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Personal Growth

Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills – Which is More Important?

D o you remember that one special teacher from back in your school days? Mine was a math teacher who somehow was able to make math class a real joy. It certainly was not because algebra or the Pythagorean theorem were so much fun, it was because something magic happened whenever she was teaching. Her flair, passion and outside-the-box presentation skills made math class just fly by. She is a great example of someone well developed in both hard and soft skills.

I also remember the opposite: teachers who were really competent in the subject they taught, but who lacked the empathy, leadership and ability to motivate. That made classes boring at best, and frustrating and demotivating at worst. While the hard skills were certainly present, the lack of soft skills blocked them from making a real connection with their students. They just ‘taught’ us a subject, instead of inspiring us to learn.

What’s the difference between hard and soft skills? Are soft skills more important than hard skills, or is it the other way around?

This brings us to a very valid question: what’s the difference between hard and soft skills? Are soft skills more important than hard skills, or is it the other way around? And, if soft skills are so important, is there hope if you lack somewhat in that department?

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are measurable, functional or technical skills. Examples include calculating, reading, writing, typing, accounting, working with technical devices and computer programming, to name a few. Specific professional knowledge such as knowledge of human anatomy or Chinese economy would also qualify. Hard skills are skills that you can verify through individual exams, tests or assignments. Results can be compared to a set of predefined, hard criteria.

 

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are “soft” due to their being hard to measure objectively. Often, we call them personal skills. When we say soft skills, think about skills such as leadership qualities, working together with your teammates, listening to others or inspiring an audience. Soft skills are not all about others, they can also be applied to the self.

Think about self-care, the ability to focus or showing resilience in the face of setbacks. The hard thing about soft skills is that one cannot measure them on the basis of criteria-based tests. The absence or presence of a soft skill will only show itself in response to a series of different and varying situations.

Which is more important?

Both types of skills are important. Certain professions require very specific and well-developed hard skills. Without them you would fail instantly. But even then, soft skills will assist you to develop and use your hard skills successfully.

Imagine what happens if you are a brilliant neurosurgeon (hard skills) but you have a short temper (soft skills). Or as a fireman you can swim very fast (hard skills), but you cannot cooperate with your teammates (soft skills). Or you are a certified TTISI trainer or coach (hard skills) but you have difficulty listening to others (soft skills). It’s not so hard to predict you may struggle to save the lives you intend to save, or to help your clients to develop themselves.

Soft skills enable the neurosurgeon to keep severing blood vessels precisely even when that operating room nurse keeps annoying him.

Soft skills enable the neurosurgeon to keep severing blood vessels precisely even when that operating room nurse keeps annoying him.

Soft skills allow the fireman to work together with his teammates to get a victim out of the vehicle in the water. They also enable a certified trainer to respond to the individual needs of his/her clients. Soft skills are the key to success!

 

Why soft skills now?

Only a few decades ago, a customer was mainly dependent on what was on supply. These days, a customer has so many options that the customer journey has become a key concept in the boardroom. Whoever delivers the most flexible, attractive, trustworthy and innovative product and/or support wins over the customer.

Today, you can buy advice, counsel, coaching, mediation, search, or support in all areas of work and life, delivered by entrepreneurial professionals. Since service is a less tangible product, soft skills are vital to make a difference in a market full of well-informed and assertive buyers. How to handle stress, or how to address the modern customer, may spell the difference between success and failure.

 

Both skills are necessary to succeed

There is absolutely still need for hard skills in a changing marketplace. It’s still crucial that a bus driver owns a license, a judge knows the law and a pilot can fly a plane. And it’s certainly helpful if a math teacher can continue to tell us what the Pythagorean theorem actually means.

In the age of the customer, soft skills become more important than ever. Soft skills will make your hard skills more valuable. They are like oil that makes an engine run smoothly.

Soft skills will make your hard skills more valuable. They are like oil that makes an engine run smoothly.

Like Dr. Watson next to Sherlock Holmes. If they grow together symbiotically, they both become a unique buying point for your customers.

 

Conclusion

The good news is that, just like hard skills, soft skills can definitely be developed. However, they do require a different learning approach. It all starts with getting to know yourself, such as how you tend to do things, what drives you, and how you respond to feedback. With a fair amount of introspection, some patience and a will to improve, you can develop soft skills which can help bring out the best in all of those hard skills you’ve learned over the years.

Article written by Rieke Geerlings, Customer Care Professional at TTI Success Insights Benelux.

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How Your Commute Can Impact Your Entire Day

R oad rage hardly needs an introduction. We know what it looks and feels like, and if you’ve never experienced it, you may be part of a rare 20% of our population. As for the rest of us, we report experiencing significant anger, aggression, or road rage at least once a year. If you happen to live in Arizona as I do, that number may be significantly higher.

Egregious acts of lawlessness on the roads can be extremely frustrating, especially when the other person’s disregard causes a near accident. In a split second, you may go from calmly cruising along to wanting to pull someone out of their car and teach them a thing or two about the importance of roadway courtesy. How we deal with road rage really comes down to our level of emotional intelligence (EQ), specifically the self-regulation component of EQ.

How we deal with road rage really comes down to our level of emotional intelligence (EQ), specifically the self-regulation component of EQ.

Origin of road rage

I’d like to consider myself a calm and patient person, yet when I get behind the steering wheel in my giant box of metal, I become confident and fearless. That increases when I feel that I’m on the defensive. One study shows that personal factors such as age, gender, beliefs, or your mood can determine the level of anger and road rage you experience.

Additionally, we often “personalize” incidents that happen on the road. Close calls may simply be due to the fact that other drivers aren’t paying attention, yet we often react as if they did something to us intentionally. Judgment and decision-making go out the window and we turn from Jekyll to Hyde in the blink of an eye. This is when it’s most important to tap into our EQ and realize that, regardless of why they are driving poorly, it has nothing to do with us. We shouldn’t take any ownership of the situation. Instead, just let it go.

