How to Take Action When You’re Afraid Or Confused

It’s tough to move forward when you’re confused or immobilized by fear.  The natural tendency is to lay low and do nothing, but that just keeps you stuck.  When you confront a big hairy goal, the secret is to move forward even if you’re not sure how you’re going to get there.

I experienced something yesterday that illustrated this point.  I wasn’t confronted by a BHG nor immobilized by fear but was mildly confused about a relatively mundane process.

I was heading to the Arizona State Fair (check out my Facebook album) on a route I’d never taken before.  I wasn’t sure what the most direct path would be but decided to get on the nearest highway and figure it out from there. (It would have been

Well, sure enough after driving just a mile or two, I realized exactly how to reach my destination.  Here’s the lesson, if I had sat in the parking lot or even consulted my GPS, I would have wasted a few moments (or perhaps a lifetime).

Here’s what to do instead.

1. Know your destination
Be crystal clear about the end result you’re aiming for. If you don’t know where you’re going, it will be a fluke if you get there.

2. Take one step in what you think is the right direction
Any step is better than no step at all.  Just as my path unfolded as I drove, your path will become illuminated as you move toward your goal. It won’t if you stay.

3. Course correct along the way
Once you start moving toward your goal, you’ll get feedback that will tell you what to do next.

Pay attention, trust your gut and go with the flow.

The secret is to stay in action.  Move toward your goal.  Don’t let your fear or confusion immobilize you.  Identify one tiny step you CAN make, then make it. Repeat.

7 Keys to Being a Brilliant Leader

Many people think that leaders are born, not made and that if they aren’t officially a Manager, Director, Executive Directory, Vice President, President or CEO, that they are really a leader.

I beg to differ.  Leadership is a set of specific behaviors that can be learned.

Here are seven keys I believe are critical to transforming ordinary people into extraordinary leaders.

1. Evoke the emotions of others
True leaders inspire people.  They touch their hearts on issues that are important to them.  They raise hope while acknowledging and accepting the human frailties we all possess.  Leaders make people connect the change they are striving to cause to their own needs and desires.

2. Believe in people
It’s hard for us to see skeptics or critical, negative people as leaders because they don’t do anything proactive to make us feel good about ourselves.  On the other hand, leaders see the rough diamonds buried in our hearts and bring them to light so that WE can see them too.

3. Have a compelling vision and be passionate in expressing it
Great leaders see a future that is dramatically different than the present we live in and they don’t keep it a secret.  They articulate that future and tell us WHY it’s important that we move toward it. They know they are on the right track even when the rest of the world is still asleep to or in denial about the problem.

4. Never give up but stay flexible
Leaders with big visions are often seen as crack pots or zealots before the masses catch on to the imoportance of their platform.  Expect to encounter some resistance at the beginning, but don’t give up on what you believe in.  Do however, stay present to new developments and trends and what’s on the minds of the people in your burgeoning ‘tribe’.  Find common ground with them an incorporate what you can into your vision, but don’t dilute it too much by trying to please everyone. You won’t.

5. Be an exemplary model
The increased visibility that your leadership will generate will put you in the spotlight. Keep your hands clean.  Don’t be tempted by your growing power and influence.  Also, don’t avoid leadershp if you have a shady past.  If you have truly repented, take ownership for your humanity and mistakes.  Share what you’ve learned from your errant ways and promise to stay on the straight and narrow.  And then stay there.

6. Demonstrate integrity
Keep your word. Be consistent in your actions.  Do what you say you’re going to do.  Tell the truth. Make decisions your mother, spouse, children, grandmother would be proud of.  Live as though your life will be played out in the media because it might actually end up there.

7. Ask for input and help
Don’t try to get to ‘the promised land’ alone.  You can’t. And even if you do, it won’t be very gratifying. As you enroll others in your vision, identify key people in your cause and solicit their opinions and help.  The more people you have actively engaged and on the bandwagon with you leading others as well, the easier your road trip will be.

Do these things consistently and you’ll find yourself living a fulfilled life, making a difference and leaving the world in a better place than you found it.  That is your purpose so go live it.

