Category Archives: Success

What It Takes to Be a Leader

Category : Success

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” – Ronald Reagan

Have you noticed the lack of leadership around these days?  Whether it is in government, schools or any organization, it seems that vision is lacking and many do not have a clear idea of where they are going.  I don’t need to remind you (you are already aware) of how much “passing the buck” goes on these days. No one wants to take responsibility, it seems, and accountability plays second fiddle to an attitude of “taking care of self first”.

Confusion, delusion avoidism, escapism are all prominent everywhere. It really doesn’t matter what aspect of society we are talking about. This is not a “blame the government” post since we are all responsible for any government body we vote in. It is not about blaming schools or business or throwing out any accusations against anyone. It is a reflection on the problem and possible solutions.

Who Is the Leader?

First, we need to know what it means to be a leader. Many books have been written the subject with just as many variations. There are three sources I would like to turn to to help with the definition.

John Maxwell

John Maxwell is unarguably the world’s top expert in leadership and has written countless books on the subject. I will talk here about the 5 Levels of Influence, which John Maxwell builds upon one after the other. They are:

  1. Position
  2. Permission
  3. Production
  4. Personal Development
  5. Personhood

Position simply refers to the title a person has such as a boss, a teacher, or a coach. Just being the bearer of a positional title does not necessarily make them a leader. It simply puts the person in a position of authority. The person may certainly have leadership skills, but these are not because of the position he or she holds.

Permission means that the person has been given permission by one or more individuals to lead in a certain capacity. They have agreed that the person is to be the leader. This b person will be followed only as long as he fulfills the expectations the group or individual have of him. For example, In a team project, the team may elect one person in the group to lead the discussion.

Production refers to the leader’s ability to bring about results. When the leader (chosen or positional) brings about results, this increases his level of credibility. Those following have more faith in his ability to lead and get results.

Personal Development refers to the leader taking the initiative to develop his own skills as a person and as a leader to improve in both areas. Followers see a leader who is doing this as someone who is credible and “walks the talk” and someone who is humble and teachable.

Personhood is the top level of the five and refers more to the character of the person rather than his title. This person or a person at this level of influence has shown himself to be concerned with developing himself as a leader and being a credible person worth following. He is an influencer through example.

Jim Collins

Jim Collins talks about 3 factors of leadership:

  1. A Capable Individual
  2. A Contributing Team Member
  3. A Competent Orchestrator

Capable Individual refers to any individual who has core skills and competency, meaning that the potential for leadership is there, but development is necessary.

Contributing Team Member refers to the individual’s ability to not only be a part of a team but to see himself as an active member. This individual understands that any results (good or bad) are dependant on the combined effort of all team members.

A Competent Orchestrator is good at getting teams together and on the same page. He gets all the cats to walk in a straight line, so to speak. The competent orchestrator has a vision and communicates this vision to team members to get everyone working together towards a common goal.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

Orrin Woodward & Co-author Chris Brady

In their book entitled “Launching a Leadership Revolution“, these authors examine 5 levels of leadership, which are:

  1. Learning
  2. Performing
  3. Leading
  4. Developing Leaders
  5. Developing Leaders Who Develop Leaders

Learning In order for someone to eventually become an effective leader, he or she must go through the learning phase with mentors. No title of authority or “wannabe” leader can ignore this important process (because it is ongoing). A leader who stops learning stops being the leader.

Performing is persevering through obstacles and failures. They go through the struggle, not just to it. They go through the process of dream-struggle-victory. These individuals focus on performance – their own performance, not the performance of others. They take on responsibilities and hold themselves accountable. Performing also means “tweaking” performance and results.

Leading means developing a broader ( and long term) vision. It means having the ability to communicate goals and vision to the group and orchestrate people to embrace the vision and work towards it willingly and together. The leader uses the past to learn from in order to affect the present and lead to an improved tomorrow. Clarity of vision, accountability, humility, teachability, and responsibility are all characteristics of an effective leader.

The effective leader is generous about giving credit to others for contributions and accomplishments and equally willing to accept responsibility for all failures. The effective leader will take the “hit” for the group.

Leaders Developing Leaders has to do with legacy and continuing momentum. It is the ripple effect, which is that when you toss a stone into water, the stone makes a small splash, but the water ripples further and further out into circles. So leaders who develop leaders are developing circles of influence.

It is at these two last levels that the impact we have on those around us begins to be noticeable. We are all in some way a role model for someone else or for others. Some of us are teachers, business leaders, community organizers and many of us are parents and coaches. The ripple effect of our actions and choices spreads out far beyond the circle intended.

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.” – Warren Bennis

But, Am I A Leader?

Whether we realize it or not, we are all leaders to some degree. We also have people leading us, leading our children and leading our countries. We are Impacting people around us for better or for worse. Parents are leaders who are, hopefully, developing effective leaders. That is a huge responsibility. Employers are leading people, influencing them and impacting their lives. We are leaders in our neighborhood and in our larger community. It is not a matter of title, but of influence.

We are not always aware of how much influence we have on those within our close circles and in wider circles. We may think that our actions and our decisions only have a very short reach. The reality is that we are not only impacting the present all around us, but we are also playing an important role in the future. When you think about it, the responsibility is impressive. There is nothing small or insignificant about our contribution.

Effective Leadership – A Solution?

Coming full circle back to the beginning of this post, we can see how having a good understanding of what leadership is and learning how to be an influencer in our own sphere of influence can have a potentially significant impact in the world around us (in our communities, in our  schools, in our business communities, in our government leadership and beyond). If we consider the ripple effect of a stone in water and the ever-expanding water ripples and see our influence the same way, we can begin to see possible solutions to the lack of strong leadership.

The Takeaway

In light of the leadership crisis that is so prevalent around us, I wanted to shed some light on what effective leadership can look like. In today’s world, we give people the authority of leadership (a title), but too often these individuals do not give the impression that they understand what leadership is. Just being in a position of leadership does not make one an effective leader or even a good leader. Leadership is about the heart and not about Braun.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject of leadership.  Please leave a comment below.

