Archive for March, 2015

Keeping It Simple

March 24th, 2015

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“You can’t be your best self if your life is cluttered with the non-essential”

– Greg McKeown

It’s a word that is used every day by almost all of us. For many of us, our lives seem to not only be busy but getting busier with every waking minute and week that passes by.

It’s all too easy however to find ourselves caught in a sea of ‘busyness quicksand’ that leaves us both unproductive and stuck. Stuck with unforgiving diaries that see us stretched too thin. Stuck feeling like our time is constantly being hijacked by everyone else’s schedule. Stuck with problematic team members. Stuck in unfulfilling careers and doing things that simply aren’t us.

When you feel ‘stuck’ you are more often than not, running flat out, burning lots of energy and going nowhere fast. Finding yourself on the hamster wheel is exhausting, unfulfilling and unsustainable. The tricky thing is that by the time you realise you are on it; you are already spinning so fast that jumping off seems impossible and downright dangerous. The key to jumping off the wheel is recognising that it is nothing more than a routine – a routine that you firstly created and one you can absolutely change.

Greg McKewon, author of the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, makes a powerful case for achieving more by doing less. In his book he talks to the need to firstly understand and then adopt the discipline – and it is a discipline – of discerning what is absolutely essential and then eliminating what is not. In doing so you not only ensure that you are focused on making the greatest possible contribution to what is truly important for you, but you also take back the control for your own choices about where you invest your precious time and energy resources.

For many of us when we decide to simplify things, we approach it like we do when we de-clutter our wardrobe. We firstly wait until it is at bursting point when we can’t fit anything else in; or when everything is so worn out we ‘retire’ items to the bin. We then set about filling it back up with similar things that are just shinier and newer rather than thinking about what it is that we actually need.[vcex_spacing size=”10px”]As McKeown notes, mastering the art of Essentialism is two fold. Firstly it is a mindset, followed by some key actions (which he refers to as Exploring, Eliminating and Executing). The attached model is a great demonstration of the way people with Non-Essentialist versus Essentialist attitudes think and act – and what they ultimately get.

It is not just a matter of sitting down and taking a bunch of the non-essential things off the list or out of the diary. Equally important is determining what the essentials are and prioritising them in the calendar.

None of us want to get to the end of our lives wishing that we had been brave enough to take the leap – what ever that leap may be – to live the best version of ourselves. In McKeown’s words, avoiding this sad end ‘requires not just haphazardly saying no, but purposefully, deliberately and strategically eliminating the non-essentials which means not just getting rid of the obvious time wasters, but cutting out some really good opportunities as well’.

So a few suggestions for adopting the Keeping It Simple approach:

  • Understand you hold the power of choice
  • Conduct an audit on what is truly essential for you, your career or business and your life
  • Master the art of saying No
  • Own your space (diary) – both personally and professionally
  • Check in weekly: Is this the right routine? Does it need tweaking?
  • Diarise your own quarterly review to ensure that you are focusing on the essential

[vc_single_image image=”669″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=””]Source: Greg McKeown – The Model of Essentialism[vcex_spacing size=”10px”]Whatever you have on your plate at the moment, got there because you said yes to it. What we keep in our plate and how we manage it is up to us.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.[vcex_spacing size=”10px”][vc_single_image image=”620″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”126″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If you would like to discuss ways to assist you or your team gain clarity on what is essential, please contact Margot directly on or +61 3 9866 3842.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”88″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”″]

The Power of Calling A Time Out

March 17th, 2015

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‘People over-estimate what they can do in a single day and under-estimate what they can do in their whole lives’
[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]Earlier this week I returned from a 4-day business leadership and vitality retreat that was set in the most beautiful surrounds on the Queensland coast. Our days were filled with yoga on the beach, swimming, leadership and health focused workshops, fabulous food, and spa treatments, amazing company and stimulating conversations. It was heaven!

Not only did it spur ideas, challenge thinking, introduce new relationships and present brilliant new opportunities, it offered each of us a moment to truly reflect and connect. Simply taking the time to pause, move slower and with more considered thought seemed to breathe new life into ideas and spark new excitement and purpose in what we do and why we do it.

So why is it that for many of us taking the time out from our busy lives, our business or career is deemed such a luxury that we not only feel guilty but selfish. Taking time for you is not an indulgence. It’s a necessity. It’s a great way to refocus, re-energize and increase our capability to give out more authentically and meaningfully. Give out to our teams, our colleagues, our families, friends and community.

We have somehow convinced ourselves – and often those around us – that we are so busy that finding the time to grab a coffee, pause for a lunch break or simply ask someone how their day is going is a luxury rather than a necessity. We measure our value (and sometimes importance) by packing our calendars with events and meetings, and our success by how many things we do and in how fast we can do it. We become so busy ticking things off our To Do list that we forget why we are doing them or worse still if they are adding meaning and value to us, our businesses or our clients and customers.

For those of you who have played team sports, you will be familiar with the time-out rule. Designed to regroup, refocus and unify a team, it allows the coach to gain insight into what is happening on the field and what the next step should be. It also allows the players to catch their breath. It’s a time to revisit the strategy, regroup and agree what the next steps should be to win the game and achieve the desired success.

This principle of calling ‘time-out’ is critical for us as individuals and also for the teams and businesses that we lead. For those of us in leadership positions we know the value off-site days, team events and conferences can bring when organized with purpose and thought. Bringing people together, breaking momentum, creating opportunities to see those around us as people first and colleagues’ second; and giving space for all to share ideas, voice opinions and align talents. It’s the equivalent of a coach calling the team off the court for a ‘time-out’ to regroup, refocus, build agreement and unify in the team.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]Tips for calling time-out:

  • Keep your finger on the pulse: If a coach is smart, they call time out when they see their team flagging or the competition gaining momentum. Just as we are the coach of our own lives and our teams, we need to be able to determine when the critical and most effective moment for time-out is.
  • Do things that invigorate you / your team: Identify the things and/or activities that bring inspiration and creativity and generate energy for what it is that you do.
  • Set your time out period as a priority: Giving time-out the value and priority it deserves is essential if it is to create lasting value. If it’s not in the diary it invariably won’t happen so find the time to prioritise it and lock it away.
  • Communicate your ‘time-out’ to those closest to you: In order for others to respect the time needed and the value that it brings to you, you need to communicate it with those around you. Gathering support for what you are doing will help you value the time you are gifting yourself and or your team.
  • Ensure that after your time-out you return to ‘the game’: To win the game you need to get back on the court – otherwise you will remain on the bench and watch others assume your position (or opportunity). Returning with clarity, focus and energy will allow you to play out your winning moves, enjoy the progress and opportunities ahead.

The need for genuine and constructive time-out has never been more apparent – both for ourselves and for our teams and businesses. All too often it is where the creative solutions and winning moves are formulated. In today’s crazy, fast paced world where so many of us are rarely afforded the space and opportunity to think clearly, plan and really connect with each other the offer of time-out can be our game-changer. All we have to do is lock it away in the diary – it’s up to us to make it a priority.

Margot Signature FINAL

[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”126″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If you would like to discuss ways to effectively manage and call time out with purpose for you or your team, please call Margot on 0400 336 318.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”88″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”″]

Whose Track Are You On?

March 10th, 2015


“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus”

– Bruce Lee

With the excitement of the New Year well and truly behind us, we find ourselves at the business end of ‘creating and doing’ to make our new goals become a reality. We’ve celebrated the fresh beginnings, boldly stated our desires and plans for 2015 and now with the end of the first quarter less than three weeks away, we should be starting to reflect and celebrate some of our early milestones.

So it’s time to be honest and ask ourselves the question Am I Still On MY Track? Am I focused on what my career goals are, or have I allowed distractions to creep in or worse still other people’s plans to hijack mine? Am I on track but merely coasting and plodding along? Or have I encountered the dreaded stage fright of not being able to quite take the leap that I know I need to, in order to get where I want to go?

If you were to conduct a quarterly review on your 2015 plans, how would your rate your performance?[vcex_spacing size=”10px”]We all know that if you want to succeed in any aspect of your life, be it your career, your health, your financial and/or personal goals you need to master the art of focus. Simply desiring something is not enough. It takes getting clear about your purpose – and your why – and then getting about the business of making it happen.

As Steve Jobs also famously pointed out, focus is also about saying No. Described as a talented editor he was highly regarded for knowing what and what not to include in a product and project: ‘People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully’. Learning how to say ‘No’ allows us to develop the laser-like focus that saves us from running off in 20 different directions.[vc_single_image image=”598″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]I would encourage you take the time in the coming weeks to stop and reflect on how your first few months have unfolded. Celebrate any milestones; identify the distractions and check to ensure that you are still on YOUR track for creating the career path that you want. Consider the following in your time of reflection:

  1. (Re)Connect with your why: You are not going to achieve laser like focus without being crystal clear about what you want. Understand what drives you, what excites and allow your goals to pull you forward.
  2. Identify what success looks like: Know the end goal and understand what the incremental milestones are. Remember success breeds success so it is important to celebrate the small wins as you go.
  3. Revisit your plan: We all need a roadmap for where we are heading. Ask yourself what do I need to achieve, master, complete in order to support my end goal? Is the map still relevant today or does it need to be tweaked based on what has transpired in the first three months this year?
  4. Know your distractions: Keep it clean and lean! Know what it is that distracts you and remove them from your high productive work times – clutter, noise, social media, unnecessary emails, phone calls or meetings.
  5. Identify the three most essential building blocks: What are the high value tasks that will create solid foundations to build upon?
  6. Build your cheer squad: Who can you share your goals with that will both support you and hold you accountable? We all need a cheer squad and circle of influence that champion our efforts, challenge our thinking and help us celebrate our wins.
  7. Diarise your next review: Regular reviews help us maintain focus on the outcomes, generate energy, remain nimble and if necessary realign our efforts to ensure success is ultimately achieved.

Laser-like focus means aligning ALL of your beliefs, thoughts and efforts with your goal – day in and day out. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenges, new scenarios to navigate or unexpected events that arise. It does however ensure that we remain connected to our purpose and subsequently prevents us from being sidelined by the agendas and timelines of others. Quite simply, mastering the art of focus helps us remain on OUR track and reach our goals both personally and professionally.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”126″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If you would like support to build focus and success in your career, please contact Margot directly on or +61 3 9866 3842.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”88″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”″]

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