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How to be successful as a manager: Removing Obstacles

This was originally posted as one of my entries for the Personal Branding Blog (http://PersonalBrandingBlog.com)

If we asked experts what the first job of an effective leader is, the conflicting answers would be plentiful: Some would say it’s to set a vision and goals. To others it would be to motivate the group being led. A few would even venture to single out something more clever like surrounding oneself with smarter people who fill in the leader’s gaps as the most important.

To avoid joining this debate, I venture to let others battle over what the correct first job is while asserting that the most important subsequent job of a leader is to remove obstacles.

My experience as a manager, leading teams of all generations in both the corporate world and in the community has led me to the conclusion that no matter how diverse, or high performing and regardless of the group’s goals are, the best way to increase results is to remove the things that are hindering the group and its individuals from reaching it’s full potential.

These obstacles, big and small, insignificant or substantial take away from your team’s ability to do their job and fulfill established goals. It demotivates and lowers morale. It even generates frustration within the most talented people you work with, causing them to leave for greener (or at least more frictionless) pastures.

Removing obstacles may take the form of creating a new elaborate process to streamline a legacy way to doing things. It may be conducting your own analysis and confronting a boss or peer whose actions are slowing down your team or it may be something simpler.

The easiest way to remove obstacles for others is to ask them what is preventing them from doing their best. For a team of unionized call center reps I managed a few years ago, the number of obstacles was substantial. After seeing that this played itself out in endless complaints and low morale, I tackled this issue through periodic “venting sessions” where I would collect lists of obstacles, seeking to understand the obstacles discussed as opposed to refuting them. I then worked hard to remove these obstacles, some of which I could and others that I couldn’t.

The results were amazing. Not only did the length and intensity of these “venting sessions” decrease, but morale and results improve dramatically.

Results skyrocketed not because of some analytical tool or special initiative; it occurred because of the effective use of an obstacle removing mindset.

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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Are You Scared of Getting “Called into your Boss’ Office?”

Maybe it’s Hollywood, or stories from friends, mentors and parents, but it seems that a majority of us get nervous (or at least a little edgy) when we are “called into the boss’ office?”

It’s not a new thing either, but one that has probably gone back for generations when subjects were called in front of the king. Post like this are typical on career forums:

Scared of boss post

(http://www.quarterlifecrisis.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-28736.html)

In this case, the person posting didn’t know of doing anything wrong, but was still concerned.

I think the genesis of this inherent fear comes from the fact that most bosses don’t reach out to their people or “want to talk” unless (A) You did something wrong, or (B) they want something from you. Either case is not all that pleasant for you, the employee.

Recently, I even noticed the feeling in myself. Upon hearing I needed to have a “quick one-on-one” with my boss that he didn’t seem to set up with my other peers, I immediately thought about any reason that he would want to talk with me. Since there didn’t appear to be anything particularly good I feared the worst. Maybe I was in for a big job change or something bad was on the horizon for me.

What made me even more concerned with the feeling I had was that I NEVER felt this way. I noted how my friends and peers would always express fear when being called into the boss’ office, but that I always was hopeful that there was good news coming.

It ended up that just like “Paul” in the post above, my boss had some great news for me. A big career development opportunity. And the reason that no one else was having the “quick one-on-one” was because I was the only one given this great opportunity.

As I left my boss’ office, with a pleasantly surprised smirk on my face, I thought about how I could make sure not to let this fear strike my heart any time in the future I was called in by my boss.

Focus on the Good– Most people’s immediate response to being called into the boss’ office being bad, we overlook great opportunity. Realize that when your boss has really good news or needs your help with something that will help your career (or show that he/she really trusts you), they like to do it privately and often in-person.

Ask for clarity– If ever I am concerned, I look for ways to set my mind at ease. One way of doing this is to ask your boss for clarification on what will be discussed during the meeting. Saying something like, “do I need to have anything prepared for the meeting” will give you more of an indication of the meeting’s focus. If you boss shrugs off your request, it may be an indication that the topic of discussion is no big deal.

Don’t get your boss a reason to call you in for something bad– I know this one is a bit obvious, but when you are always putting out 100% effort and that you make you boss aware of any mistake you make (or a heads up when an issue may be in the making) then you will have little reason to fear being called into your boss’ office.

