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The Importance of Finding That One Thing

This post is somewhat a follow-up to my time management post although with some additional potential varying tactics. They stemmed from my recent reading of the bookThe ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller. If you read my post on Time Management, you know I am a proponent of having three “pillars” or three things I’m going to center things like my business focus around. Mr. Keller says that instead of varying your focus like that, your real approach should be focusing on just one thing. He touches on the popular term “multitasking” which, as many of you probably know, is a fallacy. They have proven, time and time again, that no one can do two things at the same time. You may be able to rapidly cycle between two things very quickly but you cannot do two things simultaneously. They have shown this with texting and driving which is obviously a huge issue in today’s world. It is akin to drinking and driving in terms of its effects on the driver’s behavior. I confess to being guilty of this but only do it on road trips when I am on the highway with not enough cars around to justify utilizing cruise control. You would be amazed at the things I have attempted to do while deploying the cruise control option (especially in my younger years) but those things are probably not appropriate for this type of post and frankly, I’m sure I have some authorities still searching for me because of those violations! But I digress…

Writing Down Your Goals:

To me, the first part of the “one thing” is to write down your goals. A former mentor once told me that “something magical happens when you write down your goals.” Studies have been done that have shown a 39.5% increase in goal achievement if your goals are written down. I have definitely found this to be true and some eerie things have happened as a result of this process (in a good way) but the point I would like to stress is that you need to be specific. One example how my lack of specificity hurt me was when I wrote down my goals in 2012 for my year-end sales results. I had two separate quota “buckets” at the time and I wanted to achieve over 120% of each of them as it would have resulted in a large bonus. I wrote down the number 120% and posted it next to my master bedroom bathroom door where I could not help but focus on it as I walked by multiple times a day. My mistake was not to specify two 120%’s on the paper as while I did achieve over 120% of the combined goal, I did not reach it for each bucket and thereby did not earn the large bonus. BRUTAL! I would encourage you to set goals for each area of your life (family, spiritual, work, physical) and post them somewhere visible (the best place for me is on the inside cover of my wallet where I typically look at least once a day as a reminder) and I believe this causes you to subconsciously develop the steps needed to achieve that end destination. But you may say (as I did) “that is not really one thing; that is multiple things” and while that is true, Gary Keller is speaking more of specific focus areas at specific times of day and to viciously guard those time slots. “Protect your time block” is how he terms it and I have always tried to practice this discipline. It is very easy to intend to guard your time but another it is another thing entirely to actually do things to facilitate. A note on your door, going someplace where no one can bother you and getting up extremely early before anyone else is awake are some of the ways you can help insure you are “protecting your dial time” (as a friend of mine in insurance likes to say). If you do not set goals and/or protect this time, you end up emulating a dialogue between the Chesire Cat and Alice in “Alice in Wonderland .”

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here” asked Alice.

“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to” said the cat.

“I don’t much care where” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go” said the cat.

I have recently surrendered my life to Christ and while this is not intended to be a religious post, I want to provide examples of things I have done to put “the one thing” into practice. Mr. Keller repeats often in his book that the guideline you should utilize when figuring out your one thing is as follows: “What’s the ONE thing I can do in my life that would mean the most to me and the world such by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”. I have tried to deploy this recently and it has helped create great clarity. A recent example occurred during a recent walk my wife and I were on in the park. We always end up in intense discussions about our children and the paths they wish they were on or what we want to put in place from a structure perspective to help them to reach their full potential. This “tactics” end up varying greatly with each discussion and are always multifaceted. It turns into a long list of initiatives needed that don’t end up being fulfilled. During this last walk, I had one of those incandescent moments where I basically came to the conclusion that instead of trying to take all these steps to provide structure for them, we needed to focus on our religious activities and showing them where we were committed to spending our time and efforts. These are doing things like: reading a bible plan every night with my son, my wife and I praying together every night including request to the Lord to show us the path that will allow them to maximize their potential, taking my son to a Christian group one night a week where I help to mentor boys who don’t have father’s in their lives in a group setting, my daughter going to Sunday night children’s small group, us going to church every Saturday night as a family, etc. Instead of trying to do what our parents did (force us onto a path that THEY believed was best for us), we recognize that they are at the point (12 and 15 respectively) that they need to find their own way in the world. Our focus should be setting an example, insuring they spend time in environments where they can be around good people and be immersed in positive words of faith. Now, instead of stressing out with trying to deploy all these different “programs”, we can just focus on our “one thing” and let the chips fall in the way God intended.

Hopefully, I have not given too much away about the book but highly encourage you taking the time to read it. Gary Keller was a high-powered executive who, like many of us, created laundry lists of things to accomplish and ended up burning himself out. With this change to dramatically narrowing his focus, his life underwent a paradigm shift and he found himself to be far more productive than he ever thought possible. It is highly readable text and I promise you will pull some valuable items out of it. In closing, I would like to reference a scene (that Keller begins with) from the immortal Jack Palance in the move City Slickers. Enjoy and please let me know if you get as much out of this book as I did!

