Leadership

How To Overcome Procrastination and Stress

One of the common issues that many of my clients want to overcome is procrastination.  When the important things aren’t getting done and the to-do list keeps growing, it is frustrating to feel like you will never be on top of things.

Is life driving you or are you driving your life?

Let’s be honest.  Sometimes life is far too busy when you have a “to-do list” that seems way too long.  Tasks, responsibilities, and demands keep piling up, and sometimes it is easy to loose perspective.

If procrastination is a pattern that is familiar to you, chances are that when responsibility piles up, you may find yourself putting things off to cope. However, in the end, this is the cause of a world of overwhelm.  Being, mindful of this is important to create change.

IS PROCRASTINATING A HABIT IN YOUR LIFE?

Habits are patterns that we adopt and do over a period of time that become familiar to us.  They are the way that we end up ‘doing life’ because our brains are hardwired for following these.  Yet when something is not working of us in our lives, like procrastinating, it is important to step back and reevaluate.   It takes awareness and courage to interrupt old patterns and change them.

Let me tell you a story where procrastination created an enormous amount of stress in my life.

In my college years, I had to learn how to deal with the demands of my studies, the endless school work— term papers, requirements and exams.  I had the best intentions to stay on top of things, however the to-do list often was overwhelming and I fell into the trap of putting things off. This led to me cramming to get everything done right before the deadlines. Year after year during each semester, I found myself procrastinating and doing the same thing over and over again.  Cramming to get everything done into a short block of time was intense and stressful.  Why was it that even though I had vowed that I would not let history repeat itself, it did!   While it came at the huge cost of lack of sleep, stress, anxiety and overwhelm, why was it that this was something I continued to repeatedly do?

It was years later that I acknowledged that I had developed the habit of procrastination.  It was showing up in various areas of my life

When examining why I continued to repeat this detrimental behaviour I discovered that there were underlying beliefs driving it. Perfectionism, needing to get things right, a fear of failure and self-doubt were some of the underlying causes.  Realizing this was not working for me, I knew I had to make changes in my life.

Is this something that you can relate to?  Have you found yourself in situations where the habit of procrastination interferes in your life?

MANY OF THE HABITS IN OUR LIFE ARE SOMETHING THAT WE REPEATEDLY DO THAT WE AREN’T EVEN CONSCIOUS OF.

Possibly you may have found yourself in a situation where you were dealing with a task that was difficult, so you put things off not knowing why.  Or there were too many things on your dreaded to-do list that you didn’t want to do, so you chose not to do them.  Maybe you were dealing with a task that demanded too much time so you decided to put it off and do it ‘someday’.  Maybe you found yourself in a situation where you were unsure of yourself and uncertain that you would ‘get it’ or ‘do it right’, so you procrastinated to avoid the discomfort.

When we procrastinate is something deeper going on?

What I discovered is that there were reasons for procrastinating. Often the issue is not so much about the to-do list— it is about our perspective and how we choose or not choose to deal with things.

For example, let’s go back to my college years.  As history kept repeating itself, what was really going on? I was pushing things off because I was fearful, felt insecure and doubted myself.    At times, I did feel incompetent and struggled with a lack of self-confidence.  At the root of the procrastination issue, there was definitely something more going on.

That is why it is important to examine WHY we procrastinate and to take responsibility.  Procrastination is a psychological behaviour that has an impact.  It can be a major source of anxiety and stress and it is important to have the courage to change it!

AWARENESS IS KEY

When life gets busy and you have an endless amount of things  to do, be aware of how you procrastinate.

We all do it in one way or another.  Catch yourself when you procrastinate, and be willing to make changes to avoid going down the path of overwhelm.

Be mindful to:

  • See it in the moment when it happens.
  • Identify the beliefs that drive it – Is it fear, insecurity or doubt? What is it?
  • Evaluate the cost – Is procrastinating working for you or is it actually working against you?  What is the impact?
  • Think about how to deal with things and choose not to procrastinate – How does this benefit you?  What is the reward?
  • Make a choice to be empowered – Commit to a plan that works for you to stay on top of your game and keep moving forward!

For me this means making a list of the priorities that need to get done and to simplify things by remembering what is most important.

How I do this— I have a timeline of when I will do it and I schedule it in my calendar.

I make a solid commitment to follow through with my commitments no matter what.  When there are too many things on the to-do list, I realize that it is important to admit it. I remind myself that asking for help is not a weakness, it is a strength.  Delegating responsibility is a wonderful strategy and people really do love to help.

What will you do to help yourself when life is far too busy?

Take responsibility to be your best, take one day at a time and don’t allow the ‘procrastination gremlin’ to distract you.   There will be less stress in your life and the load will feel much lighter.

 

Do Your Words Inspire Trust Or Distrust?

Our words are more powerful than we might think.  Consider a conversation you have had with someone… maybe it’s with your partner, a co-worker, your child, spouse or a friend.  In conversation, words and phrases are used, and exchanged such as, “That’s not the right thing to do” or “Are you sure you know what you are doing?”.

