Hard Decisions?–The Secret to Making the Right Decision Every Time!

When it comes to making big choices in business and in life, decision making can often be a torturous process filled with stress, worry, confusion, and fear.  When we’re trying to figure out what to do about something that’s going to greatly impact ourselves or others, it can be a really, really exhausting and difficult process.

In this video, I talk to my good friend, acclaimed entrepreneurial and business authority Sandi Stuart, about how to cut through grueling decision-making confusion and figure out the undisputed right decision every time.  I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this idea!  It’s one of those rare things that come along in life that are just so simple but SO surprisingly powerful!

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t in the world of big business where Sandi learned the secret to stellar decision-making. She learned this invaluable key when she and her husband were faced with a very difficult personal decision, and it turned out that executing one extremely simple process allowed them to rid themselves of the fear of regret and make the right decision in an instant.

Watch the video now to learn this simple secret to decision making that will help put an end to all the worrying and allow you to make powerfully positive decisions that will position you for success.

What are your thoughts about this decision making tactic?  Were you as surprised as I was to learn how simple it is?  Please share your feedback in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

How to Combat the Fear of Failure

We all deal with the fear of failure from time to time.  I know I certainly do.  It’s a part of life and it can sometimes cripple us to the point where we’re so afraid of failing at something that we’d rather not even try.  So, what can we do about it?  How can we move past it in order to achieve our greatest goals, dreams, and desires?

Well, the answer is simple.  We stop worrying about whether or not we are going to fail because–guess what?–we very well may and that’s okay!  It’s inevitable; we are all going to be successful at some things and we’re going to fail at other things.  The key is to refuse to define ourselves by our failures and commit instead to both learning from our failures and defining ourselves by our successes.

In this video, I tell a personal story about a time when I was virtually frozen in fear because I was so preoccupied with the prospect of failure, and I explain how it helped me to realize the key to combatting the fear of failure.  The fact is, if we always try, we can eventually win.  But if we let fear keep us from even trying, we will fail without a doubt.

Is there something that you currently want to accomplish, big or small, but haven’t attempted to start because you’re afraid of failing?  If so, make a list of one action you can take each day (no matter how small) for the next week which will help get the ball rolling and move you toward accomplishing what you want to do.  Then, when the week is over, repeat the process of mapping out and completing small daily actions every coming week–before you know it, you will have made real progress!

If you have a story about a time fear of failure stopped you from doing something, or a time you overcame your fear of failure and accomplished something important to you, please share it in the comment forum below–I’d love to hear from you!

Introducing Yourself at Networking Events–Top Tips for Overcoming Anxiety

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If the thought of giving a brief introduction of yourself and your business at networking meetings makes your palms sweat, read on . . .

When participating, even as a guest, in various networking meetings or functions, the fact is that you will be required to introduce yourself sooner or later.  Preparing a script for introducing yourself will improve your results.  One of your scripts should be an overview of what you do.  Other presentations can address various aspects of your product or service.  Here’s the script sequence I recommend:

  • Your name
  • Your business or profession
  • Brief description of your business or profession
  • Benefit statement of one of your products or services
  • Your name again

Your name and your business profession are easy enough.  A brief description and a benefit statement can be separate items,  but more often they are intertwined in your message.  It’s fairly easy to combine your business with the benefits of your product or service.  I suggest telling people what you do, as well as what you are:

“I’m a financial planner and I help people plan for their future” or “I’m an advertising and marketing consultant; I help companies get the most out of their advertising dollar.”  These explanations are more effective than saying, “I do financial planning,” or “I plan advertising campaigns.”

In many situations, you’ll be introducing yourself to only one or two people at a time.  Some networking organizations have all the members stand at each meeting, and in round-robin fashion, give a one-minute overview to the entire group.  If you’re a member of a group like this, it is vitally important to vary your presentations.

Many people who are in networking groups that meet every week have a tendency to say the same old thing, time after time.  From what I’ve seen, many weekly presentations are done weakly.  If you don’t vary your presentations, many people will tune you out when you speak because they’ve already heard your message several times.  Your best bet is to give a brief overview, then concentrate on just one element of your business for the rest of your presentation.

If you prepare your brief introduction using these techniques, you will begin to get much more confident at introducing yourself and, what’s better, you’ll begin to get better networking results.  If you try introducing yourself in this way at your next networking meeting or function,

I’d love to hear how it turns out for you–please come back and share your experience in the comment forum below.  Or, if you’ve already done some things to help you with this issue – please share your tactics with us.  Thanks!

Body Slam!

