The Power of Story

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The Power of Story

What are the stories that you tell yourself?  We constantly have stories running in the back of our minds, explaining what we do and why we do it. In The Power of Story, Jim Loehr helps us understand the role those stories have in our happiness and success.

Loehr shows how managing energy, not time, is the key to achieving goals. Managing physical energy has to come first, laying the foundation for intellectual, emotional, and spiritual energy. The book takes you step-by-step through the process of identifying old, potentially flawed, stories and rewriting them to the new stories, grounded in individual purpose, that lead toward your goals.

Six strategies to achieve goals

Have you ever built a sandcastle at the beach or in a playground? Did it turn out exactly as you wanted it to? Bringing your sandcastle vision to life is lIke achievement of any goal, it’s not always as easy as it may appear to an outside onlooker.

Successfully achieve goals

The type of sandcastle you see here is not a casual undertaking. Success depends on the same strategies needed to achieve goals in other areas of life and work: vision, planning, resources, collaboration, adaptability, and tenacity.

Vision:

Do you have a clear vision of the outcome you are trying to realize? What will it look, feel, smell, taste, and sound like to have achieved your goal?  The clearer your vision, the more you will be drawn toward it and the greater the likelihood of achieving it. Consider the old proverb: “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  Are you trying to get just anywhere, or do you have a specific destination in mind? What kind of sandcastle do you want to create? Is your team envisioning the same sandcastle that you are?

Planning:

What are the steps you need to take, now that you are clear on your goals? What is your overall timeline, and are  there interim milestones that need to be met? How will you sequence the steps? What role will each team member play? What other support might you need?

Resources:

Do you have the resources you need to be successful? Supplies, funding, training?  Do you have the right people on your team, with the right skills and attitudes? Are all of your resources organized in a way that supports you and your goals?

Collaboration:

Are team members working in their areas of strength? While we all have weaknesses, those are minimized when workng together as a team, at the same time that each individual’s strengths can be maximized. Have you ever seen the teamwork exhibited by children building a sandcastle while the tide is coming in? It’s remarkable to see what they can accomplish. Also consider who else can help you as you work toward your goals.  Collaborating outside your immediate team makes everyone stronger.

Adaptability:

No matter how clear your vision is or how well you’ve planned, there will likely still be times when you need to adapt.  The unexpected happens, circumstances change.  Be mentally prepared to adapt and foster this mindset with your team. Ask yourself, “What could go wrong?” during your planning stages.

Tenacity:

Challenges are expected on the way to achieving any goal. Don’t give up!  Take advantage of your team for support when times are difficult. Even though you may experience a setback or two while building your sandcastle, persistence will help you to ultimately achieve your goals.

What strategies have helped you to successfully achieve goals?

Looking for ways to say “Yes!”

How often do you say “no” automatically, when the answer could just as easily be “yes”?  How might things change for you and those you work with if you were consistently looking for ways to say “yes”?

Recently I spent time with a family whose overarching philosophy is to say “yes” Say yeswhenever possible. To be sure, this sometimes results in muddy clothes or unorthodox uses of household items.  But really, why shouldn’t a water bottle be converted into an ant-farm or bee-house? And because of this parental mindset, the very young children in this family are curious, creative, courageous, and glowing with confidence.

How can you build these traits in the people you are developing at work? One thing you can do is to consistently and persistently look for ways to say “yes.”  Maybe it’s a suggestion for a new way to handle a long-standing procedure, or a change in the office layout, or introducing new items on the lunch menu. Whatever it is, try thinking first about how it might work, rather than how it can’t work. “No” shuts down communication and blocks creativity. An employee, or anyone for that matter, who expects to hear “no” as an answer will soon stop asking.

That being said, of course there are times when you do have to say “no.” It’s important to think ahead of time about what is non-negotiable for you and your organization and then make those things clear to others up-front. Getting a “no” response when you’ve crossed a line that you were previously aware of is a much different thing than experiencing a limiting environment where “no” is the pervasive mindset.

Think about your week so far.  How many times have you said “no” when you might have said “yes”?  How might you approach things differently going forward?

Overcoming setbacks – 6 tips

posted in: All, Goals, Motivation | 0

Face it – we all have setbacks from time to time.  There are times when things just don’t go our way, despite all of the effort we may invest.  It’s inevitable.  Maybe you don’t get the promotion you expected, or get overlooked for a highly-coveted project assignment.  Maybe you’ve experienced something in your personal life: health issues, an injury, family strife, divorce, or the loss of someone close tOvercoming setbackso you.  How do you overcome these setbacks?

Life’s demands on us don’t slow down just because we’re facing a personal crisis.  The report still needs to be written, the presentation delivered, the product launched.

