Are your results being impacted by an infectious disease? Science has proven that attitudes are literally catching like a virus. We live in a society where avoiding responsibility (non-responsibility) and placing blame is deeply rooted in our culture. Do you allow your mood to be determined by how others treat you? Do you feel others cause you to be offended or frustrated. If you do, you are probably infected with the highly contagious blame disease.
Blaming is often associated with strong emotional feelings. Author Daniel Goleman writes, “…emotions are contagious. We ‘catch’ strong emotions much as we do a rhinovirus – and so can come down with the emotional equivalent of a cold.” (Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence) American Psychiatrist, Daniel Stern, says our minds are continually interacting through a type of neural WiFi. (Daniel Stern, The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life, 2004, p. 76) Parents blame teachers for low test scores, teachers blame parents for unruly children, employees blame their bosses when work gets too hard, and citizens blame the government for their economic woes and more.
When we think our problems are externally caused, it reduces our power! It causes us to focus on who to blame rather than on finding a solution and changing our circumstances. If we believe our problems are external, then we are at the mercy of those external conditions. For some people this is convenient. It gives them a ready made excuse when things go wrong. Taking personal responsibility is a much more difficult doctrine. True, some circumstances are beyond our control. I will discuss how to approach those in future articles. Let’s inoculate you from the blame virus.
Do you ever struggle with all you are required to do, balancing life and career? When things are overwhelming, you start to create patterned responses or habits of thought and behavior that can hold you back in effectively fulfilling your duties. The mind rebels and wants to keep you safe in a comfort zone. It gives in to fear and doubt, it deletes, distorts and simplifies information. When this happens it limits your ability to respond effectively, or to change your approach if necessary.
Put another way, our ability to think clearly is diminished under pressure. The brain will revert to behavior that is most comfortable. Some of you may become belligerent and aggressive. Others can’t stop talking and may become sarcastic. Others avoid conflict and procrastinate. Some become obstinate as their need to be right causes them to dig their heels in. These patterned responses may show up unexpectedly and at/or inconvenient times. Some of your patterned responses have been developed over a life time and are very strong.
The first step in taking more responsibility and control over your patterned responses is to identify your behavioral traits. The increased awareness will help you begin to make better choices. Take a few moments to complete a quality behavioral assessment of your choice. Or I invite you to complete ProScan, one of the best behavioral surveys available click here. The first one is my gift to you. To take this assessment, you must be willing to review the results with me. This allows us to discuss some ways you can reject your patterned responses which may be holding you back.
How Living Your Values Increases Happiness & Power
The first step to taking 100% responsibility for the outcomes in your life is to get clear about what is important to you. What do you value? Values represent our guiding principles, our broadest motivations. They are the attitudes and ideas we hold that influence how we act. This applies to individuals, organizations and societies. I used to think identifying values was just a good idea. Then I learned the power created when behavior is truly aligned with what we say we want. When we make time for the things we identify as most important, our satisfaction expands.
There are many kinds of values. To keep things simple I will mention two: Core Values and Aspirational Values. Unlike belief systems, which must be regularly examined and updated, core values must remain constant if they are to be an effective tool. For example, the northern star is valuable to navigators because it remains consistently fixed in the heavens. It is a tool that provides accurate direction when needed no matter where the person is located; it is a constant in a world full of variables.
Aspirational values are those behaviors, attitudes and characteristics that you are working towards. The distinction is important because of the impact on engagement. If you were to state innovation as a core value and your policies and the behavior of leadership do not reinforce or support this value, you will create cynicism and disengagement. You may reduce innovation because your most innovative employees may leave. However, if you state this as an aspirational value, you are more honest about the need to be more innovative. It will not create a false expectation that can come back to haunt you.
Companies spend a great deal of time and money defining values that are important to them. The challenge seems to be; behaving in harmony with those values. I have experienced first hand how making decisions and behaving in alignment with your stated values improves personal and employee satisfaction. Just as important, it improves efficiency and productivity. Not only is behaving in alignment with your stated values the right thing to do, it will benefit your bottom line. Following the constant guidance of positive values will lead you inexorably to the situation and outcome you desire.
Here are some ways to identify your values:
What drives you crazy– Take a moment to identify what drives you crazy. Think about the opposite of that and you will identify what you value.
