Word-Of-the-Week #737: Listen

September 20, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Listen – to give your full attention while someone is speaking. 

How good of a listener are you? Do you have a tendency to want to talk before the other person has fully expressed their thoughts? How does it make you feel when you have the full attention of others?

This week features the 1st part of “Break the Habit Loop” by Ilya Pozin with “Lifestyle Habits That Will Make You Successful.”

“Like peer pressure, habits can make you do stupid things or spur you on to achievement. Cultivating these habits will help you become your best self.   

An entire industry has sprung up around the pursuit of success, full of self-help books, motivational conferences, and decorative Etsy items with uplifting messages. But self-improvement doesn’t require shelling out tons of cash for a patented and trademarked formula for success. Your best self is just a few slight adjustments away.

I, for one, know I could add quality and productivity to my day just by eating breakfast. There’s no big cost. There’s no formula. It’s just a bowl of cereal to kickstart my mind and body each day. Too often I rush out in the morning, living on repeat, never correcting my bad habits.

Breaking (and Making) the Habit Loop

Every repetitive action that we take in our daily lives, good or bad, is a habit we’ve built up over time. According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, this is due to a three-step pattern he calls the “habit loop.” The decision-making part of the brain goes into a kind of sleep mode when the habit loop kicks in, which is why we continue even problematic behaviors.

While this is great for those healthy, success-building habits, it doesn’t bode well for changing negative behaviors. The good news is that there’s a way to break the habit loop.

What it takes is changing the environment that normally cues up the habit loop. “If you want to quit smoking,” says Duhigg, “you should stop smoking while you’re on a vacation — because all your old cues and all your old rewards aren’t there anymore. So you have this ability to form a new pattern and hopefully be able to carry it over into your life.”

But what are those habits that are most in need of an adjustment? Try working on these, and you’ll be on your way to a more successful life:

  1. Don’t talk so much.

Some of the key pillars of success — learning, building relationships, establishing connections — have one thing in common: You’ll never accomplish them if you’re the only one talking. Training yourself to actually listen during a meeting will make you more effective than mentally drafting your next pronouncement.

Tom Peters, successful business author and writer of The Excellence Dividend, actually writes the word “LISTEN” on his hand as a regular reminder to pass the mic during meetings. Listening is especially important in a business setting, where salespeople tend to prepare their next pitch instead of listening to a customer. Retrain your brain to focus on what others are telling you.

  1. Read as much as you can.

It may seem clichéd, but there’s a reason why being well-read is considered a compliment. A study by University of Edinburgh and King’s College London researchers found that there is a correlation between earlier reading capability in kids and higher cognitive function. Leisure readers even report less stress and happier lives, according to a survey by the University of Liverpool.

Even more impressive, a study published in Neurology showed that seniors who had engaged in regular mental activity like reading throughout their lives were less likely to develop the brain plaques that cause dementia and Alzheimer’s, meaning that the simple act of reading may have helped keep their memories sharp in old age.

This week’s focus is to listen and read more. How would it feel to listen more and speak less? Do you find it easy or difficult to focus on what others are telling you? And what better incentive to read more – so you stay mentally sharp in old age?

And speaking of reading, Joe who contributed last week’s WOW has published two books on the life of Al McGuire, “One of the greatest and most colorful coaches in the history of college basketball.”  Check out his website www.jdmpress.net.

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Word-Of-the-Week #736: Ownership

September 13, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Ownership –holding yourself accountable for your actions and how you do your job. 

Are you always accountable for your actions? How easy is it for you to admit when you’ve made a mistake?

This week long time friend and subscriber Joe (who is not a CEO) shares his thoughts from last week’s WOW on being accountable at work.

“I have been fortunate in my workplace experience that my co-workers could depend on what I said and what I did. Also, when I said something, I meant it. 

However, when I knew that I could not have something completed when it was needed by a co-worker or supervisor, I was forthright in telling them that I could not complete the task when they wanted it. In those cases, I usually asked when their drop-dead deadline was, when they absolutely, positively had to have it done. I then took care of whatever it was in a timely fashion. The key was to be upfront about what could be completed and when. 

