Monthly Archives: April 2014

Are You Losing Control?

Have you ever said something you regretted later? Have you ever just “lost it”? When anger controls your behaviors, you may be temporarily out of control. Usually, we can easily identify the person, event or circumstance causing us to react the way we do, whether appropriate or not. What we fail to realize is we hve more control than we imagine.

There are three basic personality needs driving us every day:

1. The first need is to be LOVED or accepted as a person. Everyone has experienced this need at some point and to varying degrees. Most people would appreciate being liked by others and if we are not liked, we may get angry.

2. The second need is to be in CONTROL, not necessarily in control of anyone else, but rather in control of what is happening to us. Many people who dislike flying are uncomfortable on the plane because they sense a lack of control. They are totally dependent on the pilot, co-pilot. Mechanic, air traffic controller, people who loaded the plane, people who built the plane, etc., etc. … so, they would rather drive. In their car, in control, they have options available in the event of an impending collision. They can swerve, hope the seat belt/air bag combination will protect them; they could even choose to jump out! Try that on a plane (not even a good idea in the car!).

3. The third need is the need for SELF-ESTEEM. If you have ever been treated badly as a customer, chances are good your self-esteem has been damaged and you vow never to go back there again.

When these needs are met, the emotional response is joy, pleasure, happiness and life is good. If any one or combination of these three needs is not met, the first emotional response is fear. Someone doesn’t like me, I sense a lack of control, or they are trying to make me feel less about myself than I should. I then get to make a choice … that’s right, getting angry is a choice I make based on the fear my needs will not be met. This means I choose to be angry and I can no longer blame the customer, my spouse, friends, neighbors, the children, the dog, the car, the weather, my boss, the fence, the government or the fact the stars are not properly aligned. I choose my behavior!

I have never had anyone able to give me an example of an angry outburst where one of these three needs was not in jeopardy. I must learn to take personal responsibility for my actions and reactions which means I have to change what I am saying to myself. If I can identify which need is not being met before I respond, my choices will usually be better. None of us is in total control over what happens to us all the time … we do have a choice as to how to react to those circumstances.

Can Management Change?

There can be little argument about whether change will come or not. All of us have experienced sufficient change in the past 5-10 years to know it is constant and often disruptive. To resist has consistently proven to be an exercise in futility. And yet, almost as consistently, some management personnel persist in maintaining the status quo in the face of on-going, rapid, radical change.

I refer specifically of the unwillingness of some managers to delegate tasks effectively to staff. When will supervisors and managers finally realize staff can make them look good or bad? So, who is really in charge? Don’t ever forget that! Perhaps it is this realization which causes some managers to hang on to their perceived authority not realizing this only encourages good people to leave that much sooner.

Why would people not delegate? I have identified three possible causes:

  1. Management is afraid staff will do the tasks incorrectly. If that is the reason, then train them more effectively. I believe the real fear is staff will not do the task exactly the same as the manager. If that’s the case, either spend more time training them to do it like you, or fire them all and work more hours!
  1. Management is afraid staff will do the tasks better. If you are hiring properly, they should. If you consistently hire people who know nothing, what is the likelihood they will make you look good? Hire people who know more than you and their performance will just make you look great.
  1. Management is afraid staff will take over. That happened years ago, and people are still worried it might occur someday … hello, hello … staff already has the power to influence your performance rating and besides, most of them don’t want your job anyway.

The key to management looking good and producing above-average results lies in the ability to build strong followers. Hire good people who bring to the job strengths you do not have, give them lots of on-going training and development opportunities, teach them your system so they can effectively apply their knowledge and skills, and then … let them go and work. You are there as a support system to provide appropriate positive feedback, ask questions to get their input and ideas, listen to build trusting relationships, challenge them to exceed their own expectations, assist with the development of new skills needed because of change, model the performance and behaviors you expect to see in their work habits, and help them get back on track if they happen to slip … and everybody does sooner or later.

So many of your staff have great ideas. Have you asked for any lately? Most would agree that when people participate in making a decision, they are much more likely to implement it enthusiastically than they would be if it had been imposed on them. True management “power” exists in your ability to get things done through and with the willing cooperation of your staff. A common complaint in both private and public sector workplaces is “Management is unwilling to listen to us or give up their control.” Well, the really bad news is no one other than yourself thinks you are nearly as important as you do! You set the tone for your followers. Allow the to do what they do best and, in turn, deliver the results you deserve.

Innovate or Perish?

