Every leader around the globe has faced significant challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The uncertainly is almost unbearable, decisions never more consequential, and the call for leadership louder than ever. Like so many others, I cycle through feelings of positivity and excitement for the future and then slump into feelings of exhaustion and dread. One day, I jump out of bed certain that I can accomplish anything and then next, I want to hide under the covers. While feelings of ebb and flow are common, they seem to be more amplified these days.
Reflecting on the past six months, I am struck by how much I have learned as a leader and I’d like to share a few of these insights for your consideration and feedback.
1. Sometimes there is no wrong or right answer; there is a high likelihood that some of my decisions will be both at the same time
The dichotomy of leadership is real and never more present in decision making today. I have come to accept and embrace that seemingly opposing truths can exist at the same time. The uncertainty around what the future might bring requires good decision making but doing so is incredibly difficult. I have gotten comfortable that each decision I make may be right for some reasons and wrong for others and that no matter what, I can pivot if needed.
2. A strong team and a solid culture can survive just about anything
This year has been incredibly challenging. In the first half of 2020, StoneAge went through a significant company-wide reorganization, an encryption attack that took down our IT systems for a month, the COVID-19 pandemic, acquiring a company, layoffs and pay cuts, and more. And we are knocking it out of the park.
Sure, we are still dealing with the challenges that a broken healthcare system and economic shutdown have brought, but we have bounced back from every single roadblock with resilience, grit, and teamwork. Has it always been pretty? No. Has morale taken a hit? Yes. But our team shows up day in and day out, working together to support each other and exceed our customers' expectations. And each day, we realize that we aren’t just surviving, but in many ways, thriving. This would be impossible if it weren’t for a solid culture and strong teammates at every level of the organization. I am incredibly grateful for my amazing team.
3. Bold moves won’t always be understood or appreciated but making them is imperative to come out the other side stronger
At the beginning of the pandemic, we made the weighty decision to go through with an acquisition. Countless nights were spent wondering if I was making the right call. In the end, I trusted my instincts.
Based on our due diligence, we knew the company was healthy and that we could absorb the hit if our projections didn’t play out. Our vision for StoneAge was crystal clear and there was no doubt that this acquisition fit strategically and would help us reach our goals faster. These data points, combined with my instincts telling me to make this bold move, compelled us forward. And six months later, there is no doubt it will pay off.
But not everyone understands the decision; some wonder why we chose to spend money on an acquisition when we are cutting expenses and forecasting conservatively. Some are asking why we aren’t hunkering down. My response is one of dichotomy: you must conserve and invest at the same time. Just do it in the right places. Making smart, well thought out bold moves will set you apart when this is all said and done.
4. Mental toughness is key; I’ve never been tougher
To be highly successful, a leader must be mentally tough; it’s what separates those who are good from those who are great. Throughout this pandemic, I’ve worked hard to overcome setbacks, mistakes, burnout, and stress. I have pushed aside doubt and banished negative self-talk. Sure, there have been a few meltdowns, but when they pass, I realize how therapeutic they were. I know I will be stronger because of the challenges, not despite them. This is the definition of mental toughness.
5. That being said, it’s okay to feel scared, overwhelmed and to say, “I don’t know”
I have said “I don’t know” more in the past six months than I have in all my years of leading combined. This is uncomfortable; leaders are supposed to have all the answers, right? While deep down, I’ve always known this isn’t true, it’s hard to stand in front of your team and tell them that you don’t have answers to all their questions. That I am muddling along, just like they are, trying to do the best I can while feeling overloaded, fearful and worried. I’ve cried on my husband’s shoulder, overcome with the weight of the responsibility I feel for my family, employees and company...and all of humanity.
And it’s okay. In fact, it’s normal.
We all are going through this together, sharing emotions of pain and grief, hope and optimism. We are all human, not that different from one another. I’ve learned to embrace the insecurities that these challenges have brought out in me, aiming to move through them with grace, gratitude, and resolve.
It takes serous fortitude to lead in times like these and it’s an honor to have the trust of my team, family, industry and community. This trust is something I don’t take lightly. Being able to honestly reflect upon and share experiences is what allows us to come out of crises like these stronger. Thanks for allowing me to share mine. Now I’d like to hear from you. What have you learned about yourself over the past six months?
Thanks for reading. Please comment, like and share!
When asked recently to name the one attribute CEOs will need most to succeed in the turbulent times ahead, Michael Dell, the CEO of Dell, Inc., replied, “I would place my bet on curiosity.”
