Why You Should Stick With One Change Before Trying Something Else

Photo by marsmet546

Photo by marsmet546

Change Is Good, Right?

We live in a world full of change. It would seem in our modern era, constant change is our new norm.

In fact, I know some people who love changing things up in their lives, their homes, their ministries, and their work, simply because they love change so much. They can’t sit still in one place for very long. They change for the sake of change.

While I believe change can be a positive force within our personal lives and organizations, we need to be cautious on creating a constant churn of change. Too much of a “good” thing could end up having a negative impact over time.

Do changes need to be made on an occasional basis? Yes, especially in this super-fast paced, crazy, modern world we now live in. But, I do think we need to exhaust all the possibilities of one change before moving on to something else. Massive changes always take longer to take root and establish themselves then we think they do.

So, if you really want to grow and develop something, then don’t go with the following approach: make a change, give it two weeks, don’t see much progress, scrap that change, and then move onto something else. This is not the best plan to grow yourself, a ministry, a business, a church, or any organization.

Cranking Down On The Flywheel

In his book Good To Great, author Jim Collins talks about the flywheel effect and its impact on taking an organization from good to great.

A flywheel is simply a huge, metal, heavy disk mounted on an axle. Because of its size and weight, if you can get the flywheel moving fast enough, it will produce a tremendous amount of energy to keep an engine moving faster and more efficiently.

To get that flywheel moving at first, though, takes a tremendous amount of energy. You have to push and push to get it to finally make one revolution. Then, you push a little more, and it makes a second revolution, and then a third one. Each revolution gets a little easier because of the weight energy stored within the flywheel itself.

All of the sudden, after several difficult rotations of the flywheel, momentum takes over. You can’t pinpoint the exact moment when it does, but there will be less effort required to keep the flywheel moving.

This same principle can be true in our personal lives, businesses, churches, or organizations. When we’re in the beginning stages of making massive changes, it’s going to take a tremendous amount of time and energy. We’re going to have to push our flywheel really hard. We may want to roll over and give up. But, if we know these are the correct changes to make, that this is the correct path to go, then we need to keep pushing with everything we have. If we have enough strength and patience to keep going, then over time, the flywheel effect will take place, we build momentum, and the massive changes we desire will take place.

The key to accomplishing the flywheel effect, though, is don’t stop. Many people and organizations do not have the patience to be persistent with their current change path. They push for a little while, don’t think they’re making any progress, and then give up and try some other change path. This doesn’t work. Simplicity, consistency, and persistence are the only ways to effect any kind of long-term changes in your life or organization.

Questions:  Are you in crisis mode to get something going and growing? Do you have the tendency to change things too often in order to stimulate growth? After reading this post, are you going to approach change differently?

Leveraging The Power Of Systems For A Successful Life Or Organization

Photo by Aristocrat

Photo by Aristocrat

What Are Systems?

What does Prestonwood Church, the human body, the United States Government, Apple, Inc., and even the Starship Enterprise all have in common? They are all composed of numerous systems.

When I speak of systems in this post, I am primarily defining these as coordinated methods, plans, schemes, or procedures.

For a comprehensive definition of systems check out Dictionary.com.

Systems often share common characteristics, including [Source: Wikipedia]:

  • A system has structure, it contains parts (or components) that are directly or indirectly related to each other;
  • A system has behavior, it contains processes that transform inputs into outputs (material, energy or data);
  • A system has interconnectivity: the parts and processes are connected by structural and/or behavioral relationships.
  • A system’s structure and behavior may be decomposed via subsystems and sub-processes to elementary parts – and process steps.

Systems Are All Around Us

Systems are everywhere. Some are the natural creation of God. Some are the invention of man. In the end, though, we couldn’t survive without them. Here are some real-life examples.

Human Body: God has created our physical bodies with their own unique systems – nervous, respiratory, digestive, muscular, skeletal, urinary, endocrine, and reproductive.

Transportation: our streets and highways have clearly defined rules and systems in place that include signage, stop lights, right of way, vehicle speeds, highway entrances and exits, and so on.

Government: city, county, state, and federal each have their own unique, established systems. For example, our federal government is composed of three branches – executive, legislative, and judicial. And, within each branch of government, there are organizational sub-systems in place in order to maintain as smoothly a flowing government as possible.

Business: businesses are composed of numerous systems including customer service, lead generation, purchasing, hiring, shipping, accounting, payroll, collections, and custodial.

Why Systems?

Well running systems are important to the health, vitality, safety, and growth for both individuals and organizations.

Consider your own physical body systems that I referenced above. Each system works independently and interdependently. If just one of these systems is functioning improperly, it impacts the other systems in some way. For example, the urinary system removes waste from the body. If this one, seemingly small system is not functioning properly, waste builds up in the human body and begins to shut down the other major body systems. Not good.

Also, consider the most successful organizations. Why are they so successful? Why do they run so smoothly and run large profits? Because they have incredible CEO’s? Yes, leadership is important. But, the greatest organizations have established great systems that propel the organization forward, even in the absence of the best leaders.

Show me any thriving, energetic, growing, productive person, family, business, or organization, and we should be able to uncover multiple, excellent systems in place. Great systems running in the background of our personal and professional lives simply and efficiently allow this to take place.

Got Systems?

How about you? Do you have systems set-up in your personal life? Do you have established systems in your work environment? If you lead an organization, have you ever given much thought to your current systems? Who put them in place? Were these intentional or purely accidental systems that evolved over time?

After reading this post, take this opportunity to evaluate your personal, business, and organizational systems. Perform a whole systems audit. What’s working great right now? What systems could use an overhaul?

It probably seems like a lot of work on the front end, but the end results will be worth that hard work. Take the time now to fix or create systems to propel your life and work from okay to awesome.

5 Awesome Books That Have Radically Changed My Life And Made Me More Productive

Photo by Sam Fam

Photo by Sam Fam

A Great Book Can Change Your Life

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been inspired by numerous authors, books, and the entire writing process. Guess that’s one of the reasons I became a blogger. I like analyzing stuff and then getting my thoughts out of my head and onto the computer screen.

The best books by the best authors are able to inspire a different level of thinking and living. They are able to get you to re-examine previously held beliefs and then take massive change in a new direction.

The following list of five books are ones that contain five big concepts that I think about on a daily basis. They have re-shaped my life and literally molded me into a better person (in my opinion). If you’ve never read these books, then I would highly encourage you to check them out!

5 Books That Have Impacted Me

1. Financial Peace [affiliate link] by Dave Ramsey. This is one of the first books that really altered my life in a number of ways. I remember walking into a bookstore around 2004-2005 and running across this bluish-green book by some guy named Dave Ramsey. He completely changed my views on money and the manner in which it should be wisely handled. As a result of reading Financial Peace, I will never again view debt the same way as I did in the past. I will never again be able to return to the old patterns of mismanaged personal finances. Thanks, Dave, for your wisdom and experience in this vitally important area of our lives. My life will never be the same as a result.

2.The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People [affiliate link] by Stephen Covey. The big takeaway from this book that has stuck with me over the years is the concept of 4-quadrant living. The four quadrants include:

  • Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important Activities. These could include emergencies, putting out fires, and tight work deadlines.
  • Quadrant 2: Not Urgent but Important Activities. These could include exercise, planning, writing, meditation, recreation, and relationship building.
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent But Not Important Activities. These could include some calls, some emails, some meetings, and popular activities.
  • Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important Activities. These could include trivia, busy work, some calls, and some email.

So, the takeaway from Covey and 4-quadrant living that I contemplate on a daily basis is this: hang out in Quadrant 2 as much as you possibly can, especially during the peak performance hours of your day. I attempt to structure my day around these quadrants in order to maximize my overall performance.

3. The 80/20 Principle [affiliate link] by Richard Koch. The book was a reinterpretation of the Pareto principle, extending its use beyond economics and business, to cover issues such as “time revolution” and personal happiness (source: Wikipedia). The world is ruled by Pareto’s Law which states 80% of results are the result of 20% of inputs. Stated another way, 20% of my specific work activities have the capacity of producing 80% of my best work results. The key is knowing which 20% activities produce your best 80%! As a result of reading this book, I ponder every day whether or not I’m engaged in my top 20% activities. As a side note, this also corresponds to Quadrant 2 living in Covey’s book.

4. Good To Great [affiliate link] by Jim Collins – The key idea that I got from this must-read business book is “get the right people in the right seats on the right bus!” Now, with every group that I organize and lead, I attempt to get the right people in the right positions for the right task. If you want to take any organization from okay to awesome, then you must follow this principle.

5. The 4-Hour Body [affiliate link] by Tim Ferriss. I’m a big Tim Ferriss fan. I read his first book, The 4-Hour Workweek in 2007 (I debated whether or not to add this book to this list) and then I started following his blog. I purchased his next book, The 4-Hour Body, right around its release date, and found many of his experiments and teachings to be highly actionable. As a result of following a (mostly) slow carb-ish diet and exercise regimen, I was able to go from 170 lbs to 158 lbs. This took me down two pant sizes (from a 34 down to a 32). My belly flattened out and I have more lean muscle mass and less body fat. I added this book to the list because at age 42, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life as a result of reading it. Plus, there’s a lot of other incredibly awesome experiments and actionable ideas that you should check out as well.

Questions: So, have you read any of these books? Did you glean the same key concepts that I did or something entirely different? Do you a list of books that have impacted your life in amazing ways? If so, feel free to leave your list in a comment below. I’d love to see what books have changed your life!

How To Increase Your Peak Performance

Photo by itupictures

Photo by itupictures

The best way to increase your personal peak performance is to focus time and energy on your unique abilities during your golden hours.

What Are Your Unique Abilities?

What makes you, well you? Why does your workplace pay you the big bucks? What specific activities make you (or could make you) a superstar at work? Have you even really given it much thought?

For example, if:

  • you’re a professional pitcher for a major league baseball team, then you get paid for throwing strikes and keeping batters from making hits and scoring runs in order for your team to win games.
  • you’re a car salesman, then you get paid for selling and leasing a lot of cars in order for the car lot to turn a profit.
  • you’re a CEO of a major company, then you get paid for leading the employees to make your company a lot of money.
  • you’re a nurse at a hospital, then you are paid to help patients get well quickly and enjoy their stay as much as possible.
  • you’re a teacher at an elementary school, then you are paid to help students learn the concepts they need to know over the course of 10 months in order to move from one grade level to the next.

Whatever unique gifting you possess that makes you indispensable at work, then you need to focus on developing those specific gifts to higher levels of peak performance.

So, in our examples above:

  • the pitcher needs to practice high performance pitching (and related activities) regularly and consistently.
  • the car salesman needs to study and practice the best and most current sales techniques.
  • the CEO needs to be reading, studying, writing, and reflecting on his leadership skills in order to grow in his abilities and lead his company to the next level.
  • the nurse needs to develop her bedside manner and stay current in the medical field.
  • the teacher needs to develop his teaching, motivation, and disciplinary techniques in order to move his students to the next level.

Whatever unique abilities you possess in your career, you need to focus on growing these abilities during your “golden hours.” This is how peak performers beat out all the competition and become the best in their field.

What Are Your Golden Hours?

The concept of “golden hours” are your peak productivity hours each day. For the vast majority of people, these best hours will most likely be in the early morning. But, there are many people who just can’t handle the early morning routine. They’re more night owl than early bird. I know several people who will never be morning people and who actually do their best work at midnight!

In my own five daily rituals, I attempt to accomplish my top three between the hours of 4:30-7:00am. These top three rituals (journaling, Bible study, and writing) require the most quiet time and concentration. Since I have a young family, it doesn’t happen every day for me, but I try to get this time in as best I can. In the remaining hours of my morning at work, I focus on the priority activities for which my church pays me to accomplish. These early and even mid-morning hours are when I am my most productive and creative.

