Leaders: Here’s Why Multi-Tasking is a Bad Idea

The idea of multi-tasking is a widely popular idea. People brag about how much cool stuff they can do all at the same time. The advent of smartphones, tablets, and smart watches make us all feel like multi-tasking Ninjas.

Multi-tasking does not work

The truth is, it is all a smoke screen. Very rarely do any of us truly multitask. You might move from one thing to another at lightning speed, nano-second stuff, but it is never really simultaneous. It just feels that way.

MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller notes that our brains are “not wired to multitask well… when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.” This constant task-switching encourages bad brain habits. [Published Jul 15, 2015]

Here’s the Rub

To be able to string a series of activities together to do what we all thought of as multitasking, we load up on menial tasks like opening email or tweets. Then we squeeze some work on the big project in the middle. Or maybe you have a deadline for an important delivery of an assignment, so you try to chip away at that while doing other things.

Either way, none of us are ever really multitasking. The surveys and studies tell us how fooled we were. The human brain only multi-tasks for the key things that help us live (like breathing and keeping our hearts pumping). All the rest is a linear thread of thought and neuron firing inside our heads i.e. you can’t really multitask.

Any effort to try is more about creating performance numbing confusion. Yes, you think you got a bunch of things checked off your to-do list, but in fact, most of what you did had marginal results at best. Example: did you really absorb the message in the email or did you miss a few points causing the sender to have to re-state or clarify your misunderstanding?

I can’t tell you how many times I get feedback from people who clearly never read the original message. Their stated understanding was all wrong. Why? Because they gave the email the brief cursory review, never properly absorbing it before moving on to something else.

Heck, you may be doing that right now with this article. Odds are high that is exactly what you are doing.

Focus

Multi-tasking is the opposite of focus. You cannot be fully engaged on a matter when you are already taking in something about another message or task. It’s impossible to do. Why? Because you have not allowed yourself to focus. Therefore, content and substance whizzes by. If a few keywords get recognized, you subconsciously allow them to trigger a standard response.

The response that becomes your reaction is wrong more often than not. The confusion is avoided with a little more focus.

Don’t Work Below Your Pay Grade

I see far too many owners, executives, and managers taking on tasks that are far below their pay grade. What does that mean? It means doing work that another person should be doing.

Once there was a coaching client who could not delegate very well. Anything they tried giving to a member of the team was taken back and re-worked by the manager before being finalized. If the manager was making $85,000 and the team member was at $40,000, then the manager taking away the task and doing it himself was performing way below his pay grade, by almost half.

This scenario raises two questions.

  1. Is the manager overpaid? If not, they sure acted like it.
  2. Is the worker really not capable of completing the task? If yes, then you need coaching, mentoring, or re-training.

Entrepreneurs frequently try to cut corners by doing things all themselves. Yes, it might save some dollars, but, as Ben Franklin famously quipped “Are you being penny wise and pound foolish?” You might be saving a buck at the expense of having someone else do something, but what opportunity did you miss by not being available at that moment to handle a bigger, more significant matter?

I was guilty of this myself. At one point in my old company, I used to rush to the mail drop each day. The mail carrier came on a regular basis around 1:00. I’d be waiting because the mail meant we were getting checks from our customers. As the founder/owner, I felt the pressure of being sure there was enough cash in the bank every day. Opening the mail made cash happen.

The irony here is that if I let someone else open the mail, I could be originating more business and hence, more checks coming in. My shortsighted view of things though had me anxiously waiting for the mail. Ridiculous for sure! This choice was way below my perceived pay grade.

Outsourcing

A very successful entrepreneur I know has a mantra that has served him well for decades. He learned the value of outsourcing before it was popular. To him, outsourcing is merely allocating paid hours the right way. Again, it’s about the value and proper allocation.

In my friend’s case, he runs a large regional real estate business. His agents can be worth $400 an hour if they are producing lease agreements. But if they spend too much time at a keyboard posting sales funnel details, they are worth more like an admin at $25 an hour. Which would you rather be $400 an hour or $25 an hour? Yes, it can be that extreme.

Take a Look

Think about the things you decide to take on each day. There are 86,400 seconds in the day. That is one universal truth we all share, regardless of station in life. The way you spend those 86,400 seconds makes all the difference in the world for determining your success.

