Taking Work as it Comes

Opportunity Missed and Taken Green Road Sign Over Dramatic BlueWhen you work for yourself opportunities to earn money are precious.  Anyone who doesn’t think that way doesn’t last long in business for themselves.

The challenge comes in deciding what to take and what to refuse.  I have heard many advise to take everything, especially when money is tight.  One of the popular quotes cited lately by Richard Branson concerns opportunity:

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!

The interpretation by many is to simply take every opportunity that comes along and then figure it out. Yet, that’s not really what Branson is saying here. You need to emphasize the word amazing in that; for it is the amazing opportunities we don’t want to pass up as they don’t come very often and are usually the launching points for greater things.

What’s an Amazing Opportunity?

How we define an amazing opportunity is what makes a difference.  An opportunity for steady work, or to increase our reach, or increase our income significantly is not necessarily an amazing opportunity; especially if it takes us into areas that don’t speak to our strengths.

[snaptweet]We are most significant when we embrace the amazing opportunities that utilize and challenge our strengths.[/snaptweet]

Anything else not only is second best, but threatens to compromise everything we have worked towards prior to that.

Saying No to the Amazing Opportunity

That doesn’t always make it easy.

Earlier this week, I was presented with an opportunity to lead training on a course in Social Media for Business.  I had nothing else income generating going that week in question and my first impulse was to say, “why not?”  It’s important to note that while I blog (as you can see here), have a Facebook fan page for both my company and for the L2:Learn-Lead Orlando simulcast event, post frequently on Twitter, have a LinkedIn page, and a Google+ page; I am not what you would call a “social media expert”.  It would have been a significant and sharp learning curve to overcome to be considered authoritative enough to teach a course on it.  It’s not my area of strength.

[snaptweet]I have a policy that I stick with what I am good at and try not to pretend to be good at something I’m not.[/snaptweet]

NO is sometimes the best answer

It speaks to my integrity with myself and others and to my core values.  I never want to present myself as an expert on something I’m not and just as important is I don’t want to spend my time trying to be good at something I’m not and neglect getting better at my areas of strength.

I turned the job down.  As I said, I’m not a social media expert but fortunately I know people who are.  So I was able to refer them to someone who was able to meet their needs and provided an “amazing opportunity” for someone else.

What are you doing now that you really shouldn’t be doing?  Is it in the wheelhouse of your strengths?  What amazing opportunities are out there for you?  What will you do to pursue them?  Comment below.

Thinking Possibilities

As leaders, one of the most important things we do is think.  We think about our followers, about mentoring and growing other leaders, about the future of our business or our team.
Our thinking becomes dangerous when we start thinking in terms of limitations. When we think in absolutes.  When we think with what’s called a “Lack Mentality”.
It’s been proven time and time again;  limited thinking leads to limited results.
When we think in possibilities however then answers and solutions come to us.
Ken Blanchard once said,
If you want to go places you have never gone before, you have to think in ways you have never thought before.
Possibility thinking leads to the creative.  It opens up new avenues and new solutions and allows you to be a more effective leader for your team.

Solutions Through Possibilities

Mr. Hollands Opus - Mr. Holland teaches musicIf you ever saw the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus, starring Richard Dreyfus as music teacher Glenn Holland you would see an excellent example of this.  Mr. Holland is trying to write music and dreams of creating a world renown piece.  To pay the bills, he takes on a job as a high school music teacher and  faces challenge after challenge with the students and even his own child, who is born deaf.

Where others saw absolutes and insurmountable circumstances, Mr. Holland instead looked for possibilities.  His passion for music and his desire to share that passion with others led him to think of unique ways to make things happen and achieve success.  He finds creative ways to reach students and inspire them and even devises a way for his deaf son and other hearing impaired people to enjoy music through lights.
The end result was the lasting impact that Mr. Holland had on the people he influenced.  He led them places they didn’t think they could go.

