Monthly Archives: April 2011

a moment of inspiration

Sometimes it takes a moment to inspiration to change a day.   What do you want to do with your day?

It takes just a few minutes to be a hero, to act courageously and make a difference.

What difference do you want to make today? 

“All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.”
Adlai E. Stevenson

do optimists lead a better life?

“The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Do you look at each day as  day filled with hope a possibility?

Research has shown that optimists tend to be more successful than pessimists.  What do you to think you are, and optimist or a pessimist?   Find out … here!

The pessimist may find themselves suffering more than an optimist as well. 

The optimist tends to enjoy a better life in many aspects.  Optimism has shown to improve the bodies ability to fight off disease.  Studies also reveal that life longevity is also better for optimists.

Students that stress over school would achieve greater success if they shifted their thoughts towards optimism.   That being said, many college graduates are optimistic about their future and are deciding that happiness may be more important than success.

Pessimism may come about from feelings of helplessness, the feeling that nothing can be done.  The optimist would come from a point of view of hopefulness.  

What do you think, is the glass half full or not?

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”   – Helen Keller

the high cost of stress

” In today’s 24/7 society, work frequently intrudes in to employee’s personal lives during evenings, weekends, vacations and holidays. In fact, 83 percent of email users admit to checking their email daily while on vacation. Increasing work demands on employees have a significant impact on employers too — job stress costs U.S. businesses an estimated $300 billion per year through absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and direct medical, legal and insurance fees.”  APA

Some stress related facts:

Layoffs:  Research in the U.S. has found that workplace injuries and accidents tend to increase in organizations that are being downsized.

Workforce disengagement: Common job stressors such as perceived low rewards, a hostile work environment, and long hours can also accelerate the onset of heart disease, including the likelihood of heart attacks. This is particularly true for blue-collar and manual workers. Studies suggest that because these employees tend to have little control over their work environments, they are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those in traditional “white collar” jobs.

Continued work stress can lead to:  Burnout can lead to depression, which, in turn, has been linked to a variety of other health concerns such as heart disease and stroke, obesity and eating disorders, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Chronic depression also reduces your immunity to other types of illnesses, and can even contribute to premature death.

Source: APA

There is little doubt that the pace of our world today is driving up the rate of stress.  More workers out of work since the great depression and while things are slowly improving many people are underemployed or have given up even looking for work.   Unemployment only reports active cases, so unemployment while it may look like 9-10% is likely to be much higher.

Globalization continues to drive down costs in some economic sectors creating additional stress for those workers.

For some people jumping ship and creating a new career path is stressful considering the high cost of changing careers.   Some people will ride out their current career path until those jobs have been eliminated before deciding on their next course of action.

For some people it is the stress of getting a job and for others it is trying to find time for all the other things that should be part of the life package and that causes stress.  Perhaps it is having enough time for family and work crowds out those vital once in a lifetime experiences.  What is causing you the most stress?

What would you change if you could?

what is workplace engagement?

“All we achieve and all that we fail to achieve is the direct result of our own thoughts. We are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen

It wasn’t very long ago that I was talking to someone who was concerned about the wellbeing of their fellow employees.   A manager was using a vocabulary more suited for the bilges of a Navy ship to motivate those working for him.   Years ago the management model for encouraging people was the carrot and the stick.  For this unenlightened manager the stick was the tool he pulled out of his toolbelt.   The result, employees were “slowing” down being less attentive, and being less quality focused.   Management expects employees to do their best and produce only high quality goods and they will when they are encouraged to participate in the process.   When employees are ridiculed and disempowered they subtly disengage from the work process.   Sure there is movement, there are products ready to be shipped but the craftsmanship may be missing. What is it like at your place of work?   Empowering and engaging?

When a negative spiral starts it can spin out of control.  Each demand met with less engagement.  Employees may fear losing their job, manager’s fear losing the entire business.   As the fear increases workplace productivity decreases, orders diminish and a cycle that is hard to stop spins a bit faster each day … unless a change is made.

Stopping the spin … takes an act of courage and humility.

Seeing the results spin out of control is not a fun thing to watch.   For those running on a very tight budget every loss or poor quality product produced eats into the small margin of profit.   To regain control it requires those who are feeling the greatest impact of poor quality to step back and ask the question,”What are we doing to decrease quality?”, not from the production worker perspective but from the management layer.   What is happening that is causing people to disengage from work?   What is being said?   How is what is being said being interpreted?   How much fear is there?

When an organization shifts into a “victim” level of thinking (everything is everyone else’s fault) there is bound to be problems.    There must be  fundamental shift in thinking from negative to positive.  Anger has to shift to forgiveness.  Victim level thinking needs to move to opportunity, creating win/win outcomes at all levels of the organization.

What kind of organization do you work for?   What kind of messages are being sent to the employees?   What are you empowered to do?   What is your engagement level?

“The vision is really about empowering workers, giving them all the information about what’s going on so they can do a lot more than they’ve done in the past.” Bill Gates

what are you waiting for …

“It is only through work and strife that either nation or individual moves on to greatness. The great man is always the man of mighty effort, and usually the man whom grinding need has trained to mighty effort.”
Theodore Roosevelt, April 27, 1900

Are you planning for your next career?   When do you think you’ll start planning and learning about your next career?

