What Unique Value Can You Offer?

Harnessing your uniqueness for success

Drilling down to your unique value offering can be daunting. It may feel like we may close the door to other opportunities. Why? Delivering that unique offering requires a high level of dedication.

Unique Value You Offer

I was struggling with getting business leads for my coaching and consulting business. In frustration, I watched as my peers continued to grow their businesses day after day. It wasn’t that they had a head start or unfair advantage. We had more or less similar training and work experience. Yet I was struggling.

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Top 3 Reasons Why Your Story Matters

Stories are powerful catalysts to life

It’s amazing how stories have the power to revise the course of our lives. But why do stories captivate our minds, leave our hearts pounding and enchant euphoric emotions?

Our perceptions and actions are influenced by the stories we live. And even more profound and longer-lasting are the stories we chose to share.

It is because narratives that happen at a personal level influence my potential to lead. They are powerful catalysts to my ability to be the change that I want to see in others. Stories act as a diving board to a deeper meaning of my life or my launch pad to the greatness I am meant to live.

One of my annual goals is to keep my fitness and health in check. I even purchased a mountain bike. However, I kept on telling myself that I need to ease into basic fitness first before I could begin my riding program. Six months later, I hadn’t made any progress! All because I made excuses of lack of time to justify my laziness. These excuses became the story of my life.

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Top 3 Attitudes To Win At Leadership

Why leading isn’t as complicated as we think it is

There it was glowing in splendor. It was like gazing at a sailing ship riding from a starry, jet-black night sky!

Top 3 Attitudes To Win At Leadership

This was my first reaction when I saw the Burj Al Arab, a luxury hotel in Dubai. It’s sail-like silhouette was like nothing I had seen on any building before.

Access to the hotel was over a private, 280-meter long curving bridge. However, there is a dedicated helicopter transfer service if that’s your fancy.

Thinking back to my brief experience on the 27th Floor, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What kept this hotel repeatedly voted the world’s most luxurious hotel?” I believe it was the action of the people who work in the background.

It made me think of how easy it is to miss out on leadership opportunities. The vanity of position, possessions or power can obscured our focus.

We cling to hierarchies because our place in a hierarchy is, rightly or wrongly, a major indicator of our social worth.” ~ Harold J. Leavitt

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Why Your Worst Doesn’t Define You

In pursuit of the third leg to celebrate Fatherhood...

It cost Socrates his life when he said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” But it still got me thinking about a niggling issue I had to deal with.

Bruise not Tatoo

I lost my sleep at 3:00 AM. Actually, this whole week has been restless and sleepless. My attempt at lulling myself back to sleep frustrates me the more. I get out of bed, brew a pot of coffee, and try to write. Nothing happens!

It feels like my thoughts are on remote control. For an hour, I struggle to focus. Finally, out of desperation, I turn to watch a TED Talk. And it hits me like a run-away train! In it, I finally found a missing piece in my puzzle of life.

It occurred to me that Father’s Day has been heavy on my mind. Actually, I have sub-consciously thought of this day every year for the last 20 years. But I have locked it deep in my mind in a bid to forget it.

All along, three questions have plagued me: How does it feel to have a father? What does it mean to have a father… Really? How do I define father?

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Even Lone Ranger Had Tonto!

Do you want to grow your influence as a leader? You have to actively be accountable! It is impossible to grow as a leader without accountability.

The Lone Ranger was a fictional former Texas Ranger who fought outlaws. However, he always worked with Tonto, an Indian who nursed him back to health after an outlaw ambush. But that relationship apparently began far back. Apparently, Tonto had recognized the Lone Ranger as the man who had saved him when they both were children.

Thus begins a bond governed by one looking out for the other.

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3 Things To Do When Leading in Conflict

It had been a cold Sunday morning. After our church service, we trooped to our favorite coffee shop for our regular Sunday breakfast. Our kids played after they’d stuffed their bellies while my wife and I had some time to ourselves and discussed some ideas for our business.

As we were driving home, excited about the prospect of those ideas, my wife interjected. “Why don’t we pick up some vegetables and fruits at the green grocer’s?” She asked. However, I was looking forward to heading straight home and get started on building our future.

“What harm does delaying it for an hour make,” I thought to myself. And off we went.

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Mothers are Leader Number 1

Happy Mother's Day

What does your mother mean to you?

This morning, I thought of a special type of leader. They go about their day with diligence and sometimes unnoticed. They lead from the heart, are uncompromising and loving.

Mothers are leaders beyond belief [TweetMe]. They don’t just bring us into the world, they are there when we scraped our knees, calmed us when ‘monsters’ attacked us at night, and saved the day when our stomachs threatened to ‘kill’ us. Mothers are PRESENT as they are a GIFT.

