Entries Tagged as Leadership Development

How Will You Grow This Year?

January 23, 2017 ·

According to StatisticBrain.com, in 2015 the top New Year’s resolutions were: to lose weight, to get organized, to spend less and save more, to enjoy life, to stay fit and healthy, to learn something new, to quit smoking, to help others, to fall in love, and to spend time with family.

Do you see something missing there? Where are to career-related goals? In making plans and setting goals for the upcoming year, we ought not to overlook creating resolutions for how we spend more than a quarter of our time. If we are looking to improve our personal lives through resolutions and goals, we should definitely put some thought into improving our professional lives.

So don’t just go back to work right after the New Year’s celebrations and then keep on doing the same thing. Think about what you want to accomplish—increasing your client list or hitting a higher bracket in sales. Think about what you would like to happen—start that side business you’ve been thinking of, that big promotion, or even getting an award for your work.

Like personal resolutions, professional resolutions can be vague—attract new clients—or specific—attract two new clients a month. Just making a resolution, or setting a goal, will start you on your journey. However, remember the more specific a goal with the more specific steps of achieving it, the more likely you will be able to succeed.

Things to think about in setting career-related goals:

  • What do you want to accomplish this year?
  • How do you want to grow in your field?
  • Where do you want to be at the end of December?
  • What steps can you take to get to where you want to be?
  • What milestones will help you get to where you want to be?

Get those goals and resolutions ready because there is no better time than at the start of a new year to begin making your goals into reality.

Tags: Corporate Training · Leadership Development · Personal Development

Genuinely Contributing to the Workplace

November 23, 2015 ·

“If we are constantly expecting, we will spend a great deal of our lives disappointed that the world isn’t treating us right.” - Susan Jeffers

We all go to work each day with the basic expectation that we will be compensated for our efforts. Yet how many of us go to work each day and expect praise or acknowledgement, attention, or returned favors? We get in the habit, whether we like our job or not, to expect that when we contribute to the company or business we will get a return above and beyond compensation. We aren’t giving because it is the right thing to do. We are giving from a mentality of “what’s in it for me?”

This is a fearful way to approach a work environment. Always looking at how your actions will benefit yourself is an act of fear. People who feel this way will never be able to genuinely contribute, to their jobs or their personal lives. They are filled with a sense of scarcity, as if there isn’t enough to go around and if they share what they have, they fell they will be left with nothing. The fear is that there is not enough love, not enough money, not enough praise, not enough attention—simply not enough.

As Susan Jeffers wrote, “Usually fear in one area of our lives generalizes, and we become closed down and protective in many areas of our lives. Fearful people can be visualized as crouched and hugging themselves.”

This fearfulness can manifest in the workplace as:

  • Successful business people needing their boss’s approval
  • Coworkers that seem to be competing with everyone
  • Company executives who make harmful, irresponsible decisions
  • Persons who have to control everything down to the tiny details
  • Coworkers who always expect the “favor” to be returned

These people are all operating, in some way, out of a sense of fear for their own survival. As Susan said, “They all are, in effect, crouched and withholding inside.”

She wrote, “If you recognize yourself in this description, join the rest of us. There are few in our society who have actually been taught the secrets of growing up and giving. We have been taught the illusion of giving, but not the actuality of giving. As we have been taught to be careful in terms of our physical safety, we have also been taught not to let anyone con us or take advantage of us. As a result, unless we get something back, we feel used.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you feel as if you are doing extra to contribute in order to get “paid back” in some way, then you need to step away and think about why. What need are trying to fulfill? When you address that part of you, you will be able to turn off the negative mind-set of “what’s in it for me?” and become a person who acts on “what can I do to help?”

Learning to give genuinely is a lesson easily learned but hard to put into practice. Yet it is a reachable goal. One that is very much worth reaching for. 

