Cultivating Gratitude

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How many times have you said thank you without actually feeling… well… grateful? Muttering thanks to the person who held the door for you earlier, the barista who made your latte, and even your sign off “Thanks!” on all your emails can sometimes ring hollow. The sentiment, and most importantly, the good feelings you have behind the words are lost.

Honestly, if you did keep track of “moments of gratitude”, you would have a dozen things to be thankful for just in that morning on your way to work!

Don’t worry. You don’t have to keep track of ALL of it. How about five things? That sounds almost doable, right?

Putting your problems in perspective by focusing on the positive is the first step in overcoming them. And, there’s so much more. Here are some more unexpected benefits to starting a gratitude journal:

1. Good things DO happen and you finally have the “receipts” to prove it! A gratitude journal is literally your important paperwork of life.

2. You keep only memories that bring you joy. Have you ever gone through your old teenage journals and think … “What was I so upset about?! I had free food and wifi!”? If you want a happy life, record only the happy memories and let the bad times slip into oblivion along with your high school locker combination.

3. It’s the perfect way to end your day. Who doesn’t want to have their stress levels lowered right before bed? Skip the Tylenol PM and grab your gratitude journal instead.

4. Your future self will thank you. This is a little bit meta, but by writing out what you are grateful for now, you give your future self something to be grateful for. Gratitude is simply happiness you recognize at a later date.

5. You will find that you go through life extra attuned to “gratitude inspiring” events. How cool is that?

Starting and maintaining a gratitude journal sounds daunting, but it is so worth it. Here are some handy tips and tricks to get started.

1. Keep a small notebook and pen next to your bedside table. You can later invest in a fancy personalized journal. Whatever you have on hand will do just fine.

2. Write – don’t type. Research shows that the physical act of writing is soothing in and of itself.

3. Take a moment to think through what you are grateful for today. Just today. It may not make sense to anyone who is reading it, and that’s okay!

4. Stay the course. This isn’t a journal of events. This isn’t a place to write out your frustrations. Stay positive and keep out the negative.

5. Keep it secret. Don’t share it with anyone. It will only stymie your true thoughts and feelings. Your gratitude journal is a judgement free zone.

Are you ready to smile at the end of every work day? Keeping a gratitude journal is a hidden life hack for being healthier, happier, and more productive.

Try it!

 

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Setting Business Objectives

Setting Business Objectives

Last week we looked at how we hit the end of a quarter!

As you’ve jumped into this next quarter you know you’ve got to set some specific business objectives.

You feel you’ve been crystal clear about what your Team’s goals are and how to reach them. What just became VEEEERY evident in your last Team meeting was that, well, they weren’t.

Now what? We have Coach Michael Lim, a seasoned business Coach who has been on the Coaching Right Now Team for over 3 years, to help us out.

Take it away, Michael!

Mike

 

In setting Business Objectives, we are building a picture of a ‘Target’ for the Team to take aim at. The target provides FOCUS and ATTENTION for the Team to successfully achieve their goal(s). The Target may be easy to see for some. However, how do we ensure that the whole Team knows what success is when the Target is hit?

As I was pondering on the question, I remembered an acronym about S.U.C.C.E.S.S. that I once had on my desk.

S: See your goal

U: Understand the obstacles

C: Create a positive mental picture

C: Clear your mind of self-doubt

E: Embrace the challenge

S: Stay on track

S: Show the world you can do it!

For managers, we can use the same idea to help Team members understand what success looks like.  Here are my thoughts:

S:     Spell out the deliverables clearly using S.M.A.R.T. objectives that can be measured and defined so that they see what a successful goal looks like.

U:    Utilize each individual’s capabilities and understand their limitations so that you can mitigate any obstacles that the team member may present.

C:     Construct a roadmap of milestones and communicate periodic successes so that the team can navigate clearly each step of the way.

C:    Continue to coach, encourage, and motivate team members when self- doubts arise as they face difficulties.

E:     Entrust the tasks to your team members to build ownership and accountability so that they can embrace the challenge.

S:    Schedule milestones and celebrate ‘milestone successes’ to keep the    momentum on track.

S:    Stretch your team’s potential by training, coaching, and building their    confidence so that they can do it too!

 Using this simple SUCCESS model, I believe that you are able to lead your Team to see what success looks like in achieving your business goal(s). At the same time, you are helping your Team members experience success for themselves.

 “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” 

Henry Ford

Creativity at Work: Coloring Outside the Lines While Thinking Inside the Box

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Imagine this: you are sitting on your normal Monday morning conference call being grilled about hitting the weekly benchmarks—sales, profits, team expansions. You have implemented all of the suggested tactics, but the old solutions just. aren’t. working. anymore.

You have new strategies to try, but they fall on deaf ears. Sound familiar?

You aren’t going crazy. There is a barrier against creativity in the workplace – even if we don’t mean to have one! According to research from Cornell University, this creativity bias is a subconscious reaction to avoiding risk and minimizing uncertainty in the face of the unfamiliar. Even if your boss wants (and emphatically states a desire for) new, creative ideas, this creativity bias actually prevents novel suggestions from being recognized, encouraged, and accepted.

So, what can you do to convince your boss that your creative solutions are viable, while toeing the company line?

