5 Ways to Re-energize Your Environment, Career and Life

Spring is in the air and this time of year is ideal for bringing new life into YOUR life. You’ve probably heard the expression, “Out with the old and in with the new”, right?

When you purge yourself of old things, you make energetic ‘space’ for new, more pertinent things to come into your life.  It’s difficult to attract the things you need when your environment is filled with clutter, ‘dead’ stuff, unnecessary stuff, not longer relevant stuff. If you’ve been reading these articles for a while, you know I’m a big fan of cleansing, purging and releasing.

Here are 5 activities you can easily carry out to put more “spring” in your step

1. Clean out your cupboards and closets
This past weekend, I released two shopping bags full of plastic containers that had been clogging up cabinet. It was fun and freeing. It didn’t take that long and knocked an item off my one-day-I’ll-get-around-to-it list. That in itself made me happy. Clean out your file cabinets. and throw away or shred papers that are no longer relevant.

2. Trim away dead plants (or have someone do it for you)
The winter frosts we had damaged many of the plants in our back yard. While the landscaper took care of the weeds that were about to get out of control from the rain and large trees that needed trimming, I enjoy connecting with nature through plants. So the touching and caring for them that light pruning involves, grounds me. So I snipped away at all the brown stuff leaving healthy, green, vibrant remains.

Don’t have any dead plants?  Trim away counterproductive people in your life.  Minimize your engagement with them.  Think you can’t extricate yourself? Trim away the emotions you let arise within yourself when they’re around.  You have choices about what you think and how you respond. Exercise them.

3. Reconnect with the past
A former colleague sent me a LinkedIn message that someone else we had both worked with at Kraft Foods headquarters in Chicago almost 30 years ago (yikes!) had moved to Phoenix.  After we talked, other Chicago memories arose in my consciousness allowing me to integrate the growth I’ve experienced over the decades in new ways.

4. Set new intentions
I always have a to-do list but they tend to be somewhat short term. It’s critical to routinely set aside time be more strategic and look out over a longer time horizon.  Intentions can be things you want to accomplish (goals) or characteristics you want to become or exhibit. Always be working on yourself.

5. Be open to and look for new opportunities
The universe recognizes when you take action. (It knows when you’ve been sleeping, it knows when you’re awake.  It knows when you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!)

Part of being successful is being on the lookout for opportunities (they are there, I promise you) and taking action when you see them.

The more you act on your hunches the stronger your intuition will become. The stronger your intuition becomes, the more doors you’ll see and the more courage you’ll find to open them up and step through them.

The 7 Essential Lists Successful Businesses Must Have

Running a successful business requires more than a good idea.  It requires structure and processes to keep things and money flowing.

1. Long-term goals list
If you’ve been following me for any time, you’ll undoubtedly heard me talk about the importance of goals.  Goals that stretch beyond today or this week, will help you prioritize your time in the most productive manner possible.  They will motivate you and your staff.  They will keep on focused on what’s truly important.

2. Daily to-do action items list
Just as important as knowing where you’re going long term, is knowing (and doing) what’s most important RIGHT NOW.  Sometimes unforseen emergencies have to be dealt with.  But more importantly, you need to decide each day what the most productive use of your time will be.

I always have a to-do list and never get through everything on the list on any given day.  I do always decide what the priorities are for the day and then get to work on them.  Last week, I lost my list and I was lost without it!  Thank God I found it a couple of days later.  I remembered some of the critical items, but had forgotten one that needed to be addressed.

3. Prospect list
This is one of the biggest mistakes business owners make.  If you don’t have a list of potential prospects, you’re definitely leaving money on the table.  If you’re a retail establishment, people make a purchase the very first time they discover you.  However, if you don’t and you haven’t captured their contact info, you may never hear from them again.

You’ll increase your chances of doing business with them if you’re able to proactively reach out and remind them that you exist.  So if you aren’t already capturing either a physical address or email address from your store or website visitors, start that now! You’ll probably need to give them some sort of incentive (not just an offer for your newsletter) in order for them to part with their contact info. But capturing that valuable data must be your goal.

4. Customer list
Just as important as a prospect list is a list of your customers. These are people who have demonstrated interest in your product or service by making a purchase.  It takes more time and energy to make a sale to a stranger or prospect than to someone who has already bought from you and been satisfied.  Treat these people well, but don’t neglect offering them the next thing you offer that can help solve their problems.

5. Process list
Every business needs a set of processes that help the business run efficiently.  You probably have them even if they aren’t documented. You need to document them.

Start by making a list of all of the “Here’s how we do things around here” topics in a variety of areas such as answering the phone, identifying prospects, converting prospects to clients, taking on a new client, invoicing clients, processing payments, asking for a referral, publishing our newsletter, paying the bills, making minor changes to your website, etc. Then write out the steps involved in each process.