5 tips for improving your commute (and by extension, your day)

What can we do on the road to ensure we have a better day at work? Try incorporating at least one of these things into your commute each week. After five weeks, revisit how you feel after your morning commute. Chances are, it will have improved and what previously seemed like a chore may have evolved into something you actually enjoy.

  1. Leave earlier! Rushing around is more likely to intensify your irritation with other drivers. Leaving 10-15 minutes earlier than you normally would will help you feel calm, cool and collected.
  2. Drive mindfully. When you drive, just drive. Distracted driving is still an increasing issue. Despite technology advances, 49% of drivers are still holding cell phones in their hands.
  3. Get more sleep. When our children are cranky and fussy, we put them down for a nap. It’s amazing how pleasant they are to be around after some extra rest! That goes for us too – while a nap at work may not be feasible, taking responsibility for your sleep at night could make a big difference on your morning commute.
  4. Don’t respond. We tend to feed off of road rage behaviors. By participating in the rage, we continue to pass this along to other drivers which then carries on with us throughout the day. Instead, try to resist. If another person cuts you off or tailgates, just slow down or change lanes and move away from them.
  5. Breathe. Take a few deep breaths in and out, perhaps even letting out a very intense sigh. If somebody cuts you off, instead of honking or yelling, take a deep breath and say aloud, “I hope they arrive to their destination safely” and then just keep on keepin’ on.

Recovering from road rage

So, how does this relate to the rest of our day at the office? As we cross paths with hundreds of drivers on our morning commute, it’s almost impossible to leave the emotion of negative road experiences behind as we lock our cars and walk toward the office. The intensity lingers as we check our inboxes and begin firing off emails and messages to coworkers. The negativity carries over into other aspects of our day turning minute issues into problems that feel much worse than they really are. Why does this darn coffee machine take so long to brew a cup of coffee?!

The commute is often overlooked as an opportunity to ensure your day runs smoothly and positively.

The commute is often overlooked as an opportunity to ensure your day runs smoothly and positively.

If you drive a vehicle, you play a small part in the complicated dynamic of traffic patterns and commuting. Are you someone who contributes to making the commute a pleasant relaxing experience or might you be the cause of other people’s frustrations? Your small part could have a big impact on the overall commute if we all work together on improving our personal driving experience.

 

The road to a better commute

When a person encounters a highly stressful situation, it can take 3-4 hours to recover from that stressful event.

When a person encounters a highly stressful situation, it can take 3-4 hours to recover from that stressful event.

During that time, everything is affected, including interactions with coworkers and the quality of work performed. Learning to raise your self-regulation will help limit the instances of falling victim to these situations, leading to more peace and harmony in your life.

When you feel good, you perform better. Momentum builds and you accomplish so much more. Whether or not we realize it, so much of that starts with our morning commute. Put the phone down and pick a lane. When someone around you drives discourteously or flat-out breaks the law, let karma be that person’s judge and jury while you relax and enjoy the ride.

Article written by Sarah Merkle, Vice President of People at TTI Success Insights.

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Driven to Distraction: The Reason Why Some People Just Can’t Relax

P eople can become stressed out for a myriad of different reasons. Identifying the “why” behind that stress is half the battle towards reducing it.

When it comes to understanding a person’s behaviors, especially the drivers behind those behaviors, the 12 Driving Forces® assessment is extremely valuable. Created by TTI Success Insights based on the initial works of Eduard Spranger, 12 Driving Forces measures the impetus for why a person does the things they do.

One of the 12 Driving Forces is ‘Resourceful.” Resourceful speaks to people who are driven by practical results, maximizing both efficiency and returns for their investment of time, talent, energy, and resources. This reminds me of a real-life story where a friend of mine was having an internal struggle, due in part to his elevated Resourceful driver.

How drivers shape behaviors

Today is a gorgeous day outside! As we gazed out the window sipping coffee, my friend mentioned that he has difficulty making time for golf, even on a gorgeous day like today. When he does make the time, he can only think about the work he “should” be doing while on the course. Despite wanting to relax, be outside, enjoy friends and relieve a little stress, he just can’t seem to relax. It’s a classic case of possessing a strong Resourceful driver.

A person who has a strong Resourceful driver puts a premium on resources. What resource on Earth can be more valuable than time? This particular person is an achiever and wants to accomplish as much as he possibly can. He is driven to maximize his resources. That drive dictates to him that he needs time to accomplish his goals. Taking time away to golf cheats him of some of his precious time.

While he may have reasons for feeling this way, all work and no play is a recipe for burnout. If he would simply look at golf as an investment in himself and his well being, he may have an entirely new view of his next 18 holes. If he thinks about golf as the resource it is to clear his mind, and that playing golf might give him the energy and mental clarity to be even more effective in his work, he may no longer feel guilty for taking an afternoon away from the job.

The final turn

Drivers explain the why behind we do what we do. When someone has an extremely dominant driver, the tendency exists for that driver to become overextended, causing stress. The key is managing the driver or positioning that driver in a more useful way.

In the same spirit that people invest money in health food, massages or other things that promote healthy living, investing a little time in relaxation will change this person’s mindset for the better, and may even improve his golf game!

Article written by Joe Liss, Founder of New Orleans-based The Wisdom Institute.

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10 Things Successful People Do Every Day

H ave you ever wondered if there is a secret formula for being successful? Why is it that some people seem to have a Midas touch while others struggle to get by? American historian, best-selling author and keynote speaker Kevin Kruse recently interviewed more than 200 highly successful people, a group that included seven billionaires, 13 Olympians, and accomplished entrepreneurs from many walks of life. One simple question provided a tremendous amount of insight. The question was: “What is your number one secret to productivity?”

