Make it Great

I recently attended a seminar called Make It Great in 2008 presented by Phil Gerbyshak. Phil is a sought-after speaker. He educates by sharing tools and prompting to ask the right questions to ourselves. You might have heard some of the topics he covered in his seminar; nevertheless, it serves as a useful refresher. In addition to systematic reinforcement of common-sense strategies, there were some good take-away in shape of new thoughts and tools. I would like to share with you the learning from this seminar and my thoughts about it with a hope that it may add value.

First question Phil posed was what is the best way to start 2008? He presented that the best way to start 2008 or any year for that matter is to ask how you would like it to end. Phil elaborated to define what success means to you and recommended to write it. After writing the goals that you want to achieve by the end of the year, start taking decisions in line with your goals. Then, take actions in line with your decisions. This seems like a simple advice and possibly most heard of, however, it is also one of those initial steps that frequently falls through the cracks. Life is full of distractions so it is helpful to write down your goals, place it in a prominent place (your computer, desk, day planner or diary) and visit them at least once a month. You can put a reminder in your PDA or cell phone for a monthly rendezvous with your goals and actions.

Phil does not believe in setting New Year resolutions. According to him, just setting New Year resolutions like getting rid of extra pounds or paying off your debts do not provide the clarity and motivation to persevere. I imagine most of us would subscribe to his aforementioned thoughts. Instead of setting resolutions per se, visualizing and writing the desired achievements, setting goals in line with our vision and taking actions help keep us on the right track.

In suggesting the above, it seems that Phil has taken a leaf out of Steven Covey’s best selling book, 7 Basic Habits of Highly Effective People. The first habit that Steven Covey presents in his book is “to begin with the end in mind”. He takes a much broader view than Phil, focusing on the whole span of life instead of a year. Steven suggests to visualize our funeral and that a eulogy is being delivered. He asks us what we would like to hear in our eulogy and set that as goals of life to achieve. Break these life goals in smaller goals that could be achieved in short term (for example in a year) and focus on them with sustained actions.

Furthermore, Phil coined the term “accountability circle”. Accountability circle is a group of people who care for you. He referred (jokingly!) to replacing the circle of girl friends and boy friends with “goal-friends”. These are the people who have similar goals as you have or who care to assist you in achieving your goals. You are comfortable in sharing your goals with them and they can help in keeping a check (accountability) that you don’t fall off the track. Thus a group of trustworthy and helpful people is the accountability circle. The accountability circle could consist of your spouse, boss, best friends, children, parents and colleagues – people that you could trust with your bank account or girl friend (if you haven’t replaced her with goal-friends yet). He suggested surrounding ourselves with the accountability circle. Accountability circle could be significant to ensure that “the main thing” stays “the main thing” during the course of the year.

Phil also advised about asking, accepting and thanking for help. Most of us are uncomfortable in asking for help, especially in eastern culture. His advice is to swallow your pride and ask for help. If you hear a No for an answer, don’t take it personal and read too much in it. I think the best response is to stay positive, keep your chin up and move on. If you get a Yes, accept it with thanks. However, there is a caveat here – find out the people who are in power and ask them for help. Do not go asking for help left, right and centre. Remember that we all bring unique value to the table. Ask yourself what you contribute to the market place, to your accountability circle or to your community. Position yourself likewise and ask from a point of strength. No one has to sound cheesy in asking for help. Asking for help from some one in your accountability circle could mean taking his / her five minutes in every two weeks to touch base on your goals as a reminder to help stay on course. Is asking for five minutes in two weeks a tall order?

Lastly, Phil talked about what we could offer that will help us in return to make it great. He suggested taking personal time out to contribute to the people around us. Ask how could we reach out? We all can reach out with small gestures, kind deeds and words. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to show thoughtfulness and genuine care. He said to be aware of your surroundings, smile more, share more, serve others more and hug more. By hugs, he means thoughtfulness – actions and words that can make others happy and smile. (I thought it is prudent to clarify this here :-))

It is difficult to dwell on any self development topic with out referring to Steven Covey – the contemporary guru on the subject. Steven also suggests extending hugs, lots of hugs to the people around us. The idea is to make your world and the world of people around you happy.

I have presented major topics Phil talked about in his seminar. Some of them served as refresher and few were new, at least to me. Let me know your thoughts on it. Also feel free to add your point of view on how we all can make it great in 2008 and beyond.



About Fazal Siddiqi
Fazal Siddiqi Writes on current marketing, branding, communications, diversity and socio-economic opportunities & challenges. He lives in Canada and works for OPAL Marketing Group.

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