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Silence is something more of us should do. The more social media that I read, the more I think that humankind has a need to be heard, to always respond. Despite the need to respond, we don’t always want someone to give us feedback. Feedback is sometimes the hot button that just makes a person clam up.
The opportunities around silence are immense.
- Silence from others, allows us to process what is affecting us. Immediate feedback only disrupts this process.
- Silence communicates a respect when you are listening. It allows others to know you are present with them, not discounting what they are saying.
- People in pain, don’t need automatic response. They need presence.
- Silence keeps us from sometimes saying something we should not say. It keeps us out of hot water.
Knowing when to be silent and when to respond.
- Respond when the person appears ready to accept your response. Keep your eye contact focused on the other person. Keep a safe but engaged distance
- Silence means you are processing what is being said. Respond only when you are expected to respond, ask questions, configure your language to reflect what is being said
- Responding is not always necessary. Respond in ways that you would like others to respond to you. Take time to focus on other’s immediate needs.
Asking permission to respond is a respectful transition. The other person will let you know when they are ready to receive your response. Then they will be ready to complete the transition.
When you’re charged with the responsibility of teaching or mentoring others, the way you proceed may result in developing or hindering others.
A Story: “I was once a customer in a well known fast food establishment. The main customer service staff was mentoring a new staff member. The lines were long and the veteran staff member shouted orders to the new staff member, but showed him little about the task at hand. At one point he said: ‘Now for a test…let’s see if you can make one of these….’ As the mentor provided a dramatic showcase for waiting customers concerning his superiority, the new employee looked at us with a frustrated desperation of: ‘What have I got myself into?'”
The lesson: I walked away embarrassed. As a manager myself, it appeared repulsive that the veteran employee would substitute a teaching moment where support is offered, with a selfish demonstration of how good he was.
Making a Good Mentor: The lesson is that good mentoring is about (or any teaching) is delivering assistance with support, not showcasing your superiority.
- As a mentor you are as much a learner, as a teacher.
- Superiority is about you, not the development of others. It means if I have to look better than you, I must feel pretty weak.
- Mentoring is not about discouraging others
- Good mentoring should make others feel more confident.
- Teaching others is not about testing them, especially in front of customers. That makes your customers doubt your organization’s capacity.
The sad lesson from the story above is that the veteran employee in all his confidence actually made himself and the organization look bad.
Teaching capacity in others is about being humble, supportive and caring.
If you don’t care about the people you teach, how can you expect them to take care of the organization?
As Thomas Jefferson said: “If you want something that you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
The gap between getting from point A to B is one of personal fortitude. A key attribute between meeting your intentions by following through is related to how much ownership you possess.
Jefferson appears to imply that getting a result is inherent on how much you desire to follow through.
Sadly, good intentions miss the mark when our desire is based on something other than having clear ownership for the goal.
Closing the Saying and Doing Gap
What are the qualities needed to follow through?
- Explore how much you want something. Know what it means to you, and why. Failure to answer the why…you need to question whether you have the right objective.
- Does your heart (beliefs, feelings) tell you that you’re on the right track?
- Make a ‘graded task assignment’ – break the follow through into manageable chunks.
- Create an accountability structure. Who is going to keep you accountable for getting there. Set up reporting periods.
- Examine what failing would be like. What are the consequences of inaction? What are the costs and benefits?
- What do successes look like? What is the payoff to follow through?
Develop the spirit to stretch beyond what you think is your capability. Do something you’ve never done.
Counterproductive habits or behaviors come in many shapes and sizes. They also have different impacts on a person. The worst habits are the ones that are subtle, and gradually sap away your motivation and capacity.
Subtle habits that slow your capacity:
- Poor sleep habits
- A focus on overspending
- Negative thinking
- Unwholesome thoughts
- Conflict with others
- Deep animosity
- Holding onto anger
- Obsessing over details
- Not getting results
Little by little, these behaviors erode our best efforts. They dull our senses, and waste valuable talents. They are time stealers, and suck our internal resources away.
The hardest part of giving up an unproductive aspect of ourselves is the perceived comfort we get from engaging these behaviors.
As one colleague stated: “We love what we hate, and hate what we love.”
Ways to power through:
We begin moving through at the very moment we decide we don’t want these problem behaviors to define us any longer.
Taking the short and long views around change:
The Short View: What can I stop doing today? This the list of immediate actions we have in our grasp.
The Long View: What repeated daily habits do I need to incorporate to see better results? The long view is where we look at the growth factors around our change:
- What we need to put into building new skill sets
- Who we need to forgive
- Forgiving ourselves
- Changing specific target habits
- Engaging health
- Changing our methods
Whatever the long view, it is a mission of sorts, and one that requires navigation and a daily commitment.
Questions For Today—
- What 3 behaviors can I stop today?
- Can I make a long term plan to change, and begin today?
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Like the flower that blooms in the Spring, it takes the right conditions to break through the ground. Breaking through personal obstacles is really no different.
The Rut: Anything that is keeping you stuck from where you’re desiring to go.
Other ways that describe being stuck:
- I’m in a job I dislike
- I’m not moving forward in my role
- I can’t get ahead of the bills
- My boss doesn’t seem to recognize the contribution I make
- I feel blah all the time
Recognizing you’re stuck is 50% toward the solution. Some don’t even see they’re stuck until a crisis hits. Being stuck wasn’t something that happened once or twice, it’s something that progressed over time.