Focus on the big things you need to knock out each day. Do those first. Give them your full attention, no multi-tasking. You can add back the smaller tasks, later. Yet be sure you choose wisely whether to offload menial tasks below your pay grade.

Question: What are you doing right now that might be below your pay-grade? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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What is an Entrepreneur Anyway?

Today, we’re going to do a bit of a 101 experience. I help business owners and executives strengthen their leadership teams, but there is frequent talk about being an Entrepreneur. What is that exactly?

Entrepreneur –  A word that has been associated in many fields and is defined in a variety of ways.

Living with passion

The word itself is of French origin which evolved into meanings that pertain to people who take the risks, founders of businesses and or someone who is accountable in case of failure or success in a business venture. Being a person who founded a new enterprise, it is also understood that entrepreneurs take the largest part when it comes to risks inherent to businesses. After all, they are normally the owners of the company or the business unit.

The common perception with entrepreneurs is that they are the founders of new entities that aim to offer innovative or existing services or products in the market. The talk of profit or non-profit issues also varies, depending on the type of business structure that is used.

Entrepreneurs are, of course, one of the main components of the capitalistic world. They take the largest loses or gains since they are the manipulators of the funds. Central to this is the belief of opportunities in a specific area that requires the filling of the demands. They are like the providers for the needs and thus, they take the gain in exchange for the provision. They are basically service- or product-oriented who device means to create the fillers for the two said demands. The main focus of their acts is towards the gain of profit.

In the United States, there are about 1,800 companies considered to be “large”. Yet there are over 32 million registered small businesses; the entrepreneurs. The segment is clearly a mainstay of the economy.

There are many types of typical entrepreneurs. And because of this evolution from the simple merchants to the more sophisticated corporate men, entrepreneurship has also matured in ways unimaginable when men first thought of selling their own produce.

The Risk Bearers

Risks are sometimes incalculable and rather undefined. They come as problems arise and they develop as more problems sprout. There are no specific ways by which risks come out. They just do and they seem to be integral parts of most business ventures. Entrepreneurs are not only risk bearers, they also take on all the disadvantages of uncertainties.

Risks can be something like insurance principles. Meaning, there are methods by which their intensity or frequency of risk can be measured. Thus, we can provide options in decreasing one’s susceptibility to risks. However, uncertainties may be considered to be more on the subjective side.

Since all risks can’t be calculated and their very nature can’t be estimated, it is easy to assume that entrepreneurs can be characterized both as decision-makers and improvisers. They provide solutions to immediate and long-term demands, which are uncertain, even when business routines are carefully structured.

Entrepreneurs certainly are great risk takers. Without this element of uncertainty, no business can create new, never before seen solutions and products. There are things that must be met with responses that are creative and productive for the business.

The Organizers

Entrepreneurs are typically the founders. It is only proper that they are equipped with facilities that make leaders lead. Founders are the leaders of the pack, they are the builders. They too are planners and the organizers of schemes for giving birth and growth to a business organization.

They are the planners for maximizing the resources. They combine specific factors like land resources, the capital from a partner, the labor of his employees or the resources that came from him to create products that would meet certain demands.

They will then create organizational tactics to come out with the earnings of the profit after everything is settled.

Being the organizers, it is understood that they are also the leader. Organizers always have the authority to set things in their proper places. They can be a leader because of position in the organization (i.e. the founder), but not necessarily a good leader.

Being a good leader is a matter of having a strong combination of values and abilities that will nurture and inspire the team. And because not all are born leaders, nor were made leaders, too few really achieve successes in business. However, leadership alone is not at the core of entrepreneurship. The founder can have a great vision that can become wildly successful, but they must have leadership surrounding them in order to accomplish the greatest achievements.

Entrepreneurship is the will; the will to start with uncertainty and keep believing that it shall, in the end, turn out well.

Next Steps

If your effort to become an entrepreneur could use a boost, I offer two options.

First, you can schedule a short and free chat to discuss your situation. If I can help in any way, we’ll figure that out quickly. LINK HERE to set that call.

Or… you can visit my Finding the Edge website. At this site, I am offering the best collection of resources, tools, tips, and hacks to help new entrepreneurs grow the business FAST! I have partnered with a very successful group of business growth experts. They have poured their 20+ years of experience into this powerful platform.

Right here you can get access to dozens of already-done-for-you ideas for marketing and business growth.

This platform requires a subscription that normally costs $197 per month. But I am offering a year-end/new year promotion that is only $97 per month as long as you stay subscribed. You are welcome to drop it at any time. You can even try it free for one month.

 

The Entrepreneur’s Need for Nimbleness

Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Often there is a false assumption that a good product or service idea will be a guaranteed success. The “If you build it they will come” mindset is a great cliché for a movie but seldom plays out as a winner in real business.

Nimbleness

No, success and long-term sustainability require a whole host of ever-changing variables. The truly successful entrepreneur figures out how to navigate these choppy waters, making changes as frequently as they might be required. Plus, when the demand is for them to change, they will accept the proverbial writing on the wall and go with the change.

Nimbly and gracefully making the right changes is what differentiates the highly successful business owner/founder from the rest of the wannabes (as in I want-to-be successful). Wanting and doing are wildly different positions to be in.

Key Management Factors

Several factors, which change in importance as the business grows and develops, are prominent in determining ultimate success or failure.

A study done by the good folks at Harvard Business Review identified eight such factors in a research project(1). Four factors relate to the enterprise and four to the owner. The four that relate to the company are as follows:

1. Financial resources, including cash and borrowing power.

2. Personnel resources, relating to numbers, depth, and quality of people, particularly at the management and staff levels.

3. Systems resources, in terms of the degree of sophistication of both information and planning and control systems.

4. Business resources, including customer relations, market share, supplier relations, manufacturing and distribution processes, technology and reputation, all of which give the company a position in its industry and market.

The four factors that relate to the owner are:

1. Owner’s goals for himself or herself and for the business.

2. Owner’s operational abilities in doing important jobs such as marketing, inventing, producing, and managing distribution.

3. Owner’s managerial ability and willingness to delegate responsibility and to manage the activities of others.

4. Owner’s strategic abilities for looking beyond the present and matching the strengths and weaknesses of the company with his or her goals.

Small businesses are built on the owner’s talents: the ability to sell, produce, invent, or whatever. This factor, in the early stages, is of the highest importance. The owner’s ability to delegate, however, is on the bottom of the scale since there are few if any employees to delegate to.

As the company grows, other people enter sales, production, or engineering and they first support, and then even supplant, the owner’s skills—thus reducing the importance of the owner’s personal skill set. At the same time, the owner must spend less time doing and more time managing or even leading the enterprise.

He or she must increase the amount of work done by other people, which means delegating. The inability of many founders to let go of doing and to begin managing and delegating explains the demise of many businesses during the latter stages.

As a business moves from one stage to another, the importance of the factors changes. We might view the factors as alternating among three levels of importance:

  • First, key variables that are absolutely essential for success and must receive high priority;
  • Second, factors that are clearly necessary for the enterprise’s success and must receive some attention; and
  • Third, factors of little immediate concern to top management.

If we categorize each of the eight factors listed previously, based on its importance at each stage of the company’s development, we get a clear picture of changing management demands.

Entrepreneurship

The changing role of all of these factors clearly illustrates the need for owner flexibility. An overwhelming preoccupation with certain factors is quite important at some stages and less important at others. “Doing” versus “delegating” also requires a flexible management mindset.

Holding onto old strategies and old ways will not serve a company that is entering the growth stages. Failure to find the nimbleness to make these changes can even be fatal.

If you run your own business but are feeling the pressure to make some changes, perhaps you need a Master Coach to come alongside and guide you through the thought process. That is what I do. I’ve been doing it with successful entrepreneurs for decades. I’ve seen businesses of many types. You are not alone. Leave a comment or write an email

(1) To read the whole study, visit https://hbr.org/1983/05/the-five-stages-of-small-business-growth Please note that the study’s findings were written in 1983. Some may argue the findings and recommendations are therefore irrelevant just because of their age.

However, ask any businessman who has made one of these mistakes along the way. They will affirm the need to be this kind of nimble in order to make the best possible changes for the true good of the business. The principles are timeless.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Do Your Problems Seem Bigger Than Actual Size?

Do you sometimes make things bigger than they really are? When you face a challenge, can you see it in proper perspective? Or do you have a tendency to make things bigger than they really are?

The great social activist Chicken Little was quoted as saying “The sky is falling” when he had merely been struck in the head by a falling acorn.

Big Problems

Blowing things out of proportion can be a problem if you are the one in charge. Yes, that would be a challenge if you do it on a regular basis. Leaders must keep things in proper perspective.

One of my clients introduced me to a new term “catastrophizing”. This means making a situation far greater than it really is. The way we entered this discussion was talking about limiting thoughts. I had asked the client to give me some examples of limiting thoughts they suffer. While a few of the answers were the usual, this one surprised me.

Catastrophizing

As an executive, you are confronted with problems almost daily. Things happen; often not as planned. You have to field questions, hear the news, and make decisions.

What if everything you were given was turned into something far more tragic? What if something someone on your team failed to do was declared a disaster when it is really just a setback or a simple honest mistake?

Think about the energy both emotional and physical you would spend dealing with such catastrophes.

Through my client’s own vulnerability, I was able to add a great word to my coaching. If you act like Chicken Little you will get yourself worked into a panic. You will be running around in a frenzy, stirring up others to join your panic party. Doing this is catastrophizing. Even if you leave others out of it, your own waste of energy and emotional effort can cause conflict and confuse the situation.

Why do people do this?

I don’t practice psychology, so I cannot even venture a technical argument as to why some are prone to act this way. However, I can share an observation from years of leadership experience on the job.

People who catastrophize often do so for several reasons.

  1. A Sense of Dread –  They are convinced life has been mean to them. The proverbial cup is half empty all the time. Therefore, any new event that arises must be bad. They are blinded to any possibility of a favorable outcome.

  2. Lack of Trust –  People who lose trust in mankind look at problems as people problems, all the time. Their way of thinking says the other person is the reason these things are bad.

  3. No Hope –  Theirs is a world of doom and gloom. They are convinced things are hopeless. In their minds, blue skies are really just a funny shade of gray.

Sadly, I have run into these kinds of co-workers and professionals most of my career. Thank goodness they are not everywhere, nor are they in leadership very often. But when they are, look out.

The biggest problem I see with catastrophizing is the waste of energy and resources. Whether the energy is emotional or physical, the expenditure of energy trying to avoid the catastrophe is great.

The Solution

One of the wisest words I ever heard was the phrase “The problem is not the problem.” Think about that. Whenever you are confronted with what seems like a problem, check first see if what you are being told is a problem is really the problem. Here’s an example.

Missed deadlines are usually a problem anywhere. Unless that deadline is a life or death situation, most missed deadlines are bad, but not the end of the world. Having a missed deadline, though it seems big and real, may not be the problem at all. Rather, the real problem may be with the process, procedure, or people. Are the deadlines even reasonable considering the mix of the above elements? Or has someone failed at their task?

Being able to properly discern the root cause of an issue is preferable to simply catastrophizing and running around like Chicken Little.

The sky is not falling. It’s just an acorn.

Question: How do you prevent yourself from catastrophizing your circumstance? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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It’s No Fun Casting Pearls at Mules

You know when you’ve been trying to help someone? I mean really help them, but they refuse to hear what you say? We’ve all faced the moment when we realize that someone is being a stubborn mule. I don’t mean to be cruel or harsh, but face it, you know what I am talking about.

Maybe the person is an employee or a boss. Or worst case, they are a family member, maybe even your spouse. Ouch! Regardless of the situation, there is an emerging reality that all of your valuable insight or suggestions are going unheard. The precious pearls of wisdom you try to share are falling on deaf ears. Here’s the solution.

While it is very easy to spot stubbornness in others, sometimes we are guilty of acting that way too. As a leader in any situation, you must at times deal with personalities that act stubborn. But what do others have to do when you are the stubborn one?

If you, the leader, are the one being the mule, the team will stop wanting to be open with you. They will pull back from the interaction. It’s human nature to avoid confrontation of this kind. In other words, it is easy for those around you to start asking themselves “why bother?”

What is Stubbornness?

Stubbornness is the tendency to resist any form of change.The person with stubbornness is driven by a fundamental resistance to being forced to do anything or experience anything against his will. The basic stance is, “No, I won’t, and you can’t make me.”

The personality with stubbornness is over-sensitive to the possibility of having sudden or unwanted change imposed upon itself and sees the threat of it everywhere. Anything new or different or involving change is perceived (subconsciously at least) as a direct threat—even if the change in question is positive and in the person’s best interests.

