Today’s session focused on crafting our Personal Leadership Philosophy and Personal Leadership Brand. This blog entry is a write-up from my notes on Personal Leadership Philosophy and the next will be on Personal Leadership Brand. Both will fall short compared to the fabulous educational & engaging presentations — all y’all should attend these sessions!! I’m not a good note-taker because I get caught up in listening and processing what I’m hearing to take detailed notes! *mea culpa*
Anna started us off by saying it all starts with values. Know your values. From those values craft your mission statement and turn that into your philosophy. Make sure to align your leadership philosophy with your values so as to avoid conflict and frustration within your life. Then, live it and breath it.
As you write your leadership mission statement know your uniqueness then highlight those traits. Your own personal ethics are a huge contributing factor to this equation. Take the time to define those for yourself.
Your mission and philosophy should be 15 words long. Simplify what you stand for – this is not meant to be complex. If you can’t recite it, you can’t live it. (an aside … that reminded me of an old story, click here to read it!)
Ask your customers why they do business with you; ask your friends what they think of when they think of you. If those answers are surprising or at odds with what you want or believe them to be perceive you as – stop. Reassess. Go back to your values and get yourself and your life in line with them. However, if they tell you something that you didn’t realize and you like it – incorporate it!
As a business/company leader, make sure when you hire people that your values are part of the interviewing process. Write the questions to elicit information to tell you if the potential staffer will fit the culture your philosophy engenders. If you hire someone based on skills but who doesn’t align with your values you can end up with a values deficit in your organization. A values deficit will lead very quickly to frustration and distrust within the company. By the same token, if your current staff doesn’t align with those values, philosophy and mission statement – coach them up or out.
For an organization to have a value-based culture and ethic, the values must be consistent then lived & breathed by leadership.
From the other side of the equation, when you are working for a company, know for yourself what values you absolutely have to possess and exemplify from your employer and which are “would be nice to have.”
Anna reminded us that generational diversity is important yet can cause conflict. Typically millennials (aka Gen Y) don’t have the same corporate loyalty as Baby Boomers, so it very important for the business’s values to incorporate what the values of the millennials. The Pew Research Center study on the Millennials is linked here. All attendees agree it will be interesting to see how those loyalty trends/patterns change as the M’s change the workforce even as we acknowledged that there are many other factors than just being part of a generation which impact individuals.
The bottom line for your leadership philosophy: base it on your values, write it out and then live it and breathe it.
Next post will be based on Cassie Schuh’s presentation on Your Leadership Brand. Check back soon!
This week is National Women’s Health Week. It started on Sunday and is celebrated through May 18th.
National Women’s Health Week is a weeklong health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. It brings together communities, businesses, government, health organizations, and other groups in an effort to promote women’s health and its importance. It also empowers women to make their health a priority and encourages them to take the following steps to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks of certain diseases:
- Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings.
- Get active.
- Eat healthy.
- Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
- Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet, and texting while driving.
Monday (the 13th) was “National Check Up Day,” a nationwide effort, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, to:
- Encourage women to call and visit health care professionals to schedule and receive checkups; and
- Promote regular checkups as vital to the early detection of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health illnesses, sexually transmitted infections, and other conditions.
Yes, it was yesterday, but if you are a woman and haven’t either already had, scheduled or getting your head around getting scheduled for your annual check-up, do so today. If you are a man, encourage the women in your life to do so. Women often serve as caregivers for their families, putting the needs of their spouses, partners, children, and parents before their own. As a result, women’s health and well-being becomes secondary. As a community, we have a responsibility to support the important women we know and do everything we can to help them take steps for longer, healthier, happier lives. This isn’t about martyrdom ladies, it is about being in a position of good health in order to take care of those who depend on you. This is the rationale behind being on your oxygen mask before you help those around you put theirs on. You can’t help anyone if you are unconscious, ill or dead.
This is also about leading. Women are often the leaders in their families. (sorry guys … just true) They are usually their heart and nerve center of their families. I remember hearing the phrase, “if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” and not understanding it. But it is so true! In this case, if the caregiver isn’t well, she can’t provide care to anyone. Taking care of our own health is the first step in leadership.
This week also kicks off our Pathways to Leadership, our summer personal leadership development series. Tomorrow morning at Rennes Health & Rehab Anna Steinfest from U.S. Bank and AFF Research and Cassie Schuh from Zaptastic Professional Coaching will kick-off the series with sessions on Personal Leadership Philosophy and Personal Leadership Brand. This series is designed to help improve and grow the participants personal leadership and I’m very excited! Every group I’m in, both personally and professionally, often focus on leadership; but most people aren’t trained in leadership or in growing their own leadership skill-set and ability. When I typed “personal leadership” into my Google search, it returned 776,000,000 results! I’d say it is an important topic! I have multiple books in my office, in my home, on my Nook, on my computer and on my Kindle app about leadership. Two of the final classes I took last year to (finally) finish my Bachelors Degree had the majority of the classes dedicated to leadership: definitions, lessons in good & bad leadership and how to improve as leaders.
