To Finish First, First You Have To Finish

Good morning,

Happy Friday! Last Saturday after completing my first race (not first but not last) someone offered me these words of encouragement:

To finish first, first you have to finish.

We’re all striving to achieve goals in our professional or personal lives, and it’s a good reminder that there’s no shortcut to success.

To achieve anything we have to be willing to do the work, turn the laps, improve our technique, dust ourselves off and keep going no matter how appealing it is to quit. You might not love the first finish, or even the tenth, but keep trying and no matter how lofty your goal, you can achieve it!

Whatever your goal, keep striving – and have a sunny day!

Clarity

P.S. “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” Pat Riley

Posted in Sunny notes | Tagged Business, Excellence, Finish, Goals, Michigan, quote, Racing, sunny, Work | Leave a comment

It’s Okay To Apologize

Good afternoon,

It’s Friday and it’s sunny! Two great reasons to smile. Plus, hopefully we’ll get to enjoy some sunshine this weekend…and a dry Saturday night for racing. Meanwhile, I’m reflecting on a fact that’s quite simple but sometimes surprisingly controversial.

It’s okay to apologize.

Strike that. It’s essential to apologize. However, you’ve probably noticed that as a society we’re out of the habit. Maybe it’s fear of lawsuits. Maybe it’s picked up from politicians who don’t want to claim the blame. Sure – none of us wants to admit we screwed up, but saying “I’m sorry” isn’t as scary as it seems.

In business when things go awry, business representatives too often skip the important steps of being empathetic and apologizing to the customer. Instead, they jump straight from listening, if they really listen at all, to trying to problem solve.

I’ll leave you with a handy little acronym I learned from customer service expert Robin Whitfield, who used it to articulate four important steps that should be followed – in this order – when addressing customer concerns, or anyone’s concerns for that matter: LEAP. Listen, Empathize, Apologize and Problem Solve.

Let’s LEAP to the challenge – and have a sunny day!

Clarity

P.S. “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” Kimberly Johnson, American poet and Renaissance scholar.

Posted in Sunny notes | Tagged apologize, Biz, Business, Inspiration, Motivation, quote, Sorry, sunny, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Sweat The Small Stuff

Happy Friday!

I’m sitting here wearing my new racing helmet as I write this note, which reminds me that it’s often the small stuff that trips us up in life. In today’s example I’m comfortable in the race car, but tonight I’m going to make sure I can function in the helmet.

When preparing for anything we often focus on the big stuff, the obvious “must haves.” But usually there’s something small that also has the power to break down the plan.

Sweat the small stuff…is actually a good motto!

Whether it’s that one little adapter that connects the equipment or that one little order that had to be placed three weeks in advance, little stuff is often the key to success.

Wishing you the best of success and a Sunny weekend!

Clarity

P.S. Fortunately race cars don’t have keys! It would be fun to see you at my first race at Flat Rock Speedway on April 25th. www.facebook.com/ClarityNewhouseRacing

Posted in Sunny notes | Tagged cars, Dedication, Inspiration, Motivation, NASCAR, Note, quote, Racing, speedway, sunny | Leave a comment

Eat The Frog For Breakfast

Happy Friday!

Have you noticed that getting started is usually the hardest part of any task? Especially the distasteful ones! It certainly is for me, and apparently I’m not alone. We all inevitably face unappealing tasks, sometimes as distasteful as eating a frog – raw! So what’s the solution?

Eat the frog for breakfast.

These are wise words I heard years ago and try to live by. They come from Pamela Jett, an expert on how to manage pressure and stay positively focused. The concept is simple. Since you have to eat the frog eventually, get it out of the way first. Without the distasteful task (whatever it is) hanging over your head, suddenly the day is sunnier and more productive.

But what about the big roadblock: getting started? I use another simple, helpful technique: set a time limit. Tell yourself you’re only going to work on it for ten minutes. Then you’ll move on to something else and get back to it later. Ten minutes seems palatable so the concept gets you started; then the magic happens when the ten minutes have passed and you suddenly discover you’re on a roll with the hardest part behind you.

Best of luck eating frogs for breakfast – and have a sunny (even thought it’s raining) weekend!

Clarity

P.S. Here’s another good wise from Mark Twain – “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

Posted in Sunny notes | Tagged Biz, Business, Inspiration, Motivation, Note, quote, sunny, Twain | Leave a comment

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Happy Good Friday!

Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

This great quote was shared with me by Dee Acho to provide encouragement as I prepare for my first stock car race. However, the advise can apply to so many aspects of life that it seems like the perfect sentiment to share with you today.

Explore. Dream. Discover…and have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Clarity

Posted in Sunny notes | Tagged Discover, Dream, Easter, Explore, Friday, Good Friday, Inspiration, Motivation, Note, quote, sunny, Twain | Leave a comment

Mental Preparation

Happy Friday!

It’s now just a few weeks away when I’ll be entering my first race ever. Flat Rock Speedway is still closed for the winter and my race car isn’t quite finished, so without the ability to physically practice, I’ve had lots of opportunity to consider the value of…

Mental preparation.

Fortunately research studies report that mental practice really does help. Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, compared people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads.

According to this article in Psychology Today, he found a 30% muscle increase in the group who went to the gym. While the group of participants who conducted mental exercises of weight training increased muscle strength by almost half as much (13.5%). This average remained for 3 months following the mental training.

Whether we’re improving our personal lives or improving our professional performance, practicing through visualization makes a difference. In my case as a rookie race car driver, it may have to make all the difference!

Enjoy some mental gymnastics and have a sunny weekend!

Clarity

P.S. “The secret of achievement is to hold a picture of a successful outcome in mind.” Henry David Thoreau

Posted in Sunny notes | Tagged Biz, Business, Dedication, Inspiration, Mental, Motivation, Notes, Preperation, Psychology, quote, sunny | Leave a comment

Good Work Deserves a Good Presentation

Good morning,

Happy Friday! At one time or another we’ve probably all heard “don’t judge a book by its cover.” That’s good advice as an analogy for people, but when it actually comes to books – and magazines, newsletters, presentations, brochures, reports and lots of other things – the cover matters.

Good work deserves a good presentation.

A resume is an obvious example. I see lots of resumes that list great skills but are so sloppy they raise questions about the candidate’s good judgement in deciding the document was ready to distribute.

Whether we like it or not, poor presentation – or even just an unappealing cover – can turn off our audience. Long hours of good work can get misjudged or dismissed because of a disorganized or unprofessional presentation that gave the wrong first impression.

That’s why dealerships wash cars after service: thousands of dollars of quality repair may have been performed, but if the car comes back dirty the customer is less confident in the work.

Whatever you’re presenting, a few extra minutes to polish up the cover can help make the content shine.

Have a great weekend and a sunny day!

Clarity

P.S. “Clothes and manners do not make the man; but when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.” Henry Ward Beecher

P.P.S. You can read more Sunny Notes at www.SunnyNotes.com and new readers can subscribe at www.JoinSunnyNotes.com. I appreciate your feedback and I hope Sunny Notes brighten your day.

Posted in Sunny notes | Tagged Biz, Business, Dedication, Friday, Inspiration, Motivation, Note, Presentation, Resume, sunny, Weekend, Work | Leave a comment

Communicate Early and Often

Happy Friday!

Looking back at this busy and productive week, an important topic comes to mind:

Communication.

It reminded me once again of what a big difference a few words at the right time can make.

One case was a positive example that happened after somebody delivered something to the wrong place. They called immediately and fessed up, even though they’d already taken steps to solve the problem and could have assumed I’d never find out. But moments later the client called me to ask about the delivery and I was deeply grateful to the deliverer for being upfront with me so I could explain to the client what happened.

The second example was the opposite situation. Somebody was working toward a deadline and it turned out they knew in advance they weren’t going to make it, but didn’t mention that until the deadline passed. In that case, a few timely words at the point when the work went off schedule could have reset everyone’s expectations and avoided a lot of grief.

In a world where teamwork is so integral to success, we all experience moments when a little bit of communication means the difference between a project’s success or failure.

Communicate early and often, and have a sunny day!

Clarity

P.S. “Communicate unto the other person that which you would want him to communicate unto you if your positions were reversed.” Aaron Goldman

Posted in Sunny notes | Tagged Communication, Dedication, Inspiration, Motivation, quote, sunny, Teamwork, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Avoiding Indecision

Good evening,

For my birthday today I’m taking a break from writing Sunny Notes. Instead I’m sharing this post called Avoiding Indecision, written by my colleague Steve Acho who publishes a great blog that I think you’ll enjoy.

AVOIDING INDECISION

“Analysis paralysis” happens when we are faced with so many options we can’t make a decision. Even when we finally do make a decision, research repeatedly shows that those faced with more choices (which should be a good thing) face more regret than those who chose from less.

My biggest learning from Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice is that the best way to decide between many options is to first decide what criteria are most important, then choose the first option that meets all of them. “Good enough” is almost always good enough.

P.S. Visit this link to read Steve Acho’s blog called What I Learned.

Posted in Sunny notes | Tagged Analysis, Blog, Decision, Dedication, Indecision, Inspiration, Motivation, Note, quote, Steve Acho, sunny, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Doing the same things we’ve always done will NOT produce the same results we’ve always gotten

Good afternoon,

Happy Friday! We’ve probably all heard that it’s insane to repeat the same behavior and expect different results. Of course this implies that repeating the same behavior will in fact produce the same results.

However, these days it’s a fantasy to imagine that doing the same thing will produce the same results. Instead, in the business world the reality is this:

Doing the same things we’ve always done will NOT produce the same results we’ve always gotten.

Today’s fast-changing business environment demands that we tune up our game and learn new plays if we want to achieve the same results now that we achieved in the past. This is even more critical if we want to achieve superior results.

Businesses are at risk if they assume that the same old marketing or customer service techniques from past years will continue to produce the same results. Likewise, employees are at risk if they think the skills they had when they got the job are the same skills that will be required keep the job. We absolutely must continually “brush up” to improve our competitiveness or risk becoming irrelevant.

Let’s stay in the game and have a sunny day!

Clarity

P.S. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein, according to some internet sources. This quote has been attributed to other people as well after Einstein.

Posted in Sunny notes | Tagged Biz, Business, Inspiration, Marketing, Note, quote, sunny, Wisdom | Leave a comment