One simple question provided a tremendous amount of insight. The question was: “What is your number one secret to productivity?”

Avoid meetings like the plague

Notorious time killers, meetings can derail positive progress in a hurry. Billionaire Mark Cuban advises, “Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check.” If you find meetings are absolutely necessary, keep them short and to the point. Stay focused.

Process everything just once

How many times have you gotten a memo or an email and you read it, set it down and put it in your to-do-later file. The next day, you glance at it again but still take no action. Finally, on the third day, you finally respond to it. Time spent looking at it the first two days was wasted time, since you didn’t take action until the third day. Make it a point to finish what you start so you can maximize the use of your time.

 

Carry a notebook

Many people consider Richard Branson to be the standard by which entrepreneurs are judged. His secret to success is having a notepad handy at all times. Regardless of how technology savvy he and his company may be, Branson is most comfortable writing down ideas on paper when they appear in his mind. Doing so gives him a starting point from which to build a more robust concept later. Writing things down allows the idea to have a place to live, freeing his mind to focus on other things.

 

Live in minutes, not hours

The absolute most valuable commodity in the universe is time. Successful people try to use every minute wisely.

The absolute most valuable commodity in the universe is time. Successful people try to use every minute wisely.

To that end, why schedule a meeting for an hour if you may really only need 37 minutes to accomplish what you set out to achieve? Using every minute to its fullest helps a person simply get more done, and do so more efficiently.

Schedule activities through calendar only

How many people spend time creating to-do lists that somehow never get fully realized? Studies show that only 41% of items on to-do lists ever get done. This lack of resolution leads to something known as the Zeigarnik Effect, a fancy term indicating these unresolved tasks will cloud one’s mind until they are resolved. Instead of creating these self-imposed mental distractions, schedule everything through your calendar and leave the to-do lists for the amateurs.

 

Limit distractions

Remember how excited we all were when email was first created, and we could instantly communicate with others with just a few keystrokes? How do we all feel about emails today? What used to be a welcome new addition has become, for many, a pesky gnat that won’t go away.

Like any other task, emails need to be managed. Limiting time spent reviewing emails will help you focus more and be distracted less, allowing you to accomplish so much more. Be sure you are managing emails and not letting emails manage you!

 

Create a consistent routine

Having a solid foundation for starting one’s day off right leads many successful people into hugely productive days.

Having a solid foundation for starting one’s day off right leads many successful people into hugely productive days.

Habits can vary from person to person. The key is to find what works for you that makes you feel good, provides energy and propels you to attack the day with vigor and purpose. For some, these habits include a morning run or yoga. Others prefer eating a healthy breakfast or a period of mediation. Find what works for you and do it consistently.

 

Master the art of delegation

Successful people don’t need to have their hands in everything. They simply want projects to get done. Those who understand delegation realize it’s about the task, not the person, and completing the task is far more important than having an active role in the process. The more that can be outsourced, the clearer the mind to focus on the things that really matter.

 

Prioritize the important things in life

The most successful people on Earth find time for the things that matter. Going back to Richard Branson, he often breaks midday from work to go kitesurfing. This activity provides an opportunity for him to clear his mind as he focuses on staying upward in the water, while serving the added bonus of being a great form of exercise. Nothing like clearing one’s head while doing the body good!

Work hard, but be prepared to walk away when the work is done. Make time for those who are important in your life. Have family dinners. Be present for the kids’ recitals. Take the family vacation and extend it an extra three days, just because. When you prioritize what matters, it creates a balance that makes everything else become that much easier and more enjoyable.

Article written by Dave Clark, Staff Writer and Editor at TTI Success Insights.

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4 Ways to Unlock Creativity

J ohnny Dwinell, veteran Nashville artist/producer/businessman, recently shared insight into increasing one’s creativity. Inspired by John Cleese of Monty Python fame, Dwinell recounts Cleese’s wisdom on how to get into a creative zone, do it quicker and remain there longer.

According to Cleese, creativity is not an innate ability that you either have or you don’t. Creativity is not, in and of itself, a talent. Creativity is not related to IQ. Creativity is a way of operating.

Creativity is not an innate ability that you either have or you don’t. Creativity is not, in and of itself, a talent. Creativity is not related to IQ. Creativity is a way of operating.

Becoming creative is all about being able to get into a particular state of mind, a playful state. Psychologist Donald Wallace McKinnon studied creativity and described it as an ability to play describing the playful mood as ‘childlike’ among most of the creative people he studied. Getting into this playful mode allows people to think without restrictions or judgment. The more free a person’s mind is during creativity, the more creative the person can be.

In his talk, Cleese mentions another study that breaks down the functions of people into two modes: OPEN and CLOSED.

Closed is the mode in which we spend most of our time. Closed is where we are purposeful with our actions: we are getting things done; we are practical, pragmatic, and businesslike. This mode is very is very results-driven and comes with a certain amount of anxiety, expectation, and pressure. Creativity does not happen in the closed mode.

Open is a state of creativity. You are open to anything.

These aren’t judgments — both are necessary. In fact, you need to be in the closed mode to execute that which is created in the open mode.

Four requirements to unlock creativity

1. Space: Like a garden, creativity needs space to grow. The mind doesn’t naturally switch on and off, it needs space before the necessary mindset can be achieved. Finding a place that is free from daily tasks and stresses, a creative “oasis” of sorts, can help the mind get to a creative state quicker.

Think of it like an old car on a cold winter’s day. If you start the car and immediately drive it without letting it warm up, it won’t perform well. Giving it a few minutes to heat up will allow the car to perform optimally. Your creative state is the equivalent to an aged car engine on a winter’s day. Let it warm up and watch it roll!

 

2. Time: Give yourself ample time in which to be creative. When you start down a creative path,  you need time to separate yourself from the rigors and stresses of daily life. Creativity won’t come immediately, but the longer you allow yourself to be in this stress-free state, the higher the chances for creativity.

