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Tag Archives: goal-setting

To improve your productivity, write things down!

Earlier this month, I promised that in 2020 I would specifically focus on a video series on productivity tools for leaders.  In each video blog, I plan to give you one practical and useful technique to reclaim control of your time, to improve your productivity, or to even get more done through others.  Today, I am excited to kick off this brand-new series with one specific suggestion that I hope you’ll take to heart and implement right away.  And of course, expect more productivity strategies to come in the weeks and months to follow.

Write things down!

Today’s tip: write things down.  It’s simple, but don’t let the simplicity fool you into thinking it is lightweight.  It’s not.  Writing things down is a very powerful to improve your productivity.  So get into the habit of making a to-do list.  Whenever you think about something that needs to be done, stop and make a note.  Right then, not later, because later often means never.  The benefits of writing things down to improve your productivity are many. Continue reading

Productivity tools for leaders

Brand-new video series for 2020

I’m so excited to kick-off another brand-new video series for 2020.  For the last few years, I’ve focused on a different subject each year.  Last year the topic was “How to develop and grow your people” – we did 25 videos.  And in 2018, we put out 33 specific tips on how to motivate your employees.  So this year, I’m going to focus on … drum roll please … Productivity tools for leaders.

In my leadership training and mentoring practice, a frequent refrain I hear from my clients is that they start their days with the best of intentions only to get to the end feeling like they’ve gotten nothing substantial accomplished.  So you tell me.  Have you ever felt that a full day has gone by, yet time seems to have escaped you?  Or that instead of checking things off your to-do list, it seems to be longer than it was at the beginning of the day?  If so, then I think that this year’s video series is tailor-made for you. Continue reading

A lesson from a 10-speed bicycle on how to achieve goals

I often explore what it takes to achieve goals, to get beyond the “hope” stage and actually create concrete results.  In fact, earlier this year, I blogged about the importance of a “structured” vessel when one seeks to achieve goals.  Today’s blog post explores another aspect of setting and achieving goals – this time the importance of action.

Multi-speed bikes are an asset

10-speed-bikeWhen I was a child, I rode a single speed bicycle.  It didn’t matter whether I was biking up a hill or racing down a gravel road, my bike had just one gear, and I had to adjust my effort and speed in order to compensate for the riding conditions.  As I grew older though, I realized that one could actually make the bicycle-riding experience easier and more enjoyable by getting a 3-speed, a 10-speed or even a 21-speed bike.  The greatest benefit of a multiple-speed bicycle was that I could adjust the pedaling resistance to ride more easily over a greater variety of terrains.  Brilliant!

Shortly after I got my first 10-speed bike, I quickly realized one additional and extremely vital fact – in order to switch gears, you had to be moving.  Continue reading

A liquid metaphor about achieving goals

At this time of the year, there’s a lot of thought about setting and achieving goals.  In fact, on almost exactly this date last year, I blogged about how my unexpected encounter with a sea otter got me thinking about this very subject.  Today’s musings … about drinking water.

It’s a lot easier to drink water when you have a glass

glasswater3Potable water … absolutely essential to survival, but unless it is contained – within a glass, a bowl, or even a cupped hand – almost impossible to drink.  Sure you could kneel and lap at a running stream just like other members of the animal kingdom, but it’s a lot easier if it is in a vessel of some sort.  Even animals appreciate drinking from an enclosed source such as a pond or a puddle.

At a time of the year when so many people set and achieving goals and targets for their professional and personal lives, this liquid reality offers an apt metaphor.  Think of water as representing dreams and aspirations, the goals and objectives that you hope to accomplish over the next twelve months.  Just like a liquid takes less effort to drink when it is contained within a vessel, desired targets are easier to achieve when they are surrounded by a solid structure.  So what is this vessel that lets you move goals and aspirations from mere dreams to concrete reality?  The outer form of the vessel may differ from situation to situation, but it must always be constructed of three components – it must be specific, it must be measurable, and it must have a deadline.

Here is an example

Let’s say that one of your leadership objectives Continue reading

An unexpected lesson from a sea otter

A couple of weeks ago, on my morning walk along Victoria’s Inner Harbour walkway, I was very fortunate to observe a sea otter dive down into the ocean to catch a crab and then swim up to the shore to eat it, approximately 15 feet away from where I was standing. I caught about 30 seconds of this amazing encounter on video which I’ve posted below.

