Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dead Center

2005 is officially half over.
Or if you prefer, half of 2005 officially remains.
How's the year shaping up for you?
What would make it the best one yet?
And what do you need to do to enable that to happen?

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Six Habits of Highly Defective People

Six Habits of Highly Defective People, excerpted from Success: One Day at a Time, by John C. Maxwell. (Thanks, Doug.)

  1. They have a losing attitude. People generally get whatever the expect out of life. Expect the worst, and that's what you'll get.
  2. They quit growing. People are what they are, and they are where they are because of what has gone into their minds.
  3. They have no game plan for life. As William Feather, author of The Business of Life, says, "there are two kinds of failures: Those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought."
  4. They are unwilling to change. Some people would rather cling to what they hate rather than embrace what might be better because the are afraid of getting something worse.
  5. They fail in relationships with others. People who cannot get along with others will never get ahead in life.
  6. They are not willing to pay the price for success. The road to success is uphill all the way. Anyone who wants to accomplish much must sacrifice much.

Now I don't know if all this is true, or not, but it does beg the bigger question, "What habits of yours are no longer serving you as perhaps they once did?" If you're like most, you'll have a few of them worth reconsidering.

I invite you to do so.

Monday, June 20, 2005

What does showing up mean to YOU?

When our self-esteem takes a hit, it’s not always easy to restore it back to its former level. And even if we do, it often only then becomes apparent that it wasn’t all that strong to begin with. So my advice to you is to go deep inside and decide whether you want to take more responsibility for how you let others affect you. I like what Woody Allen said about this: “80% of success is showing up.”

So what does showing up mean to you?

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Managing Results or Decisions

I had a very interesting discussion with an executive coaching client this morning about what to do about several managers not meeting their key performance metrics. Objectively, there were some pretty significant organizational/infrastructure constraints in play that affected their ability to get the job done. But one manager in particular did a particularly poor job in dealing with these constraints. It was my view that to merely evaluate that person on results would miss a true developmental opportunity to discuss the quality of the decisions that manager made along the way.

Better decision-making does not always guarantee better results. And there are times when the right decision still yields the wrong outcome. But by and large, I believe it's a stronger Leadership Move to focus more on staff's decision-making than just on their results.

Results end with the quarter. But the ability to make better decisions lasts a lifetime.

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Job Seekers: Out-shine the Competition

As reported in the Chicago Tribune, here a six great ways to stand out from your peers and/or other job applicants, and my comments in green:

1. Communicate your value to the organization - Emphasize the connection between your achievements and the organization's bottom line or goals and objectives. Accomplishments are great, but in and of themselves, they're somewhat irrelevant if you can't show their relevance to the opportunity at hand. Help your audience connect the dots.

2. Create a portfolio documenting your successes - Use this 'brag book' to help build your self-confidence before important meetings or interviews. Include in it anything and everything you're particularly proud of. I like to call this your "Good for ME!" file and anything that makes you smile, warms your heart, or helps you remember how smart and capable you really are is great stuff to include.

3. Find a mentor - And not just one, but several so that you don't find yourself over-relying (or over-burdening) any one person. I suggest my clients create a portfolio of mentors - one for each area of their interests/needs. That way they can target mentors far more precisely. To get started, take out a clean piece of paper and draw a circle. Divide it into eight wedges. Label each wedge with an area of interest/need of yours that would benefit from a little coaching or mentoring. Now for each wedge, identify two-to-three people who would be a good resource for you in this regard. Note: They all don't have to be people you already know. Authors, as example, are great resources for additional insights related to their books, or magazine articles. You now have a portfolio of 16-24 people you can contact for some expert advice.

4. Find a sponsor - There's nothing like a high-ranking, much-respected advocate for your cause. Who are your high-ranking, much-respected advocates? Before leaving to become a coach, my boss recommended me for a promotion to corporate officer (which I received). But before he would, he wanted to know who on the Board would stand up for me? It was a serious question and speaks directly to the power of a having a sponsor.

5. Surround yourself with a super team - When they win, you win, especially if you paint victories as the success of both you AND your team. Your ability as an individual contributor may have enabled your past success, but your future success will depend far more on your ability to lead others in doing their work than ever before.

6. Find one or more external advisors - Look outside for objective advice to keep you grounded and focused. It's too good to pass up ... repeat after me: "I GottaGettaCoach!"

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Monday, June 06, 2005

Cultivating Trust - One Breath at a Time

According to an article in this month's Nature magazine (as reported by the Chicago Tribune) people who inhaled a brain compound called oxytocin became more trusting.

Imagine the implications - think used car salesmen, politicians, courtroom lawyers, for instance. Even your boss! What would it be like if anyone - as in ANYONE - could immediately improve your trust in them, without your knowledge or say so, just by spraying something in the air around you?

"When you see your friend walking down the hall towards you, oxytocin is probably released that signals to you that it is OK to approach this person," said Paul Zak, a co-author of the research report. [Our] study shows that sniffing oxytocin instantly produced the sort of trust that would normally build through a history of reliable dealings, he said.

In response to things getting carried away, Zak said, "Sprinkling this [oxytocin] in the air is not going to do anything - it has to be sprayed into your nostrils." But other experts, including Zak's co-author, Ernst Fehr, aren't so sure. "Our results have implications for the idea of free will," he said.

We've known, intuitively or otherwise, that our brains don't function on logic alone. Researchers, believing that humans are hard-wired to seek out trust and strive to be trustworthy, have even developed a new specialty in recent years - neuroeconomics, to study the effect that such biological effects have on economic decisions. Of course advertisers have long tried to manipulate our emotional brains. It's suspected that all those wonderfully heart-warming images and soundtracks actually cause a reflexive release of oxytocin inside our brains.

The implications are plentiful - good and bad. And all the more reason to get conscious and clear about who you are and what you really what so that you're the one who gets to decide about that, instead of someone else!

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