Ripping the Shirt Off of Fear

Brandi focused on win instead of fearIt’s July 10, 1999 and in Pasadena, California Team USA and China are battling for the Women’s World Cup Soccer Championship in the Rose Bowl.  This is the largest attended women’s sports event in history.  At the end of regulation play, the score is tied and it goes to overtime.  In overtime, Brandi Chastain intently lines up for a penalty kick.  She sets herself, runs up to the ball, and launches it into the upper right corner of the goal to score and in her now famous celebration pulls her shirt off in mid-field.  A win and championship for Team USA!

Tell me, what do you think was going through her mind?  Was Brandi thinking about how she was going to blow it?

Pointing to Success

The Babe had ignored his fearsGoing back further, in one of the greatest sports moments of all time, George Herman “Babe” Ruth of the New York Yankees steps up to home plate in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series.  The score is tied 5-5 and the Chicago Cubs players on the bench have been riding the Babe mercilessly.  As Ruth steps to the plate, he makes a gesture that many believe has him pointing to the center field wall after taking strike one from the pitcher, seemingly declaring his intention.   He did it again after strike two.  On the next pitch, the Babe mightily smacked the ball deep into center field and over the fence for a home run!  It is estimated the ball traveled 490 feet!  The Yankees went on to win the World Series in a four-game sweep.

Whether you believe the intent of the gesture or not, do you believe for one minute that Babe Ruth, who not only held the record for homeruns but also for strikeouts, focused on what would happen if he didn’t deliver?

The difference in success and failure is often a matter of how we handle our fears.  Dr. Heidi Halvorson, co-author of the book Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing The World For Success and Influencesays that handling that fear effectively is often a matter of mindset.   It’s all about where we focus our attention.  According to Dr. Halvorson, we have a choice of one of two mindsets when faced with accomplishing a goal or meeting a deadline or performing during a critical moment.  We can have a what she calls a Prevention Focus; where we concentrate on the negative aspects of the situation.  The concentration is on NOT messing up.  We do this in our daily lives and with others.  When a parent tells a child who wants to help set the table,

Okay, but this is our best dinnerware, don’t drop it!”  

With instructions like that, you might as well trip the kid yourself.  Or a manager tells an employee,

it is very important that you don’t blow this account.

Best example I can think of is the story Zig Ziglar tells of the 1982 football playoffs between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.  With Dallas ahead and less than a minute left on the clock, Dallas implemented the Prevent Defense.  Joe Montana dropped back and threw a pass deep into the end zone that appeared to be sailing for out of bounds when Dwight Clark jumped up and made a fingertip catch for San Francisco to win the game.  Later, someone asked Cowboys owner Tex Schramm about what made the difference and he said,

“The Dallas Cowboys were determined NOT TO LOSE the game.  The 49ers were determined to WIN the game and that made the difference!”

So prevention focus centers on trying not to lose the game.

The opposite then is Promotion Focus.  In this mindset, you are focused on what you have to gain when you are successful.  “If I complete this project on time, our company will collect a big bonus from our customer.”  Promotion Focus centers on the win, always opting for growth, willing to take the risk to see the reward, and quick to take action.

Promotion Focus people tend to have better and more consistent results than Prevention Focus people.  You have a tendency toward one or the other but the good news is that it’s not born in you.  It is something that has been learned, placed into your brain by the attitudes of people to whom you bonded, other people influential in your life, and combined with past experiences.  So, if your tendency is towards the cautious, risk avoiding, and tentative nature of Prevention Focus, the good news is you can change.  It is a matter of changing your mindset.

Start by imagining a change you wish to make or project you wish to start.  List all the possible positive outcomes from successfully making that change or completing the project.  Don’t downplay it, but also don’t go overboard.  In most cases, you aren’t going to be a guest on The Ellen Degeneres Show because you completed a proposal package ahead of schedule for a client.  But you will likely make a favorable impression on the client, which can lead to award of the project and potential future projects.

  • You may get referrals to other clients and generate a significant increase in business income and grow your business.
  • You may be able to hire staff and afford to take vacations.
  • You can build your reputation within the industry.
  • Your self-esteem goes up.

Imagine every possible positive outcome of making the change and WRITE IT DOWN!  Then, every time you start feeling fearful, bring out the list and read it to yourself over and over again until you feel more in control.

Determine for yourself to Play to Win instead of Playing Not to Lose.

Action Plan

  1. Take Dr. Halvorson’s FOCUS Diagnostic assessment to see whether you have a Prevention Focus or a Promotion Focus.  Warning: be prepared to list about 12 attributes you would like to possess.
  2. Think about one big thing you want to accomplish; it can be a current project or a dream, particularly if you have been feeling a lot of fear over it.  Write down all the possible positive outcomes of accomplishing it and post it prominently.  Set a start date.

YOU Overboard

Is it possible to be too much you?  Is it possible to embrace your uniqueness – your weirdness – to such an extent to where your repel instead of attact?

