Blog

Category: Attitude

How to Boost Productivity During the Dog Days of Summer

Filed under: Attitude, Behavior in the Workplace, Distractions, Focus, Good Habits, Organization, Productivity, Quick Tips, Strategy

You may have loved your job when you started, but it’s not unusual to get in a rut. If you’re experiencing burnout, changing your mindset can bypass it, says Daniel M. Cable, author of Alive aWork: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do, during his interview with Stephanie Vozza of Fast Company.

“Our brains are not wired for routine and repetition at work,” he says. “Disengagement isn’t a motivation problem; it’s a biological one.”

Cable was a professor at the University of North Carolina when he says he lost his zest for his own job and slowly descended into boredom. After being diagnosed and treated for Hodgkin lymphoma, his perspective changed, and he found a sense of gratitude for his job. He stumbled on research about the part of the brain called the ventral striatum, also called the “seeking system,” and its role in being your best self.

“This part of our brain urges us from the time we’re babies to explore what we don’t know,” he says. “Little kids can be given an awesome toy with noises and buttons and they’ll be really into it for a week or few days. Then they find something else that hadn’t seen before, like car keys, and they find that way more interesting. It wasn’t because the thing is cool; it’s because the thing is new.”

When we succumb to these urges, our brain delivers dopamine to reward us and that makes us feel more alive, and the same thing can happen at work, says Cable, currently a professor of organizational behavior at London Business School.

“When we’re in the rut of routine for the 502nd time, this part of the brain shuts off,” says Cable. “Your brain is saying, ‘You’re better than this. We’re not built of this. We’re built for bigger things.’ Then the brain stops the release of dopamine, which makes it seem not only boring but that it takes forever.”

There are three ways you can trigger your brain release dopamine, and get out of your rut, says Cable.

1. Play to your strengths

Identify your signature strengths and the impact you can have by using them on a daily basis. “How can you bring value to the team by using your unique strength?” asks Cable.

When he started tapping into his strength—humor—Cable says he regained an appreciation for his job. “It made me feel good and I saw my students lean in when I used humor,” he says. “As a professor, it was something unique to me. I decided to bring it when I teach class instead of leaving it at home.”

Think of your job as a flexible vehicle and determine how you can bring your strength to it.

2. Be willing to experiment

Avoid the risk of routine by shaking things up. Cable decided to develop new classes instead of teaching the same class over and over.

“A sales manager who was promoted and never got a chance to get out in the field might start going into the field again to talk to clients,” suggests Cable. “It’s just a way to refresh and learn new things.”

Activate that seeking system by going outside of your comfort zone, suggests Cable.

3. Tap into purpose

Finally, analyze cause and effect in your role. We all want to see the impact of our actions, says Cable. Leaders can help employees personalize the purpose of work by providing direct conversations with the people who use work as well as internal decision makers.

“Try to think about the story you want to tell yourself about why you do your job,” says Cable.

You can read the rest of the article on Fast Company.

How to Fall Back in Love with Your Job

Filed under: Attitude, Happiness, Psychology, Self Reflection

With February upon us, staying immune to some variation of the “winter blues” becomes almost as difficult as avoiding the flu. A general sense of restlessness and discontent may try to worm its way into various facets of your life, including your career. Or, perhaps, after the buzz and excitement of the holiday season, your day-to-day feels less satisfying.

You may look back on your current position and wonder when the passion began to fade. This spurs the question, should you stay, or should you go? As a firm believer in second chances, we suggest taking a step back to look at the bigger picture of your experience in this role before kicking it to the curb.

With that said, how do you reignite the spark?

Review the impact you’ve had on the company
Take a moment to look back on your time with this company. Review the role you’ve played in getting your organization or department to where they are now versus when you first started. While doing this, create a list of your achievements and consider if you could continue building upon them. Is this organization a better place in some sense because of the work you’ve done–are you a more skilled professional because of the work that you’ve had the opportunity to do?