A PEAK Experience –Think of a time in your life when you were excited, happy or fulfilled- Tell the story to someone and ask them to help you identify what you valued about those experiences.
Suppressed Values – Things you long for but are not getting. (I love to be out in nature.)
Invisible Values – These values are honored naturally, you do not think about them. Quirks (Have to have the pillows straight) Hugh Grant movies make me squirm. I don’t like to look foolish or stupid. I value being competent polished, etc.
Must Haves – Look at what you must have in your life beyond food, shelter, and community.
Obsessive Expression – Do you insist on honoring a value as a demand. Look for places you take a value to extreme. (The need to be right, to be in control, to avoid conflict at all cost, resistance to being managed or following rules, the need to work hard, focus on problems, worry, unrealistic expectations, overly sensitive to being embarrassed, thinking about what you will say vs. listening, compulsive need to be heard, needing to be liked, fear of rejection, indecisive, overly agreeable, deferring, overly skeptical, slow to trust, over planning, perfectionism, inflexible, constant need for variety, enjoying interruptions, need for autonomy and independence and more.) These can hold you back.
Your Future Self – Think about who you wish to become or who you are becoming.
Identify and take responsibility for the things that are most important to you. How does this give you power? When you allow life to happen to you, you take what comes. Your schedule is at the mercy of others and it will fill up with trivial activities and interruptions. I hear my clients say from time to time: “I am too busy…to exercise, or to socialize, or to enjoy some quiet time!” Make time for the things you value most. It will energize you, it will force you to be more efficient and effective. You will begin to take back power over your life. YOU get to decide where you will spend your time and energy. If family is important, schedule time for them. If work, making money, exercise and sports, family, friends, church, etc. are important to you, schedule time in your week for them. Schedule time with the people that are important to you.
Dr. Daniel Amen who is a brain disorder specialist who wrote “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.” He says that we harness our brain’s power when we give it direction and vision. Having a purpose in your life aligned with your values gives you power. As you look back at your days and weeks and you have made time for the most important things in your life, you will have a sense of satisfaction, happiness and power.
Our purpose is to elevate leaders and help them elevate their teams. We exist to help organizations achieve desired results by transforming people and processes.
We help companies achieve their goals and vision by developing people starting at the top; by improving processes and helping our clients deliver a great service or product.
We help employees love what they do and make a difference. We improve trust, communication, and facilitate healthy conflict.
We help management become proactive versus reactive, by improving hiring practices to attract and keep the best people, and help keep people engaged in a meaningful way. We give management relief, confidence, and enthusiasm for the future.
Why do I teach? I am a teacher at heart. It brings me great fulfillment to help people learn things that will make their lives and businesses better. I love to see when someone makes a shift in behavior after having a clarifying experience.
Teaching is one of the noblest professions. My mother was a teacher. Her students loved her. They came and visited her at home when she was sick. When she missed work, they were happy when she returned. She had an impact. She made learning exciting and fun. Her students wanted to learn. Maybe that is why I love to learn. I love to help elevate my clients skills and to see their satisfaction and happiness with their results. More importantly, I like to see them develop and elevate their teams.
It is extremely fulfilling to hear someone tell me that something I said had a big impact on them and they chose to change because of that. I have clients tell me that employees enjoy my workshops and they are excited to learn and they are engaged in my workshops. I believe in creating an environment where learners are inspired to apply what they learn to transform their performance. This is my why.
One of the problems I see with leaders is they solve too many problems. Wait…you just said this article is about solving MORE problems, not that I am solving too many! That is right. Sometimes we get so solution oriented, and so bottom-line obsessed, we actually make more work for ourselves. You may be sabotaging your ability to be productive when your team members come to rely on your genius and acumen instead of developing their own. They pass the ball to you to make the game winning shot because they have confidence in you and also, because they lack confidence in themselves.
Many managers I know are overwhelmed with day-to-day responsibilities. They spend much of their time fighting fires or going from one crisis to the next. When they do spend the time to plan, they rarely implement those plans; instead they go hastily back to their frenetic problem solving ways. Worse, they spend very little time developing the capacity of their teams. They may abdicate employee development to HR or a training course. It is time to get off the hamster wheel of crisis management! To become more productive and efficient, start investing time to develop the skills and abilities of your team members.