One thing my wife and I are is decisive. When we are presented with a situation we look at the pros and cons and make a decision. Not a rush to judgment, mind you, but a clearheaded yes or no when time was tight. Indecision leads to wasted time and money in the workplace. Don’t go back and forth on how something should or should not look or have to start from scratch. That way you won’t get anything done. And as you know, Susan, that is too many businesses today. 

The best way to manage relationships in the office is to let the talented people do their thing and stay out of their way. They were hired to do a job, so let them do it. There are too many micro managers in offices today who simply want the credit for what their talented people do. When they do a good job, compliment them and tell the world that it was they who deserve the credit for a job well done. The manager will also get credit simply for hiring those good people. 

While I have been able to adapt in the workplace I am not necessarily a fast learner. I am not quick on the uptick. After making a few mistakes I usually catch on, but I am not fast. I don’t have those fast-twitch cells in my muscles. 

When I have made mistakes in the past, I was the first to admit them. What I have found in those situations is that we earn our co-workers and supervisors respect when we stand up and say, “It was my bad.” That also lets people in the office know they should do the same thing.  

If there is anything I have learned in the workplace is that you can’t be afraid to make a mistake. Not only will you not learn to do your job, you will approach every new task with trepidation. If you are afraid to make a mistake, you will never learn.” 

This week’s focus is on taking ownership. Do you take full responsibility for your actions? Are you doing the best job you possibly can? If you were the CEO would you act any differently?

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Word-Of-the-Week #735: Reliability

September 6, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Reliability –being dependable, responsible, and trustworthy. 

Do you always do what you say you will? Can your co-workers, friends, & family count on you?

This week features “5 Characteristics of Good CEOs” by UT San Diego columnist Neil Senturia.

“So you want to be a CEO. All you need to be is charismatic, armed with an Ivy League degree and larger than life. Wrong. It turns out that definition is in the very small minority and is at best an urban legend. No riding in on a white horse, smartest guy in the room with all the answers. 

Elena Botelho, Wharton MBA, leads the CEO genome research project at ghSmart, and her most recent findings (after a 10-year study) suggest that the road to the top is actually more available to just us regular folks – if we practice four distinct characteristics: Make decisions quickly, be relentlessly reliable, manage human relationships well and adapt swiftly to changing circumstances. 

  1. Make decisions quickly.

Botelho quotes Jeff Bezos from Amazon who writes in a shareholder letter that decision making is “quality times velocity.” He cites Day Two companies who make good decisions, but make them too slowly. My personal caution to this is from my favorite economist Daniel Kahneman, whose book, “Thinking Fast and Slow,” carefully delineates which decisions can be made rapidly and which need more time. Going really fast over a cliff is not going to get you there. 

  1. Reliability.

Interesting characteristic, we all think we are reliable, but the research points to an additional feature of the CEO. Botelho writes, “they have a desperate hunger to be counted on.” In sports, it is the mantra of the fielder who wants the ball hit to him. It is self-perpetuating. I want to be counted on so that I can continue to exhibit reliability so I can be counted on even more. 

  1. Manage relationships.

This argues for keen self-awareness. One of my mantras is that all CEOs should have at least two years of psychotherapy. The example from Botelho is a symphony orchestra conductor. This person understands the intention of the music, has a vision, and an interpretation, and knows the instruments and the musicians. Thus, they can create the music. The conductor is not there to be loved, but he needs to be respected so that others will follow. That’s why he has the baton. 

  1. Fast learner. Adaptability.

My favorite example is from my sailboat racing. Tack on the wind shifts. It is important to look up the course, see the wind and anticipate the shift. Innovation is nice, but rapid adaptability proves to be more important. 

And I am adding a fifth characteristic. 

  1. Own your mistakes.

The best leaders mine their mistakes. It is often said by the venture capitalists that they want to invest with a founder who has recently had a failure – if they were introspective enough to acknowledge the mistakes and learn from them. So there you have it. No Stanford degree required.

Do you have a desire to become the CEO? How about being promoted? These 5 characteristics can surely help make that happen.

