the work.  It’s really hard to be successful at something new if you constrain yourself to just the time you put into the everyday things that you already know how to do.  When you’re trying to transition into a new skill set, learn something, and apply something in a short period of time, if you’re not willing to put in some extra work and some extra time I don’t think you can get there.  There’s a lot to be said about work/life balance and maintaining a perspective of what you’re trying to achieve in the context of who you are as a person but sometimes you need to spring  a little in order to get things situated in your mind in a way that you can use it on a daily basis. There’s absolutely nothing like immersing yourself in something for a few days or weeks to overcome some of the hurdles you would otherwise have in learning or figuring out how to do something new.

So I think those three things are kind of common sense qualities needed for success. Time and time again I see people that are teammates, people that I work with, and people that work for me who are succeeding and the common ingredients that they all share are the ones I mentioned above.  Now again, I know that they seem to be common sense but they are not always applied. The people that are frustrated and saying, “I’m not really picking this up,” or “I’m really struggling to understand this,” and you watch what they’re doing; it should come as no surprise that they’re not working as hard as the people that are able to pick something up. They’re not asking the right questions of the right people.

Now while I think there’s a lot to be said for being able to ask for help and being able to reach out to people, there’s a balance that needs to be struck there. You need to push through and make your own breakthroughs sometimes so you can really own the material or the skill whatever it is rather than simply having someone else do it for you because they’re better at it.  I’m curious what other people have seen and what other people believe are the short list to succeeding at those sorts of things.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Fighter food: Getting fit for better personal and professional performance

Flinstone fighter food

Paleo: The “caveman” diet

Today I’m going to step outside my normal blog topics and talk a little bit about health, nutrition and some of the things that I’ve been doing that I believe have led to better personal and professional performance across the board. The last few years I’ve really been stepping up my exercise quite a bit.  I had gotten to a point where I was hovering right at 299 pounds. I had basically stopped weighing myself until I was pretty sure that the next time I did, I wasn’t going to be over 300 pounds.  Now I realize the signal probably should have come a little bit earlier but when I hit 299, I realized I really needed to do something. Even though I’m pretty tall and I’ve got a pretty big frame, there’s just no way that I should be 300 pounds. So I got involved in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and immediately shaved off 25 pounds and got down to about 275 pounds.

I started feeling a lot better and like I was in pretty good shape.  I was still about ten pounds off the weight I played ball in college at, but I still felt pretty good. So I was content for a little bit. That was until I had an instructor in the jiu jitsu program, Greg Souders, that pushed me and a couple of the other big guys to lose some weight with the idea that we would feel better and we would enjoy our exercise and sport a little bit more. So we had a competition. It’s amazing how making something a competition will push you to try new things and push you to break down barriers.

It was then that I actually started to follow a paleo eating program.  For those of you that are unfamiliar, I won’t go into too much detail but the paleo sort of lifestyle involves giving up a lot of things that I had really come to love. In fact, for about the last 7 or 8 months I’ve essentially been grain free, bread free no pastas, no milk, no dairy, and nothing with sugar added. It has been amazing the transformation, in not just how I look but how I feel.

I’m now down into the 240’s, which is where I was as a senior in high school. I feel absolutely tremendous and I think it carries over into my work.  I’ve finally gotten to a place where I can excuse any type of meal.  I used to drink a lot of lattes, I had a lot of high carb snacky type meals, a lot of, “Oh I’ll just catch a sandwich for lunch,” and it had become a habit over so many years working in such a high paced environment. It had become such a habit to the point where I actually thought I was eating fairly healthy. Looking back on it, I was eating terribly.

Now I have lunches that are salads, big hearty salads, but salads nonetheless. They can have steak on them, chicken, shrimp, whatever type of proteins you want including bacon. I also eat a lot more plain vegetables and a lot more meats that aren’t wrapped in grains. One thing that I’ve really noticed is that when I miss a meal, I don’t get the type of cravings that I used to get when I was on the more industrial based food diet.  While all of this is for the better, I think the one thing that has really driven me to stick with it has been that it’s not just that I lost this weight and I look better. It’s the whole feeling better at work and home all the time part that has really made this change worthwhile and enjoyable.

