Define It, Post It, Live It

By Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

 

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

Are you successful? Will you be successful in the future? Do you have a time line and set goals to that end? Well, let’s paint a different picture.

Let’s say you were given a few days to live and you were lucky enough to be on your deathbed, surrounded by the people you love. Each of you could say the things you needed to say before you left this world. Would you be able to close your eyes and say, “I was successful in my life”? Well here’s a question for you. Why in the world would you want to wait until the last hours of your life to realize you’re a success?

I want you tonight when you close your eyes to say, “I’m a success”. And tomorrow, live it. To make that a reality certain steps need to be taken.

Step One – Define It

To be able to live it you’ve got to define it. How would you define success? That definition will be modified throughout your life but it needs to start somewhere. If you don’t take the time to define it for yourself then you’ll buy into other people’s definitions and they will begin to maneuver and manipulate you to live their definitions.

Examples?

“You’ll never be a success around here unless you put in a 60 hour work week”

“If you’re serious about the job then you’re expected to entertain clients in places you’d rather not be”

“It’s simple. Don’t let people around here know you have kids if you want to advance. It’s your job or your family. You can’t have both”

“You’ll have your retirement to take all the vacations you won’t be taking here. 

These are real statements that have been said to real employees. Without having your own clear definition of success, guilt, “should” language and manipulation become powerful tools in the hands of others. When you KNOW what your definition of success is, it makes it easier for you to make better choices that will help in getting a life…balanced!

 Remember I said your definition would be modified in life? If you asked my teenage son to define success he’d tell you “Success in driving a Porsche and living on the beach.” A man friend once told me, “No, success is owning the Porsche, the house on the beach and have two years income in the bank so at anytime you can say “take this job and shove it”. My Mother defines success as “If your children call you on Mother’s day and remember to send you a Birthday card, then you’re successful.”

What’s YOUR definition? Define it, Post it and Live it! 

 

About Sheryl Nicholson, CSP:  CSP Sheryl Nicholson is an International Professional Speaker and Author.  She has been doing training since the 1980s and also has a private coaching business.  She is known as a People Productivity Expert focusing on skill development in sales, leadership, time management, goals, communication, and life balance.  As a private coach she focuses on Successful Presentation Strategies.

Attitude = MORE than Survival!

By Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

 

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

How many of you out there feel like survivors? Have you experienced and survived a divorce, job change or life-threatening illness?  I, too, am a survivor! And I used to be so proud of that word that I almost wore it as a “badge of courage” pinned on my chest. I had lived in a tent for 18 months with four children and physically built my own home—and I survived! I built that home for $28,000; and 2 years later it appraised at $98,000.  And I lost it in an ugly divorce, walking away with nothing but my greatest assets, my four children; and I survived!

I ended up having to work three jobs.  Got up in the morning and repaired bathtubs on construction sites (I’m a plumber’s daughter; sold real estate in the afternoon; got home to greet the kids from school, start dinner, and then I was off doing free talks at Rotary and Kiwanis meetings trying to build my speaking and training business.  I was getting headaches and feeling like I was pushing myself to get through the day.  Can you relate?

And like most of us, I took care of myself last. I self medicated by popping aspirins. When I was up to 14 aspirins a day, my body said, “Uh uh,” and I ended up in the hospital with a doctor telling me that I probably wouldn’t survive the gangrene in my intestines. I went through major surgery and I survived! Going through a life-death situation, I got thinking about it…. survivor, survivor… as my children were growing up and asking me about life, was I just going to be able to say I had survived it? All of a sudden that magical word meant nothing and I decided I wanted to get more out of life than just survival. And I wanted to share those skills with others. So let’s get started on our path out of a life of survival.

Do you hope to one day leave this world as a success? Why wait until we’re on our deathbed to ask ourselves that question? Today, I want you to know that success is within your grasp, and you can go home and know you are successful. But to do that you must first take the time to define success.

Everyone has his or her own customized definition. For example, if you asked my son Erik, when he was a teenager, he would say “you’re successful when you own a Porsche and live in a house on the beach.”  Some say, “If the Porsche and the house are paid for and you have two years salary in the bank, you’re successful.”  And my mother says “If your kids remember to call you on Mother’s Day, you’re successful.”

Several years ago success was define by “things”.  “He who dies with the most toys wins” was a popular bumper sticker. Then came the recession and recently the dot com crash and many have suffered making the mistake of tying success into a dollar amount or even fame.  Hollywood and Celebrity Sports give thousands of examples of misplaced definitions of success that lead to drugs and suicide. In my business I’ve met many people who drive expensive cars and live in gorgeous homes, and I wouldn’t call them successful at all. They throw money instead of time at their kids and are often out of balance.

I recently heard this definition and liked it so well I often use it. You might want to copy it and put it up somewhere: 

Success is loving what you do so much, you’d do it for free, but doing it so well, you get paid handsomely for it.

That definition works for Joe the gardener who whistles while he works.  It works for me when I’m offered other jobs that I can turn down quickly because I wouldn’t love the job.

The first step is to realize positive mental attitude as imperative to your  success.  Research has shown that there are actually three ingredients in personal and professional success.  Education, Interpersonal Skills and Attitude.  Which do you think is the most important ingredient?  You can know the answer to that question by thinking about someone you admire and consider successful.  Now think of five qualities, not possessions, they have.

Did you list honest or integrity?  How about pro-active and caring?  Now think back over your list.  Won’t the qualities you listed fall into the realm of attitude more than in the area of education or skill?  Attitude is the No. 1 ingredient to their success.  To bring that fact closer to home, can you name someone who is better educated than you are but making less money?  How about someone who is less educated than you are but making more money?  So knowledge is not the key to success, attitude is most important, coupled with strong interpersonal skills and a continuing education.

 

About Sheryl Nicholson, CSP:  CSP Sheryl Nicholson is an International Professional Speaker and Author.  She has been doing training since the 1980s and also has a private coaching business.  She is known as a People Productivity Expert focusing on skill development in sales, leadership, time management, goals, communication, and life balance.  As a private coach she focuses on Successful Presentation Strategies.

SOAR In Your Zone

By Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

 

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

Good Morning Sleepy Head!  No?  You’ve been up before dawn, had your coffee and already got 3 hours into your day?  Good for you!  For the rest of us…we too need to find our “zone”.

All of us have zones of energy, creativity, sleepiness.  Does it make sense to work creatively in your sleepiness zone?  Of course not…yet we will schedule appointments and take on projects when we are disconnected from our own energy.  So take a week and make a note in your calendar of the times you feel E for energized, S for sleepy and C for creativity.  Then schedule your appointments around your own zone.

When you’re working in your zone, you never look at a clock for the time…it just flies by.  Personally, my creativity often comes while driving.  To get the most out of that time, I bought a tiny MP3 recorder that allows me to store 14 folders with over 8 hours of creative thoughts.  It’s so much better than the old tape recorder that you had to fast forward and rewind to find what you were looking for.  And this MP3 player allows me to download that file onto my computer and then convert that to text.  Wow!

I’ve also found that when I’m in the mood to write…that’s what I do.  I don’t stop to take phone calls or check my email.  I write while it flows and when the tap is dry…I move on to other things.

I’m NOT a morning person so why would I schedule important business meetings around breakfast?  I wouldn’t.  There are always exceptions.  If the client IS a morning person and requires that time of meeting to be in his or her zone, then I comply.  But I know my energy will be off so I make sure I mentally prepare before that meeting and I follow up with an energized phone call later when I’m in MY zone.

I have a friend who works best in the middle of the night.  She has small children and takes care of them in the day time.  She cooks dinner and “switch hits” with hubby allowing him to play and bathe the kids and tuck them in.  This allows her to get into her zone and work.  After the kids are down for the night and she tucks her hubby in, she gets up and works until 3 in the morning.  It works for HER.  She thrives on that schedule.  It wouldn’t probably be out of anyone else’s zone.  But who cares?  Where in the rulebook of life does it say you have to work 8-5?  It doesn’t.

So find your zone and soar within it!

 

About Sheryl Nicholson, CSP:  CSP Sheryl Nicholson is an International Professional Speaker and Author.  She has been doing training since the 1980s and also has a private coaching business.  She is known as a People Productivity Expert focusing on skill development in sales, leadership, time management, goals, communication, and life balance.  As a private coach she focuses on Successful Presentation Strategies.

Turbulent Times Makes New Talented People

By Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

 

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

As a Professional Speaker, when I first step on the stage, I’m seeing a lot of “deer in headlights” looks from my audience attendees.  There’s a lot of stress out there.  Everyone’s worried about lost incomes, and/or lost retirement funds.  Then there’s the question of who’s going to pick up the kids, pay for the doctor bills, help with elderly parents and still find time to take an evening class to further your own career?

Stop…take a breath.  Here are 3 tips to get refocused.

1.  List the things you know how to do TODAY that you didn’t know how to do just 2

short years ago.

What counts?  EVERYTHING!  It shows growth.  So a new recipe, rollerblading, taking a computer course, learning about finances yourself, becoming an involved parent, surfing, needlepoint…everything counts!

Life is full of choices each and everyday.  Some days we are forced to make a choice by circumstances beyond our control.  But if we rise to the occasion and can learn from that experience (even if it was a bad experience) then there is GROWTH!  And growth is advancement!

2.  Write down your Worst Case Scenario.

Then create a plan in the event that your worst-case scenario did happen.  You don’t have to put the plan into action…the goal is to feel prepared and then release that fear because you ARE prepared.

Statistically, there’s been a lot of research around worry.  Over 90% of the time our “worst-case scenario” doesn’t happen.  And yet look how much time we’ve wasted worrying about the “what ifs” in life.

3.  Find and Be a Cheerleader.

Who in your life or on your campus begins the day with a whistle or a song?  Find that person and learn from their joyous attitude.  People don’t want to be around tired and negative people and it’s pretty impossible to sing or whistle when you’re tired or negative.  That’s why kids are loved — it’s their joy of life.

And when you’re having a good day, find someone who needs your positive energy.  The ebb and tide of life will guarantee that there will be times when you will be upbeat and times you will be quiet and thought-filled.  When you can’t get an enthusiastic beat going, remember we are often cheerleaders of everyone else in our lives, make time to be your own!

 

About Sheryl Nicholson, CSP:  CSP Sheryl Nicholson is an International Professional Speaker and Author.  She has been doing training since the 1980s and also has a private coaching business.  She is known as a People Productivity Expert focusing on skill development in sales, leadership, time management, goals, communication, and life balance.  As a private coach she focuses on Successful Presentation Strategies.

 

The IDDMs of Procrastination

By Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

I know, I know…I should start an exercise program, I should fix that hole in the screen, I should take the car in for an oil change.  Am I the only one that procrastinates?  I don’t think so.  It’s a topic that comes up often in my seminars.  With some research and discussions with psychologists I was actually able to develop an easy formula to explain why we procrastinate and then tips to stop.  Great right.

So I call these my items of procrastination and we’ll use an acronym of IDDM.  Ready?

I = It’s gotta be perfect.  People often come and tell me they’re going to write a book.  When I ask how far they’ve gotten, they look like deer in headlights.  They haven’t even started…because they’re waiting for everything to be perfect.  If you are an avid reader, like myself, then you know — there isn’t a perfect book out there.  Every book I read has misspelled words, or a page number missing, a page printed upside down, etc.

Solution:  So what’s the cure?  That old saying…”Doing something is better than doing nothing at all.”  Get out of that paralysis and take a baby step.  You’ll find you can take another and another!

D = Don’t tell me!  Isn’t it interesting that some people can ask you to do something and it sounds like a request — while out of the mouth of someone else — we hear it as a command!  I’ve found people don’t like to be told what to do from 2 to 62.  How do you change a command to a request?  Change your ears…and words.  That is what I love about the power of language.  Here I’ll show you.  Fill in the blank I should ______.   Now say it three times…feeling guilty?  Feeling obligated?

Solution:  Now change the word “should” to “choose” and read the sentence three times.  Feel more empowered?  So that’s the solution.  When you procrastinate on something because you feel you heard it as a command, simply change the word and make it your choice.

D = Dessert first!  I often procrastinate of things because they’re no fun.  I like dessert not liver!  And returning phone calls to me runs in the “liver” category!  I understand fully why I don’t like it…being a time management expert — I know that if I call you and you’re working on something and I interrupt — it will take you 22 minutes to refocus at that level after my call.  Emailing is my preferred form of communicating because you pick it up at your convenience.  But I found I was getting a bad reputation for NOT returning phone calls and they began adding up.

Solution:  Do the thing you’re procrastinating on in bite size pieces then reward yourself.  So now I take 10 phone calls and return them…it only takes a few minutes — because all I get is voicemail.  I’ve put the ball back in their court and then I go give myself a treat…it may be a cup of coffe, a walk around the office, a short dance to my favorite music…but it is OFF my list.  Yeah!

M = Maybe it’ll go away.  No it won’t!  That thing you’re procrastinating on is like a big fat ugly toad sitting on your desk.  You work around it all day, hoping if you ignore it, someone else will pick it up and deal with it…whty won’t!  And you’re getting a reputation for being an ostrich…burying your head and ignoring the situation.  That ugly toad will be sitting on your desk and on your things to do list tomorrow.  So how do you handle this type of procrastination?

Solution:  Eat a toad first thing every morning!  You know the rest of the day is gonna be better after that!  That’s right — the thing you don’t want to do — just DO it!  You will feel accomplished and energized the rest of the day.  Promise!

©2008 Sheryl Nicholson

About Sheryl Nicholson, CSP:   CSP Sheryl Nicholson is an International Professional Speaker, Trainer and Author, and rated in the top 6% in the profession.  She is considered a people productivity expert and her articles are published everywhere.  For more information view www.sheryl.com or call 727-729-4937.

What Doesn’t Show Up On A Resume That Will Get You the Job

By CSP Sheryl Nicholson

January 2009

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

Sheryl Nicholson, CSP

Congratulations you’re now on the adventure of your life.  And today you have so many more choices than your grandparents could have ever dreamed of.  Know that according to research statistics, you will hold 5 different careers in your lifetime…so this job you’re now looking for will probably be your first stepping stone.  And it’s important that you step not lightly, but solidly!

You’ve taken a class on getting past the interview.  You’ve bought your new suit to look the part, maybe even decided on a new hairstyle and made a professional opinion about wearing glasses or contacts.  You’ve invested both money and time in your education and believe you have a great chance with such a well-prepared resume.

Today’s employer is learning how to read between the lines and with a personal interview now’s your chance to leap from the paper and show them that you’re the best candidate for their job.

As a People Productivity Expert ™ I’ve asked several employers why they will take college graduates over non-college graduates and they stated simply “It proves they can finish something they start.”  I then asked what two things that don’t show up on a resume will get someone hired and move them up the corporate ladder. Want to know the answer most often given?

     1.   Risk Taking Skills

It’s not your daddy’s job anymore.  In your daddy’s days, you could show your credentials and get the job you were “most qualified for” and then work there to build stability and retirement…for years!  The workplace has changed significantly now.  Everything in the workplace is changing: software, equipment, employees, job descriptions, mission statements, product…and so employers are looking for people who are risk takers and can adapt to change quickly.

A proven risk taker is adventuresome – but not someone who takes a flying leap and then looks back to see if he/she prepared a parachute.  Risktakers are constant learners.  They are fascinated with life and the opportunities it offers.  Risktakers tend to be positive attitude thinkers. Risktakers tend to be leaders and are often looked up to by their team members.

Companies want people who are comfortable with analyzing and preparing for risk and who show leadership skills to get others on board.  So what have you done throughout your life to show your risk taking skills?

Give Examples – Maybe you lived and studied abroad.  Maybe you take “unusual studies” outside your field of expertise so that you’re testing yourself for growth in other areas.  Maybe you took a risk by being a leader for a new fund raising project and built a team for success.  Have you invented something?  Have you done research on a particular area that could show promise to change things? Maybe you took a risk and along the way mentored someone to be a risktaker in their life that has given them higher confidence and success.

Risktaking examples should be on the tip of your tongue and if you aren’t asked about that talent – make sure you add it into your interview.  How do you do that?  You could simply state:  “Are risktaking skills valued in your organization?  I’d like you to know that it’s a quality I possess.  I enjoy helping an organization advance while being flexible in the process.”

2.  Presentation Skills

Can you speak with confidence to audiences of 2 or 200?  It’s often quoted that the fear of public speaking is listed above the fear of dying in the Book of Fears.  So when you tackle that fear, you get recognition and respect from all. Taking a public speaking class in college is a start but it’s only the beginning.  Have you taken a Dale Carnegie class and are you involved in your local Toastmaster meetings to further your talent?

When an employer knows you possess that envied skill – you get the opportunity to demonstrate your talent at employee meetings, conferences, and even to vendors.

It’s all about knowledge of material, speaking with confidence, and being authentic (leave the ego behind).

Again think of past examples you can offer in your interview.  Did you lead a debate class?  Are you a spokesperson for a non-profit organization that you helped? Do you lead a Bible study?  Have you been on stage as an actor in a play?  Do you do karaoke (sober) in front of a crowd?  Have you volunteered in the political arena campaigning for a candidate?  Did you make sales presentations while you were working your way through school?  All that counts!

The worst thing you can do is alert your interviewer that you do not possess these two talents.  If asked – make sure you respond positively with a committed answer like “I’m actually looking for ways to improve that skill.  What books, or groups would you recommend I read or join to get more knowledgeable?”   Then follow-up on that information.  Send a thank you letter reminding them that you’re taking action on the tips they gave you.

I have a saying “if you are unique you have no competition”. So what are you doing uniquely different to help that interviewer remember you from the dozens or hundreds they have been interviewing?  No I don’t mean calling everyday or becoming a stalker.  Yes, always send a thank you for their time and interest with a note that you’re looking forward to being a part of their team.  Then send an unusual postcard once in a while to stay in touch.  Keep an eye on what that organization is doing and let them know it by sending a congratulatory email or basket. Did you know you can get a Google account that will send you press releases about the organization?  This can be a valuable tool with up-to-the minute information that will benefit you in staying current with what’s going on with that industry.

You have the look, you’ve got the tools, and now you have some “insider information” about two skills you can boast you own that can give you that edge when interviewing and just may be the connection to get you that job.  Remember success is always in your hands!

 

About Sheryl Nicholson – CSP Sheryl Nicholson is an International Professional Speaker and Author.  She has been doing training since the 1980’s and also has a private coaching business.   She is known as a People Productivity Expert™ focusing on skill development in sales, leadership, time management, goals, communication, and life balance.  As a private coach she focuses on Successful Presentation Strategies,  For more information go to www.sheryl.com