Q: I work long hours but don’t seem to accomplish as much as I should. Do you have any tips on being more productive during the day?
Greg Reid: Learn to say no. Too many people are measuring how successful or important they are by how many balls they can keep in the air at a given moment. We all know a computer runs at its slowest when it has too many operations open at once. The same applies to our production. The moral being, when we have a full workload, learn to say no in a courteous manner, so you may focus on the tasks at hand, and the new project can be passed along to another person who may offer more attention to it.
Vic Johnson: The first thing to do is to divorce yourself of the idea that long hours and accomplishment are connected. I know plenty of poor and unsuccessful people who work long hours. I also know the feeling of having worked long hours only to be frustrated that the results weren’t there.
Results and production occur when enough of the right things are done right. So the first place to look is at what you’re doing. Is it the right thing to be doing at that moment to move you toward your goal? It amazes me how many new business owners spend so much time picking out business cards, designing letterhead and ordering offi ce equipment when the biggest task to be done is finding and serving customers. Here’s an acronym you might want to plaster everywhere so you’re constantly exposed to it during the day: W.I.N. = What’s Important Now?
Ask yourself: Are you doing something you could easily delegate to someone else—to someone who is more skilled or better suited for that particular task? Spend most of your time using your natural talents. The most successful people I have observed all developed the ability to work through other people to achieve their goals. And they definitely know how to play to their strengths and staff their weaknesses.
Q: I am the head of a team but my people don’t seem to listen to me—any advice on how I can be a better leader?
Cynthia Kersey: One of the best ways to build a powerful team is to be a person who can be counted on. Are you someone who does what you say you’re going to do? Have you ever met people who seemed to have the best of intentions and yet they never followed through on commitments? Whether it was to follow up and schedule lunch, plan a date to get together or follow through on a commitment to mail you a check—whatever the commitment, what type of impression do you have about people when they don’t follow through?
We’ve all heard the saying, “actions speak louder than words.” And when selling your product, your project or building a business, the minute you interact with a prospect, the actions that follow will give people a powerful indication of who you are. Make sure that you do what you say you’re going to do.
G.R.: Lead by example. Perhaps the problem isn’t that they are not listening to you as much as you may not be listening to them. To be a leader of a team means there is more than one person involved. Most people simply want to feel appreciated and part of something. Find a way to incorporate a few of their suggestions, and see the results you get.
Q: I get so excited about my goals and then I lose motivation. How can I keep myself constantly motivated and on track?
V.J.: Nothing is more instructive in this area than the classic Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Hill devoted an entire chapter to the subject of desire, or what some people might call “The Dream.” He wrote, “The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire brings a small amount of heat. If you fi nd yourself lacking in persistence, the weakness may be remedied by building a stronger fire under your desire.”
To build a stronger fire you have to surround yourself with the dream so you are constantly reminded of it. Have a goal for a custom home? Start clipping pictures and plans of custom homes that appeal to you. Be a regular visitor to open houses featuring custom homes. Hire an architect to design the custom home you envision (that act of faith alone will probably bring you closer to your goal than most anything you can do). Taking any type of action toward your goal will stoke your desire.
C.K.: The biggest problem people have in achieving goals is that they often try to make too many drastic changes all at once. For example, a person might want to lose weight, make more money and spend more quality time with his or her children. To do so, they create an exhaustive list of the action steps necessary to make that happen. The problem comes on day three when they’re exhausted, overwhelmed and can’t get three of the 10 things done on the list. In no time, their goals, once again, become history. Research indicates that when people are asked to make big, sweeping changes in their lives all at once, they get overwhelmed, become discouraged and commonly give up, reverting to their old patterns of behavior.
This undermines their self-confidence and makes it harder for them to make a change in the future.
The most effective way to create lasting change is to focus on one area at a time and take a consistent action step toward that goal, allowing that to lead to success in other areas. Even the busiest person can fi nd the time to take a single step. In doing so, you won’t feel overwhelmed by the process, and you’ll be able to make the gradual changes that will create lasting results.
Greg Reid is a filmmaker, motivational speaker and best-selling author, whose books include The Millionaire Mentor and Positive Impact.
Cynthia Kersey is a best-selling author, columnist, speaker, a performance and productivity coach and president of Unstoppable Enterprises Inc.
Vic Johnson is an internationally known expert in goal achieving and hosts his own TV show, Goals-2-Go on TSTN.