Category Archives: How To Be Assertive

Slow Things Down and Save Time

Respond rather than react (and save precious time, money and energy)

Slow down to speed things up. Yes, I know – it’s a dichotomy (I had to look it up – a polar opposite, a contrariety) to say you have to slow down to speed things up. Well it’s true.

So often we think we have to decide on the spot; say “yes” or “no” in the moment and know all the answers to the questions we’re asked. Well, we’re actually making things harder for ourselves and harder on ourselves if we believe that to be true. Hitting things back like a tennis ball over the net isn’t a strategy – it’s more like survival and it wears you down.

I’ve learned we think faster than we think. It’s worth saying again to remind us both – we think faster than we think. Our brain processes the question; the decision; the issue in front of us quickly.

What we do is assume that we have to always be thinking on the spot and just because we’re asked a question we have to know the answer; respond straight away or act immediately. Well, we don’t. Even if we do know the answer, we don’t have to commit ourselves straight away. We can buy ourselves time and find subtle ways to make the other person wait – even if it’s for just a few seconds.

Clients say, particularly women, one of the big struggles they have when they’re promoted or as they take on more responsibility is the feeling of fear of having to know all the answers; of “making the right decision on the spot”. Well, “hello”- firstly who does know all the answers? Secondly, who knows what the right decision is? Only time tells us that. We make decisions taking into account what’s going on at the time; the information, insight and instinct we have and then, we wait to find out how it pans out.

It’s liberating – certainly it is for me – to know that you don’t have to know all the answers and you don’t have to do everything or decide everything “now” – even if it would suit others if you did.

People waste so much time, money and energy – our three most precious resources – by rushing into decisions; responding to emails in “shooting from the fingertip” mode; being asked questions and blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.kay white

Clearing up or back-tracking from rushed decisions or responses just slows us down.

Here’s just 3 of the many ways to slow things down to speed things up for yourself when you’re asked a question:

    1. Repeat the question. Say it back to the person in a way that sounds thoughtful (it is) so you and your brain can process it. It also has the added bonus of making sure the person asking the question is actually asking what they want. (This is a great tip for interviews by the way).
    2. Ask the person asking what they think first. You can literally say “hmm, now before I tell you what I think, what do you think?” This is especially powerful for someone working or reporting to you – why not make them do the thinking first?
    3. Ask another question. It sounds so elementary doesn’t it? Rather than answer what you’ve been asked; ask a few more questions about the background to the question to get clearer and, again, to buy you and your brain a few more seconds before – and if – you decide to answer. Pause.

Now that’s something to think about, isn’t it?

As a strategic, savvy businesswoman, give yourself a bit more time and space to plan your reply. You know more than you think you know and sometimes, a few extra seconds to think about it gives you the chance to really show it.

Go off and do something else instead

Stimulate your creative flow with something different

That expression “busy doing something else” is where your ideas and inspiration often comes from. It gives you the sense of being absorbed, concentrating, focused on something so other thoughts are put aside or take a back seat. It’s something to be encouraged, especially when you’re scratching your head looking for the answer to a tricky issue or ticklish situation. Go off and do – or absorb yourself – in something else. It’s often where the answer lies for you.

Sometimes the full-on focus we give to something means we miss some of the subtleties of what’s actually really happening. I hear people saying things like “I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall” or “I can’t stop thinking about ABC” or “I can’t leave it until I’ve sorted it, I’m like a dog with a bone”. Often that’s exactly the problem. Go off. Do something else instead. Leave it.

When you give yourself permission to leave it – and I do mean give yourself permission – because it’s an active, energetic decision (rather than a sign of defeat) – by saying “OK, let’s just park this for now, I’m going to go off and do something else” this is often where the ‘aha’ moment is waiting for you. You know I’m not suggesting you toss and turn inside a question for ages and use up time and energy fretting. Of course not.

Buy yourself some time and take yourself away from the thinking, just for a while. A day. Overnight. A week. You know your deadlines but it’s the action of parking it and staying open to what comes up in your thinking whilst you’re otherwise engage I’m talking about. Let me explain.

