My daily routine involves reading the Wall Street Journal while having my first cup of coffee. During my “read”, I always find my way to the daily “Pepper…And Salt” illustration (yup, it’s a cartoon). This past week addressed the concept of focus in a very powerful yet simple way.
While wearing “The Cone” may not be a fashionable approach, the message – being focused – is important for each of us. What do you do each day to establish and maintain your focus on getting the right things done?
For starters, stop doing things that don’t make any sense. Focus – discipline yourself – to start each day working on those tasks that have the highest reward/payoff. The fact is, you can only properly focus on only a few “key” tasks at one time.
Here are the 4 simple steps you can take to stay focused and get the “right” things done: Continue reading →
As the leader, when you get better, your business gets better. How can you build your world of knowledge? What are you doing to make that happen? What are you going to do tomorrow to make you that much better today? Chris shares some advice.
At times, I’ve used a simple exercise with clients to help them understand that they need to get out of their own way.
I ask them to look at a mirror and tell me what they see. The initial usual responses are “me;” the next James Bond; some famous personality; etc. The list could fill this page.
I then explain that they are looking at the main culprit, problem or obstacle standing in the way of their success.
After 5 or so minutes, I ask them to look in the mirror and again tell me what they see. There are no more cute responses or so-called witty responses. They are now skeptical and have that deer in the headlights look, wondering if I’ve asked a trick question. Continue reading →
You approach your role with an organized and focused “get it done now” sense of urgency.
You focus on results, not just “to do’s”.
You know how to evaluate risks that need to be taken and act only on the correct ones.
You practice positive self-talk that encourages you to believe in your abilities and properly challenge yourself.
You talk with others in a respectful but confident manner.
You are organized and in control; you can’t even spell “overwhelm” let alone talk about it.
You have no interest in blaming others or being overly critical of yourself (no self-guilt); you know that these activities (blame and guilt) wastes time and creates unnecessary emotional distractions.
You ignore negative feedback based solely upon negative opinions lacking any constructive alternatives.
You don’t worry about things you cannot control; you focus on what you can influence or direct.
You work on executing the fundamentals as best as you can, keeping everything as simple as possible.
Graduation “season” is well underway. So for the new graduate, let me offer the following:
As you begin your life’s journey, you will come across more things that you will not like before you find that one thing that “clicks.” That search is a good thing because you are learning a lot as you go.
You’re at a great time in your life and it’s time to “get in the game.” Here are several points to keep in mind: Continue reading →
Of all the skills the best leaders possess, the most important one – in my opinion – is the ability to listen effectively.
When you listen effectively, you learn the right information. The right information is everything you, as the leader, need to properly assess a situation and in turn, make the right decision to get the right things done. Plus, listening effectively sends the message that “you care.”
Listening is a difficult skill to learn and master because it requires you to use your very best effort and focus to:
Sort through the clutter and emotion that often is associated with some conversations.
Ignore the distractions that are a part of all our days.
Eliminate all the unnecessary and unsolicited opinions of those involved.
Get the right facts.
There is an old expression “There are two sides to every story and then there’s the truth.” That sums up the challenges associated with being able to listen effectively. Continue reading →
Throughout my corporate career, I was always in a leadership position with my team depending on me to do the right thing to help them learn and grow to perform at their best level. Why? Well, simple really, because the single most important factor that will determine the success of your company is the quality of the team you assemble, develop and use. Or, in other words, lead.
Leaders succeed by getting the right results on a timely basis. You achieve those results from the work performed by your team – not you alone. If you accept that, then how you help your team find, develop and properly use their full capabilities to bring out their individual and collective greatness is a leader’s most important task.
As such, a leader can only be as good as the performance of their team. And, the team will only be as good as the limitations the leader places on their own performance. In other words, your team will mimic – repeat – your best work habits and your worst work habits.
So, the question to ask yourself is, “Are you setting the best leadership and example you can for your team?” Continue reading →
In today’s challenging business environment, everyone struggles with how to get more done, work harder and longer hours, multi-tasking (multi-dumb!), working faster along with a full range of tricks and shortcuts. Yet despite everyone’s best intentions, the struggle continues every day at desks all around the world.
So, the solution may just be something simpler but challenging for those so set in their ways that they are unwilling to fully embrace the degree of personal change required. Here are the 4 steps – habits – you should consider adopting: Continue reading →
Many of you go through life constantly worrying or obsessing over what others might think about you. You go out of your way to be liked; so much so you even compromise on your own values. You try way too hard to be part of who you perceive to be the “in” crowd. Most of these “crowds” really don’t care about you, so you end up being “alone” in a group. Why not be your own “in” crowd and attract the right people to be with? Stop looking for permission to act even though no one’s permission is needed. You are driven to want to be liked versus being respected. Stop sacrificing your own self-esteem and self-worth for others. Be the person who you respect first—the rest becomes easy after that.
Each of us at some point or another deal with “Clutter” – mentally and more frequently in our office – specifically on our desks and work areas. Uncontrolled clutter can be devastating to you and your team, and it sends the wrong message to your customers.
Early in my career I suffered from “clutteritis” (not sure if that’s a word but it fits here). I was at USLIFE and serving as Senior Vice President of Human Resources when I had to admit to and “own” the fact that I was suffering from clutteritis. This revelation took place for me when my boss – the Chairman & CEO – walked into my office took one look around and said, “Chris, if I ever wanted anything lost, I would send it to you!” Then he turned around and left. Multiple files on my desk, more on the floor and yet even more debris on my windowsill. I was losing the clutter battle and didn’t realize it.
That day and those words have stuck with me over the years.
I use this story periodically with my clients. A close cousin to clutteritis and a symptom of it is multi-tasking (or as I call it “multi-dumb”). But being “multi-dumb” will be the subject of a future Wake-Up call. Continue reading →