Why Is Change So Hard?

We all have strengths and weaknesses. The best way to improve upon our weakness is to practice a new behavior, right? Practice practice practice. But how easy is that?

The answer is not as easy as you may think. We are creatures of habit; habits we aren’t even aware of. This is why change is so hard for many of us. We can learn a new behavior, sure, but how quickly…and when does it stick?

What steps should we take to sustain changed behavior?

  • Be VERY specific on the habit you would like to create (which may also be stopping a certain behavior).
  • Understand the reason why you want to change. What are the benefits to be derived from this changed behavior?
  • Create a plan of action and STICK WITH IT! Consistency is key. Stay committed to your plan.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Our brain creates pathways for behavior. We need to repeat and repeat and repeat to create new pathways.
  • Expect resistance from your body, from your moods, added stress. This is your natural resistance to creating new pathways. Don’t give up!
  • One day, and you won’t know when and where, your behavior change will become your new habit.

If you are interested in further readings on creating habits, here are some excellent books on the topic:

  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (name one of the best books of the year by NY Times)
  • Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results
  • 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to Stop Being Lazy and Get Results in Your Life

“Our actions change our minds, our minds can change our behaviors and our behavior can change the outcomes.”
–Manish Abraham

Challenge: Touch Emails Only Once – 2 Easy Tips

Let’s be honest. How many times do you read the same email message over and over again?  Guess what? The information hasn’t changed. You’re just procrastinating.

I have a personal rule: I will only read each message once, then take the appropriate action. The goal is “Inbox: 0” every day. Now, honestly, I don’t do it every day.

I do it almost every day, and I always keep my emails under a hundred. But I have met people who have thousands of emails in their inbox—with hundreds, sometimes even more than a thousand, unread. This is not helpful. Not only is it potentially bad for your personal brand, it also makes email far more time-consuming than it needs to be.

The key is not to get bogged down, to keep moving, to deal with each email message once and only once. The way you do this is to start by asking, is this email actionable? Does somebody expect me to do something with this email, or is it asking me to do something?

  • If no, there are three possibilities;
  • If yes, there are three different possibilities.

These are taken from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. And this summary will help you deal specifically with your email.

TIP 1: HOW TO PROCESS NON-ACTIONABLE EMAIL

If the answer to the question ‘Is this email actionable?’ is NO, then you have three options.

  • Delete it. Yes, there really is a delete key when it comes to email. My own philosophy is if it’s really important, somebody else somewhere in the world has a copy.
  • Add it to you Someday/Maybe list. If I don’t want to lose the idea but there’s nothing to do with it just yet, I can drag it into Evernote or a saved folder and return to it another time.
  • File it. When in doubt, file. Why? Because you can always get back to it if need be, and it really doesn’t take up a lot of space. Here is what’s important: I use one and only one folder for my filing. It’s called “Processed Email.” The reason I do this is because it keeps me from getting distracted and wasting time. The moment I have to start answering questions like, “Where am I going to file this? This is about Project X from Client Y, so do I file it in Project X? Or do I file it under Client Y? What if it’s about two projects? Do I make a copy and put a copy in each folder?” It can become very complex very quickly. And that means time down the drain. Instead, I just put it all in one folder and let the software do the searching when I need to find that message. I can get back to almost any message in a matter of seconds. It takes less time than me having to remember what folder I filed it in. But what if the email is actionable?

 

TIP 2: HOW TO PROCESS ACTIONABLE EMAIL

  • Just do it. Here is where I use David Allen’s two-minute rule. If you can take care of the action in two minutes or less, why even take the time to put it in your task list? You run the risk of losing it, not getting back to it, or not being as responsive as you’d like to be. So just go ahead and do it.
  • Defer it. It may need to get done, but it doesn’t need to get done now. So go ahead and put it on your calendar, create a reminder, but defer the action until a later time. You can drag the email to Processed and set a reminder in a task manager like Basecamp. You can also drag the email into Evernote or Notes and add a reminder. Email apps like Dropbox’s Mailbox let you defer emails with a swipe or place it on a todo list. However you manage it, the thing is to get it out of your email inbox.
  • Delegate it. I am preaching to myself here, by the way. I’m kind of a control freak, and I have this unspoken assumption that nobody can do it as well as I can do it. But the simple truth is that we’re not always the best person to handle every task. You probably have other people on your team more competent than you at one task or another. They may be colleagues. They could be contractors.

