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Douglas Vermeeren – Are you a slave to a proactive person?

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Reactive people are always slaves to proactive people. Think about it. The proactive person is the one who starts a company and if you are reactive he is your boss. The Proactive person in a relationship knows what they want and moves towards it, while the reactive person is compliant. (And because of that often a toxic nag and complainer.) The proactive person is a leader while the reactive is the follower. And the list could go on.

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Everywhere in reality those who are proactive enlist the help of the reactive. Often the proactive will say and experiences situations where they are unemployable. They have either made too much money or have too much drive to fit in as an employee. No one can pay them what they believe they could make on their own. Once a proactive person has experienced what they can create on their own they never dare return to reactive situation where they allow another person to dictate the activities of their day.

Each person has areas in their life where they are more proactive and reactive. My challenge to you today is to consider what areas of your life you could be more proactive with. In each area you choose to become more proactive and self-reliant your freedom grows.

Douglas Vermeeren – Finding Mentors

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Douglas Vermeeren PPM 15

4 suggestions for having better meetings

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Effective meetings

Effective meetings

4 suggestions for having better meetings

By Douglas Vermeeren

If you’re like me meetings are a part of your everyday life. You attend meetings through out the day at work, meetings with your team, meetings with you boss, a sales presentation, a meeting with a client, you might even attend meetings during the week outside of work,  for your church or for a community organization. And at home there will be even more meetings waiting for you as a spouse needs to discuss a child’s behavior, the family budget or  an upcoming holiday. Meetings are all around us.

While some meetings are more formal than others, the quality of any organization is amplified or diminished by the quality of it’s meetings.

If you are a leader of other people, a manager, a team leader, a CEO, a head of an organization or even a parent in a family. You will need to learn how to improve your skills in a meeting and working with other people in groups. The following are four suggestions that will help in all meeting settings:

Prepare – Preparation is an important factor in creating successful meetings. Too often most people limit their view of what a meeting is. They think it consists of a beginning and middle and an end. They often assume that just showing up and getting into the groove of things as the meeting begins will create fantastic results.  While we don’t have time in this setting to share all the elements of a correct meeting, let me add one significant addition to the beginning, middle and end tradition. That addition is preparation.

Preparation can take place in many ways. It can cover everything from establishing a venue, to building a power point presentation, to inviting attendees and so forth. The one element of preparation that I would like to focus on in this conversation is simply think about what you want to accomplish at the meeting, prepare how you will present your position and determine ahead of time what success looks like.

If you go into the meeting knowing what you want, prepared with a way to discuss what you want your chances of getting it increase dramatically.

As I have met with business leaders and high level executives through out my business career I have found one common thing amongst them. They don’t have time for chit chat and to fiddle around an idea before getting to the heart of a matter. If you are not prepared for a meeting you often don’t get a second chance.

And if you are supposed to be a leader of people, yet you continually conduct meetings without preparation you will soon find people less than eager to attend your meetings.

Yet if you are prepared ahead of time and know precisely what you want you will gain the respect of others and the next time you call for a meeting those attending will know that they can count on you to be prepared and the time will be worth while.

Action point: Prepare ahead of time. Make an agenda or even a meeting plan that can keep you on track with the most important issues. And if you are a meeting attendee make notes ahead of time in regards to things that you want to address or have questions about. it’s always a good idea to share those questions prior to the meeting with the group leader so these can be addressed.

Use your time well – Of all the resources we have as humans, the most fragile and difficult to replace is our time. As far as meetings go the idea that ‘if you plan to use three hours for a meeting, it will take three hours’ is true. It is important to remember that the amount of time you spend in a meeting isn’t what makes the meeting successful, rather meeting success is measure by what is accomplished. Often times the most difficult issues do not take long to solve when the attention of a group is focused and concentrated.

How you use your time in a meeting also sets the pace of everything outside of the meeting as well. If leaders show that they understand the importance of time in the meeting they train their teams to respect time outside the meeting.

Always start and end on time. If something wasn’t covered that needs to be covered schedule a second meeting in the near future. in my experience with meetings I have found that once a leader violates a commitment to keep a meeting within a specific time frame he begins to lose the trust and confidence of his team.

Here are two suggestion to help you keep on track with time. In meeting agendas I try to assign the discussion topics a specific discussion time limit. I assign a team member to watch a timer and keep us on track. With the items listed in priority the most important issues are addressed and solve first.

The second suggestion in regards to time is to have every keep time. At the beginning of a meeting it is a fantastic idea to have everyone pull out their smart phones and set the timer to countdown the time of the meeting. This let’s everyone know you mean business, time is valuable and is a subtle way of reminding people to keep their thoughts and comments on track.

I remember the first business meeting that I did this with. I set my smart phone with the timer counting down in the middle of the table and expressed that we only had a limited amount of time to talk today and that I wanted to respect his business schedule.  The person I was meeting appreciated the gesture and felt impressed that we had made the time to be together specific and valuable.  That may have been reward enough, but I really saw it pay off in a big way when his phone rang in the middle of our conversation. But rather than answer it he clicked it to off and said, “I’ll get that later. We’re almost of time.”

Time is valuable. How you use it will teach others much about how you do business and take care of other things in your life.

And no… Meetings don’t have to take an hour. That feeling of having hour meetings is a left over from our days in school. School classes were an hour so most people feel that a good meeting ought to be the same. My most effective meetings are 15 minutes for small issues, 45 minutes for larger issues. Aiming at under an hour also changes the way our brain thinks about communication. For some reason in our minds there is the idea that an hour is a long time and so most people are a little more casual and chatty in an hour meeting, yet just a small shift to 45 minutes makes us a little more careful and we focus more carefully on the heart of the matter.

Take notes – Naturally we’ve all heard about how taking notes increases our ability to recall and remember information. You’ve also probably heard about how writing things down in a meeting shows respect to the speaker. You may even have thought that by writing things down you are creating a great record of your groups minutes. All of these things are true.

But I’d like to add one more than is important to consider in a meeting setting. The principle is called ‘Group Awareness.’ Group Awareness is a principle of accountability. If a concern or suggestion is brought forward in a meeting and no one cares or shows interest, the possibility of something happening to solve it or address it diminishes. By creating group awareness a subtle pressure is created in the group. If someone commits to do something or finds an answer and they see that a note has been made of it they are now more likely to follow through.  And naturally if that person in the group see you taking notes on their commitments too they will also make sure they have it recorded correctly. And when people feel that their commitment to perform has been noted their performance usually happens.

Taking notes in meetings is a must. I still remember the first significant full day meeting I went to as a 19 year old. I did not take notes in that meeting. I did not even have a note book with me. The leader of the meeting afterwards mentioned he noticed that I didn’t have a note book with me. He didn’t ask me why there was no notebook, instead he asked what did I learn today.

I told him a few things that I remembered, which wasn’t very much much. He asked, “Is that what you got out of the entire day?” I was embarrassed and I shrugged. He smiled and gave me a folder, “This is the only time I will lend you my notes. Take a look and see what you missed.”

As I looked through his notes, I remembered things that he had talked about that I had forgotten. some of the things that he had talked about were not only important to our organization, but personally important to me too.

As I read the notes my leader gave me I made a commitment to take notes in all meetings I would attend forever after.

Make specific arrangements for follow up – One complaint I commonly hear about meetings is that there seems to be a cycle of discussion and resolutions, but once outside of the boardroom nothing happens. Because nothing happens people get discouraged and begin to question the point of meetings at all.

So why is it that people do not follow through with what is discussed in meetings? While there can be many reasons, the most common that I have seen is unclear expectations. As I have taught goal setting a saying that I came up with seems also to fit here. “ A goal that is specific and clear, becomes attainable and near.”

When tasks assigned are specific and clear they become much easier to complete and report on.  Clarity is key.  These objectives should also be correctly sized. If something is too big it can be overwhelming. If it is too small it can be simply forgotten.  It should be something that can be accomplished in a reasonable effort and reported back to the group. It should be clear what is expected and also how the report will be returned to the group.

