Building Rock-Solid Plans – 5 Tips for Business from the Military
Effective planning helps you adapt to real-world events. These tips will help you with building rock-solid plans that stand up when reality gets in the way.

Building Rock-Solid Plans – 5 Tips for Business from the Military

General Dwight Eisenhower said, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”. No matter how effort we put into a plan, we almost always have to modify it when we execute. Sometimes we have to throw it out entirely. A mentor of mine said it even more simply. “You’ve gotta have a plan before you can deviate from it”. There’s no way to plan for every possible outcome, but effective planning can help you adapt to real-world events. These 5 tips will help you with building rock-solid plans that stand up when reality gets in the way.

In the military, we use the Deliberate planning process to create plans for military operations. The advice I’m going to give you today comes from the Concept Planning phase of this process. There’s a lot more to military planning, so please don’t think this is the whole process. It’s just a taste for you with some nuggets to help you with your planning. I’m not going to go into detail because it’s not important for you to follow this process exactly. This is just some advice that can be pulled from military planning to make your planning a little more robust. Your company probably has a plan format, but including these elements in your plan will make it stronger.

Building Rock-Solid Plans Tip #1 – Analyze the Mission and Situation

This is really just a very formal term for what it is you’re trying to accomplish. We’ve talked about the 5W’s (Who, What, Where, When, Why) in other posts. I didn’t just make those up, it comes from my military planning experience. Be as specific as possible with Who, What, When, Where and Why. This will make it easier for the people executing the plan to understand your expectations. Make sure to include any constraints that your boss or other stakeholders have imposed on the plan. This includes the enemy, the environment and all kinds of other factors. In business, hopefully, you don’t have enemies, but you may want to assess your competition if that’s appropriate. At the very least, this is where you look at all of the outside forces that may influence the outcome of your plan and start to think about how you can mitigate them.

Building Rock-Solid Plans Tip #2 – Define the End State

It’s important to clearly define the outcome you want your plan to achieve. You can think about this in terms of “How will you know when the plan is done?” Try to make this as quantifiable and measurable as possible. In flight testing, we wrote test plans that showed how many data points we needed to complete the test. The plan usually had a minimum number that we absolutely had to hit and then some goals above that if there was still time or money left in the budget. We knew that we could stop after the minimum, as long as we had enough data to make an educated decision about the test.

Building Rock-Solid Plans Tip #3 – Define Your Intent

For any planning effort to be successful we need to communicate our vision of the desired end state. In the military, this is called Commander’s Intent. This translates pretty well to business, although I don’t recommend that you call this commander’s intent. Come up with some other term that gets the idea across to your team. We talked about making that end state as specific as we can. We want to take it one step further by providing a little more info to help our team plan. This is where you want to talk about the priorities for your team to follow, as well as areas you are willing to accept risk.

Building Rock-Solid Plans Tip #4 – Think About Logistics

In the military, this traditionally refers to moving people, equipment, assets etc. That may or may not be appropriate for your project, but it’s always good to map out how people or things are going to get from A to B. Don’t forget to include your data and information flows. A lot of projects get derailed because planners assumed lines of communication were in place that didn’t actually exist. Include how you’re going to develop new information flows or modify existing ones for your plan to succeed.

Building Rock-Solid Plans Tip #5 – Include Branches and Sequels

In military planning, branches and sequels are very specific terms about completely separate plans that start upon a specific set of conditions coming true. I don’t want you to get too wrapped up on the definitions, just apply the concept in your plan. Think about elements in your plan, that if they happen a certain way, might allow other plans to go forward. And it doesn’t have to be positive. There could be a situation where if your plan runs into a wall, that it kicks off an entirely different plan.

The military also has Crisis Action Planning which is basically the same process, but faster. And in the military, we also have a saying,  “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” Going back to our Eisenhower quote, your plan may not be perfect and will almost certainly need to be modified once reality hits it, but good planning will help you make those modifications go as smoothly as possible.

Remember, this is not the actual military planning process just some helpful nuggets to make your plans a little more robust. If you want to learn more about military planning, Joint Publication 5-0 is a good place to start. It’s a big document so I recommend starting with these tips and our checklist that you can download first. Then, if you’re looking for more, check out Joint Pub 5-0.

Finding your own leadership style is much more effective in the long run than just adopting one from a book or another leader.

