Change is Easier Said Then Done – But it Can Be Done

bigstockphoto_Change_Ahead_5993268Have you ever thought about why you do – what you do – when you do it? William James, an American Philosopher and Psychologist, believes that most of the decisions we make are because of the habits we create. Habits control how we act and react in most situations. Researchers at Duke University believe that 40% of the actions people perform each day aren’t made by conscious decisions – but by habits. Habits, good or bad,have become ingrained in us and we routinely do them without thinking about them. What’s the first thing you do in the morning when you wake up? I’ll bet you do the same thing – in the same order – every morning. And if you break from routine it can throw off your whole day. When do you put on your seat belt? Do you put your seat belt on before or after you start your vehicle? If we are anything at all we are creatures of habit.

Worth Remembering … “Our habits may control our destiny, but we control our habits. Before we change our habits we must change our thinking.” – Author Unknown 

When you change the habit – you change the result. If you could exchange one habit for another, which habit would give you the best return on your time investment? Psychologists refer to that as a keystone habit. Think of it as cause and effect. If you change your eating habits chances are you’ll have more energy, sleep better, and you’ll start to look better and feel better about yourself. New Year Resolutions fail because we failed to replace one habit with another. A good habit gets you a good result – just as a bad habit gets you a bad result – it’s just that simple. We are adults and we can develop new habits. Behaviorists believe that if you do something 21 times in a row you’ll develop a new habit. All you have to do is stop doing one thing and start doing another and if you do it often enough, it will become you. However, we all know change is easier said then done – but it can be done. You just need to want it bad enough. You just need to develop a new routine.

Worth Remembering … “We are what we repeatedly do – therefore excellence is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle.  

If you want to improve how you manage your time what one new habit will you have to develop? If you want to communicate more effectively with others, cope with stress or deal with difficult people and challenging situations better what one new habit will you need to develop? Think routine – think reward. The easiest way I found to develop a new habit was to change my routine. And once you start a new routine stick with it. Remember you need to do something 21 times in a row before you start doing it without thinking about it. Tiger Woods has a pre-shot routine that he does every time he prepares to hit a golf ball. If you aren’t getting the reward you want then you need to change your routine. As Les Brown says “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result”.

Worth Remembering … “Failure is only postponed as long as courage coaches ambition. The habit of persistence is the habit of victory” – Herbert Kaufman

I need to start exercising but I just don’t seem to have enough time in the day to do it. By the end of the day I’m too tired to bother. All I want to do when I get home is pour a glass of wine and then sit on my couch and do absolutely nothing. I enjoy that time so for me – the best time to exercise will be in the morning. I need to change my morning routine to include 15 minutes of stretching, squats, planks and push ups. I’m an early riser so getting up 15 minutes earlier won’t be a problem for me.  The benefits of having a daily exercise routine far out weigh me having to change my morning schedule. That’s the key – the reward has to be greater than the effort it will take to accomplish it. I know that the more I do it – the more it will become me. I will have accomplished what I set out to do. What new routine will you have to create to accomplish what’s most important to you? Anytime is a good time to start a new beginning so you might as well start right now.

Copyright (c) 2014. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Brian is available for keynote speeches and facilitating workshops of a variety of soft-skills topics including: communication, time management, coping with stress, problem solving, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations better and developing the leader in you. To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com

Even an Old Dog Can Learn a New Trick 3

images (23)Science has proven that most adults never lose the mental capacity to learn new things – they lose the desire. And science has also proven that if you don’t use it (your mental capacity to learn new things) you’ll lose it. Even an old dog can learn a new trick when conditions are right for learning. In a perfect world, your world, where would you rather be than where you are right now? Who would you rather be with then the people you are with right now? What does the perfect life or perfect career look like to you? I’m a student of human behavior and I believe two things for certain about people. I believe we can have and do anything we want to. It depends on two things. Your WIIFM and your ATTITUDE. Both of them are in your control.

Worth Remembering … “If you believe it – you can achieve it. Once the what has been decided the how will  follow” – Unknown

WIIFM:  Have you ever licked a 9-volt battery? When people do something that makes them feel good, what are they more apt to do? If you liked the sensation you got from licking that 9-volt battery, then you’re more likely to lick it again. I believe that people are inherently self-serving and will only do something if they believe they are going to benefit from it. Motivation is inside out – never outside in. Life is all about WIIFM’s. (What’s in it for me). God bless those that volunteer their services or donate money for a good cause. However, I don’t think they would continue to do it if they weren’t getting something out of it. We volunteer our services or donate our money because it makes us feel good about ourselves – that we are making a difference – that we are paying it forward. And feeling good about ourselves and the choices we make is the payoff – it’s the WIIFM. What’s your WIIFM? What will motivate you to take action?

Worth Remembering … “Anything can be taken away from man but one thing – to choose ones attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl 

ATTITUDE:  Try this little experiment. Take each letter of the alphabet and assign value to each letter so that A = 1 all the way down to Z = 26. After you’ve done that, write down the word ATTITUDE and assign the value to each one of those letters. You’ll be amazed to discover that the word attitude adds up to 100%. Think about that for a second. Attitude = 100%. You own your attitude 100% of the time. Only you get to decide how you want to react to any given situation. Yes it’s true that other people or events may be one of the motivating factors that got you to react a certain way but, only you can mentally or physically do it. No one else can do it for you. You are the only one who can have that kind of power over you. Attitude is a choice – your choice. It’s a choice that you get to make 100% of the time.

Is there a connection between your WIIFM and your ATTITUDE? I believe there is. I believe that you need to react to any given situation in a way that is going to get you what you want. You can choose to be happy and do the things that make you happy or not. You can choose a career that is best suited to you and your skills or not. You can choose to allow others to take away your voice and do the thinking for you or not. You have the power to say yes or no. Choose wisely. Make sure you’re getting your WIIFM.

