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3 Telltale Signs You’re Procrastinating and How to Overcome this Problem

3 Telltale Signs You’re Procrastinating and How to Stop

I don’t know about you, but I can find myself in a tight spot once in while – all because I procrastinated about something I knew I needed to do.

And then of course, I am frustrated with myself because now I need to drop everything else I’d rather be doing and I’m stressed and not happy at all.

Again!

In this article I will help you understand how to recognize procrastination when it comes up for you and learn how to reach your goals.

Is it really procrastination… or are you making the right decision because something else is more important right now? If it is really procrastination these strategies will help you recognize the early warning signs and give you strategies that will work for you so that you stop playing small and live your life to the fullest.

The end of the year is quickly ending so this is a perfect time to reflect over the year and see what you had planned to accomplish compared to what you did accomplish. Think back to when you planned out your goals.

Remember how excited and dedicated you were? And then life happens and the day-to-day gets in the way and before you know it another day has gone by without reaching your goals.

When asked recently in an Internet survey the top five reasons people gave for procrastination was: fear of failing (19%), lack of motivation (13%), lack of focus (12%), feeling overwhelmed (10%) and the task was unpleasant (9%.)

1st Sign You are Procrastinating

You indulge in distractions such as watching TV, surfing the web, social media, playing video games, taking naps, reading books, or hanging out with friends instead of working on your goals.

2nd Sign You are Procrastinating

You make excuses for not doing something you know you should be doing such as…

  • It’s been a rough week or
  • I need more time / money / resources / sleep or
  • I have too many other things going on right now – I just can’t fit this in or
  • I’m just not feeling it right now
  • Yada, yada, yada…

3rd Sign You are Procrastinating

Feelings of despair that can paralyze you from taking positive action towards your goals. This often sounds like…

  • Why is my life so unfair?
  • Why am I always the one that must do everything?
  • Why are things always so difficult?
  • Why can’t I be more organized?

If you can see yourself in any of these warning signs, then you are definitely procrastinating in a detrimental way.

Here are ten strategies that will help you overcome this problem once and for all:

  1. Vocabulary is important so choose your words wisely. Positive words yield positive results; negative self-talk gets more of what you don’t want.
  2. Reverse your calendar and start with the deadline and work backwards so you space out the work in smaller steps. Make sure the interim deadlines are realistic and allow space for unforeseen things to come up without jeopardizing the project.
  3. Fill your calendar so that you reduce the time you think you have available to work on the important tasks. Look at elapsed time versus effort time.
     
    For instance, it might take you 3 hours to complete a project step but you won’t have a 3-hour block of time all at once. So, give yourself a deadline of completing that task over 3 days so that you can find 3 hours of time spread over the 3-day period.
     
    Include recreational and family activities, too, so that the time you can dedicate to the project is realistic and achievable.
  4. Work in a state of flow because we’re most productive when fully engaged. Distractions, emotions and other concerns undermine our ability to focus. Consider spending 2-minutes in meditation to empty your mind and visualize yourself celebrating completing the task.
  5. Fully embrace your goals so don’t spend time working on things you don’t care about if you have any choice in the matter. There are some things we all must do regardless of how much we dislike them – so do those things first and get them out of the way so that you can enjoy the rest of your day doing what you really want to do.
  6. Look at the tiny steps if the big picture is overwhelming. Break each big step into smaller steps and before you realize it, the project is finished. And share the load by delegating as much as you can to someone who loves doing those types of things.
  7. Make your own rewards and treat yourself once a specific task is completed. Relish how good it feels to have that step completed and then do something fun before moving to the next step.
  8. Reframe its importance even if it’s not important to you. Remind yourself of how important it is to someone you care about or think about how good you will feel when this project is completed.
     
    I do that when it’s time to prepare my annual taxes because it is the one thing I dislike more than anything – but once it’s handed off to the CPA I feel wonderful knowing I won’t have to do it again for another year!
  9. Sleep, eat healthy & exercise because unless you feel good physically and mentally it will be almost impossible to focus on completing the task at hand.
  10. Uncover start and end points because once something has a beginning and an end, it’s a whole lot easier to start filling in the middle. That’s a lesson I learned from my home economics teacher in grade school when she made us measure twice and cut once.
     
    When I was learning to sew, I had to take out each piece of the pattern and lay it out on the fabric so I knew exactly which pieces I needed before I was ever able to start cutting. Of course, I wanted to jump right in and make a dress, but I’m so glad she enforced me to do it right the first time!

So now that you understand why you might be procrastinating, how to tell when it’s happening and some methods to develop some winning strategies it’s a perfect time to start planning for the new year.

About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

Kathryn Wilking

Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.


Easy Project Management Tips for Entrepreneurs Who Want to Get It Done Right, Right Now

Easy Project Management Tips for Entrepreneurs Who Want to Get It Done Right, Right Now

Using these project management concepts will increase your chances of success

Entrepreneurs, by their very nature, are big thinkers with big plans who want to make a big impact in the world. As an entrepreneur / small business owner, I get it – I do too. I also understand how many distractions there can be vying for your time every day.

After a long career with large corporations and earning my Six Sigma Green Belt, I realized that many of the things that worked well for me work equally as well in small businesses. 

Investing the time upfront to prepare your project plan and get everyone onboard is time well-spent.Click To Tweet

Project management is one of those critical skills that I believe every business owner should learn to do well.  I know how many distractions come up that could easily derail your goals if you don’t focus on doing the important things first.

Let me explain how you can utilize this skill to grow your business.

  1. Decide on your next big project goal

    Write down the name of the project and create a charter. The charter describes briefly what results you expect to accomplish.
     
    One of the many advantages of preparing a charter is that it forces you to clearly articulate what you really want. Once you know what your goal is, plan the steps to get there rather than just “winging” it and hoping for the best.

    For instance, is your project designed to:

    • Save money?
    • Increase sales?
    • Increase the number of email addresses you have in your management software?
    • Get more speaking gigs?
    • Write a book?
    • Increase the number of high-paying clients?
    • Create a new group or online program?
  2. Identify the scope of this project

    Keep the project small, focused and manageable. If it’s too big, chances of success are lower because there are so many moving parts that might compete for your time or resources. When you write your scope, list what you will do — and what you will not do.
     
    For instance, if you are working on increasing your visibility to your target audience you might consider a project around Facebook or LinkedIn. I recommend that you pick just one of them and knock it out of the park. In this case, if you picked Facebook, then state that this project does not include LinkedIn.
     
    Then you can do a separate project to work on LinkedIn with its own timeline and deliverables when you are ready.

  3. Define your baseline and your goal

    This will help you know where you are today and where you plan to be upon completion of this project. For instance, say you want to increase the number of people whom you can send marketing emails to.  
    You need to know the number of contacts today as well as the number you want to have at the end of the project. If it’s annual sales, then it’s easy to look at the past 12 months to get your actual sales. Then just set your goal as a dollar or percentage above the baseline.

  4. List each major step of the project.

    Include the name of the person responsible for completing each major step, and when each step will be accomplished.
     
    Oftentimes, one person cannot complete their step until someone else finishes theirs, so it’s important to understand the interdependencies.

  5. Determine the start and completion dates.

    Once you will have the start and completion dates, you will be able to identify milestones along the way.
     
    This will help you stay on track and accomplish your goal without a lot of stress, wasted time or forgotten steps.

