Category

Personal Growth

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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You Just Might be Listening Wrong

We’d all like to think of ourselves as good listeners, but are we really? With a little honest introspection, we may uncover that we are actually quite the opposite. Is it possible that many of us are actually listening wrong?

Effective listening can be especially challenging to those who, according to the DISC behavioral profile, fall into the high D/I category. A sense of urgency and getting straight to the point sometime inhibit these fast-paced people from effectively listening.  Being present in the moment should be our goal, regardless of what behavioral style we possess.

Understanding and being aware of these common listening pitfalls will help us to become better listeners. See five of the most common listening pitfalls and how to overcome them.

Listening to Solve

Human beings, for the most part, like to help other humans. While everyone may not necessarily be altruistic 24/7, if asked for help, most people will jump at the chance to help someone. It makes us feel good to help others.

The only problem with that in today’s fast-paced world is that we may be too quick to look for a solution to a person’s problem. Often we may wish to express that magic fix with exuberance and rapidity. In our minds, we have a solution to their problem and we want to express this solution – right now!

Unfortunately, the person may still have some important information to provide to us that we simply don’t hear because we have already formulated a solution in our minds before they have finished speaking.

Instead of trying to solve the issue at hand, you can clarify assumptions the other person holds and helps the other person to see the issue in a new light.  Interject some your ideas that could be useful without hijacking the discussion.

Listening to Do

Like listening to solve above, listening to do deals with haste and inability to gather all the information needed to formulate a proper answer. We get so captivated by the first part of a person’s story that we begin to respond by taking some sort of action.

This listening fault is less about trying to come up with a solution, and more about fixing the problem right here and now. In being so quick to act, we may lack key information solely because we fail to hear.

When listening to do, we may show our urgency by jumping online trying to find an answer, texting a friend “in the know” or posting a query on Facebook for recommendations while the person we are talking with is still trying to communicate with us.

In order to avoid doing, clear away all distractions including your laptop, phone, or notepad and be fully present by focusing on the person who is speaking.

Listening to Respond

Similar to listening to do, we are so anxious to have the floor and respond that all we can process in our minds is our response, rendering the remaining incoming words relatively useless. Listening in this realm becomes a battle of who can talk fastest, or sometimes loudest, to get their information across and is quite ineffective.

The classic example of listening to respond is the perpetual interrupter. They just can’t wait for you to finish and start talking before you do. Not only is interrupting someone rude, but it inhibits effective communication.

To avoid the loss associated with responding instead of listening, stay silent. If anything, ask clarifying questions to the conversation and practice pausing before your respond to reflect on the entire conversation at hand.

Listening to Defy

Has someone ever said something to you that rubbed you the wrong way? And immediately you feel yourself tensing up and wanting to immediately rebut the thing that irritated you?  In the blink of an eye you may become defensive and reactive.

If the content matter egregiously angers you, you may find yourself in the middle of an emotional hijackreacting in the mode of flight or fight, with a heavy lean on fight. Listening to defy really isn’t listening at all; it’s all about escalation.

Want to see this form of listening in action? Bring up politics or religion in the workplace and see what happens. Or better yet, refrain from doing so and be much better off because of it.

Suppress listening to defy by empathizing with the person with whom you are conversating. Amazing listeners create safe environment in which difficult issues are discussed, all while controlling their emotions.

Listening Without Your Eyes

If words are important, non-verbal cues are powerful. Seeing the way a person projects a message is vital. This includes reading their facial expressions and their overall body language. Being astutely aware of these non-verbal mannerisms can many times yield more valuable information than the words themself.

When listening without your eyes, eye contact is kept to a minimum. The person being talked to is likely to be looking at the computer screen or notepad rather than looking at the person with whom they are talking, creating the perception of an empty conversation. A person who listens without their eyes is perceived as being absent from the conversation.

To listen with your eyes as much as your ears, take time to actively observe non-verbals, like facial expressions, gestures, posture, and other body language.

 

Effective listening is a skill and, like any other skill, it needs to be practiced and developed. Knowing what to look for, especially these five common listening pitfalls, and how to overcome it will help you develop better listening skills and be more present in your conversations.

