Category Archives: Goals

Skills 360 – Top 10 Words for Business 2

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Hello and welcome back to the Skills 360 podcast. I’m you’re host, Tim Simmons, and today we’re going to continue our look at the 10 key characteristics of the successful business leader. And just like last time, we’re going to match these qualities to useful words or phrases that you can use in your everyday work life.

To begin, I want you to imagine you’re called to an emergency meeting to talk about a crisis. Like there’s a big project to finish and you’re short-staffed. One person says “oh no, this is never going to get done.” Another person says “This happens all the time and it drives me nuts.” But this is not what the good business leader says. The good business leader starts by saying “how about…” As in: “how about bringing staff over from another department for a couple of weeks.” And what does this show? It shows that you are solution-minded. When problems arise, and problems always arise, you can’t moan and complain. You have to think of solutions.

Being solution-minded is related to another quality of a good businessperson: optimism. A great man once said “if you plant potatoes, don’t be surprised if you get potatoes.” Now, you might not be in the farming business, but what this means is that if you think and talk negatively, you get negative results. But if you think and talk positively, then you get positive results. And the key expression here is “I believe.” So when your colleague says “is this going to work?” You say “Yes. I believe it will work.” Others might not believe. They may be filled with doubt and pessimism. But optimism will see you over many hurdles that will force the pessimist to give up.

Of course, thinking positively means keeping your eye on the prize, even when the prize isn’t right in front of you. A wise business leader can see that prize miles away. He says, “in the future…” to help people overcome the present. This is what we call “vision,” or the ability to imagine what success looks like down the road. In fact, how can you know which road to take if you don’t even know what the ultimate destination is? Well, we ask the people with vision, the people who say “in the future…”

Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about overcoming problems, and how optimism, vision and being solution-minded can help us do that. But there are a couple of other qualities that you may need. One of them is the ability to say “no.” Not “maybe”, or “maybe not”, or “let’s think about that”, or “well, I’m not sure.” I mean just a plain and direct “no.” Sometimes people come up with bad ideas, ideas that clearly won’t get you to where you need to go. And while sometimes you need to be diplomatic about things, at other times you need decisiveness. And that means saying “no” when you think “no”.

The road to success can be bumpy, as we all know. And if you ask successful entrepreneurs and business leaders how they got where they are, they will have a lot of different answers. And they’ll show the qualities we’ve mentioned in different amounts. Jack might be more diplomatic than Helen. But Helen might be more visionary than Jack. However, there is one quality that absolutely every successful business person displays. And this quality relates to a phrase that these people think and use all the time. That phrase is “yes, we can.” And what it shows is determination. You can’t be on the fence about success. You have to be all-in and 100% determined to make it. And every organization is led by people like this, who can persuade everyone through the strength of their determination that “yes, we can.”

So, can you? Do you have what it takes to be a successful business leader? Are you solution-minded, optimistic, visionary, decisive, and determined?

That’s all for today. So long. And see you again soon.

Skills 360 – Staying Positive (Part 1)

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[0:11] Happy New Year to everyone and welcome back to Skills 360. I’m your host Tim Simmons and today we’re going to talk about staying positive.

[0:24] When you look ahead at the year to come, what do you see? Do you see great things for yourself, for your business, or for your career? Or do you see doom and gloom, trouble in the workplace, and a global economic mess?

[0:43] Well, I hope you focus on all the positives, even if the negatives exist. And what I want to do is to help you focus on these good things, because positive thinking can help us get where we want to go.

[1:01] So what do I mean by positive thinking? Let me start by saying that it’s not the same as optimism. Being optimistic means believing that everything is going to work out great. But positive thinking is more than that. It’s a mindset, or a way of looking at the world and what you do. It’s a belief in possibility, solutions to problems, and the big picture.

[1:35] The opposite of positive thinking is, of course, negative thinking. Negative thinking means focusing on problems, obstacles, and difficulties. And most of those problems are external. We blame coworkers, the economy, our boss, the competition, a lack of money… And what’s the result of all this? Limits. We limit ourselves and what we do. We think we can’t do things before we even try. And that’s no way to succeed.

