Entries Tagged as Personal Development

Don’t Act Out in Anger

November 09, 2017 ·

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems—not people; to focus your energies on answers—not excuses.” William Arthur Ward

At SusanJeffers.com this month, we’re talking about how anger is often times a response to fear. In a work environment, that can more often be true. At work we’re supposed to be confident and self-assured, so when we become anxious or fearful, we react in irritation and aggressively. It’s as if we think anger and confidence are interchangeable.

While at work, it is hard to take the time to step away and understand where anger is coming from. That generally needs to wait until our leisure time when we can step away from work issues and look at them with the clarity of distance. Yet when we are in the thick of a problem, it’s hard not to give into the anger and fear. When things are happening quickly, we can’t help but react. It’s how we choose to react that can make all the difference. We need to make sure we channel that anger in a way that supports the work we do and supports our colleagues.

As Ward’s quote above says, when we are angry it’s best to focus our energies on solutions. But how many times have we found ourselves instead focusing on the perceived mistakes or misintentions of a colleague, client, or vendor. When we are angry and fearful is not the time to lash out. Not only is it unprofessional, but can undermine our reputations and alienate the very people we have to collaborate with on a daily basis.

If you find yourself acting in anger in your workplace, consider how you can constructively channel that energy, taking it from a negative experience to create something beneficial. Maybe take a five-minute walk outside to clear your head, or find a quiet spot in which to meditate on the reasons for your anger. Whatever you do, make sure you point your energies towards the problem and solution, not at people. People may be the cause of your stress, but people are also part of the solution. 

Tags: Personal Development

How Do You Listen?

October 18, 2017 ·

“I listened carefully to their wisdom, they reaffirmed and added to my fund of knowledge.” –Susan Jeffers

We are so often told that it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. That to make it in our jobs we have to be cut-throat. Following such advice, we might find some success, but we sure won’t be happy about it. In the long run, putting ourselves ahead of our colleagues will leave us isolated and behind. What is success, really, if we don’t have friends and supporters to share it with?

To make connections that really matter, we need to show respect and show our fellow workers that they matter.

The best way to do that is to listen and show that you are listening. You’re probably thinking, “I’m a great listener, all I do is listen!” But do you really? Maybe you’re looking right at them and nodding along, but are you really listening? Or are you thinking about lunch or what you’re going to do after work?

If you really want to make someone feel that they matter to you, that they are respected, then listen. It’s really pretty easy. As you listen to someone speak, ask them questions, repeat back to them what they’ve said, respond with “when you say…” or “this makes me think…” Really engage in the conversation. Make sure you are speaking less than you are listening.

Susan Jeffers wrote in Dare to Connect, “Really listening opens us up to receive not only the insight of others, it allows us to connect on a deeper level. It is another way of acknowledging the ‘light’ in another person.”

Really listening when Bob from Human Resources recount his latest fishing trip sure sounds like a real chore. Sure, you have zero interest in listening to him, but he’s not a bad guy and deserves your respect. Show him that by really listening to him, no matter what he’s talking about. Even if it’s a coworker you don’t particularly like, listen to them as you would want to be listened to. Then, maybe, in the future they will return the favor. 

Tags: Personal Development

More Than a Means to an End

September 13, 2017 ·

At work, it can sometimes feel as if we are just a cog in a machine. We don’t matter so much as the end result, the bottom line. It’s hard to feel otherwise when we’re pressured with quotas and deadlines and performance reviews. It’s easy to forget that each employee—whether colleague, boss, or intern—is a human being who has the ability to influence the lives of those around them. It’s easy to forget that about ourselves as well.

As an employee, we are parts in a machine, but it doesn’t have to be the soul-deadening mechanics of an assembly line. Every person in the company plays an important role, not just in the completion of the work, but it their contact with fellow employees.

As Susan Jeffers wrote in Dare to Connect, “When we realize that we aren’t just our job title we become less attached to our role. We realize that we may be the boss, the secretary or the boy in the mail room . . . BUT WE ARE MORE. We are all human beings who touch each other’s lives.”