Pay special attention to your listening skills today and see if your communication habits fall into any of these listening pitfalls. Awareness is the first step in improvement and realizing you are listening wrong, and doing something about it, can help you to become a better listener.

 

Written By Candice Frazer

Having Enough in the Tank to be a Top Performer

Have you ever started a new job raring to go, just knowing you are going to set the standard for top performers? The question is, how do you sustain top performance? What are some of the keys to keep enough proverbial “gas in the tank” to perform at your best every day? Knowing yourself including what drives you, learning everything you can about your new job and new company, asking questions and requesting feedback are five keys to succeeding in any new position, especially when starting a position with a new company.

Standin’ on the corner

Having enough gas in the tank is both a metaphor and necessary reality. I am truly passionate about music as well as the weekend getaway. As a relatively new Arizonan, exploring all Arizona has to offer excites me. Being a lifelong fan of The Eagles, and driven by the song lyrics from the song “Take It Easy”, I felt the urge for a pilgrimage to Winslow, Arizona, so I could “stand on the corner.” It seemed like such a fine sight to see!

What was intended to be an innocent afternoon exploring Arizona turned quite perilous. Instead of being prepared, I jumped in car, energized to see Winslow, and set off. What I didn’t think about was whether or not I had enough gas in the tank to get back to my homebase just outside Phoenix. For anyone who has traveled to Winslow, you know that it’s a very small town surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. Conspicuously absent are gas stations. About 50 miles into my trek back home (read: too far to turn back) I glanced down at my gas gauge to realize it was right smack in the middle of the E! Not near or even on top of the E, but right in the middle. This is usually indicative of a virtually dry gas tank.

Panic inevitably set in. I had been driving for at least thirty minutes and saw no signs of life other than a sun-blocking forest of trees. Though it smelled wonderfully of pine because the windows were now down in a futile attempt to save gas, I was thinking about my fate. My mind raced with thoughts of an impending lengthy hike in search of a gas station. As the sun threatened to set in the west, I put the car in neutral traveling down hill and tried to gain enough momentum to get back up the next hill, using as little fuel as possible. Gas – and time – was running out.

After turning a corner in what seemed to be in the middle of Mirkwood Forest (a tip of the hat to JRR Tolkien fans) a turn of the century-looking gas station popped up. No convenience store, car wash or digital credit card readers at this place seemingly stuck in 1940. It was just a small stop in the middle of a deserted forest that happened to have gas. And I was happier to see it than the proverbial girl in the flatbed Ford.

Five keys to being a top performer

We may lose and we may win but why rely on luck when it comes to your career success? A better plan is to be prepared and ensure that you wildly succeed! Here are five things you can do to make sure that happens.

  1. Know yourself – In previous blogs, I lamented the fact that I had spent half a career in positions that weren’t cut out for me. If I knew then what I know now, I could have cut that learning curve significantly and chosen a career that was more in line with the things that drive me to wake up every morning. Tools such as DISC, which identify how we do what we do, and Driving Forces which explain the why we do what we do, are invaluable in helping people identify their perfect career options.
  2. Know your new company – How much do you know about the new company where you are about to start working? Are they an industry leader or an up-and-coming start up? Perhaps they’ve been around awhile and are undergoing a turnaround or realignment, of sorts. A great resource to check out to help you learn about starting off on the right foot is Michael D. Watkins’ book, The First 90 Days. Talk to people already working for that company and get some inside information. Reach out to your soon-to-be boss and establish a relationship before day one to ensure a successful start.
  3. Understand your new position – Having a thorough understanding of your new position will help you identify where you are likely to excel and what things you may need to shore up before your first day. Another great reason to establish an early relationship with your boss, he or she can help answer some of these questions. An important question to ask is who may be a potential mentor for you to work with as you transition into this new company?
  4. Ask questions – If you avoid only one mistake, avoid assuming you know everything you need to know about your new situation. You don’t know a lot; and that’s okay! Asking questions will not only clear up the gray area, it will show your new company and new co-workers that you are invested in your new position. Ask away! The only dumb question is the one that isn’t asked.
  5. Request feedback – There are many different roads to travel to get to the same destination. And the destination you are seeking is success. You may feel like you are doing well, maybe even excelling. But the only way you will know for sure is by requesting feedback. Different people have different perspectives. You stand to gain so much valuable insight by asking for feedback. Perception is reality and you want to ensure that you are perceived positively by your co-workers, your new boss and your new company. And this can be accomplished simply by requesting – and utilizing – valuable feedback provided by co-workers.