Curiosity is the keen desire to learn or know something. It’s the basic element of cognition; it motivates us to explore new ideas and is the building block of our decision-making. Most importantly, it’s fundamental to success.
Why Being Curious is Important to Success
Curious people desire to understand how the world works beyond what they experience, so they naturally ask more questions. This opens doors, giving them an advantage over those who are less curious. Asking good questions positions them to learn how do a job better, faster, and more creatively which leads to new assignments, promotions, and raises.
Being curious makes people more likely to consider new ideas which helps them discover the future. This is vital in today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing world. Imagine the world without curious thinkers such as Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and the Dalai Lama. These leaders, along with many others, devoted their lives to finding new solutions to old problems. I’m not suggesting you should aim to be the next Albert Einstein, but you can make more of an impact by being relentlessly curious.
Curiosity leads to better decision making. This doesn’t mean curious people don’t fail; they do, but they learn from failure. They explore what went right and what went wrong. They work to expand their perspective so they don’t miss important information or overlook a key view point. Curiosity also makes people more willing to change their minds; this is crucial because we all have cognitive biases that cloud our judgment and color our views incorrectly which can lead to mistakes in our thinking.
How to Be More Curious
While we are born curious, it can wane over time as we start to believe that we know more than we actually do. The good news is that we can relearn this trait. Here’s how…
Thanks for reading and please share, like and comment to help spread the message!
Aligning your work with personal purpose is an integral part of being fulfilled at work. In fact, it’s often advised to “do what you love; turn your passion into your work!” Despite its feel-good intent, it’s not great counsel. "Passion is not something you follow," says Cal Newport, author of “So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Search for Work You Love.” "Passion is something that will follow you as you put in the hard work to become valuable to the world."
Most highly skilled people are that way because they worked hard at becoming their very best. Take Michael Jordan, believed to be the best basketball player of all time. Remarkably, he was uninterested in sports as an adolescent. Considered too short by his coaches, he didn’t make the 9th grade basketball team. As a sophomore, he made the junior varsity basketball team, but not varsity. Embarrassed, he channeled his perceived failure into motivation to practice more than anyone else. First at the gym and last to leave, he believed that he would get out of the game what he put into it. And, because he worked to be good at basketball, it became his passion. Once it became his passion, he overcame all obstacles.
While most of us will never be the Michael Jordan of our professions, we can learn from his dedication to hard work and practice. It’s rewarding to be great at something and since you spend 8+ hours a day at work, why not commit to being great at your job? It might just turn into your passion.
You can’t be great at something unless you know what “great” looks like. Your goals will change as you master your role so don’t spend time trying to figure out the end game; there is no end game. Pick one part of your job to master first, determine what being an expert looks like, set goals, then act, and then repeat.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
It’s hard to excel at something if you don’t go beyond your comfort zone; you will never achieve mastery if you don’t push yourself. Take on a challenging new project, ask your boss for in-depth, critical feedback on your performance, or learn a new skill. Rather than accept status quo, raise the bar for yourself.
Don’t Get Distracted
It’s easy to be distracted by tasks that minimize the discomfort of working hard at something you aren’t yet great at. In my first sales job, I had to develop a book of business from scratch and I did everything I could to avoid cold calling. I hated cold calling. I checked email, gossiped with coworkers, brainstormed with my boss…anything but put my head down to do the uncomfortable work. I quickly recognized I wouldn’t be successful if I didn’t pick up the phone, so I bought myself a 30-second sand timer. As soon as I hung up from one cold call, I flipped the timer over and I forced myself to make another call before the sand filled the bottom chamber. In six months, I was named Salesperson of the Year. The moral of the story: don’t be your own worst enemy; minimize distractions.
Give Your Best Effort
There’s no way around it, if you want to be great at something, you must work at it. Channel Michael Jordan: practice, practice, and more practice. Look at new tasks and challenges as strength and conditioning exercises; with every task complete and challenge overcome you’ve built your “getting really good at your job” muscles. Give your best effort and analyze your performance. Then practice more.
Never Stop Learning
Read job related books or publications, take a class, go to a conference, join a forum, ask for more training, try a new way of doing something, and find out how other people do your job. Be curious and never stop learning.
Ask for Feedback
Receiving feedback can be tough, but it’s critical to grow personally and professionally. Be coachable by checking your ego at the door. Ask your boss and coworkers for feedback on your performance. If you get criticism, don’t take it personally or give up; instead use it as fuel for improvement.
