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10 Things Extraordinary Bosses Give Employees

Good bosses have strong organizational skills. Good bosses have solid decision-making skills. Good bosses get important things done.

Exceptional bosses do all of the above–and more. Sure, they care about their company and customers, their vendors and suppliers. But most important, they care to an exceptional degree about the people who work for them.

That’s why extraordinary bosses give every employee:

1. Autonomy and independence

Great organizations are built on the optimizing of processes and procedures. Still, every task doesn’t deserve a best practice or a micromanaged approach. (I’m looking at you, manufacturing.)

Engagement and satisfaction are largely based on autonomy and independence. I care when it’s “mine.” I care when I’m in charge and feel empowered to do what’s right.

Plus, freedom breeds innovation: Even heavily process-oriented positions have room for different approaches. (Still looking at you, manufacturing.)

Whenever possible, give your employees the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best. When you do, they almost always find ways to do their jobs better than you imagined possible.

2. Clear expectations

While every job should include some degree of independence, every job also needs basic expectations for how specific situations should be handled.

Criticize an employee for offering a discount to an irate customer today, even though yesterday that was standard practice, and you make that employee’s job impossible. Few things are more stressful than not knowing what is expected from one day to the next.

When an exceptional boss changes a standard or guideline, she communicates the change beforehand–and when that is not possible, she takes the time to explain why she made the decision she made and what she expects in the future.

3. Meaningful objectives

Almost everyone is competitive; often the best employees are extremely competitive–especially with themselves. Meaningful targets can create a sense of purpose and add a little meaning to even the most repetitive tasks.

Plus, goals are fun. Without a meaningful goal to shoot for, work is just work.

No one likes work.

4. A true sense of purpose

Everyone likes to feel a part of something bigger. Everyone loves to feel that sense of teamwork and esprit de corps that turn a group of individuals into a real team.

The best missions involve making a real impact on the lives of the customers you serve. Let employees know what you want to achieve for your business, for your customers, and even your community. And if you can, let them create a few missions of their own.

Feeling a true purpose starts with knowing what to care about and, more important, why to care.

5. Opportunities to provide significant input

Engaged employees have ideas; take away opportunities for them to make suggestions, or instantly disregard their ideas without consideration, and they immediately disengage.

That’s why exceptional bosses make it incredibly easy for employees to offer suggestions. They ask leading questions. They probe gently. They help employees feel comfortable proposing new ways to get things done. When an idea isn’t feasible, they always take the time to explain why.

Great bosses know that employees who make suggestions care about the company, so they ensure those employees know their input is valued–and appreciated.

6. A real sense of connection

Every employee works for a paycheck (otherwise they would do volunteer work), but every employee wants to work for more than a paycheck: They want to work with and for people they respect and admire–and with and for people who respect and admire them.

That’s why a kind word, a quick discussion about family, an informal conversation to ask if an employee needs any help–those moments are much more important than group meetings or formal evaluations.

A true sense of connection is personal. That’s why exceptional bosses show they see and appreciate the person, not just the worker.

7. Consistency

Most people don’t mind a boss who is strict, demanding, and quick to offer (not always positive) feedback, as long as he or she treats every employee fairly.

(Great bosses treat each employee differently while treating every employee fairly. There’s a big difference.)

Exceptional bosses know the key to showing employees consistency and fairness is communication: The more employees understand why a decision was made, the less likely they are to assume unfair treatment or favoritism.

8. Private criticism

No employee is perfect. Every employee needs constructive feedback. Every employee deserves constructive feedback. Good bosses give that feedback.

Great bosses always do it in private.

9. Public praise

Every employee–even a relatively poor performer–does something well. Every employee deserves praise and appreciation. It’s easy to recognize some of your best employees because they’re consistently doing awesome things. (Maybe consistent recognition is a reason they’re your best employees? Something to think about.)

You might have to work hard to find reasons to recognize an employee who simply meets standards, but that’s OK: A few words of recognition–especially public recognition–may be the nudge an average performer needs to start becoming a great performer.

10. A chance for a meaningful future

Every job should have the potential to lead to greater things. Exceptional bosses take the time to develop employees for the jobs they someday hope to land, even if the jobs are with another company.

How can you know what an employee hopes to do someday? Ask.

Employees will only care about your business after you first show you care about them. One of the best ways to do so is to show that while you certainly have hopes for your company’s future, you also have hopes for your employees’ futures.

Taken from http://www.inc.com/

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10 Things Bosses Never Tell Employees, But Should

By Jeff Haden

Even if you’re an exceptional boss — and here’s how to tell if you’re an exceptional boss –there’s a lot you don’t know about your employees.

There’s also a lot employees don’t know about you.

Here are a few things bosses wish they could say to their employees… but never do:

1. “I really do care whether you like me.”

I want you to like me. When I come off like a hard-ass who doesn’t care about your opinions, it’s mostly because I’m insecure or uncertain of my authority.

If I’m the owner, my business is an extension of myself. If I’m your boss, the company is at least partly an extension of myself. So I want you to like your job.

And I definitely want you to like me— whether it seems like it or not.

2. “I don’t think I know everything.”

A few people stepped in, without being asked, and made a huge difference in my professional life. I will always be grateful to them.

So I don’t offer you advice because I think I’m all knowing or all-powerful. I see something special in you, and I’m repaying the debt I owe to the people who helped me.

3. “I like when you’re having fun.”

You don’t have to lower your voice and pretend to be working really hard when I walk by. I know it’s possible to perform at a high level and have a little fun at the same time. Before I started acting all serious, I used to work that way, too.

When you enjoy what you do it makes me feel a little better about our company and about myself.

I get to feel like I’m part of something more than just a business.

4. “I really would like to pay you more.”

I would love to be the employer of choice in our area. But I can’t, mostly due to financial constraints. And if I own the business, the financial risk I’m taking deserves a reasonable return. (If I go out of business tomorrow, you lose your job. That’s terrible, I know. But I lose my business, my investment, my credit, my house… I might lose everything.)

Someday, if you become a boss – or especially if you start your own business – I promise you’ll understand.

5. “I hope you work here forever.”

Job-hopping may be a fact of business life, but as a boss it’s a fact of business life I hate. I don’t see you as a disposable part. When you leave, it hurts. A part of me feels like I’ve failed.

I want to run the kind of business people hope to retire from.

6. “We sell what we can sell.”

I know you despise filling certain types of orders or doing certain types of work. It’s aggravating, it makes you fall behind, it makes it tough to hit your targets and goals… it’s a pain. You wish we would sell other work.

Unfortunately (from your point of view at least) sometimes the jobs that takes the most time are actually the most profitable for our company. And even if they aren’t that profitable, sometimes the least desirable work (from your point of view) is the only work we can sell.

And sometimes we take terrible jobs because it’s the only way to keep the lights on.

7. “I would love to turn you loose.”

I know you can’t stand to be micromanaged. And that’s good, because I hate to micromanage. But freedom is earned, not given. Show me you can fly on your own and I’ll gladly focus on something or someone else.

In fact, if you feel I’m micromanaging you, tell me. Say, “I can tell you don’t quite trust me to handle this well. I understand, so I’m going to prove to you that you can trust me.”

Pull that off and not only will I get off your back… I’ll respect you even more.

8. “I do notice when others don’t pull their weight.”

I’m not blind. But I won’t discipline anyone in front of you. Every employee, no matter how poorly they perform, has the right to confidentiality and privacy.

And sometimes I won’t discipline those people at all, because occasionally more is going on than you know. You wouldn’t realize that, though, because oftentimes…

9. “There are some things I just can’t tell you.”

Even though I would love to, and even though you and I have become friends. Still, I can’t. Especially if it regards other employees.

10. “I worry — about everything.”

I worry about sales. I worry about costs. I worry about facilities and employees and vendors and customers and… you name it, I worry about it.

So occasionally I’m snappy. Occasionally I’m distracted. Occasionally I’m tense and irritable and short-tempered. It’s not your fault. I’m just worried.

More than anything, I’m worried about whether I can fulfill the trust you place in meas your boss.

Now it’s your turn: What do you wish you could tell your employees?

Original post https://www.linkedin.com

Human being

The Best Way to Manage People Older, or Younger, than You

A few days ago I had the privilege of recording a segment for an upcoming edition of an Internet radio show and podcast called The Local Jobs Network. The host asked me what the best approach for managing people older than you is.

It’s a good question, and the topic of multiple generations in the workforce is something I (and a whole lot of other people) have written about.

This was my answer: the best way to manage someone of any age is to treat them like a human being, rather than a demographic.

No One is “Typical”

In order to be seen as a leader, you need people to see your intrinsic qualities, and to look beyond the title that placed you in a leadership role. People won’t do that unless you are doing the same. If you approach your role as a manager based on assumptions made because of qualities like “older” or “younger” it prevents you from seeing the person in front of you as a human being.

For example, I am a millennial. However, I have a child in high school. How to pay for higher education is not some abstract discussion that is two decades in my future. By the time I am 36 I will have a freshman in college. Because of this, I often relate better with people who are older than me and share being in a stage of life where you know you have a big tuition bill looming ahead.

Having a child in high school is not typical for a 33 year old, but really, no one is “typical”. Even when we fit stereotypes, we usually do so for our own reasons.

Again, using a stereotype common for my age demographic, everyone born after 1980 is not endowed with a gene that causes them to change jobs more frequently. Yet, I fit the stereotype of the millennial who changes jobs more frequently than their parents and grandparents did.

But I don’t do that because of some collective generational trait.

I have been highly influenced by watching my dad and his friends be extremely loyal right up until the moment they were laid off, downsized, or otherwise let go of.

And I watched what happened to them after that.

My personal experience has taught me corporate loyalty is often (but not always) a one-way street, and I have been conditioned to believe that I am better off putting faith in myself, rather than a company. That might be the case for a lot of other people my age, but someone managing me would still be better off trying to understand who I am as a person and what has shaped me, rather than dismissing my career decisions as another stereotype of a specific demographic.

Management by Demographics is Lazy

Managing people is hard work. Getting people to see you as a leader is even harder. Management by stereotype is just taking a lazy approach to a difficult task. And a lazy approach will never be the successful approach.

In all of the books, blog posts, and articles on leadership & management I read I rarely see any mention of what I believe is the foundation of good leadership, and that is the willingness and ability to see the person in front of you as a human being and to try and understand what has shaped them.

If you want to be a successful manager of anyone, and evolve from being a manager to become a leader, the first step is to see the group in front of you as distinct human beings and treat them that way.

Dustin McKissen is the Vice President of First Resource, an association management, economic development, and consulting firm with roots in the manufacturing sector. He is also a proud member of LinkedIn’s Publishers and Bloggers Group. You can find him on Twitter @DMcKissen.

Original post https://www.linkedin.com/pulse

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Looking Inwards: How Self-Reflection Strengthens Leaders

As a leader you evaluate and coach your team members to improve productivity and reach a higher potential. But do you take time to evaluate yourself through self-reflection?

Self-reflection allows for an increased awareness of problematic performance traits and the ability to develop solutions on how to adjust those aspects of your leadership style. Just as you would develop a performance plan for an employee you can develop one for yourself and never stop increasing your leadership capacity.

When you don’t take the time for your own self-reflection you are essentially saying you are perfect as a leader and you no longer need to develop and grow. This not only hurts you and your career, but you are letting your team down as well. It isn’t just about how to increase your effectiveness as a leader, there are a number of other benefits you can gain from self-reflection.

1. Emotional Intelligence

When taking time to self-reflect you are looking inwards. This helps to build two components to emotional intelligence: self-awareness and self-regulation. Self awareness gives you the ability the ability to understand your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals, and recognize their impact on others you are leading. Self-regulation involves the ability to control or redirect your disruptive emotions and impulses and adapt to changing circumstances. Building these emotional intelligence components will improve your leadership.

2. Integrity

Becoming clear on your core values will help to strengthen your leadership integrity and lead you to better decisions. Our integrity is often put to the test during stressful and difficult times. Taking time to review your key decisions and actions in the recent past and grading them against your core values is a good discipline for leaders. Doing this consistently can solidify your values and make the decision making process easier in the future. Integrity will not only produce better quality from you, but at the same time it will increase your expectations of your team and encourage them to perform at the best of their ability.

3. Confidence

Confidence is crucial for leaders. It helps in effective communications, decision making, and influence building. The more your reflect on your strengths and how you can build upon them the more confident you will be as an individual and a leader. If you start to doubt yourself your team will start to doubt you as well, negatively effecting productivity and effectiveness of your team

Dating back to the most famous leaders; Sophocles, Aristotle, Hammurabi, etc. everyone agrees that the benefits from self-flection are too great to pass up, which is ironic because self-reflection is usually the first thing someone would skip to try and “better utilize time”. It takes discipline, however self-reflection will save even more time and money in the future. It doesn’t matter what time of the day, just give yourself some quiet time so you have a chance to explore your options as an leader and rerun challenging moments to learn from them. In the end your leadership will improve.

Original post https://www.linkedin.com

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Ten Keys to Happiness

By Deepak Chopra

Here are my 10 keys to happiness:

1. Listen to your body’s wisdom, which expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When choosing a certain behavior, ask your body, “How do you feel about this?” If your body sends a signal of physical or emotional distress, watch out. If your body sends a signal of comfort and eagerness, proceed.

2. Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now; look for the fullness in every moment.Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be. It reflects infinite laws of Nature that have brought you this exact thought, this exact physical response. This moment is as it is because the universe is as it is. Don’t struggle against the infinite scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.

3. Take time to be silent, to meditate, to quiet the internal dialogue. In moments of silence, realize that you are recontacting your source of pure awareness. Pay attention to your inner life so that you can be guided by intuition rather than externally imposed interpretations of what is or isn’t good for you.

4. Relinquish your need for external approval. You alone are the judge of your worth, and your goal is to discover infinite worth in yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks. There is great freedom in this realization. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts.

5. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts. When you relinquish this anger, you will be healing yourself and cooperating with the flow of the universe.

6. Know that the world “out there” reflects your reality “in here.” The people you react to most strongly, whether with love or hate, are projections of your inner world. What you most hate is what you most deny in yourself. What you most love is what you most wish for in yourself. Use the mirror of relationships to guide your evolution. The goal is total self-knowledge. When you achieve that, what you most want will automatically be there, and what you most dislike will disappear.

7. Shed the burden of judgment – you will feel much lighter. Judgment imposes right and wrong on situations that just are. Everything can be understood and forgiven, but when you judge, you cut off understanding and shut down the process of learning to love. In judging others, you reflect your lack of self-acceptance. Remember that every person you forgive adds to your self-love.

8. Don’t contaminate your body with toxins, either through food, drink, or toxic emotions. Your body is more than a life-support system. It is the vehicle that will carry you on the journey of your evolution. The health of every cell directly contributes to your state of well being, because every cell is a point of awareness within the field of awareness that is you.

9. Replace fear-motivated behavior with love-motivated behavior. Fear is the product of memory, which dwells in the past. Remembering what hurt us before, we direct our energies toward making certain that an old hurt will not repeat itself. But trying to impose the past on the present will never wipe out the threat of being hurt. That happens only when you find the security of your own being, which is love. Motivated by the truth inside you, you can face any threat because your inner strength is invulnerable to fear.

10. Understand that the physical world is just a mirror of a deeper intelligence. Intelligence is the invisible organizer of all matter and energy, and since a portion of this intelligence resides in you, you share in the organizing power of the cosmos. Because you are inseparably linked to everything, you cannot afford to foul the planet’s air and water. But at a deeper level, you cannot afford to live with a toxic mind, because every thought makes an impression on the whole field of intelligence. Living in balance and purity is the highest good for you and the Earth.

Original post https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/

Tired business woman

The Top 5 Things You Should Never Do At Work

by Kathy Caprino

I had an 18-year corporate career in publishing and marketing that was highly successful on the outside, but on the inside, it was not. I rose to the level of Vice President and managed multimillion-dollar budgets and global initiatives, but throughout my career, I faced a number of excruciating experiences of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, work-life balance failures, chronic illness and exhaustion, being sabotaged and betrayed by colleagues, and the continual nagging feeling that I was meant for different work (but simply couldn’t figure out what it was).

