5/24/2008

Build the Ark

My last post detailed my interpretation of Thomas Edison's great quote, "every thing comes to him who hustles while he waits."

I just wanted to share an example of how I used this mentality to land a new job. One where I received a 25% pay increase. One where I will have the ability to work from home. One where I will receive wonderful perks like a company car. So how did I land such a great opportunity you ask?

For one thing I did not seek the role, my phone rang one day and it was someone I knew who recommended that I apply for the position. When I heard of all the great benefits, I had no choice but to update my resume and send it out.

As soon as I officially applied for the job, I spent the next week or so desperately waiting by the phone for the call. After becoming fed up with the anxiety I was experiencing by just passively waiting, a thought came in my head. I thought to myself, "when Noah was told the world would be flooded by rain, he did not sit around and look for signs of rain, he immediately started to build the ark.
I knew that I had to build my ark while waiting for the manifestations of the rain. So I asked myself, "what could I do to prepare for this new role?" The answer was obvious as I looked around my home office. Aside from the PC and desk, it appeared more like a storage room than an office. I immediately went to work on throwing out stuff I didn't need, moving out items that had no business in that room, and buying some accessories to make it look more appropriate for work. All this was in preparation for my new job.

The next day I got the call.....

After my first meeting with my soon to be boss, she hinted that I visit some of the various locations of the company I would work for to see if I notice some areas of opportunity with regards to operations. I took that advice to the extreme and proceeded to visit as many different locations as I could. I spoke to employees and managers to obtain even more valuable information. By the time we met again, I regaled her with all of the accounts of my store visits. Needless to say, she was impressed by the amount stores I visited and depth of the feedback I was able to provide her.

Next came the final interview. I was flown to corporate headquarters to meet a plethora of directors and VPs. After Googling each of their names for any info I was able to obtain from the web, I felt confident enough to speak with each of the five individuals about the direction of the organization. I arrived with a fierce determination to leave the absolute best impression on each individual as I possibly could. I wanted them to feel the enthusiasm I had for this role. I wanted them to believe, as much as I did, that I was the one to take on this fantastic opportunity.

Some of the other actions I took to prepare for the interview was:
*I watched a copy of the Secret for the millionth time.
*I edited a copy of the interview agenda they sent me to include my name, the job title and the name of the company in one line at the very top of the page.
*I practiced my "I'm gonna miss you guys" speech that I would give to my current co-workers.
* I visualized myself in the new role.
*I did everything else in my power to take on the emotions of someone who already had received the job.

After the final interviews were completed, I could honestly say to myself that day could not have gone any better. The hiring team told me that all the candidates would hear something in four business days. They called back at 9:30 am on the second business day and offered me the position. Needless to say, I was extremely pleased to accept the offer.

Would I have gotten the offer if I hadn't gone above and beyond to make sure that I landed the job? I can't honestly say that I would have. Someone else could have easily out shined me if I didn't proceed with an unwavering determination to get that job. I spent every possible moment thinking of various ways to stand out from the crowd. My mind was very attentive to ideas and insights that I could use to my benefit. As I opened my mind in expectation for great ideas, great ideas came to me.

Think about something that you really want to realize. Could it be possible to incorporate such intense positive action that you will most certainly achieve it?
How can you begin to build your ark while in expectation of the rain?

5/11/2008

"Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits"



Thomas Edison's wise words bring life to anyone who has experienced frustrations due to missed opportunities. The person who finds themselves to be "unlucky", the individual who never seems to get a break, the one who seems to stay in the same rut time and time again. These are all examples of people who fail to hustle while they wait. Edison's timeless quote contains within it two crucial words that we should pay close attention to...wait and hustle.

I looked up the meaning of the word "wait" in my Oxford dictionary and found two definitions. The first definition is to "defer action for a specified time or until a specific action occurs." The second meaning of the word wait is "to be expectant or on the watch." To me, these two definitions of the same term have two completely opposite meanings. Deferring an action and being in a state of expectancy are different actions which create very unique outcomes.

The person who chooses to defer specific action will not behave in the same manner as the one who is expectant. When one expects something to occur, that person will be busy waiting. If you expect company to come at 3:00 pm, you will likely be preparing for the visit all the way until the doorbell rings. When it does, you will be ready for their arrival. On the other hand, if you are not expecting someone over, and you receive a visit at 3:00 pm, you will probably spend several frantic seconds attempting to spruce up your house before you have to open the door. Even though you have put forth a valiant effort to appear prepared for the visit, your lack of preparation will be evident. Such is the person who spends her idle time not preparing for the probable.

So you didn't get the promotion, were you spending adequate time in active expectation of the opportunity? In other words, were you hustling while you waited? Were you the most prepared candidate for the role?