Finding Your Own Leadership Style

You could fill a library with all of the books about leadership styles and why each is the best. I’ve seen a lot of them come and go and they all have pros and cons. The leaders I respect most have developed their own unique style, rather than adopting someone else’s. When we try to adopt a leadership style that doesn’t fit who we are, we get that queasy feeling and second guess ourselves. Taking on a style that’s incongruent with our personality leads to inconsistent decision making and additional stress. These tips will help with finding your own leadership style for today and the leader you want to be in the future. To learn more about leadership styles, download our Leadership Style Guide and Worksheet.

Finding Your Own Leadership Style Tip #1 – Know Your Values

Values are our own guiding principles for life. We get them over our lifetime from parents, teachers, leaders, and others who have influenced us. In addition to our personal values, our companies and organizations have values. They may be stated or unstated. Sometimes the values of an organization are unstated, which makes it difficult to promote those values. An even more extreme case is when there is a set of published values, but the leadership doesn’t practice them.  To develop your leadership style, it’s important to understand your personal values and how they mesh with the organization’s values. Try this short exercise to determine your values.

Finding Your Own Leadership Style Tip #2 – Determine Key Leadership Traits

Traits are parts of your nature that allow you to align your actions with your core values. They’re things like honesty, commitment, decisiveness or even humor. To live our lives according to our values, we must have certain traits. As we’ve mentioned before, if our traits and actions don’t align with our core values we have internal conflict and conflict with others. We second guess ourselves and get that feeling in our gut something is wrong. Traits are not just things that you’re born with, you can grow and develop them, but it takes time and conscious effort. Think about building traits like trying to build a new habit. Think about the leaders you admire and what leadership traits they have. What traits do you think you need to be a successful leader? What are you strong at, where do you need work on them?

Finding Your Own Leadership Style Tip #3 – Determine Key Leadership Skills

This is the most nuts and bolts part of your leadership style. What skills do you need to get your mission done? Do you have the skills you need to develop your team into future leaders? What skills do you already have? Are there any key skills you feel like you need to develop? Consider soft skills as well as technical skills. The technical skills that got you this leadership position may not be the same skills you need to effectively lead your team.

Finding Your Own Leadership Style Tip #4 – Know Your Personal Communication Style

Important to understand your own communication style. Do you talk more than you listen? Learn to listen, it’s hard, SUPER hard for me and it’s still something I have to consciously work on. Do you get all your thoughts together first and then speak? Or do you think out loud fostering discussion to get to the best idea. One isn’t better than the other but it’s important to know. I tend to think out loud. If I’m not careful it can lead to conflicting messages to the rest of my team. At the end of a meeting or conversation, I summarize the main points and the direction I want the team to go in.

Finding Your Own Leadership Style Tip #5 – Know Your Priorities

What are your priorities for yourself and your team? Accomplishing your mission is almost certainly number one, but what’s next? Is it developing your team members into future leaders? Maybe efficiency on your team is important to you? Developing camaraderie on your team might be one of your priorities. There’s no right answer to what your priorities should be, although your boss might weigh in with their opinion. What’s important is that you have consciously thought about them and communicated them clearly to your team. As time goes by your priorities may shift. This isn’t something you want to do on a daily basis, but is good to revisit every few months or year. If events warrant a shift, give it some thought, make a decision and communicate the new priorities to your team.

I hope I’ve convinced you that finding your own leadership style is much more effective than just adopting one from a book or another leader. That’s not to say those leadership styles are bad. You should definitely look at the pros and cons of each and include the best aspects that work for you. In the downloadable guide, there is a list of pros and cons for each style as well as some areas for you to write down the different aspects of your style. Don’t worry if you don’t figure it all out in one sitting. Finding your leadership style takes time and self-reflection. Just keep asking yourself the questions “Who am I?” and “What kind of leader do I want to be?” and it will come to you!

Giving feedback is hard, a lot of us have an aversion to it. These 5 tips for giving great employee feedback can make the conversation a pleasant one.

Giving Great Employee Feedback – 5 Tips for a Positive Experience

Giving feedback is hard, a lot of us have an aversion to it. Partly because we have had some bad experiences getting feedback ourselves, partly because we don’t like to give other bad news and almost certainly because we want people to like us. Giving feedback doesn’t have to be unpleasant. We can take a few steps to make a conscious effort to give effective feedback. These 5 tips for giving great employee feedback can make the conversation a pleasant one.