Are you getting better or worse? Have you discovered some things which worked in the past are not as effective, if at all? Are your customers more demanding, your prospects more questioning and your suspects increasingly clever at “hiding”?

These are just a few of the questions sales managers are asking me to address in sales seminars with their staff. As the pace of change speeds up, the need to innovate on a continuous basis becomes paramount in meeting the challenges of the marketplace. Clients have more options than ever before, loyalties are shifting and if you cannot provide what they want, when they want it and how they want it, they will find someone who will! Salespeople are changing too and want to feel good about what they are doing.

Successful salespeople are discovering the innovation required to handle change can be supplemented by a concerted effort to build on the following:

  • knowing how to reduce threat and build trust
  • understanding the pressures their customers are experiencing
  • being able to think on their feet and adapt rules and policies to meet the customer’s needs when appropriate
  • having their own act together and viewing change as an opportunity rather than a roadblock
  • gaining complete, accurate, up-to-the-minute knowledge of their product/service, their competition and their market
  • building long-term relationships with clients
  • looking for opportunities to provide service outside of the specific sales situation which enhance the relationship building

Technology offers tremendous tools to assist the sales process and sales professionals need to learn how to use these tools effectively as opposed to being “caught up” in every new and improved device available. Digital cellular phones, PDAs, voice-messaging systems, pagers, portable faxes, laptops, satellite communications. etc. are exciting and yet can become a new “gimmick” for the inexperienced user that serves to detract from sales performance rather than adding to it. Take the time to master the tool to maximize its usefulness, network with other users to gain from their experience and expertise, while not forgetting the importance of the personal touch. New technology can get you the initial sale … it is the after-sales service and relationship building that will turn you into a sales superstar in the eyes of your client.

Innovation requires effective application, not just knowledge. Knowledge without application is of very little value and can even produce guilt. … “If I know how to do this, why am I not already doing it?” It is the doers rather than the knowers who make things happen and produce results. Innovation really starts with you!

Confusion About Win/Win

If you are in sales or service, you have been exposed to the concept of WIN/WIN outcomes. Instead of looking at relationships with customers as a contest with only one “winner”, we are being told to look for opportunities for both parties to WIN. This is, of course, in direct conflict to most of our programming, sports and otherwise, which has told us there can only be one WINNER.

My intent is not to create further confusion by introducing the concept of WIN/WIN/WIN but I do believe that without this process in place, the entire relationship with clients will remain frustrating and not nearly as productive as possible.

Most managers will say the first person to win must always be the customer. Who else has to win? Well, the salesperson or service provider must also experience some win during the exchange or he/she will not continue in the business for very long. The third entity which must win is the organization. It is precisely this “order” that dictates the customer must win first that has led to declining service standards and lower sales results. Nobody wants to be in servitude!

The first person who must WIN is the salesperson. The customer WINS second. Of course, we want these two events to happen as close together as possible. The Organization WINS third.

  1. If the salesperson WINS and the client WINS, the organization WINS.
  1. If the customer believes you WON and they LOST, the organization automatically LOSES because the unhappy customer will not come back and will tell many other people how bad the experience was in dealing with you.
  1. If you do not feel good about what you are doing and how you are doing it or you believe you have LOST to make the customer WIN, you will take out those feelings on your clients, your co-workers and ultimately take them home. The organization LOSES in this case because they have a group of disgruntled employees.

The WIN/WIN/WIN process works!! Just don’t forget in which order it must occur.

Success Strategies

The one constant in life is Change. The most frequent request I receive in seminars is for “easy to use” steps for handling inevitable change. I am not convinced there are any easy steps but I have learned a few which can help. Use them enthusiastically.


The more you know about yourself, the better prepared you will be to handle change. It’s when you don’t know what your strengths and limitations are that you sometimes panic during change and times of stress. Do a self-inventory at least twice a year … and then spend more time working on your strengths. If you want to improve a perceived weakness, fine … although a better option might be to hire someone who has that quality as one of their strengths.


Learning is not an event. It is a process. Continue to expand your comfort zone, increase your abilities and build value. People will follow you because they think you know where you are going. As soon as they discover, you don’t know where you are going or you are stuck in place, they will look for someone else to follow. We have two choices … either you are getting better or you’re getting worse!


It is not enough to have skills and abilities; you must also use and share them with others. Many people believe sharing their skills will somehow diminish their power. Helping others to get better will always make you look good. I once had a boss who told me he knew how to do a particular task and if he showed me, I would also know, so he decided not to show me! My first thought was “So, who cares if you know?”. Leadership ability and power comes from sharing, not hoarding.


