“Not seeing results? Feel like giving up? Consider this: The last thing to grow on a fruit tree is the fruit.”

“Not seeing results? Feel like giving up? Consider this: The last thing to grow on a fruit tree is the fruit.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by Jason Richard

Take a look at the past year. What was your level of productivity? What results were achieved and where did you come up short regarding your expectations? How often did you feel like giving up?

We all desire to see our actions pay off, and taste the sweet fruits of our efforts. We also know that sometimes the weather and circumstances of our lives can be harsh. Like trees, we sometimes need to conserve and reserve our energy to stay alive for the coming season.

EXERCISE:

Acknowledge yourself and others who found the courage and strength to withstand the elements of this past year, regardless of the harvest.

Consider picking up a copy of THE DIP (A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit and When to Stick), by Seth Godin.

“What is the least I can teach you that would be the most valuable?”

“What is the least I can teach you that would be the most valuable?”

Michael Bungay Stanier, Founder of Box of Crayons

How familiar are you with the developmental and problem-solving tool called a quadrant graph?

Even if this specific term is unfamiliar, my guess is that you use some form of this concept to be productive and achieve your goals.

Take the example above, using effort and result as the two axis of the graph.

By evaluating each quadrant, we can calculate a course of action to optimize a path toward the result we desire.

The Quotable Coach blog series tries to apply a similar approach by offering a nugget of wisdom in about a minute’s read, potentially providing significant value to the reader.

EXERCISE:

Where and with whom could you apply today’s quote in your role as either a teacher or a student?

Please reply to this post to describe the value created.

“When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.”

“When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.”

—Nelson Mandela, late South African anti-apartheid political leader

Image from Unsplash by Derek Story

On most mornings I wake up very early and head to the health club to kick start my day. My club is located near my office, about 15 miles from my home.

Given the light traffic at this early hour, I do my best to avoid stop lights by adjusting my use of the gas pedal and brakes. This maintains my momentum and improves my fuel efficiency.

EXERCISE:

What are some of your personal or professional projects in which the water is already boiling?

How can and will you keep adding another log to the fires of your current momentum to achieve even more extraordinary outcomes?

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking

“A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.”

-Arthur McBride Bloch, Author of Murphy’s Law Books

Image of a magnifying glass over the word "conclusion"

Image from MP3ringtone

Time pressure is one of many factors affecting our personal and professional worlds. Most people I coach are experiencing unprecedented levels of stress. They feel they are required to accomplish more in less time than ever before, just to keep up.

Critical thinking and decision-making are vital components of the world we live in. It often feels like we are all on a game show in which getting the right answer is only one part of how we win. The speed of our answer is also part of the equation.

The sheer number of decisions we need to make causes many of us to seek short cuts in our decision-making process, to avoid exhaustion and burnout.

EXERCISE:

How are you currently allocating your mental energies to your personal and professional priorities? How can you conserve or strengthen this energy to help you reach your most optimal and wisest conclusion?

A committee of one gets things done

“A committee of one gets things done.”

—Joe Ryan, Author of Breaking Limits

Image from picturequotes.com

Much of my coaching involves supporting my clients in developing and expanding their leadership, management, coaching, and relationship skills. Mastering these skills helps them produce far greater results with and through others.

One consideration is the time it actually takes to reach their goals.

Today’s quote points to the speed and efficiency of leading oneself to a better future, managing our own efforts and resources, and adjusting our course for optimal results. Regarding relationship skills, rarely do we ever disagree with our own thinking!

EXERCISE:

There is an African saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Where and on what personal or professional priority is it appropriate to use your “committee of one” to get something done?

He Who Trims Himself

“He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.”

—Raymond Hull, Canadian Playwright and Lecturer

Image of a person whittling on a piece of wood

Image from Unsplash by Nathan Lemon

In the best selling book, Give and Take by University of Pennsylvania professor, Adam Grant, we learn the pros and cons of being a “giver.”

Grant divides givers into two groups:

The first group have high other-interest and low self-interest. This can work against their giving nature; they burn out, or as put in today’s quote, whittle themselves away.

Conversely, the group Grant calls “other-ish,” maintain high self-interest along with high other-interest. This keeps them on an even keel and provides optimal results for themselves and others.

EXERCISE:

How can you more fully maintain your own self-interest and well-being while generously contributing to others in your professional and personal worlds?

The Last Page

“Read the last page first.”

-Nora Ephron, American Journalist and Screenwriter

image from novelideareviews.com

image from novelideareviews.com

I never could understand why someone would ruin the story by reading the end of a book first. For me it was like being given the punch line to a joke without the story that led to it.

From a coach’s perspective, however, “reading the last page” can be highly useful.

Consider the process of envisioning a new and better personal and professional future. In this process, you would likely be asked to generate written visions, missions, and goals that represent the happy-ever-after future you desire. At that point, you can reverse engineer the measurable results and action steps that will lead you there.

EXERCISE:

How can reading the last page first on your most important professional and personal life stories act as a catalyst to make more of your dreams come true?

“Don’t try to teach a whole course in one lesson.”

“Don’t try to teach a whole course in one lesson.”

—Kathryn Murray, Ballroom Dancer

Photo from Flickr by Shaver Ross

Photo from Flickr by Shaver Ross

Two months into the new year and already I see a large number of people frustrated, slowed down, or completely stopped in the pursuit of their personal and/or professional goals.

One of the most common reasons for setbacks is the desire and attempt to do too much too quickly, which results in being overwhelmed, losing focus, and of course, a lack of the anticipated results.

It is appropriate, in such situations, to regroup and establish a new course of action with far fewer steps and far more finite and reasonable expectations.

EXERCISE:

Select one – and only one – important professional or personal project that is not going as you desire where you have tried to do too much too quickly.

Break this project into smaller, more digestible nuggets and spread them out over a longer time frame, to achieve the results you wanted the first time.