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Don’t just work hard. Do the hard work.

work

Working hard is not the key to success; it’s merely the price of admission. 

Hard work alone isn’t enough to bring you everything you want. 

Because if you’re working hard at the wrong things then they won’t take you to where you want to go. 

You have to work hard at the right things if you want to achieve your desired destination. 

Which introduces a second element to the equation. 

Because not only do you have to work hard, you also have to work hard at the right things. 

So what are the right things?

 Actually it’s usually pretty simple to identify them. 

Typically the right things, the best things, the most significant things you can do to achieve your goal are often the things you know need to be done but you most don’t want to do. 

They are the things that nobody likes to do. 

If you’re trying to build muscle, it means doing pull ups or leg day. 

If you’re trying to lose weight, it means cutting your alcohol, carbs, or sugar intake. 

If you’re in sales, it is prospecting. 

If you’re trying to get out of debt, it’s making and following a budget.  

In other words, it’s not enough to just work hard.  

You have to do the hard work. 

You have to do the things you don’t want to do. 

You have to do the things that other people aren’t willing to do. 

You have to do the things that you know are good for you, but they are hard. 

You don’t do them because the goal is to make life as hard as possible. 

Quite the contrary, you do them because they ultimately make life easier.

But that path is predicated on the unpopular truth that the shortest most guaranteed path to a more productive life is to do the hardest parts of things as soon as possible!

You don’t just work hard. You do the hard work. 

And if you that… 

If you work hard…

And you also do the hard work…

Then you will start to find that eventually things get easier and easier. 

The Essence of a Leader

leader

Everyone wants to be a leader…until that moment where they have to truly step up and lead. 

Because we often associate leadership with impressive titles, more pay, and additional job perks. 

Yet leadership isn’t made in corner offices or fancy boardrooms. Real leadership happens on the front lines. 

And what most leaders don’t understand about leading is that it isn’t telling people what to do; it’s showing them what to do. 

Which means that essentially a big part of leadership is simply this: “I’ll go first.”

Whatever I’m asking you to do I will do. 

Whatever needs to be done won’t be done by you; it will be done by us. 

And whatever sacrifices need to be made will be made by me first. 

I’ll be the first to risk. 

I’ll be the first to invest. 

I’ll be the first to do the work. 

I’ll be the first to create the model. 

I’ll be the first to invent the path where there is none. 

I’ll be the first to take the heat. 

I’ll be the first to make the difficult decisions. 

I’ll be the first to take the blame. 

I’ll be the first to learn. 

I’ll be the first to change. 

I’ll be the first to cut. 

I’ll be the first to meet that standard. 

I’ll be the first to break that belief barrier. 

“I’ll go first.”

That kind of leadership isn’t assigned; it’s assumed. 

That kind of leadership isn’t demanding; it’s inspiring. 

That kind of leadership isn’t bestowed; it’s activated. 

That is the part of leadership that can’t be taught in classrooms; it can only be revealed in battle. 

But if you’re willing to be that kind of person…

If you’re willing to step up…

If you’re willing to go where no one has gone before…

Then you don’t need a title. 

You don’t need an office. 

And you don’t need perks. 

You are already on your way to developing the essence of a great leader. 

5 Steps to Create Transformational Team Unity

Unity

A team is a group of people held together by a unifying set of beliefs.  

But what those beliefs are, unfortunately all too often are unspoken.

Typically, people gather with people who they are like or who believe what they believe.

Yet there is some nearly mystical power that comes about as the inspiring byproduct of when a team takes the time the codify their beliefs.

At Southwestern Consulting, we’ve walked many of our clients through this and we call this “The Creed Conversation”.

We first discovered the power of this activity by realizing the need to apply an age-old part of Southwestern’s culture around positive self-talk to our Southwestern Consulting team as a whole. We realized we had not yet taken the time to write out our shared philosophies at Southwestern Consulting. It ended up being one of the most transformational pivot points in the history of our own company.

It’s so simple to do, that virtually any team at anytime can have a “Creed Conversation.” Many companies have a formal “mission statement” or “values” but this process takes it a step further by empowering collaboration and most importantly assimilating it into the regular course of our workflow.

All you need is an audio recorder, someone who can type, a group of some of your key leaders and a facilitator. Then follow a few steps:

1.Set the Stage – Explain to everyone that despite being a team for x amount of time, it dawned on you that you have never created, as a team, a list of the principles that you all believe in. While you may have a company mission statement or something, it’s not nearly as powerful as something created by the team of people who do the work every day. Tell them the goal is simply to document a list of shared philosophies of the team. It can also be a good idea to play for the Simon Sinek’s famous Ted talk “Start With Why.” 

2.Ask the Questions – Start the audio recording (so you have it for future reference) and then simply ask the group (best if done in person with less than 20 people) a series of open-ended questions just to get them thinking in the right direction. Write down EVERYthing everyone says in the random order that it comes out. If possible it’s best to do it on a word document on an overhead projector so everyone can see it start to take shape and come alive. Here’s some sample questions you can ask: 

  • What do we know to be true about the way we do business?
  • Why do we work so hard at this business?
  • What philosophies do we have that are un-compromisable?
  • How do we want to treat our clients and each other?
  • How do we want to be remembered as a team?
  • What do we want to be known for?
  • What do we want people to think when they think of us?
  • What are we most proud of in the way we do business?

You can ask any question in this vein and you can’t really go wrong. The only way you can mess this up is by taking too much control of the conversation and providing all the answers yourself. This is for the team to come up with, and you are a team member so you can contribute, but let them speak and create it.

3.Organize and Edit – Once all has been captured now it’s time to assimilate and edit. It helps to have someone with some decent writing skills here to guide this step. What the writer will want to do is first copy and paste similar statements or philosophies together into paragraphs without altering any of the statements as they were initially said. You’ll notice that many themes probably kept getting repeated during the exercise and that’s a good thing but here’s where we’re going to manage that.

After that, the writer is going to have the challenging role of reducing many of the paragraphs down to one sentence each based on the recurring themes so there is 1 sentence per theme. The key here though is to try and preserve the actual semantics used by the people in the group as much as possible. Try to grab key phrases, repeatable mantras, or colorful language from the group but without being too repetitious.

 Then the last and hardest part will be to edit and massage all of these ideas into simple, concise, powerful, active sentences. Don’t say “we strive to do the best we can for our customers whenever possible.” Instead say, “we always do the right thing.”

Once you have all of the statements complete, next you will want to write an opening paragraph that pulls in some of the corporate vision, values, and mission statement. And then write a short closing paragraph that is a unifying and rallying call to action to live out and execute all of the philosophies that were just listed. Oh…and all of this at most has to fit onto one page.

4.Represent for Approval – Now that it’s all been synthesized by the writer/editor, the next step is to send it back out to the team for final suggestions and feedback. At this stage it’s a good idea to even send it out to the team at large (who wasn’t included in the initial meeting).

Invite the team to discuss this in their smaller teams and within their departments to get reactions from people all throughout the organization. Give everyone an opportunity to suggest additions or changes.

It’s a chance to get everyone’s feedback and input. Work on the edits until everyone agrees and you can formally vote on it and ratify it as a part of your continuing corporate culture. (It should be a living document that can be edited later as necessary with unanimous vote.)

5. Put it in Use – The key to making a creed work is making sure it doesn’t just end up in a drawer somewhere with other corporate jargon that never gets looked at. It needs to come alive and be referred to early and often. Here are some of the best ways to get it in use:

  • Read it out loud at the start of every meeting (there are many fun ways you can vary this up.)
  • Refer to it whenever you have a difficult decision to make.
  • Make it be the first thing you show to recruits and new hires and explain that it is the predominant criteria for being hired or getting promoted.
  • Cite elements of it whenever you roll out a new change for the company.
  • Ask people to cite it whenever they see something that is a real-life illustration of a principle that is documented in the creed.
  • Ask people to cite it whenever they see something in the company that needs to be improved or challenged.
  • Include elements of the Creed on walls, trophies, certificates, and anywhere else it makes sense.
  • Consider creating awards in your company for people who exemplify specific lines of the Creed.i)“Initiate” new people by inviting them to read it out loud (or part of it) their first day on the job.
  • Make it a part of your personal affirmations that you read every morning.

A Creed can be a synthesizing and rallying time for your entire team.

There is something tremendously powerful about having a documented, agreed upon, and declared set of values that govern the behaviors of members.

It can turn losers into winners.

It can turn doubters into believers.

It can turn pacifists into activists

If you create a Creed, you will create a culture. 

Selling Through the Written Word with Ray Edwards – Episode 183 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

written word

Ray Edwards is a Communications Strategist, Copywriter, Author, Speaker, and host of one the top iTunes Business Podcasts. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies, and with some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business. His clients include New York Times best-selling authors Michael Hyatt (author of Platform and co-author of Living Forward), Tony Robbins (author of Unleash the Giant Within and Money: Master the Game), Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (co-authors of Chicken Soup For the Soul), Jeff Walker (author of Launch), and many more.

Show Highlights:

  • Copywriting is salesmanship in print. @RayEdwards
  • We communicate in a way that is either credible or puts people off. @RayEdwards
  • The keys to writing in a way to that is influential without being manipulative is to be: relevant, enthusiastic, aspirational, congruent and helpful. @RayEdwards
  • “Salesmanship is the transfer of enthusiasm” – @TheZigZiglar
  • Make sure you are truly enthusiastic about what you’re doing and in an unbridled way. @RayEdwards
  • If you persuade me to do something, that is a decision I will later celebrate. @RayEdwards
  • If you manipulate me into doing something, that is a decision I will later regret. @RayEdwards
  • We should be helping people to develop internal pressure for their reasons, in their best interest and leave the decision to them. @RayEdwards
  • Marketing should be something you do for people, not something you do to them. @RayEdwards
  • Your email should be positivity anticipated, relevant and personalized. @RayEdwards
  • No such thing as copy that is too long, only copy that is too boring. @Randy_Gage
  • Stories are the most powerful form of persuasion. @RayEdwards
  • Marketing should be a sample of what they are going to get. @rory_vaden
  • It’s not about the pain, it’s about the promise. @rory_vaden

Get more information about selling through the written would by visiting: rayedwards.com/vaden

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

Transformational Selling

Transformational

Find the need.

Uncover the pain.

Discover their problem.

Those are classic principles and practices of professional marketing salesmanship.

And they are powerful because not only do they work, but they also do provide a great service in that they get people emotional enough to catalyze them moving past procrastination and into taking the action they need to improve their situation.

There’s nothing wrong with that (as long as it’s not manipulative and as long as your solution actually works) and so you can keep doing that. But that’s not the only way to sell.

Servant Selling is also about creating a vision for what’s possible.

Servant Selling is also about inventing a more positive future outcome.

In other words, Servant Selling isn’t just about focusing on the pain; it’s about also focusing on the promise.

It’s teaming up with your prospect together to design a new richer future for them.

It’s understanding what their ideal situation would really look like and then collaborating with them to craft a plan for how to make that become real.

That kind of Selling is transformational.

That kind of Selling is supportive.

That kind of Selling moves you from persuasion to partnership.

It moves you from being a presenter to being a visionary.

It moves you from being an order taker to being an artist.

And it moves you from being a solicitor to being a servant.

Plus, talking about the promise – and not just the pain – keeps you focused on producing a desirable result for your prospects and your customers.

It focuses you on providing real value and delivering actual results.

That’s what people want: results.

They want a new and improved situation.

They want something that actually works and that actually delivers.

What they don’t want is to be sold something just because they had a need.

They want the problem actually solved and the potential actually realized.

So remember selling isn’t only about solving problems; it’s also about inventing possibilities.

The Answers Behind the Next Door

door

“The answer to every single problem you ever have is behind the next door.”

That was one of the first principles I was taught as a 19 year old college student working to pay my way through school over the next 5 summers selling educational children’s reference materials door to door in The Southwestern Advantage Program.

They would tell me…

When you’re tired…knock on another door.

When it’s raining…knock on another door.

When you haven’t made a sale in 3 days…knock on another door.

When you have a flat tire…knock on another door.

The answer to every single problem is behind the next door.

Today I don’t literally knock on doors anymore, and maybe you don’t either.

But my guess is the principle still holds true no matter what you’re doing.

It’s the principle of persistence.

It’s the principle of resilience.

It’s the principle of grit.

The ability to continue on in the face of rejection.

The ability to keep going when most people would quit.

It’s the power to know that you will not be stopped.

Nothing will hold you back.

Because you’ve already decided that no challenge, no setback, and no naysayer is going to keep you down.

You’ve already decided that even when you get beat up, you’re going to be the kind of person who gets up and makes another attempt.

You’ve already decided that your dream matters too much to be squelched by the temptation of quitting.

You’re going to be the kind of person who takes another shot.

You’re going to be the kind of person who fights another round.

You’re going to be the kind of person who knocks on another “door.”

The answer to every problem you have is behind the next door.

So don’t stop.

And if you can, don’t even slow down.

Decide right now that you’re going to solve every problem by making another phone call, taking another at bat, going another round and doing what most people never will…

Keep going no matter what.

The Answers Behind The Next Door.