[2:19] Okay, so how do we think positively? First of all, we need to look at problems, mistakes, and failures as normal. Imagine you bomb a big job interview. A negative thinker will be bummed out by the fact that he didn’t get the job.

[2:43] A positive thinker will learn from the experience. He will analyze what he did and figure out how to do it better next time. And he’ll also think about what he did well, and try to repeat or improve on those successes. This means focusing on the big picture. That one job interview is not the end of the world. It’s a bump along your career path. There are many more opportunities out there, and probably many better jobs.

[3:25] One trick to positive thinking is to imagine how you’ll think back on things that are happening now. You know from experience that the passing of time brings a fresh perspective. There are bad things that happened last year that you can probably laugh about now. You understand what was a big deal and what was not. Try to do that in the present.

[3:57] Positive thinking often means separating the past and the future. A negative thinker will focus on the past, especially past failures. But the past can’t be changed. It’s done and dusted. The future, however, is yet to be written. And that’s where the positive thinker will focus his attention. How do I do this better next time?

[4:30] Learning is important, and we can see the power of positive thinking when it comes to problem-solving. The negative thinker looks at problems as end points. He says “we can’t do this.” The positive thinker understands that there is a solution to every problem. He says “how can we solve this?” And if you believe there is a way to do something, then there is a way to do something.

[5:06] Positive thinking is a mental habit. It takes practice. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to focus on the future and on possibility. Sometimes it’s hard to learn from our failures or see the big picture.

[5:26] But if you can do it, there are some great payoffs. You’ll have greater confidence and a better chance of success. And there’s a lot of research to show that positive thinking actually makes us healthier. And what’s the net result of these effects? Satisfaction, happiness, and a better quality of life. And who doesn’t want that?

[5:55] We’ve been talking about how to think positively, but there’s another important technique here. And that is the way we act and maintaining a positive attitude toward other people. Tune in next time to hear all about that.

[6:15] That’s all for today. So long. And see you again soon.

360 – Achieving Your Goals (Part 2)

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Hi everyone. I’m Tim Simmons and you’re listening to Business Skills 360. Glad you could join me today for the second part in our look at “achieving your goals.” Today I’m going to talk about how to maintain your focus and motivation while you work toward achieving your goals.

Let me start off with a quote from the well-known business guru Robert Allen. Allen said: “The future you see is the future you get.” What he is talking about is visualization, which is necessary for achieving goals. You have to visualize yourself or your organization accomplishing whatever it is you’ve set out to. This is what many professional athletes do before a big competition… they walk through the match and imagine themselves winning. Let me repeat it for you: “The future you see is the future you get.”

This is one way of helping you maintain motivation, but there are others. One other way is through a system of rewards. Of course, when you finally reach your goal there is a great payoff. That could be a sense of accomplishment, greater profits, better working relationships… whatever your goal is related to. But that great payoff may not be enough to sustain you, especially when you’re working toward long-term goals. Remember how I mentioned in the last episode that you need to establish milestones or benchmarks along the way? Now, what you need to do is to attach rewards to those milestones. What kind of rewards? Well, that depends on the type of goal. If it’s a personal goal, you could reward yourself with something fun, like a night out, or by buying something you really want. If it’s an organizational goal, then maybe you need to reward all the people involved. For example, you could throw a party or give bonuses. Those rewards and incentives will help everyone stay on track and give them something real to look forward to.

Now, visualization and a system of rewards both help people remember that they’ve set goals. The mistake that many people and organizations make is to set goals and then promptly forget about them. That’s wrong. You and your employees or colleagues should be keeping your goals in mind whenever you do something. You need to remind yourself or your people of goals. This could mean writing them down, posting them on the staff room wall, or having regular updates.

In an organizational setting, goals may have their own communication plans. If you have set goals that depend on the work of other people, those people should know about it. For example, imagine you are a regional sales manager and decide that you want to increase sales by 15% in the next quarter. Who are you going to tell? Well, the salespeople, of course. You need to let them know that there is a clear, or smart, goal in place and that you want them to work together to achieve it. Then you need to check in on their progress, update the entire team, and remind them what they’re shooting for.