One of the definitions of the word hustle is to "obtain by forceful action." Not just any action but forceful action. Forceful meaning powerful or vigorous. Imagine the kind of results that occur through the use of consistent, forceful, powerful action while you expectantly wait for your next opportunity. Edison's quote says that everything comes to him who hustles while he waits. Does it mean that the person who is constantly creating powerful action in preparation will come across more opportunity than someone else?

Although it may not seem that way, the truth is that most everyone will come across various opportunities on a daily basis. The question is not whether an opportunity will present itself to you. The question is whether or not the situation is an opportunity to you. An opportunity is only defined as such if there is a favorable chance of you being able to take advantage of the circumstance. Nine times out of ten, your chances will be less than favorable unless you are adequately prepared beforehand. A home valued at $250,000 which is on the market for $150,000 will be an opportunity for a great investment only for those who are financially prepared to make an offer for the home.

I remember hearing a story from motivational speaker Les Brown about his first big break on the radio. He worked odd jobs at a radio station when he was young but his dream was to become a radio host. Les began to prepare for the opportunity by developing a radio persona that he would share with the world whenever the opportunity presented itself. Then one day Les was presented the opportunity when the person behind the microphone began to indulge himself with alcoholic beverages so he could no longer effectively do his job.

The station manager quickly called Les, who was the only other person at the station at the time, and asked that he go behind the booth and play music until the next DJ arrived. When Les hung up the phone with the station manager, he knew that this was the perfect moment for him. He rushed into the DJ booth and instinctively unleashed the radio persona that he practiced so many times before. Les was a hit! Had he not practiced day in and day out, he may have not developed the confidence to just walk in and do what he had to do. Worse yet, he may not have been prepared to speak to live audience over the air. Les could have stumbled through the show so badly that he may have even jeopardized his job. But because Les hustled while he waited, he was fully prepared to take advantage of the opportunity that became his big break.

Take a moment to think about all of the fantastic opportunities that you are hoping to run across. What if you were presented the opportunity to do some of those things today, would you be ready? Would you be ready to start your new business or to land that new job? Start to hustle today while you wait for your chance. Take powerful consistent action everyday to prepare you and expect the best outcome. Who knows, tomorrow may be your lucky day.



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5/05/2008

Get more done in less time using Parkinson's Law

Although we may not be all that familiar with Parkinson's law, we have experienced the law's principles every day of our lives. Parkinson's law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. We all remember those days in school when we would be up late night on the day before a large project was due. Even though we managed to procrastinate on most of the work, we somehow were able to complete all of the work in just the nick of time. Not only that, our last minute attempt at completing a project, more often then not, turned out pretty good considering the amount of time you took to do it.

Deadlines work to provide an end point to our procrastination. A deadline tells us that at some point in time, we will have to provide our finished work for evaluation. Once we are given a deadline, our mind goes through a series of thoughts. The first of those thoughts is likely to be, "I have three weeks to get this done, I can start on the project in a week and still have two weeks to finish all the details." A week and a half later we may be thinking, "o.k. so I am a few days behind on this project, I'll just put in extra hours for the next week and a half and finish it up." As time passes, things keep coming up that seem more urgent. Those distractions steal time away from what we really should be doing. Next thing you know, you are up late putting together your project just before the deadline.

Some of us might be thinking, "I do my best work under pressure, that's why I wait 'till the last minute...it works well for me." That may be true but the reason why you are able to complete the entire project in two days instead of the three weeks allotted, is because you were able to completely dedicate your focus to the project. The impending deadline was your primary motivator to get it done! After the deadline passed, you would be held accountable.

I have been thinking alot about the Parkinson's law lately, namely how I could leverage the intense focus one receives in the final hour. I asked myself "how can I complete my work ahead of the allotted time and still generate the same urgency of waiting until the last minute?"

The answer to my question came in the form of a simple kitchen timer. The timer, which cost me around .99 cents, can be set from 1 minute to 1 hour. It's one of the old fashioned wind up timer that ticks every second like a bomb ready to go off. Just the ticking alone lets me know that I only have a certain amount of time to do what I need to do. Best of all, the buzzer that goes off when time has run out is the most annoying sound ever. My goal is to finish my work before the timer goes off just so I don't have to hear it. When I use this timer my level of focus increases dramatically. I only have a set amount of time to do what I need to do, so there is no urge to surf the net. My mind also clears because it knows that I'm under a deadline. I do not have to contend with random thoughts of "I wonder if I should rearrange my underwear drawer right now?"

My advice to you is to go out and buy one of these timers and use it to get much more done in much less time. Once you begin to use it, try to beat the clock before the buzzer (kinda like a game show contestant solving a puzzle to win the big prize). Once you are done, congradulate yourself. Don't give your self too much time to complete a task because it will only cause you to slow yourself down to fill the allotted time. You also don't want to give yourself too little time so you don't become frustrated. Your goal should be to make the use of the timer as effective as possible so you are encouraged to use it every day.




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