Category Archives: Productivity and Effectiveness

The Fallacy of Failure

a young boy crouched on a floor with the shadow showing arms raised in triumph over the fallacy of failure

“What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”

~ Robert H. Schuller

I have come across the above quote often and pondered it reflectively.  It inspires me to think big – contemplating all the many things I have dreamed of creating or being a part of.  I often feel compelled to make a list – and have done so many times.  I encourage my clients to do this as well.  But the most interesting and show stopping part of that quote for me is the idea of “failure”.

It’s easy to think of shooting for the moon when the idea of crashing down to the ground doesn’t enter the picture.  We can dream and scheme all we want, but in order to make our dreams real, we must take action.  And when we do, this idea of failure seems to have a way of creeping in despite our best attempts to move forward in spite of it.

Failure means different things to different people.  But I think the most debilitating thing about the idea of failure is having to experience or endure some kind of pain – pain of rejection, embarrassment, loss, financial ruin – not to mention its actual physical variations.

The interesting thing to me about pain is that – thankfully – it is usually finite.  It comes and it goes.  And while we don’t always have any control over whether we experience it, we do seem to play a part in how long it lasts and how uncomfortable it gets.

As a kid, getting immunizations was terrifying. I remember how worked up I would get before the needle even came close to my skin.  And I’ve watched my kids do the same thing – even screaming or wailing before contact is ever actually made.  But a few seconds later, the injections are completed before the kids even realize it.  They get off the exam table and immediately go onto other things – except perhaps when one of them needs a little more sympathy and deliberately focuses on the site of the shot and the blood on the bandage – prolonging the unpleasant experience and making it into something far more painful than it really needs to be.

I think we do the same thing when we contemplate the pain that accompanies what we believe would be “failure”.  Our minds have a way of making it far more ominous than it ever is in reality.  And if we happen to find ourselves experiencing it, we can also fall into the trap of unwittingly making it more uncomfortable than it really needs to be.  But we can also exercise resilience and determination in our ability to bounce back and focus on something that will allow us to move forward in spite of an otherwise unpleasant experience.

Because what it really comes down to is what your experience – regardless of the way it turns out – has given you, rather than cost you.  People who have accomplished extraordinary things in the world are the first to tell you that what many refer to as “failure” has plagued them time after time – and many will tell you those experiences were prerequisites for their success.  What differentiates them from those who allowed “failure” to defeat them is that they picked themselves up, figured out what they could learn, and moved forward armed with a new awareness, a new understanding, and a renewed commitment to their greatest dreams and visions.

I think we all need a shot from time to time.  A shot of humility, compassion – and humor.  A shot that will only serve to make us stronger, more determined, and far more resilient than we were before. What great thing can YOU achieve today, knowing that you simply cannot fail?

For more on the fallacy of failure, check out Seth Godin’s post on How to Fail.

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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Living the Dream

different size white ladders with the tallest ladder leading to a red and white bullseye target the represents living the dream

What do you find easier – dreaming big, or finding a way to make those dreams come true?  Most of us have more difficulty with the latter.  If you don’t, you may not be dreaming big enough.  I remember a time when one of my clients and I were musing about what makes realizing those dreams and visions so difficult.  We felt that the toughest part is connecting the vision to reality: Identifying and executing the steps that must be taken to get from here to there.

For years, I was convinced that having a vision and goals meant perceiving a clear and specific picture of what was to come and creating a plan that would ensure that certain milestones were met at designated intervals.  I was taught that goals had to be specific, measurable, and time bound (and have spent a good part of my career teaching others the same).  I would spend a significant amount of time wordsmithing these goals and creating something similar to a detailed project plan as though I could bend reality to my will.   And then life would happen and I’d get exceedingly frustrated when things didn’t fall into place the way I had planned.

The part of us that wants to identify a course of action that mitigates risk and controls all the variables is akin to a manager, whose responsibility is to plan, direct, organize, and control.  The challenge is that preconceived ideas of what must be and all that has to happen to bring it to fruition can never take into account all the unexpected twists and turns that each day throws at us.  So, the manager in each of us needs to take its orders from a higher authority.

This higher authority is our inner leader.  The leader lives in the present, takes its cues from its inner and outer environment, and speaks to the hearts as well as the heads of its people.  It is often that part of us that rises up and recognizes when we must make a change in course in order to realize our greater visions.  It blends concrete data with intuitive hunches and moves much more fluidly.

The manager in each of us often wants to fix things and tends to place more attention on what is wrong than what is right.  It is so concerned with problems that it has a way of identifying with them and unwittingly propagating them.  The manager would have us set goals about the behaviors we want to stop, and the things about ourselves that aren’t good enough.  These goals almost always fail because they lead us to identify with the very state we wish to rise above.  We enter into them from a state of lack, and though our behaviors may temporarily change in accordance with detailed plans we have outlined for ourselves, our thoughts about who we are and what’s wrong keep us tethered and ultimately lead us to act in ways that reinforce old habits and patterns.

The leader focuses on possibilities and speaks to that part of ourselves and others that has the capability and potential to achieve it.  It sees through the eyes of someone who has already realized their goals and visions rather than identifying with the experience of not having been able to do something in the past.  The leader in each of us knows that action follows thought and invests time in identifying limiting beliefs and trading them for something more empowering.  Rather than moving away from an undesirable place, it focuses on moving toward that which it desires to create.

With the leader in charge, the manager’s willfulness is balanced with willingness – willingness to change and adapt even the best laid plans, to reach higher, and to trust that something greater than ourselves will help us get where we most need to go.

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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Lightening Your Load: Mind Over Matter

a profile image of a young woman with her hair blowing in the wind and feeling the lightening of the load

Have you ever noticed that your experience  directly reflects  your state of mind?  When our minds are cluttered, our surroundings have a way of mirroring that.  Feelings of being scattered are often accompanied by piles of unfinished business everywhere you look or lists and notes of things to do that seem to multiply.  When you feel heavy and bogged down, everything you do will feel harder and more cumbersome.

You may think that the way you feel is a result of your experiences, and that is true — the more you have to do, the more overwhelmed you will feel.  But the reverse also applies — the more overwhelmed you feel, the more you are likely to approach things in a way that draws them out — perhaps by procrastinating, making things more complicated than they need to be, or using more energy to resist and worry than it would take to actually get things done.  If we become fixated on evidence that suggests we can never rise above the way we are feeling, we trap ourselves in vicious circles where we will continue to see that which we long to rise above and feel the frustration of not being able to break free.

In fact, our frame of mind with everything we do will have a direct effect on whether the experience of doing it will be exhilarating  and satisfying or frustrating and heavy.  The stories we tell ourselves have a way of coming true – “There’s just way too much to do and not enough time to do it.  I’m too busy  to do anything fun, to take time out for my family, friends or myself, to ever get beyond the day to day and into those things I dream about…”  The way out of the traps we set for ourselves is to start not with our experiences, but our thoughts. 

One day a while back, I turned into my driveway and caught sight of the hedges that needed trimming.  “Wouldn’t it be fun to drop everything and go cut those right now – to just get out there and work in the yard for awhile?” I found myself thinking.  And then I laughed as I realized that this task that seemed so enjoyable compared to the list of things on my plate at that moment was one of the very things I was dreading a few weekends ago.  The task itself hadn’t changed, just the way I was thinking about it.

And it hit me that perhaps there was a way to transform all the things I needed to do that day  — which were really bringing me down — into experiences that could be lighter and simpler — and maybe even fun.  The key had to be in the way that I approached them – in what I was believing about them, and what I was focusing on as I did them.  As I became aware of my attitude toward the tasks at hand, I realized that I was more fixated on checking the box than I was on enjoying the experience.  And I was also swept up in the belief that the work ahead of me was going to be hard, onerous and complicated.

What if all that changed?  What if instead of believing I had to get everything done perfectly, I just played at things, took myself a little less seriously, and lightened up a bit?  And what if instead of believing I needed to get it ALL done, I just focused on what was most important — most aligned with the highest priorities in my day and in my life? And what if instead of driving solely toward the outcome, I allowed myself to be fully present in every moment that led up to it? Hmm.

Marcel Proust once said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”  And I have also heard it said that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

There is no better time to apply this than during the holiday season, when all too often the spirit of giving, joy, celebration and miracles gives way to stress, fatigue and overwhelm as harried people run themselves ragged trying to check a bunch of boxes and take care of their regular responsibilities and routines in addition to a multitude of additional tasks that often feel more cumbersome than joyful.  The paradox is that even things we do that are meant to be fun can become overwhelming when our focus shifts from the joy of doing them to the desire to get them done and behind us.

The fundamental shift must come not in what we do, or even how we do it, but what we are thinking, believing and allowing ourselves to feel about what we are doing.  To this end, setting an intention or statement of our desired experience can be very powerful.  If what we want is greater freedom and joy, more meaning and satisfaction and heightened effectiveness, we must align our thoughts around enjoying those experiences before we even start.  And we need to become diligently aware of the degree to which our thoughts stay aligned with our overarching intention.  When they drift, we can come back to them, remember what we really want, and align ourselves with the state we wish to be in once again.

In this way, we break the vicious cycle of allowing our experiences to bring us down in ways that result in more lousy experiences  —  and begin anew.  We consciously align our thoughts with what we most want, rather than letting them denigrate into the negative emotional states we seek to rise above.  Our actions align with our thoughts, and we find ourselves coming up with creative ways to simplify, get focused on what is most important and get it done while enjoying ourselves in the process – and sharing our joy with everyone around us.

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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In the Shadow of a Daunting Task

 

chess pieces with the shadow of a crown that implicates overcoming challenges in the shadow of a daunting taskDo  you ever get to a place where you’ve just run out of energy and feel like you simply can’t do another thing?  For many, this seems to happen around 3pm or so – or right after lunch.  I used to think it was just a biological phenomenon – perhaps the effect of having to digest food, or needing to eat some.  I’ve tried chocolate, but it never quite works as well as I’d like it to – and it just leaves me wanting more.

One afternoon, I felt like I hit a wall.  And I did.  It was physical as well as mental.  I actually felt the wall go up as I contemplated a list I recently made of all that I hope to accomplish in the coming weeks and months and tried to figure out where (and how) to start.  The sensation originated in my stomach and rose slowly up my chest, kind of like heartburn.  Then it sunk heavily like a boulder thrown into a pond, covering my mind with muddy residue.  My impulse was to escape.  So I left my computer and took a short break, slumping into an overstuffed chair and closing my eyes for a minute.

As I sat there, I began to think about my state and see if I could identify its cause.  It was not an unfamiliar feeling.  I had experienced it another time after our dog tore into a bag of garbage containing remnants of the previous evening’s dinner and spread it all over the yard – and again right after I opened the box containing my new wireless printer and sat staring with an aching head at instructions that may as well have been in a different language.  And then I realized that it wasn’t the work ahead of me that was causing me the angst as much as what I was believing about it.

At bedtime, when my kids were young, they would get scared by shapes in their room that they couldn’t make out.  In the absence of information, they created their own stories about what they were seeing, which usually involved some kind of monster or other unwelcome guest.  But once the lights were flipped on and they realized the shadows were simply the product of a jacket thrown over the back of a chair or a teddy bear with a large hat, they settled back into their beds and slept peacefully.

I think we do this all the time with the projects and tasks we face on a regular basis – and sadly, also with our grandest dreams and visions.  In the light of day, we see them glimmer with promise and possibility.  But in the dark, our doubts and fears creep in and have a way of distorting things.  This is the point where the skeptics welcome the optimists to reality.  But it isn’t reality at all.  It is an illusion that has been created by a frightened mind.

The stories we tell ourselves in the dark are those of peril and potential failure.  In the absence of knowing exactly what it will take to accomplish the task, project or dream and whether we will be able to execute it, we begin to identify with our doubt, which amplifies the enormity that lies before us.  The shadow of a task magnified becomes a feat that feels insurmountable.  But flip on the lights and challenge the assumptions that make a creation feel heavy, and it becomes a collection of smaller pieces that can be gradually assembled over time.  As Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Whenever I feel that heaviness that comes with completing a task, I know that I have entered my dark room.  In the absence of light, I am prone to question my ability and my nerve, compare myself to others, and amplify the work it will take to finish that task (especially the bigger tasks!).  The darkness has a way of casting shadows on everything else that needs to get done as well. But in the light, I realize all I need to do is one step at a time – and then another step – and then another step.  And each seemingly insurmountable task can be broken down into a simpler component that I can get through with even just a little effort.  I can breathe through my fear and move into each experience, letting go of the outcome and enjoying the process itself.

When I stop to think about it, cleaning up the garbage the dog scattered around the yard wasn’t nearly so miserable as I thought it would be.  And setting up the printer wasn’t either.  The other, higher aspirations can be approached in a lighter, simpler manner as well.  With this in mind, I will keep on accomplishing my tasks… one step at a time.

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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Conquering Clutter… and Other Hairy Monsters

 

Do you ever feel as though the little things you’ve left undone accumulate to the point that they close in on your space – both physically and mentally?

This video is about my experience with that phenomenon and what I decided to do about it one day.

Why conquering clutter is so important.

Just like our computers, we too can only handle so many programs running at once.  When we succumb to procrastination and do not take the time to simplify and process things that need to be taken care of, things have a way of freezing up.  In addition, our view of reality becomes warped as problems and challenges become magnified and the stories we tell ourselves about what needs to happen to get through them become frightful and intimidating.

To keep yourself from experiencing the overwhelm and frustration that comes from clutter building up in your office and in your mind, GET INTO ACTION and do what you are most afraid of.   

Key points from the video:

  • Clutter is frequently a result of not wanting to make a decision – which is often a product of not wanting to make a mistake.
  • The things we leave undone accumulate until they begin to become overwhelming.  Our space and our minds become cluttered when things take up more space than they should.
  • To bust through your clutter, go directly to the things you are most afraid of and JUMP IN!  Remember: You don’t need to get things done perfectly – you just need to get into action. 
  • Moving forward is far better than staying in the rut you might find yourself in.

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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The Weak Side of a Strength

a chain being held together to represent a weak side of a strength

 

I often conduct 360 feedback interviews for my coaching clients, which entail interviewing an assortment of people including their bosses, employees, customers, and peers to find out what the client’s perceived strengths and areas of opportunity are.  It almost never fails that the areas that get in the way of people’s effectiveness and continued success are in some way strengths overdone.

The best listeners often get so wrapped up in passively listening to others that they forget to talk or to bring their views to the forefront.  Those who have the admirable quality of being direct and letting others know where they stand can fall prey to delivering messages with a little too much force and not enough tact.  Optimism can become naiveté, and realism can become pessimism.  Thinking big can lead to overlooking the details, and those who are known for their precision are often criticized for missing the bigger picture.

Think about your unique strengths. 

What happens when you turn the volume level on them up too high?  A big part of sidestepping our pitfalls is simply becoming aware of them.  Without that, you will never know what you do not know and your strengths overdone will become your blind spots.  But when you observe yourself with awareness, you can recognize the areas that can be fine tuned and take action to keep yourself from falling into patterns that are unproductive and ineffective.

Lead with our strengths.

They are an essential part of our leadership and the uniqueness we bring to it.  It is important for us to find work that is aligned with these strengths (and to do the same for our people).  But we cannot allow our strengths to become crutches.  When we over rely on them, we are blocking other parts of ourselves that need expression.

We can begin to balance this out by recognizing others who have strengths that compliment our own and appreciating what we can learn from them.  And we can stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zone in an effort to explore parts of ourselves that do not regularly come to the table.  The more we practice these new behaviors, the better we will be able to employ them.

 

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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How Your Mindset Can Help You Overcome a Setback

Phoenix, Arizona Executive Leadership Coach Diane Bolden.

 

“Ryan, if you knew how this day was going to end, would you do it over again?” I asked him.

“Yeah.” He answered without missing a beat.

“Would you have any hesitation going snowboarding again after your wrist heals?” I inquired.

“Nah!” he replied. “Let’s come back for sure.”

This is an excerpt of a conversation I had with my son at age thirteen on the way to urgent care after his first attempt to snowboard. I was inspired by his lack of hesitation. And his courage. But most of all, with his mindset.

Mindset is the key to overcoming setbacks. Your mindset determines—to a large degree—whether you see the experience as a success or a failure. And the way you see the experience will have an enormous impact on whether or not you will try that experience again.

What’s the big deal if you don’t try an experience again?

Well, the problem isn’t so much the broken bone—in my son’s case—which will inevitably be accompanied by a certain amount of pain. The problem is letting the setback deprive you of a future that could bring you an immense amount of joy and satisfaction. And most people let seeming setbacks deprive them of joy and satisfaction more often than they realize.

It could be the proposals they poured their hearts into to that never really went anywhere. Or the promotions they were working toward for months that ended up going to someone else. Perhaps it was the first time they went out their comfort zones, only to feel as though they landed on their backside with nothing but broken bones to show for it.

Confusing Skill with Potential

You confuse skill with potential when you decide that you’ll never be good at something because you didn’t get it right the first time you tried it. Or the second time. Or the tenth time. Most people do not have a high degree of skill when they try something new. But doesn’t mean they don’t have an enormous amount of potential.

When you confuse skill with potential, you tell yourself a story that has you making an assessment of yourself based on a very limited amount of data. The story goes like this: “Boy, I was really bad at that. I’m just not cut out for it. I should leave it to other people who actually have talent.”

You allow it to keep you from trying something again. And trying something again is exactly what you need to do in order to gain the very skill you are having difficulty executing. So your story becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You miss out on the joy of ultimately mastering that skill. And so do all the people who would have benefited from what you could have accomplished if you did.

But that’ s not the only story that can get you into trouble.

Taking an Experience Personally

When you take an experience personally, you make it more about you than anything or anyone else. Your universe constricts and you become the center of it. You feel hurt and rejected, or angry and resentful. You replay events in your mind and question what you did to screw things up. You think, “if only I would have done this, or been more like that, things would have gone better.”

You become so fixated in feeling wronged or victimized that you render yourself powerless. In an effort to avoid being hurt again, you may hedge your bets, fly under the radar, try not to get your hopes up. And this act of withholding keeps you from doing the very thing that could allow you to succeed next time.

Often, setbacks have nothing to do with you as a person.

You lost a big client. Yet in retrospect, you realize the client was a huge pain in your rear end, sucking up time and energy that you could have dedicated to someone you really love to work with. And if you take it personally, you’ll keep your perfect client from seeing the very thing in you that could cinch the deal.

What If It Was Personal?

But what if it did have to do with you? What if you came on too strong? Or too meek? Or if there was something you could have done to get that promotion, keep that client, succeed with that proposal? Well, if you take it personally you may never have the courage, the confidence and the open mind it takes to solicit or receive the feedback you need and to act on it in a way that allows you to succeed next time.

There is a difference between taking things personally and learning what you could do differently next time. Taking things personally causes you to contract. And learning allows you to expand. Which will you choose?

Conclusion

My 13-year-old son reminded me of the importance of mindset in my own life.

Though it’s not likely that snowboarding will be in my future, there is a good chance that I will fall the next time I try something new. When I do, I will remember how his lack of regret and eagerness to try again kept him from an unproductive mindset.

And I will pick myself up, tend to my broken bones, and allow myself to enjoy the joy and satisfaction that comes from getting back on the slopes.

Aligning your mindset with your desired outcome is an essential and often overlooked practice – a major focus of The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group IntensiveFor more information, visit The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive.

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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3 Steps for Escaping the Hamster Wheel to Create Freedom & Flow

hamster on wheel

 

Do you find yourself running from one thing to the next with little time to really think about what you are doing and why?

If you answered yes, you are not alone.

Many high achieving professionals feel as though they have way more to do than they have time to do it. Their ambition, drive and passion have served them well, and gotten them to a nice place, but still they know they are capable of more. More visibility, more opportunity, more income, and dare I say – more freedom to enjoy their careers and their lives.

The daily grind has a way of keeping us tethered to the ground, feeling as though our best is just around the corner, if only we can get through what’s in front of us, which is often an accumulation of projects, events and other commitments that ends up growing far faster than it shrinks. Every once in a while, it becomes apparent that something’s got to give.

But who has time to slow down when there is so much more to get done?

The fantasy many of us have bought into is that if we just work longer and harder, we will get there. And despite our longing to find balance and the sweet spot that will finally allow us to relax and be more effective, we often act in ways that bring greater levels of anxiety and toil. As leaders, we also unwittingly create entire cultures of people who emulate our frenetic behavior in the name of getting ahead.

The hamster in the wheel doesn’t realize he isn’t getting anywhere.

And before he can, he must realize that he is, in fact, in a wheel. Our wheels are much more sophisticated and deceiving than those of the hamster. Because initially, our wheels do get us somewhere. It’s just that over time, they lose traction and become stuck in comfortable ruts. And we don’t realize when we’re stuck, because it doesn’t seem possible to be standing still when you are running like hell.

Are you ready to stop the madness and take things up a notch?

Can you conceive of finding a better way to do things? How badly do you want it? Bad enough to try something that goes against every compulsion you currently have to keep doing what you’ve been doing all along?

Consider the prerequisite for successful change.

Have you ever noticed that when you upgrade software, the program often needs to uninstall or extract something before it can successfully run? Gardeners know that new blossoms proliferate when the old flowers and branches have been pruned. Bargain shoppers know that stores sell older merchandise at a significant discount to get it off the shelves to make room for what’s coming in the new season.

How about you?

What tried and true ways of doing things have lost their leverage?

How willing are you to recognize that perhaps there is a better way of doing things than what you’ve done up to this point? All change begins with awareness that is coupled with desire. To move beyond your madness, try the following:

  • Pay attention to the times during the day that you feel the most anxious, stressed, or tense. Recognize the pattern of thought or behavior you are engaging in that may be causing this discomfort. This may be a prime area for you to make a shift.
  • Ask yourself some discerning questions such as, “What small, but powerful change could I make today that would allow me to be more effective and make the most of my opportunities?”
  • Notice what catches your attention in the coming days. The answers to your questions will reveal themselves to you, but you must open yourself up to them and be willing to listen.

Once you begin to notice that the patterns and triggers that create the highest degree of anxiety, stress and pressure – and the impact they are having in your life, they begin to lose their hold on you. When you open yourself to new ways of doing things, you move from a point of view to a higher viewing point – one that allows you to see solutions that may have previously evaded you. Allowing yourself to envision and believe in a new way of doing things will transform your frustration into fuel and help you summon the courage you need to overcome obstacles along the way.

If you are interested in specific strategies for breaking through old habits and patterns that no longer serve you so that you can create more freedom and flow in your work and your life, check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive.

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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How to Leverage Untapped Talent, Energy and Potential Through Behavioral Styles

 

According to Gallup, employees who exercise their strengths on a daily basis are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life, six times more likely to be engaged at work, 8% more productive and 15% less likely to quit their jobs.

But sadly, in many organizations people are not given many opportunities to do what they are best at.

Worse, some people are routinely put into situations that are dissatisfying to them, leading them to shut down and leaving an untold amount of talent, energy and potential untapped in many organizations.

Identifying what people are skilled at and ensuring the roles, projects and initiatives they work on are a good fit requires discernment and dialogue. Having a better understanding of behavioral styles and what motivates people with each of those styles can really help.

In my last post, How to Create Synergy and Collaborate with People’s Differing Styles, I explained that there are two continuums that people fall on: task versus people orientation and introversion versus extraversion. If you overlay each of these continuums, you will create a matrix with four quadrants that make up each of the four behavioral styles of the DISC Behavioral Style Model.

D = Dominance (Task-oriented + Extraverted)

I = Influence (People-oriented + Extraverted)

S = Steadiness (People-oriented + Introverted)

C = Compliance (Task-oriented + Introverted)

Today, I’ll provide you with some tips for leveraging the strengths of people that operate with each of these four behavioral styles. Remember, sometimes people operate with more than one, so you may want to check out recommendations for all that could potentially apply. See my last post for an overview on how to determine which style others most likely operate from.

Matching Work to Task Oriented, Extraverted Individuals (Style = Dominance)

People who are extraverted toward task are energized by challenges – the more daunting the better. They thrive in turnaround situations where they can make sweeping changes to save a struggling enterprise, venture or initiative.

They like to be in charge and tend to be very directive and decisive. They come to life in situations that require them to get others to act on things quickly but will quickly get frustrated if they are not given authority along with responsibility.

Those whose primary style is Dominance are big picture people who get bogged down with too many details and frustrated with anything that keeps them from taking quick, intense action. Inefficiency will drive them crazy and they will feel hemmed in when surrounded by constraints that get in the way of progress.

They prefer to work autonomously and will feel stifled by managers who hover and appear to be overly controlling.

Matching Work to People Oriented, Extraverted Individuals (Style = Influence)

People who are extraverted toward people thrive on social interaction. They like (and want to be liked) by everyone they meet and often possess the kind of charm that can win others over in a relatively short period of time. The excitement and buzz they generate around things they believe in allows them to be highly persuasive, which lends itself well to situations where influencing others is paramount.

Natural cheerleaders, they excel in situations that require enthusiasm and optimism. They have the ability to infuse energy and lightness into the dreariest of environments and often rely on humor that allows others to loosen up and get unstuck and revitalized.

Those whose primary style is Influence are also big picture people who get bogged down in details. They are highly creative and visionary people who get excited about things even though they may not have data that suggests their optimism is merited.

Because they tend to take things personally, they can be deflated by people who are overly skeptical and negative. They work best with people who support them and provide them with the data they need in a way that doesn’t rein them in or dampen their spirits.

Matching Work to People Oriented, Introverted Individuals (Style = Steadiness)

People who are introverted toward people are extraordinary listeners who hear and notice things others do not. They also have a natural tendency to diffuse tension among people who are overly stressed, frustrated and worked up – sometimes without even saying a word.

People whose primary style is Steadiness love to contribute and be of service to others and are content to operate in the background rather than the spotlight. Their ability to understand and connect with others allows them to serve as a bridge between people who are having difficulty seeing eye to eye. They gain and sustain support and buy in from others because of the solid level of trust they cultivate.

They are also very insightful, but often are unlikely to share their observations and ideas with others because they are uncomfortable drawing attention to themselves and tend to underestimate the impact they could potentially have. They do best in settings that encourage them to provide input but allow them time necessary to organize their thoughts before having to present them to others.

These people are steady, thorough, easy going and warm hearted. They can be depended on to deliver and follow through consistently, though often at a slower, more methodical pace.

Matching Work to Task Oriented, Introverted Individuals (Style = Compliance)

People who are introverted toward task strive for perfection, order and consistency. They thrive in situations where processes and procedures are clearly spelled out and place a high value on data that allows them to achieve and maintain a high level of accuracy, precision and security.

People whose primary style is Compliance have a high attention to detail. They prefer to rely on the tried and true rather than reinventing the wheel and tend to be somewhat risk averse. Because of this, they excel at making sure work is up to or above standard and nothing significant gets overlooked.

They often enjoy doing research and analysis – a welcome complement to other styles who would rather work at higher levels and surrounded by people. They do best in an environment that allows them to spend the time necessary to ensure things are done right the first time, where processes and standard procedures are clearly spelled out and enforced and high quality is essential.

Because they tend to be driven by logic and data, they can get frustrated in situations where people are overly emotional for reasons that do not appear to be rational.

What You Can Do Right Now

Think about the people who report to you or serve on teams you oversee. Use the information above (and/or see my recent article on recognizing styles) to identify what is likely to be the predominant style of each person. Ask yourself whether the projects they are currently working on and/or the roles they are playing are well matched to those styles.

You don’t need to drastically reengineer people’s jobs to ensure the work they are doing is a good fit for them. Sometimes the smallest tweaks make the biggest differences. Use your insight to begin a conversation with them that will open the door to better understanding and utilization of their talent, energy and styles.

If you would like to utilize the DISC Behavioral Style assessment to see how you and others in your organization score in each of the four behavioral styles, contact me at Diane@DianeBolden.com or give me a call at (602) 840-3627.  The assessment is completed online and will provide you with a comprehensive twenty plus page report that provides a tremendous amount of insight – including a full page on Keys to Motivating and another on Keys to Managing.

And if you are interested in learning more about behavioral styles and how you can leverage them to dramatically increase your individual and organizational effectiveness, consider enrolling in my new self-study version of Communicating With Style: DISC Behavioral Style Workshop or bringing this workshop in house.

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.

To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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How to Create Synergy and Collaborate with People’s Differing Styles

 

Are there people in your office (or your life) that drive you crazy because they insist on doing things so differently than you do? 

flower breaking through pavement to symbolize breakthroughs in dealing with people's differing styles

When all you want is a high-level overview, they drown you in details.  Or maybe you’re the detail-oriented person who gets irritated with people who insist on going full speed ahead with what seems like a very haphazard plan (or no plan at all).

Perhaps you are an eternal optimist surrounded by devil’s advocates who seem intent on proving that your greatest ideas will never fly.  Or you may be the practical realist that gets exasperated at what appears to be pie in the sky ideas that lack the scrutiny necessary to pass muster in the real world.

How do you deal with these differences?  One thing’s for sure – treating others the way you’d like to be treated is a surefire recipe for frustration when one person’s preferences are another person’s irritations.

But what if there was a way to better understand people’s differing styles – and to leverage them so that instead of frustration, there was appreciation, collaboration and synergy?

Last week I presented one of my most popular workshops, Communicating with Style: The DISC Behavioral Style Workshop to an annual meeting one of my clients regularly holds for their customers.  In this article, I’ll share with you the framework I presented to them that will give you a leg up on improving relationships with the most important people in your life – both at work and at home.

There are two different continuums of preferences that people’s behaviors fall on.  One is task versus people orientation and the other is introversion versus extraversion.

Task versus People Orientation

If you gathered a group of people together to work on a project, some of them would be very concerned about what needs to get done, what a successful outcome would look like and how it would be measured, what action needs to be taken, and who will do what.  These people have a strong task orientation.

Others would be interested in how the project impacts people and whether their interests are represented.  They’d also be intent on knowing whether the makeup of the group includes people with the skills and experience necessary to successfully serve others.  These folks have a strong people orientation.

It doesn’t mean task-oriented people don’t like people – they just think about the task at hand first.  And it doesn’t mean that those who are people-oriented don’t care about the task – they just think first about the people who are impacted by it.

Extraversion versus Introversion

There is another continuum to consider that we can overlay onto the first one.  Most people think of extraverts as those who are outgoing and introverts as those who are more shy and reserved.  This is true as it relates to people.

It is a question of where the energy goes first.  Extraverted people direct their energy outward to start.  As it relates to people, they tend to talk more than they listen, and they often do so before they give much inward thought to what they are going to say.   In the DISC Behavioral Style model, this is indicative of the I style, which stands for Influence.

Introverted people direct their energy inward first.  As it relates to people, they are more inclined to listen before they talk, and they prefer to organize their thoughts within themselves before they articulate them to others.  In the DISC Behavioral Style model, this is indicative of the S style, which stands for Steadiness.

Extraversion and introversion can also relate to task.  When energy goes outward toward a task (extraversion), it leads people to be intensely results oriented – wanting to jump into action before they have planned or considered the environ

ment.  In the DISC Behavioral Style model this is indicative of the D style, which stands for Dominance.

Introversion toward task leads people to want to plan and prepare, research, polish and perfect before taking action and/or putting something out into the world.  In the DISC Behavioral Style model, this is indicative of the C style, which stands for Compliance.

The DISC Behavioral Style Model

If you have an understanding of the two continuums, you can begin to appreciate the four different styles people tend to behave with.  Think of someone right now whose style you are curious about.

  • Is this person more task oriented or people oriented?  If she is task oriented, she is likely to be high in Dominance or Compliance.  If people oriented, she is likely to be high in Influence or Steadiness.
  • Is this person more introverted than extraverted?  If introverted, she is likely to be high in Steadiness or Compliance.  And if extraverted, she is likely to be high in Dominance or Influence.

D = Dominance (Task-oriented + Extraverted)

I = Influence (People-oriented + Extraverted)

S = Steadiness (People-oriented + Introverted)

C = Compliance (Task-oriented + Introverted)

We all have a little bit of each behavioral style within us.  Most of us have more of one style than others.   Some people are high in more than one of them.  You can have a high level of people orientation, like me, but also be a little bit extraverted and also somewhat introverted.  My style is high in Influence people-oriented and extraverted), but also very high in Steadiness (people-oriented and introverted).

How You Can Use this Understanding to Help Improve Your Effectiveness

Often people on opposite ends of any spectrum will have difficulty understanding and/or relating to each other.

As an example, task-oriented people can become irritated when others shift their focus from the task at hand and go to great lengths to ensure people feel included or are having a good experience.  And people-oriented people get frustrated when it appears those who are task-oriented are leaving people out of the equation.

But each of these people needs the other.  Task-oriented people need people-oriented people to ensure their solutions will meet the needs of those being served – and that they will buy into any changes that may be difficult for them.  People-oriented people need task-oriented people to ensure they take the action necessary to serve the people they care about within a small enough window of time to make a true impact.

Similarly, extraverted people need introverted people to help them see what they would otherwise miss and hear what they might otherwise talk over.  Introverted people need extraverted people to initiate conversations, help them come out of their shells, voice their insights, concerns and ideas and get things done.

Though people whose styles are different than our own can irritate us, when we begin to recognize that they can help us to be more effective, this appreciation leads to synergy.  It unlocks talent, potential and energy in organizations that can lead to higher morale, greater productivity, higher engagement and higher profits, market share and customer growth and loyalty.

What You Can Do Right Now

Think about what style you are inclined to utilize most.  Then ask yourself who you can partner with that is strong in areas you may not be to ensure that you can complement your approach in ways that are more likely to lead to a successful and sustainable outcome.

Encourage an appreciation of different styles and approaches within your organization.  Call attention to people’s strengths and how they complement each other.  Help them see how their unique styles allow them to do things together they would not be able to do individually.  Recognize those who go out of their way to embrace and leverage their differences and show them how it is done through your own example.

If you would like to complete a DISC Behavioral Style assessment to see how you (and/or others) score in each of the four behavioral styles, contact me at Diane@DianeBolden.com or give me a call at (602) 840-3627.

And if you are interested in learning more about behavioral styles and how you can leverage them to dramatically increase your individual and organizational effectiveness, consider enrolling in my new self-study version of Communicating With Style: DISC Behavioral Style Workshop or bringing this workshop in house.

Implications for Real Leaders

The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for people in organizations to be able to work together in ways that fully utilize the talent, energy and potential of everyone in them.  Discerning customers will choose to work with businesses that lead them to feel valued, taken care of and connected, and this is a product of how people within those businesses work together.

To find out more about how you can cultivate this kind of culture within your organization, by starting with your own leadership (regardless of your position, title or role), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.


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