LearnShareProsper logo Boosting Business_Performance Adele Sommers
by Adele Sommers, Ph.D.
 www.LearnShareProsper.com Adele@LearnShareProsper.com 
In This Issue

March 2017
Volume 13, Issue 3

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Below find this month’s newsletter, hot off the press!

  • Feature Article: Getting Unstuck: Tips for Overcoming “Decision Gridlock”

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Note from the Author

Are You “Sticking” or “Getting Stuck”?

Examples of projects held together with glueExactly when is it important to get something to “stick,” and when do we want to avoid becoming “stuck”? And while we’re thinking about it, how do those two ideas reflect distinctly different kinds of challenges?

Regarding “stickiness,” today’s special message shares six ways to create the kinds of memorable ideas that people can’t stop discussing or thinking about. In many cases, sticky messaging becomes the glue that binds people together. It triggers the inspiration to tackle a major project, respond favorably to new ideas, or make buying decisions.

Regarding “stuck-ness,” today’s feature article introduces the theme of decision-making by suggesting ways to move forward whenever you seem to feel paralyzed by personal or business decisions. Our vast array of choices often makes it difficult to make any decision at all. We can spend endless hours thinking and re-thinking about what to do, as well as when to do it!

I hope you enjoy this month’s features, and please be sure to share your thoughts by leaving your comments on my Facebook page!

Here’s to your business prosperity,

Adele Sommers, Ph.D., business improvement specialist, author, educator, and award-winning instructional designer

P.S. If you missed any previous issue, please visit the newsletter archive!

Special Message

Six Powerful Ways to Make Your Ideas Stick

"Made to Stick" by Chip Heath and Dan HeathNot too long ago, I was reminded of a decade-old classic, “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.” Authors (and brothers) Chip Heath and Dan Heath artfully explain their findings about why some ideas manage to become indelibly etched in our minds, and others don’t.

The degree to which certain ideas embody a trait called stickiness — a term coined by Malcolm Gladwell in “The Tipping Point” — often determines their effectiveness and staying power in influencing our behavior and our buying decisions.

Whether we are talking about urban legends and myths (which are social stories that persist long after they are proved to be untrue), visions (such as President Kennedy’s famous goal in 1961 to put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade), slogans, ad campaigns, or other types of communication, the authors identify six factors that contribute significantly to making ideas memorable:

1. Simplicity – Distill not only the sound bites, but also the profoundness of the message; does it come across with the impact of a parable or proverb?

2. Unexpectedness – Use stark contrasts or surprising descriptions not only to grab immediate attention, but also to create longer-term interest and curiosity.

3. Concreteness – Emphasize basic, real-life physical elements, such as “putting a man on the moon,” and decode abstractions through the use of metaphors, such as “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

4. Credibility – Get ideas to somehow prove themselves through an invitation to “try out this idea and see whether you experience X results,” instead of relying only on statistics, quoting an authority figure, or using third-party endorsements.

5. Emotions – Trigger deep visceral reactions such as compassion, inspiration, angst, disgust, shock, or distrust to make messages unforgettable and actionable.

6. Stories – Use case studies, anecdotes, testimonials, and descriptive accounts to provide memorable details and convey clues about how to act on the ideas.

In the book, the authors include templates and guidelines based on these six factors to help you make your own ideas even stickier!

Feature Article

Getting Unstuck: Tips for Overcoming “Decision Gridlock”
by Adele Sommers

Girl staring at chess pieces on a board

Have you ever felt so stymied by your choices that every time you stared down at your personal chessboard of life, you weren’t sure where you could possibly make a move?

If so, you’re in good company, since that’s where many of us find ourselves at one time or another.

And whether that feeling of being stuck relates to business, personal matters, or both, it can serve to encumber our progress. This article discusses two patterns of situational gridlock, and what we can do about them!

Pattern #1: Worrying Incessantly about the Perfect Move

I call this pattern “pondering perfection” because every possibility appears to have potential, yet none seems to stand out as the clearest candidate for action. You may want to be so absolutely, positively sure that you’re heading in the right direction that instead, you experience analysis paralysis.

Take Alicia’s situation, for instance. She sees a myriad of possibilities for starting a business. Yet without understanding exactly how to identify a business purpose that’s ideally suited to her life passions and strengths, she doesn’t have enough insight to make a selection. Every option seems about as good as any other. She’s uncertain about whether to simply try something, since it could be expensive to switch later if her first choice doesn’t work.

Robert, on the other hand, dreads the idea of failure if he picks any direction that doesn’t produce immediate success. His parents had always instilled in him that he should decide what he wanted to do in life before leaving high school. But Robert is multi-talented and has many different interests. Ever since graduation, he has been unable to pinpoint any single direction. Still haunted by his parents’ exhortations, he often feels immobilized when faced with choices. For Robert, it’s so much easier to think, plan, and daydream than pursue any learning activity, career, or business venture that might turn out to be “wrong.”

