Check the Boxes

Through everyone’s life and career, there will be opportunities to make changes.  Some of those opportunities will not be specifically in our plan (driven by forces outside of our control) and some will be part of the evolution of our life plans.  During decision making in either example, it’s best to have a well calculated evaluation process that is fact based to help you cut though all of the obstacles.

I call that process – Check the Boxes.

In a Check the Boxes process, as you begin considering the opportunities, identify the key items that are most important to you and that you want to ensure you either maintain or acquire with the upcoming change.  As you outline these factors give each a rating of 1 to 5.  By using this simple system, you will be able to eliminate options from your processes and focus only on those that provide a favorable rating in your system.

By way of example, let’s say that you have the opportunity to look for a new job.  This may be because you want to continue to expand your career or that your current company is making some changes and you happen to be caught up in a force reduction.  Either way, look at it as a positive opportunity to make some changes and align closer with your ideal role and goals.  I use this process often with the university students that I mentor and colleagues I work with.

Start the process by identifying all of the potential factors in looking for a new role, whether they are immediately important or not.  Factors like: company, type of industry, location, work environment, commute times, salary & benefits, travel requirements, opportunities to advance, stability of company.  While the list could go on and on, each of the factors are relevant in a position.

Once you have the broad field of factors identified, begin to narrow it down to the key items that are critical to you and give them a weight of importance.  For instance, if type of industry is one of the most critical factors, give it a high rating and as you begin to evaluate opportunities, only include ones that align with this value.  This is what I call Checking the Box.

At the end of this initial process, you should have 4 – 5 key factors that you will want to consider in your decision making process.  As you go through the process, chose to move forward with those options that have the most boxes checked.

Again, the Check the Box process is one that can be used in most decision making situations, at a personal level or professional level.  Buying a car or entering a new market.  Taking a new job or hiring a new employee.

One of the key parts to the process is being true to yourself and basing your decision on fact based logic.  Obviously emotions will always play into a decision, but by using this Check the Box process you can begin to minimize the impact of pure emotion on your decision.

As you have learned from my previous posts, I like to keep it simple.  I hope that this is another simple process for you to use in your personal or professional life.

Have a great day!

 

Keep It Simple

Over my career I have been through numerous training courses, facilitated strategic planning meetings, seminars and coaching sessions.  Many of them focused on different methods and processes to drive the success of my company or organization.  Most of them are based on complicated and convoluted processes which focus on hundreds of moving parts and different formulas.

While I am sure that the methods are based on sound underlying foundations and if utilized, could have a big impact on the performance of an organization.  Unfortunately, due to their complexity, many of the concepts are never utilized after the initial meetings.   By keeping it simple and easy to understand, the likelihood of a process being adopted is much higher.

One of the first sales training methodologies that I learned early in my career was the KISS method.  While there are many variations of the acronym, the one I learned was Keep It Simple, Stupid.  The foundation of the KISS principle is that most systems work best when they are kept simple rather than complicated; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

The KISS philosophy isn’t only for sales situations and actually originated in the 1960’s by the US Navy and Lockheed Martin from an engineering perspective.  The philosophy is also applicable to management and leadership.  If you base your leadership style on simple underlying principles, it will be easier for your team to align and follow.

Three Pillars for Keeping It Simple:

  1. Clarity of Purpose – by establishing a clear purpose at all levels in an organization, people will understand how they fit and support the broader purpose. Most people like to know that they are part of something bigger – establishing a single broad purpose across the organization helps them feel like they are making a difference.
  2. Focused Execution – without a focus on execution in an organization, the team can meander and not achieve their goals and targets. Ensuring that everyone understands the need to focus on implementing the plan will ensure targets are hit and everyone reaches success.
  3. Measured Accountability – by putting measurements in place and driving accountability in an organization your team will fully understand what is expected of them and how well they are achieving their goals. Accountability doesn’t mean micromanaging or not giving people the autonomy to achieve success in their own way.  It simply ensures that measurements are put in place to track progress toward goals and allows for course changes if necessary along the way.

