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Why You Need to Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

It’s not always easy to step out into the public eye. Whether it’s a speaking engagement or a conversation with the cashier, there are times when I know I’d rather be at home watching movies on Netflix. In order to expand a personal network or relationship, the first courageous step must be taken.

A step that takes you outside of your comfort zone.

When something feels terrifying, even on the smallest level, our natural inclination is to avoid that “something” no matter what. To stay inside of the comfort zone. Here’s how I work on taking that first step into the terror.

#1. Just be honest with yourself. There are many things I don’t like about stepping into the public eye, but that is because I’ve been rejected, neglected, or even bullied a few times by strangers who thought my ideas weren’t worth anything. We must be honest with ourselves and look at why we’re hesitant to step outside of our comfort zones so any issues we have can be addressed immediately.

#2. Make each moment your own. I find myself fighting the inclination to change my thinking when others try to bully me into a specific approach. Or ridicule me to make my approach seem like it isn’t the right choice. We need to each take ownership of each moment we are given. It’s our thoughts and feelings that are important. Not everyone will agree with us or embrace what we have to offer, but that doesn’t make our perspective incorrect.

#3. Recognize collaboration opportunities. I had this plaque hanging up in my home while growing up that said this: “A cord of 3 strands is not easily broken.” Sometimes we must step outside of our comfort zones to build our networks or chase new opportunities. There are times when we can also step out of our comfort zones in the company of trusted associates, friends, and family. If there is an opportunity to take that first step forward with someone, then take it. We are all stronger when we’re together.

#4. Be willing to take a step backward if necessary. I’m stubborn. I don’t like admitting when I’ve failed or when I’ve made a poor decision. I just like to keep pressing forward to let the chips fall where they may. In that stubbornness, however, I’ve learned an interesting lesson. If you can pause for a moment, evaluate where you are, and recognize that a different course of action may be a better opportunity, then you can actually venture further away from your comfort zone. If we can recognize a moment of stubbornness and make a correction immediately, even if it is a backwards step, we can still move forward when the time is right.

#5. Take the plunge – just do it. I am in control of my actions. You are in control of yours. When the time comes to step outside of a comfort zone, it is each individual soul who controls whether that first step forward is going to happen. Make the decision to take the plunge.

There are days when I must force myself into the next great frontier of life instead of grabbing a bag of sour cream and cheddar potato chips and enjoying a day of Netflix. Then there are days when stepping outside of my comfort zone is the only thing I want to do. Some steps are easy. Others are difficult. We must take them nonetheless.

What actions do you take when you’re ready to step outside of your comfort zone? What outcomes did you receive if you took the steps outlined above? I’d love to hear your stories about each step you’ve been able to take. 

Do You Talk Like Way Too Much?

Open communication is important. Too much communication, however, can make people feel uncomfortable. In the instances where I find myself talking more and listening less, I’ve noticed that people tend to squirm as I’m talking. They start looking at their watches. The point is clear: it’s time for me to shut my mouth.

It can be hard to tell if you’re talking too much. If you pay attention to the other people in the conversation, there are some hints that can let you know that your words aren’t being heard any more.

#1. The other person has stopped responding to you.

People talk more in non-verbal communication than they do in real words. Someone might be saying “Yeah” or “Great point” when you come to a conclusion, but that doesn’t mean they are listening. If their arms are crossed defensively, they’re looking away from you, or their facial expression is blank, then they’ve stopped listening. That means you’re talking too much.

#2. Fiddling with objects is actually a sign of listening.

When adults fiddle with objects, they’re actually trying to stay actively involved in a conversation. You might still be talking too much if someone picks up a toy to mess with while you’re speaking, but at least you know that they’re still engaged with what you’re saying at the moment.

#3. You’ve lost track of the conversation.

I hate this when it happens. You’re in the middle of a key point and then BOOM you forget what you were going to say. At this point, there’s a good chance that you’ve already been talking too long. This is the time when you’ll need to bring the other people back into the conversation so you can get back on topic. Let’s face it – if your mind stopped listening to you, then there’s a good chance other people have as well.

#4. You feel awesome because you’re talking.

Did you know that when you talk about yourself, the brain releases dopamine? That’s why you feel awesome when you’re discussing you. This is why people who talk a lot will talk even more. It’s like verbal meth. You’ve got to make a conscious decision to stop talking and begin listening if you hit this “talker’s high” because otherwise you’re going to end up annoying people.

#5. Consider timing yourself if you’re not sure about how much you talk.

Remember playing “Red Light, Green Light” as a child? I like to use a similar system to judge how long I’ve been talking. In a real conversation, most people can handle 15-20 seconds of a monologue. This is called the “green light.” At 20 seconds, your light turns yellow. At 40 seconds, your light turns red and you need to stop.