This compilation will be an invaluable tool in defining roles and responsibilities, delegating tasks and training new employees.

6. Resource list
This list includes the tools and systems you use to run your business and make your life easier.  It’s slightly different than the Process List which may reference certain resources: things like your accounting system, your website host, tools on your blog, new tools you plan to invest in, an employment agency or temp service, online portals for which you have memberships or accounts.

Having a list in a binder along with a brief description and access (login) or contact info will save you countless hours of trying find the information when you desperately need it.

7. Diversions list
After all of this work, you must take time to relax and enjoy life.  It’s challenging for some business owners to ‘work in’ time for play, but this list is essential as well.

Your list should include things you enjoy doing, that bring you peace of mind, that obliterate your stress.  Possible candidates are listening to a certain kind of music, playing music, painting, playing with your pets, children, spouse and friends.

Make sure you know which kind of ‘play’ you thirst for.  Is it board games, exercise, meditation, video games, outdoor sports, movies, ballet, opera, cards, TV, dancing, vacations, weekend getaways?

Whatever ‘floats you boat’, schedule it. That may sound weird but if these activities aren’t on your calendar or at least on a list you review regularly, they will get trumped by those emergencies and daily tasks.

Creating and using these lists will improve your productivity, keep your business soaring and maintain your sanity.

The Oscars and the Art of Business Leadership

“What do the Oscars have to do with business leadership?”, you may be asking. There are five things I believe Oscar nominees and winners demonstrate that land them the preeminent recognition for their artistic achievements.

1. Vision

Having a clear vision is almost a cliché attribute of a leader. However without it, it’s hard to give an outstanding, authentic performance as an actor.  In the absence of ‘where am I going with this character?’, the actor would likely amble around, missing opportunities to clearly define what defines him or her. How would they know how to respond in certain situations?

When an actor is able to do this, we find ourselves watching a scene unfold that evokes powerful emotions within us riveting us to the screen and the characters.

A lack of vision would make directing a film equally a challenge. The director must communicate the vision for the overall project so that the players can find themselves and clarify their roles in the film.  The players are then able to bring their best into the role and forge a path toward the vision that is theirs uniquely to make.

This ability to articulate a clear vision advances any kind of project, whether it’s being played out in Hollywood, Boise or Philadelphia.

2. Intention
I researched the dictionary for the definition of ‘intention’ because although I know it when I feel it, I wasn’t sure how to describe it.

Here’s part of what I found:
An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action; purpose or attitude.

The definition that was most revealing however, was that of the word as used in a medical context: “a manner or process of healing (as in the healing of a lesion or fracture).

This brought a whole new perspective to that which occurs in acting, directing, filming and leading.  Imagine that the intention one brings reflects the healing and fusing of two (or more) disparate entities, goals, purposes, personae, people.

In this way, it reflects a sort of will to bring together that which might not have happened that leaves the new ‘whole’ greater than the sum of its parts.

When you’re leading, isn’t that exactly what you’re doing?

3. Going all out
You may have heard the phrase, “Leave it all on the floor”. Oscar nominees put everything they have into their

performance.  They completely ‘spend’ themselves.  I’ve heard actors say they actually abandon their own personality and dive as deeply as they can into their portrayal character.

That kind of energy, passion and commitment serves a leader as well.  Think about people who have deeply inspired you.  They didn’t give up  their own personality, but they probably did give what they were at work on, everything they had.

It was this demonstration of going for the gusto, that probably had you step up and excel in your own performance.

4. Attention to detail
Think about the mountain of details that must be involved in films as visually complex as Inception and Avatar.

Even the characters in Inception were focused on keeping every detail of the dream levels as realistic as possible.

When you’re a leader, you don’t need to attend to all of the details, but you must keenly care about them and communicate that care to the people whose job it is to attend to them.

5. Challenging the bounds of reality and ‘what’s possible’
It’s a delicate trick to balance reality and possibility.  Films need to have some semblance to reality or else they won’t be understood.

However, if all they reflect is reality and don’t challenge the edges, we’ll be bored watching them.

Successful screen writing requires some sort of break with the predictable; some dichotomy or unexpected crisis is needed to keep the plot interesting. Great actors are able to take ordinary people (even in bit roles) and make memorable characters,even heroes out of them.

Exemplary leaders are able to stand in the reality of where things are now, both the circumstances and the people. They are equally able to articulate what’s possible and galvanize people around getting there. They don’t succumb to ‘it’s never been done before’.  They’re actually challenged by that and rise to the occasion. As they rise and light the path ahead, they elevate us all.

Imagine what it would take for you to bring the traits of an Academy Award winner into ‘playing’ out your leadership role, whether at work, at home or in your community.

How might you behave differently?  What would you and those around you be able to accomplish? Think about that the next time you step onto your ‘stage’.