One of the things I thought I’d do is share a recipe. This recipe has been sort of what I’ve used to put in the lunchbox to take to work throughout the week. Despite how it may sound, it is extraordinarily tasty and my kids actually call it “fighter food” and they’ll eat it. This dish gets made every Sunday to make lunch for the rest of the week.  It is as follows:

  • 6 pounds of ground beef
  • 2 pounds of kielbasa,
  • 3 or 4 beets
  • 1 onion
  • 2 peppers
  • a bunch of carrots
  • curry powder
  • cayenne peppers
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes

I cook up the sausage and beef in a pan first.  Then I put all the rest of the ingredients into the crockpot along with the meat and let it stew for about two hours. (Side note: I leave out the cayenne peppers when cooking for the whole family and use it solely for my own personal stash of fighter food.  While I enjoy spicy foods I realize not everyone feels the same.) That is all there is to it. It’s a very easy dish to cook up and it keeps well for a whole week’s worth of lunches. Anyway I know this was a little bit of an off topic blog post but I really do think how you feel is a big proponent to how you perform at the office. So I wanted to share something that I think has really worked for me. With this combination of exercise and diet over the last year, I’ve dropped more than 50 pounds and I really feel good. I think it has led to better performance. So I would love to hear your responses and please don’t feel as though you’re obligated to try my meal, although if you do I’d love to get your feedback on it. Thanks for reading as always.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Respect your peers: Self-Checklist before you ask for help

Peer review

I was having lunch with a good friend over the weekend and we got on the subject of reviewing things for people. Now this was somebody I’ve actually sent quite a few things to review and I know I’ve been guilty of violating his pet peeves from time to time. He had an interesting take on things and it’s definitely something I’m going to apply to my life so I’d like to share it.  One of the things we talked about was how frustrating it is to get something from somebody with the caveat of, “Don’t worry about spelling or nit nats, just take a look at the content.” Now this is something that I’ve actually said on a few different occasions so maybe it was a subtle message to me but the more I thought about it, the more it made a lot of sense.  His take on it is that there are three things that everyone should have to do before they send a draft out to someone. They don’t take that long, they make the editor’s job immeasurably easier, and they greatly enhance the appearance of professionalism that you put forwards.

  1. Run spellcheck.  It seems obvious but I know that I’ve been guilty of forgetting to do it myself.
  2. Read it at least once and preferably out loud for grammar. I know how easy it is to quickly dash something out and send it across for somebody to check over. You don’t ask for much, you just want to see if you’re headed the right direction or if this is the right approach. While this doesn’t seem on the surface to be to harmful, his take on it is that everyone has time to read something at least once. You shouldn’t send anything from your desk that you haven’t at least read and I have to agree.  If you don’t read it and you’ve got some glaring grammatical errors or you’ve made some really obvious mistakes, even if you’re an otherwise an excellent writer, it takes away from the appearance of professionalism that everyone should try to put forward. It often unnecessarily increases the effort required by the editor to do the work. This may be fine if you’re paying a professional editor and it’s on your dime but if you’re asking for a peer review, or particularly if that person is in anyway involved in reviewing you from a professional standpoint, you may want to think twice about what you send across, even if that content is early stage draft.
  3. Lastly, you should always include a simple line that says what you’ve done to ready your work before sending it across to them.  Again I think this is something that I hadn’t necessarily thought about but I kind of agree that it’s important. It sets the stage for the person that you’ve asked to review or edit to understand where in the writing cycle this work is. I know that I’ve had quite a few things dropped on me where when you open it up you think, “Wow, this looks like it’s in a really early stage or really unformulated.” That uncertainty makes it hard to gauge how you should phrase your response back.

So I thought those were three pretty good tips for anything that you’re trying to get edited by somebody, get reviewed, or even if you’re crafting a simple letter out to somebody. Following through those simple steps increases the appearance of professionalism that you put forward to other people. Running a spell check and correcting simple and obvious grammar mistakes shows you being respectful of their time in not making them waste time on simple unnecessary corrections. Finally just conveying what type of document you’re putting across to them frames what you’re asking much more clearly.  Just some things to think about next time you ask a friend to look over something for you.  I’d appreciate your thoughts as always.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Take the “resent” out of presentations: Ideas for public speaking prep

Take the resent out of presentations Ideas for public speaking prep

At some point or another, most of us have had to present to a group, whether that it’s a small group of 4 people or 250+ people in a large audience type setting. Even when it’s one of the smaller groups of people, there’s a lot of stress associated with speaking in front of people. Some of that is the social pressure of wanting to perform well and for your message to be well received. The other apart of it probably goes back to when you’re a little kid; there’s this nervousness a lot of people feel. Now if you’re somebody who is naturally able to work well in those situations and you don’t feel pressure in speaking in front of groups, you should count yourself very lucky. I think for most people there’s some tension that comes along with that. So as somebody who spends a lot of time talking in front of both large and smaller groups I’ve, over time, come up with some ways to deal with public speaking related stress and to improve performance.

One of the things that I’ve started doing recently is I’ve started to videotape things.  It all started when I began videotaping some segments that I’ve done for interviews, little pieces to help explain certain aspects of our business or business products, or things for my blog. One of the things I’ve noticed through these videotapes is how easy it makes it to point out flaws in my delivery. So what I’ve started to do is incorporate this into my public speaking prep time.

I’m a Mac user so I take advantage of the capture tools that are readily available to Apple systems. I use those tools to pull in whatever I’m going to speak about and then I just play it back pretty quickly. This isn’t done with the idea of creating some tightly edited masterpiece but with the idea of being able to quickly get a sense of how things play out altogether. I think a lot of us have practiced what we’re going to say in the shower or in the mirror in your bathroom, but one of the problems I’ve always had with that is that you tend to focus on correcting things as you actually do it. One of the nice things about letting it go into a video recording tool on your computer is that you don’t have to focus on that. Instead you just focus on your actual delivery. Then when you get done, you play it back and you can see the areas where you maybe don’t have things thought through all the way, you stumbled a little bit, or you started to ad lib and you got lost or off message. Whatever the problem is, it just bubbles up to the surface.

I have found that if I do that two or three times, I can really identify all the little points in my talk where I get stuck.  You can find where you need a statistic here or something else there to punch up the point that you’re trying to make. I think it’s a really great and easy way to get a lot more value out of the effort that you put in to prep for talks and other things. It’s really worth looking into if you’ve never done it before. Added bonus, it’s really easy from a technical standpoint. You have a lot of different choices on the Mac and I’m sure there’s plenty on the PC as well but for the purposes of this you can use iMovie on the Mac to capture the video, play it back, and check out the points where you’ve had issues. It’s worth a try and I’d love to hear if anyone else has taken the same route.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

The therapeutic value of an unsent e-mail

Therapeutic value of an unsent email

I think the best ten minutes I spent this morning were ten minutes that were basically wasted.  I’ll never send the email I crafted in that time and it’s probably for the best but it certainly felt good writing it. So today’s unsent email happened because of a project we’ve been developing lately. We’ve been spending a lot of time working to develop an automated system with security and operational security capabilities for schools.  It’s something that I’m really passionate about and I believe there’s an opportunity to make a difference. I’ve got three kids and at the end of the day, job one to me for schools is getting my kids back home safely.  Of course I’d love it if they know their multiplication tables and their ABC’s but job one is just get them home safe.

One of the things that I’ve become a lot more aware of as my kids have gotten into school is I’ve become a lot more knowledgeable about what the statistics are around crime and safety in schools. It’s not the big incidences that you hear about on the news that should scare most parents because those are really unfortunate things that probably could have happened anywhere. Those are really difficult to prevent which doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try, it’s just that everyday there are lots of bad things happening that don’t make the news. Working to prevent those things is important too. So we’ve been trying to come up with a better way to have a conversation around the information in this space because there isn’t as much information as you would think.

