Is it half full or half empty? This is a question that has been around for many years and used to help individuals recognize what they are focusing on....the positive (half full) or the negative (half empty).
We live in a this or that type decision world. We are conditioned to believe there is a right and wrong answer, or, we must chose between this option or that option. We believe it can only be this or that...and believe we have to keep fitting within the walls of choices presented to us.
Instead, there are other options that many don't consider. What if the glass is both....and it is your choice what you chose to focus on. In addition, it is full...half with liquid or solid, and half with air. Or another approach, what if you measured the bottom half...it might be 47% full and 53% empty, but to the eye, it may look like half. Or, you could suggest that it can't be full to the brim because it would spill, so you lose a couple of percentages. There are all kinds of possibilities. This is innovative, thinking outside of the box, out of the norm choices. So often, people never even consider thinking outside the box, and thinking about solutions that haven't been presented.
The other day our daughter was making us BLT's. She asked if we wanted avocado on it? I have never been asked that....traditionally BLT's have mayo. For those that cook, it is common to use avocado as a healthier choice over mayo. Great new discovery!
Whether you are an entrepreneur, or an employee, to start thinking more innovatively, start asking yourself different questions.
-What is another way to do this
-Is there another way to solve this challenge
-What haven't I done yet
-Is there something I am missing
-Is there someone I could get advice from that has experience in this
-If I wasn't afraid to _____, what would I do
-Who is doing this differently that I could learn from
-Is there something new I can study that will help me learn more about this
-How can I get around this
-Why couldn't I ______
These are just a few examples to get you started. But there are literally hundreds of questions you can ask yourself in any situation, to start thinking more outside the box. We all have a creative side to our brains, some use this naturally, and some have to develop it. I used to be a very analytical thinker, very much in the box. I have learned to utilize the other side, that creative side of my brain. It is freeing and fascinating to tap into this side of the brain and discover new possibilities you have never considered. My first introduction to this, was reading a great book by Dan Pink called Drive. It opened up part of my brain that I didn't believe prior to reading this, I was capable of.
Individuals that take this thinking on, being innovative, solution oriented, developing ideas that others haven't considered will set themselves ahead of those that live in a limited, conformed mindset. It is a necessary skill to develop to thrive in the 21st century workplace.
I read an article recently talking about employee retention. There was a comment made about mature workers that are "more likely to stay with you due to financial obligations and the difficulty in finding new jobs as one ages"
This is a valid point, but why would you want anyone with this criteria? This describes a person that has settled in life, doesn't realize they have choice or a voice and will likely not bring anything of value to the table in the way of innovative new ideas.
There is a big difference between the person like this and the person that decides on a job and hangs their hat there for years because they are engaged and fulfilled in their work. They are not there because of financial obligations or fear of not finding another job. They are there because they want to be....they believe in the company, the people and the purpose and they want to play a role in making a difference. They are not looking for where the grass is greener...they are happy and fulfilled where they are.
In hiring it is equally important to know what not to look for as well as what you prefer.
I have this sign in our home. It's just one of many positive, encouraging words or phrases that I have scattered about our home. This is a visual reminder of the power of a seemingly simple decision that has affected every single aspect of my life. If my husband and I had not fallen in love, our lives would be totally different than we know it today. We would not have our children, our home, our community, our families, our friends or our work. We would not have the 30+ years of wonderful experiences and memories. Everything would be different. Everything we have experienced together, is a result of that one, initial decision. There have been many decisions since, that are all connected to that one decision. Some have been good decisions, some have not...but combined, they have all worked as stepping stones to create the amazing life we are living.
Just as I did in my personal life, something I learned many years ago in business, was to get very clear on what I wanted, and only make decisions that support my goals. This is a simple concept that many miss as they analyze and complicate the process of decision making.