Sometimes we don’t notice the power of our words, and the truth is once words are spoken, they can never be taken back.   Words have an impact!

WORDS ARE POWERFUL…

The impact of words can be empowering or disempowering, and they can have a lasting impact in a person’s life.  Think about some of the conversations you have experienced.   What words and phrases linger in the memory vault of your mind?

It is important to be mindful of the words we use and the conversations that we have.  As humans, we are more sensitive than we think.  We hear words and we interpret them in a certain way, and we don’t always have clarity or understanding on what was said.  It is easy to get triggered and get lost in a conversation.  Our inner dialogues, thoughts and feelings can make things more complex, and “movies” begin to play in our minds.  Past experiences and “stories” can lead us to lose sight of reality. 

To illustrate, let me tell you a story…

Sandra and Nichol were best friends for many years.  They shared many life experiences, and had many things in common.  When circumstances moved them to different cities, they were intentional about their relationship, trusted each other to make this a priority and as a result had a strong friendship over the miles.

At a time when Sandra was facing some difficult challenges, she would often call Nichol on a regular basis for support.  What she didn’t know (and what Nichol was not communicating) was that she was dealing with many stressful situations of her own.  

On a particular day when Nichol felt stressed and overwhelmed, rather than giving her friend the support that she needed, she blurted out comments that were quite blunt.  Sandra felt criticized and hurt.  Instead of addressing the comment that was made, Sandra felt threatened and chose to withdraw.

Nothing was said for many weeks and this “bitter root” grew.  The ladies talked less frequently, and Sandra concluded that she couldn’t trust her friend anymore.  As thoughts and feelings of distrust were provoked, the relationship and conversations between the two ladies grew distant.  Sandra was guarded, defensive, and felt she had to protect her heart.

PROTECTING OURSELVES WHEN WE FEEL THREATENED IS A NATURAL RESPONSE.

Dr. Judith E. Glasser’s research, Conversational Intelligence expert, sheds light on this. When we protect ourselves, there is actually something happening in our brain.  Protection is an instinctive process. 

Since the beginning of time, we were hardwired to react and to protect ourselves when we feel threatened.  A part of our brain (the Primitive Brain) when triggered, affects how we respond. There is a decision made within seconds— “Will we choose trust or distrust?”  When distrust is activated and when it is in overdrive, our brain freezes and shuts down.  Fear is triggered and our natural instinct is to protect and defend ourselves from being hurt.  Naturally behaviors show up— we appease, disconnect, and avoid.  Stories can play out in our minds, we shut down, and we aren’t open to influence.  This is when we lose sight of reality.

THE ONLY WAY TO SHIFT IS TO MOVE FROM DISTRUST TOWARDS TRUST!

Research shows that when trust is activated in a part of our brain known as the Executive Brain, something wonderful happens.  Trust acts as a catalyst for higher levels of openness, awareness, and connection, enabling deeper levels of conversation.  We naturally share our thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams with each other.

In moments when we feel distrust it is important to recognize what is really going on inside of us.  To have a powerful conversation, assume nothing, check things out, be transparent, and speak the truth. 

The story continued…

Distrust was running rampant in the ladies relationship and they felt the ill affects. While they could not pinpoint exactly what happened, they decided to evaluate things, hit the pause and rewind button to examine where things went wrong.  What they were able to figure out was where the relationship derailed, where a conversation had created a bad experience that tipped their relationship into distrust.  Knowing how valuable their relationship was, they became intentional about reestablishing trust.  How?  By being empathetic to each other, and asking for what they needed.  They were able to rebuild their relationship.

TRUST IS THE FOUNDATION OF ALL RELATIONSHIPS AND OUR WORDS AND CONVERSATIONS BUILD TRUST!

Perhaps you are experiencing challenges in a relationship.   Have there been words expressed that make it difficult to trust?

Be accountable for the words you speak, hold others accountable and engage in powerful conversations.

  • Be transparent and speak the truth.
  • Listen to connect and to understand.
  • Don’t make assumptions and check things out.
  • Be intentional in your relationships and build trust.

Our words are powerful and the conversations that we have shape our world and create connection.  Being mindful of our words and building trust through conversation is life giving and life changing!

 

How do the words you speak impact the people in your life?

Is Your Unsolicited Advice Actually Helping Your Relationships?

Have you been in a situation or dilemma where you needed support from a friend and instead you were given unsolicited advice?

The outcome— you withdrew, felt the strain in your relationship, which impacted you and your ability to connect.

On the flipside, think about a situation where someone was talking to you about an issue that they were dealing with.  They trusted you and needed a listening ear.  As your heart was naturally compelled to help, you began to give advice  (synonyms for advice – to aid, help, guide, suggest, recommend, consult, instruct).

As good as your intention was, giving unsolicited advice didn’t actually solve the problem.  Nor did it help open up meaningful conversation,  strengthen the relationship or build trust.

HERE’S A PERSPECTIVE TO CONSIDER…

Giving advice is often a wonderful thing in relationships when it is asked for.

