The Most Powerful Word in Your Vocabulary

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By Vincent Carlos, Guest Blogger

Do you feel like you’re busy, but not productive?

Do you feel like you give too much of your time and attention away to people who don’t deserve it?

Do you feel like there’s just not enough time in the day to accomplish all the things that matter most to you?

If so, you’re not alone. Almost everyone feels stretched too thin both at work and at home.

But, fortunately, there’s a simple solution to help you take back control of your time so that you can spend your time and energy on the things and people that matter most to you.

The solution? The word “No.”

In the book “The Power of No,” successful entrepreneur, angel investor and best-selling author James Altucher says that “No” is the most powerful, productive word in your vocabulary.

So make an effort to say “no” as much as you possibly can!

If it’s going to distract you from doing work that truly matters, say “no” to it.

If it doesn’t move you forward, say “no” to it.

If it doesn’t make you better, say “no” to it.

Oftentimes, we feel obligated to say “yes” to everything out of social pressure. But constantly saying “yes” to everything will lead to more stress, less time, and lower productivity.

On the other hand, learning to say “no” will energize you and excite you because by learning to say “no” to the things that harm you, you’ll actually be saying “yes” to the things that make you happy.

So make an effort to say “no” to at least 5 things today. Even if it’s small, say “no.”

 

We Need to BE a Little More, and DO a Little Less

Busy. Busy. BUSY. In short, as a collective society, we have forgotten how to rest.

It wasn’t always that way. Remember, growing up, when most stores were actually CLOSED on Sunday? Some still are, but for the most part, they’re open just like any other day, and if we go shopping on Sunday, we’re more a part of the problem than part of the solution!

In one of my favorite Andy Griffith episodes, a businessman is on his way to a big meeting in Charlotte on a Sunday when his car, a really sweet Lincoln Continental, breaks down in Mayberry. The gentleman, Mr. Tucker, wants his car fixed NOW, which doesn’t quite fly in sleepy Mayberry where, between church, reflecting on the pastor’s sermon, and kicking back on the porch, time slows to a crawl on Sunday. Like it used to.

Not satisfied with the response he’ll have to wait until Monday, the highly agitated Mr. Tucker keeps at it and at it, until he finally makes progress and Gomer agrees to take a look at the car.

Only, in the meantime, the Mayberry residents’ slower pace of life rubs off on the stressed businessman. Moral of the story: Even after his Lincoln is fixed and he could be on his merry way, he tells a shocked Gomer a convincing lie that his Lincoln still isn’t running right, which is really an excuse so he can stay over and have more of Aunt Bea’s home cooking! When he finally departs the next morning, Aunt Bea even has sandwiches for him for the road!

It was a great lesson then, and it certainly is an EVEN BETTER lesson in fast-paced, 21st century life. Even IF we take an (albeit brief) break on Sunday, for the most part we push ourselves to the point of exhaustion. And then we wonder why our extreme busy-ness is taking a toll on our relationships, families, and our quality of life!

It’s no wonder stress management techniques like mindfulness are becoming so popular. That’s a good start for many of us. For the more spiritually inclined, there are scriptural passages to reflect on like the 23rd Psalm…. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”

The point is, in whatever way, shape, or form, most of us need to BE a little more and DO a little less. After all, we are human BE-ings, and not human DO-ings. I believe the results would be worth it. Don’t you?

Let Out Your Work Frustrations – in the Ring!

If you’ve ever had a bad boss, you probably have a litany of unpleasant experiences tucked away in your memory. There’s probably been at least a time or two when you wished you could hit him (or her) and get away with it! But why leave these disturbing emotions tucked away in your brain only to potentially fester and get worse – leading to excess stress and anxiety?

Perhaps a better solution, according to a new study at Johns Hopkins, may lie in “duking it out” with your employer – that is, in a somewhat civil manner in a boxing ring. “How many people wouldn’t like to be able to say they slugged their boss… or maybe the other way around in some cases?” asks Dr. Arnold Yanda, neurosurgeon and lead researcher of the study, “Punching without Lawsuits: Get into a Ring.”