Uncover the root of the problem
Sometimes the cause of your dissatisfaction can be easily pinpointed to an exact incident, but more often than not, your current feelings have been built by layers of varied occasions or relationships. In the case of the latter, it may take some self-reflection to reveal when and why you fell out of love. If you’ve had a bad experience with a coworker, fixating on your understanding of that particular incident is an easy route to take, but have you thought about it from their end or looked at the overarching actions that caused the experience to occur? Opening your mind to process a situation from an emphatic approach frequently generates a different perspective and greater respect for the people on the other end.

Look at your relationships
Consider the relationships you’ve formed during your time in this role. How have your colleagues helped you grow, and do they still have knowledge to impart? For many of us, a large portion of our experience is shaped by the relationships we maintain, and a positive or negative team dynamic could make or break your perception. If you’ve been working with the same individuals for a while, maybe you’ve settled into a predictable routine. Try shaking things up by asking your colleagues about their professional background or past experiences. You may be surprised by what you could learn from their past lessons.

Improve your view
Many of us spend a similar amount of time in our workspace as we do in our home. Decorating your house to make it feel like your home is done without question, but often we don’t put thought into personalizing our workspace. Consider the saying that the home is a reflection of the self. Think about that phrase in terms of your work area–a cluttered, impersonal space won’t help you feel connected to the work you’re doing. Of course, you can’t take the same creative liberties in your office as you could in your home. But consider adding some personal touches through photographs of family and friends, interesting desk accessories, plants, a calendar that reflects a personal interest, or books for inspiration. By introducing these elements you create a space that is familiar and comfortable, thereby naturally uplifting your mood.

Broaden your connections
Often in an office-setting, we become unintentionally socially affixed to members of our department or those that we sit near. Lack of exposure to other business areas may be causing you to miss out on great opportunities to broaden your network. Take control of this by asking a coworker from a different department out for lunch or coffee. By engaging with other sections of your company, you may acquire a fresh perspective and understanding of your organization and gain a lasting professional connection along the way.

Communicate what you’re feeling
As in any relationship, maintaining open communication with your teammates is a critical component to success. What feels obvious to you might go unnoticed by others. If appropriate, schedule time to sit down with your boss or teammates and try to talk through your thoughts. Outside perspectives may shed light on the root of your feelings and serve as a reminder of why you fell in love with your job in the first place.

Goal-setting
Now that you’ve done the work, reflecting on your past achievements and company growth, it’s time to look to the future: what could you accomplish in your role this year? Analyze a high-level perspective of your department’s objectives–are there projects in the pipeline that appeal to you? Do you see an opportunity to learn a new skill or strengthen an existing one? If you answered yes to either of those questions, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable with someone else building on the work you started. Begin with the end goals and break them down into phases, then into actionable items, until you have an overarching project plan for success. Has the flame returned yet?

As with most things, we frequently want what we can’t have and overlook the value of what’s in front of us. If you’re willing to put in the work, you may find your “relationship” (aka your job) is stronger than ever before.

How to Network When You Aren’t Sure What You Need

Filed under: Attitude, Communication, Confidence, Networking, Professional Development

Networking is something that makes a lot of people cringe—and understandably so. When people think of the word “networking,” images of forced and insincere flattery comes to mind.

But that’s more often the case when networking is an event—a ritual you perform every once in awhile. Practiced as part of a routine, it can be a lot more livable—just another way of building meaningful relationships. The best time to network is not when you need something, but when you don’t actually have a specific ask in mind. Here’s why, and how to get better at networking when there’s no obvious need you’re trying to fulfill.

WHY YOU NEED TO NETWORK WHEN IT FEELS POINTLESS
Many will immediately recoil at the idea of networking outside the confines of specific events, purpose-built for the occasion, and when there’s a clearly defined need they’re trying to fulfill. After all, networking usually requires pursuing people individually, even if it’s on a casual basis and possibly getting rejected or ignored over and over again.

Continue reading the original article on Fast Company…

5 Remarkably Powerful Phrases That Will Help You Get What You Want

Filed under: Attitude, Communication, Confidence, Good Habits, Psychology

Would you like to be better at getting what you want from your employees, co-workers, customers, bosses, kids, and partner or spouse? Sometimes a change in wording is all you need.

That advice comes from best-selling author and executive coach Wendy Capland. Over the years, she’s learned that certain words and phrases minimize what you have to say, making your requests ineffective. Others have surprising power to influence your listeners. “They increase our effectiveness in communicating clearly and up our ability to get what we want,” she says.

Here are some phrases Capland says are particularly helpful at getting the desired response. Next time you want something from someone, try one of them out, and see if it doesn’t make a difference:

1. What I heard you say is …

Click here to read the rest on Inc. >>

10 Ways to Become a More Confident Person

Filed under: Attitude, Behavior in the Workplace, Confidence, Good Habits, Quick Tips, Success

With confidence, the world just seems like a better place, a sunny day where anything is possible. Without it, the darkness slowly creeps in and your mood begins to decline.

Just like the sun provides crucial vitamin D, confidence provides the “juice” necessary to succeed in both your personal and professional life. Whether it’s fear of the unknown or the scars of past failures, low confidence can occur for many reasons. Below are 10 ways to become a more confident person that should help you in all aspects of your life.

1. Fake it until you make it.
This is a common term for a reason. Clearly, if you are reading this, you are seeking ways to improve your confidence, so faking it may be a good way to start. Eventually, even you may start to believe all the great things about you!

2. Dress the part.
Nothing makes you feel better than looking in the mirror and liking what you see. I consider myself a very casual person, but even I cannot enjoy comfort if it isn’t sometimes contrasted with style and effort. This also applies to grooming.

Click here to read the rest on Inc. >>

You Can Love What You Do for a Living, but Still Think it Feels Like Work

Filed under: Attitude, Focus, Professional Development, Rational Thought, Self Reflection

Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.

Yes, we’ve all heard that sentiment countless times. We repeat it to recent graduates like it’s the only career advice they’ll ever need. We print it on motivational posters, bumper stickers, and encouraging note cards. We incorporate it into commencement addresses. Heck, I’m sure it’s even embroidered on the occasional throw pillow.

But, does this treasured piece of advice even ring true? Will finding a career that you’re insanely passionate about make your entire life feel like one big tropical vacation?

No, I don’t think so. In fact, I think it’s perfectly normal to love your job and simultaneously recognize the fact that it’s hard work.

That’s right—just because you sometimes feel stressed, overwhelmed, or even a little tired doesn’t mean that you’re in the wrong line of work. Here are four facts that debunk that infamous (and misleading) proverb.

Click here to read the rest on The Muse >>

The Hard Truth About Soft Skills

Filed under: Attitude, Communication, Personality, Professional Development

I have a serious issue with the term “soft skills.” You know, those skills that the United States Department of Labor lists as Communication; Enthusiasm and Attitude; Teamwork; Networking; Problem Solving and Critical Thinking; and Professionalism. Every one of those skills is absolutely critical to success in today’s business environment, and calling them “soft” subtly diminishes their importance. Like A Boy Named Sue, soft skills have an image problem, and we need to change that.

“Hard” skills don’t have that image problem. “Hard” connotes tangibility, certainty, and measurability. You have that knowledge, you have that skill, and you are hired to use that knowledge and perform that skill and bring value to the company. Hard skills are essential, because without skill and knowledge nothing gets done.

But today, relying solely on hard skills won’t get the job done either. As we move away from the literal and figurative bricks-and-mortar production model, and toward a more virtual and collaborative work space, soft skills are arguably more essential than hard skills. After all, when breakdowns happen at your organization, is it because your employees didn’t have the specific knowledge or skill to do the job? Not really. We can determine hard skills fairly easily and get people in the right jobs. Failures are far more likely to arise when there’s a communication breakdown, a toxic team dynamic, or a lack of critical thinking. Soft skills don’t seem so soft when you think about it that way.

Click here to read the rest on Inc. >>