dreams

Define Success and Build Foundations

Laura Novakowski  -  Sep 12, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

There’s a quote often attributed to Alice in Wonderland that goes like this “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

By defining our success, we at least have a fighting chance of achieving what we really want. Success is unique and special for each of us. Some of us choose tangible success – a gold medal, a degree, a prize, a certain life style and income. Others seek achievement in spite of physical, mental or developmental limitations. Still others seek leaving a legacy such as a breakthrough cure, exploring new horizons, or creating an innovative product or service.

This is not about judging our motivators, Rather, defining success is about clarifying what is really important to each of us. By asking ourselves questions such as…

What lights me up in the morning, or causes me to lose sleep at night?

What provokes me to take outrageous risks and throw in all the chips?

When we start asking ourselves these motivating questions, we become inspired to live a life that is extraordinarily fulfilling. To define success we must discover what “trips our trigger.” Not just forces us, but compels us to take life changing actions.

Henry David Thoreau once wrote

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favour in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

When we define success, we can move confidently in the direction of our dreams and live each day putting foundations under those castles we build in the air.

The Power of Tools

Laura Novakowski  -  Aug 29, 2012  -  , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

James Allen once wrote

“…He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.” 

There is power in finding tools that can advance your career, simplify your life, enhance your health and improve your financial outlook.  Tools will make you life easier. They help you leverage time, talent and resources.

Three easily accessible tools:

A goal, for example can be viewed as a tool to help us achieve our vision.  Writing a goal that meets the “WHYSMART” standard initiates steps towards accomplishment.  YSMART—Written, Habit-forming, Yours, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed Follow-up—     allows you to see short term results, especially if you look at the results consistently to determine if you are achieving desired results.  As with any tool, it is better to create frequently review of the progress you are making to determine its effectiveness.  Rather than making a long range goal and falling short or worse continuing to do something that really wastes your time.  It’s like trying to use a steak knife rather than a chainsaw to cut down a tree—you might get the tree down, but in whose lifetime.

Another tool is planning, is the ever popular  “to-do list.”  This plan for the day can lead to the plan for the week, the month, the year and then a lifetime.   Starting out simple and appreciating that each action on your to-do list is a short term goals helps you see how you already have a degree of mastery in the goal setting department.

Another tool is post-it notes.  Keeping a pack of post-it notes handy helps me to capture ides wherever I am.  Later, rather than recopy the idea, I pop it into my idea book (another too BTW) to reference. Saves me recopying time. I can’t tell you how much this saves me in trying to remember an idea that inspired me at the time but was lost because I failed to write it down.

This is only a short list of tools.  Whatever the tool you choose, give it the proper time and support before abandoning it.  Have fun explore and share your tools.

To Dream The Impossible Dream

Laura Novakowski  -  Aug 03, 2012  -  , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Business, as life, can seem impossible at times. Big ideas appear unrealistic.  Opportunities only open to others. 

Are you spending more time in engaging in futile activities or attacking imaginary enemies – also known as tilting at windmills?

Let’s consider the classic story by  Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote, the story of an middle aged man who assumes the role of errant knight, seeking out injustices and fighting giants (windmills).  May not sound like our typical day, however, are we a present Don Quixote?  Fighting futile battles, wasting time, passion and talent.  Or, can we see that what we are confronting and challenging is taking away from our dreams.  That  life and work have caused us to believe those dreams are now impractical?

Now may not be the time to read the  book and so I’d like to offer an alternative.  Below are the lyrics to a song from the movie/play  Man of La Mancha…

“The Impossible Dream”

from MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972)

music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

I couldn’t say it any better (at least not right now).  Don’t just dream the impossible dream, reach for the unreachable star!!!

 

Make This a Refresh Your Business Day

Laura Novakowski  -  Jul 18, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Business is organic and dynamic. Always changing, shifting and moving. Two quarters have past and half  of 2012 is gone and no matter how spectacular or dismal the year has been now is the time to rejuvenate.  Why bother you ask? Well, take it from a reformed workaholic, I am more effective, productive and valuable when I take a day to refresh instead of staying buried under piles of work. Believe me, the work will still be there tomorrow.

I’d like to make 7 suggestions to refresh, renew and revitalize your business. To let go of the weightiness of what is sometimes overwhelming work and that feeling of always pushing up hill.