As Michael Jordan so wisely said, “I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, results will come.” I also believe that if you put in the work, your passion will come.
Thank you for reading. Please comment, like or share if you are so include to help me spread this message.
Having just wrapped up my first decade as a CEO and reflecting on what I want the next decade to look like, I was struck by how much I’ve grown and matured as a leader. The 2010s were filled with many ups and downs, achievements and setbacks, laughter and tears…just like any good decade should be! I took a few moments to jot down what I learned in my first decade as a CEO and this is what I came up with, along with some suggestions for you to consider.
Happy New Year and thanks for reading. I hope this was useful to you as you think about your own leadership journey over the next decade. And, as always, I appreciate comments, likes and shares.
Leading from the middle isn’t easy. To do it well, you must be able to manage up, down and sideways, juggling the demands of your boss, the needs of your direct reports, and the collaboration desired by your peers. You need to understand the company vision and strategy while at the same time be able to manage the details of your department. You must handle the pressure of needing to be all things to all people and balance the competing priorities within the organization.
The key to succeeding in a middle management role is to stay focused, communicate often, and don’t take things personally. You can make a significant difference in your organization by figuring out how to navigate the ins and outs of the company structure to get things done. And when you lead well from the middle, you’re not likely to stay in the middle for long. Here are some tips.
Communication is Critical
In most organizations, communication has a trickle-down effect and the ‘why’ gets diluted the further it gets from the top. Do not let this happen to you. Great middle managers know how to ask for information and then distill it down to actionable tasks that his or her team can execute. Make sure you are on the same page as your boss, ask for advice when appropriate, and talk to your team as often as possible.
Great managers are honest and direct in their communication. Both your manager and your employees should always know where you stand. To give feedback effectively be clear, be positive, focus on the behavior rather than the person, be specific, and make it a two-way conversation.
Giving feedback is hard to do and great managers take it like a champ, making it as easy as possible on those who are forward with constructive criticism. Show your willingness to take feedback by listening closely to what’s being said. Ask clarifying questions and refrain from making excuses or getting defensive. Say thank you and then take action to show that you heard and valued the feedback.
Middle managers must be able to handle stress, uncertainty, and setbacks with grace as shifting priorities and miss-communication can put them in difficult situations. Don’t take setbacks personally...they are part of the job. Treat every problem as part of your learning process, don’t over dramatize the issue, find a positive outcome, and then move on.
Stop talking and start listening. To be a great middle manager, you need to understand what your boss, your employees, and your customers are truly saying so you can make better decisions. There are nuisances in every conversation and if you catch them, you’ll be better able to navigate office politics. Pay attention to your employees’ feedback and suggestions; act to show that you can effectively solve problems.
As management guru and author Kenneth Blanchard said, "The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority." To get things done, you must be able to influence those around you. While being a manager gives you a certain amount of influence, you can be more effective if you take the time to build trust and prove that you want to help others succeed. To cultivate influence, learn about others’ working styles, goals, and priorities, be personable, and listen mindfully. Get out of your office and engage.
Great middle managers know that they must work well with their peers to break down silos and get big projects done. Forging ties with management peers enhances individual success and improves the company’s bottom line. Seek out opportunities to connect with your peers, bridge gaps between departments by being helpful, share information and follow up often.
Do Your Work with Integrity
Effective leadership is all about getting results the right way. Do your work with impeccable integrity and intention. Don’t cut corners, cheat, violate values, or step on others to get the job done. If you make a mistake, take ownership of it. People who demonstrate integrity draw others to them because they are trustworthy and dependable.
More than ever, great managers are needed at every level of an organization. Be bold and accept the challenge of middle management. You’ll emerge a far better leader and you’ll create new opportunities to stretch yourself and your team.
As always, thank you for reading! I welcome and encourage likes, shares, and comments.
I love riding my Peloton spin bike. I’m addicted to it. Not only are the classes challenging, I am inspired by the instructors’ moving stories and thought-provoking comments. A recent ride on the Peloton taught me a new acronym that I can’t stop telling others about…and applying to my daily life with diligence.
W.A.I.T: Why Am I Trippin’?
I like to think of myself as a positive, optimistic person, but I often find myself getting frustrated, or annoyed...and sometimes even angry. I am good at letting things go quickly, but if I’m honest with myself, I probably let unimportant things get to me too much.
Hence my new mantra: W.A.I.T.
As soon as I feel my temperature start to rise, I pause and ask, “Why am I trippin’? Is feeling angry and annoyed worth it? Can I change anything about this situation? Does getting angry serve me well? Does it help me show up as the positive, optimistic person I believe myself to be? Is acting this way helpful to me or anyone else?”
I have found is that 99% of the time, the answers to these questions are NO; they just aren’t that big of a deal. Seeing this has helped me change my mindset and my reactions. Instead of letting the annoyance ruin the moment, I let it go. Instead of complaining or criticizing, I respond in a positive, more inspiring way.
And it’s working! I’ve been applying W.A.I.T to my life for the past few months and the results are remarkable. I feel happier. I’ve had more meaningful interactions with everyone around me. I am better able to defuse emotional situations. I am more accountable.
I share this with you in hopes that you, too, can find it to be a powerful tool to create a happier, more fulfilling life.
Thanks for reading and as always, I appreciate comments, shares and likes!
I recently found myself in a situation where I needed to apologize to someone I hurt. I was conflicted, my thoughts filled with self-justifying righteousness, “I am right, and I am hurt, too!” Yet at the same time, I was filled with regret, choking on unfinished words and self-reproach. “This isn’t turning out the way I want it to,” I said to myself. Ugh…the only way to get myself out of my self-inflected situation was to say, “I’m sorry.”
Apologizing is difficult, especially when the stakes are high and the hurt runs deep. It’s easy to let yourself off the hook, blaming the other person and minimizing your role in the situation. When you finally bring yourself to say the words, stress hormones flood the body creating fight or flight responses. Your brain screams, “Don’t do it! Run!” or “Get mad! Don’t go down without a fight!” It’s takes everything in your power to go through with it. Your mind spins as you think of the million ways to express yourself. But in the end, it’s worth it. When you apologize, it allows space for both you and the other person to move forward, to let go, to forgive. It will make you and the other person feel better.
So how do you apologize the right way?
Write Down the Outcomes You Want
Before you go into a high stress situation, know what you want to get out of it. Write down your desired outcomes and keep them handy during the conversation; it will help you stay on track if the person responds emotionally and you can review them if you find yourself getting emotional or making excuses. Examples of outcomes might be to repair a damaged relationship, defuse an emotional situation, or simply to own your part in a conflict.
Check Your Emotions. Choose How You Want to Feel
Emotions don’t have to dictate your feelings and reactions. Even when they are strong, you can still choose how you want to feel. You can choose to feel compassion, relief, or ownership. Or you can also choose to feel angry, justified, or shameful. It’s up to you to determine your outlook on the situation, so check your emotions and choose to see the bright side of apologizing.
Apologize. Own it. Don’t Over Explain Your Actions
It’s best to just say, “I am sorry; I own what I did.” Most people don’t want to hear excuses because they water down the apology and make it feel insincere. Sometimes though, it may be appropriate to explain your side, but only do it to help the person forgive, not to minimize your role in what happened. Over explaining sounds like excuse making.
Express Regret, Be Specific
In addition to saying, “I’m sorry,” you should express regret for hurting the other person. For example, “I regret hurting you; it was wrong of me to blame you and it damaged our relationship. Our relationship is important to me and I understand that I have to earn your trust back.” This validates the person’s feelings which is what most people want out of an apology. Being specific brings a tone of sincerity and it shows you understand how your actions affected the person.
Ask Questions and Listen
Remember, the person you are apologizing to isn’t there to only hear you out. Give him or her the opportunity to respond. Ask questions to draw out meaningful dialogue, listen carefully and don’t get defensive.
Make Commitments and Keep Them
After you’ve apologized and expressed regret, make a commitment to change your behavior. Outline what you are going to do differently and follow through. Everyone makes mistakes but there is nothing worse than repeating it because you didn’t change your behavior. Trust can be rebuilt quickly if you demonstrate that you’ve learned from what happened.
Smile, Say Thank You and Leave
At the end of your apology, smile. Smiling makes everyone feel better and it releases tension. Thank the person for listening and then leave. Most people need time to process and hanging around afterwards doesn’t allow the space required to do so.
Following these steps will help you deliver a sincere, meaningful apology and will start the process of forgiveness. As famous cartoonist Lynn Johnson famously wrote, “An apology is the super glue of life. It can repair just about anything.”
Thanks for reading and as always, I appreciate comments, likes and shares!