Extreme Unique Personalities

unique look on Jesus in GodspellIn High School, I had a friend who was definitely unique and definitely embraced his weirdness.  His appearance even caught your attention.  He had brillo-like hair, similar to the actor who played Jesus in the movie Godspell.  When he got on a roll, his eyes had this wide-open, almost wild look to them.  He was funny and made a point to do crazy things.  Campaigning for class president in our senior year, he drove his moped into the gym and around the floor and then parked it next to the stage so he could take the podium for his campaign speech.  The audience loved it and he was overwhelmingly elected class president.

Too extreme?

Depends on your circumstance.

In an audience of high school seniors, it was perfect.   Not so popular with the basketball coach since he just drove a vehicle around on his freshly refinished hardwood basketball court.

Art Grindle and his unique way of selling carsIn the Central Florida area, there used to be car dealer named Art Grindle.  He would air commercials on local television showing some of the cars he had on sale, he would show a poster with the price of the car on it, get excited, and the scream “I’ll cut the price in half!” while he enthusiastically tore the poster down the middle.  Sometimes he would jump up on the car or car roof and do the same thing.  He made that mistake one time with a convertible.  You guessed it, fell right through the roof!  The driver bailed out and ran and Art just stood there sticking out of the roof and exclaimed “Look!  There’s a hole in the roof!  I’ll cut the price in half!

Too weird? 

Well, in used car circles some use the mantra of “anything that moves metal”.  Art was eventually elected to our state senate and served there for ten years.  In preparation for that, he toned down his on-air antics a bit.  Whether that helped him or hurt him is hard to say.

When Unique is Too Unique

I think you gauge whether your weirdness is too much based on several factors.

  • Your audience
  • Your purpose
  • The circumstance

I have seen many who choose to be unique or just plain weird and take it to the extreme.  They go for the polar opposite for no other reason than to stand out and be seen as weird or extreme.  This is self-serving; it typically has no other viable purpose than to attract attention.  When the focus is on you instead of on what you do and perhaps the different way in which you do it, then it’s not serving your purpose of making you stand out from the crowd; instead it makes you a pariah.

I am in no way suggesting manipulating people by forcing behavior.  Of course, I think going to the extreme just to go to the extreme is a little manipulative as well.

The idea here is to simply recognize how you ARE different and instead of hiding it celebrating it.  You still have to provide something of value to your client and you still have to perform when the time comes.

What do you think?  Is it possible to be too weird?  How do you know when you’ve gone too far?


The Business of Being Unique

unique rabbitThere is an old kid’s joke:

Q:  How do you catch an unique rabbit?

A:  Unique up on him!

Silly, but perhaps it has some value for us.  For small businesses, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs, there is a big emphasis on finding your niche – the market that is almost exclusively yours.  The principle behind it is that if you try to market to everyone or try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to anyone.  In the highly competitive marketplace today, especially with the explosion of entrepreneurs, it becomes important to target what you do to a specific group of people.  That group becomes your tribe or niche that can be yours and you can dominate that market much more effectively IF you know how to talk to them so that your message resonates with them and presents a sense of urgency.

What I see happen a lot with small businesses is aptly described by Marketing Coach Robert Middleton as trying to run their small business as if it was a big business.  Trying to compete with the marketing and organization.  It can’t be done.  You don’t have their budget or their resources.

The Unique Solution

be unique - stand outSo stop trying to be a big business.  Instead take advantage of what you have as a small business.  Part of what you have is the unique culture of your organization.  Whether you are a solopreneur or have 50 employees, there are things that are unique about you and your organization.  Maybe even a little bit weird.  Instead of trying to hide that, celebrate it.  Emphasize it!  Go out of your way to point it out to your customers and friends.  Integrate it into everything you write and say about your business.  There are distinct advantages to doing this:

  • You stand out from the crowd.  In the competitive marketplace, you can’t afford to fit in or be one grape in the bunch.  You need to be the lone banana.
  • You become more appealing to your niche.  They don’t want cookie-cutter, they want someone with character who will be as devoted to them so they can become devoted to you.  They want special!
  • You will connect better with people, customers and friends alike.  There is a whole generation out there that values authenticity.  The more you and your organization embrace who you really are, the more people will relate to you and trust you.

So how do you catch a unique market?  

Unique up on it! 

Action Plan

  • What is it about you or your company that is unique?  What makes you a little weird?
  • In what ways is that appealing to your target market?  What are some possible dangers?
  • How can you leverage that to connect better with your clients?
  • How can you integrate it into every communication with people inside and outside your company?

Big Dreams At a Conference

Dreams through juiceplusI am spending some time this week at the JuicePlus Leadership Conference.  As a distributor for JuicePlus and Tower Gardens, Sherry and I are able to attend the conference, especially since it is here in Orlando.  Our family has benefitted greatly from both and we enjoy sharing that with others.

A couple of things that really caught my attention about the conference so far:

1.  There are over 5,000 distributors here.  There are couples and individuals, women mostly but quite a few men, young and old.  Apparently the desire to eat and be healthy and share that with others isn’t really limited by demographics.

2.  Very reputable medical professionals like Dr. David Katz and Dr. William Sears spoke and endorsed JuicePlus and the Tower Garden enthusiastically.

Even more of what caught my attention is the people themselves.  As I mentioned before, the people attending here spread across age ranges, cultural ranges, gender, body structure, and level of passion.  But what they share in common is a desire to share healthy alternatives to the way we eat and, for a great many of them, how they fulfill their dreams.

See, some of the people here run this as a little supplemental income side business, but many are running this as their main source of income.  Either because they were laid off and could not find work or because they always wanted to run their own business.

From a leadership (and good business management) standpoint, Jay Martin, the CEO of The JuicePlus Company (formerly NSA) and his team have gone out of their way to make it very easy to make this a business.

  • no overhead
  • very little management required
  • flexibility in what you offer and when you offer it.

If someone had dreams of their own business but worried about capital, stocking product, or handling process, this is ideal because it takes those roadblocks away.  It gives hope to their dreams.

Dreams Leaving the Corporate World

laid off workers have dreams dashedMore and more, people are seeing that placing their dreams in the corporate world just isn’t the same promise it might have been before; or perhaps it never was and people are seeing that now.  College graduates are finding it harder and harder to get a job and it may not have the income they need.

The older workforce is being laid off by short-sighted executives who value savings in human capital expense more than productivity.  As the 50 and over crowd gets laid off, they also find getting new work to be challenging at best and darn near impossible at worst.
So these people turn to entrepreneurial dreams in companies like The JuicePlus Company.

As Meridith Martin, the Director of Marketing Operations for the company said in her speech today,

“More of you are saying, I don’t need the latest version of What Color is My Parachute!  I know what color my parachute is; it is Red, Green, and Purple!”

(Red, Green, and Purple by the way are the colors of the JuicePlus bottles.)

It seems dreams have entered the new millennia.

A Dream for Life

follow your dreamWhere we go and what we do in life is designed to be driven by our dreams.  So we begin dreaming at an early age about who and what we want to be.  It changes from time to time, depending on the influences in our lives, but it also each change molds and shapes us into the person we are designed to be.

Disney’s Dream Wasn’t Folly

Walt Disney was always an artist.  He had a passion for drawing and he would draw anytime he could; first little sketches from family members and then drawings he would sell to friends and others.  Deep within him was this dream of creating animated feature films.

The problem was, no one wanted full-length animated feature films.  He made lots of short cartoons that became extremely popular, such as Laugh-O-Grams, The Alice Comedies, Oswald Rabbit, and little animations for local businesses.  Over this time, he tried and failed several times to have a successful animation venture.  Even Steamboat Willie, the debut of Mickey Mouse, was actually a short featurette.

Walt kept re-iterating his desire to create full-length animated feature films.  His business advisors and friends were all against it.  Other industry colleagues derided him.  In fact, they called it “Disney’s Folly”.  This kept on right up until 1937, when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs released and grossed $1.6 billion.  So much for Disney’s Folly.

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

Walt Disney

Following My Own Dream Path

I was not as lucky as Disney.  It wasn’t until halfway through college that I found my passion.  I was working my way through college at Walt Disney World and  for a while I was  “Jungle Paul” on the famous Jungle Cruise ride.  “Welcome aboard, thrill seekers and danger lovers!”

I performed well on this attraction and they made me a trainer for the ride.  I would typically work with trainees for several days, teaching them to work the ride, memorize the spiel, and deliver it effectively.  That’s where the passion struck!  I found myself making supplemental teaching aids to enhance the manual and help my trainees learn faster.  I worked hard with energy and excitement; nothing made me happier than a trainee successfully completing a trip and passing the test.

Now I knew:  this was my dream!  I wanted to help others be inspired and learn and grow and perform well.  That was what really drove me!  I didn’t want to be president of Disney, or a corporate giant, or a lawyer.  I wanted to help adults learn and perform.

But the road wasn’t that easy.  I was told that the way to become a trainer was to beccome an expert on something and then maybe a company will make me a trainer.  I didn’t want to do that.  I decided on my own route.  I had lots of ups and downs, lots of failure.  Plenty of people telling me I couldn’t do it my way.  I refused to be stopped; I kept my dream in mind.

I have now been a professional trainer for over 25 years.  I accomplished my dream and I followed my own path.  I can tell you, a dream and a passion will get you anywhere.

Action Plan

  1. What dream have you held on to from an early age?  What are you doing to pursue it?
  2. Think of one thing you can do TODAY to start making that dream a reality.
  3. Shut out any negative talk from anyone (including yourself) telling you that you can’t too it or it’s too late.