Friday, June 27, 2014

How to Quiet That Inner Voice of Doubt

We all have experienced, at one time or another, that tiny voice inside our head that tells us we can’t do something or that we’re failures.
But once we start listening to that tiny voice, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If that voice tells you, for example, that you won’t give a successful presentation, then you may decide not to even try to prepare – and you actually give a rotten presentation.
Beverly Flaxington, behavioral expert and career coach, says she often has heard from successful professionals that those inner voices plague them with doubt, anxiety and stress. That may be surprising because if you’re successful, what do you have to be worried about?
“What I see is that people will often hear their mother’s voice, or a teacher’s voice, “who criticized them in their childhood and “they may have never gotten over that,” she says. “It’s much easier for them to fall into old habits and believe that they’re going to fail.”
Flaxington teaches such professionals how to practice “positive self-talk” that can turn that nasty little voice into one that is an inner cheerleader. It’s not a “Pollyanna” outlook , she stresses, but rather one that looks at the reality of the situation and turns that defeatist voice into one that is  positive – or at least neutral.
For example, let’s say the boss walks by your desk and he’s in a bad mood.
“He doesn’t say ‘hello’ to you, and your inner voice begins to say ‘you (see more here)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How to Curb Your Addiction to a Frantic Pace

There's a famous quote from “Alice Adventures in Wonderland” author Louis Carroll that says: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

Since Carroll died in 1898, it’s clear that the current-day dilemma we seem to have with rushing around and trying to get more done isn’t a new problem.  But as Carroll points out, all that hurrying doesn’t seem to pay off in getting ahead.
Leadership coach Gail Angelo would agree with Carroll, and says that the “hurry up” lives we lead are actually making us less productive. In a recent interview with Anita Bruzzese, she addresses how it’s important that we learn to slow down, even if the practice may be painful at first.
AB: What is the impact from the Great Recession when we all seem to now be doing twice or even three times the work we once did?
GA: According to a Basex study in Good Technology magazine, 2012, the average worker has 37 hours of unfinished work on their desk at any given time.  The study also reports that approximately 40% of employees say their workload has increased in the past 12 months. The combination of having more to do and the ease of continuous access through technology leave many feeling like it is almost impossible to “turn it off.”
There is often an underlying worry or anxiety that if an individual is not working or responsive 24/7, they will miss something, will be left behind, or will be perceived as less committed than others. Effectiveness and productivity begin to suffer as do relationships both in and outside of work.
AB: It sounds like we literally cannot turn it off. Are we addicted to the pace?
GA: In my practice, I have noticed that people can become addicted to the pace and more so to the adrenaline rush that can accompany the pace. Work itself or thinking (see more here)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to Find Time to Think Strategically

We often lament we’re busier than ever at work, running from meeting to meeting, firing off e-mails and trying to get something done without an interruption every five minutes.
In other words, who has time to think anymore?
If you feel like you’re always putting out fires instead of thinking about how to prevent them, you’re not alone. But that’s a trend that worries Rich Horwath, CEO of the Strategic Thinking  Institute and author of “Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking.”

“Companies that don’t carve out time for managers to think individually and collectively about their key business issues simply won’t exist anymore,” he says.
He explains that research shows that the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy is bad strategy, and companies like Blockbuster, Circuit City and Borders are living proof as “they failed to adapt to the changing needs of customers relative to their competition,” He says.
“If a leader doesn’t schedule time to think strategically, it simply isn’t going to happen,” he says.
But the cost isn’t felt just by billion-dollar companies. Horwath says that failing to think strategically can impact our own careers, no matter our jobs.
Specifically, many industries are continuing to reduce head count, which means that those who keep their jobs need to continually “build their body of expertise to remain essential to the business” and “actively learn from your daily experience,” he says.
For example, each of your work experiences such as a meeting or teleconference or customer interaction provides a learning opportunity.
“Ask yourself, ‘What was my takeaway/ learning/ insight?’ If you’re not continuing to build your expertise through new insights, you are vulnerable to becoming obsolete,” he warns.
Still, even if we commit to being more strategic in our own careers, that doesn’t guarantee others will share our enthusiasm. For those such as project managers, that can cause a lot of headaches.
Horwath says one way that project managers can gain a greater commitment from others to stick to a strategy is finding a common ground “or what you’re both trying to achieve.”
Once that is achieved, then you can gain alignment on how to get there, he explains.
“Once you’ve identified the commonality in the goals, it’s helpful to establish milestones (see more here)

Monday, June 9, 2014

3 Things You Must Do After a Demotion

Anyone who says they weren't a bit humiliated by being demoted is probably kidding.

After all, acknowledging you've been unwillingly moved down the ladder  can smart a bit, no matter how tough your ego may be. But since the job market tanked some eight years ago, more people have had to accept such a fact of life if they want to hang onto a job.

While you may be tempted to quit when you get a demotion, that's not always a smart move. You could be facing a long job hunt if you do, and how will you pay the bills in the meantime? In addition, you may face the same consequences in the future if you haven't really considered why you were demoted in the first place.

So once you get past the shock and hurt of being demoted, it’s time to think about:

  • Sitting down with the boss and try to find out exactly why this happened. Let the boss know that you’re interested in focusing on the problems and fixing them. It could be the boss will tell you that it’s merely industry restructuring, and it’s happening throughout the company. In that case, you need to consider your future job security not only with your current employer, but within the industry.

  •  Considering your overall value. Do you need to think about training and additional schooling in another area? Maybe jobs in your industry are being sent overseas or phased out because of technology. In that case, you need to seriously look at how you can get training in areas that are expected to grow and prosper.

  •  Setting new goals. With the boss's input, you should immediately establish some new goals to get you back on track. Get a professional mentor to help keep you focused and committed, and make sure you meet with the boss more frequently to ensure you're headed in the right direction.

All of this will be difficult, of course. It’s natural that you will be angry and upset, and going back to work after a demotion will be tough. Still, keep in mind that even if you want to quit, you’re still going to need a good recommendation and you’re still going to have to explain to another employer about why you left the job. So hanging onto that job is better in the short term until you figure out what you really want to do.

Of course, your decision may be that you need to look for another job. Maybe the job was never a good fit in the first place (you disliked your duties, hated the hours, etc.), and the demotion was something that resulted from your lack of full commitment to the job.

The point is that whether you decide to tough it out and earn back your old job (or an even better one), or leave the employer, take the time to make the demotion a learning experience. Was there anything you wish you had done differently?

Use what happened to do some soul-searching and find out how you can avoid tripping again in the future.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How to Know if You're a Workaholic and What to Do About It

We all put in more time at work these days, complaining that we feel we must check in with the office when we’re on vacation or find it impossible not to look at emails on the weekends.
But when has that commitment to our jobs crossed the line into something unhealthy?
Consider this Huffington Post article by Patricia Crisafulli, founder of
“My addiction (let’s call it what it is) has nothing to do with stuff. I drive a 12-year-old car, and much of my wardrobe is of the same vintage. In fact, it has nothing to do with abundance; rather it’s rooted in the opposite — scarcity.
There is never enough busyness for us workaholics, who feel so alive as we tap our busy little fingers across the keyboard, as steady as a too-rapid heartbeat. We’ve taken on the nature of sharks, believing that if we stop moving we will die.”
Crisafulli isn’t the only one to publicly admit she has a problem.
On her blog, Brenda Nicole Tan writes that her workaholism led to a flare-up of a chronic autoimmune disease that was in remission.
“Recently, faced with a couple of spotty lung x-rays and abnormal blood test results, I am now at a point where I realize I may have just done irreversible damage to myself,” she writes.

Are you a Workaholic? Take the Quiz

But what is the difference between being a workaholic and just someone who works hard? Workaholics Anonymous suggests you may be a workaholic if you answer “yes” to three or more of these questions:
  1. Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else?
  2. Are there times when you can charge through your (read more here)

Monday, June 2, 2014

You Don't Sound Like a Leader, You Know?

If you’ve worked hard and have been rewarded with a leadership role, congratulations.
Now, every time you open your mouth you can inspire, motivate, persuade and coach others.
No pressure, right?
It can be intimidating to think that your words now will have much more power. But on the downside, you also face the threat of undermining yourself if you don’t learn how to talk like a leader. Without the right words at the right time, your leadership track may be a very short one.
As entrepreneur Jim Rohn notes: “The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”
One of the keys to become a more effective leader is to monitor how others react to what you say. For example, do you feel you’re not really being “heard?” Do you hear that employees are finding you harsh and insulting? Or customers report finding you arrogant?
Any of these reactions is a sign that your communication needs to be improved. Let’s look at the mistakes you’re making that hurt your leadership effectiveness.
  1. Dishonesty. One of the things you’ll quickly learn as a leader is that there are some things you are told not to discuss with employees – and the employees will do their best to get you to tell them. Don’t lie to employees when they begin to probe – just tell them that it’s something you cannot discuss and change the subject. It’s especially important that you don’t let your guard down at something like a cocktail event where you admit, “Yeah, we never should have hired that guy.”
  2. Gushing. Constantly using words such as “awesome,” “amazing,” “unbelievable” and “incredible” can leave you with little to say when something truly needs to be recognized.
  3. Juvenile habits, ya know? Using “uptalk” where your voice ends (read more here)