Human nature drives us to avoid situations that feel scary; fear and anxiety overwhelm and we hunker down, looking for relief from uncomfortable feelings. Yet, to reach our full potential, we must overcome the instinctual urge to fight or flight and challenge ourselves to do new and bigger things. We must get outside our comfort zones.
What does getting outside your comfort zone mean?
Your comfort zone is defined as a place or situation where you feel safe or at ease and without stress. It’s a cozy place, but if you stay too long, you’ll miss out on valuable opportunities to grow. You have to take some risks, try new things, and push your boundaries. You must embrace discomfort and shove fear aside.
Why is getting outside of your comfort zone good?
Let’s say you want a promotion but you are worried about failing. You have two choices: 1) take on a high profile project that, if successful, could catapult your career but is risky because it’s outside your area of expertise and failure is a possibility; or 2) play it safe, put your head down, and do your daily tasks in hopes that someone will see your potential and give you a shot. The first option creates an opportunity; the second option leaves that opportunity in another’s hand. Being willing to get outside your comfort zone allows you to create a better life. You won’t get a promotion, leave a bad job, gain a new skill, develop a meaningful relationship, or build your confidence if you always avoid discomfort.
What holds people back from doing it more often?
Fear of failure causes us to doubt our ability to take on a challenge and succeed. We create stories of doom and gloom that make us want to retreat to the warm cocoon of predictability and ignorant bliss. It’s scary being out on a limb. But if you are honest with yourself, how many times did the doom and gloom turn out to be as horrible as you anticipated? How often did you rise to the challenge when you pushed yourself to do something new? When you failed, was it really that bad? Didn’t you learn something incredibly valuable? Don’t let a false narrative hold you back.
How do you get outside your comfort zone?
The only way to get out of your comfort zone is to, well, get out of your comfort zone. Yes, it’s obvious and yes, it’s the only way. Stop listening to the voice telling you dreadful stories of failure and humiliation. Ask yourself these questions: if I take this risk, what’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best that can happen? What’s most likely to happen? This process helps you see a ‘middle of the road’ outcome that is not total failure but also doesn’t leave you disappointed if you don’t achieve your highest expectations. Another way is to be vulnerable and share your fears with someone else. You’ll find courage by connecting with others and hearing how they overcame self-doubt. Other ideas? Change your morning routine, sign up for a class to learn a new skill, read inspiring books, hang out with people more successful than you, take on a new project at work, or give someone candid feedback. There are a million ways to push yourself; you just have to do it.
What happens if you are always outside of your comfort zone?
Many of us have been living perpetually outside of our comfort zones for some time now; I know I’ve been. The chaos of fast moving change, increased demands on time, and the pressure to deliver results and perform can be overwhelming. While it’s good to push yourself, doing so for too long can lead to burn out. “When demands become too great for us to handle, when the pressure overwhelms us, too much to do with too little time or support, we enter the zone of bad stress,” author Daniel Goleman writes in Psychology Today. “Just beyond the optimal zone at the top or the performance arc, there is a tipping point where the brain secretes too many stress hormones, and they start to interfere with our ability to work well, to learn, to innovate, to listen, and to plan effectively.” If you find yourself in this state, step back, ask for help, and take a few days off. It may seem impossible, but you’ll find that you will feel refreshed and able to take on more after some down time.
While staying in your comfort zone may feel predictable and consistent, in the long run you’ll lose out. Taking on challenges and being open to new experiences create opportunities that can take your success to the next level. Think about the last time you did something you were proud of? Were you pushing yourself or on autopilot? Don’t be afraid of getting to close to the edge of your perceived limitations. If you walk right up and look over, you’ll see all kinds of paths that lead you to a more enriched and engaged life.
Thanks for reading! As always, I am grateful for your shares, likes, and/or comments so please do so if you feel inclined!
Did you know that being kind inspires kindness in others? Numerous studies show that when someone shows you kindness, you are likely to pay it forward. Think about it…when a person holds the door for you and smiles warmly, you tend to want to reciprocate. You find that the next time you can hold a door open for someone, you do so with pleasure. It feels good to be kind.
While it seems unassuming, being kind is truly powerful. Think what we could achieve if we chose (yes, it is a choice) to be kind to everyone with whom we interact. The world would immediately be a better place for each of us. Rather than feeling judged, shamed, shunned, or ignored, we would feel seen, appreciated, accepted, and respected. Since our moods and emotions tend to be contagious, we would be spreading happiness rather than yuckiness.
Always being kind, no matter the person or situation, is a simple way to dramatically improve our world. The best thing about it is that being kind requires no rules, laws, or government regulation. It’s a way for humanity to take back…well…our humanity. We as individuals can lead by example and maybe, just maybe, those who lead our communities, organizations, and countries will follow suit, showing that in the end, all that really matters is how kind we are to each other.
Here are some easy ways to start being more kind. They take no extra investment, just a conscious mindset shift and purposeful interactions.
Smile and Make Eye Contact
Show people that you see and appreciate their humanity no matter where they come from, what their belief system is, or what the situation they find themselves in. Smile and make eye contact with everyone…your coworkers, your children, the homeless guy on the corner, the clerk at the grocery store. You’ll receive smiles in return and you’ll instantly feel better, as will the people you smile at.
Being polite is simple yet respectful. Say “yes please”, “no thank you”, and “I’m sorry” often. Let someone else go first, hold the door open for others, and acknowledge people with a smile. When conversing with another, be positive, refrain from gossiping, and for goodness sake, put your phone away.
Random Acts of Kindness
I’ll never forget one morning when I walked into my office and found a little slip of paper with the words “You Have a Nice Smile” typed upon it. This little slip of paper made my day; I had a spring in my step for weeks because of this simple, anonymous acknowledgment. It’s still taped to my monitor today. Spread joy by doing small things for the people around you. Buy a stranger a cup of coffee, leave a note of appreciation on a coworker’s keyboard, send flowers to a friend, randomly leave Hershey’s Kisses on peoples’ desks, pick up litter in your neighbor’s front yard…it’s the little things that can make a person’s day and performing a random act of kindness increases the chance that others will pay it forward, too.
Being helpful is an easy way to show kindness. Take a moment out of your busy day to give a stranger directions, aid someone in picking up the papers he dropped, make eye contact and engage when a coworker asks for your assistance, and help your spouse load the dishwasher. It only takes a few moments to be helpful and it can make a big difference in a person’s day.
Reach Out to Someone Who is in Need
We all go through tough times and it’s nice to receive kindness when you’re down in the dumps. Call a friend going through a divorce, hug a coworker who just lost a loved one, send a note to someone going through a hard time to let her know you are thinking of her, or give a tissue to a crying stranger. Don’t be afraid to reach out; just a simple acknowledgement of someone’s pain can help ease the feeling of loneliness and despair.
Send a Nice Email to Someone Everyday
It stakes 60 seconds to send an email expressing gratitude and appreciation; those 60 seconds can go a long way to spread kindness in the world. Make sending a sincerely kind email to friends, coworkers, community leaders, etc. a daily habit.
Drive with Kindness in Mind
Be a kind driver; let some enter the lane in front of you and don’t tailgate or speed up quickly behind a slower driver. Don’t get angry when someone cuts you off; instead smile and wish him a nice day. Choose to be a non-aggressive driver. You’ll not only be happier but you’ll also inspire others to be kinder drivers and you’ll improve the safety of everyone on the road.
Find Something to Appreciate About Those Who are Different Than You
I like Heineken’s “Worlds Apart” commercial; it shows how two strangers with very different views can find commonalities that unite them rather than divide them. Yes, this ad simplifies the issues causing the mass polarization of humans today, but if you pause to consider that those you dislike may not be all that different from you, you might be more inclined be kinder to everyone. And really, what life improvement comes from hating someone who believes differently than you? All it does is bring self-pain and self-suffering while the rest of us go on being who we are, not really thinking too much about why you hate us; we are too busy focusing on our own life issues such as why it’s so hard to find a good paying job, affordable housing, a loving relationship, and someone to watch our children without breaking the bank. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. We aren’t so different after all.
Science and psychology show that humans tend to mirror each other; we reflect what we see in others. This is especially true of our leaders as we tend to emulate them the most. Choose your actions and your corresponding reflections carefully as they can make a profound difference in the happiness, kindness, and generosity in others. Choose to use this wonderful superpower we all carry within us to change the world for the better.
Thanks for reading. As always, I appreciate comments, likes, shares and retweets; please do so if you are inclined.
Whether you are a leader, manager, or an employee who wants to be a high performer, there is almost nothing more important than creating more time to think. It may seem next to impossible in this fast paced, constantly-plugged-in world, but it must be a priority if personal and professional growth are important to you. Why? Because if you aren’t making time to think through problems, the future, and your role in what comes next, you will always be reacting. If you are constantly reacting, you aren’t giving yourself time to see the possibilities, think through potential consequences, calm down, and ultimately, make better decisions. I don’t know about you, but I like making good decisions, therefore I make time to think.
Respond vs reacting
First, let’s consider why responding is so much better than reacting. When you find yourself in a situation where you must react, fight or flight mode kicks in. Stress hormones wash through your body and you feel compelled to say or do something that you may later regret. Reacting is a natural urge, it happens automatically and it must be consciously resisted. Instead of reacting, choose to respond. You can do this by taking a breath (literally) and giving yourself time to reflect on what’s happening in the moment. This pause can be a few seconds, a few minutes, or a few days and it will allow you to observe what’s going on inside and out, making it easier to gain control of your emotions and decision making process.
Stop Wasting So Much Time
Facebook, Twitter, news feeds, television and other distractions should be reduced to a minimum if you want to create a more time to think. These things diverts precious time and creates background noise that clogs your thinking. Do you actually do anything with the steady stream of content that comes from these sources anyway? When was the last time you had a profound, personally life changing realization from a tweet or an Instagram post? Never? Me, neither. So shut it down and fill your new found time with things like reading thought-provoking writing, writing your personal vision, thinking about how to best achieve your goals, and brainstorming ways to improve your relationships. There are so many meaty things to think about…things that could change your life…if you would just stop and think about them.
"The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything." This quote by Warren Buffet pretty much sums it up. The busier you are, the less time you have to think. The less time you have to think, the harder it is to be really successful. Buffet continues, “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think.” It’s hard to argue with one of the most successful people on the planet. Simplifying will help you focus on what’s most important. Here’s an exercise: write down all the things you feel are priorities in these categories: work, family, personal wellness/fulfillment. List at least 20 items in each category. Then force yourself to pick the top three in each category. Don’t do anything else but these 9 things until you’ve mastered them. Now that’s simplifying! Focus is the key to success.
Another way of simplifying your life is to delegate. Are you really THE person who MUST do all the tasks on your list? Hire a someone to clean your house; have groceries delivered to your door; make your kids ride the bus to school; ask a coworker to help you with a task; approach your boss about getting administrative support on a big project. If you are a manager or a leader, make sure you hire people you can delegate to and empower them to take on challenging assignments. Give them projects that you might normally do yourself. When you find yourself performing tasks that are in the weeds, ask yourself, “should I be doing this or managing this?” If the answer is managing it, delegate it.
Being disorganized is a time suck. Plan your day so you don’t waste time looking for items that should be handy, doing things twice, and working on unimportant tasks. Be disciplined; make a daily agenda that lines out your day. This list shouldn’t be too long and should include a block of time used to think as well as the three things you must do to move the ball down the field on your most important priorities. I love this new Self Journal; I just started using it and it’s working well for me. I also you Evernote to track my to-do lists.
Take a Lunch Break
Resist the temptation to work while you scarf down a sandwich; lunchtime is the perfect time to ponder. Step away from your desk and breathe deeply. Jot down new ideas in a notebook; reflect on your day and come up with ways you could be doing things better; consider what you might be missing when tackling a big problem at home or work. Better yet, take a walk and let your mind wonder; be curious as to where your thoughts take you. Use this 30 minutes to get away from the grind and think.
Find Your Method
There are lots of different ways to do your best thinking. Mine happens when I am exercising. The trouble is that I forget everything as soon as I stop, therefore I use notetaking and audio recording apps so I can capture ideas as I work out. Pausing during a run to type out a few ideas isn’t ideal but it works for me. I also frequently read and listen to audiobooks and I use the same apps to record ideas sparked from consuming thought-provoking content. Writing is a great outlet whether it be expressing an idea to a colleague via email, journaling, outlining your thoughts on paper, or writing a draft memo to your boss. Other people do their best thinking in the shower, while walking the dog, during long flights, or when laying on the beach starting at the ocean…find yours and do it as often as possible. The outcome will be better decisions, more intentional responses, a clearer pathway to a fulfilling life.
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A Quick Blurb on what this blog is about.
Welcome to my blog! My name is Kerry Siggins and plain speaking, honest leadership is my mantra. My intention is to help those who lead (or want to lead) become better at saying and doing what needs to be said and done in a way that it can be heard and seen, one person at a time.