  • If your company is devoted to developing innovative ideas, try tying innovation to embracing a certain amount of uncertainty. After all, being new, different, or improved requires changing the status quo. Cite exciting, risk-taking thinkers. Think Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Sergey Brin.
  • What if your company has an aversion to all things new? Try reducing the uncertainty and risk for your boss and decision-makers. Are there studies that support your suggestions to improve efficiency, morale, or productivity? Present them as evidence that your suggestions are proven and effective.

Either way, you can color outside the lines while thinking about what’s inside the box.

How have you exercised creativity at work? Share your comments below.

Eyes on the Prize

Eyes on the Prize

 

We recently watched this TED talk by Emily Balcetis on perception and found it FASCINATING.

By focusing their eyes on the prize, “people who had committed to a manageable goal, and believed they were capable of the goal, actually saw [the task at hand] as easier”. Net net? Mind over matter – literally.

So, where you do need a slight mindset shift? Commit to a manageable goal and believe you are capable this week!

There is so much to do!

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It feel likes you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off (literally running between departments and meetings and/or mentally churning with all the projects you’ve got to get done!).

It would be GREAT if you could set priorities – but how in the world do you do that when you can’t even seem to get your thoughts straight?!

This week, we’re going super practical on some tips!

Tip 1: Make and keep a list

At the beginning of each day start out by writing out all you’ve got to accomplish.

And, as more things get added onto your plate, update your list!

Feeling a little sad about the length? That’s ok! It’s better to have all those tasks identified in one place than scattered around your brain.

Tip 2: Mark all your items in order of importance

My guess is that almost everything you are working on is urgent (or you wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed) and you probably feel like everything is important, too.

But, there are only so many hours in a work day and you can only get so much done. So, pick out those 2 or 3 or 5 things that you HAVE to get done today and mark them one color.

Mark those next 5 or 7 times that would be great to get done in a separate color and take all the remaining items and mark them a 3rd color.

Now you’ve got your starting place!

Tip 3: Set time goals for yourself

Look at those items that you have to get done today and think through the following question: if you are at your best and totally focused, how long should each of those take you?

Now, plan out when you’ll work on each of those items and set your goal to be to finish in a specific amount of time.

Zone in, get your coffee in hand, and set your mind to execution mode!

Now – get it done!

Staying Engaged in your Work

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In wrapping up our tips for working from home we’ve got our team member, Audra Brown, on how to stay engaged while working at home. Take it away, Audra!

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 11.08.19 AMThere are days when I can honestly say I miss my life in a cubicle, when getting my job done required little more than the subtle motivations of the workplace: my boss sitting in the glass office across from me, my co-workers entrenched on similar projects, and the constant team meetings, lunch, and water cooler breaks.

Working from home with two small children means that getting my “office” work done with excellence is a whole lot more exciting to accomplish! My role as a work-from-home mom requires me to operate in an environment of constant demands and a timetable that is variable at best.

Although organization (what’s that again?) and time management (wait, you can manage time?!) are key pieces to meeting my deadlines and ensuring I am focused and engaged, I have also found that motivating myself properly is a significant piece in achieving success in an otherwise, as I like to call it, hostile work environment.

It has been said that the best jobs are the ones you love and happen to get paid for. Who doesn’t want to have the best job? I try to make mine just that by finding ways to love what I do, even if that connection isn’t naturally there in the beginning.

Here are some ways I try to engage myself with my work:

  1. Find the areas of each project/task that play to my strengths. How can I exercise my strengths to not only do a good job but possibly take it to the next level?
  2. Define why I care about the outcome and/or the people that will be on the receiving end of it
  3. Discover pieces of my work in which I can incorporate slices of fun, interest, color, or insight
  4. Figure out if I can grow myself as a person through this task and come out more skilled or learned on the other end
  5. Reinforce my vision of the end goal and how I want to feel at the end of it. Recognize what it is going to take to get me there

Lastly, I would add that remembering that I control this project and my attitude towards it (and not the other way around) always takes a bit of the pressure off, allowing me the freedom to truly enjoy my work and take it where it needs to go no matter what hour of the day, night, or weekend I’m working on it!

Working At Home

Working At Home

As the world gets more and more virtual, so does our work. Studies have shown that 3.7 million employees (2.5% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time and more and more companies are moving to be totally virtual.

Sound exciting? We agree – at CRN, we’re proud to be in those ranks as well.

BUT – if you have worked from home for even a small portion of your week, you might have found some interesting traits about yourself and home/work style:

  1. You are so PRODUCTIVE. When you’re not concerned about the commute home, worrying if you locked the front door, or if you have to sign for that delivery – some of the typical stress of being away from your dwelling is completely out of mind and taken care of. You also don’t have the social cues to head to Starbucks with a colleague, or spend a bit more time at the proverbial water cooler, so those extra minutes are spent knocking things out!
  2. Some days, it’s harder to stay focused on the tasks at hand. AND stay motivated. The joy of working from home is that you’re, well, at home. The not-so-joy? All of the off-work distractions are front and center – and there’s no one physically there to hold you accountable.
  3. I’m kind of lonely. It’s harder to fulfill that basic human interaction need when all you’re doing is staring at a computer screen!

What other aspects have you found out about yourself while working from home?

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at a few of our Team’s tips and tricks on how to keep the work-at-home productivity rockin’ and the distractors at bay – to have the most productive, work-at-home day ever.

Stay tuned!