Like all character flaws, stubbornness involves the following components:

  1. Early negative experiences
  2. Misconceptions about the nature of self, life or others
  3. A constant fear and sense of insecurity
  4. A maladaptive strategy to protect the self
  5. A persona to hide all of the above in adulthood

Stubbornness is the most prevalent character flaw there is. We all have some degree of stubbornness within us, but more people have stubbornness as their chief feature than any other.

As with every chief personality feature (or flaw), the key is becoming conscious of how stubbornness operates in oneself. If you have stubbornness, you can begin by observing your outward persona in action:

  • Do I have a tendency to justify the status quo?
  • Do I generally argue against change or newness on seemingly logical grounds?
  • Do I often deride new ideas or suggestions?

The Deeper Dive

To fully eliminate stubbornness, you have to do more. You must agree to dig deeper.

  • Why do I resist change, newness? What am I afraid of?
  • What do I fear would happen to me if I allowed uncontrollable changes to happen?

Approaching the deepest level you may need outside help in the form of a counselor, therapist, coach, or at least a close friend:

  • Where does this fear of new situations come from?
  • How was I hurt in the past?
  • Can I let it go?

By genuinely exploring the source of your concern, you can calm the fears and doubts that cause the need to be stubborn. Yes, rigid rejection of change can look like stubbornness, yet it is usually tied to a deeper concern for facing change. If you agree to explore your inner resistance to change, you can begin to unwind the tangled views and actions that come out of being stubborn.

As you reduce the need to resist change, you can inspire others to be more open to bringing you ideas.

Question: What have you done lately to avoid being the stubborn one? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Portions of this text come from writings of Barry McGuinness

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Why Entrepreneurs Need To Move Away From FOMO

The ‘Fear Of Missing Out’, mainly known by its acronym FOMO has become a much talked about behavioral phenomenon ever since social media has taken over our lives. The word itself became so popular that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013!

Until now, FOMO was a term that was applicable to the Internet junkies. However, given its psychological impact, it is now also commonly used to describe a human tendency. Surprisingly, FOMO has taken even the community of entrepreneurship in its grip.

Before we delve further into how entrepreneurship and FOMO are related, let’s first understand what exactly FOMO is.

study titled ‘Motivational, Emotional and Behavioural Correlates of Fear Of Missing Out’ defines FOMO as

the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you.

In this study, nearly three-quarters of young adults reported that they had experienced the phenomenon.

People who are experiencing FOMO are always craving for more and possess ‘I want that or I want to know too’ attitude. If they don’t get what they want, it instils anxiety and depression in them.

Now, let’s understand FOMO in the context of entrepreneurship.

The first FOMO that entrepreneurs experience is related to opportunities. Entrepreneurs are wired to think that there is nothing worse than missing an opportunity that could have changed their life. This opportunity could be an idea, an investor or anything that matters to launching or growing the business – if only I had an opportunity to put my idea into action, if only I could have one meeting with the investor, and so forth.

As an entrepreneur, you should accept that entrepreneurship is all about success, failure, and missed opportunities. It’s good to be ambitious and seek opportunities, but don’t let this become an obsession. Sometimes, you just need to turn down an opportunity and wait for another one. You have to take a leap of faith and learn to say ‘no’. Like Kenny Nguyen, CEO-Founder of Big Fish Presentations and co-author of the book ‘The Big Fish Experience’ did.

He refused to attend the popular reality show ‘Shark Tank’ which gives aspiring entrepreneurs a platform to make business presentations to the investors. Of course, it was a big opportunity but somehow he felt that it was not the right time for him to participate in his venture was only a year old.

Instead, he focused all his energy on making his startup the best among the others. Today, Big Fish Presentations is one of the fastest growing companies in the startup ecosystem. Kenny Nguyen advises his peers to focus on the right opportunity, not every opportunity.

Entrepreneurs also suffer from FOMO on success. Agreed that every entrepreneur wants to become a winner, but success takes its own sweet time to give its taste to you. It’s one thing to have a vision and another thing to forget the journey that takes you there.  You should not let the fear of ‘what my successful business look like’ to stall your today’s efforts to grow it.

Keep the success in mind, but do not expect an instant win. Sometimes, it is better to adhere to the maxim ‘Slow and Steady Win The Race’.  Anu Sharma, the founder of HR Practice firmly believes so and says, “It’s not always the big leap which is needed to start off – it’s fine to take small steps and begin your journey.”

Then, there is also FOMO on a commitment to the company. Give the time, energy, money and emotions that they have invested in their business, entrepreneurs fear of exiting it even if they know that it is heading south in terms of expected targets, revenue, and profits.

This kind of behavior is also known as ‘sunk cost fallacy’ which make them continue running their company even when it is not the best thing to do. They fear on missing out on the possible success the business can bring if they stay invested.

The millennial entrepreneurs are believed to be the worst sufferers of FOMO syndrome. In fact, a report on the millennials cites that FOMO is not a cultural phenomenon, it’s an epidemic. Entrepreneurship is a trend for the millennials.

Everyone has (at least they think so!) or is looking for the billion-dollar idea that will put them in the league of Azim Premji, Sachin Bansal, Sergey Brin or Mark Zuckerberg. They want to experience entrepreneurship just for the thrill of it, without thinking it through.

FOMO in entrepreneurship is good as long as it does not make you depressed, stressful or restless. It can have a serious impact on your mental and physical well-being. Every entrepreneurial venture has its own story and journey. You can’t guarantee success or avoid failure – you can only keep working on specific goals and recognize the tradeoffs.

This article contributed by Vijay Shekhar Sharma. It first appeared in Inc42.

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Merry Christmas: Are YOU the Gift?

Soon will be Christmas, December 25. I’m not really ashamed to admit that I still celebrate Christmas. It has been in my family tradition for many decades. I respect the needs of saying ‘happy holidays’ to those who may not be of Christian descent and choose not to celebrate in the tradition of Christmas, but for me and my family, today still has special meaning on several levels.

I would like to ask you a somewhat personal question.

Since the Christmas season often is associated with the giving of gifts, what have you done to be the gift for someone?

Yes, I mean you, personally, unashamedly, and individually, being the gift for someone in your life. They could be family, work, or community members.

It seems we don’t think about that personal, really personal touch anymore. There are so many great technological gadgets to buy for one another. We share things that have material value, maybe a special meaning, or other reasons for identifying a material gift. Yet I find it interesting that it is difficult to think of ourselves as being a gift for someone we care about.

Last year the virtual mentor, Michael Hyatt, wrote a new book called “Living Forward”. In that book, he and his co-author, Daniel Harkovy, introduce a continuum of human existence that goes like this. In their model, Michael and Daniel talk about three distinct phases of life. The first phase is drift.

DRIFT

If you have found yourself in a period of your life that feels uncertain, without direction, and maybe even without purpose, you, my friend, are drifting. You wake up each day and you allow the day to pass just living through the circumstances and situations that arise on their own. There’s really not a plan. And there’s certainly not a goal. Drifting is a state of our existence that happens to all of us. It’s not uncommon to experience a little bit of drift at some point in your life.

Clearly, it would not be a good thing to live your whole life in a state of drifting. You want to be able to identify a goal or an outcome that has positive meaning for the purpose in your life. So we have to get out of drifting. You need to be able to stop the drift and begin making some more intentional forward progress.

SHIFT

That leads us to the second phase which is the shift. Once you’ve recognized you might be drifting and you agree that you want to stop, you have to make a shift. You have to find a focus, a new goal,  and a plan to get you onto a path for forward momentum.

Making a shift can be as simple as changing your mindset. Instead of waking up each day with the thought of repeating yesterday, you start the new day with an intentional statement of purpose. You say I’m going to do something different today. You set the course and you choose to do things differently.

Albert Einstein is attributed with the famous quote that says doing the same thing and expecting different results is the perfect definition of insanity.

Making a shift allows us to break the cycle of monotony and repetition that causes drift. By agreeing to shift, we find a new focus, a new strategy, and a new direction.

LIFT

Once the shift has begun, you find yourself beginning to experience lift. You experience new accomplishments. You have a sense of progress. Goals are starting to be achieved. You find a new direction and you find levels of success.

The lift in our lives is what gives us the energy to begin to be able to influence those around us. As you experience lift, you have an energy that can be shared with others. Lift is a very interesting physical force. Lift is the principle by which birds fly and airplanes are able to rise into the sky.

Many years ago I decided to tackle a bucket list item that I had carried for some time. I wanted to get a private pilot’s license. I enrolled in a local flight school where I began taking the courses and learning the principles of aerodynamics. There is a very interesting undeniable force that happens with flight.

