Monthly Archives: December 2008

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies Positively and Negatively Impact Your Life

Managers often predict the performance of their staff with precision and accuracy. Employees can tell you exactly how their coworkers, bosses, and customers will act in certain situations. This doesn’t mean they have psychic abilities. Instead they may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. According to The Law of Self-fulfilling Prophecy, people respond the way you expect them to respond. You then get what you expect…

There are two types of self-fulfilling prophecies. The first is the “Pygmalion Effect.” You have expectations about someone. You then treat them according to your expectations of them. How you treat them causes them to act according to your expectations. Lo and behold! You discover that you were right all along.

The second type of self-fulfilling prophecy is where people change their behavior to agree with a prophecy. For example, investors expect the stock market to go down so they stop investing or they sell their stock. Their actions cause the market to drop. By acting on their expectations, the investors created what they expected.

We live in an information culture and as a society we crave more and more facts. The “catch-22,” however, is that the information we regularly receive is not always the whole truth. Newspapers, radio stations, broadcast networks, etc. are in business to make money. The simple fact is that Positive “touchy feeley” stories do not sell long-term. “Shock and Awe” stories grab the audience. Who hasn’t heard the news about holiday shopping predicted to be lower in 2008 than ever, the economy is falling into the worse recession than the Great Depression, unemployment is growing at record numbers? What I find interesting is that I can recall stories in major publications about holiday sales forecast to be low back in September.

Holiday sales were indeed down, but why is that? Stores are selling virtually everything in their inventory at deeply discounted prices and the majority of Americans are employed making the same or more than they did in 2007. Home prices and interest rates are at the lowest in recent memory, yet people are not buying or refinancing. The reason is because we are subconsciously reacting to the negative information and changing our behavior accordingly.

Self-fulfilling prophecies are cyclical. We form expectations. We communicate those expectations either explicitly or indirectly. People then adjust their behavior in response to how we treat them and consequently match our expectations. The original expectations become true. This reinforces our original expectations.

We all see examples of self-fulfilling prophecies in our daily lives. For example, when we go to a restaurant expecting bad service we send nonverbal signals to the server that makes them wish they weren’t serving your table and sure enough you get bad service. What are we thinking when we are standing in line at the Department of Transportation waiting to renew our license plates?

The self-fulfilling prophecy works with our own behavior and with others. People who expect to be successful are more likely to succeed. People who expect to fail are more likely to fail. We live up to our expectations in either case.

Here are some interesting things to note about self-fulfilling prophecies.

  • A self-fulfilling prophecy occurs despite the truth or falsity of the prophecy. For example, a salesperson thinks that they have sold out their sales territory. Therefore they don’t do the things that help generate sales. As they expected, they don’t sell anything. Along comes a new salesperson who doesn’t know that other sales people have sold out their sales territory, and they set record sales.
  • There is plenty of experimental evidence that proves the self-fulfilling prophecy phenomenon. For example, experiments have shown that teachers who believe that their students are top performers get top performance out of their students. Conversely, teachers who believe that their students are poor performers get poor performance from their students. Students live up to the expectations of their teachers.
  • Forming expectations is a natural process and is unavoidable. You will form expectations and act based upon those expectations. Other people will respond to how you act. The problem is that we usually don’t realize that we are influencing other people’s behavior to match our expectations.
  • Expectations about ourselves tend to be self-sustaining and self-reinforcing. Because of our expectations, we filter and select information that supports our expectations.
  • We are more comfortable with people who match our expectations than with people who do not meet our expectations—regardless of whether our expectations are high or low. We are more comfortable when we believe we can predict other people’s behavior.
  • A manager or supervisor’s expectations about their employee’s performance affect the employee’s performance. This is particularly true with performance evaluations. Performance evaluations not only appraise past performance but influence and shape future performance.
  • Self-fulfilling prophecies affect stereotypes and may reinforce stereotypical behavior. Because you stereotype someone, you treat them consistent with your stereotype. Consequently, they respond consistently with how you treat them. Their response confirms your belief in the truthfulness of the stereotype. Self-fulfilling prophecies affect our beliefs about racial and ethnic groups, gender differences, aging, health, and generational differences.