Creativity won’t come immediately, but the longer you allow yourself to be in this stress-free state, the higher the chances for creativity.

A good rule of thumb is that if you wish to yield 60 minutes of creativity, give yourself 90 minutes of total time so you have time to transition from a closed to an open mind where creativity flourishes.

When it comes to creativity, the goal is to try to resolve a situation; to find a solution to something. These situations can be anything from writing a song, creating a story or painting a picture. Creative endeavors often do not have a definitive start and ending point. Wanting to reconcile the “problem at hand,” the brain may produce something rather quickly. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the first thing you come up with will be all that great. Give yourself enough time to think beyond those initial thoughts that come to mind, and you’ll likely get to something better.

 

3. Confidence: In the realm of creativity, there is no “wrong” or “bad.” There is no room for judgment. During brainstorming of ideas, it’s all about creating as many ideas as possible, then focusing on the strongest of those ideas.

Those creating in solitude need to reserve judgment about their own ideas and keep moving forward. Those creating with others need to employ a “yes, and” approach, rather than “no, but” response. Any form of negative feedback can easily derail, if not outright sabotage, a brainstorming session. There is no “bad” creativity; keep it positive.

 

4. Humor: Injecting humor into your world is the fastest way to go from a closed to an open state. Humor relieves stress and puts people in a playful mood. Watching a funny movie or TV show or listening to your favorite comedian can transport a mind from “stern and serious” to “loose and playful” in minutes.

When we understand the concept of creativity being a way of operating, we can better work toward channeling our inner creativity and be creative more often.

Final thoughts

When we understand the concept of creativity as a way of operating, we can better work toward channeling our inner creativity and be creative more often. The best part about creativity is that it is irrespective of intellect; absolutely anyone can be creative if they know how to put themselves into the proper state.

All you have to do is make the time, enjoy the ride and have some fun along the way.

Article written by Dave Clark, Staff Writer and Editor at TTI Success Insights.

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How Emotional Intelligence Can Help You Succeed in Work and in Life

E Q, or Emotional Quotient, was once known and understood by only the most savvy business executives who understood its importance in the marketplace. Those in the know knew that having a high EQ was often as important, or maybe more so, than possessing a high IQ. There was a time when EQ had a modest, at best, following. Not anymore.

There was a time when EQ had a modest, at best, following. Not anymore.

Much in the way that a band may enjoy nothing more than a cult-following before being thrust into mainstream stardom with a hit record, there was a time when EQ was generally unknown and often misunderstood. The select few who did understand the importance of EQ were small in numbers and their beliefs and management tactics may have been considered against the grain by mainstream’s thinkers of the time. Not anymore.

 

EQ goes mainstream

Today, EQ has gone mainstream. Less and less hiring managers are focusing on skill sets, extensive experience or IQ, instead focusing on candidates who possess a high EQ and appear to be a solid culture fit.

Savvy leaders understand the true value provided by a person possessing high emotional intelligence.

Savvy leaders understand the true value provided by a person possessing high emotional intelligence. EQ has reached the big time.

 

The importance of EQ

EQ is short for Emotional Quotient, also known as emotional intelligence. A foremost expert in the field, Daniel Goleman says that EQ refers to being aware of how our emotions drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively) and being able to manage those emotions, especially when under pressure.

Everyone has high EQ when things are going right. It’s easy to get along with people, have positive conversations and be an upstanding member of the organization, or society as a whole. What sets those with high EQ apart from the rest is how they operate under pressure.

 

Challenges to EQ

EQ can be challenged in a number of ways, and it can happen in an instant. For example, maybe you received some negative feedback. Your first impulse may be to get on the defensive and fight to protect your reputation. Do you act on that impulse? Do you tell that person exactly how you feel, for better or worse, or do you accept the feedback? Accepting and learning from negative feedback is a sign of higher EQ.

What happens when you are close to a deadline and have more work to do than time left to do it? Are you able to stay calm and systematically knock out the necessary tasks? Or, do you panic, begin to freak out and lash out at the first person you see because your world is coming unraveled? Staying calm is a sign of higher EQ.

Certain people can be a huge challenge to EQ. Some people are simply hard to get along with and can be a source of continuous conflict. How do you handle that coworker, customer or family member with whom you regularly clash?

If you are able to stay calm, keep the peace and show restraint, even when they push your buttons to red alert, you probably have high EQ.

If you are able to stay calm, keep the peace and show restraint, even when they push your buttons to red alert, you probably have high EQ.

 

EQ is not engrained

The good news is that EQ can continuously be improvedEmotional Intelligence should be looked at more as a journey than a destination. Every single day we can be a little better than we were yesterday, and it all starts with becoming more aware. The more aware we can be of our own emotions and the emotions of those around us, the more in control we will remain, and the more respect we will gain.

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My Personal Civil War: What Happens When Behaviors or Motivators Clash

S ome people call it an internal struggle. Others call it a “me-me” conflict. I like to call it my personal civil war. Many of us have one (or more) of these internal conflicts and they tend to cause us mental anguish, often on a daily basis.

This “me-me” conflict comes when either primary behaviors or motivators are contradictory to each other and clash. These conflicts make us want to go in more than one direction at the same time, creating internal discord. Learning to manage these internal conflicts is necessary in order for us to maintain our sanity, let alone be productive.

Many of us have one (or more) of these internal conflicts and they tend to cause us mental anguish, often on a daily basis.

These conflicts explain why some people want to win the lottery but won’t buy a ticket. Or, why others who pledge to get in shape in the morning are spotted at the donut shop and fast food restaurant by lunchtime. With these opposing mental forces pushing and pulling us in different directions, we often concede to the behavior or driver that is strongest.

