Know when to stop doing what’s not working and find something that does

There was a great column in The Wall Street Journal a week ago about the division of household labor between spouses. Sue Shellenbarger, who writes a column about Work & Family, offered several ways to equitabily divide chores.  

One way was to give the person who earns more fewer household responsibilities.  Another was to switch chores weekly. Yet another suggested specialization of labor or a feudal approach where each could rule a particular area (the kitchen or the yard, for example.)  Our household runs on a specialty basis, which while not always equitable, works most of the time — but it's not always fair.

Yardwork, for example, is a solitary pursuit.  You're outside in the fresh air.  The mechanical drone of the lawnmower or weedwacker leaves you alone with your thoughts or selections from your iPod.  Because of the sheer danger of the tools involved, the children are far away.  And there's the added benefit of tanning time due to the sunshine.

So I view yardwork as a preferred activity.  Certainly more fun and fulfilling than say, cleaning the oven or spot treating the carpet. 

But I'm not great at mowing the lawn.  I have a hard time walking a straight line and often find I've missed patches  or left a line of unshorn grass.

So I'm relegated to inside tasks.  Not so bad when the heat reaches the mid 90s, but not so great when the weather's more hospitable and beckoning.

Part of achieving success at no matter what you're pursuing is realizing what you're good at may be different than what you want to do.   I want to mow the lawn, but I'm much better at organizing the kids' room.

I had a talk this week with a fellow Quixtar employee who has been trying to move into a new role.  She's been taking on additional work to prove she has what it takes to be successful in that new role.  But while she has the enthusiasm and the energy and has invested her time in some training to acquire new skills, things just aren't clicking.   She's thinking about throwing in the towel, and I was inclined to agree — sometimes we're heading in a path we're not meant to follow.

I'm one of the few among my college friends who started and left college with the same major.  That's because we all may think we want to pursue something and find the reality might be harder, more time consuming, or just not the right fit.  It's better to learn that your freshman or sophomore year than on your graduation day, but some people don't realize this until later in life.

I have a cousin who graduated from law school, got a job with a leading Chicago law firm and realized five years later that although he had a cool condo with a Lake Michigan view, a lawyer wife, and two Mercedes parked in the lot, his life felt empty.  He ditched it all, got a high school teaching certificate and now teaches at a Miami high school filled with kids who come from poor backgrounds – his wallet is emptier but his soul is full.

When you talk to IBOs you hear similar stories — people who pursued careers that didn't turn out to be what they expected.  So they started to move on through a business of their own powered by Quixtar.

Does everyone find that their Quixtar-powered business offers the perfect path?  Nothing works for everyone.  But the combination of the plan, products, and infrastructure has provided many with what they need to change their lives — a little or a lot by helping them achieve goals big or small.

There are some great online assessment tools to help you find a different path than what you're on, and one of my all-time favorites (and perennial graduation gift) is "What color is your parachute?"  If the path doesn't feel right or isn't getting you where you're going, seek another.    




Just Right

It was a spectacular weekend here in West Michigan.  Weather was warm, but not too warm.  It was a bit cloudy at times, but pleasant.  To quote Goldilocks, the weekend was just right.

Spent part of Sunday at Grand Haven, on Michigan's beautiful West Coast.  Were visiting friends who are on a three-month adventure that started at their home port of Jacksonville, Fla., took them up the Eastern Seaboard, through the St. Lawrence Seaway and into the Great Lakes.  They were in Grand Haven a few days before heading to Chicago.  

They've been planning this trip (known to insiders as "Cruising the Loop") for years.  They scrimped and saved and budgeted time and money to be able to take the time and resources to do a trip they'd only dreamed about.  They know of about 200 other boaters currently making the same trip.

It's the trip of a lifetime, but it isn't perfect..  Storms and rough water have put them off schedule.  When you get a mile and a half per gallon, rising gas prices take on a whole new meaning.

So what's next?  Other than back to work, they don't know.  But there will be something.

There's a new book out called "Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile."  The premise is that people are constantly striving for happiness and once they get what they want, they slip back into a preprogrammed level of happiness.  According to the author, psychologist David Nettle, we're born with a preset level of happiness that may fluctuate a bit but stays basically the same.  And, we're always striving for more and once we get "more", we slip back to the same pre-success level of contentment.  Or so says the review.

That's why when we achieve some level of success — be it weight loss, a promotion, a dream vacation or a new car –after the initial high wears off, we're the same people we were before.  

