Archive for the ‘Self Improvement’ Category

Your Commitment to Your Professional Growth Is?

Yesterday, I made this short update at LinkedIn about professional growth for executive coaches, business coaches or sales coaches:

If you are not continually expanding your knowledge, testing your own boundaries, how can you ask your coaching clients to do the same?

Even though I referenced those in professional coaching roles, this question can be asked of any professional in any role including sales, executive leadership, management and even customer service.

With over 97% of all U.S. businesses being fewer than 20 employees, professional growth many times falls on the financial shoulders of each individual.  These investments toward continuing professional development may range from buying books, joining organizations to even hiring an executive coach.

Some recent research by RandstadUSA suggests that millennials expect their employers to pay for their professional development. This may be true if the firms are large enough in revenue to fund those expectations.

The question to be asked is why aren’t you investing in your own professional growth?  Possibly the fear of it might not work?  I can attest even when I purchase a book or attend a seminar that I discover is not up to my expectations, I still walk away with one tidbit of knowledge.  My growth is not dramatic, but there is growth.

FEAR is for the most part False Evidence Appearing Real. 

Right now write down your goals for your own personal and professional growth.  For example, read one recently published book per month on sales or leadership. Did you know that 23% of 18-49 year olds have not read a book in the last 12 months. This number increases to 29% for adults 50 years old and older.  (Source: Pew Research)

P.S. Remember, this old saying “The chicken was involved; the pig was committed.”

If you are unsure of how to construct a good goal statement or lack your own action plan for professional growth, then CLICK HERE. If you wish to speak with me, Leanne, then click here for a free strategy session or call 219.508.2859 MST.

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Regrets Reflect You Are Not Where You Want to Be

Did you ever think how you respond to a simple statement reflects your most inward and personal regrets? Yesterday when leaving a national drug store chain, I told the clerk to “Make it a great day.” Her response was “I will at 4:15.”

As this encounter was early in the day, I quickly surmised she had been at work for around an hour and she was already regretting she was not where she wanted to be.  How sad. What a waste of human potential.

I believe this woman saw only limitations and no opportunities in her current role.  Working was not something to enjoy, to embrace, but a daily drudgery.

Sure. we all have bad days where we question why are we doing what we are doing.  Yet when we allow regrets to creep into our personal attitudes they then become reflection of our personalities.

Staying positive is not easy.  Staying full of energy when the day to day activities appear to grind you down is not easy.  Yet, living with regrets takes a vast toil on your own soul and is like a lingering infection that never truly goes away.

My sense is this individual had never taken the time to explore her purpose, to think about where she truly wanted to be and then put together a plan of action to get there.  She like so many others has not recognized the incredible potential in taking charge of her life.

Even the most successful people may experience regrets. The difference is they don’t allow those regrets to become an attitude, a habit of thought as Zig Ziglar defined them.  No, they shake them off, like a dog shakes off water after swimming.

Successful people know where they are going. They have a goal driven action plan in how to get there. And when obstacles or limitations are placed in front of them, they work to remove or go around those impediments to where they want to be.

P.S. Another sign of personal regrets are these words:  Would of, Could of, Should of

If you are not where you want to be in your business or your own personal life, then schedule a time to speak with Leanne Hoagland-Smith by clicking here.


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No Purpose Leads to Bad Decisions and Consequently Bad Results

A colleague of mine S. Anthony Iannarino, discussed in his weekly email about how changing one’s decision changes one’s trajectory.  I agree with him because there are a lot of bad results happening because of bad decisions.

bad-decisionsYears ago I read this book The On Purpose Person by Kevin McCarthy.  He rendered down purpose to being a light switch.  When the light switch is on, you are on purpose.  Conversely when the light switch is off, you are no longer on purpose.

Many bad decisions are the result of not having clarity around one’s purpose.  This is true for any professional in any role from sales to leadership and everything in between.

So what is your purpose?  Have you taken the time to answer:

“Why are you here right now in this moment in time?” 

For example the purpose of young babies is to eat, sleep and dirty their diapers.  As they grow older their purpose changes to playing and asking all those “Why” questions.  In later life for many, the purpose again changes to being loving and engaged grandparents.

When we lack clarity around our purpose, we then unintentionally make bad decisions.  These bad decisions create bad direction or trajectory as Iannarino alludes to in his posting.

Additionally the lack of purpose may help to explain why so many people reside in the Land of Indecision.  As I have said countless times “Indecision is a decision not to take action.”  Others have been quoted as saying “even a bad decision is better than no decision.”  How do you know if the decision is bad until you actually execute it?

In working through your purpose, this tip may help.  How would you answer this question?

What gifts do you bring to the table of life?

By identifying your gifts, you probably have unintentionally also identified many of your positive core values. Is not being understanding of others a gift as well as a positive core value?  How about creativity or honesty?  Many of our gifts, our talents, are rooted in our belief system and reflected as positive core values.

Investing time to commit your purpose to writing will save you time down the road because you will make better decisions and receive much better results.

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Stop, Take a Step Back and Gain Clarity Around Your Purpose

So what’s your purpose if you are in sales, leadership or some other role?  People are so busy working IN their lives, they fail to stop and take a step back to work ON their lives.



When we understand our individual purpose, we gain clarity and this supports us as we move intentionally forward.

Isn’t it funny we use words all the time and think we know what they mean?  Take the word purpose. This word has Latin roots but is viewed as an Anglo-French word of “purpos” meaning intention, aim or goal.

This definition of intention, aim or goal makes sense when we remember the scene in the story Alice in Wonderland as she comes across the Cheshire Cat sitting in the tree. Below the tree are several paths.

She politely asks the Cat “Which path should I take?” The Cat then replies with a question: “Where are you going?”  Alice answers:  “I do not know.”  So the Cat quickly responds: “Well, then any path will take you there.

Alice lacked clarity around her intention, her aim or her goal.  This lack of clarity ended up, if you remember the story line, with her unintentionally attending the croquet game where the Queen of Hearts was yelling “Off with their heads.”

Not knowing your aim in life may have you ending up in a similar nightmarish situation.

So where does this step backward start?  Schedule some time in your calendar to reflect.  Travel back through your life and see if there is any recurring theme specific to your behaviors.

Also, this secondary question of “What gifts do I bring to the Table of Life?” may further assist you to gain greater clarity. Your gifts many times are your talents.

If your life is not where you want it to be, if your results are not where you want them to be and you are tired of encountering the Queen of Hearts, then invest some time for self-improvement by constructing your purpose.

Don’t know your talents, then this quick (under 10-12 minutes) assessment may be your second step forward.

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Why SMART Goals Are No Longer Enough

SMART goals have been with SMB sales professionals and owners for over 50 years.  Yet how many executive leaders and salespeople consistently fail to achieve both professional and personal goals?

smart-goalsAs SMB has evolved, now is the time for SMART goals to evolve as well.  In the past, the SMART acronym was:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistically set high
  • Target date, time driven

Lee Iaccoca is quoted as saying:

“The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.”


Other research supports the act of committing something to writing increases the odds that it will be achieved.  Did you know the earliest empirical study of goal achievement and writing goals was undertaken in 1935?


Research by Gail Matthews at Dominican University has proven strategies for effective goal achievement must be actionable. This goes beyond writing goals down. There must be action steps, the sharing of goals and some personal accountability process for goal achievement.


Remember as a child when your parents wanted to demanded you achieve certain things like good grades, good discipline to even keeping your room clean?  Do you also remember feeling a little to a lot of resentment? Having those feelings was quite natural.

When we embrace the Theory of Self Determination as developed by Deci and Ryan, we understand this intrinsic motivation of choice.  When we have choice through autonomy, we are more likely to own the decision we are making.

Choice in goal setting is about truly owning the goal as our own. 


Within the pre-existing SMART, the A stood for achievable.  Today we know that when we align our actions to our purpose, our plan and our passion, achievement is far easier.

By adding WAY before SMART goals and replacing Aligned to Achievable, we now have a goal setting and goal achievement criteria that has evolved with current research and works with intrinsic motivation.  WAY SMART goals reflect what was possibly implied in the past, but never clearly articulated.

P.S. If your current goal setting worksheet is not working, consider this goal sheet that embraces the WAY SMART criteria plus digs a little deeper into committing that goal to writing.


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Freedom Is Intrinsic to Our Motivation

Have you ever considered freedom to be intrinsic to motivation? Many times we think of freedom in different terms such as the freedom to walk the streets, the freedom of free speech, etc.

motivationYet if one understands the Theory of Self-Determination, freedom is the authenticity to be one’s self while being responsible to ourselves and others within our community. Choice is infused within freedom.

We chose our behaviors. When we ignore others in the quest to assert our own freedom, we are no longer making responsible choices. We truly are not free.

Autonomy is the ability to make choices.  This intrinsic motivational driver is usually the most difficult one to engage because others make choices for us.  In some instances, this is necessary as with a young child.

When we understand how choices are essential to motivation, parents, managers and even individuals can further expand human potential and consequently performance.

If  you want to learn more about The Theory of Self Determination, this book, Why We Do What We Do, by Edward L. Deci, s a great read and a must read for those in any position of authority including:

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Team Leaders
  • Supervisors
  • Managers
  • Executives
  • Vice Presidents
  • Presidents
  • SMB Owners
  • Sales Professionals
  • Board Members

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Your Kaizen Action Plan to Increase Sales Is…?

One of the most popular Internet search terms for my website is “action plan to increase sales.”  In reading the book Managing in a Time of Great Change by Peter Drucker, he refers to the Japanese term “kaizen” and explains it as continuous self-improvement.  How many professional salespeople have such a plan?

action-plan-to-increase-salesFrom my early college days, I adapted the old Bingo Sheet and revised it to a quarterly goal sheet. I would write down my goals and then monitor the results each quarter. One of my personal goals was to get married by my 40th birthday and stay married for a minimum of 25 years. I achieved the married part of that goal 2.5 months early and my husband and I have made it past 25 years as a married couple.

With my clients, I use this Bingo Sheet as a recap of significant business and personal goals.  These goals are taken from more detailed one page action plans for both their business and personal lives. For most the focus is usually on sales. However for some of my more forward thinking clients, they actually work several one page actions plans.

Any action plan to increase sales is indeed about self improvement and is supported by other areas of personal and professional development.  One cannot be knowledgeable about the industry without improving one’s mentality acuteness.

Another gem I have learned over the years is the importance of writing significant goals down.  When I write now what I call WAY SMART goals down, I gain greater clarity because I am truly reflecting upon where I want to go and how I am going to get there.  This action is so simple and yet extremely powerful.

The year is almost half over.  If you aren’t happy with your results, then consider investing some time to create your own Kaizen Action Plan to Increase Sales. Instead of asking yourself

“What do I have to lose? Ask yourself what may I gain?”

CLICK HERE to schedule 30 minutes to speak with Leanne

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Why SMART Goals in Sales Fail


Credit: Gratisography

Most sales professionals have sales goals and in many instances these are mandated to be SMART goals. By the way did you know that Zig Ziglar was the first salesperson I found to talk about SMART goal setting?

Just as a fresher the acronym SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistically set high (Stretch)
  • Time driven or target date

Daniel Pink in his book Drive mentions these criteria and why they fail.  Anyone who understands the Theory of Self Determination from the 1970s long before Pink know why these criteria are not enough.

Years ago when entering in some sales training and leadership training from Resource Associates Corporation, the curriculum included the SMART criteria.  Then with the advent of the youth leadership Rising Stars curriculum, the criteria changed to SMARTY. Now the executive leadership, sales, management, team leadership, customer service and even time strategies curriculums all have been updated to include this key “Y” criterion of Yours.

I had adjusted this known criteria after I realized many in sales and business knew about SMART goals yet still could not achieve their goals.  The reason was because the ownership of the goal was by someone else not by the salesperson or business leader.

