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7 Critical Components of a Powerful Morning Routine 

morning

One of the most important habits of developing consistent high performance in your life is to put your self-esteem into your work habits rather than your production.

The reason is because we want our confidence tied to things that we can control rather than things we can’t.

Production often fluctuates up and down but our effort, work ethic, and intensity needs to always be consistent.

The decision to embrace this philosophy can be something that you demonstrate in the first few moments of every day.

I first learned the power of a morning routine from my time in college working in The Southwestern Advantage summer program.

They taught us to have and focus on a “mini-victories list” every single morning.

To this day, I follow a regimented routine every single morning that includes many of those original habits I developed selling door to door in the summer:

 

Gratitude – The very first thing I do when the alarm goes off is immediately start saying “thank you”. I thank God for as many specific blessings as I can possibly come up with in those first few moments. In addition to being a powerful way to start the day, it also keeps my mind from being occupied with negative thoughts about how tired I might be or what I have to do that day.

 

Scripture – For me it is a very intentional choice that the first input into my brain each day be scripture. Not email. Not Twitter. Not news. Scripture. Not only does it help charge my soul for the day, it is also an external representation of an internal decision to prioritize my spiritual walk and relationship with God above all else. After reading scripture I pray. It’s an important discipline. (Tip: Timothy Keller’s book Prayer taught me to focus on reading each individual word slowly and one at a time instead of speeding through sentences.)

 

Affirmations – Over the years I have amassed several lists of different affirmations. Some speak to the person I want to be, some speak to the company we want Southwestern Consulting to be, and some are very specific to reprogramming my brain about certain fears, current limiting beliefs that I have or new habits I’m focused on developing. I read those next.

Goals – I’ve always then spent a few minutes reviewing my short and long term goals. What has been very powerful for me in the last couple years is that I read my wife’s goals first. And when I know of them, I read specific goals of my business partners as well before I read mine. This is another discipline that I practice to try and cultivate more selflessness in my life. It’s important because I’m embarrassed and ashamed to admit that absent an intentional decision to think about other people, I unfortunately naturally default to thinking mostly of just myself.

Schedule – I spend a few moments reviewing my schedule and making sure I’m consciously aware of everything that is supposed to happen that day. A great piece of advice that I’ve been trying to practice that I learned from profiling a Multiplier for the Procrastinate on Purpose book is to “throw everything off my calendar and make it fight to earn its way back on.”

Exercise – This is another habit I learned directly from Southwestern, which is to do something physical first thing in the morning every single day! Even if it’s only a few push-ups, sit-ups, or weightless squats, it’s a major victory to do even some small physical activity. And you should never underestimate the power of consistency in your life; literally a few minutes of exercise every day does wonders for helping you maintain your physical state.

Vitamins – Taking vitamins and veggies is not something I particularly enjoy; but I do it every single day. Because staying healthy requires discipline and it’s a choice I want to consistently make first thing in the morning. My body is something I choose to protect and preserve and supplements are an important part of the routine. As mama always said “enjoying it isn’t a requirement of doing it.”

Making it through this entire list (including a 20 min workout routine) takes me about 45 minutes.

(In full disclosure, there is one other step to this routine that I’ve been doing the last couple years that I left out since it’s not ubiquitous to everyone: I also write 1 little inspirational social media post each day on Instagram that I also share to Facebook and Twitter. It takes about 7 minutes a day but I find that writing a little each day adds up tremendously over time. Those little thoughts often later get expanded into blog posts, which then many blog posts get put together to become a book, which is then made into keynotes, virtual trainings , and coaching modules.

Part of the power of this routine is programming your brain for success each day.

Another part of the power of this routine is preparing yourself to have a positive attitude each day.

But perhaps the most powerful part of this routine is that it helps you start “winning” right away.

Because all of these things are things that you can control.

And all of these things are mini-victories.

They are demonstrations of discipline that happen every morning.

They are resolutions that I will not let my life happen by accident but by design.

I will not be confused about where I’m going; I will be clear.

And I will not lose to the natural voices of fatigue, negativity, and distraction in my head; I will silence them.

This process helps remind me of how much I’ve been given, why my life counts, and who I am focused on serving.

You don’t have to follow this exact process, but I would highly recommend that you and your coach create some process – and that you follow it relentlessly.

Because success is never owned; it’s only rented – and the rent is due every day.

One Way to Not Lose Friends – But Why We Often Do

friends

Its unfortunate that we often judge other people by their actions but judge ourselves by our intentions.

When other people mess up it’s easy and natural for us to point out their mistakes, highlight them, and use them as evidence for why they aren’t capable or worthy of our praise.

Yet when we mess up, it’s easy and natural for us to defend ourselves by trying to explain and articulate to other people what we really meant to say or what we were really trying to do.

The reason we do that is not because we’re bad people. We do it because we simply have access to the information of knowing what our intentions are and we often don’t know the explicit intentions of others.

We know that the way it came out was not what we really meant to say and that it sounded much worse than we actually think or feel.

We know  that the way other people interpreted our behavior isn’t an accurate reflection of what we were really trying to do.

We  know that because it is us.

But a lot of times we don’t know what another person’s intentions were.

And so all we have to go on is our immediate interpretation of their actions.

Many times though, that is a shame. Because it causes us to assume the worst about people when there is perhaps another viable and reasonable explanation.

It’s a shame when we allow ourselves to get angry at others, misinterpret others, or distrust others without exploring what was really going on.

Too often it causes us to lose friends that we never should’ve lost.

Perhaps that is why there is so much wisdom to the phase, “’tis better to seek to understand than to be understood.”

Seek to understand..

It gives us a chance for reasonable explanation.

It gives us a chance for clear representation.

It gives us a chance for possible reconciliation.

Because we spend time exploring what someone’s actual intentions were.

The valuable technique here is to learn to generously give people “the benefit of the doubt.”

To assume the best in people and not the worst.

To believe there is some explanation and not an intention to do evil.

Especially with the vast majority of the people we know and are around every day, they generally have good intentions.

There are relatively few people who are ruthlessly evil, completely self-serving or deliberately sabotaging.

But there is a lot of room for misinterpretation and miscommunication.

That is just because there are so many unique ways to look at a topic, event, or idea from a different point of view.

But just because someone has a different point of view doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give them the benefit of the doubt.

If anything, it’s cause to embrace and explore what their view point is so that we can learn from it.

With ourselves though, we can be more strict and demanding. We can push ourselves to be more considerate of how other people might interpret what we do or say.

We can look beyond just our intentions and challenge ourselves to make sure that there is less room for misinterpretation of our actions.

We already know that we have the best of intentions and so we can strive to make sure that we take action in a way that it is most likely to be viewed as positive.

We can help try to save people from having to question our intentions.

So, if anything, perhaps we should flip things around from the natural way we sometimes live.

Instead of judging others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions…

Maybe we should generally give other people the benefit of the doubt by assuming they have good intentions, yet push ourselves to deliberately consider how we will affect others through our actions.

7 Steps to Recruit Amazing New Team Members with Lightning Speed

recruit-amazing-team

“What’s the fastest, cheapest way to recruit amazing people?”

That question was recently posed to me verbatim by one of our clients.

Before I share with you the answer, think first about this question:

“What’s the fastest, cheapest way to sell new clients?”

Because the answer is the same for both questions:

Referrals from your current customers!

And when it comes to recruiting, who are your “current customers?”

Obviously it’s your current team members!

So that is the answer to the question.

The fastest, cheapest way to recruit amazing people is to get referrals from your existing team members.

This is something that Southwestern refers to as “The Team Member Approach”.

And it’s super simple…

1. Schedule a Meeting – 1 on 1 with each of your current team members.

2. Access their “Rolodex” – There are a variety of ways to view a list of who your team member knows (cell phone contacts, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn are some of the best). More training on exactly how to do this is available here or here.

3. Explain your situation – Share with them that you are looking to expand the team and that you prefer to bring on people who you already know, like, and trust. And explain that your goal is to build a team of people who are “cool” and who like them, are fun to be around.

4. Offer the Incentives – Tell your team members that one of the best ways to ensure they do well in the business is to do the business with their friends. Because it creates more buy-in for everyone and gives you powerful built in accountability [true story]. And if you do offer some financial incentive for hiring referrals remind them of that here. You can even start off the meeting with this information if your company does have a plan in place. Say for example you offer a $500 referral for a team member that gets hired, say something like: “Mike today I’m going to show you how to make an extra $5000! How’s that sound?!” (Proceed to ask him for enough referrals to help you hire 10 people)

5. Gather Contact Info – Simply go through the list of their (modern day) “Rolodex” and ask them to tell you about each person. Use the questions: “Do you think this person would be fun to work with? Could you see them enjoying this job?”

6. Call the Referrals- Get on the phone and call the referrals! Introduce yourself. Explain the shared connection. Tell them “Mike had the nicest things to say about you and thought it’d be worth me reaching out to you about this. You may like it and you may not, and either way is fine in fact I’m not even sure if you qualify but would you be open minded to hearing about it for 30 minutes?”

7. Follow the Process – After that just stick with your normal recruiting process. The only difference is that you can involve your referring team member in some of the interviews and selection. Which is a two-fer because not only are you getting a new potential team member, you’re training your current team member how to recruit! Fabulous!

Remember a great leader is a great recruiter and recruiting is a sales job.

What gathering referrals from clients is to salespeople, is exactly the same as what gathering referrals from team members is to leaders.

So learn to live, love, and become a master at recruiting!

Using Visualizations to Propel Achievement

Visualizations

The amount of our endurance is directly proportionate to the clarity of our vision. 

When we have a crystal clear picture of what we want in life, and we spend a lot of time thinking about it, then there is naturally a strong connection to how doing the short term sacrifices we’re asking ourselves to make today forward us toward that future. 

It thereby creates a context for action to take place and our discipline engages almost automatically. That then inspires and empowers us to do the hard work necessary that it will take to achieve that vision. It gives us a “reason” to set specific targets and goals, layout a plan, and then execute the actions that will make the vision a reality.

However, if we have a cloudy picture of what we want for our life or future, then there is at best a convoluted connection to how the sacrifices we’re asking ourselves (or others) to make forwards us towards that future.

There is no context for action and so it becomes almost impossible to “motivate” ourselves. In that scenario we don’t have sight of the long term payoff and so we typically procrastinate or get distracted from doing the hard work it takes to be successful. When we don’t do the necessary work, then we ultimately don’t achieve our long term goals.
On the surface we might then think that the reason we didn’t hit our targets was because we didn’t take the right actions – which would be true. But a part of the underlying reason why is because we never had the compelling vision to inspire us to take the necessary actions.

What we have learned at Southwestern is that most people then struggle not just from a lack of discipline; but also a lack of vision. 

We either don’t have a clear enough picture of what we want in our life or we don’t spend enough time thinking about it. 

If you can see the vision, then you have a reason to do the work to earn it.  

If you can craft the vision, then you’ll develop the confidence to work a plan that makes it come true. 

If you can clarify the vision, then you will catalyze your own action. Which is why one of the first orders of business when we coach a client is that we take them through a series of different questions and exercises to clarify their life vision. 

And when we talk about vision, one element of a great life vision is being able to see actual pictures of what you want your future to look like. It’s a “visualization” if you will. We often encourage our clients to put together vision boards. 

Another simple but powerful exercise you can do is to add a visualization or two to your overall life vision by writing out a future scene of exactly what you want to accomplish in your life. 

The more clearly you can see it, the more likely it is to come true. And if it’s ever going to become true in real life, you first need to be able to see it in your mind. 

One technique to help you create stronger visualizations is to write in a way that is V.A.S.T.  

That is that when you write out a visualization, you write a future picture or scene you want to live into that describes the following elements:

V. Visual – Something that you can see. What is around you? What does it look like? Describe the setting. Describe the colors. Who is there with you? What can you see?

A. Audio – What can you hear? What sounds are happening around you? Is there a noise in the background? Is there music playing? Is there a specific set of words you will be hearing from a specific person in your life?

S. Smell – What can you smell? Are you outdoors or indoors? Is there food? Is it a certain season of the year? Smell is one of the most powerful triggers we have so if you can associate a specific scent with achieving your goals then it will have a very visceral effect on you. 

T. Touch – What can you touch? What are you physically feeling with your hands? Most importantly is how are you feeling inside? What emotions are you experiencing? 
The VAST technique is a modified version of something I learned from one of my speaking coaches, Craig Valentine the 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking about how to improve your storytelling. 

It serves not only as a good strategy for telling stories though; but also for creating them. 

Your vision is the purpose of your life.
Your visualizations are part of the future story of your life. 

Your ability to write that story often precedes your ability to live it. 

The more clearly you can see it in your head; the more likely it will come true in your life because the more willing you are to do the work it will take to get there. 

In that way, our endurance is directly proportionate to the clarity of our vision.

 

How to Recruit Top Talent for Your Team

Recruit

How do you recruit good people?

It’s one of the biggest challenges that our clients struggle with and why they come to us at Southwestern Consulting.

Recruiting is an important topic and it’s one of my favorite.

My start at Southwestern in college was catapulted because I loved and figured out recruiting early on and happen to break a 150-year-old record in recruiting.

Today, we see lots of different companies and industries that struggle to find top talent and team members.

So, how do you recruit good people? Essentially there are 2 key parts to recruiting that you have to do.

  1. Build the Magnet – This is that you have to do the work of creating an amazing opportunity for people. This involves strategic work with how the company is set up. And also involves the heavy lifting about how you present and position your opportunity.
  1. Build the Fishing Boat – This is that you have to do the work of creating a number of amazing systems and methods (ie. Poles in the water) for actually finding good people and then going after them to get them on board.

They both take a tremendous amount of skill, knowledge, discipline and work.

Typically, we spend most of our time training people and organizations how to build the Fishing Boat. In other words, we teach them about all of the different sources of where to find good people and then also the skills of actually how to recruit them.

How you recruit someone is about exactly what to say, what the process looks like, and what behaviors you need to take to convince someone to join your team.

[BTW bringing people to your company who currently don’t have jobs is hiring; that is not recruiting. Recruiting typically means you are recruiting someone away from some other opportunity that they are already (typically successful) in over to join your better opportunity.]

