Effective People Live, Not Just Survive

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What people do you admire in your everyday life, and why?.

This simple but profound question is the best way to start the deep reflective work to better evaluate the current path you’re heading.

It is possible to say –
I can think of a handful of individuals that I admire not because what they do, nor because they are famous. They are effective in their daily lives, happy, content, and productive. They have a path that is clearly mission driven, and not based on the social mirror, other people’s evaluations and external expectations or even their jobs. Some of these individuals have passed, but when you reflect on their lives, you just know they lived it effectively, because obviously I would like to have more of what they have…

If you are thinking about being different, then that is the first step. People that don’t even think about their path, end up surviving, not living. Even those that have resources and fame have the capacity to just survive.

Surviving is:
1. Living someone else’s potential.
2. Not working in concert with the truly important things in your life.
3. Existing physically, but mentally altered, distracted, “zoned out.”
4. Operating in a constant state of reaction. “Chasing your tail.”
5. Staying in co-dependent, addictive relationships and circumstances.

If you have “lost yourself”, you are just surviving. Physically you are there, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally you may only be firing on one cylinder.

Become a person who lives:
1. Confront and eliminate unhealthy dynamics or patterns in your live. Take one at a time.
2. Discover what is important about you. Only you know you.
3. Talk to others about yourself, find out how others see you.
4. Align with what is important. That may mean giving up parts of the old you.

The line between living and just surviving is sometimes hard to detect. You have to search for it, and identify the barriers that are keeping you from becoming what you can be.

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The Importance of Simple Things

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An ever present reality is that individuals are engaged in the act of being busy, or survival. “Survival” does not necessarily mean living, but rather existing.

A complex issue in today’s society is how immersed we are in doing, being, running, and reacting. How much do we miss around us? Is the mere act of being important, busy, and immersed in the activity around us, dulling our sense of what is important?

Simple Things
Simple things are around us, and we take them for granted. They invite us to engage, but our addiction to be important, depended upon, provided attention, or surviving dulls our sensitivity to the simple things that can bring an appreciation for our lives.

Like the child playing in the sand…how much do we allow ourselves to play in the sand?

Do We:
1. Look at the clouds?
2. Look at nature around us?
3. Identify what is important to us, as opposed to multiple “stake holders” who don’t recognize our efforts?
4. Read what is important to us? Pursue our dreams?

Or do we simply live, and engage other people’s dreams? When we become dulled to the simple things that are meaningful in life, we are just surviving. On the surface, we are looking, feeling, and being important, but inside we may be just existing.

ACTION ITEM: WHAT ARE WE ALLOWING TO GO BY US? WHY ARE WE JUST SURVIVING, WHEN WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO LIVE?

Dealing With Hollow Commitments

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Everybody knows it is important to invest to get results. The opposite is true when commitments are empty and we still want to get results.

It’s easy to make commitments, but painfully hard to invest and follow through.

In principle: Those that are truly committed pay their way. There are many that believe a lack of investment will still get a result. How can this be?

Why we think hollow commitments will succeed –
1. We delude ourselves.
2. We become sincerely good rational liars to ourselves.
3. We tell people what we think they want to hear.
4. We actually make up things.
5. We have a rescue fantasy that somehow, it will work out.

The effort we exert is hollow, and half-hearted. The results spotty.

What do we do to curb the hollow committ-ers?
1. We smoke them out. Ask them to prove what they have said they’ve done.
2. Measure results
3. Lay out the discrepancy.
4. Identify the co-dependency.
5. Point out reality.

Hollow commitments are just short term survival tactics for those without enough self-esteem, credibility, or resources. It is a delay tactic to create something that is not real, and it can lead to substantial set backs for others.

How do you handle hollow commitments?
What do you do when people disappoint you, and don’t invest?

Building Leverage against Adversity

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Building leverage in periods of adversity is about stepping up to take action rather than reaction.

Reaction to events empowers weakness and victim mentality.

Victim like thinking hampers the ability to develop resiliency.

