Home Videos Jennifer Testimonials Keynotes Clients Event Profs Training Blog Contact

Are You Playing Small?

Have You Questioned Your Own Biases?

January 22, 2018

I was reminded, today, of a class that I took a year ago called Hard Conversations on Racism, by Patti Digh. As a very open-minded individual with a multi-cultural family, I thought I would be immune to all of the offenses that would be taught in the class... I was wrong. So very wrong. Because we see ourselves as balanced, accepting, and open adults, we often overlook that we have Single Stories Around Race. We have Single Stories Around Poverty. Single Stories Around Gender. Single Stories Around Sexuality. Single Stories Around Size. Single Stories Around Generations. Single Stories Around Religion. Single Stories Around Culture. Single Stories Around Demographics. Single Stories Around Politics. Single Stories Around History.

 

Single Stories. 

 

It's not because we are bad people. It's not because we have been raised poorly. It's not because we have hatred in our heart. It's not because we are ignorant. 

 

It's because we are HUMAN. 

 

Your Single Stories are your fully lived personal experiences, your perspectives from your front porch, and your stories that you learned from family lore, sometimes passed down through generations. Your Single Stories are a part of you, like the color of your eyes or the hair on your head. Your Single Stories are like glasses that you wear, which give you feelings, opinions, and positions about the world around you. But, do they serve you? REALLY serve you? More importantly, do they serve your team, your community, our world? Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Writer Chimamanda Adichie warns that if we hear only a Single Story about another person, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

 

I encourage you to question your Single Stories. Talk about them. Twist them around in your heart a bit. Think on them. Feel them. Question them. Own them. Maybe even... drop them. 

 

If we could all let go of our Single Stories- truly let them go- imagine how much kinder, more empathetic, more compassionate, and even happier we could ALL be. If we could eliminate bias, allow ourselves to be fully open and accepting of the Different, Confusing, and New, imagine how interesting and stimulating life would feel. I believe this is possible if we just start having the hard conversations with ourselves, first. 

 

It only, ever and always starts with ME... with YOU... right?

Are You Working Your Business?

January 15, 2018

It's easy to sit back and ride the wave of success, but how long are you guaranteed to reap the rewards of the initial investment or effort? What was impressive a few years ago doesn't necessarily have the same relevancy or benefits that it once did. Healthy businesses are evolving and growing, regularly, which means YOU must evolve and grow, regularly.

 

-We need to touch our business daily-- an addition, an update, a tweak, or upgrade, every day, will allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of the inevitable ebb and flow of your industry. Is your tech up to date? Are your goals still on point? Is your business model an example to others? Is your vision accurate? This incredible business of yours is not guaranteed, so treat it with a massive amount of respect because it could be gone, if it's ignored. You've created magic... now you have to keep that fire lit.

 

-We need to self-evaluate regularly: are you focusing on the right things, moving toward a relevant goal, and staying up on the hottest trends? If we lose touch of our own development, we won't be able to stay effective in running a marketable business. Read more. Write more. Evaluate your goals. Take a class. Stretch yourself. Get uncomfortable. If you're not ON, your business won't be either. A sharpened saw is not sharp forever, so stay up on your own development.

 

-Are you taking the temperature of your employees? Do they still have a pep in their step? Are they smiling, even when you're not around? Are they hungry to learn and grow? I always say, "if you're not developing your people, someone else will". Check in. Ask their opinion. Measure their energy. Watch their partner and customer interactions. If you're paying attention, you will get the answers... then you must take action. You cannot allow them to get bored, feel unimportant, or lose focus-- this is the engine to your business and they need to know they are valued.

 

You need to see your business, team, or organization as your baby. Care for it, nurture it, and guide it, correct the mis-steps, and redirect with wisdom. If you put the time in consistently, you should have extraordinary results and gratification for decades to come.

 

Onward... I believe in you.

Trust Your Gut!

September 25, 2017

 

How do you feel about using your gut feeling?  Does it feel risky? Irrational? Unpracticed? Unpredictable? If you answered yes to that, trust me, you're not alone.  Some of the most talented and immensely effective people in the world attribute their great success to one powerful, yet readily available, ability: their gut instinct. And that one ability is something we are all born with, yet very few of us actually work to develop beyond even the most basic level. Trusting that instinct, or intuition, takes practice because it goes against the better judgment of our logical mind.

 

 

For me, there is always a fight between my mind and my soul. The mind keeps me doubting and worrying and can lead to a road of pain and confusion; on the positive side, my mind also keeps me grounded. But the soul seems to be quietly whispering and offering encouragement of kindness and endurance; my soul seems to fuel my hope and belief. Unfortunately, in true “Jen Fashion”, I tend to listen to my logical, analytical mind and I turn everything over a hundred different ways, as I try to find “the right answer”. 

 

 

I need to work harder at allowing myself to feel my way through situations with my soul, and not to let my mind judge, compare or destroy. While there is a time and place for my logical mind, I find that it often gets caught in over-analysis when what was really needed in the moment was TO LISTEN. Listening to my soul, really my gut instinct or intuition, allows me to find a different perspective and additional options for, seemingly, no-win situations. 

 

SO WHAT IS GUT INSTINCT?

“Gut instincts are the sum total of your experiences — millions and millions and millions of them. And that sum total enables you to make reasonable decisions,” says Bob Lutz, who used that instinct to turn around Chrysler in the 1990’s. Instinct, the opposite of logical reasoning, tell us viscerally if something feels right or wrong. And it signals us in a variety of ways:

 

• When a decision isn’t right, we may experience sweaty palms, sleeplessness, an upset stomach, or loss of energy.

 

• If our gut is telling us we’ve made the right decision, we may feel a sense of peace and ease, or tingling and goose bumps on arms or legs.

 

When people say they’re “listening to their gut,” they really mean that their intuition is guiding them in making a decision. We all have this innate ability to listen to that inner voice telling us not to go through with something, or that the person asking us for help might have ulterior motives. We can essentially decode this indescribable gut feeling we get in certain situations, because that pang in your stomach, sudden bout of fatigue, or strong urge to help the person next to you can reveal more than you think.

 

Scientists say that our subconscious stores all kinds of information, knowledge and experiences, and they connect with each other in that magical moment when it comes to making a decision. It is suggested that there is an inner voice, a feeling, that tells us what to do. But because we don’t know where it comes from- and why it knows what to do - we simply don’t trust it. We hesitate.

 

 

 

HOW TO FIND YOUR GUT

Sometimes we have trouble tapping into our instincts. The noise in our heads from over-reasoning cancels out the signals that could help guide us. Unstuck, the free app, has put together four unscientific but effective methods to locate your gut instinct.

 

1. Procrastinate. This is the one time that distracting yourself can help get you unstuck. By doing something else, you clear the clutter in your brain. Physical activity is a great way to focus elsewhere. Reading a novel, going to a movie, doing chores, or shopping also are good distractions.

 

2. Daydream. By letting your mind wander, it will take you places that reasoning can’t. This mental meandering will calm your thoughts, making way for feelings.

 

3. Set a time limit. When you push yourself to make a decision under time pressure, you don’t have time to think, only to feel. 

 

4. Test your feelings. Once you make a decision, notice how your body responds to it. Are you anxious? Do you feel at ease?

 

 

 

Along with allowing space for our intuition to flourish, we also have to be willing to listen to the messages that are being sent. Here are 3 gut feelings that you don’t want to ignore:

 

1. “I DON’T FEEL GOOD.”

If something in your body doesn’t feel right, you should listen to this feeling before it gets any worse. Your body instinctively knows when something is off balance, and those initial warning signs warrant your acknowledgment and further investigating to find out what your intuition is trying to tell you. 

 

On another note, pay attention to how you feel every time you interact with someone. Do you feel drained, anxious or depressed? These feelings have come to the surface for a reason – by listening to yourself intuitively, you can determine which people in your life suck your energy dry, and who actually makes you feel alive. Your intuition speaks to you in many ways, so never ignore any “off” feelings you get, no matter how subtle.

 

2. “THIS SITUATION SEEMS DANGEROUS.”

I bet you’ve had situations where your intuition was on high alert and you believe, in your gut, that you dodged a bullet—I know I have, without question. The fight-or-flight response in humans was designed to warn us of immediate danger, and move us to act on that feeling. While our gut instincts can have flaws, you should listen to them regardless – they might just save your life.

 

3. “I SHOULD HELP THAT PERSON.”

Gut instincts don’t always indicate something negative. Have you ever noticed how everyone scrambles to offer whatever help they can after a natural or man-made disaster? This strong desire to assist our fellow humans comes prewired in our evolution as a species. Offer help even if the person in question doesn’t ask for it – nonverbal cues can offer much more insight than words in these types of situations.

 

Like everything else, allowing a new skill into your process takes time. The great thing is, you have this skill built in—you just need to use it. Listen to your gut feelings instead of brushing them aside. Your intuition may not always steer you right, but it can be a useful first step in decision-making, reading people, and guiding your choices. Remember what Einstein said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. “

Stepping Up For Houston

August 28, 2017

Several years ago, while giving a class in Dallas for the McDonalds US headquarters, suddenly everyone’s emergency alert systems on their phones went off. We knew that the weather was bad outside, but we quickly found out that something much bigger was upon us. Tornadoes were bearing down on Oklahoma and over half of my audience frantically jumped out of their seats and fled home to their families. We were 3 hours from the tornado and many of these employees had come into headquarters for the training, from the affected area.

 

It was May 2013 and an F5 tornado had hit Moore, Oklahoma. Being that close to a natural disaster of that magnitude was unsettling. I remember being stranded, unable to leave Dallas, due to the weather. I remember attempting to contact The Red Cross to see if I could stay to help in recovery, but being denied. I remember watching as the disaster assistance organizations told volunteers to stay away because of the live power lines on the ground. I remember feeling helpless.

 

After I got home, a friend and I decided that we had to do something and we started a pop up disaster recovery organization called Girlz On A Mission. If we couldn’t get anyone to accept our help, we were going to do it ourselves. We collected enough donations to fill a 26-foot truck and brought $20,000.00 in cash donations down to Oklahoma, with a small team. We passed out donations, supplies and bought specifics for our devastated countrymen with the donated money. It was a remarkable, life-changing moment, for all of us, and I can’t help but feel that familiar tug as I watch what is happening in Houston.

 

As we all watch the news of hurricane Harvey and see the massive devastation, many people are looking for ways to help in the recovery. There are often concerns about where the money will go, whether sending money is the correct way to respond, and how to choose where your money will best be allocated.

 

So, this week, I’m simply giving you a list of organizations that are collecting resources for those in need. It’s time for all of us to help, somehow. Each of the suggested resources, below, have a link for you to donate. Also, after the long list of food banks, there are additional resources for kids, animals, the homeless, and the displaced, below.

 

Red Cross

The American Red Cross is working around the clock to provide safe shelter and comfort for the hundreds of thousands of people impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is assisting in the care of thousands of displaced Texans, and working to restore homes. Learn more about how to support their efforts here.

 

The Salvation Army

https://give.salvationarmyusa.org/site/Donation2?df_id=27651&mfc_pref=T&27651.donation=form1

 

FOOD BANKS:

Houston Food Bank

The Houston Food Bank is providing immediate food distribution to families most in need. Donate now or learn more about how to volunteer at houstonfoodbank.org.

 

Galveston Food Bank

409-945-4232

galvestoncountyfoodbank.org

 

Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria)

361-578-0591

victoriafoodbank.org

Closed Friday

 

Corpus Christi Food Bank

361-887-6291

foodbankcc.com

 

Southeast Texas Food Bank (Beaumont)

409-839-8777

setxfoodbank.org

 

Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley (Pharr)

956-682-8101

foodbankrgv.com

 

Brazos Valley Food Bank (Bryan)

979-779-3663

bvfb.org

 

Central Texas Food Bank (Austin)

512-282-2111

centraltexasfoodbank.org

 

San Antonio Food Bank

210-337-3663

safoodbank.org

 

TO HELP KIDS:

The Texas Diaper Bank, which is based out of San Antonio, is putting together relief kit for families with very small children who need access to clean diapers in the midst of flooding and evacuations. Diapers take up a lot of space in a delivery truck, which means that other relief organizations have to decide between bringing diapers or food to affected areas. The Texas Diaper Bank fills in that need.

The Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi weathered the storm well, never losing power. It’s accepting financial donations now, and if you live in the area and want to help, you can also donate blood. They serve a large area, and people from many affected parts of the coast are likely to need their services.

Save the Children

Save the Children is delivering family-friendly relief supplies, setting up child-friendly spaces in shelters, providing specially trained staff to help children, and planning for long-term recovery needs. Support their Hurricane Harvey relief efforts here.

 

TO HELP ANIMALS:

We all saw the photo of the dog carrying the full bag of food around after the storm, right? Good boy, Otis. And there are a lot of pets who were uprooted by the storm. The SPCA of Texas is taking in hundreds of animals transferred from shelters on the coast who aren’t safe where they are right now. You can donate to the organization to help defray the costs—or you can open your home and foster a displaced animal until it can be reunited with its owner.

