Monday, August 31, 2009

Everyone does it....

If I hear that one more time...I will scream.

With my daughter starting kindgergarten, this is just about the only thing that people want to say, "everybody does it."

Instead, what these words say to my daugher is:

1. Be like everyone else
2. What ever you are feeling, it's not valid.
3. Don't rock the boat
4. Get in line.
5. Just be quiet and follow the crowd.

Doesn't the 21st century need better leadership than this?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Do you understand the problem you are solving?

The number one complaint that people have about their jobs is that they feel under utilized in their jobs. They believe that they contribute a lot more than they do. Ironically, this is still the case even during these times of fewer resources and higher expectations.

You may feel like it is your boss' job to utilize you and to seek out your contributions.

Yes. It is partly their responsibility, but you have a role in this as well.

Creating a bridge between you and your boss requires both of you to build it, but you need to be the one to initiate the process.

Start with a good understanding of where your strengths are. And don't stop there, look to see where your boss' pain points are. What is he/she trying to solve? What is the problem that you can solve by uniquely applying your strengths?

When you understand the problem that needs to be solved and how you uniquely can solve them, you are on your way towards creating value and contribution.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Now is Now...not Forever

We are often encouraged to live each day at a time. To be present and to absorb each moment. This is all sound advice.

However, we often hold onto the present far too tight. Whether it's a "bad" present or a "good" present, we often think it is here forever.

Not so. I just took my 5 year old to her first day of kindergarten just this week. There is the reality that a chapter in our lives has closed and now a new one is here. Whether it is a good chapter or a bad one, change is most likely a guarantee in our lives, both at work and at home.

When people face work challenges; perhaps a bad boss, a challenging time of layoffs, or just the wrong job. It is hard to see that what you are living in is not going to be here forever. You may even grow disheartened and discouraged. I believe that is because you glorify the past. We always think the past is sooooo much better than it really was. Get real with the past and accept where you are now. And remember that a new day, a new present moment, will always bring new opportunities.

I see this often with the struggle of working moms. They mourn what they can't do in their present "now", and by mourning they miss what they are doing "now."

Now is now, not forever. Accept it and live it. Look forward by not glorifying the past.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is Discipline in your Routine?

I consider myself a fairly disciplined person. Having been a runner for nearly 30 years requires discipline in my daily routine.

However, there are places where my discipline has dropped. For example, I have not established a daily discipline for my blog writing. And yet, I do think it is important for my development and for the development of those I serve.

When we prioritize something in our lives, we need to schedule it. By scheduling it, we assure that it gets done and is part of our daily routine.

We should never hear ourselves say: "I just don't have time to do the things I love." These should be the first things to schedule. Scheduling activities isn't only about business-related things, but personal ones as well.

When we are disciplined and schedule things we love, in addition to the must-dos, we become more productive.

Is Fear Driving You?

We are still in the midst of difficulty.

And with it, comes fear.

The kind of fear that roots you in your spot and if you move, you move slowly with apprehension and uncertainty.

It is the kind of fear that takes over your confidence, your clear sense of thinking and determination. It is as if someone else is driving your ship and you have no idea where you are going.

Most of us would agree that fear is a terrible thing, but we often only acknowledge it with the things that threaten our physical lives; such as fear of flying, fear of speed, fear of heights, etc. And yet, its ever-presence in our everyday lives is often masked as something else; such as hesitation, prudence, lack of confidence, or uncertainty. However, the underlying emotion behind each of these is fear.

Fear has a firm grip. Fear can keep us in unhappy relationships, the wrong jobs, or even worse yet; fear can keep us from living both at work and at home.

Ironically, fear is not about self-preservation but rather self-destruction. Its impact is often detrimental to our personal and professional growth. So, it should come as little surprise that people who achieve success in life know how to overcome fear's grasp in order to capture opportunity.

Warren Buffet says it best: "be greedy only when others are fearful."
What he means by this is that you have the opportunity to win and to rise above the rest when fear is in the air. In difficult times, the majority is not likely to take action. It is counter intuitive, but when times are tough, it is most effective to dive in rather than pull back.

The best antidote for fear is action.


Think about the small steps you have made when you have been stuck in fear and how empowering it is when you have overcome it. All it takes is small steps. Each step builds on the success of the prior one, and after a series of steps, the fear is abated. Fear usually paints a very realistic, yet terrible picture of the unknown in our minds, but taking small steps helps us recognize that this picture is often an illusion. Your fear may be drawing pictures in your mind like this:
  • I will never find a job to support myself or my family
  • I will never get promoted in this company
  • I will never get back on my feet if I lose my job
  • I will never make it on my own
  • I will lose my home
  • I will starve
  • I won't ever be loved by anyone else again
  • I will never earn any money again
  • I don't have any skills
  • I don't think there is anything right for me

The more you can challenge yourself to confront the unknown to see how these pictures are in fact illusions, the better you will become at overcoming fear. I believe that you can do this in simple ways every day, so that when you confront the big fears in your life, you are more equipped to handle them.

Here are some every day, fear-busting, confronting-the-unknown ideas to pursue at work at home and everywhere in between:

  1. Dine alone in a public place.
  2. Attend a social event where you don't know anyone.
  3. Travel to a city/country you don't know.
  4. Eat something you never have tried before.
  5. Talk with someone who doesn't speak your language.
  6. Speak to a stranger.
  7. Ask for help from someone you don't know.
  8. Do something you never have done before.
  9. Learn something new.
  10. Go first.

Come on, step out, take action and put fear behind you. There is bound to be a great opportunity worth taking.