When advice is not invited or welcomed, it can come across as assuming, imposing, not listening or understanding, not being empathetic, questioning, being judgmental, arrogant, or being unsupportive.  Rather than bridging connection between two people, it does the opposite.  It brings disconnection.

I think of some difficult situations I have faced where all I needed was a listening ear.  When unsolicited advice was given, it felt like “a heart crusher” where I felt not listened to, misunderstood, and so alone (even though I truly know that this wasn’t the other person’s intention).

On the flipside, I think of the times when my kids needed me as a friend to listen and be open, and I stepped into my parenting/coaching role and gave unsolicited advice.   The impact was that it closed down the conversation in the moment making it difficult to trust.

HOW DO YOU RESPOND WHEN SOMEONE SHARES WITH YOU A DILEMMA THAT THEY ARE DEALING WITH?

  • Do you respond by fixing…  or problem solving?
  • Do you want to contribute and help a person find a solution to their dilemma or problem? 

As noble as believing that you are helping the person in need is, this isn’t always the best choice to make and ultimately what the other person desires.  When you position yourself as “the advice giver” (when it is not called for) there is backlash; your good intentions may be misinterpreted.  The other person may end up feeling unseen, unheard and possibly misunderstood.

HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES TO ILLUSTRATE:

  • Brittany – “My boyfriend and I are having trouble getting along.  This has been going on for some time.  Every conversation we have seems to end up in a conflict.  Our relationship is so difficult”.
  • Friend’s response – “The writing is on the wall… He is not the right guy for you. When relationships are difficult, something is definitely wrong.  You should end the relationship and move on.”
  • Carl – I never seem to have enough time to do the things that are important to me.  I feel like I am on a treadmill going nowhere. I am so stressed and exhausted.  There is way too much going on in my life!
  • Friend’s response – You have to make time for yourself and this is costing you.  You need perspective.  What you need to do is sign up for the yoga classes that I am taking.  It will definitely help you deal with the stress and energize you.

Unsolicited opinions, comments and advice that is given, can have an unintended effect and actually brings stress and harm to the relationship.

Consider a different response…

Let’s look back at the examples that were illustrated.  What would be another way to respond?

Empathy is a doorway to discovering greater understanding and connection in a relationship.  What is possible when you listen to connect?

What insights would be discovered?

  • In Brittany’s case – What her friend didn’t know was that Brittany and her boyfriend had both been through very difficult breakups and they were dealing with a lot of fear.  They were trying to learn how to trust again and they were having a real hard time.  Rather than telling Brittany what to do, what if her friend had given her the emotional support she needed and simply listened? 
  • In Carl’s situation – His friend didn’t know that business was struggling and that Carl was working long hours trying to figure out how to provide for his family.  He was having trouble paying the bills and felt depressed.  Rather than diagnosing him, giving him solutions and telling him what he needed, what if he listened and was there to simply support his friend?

 

The reality is that many people in life are going through many difficult situations and what they really want is simple…

            They want someone to talk to.

            They want to be listened to.

            They want someone to care.

Given the opportunity to express their feelings and emotions in an atmosphere of love, acceptance and support, they often do find their own answers.  Attentive and active listening is an amazing process!

HOW TO LISTEN MORE EFFECTIVELY:

  1. Listen to discover and understand with patience and acceptance.
  2. Resist the need to fix – Hold the person as creative, resourceful and whole.  Trust that the answers lie within them.
  3. Engage in meaningful conversations – Ask questions about what you don’t know and be curious to know more about their life.
  4. Ask permission – If you feel an intuitive nudge and have something you would like to share, ask permission to share your thoughts.

Listen well, ask before giving advice and see how it strengthens your relationships. 

 

 

The Perfect Amount of Time to Work Each Day

Author – Dr. Travis Bradberry

The 8-hour workday is an outdated and ineffective approach to work. If you want to be as productive as possible, you need to let go of this relic and find a new approach.

The 8-hour workday was created during the industrial revolution as an effort to cut down on the number of hours of manual labor that workers were forced to endure on the factory floor. This breakthrough was a more humane approach to work two hundred years ago, yet it possesses little relevance for us today.

Like our ancestors, we’re expected to put in 8-hour days, working in long, continuous blocks of time, with few or no breaks. Heck, most people even work right through their lunch hour!

This antiquated approach to work isn’t helping us; it’s holding us back.

The Best Way to Structure Your Day

A study recently conducted by the Draugiem Group used a computer application to track employees’ work habits. Specifically, the application measured how much time people spent on various tasks and compared this to their productivity levels.

In the process of measuring people’s activity, they stumbled upon a fascinating finding: the length of the workday didn’t matter much; what mattered was how people structured their day. In particular, people who were religious about taking short breaks were far more productive than those who worked longer hours.

The ideal work-to-break ratio was 52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of rest. People who maintained this schedule had a unique level of focus in their work. For roughly an hour at a time, they were 100% dedicated to the task they needed to accomplish. They didn’t check Facebook “real quick” or get distracted by e-mails. When they felt fatigue (again, after about an hour), they took short breaks, during which they completely separated themselves from their work. This helped them to dive back in refreshed for another productive hour of work.