Be a leader in your life. You can join us to learn in our very hands on sessions of the next 3 months, you can read some great books or attend the myriad of leadership courses available online and in person. Hand-in-hand with that education, however, is making sure you are fit to lead (thanks Prevea and Western Racquet!). And you have to be healthy to do so.
So .. focus on leadership. Focus on learning. Focus on taking care of yourself. You can’t lead anyone anywhere worth going if you don’t!
Today ends the first full week of blog posts I’ve done in a LONG time! So, to celebrate, indulge myself and to clean out my “Read Later Fast” and Bookmarks folders … today is LINKA-PALOOZA!
Let’s start with some business information links:
- On the State of Wisconsin site is a Business Wizard that covers licensing, permitting and regulatory requirements as well as some links to Federal sites.
- On October 28, 2011, the President issued a challenge to government agencies to think beyond their organizational boundaries in the best interest of serving America’s business community, and start thinking and acting more like the businesses they serve. He directed the creation of BusinessUSA, a centralized, one-stop platform to make it easier than ever for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire. It has TONS Of information on it!!
A few more related to safety – yes my theme for the week!
- Safety and Health Management Systems e-tool
- OSHA’s “$afety Pays” program can help employers assess the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses on their profitability
Two that were interesting:
The world population clock – check out us compared to China and India
And these two are because it is Friday and laughing will make the day go by faster!
First, I’m a HUGE Golden Retriever fan and I love this Golden trying to train his tiny human
And, finally, I am *such* a Sci-Fi Geek Girl. I adore this!!
I hope you had a great week and have a fabulous weekend. Don’t forget to tell your Mom or those who are like a Mom to you how much you appreciate her!
So, yes this is Occupational Safety and Health Week. I got on a bit of a roll with this topic. It really grabbed my attention folks! Probably because it is one of those things I’m sure the majority of employers don’t know they need and those issues concern me.
My goals when we had our business was to 1) cover the bills; 2) do an exemplary job for our clients; 3) keep our people employed and 4) stay out of trouble with any governmental entity that had initials they were better known by … i.e. the IRS (*shudder*) and OSHA. Those of you who regularly read here or at our social media sites know I am an early adopter of … well, everything. So, back in the day, when having Safety Plans and Hazard Materials Communication Programs were *the topic*; I was all over them. I wanted to make sure we were in-line with the rules and what I discovered is that many of our peers and contemporaries as small business owners not only were not creating plans but had no idea they needed them or that they could get in huge trouble if an incident occurred.
When I was creating yesterday’s blog post about resources for small businesses I had a sense of deja vú to those days and wondered how many of our Chamber members, 75% of whom are small employers, know that they must have a safety plan in place. I’ve been trying to think of how to make this as simple as possible, so I’ve been doing some research. It probably won’t surprise you that it isn’t simple! Go figure, right?
This post will NOT REPLACE A SPECIFIC PLAN FOR YOUR SPECIFIC BUSINESS. With that said … away we go …
If I wasn’t a Chamber Exec and I was going to pick a business I’d want to operate again, I’d own a Bed & Breakfast that was a coffee & treat shop all day with an antique shop attached and serving wine & appetizers in early evening. Maybe with books. Attached to my vineyard. I know, I know. Keep dreamin’, right?
Anyway, my business would have 9 employees because family doesn’t count and, of course, this post isn’t about liquor, food or B&B licensing so I won’t be addressing those aspects. Since I have less than 10 employees, I won’t have to maintain injury and illness records. My business wouldn’t qualify under “the low hazard retail, service, finance, insurance or real estate industry” standard since part of the business is a B&B (nope, I don’t understand how a B&B is high hazard either), but I do make it under the size exemption. *whew* That doesn’t mean that I don’t need a written safety and health program though, because I (and you) do; the question is though: what must it include?
From OSHA’s site for small employers: Each safety and health program should be tailored to fit the company, to blend with its unique operations and culture, and to help employers maintain a system that continually addresses workplace hazards. There are five elements that every effective program should have: management leadership and employee participation, workplace analysis, hazard prevention and control, safety and health training and education, and program evaluation.
What do you mean by management leadership and employee participation?
Employers and employees work together to make safety and health a priority. Employer and employee involvement communication on workplace and safety and health issues are essential. For example, this partnership can be achieved when you
- Post the company’s written safety and health policy for all to see
- Involve employees in policymaking on safety and health issues
- Take an active part in safety activities
- Hold meetings that focus on employee safety and health
- Abide by all safety and health rules
- Show your commitment by investing time, effort, and money in your safety and health program.
What is workplace analysis?