“The idea isn’t to ‘go at it’ in the ring indefinitely – rather the intent is to relieve anger, frustration and other pent-up emotions within a given time frame – we’ve found that 2 or 3 rounds usually works best. And of course, several neutral parties (other co-workers) should serve as timekeeper, bell ringer, and referee,” Yanda states.

“Certainly, this is a unique, potentially landmark approach that most people will find a bit awkward at first. But rather than make things worse between the boss and employee, we found in our study that in nearly all cases, actual hand-to-hand combat enabled both parties to get along much better with each other afterward than if they had stuck to the usual status quo of saying nothing, or next to nothing about each others ill behavior.”

A control group of 100 employees and managers that were upset at each for various reasons was studied for 30 days. The individual’s names were kept confidential, so they could freely express their anger and frustration in several counseling sessions, without fear of appraisal. A second group of the same number of employees and managers who were likewise angry, was also observed for the same number of days. But this group had the opportunity to step into a boxing ring with each other after the 30 days were up.

“As measured through various physical and psychological indicators, we found that 65% of the control group remained as distraught as they were prior to counseling,” Yanda said. “In other words, the counseling was not very helpful.” Conversely, Yanda said the study found that the group that was allowed to box relieved, on average, 80 to 85% of their stress.

“Certainly, we have more work to do, but we think this study is encouraging, and may go a long way toward addressing the age-old problem of poor employee-boss relationships.”

If you haven’t guessed by now, this is a joke. April Fool’s!

Innovative Work Cultures: More Difficult than you Think

You’ve probably heard how much fun employees have at innovative companies. Perks might include free lunch on Tuesday, casual dress Fridays, even an on-site bistro that rivals the best one in the neighborhood. In addition, workers are not only allowed, but encouraged to work flexible hours at times they work best to maximize efficiency.

Sounds like a great place to work, right? But innovative work cultures do not come about by accident. Fun is more a byproduct of an innovative, creative environment, than the innovation itself. The truth is: Innovative work cultures require brutal candor and individual accountability. Let’s take a closer look.

 We all want to be heard in a planning meeting, but if it’s safe for you to criticize someone else’s ideas, they must also be free to criticize yours! Comfort about “constructive criticism” can prove difficult. While some people have a “thick hide” that doesn’t mind their idea being “shot down” in a planning meeting, others are more sensitive to criticism.

Moreover, in some organizations discussion about opposing views might be reserved, polite – while in others it might involve being more straightforward – as the employee articulately defends his or her idea. The key lies in respect. An employee in an innovative culture can be critical of a colleague while still being respectful of this individual. Don’t beat around the bush, but don’t be overly harsh either. Candid debate is seldom easy, but maintaining an environment that’s professional and respectful of opposing views will help.

 Innovative cultures have strong leaders more concerned with results than company hierarchy or an individual’s title. Management provides clear priorities, direction, and goals. Their employees enjoy a high degree of autonomy to pursue innovative ideas. Managers may know flow charts, profit-loss statements and other business acumen, but they also know people. They are not hands-off, locked in an ivory tower, they like to be close to the action.

In summary, innovative cultures are not all fun and games. But organizations in which candor and accountability are present remain great places to work.

 

’20 Percent Principle’ Key to Creativity

By Vincent Carlos, Guest Blogger

We all know the story of how Isaac Newton was relaxing under a tree one day when an apple suddenly fell on his head. Then, in a flash of brilliance, Newton was able to equate an apple falling with gravity.

This is a very famous story, but the problem with this story is that it makes it seem like creative breakthroughs are just the result of some magical phenomenon.

Unfortunately, great ideas like gravity usually don’t fall from the trees. Instead, great ideas require a lot of study and preparation.

In the book “The Creative Curve,” Allen Gannett interviewed dozens of professionals across many different creative fields and over and over he found that highly creative individuals all spend a huge amount of their time not creating, but consuming.

Gannett says,

“No matter whether I was interviewing a painter, a chef, or songwriter, I’d eventually hear some variation of the same story. Painters show up at numerous art exhibits. Chefs eat at cutting edge restaurants, visit farms, and travel to food shows. Songwriters are constantly listening to music, new and old.”

Although these highly creative individuals are extremely busy, Gannett observed that they consistently spend 3 to 4 hours a day, which is roughly 20% of their waking hours, solely consuming content.

This is what Allen Gannett calls “The 20% principle.”

But why do they do this? Well it’s because consuming content is what provides you with the building blocks that are necessary for creative insights to occur.

Many great creative writers, artists, and scientists such as Isaac Newton will tell you that creativity doesn’t just fall on your head out of nowhere. Instead, creativity is simply the result of making connections between at least two different ideas.

Therefore, the more ideas you have to work with, the more interesting connections you can make.

In relation to the discovery of gravity, people don’t realize that Isaac Newton had been studying physics for years. And it’s only because he studied physics for years that he was able to make the connection between an apple falling with gravity.

In “The Creative Curve,” creativity researcher Dr. Edward Bowden says,

“In order to have creative insights, what you need to do is you have to establish a certain level of knowledge. You can’t have insights about things you don’t know anything about.”

So in order to reach your creative potential, be sure to spend about 20% of your time immersing yourself in the field you’re interested in, exposing yourself to it and consuming as much as possible. This is the key to creative breakthroughs and great work.

P.S. I just launched my new site! It still has some flaws, but I’m very proud of it. You can go to vincentcarlos.com to check it out!

March Madness CAN be costly to companies! Here’s what you need to know

Recent statistics reveal that March Madness has become more popular than ever before, thanks in large part to the worldwide betting that takes place. Over 60 million people are expected to fill out brackets this year, with an estimated $10 million being put on the table. However, there is another cost which people may not expect: A downturn in employee productivity.

“March Madness can be a drain on a company’s time and resources,” says Rob Wilson, employment trends expert and President of Employco USA. “With millions of Americans filling out brackets and managing their bets, you can bet that employee productivity takes a hit during this time of year.”

In fact, research shows that lost wages caused by employee distraction and poor productivity during March Madness could amount to losses of up to $1.9 billion!  

Wilson says, “Between filling out brackets, researching picks, watching the games and then calling in sick or skipping work due to game days or hangovers, you are looking at a sharp downturn in employee performance. Luckily there are some ways you can manage this common nationwide issue.”

Offer computers for personal use. “Make sure that you are keeping a close eye on your employees’ internet usage,” says Wilson. “Any time employees have free, unfettered access to the web, you are going to be looking at a decrease in employee productivity. Here’s an alternative: Offer your employees 1-2 computers for personal use during their breaks. Make sure the computers are in a public area and have a sign-in sheet to ensure that everyone will get a fair chance to use the computers and that people do not use them for extended periods of time. That way, if anyone needs to check their personal email or use the internet on their lunch break, they don’t need to use their official work computers.”

Put televisions in the break room. “Again, rather than having employees use their computers or phones to check the score, provide a television in the break room or similar area. Allow employees to use the T.V. to tune into the games on their breaks, but again make sure that you have a sign-in sheet so that everyone can have a turn, whether they want to see a March Madness game or watch Days of Our Lives.

Send out a company-wide reminder about in-office betting. “Depending on the state where you work, in-office betting could actually be illegal. Even if it is not illegal, I would advise that companies have a no-gambling policy, including office pools or any other communal stakes. Send out a company-wide reminder during this time to refresh employees’ minds and ensure that no March Madness takes place on company time.”

For those who do bet, take caution. “Some companies do allow betting, and if that is the case, remember that it is not a good idea for managers or higher-ups to take part. Instead, make it for junior employees only and rather than betting money, make the winnings a gift card to a local coffee shop or even a bonus vacation day.”

Advise employees to ask for personal days in advance. “If you know that your employees are going to want to attend a game or watch it from their couches or favorite bars, now is also a good time to send out a reminder about asking for personal days. Remind employees that they need to ask for days in advance and that late call-ins could result in a penalty.”

Why is Employee Recognition So Difficult?

I was trying to figure out what to write for this week’s blog post, and then I ran across an article which stated that, “36% of employees say lack of recognition is top reason to leave their job.”

Employee recognition really shouldn’t be that difficult, but this article, and many others like it, indicate otherwise.

I scratch my head over what should be a relatively simple business concept to embrace. What is it that managers are so worried about? Are they afraid we will ask for a raise every time they pat us on the back? Many parents applaud the smallest of their kids’ accomplishments on Facebook, etc. So, does this mean there is no longer ANY need for recognition in adulthood?

I’m exaggerating a little, of course, but it’s also important to re-emphasize the italicized statement above – a stat that appeared in a December 2017 study from Achievers, an employee engagement company.

Some would quickly defend managers’ reluctance to hand out compliments. “Ah, that’s just Carl. He’s like that with everybody. You know he appreciates you.”

Really? Having run into a lack of recognition myself in the workplace, I would beg to differ. Weeks would go by. Then months… Still more time would go by. Nothing about the good work I was doing. I knew I was doing good work, often above and beyond my job description, and knowing that is gratifying to some degree. But still, most of us starve for someone to notice from time to time.

Finally, I “had to know” what my boss thought about the work I was doing, and I mentioned my concern to a co-worker, Bob. “Well, you know ‘Jim’ (not real names) appreciates you. He’s told me himself a number of times,” Bob replied, obviously defending my boss.

??? So, “Jim” told “Bob” I was doing a great job, but he couldn’t tell me himself? What’s up with that? You may have heard the saying that when communication is poor in the workplace, people will expect the worse. Yep. Clam up. Never say anything, and people will wonder what’s up. They might even bolt for greener pastures if they’re kept in the dark long enough.

“Bosses are busy,” some will say. True. “You should know you’re doing a good job,” others might add. Maybe. “You know times are tough, and they can’t afford a raise right now,” is another comment you might hear.

Maybe so. But in a day and age in which way too many staffs are too stretched for time, is it really THAT MUCH to hear it from the head honcho from time to time?

Excuses for a lack of recognition are usually just that. EXCUSES. “Busy”? Horse hockey! “They can’t afford to give you a raise!” Another cop-out. A simple thank you is free, isn’t it?

C’mon managers, wake up. Or – don’t surprised when more than one-third (36%) of YOUR employees leave.

Read more here……….. https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2019/03/01/36-of-employees-say-lack-of-recognition-is-top-reason-to-leave-their-job/?utm_source=LINKEDIN_COMPANY&utm_medium=social&utm_content=2166932964&utm_campaign=sprinklrForbesMainLI#367eb63245b4

 

Bridging the Gap: What Boomers need from Millennials

In today’s diverse workplaces, bridging the generation gap has never been more important. A number of articles will address this topic in the March issue of “Employee Assistance Report” (EAR). Below is an excerpt from one of them To learn more, visit http://www.writeitrightllc.com or email mjacquart@writeitrightllc.com.

* When it comes to using technology don’t say, “There’s nothing to it”! Boomers did not grow up with the technology that younger people take for granted. It’s true some Boomers, like Millennials, use a lot of technological tools – others, very few – and still others, like me, lie somewhere in between. It’s also true that some Boomers pick up new things quickly, but kindly acknowledge that some of us do not! We’ll “get it,” given time and practice, but don’t say, “There’s nothing to it” and leave us on our own to figure it out. Show us, don’t just tell us.

* Show us what to do in stages, don’t just “click around” on a monitor, and assume we’ll understand. When someone in their 20s or 30s shows me something on a computer, they will show me much too quickly, and the steps they took to get from point A to point B aren’t nearly clear enough. In my view, this reflects several generational differences.

  1. As we age, our Baby Boom brains just don’t think as quickly as they used to. Well, mine anyway! I will likely “get it,” but it’ll take me longer to understand what it is that you’re telling me. Don’t show me so fast. Take your time.
  2. Along similar lines, please explain what you are doing. Many of us Boomers can find website navigation difficult. We might get one of your “clicks,” on a given web page, but if there are multiple steps, it’s a good bet that we might get lost or confused if we’re left to “connect the dots” on our own.
  3. If there are steps, kindly write them down (or email them to us) so we have something to refer to until we are more familiar with the process.

By better working together, we can overcome generational barriers in the workplace!