The “Building the Magnet” part is also critical though. This is doing the heavy strategic work of creating an attractive place to work. It really helps when you are out “fishing” for good people to have a highly compelling and appealing opportunity to be recruiting them for!

Here are 5 of the most important parts of “Building the Magnet” and making your opportunity a compelling and attractive one for people to join:

  1. MISSION – Your organization needs to have a crystal clear (less than 1 sentence), inspiring, statement about serving a human purpose that is higher than profit. And it needs to be repeated so often that everyone in the organization needs to be able to recite exactly what it is. Today people don’t just want to work somewhere to earn pay; they want to work somewhere to do good in the world. If you want to attract great people, you need to have a great why.
  2. CULTURE – Your organization needs to be a fun and enjoyable place to work. People have to look forward to coming there! That means you want a place that is positive, vibrant, innovative, inviting, and energetic. It also means you want a place where people feel recognized, valued, and important. Also, it helps to have a brand that is “cool” and fresh that people want to be a part of. Remember, part of people’s personal reputation and perception in the world is who they work for, so create something they are proud to be associated with and they will flock to you.
  3. LIFESTYLE – You want to spend a lot of time planning, strategizing, and being intentional about crafting what “a normal day in the life” looks like for one of your team members. You can’t just provide people a job anymore; you have to provide them a meaningful and uplifting way to use their life. Remember, people typically spend about ½ of their waking hours at work! Lifestyle is typically composed of: hours, pay, location, work environment, stress level, type of work, and of course the culture which is made up of the other people they work with.
  4. RECRUITING PAY – One of the simplest reasons why organizations don’t grow and recruit is because there isn’t any financial incentive to do it! Most people are simple creatures, we do what we’re incentivized to do. So if you’re not seeing the recruiting numbers you want, you might need to look at the incentives that are in place to do so. Also, recruiting (like selling and service) shouldn’t just be a department; it’s something everyone has to do!
  5. LONG TERM VISION – People want to work for a place that is inspiring and part of what inspires people is working towards a bright future. Your organization needs to talk a lot about what the future of the business is going to look like. What are the pursuits your team is looking to accomplish? What are your goals for who you’re going to help? What career paths are available to your team members? And what does their long term pay plan look like? What is the future of your company literally going to look like?

These are just a few of the elements that help you “Build the Magnet” and make your organization attractive. It’s only part of the battle because even if you have a great magnet, you still have to do the hard work of going out to “fish.” But those skills are longer than this post allows for.

If at any point, you would like to talk to us more about how we can help you with recruiting just reach out to me.

Here’s what is great about recruiting though…

You can recruit your way into a great organization!

If you’re just starting out, you can (quickly) build something great by recruiting great people.

If you’re an experienced but stagnant company, you can grow (dramatically) by simply starting to focus more on recruiting.

And if you’re in any kind of struggling business, organization, or enterprise you can recruit your way out of it! Recruit, recruit, recruit and it will help you turn around!

Good people changes everything.

Which is why a great leader is always a great recruiter.

How to Immediately Get More Productivity Out of Your Team

Productivity

What if you could afford to walk around passing out $100 bills all day to your team?

Do you think that would help motivate them?

Do you think that could be effective in getting them to take action?

I think most of us would agree that it would be pretty powerful if when we asked someone to do something, we could just hand them over a Benjamin when it was all done.

Well that is how it is when you give out verbal praise to your team members.

Verbal appreciation is a form of currency.

And the payoff of praise can be huge.

Employee surveys regularly cite “feeling valued” “feeling important” and “feeling appreciated” as one of the highest determining factors of job satisfaction and job retention…even more so than money.

So when someone does something wonderful and you praise them, that is like the equivalent of handing them a $100 bill.

What’s so powerful about that of course is that verbal appreciation is an unlimited resource!

But there is no one reminding you that when you dish out genuine praise, it’s as if you’re handing out $100 bills. So as a leader you have to be the one reminding yourself that’s how it is.

There is no reason we shouldn’t be abundantly and regularly recognizing people for their efforts.

There is no cost to it- other than our own discipline to be considerate and intentional about recognizing the contributions people are making.

And that which is recognized is repeated.

When you appreciate people and notice the solid effort they put in, the more they are likely to stay loyal and bought in.

Verbal appreciation is a form of currency. Recognizing people is a part of their compensation package.

But when we don’t recognize our team members they will eventually feel under appreciated, then that will escalate to feeling taken for granted,  and eventually over time they can even feel taken advantage of.

And that is when they leave.

Or worse, that is when they stay and start to complain and pollute the culture.

At minimum though you can guarantee they won’t be doing their best work.

So remember verbal appreciation is a form of currency. And giving it out is a small price to pay for loyalty, retention and engagement.

In fact, it’s no price at all.