‘Tis the season for resolutions and goalsetting.
But whether your goals are professional (e.g., increase sales, improve efficiency, develop new technology) or personal (e.g., lose weight, mend relationships, quit smoking), they will be much harder to reach without a plan for getting there.
Aspiring for an outcome is not enough; you must focus on the process for achieving it.
Being specific about who, what, when, where and how to accomplish your goal, and (importantly) writing down these steps in a prominent place, will vastly improve the likelihood of success.
It also helps to identify how you will respond to setbacks and challenges you may face along the way, so you’ll be prepared and not discouraged if things don’t go smoothly.
Finally, enlisting the assistance of an accountability partner (like a co-worker, friend, family member or coach) can make a big difference toward achieving the outcomes you seek.
Best wishes to all for a joyous holiday season and a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous New Year!
Sometimes it feels like you’re on a treadmill.
There are meetings to attend, events to plan, clients to schmooze, emails to write, calls to return, changes to implement, skills to master, employees to manage, documents to review.
Not to mention kids to feed, shopping to do, relatives to visit, chores to tackle, birthdays to celebrate, games to attend, bills to pay, carpools to drive.
And the list goes on and on.
While it won’t eliminate any of these tasks, research suggests that adopting a regular gratitude practice will make you happier, which in turn leads to greater productivity.
It is in this context that I invite you to:
1) Stop what you’re doing.
2) Take a moment to notice your surroundings, the little everyday things that typically escape your attention – the sights, sounds and smells that are in the periphery, or the people that you come across who usually fade into the background, or the minor events that may seem trivial.
3) Appreciate how each of these things impacts your life.
Try this daily for one week, and please share your feedback.
Did you ever notice how some people are quick to judge and find fault in someone else when they themselves exhibit the exact same (or worse) behavior or attribute that they criticize?
Projection is one of several defense mechanisms that individuals deploy to protect themselves from traits or desires that they find too difficult to acknowledge in the mirror, or to avoid admitting mistakes.
It is psychologically easier to point the finger outward, but the keys to mental health and emotional well-being are rooted in self-discovery.
As coaches, we often use open-ended questions to help facilitate this process with clients, such as:
The journey inward can be scary, difficult and confusing, which is why so many people avoid doing it, sometimes for their entire lives.
But it is a journey worth taking, since on the other side lies happiness and inner peace, and in some cases, total transformation.
“The bravest journey is the journey inward.” - Shannon Algeo
Several years ago, former Boston Celtics head coach, Brad Stevens, was tasked with writing his then 9-year-old daughter a letter in connection with the Leaders & Daughters initiative sponsored by global executive search firm, Egon Zehnder.
The theme of his advice to her was profound and timeless, and also applicable to a much wider audience:
“Be a great teammate.”
With any luck, you’ve had the good fortune to experience this firsthand – on a sports team, at a job, in a rock band, or as a member of a dance ensemble or theatrical cast.
Great teammates energize and lift the collective spirit of the group.
They show compassion and listen attentively.
They give of themselves and bring out the best in others.
They are selfless, gracious and kind.
And the best part?
Anyone can be a great teammate, regardless of their title, athletic ability, intellectual horsepower or creative talents.
Great leadership starts with being a great teammate.
How you choose to “show up” on a team will largely determine the extent of your influence and the value you bring to the group, and thus it is a significant contributor to future success.
A story is told about a grandfather teaching his grandson about life:
“A fight is going on inside me,” the old man said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Which wolf will win?”
The grandfather simply replied, “The one you feed.”
The moral of this story is that with the proper intention and attention, we all have the power to determine how we respond to our individual circumstances.
In reality, the choice isn’t always binary.
In fact, there is another version of this parable that ends instead with the following reply from the grandfather: “If you feed them right, they both win.”
By acknowledging both “wolves” and working through this inner conflict with self-awareness and self-compassion, you can choose the elements of each that serve you best in every situation.
My former colleagues will surely recognize this week’s post since it’s been one of my personal mantras for many years.
The imperative is twofold: to overcome procrastination and to avoid any inclination to skimp on quality or effort.
Are you putting off having that difficult conversation with a coworker?
Have you caught yourself scrolling through social media instead of responding to that important email?
Are you tempted to “phone it in” for your contribution to that group project?
Have you set an exercise goal but find yourself watching “just one more episode” of your favorite series on Netflix?
This simple expression will kickstart your brain into action mode and, at the same time, send a signal that you are expecting a high standard for yourself.
Particularly at present, when many of you are working remotely without the physical presence of supervisors or colleagues to support your efforts in person, it’s especially helpful to train the voice inside your head to provide words of encouragement and inspiration whenever possible.
Want to make this mantra stick? (Pun intended. Read on.)
Write it on Post-it notes and place them around your home or office as a reminder of your commitment to a more motivated you.
What do you do when someone (whether a significant other, family member, friend or colleague) comes to you with a problem?
If you’re like me, your first instinct is probably to offer a solution.
However, in many instances, the more appropriate response is to support the person, not solve the problem.
Often their interests may best be served by simply providing a space to vent, a sympathetic ear or a friendly shoulder.
Other times, the most helpful thing is to give them a slight nudge in a different direction, fill in a missing piece of the puzzle, connect them with a useful resource or ask astute questions to generate an insight that changes their thinking.
By taking this approach, you encourage self-reliance and promote self-esteem, and also model behavior that they, in turn, can use with others, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of confidence and empowerment.
Consider the old adage, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Recognizing when to support and when to solve takes empathy – the ability to understand someone else’s perspective and to appreciate that their thoughts, feelings and needs may be different than your own.
September is a month of change: school is back in session, the days become noticeably shorter and the weather a little cooler, the leaves begin to turn colors as summer gives way to autumn.
Meanwhile, macro trends and historical norms are being upended around the globe, including in health, climate, law, politics, finance and technology, among others.
All these things occur whether we want them to or not.
In his bestselling book, Who Moved My Cheese, author Spencer Johnson introduces us to four characters who each react differently to their changing environment.
Among the many lessons in this timeless, light-hearted classic (a worthwhile read if you haven’t already), we learn that change is indeed inevitable, and that we all have the power to choose how to respond.
For those willing to embrace change with curiosity and courage, opportunities abound: to challenge, educate, enhance, resolve, rethink, retool, revise.
When faced with a constantly shifting “maze” in business and life, you too can find new “cheese” by choosing a path of growth; that is, by visualizing a different future and overcoming your fear of the uncertainty that lies ahead.
"Change is inevitable. Growth is option." - John C. Maxwell