Archive for Personnel Skills

Sep
20

Fishing for Ideas: The Value of Reflection

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fishing-for-ideasDo you make time to stop for reflection?  Do you ponder information for more than a moment or two or do you quickly process and move on?

No, I’m not talking about the negative spirals where we deconstruct things done wrong, but rather that the deep, thought filled introspection on something meaningful.  The place you go mentally to ask yourself “I wonder” and “what if”, considering something from multiple viewpoints.

I’ve observed that we are busy, busy, busy these days.  We tell ourselves “have to keep up”, “I’ll get passed by”, “have to get this done now, no choice”, or “I don’t want to drop the ball and look bad”.  We all rationalize the need to keep moving.  It can often feel like if we slow down we will miss out.

What if you could actually do more by doing a bit less now and then?

In my experience, deep analysis and real strategic thinking has been getting short changed in our quest for speed.  Many do not see the value of pausing and have lost the art of reflection.

I believe we need to stop and make more time to reflect.  To give our busy minds down time to process the host of information we have collected, allowing our conscious and unconscious mind to connect.  By giving our minds a break from the constant pressure, we can often find new insights and creative ideas.

I remember reading that Thomas Edison was known for taking his fishing rod and sitting on the end of a pier, casting away.  However, he would never put any bait on his hook.  He would simply sit there for hours.  What is interesting is that he didn’t really want to catch any fish.  What he wanted to do was to sit there uninterrupted, allowing him to reflect.  Edison knew that if he looked as if he were fishing, no one would bother him – he could reflect uninterrupted.   What Edison was really after, what he wanted to catch, was ideas.

One might say that reflection is the root of my Ponderings and Insights blogs.  Have you noticed that my blog articles contain embedded questions?  That I don’t typically write about:

  • 7 insights for marketing success
  • 3 critical pieces of advice for change
  • 12 steps to getting attention
  • How I succeeded, and you can too

I provide information, sometimes a story, and ask you to consider some questions.  I want you to do some internal analysis and think for yourself.  For me, writing these blogs is a way to stop and reflect on a concept, and then share with others.  Each of my blogs is my own reflection of sorts – where I share items that have been ruminating in my mind.

So here are several important (well, important to me) questions for you to ponder and reflect, to gather your own personal insights:

  • How do you spend your time?  Are you allocating it to the right things?  Things that are strategic, not just tactical and have longer term value?
  • Are you perhaps rushing along so fast, working, working, working?  Do you need to lift your head and mind, to allow your conscious and unconscious to connect?
  • What comes to mind when you observe someone looking out a window or perhaps sitting on a park bench “doing nothing”?  Do you know for sure that they are doing nothing?  Might they, perchance, be thinking and reflecting?  Perhaps they are like Thomas Edison, taking time to consider their creations and fishing for ideas.

My wish for you today is to find time to stop, pause, and to reflect.  To make the time for critical, strategic, inside work that is sorely needed these days.

So let’s go fishing together, reminding ourselves that the next time we see someone “doing nothing”, that they might just be fishing for insights and ideas instead.  Here’s to catching more!

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Sep
21

5 Key Questions to Gain Insights

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Use these 5 Key Questions as a compass to direct you on the best way to expend your energy.

Today, it’s short a sweet.  5 Key Questions to ask:

  • Are we doing the right things?
  • Are we doing them the right way?
  • Are we getting them done well?
  • Are we getting the benefits?

When the answer to any of these questions is No, the next Key Question is

  • WHY

Sometimes, Why needs to be Why, Why, Why.  You need to dig to get to the root problems, issues, and causes, not just the surface symptoms.

Answering each of these questions will take a bit of time and analysis, but the insights can be invaluable.

When looking at personal issues, not business issues, all you need to do is replace the we with I…

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Aug
16

Are you Living or Existing?

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Have you stopped today to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature around you?

Many times we think we are living, but we are really just existing.  We deal with the day to day and it feels like a grind. 

We trudge through our day, doing our work, working on our to-do list (or lists), answering the phone and email, and trying to make “progress”.  But we feel stifled, tired, worn out, stressed.   We’re trying to figure out how to change things but everything we think of feels like too much extra work.

We often look for the big solutions and big changes when the little ones can have the most impact.  A few weeks ago I wrote about the Value of Nature.  How taking a few minutes to enjoy Nature around you can go a long way.  Since that time I’ve made an effort to enjoy my back deck and the woods behind me as many days as possible.  I’ve also made an effort to visit with some neighbors on their back patio.  

Although my life is pretty chaotic at the moment (many major life events going on) my inner peace has been increasing on days that I’ve stopped to check out of work and the digital world and connect with Nature and neighbors.  On the days I haven’t, where I keep my head down focusing on the list, telling myself I don’t have time to go outside, I find my stress continues to increase.

Life’s not perfect, it’s a rare moment that it is.  It is, however for living, not existing.  Instead of a “to-do list” why don’t you write a “do not do list” this week.  Cut yourself some slack.  Get real with yourself and those around you.  Too often I observe individuals living in the in the “digital world” but missing out on the “real world” … and by that I don’t mean the contrived one on TV which isn’t all that real.

Put down the pen, leave the desk, turn off the TV.  Ignore your iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Kindle, and Nook.  Connect not only with others but with yourself as well.  The world will not stop if you ignore the phone, email, twitter, text or chats.  If fact, I believe it would be a better place with a little less of all of that.

Be present with yourself and those around you.  Be real not digital.  Look at your life one day, one experience, one encounter at a time.  You’ll likely be much happier.  I know I am.

Live your life rather than simply existing.  Peace everyone.

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Jun
06

The Value of Nature

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Need to go with the flow? Nurture yourself with a little Nature.

Do you feel the onset of burnout coming?  Do you want to refresh and renew yourself?  Feel like you need a vacation but don’t have the time and money for one?  Think small, not big.

Often we are moving so fast we don’t realize how much time we are spending inside buildings.  Our minds and bodies need to periodically visit the world outdoors. 

Connecting with nature – simply letting the sun shine on your face, listening to the birds, listening to the flow of water through a stream, dam or waterfall can be wonderfully refreshing. 

Even small things like packing a lunch and sitting on a park bench rather than inside a restaurant can be a boost to both your body and your mind.

Yes, a trip to the spa might be fun, but you can often get the same sense of peace and restfulness from a park.  Plus, it costs a lot less!

My challenge to you is to find those small pockets of time in your schedule to take yourself outdoors.  It can be something as simple as stopping at a park for just 15 minutes on your way home.  Do you have a deck or patio?  If so, when is the last time you had dinner outside?  Try it, you just might like it.

Have a story to share about how you’ve found little pockets of time to let Nature provide a little Nurture for your mind, heart, and spirit?  Click that comment button to share.  Love to hear from you!

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The Woodpecker Might Have to Go!Today is a Snow Day. 

One of those days you loved as a kid but tend to dread as an adult.  With our increasingly busy days it can be just one more unexpected complication.  One that can frustrate us quite a bit. 

In the midst of rescheduling phone calls, juggling work schedules, and rearranging my day, it crossed my mind that maybe this is one of those Life Lessons that I should be paying attention to. 

I could view today with a Half Full (or Quarter Full) view, focusing on the challenges and frustrations it brings.  Or, I could look at as an unexpected opportunity.

We get so busy that it often seems like there isn’t enough time in the week to spend good, quality time my kids.  Couldn’t I think about this as an expected opportunity to spend time with them?

So I decided to view today’s Snow Day as a Speed Bump on the Road of Life.  Speed bumps are reminders not to go to fast, to slow down.  I decided that I could change the way I viewed today and think of Snow Days as Play Days with the kids instead.  I might not be able to play all day (darn it), but I can engage with them for at least part of the day.  

My mental metaphor of a speed bump was going along pretty well and then I got an unexpected second dose of life’s imperfections.

It appears that for the past two weeks, any voice message left on my work phone went into “limbo land.”  This is not the only technical glitch I’ve seen this month.  I know that emails I been sending to at least one individual had not arrived.  Whether they were lost in the outbound stream from me or lost in his inbound stream we don’t know.  I only know that I’m glad I chose to follow up a third time just to be sure we had closed the loop. 

I could have gotten angry about the missed VM, but really, what’s the point.  It won’t change history.  It’s an uncontrollable situation like the Snow Day.  What I can (and did) do is follow up where necessary and explain.  No, it’s not the same as the “my dog ate my homework,” excuse.  It’s simply a fact of our technology dependent communications.  Technology breaks down.  It doesn’t always work.

This was a good reminder for me that just because I hit send or left a message that does not mean it was received.  Too often of late, I’ve observed individuals getting frustrated with one another when there is incomplete knowledge of a situation.  It’s all back to expectations.  Are we expecting perfection and perfect knowledge or do we recognize and adjust to life’s challenges and the speed bumps along the way?

When things go wrong with technology, I find myself using the metaphor of Gremlins visiting.  I don’t know what happened, it simply is.  It was outside of my control. 

What I can control is my response.  Am I going to let those speed bumps annoy and frustrate me?  Or might I ask myself to consider whether those speed bumps might serve some greater purpose?

My epiphany for today was that Life is not about Perfection, it’s about Imperfection. 

We talk about taking the time to dance, finding the joy in the moment, the beauty in a sunrise.  We often tell, share, or repeat a myriad of these little life lessons.  But do we value and live by these lessons all the time or only when we have time for them?  Might that be why life sends us speed bumps?  A reminders to “stop and smell the roses”?

A piece of humor a friend sent yesterday ended with  “Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile.”

While I “received” the message yesterday and did enjoy, I think that today I truly “got it.”  I need to do these activities even more than I already do.  More importantly, I need to do them when presented with days full of speed bumps, not just on days with smooth sailing. 

Life is about Imperfection not Perfection. 

I need to share the joy of imperfections, laughing along the road of life.  Living in the moment, as best as I can.  After all,  no one is perfect.  Every minute I spend in anger is a minute I did not spend in joy.   

Here’s to the imperfection in all of us.  To finding ways to enjoy them, rather than being frustrated by them.  May you live, love, and laugh often.  Preferably all the time, rather than just when it’s convenient.

Oh, by the way, the dog has actually eaten the homework in our house.  Along with toys, glasses, a wallet etc.  As I sit here and type, I am reminded that I am looking through dog scratches on my lenses.  I can either choose to focus on them, which is quite distracting, or I can choose to try and ignore them.  I’ve found that if ignore them for a few minutes, I can typically read “past” them.  The eyes and brain make adjustments.  The glasses aren’t perfect, but they are good enough.   That, I decided was another of life’s lessons. 

You can choose to look past the imperfections and still see with clarity.

A few weeks back I wrote Are You an Entrepreneur? … or Maybe Not?  In that article I mentioned a book soon coming to market by Carol Roth, The Entrepreneur Equation.  I’m thrilled to announce that the book has arrived.  Not only has it arrived, it arrived in true Carol Roth style.

I met Carol last year at the World Business Forum.  She is a savvy female executive, who not only plays in the big leagues, she does it on her own terms and with her own style.  If you doubt that, check out those pink shoes!  Carol has never shied away from hard facts and uncomfortable realities, especially when it comes to the business world.

Carol’s book can help you answer more than just “Could I be an entrepreneur?” but rather “Should I be an entrepreneur?”  We all probably can be if we wanted it bad enough.  If we threw enough time, energy, and money at it.  However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  You can jump off the roof of a house, but should you.  It’s your choice.

The Entrepreneur Equation outlines a framework for both new entrepreneurs evaluating whether to start a business as well as current entrepreneurs who are overwhelmed and overworked or even evaluating the future of their business model.  It’s unlike other books out there that promise “seven steps to success”.  To quote Carol, “those seven step are B.S. – entrepreneurship isn’t one size fits all.”   

Success as a business owner is dependent upon your own circumstances, goals and objectives at any given time.  What’s a good risk/reward tradeoff for you is entirely different from what’s a good tradeoff for anyone else.  Carol’s book gives you a framework to maximize your own personal success, based on your goals and objectives, not someone else’s.

During this week, you can take part in Carol’s Power of Three.  So what is The Power of Three (other than a Charmed episode)?  Well, for every copy of The Entrepreneur Equation you pre-order through http://theentrepreneurequation.com/special-offers/ by February 18, 2011, you:

1 – Help yourself (or perhaps a client, colleague, friend or family member) stack the odds of success in your or their favor;

2 – Help a small business succeed, as Carol will match your purchase by donating a copy to her non-profit partner SCORE (www.SCORE.org) to give their volunteers another tool to help them grow successful small businesses; and

3 – Help both Carol and myself to achieve our personal goals of spreading this important message and seeing this book succeed.

In addition, if you buy even just one book through the site, you will also receive a free 3-part audio series: Strategies for Getting Your Company, Your Product or Yourself on TV & Other Free Press with Emmy award winners, TV anchors and PR veterans, as well as Carol’s own insights on how she landed her tv pilot deal and other press.

Check out Carol’s other offers, which includes an amazing contest where other entrepreneurs have offered generous prizes, such as Michael Port (private mentoring session at his house worth $1999), Les McKeown (a seat in his Predictable Success workshop worth $3500), a strategy session with the amazing Liz Strauss, a mega-star membership to Online Videopolis (worth $2364), and many, many more.  Visit http://theentrepreneurequation.com/special-offers/ for details and to purchase.

Want to know more?  Here’s a few of the examples of those “right questions” in the book :

  • Are you going to create a “salable” business, rather than a “jobbie or a “Job-Business  
    • There’s a great chart in the book that breaks this down.
  • How are you with your personal finances? 
    • If you can’t manage your own finances, then “you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur trying to manage a business (and implicitly, the business’s finances)“. 
  • Are you willing to put in a LOT of hard work and practice? 
    • The “Secret” of success is not just a great idea, a positive attitude, and venture funding. 
  • Are you a “Santa or an Elf”? 
    • Are you better at giving direction, or taking direction?  If you are the latter, it will be very, very hard to run a business on your own.
  • Are you “too smart for your own good”? 
    • Do you have problems giving up control over anything because “nobody can do it better than you”?  Carol has quite an interesting take on this one. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely thinking about starting their own business – it’s a great reality check that covers all the bases.  It’s caused me to stop and assess where my own business as well as what my personal goals and objectives really are.

Here’s to Doing Your Own Math (not someone elses) and finding your own answer to The Entrepreneur Equation.  Whatever your answer is, it’s the right one for you, rather than for someone else.

Back to that unique Carol Roth style, here’s a link to a story about her Carol Roth doll.  It’s fabulous.   Here’s a link to win one of the Carol Roth dolls for those who are interested.  And yes, I did enter the contest myself.

Jan
14

The Value of Friends, Especially the Authentic Ones

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Almost everyone has friends of some sort or another.  Just like people, friends come in all shapes and sizes.  Some we may have had for years, some maybe just for a day.  Not all of them necessarily close or good friends.  In fact, most are likely to be surface or what I call social friendship.  It’s not the length of the relationship that we should be measuring, but rather the quality of the relationship. 

Social friends can be great for when you just want to get together to do something and don’t mind (or even necessarily want) a serious conversation.  They can be great for lighthearted fun.

While I value all my friends, I value my true and authentic friends the most.  In fact, I expect I could live fairly happily with only a handful of authentic friends and no others. 

Why, because authentic friends are the people who accept you for who you are.  My observation is that while social friends may listen, they aren’t really all that interested.  Authentic friends listen and generally do not judge.  They know all your idiosyncrasies and like you anyway.  You must admit it, we all have idiosyncrasies.  Some of which drive others around us crazy.

I think it is important to choose your friends wisely.  To invest your time, attention, and emotional energy on those that are truly authentic already as well as those that could become authentic.

  • Who would you miss if you could never talk to them again and what about them would you miss?
  • Who would you not miss if you didn’t see them again?
  • Do you have friends that you feel drained after interacting with them?
  • Who do you spend your time with?

If it is predominately people in the second category I’d like to stop and very seriously think about why is that?  What are you getting from those interactions?  Is perhaps a spouse getting something from your friendships but you are not?  If you answer not much (or something like that), I’d like you to very seriously ask yourself why do you hold on to those friendships, whether they are really important, and what would be the worst that would happen if you stopped spending time with them.

If you are spending much time with people in the third category, the one that leaves you drained.  My strong advice is run for the hills if you can.  Ok, well first you should do the same analysis for the second category.  It may be that this person is just having a rough patch in life and leaning on you quite a bit.  However if the person is chronically in a rough patch you need to ask yourself if they actually want to get out.  Maybe they are gaining something (e.g., time, attention, financial support) from living in crisis mode.

Here’s the “Backstory” (and hopefully a laugh or two)

Earlier this week, Cranky and Depressed Faith showed up for a while.  She was feeling tired, frustrated, and down about some things that had happened.  I vented a bit via email to two of my friends, friends I put in the authentic category.  It was nice to feel like I could talk with someone about how I was really feeling.  The first, Gail, was great about helping to reframe some things and telling me to cut myself some slack.  She was right.  I had real reasons to be tired and feel overwhelmed.  I was adding additional pressure to myself that I really didn’t need to.  The second friend helped me through their honesty and through humor.  Chris did not judge, he simply said I’m here, I’m your friend, and I’m available to talk.  Chris’s email helped me to feel better all by itself.  To simply know someone cared about my mental and emotional state.  Chris went a bit further when he sent along a second email.  One I’d like to share. 

Faith

Ok – this is the best I can manage on the run!  Will have to tide you over for a bit until I can manage a better response!

Chris

A paraprosdokian  –  A figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax.

  • I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way.  So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
  • Do not argue with an idiot.  He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
  • I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather.  Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
  • Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  • The last thing I want to do is hurt you.  But it’s still on the list.
  • Light travels faster than sound.  This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  • If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong.
  • We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  • War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
  • Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
  • Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good evening’, and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism.  To steal from many is research.
  • Some people are like Slinkies … not really good for anything, but you can’t help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.
  • I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  • I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with “Guess” on it…so I said “Implants?”
  • Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
  • Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
  • Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?
  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  • You do not need a parachute to skydive.  You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  • The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!
  • Always borrow money from a pessimist.  He won’t expect it back.
  • A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.
  • Hospitality: making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if you wish they were.
  • I discovered I scream the same way whether I’m about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot.
  • Some cause happiness wherever they go.  Others whenever they go.
  • I used to be indecisive.  Now I’m not sure.
  • I always take life with a grain of salt, plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.
  • When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
  • You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
  • To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  • Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
  • Some people hear voices.  Some see invisible people.  Others have no imagination whatsoever.
  • If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?
  • Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

In Conclusion

I was in complete stitches when I got done reading the list.  Getting this list was the final step in kicking out Cranky and Depressed Faith.  I hope it too made you laugh.  If not at all, at just a few. 

Authentic friends.  They are the one’s that can lift you up when you are down, “get you” but still like you, will go to bat for you, and are willing to share your life journey – if even for a day or two.

How do you get more authentic friends?  By being more authentic yourself.  It’s that simple.  Like the old cereal commercial with Mikey.  “Try it, you’ll like it.”

A Final Word of Thanks

Gail and Chris – Thanks for helping lift me up when I was down.  Your work here is done.

Elaine – Thanks for working with me to take our friendship to the next level.  To be authentic in all our interactions from this point forward.  You just need to say what you are thinking and not make me work so hard to read between the lines!  As I said before, you have my permission.   Use it.  No guilt required my friend.  :-) 

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Dec
08

Self-Awareness: Do You Know the Color of Your Lens (or Lenses)?

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Does your lens distort what you see?

I’d like to begin by asking you to reflect on this famous quote by philosopher and mathematician René Descartes.

  • “I think, therefore I am.”

I expect that most of you have heard this phrase before, but have you stopped to think about what it might mean?  Both what Descartes intended as well as other ways it might be interpreted?  What did this phrase bring to mind for you?  If you would like to read more about René Descartes and the origins of this phrase, click here.

I’d like to now pose another question.

  • What’s the value of self awareness?

For some of you, your first reaction might be “what is self awareness.”  To me, self awareness is simply being aware of yourself – your thought patterns, your motivations, your typical as well as atypical behaviors.  It’s about knowing who you are, what you believe, and how you operate.  

We are always interpreting things.  Always and forever, we cannot help it.  What has come before, the past, influences how we presently see things.  What we are currently thinking about, recent experiences, our current emotional states, as well as our intended outcomes affects how we perceive things in both small and large ways.  Are you conscious or unconscious of this?  

Another way you might think about self-awareness is as the ability to step outside of yourself to observe yourself.  In this manner, you become both the actor and the observer.  The more self-aware you are, the more innately you do this – both consciously and unconsciously. 

Everything we do is viewed through our personal filters and lenses.  I personally prefer to focus on lenses, as this implies that I can both recognize it and have the ability to remove it.  Filters, while useful to notice, are more difficult to impact directly.  As a side note regarding self awareness, my preference for lenses over filters could be considered a filter/lens itself… 

When self awareness is very low, the outcome is frequently a distortion – of events, of emotions, and of statements made by others.  As self awareness goes down, our bias and skewing of information, data, intentions, and people goes up.  Conversely, the more self aware you are, the more you can reduce the filters and/or lenses that you apply and see with clarity. 

As we become more conscious of ourselves and these elements, I believe that we are better able to “remove” what I refer to as the various “lenses that we place over our eyes.”  We gain the ability to question your own thoughts and reactions.  As a result, we are able to become more objective in our evaluations and interpretations.

The more self aware we are, the closer we automatically align our outward behaviors with our inner standards.  We become better able to observe when they are not in sync. 

With this new context, I’d like you to once again think about this question for just a moment.

  • What’s the value of self awareness?

Now let me pose a series of questions to you:

  • What’s the value of your own self awareness? 
  • What’s the value of interacting with another individual who is self aware?
  • What would be the value of higher self awareness in general, in all people?

Now some more questions – none of them trick questions, just reflection questions, I promise.

  • What frame of reference were you using for the initial question?  Yourself, someone else, in general?
  • How did thoughts/reactions to the first question compare to the next three? 
  • Did you have yet another viewpoint than the three I mentioned?  If so, what triggered that viewpoint?

Let’s now take it a step further…

  • What’s the value of a manager who is self-aware?
  • What’s the value of a leader who is self-aware?

I don’t know about you, but those questions give me some serious food for thought.  I can see real changes happening if the level of self awareness went up.

Wondering why I mentioned “Color” in the title?  A “tip of the hat” to the old saying about “wearing rose colored glasses”.  No, I don’t want, nor do I wear rose colored glasses.  That being said, I do believe that a little pink hue is better than the dreary old grey I see too much of these days.  My hope is that we can all find ways to make our lenses a bit more clear.  To remove those various layers of color, one at a time.  To see ourselves and others with better clarity.

If you haven’t already, I invite you to read two prior articles, Stop, Look, and Listen and A Matter of Perspective, Experience, and Imagination.  Why you ask…because they might just help you with your own self-awareness and awareness of the world around you.  And that my reader, is the entire point of this article.   Cheers.