We’re trying to help develop a mechanism to evaluate, across the board, the schools in this country for safety and security in a way that is economically feasible. If you know much about the schools in your community, you know that they’re probably facing some severe budgetary hurdles because the whole country is facing that issue. We saw this as an opportunity for the types of things that we’re good at in terms of being able to leverage the cloud to reduce costs, the development times, and to make things widely available rapidly. We saw this as a real opportunity for us to make a difference and we jumped into it. We basically jumped in and looked at many specific solutions. That’s part of what we do for a living whether it’s for large retail organizations, federal, or whatever it is, we bring our expertise in security, technology, information management, and performance management.

While we bring all our expertise in these areas we still look to other organizations to help make sure that we are looking at the problem all the way around. One of the things that I do not just with this school assessment but with every product that has been an outshoot of our services work, is reach out into that community and try to identify folks that may be able to help us ensure that what we are delivering is of the highest possible quality. So I’ve done some of that reaching out and you know at the outset of something like that, you’re going to get back some people who are going to take it as an attack on themselves. They will take it as attack on an area where they have their particular expertise. Essentially, you’re becoming competition.

So I’d sent a note to a gentleman and I’d spent a little bit of time trying to make sure that I emphasized the part explaining that what we’re trying to do is change the way that this space works in general. We want to make the economics work for schools and I got back a really nasty note. They basically said that they would never want to help a competitor and that we really didn’t know anything about the problem set. Like many other people, that type of response frustrates me.

So I spent about ten minutes putting together a response detailing all of the reasons why what we were doing is the right thing. I got to the end of it and realized that I would never send it. I didn’t send it because that response just adds fuel to the fire and it distracts from the mission at hand. So like I said that ten minutes was a waste of my time. I probably would have been better served to just say to myself, “You know what, this person is not interested in helping out, they don’t see the problem the way I see it, and they see what we’re doing as a threat to their livelihood.” It doesn’t help to get frustrated just because someone doesn’t see things your way. It’s probably a little bit childish. So it makes sense for me to not send that mail and that’s the bottom line but it was incredibly therapeutic for me to just put those thoughts down on paper. The simple act of getting those thoughts out of my head and into an email helped me to get over it even though I knew it would not be seen by anyone else.  I’m curious what other people think. Probably once every three or four days I write up a pretty good sized email and then don’t send it because I believe in the therapeutic value in authoring those emails. Word of caution to avoid unpleasant mishaps needs to be noted, make sure to delete them out of my draft folder to make sure they don’t get sent.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Friendly fighting fuels friendships

Friendly Fighting

I recently got into a pretty healthy argument with somebody I’ve known a very long time.  Afterwards I felt pretty bad about it but as I thought it about it more, I realized that we’ve had plenty of arguments over a long period of time and we’ve always ended up coming around. Either somebody would see the other person’s point or we would agree to disagree but I never really held onto any bad feelings for very long. As I think about it a little more, I think it’s probably a pretty healthy thing. A lot of the best friends that I have and the people that I’ve known the longest are people that really challenge me. That’s something that is healthy and something that you should maybe on some level look for.

I’ve got some good friends that I’m politically aligned with. Our thoughts on a lot of things are aligned and while that’s all great, too many of the same voice in the room can become a problem.  It doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t spur you to have any new thoughts, to come up with any new arguments, or really test you in any way. This lack of diversity in opinions around you probably doesn’t lend itself well to getting you somewhere as a person. Whereas the people that really push you to think about your beliefs or even simple decisions in a new way are incredibly valuable, from the sense of forcing you to think things through from different angles and understand them in a whole new way.

A lot of times, even things that you have as long held beliefs can get shifted a little bit if somebody comes at it from the right angle and I think that’s a great moment on some level. If somebody is able to make an argument that shifts your thinking on something even just a little bit, that is one probably a pretty good indicator of how good they are in terms of positioning their belief or their opinion. Maybe they brought something new to the table that you hadn’t considered before or whatever it is, I just think that we should welcome on some level people that push us to reconsider things. We should look for people who make us look at issues from new angles and we should really put a high value on those people in our lives. Those are the ones that force us to grow as people and not just stay wrapped into the same type of thinking that we’ve been able to get by with up to that point.