4 Quick Questions that Generate Sales

Most service professionals I know struggle with holding productive sales conversations.  They either avoid them altogether and never get close to the sale or blab so much about what they offer, that they turn people off and lose the deal anyway.

The key is to get your prospects talking so they convince themselves that you are the perfect solution to their problems. And the way to get them talking is by asking them questions designed to reveal their hopes and dreams and obstacles to their success. It is through skillful questioning that many a fortune are made.

My friend Lynn Hennessy, owner of a highly successful insurance agency, has her team using 4 simple questions with great success.  Lynn learned them from Marvelous Marvin LeBlanc, The Cajun Trainavator.

They are similar to the questions I use, but so short and crisp, I had to ask if I could share them with you, so here they are!

1.  When it comes to (insert your product or service), what do you currently have?

2.  What do you like about it?

3.  What do you dislike?

4.  What do you want instead?

Your prospect has now just laid out a roadmap for you to engage them in a conversation that is relevant for them about what you have to offer and how it can address their needs (only if it legitimately does, of course).

Leading with these questions won’t guarantee you close the sale, but I’ll bet your closing ratio will go up.  So try them out and let me know.

Top 3 Tips for Overcoming Adversity

Last week, I found a pair of sandals I hadn’t worn for years: didn’t even recall that I owned them until I opened the box they were in and saw them.  (Hmmm. What does that say about my shoe collection? It’s not that big…really!)

Anyway, I remembered the shoes were quite comfortable and excitedly slid them on right away.  I took a few steps and suddenly my past was in my present. I had worn them during the spring and summer of 2001 when I was in a job I hated and in a marriage that was just about dead and taking our souls with it.

I flashed back to walking through a quiet neighborhood in Palo Alto CA past modest (but way overpriced) homes with beautiful flowerbeds, enjoying the sunlight on my shoulders but grappling with the heaviness in my heart.

All of the anguish rushed right back: so much so that I immediately took the shoes off, put them back in the closet and entertained thoughts about giving the to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

It’s strange how we store memories in our bodies in ways we don’t hardly know. Even though it had been almost 10 years since they’d been on my feet, I was right back there on the streets in northern CA, sad and angry.

So here I am now in Phoenix, enjoying life as an entrepreneur, living with a man I could have married 36 years ago instead of just 6. (That’s another story.  If you haven’t heard it, ask me about it next time you see me.)

I shared my keep-them-or-give-them-away dilemma with my husband a couple of times until he basically said (lovingly), ‘make a decision or quit lamenting’.

Great advice!

Here’s what I’ve learned from this .
1. Choose your future
Sometimes it’s hard to envision a positive future when your present is flooded with unpleasant thoughts, feelings, emotions and circumstances.  You have options.  Bring the future you desire into existence through the power of declaration.

2. Never give up
Too often, people are discouraged from their goals when they seem difficult to accomplish. It would have been easy to put those sandals back in the box and drop them off at a donation center.  But I choose to keep them and therefore deal with the (what turned out to be) temporary discomfort of the memories.

I decided I could make NEW memories in the present.  So I started wearing the sandals at every opportunity and – Voila! The pain diminished.

It was similar to the breakthrough I had when I quit smoking 15 years ago.  I realized that when the urge to smoke struck and I distracted myself for just a few minutes, THE URGE WENT AWAY!  That was mind-boggling for me.

The same thing happened with the shoes.  When I decided I was bigger than the memories, they started to fade. My body started experiencing and remembering NEW details that over-wrote the ones that had been stored in the shoes and the soles of my feet laying dormant until they were joined together again.

Because of the choices I made, the nicotine lost its grip and so did the memories of the bad job and ex-husband.

3. Move steadily forward toward your goal.
On occassion, an image or conversation from the past returns to my consciousness.  Because I believe and say “You are not the boss of me!”, the pictures and words don’t take hold.  They are disempowered. They learn their new place in my life and I am free.

So when adversity strikes, look toward the future with determination and faith and act consistent with your desires.