Volume 7Issue 3March  


Letter from President

CEO Image

Release the Breaks


Welcome to March! I love this month for many reasons. First of all living in Chicago means that March is the beginning of the rest of the year, sunshine, warmth, flowers, outdoor activities, new beginnings, awakenings and then there is the name march. March to me is a time to begin a new, go forward, raise my knees and engage fully in the future. January and February was a time to prepare now March is a time to execute!


In Canfields book the success principles he speaks to releasing the breaks, a human being going through life with their emergency break on, playing it safe, living cautiously, only going a certain mile per hour in life, as if you were a car and you had the emergency break on, once you take off the emergency break the car goes with ease, kind of like once you give up letting your fears control you and you march forth, even in the face of your fears your life begins to flow.


When a human being is being true to their purpose and their values, typically there is no ‘real’ reason to play it safe and not pursue what matters. The problem is that most people have not taken the time or made the time to really get to know themselves on a deeper level, or worse they have given up the ‘dream’ of who they wanted to be, for some other pathway that at the time, seemed like the right thing to do. Instinctively many people know what trips their trigger on the surface, but while they move through life in the rush to make it all work, most people are simply not present to what really matters, inside, hence they don’t focus on capitalizing on those internal values, traits and motivations.  


Taking on releasing your breaks in life, means taking the time to identify what about you works, what drives you, what individual traits do you posses that really leverage your abilities and give you a personal competitive advantage in life?  You could do this through reading, there are books such as “Now Discovery your Strengths” & “The Internal Frontier” and surely many more, there are assessments such as the DISC –that highlight your behavioral style, the Primary Insights and Values survey (PIAV), that isolates your core fundamental motivations, the Merit Profile, backed by Ken Blanchard, which spotlights your core values and character, and the PTSI that lays out your strongest capabilities and competencies.  Whether you read yourself to discovery or you take an assessment, the power comes in knowing yourself and then in being true to who you really are and what really lights you up in life.  The fear will always be looming around to remind you that in life there are no guarantees, and how you respond in the face of fear is what matters to your ultimate happiness and effectiveness in life. Being afraid and acting anyway is one of the highest forms of personal power known to man, just look at people like Martin Luther, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa & Oprah, to name a few, surely they were afraid at times, however their commitment to their higher purpose had/has them leading extraordinary lives that made/make a difference.


March forth to your greatest success,

Margaret Graziano

Leadership - Have Your Goals and Achieve Them Too!

By Howard Shore

You see it every day in your daily lives and particularly at year-end with all of the New Year resolutions and business plans. Next year you are going to do all of those things you have never done and more. Or maybe you just want to get back to where you used to be.

You set goals for some really important reasons:

  • Keep you on target
  • Make better decisions
  • Keep you focused
  • Increase self-motivation
  • Develop self-confidence

How many goals do you have going right now?

How have the anticipated rewards influenced your progress (or lack of)?

Are all of your goals planned out fully? What difference might it make?

How do you know if you really are going to achieve those goals?

Here is a quick quiz to see if you are on track:

  1. Do I state my goals in a way that tells exactly what will be achieved and by when?
  2. Are my goals measurable in a way so that I know whether they are achieved or not?
  3. Do I set goals that are attainable and are not designed to stretch to some level below that goal?
  4. Are my goals set realistically high so that they require some sort of behavior change?
  5. Do all my goals have a definite target date for completion?
  6. Do I evaluate my goals to make sure that I do not have too many goals?
  7. Have I taken the time to prioritize my goals?
  8. Have I written down all of my goals?
  9. Do all the people who contribute to my goals know exactly what the goals are and how they contribute to them?
  10. Have I thought through in advance and considered all the detailed steps that it will take to complete my goal?

The answer to every question above should always be yes whether it is a personal or professional goal. For every question you answered “no” you can probably drop your goal success rate down by at least 20%. Do not try to put more importance on any one of these items as that would be like building the engine of your car or baking a cake and saying one part or ingredient is more important than the other. The reality is if one part or ingredient is missing, your car will probably not start or your cake will not bake.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the some of the critical factors that can help you increase your goal success rate to over 90%. There are too many factors to cover in this article so my aim is to clarify some of the top (key) points.

There are a lot of things you do (consciously or subconsciously) to achieve or not to achieve your goals. While I would agree that outside circumstances can play a role in goal achievement, you must be honest with yourself. When you fail to achieve a goal, whether it’s more sales, customer retention, employee retention or something personal like weight loss, success or failure is more dependent on those responsible for the goal than outside influences.

I always get a funny look when I discuss this issue with clients and friends. Many people think that because they made a decision, they made a commitment. This could be the farthest from the truth. Actually the hardest decisions oftentimes have the weakest commitments particularly the larger the group size.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? More than a year is spent thinking about something, maybe even a committee is created to evaluate it, consultants are hired, friends and colleagues conferred with, money is spent for market research, and finally an affirmative decision is made. The project, system, process, or other decision is placed into action and all of a sudden the inevitable happens -- problems arise, big problems, little problems, and problems disguised as attitudes.

What happens to most people’s level of commitment when faced with these problems? Rather than solving the problem, ignoring all of the thought that went into decision, they allow emotion to take over and rethink the decision. Commitment crumbles and with it the chance of following through on the decision.


The first step in setting goals is to establish a SMART goal that is stated positively. As alluded to in the Quiz, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistically-high, and Time-based. However, one often overlooked item is the goal must be Yours. While this criterion seems simple it is actually not easy in execution. If it were, everyone would be achieving a lot more goals. Very briefly let us discuss what each of these criteria really mean:

  • Specific – You say exactly what it is you are going to do. Hazy goals are doomed to failure. For example, we are going to establish a new training program for our supervisors by a certain date. You are not defining what you want to train them to do.
  • Measurable – The goal must be stated in a way so that you can definitely know whether it has been achieved. In addition, you should be able to see when the trend is negative so that you can modify your detailed action steps accordingly. For example, we are going to increase the frequency of meetings with our hourly staff. How often would you consider acceptable?
  • Attainable and Realistically-High – Goals should have sufficient rewards and/or consequences to be motivated and they must be attainable. If it appears that your goal will not require any kind of behavior change, challenge yourself to make sure that it does. Either the goal is too low or you are not being realistic on what it will take to get there. The reality is you have set it as a goal because you are not already doing it and the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.”
  • Time Based – When do you want this goal completed by? Be honest, are there goals you have talked about for years that are still on your goal list? It is probably because you have not committed to a deadline.

Future Insights


Bring every employee up to – or above – standards. This task may not be as easy to achieve as you might wish. You will be tempted to waive some requirements or let some people "get by." Every time you do this, you risk dropping your standards for everyone. If people are not working up to your standards, you'd be wise to give them a creative career redirection opportunity.

Tighten your hiring practices. No more warm bodies. No more hiring the best available. Every person hired must meet your standards. No exceptions. This practice sends a very clear message that you won't allow anyone who may drag you down to become a part of your organization. By adhering to this rule, you reinforce the high performance of your current employees.

Recruit aggressively. Don't wait until you have an opening to recruit qualified applicants. Always have a list of screened potential employees, ready to call when you have the right opportunity for them. Use internships, co-op programs, assessments and other similar tools to subtly recruit and evaluate future employees. Develop your succession planning for all positions to assure full utilization of your recruits.

Critically examine your organizational structure. Is your company structured in a way that is optimal for your smooth operation? Does it support productivity, accountability, and profitability? If not, make the changes that will concentrate your energies on results. Consider engaging an outside professional to give you an objective perspective. Use of Certified Management Consultants can be a valuable investment in your future.