When there is no resiliency, the tipping point to build leverage passes. There are several areas that can aide in building the leverage needed for adversity:

1. Influence – those with positive influence, have the right balance between sensitivity and power.

2. Focus on the right things – having the right orientation toward honorable things builds internal credibility and confidence. Those that feed on negativity are always operating from the defensive.

3. Exercise persistence and personal initiative – those that exert their energy by taking ownership are in the position to gain leverage. Victim thinking begets a defensive position with adversity, where little leverage is available.

4. Center personal activity – on what the main thing is. Keeping the main thing (or most important) out front is the key to building leverage. Distracting issues, drama, and petty issues only delay and liquidate momentum and leverage.

5. Leverage occurs when we keep meeting and working through challenges. Each time adversity is met by using our talents, skills, and knowledge, we build resiliency. We meet more challenges, which gradually develops leverage.

Leverage is not a given. It cannot bestowed, and it is not easy to attain. Without a deliberate amount of fortitude, and the right approach or mindset, we may find ourselves at a disadvantage.

Resiliency Skills for Leaders, Part 2

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Sustaining your strength and focus is more than individual growth. It is about how you interface with others. Maintaining our effectiveness is about how we lift others beyond their challenges and how we gain from the contribution.

1. Remember it’s not about you. If our emphasis is on others and not our own spotlight, then we avoid creating a codependency on what we do, and instead focus and celebrate what others do as a result of our vision and direction.

2. Integrate and Listen to Others. If we are talking at others rather than listening to them, then we are missing out on key contributions that others are making. The objective of leading others is to create other leaders. If we are listening to them, then we are allowing them to lead.

3. You’re not supposed to know everything. If you know everything, then why are you leading others? Leading with the Idea that you know everything, is closing off the necessary things and people that can teach us more about leading. If we are not being influenced by others, then we have closed off potential creativity and growth within our unit.

4. See your role as a contribution. The question is: Why did we choose to lead others? If it was for personal fame or notoriety, then our gains may be shortsighted, and short lived. Only leadership that aims to make a valuable contribution can feel worthwhile and purposeful in the long run. Ask yourself daily or weekly: Why do I do this? Why do I lead? Search for the answer that comes back.

5. Make Alone Time. At the end of the day or period, absorb what you just experienced that day. Making private time to do this is not selfish, but very important in your personal discovery process, and thinking how others receive us. Use the lessons to feed your thinking and vision.

Resiliency Skills for Leaders – Part 1

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There has been much written about personal renewal. These include a variety of personal habits, health oriented skills, and stress reduction techniques. Leadership and management are very difficult, and the reserve needed from day to day is significant. Personal renewal is certainly necessary, but it is not sufficient when we consider organizational constraints and barriers.

BARRIERS
1. Multiple time sensitive demands
2. Phone calls
3. Commitments
4. Personnel or Customer problems

The need to be creative, present for others, and ready to fight “fires” within the organization can be enormous. The leader can find themselves operating from survival mode, or avoidance mode. Neither option is a preferable method and can lead to organizational drift.

RESILIENCY SKILLS
Invest consistently
Investing in others within the workplace is good for you and your employees. There is no replacement for compassion, empathy, concern and providing recognition to others for the good that is happening in the organization. Connecting, engaging, supporting, and learning from others and recognizing others, can be uplifting. The more you uplift, the more you can be lifted.

Take time to reflect
From what you’ve learned and connected with, comes the need to find a quiet place to reflect. The banter of noise, multiple disruptions, and interference does little to integrate what you are now. In order to know where you want to be, you have to reflect on where you are.

Avoid being mired in petty issues
Keeping the big picture in front of you despite the noise and interference of competing problems is a key skill to maintaining focus. Putting small issues aside, getting closure on potential distractions is a key skill and one that bypasses issues, rather than letting them control the path that is being set.

Write about what you’ve learned
Leaders that write, and reflect – and “crunch” ideas have the potential toward resiliency and personal growth. They not only reflect, but put their goals in clearer perspective. If you integrate your insights at the end of the day, your next day will be more informed.

Maintain a routine
Changes are a given, but maintaining a consistent routine is critical to dealing with the ebb and flow of a given day. Maintaining a structure that is flexible, yet adds some predictability can impact how you approach new issues that seek to derail your day.

Resiliency is a process – it requires constant development. It requires meeting problems, using skill reserves you develop, and getting closure on residual issues.

The Anatomy of a Choice

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Stephen Covey once said there were three constants in life: Change, Principles, and Choice. The underlying idea of his works was to help others match the right kinds of choices, to their personal vision, mission or governing value network. In doing that we could derive effectiveness in the variety of roles in our lives.

Yet for most of us, choice is the hardest variable. In today’s highly information driven society with its infinite number of personal choices we could make, choices are hard. Even if we have carefully crafted our personal mission, values and roles in our lives, choices are hard, especially when there are competing ones. Beyond this, is how there are so many issues that act on us. Even important roles can collide, and choices can be difficult.

Beyond these challenges is the fact that we can make a choice, but to follow through and see the choice through takes fortitude. The hardest part of a choice may not be the competing nature of paths we can take, but the bridge that needs crossed to implement the choice.

How many people have you met that make good intentional commitments or indicate verbally their intentions toward a choice, but fall short doing the choice? Probably everyone, including ourselves. It is very popular to make the choice, and it feels good because of the perceived accomplishment. The accomplishment of a choice is however the most important and critical step in any choice. Everyone can have good intentions when it is needed (see my article on “Organizational Codependency” elsewhere on this site). Making the choice stick is completely a different animal.

The Anatomy of a Choice

    When you’re planning to make a choice, consider the following elements:

    1. How realistically can I implement the choice?
    2. How many new steps will my choice make for me?
    3. The choice feels good, but doing the choice is like moving against a strong wind.
    4. How much work is involved in this choice?
    5. Who can help me get there, once I have made the choice.

    Of course the above sounds a lot like goals. A preferred definition of choice might be: What behaviors do I need to do? Choice are thoughts, but the behavior portion transitions the choice into action. Using the word goals is about as vague as choice. Without the operationalized behavioral steps and actions, movement will not occur. The anatomy of a choice is often a road to travel itself. It is also a lifelong pursuit of becoming and direction finding in your life.

Necessity Creates Focus

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The need to make change is often driven by necessity. In the worse case, a crisis may develop that creates the necessity to change. For some, without something pressing down on us, the movement toward necessary change could be delayed.

Ways that focus is delayed:
1.) We choose to avoid what is necessary

2.) To focus suggests that we have to take personal responsibility. We choose to deflect or blame others.

3.) We cover up the priority or necessity by focusing on things that don’t matter.

A necessity can either be a bother or an activating experience where progress is made. It is based on how we choose to proceed. A necessity can transform, or further debilitate, depending on how we approach problems. In the end, the choice is ours. Do we wish to transform ourselves and use our focus, or do we seek to avoid or deny the things necessary in our lives?

Don’t Expect Everyone to Meet Your Expectations

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Management intrinsically sets expectations – both of managers and those they lead. When expectations are present, there is the expectation that they will be met.

This is easier said than done. If you manage others with the rigid expectation that they will meet them, there is going to be disappointment.

The expectations of others need to include the potential that others will fall short – for example:

1. Falling short following policy
2. Character weaknesses
3. Not accepting supervision
4. Avoidance
5. Ethical missteps
6. Personal problems affecting workplace behavior

When you begin to accept the potential that others will fall short of expectations, you allow yourself to stay focused on the more important stuff. Mistakes or falling short is a part of human nature. Personalizing the actions of others is a sure fire way to stress, or most importantly, sidetrack your eye from the big picture.

Keeping Your Eye on the Big Picture
The way you work through a failed expectation is to realize that drift may occur.

1. Identify the program or policy drift
2. Acknowledge the self – correction with others
3. Examine your own motivations and expectations
4. Adjust your attitude with others- accept failures, insist on corrective behaviors in others
5. Provide supports, clarify your expectation

Finally, set future expectations in a way they are incrementally attainable with your team. Insure potential roadblocks are removed. The failed expectation could be your roadblock not your staff member’s. Keep an open mind that you may be setting the wrong or unclear expectation that is not matched with their current realities.