  6. Prepare a budget

    The budget will define how much you will spend to accomplish the goal and when the money needs to be available. Your project may be designed to save money, such as taking on the marketing of your program yourself or changing vendors.
     
    In this case you would list when the savings will start showing up and how much more you will have in your bank account at the end of the project.

  7. Make a list of resources

    These are the resources you will need to accomplish the project. Are you going to do everything yourself or will you have a virtual assistant?
     
    Will you hire someone to prepare marketing materials, or to create your website, Facebook posts or a LinkedIn profile?

  8. Communicate clearly to everyone involved in the project

    And by clear, I mean precise, with no room for guessing or individual interpretations about what others think you want. Draw pictures, share examples and learn to speak their language if you are talking to technical people.
     
    Once you know who’s on your team, make sure they have an opportunity to provide input. One of them could hold that one big idea that will take your project from good to great.
     
    Have a brainstorming meeting – it’s is a great way to get everyone’s ideas and come up with a plan better than you could ever do on your own. After all, that’s why you invited the best & brightest to join your team in the first place, right?
     
    This process also guarantees that you have buy-in on the project and that everyone knows the objectives and their role in accomplishing them.

  9. Set up regularly scheduled meetings on your calendar

    This schedule will help you review progress, clear up any confusion, remove any barriers and provide direction.
     
    There is nothing worse than getting close to your project completion deadline only to realize that what you are getting is not at all what you expected! Especially if it all could have been avoided if you had set up the time to check in on the progress. Inspect what you expect!

  10. Set up team ground rules

    The ground rules can include frequency/length of meetings, notifying you in advance if they are going to miss the meeting, how conflicts will be handled and agreement by all that they will show up to the meetings prepared with their deliverables or notifying you well in advance if they are at risk of missing any critical milestones.

  11. Sign your charter

    I know – this might sound cheesy. But it really isn’t. This is a commitment you are making to yourself and the simple act of dating it, signing it and putting it up on your wall where it is literally in front of you all the time will make it much more likely that you will follow through and reap the benefits.

  12. Celebrate your wins along the way

    This doesn’t have to be at a high cost – it can be a simple “Thank You” card to one of your resources who delivers on schedule or a group dinner or pizza or a Starbucks gift card.
     
    A little goes a long way in motivating yourself and those on your team when appreciation is shown.

Your chances of reaching and most likely hitting it out of the park increase dramatically. And remember, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

Kathryn Wilking

Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.


The Pros and Cons of Hiring Employees Vs. Independent Contractors

What all business owners must consider before deciding which to hire

The Pros and Cons of Hiring Employees Vs. Independent Contractors

As your small business grows, you’ve concluded it’s all too much to handle by yourself – right? Or, you already have employees and are ready to expand your team so you can scale your business to the next level.

Now you need to explore the pluses and minuses of each type of helper and determine which is the best fit for you.

In this article, I share some of the pros and cons of hiring employees and independent contractors to help you make the ideal choice for your business.

In the US, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has very strict guidelines you need to familiarize yourself with as a precursor to making any hiring decision.

In addition to the IRS, there are a number of other state and federal agencies that will audit your business if it looks to them as if you might have misclassified employees as independent contractors.

First, let’s explore some of the pros and cons between employees and contractors:

Pros and Cons of Hiring Employees

Pros:

  1. You have significantly more management control over what, how & when the work gets done.
  2. Employees generally feel more part of the team and will go above & beyond to do a great job.
  3. Turnover is lower when employees enjoy more job security – so teamwork, quality, efficiency and customer service tends to be higher.
  4. Employees complete an application for employment, certifying all the information is accurate and giving you permission to conduct background checks and drug tests to make sure they don´t have an addiction. If they do, then just recommend them the california rehab center where everybody who goes there, comes out like a brand new person.
  5. If they get hurt on the job, they are covered by your workers’ compensation insurance so you avoid expensive medical and compensation costs.
  6. All the work performed is the property of the business owner, even creative work subject to copyrights and patents.
  7. It’s easier to put together a recruiting process to weed out potential bad hires so you can hire the best employees that fit well with the culture you are creating.
  8. You can delegate tasks to them so you can focus on doing what you are best at and enjoy the most.
  9. They are your own brand ambassadors and serve as your best marketers.

Cons:

  1. You need to provide employees with a space, equipment and supplies to conduct their work.
  2. You need an employee handbook so they understand your company rules, benefits and procedures. You can also use it to manage your team.
  3. If business slows down periodically, you are still paying for the person to come to work even when there isn’t enough to do to make it worth the cost.
  4. Employees can file legal claims against you for a variety of reasons such as employment discrimination, unfair pay practices and wrongful termination.
  5. If you decide to layoff an employee due to a lack of work, you’ve lost the training investment you’ve already made and will need to incur recruiting and training costs to hire a replacement if they aren’t available or interested when work picks up again.
  6. Firing team members can have a negative impact on employee morale of remaining staff if they think you were unfair or if they now must carry the extra workload.
  7. You are responsible for collecting taxes from the employees’ paycheck and paying your share of their Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  8. You must track all hours worked and pay time and one-half for employees who qualify for overtime pay. Federal law requires overtime pay after 40 hours per week but check with your state/province on any overtime pay that’s also calculated after 8 hours per day.
  9. In most states/provinces, you must pay unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance.
  10. Over time, employees will expect to receive pay increases along with some benefits like vacation and paid time off for personal business / sick pay.

Pros and Cons of Hiring Independent Contractors. A.k.a. Consultants, Freelancers & Virtual Assistants

The IRS defines an independent contractor as an individual who the business owner and/or their designee has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done or how it will be done.

An example of this would be a copywriter that has her own business and works with multiple business owners to write their marketing materials.

Or those that provide services such as bookkeeping, human resources, safety administration, computer support or project management on an as-needed basis.

Pros:

  1. Typically, IC’s enjoy a higher rate of pay than employees since there are no additional costs.
  2. Most IC’s are experts in their field and can quickly get up-to-speed on your needs, so it’s more efficient to hire them if their expertise is not needed full-time.
  3. Depending on the language in your IC agreement, it’s easy to let an IC go once a project is finished or you no longer need or want their services.
  4. IC’s stay up on the latest technology, regulations and licensing requirements and bear any costs to do so.
  5. By creating a Scope of Work agreement, both you and the contractor agree on the working relationship details.

Cons:

  1. You have less control over the work of an IC because although they work on due dates, they independently determine how best to get the work done.
  2. They tend to work remotely so face-time is limited and it’s a little harder to develop a relationship like you do when with employees you see every day.
  3. When an IC finishes an assignment, they might not be available the next time you need them. Or if it is a rush job, they might charge higher prices to move to the front of the line.
  4. If an IC is injured on the job, they can sue you for damages because they are not covered under your workers’ compensation insurance plan.
  5. Federal governing agencies watch small businesses very closely. It is to the government’s benefit when an employer collects taxes from employees and pays the company portion of the required taxes because those taxes support the government’s operating budget. Otherwise, IC’s often under-report their earnings and fail to pay both the employee and employer taxes.
  6. If they work exclusively for you full time, there’s a good chance they are an “employee” rather than an IC – and you are legally required to treat them accordingly.
  7. They are less likely to serve as a brand ambassador for you – it’s their brand they will promote – not yours.