So essentially we're on either side of success — striving for something or celebrating getting there.  Until we decide what's next to strive for!

Inside Quixtar this week we're already seeing start of summer vacations — no problem parking anywhere at any time.  The staffeteria has been pretty empty, even at lunchtime, as the warm weather and sunshine beckons people outside for a midday break.

Summer in Michigan is so brief but so beautiful.  But just like May asparagus and June strawberries, is only around a short time.    


The 3 Cs: One reason for Quixtar’s Success

If you hear someone talking about three Cs, your mind may wander to Diamonds.  That's because the Diamond industry has spent millions convincing us to look for cut, clarity, and color in making a Diamond selection.  There may be a fourth C, but I'm not interested enough to go seek out their Web site.

But there are another three Cs that we try to live and work by in my little corner of Quixtar….communication, clarity, and consistency.

Information is power.  So it should be shared down, up, and all along the line so we can all be successful.  Being miserly with information  isn't a sign of strength….it's a symbol of weakness.  People not inclined to share information generally don't do so because may lack two others Cs — confidence and conviction. 

Clarity means creating an understanding…of what we do, how we do it, and what it all means.  Clarity brings along a few additional Cs — context and content — and creates alignment and unity around common goals.

Finally, consistency — doing what we say and saying what we do.  Operating by a set of values that don't change, even though the specifics of what we do or how we do it might. 

Now when these Cs happen Inside Quixtar we don't think much about it.  When they don't, we all know it and feel it.

There's no magic bullet for creating success, but not communicating, not creating clarity, and not being consistent is a recipe for failure, or at best, less than optimal results.

And since hundreds of thousands of IBOs rely on Quixtar to support their independent businesses, we'd better be doing all we can to be the best we can for every one of them.   The best way to start is by communicating, creating clarity, and acting consistently.



Work, interrupted

It's funny to watch the closing of a school year…stuff coming down off the walls of classrooms and schools,  homework slowing to a crawl, and the school that looked so fresh and new in August looking, well, a bit shopworn. 

Do you remember being a kid and looking forward to a long summer filled with promise and adventure?

We don't have the same kind of cycle like a school year here at Quixtar, but we do have milestones.  Projects beginning and ending.  The start or end of a performance year.  Weekends.  Vacations.  Holidays. 

And here Inside Quixtar, we try to have fun along the way so work feels less like work.  And that's a key to our success — the belief that we're doing something important to support hundreds of thousands of IBOs seeking to achieve their goals through their own Quixtar-powered businesses.

Still, there's nothing like the prospect of summer before you. How can you live your life so every day feels like summer vacation?  You can make sure you don't schedule the spontaneity out of summer.  You can eat outside every chance you get.  You can keep a swimsuit and pair of shorts in your car so you can jump in the nearest lake, pond, or pool when the mood and opportunity strikes.  You can get outside, even for a few minutes, in the middle of a busy day to recharge and refresh.  And most importantly, you can just take time to enjoy summer while it's here.  Because here at Quixtar's West Michigan headquarters, summer goes by so fast that if you don't enjoy it while you can, you might miss it altogether.

The weather at Quixtar is warm and sunny this week, with temps in the 80s all week long.  It's technically not summer, but it's a great end to spring!


Four days off and no plans in sight

I had the welcome surprise of a four-day weekend and no plans.

My brother and his brood had planned to come for the weekend, so the house was clean, the flowers planted, the lawn mowed, and the fridge full — and then he cancelled.

Which means we had a free and clear weekend with no chores to sap our time and energy.

Best yet, rain was forecasted every day but never came.  Which means that every minute the sun was out, we were as well, since we wanted to enjoy it before the showers came.

So what did we do?  We went to the movies.  We played at the Meijer Gardens.  We went swimming.  We rode our bikes.  I logged 20 miles on the elliptical at the gym. We ate, drank, and were merry.  We relaxed.

Part of being successful is enjoying what you've achieved — beyond simply the achievement itself.  It means taking time to enjoy what your work has earned you — a day off, dinner and a movie with an expensive babysitter watching the kids, or the rare luxury of curling up with a book and a good CD in the middle of the afternoon.

Back at Quixtar this week the parking lot seems emptier than usual.  Could be some folks tacked on vacation days to the four-day- holiday weekend.  The weather is warm and wonderful, so you can't blame anyone for enjoying their success with a few well-earned days off!