Waterskiing. I’ve skied for years and love it – the speed, the sensation, the ‘hey I might fall off’ feeling at times (sometimes, a lot of the time).

What I realise though, is how many similarities and insights there are when you compare improving ‘something else’ with building and expanding your business or your career.

Look and see these 5 quick lessons to learn about business and career success from being busy waterskiing:

  1. Keep flexible and relaxed as much as you can. There are forces at work, which you can’t see, and they’ll help you. You don’t have to force it, go with where you’re being pulled. Stay loose.
  2. Expect there will be bumps in the water and the current can pull you off course but keep your eyes on the water where you’re going. Stop watching and worrying about the bumps all the time; watch the water where you’re going instead.
  3. Let go when you have to. When you decide to – or have to – sometimes it’s best to just let go, have a face full of water for a moment and then get up again and get back on. Hanging on too tightly doesn’t do much for your style or your peace of mind.
  4. Listen to the advice of your mentor/instructor. Other people can often see what you can’t when you’re in action. It might be just a simple tweak and it’s too close to the end of your nose for you to see it. Study and listen for what the experts do and then model it. Make it a style of your own.
  5. Rest up and regroup. Remember it’s about the ride too and it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. Take breaks, limber up and enjoy the scenery along the way.

Ron, our ski instructor, uses a great expression, which is helpful to remember whilst you’re busy doing something else “keep your legs loose, your tush in and reeeelaaaax”.

To enjoy the creative ways your mind works when you’re busy doing something else, ask yourself these 3 quick questions to help you with your decision:

  1. What is it that most concerns me about this decision?
  2. How will I handle that and what skills will I need to bring into the mix to handle this?
  3. What lessons are there for me to use and then share with my colleagues, friends or clients, which could help the situation we’re scratching our heads with?

Interestingly, I sat for 48 hours with a decision on holiday. I knew I needed to land on a decision before moving forward on plans which affect my clients, my team and my lifestyle. Using the exact steps and the waterskiing as a distraction, I stayed loose, kept my tush in and landed on my decision. More about that soon.

Help People Find You!

Do you show up when you’re trying to be heard?

How often do you attend a meeting, an event, a conference and this happens? Someone asks a question or requests some information and they don’t give you, the audience, their details.

When it comes to showing up at a networking event or an internal or external meeting, never underestimate the power of this simple strategy. Say your full name, your company and where you’re from.

Obvious when you read it? Yes. A waste of opportunity when you don’t do it? Definitely yes. Why? Well, here’s why and a key example.

As a woman, it’s something we don’t always feel comfortable with. Owning and expressing exactly who we are, where we’re from and then asking or sharing information in a group. It’s often a case of “let me just rattle off what I want to ask and then keep quiet again”. Well, I’m all for keeping things brief and to the point and, I’m also all for leveraging moments of influence.

MagnetWhen you speak up, when you ask a question or offer information, you have a moment of influence – a moment where yours is the only voice sharing or asking and everyone else is listening. You can assume so anyway.

So, why is it that so few women actually position themselves when they go to speak? I’ve lost count of how many times a really good question was asked and no one had a clue what the woman’s name, title or company was. If the facilitator doesn’t invite the woman to say who she is, then she’s lost a valuable moment for follow up and personal profile.

It often goes like this when the floor is open to questions. Let’s use my name and company as an example, so you can get a sense for what I mean about a moment of influence when you have an opportunity to draw people to you.

  • Hi, I work for ABC Ltd and I want to know …. (no personal information)
  • What’s the main reason why …..(no name or anything, just launching at the question)
  • Hi, I work for ABC Ltd and I want to know …. (no professional value-add) information)

Can you see what I mean? It doesn’t have to be you reading your CV out, It’s about just owning the moment and who you are assertively and clearly, along these lines:

  • Hi, I’m Kay White, Founder of Way Forward Solutions, London
  • Thanks, I’m Kay White, Communication Expert for Women In Business, London
  • I’m Kay White, author of The A to Z of Being Understood, London

Kay White Speaking

Now, when you look at the above you could say ‘Oh my, that’s a lot of information’ or ‘don’t you feel like you’re showing off?’ No. It’s all true and, you know what, it actually really helps both you and the audience lean in more closely and be drawn to your question or comment. You’ve positioned yourself and you own what you’re about. No apology. Facts.

