Welcome to another episode of The LeaveBetter Podcast where I interview high performers and business owners to glean from their wisdom and practical routines, habits, and mindsets— that you can apply to your own life.
Sometimes, rather than an interview, I riff on a particular self-sabotaging habit and it’s remedies.
In this episode, we are pleased to have Cary Prejean—a native of Louisiana and the founder of CFO Consulting, LLC. He works with business owners to help them turn their business into what he’s labeled “the well-oiled machine” process.
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Remember: the actions you take today set you up for six months from now. So do something today that pushes you toward that next level of you. So go be INTENTIONAL.
The power of a good question cannot be quantified.
Or of a good question-er, for that matter.
Conversely, people who are poor at creating the questions which lead them to the next level, whether that be in a relationship, in their career, or in their business bewilder me. Moreover, As a result of their lack of curiosity, they languish at their current level of (under) functioning.
Questions unlock doors; they open up spaces. When people ask good questions and then listen to the answers, they come away with a new perspective and possible action steps that make their life, or the life of others better. Similarly, You have the opportunity to shift your business into new places which, prior to asking these questions, you might not have even thought about.
Here are two questions which are thought-provoking:
Are you proud of the choices you are making at home?
Are you proud of the choices you are making at work?
These alone can chart your course for the rest of the year.
Or, how about this one:
What do you need today?
You can ask this question of yourself—something rare and difficult to do. However, even more daring and profoundly impacting, what if you ask your closest loved ones? Or your employees? Or your customers?
And don’t let them shrug it off with ‘I don’t know’.
Yet, all too often we stay lodged in our superficial sureness and our schedules, never bothering to venture out into another person’s deeper experience, including our own. As a consequence, we miss incredible opportunities to grow and improve the service we bring to others.
Here is another important question:
What next action will move my business or life forward?
If asked, and action follows, the previous question can absolutely change your life and move your business forward to the next level.
Notice good questions.
2. Write them down.
3. And lastly, ask them.
The positive changes they bring about will amazing you.
“The root word for courage is cor – the latin word for heart … Courage originally meant, ‘to speak one’s mind, by telling all one’s heart.’ …I think we have lost touch with the idea that speaking openly and honestly about who we are, about what we’re feeling and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that is pretty extraordinary.” – Brene’ Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection.
Last weekend, I had the unfortunate experience of NOT speaking my mind.
I was at an advanced professional therapy conference – one where there were only 30 attendees, all peers of sorts. We were given the dreaded “group project” – the sort of thing you do with team building; however this was done straight out of the gates – we had done introductions, but you know how it is – very few remembered nor cared what the other person’s name or position was.
In the context of this “experience” the 12 of us were told to develop a treatment plan. However, we were not told whom we were treating, nor how much time we had to develop this plan. We didn’t know ages, issues, number of clients. In short, we were sent out with a bunch of props and told to create something.
It was chaos.
One thing I failed to mention – involved in this “treatment plan” were 6 horses loose in an arena. And now our job was to integrate them with the 12 of us and some bits of string.
It was pandemonium. The animals were nervous. The people were upset and all yelling different ideas toward one another. Few were listening. At one point, I said to no one in particular, “This is so stupid.” A person next to me agreed.
When “time” was called, we were pulled back into the larger group and asked to debrief. Many people were angry; a few, downright hostile. Accusations were flying. I was dumbfounded at these “professionals” who had basically lost it out there. Granted several were quite young, not finished with their training, but still.
We were told that the next day we would do it again and to come up with our own goal. Within seconds, people said, “communication and cohesiveness.” It was the only thing our group agreed on – that we needed some form of communication and a way to get on the same page.
The following day, we were told we had 25 minutes to develop an intervention to work toward communication and cohesion. Feeling somewhat hopeless, I asked the group if they felt like it would be useful to have a facilitator – could they appoint one person to moderate the discussion? That fell on deaf ears and the non-verbal vibe was SHUT UP.
A person in the group pointed out that people weren’t listening to one another and interrupting. Someone else suggested a “talking stick” – that whoever held the object could talk and everyone else would listen. A person offered up their coffee spoon as the “stick.” Someone else took it and began to talk.
Okay. I’m fine with this. Whatever works. Sometimes people need a structure to help.
As people took the spoon and shared their ideas, I realized that three individuals across the circle had not spoken. I asked for the spoon, and said that I would like to pass the spoon to them and hear what they had to say.
At that point, one of the silent three exploded and GLARED at me with intense anger. She said loudly, “I AM NOT A DAMN CHILD THAT I NEED TO BE TOLD WHEN I CAN SPEAK AND WHEN I CAN’T. I WILL NOT BE SILENCED AND I DON’T NEED YOU TO TELL ME WHEN I CAN TALK AND WHEN I CAN’T.” Her eye contact never left mine – it was like she was holding me personally responsible for the spoon thing.
Silence hung in the air as the whole group stared at us. I put the spoon in my back pocket.
Generally, I am not at a loss for words, but I felt like anything from me would be gasoline on a fire. However, my mind had plenty to say, such as, “Wow. She’s got issues.” And, “Really? You’re going to haul off and attack me for this spoon thing? I’m not the one who suggested it. Where do you get off being so RUDE?” And then there was the self-righteous thought: this little snot is not going to rattle me … I’ll just stand here, unflappable and NICE. That’ll show her!” (You’re brain does weird things when it is under fire).
After an eternal pause one of the other participants, a woman with tightly curled hair said, “Do you have a suggestion that would make this better?”
Aggressive girl kept yelling. “I DON’T KNOW, BUT I WON’T BE SILENCED. AND NO ONE IS GOING TO TELL ME WHEN I CAN TALK AND WHEN I CAN’T”
Curly engaging woman: “I have to say that right now, I feel I could do something and you could get really, really angry, but I don’t know what that thing is. It’s like there are unspoken rules that we don’t know about. I don’t like that feeling. Is there something that you can say that would help me understand?”
I knew exactly how she was feeling. Like if I say anything, this is going to disintegrate. I thought it took remarkable courage for her to speak so openly.
Aggressive girl softened and began to share her feelings in a more rational manner. Others began to speak.
People began talking, and shortly thereafter, the facilitators interrupted and said the time was up.
Later, I had lunch with Jill and we debriefed the situation.
I asked her what made her willing to risk speaking up. She said that she had just finished treatment for breast cancer and that she was no longer willing to not speak her truth.
“When you know your own truth and you chose to not say it, it damages you. I need to take care of myself and I am not willing to stay silent any longer. And if it makes others uncomfortable, so be it.”
Jill is right … staying silent is toxic to your soul. It damages you. It damages me.
I was talking to a friend the other day about how I was systematically trying to change my internal ideology and how difficult it is to do. Partly, this arises from the fact that you are basically blind to yourself – you live inside you, so it’s hard for you to step outside of your thinking errors or even underdeveloped thoughts.
I recently read The Four-Hour Work Week and was delighted to see that over the last two years, as I have expended monumental effort to change my internal ideologies, I have discovered and implemented the very ideas that Tim Ferriss is promoting in his famous book on time / life management.
Two helps he proposed that I have adopted:
1) Reduce / Eliminate meetings of all kinds. If you can’t get rid of the meeting altogether, see if you can deal with it on the phone or via e-mail. Never have a meeting without an understood goal and end point. This has saved me TONS of frustration and many hours.
2) The Customer is Not Always Right. From a business standpoint, this means get rid of your most high-maintenance customers. They suck up 80 % of your time and energy and give very little back. For someone not in business, this means look at who creates drama in your life and do something to reduce your exposure to these types of people.
I have been experiencing the “spinning wheel of death” of late. (Of course, do you even have to ask? I am a mac user!)
The sad fact of it all is that my hard drive is in it’s twilight years, and may not be with us for very much longer.
I tried a couple of things earlier; a software ‘clean-up’ program and an OS upgrade. Interestingly, both of these things did not solve the problem, but rather made it worse.
Sometimes we try to dress up the externals – new clothes, home renovation, new relationship, etc. But, if the issue is internal, those things are not likely to help. And, they might just add to the disaster. You have to deal with the DNA. Heal the soul. Fix the heart. Mend the theology. Reconcile the relationship.
If your core is having a breakdown, a new outfit doesn’t really solve the problem.