5 ways to use recap notes to drastically improve training accountability

Recap Notes - THiNK Training

If you’re reading this blog, then you’re probably no stranger to training sessions.  You probably even facilitate your fair share of them too.

That means you know how frustrating it can be to check in with your participants only to find they can’t remember what they learned, aren’t able to apply the lessons they did remember, and haven’t actually made any changes in their behavior.

Results like this can make you doubt your skills, your materials, your methods and even yourself.

We get it.

We’ve spent countless hours facilitating team conversations towards creating cohesive and productive environments.

And after all this time, we’ve learned that, whether we’re focused on strategic planning, utilizing the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, improving team performance, or some other area of team and leadership development, there are fundamentals that apply to any type of training you might facilitate.

One key to rule them all

Key - Recap Notes - THiNK Training
Uncover the key to building accountability into your training sessions

We’ve also been challenged to help our participants achieve the best results.  And we’ve found that there is one key area that helps us bring out the best growth and progress after the training session is finished. It is one of our key tools to make sure our training sessions materials stick with each person.

At TH!NK we’ve engineered our meetings specifically for team members to have meaningful conversations and make commitments of action.  We don’t just focus on the training, but we pay equal attention to how that training is used and practiced.

We really see our job as three-fold:

  1. Facilitate the conversation
  2. Document the process and commitments
  3. Assist the team to remain accountable to their commitments

But how do we do this?  And specifically, how do we make sure everyone is able to follow through once the session is a thing of the past?

Recap notes for the win

Notebook and Pen - Recap Notes - THiNK Training
Notes worth taking notes over

One key tool is to develop recap notes that are meaningful and easy to take action on.

It has taken us a few years to find the best way to provide meaningful recap notes to our teams.  And today we’re sharing our secret recipe for actionable recap notes.

We’re going to give you five specific keys to create recap notes that will drastically improve your team’s ability to not only remember the information from your training session, but to apply it and integrate it into their behaviors and actions.

Plus, we’re going to share with you one super helpful technique you can use when you might be off your game and need to dig a bit deeper for information.

Ready to raise your recap note skills to the next level?

Let’s go!

Key #1: Use your agenda as your structure

Agenda Calendar - Recap Notes - THiNK Training
It’s time to plan for the plan beyond the plan

Unless you’re totally winging it, your team was probably following an agenda during your session.  (And if you are winging it, then we really need to talk.  Contact us to discuss how to improve your training skills right now!)

The agenda from your session is actually the best structure to use when creating your notes.  It helps in a couple key ways:

First, knowing that your agenda is the foundation of your notes is a great way to ensure that you’re creating an agenda with meaning and not just trying to fill time with activities.

Second, since the agenda is in the same order of your training, when it is used for making notes they will also follow the same sequence and make them easier to follow and remember.  Especially for the participants since it will reinforce the order of training when they review the notes.

Pro Tip: Always include attendee names on your meeting notes. It is important to be able to look back and know who was at the meeting.

Key #2: Capture the key points, not every word said in the meeting

Mile post on highway - Recap Notes - THiNK Training
What are the key milestones along the journey of your training?

Meeting notes are not like class notes that you took in school.

They key here is to capture the main points from the day that should be remembered and reflected on by the participants.  Rather than cover every step of the way it is more like you’re providing mile markers along the route so they can remember important parts of the training journey.

For an item to be included in our notes, it needs to fall into one of four categories:

  1. New idea: A new idea is simply a topic that someone put out to the group for discussion.
  2. Important conversation topic: This could be an agenda item or something that came up in the meeting that seemed to inspire passion for the group.
  3. Action item: Something that the group needs to move forward after the meeting.
  4. Commitment: Anything that a person or the group has committed to doing, saying or being as a result of the meeting.

Key #3: Use photos from the meeting

Photographs - Recap Notes - THiNK Training
Photos bring emotional context to the written word

It’s a given that your will transcribe your notes and make them nice, neat and presentable for the participants.  But it is also important to take pictures from the training.  Snap snots of all your flip-chart documents, people working, whiteboard notes, etc.  Then include these images next to the transcribed notes

Why do we do this?