This is why it’s so important and why you can miss out on opportunities and quick-routes to what you want.

3 quick observations I’ve actually experienced myself:

  1. If the question wasn’t fully answered, it gives people a way to find you to get in touch.
  2. If, at the networking afterwards, people want to carry on or talk to you about your question or comment, they can approach you knowing your name and information
  3. Who knows who else is noticing who is asking about what – they can find you to discuss further and, of course, give you what you want.

You tell everyone in the room you’re open to being known and in touch and, if you want even more impact in your moment, stand as you ask the question as well – now you’re really talking!

Practice your pillow talk.

Engage as you explain

It’s so easy to lose your message, your audience, their attention, their trust by using ‘weasel’ words. By using ‘gobbledeegook’ if you will – and it’s everywhere, like an epidemic.

With the pace of information being shared, the cultures which must be crossed and included in our messages, and the turbulent times we’re navigating at the moment, the need to be as clear as possible is more vital than ever.

Think about it for a moment. When did you last say to your partner, as you were either in bed or getting ready for bed “we’re struggling to get our key performance indicators aligned so we can leverage all the strategic opportunities out there”? Well, I put it to you, in general, most partners would cross their eyes, turn over and wonder what language you’re suddenly speaking.

To use a lot of ‘corporate’ lingo, especially in times when people are concerned about what’s really going on, is a recipe for confusion, mistrust and – often – for being ignored. It’s ironic really, people tend to use this sort of language to try to sound more knowledgeable, more ‘clever’ if you will. The opposite happens though. People tune out, think about something else entirely, resent you for confusing them or making them feel ‘dumb’ – or are so busy trying to translate what’s being said they miss your point anyway.

It’s a great way to translate some of the corporate gobbledegook you come across by asking yourself “What would I say to my partner/husband/wife about this?”

Clapping PeepsWhat you’ll find is that you naturally choose other words, more accessible, more everyday words. Try a bit of “Pillow Talk” with your team, with your marketing, when you’re making presentations or proposals.

You’ll be heard more easily and people will trust you and thank you for it.

3 ‘Quick & Dirty’ examples for you:

  1. “we’re struggling to get our key performance indicators aligned so we can leverage all the strategic opportunities out there” becomes “we’ve got to get everyone meeting their targets so we can make the best of what’s happening in the market”
  2. “by the end of the next quarter the upsurge in uptake will maximise our position” becomes “with all these buyers, by the end of December we should be in a great position”
  3. “so to keep optimising the market diffusion we must keep thinking outside of the box to leverage this” becomes “hey, there’s a lot activity in our market, let’s keep our minds open and meet as often as we can to make the most of it”

Sometimes, we all have to use the ‘gobbledeegook’ or the Corporate-sounding name of something or expressions being used around us. It’s a big part of being heard. I worked on a project in my own corporate career called GROPE. Enough said for a confusing, mixed message-style name which no one really understood!

So make sure you talk about it – you know you’re valuable and have value to add – well, talk truly is valuable too. If you choose.

What you can do as well to make sure you’re understood at the same time is to use these 3 simple and subtle expressions to make sure the point gets across and translates the ‘blah’ language into your Pillow Talk:

  1. “and by that I mean….”
  2. “or in other words….”
  3. “but you could also say….”

They’re simple, savvy, subtle and they work.

How to get your emails opened

Grab them by the eyeballs

Which email would you rather open first ‘More Bad News’ or ‘Quick Update on XYZ for You’? What about ‘Tax Time Again’ or ‘Ways to Save You Money’?

