Self Improvement

3 Steps to Greatness

There are a million articles out there about resolutions, goals, and becoming a better you, so I'm not going to waste your time with a 12-step manifesto on the subject.

I am, however, going to highlight 3 very simple principles that everyone with long-term success shares:

1.) The Process creates the Results

You can't magically create a dozen new clients out of thin air. But you can create a process of making sales calls every day. And those sales calls will create clients throughout the year.

You also can't run a marathon, do 250 push-ups, or lose 30 lbs today. But you can make jogging (or doing some push-ups, or eating a little better) part of your daily routine.

The process is what you can actually affect; it's what you have control over - day after day - for the rest of your life.

2.) Small to Big

You don't have to think about giant numbers, like making 20 sales calls per day, or running 5 miles at a time.

It's better to start small. Very small. Tiny.

How many sales calls are you making today? Zero? Then let's start with 1. The action of dialing the phone and making that 1 call is huge, even though 1 is a small number.

One isn't a lot by itself. But the process of making 1 per day quickly becomes 5 per week, and eventually compounds into 250 for the year. (and 250 is A LOT more than 0!)

After a while, when the process has become a normal part of your routine, you can consider increasing the numbers - maybe you make 2 calls on odd-numbered days and 1 call on the even-numbered days. If you get comfortable with this and you still want to increase your business, you can move up to 2 calls everyday, and so on.

It's no different for push-ups (try doing 10, or even 5, to start with), running (start out with a mile, or even 1 minute), and eating habits (try adding 1 carrot to your plate at lunch, or even just throwing away the last sip of your sugary soda instead of finishing the can.) You can level-up later once you get comfortable with the new process.

Start small, and grow to big over the long-term.

3.) Be Consistent

Repeating that itsy-bitsy little action over and over again is the difference between winning and losing at your goals.

Consistency is what converts that new action into a habit, where it just becomes part of who you are and what you do. It’s also what allows those numbers (and successes) to accumulate and add up to bigger numbers.

Doing 100 push-ups today, but then not doing any more over the next 6 months, has the same long-term benefit as doing nothing at all. I’d rather have done a mere 10 push-ups a day during those same 6 months.

Conclusion

  • Consider the action (or process) - and not the end goal.

  • Make the action so small that it seems ludicrous, like it's too easy. It's so easy that it's a joke. (It's also so easy that you can, and will, succeed.)

  • Be consistent - do that little tiny action over and over (and over) again. (and again, and again.)

  • Grow the action (slowly) over time.

It doesn’t need to be a “Resolution”, as much as just doing something small to get a little bit better. And then doing it again.

Here’s to a successful 2019.

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- Chris Butterworth

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Writing and delivering a monthly e-Newsletter is not something that’s easy to start small, as it requires writing and sending the entire newsletter, each and every month. If keeping in touch with your friends and family is part of your business plan for 2019, I’d love to help. Check out 8DollarFarming and give me a shout!

 

2 Ways - to get in shape

There are 2 ways to achieve your “get in shape” goals.

1.) Work out. Once you’ve done your daily workout, you’ve been successful, and the rest of the day is easy. Over time you’ll get stronger and faster, and more “in shape.”

2.) Wage a constant war against yourself throughout the day, pitting pleasure against self-discipline.

  • Elevator, since I already worked out? But the stairs offer more exercise!

  • Full lunch, since I already worked out and I’m really hungry? But the small lunch will help me lose weight!

  • Ice cream on the couch after dinner, since I had a good day (or a stressful day)? Ice cream, really, when I’m trying to get in shape?!

The first way will get you most of the way there, and is black & white easy - you either succeeded or you failed, each day.

The second way will get you all the way to your goal, and much faster. But it will consume your life.

Both options beat doing nothing.

The best option is a combination of the two: exercise consistently, and make good choices throughout the day. (Notice I said good choices, not perfect choices.) “In shape” will come, slowly and over time. Work on the processes, the daily habits, the pattern of making good choices consistently - and the shape will follow; it won’t have a choice!

There isn’t a right or wrong way to do it - only that you do it. You cannot, under any circumstance, achieve your goals (or even make progress towards your goals) without doing the work. And consistent work over time beats short periods of hard work, every time.

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- Chris Butterworth

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And if making good choices all day long is exhausting, and you don’t have the mental energy left over to sit down and write your monthly e-Newsletter, let me do that for you. It’s what I’m really good at, and it’s why I created 8DollarFarming!

 

The World is Changing Fast

Each week there's a next-new thing. Another social media network. An update to your phone. Photos are auto-tagged with facial recognition. New features to learn in ARMLS. A new app wants to be your lead source.

Do you have to learn it all? Are you going to be left behind if you don't?

B 180621 - pathway.jpg
 

Let's slow down for a minute and take a deep breath.

June Reflections

June, for me, is a month of reflection. It's my birthday month - a time to take stock in where I've been and where I'm going. It's Father's Day month - when I think about the impact my Dad had on me and the impact I'm having on my kids. And it's my Dad's birthday month - he passed away a few years ago, and I still think of him often, especially in June...

What Really Matters

Let's be honest: does it really matter what platform you use to stay in touch? Will you lose a relationship because you tweet a snap from instabook instead of some other connected app?

One of the things my Dad did really well was the way he talked with people. He talked with everyone, but he rarely talked about himself - sort of Dale Carnegie style, although I don't think he ever read that book, it was just his way. He was the exact opposite of a "self promoter."

Dad was friendly and respectful to everyone, although he wasn't a natural extrovert. And he was genuinely interested in hearing how you were doing. (Genuine being the key word there.)

The thing is - even though he didn't talk much about himself, he was really well liked.

The World Isn't Changing at all

Technology is getting faster. Google and Amazon know what you want before you do. People's attention spans are getting shorter.

But they're still people.

And people like others who treat them well. Who respect them. Who are friendly towards them. And who are interested in them. It's the same as it was 30 years ago (and 30 years before that.)

Take the time to build genuine relationships, and you won't have to shout-chat faster and louder than the others bragging about themselves - your people will come to you because they know you'll take care of them.

- Chris Butterworth


Ps - One way to stay in touch with your sphere of influence is to send out a monthly eNewsletter. (or twice-monthly!) If this sounds like a good idea but you aren't sure how or you don't have the time, I'd love to help - hit reply and let's talk!

 

Availability is the best ability

I had an uncharacteristically rough month recently.

I caught the flu, then had Christmas week and all the distractions which go with that, immediately followed by a family vacation (the one we canceled in October when Anaheim was on fire!) Then, the day after we got back into town, I somehow got viral bronchitis; it was two more weeks before I finally felt normal and got back into the swing of things.

That's a full month of out-of-the-ordinary, and out-of-the-ordinary isn't good for productivity...

image credit - flickr chris zielecki

 

Yet, during that unproductive month, I was able to:

  • Get an offer accepted and open escrow for a new buyer-client.
  • Have a previously referred buyer-client open escrow on a new purchase.
  • Write and deliver my late-December and mid-January eNewsletters.
  • Publish 5 blog posts for 8DollarFarming.com
  • Publish 12 charts for simpleMLScharts.com
  • Enjoy a terrific Christmas holiday.
  • Enjoy an awesome family vacation.

It's not that I did great work last month, or even that I worked at full-speed. But I was able to work through a tough month; to be available, and to press forward.

And it led to a very successful month.


Many coaches and general managers at the pro-sports level say any athlete's best ability is avail-ability.

An athlete doesn't do the team any good if he's injured often or subject to multiple suspensions. The best of the best - the ones who are counted on game after game, year after year - are always available.

We all have bad days, bad weeks, and even bad months. The trick is to keep the process moving forward - to stay available - even if you're not moving full speed or doing your best-ever work.

- Chris Butterworth

This Year

2017 was terrific. It was difficult and sometimes frustrating, but overall I am proud of what I accomplished compared with what I had set out to do. (2017 was also terrific from a global perspective, according to the folks at Future Crunch.)

As for 2018 goals and resolutions? Google reports 5.7 million articles about how to keep your resolutions, so I don't want to write that type of post - everybody else already has.

I want to take a minute to talk about the things we can all do, every one of us, every day - which will make everybody's lives better. (and yes, they'll ultimately help you make more money, too.) Ready or not, 2018 is here, and we're already going full speed!

image credit - flickr dave_s

 

Here are 15 ways to make this year even better:

  1. If you make a promise, set a date. No date, no promise.
  2. If you set a date, meet it.
  3. If you can't make a date, communicate. It's easier to adjust if we know what's happening.
  4. Clean up your own mess.
  5. Clean up other people's messes.
  6. Overcommunicate.
  7. Question a company's agenda. (that includes media companies too.)
  8. Don't question goodwill, effort or intent. Be appreciative.
  9. "I'll know it when I see it," is not a good enough description. Let people know what you want, then let them get to work on it.
  10. If what you're working on right now doesn't matter to the mission, help someone else with their work. (or work on something more important.)
  11. Make mistakes, own them, fix them, share the learning.
  12. Cheap, reliable, public software might be boring, but it's usually better. Because it's cheap and reliable.
  13. Care more.
  14. Always be seeking outside resources. A better rolodex is better, even if we don't have rolodexes any more.
  15. Talk to everyone as if they were your boss, your customer, the founder, your employee. It's all the same.

It seems like a long list, but it's really simple. Be good. Do good. Expect & demand good from others. The good will snowball to more good..

(hat tip to Seth Godin, who published most of this list previously.)

Happy 2018 Everybody!

- Chris Butterworth

Winter Days are Short

 

Winter days are short.

Get the big stuff done first.

It's dark when you leave home in the morning. It's dark when you get home after work. And it feels like it's 9:30 by dinnertime.

It's a good idea to get the big stuff done first, before the darkness and short day saps your energy. (This is a good practice all year long, but I find it especially important in the winter.)

- Chris Butterworth

11 Years of blogging - What have I learned?

I wrote my first blog post 11 years ago today. That is a lifetime ago in tech years! And I've gone on to write 1,413 more posts since then.

What have I done right?
What have I done wrong?
What can we learn from 11 years of writing?

image credit - flickr william warby

 

I'm going to grade myself in the areas that I talk about as being the most important for long term success:

1.) Consistency - long-term success is built on being there, day after day, for years.

PASS. I've done very well in this regard. I've written one post every 2.84 days on average. In reality there have been months where I've posted every day and others where I skipped an entire month. But overall I've produced a reasonable amount of content, quarter after quarter, for 11 years.

2.) Constancy of Purpose - more than just 'being there', everyone who has spent time with you should know what you're all about.

PASS. I've done well here, too. Across all topics, my message for 11 years has been something along the lines of "treat people right", "build gradually", "continuous improvement", "small changes over time become big changes", etc.

I'll give myself a passing grade on the first two.

3.) Laser Focus - similar to but different from Constancy of Purpose; success comes from driving the energy of your purpose forward with single-minded intensity.

FAIL, miserably. I have scattered my 1400+ posts across 10 different blogs covering 6 different topics. Even my primary real estate blog went through 4 different locations, 3 different url addresses, and 3 different platforms.


While I'm proud of what I have accomplished over the years, and my writing has generated income, I can only imagine what my audience-reach would be if I had spent 11 years fully engaged and laser focused on a single topic. After having written 1414 posts in the same topic and location, I would probably have a significant voice in that field.

Oh well, I can't change the past. Another day's improvement starts now. So does the next 11 years.

I hope you're giving your own business the consistency, constancy of purpose, and laser focus it deserves...

- Chris Butterworth