Monthly Archives: February 2019

The 10 Soft Skills of Leadership

Category : Communication , Success

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Everyone is a leader in some fashion in their life. People are first and foremost leaders of themselves. Parents are leaders, students can be leaders, some are leaders in community organizations and some in business. Leaders are everywhere. Leadership is really the art of influence and we all have influence over others in one way or another.

Leadership also requires skill development to be effective, particularly soft skills. The Center for Creative Leadership lists the  10 Soft Skills necessary for good leadership.

Self Awareness

“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?”– Marcus Aurelius

Before a leader can be aware of others, she first needs to hone her own self-awareness. This means getting an accurate picture of all (to best of her ability) strengths and weakness). It is certainly not an easy task to look at oneself objectively, but it is very important for the leader in any organization or group, big or small. Awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses requires a big dose of humility and willingness to learn.

Learning Agility

“Learning agility is the willingness and ability to learn, de-learn, and relearn. Limitations on learning are barriers invented by humans.”
Pearl Zhu, Digital Capability: Building Lego Like Capability Into Business Competency

Learning agility is really the qualities of being flexible and open-minded. We certainly do not know everything, nor should we try to or pretend to. There is a wealth of information and experience around us, and tapping into other people’s experience can catapult our knowledge in ways that learning from our own experience could never do. We will never live long enough to learn from all of our mistakes and teachable moments, so why not borrow the wisdom from the experience of others.

The best way to gather knowledge from the experience of others, past and present is through reading books, listening to those with more experience and associating with people with the experience and knowledge we seek.

Emotional Intelligence

75 percent of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including the inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.  -Center for Creative Leadership

Emotional intelligence refers to our ability to have control over our emotional responses. In the heat of frustration or anger, it can mean taking a step back and evaluating the situation rather than react automatically. Our natural human impulse is the fight or flight response. When things don’t go as planned or when there is a sudden crisis, we tend to panic. But we all know that panic is not a good problem resolving strategy. So, what to do?

Pause. Taking a deep breath and pausing, even for a few seconds can help us to think clearly and not lose our head over the situation and to not make rash decisions that we might regret later. Steven Covey said: “Between stimulus and response there is a choice”.

Ask. What would be the right and most beneficial response right now to this situation? For, example, if we are considering criticizing or reprimanding someone, we can ask ourselves if it is worth it to do so or whether there is another option. How will we feel down the road (days, weeks or months) as a result of our response today? Is it worth it to speak or let it go?

Resiliency

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

― Margaret Thatcher

Resiliency refers to our ability to bounce back from a setback or a failure and carry on and considered essential to achieving success in any area of life. It is our ability to live life and not have life live us. It is the ability to see the setbacks and the gut shots of life as teachable moments and events. Here are some of the characteristics ( and mindsets) of resilient people:

Resilient people choose to focus their time an energy on what the have control over rather than on what they have no control over. They focus on areas where they can have the most impact.

Resilient people view difficulties as challenges and failures as lessons. Like Thomas Edison, they get back up each time and learn the lesson.

Resilient people are committed to their lives and the relationships in their lives. They are committed to their dreams and goals which are usually not separate from the important people in their lives.

Building Relationships at All Levels

“Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows.”–Ben Stein

This skill is a very important skill to have in the world of leadership, in organizations and anywhere people are involved. It is the ability to find common ground with a whole variety of people, personalities, backgrounds, and beliefs. It is the ability to break down walls and build up bridges where there were previously chasms.

Building leadership relationships involves connecting with people where they are and not where we may want them to be. It is about being a good conversationalist and being truly interested in the person directly in front of us with no other agenda but to relate with them. Connecting involves listening far more than speaking and hearing their stories. A skilled leader will put others first, listen to their story and “seek first to understand” (Steven Covey).

Political Savvy

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want” Zig Ziglar

Political savvy is not so much about politicking and discussing the politics of an organization as it is about building relationships – connecting meaningfully. It is the skill of being able to meet people, find common interests, and connect people with other people. Political savviness also includes the ability to “read a room” – read the situation, understand the undertones of the atmosphere, “read people ” and read between the lines of what is said and done. It is a skill that requires acute observation abilities and a thorough understanding of people.

Having political savviness is also the skill of knowing when to speak and when to listen. It is the leader’s ability to communicate truth with grace without compromising integrity. This skill allows the leader to be aggressive in love and humble when dishing out the truth while allowing people to make mistakes and providing them a safe environment to learn and grow. Ultimately, it is the skill of being able to find the “sweet spot” in dealing with people.

Motivating and Enjoying Others

“Dreaming about something is not enough, you have to be able to share that dream and get others to work with you to achieve it” – Claudio Lucero Leader of the first South American team to reach the summit of Mount Everest

Effective leaders are skilled at identifying what people want and helping them get it. They are in tune with the needs of others and ask questions to discover a person’s “why” because until we discover what motivates, what drives a person, it is impossible to externally motivate them. Leaders are not cheerleaders in the “Hip! Hip! Hooray” sense, but they do cheer people on in helping them reach their goals and dreams.

Motivating should never be about pulling teeth but about coming alongside a person and joining with them in their quest. Generally, there are two things that will motivate people:

  1. Pursuing something they would absolutely love to do, be or have.
  2. Trying to get out of circumstances that they absolutely hate being in.

So motivation is all about helping a person change what needs to be changed in order to do, be or have what it is they are chasing. Of course, a leader needs to be worthy of following. Why would someone follow someone who is unable to lead? A leader needs to be both competent (in his field) and have the character (integrity and courage) to lead. It is all about trust. Does the person or do the people you are leading trust you to lead or are you just out for a walk (which is what a leader without followers is)?

Building and Leading Effective Teams

“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” – Ken Kesey

Healthy and productive teams no matter what the size and what the context are built on the solid foundation of trust. The team members also need to know why they are there, where they are going, how they are going to get there as well as be able to measure their progress. Any sports team knows what the name of the game is. The members know the rules, they know the play and they know the scoreboard. So gaining the team members trust is important and is earned when the leader is competent and exhibits integrity and courage in addition to having a vision for the team.

When the team members “buy into” the vision and understand the game, the play and how to score, the leader can build a solid team with everyone working to the same goal. Ziya Boyacigiller, an entrepreneur in the United Staes and Turkey highlighted that it is important to “get others to believe so strongly in the vision that they are transformed into followers who are not afraid to follow”.

Creating A Culture of Trust and Respect

You can not follow someone who isn’t credible, who doesn’t truly believe in what they’re doing – Gayle Hamilton, chief of staff for the vice president, Pacific, Gas, and Electric

A culture of trust and respect in a family, a small or large group or organization needs to first have a leader who, by his actions, and competency, reflects these qualities. According to the most often chosen qualities in the “Characteristics of Admired Leaders”, three stand out: honest, competent, and inspiring (p.16 Credibility by James M.Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner)  No organization will follow someone whom they can not trust, whom they do not respect or whom they do not believe is competent to get them anywhere.  To create this kind of culture, there must be a direction, a vision, and a strategy. Everyone must be traveling along the same current.

It is the leader’s job to set the pace, to map out the territory, to make the tracks everyone else is going to follow. It doesn’t much matter if it hasn’t been done before (new territory); what matters is that the leader is willing to put himself on the line and lead the way (sometimes from in front and sometimes from behind). The members of the organization need to know that the leader has their back, that he supports them and will stand by them.

Communication

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy

Nothing significant happens without effective communication. Leadership is founded on communication. But how we communicate is far more important than what we say.  It is a skill that requires being other-centered. Here are key elements of quality communication

  1. Pause 

Pausing before responding gives you time to reflect on what was said and gives the added benefit of showing the other person that you are considering their words.

2. Be Trustworthy and Honest 

Trust and honesty are two qualities that are increasingly difficult to find today. If we are consistently known as someone whose word and actions can be trusted, it is far easier to have fruitful communication with others.

3. Take the Time to Communicate

It has been said that communication is an art and that seems to be very true. It is not to be rushed and will bring about better results when we invest the time to communicate in a meaningful way. Leadership focuses on building up relationships through communication.

4. Tailor Ideas to Others

To communicate effectively, leaders need to have a good understanding of what the other person understands. having this foundation helps them to eliminate misunderstandings and prevents them from arriving at false conclusions. A good leader gets on “the other side of the table”, so to speak and converses from the same perspective.

5. Be Present

Leadership requires that we focus on what people are saying to us. We are there 100 percent with them, not distracted by our thoughts of what we want to say (respond) or what we could be doing instead. Being present lets the other person know that what they have to say matters.