Emailing. It’s such a key piece in our day-to-day lives. We fire a quick email response off or “shoot from the fingertip” and it’s so easy to forget that we’re not top of the list for the person receiving it. They, like us, have loads of things clamouring for their attention. So how do we stay on their radar – how do we help them to help us by opening our messages and acting on them?

First off, by grabbing them by the eyeballs and making our email title interesting and compelling.

  • ‘Quick question’ is a great one. If it is a quick question, say it is. Put it in the title.
  • Another one is ‘You’ll know the answer to this one’. People love to know that you think they’ll know and, in general, we all like to help each other.
  • ‘Just found this out’ – if you have, say it in the title. New information is always interesting and if you have some, say so.
  • ‘Only 2 days to go’ ­­– if there’s a time constraint or deadline you’re all working on, put it out there in the title.
  • ‘An opportunity for you’ – again, if it is, say so. You know yourself you’re more likely to open this one than if it was titled ‘Learning and Development Plans’. Blah, blah, blah.

Working with career women showing them how to be more engaging, how to grab and keep attention, this is such a key piece. You may have the hottest news, the greatest opportunity, the most important instruction but if your email is scanned along with the hundreds of others and left until later – or never – then, so what? Some people don’t even put a title in the subject line and that is close to asking to be ignored.

So how do you decide on the title? By stopping for a second and considering what will compel or attract the person on the receiving end of your message. Consider what your reader wants or what they want to avoid.

Email is an amazing tool, so useful, simple and helps us keep in touch, get information across the world in a second. It’s also a great way to really upset and confuse people. The language you use, the layout, the sign off, all these pieces are key to getting your message across in a way that works for you, that helps you to be understood and gets you the response or reaction you want.

The first step is to get your day-to-day emails opened.

Do you show them what you’re made of?

Remember your brilliance so others can reward you for it.

If you’ve ever heard yourself say any of the following, it gives us a sign you’ve forgotten some of the things that you’re really good at or you’ve forgotten some of the key pieces of your career and life journey.

If you ever think these things and then you don’t speak, you’ll know you’re undervaluing yourself or being undervalued or underselling yourself.

  • “I want to be taken more seriously”
  • “I’m often treated like a secretary rather than a director”
  • “I end up undercutting myself – I give people a price for my services or the salary I want and then I undercut myself and backtrack or apologise”

Are you able to hear one or more things you’ve either said or thought in there? I can promise you I’ve heard these phrases so many times in different formats, in different ways and places. I know just like I’m sure you do, that it’s because that person saying those things doesn’t own or express the value, the importance, the difference that their work makes. So, by definition, other people don’t appreciate it, feel how they value it or how valuable it is. how they think about it. It also tells me that they don’t recognise it for themselves. And by definition, they don’t recognise or ‘market’ their worth. Aha.

Now, I never really like to think about marketing myself but, let’s be honest – you do need to be offering yourself and putting yourself forward in the workplace. Showing people what you’re about. So, try this.

If you want to think about it in a marketing sense, think about a four-bedroom house an estate agent is selling and one of the bedrooms is being used as a study. If you’re going to try sell the house, you have to turn that study-style

bedroom into a bedroom again because people will look at your house and value it as a three-bedroom house with a study rather than what it is that you’re truly offering which is a four-bedroom house.

They kind of know it on one level, but one of the bedrooms is a study and they’re not seeing it as a four-bedroom house. They have to see it. And an estate agent said to me, “Never underestimate how people need to be shown that fourth bedroom rather than have to imagine it or be told about it.”

It’s the same with you and me.

Never underestimate or assume people get how special and valuable what you do really is. They have to see it or experience it or have it shown to them. Clearly. Don’t assume they can see it for you. They rarely can.

Show them what you’re made of. You owe it to yourself. Why wouldn’t you maximise the opportunities which are so close sometimes you don’t see them? If you help others see your value, they help guide you towards the opportunities too.

