What Are You Thankful For?

What are you thankful for?  As we lead up to the last month of the year, it can be easy for us to get swamped with emails, distracted with technology, and busy trying to keep our heads above water.  You often hear people remind themselves, “If I can just get to the Christmas break, everything will be fine.”

In the US, Thanksgiving is a holiday that allows many people to have a mini break and catch their breath before the last push for the year end.  It is a very unique holiday which is often spent with family and friends sharing around a large meal together. Originally Thanksgiving was created as a holiday for the Pilgrims to give thanks for surviving another year (mostly due to the help of the native people at the time, but that is a different story).  There is something about being thankful and grateful that can provide a sense of peace.

When people are truly grateful their energy shifts.  It is almost as if they become more content with their place in the world (and the world around them).  More importantly, I believe that these people become more attractive to others and can inspire others to be more than they thought was possible.

I recently had breakfast with two friends of mine that I had not seen in a few months.  As we shared a meal together and talked about our work (and home) lives something special happened.  We started going above and beyond the obvious. We were not stuck in the small issues and distractions that come up every day.  As we shared ideas that inspired each other. After the breakfast meeting I noticed more spring in my step and I was thankful for the time we spent together, it had brightened my day (and the follow up text from them that showed how grateful they were let me know if was reciprocated).

What would happen if we were more thankful for the experiences, lessons learnt from the people around us?  If we spent the time sharing a meal with someone where we had a deep conversation that helped both of us gain valuable insights to want to make a positive difference in the world.

There are a number of ways that you can take action to be thankful:

  1. Staff.  With the lead up to the crazy activity before Christmas, take the time to show staff that you are grateful for their efforts.  Shout them to a morning tea, take them to a lunch, give them a dinner voucher or movie tickets to allow them to have some time with people that they’re grateful for.  Do this before the Christmas function to let them know it is important (and not just the typical Christmas gesture).
  2. Clients.  Let your clients know that they are important and that you are thankful for them.  Do not just do the typical Christmas Cards that are printed and impersonal. Do something that is personal that lets them know you appreciate them.  This can be something as simple as giving them a copy of a book that you believe they would be interested in or something that has meaning to them (like their favourite chocolate).
  3. Loved Ones.  Before the Christmas madness sets in, take the time to let your loved ones know that you are grateful for them in your life.  Give them the hug for no reason and hold onto them a little longer than normal, whisper in their ear that you are thankful that they are in your lives.

Take a moment to write down the names of 3 people that you are going to demonstrate that you are thankful for.  It can be a client, staff member or loved one. Do something to let them know they are important to you and you are grateful.  Remember it is the little things and gestures that people remember and appreciate. And if we can get them to pass it on, we can create a positive impact much larger than ourselves.

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The More You Give – The More You Get

The More You Give – The More You Get

I live on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and as it is now spring, the beaches are open and I had my first day of surf life-saving patrol.  This involves getting the rescue equipment ready and in position to be used if a swimmer gets into trouble in one of the many ocean rips that are found across South Curl Curl beach.

I was fortunate to have both my daughters also assisting me on patrol (don’t let them know it, but they are probably faster swimmers than me!).  As we were watching the surf and having a chat I realised that I was really enjoying the time together. It was a sunny Sunday and we were doing something together.  More importantly, I think when people give themselves to others, something magical happens.  It is as if the universe gives you a moment of peace and happiness because you are putting others ahead of yourself.  Some cultures call this Kharma whilst others call it ‘Paying it Forward’.

When was the last time you did something to give?  Or took the time to put someone that you care about or a complete stranger ahead of yourself?  With all the uncertainty, fear and ‘busyness’ in the world right now I reckon we could use just a little bit more of a connection between people.  Being of service to others is one great way to do this.

In saying that, if you would like to attend a wonderful event that is all about giving I would like to invite you to attend the Hands Across the Water Night of Celebration in Sydney (or Auckland if that is closer!).  It is a great evening that is full of giving, good food and entertainment.  Click here to book your ticket (or table).  If you can’t make it you can also make a donation, or give your time or your expertise.

Remember the more you give – the more you get!

Did You Make Fathers Day Breakfast?

Our children’s school has a wonderful tradition every year of the kids and helpers making breakfast the Friday before Father’s (or Mother’s Day).  

Yes, it meant getting up a little earlier to get the kids to the school by 7.30am however it was well worth it.  As they made a little presentation I looked around and noticed how close the fathers and their sons were to one another.  Many of them had a hand on their shoulder demonstrating their love, what a great experience.

It made me wonder if we are committing to the important things in our lives or are we getting too busy with work and life.  There were fathers, grandfathers and special father figures that were there spending time together.  It would have been so easy to skip this morning fathers day breakfast with the common excuses of workload or not planning ahead.