The Theory of Self Determination by Deci and Ryan explains this ownership through the second intrinsic motivating factor of autonomy which is defined simply as the ability to make a choice.  When goals are forced onto people, the outcome is reluctant participation.

smart-goalsBy adding this one word, WAY,  in front of SMART, there is more consistent goal achievement.

  • Written – Goals really must be written done. If you disagree think about going to the grocery store without your written grocery list.
  • Actionable – Goals that begin with action verbs such as achieve, increase, sell, secure, etc. prompt the individual to greater achievement.
  • Yours – Goals must be yours. You must own the goal to be able to see the WIIFM. This ownership is directly connected to your own autonomy.

To determine goal failure is not rocket science.  To achieve more goal success is also not rocket science.

If you want a proven goal setting and goal achievement tool, the Results Tool™ may help you.

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Why Investment in Professional Development Is Essential

Do you make an investment in your own professional development?  If you don’t, shame on you. With the speed of change at rapid pace, to not work ON yourself means you are truly behind the flow.

professional-developmentYesterday I invested over 13 hours of my time attending a seminar offered by Ari Galper.  I did this to make my quarterly goal of 25 hours of professional development away from my office.

To be truthful I was somewhat cynical of this seminar on being the Trusted Authority in sales given I have attended so many similar seminars in the past.  I was truly surprised by the content and the nuggets I gleamed from this rather interesting learning engagement.

Beyond receiving some exceptional content, I also had the opportunity to meet several other professional consultants. executive and business coaches.  Listening to their experiences was also very beneficial.

So often we attend learning engagements that reaffirm our own beliefs.  I appreciated this seminar because it challenged several marketing and selling beliefs I hold very true.

In the coming days, weeks and months I will be applying much of what I learned and refocusing some of my marketing efforts based on this one quote I heard:

“Being a Trusted Authority happens before the sale; being a trusted advisor happens after the sale.”

Since I believe if marketing is done well, selling is effortless (paraphrasing Peter Drucker), then what I learned yesterday will support me to further clarify my marketing and therefore improve my sales results.

You may notice I did not share very much of what I learned and that was intentional.  We live in a B2B world filled with a lot of knowledge.  What we as business coaches and consultants do is give away much of that knowledge because of our desire to “solve” problems because we believe that will encourage someone to hire us. Maybe it is time to rethink that business model?  If you want to experience a day of professional development that will challenge some of your own beliefs and knowledge, then reach out to Ari Galper.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Let’s Strive for Work-Life Alignment First

Let’s stir the self-improvement pot and finally admit work-life balance never really existed. This life concept is more of an ideal way to live than reality.  Now this may upset some who continue to sell and make money off this never really existed life concept.

work-life-alignmentWhat does exist and what is real is work-life alignment.

Imagine for a moment two wheels connected. One of those wheels is your personal life and the other one is your professional life.  When both wheels are not in alignment, there is a tendency for them to go off track even when you are doing the steering towards where you want your personal and professional lives to be.

Misalignment demands additional energy to steer the course so to speak. When the wheels of the car are misaligned, this creates additional wear on one or two tires. In the case of work-life alignment, misalignment can also wear individuals down emotionally, financially and physically.

Work-life alignment begins with your purpose.  Your purpose connects your two wheels like the axle in a vehicle. The tie rods that help with steering and alignment keep the wheels on your Vision road.

Noted psychologists Deci and Ryan realized the importance of purpose within their Theory of Self-Determination. Purpose is one of the three essential inherent motivational drivers found within each human being according to their research.

Values (non-negotiable behaviors) support alignment. Using the car and wheel analogy, values are the tie roads that help with navigation and keeping alignment.  When a tie rod breaks, the car can no longer be steered.  When we break out values, our life also cannot be steered.

Finally, your vision of where you want to go is your road.  This road leads ultimately to what you want out of your personal and professional lives.  When your work-life wheels are in alignment traveling that road can be much easier.

If you want to improve your life, first determine where there is any misalignment between your work-life wheels. Then take action to correct that misalignment.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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