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RCME presents Lisa HanebergLisa Haneberg

Two Weeks to a Breakthrough

by Debra Black

Management trainer and author Lisa Haneberg loves to talk about breakthroughs. In October, she told members of the Retail Consortium for Management Education (RCME), "Of all the books I've written, the one you get today—Two Weeks to a Breakthrough—is my absolute favorite."

Haneberg is so passionate that last summer, she racked up 9400 miles on her motorcycle "Purple Haze," talking about breakthroughs during a 40-day solo tour to 32 states.

"There's an absolute, catalytic magic that you can put into your busy lives to shift what's going on…to make things happen," she says. Haneberg has 25 years of experience in training and human resources, with a niche in middle management.

She was clear from the beginning that she didn't want RCME members to limit themselves to the idea that a breakthrough is like a scientific breakthrough destined to win a Nobel Prize.

"If those are the only things that are breakthroughs, most of us would never have one. Most of us aren't Nobel Prize scientists or engineers. If you define a breakthrough as a little leap forward, I can tell you right now you will have three or four by Monday. It's going to be amazing and it's going to add juice to your life. The power is in the momentum, which actually fuels the next breakthrough," she says.

2X2 Matrix

Haneberg described a 2x2 matrix that measures Focus and Action:

Low Focus, Low Action: People who are low in focus and low in action get stuck. "Some of you can identify with being stuck on certain projects in your life. Most of us have moments or hours or even a few days that we're stuck. But if we end up having weeks or months or years that we're stuck….that's a very tough place to be," says Haneberg.

High Focus, Low Action: Haneberg says dreamers are highly focused, but low in action. They say, 'When my kids grow up and get out of the house…When my husband finally retires…When the stock market comes back…When I get a big raise…When I become a manager….' They've got focus—they know what they want—but they're not in action. After awhile, they start giving up on their dreams because it's frustrating to keep saying, 'When, when, when…'

Low Focus, High Action: Some people are like hummingbirds: in action all the time, but not at all focused. "This is really an unfortunate place to be, because it's stressful and tiring. 'I'm working as hard as I can, I can't put any more hours in…I come in before everybody else and I leave after everybody else…And it's still not good enough.' These people will take on a victim mentality and in fact they are a victim of their own choice. I can tell you as a management consultant, the number one reason why hard-working, well-meaning managers leave their jobs is that they're working very hard but they're not focused on the right things. It's tragic," says Haneberg.

High Focus, High Action: To generate a breakthrough is to get to a place of high focus and high action. "Generating a breakthrough is not about working harder. It's about being focused like a laser beam and taking daily, tiny steps. If you really do the right kinds of things…if you are focused on the action in a way that makes a huge difference, breakthroughs can occur in less than 10 minutes a day," she said.

She asked participants to gather into small groups and talk about what they would like to manifest in their lives. Then, she shared methods from her book to determine what kinds of actions will make a difference, to move forward, and get into a place of high focus, high action.

The Butterfly Effect

"There is big power in small things. The flapping of a butterfly's wings in Brazil can create a huge weather change on the other side of the world. We can put the butterfly effect to work for us. Little tiny actions make things happen, and then other things happen, and they reverberate…each action creates a new set of possibilities," says Haneberg.

"It can also happen in reverse. You could have a downward spiral. You know people who have made one tiny wrong decision that made another thing happen, and then another thing happen….The power of the butterfly effect is that dozens of tiny directionally correct actions into the world all reverberate. And things will happen, I promise you."

Tips for Making Breakthroughs

Haneberg gave some tips to put the butterfly effect to good use:

  • Clearly define what you want, and make it compelling. It has to be challenging but achievable.
  • Sharing your goal loudly is one of the most powerful things you can do. Tell people what you're up to. It reinforces the goal in your brain, and it helps people support you and catalyze things for you.
  • Every night, ask yourself what you did that was one little step toward your goal. Go to bed in alignment, focused on an action. When you wake up, you're another step forward.
  • Prioritize your goal by taking time for it, and focusing on it.
  • Seize your conversations. "Conversations create reality. If we all agree things are amazing, and our culture is strong, if we have enough conversations like that, it shall be. To change your results, change what you're talking about. There's no more important thing you can do than to master your conversations," says Haneberg.
  • Align your context for success. Change your environment, such as adding music or removing obstacles, to support your goal.
  • Determine what and who you need to know. You may need to know some things or people you don't yet know. "Figure out who they are, and contact them. Don't be shy.You want to make big requests, and talk to the people who might make a huge difference," says Haneberg.

She recommends this daily practice: Tell two people what your goal is, take two tiny actions, and make two requests.

"I guarantee you, if for one week, you do the daily practice, your life will be different."

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