Tags: Confidence · Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Leadership Development · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Living in the Now

November 04, 2015 ·

“If you see your tasks in life as drudgery, then they are drudgery. On the other hand, if you see them as an opportunity, then your tasks in life will take on brighter meaning.” - Susan Jeffers

A few months ago on this blog, we talked about the “When…Then” type of life. As Susan Jeffers described it in End the Struggle and Dance With Life, “we get in the habit, from a very early age, of looking forward to the big events in our lives…We expect to find happiness only in these brief, but exciting, events. We tell ourselves that when we go on vacation then we’ll be happy. Or when we retire then we’ll pursue those hobbies we’ve always wanted to do.”

The way to counteract the “When…Then” lifestyle is to be mindful of what is going on around you every second of the day. Rather than watching the clock tick away until “quitting time,” think about how you can make each moment count by giving it your full attention.

To follow-up, we wanted to give you a practical example of how this approach worked for one person. Tracy was working at a job in marketing for a non-profit company. It was not a job that she wanted, she had aspirations in a different industry, but she had taken it because she needed a job and an acquaintance, one of the managers, desperately needed staff. After nearly a year at the job, she was miserable. Her misery isolated her, keeping her from making friends with her colleagues or even noticing that there might be a friend among them. For their part, her colleagues kept their distance, everybody too busy to try and befriend someone with a miserable personality.

Then, getting tired of being unhappy, Tracy signed up for a self-improvement course. She shortly discovered that it wasn’t her job that was making her miserable, it was her own attitude towards it. Tricia vowed to make changes in her life and over the next few months really worked to change her attitude.

The job she had wasn’t the one she wanted, but it was a good job nonetheless. Tracy found that the part of her job that she liked—event planning—was similar to the career she really wanted. She put her best effort into learning all she could about that part of her job, while making an effort to participate more in meetings and in casual conversation with her colleagues.

Her transformation was amazing. She became an integral part of the company’s team and she began to really enjoy the work she was doing to support the company. Work was no longer eight hours of drudgery, but an experience of growth. When an opportunity came along in the field she had originally wanted, she had more than enough experience to go for it, and when she left the company, she did so knowing she had contributed positively.

Tags: Confidence · Corporate Training · Leadership Development · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Knocking on the Door of Opportunity

October 26, 2015 ·

There are so many aphorisms about opportunity—how easy it is to miss it, how hard it can be to recognize…and there is a lot of truth in those sayings. “Opportunity is where you find it” is one of the most basic and important ones. Opportunities arise every day, but how often do you notice? How many of us forget to look out for it? How many of us are waiting for it to come knocking on our door?

Opportunities are a set of circumstances that make new things, new breakthroughs possible. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to advance our careers or move forward in life. If we put in the hours and effort, we are sure to one day get that big opportunity for advancement. But what if while we are working so hard we can’t see the opportunity for what it is? As Mark Twain said, “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”

We all do this—get comfortable in our expectations. Yet when we do, we can miss valuable chances to expand and grow. Susan Jeffers expressed it this way in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway: “If you are focused on ‘the way it’s supposed to be,’ you might miss the opportunity to enjoy the way it is or to have it be wonderful in a totally different way from what you imagined.”

Take a look at your own goals and routine to evaluate if you have gotten “too comfortable.” Maybe it’s time to shake things up, such as taking a class, volunteering outside the workplace, or volunteering for a project that you would normally shy away from. Anything you can do to open up your worldview will help you to be open to new opportunities and to have an attitude that is welcoming to change. As Susan wrote:

The world is a place for opportunity, and I look forward to the opportunities for learning and growing that it gives me.

Tags: Confidence · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Leadership Development · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Winning at the Indecision Game

September 30, 2015 ·

You’ve got a decision to make. It might be as insignificant as choosing which pens to keep in the company supply closet. Or it could be very important, like choosing a software to help your company stay competitive in its field. We all face decisions every day—thousands of small and large choices to make. With all the responsibility and stress involved, it is no wonder that we can sometimes become indecisive. One of the biggest things that can keep us from moving ahead with our lives is the fear involved in making decisions.