Let’s set our goals for 2009 right now. Let’s all agree to make this the best year ever and that regardless of what happens around us we will only focus on the positive.

Happy New Year!

Chicago CIO and Entrepreneur. Started @Orbitz, @AssureFlight, Team ITG, YourPrivateLine and others. I Love technology, startups and meeting interesting people.

Achieving Financial Success

There are two great principles for achieving financial success. The first is called the law of attraction. The law of attraction says that you are a living magnet. It says that your thoughts create a force field of energy that radiates out from you and attracts back into your life people and circumstances in harmony with them. Any thought you have, combined with an emotion, positive or negative, radiates out from you and attracts back into your life the people, circumstances, ideas and opportunities consistent with it.

How to Attract the Success You Desire
Many people feel that this is perhaps the most important of all mental laws. It says that if you have a very clear idea in your mind of your desired goal, to become wealthy, and you can hold that idea in your mind on a continuing basis, you will inevitably draw into your life the resources that you need in order to achieve it. Every person who has become wealthy or successful has become wealthy and successful as a result of holding the idea of wealth and success in their mind long enough and hard enough, until they drew into their lives the resources they needed to accomplish it.

Your World Reflects Your Thoughts
The second principle is called the law of correspondence. This mental law is very powerful. It says, “as within, so without.” It says that your outer world is like a mirror that reflects back to you what is going on in your inner world. And this law of correspondence says that everything that happens outside of you corresponds to something that’s going on inside of you. When they say that your outer world is a reflection of your inner world, they mean both at a conscious and at a subconscious level.

Visualize Your Goals Clearly
If you consciously believe that you have the ability to achieve your goals and you can hold a picture of those goals clearly in your mind long enough and hard enough, eventually your outer world will correspond with it.

Three Reflections of Success
There are three places where I see the law of correspondence. First of all, your outer world of people will correspond exactly with your own attitude. You will always see your attitude reflected back to you in the faces and the behaviors of the people around you. If you have a positive, optimistic attitude, people will respond to you almost immediately, even before you open your mouth, in a positive and cheerful way.

Relationships Show You Who You Are
The second area of the law of correspondence is in your relationships. Your relationships will always mirror back to you exactly the kind of a person you are. When you are happy and optimistic and at peace, your relationships will be happy and harmonious and loving. But when your thinking is disrupted or negative for any reason, consciously or unconsciously, this will be immediately reflected in your relationships.

Inner and Outer Wealth
The third place you see the law of correspondence is with regard to your wealth. Your external world of wealth and financial accomplishment will be a mirror image of your inner world of preparation. The only part of the equation that you can control is your conscious thoughts, and if you can keep your conscious thoughts on what you want, on your images of wealth and affluence, eventually your external world of reality and experiences will reflect it back to you.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do to apply these principles in your financial life:

First, guard your thoughts carefully. Whatever you think about, combined with the emotions of desire or fear, you will attract into your life. Be sure that you are attracting what you want by continuing to think only about what you want.

Second, keep feeding your mind with new information, ideas and pictures of the person you want to be and the life you want to live. By creating this inner attitude of mind, you change the outer aspects of your reality.

Chicago CIO and Entrepreneur. Started @Orbitz, @AssureFlight, Team ITG, YourPrivateLine and others. I Love technology, startups and meeting interesting people.

Principal Driven Life

The strength and durability of a building is found in its foundation. The same is true in a life. What we accomplish and the effect we have on those around us is not only in what we do, but also in who we are. In fact, what we do is driven by who we are, what we believe and value and by the principles that we live by.

Principles give us direction in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. They are transferable to any given situation and will determine our direction. Those who do not have permanent principles will find themselves drifting along and making decisions that are personally expedient, short-term oriented and usually bad for their long-term success.

So I thought I would share with you the principles that govern my life. These are the ideas and concepts that drive my behavior, my career, and my family. I would encourage you to sit down and write out your own principles. Those that drive your life, or at least that you want to drive your life!

God first, others second, me third. Gale Sayers, the running back of the Chicago Bears wrote a book titled “I am Third.” This is true. If I am to do and be what I want to do and be in this life, I recognize that I must have my priorities right. Some people think that the way to success is to put themselves first. This is short-term thinking. Yes, you may be able to accomplish much in the near-term, but long-term, the best is accomplished by those who live by the above.

Always be completely honest. You really only have your character when it comes right down to it, and honesty is the quickest way to determine your character. Live in such a way that you can be completely honest and be willing to accept the responsibility that being completely honest will bring.

Make it your goal to help others, income will come from that. Zig Ziglar is the one who got me thinking about that. If you take care of others and their needs, you will earn your income. If you simply try to earn income, people will stop responding to you and you will have defeated yourself.

You reap what you sow. This is the most common truth on earth. You put an apple seed into the ground, you get an apple tree. An orange seed produces an orange tree. If you invest, your money will grow. If you eat right and exercise you will lose weight. If you are kind to others they will be kind to you.

The true measure of a man’s wealth is in the things he can afford not to buy. This is one of my favorite quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Things are great to have and so is money, but true riches are the priceless things we can’t buy, like our family, our integrity and the sense of a job well done. Pursue true wealth.

Work smart – and hard. Some say you should work smart, not hard. I say work smart and hard. A good day of hard work is a blessing and ought to be appreciated. Hard work is what changes the world – as long as it is smart, hard work!

Follow through on all commitments. If there is one thing I can’t stand it is when someone doesn’t do what they say they will. When we don’t do what we say we will, we essentially say that the job wasn’t important, the people we promised it to aren’t important, and that we can’t be trusted. This is a good way to short-circuit your success.

Challenge others to greatness. There are enough people who will hold out the low bar for people to step over. I want to be a person who holds up the high bar, causing people to have to run and jump with all their might. And when they clear that high bar, I want to be there celebrating with them!

Find ways to generously give of your resources. The old saying is true – you can’t take it with you. But you can spread it around to lots of people while you are here. If we wait until we die to give money away, we don’t get any satisfaction in seeing how it is used and enjoyed. Write a few good-sized checks each month!

Treat people right no matter how they treat you. You cannot control another person’s behavior. It took me a long time to realize that. I can only control my behavior. And I can choose to do what is right no matter how another person treats me. If everybody retaliated every time someone treated them bad, we would have a mess on our hands. Instead, choose to act appropriately at all times.

When relationships go bad, be the first to hold out the olive branch. Life is too short to leave a relationship broken. As much as it is up to me, I will pursue reconciliation, for their sake, and for mine. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and wish I tried harder in my relationships. For this reason I attempt to restore broken relationships.

Regularly try new things. This is what keeps the spice of life going! Try new foods, go to new places, and make new friends. You will be amazed at the joy you receive and are able to give when you make it a habit to try new things. Break out of the mold, do something unusual today!

Treat everyone equally. No one is better than anyone else. I know people with tens of millions of dollars and people who do not have two nickels to rub together. They are both equally valuable and worthy of being treated as such. Don’t fall into the trap of treating some people better than others. It doesn’t matter what color they are or how much money they have or what country they come from, treat them with the respect and dignity each human deserves.

Use any success you have to help others. What good is success that only helps you? Instead, use the money you make to help others. Use the connections you make to help someone else up. Use the knowledge you achieve to give someone else a leg up. Take what you have and give to others so that they may join you on the journey of success.

Look down the economic scale more often than up. When I look up the economic scale too often I become greedy and unsatisfied. I become selfish. Looking down at others who have less than me on a regular basis keeps me humble. It reminds me of all of the blessings I have and keeps me thankful for them.

I want to encourage you to sit down soon and write out the principles that guide your life. It is an excellent exercise that will help you refocus and keep your life going in the right direction!

Chicago CIO and Entrepreneur. Started @Orbitz, @AssureFlight, Team ITG, YourPrivateLine and others. I Love technology, startups and meeting interesting people.

Multitasking is Out – Pinpointed Focus is in

Have you ever had this experience?…

You’re working on a project that requires creativity, such as drafting a report or working on budgets, and suddenly the phone rings, jolting you out of deep concentration. Even if you don’t answer the phone, it takes a few beats before you can re-anchor into what you were doing before.

That time lapse is your “mental CEO” shifting from one task, with a specific goal and set of “rules,” to another, with a completely different goal and set of rules. That shift takes time. The more complex the tasks, the longer the shift takes.

