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Is it Time to Reinvent Yourself?

Updated Feb 15, 2008
Is it Time to Reinvent Yourself?

Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside of them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill. ~ Muhammad Ali

A common question posed to young people is, “What are you going to do when you grow up?” Decades ago that was a valid question. Today’s marketplace technology is changing all the rules. Other factors conspire; and before we know it, a giant segment of industry is carved out, never to be replaced.

The question, “What are you going to do when you grow up?” has become more complicated. The average teenager today may have to change careers up to four times before he or she retires. That’s one of the reasons why it is important to embrace the personal and business reinvention concept.

Remember those long-playing (LP) albums? The record industry had billions of dollars invested in the manufacturing, packaging, and marketing of 45s and LPs. Except for an occasional yard sale, they are currently hard to find. Why? Because a little thing called digital technology came along and changed everything. The folks invested in the 12-inch records had to reinvent themselves—almost overnight—with the introduction of the CD and digital technology. If you were born before 1960, you probably got a bit cranky the first time you had to purchase a CD player. But now you wouldn’t dream of going back to the old technology. Your perspective about the way music is delivered has been reinvented.

A Personal Story

How have I been challenged in this area? Glad you asked. There have been times when the seminar side of things has virtually dried up for me. I have facilitated many seminars for government agencies in the Washington, DC region. The fiscal year of the American government runs from the beginning of October to the end of September. In recent years there has been what they call a “Continuing Resolution” (CR). This is government-speak. Our public servants on Capitol Hill can’t get their act together to fund the new budget for the government. So instead of shutting the government down, they allow the government to function until the new budget is approved, but nothing new is funded for months. A real morale booster! Seminar training is the last thing on their minds.

Sometimes I will have seminar events in the pipeline for nine months ahead. I know that the family bills are taken care of for that period of time. All of a sudden the phone will ring and an apologetic voice on the other end states, “Dr. Freeman, we’re sorry, but our plans have changed. We have cancelled the convention for November. We’ll keep you in our plans for next year’s

And then, as if a conspiracy has been triggered, the phone will ring more times that same week with similar messages for three or four other high-paying events. All of a sudden, the smug smile is wiped off my face, and I have to start thinking what can be done to refill the pipeline and create more business.

It’s during these times that new ideas emerge. Mind you, when things are rolling along, I am quite comfortable. Is that true for you? I tend to take my hand off The Freeman Institute® throttle. My creativity tends to flow into my non-profit adventures. It isn’t until I am in tough times that my creative juices start fl owing back toward The Freeman Institute®. I guess there is a side benefi t to dry times—it keeps me on my toes.

Critical Incident Debriefings

Let me give you an example. One dry season hit a few years ago and I wasn’t sure what to do. One morning I received a call from a human resources executive representing a physician referral company. He asked me if I had a customized process developed for Anger Management that could be used for one of their doctors.

The human resources executive had been reviewing my web-site, and he was interested enough to call because he had seen an overview of my seminar When Strangling Someone Isn’t An Option. As we talked I realized that my psychological training was going to play a big part in developing the proposal he was requesting. The next day I cobbled together a unique ten-hour coaching process, which include two face-to face hours and eight hours (an hour per week) over the phone.  

I realized that in order for the eight hours of phone conversation to work, I would need at least two hours for both of us to earn each other’s trust and respect, face-to-face. The first two hours were a critical foundation for a successful outcome eight phone conversations later.

Here’s why. Approximately 10 percent of communication is what we say, while approximately 40 percent of communication has to  do with tone and voice inflection. Making up the other 50 percent is body language, which is impossible to capture over the phone.

Body Language

What emerged is a confidential Critical Incident Debriefing process that has now been proven effective with senior executives, other key employees, professional athletes, musicians, and entertainers. I address issues ranging from sexual harassment, rage, and racially insensitive comments to stress management, grief over the loss of a loved one, and performance enhancement in the workplace. While therapeutic dynamics are utilized, it’s not therapy. It’s coaching.

My point for bringing this up is that out of a dry spell came another valuable aspect of my business. I have worked with many executives and the success rate has been remarkable. Client confidentiality is one of the main keys to its success. Coaching in this manner fi ts my passion and helps to feed my family. Critical Incident Debriefings alone have carried us through some periods where seminars were non-existent.

Executive Concepts: Reinvention isn’t something that just happens. Be on the look-out for it. Sometimes it will come to you brilliantly disguised as failure, a downturn in business, personal criticism, or hearing someone gripe about something. Try this metaphor on for size: let’s say you’re in the lobby of a tall building, and you have the choice between taking an elevator with one cable or an elevator with three cables. Which one would you choose? I’m right there with you on the elevator with the most cables. The same principle holds true with being an entrepreneur. It is better to have several arenas of expertise producing income streams. Diversify as much as possible without losing the intensity of your focus. If one income stream dries up for a season, look for another stream to open up and become a river.

Bonus: Wise investors develop high risk, medium risk and low risk strategies to make sure that their financial portfolios do not depend too much on one type of investment. Let’s take a look at the game of baseball. Most baseball games are won with a single here and a double there. So it is with entrepreneurs. Not only is this an important consideration when we view our investment portfolio, but also think of the concept that time is money. Invest your time like making hits and scoring runs in a baseball game. The home run is exciting, stirring the imagination of anyone with a pulse. You’ve seen the historical images. The famous slugger, Babe Ruth, points to a particular part of the baseball park wall and then hits the ball over it in the general area. The place goes crazy. The hometown crowd rises to its collective feet and roars its approval. High fives are everywhere. These images transcend time. To the connoisseur of baseball, the inside-the-park homerun and the grand slam home run (four runs in at one time) are some of the more memorable sights. Just as in baseball, when it comes to business, most of us enjoy dreaming and dreaming big. But here’s a word of caution: Some people are always swinging for the fences, constantly looking for the grand slam home run deal. The continual going-for–thefence passion and perseverance is commendable. But many times they give their loved ones emotional whiplash, with all the directions they go in . . . in a decade . . . without the fi nancial rewards to show for. They always seem to be experiencing a time, money, and/or emotional energy crisis. These folks will spend an inordinate amount of time trying to hit a grand slam at the expense of the singles and the doubles. You will not win many “games” that way. I am a “swing-for-the-fence” type of guy, and I have learned this lesson the hard way. Make sure that you apportion your time well. Make sure that you spend at least 85 to 90 percent of your business-related time hitting singles, doubles, and some triples (very hard to hit). That leaves 10 to 15 percent of your business-related time to work on the BIG DEAL—the home run! Take this advice also in terms of your investment strategy. Research carefully. Make sure that most of your money is invested in low to medium risk (secure) investments with the long term return in view. Set aside a small percentage  to play with on high-risk stocks or other speculative deals. But this is the NOT the money that you are depending upon to pay next month’s bills. That’s called gambling!

Vision Rich, Cash Poor: Bring order to your life. Time is money. If you spend fifteen to twenty minutes looking for a particular item or piece of paper, think of the money that has been lost. Disorganization creates more stress, which drains a creative person of productivity. Grit your teeth and be ruthless. Throw away, or at least fi le papers, magazines, or other stuff that hasn’t been read or handled in six months. Think of every minute saved as money in your pocket. The compelling motive behind establishing order is increasing productivity and enhancing creativity.

Taken from If Nobody Loves You, Create the Demand by Joel Freeman. ©2007 by Authentic Publishing used with permission.

About the Author: Joel A. Freeman, Ph.D. Success/bussines coach to executives. Motivational consultant and mentor to pro athletes. Internationally sought ater corporate trainer, conference speaker, and workshop facilitator. Organizational culture-change specialist. Behavioral analyst. Professional counselor. Award-winning filmmaker. Motivated by curiosity. Devoted husband and father. Off key singer and extremely bad dancer.



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