It can take a lot out of us when we are indecisive. The worrying and fretting, the negative chatter going on in our heads. This is incredibly detrimental to our well-being and can negatively affect our work. Susan Jeffers, in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, called it the No-Win model of thinking. In this line of thinking, when you stand at the “Choice Point” of making a decision, “You feel somewhat paralyzed as you think about the consequences in life-and-death terms. You look at the unknown and try to predict the future; you try to take control of outside forces. Both are impossible. At this point you might notice that you are driving yourself crazy.” If you choose Path A or Path B both are going to be the wrong choice because you will constantly be reassessing the situation hoping that you didn’t make a mistake.

Susan recommends approaching decision making using the No-Lose Model of decision making. The No-Lose model reminds us that whatever we decide, it will be OK. Even if the decision we make doesn’t work out exactly as we wanted, it is still the RIGHT decision. It works this way, when you find yourself at the “Choice Point” and you have two or more options to choose from, look at the unique opportunities that are available in both choices. Know that there is no such thing as a “wrong” choice. Every opportunity offers its own set of benefits and learning experiences. It comes down to how you look at it.

That is not to say that you should blindfold yourself and choose one path at random. When you are faced with a decision there are five steps you should take before deciding anything:

  1. Focus on the opportunities
  2. Do your homework and research
  3. Establish your priorities
  4. Trust your impulses
  5. Lighten up!

Then, once you have made your decision, make sure you:

  1. Throw away your picture of what you think the outcome should look like
  2. Accept total responsibility for your decisions
  3. Don’t protect the decision, make corrections to it as needed.

Susan said, “Remember that underlying our indecision is a lack of trust in ourselves.” So trust yourself and the decisions you make and know that there are opportunities available to you no matter what you decide. 

Tags: Confidence · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Individual Training · Leadership Development · Overcome Fear · Susan Jeffers

Expanding the Bottom Line

August 31, 2015 ·

The “bottom line” is a very important concept in business—it signifies the particular end that justifies all the means. If you ask most people to identify what is presently the bottom line in their work world, they would most likely answer, “Getting Ahead.”

This is really a shortened version of “Getting Ahead—usually of someone else in terms of profit, status, and/or power.” This does not make for great work connections or good relations with coworkers. But, what if we expanded our bottom line to be, “Getting Ahead and caring about coworkers”?

As we add a level of connectedness to our bottom line, our purpose is greatly expanded. As Susan Jeffers said in Dare to Connect, “We can begin to bridge the gap with our coworkers as we start to see them as people just like us, people who would welcome our caring and consideration.”

It may seem that “Getting Ahead” and “Caring About Coworkers” are conflicting concepts, but they don’t have to be. The actions and attitudes that come from the narrow bottom line of “Getting Ahead” are very different from those that come from the expanded bottom line of “Getting Ahead and Caring About Coworkers.” It changes our thinking from You OR Me to You AND Me.

Thinking along the lines of the expanded bottom line, ask yourself:

  • Am I a positive force in at work?
  • Do I help people feel good about themselves by building them up or do I pull them down by being judgmental and critical?
  • Do I offer my help to those who could use it or do I withhold, out of fear they may get ahead of me?
  • Am I a taker, or do I also give a lot to those around me?
  • Do I show genuine interest in the lives of my co-workers, or do I act as if I couldn’t care less?

When we answer these questions truthfully, we can begin to adjust our thinking towards working with others instead of just trying to get ahead. Expanding the bottom line can not only make work more productive, but more interesting and pleasurable too. 

Tags: Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Leadership Development · Susan Jeffers

Networking with “Everybody Training”

June 04, 2015 ·

Networking has become one of those things that nearly everyone has to do. Today’s business climate is based on connecting and sharing. Some people enjoy the interaction, and some do not, but most understand how important it is to connect to others in your field. However, the connections that we are making tend to be on a cursory level, keeping our interactions with others from going deeper.

