Nature or Nurture – Are You The Boss of You? 1

images (5)Are we born who we are – or do we have the ability to change into someone else? Jerome Kagan, who has devoted his career to studying the emotional and cognitive development of children believes it’s a little of both. His research suggests that introversion – extraversion is only 40 to 50 percent heritable. “To ask whether it’s nature or nurture is like asking is a blizzard caused by temperature or humidity – it’s the intricate interaction between the two that makes us who we are”. After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s take on the 10,000 hour rule I don’t think we are naturally born to do anything. I think you can accomplish what ever you set out to do. You can rewire your brain. I believe you are the boss of you. You and you alone get to decide your fate in life. Only you and you alone get to decide where you end up.

Dr. Carl Schwartz, director of the Developmental Neuroimaging and Psychopathology Research Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital, is convinced that we can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point. “Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead. Part of who we are is ordained at birth by our genes, by our brains and nervous systems”. However, he also believes that because we have “free will” – the power to choose – we can use it to shape our personalities. Susan Cain – author of “Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” refers to this as “the rubber band” theory of personality. Picture yourself as a rubber band at rest. Just like that rubber band you are elastic and can stretch yourself. You can rewire your brain. You are capable of developing different habits to get a different result.

Do you marvel at how some people have the ability to motivate others, inspire people to take action and influence the top decision makers and wished you could do the same? You can learn to do that as well. You can learn to be more patient, empathetic, flexible, open-minded or a good listener? You can learn how to communicate and interact more effectively with others? The question is – Are you willing to put in the time and effort to make the kinds of changes you’ll need to make to realize your full potential? One of the best ways to learn a new skill is to observe someone doing it the way you would like to do it and copy them. Think of someone you admire. What is it about the way they act that you identify with?  Do they remain calm in stressful situations? When they speak – do others listen? Are they really good at making new friends? Do they lead by example? When they walk into a room do others take notice? Are they compassionate towards those less fortunate? You and you alone get to decide your fate in life. Only you and you alone get to decide where you end up. Only you and you alone get to decide the kind of person you want to be. Think it, act it, become it …  You are the boss of you. 🙂

(C) Copyright 2013. Brian Smith-PLD. May not be reproduced without permission. Brian Smith works with people who want to learn how to communicate and interact more effectively; and who want to discover how to get the best out of themselves and others. He is available for speaking engagements, seminars and workshops. Visit http://briansmithpld.com to find out more.

When Will I Know I’ve Become a Leader? 4

13276697651225275782_1_67082723The truth of the matter is there are no naturally born leaders – I believe it’s a learned behavior. There is a “Norma Ray” in all of us. We all have the capacity to lead but not everyone sees themselves as leadership material. What key characteristics do you believe a good leader should have? Think about a leader that you admire. What is it about their leadership style that you identified with? What made you decide to follow them? If you decided to follow them – what makes you think that no one would want to follow you? When will you  know you’ve made the transition from follower to leader?

You know you’re a leader when:

  • When you care more about the success of others then your own.
  • When what you say and what you do are congruent – when you are talking the talk and walking the walk.
  • When you can give up some control and put your faith and trust in others.
  • When you realize you’re not the most important person in the conversation.
  • When you never lose sight of your goals and work towards accomplishing them.
  • When you live your authentic life.  The kind of life you envisioned for yourself.
  • When others choose to follow you.
  • When you decide honesty, integrity and treating others with respect is non negotiable no matter the consequence.
  • When you see a wrong and you work tirelessly to make it right.
  • When you care more about what you think of yourself then what others think of you.
  • When you decide who you want to follow
  • When you decide to do what is right – not what is popular
  • When you can agree to disagree and move on.
  • When you can let go of the past and not let it interfere with the future.

Henry Kissinger, former USA Secretary of State and National Security Advisor said that the task of a leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. Wikipedia defines leadership as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task – somebody who guides and directs others”.  We are all leaders waiting for the right opportunity to shine. Waiting for the right opportunity to make a difference in our own way. 🙂

Copyright 2013. Brian Smith. Not to be reproduced without permission. Brian Smith – Author, Communications Expert and Management Consultant is available for keynote speaking, seminars and workshops. Visit http://briansmithpld.com to find out more.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now Would Things Be Different

If someone had told me 30 years ago that I would own my own business someday  – get married – have a son – and then lose my first business – get divorced – almost lose a relationship with my son – become a college professor – start another business – be a published author – and speak and write for a living – I would have thought they where crazy – or at least delusional at best. Hind sight is 20/20 – as Steve Jobs suggests – it’s much easier to connect the dots looking back then it is looking forward. Would it have made a difference if I knew then what I know now? Not sure. However, I do know that I wouldn’t be the same person I am today because I wouldn’t have had the same life experiences. Experience is the best teacher. Having been there – done that – you learn what to do – and most importantly – what not to do the next time.