As you build your co-workers and staff into an effective team, you can delegate with a higher degree of confidence. Give away your favorite task to someone who can do it just as well, if not better. Giving away only those tasks which you dislike is called dumping! Learn to delegate more right now or you face a future where you are either completely on your own or you create a new job for yourself as an adult babysitter.


Negative people hate this step! I had a person in a seminar accuse me of using that “Positive Thinking Garbage”. He added, “I tried that once and it didn’t work”. Well, there’s a surprise. I have found consistently I tend to hit whatever I aim at. If I aim at success, I have a much greater chance of hitting it. If I aim at failure, I usually hit that too. Most people aim at nothing every day and then complain when they get whatever someone else decides to give them, wrongly claiming victim status.


The best job security you can ever have is to build sufficient value so someone will always want you. Many people believe once they finish formal education, they are done … that’s more likely when you are really starting. The myth of job security, that someone owes you a job, is one of the dirtiest, nastiest lies ever propagated in our society. As a small business owner, I know if I don’t work, I don’t eat. This doesn’t take a lot of calculation every morning. No one is responsible for my well-being other than me! Who is looking after you?


Yes, this is politics. You need to know what the rules are so you can make informed choices. If the rules are always changing, then that’s one of the rules. Once you know what the rules are, ask yourself … “Can I play under these rules? Can I stay and change the rules? Do I need to find another game to play in?”


The benefits are many: information, contacts, friendships, etc. You need to belong to at least one professional association relating to the industry you are in or would like to participate in. And, don’t just join … be active. Whether you are job-hunting or not, vacancies and opportunities are often discussed at those meetings long before they are officially posted.


Most people have no idea what they want. They just know what they don’t want. I had a seminar participant tell me he wanted more friends. When I inquired as to how many he wanted, he said he didn’t really know. I told him he had already reached his goal. If you don’t know exactly what you want, nothing will ever be enough because you will always be wondering what it would be like to have more.


I am not talking here just about money, although people who say they don’t like money will usually lie about other things too. I have a “new” bottom line when it comes to work. If it’s not fun, then I don’t want to do it. This can cause some concern for my staff since we now turn down some work we used to take. If our client assures us they are fun, then I’ll be there … otherwise, I’m not going. What’s your bottom line?; (hope you’re also having some fun)

The Danger of “Trying”

Getting things done is a problem for many people. Time Management seminars, books and associated audio tapes and video programs triumph the need for people to become more organized, learn to prioritize and distinguish between important and urgent tasks. Constant changes in our business and personal lives generate more tasks, paper and responsibilities. Through all of this, the time we have all been given, remains constant. Seminar participants in my programs report increased levels of stress with “do more with less” becoming the standard rather than the exception.

People are in search of new ways to succeed, in some cases, just to survive our go, go, go world. With stress levels increasing, productivity levels decline, producing additional stress.

A major cause of stress is not getting things done. This can be proven easily. If you have ever completed anything in your life, how did you feel when you were finished? Probably pretty good, right? Where was your stress level? That’s right, very low! It would seem, then, a constructive step to reducing stress would be completing tasks. This is hardly a revolutionary idea and yet, it can be the first step in getting your life in order.

The solution seems obvious. The reason it doesn’t always work is because too many people are busy “trying” instead of “doing”. “I’ll try that, I’ll try to get it done, I’ll even try that too, just watch me”. You always want to ask this person … “Why don’t you just do it?”, The typical response … “Oh, I don’t ever do anything, I just try”.

The words, “I’ll try”, are the world’s most convenient excuse for not getting things done. If you don’t complete something, at least you “tried” and tomorrow you could “try harder”, or you could “really, really try”. As an experiment, locate some object right now within your reach and try and pick it up. NO, don’t actually pick it up, just try … hold your hand over it as if some all-powerful unseen force was preventing you from lifting the object. That’s trying. Actually picking it up is doing!!

What is this unseen force? Whether it is low self-confidence, low self-esteem, fear of failure and corresponding reluctance to take risks, acknowledging the problem is the first step in handling it more effectively. When people leave my seminars, I caution them about trying anything we have discussed and encourage them instead to take action and do it. If you decide not to do something, stating that decision will have a more positive impact on your self-esteem than will saying you might “try it”. I have never motivated anyone to do anything. I make people aware of options and then they get to make a choice. If you are unhappy with past choices, make new ones. Incidentally, deciding to only try rather than do is also a choice you have made.

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