How to Stay Flexible … Do Away with Your Superstitions

As you probably have guessed by now, one of my favorite writers is Seth Godin whose monthly column in the magazine Fast Company always makes me think, because of the interesting spin he puts on regular topics.

In the July issue, he spoke of superstitions. A superstition is "a compulsion to take an action that has no influence on the desired outcome." Godin writes, "There's plenty we do - plenty we've always done - that has nothing to do with what actually works. But once we've made up our minds … we don't want to change our behavior, regardless of how much data we see to support a new and better alternative.It's easier to be superstitious …"

The more I thought about what Godin is saying, the more I realized that in this tricky and, sometimes, disappointing economy, it is important for free agents, independent professionals and freelancers to do away with their superstitions by becoming more flexible (and I am not speaking here of physical flexibility even though that is also a good thing). In this article I am going to share my "take" on change and flexibility by doing away with superstitions.

Let's examine our modus operandi. If you have more and better business than you can even handle, you can probably skip this whole article. Your procedures and approaches are working the way they should be. But, if you feel that you can handle and also deserve more work, then I suggest it is time to examine what your beliefs and superstitions are. What actions that used to work are no longer working for you and your business? What marketing tools - like direct mail and cold calling - are now a waste of time and money? What would work better? How about an e-newsletter? An article in a magazine or on the Internet? A free workshop given to potential clients? Is there some action you have taken in the past that didn't work then, yet may work now? It may be time to try again. Times have changed.

Is it time to re-examine and upgrade our talents and skills? There was a time when having an MBA seemed to be all one needed to be hired and rise to the top of the pack. Now, the people I know who do have that coveted MBA sound a bit disillusioned. It is not enough anymore. What we have today in the way of college credits and degrees are still important, but potential clients are more interested in the addition of excellent communication skills that include presenting, writing and interaction with others. Information Technology (IT) experts can no longer rely only on their technical expertise for results and Certifications. They must now learn how to speak, to network, to market and to sell.

There are many ways to start changing and growing:

  • Join a Toastmasters International group. This incredibly helpful organization offers a platform (usually weekly) where those who wish to improve their speaking skills meet, practice and receive positive help and feedback from others in the group.
  • Surf the Internet and sign up for e-newsletters that appear to be helpful. I can barely believe all of the opportunities that abound on the Internet in the way of receiving and sharing helpful information on marketing. Of course, one of my all-time favorites is Robert Middleton HERE. His weekly newsletter is the one that I read word-for-word and his Marketing Manual is worth gold. If you purchase it, you become a member of the InfoGuru yahoo group where we interact daily with other InfoGurus from all over the world. By helping each other, we have formed a marketing community.
  • Sign up for free teleseminars. Many from the Internet community are now offering free teleseminars. All this will cost you is the time and the phone bill for the time involved (the calls are billed to you). Most last for an hour to an hour and a half. I have learned so many new techniques through the generous sharing of ideas and methods that I have revised my whole marketing plan.
  • Rethink the ways you use or don't use your computer. Are there programs that aren't really helping you and your career any longer? What financial program do you use? What contact management program? Are you wasting a great deal of time on meaningless e-mail? Do you need to add to and/or upgrade your skills? Would this help you find more lucrative and satisfying work?
  • Take some new classes. There are classes on the Internet - some free and some quite reasonably priced. There are also continuing education offerings at local schools and colleges.
  • Start networking with a new group of people. This is one way to not only improve your communication and people skills, but also a way to find out about other opportunities and good organizations to join.
  • Volunteer to do some job in your organization where you will either use your strengths and/or learn some new skills. You will also find that the contacts you make here will be invaluable to your career.

Then, there is the one superstition that I believe and continues to work for me. By being honest, willing to work hard and long, living and working with a sense of urgency, and always doing my best and more than my clients expect, I will always have lots of work - and I do. Let me know how you are doing. I love to receive your FEEDBACK!


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