What else are you trying to do while reading this posting?

Sure, we can multitask. We might even believe we can do it without losing efficiency. But we would be fooling ourselves.

It has been proven in scientific studies that toggling between tasks slows the brain down. In effect, multitasking makes us momentarily stupid — unable to establish priorities, focus, or integrate anything new.

Have you ever tried to read your email while listening to a conference call? How about trying to have a serious conversation on your cell phone while driving?

Yes? Then you know that neither was done with your full presence or capacity. It’s as if you weren’t there for half of the time. You neither fully understood the emails nor fully integrated what the call offered. Too little of your consciousness was on driving – scary – and you couldn’t fully connect in the conversation.

We all know that multitasking has real costs. So why do we still do it?

It’s ingrained in our habits. All the “time-saving” devices of our technological age encourage us to be distracted and lose the ability to focus. And that’s a significant loss because focus is what brings prosperity. Distraction keeps us from it.

Focus means your full attention. Here are five daily practices to attain pinpointed focus and stop multitasking.

1. Clear your desk of anything unrelated to your current goal. Things command attention. The less you have before you, the less likely you’ll be distracted. If you are in an open environment like we are at Orbitz then schedule a conference room.

2. Schedule your time into blocks so that you can focus in on one individual task at a time. Include separate blocks for completing high payoff actions, emailing, working with clients, planning, etc. Then set sacred boundaries around those tasks. Complete one, then move on.

3. Do the most important thing first. High payoff actions are the things that will have the biggest positive impact on your success. What will bring you the results you want most quickly? Put that first, always.

4. Take short breaks away from technology between time blocks or tasks. Take a walk around the block, play music, do something physical or creative. This will clear your mind and help your mental CEO recalibrate to the next task.

5. Plan for tomorrow. Schedule 1 to 3 high payoff activities for the next business day.

Become a master single-tasker!

Take the next 30 days and replace your multitasking habits with these five daily practices and see how much more you accomplish and with less stress.

Chicago CIO and Entrepreneur. Started @Orbitz, @AssureFlight, Team ITG, YourPrivateLine and others. I Love technology, startups and meeting interesting people.

Make the Most of Your Day

When was the last time you complained that you had too much time on your hands? If you are like me, you probably cannot remember that far back. The truth is that the majority of us cannot squeeze into a 24-hour period all the items written on our daily planners. A common mistake most people make is to attempt to find time instead of make time!

How do you MAKE time?
FIRST, define your most important goals: A burning desire to reach a specific goal motivates you to make time to take the required actions. Write down specifically how you will use extra time. Will you spend it making personal calls, three-way calls, attending training meetings, making new contacts?

SECOND, chart your time: Note how you spend each hour. Most time is wasted, not in hours, but in minutes. A bucket with a small hole in the bottom becomes just as empty as the one that is deliberately kicked over.

THIRD, organize your time to plug the time leaks: Assume the attitude that every minute that does not work for you, works against you. To make the most of your time, try these proven time savers:

  1. Examine the usual daily interruptions. See how many you can eliminate immediately, screen out, or delegate. Set aside a specific time for phoning people on your prospect list, making presentations, keeping up with the detail part of the job, attending training meetings, reading and sending emails and phone calls. These designated time blocks do not always work; emergencies occur, demanding flexibility in scheduling. But when you have a plan for organizing and investing your time, that extra hour of time each day will be available.
  2. Analyze your energy cycle. Determine when you tend to be at your best physically and mentally. Schedule challenging tasks during those times of peak performance and you will accomplish more in less time. I have more energy in the morning hours than I do in the afternoon hours, so I have always scheduled the majority of my meetings and phone calls first thing in the morning. For some people it is just the opposite. They are evening people and work better in the evenings.
  3. Think about time the way you think about money. The more wisely you invest time, the greater the yield. Before you invest time in a given activity, ask yourself, “Is there something more profitable I could be doing?” And remember, making face-to-face contacts and presentations will ALWAYS be the most profitable thing you can do!!

Make the most of your life by making the most of every minute, every hour and every day!!

Chicago CIO and Entrepreneur. Started @Orbitz, @AssureFlight, Team ITG, YourPrivateLine and others. I Love technology, startups and meeting interesting people.

Good Things Come to Those Who Ask

Asking for what you need is probably the most underutilized tool for people. And yet, amazing requests have been granted to people simply because they’ve asked for it! Whether it’s money, information, support, assistance, or time, most people are afraid to ask for what they need in order to make their dreams come true.

They might be afraid of looking needy, ignorant, helpless, or even greedy. More than likely, though, it is the fear of rejection that is holding them back. Even though they are afraid to hear the word no, they’re already saying it to themselves by not asking!

Do you ask for what you want? Are you afraid of rejection?

Consider this: Rejection is just a concept. There is really no such thing as rejection! You’re not any worse off by hearing no than you were before you asked. You didn’t have what you asked for before you asked and you still don’t, so what did you lose? Being rejected doesn’t hold you back from anything. Only YOU hold yourself back. If you are told no, ask for what you’d have to do to get it, or ask again at another time when the circumstances have changed. Ask if they know someone else who might say yes. When you realize that there’s no merit to rejection, you’ll feel more comfortable asking for things. But you may need a bit of help learning how to ask for what you want.

First, ask as though you expect to get it. Be confident in your request coming from a perspective that there’s no reason why you wouldn’t get it. If they say no, you can ask them why, or what you would need to do to get a yes. You might need to form a better business plan before you will get a loan. You might need to take a course in computers before you will get a promotion. You might need to spend more quality time with your family before you will get the loving support you need. By getting this feedback you are able to make adjustments and ask again with better chances of getting a yes.

Second, assume you can get what you want if you only ask for it. You want a window seat? Assume all you have to do is ask for it. You want an ocean view? Cheaper tickets? A scholarship? A better deal? Just ask for it as if that’s all you have to do to get it.

And finally, be specific about what you want or need. Do you want to make $5,000 more a year? Then don’t just ask for a raise. Ask for $5,000 more a year. Vague requests produce vague results. Don’t just ask for more time with your spouse; ask for a date on Friday night. Don’t ask for help on a project; ask for what you want that person to take care of.

Getting a good perspective on rejection and learning how to ask will make a world of difference for you as you work toward your goals. Practice asking and you’ll get very good at it! You’ll even speed your progress by getting what you need, or improving yourself in order to get it later.

Make a list of what you need to ask for in all areas of your life, then start asking!

Chicago CIO and Entrepreneur. Started @Orbitz, @AssureFlight, Team ITG, YourPrivateLine and others. I Love technology, startups and meeting interesting people.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!

“One of the great undiscovered joys of life comes from doing everything one attempts to the best of one’s ability. There is a special sense of satisfaction, a pride in surveying such a work, a work which is rounded, full, exact, complete in its parts, which the superficial person who leaves his or her work in a slovenly, slipshod, half-finished condition, can never know. It is this conscientious completeness which turns any work into art. The smallest task, well done, becomes a miracle of achievement.” – Og Mandino

“Do it right and be the best” has been my motto my entire life. My internal drive is no doubt a key to why I have been successful. If you were to interview everyone I’ve ever worked with, I’m confident they will tell you that I never accept the “it’s good enough” solution. There is no point in doing anything if you don’t do it right (Right = on time, on budget and exceeds expectations).

When people that don’t know me well see me in the workplace, they often call me a workaholic because I never let up until the job’s done. I laugh when I hear this because I don’t see myself as a workaholic. Sure I spend countless hours day and night on conference calls managing people from all corners of the earth, but I also play hard. I am a Master Scuba Diver, I am a licensed airplane pilot/mechanic, I am an avid Motorcycle enthusiast, I am a skydiver, etc. In fact, I am an recognized expert in non-work areas almost as much as I have been in work.

I’m in the November/December 2008 issue of Sport Diver Magazine, I have been restoring an airplane that is considered the best Mooney in the world (n252q.com), I am the second skydiver in this video flying with Russel Calkins, the national sky surfing champion.

It usually isn’t long before I get this question… “How do I have the time to carry the dotcom workload managing multi-million dollar projects throughout the world and still have enough time to ride a motorcycle across the country, explore 100 year old shipwrecks, restore an airplane, post to this blog, etc?” The answer is simple. I clearly visualize in my minds eye what has to be done, I intensely focus on getting it done, I do not let anything distract me form the goal, and I surround myself with talented people that share the same get it done mindset.

This week I thought I’d share some concepts I use that have helped me sustain a health and productive “Work-Life” balance.

Get Creative and Become Focused
Clarity is the beginning of creativity. If you can’t see very far then you can’t go very far. When we have clarity concerning our vision it helps us see farther and seeing farther provides the ability to focus on what is really important. Having clarity hinges on two issues: Purpose and Value. If we do not understand the purpose or the value of an action, then we do not have clarity. Most people believe they have clarity until they are actually confronted with a lot of the pesky details. Unfortunately, the whole point about clarity and focus is having ownership of all the pesky details that most people don’t want to deal with. I define clarity as “knowing were we are right now and specifically where we need to go.” The gap between these two realities is where focus must be produced.

Outsource the Action
Many people struggle with using an outside resource or others to help get things done. I often hear managers and young entrepreneurs saying, “I should be able to do this myself.” However, when it comes to expanding bandwidth, an outside resource can be a significant help in jump-starting the effort and moving forward. It is not necessary to view an outside resource as a permanent addition to your budget. Outside resources can be viewed as transitional strategic tools that help us bridge the gap between theory and execution. Just find someone who already has the answers and allow them to teach you how to do it. An outside resource can bring a new way of thinking about old issues, and when new ideas blend with our proven practices, creative solutions always follow.

Become a Better Communicator
How can becoming a better communicator contribute to finding creative solutions? It’s because two or more people working together are more creative are more creative than one person working alone. Communicating is the way we share our ideas, our dreams and our solutions. Poor communicators don’t get the results that great communicators get.

People usually see communication as a skill issue. However those who achieve Communication Mastery understand that communication is a powerful strategic asset that has a serious impact on their effectiveness and the results they get in every facet of life. At the heart of Communication Mastery is a different mindset that is created by embracing a few simple principles that lead us into new ways of thinking, reasoning and communicating to consistently produce creative solutions.

There are three strategic principles that impact out communication mindset and set the stage for helping us achieve more in shorter periods of time.

These three principles are:
Communicate to impact others at the level of belief. Getting things done always involves getting others to take some action. Our persuasive skills determine how well we get others to take action, and people take action faster when they believe in what they are doing. Our beliefs, thoughts and feelings determine our choices and the action we take. The reality of this powerful combination is that we must communicate to impact others at the level of belief. If what we are communicating is not believed, the results we get will be less than we hope for.

Communicate as far as you can see, then you will see farther. When you want results you have to communicate in the “now.” The most effective plans are based on the circumstances that exist today and may exist for some predictable time in the future. Since communication is really about persuasion, it is fairly obvious why communicating and planning farther than you can see is not very effective. If people can’t “see” what you are saying, it will be hard for them to believe. This concept, when embraced, will ground everything you do in a greater reality and produce more creative solutions, because the people whose help you need will be more engaged in the effort.

Communicate to create and leverage images of influence. Perception drives felt need in others and felt need controls the action people take, Communication Mastery requires a mindset that embraces the fact. The mindset I suggest involves the creation of what I call “Images of Influence.” Images of Influence are supported by the old saying that seeing is believing. Words can go only so far in achieving persuasion. What people see and perceive directly and indirectly about us will have a powerful impact on the way they help and support us. Our communication universe includes such things as presentations, our e-mail style, the meetings we conduct and attend, graphical images, our personal “brand” and how well we showcase our unique strengths.

If you believe you have a bandwidth problem when it comes to execution, I suggest you consider the possibility that the greater challenge might be a lack of clarity and focus. Are you clear about your vision? Can you effectively and clearly describe where you want to be in the future and where you are today? If not, focus will be elusive and execution unlikely. A lack of bandwidth will be the perceived cause and produce the To-Do Conundrum: How can you do more than you are able to do?

Chicago CIO and Entrepreneur. Started @Orbitz, @AssureFlight, Team ITG, YourPrivateLine and others. I Love technology, startups and meeting interesting people.