Category Archives: Encouragement

when leaders fail to lead

“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”
― Lao Tzu

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Maybe you’ve seen it before, a callous remark by someone who has a role of leadership that says, “I’m more important than you!”.   Maybe you’ve felt those sentiments and asked yourself, “is this the place I want to work at.”   High performance organizations know how to engage the staff and find ways to inspire   their staff so they can excel, does yours?

What kind of organization do you work at?   What do the leaders say to you?  How to they encourage you to be your best?  How do you they encourage you to learn?

There is a distinct difference between leadership and management.  Managing is about getting specific results and in older models people used command and control to get those results.   Today work is far less about being told what to do, and rather more about inspiring people to commit their best.   Some leaders haven’t figured that out yet and believe that leadership is about controlling others.

Companies that enjoy great success often are led by people who inspire and engage all the staff in the company.    Effective leadership is often driven by engaging the positive emotions of the people that are being led.    Positive emotions can be leveraged to create the opportunity for desired change.

When was the last time you spoke with a leader in your organization where you were encouraged to excel?

What does leadership look like in your organization?

Examine your answers.  Determine what kind of organization you work for and what type of leadership is being exhibited.   Observe your emotions over the course of a day, or a week.  What sensations do you have?   How do you feel when you get home?   Energized, drained, indifferent?

One example of a company that is well led is Trilogy Health Care Services.  Take a look at their mission and vision.

In this video clip learn what Bob Davis has to say about leadership and what it takes to lead authentically.

 

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how can you empower your children …

We do live in a crazy world.   We’ve heard far too many stories about the violence in the world, about children being mistreated in some form.     Maybe you’re asking, “What can I do?”.      Jason Nelson has written a new book called “Empower our Children” .    It might be a resource that you can use to look at the world from a different point of view and perhaps challenge your way of thinking as well.    Look at the story and see if there is value for you.   Look at it from the perspective of what you can learn and apply.     What can you do?

 

find self-compassion

“Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance.”  Tara Brach

You spill the cup of coffee you just brewed and it splashes over your clothing leaving a nice brown stain.    What are you saying to yourself?

What do you say to yourself when you don’t meet your expectations, when you are late, when you say something you shouldn’t, when you forget an important meeting, when you oversleep or when you get a speeding ticket? What are you telling yourself?

Many people find that their message to themselves upon any unmet expectation is filled with insults and derision that would never be heard by someone else.   People become their own worst enemy and call themselves names that only reduce their ability to succeed.   Some people believe telling themselves that they are “not good enough” as a way to motivate themselves to better results and often it only yields more of that same message … “you’re not good enough”.   Before long that becomes their internal truth and all they do by yelling at themselves is provide confirmation that they aren’t living up to the world’s standards or their own.    If they are “not good enough” then that means people around them aren’t good enough either and it sours those relationships as well.

What do you tell yourself when you don’t meet your own expectations?

What if you could tell yourself a different message?    You can.   New research is being done in the area of self-compassion.    It might be worth reading about or learning more about.   Practicing self-compassion just means that things can go wrong and that it is OK.

You can change what you tell yourself when things don’t go exactly as planned.   Instead of beating yourself up, try this just say it to yourself:

“This is a moment of suffering.
Suffering is part of my life.
May I be kind to myself in this moment.
May I give myself the compassion I need.”  (From Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff)

Just repeat those lines and practice it for a week.   See if you can notice a difference.   Go ahead every time you are ready to condemn yourself say those lines above instead.

To hear more about self-compassion listen to this video:

 

choices

“I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!”
― Oscar Wilde

You have a choice.

It is that you don’t want to do it, it is just that you don’t do what you want.   Our habits inhibit us from making the choices that allow us to grow and to experience  new things.   Our brains are so intent on staying the same and staying safe that making a choice to change for the better takes a supreme effort and most people are unwilling to choose change over being the same.

Our choices will dictate how we feel about a day, overwhelmed, satisfied or overjoyed.   For some people the day defines their mood, others their mood defines their day.  How do you choose your mood?   Why not be satisfied with an average day?   A day without the tiresome worry of doing more, a day that is filled with just enough, an average day.   What would it take to create an average day rather than a day stuffed with too much activity?  It is a choice.  What do you choose to make important?

Time management is about choices.   Some people are stuck with so much to do that they become depressed.   They seem to be putting all their effort into tasks that are neither important or urgent, it just feels that they are.   People that know how to master their time, focus on doing two things, the important and urgent, and the important and non-urgent tasks.  What do you focus on?

Here’s a simple way to decide what to do, use the ABC rule.   All things that are very important are done first as in if you don’t do them bad things happen, those are “A” choices.  Then there are “B” choices,  good things happen when I do these.  And there is the “C”  choice, these are the, nice to do when you have the time.  Where do people put their time in effort into, the “C” choices, often waiting for bad things to happen before they address those “A” choices, and neglect the “B” choices, the choices they really want to make.

Barry Schwartz (TED) thinks we have too many choices.  What do you think?

It’s too much

“The sheer availability of information… has launched a tsunami of seeking… at the same time, the information glut contributes to pervasive cynicism, fragmentation, and a sense of helplessness. ” Michael J. Gelb

It seems that more and more people are suffering from the effects of “too much”.   “Too much” information, too much work, too much busyness, too much stress, too much …

The “too much” symptoms look a lot like ADHD when you start peeling the onion a bit.    People start losing focus,  are unable to manage time effectively, forget simple things, and generally feel overwhelmed with their world.   The Wall Street Journal just published an article that talks about the fact that many people may be approaching some practical limits of the mind.

Executive function impairment which is thought to be the central issue in ADHD is now impacting a greater part of the population.   Recent ADHD statistics show that ADHD is rising in the population.    With the rapid increase of information (games, TV, video, internet, etc.) the ability for the brain to process all that information is resulting in stress and decreased brain function.