Your Brain Wants an Hour On, 15 Minutes Off

People who have discovered this magic productivity ratio crush their competition because they tap into a fundamental need of the human mind: the brain naturally functions in spurts of high energy (roughly an hour) followed by spurts of low energy (15–20 minutes).

For most of us, this natural ebb and flow of energy leaves us wavering between focused periods of high energy followed by far less productive periods, when we tire and succumb to distractions.

The best way to beat exhaustion and frustrating distractions is to get intentional about your workday. Instead of working for an hour or more and then trying to battle through distractions and fatigue, when your productivity begins to dip, take this as a sign that it’s time for a break.

Real breaks are easier to take when you know they’re going to make your day more productive. We often let fatigue win because we continue working through it (long after we’ve lost energy and focus), and the breaks we take aren’t real breaks (checking your e-mail and watching YouTube doesn’t recharge you the same way as taking a walk does).

Take Charge of Your Workday

The 8-hour workday can work for you if you break your time into strategic intervals. Once you align your natural energy with your effort, things begin to run much more smoothly. Here are four tips that will get you into that perfect rhythm.

Break your day into hourly intervals. We naturally plan what we need to accomplish by the end of the day, the week, or the month, but we’re far more effective when we focus on what we can accomplish right now. Beyond getting you into the right rhythm, planning your day around hour-long intervals simplifies daunting tasks by breaking them into manageable pieces. If you want to be a literalist, you can plan your day around 52-minute intervals if you like, but an hour works just as well.

Respect your hour. The interval strategy only works because we use our peak energy levels to reach an extremely high level of focus for a relatively short amount of time. When you disrespect your hour by texting, checking e-mails, or doing a quick Facebook check, you defeat the entire purpose of the approach.

Take real rest. In the study at Draugiem, they found that employees who took more frequent rests than the hourly optimum were more productive than those who didn’t rest at all. Likewise, those who took deliberately relaxing breaks were better off than those who, when “resting,” had trouble separating themselves from their work. Getting away from your computer, your phone, and your to-do list is essential to boosting your productivity. Breaks such as walking, reading, and chatting are the most effective forms of recharging because they take you away from your work. On a busy day, it might be tempting to think of dealing with e-mails or making phone calls as breaks, but they aren’t, so don’t give in to this line of thought.

Don’t wait until your body tells you to take a break. If you wait until you feel tired to take a break, it’s too late—you’ve already missed the window of peak productivity. Keeping to your schedule ensures that you work when you’re the most productive and that you rest during times that would otherwise be unproductive. Remember, it’s far more productive to rest for short periods than it is to keep on working when you’re tired and distracted.

Bringing It All Together

Breaking your day down into chunks of work and rest that match your natural energy levels feels good, makes your workday go faster, and boosts your productivity.

Do you notice your energy and focus waxing and waning according to the cycle described above? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

Why You Need Emotional Intelligence To Succeed

By Dr. Travis Bradberry

When emotional intelligence first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the sole source of success—IQ. Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack.

Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Emotional intelligence is made up of four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.

Emotional intelligence is made up of four core skills:

Personal competence comprises your self-awareness and self-management skills, which focus more on you individually than on your interactions with other people. Personal competence is your ability to stay aware of your emotions and manage your behavior and tendencies.

Self-Awareness – is your ability to accurately perceive your emotions and stay aware of them as they happen.
Self-Management – is your ability to use awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and positively direct
your behavior.

Social competence is made up of your social awareness and relationship management skills; social competence is your ability to understand other people’s moods, behavior, and motives in order to respond effectively and improve the quality of your relationships.

Social Awareness – is your ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is really going on.
Relationship Management – is your ability to use awareness of your emotions and the others’ emotions to manage interactions successfully.

Emotional Intelligence, IQ, and Personality Are Different

Emotional intelligence taps into a fundamental element of human behavior that is distinct from your intellect. There is no known connection between IQ and emotional intelligence; you simply can’t predict emotional intelligence based on how smart someone is. Intelligence is your ability to learn, and it’s the same at age 15 as it is at age 50. Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice. Although some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, you can develop high emotional intelligence even if you aren’t born with it.

Emotional intelligence is an essential part of the whole person.
Personality is the final piece of the puzzle. It’s the stable “style” that defines each of us. Personality is the result of hard-wired preferences, such as the inclination toward introversion or extroversion. However, like IQ, personality can’t be used to predict emotional intelligence. Also like IQ, personality is stable over a lifetime and doesn’t change. IQ, emotional intelligence, and personality each cover unique ground and help to explain what makes a person tick.

Emotional Intelligence Predicts Performance

How much of an impact does emotional intelligence have on your professional success? The short answer is: a lot! It’s a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with a tremendous result. TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills, and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.

Your emotional intelligence is the foundation for a host of critical skills—it impacts most everything you do and say each day.

Emotional intelligence is the foundation for critical skills.
Of all the people we’ve studied at work, we’ve found that 90% of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence. On the flip side, just 20% of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence. You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim.

