The Secret Ingredient For Getting Stuff Done

How To Get Your GSD Degree!

Why is it so hard to get stuff done sometimes, even easy stuff?  There are a lot of reasons.

Some are good reasons and some are excuses disguised as good reasons. Sometimes, it’s because we are “Stuck”. Perhaps the most common reason is because it’s just as easy not to do something as it is to do it.

What most have an even harder time with is knowing how to change and get things done when they are not….even when they have a powerful “Why”.

Whether big tasks or small, there is an inertia we all have to overcome. If there seems to be an underlying principle working to keep us where we are at it’s because there is. And a secret to overcoming it is tapping the power of  accountability.

By  putting the following 3 accountability principles into action, you’ll be on the fast track to earning a GSD (getting stuff done) degree and getting more stuff done than you ever thought was possible:

The What

  • Small stuff–  Success is merely a few key disciplines, repeated every day. And failure is only a few errors in judgement, repeated everyday. Therefore, you have to hold yourself accountable for the mundane, monotonous and incremental actions that matter big-time over the long-haul.
  • Big Stuff- This “what” is obvious. The problem is that instead of “eating it small slices”, we try to choke the whole loaf down at once.

The How

Accountability can be incorporated several ways:

  • Say it
    • One-to-One- Share your commitment with another person. It’s best if that someone is a person you respect, who cares about you, and won’t let you off the hook.
    • Group or Team- When you make a commitment to a group, you leverage peer pressure in a positive way.  You may also get the benefit of hearing other creative approaches you  haven’t thought about.
  • Write it
    • Writing is a tangible reminder and activates our brain in a powerful way not done by thinking or talking alone. These words by  Michael Hyatt summarize it well:  “Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips”.
    • A list in the form of action items or daily behaviors that can be “checked off” can be powerful.
  • Incorporate structure
    • Putting hard stops in place can give you a sense of urgency. Examples would setting a task timer of some sort or telling someone to leave without you if your not there by a certain time (Ouch!).

The Why of accountability

There are many. Below are the ones I think factor in most:

  • We’re forced to clearly define what it is we are committing to, especially when we write it down.
  • We’re more aware of what we are committing to, which allows us to better weigh the risks, consequences and rewards.
  • It’s a form of “activation intent”. When we put accountability in place, we’ve actually taken a proactive step in moving toward what we are after.
  • Our commitment is kept front and center because we now have someone or something external to our own rationalizing brain to answer to.
  • It leverages positive peer pressure. No one wants to look bad or let someone down.

Whether it’s a BHAG goal or the small actions you want to transform into habits, sometimes your powerful “Why” isn’t going to be enough for you to get it done. Your going to have to leverage the other side of that “Why” coin: accountability. It’s just as important and sometimes more so.

Think of one thing you’ve wanted to get done and repeatedly haven’t. Now, what’s one way you could incorporate accountability into your efforts?

Give it a go, I have no doubt you’ll get a lot more done than you did without it. And if you do, please leave a comment and let me know how it goes (yes, feel free to write it down here and hold yourself accountable!).

How to Be An MVP at Getting Big Things Done

Why Doing The Minimum Gets You The Maximum

Plans are necessary, good and can be exciting. In fact, being an Enneagram 7 I love to plan and think of all the possibilities. So much so I can get totally derailed by the planning process…..and be faked out into thinking I’m making tangible progress!

What I really like to do is execute. I want to get stuff done, see the final product and reach the goal. After all, nothing breeds success like success. And nothing can sabotage it like trying to “go big” when your trying to achieve big things.

The Secret To Achieving Big Things

So what’s the secret to achieving big things? Starting small.

The most effective form of internal motivation is making progress….any type of progress.  Behavioral research and at least the last 50 yrs of experience in the business world has clearly demonstrated that to be the case.

The more I thought about it after reading through Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism for the third time, I realized the simple concept of incremental progress lies at the heart of most popular and highly effective productivity approaches. Here are a few:

It also underlies the foundation of the Solution Focused Coaching model, which is “small steps successively approximated lead to big change.”

How To Go Small To Go Big

So what’s the secret to “going small to get to big”? Using the MVP approach to get MVP results.

Minimal Viable Preparation (MVP): the key concept is to start early and small. Take a goal or project and ask yourself “What one small thing could I do right now to support it?” Here are some examples:

  • Writing a book: On day 1, just make the file folders that will contain each chapter’s content. Done
  • Big presentation coming up: Open and name the presentation file (or save a copy of the template file you use with the name of the presentation). Enter the title and jot down a few quick points. Done
  • Key stake holder meeting: once scheduled,  take 10 seconds to write down the main points you want to cover.  Done
  • Major project: Write down the first three action items you need to accomplish, then block time on your calendar to do the first one. Done

Minimal Viable Progress (MVP2):  It’s been said that “Done is better than Perfect”. How true, because perfect never really gets done! Instead of perfect or even grand, focus on the next small step by asking yourself this question: “What is the smallest thing I can achieve that will actually move me a bit closer to where I want to be with this?”

In addition to actually getting stuff done vs adding to the pile, we reap more enjoyment and satisfaction when we take small steps to make big change.

I have to admit I was tempted to bag writing a blog post this week, which is packed and includes travel. I took the MVP approach instead. At the end of Monday I just created a file, named it, and jotted a topic down. That’s it, done. A to-do item on my list for the next day was “open file”. The rest is what you’re reading here.

What’s one thing you’ve been putting off that taking an MVP approach would help you get started with?

Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear about your results.

How To Keep From Coming Unglued

2 Ways You Lose Your Emotional Grip

Just about everyone has at least one moment they would like to take back; a quick act or word spoken. Whether it’s a few of these episodes or many, like paper thrown to the wind, they can’t be recalled. What you can do is keep it from happening again (and in some cases, again and again).

The trouble is that while most people know they want to react better when they get triggered, they don’t know how.

That’s where having practical framework for gaining insight and understanding of your default reaction mode can be invaluable.  Unfortunately, most of us have little if any awareness of our default reaction mode when our hot buttons are pushed.

The challenge is being able to label how you react so you can then get a handle on it.

That’s why Lysa Terkuest’s podcast (part 1 and part 2) discussing her book “Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions” resonated with me. By breaking down the 15 competencies of SEI into 2 basic categories that everyone can understand, her model can help you quickly to get a handle on where you’re at. And once you know where your at, you can decide what you want to be different and the how to go about the change.

It starts by recognizing that internal conflict occurs when we feel exposed or opposed. One of our hot-buttons is pushed and we get triggered. Easy enough.

Where it gets tough is recognizing our own default reaction patterns and clearly labeling them. The good news is that Lysa’s model provides a tool doing just that; two simple categories, each with two flavors.  The other news here is that doing so requires some reflection and often times honest and painful admissions.  After all, who wants to admit they’re basically a “Stuffer” or “Exploder”?

Which One Are You?

A “Stuffer” is someone who keeps everything to themselves and does all they can to avoid conflict; just pushes it in and avoids. He or she then:

  • Builds barriers- keeps it from happening again by staying away or keeping the other person away. Passive aggressiveness comes to mind.
  • Collects Rocks- “retaliation rocks”, specifically.  Behind the sweet smile he or she is quietly finding and storing away everything they possibly can to inflict maximum damage at a later and more opportune time.

An “Exploder” makes no pretenses and has little if any filter. They just go off in an attempt to make “it” go away. She or he then:

  • Blames- spews blame at others like bile and takes no ownership of what happened or how they are reacting.
  • Shames- similar to the first because it involves blame; only this time it’s directed inward shortly after the eruption and results in shame.  If you could hear the self-talk there would be a lot of “shoulding” and “ought-to-have” being said.

The Liberating Truth

Your default reaction patterns are not who you are and you don’t have to be defined by them. The fact that it’s possible to be both given the context is ample proof. For example, you might be a “Stuffer” when it comes to your boss and an “Exploder” with your kids.  Remind yourself it’s something you do and not who you are. More importantly, know you can do something about…if you’re willing.

The good news is that our emotions are indicators, not dictators; emotional smoke signals if you will. Keeping that reality in mind as well as our default reaction patterns can help us react how we want to instead of how we are inclined to. It begins with self-awareness.

How is your natural reaction style affecting the results you’re getting?

Whether your a Stuffer and Exploder, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts

Key To Emotional Mastery And Symmetry

3 Ways You Can Build Yours

If your emotional fitness was visible to others as an external physique, would it attract or repel?

Because our physical appearance is usually the first thing others notice about us, we give it a lot of attention.  What we usually don’t realize is that our emotional state is probably the next thing people pick up on about us and they usually do it pretty quickly.  The reality is that emotions are contagious and our neuronal circuitry is wired so that they are easily influenced and  “caught”.

Physical asymmetry

Having grown up competing in sports and being physically active, I identify much easier with the physical than the emotional.  Perhaps you do too.

It’s pretty easy to tell a lifter who is well rounded vs one who just focuses on their favorite body region or workout routine. The guy in the gym with bulging biceps, a massive chest and pencil legs is an easily identifiable example of the latter. No question that an upper body workout is more fun and less difficult than lower body but the end result is a bit grotesque. If you want the full package, you have to work on the full package (leg day, anyone?)

Emotional Mastery and Symmetry

Likewise, maximum emotional fitness requires mastery and symmetry of our ability to experience a full range of feelings and virtues, not just the ones we gravitate toward naturally or like. Besides the lack of the visual, what makes things more difficult in this arena is that the mind doesn’t like to hold the tension brought on by contradictory impulses.

For example:

  • If you value toughness you may undervalue tenderness.
  • If spontaneity is your thing, then self-control may be excused.
  • If you value honesty above all else then it’s easy (and convenient) to forget the compassion.
  • Just because you’re bold doesn’t mean you can do away with caution.
  • If “happy land” is your preferred destination, avoiding any hint of sorrow or pain can land you in the opposite location quick.

The list of opposite emotions and virtues that need be held in tension and symmetry could go on, but I think I the point is clear. The real issue is our self awareness of how we’re balanced in this area and our level of mastery with it.

The Key

To be fully engaged emotionally requires the capacity to hold opposite virtues and emotions simultaneously, or anacoluthia. Anacoluthia is the mutual entailment of virtues and accompanying emotions whereby a virtue isn’t a virtue by itself. After all, honesty without compassion becomes cruelty.

Here are 3 ways to build anacoluthia.

  1. Accept the tension that comes with holding opposites- view them as a tension to be managed not a problem to be “fixed”.
  2. Learn to value all the virtues-  discover what proportions work best and see the synergy; don’t choose sides.
  3. Appreciate your weak areas- qualities you naturally oppose or don’t like have their merits; let go of judgement and find leverage instead.

Often the most important things are simple to understand but hard to do. In this case, it’s complex and contradictory as well. The end goal is to build your capacity move freely and flexibly between your own opposites.

If your emotional “physique” were as visible as your physical one, where would you start working asap?

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear where and how the symmetry is for you.

The Secret to Building Great Rapport

5 Forces That Attract

What is it about some people that give them the ability to attract and hold influence with just about anyone? Especially when there are others out there who seem to be able to repel just about everyone.  The former is called rapport, also more commonly known as “connection”. The later goes by a number of names (most can’t be written here).

Why is the ability to establish strong rapport so important? Because it’s essential if you want to have optimal influence with people as well as organizations.

While most of us are between the two extremes mentioned above, the reality is that all of us, like a magnet, are capable of either attracting or repelling to various degrees.

Who are the people in your life you’ve seen or known who seem to have a natural ability to attract anyone, even the most disagreeable?  It’s not just about being “nice”. In fact, having great rapport gives you the ability to say hard things to hard people who not only listen, but really feel like you still care for them…..even when the stakes are large, emotions run high and opinions differ.  My dad is like that and has been as long as I can remember.  In fact, he is so good at it that when I was a kid he could shift me from crying to being optimistic in seconds sometimes, or even have me laughing.

5 Forces That Attract

While some people no doubt are naturally gifted at rapport, the good news is that you can grow your rapport by focusing on the following five forces:

  1. Self-awareness- is simply to know yourself as you really are in all domains. It comes from developing a straight-forward understanding of how you experience things and what makes you tick.
  2. Empathy- is simply to see and feel things from someone else’s perspective; to put yourself in someone else shoes. At a more granular level, there are various kinds of empathy as well as ways to effectively leverage it.
  3. Positive Regard- is not just viewing another as a person worthy of respect, but allowing yourself to experience positive attitudes like warmth, caring, and interest about them as well. You don’t have to necessarily like him or her, you just have to keep your personal judgements from interfering with a view from which positive attitudes can flow.
  4. Genuiness- may also be known as authenticity or congruence and relates to trust. It’s not just about what you do but about who you are: open vs closed; owning it vs avoiding it; kind as well as challenging when necessary.
  5. Presence- It’s a way of bringing yourself and being with another with. It is an in-the-moment experience that is bodily, sensory and interpersonal and features a quite confidence and accompanying gravitas.

3 Foundational Traits

While the five forces that attract are extremely powerful and synergistic, they have to rest on a three-fold foundation:

  • Self-control- is required to maintain focus, manage self-talk, making judgments, regulate emotions and find the positives in the other person regardless of their characteristics or situation.
  • Psychological mindedness”-  involves being aware of the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of both the other person and yourself, then “reading between the lines” and putting the pieces together.
  • Genuine interest-  means you have the other person best interests in mind and care about them…even when you have to work hard at it.

The ability to establish strong rapport is essential for optimal connection and influence. Is your’s where you want it?

As you reflect on what your rapport building ability, a good exercise is to think of how various people might answer if someone else asked them about it. That would include not only your fans but those who are a challenge for you as well .

Regardless, the good news is that you can grow your ability to build rapport. The other news is you have to work at it.

What would having the ability to build better rapport do for you personally as well as your most important enterprise?

Please leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear about it.