One of the most important tasks of leadership is to elevate the leadership capacity and problem solving skills of our teams. Managers may intellectually understand this is true, however, the following may be some reasons they don’t change:
Managers are addicted to being needed:
There is something satisfying about being the “go to person”. Some managers believe that making themselves indispensable may provide job security.
Managers don’t know better:
They have been taught their whole life to take action. They have been told what to do by parents, teachers, coaches, professors, military leaders, past bosses and more. They may have learned habits of tell and do. Because telling or dictating is a poor way to get people to act, employees of today may fall short of the “dictator’s” expectations. This reinforces the manager’s belief that his people are incapable and perpetuates a vicious cycle.
Lack of trust:
When manager’s lack trust in the ability of direct reports to solve problems or take on greater responsibility, they actually stunt their employee’s growth. This leads to only assigning tasks they are “certain” they can handle. I believe people can accomplish much more than we give them credit for. By not challenging our people, we ensure their dependence on us and keep ourselves on the hamster week. I discuss the importance of giving your people stretch assignments in How To Prepare Your Next Generation of Leaders. Giving your team members opportunities to grow means getting out of your comfort zone and their comfort zone. Let me give you an example: My son’s both play volleyball for their high school. One plays varsity and one Jr. varsity. The Jr. Varsity coach has begun a rotation only relying on a few starters. In practice, he only focuses on starters. In tough games, only this group plays and they get tired after a while and make mistakes. However, since the coach does not have confidence in the ability of the other players, he only plays the same few. While this groups ability increases, the ability of the rest of the team begins to atrophy’. The coach’s dependence on the group of starters actually increases his dependence on them. At first this is great for the starters. But they soon feel tremendous pressure to perform and with very little respite, their performance begins to diminish.
Managers may be controlling in how they want things done. When team members are given authority to solve problems on their own, they may take a different approach than the manager.
Confused good boss syndrome:
Some manager’s may actually think they are being kind by bailing their team members out. They may shoulder more work thinking they are protecting their team.
Managers are busy:
They think they don’t have the time to invest in their people. They hope they figure it out on their own. After all, isn’t that what you did? What worked for you and your generation, will probably not work today. There are to many options for our employees. If they do not get what they need and want from you, they can easily get it somewhere else. The revolving door of employees adds to the lack of time managers have to train and develop. Hiring new employees takes a lot of time. Not to mention the extra work required filling the vacancies of employees who quit or were terminated.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, one reason some managers don’t elevate, develop and encourage some of their top performers is to keep them on the team. It is called talent hoarding. This natural tendency to hold on to top performers will back fire and hurt the business. If these employees are not given an opportunity to grow and develop with you, they will go somewhere else. You will be forced to replace them.
Whatever the reason you are not developing your team, stop it. You will only disengage your employees. People usually perform to the level of expectation. If your expectations are low, they are probably being met, though not to your satisfaction. You then will probably shoulder more responsibility until you become at least frustrated, or worse, exhausted and burned out. And finally you may take drastic measures like quit, or fire the people you feel are making your life miserable.
I am convinced the employees we hire do not take a job hoping they will be underutilized and hoping they will underperform. They join us with hopes and expectations of learning and growing and contributing. Here are some ways to help you enable your team members to be productive:
Believe they can do more:
Always believe in the potential of your employees. You just have to figure out how to enable their potential. That comes from taking personal responsibility for their development and not blaming them for your failure to support and train them.
Refuse to solve every problem your employees encounter:
When they come to you asking for help, ask them to come up with at least two ideas for how they would handle it. You may be surprised with the solutions they find. If the solutions are not good, give encouraging feedback. This is how they learn. Repeat the process often.
This is an effective process when stakes are high and margin for error is small. Take opportunities to work on problems together. Make sure you give your employees space in these sessions to come up with ideas. Discuss the merits of ideas and come to a decision together.
Praise your team members for their efforts:
Let them know when they do well. Make sure they are not just hearing from you when they make a mistake. When you encourage them for initiative and perseverance, you will get more of that behavior.
Be willing to let your people fail:
People often learn the most from failure. If you trust your people are doing their very best, you know they do not purposely want to create problems.