The might economic upheaval from the past couple of years should have taught American workers that stability and long-term employment at anyone company is largely a myth.   The predicted changes in the global economy are bearing fully on many of the working class.   Many of those in the working class have found that there are no jobs for the skills they have and that the skills they do have are not readily transferable to other careers.

The demand for lower prices is causing a shift away from American shores to countries where labor prices are low and where workers are highly skilled. 

So, what does one do when they are displaced by economic and technological factors?  

In today’s world the best bet is to find areas where there is positive economic growth and seek training and employment in those areas that match your talents and strengths.   Don’t assume that because you made a shift to a new career field that it will be long lasting.   Assume that you will need to retrain yourself for another career.   It won’t be easy to balance all of life and then focus on increasing your value by seeking out where technology and the jobs are going.

High rates of growth will be experienced in

1. Elder care

2. Health care

3. Green technologies

 New service industries are likely to sprout up as a number of people are shifting from traditional employment to self-employment.   Contract employment will increase reducing a large financial burden from employers (medical costs, and others) and fundamentally reshape employment as we know it.  

To keep pace in this new economy:

1. Keep abreast of what is happening in the job markets.

2. Prepare for you next career

3. Start now, don’t wait.  Pay for your own education.

4. Keep adding value in whatever you do.

5. Be flexible

6. Add continuous career development to your life

change positively change

“Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go, be what you want to be — because you only have one life and one chance to do all the things that you want to do.”

Britta Fiksdal  
Do you follow the crowd or does the crowd follow you?    For many people staying in the crowd provides a great deal of safety.    There are many people who would like to change but the fear of taking action to create change is too scary.
Barry Posner and James Kouzes wrote,  ” Challenge is the opportunity for greatness. People do their best when there is an opportunity to change how things currently stand. Maintaining the status quo facilitates mediocrity. Those who embrace this practice do not wish to rest on their laurels. They motivate others to exceed their limits and look for innovative ways to improve the organization. “
In a crowd there is a sense of safety and that is one of the most significant contributors to change resistance.   What happens when you are not in the comfort of the crowd?     It takes a high degree of confidence to step out of the crowd and go off on your own.   Personal change requires personal courage.
What are you doing to cultivate personal change?

 James Kotter a change expert provides eight steps for organizational change, see if they work on an individual level as well.

1. Create a sense of urgency.   (Now is the time)

2. Form a powerful coalition.  (As an individual speak with others about your own personal desire for change, or work with a coach to increase the energy around making a change)

3. Create a vision (What is it that you really want?   Create a picture of what change you desire to make).

4. Communicate your vision (Share your vision with others, keep building up the story, believe in the vision).

5. Find out what is stopping you.   (If change were easy people wouldn’t be following the crowd.  Find out what is blocking you from stepping out and taking positive action).

6. Stair step the process.   (Start small, and win small wins.  Then with confidence of success with you start building up on the small wins and creating more significant goals.  Celebrate success)

7. Build on the momentum.   (Once good success deserves another)

8. Make it stick.  (Habits are hard to change … make it positive, make it fun and make it happen … if things slide back go back to the small wins and build up again.   Keep on the positive side).

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”
Chinese Proverb

new age of work … the woman’s world


“Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they’re looking for ideas.”  ~Paula Poundstone

The waves of change are showing up in the demographics of work.

In a recent TED presentation Hannah Rosin explains a trend that is more than just emerging in the world of work.  Women are beginning to dominate work.

Tom Peter’s has predicted for years that rise of women in the new economy was just a matter of time.   A recent Atlantic Monthly (July-Aug 2010) article describes the shift that is occuring in the world of work.

“The End of Men: How Women Are Taking Control—Of Everything”
Opening lines/précis:

“Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, post-industrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now underway—and its vast cultural consequences.”

“Man has been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But for the first time in human history, that is changing—and with shocking speed.”

[There are examples from around the world not just U.S. In the likes of Korea, desire for a child to be a girl is soaring.] [In the USA, efforts to improve the odds of conceiving a girl rather than a boy are now commonplace.]

“As thinking and communicating have come to eclipse physical strength and stamina as the keys to economic success, those societies that take advantage of the talents of all their adults, not just half of them, have pulled away from the rest.”

“The evidence is all around you [e.g.] in the wreckage of the Great Recession, in which three-quarters of the eight million jobs lost were lost by men. The worst-hit industries were overwhelmingly male and deeply identified with macho: construction, manufacturing, high finance.”

“Of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most in the next decade in the U.S., all but two are occupied primarily by women.”

“Women hold 51.4% of managerial and professional jobs—up from 26.1% in 1980. … In 1970, women contributed 2 to 6 percent of the family income. Now the typical working wife brings home 42.2%—and four in 10 mothers are the primary breadwinners in their family.”

“What’s clear is that schools, like the economy, now value the self-control, focus and verbal aptitude that seem to come more easily to young girls.”

“Increasing numbers of women—unable to find men with similar income and education—are forgoing marriage altogether. In 1970, 84% of women ages 30 to 44 were married; now 60% are.”

The new economy which is more “service” oriented rather than brute labor based is well suited for the characteristics that women bring to the workforce.   Women are natural networkers, and connectors which are critical skills to have.  Management concepts from the 1800’s are now giving way to more powerful forms of leadership.  

Communication, collaboration, listening and understanding – greater skills in connecting, will those be the lingua franca of this new age?  What do you think?