Because it creates an emotional connection to the words on the page.  Words types on a page have a tendency to distance the reader from the material; they forget that this was their information.

But when you show them an image of the flip-chart they created, they better remember the information, because it connects them to the moment of creation and understanding.

Key #4: Be specific

Make sure you are specific in your notes. The rule of thumb is to document the 4 W’s:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Why

When might you need to be specific? A great time to do this is when taking a vote.

Taking a vote - Recap Notes - THiNK Training
Raise your hand if you want to improve your training skills!

Here is an example of what this might look like:

  • 3 people voted yes (Jon, Sarah, Cindy)
  • 2 people voted maybe (Malcolm, Trey)
  • 7 people said no (Ted, Hudson, Cindy, Eileen, Cybil, Kekoa, Quincy)

As a result of this vote, the group decided not to move forward on this project because it did not align with the 2018 goals for the team. It was a good idea and one that should be revisited in 2019. This will be added to the strategic planning list of ideas for 2019.

As you can see, it captures the details of the vote and provides more context than just saying “The group decided to not to more forward”.  It brings people back to the moment of decision and the reason those decisions were made.

Key #5: Get a commitment from everyone at the end of the meeting

It is critical that you end each meeting by asking people to make personal commitments based on the topic of the meeting.

Remember to document this information with as much specificity as possible, just like we said in key #4.

Here is an example of a well-documented set of commitments made by one team:

MemberWhat I will do to build trust…
AlexMy personal action item to be more genuine with the team. I will acknowledge and appreciate the contributions that other team members may have done to help me/my department.  Currently, I may do this on-on-one but I think acknowledgement publicly is also often time warranted.
AshleyI will be more honest and direct in my interactions with team members. Currently, I am more guarded and often reserve my opinions out of concern with rocking the boat.
ConnorMy commitment is to get to know each member of the team on a deeper level, both personally and professionally.  For me, knowing someone is the key to trusting someone.  This is especially important for me as I am new to the team. I will do this by schedule scheduling a lunch meeting with each person before our next meeting.
CindyMy commitment is to get better at continuing the discussion even when I have a negative reaction to someone’s word choice or body language. Instead of retreating, I will be curious and ask more questions.
EmmitI commit to talking to team members in person rather than sending them emails. I tend to rely on emails because I think it is quicker, but now I see how important to build by having face-to-face meetings, too.

Pop quiz, hot shot.

Okay, so we’ve covered a lot.  So let’s make sure that this information is sticking with you too.

Based on what you learned so far, what do you see is wrong with the following list of post-training commitments that I facilitated for a training session?

Individual Commitments to Engage in Conflict

  • Be less quiet
  • Pick up the subtleties
  • Practice active listening
  • Continue to speak up
  • Have more confidence in team
  • Enjoy healthy conflicts more
  • Speak up more
  • Not to feel attacked when receiving comments but to question why
  • Practice opening up more instead of taking it in
  • Availability
  • Try to get the team to the best it can be
  • Give CS/SC more space
  • Work hard but keep balance

Clearly I wasn’t following my own advice here.  With a set of commitments like this we see two big problems:

  1. They are not specific
  2. I forgot to write down who said what

I was so engrossed in the conversation that I forgot to notate who said what, or ask for more details.  And looking back at the flip-charts I saw that it wasn’t written there either.  #embarassing

You might think “Oh well!  Guess you’re out of luck.”  But believe it or not, there is a way to recover and turn bad notes into good ones.

How to recover from incomplete notes

So, what can be done?

Option 1: I could have called each person to ask them for more information.  But that is a lot of trouble and often hard to re-focus someone on the phone to recall the specifics from the training.

Option 2: I could have sent out the notes as-is.  Of course, notes like this don’t help the participants stay engaged, remember the training, or follow through on their commitments.

Option 3: I could make these notes the centerpiece of an activity in the next meeting.  Which is exactly what I did!  This is a simple activity that created energy in the room and provided participants an opportunity to reflect on their commitments.

