Archive for July, 2009

5 Must Have Skills to Succeed At Almost Anything

 We are coming off of a pretty tough past couple of weeks with many families losing their loved ones. In my prayers this morning, I asked God for a less intense week on the emotional side so I can focus!  Although, it wasn’t my family, I could relate to the loss.

 Whether you are a Michael Jackson fan, puzzled by the Steve McNair mistress tragedy, touched by the fighting spirit of Farah Fawcett, or reflecting on a loss of your own; death brings about moments of introspection.  

 It is often during these times that we cut to the chase rather quickly on coming to terms with the reality of our own longevity.  It is during these times that we call into question our true meaning and purpose.  Many of us ponder if we are on track to our life goals or not. What are we on this Earth to do?

 All great thoughts to process; It is a great time to ponder and an awesome time to thank those in your life that you value and love.  Bring more focus this week to all of these things and begin to tackle challenges now that will make a huge difference in the quality of your life.

 Here are 5 key skills that you will need to pack along with you to succeed at almost anything including improving your quality of life.  There are many others but this is a solid must have set to get us up and moving towards our goals.

 1) Self Management“This above all, -To thy own self, be true!”   You must have a strong sense of your strengths as well as your weaknesses.  In minutes, you should be able to articulate what works for you and have the ability to quickly discern between what  a great working environment looks like for you vs a poor one.  We cannot run away from our weaknesses. Manage them too. Be honest about them and incorporate a plan around how best to manage them including calling in the experts when needed.   The better you know self, the better you will be able to choose ripe environments for you to excel.  It can be as simple as knowing your prime productive hours or as complicated as knowing the required Myers Briggs leadership style of your manager.   

2) Planning and ExecutionIt is golden to plan and platinum to act on the plan.  Your plan is just a piece of paper until you put some feet on the plan. Get that plan to walking! To be successful, you must have the ability to critically think, take in various pieces of information and translate all of that into an actionable plan both short and long term.  In parallel with planning is the execution.  It is crucial to act.  Actions separate the “wannabees” from the “get er dones!” 

3) Networking – Leaders that are the most influential, get the most done (results) and at the same time maintain high quality trust relationships are those who will have mastered the art of networking.  We were created to be in fellowship with each other.  We will not be productive long term in isolated environments.  A viable and healthy network can put your plans, ideas into action and in places where you personally cannot reach. Let your network help you achieve your dreams. Thank them often and try giving them more than you receive. 

4) An Avid and Active Learner – No one has to tell you how quickly things change in our economy. By the time you starting using your new cell phone, the manufacturer has released an upgrade.  Similarly, you want to be able to be just that flexible and agile as it relates to work.  When one program shuts down, everyone knows you can take on this new challenge because you saw it coming and was already preparing yourself in advance for the change. I know a custom builder that was excelling in the housing market builde craze of two years ago.  When that came to a screeching halt, it didn’t deter him. He took those same skills, transferred them and is now excelling at home renovations and other build projects. We have to stay on top of everything; learning, reading, exposure beyond your comfort zone and never feeling like you know it all will keep you poised well for success.

 5) Relaxing and Self Care – My brother, Marvin, would call this, “knowing when to hold and knowing when to fold.”  We have to prioritize our self care and relaxation as #1.  Stress is bad for you and bluntly, will kill you.  Being able to laugh and finding a way to manage yourself without injury even during your most stressful moments is a key to success.  According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the U.S. agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related illness and injury, 40 percent of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful. This means we need to have readily available a fire proof way to fight stress.  Think of it as a stress extinguisher. Just as you would have one ready for fire, have one handy for stress.  You may need the travel kind that you can also carry on the road (smile!!) 

Here’s to a good week of introspection and planning.  Remember to secure that stress extinguisher if you do not already have one.  Let me know how things are going.  Feel free to share your top 5 or other skills missing from the list above. 

Cheers, Barbara

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Busting Through Unwanted Habits

Many of us have a strong desire to make positive change in our lives.  This change may take on the look of wanting to change our diet, clutter, careers, finances and even our relationships. 

We most often know in pretty exact terms what life would look like if we were able walk and live in this new light.   “If I can lose 10 lbs or exercise 3X per week or move from screaming daily at my son about his dirty bathroom.  If I could save $200/week or if I can shift to a new role in 12 months or if I can complete my degree?”

Why then is it so difficult to make a shift when our goals are clear?   

While it is difficult and complex to know all of the reasons, a large portion of the answer resides in the slow motion of our habits.  It is often in the root of our day to day tasks and activities.  

I’m a recovering shoes and clothes shop a holic.   It’s been one year now since I’ve made the shift from shopping for the XXXth pair of shoes to living with less volume.   It’s been a remarkable shift for me.  The change didn’t occur however until I took a deep dive and analyzed my habits and actions in really, really slooooow motion.  The intervention that shifted me closer to my goal was stopping me at the trigger point that initiated the urge for me to make a purchase.

Perhaps you can choose 1 habit this week that you’d like to shift to get you closer to your goals.  Try these steps and share your results with someone in 4 weeks and every 4 weeks after that until you have this new habit down for 90 days.  I’d love to hear your successes and failures.  And oh by the way, I am now working on personal change #2 – how to rid of mounds of paperwork.   My approach to this shift will be the same. Treat the challenge at its root,  be honest with myself about what I’m giving up by not making this shift and get moving toward the desired change.

 Step 1:  Acknowledge the habit you wish to shift and be clear and honest with yourself about why.  What’s bringing this to your attention right now?

Step 2:  Write down the cost to you if you do not shift away from this habit.  Answer this question. What’s the impact to me now if I do not change anything about this habit?

Step 3:  Visualize what success would look like and how you would know you are being successful?  I always like to celebrate wins too.  Be sure to include recognition goals for yourself as well.

Step 4:  Enlist the help of an expert, coach or consultant.  For ex, in my case, I utilized a closet organizer. We made some key agreements on the # of shoes I’d commit to only having, # of black pants, etc. etc.   This was a huge learning for me. Sometimes you just can’t go at these things alone.  You may want a personal coach or trainer as an example for expertise and added accountability.  

Step 5: Slow down and really think about what is triggering you to sustain this habit?  It will be easier to keep doing the same old same.  Begin journaling your thoughts in the moment.  For ex.  Every time I get the urge to buy another pair of shoes, I stop myself, review my goals of being clutter free.  Before buying something new, I am now automatically thinking through the item to throw out.  I operate under buy 1 item, throw 1 out.   You’ll be amazed at what you learn about yourself from this process.

 So, give it a try and keep in mind that one key to breaking an unwanted habit is to become closely connected to your thinking.  Increase your ability to focus in slow motion and with a big microscope at the habit’s point of origin.  This will aid you greatly in busting through an unwanted habit.

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