And I made a great number of huge mistakes. I did some important things right too, but my missteps were legendary (at least in my own mind). When I look back on my 30 years of working, and the careers of the hundreds of folks I train, coach and teach, five blunders stand out from all the rest as the most negative, damaging, and irreversible in your career and professional life.

The 5 things you should never do at work are:

1. Speak, behave or quit out of rage or revenge

Most people spend more hours at work than anywhere else, so it’s normal and expected that we will experience the full gamut of emotions while engaged in our work. I’m all for bringing our whole selves to work as well, and being as authentic, honest, and transparent as humanly possible at our jobs. That said, I’ve watched the inevitable destruction of losing control of your emotions and acting out rashly and impulsively from rage or despair.

For example, in my early 20’s, I screamed an obscenity at the top of my lungs to my boss who I felt was harassing me, and I did it in front of the entire office. He had no choice but to fire me. Thankfully, I had another job offer in the wings so the damage was not too serious. While it felt fantastic (for one split second) to swear at him, what has stayed with me over time is the shock and shame of how out of control I felt during that time. I vowed never to lose it like that and act out of rage or fury again. If you act impulsively and rashly at work, you will likely lose much more than your self-respect.

2. Backstab your colleagues

I’m astounded at how many people today feel completely comfortable ridiculing, disparaging or undermining their colleagues, co-workers and even their friends. I used to be that kind of person – talking behind someone’s back if I felt they were behaving poorly, meanly, or less than professionally. I learned later (in my therapy training) that this is called triangulation – telling a third party about something that makes you anxious or upset instead of dealing with it head on with the individual in question. Why do we do that? Because we lack the courage and fortitude to address the problem directly, or we feel it just won’t work out if we do. It relieves our anxiety to share the problem, but it does nothing to resolve it.

Other folks may call this “gossip” (gossip, by the way, is another “must not do” in the workplace). But backstabbing your colleagues is a special brand of negative behavior because it aims to hurt. And when you desire to hurt others, it will be you who suffers. In one job, I backstabbed a colleague because it seemed that she received all the accolades, promotions and perks because of her beauty and her obsequiousness to our bosses. All of that might have been true, but trying to take her down behind her back didn’t work. That behavior never will, in the long run. You’ll only embarrass and humiliate yourself and it will come back around to bite you eventually.

3. Lie

We tell lies most often when we think that the truth will hurt us somehow, or when we want to avoid facing the consequences of our truth. The problem with lying is two-fold: 1) When you tell yourself you’re not capable of facing reality or dealing with the consequences, you make yourself right – you’ll grow less powerful, capable, bold, respectable, and trustworthy over time, and 2) the lies you tell must be perpetuated, which is exhausting and drains you from vital energy you need to reach your fullest potential.

If you have told lies at work – about your skills and talents, experience and background, about the status of work you’re overseeing, or about who you are and what you are capable of, I’d highly recommend taking a long, hard look at what you’re afraid of, and instead of keeping up the front, get in the cage with those fears and begin working through them.

4. Proclaim that you’re miserable

Just the other day, I was talking to a former client who had marched into her boss’s office that week and shared that she was miserable at work and volunteered for a severance package. I’ve done that myself – been so unhappy at work that I put my hand up for a package. I didn’t get it, and neither did my client. After sharing that news and not receiving the package, you’re stuck in a deeply unsettling situation of the employer knowing you’re a terrible fit for your role. There are a few specific instances where this might be the right move, but in general, sharing that you hate your job is not the way to go.

But what if it’s the truth? My father used to say that there are 10 different ways to say anything, and I think he’s right. Phrases like “miserable,” “unhappy,” “fed up,” “ready to leave,” and “need to go” are not helpful when you’re talking to your colleagues, bosses, or HR staff.

What is the better way? Talk about what you’re great at and love to do, what you’ve accomplished, and what you’re ready for. Share your work highlights and new directions you’re excited and committed to take your career, and discuss your plans and desires for growth and change. Open the door for new opportunities at your current employer that will expand our skills, your resume and your talents. Try to find ways at your current job (where you’re already getting paid) to grow, stretch and build yourself. Explore every option available to you for becoming what you want to without walking out in anger and disgust. Your employer might very well be able to sponsor and support your growth and change, but it won’t happen if you stomp in and say “I’m miserable and it’s your fault.”

5. Burn bridges

Literally the biggest lesson I’ve learned in business is that success is all about relationships. It’s truly about who you know, and how they feel and think about you (and how you make them feel). I’m not saying that your amazing talent and skill aren’t important. Of course they are. I am saying that we don’t thrive and succeed alone. We need other people. And these people are not just our former bosses – they are people who reported to you, teamed with you, shared coffee and drinks with you, took training sessions with you, got yelled at alongside of you, and weathered tough times with you.

Every single one of your relationships is vitally important to you and your future, so craft them with care. Avoid people you don’t trust or like, but don’t burn bridges. After 30 years in business I’ve seen that there are hundreds of people we interact with daily who eventually could become our strongest allies, advocates and fans, if we protect and nurture our relationships as the key, enriching asset they are.

What is the worst mistake you’ve made at work, and how did you recover?

Original post https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/

gratitude

10 Ways Gratitude Can Change Your Life & 4 Step Gratitude Plan

by Dr Jeremy Dean

Gratitude is the new miracle emotion.

Although gratitude has been around for as long as human beings, it’s only recently started to get the big thumbs-up from science.

So here are 10 ways gratitude can change your life, followed by a quick 4-step plan to help maximise your own gratitude, whatever level you start from.

There’s even a trick for those suffering from ‘gratitude burnout’.

1. Happier

Gratitude is different things to different people: amongst them could be counting your blessings, savouring what life has given you, thanking someone or wondering at the natural world.

Whatever form it takes, one of the best known and most researched effects of practicing gratitude is it makes you happier.

Participants in one study were 25% happier, on average, after practicing a little gratitude over a 10-week period.

2. More satisfied

Gratitude isn’t just about feeling better, it’s also about thinking better.

In other words: it’s not just a fleeting sensation, it can also be a thought that sustains you.

That’s why people who feel more gratitude also feel more satisfied with their lives.

Gratitude better enables people to notice the things they do have, rather than mourning what’s missing.

3. Motivate others

When we say ‘thank you’ to others, it’s an expression of gratitude, but it can also act as a powerful motivator for them to help us again.

It could be as simple as sending a thank you email when someone has helped you out.

A gratitude study found that a thank you email doubled the number of people willing to help in the future:

“…the effect of ‘thank you’ was quite substantial: while only 32% of participants receiving the neutral email helped with the second letter, when Eric expressed his gratitude, this went up to 66%.”

They also found that:

“…people weren’t providing more help because they felt better or it boosted their self-esteem, but because they appreciated being needed and felt more socially valued when they’d been thanked.”

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4. Reduce materialism

We all need some stuff in our lives, but sometimes the desire for more things can get out of control.

And our nascent desire for stuff is heavily encouraged by society in so many ways.

Gratitude can combat materialism by helping us appreciate what we already have.

As the Greek philosopher Epicurus said:

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

By law, all credit cards should have this quote across the front in fluorescent pink.

5. Increase self-control

It’s not true that the emotions tend to get in the way of decision-making; that we should be ‘cold’ and ‘calculating’ to make the right choices.

Quite the reverse: the feeling of gratitude can actually help people make the right decisions.

Professor Ye Li, whose research has established a link between gratitude and self-control explains:

“Showing that emotion can foster self-control and discovering a way to reduce impatience with a simple gratitude exercise opens up tremendous possibilities for reducing a wide range of societal ills from impulse buying and insufficient saving to obesity and smoking.”

It probably works because gratitude makes us feel less selfish, which gives us more patience.

6. Enrich our children

Encouraging gratitude in children can have remarkable effects.

One study found that kids who are more grateful feel life has more meaning, get more satisfaction from life, are happier and experience less negative emotions.

Dr. Giacomo Bono, who led the study, said his findings suggested:

“…that gratitude may be strongly linked with life-skills such as cooperation, purpose, creativity and persistence and, as such, gratitude is vital resource that parents, teachers and others who work with young people should help youth build up as they grow up.

More gratitude may be precisely what our society needs to raise a generation that is ready to make a difference in the world.”

7. Improve your relationship

Being grateful to your partner for all the little kindnesses they do can make all the difference to a relationship.

Research by Dr. Sara Algoe and colleagues, found that gratitude helps to maintain intimate relationships.

Algoe said:

“Feelings of gratitude and generosity are helpful in solidifying our relationships with people we care about, and benefit to the one giving as well as the one on the receiving end.”

8. Build social ties

Just as very close intimate relationships benefit from gratitude; so do our wider ties to family and friends.

Gratitude has been linked to many positive social outcomes:

  • People who are more grateful report better relationships with their peers.
  • Gratitude enhances people’s ability to form and nurture relationships, as well as boosting how satisfied they are with them.

It really seems that gratitude has the power to deepen our connections with others.

9. Better health

Although there’s relatively little research on this, gratitude has been linked to better physical health, especially better sleep, and lower levels of stress.

Given that both stress levels and sleep are related to general physical health, this is not a surprise.

10. Resilience

Given that the world can be a nasty place, filled with nasty surprises, it’s vital to have good coping skills.

People with gratitude tend to have just that.

When faced with challenges in life, they tend to eschew denial, self-blame and substance abuse in favour of active coping, seeking support from others, positive reinterpretation and growth.

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How to be grateful

Hopefully you’re convinced by now that gratitude is an emotion that’s worth cultivating.

And it is something that can be cultivated.

Studies have repeatedly shown that we can train things sometimes thought of as hard-wired or pre-set, like our gratitude, optimism and enthusiasm.

So here are a few things you can try…

1. 2-minute exercise

Think of three things that you are grateful for: that benefit you and without which your life would be poorer.

Then, if you’ve got time, you can think about the causes for these good things.

And that’s it.

Read more on this simple gratitude exercise.

2. Simple steps

Try one or more of these 10 grateful steps to happiness to take the 2-minute exercise a little further.

They include keeping a gratitude journal, using your senses to notice what’s around you and even remembering bad times to help provide a realistic frame for current events.

3. Repeat and explore

Repeat any, all or none of these exercises at regular intervals.

If it’s none, because they don’t work for you, then invent your own, or reconnect with an existing way of practicing gratefulness which is personal to you.

The more you can keep at it, the more likely it is to become a habit.

4. Avoid gratitude burnout

Like everything in life, we can get fed up with gratitude after a while if it gets to samey.

Avoid gratitude burnout by remembering that all things must come to an end — enjoy them while you still can.

In one study:

“…being encouraged to think grateful thoughts was not enough to increase happiness.

What made the grateful thoughts beneficial was focusing on the imminent end of this pleasurable experience.

Thinking about endpoints as a way of stimulating gratitude can be beneficial.

Finite ends seem to inspire people to think carefully about what it is they have, because soon enough, and usually sooner than we would like to think, it will be gone.”

Original post http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/07/10-ways-gratitude-can-change-your-life-4-step-gratitude-plan.php

7 Words Define What Employees Expect From Leadership

by Michael Blanchette

Employees want to confidently go to work feeling that they are valued and that their leaders have their backs. Instead, many employees approach their work day with apprehension for the next round of layoffs, reorganization strategies, acquisition announcements, or the next set of crises that often require them to work overtime with no extra pay. The workplace can be an extremely difficult place at times, even more so if leadership does not set the right tone to help their employees overcome the toughest times.

Leadership is about making employees feel safe, providing them a workplace environment to thrive, and giving them access to the right tools and resources to be successful. The best leaders build trust with employees by never letting them down when they are needed most. Those who are humble and vulnerable make effective leaders because they never forget where their journey started and thus can appreciate the perspectives of their frontline employees. Compassionate and empathic, deep-down they know how unfair the workplace can be, especially without the right leadership.

To make sure your leadership journey stays on the right track, here are seven things that employees expect from their leadership – seven words that define the very nature of leadership:

1. Specificity

Employees want leaders to provide them with specific direction and to avoid corporate speak – to get to the point and be direct in telling them what to do and what is specifically expected from them. Don’t beat around the bush. Be specific rather than vague to avoid unexpected surprises without the proper preparation.

Leaders that are specific have strong attention to detail and are mindful of assuring their employees are never blindsided.

2. Empowerment

Employees don’t always want to have to ask for permission. They want to be empowered to make decisions and to learn from their failures. Employees want leaders that will provide them with the mentoring and wisdom to effectively solve problems and become more independent and productive.

Empowerment is the ticket to being more self-sufficient, entrepreneurial and purposeful at work, and employees are empowered.

3. Vulnerability

Leaders don’t have all of the answers, nor should they act as if they do. Employees respect leaders who are upfront about their shortcomings and aware of their areas for improvement. You can’t build a highly-functioning team if the people on the team don’t know how to best compensate and contribute in the areas where they are needed the most.

Leaders who are vulnerable show understanding, compassion and empathy. They trust themselves enough to throw their titles out the door and step into the shoes of their employees. Vulnerable leaders are well-grounded, relatable and not afraid to do the right thing for the betterment of a healthier whole.

4. Honesty

Many leaders tend to tell only half the truth. While it is understandable that they may want to hold back the whole truth to avoid the unnecessary chaos and uncertainty that may come with it – employees expect real leaders to be transparent, trustworthy, open up their hearts and lead with kindness.

5. Accountability

Employees expect leaders to be accountable to others as much as themselves. Too many leaders cut corners, delegate too much and push off problems to others that they should handle themselves. Leaders that avoid adversity and the accountability that goes with it are those who are trying to protect their reputations – when they should be willing to make hard decisions and accept their own failures in the course of doing business as well as the wins.

Accountable leaders are the most respected and admired. When leaders protect their employees and have their backs, they will want to do the same for their leaders.

6. Respect

There is a distinct difference between recognition and respect. Recognition explodes and subsides. Respect reverberates and multiples. The recognized leader appeals to the head where things are easily forgotten, while the respected leader captivates the heart – and the heart does not forget.

Employees want leaders who respect and value their teamwork and individual contributions. They expect leaders to invest in relationships that are earned over time. Leaders that stick to their plans, take the appropriate risks when necessary, and communicate the outcomes – whether success or failure – are the leaders who earn respect from those they serve and lead.

7. Authenticity

Authentic leaders are hard to come by these days. Many leaders still try to play the game by wearing their game face – rather than being who they really are and showcasing their authentic selves. Authenticity breeds productivity and an environment that allows leaders to demonstrate points 1 – 6 mindfully and consistently – every day.

Employees expect leaders to be consistent and when they are not – this is when they begin to pull away and distance themselves. They find it difficult to deliver everything they’ve got out of fear that their leaders will take advantage of them.

Leaders expect many things from their employees, but they should never forget that they are just as accountable, and that their employees expect specific things from them as well. The best leaders are able to identify and empathize with their employees, because they remember their own journey and know that they still don’t have all the answers. What they do know is how to connect the dots to build teams where employees are empowered to reach their full potential. They know that honesty, respect and authenticity are words to live by – and for those that do they are also words that define great leadership.

Original post https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/

 

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The Real Reason Most Entrepreneurs Succeed

On a beautiful summer evening, treading water about 500 yards from shore as the sun sank towards the horizon, I decided I was going to drown.

It started innocently enough. I was drafted onto a cornhole team without realizing the losers had agreed swim out to a red crab pot float and back.

Of all the people who can actually swim I am probably the worst swimmer in the world. Throw me in the deep end and I can swim to the side. Throw me in the deep end and I can tread water for a few minutes. But that’s hardly swimming.

So as I walked towards the waves I thought, “Okay, how hard can this be? It’s not a race. I can take my time. And it doesn’t look that far away.”

About 100 yards from shore the bobbing red float looked really far away.

So I tried to trick myself. “I won’t look at the float,” I thought. “I’ll just swim. I’ll swim for a long time. I’ll wait as long as I can to look at the float and then I’ll be surprised and happy about how close I’ve gotten!”

So I swam and resisted the temptation to look for the float. I kept swimming, kept resisting. Then I started to wonder if I had already passed the buoy. How stupid would it be to swim farther than I needed to? So I looked up.

The red float was still a really long way away.

Great.

I had a choice. I could give up, turn around, swim back to shore, and admit I couldn’t do it. That was the wise, prudent, sensible choice.

But of course I decided to keep going.

An eternity later I reached the float. I turned and looked back. The shore seemed impossibly far away. And just then a larger wave crested over me just as I was breathing in.

I panicked.

“There’s no way I can make it back,” I thought. “It’s too far. I can’t do it. I’m going to drown!” (You know when you get scared and freeze up and it’s like you suddenly can’t run, or move, or in this case swim at all? That was me.)

Thrashing and coughing, I instinctively began to raise an arm to wave to people on shore for help when an image suddenly hit me. I remembered how I felt eight miles in on the 12-mile climb up the gravel fire road of what local cyclists call the “dark side” of Reddish Knob.

I remembered how badly I hurt: heart racing, lungs burning, legs screaming, vision blurring.

I remembered how I desperately wanted to stop… and I remembered that I didn’t stop.

“You’re okay,” I told myself. “You know you can tread water. So for now just do that. Just chill.”

And I did.

Then I thought, “I can do this. Shoot, I’ve done worse. It’s just a matter of time and effort. Keep your heart rate reasonable, flip over on your back occasionally and just kick so you can rest your arms, and eventually you’ll make it. Just go moment to moment. It’s going to suck, but you can do it.”

I was really tired–and grateful–by the time I finally reached the shore, but I made it. And it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. Shoot, I could have swam farther. (Because we can always, always do more.)

How? I was able to harness the power of early suffering.

Many entrepreneurs that are successful today are the product of bootstrapping and sacrificing and scraping and clawing and fighting and never, ever giving up, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Their early struggles forge resolve. Their early struggles forge perseverance.

And their early struggles continue to inform even the most successful entrepreneurs’ professional and personal lives, providing an almost inexhaustible foundation of willpower and confidence and perseverance.

All the successful entrepreneurs I know say they would not trade their early startup days of incredible struggle and effort and suffering for anything. What they learned about themselves not only carries them through the tough times but also gives them the confidence to not just think but know they can do more than they ever imagined possible–no matter what challenges they may face.

Be grateful for the struggle. Be grateful for the suffering.

Someday it will pay off–and in ways you might never expect.

Read more: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-real-reason-most-entrepreneurs-succeed.html#ixzz3Db2luVgC

 

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The Power of Forgiveness

To discipline is to manage, but sometimes to forgive is to truly lead.

 

Back then, when a person was pulled over, he didn’t stay in his car and wait for the officer to approach. Instead, he’d take the walk of shame back to the police car while others more fortunate drove smugly by.

So I trudged back, settled into the passenger seat of the unmarked car, and glanced at the radar display on the console.

94.

All-righty-then.

I turned back to the officer. He was wearing a suit instead of a uniform and used his rearview mirror to adjust his necktie.

“You know,” he said, “I may not look it, but I’m a gambling man. When you took off at the stoplight back there, I thought, Hey, I bet he didn’t notice me.

“I was right. When you hit 65 miles an hour, I thought about pulling you over, but I thought, Nah, I bet he’ll go faster. Then you hit 75. I almost hit my lights but thought, Hmm. There aren’t any cars around, and he’s not really putting anyone in danger. I bet he’s not done yet.

“Then you hit 85. I have to admit, I was very, very tempted, but then I thought, No, hang on; call me crazy, but I really do believe this boy’s got a little more in him.

“And sure enough,” he said as he laughed, smacked the steering wheel, and finally turned to face me, “You did!”

You know how after you do something stupid, you desperately wish you could get those few seconds back so you can do something that makes everything turn out OK? I mentally replayed pulling up near him at the stoplight on Route 42 in Dayton. Although his car looked like an unmarked car, there were no lights, no antennas, no snarl of equipment on the dashboard, no driver in a uniform…so I didn’t give it another thought until I looked in my mirror and saw lights flashing in its grill. I really wanted that incorrect judgment back.

Eventually, he stopped chuckling, and his expression turned serious. “Now,” he said. “You want to explain why you were in such a hurry?”

Urban legend has it that creative conversational strategies influence policemen. Maybe that’s true, but nothing excuses 94 mph in a 55 mph zone.

“My alarm didn’t go off,” I answered, “and I didn’t want to be late for work.”

I shrugged and shook my head. “Sorry. It was stupid.”

He sat quietly for a few moments while I thought about the future. Twenty miles per hour over the speed limit qualified as reckless driving. I figured 40 miles per hour over was a one-way ticket to that magical land where people get a chauffeured trip to the magistrate’s office, lose their license, and hassle friends for rides for the next six months.

He raised his eyebrows. “That’s it? That’s all you’ve got?”

“Yes, sir,” I said, turning away to look down. “That’s it. I was in a hurry and went too fast.”

“Huh,” he said. I waited for him to start writing my ticket.

“Next time,” he said, “just go ahead and be late, OK? Being late for work isn’t the end of the world.”

I nodded, still waiting for him to reach for his pen. “Go on,” he said, pretending to be frustrated. He pushed the reset button on the radar. “You’re going to be late.”

I whipped my head up and stared. “Look, I know those things are fast,” he said, nodding toward my bike. “And I know you race ‘em. Just keep it down. You might be good, but you just can’t trust what other people will do.”

I thanked him about 50 times in 10 seconds and then jumped out before he could reconsider. As I was starting my bike, he rolled up beside me, window down, and leaned across the seat.

“You can still make it to work on time,” he yelled. “Follow me into town. I can at least get you to where I turn off for the courthouse.”

So for the second time that day, I was speeding–only this time while following a policeman.

After my immediate relief wore off, I started to feel guilty. I shouldn’t have gone that fast. It was unnecessary. It was stupid.

And I felt bad the police supervisor had to stop me. In a strange way, I felt he had been disappointed in me.

And, stranger yet, I did slow down; somehow, I felt I owed him that much.

The same thing can happen at work. When employees make mistakes, it’s natural to try to ensure they don’t make those same mistake again. So we give feedback. We correct. We discipline. We even fire employees.

Yet discipline can often shift the focus off the underlying event onto the disciplinary action. We can easily dwell on the punishment and how “unfair” it is instead of on correcting what we did to deserve the feedback, the correction, or the discipline.

Most employees are their own worst critics. The employee who shipped the wrong product? He knows he messed up. He already feels bad about it. The employee who gave a customer an inaccurate and incomplete proposal? She knows she messed up. She already feels bad about it. I guarantee neither will ever forget it–and will try really hard to make sure it never happens again. And that’s the result you want.

And that’s why sometimes the best thing you can do is look the employee in the eye, nod, and walk away.

After all, your only goal is that the employee to learn from a mistake–and the act of forgiveness is often much more powerful than any act of discipline can ever be.
Read more: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-power-of-forgiveness.html#ixzz3Db3Ba8pQ

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The Power of Being Thoughtful and Kind

Want to make a real difference? It’s easier than you think.

 

My client acquired a large company, and I went along for his initial meetings with his new employees. In the afternoon, he planned a companywide address. But that morning, we met for several hours with top executives.

(Talk about emotions on full display: ego, anxiety, obsequiousness, defensiveness, fear, excitement… When the new sheriff comes to town, the icy-cool corporate masks quickly come off.)

The meeting ended at noon, and when we walked out 15 minutes later, he noticed a sizable buffet set up on the other side of the atrium. There were plenty of people standing around in white coats and black slacks but no one in line or sitting at tables.

“What’s that for?” he asked someone walking past.

“The company arranged a meal for after your meeting,” she said. “A local restaurant closed for the day to come here.” She paused. “I think the chef and her staff were really excited about it,” she said, her voice trailing off at the end.

“Did anyone eat?” he asked.

“Um, I don’t think so,” she said.

He stood looking a few moments. Even from a distance, it was evident the catering staff was confused and disappointed.

“Come on,” he said to me. “We’re eating.”

And we did.

But he did more than just eat. He spent a few minutes talking to every–every–member of the staff. They knew who he was, and while some were initially shy, they quickly warmed up.

And why wouldn’t they? He complimented the food. He complimented the service. He joked and laughed. When we finished eating, he said, “We can’t let great food go to waste!” and borrowed two white coats so we could serve them. Then he made the rounds of the tables and happily leaned into all the selfies.

When we finally left, he waved and smiled.

They smiled bigger.

Sure, it took a lot of his time. Sure, it took him off point and off focus and off schedule.

Sure, they loved him for it.

I already knew the answer, but as we got in the car, I still asked. “I know your schedule,” I said. “You couldn’t stop to eat. Besides, no one else did, so no one would have noticed.”

“I felt bad for them,” he said. “They tried hard to do a good job, and everyone blew them off. How bad would that feel? So it was the least I could do.

“Maybe my staff thought they were too busy,” he continued. “Or maybe they thought they were too important. But maybe they are too self-absorbed to notice they hurt other people’s feelings.”

He thought for a few seconds. “And maybe they’re the wrong people for the job, ” he said.*

Much of the time, we want famous people to be so humble they don’t recognize there’s a fuss, a special buzz, that people are excited to see them. We want them to be oblivious to their fame or importance. (After all, if they’re too aware, that means they’re too full of themselves.)

But what we should really want is for famous or notable people to recognize that in the eyes of others, they are special–and that other people might want something from them, even if that something is the simple recognition that what they do matters.

Because it does.

Picture a CEO walking into a building for an important meeting. Maybe he says hello to the receptionist. (Maybe.) Otherwise, he only has time for the people at his level. It’s like no one else exists; they’re just unseen cogs in a giant machine.

Unfortunately, at times, we all do the same thing. We talk to the people we’re supposed to talk to. We recognize the people we’re supposed to recognize. We mesh with the cogs in the machine we’re expected to mesh with, but there are many other important cogs.

So go out of your way to smile to everyone. Or to nod. Or to introduce yourself.

And when someone does something that helps you, even in the smallest way and even if it’s their job, go out of your way to say thanks. Make it your mission to recognize the people behind the tasks: the people that support, that assist, that make everything possible.

Even though most of us aren’t famous or notable, by recognizing people–especially those who have been conditioned to not expect to be recognized–we add a little extra meaning and dignity to their lives.

And that’s the best reason to go off point, off focus, and off task.

Although, when you think about it, you really aren’t taking yourself away from an important task. You’re just shifting to an equally important task: showing people they matter–especially to you.
Read more: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-power-of-being-thoughtful-and-kind.html#ixzz3Db47EGnj

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The Power of Gratitude

When a thank you is more than a reflex gesture it can make a powerful and lasting impact.

 

A friend–a normally very cynical friend–received a thank you note from Beth Stern he can’t stop talking about.

First some background: When they were still dating in 2002 Howard Stern and his wife Beth got their English bulldog Bianca.

Howard is a radio personality, America’s Got Talent judge, and the king of all media. Beth is a model, TV personality, author of the bestselling guide to choosing and caring for canines Oh My Dog, and an extremely active spokesperson for the North Shore Animal League, the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption agency.

Let’s just say that if this was a trial, all parties would immediately stipulate her credentials as an animal lover and activist.

Sadly, Bianca the bulldog died in July. North Shore set up an In Memoriam page to mark Bianca’s passing and recognize her efforts as a spokes-dog and fundraising calendar model. Since the shelter is a non-profit charity that relies on donations to fund its operations, the page also includes a link visitors can use to make a donation in Bianca’s honor.

According to North Shore, hundreds of people have done so.

My friend is one of them. He gave a contribution, felt good about it, and–as we often do when we make charitable donations, however heartfelt–he forgot about it.

Until he received a card in the mail.

On the cover of the card was a photo of Bianca. Inside was a handwritten note from Beth. Her thank you wasn’t canned or formulaic; she was obviously touched by his expression of sympathy and donation and took the time to reach out in a personal and individual way.

“I still can’t believe it,” he says. “I’ve donated to plenty of causes. I’m not looking for recognition, even though I appreciate when an organization sends a thank you card. But for her to take the time to handwrite a note to someone she doesn’t even know and will never meet… that just blows me away.”

It was a simple gesture, one he and hundreds of other people will never forget, since Beth personally thanks everyone who makes a donation in Bianca’s honor.

It’s also a simple gesture that provides a great business lesson.

Say you land a new customer. Appreciation is the one thing that should never be scaled or automated. If you’re truly grateful (and you should be!) why not take the time to personally express your gratitude in a heartfelt, genuine way?

You’ll be memorable, if only because so few people do. And you’ll spark a real connection and take a huge step towards building a lasting business relationship.

A sincere thank you isn’t just good manners–even though good manners is reason enough.

It’s also good business.
Read more: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-power-of-gratitude.html#ixzz3Db4clWe1

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The Power of Small Moments

You never know when you might make a huge difference in another person’s life–so always assume you can.

 

Often the smallest moments made the biggest difference in our lives.

In college, I needed a history course to meet general studies requirements, so I closed my eyes and chose a European history class.

The professor was Dr. Philip Riley. The class was an overview course, which students tend to dislike and professors probably dislike more, but he somehow made it interesting. During his lectures, I even found myself thinking, Hey, I’d like to know more about that, so one night I actually opened my textbook.

I closed it a few minutes later; few books are less readable than textbooks.

Still, it nagged at me. I read all the time when I was growing up but had stopped reading during college–how ironic is that–and I missed it.

So I stopped by Dr. Riley’s office, something I never did with any other professor. (I think I even managed to avoid meeting with my advisor other than the day he signed my application to graduate.)

“I like history,” I said to Dr. Riley, “but I can’t get through history books. Can you recommend a few that are maybe a little more reader-friendly?” (Yep, I was quite the intellectual.)

Fortunately, he took no offense and recommended books such as Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels and Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory.

And I remembered why I liked to read.

He also gave me great advice. “Remember,” he said, “you’re reading for pleasure. If you pick up a book and don’t like it, put it down. Never read what you think you should read. Never feel inadequate if you don’t like what you’re ‘supposed’ to like. Reading is personal. Yours is the only opinion that matters.”

While I certainly can’t draw a straight line from here to there–I took a 20-year detour in manufacturing–Dr. Riley is a major reason I’m now a writer. Without him, I’m not sure I would have found a love for great books and great writing.

A few years ago, I thanked him, and he said, “As you well know, the best education is always self-inflicted, so you deserve the credit here, not your tottering old professor.”

The now-retired Dr. Riley is an incredibly smart man, but in this case he’s wrong.

Whatever you are today is largely due to the words and actions of other people. Most of those moments were, at the time, small and seemingly inconsequential. Only when you look back can you connect the dots.

That also means you never know when your words or actions might make an impact on someone else. A little encouragement, a little acceptance, a little praise…small actions that are insignificant to you but possibly life changing for another person.

Dr. Riley didn’t know what my future might hold. Like all great teachers–and great people–he didn’t care. He simply took the time to listen and encourage, and without knowing made a big difference in my life.

It was a small moment to him but a huge moment to me.

I like to think I’ve had that kind of impact on another person. I like to think that, but I probably haven’t. It’s not too late, though.

Every small moment for you can be a huge moment for someone else–especially if you treat it that way.
Read more: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-power-of-small-moments.html#ixzz3Db54eF4B

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The Power of Stopping for No Good Reason

Because sometimes the best reason is no reason at all

 

The first thing the old man said to me was, “The cows don’t come by here anymore.”

A few years ago, I liked to ride my bike on the roads that snake along a local mountain range. The views were beautiful, and there were plenty of hills to climb. It was friendly and country (in the best sense of the word), and the people sitting on their front porches always waved.

One old man was almost always sitting alone, and I made a point of waving to him.

Then one day, caught in a driving rain, I glanced sideways and saw him waving me off the road and onto his porch. I leaned my bike on the rail and clomped up the steps as he pulled a dusty wooden chair from behind an old coal box for me to sit on.

And then he started talking.

He told me the cows used to slowly drift by every day as they grazed the fencerow across the road. (His favorite was an older cow that always pushed her head through the fence as if to see whether the grass really was greener on the other side.) Why they no longer came by was a puzzle he had yet to solve.