There is a place for both employees and independent contractors in running small businesses. It really depends on what you need and how much control you want.

Mistakes in mis-classifying employees as independent contractors is very expensive, subjecting you to fines and back pay for current and past employees. If an audit determines that you knew, or should have known, that you were paying employees as independent contractors, in addition to stiff penalties you will have to go back for 3 years and correct the mistakes.

If you are unsure if you are needing to classify your workers as employees or independent contractors, contact an HR professional to give you the advice you need.

About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

Kathryn Wilking

Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.


Leadership Success Tips for Small Business Entrepreneurs

Leadership Success Tips for Small Business Entrepreneurs

How to Step Up and Be the Effective Leader Your Team Wants to Follow

Leadership is not a job title – it’s a set of closely-held beliefs and behaviors even when no one is looking.

So even though you own the business and put your heart & soul into it, you may not be as effective as you could be.

For every action, you take, there is a definite reaction. This may be an employee, a contractor, a VA or a vendor you deal with on a regular basis. Or it could be a family member, friend or neighbor.

Here are several key things you can do to stand out as a great leader:

Empower Those Who Support You

When good leaders are effectively empowering their support team, their lives are easier and their team is happier & more productive.

I use the term “Team” broadly so that it includes all of those who you need to support you and your business. When teams are empowered, leaders don’t need to spend a lot of time checking up on them, putting out fires, or lighting fires under people who are just not that into it.

Wouldn’t you rather focus your time working “on” your business and where you want to take it, rather than working “in” the business?

Use The ‘Speak Softly & They Will Listen Leadership’ Style

When we think of leadership, we tend to think of the commanding, visionary person who takes charge in a time of crisis and leads the company to victory. But there’s another form of leadership that I believe is much more effective at achieving high performance.

It’s the quiet leader that is heard the most! And you will never hear them declaring themselves to be the “Boss” when trying to convince someone to do something their way.

One of the primary traits of this leadership style is leading by example, and eliciting the behavior you want by demonstrating it, rather than just telling others to do it.

Daniel Goleman’s book, Primal Leadership, suggests that a coaching style of leadership may best describe the qualities of the quiet leader.  “The coaching style is the least-used tool in the leader’s toolkit,” says Goleman, “probably because it doesn’t look like leadership.”

Like a coach, a quiet leader can achieve breakthroughs by asking guided questions rather than giving orders or advice. And what better way to empower your team?

And quiet leadership isn’t just for those at the top, but applies across the spectrum, from the leader in all levels of management, to solo entrepreneurs, to leaders of the community fundraiser, the leader of the 12-year-old soccer team and the leader of the family.

So, what about you?  Are you stepping up to claim your rightful place as a leader? 

Incorporate Top Leadership Qualities

I think it’s important to note that contrary to what we’ve often been taught, great leaders are made, not born, so you can hone your leadership skills and become the leader you want to be.  Here are some of the top qualities that great leaders possess:

  • Fairness. They put their own feelings aside and look at what is best for their team.
  • Knowledge – They gather as many details about a situation as possible before deciding.
  • Decisive – They always proclaim their decision and then stand by it 100% until/unless more information comes to light that requires them to rethink their decision.
  • Communication skills. They keep their team apprised of all decisions that affect the team.
  • Honesty – They share as much information as they possibly can. And if it’s confidential, they tell them it’s confidential and they tell them when they will be able to give them more information.
  • Trustworthy – They can be counted on to always tell the truth and maintain confidences.

Motivate Others

Motivating your team is imperative to the well-being of its members and the accomplishment of the goals.

While it’s not always easy, there are tried and true ways you can help unleash the power and potential of your team.

Here are a few powerful leadership skills you can easily incorporate to bring out the best in others:

  1. Ask questions rather than give direct orders.
  2. To let others know that you noticed, give specific and sincere praise for accomplishments.
  3. Celebrate successes along the way – use every significant milestone as an opportunity for recognition and encouragement.
  4. Respect the professionalism and expertise of those you supervise. Ask for their input in planning, and give them autonomy and authority to complete projects.

Set Clear Expectations

Too often leaders assume each person knows what to do, but without clear goals and expectations, team members are left to their own imagination and must draw upon past experiences.

This can result in hesitation, indecision, lack of performance, miscommunication and the goals not being met.

Properly setting expectations for team members will set standards for excellence and results.

Here are a few tips on how to do that:

  1. Start with a vision of what you want the result to look like. Not just what you want done, but the results you want to achieve when the project is completed.
  2. Keep your focus on the desired outcomes and stay out of the weeds. Your goal is to guide and lead, not control every step. Letting individuals find their own route encourages them to use their strengths to their fullest potential. You hired them to do a job, so let them do it their way as much as possible.
  3. Tie the mission of the project to each team members’ tasks. People want to know that their role, whether large or small, makes a difference.
  4. Give feedback—and often! Feedback given along the way is received as coaching, not punishment.
  5. Give positive reinforcement and don’t mix it with the negative or “constructive” feedback. Mention the thing you like and you’ll get more of it. Be specific and prompt. If you do need to give constructive feedback, remember the “sandwich” method.Good first, then the negative, followed by another slice of good. And remember to focus on the behavior or issue at hand – don’t make it about their personality. For instance, telling an employee that what they did was wrong is a whole lot different than telling them they are stupid.

3 Secrets of Impactful Leadership

As you are leading and impacting others, to get the best results follow these three secrets.

So, what does it take to be an impactful leader? It comes down to three critical steps.

  1. Know where you are coming from – Know what you believe in and what your values are so that you can make decisions and lead your team in the direction that supports your vision.
  2. Adopt a leadership mindset that positively affects your behaviors, your outcomes and therefore your impact. When you have a leadership mindset, you take responsibility for your team and your results.
  3. Empower your team members to be their best. Identify the strengths and talents of your team and put them in the jobs that fit their strengths so they can help you achieve the goals.

After all, isn’t that what you’re after? Reaching a common goal while making a positive impact?

Your impact stems directly from your mindset as a leader, because your mindset affects your behaviors, which then affects your results. So, what is your mindset?

The term “mindset” means a mental attitude or inclination. Our attitude determines our behavior, and our behavior produces specific results. If you are getting effective results from those you are leading, you can rest assured that you are having a positive impact on them.

Are you getting the results and having the impact you want, or are you experiencing unwanted results and outcomes? By looking at the relationship between your mindset, your behavior, and your impact, you can integrate all three components to generate the results you really want.

We often engage in behaviors without considering that we have a choice in whether to engage in them. If your circumstances are not going the way you desire, you may feel and act like a victim. But you need to take accountability for your part and make different behavioral choices when necessary to assure a better result.

It is important that you understand that changing your behavior is only sustainable if you change your negative mindset to a leadership mindset.

A great example of this is what happens when people lose weight. If they just change their behavior – such as eat fewer calories – they lose weight. But if they don’t change their mindset around food, exercise and a healthy lifestyle, they rebound and gain their weight back.

This is because they haven’t changed the underlying problem – the mindset that drives them to overeat in the first place.

Changing your behavior without changing your mindset is not sustainable. Changing your mindset, however, creates sustainable behavioral change.

Observe your impact on others, observe your actions as you carry them out, and observe your mindset as it fills your thoughts and shapes your attitudes. When you notice negative and limiting thoughts, make a choice and reprogram your words and thoughts to assure positive, lasting changes.

