New Year: How to Change the Stubborn Issues

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Success, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 3 min.

In this time of resolutions, reflection, and list-making, we can become understandably skeptical. Often the things we really want to be different just don’t change. We justifiably think that anything we might try now will suffer the same fate as past efforts.

Luckily, it’s not true. You can affect any change you want. Even (and especially) the stubborn issues. The solution is to change your focus.

We all tend to focus on the problem. When we have a persistent unwanted situation it’s a sure bet that our moment-to-moment thoughts contain complaint, anger, or worry about it.

“I hate how much I weigh.” “Why can’t we grow this business?” “I don’t have enough money.” “These people just don’t care or work hard enough.” “I don’t deserve it.” “My boss doesn’t understand.” “Why am I so often alone?”

Our thoughts of complaint, anger, and worry are so habitual that we are often unaware of them. They make up the ground of our existence and we are blind to how they work and our power to change them. You can tell you’re thinking them because you’ll feel bad as you think them.

We stick with our problem-focus because we mistakenly think it will spur us to productive action. Actually, getting stuck on the problem locks the problem in place.

Let us instead focus on what we want. It is natural and helpful to notice what is not working, what we do not want.  To have the changes we want, we must continue past the thoughts of what’s wrong and focus on what we want. This means catching (not squelching, mind you) our moment-to-moment thoughts of worry, anger, and complaint about the problem then flipping them. It means building the habit of regularly describing, imagining, telling stories about, and feeling what we want. It means shifting toward expecting the change we want to happen.

As you shift your focus, you will notice new ideas, options, and actions that will take you where you want to go.

Why this works. Focusing on what’s wrong prevents us from seeing the ideas and options that will help us. Focusing on what’s wrong feels bad and drains our energy. It also pushes away others who might otherwise want to help. Focusing on what we want attracts others, pumps us with energy, feels good, and opens us to helpful ideas, options, and actions.

It is simple to shift our focus toward what we want. It may not be easy because we are so used to focusing on we do not want. It is so worth it, though.


In your corner,


I Notice

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 2 min.

When we see someone repeatedly making the same mistake, we tend to tell them about it.

The problem is, people will resist us telling them what to do or how to solve a problem. Even if our idea is a good one. And even if it would benefit them. They are subtly saying that it is none of our beeswax (it isn’t); we are not in charge of this (we aren’t).

Instead make an observation. Start by saying, “I notice…” Then be quiet for a 2-4 seconds.

For instance, let’s say you work with someone who waits until the last minute to start important projects. You could tell them it bugs you, you can highlight ideas for how they can be more organized, and you can try to ignore the problem. Or you can say, “I notice you wait until the last minute to start important projects.” In the following silence, your colleague will most likely start describing the problem from their perspective.

At that point, they are in charge of the problem and the solution. Resistance drops to zero. And you can proceed to help them come up with their own solutions.


In your corner,



PS: Double-super-secret tip: After their initial response, let there be 2-4 more seconds of silence. What they say next will be even more insightful and useful.

PPS: This approach will backfire if you use it as a weapon.

PPPS: How to be to really have this approach work well: curious, confident, calm.

Mistakes We Make Trying to Get Others to Act or Change

Posted Leave a commentPosted in We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 2 min.

Success requires that we become good at influencing others to act or change. So we get good at teaching, asking, telling, directing, demanding, coaching, offering, trading, and selling.

And we often make three big…and unwitting…mistakes when we try to get others to act or change.

The things we usually forget to do and must get good at are

  1. Setting the stage. Describe the situation–the context–and what you hope to achieve.
  2. Asking permission. Ask if the other person is willing to have this conversation, meeting, etc. If they say they are, agree on a time to have the conversation (even immediately). If they say they are not, then you face a new conversation about what’s preventing them. Have that conversation then come back to this one.
  3. Establishing the grounds for win-win. Ask the other person what qualities and results (not process or solution) they are interested in seeing in this situation. Then describe your desired qualities and results (not process or solution).

Forget these steps and you will encounter defense and resistance. Remember these steps (I suggest you make a habit of it) and others will be much more ready, willing, and able to act or change.


In your corner,



P.S. Once you have used these steps to start a conversation, you can continue by asking, telling, teaching, etc

P.P.S. You can use this approach with your boss, employee, child, parent, friend, partner, peer, etc.

Reduce the Resistance to Your Growing Lists of Tasks

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
Reading time: 2 min.

How many outcomes (a.k.a. projects) are you tracking in your effectiveness system of lists? As of today, I am tracking 88 active outcomes in my system. If you have been using your system for more than a month, you probably have lots, too.

Tracking many outcomes makes it harder to do your daily and weekly refreshes; there is so much more to review. And they can make your system seem overwhelming. You might notice a growing resistance to keep using and benefiting from your system as it grows.

Here are three things to do and one thing NOT to do to better manage your outcomes.


  1. Move to you back burner list any outcome that you have not acted upon for several weeks and likely will not act upon in the next week. See How Do You Spell Relief? for more insight.
  2. Remove any completed outcomes. Delete them or, if you prefer, move them into an archive.
  3. Group your outcomes by different areas in your work and home life. Grouping helps you work on related ideas together. You also use grouping to get a feel for how you are balancing your life. Example: I group my outcomes into these realms: Business Development, Work for Clients, Administration, Sales, Home, and Personal.


  • Remove or refuse to record any active, unfinished outcome that you are even a bit committed to deliver. It is far better to have a longer list of outcomes or doables (tasks) than to leave anything off your lists. Why? Because you’ll try to keep track in your head anything that is not on your lists. In your head is not the place to store these things. See Effectiveness Habit #1: Get it Out of Your Head.


To your continued success,


Refresh Resistance, Part 1

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Success, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

Ahhh! That’s what you say when you do Effectiveness Habit #6: Refresh. It helps you get back to that great-feeling, “I’m on top of it” place every day. This daily sweep through your lists is very important for keeping the system going. Yet many people (including at times yours truly) report how tough it is to do regular refreshes.

What happens if you don’t do refreshes daily? As each day goes by,

  • Your lists get out of sync with the world. They no longer reflect back to you–in a way you can quickly grasp–all the things you could do.
  • You no longer trust your lists and start keeping things in your head again. Ouch. Remember Habit #1.
  • It becomes harder and harder to do a refresh. It will take lots of time to put everything right again.

To avoid this, my overall recommendations are: make it a habit to do a refresh once every 24 hours. You can occasionally stretch this to 48 hours. You can, depending on your work, skip a day or two on the weekend.

Do you find yourself resisting refreshes? Tomorrow we’ll cover the top reasons people do resist this Habit and give you some tips to help.

Meanwhile, go for that great, on-top-of-it feeling and do a refresh today.


To your continued success,