How We Can

As a leader, the responsibility we have as well is to lead people where they don’t necessarily think they can go.  To do that, we have to be willing and prepared to explore possibilities and seek creative solutions in pursuit of our vision.
[snaptweet]When our vision and our passion join, we see hope.  But when we think HOW WE CAN instead of “CAN WE”, then we create possibilities to bring our vision to reality.[/snaptweet]

Here’s some things to help open you up to possibilities:

  1. Be a positive thinker –  Many think positive thinking is just sticking your head in the sand, but actually a positive thinker looks for possibilities.  They look for how they can get the best out of every situation.
  2. Remember WHY and HOW – Question things a lot.  Ask questions like “how can we be more effective?  How can we serve our customers more efficiently?  How can we improve our profitability?”
  3. Avoid the Impossible Thinkers – The consultants and experts that tell you it can’t be done, that its impossible to reach your goals or objectives.  There are always possibilities and we want to look for those instead of what we can’t do.
  4. Think “AND” instead of “OR” –  We limit our thinking by creating exclusionary choices.  We can do this or have that.  Why not look at how can we do this AND have that?  How can we improve customer service AND increase profitability?  Thinking that way helps us come up with creative solutions that are more effective for our organization.

What possibilities will you open yourself up to today?

Talking is Not Listening

Have you ever been involved in a conversation and then 10 seconds later you couldn’t remember what they said or even if what they said was significant?  It’s not uncommon; in fact, it happens to all of us on a regular basis every day.  We hear, but we don’t really listen with the intent to understand or attach any significance to what is going on.  But a little active listening can go a long way towards building successful relationships.
One of the biggest hurdles we have in communicating with others is when we fool ourselves into thinking that communication has actually taken place.  We talk and we talk; we are pretty sure that we have gotten through, mostly because we have made sure we got our say in.  And then we may listen – or more accurately we hear but we don’t really listen because we are busy formulating our response or we have simply moved on to the point we want to make.
Stephen Covey once observed that
most people don’t listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.

Our Own Agenda

Too often we are concerned with our own agenda than we are with achieving any kind of understanding in a communication.
As leaders, one of the most important things we do; whether we are a leader in the workplace, a leader in the community, or a even a leader in our home, one of the most important things we do is listen to others to achieve understanding.  When we do that, we can help others reach their goals.  When we help others reach their goals, then our goals become possible as well.
[snaptweet]Nothing shows love, respect, and esteem more than a careful listening ear.  When we listen with others, we treat them with esteem and we able to achieve more because we build better relationships.[/snaptweet]

So here’s a few things that will help you become a more active listener today and achieve better results:

  1. LOOK AT THE SPEAKER – I’m easily distracted and will be engaged in conversation while looking at a computer screen or something in the distance that has caught my eye.  You need to take the time to focus on the person and you can do that easiest when you are looking at them.
  2. DECIDE NOT TO REPLY IMMEDIATELY – Often we are too busy formulating a response to really hear what is being said.  By deciding not make an immediate response, you free yourself up to listen and understand.
  3. KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK – Once our emotions take over we often shut down and we are too busy reacting emotionally to really hear what is being said.  The more you control that, the more you can listen to really understand before you respond.
  4. ASK QUESTIONS – Even if you think you know what they are going to say, asking questions can help clarify things.
  5. PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO UNDERSTAND – Paraphrase what the speaker has said and put it in your own words to ensure that there is shared meaning.  If you got it wrong they will correct you and if you got right they will confirm it.

Chances are you have a meeting or will interact with someone today.  Pick one activity to work on; for example, focus on looking at the speaker and dropping distractions.  See how it works.   How did it work for you?

Recipe Disaster

Caramel FlanOne of the things I like to do to relax is cook.  A couple of years ago I decided to make a special treat for everyone and I wanted to make a Caramel Flan for dessert.  Now I had never made one before and so I had to find a recipe and follow it closely.  One of the ingredients in the recipe was one cap (capfull) of Vanilla Extract.  Well, I misread the recipe and thought it said one cup of Vanilla Extract.  I thought that was extraordinary but the recipe must be right.  So I had to run to store and buy more vanilla and added one cup of Vanilla Extract to the mix.
Well, as you may guess, the result was horrible.  The smell and taste of the vanilla was so overpowering that no one could eat it and we had to throw it out!
I had the right ingredients but I didn’t have them in the right balance.

