Know Better – Do Better – Get Better

Tips & Tactics for Personal Development

Category Archives: Success strategies

Emotional Tripwires

In an earlier post (12/13/2011) I referred to the Golden Moment – that instant of time between our decisions and our actions – that allows us to change our habitual ways of responding to people and circumstances in our lives. When we have time to think clearly about deciding on doing or saying something, we can usually avoid trouble. But what about the times when we don’t see the emotional trip wires in our path? What about those times when our emotions outrun our thoughts and we do or say something harmful?

The solution I have found is to pay attention to those times when my emotions are aroused – when I’m reacting more from feeling than thought. I stop and pay attention to how emotionally aroused I am as I go through a day. I usually find that I experience a range of emotions – from calm to alert to irritated – all in the course of a single day. I have learned that I have predictable reactions to different types of events and people. Disorganized and unfocused meetings usually make me irritable. Unplanned changes to ongoing projects tend to make me feel stressed. Taking time to discuss how to better manager a difficult project or individual usually makes me feel more in control of my workload

By regularly observing how I tend to react to these situations, I have learned where my emotional trip wires lurk.

I think we’re less likely to be blindsided by our emotions when we can recognize how active they are at any point in our day and act accordingly. If you know when you are emotionally out of balance you can delay taking actions or saying things that you may regret later. But if we don’t learn where our emotional trip wires are, we will likely continue to be tripped up by our immediate emotional reactions that can cause us so much trouble and also cause others to think less of us.

So if you take some time to learn your own emotional range in time you will be able to see the trip wires that so often cause you to react in ways that often defeat you. Your emotions may still surprise you and at times get the best of you. But you’ll be better able to manage them instead of allowing them to continue to trip you up and embarrass you.

Top 20 tactics so far – a checklist for personal growth

For those of you who like lists, here’s a checklist of topics I have covered in my earlier entries:

1 . If you don’t define success for yourself, someone else will.
2. Good intentions are not enough.
3. Change before you have to.
4. You always have choices, even if you don’t like them.
5. There is no success without discipline. Success is not an accident.
6. Find out what doesn’t work, and then don’t do it.
7. You are only a victim if you choose to be a victim.
8. Never be in a hurry to lose.
9. Criticism is never welcome, but it can help you know what to work on.
10. Setting goals requires both a “what” and a “why”.
11. Feeling fearful is normal. It’s usually a sign that you need to take some action.
12. Fail better. Success rarely comes without the lessons failure provides.
13. Build structure to support your efforts to grow and change. Willpower is overrated.
14. Know the difference between success and satisfaction.
15. The fear of failing is often worse than actually failing.
16. Your habits will make or break you. Choose them wisely.
17. Real and lasting growth comes through small changes.
18. At all times tell the truth about your life.
19. Take some action every day to move toward your goals.
20. Have a personal code to guide your choices so you don’t get trapped by circumstances.

7 things you can do today to improve your life

If you are looking for some simple but effective ways to improve your life and feel better about what you do each day, try incorporating one of these actions into your daily routine:

1. Smile. Not only will others appreciate this, you’ll feel better as well!

2. Say “Please” and “Thank you” consistently – and be sincere. It’s good for you to recognize that others are helping you, and it’s also good for them to feel appreciated.

3. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. Don’t stare – this isn’t a contest. Look at them for a few seconds and then look away to one side. Don’t look down – it makes you look weak.

4. Use a person’s name when speaking to them. Don’t overdo this. Just remember that people like to hear their names. Adding their name now and then pleases them, helps them focus on what you are saying and makes them feel important.

5. Allow others to talk about what interests them without competing with them. Let them tell their stories without adding your comments about how your own experience might be similar or ever better. See the next point.

6. Stop trying to win all the time. Let others go in front of you in line when they are in a hurry. Let the rude drivers have their way – they’ll get their own reward. Winning may feel good, but too much of it will make you an unpleasant person.

7. Listen 2x longer than you usually do. If you usually listen to others only long enough to put together your own response, add an equal amount of time to think about whether your response is really appropriate. You can add value to a conversation with a little thought or a thoughtful question.

Real personal change comes from consistently applying a few tactics rather than trying to change your whole life all at once.

Tell the truth about your life

If you are unhappy with any part of your life, the first step is to tell yourself the truth about it. This sounds simple, but it’s often very difficult. But without knowing how you really think and feel about something, you won’t have a clue about how to change it. So the first step in this process is to confess how you really feel about the things that are bothering you.

We often discount the truth about these hard situations because we are afraid that we can’t change them. And in some cases this is true. We can’t always change things that we don’t like. For example I can’t change the fact that my job is in Atlanta but all my extended family members live elsewhere. I simply have to live with this and adjust the best I can. I can, however, choose how to think about this situation so that I don’t make myself miserable. I can choose to see this situation as beyond my control, and plan to call or visit family members whenever possible, so that the connections remain strong.

But we frequently let ourselves off too easily when we don’t take the time to find out the real causes of our discontent. So here’s a technique for getting to the root of your feelings about a situation.

Complete each of the following sentences honestly:

When I think about this situation I feel….
What I dislike most about this situation is ….
If someone close to me knew about this situation they would tell me ….
The one thing I wish I could change about this situation is ….
If I didn’t have to deal with this situation I would be able to ….

Each one of these sentences forces you to look deeper at the situation and confess a little about how you feel. By slowly unwrapping the thoughts that surround it, you are moving closer to the core issue. Now pick an area of your life where something isn’t working and ask yourself these questions. You may be surprised to find that the real reason you are unhappy is quite different that the reason you tell yourself at first. Read more of this post

7 reasons you are not successful – and what to do about it

Actually, there are probably many more reasons you are not as successful as you want to be. But let’s start with these.

1. You don’t know what success looks like – for you. You measure your success using someone else’s yardstick. If you do this, you will almost always come up short, since you see the great results of their work but you don’t see them actually struggling to get things done. Outcomes can be deceiving. Success is personal, and differs greatly from person to person. Choose your own yardstick carefully.

2. You don’t have goals. You have dreams and ideas, but no goals – nothing that gets you so fired up that you feel compelled to go after it. So you go after whatever crosses your path instead of what inspires you. Take time to learn what moves you, and then pick goals that allow you to spend time doing things that light your fire. If you don’t know what moves you, ask your friends and family members. They often know what lights your fire better than you do.

3. You don’t have discipline. You wander from one idea to another, and you don’t stick to any one plan long enough to see how it turns out. This is not only tiring, it’s also discouraging. So pick one small project that you can complete in a week or two, plan how to accomplish it, and do what it takes to finish it. You may be surprised how much this small effort can inspire you.

4. You don’t have enthusiasm. You push yourself to get things done, but you’re not inspired. Everything seems hard. Stop working and learn how to play. Pick a hobby and really go after it for 6 months. Schedule your “play time” and stick to it. It will refresh your mind and free up energy for other areas of your life.

5. You don’t have support or structure. You let other people, circumstances or events drive your choices, instead of designing your days around your priorities. You go it alone, and your friends can’t help you because they aren’t sure what your want. So let your friends and family know what you want and tell them how they can help you.

6. You are waiting for success to find you, instead of hunting it down yourself. Success is elusive, and sneaks up on your when you are not looking – but only when you are working on something that inspires you. So get busy with something that lights you up and you may find that success is looking over your shoulder.

7. You have given up on yourself. You don’t see enough value in who you are or what you can do, so you let life happen to you instead of directing it to your advantage. This is serious. It’s also a lie. You have value as a person no matter what your circumstances. And the best way to find and increase this value is by using whatever talents and resources you have to help others. You will get back what you put out.

And if you are wondering how I know all this, it’s because I’ve made all these mistakes myself.

2 helpful tactics if you are unemployed

If you are hunting for a new job, you probably already know that the work involved in doing this can take over your entire life. You can spend hours online researching companies and developing new contacts. It can take a half a day for 1 interview. And getting the paperwork you need ready for each meeting can also consume many hours.

If you have been searching for several weeks, you already know how draining all this can be. Finding balance in your life and maintaining your motivation can be very difficult. Here are 2 things you can do to help keep yourself on track:

1. Every day do something you can do well or easily. I call these mastery tasks. These can be routine tasks like food shopping, banking, cleaning or mowing the lawn. Doing this as a break from your job hunting will help recharge you and give you a feeling that you can do some things well.

2. Every day do something that brings you pleasure. Taking time to read something inspiring, going for a walk, exercising, and eating a favorite food can also help recharge your energy and give you a break from your work. You may feel guilty about doing this, but I recommend doing it no matter how guilty you feel. All work and no play is not healthy.

I don’t think anyone is really cut out for the work that job hunting requires. So make sure you take care of yourself and maintain a good balance of work and relaxation throughout your search. This will help you be at your best when you meet potential employers.

Micro commitments

In my last post I talked about the importance of making small changes in our lives and how these can be more effective than trying to make big changes. It is often easier to start and maintain small changes over time, as every change requires focus and energy.

Today I want to introduce the idea of micro commitments.

Micro commitments are time- and situation-limited commitments we make to ourselves to help build up our ability to make and stick to them. They help us build our commitment muscles.

An example would be choosing to focus on doing something unpleasant for 15 minutes, rather than saying that you will wait until you feel more inspired. You make the commitment for a limited time and situation and when you keep this commitment, you start to build up your ability to keep larger commitments.

The power of micro commitments is that we can use them in situations where we don’t have the time or the energy for larger changes, but we want to start making changes. We can make them for an hour, a day or for a single situation. And each time we succeed we build up our ability to make and keep larger commitments.