Understanding behavior

Based on the behavioral science known as DISC, there are four very different and unique behavior stylesDominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. Nearly all of us have one factor that has a stronger intensity than the others, making it our primary behavioral style.

Dominance refers to how people address problems and challenges. A high-D usually embraces challenges and places a high value on hitting goals. Whereas, a low-D is cautious and calculating when dealing with conflict or challenges.

Influence refers to people and contacts. A high-I is often seen as a people-oriented communicator and an optimistic team player. Someone with a low-I style, may excel behind the scenes and preferring to work alone.

Steadiness refers to a person’s pace and consistency. A high-S is composed and resistant to change, wanting to focus on one task at a time. On the flip side, a low-S may have an impatient and impulsive nature and enjoy multi-tasking.

Compliance refers to how people respond to procedures and constraints. A high-C style is a conscientious perfectionist. High-C’s think very systematically and make calculated decisions based on detailed facts. Yet a low-C can be opinionated and unsystematic, not always based on facts.

Behavioral conflicts

As a high-D with an extremely low-S, I tend to focus on completing tasks in record time. The low-S indicates a need for speed, that, coupled with my high-D, means I love to dive into things quickly and I am eager to drive for results, which can make me impatient.

When I am editing my blogs, I raise my C to focus on my attention-to-detail. Doing so slows me down tremendously, to ensure that every word is the right word in the right context, placed in the proper tense and spelled correctly. Since I don’t believe in Spellcheck, maintaining a laser focus is essential to execute the editing. (Yes, the “e-based” alliteration was by design, another factor that requires a very specific focus.)

Making myself slow down and focus on such minute details conflicts with both my desire to complete my project (high-D) and my need to do it quickly (high-S). Therein lies the conflict.

Understanding motivators

Motivators are the things that make us get out of bed and do the things we do, day in and day out. These are the why behind our behaviors.

When viewed through the science known as 12 Driving Forces®, there are six key areas that each possess two distinct drivers or different motivations that impact your decisions. These six areas on which the drivers are based around are knowledge, utility, surroundings, others, power and methodologies.

Motivators are the things that make us get out of bed and do the things we do, day in and day out.

Motivator conflicts

Resourceful vs. Harmonious

Conflicts can abound within the Driving Forces. For me, my biggest conflict occurs between two of my strongest drivers, known as Resourceful and Harmonious. Harmonious speaks to enjoying the experience, living in the moment and having balance in one’s surroundings. Resourceful speaks to driven by maximizing efficiency and returns for investments of time, energy and resources.

While Harmonious indicates that I want the space I occupy to be visually appealing, it costs money to beautify one’s surroundings. My Resourceful driver often feels like “luxuries” such as nice living spaces isn’t maximizing my resources. Thus, a conflict arises.

These same two drivers do battle anytime I want to plan a vacation. Creating memories by traveling to exotic lands are something that I truly enjoy because my Harmonious driver craves this. My Resourceful driver, however, has a hard time justifying spending thousands of dollars on a week or less of enjoyment, money that could be “maximized” better paying off the car, house or credit card bills.

Harmonious vs. Receptive

The Harmonious driver also conflicts with another one of my leading drivers, my Receptive driver. This speaks to me driven by new ideas, methods and opportunities that fall outside a defined system of living. Simply stated, it means I like to try new things. Sometimes, however, when I begin to juggle too many different things at once, it negatively affects my Harmonious making me not “enjoy the moment” and ultimately resulting in increased stress.

Behavior and motivator conflicts

The “civil wars” don’t just happen inside the realm of behaviors and motivators exclusively. There can be crossover conflicts, as well.

High-D vs. Harmonious drive

For example, my high-D behavior that focuses on results is often in competition with my Harmonious driver which likes unity and balance in my surroundings and relationships. Often, it’s hard to achieve balance when you are up against deadlines trying to get results.

The “civil wars” don’t just happen inside the realm of behaviors and motivators exclusively. There can be crossover conflicts, as well.

High-C vs. Harmonious drive

Conversely, when I raise my C in editing mode, it sometimes also conflicts with my Harmonious driver. Case in point, the chorus of a song I wrote entitled “Lonely No More.” Music is all about creating something that sounds pleasant to the ear. The chorus of my song contains the words, “I’ll never be lonely no more.”

These words, with the music behind it, flow free and easy and sound exactly as I intended when I wrote the song. But then my adapted high-C kicks in, and reminds me that I have created a double negative that makes no sense grammatically. If being a writer wasn’t my day job, it probably wouldn’t be a big deal. But I am, and knowingly creating something grammatically incorrect makes me feel very uneasy, even if it sounds good.

I fully understand that the song would be grammatically correct if I were to change the line to be “I won’t be lonely anymore” or “I will be lonely no more.” However, my Harmonious will have none of this, because it simply doesn’t sound as pleasant sung with either of these two variations. (Trust me, I’ve tried it, and I hate it.) I wrote this song in 1996 and this internal struggle still bothers me almost daily.

High-I vs. Altruistic & Resourceful drivers

An interesting fact is that while my Influence (people-oriented) behavioral style scores a 93/100, indicating that I’m clearly a people person, I score a 0 on my Altruistic driver. I generally like people and prefer to be around them, especially socially, but I feel no responsibility to fix the world’s people problems. I sometimes feel guilty when I don’t give the homeless guy my spare change, because I am people-centric, but between my lack of Altruism and high Resourceful (wanting to maximize my resources), I ultimately decide to keep that spare change in my pocket.

Conclusion

We all have daily internal conflicts that we have to fight through. Understanding and identifying these issues, especially what they are and how much power they have over us, can be a huge factor in learning how to properly deal with the conflicts. Doing so can help create a little more balance and a little less stress in your life, which can be great, especially if that sort of thing appeals to you.

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10 Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way and Achieve the Success You Deserve

I t may be easy to cite someone we consider to be successful, but it’s not always as easy to figure out exactly how that person became successful in the first place. Most of the time, success or failure is staring us in the mirror. If we fall into bad habits, including filling our heads with negative thoughts, we may find ways to self-sabotage our own endeavors that can lead to our own undoing.

Inspired by an article written by Larry Kim of Inc., being aware of your pitfalls is the first step in overcoming them. If you have an important goal you’d like to achieve, it’s best to avoid doing these ten things:

 

1. Comparing yourself to others

There are over seven billion people in the world. You’ll be better than some, just as easily as some will be better than you. If you are judging your value solely on how you stack up against others, you will be fighting a battle you likely won’t win. There are very few people who are the absolute best in the world at what they do, and the odds are stacked against you that you are one of those people.

If you are judging your value solely on how you stack up against others, you will be fighting a battle you likely won’t win.

The key isn’t necessarily to be the best; the goal should be to do the best you possibly can and to be better than you were yesterday. If your progress is consistently moving forward, chances are you will be successful.

2. Being afraid to fail (excessive risk mitigation)

I had a friend who wanted to open a brewery. He was an amazing brewer who made better beers than most commercial operations. He had tons of experience on the amateur level and was well schooled, graduating from the esteemed Siebel Brewing Academy. He had every tool needed to be a successful brewery business owner, except one. He was a professional risk mitigator.

Instead of moving his project forward, he’d continuously review his business plan, tweaking and tinkering, always trying to mitigate risk. While due diligence is important, there is such thing as too much thinking. In trying to mitigate risk, he mitigated his entire brewery concept because it never opened. So consumed with what could go wrong, the project never got off the ground. Sometimes you just have to trust yourself and go for it.

3. Becoming complacent

When you feel like you’ve reached a place where you just can’t improve any more and have nothing further to learn, an alarm should sound, flashing lights should go off and a mechanical punching bag should activate. The world is constantly changing and there is always something new to learn. While there’s nothing wrong with being confident in one’s abilities, complacency is the place where the world passes you by.

4. Losing faith in yourself and your abilities

Having doubts is a normal part of life and entirely natural. Doubts can be the fuel we need to double down on our efforts to accomplish a goal. However, continuously second-guessing yourself can be unhealthy and can retard forward progress on goals, if not sabotage them altogether.

“It is human nature to feel confident about yourself one moment, and doubt yourself the next. Some of that has to do with life experiences while other times it can be caused by a shift in chemicals within the brain. Regardless of the cause, maintaining a steadfast belief in yourself and your abilities is what will power you through, day in and day out.”

5. Surrounding yourself with negative people

The reggae artist Lloyd Brown shares wisdom in his song Know Yourself when he says “You need to fly with eagles and no walk with chickens.” It’s much harder to aspire to greatness when you hang out with mediocrity or less.

In no way is this referencing someone’s socioeconomic status. The negative in the term “negative people” refers to people who do very little to better their own lives while spending time denigrating others for attempting to better theirs.

Energy exists in the world. The more you surround yourself with positive energy, including positive people, the more energized you’ll feel. You are much more likely to achieve greatness if you are operating out of a positive energy state more often than not.

6. Thinking you’re not good enough; having “perfectionist” theory

Certainly, there is nothing wrong with trying to improve. If you are passionate about something, your goal may be to try to become the best you can possibly be. Sometimes being good, or even excellent, needs to be good enough. If you don’t understand this, you may forget to enjoy the ride.

It doesn’t matter what you do or the scale of that particular endeavor. Maybe you make donuts for a living or maybe you are a garbage collector. Perhaps you’re a major league ballplayer or a fiction writer. Regardless of the endeavor, the key is to do your best, but not get hung up on trying to be perfect.

Even the greatest in the world have off days. The seemingly unhittable pitcher Nolan Ryan, author of seven no-hitters, found a way to lose 292 games during his career. I have yet to find anyone that would consider Ryan to be anything close to a failure.

7. Basing success solely on finances

When do you know that you have “made it?” How do you judge your own success? While it’s understandable that entrepreneurs will often judge their success or failure by their bottom line, there are so many other factors that go into whether or not a person or a business is truly successful.

Money generated is one factor, but other factors include: how many jobs has your company created for others? How much revenue has your company generated for your community? Have you created a product that has made the lives of people in your neighborhood better? Certainly, money can be one area where one judges success, but it should never be the sole consideration.

8. Wasting time on regrets

Maybe we tried something and failed. Maybe we failed to try something we should have. Whatever the case; it’s time to move on. Living life in the past, dwelling on things that went wrong, or didn’t happen at all, is neither productive nor inspiring.

Living life in the past, dwelling on things that went wrong, or didn’t happen at all, is neither productive nor inspiring.

Everyone gets five minutes to feel sorry for themselves. Then it’s time to get off the mat, believe in yourself again and start making forward progress.

9. Using words that lack action

On their 1983 blockbuster album Pyromania, Def Leppard declared, “Give me action, not words.” A perfect theme for an album that is the soundtrack for the 80s big hair generation, it also applies to life in the everyday world. What good is talking about doing something if you don’t actually do it?

It’s great to visualize an idea, and part of that visualization often includes verbalizing your ideas. Verbalizing your intentions to do something brings that idea to life. However, ideas without action behind them are meaningless. Picture your idea in your mind, verbalize it, then begin immediately to put that idea into action.

Picture your idea in your mind, verbalize it, then begin immediately to put that idea into action.

10. Envying success of others

There is nothing wrong with admiring people who have achieved success. In fact, having role models can be a great way to help you visualize what your ideal situation looks like.

For example, as a musician and a bit of an aspiring entrepreneur, I completely admire Sammy Hagar. Not only is he a fantastic songwriter and performer, he’s capitalized on his celebrity by creating multiple, highly successful brands, including his Cabo Wabo Tequila and his Sammy’s Beach Bar restaurant locations.

