What Executives Can Learn From Olympic Athletes.

If you’ve been watching the London Olympics this week you’ve no doubt marveled at the extraordinary abilities of the athletes. Their inordinate grace, strength, speed and power is a treat to watch. But what you may not have been thinking about is the mental training that it took to perform at that level. At the elite level, every top athlete spends a significant amount of time each day working on keeping their mind as fit as their body. Because experience has taught them that only when their mind is in great shape can they ever expect to achieve the highest level of performance. The truth is business executives could learn a lot from athletes. After all, surely business performance depends as much on our state of mind as on our knowledge. It’s our state of mind that that gives us the confidence to make that phone call or start that project. It’s our state of mind that keeps us persisting with a new business, when all we want to do is give up and get a safe job with a regular pay check. And it’s certainly our state of mind that determines whether we will lead others with power and confidence. So why do 99% of executives do no mental training whatsoever? It’s makes no sense. Particularly when the mental techniques of athletes are so easy to learn. When I mentor business leaders I make sure they spend at least a few minutes each morning doing the following mental exercises used by all top athletes. 1. Mental rehearsal: seeing a movie of yourself in your mind performing confidently, efficiently and superbly. (Ideally this is accompanied by inspiring music to enhance the effect). 2. Focusing statements: repeating to yourself positive statements to keep you focused on success rather than contemplating failure. (typical examples are “I am confident.” “I am highly effective.” I am an dynamic leader. ” I am always calm and happy.”) 3. Reading and thinking about your Vision, a short written summary of what you want to achieve and the type of person you are seeking to become. In total doing these mind exercises takes only about 6 minutes each morning, but as any Olympic athlete will attest, the results are extraordinary. Positive feelings sky rocket. Confidence rises enormously. Motivation increases and resilience is greatly enhanced. In a nutshell you feel better and perform better at work. If we accept that our mind rules our actions, then it’s imperative that we spend at least some time every day tuning our mind for optimum performance. If we do this in the business world, we may not get to win a gold medal. But we will surely end up with a lot more gold.

5 Important Points About Growing a Business.

I’ve just spent the last 3 days coaching a room full of entrepreneurs.

They were all from different industries. They were all at different stages of their development.

But in all of our discussions, 5 points kept coming up.

I thought you might like to know what those are.

1. NO MATTER WHAT BUSINESS YOU ARE IN, YOU ARE REALLY JUST IN THE MARKETING BUSINESS.

Unless you can develop methods of cost efficiently bringing in clients, then the future of your business is always in danger.

The most successful businesses are not necessarily those that offer the best product, but rather those that are best at marketing their wares.

2. A POSITIVE MINDSET IS ONE OF THE PRIMARY FACTORS IN BUSINESS SUCCESS.

Business can be so hard, obstacles can be so plentiful, that only those who consistently work on their positivity will stay the course and emerge victorious.

This work must be done daily, to strengthen our mental fortitude for the upcoming bad times. Resiliency is crucial for entrepreneurial success.

3. THERE IS NOTHING EXPENSIVE OR INEXPENSIVE.

Whether your product is good value or bad value is purely a matter of perception. That perception can be engineered, and should be, to maximize the prices you can successfully charge. If you feel you can’t charge more, it’s generally because you haven’t packaged your services well, not because the market won’t pay a higher price.

4. MASSIVE REVENUE RISES ARE VERY POSSIBLE.

So many business owners hobble their chances of uber-success because they aim too low. Looking for a 10% rise in revenue this year is gutless thinking that too often becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Our coaching weekend was full of entrepreneurs that had achieved enormous growth in the last year. One of the main reasons why was that they had the courage to aim for it.

5. HAVING ONLY ONE WAY TO OBTAIN CUSTOMERS IS SUICIDE.

Time and time again I have seen companies that got their clients only one way – whether by Google Ads, referral, radio advertising or search engine marketing – get hammered when that one way faltered. You simply must have multiple methods of bringing in customers to ensure sustainable revenue over the long term. It’s not easy finding alternative marketing avenues that offer returns as good as your current one, but it’s vital work.

Sure we discussed a hundred other ideas, but these five often dominated the conversations amongst the business owners.

Have a think about them. Question them. Try them on for size.

And if they resonate with you, start changing your business to address them.

What 500 Entrepreneurs Taught Me.

We’ve just finished running a 2 day seminar for almost 500 entrepreneurs.

We taught a lot, but we also learnt a lot.

Here’s what I learnt:

1. Entrepreneurs are not just driven by money.

Most of the people we spoke to wanted to create something extraordinary, not just make a profit.

Sure money was of interest, but for many it wasn’t the most important factor. The excitement of creation mixed with the freedom that success can bring are what truly motivates most successful business owners.

2. Entrepreneurs are too hard on themselves.

So many lacked the confidence they needed to excel in the competitive world of business. Self belief is ultimately just a choice. If I could say one thing to the entrepreneurs of the world it would be this: you can do it, you really can. All business skills are learnable. If you keep on refining your approach there’s no reason you can’t achieve amazing things with your business. And it’s important you choose to believe that.

3. Entrepreneurs are not spending nearly enough time on marketing.

When you have a new business 90% of the problems are caused by low sales. Yet so many business owners spend less than an hour a day trying to bring in more customers.

You need to spend most of your day doing the stuff that actually increases revenue: making cold calls, sending out emails, trying different marketing methods. Comparatively, virtually everything else is a waste of time.

4. Entrepreneurs don’t do enough joint ventures.

We should always be thinking of companies we can work with who have access to the type of customers we want. Getting new customers is usually hard, costly and time consuming. Even if you have to give them a 50% cut of profits, linking up with another company who can introduce you to those customers is worth it.

5. Entrepreneurs are generally delightful people.

Amongst the general public, entrepreneurs often get a bad rap. They are sometimes considered selfish, greedy and aggressive. But my experience at our seminar told me the exact opposite. Entrepreneurs are some of the most positive, caring people in the world . They are dreamers, yes, but they are dreamers that do.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the advancement of society relies greatly on the work of entrepreneurs.

We should take much more pride in what we do.

Charisma. A Vital Skill to Develop.

We all know people in business who exhibit tremendous personal charisma.

They exude an aura, an energy that those around them find highly attractive, even intensely magnetic.

This personal force allows them to lead people easily, persuade sales prospects and enables them to make large amounts of money.

Now most people assume that this charisma is natural – you’re either born with it or you’re not.

I think they’re wrong. I think charisma can be developed by almost any entrepreneur, and I believe doing so can have an extraordinarily positive effect on your success in business.

So how can you develop mesmerizing charisma?

You need only focus on three areas:

1. Enthusiasm.

People who are highly passionate about their work captivate others. When they talk with delight about an idea, business or product those around them are drawn into their way of thinking. The fact is most people are ambivalent about what they do, even by their own ideas for their business. So when they suggest to others a new thought or direction it often has no power to persuade. The same idea however expressed with enormous enthusiasm immediately becomes more attractive and is usually taken more seriously.

2. Expertise.

Very few people are experts at their industry. Most stop serious study as soon as they graduate from college or university and even those that continue to learn about their field do so in a haphazard, half hearted way. But those rare entrepreneurs that endlessly learn more about their industry eventually find that they know much more about their field than everyone around them.

When they express that immense knowledge and understanding in meetings or sales presentations it is often mesmerizing to those in the room. Who hasn’t at times been in awe of somebody’s deep knowledge of their field? It is a highly attractive trait.

3. Certainty.

We live in an age of ever increasing complexity, caused by fast technological advancement, increasingly global markets, and more intense competition. As our own industry gets more complex, if we don’t continuously update our skills and knowledge we begin to slip a bit behind the cutting edge. When this occurs our sense of certainty that we are right declines. We become more unsure of ourselves, which quickly erodes our charisma.

Certainty is also an attitude, and all attitudes can become cultivated merely by focusing on developing them. When you deliberately strive to behave with certainty it soon becomes your normal way of thinking. As advertising legend Donny Deutch amusingly entitled his autobiography, “Often Wrong, Never In Doubt”.

As long as it’s not taken to extremes of dogmatic or bombastic behaviour, this sense of certainty is very charismatic.

So those are the primary elements of charisma, as I see it. Note that none of them are difficult to develop in your life. Indeed by merely increasing each of the three elements by just 20% you can become vastly more charismatic.

The epitome of charisma was of course Steve Jobs. He was famous for creating what became known in Silicon Valley as his ‘Reality distortion field.” He exhibited so much charisma when attempting to persuade others that they would be fully in agreement with him while in his presence, but in the hours following would realize the absurdity of many of his assertions, once they escaped his ‘field’.

How did Jobs exude such captivating charisma?

Enthusiasm. Expertise. Certainty.

Getting Your Mind Right.

In business there’s a lot of talk about strategies for making more money.

But not enough about getting your mind into a state where it is highly effective.

That’s a big mistake, because it’s only when an entrepreneur’s mind is centered, focused and clear that we can achieve at a high level.

Haven’t you had days when you just weren’t thinking clearly at work? Times when you weren’t performing at your best, for no other reason than that your mind wasn’t in the right place?

For most entrepreneurs this negative or distracted mind state occurs regularly, maybe every week or so.

It can be very costly too: we can make bad decisions, speak unkindly to our staff, or just not get much stuff done.

As harmful as this way of being is, the good news is that it can be easily fixed, with a simple technique I developed recently.

I call it The Two Reminders.

As you get ready for work, take a couple of minutes to sit with a pen and pad and just think about these two ideals:

1. Ideal Person.

What kind of person do you aspire to be? What are the character traits that you would most like to exhibit to others? What kind of ways would you like to think?

Typical answers might include: calm, focused, happy, uplifting, clever, inspiring, kind, effective, a top performer, creative, optimistic, efficient.

Spend a few moments each day seeing yourself as that kind of person.

2. Ideal Business.

What do you want your business to look like? What kind of services are you providing, and of what quality?

How do you want to come across to customers? How much money do you want to make? What makes your company different from the rest?

Think about your company as you would like it to be. Just for a minute or two.

Now, go and behave like you are indeed that ideal person, running that type of business.

The Two Reminders are so powerful because we often forget that when we get our inner self right, our outer circumstances soon change for the better.

But if all we do is work, without first focusing on who we want to be, then our results are usually ordinary.

Why Entrepreneurs Should Behave Like Sport Stars.

I often ask myself the following question:

What will the top business leaders be doing in 50 years time?

I figure if I can guess that, and start doing those things now, I should lead the pack over the next couple of decades.

Let me give you one of my answers, it may well help you build a better business, faster.

I believe that the elite business people in 50 years will train like sports stars.

In the following 3 ways:

1. They will use the mental training techniques currently used by sport stars.

For example, almost every major Olympian today regularly rehearses in their mind, seeing themselves performing perfectly.

This mental rehearsal has been shown in countless studies to improve performance.

So why don’t we in business world do the same? Is it not likely that it could improve our performance in sales presentations, time management and our interaction with clients?

Of course it would. The brain is a magnificent computer that can be programmed much like any other computer.

Just read books on neuroplasticty like ‘The Brain That Changes Itself’ or ‘Rewire Your Brain’ for examples of how deliberate imaging of superb performance can literally change the structure of the brain and improve our performance.

When you think about it, it’s crazy every ambitious business person isn’t using these techniques daily. I certainly do.

2. They will use focusing statements like top sport stars do.

Focusing statements are short, sharp summaries that many top sports men and women use to remind themselves of what they need to focus on, just before they perform.

For example, the great baseball hitter Alex Rodriguez, uses this focusing statement : “I hit the ball solid with an accelerated bat head.”

For a sprinter it may be something like, “Stay low, stay relaxed.”

For a football player it may be a sentence as simple as the following: “Confidence and aggression.”

The bottom line is that focusing statements like these have been found to be highly effective for all manner of sport stars. They concentrate your mind on what matters and take it away from negativity and distracting thoughts.

Couldn’t every entrepreneur get value out of using one of these focusing statements?

You bet they could.

3. They will learn to relax like sport stars.

The top sports players all value relaxation and down time. They take their breaks seriously, because they are intimately aware of how overwork harms future performance.

They make sure each break is a quality break. They monitor their sleep patterns, ensuring they get enough rest. And critically, they work in quick intense bursts, followed by recuperation.

Now you may think that you couldn’t possibly behave like that in the business world.

But according to the Human Performance Institute in Florida, you’d be mistaken. In over a decade of studies, Dr. Jim Loehr and his team have categorically shown that business executives perform best when mimicking the work patterns of sporting stars: Intense work followed by frequent short breaks and lots of sleep.

So there you have it.

Three ways you can improve your business performance by using the techniques of sporting champions.

Try them. You may not win a gold medal, but in business you can still win plenty of gold.

Worried You Might Not Be A Great Business Person?

There’s a huge fear amongst those who start their own business.

That they are not good enough.

This fear is exacerbated by the media constantly featuring entrepreneurs who seem to make billions overnight.

Every second article seems to be about some new business superstar that grows their company from 2 people in a garage to 2000 people speedily and effortlessly.

It’s hard not to compare ourselves to these geniuses and feel that, well, maybe we don’t have what it takes.

This is a huge mistake.

If you’re feeling a little unconfident about your chances in business, it’s important to remember the following points.

1. ALL BUSINESS SKILLS ARE LEARNABLE.

There’s nothing magical about business – it’s a craft. If you don’t know how to do something you can learn it. Anything.

Don’t ever be intimidated by someone who shows outstanding abilities in entrepreneurship – rest assured they weren’t born a corporate titan.

If they learnt how to excel in any area then you can too.

2. KAIZEN IS ALL THAT MATTERS.

You may have heard of the Japanese concept of Kaizen – that small and never ending improvements lead eventually to greatness.

It’s time to live this philosophy, every day at work. Look for little things you can do just that little bit better. It’s important to remember that excellence is not about perfection, it’s about self correction.

3. GENIUS IS A MYTH.

As the world’s leading researcher on high performance, Anders Ericsson conclusively showed everyone who seems to be a genius actually just worked harder and longer and had an excellent teacher. There’s not a single example (other than autistic savants) of anybody just being brilliant at something without long periods of hard training and self improvement. Not Mozart. Not Kasparov. Not Einstein. Not anyone.

(For mountains of research that backs this up read the following books: Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, The Genius in All Of Us by David Shenk  and The Talent Code By Daniel Coyne).

Yep, the research is voluminous and conclusive. You CAN be a great entrepreneur.

But it will take a total commitment to learning. And, unlike what the media usually portrays, slow and steady improvements over time.

This path to business success may not sound exciting, but believe me, the results will be.

The Unemployed Genius

I saw an amazing thing this week.

A small poster on a telephone pole, written by somebody asking for a job.

Now we’ve all seen a million of those, but this one had one important difference.

The headline was as follows:

FIND ME A JOB AND I’LL PAY YOU $1000.

Isn’t that brilliant?

In just 9 words he had shown how special he was.

He showed he was highly creative.

That he was super keen to work.

That he understood advanced communications.

That he believed in himself enough to put his money where his mouth is.

And perhaps most importantly, he showed he understood one of the great principles: that in this world, if you want to get
something you have to give something first.

I’m sure that guy thought he’d just written a job ad.

In fact, he wrote a superb lesson on how to be successful in life.

The 3 Missing Ingredients of Success

Success is simple.

If you are not achieving at the level you’d like, it’s almost certainly because of at least one of these 3 factors.

1. CLARITY.

Most people aren’t totally clear on what they want.

Sure they have a vague idea about a general direction, but that’s not enough.

You need to get absolutely crystal clear about your goals, and create a step by step path to making progress towards them.

You don’t have to know every step, just the next few. Once you travel a little further down the path, you’ll usually work out what to do next.

If you’re unhappy with your progress, the first solution is to sit down and re-clarify your objectives.

2. PRODUCTIVITY.

There are some people who are clear about what they want, but they just don’t do much to achieve it.

We live in a physical world, which functions by cause and effect, action and re-action. Unless you take lots of actions, significant change can’t occur. Conversely when you do act productively and proactively, it’s astounding how much progress you can make over time.

I don’t think it’s a matter of intelligence either; it’s more about choosing those actions that maximise results, and exerting enough energy to move things forward.

3. BELIEF.

If you have Clarity and Productivity, you will usually massively outperform the average person. These two alone are formidable forces.

But occasionally people who exhibit both still fail. When this happens it can often be attributed to their lack of belief in themselves.

To achieve anything worthwhile you will confront countless obstacles and hardships.

The unsuccessful person is taken by surprise by these obstacles, and begins to doubt themselves.

The high achieving person understands that temporary failure is the very fabric of success. They know that nothing of worth was ever achieved in the history of mankind without initial failure. Ever.

When you choose to really believe in yourself, it affects your results in two profound ways.

You take more powerful actions, which inevitably lead to superior results.

And the people around you respect you more. They sense that you are a dynamic, effective, confident force to be reckoned with, and are more likely to want to help and support you.

So if you’re not satisfied with your success in business or life, take a few minutes to think about which of these three ingredients you may be missing.

Then each day when you wake up, resolve to focus on that area.

Pretty soon, your new focus will become a new habit, and that new habit will create a new destiny.

Lessons from a Great Baseball Player

I just heard Cal Ripken give a speech.

For those who don’t follow the sport, he’s one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

Astoundingly, he played in the major league for almost 17 years straight without missing a single game.

He was voted Most Valuable Player in the entire league twice.

He knows a lot about succeeding.

So I thought I’d put down my summary of Cal’s thoughts on what it takes to be highly successful:

1. The right approach – right attitude, a personal mission statement, and an honest and simple approach.

2. Strong will.

3. Passion – it is critical you choose to love what you do.

4. Love to compete – you must set yourself challenges constantly, both internal and external.

5. Consistency – constantly adjust and re-adjust to solve problems.

6. Conviction – thick skin, be stubborn, see things through to the end.

7. Strength – physical and mental. Constantly get new information to improve.

8. Life management – seek to create control in each area.

9. Personal life – nobody can say they have it all worked out, but it demands daily attention.

For the next month, I’ll have Cal’s points posted up on my bathroom mirror as a reminder.

It could be worthwhile for you to do the same.