Read Also:

How to Get People to Cooperate

7 Effective Ways to Resolving Conflict

5 Essential Factors for Success

How to Fix a Toxic Work Environment

Secrets to Making Great Decisions

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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


How to Have More Confidence With People

Category : Life Tips , Success

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster. Your life will never be the same again”.
Og Mandino

If we are honest, most of us would say that we lack confidence in some areas of our lives. Sometimes we don’t feel that we are good enough to go after the job position or career that we would like. Maybe we feel that we don’t have the smarts or the ability to do so. We compare ourselves to others who seem to be much better than we are at relating to people and seem to have it together academically. Some of us may prefer to stay at home in our cocoon rather than go out and face people and have to speak with them.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. Which is just another way of saying that the way to make a friend is to be one”.
Dale Carnegie

Some of us dread speaking to others or socializing with them because we are afraid of what people will think of us. There are those of us who are so terrified of speaking with someone of the opposite sex for fear of looking like a fool and being rejected. Lack of confidence can hold us a prisoner of our own mind and prevent us from being all that we can be and doing all the things we would like to do.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”. – Marianne Williamson

In his book How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People. author Les Giblin deals with this very issue of confidence and explores how to go about developing the confidence we need. The first section of the book is entitled: Making human Nature Work for You and I would like to focus this post on this point.

Les Giblin states that ” one of the big reasons people lack confidence in dealing with others is that they do not understand what they are dealing with”. He adds that ” We are always unsure of ourselves when we are dealing with the unknown”. (p.xxii) The key to success with people is understanding people; not just being able to get along with them. According to the Carnegie Institute of Technology regarding success:

85 percent of success is due to personality factors, to the ability to deal with people successfully”.

More people fail in the job market for a deficit in people skills than competence. More people are fired for their inability to deal with people than for their professional (technical) skills. Most of our “personality” problems are really people problems – our skill in dealing with people. Many people will categorize themselves as shy, timid, reserved, self-conscious or uncomfortable in social situations when, in fact, the reality is a deficit in people skills. People are here to stay; they are not going away. We all have to deal with them whether we want to or not. So it is better to hone the skills and use them to our advantage.

Some Human Nature Basics

There are four “facts of life”, author Les Giblin points out, to know about people:

  • People are all egoists (all of us are).
  • We all care more about ourselves than anything else in the world.
  • All of us want to feel important and “amount to something”.
  • We all crave approval from others so that we can approve of ourselves.

So being egotistic is actually normal even though this trait was scorned in the past and people who were considered self-centered were told to just stop being “like that”. Today we know that our ego helps us to self-preserve. In fact, we cannot be altruistic or sympathetic to others if our basic ego has not been “filled”, so to speak. We must first take care of ourselves. Jesus said to his disciples:

“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”

If we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, then it is clear that we must first love ourselves (self-esteem, healthy ego).

Share Freely

We all have human relations potential and so much relational wealth to share. All around us people are starving for the need to feel important and to count. People are famished to be noticed and appreciated. So the fastest way to get better at people skills is to understand what people are looking for and share the goodness. Les Giblin highlights Three ways we can do this.

  1. Be Convinced that Others Are Important

It is a choice of attitude. We simply decide once and for all that everyone, no matter who they are or what they are like or what they do (or don’t do) has importance. Dr. Rhine of Duke University stated:

“Our treatment of people depends on what we think they are, as does our treatment of everything else. No other way would be intelligent. Our feelings for men depend on our ideas, our knowledge about them”.

2. Notice Other People

Generally, we tend to notice only that which is important to us and since people crave being noticed, we are actually paying them a big compliment by noticing them; it makes them feel important. The opposite is also true – when people ignore us (ie: pay more attention to their cellphone, their computer or other activities going on) we tend to feel as if we don’t matter very much to that person.

Les Giblin suggests ” Turning the spotlight on everyone”  and also treating each person as an individual in a group. Even a small amount of attention will be enough to make a person feel like he is important.

3, Don’t Lord It Over People

We all have the need to feel important and this often comes through loud and clear in our conversation. Some of us, in an effort to feel important, prefer a monologue to dialogue and preaching over listening. Whether intentional or not, the fact is, we want to make a good impression. We want people to acknowledge our presence, but the best way to create a good impression is to show another that we are impressed by him.

Opinions and being right don’t really matter much and are not even the point of conversation. We don’t have to win every argument and we don’t need to let people know that they are wrong. When we focus on ourselves being right and correcting others, then we are once again putting ourselves in the limelight and not sharing the goodness.

The Takeaway

Understanding the basic nature of people – the need to feel important, noticed, appreciated and focusing on meeting these needs helps us to take our eyes off ourselves and our insecurities. Most, if not all of our people skills insecurities come because we choose to highlight them and avoid honing the skills that would make social interactions smoother and even more enjoyable. All areas of our lives will benefit from “turning the spotlight” on others.

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Related Posts

5 Emotional Intelligence Skills Will Transform Your Life

10 Important Tips to Improve Communication

5 Ways We Sabotage Ourselves

The 10 Soft Skills of Leadership

Overcoming Fear and Leaving the Comfort Zone

 

Diana Lynne enjoys 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

 

 


Would You Do This For You?

Category : Life Tips , Success

“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.”
– Shannon L. Alder

How often do we think of all the things we could do, we would like to do, but then find all sorts of reasons to put them off.  We see that things need to change in our family, at our work, with the friends we socialize with, or maybe there is something that needs to change in our community. Sometimes, we see that a destructive cycle needs to be stopped in a relationship or a municipal decision in our community needs to be overturned. Maybe we just feel that there is something more we can do with our lives.  We want to make a difference and start a change.

Would You Dare to Begin?

Change begins with an idea and often a catalyst event. Something happens that tells us that change needs to happen. It may be that the game-changing event is the proverbial “last straw” or simply a wake-up call to tell us that the ball must start rolling. In the sports world, we see this phenomenon a lot. A team is falling behind and can’t seem to get their act together during the game. Then comes a realization that a new game strategy and an attitude fix are needed to win. A timeout and a solid talk from the coach or captain whips the team into shape and the team comes out ready to tackle the world.

It may be that you are sick and tired of being sick and tired of the same old, same old. Maybe you are tired of life passing you by while you watch it go by from the front porch. Maybe you just need that push to get you started. Maybe you are beginning to realize that that dream, that idea is possible after all. If others can do what they dream of doing, why not you? Maybe it is your turn to shine. Maybe it is time for you to stand up and do something you ahve always felt called to do.

Do You Believe?

A single idea can blossom into something so much bigger than you imagined. As an example, I began this blog on the wing of an idea. I have been doing it for 5 months already and it all began with the question “Can I really do it?”  I had all sorts of doubts in my mind. I wondered if people would even care about what I write. Blogging is an activity that takes a lot of time and I put my heart into each post. But I am willing to trust the process and believe that i can do it and i can make a difference.

Would You Trust the Process?