Worth Remembering … `Your present circumstances don`t determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start`- Nibo Qubein

Failing builds character.  If you aren’t failing you aren’t trying hard enough. If you aren’t failing you aren’t stretching – growing or moving forward. If you aren’t failing you’re robbing yourself of your opportunity to become the person you were meant to be. To become the person you want to be. One thing I know for certain is that you get to write your own script. Only you get to decide where you want to end up. Your past doesn’t have to dictate your future if you are determined to change the here and now. You get to write your books final chapter.

If you are feeling stuck – then get unstuck. Decide what you want out of life and then put a plan together to achieve it. Life – your life – is a planned event – wishing and hoping won’t make it so. I know I’m making it sound pretty simple. But most things are simple – we just make them complicated. Self-doubt can do that. Self-doubt can paralyze you. Self-doubt can make you settle for less than what you are entitled to. If you don’t believe in yourself – then no one else will. You just need to learn how to get out of your own way.

Worth Remembering … `Life isn`t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself`- George Bernard Shaw

Take George`s advice and continue to press on. Getting knocked down isn`t the problem – not getting back up is. Shoulda, woulda, coulda – should not be part of your vocabulary. Take a leap of faith. Go where the path wants to lead you. Listen to your gut. I`m a great believer in fate. Everything in life that happens to you happens for a reason. You  may not know why at the time you are going through it – but none the less – it`s a lesson you needed to learn – so you might as well accept it – learn from it – and continue to move forward.  Life – your life – really is what you make of it. Enjoy the adventure. You never know what life has in store for you until you give it a go. – Cheers 🙂

Leadership Lessons: When Mistakes are Made Create a Teachable Moment 3

Coaching Session - Digi60 - Ottawa Film Festival

One of the best compliments I had ever received as a Manager was from an employee after I had disciplined her. It took her about 15 minutes after the fact before she realized what I had done. I was reminded of that incident the other day when a reader wrote me and asked me how to go about “calling attention to a person’s mistakes indirectly”. In my management training sessions I talk with team leaders, supervisors and managers about how they need to create “Teachable Moments”. Mistakes are inevitable. Mistakes will happen but discipline should always be a positive learning experience.

It’s difficult for anyone to take constructive criticism in a positive way. (As far as I’m  concerned there is no such thing as constructive criticism only positive feedback) People on the receiving end do take it personal. (It’s human nature) I know for the most part you are giving it for the right reasons.

When working with others it’s important to always be positive. You need to look at mistakes in a positive way. (Look at them as learning opportunities) When mistakes happen – and they will happen – you need to create an environment where it’s OK to fail. You need to create a “Teachable Moment”. You need to be able to separate the act (What the person did) from the person they are. (You’re OK; it’s what you did that isn’t. I don’t want to change you I just want to change what you did wrong.) Try using the “Sandwich Technique”. Think of a sandwich that has two slices of bread (whole wheat multi-grain, lightly buttered, hold the mayo) with a slice of lean roast beef, lettuce and a tomatoes. (If you’re going to eat this sandwich it might as well be a healthy one)

Try creating a “Teachable Moment” by following this simple recipe:

  1. The first thing you need to do is design the right environment. Make sure you have your teachable moment in an area that is conducive to learning. A quiet boardroom, office or on the shop floor if you are going to be teaching someone how to operate a piece of equipment, etc.
  2. Start the conversation off by saying something positive about the person. The years of experience they have that is invaluable to the department and organization. How they contribute to the overall success of the department. The first slice of bread will help you take your emotion out of the equation. The first slice of bread will help you separate the act from the person. Remember the person is OK; it’s the act that you want them to change.
  3. The lean roast beef in your sandwich is what you want them to change. It’s important to let the person know that it’s not them that needs to change but what they are doing. Let them know the negative impact the “act” is having on the team, department and organization. Let the person know you are there to help them be successful. Ask them what they think are the reasons mistakes are happening and what they would recommend be done to correct the problem(s). Together, work out a course of corrective action  that you both can agree on. However, it’s important that they own the plan.  If it’s your plan – and it fails – then you’ve given them an excuse why it failed. If it’s their plan they are more likely to “buy-in” to the process and make it happen.
  4. The second slice of bread is used to bring about closure. Let the person know that you are looking forward to working with them. Let them know that you will be following-up with them to ensure that the plan is getting the desired results. (People do what you inspect not what you expect) Always follow-up. Manage by walking around. Discipline should always be a positive learning experience. Be sure to praise performance. Let them know you are pleased with the progress they are making. “Catch people doing something right and give them a one minute praising” – Ken Blanchard – One Minute Manager.