This was not just a way to solve my poor note taking problem, but to also remind everyone what was discussed and create an environment of accountability.  Win-win!

The Power of Positive Notes

As you’ve just seen, when each part of your training is coordinated through effective session notes, it provides a vehicle through which your participants can not only remember what they’ve learned, but they can apply it and be held accountable for that integration in their own development.

It just takes a few tweaks to your process to turn your notes from a “necessary burden” to something that truly brings the results of your facilitation to new heights.

But why stop there?  We have so much more to teach you!

Happy Group Training - Recap Notes - THiNK Training
It’s time to facilitate training that get results and create happy, productive teams

Still struggling as a facilitator?

Our tool kit for facilitators is literally bursting at the seams.  If you’d love to pick our brains, get in one some coaching, or attend one of our upcoming training sessions then we’d love to hear from you.

If you’re ready to be a more effective facilitator, then we’re ready to help you get there.  Click here and we’ll make sure you get the help you need.

 


Image Attributions

Photos by David Travis, Daryn Stumbaugh, Aaron Burden, Estée Janssens, Tommaso Urli, Avel Chuklanov, rawpixel.com and Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

Expanding My Skills by Learning to Bake at Disney World

Learning to Expand My Baking Skills at Disney World - TH!NK Training - Featured Image

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re wondering what learning to bake at Disney World has to do with building happy teams and effective leaders.

Well, as you might have heard, our theme for the year at TH!NK is: Expand.

This year we are trying to expand ourselves and our business in a variety of ways: expand our network, expand our knowledge, expand our offerings … just to name a few.

Our goal is to expand ourselves in at least 12 different ways over the next year.  And you’re going to be able to take this journey with one each month through our blog.

February is my month to share how I focused on expanding my knowledge.  But first, let me share a few things about me that you might not know:

1. I love Disney World

My parents took me to Disney World the first year it opened, and I’ve been back many times since then.  That’s where my love for everything Disney began.  In fact, I even worked at Walt Disney World in their Disney College Program many years ago.

2. I am a terrible baker

Which isn’t necessarily unique to me since a lot of people can’t bake.  But it is strange when you consider #3 …

3. I can’t stop watching cake decorating shows

I love them all!  Kids Baking Championship, Cup Cake Wars, Holiday Baking Championship. I could go on and on.  And my love for these shows has instilled in me a deep desire to decorate a beautiful cake one day, under the guidance of a baking expert.

Earlier I created a dream list of things I wanted to do this year, and close to the top of the list was to decorate a cake with an actual cake decorating expert.  And after a bit of Googling, this is what popped up:

Create an Edible Work of Art - TH!NK Training - Screen Capture
Be still my beating heart!

I couldn’t believe it!  Disney World was providing cake decorating lessons?  Someone out there read my mind!  This was the perfect way for me to learn how to decorate a cake, especially considering how much I love Disney World!

Faster than you can cover a rolling pin with flour, I was on a plane, ready to expand my knowledge of cake decorating, and to fulfill one of my biggest dreams.

Did I do it?  Did I decorate a cake?

Well, before I get into the details, let me share you a few lessons I learned from this experience expanding my skills:

Lesson 1: Attitude is everything and passion trumps talent

As I shared with you, I am a terrible cook and baker. I have no talent or training in this arena.

However, I had a passion to make a cake.

And with right mentor by my side, I was able to create the most beautiful Minnie Mouse cake that you have ever seen.

Learning to Expand My Baking Skills at Disney World - TH!NK Training - Baking instructor
Our mentors sharing the steps to bake our Disney character cakes!

Lesson 2: Patience is a virtue

Here is something else you might not know about me: I am a rusher.

I rush by nature. I walk fast, talk fast, and like to take action fast.

Cake decorating is not a fast process.

In fact, my mentors shared that making these cakes is a three-day process.

You need to bake the cake, cool the cake, fill the cake, ice the cake, change your gloves, cool the cake, do the first layer of decorations, cool the cake, change your gloves, do the next layer of decorations, cool the cake, change your gloves.

Do you see the pattern?

A beautiful cake takes time and it pays to be calm, steady and patient if you want to create a beautiful cake.

