Category Archives for Business Mentor

How to Stop Making Excuses & Find Success!

What is Excusitis?

Excusitis (excuse-itis) is the habit of buying reasons from yourself or other people for not fulfilling commitments and leaving projects in an unfinished state. If left untreated, the "disease of making excuses" is debilitating and leads to the demise of good ideas, thriving businesses, organizations, relationships, careers and bright futures. It's a severe condition that everyone needs to be aware of and make haste to address. This article aims to help people diagnose, cure the disease and find success once and for all. 

The Disease of Making Excuses - Signs & Symptoms

You may suffer from this disease if any of the following applies to you.

  • You have unfinished projects from months to a year ago or more.
  • You buy books, gym memberships, exercise equipment or online courses but don't get around to reading or using them.

What Causes Excusitis?

People make excuses to avoid friction or discomfort at all costs. Using the above examples, one defers using the products or services purchased to prevent the pain associated with learning new skills, building muscles, improving mobility or fitness.

An underlying reason for discomfort is that the individual lacks conviction. Either they don't recognize the project's merits or lack confidence in their ability to perform the activity or task with excellence. The lack of trust may be solved with more training, or relate to perfectionism.

Why should you treat the "excuse disease" with urgency?

Your self-esteem and your ability to achieve future success depend on it!

Every time you don't follow through on a commitment, you are selling yourself short of becoming the person you aspire to be and what you can achieve. Every let-down produces a feeling of shame and, as it accumulates, leads to self-loathing. Depression is soon to follow.

Steps to Create the Change You Need!

1. Review, and prioritize your unfinished projects.

  • Make a list of each undone project. Write out why completing each task or activity is essential for achieving your goals. 
  • Decide if further training is required or if perfectionism held you back.
  • Based on the above, determine a logical order for completion.

2. Create a practical, reasonable plan to complete each activity, and create rules and habits that will support your success. 

  • Focus on doing the work and building new skills, not a masterpiece. 
  • Let practice and production become your mantra, not perfect.
  • Understand that you're playing the long-game, not the sprint.

3. Pause new purchases or projects until you finish the current ones.

4. Establish sign-posts to assess, notice progress and celebrate the wins. Small successes build confidence and lead to more success. 

it's a skill we develop

The art of creating success is a skill you learn to master. It takes commitment and follow-through, skills acquired by following the process. Stay with the process.

requires Self-conviction to begin the journey

The most crucial step for establishing deep-seated conviction is connecting to why something is vital to moving forward. Address the obstacles that prevent your total commitment. 

If training is necessary, decide whether to make it happen or write-off the losses before investing further.

If perfectionism was an issue, shift your focus on building new skills. You're doing the work, not creating a masterpiece. 

Think, "Practice and Production, not Perfect!" Remember, it's a marathon you're running, not a sprint.

Self-conviction is an essential mindset to get it all done. It draws you towards the finish line, as opposed to running away.  

Every hour of every day, keep your eye on the prize. Lean-in, do your best every time. You have no more time for excuses.

It's time to raise your game and find the success that's been waiting for you.

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To Achieve Big Change, Focus on Repetition over Intensity

What we Envision takes Time

In life or business, you cannot rush enormous change or goal achievement. The only thing you can control is what you do or not do towards achieving desirable goals on a continuous, consistent basis. The reason is that real growth happens incrementally over time and becomes noticeable progress. If you try to rush the process, you end up short-changing your results with shallow change versus acquiring depth from building critical skills for long-term success.

Repetition over intensity is the nature of building skills for goal achievement. Remember the fable, The Tortoise & The Hare. The tortoise, who was slow by nature, focused on steady forward movement and won the race. On the other hand, the speedy hare was over-confident about winning, dropped his focus, and took a nap. The tale tells how the hare awoke to find the tortoise crossing the finish line. Business owners beware, don't get complacent. Stay focused; don't let this be you!

The fable also serves another purpose for us type-A personalities; we must temper our desire to expect success now. Instead, focus on constant forward movement towards achieving our highest priorities without hesitation, but take it all in stride.