In terms of thinking of things from a how do I improve, how do I be a better me tomorrow than I was today point of view; those are the people that are going to help you get there.  I’m curious what other people think. I’d love to hear if there are any good stories out there about people that have forced you to think about something that you believed was an unshakeable opinion but they managed to change your mind. Those are always interesting when you hear somebody was able to bring somebody across to a new way of thinking or maybe there was a big decision around a project and somebody just got you to shift your thinking  based on how they positioned their argument.  So I’m very interested to hear those types of stories.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

The difference between keep pushing and being pushy

Being pushy

Being pushy probably won’t get you anywhere faster

I think everyone’s been there. Where you really want an answer or you need something done but you don’t have any real control or leverage over the person or organization on the other side. So you’re stuck in the position of essentially waiting until you get the information. I think it’s important when you run into that situation to remember the difference between keeping pushing and being pushy. From my personal experience, being pushy only succeeds in moving you further back in the queue. On the other hand, keeping pushing gives you that persistent reminder that you’re still waiting for an answer that doesn’t cross the line of being obnoxious.  Now I know that sounds like it might be a fine line and it is, but a lot of successfully walking the line is just about how you ask for things.

One of the number one priorities of walking the tight rope between pushing and pushy is how you phrase what you say. So leading with how long you’ve been waiting for something, pointing out where the holes in their process are, or anything else of that nature are probably things that cross the line into pushy.  Expressing that you understand that they’re busy, that there’s a lot going on, or anything that allows you to identify with them prior to making your request that’s already been made multiple times before, is almost always preferable. This is especially important if you are communicating with not an individual but an organization.

When the person you are dealing with is not consistent and your contact with that organization goes through several people, maintain the line between persistence and annoyance is especially hard. It’s important to be able to understand that that person you are talking to probably doesn’t play any role in the decision you are waiting on. They do, however, probably deal with people like yourself all the time; people who are frustrated with the poor processes that lead to this stagnation of business and is causing them to have repeated conversations about where things are. This is probably worth remembering because it doesn’t help you to take out your frustration on them.

If you’re dealing with an individual, the same principle applies. Most of the time they understand that you’ve been trying to contact them repeatedly. So you’re expression of understanding clears the way for them to have a response that doesn’t have to start with an explanation, which most people don’t like to explain why they’re late doing something or why they haven’t done something yet. So unless you have the type of authority where you can demand something and expect to get it, you’re better off identifying with the person. I think it helps too to put yourselves in their shoes if you can. I believe that most of the time people don’t ignore requests for no reason. They probably are genuinely busy or have some legitimate reason for not answering but again, forcing them to go down the explanation route and putting them on the defensive does not help the situation.  I think identifying with them enables them to help you without having to apologize to you and is probably your best bet.

Remember when you’re involved in this type of situation that the focus is not on fixing their problem, unless, of course, it is. It’s on getting the information or the result that you need. Don’t drag yourself into something that’s not your fight.  Make sure that you’re able to say and do the things that are going to enable you to get your job done and move forward from there.  Way too often we hamstring ourselves with a need to be right that prevails over the need to get whatever it is we actually needed to do to get the job done. Personally, instead of just getting the information I needed and moving on I have tried too many times to be right and then having to deal with the consequences. I found over time that it’s sometimes easier to just to be nice, be persistent, but don’t be overly focused on being right.  I’m curious about other people’s experiences. This is a that I think often comes with some good stories whether it be personal stories of working with a vendor over the phone, from your house or work stories and dealing with other companies and things like that. Look forward to hearing from you guys.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Success is refusing to be unsuccessful

United_States_Champion_Santino_Marella I watched an interesting bit of a documentary the other day about Bas Rutten’s life.  Bas Rutten is an early era mixed martial arts (MMA) figure and is still a notable presence in mixed martial arts today. Since MMA has become a more widespread activity he’s become a more mainstream figure as a TV analyst with a historical perspective on the sport. I thought one of the really interesting things, not to overly generalize here, is that a lot guys that are engaged in MMA at the top levels have come from pretty hard scrabble beginnings. He had a fairly similar upbringing.

What I found really interesting was when he talked about trying to figure out what he was going to do and where he wanted to end up in life. He did a lot of reading to that end and he was always interested in famous people and biographies of successful people. He said that one of the things that he realized as he read through all these stories was that there was a common thread. The thread was that all these really successful people pushed through circumstances that might have made somebody else quit in order to succeed. So the takeaway that he had and that he used to sort of shape his life around was that success was inevitable if he kept trying.  If he hadn’t succeeded it was because he hadn’t succeeded yet. So he took this never give up attitude forward. He said, “You know maybe one day I’ll die trying but so far not giving up has been the key to my success.”  I just thought it was a really interesting take on things.

I know that at various times in my own life I look back and think, “Well maybe in that circumstance I probably should have given up a little bit earlier,” and “Maybe I hung on too long and it cost me,” but I think that the habit of pushing through is an important one. It’s important to push through ordinary troubles and even sometimes extraordinary troubles if you believe in what you’re doing and it is worth it. I believe there is something to the idea that a lot of people that are very successful are successful on the basis of simply refusing to be unsuccessful. Of course I’m certainly not going to discount good fortune or being in the right place at the right time. There are clearly many, many, many, other factors that go into being successful.

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that have worked extraordinarily hard, never given up their dreams, yet they never realized the success that maybe they wanted. There’s some part of me that wants to believe that those people, even if they didn’t reach the success that they wanted, that the passion that they had for trying to succeed carried them through the tough times. Maybe if they looked back they wouldn’t change a thing anyways.  That may be wishful thinking but I’m curious what other folks think out there. I know that the “never say quit” “never say die” attitude can get you into trouble as much as it can urge you forward to success, but I’m curious what stories other people have to share from both sides of that. It was a really interesting documentary on many levels but I thought that piece in particular really resonated with me. I think I was so stuck on that part because I truly believe that a certain amount of success is just predicated on refusing to be unsuccessful.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Pushing your limits and knowing when to take a break

Tired Blog

Every once in a while most executives, managers, or anyone who is pushing hard to achieve a little more and perform a little better, is going to run into times that they’re going to have to go above and beyond. Times where you’re going to have to put in a lot of hours in a condensed period of time.  If you’re not careful, you’re going to get blown out. Now I’ve recently experienced this and have been putting in a lot of work to kick start a new business venture. This has meant a lot of late nights and weekends. It’s essentially become all-consuming but one of the things that I’ve tried really hard to do in the face of all that is to ensure that I don’t carry it too far forward. By that I mean I’ll explicitly take time to get rest.  There’s no way that, at least in my experience, that you can go 110% all the time.

If you get too many days in a row where you’re working 12, 14, or 16 hours and maybe only sleeping 3 or 4 hours, you will break down and your body will break down. You’ll get sick, the quality of your work will suffer, and you’ll take twice as long to get half as much done. So that is why you have to, no matter how pressing the timeline, force yourself to take a rest. It is very much a discipline thing. You have to force yourself to do things that are a part of your normal regime whether it’s exercise or something else. I know that even if I get very little sleep, a lot of times I get so amped up by the pursuit that I’m in midst of that I can’t sleep. So what I find, even after I’ve been up for a day straight, if I go to the gym and get a good sweat going it releases some of the mental tension that I have. It will enable me to get better rest. So I think that maintaining a reasonable level of physical activity and making sure that you take time to get good rest is critical.  I don’t mean go 18 hours, crash out for 3 hours, get up and go another 18 hours. You have to give yourself some recharge time. You’ve got to know your limits.

I know for myself I can do 2 or 3 days with very little sleep but eventually I’ve got to circle back around and take care of myself.  The tendency too often is to push until you can’t push anymore and that’s when you end up having other things slip through the cracks.  You have to maintain enough reserve so that you can deal with contingencies. You need to have enough reserve so that you can react to other things that are going on in your life and in your business. So you have to be really careful about how far into the red you push yourself because if you don’t keep enough in reserve you’re destined to break down and you can have some really catastrophic failures.  I’m curious to know how other people feel about this. I know that it is easier said than done and that the tendency is to push until you can’t push anymore. A lot of times we reward that sort of warrior mentality but I think that if you aren’t careful about it, you can really put yourself in a bad position. So I think it’s very important to be careful about just how hard you push yourself.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.