The Power of Perception

Our attitudes and perceptions mold how we view the world.  The same principle also applies to your colleagues, boss, clients, etc.  Each viewpoint is unique, none being right or wrong.  What typically happens is that we allow our perceptions to get in the way based on a certain level of "credibility" we have applied to them due to years of conditioning.   What sort of noise is your mind generating?   Challenge yourself to find one attitude, belief, or perception that may be holding back your career.   What can you do over the next 30 days to modify this behavior to see positive behavioral change and improve results for you and your career?

Ready, Get Set, Get Organized

Was one of your New Year’s Resolutions to get a better grip on managing your time?   Are you trying to uncover the secret to effective time management?   If so,  all you really need to remember is effective time management will occur if you: (1) use a system, either electronic or paper, that works for you (2) learn to prioritize your activities and (3) set meaningful goals.   Achieving effective time management will not happen overnight; it takes time to change a personal habit, just ask anyone who has quit smoking or lost a lot of weight by managing their diet.   If you make the commitment to make the change in your behavior and keep your word you will see the results and feel more productive.

Receiving Feedback- Pointers For Your Performance Review

The scene: You and your manager are in a meeting to discuss your performance this past year.   So far most of the conversation has been positive, but now you sense a change in the tone of their voice and perhaps event notice the subtle shift in their body language and now your mind immediately goes to a dark place.

Let's face it.  None of us are perfect.   There is always something we can work on to make ourselves better, stronger, whatever.   However, before we can get to those better places or opportunities we need to know our starting point and what might need to be "tweaked."  So, instead of tuning out the boss, I would ask you to consider the following pointers:

1. Be grateful for the feedback.   Someone is taking the time to share with you their perceptions of you (and/or your behavior).  Even if you don't agree with it, their perceptions are their reality. 

2. Don't take the feedback personally.   Detach yourself from your job title and don't take the feedback home with you.

3.  If you are not clear on how to interpret the feedback, ask questions that will help you understand what the other person is trying to share.

4. Thank your manager for the feedback.   You now understand their perspective on a situation and you can decide if you want/need to modify your behavior going forward. 

How to Outperform and Outlast the Competition

Regardless of the economic environment, most individuals are always looking for ways to outperform and outlast their competition.  How is this done?  Quite simply by embracing change.    Most of us have created an environment that is safe, comfortable, and predictable and where “change” is a much feared concept.   So, how is it that successful people are able forge ahead in unknown territory? They focus on overcoming the obstacles, fears, and doubts they encounter on their journey. 

To help you navigate your own journey here are four primary reasons why people are resistant to change.

1)      FEAR– it’s internal; it’s in our heads; you can say fear is False Emotions Appearing Real.

2)      EGO--the need to be right is a powerful human need.

3)      CONFLICT--when you try to leave the people and things that make you comfortable you can sometimes create conflict.  Depending upon the situation, most people do not like conflict; it is not fun, so they just avoid it all together.

4)      LACK OF PURPOSE--without a sense of purpose, people become stagnant, complacent, and burnt out. 

So ask yourself, which one of these reasons is holding you back the most and what can you do to change that?  The good news is you don’t have to take drastic measures to create change. However, you do have to do things differently.  I encourage you to examine yourself, your attitudes, and your habits. Change starts with you. If you want to have a different result, then change your way of thinking, doing so will enable you to outperform and outlast your competition.

Investing vs. Spending Your Time

One of the most important concepts of time management is to understand and acknowledge the difference between spending time and investing time.  The definition of spend, according to the dictionary, is “to use up, exhaust, consume.”  However, when we invest our time we do so with the expectation of some sort of ROI, return on investment.  If we were to attach the value we put on money to the concept of time, we would be more motivated to manage it better. 

Time is like money.  You can expect returns if you invest in it wisely (current economic situation excluded) and losses if it is spent without purpose.  How you use your time is a reflection of who you are.  Not only is it an indication of what you think about yourself it also reveals what you think of others.  Your focus on achieving the goals you have set for yourself is reflected in your use of time.  How you allocate your time mirrors your purpose, your vision and your values. 

Time and the Importance of Meaning

Still struggling to become more effective in managing your time?   Perhaps now is a good opportunity for you to review and/or identify what are your purpose, values and visions.  We often get so caught up in the “daily grind” that we fail to think about what we really like to do.   What we need to do is to stop and consider- is the future a consequence of what we are doing now or is what we are doing now a consequence of how we view our future?   To help you get started on this exercise, ask yourself the following questions:

1)      What is your purpose in life?