Everyday Examples

Case in point, think of bodybuilding or fitness training. When working out, we are continually working within our edge of intensity, but we don't push it to the point of injuring ourselves or, worse, long-term damage. Furthermore, rest days are essential for muscle healing and progress, as anyone who has tried to skip rest days knows full well. You cannot rush significant change or achievement. Improvement results from targeted, repetitive sets (of actions) that push the edge but within reason.

When practicing yoga, we measure progress in millimeters; the focus is on repetition over intensity. It is for this reason; yoga is considered a practice, not perfection. 

Learning is how we build skills and competencies

Repetitive doing is the act of learning. Discovering insight and calibrating as you go is how you develop excellence and expertise.

Surfing is another excellent example. Stay present, but also look ahead. You're going to wipe-out; whether it's horrible or not depends on your skills and what you cannot control, in this case, nature.

The Problem: Sustainable Change Takes Time

We're impatient, and perhaps we've already wasted too much time and are trying to make up for lost time. If this is the case, acknowledge the brutal truth and forgive yourself quickly. Learn from your mistake, and turn your attention to what you can do now.

Manage Expectations. Shift Focus on Building Skills

Most quick successes don't last. Think of cramming for an exam the night before; the memory evaporates once you leave the exam. Quick rich schemes rarely succeed, or if they do, the win is short-lived. We are most interested in the enormous success, the long-game.

Focus on building skills instead. Deepen your conviction, knowing full-well why building skills is essential, rather than pressuring yourself to get immediate results.

Work hard, but stay open to notice movement and the correlation between action and result. Direct more resources to activities with significant impact, and withdraw energy from those that don't.

Celebrate the small wins along the way, for this builds enthusiasm, confidence and more success.

List of Steps to Find Success

Step 1

Get clear on what your end goal is first, the one with the biggest prize. Determine the type of activities that are pivotal and how long it is reasonable to get you there. Create a tactical business plan along with timelines and signposts.

Step 2

Focus and commit to doing what you need to do to win the big race. Follow the program (do the activities) without delay, and expect challenges to overcome. You'll develop skills that lead to more success and with a more significant impact.

Step 3

Look for significant change and correlate activities that produce substantial or no impact. Acknowledge and celebrate small wins; calibrate direction and resources accordingly. 

Success is a Journey; and Learning is the Experience.

Focus on the importance of building skills rather than the pressure to get quick results.

Notice change and correlate resources to activities with positive impact. Celebrate the small wins along the way, for this builds enthusiasm and confidence. 

Keep envisioning, stay focused on the long-game. When you do this, success will happen, guaranteed. 

The Formula for Success

linda reddin

-executive coach-

Establish Clarity > Focus > Consistent, Persistent Action > Calibrate Regularly = Success!

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Accomplish More with Rules & Habits – The Secret to Personal Effectiveness!

The Busy-ness of Living

We are busy people. Whether you are in charge of growing a business, managing a department, project or team, the days don't seem long enough to get it all done. In addition to work objectives is your personal life. Surrounded by decisions to make daily, the last thing we need is to get bogged down with senseless minutiae.

We know how to delegate specific tasks, which we will not cover here. This article aims to show how creating rules or habits can support your everyday needs and eliminate repetitive decision-making. We invite you to consider how you can simplify your entire life and achieve your goals with greater ease.

A familiar concept - solving the "what to wear" conundrum

Streamlining decision making is not a new concept. We know famous people who solved the daily "what to wear conundrum" by having numerous copies of the same ensemble in their closet. In particular, Steve Jobs filled his wardrobe with the same black mock-neck sweaters, jeans and sneakers that he came to love. Deciding "what to wear" is personal and best determined by the person wearing the outfit and their needs. The ensemble suited him well and having eliminated one daily decision simplified his life. Photo courtesy from Reddit

Lifestyle By Design

Consider other areas of your life that need simplifying, such as lifestyle choices. Today's VUCA world demands the focus, energy and stamina like that of a "corporate athlete." To rise to leadership demands, we need to support our physical self with healthy diet, daily exercise, and times of rest. We need a lifestyle by design.