Getting feedback from as many sources as possible is encouraged as it will give you a variety of ideas and opinions. If you are lucky enough to align yourself with a mentor who can help you learn the ropes and navigate the organization, all the better. This person can be an incredibly valuable resource that helps you succeed quickly. Once you know yourself and your company, align yourself with a mentor and ask questions and accept feedback, you are well on your way to success in your new position. Just be sure to fill the tank before you head out on day one of your new job.

 

Written By Dave Clark

How to Win in Your First 90 Days in a New Job

The competition was steep and the talent immense. Yet, through it all, it was you they chose to fill the highly sought after position. Congratulations!

Now, what’s next; what are you supposed to do now? Before you let panic set in, take a breath, relax and celebrate your win. And now think about how you can make a positive impression from day one all the way through the end of your initiation period, which typically lasts 90 days.

With a plan of action that involves achieving early wins, acclimating quickly and learning the behaviors or yourself and your new coworkers, you can be well on your way to making a favorable first impression.

Here are our recommendations to establishing your credibility in the first 90-days on the job.

Develop a plan for success

You get one chance to make a first impression so why not make that impression a great one? As the newest member of an organization, it is imperative to be as prepared as possible.

Start out by doing your research on the company. Who are they; what do they do? What do you know about the company culture? Are they an industry leader or an up and comer? What are some of the company’s potential strengths and weaknesses compared with their competition?

Doing your homework and coming as prepared as possible to your first day on the job will not only show you are a driven self-starter, but that you care and are completely invested in becoming a valuable member of the team.

Achieving early wins

Achieving early wins helps to set the pathway to successful employment. Find ways to do things early into your new position that can show people that you are not afraid to take risks and that want to be a contributing member of the organization as soon as possible.

Make key contacts in your new company by finding out who the overachievers are and align yourself with them. By aligning yourself with high achievers, you will learn great habits while being motivated to excel through friendly competition as you try to keep up with their pace.

Making a good first impression can be done in a number of small, but important ways. For example, learn people’s names. People love to hear their own names so the sooner you can learn the names of your coworkers, and use their names regularly, the quicker you will be accepted into the organization as “one of the gang.”

The lost art of listening

Another simple way to earn trust quickly is to engage people in conversation and actually listen to what they have to say. Have informal one-on-one meetings with coworkers to learn about who they are, what they do and how they contribute to the company. These interviews will also speed up your knowledge of the company, give you a real feel for the culture and probably expose any issues within the company. Certainly not meant to be a gossip session, use these interviews to build trust with coworkers of all levels. It shows you care about the company and the people that work there.

Using DISC to your advantage

Anytime you are beginning a new relationship of any kind, whether it’s work related or personal, taking an informative assessment such as DISC can reveal some very valuable insights. DISC is a science that deals with a person’s behaviors and can be a great indicator of how a person may act in a given situation.

Though it’s not foolproof, it’s a great predictor and especially tends to reveal how people will react under pressure. Learning first about yourself, DISC can show you not only your strengths but can point out situations where work friction could arise so you can be aware of it and proactively work to avoid it.

Once you understand yourself and the science behind DISC, you can apply these same principles when working with your coworkers and any customers you may come in contact with. Understanding the various DISC behaviors is fairly easy, and being able to spot the various behavioral patterns in people can be a huge advantage in communicating with people.

You will quickly be able to identify the “D” who is fast-paced, always on the go and likes to only hear the cliff notes version of the story. Conversely, the “I” in the workplace will be the gregarious person that loves to chat and always has a story to share. The “S” is personable, but is defined by an even-keeled approach that is not too fast and not too slow. They like routine and are not necessarily interested in immediate change. The folks with the “C” profiles in the office will help keep the “D” workers in place by thinking things through, taking the time to do the calculations to make sure the “D’s” newly hatched idea will actually work.

