A Free Offer to My Readers

bright rainbow colored watercolor paints isolated on white paper

A note and free offer to my readers. 

I am in the process of changing my platform for doing on-line meetings and classes. Sometime next week, I will be running a free trial – a free version of a class I do, aimed at helping people who have gotten away from their creativity recover the joy and power of their art (whatever art that might be.)

Why free? Because I need testers to tell me if the platform is working well. If this is something you’d be interested in doing, stay tuned. I’ll be doing an official launch early next week.

Tom

Are You Uncomfortable Yet?

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I began my work as a consultant/coach almost six years ago. And in that time I have learned this: That the most important question to ask yourself before bringing a consultant or coach into your life or work has nothing to do with what you want, or their credentials or the project itself.

I didn’t understand that at first. I had a hard time understanding why some clients flourished, and some did not and it’s taken a lot of note taking, study and number crunching to finally get to the place where I can say this in confidence – your success, whether it is on your own or with a consultant or coach helping you along the way, is your willingness to be uncomfortable.

That’s right, uncomfortable.

You see, if you are making progress – and this is true whether you are building a startup, re-inventing an organization, building your own perfect life, or recrafting your marketing – if you are making progress, you will get to the place where you have to change something you are comfortable with. And that thing you don’t want to change, while it feels comfortable, is what is holding you back. It’s the same for all of us.

It sounds pretty obvious. Change means change. But when we want to change something that is comfortable, something happens in our head. We become resistant. And many of us decide to just keep that roadblock in place.

It happens in technology. I had a client once (who will remain un-named) who hired my company to redo their audio room. They spent over a hundred thousand dollars on a new digital audio board. The new board was crazy powerful. It could do things that twenty years ago we never thought about doing. It was amazing. But the client was afraid of all the change. They were comfortable with how their old board worked. And so slowly, we dumbed down the new one, until it was the effective equivalent of the old, less than ten thousand dollar board we replaced. As far as I know, they never grew into the board and are still living without the change they claimed to want.

It happens to people and companies too. They are all fired up to change, to become something new, to re-invent, but at some point, we hit that comfort zone and it’s like running head first into a stone wall. Often I continue for a while as a consultant or a coach after we hit the wall, but inevitably, their discomfort is the end. All the advice, information, history and facts in the world can’t budge them.

I, as the consultant/coach generally gets the blame.

Fortunately, the reverse happens too. When clients take a deep breath and plunge through their comfort zone, they generally find out that stone wall is really made out of tissue paper. They barrel right through and suddenly, begin to make real progress. They almost inevitably get to where they want.

And I, as the consultant/coach generally gets the credit. But the credit is not mine. The credit goes to them. They pushed past their uncomfortableness and that’s where success is found.

They are no smarter than my less than totally successful clients. No richer. No more resources. They are simply braver. More willing to live in that place of uncomfortableness for a short while to get to where they want to be.

Here’s what is most remarkable about this.

It works for clients, no matter what they are after.

  • It works for Technology clients building a new broadcast facility.
  • It works for businesses trying to grow, start or reinvigorate a company.
  • It works for Non-profit organizations that are struggling.
  • It works for all sorts of coaching clients, be they executives, entrepreneurs, artists or spiritual seekers.

And, once the time of uncomfortableness is past, they all tell me the same thing – that it was not nearly as bad as they anticipated. The dire things they worried about did not happen.

All that worry for nothing.

So do you want to make a change in your life and work? A serious, major change? Don’t fret over the how. At least not at first. Save yourself a lot of time and work and getting halfway there by asking yourself if you are willing to be uncomfortable for a while.

If you are, you are already 2/3 of the way there.

Be well. Travel wisely

Tom

Magnetic compass on a world map

Wrong

downtown roanoke

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Combining my business, arts and church blogs into one. Less work for me. And maybe some cross pollination as people were exposed to other sides of me.

Silly me.

I’ve been chewed up by readers this past week or so. Or a least a lot of my readers. It seems that my business readers have little use for poetry and spirituality. They don’t want to sort through the stuff they don’t care about to get to what they do.

And my spiritual, Christian, looking for a sermon readers don’t care much for things like marketing, leadership.

Oddly, my readers of poetry and art aren’t complaining. They may hate the idea, but they are quiet about it.

My other readers? Not so much.