Business conferences, as a rule, aren’t extraordinarily exciting. They don’t really take your breath away.  The one I attended in Hot Springs, Virginia, in 2006 was no exception.  Mind you, it was interesting – but not much really exciting happened except for one particular evening.   A friend of mine witnessed someone desperately choking at a restaurant.  She calmly and professionally, walked up to the person and swiftly did the Heimlich Maneuver to dislodge the food.  I heard all about the experience from several witnesses who watched in awe, as our mutual friend saved the day.

ChokingBlog

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I vividly remember stopping to think about what I would do if I were alone, had something stuck in my throat and there was no one around to do the Heimlich on me.  At the time, I didn’t know anything about the chair Heimlich which would have made my experience and this story much less dramatic.  But I didn’t know it at the time, and so I sat with my thoughts considering what I might do.

I finally came to the conclusion that I would simply jump as high into the air as I could and slam my body onto the floor to force the air (and the food) out!  There, great.  Another problem solved.  Now, next thing to contemplate.  Seriously, that was about as much time as I thought about the “possible dilemma” which I would probably never face.

Fast forward exactly one month later to May 8th 2006.  I was sitting in my office working from home one afternoon.   It was well after lunch time and I was getting hungry.  I decided to heat up some left-overs from last night’s dinner.  I checked with my son who was way over on the other side of the house to see if he was hungry.  He said, “No,” so I proceeded to microwave the piece of tri-tip beef and some vegetables.

When it was good and hot, I took it into my office and sat at my computer working on whatever project I was working on while I absentmindedly ate my lunch.  The steak was really good, but it had some gristle that made parts of the meal a little difficult to chew.  I took a pretty big bite of meat, chewed it up, and swallowed.  What I didn’t realize, however, was that a tough piece of gristle was attached to the other half of the piece in my mouth I had not yet chewed.  So, when I swallowed the one piece, it pulled the other piece down in on top of the first.  As I’m sure you guessed by now, the steak was well and truly lodged deeply in my throat.

Yikes!  “What do I do,” I thought?  I reached for the phone to dial 911, however, I quickly discovered that when you have something completely stuck in your throat – you CANNOT make a sound.  Nothing, nada, zip, zilch.  You are completely silent!!!  “But wait,” I thought to myself, “I have this all figured out – I thought about this a month ago.  I’ll simply jump as high as I possibly can and slam my body on the floor.  Yea, that’s the ticket – I’ll do that – NOW!”

With that, I stood up, took a big step, launched myself into the air and slammed onto the floor.  Unfortunately, other than a couple of badly bruised ribs, absolutely nothing happened.  At this point, I was getting pretty desperate and feeling a little light-headed, so I quickly stood up, took two or three really big steps and LAUNCHED myself as high as I could into the air.  It was so high it would have made any professional wrestler proud.  It was in fact, a world-class Wrestlemania body slam – right on the floor of my office.

With that, the stuck piece of steak popped out of my throat, but it remained in my mouth.  I then opened my mouth and frantically gasped for a big deep breath.  Luckily, I was able to get a big gulp of air.  Unluckily, the steak was still connected to the rest of the bite by the stringy piece of gristle – it immediately got sucked right back into my windpipe!!! The thought flashed through my mind that this might just have been my very last breath.

I thought I was desperate before – now, however, I was incredibly desperate.  I wasn’t thinking very clearly, and I thought I would run upstairs to get help from my son.  Unfortunately, I managed to get only part of the way there before I could feel myself starting to get light headed and on the verge of passing out.  I saw the stairs and called an audible.  Instead of slamming into the flat surface of the floor, I would slam my body into the stairs while aiming my solar plexus for one of the stair steps.  I took a running start for the stairs and did what had to look like a Three-Stooges-like physical stunt, launching myself into a stair step that I was aiming for.  This time, the piece of steak AND its evil twin both ejected from my mouth in a manner that was reminiscent of the Exorcist.

I sat down on the stair that saved my life and coughed, coughed, and coughed – but more importantly, took long deep breaths of air.  My throat hurt, my head hurt, and I can’t tell you how badly my ribs hurt.  I sat there for no more than a minute when the phone rang.  To this day, I do not know what possessed me to stand up and answer the phone – but I did.   I answered it with the most grizzled, gravely, frog-like voice you could possibly imagine.  “H-e-e-ello,” I rasped.  It was my mother.  She said, “Hi honey, is everything ok?”