Naturally, people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence. The link between emotional intelligence and earnings is so direct that every point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1,300 to an annual salary. These findings hold true for people in all industries, at all levels, in every region of the world. We haven’t yet been able to find a job in which performance and pay aren’t tied closely to emotional intelligence.

You Can Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

The communication between your emotional and rational “brains” is the physical source of emotional intelligence. The pathway for emotional intelligence starts in the brain, at the spinal cord. Your primary senses enter here and must travel to the front of your brain before you can think rationally about your experience. However, first they travel through the limbic system, the place where emotions are generated. So, we have an emotional reaction to events before our rational mind is able to engage. Emotional intelligence requires effective communication between the rational and emotional centers of the brain.

Emotional intelligence is a balance between the rational and motional brain.
Plasticity is the term neurologists use to describe the brain’s ability to change. As you discover and practice new emotional intelligence skills, the billions of microscopic neurons lining the road between the rational and emotional centers of your brain branch off small “arms” (much like a tree) to reach out to the other cells. A single cell can grow 15,000 connections with its neighbors. This chain reaction of growth ensures it’s easier to kick a new behavior into action in the future.

As you train your brain by repeatedly practicing new emotionally intelligent behaviors, your brain builds the pathways needed to make them into habits. Before long, you begin responding to your surroundings with emotional intelligence without even having to think about it. And just as your brain reinforces the use of new behaviors, the connections supporting old, destructive behaviors will die off as you learn to limit your use of them,

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Travis Bradberry, Ph.D.

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

How to Achieve What You Most Want?

Are you one of the many people who sets intentions, has goals and creates a plan?  Studies show that setting goals is key to success.

SUCCESS STARTS WITH A PLAN

There was a study done on a group of graduating students who were in the Harvard MBA Program where the students were asked to set clear written goals for their future and to also make plans of how they would accomplish this.  In this group of students, 3% of the students wrote down their goals, while the other 13% had goals however they did not write them down. The remaining 84% of the students had no specific goals at all.

They interviewed the students ten years later and the findings were astounding!  The 13% who had goals but had not written them down—were earning on average, twice as much at the 84% who had none.  The 3% who had clear written goals— were earning ten times as much as the 97% put together. (Article in – What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School)

These extraordinary results are inspiring! If you want to succeed, setting goals is one of the most important things that you can do.

In my years of experience as a Coach, one thing I have discovered is that when it comes to setting goals, a lot of people are resistant.  Why is this?  Is it enough to just set  “SMART” Goals that are— Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely— or is there more to this?  I believe there is.

In order to accomplish your goals, you must set goals around the things that are MOST important to you.  Your goals must align with your values.

When your goals align with your values you have a higher chance for success!

What do you really want?

  • Do you want to have a better self-image, be healthier, or be more successful?
  • Do you want to build a stronger relationship with someone who is important to you?
  • Do you want to have more fulfillment and happiness in your life?

Set goals and align your goals with your values!

Here’s how:

  1. Clearly define what your values are.  What is most important to you?
  2. What do you want?  Make a list of some of the things that you want to achieve.  What do you want to do that would make you happy and proud?
  3. Evaluate what you wrote down -What is one thing that stands out?  Make sure it aligns with your values.
  4. Set a goal – Create a clear plan of how you will accomplish your goal.
  5. Be motivated from the inside out – Know why is it important to you?  What is the reward?
  6. Be sure to tell someone and create accountability – With support you are more likely to succeed and you have people to cheer you on.
  7. Accomplish your goal and celebrate!

Setting values driven goals is a discipline that pays off!  Make sure to give it a try and guaranteed, you will experience increased fulfillment in your life.

 

Living Life Without Regrets

 

I once read a quote (author unknown) that I often think about:

“As you climb the ladder of success, be sure it’s leaning against the right building.”

I love the metaphor of climbing the ladder because it speaks to me about the commitment and effort it takes to be successful. To get to where you want to go, hard work and sacrifices are required!

Yet the reality is that when life becomes all about doing and achieving, and you loose sight of the most important things— family, friends, significant other, personal growth, enjoyment, health— your values, is it worth it?  At the end of your life, is this something you might regret?

Let me tell you a story that impacted my life…

Several years ago when my dad was in hospice, there was a particular incident that I remember that I will never forget. Life experiences impact and teach us many lessons in life.

My Dad was diagnosed with cancer, and when it came to the final chapter of his life, I spent many hours with him at the hospice.   He had amazing care and Dad being quite social, preferred to leave his door in his room open.   Noticing activity in the hallway was a regular occurrence that often helped pass time.

There was a common occurrence that happened every few days, where there were two men in business suits who came to visit a man across the hallway.  I couldn’t help but be curious who these men were.  Dressed in such fine attire —who were they in relationship to him?  It made me wonder if he did not have family or any other friends.

My Dad’s situation was quite different.   Surrounded by family and friends on a regular basis, he was supported with such love and care.  His room was often loud with laughter as people visited and shared stories about the events of his life.