As I was learning to make this an automatic part of my thinking, I used a question each time I was making a decision - "will this decision bring me closer or further away from my goals?" This question makes it very easy to make the decision, because, if it is bringing you farther away from your goals, it is like a red flashing light you are making the wrong decision.
If you determine the decision is bringing you further away from your goals, it is a sign to either change your decision to support your goals, or re-evaluate your goals and choose something you are willing to be 100% committed to.
If you determine the decision will bring you closer to your goal, you know you are making the right decision and then must follow through.
In order to follow through with this thinking, you must be willing to:
-Push through fear - You may be fearful of something you haven't done. When I first became an entrepreneur and trainer, I had to get over the fear of speaking. I distinctly remember the feeling of extreme fear, and started that talk from stage with the words "I feel like I'm going to be sick". Actually it wasn't quite that polished, but I got through it and proved something to myself. Although I was scared to death, I learned I could feel that fear inside, and DECIDE to take the action anyway. This was a powerful experience and the first step in many to become comfortable speaking to large groups.
-Push through uncertainty - When you are striving towards a goal, there will often be times that you feel uncertain about your ability. You may doubt yourself and feel you don't have enough knowledge. We are fortunate today to have unlimited resources to learn. The internet has made it possible for anyone to research and learn to improve their knowledge. When the desire to learn is strong enough, the decision to learn is easy. A tip - successful people are always continuing to learn and grow themselves.
-Make the commitment - Many will put off making a decision because they are afraid to make the commitment required. One of the most powerful things a person can do is make a commitment to themselves and keep that commitment no matter what. When you learn to follow through and keep the commitments you make to yourself, it builds confidence and self esteem.
-Take action - This is what brings it all together. Without action, nothing happens. Great ideas are of no value without action.
Successful entrepreneurs have made a habit of making bold, powerful decisions that support the direction they want to go. There are still fears and uncertainties, but those that create success have learned to push through and take action anyway, despite those fears and uncertainties. This teaches you that those fears and uncertainties were much bigger in your mind than they actually were in reality.
Old style management still believes they must rule their employees with an iron fist, instilling fear to gain respect and results. These bully style, ego driven managers believe the constant threat of losing their jobs is what brings out the best in people. This may have worked in the industrial age, but it is not effective in today's work environment.
It's been stated that 75% of the workforce will be millennials by 2015. This is a group that is more educated than previous generations, they are more confident, know what they want, will not put up with poor treatment and are not threatened by losing their jobs. Thankfully, this generation is not a generation of followers, living in a fear based society, sacrificing what they deserve for a paycheck.
If todays employees really want to leave, they will leave. It is much better to develop a great culture and working environment where people feel valued, rather than building a fear based culture based on threats. When employees do leave a great culture and working environment, for whatever reason, they can become your biggest cheerleaders. With the power of the internet and social media, this is often the best free advertising a company could get. How much more powerful is that for future growth than an ex employee that bad mouths your organization?
Last week we were receiving weather warnings for 24 hrs in advance of an upcoming storm the next day. 15 cm of snow and winds picking up to 50 km/hr. At 8 am, when people would be leaving for work commutes, the snow was already coming down hard and winds were picking up. It was clearly evident by simply looking outside, and checking the forecast, that no one should have been driving.
I spoke to an employee of a business out of town, and by 9:40 am, the employees in this business were all leaving to go back home, after being given "permission". How unfortunate that these people were not given the space to make a judgement call about the weather, and felt they had to risk the roads to go into work. How unfortunate that they were not confident enough in their own decisions. How unfortunate they chose to go in because they felt obligated and felt like they didn't have choice. There were several fatal accidents that morning. How unfortunate that those that lost their lives may have felt this way and were driving into a similar job.
These are precisely the type of things that lead to disengagement and dissatisfaction within an organization.
Why is it important to give employees the space to make good judgement calls?
-Builds trust - they will feel like doing more for a company that puts them first. They won't mind staying late for other projects down the road because they know the company appreciates them, and stands behind them.
-Builds confidence - they will perform better. When people are not given the space to make simple judgement calls, they lose confidence and this affects other areas of their performance. Build their confidence and they step into their own greatness and prove what they are capable of.
What did the snow day example demonstrate to employees?
-The decision makers couldn't make a simple judgement call before everyone risked their lives. This causes distrust.
-The company didn't truly care about their people. This causes resentment.
-Employees lives are not valued over profits. This causes disengagement and destroys company culture.
This is the reality of the message the employees feel in situations like this. They don't feel valued, they become disillusioned and distrust and resent the company.
Giving people the space to make responsible decisions helps them take ownership of those decisions, which builds their leadership, self esteem, confidence and personal responsibility. Respect and trust for the company goes up, it increases their level of happiness and job satisfaction, which leads to higher engagement and more productivity. A true win/win for both the company and the employee, which is how long term successful businesses are built.
I'm very pleased to be invited to publish articles on Linkedin....feel free to share with anyone that you feel would benefit from these articles...
Debbie Ruston - Success Educator & Home Business Mentor
It isn't how to write a business plan, how many staff to hire, or how to budget. There are obviously things like this to learn when running a business, however, the most important questions start before you get to that point.
Ask yourself - WHY do I want to be self employed? It isn't enough to say you don't like your boss. Although that may be a trigger that sets your entrepreneurial wheels in motion, it has to be more than that. So you don't like your boss. Join the crowd....most don't. So what makes your situation different and why are you leaving the perceived safety of having a job, to starting your own business? Take some time to think about this from your heart and take the time to really think this through. An example of how this could look: (you may want to print this page off, so you can go through this properly when you have time)
"I don't like my boss"
-List all the reasons you have made this statement
-Do you like the company, if not, list all the reasons
-Do you like your co-workers, if not, list all the reasons
-Do you like the work, if not, list all the reasons
*-If you did like the work, list all the reasons why you liked it
*-Is there work you would like to do you haven't had a chance to?
-could you change jobs and would that make a difference
-if not, why
*-why do you want a business instead of changing jobs?
-did you answer you want to make more money?
-why do you want to make more money?
-is that the most important thing to you?
-if yes, why?
*-look at your previous answer, and ask why?
*if not, what IS important to you?
*-what are your ideas, interests, skills, passions experience?
These questions will uncover to you the real reason you want to start a business. It is very revealing when you take the time to go through this exercise. Understanding why you want to become a business owner, and what brought you to this spot will assist you in deciding what type of business to start. Too often people choose a business because they really don't know what else to do and they have not done this preliminary reflecting. For instance, a person may start a franchise. They don't realize the limitations and long hours they would be putting in, and the amount of time it will take to pay off that investment. That may not be the solution they actually wanted.
This person may want a business to stop working the long hours they are putting in at their job. To start a franchise that will require long hours would not be the best solution to achieve the goal of more family time, and will most likely cause even more stress and frustration for the individual and their family, because that would also require a substantial investment. This leaves the franchise owner feeling like they have to work long hours to pay off the investment.
To make a better choice, look at the answers to the questions that have a * beside them. It's important to identify what you are not happy with, what you really love, your underlying motivating factor (as in being with your family more), what's truly important, ideas, interests, skills, passions and experience. This will allow you to explore from the heart the direction you should be taking. You will find answers here that you hadn't previously considered. This will allow you to do work that is meaningful and fulfilling to you. You will truly understand the real reasons you are taking this step and be able to make better choices.
You don't learn these things in business school. This comes from real world experience, from those that have walked the walk, been through the challenges, learned from their mistakes, overcome adversity and those that have been willing to do what ti takes for as long as it takes. If you are contemplating entrepreneurship, take the time to think these things through...you will be happier with the outcome.
Regardless of whether we are talking about business, relationships or dieting, many people are accustomed to buying into their own excuses. Why is it that someone can state they want to achieve something, yet, when it comes to taking action, they don't follow through?
-They were not committed in the first place - There is a difference between wanting something and actually committing to it. You can want to lose weight, but unless you are willing to implement proper eating and exercise, you will not reach the goal. This must be something an individual is willing to do for as long as it takes. That is commitment.
-They don't have confidence in their ability to achieve the goal - Confidence comes from doing. I remember the first time I was invited to speak at a business function. I was not confident, I was actually quite the opposite and was a nervous wreck for months prior to the speaking engagement. Something I learned a lot time ago though, was to keep stepping out of my comfort zone. So even though I didn't feel confident as I spoke the first time, and probably a dozen times after that, I kept accepting the invitation to grow. I kept stepping out of that comfort zone until I did feel confident.
-Afraid of making a mistake - Understand you will make some mistakes along the way. That is ok, learn to embrace those mistakes and realize they are opportunities to learn, not mistakes. When you learn by doing something the wrong way, you are also privileged to learn the right way, or in many cases, a new way that no one else has thought of. This gives a new distinction in thinking you may not have realized had you simply done it the way everyone else does. Also learn to lighten up an don't take yourself so seriously. No one is perfect...mistakes are made. Take responsibility and move forward.
-Attempting to be perfect - The challenge with being perfect, is the procrastination that takes place in pursuit of perfectionism. Perfectionism cannot be maintained long term. Strive for excellence instead and get out of procrastination and into action.
-They want results yesterday and are not willing to stay the course - Anything worthwhile takes time. The world is full of people that just want the short cuts. Although some will have short term success with this approach, long term success is built by doing the right things with a high level of ethics and integrity and staying the course, continually taking persistent action steps towards the goal.
-They have fears that are stopping them - Many people stop in their tracks when fear arises and don't take the actions required, because they are too afraid. Fear is something that every single person feels. The difference between those that achieve their goals and those that don't, is successful people have learned to push through fear, understanding that fear disappears when you have the courage to face it.
-They have limiting beliefs about what they are capable of - This is where desire comes in. There are always going to be situations where you will think that you can't do something, that it is beyond your capability. There is nothing a person cannot do provided they are willing to learn.
-They don't allow for adversity - With success, you will also experience adversity. It is simply part of the process that all successful people experience. This is often where people give up, because they have bought the excuse that something went wrong, or it was too hard, and don't realize they have to push through this.
Ask yourself who you are being? The person that buys into one or more of these excuses, or, the person that is committed and willing to push through to achieve the result you want. Identifying your excuse is the first step to conquering it.
I'm not a sports fan at all. I didn't have any interest in watching the recent Sochi Olympics, which was definitely being in the minority being a Canadian. Every eye in my family and social circle were engaged and watching every moment of the games. People were watching from work, from home, getting up earlier, and staying up later to accommodate time differences between Canada and Russia.
The final men's hockey game between Canada and Sweden was on the last day of a weekend cottage getaway for a friends 50th birthday. The game was at 7 am on a Sunday morning, and everyone was up ready for the game between 6-6:30 am. Being as the TV was in the living room I was sleeping in, I too watched the game.
It isn't something I would normally have chosen to do. However, as I watched the game, I looked at it from a different perspective than everyone else in the room. I was watching from more of a business perspective. Watching the players actions as the game unfolded. Sweden came out strong and with my limited knowledge of the game, it appeared were going to dominate the game and ultimately win the gold medal.
Although Sweden was stronger in the first few minutes of the game, what I noticed was the Canadian players response. They didn't panic. They didn't fight. They didn't lose their focus. They maintained their professionalism. They took control...by strengthening and tightening up their defense and played their strengths. They seemed calm. They worked together as a team. They truly played at the highest level that you would expect of gold medal athletes.
I was impressed with the level of leadership displayed by the players at this level. So different than what we typically see in "professional" hockey we see on t.v. There was no fighting. There was talent. Talent, vision, teamwork, and leadership was outshining everything else. At the end, to no one's surprise, Canada brought home the gold.
We hear all the time, about people "cracking under pressure" and not performing at their maximum capability, while others just seem to step into the greatness they are fully capable of. What did this hockey team display that could be applied to the world of business and help people step into their greatness?
-A team of people working hard together to achieve the vision set forth by the visionary leadership of an organization
-A team of confident, like minded people that are able to work together confidently throughout challenges or pressure
-Maintaining focus, keep doing what it takes for as long as it takes
-Don't react when things appear to be going off course....simply course correct using your strengths and regain focus
-Be professional and have the mindset of a gold medal athlete
-Maintain your integrity, play the game like you are a gold medal athlete
Stepping on the ice can be comparable to stepping into business each day. Imagine if every person in your organization stepped onto the ice, each day, with the mindset of a gold medal athlete and played at the level we witnessed the Canadian men's gold hockey team play!
Do you feel like you have to have everything perfectly figured out in advance? Do you find that you procrastinate and don't take the actions you know you should? Would you consider yourself a perfectionist? Do you analyze everything to death? Do you feel like you are often stalled and taking no action is the result because you have so much analysis going on in your mind? How many times have you been stalled in the action steps you should be taking because you are attempting to figure out every possible step and outcome in advance? Something I have learned to do is to always just take the next step to bring you closer to where you want to be.
We can't predict what the future is, or what taking a particular step will result in. We can pre plan it in our mind, but very often it is not quite what we envisioned. It is during the process of taking the step that we often figure out the next step to take, as a result of something that may have happened during that process. For instance, we decide to contact someone as our next step and during the conversation with that person, you learn some valuable new information, that gives you a new step to take which you couldn't possibly have known to take in advance. Sometimes, it is a course correction that you couldn't have known to take, without this new information you gained from the last conversation.
As I have taken these steps consistently, I have often paused to look back and thought I couldn't possibly have imagined these new steps would present themselves as opportunity. Some of the things that have happened have amazed me, and I didn't imagine would have come along. Very often, I didn't even know these new things I have come across existed until I got to that spot of learning and being introduced to the new idea. Understanding this concept takes the pressure off of pre planning and feeling like you have to have the whole picture figured out perfectly. And very often it turns out better than you even imagined when you first started out towards the goal. Just taking the next step with intention reveals the next step to take. So simple, it is often overlooked.
How have you seen this play out in your action steps?
Isn't in interesting how often people want to give us advice that are not qualified to give us that specific advice, yet before we understand this concept, we often have the experience where we give in to their beliefs instead of our own.
Here's an example: A young woman wants to start her own business and leave her nursing career, but a "well meaning" co-worker is attempting to discourage her stating that most businesses fail. This is an employee giving advice on what it takes to be successful in business. This person has never been a business owner, yet is attempting to advise on this subject. She is not qualified to give advice, and has no experience or credibility in the subject area. She is giving advice based on what she has "heard", not on what she has experience in. Yet, this happens to people every day....they take "well meaning" advice from people in their lives that have no business giving them advice because they have not had success in that area.
So many people are talked out of their dreams every day because of this type of "well meaning" individual. It is such a simple concept - only take advice from those that have had success in the area you want to improve upon. If you want to build a stronger more loving marriage, ask the couple who has the best relationship you know. If you want to advance in your career, ask the person that has done what you want to do. Learning not to take advice from these stoppers in our lives is one of the best ways to build trust in your own decisions.
Without identifying specifics, share what category your biggest stopper was -
-a family member
-an educator or coach (sports or other)
This will assist others in recognizing how we are surrounded by stoppers in our closest circles, but despite that, we can choose to step outside of the advice they give and create success anyway.
Many years ago, I learned a concept called Know For Yourself. Know for yourself is learning to break the habit of needing other people's opinions and approval, and learning to trust your own internal judgments.. You learn to build autonomy, and move away from masses thinking, because imitating the masses builds a life of conformity.