And what is the process? It’s a chain of events that can bring someone from the point of  “dragging their feet” to eventually getting results doing what they have always wanted to do. It is about being consistant, being present, day after day and having the faith to carry it through in the face of obstacles  and disappointment. The process is:

A catalyst event that leads to a change in attitude, which leads to a change in behavior, which leads to a change in performance, which ultimately leads to a change in results.

We all have events that happen in our life that we might call game-changers: events that cause our life to take a sudden turn in the road and go a different direction (good or bad), but what we do with these events – how we handle them can make all the difference. We can just sail along with them -or sink with them or we can use them to our advantage. We can capitalize on them. In my case, I was looking for something creative, something that I could personally bring to the table .

So how do we turn these events, these momentous points of decision into action? How can we capitalize on them to bring about a positive change? What is that key that will be the difference between whether our idea, and the catalyst that fermented it, stays in our head or whether it will blossom into something much bigger and more beautiful?

Would You Trust Your “Why”?

It is rae that we will begin anything without having a reason why. Our “why” is the most important element in anything we undertake. We need to ask ourselves why we want to change. What is the driving force behind the idea? Are we tired of how things are going in our relationships? Do we believe that we can change our work situation or get on a better career path? Do we want to make some changes in our community that are long overdue?  Do we see that we can make an impact somewhere? Do we finally want to step out and follow that dream we have been carrying around inside?

Let’s face it. We were not born to be fish floating with the downstream current. We are certainly not here to figure out how to die safely. What is it that we want to to do to make an impact in our life? Where are we going and who do we want to be? What greater purpose has been bubbling up inside of us? When we latch on to this purpose, this idea, it will lead to:

Could You See Things Differently?

No longer do we have to listen to or accept all the negative that has been pumped into our brain for most of our lives. We don’t even have to listen to ourselves. We can turn down and turn off that voice and tune into a positive voice and mindset. Believe me, there are days when I wonder if I am writing to anybody or if all my readers are imaginary. Anything worthwhile will come with its share of discouragement. Doubt, discouragement, and questions are part of the process but, in the end:

We are either the captains or the captives of our own thoughts.

We have around 50,000 thoughts a day and they are the only thing that we really have any control over. Our thoughts can either make us or break us. Ultimately we have three choices in life:

  • Give up
  • Give in
  • Give it all we’ve got

It all comes down to our attitude and our ability to reframe our reality. A gamechanger in life can get us down or we can rise above it. It all depends on how we are able to reframe it and use it to our advantage.

Could You Take That Step?

To gain momentum we need action. Like in physics, an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. In other words, we need to get the ball rolling to see results.

The thought of acting on our ideas of making changes can grip us with fear. We may be fearful of what others may say about us. Will they try to discourage us or belittle our idea? Will they be antagonistic? In reality, most people are not even thinking about us because they are too focused on themselves.

We may be afraid of losing what we have gained or worked hard to attain. We spend our time counting all of our chickens rather than think about taking a risk. But changing things will involve risk. If we want results in an area, we have to be willing to give up our comfort.

Maybe we are afraid of failure. Don’t worry, failure is a stepping stone to success. If we try to avoid failure, we will just be hurting ourselves:

  • Quit thinking about it and do it!
  • Quit talking about it and do it!
  • Quit waiting for the perfect time and do it!
  • Quit trying to make it fair and do it!

Do You Have the Courage?

Stuff happens! Life happens! Gut shots happen! They happen to all of us. We are going along and feel like our act is together and then BAM! Life hits us smack in the face. Now we hit a fork in the road and have to decide which path to take. It happens to the best of us. No one is immune from adversity. It all depends on how we handle it.

So how do we handle these hits? Well, Rocky Balboa has some wisdom on this:

It’s not how hard you can hit that makes you successful; it’s how hard you can get hit, get back up and keep moving forward that counts.

Life isn’t fair – we have all heard that many times. We just need to expect the gut shots in life, take them and rise above them. These shots can cause momentum in one of two ways; either a downward spiral momentum or an upward climb momentum. It’s really up to us where we want to go.

Would You Reach Out?

Having others on board with you will energize your idea and give it some push. whatever it is you are working to do or change, having a team will be a boost. So, how do you get them on board? For example, in a family, how do you get everyone involved in managing the household chores?

Enthusiasm! Get excited about it. sometimes just seeing someone’s excitement is enough to motivate action even if they don’t know what is going on. Enthusiasm is contagious. Have a vision and get excited about it. Be up when things are up and up when things are down.

Encouragement! Highlight their strong points. What is it that you see in them that makes the special and unique and how would this make them great team members?

Edify! Become a good finder in others. Even if it is hard to find something good, find it anyway.

Get your team together and get them on board!

Margaret Mead said ( of a group effort):

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Could You Keep Your Eye On the Horizon?

They go hand in hand. We need to show up. We need to do it. We need to do it consistently and give it all we’ve got. We need to never give up and never give in. We need to get through the valleys of life, learn the lessons of the valleys and start climbing out. That is our performance – staying in the game, continuing no matter what. And the results will be there. They are what make the struggle, the persistence worth it.

And here’s the deal – If we don’t take the first step, if we we don’t decide to step out and get a little messy, well we will just stay clean. But we may miss out on the adventure of our life.

The Takeaway

Everything begins with an idea. Sometimes the idea comes as a result of catalysts – game changers in our life. Sometimes we just need to make some changes and get the ball rolling. It won’t happen if we don’t begin. We need to put the gears into action and pick up speed if we want the results we are looking for. A snowball will gather speed as it rolls downhill, picking more snow as it goes. In the same way, we can give our ideas the first push, but gathering a team will help it gain momentum.

Have a great day!

Read Also

We Don’t Have All the Time in the World

The Seeds of Possibility

Overcoming Fear and Leaving the Comfort Zone

5 Ways We Block Our Success

The 10 “Must Do” Things for Success

The Fight of Our Life

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


5 Emotional Intelligence Skills Will Transform Your Life

Category : Life Tips , Success

 

photo credit Lesly Juarez @jblesly

“It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head–it is the unique intersection of both.” — David Caruso

We have certainly all heard about different kinds of intelligence. In particular, we are most familiar with intelligence quotient (IQ) as a way of measuring potential. For decades IQ was a standard for measuring one’s success in life: academically, professionally, and even healthwise.  Who remembers the long IQ tests given in schools? More and more, other forms of intelligence are being looked with more interest. One of these is Emotional Intelligence or EQ (Emotional Quotient).

According to one article in The Guardian, emotional intelligence might be the secret to a high salary

IQ gets you hired. EQ gets you promoted.— Time Magazine

“We might be hired for technical talents, but we are often fired because we lack emotional intelligence.” – Canaday

According to some researchers, emotional intelligence accounts for up to 75% of a person’s ability to succeed. A study, published in the Journal of  Vocational Behaviour (August 2017) found that students who tested high in emotional intelligence (EI) during their studies and who were followed for 10 years after, went on to have higher paying careers than students who scored a lower EQ. It seems that people with higher emotional intelligence are more skilled at connecting and relating to people on emotional levels, and better able to keep themselves in check in stressful situations and environments. They are more aware of their strengths and weaknesses.

Renown psychologist, Daniel Goleman brought his groundbreaking book – Emotional Intelligence: Why it Matters More than IQ (1996) into the limelight and the psychological community was taken by storm. Daniel Goleman divides the 5 elements ( I have added a 6th: adaptability) into two broad categories: (1) Personal skills: How we manage ourselves and (2) Interpersonal skills: How we handle relationships with others.

Personal Skills

Self Awareness

“Being self-aware is not the absence of mistakes, but the ability to learn and correct them.” Daniel Chidiac

Self-awareness refers to the ability a person has to be in tune with his or her own emotions, how they affect moods, actions, and behaviors. Self-awareness enables us to identify what or how we are feeling at a given moment and see it as separate from the situation and other people. It helps us to be aware of our reactions and understand them as well as understand the relationship between feelings and behavior

When a person is in tune with herself, she is also aware of her strengths as well as her weaknesses. Having this awareness enables her to be open to new perspectives and information and recognizing that she may not have all the information or may even be wrong. This self-connection makes it easier for her to learn from others and new information.

Generally, a person who is self-aware is confident with herself and with others, has a positive outlook on life and doesn’t tend to take herself or life too seriously.

Some Specific Characteristics of Self Awareness

  • Is emotionally aware
  • Self Assesses
  • Is self-confident
  • Is aware of strengths and weaknesses

 Self-regulation

“Self-control is a key factor in achieving success. We can’t control everything in life, but we can definitely control ourselves.” Jan McKingley Hilado

Self-regulation or self-control means that we are in control of our emotions, our reactions and behaviors and not the other way around. Sometimes people tend to get the two mixed up in the heat of conflict or crises. Being self-regulated means that a person will choose to pause before speaking or acting to prevent saying or doing something that she might regret after.

For leaders, in particular, this quality of being self-regulated even in trying situations is a professional asset. The ability to assess situations and respond appropriately and calmly, maintaining control over their emotions can be a much-needed skill in conflictual or confrontational scenarios. Self-regulated people have a feel for the situation and are proactive rather than reactive.

Some Specific Characteristics of Self-Regulation

  • Self-control
  • Trustworthiness
  • Adaptability
  • Resiliency
  • Conscientious
  • Does not compromise values

 Self Motivation

“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” ~ Tony Robbins

A self-motivated person is one who sets his own standards and goals independent of exterior standards and goals.  He generally has high standards for himself in all areas of his life. Don’t count on a self-motivated person to be too concerned with what is going on around him – he is focused and driven by his internal purpose. This person generally will not worry too much about the naysayers or failure – he gets back up and keeps going. The self-motivated person is not afraid to take risks, experiment and try new things. He is hardworking and responsible.

Some Characteristics of Self-Motivation

  • Committed
  • Takes Initiative
  • Goal-oriented
  • Sets high standards for themselves
  • Driven
  • Not afraid to take risks
  • Clear about goals and purpose

 Empathy

“Empathy is the ability to step outside of your own bubble and into the bubbles of other people.” C. Joybell

Empathy refers to the ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes (or circumstances to see things from another person’s perspective. It involves putting aside our natural prejudices and preconceived notions and taking the time to listen to what the person is saying – listening without jumping in to respond. Having empathy requires that we develop a curiosity about other people, a desire to know them independently of any professional context. It also involves our being able to open ourselves up, to become vulnerable to a certain extent and authentic. Empathy really is compassion and authenticity.

Some Characteristics of Empathy

  • Understands others
  • Develops others
  • Political awareness
  • Attuned to nonverbal language
  • Curious
  • A good listener
  • Willingness to be vulnerable

 Social Skills

“A boss creates fear, a leader confidence.  A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes.  A boss knows all, a leader asks questions.  A boss makes work drudgery, a leader makes it interesting.  A boss is interested in himself or herself, a leader is interested in the group.” – Russell H. Ewing

This category covers a lot of skills, but, essentially it refers to our ability to relate to, work with, communicate with and lead other people. Social skills are needed to be able to form strong relationships with people, whether at work or with people close to us. Good social skills enable us to bring disagreements to the surface and deal with them quickly and well rather than let the unspoken fester for days or weeks. Listening and the willingness to hear the other person or people, whether for good news or negative news builds trust and trustworthiness between people. Finally, having good social skills means being willing to share ideas, plans, and information with others rather than withhold valuable information.

Some Characteristics of Social Skills

  • Persuasion and influence
  • Communication skills
  • Conflict management skills
  • Cooperation
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Building bonds

I would like to add one more Emotional Intelligence Skill in addition to the 5 presented. I think it merits having a separate category and is a very important skill to have: Adaptability

Adaptability

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw

A 2008 study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, entitled Growing Global Executive Talent, showed that the top three leadership qualities that will be important over the years ahead include: the ability to motivate staff (35 percent); the ability to work well across cultures (34 percent); and the ability to facilitate change (32 percent). The least important were technical expertise (11 percent) and “bringing in the numbers” (10 percent).

Clearly, adaptability is an important skill to have in an ever-changing world (culturally, economically, technologically, and socially). More and more people are expected to be able to understand and work with people from different cultures, keep up with ever-changing technology, and even the latest research and developments in the dynamics of working with other people. The workplace no longer looks like the workplace of even 10 years ago. Today, people need to be increasingly open to new ideas, deal with the unexpected, adapt to new strategies and flow with innovation. they need to be adaptable and teachable.

Some Characteristics of Adaptability

  • Teachable
  • Ability to handle the unexpected
  • Adapt to new realities and strategies

For far too many years there has been a focus on academic intelligence and “natural” intelligence or the intelligence quotient (IQ) as determining factors for one’s success or failure in life. The problem with this way of thinking is that it projects the idea that intelligence is something we either have or don’t have to varying degrees. It has been the driving force in educational circles to guiding students to one profession or another. This focus on an intelligence quotient naturally assumed there was only an intellectual competency and nothing else mattered for academic success.

Fortunately, the fruit of much research has shed light on the fact that there are many forms of intelligence and this makes sense since we are complex creatures. It is refreshing to know that we can have a part in building our own intelligence through education and practice rather than simply be a recipient of doled out intelligence. It is empowering and liberating to know that we can change the course of our life and that of others through developing ourselves and learning to increase our emotional intelligence and other forms of intelligence such as adversity intelligence or even social intelligence.

The Takeaway

People are such wonderfully amazing and complex creatures. We all have so much to offer and tremendous potential. Emotional intelligence is available to every one of us and developing the skills involved will make a difference in all aspects of our lives. These skills are an unquestionable asset to our professional lives and can make all the difference in how we are perceived in the business world. In our personal relationships, highly developed emotional intelligence is a full toolbox to help us wade through relational minefields and build solid bonds. Clearly, acquiring some level of emotional intelligence is important.

Related Posts

The 10 Soft Skills of Leadership

10 Important Tips for Communication

7 Ways to Resolving Conflict

25 Happiness Quotes to Brighten Your Day

The Art of Influence – The New Direction

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


The Slight Edge: Simple Habits For Success

Category : Success

“Gentlemen, this is a football” – Vince Lombardi

We are all familiar with the financial concept of compound interest in the world of finance, which simply put, is the principle that the interest that we make will also earn interest, and this interest will, in turn, earn interest. This will go on indefinitely and the larger the balance becomes, the larger the interest accumulated.  Small amounts compounded consistently over time will yield consistently larger amounts.

This principle of compounding is not just a financial principal but is a principle that is applicable in all areas of our lives. This principle is really what we call potential and what author and entrepreneur, Jeff Olson calls The Slight Edge in his book by the same name. In his book, Jeff Olson explains why some people are able to achieve success in their lives, not just financial success, but success in all areas.

What makes all the difference comes down to the habits we cultivate in our everyday lives, to the choices we make and where we invest our time on a regular basis.  Most people, however, will choose not to do the simple disciplines required. Why? “The simple things that lead to success are all easy to do. But they are just as easy not to do”. (p. 54) The second reason he gives is “The results are invisible – they don’t add up to success”. (p.55)  So here is another problem – The simple habits which create success in the long run, don’t seven seem like they are having much of an impact in the short term. They may even seem trivial. and that is why most people won’t do them.

“There are two kinds of habits: those that serve you, and those that don’t.”
Jeff Olson, 

Slight Edge choices might include:

  • Reading a book for 30 minutes a day
  • Waking up early to exercise each day
  • Eating vegetables and fruits regularly
  • Keeping track of spending

Some habits that do not serve well might be:

  • Choosing to watch tv shows over reading
  • Sleeping an extra hour instead of getting up early
  • Eating processed snack foods instead of healthy snacks
  • Not keeping regular track of spending

Just as we know the importance of regularly putting aside money to invest in order to benefit from the principle of compound interest, we also know that good habits in other areas of our lives will reap rewards over time. Healthy eating habits will yield healthy bodies, healthy relationship habits will yield healthy relationships and healthy lifestyle habits will yield a healthy lifestyle. But it takes more than just knowing what to do; it also takes a change in the way we think. In fact, if we don’t change  “the way you think about simple everyday things”., then no amount of how-tos will get you anywhere or give you any true solutions.”

The First Ingredient

Self-help and weight loss programs abound, but, unfortunately, many people stay with them a while and then stop. They come to the conclusion that the program didn’t work or “wasn’t for me”.  People don’t stay with the program because the attitude behind the actions is not the right one to keep them going. Of course, people can get inspiration, give themselves pep talks to get them going, but these will not keep them on track long term. Jeff Olson calls the first ingredient: the philosophy, which is “what you know, how you hold it, and how it affects what you do.” He says that a positive philosophy (mindset) will translate into a positive attitude and a negative philosophy will breed a negative attitude.

“The truth is, what you do matters. What you do today matters. What you do every day matters. Successful people just do the things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in.”
Jeff Olson

The Slight Edge Curve

Jeff Olson writes that everything in life is on a curve; there are no straight paths. We are either curving up or curving down in life. He says we are either “increasing or decreasing”.  In the graph above, the positive compound interest lifestyle is represented by the upward curve. The downward curve is the formula for failure (repeated bad choices, attitudes, habits over time). The upward curve represents essentially 1 person out of 20 (5%) who will choose the path of compounding and be relatively successful in the different areas of their life. The downward curve represents the 19 people out of 20 (95%) who know what to do but choose not to.

“You have complete control over the direction that the rest of you life takes.” – Jeff Olson

Time Is Either a Friend or an Enemy

Time is really all we have and it can be our greatest ally or our worst enemy depending on how we choose to spend it. When we have a “time is my friend” mentality, we make all of our choices from this perspective. We can use it to cultivate good habits and not waste it on activities or choices that are unproductive. Simple disciplines over time will promote you in ways you might not have seen and neglecting the simple disciplines will expose the neglect. It really all comes down to what you want out of life and the direction you want it to go.  It will go up or it will go down, but it will not travel in a straight line.

Blame Vs. Responsibility

In his book, Jeff Olson explains that there are two predominant attitudes that will help you to measure which side of the curve spectrum you are on. On the down curve, the predominant attitude is: blame. The predominant attitude of the upward curve is responsibility. Having an attitude of responsibility sets you free and empowers you. Essentially, it allows you to be in control of your actions, reactions, and choices. People with the attitude that they are responsible are not limited by circumstances and that how they respond determines their success, not the circumstance.

On the downward curve are those who are “blame professionals”. For this group, everything and everyone is fair game for them: the weather, the economy, the government, their upbringing and their parents, their boss or their colleagues and so much more. In fact, this group lives continually in a “victim” mentality and are disempowered by this very habit-attitude of blaming.

The Landscape of the Curve

Something else we can notice about this diagram is that at the beginning, it looks like the simple disciplines are not making too much of an impact. for example, if two people have the desire to be physically fit or be healthy, both may be starting at the same place. Let’s call them Sarah and Anne. Sarah chooses to apply simple disciplines such as healthier eating and regular exercise, while Anne does not. For a time there will be no difference in results, and they will be traveling along parallelly. Then, slowly at first and then more consistently and quickly, Sarah will begin to travel the upward curve in terms of her results at getting healthier.

In a business scenario, John and Maxime may be both traveling the same professional route at first. However, Maxime has chosen to study and learn new skills. He has chosen to read more in his field and outside his field as well as enroll in classes to improve his skills. John, on the other hand, continues doing what he has always done and chooses not to invest in himself? Which of the two will probably be getting promotions down the line?

7 Simple Habits to Close the Gap

Nothing that is significant is meaningless even if it is very small or goes unnoticed. In fact, most of what is important go unnoticed by most people.

Show Up

No matter what, be there where you need to be to do what you need to do. Just by consistently showing up, whether it is exercising, reading a book each day or making sales calls, by showing up, you are already ahead of 50% of the people. most people simply will not show up on a regular basis, Many will give up.

Be Consistent

Whatever results you are obtaining now, press on. Consistently doing what you need to do to get the results you want to have over time will get you the results you are chasing. It doesn’t matter where you start or when you start (but the best time is now), it doesn’t matter how good, how smart or how talented you or anyone else us. Consistency trumps everything else.

Have a Good Attitude Every day

Attitude is key to the path your life will take as we have seen above. Your attitude will determine your future far more than any circumstances and setbacks will. If you can look up, you can get up. A positive attitude will impact you and everyone around you for the better. Have a thankful spirit, appreciate what you have. No matter what happens in life we always have things to be thankful for.

Be Committed

It all begins with a decision and a commitment to what we have decided. Commitment means that we are honest with ourselves and will do what we said we would do no matter how long it takes, no matter how we feel. Success in anything is not a 100-meter dash; it is a marathon. Commitment involves discipline and regularity. It has been shown that a habit takes 66 days to form and then we need to continue it until it becomes cemented.

Have Faith

Even if we don’t see results right away, we need to trust the process. And what is the process? It is the day in, day out plugging along, doing what needs to be done to get the results we want. Faith is long term vision and belief that that vision will be a reality. Lack of faith is what makes us doubt and then give up, but giving up will not bring results. So faith is an extremely important factor in the direction our life will go.

Pay the Price

There will be a price; anything worthwhile has a price. Maybe it will mean having to be uncomfortable for a while, maybe it will mean doing less of those activities that you enjoy but are not helpful or productive, maybe it will mean having to say “no” more often – no to the good, but yes to the great. Results require discipline and sacrifice for a good reason – short term pain for long term gain.

Have Integrity

Above all, have integrity towards yourself and others. Do what is right in the right way. Integrity is all about who you are and what you do when no one is looking. It,s about doing what you said you would do even when you donÙ,t feel like it, even when it is not convenient. Integrity is the work behind the scenes.

The Takeaway

” Give me six hours to chop a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

At the end of the book, Jeff Olson references Abraham Lincoln who said that he would spend twice as long to sharpen his ax as he cutting down a tree. So it is all about the preparation, The care we put into getting the results we want. We will need to sharpen our ax over and over to be able to “cut down our tree.”  Everything we do is either bringing us closer to the results we want or further away. Our simple disciplines done on a regular basis over time will yield results.

Related Posts

12 Simple Daily Habits to Change Your Life

The Why and How of Happiness

Why Attitude Really Is Everything

Are You Attending Your Life

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

 


The Art Of Influence – The New Direction

Category : Communication , Success

“There are two parts to influence: First, influence is powerful; and second, influence is subtle. You wouldn’t let someone push you off course, but you might let someone nudge you off course and not even realize it”. – Jim Rohn

It has been said that everything rises and falls on leadership. And what is leadership but the “art of Influence“? We are all leaders at certain points and periods in our lives whether we realize it or not. There will always be people over whom we have an influence to some degree; this is indisputable. But the question arises, what kind of influence do we or will we have? People around us are watching us. Our children are watching us, our colleagues are watching us and our friends and acquaintances are watching us.

What do I mean by watching? I mean this, that everything we do or say will have an impact on other people. People want to know if we are honest and trustworthy. They want to see if we are dependable and loyal. By our very words and especially our actions, we are influencers in our entourage. Do our actions match our words?  The degree to which people will listen to us, take us seriously and even follow us will depend on the degree to which we “walk our talk'”.

“Your actions speak som loudly that I can’t hear what you are saying”.

How does this play out in our everyday lives? We all have different relationship spheres that we circle around in. We have our close relationship circles (family and close friends), we have our larger relationship sphere ( acquaintances, groups, neighbors) and we also have our professional sphere (colleagues, clients etc.) In all of these spheres, we are influencing one another to various degrees, depending on the nature of the relationship.

As the title of the article suggests, influence is an art. The book “Launching a Leadership Revolution”  by authors Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward break down this Art of Influence or leadership into what the authors call: The Trilateral Leadership Ledger. They state that:

“For leaders growth cannot be optional. The only way to keep pace with increasing responsibilities is through increased ability” (p.94)

Personal Growth

Growth must take place in two phases: personal and influence with others. The Trilateral Leadership Ledger deals with the first step: personal growth because a person can not influence others effectively without first taking care of his own personal growth.  Personal growth in leadership, the authors say, is a function of Character, task, and relationships

Character

Our character really refers to who we are as a person, that is to say, who we are on the inside. How do we measure up in integrity, honesty, patience, self-discipline, and humility?

Task

This subcategory refers to our ability to get a job done. Can people depend on us to hold our end of the line? Qualities to look for here include a sense of responsibility. a work ethic, availability, willingness to invest our time, tenacity and perseverance.

Relationships

This category refers to our ability to build strong bonds with others and get along even in all the ups and downs of life. A leader seeking to grow in this area would want to be: accepting of people, approving of people, appreciating of people, encouraging, seeing the good, seeking win-win solutions, and helping others to achieve their goals.

According to the authors, a leader can measure his overall personal growth by seeing he does in each of these three areas on a scale of 1-10. But, the authors caution, Each category is to be multiplied by the other two. For example, if a leader assesses himself as 8 in one category, 5 in another category, but 0 in the third, then the overall score would be 0, meaning there is still much work to be done. So the Trilateral Leadership Ledger is a measuring tool to evaluate personal growth in the three areas and determine his or her overall effectiveness.

Going From Personal Growth to Influencing

The authors suggest that there are two transitions that need to happen before a person can be an effective influencer in his or her entourage and before people will agree to follow.

Step one

Character (integrity, honesty, self-discipline etc.) needs to be multiplied by courage. What does this mean in practical terms? If someone has integrity and is honest, he or she will choose to live in such a way that they do what is right. They don’t rob, steal or tell lies. They keep away from shady goings-on. Courage steps in when we see something wrong is being done to someone, or in business, for example, and we step in order to right the wrong.

Step two

Our character is multiplied by the trust people have in us. To illustrate, we may be very strong in our character, we do what is right and we don’t fold when things are not being done honestly, but if we are not competent at what we do, then it really doesn’t matter how good our character is. People simply will not follow a leader they do not believe is competent to lead.

Competency

Competency refers to having the skills necessary for a particular job or position. We ask: Does he or she have the skills to do what he or she is doing? Often, people will say they have “x” number of years of experience when really what they have is “x” multiplied by the number of years they have been doing what they say they have experience in. In other words, they may have been doing it for a long time, but have not become a master in it. Experience and mastery are two different things.  Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers) points out that it takes thousands of hours to master a skill. He says that 10,000 hours are needed for elite mastery.

Many want to achieve world-class results but are not willing to put in world-class efforts and be in for the long haul. The result usually is that when the going gets tough, most go home. Not many are interested in being excellent at what they do, whatever they do and many settle for “good enough”. This is why there is such a big gap in work ethics, why corners are cut, time and money are wasted and squandered. It is too easy to take the short cut, do the minimum rather than put in the time. As the saying goes:

“When all is said and done, much more is said than actually done”.

So when followers ( employees, students, children, group members) do not see the leaders putting in the time or pursuing excellence in what they do, they are not likely to trust them or buy into the plan.

A Word About Relationships

In any leadership situation, relationship building is key. Nothing good will happen without solid relationships. A leader, whether parent, employer, teacher or other would do well to invest, and I do mean invest, time into building solid relationships. In his book “How to Have Confidence and Power In Dealing With People”, author Les Giblin outlines a triple-A formula for attracting people (and building strong relationships).

  • Accept
  • Approve
  • Appreciate

Acceptance

It is a universal human desire to want to feel accepted, much like the oxygen we need to breathe. And we strongly desire to be accepted just the way we are without the bells and whistles. We all want to be able to just be ourselves without having to wear a mask or put on a show just so others will like us. The author writes:

Strangely enough, the people who accept people, and like them just as they are, have the most influence in changing the other person’s behavior for the better (p. 66)

To accept others as they are, also means that we need to get rid of our expectations of how we think they should be, our prejudices, our filters and anything else that gets in the way of taking them as they are.

Approval

The author says that approval goes a step beyond acceptance; it has a more positive connotation. When we approve, we are actually trying to find something that we like about a person. People are not looking for flattery, but they are looking to be noticed for something about themselves. Showing approval means finding something about a person that merits highlighting in order to encourage them. Of course, approval doesn’t mean that we approve of everything the person does, but that we accept them as a person.

Appreciation

The word “appreciate” means to raise something or someone in value, so that is exactly what someone who wishes to be an influencer should strive to do. Find ways that will show them that you value them as a person and the work that they do. People want to know that they count. What are some ways we can do this, as examples?

  • Don’t keep people waiting; respect their time and yours
  • Thank people
  • Communicate with people directly, not through emails, and voicemails or texts
  • Acknowledge their presence and introduce them, if necessary
  • Treat all people as special

It really doesn’t matter where we are or what the context is. Everyone deserves to be treated this way. The waitress at the corner café deserves to be appreciated as our most valued customer. The lady at the checkout counter deserves as much appreciation as our employer. And of, course we don’t do this for what we can gain- it’s not about ” I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine”. An effective influencer is someone who serves others not for what they can do for him or give him or for what he will gain, he serves, lifts others up as a matter of being human. Our gestures will give them confidence.

A Word about Influence

As we have seen, we cannot just call ourselves an influencer and be one just like that. Becoming someone of influence is a process of self-examination and growth. We can not expect to have a positive influence on others if we have not learned to manage ourselves or, at least are in the process of doing so. First of all, if we have character weakness, if our actions are not in line with the values we say we hold on to, people will see right through the veneer. They will call us out or at least they will ignore us. Influence, like charity. begins at home (in our heart and mind).

Influence is also not a “do what I tell you to do” scenario. If we are not out in the field and down in the trenches, walking our talk, then we can hardly expect others to believe us or believe in us, can we? The people we are hoping to lead or influence expect that we are competent to do so, or, at the very least. doing our best to become competent. No one is going to be willing to work with or cooperate with someone who is just an orchestrator from the podium. People follow people who are fully engaged, present and willing to learn. In short, they expect leaders to be real and authentic.

Being well known or having a lot of contacts / or a big following is not necessarily an indication that a person is an effective leader. it takes more than fame and a huge following to be an influencer. Some very good influencers work with very small groups of people ( a family, for example, or a small group of friends). Just because a person’s name is well-known in social or business circles, does not make them an effective influencer. We need to be careful who we listen to and who we follow; they may be leading us away from who we are.

The Takeaway

I hope that you have enjoyed this post.  So many people in the world today want to give themselves a title without merit. Many are quick to call themselves this or that and often it is empty in terms of content. Becoming an influencer or a leader is just that – becoming. It is a process; it is a journey. People choose to follow us; it is not a popularity game. I hope that this post has been helpful to you in your journey wherever you are on that journey.

Related Posts

The 10 Soft SKills of Leadership

Why Speed of Trust Matters for Business

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Take a Risk – Be Courageous

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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

 

 

 


Are You Ready for Your Breakthrough?

Category : Success

 

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

We all (or many of us did) heard these words when we were growing up: study hard, get good grades and you’ll get a good stable job and be set. Didn’t we hear that from parents, teachers, and others? So, many of us did just that. We followed the program. But the program we followed did not teach us much about real-life or how to actually thrive in real life. The program just taught us how to be good cogs in a well-oiled wheel. Most of us didn’t really learn the true characteristics of success in whatever we choose to do.

Our society has an unwritten classification system with essentially two categories of people: winners and losers. A winner (according to our society) is “loosely” perceived as someone who has “played and mastered” the game. He is someone who has jumped through or manipulated the hoops to his advantage and has come out on top. A loser is perceived again,” loosely”, as someone who has somehow fallen through the cracks of life. He is someone who may have gotten off to a bad start and stayed there or someone considered to “not be going anywhere”.

But that is society’s paradigm and society’s system. It is just a perception. I want to talk about how the concept of “winner” and “loser” has more to do with a mindset than what happened in our past, what our current abilities are or even what our current our situation is. So let’s give a new definition to the words winner and loser.  Please know that I am not (intending to) categorize anyone; I merely wish to describe a way of seeing things and provide a backdrop for creating positive change.

“All personal breakthroughs begin with a change in beliefs. So how do we change? The most effective way is to get your brain to associate massive pain to the old belief. You must feel deep in your gut that not only has this belief cost you pain in the past, but it’s costing you in the present and, ultimately, can only bring you pain in the future. Then you must associate tremendous pleasure to the idea of adopting a new, empowering belief”. – Tony Robbins

A “Winner” Mindset

A winner, in this new paradigm, is not defined by or controlled by his past. Instead, he chooses to learn from past mistakes (his mistakes and the mistakes of others). He does not live in the past but prefers to fully live in the present (the moment). And he leads his life into the future (he has focus and vision). The winner is determined and perseverent against obstacles. He also chooses to be a winner by adopting new attitudes, beliefs, and courses of action. This paradigm is a lifestyle, that is to say, the way a person decides to live life by being in control of his choices and attitudes and by not allowing these to control him.

A “Loser” Mindset

A loser (mindset) lives in the past. That is, he replays the past over and over, like a movie, in his head and uses the past to justify the present. The past is his backdrop for rationalizing why he is where he is in life today. His approach to life is largely reactionary. He also rationalizes the future, using his past and present to decide how his future will be. He blames his “bad luck” on things outside himself.  This person is, unfortunately, caught in a belief system that holds him captive to his pas and to his environment. A person in this frame of mind is not stuck there; he or she can always, at any point choose to turn his life around.

Dealing with Failure

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” —Thomas A. Edison

When confronted with obstacles and failures in our lives, our mindset is what really determines where we go from here. To the winner, failure is merely an event, a necessary step in the process of success. It is a learning tool of what not to do and an opportunity to gain wisdom. To the loser, failure is seen as a personal blow. He or she looks at failure as an indication of a personal deficiency such as not being smart enough, fast enough, or competent enough. Because he takes it as a personal reflection, he can not learn from the failure.

In his book “The Magic Of Thinking Big“, author David J Schwartz sums up five ways to turn defeat into victory (pp. 250-251):

  1. Study setbacks to pave your way to success. When you lose, learn and then go on to win next time.
  2. Have the courage to be your own constructive critic. Seek out your faults and weaknesses and then correct them. This makes you a professional.
  3. Stop blaming luck. Research each setback. Find out what went wrong.
  4. Blend persistence with experimentation. Stay with your goal, but don’t beat your head against a stone wall.
  5. Remember, there is a good side in every situation. See the good side and whip discouragement.

It Begins with Our Past

“We Need to Change How We Think about the Past. Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change”.  – Wayne Dyer

The obvious fact is: history cannot be changed. No matter how much we wish it could, or how we wish we could undo some things in our past, it simply cannot be changed. So we can choose to live there in wishful and self-pitying misery or we can stand back and see what learning nuggets we can use to apply to the present. Obviously, if we regret some of our choices, we do not want to repeat them. so why not start there? Why not decide not to repeat the same mistakes?

Doing the same thing, again and again, will not give us different (and better) results, but using the experience from the past (our experience and the experience of others) as a teaching tool on what not to do is powerful in bringing about the change we want to see. Nothing changes without first having the realization that something has to change. The catalyst for change can be the mistakes of the past. The winner makes a choice to learn from the past to define his future. The past is a teacher, not a millstone.

Most of Our Time Is Spent Filling Time

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”  – Bruce Lee

If you think about it, we do spend a whole chunk of our time doing repeats of what we have already done. We have routines, habits, schedules, and traditions – all designed to repeat the past in the present. We actually don’t use much of our time to do new things. And a lot of our time is being filled by something urgent (we think). We fill our time with busyness (appointments, traffic jams, worrying, conflict-all kinds of things) and the time jar gets filled up pretty fast.

We can fill our jar of time to overflowing without ever doing something significant or life-changing. One emergency follows another and soon we have no idea where the day or the week went. It reminds me of an image I read about concerning rocks, sand, and water.  When we fill up our jar with sand and small rocks (representing unimportant things) and then try to put the big rocks (important things) in after, we have difficulty because space is already taken up by the small rocks and sand.

Why not start with the big rocks first? A winner thinks long term and makes choices to help him get where he wants to go. A winner puts in the big rocks first and then fits the smaller and less important things (pebbles and sand) around the big rocks. In this way, the unimportant emergencies do not usurp the high priorities of his life.

Steering The Kayak

“The direction of your focus is the direction your life will move. Let yourself move toward what is good, valuable, strong and true.” – Ralph Marston

We do this “busyness” because we get caught up in immediate emergencies and lose our direction concerning where we are going and why. It is a bit like being in a kayak in whitewater without a paddle. Without the paddle to help navigate through the rapids we will smash up against rocks and maybe get caught in the twisting rapids. With a paddle, we can direct the kayak and navigate the emergencies to get to where we want to go and we don’t have constantly be on the defensive and react to what happens. We can choose where to go.

And while we are on the subject of kayaking, here are a few things to think about. We are in charge of the kayak and the paddle, not the river. We should know where we are taking the kayak. There are rocks and currents along the way, but when we have a goal and determination, we can dominate the problems. Also, while we are kayaking, we are honing our skills of meeting real challenges head-on and dealing with them. There is no room for worrying, arguing, or wasting time at all. We deal with the important issues straight up: staying alive and getting to the destination.

If You Are Not Where You Want to Be, it’s Time to Do Something About It

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” – Jim Rohn

When is the Best time to plant a tree? Ten years ago! When is the next best time to plant a tree? Now!

Now will not be now for very long. Tomorrow, it will be yesterday. So what do you want to do with now? There no better time than the present to make the changes in order to have the changes you want to see. And, the things is, no one is going to decide for you; no one will be living your life for you.

We can either fill time or invest time. Either way, time will pass into the past. And what do you want the future to look like for you? Do you want a repeat of the past with a few variations or do you want to do something new, something challenging, something that will make a difference? Do you want changes in your relationships or in your professional life? Anything is possible with a winner mindset.  Remember, the winner is inside of you; it is your potential.

The Takeaway

Everything is a choice, isn’t it?  All of life is a choice and, we are the result of the choices we have made, consciously or unconsciously in our actions, our words, our thoughts, and our attitudes throughout our lives. We really can not blame anyone or anything for ho or where we are today. This is powerful because it also means we are in control of where we are now and what we will be doing tomorrow. It all begins with how we think. What tomorrow will be for us will come as a result of how we think today.

Have a great day!

Related Posts

How Belief Will Open Doors

Why Attitude Really Is Everything

Be Courageous, Take a Risk

Why Natural Talent Is Overrated

5 Ways We Block Our Success

Did you enjoy this post? Please leave a comment.

Click and share below.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The 10 Soft Skills of Leadership

Category : Communication , Success

photo credit: Rawpixel unsplash

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^awarenes. 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 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 with 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 communities. 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

Has this post been helpful?  I Would love to hear your thoughts.
Click and share below.
Diana Lynne

 


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 is our perception 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 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

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

Click and share

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

 

 


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.

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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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