If you’re in Austin and want to work with a local org, Austin Pets Alive! is doing similar work, and has similar needs—cash, to keep operating, and volunteers to foster animals. They can also use certain pet supplies: large plastic or metal bins with lids to store food, leashes and collars, cat litter, large brooms, cat-specific beds, and liquid laundry soap. (The organization says they’re good on crates and pet food now, and don’t have much space to store them.)

 

TO HELP PEOPLE WITH MEDICAL NEEDS:

Even as relief organizations work to help large numbers of people, it’s difficult sometimes for them to provide for people with special needs. Portlight, which has provided inclusive relief to people with disabilities for twenty years—including in Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy—is working to ensure that people who require medical equipment and assistive technology have what they need after they evacuate, and to make sure that those same folks are able to get to safety. They accept donations via PayPal.

Direct Relief USA offers prescription drugs and other medical supplies to those who need it in emergency situations, and works with clinics and primary care doctors to ensure that people are able to get what they need when they need it. They’re accepting financial contributions.

 

TO HELP THE HOMELESS:

The Houston Coalition for the Homeless is facilitating shelter for homeless people in Houston, including offering up-to-date information about which shelters currently have space, who’s the best fit for each one, and how to get there safely. They’re accepting financial donations to continue their work.

 

TO HELP THOSE DISPLACED:

If you’re not in one of the affected areas and you have a spare room, you can host someone by listing your home on Airbnb for free, with no service fees to anyone. Right now, most of the listings are in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. If you’re in any of those cities—or another part of the state that’s not experiencing flooding—you might consider listing your space so displaced people have more options.

In Dallas, Trusted World is operating three shelters for evacuees. They need donations, supplies (clean clothing, non-perishable food, toiletries, diapers, and baby formula), and volunteers to help sort out the things that people have dropped off.

Global Giving is trying to raise $2 million to help those affected by the storm. As of this writing, they’ve raised $43,000, but the campaign had just launched. The organization provides food, gas, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter in the short-term, and then funnels the remaining resources to local organizations to facilitate long-term recovery.

HEB doesn’t accept donations, but it’s worth being aware that the supermarket chain provides emergency response services, mobile kitchens, and disaster-response units to affected areas. (They also announced on Sunday that they’d be collecting donations at the register for the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, and Feeding Texas.) That’s especially important as a number of stores in affected areas (including the entire Houston area) are closed. You can learn more about which stores are closed—and which ones have reopened—here.

 

Now is the time for all of us to lay down our swords and take care of our brothers and sisters who are in harm's way. I hope you will take advantage of this list and make a donation. Already made one? Make another. $100 may sting a tad, but it will be a lifeline to someone who has just lost everything.

 

Peace be with you, Houston. 

Maximizing Your Intellectual Curiosity

August 21, 2017

Today, so many of us found ourselves joined together, chins lifted to the sky, silly glasses on our faces, and a giddiness pulsing through us, as we participated in the 2017 eclipse.  The posts on social media are so fun and uplifting, as everyone seems to be riding this collective wave of curiosity.  Isn’t this human connection wonderful?  Many of us have marched through this process before but the wonder and excitement seemed to grab us, again, by the shorthairs and send a little charge through our bodies.

 

This experience, this morning, got me thinking about how human beings crave curiosity and wonder. Curiosity is an important trait of a genius. I don’t think you can find an intellectual giant who is not a curious person. You may have often heard the phrase “be childlike” encouraged when we are in an idea generation mode. A childlike perspective encourages our adult self to let go of the adult ego and be more open and curious. When we allow ourselves to go into that space, we often create new, fresh and unique ideas. The unfortunate truth is that we lose our sense of wonder as we become adults.

 

I remember when I turned 16 and got my first car, my Dad insisted that I go an entire year without a radio and told me to think about things that I could invent.  Now, looking back, I’m sure his directive was more about safety, but the fact is, it ignited my innovative and curious mind.  During that year, I came up with a couple great ideas that are now common goods that are used, universally.  #truth  And, no, I didn’t do anything with the ideas, but I still claim them as mine!  What I learned from that process, and continue to teach to this day, is that human beings love to PLAY.  We love to play with ideas, we love to play with strategic processes, and we love for work to feel like play.  When we get to create and fan the flames of curiosity, it feels like we are playing, which ignites our soul.

 

Author Mary Cronk Farrell says that we should find things in our every day life to be curious about, in order to increase our mental health and happiness:

Be curious when somebody gets under your skin. 

Ask yourself what your reaction reveals about you. When we blame others, we lose options, we get stuck and feel powerless. When we ask questions, we gain options and the freedom to make new choices.

 

Be curious about your thoughts. 

Many of our thoughts are not true, but we go on believing them. Moment by moment we let our thoughts say terrible things about us, things we'd never say to a friend. Pause, investigate, acknowledge some of our thoughts are ridiculous, or just plain wrong. Being curious, seeing useless, hurtful thoughts for what they are helps us begin to let them go.  ​

 

Be curious about your emotions. 

Exploring our feelings helps us act with more clarity and wisdom. Letting emotions like fear, anger and pain go unacknowledged creates hidden motives. It sounds backward, but understanding our feelings actually helps us make more rational choices. ​

 

Be curious about your everyday surroundings.

Rushing through the same routine day after day we can miss the excitement of being alive. Endless mystery awaits our attention, genius even. Both Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein were sitting daydreaming when everyday sights sparked amazing ideas. Newton saw an apple fall from a tree, was curious, and discovered gravity and the laws of motion. Einstein saw a builder on the rooftop, was curious what would happen if he fell, and extended his theory of relativity to gravity. 

 

Be curious about other people.

There's a theory we're hardwired to hang with people like us and feel threatened by those who look different, act different or believe different. Supposedly, it goes back to the days of running around in bands protecting our food sources. But if we let go of our fear and our judgments and open our minds to discovery, relationships become more complex, more interesting, more intimate. People are fascinating if we give them a chance.

 

The life of curious people is far from boring. It’s neither dull nor routine. There are always new things that attract their attention, there are always new ‘toys’ to play with. Instead of being bored, curious people have an adventurous life.  What do you need to shift, in order to start seeing the world with a bit more wonder and curiosity?

 

Following are 15 ideas to kick start your childlike perspective and maximize your intellectual curiosity:

 

  1. Ask questions, relentlessly
  2. Take a different route home
  3. Join an online page to inspire your dreams
  4. Dig a little deeper in your conversations
  5.  Don’t label things as boring—try it, again
  6. Take a lesson on something you’ve never done
  7. Start reading the classics
  8. Learn a new language
  9. Get on Google earth and re-trace the steps of a vacation
  10. Get on Google earth and plan a dream trip
  11. Go to a local historical/famous spot in your community
  12. Go paint something
  13. Join a group/class on something you’ve been curious about
  14. Start a puzzle/crossword/ mystery novel—get your brain working
  15. Reach out to a seemingly untouchable expert that you admire and start a meaningful and challenging discussion

 

 

As many of us experienced with the eclipse, curiosity is a wonderful thing that creates energy, excitement and fun.  Today, I watched little ones and seniors sharing their glasses, as well as their wonder, as they looked to the sky, connected.  As we grow older and more demands are put on our time, it’s even more important that we stay intellectually curious.  So, shake up your life strategically, and allow yourself to get out of your routine—we could all benefit from seeing things with a new and curious lens.

 

Onward!

Committing To Rigorous Self-Care During Difficult Times

August 14, 2017

Ooooooooof…

Division, tension, political views, and emotions are running high, today, aren’t they?  It was certainly a tough weekend.  Instead of waxing poetic about what we should all think, feel and do, around this event, I thought I’d just remind you of 25 things to help you with your own self-care:

 

  1. Talk about it
  2. Unplug and take a break
  3. Look for the helpers
  4. Look for resources
  5. Channel your emotion into something positive
  6. Honor your feelings
  7. Take care of yourself
  8. Help someone else
  9. Take a long walk
  10. Write a letter to get it all out… and then re-write another if you can’t let it go
  11. Go take a yoga class
  12. Go get a massage
  13. Join an organization
  14. Start a blog/ Write in a journal
  15. Go to bed early—restore and recharge
  16. Go see a funny movie
  17. Engage in your hobby/ Start a hobby
  18. Restore with your faith or meditation
  19. Go do something daring—conquer a fear and take control
  20. Do some grounding—go lay in the grass
  21. Find solitude in a task that allows you to tune everyone else out
  22. Do something creative
  23. Take a bath/ luxuriate
  24. Call someone you love and catch up
  25. Set boundaries without guilt

 

Even if a particular event is no longer in the news cycle, that doesn't mean that we're finished processing it. Be respectful of yourself and your needs. Rigorous self-care habits are a wonderful healing ally to get us through tough times.

 

Much love, to you… we’ll get through this.

Are You Up For A 30-Day Gratitude Challenge?

August 7, 2017

Everyday gratitude… a smile, a wave into traffic, a door held, a nod. We all know how good we feel when we are thanked, or a kind gesture is extended.  But are you extending enough? 

 

I just got home from spending the last 3.5 hours having lunch with my mom and my cup runneth over.  I’ve laughed all traces of makeup off because I’m a crier when I laugh.  I ‘m certain we alarmed several guests with our spontaneous howling, cackling, and screeching.  We told hysterical stories about my Dad who passed away, which still have me giggling as I’m typing:

 

Him: What store are we looking for?

Her: Guess.

Him: Just tell me.

Her: Guess.

Him: Which store are we going to?

Her: I said Guess. 

Him: Quit playing around!

 

And another…

 

Her: I’m lost in this city and can’t find what I’m looking for.

Him: Where are you?

Her: Wynn

Him: Right now.  Where are you?

Her: Wynn

Him: Honey, calm down. I need you to focus and tell me where you are, right now.

Her: Wynn

Him: NOW! Tell me NOW!

 

It all just went on and on and on.

Throughout the hysteria, I hit the table, did the “mime laugh” where you laugh so hard that nothing comes out, I snorted and coughed, and thought I was choking.  It was a truly fabulous lunch.  We all need way more lunches like this in our lives.

 

As I was driving home it dawned on me how fortunate I am.  I am so incredibly grateful to have this relationship with my mom.  I mean, she’s MINE, which is really, really great, right?  I, seriously, lucked out.  Then, I started thinking about life without her and it made me wonder if I do enough to let her know how much I appreciate and love her. Do I call enough?  Do I text enough?  Do I make enough time, for her? As much as I don’t like to think about it, my time with her is limited and I need to make sure that I am putting my gratitude into overdrive.  Sadly, I realized that I don't do enough… and, I’m changing that, today.

 

So, this week, I want to encourage you to kick your gratitude up a notch and join me for a 30 Day Gratitude Challenge. We all know that gratitude can increase your happiness and wellbeing. There’s plenty of research that focuses on mindful or formal gratitude, with participants doing deliberate writing activities that boost their mood. Studies also show overwhelming effects of casual or everyday gratitude with married couples and friendship when it becomes the fabric of the relationships; those who thank each other more often have happier marriages, and thanking friends or acquaintances creates stronger and longer bonds. 

 

Stronger and happier bonds… What’s not to love about that?

 

Here’s a list of 30 acts of gratitude to aid you in your 30 Day Gratitude Challenge.  Simply follow the suggestions and make one idea your focus, each day. As you add multiple actions of gratitude to your life, your relationships and perspective will change.  It’s magic.  Trust me.

 

So, let’s do this…

 

  1. Be grateful for something you hate
  2. Say “I appreciate you” at least 3 times a day
  3. Count your blessings at the end of the day – start with 3
  4. Seek out one thing to read that brings you joy, per day.
  5. Look for the little benefits in every day life
  6. Say “thank you” for the smallest of things- people deserve to hear it
  7. Start a gratitude journal
  8. Do unexpected acts of kindness
  9. Smile more readily
  10. Let someone go first
  11. Give someone a pass
  12. Say you’re sorry
  13. Share good news
  14. Give a compliment
  15. Share your stuff
  16. Pay it forward
  17. Share your talents
  18. Write thank you cards
  19. Share other people’s talents
  20. Write a love letter
  21. Give a small gift
  22. Donate your time
  23. Let someone ramble- don’t correct them
  24. Be there for someone who needs help
  25. Be a person of honor and grace
  26. Just call to say hi
  27. Send flowers
  28. Do someone’s unpleasant task
  29. Hold the door
  30. Empathize more

 

 

I know that we do these things when we think about them, but how about committing one full month to making it your primary focus.  Can you do it?  What an incredible legacy to be known for being the embodiment of gratitude.  THAT is an honorable life goal.  So, what do you say?

 

Science tells us that grateful people are typically happier people. Being grateful makes us more optimistic and reduces negativity -- and that's a huge reason to make acts of gratitude a daily habit.  I want to live in a world where this is the norm.  I want to be a part of relationships that value each other on this level.  I want my marriage to reflect this.  I want my mom to know that she means the world, to me.  I’ve got some work to do.

 

I’m off to order flowers and send that card… and, I’m committed to 30.  I hope you join me.

 

Onward!

Let's Have More Fun At Work!