Copyright (c) 2014. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Brian is available for keynote speeches and facilitating workshops on a variety of soft-skills topics including: communication, time management, coping with stress, problem solving, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations better and developing the leader in you. To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com

The Best Juggler Wins – The Tale of Six Rocks 1

images (18)Forget about living a balanced lifestyle. I don’t believe there is such a thing. But you can keep your life in balance by learning to juggle. Pretend for a moment that you are juggling six rocks; health, wealth, relationships, volunteerism, brain and hobby. Each rock is important, some rocks may be more important than others at times,  but the secret to creating a balance in your life is to make sure you spend some of your time nurturing each rock. The key is not to spend too much time on one rock, at the expense of ignoring another, because that may put you out of balance. Sometimes too much of a good thing is not a good thing. We all have 168 hours in the course of a week – no more or no less. Your challenge is to schedule your time effectively and efficiently so that you spend some of your time on each rock. You don’t need to spend an equal amount of time on each, but you need to spread it around.

Worth Remembering … “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton 

The best juggler wins a life that is in balance and as close to perfect as you can get.

Health: You need to take care of yourself. You need to eat right, exercise right and sleep right. If you aren’t right – then what’s the point.
Wealth: Yes your career is important – it affords you the money you need to be able to live the kind of life you envisioned for yourself and your family. But don’t sacrifice one for the other. When the time comes to reap the benefits of your hard work, you’ll want someone to share it with.
Relationships: We are emotional beings. We need to “connect” with others. Reach out – when you show an interest in others, others will show and interest in you. People like to work with and do business with people they like.
Volunteerism: Give back. Paying it forward is a great way to  build up your self-esteem and self-esteem in others. It’s the law of attraction. You get back what you give out.
Brain: Never stop learning. The moment you think you have nothing else to learn is the moment you fall behind. Your brain is a muscle. It needs exercise.
Hobby: You need to schedule “Me” time. You need to be able to step back from your day-to-day activities and recharge your batteries. Find something you enjoy doing other than the work that you do, and spend some of your time doing it. Lighten up – have some fun.

Worth Remembering … “Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work everyday – some.” – Robert Fulgham 

How you manage your time is how you manage your life. Learn to juggle because the best juggler wins.

Copyright (c) 2014. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Brian is available for keynote speeches and facilitating workshops on a variety of soft-skills topics including: communication, time management, coping with stress, problem solving, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations better and developing the leader in you. To find out what he can do for you visit. http://briansmithpld.com

Checkmate – How to Become a Better Leader in Four Moves 2

Leadership Cycle Coloured 2Whether you are in a management position or play a leadership role in your organization, the challenges remain the same. New leadership skills are required for the workplace of today and for the forseeable future. Success in managing or leading others is no longer dependent on your technical abilities alone. Soft-skills, your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, build collaborative teams, problem solve, resolve conflict and deal with difficult people and challenging situations better, now plays a more pivotal role in your success and the overall success of your organization and your people.

I believe to be a really great manager or leader you need to master all four disciplines of my “Four Step Leadership Development Model” (c) . The work environment is changing and you need to adapt to keep pace with those changes. You must have exceptional people skills and be able to bring people together, communicate often, teach others what they’ll need to know and then learn to get out of their way and let them do it. Don’t get left behind – learn to manage and lead the 21st Century way.

Congregate: “To collect into a group or crowd; to come together into a group, crowd or assembly.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Your success and the overall success of your organization begins and ends with your ability to bring people together. If you can’t connect with others on an emotional level, then you stand little chance of assembling a cohesive team. You are only as good as the people around you. Each individual is a vital link in the chain. Get to know your people for more than the job that they do. People like to work with people they like. Successful managers and leaders know how to develop those all important relationships and build collaborative teams.

Communicate  “To convey knowledge of or information about; to cause to pass from one to another.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Communication isn’t just something – it’s everything! If you can’t communicate – you can’t manage or lead others. I can’t think of a more valuable skill set for managers and leaders to have, than the ability to communicate effectively up, down and across the organization. If you can’t send the message and have it received the way it was intended – then what you said means absolutely nothing. The words you choose and how you go about saying them can be the catalyst for action or inaction. 

Educate “To train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession.” – Merriam Webster Dictionary. I don’t believe there is any such thing as common sense. The only thing common about common sense, is that it’s not very common. We should call it “Life Sense” because it seems the older we get, the smarter we get. We aren’t born knowing what we need to know, to be able to teach someone else what they need to know. I believe having the ability to teach someone else is a learned behavior. Successful managers and leaders are great teachers and coaches.

Delegate “To entrust to another; to appoint as one’s representative.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. If you fail to delegate you are robbing your people of their opportunity to grow. Successful managers and leaders understand that they aren’t the end all and be all. Successful managers and leaders understand that they must give up control to get control. Resist the urge to micro-manage others. Your ability and willingness to delegate effectively are essential to freeing up your time, so you can carry out your duties and responsibilities as a manager or leader.

Any time is a great time to start a new beginning. Which one of these four disciplines; congregate, communicate, educate or delegate will you need to improve upon to be a more effective manager or leader? Don’t get left behind – you can become a better leader in just four moves.

Copyright (c) 2014. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Excerpts from Brian’s soon-to-be-published workbook “Leadership Lessons from a Reformed Control Freak – The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century(c)”. Brian is available for keynote speaking or facilitating training sessions on a variety of soft-skills topics including: communication, time management, problem solving, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations better and developing the leader in you. To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com