If what you get called in for ends up being bad, focus on the solution. Don’t immediately assume that it’s the end of the world or that your boss hates you. Instead, brainstorm solutions with your boss and solicit his/her help to correct any mistakes or avoid making them in the future. While your boss has a number of responsibilities and things on their mind, most are mindful of your well-being and want to see you succeed.

For you bosses out there, remember how being called into the boss’ office feels and don’t put your employees through the same agony you know you would have felt. Mix in some good with the bad. As Ken Blanchard says, “catch people doing things right” and let them know you are aware of it.

So next time you get called into your boss’ office, don’t immediately expect the worst. Think about the good things that can come out of it. This type of mentality will help you stay disciplined and motivated to produce the highest quality of work. And when the result of the meeting is bad, don’t leave your boss’ office without at least some idea of how to move forward and do better next time.

The Key to Your Organization’s Successful Future

With a number of the talks I have been giving at companies and universities, I recently reconnected with my alma mater. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I searched to see if some of the on-campus activities that I was involved in were still around.

Some extra curricular organizations I was involved in had been around for over 100 years prior to my joining, so it was no surprise that they were thriving as always. Yet what was more affirming was the success attained by a couple organizations that I was at the ground floor of.

One was the course I taught on Leadership through the undergraduate business school and the other was the Freshman Sophomore Business Club.

In both cases, I was not the official “founder” but was the second to have the top “executive” spot.  With the Freshman Sophomore Business Club, an organization only open to lower classmen (mostly “pre-business” majors), I was Treasurer my Freshman year and then was elected President the next. My executive team and I took on a club with 10 members (mainly officers) and grew it by over 1000%. My focus at the end of my year as President was to ensure that the next executive committee didn’t face the same problem I had; having to run a young organization with no guidance or mentoring (given that the organization’s founders left office, barely providing a thumb drive with documents they had made over the first year). I worked with my executive team to elect the next set of officers early, pair them with their predecessor and begin to operate the club with the outgoing officers actively present, providing advice and best practices.

The result has been amazing. Besides the growth of the organization, it has continued to operate even though there is almost complete turn over of officers and members every 1-2 years.

For the leadership course (that operated through a program that allows students to gain sponsorship for and teach courses to other students), I took the class as a student the first semester it was offered. One semester later when the course founder graduated, I was selected as someone to take over the course. When my graduation neared a couple years later, I enacted a plan to ensure the course would continue on long after I was gone.

Throughout the semesters I taught the course, I had other students serve as teaching assistants to me. During my 2nd to last semester in college I beefed up the number of teaching assistants and watched them closely, as I planned to choose my successor. Then finally, my last semester in college I selected a successor (who I closely mentored) and monitored how the class was doing to ensure that no issues arose. This was a recipe for success and the course is now the longest running special interest course in the entire undergraduate business school, having run continuously for the last 20+ semesters while most other courses of its kind dissolve when the creator graduates.

The reason I describe these experiences is to offer an example of why building a legacy is important to the future of an organization (or anything you are involved in), but also to point out it is something that takes focus and effort to see through.

In both cases, I made a concerted effort to look toward the future. Being a big believer that good leaders can foster success while they are present but great leaders foster success in those that follow long after they are gone, I didn’t look at the organization’s success within the context of the limited time I led it. I saw that there were certain things that needed to be done with the future in mind.

As managers, or individual contributors within any team or organization there are a number of things you can do to increase the likelihood of future success. Here are a few:

  • Share best practices, don’t hoard them. Don’t let the next cycle of leaders make the same mistakes you did. Share with them your failures, why they happened and how you would have done things differently if you could do it all over again. This will give future leaders perspective.
  • Allow the next generation of organization leaders to sink or swim, but provide a safety net. Don’t hand-hold your successors too much. Give them clear guidance but then let them run small parts of things to start. When they succeed it helps build confidence in them; when they fail, be there to help them learn how to do better. Your exit shouldn’t be an abrupt stop, it should be a gradual fading out.
  • Don’t make it about yourself, let the up-and-comers shine. Confident leaders know they don’t need to take all the credit to feel they have made a different. Let others around you (especially the future of the organization) share in the success and even be at the forefront of who gets the credit. This will inspire people to follow the lead you set while empowering them to strive to reach your vision.

