Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Personal Initiative - Defeating Procrastination

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One of the questions I ask leaders when conducting my workshop training seminars is, what social trends are you witnessing which has created an increase in your challenge to effectively lead others? A common response is, an acceptance of mediocrity and the lack of initiative among employees. The existence of this attitude promotes procrastination and is devastating to the efficiency, productivity and profitability of an organization. It depletes individual creativity, innovation and a spirit of risk taking because of the lack of assertiveness being promulgated by the workforce. This same attitude when transferred into our personal lives has similar consequences. Initiative is defined as, “the ability to assess and initiate things independently, the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do, an act or strategy intended to resolve a difficulty or improve a situation, a fresh approach to something”. Assertive is defined as, “having or showing a confident and forceful personality”.

Do you personally accept mediocrity, lack initiative and procrastinate in regard to your potential to excel in life? Are you taking the steps necessary to become increasingly assertive in making decisions, accomplishing tasks, and welcoming opportunities to expand into a better you? Personal initiative plus assertiveness eliminates procrastination. A lack of assertiveness and initiative stimulates the fundamental reasons behind procrastination. Those are the fears of failure and the unknown. Without having a confident personality and the belief in yourself to act independently, putting off what you know needs to be done is easy, and sustains those fears. In addition, deciding a task is too difficult or stressful to initiate and complete is only an excuse for not taking ownership for the responsibilities one has created in their personal and professional life. It is the understanding and implementation of your core values that provide the strength to be assertive and take the initiative. Your core values provide a foundation to execute present and future actions. Structured and defined core values in an organization create the blueprint to hold employees accountable as they enable us to hold ourselves accountable. Procrastination diminishes self-esteem because it delays acting on the core values that enhance personal pride and self-respect. If you do not act on what needs to be done, how can you grow as a person and as a professional?

Procrastination can be aligned conceptually to a lack of forgiveness because both behaviors allow for incompletes and unresolved issues. Both human frailties direct energy toward a path that is self-destructive. The burden to carry what still needs to be completed drains the human spirit and stifles initiative. All of us know individuals who cannot let things go whether it be hurts from past relationships, employment or even personal failures. Are you one of those individuals? Procrastinating on not forgiving yourself or others only creates further frustration, anger and disappointment because it directs wasteful energy toward what was, instead of directing productive energy toward what can be. What do you have to lose by being assertive and taking the initiative? If you are honest in your attempt at resolving an issue or accomplishing a task there is nothing to lose, only to gain from the success, or learn from the mistakes made in the process. As many notable leaders have said, “It is better to have tried and failed then to have never tried at all.”

Five basic practices to overcome procrastination are, * a belief in yourself that the task at hand can be accomplished successfully * having the discipline to set aside time and energy to initiate what needs to be completed * managing effectively and following through with the process to its completion * evaluating the completed task by thoroughly reviewing the process to assess ways to improve in the future * celebrating the achievement by appreciating yourself and recognizing those who have assisted in the achievement. Anyone can make a decision not to do something, but if that something is important and contributes to the betterment of you, your family and your profession then step up to the plate, take action, and hit the home run by thinking more of others than yourself. Initiative combined with assertiveness creates a team destined to succeed, and you are that team.



The Sales Professional in All of Us

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Reflecting on a recent presentation I conducted for a medical equipment sales organization, I concluded we are all in the profession of selling. Attributes of a successful sales professional include knowledge of the product, effective organizational and communication skills, competency in time and stress management, an ability to mediate dissension and objections, a high degree of confidence, professionalism, positive attitude, and the ability to provide consistent follow up and exceptional customer service. Although you may not literally sell a product or service, in actuality you sell yourself everyday to those around you, and those you love. You are the product, and how successful are you at selling you? Are you traveling a path of selling success to achieve your goals, and surpass your quota for the year? What are the features and benefits you provide to your customers? What added value do you bring to the people and family members you associate with? Are you knowledgeable about the elements that create the product “you”?

Welcome to Selfless Selling 101, and a few skills to set you on a path to selling success. *How organized are you? With the ever-increasing speed of technology and pace of life, staying organized has become increasingly stressful. However, a lack of organization added to the onslaught of information and speed of living only increases stress and frustration. To better organize your life, pace yourself and slice each task into pieces like a pie, and not attempt to devour the entire dessert. Something as simple as cleaning part of the garage one day, eliminating some stuff you do not need another day, or updating one piece of paperwork (i.e. a will) on another are a sampling of slices. The key is to take an efficient and thoughtful piece each time to ensure the results of your activities are of quality not just quantity, enabling better preparation for tomorrow.

*How are you marketing the product of “you” to your customers? Your ability to communicate effectively is the basis for others to understand who you are, providing an honest representation of what they are buying. *In any selling situation listening is essential and yet it is one of the least taught communication skills. If you do not listen how can you genuinely know what your client needs? In other words, if we do not listen more carefully to the needs of our friends and family how can we effectively ascertain a solution to their concerns and issues. Let us all make a greater effort in making sure we listen, think before we speak, and analyze more effectively than emotionalize.

*With disorganization comes its best friend, improper time management, resulting in tremendous stress and emotional turmoil. Are you keeping appointments with yourself? Are you managing and scheduling your activities constructively? Do you have an appointment book, a planner, a journal, a pattern of behavior and action steps to maintain efficiency and productivity? Proper personal planning does prevent poor personal performance. Take the time to plan your day and strive for a level of consistency to maintain order in your life.

*Selling, as living life, is stressful. What are you doing to alleviate that pressure? Are you eating right, exercising, and taking time to participate in undertakings you enjoy? You can only be as effective for others as you take the time to be effective for yourself. Not taking care of your emotional and physical well-being cannot be used as an excuse to be miserable and ineffective. It is a personal choice to neglect oneself. Any accountable and competent sales professional will tell you selling can be exhausting and draining, and life is no different. To not maintain ones health, energy and stamina through the course of selling, or life, only makes the task at hand more difficult. Personal maintenance allows you to better handle crises, dissention and provides you the courage to handle rejection and objections. *Understanding and practicing the core values that create the product of “you” provides the confidence, ability to be professional, positive, and in the end provide the kind of service that every customer would want and expect. When you close each sale with sincerity, class, and humility there is no doubt you will be awarded sales professional of the year.



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