The key is to admire, and not to envy, those who have found success. I view Hagar as an inspiration who earned what he has by putting every ounce of passion into his craft. Now he gets to bask in the rewards of all his hard work. Rather than waste a moment being envious, I envision myself being similarly successful, and maybe one day celebrating that success over some of that Cabo Wabo with the man himself.

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How To Work Smarter, Not Harder

P ersonally, I feel there is nothing natural about waking up before the sun rises. In fact, I’d call it lunacy. Since the word lunacy derives from the term lunaticus meaning “of the moon” or “moonstruck,” it really does fit. When the moon is out, the only thing I want to accomplish is catching up on my sleep.

Now, by no means does that indicate a slacker mentality. When I do wake up, I’m the kind of person that gets going and doesn’t stop until the moon is back up high in the sky. I often refer to myself as being like an old car; it might take a moment for the car to warm up and perform optimally, but when it does, get out of the way because that old heavy metal thunder will be barreling down the road with a purpose.

2 simple rules of life

I’ve found that life is really quite simple. There’s a few basic rules I try to follow and, when I do, I find things work out quite well. The first rule is that there is no answer for lack of sleep. You can drink all the coffee, tea, Red Bull, Monster or heart-racing beverage of choice and it doesn’t matter. For every energy peak, there is an equally intensive crash to follow. For me personally, it’s not worth the ups and downs.

Keep it simple: get enough sleep and do things that give you energy. If you can accomplish this, life improves.

Another rule I follow is to try to do things that energize me. Every single thing you do, every interaction you have and every moment of your life is spent either being energized or having your energy zapped. I’ve found that if you can at least be energized 51% of your day, that day will be considered a success. Think about how you feel on those days where your energy gets zapped; do you feel lifeless, unmotivated and maybe a little crabby too?

People frequently talk about doing what you love and having a career that provides meaning, but that all ties back to either being energized or energy drained. Keep it simple: get enough sleep and do things that give you energy. If you can accomplish this, life improves.

What’s the rush?

Sadly, today’s workplace encourages overworking employees. It’s seen by many as a badge of honor if you can outwork your peers, even if the end result is your mental and physical health. Instead of protecting employees against burnout, some companies push workers to the limit, and then replace them with reinforcements that they treat in the same manner.

Why not just work at a reasonable pace? Get the work done and do it well. Work shouldn’t be a competition and, last time I checked, quality work is still a valued commodity.

Get the work done and do it well. Work shouldn’t be a competition and, last time I checked, quality work is still a valued commodity.

Modeling success

Richard Branson is someone I admire a great deal. Whether it’s his success, his carefree spirit or willingness to expand his comfort zone daily, Branson is an inspiration in many ways. I find it interesting that Richard Branson does not believe in spending time in an office. In his book, Finding My Virginity, he talks about his preference to work from home where he finds he is much more productive.

He talks about waking up, jumping in his hammock, catching up on correspondences and communicating with key business contacts until midday. At that point, he typically breaks to enjoy kite surfing in the waters of his British Virgin Islands home. He doesn’t time his midday break, rather preferring to let the ebb and flow of the day dictate how long he decides to step away from work.

Branson claims that when he returns to work, he is recharged and ready to go. Despite exerting energy to kite surf, he has re-energized both his body and his mind, making himself ready for the second half of his day.

It’s hard to argue with the success of Richard Branson, and it certainly appears his daily approach seems to be working. While kitesurfing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I can imagine the benefits of a good midday hike, run or meditation could work wonders for someone’s energy levels.

The value of a proper night’s sleep

According to an article written by startup founder Anna Auerbach, recent research at Hult International Business School shows how sleep deprivation affects job performance. She says, “Many survey respondents reported poorer workplace performance due to tiredness, with over half admitting to struggling to stay focused in meetings, taking longer to complete tasks, and finding it challenging to generate new ideas. Along with a lack of focus and diminished creative capacities, participants also indicated a reduced motivation to learn and be less able to manage competing demands.”

Many survey respondents reported poorer workplace performance due to tiredness, with over half admitting to struggling to stay focused in meetings, taking longer to complete tasks, and finding it challenging to generate new ideas.

In Arianna Huffington’s book entitled Sleep Revolution Manifesto, she proclaims, “Sleep is a fundamental and non-negotiable human need.” And, “Exhaustion is a sign of chaos, not a badge of honor.” So why do we continue to push ourselves beyond reasonable limits? What are we trying to prove and who do we feel we need to impress?

Commutes

traffic jamLet’s talk about commutes. How productive can one truly be behind the wheel of a car? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute in the United States is 25.4 minutes. Of course, in larger cities with more traffic, that number is typically higher.

In our metro area of Phoenix, the average commute time is 25.9 minutes. However, according to employment agency Robert Half, Phoenix also has the dubious distinction of being ranked at the 4th most stressful commute in the country, behind Los Angeles, Miami and Austin, just ahead of San Francisco. With many people believing 101 is the speed limit and not the interstate number, who am I to disagree?

 

Imagine what could happen if you trade in that 30-60 minute stressful daily drive into productive time spent working when you are ready to perform at a high level.

Your work would improve, your stress would reduce and you could exchange that commute time for an extended midday break to recharge.

Summing it up

The world we live in doesn’t always revolve around a clock, nor should it. There is no defined proof that a person works better during specific business hours. So why do we continue to confine people to these hours? The key is to make work hours flexible in order to accommodate life and livelihood. Being happy and energized at least 51% of the time will improve the chances of increased productivity and a better overall state-of-mind.

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5 Ways Vulnerability Can Be Your Undeniable Asset

I did something very out of character for me one day last week. In fact, it was something I don’t think I’ve ever done in a 30+ year career in the workforce – I admitted to my manager that I simply just didn’t have it that day. My mental gas tank had gone dry.

A confluence of internal and external pressures created a perfect storm of mental chaos. Sleep deprived, overextended, and trying to keep up with my self-inflicted unmanageable schedule led to elevated-stress levels that pushed me over the edge. My will to conquer the world was put on hold – even if just for one day.

It was something I’ve never done in a 30+ year career—I admitted to my manager that I didn’t have it that day.

It felt really uncomfortable admitting to being mentally compromised, especially to my manager. For years I’ve been taught (programmed?) to always put my best face forward when in the presence of leadership. I felt vulnerable and exposed. The truth is, on this given day, I simply needed a break.

Strangely, admitting to my predicament was also invigorating. I could feel the tightness in each one of my body’s 700+ muscles began to relax. The internal pressures I put on myself instantly began to subside. In just a matter of moments, a glimmer of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel began to appear.

Doing something completely out of character was both uncomfortable and energizing at the same time. The simple act of admitting my vulnerability not only expanded my comfort zone, it helped start the recovery process. It made me realize that it’s perfectly ok to not be on my game 100% of the time. By that afternoon, my stress level had reduced considerably and I was back to my usual, highly-productive ways.

Vulnerability: sign of weakness or strength?

I recently read an article by Deanna deBara on medium.com entitled “Why It’s Time To Take Off Your Workplace Armor.” The article couldn’t have presented itself at a more opportune time.

In deBara’s own words, she explains,

“We’ve been raised in a culture where you’re expected to be tough as nails. Where the only acceptable answer to “How’s everything going?” is “Couldn’t be better!” Where you’re supposed to have all the answers, all the time — and if you don’t, you’d better make it look like you do.

But the truth is, sometimes, things could be better. And there’s not a single person on this planet — including the most successful executives in the world — that have all the answers, all the time.

Vulnerability has traditionally been viewed as a weakness in the workplace, and the thought of being exposed — flaws, imperfections, challenges, and all— is, for most people, completely terrifying.

But the conversation about vulnerability in our culture is starting to change. And as it turns out, being vulnerable at work isn’t a liability — it’s an asset.”

After experiencing all the feelings and emotions that come with expressing vulnerability in the workplace, Deanna’s summation of the subject is spot on.

 

5 Ways Vulnerability Can Be Your Undeniable Asset

 

1. It allows you to be you.

You may be really good at what you do, and you may overachieve on a regular basis. But even high performers have off days. Maybe you have issues you’re dealing with or maybe you just had a bad night’s sleep. Not everyone can perform optimally all the time.

For baseball fans, this point is illustrated perfectly on the pitcher’s mound. On any given day, a pitcher may go out and pitch a shutout. Then, five days later, the same pitcher takes the mound and gets roughed up for eight runs and doesn’t make it out of the third inning. It was the same pitcher with the same skills under relatively similar conditions. What happened? The pitcher simply had an off day.

It’s no different in the workplace. Certain days you may work like you’re on a mission, accomplishing more than two or three coworkers combined. On other days, even the most basic tasks can seem like a struggle. On those days where you just aren’t yourself, admit it, take ownership of it and just do your best to power through. Tomorrow is another day.

 

2. It allows you to make mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. Being able to admit when you do and learn from your mistakes is the true skill. Taking ownership of your mistakes will generate a lot of respect from those around you who will respect that you were willing to admit that you erred.

The more chances we take, the higher the possibility of failing. However, taking those chances helps us expand our comfort zone. This is how we grow as individuals. Accepting the risk and going for it anyway can be both invigorating and rewarding.

 

3. It gives you permission to seek help

Admitting you don’t know something gives you free reign to ask others for help. Many times, two brains working together can be better than one. This is especially true when you’re working on a project of which you are not well skilled. Having external contributors can help make the work easier and more effective.

Those who ask for help admit they don’t know everything. The fact is, they know enough to understand what they don’t know. No one is a master at all skills. A workplace is filled with complementary talents.

By asking for help, it sends a message that you are willing to be collaborative with those around you.

By asking for help, it sends a message that you are willing to be collaborative with those around you. They’ll be more likely to help you when you need it as long as you are willing to reciprocate.  Just knowing that you can rely on those around you when times get tough can reduce workplace stress.

4. It makes you appear human

When you’re willing to be vulnerable, it shows you are human. People respect others who are willing to show their human side. When you aspire to perfection, there’s nowhere to go but down. How can you ever be happy unless you live in an endless state of perfection? By allowing yourself to show that you have flaws, it not only makes you appear more human, but it makes you more approachable; more “normal” in the eyes of those around you.

Vulnerability can be extremely powerful for those in a position of leadership. So often, we hold our leaders to unattainable standards. Showing vulnerability sends the message that, regardless of title, the leader is no different at heart than others with lesser titles or lower ranks.

5. It allows you to grow as a person

Admitting you aren’t on your game or don’t have it on a particular day can actually be quite liberating. It takes the pressure of perfectionism away and lets you relax in your day-to-day activities. Realizing where you have weaknesses and acknowledging them gives you a starting place for self-improvement. Reducing stress is important since it can help you avoid a state of burnout.

The old-school belief that the workplace is no place to show vulnerability is becoming a thing of the past.

We have two options as human beings: progression or regression. In this world, nothing ever stays the same. You can use your experiences to learn and improve or you can hold on to antiquated notions and let the world pass you by. The old-school belief that the workplace is no place to show vulnerability is becoming a thing of the past.

 

Conclusion

The best part of admitting vulnerability is it allows you to lessen the stressors that can build up around you; stressors that can take a toll on your body and mind. By simply saying “I don’t know” or “I don’t have it today,” you show your human side and allow others to come to the rescue. Others can help pick up the slack when you simply don’t have it in you on a particular day. Of course, you have to be willing to the same for them when they find themselves in the same situation.

Article written by Dave Clark, Staff Writer and Editor at TTI Success Insights.

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