The Silent Killer

You don’t see it; and yet it lurks. Unfettered. Unabated. Rampant.

It kills everything you value: SilentKiller

  • Your productivity
  • Your creativity
  • Your attention
  • Your time
  • Your relationships
  • Your sanity

Distraction. Distraction kills.

Every three minutes of the day, you suffer an interruption; or you interrupt yourself. And every time you are interrupted or distracted, it takes (read this as ‘costs’) you 11 minutes of your precious time to refocus. You don’t need to be a math wizard to see the impact: Not only do you feel as if you never really get caught up; you never really do.

Here are 5 ways to beat the killer at its own game:

1. Work in block time. Science shows that you work most effectively in uninterrupted 60 to 90 minute blocks of time in which you do just one thing. The operative words: uninterrupted; one thing.

2. Turn off your chimes and alerts. You control these. And unless you’re working on a space launch or you’re on call to deliver the next royal princess, it’s not likely that every single message or piece of information in real time is absolutely necessary.

3. Schedule your social media time. Social media is critically important to the success of most enterprises. But it’s an easy place to hide out when you’re feeling bored or stressed or aimless. (Or suffering a FarmVille detox.) So schedule the block of time when you’ll ‘do’ your social media; then do it; and move on.

4. Turn off your smartphone. Barack and Vladimir have ‘people’ who field their calls. But your world will not lapse into darkness if you miss a few. And the respite you enjoy will yield a 100 fold.

5. Go tech free. For an evening or a day or a week. Get off the grid entirely. Soak in the silence. Read, write, reflect, create. Be – really be – with yourself… and with those you love.

Distraction kills focus.

Focus is power. Your power.

Protect it. Defend it. Take it back.

The Paradox of Connection

He sat at the bar, a Guinness to his left, next to a neatly stacked sheaf of paper. With an expensive looking pen in his hand, he wrote. Longhand. Slowly. Deliberately. With care. From time to time, he would stop and appear to ponder and reflect, sip from his Guinness, and write some more. A letter clearly; to whom, I couldn’t say.

He wasn’t more than 30, clean cut, nicely dressed. But this behavior… so aberrant; so weird!

No tablet. No computer. No smartphone.

Just a pen and some paper. (And a Guinness.)

So jarring to us was this sight that we called him over to our table as he was leaving the pub.

Barney was his name.

Barney was a visitor to our little village in Co. Cork. He grandfather had bought a place some 50 years ago. And Barney liked to come to enjoy the solitude, he said.

“And what about this (weird) writing thing?” I inquired.

“I like how it feels,” he said. “I like how I get to really think about what I want to say. I love that it takes time. And that it goes off in the post; and someone gets to open it and hold it in their hands and read it.”

We had a wonderful conversation with Barney on those lost arts of writing and connecting and deep communication that have been subsumed by email and text messaging.

Barney is a rarity (an oddity?) indeed.

In last week’s Wall Street Journal, there was a primer on Snapchat, Periscope and Meerkat, wonderful additions, the author suggested, to the ever-growing panoply of methods to communicate what you’re doing and how you’re feeling at any given moment.quotescover-JPG-27

I am a lover of technology. It allows me to live and work and serve my clients anywhere in the world I might me. I don’t want to be a Barney. But I do want to connect powerfully, meaningfully and deeply. And that’s difficult to do when we’re always on.

It is the great paradox of connection: That more hyper-connected we are, the more scattered and fragmented and disconnected we become.

So here are some recommendations on how to reclaim a sense of well-being, without resorting to being a Barney:

  • Pick a primary mode of communication. Unless you live in a little village in Ireland and have no clients or business interests to serve, it won’t likely be the post. But there is nothing more disconcerting to have a chain of communication that starts as a message on LinkedIn, continues as an email, and then morphs into a series of texts or Facebook messages. Putting aside the “paper trail” necessary in business communication, this is just crazy making and an invitation to error. You teach people how to treat you and how to work with you. Teach them a way that leaves you sane.
  • Be deliberate. Just because our technology allows you to communicate instantly, doesn’t mean you have to. You can take the time, like Barney, to slow down, to think and reflect on exactly what it is you want to say. It’s ok to step back, allow the dust to settle, formulate your thoughts, and get clear on your desired outcomes.
  • Don’t check your email (or smartphone) constantly. On average, folks check 150 times a day. There’s a huge time cost to doing this. Recent research suggests that we are interrupted (or interrupt ourselves) every 3 minutes of the day; and that it takes at least 11 minutes for us to refocus, to re-attend to the task that we were doing. If this is true, not only do you have the sensation, the feeling, that you can never catch up, you actually never really do!
  • Don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Your email inbox is someone else’s agenda for your day. If you are clear on what you value most and what your high value targets are for your day, do those things first. No one dies if your email waits until mid-morning.
  • Go off the grid. Experience what is like to not be hyper-connected. Connect with yourself; connect with those you love. Have a tech-free dinner; a tech-free weekend; maybe even a tech-free vacation. Talk! Read, write, reflect. Reclaim that still point within you. In that stillness is your power.

Our businesses and our lives rise and fall on our relationships. And as humans, we are hard-wired for connection. But real connection doesn’t happen in a 140 characters or via Snapchat.

I don’t want to be Barney. But he’s definitely onto something.

Why Mindfulness Matters

There’s a lot of buzz around the word mindfulness. In fact, it’s really quite in vogue in biz these days.

It seems that everyone wants to jump on the mindfulness bandwagon… because the research shows that mindfulness actually fuels focus, engagement, creativity, productivity… and profit. quotescover-JPG-23

But mindfulness is not a fad. It’s been around for a long, long time. And it’s not a gimmick.

It’s a way of being, a way of life.

We spend so much of our time wringing our hands about the past; and worrying about the future. We are constantly bombarded by distractions. We race through our lives. We dwell in a state of continuous partial attention.

Mindfulness is about slowing down, being present, showing up in this moment; in this one and only moment.

Mindfulness means focusing. Not only on what matters most; but, even more, focusing on what is before us in the here and now.

And happily mindfulness isn’t complicated (it’s simple, as Jim Rohn might have said… simple though perhaps not easy).

Stop. Stop right now. Whatever you are doing. Just stop. Put down your smartphone, turn away from your monitor. And just breathe. That’s it. Just breathe.

That’s the doorway to the present; that’s the doorway to mindfulness.

That’s the doorway to your real power.


Why You Need A Real One

What would it be like if you could attract – effortlessly – all of the business that you wanted and could handle? Think of the income that you could make… and the freedom that you would enjoy!

What would it be like if you had no competition? TheBrandCalledYou

Well the truth is…. that you don’t…so long as you have a brand strategy.

A REAL brand strategy.

Most service providers think that their branding is about their resume or their areas of expertise; some think it’s their logo or their letterhead or their fancy web design.

Most show up in the marketplace looking (and sounding) like everyone else… they advertise like everyone else; they network like everyone else. They spend thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars or euros on print advertising, online advertising, web design, lead generation and pay per clicks…and guess who ends ups making the money? That’s right, the folks who sell the ads.

Most think that they need to make a lot of noise to be heard above the din of what they think is their competition; and when that doesn’t work, they believe that they need to compete on price. They cut their fees. And guess what? Competition based on price never works for a service professional. It’s a zero sum game…because someone will always undercut you.

Most aren’t making the money they deserve; and most aren’t enjoying the freedom that their professions should allow them.

Because most don’t have a brand strategy; in fact most don’t have a real marketing and selling strategy (by that I mean system) at all.

But you don’t have to be like most.

If you get clear about:

What makes you different, the unique value that you bring;
• What your target market is, and who it is within that market that you’re meant to serve;
• And what exactly you do to help your ideal client within that market solve his or her most pressing problem,

Then you will stand out in the market. And you will succeed beyond your wildest imagination.

You will know exactly where your ideal clients are; where they hang out; and who they hang out with.

You will attract them to you effortlessly because you will see them; and they will see you.

You’ll spend a whole lot less; you’ll make a whole lot more; and your business and your life will be a lot more fun.

That’s the power of a real brand strategy.


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