I use micro commitments every day to help me manage the tasks that I would otherwise put off. It’s better to do something small to move you toward your goal than it is to either put off doing something or beat yourself up because you didn’t do something positive. Try it for yourself. Start with small tasks and gradually build toward larger ones and watch your commitment muscles grow!

Growing through small changes

We all have things in our lives that we would like to change. Perhaps we’re not eating right or getting enough exercise. Or we are working too many hours and not getting enough rest. We know we need to make changes. And every now and then we get inspired and try to overhaul our entire life. And for a few days we feel really motivated. And then we skip a day. Then 2 days. A week goes by and we don’t keep up our new routine. And now we feel even more depressed because we couldn’t maintain our new routine.

When we do this, we set ourselves up to fail. Major life changes require an intense focus and lots of energy – two things we often don’t have when we want to make a change. If we do this often enough we will come to believe that we can’t change.

There is a better way. We can make small changes that can grow into big changes.

Rather than trying to change your entire diet, pick 1 or 2 small changes and keep them up for 30 days. For example, eat 1 less snack per day, or eat only healthy snacks between meals. Drink water instead of soda. Go for a walk 3 times a week instead of making yourself do it every day. Go to bed 1 hour earlier 3 times a week. Notice how these changes make you feel. If they make you feel more positive about yourself and your life, keep them up. If they are not helping to motivate you, try something new. Keep going until you find something that you look forward to doing, so that you will keep at it.

When you find the right combination, you will feel better about yourself and your life – and you may also find that other parts of your life start to work better. This is the bonus that comes with making small changes and maintaining them over time.

For more inspiration, check out Doug Grady’s book, The Ripple Effect. It’s Doug’s story of how 1 small change led to bigger, positive changes in his life. It’s available on Amazon at the link below.

http://www.amazon.com/Ripple-Effect-Doug-Grady/dp/0983360790/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345647914&sr=1-1&keywords=doug+grady

Success or satisfaction?

Each person defines success in their own way. For some, success is measured in what they own or whom they know. For others, success is based on the experiences they have had and the people they have become. For most people, success is a very personal matter.

However, if we don’t properly define success for ourselves it can be a trap.

Do you really want the big house or the boat, or do you want to feel important and impress people?

Do you want the important job with the fancy title or do you want to make a difference in the industry and in people’s lives?

When you define success for yourself, make sure that what you want to achieve will also bring you satisfaction and will help others. After all, there’s no point in owning a big house if you have no one with whom to share it. And the important job that destroys your personal life may not bring you the lifestyle you want and in the end it may cut you off from the very people who you most want in your life.

Success may bring satisfaction, but satisfaction is more often what we truly want.

 

 

For managers – 5 tips for better interviews

Interviewing potential new employees can be stressful for both the hiring manager and the candidates. Based on my own experience on both sides of the desk, here are 5 ideas on how to make these meetings less stressful and more productive:

1. Connect. When you interview someone for a job, you are hiring a person, not just a set of skills. So take some time at the beginning to really connect with the person as a human being. It may seem like a waste of time to talk about their favorite sports team, their pets and hobbies, or where they spend their free time. But remember that what you learn here may make a huge difference when it comes to managing them later. They want to be treated as a person, not a number. And you want to know what kind of person you are hiring.

2. Confirm. I’m amazed at how often the person leading an interview has little or no idea of what job description I was given prior to the meeting. In many cases they are looking for completely different skills and aptitudes than what the written description says. So take a few minutes and make sure that you are both talking about the same job description. You might be surprised.

3. Understand their background. It’s extremely difficult to fully understand what someone has accomplished by looking at their resume, and in some cases resumes hide more than they reveal. So in addition to asking them about their skills, also ask them to describe their job duties. How did they plan their day so that the important things got done? Ask whom they interacted with, and how often. Did they take breaks or are they a workaholic? Do they like working in a structured environment or do they prefer a more freewheeling atmosphere? Get to know the person behind the resume and you’ll make better hiring decisions.

4. Give feedback. For job candidates, going through a job interview is like being on trial for their life. Let them know how they did. Tell them what impressed you, and where you have concerns. Even if they didn’t win the job, they want to know how they did. When they hear nothing, they assume the worst. And if you do end up hiring them, you have already started to build a relationship that will make working with them that much easier.

5. Share. Let the candidate know a little about you as a person. He needs to know at least a little about what motivates you, both as a person and as a manager. After all, the candidate is evaluating you as a potential manager. So if you like what a candidate has to offer, both as a person and as a potential new employee, it pays to start building something of a personal relationship with them as early as possible.

Interviewing is hard for both candidates and hiring managers. Hopefully these tips with help both sides reduce the stress that comes with interviewing and allow for better hiring decisions as well – and maybe even make the process of interviewing a little more enjoyable for both sides.

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