2)      What would you like to accomplish in your job? At home?

3)      What are your strengths/talents?

4)      What gives your life meaning?

5)      What is most important to you?

With these answers you can begin to visualize your future and this will help you stretch your ability and achieve higher levels of success.

Your Personal Growth

Your success is dependent upon your ability to set meaningful goals and the achievement of those goals.  Knowing who you are and where you are going is the foundation for your growth.   You can expand your personal growth by focusing on developing key leadership traits.  Here are a few suggestions to help you chart your developmental path.

  1. Self-Discipline- making the commitment to pursuing your goals and maintaining a positive attitude at the same time.
  2. Self-Confidence/Self-Esteem- believe in yourself and your capabilities. 
  3. Be empathetic- by understanding and appreciating others you empower them and in return gain power yourself.
  4. Have integrity- set high standards, select strong values and have a clearly defined purpose.

Self-development is a journey not a destination.  Enjoy the trip!     

How to Make the Best Decisions

Quite often life presents us with challenges that require us to make decisions.  So, what can you do to make sure you are making the best decision you can?  Try and follow the steps outlined in this blog and see what results you are able to achieve.

  1. Clearly define the issue before you go about solving it and making decisions.
  2. Do your due diligence.  What sort of information will you need to gather and review before making this decision?
  3. What are your options?   Don’t necessarily settle for the first thing that comes to mind.  Take the time to think through all the possible alternatives and then select the best one.
  4. Move forward.  Once you have identified the best alternative think through the details of how you are going to execute this task.   What are the potential risks, the resources needed, timelines, etc.   Also make sure to identify how you will measure your progress.

The Purpose Behind Communicating

Quite simply, the purpose of communicating with others is to convey a message that elicits a behavioral response.  In most situations there is a particular behavioral response that you are targeting to elicit.   If you are looking to get your message across the first time around be sure to follow these fundamental principles of successful interpersonal communications.

a) Be logical.  Communicate one idea at a time in the proper sequence.

b) Be aware of the words you are using and the pictures/thoughts those words may portray.  We know that a “picture is worth a 1,000 words” but a word can also mean different things to different people.

c) Be concise.  Too many words is not better.  Be brief, concise and clear in your communications. 

Remember the purpose of communication is to convey a message that draws out a behavioral response not just to hear yourself talk. 

Methods of Motivation

Most of you are probably quite familiar with the two common forms of motivation, fear and incentive.   Ever wonder why neither one of these forms of motivation has long lasting power?  It’s because they are external forms of motivation and their “magic spell” diminishes when the penalty has been avoided or the reward received.   Looking for a new way to get folks motivated?  How about self-motivation?   Here the reliance is on the individual, not others.  Fostering an environment where individuals are self-motivated requires helping them develop positive attitudes.    People are driven by their belief in themselves.   What can you do to help others to become the best they can be?

What is motivation?

What is motivation?  In simple terms it is our interest and drive; our desire to do.   It is the force that propels us to achieve our goals.  Do you find yourself lacking in motivation?  If so, ask yourself how clearly are you able to visualize what you want to achieve.   Without this crystal clear vision it is extremely difficult to identify the goals that need to be achieved.   The goal setting process is where we build our confidence which intensifies our motivation.   Promote your own growth and be the best you can be by identifying your needs and clarifying their purpose and direction.

You cannot have success without motivation.   So ask yourself what can you do to increase your motivational levels?

The Big “D”- Delegation

If you are able to master the art of delegation you will reap the rewards of being in control of how you spend your time and energy.   Not sure you are an effective delegator?  Review the tips below to see what you might be able to do differently.

Tip #1:  Make sure you delegate the responsibility along with the task to be completed.   This allows the person to feel a sense of ownership.  In addition, you might find a more creative, productive means of accomplishing the task at hand.

Tip#2: Delegate to complement your strengths.  Identify areas that may not be your strength and leverage the skills of the people around you.

Tip#3: Delegating is not dumping.  When you delegate it should be with the intention of furthering another’s personal/professional growth.  Not just a means for you to get your To Do List done.

Tip#4: A skillful delegator has gotten that way from practice.   It may take a while to build up a comfort level with delegating tasks.  Work on it each opportunity you get.

Tip#5:  Don’t allow your direct reports to delegate up to you.   Provide the guidance needed but do not complete the task for them.  You don’t need the additional burden and you may be curtailing their growth.