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As part of the stand-up comedy class I took, we were to have a showcase for the 12 people in the class. I was genuinely excited about the showcase. As a professional speaker, I am used to being on the platform and I enjoy the experience. This time, I was really looking forward to the prospect of making people laugh - I will confess that this is one of my favourite parts in any of my talks anyway. I believe that laughter has just an amazing capability to bring people together and help them retain ideas better.

So - I was excited about the showcase. THEN I started to invite people and most of the reactions (even from other professional speakers!) were "Wow, you are brave to do this!!" Then I started to doubt my own excitement. I thought there was something wrong if I didn't feel afraid - and so I started to get nervous. By the time the showcase day arrived, I was a nervous wreck! Fortunately I remembered on the stage that I was there to just have FUN and so I did! Based on the laughs I got, others had fun as well. The lesson from this? If you feel excited and others think you should be afraid, forget the others - STAY EXCITED!!!

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The perfectionist says "If I cannot do something right the first time, I won't do it at all!" I have found over the years, in my own life as well as in those who I have coached, that this is one of the greatest inhibitors to moving forward.

Creativity is not a magical process that is reserved for some of us and totally prohibited to others. It is irrelevant whether we are wanting to be creative for the purpose of making our business better, writing music, writing poetry, painting, selling a product, singing, or even sports. The secret is in the numbers.

By trying to come up with "the" perfect answer to a question, creativity gets stuck. Asking "what is the BEST way for you to solve this problem?" will block most people. If I ask "give me 50 ways to solve this problem", people at first gulp at the difficulty of the task and THEN proceed to come up with brilliant ideas! Try that the next time you don't have "the" answer!

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Probably the most common question I get from a new coaching client is the "if I do what I want to do, will I make money at it?"

The question often comes from people who want to change careers or from people who are at a stuck place in their business.

Based on my observations of happy AND successful people, they all do something that they enjoy doing. They all worked hard at it. Many of them say that they love what they do enough that they would do it even without being paid for it. That's good, since most of them also report that the beginnings were often tough!

Based on what I have seen, the good news is "yes, you WILL make money if you do what you love." The bad news is the time it can take - often a 7 to 10 year period. Some will make it sooner and that's a bonus. In either case, it's worth it!

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Having just hurt my shoulder (sorry, there is no good story to this, I just twisted a tendon in my sleep!), I got again reminded of the difference between fixing causes and effects. At first, I went to see a clinic doctor. She just said "here are some anti-inflammatory drugs, ice the shoulder every few hours, it will take at least 5 days to 3 weeks to get better." The acupuncturist said "there is a block in the flow of energy. Let's look at where the block is and release the block." The difference between the two approaches is obvious and quite unfortunate. Sometimes we can be so focused on the immediate pain that we want "quick, instant" results and we forget to look for the cause of the pain.

As a lawyer, I saw the difference between filing lawsuits and negotiating solutions to problems. Filing lawsuits generally had the "well, now I have you, you bastard" feeling to it but, far too often, it accomplished very little. Negotiating, on the other hand, was often far more uncomfortable to deal with in the short term but always had far better long-term results.

Harv Ekker, a well-known speaker and consultant, uses this great analogy to explain the difference between fixing causes and fixing symptoms. He says to imagine a computer file with a spelling mistake in it. If we press the print button, out comes a page with a spelling mistake on it. We can do one of two things: 1) take out some liquid paper and correct the mistake, or 2) open the computer file and correct the spelling error in the file. The former approach corrects the symptom and the latter approach corrects the cause. With the "liquid paper" method, a lot of time is wasted because the symptom has to be fixed each time that page is printed. With the latter method, it only has to be done once.

Next time, as you meet an obstacle, look to correct the cause. Depending on the level of pain, you may need to tend to the symptoms as well but, always, look for the REAL cause!

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One of the simplest tools in going forward is the concept of feedback. Generally speaking, our society considers negative feedback a "bad" thing and positive feedback a "good" thing. In fact, both are crucially necessary for growth in any area of life and business.

Our bodies function on the basis of positive and negative feedback loops. The combination of these two is what keeps our body temperature steady, what keeps both sides of our faces very similar, and what keeps us from over-exerting and hurting ourselves.

For feedback to work well, it must be SPECIFIC and it must be directed at the behaviour or result, rather than at the person involved. "You did well" feels good but doesn't really help. "You were awful" paralyzes further actions.

Helpful feedback should focus on what is working and on what could be improved. Instead of "you're the BEST!", say "I like that your projects are always on time". On the negative side, don't say "you can't spell!!" Say "I notice spelling mistakes in your work." You can follow up with consequences. To the extent possible, reward positive behaviour. Negative results need to be recognized but be careful with negative consequences unless really necessary. Good feedback should simply put more light on the right path and less light on the other path.

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Trust is what comes as a result of consistent positive actions, over a period of time. Even the smallest things, ESPECIALLY the smallest things repeated over and over again, can make or break a sense of trust. Trust is not something that can ever be taken for granted because, once broken, it takes so much to gain it back.


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"Results happen based on the actions taken. Without action, there are no results. Sometimes, without action, there are negative results. Ask anyone affected by the horrific actions in Nazi Germany. Those results didn't happen because many people did horrible things while a few people did nothing. Those results happened because a few people did horrible things and many people did nothing."

Pavla Michaela Polcarova, Power Thoughts Journal






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