6. Be Attentive to Non-Verbal Language

Understanding body language cues (facial expressions, gestures, and body movements) help us to better perceive the message of the other person and give them a better understanding of what we are saying. It is an ally in effective communication.

7. Seek First to Understand

Steven Covey coined this phrase as a step to facilitate communication. This important step helps us to see the other’s point of view – how they understand things. so that we can understand the situation more clearly.

The Takeaway

Like anything important, leadership requires good information, learning and practice. These soft skills are skills that can take relationships from rocky to rocking.  They reflect who we are, how we think about ourselves and others. they are all a crucial foundation for relationship building and transformation.

Related Posts

How to Deal With Difficult People

Why Speed of Trust Matters For Business

Success:- When the Tough Get Going

10 Important Tips to Improve Communication

Why Boundaries Matter and How to Set Them

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Diana Lynne

 

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The Why and How of Happiness

Category : Life Tips

“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” – Dale Carnegie

“I just want to be happy.” Who has not heard someone say this? Who has not thought that the right circumstance, words, or person will make us happy?  Happiness sometimes seems to live just on the other side…usually on the side where the neighbors live or that one person for whom everything seems to go just right. You know the people I’m talking about –  the friend who always seems to have a great job, got the A’s in school, is always popular, the neighbours who seem to have it all together- perfect kids, nice house, stellar marriage, great vacations to exotic places or the people for whom there is no problem in the world and who just roll through life on a cloud.

 

The key to being happy is just to actually choose to be happy. Be happy with ourselves and with others around us. Happiness and likability go hand in hand.
When happiness goes around, comes back around in much greater measure. Anne Frank wrote ” Whoever is happy will make others happy” and that is so true. Often people will look to external things and people to bring them happiness. It seems that for them happiness can be found in buying that new car or house or even winning the lottery. Some people expect others to somehow fill their happiness tank. But we can not expect happiness; we need to choose it. We simply need to be happy.
When happiness goes around, comes back around in much greater measure. Anne Frank wrote ” Whoever is happy will make others happy” and that is so true. Often people will look to external things and people to bring them happiness. It seems that for them happiness can be found in buying that new car or house or even winning the lottery. Some people expect others to somehow fill their happiness tank. But we can not expect happiness; we need to choose it. We simply need to be happy.
A great obstacle to happiness is to expect too much happiness.” – Bernard de Fontelle
For me, happiness is found in the present. Each morning will come with its own set of problems and frustrations, but, by being proactive on a daily basis and adopting an ongoing course of action and developing a positive mindset, we can navigate the hazardous waters of life. There are many ways we can equip ourselves to be happy. Here are 8 ideas to begin a new path of Intentional Happiness.
 

Master Social Skills

Mastering social skills can make a huge difference in how we connect with ourselves and everyone around us as well as equips us to handle adversarial situations with grace. Skills such as asking open-ended questions, measuring our methods of communication and putting ourselves in the “shoes” of other people will draw people closer to us. They will naturally want to be around someone who makes them feel important and good about themselves.
Sometimes we are fearful of approaching people and talking to them because we are afraid of how we will be perceived. Sometimes we are afraid to bring up crucial talking points because of the fear of retaliation or defensiveness. But if we realize that everyone generally has the same fears, it is easier to overcome our own and just be ourselves. The benefits of developing healthy social are, among others:
  • Increased confidence
  • Better communication with others
  • New and better career opportunities
  • New friendships and relationships
  • Less time wasting with negative associations
  • Improved physical health
  • Increased earning potential
  • Better networking skills

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” —Robert Brault

 Practice Gratitude

In a world where there is a so much complaining about rights and receiving what is due, having an attitude of gratitude as a lifestyle is refreshingly welcome. Gratitude, by its rarity, stands out like a beautiful flower in a garden filled with thorns. Being grateful for what we have can also simplify our life since we begin to desire much less and not get caught up in consumerism and busyness. Benefits of gratitude:
  • Better emotional health
  • Better mental health
  • Better physical health
  • People like us more
  • We are less self-centered
  • We are more optimistic
  • We are less focused on material possessions
  • We are more excited about exercising
  • Improves our career opportunities
Now is the only time we have, and the only time that we have any control over.”
Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuf

Live in the Present

There is nothing like the present. In fact, the only thing we have is the present. All too often we live with one foot in our past and the other foot in the present while worrying about the future. We can not change what is past and we do ourselves wrong by using it as an excuse or a crutch. We also have no control over the future, for tomorrow is not guaranteed. Since we can not control what will happen, we also shouldn’t worry about it. Worrying and fretting about possibilities will only rob us of our peace. Benefits of living in the present:

  • Helps us to focus and concentrate
  • Increases our productivity
  • Reduces sleep problems
  • Reduces destructive ways of thinking
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Gives us a positive outlook on life

“Even when all is known, the care of a man is not yet complete, because eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise. For food and exercise, while possessing opposite qualities, yet work together to produce health.” Hippocrates

Exercise Regularly

So much has already been said on the benefits of regular exercise that it would be difficult to add anything more. I will just say this: I think exercise should be viewed in the context of an active lifestyle as integral and not added on.to an already busy life. It should be fun and satisfying and something to look forward to and not something that we dread doing and only do because it is “good for us”. Benefits of exercise:

  • Make it fun; do something you enjoy
  • Be realistic and give yourself time
  • Give yourself rewards for “sticking to it”
  • Make exercise a social event-exercise with a group
  • Work exercise into your daily life (walk to work, household chores)
  • Don’t listen to your excuses (too busy, too tired)
  • Think of the benefits you will gain
“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler

Associate with Positive People

It is beneficial and healthy to get around people who know how to cultivate their own happiness. These people can help you to see the world differently. We tend to become like those with whom we spend the most time, so we should consider spending time around positive and inspiring people, people who have dreams, goals, and who don’t themselves or life seriously. Benefits of positive association:
  • For inspiration
  • For support
  • For laughter
  • For good advice
  • For adventure
  • For a positive influence
  • For a positive outlook

    “Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” — Joshua Marine

Adopt a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset recognizes that there will be challenges and also, that with the right information and desire, these challenges can be met and overcome. Humans are always learning and growing. the question is, what are we learning and how are we growing? Are we learning destructive patterns? Are we going backward or are we improving and moving forward? A growth mindset is really being intentional about becoming better each day. Benefits of a growth mindset:

  • Believe that you can
  • Embrace failure as your teacher
  • Build existing skills and learn new ones
  • Get around people with a growth mindset
  • Don’t listen to the “naysayers”
  • Stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself
  • Read inspiring books

“Without service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop.” Dr. Dorothy Height

Serve Others

Since we live in a world full of people, there are certainly more than enough people to serve. We can serve in many ways. For example, we can serve our colleagues at work by offering to help them with a task they are struggling with. we can serve friends by being there when they need someone to talk to. Serving others is really about putting other’s needs ahead of our own and being there when they need us. Benefits of serving others:

  • Influences others and impacts them to serve as well
  • Adds purpose to our life
  • Gives us an emotional and mental boost
  • Decreases stress
  • Connects us to a community
  • Increases our lifespan

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
– Harriet Tubman

 Act on your Dreams and Goals

If we don’t act on our dreams and pursue our goals, no one is going to do it for us. Life will still go on and one day, time will run out for us. We all have things we would like to do and accomplish, but too often we put these on the back burner of our overly busy lives and hope that one day we will eventually get around to doing them. The time is now. Tomorrow is not given. Benefits of acting on our dreams and goals;

  • Time will pass anyway whether you do or whether you don’t
  • No one is going to achieve your dreams or set your goals for you
  • There is a reason we have dreams of what we want to to do or accomplish
  • Our dreams and goals are what keep us alive
  • A goal is a dream with a deadline and this makes it achievable
  • Acting on our dreams is an act of self-love

The Takeaway

Happiness and likability are the results of being intentional about how we choose to relate to ourselves and others. We are responsible for our own happiness and for being a likable person. We can not feel sorry for ourselves or blame the world for being unhappy or not having any friends. It all comes down to the choices we make such as; honing social skills, being thankful for what we have, living in the present, being around people who are positive, learning and growing and serving those around us. We are who we choose to be.

Have a great day!

Related Posts

What Is the Happiness Factor?

Why Attitude Really Is Everything

We Don’t Have All the Time in the World

12 Simple Daily Habits to Change Your Life

10 Important Tips to Improve Communication

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Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with friends and being with her dog, Skye. You can connect with her through livingandstuff.ca
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Take a Risk – Be Courageous

Category : Life Tips , Success

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. – Hellen Keller

Risk: An Anatomy

Life is always risky. Let’s just put that on the table. There is nothing safe about it and none of us are getting out of life alive. Every day, from the minute we step out of bed, and sometimes before, we are taking a risk. Maybe we will sprain an ankle or fall on the floor – not wishing this on anyone, just saying. We never know what each day will bring. We can try to play it safe and not take any risks but in the end, we will always encounter risk. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

We like safety, but, at the same time, we don’t like being safe for too long. Risk can be adventurous, pump our adrenalin and put us into first gear. It can be thrilling and exhilarating, especially if we have chosen it and prepared well. Safety is okay for a while, but it can get boring and we long for new challenges, something that will take us out of our comfort zone or apathy.  We don’t do well staying in the safe zone for any great length of time. Naturally, we need challenges and enjoy stepping into unknown territory even it is for a short time.  don’t believe we were born to “play it safe.”

A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – William G.T. Shedd

So, what does risk mean? Well, that depends. on how we define risk. Just about anything can be considered a risk  Our perception of risk can depend on the information we take in and the source and quality of this information. It can depend on our frame of reference based on our experience from the past. It can also depend on whether we feel we are in control of the outcome or not. There are many factors that can determine how we evaluate what a risk is and what it is not. And it depends on what we know or do not know and how we feel about what we do or do not know. In the end, we don’t know what we don’t know and most of what we think we know, might not even be so.

I would say, though, that probably the most significant determining factor is whether we feel that we have some control in undertaking the risk and in its outcome. We want to feel that our efforts, our intelligence, and our understanding are instrumental in managing the risk.  For example, when we are the passenger in a car and not the driver, we are largely dependant on the driver’s ability to manage risk and on the other drivers (on the road) to drive responsibly. As a passenger, all we can do is hope they are all doing a good job. As a driver, we can manage the risk and take necessary precautions (such as leaving early enough) to minimize potential risks.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Currie

Face the Fear with Courage

Let’s face it; we are surrounded and bombarded by informational fear mongering these days.  Not a day goes by when the news media (if we choose to listen to them) will not tell us how much danger we are in because of some outbreak or some catastrophe. And to get ratings, the media will puff up the stories and put them on instant replay so that we can watch catastrophe and calamity again and again from the comfort of our home.  If that were all we listened to day after day, I think we would all be seriously depressed and living in fear, convinced that calamity was just around the corner.

So, let’s put it all into perspective. There are events and there are our reactions to events.  There are risks, and there are our perceptions of risk. There is knowledge and there is ignorance. There is confidence and there is fear. Fear is only an emotion, nothing more. We tend to have overactive imaginations and build up scenarios in our minds and also tend to blur the lines between reality and our imagination because our emotions go into overdrive. Risks are only possibilities- what could happen, but also what may not ever happen.

“Fear is often described as False Evidence Appearing Real.” -Nick Vujicic

At its base, fear is an instinctual emotion meant to protect us from danger, but it is an emotion that can easily get out of control, and paralyze us from doing anything. When we allow our imagination to warn us of all that could possibly go wrong (all the “what ifs”), then we won’t want to do anything or go anywhere. We may as well watch the world and life go by from the comfort of our couch. We will be afraid to travel (what if the pilot falls asleep or the plane runs out of fuel?), afraid to go for an interview (what if they reject me?),  afraid to start a business (what if it goes bust?). Our imagination can be our best friend or our worst enemy.

Risk: It’s All Relative

Risk and the level of risk really is dependant on our ability to foresee possible events and outcomes, eliminate possible risk factors and manage situations ahead of time and during an event or activity. And, maybe a risk isn’t a risk at all (don’t quote me on this, it’s just a reflection). Maybe what we call a risk flows from not using common sense in a given situation, from thinking short term and not long term, from not learning from the past and applying it to the present and the future. Maybe wisdom is what we need and not gates. Maybe facts and not opinions will serve us better. And maybe confidence instead of fear will turn a risk into an adventure.

“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.”– Denis Waitley

Take a Risk – Be Courageous

A chance is an opportunity, an open door. Sure, things can go wrong and things can go right. We may lose and we may win. We may fall and we may rise. The word risk seems slightly negative, suggesting that things may and could go wrong. A chance sounds more like a gift – a possibility to do something new. A chance suggests that we might benefit from the opportunity and that it might not be there for very long. One thing is clear: either way, chance or risk, there is uncertainty and we may never know what could have been if we play it safe. If we live in the safety zone, we may never know the adventure zone.

There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask ‘What if I fall?’

Oh but my darling,

What if you fly?”

– Erin Hanson

Time to Fly and Ignore the Naysayers 

They will always be among us – those who see doom and gloom in every event and around every corner. They are quick to say “Be careful, don’t you know…”, Don’t go there, don’t do that and whatever you do, watch out.” Chicken Little (poor thing) always worried that the sky would fall one day and, come to think of it, so did the Gauls in the Asterix Adventures. But take note, Asterix, the deceptively small warrior, was always on the lookout for and ready to take on dangerous missions.

The gloom and doom group never go anywhere or do anything of significance, do they?  They are quick to point out what is going wrong in the world and what could possibly happen and never allow themselves the opportunity to taste. And then there is the committee of “they” – “they say it’s not safe”, “they say it’s not a good idea”, “they say it’s risky.” They ask “what if you fail, what if it doesn’t work out”? Does anyone actually know who “they” are?

So What If You Fail?

Risk taking also carries with it the inherent possibility of failure.”What if I fail”? you may ask. And what if you do? Failure isn’t a life sentence; it is a temporary situation. Preparing mentally and physically for failure and expecting obstacles and setbacks not only helps you to get back up on your feet but also helps you to build courage and strength (mental and physical). When we expect that there will be setbacks and that there is a good chance we may fail and maybe fail often, we are less disappointed or discouraged.

No Regrets

A palliative nurse (Bronnie Ware) from Australia, revealed the 5 most common regrets her patients in the last days of their lives had. Looking at each one of them, I can’t help but notice that they implicitly spoke of a lack of courage on their part (regretfully). What if they had had the courage to be themselves, to dream more and do more? What if they had had the courage to take a risk and do the things they wanted to do? What if they hadn’t listened to everyone else and not followed the expected path?

Fear keeps us from stepping out and taking risks. Fear holds us back from living authentically. The fear of what others will think of us or what they will say or do keeps us imprisoned. Ultimately, fear robs us of our life.

Here are the top 5 regrets of the dying:

  1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.
  2. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”.
  3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”.
  4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”.
  5. ” I wish I had let myself be happier”.

The Takeaway

And what about us? Is fear holding us back from living authentically? Have we allowed our fears to prevent us from trying something new, from doing something different, from stepping out of the mold and flying our true colors? Are we allowing fear to prevent us from confronting issues or from swallowing our pride and forgiving others? Are we taking emotional risks and reaching out to others? Are we taking a chance? Are we choosing to be happy? Do we give ourselves permission to be happy? Are we allowing fear to get in the way of respecting our priorities? Is the fear of losing our job keeping us away from what is important?

These are important questions to ask. We only have one life and we should be living it fully and courageously. There is no time for hiding behind fear. Be bold and courageous. Say yes to yourself and to what is truly important.

Have a great day!

Related Posts

Overcoming Fear and Leaving the Comfort Zone

5 Ways We Block Our Success

How Belief Will Open Doors

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

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Busyness – The Clock And The Compass

Category : Life Tips

photo credit Andrik Langfield @andriklangfield

You never want to have that ticking clock and know that you had all that time and didn’t use it – J.J Abrams

Tick tock, tick tock. Do you hear the clock? Do you see the minutes pass by one after another? Or do they pass by without you even noticing they were gone? One minute, then another goes by. One hour, then another turns into one day and then a month. Then suddenly a year has gone by.  Tick tock. tick tock. Slowly at first, then faster they go and then we ask “where has all the time gone”? The days, the months and the years become distant memories and all that we have left is the clock – tick tock. Tick tock.

Busy, busy busy, we run from one thing to another – work, appointments, meeting with friends, kids sports, birthday parties, shopping. We have places to go, and people to see and things to do. Who among us does not have more activities and work than time? Who among us would love to have at least one more hour each day? My guess is that we have all earned the right to wear the “Busy Badge and some of us wear it quite proudly. How fast have the last 5 years gone by and how fast do you think the next 5 will go by? All parents can affirm that their kids seem to go from being a baby to being an adolescent in a nanosecond. Time flies quickly by.  Consider:

     Our life is like a flower that grows quickly and then dies away.
    Our life is like a shadow that is here for a short time and then is gone – Job 14:2

It is just hallucinating to see how busy we have all become over the years. There are even entire sections in bookstores filled with books telling us how to “manage our time” or “get more done in less time”. We actually need to learn, these experts say, to master our time, as if the time needed to be mastered. Time knows no master; we can not master time, but we can make the most of it. We are constantly reminded of how we need to get a handle on our activities and our time and technology promises to make our life easier. For instance, now, with our smartphones, we can be “on call” at any time of the day. Life be more convenient but are we really in control?

For sure, smart technology does make a lot of things easier and it does help us to connect with friends, family, and businesses around the world. There is that. We can have digital technology at our fingertips to do just about anything we need to do: send an email, call uberadd money to the parking meter, video chat and so much more. It has allowed us to do amazing things that our ancestors never even dreamed of. We can accomplish so much remotely with our technology, but are we really getting more out of our time? Are we really at an advantage in the big picture?

At the end of the day, is it really about cramming more into a time slot?  Is it really about how much more we can get done in a 24 hour day? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about getting the most out of the time we have rather than trying to fit as much into the time we have as we can?  Somewhere along the line, have we lost track of what life is all about?

The hours of folly are measured by the clock, but of wisdomnno clock can measure – William blake

The Clock Vs The Compass

Leadership author and speaker John Maxwell has written about a concept called the clock versus the compass. He says:

How do we know if what we’re doing really makes a difference? We can’t just look at the clock. We need to conscious of our compass.

Essentially, he says, the clock is what measures our life or what ticks the seconds, minutes and hours of our life away. It measures the passing of each day. The compass is what we use to steer our life and represents the bigger picture: our destiny. John Maxwell says that, when we are younger, we tend to live more by the clock than the compass and as we get older we start to pay more attention to the compass. Ultimately, a balance between the two is important.

The clock is represented by our appointments, commitments, schedules, goals, and activities. It is how we manage our time. The compass represents our vision, values, principles, and mission. It is our direction in life. Both the clock and the compass represent what we believe is important and determine how we live our life.

How many of us have noticed that the gap between what we spend much of our time doing and what we would like to spend our time doing is a factor in the stress and fatigue we feel on a daily basis. The clock dictates our to-do list and the compass is our bucket list and our priorities. At times or even very often we find ourselves in autopilot mode trying to keep up with the clock. We are busy focused but not necessarily destiny-focused.

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter F. Drucker

Where Are We Going?

With all of our busyness, where are we headed? Do we even know? It’s hard to see through the fog, isn’t it? Sometimes it seems like we are going in circles and other times it may seem like we are dashing about in a zigzag pattern. But those of us who have planned an itinerary for a trip know very well, It is important to plan well to arrive at the destination. Where are we going? What’s the plan and what’s the purpose?

A trip planner has to consider factors such as distance, time, and mode of travel.  He has to keep the destination clearly in focus. If the trip is not well planned, time could be wasted, the travelers may get lost and end up somewhere they did not want to be; they could waste a lot of money and time trying to get back on the path. If the wrong mode of travel is chosen, they might not get where they want to go or they might take a long time to get there.

For example, let’s say you want to leave the East coast of The US to travel to Hawaii; it would certainly not make sense to drive up to Canada, then go down to Florida, then across to California. Nor would it make any sense to choose a car as a vehicle of choice since once you hit the California coast you can’t go any further. Similarly, if you think you are in the line to fly to Fiji, but when you get to the counter and discover that you are in the line for Anartica, it’s time to change lines.

And even if you think you have planned well and you have the most efficient mode of travel, if you are going in the wrong direction, you won’t get to where you want to go.

So What’s The Connection with Busyness?

We need to know where we are going and why otherwise we are just spinning our wheels. There needs to be a point to why we are working so hard, running around trying to keep up with meetings and appointments, running from activity to activity and errand to errand, fighting the clock or planning everything around the clock. There needs to be a bigger picture, something we are working toward, something that truly matters and brings meaning to the lives we are living.

Sometimes it takes a wake-up call and there are some who, unfortunately, get a wake-up call they were not expecting. Sometimes we have to come to a “wall” before we realize what we have been doing with our life and our time. Have we been spending more time (hours, days and weeks) with our job than with our family? Do we know our colleagues better than our spouse? Do we wonder where the time went with our kids and how it is that they have grown up so quickly? And do we notice that our parents are suddenly much older than we thought? Where has the time gone?

Leadership speaker and author of the book: PAILS, Chris Brady, writes as a subtitle to his book the following question:

20 years from now, what will you wish you had done today?

Although the book targets younger people just starting out in early adulthood, the question is relevant to everyone. The 20 years (or 5 or 10) will pass anyway and the future will suddenly become the past. 20 years from now will it matter all that much if our to-do list is checked off? 20 years from now will it really matter if we are successful with our career but weren’t around much to see our kids grow up? 20 years from now will it matter if the laundry was always done and the house was in top shape?

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” – Viktor Frankl

Our Busyness Keeps Us From Doing What Is Important

There is always something more we need to do. Each day our to-do list is made before we make our t0-do list. The urgent takes over and what is important has to wait on the back burner. It seems that everyone needs us to do something right now. Everything seems urgent. But what is urgent is not always what is important and what is urgent does not necessarily need to be done post haste. In fact, if we take the time to think about what our values are, what our priorities are and what we really want to accomplish in our life, it becomes easier to focus on what is important in life.

It may mean that we will need to do some rearranging and discarding of things and activities that get in the way or take up much needed time. It may mean that we will have to say NO to a lot more and to more people. It may mean that we will have to get good at being firm on our priorities and not allow others to overstep them. It may mean that we confront ourselves and see time as our most valuable resource. It may mean that we regain our sanity, our health and our sense of purpose. And most importantly, it may mean that we will be following our compass and not the clock.

The Takeaway

Busyness may seem inevitable, but really it is a choice. We are lured in by what we perceive as necessary or essential when much of what we do is not even essential. It is all too easy to fall in step with everyone else and march to the same beat. But the beat is exhausting and steals our time. It literally takes away from the people close to us and prevents us from being able to focus. Getting unbusy is also a choice. Stepping off the treadmill is an option. It is all a question of values and priorities. I hope that this post has been a source of encouragement and reflection for you.

Have a great day!

Was this post helpful to you? Leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

 

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Success – When the Tough Get Going

Category : Life Tips , Success

 

photo credit; Victoria Quirk@heyvictoriaq

 

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King

We have all heard the saying ” When the going gets tough, the tough get going” It sounds good, doesn’t it? It sounds like something we would like to have as a screen saver or on our wall at work. It is a saying we can definitely get behind. Success really is all about getting tough – getting tough with ourselves. And when I talk about success, I am really referring to anything in our life that we would like to be successful at. It could be a success in our family life, success in our studies or success in overcoming a difficulty that has us feeling discouraged.

When we read about success, a lot of the time it is referring to career or business success. There is a lot of hype about “getting to the top” in one’s field. But I would like to explore the “getting tough” part of overcoming obstacles, rising to challenges to be successful in whatever you are trying to accomplish. I would like to encourage the single mom who is struggling to raise a family and educate her children. I would like to encourage the teenager who feels behind everyone in his school and who doesn’t feel he is smart enough to continue. I would like to encourage those who struggle with relational difficulties and who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In short, this article is about pulling up our shirt sleeves, meeting adversity head on and rising to the challenges ahead with our head held high. When the going gets tough, the tough really do get going. I want to encourage you to face the Goliaths in your life with courage and strength. We will all face adversity to varying degrees and at first, we may fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here are 5 ways I would like to suggest to help us toughen up:

Let’s Toughen Up!

Know that Adversity is Really a Battle of the Mind

We are one hundred percent in control of what we choose to think and how we choose to process information. No one can tell us or force us to think anything other than what we choose to think. Whatever adversity we are going through, how we perceive it is really a matter of how we want to perceive it. Negative or discouraging thoughts are like weeds; they will grow and grow, bigger and bigger unless we do something about them. It is better to nip them in the bud before they turn into massive oak trees.

No matter what our challenges are, we can waste a lot of precious energy and time focusing on how hard or overwhelming they may be. There is a saying that says ” where focus goes, energy grows”. So, if this is true, maybe we should focus our energy on looking at our challenges from a positive perspective. There is no such thing as a bad day if we believe that every day has potential. Certainly, this change of attitude requires work. It is far easier to talk about all the negative going on around us. We prefer to talk about the problems people are having or what is going badly in the world.

But remember, it is a battle, not a picnic. A battle requires sustained focus and desire to win. If we have accumulated a bad habit of seeing the negative and of responding to challenges out of a sense of powerlessness, these are habits or attitudes that we need to break. If we have a tendency to be whiny, cynical, discouraged, sarcastic or critical, maybe it is time to reexamine the way we think and learn to reframe our thinking.

Physical Pain Is Not an  Excuse

Now before I continue, please let me say, that I understand there are people who are enduring serious and excruciating pain and illness. When I talk about pain. I am certainly not diminishing any serious health issues that some may be dealing with.

What I am referring to are the general aches and pains of everyday life. We all get back problems, knee problems, colds etc. Some of us have mobility limitations,  some of us may be temporarily injured. There are lots of physical issues that could be going on. The key here is to not use our physical limitations and aches and pains as an excuse not to rise to the challenges of life. There really is no excuse. Helen Keller was blind and learned to overcome this. Some people are born without any limbs at all and carry on. It really is all in how we see our situation. Are our physical limitations an asset or a problem?

Conflict Must Be Addressed

Let,s face it. We live in a world full of prickly porcupines where we all are trying not to be pricked by others. Sometimes we would just like to crawl into our porcupine cave and avoid all the other porcupines. We are going to run into people who disagree with us, who seem to be putting obstacles in our path and may just generally be put there to make us miserable (we think). Some people seem to have a knack of “getting under our skin.” As the saying goes “The more animals in the barn, the more “doodoo” there is to deal with”.

Most of the time conflict happens because we fail to properly communicate. We assume or presume that people understand us and what we are feeling and experiencing. And, quite frankly many of us simply do not know how to communicate well with others in prickly situations. Most of us do not take the time required to communicate effectively. And furthermore, because we have trouble in this area, we prefer not to address problems and hope that they will somehow disappear on their own. The problem is that, like a small fire started in the frying pan, if we don’t do anything about conflict, it will quickly grow and get much worse with more damage.

Author and leadership expert, Steven Covey gives 5 steps to addressing conflict;

  1. Affirm the relationship
  2. Seek first to understand the other person
  3. Seek to be understood
  4. Own responsibility by apologizing and forgiving
  5. Seek agreement

Learn to Deal with Failure

We tend to see failure as somehow being a reflection of our own inabilities to do a thing. Often we overdramatize failure and come to the conclusion that we are are not good enough, smart enough or capable enough, when, in reality, failure is not only not an indication of personal inabilities, but is a crucial step towards success in anything.

Yes, failure can be frustrating and discouraging. Repeated failure over and over can leave us feeling like giving up or just not trying anymore. But failure is a teacher and mentor if we will only listen and learn from the lessons. If we have been failing over and over, it simply means that the lesson has not been learned yet. History, both recent and not-so-recent, is chock full of examples of people failing over and over, often for many, many years before finally succeeding or accomplishing what they were trying to accomplish.

If we look at failure as an indication of what we can or can not do and then allow the experience to define who we are, we are allowing our selves to buckle under defeat. Instead, failure should cause us to fire ourselves up, get angry (in a good way), pull up our bootstraps and persevere. The only real failure is giving up. That is when we can confidently say we failed because we stopped trying.

Harness Murphy’s Law

“If something can go wrong, it will.” (and usually at the worst time).

No one really knows who Murphy was, but his insight is quite good and on point most of the time. So what does it mean to harness Murphy’s law? Simply this, we can use this law to our advantage to help us be proactive rather than reactive to life’s “calamities”.

The nature of life is that most of what happens to us and around us is unexpected. There simply is no way to plan out how everything will go no matter how melancholic and methodical we may be. So, if we start with an attitude of expecting obstacles, we can be less frustrated when they come along. As the saying goes: “put the plan in the sand and the goals in stone”. Have a clear idea of your vision or ultimate goal and be flexible on the details, making room for detours and roadblocks.

Another important tool in the toolbelt of harnessing Murphy’s law is to adopt a course correction philosophy. Become a problem solver rather than a victim of problems. Usually, the more problems people get good at solving, the bigger the responsibilities they are given and, with bigger problems and more responsibility, comes higher pay in the case of careers. This principle also works in other spheres as well in terms of appreciation and recognition people get for being the one to solve big problems. The one who becomes good at being the best fire-putter-outer (who resolves the problems) can expect positive returns.

Getting Rid of Our Excusitis

In his book, The Magic of Thinking Big. author David J. Schwartz has a chapter called Cure Yourself of Excusitis, the Failure Disease. In this chapter, he goes over what he calls the four most common excuses: The health excuse, the intelligence excuse, the age excuse, and the luck excuse.

The Health Excuse

“Bad” health, in a thousand different forms, is used as an excuse for failing to do what a person wants to do, failing to accept greater responsibilities. failing to make more money, failing to achieve success” – David Schwartz (p. 27)

The author suggests four vaccines against “health excusitis”

  1. Stop talking about your health issues altogether. You don’t want to fertilize the weeds and nobody really wants to listen to someone talk about their health problems all the time.
  2. Don’t worry about it. Worrying about health wastes time, energy and even money sometimes. Besides, worrying never does solve any problems.
  3. Have a thankful attitude. Seriously, no matter how bad you have it, it could be worse so be thankful for the health you do have.
  4. “It’s better to wear out than rust out”. What a great saying! Just choose to live life no matter what.

The Intelligence Excuse

David Schwartz says that we make two main errors in this category: we either underestimate our own brainpower or overestimate the brainpower of others.

  1. Don’t underestimate your own intelligence or overestimate the smartness of others. Don’t sell yourself short.
  2. Remember and tell yourself frequently that what is more important than intelligence is our attitude.
  3. The ability to think and create is of far more value than the ability to store knowledge and facts.

The Age Excuse

This excuse reflects our tendency to think that we are never the right age to do something. It seems that we are always too early or too late. The “being too old” excuse is the more common of the two and, unfortunately, the media around us tend to propagate a youth culture and convince others who are older, that they are somehow too old to be useful. We have the idea that learning and productivity are only for the younger generations.

  1. Look at your present age in a positive light. Don’t worry about stereotypes. Stereotypes are overrated anyway.
  2. Be realistic about productivity; it is far longer than what you may have believed.
  3. Do what you want to do and don”t worry about the naysayers.

The Luck Excuse

There really is no such thing as luck, good or bad. What we call “luck” is really just the result of certain factors coming together. For example, a traffic accident is really a combination of human error and mechanical failure. Winning the lottery is simply a matter of probabilities and nothing more. We don’t attract good or bad luck and nor do black cats or ladders.

  1. Realize that everything has a cause and an effect.
  2. Nothing comes from simply wishing it to happen. Promotions, victories or anything else that we may hope for, do not come from luck.

The Takeaway

Anything worthwhile doing is worth the effort and the time it takes to accomplish it. It is not about what everyone else thinks, but about who we are inside and what we know we can do. We are all tough and we can all make it. It just takes the courage to deal with whatever comes our way head on and not listen to our own excuses nor those of others. When we realize the potential we have inside of us then we can be those of whom people say “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

Have a great day!

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please leave a comment below.

Related Posts

Why Attitude Really Is Everything

Overcoming Fear and Leaving the Comfort Zone

7 Effective Ways to Resolving Conflict

How Belief Will Open Doors

We Don’t Have All the Time in the World

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é

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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How to Deal With Difficult People

The difficult people who we encounter can be our greatest teachers.”
Eileen Anglin

We have all met them and probably, at certain times, are one of them. Who are they? “They” are all those “difficult” or “irritating” and “annoying” people that we deal with on a day to day basis. Some of them we have to work with, others we have to live with. Some of them wait for us to come into the grocery store, the doctor’s office or anywhere where we need to be around people just so that they can annoy us (we think). Some of these people drive ahead of us at a snail’s pace on the highway or cut in front of us from the left at a red light (yeah, that has actually happened to me).

We may actually start to believe that their whole point in life is to make our life miserable and frustrating. Perhaps we go to work each day and have to interact with a co-worker who is a bully, or a complainer. Maybe we have to deal with negative and rude clients all day who will complain no matter how nice we are to them. Or what about that colleague who “knows everything” and will not listen to anyone if they dare to question anything? Maybe it is someone we live with who is combative or passive aggressive. So what do we do?

Look In the Mirror First

Rule #1 for dealing with difficult people is to not be one yourself. We can’t go around calling everyone a black kettle if we are also a black kettle. So first things first, let’s examine our own motives and attitudes.  How can we expect others to “behave” if we can’t control our own behavior and attitudes? As the saying goes, “Wherever you go, there you are”.  We are there with all our baggage, good, bad and ugly.

We can’t deny that we are all difficult people from time to time. Sometimes we are prima donnas, wanting to have things our way. Sometimes we are tyrants, bossing everyone around. At other times we may be having pity parties and lamenting our misfortune and blaming everyone else. Somedays we are more difficult than on other days. Under the right circumstances, we all have the potential to be a difficult person. So first and foremost, we need to get some control over the difficult person inside ourselves.

Understand What Is Happening

Everyone is difficult at times and sometimes we are all more irritated by others than at other times. It is not always that others are annoying. Sometimes it has to do with what is going on in our own lives. Sometimes we project onto others what we are going through and believe that their whole purpose is to make things difficult for us. Also, we need to remember that opposition is normal and healthy, and some opposition is exactly what we need to correct our own errors. An opposition may simply serve as a mirror to our own attitudes and behavior.

The more we stand for something, the more we pursue goals and aspire to higher things, the more opposition we will have. If we stand for nothing and do nothing, we won’t have too much opposition. The “haters” come out when there is something to oppose. Where there is a confrontation, there will be opposition. Those who “tow the line”, follow all the rules, say nothing and do less won’t find themselves too often in a situation of being opposed. The “haters” will come in different categories. Some will be critics and some will be tyrants. Some will be micromanagers and others will be chronic victims.

We can’t please everyone and we shouldn’t even try. Trying to please everyone just to “be nice” or buy “peace” is a fast route to unhappiness. Sometimes we must confront behavior and attitudes in a firm but loving way, but not everyone will be receptive. We need to accept that some people are not going to change unless they want to change. We don’t have to take any responsibility for other people and it is not our responsibility to make them happy – that is their job!

Steps We Can Take for a Peace Treaty

Focus on what the problem is rather than what emotions are saying. Don’t overact or dramatize. Conflict disappears when one person chooses not to participate anymore. Escalating the issue, the discussion or whatever the situation becomes just a battle of the wills and emotions. It becomes a power game more than anything else. If we are in a situation where we are being dragged down by emotional arguments, we do not have to get in and “wrestle with the pigs”, so to speak. They will always be better at us in dragging us into the mud. Remember that a typical reaction of a “difficult” person is that they tend to overreact.

The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is to make sure that you strip it of the emotions and deal with the facts – Howard Baker

Pause, listen and relax. Sounds hard to do, doesn’t it? Yet by doing these three things we are giving ourselves space and time to reflect on what is going on. Kevin Cashman wrote a book called The Pause Principle, in which he calls the Pause one of the most powerful tools in the human world. He said:

Pause, the natural capability to step back in order to move forward with greater clarity, momentum and impact, holds the creative power to reframe and refresh how we see ourselves and our relationships, our  challenges, our capacities, our organizations and missions within a larger context”.

Practice empathy. Where pausing helps us to understand the situation, empathy helps us to understand the person in front of us and put them in the proper perspective. Steven Covey, in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, gave, as one of the 7 habits: ” seek first to understand and then seek to be understood”. Most (but not all) people problems are the result of a lack of empathy. People want to know how much we care before they will open up.

Seeking to understand starts by striving to understand where the other person is coming from. What are his needs and desires? What makes him tick? Try to see things through his eyes.  See him as important, just as you want to be seen.  David J. Schwartz, Ph.D. says in The Magic of Thinking Big:

When you meet another person, make it a policy to think ” we are just two important people sitting down to discuss something of mutual interest and benefit”.

Be opened-minded and think creatively. The ability to do this is really why pausing is so helpful. When we pause ie: stop talking (or yelling, if that is the case), we can have time to think about possible solutions that would benefit both. It is also an opportunity to open our ideas to other ways of thinking or seeing things. Being open-minded can be beneficial in pointing us back to our share in the responsibility in conflict.

Find some common ground. This point goes along with the point above: being open-minded and creative. Are there any points that we can agree on? Certainly, there must be areas where we can find some commonality. All relationships, difficult or not, are a “give and take”. What can we give to the relationship? What can we offer them? Maybe it might be that we simply agree on a time to sit down and discuss the problems at a mutually convenient time. Maybe it means taking the first step to apologize for our part in any conflict.  There is surely some area we can agree on.

An apology is the superglue of life. It can repair just about anything – Lynn Johnston

Address problems straight up. We need to be courageous and confront any problems while they are still small.  It is easier to uproot an oak tree while it is still a sapling than it is to chainsaw down a 200-year-old oak tree. Confront the problem and not the person. Many people ( I have been one of them) resort to other ways of dealing with problems. Sometimes they let them fester and blister by pretending they don’t exist. Other people take a passive-aggressive approach to relational problems; they triangulate to discuss (gossip) people behind their backs.

What Are Some Difficult Behaviors?

  • Dishonesty, lying or having weak character /lack of courage and integrity
  • Being hard headed, combative and objectional
  • Being passive-aggressive, triangulation and gossiping
  • Complaining, generally negative attitude
  • A poser, a fake, an impostor – we don’t even know who they really are
  • Self-centeredness, arrogance, puffed up
  • Being hurtful, mean-spirited
  • Being unpredictable and unreliable
  • Bully, prone to temper tantrums (yes, adults have them too), silent treatment

Be Careful! Not All Difficult People Are Reasonable

Even when our heart is in the right place and we want to do what is right to resolve conflicts and smooth relations with ‘difficult” people, we need to be aware that not everyone thinks reasonably. Not everyone has a desire to get along or is even able to function reasonably. Consider the following:

  • 1% of the general population are psychopaths
    Says Dr. Robert Hare, Criminal psychology researcher, Creator of the PCL-R
  • 4% of Americans are sociopaths
    According to Harvard psychologist Martha Stout in her book, “The Sociopath Next Door,”  one out of every 25 people in America is a sociopath. She defines sociopath as a person with no conscience.
  • 5-15% of Americans are Almost psychopaths
    Dr. Ronald Schouten, Associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School says in his book”Almost a Psychopath

These are the people that, no matter how hard you try or how you bend over backward to work things out and see if you can work together, simply will not change at all. In fact, if you confront them or “catch” them red-handed, they will double down, even more, to come against you. In addition to these categories, we can also add all those people who have serious issues going on such as addictions, alcoholism dependancy, anger issues and much more. We can not always assume that good communication skills will work on everyone.

Don’t Engage in Written Battles

Whatever the conflict, problem, it is inadvisable to battle it out through written media such as texting, email or even via voicemail. In addition to having everything that you have written on permanent record for consultation, it is virtually impossible to read and interpret the tone in which the messages were written. Written messages are a breeding ground for misunderstandings and escalation of emotions behind the screen as well as potential grounds for legal accusations. Don’t write poisonous emails or texts; they will never be interpreted exactly as you intended and probably will do more harm than good.

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen – Winston Churchhill

Have the Courage to Confront

Whether in business or personal relationships, confrontation is necessary and often helpful, if done in the right way with a spirit of unity. Confrontation addresses the problem and not the person. It may mean confronting attitudes, behaviors or situations, but any negative situation must be dealt with fairly, and rapidly so that it does not get out of hand. Small problems are easier to deal with than larger ones, but small problems can become larger or more destructive if they are ignored or avoided. Poison is poison no matter what the amount. a small bit of arsenic will affect and poison the whole cake.

People are watching us. whether we are a parent, a teacher, a pastor or a manager, people watch what we do. They know when fair is fair and right is right. When we fail to call a spade a spade and avoid confronting poisonous behavior or attitudes everyone loses. They lose respect for us and experience loss in whatever organization they are in.

The Takeaway

Human relations and communications are probably the most difficult endeavors in our lives. In fact, all of life is about relationships and communication, unless you happen to be a hermit. Communication has been called art and I truly believe it is that. Human beings are primarily emotional and sensitive, subject to all kinds of perceptions and perceived offenses. Trying to weave our way through and among different personalities, emotional baggage, opinions, and ways of being can sometimes feel like walking through an emotional minefield.

Nevertheless, understanding how humans are is half the battle. With good information and a heart to relate, we can certainly begin to improve relations with those “difficult” people. It is also good to remind ourselves that we are sometimes one of these difficult people.

Have a great day!

Have you enjoyed this post? Please leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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What Is the Happiness Factor?

Category : Life Tips

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present. – Jim Rohn

So what is happiness? What does it look like? How can we tell if we really have it? How can we get it? These questions and many more describe one of the age-old quests of humans during their lifetime. A lot has been written about happiness, but it seems that despite all the poetry, the books and talks on happiness, and the studies conducted, very few of us really actually know what it is and how to be happy. It seems elusive – always just a little out of our reach and at the same time ephemeral.

How then can we capture this quality or state of being? Can we appropriate it for ourselves once and for all? It comes to us and we grab on to it and then, suddenly it is gone again into the wind and we are left with fleeting memories of what we think we had. Some of us pursue it relentlessly. We entertain ourselves and others, we fill our agendas with activities, we chase after opportunities and exciting careers, we fill our minds with thoughts of “if only…” and we  – fill in the blank –  with our desires.

Many definitions of happiness have been put forth to help us understand what this quality or state may be. Everyone has an opinion or idea about it. For example:

“Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.” -— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We know it when we see it. We can tell by the faces of people. We can even tell, to a certain extent, by the lifelines on a person’s face whether they have generally been happy in their life. Our mothers probably even told us when we were scowling to “not make that face” or else it would freeze that way. Does anyone remember this advice? Ask many people what they want most in life and often they will say “I just want to be happy”. Songs like “Don’t worry, Be Happy” or “Happy“, among others sing of the happiness factor. So, what is the happiness factor?

The Harvard Study of Adult Development

In 1938, probably the longest ever study on happiness was started tracking the lives of 724 men over the course of 74 years. At intervals during this time period, participants were asked several questions pertaining to their health, home life work etc.

There were two groups; one group consisting of Harvard students who subsequently went off to war and one other group of underprivileged boys from poor and troubled neighborhoods of Boston.

The main finding that came out of this study was that overwhelmingly, the main factor for happiness was, bar none, that good relationships keep us happier, healthier and longer living. They found that it was the social connections and the quality of the relationships that determined the presence of happiness.

If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” Andrew Carnegie

The Surprising Science of Happiness (TED Talk)

Dan Gilbert, in his TED Talk, called The Surprising Science of Happiness, talks about natural happiness and synthetic happiness. He says that natural happiness is “What we get when we get what we wanted” and synthetic happiness is “what we make when we don’t get what we wanted”. Dan Gilbert says that synthetic happiness is not as popular or as widely understood as natural happiness because it is not profitable for the economy. It doesn’t depend on a “buy everything now mentality”

Dan Gilbert goes on to say that freedom is the friend of natural happiness because it allows you to choose endlessly, but it is the enemy of synthetic happiness. Ultimately, we work better and are more satisfied when we are “stuck” in a situation and need to find our own solutions.

If you start to think the problem is ‘out there,’ stop yourself. That thought is the problem. – Stephen Covey

Want to Be Happier? – Stay in the Moment (TED Talk)

In his TED talk, Matt Killingsworth talks about the paradox of happiness. We expect things to bring us happiness. Today, in North America, even though living conditions and the standard of living have improved and we have better access to more things, we haven’t gotten any happier. Factors such as marital status, wealth or working status have not had a significant impact on making us happier.

Matt Killingsworth is the creator of trackyourhappiness.org, a research project, and application to track your happiness minute to minute. Essentially, it collects data with basic questions:

  • How do you feel right now?
  • What are you doing?
  • Are you thinking about something other than what you are currently doing?

Then the app users are prompted to assign an emotion or feeling to their answers.

From the data, they found that people are happiest when they were focused on the present moment than when their mind was wandering off (positive or negative). They hypothesize that it is the wandering of the mind that leads to the feeling of being less happy.

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill

To be Happy is to Give Happy

Author and leadership speaker, Chris Brady explores this subject from another perspective. He says that a lot of us are very poor at knowing what it is that makes us happy. We have an expectation that something outside ourselves such as experiences or other people ( our spouse or children) should make us happy. We spend a lot of our energy toward trying to be happy. Many go from career to career or from relationship to relationship trying to capture happiness once and for all. The grass is always greener on the other side.

In the end, he says, the things that we think will make us happy, generally don’t and the things we don’t think will make us happy actually do.

Chris Brady talks about 4 theories of happiness (there are many more).

The first theory breaks down into four factors for happiness:

  1. Having a certain degree of control over things and events in life.
  2. Having a perceived amount of progress- the idea that we are moving forward.
  3. Having connectedness-a shared experience
  4. Having vision and meaning – a sense of being part of something greater than ourselves

The second theory put forth is the Maslow theory based on meeting and fulfilling needs.

  1. Physiological needs are met (food, water, air etc.)
  2. Safety needs are met (shelter, security)
  3. Self-esteem needs are met ( achievement, responsibility, accumulation of things such as money)
  4. Self-actualization needs are met ( creativity, morality, authenticity etc.)

The third theory, which is very simple. states that we need:

  1. Someone to love
  2. Something to do
  3. Somewhere to go

Without these three requirements for happiness, boredom starts to kick in and we end up going down a path of destruction in an attempt to fill the void.

The fourth theory consists of three components that build on one another:

  1. Pleasure
  2. Passion
  3. Purpose

It is this last theory that Chris Brady focuses on to help us understand what happiness is. He points out that people tend to pursue pleasure as a means to an end, but these stimulating activities are only short term in the pleasure they can bring us. It doesn’t matter what the activity is. It could be extreme sports, it could be movies or other entertainment. The actual pleasure of the activity is short-lived and often will need to be repeated or repeated at greater and greater levels of stimulus to gain the same feeling.

So pleasure seeking is really the baseline in terms of the pursuit of happiness. The next level in the pursuit would be the pursuit of a passion. This is where our individual talents and gifts line up with our interests. It is no longer about seeking pleasure for the sake of something exciting to do, but it is more about diving into projects, goals, limit breaking. It is about being in the zone, completely absorbed by what we are doing, doing it because we love to do it no matter how much work is involved.

The purpose is the third level in this theory where we are involved in a movement a reason outside of and greater than ourselves. We are pursuing a higher calling where it is no longer about what we want or about our goals, but about making an impact and leaving a legacy.

If we begin our pursuit of happiness at the level of seeking pleasure, it is highly unlikely that we will get very far. We will get stuck in the cycle of chasing the next thing and the next thing which is always temporal and fleeting. The happiest people are those who feel called to do something or be part of something bigger than themselves. They find within this greater purpose a place to discover and pursue their passions and, ultimately find pleasure and happiness in doing so.

Happiness Vs. Unhappiness

It there is such a thing as happiness, there is also unhappiness. If happiness depends on things such as our ability to live in the present, connect with others, sustain quality relationships, and have purpose and meaning in our lives, then it would make sense that unhappiness is the absence of these. Happiness it appears depends on the degree of our willingness to move away from our own desires, problems, situations and be outward focused. It depends on us being other focused.

What Goes Around Comes Around

Chris Brady’s talk is called “The Only Way o Be happy Is to give Happy”. In the end, that is really what it is all about, isn’t it? We reap what we sow and if we sow happiness, we will also reap happiness in good measure. Unhappiness is really a result of being too focused on ourselves and our problems. the more inward we turn, the less connected and relational we will be and the less happy we will be.

In his talk, Chris Brady highlights the importance of serving others as the key to being happy which is why he favors the last of the four theories. Happiness finds its presence when we have a purpose for our life. When we are working and living within the framework of a greater goal and vision while pursuing our passion and utilizing our natural gifts and talents then happiness will be a natural byproduct. We won’t time to spend moping around and focusing on our own misery. He emphasizes that ultimately, it is joy, that should prevail whether or not we are “happy” at any given moment.

Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” Mary Anne Roadacher-Hershey

The Takeaway

We have explored the subject of happiness from a few different angles. From all the sources, it becomes clear that happiness really is a function of what we put into life and what we give to others. Science has analyzed it trying to find the happiness factor in a drawn-out study. Scientists have attempted to break it down and understand its parts and functions. But in the end, happiness (or unhappiness, for that matter) is a byproduct of how we choose to live our lives.

Have a great day!

Has this post been helpful to you? Please leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

 

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What We Can Learn From The Wealthy

Category : Success

How do the wealthy think? What makes them tick? What do they know and do that most of us don’t?  What traits do they share?
We all have all asked these questions (in our head or out loud) – let’s be honest. We have all wondered what it takes. Some of us have just assumed they are lucky or that they fell into the right circumstances.
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Why Speed of Trust Matters For Business

Category : Communication , Success

One of the fastest ways to restore trust is to make and keep committments-even very small committments-to ourselves and to others – Steven M.R.Covey

Trust is something we all want to have in others and hope that others have in us. We want people to trust us, to trust our word and to trust our actions. Our whole reputation with others (and with ourselves) hinges on whether or not we are trustworthy and whether people see as someone they can trust.

Trust is also a rare commodity in today’s world of “me first”.  Priorities get skewed and such things as accountability and commitment fall way below on the scale of what is important “now”.  People say one thing while not really meaning what they say or have no plans to stick by what they say. They make empty promises in order to purchase peace and avoid confrontation or having to resolve issues.  These kinds of attitudes erode confidence and relationships, both personally and professionally.

Steven Covey’s book The Speed of Trust has as its subtitle: The One Thing that Changes Everything. Right away, we can see how crucial this quality of trust is. Without trust, there is no foundation and nothing of any significance can happen. Without trust, there is backbiting, fear, mistrust, abuse and much more.  No business or personal relationship can flourish without it.

What Are the Enemies of Trust?

Never interrupt ypur enemy when he is making  mistake – Napoleaon Bonoparte

The Harvard Business Review article entitled Enemies of Trust (February 2003) listed the following “enemies” to trust. They are in a business context, but could just as easily be applicable to other environments as well.

Inconsistent Message

Expectations are built up and then changes in plans are made. The initial message may anticipation and excitement and then the canceling or the project or plans creates mistrust. Participants have less belief in the person or organization.

Inconsistent Standards

In an organization, some people are held to looser standards than others. Some are permitted to “bend” the rules where others are expected to toe the line. This situation breeds an environment of bitterness and jealousy. People resent this favoritism. When the standards are not clear or inconsistent, no one knows where they stand.

Tolerating Misplaced Benevolence

This weakness is a failure to confront negative behaviors and attitudes within an organization such as stealing, “cutting corners, cheating, and abusive behavior. Also, laziness and incompetence are not dealt with which leads to resentment in employees who do work hard and are professional in what they do. This tolerance of negative behavior fails to hold people accountable for their actions and lack of commitment to the organization.

False Feedback

Giving false feedback on employee performance not only is dishonest to the employee in question regarding his performance, but it also undermines the value of the other employees who may be performing well. They see that performance does not matter at the end of the day. Failing to give accurate feedback is simply failing to have the courage, to be honest.

Failure to Trust Others

This situation is the classic weakness of the micromanager who believes that if he or she doesn’t do it, it won’t get done or it won’t be done right. There is too much managing and not enough delegating and freeing people up to grow. The micromanager does not trust others to do a good job and this, of course, will not give people the space to grow professionally and personally.

Elephants in the Parlour

This is the well-worn avoidance routine. Everyone knows the situation exists; it is there but no one will discuss it. The tendency is to pretend that a difficult or painful problem will just disappear if it is ignored.  This situation leaves everyone walking on eggshells, so to speak because no one wants to be the one to bring up the subject out of fear of what people will say.

Rumors in a Vacuum

When specific and important information is not given regarding such things as changes to happen, new projects or directions, rumors begin to circulate. Everyone wants to know what is happening and everyone knows someone who has “inside information”.  Like the classic telephone game, tidbits of information get twisted and distorted. Rumors fly around without any solid evidence as to what is true.

Core Values

Author Gus Lee, in his book Courage (2006), talks about core values (low core values, middle core values, and high core values) as being foundational for our actions, decisions, and relationships.

Low core values are common habits, things we do without too much reflection (favoritism, gossip, control, cliques etc.)

Middle core values are considered “best business” practices ( ethics, teamwork, customer service, education, respect etc.)

High core values go above and beyond the other two. these are: courage, integrity, and character

It is these high core values or rather the absence of them that is responsible for the Enemies of trust listed above.  If they are present, there will be no avoidance of issues; transparency and clarity will be the rule. There will be standards set and standards respected. With these three values, performance will be valued and incompetency and negative behaviors will not be tolerated. Everyone will know exactly where they stand.

In his book, Gus Lee illustrates that there are good practices such as good ethics, honesty, and morals. He places these qualities on one side of a river (p. 118) called FEAR. On the other side of the river, Fear, are the noble qualities of courage, integrity, and character. It is these latter qualities which bring an organization from good to great. These qualities are the framework for establishing a Trust environment.

What Is in the River of Fear and on the Banks?

The river of Fear is a river filled with feelings and emotions. It is filled with rumors and speculation. It is filled with past failures and fear of what will happen. The river of Fear immobilizes, paralyzes people within organizations and problems grow and fester.

On one side of the river, it is safe. Gus Lee illustrates that on this side we can be “good people” – we don’t do what is wrong, we are honest, we don’t cheat or steal. We follow the rules, but we will not take a stand on anything or risk our reputation.

On the other side of the river, courage boldly stands for values and does not play favorites. Courage is not afraid to confront whenever necessary and courage will stop what is wrong in himself and in others. Integrity will act for what is right in spite of the risks (what others will say or do) and discerns right from wrong. Character will sustain integrity and courage even in the face of opposition.

All three of these: Courage, integrity, and character have crossed over their feelings and fears. They have not listened to rumors and got straight to the issues to correct them. The three of them can be wrapped up into one: character.

The Solution is Character

In each case of the Enemies of Trust, the missing element of the puzzle is the character (integrity + courage). Each situational case highlights a weakness in character resulting in the failure to establish clear standards and carry through with them.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are – Coach John Wooden

The first thing for any leader is to inspire trust – Doug Conant CEO Campbell soup Company

So why does character matter? Stephen Covey wrote in The Speed of Trust,

Trust is a function of two things: character and competence. Character includes integrity, your motive, your intent with people. competence includes your capabilities, your skills, your results, your track record. Both are vital”.

Crucial Behaviors to Establish Trust

Courage

Courage…. willingly sacrificing personal gains to advance one’s highest principals – Orrin Woodward (Resolved)

Exhibiting courage means doing things or making decisions, even when it is uncomfortable to do so and even when the stakes and emotions are high. It means having the courage to speak up, to say the right thing or having the courage to bite your tongue and listen. Courage can mean standing firm and not taking offense when it is easy to do so. It can also mean having the courage to expose our vulnerability and the courage to pick up and try again. It can mean apologizing and forgiving.

Having courage means to be human and authentic willing to take the risks and do what is right.

Communication

Communication leads to commnity, that is to understanding, intamacy and mutual valuing – Rollo May

Learn to communicate with honor for everyone regardless and to value each one no matter how you may feel. Even if they are opposed to you on every account, even if they are polar opposites, be ethical. supportive and encouraging (Gus Lee).

Be clear and consistent with all communication. Make sure that everyone is on board in terms of understanding. There is no place for passive-aggressive communication patterns such as the silent treatment, gossiping and spreading of rumors. Communication should keep all the lines open and be transparent.

Crucial conversations are necessary and should not be avoided. We can’t leave the elephant standing in the room. When problems are not addressed in a clear and forthright manner, misunderstandings happen and the problems are allowed to continue.

A Have-Your-Back Attitude

Most good relationships are built on mutual trust and respect – Mona sutphen

An adversarial environment benefits no one. In any organization, everyone is on the same team and should be willing to stand up for each other and support them. If there are problems, disagreements or negative attitudes, these need to go from the bottom to the top of the organization quickly so that they can be dealt with at an organizational level.

There is no room for individual ego games, only team spirit. Individual egos get in the way of progress and community. Everyone wins when everyone is playing on the same team. Support and encouragement rather than backbiting and gossip will build a healthy environment.

Competence

One of the greatest difficulties as you rise up through an organization is that your prior competencies are exploded and broken by the new territory you’ve been promoted into: human identity – David Whyte

People will only trust and follow someone who does what they say they will do and has a proven track record of results. They will not trust or follow someone who says “do this”, but doesn’t do or hasn’t done it himself. They are not interested in lip service. When a leader of an organization at any level inspires people with confidence, it is because his results convey that he is able to get a job done.

An incompetent individual will, more than likely, ask others to do what he can not do and expect them to produce results. Not only does this incompetence not inspire trust, but it is also dishonest. Incompetency reveals character weaknesses such as avoidance, lack of clarity, lack of vision and lack of integrity.

The Three Acts of Courageous Leadership

In his book, Courage (2006), Gus Lee lists three acts of courageous leadership, all of which are crucial to building trust in an organization (pages 125-143)

  1. Honoring and Respecting All Persons

He calls it UPR or unconditional positive respect. What does it look like?

  • Being wholly and positively present with the other person
  • Correct and respectful body language
  • Careful, respectful. thoughtful listening
  1. Encouraging and Supporting Others
  • Be relational and approving
  • Reinforce the positive
  • Affirm others
  • Be there in good and bad times
  1. Challenging Wrongs
  • Stops wrongs in oneself and challenge wrongs in others
  • Discern right from wrong
  • Act for what is right regardless of risk
  • Follow through so that wrongs are not repeated

The Takeaway

Trust is very complex, as we have seen. It is at the core of many organizational problems highlighted by its absence. It is not just a matter of people trusting this person and not trusting the other one. There are components of trust and it has to be earned. Without solid character (integrity and courage), without a genuine desire to see people grow and inspire them, there can be no trust in the organization. The result will be all the negative behaviors and attitudes that bring about internal conflicts, absenteeism, and people leaving.

I hope that this information has been helpful to you. Please leave a comment below.

Have a great day!

Related Posts

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Why Boundaries Matter and How to Set Them

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7 Effective Ways to Resolving Conflict

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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