Thursday, April 26, 2007

Upended Pareto

You're probably already familiar with the Pareto principle, or 80/20 Rule, as it's also called, which suggests that 80% of your results come from from 20% of your efforts, or words to that effect. Well here's a variation on the theme, one that I call, the Upended Pareto:

"Eighty percent of whatever's wrong with a situation doesn't really matter."

Your job is to identify the 20% that does matter ... and work exclusively on that.

So pick a situation you're dealing with and ask yourself, "What is the 20% that does matter?"
Start there and see if you're not better off for doing so.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

"How to Succeed Like a Workaholic"

Well this is something fun: I did an interview with a while back for a piece on what we can learn from "workaholics" and to my surprise and delight, it's instead been published on at - on Page One ... and above the fold, no less! [4/23/7: at least it was through Sunday!]

Here's an excerpt:

If you want to have the success of a workaholic and still have your down time, Zweibel offers five strategies you can employ.

1. Put in the hours at the right time. "There is a benefit to being seen in an organization," says Zweibel. If you are working late or are in on the weekend, pass by your boss's office for some face time. Not only will you get kudos for the extra effort, but you might get the opportunity for valuable one-on-one time.

2. Pay attention to time stamps. If you are sending an assignment to your boss via e-mail after hours, the e-mail will indicate the extra time you are spending. Pay attention to when you are sending these messages -- they could demonstrate your commitment. However, Zweibel cautions against going too far. Sending messages at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night or at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning could indicate that you are not able to manage your time well, and there is something to be said for being able to get the job done early. "You could make a better impression if you can do the same work in a shorter amount of time," Zweibel says.

3. Talk up your successes. Don't be afraid to be your own cheering section. Make sure your boss knows about your achievements and the extra time you put in. More importantly, have other people talk up your successes. There's nothing like a good word from another respected co-worker or client to make you look great.

4. Be the "go to" person in a crunch. You don't have to work every weekend, but make sure your boss knows that you are someone who is willing to go the extra mile when needed.

5. Strive for perfection, but know when to settle. One thing most workaholics have in common is the pursuit of perfection. This drive to be perfect brings about results, but can also wear you out. On the continuum between lousy work and perfect work, there is what Zweibel calls "merely excellent," which, he says, is "pretty damn good." He suggests you strive for greatness, but allow yourself to settle for "merely excellent" work most of the time and reserve absolute perfection for those really special projects.

Full text: AOL: Succeed Like a Workaholic; GGCI archive.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

You May Be Happier Than You Think

According to a study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and as reported in the Chicago Tribune today, money really can't buy happiness - when it comes to work.

The top occupations in job satisfaction?
  1. clergy
  2. physical therapists
  3. firefighters
  4. education administrators
  5. painters/sculptors

The bottom occupations in job satisfaction?

  1. roofers
  2. waiters/servers
  3. laborers (not construction)
  4. bartenders
  5. hand packers/packagers

But the bigger part of the story, I think, is this: 47% of all workers surveyed said they were "very satisfied" with their work and 33% of all workers reported being "very happy."

What that means is this: If the person next to you isn't "very satisfied," or the two people on either side of you aren't "very happy," chances are that you are!

And isn't that a nice thing to realize?!


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Congratulations, Chicago!

Congratulations, Chicago, for being selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee as their city-of-choice to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games!

Stir the Soul, indeed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, RIP

Those of you who are, or once were, clients of mine already know from your Orientation Materials (the part where I answer the question: "What three people/groups have had the most positive impact on you?") that I've long had a deep and abiding respect for Kurt Vonnegut and his particular style of writing. I credit him greatly, in fact, for helping me develop my quick wit and counter-intuitive thinking. With his passing today, he is particularly missed.

Oh, and the other two people/groups that have had the most positive impact on me?

  • Grandpa Ben, who taught me to act like a duck - to be calm as can be above the water and to paddle-like-hell underneath (!!) - and who also taught me how to enjoy the company of others and be fun to hang around with.
  • The Beatles, who I acknowledge individually and collectively for my love of all things musical, my being able to appreciate a good 'hook' and my ability to leverage the English language as I do, yeah, yeah, yeah!

May they all - excluding Paul and Ringo, the remaining survivors - Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Choosing to Choose

Typically, people get stuck because they can't figure out what they really want:
  • What do I want to be when I grow up?
  • What do I want my next job to be like?
  • What do I want to do about this issue at work?
  • What do I want to do on my next vacation?

Sometimes, though, this issue is not so much about what to choose as it is about choosing to choose:

  • Should I accept this new job offer?
  • Should I push back on my boss?
  • Should I go back to school?
  • Should I exercise today?
  • Should I pitch it all and just chase my dream?

With this, you probably know exactly what choice you want to make, but something's holding you back. And that something is almost always fear:

  • Fear of it being too difficult (or you thinking that maybe you're not good enough)
  • Fear of it being too different (or you feeling that it will take you too far outside of your comfort zone)
  • Fear of it being too dicey (or you believing that you can't recoup if things don't go right)

When fear keeps us from making foolish choices , fear is good. But when fear keeps us from owning our own lives, well, that's an entirely different matter.

Only you can choose what's right for you. But it's your responsibility to choose, even if your choice is to defer the decision for a period of time, or to gather more information so that you can choose more wisely. After all, choosing not to choose is a choice, too, you know.

But not choosing, simply because you're too afraid to choose, is not what you want to do - it's not who you want to be. So step into the fear, step through it, and step out the other side, so you can choose, whatever you choose to choose.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

You Waskly Wabbit

On behalf of Easter Bunnies everywhere, please do continue to believe in yourself - even when things don't go exactly as planned.

("I know that this defies the law of gravity, doc, but you see, I never studied law." - Bugs Bunny)


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Good to the Bone

from Positive Thinking magazine:

"To succeed in life you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone." - Reba McEntire

Indeed. - bz