Limiting Beliefs and Growing Future Vision

Guy Kawasaki. Photo ©Jocelyn Canfield

Yesterday I saw Guy Kawasaki speak on the subject of innovation. Guy was at Apple computer in its early days and today is a prolific business author and venture capitalist who listens to countless pitches on ideas for new products and businesses.

One of the points Kawasaki made was how limiting beliefs and narrow thinking can result in lost opportunities…He cited:

  • the 1876 internal memo from Western Union stating that “the telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered a means of communication”
  • the 1943 quote from Thomas Watson of IBM that he stated there is “a world market  for maybe five computers”
  • the 1977 quote from Ken Olson of Digital Equipment Corp that there was “no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home.”

In hindsight, of course, it’s easy to see that these statements demonstrate limited vision. But this is what many of us do when we look through the blinders of the status quo. Kawasaki shared his own worst example of that kind – of what he calls bozo thinking. He was invited to interview for the CEO position of Yahoo in its very early days. His response to the opportunity was that it was “too far to drive and he didn’t see how it can be a business.” Convinced the job would have been his, he believes that narrow thinking about the potential of the company cost him about $2 Billion had he taken on the role of CEO.

How can we expand our vision and open our minds to the world as it could become? To the potential of the new technologies that are already in existence? To the ways in which our jobs are being transformed by technology and the economy? What skills can we develop to have better future vision and develop ourselves to step into tomorrow?  I believe in the importance of creating thinking time to consider opportunities before us and ahead of us so that when our own  “Yahoo opportunity” comes along, it won’t seem like too far to drive.

Jocelyn Canfield, ABC
Communication Results


On Becoming Extinct

00011387phoneWatching trends is critical to remaining relevant in business. I received an email this morning detailing 25 things that are going the way of the drive-in movie theater. It listed a few things that made me nostalgic, like the closing of local swimming holes due to lawsuits and the decline of family farming in favor of agribusiness.

Many items on the watch list relate to media and communications and make me think of the revolutionary changes in the years since I left college, where my first news writing course was in a classroom with manual typewriters and I learned graphic design with a T-square and X-acto knife. Here are a few items on the endangered list:

– Yellow Pages directory. Think online alternatives to this hefty waste of paper.
– Newspaper classified ads. Think Craig’s list and FREE.
– News magazines and TV news. Think immediacy of internet news.
– Movie rental stores. Think Netflix.
-Telephone land lines. Think cell phones and Skype.
-Film cameras. Digital is here to stay.
-Hand-written letters. Think 210 billion emails/day.

What if I had stayed in the newspaper business my whole career? What if I relied on yellow pages advertising and nothing else to grow my design business? The trends listed above are fairly obvious today. But what trends are just appearing on the horizon that could change the way you do business next month or next year?

-Can your work be easily offshored or replaced by a cheaper alternative? A friend just returned from Malaysia where he trained people to do his former co-worker’s jobs at a fraction of the cost. But nurses are still in demand.
– Is your service easier to find and cheaper on the internet?  I can buy a quality stock photo for $10 that I would have paid $250 to a traditional stock agency for a few years ago and $500 to have shot by a photographer 20 years ago. Custom portrait work cannot be offshored.

What changes to your service line can you make now to help ensure your long term success? What shifts in your marketing approach are needed to address the changing media landscape? What training are you lacking to stay abreast of change?

The Positive in Every Situation

bigstockphoto_lemonade_3393603A member of a LinkedIn group questioned the degree to which the media are guilty of fueling the fire of our economic downtown with incendiary headlines like, “Consumer Confidence Plummets.” My feeling is that the media ARE complicit in fueling that fire and my response to his query talked about the failure of the media to seek balance in their reporting. I have not seen a lot of headlines about companies that are doing well in this economy…companies who are innovating, making good business choices and navigating the turbulent waters. These companies ARE out there and they are the ones that will emerge on the other side in a strengthened position.

I believe in the statement about life being like a camera…whatever you focus on develops. Sure, there is plenty of negative out there. But think of the abundance of innovative responses to these challenging times! These times are NOT going to reward the whiners and worriers. I personally have been engaging in a wide variety of new marketing efforts…trying new things, reaching out to new people, evaluating all of my opportunities and looking to create new ones. As a result I have connected with new people, landed new work and put in place new strategies for growth.

Never forget the importance of your attitude in determining your destiny.

© 2009 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC

What Fires You Up?

kickupheels2I was checking in recently with my accountability partner on progress toward our goals. (We talk every Monday about our goals for the week and performance over the prior week.) She is making major changes in her life and is in that in-between stage of still working full time for a company while she readies herself to launch her own business.

Despite the long hours she is putting in, she commented that she is “so freaking excited” about working toward her dream job that she jumps out of bed early every day eager to make progress on her goals! We should all have that same level of enthusiasm while working two full-time jobs!

When we give ourselves permission to do work that resonates with our heart, we have the potential to have the same kind of enthusiasm. Certain work that I do gives me this level of excitement. There are also quite a few projects filed away in my brain that have the potential to spark that level of excitement. How can we bring these projects to the forefront, especially when time is at a premium?

I frequently hear people talking about what they will do “when they have time.” What I have learned is that time seldom materializes in large blocks. It is important to learn to take advantage of small bites of time in order to make gradual progress toward your goals and dreams and put my friend’s level of excitement into your workday.

– What if just one morning a week, you spent 30 minutes on your project?
– What if you gave up watching one sporting event on TV to work on your project?
– What if you spent an hour before breakfast one day each weekend?

If you do all three of these, you’ve just created four hours of time each week to accomplish something important to you!

Take Action Challenge: Consider where you can find small bites of time in your schedule to make progress toward a project or goal. What ho-hum activities are you willing to give up to get to the level of excitement my friend has?

© 2009 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC

Surround Yourself with Successful People

15665wbf2I was at a conference last year with about 300 people who were fired up to learn, grow and succeed. What energy filled that room! EVERYONE I met was looking for ways to improve themselves and to suck the proverbial marrow out of life! And the success that these people were looking for was not just about money. The facilitator encouraged putting heart and soul into life and living your passion. Attendees exchanged countless hugs over the course of the week. The experience of being with so many vibrant people with common goals made me realize that once I returned home, I had no one in my primary circle of friends who is like this and who could support me in my growth…or even understand it.

So this year one of my goals became to build my “posse” by finding an assortment of like-minded people who can help me to grow personally and professionally. I have heard it said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Think about who those five people are in your life and decide if they are helping you to realize your goals and dreams.

To determine who you need to add to your mix of friends and acquaintances to support your success, you need to know what success looks like for you, both personally and professionally. Each of your goals or personal visions may be supported by different types of people…but for now we’ll focus on business success. Here’s what I am up to:

1) After the conference I referenced above, I participated in a series of group coaching sessions with folks from the workshop. I was assigned an accountability partner and, nearly a year later, we still check in with each other weekly. We discuss our success on our goals for that week and what we want to achieve in the coming week. This helps to focus me and move me toward success.

2) Several months ago I joined a book group that focuses on life changing books. This is a group of people who want to grow and experience life more deeply.

3) I have decided that I want to become a better public speaker and have greater confidence speaking off the cuff, so I am joining a local Toastmasters group. These skills will help me personally and professionally.

4) I want to join or form a business mastermind group.

In each of these situations, I will have the opportunity to expand my network of successful people.

Take Action Challenge: Think about whether you have people around you who can support your success toward each of your business goals. Do you have at least one group of like-minded people with whom you affiliate? If the answer is no, consider where you would find such people and seek them out.

Perspectives on Persistence and Success

persistence-successI’ve been considering how important the quality of persistence is to having a successful life, both personally and professionally. For several months, I’ve been implementing a number of business strategies to become more visible and to reach out to people for networking. This fulfills not only my mission to find new and interesting work, but also my intense desire to form deeper relationships.

Most of the time when I reach out, there is no immediate “win” when measured solely in terms of business revenue. These efforts could be viewed as failures, but I choose to dwell on the many personal wins: connecting for coffee with a former client…giving someone the nice feeling that I was thinking about them…offering help in the form of a referral to someone I just met. When I view simply making a deeper connection as a win, I can consider each contact I make as being successful! Last week, I had a double win. I reconnected with a woman who was interesting to me, and whose organization was appealing to me from a work standpoint. I had a new project within days! My persistence paid off.

Success coach and author Jack Canfield says in his book, The Success Principles, that “Persistence is probably the single most common quality of high achievers… No matter how hard it seems, the longer you persist, the more likely your success.”

I recently recognized that I have a completely different persistence personae when it comes to work than I do when it comes to my personal life. I am more easily discouraged when I reach out to someone in friendship personally and it does not come to fruit. I have times when I give up frustrated that I will never find what I want (ever tried online dating?). I am taking note of that self realization and will try to shift my attitude and behavior accordingly.

Take action challenge. What challenge are you facing in your life right now, and how can you persistently overcome it? Cosmetics empire founder Mary Kay Ash said,”When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.” Can you brainstorm a way around, over, under or through your roadblock or challenge?

© 2008 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC

Searching for professional meaning

ss45026Periodically I have an overwhelming realization that I am not fully connecting my passion with my work…that I have some bigger purpose in life, still undiscovered…or maybe just ignored for the safety of a reliable income. While I enjoy the work that I do (graphic design, writing and photography) I often think about how I could be using my talents to bring about meaningful change in some capacity. This feeling may be a hallmark of hitting your 40s and 50s. It’s no longer about how high the ladder goes, but about making sure the ladder is leaning against the right wall to begin with. Or as a friend of mine recently put it upon returning from a two-month sabbatical in Korea, coming down off the ladder and recognizing that life CAN be a meandering path if you are willing to listen to your heart.

At one time the dream for me was to quit my corporate job and start my own business. Eleven successful business years later, I want more. I know intuitively that I want to get satisfaction – even joy – out of each waking, working moment, but I am aware that my activities do not always support my intentions. To some degree many of us are guilty of putting our professional and even our personal lives on autopilot. We drift along when the waters are smooth, only turning our attention to certain activities when the waters get choppy. Now is one of those choppy times for many of my friends and colleagues. People suddenly start nurturing their network, re-evaluating their skills, questioning their employability. Will they get laid off? Are they employable elsewhere? Will they lose the big client? The question of work that has deeper meaning seems to have less relevance when we are in a position of desperation.

There is never a bad time to focus on the call of your heart. It you have a professional or personal aspiration that is somewhat unconventional or has less potential for income, be sure that you are still taking steps toward that dream even as you review the want ads or search for clients that pay the bills rather than fire up your heart. If you want to write a book, commit to writing a page a day or writing for two hours every Saturday. If you would prefer to get off the fast track and work in the non-profit sector helping others, develop relationships by volunteering on boards of directors of organizations that you care about. Want to lead fishing expeditions when you retire? Start planning one a month now and develop a clientele. It is a daunting task to head in a completely new direction from nothing, with no contacts or experience. But if you’ve been dabbling at your passion all along, the pink slip could be a blessing in disguise…and you just may have more courage to go in the direction of your heart.

© 2008 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC