Back To Running, A Millimeter At A Time

In my book, It's All About Millimeters: How Small Changes Can Make A Big Impact in Your Business and Your Life, I share the story of how I trained for my first and only marathon, using my “millimeter” approach.  It took six months of disciplined and focused running, but I was successful in my first marathon and finished without having to be carted away in a rescue van or worse an ambulance.

After that marathon in 2007, I decided to keep running, but quickly grew bored of those long runs and took up other forms of exercise. However, after I recently moved into a new house and new neighborhood with some great running trails, I decided it was time to lace up those shoes and hit the pavement again.

Using my “millimeter” approach, I am slowly but surely adding those miles each and every week -- and best of all I am gaining my confidence back in my ability to run distances greater than 50 feet!

Whether you have a goal to run a 10K, marathon or just a walk around the block without stopping, use the “millimeter” approach to achieve your fitness goals once and for all.

A Millimeter Idea for a Big Pay Day

One of our favorite “millimeter” marketing strategies is a handwritten thank-you note to our patients who refer other patients to our office. My scheduling coordinator at the end of the week, handwrites a simple card and places a gift card for Starbucks coffee.  It is a small token of appreciation and recognition of their confidence and support in our practice.

How many times do we have clients, customers or patients that are referring business to us and we fail to thank them.  Believe, me these customers, clients and patients are not walking around thinking about you and your business each and every day.  However, they do remember a nice gesture of recognition and thanks and when the question comes up at a cocktail party or little league game, “who does Mary see for her braces?”  Our goal is to make sure they answer, “Cater Galante Orthodontics, we just love them!”

Make handwritten thank you notes a “millimeter” marketing strategy and watch how your business blossoms.

Break the Pattern with One Millimeter Change

Nothing has to be monumental to suddenly change course or direction. Even habits can be broken with one small choice. We frequently come to forks in the road. Have you heard the old adage, the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. When you hit the fork, and a decision needs to be made, apply the idea of opposites. If you've been doing the same thing over and over -- and it's still not working for you, change it right then and there. Make that opposite choice. See what happens... in one small choice major changes in your life can happen. One plus one no longer equals two. It can be simple, true and life-changing.

Stop and Breathe

"Life belongs to the living, and he who lives much be prepared for changes." ~ Johann Wolfgan von Gathe

Von Goethe articulates so well that life is always changing. Each day is opportunity for change -- either positive, negative or indifferent, but the very nature of life is one of unfolding and changing. I liken it to business that if you're not growing you're shrinking. Nothing stays perfectly still. So how are you going to handle that change? Are you going to fear it? Are you going to embrace it? Are you going to put your hands in the air and go with it? Are you going to see it as overwhelming? You have a choice.

If you follow my "millimeter" ideas, you can fully embrace it one small moment at a time. Sometimes as anything unfolds, and if you begin to feel like it's too much, one simple and "millimeter" thing to do is just stop. Take a deep breath. Let the oxygen get into your system. This one exercise alone while small is mind-altering. Notice how one, solid deep breath can loosen your body, make you feel better, and less stressed. Let the air out, and then take the next step whatever it is. Just let it go and flow.

Everyone breathes. Everyone can stop and take a deep breath. Next time any kind of sudden or unexpected change or event happens, remember this "millimeter" advice: stop and breathe.

A millimeter approach does not mean miniscule service

Even though I write about a “millimeter approach” to your business and your personal life, I do not mean that you provide small or non-memorable service to your clients, patients and customers. Quite the contrary.

A “millimeter approach” means that you are doing the small things that make your customers, clients and patients feel connected appreciated and engaged with your business.  This approach also works well with your friends and family.  It is truly the small things that you do and say that will make them feel special and celebrated.

Maya Angelou states, "I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

One simple thing we do in our orthodontic practice is to write a thank you card and send a Starbucks gift card when a patient refers another patient to our practice. How many times have you referred a patient, client or customer to a place of business and received a handwritten thank you with a gift card?  Be the person to do this in your industry.

For family members, a handwritten card, a phone call or even an invitation to lunch or breakfast, could be the one thing that makes their days, months or even year.  Who can you call today and invite them to a meal with you?

See, I have given you two simple things you can do today, right now that will make a big impact on someone else’s life.  Make your customers, clients, patients, family and friends feel special, and they will never forget you or your business.

Unexpected Doesn't Have to be a BIG Deal

Ever have something unexpected happen? Your business is running smoothly. All is well with your staff. Out of left field something just CHANGES! Are you seeing the word "change"? Did you even realize that small changes or even big changes can just happen. Think about it. One day your profits are struggling. You're wondering how you're going to pay your bills, and then all of a sudden a new sale or client just miraculously shows up. Literally within minutes everything CHANGED. You have enough to pay your bills. Problem solved.

When you look at like at one big "millimeter" change a day, it doesn't seem so overwhelming, does it? Millimeter changes happen all of the time, and we sometimes don't even notice them. If you wake up each day and are open to see where life takes you, you'll notice you are constantly on roads toward changes.

I'll give you another example. A woman miraculously decided in what SEEMED like one day to change her life. She just decided to quit her job. Now that might seem like a MAJOR shift that happened in one day, but not really. Each day she faced her job, she was unhappy. Her boss demeaned her on a Friday. She got promised a raise that never came. Her co-worker got her expected raise. Her boss ridiculed a project she felt pride in. She went home every day and was depressed. Then her boss wrote her one (last-straw email) and demeaned her again. She turned to her computer and she quit. Was it really that sudden? No, small but incremental issues built up daily until it amounted to a BIG CHANGE. Quitting a job or even getting a divorce never happens overnight. It's often cumulative.

If you can see change as cumulative (built on good things) then you'll realize that living the "millimeter" approach to life is easy. You already live it. It's just how you look at it.

Celebrate Your Millimeter Victories With Gusto

Every time you have a victory, even a “millimeter” step in the right direction, do not forget to celebrate and reward yourself, your team of employees or any others who have contributed to your victory.

By celebrating your “millimeter” victories, you will be that much closer to your ultimate goals and dreams. We often fail to notice the small wins we have in our journey to where we ultimately want to be. It is in those small victories and the recognition of those wins that we will continue to move forward to make the big impact that we are looking for.

So how do you celebrate a small, millimeter victory?

With gusto! 

 Plan a special lunch or dinner, maybe a visit to a day spa or buy those shoes you have had your eyes on.  For me, it usually is a visit to my favorite winery or maybe a new purse or just an afternoon off.

I know that those small, millimeter wins are getting me closer each day to my goal. Many of us beat ourselves up when we set our goals too high and forget the wins we do have on the way to the top goal. 

John Wooden, the most famous UCLA basketball coach, once said, “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur.  When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning.  Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made.  Don’t look for the big, quick improvement.  Seek the small improvement one day at a time.  That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts.”

So celebrate each and every millimeter improvement towards your goals and know that success will happen.

The Extra 1 Percent or 1 Millimeter

There is a book titled The Extra 1 Percent by Robert Yeung, and in some ways it subscribes to the concept of the "millimeter approach" in my book It's All About Millimeters. The Extra 1 Percent teaches readers that if you'll just gone one percent more in everything you do, you'll be more successful. The writer probably describes at one percent because it's so small it makes it seem easy to do. Does that sound familiar -- one small "millimeter" change?

If you can break anything down into a small approach, it seems much easier doesn't it? One extra step at the end of the day. For example, do one tiny more effort to make your life go right. One more sales call than yesterday. One more social media posting than before. One more "please" or "thank you" to your staff. One more minute to yourself in the morning. You see. It's not difficult to think about doing something when it's just ONE more.

You would be surprised and pleased to realize that ONE more, ONE small change can make a world of difference. Maybe that ONE last sales call produces ONE extra sale that month. Maybe that one extra social media post produces ONE more sales lead. Maybe one extra please or thank you makes your staff happier. Maybe that last minute to yourself relieves just enough stress ... to make all the "one mores" do-able.

The Millimeter Way to a Marathon

In my book, It’s All About Millimeters:  How Small Changes Can Make A Big Impact In Your Business and Your Life, I share the story of how I trained for a marathon.

Now you might say you have no desire to run a marathon, and I would support you 100 percent on that decision.  Running 26.2 miles is a long way and quite honestly. Had I not ran it to raise money for a local charity, I think I might have crossed it off my bucket list.

Whether you plan to run a marathon or not, life and business sometimes feel like one.  You have been working at gaining new clients, customers or patients for what seems like an eternity and still have not hitting your target number.

Or maybe you have been working on getting a relationship that has been strained back to health, but feeling like you are still at ground zero.

Using a “millimeter approach” will often get you closer to your goals.  Here is why.

Many of us (me included) set these gigantic goals.  We are independent, determined people with big dreams and therefore have these huge goals that require massive action taken in a big way.

The massive action in a big way can and will work.  However, I often see people who train for a marathon going out on the weekend and trying to run 12 miles when they haven’t run much more than three miles before that.  While it is possible, it often will be extremely painful, and there is the possibility of injury, which will keep you out of the real marathon event.

What I discovered in training for my marathon was that if I added just another mile each week to my running schedule, I would run 23 miles three weeks before the real event and do it without injury or pain.  Plus I had the added advantage of knowing I could run 23 miles, so mentally I knew I could do 3.2 more miles that marathon day.

Yes, I had to prepare six months in advance to get all those miles in before the actual event, but I was totally open to put in the time because I knew it was the best way to get to my goal of finishing the marathon under five hours and going Christmas shopping with my daughter later that afternoon (versus being carried away on a stretcher in an ambulance).

So think of ways you can “a millimeter at a time” make those improvements to your business or relationships.  You can always combine several millimeter approaches at once, but instead of huge steps which require extraordinary amounts of time, money and effort, try my marathon training approach adding one mile a week.

How Campfire, Fire Pit and Bedtime Stories Help Your Business Grow

If you love camping, there is nothing like a campfire, or maybe you are more like me and enjoy a fire pit in your backyard and your own bed and indoor plumbing!  Either way, stories shared around a campfire, a fire pit or even at bedtime (for those with small children) are an amazing way to grab attention from a child, friends and neighbors or maybe even your spouse as you share a compelling story that captures their attention and even their imaginations.

Stories help people understand, experience and even imagine themselves in similar circumstances.  Stories bring confidence, self-esteem and excitement especially if they are about them (like the stories I tell my children about their crazy antics when they were younger).

If I want to keep my teenagers engaged at dinner, nothing beats telling them about the time my older daughter tried to poison her younger brother, or the time my son had fallen down, hit his head and came home one-hour later with dried blood all over his face (of course he had no clue)Another hot topic is my husband telling them stories about his teenage years, which thankfully they have not imitated!

As a practicing orthodontist, I have seen the power of story when I share how a patient came to our office never smiling and hunching over and by the time they had their braces removed, he/she couldn't smiling and strutted into his/her retainer appointment like he/she owned the place.  Simply awesome!

As a practitioner of the “millimeter-approach” plan on one small story a day that you can share with a client, customer, patient, child or spouse that you know would be a game-changer for them.  Think about 360 days a year, one small, short story that you can share and get ready for the Big Impact it will make in your business and your life.