Three Things to Amp Up the Effectiveness of Your Meetings

Meetings. They fill our days. And let’s be honest: most of them are unproductive or poorly managed. The result is that we waste a lot of time that most of us don’t have available to waste; we are already overcommitted.

Like it or not, meetings will always be part of the workday, so it is critical that you make them effective (they achieve what they should do) and efficient (they do it in as little time as possible). Remember: the value of meetings is what they accomplish or inspire, not just the act of meeting.

In my more than 20 years of coaching, consulting and working to amplify performance, I’ve discovered three things you can do to amp up the effectiveness of your meetings. 

1. Make it Personal. Meetings are more effective when those attending can relate to each other. For that, we need to remember that we are each human. So consider starting each meeting with a quick run around the room, asking everyone to share any of the following:

  • What is the best thing that has happened to you today?
  • What is something personal that you want us to know about?
  • What is a success or achievement that you are proud of?
  • What is something that we would never have guessed about you?

When we share our humanity, we connect at a deeper level, which encourages greater sharing of ideas, less apprehension to contribute and, therefore, more productive meetings. Connecting personally builds a stronger bond than just meeting to solve problems, discuss ideas or share information.

Devise a bank of questions you can open your meeting with to help those involved see their shared humanity.

2. Define the objectives and expectations. According to Habit #2 in Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “begin with the end with mind.” With clarity of a direction, goal, objective or expectation, the meeting can police itself to stay focused. Without this clarity, a meeting can run in all directions, distracting the participants and wasting time.

I call this defining the goalpost. Ask yourself: what will we have to achieve to make this a successful meeting? Define it. Share it. Hold all meeting attendees to its achievement.

3. Use an agenda to stay on task. This might seem like a no brainer, but some of the most ineffective meetings are often the result of running with an unclear agenda, or no agenda at all. Even with clear objectives, meetings can wander because of the diversity of the meeting members. Use an agenda to stay focused on what matters and to stay committed to the time allotted to each topic. And ensure your meeting has a time or agenda manager, someone who keeps everyone accountable for their time, contribution and ensuring the meeting continues to move forward.

Nobody has unlimited time; it’s why seeing your calendar fill up with meeting after meeting can be so frustrating. So, make the time to define the topics that need to be covered, understand the time required to adequately discuss each topic and identify the goal(s) of the meeting. This creates the ability to use time wisely and to ensure the meeting attendees to stay focused.

I never attend a meeting I don’t have an agenda for. An agenda is not only a time saver, but it also helps me know how to prepare, how much time I will need to provide and what the meeting will accomplish. With this information, I can be effective in supporting it and making good use of my and the meeting’s time.

Take Action
Before you attend your next meeting, insist on knowing the objective or goal of the meeting and see the agenda. Then, once in the meeting, be sure to first make it personal and be committed to living to the focus and time define in the agenda.

Meetings are truly an invaluable tool when they are organized and run correctly. They can be the place where great things happen, or they can be an abject waste of time. Take control of them to get them to deliver great things for you and your organization.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Managers: How to Identify and Correct Your Blind Spots

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Staying Connected by Being Accountable

I was talking to a friend of mine who told me that each day, she and her husband put time aside to share three big moments, two things they each want to improve on, and two things that didn’t get done that day. She explained that in doing so, it helps them stay focused on what they want to improve on while not losing sight of the good things that happened that day, things that can be easily forgotten or overlooked when life takes over. In short, this is how they stay aware and mindful.

Outstanding practical wisdom. I thought this was an amazing way to not only remain connected with your partner, but to also hold each other accountable for how you want your day, week, month or even your life to be. They embrace their roles as accountability partners.

I often find that not having an accountability partner is one of the reasons why people have a hard time achieving their goals.. It’s so easy to allow yourself to slip off course with a simple, “I’ll do it tomorrow” or the casual, “I will make it up.” Just think of the number of good-intentioned New Year’s resolutions that don’t make it to the end of January.

So, as you define new goals for yourself, however large or small they may be, consider identifying an accountability partner and sharing those goals with that partner. Whether it’s a spouse, a friend, a family member, a colleague or a coach, ask your accountability partner to check-in with you to help you stay on task and to live your commitments that will keep you moving in a productive direction.

Combine this with small, actionable and easy-to-measure goals and you’ll find even reaching your stretch goals becomes more manageable and easier to achieve.

Take Action
Consider how you can implement a 3-2-2 approach to your day, like the one I shared in the opening paragraph. Maybe it’s done in the morning as you set your intentions for the day, allowing you to reflect on the good things from the day before. Maybe it’s done right before bed so you can focus on the good before closing your eyes. Maybe it’s a standing lunch date to help you stop and notice what’s happening in and around you.

Whatever the approach, consider how your life could look when you add an accountability partner to help you stay on the right path toward achieving your goals.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Be Someone’s Hero

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Give Me Clarity – and Courage

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Though this quote by Reinhold Niebuhr is used in both serious and funny scenarios, I think it perfectly sums up a good coaching session. Coaching is focused on guiding you to gain clarity of yourself and your world so you can wisely choose an intentional or productive direction for you in work, relationships and life.

A coaching session calls a lot of things into perspective, whether you want to hear it or not. You gain clarity to see things with greater understanding. This lets you more clearly see your own goals, directions and personal expectations and learn how to align them to who you are and to what is possible.

Many times, you may enter a coaching relationship with a particular outcome or goal in mind, but through greater clarity, you realize the goal was more for others than for you. Does that sound familiar?

Keep in mind that coaching is not mentoring. Mentors give suggestions and advice. They accelerate learning in particular areas. Coaching, instead, guides you to see what is, solve your challenges and learn to identify, accept and work with what cannot be changed. You decide what success is and what it looks like for you. You, with guidance, consider your options to achieve your goals, then choose and act. Your coach is your clarity and accountability partner, helping you stay focused, clear and true to the goals you’ve defined for yourself.

Through coaching, you see, define and develop realistic, practical and achievable outcomes. That is being your life’s owner. That is being intentional in your decisions because you are clear about what is possible.

As poet e.e. cummings says, “It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are.”

Courage and clarity through some assistance and guidance. That is how a coach can help you grow up to be who you really are.

Take Action
It’s up to you how you want your coaching relationship to look, what goals you want to be accountable for, and how you define and strive to reach those goals. Contact us to schedule a free 15-minute introductory conversation to see if coaching, and our style of coaching, is the right fit for you.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Bad Days Don’t Have to be Bad

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Living Life On Purpose

By Jay Forte

Most of us move through life too quickly. We rush from one event to another, barely aware of being part of them. We fall into bed at night, remembering very little of what happened during the day. Not only do we not remember our moments, but we didn’t use them to celebrate our successes or learn from our challenges. We actually miss out on our lives.

We don’t do this on purpose. And that is the problem: we don’t do a lot “on purpose.” Most of what we do, we do out of habit. The same ride to work. The same coffee in the morning. The same food for dinner. Same old, same old. Not that doing something over and over is a bad thing, it is just that when we allow ourselves to mindlessly go through life, we miss out on really experiencing what our world – and our unique lives – can offer.

So how do you start to live more purposely and intentionally? Here are three ways to start.

  1. Take a walk down memory lane. Our memories, when we take the time to make them and revisit them, give us a deeper connection to our lives. We reconnect to who we are and what we experience. We see things more clearly and show up more intentionally.
  2. Slow down instead of speed up. Do fewer things but be more involved in them. Rushing to get things done limits both how effective you are in what you do and the quality of what you experience. Commit to being fully present to where you are and to what you are doing. You will see more, feel more and connect more to your moments.
  3. Listen to your inner voice. Most of us let the outer voices direct us through our lives. Though it is important to have input and information from those in our lives, we each truly know ourselves best. Living life on purpose also means living your life – the one you have and the one you direct. You must learn to hear and trust your inner self – it knows you best. You are accountable for your impact and happiness.

Life is best lived with intention, so do things on purpose. Communicate on purpose. Celebrate on purpose. Learn from your mistakes on purpose. As you tune in with your greatest attention, you learn the lessons of life and participate more fully in each.

Take Action
What is one area of your life that would benefit from approaching it on purpose? Start small but start today. Show up like you mean it and in the process, take note of how everything about life will improve.

 

Consider reading Living Today on Yesterday’s Beliefs

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Reflecting on the Olympics and Potential

By Jay Forte

Rarely do we get to see what potential looks like. So many people just barely scratch the surface of what they are capable of. Too many of us settle for “good enough.”

For those of us tuning in to watch the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, we get ringside seats to see of the results of focus, determination, effort and above all, potential. To have so many consecutive days of Olympic athletes is both inspiring and activating. These athletes train without limit, know their strengths, push through their own obstacles and reach their potential right in front of our eyes. These ringside seats have led to multiple recent conversations I’ve had with clients who now are more inspired to set higher goals and push a little harder to achieve them.

I was most touched and reminded of potential when I heard interviews with the American brother/sister ice dancing couple, Maia and Alex Shibutani, who earned two Bronze medals during the Olympics this year. In their interview, they focused more on talking about their goal to show up and do their absolute best, to look past the basic level of competition in the Olympics and be fully engaged and committed to what is deepest and best in them.

They knew their potential and worked to achieve it. Remarkable perspective, especially from two 20-somethings.

This dedication and perspective on being present to be their best is a theme we hear over and over as every athlete talks about drive, focus and potential.

I routinely share this powerful quote by Buckminster Fuller, an American architect, with my clients and audiences: “What is it on the planet that needs doing that I know something about that probably won’t happen unless I take responsibility for it?”

It is a reminder to look into yourself, to know your abilities and potential, and to use them to make a positive change in your world. Olympic athletes do this as they activate something deep in all of us to want to do better, be better, perform better. They remind us that we have an obligation to bring what we do best to make our difference in the world.

Watching the Winter Olympics this year presents us with three big lessons. First, spend time knowing yourself. Recognize the limits you place on yourself and what your potential is and could be if those limits are removed.

Second, find places in your world where you can raise your game and your performance, for both you and your world.

And finally, stay inspired to always bring your A-game, your best, to all that you do, including the small stuff. Each moment of each day matters.

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. Soon, the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea will end. How will the inspiration of the Games not go with it?
  2. How will you continue to be inspired, engaged and even push to reach past the limits you set for yourself — whether intentionally or not — to move toward recognizing your full potential?
  3. What is your commitment to bring your potential to all you do, to share it with your world to make it better?

The events of life are here to inspire us. Sometimes, they are challenges that force us to learn. Other times, they are success stories that remind us how capable we all are in our own ways. Your potential is not the same as mine, but there is the capacity for both of us to achieve great things when that individual potential is recognized. Watch for what the world shares with you and expects from you. In both places, watch for potential.

 

Consider reading How to Succeed in Changing Times

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Why So Serious? My New Year’s Resolution

By Kristin Allaben, Strategic Communications Specialist and Executive Assistant

We talk a lot here about being mindful and aware, and using that insight to make actionable plans to help us achieve our goals. But I find that in all the talk about achieving goals, we can sometimes become a little too serious. Sure, there’s a time to be serious, but, as the saying goes, “life is too short to be serious all the time.”

So in 2018, my New Year’s Resolution is to stop being so serious all the time, and to be more present to appreciate all of life’s moments.

My sisters have repeatedly told me that this has been the new me since I found out I was pregnant with my first son. They’ve told me – in as loving a manner as younger sisters can manage – on more than one occasion, “you’re just so much more fun now!” Who would have thought becoming a mom would make me less… “intense?” Go figure.

But it’s my goal in the New Year to not only stop and appreciate all the little things, but to also intentionally make it a priority to laugh and relax more. You can relax and roll with what happens, or be tense and worry about everything. Both are choices, but only one is productive in helping you achieve what you want.