Seeking Balance

As an entrepreneur, as a small businessman, and as a leader we make those choices for balance on a daily basis.  We recognize the importance of balance but it is very hard to achieve.
We need to keep things in perspective and understand first of all that you are never going to achieve perfect balance in our lives.  There are always going to be things that happen daily that tip the scale one way or the other.  No matter how good our plans are, life will get in the way of our quest to achieve balance.
What’s important to us is progress, not perfection.

Right Ingredients, Right Mix

A key to making progress is having the right ingredients in the right mixture.
  • The right skills in the right quantities
  • The right knowledge and information we need to make good decisions
  • The right spirtual foundation
  • The right team members around us
  • The right environment
Again, understand it will be a continual struggle. We want progress and not perfection.  You will make balance choices each day and the scales will tip first to one side and then the other.  The real balance is in the choices of how we spend our time and where it is most important to spend it now.  Being consistent with those choices will help move us towards balance.


Don’t try to balance your life; work, home, church, community, friends. Instead, try to be consistent. Consistency seeks its own balance.


Here’s a few things that will help you along towards making progress on achieving balance:
  1. Establish priorities in advance – when your priorities are clear, decisions about where to spend your time become easier.
  2. Gather an effective team – Without the support of people around you, you tend to view yourself as indispensable.  When you do that, leaving work becomes harder to do.  A good team gives you confidence.
  3. Seek wise counsel to give you perspective – We all need someone to take our blinders off and see other points of view.
  4. Find an accountability partner – Someone to help hold your responsible for your commitments.  Someone who is preferably not your spouse or business partner.

Have you achieved balance? What things do you do on a daily basis to balance you life?

It Comes Down to INTEGRITY

If you take a quick look back in history for the last 20 years or so, integrity in business has seemed to take a huge hit.





A Lack of Integrity is Fatal to SuccessIf any of these names seem familiar to you then you can relate to what I am talking about.  All four were giant, multi-national companies that had equally giant implosions due to a lack of integrity inside of the business.

Failure From Way Back

Another example:  Dutch East India Trading Company. Another huge, multi-national company that fell apart after more than 100 years in business due to massive corruption.  And that was in the 1700’s.

A lack of integrity isn’t unique to this generation.

Integrity That Drives Business

For contrast, look at Johnson and Johnson, the makers of Tylenol.  One of the items in their mission statement is that they will do all things with “honesty and integrity”. They have placed a huge focus on the well-being of their customers as being vital to their success.  Executive management is asked to agree to and commit to all of this in order to be part of the organization.

Putting It to the Test

Back in 1982, there was a big scare with Tylenol.  Several containers had been tainted with poison and several people lost their lives as a result.  Within hours of the discovery of this, the President of Tylenol ordered the immediate removal of all containers of Tylenol from store shelves across the country. This despite the fact that this would cost the company millions of dollars (over $100 million).  Someone later asked him how he could make such a decision so quickly in the face of the consequences involved, including the financial hit.  He responded that he was simply acting in accordance with the values they had agreed upon from the very beginning.
“It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” -Roy Disney

The result today

Tylenol is one of the most trusted brands and Johnson and Johnson is doing well.

Integrity Matters!

It is the foundation of creating long-term, sustainable success in your career or your business. If you don’t have integrity, it becomes clear to everyone sooner or later. It permeates everything you do, everything you say, and everything you say about what you do.

Build integrity to build success.

So here’s three things you can do to build or maintain your integrity:

  1. BE TRUSTWORTHY – It starts with honesty.  It continues with showing respect to everyone.  Give it before they earn it and until they unearn it. Be consistent in how you treat people, with caring, consideration, kindness, and politeness.
  2. BE RELIABLE – Don’t ever promise what you can’t deliver and always deliver what you promise, no matter the cost.  Let people know what and who they can count on.
  3. DO TOUGH, UNPLEASANT THINGS FIRST – The benefits for you is that it gets em over with, it makes the rest of the day better by comparison, it gives you confidence, helps people develop confidence in you, and identifies you as one who can get things done.

What are other qualities you can think of that demonstrate INTEGRITY? Share your thoughts here or contact me at psimkins(at)BoldlyLead.com.