It was really energizing and affirming to see that something I dedicated myself to years ago was still around and thriving. It also made me realize that the effort I put in before I exited stage-left from the organization was worth it.

Make something that is built to last; be purposeful in succession planning.

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

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Success or failure at work? You make the call

Recently I was working on an initiative for my job that involved getting some feedback from an Executive Director at my company. I had emailed him, asking a couple of questions and requesting a meeting to discuss what I was working on.

Over a week went by without a response. I found out that he was on vacation and wouldn’t be back for another week or so. A couple days after he was scheduled to come back in the office, I emailed him again. This time another week or two went back without any response. I was beginning to get frustrated. Why wasn’t he responding me? I’m sure he had a full inbox to look through when he returned to the office but surely he has cleared it out by now!

That week I was attending a meeting with a number of other local leaders and after the meeting ended I got to talking to VP at my company. I expressed my frustration about the situation and lack of response to my emails by the Executive Director, but was stunned with the VP’s response to my comment. It wasn’t accusatory or condescending, but more inquisitive.

“Why don’t you just give him a call?” she questioned.

Then it hit me. How could I have not done something as simple as picking up the phone? I realized how technology has caused us to put up so many barriers and in some ways has hurt the work relationships that are so crucial to build. We look for the easiest way for us to communicate something, instead of one that is the best for the person we are communicating with. I also felt like a bit of a moron, given that I had overlooked such a simple solution.

The next day I made the call and was able to connect with the Executive Director and get the information I needed for my project right away. All that stressing I did was for nothing and what I had built up to be a hassle in my mind, was really a simple fix.

Email is great, don’t get me wrong, but our reliance on it (especially at work) has caused us to forget about some of the most effective ways to communicate. Email can provide a better record of a conversation, but it is much easier for someone to say “no” when you ask them for something electronically. It is much harder to be turned down over the phone or in person. In using email, we also look to avoid confrontation and instead engage in a bunch of back and forth, as more questions come up or people pay half attention to what you write, asking for information that you already provided.

Talking to someone live or on the phone demands more of their attention and engages them in a way that sending an email cannot. Plus, it is a more efficient form of communication because you can get the answers you want immediately, instead of having to wait for a response (what will invariably come when you are distracted doing something else). Moreover, since many of us receives dozens of emails a day, our email may get lost among the others, while a call stands out more. One final, often forgotten, benefit of talking with someone live is that it improves your working relationship, helping you do your job better in the future.

Instead of only relying on less-personal forms of communication where tonality and urgency can be lost, go back to the “old school” and connect with people more directly.

Successful young professionals are willing to proactively pick up the phone to get what they want. They set up an in-person meeting to build a better relationship instead of just relying on technology platforms.

So go ahead and pick up the phone, or drop by your co-workers’ office instead of sending that email. Not only will it improve your working relationships, but it will help you get the answers you need faster. The worst that could happen is that you have to leave a message.

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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Millennials, here’s why it’s time to wake up!

Today I was on NPR sharing my perspective on millennials in the workplace.  Here is what I shared during the “Perspectives” segment:

Here is a link to the audio file

Here is the transcript:

Imagine how I felt, three weeks into my first job out of college and facing the thing that strikes fear into the hearts of employees across the nation. It was time for my performance review.

I wasn’t scared though, I was excited. I was expecting that my boss would give me a big raise and promotion. I was stunned when the first words out of her mouth were, “Aaron, you seem like a bright young man, but I am not sure if you even know how to do your job.” I was crushed. I thought I was doing well at work, but in reality had no idea what the working world was like.

In fact, my misguided expectations were way off. I had expected that it would be like everything else I had done in my life; that I would be given an opportunity and then rewarded for being a part of the team.

My fellow millennials, it’s time for us to wake up. The working world is not like our homes were growing up. Our bosses won’t accommodate for us like our parents did and we won’t be recognized just for showing up. It’s time for us to take action instead of just waiting to be given the careers of our dreams.

Older employees complain about our lack of engagement and inability to take on responsibility and follow-through at work. I for one hate having this stigma associated with me and know that we are better than this reputation. We are creative, enthusiastic and agile, with exciting ideas and new ways of thinking.

