Nancy Faces Her Fear

Many of us have all sorts of fears — limiting beliefs that keep us from doing our best or having the life we really want. In her blog post, Nancy Loderick shares how even risk takers can become afraid of things. Read how empowered she felt when she faced her challenge.

Nancy also reminds us that we have choices about how to treat ourselves when facing our fears — ridicule or reaffirmation. Why not be like Nancy next time one of your mountains turns out to be a molehill and congratulate yourself for learning and growing?

Life is too short to play bully with yourself. Celebrate your victories and let your new-found knowledge lead to more action!

What fear do you need to face? Why don’t you share your struggle-victory story in the comments section below?

Face Your Fear by Nancy Loderick at nancyloderick.com.

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Are You Holding Yourself Back?

Have you ever seen the rush hour in a major metropolitan area? I used to work in downtown Washington, DC. Lots of people, regardless of economic status use public transportation, at least part of the time. Why? Because it works very efficiently.

Suzanne Lucas, another Inc.com blogger lives in Basel, Switzerland, another town with an excellent public transportation network. She noticed that out-of-towners tend to take cabs when arriving in town. It was going to take them more time waiting for a taxi than to take public transportation. Why? It was what they knew.

Is your thinking holding you back?

Do you always rely on what you already know when approaching a problem or situation? I am not suggesting you not develop habits and use them to manage and control your life. But do you take time to check new situations to see if your assumptions still hold?

When encountering a new situation, ask yourself questions. Think things through. You might know the answers, but maybe not. Research those things. Don’t rely on assumptions, find the better way.

Will You Leave Your Comfort Zone? Ask Yourself This Question by Suzanne Lucas at inc.com

The King of Happiness

Chip Conley at TED. From chipconley.com

Chip Conley at TED. From chipconley.comI was stuck, looking for some inspiration on a project today and sought out some TED talks for inspiration. If you aren’t familiar with TED, it is a non-profit and acronym for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Well, I came across a talk called Measuring what makes life worthwhile by Chip Conley. It did not disappoint.

While Chip had lots of great points to make about how people and organizations struggle to move up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, he brought it all into sharp focus talking about the King of Bhutan. Shortly after the 17-year-old assumed the throne in the early 1970’s he was asked about his country’s Gross National Product (GNP – today called the Gross Domestic Product or GDP). The king responded, asking why should we focus on GNP, when we ought to be focused on the happiness and satisfaction of people? This has led to a movement called “Gross National Happiness.”

Of course, you cannot achieve what you do not measure, and for many it is especially difficult to measure an intangible such as happiness. However, the pursuit of happiness is exactly what Jefferson reminded us was a natural right. So, why shouldn’t we find a way to measure it?

In the end, Chip doesn’t offer any specific prescriptions for what people should measure, but he does offer questions you can ask yourself to begin to move in this direction, “…what less obvious metrics could we use to actually evaluate our employee’s sense of meaning, or our customers’ sense of connection with us?”  There are many things you can study to increase employee satisfaction with their jobs and customer/client connection with your company.

A key point is that you don’t have to choose between having either a great culture with happy workers and customers or a very profitable organization. Both are possible with some planning. And wouldn’t happy workers who find meaning in their work serving clients who value your products and services, not just for what they do but for how they make the customer’s life better lead to opportunities to make a fair profit for giving so much value to so many people?

What intangibles do you think show happiness and satisfaction for your life? For your organization? For your customers? Why not share some of your ideas in the comments section below?

And if you have about 15 minutes, why not enjoy Chip Conley’s TED Talk. You will be glad you did.

Chip Conley: Measuring what makes life worthwhile at TED.com

DON’T Do These Things!

The Inc. Magazine blogs are a great source of inspiration and tips for running a business, or even doing your job better if you aren’t the boss. Writer Jeff Haden recently posted an article on 8 things you should not do every day. He was focused on productivity, and these will make you more productive. They are also great tips for leaders, and I’ll share why:

  1. Don’t check your cell phone when talking to someone. One rule leaders follow is to “be present.” Which is more important to you, the person you are with or something that might be going on elsewhere? If the answer is your phone, then maybe you should end your conversation and do the more productive thing. Anyway, how do you feel when somebody interrupts your conversation to check their phone?
  2. Don’t multi-task at meetings. Haden talks about how much you’ll learn because probably everyone else is multi-tasking, which is an interesting point. But as with point one, what are you communicating as a leader? (And if you don’t see yourself as “the leader,” what are you telling your leader?) If your time is more valuable spent elsewhere, do that. If someone “made” you go to the meeting, maybe they know something you don’t. If you want to be sure you get the most from any meeting, take a few minutes ahead of time and prepare for it. You will be surprised just how much more productive you will be at a meeting if you know why you are there.
  3. Don’t think about people who don’t make any difference in your life. Too many of us spend our lives worrying about what others think. I know I used to do it. One way to stop this problem is to know what you value and your goals so that you can be busy thinking about what is important. Need to think about people? Why not think about the people you are grateful to have as part of your life?
  4. Don’t use multiple notifications. Notifications are interruptions to your work flow, Haden reminds us. He makes the point about focus I made in the first two points. As a leader, you need to focus on what is important. Schedule the time you will be looking at email, etc.
  5. Don’t let the past dictate your future. When hiring, I am a big proponent of “behavioral interviewing” because the best indicator of what someone will do in the future is to see what they have done in the past. However, the big caveat to this dictum is when someone has had an intervening significant experience. If you have decided to change and you are on a path of change, you do not have to be shackled to your past. Others might continue to judge you based on your past, but remember #3 above…
  6. Don’t wait until you are sure you will succeed. When I teach people about goal setting, I teach them to find some small step to do that day that moves them toward their goal. Taking action is the only way to ensure success. Don’t wait. Act.
  7. Don’t talk behind someone’s back. Leaders don’t gossip. If you have a problem with someone, let it be between you and them. If you are willing to engage in gossip, others will wonder if you gossip about them, too. This does not strengthen your influence as a leader. Talk about things that matter and help move you toward your goals.
  8. Don’t say “yes” when you really mean “no.” One of your most important jobs as a leader is to have a vision and keep yourself and your team moving toward it. When you allow others to insert their priorities into your schedule, your agenda suffers. This was Rip Van Winkle’s problem. He was so busy helping his neighbors that he neglected his own duties. No wonder his wife was unhappy!

As leaders we are busy thinking about the things we should do, but as Jeff reminds us, there are things we really should not do, if we are going to succeed. At the Chic-fil-a Leadercast a couple years back, Jim Collins talked about having a “to-don’t” list along side your “to-do” list. These make a good start, but make your own list. What are the distractions that get in the way of you being more productive and successful? Why not intentionally remind yourself to steer clear of them?

 

8 Things You Should Not Do Every Day by Jeff Haden at Inc.

 

Expert advice for keeping on task

Our friends at Under30CEO polled a number of successful entrepreneurs to find out what they do to keep on task, even with hectic schedules. Some of the ideas are technologies, others are behaviors, some are attitudes. Enjoy the list:

  1. Turn off the Dopamine Drip — Break your addiction to email and social media. Use them wisely.
  2. Make Yourself Accountable — A challenge when you are the boss and don’t have someone to hold you accountable. As Nike says, “Just Do It.”
  3. Segment Time into Tasks — Focus on the most important things and dedicate time to them.
  4. Keep Certain Rituals — Regularly doing things such as planning your next day the night before can help you make sure you are prepared.
  5. Manage Tasks with ANY.DO — An Android-based task list
  6. Work Well with Wunderlist — I use this one on my Apple products, iPad, iPhone, and MacBook Air. You can even share lists with team members.
  7. Leave it all to Asana — an online productivity app. I’ve not played with it yet, but it looks interesting…
  8. Touch Base with the Team — keeping people in the loop daily helps keep coordinated and provide accountability
  9. Learn to Reset Yourself — Figure out how to get back on track when distracted — then remember how you did it for the future!
  10. Stick to a Critical Triad — Don’t mistake busy for productive, ask “What 3 critical tasks must I get done today?”
  11. Multitasking is Overrated — It is best to try to focus on just one thing at a time. Try carving out time so you can do this…
  12. Stay in the Moment — Don’t get overwhelmed with all you think you have to do. Just do what you need to now and attend to the other stuff in its turn.
  13. Set Ground Rules — As a leader, you have to give time to others, but need time for what you must do, too. Make it clear when people can or should interact and hold them to it.

What things do you do to keep on task? Why not share them below?

13 Ways to Manage Your (Hectic) Schedule and Stay On Task at Under30CEO

Walking the Talk in Michigan

Man of Integrity: Judge Raymond Voet
The Fayetteville Observer | photo by Greg Barnes

The news is chock full of instances about a leader’s ethical lapse. But how often do we read stories about someone really leading by example? The Associated Press put out a story recently about a Michigan judge, the Honorable Raymond Voet, who held himself in contempt of court in his own courtroom!

Judge Voet has a posted rule in his court that those whose electonic devices interrupt proceedings will be held in contempt. On April 12, 2013, His Honor’s new smartphone started asking for voice commands during some closing arguments in his court. At the break, he held himself in contempt and paid a fine of $25. Judge Voet feels that if he can’t live by his own rules, he has no business enforcing them on others.

My mentor John Maxwell says that you have to live what you teach because you are your message. Judge Voet has sent a powerful message to those who will come before his court that even he is not above the law. That is a powerful message for all civil servants to remember.

Judge Holds Himself in Contempt for His Smartphone by the Associated Press

What to Do — and Not

Man-Working-TableA couple of years back on the Chic-fil-A Leadercast, John Maxwell was having a conversation with Good to Great author JIm Collins and Jim mentioned that he has a “to-do” list AND a “to-don’t” list. Author Peter Bergman recently blogged about this topic at Lifehacker.

Peter shared a story about how busy we can get doing things because we are trying to leverage our time, etc. He was running late to a meeting and as he entered the elevator where his client’s office was located, he pulled out his smartphone and began typing an email to the CEO with whom he was meeting. When the elevator stopped, still typing away, he started to get off when a familiar voice said, “Wrong floor.” Of course, it was his client!

His client was a finalist for an “entrepreneur of the year” award, and was just returning from a meeting with the judges. He had made two explicit decisions before entering the room with the judges: he wanted to win; and he was not going to look at his Blackberry while in the room.

Many of us know what we want, but how many of us know what we don’t want? As Bergman points out, many keep lists of what they want, but how many keep a list of things we don’t want?

Rather than Collins’ cute “to-do / to-don’t” names, Bergman calls his lists:

  • Your Focus List (the road ahead)
  • Your Ignore List (the distractions)

Isn’t that the real challenge we have, keeping focused and ignoring distractions?

Develop your own lists and review them daily. When you know what you really want and what you need to avoid, you will be more productive and increase your influence with others.

 

Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning at Lifehacker

 

Empowerment is Influence

MP900341425Susan Mazza, a fellow leadership coach, on her blog at Random Acts of Leadership shared a powerful and touching story about empowerment, taking risks, and the influence it gives a leader… and as my mentor John Maxwell says, “The true measure of Leadership is Influence–nothing more, nothing less.”

Susan’s father, Jim, was faced with a dilemma. Walt was a valuable employee. Walt  was also unhappy. Jim visited him in Walt’s office. After reassuring Walt that he was not going to fire him, Jim offered the junior man two recruiter contacts and suggested that he explore what were his options. “Personally, I hope you stay, but I know a bright guy like you has options,” Jim said. “It is important for you to know what is out there. Please keep me posted. My door is always open.”

Why do this? Walt’s unhappiness was becoming clear to all. Jim realized that creating awareness of the problem and helping Walt figure out what he was going to do would be much more helpful to everyone than Walt continuing to stew and affect the team. Addressing the problem made it safe to discuss openly and constructively.

In the end, Walt stayed. He and Jim became close, lifelong friends, and continued the mentor relationship throughout their careers.  Choose to empower those around you. When your people know that you value them and you help them do their best, you will be able to accomplish so much more than you ever did before. As Steve Jobs said, “Managing is getting people to do something they don’t want to do. Leadership is helping people discover they can do much more than they thought they could.”

The Ultimate Source of Empowerment at Random Acts of Leadership

Related Posts

Leading People: A Guide to Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws (Part 1) at Leading in the 21st Century

Eating Right — What We Can All Agree On

The updated USDA food pyramid, published in 20...

The updated USDA food pyramid, published in 2005, is a general nutrition guide for recommended food consumption for humans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nutrition is a hotbed topic, and there are lots of views on what really is right for people to eat. Kris Gunnars, a blogger at io9.com, posted a thoughtful post about consensus ideas, regardless of your approach to nutrition. The article does a good job of sharing those varied points, so check out the full article:

  1. Added sugar is a disaster. 
  2. Omega-3 Fats are crucial and most people don’t get enough
  3. There is no perfect diet for everyone
  4. Trans fats are very unhealthy and should be avoided
  5. Eating vegetables will improve your health
  6. It is critical to avoid a vitamin D deficiency
  7. Refined carbohydrates are bad for you
  8. Supplements can never fully replace real foods
  9. “Diets” don’t work, a lifestyle change is necessary
  10. Unprocessed food is healthiest

Hard to argue with this list, isn’t it? How many of these do you really live by?

The Rules of Good Nutrition (That Absolutely Everybody Agrees On) at io9.com

The Joys of Mastery

Bond as Lady Angela in Patience, 1881

It is a joy to watch a master at work. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

In today’s microwave mentality society, we tend to think everything is easy and instant. The truth is that most things need time and effort to master.

 

Mastery is a joy to witness. There is a difference between being good and truly mastering anything. So how can you master you skill set? Pamela Slim at Escape from Cubicle Nation shares 10 ideas with us:

 

  1. Learn Patience
  2. Practice the Basics
  3. Appreciate the source of your materials
  4. Deconstruct everything
  5. Set boundaries
  6. Make your space holy
  7. Cultivate your voice
  8. Swallow your pride
  9. Punch through the bag
  10. When imitated, don’t retaliate, innovate

 

Some of these things are obvious, others not. As an Executive Coach, many of her suggestions rang true and are things I regularly recommend to clients. I especially loved #3 and #6. Mastery comes not just from making you better, but by appreciating all the elements of your process, including the raw materials. As for making my space holy… well, let’s just say I am working on that one. I appreciate the challenge Pamela offers with it and am working to make it true in my space. (My wife appreciates this!)

 

Mastery makes you more attractive. I hope this list gets you thinking about how you can become a master, too.

 

 

 

10 Ways to Develop a Mastery Mindset at Escape from Cubicle Nation