Giving Great Employee Feedback Tip #1 – Focus on Improvement, Not Criticism

When we’re giving feedback, we want to build people up, not tear them down. The Sandwich Method is a really effective technique. Start the feedback with something positive, follow it with the area that needs improvement, then end with something positive. This structure helps keep our feedback focused on improvement, not just the deficiencies. There are times when the sandwich method isn’t always appropriate. Usually, there is at least one positive things to build on when giving feedback.

Giving Great Employee Feedback Tip #2 – Choose the Right Venue

Where we give feedback is just as important as the feedback we give. It’s important to make a conscious decision whether to do it in public or private. If you have to talk about an individual’s areas of improvement,  your office might be the best choice. Recognizing a team member for excellent performance usually works best in front of the rest of the team. In the Air Force, we had a general rule of praise in public, punish in private. This works pretty well in most situations, but there are times that something negative might have to be discussed publicly. In a safety or security situation, it may be important to get critical information out quickly to the whole team in public to stabilize the situation.

Giving Great Employee Feedback Tip #3 – Focus on Expectations

Did the employee meet, exceed or fall short of expectations? This step gives you a chance to see if you communicated the expectation clearly. Realizing the expectation wasn’t clear creates a whole different conversation. You may have different opinions on how clearly the expectation was communicated, but that can be part of the discussion as well. If the expectation is set clearly and communicated, now it’s a discussion of how well the expectation was met. Here’s a chance to build on the positive achievements and then talk about how to address what fell short.

Giving Great Employee Feedback Tip #4 – Don’t Make it Personal

Address the behavior, not the individual. Although we might feel personally hurt or disrespected, we don’t want to attack them personally. Don’t tie their value as a human being to their performance. When we insult people or judge them, they tune out the important feedback we have for them. Even in cases where someone has done something egregiously bad, if we’re trying to improve them, insults and judgment don’t help. Stick to the behavior and not the person.

Giving Great Employee Feedback Tip #5 – Have a Plan Going Forward

What will we take going forward to improve? If this was good news, what will we do to continue excellent performance and help it spread throughout the team? Don’t feel like you need to build this plan all by yourself. You can use this as an opportunity for leadership development. Give the team member an opportunity to develop their own improvement plan. This will keep them invested in their own growth and also help them get a better idea of the big picture.

I presented these 5 tips like you’re a manager giving feedback to one of your team members, but they apply just as well if you have to give feedback to a peer or even your boss. Telling your boss that their idea may not be the best approach is difficult, but these 5 tips can give you a structure to do it diplomatically. Apply these tips next time you have to give someone feedback on a task or project and see if that makes the experience more positive for both of you.

Last week we talked about the 10 steps it takes to do all the homework for pitching your ideas. All that work doesn’t matter unless we communicate our ideas effectively though.

Pitching Your Ideas – 5 Tips to Get Everyone on Board

It takes a lot of preparation to make a convincing pitch, but the presentation is just as important. Last week we talked about the 10 steps it takes to do all the homework for pitching your ideas. All that work doesn’t matter unless we communicate our ideas effectively though. If you missed last week’s post, you can jump to it here also get the pitch worksheet that will guide you through the steps. This week’s tips help you communicate all your hard work effectively to decision makers.

Pitching Your Ideas Tip #1 – Know Your Audience

Right off the bat, you’ve got to understand who you are pitching to. What is their background? Are they an expert in this field? Will you have to do a lot of explaining of detailed technical pieces? What is their real interest in your idea? Have you pitched ideas to them before and what have you learned from it? Does the decision maker like a bottom line up front? Or maybe they like to be led through each piece of info and build to a conclusion? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, try doing a little research about your audience before presenting.

Pitching Your Ideas Tip #2 – Be Clear About Your Purpose

I found this really effective when I was in the Air Force, especially when briefing senior leaders. I would usually open with, “Sir, I’m Lt Col Jason LeDuc. I’m here to brief you today on this topic. I’ll recommend courses of action and ask you to decide which one to pursue.” I saw many presentations where the decision maker wasn’t clear on the purpose. The speaker didn’t make it clear they needed a decision. Many times it turned out that the briefing was just informational. Leaders are usually pretty busy people and their time is valuable. We want to make pitches when we really need them to make a decision and should avoid basic information presentations unless we’re asked for it.