Know for yourself is a concept that I feel I had been searching for all my life. I have always had my own thoughts and opinions, but I felt that I wasn't capable enough to really accept my thoughts as being correct for me.
This really comes from all the past conditioned beliefs we are taught growing up. We are taught to take certain experts words and advice as the only correct answer. Much frustration can set in for individuals when you feel deep down your intuition is telling you something, but you are overriding it because a perceived expert or guru knows better.
An example may be something as simple as your doctor telling you to get the flu shot. There has been so much fear instilled into society over the last few years about the need to get the flu shot. Doctors suggest it every time you are in the office. The drug stores offer it, there are ads in magazines, tv, etc. There are signs everywhere you go, including the airport! People line up for hours to get their flu shot because someone in a white coat has told them they should, and without question, they buy into it.
I have an uncle that had the flu shot when it first came out, and within days he became a vegetable, at age 60, and has been in a nursing home ever since, barely recognizing anyone and unable to care for himself. This, along with my understanding of know for yourself, was a re-confirmation that despite what a Dr. may tell me I need, I do my own research and take full responsibility for my health. Whenever I have anything at all that needs to be addressed with my health, I fully research online to read and educate myself on all the possibilities and solutions before I walk into a Dr.'s office. I want to be as informed as possible before I simply "accept" the recommendation given, so that I can ask informed questions, and make my own choices. The interesting thing I have observed, is every year my Dr. asks me if I want the flu shot. Every year I remind him about my uncle. Every year it is like I am telling him this story for the first time. I look at the generation before me, and how many never think to question a doctor. People are told to take medication and in many cases, they have 6-8 bottles of pills sitting on their counter and have no idea what any of them are for, and why they are taking them. It is a lack of personal confidence and not realizing they can ask questions. Many feel that they could never question someone with "authority". No one will ever care about your own health and well being as much as you. Taking full responsibility for our health is just one more area of life that the principle of know for yourself comes into play.
In my younger years, I strived for perfectionism. Everything in my life, both work and personal had to be perfect. I worked long hours, cleaned my home before the cleaning lady came, did my hair perfectly before going to the hairdresser....the list goes on and on.
Why do people feel they have to do things perfectly? Judgement mostly. Judgement comes from 3 sides....the perfectionist judging themselves feeling nothing is being done good enough, the perfectionist thinking that no one can do something as well as they can, and "thinking" there is judgement from others that everything has to be perfect. This puts so much pressure and stress on the perfectionist they can't keep up with themselves.
Another challenge is procrastination can set in. Because the perfectionist has to do things so perfectly, quite often they delay getting a task started, because they don't have all the answers and haven't got it perfectly planned out in their mind, they keep delaying getting started.
People that are close to someone that is a perfectionist very often feel inadequate. This person feels like they couldn't possibly do things as well as the perfectionist, even though they are fully capable. This can also affect families because the perfectionist often criticizes everything other's do believing it isn't as good as they could do themselves.
People may express their perceived inadequacy to the perfectionist. They very often feel that they wouldn't want to do the task the perfectionist is so good at because they can't do it as well. Doing things at the perfectionist level is not maintainable long-term.... I remember many years ago speaking to some junior people in a company I was working with. I was encouraging them to move forward in their career and follow the path I had taken. They said they would never want to do what I did because it was too much work. This was a huge wakeup for me. The perfectionist is actually robbing people of living into their potential by the over the top example they are setting.
Perfectionism is exhausting, stressful, and comes from the insecure mindset.....a belief that nothing is good enough and everyone is judging them. A better alternative instead, is to strive for excellence. Accept that it is ok not to be perfect. It is freeing! Letting go of perfectionism and striving instead for excellence will positively change every aspect of your life.
Debbie Ruston - Entrepreneur - International Trainer, Visionary Leader