This week’s focus is on reliability. How would you rate yourself on being responsible and dependable? Would your co-workers, friends, and family agree, as well as saying you are trustworthy?

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Word-Of-the-Week #734: Well-being

August 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Well-being – a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous. 

How often do you feel a sense of contentment? How much time do you devote to yourself? How often do you get a good night’s sleep?

This week features the 2nd half of Ways to reduce anxiety, improve well-being,”  by Melanie Curtin, Inc.

To Recap         1. Meditate                 2. Go forest bathing                3. Chew gum

  1. Journal

According to psychologist L. Kevin Chapman, PhD, “When we experience stress and the negative emotions associated with it, we typically stay in our own heads and do little to address our thinking.” 

Instead of hanging out with toxic thoughts, he suggests reducing anxiety with “objective recording.” Here’s how you do it: Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper. Mark the left column, “Negative things I’m saying to myself.” Mark the right, “Alternatives.” Fill out both. 

“When we simply acknowledge what we’re saying to ourselves out of stress, we often realize how silly we are being,” says Chapman. 

Multiple studies back up the idea that writing out your thoughts and feelings helps you process emotions in a healthy way, significantly reducing anxiety. One study showed that people who journaled about upsetting events for just 20 minutes a day for three days healed from physical wounds over 75 percent faster than the control group. 

Another showed that college students who engaged in expressive writing experienced less depression, anxiety, and stress after two months than control students. 

  1. Get enough sleep

If you take nothing else away from this, hear this: If you’re prone to anxiety, it’s critical that you get enough sleep. 

According to neuroscientists out of UC Berkeley, when you don’t get enough sleep, your brain’s amygdala and insular cortex both light up in a pattern similar to the abnormal neural activity of people with anxiety disorders. 

Senior study author Matthew Walker says, “These findings help us realize that those people who are anxious by nature are the same people who will suffer the greatest harm from sleep deprivation.” 

In other words, if you’re anxious, you’re far more likely to develop a full-on anxiety disorder if you don’t get enough sleep regularly. It’s vital that your brain gets the rest you need. 

  1. Laugh

Laughter is an easy, cheap, and surprisingly effective way of reducing anxiety and boosting mood. The Mayo Clinic says laughing stimulates your heart and lungs, bringing in lots of oxygen-rich air. It also ups your endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter, and improves your immune functioning. 

Multiple studies show that while laughter initially triggers your stress response (causing your heart rate and blood pressure to spike), when it subsides it calms your nervous system down to a point where you feel not just relaxed, but relaxed and happy. 

My favorite way to get in a quick laugh is to watch news bloopers.  

  1. Check your email less

Researchers out of University of British Columbia took 124 study participants and had one group limit how often they checked their email (to three times a day only). The other group could check as often as they wanted. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, researchers found that people were less stressed when they checked their email less frequently. 

The key here is to limit how often you’re doing it. It’s not about neglecting your duties, but about not jumping every time you see an email notification pop up on your phone. 

Consider taking all that time you’re saving by not checking your email to meditate, journal, take a forest bath, and/or watch a funny video.

This week’s focus is on well-being. How often do you journal your feelings? When was the last time you had a really good belly laugh? How easy is it to turn off your devices? This last one just keeps showing up in article after article. That should be reason enough to give it a rest. Try it… you just might like it!

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FUN-photos: Sturgis Bike Rally Road Trip

August 25, 2018 by · 3 Comments 

78th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally…

…& the hills are alive…

…with the sound of motorcycles!

…& Harley’s were clearly the “Rulers of the Roads.”

  • We started in Denver seeing our grandson Brayden & his fiance Haley, then on to Boulder to see our niece Cindy, Dave, Sam & April with a stop in Estes Park, CO before arriving in the Black Hills of South Dakota for 6 days.
  • We drove all the Top 10 Scenic Hwys with Needles being the most spectacular & scenic – 14 miles of impressive tall granite peaks & spires, sharp turns & low tunnels.

Highlights included Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Badlands National Park, Hot Springs Mammoth Site, Historic Deadwood where Wild Bill Hickok & Calamity Jane are buried, & Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.

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