How can we take our networking to a new level? Right now, we go into an event and shake as many hands and collect as many cards as possible. But, there is a better way to approach our networking opportunities.

As Susan Jeffers explained in her book Dare to Connect, we approach other people based on the idea of “What’s in it for me?” We think about meeting people who can further enhance our business and our careers. We think of it as a “me” opportunity. “What can I get out of it?” Therefore, any connections we make are tenuous at best.

Susan recommended that we change our thinking about meeting new people by re-educating ourselves with “Everybody Training.” In this exercise, we teach ourselves to not just think about our own needs (which excludes others) but to also think about the needs of those we are trying to connect with (which is inclusive). We need to train ourselves to think about how we can help the people we are networking with. We need to think about what we have to offer them, not just what we can get out of our interaction. Our thinking changes from “What can I get out of this?” to “What am I going to give?”

When we think in this way, networking becomes about building sincere and lasting business connections, not just a collection of business cards. And, in many ways, it makes approaching networking easier. If we aren’t so worked up with goals about how many connections we make or meeting the “right” people, networking becomes a more enjoyable enterprise. As Susan wrote:

Connection is made easier when we approach other people with the primary purpose of meeting the needs of other people.

Next time you go to a networking event, look at not only what you would like to get out of it, but also think about what you can offer to the people you meet. 

Tags: Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Individual Training · Leadership Development

Pollyanna in the Workplace

March 17, 2015 ·

In the last blog we talked about how positive thinking—being a Pollyanna—is not unrealistic or naïve, but rather a step towards allowing ourselves to be happy. Negative thinking, or worrying, only serves to make us unhappy, while positive thinking can make us feel upbeat and confident. As Susan Jeffers said, why choose to be unhappy when with a twist of your thinking you can be happy?

In the workplace, so supercharged with stress and worries, it can be so much harder to find “something to be glad about” on a regular basis. But, that makes it even more important that you do. Wallowing in negativity makes work life insufferable—for yourself and your colleagues.

By choosing to “find the good” at your place of work you will be able to:

  • Keep up enthusiasm for both new and current projects;
  • Better relate to coworkers and management;
  • Be supportive of ideas and solutions;
  • End the day with a feeling of accomplishment.

In the workplace, there are often challenges that require critical thinking and viewing both sides (the good and the bad) before solid decisions can be made. If you are choosing to be “Pollyanna,” this does not mean that you can no longer make these kinds of critical decisions. Thinking positively is more about what goes on inside your own mind. It does not inform your every thought, but instead is a tool that can be used to live a more fulfilled life.

What it comes down to is choosing to be positive when you have a choice about how you feel about something. Your coworker has a bad attitude? Having to work through lunch again? Your upcoming performance review? You can feel angry or annoyed or fearful about these things, or you can choose to find something positive in them. You can be sympathetic (maybe that coworker’s home life is unhappy) or positive (the job will be done sooner if lunch is skipped) or confident (you’ve put in your best effort).

So, if being a Pollyanna creates a happier world for you and those around you, why hesitate for one more moment?

Tags: Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Leadership Development · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Having a Choice: Part 2

November 25, 2014 ·

Continuing from our last post about choosing to be happy or unhappy in our professional lives, this week we look into the responsibility we have to make positive choices when it comes to work.

Knowing that you always have a choice at every moment in your life also means that you are taking responsibility for yourself. If you are fed-up with your job, but don’t take any steps to remedy the situation, you are allowing yourself to be the victim. You are not being an active participant in your own life. To really be happy in our work, we must all choose to take responsibility for our own actions, as well as our response to the things that happen to us.

For example, “Sam” is a mid-level employee for a government office who would really like to be promoted. He gets excellent employee reviews and often gets compliments from his superiors. Yet, when he is up for promotion, he is passed over with the reason being that he is so good at his job that they’ll never find anyone to replace him. Sam likes his job well enough, but he has been doing it for a long time and wants to try something new. Due to a non-compete clause, he can’t immediately work in the private sector. He could make a lateral move to another agency, but that would require moving his family. So he stays at a job that he is tired of, and he remains unhappy.

Susan Jeffers would have had a field day with Sam. Here is someone who is obviously talented and who could have incredible prospects, but chooses to be the victim of other people’s choices. Susan said it best: “Most of us do not ‘sculpt’ our lives. We accept what comes our way . . . then we gripe about it. Many of us spend our lives waiting for the perfect things to come along. There is no need to wait for anyone to give you anything in your life. You have the power to create what you need.”

In Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan wrote about the definitions of responsibility. Each of these “rules,” when applied to our own lives, can give us considerable insight into how we are allowing outside forces to determine what happens to us.

Taking responsibility means:

  • never blaming anyone else for anything you are being, doing, having, or feeling;
  • not blaming yourself;
  • being aware of where and when you are NOT taking responsibility, so that you can eventually change;
  • being aware of payoffs that keep you stuck;
  • figuring out what you want in life and acting on it;
  • being aware of the multitude of choices you have in any given situation.

In the case of Sam, he could do with at least four of these rules of responsibility, as he is clearly choosing lemons over lemonade. He even knows that there are other options available to him, but by not acting on them, he is choosing his own unhappiness over the opportunities available to him.

Hopefully, you aren’t in Sam’s situation, but perhaps you can see some similarities in your life. Are you going to choose job stagnation and unhappiness? Or are you going to choose a path that could lead to change and fulfillment?

Tags: Confidence · Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Individual Training · Leadership Development · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Course Correction

October 28, 2014 ·

For many of us, the idea of making the right choices and sticking to them is extremely important and ingrained in our psyche. So much so that we often cannot see that sometimes these “right” choices don’t end up being the best decisions in the long run, and we are scared to course correct or change our mind. This can be especially tough in a workplace position where we may not have the flexibility or freedom to be able to backtrack or change our minds. The idea of veering from the course that we set out is viewed as negative and wishy-washy.

Susan Jeffers talked about this in her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, saying:

“Many of us are so invested in making the “right” decision that even if we find we don’t like the path we have chosen, we hang in there for dear life. To my way of thinking, this is the height of craziness.”

There is tremendous value in learning what doesn’t work for you, even if it is contrary to your “right” decision. All you have to do is reset your course. This may not be an easy undertaking, but it is an important one. For example, Jill finally got the promotion she had worked for many years to get, but a few months into the job she found that it wasn’t as fulfilling as she thought it would be. Her “right” decision did not seem so right then. It can be scary to admit that and take action on it, but in the long run, course correcting will ultimately be the “right” decision.

You may have faced this situation or something similar—questioning yourself and your choices. But how do you know for sure? Which course is the right course? Susan wrote:

“There are many inner clues that help you know when it is time to correct. The two most obvious are confusion and dissatisfaction. Ironically, these are considered negatives, instead of positives. I know it is hard to accept, but an upset in your life is beneficial in that it tells you that you are off course in some way and you need to find your way back to your particular path.”

This idea can be equated to the experience of physical pain. It can feel horrible for us, but it is actually beneficial because it tells you that something is wrong with your body, and alerts you to take action to fix it. Mental pain can be beneficial in just the same way. It tells you that something is wrong with the way you are living your live, and it is time to contemplate course correction.

To get back on course, you should explore all the resources and options at your disposal. Susan suggested reaching out through books, workshops, friends, a counselor, or whatever seems right for you. In your workplace, it might be helpful to reach out to your supervisor or a colleague to discuss what your options may be. The course correction might be as simple as delegating some of your work or as drastic as changing positions. But a change must be made.

There is nothing wrong with finding yourself dissatisfied with your original course. In fact, it can be a tremendous learning experience. As Susan wrote, “We see that the trick in life is not to worry about making a wrong decision, it’s learning when to correct!”

Tags: Confidence · Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Individual Training · Leadership Development · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers