When you are enthusiastic about what you do, you feel this positive energy. It's very simple.

Paulo Coelho de Souza - Brazilian lyricist and novelist
At this Time of Year, make time to Review, Revise and Revitalize

At this Time of Year, make time to Review, Revise and Revitalize

Posted by martin.parnell |

As September comes around, once again, our thoughts turn to Fall activities. Whether it’s putting away your Summer wardrobe, raking the leaves or enjoying the sunflowers, it’s a new season and a time of change. Many people will be sweeping up the dead leaves and planting bulbs, in anticipation of Spring. 

Sweeping away the old and thinking about things to come could be part of your Fall plan for the workplace. Why not take a look at where you are with some of your projects, goals, working practices, staffing structure and other aspects of your business and see if there are areas where you might get rid of some things that are no longer relevant, have run their course or never really took off. 

It’s not necessarily a time for big changes, but you could look at this as a time to start planting some fresh ideas, thinking about where you want to be come next Spring, share ideas and mull over the direction in which you want to go. According to SunSigns.org, “The symbolism of September month focuses on refocusing our energies.” 

Even if you don’t feel the need to make changes, it could be that you do need to just refocus your energy and regain some enthusiasm for what you are already doing.  But, that may be easier said than done. 

You may be fully committed to a particular project, but if it is one that is going to take some time to complete. I found a piece from the team at Liquid Planner on “How to Stay Motivated When You’re Working on a Never-Ending Project”.

Posted on February 14, 2019, it is full of ideas and I’ve highlighted some of them for you: 

1. Focus on small, meaningful wins.

Bite-sized accomplishments are the key. Give yourself one meaningful task a day. To up the ante, make it something that stretches you a bit. It doesn’t have to be around the project either. Examples include having a conversation with your boss or team member that you’ve been putting off or talking to the customer about how to bring this project out of the sphere of infinity.

2. Make a game out of keeping the project aligned with business goals.

Big projects are like epic stories; it’s easy to forget the beginning of the narrative when you’re a year into it and there’s a lot more to write. Study the project schedule to see if the work completed and the tasks left to be done are consistent with the goals and deliverables agreed to on Day 1. Make sure your priorities are up to date, and if not, start communicating, updating, and reworking the project plan.

3. Cross tasks off your list!

If you’re waiting on dependencies, change orders, or decisions to be confirmed on the part of the customer or stakeholder, it can be tempting to rework an existing project task into the ground to keep yourself from being idle. Unless something really needs to be updated or improved upon, however, let it be and mark it done.

4. Reassess your goals.

If you’re facing a project stall, dipping back into your career goals and job commitments are always useful and could be inspiring. You might be able to cross off some, update them, or use them to help solve some problems or answer some lingering questions that exist on your current project. This exercise also reminds you of the big picture you’re heading toward as you get mired down in the details (or lack thereof).

5. Give yourself side assignments.

It’s important to feel like you’re accomplishing something every day, but when your project feels like it’s sprawling into no man’s land, it’s hard to get that satisfaction. Make yourself useful in other ways. See if you can contribute to other projects. Reach out to other teams or team members and see how you can pitch in. Offer yourself up as an objective eye or ear or to be an extra welcome resource. If you’ve ever wanted to be a mentor or volunteer in your professional field, this could be a great time.

6. Keep your team members challenged.

If you’re a manager, pay attention to the mood of your team. Keep their minds engaged by asking questions and delegating work that challenges people in their roles and prepares them for the next level of their career.

7. Learn something new.

If your enthusiasm is flagging or you’re feeling burned out, what would get you excited? Make a list and follow through. Ideas could include learning a new skill or training to become a leader or a mentor inside or outside your organization. Ask your manager for ideas. It’s hard to feel bored or restless when you’re learning.

8. Remember that long projects end.

When you’re in the middle of a big project (or any challenging experience), it feels like it will never end. But, it will! Even if it’s the worst disaster of a project you have ever experienced, you will walk away with something. If you look at work as a way to keep learning, growing, and developing, the truth is the difficult experience is the best experience you will ever have. Make it worth your while.”

Whether you are making a clean sweep, planning for the future or simply revitalising existing projects, this may be a good time to take a look at the state of your business and review your current situation.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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The odds of hitting your target go up dramatically when you aim at it.

Mal Pancoast - President and Founder of Breakthrough
How to Achieve Success by setting Targets and Goals

How to Achieve Success by setting Targets and Goals

Posted by martin.parnell |

On Thursday September 4th, one of our local newspapers, the Cochrane Eagle, published my latest monthly article, entitled “How a little support can help you achieve your goal.”                           

In it, I wrote about the importance of setting goals to achieve a desired result. In this case, it was the formation of a Stoney Nakoda Girl’s U-18, volleyball team, made up of young women from the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley First Nations and their efforts to raise money to take them to the Alberta Indigenous Games, in Edmonton.

To achieve this, founder and Coach Joey Wesley set up a GoFundMe page and contributions were made by a number of groups and individuals including the Nakoda Youth Council, the Rotary Club of Cochrane, Banff Lodging Company and Communitea Café among others. 

On the same day, as my article appearing, I read a piece by Doug Alexander, in the Financial Post, entitled HSBC Wins Title In Canada. It relates to the fact that “HSBC Holdings PLC’s Canadian bank has achieved something most financial firms can only aspire to: gender parity at its upper echelons.” 

This struck a chord with me, as I saw it as an achievement in goal setting, which happens to be the focus of much of my writing. I also include it as an essential part of my workshop sessions, as I feel it’s an integral part of any undertaking if you wish to be successful. 

I mentioned, to my wife, Sue, the coincidence of the two articles coming out, on the same day and she asked me a question “What is the difference between a goal and a target?” This made me pause for thought and led to an interesting discussion about how to define and differentiate the two. 

I refereed to my old friend the Oxford English Dictionary and came to the conclusion that: a goal is “the object of effort or ambition, an aim or desired result” and a target is “something selected as an object of attention or attack”. 

So, the way I interpret the two articles: 

Joey Wesley’s goal was to form a volleyball team and take them to the Alberta Indigenous Games. His targets was to raise enough funds to get them there. 

The goal of Sandra Stuart, Canadian chief executive at HSBC was gender parity, her target “requiring those in middle management and above to ensure their businesses were comprised of at least 30% women”. 

This was no small task and Stuart began putting policies in place more than five years ago, in order to achieve her goal and, in the end, she achieved it by setting specific targets. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t go in to the specifics of those targets, which I’m sure would have proved enlightening, but it does tell us how important the practice proved. 

In the Financial Post article, Alexander quotes Stuart as saying “The game- changer was targets” and goes on to explain that “if you hit them you got a green; if you didn’t hit them you got a red.” She suggests other CEOS should implement the same strategy “I wouldn’t be shy to put the targets in front of your leadership team and I wouldn’t be shy to have the discussion at the board.”

However, as I see it, whether setting a target or a goal, having something to aim at can only help you succeed in your endeavour.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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I'm very strict with my packing and have everything in its right place. I never change a rule. I hardly use anything in the hotel room. I wheel my own wardrobe in and that's it.

Charlie Watts - Drummer with the Rolling Stones
If you Have Baggage, make sure it’s the Right Baggage

If you Have Baggage, make sure it’s the Right Baggage

Posted by martin.parnell |

On Monday September 16th, my wife, Sue and I are heading off to Ontario. During our trip, we will be attending a variety of events, from a Rotary Conference, in Niagara Falls, a speaking engagement and book signing at a college, to Cinefest film festival, in Sudbury. This is for the premiere of The Secret Marathon, a film that documents my first trip to Afghanistan, in support of women and girls who strive to obtain the freedom to run. 

One dilemma, when traveling for various situations, is what to pack. We will be staying in different hotels and will be expected to dress business casual for most of the time, formal for two of the dinners and casual when visiting friends and, for the film festival, who knows? Our film is being shown on a Sunday morning, so definitely not “red carpet”. 

One trick my wife employs is to base her wardrobe around one colour. When she went to the UK, for five weeks, last Spring, it was blue. This time, as some of the outfits need to be more formal, she’s opting for black. Another trick she uses is to take scarves and costume jewellery, so that, even if her whole outfit is black, she can brighten it up, very simply. So, a pair of black pants, a black dress, a pair of black culottes and all she need is a selection of simple tops and a couple of lightweight jackets.

For me, it’s a matter of how many shirts?  I have two or three that require no ironing, so they are a must. If necessary, I can rinse them out and let them hang-dry overnight. 

Also, for the Rotary Conference, I have a black polo shirt with the Rotary logo on the front – perfectly acceptable for daytime. Two pairs of shoes, one black, one brown will be enough to cover all contingencies (although, in my case, a pair of running shoes have to be in there, as well as my running shorts and a couple of tops). 

When attending events, like a conference, you never know, in advance, what the temperature is going to be like, in the hosting hotel.  I have sat for a couple of hours at a time either feeling too hot or very chilly. Make sure you feel comfortable in whatever you are wearing, be prepared to remove a layer, if necessary or add a sweater, just in case. 

Sue always puts a lightweight shawl in her purse or carry-on, so as not to be caught out, if the temperature is on the cool side. Put one complete outfit in your carry-on, there’s nothing worse than arriving somewhere, only to find your suitcase has been lost or will be arriving the next day and you only have the clothes you travelled in. 

Make sure whatever shoes you take are comfortable. Sue offers this advice to the ladies, in particular:  “Those new heels might look and feel great, when you try them out in the store, or just wear them to dinner. But, when you have to stand around in them for an hour of “mixing and mingling, or it turns out there’s dancing after dinner, you might wish you’d stuck to something flatter or a wedge heel.  I have a pair of little black, suede boots that have a low heel, but a cut-out design at the side, so I can wear them with pants, but they still look great with a black dress, for evening.” 

A couple of plain tee-shirts are a good idea, they can be worn under a jacket or as an extra layer, if the temperature drops. I’m sure anyone who travels a lot will have far more advice than I can give and there’s always the debate as to whether rolling or folding is best. 

Try not to fret too much, if you’re staying in a hotel, you should have access to a laundry service if you should need it and most hotel rooms will have an iron. 

Main message? Keep it simple, be comfortable and don’t forget your toothbrush. 

And finally here’s a tip from actor, Robert Powell: “When you get back from a trip, make a note of what you didn't wear. This will avoid packing it unnecessarily next time.”

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in the fall of 2019. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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