Reporting and follow up should be prompt. In many of the meetings I attend I try to avoid having the report take place in the next meeting. Firstly it does take up precious meeting time. But more importantly as time passed between the assigned task and the time to report it enthusiasm also passes. If follow up is arranged to take place quickly after the meeting then chances are more likely that the task will be complete. General the most effective way I have seen to conduct reporting like this is to have the group leader connect by phone with the person completing the task and then to email or text all in the group to inform them of the results.

If the task did not go smoothly, report that as well. But try to find the positive in the outcome. Always be wise enough to accept the best efforts of your team and provide additional support and help where needed. If you report back the failures and frustrations you will soon find your team will discontinue to function as a team and the progress will stop.

Here is a sample text I set out in regards to a challenge that one of my staff had. (Names changed to protect my friends.) “Hey Everybody, Nick has bumped into a challenge with finding a way to ship our packages for event in Las Vegas. Does anyone have any thoughts on another way to solve this or help Nick get this done quickly. Contact either myself or Nick if you have some ideas. Thanks everybody.”  You’ll notice that the blame for the incomplete task doesn’t put the blame on Nick and it also doesn’t take the task away from Nick. Instead it invites the support of others and continues to demonstrate respect and confidence in Nick’s ability to get the job done.

I hope that these four suggestions have been useful for you. Please pop by again for more tips on how to have more effective meetings.

Douglas Vermeeren is a business meeting specialist who helps companies, teams and individuals get the most out of their meetings.

This Article may be reprinted without permission as long as the writer credit appears along side the article.

#1 Secret of How Thoughts become Things

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Mind secrets

Mind Secrets

#1 Secret of How Thoughts become things

By Douglas Vermeeren

We have all heard that Thoughts become things. This is true. They do become things.  The question that most people struggle with is how do they do this? It is estimated that each day we have more than 70,000 unique thoughts. So what is it that controls our thoughts? How does our mind select which thoughts to develop and which thoughts to ignore? How do the prominent thoughts become things?

In order for thoughts to develop into reality they must be permitted to develop in the mind.

As they develop they grow and are built upon. If the spark of thought continues to grow action can result. Action will then bring that thought into reality.

Many of the thoughts that develop in the mind do not become a reality. We have all had thoughts that began as a brilliant burst of inspiration. Perhaps these ideas even got you excited for a few minutes, maybe an hour, a day or even a week… Then they faded away.  Even though they started as powerful ideas they did not end up as a tangible reality in your life?

What happened? Where was the break down? How could an idea so bright and exciting turn dim or disappear altogether.

Even more frustrating are the ideas that do not disappear. They anchor themselves in the back or your mind, they cling to you waiting for the day that you may act upon them. These are probably the most painful ideas. You know in your heart that if you did something with these kinds of ideas they would really make a difference in your life.

Perhaps it’s a business idea that you feel would make a lot of money. Or perhaps it’s an idea  or innovation that would make life easier for someone somewhere. Maybe an idea about someone you would like to have a relationship with? Or what you should do to improve the health of your own body? These are all common ideas that we are excited about, but we don’t allow them to grow. They remain unfulfilled in our mind.

What is it that holds us back? What is it that keeps us from creating the reality we are thinking about?

Expectation & Belief

One of the most significant factors that determines our reality are our expectations.

What we expect dictates what we believe could happen.

What we believe could happen is the line that all thoughts must pass in order to become action. Taking action on a thought is the way it is translated into reality.

Expectations can include what we believe a specific outcome will be, but also what we believe we are entitled to and how we believe we should act in certain situations.

As expectations can often be based on past experience or pre-determined values often our expectations will cause our thinking to follow a similar course to what we have done in the past.

Expectations of outcome often guide our thoughts and our behavior to conform our new experience with a past situation. Here are a few examples of where we have experienced this:

  • Meeting someone we didn’t like the second time. (It is true that it’s important to make a good first impression.) We’ve all had a time when we have met for a second time someone that rubbed us the wrong way when we met them at first. Based on the first interaction all visits that we may have with them in the future may be jaded.
  • Physical characteristics – this idea of being jaded by someone can even follow to others who have a similar resemblance to the one who rubbed us the wrong way. I had an experience where I recognized that I became a friend with someone because he resembled someone I was already very close to. I didn’t realize it until my wife said ‘you know who your new friend reminds me of?” and then she pointed out the resemblance between my friends. Here’s an interesting addition to this story, even though the new friend was rude, sarcastic and less than charming, I still try to think of him in positive ways because my expectations had been previously set by the first friend who was kind, loving, caring and a genuine friend.
  • We also see expectations at work in the movies. If I said Tom Hanks is in a movie what kind of movie do you think you’d be going to watch? What if I said Ben stiller? Would you envision a different kind of film? And when you went to see it how would you feel if it didn’t jive with your expectations? You’d be disappointed. In fact, Hollywood has seen a lot of movies over the years that didn’t make it simply because they changed the formula, or constructed a story with an actor contrary to your expectations.

Entitlement is also an overlooked element of expectations.  What you feel you are entitled to will dictate your thinking on certain matters.

There was a study conducted some years ago to determine the role that sacrifice or activity had on entitlement. The experiment involved two groups. One group was given a variety of tasks to complete and then after completing the work, was ushered into an empty room with a table and chair. On the table was an envelope with $50 bill and the words thank you written on the envelope.

The second group was simply ushered into the room. They had no work to do. The same envelope rested on the table.

The majority of people in the first group that had done the work felt that the envelope was left there for them and it was payment for their efforts. Most in the second group felt the envelope was meant for someone else and it was probably left there by mistake.

Work, sacrifice and effort give the mind a sense of entitlement.

The same can be seen in people that win the lottery. Countless studies have shown that many lottery winners end up with little or no money after a few years. I believe this has a lot to do with the principle of entitlement. Their mind did not believe that the reward was paid for and so it did not hold the value in their mind necessary to sustain it.

Entitlement is a mysterious thing. I often encounter people who feel that they have not yet paid the price to have what they want, to be who the really feel they should be, or have the relationships they deserve because they have not sacrificed what is required. This is a victim mentality and it keeps many from acquiring the reality they truly desire.

So a great question I would have is who determines the price you have to pay? That’s right, in the end you do. And until you feel that you are truly worth the reward often times you can’t bring it into your life. It’s time to rethink things a bit.

The next expectations are expectations about how we believe we should act. I call this social expectation. I have seen many great examples of this. I will share two with you:

A friend of mine is a police officer who often arrives first on the scene after a car accident. Once when we talked about the power of social expectation he shared the story of an accident he was called to sort out. This accident could have been avoided if social expectation were not an issue. One lady had rear ended the back of a man’s truck. It was a beautiful sunny day and the road conditions were ideal in every way.

As my friend pulled up in his squad car he expected it would simply be a case that the lady was not paying attention. To his surprise when he obtained the statement from the lady she said she saw the truck ahead of her, she wasn’t caught off guard and she wasn’t surprised. She just had no where to go.

What about switching lanes quickly or moving to one side to avoid the collision? She answered, well, I thought of that but wasn’t really sure if that was allowed. And I didn’t have time to make an appropriate signal of a lane change. Thank goodness no one was hurt. But the social expectation of staying in the lane is an example of something she had learned socially and what was expected of her in terms of signaling overuled her ability to avoid the collision.

The second experience I have seen at numerous seminars and motivational events. This lesson is often used by the speaker to teach people to think differently and to consider that there are often more direct routes than those we initially consider to solve a problem.

This is how the scenario plays out, the speaker typically takes a prize (I’ve even seen it done with $100 bill) and simply holds it up and asks “Who would like to have this prize?” Naturally a number of hands raise within the group. He asks again, “Who wants this prize?” Still more hands are raised in the group and often people begin to get a little excited. At this point the speaker asks again with more intensity in his voice, “Who wants the prize?” By this time the audience usually gets it and an audience member actually leaves their set and comes to claim the prize. Again this is a great example of social expectation.

Why won’t we leave the seat instantly to claim the prize? We don’t leave our seat to get the prize because we question ourselves. Is it the right thing to do? What will others think of me? Is it proper?  We ask ourselves similar questions on a daily basis that and as a result we prevent ourselves from acting on the thoughts that will empower us most.

Am I allowed to be so bold in my thinking? Or I can think it, but is it proper to act on it? What will others think? And so on. All of these doubts extinguish powerful thinking. And even worse than this is the thought that ‘things just aren’t done that way.’ Or there is a procedure that must be followed in order for it to be done right. In some cases this may be true, but often the very best ways are discovered by innovators who look for a better way than that which is considered traditional.

In a study of the most successful businesses and inventions of all time, you will find that the majority of these successes are innovations on existing ideas. I always get a smile when I hear that Thomas Edison is considered the greatest inventor of all time. It isn’t true. Every major invention that he produced from the light bulb, to the phonograph to the motion picture camera is an innovation on a earlier effort by someone else. You can be an innovator too.

You don’t have to think according to a set of imaginary rules.

Expectations are a great source of power as much as they can be a great obstacle to your success.

If we expect to fail we will not think in empowering ways. We do not dedicate action energy to created failing expectations a reality. That doesn’t mean we don’t dedicate thought to create negative expectations. we do that quite often. If we believe that expectation to be the coming reality, we will create it positive or negative.

If we want success and to create the life we really want we have got to expect it. When we expect to succeed, our thoughts become like a magnet directing all our energies to the success of the thought.

Just a few more thoughts on why expectation is important

The subconscious mind seeks to find solutions to challenges quickly and so it seeks for the most direct route to solutions in the thinking processes. The mind doesn’t really care if the solution is positive or negative. It just wants an answer. When we are on “automatic” pilot, so to speak, our expectations guide thinking almost entirely.

Because our mind is always looking for immediate solutions we think and act from a reactive position.   Essentially what our mind is doing is trying to protect us. It is constantly analyzing scenarios and situations to prevents us from experiencing harm or other things we may need to defend against.

So how can we build positive expectations?

Positive and empowering expectations must be build on purpose and ahead of time. They cannot be reactionary.

Why must they be planned ahead of time and how can that help?

In order to explain why it is important to plan ahead of time what you to expect let me address an important characteristic of how our mind remembers.

Let’s try this together.

I am going to ask you to remember two things, notice which of the two things is easier.

1)What was the date that United States entered world War 2?

2)What did your first love look like?

If you are like most people you found the first question to be much harder than the second. Why is that? The first question dealt with the recall part of your memory. It was a cold hard fact your mind went searching for.

The second dealt with recognition. You probably also spent a lot more time thinking about the second question and you might even still be thinking about it now. emotion is attached more to recognition than recall. for those of you who are familiar with the 5 ways the brain learns this would be experiential learning versus factual learning.

What’s the point? This is the point: It is a lot easier for your brain to recognize something than it is to recall it.

Back to how this effects expectations.

If you build your positive expectations clearly, carefully, and emotionally you will have greater power to recognize these expectations and when you are thinking in harmony with them. Your mind will begin to bring your thinking into a supportive position to these expectations and look for evidence to support your new expectations.

Your mind will also recognize what is not in harmony with your expectations and discard those thoughts.

Later in this course we will talk about how to build stronger expectations to overcome doubts that may exist within your subconscious mind.

But for now the important thing to remember is:

Expectation can be used in a positive way. Once we begin to expect things to occur in a way which is empowering to us our thoughts begin to direct our actions to follow that course.

What we expect, our thinking will support.

Expect good things and your thoughts will follow! If your thoughts follow you will begin to see the fruits of these expectations become a reality in your life.

For more information go to:

How Thoughts Become Things is a brand new movie that unfolds the power that thought plays in creating the results we want most in our lives. How is it that our thought  create our reality and how can we harness that power?

How Thoughts Become Things

How Thoughts Become Things