Why It’s Important to Gaze at the Stars

By Vincent Carlos, Guest Blogger

As humans, we tend to get ourselves in a lot of unnecessary mental trouble as a result of our imagination. For example, we experience something trivial, such as sitting in traffic or waiting in line, and then make it worse in our heads than it actually is.

But, more often than not, we do this because we forget how little our problems actually are in comparison to the world around us. This is why having perspective can be truly helpful.

What kind of perspective am I talking about? The Cosmic perspective. In the book “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says something really interesting.

“There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on any beach, more stars than seconds have passed since Earth formed, and more stars than words and sounds ever uttered by all the humans who ever lived.”

I find this quote absolutely mind blowing because it helps us to imagine how big our universe actually is and how small we are in comparison. The enormity of our universe may be a depressing thought to some people because of how insignificant it makes people feel, but I think it’s liberating. And so does Tyson.

Tyson says,

“Consider an adult who tends to the traumas of a child: spilled milk, a broken toy, a scraped knee. As adults we know that kids have no clue of what constitutes a genuine problem, because inexperience greatly limits their childhood perspective. Children do not yet know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. As grown ups, dare we admit to ourselves that we, too, have a collective immaturity of view?”

Whatever problems you have right now, it’s always easier to overcome them when you learn to put things into perspective.

And by having a better understanding of how big the universe is, your problems won’t seem like such a big deal to you.

So, if you’re feeling down about something, I recommend you go outside tonight and just look up at the stars. Doing this simple exercise will help you overcome any emotional hurdles you experience on a daily basis.

Vincent Carlos maintains a blog at https://vincentcarlosblog.wordpress.com/

 

Office Romances are Usually a Bad Idea

By Steven Mintz

Thursday will mark Valentine’s Day. What better time to talk about workplace romances? Dating in the workplace is a bad idea and can lead to severe consequences for both parties. A serious dating relationship may turn sexual and add another layer of ethical dilemma if and when the relationship goes south. Office romances can stifle productivity, lead to sexual harassment charges, and destroy the workplace environment.

My advice is do not get started in the first place; don’t take that first step down the proverbial “ethical slippery slope.” That said, office romances can and will continue to occur. So, here is my take on the practice and how it can affect employees and the employer.

What Constitutes an Office Romance?

An office romance is a relationship between two individuals employed by the same company that advances beyond the socially acceptable employer-employee association and the work-related duties that require their interaction. The relationship can be of a sexual nature where employees engage in activities in and outside work or where one employee makes sexually suggestive remarks about the other.

The danger of the latter is in creating a “hostile work environment” that might lead to a claim of sexual harassment. In fact, that is the biggest danger of having an office romance.

If the affair blows up so may the workplace environment. It could lead to one employee doing everything and anything to avoid the other; difficulties in getting work done when working together; and, in the extreme, cyber-bullying.

The truth is office romance is inevitable because people work closely together for hours and can get to know each other in an intimate way that leads to sexual advances. The real question is: Should employers try to stop them?

Report Dating to HR

Can anything be done from the employers’ perspective to reign in the practice? Of course, office romance can be prohibited, but that is unlikely to make a difference when hormones are raging.

An employer should require employees to report dating relationships to the HR department, not to prevent them necessarily but to make both parties aware and sign-off that they are engaging in a consensual relationship. It is like a pre-nup for an office romance. Moreover, if the company has a sexual harassment policy, they should make it clear they understand the rules.

‘Dangerous Liaison’ Syndrome

Most office romances end, some with lingering awkwardness when one member of the couple wishes that the romance could continue and the other does not. The “dangerous liaison” syndrome is likely to disrupt the workplace. Patterns of distrust emerge. Sides are taken. Reputations are damaged.

The possibilities of retaliation and retribution threaten every assignment and evaluation. Lawyers.com found that the fear of reprisal after a romance ends affects 67 percent of those who have been so involved.

Summary

Here is my final advice. Before you take the plunge consider how you would feel if you lost your job. Everyone who has experienced heartbreak knows that proximity to an ex can be unbearable. All too often, say experts, failed office romances result in one person leaving the job–willfully or not.

 Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, posted this on this blog on a previous Valentine’s Day.

https://www.ethicssage.com/about-the-ethics-sage.html