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I would be selling more books, but…

I attended a personal development seminar this past weekend. One of the goals for many affiliated with the seminar organization is to eliminate three words from their vocabulary: can’t, try, and but. Those participating in one particular program are even fined every time they’re caught using these words during group coaching calls. I am not participating in this program; I learned about it from the gal who sponsored me to attend the weekend workshop.

The thinking makes sense. The reasons for eliminating can’t are pretty obvious. If you’re familiar with Yoda, you know why try is equally limiting. And the thought around eliminating but is that it is more often than not the prelude to an excuse. cant but try

What I found very interesting is that, to a person, everyone participating in this change-your-vocabulary/change-your-thinking program is wildly aware of their use of the word but. The thing is, they’ve all replaced it with the word however. They’d be speaking in a normal tone and would come to the place in a sentence where they typically would have used the word but. Instead, they’d catch themselves, and replace the but with a loud and extremely pronounced – exaggerated even – HOWEVER.

I went to the store – HOWEVER, I left my wallet at home, so I couldn’t pay for my groceries.

Every. Single. Time.

In my opinion, this language shift misses the mark. I tried to explore this with a staff member from the seminar company, with little to no success. Replacing one word with another word doesn’t do anything to shift the behavior behind using the word if the excuse still follows the replacement word. Instead of using however, they could use the word purple – or a nonsense word like sprugmulch – and the result would be exactly the same. Unless and until they actually work to rephrase their language and the thoughts behind it, all they are doing is calling attention to the replacement word preceding the excuse. And then they’re STILL making the excuse!

If, instead, they made an effort to actually shift the meaning of the sentence not just replace the but – I could see the purpose of the exercise. It’s quite doable.

I went to the store – and then I realized I’d left my wallet at home, so I had to run home again before I could pay for my groceries.

I went to the store. Once I noticed I’d left my wallet at home, I decided to buy only the groceries I could get for the cash in  my pocket.

What’s the point? Our language does matter. Eliminating excuse-making words is a very good idea. And it will only work if you follow through all the way.

Then yesterday, I heard an ad on the radio for an anti-litter campaign titled Don’t Trash Arizona. Having been trained for years (including during the seminar this past weekend) in the idea that our goal should be to focus on what we want – as opposed to what we don’t want – I was immediately taken aback by the name of this campaign.

The Law of Attraction teaches that what we focus on expands. Want more money? Focus with Focus_Mindgratitude on the five dollar bill in your wallet. Don’t look at it and think to yourself, “I’m so broke. I’ve only got five bucks.”

Why isn’t the campaign called Keep Arizona Clean? I checked, and that domain name is available – so that wasn’t the reason. It was likely just an oversight. And yet I could only think how much more effective a name it would have been. Not to mention that donttrasharizona.com has two adjacent T’s – which is another problem, potentially affecting the site’s SEO.

Have you thought much about your language as it relates to your excuses and your goals? Are you focusing on what you want (finishing your book, finding the perfect cover designer, selling 4,000 copies) or on what you don’t want (I can’t get this last chapter written, My cover is terrible, or No one’s reading my book)? Are you using supportive language or limiting language? Are you even conscious of it?

Here’s to deliberation in our language!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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We’re seven weeks into 2015 — are  you READY? If you haven’t yet 2015 Goalsmapped out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

 

 

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Change your thoughts to change your outcomes

If you live in Phoenix, you’ve likely noticed a giant increase in panhandlers at intersections in every part of the Valley. As I understand it, we have looser restrictions on “begging” than many other major municipalities. That – perhaps coupled with our temperate homelessweather – means that we’re seeing a lot more presumably needy people asking for handouts.

Whatever your feelings about these folks, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t envy them. I don’t care whether they’re homeless. I don’t care whether it’s a “scam.” Seriously – who would choose that as their life’s work, unless it was some sort of temporary sociological experiment?

One guy, in particular, got me to thinking the other day. I work from home, so I don’t typically drive the same path on a daily basis. Last week, though, I did have occasion to drive the exact same route at roughly the same time, two days in a row. As I arrived at a busy intersection, I noticed a man sitting on a battered cooler in front of a convenience store. He was bearded, wearing a blue ball cap, and, as you might expect, fairly scruffy looking. The next day, there he was again. Same man, same battered cooler, same blue ball cap, in exactly the same place.

That got me to wondering about him. Where did he sleep at night? When was the last time he’d had a shower? A hot meal? There was a report on the radio at that moment about MLB pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training. When was the last time this guy had sat on a couch and watched a baseball game? Where was he from? Where was his family? What had he last done for work? What kind of education did he have? All this went through my head in the minute or so I sat at the stoplight noticing him.

As I continued driving, I pondered further, wondering what might have happened in his life to lead him to that place. Had he lost a job? Had he broken up with a girlfriend and wound up homeless? The interesting thing to me was that he had managed to make something normal of his circumstances. That cooler might have been his only possession, but it was his, and as such, it gave him a place to sit while begging from his corner at the same time, two days in a row. I’ve no idea if he’s out there again today. And if he’s not, I’ve no idea where he’s gone. But for the times I saw him, he’d adopted that corner as part of his routine.

So that led me to thinking about how any of us adopt routines – both healthy and unhealthy. One might take the stand that adopting the routine of panhandling on a street corner is unhealthy. On the other hand, the routine of staying alive by any means necessary is probably a pretty good idea. There are always two ways to look at a situation, aren’t there?

A big part of what leads to a routine is our mindset – deciding to do something on a regular basis. But it’s often developed rather unconsciously, isn’t it? We stumble into something, do it once, and then one day we look up to notice that we’ve created a routine for ourselves, whether or not we intended to. Sometimes, like I imagine it might have been for my panhandling friend, it may amount to settling for things. Maybe he did lose his job – and unable to find more work right away, accepted unemployment as his new normal. Maybe then his girlfriend threw him out, and without any real friends in the Valley, he wound up sleeping in his car. So that became another new normal. But he still had to eat – so he decided to make a sign and pitch his cooler in front of a Circle K on a busy corner near a freeway entrance. My point is that he probably didn’t plan to become a panhandler. I’ll bet if you went and asked him, he’d tell you the other, bigger dreams he had. This just happened. In no small part, because he agreed to each step of his new routine, accepting them as the way things are.

While the panhandler is an extreme example, this is the way most of our lives unfold. Things happen, and we accept them. Unless and until we decide to take action and move in a different direction, they will keep happening along whatever trajectory we’re currently following. Are there places in your life where you’ve just accepted that “that’s the way it is”? Inability to find time to write as often as you’d like? Not enough money to market your book properly? You don’t have to be living in your car or begging on a street corner to have found yourself settling.

Here’s the thing: you can change your outcomes. You simply have to decide to make a shift. The what iffirst step is knowing what you want. The second step is believing something else is possible. Even if it seems absolutely impossible at this moment, allow yourself to think – and more importantly, feel – “But what if it were possible? What if I could find more time to write? What if there were a way to market my book on my tiny budget?” What if…? can be a powerful trigger, if you let it.

We all get stuck sometimes, yours truly included. We stagnate, find ourselves settling for less than what we want, deserve, and are capable of achieving. The great news is that we have the ability to choose to become unstuck. Whether that means reading this blog, finding one supportive person to help you, or rearranging your schedule so that you live on your own terms, the answers and support and solutions are out there. You just need to ask, and they will appear.

Here’s to changing your thoughts AND your outcomes!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

We’re six weeks into 2015 — are  you READY? If you haven’t yet 2015 Goalsmapped out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

 

 

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Maintaining your cool under holiday pressure

In preparation for the upcoming Holiday Author Event, I recently hosted a training, Book Signing Success Secrets. There were 4 parts to the training:calm under pressure

  1. Before the Event
  2. At the Event
  3. The Display
  4. After the Event

I was fortunate to be able to bring in two experts to offer invaluable input into the success metric:

Connie Kadansky is an international sales coach and trainer whose underlying message comes back to one thing: the importance of having a success mindset.

Barbara Chatzkel, the Body Language Pro, shared information about the kind of body language authors want to exhibit in a book-signing scenario to indicate interest and attract people to them, as opposed to inadvertently pushing them away.

Connie often writes and speaks on the power of optimism as a sales tool: optimistic people meet more people, make more sales, and generally have more success in all areas of their lives. And optimism is a mindset.

I recently came across a LinkedIn article by Dr. Travis Bradberry titled, “How Successful People Stay Calm,” and found that it coincides precisely with Connie’s thinking and teachings on optimism. I encourage you to read the whole article, but here are the 10 behaviors Bradberry notes that successful people use to remain calm under pressure:

  • The appreciate what they have.
  • They avoid asking “What if…?”
  • They stay positive.
  • They disconnect.
  • They limit their caffeine intake.
  • They sleep.
  • They squash negative self-talk.
  • They reframe their perspectives.
  • They breathe.
  • They have and rely on support systems.

I had an opportunity to practice some of these the other day. For last weekend’s training session, I set up a display table with all of my books, products, and accoutrements. Knowing I’d be attending another event where I would be using the same materials this weekend, I left the multitude of boxes in the trunk, figuring I’d just make it easier on myself. Then, the car I was driving went into the shop on Tuesday. Was certainly supposed to be fixed by Thursday, Friday at the latest. Of course, it hit me at 6 p.m. Friday night that since we clearly weren’t going to get the car back that day, I’d need to stop by the garage on the way to my event and gather my things out of the trunk. Perfect plan, until my husband texted: “Sorry. The garage is closed on the weekend.”

Crap, crap, crap!

I was pretty aggravated for a couple of minutes, until I realized that there wasn’t much I could doplan b about the situation, and staying frustrated would get me nowhere. I needed a Plan B. What’s quite humorous about this whole situation is that my Plan B involved the saddest, most pathetic looking little portion of a display table (I didn’t have materials enough to warrant even half a table) at this weekend’s conference. One person grabbed a business card, but that was pretty much the extent of the activity my display generated.

Of course, then, there’s serendipity – as my sad little pathetic display table happened to be immediately adjacent to the lavish display of one Maxwell Alexander Drake. If you’re a fantasy/sci-fi fan, you may have heard of him. If you’ve ever attended Comic-Con, Gen-Con, Origins, Xanadu, Combat-Con, the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference, the San Diego Book Festival, or the Tucson Festival of Books, you may have seen him, heard him present, or had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the man. He has a pretty impressive résumé. And since I now had no reason to babysit my table, I was able to attend one of Drake’s lectures, as well as lunch with him and discuss many writing-related topics (which I’ll touch on in more detail in an upcoming post). Had I been busy with my typical table display, I might very likely have missed out on these intriguing conversations.

I’m not saying I’ve got stress management all figured out. But for as long as I can remember, optimism has been my default, and I tend to stay fairly positive – and calm – even in stressful situations.

Between the book signings and professional events that may be coming up in the next few weeks, and all the chaos of the holidays, it may do us all well to remember Bradberry’s list of behaviors and model them to the best of our ability.

Here’s to calm seas ahead!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

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