Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolution VS. Commitment

As 2014 comes to a close we're are looking back at the last 12 months. What was this year about? What did you say you would do? What did you actually do? What were your successes? And what were your biggest challenges?

It's this day of the year that millions of people decide to create "resolutions" for the next 365 days/52 weeks/12 months. Quite honestly I have never been into resolutions, they kind of seem like bullshit to me. The actual definition of a resolution is not what everybody thinks it is:

A res-o-lu-tion  noun: The act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.: the act of resolving something: an answer or solution to something:

Our version of a New Year's resolution is a secular tradition in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self improvement that they will carry out for that year.

The problem I have found with creating these "promises" is that we often end up disappointed in ourselves when we cannot keep them. 365 days is a very long time to commit to a drastic change you made overnight. Human change does not come from a promise we make to ourselves because we think we should be better than we were yesterday; Human change comes from the guts of creating a commitment, and a vision to carry it through.

If we actually were making a resolution, we would be in the act of resolving the problem that stands in the way of being who or where we want to be. Be in ownership of creating the steps between who you currently are and being a healthy person, being someone who makes more money, being someone who spends more time with family, being someone who does everything/anything it takes to have the life you want.

So if you are in fact going to be making resolutions you are passionate about, ask yourself: are they "it would be nice if..." promises, or actual commitments? Is 2015 your year? How committed are you making that happen? How do you know if you are committed?

Your are committed if:

  • You have a clear vision of what it is you want
  • You are ready to do hard work in order to get what you want
  • Obstacles along the way do not stop you, they prompt you to find another road on the map
  • When you get stuck, you find support
  • You are willing to be vulnerable (yes you may actually cry a little bit)
  • You are willing to take risks
  • You are willing to be uncomfortable, be judged, and...some people may not like this... committed to you.
  • You are ready to be fully responsible for making it happen - No one else, YOU
  • You understand that you may fall on your face, and that is okay
  • You are okay with not doing it perfectly, because the only way to do it with perfection is to do it shitty first...
  • You may not know how, but you're committed to having it happen anyway, no matter what

You are not committed if:

  • You have no vision as to where you see yourself
  • You make a promise because someone else thinks you should, not because it's important to you
  • The first moment it gets hard you give up
  • You give yourself back doors like saying "I'll try", "I'll see what happens ", "I hope"
  • You base your success on what others do or don't do, say or don't say
  • You allow time, money, knowledge, experience, (fill in the blank), be your excuse as to why you cannot stay committed
  • You are unwilling to be vulnerable, be wrong, fall on your face, look bad, be judged, or do the work
  • You resist making a plan that will guide you
  • You are not willing to find another way if the plan you made doesn't work out
  • Reading this makes you feel guilty rather than motivated

In the end my friends, hard work, drive, and seeking support is the formula to defeating what you think is overwhelming and impossible. Words must be followed with integrity and action because you are worth it. Stay committed, and keep company with those who will push you, and be honest with you. Things may take longer than you want them to but hold your seat and stay focused on the goal, and you will get there...don't give up!

I and The Body of Artists salutes you, wishes you prosperity, passion, and commitment in 2015. We will be here creating some crazy shit in this upcoming year! I hope you will join us

Please enjoy some of the things that inspired me during 2014:

(Sargy Mann's paintings regularly selling for upward of £50,000 (US$80,000).

(make society's stigma, into society's desire)

(you might cry, but will have no excuse after this one)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Feedback: Are you brave enough to ask for it, and smart enough to demand it?

Most human beings have a natural positive reaction to praise and acknowledgement, and a resistance or fear toward constructive criticism. Often people are disappointed when they receive none of the first, but are more than happy to receive none of the second. Recently I have been both the receiver and giver of "feedback", and as much as I am utterly uncomfortable in both scenarios, I have built a muscle over the years allowing me to put both experiences in the category of "essential growth process".

As entrepreneurs we have an ethical and social responsibility to provide excellent customer service. It is essential to our brand elevation and presence. Further, it is what we deserve and expect for ourselves.So, why as a human being would you not want to provide that for others?

When you are offering a service or are working on a team, your performance, efforts, and ways of being are the anchor points to an excellent experience by others.This will dictate more business down the line as people will hire you again, and refer others to work with you. If you promise to deliver something, you are responsible for meeting your word about that product...not just by basic standards, but standards of excellence. If for some reason you are unable to deliver something in excellence, be prepared to receive feedback about it.

Feedback does not make you right or wrong, nor is it good or bad - feedback is information. Feedback is a mirror image of what you are putting out so you can compare it to your original intention and commitment to what you said you would deliver. True integrity even values what you didn't say you would put out, but what should be expected as quality customer service. Constructive criticism is a blessing for you, and a tool with which to learn, adjust, and redeliver your work at its optimal potential.

So why, when we are presented with this awesome opportunity for feedback, do we often react in anger, rejection, fear, defensiveness, projection, embarrassment, and negativity? Because somewhere in our minds at some point in our lives we started to develop our "ego". Ego has a lot of negative connotations attached to it it, but is defined as: the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment...What the hell does that mean? Ego is about self assurance balanced with social acceptance, and how they feed off one another. The panic mode we go into when someone criticizes us is primed from our wanting to feel we did our best, and if we perhaps did not, protect the idea that we did, so we look good. We are often embarrassed and thrown back in the face of criticism, and when we are not aware we are not delivering the best experience, we automatically want to defend our honor. Because of our egos we thrive on praise because we see it as "good", and we reject criticism because we see it as "bad". But let me ask you this: Would you prefer for people to blow smoke up your ass, allow you to produce or behave as mediocre, so you can feel "good", OR would you be willing to risk feeling a little uncomfortable, and take responsibility for what you could deliver so you can be extraordinary? I will assert the latter.

While producing and developing programs and workshops, I will always question my participants. How was your experience? What did you love? Did we meet your expectations? What was missing for you? What would you like to see more of? Would you refer us to others? The answers may not be pleasant - though I hope they will be - but I am looking for common concerns and grievances that need to be adjusted. I try my best to remember to keep my emotions out of it and look for golden nuggets to use and change for the better. This absolutely goes for personal relationships too; my closest friends are people who support me by lovingly acknowledging my efforts, but also aren't afraid to tell me when I fuck up.

Further, don't get chickenshit around giving feedback either. You cannot complain about anything unless you do or say something about it. If you are offered a service, and it is not delivered in excellence, how will they know unless you tell them? You deserve to get a top notch experience, whether you are paying a lot or nothing at all. But if you are putting money down, and not being responsible about being vocal of exactly what you want and expect, then do not complain when you don't get it. Nothing makes my eyes roll more than incessant bitching with no ownership of how you could have made it different. Some people were not educated with the same ethics as you, but you learn over time with referrals and experience who to work with and who not to.

So how can you use feedback to elevate your business, your customer experience, and even your personal relationships?

  • Remember feedback is not good or bad, right or wrong. It is simply information.
  • The best businesses (and people), are not afraid of receiving feedback. In fact, they look for it, and base the elevation of their business on it.
  • When receiving and giving feedback, try to extract the emotion out of it. A dissatisfied customer will have an emotional reaction. However, if you can read between the lines and see what it is that actually needs an adjustment, putting your ego aside, then you have an amazing tool at your disposal.
  • Be responsible about how you give feedback. If your intention is just to bitch and make a point, don't bother. Your biggest possibility to make a difference will be lost in translation if your behavior sucks. Give feedback with the intention of caring that the other person or business will grow because of it.
  • Be responsible about how you receive feedback. If your emotions begin to cause a reaction that initiates defensiveness, stop, count to 10, take deep breaths and say to yourself, what can I learn from this? How can this inspire me to create a better experience?
  • Have gratitude for your feedback, even if it stings like a bitch. Down the line you may realize that this was one of the best things that could have happened for you.
  • Take what you need and leave behind the rest. Not every bit of feedback you receive has pertinence.
  • You will know deep in your heart which feedback is most important.

In the end we all need to be self-cleaning ovens. Sometimes we can only count on ourselves to allow for the biggest growth. Remember what customer service is for you. If you wouldn't settle for anything less than the optimum experience when purchasing a service, a product, or a relationship with another human being, then you absolutely must hold yourself to the same standards.