To design your ideal lifestyle, consider your current state of health and identify areas of concern. State the goal and decide on realistic activities that you will do to achieve the goal. To assist with creating your list, the following are some of mine.

List Goals & Design New Habits to Achieve Goals



Direct my best efforts on activities that bring new business. Work on my high impact, top priorities each workday before doing anything else.

New Habit:

Each weekday, I complete 90 minutes on my most important work, free from all distractions before anything else. I may also do another 2.5 hours later on. I will know I have made this a new habit after doing this consistently for nine weeks.


Goal: Improve my sleep quality and quantity. Fall asleep within five minutes of laying down, sleep uninterrupted for 7.5 - 8 hours minimum each night.
New Habits:
  •  Work only on weekdays 9 - 5 pm. Turn off computer by 7 pm, phone by 8 pm.
  • Journal daily: unpack the day's events, writing out accomplishments, what wasn't done and why. Detail tomorrow's plan with specific tasks.
  • Abstain from wine or alcohol on weekdays.
  • Limit daily caffeine intake to the equivalent of two cups of coffee.
  • Exercise every day, either yoga, walking or hiking, an hour before lunch/dinner.

Could you test it out? Assess & Calibrate over the long-term. 

Test run the new habits for a short time to assess for improvement. If there has been little to no change, try to determine what may be getting in the way. Create a new rule to support the habit. Test and repeat until there is noticeable change.

 Read below to see how I applied this method to improve my sleep patterns.

Root out the Problem: Identify Obstacles to Success

Issue: Difficulty falling asleep or, waking up too early.

1. Too much caffeine is a likely culprit with my inability to fall asleep. When I'm tired from not sleeping well the night before, and because I like Chai tea I give into temptation and have a cup, which puts me over my limit.

2. My mind won't stop thinking about what I need to do. I forget to journal.

The Solution: Create New Rules to Overcome Obstacles!

New Rules:

Reduce morning coffee to one cup to allow for a cup of Chai tea. Should I want a hot drink beyond my earlier choices? My options are hot water with fresh lemon juice or Dandelion Root tea because I enjoy them both.

Tweak schedule to be able to address current work demands:

  1. Extend working time from 9 - 6 pm. Begin journaling at 5:30 pm.
  2. Turn off the computer at 7 pm, phone at 8 pm.
  3. Sleep at 11 pm.
  4. Adhere to it!

I journal before I leave my desk. Unpack daily events, new record ideas, tasks, tomorrow's itinerary with details of what is reasonable to get done. Starting at 5:30 pm gives me a reasonable amount to time to unpack and  close my day; then shift my attention to find personal enjoyment and rest.

Follow Your Rules; it's Your Lifestyle by Design!

Last but not least, follow your rules. Rules followed become new habits; they support your mission to achieve your goals. There may be exceptions from time to time,  but afterwards, always revert to your rules.

You design the rules to simplify your life and amplify your success ratios that reach much higher levels than ever before. 

Having the ability to focus on things that matter is how greatness is born and how you become the person you were born to be!

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Clarity, Vision, Strength

Big Goal Achievement Requires Conviction & Determination. How to Find Yours!

The Big Challenge

Launching a new venture or taking on a complex project is a huge endeavor. If people knew everything they would have to go through ahead of time, many would walk away at the start. However, we also know that anything worth achieving takes hard work. So, we dream, create, design, strategize, make tactical plans, and then work hard to make it happen. Still, there are a lot of failed businesses each year.

A commonality among enterprises that fail or not thriving stems from the owners or leaders who have undefined vision and mission. Without clarity and direction, there is no deep conviction. I have stated this before; results require full commitment.

"If you think that you can or cannot, you are probably right." Henry Ford

The Power of the Mind

The mind holds an enormous amount of power. Trying to achieve something difficult without envisioning, believing it is possible is futile. The reason is that enormous goal achievement requires the jet fuel of inner power.

Let me relate. Think of a time that you achieved success on a long-term, challenging project or adventure. What was your mindset? How did you stay focused and persistent in working towards your goal? Allow me to share a story from my experience.

"Where there's a will, there's a way." Proverb adapted from the 1600s

The Problem: Much to Do & Short on Resources

When I was a new Branch Manager for a credit union flagship branch, I encountered many obstacles. The first occurred after going through several unsuccessful rounds of interviews for an Assistant Branch Manager; I lost the the position. On top of that, I couldn't find a good candidate with experience as an Account Manager. I had to launch the branch without these crucial persons' support. Keep in mind, my annual targets, which I tripled from the year prior, were already accepted.

Furthermore, we were first to run with a new sales and service platform; my team was utterly green, and at that point, there were no corporate training programs for lenders and mutual fund sales representatives. I had a decision to make. I could accept the decision (and do my best), argue to change it (continue recruiting for the Assistant Branch Manager), or leave.

I decided that I would go ahead and not fail. I would do whatever it took to meet and exceed the targets. How did I do that?

The Solution: Leadership: Set an Example, Provide Tools

Initially, I had to take every loan application, including basic overdraft protection and every mutual fund appointment, until I could find an experienced Account Manager and train the two "green" FSR's in between. It was the RRSP season, which was the busiest season, so I ended up working the first 28 days without a day off, 80-90 hours a week.

For the next two years, I came in early to get caught up reading time-sensitive material and responding to inter-departmental emails from the day before. After hours, I played catch up inputting applications, processing paperwork, submitting reports and created training plans for each staff member. I created flow charts for my employees to reference during the learning stages.

I put a lot of effort into training the team because I understood that we would achieve that much more if I could train nine more to be like me.

Delegate & Empower the Team

During the first year, I held huddles every morning, fifteen minutes before opening. We took turns sharing product knowledge, discussing campaigns and built on each other's sales and service success stories.

I purchased business cards for all positions, including the tellers. I empowered everyone to make common-sense decisions and come up with solutions before bringing up issues. I acknowledged their efforts whenever I noticed something good, and I taught them to be grateful for our customers and to thank them when they thought of it.

I gave them quite a bit of latitude, and not once did I regret it. The team members became strong contributors and worked in synergy.

The Results:

We not only exceeded our revenue goals, but in the first year we achieved 40% FUA growth,14% improvement rating in member satisfaction (unheard of in the banking industry) & 11% increase in market share. During my five year tenure the branch consistently ranked in the top quartile – placed 1st or 2nd out of 21 branches and achieved 132% overall FUA growth!

What Causes Lack of Conviction?

Intellectually, we know the power of deep-seated conviction, yet we fail to take the time to muster it in all areas of our life. Conviction is absent either when we are unclear about how to do something, try to force something that is not authentic to our values or, more often, when we are not ready for it.

Success calls for plenty of preparation, persistent and committed effort, day by day, hour by hour, effort upon effort. Failure happens when we try to short circuit the necessary effort required.

A Recent Learning on Failure

Take handstands, for example. I want to do a free-standing handstand. I recently purchased an online course to help me get there. I went through the 30 day program once but was not quite there yet. On my second round now, I practice every morning.

While struggling through a challenging sequence, a thought arose, "What if you'll never be able to do it? You can't even complete this exercise properly! Maybe you're too old now!" At that moment, I lost all my strength and collapsed. I felt defeated.

I thought about what just happened and decided to get back up again, this time saying, "I will do it, but I'll use yoga blocks to assist." It worked. By changing my mindset (and giving my ego a back seat), I experienced the motion that was required to do it. Having the experience imprinted in my brain, I gained confidence and went on to further complete 60% of the sets without using blocks—the power of the mind!

How to Build Conviction

Hit reset. Acknowledge the brutal facts of what caused the momentary failure. Look for ways to help complete the task, such as enlisting support of some kind. For example, you may need to hire an expert, invest in a course, or use "metaphorical yoga blocks" to experience the motion so that you can do it later without support.

Accept any costs or losses as part of learning, and do learn from it. Forgive yourself, get over it quickly, and direct your energy towards efforts that will bring you to success. Envision it. Believe it. Commit to doing the all the work to make it happen. 

There are no short cuts to achieve success. It takes time, perseverance, and the will to go the distance. Mind power is essential; conviction will take you there. 

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Fully Commit: Success Requires All of You!

If you want success, you have to go "all-in".

Success has no time for lukewarm efforts and on/off commitments. You're either in it to win it, or you're not.

We all know this; this is nothing new. Whether you are struggling in a personal or business relationship or doing work you dislike, nothing is going to improve until your attitude changes. Lamenting will only keep you stuck. It's time to step out of the muck and take positive action. 

It's time to get serious about what you want to achieve in your life, business, career, etc... before you waste another day. Decide what you really want, and really go for it! 

Here are 5 steps to help you answer your life's calling.

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Systems: the key ingredient of Efficiency!

The Goal: A Healthy Lifestyle

Last fall, my husband and I embarked on a lifestyle change. We had both gained weight (once again) and were fed up with repeating the yo-yo cycle of losing and regaining weight. Knowing how difficult it is stay on track long term, especially during busy times, we needed a strategic plan. The plan required fail-proof strong systems in place to overcome our obstacles and achieve our goal, once and for all.

The process of what we did and how, can be applied to anything you want to achieve in life or business. We had a history of weight loss/gain to learn from; we knew when and how we would slip, so our plan had to mitigate risks; organization was key.

Our story provides a case study on subject matter that many people can relate to. It outlines how to create a strategic plan and illuminates why you need systems in place, if you're serious about success. Discover the 5 steps we took to create our strategic plan, and the systems we used to support our eventual success.

The Problem: Designing a New Healthy Diet for a Lifetime

After researching and trying out several restrictive diets over the years, I knew that the key to being healthy over the long-term was to adopt more of a whole-foods, plant-based eating plan. I was used to cooking meat-based protein meals and my husband enjoying eating such meals whole-heartedly. I had to learn how to make delicious whole-foods, plant based meals so that we would embrace it.

I bought a new cookbook and discovered that some meals were quite good. It was also more work due to all the washing, chopping of vegetables and spices.

The Solution: 80% Whole-Foods, Plant-based Eating

An important step in the transition to a new way of eating is understanding why a whole-foods, plant-based diet was much healthier to meat based meals. I had attended an information night on the topic of whole-foods, plant-based eating. That night, listened to testimonials from people who had beat heart disease, high blood pressure, stage four cancer and lost/kept off excess weight for years. I decided that 100% was too restrictive, but 80% would allow us to include wild fish, eggs and chicken. 

We watched the documentary, "Forks Over Knives" which fortified our decision to move forward. I knew that long-term change of this magnitude would be challenging, so I created a strategic plan to make it happen. The process I used can help you create your own strategic plan in five steps.

How to Write a Strategic Plan in 5 Steps

Step 1 - Create a Compelling Vision

We wanted to be healthy, lean and fit more than anything. We started to see ourselves as slim and strong into our old age. To us, failure was not an option. 

Step 2 - Set Goals using SMART objectives

The first thing we did, was determined our weight loss goals using SMART parameters. My goal was 7 lbs. at 0.5 lb. loss per week, my husband's was 14 lbs. at 1 lb. a week; which meant 14 weeks to achieve our goal. 

Step 3 - Create a Fail-proof System

Define What Has to Happen

We needed to exercise more and eat food with value: unprocessed, provides energy, balanced diet, delicious and readily available.

We examined what we were consuming in our diet and where we fell short. In our case, not enough protein and cardiovascular exercise. Yoga and lifting weights was not enough. We each found exercise that we enjoyed and was convenient; if not, it wouldn't work. Luckily, we live near a park with over 64 kms of hiking/biking trails. I hiked most days and practiced yoga; while my husband lifted weights and went biking with a friend.

Set up Support Systems to keep you on track 

Now came the tricky part: the food. We were creating a new lifestyle; a permanent change so specialized diets were not an option. We decided that any food brought home must have value or was needed to make delicious soups/meals. 90% of my shopping consisted of fresh fruits and vegetables, and included plant based proteins.

I prepared healthy snacks such as ready-washed fruit or smoothies in the fridge, all ready to eat or taking along on an outing. Bananas, jars of walnuts, almonds, and other healthy snacks were all positioned within site. Our meals and snacks were colorful and fresh, nutritious and delicious. We were starting to feel good inside and out.

Create Rewards for Quick Wins

We brought in a "treat day." One day a week we allowed ourselves to indulge, go beyond our calorie targets just for the day. By doing so, we could participate in family gatherings and celebrations without guilt, and still maintain our commitment.

Determine Key Performance Indicators to Monitor Progress

I found an app on my smart phone to track everything I ate, my workouts, my steps, my water intake, my sleep; this became invaluable towards balancing nutrition and monitoring our total health. We learned to budget our food intake and avoided wasting calories on high calorie, low food value choices. 

Yes, it was work; but I found joy in the challenge of creating healthy, delicious meals. I made a lot of hearty soups that could be frozen in jars for emergency meals. I started sharing photos of some of my favorite dishes through Instagram, and it encouraged others to try. I scheduled my day so that the right meals were available and ready. 

Seven months later, this new way of living has become our lifestyle. What's more, we love how we feel. Two months ago, we were surprised to discover that we lost double the weight we had aimed for. The primary reason? We were serious. How do I know? We had a plan and built systems to keep us on track; we committed to true change.

Step 4 - Notice, Calibrate, Direct Resources to actions with Greatest Impact 

While working any plan, notice any significant shifts, such as activities that have great impact and do more of it. For example, making hearty soups was a winner for me because it was nutritious and delicious and provided several meals out of one batch of work. 

Step 5 - Celebrate Your Achievement; Share with Others!

We celebrated our wins by cheering each other on, getting new clothes, and taking a trip. But the best celebration was through sharing our ideas with other people. When you share your knowledge, others are encouraged to go-for-something-big also. The joy you have, grows.

The Results

We doubled our goals; which was beyond what we thought possible! Our experience showcases the power of having a strategic plan supported by strong systems.

Regardless of whether your goals are personal or business, the road to success begins with a well-thought-out strategic plan, but robust systems ensure the big win! 

If you would like to discuss how A Strategic Edge Coaching can help you achieve your short or long term goals, book a free consultation by Telephone or Zoom here.

Get Clear on Who You Are & the Customer You Want. Know Your Business Model.

There is an art to having good conversations; and when you're in business trying to sell your services, this skill becomes ultra-important. The reason is obvious, time is limited and out of respect for everyone's busy schedules, you need to get it right every time.

For instance, if you are calling someone important for the first time (a cold call) you may not get another chance with them anytime soon if your first impression is not ideal. Furthermore, it's been estimated that it takes 10-30x more energy to fix a mistake than to prevent it in the first place; and for a busy person like you, this would be the worst case scenario that you need to avoid. Do it right,  however, and the rewards can be extremely gratifying.

Doing it right also means that it has to be authentic for you; it has to reflect who you are as a person and what brand of service you are offering to your ideal customer.

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Feeling Unmotivated? Discover 4 Steps to Get Back on Track!

One of the challenges of working from a home office is overcoming procrastination periods or lack of motivation. This challenge often arises upon returning to the office after attending an off-site networking event. Faced without immediate demands for your time by people or departments such as in external office environments, it can be it can be hard to retrack.

Furthermore, an external office has fewer non-work distractions, and being surrounded by people who are in work mode or rely on you to help them do their job, makes retracking much easier.

This truth led me to consider external office work environment situations when re-tracking can also be a challenge. For instance, returning to work after a long vacation to face a large, unpleasant or complex project. Add to that, the tendency to want perfection on any project invites procrastination, and if not checked, it can lead to a debilitating pace.

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