July 31, 2017

I had the opportunity to work with a client, last week, and their workplace had the coolest vibe; everyone was fun, lively, upbeat, and funny.  There was an energy… a feeling… a special something that made me want to just hang out in this space and watch these people work.  Their work looked like conversation, like fun, like friendship… dare I say, it looked like PLAY.  I wanted to bottle their culture and share it with every company I know.

 

How do companies like Google, SAS, Hyundai, Limeade, and Discover Card create these fun environments that get them recognized as the best companies to work for in America?  Very simply, they are Employee Centric. Everything is about the employee experience.  The culture is created around what will make people happy, balanced, and healthy.  What a breath of fresh air!

 

Years ago, I went to a training by Bob Pike and he emphasized the need to bring levity and fun into the workplace in order to create a positive employee experience.  According to his book, The Fun Minute Manager, a fun work environment is one in which formal and informal activities occur regularly that are designed to uplift people’s spirits and remind people of their value to their managers, their organization, and to each other.

 

These activities include:

 

  • The use of humor;
  • Games;
  • Celebrations;
  • Opportunities for self development; or
  • Recognition of achievements and milestones.

 

 

Something very strange happens to many of us when we cross the threshold into the workplace, each morning:  Our fun gets extracted. It just disappears and we become these really serious, super responsible, weirdly reactive, fun-less people.  The fun is, literally, ZAPPED out of us.  And, the damnedest thing is, we’re really fun people at home! 

 

Am I right?

 

Alright, so this week, I’ve decided to share some ideas on how we can all duplicate that kind of culture.  I think we could all use less pressure and a little more fun, wouldn’t you say?  And, I know your people would love it, too.

 

Following, you’ll find 52 ideas to make your workplace more fun.  My goal is to give you one thing to add to your culture, each week, so that you can change the vibe, feeling, and commitment levels of those who work for you.  Remember, this is about being employee centric and strategically creating a positive employee experience.  You can do this!

 

  1. Build a Wall of Fame
  2. Get Some Toys (koosh balls, pez dispensers, hula hoops, a sand tray, wooden blocks, origami paper)
  3. Set Up a Game Room in the office
  4. Start a “Fun Committee”
  5. Put out a Daily Riddle
  6. Have a marshmallow fight (variation: every time someone says Hump Day on Wednesdays, they should get pummeled)
  7. Create art together
  8. Hire an expert to come in and lead a Laughter Yoga class in one of your meetings
  9. Compliment someone, every day
  10. Give out little gifts (soda, chips, candy)
  11. Friendly competitions
  12. Create a Fun at Work Day – only fun allowed, no work
  13. Decorate your workspace to fit your personal style
  14. Pranks, jokes, games, raffles, and goofiness
  15. Teammate Trivia
  16. White Elephant auction (just because)
  17. Create special interest groups around hobbies—and join one!
  18. Have more Happy Hour meet ups
  19. Give more standing ovations and high fives
  20. Host an Open House monthly, between departments (food=fun and camaraderie)
  21. Have a meeting outside
  22. Build a house for Habitat for Humanity
  23. Run a 5k together
  24. Volunteer monthly
  25. Let the team members choose their “Subtitle” (Queen Bee of All Things Social, Chief Fun Officer, Director of Creative Celebrations)
  26. Have dress up/theme days beyond “Casual”
  27. Wash an employee’s car by hand
  28. Have a mid-week yummy treat on Wednesdays
  29. Set up an on-site dry cleaner pick up/drop off
  30. Give a lotto ticket to each teammate
  31. Office chair relay race
  32. Have a Root Beer Pong competition
  33. Create a Pun-a-thon
  34. Look up the monthly holidays and celebrate the weirdest ones you can find… National Noodle Month, anybody? Why not have a noodle potluck?
  35. Do an Extreme Office Makeover
  36. Have a movie night
  37. Go to an open mic night
  38. Catch a professional sports event
  39. Create a scavenger hunt around the office
  40. Have a dance break as often as possible
  41. Set up a table with a puzzle on it and let people solve it
  42. Create a coloring book station
  43. Go on field trips
  44. Create a daily ritual that everyone looks forward to
  45. Give out silly awards (Best hair, Greatest attitude, Super Man/ Wonder Woman)
  46. Turn up the tunes
  47. Do a mannequin challenge (or whatever is trending) video
  48. Keep a Candy Stash Drawer stocked
  49. Bring a karaoke machine in and stage your own American Idol
  50. Start a Fun Parade/ Conga Line at 5:00 on a Friday and get people out of the office in style
  51. Create a daily office meme
  52. Start the day with interviews like “The Office” to create a little quirkiness and fun

 

 

The words "work" and "fun" shouldn't be antithetical.  Studies over the last two decades have revealed that when workplaces make fun a factor it creates happier employees who feel more satisfied. And happy employees are all around better at their jobs. Workplace fun has been linked to enhanced motivation, increased productivity, reduced stress, and higher job satisfaction. Think about the things you do every day at work and try to make room for some laughter and team-building fun in the workplace.

 

We all deserve more of this.

 

Onward!

Bad Manners In The Workplace

July 24, 2017

Can we talk about bad manners? I mean the “down and dirty- super annoying- how do you keep your job” bad manners.  It’s the stuff that stops you dead in your tracks and makes you wonder if the person just fell off the turnip truck or crawled out from under a rock.  You know exactly what- and, WHO- I’m talking about, right? 

 

I hate to even talk about this subject.  Really, I do.  It’s reminiscent of the time I had to have the “hygiene talk” with an employee.  There’s nothing fun about it.  It feels trite and naggy, but it’s driving wedges between workplaces.  So, talk we must.  If we share these things, there is a chance that we’ll raise the awareness and conscientious behavior will emerge. We can certainly hope!

 

So, this week we’re going to reveal some uncomfortable and awkward truths about human nature.  Chances are you will recognize someone you know in these words.  Additionally, you may not realize it, but there's a good chance you're doing at least one thing that drives your co-workers nuts, too.  You didn’t expect that left turn, did you? 

 

I was reading an article, this weekend, that mentioned the common annoyances that we all do unknowingly, which end up pushing others away.  It caused me to pause because, on any given day, I can be guilty of any of them.  Do any of these look familiar?

 

  • Making an unreasonable amount of noise
  • Causing chaos in places that are peaceful or calm
  • Being a source of strong smells
  • Engaging in excessive chit chat
  • Doing things that gross people out
  • Touching too much or in unwanted ways
  • Invading others personal space

 

This article really got me thinking about the way I interact with others, while also putting a spotlight on the behaviors of others around me; my radar started working over-time.  Within minutes, I noticed a few things:

 

 

I was reading a Facebook post where a server asked the table to hurry up and pay because he wanted to go home.

That’s bad, right?

 

I was conversing via text and the person would not engage and instead answered everything in one-word answers. Because it was about a transaction, I expected a bit more formality. 

This is weird, right?

 

I was speaking with someone who said that he went to his kid’s job and told off the employer because he had been rude to his son. 

Not normal, right?

 

This blog isn’t to gripe and complain, but to get a little dialogue going so we can identify some of the basic principles/laws of the land/super obvious/rules of the road expectations of each other, in the workplace.  Because we have four different generations attempting to work together and corporate formality is shifting, we have some blurry areas that may need to be sharpened up, a bit. 

 

Following are 10 general rules of thumb that I think we can all agree to.  At least I hope we can.  I’d love to have you add to this list because I’m positive that I’ve forgotten a ton.

 

 

1.  Curb your incessant complaining (I know what you’re thinking… this is dialog, not a complaint!) But, really, the curmudgeonry is exhausting and we don’t want to engage in it.  This isn’t the place and it’s really not helping.  Check it.  If you think you’re being funny, but it’s really just negativity, you better think about how you’re making those around you feel.  We’re tired… please stop.

 

2.  Call someone by the name they’ve given you upon introduction. Don’t shorten it to a nickname until they’ve given you the signal that it’s appropriate or you’ve reached that level of familiarity. And, I’m begging you, don’t use Honey, Babe, Sweetie, or Darlin unless you’re pals.  Them are fightin’ words, these days.

 

3.  Don’t Reply To All.  For the love of all things holy, do not do it.  I mean it.  We’ll find you.

 

4.  Try hard to remember names.  Forgetting someone’s name is very telling about the listener’s character.  And, NO, “I’m bad with names” is not an excuse.  It’s self-centered and shallow.

 

5.  Don’t speak louder to people with accents.  While we’re at it, don’t speak loudly to your food server because you have ridiculous expectations about your short lunch.  And, don’t be The Loud Guy that I have to drown out with headphones, in the office. Watch your volume. We’re all just trying to get by, here.

 

6.  Practice your handshake.  Firm that sucker up.  I don’t care if you are a woman or you are preparing to shake a woman’s hand—give it all you’ve got, dang it. I’m reading you and sizing you up, from moment one, and I promise you that handshake is important.

 

7.  Don’t go on and on and on and on and on when it comes to anything.  Keep your voicemail at 30 seconds. Respect the listener’s/ reader’s/ audience’s time.  Tighten it up.  Get to the point.  Chop-chop.

 

8.  Work on being gracious.  People make mistakes and they don’t need to be constantly reminded of, ridiculed for, or embarrassed about their faux pas.  Give them a pass.  A little grace goes a very long way.

 

9.  Don’t interrupt.  Seriously, just don’t. You may not have told me verbally to Shut Up, but your behavior spoke loud and clear.  Not okay.  Ever. Wait your turn, Speed Racer.

 

10.  Check your non-verbals: look me in the eye, smile, face me when we’re speaking, don’t fidget, don’t check that text, don’t even think about answering the phone, stay dialed into the conversation, and look like you’re interested.  Easy peasy.

 

 

Here are a few other gems that I found from PR Daily who asked, “What drives you crazy in the workplace?”

 

  • When people finish my sentences
  • When people chew gum loudly
  • When people type on the computer while we’re talking
  • Mumbling on a voicemail
  • Write their “Out of office” with spelling errors
  • Complain-criticize-complain-criticize
  • Speaking too quickly on voicemail
  • Repeating everything several times
  • Nervous giggling
  • Trying to impress by topping everything I say
  • Giving monotone presentations
  • Eating while on the phone
  • Forgetting to update their outbound messages upon leaving for, or returning from, vacation
  • Walking like an elephant
  • TMI
  • Leaving messes in the break room
  • Taking care of personal hygiene at your desk
  • Acting as the self-appointed office police

 

Yikes! Are you guilty of any?  The truth is, we all are, at times.  The key is to raise your self-awareness so that you can be conscious of how you make other people feel.  I remember watching Michael Scott from the TV show, The Office, say “If you don’t know who the annoying person in the office is… you’re it”. 

 

We don’t want to be IT, right?

 

A little bit of focus on our workplace manners will go a long way to making our relationships, and our workspaces, so much more enjoyable.  Give us your additional pet peeves in the comments so that we can all raise our awareness and behaviors.  The more we have dialogue around some of these sticky topics, the better we are able to work together, moving forward. 

 

Onward!

Understanding Professionalism in a Rapidly Fluctuating Business Culture

July 17, 2017

I’ve noticed a lot of chatter, recently, around the varying perceptions of what Professionalism really is.  I hear people complain about the younger generation workers (Hint: this means you’re getting old) and their more relaxed style and unconventional working strategies.  The younger workers voice their concerns about rigidity, helicopter management, and politicizing the workplace. Complaints abound about appropriate chains of command, communication, and modes of follow up and organization.  

 

So, this week, I thought I’d talk about some of the basic principles around Professionalism. You may wonder if anyone will even notice if you don't demonstrate professional behavior at work. As long as you do your job well, who cares, right? Well, it turns out your boss, customers, and co-workers do care. They will notice if you lack this quality and it could have severe consequences for your upward mobility. To discount the importance of Professionalism would be a big mistake. It can affect your chances for advancement or even the ability to keep your job.

 

 

So, for conversations sake, “Professionalism” is defined as the total picture of behaviors, characteristics and traits necessary for an individual to be effective in his or her work environment. Professionalism includes the traits and skills that enhance respect, influence, credibility, and success in the work environment.

 

How can you increase your Professionalism? Let’s just make this week’s blog mean and lean and get right to it.

Follow these 10 Dos and Don'ts to improve your Professionalism:

 

 

1.  Use Proper Etiquette.

Look, I get it, you wouldn’t choose these people to be on your kickball team.  I really do get it.  But, they’re yours and you’ve got to make it work.

 

Focus on being respectful when interacting with your coworkers, superiors and prospective customers, whether you like them or not, and even when you may not be having a good day. You can show respect in the workplace in a number of ways including not sharing your personal problems at work and by keeping your own workspace and shared areas clean and neat.

 

 

2.  Don't Be a Grump.

Seriously, no one likes a grump.  And, honestly, we all know who the whiney hiney, drama-fueled, negative, life-sucking Eyore is.  WE KNOW. So, just don’t be that guy.

 

Leave your bad mood at the door when you come to work. We all have days when we aren't feeling our best. Remember not to take it out on your boss, your co-workers, and especially your customers. If work is the thing that is causing your bad mood, it may be time to think about another job.  If that isn't a good option for you right now, find a way to make the best of the situation until it is.

 

One of my true north phrases is this: Dude, be nice.

 

Pretty simple and effective.

 

3.  Become a resource to the people you work with.

No one likes to feel like they have to keep other people up to date and caught up because they weren’t dialed in during the meeting. So, flip this and become that person who’s always lookin’ out for everyone else.

 

Pay attention in departmental meetings and be sure to read the company memos that circulate through the website and in the company mailbox. If you stay on top of company information, then people will recognize you as a resource and respect your professional approach to your job.

 

4.  Avoid Being Unprofessional.
This can be a slippery slope because we all have our personal pet peeves about Professionalism.  Your employer may not tell you exactly their own view of what being professional means. But we all know from experience how to get labeled as unprofessional, so don’t do these things:

 

Don’t finish tasks or projects late. Don’t be unprepared when attending meetings. Don’t spend time gossiping at work. Don’t treat people with disrespect. Don’t make people wait unnecessarily. Don’t steal other’s thunder by using their ideas without giving them credit. Don’t say one thing then do the complete opposite. Don’t break promises regularly. Again, don’t be that guy.

 

5.  Listen first.

Listen, we all like to talk. I mean, I have so much to say, all the time. The problem is, I often miss the wisdom because my lips are flapping. Capiche? Therefore your most important job as an individual building your credibility and professionalism is to listen to what other team members are telling you. Being a good listener demonstrates respect to those speaking to you, a crucial skill as you move forward in your career.

 

To quote the Greek philosopher, Epictetus: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”  Dang it.  I’ve been foiled with that quote my whole life.

 

6. Don’t lose your cool.

It is inevitable that conflict will arise with colleagues or clients. For whatever reason, people love drama and I guarantee that you will meet rude and obnoxious people at work or business. If someone treats you disrespectfully or picks on you, make a conscious effort not to lose your mind. Your goal is to always remain professional.  Let courtesy be your driving value and don’t let discourteous people determine your attitude or response.  If you need to step away from a situation that may turn ugly, then walk away. You have that choice and it’s your professionalism and integrity on the line.

 

7.  Work more than the minimum hours.

Most offices usually have a minimum working time period. This is the time that you should arrive to work by, and leave work after, at the end of the day. One way to improve your professionalism is to work longer than those hours.

 

The ability to do this will depend on your commitments outside of work. I’m not suggesting we need to work ten or twelve hour days. Adding an extra thirty or sixty minutes to your day will make others perceive you as more professional and passionate about your job, which is a good thing. Arriving before the required start time, and leaving after the required end time, will make it seem like you’re not watching the clock and are actually trying to improve at your job.

 

8.  Don’t get caught up in gossip.

Ugh… this one is so simple in theory but so much harder in practice.  I mean, are we bonding and venting, or are we gossiping and triangulating? Any sort of gossip or over-sharing can be toxic for a workplace. If someone tries to spread gossip with you, your best move is to shut it down and make it clear you won’t be condoning that sort of talk. Much like gossip, sharing too much personal information can lead to frayed relationships at work. This is one of the best ways to practice professionalism in the workplace — watch what you share, and never take part in toxic gossip.

 

9.  Do pay attention to your communication.

I have to admit, my emoji game is on point and I can out emoji the best of them.  The problem is, sometimes I get too lax and before I know it, something inappropriate slips out.  I’m sure I’m the only person this has ever happened to.  (Desperately trying not to add “LOL” in here because that would affect my professionalism, right?)

 

Once you build relationships with colleagues or a boss, it can be easy to let your communication (whether that’s emails or texts) get pretty casual. But if you’re still trying to establish rapport in the office, make sure that whatever you’re writing is coming off as polished and clean. Watch your punctuation, your spelling, and take cues from your bosses on things like exclamation points, profanity, slang, or emojis.

 

10.  Don’t have personal conversations on your phone, email or social media, while you’re at work.

I can guarantee this one is hitting a nerve with a majority of you. You’re wondering how do we disconnect when we live in such a connected world with our technology, right?  So, simply, my suggestion is for you to have respect for those around you.  I know you respect others, as a rule, but somehow we become weirdly self-centered when our phones are in our hands.

 

No one wants to overhear your conversations about your mom’s health issues or hear you disputing credit card charges while at your desk… and people especially do not want to hear these conversations in the bathroom.  As an absolute rule of thumb, take personal calls away from your desk because it is not only disruptive, but it is inadvertently intrusive as well.

 

 

Professionalism in the workplace is tough to define in today’s rapidly fluctuating world. While societal and business culture is morphing and styles and strategies differ, professionalism remains a steady expectation that we are all charged with adhering to.  For the first time, Millennials will outnumber Baby Boomers in the workforce, and they’re bringing their own ideas of professionalism with them. New companies are appearing at a staggering pace, and many are supporting workplace cultures where t-shirt attire, bringing your dog to work, and flexible schedules are perfectly acceptable. Though people may struggle to define professionalism, they have no problem identifying a person who lacks it. Make sure your conduct is up to snuff, so that you can thrive in any culture.

 

Onward!

Life Hacks for Busy People

July 10, 2017

Duuuuuude, slow this adulting thing down, wouldja? Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a second to come up for air, let alone make it to another last minute meeting. Working in a progressive field, we often have periods when we are frenetically trying to balance a million work-related things at once while trying to be innovative and stay ahead of the curve, but it is neither effective nor sustainable to operate that way. At the end of the day, we feel burnt out, utterly exhausted, and unfulfilled in other areas of our lives.

 

To help lighten the load of being constantly stuck in busy-ness, instead of effectiveness, I’d like to give you 10 Life Hacks that will help reduce your stress-induced temper tantrums, (oh, wait, maybe that’s just me) maximize time, and improve your quality of life. From boosting your productivity to keeping your mind and body in optimal shape, these tips will help you live a more balanced, healthy lifestyle while still pumping out the work you need to stay at the top of your game.

 

 

1. Get to work early. 

I can hear you now… “Really? You’re starting the list with THIS?”  Hear me out.  Showing up for work an hour early pays off in three ways. You start your day with nobody around, which means fewer distractions. When people do show up, you'll be "in the zone"—and a less likely target for start-of-day small talk. Finally, you'll be done with your work an hour ahead of time, which means missing rush hour on the way home.   See? I told you it was worth it.  Easy and obvious is sometimes really valuable.

 

2. Implement the two-minute rule.

The general productivity consensus is that if a task takes less than two minutes to complete, you should finish it immediately. Whether that means responding to an email or confirming a doctor's appointment, get those small (but often weighty-feeling) tasks done with, rather than let them collect and snowball.

 

3. Use red and blue more often.

Clean your desk and remove things that might distract you. According to a Science Daily study about which colors improve brain performance, red was found out to increase attention to details while blue sparks creativity. Surrounding your workplace with these colors not only benefits your brain, it’s also pleasing to the eye. 

 

Weird, right? But, that’s what Life Hacks are all about.  Give it a whirl.

 

4. Silence your inner perfectionist.

New college grads still try to pass off perfectionism as the ultimate worst-trait-that-isn't-really-a-bad-trait in interviews, but it's time to recognize that being a perfectionist really is a dangerous deal. Yes, a single piece of work can always be better, but what are you sacrificing by laboring over slight improvements? Do the best you can do in a reasonable amount of time, and then stop. Your inner perfectionist can be helpful, but it also needs to be kept in check.

 

5. Equip yourself with an arsenal of productivity tools.

Get ready for content gold, with this one.

 

Staying on task can be tough, but there are tons of great tools available to help you out. Don't ignore these handy helpers--when someone offers you an ax in the zombie apocalypse, you take it, don't you?

 

For tracking your time management, try Toggl or Yast.

 

Are you a savvy social manager? Go with Hootsuite, which offers a central dashboard for managing all your social media accounts.

 

Also consider Buffer, which makes it super easy to share found articles across various social sites.

 

For saving articles to read at your leisure, go with Feedly, Pocket, or Evernote. These apps are compatible across devices; you can earmark a blog post on your laptop and read it later on the train via smartphone.

 

Sick of forgetting passwords (then resetting them, getting an email, and choosing a new password, which you'll forget again next time)? Try LastPass, which keeps tabs and secures all your various passwords for you. If you use numerous accounts in one day (and who doesn't?), this one can be a serious timesaver.

 

Gold, right? 

 

6. Make bad habits difficult for yourself.

Sometimes the best way to break a bad habit is to make things incredibly difficult for yourself. If you hate that you watch too much TV, keep the remote control in the upstairs closet. If you can't help but surf the Web when you need to be focusing on a blog post, disconnect your Wi-Fi for a bit (note to self). While the extreme lengths you take to avoid certain habits can seem excessive, once those habits are broken it will be well worth the struggle.

 

7. When silence is not golden…

According to coffivity.com research has shown that people struggle to be creative in a quiet atmosphere, similarly, they also find loud workspaces distracting. A happy medium is a space where a gentle hum can be heard in the background. This is where their app comes in. It plays sounds… But not any old sounds. This app will transport your mind, and make you believe you’re in a real coffee shop, in a bid to get your creative juices flowing. Why not try a “Morning Murmur”, or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous why not go back to your student years and listen to “University Undertones"… the choice is yours.

 

8. Workplace workouts are a thing.

Boost your fitness and become more alert by exercising at work. In a recent article, Jen Lawrence states, “Not only is exercise smart for your heart and weight, but it can make you smarter and better at what you do.” Exercising pumps oxygen around your body, feeding your brain as well as releasing happy hormones. 

For some great office exercise ideas, check out Lifehack.org or if you are scared that your desk is killing you and don’t know what to do about it, check out Fitbolt.com – Helping make the workplace a whole lot healthier.

 

9. Running late? Stop and pick up some coffee for everybody. You’ll be a hero

It happens to everybody. However, if you’re really not supposed to be late on a certain day but wake up on the wrong side of the bed, quickly grab some coffee (or donuts) for your coworkers.

Instant smiles. Day saved.

 

10. Engage in rigorous self-care.

This may seem counterintuitive, but to make better use of your limited time, devote more time to yourself. It can be easy to get swept up in work and the taxing responsibilities of your daily life, but neglecting your basic needs is downright dangerous.

To reduce stress and improve your mood, Mayo Clinic recommends exercising gradually and regularly. Additionally, a study from Norway found that routinely being deprived of sleep is a risk factor for developing depression and anxiety, so developing sleep hygiene is imperative to staying cognitively sharp.

 

So, whether you’re looking to save a little time, or wanting to try something new to shake things up a bit, there are creative and innovative ways to increase your productivity. Each of these Life Hacks are simple tricks, shortcuts and skills that aim to increase your productivity and efficiency.  Now, the key is to put them into practice so we can get the upper hand on this adulting thing.  You can do it!

 

Happy Hacking!

Do You Need To Get Your Happy Back?

July 3, 2017

 

Hello, and Happy 4th of July!

Well, 3rd, but we’re practically there, right?

 

Are you ready for fun in the sun, pool time, burgers & dogs, and ice cold beer? This has always been one of my favorite holidays and it brings back a flood of happy memories, when life was easy breezy and nothing got me down. We lived at the end of a cul-de-sac and our family always had the big 4th of July shin-dig, complete with bocci ball, horse shoe, ping pong, and a hand ball pole. My Dad was a lover of family, grilling, and fireworks, so it was always quite a show and everyone looked forward to being a part of it. 

Pure happiness.

 

It seems that pure, collective, wholesome happiness is missing, this year. Do you feel the weird anxiety in your circles? People around me are stressed, cynical, and political, like I don’t recall seeing... well, ever, in my 47-year memory. The division and tension is remarkable. So, I thought I’d share some positive psychology, with you, so that we can get our hats on straight.  It’s a holiday, after all!

 

Researchers estimate that much of our happiness is under our personal control. Regularly indulging in small pleasures, getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself, are all actions that increase life satisfaction. More than simply a positive mood, happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life that has a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction.

 

So, in a nutshell, a lot of this is up to us. 

 

I don’t want to bombard you with facts and studies, but instead take you through a five-minute process to create a happiness shift. My goal is to have you feeling a little better, as you close out your day and head into the holiday… you want to give it a try? All you have to do is fill in the blanks. That’s it. No writing, just thinking and reflecting, fully. Just answer the questions in your head. Good? The best part is, it works, so just allow the process to do its magic.

 

Alrighty then, let’s get your happy back by doing a positive psychology intervention:

 

Today, I am grateful that my job…

 

Today, I am grateful that my health…

 

Today, I am grateful that my friends…

 

 

*Now, don’t just read those, and skip through them. Sit with the question and find an answer-- a true, honest, positive answer. Remember, we “agreed” to 5 minutes. If you notice, I’ve framed the questions for you to determine HOW those areas of your life bring you gratitude. Let’s keep going. Remember, YOU are shifting your thoughts.

 

 

Today, the best thing that happened to me was…

 

Today, I felt good when I extended help to…

 

Today, I went out of my way to be kind to…

 

Today, I thought fondly about…

 

Today, I felt worthy when…

 

Today, I laughed because…

 

Today, I felt courageous when…

 

Allowing 5 minutes to reflect on what is right, good, and happy throughout our day, should be a regular practice for each of us. Studies on gratitude and positive psychological interventions have been proven to boost individual happiness and buffer people from the devastating effects of acute depression. This finding has been replicated with a randomized controlled study conducted by positive psychology founder Martin Seligman and his colleagues. These exercises actually boost appreciation and mindfulness, by reminding people to appreciate things they overlook.

 

So, with a grateful heart and a mind full of positive memories from your day, I encourage you to go out and enjoy your 4th of July holiday. Protect your happiness. Stay away from things that may bring you down. Monitor your social media intake, which may allow a sliver of negativity in. Create a small fortress around your warm, fuzzy bits, dang it. 

 

You did the work on this one… now, go enjoy it.

Do You Need A Digital Detox?

June 25, 2017

Hi, my name is Jennifer and I'm addicted to my phone. 

 

Like almost everyone I know, the first thing I do in the morning is check my notifications. It's like my digital cup of Joe. My *absolutely necessary, cannot live without it* digital cup of Joe, I might add. The last thing I do is make sure that notifications are cleared out, so I can sleep peacefully, knowing that all my ducks are in a row and everything has been tied up neatly. I answer all texts, calls, emails, tweets, posts, snaps, and messages, immediately, throughout the day. 

 

Seriously, IMMEDIATELY. 

It's total insanity. 

 

I was listening to an NPR story about kids that go to summer camp and the "No technology" rule that is upheld. There are signs, all over the entrance to the camp, that tell the kids to send their last text and post their last tweet, before handing their phones to their parents, as they say goodbye for 2 months. 

 

Two months without technology. Could you do it? I'll admit, it'd be hard, for me. Really, REALLY hard.  Okay, so impossible. I mean, I could possibly attempt it. No, who am I kidding, I couldn't do it. And, I really wouldn't attempt it, if I'm honest. But, I wish I could. I'd try... yes, I would try. But, don't get your hopes up. It ain't happening. But, man, I want the freedom. 

 

Do you see the insanity?

 

So, back to camp.. Interestingly, the first offenses that the camp counselors experience is not with the kids, it's the parents! The parents attempt to smuggle in phones, slipping them into the kid's pockets, folding them into socks, and hiding them in the lining of the kid's suitcases. So, virtually, the parents are planting the contraband on their kids. I jest about it being contraband, of course, but it still makes me laugh out loud. 

 

Next, the offenses come from the kids. They whine, they panic, they cry, and they beg to use a phone. They go through stages of withdrawal, having fantom buzzing on their bodies. They go through erratic "patting" on every pocket, searching for their phones, in a panic. They hear fantom ringing and crane their necks and and rip their belongings apart, in search of the non-existent ring. They go through isolation, as if they've forgotten how to communicate with others, face to face. Next comes a complete lack of problem solving skills and inappropriate emotional outbursts. It's as if they've forgotten how to get through difficulties, in person, without running to their social media mob to get validation or hide behind the screen. 

 

The good news is, they live. Did you hear that? THEY LIVE! (Note to self) And, amazingly, even though the first two weeks are very rocky, they actually are hesitant about getting back into the hysteria-inducing, hyper-diligent, always connected digital world, at the end of their two months. 

 

So, full disclosure:

I'm sitting in a Starbucks on my first day of vacation writing this, on my phone. I am so tied to technology and my digital expectations that, as I was driving to California for a week's vacation, I was literally panicking that I didn't bring my computer and wouldn't have time to do my weekly blog. I mean, it's a blog, for goodness sakes. It's not a business report, not a life saving surgery, not a million dollar order, it's A BLOG! 

 

I honestly recognize that this tech addiction is ridiculous and I'm going to depart from my regular practice of creating the whole blog from scratch, and this week I'm giving you tips from someone else. See? I'm trying. Sort of. After all, I am still sitting in Starbucks. So far, I'm failing... but, hold on. 

 

I found these great, quick tips that I want to pass on to you, from Dr. Nandi. I'm all about easy and fast, so these quickies are right up my alley. I'm really going to try these, this week... are you going to join me? C'mon, give it the 'ol college try, with me. Technically, if one of us sticks to it, we won't know if the other caves. Alright, that was defeatist and cynical, I know. So, let's turn this around-- let's take a week off social media, together. 

 

We. Can. Do. This. 

 

If you think you’re too attached to your Smart phone, there are simple things you can do to reduce your exposure:

 

1.Turn off notifications on your phone. Not hearing beeps, pings or chirping will be less distracting and not tempt you away from what you’re doing.

 

2. Schedule regular times to check social medial like your lunch hour. Set a specific amount of time and stick to it.

 

3. Create tech-free zones like at the dinner table. Intentionally connect with loved ones and give them your undivided attention.

 

4. Reward yourself when you’re tech-free by engaging in other activities like reading books, taking walks, enjoying hobbies and spending quality time with loved ones.

 

As Dr. Nandi says, "With our phones, laptops and tablets always near our side, it’s too easy to access the internet anytime, anywhere. We’ve become overly connected, too attached and easily distracted."

 

Remember, THE KIDS LIVED. We can do this! One week. That's it. I believe in you... give social media a break and check back into your life. The people around you will be glad to have you back. Just watch. 

 

This is me walking out of Starbucks... 

 

Building Trust In An Untrusting Time

June 19, 2017

Have you ever broken someone’s trust? Have you ever had a leader betray your trust? It’s a terribly uncomfortable situation to find yourself in and it’s definitely not something that is easy to get through, for either party. In our One-Click world of Disliking, Unfollowing, and Unfriending, it seems we are much quicker to detach and disconnect, rather than work to fix what is broken.

 

In today's uncertain climate, it is not surprising that study after study shows a decline in the trust that individuals have in business and political leaders, as well as institutions. Even though we are faced with a crisis in trust, and have ample examples of leaders who have eroded their employee’s trust, I am a firm believer that the majority of leaders walk the path of trustworthiness.

 

So, what is trust? 

Trust is a mental state of reliance on the integrity of a person. When you trust someone you believe that he or she is going to do what you expect. Trust is the foundation on which a relationship is built. It is the ingredient for a healthy relationship that is hard to gain but easy to lose.

 

Like you, I have always believed that it’s easier to build trust in a new relationship than try to rebuild trust after it’s been broken. But, unfortunately, some take this concept and twist it to fit their agenda; I’ve watched managers attempt to term employees in order to get a new employee in, rather than admit that they did something wrong and/or let someone down. So, they’d rather hire a new employee, than have to admit they had broken someone’s trust. The ego is a tricky, tricky thing, isn’t it?  

 

Obviously, the goal of a leader is to build healthy, functioning relationships. After trust is built, the most important thing is not to destroy it. This means no cheating, lying, or betraying your personal or professional partners by breaching confidentiality, breaking promises, or succumbing to disloyalty.  

 

Ken Blanchard, in his book TrustWorks said, “Trust is in the eye of the beholder. What does that mean? It means that you can be completely unaware that your behavior is eroding the trust of those around you. What looks like fine behavior to you could make your friend, spouse, boss, employee, or constituent downright wary.” Leadership requires a high degree of Self- and Social-Awareness and if we are not acknowledging how our behaviors may be affecting others, we may be a part of the problem. So, what actually drives trust, in others? 

 

Eight Intrinsic Drivers of Trust

  1. Belong and Connect
  2. Voice and Recognition
  3. Significance and Position
  4. Fairness
  5. Learn and Challenge
  6. Choice and Autonomy
  7. Security and Certainty

 

Are you cultivating an environment that builds, supports, and maximizes these values? Your team is a reflection of you and the culture, vibe, and feel of your team begins with you. Your job is to create this, not expect it.  

 

As leaders, we need to know how to build and nurture trust in our working relationships, because it’s the foundation of a strong, healthy connection that will help us reach our professional goals and objectives. These tips on how to build trust will help you build consistent and dependable relationships with your teammates, so that we can all achieve success.

 

The Best Way To Build Trust 

Establish and maintain integrity. It is the foundation of trust in any organization. This means, among other things, keeping promises and always telling the truth, no matter how difficult it might be. 

Communicate positively. Communication is important, since it provides the artery for information and truth. By communicating fairly and from a place of integrity, we strengthen every process and function, within the organization. Additionally, watch your use of “I” and work on your “We”.

Consider all team members as equal partners. Trust is established when even the newest rookie, part-timer, or the lowest paid employee, feels important and part of the team. This begins by treating everyone respectfully, regardless of position, background, beliefs, ethnicity, religion, or differences of any kind. 

Focus on shared, rather than personal goals. When employees feel everyone is pulling together to accomplish a shared vision, rather than a series of personal agendas, they trust the team’s results. This is the essence of teamwork. When a team really works, the players trust one another. 

Do what's right, regardless of personal risk. We all know intuitively what's "right" in nearly every situation. Following this instinctive sense, and ignoring any personal consequences, will nearly always create respect, from those around us. 

 

As Stephen Covey said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”  Do your part. Step out of your comfort zone and work to create an environment that fosters and celebrates trust. Be the kind of person who others trust and admire. Keep your word. Be transparent. Tell the truth. Stand by your employees. Be a person of unwavering honor. Practice mindfulness. Be aware. Display appreciation and kindness. Be moral, ethical, and fair.  

And, finally, remember that trust is reciprocal. As Harold Macmillan once said “A man who trusts nobody is apt to be the kind of man nobody trusts.” The surest way to earn the trust of employees is to show them that you trust them in return. 

Onward!

Overcoming Stress and Gaining Your Life Back

June 12, 2017

Oh, dear summer, you are such a stress-free time of year, for most… vacations abound, long weekends are a must, slower energy awaits, and daydreaming prevails. This truly is a magical time of year… unless, of course, you are in management.  

Amiright?!  

As managers we know that this time of year means that we’ll have fewer people in the workplace, more staffing issues, increased call outs, fewer personal vacations, (managers can’t always take time off during summer months) and heavier traffic by guests and customers, whether it’s on the phone or in person. It’s the time of year that always forces us to become incredibly creative, in order to keep the ball rolling. Aaaaah, dear summer, you are a blessing and a curse, and my stress levels reflect it from June to September, each year.

 

It is estimated that 75–90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems. Job stress is a leading source of stress for adults, but stress in individuals of all ages has escalated in the past 20 years for a number of reasons: financial insecurity, media and peer pressure that lead to substance abuse or other unhealthy lifestyles, the breakdown of family values and religious faith, and the increased pressure to do things better and faster than ever before. 

 

Even the most dedicated managers and employees wear down some times. For most, burnout happens over a long period of time. The constant demand of the workplace leads to constant exertion and a wearing down of energy. The immune system breaks down. Motivation, attitude and behaviors change. It’s important to recognize symptoms of burnout in yourself and others so you can intervene. 

 

Some Symptoms to Watch For:

  • Isolation 
  • Depression 
  • Chronic illness 
  • Observable weight gain or loss 
  • Behavior change from the norm 
  • Anger 
  • Crying 
  • Bad-mouthing the organization, coworkers, systems, etc. 
  • Work stacking up 
  • Personal attacks 

 

So, to give you a bit of a life vest, I thought I’d pass on 20 stress relievers that you can start putting in place, now, in order to save your sanity over the next few months.

 

  • Pride yourself on a “me-first” attitude. It's okay, really. It can be all about you.
  • Pack your own lunch before you start packing for the kids or spouse. You get first dibs on the good cheese. 
  • Don’t over-commit yourself with things you really don’t want to do. You don't have to go that birthday party for your sister's dog. You don't.
  • If your workload is too heavy, tell someone — assertively. Seriously.
  • Schedule your exercise, and ask others to schedule around it. Riiiiight? High five.
  • Create a list of joys, and be sure that every day contains at least one of the joys. 
  • Don’t sacrifice who you are for others. (Says Mother Life, as she grabs you by the shoulders and gives you this subtle reminder)
  • Schedule alone time. It's liberating, trust me. No one will die taking care of themselves.
  • Schedule time with friends. My God, they've been neglected, haven't they?
  • Schedule time with your spouse — put a babysitter on a weekly schedule and go somewhere new each week, or back to a romantic haunt. Make. This. Happen.
  • Get a massage or facial (guys, too!) and don’t feel guilty about it. Nada. Niet. Zip. No guilt allowed. Do it. You deserve it.
  • Start a relaxing hobby. I know, this is a foreign word that you don't understand. Google HOBBY... amazing stuff. *wink*
  • Get a therapist, and get everything off your chest. Best. Investment. Ever.
  • Set goals, and implement positive changes by making them habits. PERSONAL goals. Foreign concept, I know.
  • Get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning. Counter intuitive? Maybe. But, do it.
  • Be prepared to wait—it’s inevitable. Don’t get mad, just breathe and have a plan to pass the time. Instagram has missed you.
  • Relax your standards. The world will not end if the grass doesn’t get mowed this weekend. Really, it won't. Get over it.
  • Unplug your phone. Drum up the courage to temporarily disconnect. How weird have we become that this seems impossible? 
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify. Again, another word we don't comprehend, right? 
  • Make friends with non-worriers. Nothing can get you into the habit of worrying faster than associating with chronic worrywarts. Kick 'em to the curb.
  • Learn to live one day at a time. Or, one hour at a time. Or, one minute, even. Stop worrying about what hasn’t happened, yet. Just... focus... be here now.
  • Do something kind for somebody else. I'm telling you, it's the secret of the universe. Trust me. Life changes when you are kind to others, always.
  • Eliminate destructive self-talk: “I’m too old ...,” “I’m too fat ...,” etc. Just, STOP. You are grown and those words do not belong in your mind, period. Cut it out.
  • Allow yourself time — every day — for privacy, quiet and introspection. 
  • Don’t forget to take a lunch break. Here we go, again... google it. Great stuff.
  • Forget about counting to 10. Count to 1,000 before doing something or saying anything that could make matters worse. You can't take that stuff back. Just zip it until you're cool.
  • Have a forgiving view of events and people. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world. People are messy and it's okay. Let it gooo! Let it gooo-ooooo!
  • Have an optimistic view of the world. Believe that most people are doing the best they can. Dang it, life is just too short to be a cynical, Debbie Downer, glass is half empty, skeptic. I mean, really... enough. I'm tired just thinking about how heavy that load is.

 

Think about it. People need you. Your boss needs you. Your employees need you. Your family and friends need you. But, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be there for any of them. Just like on an airplane when they say, “Put your own mask on first,” you must take care of yourself before you can take care of others.  

 

You don’t have to be a helpless victim of your stress. While you might not be able to gain total control, you can at least influence the stressor’s effect. Let’s try to get back to those wonderful, carefree, lazy days of summer and actually enjoy them, this year. Remember, if change is going to occur, it’s going to happen because you have chosen to make adjustments in your own life. Put some small changes in place that will have a big payoff in your perspective, your health, your work, and your relationships. 

 

Cheers, to an enjoyable summer!  Go have fun, dang it.

Mastering The Freedom Of Forgiveness

June 5, 2017

I’ve always been praised for my magnanimous character… literally, since I was a child. I remember being wronged by friends, often, but before too long we were best pals, again.  And, again.  And, again.  It wasn’t out of desperation that I forgave, but out of empathy.  Even as a child I would defend their bad behavior and site the issues with their family, their grades, or any other challenge imposed upon them, to anyone who harshly criticized them. I would fight for the very people who had just wronged me.  I’ve always been a lover, not a fighter.  Very simply, I believe in second chances.  I believe that people make mistakes.  I believe that people are inherently good, but sometimes get off course and do bad things. 

 

Not everyone agrees with this way of thinking and living, and that’s okay.  I’ve been criticized, ostracized, maligned, and made fun of for this… well, forever. I’ve gotten the ‘ol “I Told You So” and the “Don’t Act Surprised When…” tongue-lashing, more times than I can count.  In business, I’ve been counseled for not disciplining as hastily as I should have.  I’ve been told that I’m dragging out the coaching far too long and that it’s time to cut the cord.  Sound familiar?

 

Here’s the thing, though—I’m no pushover.  I’m not a wilting flower or a scaredy cat that is afraid of its own shadow.  If you know me, you know that I’m a straight shooter who says it like it is, always.  I’m a believer in rules and proper chains of command.  I’m strong and tough, and in the past was often called intimidating.  So, what gives?  I’ll tell you—I believe in people. 

 

I BELIEVE IN PEOPLE.

 

I believe that people are messy and complicated, maddening and inconsistent.  But, I also believe that they are trying and fighting, every day, to be their best.  I believe that they want to do what’s right, but are often consumed with other competing priorities.  I believe that they are committed and on board, even when they seem checked out and apathetic.  I believe that they have a plan to come in as a 10, but something cuts them off at the knees and they struggle to show up as a 2.  I believe they try, every single day, to change their situation, but somehow they can’t reach the life vest or get the attention of the right lifeguard.

 

So, I work and work and work.  I try every trick in the book to get them re-engaged and re-ignited.  I ask and ask and ask, until they finally open up. And, then I listen and empathize, and go back to my strategies to find a better trick.  It’s not that I am afraid of conflict, and it’s not that I haven’t learned enough about criticism and discipline… in fact, it’s just the opposite.  I’ve learned so much about human behavior, over the years, and I know that empathy is usually the key that fits every lock, eventually. 

 

I spoke of magnanimity, earlier, which is just a fancier word that was used, for forgiveness.  While I’m not the expert and “end all, be all” on this topic, I’ll tell you what I know, from my experience:  I’m HAPPY.  I wake up happy, and I go to bed happy.  Seriously.  I’m a happy person because I choose to see the world the way I do.  I’m happy because I have the relationships that I do.  I’m happy because I choose not to carry a bunch of stories around, with me. I don’t know if I’m any happier than the average Joe, but I can tell you that when I was holding grudges, (and, yes, I have done it and was bound and determined to hold them, as if I had something to prove, dang it!) I wasn’t happy.  Are you tracking?  Even though I was right, and had been wronged, I wasn’t happy.  I could lament and strongly assert my “right-ness” but I wasn’t happy.  Somewhere along the line, I realized that I had gotten off track with this baggage of resentment and I was the one drinking the poison. 

 

When you've been hurt by someone you care about and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.  Ugh.  Been there, done that.  And, it sucks, I might add.

 

If you're caught in an unforgiving loop, you might find that you:

 

  • Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship, conversation, and new experience.
  • Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present, because you’re drinking the poison that’s meant for someone else.
  • Become depressed or anxious.
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you're at odds with your spiritual beliefs.
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others, because you’re afraid it’ll happen, again.

 

So, what’s the fairy dust needed in order to reach a state of forgiveness?  I really have no idea what the true magic is, but I know these thoughts have helped me:

 

  • How is this grudge making you feel? What’s it doing to your balance, state of mind, your gut, and your level of consistency?

 

  • Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you've reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health, and wellbeing.  Was it possibly a mistake? Can you find the empathy needed in order to understand what caused the reaction?

 

 

  • Actively choose to forgive the person who's offended you, when you're ready. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship resumes, it just means that you’re not controlled by the negative thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, any longer.

 

  • Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life.  People are messy.  Emotions are even messier.  As soon as you can accept that you played a part, somewhere in the relationship/falling out/blow up, you stop the narcissistic loop of victimhood.  Get your power back—enough is enough.

 

 

Oprah once said that “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different” which is all about your healing.  We know we can’t change others and we can’t change the past… so, we have to work on ourselves, right? Really, that’s all we’ve got. As you let go of grudges and allow forgiveness back in, you'll no longer define your life by how you've been hurt. Happiness is worth so much more than the momentary victory we feel when we remind ourselves that we were right and they were wrong.  It’s a trap—your self-righteousness is a trap of the ego.  I’m telling you, I get it.  Being right has a hard punch of adrenaline, but an incredibly short half-life, if we think about it.  Life has so much more to offer than the sullied and stained perspective that we look through, after being burned.  Unfortunately, there is no timeline and owner’s manual for getting through disappointments.  But, when you can clear your mind and heart of the messy stuff, it’s amazing how quickly goodness can fill those spaces, if you allow it.  I promise you, a life of compassion and understanding is far more fun and fulfilling than the alternative. 

 

Times a’wasting and happiness is a’waiting—time to get to work on clearing out the heart space! 

Harnessing the Power of Influence

May 30, 2015

I often joke about the big laugh that is being had by God, at my professional expense. Somewhere in the heavens there is, no doubt, some snickering and “Hold my beer” moments happening, I’m going to bet.

 

As a Professional and Motivational Speaker, I always believed that attitude was 100% choice. I lived by the idea that anyone can “turn that frown upside down” and “attitude is a choice”. In fact, I have used the mantras and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to redirect my own attitude, my whole adult life. So, in a nutshell, I’m a believer and I used to peddle that, for years.

 

Then Reality, with a capital R, came barging in, knocking down tchotchkes, tripping on rugs, and stumbling around like a drunk uncle, leaving a mess in its wake. Everything I had believed in, the power I had tapped into for years, the pillars I built my success on, blew up, right in my face. None of it worked in my real world. None of it.

Reality Checks are never graceful, are they?

 

So, full disclosure: I am a successful Motivational Speaker who is engaged to the one person who I absolutely, positively, cannot motivate, no matter what. And, trust me, dang it, I have tried everything! This extraordinary individual is kind, loving, compassionate, creative, brilliant, sensitive, AND affected by depression. No matter how many platitudes and mantras I throw at him, no matter how many books I read or seminars I attend, there is not a darn thing I can do to change his chronic depression. It’s taken 8 years, but I’ve finally come to understand that this is his journey and my job is not to fix, correct, force, or change him; my job is, simply, to accept and love him where he’s at, at any given moment. The problem is, in my chosen professional field of over 20 years, it's my job to fix, correct, force, and change... are you with me? There really couldn't be a better irony, than this. SERIOUSLY.

 

While this blog post is not about diving into my love life, it does point to an incredibly powerful leadership lesson that I had to learn and want to share (hopefully, it won’t take you 8 years) about influence and motivation. If I was going to continue with this relationship, I needed to accept him where he was at and continue to step forward, with compassion. That meant I had to quit fighting against something bigger than me, quit trying to coerce him into feeling something he wasn’t, and quit insisting that he needed to do things “my way”. The best way for me to help him is to remain strong, capable, and compassionate. And, so it is in business. When leading your team, how often have you found yourself wondering if one of your employees has a pulse? Debated whether they’re worth keeping? Tried to figure out their exit strategy? Guilted them into action? Forced them with fear? Been there, done that. Trying to motivate others, who are incapable of it, (in the moment) is a test of wills. But, remember, your job is not to change them, it’s to influence them. And, how do you do that best?

 

By being strong, capable, and compassionate.

 

The minute you lose your positive perspective is the minute you’ve lost your ability to positively influence others. Read that last sentence, again. (and, again) Management actions and language set the tone for team morale. Your behaviors and attitude must display and encourage the following to your team:

 

•      Set a positive tone, regardless of the response you are receiving.

•      Convey that responsibility is shared among all team members.

•      Reiterate that team members help one another. No one is more important than the other.

•      The entire team has an impact on the outcome of the task or process.

•      The team’s success is directly related to how well the team members pull together.

•      Sharing information within the team is vitally important ... encourage this, over and over.

•      Team members encourage one another to grow and develop professionally and personally.

 

 

We’ve got to end this blame game/show of force/pigeon hole/odd man out cycle in management and redirect our energy. It’s easy to put the blame on others for not performing with enough energy, or not meeting your expectations, but it takes real courage, strength, and patience, as a leader, to choose to find other routes that may speak to the employee, or feel like a better option to them, in the moment.

 

As a leader, it’s our job to create a positive culture on our team and any veteran manager can tell you, it’s not a walk in the park. Try not to get frustrated with those you can’t motivate; instead, focus on who you can influence, what you can affect, and how to set the right tone. The energy you bring to the day, the team, or the project will have a far better impact than trying to force a square peg into a round hole. So, check your energy and get your hat on straight—it all starts, with you. You’ve got to make sure you’re doing the following, consistently:

 

•      Communicate the vision with energy and optimism. No. Matter. What.

•      Be someone others can trust… and, be willing to trust them, again and again.

•      Seek open and effective communication. Be transparent.

•      Expect and encourage creativity. Let them try it a different way.

•      Focus only on tasks and goals, not personalities. Hard, I know.

•      Be emotionally consistent. Dump the grump. This is huge.

•      Provide avenues for growth and development, even if they don’t seem motivated, now. Everything is temporary and those opportunities may spark their interest.

•      Express real appreciation, constantly. They need more. And, then, more. Trust me.

 

 

Remember, this whole leading and managing thing is not for the faint of heart—it’s work. But, it’s incredibly rewarding work, when you’ve done it right AND you’ve done right by those you lead. Great leaders create greatness in others because they are able to individually lead and manage that person, where they are at, in the moment; this is not a cookie cutter kind of deal. So, step forward honorably in strength, be the kind of leader who influences others with your independence and stability, and be compassionate in your endeavors… your future leaders will emulate all of this, one day, and that will be a testament to your greatness. 

How to Deal With Your Employees From Hell

May 22. 2017

Employees From Hell are a THING.

 

Do you work with someone who sucks the life out of the room?  How about someone who can infect a conversation with a simple look? I’ve worked with someone who was so powerful that even their car set my teeth on edge, when I pulled into the parking lot and realized that they hadn’t called in sick, that day!  If you have employees, co-workers, or even managers with horrible attitudes, it may be time for you to arm yourself with a new set of tools. 

 

Allowing employees with bad attitudes to continue their behavior has multiple effects. Co-workers who experience the employee's bad attitude, firsthand, may suffer low morale or a negative attitude. Customers often become offended or disgruntled, when exposed to an employee with a bad attitude. Lowered productivity among employees may also occur, which affects your bottom line. Very simply, negative employee attitudes and less-than-professional behavior can poison all aspects of the workplace.

 

They're here, there, and everywhere.  Who are they?  “They" are the negative employees most people encounter in the workforce, at some point in their career.  Below are some tips for handling problem employees before morale and business suffers. 

 

The Traditionalist:  “We’ve always done it this way.”

  • Skillfully prepare your case. 

  • Explain the plan fully and professionally. 

  • Make information readily available (early). 

  • Think benefits. 

  • Start small (test or pilot). 

  • Publicize success. 


 

 

The Egotist:  
“It’s not MY way of doing things!”

  • Confront the needs of the end-user first. 

  • Identify the “who,” “what,” and “why” of actions. 

  • Bridge the gaps of accountability. 

  • Identify former commitments and develop accountability. 


 

The Brick Wall:
  “We CAN’T do something like this!”

  • Know the facts (and the bottom line). 

  • Develop allies (build a coalition). 

  • Start a formal review process. 

  • Ask for help. 

  • Focus on outcomes. 

  • Use tests or samples (reduce risk). 


 

The Slippery Fish:  “It’s not my fault.”

  • Focus on 100 percent responsibility. 

  • Identify “what” rather than “who.”
  • Ask, “What are we learning?” 

  • Say, “I’ll take full responsibility. Now, here’s what I need from you ... .” 


 

 

The Guilt Tripper:  “You really should/shouldn’t.”

  • Respond to present-tense issues. 

  • Focus on facts. 

  • Identify emotions — who owns them? 

  • Identify expectations (yours and theirs). 

  • Rally the team (share ownership).

 

The Round Tuit:  “I’ll get it ASAP.”

  • Identify priorities. 

  • Be specific. 

  • Establish interim deadlines. 

  • Get the other party to voice the conclusions. 

  • Gain commitment. 


 

Fortunately, there are ways of getting around employees from hell. You can learn to defend yourself against negative emotions or unreasonable demands by changing the way you interact with these people. Or you can try to alter the situation – you’d be surprised how much you can do to change a difficult co-worker into a manageable, and perhaps even likeable, one.  There’s an old adage that says, “if you can’t change the people around you, then CHANGE the people around you”. While it’s not always possible to eliminate the toxic person from your life, and it’s certainly not possible to change another person, it IS possible to change the way that you deal, with them.

 

Onward… you can do this!

Alright leaders, we’ve got to talk about the D-Word… no, the other one: Delegation.

May 15, 2017

If you’re like most normal, sane, run of the mill managers, this isn’t always the easiest concept to put into practice.  We know we have to, but we don’t wanna! 

 

For managers of teams, delegation is probably the single most important thing that you need to do, in order to grow your business. Why? Because delegation allows you to focus on the things that only you can do, and allows the business and the people within the business, to grow. Without delegation, your business and your team cannot evolve. Yet, strangely, for many people this is incredibly hard to do.

 

If you’ve ever found yourself grumbling and growling the following, you are not alone:

 

  • "I'll do the best job here, so I'll just do it myself."
  • "He'll resent being asked, I should do it myself."
  • "It's a boring job, so I'll 'lead by example' and do it myself."
  • "It'll be quicker if I do the job myself."
  • “If they screw up, I’ll just end up having to re-do it myself.”

 

 

But here’s the thing, we have to accept that business organizations and teams exist for one reason only: to do jobs that are too large, too complex, or too fast-changing, for any one individual to do on their own.

 

Delegation is the practice of passing tasks and responsibilities to team members. Sounds simple. However, it is useful at this stage to be clear on what delegation is NOT.  It is not abdication of the responsibility, but rather a staged approach to passing a job over to a team member or employee so that they can complete it, while you focus on higher value tasks

 

So, you know this, but you’re still hating it, right?  Let’s sweeten the pot.

 

 

The Benefits of Delegating

 

  • Unlocks employee potential 

  • Challenges employees 

  • Uses human resources most effectively 

  • Frees the supervisor to be of maximum value to the organization 

  • Increases trust between team members
  • Improved morale
  • Increased productivity
  • Work-life balance for management
  • You look like a rock star

 

Okay, so the last one is questionable, but I’m going with it.  Here’s the way I see it: if there’s a chance for me to develop my people, keep the morale high, have more balance in my life, AND look like a rock star, what’s not to love? Am I right, here? 

 

 

3 Simple Rules

 

Before you delegate

  • Know what you want.

  • Tell them what you expect.

  • Make the work valuable.

  • Make the work “do-able”

 

Keep the job moving 


  • Tell why the task is important.
  • Give quality feedback.

  • Build success. 


 

After the task has been done 


  • Debrief and learn from the experience.
  • Reward.

  • Reassign. 


 

Now, you’ve just got to start planning which tasks you’re going to delegate, and to whom.  Keep in mind after you have passed the task over as their responsibility, you need to let them get on with it.  In other words, Get Outta The Way!  Remember to acknowledge when they have done a good job, and only step in if something changes or a problem occurs. Whatever you do, don’t take the job back!  This is an important, and often challenging, task for leaders. 

 

Let the process work.

 

The goal of delegation is to create self-sufficient, high-performing, increasingly motivated, and productive people and processes.  This is as much an exercise, for you, as it is for your employees. So, get on it and make it happen.  No more dilly-dallying.  In the wise and immortal words of the great Elsa of Arendelle, “Let It Gooooo!”

 

How Strong Is Your Commitment To Creating A Diverse Workforce?

May 8, 2017

Diversity is much more than just a multicultural issue. Diversity is about embracing many different types of people, who stand for different things and represent different cultures, generations, ideas, and thinking. Though we may share things in common with other individuals, at the end of the day, everyone is their own person and can bring different things to the table, which is why diversity is so important among a team. 

 

A strong commitment to creating a diverse workforce can be extremely beneficial to the success of a company - giving it a global approach and identity. Research has shown that firms with diverse workforces and executive boards perform significantly better than those with little or no diversity. Employing people with different personalities, and at varied stages of their career, can help to foster creativity and offer a range of perspectives and ideas.

 

As the world grows smaller and our society becomes more and more diverse, an awareness of the way you view the world becomes even more critical. Our thoughts and perspectives are translated into our opinions, which is how we show others who we are, through our behaviors. The following questions may require you to stop and think before you proceed: 

 

 

·     Are there groups of people that I struggle to accept?

 

·     Is my work affected by my own lack of comfort with people different from myself? 

 

·     Are my diversity related behaviors affecting my career advancement?

 

·     How can I overcome my personal biases? 

 

·     What specifically can I do?

 

·     What are some things about diversity that I enjoy? 

 

We all have biases. It is part of being human. Fully embracing diversity requires the ability to identify and recognize even the subtle forms of bias that impact how we value the differences in people. 

 

Stereotyping 

•     Making generalizations about a group of people 

•     Stereotypes may have some elements of fact but these are then exaggerated beyond reality 

 

Exclusion and Invisibility 


•     Not including or just not seeing things different from you 

 

•     Portraying only one perspective or view 


 

Fragmentation and Isolation 


• Separating the experiences of one group from the experiences of the general population

 

Linguistic bias 

• Using language to show biases 

 

 

Most large corporations routinely provide some form of diversity training for employees, and many report some measure of success. Diversity training programs can be as short or as long as necessary. However, the training should focus on how people, despite their apparent differences, are fundamentally the same and deserve the same respect and accommodations as others. The key is to raise awareness and open dialogue, while describing the organization goal of creating an authentically inclusive environment.

 

Diversity plays a key role in business success, as it allows organizations to draw from the best talent regardless of personal demographics. Still, the inclusion of different ethnic, religious, sexual identity and gender groups in the workplace may make some employees uncomfortable. By delivering training sessions on diversity, building team dynamics and linking diversity to the company's success, employers can make great strides toward promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

To Engage, Or Motivate… THAT Is The Question

May 1, 2017

In my consulting practice, I am frequently asked about the difference between Motivation and Engagement and people want to know which they should be focusing on. My answer is, BOTH! If we want our employees to be engaged, we need to understand their motivators. These two things go hand in hand.

The most important thing that I tell leaders is that the key to getting their employees engaged and understanding their motivators comes down to the leader’s genuine interest in their working partners. Do you know what kick starts your employees? Do you know WHY they work? Do you know what their endgame looks like? Do you know what they value most? If you don’t know these things, you will never be able to create engagement.

 

So, let’s start there: Your Engagement. 

Each one of us has four Basic Psychological Needs, which are a reflection of what we value and how we find balance. Now, they key is to figure out which of those Psychological Needs drives the people you are dealing with. What makes this challenging is that we tend to see people as we see ourselves—we bond through similarities. However, as leaders we need to make sure that we are not seeing the employees AS WE ARE, but in fact striving to see them AS THEY ARE. Trust me, this is totally normal, however misleading, in the long run. If we're going to truly understand our employees, we have to dig a little deeper into their Psychological Needs.

 

Psychological Needs:

·     The need to belong 

·     The need for power 

·     The need for freedom 

·     The need for fun 

 

Each one of these needs are valued by all of us, however at different times in our lives, or in different roles that we play, we will have one predominant, driving need. Understanding your own driving need, at work, and then being able to respect, understand and USE the knowledge of their driving need will help you motivate them, individually, and get them engaged.

Now, let’s shift and put the focus on creating Motivation. Following are the top motivating techniques, desired by employees, from a 2012 article published by the AMA. I think you may be surprised to see that it’s not as much about donuts and gift cards, as you may have previously thought. 

 

1.   Personal thanks 

2.   Written thanks 

3.   Promotion for performance 

4.   Public praise


5.   Morale-building meetings 

 

Are you on track? Are you meeting the employee’s motivational needs? Employees want to see, hear and experience Thanks. They want personal, relevant, and regular Thanks. When we get engaged in the discovery process of uncovering our employee’s psychological needs and values, and then make motivating and acknowledging their success a cornerstone in our leadership process, everyone wins. 

 

That is exactly what an engaged and motivated workforce looks like: 

Everyone Wins.  

Is It Time To Flex your CX Muscle?

April 24, 2017

 

Are you loving the advancements in the Customer Service Experience, as much as I am? I absolutely love that I no longer have to wait in line for my movie tickets. I love that I can pay my bill at my favorite restaurant, right at the table, without having to wait for the server. I love that I can try on clothes digitally, without having to actually try on clothes. I love that I can order my drinks, without waiting for the bartender, when flying through Minneapolis airport.  I love that I can check paint swatches, and design my home, without getting off my couch to move anything in my home.  I’m telling you, I love this day and age in Customer Service!

 

Welcome to The Age Of The Customer.  If you’re not obsessed with transforming the Customer Experience (CX), you may be putting your organization’s growth at risk.  CX is about more than understanding process flow, scheduling, product, and profitability.  It’s about truly understanding who your customer is and knowing what makes them tick.  Are you paying attention to your customer’s needs AND wants?  Are you aware of the customer’s Pain Points?  Are you using behavioral psychology to speak the customer’s language and understand their journey?

 

We’ve got to start with identifying the Pain Points. Understanding what is frustrating, time consuming, confusing, or anxiety inducing is essential, if you are going to improve your organization’s CX.  In The Age Of The Customer, I am absolutely unwilling to endure pain, twice.  Are you with me? Burn me once… that’s all you get.

 

Here are 10 Sure Fire Ways To Ruin CX:

 

1. Apathy/disinterest

2. Failure to greet/welcome/acknowledge


3. Lack of basic manners


4. Lack of store/product knowledge

5. Failure to find out customer needs


6. Not making the customer the focus of attention


7. Telling the customer he or she is wrong


8. Sarcasm


9. Inappropriate humor

10. Unwillingness to go the extra mile

 

 

Do any of these feel familiar to you, as a customer?  Nothing turns me off faster than knowing that a service professional doesn’t care about their job and, by extension, I know it means that they don’t care about ME. 

 

As a leader, it’s your job to walk through the journey of your customer, anonymously. See the process… Hear the process… Feel the process.  What needs to be improved, increased, or ditched, immediately? One of the best ways to insure that the CX is functioning at an optimal level is to be a customer in your own business.

 

So, to get this ball rolling, let’s look at things a little more strategically. Following are some questions you can answer, which will help you create some direction in your improvements:

 

  • How easy is your company to work with?
  •  
  • How many layers are there in your resolution process?
  •  
  • How do customers reach your business?
  •  
  • How quickly do you respond to email/phone inquiries?
  •  
  • Is there a live person available to answer questions in a one visit/call resolution?
  •  
  • Can customers find answers to simple questions?
  •  
  • Do your customers have a self-service option?
  •  
  • How useful is your app/website/chat?
  •  
  • Are your CX goals being realized in the behaviors of the employees?
  •  
  • Are your leaders managing CX effectively?

 

Define what you want to improve, and then look at what systems and processes you currently have in place. Do they need to be updated or improved to deliver a better experience?  Do you need to communicate your CX expectations more clearly?  Are you training your employees, quarterly, on those CX expectations? Are your managers managing CX expectations that you’ve set? Start small, with your most important customer channel, and expand from there.

 

Customers want to self-serve – easily, quickly, efficiently – and then move on with their day. By automating and simplifying tasks, you can begin delivering better solutions. Provide your customers with an easy way to get what they want, in a short amount of time, to improve the Customer Experience.  Simple changes will, in turn, create more success, sustainability, and financial stability for your organization.

The Humanification of Change: The Other Side of Creative Disruption

April 17, 2017

Large scale creative disruption and destruction demands more than the best strategic and tactical plans. Truly successful change requires an intimate understanding of the human side, as well — the company’s culture, values, people, and behaviors that must be changed, in order to deliver the desired results. Plans, themselves, do not capture value. Value is realized only through the sustained, collective actions of your employees, who are responsible for designing, executing, and living the change.

 

It helps to understand that an emotional response to change is normal. When you accept this, you can respond differently to the emotion by anticipating it and working with it. Following are four common responses to change:

 

  • Survival
  • Resistance
    • Denial
    • Passive resistance
    • Active resistance
  • Competitiveness
  • Embracing

 

 

Although leaders can’t always make people feel comfortable with change, they can minimize discomfort. Diagnosing the sources of resistance is the first step toward solving the stagnation or disruption. Use your social awareness to correctly assess what is driving their anxiety around the changes.

 

  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Fear of looking foolish
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of history repeating itself
  • Fear of the worst being realized

 

Fear is an emotion that typically occurs when one perceives a threat to personal wellbeing, confidence, and balance. It can prompt action (resistance/denial/fight) against the threat, which can be challenging in a business relationship. Fear can strip your team of its most valuable resources: creativity, mental dexterity, and the ability to make decisions.  Fear is considered to be a normal, natural part of life; however, fear can lead people to experience a wide array of physical and mental insecurities.  As leaders, it’s our job to be socially aware of the emotional responses and create a consistent and stable space for their fears to be dealt with.

 

  • Worry less about managing the change and focus on helping people cope.

 

  • Identify your own style during change and use that awareness to build bridges toward others who don’t share the same perspective.

 

  • Make clear that every change style has its place and can serve the company well.

 

Putting your focus on the human element of change is imperative. The sooner we can acknowledge the root cause of the resistance, empathize with the fear, and create a balanced and supportive plan, the more successful our transformation process will be.  When the people, culture, and values are the first priorities in a change process, it is easier for the staff to see why the structural, procedural, and organizational changes are necessary.

 

 

Seeing Conflict From A Different Perspective

April 4, 2017

Everyone dreads conflict, right?  Sadly, this statement is NOT completely true.  There are those darling few who thrive, on it… bless their hearts.  But, for the rest of us, conflict stings and most of us would rather not be faced, with it.

Conflict occurs when needs are not being met or when one side appears to be obstructing the other’s success. Conflict usually surrounds the allocation and use of power, position, and resources. Being prepared and knowing your triggers will go a long way toward helping you resolve conflict. Here are 11 ideas for how to achieve
 your goals.

 

1.  Know what you want before you go in, which makes negotiation and compromise easier.

 

2.  Show your good will from the beginning, even if you’re not feeling particularly charitable.

 

3.  Talk less, listen more, and keep your voice and gestures calm and collected.

 

4.  Acknowledge that an argument 
has two sides and compromise is probably inevitable.

 

5.  Step back when things get heated and remember things can’t really be that bad.

 

6.  Try to see things from your opponent’s point of view; empathy goes a long way toward de-escalating tension.

 

7.  Don’t accuse or attack your opponent 
if you hope to keep communication channels open.


 

8.  Avoid implying that your opponent is lying or not revealing the whole story; just keep asking questions until the truth comes out.

 

9.  Remember, just because you know what you mean doesn’t indicate that you’ve been able to express your views clearly to your opponent; check for understanding and keep providing information until you both see the same picture.

 

10.  Don’t push for immediate resolution; your patience will pay off with a more amenable solution for all concerned.


 

11.  Help your opponent see the long-term plan beyond the immediate source of the conflict.

 

As leaders, we need to be willing to try new methods to achieve better results.  As the old saying goes, “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got”. Encourage yourself to start seeing conflict from a different perspective; it should be embraced and dealt with, not just to resolve a problem, but to also learn about our own leadership abilities, as we lead others through adverse circumstances. 

Are Leaders Born Or Made?

March 27, 2017

I think I am asked this one question, more than any other, in my consulting practice. And, usually, my answer is a resounding YES, which leads people to believe that I haven’t understood their question. 

 

I assure you, I have.

 

While I absolutely believe that people are born with innate characteristics and traits that we admire in leadership, I think that true leadership is the ability to MAINTAIN all of those innate qualities, in the middle of chaos and catastrophe.  The skills and strategies that we are able to tap into in the middle of crises are usually the ones that we have learned and practiced, over time.

 

So, YES.

They are born and, MOSTLY, made.

 

As a leadership consultant, I am of the belief that anyone can be a leader.  Simply having a management title, however, does not make someone a leader.  Leadership comes through learning, practice, challenge, and a continued commitment to growth, throughout a career. Learning is much more than accessing content. In the 21st century, learning is a complex blend of skills, competencies, and the will to continue learning throughout life. These skills and competencies include the ability to think critically and solve complex problems, work collaboratively, communicate effectively, and pursue self-directed learning. Being a leader takes effort.

 

So, I know you’re probably groaning, right now. The thought of having to find MORE hours in your schedule to research training classes, MORE money in your budget to take those classes, and finally MORE hours in the month to attend those classes, seems impossible.  But, the good news is, there are people who can help you with all of this!

 

First, find the right company, which will help you identify the perfect path for your development. There are learning professionals in training and development organizations, who can create varied learning processes, for the different types of participants.   Training is no longer solely restricted to a classroom environment, due to the demands of busy professionals.

 

We all need to high-five for that!

 

So, what are the options for learning in a corporate environment, today?

 

  • Classroom
  • Webinars
  • Coaching
  • Mentorship
  • Experiential/Outdoor learning
  • Online learning system
  • Self-study
  • Seminars/Conferences

 

If we are going to remain competitive and relevant, we need to commit to a consistent learning process.  It must be ongoing and ever-expanding. It must challenge you and push you a little further than you’ve dared. It needs to excite and stimulate you.   It needs to be something that STICKS.

 

You learn to become a leader by doing what other excellent leaders have done before you. You become proficient in your job or skill, and then you become proficient at understanding the motivations and behaviors of other people.  When you become a team leader, even if your team only consists of one other person, you must immediately develop a whole new set of leadership skills. As you become more self-aware, you'll start to be able to hone in on both your strengths as a leader (so you can make best use of them) and those areas where you can improve. 

 

You, with all of your wisdom, drive, skill, and brilliance, will be exactly as successful as you decide to be.

 

And, THAT is my final answer on this question.

 

SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

March 20, 2017

And, you know what that means… it’s time to get our files, our desks, and our minds cleaned out. If you’re like me, it’s time to get trim, after carrying a little extra throughout the winter. And, while I’m not talking about weight, per se, I am talking about some of the things that weigh me down.  So, with a little focus and a tiny bit of effort, these 3 Quick Tips will help you get mentally and professionally prepared for the next three quarters of the year.

 

So, how about we start with the low-hanging fruit, shall we… your files. How are those black holes of death working, for you? No matter how meticulous we are, life gets hectic, and the files are one of the first places to take the hit.  So, here’s a quick, easy tip to start controlling the clutter:

 

Make sure every one of your physical files have an exact match in your electronic files.

 

Now, I’m not talking about duplicating all of the documents IN the files, I’m talking about having a titled digital match in your computer for each of your physical files. We’re trying to cut down on the frantic searching while screaming, “Where would I have filed this?!?!?”  Take 5 minutes a day—that’s it.  You’ll get through it and you will save yourself so much future frustration.

 

Next, let’s talk about your desk.  Most people don’t think much about their workflow and get bogged down in poorly filed (hint, hint) documents, decorations that get in the way, clutter, piles, stacks and junk.  So, lets do this strategically and identify your 3 zones. 

 

Zone 1 is your hot zone:  This area needs to stay clear and should be everything you NEED, within arms reach. These are your Must Haves to get your job done.  Think: computer, phones, VIP files, etc. Get your Inbox and piles out of Zone 1.

 

Zone 2 is still important, but not needed immediately.  Zone 2 has items in it that can be utilized by reaching, leaning or rolling your chair. I think of the items in this zone as important, but not urgent. They are supporting cast members, if you will.  We need them, just not all the time.

 

Zone 3 is just not that important, at all.  Sure, you MAY need to reference these items, but probably not much. So, where is Zone 3? AWAY.  You have to walk to get the items in Zone 3. There is effort involved and you must stop your process, get up out of your chair, and walk to get this task completed.

 

So, ask yourself whether your items are in the correct zones. What do you need to move? What can you adjust? How can you make small, incremental changes, in order to shave a little wasted time off your day? This is a simple, easy adjustment that gives a big payoff.

 

My final Quick Tip is, seemingly, the easiest, but it was left for last, for a reason… it’s about your thinking. There’s a lot of interesting low vibrational anxiety that I’m seeing all around me. It’s easy to get caught up in the division and internal stress that comes along with it.  So, my final suggestion is about daily Self Care.  Go walk your dog, meditate, sing karaoke, block off time at the beginning or end of your day and do not allow interruptions, go get a massage, listen to some comedy, watch puppy videos, take a social media break, go paint pottery, go play with puppies at a shelter… look, puppies heal everything.  But, seriously, your mental state really is the most important and the minute you become stressed, let’s face it, all else goes to the dogs. Are you tracking, with me?

 

So, let’s do this. Let’s clean out the clutter and get our hats on straight, again. When I feel in control, I can change the world… I’m telling you, I know these things. And, my dog believes me, so there’s that. 

 

Happy Spring!

 

 

Well, here we are in 2017!

January 20, 2017

This year, I decided to get back in the goal setting game, which is something that I fight against, honestly.  Like most people, I used to set up my lofty intentions, create my resolutions and start the New Year gung-ho and ready to go.  I would declare my intentions to all who would listen, and I tracked everything, down to the last, gratifying mark on my daily To-Do List.  The problem was, by April, I was burnt out and falling back into my old habits, resolute in my disgust for resolutions.  My thoughts were, it’s just a year. Sound familiar? Yeah, I know. I think we’re a lot more alike than you realize.

 

So, this year, I’m going at things a little differently.  I’ve decided to make small changes that will make me happier.  I’ve come to realize, as the years are moving faster, that it’s not just a new year, it’s my life… my story… my legacy.  This year, and every year, deserves the best that I can offer.  We’re all writing our stories and the last thing we want is to get to the end of our lives and wonder, “What just happened?”  So, this year, I’m going in a simplistic, but meaningful, direction. 

Very simply, “What will make me happier?” 

 

Yep, that’s really IT.

 

I started with reflection on the past year.

It seems that I always have tiny regrets that pop up and they tend to be things that I wish I had made time for.  So, this year is about more than just setting business goals; this year is about setting goals that are fun, fulfilling and generate happiness, all around.

 

I started my reflection with some questions about the past year:

 

What am I proud of achieving in 2016?

What did I enjoy most about 2016?

What do I want to expand on from 2016?

What did I not make time for in 2016?

What do I wish I did more of in 2016?

Where did I fall short in 2016?

What do I regret from 2016?

 

While I didn’t want to get stuck in the negativity of where I fell short, I thought it was important to be able to honestly assess what I didn’t do so that I could Correct, Expand On, or Dump, in order to make positive changes that made sense.  Mostly, I wanted a clear and honest assessment of what truly matters most.

 

 

Next, I decided to envision what I’d be thinking, feeling and experiencing at the end of 2017.  

I’ve heard a lot of people saying, “I’m glad that 2016 is over” and, honestly, it just doesn’t feel good.  I want to feel invigorated, accomplished, excited, and proud of the year that I am leaving.  And, I’m pretty sure that you do, too.

 

We’ve all heard the question, “What would you tell your 16 year old self?” and I decided that I needed to use that same magic on myself.  My thought was, what would the 2018 Me tell the 2017 Me?  So, using a little creative “time-machine” thinking, I decided some questions were in order, again, regarding where I will be at the end of this year:

 

What am I bursting with pride over from 2017?

What did I surprise myself with in 2017?

How did I move myself in a positive direction in 2017?

How did I impact those around me in 2017?

How did I make life better for others in 2017?

What did I teach others in 2017?

How were my relationships better in 2017?

What one thing will define the year 2017?

 

Using this tactic, I was able to Begin With The End In Mind, which would make Stephen Covey proud. It helped me clarify where I want to end up.  It identified what mark I want to make on my career, my family, my relationships, and my community.

 

Very simply, it helped me feel.

 

Having a personal connection, a belief, a feeling, and a glimpse into what your life will be like, upon achieving your goals, is magical.  Belief and emotional commitment are what carries us, when the going gets tough.  And, it will get tough. It always does, and that’s okay.

 

So, here is where the planning begins.

Write down your goals. Seriously, WRITE THEM DOWN. Those goals floating around in your head will not make it anywhere just hanging out. Put them on paper.  Be accountable. Be directive. Be clear.

 

Make an action plan. How will you accomplish these goals? What could derail you from working on them? Figure out what your steps are. Block off the time on your calendar, set up reminders for yourself, ask for the help you need from others.  All of this takes time, but your attention to your plan and methodology will keep you accountable.

 

Check in with yourself. As I mentioned, life gets tough and sometimes we need to correct and, even, redirect.  No harm, no foul.  If you need a little motivation, review your “time machine” answers and get juiced, again.  This is the story of your life that you’re writing and this should be fun, fulfilling and enjoyable.  The cool thing is, all of this is up to you and you get to be in control of how your story will end. Onward and upward, I say—here’s to the happiest year of your life!

 

 

 

 

×