Put simply, it means to look at your worksite to see what your hazards are that you can see and identify. Then you work to either eliminate the hazard or train your employees to explain how to avoid being hurt. You are probably asking, but what is a hazard? Well, there are, of course, a lot of definitions, but at its most basic, it is anything that can cause injury or illness. Like:
- Have a cord running across a walkway? Tripping hazard! Relocate the cord or cover it with a cord cover.
- Have supplies or inventory stacked up high that employees need to use a ladder or step stool to reach? Potential fall hazard! Make sure the ladder or step stool is tall enough to reach the items without overreaching and if it is a ladder, make sure it is either well-secured or you have a plan for keeping them safe while using it.
- Using extension cords to expand your electrical capacity for computer, printer, adding machine, phone charger and lamp? Make sure they are commercial grade, have a surge protector and don’t overload the original circuit. (hint: you probably are overloading the circuit!!)
So in short, for hazard prevention and control, walk around your business and “safety proof” it, just like you childproof your house. Use a very critical eye. Invite someone else in to take a look around for you. Fix anything you find or create a realistic training to avoid the hazard. Then re-tour on a regular basis, but don’t wait for your scheduled tour-time to fix hazards and make sure your employees are empowered to fix them as well.
My plan must include (remember, your mileage may vary … this is my dream business after all!):
- a formal written policy statement regarding safety and health at my business;
- a fire prevention plan
- including things like those cords & surge protectors mentioned above as well as working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers;
- housekeeping practices; i.e.; monitoring and limiting areas where the storage of combustible or flammable materials are be kept.
- Limiting the amount of flammable and combustible materials
- Assuring that portable fire extinguishers are available, accessible and properly maintained
- an evacuation plan (how are my staff & customers going to get out in case of an emergency? are all exits WELL marked and lit? are they accessible and unblocked?
- a hazard communication program including new SDS sheets for any chemicals used at my business. This is most likely to be cleaning products for us, but could be others. If I buy in bulk size and put in smaller containers, I must make sure the smaller containers are very clearly marked as to contents and use warnings and that I have MSDS information sheets readily available. I’m going to put mine in a tabbed section of my safety plan binder. I’ve also got to be careful, and clear, about what products can be used together, which should *never* be used together and how they will be safely stored.
- a training plan for how my employees initially will be trained to learn our safety plan and how to do their job safely. In addition, since I’m going to have a small staff, it is important they understand the safety hazards/procedures for other roles as well. After all, we are all in this together.
- an ongoing evaluation plan of how I’m going to revisit these areas and not only give training but get feedback. We aren’t large enough to have a Safety Committee, but during our regular staff meetings we will make safety & hazard recognition and prevention a regular topic of discussion.
I found a great site with lots of information, AllAboutOSHA.com. From that site, I got the following that I want to make sure to share. It seems scary, but when you really read it, it is pretty much common sense:
What must we do to comply?
Employers have specific responsibilities under OSHA they must perform to ensure the safety and health of their workers. The following list is a summary of the most important ones:
- Comply with OSHA Regulations – keep your workplace free from serious recognized hazards.
- Monitor your workplace conditions to make sure they conform to OSHA standards.
- Make sure tools and equipment are properly maintained prior to employee use.
- Identify hazards for your employees by using color codes, posters, labels and signs.
- Develop/maintain safe operating procedures and train employees follow the requirements.
- Provide medical examinations and training when required by OSHA standards.
- Post the OSHA Poster (or the state-plan equivalent) informing employees of their rights and responsibilities at a prominent location within the workplace. This is available for FREE on the OSHA webpage.
- Report any fatal accident or one that results in the hospitalization of three or more employees to the nearest OSHA office within 8 hours.
- Provide employee medical & exposure records to employees or their authorized representatives upon their request.
- Identify authorized employee representatives who may be asked to accompany the OSHA compliance officer during an inspection.
- Do not discriminate against employees who exercise their rights under the Act.
- Post OSHA citations at or near the work area involved until the violation has been corrected, or for three working days, whichever is longer.
- Correct violations by the deadline set in the OSHA citation and submit required verification documentation.
Finally, don’t be afraid to call OSHA (or if like my dream business, you are a small employer in the State of Wisconsin, call WISCON). Yes, I’m serious. It is free and they will HELP you, not come in and close you down. They will tell you what you need to do and then give you time to get it done. For small employers this will likely be pretty simple and be covered by what is above. They will review what you’ve already done and help you with filling in the gaps (if any). Plus? It is free! Yes, free.
Contact for WisCon is: http://www.slh.wisc.edu/wiscon/ Phone: 800-947-0553 or (608) 226-5240. They have a number of Safety Consultants around the state. In the Green Bay area, contact Janeen Eisenman at 920-434-1866 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact for OSHA (or if not reading this in Wisconsin) http://www.osha.gov/html/RAmap.html 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or 1-877-889-5627 (TTY)
*whew* I hope this post helped you without freaking you out. The health and safety of our worksites and workers is vitally important and not as difficult as we might think. Check out the resources in today’s post and yesterday’s too to get you started. Don’t be afraid to ask the experts at WISCON or OSHA to help you.
Please let me know if you have questions, comments or a great plan you’d like to share!
90% of employers are small employers and for many small employers OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is a scary branch of the government. My husband has been in school for the last 2 years working on getting his degree in Health and Safety Management. If you have had a spouse go to school (or even take classes), you know that means everyone is in school then. So, I’ve been learning a lot more than I ever knew was to learn about this topic and have learned that while, yes, small business does have to meet requirements too – the real point is to have safe and healthy employees. Today, for Day 3 of Occupational Health & Safety Week, I want to get you some resources to meet that goal.
The OSHA website has a Compliance Assistance Quick Start guide to help you get started.
As a small business owner, providing workers with a safe and healthy workplace is critical to the wellbeing of your employees and the success of your business, whether you operate a construction business, dry cleaners, print shop, or just a regular nine-to-five office, providing workers with a safe workplace is not only critical to the health of your employees and the success of your business (recent government estimates place the business cost associated with occupational injuries at close to $170 billion in company profits) but it is also the law. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), employers must provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to your employees.
The following workplace safety and health resources from the U.S. Department of Labor‘s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will help you understand requirements that apply to your business and how to comply.
- Find the Workplace Health and Safety Requirements that Apply to You – Follow this step-by-step guide to pinpoint which OSHA requirements apply to your workplace and how you can comply.
- Request an On-Site Consultation Service – Get free advice from trained state government staff at your place of work.
- State-Specific Requirements – Some states do operate their own job safety and health programs. Check here to see which states have OSHA-approved plans and the standards they mandate.
- Training and Educational Programs – Take advantage of a wide selection of training courses and educational programs offered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for employers.
There is even an OSHA handbook for Small Business to help. Additionally, a division of the CDC, the The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a great website full of resources too.
I know it seems overwhelming, I was a small business owner and felt the same pressures trying to both run a business and not run afoul of laws and regulations. But, take a small step. Click on one of the links above and find out something you didn’t know before that can make your worksite a better, safer place for your employees. After all, without them safely able to do their jobs, what business do you have anyway?
This is Occupational Health & Safety Week 2013 in North America and we are on day 2. Yesterday’s blog was about volunteering and how that improves your health. Today I share a list of events/activities you can do at your worksite for your staff. I just this list from the NAOSH site
Event and Activity Suggestions
- Officially acknowledge NAOSH Week with a flag-raising ceremony and signing of a NAOSH Week proclamation by your mayor, community dignitaries and other government officials.
- Host a public symposium on health and safety issues in your community and work with a local business, service organization, supplier to sponsor the event.
- Host a safety day camp for school children, employees and their families.
- Launch a recognition program for safety suggestions that are put into use or enhance ongoing health and safety practices.
- Conduct an open house that focuses on health and safety. Involve suppliers. Invite local dignitaries, clients and colleagues.
- Conduct training sessions for employees.
- Partner with suppliers and community health & safety organizations to set up specific safety demonstrations, focused on safe work habits, for employees and/or people in the community, in shopping malls, for example.
- Introduce “Captain Safety” to schools, businesses, retail stores and your community in general.
- Launch a “New Worker” Orientation Manual. Conduct orientation and training sessions specific to the new and inexperienced worker.
- Sponsor a poster contest for employee’s children and create a safety calendar for your staff and clients.
- Promote NAOSH Week through articles in your company newsletter.
- Develop “Fact Sheets” for distribution.
- Introduce games, contests to test knowledge of safety & health facts and information. Ideas include cross word puzzles, “Are You Safer Than a Fifth Grader?”, scavenger hunts.
- Insert NAOSH Week messages in correspondence, memorandums and e-mails to staff.
- Display NAOSH Week posters in offices, on bulletin boards, at work stations. Encourage local retailers and businesses to show their support by displaying NAOSH Week posters.
- Use NAOSH Week mugs, wristbands, caps, t-shirts, etc as awards for safety achievements and to extend the awareness of NAOSH Week.
- Display a NAOSH Week banner/flag in a prominent location in your community. For example, the NAOSH Week banner has been seen on a railway overpass, on the side of warehouses and at events.
- Likewise, the NAOSH Week flag has been raised in public squares and proudly flown outside business locations.
- Send public service announcements (PSA) to local radio stations, and contact local media to arrange interviews or promote organization’s activities.
- Work with community newspapers to publish a special supplement featuring safety articles, advertising, the NAOSH Week logo and NAOSH Week events and activities.
- Invite school classes to tour your operations, highlighting basic safety features and the importance of working safely.
- Host a personal protective equipment fashion show.
- Plan a program for students using posters, videos and/or speakers.
- Work with local school boards to coordinate special events, special safety days or help them expand their safety efforts.
- Work with high school students to promote safety as a career.
I hope these give you some ideas. If you have more of your own or do something, please share!
This week is Occupational Safety and Health Week here in North America and since many of you come to our blog by way of our Chamber website, we are mostly connected with safety and health via the workplace. Our Live Healthy Brown County newsletter will come out tomorrow, as it usually does, but this week it will include a new feature – volunteer opportunities. You may be thinking that is because I’m always looking for volunteers for lots of things. And, I do that, yes – but we are including it because volunteering is good for your health! I was always told it helping others is good for the soul, but I’m thrilled to find it is more than that.
A few bits of information on this topic:
- Improvement of cardiovascular health. Being a volunteer can lower your blood pressure and improve heart problems. One study, done by the University of Michigan Research Center, showed that volunteers with a history of heart problems had reduced chest pain and lower cholesterol levels compared with non-volunteers.
- Lower risk of death. Another study on older adults who volunteer regularly demonstrated that those who spend time volunteering may enjoy a longer lifespan.
- Better mental functioning. Concerned about preserving your brain power as you age? An increase in cognitive (mental) functioning is yet another potential benefit of volunteering.
- Overall mind and body improvement. Volunteers have been shown to have reduced anxiety and depression and an overall sense of well-being. Volunteers have also been found to recover more quickly from surgery, sleep better, and have healthier immune systems compared to people who do not volunteer.
Volunteering provides many benefits to both mental and physical health.
- Volunteering increases self-confidence. Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
- Volunteering combats depression. Reducing the risk of depression is another important benefit of volunteering. A key risk factor for depression is social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times.
- Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy. Volunteering is good for your health at any age, but it’s especially beneficial in older adults. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering factors like the health of the participants. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.
The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research has found a significant connection between volunteering and good health.
The report shows that volunteers have greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease. The report is available by clicking here.
“Volunteering makes the heart grow stronger,” said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation. “More than 61 million Americans volunteer to improve conditions for people in need and to unselfishly give of themselves. While the motivation is altruistic, it is gratifying to learn that their efforts are returning considerable health benefits.”
The Health Benefits of Volunteering documents major findings from more than 30 rigorous and longitudinal studies that reviewed the relationship between health and volunteering, with particular emphasis on studies that seek to determine the causal connection between the two factors. The studies, which were controlled for other factors, found that volunteering leads to improved physical and mental health.
Research suggests that volunteering is particularly beneficial to the health of older adults and those serving 100 hours annually. According to the report:
- A study of adults age 65 and older found that the positive effect of volunteering on physical and mental health is due to the personal sense of accomplishment an individual gains from his or her volunteer activities.
- Another study found that volunteering led to lower rates of depression in individuals 65 and older.
- A Duke study found that individuals who volunteered after experiencing heart attacks reported reductions in despair and depression – two factors that that have been linked to mortality in post-coronary artery disease patients.
- An analysis of longitudinal data found that individuals over 70 who volunteered approximately 100 hours had less of a decline in self-reported health and functioning levels, experienced lower levels of depression, and had more longevity.
- Two studies found that volunteering threshold is about 100 hours per year, or about two hours a week. Individuals who reached the threshold enjoyed significant health benefits, although there were not additional benefits beyond the 100-hour mark.
“This is good news for people who volunteer,” said Robert Grimm, Director of the Corporation’s Office of Research and Policy Development and Senior Counselor to the CEO. “This research is particularly relevant to Baby Boomers, who are receiving as well as giving when they help others. Just two hours of volunteering a week can bring meaningful benefits to a person’s body and mind.”
Volunteering in America: 2007 State Trends and Rankings in Civic Life, a report that includes numerous measures on volunteering and civic engagement. The Health Benefits of Volunteering report builds on that by showing states with higher volunteer rates also have better health and that there is a significant statistical relationship between states with higher volunteer rates and lower incidents of mortality and heart disease.
“There is now a convergence of research leading to the conclusion that helping others makes people happier and healthier. So the word is out – it’s good to be good. Science increasingly says so,” said Dr. Stephen Post, a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and co-author of the forthcoming book “Why Good Things Happen to Good People: The Exciting New Research That Proves the Link Between Doing Good and Living a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life.”
This follow-up report issued today brings more evidence that volunteering produces significant health benefits. Those who gave social support to others had lower rates of mortality than those who did not – even when controlling for socioeconomic status, education, marital status, age, gender, and ethnicity, the report stated.
So, look for the column tomorrow to find ways to volunteer and we will give you links for even more ways to volunteer. In fact, here is the link to the Volunteer Center of Brown County’s community database to search for more!
I was perusing my LinkedIn feed yesterday and saw the article Think Big … And Then Think Bigger by Daniel Burrus and got jazzed by it. It jumpstarted some thinking for me that I wanted to share with you for this week. That was at 9am. Along the way some distractions happened that got me sidetracked, here it is now 11:34am and I’m just really starting this post. Which jumpstarted yet more thinking! Coffee could be in order for you as you peruse this post!
I am a big thinker. Many would say I’m a dreamer. I remember when I was younger someone I respected for their success said to me (insert disparaging tone) “Your reach is longer than your grasp.” I got his meaning, I was over-reaching – trying to go too far. I suppose I was at an impressionable age because it was during the same period of time someone told me I should never wear black or vivid colors so I stopped. *humph* I always say if you are going to be wrong, be spectacularly wrong! But those two comments stuck with me for a long time. After a bit it didn’t stop me from wearing colors I felt good in and it definitely didn’t stop my tendency to think and strive big.
I knew that phrase was a quote but it was a long time before I realized it was paraphrased – and incorrectly for meaning. In his poem Andrea Del Sarto, Robert Browning said, in part, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”
That’s what I believe and Mr. Burrus’s article discusses. In fact, it is his belief that no matter how “big” we think we are thinking, it isn’t big enough. He says, “Success can be defined in many ways, and I’m not telling you how to define it. I’m simply saying to take your definition of success and raise the bar on it. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that when you are thinking big, in reality you’re thinking small. There’s always a bigger big.” So true.
As much as I think big, I sometimes find myself settling for “what can I (or we) realistically do? The MacMillan Dictionary defines realistically as “in a way that seems real or is like real life” and “in a way that shows you have accepted a situation as it really is, not as you would like it to be.” Now, realistically I’m not going to have dinner at Le Meurice in Paris tonight. First of all, it is 8:14pm right now in Paris and I can’t get there in time even if the Concorde was still flying. Second, dinner alone would be $620 PLUS wine … so, not realistic at all even for dreamer me. However, when it comes to ideas, I have a difficult time with the negativity of “realistically” so I try to be honest with myself about what is possible *right now* and what is possible with time, work and planning. That is the reality I’m living in.
He goes on to say, “What’s your bigger big today? You can apply this to anything from vacations to starting a business. If you’re looking for a job right now, maybe you should be thinking about a career instead of a job. And if you have a career, maybe you should think bigger. And that is, “What’s my real calling? What was I put on this planet to do? What is the one thing that would make me not care whether it’s Monday or Friday, because I enjoy what I’m doing every day?” So think big, and then realize you just thought small. Before doing your big thing, look at what is the bigger thing, and do that instead. When you do, you’ll find that your future will be far more amazing than your past, and even more amazing than you thought it would be.”
At the Chamber, we (like all organizations) go through periodic strategic planning processes to guide the organization through a defined period of time. Questions like, “what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” and “if money wasn’t an object, what project/initiative would be first to do?” are used to jumpstart the thinking in those processes. We just went through a process late last year. And it turned out really well. We have some incredible goals that I am personally deeply passionate about. Big goals. Bigger than big goals. OMG big goals. Scare the pants off of us goals. Well, you get the point. They are BIG.
Lately though,as I mentioned last week, I’ve just been distracted and out of focus. Daily, I’ve been working off a list I create every afternoon for the next day, though I admittedly didn’t do a plan for my whole week over the weekend. I did look at my whole week for meetings and to do’s as well as scheduling in workouts for my physical and mental health; but not a really comprehensive look. However, even with a list and a plan … I got distracted. First because I’m distracted by the shiny (I’m sure I’m ADD) and second because the phone rings, people come in and staff ask questions. Which is why I am 5.5 hours since beginning this post and *still* not done!
I know, make a list, close the door and just stick with it. Riiiggghhhtt… I’ll just tell the world to buzz off. Sometimes I do … in a very diplomatic nice way, but I do. (What?! I do!!) My problem on days like today is more with refocusing and then not letting my mind wander off when one thought connects to another; and worse, not feeling bad and defeated by it. Some days I’m just “in the zone” – today is just not one of those. Not too many “in the zone” days recently. In the midst of writing this post, I found myself distracted and went to another monitor to research it a bit. I found an article that helped. For blocked mental focus it said: No motivation or fuzzy motivation; Too much distraction from the environment; and Mental blocks. Today is a bit of all 3! They recommend: “1. Focus with intensity on your task, dive totally into it and become one with it; 2. Do it for a reasonable period of time, at least 1 hour, better more; 3. Avoid any distractions by creating the necessary environment.”
Nods. Okay, got it. *sigh* still no focus. So, my fall back today because I was stuck with being scattered was meditation. I don’t meditate nearly as often as I should. I know you now have a picture of me sitting on the floor in Lotus position chanting, don’t you? Well, I don’t do that, but I put on music that helps relax me (I like the Omvana App on my iPhone), I closed my eyes and focused on breathing slowly & deeply for several minutes. Just on the process of breathing. At first I had to drag my focus back to just my breathing because I was feeling so scattered, but after a few moments I didn’t have to force myself to do it. I did need to push off conscious thoughts a few times, but I can do that more easily the longer I focus on breathing. Today, 8 minutes was enough to get me re-centered and on task.
Admittedly, today’s Big Task wasn’t a very big one. The list for today wasn’t even full of Big Things. Just a day of catching up a bit and doing the mundane things that lead to the Big Things. I’m still on Task 1 of 6 so it isn’t looking like all my tasks will get highlighted as complete today. But, today? For me? Being able to think big while being distracted is a success. And since days when I can close the door and tell the world to just.go.away. are far fewer than needed, remembering and relearning how to regain my focus when lost or just to find it to begin with has been a great big success. My grasp still is exceeding my reach, and today I grasped onto my thoughts and found purpose to keep moving along when I was sure I wouldn’t. Not heaven to be sure, but the day is not yet over, so who knows! Think big, right?
Anna Steinfest from US Bank and owner of AFF Research has been sharing some great, great articles on her LinkedIn updates lately. Really good ones! Today she shared one that has gotten me thinking, Secrets of the Most Productive People I Know by Margaret Heffernan.
I’ve been trying to get more productive. Like most people I know, I have too much to do and am going through a not-so-productive period. These times happen for me now and again. When they do, I find myself going back to what has worked for me in the past and also noticing articles or segments on television/radio shows.
This last week, I’ve been going back to writing a list at the end of each day of the things I need to get done the next day and then I’ve been going through my list each day. It makes me feel more in control of my life and definitely helps with my things getting done. Mary Kay Ash called it the “Six Most Important Things to Do Tomorrow” list. This weekend I will return to pre-planning my week. On Friday, I will take a look at my upcoming work week as I plan my “to do” list for the Monday to come and will “get my head around” what I have coming up over the next week. I know when I’ve done this previously I’ve felt much more prepared for the tasks, meetings, events and projets to be done during the week. More productive. Then, over the weekend I will plan my week and talk with my family about what is coming up so we can all plan meals and schedules; plus, I schedule my workouts in. Very important to my overall productivity – working out regularly and connecting with my family.
I’ve also been working on getting my email under control. I only read and respond to email twice a day – upon arrival and about an hour before I leave. I’ve also set up an auto-responder to let people who email me know about this practice so they don’t expect an immediate reply. I understand people I communicate with have other priorities and they will reply as soon as they can. I trust they will understand it from me as well. I also turned off the notifier sound, the number of emails in my box on the email program icon at the bottom of my screen and the notification center. Not being controlled by the *ding* of my email or the number going up over the icon or the movement on the screen is not only freeing but allows me to be focused on what I’m doing when I’m not focusing on email communications. Much more productive all the way around!
This article is one of those I’ve noticed in my current “get thyself productive” mode. The points in this article aren’t things to do, however, but rather are characteristics of very productive people. I loved them!
From the article, she says productive people:
- Have a life. Meaning – they don’t just work. They don’t work all the time. They volunteer. They workout. They spend time with their families. They spend time alone. They.have.a.life. Wow. Great concept and one my dear friend Jacque Wilson and I have been reminding each other is so important!
- Take breaks. Get up and walk away from the desk once in a while. I love the mention of “It’s one reason we often have our best ideas driving home.” I was so infamous for thinking when I got in the car, that my former assistant Jennifer, used to have a pad of paper and be sitting ready for me to call within a few moments of leaving the office for my “hey, I was thinking!” call. As an aside to this point, one of the many awesome things she did was to sort that list into “Cheryl must do,” “Jen can do,” and “someone can/must do but it doesn’t have to be Cheryl.” Heavens above I miss that woman! But breaks … take a walk around the building; go to lunch; go workout … just breath. But take a break.
- Have varying backgrounds. I’ve often said there are a lot of jobs I’ve not had yet. Of course, by that I mean I worked a number of places. I don’t know anyone (well, other than Nan Nelson at the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce) who have started and spent their entire career in the Chamber world. Most of us wandered in from elsewhere. But, working in a different industry (or a number of them) gives you flexibility and a variety of ways to look at things. Reminds me of the cure for the adage of “keep doing what you’ve always done and you’ll keep getting what you’ve always had.”
- Have great outside collaborators. I’ve said for years that everyone should have a Kitchen Cabinet. You need at least 2 and perhaps as many as 4 people who will tell you the absolute truth with their thoughts and whose opinion you can utterly trust. If you surround yourself with “yes” people you are doing yourself a disservice; however, don’t surround yourself with people who don’t believe in you and your abilities. Your cabinet should include people outside your direct industry for the same reasons as number 3 makes people very productive. Different viewpoints are so important!
She summarizes the article as:
… truly productive people have very wide and rich peripheral vision: external commitments, time to breath, multiple perspectives, and contacts. These individuals bring far more to the table than their immediate task or job requires. They’re productive because they have such rich resources to call upon: science, music, art, literature, theatre, furniture design, pot plants—you name it. There is always much more to them than ever meets the eye. What this means is that the secret to productivity isn’t a new organizer, a piece of software, or a new app. It’s having a whole life.
That really resonates with me. Yes, I’m doing the tasks and steps I know *work*, but I’m also looking at more than just doing more better.
How about you? I’d love to hear.
Good Monday morning fellow bloggers and readers. Yes, I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. Quite inconsistent. *head down* I’m going to post at least weekly though. I tend to berate myself when I don’t post on a daily basis because I did for a long time. Anyone else “beat themselves up”? Time to stop that I say.
Plus, today’s return will be a bit of a departure from most of my previous blog posts. It may also feel a tad of an odd fit from a “Chamber of Commerce.” But, if you haven’t yet read it, I’d recommend this link to Whose Voice IS this? since while this blog is ofttimes a collaborative effort and features frequent guest posts, today – it is all me folks. Thus, this one will feel a little emotional, personal and touchy-feely-warm-and-fuzzy. *shrugs* so sue me. I’m feeling a little battered today. It’s been a tough stretch of time personally and last week feel just bruising from the Boston Marathon attack to the explosion in West, Texas then Friday’s dramatic shut-down of Boston Metro area and then coupled with conversation by elected officials in our nation’s capital regarding the Constitution and whether/when/to whom it applies or not. It was just a difficult 7 days.
Today, I’m thinking about resilience. Mine, yours, ours.
First, a definition I found that works very well in my psyche:
Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after a misfortune, blessed with such an outlook, resilient people are able to change course and soldier on. Source
Second, I found an article, The Art of Resilience (also from Psychologytoday.com) that I found to be relevant, understandable and translatable. I will use it, and some salient sections as my jump-off points today.
Resilience may be an art, the ultimate art of living, but is has recently been subjected to the scrutiny of science. This much is known so far. At the heart of resilience is a belief in oneself—yet also a belief in something larger than oneself.
My own sense of belief in myself has been a little shaky of late. It happens to all of us at some point and this has not been the first time for me. If this is happening to you or happens to you in the not-too-distant future, I hope you too are surrounded by good friends and family who are good friends. I’ve often thought of my friends and family who are good friends as literal gifts from God. Listen to their supportive, honest words. Take heart from them and re-fortify your own belief in yourself with theirs. Believe in their belief in you when yours is shaken.
And belief in something larger than oneself? Critical in these times. Be it belief in your love for another, your passion for an avocation or (even better) a cause that forces your feet to the floor in the morning when you’d rather pull the covers over your head and stay in bed. I’m not talking about zealotry here, but I am talking about being dedicated to something more than just making money. If you can’t envision something today, try this one: today is Earth Day, this is Earth Week. Maybe today focus on making our planet cleaner, healthier and more sustainable.
Resilient people do not let adversity define them. They find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs. Experts argue among themselves about how much of resilience is genetic. People do seem to differ in their inborn ability to handle life’s stresses. But resilience can also be cultivated. It’s possible to strengthen your inner self and your belief in yourself, to define yourself as capable and competent. It’s possible to fortify your psyche. It’s possible to develop a sense of mastery.
Resilient people don’t walk between the raindrops; they have scars to show for their experience. They struggle—but keep functioning anyway. Resilience is not the ability to escape unharmed. It is not about magic.
I’ve always believed the only real choice we have in life is how we choose to react to what happens to us. Difficult times happen. This last week was a set of those times. Today I chose to not live in the past seven days or seven weeks. I’m just going to look forward with hope and a positive outlook for no other reason with no proof of the validity of the hope or positivity other than I choose to. Join me?
Psychologist Edith Grotberg, Ph.D., believes that everyone needs reminders of the strengths they have. She urges people to cultivate resilience by thinking along three lines:
- I Have: strong relationships, structure, rules at home, role models; these are external supports that are provided;
- I Am: a person who has hope and faith, cares about others, is proud of myself; these are inner strengths that can be developed;
- I Can: communicate, solve problems, gauge the temperament of others, seek good relationships—all interpersonal and problem-solving skills that are acquired.
I have, I am and I can. I went back to an old habit today. I wrote a new affirmation. An affirmation or personal mantra is, “Personal mantras are affirmations that we use to change aspects of our lives. Today, mantras are more widely recognized as any statement that affirms the way we want to live our lives. A mantra is a building and correctional tool for our brains. As we chant or say the mantra we are effecting change in our lives. The brain is a powerful tool for change. If we can voice our hopes and dreams for the future we can make that change happen without even realizing it. For a personal mantra to work, it has to be positive. It has to reaffirm your choices in life and establish a realistic goal you can accomplish or a life dream fulfilled.”
For me, it is something that gives me a positive focal point away from the unrelenting negativity both internally and externally. We all do … so today … on this raining Monday following a week of difficulty, challenges and sadness … join me in picking up, dusting off and moving forward positively with life. You aren’t alone, we are in this together. I’d love to hear how you are doing.