Looking at the ADHD statistics you can see that there is an increase in overall ADHD incidence.    The rate of increase of ADHD could be tied to many factors but one thing that is probably the most pressing is the rate of information growth and information saturation in the lives of young people.

While the appearance of ADHD seems to be growing along with the growth of information it could also be tied to a  linear logical system of education where the creative and physical aspects of education are being eliminated.   When executive memory function starts decreasing there is a rise in negative behaviors in teenagers and young adults.   Finding ways to reduce brain overload is going to be critical as we move towards a more information rich society.

In children executive memory function is increased  by taking time to engage in physical and creative arts.    It is precisely the things that are being pulled out of the education system marginalizing more and more children.  If there was a resurgence of arts and physical activity there would be a wholesale improvement in the education system.

Take this a step further and we see adults being inundated by information and not having the time to take a break from the onslaught of data.    Moving away from strict linear logical work would have great benefits.

What do you do?

1. Take creativity breaks

2. Exercise and increase your oxygen uptake.

3. Work on exercises that focus on short term memory work.

As the influx of information increases the symptoms of ADHD will likely increase as the more right brained thinkers slip under the tide of more information.   The rate of information growth isn’t going to stop it is only going to increase and in order for children and adults to thrive in this new age more focus and more energy should be applied to practicing things that increase the executive memory function.

Paul Saffo noted that, “Point of view” is that quintessentially human solution to information overload, an intuitive process of reducing things to an essential relevant and manageable minimum.  In a world of hyper abundant content, point of view will become the scarcest of resources.”

What do you think?  Are we teetering on the edge of information overload?  Are we damaging the next generation of leaders by removing the arts and physical activity from our education process?   What would you do?

 

it’s your questions

“In fact, the most effective approach is simply to ask questions. We can ignore directives, but questions force us to attend to them. In the corporate world, most of us are so used to being told what to do that when someone asks us what we think we should do, it stops our automatic processing in its tracks.

Rather than telling people, we should ask them, whether it’s deciding how to implement a strategy, setting objectives, or evaluating performance. The effect of a question may not be as stunning as glasses made out of burning cigarettes, but it will activate the brain and get it working the way we need it to.”    Psychology Today

Those two paragraphs that were printed in Psychology Today represent the new model of leadership.   In the past leadership was in many cases more of a request than a question.

Everyone today should be thinking about themselves as a leader and a person who asks questions.   Questions allow the receiver of the question to create (notice “create”) an answer in response.    The old way was “request” and “react” and the new way is “question” and “respond”.   Think about it, what makes you feel more empowered?   Is it a request or is it a question that you get to answer.

Think about questions in the workplace.  When do you feel empowered?   Do you feel empowered when you are “told” to do something or do you feel empowered when you are asked, “How could you solve this problem?”.  For most people it is the second approach, it is their idea, it is their solution and that is empowering.

Look at any organization that is not functioning at their full potential.  What do you hear?   Do you hear questions or requests?    More than likely you are hearing requests more than you are hearing questions.

New managers want to manage.   They are being asked “lead”  your team to success and immediately they are requesting rather than asking empowering questions.

Now, take this to your world, your sphere of influence, what does that look like to you.   Is it a world of questions or requests.   If it is requests see what you can do to change it to questions and see what happens.

“Questions focus our thinking. Ask empowering questions like: What’s good about this? What’s not perfect about it yet? What am I going to do next time? How can I do this and have fun doing it?”   Charles Connolly

stuck in a career with no place to go …

Are you stuck where you are?

“Organizations often spend too much time watching the scoreboard and not enough time watching the ball. Blanchard® research shows that 50% of organizations focus on dashboards and metrics when they should be focusing on creating and improving employee passion. A focus on numbers and productivity without a comparable focus on—and understanding of—what motivates each individual can undermine an organization’s efforts to boost employee productivity and employee work passion.

There are both distinct and subtle clues to understanding organizational productivity. Metrics such as sick days, decreased revenue, and defect rates are easily measured, but the subtleties of productivity can be harder to read. In organizations where employee work passion is high, people willingly exert discretionary effort. They talk positively about the organization to friends and family. They support their colleagues without it being a required part of their job. They are loyal. And they intend to stay with the organization, perform well, and inspire others.”    (from the Ken Blanchard Organization)

It is no wonder that so many people feel like the work they do doesn’t matter.  The effort and focus is on measuring things and leaving out the most important thing, people.   Of course there are organizational results that truly matter to the success of the business and those things shouldn’t be left to chance, but how often are those measures obscuring what really needs to be understood, how engaged are the employees in the work that they are doing?   Measuring productivity and orders and profits are  important, and so is the heartfelt engagement of each person.   Companies that want to improve bottom line results just need to care for their employees.   Now, some would say, “we do care”, we have benefits, they get a paycheck, they get a vacation, employees get all these things from us and what do they do, they don’t do their best.

There are many companies where manager’s are managing as if were 1920 and Frederick Taylor was designing the work day.   Extrinsic motivation which was the popular mode of squeezing more out of an employee is an outmoded form of management.  Not that it isn’t needed at all, it is just that it is needed far less than what it was.   The new leadership model includes intrinsic motivation and the prime method of encouraging employees.  Companies could benefit greatly, improve their bottom line, improve their competitiveness, and improve results by improving employee engagement.

What kind of company do you work for?  Is it encouraging you, empowering you, allowing you the autonomy you need to produce your best results?    When 84% of people surveyed believe they need to be doing something different then most people are not feeling empowered to make the difference they could make.

If your company is filled with people who are working at less than their potential then “coaching” is one tool that can improve the bottom line.  See if your company’s management would be open to improving their bottom line.

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”  Pema Chödrön