Take a close look at how you may be contributing to the problem:
The culture of your team enables the results you are achieving. The culture of your team is a reflection of your leadership. Be willing to work on yourself. Learn how you may be getting in your own way as a leader. Learn how to ask better questions that engage and encourage versus being a teller or dictator. Learn how to create an environment of trust where people work to solve problems, go the extra mile and help each other out.
Make time to teach them:
In addition to your coaching and instruction, give them opportunities to develop their skills and talents through in house and external training programs.
The investment of time you make in developing your team will come back to you. You will see your direct reports shouldering more and more of the responsibility you now carry. As they do this, your trust in them will increase. As you give them more responsibility, their capabilities will grow. The only way for you to grow is to help others grow. As that happens, the ability of the team to get stuff done increases. What if one of the people you develop does so well, they get promoted off the team? Be happy for them. Change is part of life. Train their replacement and become known for the leader who elevates and develops other leaders.
The cries of “my mommy beats me!” could be heard throughout the student-housing complex. The mother of the shrieking three year old was hoping in vain that none of the neighbors heard. She didn’t want to get a call from child protective services. If you didn’t know what was really happening, you might be tempted to call the authorities yourself. However, on this fall morning while I was in classes at the University of Utah, my wife had taken our only child at the time shopping. Upon arriving home there was a challenge given and accepted to see who could get from the car to the apartment first. My wife, wanted to teach our child to give her best effort, so she pushed out in front as the race ensued. Then came the words famous in our family lore, “my mommy beats me!”
The spirit of competition started early in our family of seven, when we play games, you play to win. There is no whining if you lose. You give your best effort to win. Someone usually is upset in these situations. I suspect we are not unique in teaching our kids to compete. All of my children have played sports. Each coach seems to focus on winning above all else. Both my sons play on a winning volleyball team at their school. Their team has a reputation for winning. As a result, many people cheer against them. They have learned to embrace the battle of competition. We all have. We learn that we have to compete to get in the best classes in high school. We learn we have to compete to be accepted to the best universities and to earn scholarships. We learn we have to compete to get the best jobs. We learn we have to compete against the competition in business.
I had been raised with this competitive mindset. In my career, I wanted to excel and be the leader. In sales, I wanted to be the best and highest producer. I would even get upset if others “beat me.” I would congratulate my competitor and seem happy for them, but inside, I was not happy. Because of my competitive nature, I found myself upset at losing. I would often compare myself to others. If I learned from their success, this could be positive. However, often, I would compare myself to others in an unhealthy way. My focus on beating them actually caused me to have less success. It would seem that the harder I pushed, the harder it was to succeed.
I know I am not the only one to have had these feelings. Just yesterday, I was having a discussion with a competitor of mine. He was telling me how one of his business partners had a plan to go after one of the biggest competitors in our industry. He wanted to undercut their pricing and steal all their customers. His motivation was to beat his opponent. This zero-sum (win/lose) mentality drains our energy, creativity and happiness. It is a poor long-term strategy in business. I have worked hard to overcome my zero-sum mentality. It is difficult when so much of our culture is focused on winning at someone else’s expense. The pull to win can be so strong that some are willing to cheat or do unethical things to win. It is not uncommon for kids to cheat in school or college because they are more focused on getting the best grade instead of increasing their own knowledge.
We are just wrapping up March Madness in the United States. We now have 4 college basketball teams who have defeated 60 other teams. Only one will be the champion. If you do not support one of those four schools, you may find yourself unmotivated to watch, you may even be cheering for a team to lose. I find myself often cheering for the underdog.
What I am learning, is that in business, there is room for more than one champion. In my business, I truly have a tremendous amount of competition. There are ten’s of thousands of coaches and business consultants in the world. When I was asked how I compared to my competitors, I used to outline all the ways we differed. I focused on what they did and what we do. Some of my competitors are really talented and effective. Focusing on why we are better doesn’t create loyal high paying customers. It seems to create more people who want to prove they are better than you. Simon Sinek argues that people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it. (Start With Why)
Today, I don’t mind talking about the strengths of my competitors. When I am asked about the differences. I focus on our purpose and our strengths. I no longer choose to compete against others or compare myself to them. Instead, I am competing with myself to constantly UP my skills and talents. In other words, I beat myself…UP. When people ask why they should hire us, I answer: We will do our absolute best to elevate and lift your team to be more effective. We will constantly strive to improve how we serve and support you.
Since making this shift, my confidence has increased. People are more willing to support us and help in our mission. I am more satisfied and happy in my work. I am focused on lifting, inspiring an elevating others instead of beating them. The only person I have to beat is myself.
Throw Your Good Intentions Out With The Trash And Focus On Your Impact
I became interested in emotional intelligence because I wanted to understand how I could be more effective at creating positive relationships for better results in my business and personal life. I wanted to be more aware of the ways I was sabotaging my own success and why my good intentions didn’t always have my desired impact. I was proud of the fact that I was goal oriented and really good at getting stuff done. However, I rarely got it all done, all by myself. We need teams, at school, at work, in our families, and in our communities.
Teams exist to produce results. The most successful teams are able to produce results again and again. In order for productivity to be sustainable, there has to be a positive environment, or climate. Dr. John Gottman researched the dynamic of what makes sustainable relationships work – romantic or business. The most effective relationships contribute positivity more than negativity by 5 to 1.
Despite considerable evidence of the benefits, contributing positivity is still a problem with most organizations today. I know many well-meaning leaders who have intentions to contribute and foster positivity. Yet, how many of us continue to have an impact we do not intend? We expect a certain outcome from a decision, action or conversation but we seem to trip over ourselves again and again? I have been married for over 30 years and executive for over 25 years. In that time I noticed recurring behavior patterns in myself and others I worked with that were getting in our way. I noticed that my need to be in control was not as empowering as needed for my employees, wife and children. My personality traits caused me to yield to triggers in certain circumstances and I would become defensive.
When I was fist married, my lovely wife offered to iron my shirts. I gave her negative feedback about her efforts. The impact was that I ironed my shirts for the last 30 years. Five years ago she offered to do it again, but because we have created a habit – I just do it. I realized that despite my good intentions, my behavioral tendencies developed over a lifetime where difficult to change. At some point in my years of marriage and work relationships, my intentions stopped mattering. People do not pay attention to my intentions. They pay attention to my impact, how I make them feel, how I inspire, engage or motivate them. Ultimately each of us is individually responsible for the results we have in our businesses and relationships. If our results are not good, if our teams are not engaged and performing, whom can we blame? As leaders, we have to take personal responsibility for our personal results and our team results.
Maintaining positivity becomes problematic when you are under pressure and dealing with challenging situations. In the next several weeks, it is probable that you will experience pressure and frustration. When that happens, your good intentions take a back seat to your habits. Think of the benefits to you to be able to change your patterned responses to achieve better results. If, like me, you want to become the leader your team wants to follow and the person or parent your family loves to be with – START TODAY. If you have already started, keep going. Just get a little better today than yesterday. If you have a bad day and your impact does not match your intentions, start again tomorrow. It is worth the effort.
Many business leaders are frustrated in fulfilling their succession plans. They perceive a lack of energy and voracity demonstrated by their designated successors. This perceived lack of motivation probably isn’t so much a demonstration of disinterest, but rather an illustration of limited developmental opportunities. How can we bridge this gap? The best way to develop successors is with stretch assignments. Learning through struggle and confidence building exercises will encourage the development of key skills and capabilities required to demonstrate their leadership readiness. By following the suggestions listed below, leaders can effectively stretch, develop and prepare their team to continue the leader’s’ legacy with confidence.
Step 1: Identifying shortcomings:
There are two kinds of shortcomings you need to assess: 1) Individual skills gaps, and 2) organizational requirements. Development opportunities will illustrate a mix of organizational requirements (the company needs ‘X’ project to be done), and individual requirements (the individual needs to build/develop/practice ‘X’ skills required by this task to personally achieve new levels of performance.) Optimal organizational development opportunities might include shorter-term, high intensity projects that spawn into long-term impacts. Additionally, these tasks should allow for the individual to exercise authoritative/collaborative decision-making, and perform strategic decision making skills while working visibly with other key players.