Pitching Your Ideas Tip #3 – Start With the Problem

This is where all that prep work you did using the worksheet from last week pays off. Present your clearly defined problem, including the why, who, what, when, etc. Make sure that the decision maker understands the problem. Look for some recognition in their words and body language that they also believe it is a problem that needs to be solved.

Pitching Your Ideas Tip #4 – Build Your Case

Now it’s time to build the case for your solution. This can be highly variable and depends on your audience. After you state the problem, you could present background information, move into the potential solutions and make a recommendation. Or you could talk about the people who this is a problem for and how they are impacted, views of what a successful solution would look like and make some recommendations. There’s a huge number of possibilities. You’ll have to decide for yourself which approach to take, but have a plan going in. One piece of practical advice I can give is to support your assertions with evidence. If you say that your solution is going to cost $1 million, you should have some reasonable, thorough estimates that you can show in your pitch that back up that number.

Pitching Your Ideas Tip #5 – Make The Ask

All too often I’ve seen someone give a really great convincing presentation and then just kind of wrap up without really clearly asking for that decision they need. I’ve even done it myself. It’s so important to make that ask and get that decision before the decision maker leaves the room. You don’t want to put any undue pressure on them, but clearly make the ask. They may not be ready to make a decision at that point. If that’s the case you have a new ask to make. Find out what questions the decision maker needs to be answered and when they want to reschedule. Be prepared to make that secondary ask if you need to.

So there are 5 tips for making a really great pitch presentation. While these are general, they’ll help to get you in the right mindset for making a pitch. Iff you’ve done the prep work we talked about in last week’s post, you should have all the material you need to make your case. You just need to decide how to build the story that will get your message across most effectively. I know you can do it!

How you approach convincing others affects your success. These tips will show you how to write a convincing pitch no matter who you're pitching to.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch

As we grow as leaders we start to have bigger and better ideas that we want to get done. We can’t get these things done all by ourselves. We need build support for our ideas and that’s not always easy. How you approach convincing others to join you will affect your success. In the Air Force, I had to make a lot of pitches to leaders who weren’t always on board.  I learned the hard way how important it is to prepare for your pitch. These 10 tips will show you how to write a convincing pitch no matter who you’re pitching to. If you want to follow along with the tips in the video, you can get our Pitch Worksheet to help write your amazing pitch with us!

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #1 – Recognize People Don’t Like Change

Human beings don’t like change. To accept change they need to be persuaded and reassured. Keep this thought in mind as you work through the rest of the steps. Understanding the resistance others may have to your idea will help you address their concerns and questions before they arise. You can make your pitch successful by addressing these concerns and questions in your pitch before they come up.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #2 – Identify the problem

To convince others that your idea is good, present the problem in really clear terms. Not everyone may think that this is a problem. You may have to start your pitch by convincing them that the problem even exists. Don’t think of the problem just in terms of what, talk about it in terms of who has the problem, where these people are, why it’s a problem for them and when this problem becomes big enough to demand a solution. In some cases, your boss may have handed you the problem, but it still helps to run it through these questions to clearly define it.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #3 – Brainstorm Potential Solutions

Chances are you already have a solution in mind but now that you have really clearly defined your problem, is that solution really the best option? Will others agree that it is the best option or will they have their own ideas? think about alternate solutions that also might solve the problem. Rank them objectively on how well they solve the problem. You may find that your initial idea is still the best or maybe not. Don’t be afraid to break down each idea and take the best elements of each to create new solutions.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #4 – Identify the Impacts

List the impacts of implementing your solution below. Make sure to include not just what the impact is, but who it will impact, when it will occur, etc. Include both positive and negative impacts. Show the payoff that these impacts will bring to solving the problem.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #5 – Identify Any Risks

List the risks that will come along with this solution along with what steps can be taken to mitigate the risks. Areas to consider are safety risks, security risks, financial risks, etc. Any area of significant uncertainty should be addressed as well as how it can be minimized along with the associated costs.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #6 – Address the Views of Others

Before you make your pitch, actively solicit the views of others that your proposal may affect. Find supporters of your idea and ask what they love about it. Also look for objectors and see if there are parts of your solution that can be modified to bring them on board. Decision makers often take these views into account as they consider your pitch.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #7 – Brainstorm Unintended Consequences

Make a list of all of the things that could go wrong that you haven’t anticipated. This can be difficult and requires some creativity so this is another step that it’s helpful to find a team to help you. Once you have your list, determine if there are steps you can take in your solution that would eliminate or reduce some of these unintended effects.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #8 – Identify Resources You Need

The cost associated with a new idea is often what makes or breaks it. Identify all of the resources you need to implement your solution including money, people and assets. This is a great opportunity to sharpen your pencil on the solution and find a way to do it at the minimum cost. Showing a lot of value for low cost will set your pitch apart!

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #9 – Show the Path to Implementation

Identify the action steps it will take to bring your solution to reality. Highlight important milestones that require extra attention as well as any decision points you will use to determine if you are on the right track. Show how simultaneous tasks will come together to achieve the overall solution along with how long each task will take.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #10 – Offer Options

The decision maker that you are pitching to may not be ready or able to buy off on your proposed solution right away. Having multiple options that still solve the problem is a good practice. Look at some of the other solutions you brainstormed earlier and apply the rest of the steps to determine if you have other viable options to consider.

So there are your 10 tips for writing a convincing pitch. This is really the preparation phase of creating a fully formed idea to pitch to others. Next week we’ll talk about how to build that presentation so that you can make all of this hard prep work pay off by convincing others that you have a great idea!

All leaders hope they're inspiring others to go do great things, but how do we know? I remind myself of these three tips every day to set a good example.

Inspiring Others – 3 Tips to Set a Great Example

All leaders hope they’re inspiring others to go do great things, but how do we know? When I was in the Air Force, I was always fascinated by leaders who inspired us to do great things. These leaders weren’t inspiring just because they had great words to say or were great speakers. They were leaders who took action and set a great example for everyone around them. My personal leadership style is based on these leaders and the example they set. I always hope that I’m setting a good example for others. I remind myself of these three tips every day to set a good example.

Inspiring Others Tip #1 – Remember People Are Watching

Tip number one for setting a good example is to remember that people are always watching. No matter what we say or what we do there’s almost always someone there to observe it. Unless you live in a cave all by yourself, people are always looking at your words and actions. As young ROTC cadets, our leaders told us, “If you don’t want to it to show up on the front page of the New York Times, don’t do it or say it”. That’s still good advice today. You could cross out “New York Times” and replace it with social media. Remember there’s always someone watching and deciding if you’re setting a good example that they want to emulate.

Inspiring Others Tip #2 – Make Sure Words and Actions Match

One of the best pieces of advice for inspiring others is to make sure that your words and actions match. People watch to see if you do what you say you’re going to do. Do you follow through and take action on the things you say you will do? It’s not just about doing the things you say you’re going to do. It’s also about the example you set with your team. If tolerance and respecting others are important to you, do you set the example? Do you interrupt people or let them finish their thoughts? Are you open to others’ ideas or do you dismiss every idea that comes from someone else? When our words and actions match we set a good example for everyone around us.

Inspiring Others Tip #3 – Share Failures and Mistakes

None of us are perfect and we won’t set a great example by pretending we are. We can try to hide our failures, however, people see through it very quickly. It’s  important to share your mistakes and your failures and what you learned from them. This is key to setting an example that it’s ok to make mistakes and learn from them. We always learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. If you want to inspire others, gather stories where you didn’t do such a great job but learned from it. Share how you turned that failure into success and see how your team responds.

I hope these tips help you inspire your team. They sound simple but take a bit of conscious thought and effort. Remind yourself of these tips every day and see if that makes a difference in inspiring your team to go above and beyond.

Traits can be built and they're a lot harder to develop in ourselves than a skill. Building perseverance is no different.

Building Perseverance – 5 Tips to Help You Stick With It

We hear all through our lives that we’ve got to have the perseverance to meet our goals. It’s a fact, but not all of us have perseverance as an inborn, inherent trait. At a workshop yesterday I was reminded that traits like perseverance can be developed. Traits can be built and they’re a lot harder to develop in ourselves than a skill. Building perseverance is no different. I didn’t always have the perseverance I had today. Several times in life I had to build perseverance, in school, in the Air Force and even starting my own business. These tips come from my own personal experience building perseverance. I hope they’ll help you to with your perseverance if that’s something you’re struggling with.

Building Perseverance Tip #1 – Break Things Up

We’ve probably all heard that if you’re trying to get to the gym, lay out your clothes the night before. As soon as you get up, all you’ve got to do is throw those clothes on. Put your running shoes by the door. Put those shoes on. Walk out the front door. Do all these little steps in a row because they’re easy to do.Make it easy on yourself to do each little step every single time. Soon you’re already at the gym and it’s easier to work out because you’re already there. You’ll find that instead of trying to persevere through one big step, little steps makes life a lot easier. This starts to develop that perseverance muscle inside you.

Building Perseverance Tip #2 – Do a Little More Every Day

If I haven’t been running for a while and want to increase my distance, I just a little further every day. I typically run on a track indoors because it gets hot here in Las Vegas this summer it’s not great to run outside here. When I’m trying to get more distance I just do one more lap every day. I don’t get really ambitious try to do another mile today or two. If I did 15 laps yesterday, I’m going to do 16 laps today. Try increasing by small increments every day to build that perseverance muscle. Soon you’ll be able to power through even longer distances or bigger goals.

Building Perseverance Tip #3 – Give Yourself Credit

It’s important to give yourself credit for taking the steps, even if you don’t fully succeed at today’s goal. There are days I don’t complete my workout because I’m tired, sore or don’t feel well. This happened to me just the other day. I still give myself credit for trying and take steps to do better the next day. When you’re working on a goal, give yourself credit for taking the steps. Recognize if you don’t reach your goal and decide what steps you need to take to improve. These small bits of recognition will help your perseverance.

Building Perseverance Tip #4 – Keep Track of What Works

Just like with any goal, keep track of what works and what doesn’t. This isn’t so much about tracking your progress for your goal This is more about learning if the steps you’re taking are moving you in the right direction. If you’re doing cold calls for your business and not getting many leads, maybe it’s time to try something new. Keep track of how many cold calls you’re making, how many are converting into sales or even advancing a relationship. This will tell you how effective your techniques are. You don’t want to do is keep pursuing a technique that isn’t working. Keep an open mind about other techniques and track of which techniques are advancing you towards your goals and which ones are holding you back. Sticking with the ones that are holding you back is just perseverance in the wrong direction.

Building Perseverance Tip #5 – Start Early!

Start early if you’re going to do something where you feel like you’re going to need a lot of perseverance to succeed. If you’re starting something that you’ve never done before, don’t do at the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to learn, persevere, and stick with it. Make those small steps and go a little further every day. Leave yourself the time to let those steps work. If you feel like you’re under the gun, you’re may have an outcome with lower quality than you wanted and you’re going to you’re going to take a hit to your perseverance muscle instead of developing it.

There are your five tips for building perseverance. Traits like perseverance definitely can be learned and developed but it’s really hard much harder than developing skill. Give these five tips a try, develop those small steps, go a little further every day and give yourself plenty of time. Try these five tips and I think you’ll find that you’ll have a much stronger perseverance muscle and it will be much easier to hang in there when it gets tough.

As we grow as leaders we start to set goals for ourselves and our team. These tips will get you smashing through goals so you can go on to bigger things.

Smashing Through Goals – 4 Tips to Achieve Yours

As we grow as leaders we start to set goals for ourselves and for our team. This can be a bit of a learning experience. Once we start setting the goals, we don’t have anyone checking up on us to follow through. After several years in the Air Force, I gained more responsibility and had more people working for me. I was the one setting the goals but no one was really chasing me to achieve them. When I was starting my own business, I had a goal to write a business plan. No one else was looking for it, was just something I thought was a good idea. I had to figure out a way to get that business plan done without anyone else following up with me. These tips will get you smashing through goals so you can go on to bigger things.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #1 – Well Written Goals

This is a bit of a review, but you need well-written goals. When I talk with people about setting their goals, I make sure they are clear, measurable and achievable. I won’t go into all the details of what that means. I’ve got another post on setting goals where you can more information on what clear, measurable and achievable are all about. There are other methods for writing goals like SMART, but I like the idea of clear, measurable and achievable. It’s simple and easy to remember. With this method, you’ll quickly build tools and systems to track your goals which are critical to achieving them.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #2 – Build Tools & Systems