  1. Clear your calendar.  The competition will keep nipping at our heels. The economy will continue to fluctuate. Clients will lose interest. Partners will depart. Time continues and flies by.  The fact is, we cannot control our competitors, the economy, partners, or clients. Nor can we control time – the clock will continue to tick, the sun will rise and set. Work and life goes on and we have totally missed the joy of it all.  Treat yourself to whatever gives you new energy and new ideas just for one day.
  2. Go on an adventure.All to often, we slog through work just to get it done.  Slogging doesn’t really generate quality work. It’s rote and dull, leaving us and everyone around us less than inspired too.   You don’t have to leave town.  It’s amazing how much there is to discover in your  community if you just decide to explore.  Markets, art galleries, corner pubs, parks abound. It’s amazing to Learn the local culture,  art and resources right in your own back yard.
  3. Visit a play ground. Kids are wonderful to watch. Find a bench and enjoy the laughter and screams of joy.    Children are so limitless and courageous.  Just watching them communicate, interact, compete and share is so much fun.  They don’t worry about dirt,  heat,  or even time. They are so in the moment.  They don’t concern themselves with the next deal,  the next crisis, the next challenge. They are just in the moment. Better yet, join in if you can.
  4. Take a walk in nature.  Trees and flowers abound this time of year.  Notice the vibrant colors.  Appreciate how plants and scrubs reside in close proximity. If you can find a stream, lake or the beach that’s terrific too. All the tides of the ocean to put you back into the rhythm of life.  There is no competition or fighting and  beauty abounds.
  5. Play music.  Rock and roll. opera, rap, country, jazz. Play it loud or soft. Allow the music to wash over you. Turn off phones and move away from computers, unless they are your source of music.  I find that music works great to help me refocus and recharge. Keeping ipods and cd’s handy are great energizers even for short breaks and car trips.
  6. Listen to audio books.If you normally listen to audio books for work or self improvement. Put them away.  Pick up a mystery, murder, sci fi, romance, comedy, historical fiction. Books are wonderful detractors,  taking you places that you might have only dreamed about.  I always travel with audio books, the trip is amazing and provides a brief respite from business conversations.  Safer too.
  7. Plant a garden. At the very least visit a nursery, green house or market and pick out one plant.  Notice their leaves, flowers, scents and textures.  Plants are so great and once you carry one back to your office or company, they will become a friend for life. They filter our air, love us unconditionally and only ask for water and gentle handling. And, they serve as a great reminder for the time you took for yourself – that break so needed – that one cannot help but smile.

Seven suggestions, low cost, huge value. You are so worth the time you invest in a refreshing your business day. For those who might struggle with full days, consider starting with an hour, that’s what I do and it makes all the difference in the value that I can add to my work and my life. Enjoy and be refreshed!

 

 

The Five S’s of Sports Training Apply to Leadership

Laura Novakowski  -  Jul 13, 2012  -  , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Why not adapt this for leadership!

“The five S’s of sports training are:  stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit.”
– Ken Doherty

Want Customer Loyalty – Provide Extraordinary Customer Service

Laura Novakowski  -  Jul 11, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Amazing how companies want,  even expect customer loyalty.  However, the problem is that business often becomes so wrapped up in making money, their idea of the ultimate, that providing extraordinary customer service as almost an after thought. The real reason customer loyal creeps, crawls or crashes away is because companies does treat customer service as a top priority.

What does customer loyalty look like any?  Loyal customers become a company’s best ad agency. They refer, they recommend, and they set up introductions.  They invite you to important networking functions, seek your advice and proactively share with you recommendations to help to improve your products and services.

Seth Godin makes a fabulous recommendation regarding how to build extraordinary customer service:

“Most of your competition spend their days looking forward to those rare moments when everything goes right. Imagine how much leverage you have if you spend your time maximizing those common moments when it doesn’t.