Again, you know you. You know if you function best first thing in the morning or late at night. And, if you’re not sure, simply experiment. Try out one week in the early morning hours, and then the next week, do the midnight thing. Figure out which week you were more productive and go with those golden hours. Leverage that time to accomplish your priority activities with excellence.

Questions: Do you know when your “golden hours” are during each day? Have you ever experimented to determine when you are most productive? Do you know what specific skills you possess that makes you invaluable to your employer? Do you have some type of scheduling plan in which you’re doing your most important work at the very best time?

8 Characteristics Of An All-Star LinkedIn Profile

linkedin_logo_11I Love LinkedIn

I was recently accused by a buddy of mine of having too slick of a LinkedIn profile. With a sly wink, I said “No way. I’m sure mine’s a pretty basic profile.” I was exaggerating though. Over the last few months, I have purposely put a lot of work into creating an above average profile.

I love LinkedIn for a lot of different reasons. It’s a great social web platform that allows professionals to make professional connections instead of just friends or followers. These same professionals also publish some great articles as well as post links to articles out on the web.

It’s also a great place to have a quasi-home base platform to showcase you as a professional. I view a quality LinkedIn profile as an online resume on steroids!

8 Characteristics Of The Best LinkedIn Profiles

Over the last several months as I have been designing my own LinkedIn profile, I have read one book, scanned several web articles, and viewed the profiles of other professionals. I believe the following 8 characteristics represent the best practices of stand out profiles.

  1. A recent, decent photo of yourself. Now, you would think that this small, basic item wouldn’t need to be included, but there are a lot of boring profiles with no photos. C’mon people. Uploading a simple digital picture of yourself is not that difficult. People that want to make a connection with you would really like to see what you look like. Just do it already!
  2. An interesting summary. What makes you, well you? What unique qualities do you bring to the professional world? Don’t just list a bunch of certifications you have. Really tell us what makes you an all-star employee, writer, business person, etc.
  3. Quality recommendations. If you’re a half-way decent, friendly person and have enough pull with people, you can politely ask several of your best LinkedIn connections for a recommendation. Ask them to focus their recommendation on your personal character and specific, best work practices.
  4. Projects. See if you can add 3-4 larger-scale projects in which you have been heavily involved. Also, try to link up fellow team members who are also on LinkedIn to these various projects with you.
  5. Link up projects and recommendations. Link the proper projects and recommendations to the appropriate positions of experience you have held or currently hold.
  6. YouTube videos. If you have any decent video clips of you doing what you do, then you need to get these uploaded to YouTube and linked up to the appropriate work experience. I recommend using Apple’s iMovie to edit your videos as needed. So, for example, if public speaking is part of a particular position or passion, then you need to put a video of you speaking in public. If you’re a musician, then you need to get a video of you playing your instrument, and so on.
  7. Publications. In the information age, you should be known for publishing something, anything, whether it’s your personal blog, business writing, ebooks, or traditional print publishing. Get these listed and add samples and links to your work wherever possible.
  8. Get some endorsements. A unique quality about LinkedIn is that people can give you quick, little endorsements on your various skills and abilities. I put this last on the list, because personally for me, it’s just way too easy for people to endorse you for any and all areas of skills and expertise. I have a bunch of endorsements from people who barely know me, so I question the overall credibility of them. But, there are others out there who believe they are useful to get a snapshot of your best skills and areas of expertise.

My Profile

My personal “front door” profile can be viewed at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/joneswlarry

You can view all 8 of these characteristics on my own profile if you are connected with me on LinkedIn. If you are not a connection, then I extend an invitation to connect with me.

Questions: So, what do you think of my list? Am I missing any additional important characteristics of a quality LinkedIn Profile?

How’s your profile looking? What do you need to add or fix to your own profile?

51 Must-Scan Blog Posts To Move Your Life To The Next Level

Photo by chrisinplymouth

Photo by chrisinplymouth

Blog Post List-mania

I don’t know about you, but I love me a good blog post list. I especially enjoy the ones you can quickly scan through for a few actionable ideas that can improve your life.

Well, this particular blog post itself is a scan-able listing of various blog posts of interest that contain hundreds of ideas that can potentially take your life to the next level.

These various 51 posts come from the following websites and blogs:

So, without further delay, here’s my list. Drum roll, please …

51 Must-Scan Blog Posts From The Blogosphere

  1. 12 Things Successful People Do Differently
  2. 30 Challenges For Thirty Days Of Growth 
  3. 10 Ways To Make Life Good Again 
  4. The Top 100 Secrets Of High Achievers
  5. How To Be A Better Person: 101 Ways 
  6. 101 Important Questions To Ask Yourself 
  7. 101 Ways To Live Your Life To The Fullest 
  8. What’s On Your Bucket List? 101 Things To Do Before You Die
  9. Create Your Life Handbook 
  10. You Are The CEO Of Your Life 
  11. 101 Important Life Principles To Live By Every Day 
  12. Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals For Changing The World 
  13. Bruce Lee’s Top 7 Fundamentals For Getting Your Life In Shape 
  14. 10 Quick Actions You Can Take Today That Can Instantly Improve Your Life
  15. 7 Habits of Extraordinary People 
  16. How To Effortlessly Attract Your Dream Life By Designing Your Perfect Average Day
  17. Seven Lessons To Reboot Your Life 
  18. Incredibly Simple Steps To Living A Truly Great Life
  19. 7 Habits of Highly Excellent People
  20. 22 Secrets To Discovering Your Dream and Living It 
  21. One Question That Will Change Your Life Forever 
  22. How To Live The Maximalist Life
  23. 21 Simple Ways To Live An Exceptional Life 
  24. 12 Ways To Jumpstart Your Life 
  25. 7 Life Changing Lessons Learned From Walt Disney 
  26. 7 Amazing Lessons From Peak Performance Coach Tony Robbins 
  27. 20 Powerful Beliefs That Will Push You Toward Success 
  28. How To Discover Your Life’s Purpose – 7 Questions To Ask 
  29. How To Be Your Own Life Coach and Save Some Cash 
  30. 5 Ways To Stop Procrastinating And Get Things Done 
  31. 5 Reasons Why You Should Take A Nap Every Day
  32. 7 Steps To Getting Unstuck And Becoming More Productive 
  33. How To Better Control Your Time By Designing Your Ideal Week
  34. Creating Your Personal Life Plan 
  35. Top 10 Tips For Productivity And Peace Of Mind 
  36. 10 Hacks That Can Change Your Day Immediately 
  37. 5 Simple, Yet Little-Known Ways To Improve Your Productivity 
  38. The Ultimate Lifehack Guide For Your New Year 
  39. Ask The Entrepreneurs: 11 Bloggers To Follow For Lifestyle And Productivity Tips
  40. 9 Ideas To Get Your Work Organized For The Year Ahead 
  41. Top 20 TED Talks That Will Improve Your Productivity 
  42. Ask The Entrepreneurs: What Do You Cross Off Your To-Do List First? 
  43. How To Consistently Come Up With Great Ideas 
  44. 5 Tried, Tested, And True Ways To Level Up Your Life 
  45. 9 Unconventional Habits Of Extraordinary Success 
  46. 62 Tips To Get Unstuck In 2013 
  47. The 50 Business + Life Lessons 2012 Taught Me
  48. 21 Tips To Become The Most Productive Person You Know 
  49. 17 Tips To Double Your Productivity In 14 Days
  50. 15 Ways To Do Your Best Work 
  51. 35 Fast Tips To Make This Your Best Year Yet 

Question: So what did you think of this list of 51 various blog posts from the web? Do you have any specific blog posts or websites that you would like me to consider for an update to this particular list? Feel free to comment to this post and let me know!

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