Here are six tips to keep you performing at a high level, even when circumstances are challenging:

 

  • Stay positive:  Life is full of ups and downs.  While you may not see a “silver lining” in your current situation, focus on those things you are grateful for, that you’ve learned, or that will help you in the future.  Even the smallest things can make a difference in your attitude.
  • Maintain your physical energy:  This is the only way to maintain the emotional and mental energy you need to keep moving forward.  Take care of yourself by making healthy food choices, drinking plenty of water, getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night (it is possible), and staying active.
  • Communicate:  You don’t need to share all of the details, but do let others know when you are dealing with something that might put you slightly off your game for a time.  If you don’t communicate something, you will leave it up to others to speculate about your actions, opening the door for wildly inaccurate assumptions.
  • Focus on the goal:  What is your bigger purpose in life? Keep yourself moving in the right direction by focusing on your overarching goals.  We tend to achieve what we focus on, but the path forward is rarely a straight line.
  • Use it as inspiration:  While you can’t change the past, you can make choices that will make a difference in the future.  This powerful story shows how one very courageous woman did just that, and is saving lives because of her actions: Lifesaving donated defibrillator.
  • Forgive yourself:  We do the best that we can.  Even so, we make mistakes, we fail at times.  It happens to everyone.  Learn from those mistakes and failures, know that you’re doing your best, and move forward.

What are some of the things that have helped you to overcome setbacks in your life or career?

Change management made easy

posted in: All, Bookshelf, Change, Goals, Motivation | 0

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Change management made easyThis book by Chip and Dan Heath is filled with sensible gems and practical advice for making changes that stick.  When I pulled it off my shelf just now I found dozens of passages marked in one way or another for easy revisiting.  The methods for change suggested by the Heaths are easy to apply - and in fact, you may find (as I did) that many of their successful strategies are already going on around you.  If that's the case, the book will help you understand why they work, and prepare you to use those strategies more purposefully in the future.

Using the metaphor of a rider and elephant, the Heaths share three main concepts for effecting change:

- directing the rider;

- motivating the elephant;

- shaping the path.

Check it out and see how you can improve the processes for change - for yourself and those around you.

 

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Expertise anyone?

Outliers: The Story of Success –

Building expertise

How do we build expertise in something? Why do some people become experts in their field and others never do?

Another favorite of mine from Malcolm Gladwell, here he looks at people who've become experts in a variety of fields - ice hockey, music, computer programming, and more. Gladwell found commonalities in those achieving high levels of success, regardless of field. A certain amount of innate talent is necessary, yes. But having that, the real key to success lies in practice - intentional, focused practice for an enormous amount of time. 10,000 hours is a number that comes up again and again in studies.

Think about out something you're really good at. How do you take your skills to the next level? 

 

 

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Why it’s good to stumble now and then

I stumbled while running the other day.  Fell, actually.  Pretty much flat-out.  I’m happy to report that I did get up, and, after taking a quick inventory of scrapes and what would soon be bruises, kept on going.  Just like we do in life, right?  Later, I analyzed what had happened.  Why did I fall?  Because I had my eyes on something I Achieve goals runningwas trying to reach up ahead and neglected to also pay attention to the (uneven) ground right in front of me.

This is very much like working to achieve goals in work, school, and life.  While we need to keep our eyes on the end-goal, the ultimate prize, we also need to attend to those things right in front of us.  If we don’t, we might find ourselves stumbling so often that we never reach the goal.  On the flip side, there is a risk in focusing too much on the minutia where it’s easy to get side-tracked or otherwise entangled in obstacles.

If we stumble now and then, is that such a bad thing?  What if we never challenge ourselves enough to risk failing? If we stumble on our way to the goal, might it mean that we are growing and stretching our capabilities?  Too much caution could bog us down, keeping us from moving forward at all.  So balance is important, moving forward, but with purpose and focus on many levels.

And what if attention to detail just isn’t your strength?  Or goal-setting is a challenge?  These may be good opportunities for collaboration, perhaps developing a team of people that have many and varied strengths to offer.  A team of this sort also offers support of another kind, as members hold each other up while all are learning and building new skills.

What strategies have you used in the past to balance between the end goal and the specific steps to get there?  What new ideas do you think you could try tomorrow?

 

What motivates us?

posted in: All, Bookshelf, Engagement, Motivation | 0

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

DriveGet ready to unlearn what you know about “traditional” methods of motivating people – at work, school, or home.  This book by Daniel Pink is another favorite from my bookshelf and a fascinating read about what motivates us, along with the things that demotivate.   You may find some of the demotivators surprising – I know I did! For example, rewards and punishments. That’s how we teach behaviors, from childhood to adulthood, and it works, right? Take a closer look and you’ll discover that maybe it doesn’t work as well as you thought.

What Pink helps us understand is the value of intrinsic motivation and how we can encourage it in ourselves and others. Something I found particularly interesting is the impact autonomy has on motivation. We don’t always have a choice in what needs to be done, but humans have an inner drive for autonomy. So the more control we have over a task, the greater our motivation to do it well. I may have a non-negotiable report that needs to be completed each month by the 15th, but if I can choose things like when and how I will prepare the report, I’ll experience a higher level of satisfaction and motivation, and likely produce a better product.

Pink incorporates recent research in engagement, positive psychology, and Deci and Ryan's Self-Determination Theory to show how our human need for autonomy, mastery, and purpose provide us with an internal drive to succeed.

 

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