While I have put these pillars in the context of leading an organization, they can be used in many different situations.  For instance in my last post, I talked about a 10 year plan (http://35.171.68.152/creating-a-10-year-plan/) – you can follow the pillars above to work your plan.  Have clarity in the purpose of your plan and each element.  Focus your execution to achieve the milestones and end points of the plan. And finally, you need to hold yourself accountable to delivering against your plan.

Upskilling – Providing Mastery and Motivation

The four motivational focus areas for employees are PAM C; Purpose, Autonomy, Mastery, and Connection.   Mastery consists of continuously learning and growing. Training is a concrete method to provide Mastery for your employees.

Training is an investment for both employees and employers, offering everyone the chance to apply new skills to their work. Employees learn new skills which can provide new opportunities, and enhance their earnings potential. For businesses Upskilling ensures that your staff are highly
skilled and boosts productivity. This gifographic from The Brighton School of Business & Management examines the world of Upskilling, looks at the advantages, and highlights a number of ways to enhance your own skill set.

Infographic from Brighton School of Business Management

The-Value-of-Upskilling-Gifographic

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #60 – Create a Bed Time Routine

I know that sounds really boring, but how exciting can you really be if you are not happy, not focused, can’t remember things, and suffer from anxiety? Those are all symptoms of not getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Since most of us have morning deadlines related to school, work, or exercise, we have to go to bed earlier to make sure we get 7 hours of sleep.

So create a bed time routine. Start by determining what time will give you 7 hours of rest and add an extra 30 minutes for transition time. You need your downtime, so start your TV watching or Internet surfing a little earlier. Be sure and turn off all electronic devices 30 minutes before you go to bed. The light from your computer, phone, and television screens send signals to your brain telling you it is day time and you should be awake. Reading a book or just spending some time thinking will help you fall asleep faster. For the first 30 days, until you have truly established a routine, you will often lay awake feeling unproductive and having hundreds of thoughts racing through your mind. But over time, as the routine sets in, you will fall asleep quickly and wake up feeling refreshed, focused, and less anxious.

Create a bed time routine, so that you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night and you will feel smarter and happier.

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Are You Waiting for the Weekend to be Happy?

It starts when we are young; sitting in classrooms dreaming about how much fun we will have on the weekend. The sheer anticipation of no class and no homework makes us happy. Then recess starts or we go to lunch and talk to our friends and find additional reasons to be happy. But as we get older and our lives and the week become more stressful, anticipation turns into expectation. We look at our crummy day at work and expect that we will be happier when the weekend comes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work.

The difference is subtle but important for our happiness. Anticipation makes us happier today as we think about positive outcomes in the future while expectation puts off happiness in the hope that something will change and we will find happiness in the future. Anticipation leaves us open to happiness today while expectation gives up today’s happiness because it will come later. The challenge is that happiness really doesn’t come later.

New research is showing that for many of us, we actually become less happy on the weekends. We build up our expectations of happiness to such a high level that we end Saturday disappointed.   Then on Sunday, we start worrying about what challenges we will face next week. It creates an unhappy cycle of not enjoying today because the weekend will be happier but then the weekend can’t make up for all the happiness we missed during the week.

The solution is to be happy today. Anticipate happiness so you can enjoy today more. But don’t give up your happiness today by expecting happiness in the future. Certain aspects of today will be stressful and crummy; so what can you find to enjoy today? Can you take a moment to be grateful for something or focus on a great memory? There is something good about today. Find it and focus on it. Do the same thing for weekends. Enjoy and be present in your weekends. Don’t think about the coming week and what you will miss or how bad it will be. Think about today and what is great about today.

Don’t wait for the weekends to be happy. Find reasons to be a little happy today and every day. Happy moments create happy days. Happy days lead to happy weeks. Happy weeks build happy years and lots of happy years create a happy life full of wonderful memories. Create a happy day!

 

Here are a few quick ways to create a happy day:

 

  1. Go to lunch with a friend
  2. Connect with someone who is important to you
  3. Take moment to think of three things you like about today
  4. Pause to remember a past vacation or happier time
  5. Think about “Why” you are working. What is your underlying motivation?

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Creating a 10 Year Plan

 

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have it all and achieve all of their goals?  Maybe you even feel that some people are lucky and have things handed to them on a silver platter?