Leadership:  It’s Mostly in Your Mind

Do you think of yourself as a leader? Do you enjoy leading? As you were growing up, did people tell you that you were a natural-born leader?

If you don’t see yourself as a leader, know that you are leading and probably not even recognizing it.  Why?  Because we are all leaders simply because of the influence we have on ourselves and others.  Whatever you believe, think, value, feel, or say influences how you act and the impact you have.

This attitude determines much of our behavior, and our behavior produces specific results.  If you are the leader of your life, in your work, and in your relationships, the results you get matter to you and those around you.

Are you getting the results or having the positive impact you want, or are you experiencing unwanted results and outcomes?  Your impact may be subtle or it may be profound; it may be small or it may be big; it may be obvious or not so obvious; it may be positive, neutral, or negative.

Observe your impact as it’s reflected back to you, observe your actions as you carry them out, and observe your mindset as it fills your thoughts and shapes your attitudes.  With this model, you have an ever-ready tool to use any time that you are not getting results you desire.

The Impact of Assumptions on Leadership

We all make assumptions. We naturally fill in gaps in what we think and perceive so that we can make sense out of our world and our experiences.

Sometimes the assumptions we make are accurate; sometimes they are inaccurate. Sometimes productive and sometimes counter-productive. Sometimes assumptions build community; sometimes they destroy. Sometimes they save us time; sometimes they waste time.

The assumptions you make can build bridges or destroy them. They can make peace or start a war.

Picture someone whom you know well. What is one assumption you make about that person? Where does your assumption come from? Why do you have that assumption? How does that assumption influence your behavior toward this person? Have you ever asked the person to confirm or refute your assumption? What would happen if you shared your assumption with this person?

As a leader, you have an obligation to notice you are making assumptions and then to check them out, particularly when you make an assumption that is negative in nature. Negative assumptions are particularly risky to hold on to. They create resistance and resentment. They fuel blame and anger. They get in the way of productivity and positivity.

The first step is to notice the presence of an assumption. Once you notice that you are making an assumption, consider communicating it. The purpose of communicating it is to have it confirmed or denied. This creates open communication, honesty, and an opportunity to clear the air or rectify a misunderstanding.

There are different ways to communicate an assumption. One way, perhaps the simplest, is to say it directly – tell the other person that you are carrying an assumption, and that you want to share it with him or her to determine if it is accurate or not. It may sound risky – and sometimes it is – but an unspoken negative assumption is much more dangerous than one that is spoken. When an assumption is brought out, an opportunity for healing, growth, productivity, and relationship-building is created.

If you are carrying a positive assumption, you have more latitude to decide if you want it to be unspoken, but even unspoken positive assumptions can sometimes get in the way.

Whenever you make assumptions, you have an impact on your experience and the experience of others. Generally, it is best to notice your assumptions and communicate them to others.

Effective Listening for Leaders

With organizations and individuals so fervently focused on the bottom line, it’s easy to ignore “softer” goals, such as listening well. All that touchy-feely stuff is a waste of my time, you might say or think.

On the contrary! A focus on listening can lead to more effective teamwork, higher productivity, fewer conflicts and errors, enhanced innovation and problem-solving, improved recruiting and retention, superior customer relations and more. As authors on leadership development have noted through the years, listening is not just a nice thing to do, it’s essential!

“Make the human element as important as the financial or the technical element,” wrote Stephen Covey in his seminal book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. “You save tremendous amounts of time, energy and money when you tap into the human resources of a business at every level. When you listen, you learn.”

As long ago as 1966, Peter Drucker, author of The Effective Executive and numerous other books, emphasized the importance of listening to both self and others as an essential step in bringing to light everyone’s role as contributors to the organization’s overall success.

Likewise, studies in Emotional Intelligence (EI) over the past couple of decades have found that leaders “infect” the Workplace (for better or for worse) with their attitudes and energy. To understand and influence these flows of emotions and motivational states, leaders need to be able to practice empathic listening skills.

Visionary leaders listen to values held by individuals within the group, enabling them to explain their own goals for the organization in a way that wins support.

Coaching leaders find opportunities to listen one-on-one to employees, establish rapport and trust, and help employees help themselves in matters of performance and information gathering.

Develop your curiosity. This helps with Covey’s suggestion: Seek first to understand. Genuine curiosity is felt by others and helps to open up their speech and your listening.

Pay attention to your listening. Replay conversations you’ve had and assess whether you listened well.

Seek feedback from people you trust to assess your listening skills.

Work with a coach. Coaches can help you discover ways to listen better not only to those you work with, but also to yourself.

Listening better will reward you with an entirely new level of communication and problem-solving skills, for empathic listening requires the ability to see multiple points of view in any given situation.

As an entrepreneur and small business owner myself I know the importance of creating an innovative, motivated – and motivating – support team. When I first opened my business, I did it all myself but it didn’t take me long to realize that my genius was in building the business, not behind the scenes dealing with all of the administrative tasks.

So step up, think big, go far beyond the box and let the leader in you shine!

About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

Kathryn Wilking

Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.


How to Manage Stress from the Inside Out

How to Manage Stress from the Inside Out

It’s just another normal day, right?

You awaken one morning and discover that someone drank the last of the milk and the cereal you were planning for breakfast has now been switched to a quick piece of toast – and you’re all out of your favorite jelly.

Muttering, you head to your car, but not before your partner reminds you that you agreed to pick up the kids today from soccer practice. She/he must work overtime to make up for the missed ½ day last week when the dog had an emergency and had to go to the vet.

Stressed WomanYou grudgingly agree, knowing that in the process your answer was a little harsher than you intended.

Just as you get into your car, you remember you had planned to leave earlier today to buy gas. As you pull into the gas station, you realize that gas prices have jumped 10¢ a gallon. Frustrated, you fill up and head to work, only to sit in stop and go traffic with about another million drivers headed in the same direction.

You reach for your car radio switch, when suddenly the car in front of you brakes, causing you to come within 1-inch of a rear end collision. Your purse, once on the front seat, is now under the pile of papers that you had taken home to work on. You tell yourself to stay calm, but you’re feeling a little unsteady from the near miss.

You arrive at work and are immediately told to report to your manager. Your best customer has phoned in with a complaint and the deal you thought was a sure thing is in jeopardy. And somehow you get the feeling that your job is at risk, too.

You promise to address the issue immediately, but when you sit down at your computer an alert message appears stating that the system is being checked for a virus and won’t be available for another hour. You head begins to hurt and that nagging pain in your back won’t go away. On your way to get some water so that you can take a pain reliever, you run into your good friend, Elizabeth who is obviously on the verge of tears.

You know something is wrong, but have an intense desire to run the other way. You can’t deal with another catastrophe right this minute.

Does this sound like a variation of more days than you’d like to admit? Whether you realize it or not, you have dealt with stress all morning long, and if you do not do something to re-group, you are at risk for something far worse.

Stress 101

For an easy-to-understand primer on the stress crisis afflicting the modern man, modern woman, and yes, even the modern child, let’s begin with a brief lesson called Stress 101.

Everyone has a level of energy that is “normal” for them. The energy level of healthy people can range from rather low to rather high. If it is too low, a medical condition such as low blood pressure, low thyroid, or depression may be culprit.