Small chess pieces standing in lineFor Alicia’s and Robert’s dilemmas, I recommend breaking the situation into much smaller pieces that will present little or no risk to try.

The first step can involve gathering more information — an extremely powerful action!

Based on what you can learn at little or no expense other than your time, you can explore many possibilities. Ask yourself the following:

  • What steps can I take to investigate, study, or “test drive” my interests? Consider conducting some online research to become more familiar with the options. If you’re considering a new business, start researching your target audience and learn what competing or comparable businesses have to offer.
  • Whom can I interview, observe, or assist to see what kindles my interest and seems most aligned with my strengths? Consider contacting some of the subject matter experts whose information you read online. Most people would be flattered to answer sincere inquiries about their areas of expertise. Local experts might happily let you observe them in action, and may even endorse your writing an article about your findings. They, or members of professional associations, could become your most supportive advisors or mentors.

Pattern #2: A Desired Move Seems Too Intimidating (or Too Simple)

Are you setting the bar too high in the short term? Let me explain.

I firmly believe in identifying a “grand vision” that aligns our life passions with an overarching business idea — one that has the potential to engage us in a very full and satisfying existence over time. However, when we set major goals that are so challenging, there is only a small chance of achieving them quickly, we can easily lose enthusiasm. The remedy? Plan to work through the process incrementally.

Look at Christina’s scenario. Her longtime dream is to launch a business that caters to professionals who groom, train, and exercise pets. She can foresee the potential for a large-scale operation with international franchises. Her grand vision is so rich and comprehensive that she can visualize every detail!

Two chess pieces standing back to backBut because of the size and complexity of her vision, Christina feels intimidated about how to move forward.

  • Pursuing her dream in its entirety would be very expensive and time-consuming.
  • On the other hand, pursuing anything less than her grand vision seems too simple, and therefore unworthy.

Can she find a solution to her all-or-nothing dilemma?

In this circumstance, I suggest a two-pronged approach:

  • First, develop a “grand vision build-out plan” that has flexible phases or modules. View the plan from a top-down and bottom-up perspective.

    Top-down planning can provide the structure for major activities that need to occur. But keep in mind that over time, the circumstances, requirements, technology, markets, and other factors can change considerably. That’s why top-down planning doesn’t aim to cement every detail, but instead acts as a framework.

    Bottom-up planning identifies the specific actions you can take today that will move you forward, regardless of what shifts in the future. For example, do you need to develop an Internet presence and start building a subscriber list? If so, you could start by creating informational content that establishes your credibility, and begin attracting an audience. Also consider conducting surveys, field tests, and/or pilot programs to validate your assumptions about what the audience needs and wants. What you learn will help clarify, confirm, and fine-tune your grand plan!
  • Second, build momentum with each small step. Set your expectations fairly low, and each time you achieve a short-term goal, set a new one and continue to let momentum carry you forward. Just as in football, every yard you gain boosts the total score. Taking one step forward — in any direction — will produce satisfying accomplishments that lead to more small steps. By pacing yourself, gaining traction, and developing a rhythm, you’ll have fun instead of turning your dream into an oppressive chore.

In conclusion, taking small, low-risk steps can help you blast through situational gridlock and start feeling great about your progress. Instead of fearing failure, see yourself as a researcher running a series of low-cost experiments. By gathering data, interviewing, observing, planning, and testing your ideas incrementally, you’ll create building blocks, generate momentum, and lay a solid foundation for success!

Copyright 2017 Adele Sommers

The Author Recommends

“The Paradox of Choice”

"The Paradox of Choice" by Barry SchwartzDo you sometimes feel confronted by too many choices, such as the same ones that can cause situational gridlock, above? It’s not surprising!

According to Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, decision-making today is much more complex and stressful than it was 30 years ago. Not only are there more products and services to choose from, but also many new options to ponder in life.

One of many valuable observations in the book pertains to those of us who spend endless amounts of time making perfect buying decisions. Perfectionists often feel less satisfied with their purchases than those who pick something that’s good enough.

People who then stick with their decisions — rather than agonizing over what else they could have considered or done differently — are also happier than those who second-guess themselves by continuing to compare possibilities long after they’ve made their choices.

About the Author

"Straight Talk" Special Report
"Straight Talk" Workbook

Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the author of “Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance” — an award-winning Special Report and Workbook program.

If you liked today’s issue, you’ll love this down-to-earth overview of how 12 potent business-boosting strategies can reenergize the morale and productivity of your enterprise, tame unruly projects, and attract loyal, satisfied customers. It’s accompanied by a step-by-step workbook designed to help you easily create your own success action plan. Browse the table of contents and reader reviews on the description page.

Adele also offers no-cost articles and resources to help small businesses and large organizations accelerate productivity and increase profitability. Learn more at LearnShareProsper.com.

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