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Why Taking Your Time With a Decision Is So Important

 

When there’s a decision to be made, the natural response is to make it quickly. We want things to be as perfect as possible. We want to correct problems right away. The only problem is that a fast decision often ends up being the wrong decision.

At least it has been that way for me.

Of course there are times when a fast decision must be made. You don’t want to stand in front of a car speeding at you in the crosswalk. You’ll either go one way or the other quickly to get out of the way, right? You won’t just stand there and debate which way of escape has better long-term merits as you get thrown into the windshield of the vehicle.

In the business world, we must focus more on the long-term merits a decision may provide. Instead, and I count myself included in this, we take the emergency approach to decision-making because we settle for the short term benefits.

The Difference Between Confidence and Skill

The reason why we settle for the fast answer so often is because of our confidence. We’ve had success before and we know that we can have success again. The only problem is that these causes you and I to believe that we already know everything.

Fate has a funny way of proving that perspective wrong.

As we gain experience in what we do professionally, we gain confidence. We assume that this means we’re also gaining skills, but this isn’t necessarily the case. We also become afraid of three little words: I don’t know.

Strangely enough, the group of people who tend to make the best and most consistent decisions over time are those who are willing to admit that they don’t know something. That admission forces them into what I call “research mode” so strategic thinking can happen.

In other words, confidence helps with survival. Strategic thinking skills help create better long-term decisions.

Take Your Time and Don’t Be So Sure About an Outcome

When mistakes happen, it’s not because there was a lack of skill or experience. It’s because there was too much overconfidence. Sometimes it is better to slow down, assume that you’re not sure about the circumstances of a decision that needs to be made, and approach the situation as if it was the first time you’d ever encountered it.

What separates the good from the best is the ability to apply that mindset on a consistent basis. I know it’s far too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you know what is best. Maybe you do. But what happens if you do not? What risks will you face needlessly because a fast decision was made instead of a good one?

I’ve learned to slow down. To not treat every situation as if it were a life-threatening scenario. Even when my gut instinct is to go in one direction, I slow things down to openly and honestly examine the other solutions that might be in play. Sometimes I go with my gut. Sometimes I’ve discovered better solutions by going against my gut instincts.

In doing so, the short-term and long-term needs I have can be met.

How do you approach the decision-making process? I’d love to hear about how you slow down the process to ensure you’re taking the best possible solution out of every scenario. 

5 Reasons To Consider Recovery Instead of Endurance

Busy. We’re all pretty busy these days.

Sometimes it feels like the work never ends. You’ve got to earn a paycheck. Then you’ve got to get the dishes and laundry done at home. By the time you crawl into bed, you’re feeling almost sub-human. The alarm goes off sooner than it should in the morning and each tomorrow becomes a repeat of each day before.

I know it’s so easy to think these repetitive days need to be endured, like running a first marathon. Except the secret to success is really in how you can recover instead of how long you can stay on your feet.

Here are some reasons why it might be wise to consider slowing down to concentrate on recovery.

#1. You are multitasking more than you realize. Each time you switch tasks, you’re consuming energy that your body needs. Something as simple as checking your phone while “taking a break” is you not taking a break. I recommend using resources that can let you track how many times you log into your phone during the day [or check Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram] to see just how busy you are during your down times.

 

#2. Staying active doesn’t give your mind a break. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do. It gives your mind a vacation from the responsibilities you’ve got going on during the day. I’ve found that after a period of “nothingness,” I start to getting the itch to do something. That’s my cue to know that it’s time to get started on something new.

 

#3. We are all connected to each other. Humans may be social creatures, but there is also value in spending some time on your own. Being around other people also means bearing their burdens. How many times have you listened to a co-worker vent about their home life? Or had an employee complain about their boss to you? Or read some random venting status update on social media? I’ve found that even unplugging for just 90 minutes can provide the right amount of relief.

 

#4. Work and home are blended like never before. How many times do you check your work email at home? Or take work calls when you’re spending time with your family? Personal and professional lives are blended like never before, which to the mind means you’re always on the clock. I have countered this issue by creating work-free zones within my home. If I’m there, then work is not, and that has helped to prevent high levels of mental exhaustion.

 

#5. Learn to let things go. In this political season, it’s pretty easy to adopt an us vs. them philosophy. The same could be said in other areas of life, like religion, socioeconomic status, online forums, and in our discussions we have with one another every day. I’ve found it is better to let things go, even if I disagree. If I’m getting riled up because I’m frustrated with someone else, then I’m not getting the chance to recover that I need.

 

Every day may be a marathon in some way, but that doesn’t mean we need to go 100% all the time to finish that race. Sometimes being able to take a break to recover can give us the right amount of rest that we need.

 

How do you recover after a tough day? I’d love to hear how you give yourself a chance to recover.

Confidence: How To Fake It Until You Make It

 

I’m not confident 100% of the time.

It’s tough to admit sometimes, but it is true. There are times when I’m not sure that I’m making the right decision. I’m often my own worst critic, second- and third-guessing myself to the point where I feel like the best decision might be to not make a decision.

Or there are those times when I’m given a job I’m not sure I know how to do, but I don’t want to give up the opportunity because I’m unsure of when the next one might come around.

The simple fact is that every person on this planet feels this way at some point in their lives. When this feeling occurs, a crossroads decision must occur. The choice is simple: fake the confidence until you’re actually confident… or give up and start over from Square One.

Let’s choose the “fake it until you make it” method. It works for me and I’m confident [see what I did there?] that it will work for you.

#1. Look at the opportunity. Being nervous is natural and this tends to be the source of uncertainty. Any time I do something new, I feel nervous. Instead of butterflies in the stomach, I’m pretty sure there are stingrays swimming around in there. Yet the more I look at the opportunity I’ve been given, the more I realize that this is a challenge I can embrace instead of a worry that requires anxiety medication.

 

#2. Take it one step at a time. I used to think that I had to make a huge positive first impression in order to be remembered. Now I’ve come to realize that getting the job done, step by step, is more important than becoming “famous” because I knocked one out of the park on Day One. Or as one of my favorite movies would say, “… Baby step onto the elevator…. Baby step to four o’clock.”

 

#3. Learn by osmosis. Sometimes I’ve found you need to go out and find a mentor that knows what needs to get done. There’s no need to form a relationship with that person either. If I just watch the person doing the job that I need to do, then I can absorb that information and repeat it when it’s my time to show-off. Ask questions if there’s something confusing. Just make sure there is more than one person being observed – it’s no good to cheat off of the person who isn’t doing the job right.

 

#4. Be bold. Nearly 90% of our communication to one another comes from non-verbal sources. This means if you can be confident in your body language, any uncertain words will still drip with soothing confidence. Sit up straight. Try to avoid crossing the arms. Keep your head held high. When I act like I’m self-assured, I become less guarded, feel more optimistic, and that often creates the results I was unsure I’d be able to create.

 

#5. Watch out for the red flags. I know sometimes we’re all asked to step so far outside the box, it feels like a passport should be required to complete the journey. Being creative should not create circumstances for failure. If I get nervous about trying to fake my confidence, then that’s a red flag telling me I should do something else. There’s no need to make the situation worse by creating a negative spiral of emotions that really will take me out of the job I’m trying to do.

 

Confidence can come naturally, but sometimes it needs a little courage to become part of the daily routine. These methods have helped create the foundation for future confidence… how have you built up your confidence in circumstances that were uncertain? I’d love to have you share your story with me.

Stay Focused On High Value Work

 

Remember those days before 2007 when you could find a new job if you wanted one? Yeah. Those days are over. I’ve seen people not receive a raise since 2008. People are stuck in jobs, doing the work of 2-3 people, but can’t afford to quit because they’re living paycheck to paycheck. Forget asking about how people do with multitasking – interviewers should be asking how well people work when they’re feeling overwhelmed!

To be as productive as possible, I’ve found it is necessary to stay focused on your high value work at all times. This way you can stay as productive as possible. Although there are times when you’ll have to do the low value work [because all work needs to be done], there are times when you can actively separate the two.

The Best Time? When You Start a New Job

When you first get into a new position, you’re seeing things with fresh eyes. This lets you be able to separate the low value work away from the high value work. Take a moment to look at everything, then propose goals to your new boss to see how many useless things can be removed.

I have a friend who started a position as a clinical manager a few years ago. On the first day of his new job, his boss was explaining how they input clinical notes. There were four levels of bureaucracy required just for one person to enter one note. So he asked a question: “Why can’t the people who create the note just write it themselves on their own?”

And that one question saved $100,000 in labor costs. That’s the power of limiting low value work.

Make Changes When You Get More Responsibility

When you receive a promotion, it’s the perfect time to look at the structure of that management position. Think about every task which is being asked to be completed in a critical way. Should you be the one in charge of doing these things? Can they be delegated? Is there a third option available to you?

I would also include the times of reorganization in with this category. You know – the “changes” which occur that have the executive team saying things like, “It’s time to get lean and mean.” This transitory time shifts responsibilities from worker to worker, which means you’ve got the chance to propose cutting low value work.

Great Success Means Great Rewards

Sometimes the best way to get rid of the low value work is to knock an idea out of the park with your high value work. When you have great success come your way, then you have the perfect opportunity to ask for something. Instead of an extra sick day or a boost in pay [both important, by the way], maybe consider asking for some of the low value busy work to be removed from your plate. Making life easier at work doesn’t add dollars to your paycheck, but it does reduce stress from your life.

There are a number of ways you can make sure you’re spending more time on your high value work. You can automate your low value tasks as much as possible. Delegation may be possible. You can be like me and just create your own rules to avoid doing that low value work. If it has to be done, then block of a specific segment of time on your calendar each week to do nothing but low value work – and only do it during that period of time.

Staying focused on high value work will make you more productive from an overall standpoint. It’s your job, so design a plan of action to make it work for you. How do you stay focused on high value tasks? I’d love to hear some of your ideas that help to keep you productive 

Ways You Can Start To Read One Book Per Week

Reading is something that I have always loved to do. One of my favorite things to do with my parents growing up was to visit the bookstore. I’d save up a few bucks, head over to my favorite authors, and pick out something new. Then I’d get into trouble staying up late with a flashlight so I could finish that book as soon as possible.

I’ve lost the habit of getting lost in a good book as I’ve grown older. Some of it has to do with the amount of time I spend online. When I’m writing, I try to avoid reading just so I don’t inadvertently copy the work of someone else.

Yet there is a lot of value which can come from reading books. Fictional books take us to new worlds to challenge us. Non-fiction books ask us to set aside our preconceived notions to teach us something new. Every book we read encourages us to read another book. And another. And then another. I’ve found that it is often more important to understand the book than it is to sit down for a few hours to read it cover-to-cover.

Here’s how I’ve started coming back to reading books, at least one per week, and maybe this process can help you as well.

#1. I spend time with the promotional materials. I treat the back cover and the flaps of a book, if it has one anyway, as if it were a 30 second movie promo. I like to picture the plot, see what the character looks like in my mind’s eye, or have a chance to evaluate the learning opportunities being offered to me. If I’m interested, then I keep going. If not, then I put the book down.

#2. For non-fiction books, I cheat and look at the final conclusion. The whole point of a non-fiction book is to provide a fact-based argument. It must have a conclusion to be a valid read. If the conclusion isn’t there, then I put the book down. I do that if the conclusion is a yawner as well. If I’m intrigued, then I work backwards through the material to see how that conclusion was reached.

#3. I skim past repetitive dialogue. Honestly. How many times can a character “smirk” in a book? Using a thesaurus is a lost art today. So is the inclusion of meaningful dialogue that moves a plot forward or helps you as a reader to put yourself into the shoes of a favorite character. If the dialogue is repetitive or the descriptions pointless, I just skip them. Sometimes you can skip entire pages and not lose your place.

#4. Focus on the Table of Contents. I love books that have a thorough Table of Contents. This is another test that lets me know if the book I’m thinking about reading is going to be worth my time. I’ll linger over particularly interesting phrases or even skim through a specific chapter to check out what the author has to say. If I stay intrigued, then I finish the book. If not, it sits on the bookshelf unread.

#5. I engage with the text. I’ve started to take notes as I read, both fictional and non-fiction books, because this helps me to “experience” the text in a different way. I’m doing more than absorbing information or using my imagination when I’m writing down key points. This allows me to retain more of what I read so that it becomes useful data I can recall if needed.

Reading books like this is definitely a change from what I used to do in my youth. I’ve also found that I tend to remember details more clearly with this process and that helps me get through books more quickly.

Do you love books as much as I do? If you read on a regular basis, I’d love to hear about your reading process and how it has helped you.

How To Deal With a Boss That Is Narcissistic

If we haven’t had to work for one, we’ve seen others who have. It’s the boss who thinks their team is working for them instead of the company. I’ve seen such high levels of narcissism where a boss has specifically told people that they didn’t care what the company policies say or what the mission statement is. The order was simple: “I’m the boss and you’ll do as I say.”

It can be very difficult to deal with a narcissistic boss. Difficult, but not impossible. Here’s how I’ve worked on coping with this situation in the past and the insights I’ve gleaned from those experiences.

#1. Take care of yourself first. I’ve found that the first thing which tends to disappear when I’m around a boss that is narcissistic is my self-esteem. Without confidence, the narcissism you see every day will wear you down and eventually conquer you. Find an outlet outside of work that can help you deal with these difficult emotions. I’ve found this can really add to my resilience so I don’t end up losing myself in the stresses of the day.

#2. Cater to the ego. Until you find a new place to work, you’ll have to deal with the narcissism on a daily basis. Sometimes I’ve found the best way to handle that is to feed the ego. You don’t necessarily need to be come a “Yes” person, but a little flattery will take you a long way. Narcissists are good at smelling out a pretender, so look for something that you authentically admire and offer that as a compliment.

#3. Take the best out of what you see. I’ve discovered that everyone has moments of perfection which hover around them – even narcissistic bosses. Observe them. See the good things that they do. Find the best and then do your best to emulate it. Communication and vision tend to be two strengths of these bosses in particular, and those attributes are something worth developing within yourself.

#4. Be careful about challenges. Criticism is something a narcissistic boss will never accept. I’ve seen this time and time again. Even a simple challenge, like offering a sandwich for lunch when the boss wants pasta, can be enough to give you a 3 week headache. Remember this: your boss cares about what is good for them. They couldn’t care less about what affects the company unless it’s something that will boost their power, money, or influence.

#5. Avoid the gossip. I’ve seen narcissistic bosses stay at the office for 12 hours every day just to make sure there isn’t anything bad being said about them. Narcissism encourages paranoia, so even if you have the appearance of gossiping about the boss, this perception will become a reality and make your professional life difficult.

Ultimately you’ll need to determine if working for this boss is the right decision for you. Sometimes you can put up with the narcissism, but sometimes it can send you home angry every day and affect every other aspect of life. If you don’t love what you do, then trust me – make a healthy choice and consider leaving. There might be uncertainty at first, but eventually you can find a job… and a boss that you love.

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