Our work identity is not dependent on our position. It is more of a reflection of how much effort we put into our work and how much effort we make to connect with our colleagues.

When we stop thinking of ourselves as a replaceable unit and approach our jobs with the idea that we have so much to contribute, we can bring in the human values of integrity and humanity. We gain self-esteem by being a present and engaged human who also happens to do a certain job.

“As we expand the bottom line, money, status and power lose some of their importance,” Susan said. “Fear diminishes as we realize that who we are encompasses more than simply winning the race;

it also encompasses the notion that we are caring human beings.”

Think about work in ways that are more than just getting the work done and meeting your goals. Think about how much more you are than just a “means to an end.” You have so much to contribute to those around you. Remember that and your work life can be so much more than just your job. 

Tags: Personal Development

Let Yourself Be Inspired

July 14, 2017 ·

At SusanJeffers.com this month, we’re talking about Heroes. Not the kind in the skin-tight costumes that save the universe over and over again, but the kind that you pass in the street and don’t recognize because they look just like regular people. Because they are regular people.

Susan Jeffers wrote in her book, Embracing Uncertainty, about her own heroes. People she looked up to who gave her inspiration. Some of her heroes were leaders—Viktor Frankl and Ram Dass—while some were people she knew who had been through the worst life has to offer and still came out a winner. She kept a notebook filled with her heroes’ stories that she could refer to whenever she needed some inspiration.

She suggested that you do this too. In the business arena, there are a lot of inspiring CEOs to look to for inspiration—Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, or Richard Branson, just to name a few of the big ones. But it’s also important to look to unrecognized heroes.

Perhaps you can find a Hero in a former boss who was a mentor to you. Or maybe a coworker who always seems to go the extra mile and who had overcome some tragedy in his or her life. You could even find a hero in that nurse at your doctor’s office or the barista a at your favorite coffee shop may have lived an inspirational life that could serve as an example to you.

Heroes and inspiration are everywhere. When you’re feeling deflated or overwhelmed by work and need some encouragement to help you go forward, think about your heroes—both well-known and unsung—to give you boost of inspiration. 

Tags: Confidence · Personal Development

Finding the Creative Side of Work

May 11, 2017 ·

As a society, we put a lot of time and effort into our jobs and careers. The term “workaholic” may have been coined in jest, but more and more of us find that we spend more time working than in the rest of our lives. Susan Jeffers wrote: “Some of us believe that workaholism is conducive to good business practices. Yet, studies show that compulsive, narrowly- focused, competitive, tense individuals can't see the forest from the trees. Hence, creativity and productivity are hindered, not helped.”

Creativity is defined as the use of the imagination or original ideas. It can also be described as using your mind to find new routes, ways, and alternatives. We bet you can think of all sorts of ways that you are creative in your work, even if you don’t think of it as creating. Whether or not our jobs are in creative industries, all employment calls for some sort of creativity.

Yet in our rush to get things done, we don’t take the time to acknowledge that creativity that allows us to do our jobs so well and wonderfully. We need to take a step back, slow down a bit, to appreciate what we bring to the table, our gifts that are rooted in our own unique minds.

When we talk about creativity here, we’re not just referring to get the job done or finding ways to do work more efficiently. When we are being creative, we can be so much more than our imagination or ideas. When we are in touch with our creative selves we are getting in touch with the best part of ourselves, reaching past fear, and touching the whole world. When we don’t stop to appreciate it, we lose out on the feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction. So take a minute, take a deep breath, and be grateful for your creativity. 

Tags: Personal Development

Don’t Forget to Jump for Joy

April 20, 2017 ·

How many of us find ourselves waiting for the big “win.” Landing an important new client, winning a big proposal, getting a much sought after promotion. We spend so much time looking forward, that we don’t see all the little wins we accomplish every day. Even when we do get that big win, often we are already looking forward to the next one and don’t even properly appreciate it.

We take so much for granted, even the hard work we put into our jobs, that we forget to “jump for joy” when we experience an accomplishment. Most of us don't spend enough time appreciating our “wins,” big or small. Instead we focus on what we haven't done or what needs to be done. By doing so we are choosing struggle over enjoyment.

Susan Jeffers had this same problem. She wrote in End the Struggle and Dance With Life about her own realization that she wasn’t appreciating her accomplishments. “At one time, it was a dream of mine to have a book published. I truly jumped for joy the day I received a copy of my first published book in the mail. As time went on, many other of my books were published, with editions published in other countries. This made two large shelves of my published works. But, soon, I took it all for granted. As each new edition of the books would come in the mail, I would mindlessly add it to the collection on my shelves without a moment of gratitude...without a moment of celebration.”

“One day, as I sat at my desk, I looked over at the book shelf and the ‘miracle’ of it all hit me. I stopped what I was doing, walked over to the bookshelf, and celebrated all those neglected successes for the very first time by jumping up and down for joy. I pulled out each book and thanked that particular publisher. I thanked the people who bought the books. I thanked myself for pushing through the fear and writing the books. I thanked my Higher Power for giving me the life force to be a part of this amazing world.”

Take some time each day to appreciate your accomplishments. Whether it’s just getting your weekly report out on time or it’s winning an industry award for your work, every “win” should be appreciated. “Jump for joy” at your accomplishments. Because, as Susan wrote:

“Remember that true success comes from the noticing and the celebration of all our blessings.”

Tags: Personal Development

Turn It Over

March 07, 2017 ·

Sometimes things don’t happen just as we want. In fact, that probably happens more often than not. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen for a reason. It means that we aren’t privy to the ‘why.’ However hard we work, no matter how much time and effort we put into a project, no matter how much time we put into our jobs, we ultimately have very little control over the outcome.

Yet we do have the choice in how we react to that outcome. And we have the choice to trust that what happened was for the best.

Maybe there is a job you’re hoping to get and some someone else not as qualified as you got the job. That seems so unfair. You find yourself angry and not a little worried about what that means for your future success. The negative chatterbox in your mind is telling you tales of gloom and doom about how the world is ending and other tall tales.

When you are in the throes of negative thinking it can be hard to remember that you do have a choice. You can let the episode destroy your peace of mind and weigh you down or you turn it over to the wisdom within.

Susan Jeffers wrote in End the Struggle and Dance With Life, “When I say, ‘Turn it over,’ I mean TURN IT OVER. And when I say ‘Trust,’ I mean TRUST! My own experiences in life have convinced me that things happen in our lives for very good reasons. Our very limited minds may not understand it all, but the Spiritual part of who we are understands perfectly. So when doubt comes creeping in, as it always will, it serves our peace of mind to keep repeating to ourselves over and over again that wonderful affirmation... It’s all happening perfectly!”

None of us can ever know the answer to all of our questions, but we need to remember that there are answers we will never be privy too … and that’s OK! If you focus on learning and growing instead of the anger and fear you will feel yourself lighten up as the heavy weight negativity goes away. The way events unfold is just a process of living. Like breathing or blinking, there is only so much we can do. Turning over the need to control and depressed feelings is one thing you can do. And you’ll feel so much better.

So remember, “With the enormous peace of mind that the thought ‘it’s all happening perfectly’ gives you, you move forward with the assurance that there is a meaning and purpose to it all.”

Tags: Confidence · Overcome Fear · Personal Development

A Thank You Improves Everything

February 21, 2017 · 2 Comments

Current research in employee behavior has revealed that gratitude shown by employers greatly improves employee morale and performance, yet most of us would be hard pressed to remember the last time we were given a genuine Thank You for our work. We also would be hard pressed to remember when was the last time we genuinely thanked a colleague or subordinate.

You’re probably thinking right now, “I say ‘thank you’ all the time!” Sure you do, we all do. It’s a pro forma saying as well used as ‘hello.’ Someone holds the elevator door for you, a store clerk gives you your change, a receptionist points you in the right direction, you probably said an off-hand ‘thanks.’ In these cases, and so many more commonplace interactions that occur during the day, Thank You becomes a shorthand acknowledgement of an interaction. You probably say Thank You the same way when your barista hands you your coffee or a coworker gives you a report you asked for that took many hours of work. Think about it. Should those interactions have the same response?

The kind of Thank You we’re talking about is a genuine show of gratitude. Making eye contact, saying Thank You, and really meaning it. Susan wrote in End the Struggle and Dance With Life, “Each time we say Thank You, two powerful words, we are acknowledging a gift we were given. On the other hand, if we don't say Thank You very often, it is a sign we are taking things for granted. When we take things for granted, we are sleepwalking our way through life. Giving thanks is one way of waking ourselves up.”

When someone says Thank You, not in a pro forma way, it makes us feel good on many levels, the most basic being that we are worthwhile human beings. After someone puts in hours of work on a project, acknowledging their work is as important as being paid. Connecting our paycheck with specific work completed is hard to do. Weeks later no one says, here is my pay packet and this portion is for the 15 hours I spent laboring over those financials. But getting a Thank You from a boss or a colleague for that work can bring immediate satisfaction.

It can be extremely difficult in a competitive work environment to acknowledge the contributions of colleagues, or even up and coming subordinates. Susan wrote: “So much of what we learn in life comes to us with great difficulty. And, for some reason, we have a tendency to want to see others struggle as much as we did. Turn this around and begin giving others as much help as you can possibly give them…. When you become a support to others you become bigger than you are.”

So cultivate the habit of saying Thank You and genuinely meaning it. You’ll be helping to boost morale and improve performance among your colleagues, and yourself.

2 CommentsTags: Personal 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

Communication and Compassion

August 15, 2016 ·

In last month’s blog, we talked about how being “professional” at work doesn’t mean that we can’t also show compassion. Often times, at our place of employment, we try to strip all emotion from our work. But humans are full of emotion all the time, so disciplining ourselves to be less compassionate and loving serves to keep us isolated in a place we spend so much of our lives.

Yes, it can be difficult to be understanding and show compassion to our colleagues. We spend at least 25% of our time during any given week with a large group of people that we didn’t choose and with whom we have to work closely. There are people that we like more than others—sometimes making true friends—but there are also people that are tough to get along with, making it hard to meet deadlines and achieve goals.

This is where professional compassion can be most useful—it opens up channels of communication with our colleagues and helps us to understand where they are coming from. Susan Jeffers wrote in Dare to Connect, “What creates conflict are the differing needs, expectations, perceptions and experiences of everyone involved.” By being in contact with our emotions, by not being afraid to try to empathize with all of our colleagues, we can be a better co-worker and a more productive employee.

The first step towards achieving understanding is to know that we don’t know, and can’t know in many cases, what other people are feeling or thinking.

“In our effort to convert conflict into discovery, expansion, and cooperation, it really helps to see ourselves as beings with very limited vision. By definition, we can see the world through our own eyes...and no one else's. That's pretty limited! Conflict simply signifies that those with whom we have disagreements see with different eyes.”

Trying to at least acknowledge that your colleagues have individual lives, individual fears and goals, will go a long way in helping to understand where they are coming from. The next step is to really listen.

“Understand we don't have to end up agreeing with each other.  But in the process, we learn what the world looks like, from different points of view. So LISTEN AND LEARN is the key to using conflict as discovery. The more we hear and the more we see, the more we allow into our internal computer, and the more creative we become—and the more empathy we have for other positions, thus allowing connection to occur.”

Each of these steps you can undertake on your own to improve both your work experience and that of your colleagues. Many times, those colleagues you already find recalcitrant will not be affected by your effort to understand and listen. If you are reaching out with love and compassion and they can’t see it, it is a poor reflection on them, not on you. By reaching out to everyone with the same level of empathy, you are creating a workspace that is supportive and productive for those around you and, more importantly, yourself. 

Tags: Corporate Training · Personal Development