Thursday, August 15, 2019

Quote of the week

“Unless you change how you are, you will always have what you've got.” - Jim Rohn

This week's quote is really pretty straightforward and a bit like the old definition of insanity (Doing the same things, the same ways but expected different results).

It makes sense when you think about it. Why would anything change if you do not or are not willing to make any changes. The energy you put out to the world is the same level of energy that comes back. Walk into a room looking down at your feet and not speaking to the people in the room and no one is going to speak to you. But walk into that same room with your head head high, a smile on your face and a warm hello to everyone you meet and you are sure to get hellos in return. Positive energy is infectious.

What ever you want more of in your life - love, happiness, health, wealth, possessions, etc. - is not going to materialize without effort on your part. You have to change how you see the world and how you are interacting with the world around you if you expect outcomes to change.

If you want better relationships and more love you have to be more loving.

If you want an increase in pay at work you have to be willing to learn new skills and be willing to take on more responsibilities. Let your boss know you want to grow. A good boss would be thrilled to hear you want to contribute more and will start to work with you to help you develop the skills you need. (and if your boss isn't interested in discussing your future growth it's time to find another boss).

If you want to be healthier you have to be willing to see a doctor, change your diet, work with a trainer, stop smoking, cut back on drinking etc. Yes, it is a trade-off and it will take time and effort on your part. But change requires your full participation.

There are very few things in life you cannot have - but you have to be willing to change, to commit, to put in the time and effort. Nothing happens overnight, but when you change things will change for you. Time, patience and commitment. Three words to live by and to change by.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

How Bright is your Light?

Your personal energy, your light, is the clearest indication to everyone you meet about how you feel about your life. Are you pumped up or are you just going through the motions? Do you bring energy and light with you wherever you go, or do you enter a room and bring the energy level down?

Life should be exciting and filled with new adventures and opportunities. Don’t start thinking that these are just once in a lifetime opportunities like climbing Mount Everest or diving on the Great Barrier Reef. New adventures and opportunities are all around you. What about that new restaurant that opened in town? What about a project at work that needs a team leader? How about volunteering at a local shelter or at your church, synagogue, or mosque? Assistant coach for a little league or soccer team? The list can go on and on.

The point is that there are a wide variety of opportunities all around you if you just keep your eyes, ears and heart open. And that is where your light comes from. Your light is a product of your head and your heart working together, embracing life and letting others know you care. It shines the brightest when you are engaged in helping others and is the dimmest when your focus is solely on yourself.

So, I ask you one more time, how bright is your light? If you are not bringing light and energy with you, I challenge you to find something you care about and can really sink your heart and mind into. You owe it not only to yourself, but to the world itself, to share your knowledge and your passion. You’ll be happier, you’ll feel more fulfilled, and everyone you encounter will feel the energy and light radiating from within you. 

It’s your life, it’s your light – Make the best and brightest you can each and every day.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Let's examine this Quote of the week

"What you do off the job is the determining factor in how far you will go on the job" – Zig Ziglar

As far as I am concerned this is one of Zig Ziglar’s best quotes. I believe this dates back to 1997 and still holds true today. We all gain experience and skills on the job itself, but you need to both grow and take care of yourself off the job as well to really become a valued resource for your company.

Only by exposing yourself to new ideas, new methods and new philosophies can you hope to increase your abilities and your sphere of influence. Read books, research topics, talk to people in and out of your field, attend seminars, take classes, watch TED talks, etc. There are a myriad of ways to increase your knowledge and open your mind to new possibilities.

In addition to just feeding your mind, you need to make sure to take care of your body and soul as well. Are you eating a truly healthy diet? Is your doctor (please tell me you see a doctor regularly) happy with your weight? How is your cardiovascular health? Do you have an exercise routine that challenges you and helps keep you fit? You need to be strong physically as well as mentally in order to be ready and able to truly excel at work.

Listen to Mr. Ziglar. Make sure you have a plan, and work that plan, for developing your whole self outside of the office. You, your boss, and the rest of the folks you work with will be glad you did.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Would you want to work with you?

Perhaps an odd question, but think about it for a moment. On a day to day basis are you a person that others want to work with? Are you the person people want on the team?

No one works in a vacuum. We all work with a variety of people in a variety of jobs and situations every day. What attitudes are you bringing with you day in and day out?

Let’s consider two different team members: Mary and Rodger.

Mary is energetic, positive and full of life. She is truly excited about what she does and looks forward to getting to work and helping make a difference no matter what has to be done. She is a team player and looks to help everyone she can throughout her day. She thinks before responding and chooses her words thoughtfully.

Rodger takes diligent notes but rarely comments in meetings and answers most questions with as few words as possible. He gets his work done and done well, but is not one to ask if others need help; he expects everyone to pull their own weight. He brings his lunch but avoids the break room in favor of eating alone in his car. He never talks about his weekend plans or anything in his personal life; he is all business all the time.

It would seem obvious that Mary would be a much better coworker, but there are quite a number of Rodgers in the workplace. Hard working and focused, but not that engaged with other team members or, often times, the organization itself. 

Take a step back and examine how you are interacting in your workplace. Are you engaged, outgoing and connected to others on your team, or are you a bit disengaged with your head down focused solely on your specific job tasks. If you are the latter I encourage you to be bold, lift your head up, put a smile on your face and start to engage with others in your workplace. You will find work will get more enjoyable, that people will respond more favorably to you and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get even better at your job, be looked at in a more positive light and even be given more responsibilities. Sounds like a win- win all around to me.         

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Servant Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

The phrase “Servant Leadership” was first coined in the early 1970’s and centered on the concept of the leader (or manager) being a servant to his/her direct reports. It can perhaps be best summarized with the following question: “How can I best serve my people?” Make no mistake – servant leaders are still in charge, but instead of relying on their title/position to command respect and compliance, servant leaders rely more on cooperation, coordination, persuasion, guidance and development to motivate their staff members to excel. Servant leaders put other people’s needs first and share power with them.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) was first coined in in a research paper for two psychology professors, Peter Salovey from Yale and John Mayer from UNH in 1990. Rutgers psychologist Daniel Goleman brought the concept mainstream with his 1998 book Working with Emotional Intelligence. In that book he suggests that EQ accounts for a full two-thirds of the abilities needed to be a successful leader and that EQ is twice as important and IQ. Simply put EQ is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions, as well as other people’s emotions.  To be emotionally intelligent you have to the ability to:

  • Identify what you are feeling;
  • Know how to interpret your emotions;
  • Understand how your emotions impact others;
  • Regulate your emotions; and
  • Manage other people’s emotions

Among other qualities that differentiate servant leaders from more traditional managers, servant leaders need:

  • to be effective listeners;
  • have a heightened awareness of their own and others strengths and weaknesses;
  • have a commitment to the growth of people; and 
  • be able to understand and empathize with others.

The ties between Servant Leadership and EQ are almost endless. For example, effective listening means talking less and actually listening to understand and not just to respond.  Taking time to hear and comprehend not only the words being spoken but also the emotional content within the message and the emotional state of the other person(s). Effective servant leaders with high EQ listen respectively to their staff and identify both their staff’s and their own emotional state before responding and/or acting upon the information they receive.  They are keenly aware that helping shift or guide the emotions of their staff will make a huge difference upon the successful implementation of any answer or directive given.

Servant Leaders are constantly evaluating the various strengths and weaknesses within their team and seeking ways to play on strengths and help correct weaknesses. EQ plays a very large role in this process. You simply cannot have a successful coaching/development meeting with anyone if you do not take into account the emotions present along with those that will crop up during the conversation.  Successful leaders come from a position of support and assistance and not of criticism. Honest feedback yes, but a supportive plan of action and an emotional management plan.

Servant leaders strive to both understand and empathize with their team members. This simply will not happen if your EQ has not been developed (Yes, unlike IQ – EQ can be developed and strengthened throughout your lifetime). Empathy requires an understanding of the emotions that another person is feeling and going through. You do not need to have experienced the exact situation – but emotionally you can find similarities and that is what you draw on in order to empathize.

Simply stated Servant Leadership requires high EQ. Every single quality of a Servant Leader is enhanced by having high EQ. The good news is that you can choose to develop both a Servant Leadership mindset and your Emotional Intelligence. I strongly encourage you to do both. EQ has become widely recognized as a required trait in today’s workforce; Servant Leadership has also been recognized as a powerful and effective method of leading any team. Make a commitment to yourself to learn more and practice both.   

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dump the Victim Mentality

Success finds its way to positive people. Plain and simple that’s just the way it works. In order to attract positive energy you have to radiate positive energy. And you simply cannot begin to radiate positive energy if you have a “victim mentality”. 

What’s a “victim mentality” you ask. If you blame the world around you for problems that you are facing, that’s victim mentality. If you give power to “them” or “they” in your thoughts you are suffering from victim mentality. Where you are right now is the sum of all the decisions and responses to your life’s events that you have made up to this point. Let’s be painfully honest here – shitty things happen. You can choose to let them effect you in a negative way (be the victim) or you can choose to think, plan and respond to them in a productive way which moves you forward.

You will never attract success if you will not take responsibility for where you are right here and now. One of the miracles in each our lives is that each and every day dawns with possibility; we have the ability to change how we are going to interact with the world around us. Now I know some of you reading this are saying, wait a second, there are things outside of my control; things that I cannot change and that I have to live with. That I won’t deny, but I am also not going to let you off the hook that easy. You see you can choose to react to life events/situations or you can choose to respond. 
Reacting is quick, emotional and generally ineffective. Reacting at best leaves you in the same place and at worst actually pushes you farther from your goals. Responding on the other hand requires you to think about what actions you could take and what the ramifications of each action would be. Responding is the slower method but the more intellectual and mature way to deal with whatever situations arise.

Reactionary people live in the world of the victim. They are quick to blame anyone but themselves. They react emotionally (and generally negatively). They take little to no real responsibility for where they are in life. They are generally quick to get angry, quick to complain and quick to point out all the “things” working against them. 

Responsive people on the other hand live in a world of possibility. They think about what has happened but even more importantly they think about what their best course of action would be. They are forward thinkers; not focused just on the here and now but on the next day, week, and month ahead. They plan things out and then work their plan. Things may not always work out as intended but they will make adjustments that they see are needed as they continually move forward.

There is an old saying that luck happens when opportunity meets preparation. People who have a victim mentality are never prepared and opportunities pass them right by. They are not even looking for them since they are too focused on assigning blame for the negative things they encounter in life.

And just so you don’t read this thinking that I couldn’t possibly understand your situation or that I haven’t had to deal with things outside my control  let me share just few things from my life. I have been fired from 2 jobs and my position was eliminated at a third (that’s right, I have been unemployed three times). I had to watch my wife fade away over an almost two year period while she battled and lost her battle with cancer. As I said earlier – shitty things happen. But I have never been a victim. I have always had the choice on how to respond to every event in my life.  Were there tough times? Of course. But that didn’t mean I was going to simply roll over and let life’s events control me. 

Life’s events do not need to control you either. Take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror. Admit to yourself that you are responsible for where you are at right now. Stop blaming other people, things or events for your lot in life. Make a commitment to yourself to start moving forward. Your life will not change immediately but it will change. Erase the word victim from your vocabulary and remember that you always have choices on how you will respond to any situation or event. Think things through and move forward. Keep doing that and positivity will start to move through your veins. Once you experience that feeling you’ll never want to be a victim again, and you will begin to attract more and more success into your life.

Think I’m nuts? I’ll respond with this: What do you have to lose? And think about what you’ll have to gain.     

Friday, October 7, 2016

You Can't Grow by Saying No

Personal growth comes from new experiences. If every day was the same as the one before life would get one-dimensional pretty quickly and you would become one-dimensional as well (boring!!). You have to experience new ideas, new tastes, new people, new music, new activities and new challenges in order to grow as a person. And isn’t that what life is all about after all - to grow into the best version of yourself as possible. The more you grow as a person the more you have to draw on, the more you have to share and the more you will be able to assist those around you. 

But here’s the thing. You can’t grow if you say no to new experiences or challenges when they come along (and they come along all the time!) How often do you say no? More times than you think. It’s just easier to stay in your comfort zone. But that comfort zone is holding you back. That comfort zone keeps you from fully developing into the awesome person you are. Sure it feels safer to say no but what are the real risks to saying yes. Are you afraid you’ll fail? Are you afraid you’ll be embarrassed? Are you afraid you won’t like it? Sure, any of those things might happen. But then again, they may not. That’s the paradox. You cannot know the outcome before you step forward. And the more you try to figure out the outcomes the more you’ll just play it safe and stay in your comfort zone.

Try this instead. The next time you are asked to do or try something and your gut reaction is no, stop and think about it. Why are you saying no? If it’s fear of the unknown or fear of failure I encourage you to be courageous and go ahead with a YES. Now I am not saying you say yes to everything no matter what. I am not asking you to be foolhardy. If you are asked to pick up a flaming log out of the campfire then obviously you’re going to say no (and if I am wrong about that you may want to seek psychiatric advice).  

But seriously, if there is not an obvious bodily threat why not try a yes. One at a time and see what happens. Some of the best experiences in my life have come from saying yes when I otherwise would have said no. Okay, so my knees were knocking sometimes (like right before giving a keynote address at a national sales conference) or I felt more than a bit uncomfortable (like going to party where I knew only a couple of the people attending). But in each of those instances, and many others, I ended up having a great time, meeting some interesting people and experiencing personal growth.

If the idea of saying yes seems overwhelming, try something small. The next time someone asks if you want to try a certain food or drink – try it. A small taste will not hurt you. If you don’t like it just thank the person for letting you try it but be honest and say you did not care for it. You grew as a person because you tried. You don’t have to like everything, that’s not the point. The point is to work on being open to whatever life has to offer and not being afraid to say yes.

Every new experience, every new book, every new person, every new idea that you come in contact with helps you grow into a more rounded person. You grow as an individual from contact with the ideas of others and the shared experiences with the world around you. You owe it to yourself and those who you know and love (now and in the future) to become the absolute best version of you possible. Saying YES helps make that happen.