We need to take ownership of our careers. No one is going to hand it to us on a silver platter. We will have to earn it with consistent hard work and results. We must be coachable, willing to listen and learn from advice coming from all angles. We must be more self-aware, understanding our natural sense of entitlement and impatience that cause us to give up when we face adversity or skip around between opportunities because we will only settle for the ideal situation. Instead, we must have perspective and realize that the lessons we learn now will help us when we do find our passion.

Don’t just wait for someone to hand you the career you want. Go out there and take it.

With a Perspective, I’m Aaron McDaniel.

 

Does anyone have their own perspective that they want to share?

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

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One Sentence You Should Never Say at Work

Our jobs can be challenge amidst all the change that invariably is happening at our companies. Whether we are at a fast growing start-up, a huge corporation adapting to new market conditions and competitors or somewhere in between, odds are this is a reality of work.

No matter what your job, company or industry, there are certain principles we all should strive to uphold. From driving results to people fast learners, all have their own level of importance. One of these key categories is our attitudes. Not only will out attitudes affect the quality of our work, but it also will affect how others view us.

It makes sense to maintain a positive attitude. Besides motivating ourselves to push-on in adversity, it helps us look good amongst the team. While a negative attitude can manifest itself in many ways, from small comments like, “this new policy sucks!” to “there is no way we are going to solve this problem!” there is none worse than when you say (and think), it’s not my job.

When you have this 4-word mentality, you are a poison to your team. It shows you have the mentality that you have sectioned off your work and the value you bring to your company to a tiny box that is determined by your job description.

Here are 3 reasons you should never even think the words “it’s not my job”:

  • It limits you from career growth– If you are constantly concerned about how little you need to do to fulfill your job responsibilities or are only interesting in doing what you were initial hired and explicitly told what to do, then you will not inspire others to believe in you and your abilities. You won’t be given any new and exciting opportunities and later (if not sooner) your days will be relegated to mundane tasks that don’t matter as much to the future of your company.
  • You won’t learn anything new-If you have a “it’s not my job” mentality, your work days will not be exciting. You will most likely get caught in the routine things that you are comfortable with (truly successful people are willing to regularly step outside of their comfort zones).
  • You are being a selfish non-team player– If you are being asked to do something or see an opportunity to complete a project that may be outside of the scope of your job, odds are it is needed because there is no one doing it today. In almost every case it will help your team.

Note: This is especially true when you are working on a small team, in a new growing area of your business or are at a start-up. I once founded a start-up with a friend of mine. Routinely my business partners would say “it’s not my job.” Besides annoying me to no end, I was like, “there’s only two of us, so if it’s not your job then whose job is it?!?! Mine?”

When facing tasks that are outside of the scope of your job or that you are not familiar with, use the following 3 steps to help you contribute rock-star results:

  • Partner with someone– If there is a group that does have expertise in something you have been asked to work on, bring them into the fold. Not only will you get their expertise and buy-in, but you will learn more in the process and get the work done faster. Plus it will show good teaming, something all bosses like seeing.
  • Do your research– If you are asked to do something new and outside of the normal scope of your job, odds are the right way to do it won’t just come to you. Research ways to do the task and look for sources of the information you need to do a great job
  • Ask for help-If you aren’t able to find a partner who has the task you have been asked to do as part of their job and if you research efforts are fruitless, ask for help. Make sure to ask to the right person (preferably someone other than your boss), and show them the work you have done and how you think you should do the task instead of just blindly saying “tell me how to do this.”

Take ownership of the work you do and take new work that may be outside of the comfortable scope of your job as an opportunity to grow and learn. It will help you develop a solid personal brand.More than anything else, if you do say “Ok, I’m happy to help,” instead of “it’s not my job,” then people will take notice and before you know it you will be receiving new and exciting career opportunities.

What’s a something YOU think someone we should never say at work?

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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How to Speak to an Executive

Most of us have been asked the old cliché, scenario. “what would you say if you were in the elevator with the CEO of your company and you had to pitch him/her an idea but only had the time from when the elevator left the lobby to when it reached their floor?”

The ability to get your point across concisely and artfully to executives can mean the difference between moving up in your career or getting stalled where you are at. While oversimplified, the situation described above correctly characterizes the approach you should take when talking with an executive.

Despite the influence and responsibility they have, it is important to remember that often executives revert to almost being child-like when they reach that top level of corporations. Attention spans almost completely disappear and it is hard for them to focus on doing anything administrative without the help and support of an assistant. Every day they are bombarded with information and have to shift focus in the blink of an eye, as they have a number of areas of responsibility and lead organizations that working on many projects. When you have the opportunity to present a powerpoint deck to them or speak with them about an idea you have, you must consider their frame of mind.

That said, here are some keys things you must keep in mind in order to be successful speaking with top executives:

  • Be Brief– When speaking with an executive, get to the point. Don’t plan on going through a lot of detail on every little part of the process you went through to arrive at your recommendation. Work under the assumption that if they want to know, they will ask you. Think of it like a funnel. What you communicate to an exec is analogous of the small funnel opening. Only communicate what is essential and be able to have background information and logic on why you reached certain conclusions. The process of presenting is not about you sharing every detail, but is about you getting your main points across and getting their buy-in and support. Additionally, at meeting scheduled for 1 hour may end up being 15 minutes if the executive is late leaving another meeting and may have other commits that have come up last minute that cut the time even shorter. This happens regularly to me.
  • Be Insightful– Don’t tell an executive something they already know. Be unique and share something new. They don’t have the time to go over the same topic and details over and over. Teach them something new. When you consistently do this, then execs will know you are a go-to person and will come to you for guidance in the future. Using stories and analogies are good as well. I remember one presentation where I compared our companies operational complexities to ordering a steak at a restaurant but being expected to tell the waiter the internal temperature of the steak you wanted, the amount of salt, pepper and other spices you wanted along with the angle you wanted the grill lines to be at. It seemed to get the message across.
  • Be Prepared to Go Off-Track– I do not think I have ever talked through a presentation without being interrupted. More accurately, I don’t think I have ever gotten more than 30 seconds into a presentation without being stopped by an executive to ask a question, say on opinion or move ahead to a more specific part of my presentation. It happens. Be familiar with your presentation and able to start and stop anywhere while being able to seamlessly go back to important areas that were skipped as you follow-along the executive’s thought process. Executives see things in a unique way and may not learn a concept the same way you did.
  • Be Ready to Answer Questions– Be prepared to answer any question. While you want to keep presentations short and to the point, make sure to have a ton of back-up information. You will undoubtedly be asked something unique and need to have reference-able evidence to back-up what you are saying. Just as important, if you don’t know the answer, admit that you don’t, commit to finding an answer and then follow-up with the executive with the answer you find.
  • Be Sure to Follow-up– While it would be ideal to get a direct and clear answer from an executive after presenting, this is often not the case. Execs need time to process what you recommended and tie it in with the other dozen priorities they are juggling. Ensure that you follow-up to confirm buy-in and get approval on the best path forward. Often you will have to drive this because if you wait around for them to get back to you, you may be waiting forever.

I regularly present to executives at my company about new and exciting technologies and strategies to build revenue. While at first I was very concerned with getting my point the way I wanted to explain it, I soon learned that I had to build my analyze specifically for the executive I was reading out to, almost like I had to write in a different language I knew they understood. Being flexible is so important.

A good way to learn how to effectively communicate to executives is to treat all your interactions with co-workers like they are with an executive. They will appreciate how you value their time and you will get much better at getting your point across.

Now the next time you are in an elevator with an executive you know what to do: be brief, be insightful, be prepared to go off-track, be ready to answer questions and be sure to follow-up. And even if you are not limited to an elevator ride’s amount of time, take ownership of your communication and treat everyone with the respect that you would give an executive from your company. It will help you go far in your career, not matter what your chosen field is.

 

Does Anyone have any stories about interactions they have had with an executive or tips of their own?

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

 

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“Expect Delays”

An early morning a couple weeks ago I was headed to a work conference. It ended up that this conference wasn’t at the typical convention center or hotel. Instead, it was located at a retreat out in the woods. While scenic, the road leading there was naturally winding and heavily wooded.

