How Much Do You Notice?

The best leaders see what others miss. They not only see the things that are happening; they also see why those things are happening the way they are. Such insight makes it possible for them to march through life with purpose and hope. Yes, sometimes they get sidetracked, as we all do, but they quickly realize why and how they got off on the wrong road and make immediate corrections. Quite often, success is little more than having the right perspective on what is going on around you.

A few months ago this was driven home to me while reading The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective by Andy Andrews. It tells the story of a drifter named Jones who wandered around a small community sharing life-changing insights with people based on what he noticed in their lives. It was often his ability to notice the little things that others often overlook that gave Jones those insights.

I have to admit that my ability to notice things is spotty. Some days I’m fairly good at observing what’s going on in people’s lives. Other days I’m basically oblivious. I think on the oblivious days I’m in too much of a hurry to take the time needed to notice the little things. That is definitely not a good thing for one who is both a minister and a businessman. I’ve often heard it said that leaders need to learn to walk slowly through crowds, and reading that book has helped me do that better.

One of the reasons I enjoy the auction business so much is that it gives me another way to minister to people. There is always a reason someone wants to see their possessions at an auction, and sometimes those reasons are painful to the one selling. If I am in a hurry and only focused on getting the contract, I will sometimes miss an opportunity to minister to someone at a difficult time in their lives.

Of course, you don’t have to be a minister in order to serve someone. I believe we are all called to encourage and offer hope to hurting people. It does not matter what you do for a living, you are surrounded by hurting people who yearn for a word of hope from someone. The best leaders are servant leaders, and the way we can best serve is by noticing those who are hurting.

I want to encourage you to intentionally try to notice more than you normally do. Slow down a little. Try to hear if there is a story behind the story. Observe how the people around you interact with others. Notice the body language of those you talk to, and the body language of those talking with others. It might take time, but when you begin to see what others are not seeing you will become a better leader in your business, in your family, and in your own personal life.

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Feast or Famine

I’ve struggled this year getting the number of auctions I wanted. My goal was to do about two auctions a month in 2018. Now, I admit that I am a little picky about the auctions I do. Unless the merchandise is good I simply won’t accept it. There are enough $2.00 auction houses in the world. I’m too old to run one. Until I get enough quality items to have a sale I just won’t have one. So far this year I’ve had only two auctions. Suddenly, I find myself with two scheduled for the last two weeks of June.

The first one is June 19, and it will be my usual consignment auction. A gentleman brought me a load of good tools a few weeks ago, and I’ve been sitting on them waiting for more quality items to come in. Finally, I had enough to schedule an auction.

My next auction will be an estate auction on June 30. The gentleman passed away several months ago and we now have his items ready for auction. He was a long-time clock and watch repairman so this auction will feature a lot of great clocks, tools of the trade, some very interesting bins in which he kept repair parts, thousands of repair parts, and an interesting assortment of other quality items. He was quite a collector so we have a wide variety of fascinating items to sell.

Business, and life, is a lot like this. It’s feast or famine. The important thing is to be ready to respond when opportunity comes. I have over 420 pictures posted for the two auctions, and I’ve been asked how I got them posted so quickly. It’s really simple. As items came in, I got pictures of them, downloaded them on my computer, and when I was ready to schedule the auction all I had to do was to load them on the auctionzip website. I didn’t wait until I had everything and then have to spend hours getting the pictures before advertising the auctions. I have found if you work ahead it makes life much easier.

John Maxwell has written, “The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.” Elsewhere he has said that we are all given a choice. We can pay now and play later or play now and pay later. By working ahead whenever possible we eliminate a lot of the stress that comes when our backs are against the wall.  I wish these auctions had been scheduled earlier and there was a little more time between them, but because I stayed on top of them by controlling my daily agenda I am able to do both in a short amount of time.

If you would like to check out what will be sold at these auctions please go to auctionzip.com. In the box that asks for the auction ID type in 36965 to go directly to my auctions. If you live in the area, I invite you to join us. If you are not able to attend but are interested in purchasing something that will be offered, we do accept absentee bids. Contact me so we can discuss my policies on absentee bids. I think you will find them very fair. I have sold and shipped items to buyers in California and Tennessee as well as  to local buyers who could not attend an auction.

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Celebrate the past but live into the future

A number of years ago our family became owners of a successful small business. All of the long-time employees remained, and business was good for several years. Slowly, things began to slow down. We blamed the downturn on a number of things and thought things would return back to normal soon. They didn’t, and then the recession of 2008 hit. We were finished. I published an ebook on the experience titled Mistakes: Avoiding the Wrong Decisions That Will Close Your Small Business to help others avoid the mistakes I made.

One of the major mistakes was believing that what had made that business successful in the past would continue to work in the future. It became easier for our customers to work with our competitors than with us. We thought we had top-of-the-mind (TOMA) awareness in our community and learned that we were not even in the top three businesses people considered. We failed to use the technology available to us that would allow us to work smarter. Although we provided quality products and service, we continued to lose business because we remained stuck in the past.

One of the saddest days of my life was the day everything was sold at auction for pennies on the dollar. All I could think about were the people who had started that business from scratch 40+ years earlier and my employees who now had to find other jobs. It didn’t help that we took a hefty personal financial hit as well.

Looking back I should have celebrated the past instead of trying to continue to live in it. We should have taken advantage of the many technologies and resources that were available to us. I learned too late that what brought us here would not take us there. The field was changing, and we refused to change with it.

Change is never easy. We like to live in our ruts because everyone knows what expected of us. However, we need to remember that a rut is nothing more than a grave with both ends kicked out. Stay in a rut long enough and eventually someone will begin to throw dirt over top of you.

I grew up hearing “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” What I now know is “If it ain’t broke, break it because it’s going to change soon anyway.” If you want to have a successful business, a successful life, a successful family you have to learn to adapt to the changes that are constantly occurring.

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Winning with People

I occasionally speak to groups of pastors and leaders of smaller churches. One of the things I tell them is that if they are not good working with people they will not be successful in a smaller church. In the small church everything depends on relationships. These churches are often called family churches because they function more like families than like organizations.

However, it really doesn’t matter what one does for a living. In most careers the ability to get along with people is crucial for success. A few years ago I encountered a problem with a sales manager of a business. He made some remarks that I considered inappropriate. I knew the owner of the business and sent him a letter explaining what occurred. Two days later the owner was in my office apologizing. He said he had often told his young sales manager that people like doing business with people they like, and he needed to work on his people skills if he wanted to be successful in that business. The following day the sales manager called to apologize. I’ve done business with him ever since, and today that sales manager owns that business.

John Maxwell wrote a book in 2004 that addressed this issue. The book is Winning With People: Discover the People Principles That Work for You Every Time. It is filled with practical principles to help anyone improve his or her people skills. One of my favorite chapters is called “The Bob Principle.” That principle basically states that if Bob has a problem with everyone, Bob is usually the problem.

Haven’t you known Bobs? In their mind, everyone is against them. Everyone stabs them in the back eventually. They don’t trust anyone because sooner or later everyone lets them down. I know one lady who often complained about people who started out being her friend, but eventually they all did something that damaged the relationship. I eventually decided that she may have been the toxic person in those relationships, and it was the poisons she was carrying that damaged the relations she had with those people.

The good news is that Bobs can change. I’ve known some that made some major turn-arounds. The change begins when they realize that the problems they have with other people are not always the fault of the other people. Whenever there is a breakdown in a relationship we need to look in the mirror to see where we may have led to that breakdown. When we do find that we have some responsibility we need to take immediate action to change. We can begin by apologizing to the one we offended. Then we take whatever steps necessary to ensure we don’t do it again.

Learning new ways to win with people will always benefit us and those with whom we relate. Maxwell’s book could be a good place to start. Having a coach to help improve your people skills could also help. Whatever you need to do, find new ways to win with people.

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The Power of Coaching

A few years ago when I was on staff of our regional ministries we were trained in coaching. Since then I have been privileged to have coached a number of people in and out of ministry. My doctoral thesis was on the impact coaching had on bivocational ministers, and my last book focused on what I learned in that project. I find coaching one of the most powerful tools a person can use to change their lives. I have personally benefited from having a life coach, and I believe I’ve added value to those persons I’ve coached.

One of the reasons coaching is so powerful is that it draws from the person being coached many of the answers to their questions. Good coaching isn’t counseling or mentoring. The coach does not come into the relationship as an expert with all the answers, but through the asking of powerful questions it helps the person being coached find many of those answers from within. One of the highlights for me in a coaching relationship occurs when I ask the person a question and the phone goes completely silent. I know that person is on the edge of a major breakthrough in their thinking.

Although I have coached people face-to-face most of my coaching has occurred over the telephone. This has enabled me to coach persons across the United States and even one in Canada. I live in Indiana, and when I had a life coach she was in Atlanta. Each call lasts 45-60 minutes which is long enough to be effective. We typically space the calls out about two weeks apart which gives the person being coached time to complete whatever assignments we’ve agreed upon before the next session.

Another reason coaching is so powerful is that it always works from the needs of the person being coached. At the start of every coaching call we review the assignment to see how it went, and then I ask the person what they would like to address in this call. The person being coached always sets the agenda for every session. That way we know that we are working on whatever is most important to that person in every coaching session.

Many companies now hire Executive Coaches for their senior leadership because they have found it to be a good investment for their companies. Professional people are hiring coaches to help them sort through the many challenges they face in their careers. Many others are hiring life coaches to help them make major decisions in their lives or to just figure out how to be successful in life.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of having a life coach, please contact me. Because of my ministry and the auction business I limit the number of people I coach at one time, but I would be glad to discuss if coaching might be a good option for you.

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Appraisals

Occasionally, auctioneers are asked to write an appraisal for an estate. Many people do not realize that there are different types of appraisals for personal property, and the appraised value of the estate will depend on which type of appraisal is being written. Some of the more common are

  • Fair market value which is often defined as “The highest price estimated in terms of money which the property will bring if exposed to sale in the open market by a seller who is willing but not obligated to sell, allowing a reasonable time to find a buyer who is willing but not obligated to buy, both parties having full knowledge of all the uses to which it is adapted and for which it is capable of being used.”
  • Auction value which may be defined as “An opinion of the gross amount expressed in terms of money that typically could be realized from a properly advertised and conducted public auction, with the seller being compelled to sell with a sense of immediacy on an as-is, where-is basis, on a specific date.

There are many more types of appraisals that can be given, but these are the ones most people considering an auction are interested in. One can readily see the difference between the two. The Fair Market Value takes in consideration an open time frame to sell the property to a person interested in buying it. There is no rush to either buy or sell the property which allows the seller to expect a higher price for it.

On the other hand, an Auction Value appraisal recognizes that the property is going to be sold on a selected date to the highest bidder who often is interested in paying the least amount of money to purchase the item. Sometimes people are interested to purchasing a particular item at auction regardless of the price, but most people go to auctions looking for good buys. While the seller might not receive the most money possible for the items being sold, it does allow the seller to be rid of the items and earn some money as well.

Someone might be asking why sell at auction if he or she could get more for it by selling it themselves. It’s a fair question. The trade-off is the amount of time and effort you will spend trying to get the maximum price for your items versus being able to sell everything at one time. Many people, especially those who have inherited an estate, need to dispose of the property quickly to be able to pay the estate’s expenses or to be able to move on with their lives. In the case of a divorce an auction might be the best way to divide the property, especially if there are disagreements in who gets what. Sell everything and divide the money equally, and if one party wants something they can buy it at the auction.

It’s also important to remember that some items actually will sell more at an auction than they might at a private sale. Anyone who attends auctions regularly can tell of items that brought more at an auction than one could purchase the same item brand new. Sellers can’t count on that, but it does occasionally happen. It only takes two people interested in an item to drive up the price.

If you ask an auctioneer for an appraisal of your property, be sure to identify which type of appraisal you want and why you want it. Remember that an appraisal is just that; it is not a guarantee that you will get that amount for your items. You may get more, you may get less; it all depends on who attends the auction interested in your items. Finally, be sure to discuss the cost of an appraisal. Most auctioneers will give you a free verbal appraisal on individual items, but if you want an appraisal of your entire estate there will usually be a cost associated with that.

We had a great auction two weeks ago and we are now receiving items for our next auction. The date has not been set for that auction which means we still have room for more consignments. Contact us soon if you would like to sell in our next auction.

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You get done what you spend time doing

I returned to school at the age of  35 when I enrolled in a Bible college. One of my professors that first semester often made a statement that has remained with me for 35 years: You get done what you spend time doing. It’s a statement that has enabled me to accomplish far more than I would have ever thought possible. It has helped keep me focused on the most important things in my life, and it has helped me maintain a measure of balance in my life.

Each of us are given 24 hours in a day. What we accomplish during those 24 hours depends on whether we give priority to the most important things we need to accomplish that day or if we allow others to set our schedules. Believe me, if we do not take charge of our calendars, others will, and they will seldom have the same priorities for our lives that we have.

There are few things more frustrating than to end the day realizing that you’ve accomplished almost nothing you had planned. Sometimes that cannot be helped. Emergencies do occur. But most of the time we do not accomplish much during a day because we did not plan the day well or we allowed others to interfere with our plans. Just because someone believes they have an emergency does not make it one.

So many things rob us of the time we need to spend on truly important activities. Social media, responding to endless e-mails, unnecessary meetings, people who stop by because they have nothing else to do can fill up a day and keep us from accomplishing the important tasks we need to do.

The only way around this is to take personal charge of your time. As much as possible, you set the agenda for your day. Control your calendar and make sure it addresses your priorities. Schedule certain times of the day to check emails and social media so you’re not stopping every time you hear a ding. Remind yourself you do not have to answer the phone every time it rings. Let voice mail answer your calls. If they think it’s important the will leave a message, and if you think it is important you can return the call or save it for a time you’ve set aside to return all your calls.

I’m sure some people think I’m hard to reach, but I learned long ago how valuable my time is. If I want to accomplish the things I believe are the most important to me I have to set aside sufficient time to accomplish them. I’ve learned to say no to people who have asked me to participate in something I did not feel would be the best use of my time. There is seldom a day that goes by that I don’t remind myself that I will get done what I spend time doing, so I try to spend the majority of my time doing the most important things.

One last note. Do not schedule your calendar so full that you do not have time to respond to genuine emergencies or other events that need your time and attention. Build margin in your life. Block out chunks of time in your calendar each week so you’ll have the necessary margin available if it’s needed. If it’s not needed you can always find something to fill that time slot, but if it is needed it will be there for you.

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