Tips for providing extraordinary customer service:

  1. Be sure that you are offering value.  After all you wouldn’t be in business if your customers weren’t helping you pay your bills. In today’s economic environment, everyone is scrutinizing every dollar.  The company that offers products or services that their customers believe that they cannot live without is the company that can and will weather any storm.  The value has to not be not just in the direct product or service but also in the ongoing support, interest and benefits received.
  2. Make it right. This should be a standing company policy. When a mistake, misstep, or misunderstanding occurs everyone, and that means everyone, responsible needs to on top of how a customer is treated. How amazing would it be to receive a call, note or email from an supervisor, manager or executive to follow up to ensure that the customer is satisfied with the outcome.  Making it right is more than apology, it could be additional service, reduction in a bill or eliminating the bill totally.  This always shows the customer that how much service is valued.
  3. Help employees to “fess up.”  The standing company policy needs to include that appreciating employees make a mistake, there will not be blame but action to support to correct the situation . Helping employees to use the problems as learning experiences goes a long way to  ensure customer as well as employee loyalty.  After all, aren’t employees our best internal customers?
  4. Meet customers needs. A great movie is Miracle on Thirty Fourth Street. Remember the story, the hero, Santa Clause, works in Coles, a department store.  He helps customers find the gifts they are seeking at Christmas by referring them to competitors if the item is not available.  At first, management is appalled and almost fire this Santa.  But, the customers are so impressed that they tell  the store manager that they now are loyal to Coles because Coles cared about them. Honest, creative, concerned service almost always leads to extraordinary loyalty.
  5. Display concern. The economy has affected everyone. Clients are no exception. Rather than browbeating and threatening for payment, consider working with your customers.  When you stay in touch with customers, they will let you know if they are struggling. Rather than lose the business, after all you can’t get blood from a stone, offer ways to help them, even if it means forgiving part of the bill. This has gone a long way for me. And, goes back to tip number one, I’m not saying to just give value, be value. Showing that you want their company to succeed is a valuable service and message to send.

Five simple strategies to provide extraordinary customer service that leads to customer service.

In closing, here are some wise words from Jeffrey Gitomer:

  Customer satisfaction is worthless.Customer loyalty is priceless.

Attitude – Leads to a Field of Dreams

Laura Novakowski  -  Jun 27, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Cosner heard a voice whisper – “If you build it, they will come.”

More than a decade ago I was sitting in one of our numerous corporate meetings rehashing cutbacks, shrinking reimbursement and quality challenges and my mind started to wander.  “Why does every meeting have to be this way?” heart and soul seem to be shouting.  Suddenly, I heard a voice  whisper – build CASTLES – “Create Attitudes and Strategies Tapping Limitless Energy for Success.” 

Grabbing a napkin on the table in front of me – I scribbled these words down and passed it over to a colleague and dear friend.  She smiled indulgently and asked “So?” I answered without hesitation, “This is the focus on my company.”

Leaving the meeting, I gathered up reports, notes and my napkin.  Back in the office, I filled and tossed papers, somehow the napkin made it into my top drawer.  Moving up in the organization, I now was much more focused on working with building attitudes for success.  Sometimes it happened, sometimes it didn’t.  A great organization just not the place for me.

Several years and countless meetings later, I left that organization and opened my own business.  My vision and  focus were on creating those attitudes and strategies tapping limitless energy for success.  I just wanted to build CASTLES.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with a family and friends that supported positive thinking.  The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale has been one of the mainstays of my library.  My company’s name – Positive Power Strategies, Inc. is a constant affirmation of using a positive mental attitude.

The secret for me is in the belief that every person, every business, every community is an opportunity to build CASTLES.  With each client and company that I am engaged, I have the opportunity to discover wonderful creativity and opportunities that can be tapped leading to limitless energy and success. Together we discover tools and techniques that translate into action and extraordinary results.  I have the honor and privilege to share obstacles and opportunities, dreams and goals with so many people.  People whom given the time, tools and assistance with clarifying their vision and discovering their talents have the capacity to build their own amazing CASTLES.

My secret is an attitude that I am  building it and they will come.

Where is your field of dreams?  What would you like to build so that they will come?

Networking

Laura Novakowski  -  Jun 21, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

In an ever changing world, time, money, resources to knowledge are at a premium.  Learning how to build a powerful network is essential to overcome challenges and obstacles or capitalize on opportunities for you to succeed.

Networking is first and foremost about building relationships. Whether we are in a nine-to-five job, an entrepreneur or student – healthy, strong relationships become essential to achieve our dreams and accomplish our goals.

In the book Leadership and Self Deception published by the Arbinger Institute, there was a story about a new lawyer who was assigned to a huge project with a large team.  Life events caused him to him to disrupt his life and move.  When he arrived to work with the new project, most of the team was located on the 25th floor. He, however arriving later, was located on the 21st floor.  Feeling a little put out, he moved into his office and decided to dig in.  If he worked really hard someone was sure to notice. The project moved along. He missed lunches with the team because he didn’t travel to the 25th floor (free lunches were provided for the team daily and there was a team understanding that everyone was invited). Changes were made in the project, but because this young lawyer was isolated (mostly self imposed),  he didn’t incorporate changes, causing him to look ill prepared and his reports to be substandard. Another time, he was “chewed out” for being hard to find, although he was in his office working.   If he would have taken the time network internally, he would have avoided a lot of grief and anguish.

A young woman moved far from home. She wanted to learn a new industry and put her talents to good use. She had identified where she wanted to live and she moved. Jobs were limited. Her temporary job was over, but she decided to stay rather than move back home.  She worked six part time jobs, one of them in a restaurant.  One evening she was talking to one of the customers who shared with her that his company was looking to fill a new position. The more he talked, the more he described a person with her exact qualifications. When he asked, “Do you know anyone?”  Her response, “That sounds like me.” Within weeks she was interviewed at the corporate office and was hired for the job.  She “networked” her way into her “dream job.”

Relationships are imperative to our success. Limiting our contacts and our experiences greatly hampers our growth. Conversely, putting ourselves out there greatly influences our ability to capitalize on our talents and potential and get what we really, really want out of life. Networking is one key to opening many doors.  Network!

The Power of Strategy – Design a Masterpiece

Laura Novakowski  -  May 30, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

“What do you want to achieve or avoid?  The answers to this question are objectives. How will you go about achieving your desired results? The answer to this you can call strategy.”

William E. Rothschild

William E. Rothschild is a former executive from General Electric. In his role as Corporate Strategist, he created the first “market driven Corporate Strategy.”  Using this approach, according to Rothschild, GE for the last two decades has consistently had been described as having “the best inventors, the best strategic planners, and the best results.”

Whether we are planning a trip to the market, a vacation, a day at work…, we are always has to quote Stephen Covey “an end in mind.”  Now that “end” may be to fill the refrigerator, plan for vacation, deliver the product or service. While that certainly gives us some kind of results, are they the best results? Are you exhilarated with the results you’re getting? Can you see the value of identifying the results you want and then filling in the picture, rather than the other way around?

One of the greatest strategists of all times was Michelangelo. He depicts a highly focused professional who valued quality and achieved amazing results. When Michelangelo worked, he clearly used strategic thinking and planning.  When asked how he could carve such beautiful statues, his reply was, “it’s already in there.” He saw the results prior to even lifting his tools to work.   He wasn’t just banging away at some granite to up with such great masterpieces as Moses, David or the Pieta, he used purpose, thought and planning.

Let’s imagine this great artist’s process. First, he saw the granite.  He considered form, structure, faults and strengths. Slowly a vision and mission came to mind and Michelangelo could start planning his approach to achieve his results.   Next, he determined what was critical to creating his product.  What tools did he required? Where would he do the work? Who might assist him (moving granite might take some help)? What would it cost in time, money and energy? Yet, he still had not raised a chisel, for if he did, I’m sure that would have altered his results.

After he thought about his overall strategy, vision, mission and critical results, he next set goals.  Goals that were results focused,  motivating and achievable. He knew exactly what he wanted and then he started his action plan – the hair, the eyes, the nose, the beard…  All predetermined actions which embraced his values of beauty and perfection. Michelangelo envisioned beauty, integrity, passion, courage, commitment to high standards with incredible details. The results – a masterpiece!

The people, in my experience that are the most successful, the most energized, the most fulfilled, are the people who know their personal and professional vision. Why not strive for a masterpiece in your life? At the end of everyday, how powerful it can be see everyone generate a wonderful piece of art, a rewarding service or an outstanding, quality product. Engage a strategy that will help you to see and then design your masterpieces too!

Focus on Your Strengths

Laura Novakowski  -  May 22, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Dr. Donald O. Clifton, a graduate student in the mid 1950’s, started to look at the “hyper focus on deficits and disease” and wondered “What would happen if we actually studied what is right with people?” This question stimulated some profound research with Gallup that resulted in the late 1990’s created an assessment called Clifton’s Strengths Finder. This instrument has been used by millions of people to discover and develop their talents.

Clifton’s studies showed that “people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are SIX times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than THREE times as likely to report having and excellent quality of life in general.” (Source: StrengthsFinder 2.0) This research is profoundly impacting levels of engagement personally and professionally around the globe.

Consider this Strength Finders formula for success:

 

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