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Beating Procrastination at Its Own Game – and Ways to Thrive

People often ask me about ways to beat procrastination. I usually say “I’ll get back to you.” Just kidding.

Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions—which, unfortunately, are increasingly available. Procrastination in large part reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we’ll feel tomorrow, or the next day.

procrastinate1

If you do a Google search, there are over 380,000 references to “overcoming procrastination”.

Procrastinators may say they perform better under pressure, but more often than not that’s their way of justifying putting things off. The bright side? It’s possible to overcome procrastination—with effort.

Procrastination is not a problem of time management or of planning. Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate time, although they are more optimistic than others. “Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up,” insists Dr. Ferrari (1).

I too struggle with procrastination. From my own observations with decades of clients behind me, plus my own ever-present struggle with it, here are the key reasons for procrastination.

  1. Desire to achieve perfection –  When a normally high energy, high achiever procrastinates, it’s usually due to the desire to achieve perfection. Perfection though is unachievable, especially in most business settings.
  2. Lack of direction –  You can’t leave for a trip if you don’t know where you’re going. Without a good sense of where you want to go with a project or a task, you likely wont want to start.
  3. Self-talk – Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow.” Or “I work best under pressure.” But in fact they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying “this isn’t important.” Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources.
  4. It’s unpleasant –  Not everything we need to do each day is fun and exciting. Things can be downright unappealing, so we put them off.

Here are the most popular ways to overcome procrastination (2).

STEP 1: Recognize you ARE A PROCRASTINATOR.

Here’s a fun little test for you to take. CLICK HERE

Here are some useful indicators that will help you know when you’re procrastinating:

  • Filling your day with low priority tasks from your To Do List.
  • Reading e-mails several times without starting work on them or deciding what you’re going to do with them.
  • Sitting down to start a high-priority task, and almost immediately going off to make a cup of coffee.
  • Leaving an item on your To Do list for a long time, even though you know it’s important.
  • Regularly saying “Yes” to unimportant tasks that others ask you to do, and filling your time with these instead of getting on with the important tasks already on your list.
  • Waiting for the “right mood” or the “right time” to tackle the important task at hand.

Step 2: Work Out WHY You’re Procrastinating

Even if you’re organized, you can feel overwhelmed by the task. You may doubt that you have the skills or resources you think you need, so you seek comfort in doing tasks you know you’re capable of completing. Unfortunately, the big task isn’t going to go away – truly important tasks rarely do. You may also fear success as much as failure. For example, you may think that success will lead to you being swamped with more requests to do this type of task, or that you’ll be pushed to take on things that you feel are beyond you.

Step 3: Adopt Anti-Procrastination Strategies

Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. That means that you won’t just break it overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you have persistently stopped practicing them, so use as many approaches as possible to maximize your chances of beating them. Some tips will work better for some people than for others, and for some tasks than others. And, sometimes, you may simply need to try a fresh approach to beat the “procrastination peril”!

These general tips will help motivate you to get moving:

  • Make up your own rewards. For example, promise yourself a piece of tasty flapjack at lunchtime if you’ve completed a certain task. And make sure you notice how good it feels to finish things!
  • Ask someone else to check up on you. Peer pressure works! This is the principle behind slimming and other self-help groups, and it is widely recognized as a highly effective approach.
  • Identify the unpleasant consequences of NOT doing the task.
  • Work out the cost of your time  to your employer. As your employers are paying you to do the things that they think are important, you’re not delivering value for money if you’re not doing those things. Shame yourself into getting going!

If you’re procrastinating because you’re disorganized, here’s how to get organized!

Use Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle to help prioritize your To-Do List so that you cannot try to kid yourself that it would be acceptable to put off doing something on the grounds that it is unimportant, or that you have many urgent things which ought to be done first when, in reality, you’re procrastinating.

eisenhower-box

If you’re putting off starting a project because you find it overwhelming, you need to take a different approach. Here are some tips:

  • Break the project into a set of smaller, more manageable tasks. You may find it helpful to create an action plan.
  • Start with some quick, small tasks if you can, even if these aren’t the logical first actions. You’ll feel that you’re achieving things, and so perhaps the whole project won’t be so overwhelming after all.

If you’re doing it because you find the task unpleasant:

  • Many procrastinators overestimate the unpleasantness of a task. So give it a try! You may find that it’s not as bad as you thought!
  • Hold the unpleasant consequences of not doing the work at the front of your mind.
  • Reward yourself for doing the task.

Here’s a bonus. Have you seen the story about rocks, pebbles and sand? Watch this video

(1) Quotes courtesy of Psychology Today and Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

(2) Other references courtesy of Mindtools.com

Lessons in Leadership: Soaring with the Winds of Life

windsock

 

In learning how to fly an airplane, one of the first lessons has to do with understanding winds. Winds come in basically three types;

  • Head winds – those hit you right in the face
  • Tail winds – those from behind
  • Cross winds – those at angles from the side

I believe the challenges we face in life and in business model these three types of wind as well. If we consider all the forms of challenge we face, we can boil it down into these three categories. However, it might be interesting to compare the pilot’s concern with each of these winds as we think about our daily responses to life’s winds…..

Head Wind

First, the head winds. Too often we might be prone to think of these negatively. As wind hits us in the face, it slows us down, forces us to press harder against the wind. Bob Seger wrote a great ballad titled “Against the Wind…stronger now still just running…against the wind”.

When a pilot encounters head wind during flight it can be a challenge. Fuel consumption is increased as air speed decreases. The time it takes to reach a destination increases. Stress and fatigue can set in. But did you know it is preferable to take off and land “against the wind”? Why? Because the increased force of that head wind causes “lift” on the wings which is the force that makes planes fly.

A good steady head wind actually makes take-offs and landings easier, more comfortable and effective. So the next time you sense a head wind in life, ask yourself whether it has been provided to allow more lift for a better take off to a new place in life or whether it is there to afford a safer, smoother landing from where you have just come.

Tail Wind

Next let’s talk about tail wind. This is just the opposite from a head wind. We tend to think of tail wind as favorable. During flight that might be true. It can serve to push us forward, reduce effort and speed the time towards the destination.

But did you know it is the most difficult force with which to reckon during take off and landing? At those times, it actually impairs control, reduces efficiency and creates danger.

Maybe in life we need to be cautious of the perceived tail winds. Rather than gliding along with them, we need to watching for hindrances to gaining new achievement or resolving old challenges.

Cross Wind

The final force is cross wind. All things considered, crosswind is the most challenging of all flying situations. That is true in life and business too.

Crosswind means what it implies… a force crossing you at an angle to the direction you intend to fly. During flight, a cross wind will blow you “off course”. A constant watch must be given to direction and compass heading while flying in crosswinds. There is no cruising during crosswind conditions. It is a constant battle.

doug flying
Me piloting a cross country to Shreveport LA

Take off and landing is even more severe. Very special techniques are required to manage a crosswind situation. This is why you see planes doing a crab landing, angling sideways right before touchdown. In some situations the crosswind can be so severe that its force exceeds the designed strength of the air frame on the airplane, which makes the good pilot seek an alternative landing site, one where the winds are more favorable.

Life has crosswind too. It is the skill and grace with which we handle life’s crosswinds that determines our ultimate success. Failure to recognize and manage a crosswind can cause certain disaster. Either we ignore the presence of that crosswind or we acknowledge it but underestimate the consequences. Forging ahead means grave results.

So next time you feel a certain extraordinary force influencing your life, consider the pilot. Is the wind you feel one of these? If so, which one and how will you choose to handle it?

If you need help discerning the winds in your path right now or want to find better ways to navigate those winds, schedule a time for a free consultation.

Stuck Right Now? Here’s How to Get 3 Levels Beyond

Are you feeling stuck? It’s like walking in quicksand. You can’t make any forward progress.

We’ve all been there before. This feeling is a common event in most people’s lives. As the chapters of life unfold, there are moments when everything seems to just get stuck and you start to lose the vision of the way ahead. Some may think of this as drifting through life.

The future vision is missing, lost, or forgotten. You just want to make it through another day. You, my friend, need to know there is more waiting for you. Here are three steps to get past feeling stuck.

The Shift

First, you need to make a shift. There needs to be a disruptive force or series of events that can shake things up. Mostly this is a shift that needs to happen in your mind; the way you are thinking needs to change.

I see so many people every day who are stuck in their mindset. Their head is filled with negative, limiting thoughts. “I can’t do that”, “I am too weak”, “I don’t have that skill”, “I don’t know that subject”.

You may also need to shift the people who are around you, especially if they serve to enforce those negative thoughts. If you speak a limiting thought and they agree with you, they are not being any help. Find some new friends.

Start growing away from old, bad thoughts. Read new books, watch some TED talk videos, open your mind to new ideas. Get a refresh!

By engaging a shift mindset, you can begin to pull out of the muck where you are stuck.

The Lift

As the shift builds momentum, you will get a feeling of lift. Just like the wind passing over the wings of a bird or an airplane, there is lift. The whole body rises into flight.

Pressure and stress will ease. Old burdens will fall away and you will feel a growing energy.

Lift creates a move to new direction. You sense a freedom of thought, action, and purpose. You are renewed.

The Gift

As you rise above the old state of mind, you achieve a newness; a renewed sense of purpose. You get a fresh look at the world ahead. Empowered by the new energy you will become a gift to those around you.

As a manager and leader, your fresh view of things can become contagious. Your smile and energy will impact others. You can help them begin their own shift out of ‘stuckness’.

If you need help embarking on a life change like this, I’d be happy to explain my coaching programs. I’ve helped hundreds of seasoned professionals get unstuck.

Here’s a Powerful Formula for GREAT Success

minds attention hearts affection

In the fast-paced world of business, it’s easy to lose sight of your most valuable principles. Even the best of leaders get overwhelmed with progress happening at what seems like the speed of light.

As I visit with leaders at all levels, I find a need to return to a couple of very basic ideas. For me, the greatest truth I find is the notion of “harnessing the power of your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection.” The repetitive urgency of this message has me re-posting it annually. Perhaps I should do it even more often.

Learning Styles Debunked

It’s All Around Us

For quite some time, I have been a student of management and leadership. The topic is not limited to just the business world. Rather it is all around us. I believe our world is in serious need of solid, meaningful leadership. I don’t mean the kind that wears red or blue, but the kind that truly inspires us to do more and be more.

Yet the “more” is not only about corporate growth. I mean ‘more’ in terms of life; seeing those around us thrive and prosper intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually as well as financially. A real leader can help do that. It doesn’t matter whether the leadership role is formally appointed as in head of some community group, or informally ordained for a bunch of well-meaning volunteers.

Leadership can raise the bar of success regardless of the domain it influences.

We need leaders in all sectors of life. Yet what distinguishes some leaders from others? From my observations both being a leader and working for great leaders, I find one common bond. The best leader has found a way to harness the power of harnessing your mind’s attention with your heart’s affection. This is a phrase my Pastor taught me a few years ago. It sums up so much. But what does it mean? And how does it apply to make you a better leader, right where you are?

The Mind’s Attention

Much has been written about the power of positive thinking. For decades we have heard about “you are what you think”. No doubt a positive mental state adds much to one’s ability to focus and thrive. Likewise, a bad frame of mind can draw you down into a deep depression and even suicide.

Don’t get me wrong. I am an advocate for working on positive thinking, eliminating limiting thoughts, and building your mind muscle for more positive thinking. A wise old farmer called it “getting rid of stinkin’ thinkin’.” The Bible calls it renewing your mind. I’m all in favor of that.

As much as having a great attitude about your outlook and the daily regiment is powerful, it can only go so far. Someone once said, “If thinking the right thoughts is all there is to the final outcome, we’d all be brains on a stick.”

No, the best outcome takes more. Your mental ability to reason and apply teachings from the past builds knowledge and wisdom. Putting your brain in gear to run at its optimum capacity is a force all by itself. Yet recurring demand on the mind without a passion for what you are doing ultimately leads to burn-out.

The Heart’s Affection

Our heart must be engaged. Our passion must be summoned to give fuel to the fire. It is the fire. When a person becomes passionate about their cause, there is little anyone can do to deter them.

Passion gives us the energy to climb mountains, cross great divides, and leap tall buildings (ok yes that sounds like Superman). This heart’s affection for a purpose gives almost unstoppable energy to any situation.

Workers who have not had their passion for the job tapped into will only perform at a modest level. This is why making employment selection is so critical for employers and employees alike. Make the wrong fit, and your passion will never rise up. Yet by finding work where you can become passionate, you can inspire others.

Passion alone though will not sustain your effort. You must have the power of your mind to process the steps and actions necessary to thrive.

Harness the Power

Binding both parts together can achieve great things. Great minds don’t go very far without a heart filled passion. Conversely, passion can be wasted without a clever mind to design a solution.

The best leaders know how to do both. They are driven by a sense of purpose which fuels the passion. Their heart’s affection is a dominating force. In conjunction, they have their mind’s attention fully engaged, finding solutions to problems and devising great alternatives to the hurdles that come up.

Leaders leverage this power, catching lightning in a bottle so to speak. You can hear and almost feel the power of the passion in their voice. There is an overwhelming understanding for the wisdom in their mind’s vision for things to come. You can more easily buy-in to their ideas and direction.

Leaders build this kind of inspiration in their team.

Here’s the Test

If you are in a management or leadership role, do you have both parts engaged and fully deployed? Is your mind flowing with ideas for ways to go to the next level, solving the problems of the day and offering great ideas? Is your heart in it? Do you feel passionate about your cause, your purpose where you are?

One without the other is a broken, unbalanced equation. You might find temporary success, but it will not last. Usually, it will not be enough to get to the next level.

Make an evaluation of this amazing blend of your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection. If you have been operating too heavily with one and not the other, look around. You might be missing some achievement. You are likely not to be your best.

Take a moment to think about what it would be like to harness this power, with both spheres in better balance, overlapping at the center for amazing results.

PS – I like this reminder so much, I even had it put on a coffee mug. Leave a comment if you’d like one. $10 plus S&H. To order yours, click here

 

Here’s the One Topic Always Missing from Everyone’s Top 10 Leadership Lists

grace

Are you curious when you read a headline about leadership “Top 10”? I know I am.  There are certainly some great thoughts that get covered in the popular lists of success factors attributed to great leadership. Goodness knows we need good leadership.

Leadership attraction
Leadership attraction

Yet there is one topic that seldom gets mentioned in any Top 10 list of attributes for managers. I feel obligated to bring it up. What am I talking about?

It is GRACE; not a person or a thing. Rather, in my humble opinion, grace is a state of mind. We can’t earn it. Many feel they don’t deserve it. So, I believe that is why I have yet to find the topic of grace being spoken about in any of the management and leadership books I follow.

Maybe you first heard about grace from a Pastor, Priest, or Rabbi. No, this will NOT be a Bible study article. I simply want to tell you about adding grace to several parts of your life. Perhaps it will be the missing ingredient you need to round out your leadership toolkit.

What is Grace?

Please allow me to explain my thoughts about grace, then we will apply them to your situation.

1. I said grace is a mindset. It lives halfway between our head and our heart. We can over-think it, thus killing the spirit of it. Or, we can over-give it, thus defying the logic of what we might need to be doing with it. It is a delicate balance of thought, logic, emotion, and self-worth.

2. It does include a dose of forgiveness. Forgiveness not just for a moment, then later to be revoked, but permanent. Wiped clean, wiped off, wiped out.

3. In modern terms, grace gives us the ‘break’ in ‘give me a break‘. It cuts you some slack. Grace soothes the hurt. Having grace takes away the sting. It is the essence of ‘let it go’. My eldest son suggested ‘breathe’.

There is so much more to grace, but I will leave it at this for now. So with these ideas in mind, how should you and I apply grace? I have several recommendations.

Where Does Grace Need to Be Applied?

Yourself

First and foremost, apply it to your own life. No one ever grades us harder than we grade ourselves. Grace allows you to add a curve to the grading. It gives you bonus points.

Giving yourself grace for the things that have not worked out helps to eliminate negative forces that can cripple your effort to move forward. When you look back in life, are you haunted by things not done? Do you lament decisions you made? Are there any serious regrets? Do you beat yourself up over relationships that went wrong or business deals that did not work out?

If you said YES to any of those, you, my friend, need some grace in your life. Decide when, where, and how you will give yourself some grace so that you can move forward without hurdles.

Your Team

Next, if you manage people, what grace do you give them? There are boundaries and standards that must be applied at work, but your co-workers are human. You need to extend some grace.

It is a certainty that someone somewhere in your circle will fall short of a goal. Once the required administration of the situation is complete, do you offer grace? You can demonstrate grace by establishing a work environment where the employee feels the slate is truly wiped clean once any offense is addressed.

Sidebar –  Yes, I know managers must deal with disciplinary matters that set up probationary periods. So there will be a cloud over the employee while that period is in force. While this is happening, will you treat all other aspects of the person’s work effort with grace?

Your Family

Family is the other area in your life where grace is vitally needed. Starting with your spouse (if married), then your children. Have these people committed some offense for which you have yet to forgive? Have you thought about giving them grace?

Being a leader requires the ability to give grace.

Here are 5 key questions about grace.

  1. When was the last time you visited the topic of grace?
  2. Have you received any grace lately?
  3. Do you owe yourself some grace?
  4. Who do you know that needs you to give them grace?
  5. Will you add grace to your leadership toolkit?

Think about your use of grace; at work, at home, and in your relationships. Are there ways you can share more grace?

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.

[reminder]What are you doing right now that might be below your pay-grade? [/reminder]

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Calling All Remote Workers

Work at Home

Since 2000 there has been a growing trend to let workers do their duties remotely; telecommuting it was once called. With the availability of so much good technology, it seemed extra generous of employers to allow workers to avoid the hassles of doing a daily commute. The company saved on facilities expense. While the trend grew steadily for a number of years, there is now a reversal happening.

Work at Home

Between 2012 and 2016, the share of employees who spend 80% or more of their time working remotely grew from 24% to 31%, according to a survey from Gallup. Some 59% of business executives said that more than half of their companies’ full-time workforce would be remote by 2020, per the results of a 2014 survey at London Business School’s Global Leadership Summit.

But not all business leaders are in favor of this trend. In May, IBM told thousands of its remote employees that they needed to return to a regional office or leave the company, Fox Business reported. Last year, insurance giant Aetna began to cut back on its work-from-home program due to concerns regarding collaboration. And in 2013, Yahoo ended its telecommuting program shortly after the beginning of former CEO Marissa Mayer’s tenure with the company.

Smaller businesses who jumped on the bandwagon are now getting off. I received a question from one of my readers who said:

…  love to see something on how to move people “ back to the office”. Many companies are doing that now since [much of their] collaborative energy has been lost as more and more people work remote from home. Is their a best practice on how to [make this recall] to limit impact on morale? 

I didn’t want to jump on this grenade by myself, so I consulted a few of my colleagues who also have successful executive coaching practices. Here are some of the issues to consider (in no particular order).

Mastering the Commute

The original reason many employers ventured down this rabbit hole was to assist workers by lessening commute times. In large metropolitan areas, daily commutes can consume 2 to 5 hours for workers. That doesn’t leave room for any family life. By eliminating the grind of a daunting commute, workers can spend time with family in a.m., get a good breakfast and be “at work” by whatever start time you declare.

The Commute

On the flip side, shutting down in the p.m. involves a simple flip of a switch and a short walk to the kitchen to say hello to kids and spouses.

By reversing the policy and asking workers to return to central facilities, you invoke the dreaded commute. As an employer, even though it’s not your fault where your people choose to live, if they’ve gotten used to no commute, the shift back may be more egregious than you think.

It Gets More Complicated

There are numerous pros and cons of telecommuting. Ultimately the primary factors that determine whether an employees experience with working remotely is successful or not involves that person’s natural personality and needs for feedback.

We have plenty of workers who want the camaraderie of working inside a team. They feed off the energy and vibe of the team around them. Team chemistry can become a perk for many employees.

If a good esprit de corps is established within the workgroup when everyone is together, you get a bonus incentive for the workers who want and need such feedback.

On the other side of that coin is the worker who likes going solo. A personality that is a little more introverted may appreciate the solitude of being able to do their work without disruptive chatter and buzz around them.

It’s not easy to accurately determine which camp all employees fall into. It has been reported that even some workers who seemed like they would be OK working alone are reporting a problem with the solitude after an extended absence from the team setting. This can be explained by the new thinking about ambivert personalities. An ambivert is someone who, depending on the situation, switches between being an extrovert and introvert.

Management’s Trust Factor

All too often I hear managers expressing concerns about whether their people are “really” working. For a boss who is prone to go there first, you may have some trust issues, my friend. If you and your company do not have accountability and productivity measures figured out, then yes, I get it. Remote workers would be a problem for you. However, if you are missing those indicators, you likely don’t know any more information about the people sitting outside your door either.

Any owner or executive who agrees to let workers stay at home must decide on what they will do to create and maintain visibility for consistent delivery of company mission/vision and value propositions.

The person in charge needs to check their motives for wanting everyone back in the office after remote commuting has been the policy. Unwinding that arrangement must be done for the best of reasons. A manager, partner, owner or principal should never ask people to give up the freedom of the remote work for bad ideas like ego, and their own control issues. Hiding behind thinly veiled ideas won’t work. Here are the excuses I know about:

  • We work better together
  • We need the chemistry
  • We need the energy of being able to collaborate

Perhaps remote delegation should have never been allowed in the first place.

What About the Office Culture?

Even if you get everyone to come back together, you as the boss may not be creating the optimum operating environment. I’ve seen too many smaller businesses with a so-called entrepreneurial spirit that are just nut houses (pardon me). The principals lead the pack with a wired and frenzied climate where meetings run too long too often, minds get changed too much, and direction is scattered at best.

Good employees will never suffer that environment for long. If a good and talented worker likes the mission and the work but hates the way the boss treats everyone, working from home is a sanctuary. It will be next to impossible to unwind that scenario.

After all, it’s been said

[shareable]“People don’t quit companies, they quit bosses.”[/shareable]

In the End

It’s all about setting clear expectations. Not all managers know enough about leadership to be able to do this. The leader must be able to articulate clear, concise expectations about work demands. Then you need to stick with them.

If you do end up deciding that you generally want people limiting their working from home to one day a week, I’d say this:

I want to talk to you about our work from home policy. In general, I prefer people to work from home no more than _____ days a week, because of (give your reasons). On rare occasions, I’m willing to approve more than that, but I’d like the default to be no more than ____ a week. I realize I didn’t clarify this earlier, and you haven’t done anything wrong by doing it more often, but going forward, please stick to this guideline.

Also, say this now rather than just rejecting their next work from home request and explaining it then. This is a big-picture conversation to have since they’re now used to doing it a different way, not something to spring on them the next time it comes up.

Trouble Staying Positive?

For many years I worked as a banker in real estate. My clients were hugely successful commercial developers and/or residential mortgage groups. To make a good banking loan, you have to be focused on the property that is being financed. The property becomes the primary collateral for the loan. The borrower must work to maintain the value of that property as long as the loan is in force.

FURTURE VISION

In real estate there are ever-present forces, almost gravity-like, that work to decay the property and erode its value as soon as it opens. Here are just a few of the chief concerns:

  • The weather beats down; sun, wind, cold, heat, rain, storms
  • Tenants/occupants can tear up the place
  • Natural wear and tear, so upkeep is required
  • Vandalism; people stealing equipment, fixtures, and trim

Harrison Barnes (noted career coach) writes: “It is like that with people too. There is a constant gravitational-like force challenging you as well. There is an incredible amount of negativity and other forces out there that will destroy you and your dreams if you let them in. These forces are unavoidable, and the number one characteristic of the most successful people is the ability to avoid these negative forces. They succeed despite negativity coming at them from every single direction every minute of every day.”

If you let any of the negative forces around you influence your view of who and what you are, you are destined to a less than fulfilling life. The choices you begin to make only serve to compound the downward spirals that may already be underway.

You need to avoid the negative forces out there – the negative gravity and information that will seek to keep you down. You need to watch your mind: You need to put more positive things in your mind than negative things.

No one who ever achieves any form of greatness is realistic. Instead, they are able to ignore the negative forces and messages coming at them – guard their bodies and minds. Then, they create conditions in their minds and bodies that promote success, happiness and possibility. This is what you need to do as well.

The actions that make good real estate people successful at managing great properties can work in your life too.

  • You do not let anything bad inside (forces that destroy from the inside)
  • You keep everything up-to-date (reduce the effects of forces that cause decay)
  • You make the best of what you are (avoid forces that drag you down)
  • You put nice things inside (prevent bad habits from forcing you down)

Barnes goes on to write: “Most people, however, do not maintain themselves as well as they can. Instead, the elements around them have taken hold and reduced them to something less than they are capable of being. They have long ago given up on their dreams and what is possible for them.

Why do people give up on their dreams? Many people are negative because they are afraid. They have been disappointed so many times that they are now afraid of getting excited about anything. If someone is negative, then the chances are they are fearful. The problem, however, is that we typically get what we look for: If we look for negativity, then that is what we end up finding.

There are all sorts of forces around us that create doubt and hold us back:

  • Things people have said about us in the past
  • Things we have said about ourselves in the past
  • Poor results we have gotten in the past
  • Our current situation and fear of change
  • People around us that give us negative messages
  • People who used to be around us that gave us negative messages
  • Our overall environments and how positive and negative these are
  • Good results others around us have gotten
  • Goals we have not accomplished in the past
  • Information in our environment that frightens us

Scripture says we should renew our minds daily, but that can be so hard. If you watch the news, read the paper, or join the average conversation of most groups (co-workers, friends and others) you are likely to discover that a significant portion of this information is likely to be negative and uninspiring. Why this is the case, I do not know. What I do know is that this sort of information can act like a gravitational force on your life and keep you down.

Since negative information cannot necessarily be avoided, the best solution is often to counteract this with more positive than negative information. You need to pump your mind with positive thoughts daily — or else you will end up being unhappy.