At one point, where the road narrowed to one lane in each direction, there was one of those electronic signs on the side of the road that typically flashes a multi-part message. In this case, there was only one part to the message displayed. It simply read, “Expect Delays.”

From my experience, these signs usually offer justification as to why there would be a delay. It might read “Road repair ahead.” And then “expect delays” following. But this time I did not. The sign just said “Expect Delays.” Normally I would have passed by this kind of sign paying little attention, but in this case (maybe due to the early hour or the peaceful surroundings) I found a deeper meaning in the message.

Time and time again (in our careers and lives in general) we make plans. We think through all the possibilities and details, catching as many variations as we can think of. Despite this analysis and planning, we are often wrong. Things don’t go as planned.

In my career (and life), I have found that many times when “things not going as planned” it involves something taking more time than I would have expected. I generally get impatient, expecting faster results. This often leads to me giving up, or at the very least not give my 100% in following up and seeing things through.

Unfortunately, this feeling (and response) is something that plagues many millennials like me. We are used to instant gratification and feedback. We are used to getting things when we want them, how we want them. Success in your career (and life) just doesn’t work this way.

It is important for us to be patient when we embark on a journey to accomplish a goal. Whether it is something big like starting a company or something as simple as completing a project at work, realize that things won’t go as planned. Delays will invariably creep in, and if we aren’t ready for them, then we run the risk of giving up before we ever reach our goal.

While it is key to understand and anticipate delays, it is important to go one step further. We must build resiliency. The moment we get knocked down, we must get back up. Every delay that comes our way is an opportunity for another lesson that will help us avoid obstacles in the future (or at the very least will help us get over them faster).

We must also actively look for solutions. To beat these “delays,” we have to find ways to overcome them. Whether it be testing out a new strategy or flat out asking for help, it is better to fight through obstacles and delays instead of letting them happen to us.

As you drive down the road of your career, make sure to keep an eye out for delays. Often times there won’t even be a sign that tells you when or why they are coming. Remember not to just let these delays happen to you. Use them to your advantage. Take away key lessons, they will help you be smarter and more successful further down the road.

Just because you expect delays doesn’t mean that you have to like it. Meet these delays head-on; overcome them and carve out new roads of your own to explore.

What do you think about the “delays” that you face?

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

This article was originally published in the Personal Branding Blog

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Is Taking It Easy a Good Thing?

As Ferris Bueller said in the 1986 movie, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This was true then and is even more true now. Over the Labor Day weekend, I took it’s purpose to heart and did some thinking.

Our lives as professionals (or otherwise) are full of meetings and emails, commitments and distractions. For many, striking the balance between work and play can be a hard line to walk and something that is never quite mastered.

For me, this is especially true. Besides a full time corporate job, writing books, and managing my entrepreneurial ventures, I want to make sure to spend time with friends, travel and volunteer in the community. In the process of having to take care of a lot of business, the byproduct is generally busyness. With spouses, kids, aging parents and more, there is not much time left for anything else.

Recently I was cleaning out some files at home when I came across an article that my godmother had sent to me a couple years ago. It was a brief prose by Alexander Green called In Praise of Idleness.

This essay really made me think.

Looking back, I have seen how busyness has adversely affected both my concentration and decision making ability. A couple years ago, I was balancing a full time job and running two businesses, not to mention a number of other personal and community involvements. I found that my mind constantly jumped from one commitment to the next. Because of the shear number of things on my mind I found that I was looking for fires to fight. I would prioritize the most important thing with the nearest deadline and would focus on completing it as soon as I could to go on to the next thing. This was good in terms of getting many things done fast, but it affected the quality of my work. My judgment was clouded and I made some decisions that, in hindsight, were pretty stupid. They led to some failures in my businesses.

I needed to remember what Green states, “downtime is an energizing force.” He continues to reference how “idleness leads to contemplation, creativity, and inventiveness.” Taking this time creates clarity.

While it is something that I do still struggle with, I have been able to see the benefit. Whether it is setting aside 15 minutes in the middle of the day to take a walk (or at least get away from my desk) or if it is keeping one weeknight or weekend day free from commitments to have some downtime, I continue to see benefits from this. Create that time, maybe not a siesta or afternoon tea but a break at some point during the day

As Green references, there are many examples of how down time is a good thing. From Churchill’s “economy of effort” to Mark Twain, even these successful people understand the benefit.

The second step in the right direction (after setting time aside regularly) is to simplify. Think about why you are doing something, and don’t just take on commitments for the sake of being busy. Focus on what is important, and be excellent at fewer things. Steve Jobs made Apple amazingly successful through simplicity.

So remember, it’s ok to be a “loafer,” “slacker” or “bum” every once in a while. This idleness can create the clarity you need to be to reach your goals.

;

When do you think being “idle” is a good thing? (if at all)

;

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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Think Globally: Get outside of your “four walls”

Here is an article that was recently published on the Personal Branding Blog of which I am a contributor to…

With the Olympics in London underway, there is a wave of global consciousness that seems to run through many of us. Whether it is being inspired by the stories of the Olympians competing from all corners of the globe, or it’s being exposed to new cultures and ideas, a rare level of consciousness is in the air.

Besides being reminded of the diversity I have seen from the 30+ countries I have visited, and how it allows me to learn about new cultures to add to my list of future trips, this Olympic games has made me think about the scope of my thinking.

In our day-to-day lives, we have a tendency to think very locally. It’s only natural. We focus on our job, within the four walls of our office. We zero-in on a specific goal or project our boss gave us. After work, we go home and focus on what is happening within the four walls of our house or apartment. While we do use Facebook and other means to stay in touch with our friends, most of the connections we make are within the four walls of our social network.

When we strategize how to tackle a new obstacle in our career, we often rely primarily on what lies within the four walls of our past experiences as we tap into our successes and the mistakes we have made to determine the best path forward. 

Unfortunately, the best answers often don’t lie within these four walls (of our experience, social network, job, home, and so on). It is crucial to think beyond these constricted four wall areas.

Having a global perspective does two things, (1) it exposes us to new perspectives and things we have never known, and (2) it takes us out of our comfort zones.

First, when you think globally, you gain new view points and information that can help you in the future (in ways you have no idea it would). When traveling in Asia a few years ago, I was exposed to how business was conducted there. It was new and different to me and I subsequently took an interest in learning more. I was glad I did because recently, as my company has involved me in projects that require interactions with Asian business leaders, I have been able to leverage these lessons to better relate to them. This is one of countless examples.

Second, this global perspective takes us out of our normal day to day routines and places us in a new and challenging territory where we don’t always have the answer. If you are safe within your normal, “culture” or day-to-day four wall routines, it is easy to be comfortable and lose the edge you need to be an effective leader and owners of our careers. You need to be on your toes. Having a global perspective takes you beyond the focus on your job, your company and your industry and it brings you on a quest where you meet new people and get exposed to new things. Leverage opportunities to get outside of these “local” communities and branch out into something new.

While I have been passionate about improving education for a long time, it never really came into play in my career. A few years ago, I joined a non-profit organization that focused on helping socially-conscious entrepreneurs that were tackling some of the biggest challenges in a certain industry. In the process I made many connections in this space and learned about a brand new world unrelated to my career. Recently, my job responsibilities have given me the opportunity to work directly with leaders in this market and because of my wiliness to get out of my comfort zone and focus on a new “market,” I have a great foundation to accomplish my work goals with the connections I have made over the last few years.

When stepping out of your comfort zone, take it at your own pace, but make sure to stretch yourself a couple steps further than you thought you could. Go to that extra event, read that extra article, make that extra personal connection. You never knew when it will come in handy later in your career.

This global perspective garners diversity. Diversity of not only what you see, but diversity in the experiences you have. I have worked in very diverse industries from technology to consumer goods and in business functions from sales to operations to marketing. This diversity of perspectives and experiences has been extremely valuable as I have progressed in my career.

While every couple years an Olympic games (either Summer or Winter) will attract the focus of the world (you included), don’t wait until these times to think outside of your various sets of four walls referenced before. Challenge yourself, step outside of your comfort zone, learn new things and most importantly, catalog these experiences, perspectives and important information. It all will most definitely make you a better leader and a more effective steward of your own career.

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

Follow my blog by clicking the link at the bottom right of your screen.I’d really appreciate it!

If you found this article useful, then please retweet and share on Facebook by clicking Like.

And please leave your comments and suggestions below

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