The Rules of Order

The Rules of Order

Apply these rules to your own life and share them with clients—they are most likely dealing with similar issues.

Rule 1: Tame Your Frenzy

Before you can focus your attention, you must take charge of your negative emotional frenzy, which comes in various forms, including worry, anxiety, anger, sadness and irritation. Frenzy impairs and overwhelms your prefrontal cortex (behind the forehead), the brain’s “CEO.” Too much negative stress doesn’t just harm your health; it also damages your ability to focus. You can’t “think straight.”

The great news is that the same things that improve your health also enhance your mind’s ability to manage negative frenzy. Sleep well, exercise, do a mindfulness practice, take a few long out-breaths, or choose the slow lane from time to time, even for a few minutes.

Experiment with a variety of approaches until you settle on a few things that together make up your unique formula for taming frenzy. This formula will allow you to hone your attention skills and to draw on all of your brain’s resources when connecting with clients.

Rule 2: Sustain Your Focus

Now that your mind is calm and energetic, it is time to identify one task and one task only to focus on. Focus sessions, in which you apply all your brain’s attentional resources to a chosen activity, are deeply enriching and productive times in your day. Sometimes described as flow, full focus is among the top contributors to psychological well-being (Csikszentmihalyi 1990; Moore 2008).

Tell your brain what the intention or goal is for your focus session; for example, leading a personal training session, designing a new program or a meeting with a colleague. As a personal trainer or group exercise leader, you have focus sessions—your classes or client appointments—already built into your schedule. If you have a desk job, schedule several focus sessions per day, using your frenzy-taming tools to bring a calm, positive, energetic and creative mindset to the task at hand. In the evening, when connecting with family and friends, beam your undivided attention on conversations and watch them light up in the warmth of your intent focus.

Rule 3: Apply the Brakes

Just as a car requires a good pair of brakes to halt at a red light, your focused brain needs to be able to stop in response to certain signals. Distractions are inevitable for human beings. If you are to maintain your concentration in the midst of an important task, knowing how and when to apply the brakes is crucial.

On Proactivity

The Proactive Reactive



It’s another word that’s tossed about. Be proactive. Don’t be reactive. What does this mean?

In my experience acting on something immediately is far better than waiting for that thing to grow to a point where it’s difficult to take care of. Pull a weed when it’s very small, and it takes a moment and requires very little energy. Wait for it to take root and spread, and you’ve got another issue.

Events in life are like that. They may start small. Call them “untoward events” or “negative events” if you want. Whatever the name, being proactive means taking steps NOW to make sure the weeds don’t start. Or the negative comments don’t start.

I realize there will always be those who find pleasure in making others miserable. I know people who aren’t happy unless they’re grumpy. I don’t know if Grumpy ever smiled, but I’m sure Sleepy and Dopey did.

If you don’t want the sleep or dopey label, and prefer not to spend you time putting out fires, then get on with thinking about these things:

What things around you need organizing? Start organizing them.

What people around you need attention? Give them attention.

What policies  need reviewing? Start reviewing.

What processes need improving or evaluating? Start looking at them.

By taking action NOW, you are smoothing the road for tomorrow. You contribute to the creation of a positive environment. These thoughts can be applied anywhere, not just in the workplace. Home is a good place to start, because there is usually a lot less stress there, and the ramifications or impact of failure to implement is less.

When people depend on you for leadership, the game changes. It is now up to you to speak up, rise up, and gain a higher level of perspective. If you haven’t started already, it’s not too late. Take the first step, and create the snowball effect. It’s often hardest to overcome inertia, but when you spread the workload through delegation, it makes life easier.

You are delegating, right? Excellent. Now get cracking and make things happen!


Continuous Process Improvement: Time to Rethink

changeDo your eyes roll back at the thought of change? Your stomach knot up with the idea of making corrections to a course? Hopefully, this post will set you to thinking more about the wonderful opportunities that lie before you.

“We’ve always done it that way” is a trap. It could mean you’ve been doing it wrong for a long time.

To make anything better requires thought. So when I write, “think about it,” that’s the place to start. With the thought process. Nothing worth improving ever fixes itself. It requires thought, planning, and action.

Your job as a leader is to help your business grow by paying attention to your teammates and your customers and by constantly fine tuning your processes.  You want every job to get done efficiently  and without hassles.

“We’ve always done it that” leads to stagnation and rot. There’s a pithy saying:  Life is like a tomato plant.  As long as it’s green, it’s growing. When it gets ripe, it starts to rot.”

Be green in your thinking. Be alert and alive and aware.  Look for opportunity to improve in all things. Once you adopt this mindset of growth, change becomes easy.

I don’t espouse change for the sake of change. But when the need to change a process, no matter how small, becomes evident, change is required.

Small changes are much easier to adapt to and swallow. Those who are resistant to change may require additional time to educate on the why, and you should take this time. The reasons behind doing what we do are vitally important to be shared with anyone and everyone affected by a new process.

Effective processes make the routine things run smoothly and consistently.  They free people up to do the things needed to turn a good business into a great business.

If you really want to maximize the potential of your employees and the satisfaction of your customers, the last thing you want is to subject them to hassles caused by bad or inefficient procedures.

Process and procedure. Policy. The way we do things. Rules. Operating guidelines.  These are all words for the same thing — they all define the way we interact with other people and the physical environment and technology in order to accomplish specific tasks in the best and most efficient way.

Ignore the details at your own peril.

Bottom line:  Identify process problems and act as quickly as possible to fix them. 

Action Steps for Training

actionstepsThe following action steps will ensure effective training is taking place in the organization.

  • Make sure every teammate is fully steeped in the corporate culture.
  • Create clear statements of your values and mission, and see to it that everyone understands their meaning.
  • Inculcate a sense of purpose in everyone at every level of the organization.
  • Take seriously your responsibilities as a teacher, coach, and counselor.
  • Teach your teammates how to perform the technical aspects of their roles and how to exceed customer’s expectations.
  • Explain clearly the key drivers of customer satisfaction for each person’s role.
  • Create multiple ways to communicate regularly with teammates.
  • Give constructive feedback promptly and effectively.
  • Make sure everyone understands what’s expected of him or her.
  • Conduct periodic tests of knowledge and skills.
  • Remember, you’re teaching by example every minute of every day.

Training and Development

Reading the book Creating Magic, by Lee Cockerell. The following comes directly from the book.


If you have to ask whether you’re doing enough to train and develop your people, the answer is you’re probably not. There is no magic number for the number of hours needed, and no hard data on this. However, there are questions you can and should ask yourself on a regular basis:

  • Do the teammates act as though they just have a job, or do they perform with a sense of purpose?
  • Can every teammate explain the organization’s vision or purpose?
  • How easy is it for teammates to access opportunities to learn?
  • How many people have been developed and promoted under my leadership?
  • How many classes, courses, or seminars does the organization offer? How many do I personally conduct?
  • How often do experts from inside or outside the organization share their knowledge with the teammates?
  • What are our results on measures of customer and teammate satisfaction?
  • Have those results improved steadily or declined?
  • How does our organization stack up on performance indicators?

Remember that great teachers usually make great leaders. Make it a priority to give everyone the tools, coaching, and sense of purpose he or she needs to be the very best.