Step 2: Provide tools, resources and basic instructions:
Discuss the stretch assignment with your team/employee. Be sure to illuminate the opportunity to “see what you’re made of” to both internal leadership and external customers. Describe the impact of the end product – what is your vision for accomplishing this task? Then, provide the tools, resources and basic requirements to the individual/team to get things done.
Step 3: Empower through delegated authority and accountability:
When providing a “stretch assignment”, it’s critically important that leaders enable the individuals to make their own decisions/assessments. As they are held accountable for their actions, the struggle and strife will help long-term learning occur.
Step 4: Step Back:
Although your leadership engagement throughout the process will be available, it should only be available from a mentor perspective – when requested, and even then – in a coaching, not consulting, capacity. When asked for help, leaders can provide strategic considerations, understanding consequences, and seeing second and third degree influences of actions while reaffirming the project vision. Ultimately, the goal throughout this assignment is autonomy – empowering people to step-up, take action, and figure things out by themselves. This may be challenging for highly involved managers, but the autonomy, authority, accountability and empowerment throughout this process will enable employees to truly demonstrate and stretch their skill sets while fulfilling an organizational need in the process.
Step 5: Celebrate the struggle, success and achievement:
Following completion of key project milestones or the final assignment deliverables, positive feedback on successes is critical. During challenging assignments, praise the perseverance and determination to overcome. Celebrate the successes to reinforce those skills that were demonstrated through the endeavor. Share this achievement with others to encourage additional positive reinforcement. This positive reinforcement solidifies the lessons learned through struggle, and further builds confidence that will be applied to follow-on projects.
Although this may sound like all optimism and theory, the actual stretch assignment will likely be a substantial struggle – making or breaking the individual. Failure is most certainly an option – but through careful guidance, encouragement and mentorship together you can create something truly great while building skills and confidence in the process. Why take the risk of failure? Because struggle sparks learning & confidence, further building candidates to fill the role and legacy you left behind. After all, if it was easy, anyone could do it. Is that the legacy you want to leave?
We are two weeks into our resolutions. How are you doing?
If you are like me, we are two of the over 145,000,000 Americans who make resolutions to lose weight (21.4%), self-improve (12.8%), make better financial decisions (8.5%), quit smoking (7.1%), spend more time with loved ones (6.2%), provide more service (5.2%) and more. However, according to a recent survey by Statistic Brain Research Institute, only 9.2% actually achieve them. More than 59% of Americans refuse to make resolutions or make them very infrequently. Why go through all the trouble of setting a goal you probably won’t achieve and then you will probably feel worse about yourself than if you did nothing? If the statistics of how few Americans achieve their goals are accurate, the majority of Americans have a point.
Why then do so may continue with the practice? Perhaps they have experienced the euphoria and enthusiasm of achieving goals as I have. My personal goal setting successes help me to persist. To help those considering capitulating on the opportunity to make a fresh start each year, I want to share what successful resolution and goal setters did that the rest did not. There are several things we can do to help us succeed in our goals. To simplify, I am going to focus on just two: How we set resolutions and behavioral balance.
One of the reasons we fail to achieve goals is how we set them. If you look at the list of resolutions above, what do you notice? Most are broad statements that are hard to define and achieve. What does self-improvement look like? How much more time will you spend with loved ones? Where will that time come from? How much weight will you lose and by when? How much time will you exercise each week? Many goals tend to focus on massive or extreme change. When life gets busy, we quickly lose track and motivation for goals, which no longer seem attainable. With fatigue, our will to pursue goals and resist going back to old habits is eroded.
The key to success is to use our understanding of brain science to set and achieve goals.
1. Simplify your resolutions:
Set a series of smaller specific goals and focus only a few goals. If you set too many and or intangible goals, the brain rebels. Our brains are easily distracted and do not understand how to achieve a vague goal. I had wanted to lose 25 pounds for many years and not been successful. It wasn’t until I broke that bigger goal down into smaller goals that I had success. Last year I set a a smaller specific goal on January 15th to lose ten pounds by March 15th.
2. Focus on behaviors to achieve goal, not just the goal:
Next, I changed my focus from losing the weight to focusing on actions, which cause me to lose weight. The two things I could control were diet and exercise. Everyday, I would measure the calories I consumed. This was very time consuming, and the discipline kept me focused on the actions I could control, which was calorie consumption. I also measured how many calories I burned on a daily basis.