It was one late evening when I was alone with Dad, that a sad thing happened.  Dad had fallen asleep and as I went to close the door, I saw the undertaker walking down the hallway carrying a large black bag across his shoulder.  The “man” had passed away.  There were no more visitors coming and the room was now empty.

It wasn’t long after that my Dad passed away too.

Loss of a loved one has an impact!

This was my first experience of loosing someone that I loved and it was not easy.  It was a very difficult journey!

Yet this experience impacted me in a powerful way as time gently healed the pain.  Experiences  like this are life changing.  I realized how when you loose someone—things change, you change, and as a result you look at the world in a whole new way.

It is now that I often ponder–

  • Do I live a life without regret?  
  • Am I climbing the ladder that represents my values of success?

These questions open a world of discovery and help me reflect on what is most important and think about the legacy I want to leave behind.

It doesn’t have to take a difficult experience  to reflect on living a life without regret.   Are you living the life that you most want and are you living your life without regret?

A life well lived is a life that is examined.  Pondering questions that inspire us to live our biggest life is something we will not regret!

 

 

Leadership is attractive

Have you ever been around someone whose energy mesmerized you?

These are the people we are all attracted to.  They are the individuals we want to marry, hangout with, hire, and incorporate into our lives.

Why is it these people are so attractive?  Yes they often are charismatic, are inspiring, optimistic and passionate about life.  Their energy is infectious and is contagious and they make an impact in our lives!

Imagine the “power house effect” when a group of these individuals unite.  There’s a quote by Margaret Mead shines light on this—

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Committed people/leaders change lives!

 

Do you consider yourself to be a passionate leader?

Maybe you are thinking— A leader, who me?

Leadership is in the heart of every human being. You may not see yourself as a leader, yet in reality, you are.  We are all leaders-– whether we are leading our families, taking responsibility for our relationships, running a business or an organization, or simply leading our own lives.

When we lead with passion, we feel inspired.

Optimism, motivation and inspiration spring from a place of passion and purpose.  This powerful energy flows through us like a conduit that ignites others and contagiously infects the world around us.  Passionate people make an impact!

BE THE POWERFUL LEADER THAT YOU ARE:

  • Be authentic
  • Be a role-model
  • Live your values
  • Show empathy to the world around you
  • Fill your tank – Find ways to be motivated and inspired
  • Connect to others for encouragement and support

As you do, you will naturally impact the world and attract like-minded people who are passionate and committed to living life as you are!

Good or Bad, Habits Always Deliver Results

Written by Jack Canfield

You are an accumulation of your habits. From how you get out of bed, how you shower, how you dress, how you walk, sit, and talk, how you respond to the world, how you act in front of others, and how you think; you’re living out your habits.

Habits are necessary.

They free up your mind so you can concentrate on how to survive day to day. You don’t have to think about how to drive your car so you can be on the lookout for danger while you are driving. You don’t have to think about how to walk so you can concentrate on where you’re going.

Unfortunately, habits can also keep you locked in self-destructive patterns, which will limit your success.

Is there something you want to accomplish in life that requires you to up-level your game? Whatever it is that you want to achieve, you will need to drop those bad habits that are lead to a dead-end and develop new ones that are in alignment with the life you want to live.

People don’t suddenly appear in the life they want to live… their habits play a large part in determining their outcome.

What are the habits you have that are keeping you from achieving your goals?

Really be honest with yourself here…

Are you always running late? Do you return phone calls within 24 hours? Do you get enough sleep? Do you follow through on your promises? Do you plan out your day?

Imagine what your life would be like if all your habits were their productive counterparts!

What would your life be like if you ate healthy meals, exercised and got enough sleep?

What if you saved your money, stopped using credit cards and paid cash for everything?

What if you stopped procrastinating, overcame your fears, and began networking with people in your field?

Would your life be different? I bet it would!

So, my suggested action step for you is to write down some productive habits you could adopt and visualize in your life.

Step two is to ‘act as if’ you were living these new habits right now!

I’d like to help you get moving toward creating more successful habits, so I’d recommend you develop four of your new success habits each year, one for each quarter.

Once you pick the new habit you’re ready to adopt, next you’ll want to create a method that will support your new habit.

Here are some ideas… You could write it down on a card that you keep with you and read several times a day. You could make it a part of your daily visualization. You could also enlist the help of an accountability partner who has habits to change, or work with a personal coach who can keep you on track.

It’s important to make a 100% commitment to your new habit, so be specific about the steps that you’re willing to take in order to drop an old habit and adopt a new one. Don’t be vague about how you will change your habits. Spell it out for yourself so you can recognize situations that motivate you to act out your new habit.

Just developing four new habits a year will dramatically shift your life to be more in line with your vision. And the more in line it becomes, the easier the other habits are to replace because your perspective is shifting and you can see more clearly how your old habits aren’t serving you anymore.

Make the decision. Make the commitment. Then watch your new, positive life unfold!

 

Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success.

What Drives Entrepreneurs to Win

What Drives Entrepreneurs to Win

Gallup uncovers the motivations, perceptions, and behaviors that

propel these exceptional businesspeople

by Sangeeta Badal and Joe Streur

 

We can thank entrepreneurs for much of the success of the global economy over the past half century. And if we’re going to emerge from the worldwide economic slump, entrepreneurs will lead the way.

Most leaders and policymakers don’t have a clue about what makes entrepreneurs successful.

These driven, creative individuals know plenty about battling adversity. They’ve overcome infrastructure and regulatory hurdles to start their businesses. Often, they’ve fulfilled an unsatisfied demand and, in many cases, actually built demand by introducing new products to the market.

But despite all that entrepreneurs have contributed to the global economy and to wellbeing and human development worldwide, most leaders and policymakers don’t have a clue about what makes them successful or how to help them thrive. In the U.S., for example, nearly half of all jobs are in the small-business sector, and small businesses accounted for 65% of the net new jobs created between 1993 and 2009. Yet fewer than half of new American businesses survive their first five years.

To drive startups, the U.S. and other countries have created an infrastructure of incubators and coaching programs to support entrepreneurs and spur business growth. Though these programs are useful and necessary, they often overlook a key element in a new enterprise’s success: the innate talents that successful entrepreneurs bring to the task of building a business.

The process of entrepreneurship

Because entrepreneurship is vital to the global economy, Gallup scientifically studied entrepreneurs and the role of human motivations, perceptions, and behaviors in explaining entrepreneurial decision making. We started by studying how successful entrepreneurs behave and the activities they engage in to drive new venture creation or business growth. Focusing on the task or the process of entrepreneurship helps identify the innate talents that are most relevant to success.

Most current models of the entrepreneurial process propose a standard sequence of events, starting with opportunity recognition, resource acquisition, venture creation, and finally business expansion and growth. This sequence of events covers two developmental phases in the life cycle of a venture.

The first phase is the early or new business stage (entrepreneurial startup or firm less than three years old), which is characterized by innovation and creativity, a high sense of mission, short-term orientation, minimal hierarchy, and an autocratic management style. Entrepreneurs must be able to perform multiple roles, live with ambiguity, and develop an idea very quickly.

“I look out and I see opportunity,” says Shawn Macken, president and cofounder of Edge Technologies, LLC, which creates and sells a health and wellness dashboard system. “My first client was someone I knew through networking. He came to me and said, ‘Do you think you can do something for me?’ Sure. That’s my answer! I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but we’re going to do it.”

The second or formalized/structured phase (entrepreneurial stability, firm three or more years old) is characterized by an emphasis on service, a slower rate of innovation, decentralized decision making, institutionalized procedures, functional specialization, and a team approach to problem solving. In this phase, the entrepreneur’s focus shifts from high creativity, ideation, and basic planning to managing a more mature company with a larger workforce. The entrepreneur must be able to delegate power and take a team-based approach to running the company.

“If we want to go to a $15 [million] or a $150 million company, we have to expand our vision,” says Tom Long, president of ISI Technologies, which creates sales messaging solutions for companies. “We aren’t just a family company anymore, so we’re bringing everybody along on those kinds of decisions. And [my business partner] Bob is a big part of that.”

Each phase has its own demands, and the entrepreneur must perform a specific set of tasks to be successful in each phase. Many of the activities performed in the first phase continue to be important during the second phase. For instance, cultivating relationships is critical to access resources to start a venture, but successful entrepreneurs must keep building relationships in the later phase to further their business goals. The relative significance of each demand may vary from one phase to the other, but there often is a carry-over effect.

The demands of entrepreneurship

Though the activities that successful entrepreneurs must perform change over time, Gallup research shows that there are 10 functional demands that are enduring and universal. These demands encapsulate the tasks of entrepreneurship and are highly correlated with both business creation and business success. They also measure an individual’s ability to perform in the role of entrepreneur.

A person’s inherent talent and acquired ability (skills, knowledge, and experience) will influence how successfully and by what means he or she responds to the demands of the role. These demands require a behavioral response from the entrepreneur, which is framed by the individual’s dispositions and traits. Usually, the more prevalent the trait, the higher the likelihood that the demand will be met, resulting in better performance in the role. (See sidebar “The 10 Demands of Successful Entrepreneurs.”)

Different entrepreneurs bring different strengths to the role; some may be highly creative and competent but low on focus and relationship building. Others may be astute business thinkers but have problems delegating. Often, the gaps in ability to meet a certain demand can be filled by acquiring skills or knowledge or by establishing partnerships with others who have complementary talents, thus enabling the entrepreneur to meet the demands of the role.

“My partner and I saw things differently. He was looking more at building something for the future, while I was looking more at profitability,” says Bob Harris, Tom Long’s partner at ISI Technologies. This is precisely why Long brought him into the company, and it was a smart move. Each partner was focused on meeting a crucial demand of the business — one on developing products and the other on ensuring profitability. Understanding how to meet the different demands of entrepreneurship by forming a complementary relationship has helped the business overcome hurdles and grow. “Bob is exactly the right person, and his talents are exactly what we need,” Long says.

Success or failure

Startups that are growing rapidly demand long hours of work and high levels of energy and stamina.

