Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sharpen Your Saw

Every now and then go away, even briefly, and have a little relaxation. For when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer; since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power. -Leonardo da Vinci

I love that quote. It’s something that I still struggle with sometimes. Stephen Covey, acclaimed author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” calls it Sharpening The Saw.

He tells the story of two lumber jacks in the woods sawing down trees. One of them is working feverishly at the task, rarely stopping to take a break. The other is working at a slower but steady pace and takes breaks frequently. At the end of the day, the lumberjack working at the slower pace has cut down twice as many trees as the one working feverishly. When questioned by the worn out, tired lumberjack as to how he accomplished twice as much in the same amount of time, and working at a slower pace, his answer is quiet simple: “I took time out to sharpen my saw.”

Covey talks about spending an hour a day, everyday, for the rest of your life working on one or more of the following areas: Physical, mental, spiritual, social/emotional. “There’s no other way you could spend an hour that would begin to compare with the Daily Private Victory in terms of value and result. It will affect every decision and every relationship. It will greatly improve the quality and effectiveness of every other hour of the day, including the depth and restfulness of your sleep. It will build the long-term physical, spiritual, and mental strength to enable you to handle difficult challenges in life.”

Does an hour a day seem impossible right now? Then start with 5 minutes and work up to 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and then an hour. Even if you can’t get beyond 10-15 minutes a day in the next year, you will still make tremendous strides had you done nothing instead.

It’s often said that “Yard by yard it’s hard, but inch by inch it’s a cinch.” Too many of us want to leap ahead to the great things in life. But we need to start small right where we are. If you do that from where you are, today, and begin making the small changes, I promise you that soon you’ll see your life change in BIG ways.

To learn more about how to implement these concepts into your life, or to take advantage of my complimentary life coach session, visit my website at www.richvosler.com, or contact me at the phone number or email below!

Who do you know that might enjoy this blog or would like to take advantage of my free life coach session? Please let me know and then pass this information on to them. Thank you!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Raising our 9 kids after my wife passed away a couple of years ago has been the biggest struggle of my life. I’ve always considered myself an excellent parent but I wasn’t sure I could handle this. And now, a little over 2 years into it, it’s all getting done.

But it’s not about me being a super dad – ok, maybe a little. But the real reason I’m getting it all done is because I have a lot of help. We have a full time nanny, several friends and family members who have taken a real interest in our lives, and our church helps us with meals and rides.

Author John Maxwell talks about what he calls the Crucible which he defines as “an opportunity, test or emergency that summons the very best from someone, and reveals the finest qualities they possess inside. Once a potential leader experiences a crucible, they are transformed forever.” He goes on to say, “It’s a challenge or crisis that proves the leadership capacity that lies inside a person. It becomes a defining moment in their leadership journey.”

I’d like to add something to that. Not only does it become a defining moment for the person who’s going through it, but it also becomes the same for everyone closely involved in that person’s life because the people around you begin to step up and get involved. That’s certainly been the case in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of others. And for that I’m VERY thankful.

So, the next time you go through a major struggle in your life, make sure your close friends and family are nearby. Then you can all learn, change and grow together.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What Do You Say When You Talk To Yourself?

Have you ever thought about that question? Have you ever thought about what it is you actually say to yourself? If not, it might be a good idea to start. Do you realize that what you say to yourself has a profound effect on the outcome of your actions? I’ll even go as far to say that what you say to yourself determines what you achieve in life and how far you go in your career and your relationships. You don’t believe it? Well consider this: Leading psychologists tell us that our minds are like “mental computers” and what we put into them is ultimately what comes out. They tell us that our “self-talk”, as it has come to be known in the research and development arena, creates highways in our brains. The more we use specific phrases or tell our minds something we believe about ourselves (i.e.; I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’ll never succeed, etc.), the deeper ingrained those highways become. In order to change them there is only one way to get rid of them – you have to replace them with new phrases that will bring you closer to what you want to accomplish (i.e.; I’m in great shape, I’m beautiful on the inside and on the outside, I’m a winner, etc.). And, if it’s true that your mind can not tell the difference between a real experience and an imagined one, and research proves this to be correct, then no matter what you put into your mind is perceived as real. So if you spend hours in front of the TV, newspapers, computer, trashy magazines and books, your mind considers them all as real experiences that you have either witnessed or partaken in. Now the mind is a wonderful thing because then it goes to work to bring those experiences to reality. Are you beginning to see the process? “Then how do I change this?” you may ask. It all starts with changing what you put in. And when you start to do that, you will see dramatic changes in your life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Where has customer service gone?

Having worked in the customer service segment of the mortgage industry for 19 years, I spent a lot of time on making sure the customers were taken care of. For the life of me, I can't figure out where customer service in any industry has gone! It used to be that companies would genuinely want your business. Now it feels like they could care less about needs and are only interested in "selling" us some overpriced product that we can't use. Plus, if you go into a retail store these days, you're lucky to find a manager over 18 years of age!

I've been blessed with a couple of recent examples I'd like to share. Back in July I went to a trade show to market my services as a Certified Professional Life Coach. It was an industry show where I knew a lot of people, many of which knew that I had switched careers in the last year. While making my rounds from booth to booth, I was surprised at how many of the salespeople didn't listen to why I was there. My reasons were simple: To meet new prospects for my coaching practice who would like to be coached on an individual basis or to meet people who could point me to leaders who had people who needed to be coached. Pretty simple. What I found was that people appeared to be listening but in fact weren't. They simply waited until sound stopped coming out of my mouth and then jumped at the opportunity to tell me what they had to offer in the way of mortgage programs that I could buy from them for my customers. But wait....I don't have any customers who I can sell mortgages too. I'm a Certified Professional Life Coach not a Licensed Mortgage Broker! But it didn't seem to matter. Then, to top it off, several days later I started receiving emails, unsolicited, sent to large groups of people about what products they had (obviously as I left my card at the booth they added me to their email lists). Now, I'm all for marketing through email lists. But didn't they listen to what I do as a profession? Didn't they realize I wasn't a broker? Apparently not.

The other example has to do with an appliance I needed repaired. I called Sears to have them come repair a dryer I bought from them about 6-7 years ago. The product has been excellent with zero problems. I'm real happy with it. But when I ordered the service, I was told it would take 5 days to get to the house to look at it. For waiting 5 days I had to pay $65. Being a loyal customer (now a former customer) I waited because I wanted their own repair people to diagnose and fix it. Then they gave me a 4 hour window when they'd be here. So I blocked out that part of my day and did some lighter tasks so I could be available when they came. Ten minutes after the block of time ended, I called to find out where he was. I was told that he tried to call me 20 minutes prior and because I missed the call, I'd have to reschedule and wait another 5 days! You've got to be kidding me! I've got 9 kids who need to do wash and haven't done any for 5 days!

Here's my suggestion: Why can't they make two attempts to call? I was home but I was working. Furthermore, I checked my phone which has call waiting, caller ID and missed call notification and I can't find when they called. In fact, I don't even see there number on my caller ID! So I rescheduled for the next day and guess what I did? I called another company and set them up for the next day as well and the first one there gets the job!

Isn't that crazy that I have to go through that? Even as a loyal customer since 1987!! Now, this whole thing is partly my fault. Because about 3 months ago, Sears came out to look at a refrigerator and I got the call but when the technician arrived, he rang the doorbell once, no one answered (I'm still trying to figure out how 10 people didn't hear the door) and he left. When I called him back - I had his number on the caller ID - he didn't answer. I called the main number and - you guessed it - had to reschedule. Shame on me for not remembering this incident.

So what's the solution? Damned if I know. But I will tell you this - those of us who know how to treat customers will always be successful and always have more than enough business to support us.

I invite you to share your stories and suggestions and then I'll put them altogether in a future post. Until then, keep improving and make the best use of your day!