My ex-colleague James saw my gifts more clearly than I did and guided me on to the path to where I am now. He asked if I’d heard of coaching back in 2005 when it was virtually unheard of here in the UK. He said I’d always been approachable, smart-thinking, curious and able to connect with people quickly. He guided me to take that first step to what I’m doing now. Pay attention to what people see for you. It’s often pure gold!

Be More Presumptuous (and get more done and off your plate)

“So, when will be a good time to start that?” “When you’re ready to get going, call me and I’ll help.” “ When will you be emptying the dishwasher?” “When this is ready to go then I’ll do XYZ….”

Can you hear how presumptuous I’m being? How I’m assuming things are going to happen, how I’m asking ‘When’ instead of ‘Have’ and I’m assuming that things will be happening rather than wondering. I’m presuming things which is a very subtle and very effective way of asking for what you want as if it’s already happening.

You’re coming at your requests, questions, enquiries from certainty rather than possibility that that is a very powerful stance to take. It has the effect of by-passing the if something is going to happen and going straight to the place of it happening but without doubt.

Now when I speak about this subject to groups of women at workshops or events, the session is called Be More Presumptuous For Quicker Results and here’s why – it circumnavigates doubt and goes straight for decision.

Let me explain.

As women, we’re often more concerned in people pleasing and being liked than we are with actually implementing. Now you know I’m not saying you ride roughshod over people to get things done, of course not – I’m a true advocate of relationship building and of give and take – what I am saying though is that instead of leaving wiggle room you go straight for the energy of ‘this is happening already’. It makes you more assertive and it’s a natural way of asking for what you want which is always my intention for you to sparkle at work by being true to yourself. And being intentional, certain and committed at the same time.

When I studied NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming – the language of the brain and our way of experiencing the world through the patterns we learn – as it says in the brilliant introductory book NLP for Dummies, NLP enables you to understand what makes you tick, how you think, how you feel, how you make sense of everyday life in the world around you.  How you can also use it to make sense of how others tick, think, feel which is where ‘Presuppositions’ – pre-supposing things as if they’re already happening – is taught as an NLP strategy.

When you presuppose something, when you presume something is already happening and you use your language to convey it and what happens is you start to move that person in their head.

If you consider how you ask for what you want as if it’s already happening and by-pass the doubt, you tell the other person what you want without being too confronting and this is where it’s easier to say yes to you….

Here are some presumptuous questions for you which tell people what you want to have happen as if it’s already happening:

  • “What is the best time for you to deliver this to me on Friday?” the only question is what’s the time on Friday – not will you ie no doubt.
  • When will that opportunity be offered to me?” – not will that opportunity be offered to me, it’s just a question of when.
  • Where do you want me to sign this off when you’ve finished it on Thursday?” – it suggests it will be finished on Thursday and the only question is where do you want me sign it when you have.
  • Who else will you tell about this when you’ve come back from this trip?” – it’s not a question of whether you’ll tell anyone else It’s a question of Who – it assumes you will and only asks who.

You can hear in each of those questions a presumption, can’t you?  They presuppose something’s going to happen. The person imagines it happening before they realise it.

That’s the point. That’s the sparkly, magical piece. You have to imagine it happening too so when you ask questions in this presupposing way, other people have to imagine it happening or having happened too.  Abracadabra.

Slow Things Down

Respond rather than react (and save time, money and energy)

Slow down to speed things up. Yes, I know – it’s a dichotomy (I had to look it up – a polar opposite, a contrariety) to say you have to slow down to speed things up. Well it’s true.

So often we think we have to decide on the spot; say “yes” or “no” in the moment and know all the answers to the questions we’re asked. Well, we’re actually making things harder for ourselves and harder on ourselves if we believe that to be true. Hitting things back like a tennis ball over the net isn’t a strategy – it’s more like survival and it wears you down.

I’ve learned we think faster than we think. It’s worth saying again to remind us both – we think faster than we think. Our brain processes the question; the decision; the issue in front of us quickly.

What we do is assume that we have to always be thinking on the spot and just because we’re asked a question we have to know the answer; respond straight away or act immediately. Well, we don’t. Even if we do know the answer, we don’t have to commit ourselves straight away. We can buy ourselves time and find subtle ways to make the other person wait – even if it’s for just a few seconds.

Clients say, particularly women, one of the big struggles they have when they’re promoted or as they take on more responsibility is the feeling of fear of having to know all the answers; of “making the right decision on the spot”. Well, “hello”- firstly who does know all the answers? Secondly, who knows what the right decision is? Only time tells us that. We make decisions taking into account what’s going on at the time; the information, insight and instinct we have and then, we wait to find out how it pans out.

kay whiteIt’s liberating – certainly it is for me – to know that you don’t have to know all the answers and you don’t have to do everything or decide everything “now” – even if it would suit others if you did.

People waste so much time, money and energy – our three most precious resources – by rushing into decisions; responding to emails in “shooting from the fingertip” mode; being asked questions and blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.

Clearing up or back-tracking from rushed decisions or responses just slows us down.

Here’s just 3 of the many ways to slow things down to speed things up for yourself when you’re asked a question:

  1. Repeat the question. Say it back to the person in a way that sounds thoughtful (it is) so you and your brain can process it. It also has the added bonus of making sure the person asking the question is actually asking what they want. (This is a great tip for interviews by the way.)
  2. Ask the person asking what they think first. You can literally say “hmm, now before I tell you what I think, what do you think?” This is especially powerful for someone working or reporting to you – why not make them do the thinking first?
  3. Ask another question. It sounds so elementary doesn’t it? Rather than answer what you’ve been asked; ask a few more questions about the background to the question to get clearer and, again, to buy you and your brain a few more seconds before – and if – you decide to answer. Pause.

Now that’s something to think about, isn’t it?

As a strategic, savvy businesswoman, give yourself a bit more time and space to plan your reply. You know more than you think you know and sometimes, a few extra seconds to think about it gives you the chance to really show it.

Say Yes Before You’re Ready

7 Words To Raise Your Game & Visibility at Work

What I know for sure is that people like certainty.  When someone steps up and says an assertive “Yes” to an idea or an opportunity there’s often a palpable sigh of relief.

There are so many ways to say something and every way means something different to your listener as you say it.  Imagine you’re in a meeting and someone asks if anyone is able to take on a new project or put some figures together.  You think to yourself, ‘I could probably do that’ but you may sit on that thought and say nothing and wait for someone else to offer or you may put yourself forward.  The trick here is, if you do decide to step up and offer, it’s how you put yourself forward.

To use assertive, positive language when you’re going about your business sends a message, very clearly, to those around you that you’re someone who gets on with things and who can be trusted to do things.

A lot of people struggle with the difference between coming across as aggressive instead of assertive.  Assertive is ‘self-confident, self-assured, firm’ and aggressive ‘hostile, belligerent, forceful’ and there’s a different energy about the two, of course there is.

As a savvy communicator, you’re going to be far more effective if you come across as clear, firm and self-confident as you go about your business, rather than belligerent or, almost worse, wishy-washy using indecisive language.  It casts doubt.

Say ‘Yes’ before you’re ready is about trusting yourself and working out the details as you go.  Not waiting until you know everything.  By then, normally, someone else has jumped in and you’re still getting ready to get ready.

You could offer to help on this new project in so many ways and depending on how you say it, your message lands differently:

  • ‘I suppose I could do it’ – I suppose meaning I might be able to, if pushed.  I could meaning I can, but I’m not saying I will
  • I might have some capacity to do it’ – might doesn’t mean to say I will
  • I’ve got enough on my plate’ – unhelpful, defensive, bordering on stroppy
  • I’ll try to do it’ – I might be able to do it but I’m not really sure I’ll be able to
  • Leave it with me.  I’ll do it.’ – I’m able to do it and I will do it 

We all know which one of those simple phrases gives the most reassurance, gives the most credibility and which one you’d want to hear if you were asking for help.  There’s a completely different energy about the last phrase – you can feel that the person saying it is capable and certain.

Being more assertive as you respond positions you with other people as someone who’s confident of their abilities, someone who can get things done, put forward for interesting projects, promotions, and then gets promoted.

Those 7 words ‘Leave it with me.  I’ll do it’ will raise your game.

Hedging your bets with ‘might be able to’ will only put doubt in other people’s minds about whether you will or won’t and whether you’re capable.

When you put yourself forward to do things you become someone who offers time, help and input, and to make it most effective for you use assertive, positive language.  Leave as little doubt in people’s minds as possible.

I’ll leave that with you.

Go off and do something else instead

(and notice what you notice)

That expression “busy doing something else” is where your ideas and inspiration often comes from.  It gives you the sense of being absorbed, concentrating, focused on something so other thoughts are put aside or take a back seat.  It’s something to be encouraged, especially when you’re scratching your head looking for the answer to a tricky issue or ticklish situation.  Go off and do – or absorb yourself – in something else.  It’s often where the answer lies for you.

Sometimes the full-on focus we give to something means we miss some of the subtleties of what’s actually really happening.   I hear people saying things like “I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall” or “I can’t stop thinking about ABC” or “I can’t leave it until I’ve sorted it, I’m like a dog with a bone”.  Often that’s exactly the problem.  Go off.  Do something else instead.  Leave it.

When you give yourself permission to leave it – and I do mean give yourself permission – because it’s an active, energetic decision (rather than a sign of defeat) – by saying “OK, let’s just park this for now, I’m going to go off and do something else” this is often where the ‘aha’ moment is waiting for you.   You know I’m not suggesting you toss and turn inside a question for ages and use up time and energy fretting.  Of course not.

Buy yourself some time and take yourself away from the thinking, just for a while.  A day.  Overnight.  A week.  You know your deadlines but it’s the action of parking it and staying open to what comes up in your thinking whilst you’re otherwise engage I’m talking about.  Let me explain.

Waterskiing.  I’ve skied for years and love it – the speed, the sensation, the ‘hey I might fall off’ feeling at times (sometimes, a lot of the time).

What I realise though, is how many similarities and insights there when you compare improving ‘something else’ with building and expanding your business or your career.

Look and see these 5 quick lessons to learn about business and career success from being busy waterskiing:

  1. Keep flexible and relaxed as much as you can.  There are forces at work, which you can’t see, and they’ll help you.   You don’t have to force it, go with where you’re being pulled.  Stay loose.
  2. Expect there will be bumps in the water and the current can pull you off course but keep your eyes on the water where you’re going.  Stop watching and worrying about the bumps all the time; watch the water where you’re going instead.
  3. Let go when you have to.  When you decide to – or have to – sometimes it’s best to just let go, have a face full of water for a moment and then get up again and get back on. Hanging on too tightly doesn’t do much for your style or your peace of mind.
  4. Listen to the advice of your mentor/instructor.  Other people can often see what you can’t when you’re in action.  It might be just a simple tweak and it’s too close to the end of your nose for you to see it.  Study and listen for what the experts do and then model it.  Make it a style of your own.
  5. Rest up and regroup.  Remember it’s about the ride too and it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. Take breaks, limber up and enjoy the scenery along the way.

Ron, our ski instructor, uses a great expression, which is helpful to remember whilst you’re busy doing something else “keep your legs loose, your tush in and reeeelaaaax”.

To enjoy the creative ways your mind works when you’re busy doing something else, ask yourself these 3 quick questions to help you with your decision:

 

  1. What is it that most concerns me about this decision.  
  2. How will I handle that and what skills will I need to bring into the mix to handle this?
  3. What lessons are there for me to use and then share with my colleagues, friends or clients, which could help the situation we’re scratching our heads with?

Interestingly, I sat for 48 hours with a decision on holiday.  I knew I needed to land on a decision before moving forward on plans which affect my clients, my team and my lifestyle.  Using the exact steps and the waterskiing as a distraction, I stayed loose, kept my tush in and landed on my decision.  More about that soon.