If your energy level is excessively high, you could be experiencing hyper-activity or some other physical or behavioral disorder. But let’s agree that for most of us, we move through life with a rather stable energy level.

Here’s how it is intended to work

  1. When an event happens that causes you to expend more energy you experience stress.
  2. A certain level of stress is good for you. This is called eustress or productive tension. At this stage, hormones are released into the body to give you an energy boost.
  3. These hormones enable your “fight” or “flight” reaction.
  4. After you have expended the energy, you need to move below your normal stress level so that your nervous system can return to normal and the “energy” hormones can dissipate and not be stored in the body. Your body is then able to return to a normal energy level and ready for the next stressor in life.

But, here’s what happens in the real world:

  1. An event occurs that causes your energy level to go up.
  2. Your hormones kick in and you respond to the stressor (eustress or productive tension).
  3. After the response, your body wants to go to a calming place. However, before you can ever get to the place of normal energy, you probably experience another stressor.
  4. Your body responds by another release of energy (more hormones kick in)
  5. You react to that event.
  6. And again, there is a desire to return to a lower level of energy.
  7. And before that happens, you have another stressor.
  8. Before you know it, you are operating above the productive tension line and operating at a distress level

As you can see, your energy level (and hormonal level) remains escalated. And although your energy level will slow down (often resulting in exhaustion), your hormonal production continues. This results in distress and disease.

Acute and Chronic Stress
Two of the most common types of stress are acute (sudden) or chronic (on-going).

 Acute stress is a reaction to an immediate, unexpected stressor, like:

  • Seeing a child run into a busy street
  • Hearing a loud noise behind you (or even in front of you)
  • A phone call telling you of an emergency
  • Being unexpectedly called on to speak
  • Your child throwing a temper tantrum in front of others
  • A very verbal, highly irritated customer
  • Being pulled out of the airport security line for extensive screening
  • Learning that you have no credit left on your credit card
  • A new romantic interest walking into a party unexpected
  • Winning the lottery
  • Waiting for the final free throw of a basketball game when the score is tied

During acute stress, the unexpected event occurs, you have the appropriate hormonal response, you respond at a higher energy level, and then when the crisis is over, you seek out the first chance you can to relax.

The body can deal with acute stress in small doses. Prolonged bouts of acute stress are very taxing and wearing on the body, rational thinking often becomes distorted thinking, and the rate of accidents and mistakes increases.

Chronic Stress is prolonged stress. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t feel any hope for the future and feel that you have no power over the situation.  And feeling powerless to impact the situation resonates deeply. Some situations that produce chronic stress are:

  • Being homeless
  • No perceived power in relationships or job
  • Dysfunctional families
  • Trapped in a despised job or career

For most people, though, chronic stress is more often a product of:

  • Too much to do, too many commitments
  • Working in a job we don’t like
  • Working longer hours on the job with little or no reward
  • Too little sleep
  • Disorganization in our living and work environments
  • Financial problems without a solution in sight
  • Fear of losing a job
  • Prolonged illness (yours or a family member’s)

Stress Management Techniques

This background information is intended to raise your awareness about the costly effects of stress. Costs to your health, your relationships, and your personal well-being. It is more important now than ever that individuals do whatever it takes to carve out time to engage in stress reducing activities.

The best way to manage stress is to make time every single day to relax, refresh and re-energize. Although you might join a class to help you learn some relaxation techniques, chances are that making it to class will add even more stress.

The following techniques will help reduce stress, help your body (and mind) find calm and restore your energy. When practiced on a regular basis, you give your body a rest as your hormonal levels return to normal. You, in turn, will be better equipped for managing the

day-to- day stressors that are bound to come your way.

Breathing Technique: The great thing about this exercise is that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime. In fact, some clients tell us that this technique is one they practice prior to starting their day and/or as a bedtime ritual.

It is also beneficial for the transitional times – before going into your home after a day of work, before entering a meeting that may be controversial, before heading out to the golf course or meeting friends for dinner.

Breathing deeply can require conscious attention since we tend to breathe shallowly most of the time. Here is a simple way to practice.

Pretend that your breath is a long ribbon. Give it a color. Imagine that you have a reel in your belly and with each inhale through your nose; you are winding your breath (ribbon) around the reel. Take in the breath slowly and consciously, as your belly expands. When you have inhaled as much breath as possible, let it sit for just a second (Eastern practitioners call this ‘packing chi” or energy). Slowly release the breath, concentrating on the slow rhythmic release of the ribbon. Practice this kind of breathing for about 5-7 minutes. Caution, you may find yourself slightly dizzy when you first try this exercise, especially if you have a tendency for shallow breathing or holding your breath during stress. This process helps the body relax, the buildup of stress-induced hormones to dissipate, and your energy to restore.

Mindfulness: If you have ever arrived somewhere and not remembered the trip or after an event, you can’t even remember who was there (or what they were wearing, or what they talked about), you will benefit from practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a technique where give full attention to your feelings, thoughts, and sensations. You literally live in the moment and experience the sensations of the moment. This exercise takes very little time, but the benefits are tremendous.

To practice mindfulness, you must be willing not to let other things distract you. If your cell phone rings, you simply acknowledge to yourself that your cell phone is ringing, but don’t let your mind wonder who’s calling and for what. During this exercise, look around. Notice the variations of color in the room. Listen intently for any sounds. Notice the feel of the air on your body. Be still, as if you are becoming a part of your surroundings. Be aware of your breathing. Hear the clock tick or the birds chirp. Notice how light reflects, distorts, or illuminates. See what you haven’t seen before. Appreciate your surroundings and feel peace.

Studies have shown that people who practice mindfulness have less pain and more quickly recover from injuries and illness than people who do not.

Self-Talk:  Self talk is exactly what the term implies. It is the thousands of messages that we tell ourselves every day. Self-talk is about judgment. Judging ourselves and judging others.

Make a commitment to pay attention to your self-talk. Be conscious of what words you use to describe yourself and the situation you are in. Shift your negative thinking to positive thinking. When you hear yourself say, “I should be working on that report,” say instead, “I’m glad that I have the opportunity to spend time with my family right now.” Instead of, “a good daughter would phone her mother every day,” say “I’m glad I’m able to check in on my mother and respond when she really needs me.” When we start shifting our perspective to a more positive one, we become energetic instead of stressed or depleted.

Control vs. No Control: Let’s face it, you have control over two things: Your own thoughts and your own behavior. Understanding where you clearly have control can be strengthening. Here’s an example:

You are in the office and someone approaches you with a bit of gossip about a co-worker, Michelle. The gossip includes some rather harsh remarks about something you are passionate about. Michelle has decided that she will not support the annual United Way drive because her time and money are devoted to juvenile diabetes. You might become defensive, antagonistic toward her, and begin forming alliances with others who share your conviction. The truth of the matter is that you have no control over what Michelle values. What you can do is enthusiastically support your cause and have respect for Michelle and her cause.

Another example of control awareness might go something like this. You arrive home from work and realize that the sanitation department did not pick up your overflowing trash container that morning as planned. You can either: 1) fuss and fume, call the city, leave a scathing message, and threaten to leave your trash curbside until someone picks it up. Or 2) you can recognize that the trash was overlooked, call and ask what your next steps should be. Should you leave the trash curbside, or should you roll the container back into your garage? You have no control over the fact that the trash was not collected. What you can control is your response.