In my experience, I have found that if you dig a little deeper you find that they weren’t just lucky, they had a plan. They have taken specific steps along the way to ensure they achieve their goals.

However, from business executives to athletes and music stars, if you peel back their story, you usually find a vision and a plan to achieve success.

So what is your plan?  Where should you start?

While it is a bit of a standard question, you need to start with what you want.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?  This is a great place to start.

Relax and visualize where you see your life being in 10 years.  What does that look like?  Look at it from a number of different perspectives.  Take your time and don’t rush yourself – really think about all of the options and opportunities…

  • where will you be working (if at all)
  • what will your family life be… spending time with kids, wife, others
  • what other interests will you be involved with – charity, community, mentorship, hobbies
  • what will your health be like

Now step back and begin looking at what it will take for your to achieve your “visualized” you in 10 years.  Separate each of the items you have in your list and begin to consider the milestones that will allow you to achieve the goal.  For instance, if you see yourself running your own company in 10 years, what do you need to start now that will allow you to succeed?  Start with understanding the expectations of the role and how you gain knowledge and experience supporting the position.

If you look at it from each of the different perspectives, you will end up with a number of paths to achieve each of your separate goals.

Write the goals down – physically write them down.  Having your goals written is important to your ability to have visibility to the goal and allow you to track them as well.  However, physically writing them down causes a deeper commitment and connection.  (The act of writing it down activates commitment centers in your brain. They help you work toward your goals even when you are not thinking about them.)

With those plans in place, begin tracking your progress.  It’s not going to help if you simply put your goals down on a piece of paper and file them in a drawer.  If you do that, in 10 years you will be cleaning out your drawers, find this list and wonder why you never achieved your targets.

In addition to holding yourself accountable to doing the things you have committed to in order to achieve your plan, have someone else help as your accountability partner.  This should be someone that you trust and will be honest with you as you work through your plan.  Your accountability partner should be strong enough to keep you on track if you begin to slip in taking actions.  While this doesn’t have to be your significant other, I would recommend that you include your significant other in the planning process because you want to make sure that you have compatible plans.  They don’t have to be identical, for instance, my wife isn’t interested in running marathons, but they should be supportive and not conflict.

Lastly, know that goals can change and evolve.  Don’t delay your goal process waiting for perfection – start today with the process to ensure a level of progress.

Start taking a level of control of your life.  Build a goal of where you see yourself in 10 years and begin taking active steps to achieving your goals… Good luck.

 

Why You Should Find a Way to Like Your Boss

Who does your review, decides on your raises, and hands out all the best projects? Who has the most influence on your day to day happiness and success at your job? Research shows that our relationship with our supervisor is the number one predictor of our willingness to stay at our job and also has a significant impact on our happiness and success. The next steps in your career, to a large extent, will be determined by your boss and more accurately, by your relationship with your boss. Your boss is not perfect, but neither are you.  Forget their imperfections, no matter how blatant and annoying they may be. Your career depends on it.

 

Do you want to find reasons to dislike them or reasons to like them?  Some people say 1 in 5 people make good bosses, others believe about every 3rd person makes a good boss. Do you want your career to be limited by whether you get the lucky 20% or 30% of the good bosses, or do you want to be successful no matter which boss you have.

To be more successful, don’t think about all the reasons your boss isn’t great. Think about how you can help them be successful, how you can enjoy being around them, and how you can be successful no matter who you work for. Create a personal relationship with your boss. Schedule lunch with them. Ask them about their families, careers, and hobbies. What is important to them? What do you have in common? The more ways you can connect, the better you will understand them and the easier it will become to appreciate and work with them. Ask about their expectations and do your best to deliver on them. Be a great employee so it will be easy for them to be a great boss. Recognize that they are people to. They have strengths and weaknesses, fears and insecurities, and hopes and dreams. Will you be a perfect boss? Or is it possible you would make mistakes and run into challenges if you were put in charge? Find time to understand their challenges and be a friend. Help them be happy and successful.

Find ways to have a positive relationship with your supervisor and you will be happier and more successful.

“You will never be a leader unless you first learn to follow and be led.” –Tiorio

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Leadership – Don’t Over Complicate It

As with many things in life, people tend to over think leadership and what it means to the success of their organization and themselves.  CEO’s, Boards, and other management often take so much time to think and re-think their vision, strategy and plan that they either never get to a point of execution  or by the time they do, the market has changed.  Additionally, by that time, their employees may have lost interest.  Leaders then become frustrated and start the infinite “do loop” process over again.

When it comes to leadership, don’t waste time overthinking it.  As Tony Jeary communicates in his book Strategic Acceleration, leaders need to look at Production Before Perfection (PBP) – a strategy that focuses on “starting instead of finishing, and then adjusting as you go”.  Think about it this way, it is a generally well accepted fact that companies measure and are measured by results.  However, you can’t produce results until you start doing something.  By sitting back and waiting for perfection, you are basically doing nothing.

Consider the Pareto Rule or the 80/20 rule – where 80% of the results come from 20% of the action.  Instead of acting, some people spend 80 percent of their time waiting for the last 20 percent of the data or information.  All of this time could be spent making progress instead of waiting for perfection.

Leadership doesn’t have to be complicated.  If you think it is, answer these 2 simple questions and you will be off to a good start and can re-evaluate and adjust as you progress and learn:

  1. What’s the WHY of your business?  People want to be part of something that has purpose and that they can understand.  By establishing the WHY of your business – setting a simple purpose for your organization, something that gives your team a reason to come to the office or do their job each day, you will see improved engagement and performance.  Purpose is something that filters down to everyone in the organization and they begin to see how they “fit” and help with the success of the company.
  2. WHO Are You?  Being a leader is much more dependent on WHO you are than WHAT you do.  People can generally see right through fabricated and scripted attempts at leadership.  Too often I see people who read a book (or a blog) and try to mimic what someone has stated as a critical leadership skill.  Leadership is about your values and beliefs and how you bring them into the culture of the organization.  Be authentic.  How are people treated?  Does management listen?  Do you allow people to follow their plans to achieve goals or do you micro-manage their every step?

Be humble and realize that individual contributors are just as critical (probably more critical) as the senior leadership in an organization.  Everyone contributes in their own way and if you set the right purpose for the organization and it is filtered down to every employee, the sum of the parts will be greater than any single individual.

Being a leader may be challenging at times, but don’t over complicate the role with by overthinking your plan.  Even if you know that you are only 80% there… get started and adjust along the way.

Should You Ask Your Employees if they are Happy?

Research shows that happier people are more productive, more creative, work better on teams, have stronger relationships, and make better managers. Who would you rather have talking to your clients, grumpy people or happy people? Given that the research shows that happier people are more successful and help companies become more successful, why don’t more companies measure and influence employee happiness?

The answer is in the question.  Companies know they can’t manage or control employee happiness, they can only influence it.

  1. People have varying levels of happiness that is influenced by a multitude of scenarios going on in their lives so a company can’t provide a one size fits all or one correct solution.
  2. Measuring happiness is imprecise at best and companies have been taught to look for clear objective measurements.
  3. Most scarily, when companies ask employees if they are happy or why they are not happy, what do they do with that information? It will require hard work from creative authentic leaders to address the real issues people and companies face, but have so far ignored.

 

 Happiness is the Next Step in Well-Being Management

Happiness is known more scientifically as Emotional Well-being and the measurements and challenges are very similar to the corporate push for influencing physical well-being. In the early 2000’s a proliferation of scientific studies began to convince corporations that blood pressure, cholesterol levels, weight, and habits like smoking were indicators that their employees were not physically healthy.  Additionally, these studies showed that unhealthy employees were expensive because of insurance costs, productivity lost to sick days and hospital visits. To be fair, the leaders in most of the organizations also cared about their employees’ well-being and put programs in place to help improve well-being.  Happiness is the next natural step in this well-being process.

Manage Their Minds, not Butts in Seats

Our current day management practices were created in the 40’s for manufacturing businesses. Companies were focused on whether employees showed up, held their position on the line, and how many nuts they attached to the bolts. Today we are managing knowledgeable workers in a totally different environment and our management practices have to evolve.  We can no longer focus on butts in seats. We have to focus on managing the psychology of our people. Positive, excited, and motivated minds are going to be significantly more productive than depressed negatives ones.

Today’s technology enables our teams to work from anywhere. Instead of focusing on where they are working or when they are working, we should focus on whether they are in the best mindset to produce for their teams and the company.  Manage positive minds rather than butts in seats.

 Happiness Measurement is Proliferating

Happiness is being recognized by more and more people, organizations, and even governments.  In 2011 the United Nations created Resolution 65/309 and placed happiness on the global development agenda and they released a World Happiness Report. The National Institute of Management created the GNH – or Gross National Happiness Index.  The UK, India, Canada, Bhutan, and many other countries, as well as US cities have already made happiness measurement a part of their infrastructure. Since 2009, Gallup has been conducting an annual happiness survey. There is a push to measure happiness and engagement on a daily and weekly basis now, instead of an annual basis and companies are springing up all over the world to fill that void. Happiness measurement is here.  It is not a matter of if your company will adopt it but when.

A recent report by Deloitte, titled Trends in Global Human Capital identified culture and engagement as top issues that need to be addressed by organizations. An organization’s ability to create an atmosphere that highlights opportunities for happiness is quickly becoming a differentiator in their ability to attract top talent so they can win in the marketplace rather than falling behind.

Q: Should you ask your employees if they are happy?

A: Only if you care about them and the future success of your organization.

 

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Are you running towards success or away from failure?

To successfully live the life we choose, we will have to prioritize our actions, and not meet the expectations of some people we love and respect. This will feel like failure. Many of us try desperately to avoid these kinds of failures. It is important to understand that it is impossible to meet all the expectations of everyone in our lives. We can try and struggle; but eventually we become overwhelmed, and it all comes crashing down. We have to choose to take actions that lead to our success and happiness, rather than choosing actions that prevent us from failing.

When we are presented with expectations that don’t fit into our action plan, we can politely reset those expectations. We can let people know that what they expect is important, but it is not something we can commit to because it doesn’t fit into our action plan for success. This is extremely difficult and one of the biggest challenges you will face. But it is critical to your ability to be successful and happy on a daily basis.

Many of the expectations sneak up on us. If your long-term goal is to be healthy, but your boss needs you to start a new project, do you skip your workout to get it done? The answer may be yes once, but how many other times will you say yes? Can you skip your workout for a week, for a month, for six months? We tend to believe that this is a one-time thing, and it won’t happen again. But those expectations don’t get smaller and fewer. They grow.

Even worse, by skipping your workout, you reduce your energy levels and your productivity, which affects your ability to complete the project. You can instead set expectations with your boss that exercise is an important part of your success and you will complete the project first thing the next morning when you will have more energy and can be more focused. You could also communicate that you will skip your workout this time, but you would prefer to fit workouts in as well as work projects. Ninety percent of the time, your boss will understand. They will have similar goals, or at least respect your sticking to your goals. Sometimes, however, they won’t. You will have to decide whether it is worth sacrificing your long-term health for a boss that is not going to support your long-term success. Are you going to sacrifice success because you are avoiding failure? Hard work and long hours are part of career success. But they will be more productive and you will be more successful if you fit them into a well-rounded action plan that supports your happiness and success. If you feel like you are making the choices, you will be happier and more successful than if you are forced by expectations to do things that don’t fit into your action plan.

Marriage and family are other examples. If your long term goal is a strong relationship with your kids or romantic partner, should you take on those extra projects or volunteer opportunities? Letting them pass you by feels like failure. Do they fit into your goals and action plan? Can you commit to them and still meet your goals related to your relationships? Can you still do what you need to do every day to be successful in your relationships? Success and happiness require that on a daily basis we choose actions consistent with our goals and action plans, and that we say no to opportunities and expectations that will interfere with our long-term success. We have to let go of the belief that everything is important and that we can always fit one more thing into our lives. These are difficult and emotionally charged decisions. They will require that we continuously find anchors in our Higher Purpose, definition of success, goals, and action plans. We have to believe that prioritizing our actions daily will lead to success and happiness. It is critical that we stop using our energy to avoid failure and start directing it toward daily success.

Don’t run away from failure; run toward success. Prioritize the actions in your life so they represent success on a daily basis. Prioritize and stick to an action plan that leads you toward your milestones for success.

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.