Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Moving day for the blog

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Just wanted to let everyone know that the blog has moved to a new server and to share a lesson I learned along the way.

The blog is now located at stevedevane.com. That address was previously forwarded to this blog, but is now located on a separate server. Please adjust your bookmark or feed reader accordingly.

The move was not as simple or as easy as I’d hoped. To be honest, it was kind of intimidating. Numerous times along the way, I’d read the instructions for what to do and say to myself, “Huh?”

Several times, I wanted to just stop and forget it. Have you ever been trying to accomplish something and a little voice keeps telling you that you can’t do it, that you ought to just give up? That’s what happened to me over and over.

But I knew that moving the blog made good business sense. It was something I needed to do.

So I stuck with it. It wasn’t simple. It wasn’t easy. But I got it done.

The move in that way symbolized my recent business life. There have been times when a part of me wanted to give up, but I keep going, knowing that it’s the right thing to do.

In due time, I’ll be rewarded.

Steve DeVane

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Winning the race, one goal at a time

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The other day, I was reading a story about NASCAR driver Kyle Busch. He’s not my favorite, but I admire his will to win.

In the story, Busch talked about what motivates him.

“What I use is the car in front of me. If there's a car in front of me, I'm going to chase him,” Busch said. “... I want to pass that guy. If I'm the leader, there's another car in front of me, he's going a lap down. The more guys you get a lap down, the more you don't have to deal with at the end of the day. There's always some motivation to go forward. There's always somebody ahead of you that you can pass that's going to mean something. Even if you are the leader.”

I thought that was a pretty good motivational strategy for anyone in business. It’s good to set goals. I’m a big believer in the importance of having lofty aspirations.

Sometimes, however, those high expectations aren’t enough. If that’s all we have, making progress might seem like we’re not accomplishing anything.

So, in addition to high, long-term goals, we have to stay focused on what’s going on now. Like Busch focuses on the car in front of him, concentrate on being the best at whatever you’re doing.

I once heard a speech by an Air Force officer who had reached the rank of general. In his comments he said his goal was always to be the best officer he could be, no matter what his rank.

Likewise, we should focus on being the best business people we can be. If we do this, we’ll reach our highest goals.

Steve DeVane

Friday, April 10, 2009

Give yourself a hand

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The other day, my wife was talking to our daughter about how her day at school went. My daughter talked about an exercise one of her teachers had the students do that day.

The teacher asked the students to join their two hands together, interlocking their fingers. She then told the students to look at their fingers to see which of their thumbs were in front.

When people put their hands together like that, they almost always do it the same way, the teacher said. She asked the students to try to do it the other way to see how it felt.

I put my hands together several times. Sure enough, they went together the same way every time. I had to make an effort to bring my hands together the other way. But after a while it started feeling comfortable either way.

Later, I thought of how similar the exercise was to many things in life and business. Often we are faced with issues that call for us to readjust the way we think or the way we do things.

Sometimes such small changes will feel uncomfortable at first, but will eventually feel fine. When that happens we need to be flexible. Our lives and businesses will benefit.

Steve DeVane

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A runaway conversation that gets you nowhere

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One evening last weekend, my daughter wanted me to go jogging along the beach with her. I had taken a long walk with my wife and son that morning, but I was still up for a nice relaxing run.

Unfortunately, a storm came up before we started. So we decided to jog the next morning instead.

Bright and early, we headed out on the sand. It was beautiful.

We had barely got started when I told my daughter we should go till we were even with the next beach house and turn around. I thought she knew I was joking.

A couple of minutes later, she said we could run about three more houses down and turn around. I knew she hadn’t been feeling very well, so I figured she wasn’t up for much of a run that morning.

I said, “OK,” and a couple of minutes later we turned around to head back.

Later, back in the room, she said something about not running very far. I said that we could have run further.

Eventually, I figured out that she thought I was serious about stopping shortly after we started.

It made me realize the value of clear communication. I should have let her know I was joking. I didn’t. As a result and pleasant Sunday morning run along the beach was cut short.

Communication is key in business and in life.

In business, relationships are vital. Miscommunication or too little communication can make it difficult to make those connections.

Here’s a few tips to help you communicate:

Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If your business partner makes a statement that you don’t understand, see if he or she will explain it further.

Listen attentively. When the other person is talking, pay attention to what they’re saying. Don’t make the mistake of thinking about what you’re going to say next while they’re still talking.

Talk it out. When a disagreement arises, discuss it until you agree or at least reach a point satisfactory to you both.

Notice more than just words. Some people will say they’re OK with something when they really aren’t. They’re body language will let you know they’re true feelings. Better to talk about their issues sooner than later.

Be flexible. Realize things won’t always go your way. Knowing that up front will improve your communication and your relationships.

Steve DeVane