‘A true Ninja uses his surroundings to survive.’
That’s basic Ninja code.
MY QUESTION IS: What are you using to help your business survive? What are you using to help your creativity survive? And what are you using to help your SELF survive?
I’m a Leverager. I like to use things. I like to kill two stones with one bird whenever possible. Today, I want to share a list of seventeen things that I’m currently using to help my business, my creativity and my SELF survive this horrible economy.
As you peruse this list, I challenge you to think about what tools YOU use, what tools you COULD be using, and what tools need a good sharpening in 2009.
1. Use baitless hooks. Edison did. Literally. No bait. He was so focused on the fishing process that he could care less if he reeled in a twenty pounder. This is the way creativity should be: Present. In the moment. Detached from outcomes. No expectations. After all, when you care the least, you do the best. When the stakes are lower, the results are higher.Are you too outcome-focused?
2. Use concrete illustrations. Not vague platitudes. Not old stories or sayings. And certainly not bullshite statistics you (1) just made up or (2) swiped from Wikipedia. You wanna persuade somebody? Try using experiences. Truths. Stuff that actually happened to you. Concreteness sells. How specific are YOUR examples?
3. Use cross-industrial processes. So what if you know nothing about their industry. Become an expert on certain processes and philosophies and practices that apply to anyone, anytime, anywhere. This doesn’t mean you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. But having a niche TOPIC vs. a nice MARKET will open up your client base to endless possibilities. What are you known for knowing?
4. Use every challenge. As an opportunity for growth. As a vehicle for realization. As a teachable encounter. As a mentoring moment. As a way to get to know yourself better. As a way to grow stronger, smarter, cooler, funnier and wiser. As a way to chip away at the stone inside of which lives a breathtaking sculpture that’s been there the whole time. What are you turning your problems into?
5. Use generative language. That means asking, not telling. That means throwing in a question here and there, and then shutting up. It’s all part of the ‘midwifing’ process of communication, in which you enable people to give birth to their own understanding. Does your language have more periods than question marks?
6. Use informational follow-up. ‘Have you gotten a chance to check out my proposal?’ ‘Has anything changed since we last spoke?’ ‘Did you have any more questions from our discussion?’ Blech. Terrible. No value. Next time try, ‘I used your company as an example in my blog post today! Check it out here…’ Are you following up with value or vomit?
7. Use inner chaos. Channel it. Alchemize it. Use your creativity and passion and love and enthusiasm to transform inner wackiness into outer awesomeness. Meditation works. Yoga works. Writing works. Knitting works. Playing music works. What works for YOU?
8. Use judgment-free language. Attachment to words reduces the reality of something. And, when you use words, you label. When you label, you judge. When you judge, you react. When you react, you’re unconscious. And being unconscious is unhealthy. Are you ‘should-ing’ all over people?
9. Use momentary accidents. What do chocolate chip cookies, Coca-Cola, herbal tea, waffle cones, maple syrup, penicillin, bars of soap, popsicles and paper towels have in common? All were famous inventions discovered by accident. Sweet. SO: Accident, schmaccident. It’s a lesson. An opportunity. A creative breakthrough waiting to happen. What is another use for this failure?
10. Use real language. ‘Real’ meaning, ‘fifth-graders could understand it.’ Sure, using big words and fancy verbiage might make you sound smart. But it also might make other people feel dumb. It also might complicate your message. And that’s no good. How many people have no idea what the hell you’re talking about?
11. Use rules mindfully. The Dali Lama once said, ‘Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.’ That’s good advice. Personally, I would also add in, ‘If you can’t Google the rule, it doesn’t exist.’ How many rules did you break yesterday?
12. Use silence strategically. Especially in sales conversations. He who speaks next, loses. He who blinks next, loses. State your fee confidently and shut up. A properly placed pause is one of the most powerful tools in interpersonal communication. Are you shutting up enough?
13. Use strength quietly. Like Tony Dungee from the Indianapolis Colts. Like Rosa Parks from the Civil Rights Movement. Both wrote books called, ‘Quiet Strength.’ Both know that a strong falcon hides its claws. Both know that powerful people don’t scream. Both know that the loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room. Are you a falcon or a lion?
14. Use today’s opportunities. And if you seriously think there AREN’T any opportunities today, you haven’t been paying attention. They’re everywhere. Opportunity knocks all day, all the time, all over the neighborhood. Your challenge is to listen, answer, and then leverage them whenever they show up. How are you killing two stones with one bird?
15. Use visible reminders. Whiteboards. Post-It notes. Posters. Notes to yourself. Whatever works. Any new behavior you want to change, any new goal you seek to accomplish, make sure you can SEE the reminder. Daily. How are you punching yourself in the face?
16. Use your life. Usefulness IS worship. Don’t wait until you’re dead to leave a legacy; start today. Start now. Because if you LIVE your legacy every day, LEAVING a legacy will naturally happen. But only if you validate your existence on a daily basis. How are you using your life?
17. Use your words. To touch, to inspire, to challenge. To make people think, to make people pause, to make people wake up. Your language is one the most powerful tools in your leadership arsenal. Perfect it daily. What did you write today?