Life is always going to present challenges. It’s how life works. But that’s also why we create goals; they help us navigate around challenges so we can achieve what matters to us.

So in an effort to make this change, and to encourage you to do the same, I’m closing this post with a meme that makes me laugh every time I see it. And not just a chuckle. A belly laugh. The kind of laugh that makes my face hurt. Regardless of the reaction it inspires in you, may it help you keep perspective as you start your work to create meaningful and achievable New Year’s resolutions.

Feel free to share this meme, and enjoy!

Consider reading Life’s Little Moments

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Committing to More Effective Communication

By Kristin Allaben, Strategic Communications Specialist & Executive Assistant

There are always lists readily available about words you should remove from your vocabulary, or words you should never say to your boss. I recently read one of these lists on Business Insider that offered one interesting takeaway: “Don’t say I can’t, say I don’t.”

It’s not the first time I’ve heard that piece of advice, but it is the first time I’ve heard it shared in a way that I can personally relate to: dessert. The writer explained that saying “I don’t eat brownies” has a much stronger impact on your self-control than saying “I can’t eat brownies.” You control the first one; you are at the effect of the second one. Choose language that empowers you.

The writer taking the time to effectively communicate why one phrase is better than another made me commit to replacing “I can’t” with “I don’t” in my vocabulary.

Bravo.

This points to a broader theme here: it’s not about the words you should or shouldn’t use, it’s about how you use them.

We toss words around with very little thought about what message they convey. Is what you’re saying meaningful for the person you’re speaking with? Is your message delivered in a way that appropriately reflects your tone, mood and intent? Most of the time, words spill out without enough intention, creating confusion or misinterpretation.

And language choice when speaking to yourself is just as impactful as the language you choose to use when speaking with a friend, family member or colleague. All too often, we can be careless and reckless with our self-talk, negatively affecting our sense of self, our confidence and belief in oneself.

Words are important. Choose them wisely. Use them with intention.

In 2018, how will you communicate more effectively? How will you stop and notice you, others and your situations and choose how and what you say more intentionally? Imagine the impact it could have in all of your relationships.

 

Consider reading Setting the Course for A Successful 2018

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Setting the Course for a Successful 2018

By Jay Forte, MBA, CPC, ELI-MP

When I was a kid, my family had a tradition to create New Year’s resolutions. After a great family dinner on New Year’s day, the table was cleared and out came the note pads and pencils to assist in our conversations about the new year. I admit that this wasn’t always so well received among my five siblings and me, but it was my dad’s process to guide the six of us to focus, develop our talents, discover our passions and live in the greatest way possible.

I know we were different than a lot of families, but my dad was determined that we each live intentionally – tuned in and choosing our life direction and work on purpose (a process I continued with my three daughters and recommend to every dad). In his mind, this needed a process – a way to be ready for life. This process had three steps: Review, Rethink and Respond. 

Review

We began by reviewing the successes, challenges and failures that happened over the past year. We listed them to learn from them, and to understand what worked well and what needed improvement or attention.

Not enough people today review their personal actions to assess what did and didn’t work. As a result, people often find themselves repeating the same actions they should have already learned from. We move slowly forward only to go back and do the same thing over again.

Rethink

With information from the past year fresh in our minds, we then had to rethink: what did we want to achieve in the New Year? This step was intentionally created to encourage us to dream, invent and create what we wanted for ourselves, our family, our world. We took the time to imagine what would help us show up big to life and work, own our lives and make our impact.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to daydream? Dreaming requires you to tune out the loud and pushy technology voice of the world and tune in to your inner voice. Your voice matters most when it comes to imagining what you want to be happy and successful. Rethinking and inventing is key to living a happy, successful and responsible life.

Respond

From the list of things you considered when you took the time to rethink, now it’s time to respond. Choose what you want to happen – most people call it their goal or resolution – and build a plan to make it happen.

Though this is a great process I still follow to this day, I admit it can be challenging to turn dreams into reality. This is why an actionable plan is so important to create – it helps us close the gap between where we are and where we want to be.

Poet Mary Oliver wrote in her poem The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

What progress do you want to make on this question in 2018? Use review, rethink and respond to guide you.

 

Original article “Setting A Course for A Successful 2017” first appeared on LinkedIn, December 15, 2016.

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2018 is around the corner. What Will You Do To Make Your Year Amazing?

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

What do you want to achieve in 2018? What new things will the New Year bring?

The greatest benefit to being a coach is that I’ve learned to ask questions that help create work and life clarity for myself and for others. So as a new year approaches, consider asking yourself these questions to define your goals and make the most out of the New Year.

  1. What am I good at and passionate about?
  2. What places in work and life need what I do and like best?
  3. Presume it is at the end of 2018 and you are reflecting back, thinking how amazing 2018 was. What happened during the year to make you think this?
  4. If you could have just one thing come true for you in 2018, what would it be? What is your first step to working toward achieve it?
  5. What would it take for you to focus more intentionally on living and working at your potential?

Notice that the questions have two purposes. The first is to get you to stop, notice and consider what you want. The second is to get you thinking of how you might start to achieve it. Most of us don’t take the time or make the effort to clearly define a meaningful goal or direction, so our lives roll on, year to year, without us making the progress on what we want or effectively tapping into our potential.

So, as a new year approaches, get good at making time to ask yourself the meaningful questions – the ones that give you direction, inspiration and energy – to define what you want and give you the courage to go get it.

Over the next few months, I’ll share techniques and information I use with my coaching clients, including guidance that helps them define what they want and how to make progress on achieving it. This information will help you grow into the best version of yourself in the New Year.

Whether you’re looking for a change in work or life, my approach to coaching provides you with unique insights to help you make wise work and life choices to start your year off right.

So think about what you want in the New Year and what you need to do to make it happen. Check back here for guidance and insights to help you visualize what you want and develop a plan to achieve it.

New Year, New You. It is up to you to make it happen.

 

Consider reading Setting A Course for A Successful 2018

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You Can’t Improve On Something You Don’t Measure

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

If you want to manage your spending, you need to track what you spend and where.

If you want to be more kind, generous and loving, you need to track when you exhibit these behaviors.

If you want to improve your skills, you study, practice and take a test – it gives an assessment of your skills.

In all of these scenarios, the common denominator is information: tracking your behavior to provide you with insights you can assess to determine how you want or need to move forward.

As a result, when you look at your life and decide what you want to achieve, learn or improve on, learning to measure is critical. 

I was a financial professional in the early part of my career, and quickly became aware of the value of numbers. Numbers are the financial representation of the quality of the organization’s decisions – the decision to hire, promote, engage or fire. The decision of what to sell and how much to sell it for. All of these are daily decisions that affect the organization’s financial performance. The numbers are the metrics that assess the decisions and drive the performance.

But metrics don’t need to be solely used in financial situations. In fact, there are ways to track metrics in your daily life to help you stay focused on achieving your goals.

Let’s say your goal is to improve your health over the next 30 days. As you start to develop the steps to move toward this goal, include a way to measure your progress. For instance, you could have a goal to walk for 20 minutes, 4 times a week. This is measureable. You could have a goal to run 4 times a week at a 9-minute mile pace. Again, measureable.

The information you gather during this time provides you with insights into what’s working and what’s not. Ultimately, the idea is that this information helps you see what you should continue to do (what’s working) and what you need to improve on (what’s not working).

Measurement helps you stay on track. You close the gap from where you are to what you want.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. How can you quantify one goal you have to make it more measureable?
  2. How will you ensure that each end goal or performance goal includes a way for you to assess your progress?
  3. When you help others define and achieve their goals, how will you help them be clear about the specific measurements?

Most of us miss our goals because we can’t measure them. Give yourself some metrics that are specific and easy to measure, then assess and evaluate your progress to help you determine where you stand as you work toward your goal.

 

Consider reading Create a Personal Report Card.

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