This infrequent experience was exciting in itself, but what I found particularly interesting was that the sea otter took just a couple of bites of the crab, leaving the majority of the carcass behind on the rocks as he swam away. Why didn’t he finish this meal that he worked so hard to obtain? Was it because it didn’t taste very good? Or was there a more delicious morsel he spotted just on the other side of the rock? Maybe it was because he saw us watching quietly nearby. Or perhaps it was because the seagulls were already circling and he wanted to share his bounty (or couldn’t be bothered to fight them off). Continue reading

Build resiliency in your employees

As leaders we care about our employees’ intellectual capital, and even their social capital. But we don’t always concern ourselves with our employees’ psychological capital. We should. If you aren’t sure what these three phrases mean, an easy way to understand it is to think of intellectual capital as what people know, and social capital as who they know. Psychological capital, on the other hand, is who they are, or who they are becoming. And there is a growing amount of research that shows that employees with high psychological capital are more productive and perform better in the workplace. The crux of psychological capital is resiliency, the ability to overcome challenges (both routine and traumatic) and bounce back stronger, wiser and more personally powerful.

eggRubberBallA powerful visual to demonstrate resiliency is to compare a raw egg to a rubber ball. When you drop a raw egg, it breaks, scattering yolk and albumen everywhere, creating an unpleasant mess that someone will have to clean up. Conversely, when you drop a rubber ball, it bounces back up within seconds, with no harm done, either to itself or those around it. As a leader, your role is to help your employees shift from being raw eggs and grow and develop into rubber balls.   Continue reading

A freezing icy lesson on achieving goals

Late last month, while I was at a client event in Edmonton AB, winter arrived in all its fury! Now I shouldn’t be surprised, I do live in Canada after all 🙂 . But an unexpected snowy mishap gave me a chilly lesson in achieving goals – a freezing reminder of why it’s important to be pointed in the right direction if you want to get to your intended destination! Let me explain.

SnowyParkingOvernight, in a matter of less than twelve hours, over a foot of snow had fallen in the city. In the morning, I drove from my hotel to the event location and pulled into the parking lot … which was covered in deep and heavy snow. As I pulled into a spot, my car got stuck. I tried in vain to alternately go both backward and forward, but the wheels spun uselessly and I could not get out. After about 10 minutes of trying all the driving “tricks” most Canadians are familiar with, I finally braved the sub-zero temperature to get out of my car and take a closer look at the problem. Continue reading

Want to achieve your goals? The answer lies in performance measurement

There’s an old leadership adage – what gets measured gets done; in fact, I have long advocated an extended version – what gets measured and publicized gets acted on – which I blogged about back in November 2010.  Recently, I, at a personal level, became a living breathing example of this leadership principle of performance measurement in action.

Merge_June2_2013This is what I posted to my friends and family on my personal Facebook page on June 2 earlier this month:

Exactly one year ago today, June 2 2013, I weighed 33 lbs more than I do today!  Many of you have asked me HOW I achieved this. Just plain ol’ simple math. Output greater than input every single day, that’s it! Plus tracking help from my Fitbit and the associated app.

Those of you who have ever tried to lose weight know that it can be a very challenging effort.  In fact, I found this goal to be FAR FAR harder than any business goal I’ve ever tried to achieve.  But it was because I measured – steps walked every day, flights of stairs climbed, calories burned, calories eaten, weekly weight checks – that I was motivated to keep going.  Now granted, technology makes it a lot easier to keep track (that little Fitbit and its associated app are awesome!), but it was because I measured and publicized (within my Fitbit circle of friends) that I achieved this major milestone.

So what’s the message here for leaders?  Continue reading

Setting goals? To build confidence, go smaller and sooner

GoalsSetting goals is an important first-step towards achieving objectives and when done appropriately and regularly, it can be a source of great motivation for teams and individuals.  I often hear leaders refer to “stretch targets” – goals that require and effort or “stretch” to realize.  But the key to goal-setting that results in success really lies in attaining a balance – a balance between “too much” and “not enough”.  If the goals are too big or too distant or not reflective of the business reality, they will actually undermine confidence and eventually become de-motivators.  On the other hand, if the goals are too easy, or simply the status quo, they will not serve to encourage higher performance or productivity.

So what’s the solution?  Continue reading