Friday 31 August 2012

To Infinity and Beyond!

I always thought my career could go in two directions after my book was published: consulting or corporate. Either I would apply the advice from Change With Confidence at my clients' or next employer's businesses. Robert Cialdini said "He who has the most options wins." Having two options is definitely better than one, or is it?

Having two options gives you choice but it also implies that you have not committed to one. When I shared my two options with someone in the publishing industry, she wondered if the corporate option would limit my ability to promote my book. She was right: I would be absorbed in the challenges of my new role and team. The consulting option is far more flexible. I can blend speaking engagements and other promotional activities with assignments, giving the required time to both.

This week, I committed to the book promotion/consulting option. I incorporated a company called Change With Confidence Incorporated ("Limited" and "Confidence" don't go together) that matches the business cards I purchased earlier.

When the security guard at a client's office asked what company I was from, I belted out "Change With Confidence!" Buzz Lightyear would have been proud. The security guard paused before writing it in his book. Change with Confidence Incorporated became official!

As I walked away, clipping my guest badge to my belt, I thought, "To infinity and beyond. That sounds about right." 


Thursday 23 August 2012

Where does your confidence come from?

On Monday, our son Sam celebrated his sixteenth birthday by jumping out of a plane. He had been planning it for months and two of his cousins agreed to jump too; it was a family event.

You might wonder, "Why would anyone jump out of a plane?" Sam, Jim, and Sarah's motivations weren't clear when they were suiting up. They were guessing how free-falling would feel. Would there be a sinking feeling in their stomachs like a roller coaster or would it feel like they were on a blanket of air? They seemed to be excited by the unknown, unconcerned that they didn't know what they were about to experience. The only thing they knew for certain was that it would be amazing.
I was struck by their confidence and the similarities between sky diving and leading change. Dan Rockwell said, "Confidence is a product of knowing what to do next." I like this quote and feel that the main benefit of my book is building people's confidence to navigate (and lead) change by helping them decide what to do next. The sky diving experience suggests that it is not enough to help leaders find answers: they must also believe they have the ability to do so. Leaders must do far more than "paint by numbers": they must paint new, powerful paintings. The confidence mindset is essential for long-term success. 

All three jumpers were ecstatic about their experiences. Apparently you don't get a sinking feeling in your stomach when you free-fall or feel like you are on a blanket of air. They were united in wanting to jump again. Sky diving and leading change can be addictive.

When the  Skydive Toronto videographer asked Sam why he was jumping, he said, "I am looking for the thrill." The next question was "How do you think it's going to be?" and Sam replied, "Great." These answers are similar to a leader of change saying, "I am excited about building a new organization. I am not sure exactly what it will look like but I know it will be great." Two examples of the confidence mindset.

I will re-read my manuscript to ensure I reinforce a confidence mindset. They can last forever. I will also say to Sam again how proud I am of him and his leadership abilities.


Thursday 16 August 2012

It's Great to Be Here!

This week, I had a great conversation with a director of a speakers bureau about joining its roster. Public speaking is an excellent way to raise my profile and increase my chances of getting published.

TimeOut Chocolate Bar Launch - 1998
I have come a long way from my grade eight speech on sharks when I froze half-way through my talk. I became paralyzed when I realized that thirty classmates were staring at me. I stopped breathing, which made my voice sound higher than it already was. Panicked, I squeezed my shark's jaw prop until one of the teeth punctured my skin. I looked through watery eyes at my teacher who gave me a "keep going" look. Somehow I regained the ability to take in air and got through the rest of my presentation. I did not like public speaking. 

Commercial Training Program - 2006
In the mid-90s, I accepted a job that required excellent public speaking skills. The role description noted that sixty percent of the time would be spent facilitating training or keynote speaking. Not much had changed since my 'shark tank' experience but it was an exciting opportunity. 

My first seminar on customer service was painful although my breathing was surprisingly good. Like most things, challenges get easier with experience and I started enjoying being in front of crowds. It became fun - especially when people laughed at my jokes, exhausting and rewarding. Eventually, I was more comfortable in front of large groups than I was off-stage.

Change Speaking Engagement - 2012
Since then, public speaking has been a staple of my career and something I still enjoy. I am looking forward to regularly speaking  to groups, as long as I don't have to talk about sharks.


Friday 10 August 2012

Who owns that voice in my head?

I received my first publisher rejection notice this week from the nicest man in the world. My book topic is too specific for the portfolio, however, the proposal was promising and I received some great new contacts to explore. Of all the rejections I may receive, this one will be the best.

My "look on the bright side" perspective is opposite  to how I interpreted not getting a call back from a friend of a friend who works at a publishing house. As the weeks slipped by, I slid from "she is busy" to "she isn't interested" to "she hates me." I was aghast when I noticed last night that my email had bounced back and not been delivered. Why did the voice in my head go to the dark side? Why did it move me to the darkest part of the dark side? Why didn't I check my delivery failure folder? Who owns that negative voice in my head?

I own that voice in my head and am accountable for my perspectives, emotions, and actions. Negativity drains your energy and slows you down. It nudges you off course and blocks your creativity.  I am putting the following mechanisms  in place so this doesn't happen again.

  • Check my delivery failure folder to make sure my email was received
  • Use more than one method of contact (email, phone, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Communicate when and how I will make contact again ("I will follow up/call you next week...")
  • Record each communication and follow up date on my calendar
  • Increase the number of contacts to gain momentum and lessen the impact of each one
  • Assume positive intent
The last one is the most powerful and attacks the negative voice at it's core. It's an ongoing battle.


Friday 3 August 2012

Progress Equals Happiness

Have you noticed that you find things when you need them most? Somehow they appear in the nick of time. Destiny? Probably not. A heightened awareness of your surroundings? Probably. 

What I needed this week was encouragement and I found it through a quote by Tony Robbins: "Progress equals happiness." I thought about it a lot and I couldn't think of an instance when it wasn't true. I think the opposite is also true: Lack of progress equals unhappiness. 

I was feeling low-spirited this week and I wanted to know why. After contacting the publishers with which I had warm introductions, I started researching the ones with no connections. It was a slog with no sense of accomplishment.

Since I am an optimist, my question was, "How to you realize a sense of progress (and happiness) when you're doing mundane tasks that don't appear to be moving you forward? I think the key is how you define progress. The less glamorous or exciting steps are as critical to my success as the more exciting milestones, such as finishing writing or editing. Each step signifies progress. So the tasks of research, cold calling, and customized proposal writing need to be elevated in my eyes so I realize progress and gain happiness from them. Maybe the secret to perpetual encouragement is captured by the adage, "Enjoy all of the sights along the way."