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Nov
23

Where are you on your Personal Evolution: Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs

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Where are you now? Where do you want to be?

My last post referred to Maslow’s Hierarchy.  For those unfamiliar with it and/or interested in more details, Maslow’s basic needs are as follows:

Physiological Needs

These are biological needs. They consist of needs for oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature. They are the strongest needs because if a person were deprived of all needs, the physiological ones would come first in the person’s search for satisfaction.

Safety Needs

When all physiological needs are satisfied and are no longer controlling thoughts and behaviors, the needs for security can become active. Adults have little awareness of their security needs except in times of emergency or periods of disorganization in the social structure (such as widespread rioting). Children often display the signs of insecurity and the need to be safe.

Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness

When the needs for safety and for physiological well-being are satisfied, the next class of needs for love, affection and belongingness can emerge. Maslow states that people seek to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation. This involves both giving and receiving love, affection and the sense of belonging.

Needs for Esteem

When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem can become dominant. These involve needs for both self-esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others. Humans have a need for a stable, firmly based, high level of self-respect, and respect from others. When these needs are satisfied, the person feels self-confident and valuable as a person in the world. When these needs are frustrated, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless.

Needs for Self-Actualization

When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, then and only then are the needs for self-actualization activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was “born to do.” “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.” These needs make themselves felt in signs of restlessness. The person feels on edge, tense, lacking something, in short, restless. If a person is hungry, unsafe, not loved or accepted, or lacking self-esteem, it is very easy to know what the person is restless about. It is not always clear what a person wants when there is a need for self-actualization.

The hierarchic theory is often represented as a pyramid, with the larger, lower levels representing the lower needs, and the upper point representing the need for self-actualization.  Maslow believes that the only reason that people would not move well in direction of self-actualization is because of hindrances placed in their way by society.  He states that education is one of these hindrances.  He recommends ways education can switch from its usual person-stunting tactics to person-growing approaches.  Maslow states that educators should respond to the potential an individual has for growing into a self-actualizing person of his/her own kind.  Ten points that educators should address are listed:

  1. We should teach people to be authentic, to be aware of their inner selves and to hear their inner-feeling voices.
  2. We should teach people to transcend their cultural conditioning and become world citizens.
  3. We should help people discover their vocation in life, their calling, fate or destiny. This is especially focused on finding the right career and the right mate.
  4. We should teach people that life is precious, that there is joy to be experienced in life, and if people are open to seeing the good and joyous in all kinds of situations, it makes life worth living.
  5. We must accept the person as he or she is and help the person learn their inner nature. From real knowledge of aptitudes and limitations we can know what to build upon, what potentials are really there.
  6. We must see that the person’s basic needs are satisfied. This includes safety, belongingness, and esteem needs.
  7. We should refreshen consciousness, teaching the person to appreciate beauty and the other good things in nature and in living.
  8. We should teach people that controls are good, and complete abandon is bad. It takes control to improve the quality of life in all areas.
  9. We should teach people to transcend the trifling problems and grapple with the serious problems in life. These include the problems of injustice, of pain, suffering, and death.
  10. We must teach people to be good choosers. They must be given practice in making good choices.

Reference:  Psychology – The Search for Understanding by Janet A. Simons, Donald B. Irwin and Beverly A. Drinnien West Publishing Company, New York, 1987

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The Backstory

I have been thinking a lot this past month about the fact that I am a bit out of whack as it relates to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Ok, so how many of you are thinking “what’s that?” 

Maslow’s hierarchy is something I learned about back in college.  Something that has stuck with me and has demonstrated the power of a good model and/or metaphor.  For those unfamiliar with this model, Maslow’s hierarchy falls within the domain of psychology and was first proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943.  He explains this model in his 1954 book on Motivation and Personality. 

Now you might be thinking “that’s a very old model – 60 years! – does it really apply today”.  While there are those out there that argue with specifics – typically other psychology theoreticians – his model really is very solid overall.  If you want to read details of the model and the criticisms, you can find them on wikipedia.   

I have personally found Maslow’s hierarchy useful in:

  • Understanding where I am
  • Understanding where others are
  • Understanding where I want to or should focus time and energy
  • Identifying what is most needed and how to best help 
  • Answering the question “are you solving the right problem?” 

I’ve observed that some business interventions (and social too) are geared towards higher levels when the people who are in the midst of the change really need help with feeling that the lower levels are stable.  Something for you to think about during your next Change Program…   How might this affect how you craft Communications?

Maslow’s hierarchy is often seen as a pyramid.  The idea being that you are climbing to the top.  At the top of the pyramid is this concept of self-actualization. 

Self-actualization (in my terms, not necessarily Maslow’s) is when you reach that place of full potential.  You are becoming the person you want to be, what you are capable of, and expressing yourself and your beliefs.  You are truly living who you are.  However, to reach this level, all the other levels must be in place and stable.  In order to self-actualize, you must first master the four levels of needs found below:  physiological, safety, love, and esteem.  

Recently I’ve been feeling like I’m sliding backwards.  I also know that I am not alone in that feeling these days.  With all the chaos in the world these days – layoffs, business challenges, foreclosures – it can be hard to find time and/or energy to focus on yourself.  Where you truly are and who you truly want to be. 

I’ve been thinking about the fact that I want to be working on level 5, but that I seem to be living in the chaos of level 2, safety.  Safety you say?  Well in Maslow’s hierarchy, safety includes the roof over one’s head.  I find it hard to write, share, and support others the way I truly want to when faced with the on-going stress of keeping the house over our family’s head.  Sound like anyone you might know?  Yourself maybe?

The Story

If you have been reading my recent posts you will know that I have been talking (and thinking alot) about Elephants.  Today I realized that I have the big, hairy, ugly Elephant sitting on my shoulder with his trunk shoved into my ear repeating these phrases (or something similar):

  • “you are not good enough”
  • “you can’t keep up”
  • “you are letting other people down”
  • “who are you to think that you can write those books”

Mighty Mouse as envisioned by Sydney Purvis, age 8 upon hearing this story. ~~~@o:>

Guilt, guilt, guilt.  I’m sure you’ve been there, felt that.  Anyone saying “been there, done that”?

Ah ha, I went.  There’s an Elephant.  It’s hitting on my Maslow’s level 4.  I can name it.  It’s the Insecurity Elephant.  I can own it.  I can change it. 

So I decided to take action.  To get out my Mighty Mouse to fight that Elephant.  I’m going to own that Elephant and then kick it off my shoulder – metaphorically that is.

So here’s my Mighty Mouse  ~~~@:> (who I designed earlier today when emailing a friend).  Mighty Mouse, go to work my friend.  ~~~@:>  SQUEEAAKEEEEE!!!

Whew. 

In addition to helping myself mentally, when that metaphorical squeak resounded earlier today I thought hey, something to share.  Something to send out to the readers with hope that it helps, even if just a bit.  Bonanza, something that I can do related to Maslow’s level 5!  So here I am tonight, writing. 

Mighty Mouse might be small and often overlooked, but small things can have big impacts.  (Just ask the lady who gets a small box with an engagement ring in it)  Biggest isn’t always best.  Our self-dialog isn’t always helpful.  If nothing else I hope that my Mighty Mouse makes you laugh, even if only inside.  Laughter truly is good for you…in more ways that we often realize.   

I ask you to join me.  Let’s take some control back.  Maybe it will last for just a day, maybe for a week.  But that’s better than before. 

So I’m sending out my Mighty Mouse to visit you.  When in need call to Mighty Mouse.  Feel free to ask Mighty Mouse to help you with any of the Elephant(s) on your shoulder.  Don’t be afraid to send them to visit a friend too, Mighty Mouse travels well over email after all.

Here’s a Mighty Mouse for you.  ~~~@:>  SQUEEAAKEEEEE!!!

Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes