Friday, February 14, 2014

The Secret to Happiness

The Secret To Happiness

Tom Sheppard

(excerpted from the soon to be released book "Executive to Entrepreneur: Launching Your Life on Your Terms")

[check out the end of the article for more resources]


What is meaningful to you?

Most people have only vague notions of what is meaningful to them.  Because of this, they drift along through life, experiencing seemingly random bouts of happiness amid an ocean of experiences.

But, what is meaningful to me, and what will give me the most sustainable happiness in this life, is not necessarily what is meaningful for you.  So, if you are drifting along, sailing from bout to bout of happiness, how can you gain the direction you need to experience sustained happiness?

Stephen R. Covey, in his book “First Things First” describes the ideal exercise to help you begin to understand what is truly important to you.  He suggests that you imagine your own funeral, many decades from now of course.  As you look in on the proceedings from the other side of the veil, take pen and paper in hand and write down the words of those who speak at your funeral.  What is it that you want to hear being said about you by:
1.       Your Family?
2.       Your CoWorkers/employees/bosses?
3.       Your Spiritual Guides?
4.       Your Neighbors?
These are the people who are describing the legacy you have left behind.  They are mapping out the marks you have left behind on the lives of others.  What is it that you really want them to be able to say about you?

A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble. 

It is said that there is a tombstone in Scotland, raised over the grave of an old nobleman.  The inscription is said to read, “Good or Ill, He Always Gave Back Twice What He Got.”  That seems like a pretty clear legacy to me.  Is it one you want?


The most essential part of the road map to happiness is the destination. 

"But," you ask, "if it is a road map to happiness, isn't happiness the destination?" 
I hope you'll forgive a bit of mysticism, spirituality or religiosity (however you care to label it). I have found that the entire universe is actually designed and calibrated to move us toward an increasingly happy life.
Consider it like a massive river current on which we ride through our lives.  It does not matter if we believe or see the current and its direction.  Our belief or disbelief will not lessen its inexorable flow in the slightest. 
The Laws of Happiness are no more than signs on the side of the river telling us which way to point the prow of our life so that the current will carry us swiftly onward. 
When we ignore the Laws of Happiness and turn our prow across, or against the current, we encounter resistance and possibly even destruction as our life boat is propelled sideways or backwards down the river and, out of control our lives are dashed against the rocks in the stream or along the shore.
But, turning our prow to ride with the current, we can use our oars to propel and to guide our life boat safely around, over and through the patches of rough water that will afflict all travelers from time to time. 
When our life boat is pointed in the right direction, and we use our oars correctly, we are carried forward toward ever greater joys and happiness. 
When we ignore the current or use our oars improperly, our progress is slowed and we risk destruction of all we hold dearest, not through the wrath of some vengeful god, but simply because we are fighting the inexorable and eternal currents of the universe that are designed to move us from lesser to greater joys and happiness.
Unfortunately, the answer is an unequivocal NO!  You can never find happiness by making it your goal.  Down that road lies an succession of self-indulgent actions, progressively growing in intensity and destructive effects as the thrill of the former experience no longer satisfies.  Until at last, if unchecked, you are destroyed by your own selfish habits.

No, happiness is not achievable through direct pursuit.  It is like the elusive white stag of myth that the hero pursues relentlessly to his ultimate sorrow or doom. Happiness, rather, it is a by-product of doing the right things. It comes from living life the right way.  If you follow the road signs, you can get to where you want to be.  But, if you ignore them, or deliberately go against them, you will never be able to achieve lasting happiness.

When you leave home on a journey, be it for a vacation or a business trip, you first determine where you want to go.  Then, you plan a course of actions to get you where you want to go.  Finally, you follow your plans and heed the signs along the way to help you arrive at your destination safely and quickly.
So it is with a happy life.

Although the achievements I find meaningful and which bring me happiness may be different than yours, there are some universal principles which apply to the pursuit of happiness.  These universal principles are the roads we must follow to find lasting happiness.  There are many roads you can follow, but not all of them lead to where you want to go.  If happiness is what you are seeking, keep reading.  The roads that lead there are going to be unfolded like a map for you to read and guide yourself by.  We will also look at a few of the signs along the way that let you know you are headed the right direction.

Goal Setting

Do Goals Really Make Any Difference?

The evidence is clear.  Goals make all the difference in the world.  Probably the most stunning evidence is the study of Yale Business School Graduates conducted from 1953 to 1973.

The graduating class of 1953 from the business school of Yale University participated in a twenty year study about goals
At the time of their graduation in 1953:
·         87% had no goals.
·         10% had goals which were not written down.
·         3% had clearly defined, written goals.

Twenty years later, in 1973:
·         The 10% with goals had a net worth 300% higher than the 87% without goals.
·         The 3% with clearly defined, written goals had a net worth 1000% higher than the 87% without goals.
·         And the 3% with clearly defined, written goals had a net worth which was greater than the entire net worth of the other 97% put together.

Even if your personal measure of success is not your net worth, this study speaks volumes about the multiplying effect goals have on your ability to achieve whatever you define as success.

A more recent study conducted by Dominican University over just a four week period showed that a group with written goals had a 50% higher success rate than a group with goals that were not written down.  This study didn't address the success of goals groups against those without goals, because there was no universal measure to compare the success of those without goals against those with goals in such a short period of time and when financial net worth was excluded as a measure of success.

What Goals Should I Set?

There are essentially two kinds of goals:  "to have" goals and "to be" goals.

"To have" goals always require the attainment of something external and highly measurable.  Whereas, "to be" goals often seem a bit vague and fuzzy, because they are focused more on our inner life rather than the outer trappings of our lives.

We are all familiar with "to have" goals, however we often disguise them incorrectly as "to be" goals. 
For example, if I set as my goal "to be wealthy," I might think this is a "to be" goal simply because I used the words "to be."  In reality, this is a "to have" goal, because for me to be wealthy, typically requires that I have and external item, wealth.

While "to have" goals are highly measurable (and that is a desirable trait for goal attainment), if they are not set inside a framework of "to be" goals, the results can be catastrophic, even while we attain our goals.  It is critical to understand that how I attain my goals defines who I am and what kind of person I am.  If you don’t believe this, consider the following example:

Three men set the same goal: to be millionaires by the end of one year. Each has the same goal, but the path each follows to attain the goal makes all the difference in what they become.

The first man plots a series of daring robberies, thefts, and drug deals which allows him to amass a fortune of a million dollars.  In the course of attaining his goal he destroys the lives of many people. He attains his goal and spends the rest of his days worrying that the police will arrest him or that a rival will murder him.  He is a criminal, and like the coward who dies a thousand deaths, he is but one unveiling away from the total destruction of all he sought.  And, if you believe in the eternal life of the soul, then when he departs this life, he will have an accounting to make for his actions which will likely be very unpleasant.

The second man builds his fortune selling shoddy products, cheating his customers, cheating his employees, cheating his associates, cheating his suppliers, and cheating the government ~ without getting caught by anyone.  He attains his goal and at the same time has earned himself a good reputation in the community. But, when others heap praise upon him, inside he cringes, hoping that the truth will never come out to destroy his reputation. And when he departs this life, he too will have an eternal accounting to make.

The third man builds his fortune through hard work and honesty. He does not compromise his standards of integrity and excellence.  He makes a quality product and sells it at a fair price.  He treats others in the same way he would like to be treated. He attains his goal and has earned himself a reputation as a man to be trusted.  When others heap praise upon him, he knows that he has earned it and that there are no dark secrets lurking in his past which may be uncovered to destroy him in an instant.  And when he departs this life, he will be able to stand before his Maker without apology for his actions.

At the end of one year, all are millionaires.  Each has attained his goal. But, each is a very different person by the time they lay hold of their goal.  The end result is not the same at all.

What kind of person do you want to be?  It is not your goals that will make the difference as much as how you attain them that will make the difference. The fact is that Nicolo Machiavelli was wrong when he advised that the end justifies the means. 

The way you get something is more important than what you are trying to get. You cannot frame a square house using warped wood.

Stop Doing and Start Doing

One of my personal mentors, Dr. Nido Qubein, taught me a very important, and often overlooked, aspect of setting “to be” goals is that to become what we desire, we often have to stop doing some things and start doing others.

For instance, if you want to be a person who is committed to excellence then you may need to put “Stop cutting corners” at the top of your “Stop Doing” list.

What You Want to Be

Tell me, if you have the courage, what you want to be?  And do not say, "I want to be rich," for "being rich" is about having material things, not being.

I have wanted to be a good husband, a good father, a good son, a good brother, a good provider for my family.  I want to be a blessing to all who know me and come in contact with me.

To "be" any or all of these things requires that the things I "have" are things that are invisible and intangible.  In other words, to "be" those things requires that I become something other than what I was in the past.  To be a blessing to all who know me, I must become wise. I must become kind. I must become charitable. I must become totally trustworthy.  I must be grateful.  I must want for them what I want for myself.
If I become wise, kind, charitable, trustworthy, grateful and want for others what I want for myself, will I not also have material abundance? 

What traits would I lack that would prevent material wealth from flowing to me?

 Industry?  If I am wise, will I not labor when I should and rest when I should?  If I am wise, will I not plant or invest when and where is best and harvest at the right time?

So, what do I lack to obtain these qualities of being that I desire?  Have I not named in my question the very first thing, which if I lack it will prevent me from being all those things - "desire?"

First, I must desire to become all of those things: wise, kind, charitable, trustworthy, grateful and to wish for others what I wish for myself.  Desire then, or hope is the first requirement in becoming.  I must desire or hope  to be something I am not yet.

Having then, the desire to be better than I am now, what next prevents the attainment of my goals?  The answer is belief or faith.  If I want something, but have no belief or faith than I can attain that thing, then I shall not attain it.  And why not?  There is no cosmic mystery here.  If I have no faith in attainment, I take no action toward attainment, believing (without faith) that all such actions would be wasted, instead I devote my actions to serving only what I can see and what is directly evidenced before me.  I have no ability to believe that I can attain what is unseen and so I do not "waste" my energies on wishful thinking and "pipe dreams."

On the other hand, if I believe, if I have faith that I can, through my actions bring myself closer to my unseen, but hoped-for state, then I will take whatever actions I can, meager though they may be at first.  Hoping and believing leads then to action.

And here the magic begins to happen.

For belief in something which is true is a cause both of action and a principle of power.  Firm belief compels us to act and, amazingly, it actually shapes and manipulates the world around us.  For as we act according to our beliefs, it attracts to us others of like mind.  It also begins to open the ways before us so that our actions are less and less restricted and more and more effective in bringing us to our hoped-for state.  Faith is a principle not only of action, it is a principle of power.

This is the "law of attraction" so glibly mouthed by so-called experts and sycophants.  They, believing shallowly, that all they have to do is ask clearly, believing and the universe will deliver, either fail to act or fail to prepare themselves to wisely use what they receive.  Just as I learn in the Bible that "faith without works is dead," so to I must act on my faith so that the world around me can act likewise in accordance with my desire and my faith.

And here, faith and wisdom must intersect.  If I believe in lies, I am not wise.  So, to be wise, I must have correct knowledge and the understanding to use that knowledge effectively for constructive ends.

Faith or belief in anything based on incorrect knowledge is wishful thinking, because it is cut off from the source of power.  "Faith is belief in that which is unseen and which is true.[1]"

So, to become wise and faithful I must know truth.  Jesus said, "you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).  Knowing the truth, my faith then will not be in vain and I will act wisely - having correct knowledge and applying that knowledge effectively for constructive ends.

Even the secular world has an understanding of what wisdom really means:
"knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action"[2] 
I can see from this that even the world recognizes that wisdom is not in knowledge alone, but only when knowledge of truth is coupled with correct action (action based on "just judment."  The "wise man" on the hill who does nothing is worse than useless, he is a liar.  For he, supposedly having wisdom fails to use it to take just actions denies the gift, wastes the wealth, and deceives other seekers of wisdom that inaction is the fruit of wisdom, so only indolent fools will seek after this so-called "wisdom."

Abraham Lincoln and King Solomon are both acknowledged as wise men.  Both were men of action and attainment.  Neither spent their days sitting on a mountain top stargazing and pretending to knowledge that they either did not possess or were unwilling to act on appropriately.  Nor did they spend their days navel-gazing, lost in introspection and an effort to understand themselves before moving to action.

A pursuit of being wise does not mean an abandonment or deferral of all action.  Quite the opposite.  To become wise means that there is a moment of contemplation, a period of study where I attain knowledge ("be still and know that I am God." Psalms 46:10) and having gained knowledge and a witness from God that it is correct knowledge, I then must apply massive action to apply that knowledge correctly and constructively to my world and in myself.

"What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).  If I gain riches and have not gained wisdom, then I have lost my soul.  The important part of this life is what I become, not what I hold in our hands.  In a very real sense, what I become is my only true possession.

If I become wise, I am said to possess wisdom - and it is well said.

If I become charitable, I am said to possess charity.

Likewise kindness, gratitude, and trust.  And these possessions are those " treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." (Matthew 6:20).

Consider, if I am wise, can any thief steal my wisdom?

If I am charitable and filled with that love toward God and man, can that charity rust and fall apart?

If I am kind, will moths eat holes in my kindness and the memories of how my kindness lifted and made better the lives of those around me?

Are not then these (wisdom, charity, kindness, trustworthiness, gratitude) truly treasures in heaven - treasures that are eternal and enduring and which will follow me beyond the grave into whatever lies on the other side of that darkened portal as no material possession can?  I say, "Yes," these are treasures in heaven.

And, having lived a life filled with acts of wisdom, charity, kindness, trustworthiness, gratitude I will be able to run the memories of these acts and their consequences through my mind like bright jewels through my fingers as many times as we thrust our hands into the chest brimming full of shining memories.  And even if the cruel hand of ill-health robs me of our ability to readily recall those memories, they are no less real and they live on in the lives and memories of those whose lives I have touched constructively with my wisdom and my wealth.

This is true wealth - and is something far beyond having material riches. Regardless of my net worth, I am a wealthy man already, for I have many treasures like this.  And my fondest hope is that by my wise use of what God gives me, I will be able to help many others to live abundant lives both spiritually and materially.  I hope this first for my wife, then for my children and family and then for the brothers and sisters, children of my God, who walk around me and come within my sphere of influence.

For my agnostic or atheistic friends I suggest the phrase "the Universe" be used to replace the word "God." I offer this phrase because it suggests the attributes of deity which are particularly applicable to this discussion while providing the agnostic and atheist with a tangible object on which to focus the mind. 
Why is "the Universe" a workable replacement for God in this context? 
A.       It is inarguable that the Universe exists and that it operates on certain invisible rules which continue to operate regardless of our belief or disbelief. And although the rules of the Universe are not always self-evident, their effects are consistent and often very visible.  
B.       For theists the existence of God is inarguable.  God operates according to rules known in their entirety only to His mind and those rules apply regardless of our belief or disbelief.  Although the rules of God are not always self-evident to our minds, their effects are consistent and often very visible. 
And what about "the will" of the Universe that we need to be reconciled with?  See my previous comment on mysticism. The will of the Universe is that awesome current which flows through our lives which will either carry us from joy to joy or dash us against the rocks and whirlpools of unhappiness.
I will attain this goal by:

1)      Desiring it and articulating it clearly.  If my goal is inarticulate, then I do not clearly know what I seek.  Until I can articulate it clearly it can never become reality.  The beginning of wisdom is knowing exactly what you want and why.

2)      Having faith that it is attainable and asserting that faith through prayer, constant prayer, not on my knees all the day long, but on my feet acting to bring it to pass while letting God know what I am seeking.

3)      Learning from God if that is His will, and knowing that I am acting in harmony with His will for mankind in general and for me specifically I can have total confidence that He will guide me and He will make sure that the seeds I plant are good seeds and likely to yield abundant fruits.

4)      Taking massive action every day.  Not expecting that God will give me that which I am unqualified to manage, I will do all that I can to be the person I need to be so that the material means and opportunities entrusted to me will be used, and will not gather dust like the "wise man" on the mountain doing nothing.

5)      Always staying focused on the end purpose and not confusing the means and the ends.  The end is to be a blessing to all who know me.  If my means are cursed or low, the end will not follow. I cannot plant tares and expect to harvest wheat.

I want for others what I want for myself.

Action Steps

1.       Take four sheets of paper, at the top of each, respectively label them A) Family, B) Work, C) Spiritual and D) Community

2.       On each sheet of paper you labeled above, write out what you would like to hear said about you from each of these perspectives.

3.       Take four more sheets of paper and label them as you did in step 1 above.

4.       On each of these sheets, write out what you believe would be said about you from each of these perspectives if you were to die today.

5.       Compare and contrast the results from steps 1 and 2 with the results from steps 3 and 4.  Identify any gaps between the person you want to be and the person you are.

6.       For each gap, determine what you must do in order to become the person you want to be.

7.       Write out a list of assertions based on the person you want to be.  For instance if you want to be remembered as a loving parent, you would write a positive assertion, "I am a loving parent."

8.       Read your assertions out loud every single day at the start of the day. 

9.       As you make decisions during the day, consider each and adjust them to be consistent with the person you assert you are in your assertions.

10.   At the end of the day, reread your assertions out loud.  Consider if any of your actions taken that day were inconsistent with the person you want to be.  On your to-do list for tomorrow, note any actions or decisions you must undo or revise to align them with the person you want to be.

11.   Begin to create measurable, actionable attainment goals ("to have") that can be achieved in the context of your "to be" goals.  We will do more with these high level, measurable goals later.

[1] Joseph Smith, Jr.; The Lectures on Faith

~ Tom Sheppard

Next:  The Leap From Executive to Entrepreneur

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4 Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't Note from Tom S: I have to say, this is one of my all-time favorite business books. It is jam-packed with great information that can be used to make any business better.

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Other Books Related to This Post
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson, Phd
Goal Setting: 13 Secrets of World Class Achievers by Vic Johnson
The Power of Positive Thinking: 10 Traits for Maximum Results by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale  Note from Tom S: This book is the foundation of nearly all other self-improvement books. Dr. Peale broke this ground for all who followed.  I highly recommend it.
Come Out on Top: Goals to Live By by Tom Sheppard
Effortless Prosperity - a program to help you reprogram yourself by listening to the information you need to change your thoughts and change your life.
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Friday, February 7, 2014

Finding Your Passion

What Can You Do?

Tom Sheppard

(excerpted from the soon to be released book "Executive to Entrepreneur: Launching Your Life on Your Terms")
Finding your passion, your chief aim in life, is the first step to building the fire in your belly that will help you to overcome all obstacles to attain that chief aim.

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Having determined what you really want in life, you  are prepared to use your assets effectively.

In your corporate career, you have developed certain skills and acquired certain knowledge.  You may or may not realize how specialized that knowledge really is.

A woman I worked with was an executive assistant to a senior executive.  She did her job very well.  She kept this executive organized and focused.  She filed his documents and key papers in good order and was able to retrieve them quickly when needed.  She kept his schedule in good order, helping him to block out time for his most important activities and separating the urgent and unimportant from the important  but non-urgent and those things that were both urgent and important.

To the view of many, she had an unremarkable skill set.  That is because they did not appreciate the skills and knowledge she possessed.  Instead of looking at the ways she helped her boss to succeed, they focused on the power and prestige of her boss.  Not pausing to consider how much less successful he would be if he had to spend time filing and retrieving his own papers, screening his own calls, and spending time trying to block out the unimportant things so that he could focus on the important things demanding his attention.
This woman dreamed of owning her own business, but thought that she would have to learn some trade to make that happen.  I coached her for some time and showed her that she already had all the skills she needed to use as the basis for her business.

How many small business owners could benefit from the services she provided to that senior executive?  Most would benefit significantly.  But, most small business owners could not afford the salary and benefits they would have to pay to attract and retain someone with her qualifications.

I coached her to do two things, she could either be a pair of helping hands, or she could be a source of guidance.  These two offerings took at least five different forms of engagement she could offer potential clients.  Each of these had different ways of making her money and transforming her skills into a business.

1.       She could rent out her services to qualified business owners.  She would come in and organize their office and then come into the office on a periodic basis to sustain that organization.  She would also teach the business owner her skills so that the business owner could manage to a degree without her.

2.       She could  train others to do what she does.  She could come into a small business and work with the much less qualified and experienced assistant the business owner could afford.  She would guide that assistant in organizing the office and teach them how to sustain that organization as well as understanding why things needed to be done in a particular manner.  She could then come back from time to time to make sure things were staying on track.

3.       She could help the small business owner to screen and hire a qualified assistant.  Knowing the mindset and skill set needed, my friend could bring her expertise to bear to help the business owner get the help he needed without wasting time and energy hiring and firing unsuitable candidates.

4.       She could offer her services in partnership with the business owner and get a piece of the profits or equity from the business that would result from her helping the owner to focus on what s/he needed to do to make the business revenues come in.

5.       She could create her own stable of qualified and trained assistants who she could then place on either temporary, permanent, or consulting contracts with small business owners.  In effect she would be a very specialized employment agency, but one with a unique value proposition: her personal intervention and training to make sure the assistants met her high standards.

I chose this example because it is less obvious than many others. But it follows a model for turning your skills into a business that is universally applicable.  I call it the Consultant Model.


Many people with highly specialized knowledge frequently use the Consultant Model as the landing pad for their exit from corporate-world.

In effect you get the best of both worlds.  You gain a degree of autonomy and control over your destiny that you lacked as an employee, and you retain the security of doing work with people, companies and an industry where you are comfortable and, hopefully, well known.

Some characteristics you need to succeed as a consultant are:
·         Do you like to work regular hours, or are you willing to trade regular hours for a schedule that may see you work evenings and weekends or long hours as you ramp up?
·         Is it important to you to have a steady paycheck?
·         Are you willing to do your own admin work, such as answering the phone, photocopying, responding to email, mailing out information, and other tasks that you might currently have other people to help with?
·         Do you need someone to tell you to start or keep working at a project?
·         Can you get up in the morning and start working without being told to do so?

What is a consultant?  

Peter Block, in his book "Flawless Consulting"  (recommended reading if you want to be a consultant), defines a consultant as "a person in a position to have some influence over an individual, a group, or an organization, but who has no direct power to make changes or implement programs. Consultants plan, recommend, assist, and advise.

Take note that if you are frustrated when you see what needs to be done and others won't do it, being a consultant may not be the right niche for you.  However, take heart.  Mr. Block notes that not everyone we call a consultant is really a consultant.

Some "consultants" are actually helping hands to get work done.  Folks in this role are usually called contractors. 

Consultants are usually paid by the hour, day or project, on commission, or based on performance. They are independent contractors and not employees of the hiring organization.

What are the risks of being a consultant?  

Consultants have freedom to choose their own hours, take vacations when they want, pick clients, refuse assignments and work with a variety of projects. However, to become a consultant, you let go of regular pay, administrative help, benefits and health care, tech support and other things many employees take for granted. When you become a consultant, you may also find yourself working alone, without the moral, creative and administrative support of co-workers.

A seasoned expert will often become a consultant after spending years in a field or industry. Seen as a true opinion leader, this veteran will often become a consultant by contracting back to their previous employer and business contacts. The seasoned professional who decides to become a consultant tends to be in high demand, because their specialized knowledge cannot be found elsewhere in the company. This expert will often become a consultant because their old company and colleagues beg them for help.

How much does it cost to be a consultant?  

Becoming a consultant can cost as little or as much as you want. Some people can become consultants simply by getting a city business permit and handing out their name and number. Others need websites, home offices, brochures, licensing, and other materials. By creating a business plan, you can figure out how much it costs before you take the plunge in becoming a consultant.
At a minimum, you will want to satisfy the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service for their definition of what substantiates that this is a business and not just a hobby.


Another model is the Coaching Model. The example at the start of this section actually incorporates some elements of the coaching model.

In the coaching model, you use your knowledge and skills to help others to develop similar knowledge and skills.  You help your clients to see their issues from a different perspective and to adjust their skills and gain the knowledge they need to get the job done themselves.

Master Coach Steve Mitten explains why he loves being a life coach:
·         It allows me to really make a difference in people's lives.
·         Coaching allows me to connect with a dynamic and diverse group of interesting people all over the globe, every working day.
·         It provides the freedom to work flexible hours from my home in winter, and the family cabin in summer. (There is never a commute, and I am always close to my family.)
·         It allows me to make a comfortable 6-figure income working about 25-30 hours a week and take off about 185 days a year.
·         It allows me to continue to learn and grow, and keeps me in a supportive professional community of open, caring and dedicated people.
Before you get too excited about that 6-figure salary he mentions, bear in mind that most coaches need to have a business doing something that earns steady income.  For most of us the coaching is a natural outgrowth of our success, as people see what we are doing and ask us to teach them how to succeed.
Mitten notes that there are three big factors that will largely determine your success or failure as a coach:

  1. You need to really enjoy coaching.
  2. You need to get good training and be constantly learning.
  3. You need to be a very good marketer.

The reality is that these three success factors apply to any entrepreneurial endeavor.  You need to enjoy your business.  You need to keep your skills and knowledge current.  And, you need to be able to market your business (aka your self) very effectively.

Your Own Shop

Your Own Shop is another model and is shown is point #5 of the example.  You can create your own company, hiring staff and training them to deliver the kind of service and knowledge that you provide.  In effect, you duplicate yourself to provide your services to more clients than you could service on your own.  The other alternative is that you expand yourself by hiring people with complementary skill sets so that you can offer a broader range or end-to-end services for your clients.  That way they can get a finished product from you instead of just being given one piece of the puzzle.

Your Products

But what are your products?  If you don't know the answer to this, you will never be able to build your landing pad based on what you do today.

Consider, what are the key elements of your corporate performance plan?  Those should give you a good clue about what products or services your current employer considers as the value you bring to the organization.

What is it that you do for your employer?  What accomplishments can you point to?  Make a list, and be sure to list all accomplishments for all employers, no matter how long ago or for how short a period you worked for them.  You probably should include accomplishments outside of work also.

It may take you a few days to put together this list.  You may have to sort through your old files and memories and even renew some old acquaintances. List each accomplishment in as much detail as you can.  Try to answer the following question for each accomplishment you list:
 How many people were affected?
How much time was saved by how many people?
How much money was saved per year?
How much revenue was generated?
What recognition was received?
What skills, knowledge, and abilities did you have to use to accomplish this?

If you cannot remember any or all of the answers to these questions, that is fine, list the accomplishment anyway.  When you start talking with your old chums from the company where you achieved it, they may be able to refresh your memory.  If all else fails, make a best guess estimate.
These accomplishments are your output, your product

Action Steps

1.       Identify your products
a.       Make a list of your accomplishments and responsibilities as found in your performance reviews and performance plans.
b.      Make a list of your accomplishments and responsibilities that you may have from any volunteer activities you perform.
c.       Use these two lists to create a list of your potential products and services. Focus especially on the products or services where you excel.
2.       Identify your current clients
a.       Consider who do you provide services to today? Who takes what you do and uses it to further their own purposes?
b.      Create a profile of each different type of person or function that uses your work to further their own ends.
c.       Use the results of these two steps to list out your potential clients and client types.

3.       Consider the model you want for your landing pad and select one to start with.  It doesn't mean you cannot add others later, but you need to start with one approach so that you can structure your plan around that approach.

Tom Sheppard

Next:  The Secret to Happiness

Topics Related to This Post: 
Consulting, Resume, Coaching, Career Test, Job Search

Books Related to This Post
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson, Phd
The Consulting Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Expand a Seven-Figure Consulting Practice by Alan Weiss
Flawless Consulting by Peter Block

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Amazon Top 5 Books on Success Self Help

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