The mentors kept saying you need to change your gloves so you don’t get the black from her ears on the white polka dots.  After all, Minnie never has black smudges on her dogs.

Well, one time, I was a bit tired of changing gloves and decided to just keep going.

Out of nowhere, “poof” a smudge appeared right on one of my crisp white dots!

Learning to Expand My Baking Skills at Disney World - TH!NK Training - 02 My baking gloves
The gloves were made for baking … and developing patience

My caring mentor simply walked over and said, “Just change your gloves and make a new dot”.

I am sure she wanted to say, “I told you to change your gloves!” But, of course, she did not.

Losing her cool would not have helped, nor would it have been very Disney-like. I would have just gotten more nervous and down on myself.

Learning to Expand My Baking Skills at Disney World - TH!NK Training - 03 Baking teacher with the final product
My smiling mentor showing my finished cake

Lesson 3: Anyone can do anything as long as they have a vivid picture of the future and clear instructions

These baking mentors were able to guide each one of my classmates to make a beautiful cake just like the one on display. How did they guide inexperienced cake decorators into making an impressive cake?

First, they showed us a picture of what we were going to make that day. When I saw it, I was thinking that this would be another one of my art projects: it starts with good intentions, but just ends up all wrong.  I had little hope that my end product would be high quality, but I was okay with that since I was really just there to expand myself with a new experience.

Second, they already baked and filled the cake for us. This saved us two days of effort and was required since it was only a 90-minute class. This was important because a leader needs to assess their employees and make decisions about where they can start training.  It gives the person a sense of success and progress.

Learning to Expand My Baking Skills at Disney World - TH!NK Training - 03 Sarah with the finished cake
Hard at work with my cake decorating skill development

Third, the mentors guided us through the process in a step-by-step format. They would demonstrate each step and then provide us the supplies to do the same step on our cake. Before I knew it, my cake went from a bald white dome to a vivid Minnie Mouse cake that brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart.

And to top it off, it was delicious!

Learning to Expand My Baking Skills at Disney World - TH!NK Training - 04 Sarah and the baking instructors
With my cake decorating mentors at Disney World

Lesson 4: Make things special

It would have been perfectly satisfying to decorate my cake, stick it in a box and head on out the door.  But, in typical Disney fashion, my Amorette mentors took the experience one step further.

After we finished they placed all our cakes underneath a display glass with beautiful lights to showcase our creations in a special way.

I was cracking up at the scene.

All of us decorators were peering into the glass case, like it was our new born baby on the other side.  And, of course, I was thinking to myself: “That one is mine, and isn’t she the most beautiful cake in the case“?

Learning to Expand My Baking Skills at Disney World - TH!NK Training - 05 The cake in the display case
My cake on full display in the beautiful case

What’s Next?

So, am I inspired to bake at home?

Yes!  This experience has given me the confidence to try baking at home and see what I can accomplish without my mentors.

But, I’m pretty sure I’ll be starting with a small cup cake.  But who knows?  You may just see some amazing creations from Sarah’s Bakeshop!

Learning to Expand My Baking Skills at Disney World - TH!NK Training - 06 Sarah and the cake
I’m all smiles as I show off my successfully decorated cake!

Want to expand your skills?

You might not want to expand your skills in the kitchen, but if you have a desire to help your team get to the next level, then we’d love to see how we might be able to help you.  We have all sorts of tools in our toolkit to help  you get the most of your team, and build an organization that will help your business expand.

Give us a call, or contact us today!

Learning to Expand My Baking Skills at Disney World - TH!NK Training - 07 Eating the cake
Like I said … it was delicious! 🙂

Up Your Game With Everything DiSC®

Upping Your Game with Everything DiSC® - TH!NK Training - Featured Image

So, you’ve completed an Everything DiSC® Workplace profile. You may have even joined a class to get you up to speed on the styles of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. As a leader, you understand how behaviors in the workplace impact productivity, innovation, and comfort.

So, now what?

As a manager, are you masterful in the key areas of communication, managing performance, leading people, coaching, resolving conflict, and building strong teams? How do you apply Everything DiSC to “up your game” in these 6 key areas of leadership?

Well, there is a lot that you can do to apply Everything DISC® to be more effective.  A good place to start is getting to know what companion DiSC tools are available to lean on.

Did you know that there is an entire family of Everything DiSC® profiles, each designed for a particular purpose? Using the right DiSC® assessment at the right time can help you and your team increase creativity, collaboration, and camaraderie.

Start navigating the top Everything DiSC® tools with these questions DiSC practitioners ask the most.

Question #1: What is the difference between Everything DiSC® Work of Leaders® and the Everything DiSC® Management Profile?

The Everything DiSC® Management Profile helps leaders strengthen their leadership effectiveness in one-to-one relationships.

The feedback report helps people understand how their DISC style influences their approach to essential functions of management: directing & delegating, motivating others, developing others, and communicating up to their manager.

When to use it: This is an excellent tool to be used in management classes, leadership classes, and coaching.

The Everything DiSC Work of Leaders® profile focuses on a leader’s ability to communicate effectively in one-to-many environments. Furthermore, Everything DiSC Work of Leaders® gives people feedback on how their DISC style influences the way they create a vision, align people to a vision, and execute a vision.

Everything DiSC Work of Leaders® - TH!NK Training
Everything DiSC Work of Leaders® gives people feedback on how their DISC style influences the way they create a vision, align people to a vision, and execute a vision

We used this assessment with a group of executives before their strategic planning session.

During the session,  the Everything DiSC® Work of Leaders Group Report revealed to the executives their strengths and weaknesses in creating, aligning and executing a vision. As a group, they scored high in the areas of Creating a Vision: Boldness and Exploration. They also scored high in the area of Execution: Momentum.

But their results also reflected their typical practice when, in the past, they would create a vision for a project.  They usually rolled it out quickly and employees resisted the new ideas and plans.

By seeing their data on paper, the executive team quickly realized ways to boost their effectiveness.  They needed to test their assumptions with their direct reports. Senior leaders needed to get more feedback about how to implement the plan. They needed to create more structure for implementation. More dialogue would create more buy-in. Therefore, vision implementation would be more successful.

When to use it: Use both assessments in management classes, leadership classes, strategic planning, and coaching.

Question #2: As a leader, which assessment should I use to analyze my leadership skills?

Everything DiSC 363® for Leaders is a multi-rater assessment. It is designed to give feedback on leadership performance.

Why 363?

The last 3 in 363 is symbolic of one of our favorite features of this assessment. The Everything DiSC 363® report provides the leader a list of their 3 top strengths and 3 priority challenge areas.

Everything DiSC 363® for Leaders provides leaders with 26 pages of feedback from 4 groups of raters: manager, peers, direct reports, and others.

What are others?

The “others” rater category can be used for other people in the organization, vendors, and customers. The rater feedback is summarized and compared to the leader’s self-rating. The report shows feedback by rater group.  Specific rater feedback helps the leader assess how he/she is doing with each rater group.

Everything DiSC 363 for Leaders
Everything DiSC 363 for Leaders, Breakdown of Raters

A common problems leaders face

Often leaders end up asking a common question after a 360-degree survey:  “What do I do with this information?

Great news! With 363, the leader receives valuable information about their top 3 strengths and their top 3 areas of development. Each area of development includes strategies that can help the leader improve in their challenge areas.

When to use it: We love to use this tool as a pre and post assessment in management courses, leadership courses, and executive coaching.

Question #3: How do I help two people see that much of their conflict is coming from not appreciating each other’s DiSC® styles?

The Everything DiSC® Comparison Report is one of the best tools to help people start building a more comfortable and productive working relationship. The Everything DiSC® Comparison Report allows any two Everything DiSC® participants to see their similarities and differences in a series of different continua.

What is a continua?

A continua is a model that shows a gradual transition from one behavior to another without any abrupt changes. Here is a snapshot that shows a continua for the behaviors of daring vs. careful:

Everything DiSC® Comparison Report: Behavior Continua
Everything DiSC® Comparison Report: Behavior Continua

 

Use the comparison report to generate the most meaningful conversations by talking about their biggest differences based on their style. It is especially relevant since the report guides participants to talk about their similarities and differences.

Overall, the purpose of this report is to improve communication and efficiency, while reducing tension and misunderstandings.

Question #4: Is there a way that I can see all of my team member’s styles at a glance?

Yes, many of our managers want to be able to see their team’s DiSC® styles at a glance. Two reports,  Everything DiSC® Group Culture Report and Everything DiSC® Facilitator Report, can help.

Everything DiSC® profiles at a glance - TH!NK Training
These reports can help you see their team’s DiSC® styles at a glance

 

As you can see, the main difference between the two reports is that the group culture report does not identify the participants by name in the report.

Question #5: How do you use the Everything DiSC® Facilitator Report or Group Culture Report?

Maximize the use of these two reports after the class and in future department meetings.   These reports are a healthy and constructive way for teams to talk about their strengths and challenges.  You can guide your team to a more meaningful conversation with the report’s questions-focused team culture.

Here is a quick reference guide to help you maximize your leadership effectiveness with Everything DiSC tools:

 

Applying Everything DiSC to 6 Key Areas of Leadership
Applying Everything DiSC to 6 Key Areas of Leadership

5 Tips to Squash Procrastination from an Actual Procrastinator

Procrastination is a subject of extremes.  Many people will tell us that their work is suffering because of their procrastination.   Others say that putting work off to the last minute is a strategy for building adrenalin to do their best work.

I used to be a part of the second group, Team Crunch. I would tell you that I do my best work under extreme deadlines.  That is when my creative juices flow and great ideas pop up.  I still think that is partly true; I do get most energized during crunch time, but it is not when I do my highest quality work, and it is not fair to my team.

I have learned over the years that I need to deliver my work at a measured pace that allows time for me to double check my work and let others question my work. These are not innate skills for me; I have had to learn strategies for pacing my work.  Here are a five of my favorite strategies help me squash procrastination.

Tip #1:  Triage and Organize

Triage your tasks into the following three categories.

1. Do it now: Tackle your urgent tasks that need immediate attention right away. These tasks immediately go into your to-do list within a short period.  For example, complete this task within one hour.

2. Defer to a scheduled time/date: For tasks that require more time, schedule them on your calendar or they will be deferred forever (a.k.a. procrastination pit). One of our favorite work schedulers is Asana. Asana is a web based tool that allows our entire team to schedule work for one another, set due dates, and check off things when they are completed.  We can even have a conversation about the project in real time.

3. Someday/Maybe: Make a list of tasks that are not urgent or a high priority.  Set a date to review these items every 30 days and see if they make it to your schedule list.

Tip #2:  Break It Down and Measure Progress

How do you eat an elephant?  One bit at a time.  That is the same way you tackle a big project.  Break a big project down into monthly tasks, weekly tasks, and daily tasks. The progress will be motivating, and before you know it, you will have that big project completed.  Seeing progress is a major motivator to people.  In a Harvard Business Review article titled, The Power of Small Wins, authors Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer write “Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important are making progress on meaningful work.”  The two key items here are progress and meaningful work.   You must find a personal connection to the importance of any project you are working on.   And, find ways to see incremental progress as you tackle each step in the journey.

Tip #3:  Stop Playing Kick the Can

When I was young, my friends and I used to walk down the street, and we would kick a can all the way home.  Why were we kicking the can?  We did not want to pick it up and throw it away, so, we would just keep kicking the can as if it would magically throw itself away.  And as you may guess, the can was always there when we got home, and we eventually had to pick it up to throw it away.   Most of the time I am quite motivated to accomplish things, but sometimes I need a boost.  So, I practice self-talk and say a mantra out loud to get myself going. My mantra is, “Now is always better than later, today is always better than tomorrow.”  If that does not work, I remind myself that if I don’t tackle this task now, it will only become a bigger, more urgent problem tomorrow.  And, I tell myself to stop kicking the can down the road.

Tip #4:  Cramming Does Not Create Quality Work

I know many of you say you do your best work at the last minute. Speaking from personal experience, that is not true.  You may be more energized because you have the pressure of time.  You may even be creative.  But, you cannot do your best work since you will eventually run out of time.  You will not have a chance to ask for other’s input or test your assumptions. Not to mention, you will eventually drive all the people who like to work in a measured, planned approach in your office crazy.

Tip #5:  Know How Your Behavioral Style Drives Your Interests

Take a DISC Survey to find out more about your natural tendencies. Certain tasks are aligned with your natural behavior style and will most likely be the items that you prioritize and are excited to tackle first. On the opposite spectrum, the tasks that fall outside of your natural behavior style could be the work that you procrastinate because it takes more energy from you.  We recommend taking an Everything DiSC® Workplace Profile to help you gain more insight on some of your natural tendencies.  The Everything DiSC® Workplace Profile will help provide you insight on stressors and motivators at work, which can be connected to why you procrastinate some things and others you cannot wait to get started.  If you want to get started with taking an Everything DiSC® profile, you can buy one from our TH!NK store.

This article has required me to use all of my procrastination strategies.  We have struggled with blogging consistently for our business.  In fact, it was my desire to do tip #3, kick the can,  on this article that made me write an article on procrastination.  I must admit that I am stoked to tell you that the goal was to publish this by August 16th and I am putting the final touches to it on August 13.  Whoot whooo!!!    I hope these tips help you, too!

If you have any questions about these tips, drop me an email at info@think-training.com.

3 Lessons From Mindful Meditation

So often in business, we are looking for ways to do more and achieve more.  As a business owner, it is all too easy for me to get caught up in the urgency of life and business.  Recently, I did exactly the opposite.  I spent my evening, with five powerful Social Wahines, doing less and it turned out to be the most productive night.

On July 12th, I went to my first class to learn the basics of how to meditate.  It was a balmy evening at Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.  I arrived at the park around 5:30p and the beach was all a buzz with families playing in the water, people fishing, and all forms of fitness in high gear around us.   I was not scheduled to do any of those activities.  I was on my way to learn how to meditate.   Lia Catanzaro, an amazing yoga and meditation instructor, led our group of Social Wahines through the meditation practice.  Lia found the perfect spot for us amidst the beach goers, yogis and fitness groups.  We were positioned beneath a large shade tree, facing the ocean, perfectly poised to see a Hawaii sunset similar to the one you may find on a post card.

I signed up for this workshop seeking strategies to relax and calm my action oriented mind.  As with anything in life, I went for one thing and gained three stunning pieces of wisdom.

Lesson #1: Meditation Only Takes a Few Minutes

I learned that meditating just 2-3 minutes a day can improve your creativity, intellect and overall health.  I used to think that meditation took hours.  I was wrong!  Lia taught us that it takes just a few minutes of meditation a day to be more creative, smarter, and healthier.  Meditation does not need to be complicated.  It can be as simple as focusing on your breath and reaming calm while driving in traffic, spending a few minutes journaling each day or simply closing your eyes and focusing on your breathe in a measured fashion.  I was a big fan of breathing with a simple mantra.  I sat for 5 minutes breathing in through my nose and saying (in my mind) “in with love.”  Then, breathing out through my mouth saying, “out with fear.”  This meditation is powerful because fear and love cannot exist in the same space.  I had never thought of that before, and as I pondered the idea, I realized that fear frequently hijacks my emotions and I kick into action, which is usually not handled delicately,

Lesson #2:  Enjoy the Moment

I was able to truly sit and enjoy the place that I am at and not just let the day fly by me.  When was the last time you just enjoyed where you were and chose to live in the moment?  For me, it had been a long time.  I am usually hectically picking up kids, finishing work and trying to figure out what to eat for dinner from 5:30p – 7:00p.  This workshop reminded me to stop, slow down and enjoy this life given to me.

Lesson #3:  Enjoy My Friends and Have Unique Experiences

I am reminded how much I like spending time with my friends while having unique experiences.  These women were amazing. We were all in the same boat.  Nervous that we could not slow down to meditate well (apparently all over achievers since we were afraid of being successful meditators), not sure if it was something we could enjoy, but knew we needed meditation in our life.  Each one of us walked away with a different epiphany and felt closer as a result of the shared experience. By the end, we found our favorite form of meditation and enjoyed ourselves.  One woman committed to starting her day at 6:00an and begin with journaling, another was heading out to purchase essential oils to diffuse in her house every night before bed.  Me, I committed to going into yoga class 10 minutes early to meditate before yoga.

If you have not meditated before, I encourage you to find a guide to take you through the process.   To my friends in Hawaii, reach out to Lia Catanzaro directly @ lia@liacat.com Lia makes meditating an accessible experience that is not overwhelming.  With my limited experience, I can say with confidence that practicing meditation will help me improve my emotional stability and intellectual clarity, both essential to be my best at home and work.  I used to see slowing down as wasted time and being unproductive.   Now, I see it as an investment in myself that will allow me to give more and do more for others.

Looking for a Great Book

Think Training - Looking for a Good Book - Featured Image

When I was growing up, my mom would always give me my next book to read, and all of them were fantastic!

When I went off to college, I would go to the library to pick out a book and they all seemed to be mediocre at best. I was sharing this with my mom one day (while standing at a pay phone and using a calling card) and she said, “Sarah, I only give you the ‘A’ books”.

Confused, I asked her, “What is an ‘A’ book?”

She went on to share that she read loads of books and gave them a letter grade of A – F. She would only pass the books on to her friends and family that received an “A”. You can see a copy of her list in the picture above. My mom is a tough grader – no one got an A on this list.

I recently went to a meeting of 40 business leaders in Hawaii and they were all asked to write down their 3 favorite books – their “A” list. I am sharing this list with you just in case you are in the need of a new good book.

Great Book Recommendations

  • Dances with Wolves
  • Growth Mindset
  • The Tipping Point
  • The 5 People You Meet in Heaven
  • The Secret
  • Lean In
  • Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
  • Failing Forward
  • The Talisman
  • The Stand
  • Pillars of the Earth
  • Don Quixote
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Big Magic
  • Tess of the D’urbervilles
  • Girl Boss
  • The Miracle Morning
  • Essentialism
  • Lightless Sky
  • Kite Runner
  • The Year of Magical Thinking
  • Life on the Line
  • Starting Real Estate Conversations
  • The Stand
  • Grand Weaver
  • Not A Fan
  • Destiny
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • The Life Intended
  • Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business
  • Essence of Inspiration
  • A Woman After God’s Heart
  • Think and Grow Rich
  • Last Lecture
  • First Light
  • The Purpose Driven Life
  • 8 Dimensions of Leadership
  • 5 Dysfunctions of a Team
  • Stop Juggling Elephants
  • Death of a Salesmen
  • School of Prophets
  • Fasting by Jentzin Franklin
  • 5 Love Languages

How about you?  Are there any books you think should be added to this list?  Share your “A” books in the comments below!

Lessons from a Newbie

Think Training - Lessons from a Newbie - Featured Images

Today, was my last day of an online certification training and my assignment was to prepare for an upcoming client and share my approach with two colleagues.

I’ve been in the training business for a while so the exercise itself was a good one. I had to think through my approach and put it in another person’s format.

That assignment made me think differently about my content. I started to see where my experienced self missed some steps and it inspired me to challenge my old process with new ideas.

The Most Powerful Lesson

But, the most powerful lesson came from my colleague who said, “I’ll go first. I am brand new with this content and I really want to get some feedback on my approach. If it is okay with you, I am going to show you all of my prepared documents and handouts so you can give me feedback.”

I thought ‘My goodness! I don’t have that many prepared documents to show‘.

And, as she walked through each one, I realized how much care and attention that client was going to receive. They were her first client and she was going to make sure to be perfect for them.

Then it hit me: we are always best for our firsts and when we are new. Our first day on the job, our first date, our first customer.

The challenge is not being the best for our first, but being best for our 31st, 131st, etc.

Thank you to my newbie who reminded me of what my parents taught me, “Always be your best.”