He told me his mail was delivered every day at about the same time. He could tell how his carrier’s day was going by the size of her smile. He told me he knew the lack of rain had hurt local farmers because lately they hadn’t been hauling nearly as many hay rolls. He told me the girl up the road had just gotten her driver’s license. Whenever he saw her go by, he tried to watch for her to come home because he worried about young drivers.

He also talked about me.

“Some days you ride that thing a little like that cancer fella I used to see on TV, but most of the time you look like somebody stuck me on there,” he said. Then he smiled, taking any sting out.

As he spoke, I thought he seemed lonely, almost desperately so. Then I realized he wasn’t lonely, at least not in the way I assumed. Though he had met very few of the people he watched go by, his porch still gave him a very real connection to his community.

He could tell when neighbors were getting company and was happy they had friends who wanted to visit. He enjoyed watching families drive by on their way to church, even though Sundays were bittersweet because the mail didn’t come and he didn’t get to wave to his carrier. He even worried about me, until that day a stranger, because he thought it was dangerous for people to ride bicycles near cars.

He watched and wondered, but not in a nosy or critical way. He seemed to only see the good in the people he saw from his porch.

And that was why, on a couple of cloudless days, I would stop and visit instead of waving and riding by. I wouldn’t bring food or a token gift, even though that’s what people like me tend to do in return for kindness or courtesy. Instead I just stopped to find out what was new.

Maybe he would tell me the local farmers’ crops were doing better. Maybe he’d tell me the young girl up the road was still safe. Maybe he would have puzzled out why the cows didn’t come by anymore.

It didn’t matter. He just wanted to talk. I could tell. He always left my chair out.

And then one day my chair was gone.

So was his chair. So were the tools scattered around the yard, the old Buick in the driveway, the worn curtains in the windows.

And so was he.

How often had I stopped? How often had I sat and listened? How often had I taken time away from work and fitness and personal goals and striving for success to be a friend to someone who clearly needed a friend?

Not often enough. Not nearly often enough.

We all have people in our lives that leave a chair out for us, only to die a little inside when that chair sits empty.

Once in a while–before it’s too late for you, or for them, or for your relationship–take the time to stop and sit and visit for no good reason…

… which, when you think about it, is the best reason of all.
Read more: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-power-of-stopping-for-no-good-reason.html#ixzz3Db6F3FLZ

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The Power of Praise

Do you only pay lip service to the value of praise and recognition? Here’s a good way to find out.

 

Someone you know deserves recognition: an employee, a vendor, a customer, a connection, a company. Someone has done something awesome for you.

They labored. They sacrificed. They went above and beyond and well past the extra mile.

You naturally want to recognize them. In fact, you’d love to praise them publicly, so everyone will know how awesome they truly are.

Great! Recognize them here, in an extremely public setting.

Here’s how it works. In the comments, mention someone and praise them. Be specific. Use names (unless there’s a great reason not to.) Don’t just say, “Wow, ACME Manufacturing is awesome!” Say why. Say how. Explain what ACME did. Explain how ACME helped you, or made a difference for you, or just made your day better.

For example, here’s something that happened to me:

I pulled my car into a service bay to get my oil changed. As I got out, Julian, one of the techs, said, “Man, those are nice wheels. Too bad they’re so dirty.” He smiled to show he was teasing. (At least I think he was.)

“I know,” I said. “My next stop is the car wash.” Then I went inside to wait.

When I walked to my car to leave he was just standing up, filthy rags in his hand. “Took some work, but I got ‘em all clean,” Julian said. Every rim sparkled. Every speck of brake dust was gone.

“Wow, that’s awesome–but you didn’t have to do that,” I said.

“We’re not very busy,” he shrugged. “I had time. Figured I would make ‘em look better.” Another car pulled in and he hustled away, saying over his shoulder, “Have a good day.”

Simple–and awesome. Few people use their free time to do something nice for someone else. Few people use their free time to do something nice, not because they’re expected to but simply because they can.

Now it’s your turn. Share your story.

Then send that person a note. Say, “Hey, I really appreciate what you did for me and I want everyone to know how much I appreciate it, so I left a comment where everyone will see how awesome you are.”

Then encourage that person to do the same.

I know what you’re going to say. Don’t. Don’t say you’re too busy. Don’t say it’s too much trouble. Don’t say handing out praise is someone else’s job. Don’t say that you don’t receive enough recognition. So why should you go out of your way to recognize others?

Everyone feels that praise is in short supply. Be one of the people who actually does something about it.

When you do, what happens to the people you recognize? They feel better about themselves. Genuine recognition rewards effort and accomplishment, reinforces positive behaviors, builds self-esteem and confidence, and boosts motivation and enthusiasm.

Unexpected praise, like a gift given “just because,” is even more powerful and makes an even bigger impact.

What happens to you? You’ll instantly feel better about yourself. Nothing beats making a positive difference in another person’s life.

Every day people around you do good things. Praise one of those people, sincerely and specifically, in this very public setting. They’ll love it.

You’ll love it.

And by reading your comments, the rest of us will learn new ways to labor, to sacrifice, and to go above and beyond and well past the extra mile–and be exceptional, too.

Let the praise and recognition begin!

Read more: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-public-recognition-wall-of-fame.html#ixzz3Db6lHojJ

Businesswoman Yelling Loudly into Another's Ear

How Successful People Handle Toxic People

by Dr. Travis Bradberry

Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and worst of all stress.

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus—an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success—when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.

Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions—the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with toxic people—caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, toxic people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize toxic people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep toxic people at bay.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when dealing with toxic people, what follows are twelve of the best. To deal with toxic people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize.

They Set Limits (Especially with Complainers)

Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral.

You can avoid this only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

They Don’t Die in the Fight

Successful people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

They Rise Above

Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it; their behavior truly goes against reason. Which begs the question, why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix?

The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink, if you prefer the analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts.

They Stay Aware of Their Emotions

Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.

Think of it this way—if a mentally unstable person approaches you on the street and tells you he’s John F. Kennedy, you’re unlikely to set him straight. When you find yourself with a coworker who is engaged in similarly derailed thinking, sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod. If you’re going to have to straighten them out, it’s better to give yourself some time to plan the best way to go about it.

They Establish Boundaries

This is the area where most people tend to sell themselves short. They feel like because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve found your way to Rise Above a person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when you don’t. For example, even if you work with someone closely on a project team, that doesn’t mean that you need to have the same level of one-on-one interaction with them that you have with other team members.

You can establish a boundary, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will.

They Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the opinions of other people, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take that away from them.

While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what toxic people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

They Don’t Focus on Problems—Only Solutions

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

When it comes to toxic people, fixating on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you. Quit thinking about how troubling your difficult person is, and focus instead on how you’re going to go about handling them. This makes you more effective by putting you in control, and it will reduce the amount of stress you experience when interacting with them.

They Don’t Forget

Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Successful people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

They Squash Negative Self-Talk

Sometimes you absorb the negativity of other people. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of. You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.

They Limit Their Caffeine Intake

Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight-or-flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re surprised in the hallway by an angry coworker.

They Get Some Sleep

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present.

A good night’s sleep makes you more positive, creative, and proactive in your approach to toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to deal effectively with them.

They Use Their Support System

It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To deal with toxic people, you need to recognize the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as explaining the situation can lead to a new perspective. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation.

Bringing It All Together

Before you get this system to work brilliantly, you’re going to have to pass some tests. Most of the time, you will find yourself tested by touchy interactions with problem people. Thankfully, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors, even when you fail. Implementing these healthy, stress-relieving techniques for dealing with difficult people will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

I always love to hear new strategies for dealing with toxic people, so please feel free to share yours in the comments section below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Travis Bradberry, Ph.D.

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book,Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests, emotional intelligence training, andemotional intelligence certification, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review

 

9 things poweful people never say

 

by Chris Deaver

Powerful people talk in a healthy way, combining the right blend of confidence and humility. They share authentically with their hearts and inspire others to action. Check out these things powerful people never say so you can become even more powerful.

1. “Because we’ve always done it that way.”

You don’t see powerful people waste time protecting the status quo. Instead, they boldly ask the question “Why?” They’re always pushing to take things to the next level, and they’re not afraid to rock the boat when it needs rocking, especially when it’s heading the wrong direction.

2. “To tell you the truth…”

Ever heard someone say this when they’re trying to act more transparent? Powerful people know that it’s a waste of words to say things like “honestly” when it would only make people question their honesty the other 99.9% of the time. Powerful people stick with sharing the truth at all times and in all places without adding conditions or caveats. And they’re loved for it.

3. “Not my problem.”

Powerful people like problems. They love getting challenges for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and converting them into solutions. They don’t dodge responsibility, but embrace it with statements like, “That’s on me” or “I’ll handle this.” When it comes to taking responsibility they dive in first, and when it comes to taking credit they put themselves last. Like Ronald Reagan, they realize “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” They choose respect over popularity, sticking with what’s right over what’s politically expedient.

4. “[Insert name] is such a [insert insult].”

You’ll never see powerful people demeaning other people. Gossip is not in their DNA. They focus on the positive, knowing that their influence with others is only as strong as how well they treat everyone at all times.

5. “That’s impossible.”

It’s surprising how some people say things like this as if they like the idea of killing dreams. Instead powerful people build up an immunity to doubt. They realize we’d all live in a very different world if everyone who ever had a big idea followed the bad advice to avoid pursuing it. Powerful people are willing to explore the impossible and live by the words “I can do it.”

6. “It is what it is.”

Ever hear this one? These are the words of those who’ve surrendered themselves to circumstances and written off the possibility of changing it. Instead powerful people replace this with “What if?” They don’t set limits on what they can change and influence. Like the doctor who’s sent into the middle of a battlefield to rescue injured soldiers, they never give up, but do everything they can to make circumstances better all around them. They don’t focus on finding themselves first, but look to create themselves by adding value and meaning to other peoples’ lives.

7. “I work alone.”

These are fast becoming famous last words. Everything is connected now, and powerful people get that, and they maximize their efforts by working with and through others. To them, work and service are the same thing. They’re never afraid to say “I don’t know” or to ask for help, especially when they’re leading. They don’t let their pride get in the way, which creates unbreakable trust with others.

8. “I’m sick of [insert complaint].”

Powerful people avoid complaining like a deadly virus. They know that it’s a waste of words, and that it robs people of power. Whenever they’re tempted to complain, they think instead on a solution to whatever they’re facing. Instead of saying, “I can’t believe that guy just cut me off! What a jerk!” they go with, “That guy just cut me off. I’m going to slow down a bit so there’s no accident here. And I’m going to listen to my favorite song to get inspired.”

9. “I don’t care what they think.”

Powerful people do care what others think, because they care about others. They stay focused on how to share their story and join forces with others. They make every effort to connect with what others need and want. Wherever they go, they build friendships and expand their network to do things never been done before.

What things have you heard that aren’t powerful? What above stands out most to you? Is it challenging the status quo, avoiding gossip, and/or taking your impact to the next level? How will you become even more powerful today?

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this post. Here are 7 other posts I’ve written:

The Deadliest Threat to Success

Why I Bury My Cellphone in a Drawer at Night

7 Things Powerful People Don’t Do

As You Wish – 3 Keys to Having More Than it All

The One Word That Can Change Your Life

Why I Quit Multitasking

How to Lead with Power Every Day

 

happy

35 Quotes to Help You Stay Happy and Productive in 2015

It’s all a matter of perspective, right? These 35 quotes will help you see what true happiness means.
by John Brandon

What is true happiness?

For some, it is a fulfillment of a dream. For others, it is staying content with what you do in life and in the workplace. These quotes are meant to inspire you to find the balance between big dreams and daily contentment. Which one is your favorite?

1. “A belief in something greater than ourselves sustains us when we are in pain, scared or in dire need. That same power enhances positive experiences and gives us more joy, compassion and energy. Recognizing the power of beliefs can guide your work policies to honor others’ beliefs and facilitate their practice of them. When people feel respected for who they are and what they believe, they are happier and more productive individuals.” Marilyn Tam

2. “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”Daniel Sgroi

3. “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” Simon Sinek

4. “This is the only country in the world where today’s employee is tomorrow’s employer.” Marco Rubio

5. “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest asset I possess. The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.” Charles Schwab

6. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Maya Angelou

7. “Unfortunately, to succeed in business, organizations need to make difficult choices all the time–what to do and, more important, what not to do. The truth of the matter is that whenever we make a difficult choice, some people will win and some will lose. The winners will be happy and the losers unhappy. It’s impossible to make everybody happy all the time. If everybody in your organization is happy, that may be because you’re failing to lead them.” Costas Markides

8. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”Stephen King

9. “Appreciation is the deliberate, proactive valuing of your employee and what he or she has to offer. Appreciation is letting your employees know, in every way you can think of, the following: You matter. You count. You are important.” Dr. Noelle Nelson

10. “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

11. Hiring well is also part of the equation. Look for people who are positive in nature, hard-working, and will add to your team. When problem employees cause trouble, deal with it quickly or you’ll end up punishing other employees by making them tolerate unpleasant or unfair working conditions. Life’s too short to work with jerks.”Jill Geilser

12. “People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the company’s product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” Mary Kay Ash

13. “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”Sam Walton

14. “The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” Thomas J. Peters

15. “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” Oscar Wilde

16 “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer

17. “The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy.” Dalai Lama

18. “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Helen Keller

19. “I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” Martha Washington

20. “To be successful you have to enjoy doing your best while at the same time contributing to something beyond yourself.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

21. “People rarely succeed unless they are having fun in what they are doing.” Dale Carnegie

22. “How often do we pause to be genuinely present with someone? How often do we really hear what the other person is saying and feeling versus filtering it heavily through our own immediate concerns and time pressures? Authentic listening is not easy. We hear the words, but rarely do we really slow down to listen and squint with our ears to hear the emotions, fears, and underlying concerns. Try practicing authentic listening. Be with people and have the goal to fully understand the thoughts and feelings they are trying to express. Use your questions and comments to draw them out, to open them up, and to clarify what is said rather than expressing your view, closing them down, and saying only what you want. Not only will this help you to understand the value and contribution the other person brings, it will create a new openness in the relationship that will allow you to express yourself and be heard more authentically as well.” Kevin Cashman

23. “The best motivation for anyone–including employees–is to hear or see our name as often and in as many places as possible. Our name is the most potent sound we can hear and see. If you want to motivate someone put their name up in lights and/or sing it from the rooftops!” Vicki Donlan

24. “Build your people up. Make them feel important. If your people think you have a high opinion of them, it’s amazing what they will do to maintain that opinion. And the more they respect you, the harder they will work to hang on to your regard.” Barry Maher

25. “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.” Richard De Haan

26. “You have not lived a perfect day, even though you have earned your money, unless you have done something for someone, who will never be able to repay you.”Ruth Smeltzer

27. “Thirty years ago, about 80% of a company’s assets resided in its plant and equipment, with 20% in the knowledge of its people. Today, the reverse is true. The knowledge of our staff is our principal asset.” Susan Rice

28. “Do not check your soul at the door when you cross the threshold of your workplace. Whether you are a custodian or a CEO practice work as sacred art. Respect comes not from the work you do, but the way you do your work.” Mary Manin Morrissey

29. “Far too many people have no idea of what they can do because all they have been told is what they can’t do. They don’t know what they want because they don’t know what’s available for them.” Zig Ziglar

30. “Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the ‘me’ for the ‘we’.” Phil Jackson

31. “Studies show that a trusting workplace increases employees’ level of happiness, work effort, productivity, and engagement. It also provides an environment that encourages open communication and promotes people to share their ideas.” A. Miller

32. “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.” Albert Schweitzer

33. “I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.”Leo Rosten

34. “If you’re interested in ‘balancing’ work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable.” Donald Trump

35. “What does being happy mean to you? What about work satisfaction? Is it flourishing? Is it belonging and feeling valued? Is it achieving? Is it seeing a task to completion? Seeing a customer or client smile, is that a priority? Everyone has a different definition of the word happiness. Start with these questions as a baseline. Is there anyway you can bring them into your current role? Even if the boss and management couldn’t care, do you care enough to take full accountability for your happiness?” Dawn Barclay

Find the original post here http://www.inc.com/john-brandon/35-quotes-to-help-you-stay-happy-and-productive.html

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