Friday, 26 September 2014

oil painting (Old Houses) by Kadar A Tibor

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Are your limiting thoughts and beliefs about marketing holding you back from the success that you seek?

Photo taken by M'reen

Are your limiting thoughts and beliefs about marketing
holding you back from the success that you seek?
Limiting Thoughts?
I spent the last four days in a workshop learning how to let go of my limiting thoughts, beliefs 
and attitudes. The workshop, called "The Mental Cleanse" with Byron Katie
is appropriately named. I've flushed out a whole host of thoughts that have
been holding me back one way or another.

Do you have limiting thoughts that are holding you back?
The insidious thing about limiting thoughts is that we don't really think them.
They think us.
That is, we identify with them so completely that they become the gospel truth to us - 
even as they undermine our best intentions in life and in work.
M’reen: Years ago I seeded for myself, “whenever I think a negative thought
about myself, I immediately think of a truer more balanced thought.”
Now, I always automatically balance negative thoughts, no matter how small.
I even balance the thoughts of others. A sad face turned into a brilliant smile
when I said, “but, you have helped me, you’ve given me the first step on the way.”
Working with thousands of Independent Professionals over the past twenty years,
I've noticed many repeating themes of these kinds of limiting thoughts.
Are any of them familiar to you?

"I'm not the marketing type."
 Can you really know that? What is "the marketing type" anyway? 
Think of all the negative stereotypes you have about marketing types.
Who says you have to fit a stereotype?
In my experience, the marketing type is someone, just like you or me,
who learned some marketing ideas and tried them out and got some results
and kept working at it. Does that sound so awful?

"It's hard for me to talk about my business."
 Often a thought like this will have an underlying belief such as "people aren't interested
in my services." What's your proof? How do you really know at this early stage?
We tend to get a rejection or two and conclude that people will never understand us.
Isn't it really a matter of trial and error? You try a message and gauge the interest
and then try something new until it resonates with the marketplace.
Pretty soon it gets easy.

"I'm just not a good writer."
By what criteria? Who are you comparing yourself to?
Marketing writing isn't fine literature.
It's simply a narrative about how your services can help your clients:
"Here's the problem as I see it. Here's the desired solution you're looking for.
And here's what I can do for you to get that solution."
If your writing style feels awkward, don't worry; it will improve with practice.
And if you need help along the way, you can always hire an editor.

"Public speaking scares me to death"
You'll die if you speak in public? Is that really true? Haven't seen it once, yet.
What's really the worst that could happen? Your presentation might bore some people.
Could you handle that? With a little practice don't you think you'd improve? Of course.
Many of the world's greatest speakers still experience some nervousness before a talk.
But it doesn't stop them. And the more they speak the better they get.

"All this technology intimidates me"
Really? Does it hold a gun to your head? Doesn't it just sit there passively
until you do something with it? The systems out there to help you market online,
for instance, are getting easier and easier to use.
In a couple hours you can set up an eZine with a tool like AWeber
Why let this thought hold you back? Like all limiting thoughts, try to see the other side
of the equation and notice if the upside benefit isn't a lot more powerful. 
If technology could transform your marketing (it can), wouldn't you be a little less intimidated?

"I just don't have the time to market myself."
This is a big one for a lot of people. What always puzzles me is that the people
who have the fewest clients seem to have no time to market.
Successful people always find the time to fit it in by making it a priority.
It's not time, it's the thought.
Start noticing all the time-wasters you let creep into your day.
If you could eliminate just a few of them, you'd have more than enough time
for marketing activities.

"But it's so easy for you"
Are you sure? How do you know that?
And what do I have to do with your marketing efforts?
Why are you comparing? Wouldn't it make more sense to ask,
"What do you do to make it easy for yourself?"
You might discover several strategies that could make it easy for you as well.
Every limiting thought becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It's true because you say it's true.
And if you don't question your thoughts, they will continue to control your destiny.

The technique called "The Work" that I learned from Byron Katie 
and have used with surprising (and almost immediate) results works as follows:

First, write down a limiting thought like the ones I've listed above.
Then ask the following four questions, writing down your answers.
Do it slowly, really pondering before you give an answer:

1. Is this thought true? (Or is it just a thought you've attached to?)
2. (If yes, or not sure) Can I absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do I react when I think that thought?
    Make a long list of your actions, behaviour, feelings
    and other thoughts that arise in the wake of the original thought.
4. Who would I be without that thought? If you were facing a marketing challenge,
    such as writing an article, and you simply could not have the thought,
   "I'm not a good marketing writer" how would things be different?
   Finally, turn the thought around. That is, state the limiting thought in reverse:
  "I am a good marketing writer." And then ask yourself if that new statement
  is just as true or truer than the original. You may be surprised by your answer.

This year, your marketing results will be determined not by your circumstances
but by your thinking. If you think limiting thoughts you have no right to expect 
anything beyond those limiting thoughts.

If you start to question your limiting thoughts and beliefs,
I guarantee that new and exciting possibilities will open up to you.

You might even start to think of yourself as a marketing type!

One of the keys to letting go of limiting thoughts is recognizing them in the first place.
Here are some things to notice:
* Limiting thoughts become like the water we swim in:
"Limiting thoughts? What limiting thoughts? The stronger the identification
or attachment to particular thoughts or beliefs,
the more likely that they become limiting.
We do not become attached to expansive, unlimited thoughts.
(And if we do, such as turning them into rules, they ultimately become limiting.)
* Limiting thoughts are stressful in nature. That is, it doesn't feel great thinking them.
You tend to feel constricted and diminished when you think them.
The funny thing is, you hope they will make you feel better and they never do.
* Limiting thoughts are angry and fearful in nature. They are often accusing, blaming
and criticizing. "He did" and "She did" are limiting thoughts.
They are putting the fault on something outside of yourself.
* Limiting thoughts are often attached to the following words:
can't, hard, difficult, impossible.
They can also be attached to words like want, need, should, shouldn't, always and never.
Limiting words equal limiting thoughts.
* Limiting thoughts are often about your own identity
of what you can and cannot be, do or have.
"I think of myself as...." is almost always a limiting thought even if it sounds positive!
Who you are is unlimited. There's no identity to that. Just freedom. 

all the best, Robert Middleton - Action Plan Marketing

Perhaps you’d like to check out my sister blogs:            gives many ways for you to work with the stresses of life       describes the steps to reading in the way your mind prefers          just for fun

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Do you have difficulty saying no to other people?

Do you have difficulty saying no to other people? Do you know how to say no to others?
I’ll admit it – I don’t like to say no. Whenever someone has a request,
I’ll say yes where I can help it. Part of this is because I don’t like to leave people
in the lurch. The other part comes from not wanting to disappoint others.
And yet another part of me also feels saying no possibly means burning bridges
with others, and I don’t want to jeopardize my relationships with them.
Hence, I say yes where I can, and say no as less often as possible.

Realities of NOT Saying No
While saying yes seems like an easy answer for the reasons above,
it’s not necessary the best answer all the time.
Just like saying no has its implications, NOT saying no *has* implications too. Every time we say yes to something, we’re actually saying no to something else. Think about it:
·         When you say yes to something you don’t enjoy, you say no to things that you love
·         When you say yes to a job you don’t love, you say no to your dreams
·         When you say yes to someone you don’t like, you say no to a fulfilling relationship
·         When you say yes to working overtime, you say no to your social life
·         When you say yes to Quadrant 3/4 tasks,                                                                             you say no to your Quadrant 2, high value activities
Many people know me today as a blogger, a coach and a trainer. I run Personal Excellence, which has evolved into a trusted blog with over 1 million pageviews per month 
(as of Oct ’11). I’m pursuing my passion, to help others grow and be their best self. 
I leverage on whichever mediums appropriate to help others grow, be it writing books, 
1-1 coaching, blogging, training, and in the future, possibly my talk show
and more. I really love my life and I’m happiest than I’ve ever been.
Each day I experience a new level of joy that I’ve not felt before.
Yet, I did not start out like this in the beginning.
The very reason why I’m here today is because I said no to many things along the way, things which did not support my dreams:

·         I said no to my previous career in brand management and my ex-company
      I loved the job, I loved the people, I loved the environment, I loved the company. The money was great; the prospects were great too. But I love my passion more. I love helping others
to grow. I love pursuing my purpose in life. So I said no to it in 2008. I quit my full-time job and started to pursue my passion from ground zero, starting with this blog.

·         I said no to friendships which were holding me back. I love the people around me more than they know, so much so that if there comes a point where the friendship is no longer compatible for us, perhaps it’s time to walk our paths and pursue our individual life journeys. There’s no reason why either of us should hold each other back. 
      I parted ways with my best friend of 10 years, K, over a year ago, and we’ve since been happier, moving forward in our lives in ways we couldn’t previously.

·         I said no to many unimportant activities. If something doesn’t have a purpose to it, 
      and seems like a waste of time, I don’t participate in it. I value my time a lot and I only want to spend it on things I love. That’s what it means to live life to the fullest, via maximizing every moment we have, doing things we love, and things which are important to us.

·         I said no many business opportunities, some of which were very lucrative. Why do I say no then? Because they are not in alignment with my personal vision for my life’s work.
If it’s not going to lead me to my end goal, I’d rather invest my energy and time into a place that does. Otherwise, it’s going to be a waste of everyone’s time and resources. 
Not only that, I'm also not being responsible to the other party in question, 
because it’s a venture together.

·         I said no to potential clients. While this doesn’t happen all the time, I get potential clients who are not good fits with the coaching. It happens when they see the coaching as a magical solution to all of life’s problems without having to do anything, when they are not willing to put in the due work to achieve their goals, and so on. I want all my clients to get every cent of their money’s worth from the coaching, so in such cases
I rather not take them on because I don’t think they’ll be able to get any meaningful outcome. While it means losing out on revenue for the month, I’d rather earn the money from helping people I know will definitely reap the rewards.

·         I said no to many monetization opportunities. While many blogs tend to milk the money’s worth out of their email lists, this is not really my top priority. I’ve been on email lists where the bloggers keep blasting sales messages on a near weekly basis,
and it really annoys me. I protect my readers and my email list (those on my newsletter) 
with my life, and I’ll only send out messages that I deem of highest relevance.

This means I only write and post the absolute best content here, promoting products 
and services that I endorse 110% (actually to date, I’ve never done any product
or service review at all out of the hundreds of product/service review requests I get, 
which gives you an idea of the threshold I’ve in place) and producing uber high value products which have a hundred times more value than what it’s priced at.
Personal Excellence Book is the only product I’ve launched at Personal Excellence 
after nearly 2 years and it contains immense value for the price I’ve set. 
Soon, I’ll be releasing the anticipated Live a Better Life in 30 Days (30DLBL Program), 
which will be the second book and first ever hard copy book I’ve be launching.

Update Dec ’10: The 30DLBL Program is now officially released 
and you can check it out here: 30 Days To Live a Better Life
There are many other things I said no to in my life and that I continue to say no to 
on a regular basis. If I haven’t said no to all the things above, I’ll never have been able to have time to write these hundreds of articles, coach my 1-1 clients, run my workshops, develop my business, reach out to ten thousands of people around the world, create a top quality blog, have time with my family and friends, cultivate high quality, meaningful 
and fulfilling relationships, and live the life I love today.
The path of realizing your truest dreams requires you to say a lot of ‘no’s.
No’s to Quadrant 3/4 tasks, no’s to unfulfilling jobs, no’s to work you don’t believe in, 
no’s to outrageous requests, no’s to negative and unhappy people,
no’s to draining activities, no’s to meaningless tasks, no’s to many many things.

Look at how you’ve been living your life in the past week and think about what 
you’ve been saying yes to. Have you been saying yes to an unfulfilling job?
Yes to unfulfilling relationships? Yes to people who don’t respect your time?
Yes to people who don’t appreciate you? Yes to work you don’t enjoy?
Yes to activities you dislike? Yes to people who don’t appreciate you?
Because if you have, what you’re really doing is saying no to your ideal life.
Is that what you want? Are you being fair to yourself?

Respecting Yourself
You know, to me saying no ultimately boils down to respecting yourself.
Do you respect yourself? Do you respect your time? Because if you respect yourself, 
you’ll also respect your time. You’ll be very conscious of how you spend it.
You’ll say no to things which aren’t a good match for your interests,
because you know you deserve more than that.
You’ll say no to things that you don’t enjoy,
because you'd rather spend your time doing things you love. 
You’ll say no to people who don’t appreciate what you do, because they are just not worth it.
You’ll say no to people who take you for granted, because it’s a waste of your time.
Many people say yes to things they don’t like because deep down,
they don’t value themselves in the same way. They see others as more important. They see themselves as less important, that their time is dispensable, that they are not valuable.
They keep putting themselves out there, sacrificing themselves for others.
For the same reason, they don’t value their dreams. They look at their dreams and think “This is just a dream. It’s not worth going for. It’s never going to come true”.
Then they just put them aside, and do things they don’t enjoy, day in and out.
If you don’t even respect your goals and dreams, then who is going respect them?
If you don’t even think they are important, who is going to think they are?
If you don’t say no to things you don’t believe in, then who is going to say no for you?
If you don’t say yes to your goals and dreams, then who will help you say yes to them? When are you going to say no for real, so you can finally say yes to your dreams,
and most importantly, to yourself?

How To Say No: 11 Steps To Say No To Others
It’s an ongoing process to learn how to say no, and it can be easy to tough to get started. But as long as you realize the importance of saying no, you’re on your way there.
For the remainder of this article, I’ll share 11 steps on how to say no.
Whether you’re saying no to your boss, a friend, a colleague, a family member
or a stranger, you’ll find the steps helpful.
Remember there’s nothing wrong with saying no – it’s about learning how to say no.
And hopefully with this guide, you’ll now know how to say no to others in the future.

1. Be clear of your vision
A lot of times we don’t say no because we don’t have a good enough reason to say no, other than a nagging feeling that we don’t want to do that. The nagging feeling is a start. It’s a clue that there is something else we’d rather do, a different scenario we’d rather be in. Probe further then. Think about your ideal vision, your dream outcome.
What is your long-term vision for yourself, independent of the current situation?
If you have your way, how would you want things to be? This is what you truly want.
Many people thought it was a big loss to quit my up-and-going career in a Fortune 100 company back in 2008. But it wasn’t a loss to me at all. To me the real loss would be
if I had continued on staying in a job which was not going to lead me to my dreams.
I was very clear of my end vision, which was to help others grow and live their best lives, through different mediums such as my blog, training, coaching and others.
I knew this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, ever.
To continue in my job would prevent my dreams from coming to live.
To stay on for another 1, 3, 5 years would only put me in the same position with respect to pursuing my passion 1, 3, 5 years later – at ground zero. I didn’t want this.
My purpose and passion was the most important thing to me in my life, and there was nothing I would rather do in my life than that. To spend my time doing something which wasn’t that – there was really no point. This was why it was so easy for me to make the decision, because I knew what was at stake if I continued to say yes to my current job.
Once you know what your vision is, it’ll be extremely easy to say no, because now you have a clear reason to do so. The clearer you are, the easier it will be to say no, because now you will know exactly what you want to say yes to.

2. Know the implications of saying yes
We normally say yes to the little requests streaming in because it may seem like
a small deal. Just chip in and help if we can – what’s the problem?
It doesn’t take much time, maybe just 10-15 minutes, or 20 minutes max. Right?
Yet, these little moments pile up over time to become big clogs. There’s a reason why top executives, despite managing large companies and businesses, can have time
for themselves, their families, friends and work all the time, while some people
who are always busy day-in and day-out never seem to progress in their life situations.
It’s as if the latter group is busy running to stay in the same spot.
That’s because the former knows the implications of not saying no.
You can keep saying yes to errands, requests, and calls for help, but you’ll never be able to live the life you want. With every small request taking up 15 minutes, a few of such requests a day will easily suck up hours. Think in terms of months and years, and think of all the years you’re letting slip through your hands. Is that how you want your life to be summarized as – the NPC rather than the hero out there living the life he/she wants?
Whenever you get a request, think twice before you say yes or no.
What’s going to happen if you say yes to it? What are the long-term implications?
What is there to gain? What are you going to lose if you agree? Do you really have to say yes? What limiting beliefs do you have that are making you say yes?
I believe that time is more precious than money, because while you can earn back money, you can never get back time. Once you lose your time, you lose it forever.
The moment can’t be recaptured. Because of that, I really value my time –
it’s my most precious commodity and I’m very conscious of how I spend it. I only engage in activities that have the most relevance to my needs, and in everything I do and take part in, I’ll give it my all.
That’s what it means to live my life to the fullest – to maximize every moment that I’m in.

3. Realize that saying no is okay
Saying no is okay. We keep thinking that it’s not okay, that the other person will feel bad, that we’re being evil, that people will be angry, that we’re being rude, etc.
While these stem from good intentions in us, the thing is most of these fears
are self-created. If the person is open-minded, he/she will understand when you say no.
And if the person doesn’t understand and gets unhappy, I’m not sure if saying yes
is a solution to begin with. After all, you can say yes once,
but you can’t possibly say yes for the rest of your life just to appease one person.
And how many people do you need to keep saying yes to before you finally have to say no?
In such a scenario, there’s even more reason to say no so you can let the other party know exactly where you stand once and for all, vs. leading him/her on by saying yes.
There have been past situations where I was worried about saying no, because I was afraid the person would be disappointed, or that he/she would be unhappy, and bridges would be burned. And while it took me time to convey the message, nothing bad happened
from saying no. Sure I felt bad in that instant where I said it, and sure the person
must have felt disappointed, but it was never as bad as I thought it would be.
Many times we continue to be on good terms, if not better, because now
the relationship had become stronger from the experience. I also know I can be honest
with this person in saying no next time too. And to think that I was worried earlier
for so many things which didn’t even come to fruition!
Saying no is okay and its part and parcel of life. People say yes and no all the time
every day in this world. You’re definitely not the only person saying no to someone else. So don’t worry about it. Being respectful in your communication is more important (see #6).

4. Use the medium you’re most comfortable with
Use the appropriate medium to communicate the message – face-to-face,
instant messaging, emailing, SMS, phone call or even others. I don’t think there’s a one best medium because I’ve used different mediums before and it depends on the context and
your relationship with the person. Email is great because you can write out the message, then send and not have to worry about it, until you get the reply. Face-to-face
has a personal touch to it – you can get the person’s reaction instantly, address
any questions and close the issue on the spot. Instant messaging lets you see answers
in real time while giving you the chance to craft your messages before sending them out.
Use whatever is best for you. It should be the medium you’re most comfortable with.

5. Keep it simple
Keep it simple – let the person know that you can’t do it, and give a short explanation why you’re saying no. Sometimes a simple “No it’s okay”, “I’m sorry it doesn’t meet
my needs at the moment”, “I have other priorities and I can’t work on this
at the moment” or “Perhaps next time” work just fine. There’s no need to over-explain
as it’s not relevant for the party anyway, and it might lead to the other party trying
to challenge your stance instead when all you want to do is to communicate a message of “No, thank you”. If there are certain things which you’re open to discuss/negotiate on,
put them up for discussion here.

6. Be respectful
Many don’t say no because they feel it’s disrespectful,
however it’s about how you say it rather than the act of saying no.
Be respectful in your reply, value the other party’s stance and you’ll be fine.

7. Provide an alternative if you want
This is not necessary – If you like, propose an alternative.
If you don’t think you’re the right person for the request, then propose someone
whom you think is a better fit. If you’re not free to be engaged at the moment
but you’d like to be involved, then propose an alternate timing where you are free.
If there’s something you think is an issue, then point it out so you can help him/her improve. Do it if you can and if you want to, but don’t take it upon yourself to do this.
I usually do this as an act of good will, but if I can’t think of any alternatives then I don’t.
Don’t take responsibility for the person’s request because then you’re just trying
to overcompensate for not being able to say yes.
Saying no is not a problem nor an issue (see #3).

8. Make yourself less accessible
One situation I face from running the blog is the volume of emails and requests.
Most of the messages are people seeking for help and advice. And while I’d love
to address as many of them as possible, it has become a problem when there are more requests than can be humanly addressed. On an average day I’ll have requests coming in from many different places, from Facebook, Twitter, Email, during/after workshops,
as well as calls/smses from friends/coaches seeking advice.
I consider this a luxury problem, because it is an honor that people trust me to open their hearts, tell me their problems and ask me for advice, over the other people in their life.
At the same time it’s impossible for me to help everyone. When the emails start becoming long outpours of personal life stories, deep issues and cries for help,
when phone calls become extended into 2-3 hour pep talk sessions, and when people
in question become reliant on me for solutions and answers, it’s apparent that there has
to be an intervention, or I can’t help other people out there who need my help too.
I’ll never have the time to update PE; I’ll never have time to write high value articles;
I’ll never have the time to write 30DLBL and more books, conduct workshops,
develop my business, earn money for my livelihood, support my family, help others,
or even have a life.
My solution for this is to limit the channels to reach me. On Twitter I only follow a small group of people (and even then I regularly follow/unfollow different people), so I don’t get DMs there. I have switched to using a Facebook Page rather than a Facebook personal account, so that there’s no inbox to check. The channel I direct all enquiries to is the contact page on PE, which has a simple list of instructions on what to do, depending on the nature of your request. For the most part, I don’t handle personal emails anymore,
which has cut out a large chunk of my emails from the past.
Where people would like to have 1-1, full-on attention and coaching, they are invited to sign up for the 1-1 coaching sessions, where they can get started in about 1-2 weeks time.
My 1-1 clients get the highest priority, since they are paying for the service
and they’ve shown real commitment to invest in it. In my workshops, I help everyone
on a group level, after which I redirect them to my 1-1 coaching and my blog
if they want detailed attention and help.
All these measures have helped to reduce incoming requests considerably.
There is still a lot of streamlining I can do for my communication channels today because I still get a lot of stray requests here and there, and I’ll continue to experiment moving forward.
I think if you face the situation where too many people keep asking you for help
and it’s just overwhelming you, make yourself less accessible.
Don’t respond immediately to every single request, because it just sends the message
that you’re always around all the time for help, which may not be true.
Instead take a longer time to revert (as your schedule permits), be more concise
with your replies, and limit your availability. This way, others will value your time more.

9. Write everything down first
This is very helpful for me when I’m at a block on how to say no, usually when it’s
a request I feel ambiguous about. Write out everything that’s on your mind,
which includes what you really want to say to the person. While you’re doing this,
sometimes you may uncover pent up frustrations. That’s good. Keep writing.
While you may start out confused on how exactly to say no,
the answer will start formulating itself mid-way through your message.
Continue typing and it’ll soon be clear on what you actually want, and how to say it.
Once you’re done, now review what you wrote and edit it to fit your final message.

10. Delay your response
If you’re not keen on the request, delaying your reply is a way of showing lack
of interest. I usually archive my “no” mail, think over them for a couple of weeks
and reply them after that. By then the other party would know that I’m not very keen,
and they would not be so persistent in their responses as well.

11. Sometimes, no reply is also a form of reply
In 11 Tips To Effective Email Management, I mentioned not replying emails in itself
is a form of answer. It’s true. Running PE, I often get pitches from other businesses
or bloggers to review products, services, events, among other things.
If I try to reply to every single one of them I wouldn’t have time to do anything else.
So most of the times I reply only to those that are relevant to me.
As for the rest, I don’t respond, which in itself is a reply.
If a particular request isn’t important to you
and you’re stretched for time, don’t worry too much about it. Life goes on for everyone.
But if the person took some time to write a personal, customized message,
it’ll be nice to just send a short note to say no
so you don’t leave the person hanging. If you have already said no
and the person still persists, then not replying is the way to go.

Perhaps you’d like to check out my sister blogs:            gives many ways for you to work with the stresses of life       describes the steps to reading in the way your mind prefers          just for fun

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”