Tools and systems are key to sticking to the actions you need to take to achieve your goal. When I was writing my business plan, it never would have gotten done without a system.  I made a contract with myself that each night after dinner I would work for an hour on it. Using that system, I actually knocked it out in just a couple of weeks just working an hour a night. There were a lot of nights that I would say “I’m really onto something here. I’m going to work for a little longer.” That was a system that worked great for me. You need to figure out what works for you. If you’ve tried a system for a couple of weeks and it’s not working, don’t be afraid to reevaluate. Maybe throw that system out and try something new to help you get to your goals.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #3 – Track Your Progress

Everyone talks about this, everyone hears about it, we all know we need to do it. It’s one of the things that often doesn’t get done. Tracking your goals doesn’t need to be elaborate. It just needs to be appropriate for what you’re trying to do. In the video, I show you how I’m tracking my social media audience goals this year. You want to make tracking easy. If you can find there’s a data out there already, like social media platform analytics, use it. I’m just bringing that data together to create a snapshot to see how I’m doing. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel if someone’s already collecting the data. When using other people’s data, it probably will not answer your questions directly. You may have to pull in different sources of data and make some assumptions to apply it to your goals.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #4 – Assess and Adjust

Tracking your progress is useless unless you use the data and conclusions to assess your progress and adjust. Each month I assess if I achieved my social media goals. If I didn’t, I’ll decide what changes to make to meet those goals next month. When it comes to adjusting, you may decide you need to adjust your goal because it was too lofty. That’s a reasonable approach, but consider adjusting your actions in the future to reach that goal. That can be a little bit of an iterative process. As you continue to assess, take some different actions or increase the intensity on your actions.

So there are your four tips for smashing through goals. Remember it’s important to make sure that your goals are well written, that clear, measurable and achievable. Build tools and systems that help you follow through on those goals. Track your progress to see if the tools and systems you’ve built are working. Look for trends the data, assess and adjust. Instead of changing or throwing out your goal, adjust where you’re putting your effort instead of making radical changes to your goals or your life plan.

So many of us are hoping for that opportunity that will supercharge our lives and careers, but business opportunities aren’t usually just handed to us.

Business Opportunities – 4 Tips to Make Them Happen for You

So many of us are hoping for that opportunity that will supercharge our lives and careers. If we can just get one shot, we’ll be able to achieve our goals. That’s not how opportunities really work though. Business opportunities or opportunities in other aspects of our lives aren’t usually just handed to us. We often have to recognize opportunities in their infancy and grow them before we can take advantage of them. Taking small steps to pursue an opportunity gives far better results than waiting for something to fall into our lap.

Business Opportunities Tip #1 – Keep Your Eyes Open

Maybe the biggest challenge with taking advantage of opportunities is recognizing that they’re out there. Opportunities are happening every day but they might be passing right by us because we’re not looking. Most really great opportunities start out as a tiny observation of something that could be done a little better. They start to grow inside us until we recognize that there’s something great there. One of the big challenges with opportunities is that they don’t always look like a benefit at first. That new job in a new city or 6-month overseas trip can be a little intimidating. That nervousness is a good sign that seizing the day can bring fulfillment and satisfaction.

Business Opportunities Tip #2 – Do the Homework

Before jumping in, do some research. Find out about the fundamentals of the industry if you don’t already know them. Identify who this opportunity benefits and who you might be in competition with. Who are the decision makers and influencers? Who might be willing to help you because they think you have a great idea, but they just don’t have the time to do it themselves? If you’re going to a new place, research the layout, history, and culture. If you’re taking a job in a new field, brush up on the basics that go along with it.

Business Opportunities Tip #3 – Follow Through

This is probably where most of us will miss out on an opportunity. We don’t always follow through on the actions we need to take. We might not call that person or submit the application for the program that would improve our skills. There have been times where I didn’t do the follow through and missed an opportunity. Most of the time, this is because we are afraid. The future that may come from the new opportunity might be scary. It might force us to step outside of our comfort zone. While these are very real feelings, we need to recognize that fear is what keeps us in the status quo. If we give into this fear, we can miss out on those opportunities that we worked so hard to create. Taking small steps to follow through is critical once we see a new opportunity.