 

Recommended Resource: Robyn Marcotte’s note:   One of our favorite Podcasts is Michael Hyatt’s Lead to Win

Check it out here:  https://michaelhyatt.com/leadtowin/

 

Source: Excerpt From Michael Hyatt’s “How To Shave 10 Hours Off Your Work Week”

3 Excuses Leaders Make to Avoid Hard Decisions

Leaders have to make hard decisions, and the further you are in your leadership journey the more tough calls you have to make. As a leader, it’s important to know not only how to make tough calls, but when to make them.

All too often leaders push tough decisions down the road.  Hard decisions get more complicated the longer they’re deferred, and delays can cause more damage than whatever fallout the leader was trying to avoid.

As a leader, you can learn to recognize when you are putting off making a decision because it seems unpleasant. Here are three of the most common excuses, and their consequences:

  1. “I’m being considerate of others.” If leader is afraid of disappointing their team they might delay a tough decision. This only puts off the inevitable emotional fall-out, and gives team members less time to process their disappointment.
  2. “I’m committed to quality and accuracy.” If a leader is uncomfortable with uncertainty they may delay action under the guise of gathering more data. This behavior sends the signal that “looking right” is more important than “doing right”.
  3. “I want to be seen as fair.” Instead of recognizing high performers and coaching low performers, leaders may fall back on treating every member of their team in the exact same way. This type of behavior can undermine performance and ultimately cause friction down the line.

As a leader, how you make hard calls shapes the culture of your team, and the culture of your organization. These excuses teach team members that self-protection and self-interest are legitimate motivations for making difficult choices. Whatever temporary pain you might incur from making a tough call should pale in comparison to building a culture of thoughtful, positive decision-making.

(Adapted from Harvard Business Review)

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” – Nelson Mandela

3 Tips to Create Lasting Motivation

If motivation were an exact science, leaders would have no problem keeping their teams motivated and moving forward. From experience we know that motivation is an art that requires a mindful approach. Especially when our goal is to motivate others to do something not because they were asked, but because they want to do it. Inspiring this kind of lasting motivation is an important skill for leaders to develop.

Here are three strategies for how you can motivate others in a way that lasts:

  1. Model motivation. Make sure you are motivated, because that sets the tone for your team. If you’re lacking passion, eventually your team is going to lack passion. If you lack motivation, your team is going to lack motivation. The team follows the tone the leader sets.
  2. Create a culture of appreciation. The single biggest reason a person leaves an organization is they don’t feel appreciated. If you want to motivate, appreciate. Appreciate more than you think you should, and then double the appreciation you show.
  3. Address performance issues directly. One of the most demotivating things we can do is consistently accept unacceptable performance. Ignoring destructive behaviors means the whole team suffers.

As a leader, your role is to set up your team for success. You have the power to create a motivating atmosphere that keeps your team motivated through almost any challenge.

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

5 Powerless Words to Remove from Your Vocabulary

Great leaders are communicators who deliberately refrain from using weak, indecisive words and phrases and instead use language that injects clarity, focus, and positive expectations into their conversations. Here are some powerless words and phrases to avoid that can hinder communication and set negative expectations:

  1. “I’ll try…” Instead: be clear and firm. Candor and honesty will go farther to build trust with your customers and colleagues than “trying” ever will.
  2. “I’ll have to…” This can imply that supporting your team is a burden. Instead: replace this negative line with the hospitable phrase “I’ll be glad to…”
  3. “Basically…” This and other filler words take up space without adding value. Instead: Drop the filler entirely, and say what you intended to say.
  4. “To be honest with you…” Saying this phrase can leave your team wondering “wait… you’re not honest the rest of the time?” Instead: Remove it, and simply say what you were planning to say.
  5. “I should be able to…” This sounds like a weak commitment, and your team deserves better! Instead: tell them what you will do!