Today, I want to honor two special mothers in my life. Her Greatness Mum (my mother) and Her Highness Harriette (my best friend and the mother to our children). You are great leaders that evoke emotions and memories in us that are out of this world [TweetMe].

From our mothers, we have come to appreciate many lessons to last us a long time to come. And as someone once said, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. So here goes…

Marmalade – Delectable, carefully prepared, and enjoyable. You care

Oatmeal – Filled with wholesome goodness. A healthy body, mind and home…

Tortilla – Our tastebuds do a crazy dance. We’re in colourful warmth

Honey – Your sweetness is unmatched. We treasure your love for us…

Eggs – A comfort for all times, good or bad. We love your magical presence

Ribs – Sticky and finger-licking good! You’re consistent even when we yo-yo…

Take the time to thank your mother. As you do so, I urge you to ponder on the following. What will it take for you to show more care, be wholesome in your approach, warm when engaging others, love more, be present for your people, and finally, consistent in your leadership.

To all mothers out there, we love you more than anything else in the whole wide world… Happy Mother’s Day! [TweetMe]

[photo credit: Carolyn_Sewell via photopin cc]

A Leader’s Legacy

Anna“With great sadness in my heart I must tell you that…” was the opening of an email message I received last evening informing me of the closing of another life. I was shocked, confused and all that my quivering lips could utter was a pained “No!” It was a legacy refined, one that began in life and shall forever be immortalized.

I still remember these words that I wrote to Anna back in December 2011. “You are what I call the Swedish Iron Lady. Your attention to detail is unrivaled! I always knew that you would spot any full stop I omitted in my work. You provided an opportunity for me to prove my worth. You mentored me, trained me, and above all believed that I could become a better communication specialist. In you, a platform existed from which I could launch myself into the future. Thank you Anna for giving me the opportunity.”

She had a beautiful smile that let me know all things would work out even in the most bleak of situations. She was gentle as she was tough is her expectations of me. Resilience was her hallmark and she would not stop until she was sure that I was close to my potential. Her inspiration allowed me to bridge the gap and reach out to that potential.

As I went through all these emotions, it dawned on me what a great leader she was to me. To date, every work I do has her imprint on it. I can’t stand bad writing. My temples pulsate every time I receive a poorly punctuated email message. I think structure any time I hear ‘content’.

Anna leaves behind a few lessons for all of us aspiring to be better leaders.

Smile often: It communicates warmth and the humanity in you [TweetMe]. It is amazing the effect a smile has on someone else. It breaks down barriers and helps unlock the magical door into their hearts. A smile shows a healthy dose of optimism that all will be well, regardless.

“We become what we think about most of the time, and that’s the strangest secret.” ~Earl Nightingale.

Gentle is okay: Leaders do not have to lead by fear [TweetMe]. Temper your firmness with love. You are leading people, not robots. In your toughness, your followers need to remember that you have their best interests at heart. It helps to build trust between you and your followers. That will always win the day.

“The glue that holds all relationships together – including the relationship between; the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” ~ Brian Tracy

Inspiration is possible: I don’t need to be a great orator to inspire others towards their potential [TweetMe]. All I need to do is to figure out their potential and partner with them to realize their innate ability. Once we are both on the same page, difficult situations become learning opportunities.

“A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay for the price the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.” ~ Vince Lombardi.

Seize the moment: The last time Anna was in Kenya, she invited us to join her and her daughter on a holiday. It was an impromptu proposition. My silly excuse was that we could not afford the trip. I have learned a heavy lesson, and I will now invest more in meaningful relationships. That is what legacies are made of [TweetMe].

Anna, you lead, cared and built. You are gone in body but your legacy lives on in many of us. Your legacy is built not on what you are, but who you are, and the hearts you touched.

Are you reaching out to people’s hearts?

 photo credit: Paul Mundy

Crush Leadership Blind Spots

medium_3855181622(Guest Post by Canute Waswa)

Succulent, tangy and sweet, loquat fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. This unique fruit originated in the mountainous, evergreen rain forests of southeastern China, from where it spread all across the world, including Kenya.

Growing up in Kibera, a low-income suburb of Nairobi Kenya, you can bet that many a fight broke out among young boys over this yellow treasure. To date, my brothers and I can barely stifle our laughs whenever we are having a good time. We have adopted our childhood saying kukula luguu (eating loquats) and given it a literal translation to English. It has become our colloquialism to express that “we’re having a great time”.

That is why the use of the same tree as a metaphor in Leadership Termites made my ears ‘twitch’. How could those termites dare take on my favorite fruit tree? But truth is that they just did it! They made me think hard about how I can improve my leadership ability.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” ~Mark Twain

Vulnerability: In order to stay on top of my leadership mettle, I need to continually think of how to maintain trust with my team [TweetMe]. This can only be done through being vulnerable to them. You see, when I am at my highest point, coasting will only bring me down.

Leadership, like the loquat tree with the green bark, is one of the truest ideals of the dream world. It is a joy and a privilege not to be taken for granted. Yet many have it and become satiated and that may lead to internal death. Without life under the bark that drove them to productivity. Your followers are part of your core. Your relationship with them can only be maintained if you remain vulnerable to your team. Past accomplishment guarantees nothing about future success. Just ask the loquat tree.

Positive conflict: Newton’s first law of physics states that it is generally the change that requires energy and effort, not the continuation of something we are used to. The best way I keep an eye on the overall pace of change is to engage in positive conflict [TweetMe]. I do not necessarily match it, but I aim to understand the implications of my own choices.

There is a need for feedback for both individuals and organizations. We need to adapt to feedback from our teams if we want to avoid becoming redundant. Positive conflict would have enabled the loquat tree to understand that it needed fumigation. By knowing what needs to change, we by definition also know what to keep. That is why Muhammad Ali called feedback ‘the breakfast of champions’. World champions also need feedback.

Attention to Results: As a leader, I often keep my eye on the big picture, and I should. But I must never forget to focus on the little things [TweetMe]. This could be taking the time to talk with a co-worker about their kids or giving a new employee constructive feedback. Ignoring them can lead to big problems.

The modern senior executive tends to be a strategic thinker, one who is effective at delegating tasks to more detail-oriented team members and rallying those team members towards a common objective. He or she is the face of a corporation’s management. However, the leader is judged on the results of their influence. My mother loved to remind us to ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. Take a co-worker to lunch. It’s amazing what you might learn from them.

And by busting these little, feisty termites, you can create a big thing… progressive and continuous success.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Take action: How will you blast those termites that eat up your leadership?

Canute Wasawa is the Founder and Managing Director of Outdoors Africa. He has over 9 years of work experience and is a member of the Association of Experiential Educators, a joint venture of the Association of Experiential Educators and the University of Dalhousie-Canada. Waswa has worked extensively in the area of Management Psychology, senior executive selection, and held the position of Organizational Development Specialist for several corporate entities.
photo credit: nimishgogri via photopin cc

Design With the End in Mind

DiscoverSweetSpot

Guest Post By Scott M. Fay

Author, Discover Your Sweet Spot

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What do you plan on doing with the new space?” I inquired with genuine interest.

You’d be surprised how few of my clients know the answer to this question.

“I’m not sure I know what you’re asking,” he responded back with equal sincerity. “I thought you were just going to pick out some good- looking trees and shrubs for us. You’re the professional. Isn’t that why we hired your team?”

“I’m definitely up for advising you along the way,” I said reassuringly. “But trust me, designing with the end in mind will help tremendously. Think about it this way: as you imagine the new space we’re designing for you, what do you see yourself doing in that space? Are you hosting garden parties with friends? Do you see yourself sitting next to a small waterfall feature in the evenings while reading your favorite novel? Or maybe you picture your grandkids playing Frisbee with you in the backyard on a plush green lawn?”

A warm smile slowly spread across my client’s face.

“OK, I get it now. You know, come to think of it, I can see myself doing all three!” he chuckled.

“One thing though, Scott,” he shot back.

“Sure, what is it?” By this time, I anticipated a little humor. “Before I give you my final answer, I just have to ask…do you have any additional options besides those three? After all, I don’t want to limit any fun.”

At this comment, we both started laughing. “Now you’re getting it,” I grinned.

I start every job the same way, helping my clients design with the end in mind. It’s always better to talk through their desires in the design phase than to work them out in the build phase. Designing with the end in mind saves them money and it saves me time. Although my landscaping team is always happy to help, and we can do almost anything, most clients don’t have an endless supply of money. A little intentional thinking on the front end saves everyone time and money on the back end.

But this principle reaches far beyond waterfalls and flowerbeds. In fact, it touches every single one of us. Although we might not be able to literally design the environment around us, we’re each given the responsibility to design a conducive environment within us.

Are YOU designing your environment with the end in mind?

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Excerpt taken from Discover Your Sweet Spot by Scott M. Fay, published by Morgan James Publishing, available here via Amazon. More info:  www.thesweetspotsystem.com .