So please, disregard my post about combining them all into one. I was wrong. I’m pretty good at it. That’s why the picture that heads this entry is my absolutely favorite picture of all the images I’ve ever taken.

With that in mind, you might want to check out this TED talk on being wrong. It was great for me and my slightly bruised ego. If you hate being wrong, this might give you another way to look at it.

So. back to 3 blogs on three subjects. This, of course, is my work blog, focused on my work as a personal coach and corporate consultant.

My blog that follows my part-time pastorate, with occasional sermons and topics of faith, is Two Tiny Churches.

My blog of poetry, thoughts, and photography is The Quarry House Blog.

Be well. Travel wisely. And don’t worry about being wrong.

It can be good for you.

Tom

Changes

firelight

I am making some changes in my blog.

Actually, I am making some changes in all my blogs. You see, I have several. One for my work as a coach and consultant. One for my work as a pastor. One for my poems, essays, and photography. One for my affirmations and memes. One for my artwork.

Following all the tenants of modern marketing, that’s the smart thing to do. It’s called micro-marketing or target marketing, and you create separate paths, each one tailored to a specific group, to draw them in. People who read poetry, the thinking goes, aren’t going to be interested in business reading. Business people aren’t into that touchy feely faith stuff. You get the idea.

But a new client recently blew that concept of micro-marketing right out of the water for me. I’ve known this guy for 20 years. I once hired him as an intern, gave him his start and watched him soar. He’s done remarkably well and is ready, twenty years later, to make some major life changes. He called on me out of the blue.

“Why me?” I asked. He lives in a major city. There are zillions of life coaches in big cities. High powered, well-known guys. The kinds of guys he works with all the time and would feel comfortable with. I live in Nowhere, Vermont. I run a small, low-key coaching practice. I like it that way, but I am not exactly the kind of guy this client normally works with.

“It’s because you do everything.” he said. “I don’t want a compartmentalized life any more. It’s too hard. I want everything to fit together better. And that’s what you do. “But,” he said. “You sure make it hard for people to realize that about you, with all your different blogs.”

Ouch.

I mean, I am the guy who writes about an integrated life, why it’s so important, how to do it, I teach it. In everything I do, from technology consulting, to coaching to preaching, I mix in elements of all the different things I do.

Screw modern marketing. I am going to practice what I preach.

Over the next few weeks, I will be combining my blogs into one. The one will be my Quarry House Blog.  If you like what you have been getting here, please go there and start following me from there.

When you do, you will start getting a mix of everything I do. Posts will be labeled, with new headers. Not just “Poems” or “Thoughts”, but also “Life”, “Work”, “Faith” and “Art”. Just ignore the stuff you are not interested in and read the stuff you are. Or read it all. You might find they all blend together in a way you like.

It will happen slowly. I get married in just a few days and will likely disappear for a week or so. And it will take time to do the technical part of the merging. But that’s where I am heading, so if you start seeing changes, you’ll know why. Eventually, I will be closing this one down. But all the articles will go to the Quarry House Blog.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your comments and letting me know when and how I make a difference. And thank you for bearing with my changes. Like everyone, I am still learning,

Be well. Travel Wisely,

Tom

The Children are Right

dumbo

The Children are Right

The children are right.
All you have to do is shut your eyes,
and breath,
and believe,
and fly.

About this poem

Sometimes. Mostly. We make it too complicated. Whatever “it” is.

Tom

The Cost of Poor Leadership

Business Man Drawing Leadership Concept on Chalkboard

If you could do one thing, just one thing, that would improve your organization, increase sales and profitability, lower turnover and create a more engaged workforce, would you?

There is such a thing. It’s called leadership. And the studies show that more than anything we can do for our organizations, building better leaders makes a positive difference.

First, let’s look at the cost of poor leadership.

According to a major study by the Blanchard corporation, poor leadership costs companies an average of 7% of sales. What else can you do to increase your sales by 7%
Depending on the company, better leadership could reduce turnover anywhere from 9% to 32%. Consider the cost of hiring and training new employees and executive and that’s a serious drag on profits.
according to Gallop’s American Workplace report, only 30% of employees are truly engaged in their work. 50% are just going through the motions and 20% are so down on their leadership that they are a negative influence in the workplace. Gallup estimates that last 20% alone costs organizations about half a trillion dollars a year. The biggest complaint? Poor leadership.

Poor leadership has been shown by groups ranging from Gallop to Harvard Business Review to show up in a myriad of ways:

  • Staff turnover costs
  • Missed deadlines
  • Failure to meet goals
  • Poor communication
  • Reduced Morale
  • Missed opportunities
  • Decreased efficiency
  • Increased conflict

All due to the lack of one skill: Leadership.

There is a popular myth that leaders are born. And it’s true that some people just seem to have “it”, that mix of charisma and skill that makes people want to perform well for them. But it is just as true that leadership can be taught. It can be learned. Introverts and extroverts can make good leaders. Everyone can become a good leader.

Becoming a leader, or developing leaders is not a matter of just taking a class or reading a book. Each person in our organization brings different strengths and proclivities that can be developed into strong leaders, but to do it well, it takes individual coaching, the ability to work with that person, that manager, that project manager, that executive to build around their individual strengths and weaknesses to make them the best leader possible.

Teaching leadership is not the same as teaching management. Management is about skills, numbers, goals and such. Leadership builds on management, inspiring and motivating people to be their best.

Some organizations understand this. They have built in-house teams that constantly coach and build up their people’s leadership skills. Other organizations invest in hiring leadership trainer/coaches for their most promising and most important people. Either way, they grow leaders, and they reap benefits that can be measured both in terms of money, and in terms of a more inspired workplace.

Other organizations limp along with a mix of natural born leaders, and poor leaders. And these organizations? They pay the costs outlined in this article.

The cost of poor leadership is known. And so is the cost of investing in leadership development. Studies have consistently shown that investing in leadership development coaching, whether it is internal or external, pays back a return ranging from 200% to over 700%. That’s right, a return on investment. There is no long term cost to investing in leadership training/coaching. There is only payback.

Which brings me back to my original question: If you could do one thing, just one thing, that would improve your organization, increase sales and profitability, lower turnover and create a more engaged workforce, would you?

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

Business Man Drawing Leadership Concept on Chalkboard
Business Man Drawing Leadership Concept on Chalkboard

 

Six Things We Need to Succeed

Success

Every few years (in my case every 5-7 years), I stop and look at my life. I ask myself if I like myself? Do I like what I am doing? Is what I am doing a good match for what I want in my life at the time? It is a good match for my soul? Does it energize me or drain me?

Sometimes, I like the answers. Sometimes, this self-examination has led to massive changes, practically a re-invention of life. So I have a bit of first-hand experience in what it takes to recreate a life you love.

Eventually, my own experience and the experience I have had helping people who worked for me grow and change into what they wanted has led to the work I do today, helping people and organizations grow into what they want to be. It’s been a long journey of learning, and what I have learned is not what I thought when I began many years ago.

Basically, I have learned there are six things we need to re-create our lives.

First, we have to believe we can

I mean, we have to BELIEVE. Not just think maybe we can. Not just think it’s a possibility We have to believe that the change we want, the recreation we want, the life we want, no matter how big or how different than the life we have now is from the one we want – we have to believe it is possible.

We have to believe this, because re-creation, reclaiming, change takes work and it takes time. It’s not crazy hard (more on that later), but it does not just happen. It happens because we work to make it happen.

The life we have at the beginning of the process didn’t just happen. It took time. And it will take time to examine it honestly. It takes time to sort out what we really want. It takes time to see what our real roadblocks are. It takes time to recreate ourselves. Whether an individual or an organization, it will take time and discouragement will hit from time to time

If we don’t believe what we want is within our grasp, giving up becomes easy. And wewill have nay-sayers and people around you who think you are crazy.

I’ve been in the encouraging and growing of people business long enough to know that anyone can create the life they want. Anyone. IF, and only IF, they believe they can. Once we believe we can, we’re halfway there. Maybe more than half way there. But we do need a few more things to make it happen.

We need a process

Go over to the sself-helpsection of your favorite bookstore and look for books that promise to show the way to a new life. You’ll find oodles.  Take a look at your social media feeds and your email junk mail and you will find even more organizations, companies, coaches and authors that promise to change your life and make you everything you ever wanted.

It’s easy to get cynical and think they are all just charlatans. And maybe a few of them are. But honestly, you could enlist in most of them, and if you did the work, you’d likely find your way to a better life.

That’s because the steps to getting the life we want are pretty well known. Enough teachers and writers have studied success and seen that basically, we know what we have to do to get to where we want. Look closely, read the books, listen to the talks (and I have done this for decades) and you learn quickly that despite the change in names and what they call the process, most of the processes are pretty similar.

Because they work.

I have processes that I have developed through experience and education. They work. Other people have similar processes to get there. Most of them work too.

We need process. Mine. Someone else’s. It can come from a book. It can come from classes. It can come from a coach. But pick one. And once you’ve picked one, you see it through.

Without a process, we flounder. We guess. We struggle. We flit. We are easily distracted. We often don’t know where to go next. Or what to do when there is a bump in the journey. A process, if it is legit and well tested,  will help you get through all this and take you on a well-tested journey to the life we want.

We need a person.

Process is important, but we need a person involved in that process as well. This can be someone official like a life coach, or it can be another person, but you need this person for a number of reasons.

First of all, we need an encourager. Someone who will remind us that we are not crazy, not foolish, not selfish for wanting the life we want. Someone who will remind us of our virtues and good traits when we aren’t feeling it.

We need someone to call us on our self-lies, our evasions and our laziness. We need someone to prod us. We need someone to keep us on track with the process.

Most of all though, we need someone to hold us accountable.

That’s right, accountable. You see, when it is just us, we tend to let stuff go. We tend to lie to ourselves to get ourselves off the hook for not doing the work. It’s easy to get lazy. To skip steps.

But most of us, when we have someone to be accountable to, feel responsible. We stick to it. We lie to ourselves less. And having that person is a key. Very, very. very few people make major changes in their lives without someone holding their feet to the fire and encouraging them at the same time. It takes a person of character, who is willing to risk some anger and frustration in order to make us better.

Find or hire such a person, if moving to a place of true success is your goal.

We need a big dollop of self honesty

There is a reason we’ve gone so far in our lives and not gotten to where we want to. We can blame circumstances, but we all know stories of how circumstances have been overcome. We all know circumstances are a roadblock, but in time, that roadblock can be overcome, run over or an end run can get us past it.

At some point, we have to be able to look at ourselves and admit we haven’t done it. Something, or some things in ourselves is the roadblock. Generally this is due to false beliefs we have clung to, but there may be other things about ourselves that holds us back.

And until we can admit our part, we can’t move to where we want to be.

And that’s hard. We like our little (or sometimes big) delusions. They comfort us. But to move past them, we have to be honest with ourselves.

Ugh.

But so, so important.

We need to be able to change.

You laugh. You say to yourself “Silly Tom. Of course we have to change to get to something new.”

True. But a lot of times we don’t realze that sometimes that change means giving something up in our lives. Maybe that something is a false belief, long clung to. Sometimes it means a change in time for this or that or another. Sometimes it means extra work, or letting go of something or someone we value, but holds us back.

And none of those changes are easy. But the willingness to make them is often the difference between having the life we want and not having it.

This is another place where having a person involved in your process is important. They can remind us that your new life is not selfishness, is not abandonment, but instead a progress that will help you become all you can be – not just for yourself but for others.

We need Persistence

There is no miracle to changing our life or changing the trajectory of our lives or organizations. There are proven processes that get us there. And mostly, they are pretty similar to each other.

And none of them are instant.

They take time. They take consistency. And they take persistence. Over and over again I see people and companies get half way “there”, or most of the way “there”, only to abandon the process, leaving themselves right back where they started. They blame the system. They blame the process. They blame the person. But in the end, it is the lack of persistence that did them in.

Here’s what I know. Turning around a life or a company, creating the life and work and success we want generally takes a year to eighteen months of sustained work. Do the work in a regular, persistent way, and that is how long it will take. Do it in a half-hearted, start and stop way, it will take longer, but it can still happen.

But if we aren’t willing to invest that amount of time and work to it…. It won’t.

It’s that simple.

So…. You want change?  That’s it. Pick a process. Find a coach (official or otherwise). Stick with it. Be honest with yourself. Be willing to change. And it’s yours, whatever your “it” is.

I wish sometimes there was more mystery to it. I wish I could claim great secrets to a better life. But I can’t. I have a process and I am trained person. But so are others. Find these six things, and you are on your way. The life or organization you want to be is yours.

It’s that simple. And that hard.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

Magnetic compass on a world map