Your team takes cues from the words you use; consciously eliminating negative, powerless expressions and projecting a more positive, resourceful image will build your team’s confidence in you as a leader.

“Do or do not. There is no try” – Yoda

28 Top Books to Get Ahead in 2018

28 Top Books to Get Ahead in 2018

2018 is an open book of possibilities, and it’s time to start reading! Reading is known to be one of the primary habits of ultra-successful people, and can open up a world of new ideas and new possibilities.

Start off the New Year right by resolving to read! Here is a list of 28 business books to add to your tablet (or your night stand):

  1. Outside Insight: Navigating a World Drowning in Data by Jørn Lyseggen
  2. Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer
  3. Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships by Scott Gerber and Ryan Paugh
  4. Selling Vision by Lou Schachter and Rick Cheatam
  5. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.
  6. The Startup Hero’s Pledge by Tim Draper
  7. Leading Through the Turn: How a Journey Mindset Can Help Leaders Find Success and Significance by Elise Mitchell
  8. Surviving the Tech Storm: Strategy in Times of Technological Uncertainty by Nicklas Bergman
  9. Performance Partnerships: The Checkered Past, Changing Present and Exciting Future of Affiliate Marketing by Robert Glazer
  10. They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan
  11. Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao
  12. The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant
  13. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
  14. You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero
  15. Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
  16. Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker
  17. Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
  18. Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West.
  19. The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams by Sam Walker.
  20. The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone
  21. Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins
  22. What To Do When Machines Do Everything: How to Get Ahead in a World of AI, Algorithms, Bots, and Big Data by Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig, and Ben Pring
  23. Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything by Ulrich Boser
  24. Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm by Christian Madsbjerg
  25. Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success by Angie Morgan, Courtney Lynch, Sean Lynch and Frederick W. Smith
  26. The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach
  27. Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson
  28. Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention by John Ruhlin

That should get you started for a great year of exploring new ideas and experiencing new challenges!

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” – Amelia Earhart

5 Secrets to Balance Your Work and Life

In today’s world of constant access and fast-paced lives, everyone struggles with finding the best way to manage their energy and time. Here are five secrets to maintain a healthy work/life balance, and get the most out of every day:

  1. Identify what’s not working for you: Spend a week tracking how you spend your time, and then goals for how you want your time to be spent. Compare the two, and see what changes you can make!
  2. Establish boundaries: Making changes means setting boundaries. If you want to spend more time on creative pursuits, then carve out time and space for creativity.
  3. Set goals: Some boundaries take time to get in place. Be patient, and set long term goals that you work towards. It may be a while before your new morning ritual is in place, take steps each morning that bring you closer to success.
  4. Get support: Everyone needs support to achieve their goals, especially goals that change how you manage your relationships and time. Support can come in the form of emotional, cognitive, political, or physical support. Individuals, groups, classes, and other resources can help you connect with the support you need.
  5. Track your progress: Celebrate your successes, and recognize and learn from your mistakes. As you move towards a more balanced approach to productivity you will see the impact of your changes.
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.”– Charles Buxton

Build a Culture of Courage

Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the commitment to overcome it. Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid; it means you battle against your fear and confront it. Courage pushes you to resist the impulse to shy away from the things that stir up your innermost anxieties. Courage is required and must be a constant. It’s tiny pieces of fear all glued together.

Here are some helpful tips for building a culture of courage in your organization:

  1. Set scary standards. Your level of excellence and expectation for your product or service or experience should almost be something that is nearly unattainable. Safe goals are set by safe leaders with safe visions. Give your people a goal that scares them, and you’ll produce leaders who know what it means to overcome fear.
  2. Allow for failure. The road to success is many times put together through multiple failures. Allow for and even encourage your team to fail as they attempt to succeed.
  3. Reward innovation. Innovation requires taking risks. And bold risks create bold team members. Rewarding innovation will challenge your team to grow in their roles.
  4. Pursue the right opportunities. Not every risk is a good one. Be disciplined. Aggressively pursue a few things that make sense. Say no often.
  5. Learn to delegate. This is one of the most courageous things a leader can do. Entrusting others with important tasks requires letting go and relinquishing control. Liberally pass responsibility and authority to your team. If you want your team to be courageous, give them the chance to lead.

Source: Catalyst Leadership

“One isn’t born with courage. One develops it. And you develop it by doing small, courageous things.” – Maya Angelou

10 Simple Tricks to Maximize Your Mental Strength

man reaching for sky

Great leaders stand out for their ability to disrupt the status quo. They have the courage to make bold moves, and to innovate new solutions to old problems. Where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to overcome.

This knack for seizing opportunity when things look bleak is not an innate ability that a fortunate few are born with. Instead, it represents a mental strength that is built over time and economically used. Developing mental strength takes intention, focus, and daily practice; and so does spending your mental resources wisely. Start with these 10 practices to work out your mental muscles, and to make the most out of the mental energy you have:

  1. Establish goals: with each goal you achieve, you’ll gain more confidence in your ability to succeed.
  2. Set yourself up for success: Stop wasting your energy resisting temptation or trying to find the tools you need. Want to eat better? Stock your pantry with healthy food. Want to limit distractions? Place your phone in a drawer.
  3. Tolerate discomfort: Don’t let yourself use short-term solutions to address long term problems. Instead, taking care of things the right way the first time, can help you maintain your mental reserves.
  4. Reframe your negative thoughts: Replace overly pessimistic thoughts with more realistic expectations to help you stay on track. “This is too hard to do” becomes “I am going to have to figure out a different approach”.
  5. Seek balance between emotions and logic: You can confidently move forward with decisions when your emotions and logic are in sync. Strive for a balance that allows you to live compassionately and rationally.
  6. Work towards your purpose: Write out your personal mission statement to remind yourself why it’s important you keep going, and to help you spend your mental energy where it matters most.
  7. Look for reasons, not excuses: Acknowledge and face your mistakes so you can learn from them and avoid repeating them in the future; without wasting energy dwelling on them.
  8. Say no: When you’ve reached your limit, say no with confidence. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and allows you to successfully fulfill them.
  9. Overcome procrastination: Recognize that there is no magic time in the future where you will suddenly want to do the undesirable task. You are as motivated to complete the task now as you ever will be. Start now, and get it done! The more your practice this, the easier it becomes.
  10. Take care of yourself physically: Getting enough sleep, and eating the right foods can ensure you have the reserves you need to keep going, even as things get tough!

“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse” – Florence Nightingale

5 Easy Ways to “Pay it Forward”

man reaching for sky

We’ve all heard the phrase “Pay it forward”, haven’t we?

We’re all busy with jobs and families therefore sometimes we don’t have time to “pay it forward” in a big way.

But paying it forward doesn’t have to be something big!  As leaders in the workplace and in our communities, it’s the little things in our days that we can do to take the initiative to encourage those we interact with on a daily basis to make a difference.  Our acts of encouragement, big or small, can have a profound impact on the people in our lives.

Our actions often speak louder than our words so thinking about how you can encourage someone else, such as offering someone your place in line or simply opening the door for someone, are small acts that not only make others you encounter feel better but make YOU feel better also.

Five easy ways how we can encourage others:

  • Be specific when praising someone to make it credible, such as “You really did an awesome job organizing the recent XYZ Project.
  • Mail a handwritten note with words of encouragement or send flowers to show you are thinking of someone even when they’re not around.
  • If someone is discouraged, offer specific, practical help, such as “Would it help if I….”
  • Take time to learn the things – words and actions – that make those you care about feel appreciated.
  • Challenge and encourage someone specifically. For example, tell them, “You should go after that new position, I think you would be really good at it.”

Seems pretty simple, right? Try “Paying it forward” at least once a day for the next week. And then notice how others return the encouragement to you. What a great “Pay it Forward” cycle you’ve now created!

Courtesy of Printer’s Press

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams