Archive for Success

Keeping quite at a cost

Taize-Silence

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review discussed a long time phenomenon the author calls “violent politeness”. This is when we enter the workforce young and eager to make our mark we often leave our voice behind.  Why?  Because speaking up and potentially sharing our critical opinion comes with a cost.  We think the cost is being labeled as being “not a team player” or “negative” or “he never has anything good to say”.  Because of this we think silence is the answer, but at what cost?

Silence is not a solution.The reality is when we don’t speak our mind we are building up in ourselves a learned behavior of not sharing what could potentially be the best asset we bring to any environment, our opinion.

I have been luck enough in my career to work for some people who not only encouraged honesty, but demanded it.  Because of that a great deal of the learned behavior I have built my career around is not being afraid to share my opinion.  Some times it costs me short-term status, but often times it increased my long-term value when I am shown as being the lone voice of reason in hindsight.

The article got me to think a little about my current work environment.  The current environment does not lend itself to honestly sharing opinion or comment or ideas.  For one thing these are not asked for by others.  No one comes to you and says, “I just wanted to get a different set of eyes on this, what do you think?”  They are all too busy building empires, which the worst enemy of empire building is the insight and opinion of others.

Because of that in recent years I have slowly been retrained to not bring honesty to the table, because honesty is negatively rewarded. However, I have not allowed this to change the way I lead others or how I interact with others where I know the relationships can withstand honesty.  I still approach these with the focus of sharing honest opinion and insight.

So it makes me wonder what it would be like if we all made an agreement to come to the table with honesty in tow in our work environment.  What if we where able to accept it was okay to share honestly without fear, and not only accept it, but expect it?  What would work look like if that was the base expectation?

The article that spurred this thought (“Why Work Is Lonely” by Gianpiero Petriglieri) can be found by clicking here.

Working to Death…

balance2

I know we say this at times, “You are going to work yourself to death if you aren’t careful!”  Did you know this is actually true?  I recently had a conversation with a friend who has moved to a job overseas, and now manages workers in parts of Asia.  He talked about having positions to fill because employees that worked for him where literally dying from over work.

Late last year (December 2013) a young woman Tweeted that she had been working for 30 straight hours and was still going strong.  Hours later she collapsed into a coma and never woke up, dying at the age of 24. (Story can be read here)  Over work to this level might be a cultural thing in that part of world, but it is no less prevalent here in America, we just haven’t had a story about anyone dying from it yet.

In a time where there is huge discussion about the minimum wage, cost of living, an aging Baby Boomer workforce, an influx of undocumented workers, recession level unemployment slow to recover, and technological efficiency of the new world there is pressure to work hard and longer.   Sometimes just to make ends meet, other times to be able to keep up with our consumerism driven world.  The Galaxy S4 phone is only a yearish old, and now the S5 is getting released.  Gotta have the newest gadgets, need to work more so I can get the iPhone X when it comes out. Need those extra hours because my son needs lunch money or food on the table for dinner.

Yes the pressures seem to come from every direction, including from within us.

However, before you agree to take on that second shift and sacrifice a good night’s sleep or spending time with your wife/family/kids consider a few good reasons to pass up that extra time at work.

1) Sleep improves productivity 

A study on biological sleep clocks by researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, shows the longer someone is awake while they are sleep-deprived, the slower their work production becomes.  It also was able to show that sleep deprivation can be a cumulative process, not just a one time flash in the pan issue.  Following an incident where she collapsed and broke her cheek bone when she fell,  Arianna Huffington was quoted as saying “The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.”  I think she knows what she is talking about.

2) Quality always wins over Quantity

Sure if you pull that all-nighter you can get some serious quantity of product, content or reports done.  However, is the end product you are producing any good?  Despite what we might think the brain is not capable of multi-tasking.  If you start thinking about one thing you have to stop thinking about something else.  So when you take on more tasks all with tight deadlines your brain bounces from one subject to the other.  Each time it does  ideas are lost and with them the quality of what you bring to your work team is lost right along with it.  This is even more true when the brain is tired and thus the quality of thought put forth decreases the more tired we become.

3. There will always be more work

There is one constant in our work lives, we are never done.  The work we do today might not be the same as the work we do a year from today, but rest assured there will be work a year from now. Work is not like a board game where you are just trying to get to the finish.  Work is perpetual, unless you are putting yourself out of a job. I can’t tell you how many times I have sent a person that works for me home following them saying how much there was to get done by saying “and it will all be there tomorrow.” Work is a never ending marathon, that if you don’t take time to rest will end for you very prematurely.

4. Most of what we do is not that important

It might be important today (and at times even that is debatable), but can you honestly recount what you were doing five years ago today? Can you name the project you were working on or the tasks you were doing on this day a year ago, five years ago, ten?  I will absolutely concede there are professions where lives, quite literally, hang in the balance. For those carreers I would recommend rereading point number one, and then taking a nap.  For the rest of us where we do work, but we are not struggling with life or death situations, is anyone going to remember next year that it took them an extra day to get their computer installed, so that you could attend your daughter’s play at school?  I doubt it…

5. You want to be there for others

Over working can cost you relationships. In her book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing”, former hospice worker Bronnie Ware lists regretting “working to hard” as one of the top five regrets she continually heard from her dying patients.  She says “People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.” Not being there for other because they were too busy working would be a horrible regret to have when the final days come.  Yet for “every male patient” and a majority of female patients that Bronnie saw come through the hospice that was on their list.

balance-aktThis article is not to advocate just chucking your work ethic and blowing off work.  Rather it is to point out that though work is important, because the large majority of us as not independently wealthy, there ARE more important things, like your health, relationships and the quality of your accomplishments.

Taking these other things in to account does not give you permission to become a procrastinator, who neither accomplishes work nor focuses on other important aspects of life.  Instead it gives you permission to decide priorities and then focus on those priorities in turn.

It means if you want to make being a healthy and mentally focused person a priority then you can’t sacrifice sleep, healthy eating, and exercise for work.  In order to be the most effective, intelligent and complete version of who you are meant to be you must find balance between rest and work.  Take a vacation day just because.  Go take your spouse to lunch for no particular reason and spend an extra half hour just being with them.

balance1

Invest in yourself!

invest-in-youI came across an interesting article from Forbes website. The article (Click here to read full article) talks about eight self-limiting behaviors that successful people see to be able to avoid.  Any of them are good things to avoid, but two of them stuck out to me more than the rest.  The two of these behaviors I see most in people is the one that discusses “Engaging in below the line thinking” and the one about “Putting off investing in themselves”. Often times these go hand in hand…

I don’t know how many times I hear people say that they can’t get ahead because their circumstance is “keeping them down”, when if fact they are keeping themselves down by not taking control of matters.  This idea that something completely out of control is driving your life circumstance in a direction you don’t want it to be going is known as “below the line thinking”, or what most of us know of as negative self-talk.  In fact there are very few things in life that are so completely out of our control that we have no impact on the direction they take us.

We control our circumstance and in fact the decisions we make are almost always responsible for our circumstances.  I want to start my own business but I don’t take any action to learn what that would entail because it just seems to difficult.  I would like to learn a different language and then travel someplace and use it, but my weekend is too busy.  I really want that promotion at work, but I don’t know if I have what they are looking for.

Magnifying glassIf you want to start your own business, take some classes in business management to give yourself the tools to be successful. Want to know more about foreign affairs, study them from credible sources. Love to cook and just wish you could do it better, take some cooking classes or start watching the Food Network.  Want to learn a language buy Rosetta Stone.

Learning, growing and improving is not something we stop doing once we get a degree. We should be taking time to invest in ourselves each and every day. If you aren’t you can’t possibly look at your circumstance and blame where you are on anyone other than yourself.

A potentially great resource for learning something you have always wanted to learn is a website called Coursera.org. This is a website where you can take FREE on-line instructor lead classes from Universities all over the world on subjects from Quantum Physics to the History of the Beatles.

Start investing in you today!

What are you going to do today to starting investing in you and take back ownership of your circumstances?

Ascending

It has been a long week.  Many of the aspects of my life have been challenged this week.  Through all of that however came an interesting learning opportunity on leadership.  In past posts and in content from other authors it has been said that if you look back and no one is following you then you aren’t leading.  The question is where are we leading people to?

Most successful discussions about leadership and goal accomplishment talk about success in context of moving up.  We climb the ladder, reach the summit, and hit our peak.  This would seem to mean that leadership is about moving people not only forward but up.  Leaders have planted a goal and now must use their skills and gifts to lead their followers to that goal with success. Read more

Meassuring Success

Everyone measures success a little differently.  We measure success based on job title, how much money we make, how many Facebook friends we have, accolades from others, acceptance of our work product, and a whole host of other things.  In the workplace it is about the job evaluation, promotion, or recognition.

Many look to outside forces to help measure success.  In our culture success has become something that we think is measured by others, when in fact success is something we measure for ourselves.  We have also come to think that success is measured by numbers.  Dollars, dates, and counts are all numbers we use to measure how successful we are. Read more