 

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An Experts Tips On How To Give A Presentation With Confidence

Presenting and public speaking is a phobia for a lot of people. I believe the biggest fear is the fear of getting off track and “freezing” up. My answer to this is to prepare, prepare, prepare and when you think you’ve prepared enough, prepare some more. When I used to deliver sales training, I would practice in front of the mirror, practice in front of my wife and even practice on a video camera. I would prepare to the point that even when I got interrupted, I would be able to pick back up my train of thought seamlessly.

You have probably heard the adage; “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you just told them”. You want to make your message simple with minimal points, so the potency of what you are trying to get across is not diminished. A very basic format (that you probably learned in elementary school) is to have the opening paragraph (tell them what you’re going to tell them ), make three points in three different paragraphs (tell three different points) and then a closing paragraph that summarizes everything (tell them what you just told them). The most important thing is to make transitions between each of the middle three paragraphs. Things like “my first point are” and “secondarily” and “to summarize”, etc. Make sure you are connecting each of the three points, or your presentation will come off disjointed.

Do you ever eat sushi? In this country, I see many Americans eat sushi in ways that were not necessarily intended. Most of the time I see people put soy sauce into the small serving cup and add the wasabi and some ginger. Then they use chopsticks to pick up the sushi rolls, dip them in the soy sauce/wasabi/ginger concoction and (usually very clumsily) attempt to get the roll (that they probably just squished) into their mouths. First off, sushi was designed to be eaten with your hands so chopsticks are not supposed to be needed. Secondarily, the ginger is not supposed to be utilized on the roll or in the soy sauce; it is supposed to be used to cleanse your palate before you try a different sushi roll. The reason I bring this up is that I think the mistake many presenters make is that they don’t deploy something at the beginning of the speech to “cleanse the palate” or break your audience out of their doldrums. People are immersed in their day doing things like thinking about an e-mail, needing to return a VM or maybe worried about an upcoming meeting with their boss. You want to shake them out of that and get them to focus in on your message. That’s why many begin their talks with a joke (which also gets your audience on your side), but I used to like to tell a story that was a little more sobering. In Steven Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” he tells a story of being on a train when a man comes aboard, and his kids are raising cain. Covey goes to scold the man as the kids are causing a real issue amongst the passengers when he realizes the guy had just lost his wife. Because I am passionate about Covey, this story and its meaning (perceptions can be dangerous), I have told it many times and feel I can tell it very well with a lot of drama. After I get done telling it (with lots of dramatic pauses thrown in for effect) I usually have everyone in the room eyes on me and dead (no pun intended) silence. This allows me to proceed to my message ensuring that I have everyone’s undivided attention. A little morbid I know, but hey, it works!

 

Some Other Quick-Hit Points For Success:

-Vary your pace, put in pauses after dramatic points and change your decibel level often to keep your audience off balance.
-Look around the room and look at different individuals for 2-3 seconds apiece. If you are nervous making eye contact, look at the tip of their noses.
-A lot of formal instruction on presenting says not to walk around the room. I like to do that to draw far-reaching parts of the audience into the message (maybe too much) and also wake up people who may be sleeping in the back!
-Ask questions periodically to ensure audience engagement. Also, ask questions to specific audience members; the advantage of this is it causes even greater engagement as the natural conclusion becomes “Uh-oh, I might be next!”. If I am in a particularly devious mood, sometimes I will call on someone who I know is not paying attention. That way, when they flub the answer and have to admit they were not paying attention, it causes embarrassment and gets everyone else to lock in. Mean I know but hey, you’ve got to find your fun where you can!
-Use anecdotes and examples to “prove” or underscore the points you are making in each of your three middle paragraphs. You have to add credibility to your points by saying things like “this is just like another situation…” or “as stated in last month’s Harvard Business Review”, etc.
-Free up your hands! Allow your hands to help you talk and make your points. This sounds normal, but I see people all the time have their hands in their pockets or with a death grip on a podium. One time, early in my career, I was giving a presentation with one of my hands in my pocket yet I was still making points with my hand in my pocket! It looked very strange and obviously gave the impression (correctly) that I was nervous.
-Use multimedia; people have different learning styles, and you don’t know the learning styles the individuals in your audience might have. The three broad learning styles are auditory, visual and experiential. Since you don’t know what their learning styles are, ensure each of your points has an element of each to assure the best chance of your message resonating.
-Before you have to give a presentation, go somewhere where you can be alone and do the following: start at your feet and flex them for a couple of seconds, then go to your calves to flex them for a couple of seconds, then go to your thighs and so on for your entire body. This will help you relax. Remember: do this privately! You will look like a psycho if people can see you while you are attempting to relax and then you will get more nervous!

In short, have fun! In long, practice, practice and practice some more.

Hope all of these tips help and would love to hear some stories about how you were able to utilize some of these techniques to help you present more effectively!