Now I have no idea why my mother called.  We spoke often but not every day.  She had no reason whatsoever to call me that afternoon.  But she did call me.  Furthermore, she sounded worried.  She said, “I just had this bad feeling and I had to call you to make sure you were ok.”  “I’m f-i-i-i-ine” I rasped out.   “You don’t sound fine,” she said.  “No, I’m good – just something stuck in my throat is all.  I’m good now.”  I never told my mother what happened that afternoon. 

But I sometimes think back to several moments surrounding this whole episode.  Why did that story about my friend doing the Heimlich give me pause?  What in the world possessed me to think about what I’d do if no one were around and I had something stuck in my throat.  And, how was it that my mother called moments after the episode and wanted to know if I was ok?

All of these are mysteries to my linear thinking, left-brained self.  But I think of them nonetheless. Needless to say, I have a new appreciation for each of the breaths I have left and that’s why I felt compelled to share this story with you today. 

Have you had an experience that has caused you to personally never take another breath for granted?  If so, I’d really like to hear it so, if you don’t mind sharing it, please tell us your story in the comment forum below–thanks!

Public Speaking–5 Ways to Ditch Your Fear for Good

In many surveys over the years, people have ranked the fear of public speaking as worse than the fear of dying!  Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, networking for your business is going to involve public speaking.  You may find yourself giving a sixty-second elevator pitch at a networking meeting, a ten-minute presentation at a chamber function, or a forty-minute educational presentation to a prospect.

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The following 5 strategies are my top tips to help you lose your fear of public speaking and start winning over your audiences with confidence.

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare!  Don’t wing it!  Prepare an outline of what you want to say and practice it.  Use note cards, or type your remarks out on a piece of paper.  (Print with large handwriting or type in a large font–make it ridiculously easy to read so you don’t lose your place in the paragraph.)  Don’t over-prepare though; this can just lead to more anxiety.

2)  Be specific and talk about the things you know best.  At networking meetings, don’t try to teach people everything you do in one short pitch.  Think in terms of teaching the audience something of significance.  Focus on just one or two areas of your business–the topics you feel you understand best.  This will increase your comfort level and reduce stress.

3)  Use handouts, visuals, or PowerPoint slides to support your presentation.  If you’re worried about stage fright, props such as books, slides, handouts, or gadgets will help you keep your mind on your topic, add a special element of interest to your presentation, and give the audience something to concentrate on besides you.  PowerPoint can be a great tool, but it becomes a noticeable crutch if you fall into the trap of reading from the slides.  PowerPoint should support your presentation, not be your presentation.  Read a few of the many books and articles available about how to effectively use PowerPoint.

4) Remember, you’re the expert.  It’s true.  In the eyes of the audience, you are the expert and they want to hear what you have to say.  They’re eager to learn something from you.  If you focus on what you know best, you will feel more confident and be more credible.  Believe in yourself and in your message.

5)  Be creative.  Find a way to communicate that makes you comfortable.  Instead of talking to a group, engage them in conversation; or start with Q & A, and then answer at length.  Don’t be afraid to be different.  Surprise your audience.  Walk around the stage or up into the seats.  People get tired of the same old approach and are invigorated by something unexpected.  Have fun with your message; it will help you turn your nervous energy into positive energy.  The audience will feel it and radiate it back to you, and before you know it, your anxiety is gone.

Here’s the deal . . . you can’t get better at something if you never practice it and the best time to start practicing is now.  So, start this coming week off by looking for opportunities to practice the above tips.  If you’re nervous, start small with your one-minute elevator pitch.  Make it a point to fill the entire minute exactly.  Work up to five-minute and ten-minute talks as you gain confidence.  When you feel ready, look for an opportunity to make a lunchtime educational presentation.  The program chairs of many associations and membership organizations are always on the lookout for speakers.  Position yourself as the expert; enjoy the satisfaction of educating other people.  When you remember to apply the tips in this strategy, we feel confident that it will alleviate much of your speaking anxiety.  One final thought: It’s good to be a little nervous.  Just convert that into positive energy, and you’ll have the audience in the palm of your hand.

I’m really interested in getting some feedback from all of you reading this blog, so please respond in the comment forum below to any or all of the following questions–and/or offer any thoughts related to overcoming the fear of public speaking. Thanks so much!

  • On a scale of 1 — 10,  1 being “not really afraid” and 10 being “more afraid than death,” how afraid would you say you are of public speaking?
  • What mental and physical manifestations of fear and anxiety do you experience when faced with having to speak in public?
  • What tools/strategies/tactics have you personally found to be helpful and effective in managing your fear of public speaking.  Alternately, what tools/strategies/tactics have you found to be useless or ineffective?
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