10 Ways to move beyond stuck
- Look at what is actually not stuck: Leverage those resources
- Identify your supports – or seek out support
- Look at self sabotage – ways your choices are making it harder to succeed
- Ask yourself: What does being stuck really mean…what does it require me to do?
- What one tipping point do you need that would make the difference?
- Are your expectations holding you back? Are they the right ones?
- Are you doing more, or expecting more?
- What do I need to do less of, and more of?
- Learn, expand.
- Understand that struggle is making you stronger
Not moving down a desired path doesn’t mean you aren’t moving. It means something is taking a different direction unintended.
Moving beyond a challenge requires concerted effort to understand the patterns around you, many of which need discovered.
Work through being stuck by identifying the pattern in operation, then choose a set of new patterns that may lead to different results.
The act of leading is more than being the visionary, or acting thoughtfully for others. It is predicated also on how loyal and unconditionally helpful you are to others.
In many ways people cannot follow you if they can’t trust where you’re coming from.
Great ideas are best acted on when others in the room know where you stand with them. Teams stall when they don’t know what to expect from you.
Ways loyalty drives others
- When others feel you truly respect them.
- When you create a clear vision.
- Going out of your way to help.
- Taking interest in what people want to do.
- Being consistent
Servant Leadership, unconditional positive regard, and thoughtful patience are all specific behaviors that can engage your loyalty to others.
Each time you consider the little things with others, you amplify your influence, and enlarge your leadership footprint.
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The idea that we can do more in less time is an alluring idea. Multi-tasking is often the instant fix we crave to deal with the real feelings of being overwhelmed and overcommitted. If we take a deeper look, the feelings we have are more a part of misguided priorities and moving away from better clarity in our lives.
The Multi-tasking Myth: Clarifying your vision and values
Starting out with a clear definition of what you are (your role), and what you want to do (your values), is the beginnings of real clarification.
The reasons we feel we need to multi-task is that others have defined our roles and values, and we have let them.
The reasons multi-tasking doesn’t work is because it isn’t aligned with a clear vision, and tasks are not grouped in a way where energy expended maximizes getting things done.
Creating your Clarity – Learning to Say No
Another reason that clarity is lost, is that reasonable boundaries in our lives and work are not developed.
In order to create more clarity, you have to decide on the reasonable limits needed to really succeed in your roles.
The ‘being everything to everyone’ idea is another example of going down the wrong direction faster.
Developing and Maintaining Real Clarity
- Define who you are and what contributions you want to make.
- Define the ways you want to serve others. Clarity without service, is like having empty goals.
- Reinforce and reflect daily on whether you are staying on track. You know that you’re off track when you’ve fallen into many things that don’t get closure in your life.
- Keep clarity by evaluating things you do. Are you allowing yourself to say no?
Having clarity means we are focused on things that have a defined beginning and end.
Energy is focused, and distractions are minimized.
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When you have a lot of demands, it is inevitable that “self delaying” or procrastination creeps in. It seems the more you do, the more things are still there. Remaining focused on important things becomes quite a chore when you’re so busy being busy. How do you make things better when it seems all you’re doing is chasing your tail?
- Reflect on why things are not better. It may your mindset. Things may actually be OK, but you are simply unsatisfied with the repetitive patterns in your life. A lack of satisfaction and reasons for it, is the first path to explore to make things better.
- Look at what is sapping your energy. How you are managing your energy on a daily basis is another key answer in making things better. Are poor habits, overeating, lack of activity, avoidance behaviors or sleeping impacting you? These are valuable clues to self improvement.
- Engage a improvement plan, act on something everyday. Making things better may require you to implement one courageous act everyday. Just that one deliberate act puts you on the path to better results.
- Adjust your mindset. Be faithful to yourself and act. Self-talk, personal affirmations and rewarding yourself for making a piece of your life better, is important for keeping motivation high.
- Generate everyday change by documenting what is better. Just a 15 minutes at the end of your day noting your personal victories creates the mindset for the next day. Keeping these accomplishments in front of you gives you the momentum for the next day.
Making something better is a daily adventure. Resolve in 2016 to make a daily effort to improve something small everyday.
Don’t be afraid to look at what you really think about a problem
Change is misdirected when the causes of the problem are vague in the first place.
How many times have you reacted to something, but haven’t thought through the bottom line drivers of the problem? Making changes as a way to respond are better formed when the deeper root causes are known.
Years ago in management training, I was introduced to the quality management concept of Root Cause Analysis. The idea is that you get to the actual driving forces of quality problems and defects in your work. The idea is pragmatic, but not always practical at the same time. It takes time to really find out why and with what you are doing wrong.
Sometimes, you have to detach yourself from the environment you’re in to get to the deeper causes of a problem.
Ways to go for the root causes:
- Back away from the problem for a while. Backing away does not mean avoidance.
- Think deeply about what you think the bottom line is…what is your intuition and heart saying to you?
- An educated conscience will tell you what needs to be different. Those that are more in tune with themselves, can reach clearer definitions of the root causes.
- Write down what you really think. Sometimes it might be a hard pill to swollow, but a reality that needs to be faced.
- Consider different options and conclusions. Test them out and seek further validation through trusted colleagues.
Reaching the root, means you have to ‘dig in the dirt’. There is often a lot of debris that needs to be cleared.