Top-Five-Ways-to-Be-Positive

1. Decide That You Do Not Need to Be Perfect

Most people become very negative because they feel they need to be perfect. They do not participate because they are afraid of losing or of not being the best. They are afraid of what people will say if they screw up or otherwise fail.

Everyone is going to screw up, and you will too. The worst thing you can do is to let the fact that you might screw up stop you from acting or doing anything at all. Far too many people allow the prospect of failure to shut them down or prevent them from acting. They also allow the fact that they are not perfect to make them feel bad about themselves. No one is perfect, and you are not either.

2. Keep Improving

Many people hit a plateau of sorts in their lives and stop there. Or, they fall down to a certain level and stop there. The rare person keeps improving and keeps setting goals for themselves. One of the most important things you can do in your career and life is to constantly set goals for the person you want to become and never stop improving.

Improvement is powerful because when you are always improving and do not stop improving you are sending a message to your mind that tomorrow can be better than it is today. Tomorrow should always be better than today, and when you are constantly setting goals for yourself and improving, you are sending yourself that message.

Whether your idea of improvement is about fitness, mental acuteness, or growing wisdom, there are plenty of opportunities to add these kinds of activities in your life to allow constant improvement.

3. Stop Being Judgmental

Most people are quite judgmental of others. They look at people who are different than them and find all sorts of fault. They find all sorts of fault with others, whether it is how they dress, talk, live, or conduct themselves. In fact, many social groups seem to exist and thrive based on judging others.

The problem with judging others is that as soon as you start judging others, you also start judging yourself. Any person who takes joy in judging others or watching others in pain will also eventually experience a great deal of pain. You need to free yourself from the disease of judging others and making them wrong.

4. Find Things to Appreciate

Everyone needs to find things in their lives that they can appreciate, and every life has things in it that can be appreciated. You can even appreciate things that seem to be negative to you. You need to focus on the things that you have and not things you do not have.

The reason you need to appreciate things is because you will attract into your life what you focus on. If you focus on the negative, then you will attract the negative. If you focus on the good, you will attract more of the good. You need to find the good and what you can appreciate.

The world and the people in it are full of negative thoughts that will eat you up and take hold of you if you let them. The smartest thing you can do to be happy and not negative is to find aspects of your life that you love and focus on these. Be grateful for who you are and what you are.

5. Have Faith in Yourself

The most important power you have in the world is faith. Faith makes everything possible. Being positive is about having faith in yourself and that things will get better than they are today. You have been through a lot and whatever negativity you see in your life today will pass as well.

Your life is controlled by your thoughts and through faith you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. You need to believe in yourself first and do everything within your power to believe in yourself even when that does not always seem like the smartest thing to do. Everyone who has achieved anything worthwhile generally only was able to do this by having faith in themselves.

Barnes concludes:

“There is a tremendous amount of negativity, harm and hurt in the world. These forces are all around us and conspiring to bring us down and reduce us to less than we are capable of being. In order to reach our potential and be the people we are capable of becoming, we need to do everything we can to be positive in the face of overwhelming negativity. This will save us, make us strong and give us the lives we are entitled to and deserve.”

All I can add is AMEN!!! You can be a force in this world. You might not be the next headliner in the Wall Street Journal for a breakthrough invention, but the difference you can make at home, at work, and in your community can have a lasting effect on so many around you.

[reminder]In what ways will you restore the faith in yourself to be more positive?[/reminder]

Footnote: This piece is a collaborative effort inspired by an article Harrison Barnes first posted on December 16, 2015.

Finding the Edge – Episode #1

Dear Business Owner:

Most business owners start their business based on their passion for what it is they do. Unfortunately, it takes much more than passion to build a successful business. You must have a specific vision for what it is you want your business to accomplish and the direction you want to take to produce the results you expect your business to achieve.

Thought is the most powerful force in the universe. Our thoughts are the controlling factor in what we manifest and create in our lives. Use your thoughts to create a specific vision for your business and then apply the right strategies and tactics to grow and develop that business.

What you need to know…

Creating a millionaires mindset requires action on your part. You must create a mindset that’s focused on performing your highest impact and highest income-producing activities on a daily basis.

If you’re not happy with your business’s current results, then ask yourself a question and be brutally honest as you answer it. WHY are you getting such poor results? WHY are you failing to attract clients? WHY are you attracting the wrong clients? WHY are you failing to generate the revenue and profits you expect from your business?

One of the things that we have found over the years is that people who are broke, struggling or just getting by – don’t think the same way as people who are financially abundant. They don’t believe the same things as financially challenged people do, and therefore they don’t behave the same way. In short, they take different actions.

Why you need to know this…

Small business owners have been mentally conditioned to behave a certain way. They have specific beliefs… such as “in order to make more money, I have to work harder.” “Money is the root of all evil.” “No pain, no gain.” “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” “If I don’t do it myself, it will never get done.”

These beliefs lead to specific actions such as working more hours and putting forth more effort in a vain attempt to increase revenue and profits. That leads to specific results such as feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and frustration… and a deep-seated belief that more and more effort is required, even though results seldom if ever appear.

Do you know what your current beliefs may be costing your business today? For example…

Do you succumb to mental barriers that may be sabotaging your success?

Are you laser-focused on your highest income-producing activities?

Are you hiring, assigning, delegating or bartering all of your non income-producing and less productive tasks?

Do you know the specific steps you can take to immediately create a “millionaires mindset?”

Would you like to know how you can learn to develop these critical skills?

Our E-Learning Marketing System™ does all of this… and much, much more. But don’t take our word for it. Let me show you right now how a business owner can change the way they think about their business… and do so in such a way that it creates a dramatic increase in effectiveness and revenue visit Finding the EdgeTM  for a Test Drive.

To your success,

Doug Thorpe

P.S. Please remember that at any time you feel ready and qualified to move forward and acquire the professional help that can enable you to build the business of your dreams, just click here and check out our E-Learning Marketing System™. It’s helping small business owners just like you get the answers and the help they need to build the business they have always wanted.

We created the E-Learning Marketing System™ with the perfect combination of online resources, tools and support to get you out of any financial distress you’re presently experiencing… help you get laser-focused on your highest income-producing activities… and help you develop and then apply the fundamentals that build multi-million dollar businesses. click here to see for yourself.

Leaders: Are You Coachable?

groupthink

In my consulting and coaching business, I often ask the question “are you coachable?” It is amazing how many times the prospect says “well, yes I believe I am.” After a few sessions with input and feedback, it becomes apparent they really are not coachable. How do I know? It manifests itself in many ways.

Business owners and professionals at all levels sometimes struggle with being coached. Success and achievement creates a false sense of not having any need for change. If you are getting results, why interrupt the methods that got you there? That may be a good mindset in the short run, but long term success requires growth.

To find good examples of being coachable we can look directly at athletics where the concept of coach and student are most notable. When you explore the story of the truly great athletes (think Michael Jordan or Jerry Rice), you will find stories of tireless pursuit of perfection. Regardless of the season they just had, these guys worked relentlessly to improve their stamina, skills, and techniques.

Recently Jerry Rice, football great and now, NFL Hall of Famer, was being interviewed. He was on the driving range at a celebrity golf outing. Rather than merely slap some golf balls around, he was on the range with both his caddy and a coach. When shots were not going the right place he was asking for guidance and advice. Golf isn’t even his game, yet the discipline of looking to perfect a skill was at work. His desire to do well at whatever endeavor was before him drove his will to be better. That’s being coachable.

Here are the a few thoughts about deciding if you are truly coachable.

  1. Do you routinely seek advice and counsel to improve some aspect of your professional or personal life? Or have you learned it all and know it all? Being open to the pursuit of growth as a professional is key. The best individuals in any aspect of life will be constantly trying to improve. Whether that includes technical knowledge, insight, or wisdom, the effort is there. Those who excel believe there is always more to learn or be.

  2. When you get advice do you act on it; following through with using the information to achieve more? Or do you discount the information and talk yourself out of action? Using what you learn is important. In leadership, it takes practice. Once you learn and understand a skill, you must apply it to your tool kit. By using your newly found understanding, you help to create confidence in its worth. Just as athletes work to build muscle memory for critical physical moves, leaders can build “influence memory” to work to their advantage.

  3. Do you seek follow-up from the coach to be sure you understood the coaching and that you are properly performing the actions that were recommended? Or do you move on without ever doubling back for refining advice? Even the best coaches require feedback from the client to know whether the teaching and training is working. Be proactive in giving that feedback to your coach. When you realize you are working on a new dimension of your training, open up the communication with the coach. Let them know what feels right or needs better explanation.

Make Your Decision

If your current professional or personal situation is not producing the results you expect, then perhaps some coaching is needed. But before you simply engage a coach, ask yourself whether you are truly coachable.