Business Opportunities Tip #4 – Enjoy the Ride

By now we all know that nothing ever goes exactly how we plan. It’s frustrating, but it also lets the world surprise us in ways we never thought possible. Opportunities morph and change and almost never turn out to be what we thought they would be in the beginning. Trying to control an opportunity and force it into what we think it should be leads to limited results. We get better results by flowing with the opportunity and appreciating the new ideas and skills we are learning. Appreciating the journey that comes from a new opportunity will be far more satisfying and fulfilling than the outcome itself.

If you’re waiting for that great opportunity to come your way, try these four tips to see if you can make your own. Keep your eyes open for those tiny little chances to solve a problem or take on a new role. Once you see that tiny spark, fan it into a flame by doing some research and following up. Most importantly, enjoy the experience as you try something new. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly as you hoped, chances are this one opportunity will open several other doors for you to take a chance on too!

When I was in the Air Force, taking care of myself and healthy living didn't always happen. Those are the first things that I let go when I got busy or traveling a lot.

Healthy Living Tips – 4 Tips to be a Healthy Leader

Summer is coming and lots of fun activities are coming up. It’s more important than ever that we take care of ourselves. When I was in the Air Force, taking care of myself and healthy living didn’t always happen. Those are the first things that I let go when I got busy or traveling a lot. Financial advisors say you’ve got to pay yourself first. We’ve got to do that with our health as well. These four areas to focus on will help improve your health, reduce your stress and keep your energy level high. Follow these tips and you’ll have the energy for fun summer activities while still getting the job done.

Healthy Living Tip #1 – Get Enough Sleep

We’re almost all guilty of not getting enough sleep. It’s important to do what works for you.Many people advocate eight hours of sleep. Others say that you only need four. Try this exercise. Go to bed and don’t set an alarm, just sleep until you wake up. See how much sleep you need to feel refreshed, and adjust your schedule around that. Also, it’s not just about your sleep schedule. You’ve got to find the right times of day to take a break based on that rhythm. I like to take breaks in the late morning, and mid-afternoon about three o’clock. That’s where I usually schedule workout time or other things where I don’t have to be focused on one task. Try to find those natural break points in your day where you need to get a break.

Healthy Living Tip #2 – Drink Enough Water

No matter how much water you’re drinking is probably not enough.  I live in Las Vegas and I don’t think I can ever push enough water through my system. Water is really important many of the body functions we take for granted. If you feel fatigued or get headaches while you’re working, you’re probably not getting enough water. Before you start popping a lot of pain relievers, make sure you’re hydrated and see if that solves that problem. It’s really important, no matter where you live, that we all get enough water this summer.

Healthy Living Tip #3 – Get Enough Exercise

This sounds really obvious. You’ve got to get some exercise to get your body working efficiently. Exercise is going to start help you use your energy much more efficiently. You may find that instead of needing nine or ten hours of sleep, you may be able to use less. You may find that your body changes and those natural rhythms change if you’re getting enough exercise. Try to mix up cardio and strength training based on your fitness goals. Talk to a trainer or someone who understands exercise physiology to help set those goals. Regular exercise will help you reach peak efficiency when you’re working through really tough times or if you have to surge.

Healthy Living Tip #4 – Eat Healthy Food

Eating healthy fuels everything you do. That’s where all your energy comes from. So the sleep, the water, the exercise, all that isn’t going to tie together unless you’re eating healthy. It’s really hard to eat healthy, especially if you travel a lot. I still need tools and systems to eat healthy. I go to the grocery store every Sunday and buy exactly what I need for the week for all my meals. This limits any overeating because I’m out of food by the end of the week. Figure out what your nutritional goals are and build a meal plan around it accordingly. You don’t have to use my method, but if you’re having trouble sticking to a meal plan, give that a try.

There are your four tips for healthy living as a leader. I’ve tried to live them the best I can. I fall down just like everybody else does once in a while, but that’s part of being human. When I wasn’t trying these tips, I wasn’t unhealthy, but I’m much happier now and have more energy. Try to get enough sleep, get enough water, exercise, and eat healthy. Try this for 30 days and see how you feel at the end of it. I bet you’ll feel a lot better and you’ll be able to stick with it for even longer if you do it for 30 days.