In his book The Coming Jobs War, Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton calls entrepreneurship the “scarcest, rarest, hardest energy and talent in the world to find.” Not enough people, or countries, understand who entrepreneurs are or how to develop them. Most leaders tend to overlook the entrepreneur when they discuss the factors behind the success or failure of an enterprise.

This ignorance is unhealthy and unproductive, because ultimately, it takes people to drive entrepreneurial activity — men and women who bring resources together to create new products and services. But personal characteristics and psychological factors play a crucial role in business success or failure. Those factors must be recognized, understood, and maximized if entrepreneurs are to succeed.

The 10 Demands of Successful Entrepreneurs

1. Know your personal brand. Entrepreneurs must interact effectively with others. Successful entrepreneurs know themselves well and can perceive others accurately.

Having strong talent in this domain enables entrepreneurs to connect and interact with employees, customers, suppliers, and investors in a way that results in positive business outcomes. This demand is relevant when the business is established and entrepreneurs are likely to conduct negotiations, influence others, and motivate employees.

2. Take on challenges. There is an inherent risk involved in venture creation. Entrepreneurs must constantly make decisions in complex situations and often operate without complete knowledge of the factors that could positively or negatively affect their ventures. Moreover, most businesses are created with scarce resources, high uncertainty, and ambiguity. These conditions would deter most people from taking on the task of starting or growing a venture.

Entrepreneurs with strong talent in this domain stretch themselves, raise the bar, face their fears, and are willing to experiment. They resist constraints and have an overly optimistic perception of the risk involved. They are willing to seek out challenges and take the risks associated with venture creation and growth. This demand is most relevant in the early stage of business creation.

3. Think through possibilities and practicalities. Entrepreneurs must be creative and think beyond the boundaries of what exists. High scores in this domain lead entrepreneurs to stretch their imagination while absorbing existing facts to blend the present with the future.

Successful entrepreneurs take an existing idea or product and turn it into something better by looking at it with fresh eyes. Their creative minds typically fire with many different ideas. This demand is more relevant in the early stage, but its relevance continues into the later phase of the business life cycle.

4. Promote the business. Successful entrepreneurs are their own best spokespeople. Strong talent in this domain makes it easy for them to persuade others. This enables them to convey a clear and compelling message that promotes their point of view and their business. This demand is relevant in the early and the established stages of business.

5. Focus on business outcomes. Running a business requires focus. Profit orientation is a spontaneous, moment-to-moment mental activity. Highly successful entrepreneurs judge decisions as good or bad based on their observed or anticipated effect on profit. Successful business-focused entrepreneurs set goals and live by their commitment to them.

Entrepreneurs with high business focus set goals that are important to their business and that they can objectively measure. This demand is relevant in the early and the established stages of business.

6. Be a perpetual student of the business. Successful entrepreneurs are ongoing and active students who are preoccupied with their business and constantly seeking knowledge to grow their venture. This obsession is crucial to ensure business survival. Continually gaining input and acquiring the knowledge and skills required to grow the business are essential to an entrepreneur’s success. This demand is specifically relevant in the established stage of business.

7. Be self-reliant. In the early stage of business creation, entrepreneurs often fill multiple roles to address the needs of a startup. Successful entrepreneurs are prepared to do whatever must be done to see the business succeed. This demands high levels of self-reliance.

Though it takes many people to grow a successful venture, an entrepreneur’s sense of responsibility and levels of competence play a critical role in the early stage of venture creation. A word of caution: Entrepreneurs need self-reliance in the early stage of business development. But entrepreneurs who cannot contemplate a shift in style from self-reliance to delegation may ultimately hamper the growth of their business.

8. Be a self-starter. Startups and businesses that are growing rapidly demand long hours of work and high levels of energy and stamina. Successful entrepreneurs are passionate doers who push to make things happen. They show initiative and possess an enduring sense of urgency because there is never enough time to do it all. They see opportunity where others see roadblocks. This demand is relevant in the early and the established stages of business development.

9. Multiply yourself through delegation. As businesses grow, the autocratic, unilateral decision-making style of early-stage entrepreneurs must change into one in which the entrepreneurs delegate authority and take on the role of a team manager. Norman R. Smith and John B. Miner (1983) suggest that the transition point is around 30 employees and $750,000 in assets.

Entrepreneurs who are successful in leading their enterprises to the established stage recognize that they cannot do everything themselves. They are willing and able to contemplate a shift in style and control, thus accelerating the growth of the firm. This demand is specifically relevant in the established stage.

10. Build relationships. Starting or growing a business involves interacting with many people. An entrepreneur may be the originator of the idea, but almost immediately, he or she must interact with others to secure resources, engage with potential customers and suppliers, or hire and manage employees. The ability to build strong relationships is crucial for survival and growth.

Successful entrepreneurs are adept at building relationships. They have strong social awareness and can attract and maintain a constituency. The enthusiasm and positivity of strong relationship builders make it easier for others to interact with them. These entrepreneurs also have high standards of personal conduct that enable others to trust them and form strong relationships with them. This demand is relevant in the early and established stages.

 

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