So, do all of these strategies guarantee success? Are these tactics foolproof? Of course not. I’m telling you right now that there will be bumps along the way. You will experience setbacks, and there will be days when the goal appears farther away than the day before. This is normal. A common mistake is to give up on a goal when mistakes are made or problems occur. You need to see these setbacks as opportunities to refocus. Look at what happened. Figure out the reason for the setback, and then you will have improved your chance of success. Failure is not falling down, failure is staying down.

Great. Remember that achieving your goals is a process, not an event. It takes time, energy, motivation, and the ability to deal with adversity. It doesn’t happen all at once. But if you set good goals, manage them well, find the right time and resources, and maintain motivation and momentum, you’ll get there.

That’s all for now. If you’d like to learn more or test yourself on today’s lesson, check out the website. You’ll find vocabulary explanations, discussion questions, and a quiz. Thanks for listening, and good luck with your goals!

360 – Achieving Your Goals (Part 1)

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Hi everyone. I’m Tim Simmons and you’re listening to Business Skills 360. Glad you could join me today for the first part of our series on “achieving your goals.” We’re going to kick off it with a look at setting SMART goals and some tips for managing your goals.

Now, when I talk about goals, I’m talking about any kind of goal. It could be a personal goal, like improving your sales pitch, or an organizational goal, like expanding successfully into new territory. The basics are the same. (So the advice I’m going to share with you applies to goals of any size or scope.)

Okay, now achieving your goals always begins with setting good goals. But what exactly does a good goal look like? Well, you might have heard people talk about SMART goals. In this case, the word SMART is a mnemonic device. Each of those letters stands for something. The “S” is for specific. A goal like “I want to be a better salesman” is not specific. But “I want to improve my gross sales” is. “M” stands for measurable. Think about that phrase “A better salesman.” Can you measure that? No, you can’t. But you can measure gross sales. Next, goals should be attainable. Of course, you need to be ambitious, but you shouldn’t set goals that are clearly out of reach. In our salesman’s case, perhaps “improve my gross sales by 10%” is reasonable. Okay, the “R” in SMART means relevant. That is, is the goal aligned with the person or organization’s mission statement? Is it a worthwhile goal? And finally, goals must be time-sensitive. If we don’t attach some kind of timeline to our goal, then we may lose focus. “Sometime in the future” is not a very inspiring timeline. “Within this financial quarter” is. So, let’s see if we’ve managed to put together a SMART goal here… our hypothetical salesman’s goal is “I want to improve my gross sales by 10% within this financial quarter.” Very nice. It’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive. And because it is all of those things, our salesman has a better chance of success.

Okay, so you’ve created a smart goal, now the question is how are you going to manage that goal? First off, you need to make it a priority. Chances are that you or your organization is working toward several different goals. Sometimes those goals compete for precious time or resources. So if you can’t give the goal what it needs, then really, what hope does it have of being achieved? Setting aside the time to work toward your goal is key. So is good delegation, if the goal is something that depends on the work of others. In this sense, a goal is like a project. In fact, some companies rely on goal-management software to make sure they stay on track.

And staying on track can be tough, especially if the goal is a long-term one. When the desired outcome is in the distant future, people and groups can become discouraged or forget altogether what they are working toward. That’s why goal management also involves breaking a goal into concrete steps. Sometimes people call these smaller steps “objectives.” Instead of expecting people or ourselves to maintain motivation for something far off, we set milestones along the way. Then we can spread the sense of accomplishment out over the duration of the process.

Does that make sense? You see, many people and organizations like to make goals but have the terrible habit of abandoning them. And if you give up on your goals regularly, for whatever reason, what’s the point in making them? Doing this will create a feeling or culture of disappointment and failure. And that is not healthy.

So remember, making smart goals and managing them well are critical. But that’s not all there is to achieving goals. You also need to understand the importance of communicating and remembering goals, maintaining motivation, establishing rewards, and dealing with slip-ups. But we’ll save that for next week. If you’d like to learn more or test yourself on today’s lesson, check out the website. You’ll find vocabulary explanations, discussion questions, and a quiz. Thanks for listening, and see you next week.