The question to ask yourself is this? Do I have any control over this situation? If I do, what are the rational steps I can take to resolve it? If not, am I willing to let it go? This practice in and of itself will reduce most people’s stress level by half.

Lifestyle Changes: Let’s be honest. Much of the stress we experience is a result of choices we make and lifestyles that we lead. The following ideas are beneficial to all people who want to reduce the amount of stress in their life and live healthier:

  1. Organize your living and work space – by doing this, you spend less time searching for things. An organized space is more calming than clutter.
  2. Organize your time. You only have so much time. By organizing your time, you will be able to spend it on things that are of greatest importance to you.
  3. Cultivate a supportive social circle. Research tells us that surrounding ourselves with people who support us and whom we support leads to healthier – and even longer lives.
  4. Take care of your body. Day-to-day stress and day-to-day living take a toll on your body. By engaging in regular exercise, your body is stronger, your stress is lessened and your health increases.
  5. Renew your spirit. The old saying that “attitude is everything” has validity. Reading, vacation, creative activities, journaling, meditating, praying, and experiencing a higher source of power are all ways to renew your spirit.

These techniques are lifestyle changes that create a more calming environment. Instead of depleting you of energy, these choices restore your energy.

Closing Thoughts

Cari Harness once said, “Give your stress wings and let it fly away.” Let’s face it – that is easier said than done. Maybe a more realistic approach is to look at the situations in your life that you can control and can’t control. Give wings to the ones you can’t control and let them go. Just.let.them.go!

What you can control is your long-term response to the stressful events. You also control whether you practice calming techniques. And there are plenty of lifestyle choices that you control.

Perhaps you could start right now by breathing slowly, being mindful of the things around you, creating positive self-talk and watch your stress fly away.

About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

Kathryn Wilking

Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.


Knowing How to Take That Next Step to Success

Knowing How to Take That Next Step to Success

Have you ever known exactly where you wanted to go, but hesitated because you didn’t know exactly how to get there?

That is perfectly natural and very human.

From a survival standpoint, we all want to know what’s in store for us in order to determine whether or not the risks outweigh the reward.

The only trouble with this way of thinking is that avoiding a step due to un-surety keeps you from ever accomplishing your dreams. It’s safe – but a true waste of a wonderful life.

Fortunately, YOU are probably really good at handling whatever comes your way.

Almost every day you manage to avert disaster and arrive safely on the other side of hundreds of challenges, small and large.

Drawing confidence from this vast well of experience, surrounding yourself with positive people who are equally driven, and pulled by the desire to achieve your dreams, you can rise to meet the road ahead, even if you can only see 3 feet of it.

And guess what…most of the time, the 3 feet in front of you is all you have to deal with.

Handle that and then there’s the next 3 feet…and the next…and as the old saying goes, “By the yard it’s hard, but it’s a cinch by the inch.” The story you tell yourself about the dangers again is just that – a story – nothing more. So change the story and take that step.

No matter what dream you’re chasing or difficulty you’re facing, if you just take the next step, you’ll almost certainly arrive at your destination safe, sound & successful. You will have a life well-lived!

About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

Kathryn Wilking

Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.


How to Align Your Actions with Your Big Vision

How to Align Your Actions with Your Big Vision

It’s so easy to get distracted while in pursuit of an important goal

It seems that while every step ahead may get you closer to your destination, it also presents you with turning points, junctures, and new paths of “opportunity” (which are often distractions in disguise).

Therefore, if you don’t keep your goals in the forefront of your mind and take discernable steps towards them, then invariably something shiny and alluring will knock you off track.

To eliminate the ‘shiny object’ syndrome, try these 6 laser-focused strategies to keep moving in the right direction:

  1. Know what you are really passionate about

    Know who you are at your very basic core. Until you know your authentic self, it’s impossible to know what really drives you. And if you don’t know what drives you, you can’t expect to get where you want to go. If you focus on living your life in a way that fills your heart and allows you to fulfil your true purpose, then the rest will fall into place.

  2. Take time to plan before you set your goals

    If you just jump in and start writing goals without seeing the “Big Picture” or even knowing where you want to go or what you want to accomplish – you can’t seriously expect to end up where you truly want to be at the end. And if you don’t know have a plan addressing the risks and rewards, there’s not much incentive to work do the work.

  3. Write down your goals

    We all have heard this…but many of us just don’t do it. Studies show that by writing your goals down, your chances of success increase exponentially. Putting your goals in writing makes them tangible and reminds you of what you are working toward. Double-check to assure that they are “SMART” goals as described below.

The Formula for Making Sure Your Goals are S.M.A.R.T.

The Formula for Making Sure Your Goals are S.M.A.R.T.

Plan your work and then work your plan!

  1. Align your daily choices with your goals

    Every day, decide what ONE BIG thing and two smaller things you are going to accomplish that day that will help you to move toward your chosen destination. Accomplish the ONE BIG action step first.

  2. Share your goals with someone you trust

    Create accountability with those closest to you by simply sharing your goals, so when you start to veer off track, they can help you through. Give them permission to be as firm as you feel you need them to be to insure you stay on track.

  3. Set milestones of success

    Nothing is more frustrating than feeling like you are not making enough progress towards accomplishing a big goal. Set milestones of success where you can stop, celebrate and reward yourself for your accomplishments. But don’t sit for too long – get started again soon to keep up your momentum. Express gratitude for what you have accomplished!

Every day, everything that you do is either moving you toward or away from your goals.

Don’t let temptations, frustrations or the feeling of immediate gratification keep you from achieving what matters most. Keeping your goals top of mind will allow you to make the decisions that bring you the happiness and joy that will last a lifetime.

What steps will you take TOWARD your goals today?

About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

Kathryn Wilking

Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.


3 Simple Steps to Get Your Business Back on Track

3 Simple Steps to Get Your Business Back on Track

Try, Then Try Again in the World of Success

No matter how good you are, from time to time you’re going to fail. For instance, a new business that doesn’t show a profit as quickly as you’d like.

Or are you buried in tons of task lists, email and junk mail that you don’t know where to start? Do you find that your sanity and your relationships are both suffering?

Perhaps your plan had a few holes in it…

Have you ever watched a baby learn to walk? Or see children learning how to ride a bicycle or skate? They’ll take a few steps or pedal with the help of someone who is balancing them and once they let go, BOOM… they fall down.

A few tears and bruises and they get up and do it again and again until they conquer it!

Ego never gets in the way – it’s sheer determination. If little ones were like many adults, they would just accept that they’re no good at walking or riding or skating and they would stay on all 4’s well into old age.

Now, if you are a visual person like me – the thought of adults on all 4’s is somewhere between hilarious and downright scary!

Fortunately, little children don’t know how to accept defeat. After every failure, they rise up, wipe away the disappointment, make a small change and try again.

Thankfully, we never outgrow that ability… we just forget to use it sometimes.

The next time you face failure or delve into a high-risk endeavour you can use these simple steps to get back on track.

  1. Celebrate what worked

    When you fail, it’s too easy to focus on the failure and beat yourself up. Start by celebrating what went well, no matter how small the win.

    Negative self-talk is just going to keep you from being your best.

  2. Look at what didn’t work

    Write down your missteps or talk it out with a friend or teammate. Figure out exactly where you got off track, made a mistake or should have taken a different direction.

    Memorize what went well, and what can be improved upon next time. Bring in new resources and ask for help from people who have done what you want to do. Most people will happily share their expertise with others.

  3. Make a new plan and TRY AGAIN

    Now that you know what works for you and what you could do differently, choose a new approach and go for it with everything you’ve got.

    Silence the naysayers and be willing to optimize your environment so that you are mentally and physically set up to succeed.

  4. Success is inevitable if you have the right mindset

    & you are willing to do the work!

    What are the 3 things YOU are going to do TODAY to help you make quantum leaps?

    About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

    Kathryn Wilking

    Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

    What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.


Being C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-T and What it Has to do With Being a Successful Entrepreneur

Being C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-T and What it Has to do With Being a Successful Entrepreneur

What Does it Mean to be C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-T and What Does it Have to do With Being a Successful Entrepreneur?

Thinking as an entrepreneur is exciting, fun, daring and overall pretty easy for those of us who are always thinking of “what could be” instead of just “what is.”

And actually being a highly functioning and successful entrepreneur takes a lot of courage, dedication and tenacity – and is sometimes plain scary and depressing when things don’t go as you think they should.

That’s where confidence plays a major role.

When we know that we have what it takes to figure things out and we know that we are smart in the ways that are important to our goals – we flourish.

Confidence comes from feelings of well-being, acceptance of your body and mind (self-esteem), and belief in your own ability, skills and experience. People who are confident share these important characteristics:

C – CAPABLE

Confident people are capable. They know they are good enough, competent, and can handle life’s situations.

Admitting you are capable also means knowing that if you cannot handle a situation completely on your own, you can find out where to get the necessary help, information, or skill.

Knowing you are your greatest resource protects you from stress. Believing you are capable means that whatever the task, you will handle it. By believing in yourself, you can face life with complete assurance.

O – OWN IT

Confident people own their opinions, emotions, feelings, words, and even choice of dessert.

You’re you, you want what you want, and you do what you do. You recognize that everyone is unique. No apologies. No explanation.

N – NURTURE THEMSELVES

Confident people believe in their value and worth. They feel they are worth the time, money and energy required to nurture and support themselves in their fulfillment and growth.

This could be things like taking a class to learn something new, taking time out to exercise, having quiet time to re-energize and rejuvenate, or pampering themselves with a massage or manicure.

F – FULLY PRESENT

Confident people engage in the present moment when they are with others. They are not concerned about how they look, sound, feel or smell.

Constantly thinking about what you feel or look like takes you out of the moment. Practice not thinking about the past or the future. Concentrate on what’s in front of you — there’s probably something exciting about it. And if there’s not – then do something else.

I – INTEGRITY

Confident people are true to themselves. They honor who they really are and will do things that honor their true selves, despite what others may say or think. When people are true to themselves they feel more comfortable, and that produces confidence.

D – DEMEANOR

People with confidence have a physical presence. It shows in their posture, body language, eye contact, and dress.

If you look like a confident, capable person, people will treat you accordingly, and eventually you will start to feel it too.

E – ENDURE

Confident people don’t give up. They take risks, know they will make mistakes, and that sometimes they will fail.

Everyone makes mistakes and fails. If you don’t, you’re not trying hard enough. Don’t think of these as mistakes and failures as negatives, but rather as learning opportunities. Because confident people remember that beneath their failures, mistakes and missteps, they are capable.

Taking time to look at successes and identify “why” they were successful is just as important as looking at the failures because you want to be able to replicate that success.

N – NOT ARROGANT

Confident people are not arrogant. Arrogance is detrimental to interpersonal relationships. For people who are confident it’s not about getting the praise, attention, or being better than others.

Confident people lift others up. They give others credit for their work, encourage progress, and offer compliments and sincere praise.

If they are leading teams, they don’t throw people under the bus when something doesn’t go perfectly. Instead, they accept responsibility for the results and help the team understand what could have been done better to assure a better outcome.

T – TAKE ACTION

Do one thing every day that scares youConfident people take action. We all want to do or try certain things but fear we may fail. These feelings are normal.

Feel the fear in your body and accept it. What you resist, persists – so admit that you are afraid, accept your feeling as real and then let them go – they no longer serve you.

The difference is that a confident person will act on their ambitions and desires and will not let the fear of failure stop them.

The more we take action, the more our confidence grows. We try something and are successful, and the next time around it feels easier to do it again. Below is an activity for you that I find to be helpful with myself and with my clients.

Confidence Activity: “Who Am I?”

Just as every snowflake is one-of-a-kind, so are you. There is no one else like you. Of all the 7 billion people in the world, there is none just like you. No one else feels completely the way you do.

No one else sees things exactly as you. No one has had the same experiences as you. You are extraordinarily unique.

To further explore and discover your true self, answer the following statements:

  1. I am…
  2. I am at my best when…
  3. The best thing that could happen to me is…
  4. People notice that…
  5. When I am proud of myself, I…
  6. I am very happy that…
  7. I get lost in time when…
  8. I look forward to…
  9. I am passionate about…
  10. I am good at…
  11. I wish others knew…
  12. I am happiest when…
  13. I am proud that…
  14. I would like to…
  15. Five adjectives that describe me are…

Until next time – Let People Share in Your Light!

What about you? Are you CONFIDENT in your business and take the confidence test above?

About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

Kathryn Wilking

Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.


17 Top Tips for Increasing Business Profits

17 Top Tips for Increasing Business Profits

How to Develop Great People Leadership Skills & Rock Star Teamwork

Many people dream of starting their own businesses someday – and many have taken the leap to varying degrees of success.

Some succeed and frankly, some don’t.

And for many, if they knew how hard it was going to be before they started – they would have kept their day job with a steady paycheck and saved their passion and energy for nights and weekends!

It doesn’t have to be that hard to build a great team that will assure your business provides the best customer service to your ideal customers, make lots of money for you so you can do the things that are most important to you, and which helps your team achieve their dreams too.

So, today I want to talk with you about a serious subject. It’s about your employees – the great ones and the ones that will become your biggest nightmare if not handled correctly and that some of them end up needing rehabilitation.

If you are already a business owner with employees or if you are an entrepreneur with big plans to build a team and grow your business, this article provides valuable insight.

That’s right – bad employees suck up your valuable time and money, drag everyone else down and cause the best employees to leave.

The great employees are wonderful to work with, team players who will jump in and help accomplish your goals, play to their strengths and encourage others to do the same and are just a pleasure to be around.

Employees will make or break your business!

You absolutely must get the people-thing right the first time, every time.

Employee turnover costs companies large amounts of money in recruiting costs, training, employee morale and productivity.

Here are 17 tips to help you avoid costly mistakes and build a rock star team:

  1. Vision & Mission – take the time to develop a very succinct, understandable vision and mission. It’s important that all employees understand the big picture and where they fit.

    If you’ve been in business for a while and know in your head what you want to do, take the time to write it down and post it so that it becomes part of the way you and your team work every day.

  2. Know Yourself – master your psychology so that you remove all negative self-talk, doubts and limiting beliefs that keep you stuck where you are and prevent you from being wildly successful.

    Avail yourself of assessment tools that measure how you see yourself, how you interact with others, and how you react to stress on an average day. Understanding your nature versus how you were nurtured to behave allows you to become your authentic self and live a life of joy.

    I work with clients who have their entire team assessed so that everyone works at their highest potential.

  3. Roles & Responsibilities – to avoid misunderstandings, redundancy, and work falling through the cracks, prepare job descriptions that clearly spells out what each position is responsible for completing.

    When advertising for open positions and when training new hires, this 1-2 sheet document is invaluable.  Employees want to do a good job, but they don’t read minds.

    No job description can cover everything but it should capture the major duties with a statement of “all other duties as assigned by supervisor.”

  4. Hone your Interview Skills – this is the time for you to match up the job duties of the position with the skills and experience of the candidate before you call anyone in for an interview.

    Breathing and standing up are not qualifying skills!

    During the interview, ask open-ended questions where they need to provide examples of how they handled a variety of issues that are relevant to the work they will likely run into at your company. Follow the 80/20 rule where the candidate does 80% of the talking and the interviewer does only 20%.

    I highly recommend using a behavior-based interview process where you select the critical competencies relevant to the position and then you ask all candidates the same questions so you can compare their answers and select the best candidate. Listen to your gut! If at the end of the interview when all interviewers compare notes if anyone has that gut feeling that even though they answered the questions okay, something just doesn’t feel right.

    I’ve learned the hard way to trust my gut! Bad hires truly do become your worst nightmare and with behavior based interviewing processes, there’s no need to hire employees that just will not fit with your team or are not qualified to do the work.

  5. Offer letter – provide a written offer letter which includes the position, salary, benefits and the name of the person they will report to.

    Include language stating you are an “at-will” employer and that this offer letter does not constitute an employment contract.

  6. Background Investigations & Drug Tests – I recommend using a professional firm to conduct your background checks and drug/alcohol pre-employment tests. At a minimum you want to check criminal history, education and work history and assure they are alcohol and free of illegal drugs.

    Neither of these can legally be done however until the candidate has accepted the job contingent upon them accepting the offer and signing the proper paperwork to conduct the background investigation and drug test.

  7. Organizational Announcements – such an easy thing to do but most ignored. There is nothing worse than employees wondering who the “new” person is that is walking around or sitting in someone else’s old desk.

    And you can imagine how hard it is for the new employee to explain over and over again who they are and what they are going to do for the company.

    A brief email announcement stating their name, position, reporting relationship, education and previous title and company they worked for will smooth the transition and help the employee be more effective on day one.

  8. First Day on the Job – this is an important day for the new hire and everyone else on the team so you want the on-boarding process to be thorough. Welcome them when they come in and walk them around and introduce them to the other employees.

    More often than I’d like I hear from employees describing their first day as the day they regretted leaving their old company because they weren’t welcomed and were not trained to do the new job.

    There is nothing worse for them and your bottom line than letting each person figure it out on their own! So, assign a “buddy” to show them around and take them to lunch on the first day. An on-boarding process to help your team quickly get up to speed and learn how to do their job.

  9. Handbook – make sure you have a very carefully crafted employee handbook that outlines the rules, regulations, policies and practices of the company. Have an acknowledgement form for each employee to sign saying they are responsible for compliance.

    Handbooks, if done well, are an excellent tool for employees to understand how the company works.

    However, they can also be a landmine for attorneys if not legally compliant or are not administered uniformly so get advice from a qualified human resources business professional before publishing and distributing your handbook.

  10. Communications – conduct weekly team meetings where the supervisor communicates the week’s priorities and asks for an update from each employee. Send out an agenda in advance and keep to the allotted time for each item/person.

    Assign a note taker and record items and due dates agreed upon in the meeting, email them to attendees and bring them to next meeting so you can follow-up on previous commitments.

    Be visible and accessible to your team. It’s amazing what employees will tell you when they just happen to see you in the hallway!

  11. Accountability Hot Seat – sometimes employees make commitments and have a hard time following through. They have a myriad of excuses, some of which are very valid, but the bottom-line is that a major deadline is going to be missed if immediate action isn’t taken.

    So, before it gets to a critical stage, pull together a team and allow the employee 5 minutes to explain the issue and any barriers they are coming up against. Then, allow the group 10 minutes to offer ideas and/or assistance while the employee just listens and writes down the ideas.

    Then, the employee has 3 minutes to think through all of the ideas that were offered and select the one or two that they will accept and report out to the group.  At the end of the day, it is still the employee’s responsibility but having input from others can offer fresh ideas and team support.

  12. Managing Employee Performance – you’ve heard the old saying that “what gets measured gets done” and that is very true. By establishing goals with each employee they know what they need to do every day to be successful and you know that together the company will reach its goals.

    Plus, you have a valuable tool to measure their performance against the goals so you can provide recognition, constructive feedback and pay for performance.  Measuring “how” they get the job done in addition to “what” gets done is so important to assure teamwork.

  13. Recognition & Rewards – yes, I know your employees are only doing their job. Right? And if they are recognized for a job well-done, they will repeat great performance. The key is to be very specific with what they did to earn accolades.

    Saying “Great job” sounds good but it doesn’t tell them what they did that you think was so great. So, instead, tell them how much you appreciate them staying late to get that order out the door. Rewards can certainly be in the form of money, but research has proven that money is not the #1 motivator for most people.

    Giving praise in front of peers, providing extra time off with pay, small gift cards, participation in training opportunities are all valuable forms of recognition. A word of caution is warranted here though.

    You’ve heard the statement that “no good deed goes unpunished” and rewards can often backfire if there is a perception of playing favorites. So make sure that there is criteria for issuing an award, the award is the appropriate level and that they are consistently and fairly administered.

  14. Talent Reviews & Succession Planning – do you have the right team doing the right work? If one of them were to leave the company, is there someone prepared to step up and take over?

    It’s important to understand what each employee wants to do with their career so that you can support them and give them stretch assignments so they can grow and be ready to step up when needed.

  15. Handle Employees that Are Not a Good Fit – as difficult as this can be, it’s absolutely critical that you take swift action to keep negative employees from bringing down the whole team. Address the behavior immediately with the employee in private.

    Use a discussion guide to prepare yourself for the conversation and to keep it on track. Avoid personal attacks and stick to the unacceptable behavior and actions. Put it in writing and have the employee sign the form acknowledging that the issue was discussed with him/her.

    Include language in the warning notice that advises the employee they will subject themselves to further discipline up to and including termination if the behavior does not improve on an immediate and consistent basis.

  16. Employee Engagement Surveys – this is a great way to get confidential and anonymous feedback from your employees that will make your company the best place to work. Employee engagement measures the relationship between an organization and its employees.

    An engaged employee is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

    According to a recent Gallup poll, a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work. The world has a crisis of engagement — one with serious and potentially long-lasting repercussions for the global economy.

    I recommend conducting the same survey each year, communicate the results to your team so they know that you listened to them and really heard what they wanted you to know. Then commit to changing things for the better where appropriate.

    Get your employees involved in making the changes so they stick. Then, compare your survey results year over year to assure you are staying in tune with the changing needs of the employees and the business.

  17. Have Fun – and finally, make fun and laughter a priority. Humor is a great way to keep a team working well together. You can have fun and still work hard to get your work done!

In closing, running a business can be the most rewarding experience of your life and allow you to accomplish your dreams.

Learning the steps you need to take to assure that your team is aligned around your vision and where they know what is expected of them and feel respected and valued will make your job much easier and you will reap huge rewards.

About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

Kathryn Wilking

Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.