Once you understand DISC and the behavior patterns associated with it, you will have a huge advantage in the workplace to know exactly how to interact with all your workers, regardless if you have matching DISC profiles or not. You will find that by applying these principles you be much more successful, achieve wins early and often and make a solid impression that will last.

 

Written By Dave Clark

How to Drive Your Career Forward

Driving down the road of life, we often wish we had a crystal ball, especially when it comes to career advice. Wouldn’t it be great to possess the ability to be one step ahead of life’s curves and react to them before they become obstacles? And wouldn’t it be great to know what we wanted to be when we grew up, long before we actually did grow up?

Though many of us may not have possessed that elusive crystal ball when we started our career journey, the technology exists today to help drive your career forward. Understanding the “how” and the “why” we tend to do the things we do will give us incredible insight into careers that will be both productive and satisfying.

Driving in the dark

My career journey paints a clear picture of why having these tools would have been so beneficial. Coming out of college I planned to become a writer. When a job opening became available at the local newspaper, I jumped at the chance to get my foot in the door. Even though the job wasn’t a writing job, I figured getting in the door was half the battle and I’d find my perfect journalism position in due time.

The available position was in sales, not in journalism, but both my employer and I felt that I would excel at the job, because I was a self-starter, motivated, energetic, conversational and driven. These are all qualities that tend to be found in successful sales people.

The truth is, I was very successful at the job and rose through the organization earning promotions and pay raises. But I was not fulfilled. What should have been a career became a job. My excitement turned to apathy and later downgraded from malaise to dread before it was all over.

Let’s analyze where I went wrong.

Yes, I had the appropriate behaviors for the job. And many years into my career my company had all employees take a DISC profile that confirmed the fact that, theoretically, I should excel in this position. But what we didn’t look at was my values. If we had analyzed what my motivations were in life, career and otherwise, we would have seen that I was truly placed in a position that wasn’t right for me.

Values can also be called motivators and they explain the “why” a person does what they do. My main motivators are Intentional, Harmonious, Resourceful and Receptive. This “cluster” of motivators is the fuel that powers why I get up every morning and do what I do.

Intentional speaks to how I deal with others. With Intentional as my number one driver, it indicates that I am fully dedicated to helping a person or people for a specific purpose. The opposite of this is Altruistic, which describes people who are driven to assist others just for the satisfaction of being helpful. That isn’t me, and sales typically requires a person to be unilaterally helpful across the board. My second highest motivator, Harmonious, suggests that I enjoy balance in my surroundings and want to enjoy the experience of anything in which I’m involved. A driving force that deals with surroundings, the opposite driving force to Harmonious is Objective, which describes people who are driven by the functionality and objectivity of their surroundings.

Sales is all about following patterns and specific methods to work through the sales cycle, something that personally loses my interest. I love to try new things, take different paths and explore roads untraveled. Now it’s clear why I didn’t look forward to going into work!

My next strongest driving forces are Resourceful and Receptive. Resourceful deals with utility and showcases people driven by practical results, maximizing both efficiency and returns for their investment of time, talent, energy and resources. Sure, this can pertain to sales, but I feel that, as a writer, I get a lot more return on investment. I get the pleasure of people enjoying the articles I write. When I sold things, there wasn’t a whole lot of satisfaction when I made a sale, so even though the company I worked for got a great return on investment, I did not share that return on investment personally.

My fourth driving force speaks to methodologies and Receptive scores very high for me. It describes people who are driven by new ideas, methods and opportunities that fall outside a defined system for living. Receptive people fly by the seat of their pants and are willing to take risks. They are the anti-structured type. Sales is very structured, predictable and doesn’t speak to any of my primary driving forces.

If I had this information when I was beginning my career, I would have either pushed harder to start my career within the editorial department at that newspaper or I would have gone elsewhere to follow a path more suited to my motivators and values. If I only knew then what I know now!

Driving with eyes open

Although my proverbial ship may have sailed years ago, I have a younger friend who was looking for career advice. Nick was finishing up his engineering degree, preparing for the workforce in what likely would be a fairly lucrative first job. But he had some reservations.

Sure, he had the skills to be an engineer; and probably a very good one. And his DISC profile confirmed that he’d certainly be a strong candidate for work in this field. However, what Nick didn’t have was a burning desire to make a career out of this field. And he was aware of this fact before he even graduated.

In a strange twist of fate, I first met Nick at a homebrew club meeting. As the President of the local club, I had ample experience brewing award winning beer, both as an amateur and even professionally for a period of time. Nick asked me if I’d help him learn how to excel as a brewer, and he promised to be a dedicated apprentice. My Intentional driving force kicked in (remember, Intentional identifies people driven to assist others for a specific purpose) and I accepted the challenge.

Nick was a dedicated apprentice and helped me brew every batch of beer I brewed over the next two years. Once I taught him everything I could possibly teach him, he had a life revelation that he didn’t want to be an engineer at all; he’d rather become a professional brewer.

As his driving forces indicate, this was a good career move for Nick. His lead driving force is Harmonious as he is driven by the experience. And brewing beer is certainly a journey from the malt to the hops to fermentation to packaging. He is very high Intellectual, and brewing a beautiful balance of arts and sciences, rolled into one complex, exciting package. Nick is also Collaborative (there’s usually two to three brewers in a brewhouse) and Intentional, so he accepts the daily task of working with others to produce a new beer and enjoys the entire process.

So why was it a strange twist of fate that Nick and I met at a homebrew club meeting? I ended up relocating and eventually ended up in Arizona. When I settled in, I went to work at a brewery and once I got established, I ended up getting Nick his first professional brewing job. The mentor got to see the apprentice all the way through the cycle. And now when we review Nick’s driving forces, it’s obvious he is in the perfect career for him. And now today with all he’s learned, I go to him to learn things about brewing beer instead of the other way around.

What have we learned about driving, or especially 12 Driving Forces?

While these may be fun stories to recant what can we learn from them? I believe that exposing someone to these tools as early as possible can help guide them to choose a career in which they will excel and enjoy. The sooner a person can understand exactly how (DISC) and why (12 Driving Forces) they do what they do, the more focused they can be on what careers make sense for them.

They will avoid wasting time and finding out the hard way that they chose the wrong field of employment. By getting in the right field early, they can get established at a young age, make their mark and excel as an expert or eventually a master in their field. And most importantly, they can enjoy the journey all along the way.

No matter if you are just starting your professional career or are a seasoned working veteran, here are a few action items that can ensure you are investing your time wisely in a career that works for you.

  1. Take and understand the DISC profile. DISC will give you great insight about your behavioral characteristics that will predict how you may perform in various job situations. Some of the behavioral characteristics identified include: level of competitiveness, versatility, sense of urgency, level of persistence, organizational skills and how you relate to customers, to name a few.
  2. Take and understand the 12 Driving Forces science. Understanding the “why” behind what drives you may be the single most important insight to help you travel down the path best suited for you. With 12 Driving Forces, you will identify drivers that are predominant in your life (primary), drivers that occur situationally and also those things that you are indifferent, or maybe even opposed to, in a given situation.
  3. Taking these two sciences together in one report, the Talent Insights report will not only give you information in both categories, it will sum up how the two sciences work in tandem to paint a thorough picture of who you are and why you are that way. They are both important tools that each play a crucial role. But independently they only tell part of the story. Using them together tells the whole story, and that’s what we truly need to arm ourselves with the information to succeed.
  4. Don’t spend another minute in a job that is not right for you. There are plenty of careers and many ways to reinvent yourself. I’ve personally reinvented myself a few times over my working career, and not only is it doable, it’s invigorating to break through the uncomfort zone and make it happen! The hardest thing to do is start, so take the first step today toward happiness in your work life.

Would you like to learn more about DISC and driving forces? Click here now and begin your journey to a great new career: For Emerging Leaders Longing to Reach Their Potential

 

Written By Dave Clark