So how do you bring people into a conversation if 20 seconds is all that you’ve got? I’ve found that having questions prepared for that topic of conversation can really help. Ask someone their opinion about the matter. Give them the chance to talk for awhile. Then you can come back for another 20 seconds. Then repeat.

It’s not always easy to listen more and talk less. When you can do it, then you’ll find much more engagement with the conversations of which you’re a part. And sure – sometimes you might run a red light. It happens. When it does, re-engage people by asking more questions and choose to actively listen instead.

I’ve found this to be an effective way to identify when I’m talking too much and how to fix the issue. What are some of your ideas? I’d love to get some of your input on this subject matter. 

5 Ways To Stop Workplace Bullying Right Now

Kids that are bullies generally grow up to be adults who are bullies. This is why many people feel like going to work is comparable to their 4 years of high school. The problem with workplace bullying, however, is that it tends to be subtle and passive aggressive, so it can be overlooked, ignored, or dismissed by many, allowing the bully to leave a destructive path behind them.

There are ways you can stand up for yourself so you can stop the workplace bullying without being a bully in return. Which of these options could help you take control of your office environment?

#1. Take a step back.

Sometimes workplace bullying is excused because we feel like we’re being overly sensitive to a situation or someone triggers a defensive mechanism within us unintentionally. Misinterpretation of a comment or an action may not be bullying, but having someone single you out and intentionally try to harm you in some way is almost always bullying. Confirm first that you are seeing the situation accurately.

#2. Don’t be an easy target.

Bullies pick on easy targets because there isn’t much of a chance they will fight back. If you huddle in your office and allow the bully to tear you down, it’s just going to keep happening. Be polite, but also be firm, and tell the workplace bully that their actions are professionally unacceptable. Tell them they are being inappropriate. Stay calm, stay out of an argument, and set clear boundaries. Do that a few times in a row and most workplace bullies are going to leave you alone.

#3. Document everything.

If you don’t write something down, then it doesn’t really exist. If you have a workplace bully bothering you, then document the interactions you have with this person. Mention everything said and done, along with whatever your response happened to be. Note the date and time these things happen. If the workplace bully goes to your boss and tries to say that you’re conducting yourself inappropriately, this documentation becomes a way to protect your paycheck.

#4. Talk with an HR, union, or management representative.

Sometimes you might be seen as the easiest mark in the office for a workplace bully even when you do stand up for yourself. If you have your documentation in order, talk with a representative that will have your best interests at heart. Getting additional representatives involved won’t necessarily stop the bullying behavior right away, but it will give you some additional legal options if the situation should escalate for some reason because you’ve reported the situation.

#5. Change your environment.

Bullying that doesn’t stop will add a lot of stress to your life. If you’ve tried everything to stop a workplace bully and the situation continues on even when you’ve involved other representatives, then it is time to leave. Some might say that means you’re letting the bully win, but it’s more important to take care of your needs. Because you’re leaving due to bullying behavior, your documentation may also help you take legal action to protect your financial best interests.

Everyone deserves to work in an environment that is safe. If you are dealing with a workplace bully, then take these actions so it will eventually stop, one way or another. That way you can limit the stress you experience when it’s time to go to work.

Why You Can Expect Success When You Dress For It

Have you ever noticed that people treat you differently when you “dress up” for the day? You also treat yourself differently when you dress in your best. Your productivity goes up, your confidence goes up, and your self-esteem increases. That doesn’t mean you can close a deal if you’re wearing casual clothes, but it does mean that you may have a tougher journey ahead of you if you prefer hoodies and sweats to suits and ties.

If you don’t like the idea of dressing up every day for work like you’re going to a church with your grandparents, there are some small tweaks you can make to your wardrobe that can still give your these benefits. Would one of these ideas work for you?

#1. Make a small change to your accessories. Something as simple as wearing a nice watch or a favorite piece of jewelry can make all the difference in the world. Maybe you can’t afford a Rolex or 24K earrings that are studded with diamonds, but you can put on your best and rock it. If that means you’re wearing a sterling silver chain from Kohl’s, then so be it.

#2. Add one formal element to your outfit. Maybe you don’t want to wear a tie. You could choose to wear just the jacket and still get some of these benefits. You can even customize your look a little bit if you wish. If there isn’t a policy against wearing a lapel pin to work, throw on that Hydra pin you got from your Lootcrate awhile ago and see what happens.

#3. Take it up a notch for your big moments. If you’re closing a multi-million dollar deal, then dress in your very best for that day only. When you take your wardrobe up a notch for your biggest moments, you’re mentally preparing yourself for success. According to a study published by the Journal of Experimental Psychology, people who dressed in their best could earn 3x more profit on the deals they were making and required 3x fewer concessions to make it happen. If you think you can dominate, then you will.

#4. A change of color can create a change of attitude. Ever notice how looking at a beautiful green lawn can relax you? Or how looking at reds and oranges can make you feel energetic? Sometimes the easiest way to plan for success at work is think about what the color of your wardrobe says to others. There’s a reason why politicians like to wear a white shirt with a red tie. It says they are confident and can do anything. You can do the same thing.

#5. Success really comes from you. Guys like Mark Zuckerberg prove that sometimes it isn’t what you wear, but what you expect that counts. If you’re in a creative enterprise, sometimes dressing in sweats and a t-shirt is the best way to dress for success.

Even the quality of what you wear can help boost your chances of finding the success you want. Think cashmere and fine wool. Have your clothing tailored if you can. In doing so, you’ll have the confidence to close any deal – and your grandparents will think you look awesome too.

5 Step Plan To Eliminate Clutter At Work

When you’re at work, does it seem like your desk is always cluttered? Do you have assignments just dumped on you daily and it seems like you never get to see all of your desk? Clutter can easily happen at work, especially when someone is extremely busy. Even in the busiest times, however, there is always a way to work on eliminating the clutter so that you can be your very best at any given moment!

This 5 step plan can help you effectively eliminate clutter quickly:

Step 1: Carve Out a Routine

Even if today is your very first day at work, it is important to develop a routine that will help you manage your day. People are routine-based, even if that routine is an “anti-routine,” which means you will be more effective at what you do when it is familiar to you. Think about it: if you don’t get to do what you usually do in the morning, it kind of throws off your entire day for a while, doesn’t it?

The same is true with work responsibilities. The better the routine you have, the less clutter you’ll end up having too.

Step 2: Use Your Calendars

Taking the time to input all of the information into an online calendar or writing it down on a paper calendar seems like a waste. It can take an hour or two if you’re really busy! Yet this time investment will pay off in long-term benefits because you’ll know how each day is structured, have dedicated time for specific projects to get done, and this will effectively eliminate the clutter that builds up when people fall behind on work.

Step 3: Create a To-Do List Every Day

One of the best reasons to utilize an online calendar is that many of them can produce a to-do list each day for you. Part of the reason that clutter begins to build is because people feel overwhelmed. This feeling occurs because people feel like they aren’t getting enough done with their day. This creates the feeling that someone is having a “bad day” and the typical reaction to a bad day is to procrastinate on work.

If clutter has a twin, it would be procrastination. Check off items on your to-do list every day, feel the success this brings, and you’ll reduce clutter immediately.

Step 4: Stay On Top of Your E-mail

If you pulled up your inbox right now, how many new messages would be in there? The average person keeps over 20 new messages that are unread in their inbox every day! Many also use their e-mail as a filing system, which means there is probably over 200 e-mails sitting unorganized in your account if you’re like the average person. Set aside some time each day to just organize your e-mail. When there’s less electronic clutter, there’s often less clutter overall.

Step 5: Claim Your Own Space

Don’t allow other workers or even your boss to dictate how your workspace needs to be. You know how you work most effectively. When people can claim ownership of their space, there’s automatically less clutter.

By following these steps, you’ll be more organized, more effective, and ultimately more productive at work. That might not make you any extra money, but it may just make the money you do earn a bit easier to get!

4 Tips For Brainstorming

One of the best ways to encourage creativity and generate new ideas from employees is to hold a brainstorming meeting.  In the process of brainstorming you should suspend any concerns about staying organized. The goal is to pour your thoughts onto paper without worrying about whether they make sense or how they fit together. Brainstorming is an essential part of good thinking, and it is also an essential part of coming to good decisions.

Brainstorming is a great way to come up with a lot of ideas that you would not be able to generate by just sitting down with a pen and paper. The intention of brainstorming is to leverage the collective thinking of the group, by engaging with each other, listening, and building on other ideas. Below are 4 tips for brainstorming.

1. Try to come up with several ideas at once. The nature of brainstorming is that new ideas expand upon other ideas that have already thought up. This combination helps the brain process complex strategies and structures, allowing you to develop an idea that is interesting, in-depth, and very valuable. Don’t be afraid of a bad idea, but don’t settle for just one good idea either. Always keep going!

2. Set aside dedicated time every day for idea development. One of the most difficult tasks that someone can place on themselves is to force an idea out in a certain amount of time. Instead of setting deadlines for yourself, set aside a portion of each day so that you can brainstorm ideas either by yourself or with people you trust.

3. Capture everything about an idea. Having an overarching idea is a good thing, but it won’t mean anything if you don’t put in the specific content that helps to develop that idea. These fine details are easy to forget, so don’t rely on your memory – use white boards, Post-It notes, napkins, the back of your hand – anything you can find to make sure a good concept doesn’t just float away.

4. Look for diversity to help brainstorm new ideas. There are four basic communication types which people have: dominators, informationalists, controllers, and supporters. Each type of person will approach an idea from a different perspective and offer unique implementation ideas on an overarching thought. If you can pull all four types of people into a brainstorming session, you’ll certainly come up with lots of good, implementable ideas!

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