Friday, April 28, 2017

Is It Too Late to Write Your Book?



Everyone who dreams of writing a book knows what that genuine burst of inspiration, enthusiasm, and energy feels like when a really great book idea pops into their mind. They just know, without a doubt, that there are people everywhere who will absolutely benefit from all the great content they’re going to share. And the benefits! There are so many external benefits to writing a book:

  • Establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field
  • Recognition as an expert in your field
  • Increase in visibility
  • Increase in income
  • Increase in clients/customers/market share

 The biggest internal benefits?

  • The feeling of accomplishment that goes along with successfully completing something most of your peers will never even attempt.
  • Knowing you have contributed a valuable “conversation” in a format that will be around long after you’re gone.  

The biggest hurdle?

  • Getting started.

It’s really easy to push the idea of writing your book off to one side. You have every intention of getting to it at some point, but right now, it’s “just not the right time.” Sadly this is the whole “I’ll get to it tomorrow” paradox because tomorrow never comes.

If you truly don’t have the time to write your book, there are still things you can do to keep the inspiration and ideas for your book alive.

Acknowledge the value of questions:
  • Start keeping track of the questions your clients and customers are asking. You already know most of the answers by heart, and once combined, they will provide a great source of content for your book.
  • Ask your clients and customers questions too. Not yes or no questions that will make them feel dumb if they don’t know the answers. Come up with open-ended questions that give them the opportunity to expand on their thoughts, experiences, and opinions. Be open to the truth that even though you’re good at what you do, you can still learn from other people.

Pay attention to what others are writing. Some people think it’s too late to write their own book when they come across a book that’s been written and published on the same topic, by someone else. But there are very few cases when this is true. Instead, think of these people as your peers rather than your competition. Think of those books as opportunities to riff off their work. (That’s riff not rip!) If fact, it’s when we contemplate the work of others that our minds are stimulated to agree, disagree, add to what they came up with, alter it so it’s more accurate, fill in the missing pieces, etc.

Embrace the reality that only you can share your thoughts and ideas. In books, just as it is with people and in business, you aren’t going to establish a connection with every person you meet. But that’s all the more reason why you need to write your book. There are people waiting for the solutions you have to offer. And yes, solutions might already exist, but people don’t listen to voices that rub them the wrong way. They want to hear from people they feel a connection to. That’s where your unique voice comes in. The only way you can fail at connecting with your audience is if you never write your book!

It’s never too late to write your book. Never. But if you’re struggling with getting started, let’s have a conversation.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The End of Average Part 1


      
      Todd Rose’s book, The End of Average shows overs and over again that most of our social and institutional systems over the last hundred years or so are designed around the average person and sadly are doomed to fail. No one is average. The moment one needs to make a decision about an individual, the average is useless and even harmful because it gives us a false sense of knowledge. This quassi-knowledge has been based on an imperfect human invention of the average that helped solve the problems of a 100 years ago during the Industrial Age.
            Furthermore, the Age of the Average, which came out of our Industrial Age, was built on imperfect science. Adolphe Quetelet, who was born in 1796, was a man who was looking for fortune and fame. He wanted to be the Isaac Newton of his age. He kind of achieved this by using the mathematics from his failed astronomy career and applying it to humans. He borrowed astronomy methods of averages (averages were used because most astronomers couldn’t agree on anything), and actually applied it to human beings! And somehow this imperfect science caught on and the world changed to where according to Rose the average person came to represent the true human, and the individual person became synonymous with error. Every one of us became a flawed copy of some kind of cosmic template for human beings, which they called, “The Average Man”. Basically, average became normal, even though it didn’t truly exist, and the individual became error. Kind of crazy sounding, isn’t it?
            Next came Charles Darwin’s cousin Sir Francis Galton. He agreed with everything that Quetelet said except the average being the perfect being. Instead he created a ranking system and said it was better if one was above average. He used Darwin’s research on evolution and survival of the fittest to back up his claims. So now, with Quetelet’s influence, if one wasn’t average, they were wrong. And then with Galton’s influence, if one wasn’t above average, they too were wrong. It was a lose-lose situation for most of us, if not all of us.
            Sadly, Quetelet’s idea of the Average Man and Galton’s idea of rank somehow became part of our current system of education, hiring practices in the work place, and employee evaluations. Individuality, eventually didn’t matter anymore. The thought process became that people could only be understood by comparing them to a group. Today, we judge, whether we want to or not, everyone we meet against the average, including ourselves.
            Rose next speaks about Fredrick Winslow Taylor, who like Bill Gates, opted out of Harvard so he could go change the world. Taylor believed that he could eliminate inefficiency in our newly electrified factories during the Industrial Age, which was just as big as a deal as what Gates did in the Information Age. Taylor decided to make his mark through adopting the principles of averagarianism and standardization where the system would trump the individual. The worker, who was once celebrated as a creative craftsman, was demoted to the role of automation. Here the new role of the manager was born despite the fact that people initially thought it was crazy to hire someone to plan a job who couldn’t actually do the job.

            So, in closing of part 1 of this multipart blog, are you unknowingly comparing yourself and everyone you meet to the average? If you are, is there anything that you could do different or even better? And if you’re a manager of people, are you truly seeing your people? 

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: www.DanBlanchard.net. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Value of Random Thoughts



We all know what random thoughts are—the ones that pop into your head and you think, Wow… that’s a really cool idea. These are the thoughts that have you puffing up with pride at the notion that you could come up with something so good on your own, or delighting you with your own ability to solve a problem. They make you feel brilliant… and then they’re gone... like stars at sunrise.

Everything that exists in our world started out as a flash of an idea in someone’s mind. Not all of those minds belonged to geniuses either. They belonged to people who grabbed hold of their thoughts, and didn’t let go until they turned them into a reality.

If you want to write a book, but are having trouble getting started, here are a few things you can start doing right now.

Write your flashes of brilliance down! Books aren’t written all at once. They’re written word by word (and not necessarily in order). Get a notebook. It can be a fancy notebook or not, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, or how many pages it has. What matters is that it’s one and only purpose is for you to record your thoughts and ideas. No to-do lists! No journaling!

I have a couple of books like this; small ones from the Dollar Store, each with its own designated subject. Then, whenever I have an idea, thought, or flash, I have a place to write it down.

Embrace the power of post-its! Funny little things—post-its, but powerful little things to have handy because brilliance rarely checks to see if one of your notebooks is nearby before gracing you with its presence. With a post-it, you can capture your idea with words before it fades away.

What I really like about post-its (besides the fact that you can write something down and then add it to your notebook later) is that they come in all kinds of shapes and colors. You can choose colors that match your mood, or even color code your thoughts if you want.

Most Importantly! When you do write down your thoughts, ideas, flashes of brilliance, etc., make sure to write down enough of the thought so you’ll know exactly what you were thinking when you came up with it. I can’t even imagine how many wonderful thoughts and ideas have been lost through the ages because someone wrote a four word sentence and thought, I’ll remember what it means. Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure that what you write is as complete as it can be.

Don’t share! I know that sounds like a bad thing to say, but ideas can be fragile things. Treat them like the newborns they are. Don’t give them over to strangers. And, as we’re not really talking about babies here, my advice is not to share them with loved ones or trusted friends either—at least not at first. Write them down, and then let them settle long enough for the inspiration that sparked their existence to take root. If you work with a coach or mentor, those are the people you can share them with because your best interest is their top priority.

Respect your own process! People create at their own pace, so cut yourself some slack if your book isn’t taking shape as quickly as you’d like it to. If you’d like some guidance understanding and defining your process, let’s chat.



Saturday, March 4, 2017

Grit Part 7

Growing Grit from the Outside Continued
     
       So, what’s another way us parents can build more grit in ourselves and our children? Simple. Join a gritty team. Join a winning team. Join a team where it’s normal to get up early, work hard, and stay late. When we reside in a culture that is gritty, then acting gritty just seems normal. It’s just what we do. After all, the concept of conformity is a very powerful one. Most of us will conform to the culture that we’re living in, whether we know it or not.
            The Finnish people even have a word for the culture of toughness that they live in and acclimate to. That word is sisu. They believer that just by being Finnish it makes the people in Finland grittier, tougher, or sisu, whether they know it or not. Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks professional football team calls it competing. If you’re part of the Seahawks culture you’re always competing. And in Coach Carroll’s culture, the word compete doesn’t mean one wins and one loses. Instead, it means to bring forth the best in all of them.
Which, leads me to my next point. If you don’t have a winning gritty culture or team to join, then create one of your own where your own grit will rub off onto your teammates, co-workers, or even your own children. Hey, it’s sort of like the great John Wooden of UCLA basketball fame would say, “Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” So, choose to have that courage and build that grit in yourself. Then pass it around so others too can get a little more cultured.
Closing
What we accomplish in the marathon of life depends a lot on our grit, passion and perseverance for long term goals. Sadly, an obsession with talent distracts us all from this simple truth. And makes no mistake about it, most of us are distracted. We love the mystique of what someone becomes, we’re not very interested in what it took, or the becoming part that was required for them to reach their full potential and mastery.
            The good thing is that we can all choose to work on our own grit and becoming grittier. We can grow our grit from the inside out through some exploration and perseverance and we can also employ others to our cause and grow grit from the outside in.
            Becoming grittier is excellent for all of us because becoming grittier makes us emotionally healthier. Considering all the crazy stuff we have seen seeing in the news lately, I think you would agree with me that our society being a little more emotionally healthy would be a good thing that could benefit all of us.

            In conclusion, I say stay curious my friend. Curiosity usually has an undercurrent of optimism that accompanies a growth-mindset. Curiosity, in the end, may be the best companion to true grit. Get your gritty self out there and somehow get your hands on Dr. Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit. You’ll be happier that you did. It will improve your outlook on life like it has for me. Grit reminds us that we don’t have to go down that road of learned helplessness. Given enough time and grit, we can make our dreams come true by becoming even grittier.
 Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. You can learn more about him at: www.GranddaddysSecrets.com.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Grit Part 6

Growing Grit from the Outside
   
         The Latin meaning of the word parent is ‘bring forth’. We need to bring forth interest, practice, purpose and hope in all the people that we care for and care about. We have to show our children, according to Dr. Duckworth, that it’s not about us and what we need, but that it’s truly about giving the kids all that we got. We have to do this, even when it’s not easy because kids need demanding and supportive parenting or other words, ‘tough-love’ in order to build some grit of their own.
            However, remember that we don’t need to be a parent to make a difference. If we just care about them and get to know them and what’s going on in their lives, we can make a positive impact. I’m sure that we have all heard the old African proverb, that it takes a village to raise a child, right?
            Besides parents growing grit from the outside in their own homes with their children, extracurricular activities is another great way to build grit. With extracurricular activities there is usually a more objective adult standing in for the parent who is also demanding and supportive. In addition, this other adult and the extracurricular activity itself is designed by nature to cultivate interest, increase practice and produce purpose and hope. And the beautiful thing is that it really doesn’t matter what the extracurricular activity is because all extracurricular activities are playing fields of grit. So, let’s sign our kids up for something so they can spend at least part of their week doing hard things that interest them.
            You see, this is how it works… School is hard for our young ones, but for many it’s also boring, or at least not intrinsically interesting. Texting their friends is interesting, but not hard. Extracurricular activities, on the other hand, can be the best of both worlds… They can be hard and fun. In addition, kids who participate in extracurricular activities fare better on every conceivable metric.
            Dr. Duckworth talks about a study began in 1978 by Warren Willingham who was the director of the Personal Qualities Project, and which still remains to this day as one of the most ambitious studies ever done to discover what determinants help young people become successful young adults. What he found was the extracurricular activities are a great indicator of future success.
But here was the real secret though… Kids who participate in more than one extracurricular activity and took part for more than one year, who also somehow made great strides became the most successful young adults off all, regardless of what their S.A.T. scores were, or what their grade point average was.
Harvard University has picked up on this fact and bases at least part of their admissions on this. Bill Fitsimmons, the former Dean of Admissions for Harvard says that kid who was consistent and succeeded on one of the extracurricular playing fields of grit, could use that energy and determination for something else purposeful like getting good grades at Harvard, even if that kid no longer participates in that extracurriculars. Sadly, many high schools are facing budget cuts today and are cutting their extracurricular programs…
            According to Dr. Duckworth, without directly experiencing the connection between effort and reward that seems to go hand-in-hand with extracurricular activities, all animals, humans included, default to laziness. Calorie-burning effort is after all, something evolution has shaped us to avoid whenever possible. Taking away extracurricular activities and then accusing kids of being lazy doesn’t seem to add up correctly though. We are the adults. We need to do better.

            Are you doing everything in your power to make sure that our children have opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities and build some grit of their own?
 Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. You can learn more about him at: www.GranddaddysSecrets.com.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

What To Do When You Just Don’t Feel Like Writing






    Believe me… it happens. It happened to me tonight. I’ve been very busy, and like a lot of entrepreneurs, I’ve been so busy working to meet other people’s deadlines, I neglected to commit to my own. So now, it’s the 28th of the month, and I have about 3 hours to get this blog post written and posted. 
     I had a few good ideas for topics to write about, but they all needed more research than I had time for, so I added them to my blog-post idea list instead. This topic however, the topic of how to “get inspired” to write something meaningful when you’re not in the mood, I can definitely write about. 
     The first thing I usually do when I can’t come up with an idea is to head over to the Internet to see what other authors and editors are writing about. It doesn’t always work, but I might pick up a couple of ideas for future posts there. Sometimes I find a great post and repost it with an introduction explaining what I liked about it. The Internet did nothing for me tonight though.   
     What did provide me with the energy and inspiration to get writing was the book on the corner of my desk. It’s the proof copy of a book I just finished working on for a non-profit organization. It’s not a long book, only 58 pages, but it's full of pictures, and full color. I did all the work on this book; the layout, formatting, editing, cover, etc., and uploaded the final docs to Create Space (Amazon’s self-publishing channel) this past week. 
     The reason this book inspired me was because it reminded me of how important my successes and accomplishments are to my process, and then of how important your successes and accomplishments are to your process. No one can be inspired 24/7, and sometimes we get so caught up in the work we have in front of us that we forget about our biggest inspiration, all the people whose lives we’ve impacted in a positive way with our writing. For me, the book on the corner of my desk was a reminder of how amazing and wonderful it is for people when they finally get to hold their book in their hand, even if it is just 58 pages long.
     I don’t have to know what you’re writing about, how often you’re sharing your content, or what written format you’re using to share it, to know that one of the reasons you’re doing it is because you believe you have something of value to share. So the next time you’re sitting in front of your keyboard trying to remember why you decided to write in the first place, stop and think about someone you’ve helped with your writing. Think about how the person you helped might be able to help someone else in turn. 
     There’s no way to know how many people you’re going to help, inspire, educate, or entertain with your written words, or how many people might be inspired to take action because of them. But that’s what got you started writing in the first place… caring about what people might be able to think, do, and accomplish after they’ve read your words. Their success is your success. So the next time you’re having trouble getting motivated or inspired, think about those people. Remember that the obstacles you encounter are probably similar to the obstacles they encounter. Write about how you deal with one of those obstacles. That’s what I did here.