So what are you not taking time to do?  What should you be doing to let the important people in your life know that you care and appreciate them?  It could be a family member, a distant relative, a co-worker or a friend.  By taking a few minutes to connect and share time with them you are helping make a positive difference.  Sharing a meal together, going for a walk or a bike ride, or just picking up the phone to let them know you were thinking about them.  Simple gestures can make a big impact.

If you are overloaded at work and you are looking for strategies to help you, pick up a copy of my new book. Leadership Hacks:  Clever shortcuts to boost your impact and results. It is the smart leader’s guide to getting more done in less time. If you have a copy and enjoyed the strategies can you go onto Amazon and give me a positive review.  To purchase a copy, please click here.

Stay True to Your Path


Action Speak Louder than Words

We have all heard this saying before so it is nothing new.  What I am always surprised to notice is how easy it is for leaders to forget about it.

I remember attending a team meeting where the Manager was going through the results of the last quarter with his sales team.  They had a brilliant quarter and they had smashed their targets by almost 15%.  When the Manager talked about the latest targets he just said a good job to everyone for the effort and then moved onto the next quarter’s targets and the need for his people to go out there and “work harder.”  

I watched as his people’s body language just sank.  You could feel the energy leave the room and the motivation of the group drop to a new low.  Rather than doing something about it, the Manager just continued on talking through his meeting agenda.  When the meeting was finished his staff just walked out of the room demotivated.

He completely missed the point.  Rather than recognising his people and building this positive energy up to keep them motivated his actions took the typical approach and demotivated his people—regardless of what he said.

So how do you make sure that you don’t miss the point?  

Make sure that you select the right way to communicate and deliver your message—by what you say and what you do. Take the time to connect with people and read their energy.  Finally, make sure that what you are saying (and asking others to do) is in alignment with what you are doing and demonstrating.

A close friend of mine, Alan Parker is one of the most talented facilitators in the country.  He has organised Michael Grinder, one of the worlds leading experts on nonverbal communication and influence and is running a series of 1 day and multi-day workshops in both Sydney and Melbourne starting from next week.  

click here to find out more.

In closing, I am very happy to announce that my book Leadership Hacks:  Clever shortcuts to boost your impact and results will be in bookstores across Australia from 1 August.  My goal is to get it to best seller list and I need your help! To purchase a copy, please click here.

Are you an Old School Leader?

I recently was working with a client discussing an issue that they were having with internal politics inside their organisation.  When described what was occurring it was very clear that a number of the Senior Leaders were playing the “old school” game of trying to keep information from others.  When the client analysed why they were doing this they realised that these leaders were brought up in the age of the 1980’s & 1990’s and have the belief if you are a Manager you need to keep ideas and communication close to your chest and not share it.

This was one approach that a Manager could get away with during the 1980’s & 1990’s because the pace of business and communication was also ‘old school.’  We did not have the real-time Internet, email, social media and SMS that allows people to share information and take action faster.

In our conversation, I asked which leaders she admired.  Without having to think she replied, “the leaders that inspire, include and challenge me to perform at a higher level than I even think I can.”  This is a common response that I receive from many people.  They want to be supported, challenged, stretched and mentored by their leaders so they can achieve and succeed at a higher level.  The issue is that we still have too many “old school” leaders that are playing an analog game in a digital world.  This is resulting in many organisations losing their effectiveness, along with their great staff and eventually losing their market share, or for others their existence.
How Not to Get Stuck as an Old School Leader:

  1. Ask Questions to Understand. Rather than assuming that you know everything and keeping information to yourself, take the time to ask lots of questions.  Do this to understand the different viewpoints, concerns, challenges, and successes of your people.    Often I have found that a leader just taking the time to ask the opinion of their people, the relationship gets stronger because they show that they care and value their perspective.
  2. Keep An Open Mind & Keep Learning.  I remember working with a very successful multimillionaire businessman that was in his 70’s.  Whilst I was facilitating a group of other very successful leaders I noticed he continually took out a small notebook and was writing things down.  During one of the breaks, I asked him how he was finding the session that I was leading.  “Great”  he responded and he showed me all of the notes he had taken from the session that I was running.  Although he was toward the end of his career and very successful already, he was continually learning.
  3. Mentor & Stretch Your People. Many leaders do not take the time to mentor their staff.  They often use the excuse of being “too busy.”  The leaders that truly inspire and motivate their people are the ones that take the time to check in and mentor in 1:1 situations.  Look for opportunities to share insights and wisdom and ask questions that stretch or challenge how your people view a situation.  Make sure that you stretch them in a way that is supportive, not putting them down like an “old school” leader would to make themselves feel superior.

In this age of disruption, businesses can’t afford to have “old school” leaders.  The pace of change, competition, technological shifts and staff expectations all demand more of a leader.  Make the choice to step up, be the leader that others admire, respect and would walk over cut glass for.