When a wing is moved forward there is a dynamic of the wind passing over the wings. The variation in pressure that occurs with that forward momentum, we call that thrust. But as the intensity of the wind flowing over the airfoil increases, there is this notion of lift that occurs.

In essence, as a plane gains ground speed during takeoff, there is no denying the force of the wing wanting to lift the whole plane off the ground. If you apply enough power and begin the forward momentum, that wing can do nothing but lift you off the ground. So the essence of flight is the ability to control that natural lift that is occurring.

I see great similarities with having a lift in our own lives. If you begin experiencing lift, there will be an undeniable force that you create. You will have an attraction to you that others cannot deny. You will have the ability to influence people.

The next question is, could there be a fourth phase of human experience? I say yes. I call it the Gift.

GIFT

As you move away from drifting and you start to shift your life and your presence, you achieve this lift in life. Ultimately you become a gift. With the momentum, you create by shifting and lifting you get to the point of being able to start gifting. This is the stage when you can help others. You can influence them with your thoughts, your ideas, and your compassion.

As you experience lift in your life, you become a gift to those around you. Your families can be enriched. Your workplace can be influenced. Your whole community can receive value and benefit from who and what you are. As you become a gift to the world around you, you become a thing of value; you become an inspiration.

This Season

Yes, this is Christmas. But while the rest of the world is thinking about gift giving with boxes and bows, I ask you again, have you been the gift to those around you?

It’s a great time to be that person, be that influence, and bless those around you with the power and the privilege of you being who you are. Now if you’re stuck in a drift, obviously your gifts not going to be that special. Maybe you won’t even feel like doing anything. But if you found a shift in life and you’ve begun to lift, you can become a precious and wonderful gift.

I wish each and every one of you a very blessed and Merry Christmas. Happy holidays. All my best to you, your family, and your business.

 

PS – Many of my clients consider me their closest confidant. We discuss things that they feel they cannot discuss with anyone else. It’s a tricky balance to build the kind of rapport and relationship that can have the level of trust you may want. If you are looking for just such a confidence, think about giving me a call. Let’s discuss where you are right now at work, with your family or in your community. Perhaps I can offer some encouragement.

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6 Great Questions to Lead Your Team

Being a leader requires the ability to build rapport with your team. Those following you must have good reason to do so. Every time you have a one-on-one, you have a big opportunity to add to and build that individual rapport.

Here are six great questions to structure those one-on-ones with your team. Use this in some form or another every time you get that golden opportunity to sit with each individual on your team.

The 6 questions are:

Where are WE going?

Ask this intentionally so that the employee or follower is able to express in their own words their understanding of the current state. Let them tell you what they understand to be the mission and direction. If the answer catches you off guard, then maybe you have a big disconnect that needs to be handled immediately.

The “we” here is about the team. Be sure to gauge whether the individual’s understanding is in step with the team direction you hope for.

Where are YOU going?

This is a logical follow-up to #1. If the person expresses a correct team direction but shares a personal variance in what they think is happening, then you have another opportunity to connect and correct.

The where are you going question also measures engagement. When an individual has begun to disengage with the team, they must be offered the opportunity to reconnect.

What do you think you are doing well?

This is a great opportunity to let the individual team member express their pride foro what might be working for them. Let them share their focus. Again though, if there is a bit of misalignment, this is the perfect opportunity to realign, recalibrate the role and the duties to set the path for better performance.

By allowing the person to share, you open the communication letting them state in their own words the accomplishments they view as significant.

What are some suggestions for improvement?

Open the door for individual dialogue about ways to improve things. The people who are on the frontlines see things differently than you. Be open to listening to these observations. You just might get the next great idea.

How can I help?

This may be the most powerful of all questions a manager/leader can ask a follower. Letting them know you are there to help is the biggest proof of your commitment to seeing them succeed. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it, but use it sincerely and you will see team commitment rise significantly.

If something is suggested, you must follow through to get it resolved or delivered. Don’t let this golden opportunity fall flat on its face from your inability to deliver. If the ask is too big, then say so. Explain what the limitations are, but be real. Let the person know they were heard and that you understand.

What suggestions do you have for me to be a better manager?

This is last but by no means the least of these 6 questions. Again, your hope should be to receive sincere feedback. Your response should be an open acceptance of what you get told. If all you do is ask the question but recoil, then you’ve missed the opportunity.

However, if you take the suggestion and do something with the feedback, you build great rapport and trust.

Speaking of Trust

Trust is at the root of the best performing teams. Building an atmosphere of high trust keeps the whole team engaged with you as the boss. Having the rapport through regular, recurring one-on-ones with your team, using these six questions, will keep the trust growing.

Team Trust

Team Trust

When trust is present, people can accept bad news. They won’t necessarily like it but they can better accept it when they know you have their backs. They get to that end by seeing you make the effort to build the rapport at each chance you get. As rapport improves, so will the trust they have.

Call to Action

If you are a manager or executive who needs a little help with any of these ideas, perhaps a coach can help. To learn more about the coaching I do, schedule a call to speak with someone about the programs and ways we can help.

Also, let me introduce you to the Big 5 Performance Management process. This system revolutionizes the old, inefficient annual performance review systems. It has been implemented in dozens of companies, plus it has already won awards for innovation in HR circles. Big 5 sets the framework for fast, simple, and efficient employee feedback, guaranteeing your get the opportunity to ask these 6 questions monthly with each and every employee. Big 5 is a big winner, highly regarded by employers and employees everywhere who have started using Big 5.

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Leadership Powered by Common Sense

This is a tagline I like to use. However, it seems that common sense is truly an uncommon commodity. Common sense is a bit like beauty, as “in the eye of the beholder”. What seems like common sense decision making to some may be totally foreign to others.

common sense

Have you ever met someone who is so incredibly smart, but has little if any common sense? They could quote you facts and stats, explain very complex interworkings of molecular structure or other things, yet they cannot decide what they want for lunch.

It can be frustrating living with or knowing someone who operates this way. When you get a manager or boss like this, watch out!

A good friend once shared the thought that good leadership is equal parts of art and science. The science is the technical knowledge and understanding of details, subject matter, and process/procedure. The art is where the so-called people skills come in; being able to flex your leadership style based upon the person or group with whom you may be dealing.

I have to agree. The best leaders balance the art and science in their approach. The bridge between the two spheres is common sense. It is a proven idea when you think about the common sense being the switch that toggles between the art and science of leadership in a delicately orchestrated flow as circumstances dictate.

A good leader can gracefully shift when they sense the need to do so. The person lacking common sense tends to get stuck in one gear. If the question at hand is a technical one, they leader lacking common sense will tend to press hard on the merits of the technical debate, completely ignoring the people side of the matter.

The Conundrum

Common sense is not an absolute. That is why it can be so hard to realize. What might be common sense to some is a bad idea to others. Therefore, what I believe works best is to keep things simple. When the matter at hand is starting to get increasingly complex whether, by technical merit or deep subject matter expertise, it is valuable as the leader to take a step back.

Stop the detailed discussion and ask more objective questions like how does this feel? Is my gut sense right? What has my experience told me?

If you’ve ever had the privilege of working for a good storyteller leader, they have a gift of taking the deep science of a situation and boiling it down into an easy to understand story. The story often has nothing to do with the terms or vocabulary being batted about. Rather it has to do with the principles that are driving the choices under consideration.

That is an art. That is common sense.

The Uncommon Commodity

When I sat down to pen my first book, I was focused on what I thought I could share with new, first time managers to help them be more and do more in their new leadership roles. As the manuscript came together, it was time to decide on a title. I really felt drawn to this notion of common sense being such an uncommon commodity. I was sharing this whole idea with my wife. She said well, why don’t you just call it that. BOOM!

“The Uncommon Commodity: The Common Sense Guide for New Managers” was born. As it turns out, my more seasoned business leaders have found the book helpful to them too. The content addresses major areas of leadership and management using short, to the point stories and principles that get presented in a common sense way.

In my coaching business, I still see clients who struggle with being able to apply common sense thinking to problem-solving. On one hand, it seems they feel it is too easy to just make a common sense decision. They feel obligated to over-engineer the solution. It’s as if they were afraid of being found out for their simplicity.

On the other hand, over-thinking because of some sense of intellectual superiority never works very well either. The best scenario is one of balance. Let the facts come together and make a decision, whether by simple common sense or some other more elaborate thought process.

It takes a leader who has a capacity to do both; someone who can nimbly swap between the two as the situation dictates. But hey, that seems like common sense!