3. Regularly self-evaluate:
With this simple focus, I reviewed each week how I was doing. Resolutions seem overwhelming because we only do them once a year. I would resolve at the start of each week to stick with my plans. Thought leader Brian Tracy suggests you review your goals every day. Greater frequency is needed for success.
4. Reward success:
After a particularly successful week, I would celebrate. I would give myself permission to eat something I enjoyed. I want to achieve my goals and I want to also enjoy life. This kept my brain engaged and motivated to move forward. After two months, I had lost 12 pounds! I was so excited and motivated to lose the next 10 pounds. However, because of my success and over-confidence, I no longer measured my calorie intake to go along with my exercise. The discipline of measuring my calories everyday was hard and time was limited with all my obligations. The result was that I only lost 2 pounds over the next seven months. Returning to the discipline of measuring calorie intake made the difference.
The second key to achieving goal success is finding behavioral balance. Our behavioral temperament can often conspire against us in achieving our goals. Last week I was conducting a communication workshop with employees of an IT services company. Over 50% of employees had what we call a high patience trait. When I asked members of the class what they thought they could do to improve communication, most of them said that they needed to be more assertive. This is a behavior that is difficult for people with high patience.
You may be asking, “What does this have to do with achieving goals?” When these technicians work with co-workers, clients and others who talk too much, they find it difficult to interrupt and get control of the conversation. High patient people find themselves at the mercy of other people who hijack their precious time and they do not want to be perceived as being rude and cut them off. As a result, they feel powerless to control their schedules. Many people with this behavioral tendency have a really hard time saying no. These individuals may become overwhelmed with helping others and run out of time to achieve their commitments. They end up working longer hours and putting their personal goals on the back burner. If you say yes to everyone else, you may be choosing to say no to your goals.
If you can relate to this personality, you can learn to be assertive without being rude. Set expectations around your communications. If someone interrupts you, let him know you really want to listen. However, if the conversation is going to take more than five minutes, you will need to schedule time to talk. This gives you permission to set expectations without being rude. Learn to say no, and you will be so much happier.
Each personality type has behaviors, which may cause self-sabotage and imbalance. This lack of balance makes it hard to achieve our goals. High dominant personalities may delegate responsibility but hold on to authority because they feel the need to be in control at all times. This causes them to be overwhelmed because they are often unwilling to let others have more authority. Some high conforming personalities get out of balance because of their desire for unattainable perfection. The high extroverts get out of balance when they spend too much time socializing. Also, their desire to be liked may cause them to say yes to too many assignments, which leaves them too little time for their own goals.
These are only a very few of behavior tendencies which have the potential to work against your efforts to achieve your goals. If you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself, here are a few suggestions for you.
1. Identify your behavioral preferences:
There are many great behavioral surveys that will help you identify behaviors which may be causing you to be out of balance. I love the ProScan Personal Development Report. It is highly accurate tool, which provides a tremendous amount of information you can immediately put to use. You will become more aware of your behavioral tendencies, which may be helping or hurting you to achieve your goals. Armed with this knowledge, you can make the necessary adjustments.
2. Identify an accountability partner:
Share your behavioral results and goals with someone you trust and respect. Empower them to let you know when your behavioral tendencies are getting in your way. This will help you make needed adjustments more quickly. A coach is a great accountability partner option. Not only can she help understand how you are getting in your way, she will help you identify how to leverage your behavioral strengths to achieve your goals.
Simply change the way you set goals. Make them simple and tangible for a specific time. Then learn how you may be self-sabotaging. Our behavioral tendencies can cause imbalance, which can inhibit our ability to achieve our goals. Learning how to leverage your behavior and partnering with an accountability partner will help. These suggestions will help you achieve your goals in 2017 and every year.
4 Tips To Understanding and Using Perception Science To Be A More Effective Leader
Anyone who has been in leadership knows that people seem to interpret things differently. Even though we all may be looking at a set of facts, have the same knowledge in a situation, they come to different conclusions about how to solve a problem, prioritize, or have different interpretations of what they are actually seeing. Is everyone else just not as experienced or educated to see things the right way? As attractive of a thought as this may be, science points to a different conclusion. In fact, you as a leader are engaging in the same process of those around you, using your own unique filter of perception.
Neurologically, each human brain has been operating off of it’s own virtual reality system through perceptions since the beginning of time. Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment.1 With somewhere around a 100 billions neurons with each having 1000 connections, perceptions are inherently individualized based on nature and nurture factors. The senses do not act like an open highway of unbiased information straight to the decision centers of the brain. Far from it, in fact each input from the environment is reconstructed and relayed through a series of networks before it is sent to the “analytical” part of the brain2
To exemplify this, a study asked 5 people who witnessed a robbery recount the series of events. Each recalled different facts and opinions about the story, and over time these facts and opinions blended and solidified into their own version of the story.3 Thus, each of these 5 people recalled different accounts of events that continued to diverge over time. We reconstruct the memory of the situation based on perceptions and emotions, recounting these situations through those perceptions and frames when prompted.
How can we use this to become a better leader? We have developed the ability to understand complex relationships, and in fact down to the neuron level, have the ability to empathize, giving insight into other’s experiences and a small window into their perceptions.4
Managing perceptions is at the core of emotional intelligence. So, being an emotionally intelligent leader requires you to understand how perceptions work, how your own perceptions bias your judgment, reading your audience’s’ perceptions, and using these inputs to foster an environment that acknowledges differences of opinion and perception but strives for a shared understanding and ultimately a cooperative effort to obtain a desired outcome based off that shared understanding.
1. Understand how perceptions work, and how you can use them:
Perceptions are unique to an individual and can’t be changed through force, mandate, or external correction. The tricky part of perceptions is they make ultimate significance in trying to influence behavior, but it’s nothing you can control, measure, define, or externally manage without it changing 1 minute later. Why? Because perceptions are driven through emotional engagements. Although uncontrollable, perceptions can be influenced over time through experiences, interactions and engagements. Engagements that spawn positive emotions over time will be welcomed, whereas those encounters that solicit fear, pain, frustration and sadness will be approached with corresponding preconceived notions in the future.
2. Know your own perceptions:
Through self-reflection and identification, you can better understand your preconceived notions, and in turn the keys that will drive your own perceptions. Asking the question “Why am I reacting like this” and “why do I feel so strongly about this” can help illustrate those drivers influencing your own perceptions. Through introspection, you’ll likely find a complex, fluid and complicated combination of previous encounters/experiences/emotions and current environmental factors. Chances are, if you have reacted positively to a situation or experience previously, you’ll be predisposed to perceive that situation through a positive frame again. Here is a great tool to help you understand how and why you react the way you do.
3. Reading your team’s perceptions:
Perceptions are unique to individuals, but individual perceptions, expectations and reactions are what create your ever-so-important work culture. Team perceptions can be read through emotional awareness observations, and culture and climate assessments. 360-degree reviews, climate surveys and team assessments can all help to better understand the culture of your team environment. Once you can understand and define your team’s’ current culture and perception climate, you’ll be much better prepared to understand how to cultivate this organizational culture to maximize effectiveness.
4. Using team perceptions to build your culture:
Perceptions can’t be changed, omitted, dictated or controlled… but can be developed and grown through attention to emotional intelligence. By engaging the emotional factors in the human brain, self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation and social skills are trained through practice. The beauty of perceptions after all, is they can be changed, adapted, and developed over time. By leading the emotional intelligence example within your organization, you can demonstrate the culture you want to see, and by gentle encouragement and dedicated attention you can use these perceptions to help drive the organizational changes you want to see.
Humans boast a tremendous amount of neuroplasticity – the ability to learn new things, change perceptions, and adapt thought processes. Focusing attention to develop these skills and perceptions provides the opportunity to influence the culture that drives and motivates your workforce. Dedicating time and attention towards effectively identifying and measuring your team perceptions, culture and climate, can provide one of the most influential tools to developing your organization. In fact, it’s so fundamental that after developing these skillsets to develop your team, you can apply these same lessons towards customers, clients, consumer bases, investors, and external entities. After All, we’re all human, and perceptions don’t just matter, they’re the foundation for decision-making. Learning to overcome these challenges is critical to sustainable success.