Time Management – Top 7 Easy Tips for Business Owners

Time Management
Time Management

“I just don’t know where the time went.” We hear people say that all the time. Time is just
another word for life. At the end of your life, can you imagine saying to yourself, “I wish I had more cars, boats, jewelry, clothes?” More likely you’d be thinking “I wish I’d had more TIME — time to spend with those I love, time to enjoy my life more.” Getting hold of your time can assure that you not waste a precious moment of your life. Here are 7 tips to help you manage your time-and your life better.

1.Where Does the Time Go Now?

The first step in getting hold of more time is to track what you are doing now. You will need at least a week’s worth of data to have an accurate picture. Get an 8×11 piece of lined paper and divide it into 7 columns for each day of the week and block out your waking hours on the left hand side. For that week, you will be writing down what you do with your time. Write when you begin an activity and when you finish. Most important is to be really honest. If you are sitting at your computer, working on a project and take 15 minutes out to play solitaire, write it down. If you lie in bed a ½ hour worrying before you finally get up, write it down. This is a tedious process but well worth the effort. Key word: Awareness

2. Analyze and summarize your time logs.

The next step is the moment of truth. After you have recorded for a week, sit down and look at your log. It is likely that you will be surprised. Develop a key for categorizing your activities, and mark the log with the key and examples would be M=Marketing T=Telephone E=exercise TV=Television P=Personal and so on. Make this individualized for you. You may need as many as a dozen or more categories. Next get out the calculator and see how much time you spend in each category. Write a summary of what you find. Ask yourself, “Is this how I really want to spend my time?” Key word: Analyze

3. Create a New Daily Routine

Now is the time to get over the shock of what the log has revealed and decide what you really want to do with your time. When you look at how you are actually spending your time, does it reflect your highest values and support your life long goals? If the answer is no, this can be a turning point. You can now create a daily routine that fully supports what is most important to you.

First look at what you want to accomplish in your life. Write down your top 2 work and personal goals and under them, list the activities that support their accomplishment. It is best to start off simple here. If you could only work toward three or four goals each day, what would they be?

What two or three actions would you take toward attaining those outcomes?

Follow the natural rhythm of how your work best. If you are a morning person, try to put your most challenging tasks in the morning. Cluster like activities together. If you must be out for a meeting across town, schedule another appointment in that area on that day. Need to spend some time initiating or answering phone calls each day? Schedule a block of time when you are not likely to be interrupted by people dropping by your work place.
Key word: Create

4. Utilize Technology

There are so many devices to help us stay organized and reminded of what we need to do. The most obvious is a calendar. Whether you use a paper or electronic version, schedule a time each day to put in tasks and reminders. If you initiate a contact with someone that must be followed up on, put it on the calendar as soon as you complete the contact. Buy a timer. Use it to break tasks down into manageable portions. Set it and forget it as you concentrate on your task at hand without keeping an eye on the clock. Set up reminders on your computer, palm pilot or telephone. Automatic reminder websites will email you with reminders about birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. A word about clocks: Don’t try to fool yourself by setting clocks incorrectly to force yourself to do certain things on time. It NEVER works. In your mind, you know you have changed the time, and it only serves to muddle the issue. Key word: Automate

5. Don’t Procrastinate

This is one of the biggest problems that people with time issues must face. Procrastination is not a character flaw; it is a logical response to certain activities that cause some level of discomfort.

There can be a number of reasons we procrastinate. Most often it is because we don’t know how to do something or we don’t think we do it well. None of us want our flaws and weaknesses revealed to ourselves and others. The best way to prevent this painful experience is to procrastinate. In this case, education is the key.

Other times, it is because we find the task boring. This is the time to use the timer. Break the job down into manageable time blocks and then just go for it. When the timer goes off, do something more fun or rewarding, then go back to it later. Some people find that finishing the entire job with a reward at the end is the best way. At other times we don’t do a particular job because we don’t think it should be our job in the first place. We think someone else should be doing it.

Here we have to get honest. Is it our job, or is it something that someone else can or should be doing? Facing procrastination takes courage, but is liberating. Find the reason and usually it can be eliminated. Key word: Proactive

6. Say “No”

One of the best ways to never do what you need to do, is to always say yes to everyone else’s needs and requests. If you are afraid to say no to others and agree to everything asked of you, you are going to be overscheduled, and things will fall through the cracks. It is also likely that you will let things go and people will be upset with you. It is best to under promise and over deliver. You have heard this before, and it is a good philosophy for efficient time management.

Be up front with yourself and others about what you can easily and efficiently accomplish in a day. If you know you can’t deliver at the time they ask, let them know it isn’t possible and give a best estimate of when you think you can meet their request, or simply say no. People are much happier about a refusal today than a broken promise tomorrow.
Key word: Self

7. Nobody is Perfect

Let’s say you get a fabulous schedule. It reflects who you are and your goals. It separates
personal and work time and honors your deepest values….and you aren’t able to follow it 100%.

Honor yourself and the learning process and realize that we are all human and will not always be perfect. Forgive yourself lapses of any kind and resolve to do better tomorrow. If necessary, go back to your original analysis and plan and see if you were realistic in creating your schedule. Everything you do is a learning process. Key word: Perspective

Louise Abbott is a business coach and owner of Creative Resources Coaching. She teaches self employed professionals and entrepreneurs how to grow their business using proven marketing practices and business development strategies. Louise has programs for business people at all stages of business development. She is the past president of the Tucson Coaches Alliance and past president of a Tucson chapter of Business Network International.

Author: Louise Abbott

What Role-Playing Excercises can Do for Your Leadership Skills and Team Building

Leadership activity: Non-Leaders Can Benefit Too

Role Playing in Business Leadership
Role Playing in Business Leadership

Some aren’t so lucky to be born with the natural skills that we recognise in our leaders. For those people it is important to prepare a good leadership activity so that they can acquire and practise the skills required to lead a group of people. This can be in a professional setting, or a social context.

Enjoying the Activity

Role-playing in a leadership activity can make it a pleasurable experience, even fun! It should certainly be interesting as those involved act out the various scenarios. Anyone who may otherwise feel awkward or uncomfortable when surrounded by a group should hopefully feel that much more relaxed and it is. As a result the learning process should be facilitated.

Ideally, leadership activity should give the person the chance to experience specific scenarios from the perspective of the leader and those being led. In this way they will learn the necessary understanding of the needs of the group from the individual’s perspective. This understanding can help them in acquiring the skills to be a more effective leader.

In this role-playing activity, one person assumes the role of leader, and the followers work together under the leadership towards a shared goal. After this, someone else will have the opportunity to lead the group while that person then retreats within the group. During the leadership activity all participants should have opportunity to assume both roles.

There should be a constant alteration of the goals set and the leaders, thereby making the tasks more difficult and the challenges more rewarding. Participants then have to respond in real-time to the challenges as they are presented to them – just as in a real life leadership context.

All those involved in any kind of management, or position of authority over others, should be trained using some type of leadership activity. Participants may include; executives, teachers, policemen and supervisors.

Of course this doesn’t just apply to the workplace, we need leaders in social settings too. There are those who feel uncomfortable constantly following the wishes of the group, and desire to assert themselves more. They may wish to work towards personal objectives and will doubtless gain much from a well conducted leadership activity.

Ethics and Leadership

It is important to stress that with leadership activity the aim must be the creation of effective leaders. It is not to get one over on those around you, or to take advantage of followers. Ethics are therefore important for leaders and should be emphasised as part of a good leadership activity.

We should find then that good leaders result from a good leadership activity.

Mark J Emslie has been a business leader most of his working life. There is more useful information and additional resources on Business Leadership Training at http://www.Leadership4All.com.

Author: Mark J Emslie

 

Three Questions For Today’s Leadership Teams

Leadership BreakthroughI had the opportunity recently to work with a group of incredible young people chosen to participate in a unique and forward-thinking program to groom future community leaders. The city of Lewiston, Maine believes that listening to teenagers, tapping into their perspectives, and putting their budding talents to work in city government is key to getting and keeping them engaged, as well as motivated to work in the future to ensure the community’s vibrancy and prosperity. At the orientation of the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council I facilitated a program that focused on learning how to form and work effectively as a team. Typically the team development work that I do is remedial – helping dysfunctional leadership teams figure out what isn’t working and why, and getting them back on the success track. How refreshing to have been involved in helping a brand new team learn proactively how to get it right and keep it going! An important part of the program covered the 4 progressive stages of team development (Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing), and, despite their youth and inexperience, they had no trouble understanding the relationship between who is on the team and the consequences of how it behaves as a whole. They also didn’t miss a beat when I asked them to “rip a current or recent story from the news” for an example of a leadership team in corporate America, sports or politics that hasn’t reached the final PERFORMING stage where the group is highly effective at successfully achieving goals as a unit…”The government and health care reform”, shouted out several participants without hesitation, “They won’t be able to get anything accomplished if they are stuck in the STORMING stage!” No doubt about it, these kids (and other future leaders, including the ones in your organization) are paying attention to the type of leadership behaviors that deliver results, as well as those that don’t!

Great organizations are led by those who are capable of demonstrating the dynamics and successful outcomes of collaborative teamwork to the rest of the organization. Research by the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics at Duke University shows that those who placed the long-term interests of a group ahead of their personal goals are likely to ensure the long-term survival and success of the organization.

THREE QUESTIONS FOR TODAY’S LEADERSHIP TEAMS FROM THE LEADERSHIP TEAMS OF TOMORROW:

1. Surveys show that less than 25% of senior leaders are committed to or participate in their own leadership development. How will you be capable of showing us how to lead together effectively for a common purpose?

2. We see how power plays, personal agendas and career aspirations within a group of even the most talented individuals can sabotage good intentions and result in chaos, frustration and performance decline. What will you do now to better define, choose and prepare the team of people who will need to carry the leadership torch into the future?

3. Contrary to conventional wisdom, breakthrough innovation and performance is the fruit of collaboration rather than that of a genius working alone. If we demonstrate effective leadership team behavior and deliver excellence, how will you reward us differently than the current system that tends to disproportionately reward the top executive?

The future may depend on your answers.

Author: Marilyn Lustgarten
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Leadership Coaching – Vital to an Organization

Leadership CoachingIt is vital to have proper leadership coaching in an organization. It is unfortunate that in many companies, management teams have no clear understanding of how to lead. The default for them is to micro manage others by pushing out their chest feathers and showing “who’s in charge”. Hundreds of books exist on how to best lead a team of people and have an amazing concept between them; however you cannot effectively learn how to lead people from pages in a book.

The position you hold may hold a title of leadership, but it doesn’t mean that you automatically exude the leadership qualities. Keep in mind; even the largest corporations have CEO’s that do not know how to effectively manage others. Other employees of the company may have been with the company for 20 years and know their job inside and out. Does this mean they know how to coach others? It is important for a leader to gain respect, confidence and above all – TRUST – of their employees. What is the first two ways to do that? Treat them like a human; not a number and be able to do their job! If you are willing to do their job from time to time, they are willing to go above and beyond for you most of the time.

Do you need to be over 40 to be a good leader? Absolutely not! Age does not matter in the least when it comes to leadership skills. It has to do with personality. If you have the natural leadership qualities it takes to be an amazing leader, you don’t need to be 40. Quite a few 20 year olds hold an important leadership position! You see, a great leader is not noticed for the title, but for the ability to motivate the team consistently; one who is always searching for new ways to motivate and improve standards. In the effort to improve standards, the leader needs to identify weaknesses in the company and present and/or implement solutions to assist the company in gaining strength.

Another important quality of a great leader is education. Not the degree itself. It is all about the education on the company they work for and the understanding they have of all of the intricate details of the company. Without this, how could the leader make a well informed decision about the company that would benefit everyone? Is the leader able to adapt to any situation? In the corporate world, the fancy term is “change management”. There are those employees that are unfortunately labeled “change inept”. We think of them as those who will come close to having a panic attack and the mention of change. Why label them? Why not apply the leadership skills you have and work with them to make the transition as easy as possible?

In leadership coaching, it is not training, it’s an attitude!

Elle Wood recommends LeadershipIQ for outstanding leadership coaching. LeadershipIQ’s leadership programs deliver cutting-edge content with no fluff. Their leadership coaching is based on research, tackles thorny issues, is highly-interactive while making your leadership management more accountable with specific tools for immediate action.

Author: Elle Wood
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Building Your Leadership Pipeline

Building leadership pipelineTimes have changed and so has the competitive landscape of business management. Traditional business models told business owners and executives that to become more competitive, you had to invent something new to sell or service, or improve an existing product or service. That was all there was to it. In general terms, the inputs and outputs haven’t changed much, but companies are continuously changing their internal processes to improve company performance. How so and what does this mean to the business world?

Repeat after me, “I will make a concerted effort to obtain top talent.”

For smaller businesses, this presents a problem. Often, smaller businesses don’t have the capital to hire superstars, and in some areas, the superstars just aren’t there. Case in point: Metropolitan New Orleans, post-Katrina. So what is a business to do when they can’t always find “the best”?

There is a solution to the depleted leadership pool. “If you can’t find them, then make them.” Remember. Leaders are created, not born. The process began with parents, teachers, and coaches. With any luck, some leadership skills were transferred during college and military stints. Often though, a person’s leadership development stagnates when he or she takes a job. It’s a shame. Many potential leaders have been ruined by a lack of mentoring, coaching, bonding, and training.

However, you don’t have to let this happen. By taking a proactive approach to your business leadership, you can keep your pipeline filled with home-grown leadership candidates. Instead of searching outwards for the “perfect” candidate, you can develop the characteristics and skills of the people you have now. Leadership is an ongoing process and keeping the flow going, you can continue to improve.

Look for “That Spark”

By “spark,” I mean the natural ability to communicate with people. Add to that, look for the ability to connect – meaning the ability to communicate and relate to people and build on this. The ability to connect is absolutely necessary because as a leader, one must have the ability to win others over. Communication, connecting, and relating are skills required to persuade…without a hammer or whip.

Train a cross section of promotable candidates on a regular basis

Create Development Plans

Create development plans for the individuals with that spark. Teach them to leverage the talents that they already have and help them figure out their leadership performance gaps. Encourage them to leverage their current talents and persuade them to develop in other areas where their skills are inadequate for a leadership role.

Don’t: Use cookie cutter development plans for all candidates. I know it’s easy to point, click, and email, but it cheapens the process…it makes it seem less sincere and more obligatory.

Do: Create specific plans for the individual. It makes the candidates feel special…like you’ve got an interest and a stake in their professional well being. After all…you do!

Coach and Mentor…Continuously, Without Annoying

Coaching and mentoring are crucial. The process starts with a relationship between you and the candidate then continues with regular bonding and nurturing. It sounds kind of “touchy-feely,” I know, but the relationship, bonding, and nurturing sessions are critical to the molding process of the candidate. You must coach candidates with the intent of creating a business partner. Get their opinion on current company challenges (be careful of the can of worms you open here.)

It’s a great conversation starter and a chance to help mold their thinking about certain business topics. Discuss together how you intend to combat them. Let them in on some info that’s not confidential, but not readily available to the troops. A great technique is to allow them to observe management meetings (With the exception of certain confidential meetings.) You are beginning to let them into your circle of leadership. Watch them blossom as they begin to feel like they are part of “The Club.”

Don’t: Coach for the sake of coaching…meaning, don’t coach if you don’t have anything to coach on. It’s both annoying and ineffective.

Do: Encourage dialogue by asking questions and telling stories. Tell stories that relate to a topic that you would like to discuss, though you should at least attempt to keep it the context of business.

Classroom Training

I recommend that you create or outsource leadership and management training for the existing leaders and for the individuals that you would like to develop. It’s a great refresher for existing leaders and a great learning tool for prospective leaders. It’s important that you continue to train and develop your leaders and your workforce. Remember that training is a process, not an event. You should concentrate on basic leadership skills as well as management but remember to place the emphasis on leading people.

Don’t: Do a mass training event every few years with large time gaps between sessions.

Do: Establish an ongoing training program. Choose attendees for the monthly/quarterly sessions based on their specific needs, as documented in their development plans. Breaking the training up into monthly or quarterly sessions helps spread the costs out over time as well.

These recommendations seem difficult en masse, but if you break them into phases or projects, it’ll be much easier to handle. If you do the things mentioned above, you’ll have a much better chance of creating a team of superstar leaders. These superstars will align team actions with company goals and ultimately pave the way for your company’s success.

Jarrod Clavelle

©Copyright, Mosaic Business Solutions, LLC 2008

Jarrod Clavelle is the CEO and Principle Consultant of Mosaic Business Solutions, a New Orleans-based consulting firm. Mosaic Business Solutions specializes in Organizational Development, Leadership, Sales, and Customer Service training. Go to [http://www.mosaicbusinessonline.com] for a complete listing of services.

Author: Jarrod Clavelle
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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7 Top Time Management Tips – Its a No-Brainer!

time managementProper Time Management is critical to any business but it is life or death for a small business and yet many entrepreneurs just don’t know how to manage their time – so I am going to be very direct here.

Most of the people I work with want help sorting out their time – it is the single biggest problem for many entrepreneurs. Unless you get your time sorted out you will not be able to focus on marketing, product development, client development or your cashflow and your business will stagnate or shrink and you will not have that free time we all enjoy. It really is that clear cut for most small businesses.

Some of the core areas to address:

 

  1. Know what your business priorities are and have them written down. Things like marketing, client or development time, admin, research, training etc
  2. Have clear goals and write them down
  3. Have a weekly or monthly schedule drawn up – create a schedule to block out your time into manageable chunks
  4. Use To Do lists – with your tasks in order of priority and assign time blocks
  5. Integrate your To Do list into your schedule
  6. Remove anything from your To Do list that is not likely to be done – don’t give your energy to things you are unlikely to do or you will procrastinate
  7. Schedule some personal time to recharge

It is a fact that if you have a problem with your Time Management you will be very unlikely to fix the problem alone – or you wouldn’t have a problem in the first place. Good questions to ask:

 

  1. How much is it costing me now?
  2. If I don’t change then how much will it cost me in the future?
  3. What am I missing out on doing in my business and personal life?

If you work for yourself or run a small business you need a system in place so you know what you are doing and when you are doing it. You are an expert at delivering your product but you cannot be an expert at everything – so get help before it gets worse.

My name is Angus MacLennan and I am a Business and Personal Coach. I get great results with motivated Entrepreneurs and Professionals. I believe we should be creating businesses that work for us and I believe we can have the profit and lifestyle we want working 25 hrs a week.

Blog: http://www.coachingentrepreneurs.co.uk
Email: info(at)ilcoaching.co.uk
Ph: 0798 224 1479

Author: Angus MacLennan
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Team Building Maneuvers and the Team’s Leadership

Vision of Team AlignmentConquering the Challenge of “Change” through Team Building Maneuvers

Nothing is as upsetting to your people as change. Nothing has greater potential to cause failures, loss of production or failing quality. Yet nothing is as important to the survival of your organization as your people and their response to change.

Research tells us that 70 percent of all change initiatives fail (Source: Author Peter Senge, “The Dance of Change,” Doubleday Press, Toronto, Ont. 1999, p. 3-4). Beyond a doubt, the likelihood of your change initiative failing is overwhelming. Since 2004, I’ve studied, facilitated and taught change processes and experience tells me that change efforts fail for one, two, or all of the following three reasons:

1. Failure to properly define the Future Picture and the impact of the change.
All too often, the “change” initiative addresses the symptoms of current challenges and problems rather than the future the organization wants or needs to create. Change is about creating a desired future, not just correcting current problem/symptoms.

2. Failure to properly assess the current situation, in order to determine the scope within the requirements for change.
Organizations perpetually assess the current situation against current measures of performance. However, change is not the same as problem-solving or project management. Rather, managing change is about moving an organization strategically forward to achieve its vision of the future.

3. Failure to effectively manage the transition of moving from the present to the future.
Experience demonstrates that failure to effectively manage the transition/transformation need is the leading cause of failure for strategic change initiatives. The change itself is not the problem. Change is an event; it is situational: deciding to implement a new system, target a new market, acquire or merge two organizational cultures (Source: Author William Bridges, “Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change,” Addison Wesley, Don Mills Ont., p.3). The problem occurs with what happens within the gap between the present and future, after the “change” and before you get to “there.” The reality of change is that change is about people not structures – people are the reasons for stop gaps in change initiatives!

Failure to successfully execute often comes from seeing the change as solely structural, so once the new system is designed and ready for implementation, the new organization is agreed upon and the doctrine papers are signed to legalize the “deal,” everyone, including the CEO, walks away from what is considered (prematurely) a “done deal.” This is a mistake that goes on all too often like a broken record. History is full of examples of organizations and teams that failed when experiencing changing environments (most of them are now extinct). The secret to successfully managing change, from the perspective of the people within the organization and their teams, is “definition” and “understanding.” To make it clear, I’ll explain them in subsets.

Definition and Understanding for the “WHAT” in Teams

It is important to understand that not everyone who works together or in close proximity is a member of a team. This concept is a misnomer for a lot of people. A clear explanation of a team is a group of individuals who are interdependent with respect to intelligence, information, transferable skill sets, resources, and tools and who seek to combine their efforts to achieve a shared-vision towards a common goal. A team, for instance, is either building or falling apart. An essential aptitude for true team building and the maneuvers they require is leading the team into building on a continuous basis. Team building maneuvers lead a group into higher levels of team spirit, cooperation and interpersonal communication. Building teams is the process of developing on the team-dynamics and interpersonal relationship of the people that come together to make-up the unit. Team spirit either grows or it dies based on the dynamics of the unit.

Teams have specific characteristics that should be addressed:

– Teams must be constructed to achieve a shared-vision for a shared goal.
– Team associates are interdependent regarding some common interests; teams are the instrument of sustained and enduring success in leadership and management.
– Teams use strategic thinking, acting, and influence – associates each possess the authority to manage their own stimulus for change.
– A team is a type of group, but not all groups are teams – team leaders know this to be true.
– Teams are formed to best facilitate learning and peak performance while operating in a socialist environment.
– Team associates are not responsible to “self,” but to their team and its mission; their obligation is to guide the unit to find its voice, while strategically and flawlessly executing.
– Teams learn to navigate positive transition to disseminate authority and power for change – and, they understand when it is a “must” to move into greater levels of performance (the difference between ordinary and extraordinary high performance teams).

The difference between ordinary teams and high performance teams are its people and their abilities to overcome the fear of change. High performance teams place a focus on the people who drive the overall performance within the system: “how do you define a high-performance team?” A high performance team is a group of people who are led by an exception leader, ALL having complementary skills, who understand roles and goals, and who are committed to achieving those goals through a shared-voice, as one unit or body, to demonstrate strategic and flawless execution measures for overcoming changing environments.

This team format learns quickly how-to work together toward mutual goals using their individual skills to support one another regardless of the situation they are engaging or any amount of resistance to change from a fear of the unknown or an expectation of loss or failure.

The “alpha” of the high performance team’s resistance to change is how they perceive the change. The “omega” is how well they are equipped to deal with the change they expect. The team member’s degree of resistance is determined by whether they perceive the change as good or bad, and how they expect the impact of the change to be on the entire unit. Their ultimate acceptance of the change is a function of how much resistance the team member has and the quality of their coping skills and their support system. The job role of the team leader is to address their resistance from both perspectives by helping each member reduce it to a minimal, manageable process level. The success of the response depends on the leader’s ability to lead by example, their level of trust from the members on the team and their ability to persuade the members to overcome their resistance so the unit can move ahead. When the leader is able to communicate a low threat level and/or limited risk, the member’s perception will be one of trust for engaging the objective. Simply, it will all come down to the leader’s relationship with the team; hence, the success of the team not only depends on its members, but also on the leadership they follow.

Definition and Understanding for Accepting “CHANGE” on Teams and Organizations

Now, we’ll look at how teams can manage change and fear, and overcome them both to perform at its peak as a unit, and pronounce its leadership style to permeate peak performance across an entire organization. The “alpha” here begins by looking at change as an emotions state that is synonymous with fear. Fear stipulates an uncomfortable emotional response to potential threats and a way of life. It is a basic survival mechanism that occurs in response to specific stimulus of future events, such as worsening of a situation or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable. It needs to be addressed by the leadership personnel in as much detail and as early as possible. Leadership must be able to provide updates as things develop and become clearer if any chance is possible for overcoming the fears that are the precursor for change.

“Definition” is a two-way street. In addition to defining a problem that causes fear, team leaders need to get their members to a point that they feel comfortable defining the reasons behind their resistance. “Understanding,” the “omega” here is also a two-way street. Team leaders must be prepared to clearly explain to their members what is changing and why. They must also be clear about the member’s reluctance. Here are a few things that the team leaders must be aware of:

– Team leaders must not try to rationalize the issues, but focus on opening and maintaining clear channels of communication with their team members so they understand what is coming and what it means to them and the unit.
– Team leaders must be able to help their member gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation at hand, both the positives and negatives.
– Team leaders must inform their members what the change will be, when it will happen and why – what is not changing and how the anchors on the team (the characteristics, such as “trust” that holds the team together) will be affected as they face the winds of uncertainty and change.
– Team leaders must be able to understand the specific fears of each member. What their concerns are and how strongly they feel about the potential outcomes, both the positives and negatives (do they perceive it as a good or a bad thing?).

The Bottom Line: Definition and Understanding

Conquering the challenge of “change” through team building maneuvers requires innovation, creativity and some good old fashion “leadership.” People yearn for ideas (big and small ones) and think that if they just had that one “right” idea for the team or organization, success would surely come. Certainly, we can all do things to be more creative, but having ideas isn’t the biggest, or even first, source of our challenges.

Think about it this way. You’ve experienced what is believed by you to be the greatest workshop ever attended, so you go back to the workplace to integrate what you’ve learned – only, you never do. You’ve thought about trying a new approach to your meetings, but never did. You’ve had a great idea that never went anywhere. You’ve had an idea for a new process, but failed to introduce it to other the leaders. The list can go on and on and you’ll see that there’s no shortage of ideas or creativity that is stopping you. What is stopping you is fear, the fear of change or the fear of failure. Either way you look at it, fear is the stimulus that stops great people from doing great things – the action that is required for successful progress in life and in the workplace.

Change and Failure (Breakdown)

Failure and success are the outcomes of change. No matter how you look at them both, they each have a constant that cannot go unnoticed, “leadership.” We cannot succeed at higher levels of performance if we maintain status quo, but inherent in change is the possibility that we might fail or experience a breakdown in process. So any discussion of the “fear of change” or the “fear of failure” needs to start with a discussion on transition and transformation. While there are downsides and risks involved in change (including the risk of failure) think of all of the positives that can come from change:

– Process Improvement to Leadership and Management,
– Overall Employee Performance Increases,
– Team Development, Transition and Transformation,
– Greater Satisfaction (Individual) – Personal Proficiency,
– Organizational Renewal – Professional Mastery, and
– Marketplace Expansion, and much more.

And these are just a few. The next time you feel the fear of failure, think about how you feel about change and how it impacts your level of fear. All change involves a certain amount of uncertainty and ambiguity and those two conditions provoke anxiety. This is a reason to hold onto the past for lessons learned; it’s familiar, and as the adage goes, “better what you know versus whet you don’t know.” So, although change has the ability to promote new systems, structures, organizations and teams, people will always conform to the “same old~same old,” unwilling to let go of the past. That is why looking at the positives and keeping an open mind is so critical to the success of experiencing change.

Structuring Failure and Success (Breakthrough)

One individual’s failure is another individual’s success; it’s all based on a decision that “must” be made at some point. Sun Tzu, arguably the greatest military strategist that many still follow, had his say on success and failure: “Consideration and analysis of The Five Elements, “Dao” – Moral Unity, “Tian” – Weather Condition, “Di” – Geographical Condition, “Jiang” – Leadership Quality, “Fa” – Discipline and Organization Structure, a must know for all commanders. Victory to those who understand and no victory to those who does not. The Five Elements will determine success or failure of conducting war.”

Here’s an explanation of Sun Tzu’s statement through comparison and an analytical lens. The Five Elements will reveal the factors of success and failure of all battle, namely: Moral Unity, Weather Condition, Geographical Condition, Leadership Quality, Discipline and Organization Structure.

Moral Unity determines the cohesiveness between the ruler and his subjects, the leader and his followers, the general and his soldiers. Ultimately, to achieve full support by fellowman, putting aside life and death matters and share the view of the ruler’s is the goal of Moral Unity. Only when a view or decision is fully supported, can orders be carried out smoothly by the team.

Weather Condition such as summer/winter and drought/flood will have significant affects on how plans are executed. When weather is an element that no one has any control, the best strategy will be take full advantage of the conditions when able. Going against the force of nature may prove rewarding when one overcomes, but it usually spells destruction.

Geographical Condition here refers to distance of near/far, terrain/mountainous/flat regarding the battle space, wide/narrow the battle field and whether the location chosen to engage the battle favors attack/defense.

This will limit the size, type and performance of the troop. The same for business – this will also determine the team’s reaction to the mission and the amount of resources – people, process and management of initiative that will be required to win.

Leadership Quality (my favorite) concerns the general/commander’s leading capability. There are five qualities of a good leader: “wisdom, trustworthiness, benevolence and deportment, courage (both physical and emotional) and sternness (temperament).” These five qualities will affect the leading capability of a commander, his culture and climate for organizational behavior effectiveness within the environment and the efficacy and value of his command being carried out by the people under his leadership.

Discipline and Organization Structure is the system of open communication and the vehicles used to do so – how each level within the organization manages and leads the people and process, including logistics. It requires a fair, consistent and clear communication to everyone. Communication is the greatest resource in all of life, not only in organizations, but in all we set out to accomplish. Effective communications is leadership’s greatest tool to win its people, systems, processes and management of functions.

As The Five Elements are inter-related, no leader can either ignore or fail to understand the constructive/destructive nature of each element. Victory will overcome “failure” and “success” will fall upon those who analyze and clearly understand The Five Elements. Therefore, by asking who offers fairest reward and punishment, whose troop, team or organization is best trained and led, whose equipment and resources are more efficient and plentiful, who can deliver and communicate order/leadership smoothly, effectively and thoroughly, who has better geographical/weather advantages (culture and organizational climate), who has more resourceful leaders and followers – teams, whether the appointed leader/leadership is wiser, more strategic in their thinking, tactical in their approach to engage and has virtue… the winner is clear, defined and understood.

Constructing it all to Enhance Leadership for Teamwork as an Essential Goal

What am I referring to in the term “Leadership for Teamwork?” Organizations can try to influence leaders to work as a team, but only leaders themselves can make it work. Why should you want to be a team-oriented leader, and how can you take steps to make it happen, even when the status quo is not favorable? A strong motivator to becoming a better cohort with your leaders-colleagues-peers is to take stock of what “not” collaborating is costing you during the tough times (and, even the not so tough times).

As you attempt to lead others and yourself, it is important to keep in mind your quintessential intention to enhance, deepen and strengthen the spirit of “we are absolutely on the same team, sounding with one unified voice, and committed to achieving the same outcome/ Future Picture for one another.” Integrate the improvement of the quality of leadership for effective teamwork into your objective, strategy and tactics. Include it in the vision and mission and ensure that all members across each level of the organization understand and can communicate it without fail. It must not “only” be written on a fancy picture and placed on the wall (the all too common inspirational). It must run like blood through veins and become as important as the air we breathe.

Express your value of Leadership for Teamwork and team fortitude by ensuring that the cost factor is not as important in the decision to remain on a continuum to train organizational behavior, transformational leadership, strategic execution and team building maneuvers as the decision to make all allocations to do so. The cost of not doing it, even when things are tough, offers a far more potential for failure.

If you overlook Leadership for Teamwork and effective team building maneuvers by focused exclusively or excessively on the outcome you want teamwork to accomplish, you’ll place your team and organization in a position to neglect the means to your end and eliminate the solution-centric outcomes in your future. This would be like a U.S. Marine purposely neglecting to adequately care for his weapons while on the battlefield.

How you think about each individual and team in the organization is the most critical aspect in Leadership for Teamwork. By leading your own thoughts, you begin leading in the most significant way. So discipline yourself to think about those you are responsible for leading as members of your team, and not as your problems, adversaries or competitors. You have to “mentally embrace” them as for you, and not against you, particularly when they demonstrate difficult conduct. This is the truest form of selflessness that, in most cases, is forgotten.

An effective and easy tool to form the greatest disciplines in Leadership for Teamwork is for everyone to do his best to interpret the behaviors of others, however dissonant, as a sign of a core challenge or initiative that needs immediate attention. It’s important to realize that behaviors are a form of communications to address Leadership for Teamwork and this action can transform bad feelings of resentment into positive organizational behaviors and gratitude. Our President Barack Obama, the 44TH of the United States, used similar techniques to successfully win the elections to lead the American people; “CHANGE and Leadership for Teamwork!” His message rings true around the world and is also being used to bring communities and Governments (also forms of teams) together in ways that at one time, would never have been thought of. Marcus Aurelius said, “Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”

This statement can be applied to teams and defines the true meaning of Leadership for Teamwork. The team that is not overwhelmed with being productive and full of life is far too busy dying. Life is born from every member and led by every member. Regard Leadership for Teamwork as an essential means for overcoming fear, winning change and leading through cooperation to experience peak performance that takes the organization to the next level.

How to Lead your Team to the Next Level

What is the worst thing that could happen? Actually, people will ask a more rhetorical question: “what could happen?” But, they never really get the answer they are hoping for because of fear. Most of the time, just asking the question seems like progress is being made or, a significant amount of time (meetings to schedule more meetings that promotes nothing but time and talk) planning and not executing. This is a question that simply hangs in the spam folders, lost in internet space or on a memo at the water cooler. Don’t let it become a technical “error message” that requires someone else to get it done. Take the initiative to go against the status quo and get the question answered yourself. Consider the very worst thing that could happen; answering the question for yourself can and will stimulate movement in a positive direction. Often, the absolute worst case isn’t as bad as might think.

What is the best possible outcome? Seriously, what is the best thing that could happen? Think about the scenario where everything goes perfectly. Will this be your outcome? Maybe not, but your worst case scenario likely won’t happen either. It takes both of these questions to really understand your situation. Chances are, your results will be somewhere between the two. Once you have considered the range of possibilities, you are in a better position to decide whether to proceed or not, and you will have definitely reduced your fear of failure if you do take that step forward.

Next, you can explore the development of a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) for the team. This is designed for people to learn broadly, to inspire the service out of generosity for others, and to prepare them to lead courageously into the future. A Memorandum of Understanding encourages a perspective to become firmly grounded in the potential for successful growth using a series of constructs – a portfolio management approach – that everyone buys into for effective deportment and forward movement. A Memorandum of Understanding acts as the blueprint for strategic leadership on the teams and across the organization.

Are you wondering how to build an organization in which executive leaders, team leaders, middle managers and front line staff will flourish? To build an environment where people, teams and organizations will flourish and achieve peak performance, you must get the best leaders to pay close attention to the design of the elements around them (situational awareness).

The Memorandum of Understanding articulate a lucid purpose, helps to create effective leadership teams, prioritize their initiatives carefully, redesign organizational structures, employ strategic intent meets strategic agility to result flawless and strategic execution and, most importantly, integrate all these tactics into one coherent strategy.

The Memorandum of Understanding must include the following constructs:

– The Cardinal Rules,
– The Guiding Precepts,
– The Forms of Disposition,
– The General Orders,
– The Strategy Forward – Establishing Professional Mastery, and
– The Centers of Gravity.

The Cardinal Rules are a set of guidelines that are invaluable for people and organizations to follow while planning and executing at the strategic or tactical level. These rules, once established by the individual(s) or teams are the rules that govern forward movement and must not change (i.e. To manage by mind, lead by heart).

The Guiding Precepts are designed to inform people what they should and should not be doing in accordance with executing a well designed strategy to win. They also inform of the reasons “why” an action must occur and the repercussions should the individual and/or organization fail at meeting such a task (i.e. Unselfishness; this trait is the avoidance of providing for one’s personal comfort and advancement at the expense of others. The comfort, pleasure, and recreation levels should be placed above everything. Looking out for the needs of others is the essence of self-leadership).

The Forms of Disposition offer a substantive transformation in “thought” about how people achieve a perspective on things in life. It refers to an orchestrated, systemic and revolutionary new world-view resulting in a “change” of societies, cultures, and marketplaces due to behavioral perspective. This is today often called “systems theory,” which sees a web of relationships coalescing to become something greater than the parts. Individuals must be able to look at things from a perspective that they are always changing and evolving into new forms – thinking “out-of-the-box!” We are doomed to a slow death unless radical change occurs in the way we think. Change your way of thinking or die a slow death (i.e. Mistakes are a fact of life that requires an eraser; it is the ability to respond to error that counts. You can’t live without an eraser).

The General Orders are broad, community-wide “need statements,” designed to encompass a variety of related issues in a person’s life or within the life cycle of an organization. These related issues are referred to as “Guiding Objectives,” which are specific items that need to be addressed. The Guiding Strategies (developed to fit current and future circumstance) are the methods identified for addressing the Guiding Objectives, and the Guiding Policies are the specific action steps that are recommended to implement the Guiding Strategies. The General Orders, all eleven of them, offer the ability to explore implications in an open and reflective manner and reinforce each other in providing a coherency and wholeness often lacking in life cycles (i.e. Know yourself as a “Leader” and seek continuous improvement).

The Strategy Forward – Establishing Professional Mastery. The traditional values are the foundation of the modern day; that was yesterday. Tomorrow, you have an opportunity to create commitment and the needed momentum to establish, publish, share, and teach a different set of life’s code, values, and ethics to journey into the future. After much hard work, you are prepared to develop a strategy to move forward and plan the next steps to target critical successes for winning the Future Picture. What a legacy you will leave when executed with personal and professional bearing for others to follow. This is the way of the future. This is a new chapter (i.e. Remove the Jars’ Lid: Allow for profound growth by employing Transformational Thinking to navigate the maze of organizational politics – and the schedule to do so – to accept change).

The Centers of Gravity. Just as time changes, so does the internal and external influence in your life and in the life cycle of an organization. The Centers of Gravity are the dynamics within a process that offer the greatest impact on the overall system when change happens. They offer a high level of “value” and return on your energy “investment.” When combined with the concept of parallel deposits (creating energy from various perspectives in a short period of time), the Centers of Gravity make possible the seemingly impossible task of realizing success in changing paradigms. The Centers of Gravity places significant influence on the five established epicenters of any changing system to receive desired effects: Leadership, Processes, Infrastructure, Population, and Action Units.

In summary, a Memorandum of Understanding, your blueprint for strategic leadership, offers an opportunity to free up our actions as public servants. It is empowering, it is enabling and it grounds us in a public way on the fundamentals that we all must share. There is no ethical malaise. It is important to realize that the new is not a finding from what has been lost. Rather, we are like the journey of the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz story in search of a brain (brain power in this context); the Tin Woodsman in search of a heart, and the Cowardly Lion in search of courage. Your value system is intact and has been with you the entire way thus far. The Memorandum of Understanding simply articulates and reaffirms the core value and behavioral perspective that already underlie your personal and professional appearance and conduct to achieve significant growth.

Develop, learn and instruct the Memorandum of Understanding well. It will make the difference between winning and losing in every aspect of your life – personally and professionally – and maintain a positive team building attitude.

Finally, Maintain a Positive Team Building Attitude

To lead most effectively, the leader’s attitude needs to be strongly and deeply rooted in the dynamics of the team and its fortitude, particularly when relating with individuals who are also seeking to grow themselves and the organization they are a part. The Memorandum of Understanding has been used to lead successful transformation efforts for organization and teams to achieve their goals in and away from the organization and the battlefields of life. A paradigm-changing approach, the Memorandum of Understanding concurrently addresses multiple disciplines across the entire transformation life cycle; enabling leaders and teams help people build a stronger, more responsive and resilient organizations.

Rather than relating to a series of ongoing problematic behaviors as a hindrance or as a threat to your objective, relate to the development of your Memorandum of Understanding as a guide for how you need to build teamwork and team spirit and fortitude to meet the inevitable challenge of change and effective leadership.

If you would like to receive a copy of our Memorandum of Understanding to guide you with developing your own, simply send me an email at Dpitts@thebisongroup.com. God Speed as you continue on your path to experience your own unique state of Leadership for Teamwork, using team building maneuvers to take your people and team to new levels and conquer the challenge of overcoming the “fears of change” across the organizations and teams you are leading.

Damian D. “Skipper” Pitts, the Founder and Chairman of the Bison Group ® Corporation, is charged with leading a team of U.S. Marines turned business professionals specializing in transformational leadership, organizational behavior, team building and strategic execution. He is the author of 8 books including his most recent, Business WARFIGHTING For GREAT Teams, 11 published journals and his upcoming release, The Seven “T’s” of Oz: Getting Results through Critical Thinking, Effective Decision-Making and Team Building Maneuvers. Additionally, he has authored his flagship executive education military-style leadership and organizational behavior program, “The Process of LeaderShaping,” that is currently being taught at Temple University in Philadelphia. The program includes 15 modules and 45 lectures/lessons, providing a wealth of summary, discussion, and applicable presentation material for participants to execute strategy to achieve their own level of “Personal Proficiency,” while increasing their state of “Professional Mastery.”

Author: Damian D. Pitts
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Seven Reasons Organizational Culture Matters

culture synergyWe spend 40 . . . or 45 . . . or 50 . . . or more hours at work each week. Many of us spend more time with those we work with than we do our families. For us to be content and fulfilled people, that time must be valuable for more than a dollar. . .

We want to be engaged in our work. We yearn for work that is enjoyable, meaningful and engaging. When we are engaged we are safer on the job, more productive and more willing and able to delight Customers.

It is for these basic reasons that organizational culture matters. It is the right thing for an organization to do – to think about the work environment, working relationships and “how we do things here.”

Focusing on building and sustaining an organizational culture is one way of showing that people are the organization’s most valuable asset.

There are of course many other bottom line business reasons to focus on and build organizational culture. Here are seven of those reasons.

A strong culture is a talent-attractor. Your organizational culture is part of the package that prospective employees look at when assessing your organization. Gone are the days of selecting the person you want from a large eager pool. The talent market is tighter and those looking for a new organization are more selective than ever. The best people want more than a salary and good benefits. They want an environment they can enjoy and succeed in.

A strong culture is talent-retainer. How likely are people to stay if they have other options and don’t love where they are? Your organizational culture is a key component of a person’s desire to stay.

A strong culture engages people. People want to be engaged in their work. According to a Gallup survey at least 22 million American workers are extremely negative or “actively disengaged” – this loss of productivity is estimated to be worth between $250-$300 Billion annually. Your culture can engage people. Engagement creates greater productivity, which can impact profitability. Need I say more?

A strong culture creates energy and momentum. Build a culture that is vibrant and allows people to be valued and express themselves and you will create a very real energy. That positive energy will permeate the organization and create a new momentum for success. Energy is contagious and will build on itself, reinforcing the culture and the attractiveness of the organization.

A strong culture changes the view of “work.” Most people have a negative connotation of the word work. Work equals drudgery, 9-5, “the salt mine.” When you create a culture that is attractive, people’s view of “going to work” will change. Would you rather see work as drudgery or a joy? Which do you think your employees would prefer? Which will lead to the best results?

A strong culture creates greater synergy. A strong culture brings people together. When people have the opportunity to (and are expected to) communicate and get to know each other better, they will find new connections. These connections will lead to new ideas and greater productivity – in other words, you will be creating synergy. Literally, 1 + 1 + right culture = more than 10. How is that for leverage?

A strong culture makes everyone more successful. Any one of the other six reasons should be reason enough to focus on organizational culture. But the bottom line is that an investment of time, talent and focus on organizational culture will give you all of the above benefits. Not only is creating a better culture a good thing to do for the human capital in the business, it makes good business sense too.

Hopefully this article has helped you see that time spent enhancing your organizational culture will be time wisely invested. Regardless of your current culture, it is never too late to enhance it and to begin creating the benefits described above.

What are you waiting for?

Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (http://KevinEikenberry.com), a learning consulting company. To receive a free Special Report on leadership that includes resources, ideas, and advice go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/leadership.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.

Author: Kevin Eikenberry
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Stress Management Made Simple And Easy

Stress management is a hot topic; stress-related illness and suffering is at an all-time high in America and increasing every year. Cliff Kuhn, M.D.’s work with the powerful natural medicine of humor has uncovered the primary culprit behind your unhealthy stress symptoms, as well as the solution to simple, healthy stress management.

Astronomer-mathematician Ptolemy (85-165) devised a theory of planetary motions that placed the earth at the center of the universe. The sun, moon, and planets revolved around the earth in the Ptolemaic universe. This notion was accepted for approximately 1,500 years. More on this in a moment…

Shelly was in such need of stress management that she was unhappy much of the time. Shortly after she became my patient, I was able to help Shelly see that, just like Ptolemy’s theory, she was casting herself as the center of the universe, thereby causing unmanageable stress levels in her life. We began a regimen from my Fun Factor prescription that afforded Shelly proper stress management, reintroduced joy and happiness, and brought her life back into balance.

Shelly’s problem was common; I see more and more people each day who suffer from unhealthy levels of stress. Whether it is sleeplessness, weight gain, mood changes, hair loss, worry, agitation, or any other of the myriad symptoms commonly associated with stress, stress-related illness and suffering is at an all-time high in America and increasing every year. Luckily for you, my work with the powerful natural medicine of humor has uncovered the primary culprit behind your unhealthy stress symptoms, as well as the solution to simple, healthy stress management.

My medical practice, involving decades of work with chronically and fatally ill patients, has clearly identified the cause of our painful stress symptoms – seriousness. Seriousness means taking yourself too seriously; seriousness means over-reaching – taking responsibility for things beyond your power, such as the outcomes and results of all your hard work. Consequently, you’re positioning yourself incorrectly as the “center of the universe.” Seriousness causes so much pressure that effective stress management, which I will teach you in this article, becomes impossible.

The antidote for your seriousness, and your foundation for healthy stress management, is the natural medicine of humor. Humor’s incredible power is harnessed to maximum impact through my unique Fun Factor prescription. Based upon my Fun Commandments, which were forged in unison with some incredible patients of mine, my Fun Factor prescription is capable of producing such profound positive change to your health and personal success that you will soon have people whispering, “Is she always this happy?”

In this article, I will explain how my Fun Factor prescription can be directly applied to your stress. You will be amazed at how much lighter and happier you feel, with each passing day, as you put the following Fun Commandments to work in your life. You are about to discover that the natural medicine of humor produces flawless stress management, putting an end to your painful stress symptoms.

The Fun Factor Stress Management Formula

Step One: Laugh with Yourself

My first stress management Fun Commandment is: Laugh with Yourself. This Commandment is not about humiliation or self-denigration, it is the ultimate in self-respect because it teaches you to appreciate your “perfect imperfection” and to find gentle amusement in your foibles. And, when it comes to stress, there is plenty of amusement to be found which will greatly aid your stress management.

Here’s the first amusing thing about your stress: you can’t live without it, yet too much is bad for your health. Like many of the essential things in life: we need a certain amount of stress to survive, yet too much can kill us. For example, we die if we are without water for more than a few days; but submerge us in water and we die a lot sooner.

It is said that we can die from boredom. I don’t think there is any scientific evidence for that theory, but one thing is certain – stress relieves boredom. Ending boredom, indeed, could be considered a form of stress relief. An amusing paradox, no doubt!

Without stress, also, we might not eat. Hunger is a form of stress our body needs occasionally to remind us we need food. Stress causes the adrenal glands to work. Athletes would not perform at their best without stress-induced adrenaline. Every activity causes a certain amount of stress. So does inactivity. In fact, to be completely stress-free we would have to be dead – not a highly recommended stress management technique!

The idea that stress is a killer is exaggerated, which is also humorous. Too much stress can be a killer, and it is against too much stress in our lives that we need to guard. Fortunately we are equipped with the finest possible stress management mechanism: the natural medicine of humor and the ability to laugh with ourselves. Far better and safer than Valium, it is our built-in stress management system.

As you learn to laugh with yourself you will become like an athlete – who can have fun running the mile or the marathon and still turn in peak performance. In fact, since too much seriousness can tighten muscles through negative tension, laughing with yourself may even enhance performance. This Fun Commandment works wonderfully on many levels.

Step Two: Choose To Motivate Yourself With Fun, Not Fear

Step two in my Fun Factor stress management formula is one of my newest Fun Commandments. Motivating yourself with fun rather than fear is a crucial step that allows your commitment to laugh with yourself to fully impact your healthy stress management.

This brings us to the only true choice you have in life. Will you be inspired by fear or by fun? One choice is all we have for our health, wellness, and fitness – fear or fun. It all boils down to that. It is your responsibility to choose one or the other.

The question is, which is the responsible choice? Which of the two is a powerful medicine, which will give you health and motivate you greater success, sustaining you over time? The natural medicine of humor gives us the answer.

There is no doubt that both fear and fun are potent stimulants to behavior over the short run. So the question becomes one of sustainability. Will fear or fun best help us sustain our excellence over time? Which of the two is a powerful alternative medicine that you can learn to use for your greatest health, wellness, and fitness? (That’s a trick question, by the way)

Let’s Encounter A Man-Eating Bear!

The fear of being eaten alive motivates us to run as fast and as far as we can when chased by a bear. There is little to no fun in that experience. It is purely fearful, but the energy it provides maximizes the possibilities of sustaining life for that moment. For the moment, in such a life-threatening situation, fear seems to be an efficient and productive choice. Though full of stress, it relieves us of the immediate threat!

But let’s take it a step further. Having survived my wilderness encounter with the bear, I return to my home in an urban environment. The next morning, as I start out for work, I run desperately for the car, quickly jumping inside and locking the doors.

When I arrive at my workplace, I race into the building. Before I get down to work I suspend my bagged lunch high above my desk, roping it to the light standards. I insist upon all doors being locked and secured. When asked why, I answer, “I’m merely doing what got me through my wilderness experience over the weekend. I don’t want to be eaten by a bear.”

You’d think I was over-reacting just a wee bit, and you’d be right. You could say that my stress relieves my anxiety, but my anxiety is based on a lie conjured and sustained by my fear! Not exactly the greatest of stress management techniques.

The Three Biggest Dangers Of Our “Run-From-a-Bear” Stress Management Techniques

1. We live our lives as though every day was an emergency; as though a bear is chasing us all the time. This is unfortunate for three reasons:

2. We now know that such a constant state of “wariness” or agitation breaks down our coping mechanisms over time. It is impossible to sustain the fear-based behavior without breaking down or burning out.

3. Of all the stress management techniques, this is the absolute worst to choose because it only increases our stress! It reduces the effectiveness of humor’s natural medicine to zilch.

A more pernicious error occurs. We begin to think that the avoidance of whatever we fear is the same as having fun. Joy becomes synonymous with the avoidance of fear.
The Absence Of One Thing Does Not Indicate The Presence Of Its Opposite

If this sounds ridiculous to you let me put it in more familiar terms that have become acceptable where your health is concerned. With rare exception we have agreed in our society that health is synonymous with absence of symptoms. Do you really believe your health is merely the absence of your symptoms? My Fun Factor prescription teaches you that, not only is the absence of symptoms not synonymous with health, but also that you never have to fall for that lie again.

You never have to settle for second-rate health! You can use your powerful natural medicine of humor to stave off seriousness’ debilitating effects.

Therefore the issue becomes balance. Fun balances fear. The ultimate question is not, “Are you without fear?”, but “Is your fun in balance with your fear?” If you’re not 100% certain of a “yes” response to the later question, then you need to STOP – RIGHT NOW – and take the last step in my Fun Factor stress management formula to ensure that your life is as healthful as it could be.

Step Three: Tell the Truth

The final step in your Fun Factor stress management formula is the Fun Commandment, Tell the Truth. This Commandment refers more to self-integrity than it does “cash register” honesty. Getting in the habit of telling yourself the truth will cement humor’s powerfully positive effect over your stress. Your stress management becomes second nature when you are honest with yourself each day, because you can then immediately, easily, and simply apply steps one and two to your life.

Telling yourself the truth, for our purposes, focuses on knowing when your stress levels are rising. As we noted in step two, everyday activities normally produce a baseline level of stress and this stress is usually alleviated by your daily routines (for example, when you experience the stress of hunger, you eat). Step three in my Fun Factor stress management formula teaches you to recognize the signs of unhealthy stress and take corrective action immediately.

Here are some simple stress management techniques to apply when your self-honesty reveals rising stress levels:

1. Start your day off by singing in the shower at the top of your voice. Make up your own song that incorporates the idea that you are embarking upon a glorious day in which great things are going top happen to you. Can’t sing? Good! Can’t rhyme? Who cares? The words are for you alone. This is not a contest. Be as off-key as you need to be…unless you are Placido Domingo.

The important thing is to be loud (your inner ear has to hear it), upbeat and convincing. The subconscious believes what it is told. Start your day by telling it that it will be a great day and you will be more than halfway to producing exactly that result. Think of your singing not as singing but as a stress relief game played before stress has a chance to rear its ugly head.

2. Travel to work alone, along the same boring route every day? Make up a game to play as you look out the window of your car, bus or train. For example, how many dogs will you see on the way to work?

Try to guess before you set out and see how close you are when you arrive. Reward yourself every time you guess correctly to within a certain number. Drivers: limit yourself to dogs (or green elephants) you see through the windshield only. This game does not work well in subways; there are no green elephants in subways.

3. Have a routine job? One that you find boring? Does it produce stress symptoms, such as drumming your fingers or tapping your toes? Perhaps you need to introduce fun into your workday.

For example, if your job is to make identical widgets each day, how could you do something different to give variety to what otherwise could become a monotonous task? Could you, for example, place each new widget relative to the others so that together they make a pattern, or spell the name of your sweetheart? How many do you make an hour? Could you make one more than that the next hour, safely and with the same excellent quality? Make a stress-relieving game out of your work and it will feel less like work and more like fun.

4. Smile. You feel stressed? Smile. It is a simple activity, so simple that even infants can do it. Just for kicks, count how many times you smile in an hour. None, you say? Then this stress relief game is even easier for you, and more important than it is for those who smile all the time. (No wonder they don’t feel the same degree of stress that you do!)

Your smile doesn’t need to be a broad grin that suggests to those around you that they need to call the men in white coats. But it should be more than a mental smirk; your facial muscles should be aware that they are smiling.

It is possible simply to paste a smile on your face without any reason other than you want to smile. After a while, your subconscious will take over, lighten your mood, and the smiles will come easily and naturally.

It’s best, if possible, to think of something that can give you a genuine smile, a reason you can talk about if called upon to do so. Each of us, no matter how depressed, has something in life to celebrate.

5. Recognize that stress is a choice. We can accept it and put up with it, and the damage it can cause our bodies. We can avoid it, but that could be a difficult choice; especially if it means quitting the only job we know in a tough job market. That choice might easily create worse stresses. Or we can deal with it and defeat it.

That is not as difficult as it might sound if you make up your mind to use my Fun Factor prescription in everything you do. That doesn’t necessarily mean, laughing, joking and playing the village idiot – though all those activities can relieve stress too. You can have fun without ever cracking a single joke.

A game of tickle with the children or grandchildren can be fun and bring energetic screams of delight from them and you. Touch football or, for the less energetic, lawn darts or horseshoes can be fun. For others, it’s a walk, socializing with friends, admiring the beauty around us or following a hobby – especially if it is an engrossing one.

Attitude Is Everything

The key is to recognize stress symptoms when they occur, recognize what’s causing them, and use my Fun Factor formula for healthy stress management. Since fun is the best natural stress reliever known, it makes good sense to incorporate my Fun Factor stress management formula into your daily life.

But don’t get obsessive about it. Don’t be stressed by removing stress. Be content with removing some of your stress, and with taking the edge off it so that you function as a healthier, happier and more productive humor being. After all, perfectionism produces stress.

Shelly, by the way, has learned to take herself much more lightly now and she does not suffer nearly as many stress symptoms. The paradox she loves is that taking herself less seriously actually permits her to take her responsibilities more seriously than ever before! The natural medicine of humorr, supercharged by my Fun Factor prescription, has allowed Shelly to easily and simply manage her stress and enjoy a life others have started to envy.

Just as Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus disproved Ptolemy’s earth-centered universe in the 16th century, so the natural medicine of humor disproves that you must suffer from being the center of your universe. Remove yourself from the pressure and stress of a life where everything revolves around you…start using my Fun Factor stress management formula, and the rest of my Fun Commandments, today!

Clifford Kuhn, M.D., America’s Laugh Doctor, teaches people and organizations to be more healthy and successful through the use of fun and humor. A psychiatrist, and the former associate chairperson of the University of Louisville’s renowned Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Kuhn now dispenses his prescription for turbo-charging your health, success, and vitality from http://www.natural-humor-medicine.com/EZA4 On his website you will find tons of fun, free ways for you to maximize your sense of humor, and enjoy a life others will envy.

Author: Cliff Kuhn, M.D.
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
Anti-Cancer

Can 10 Cent Earplugs Improve Your Learning and Memory?

sonar learningCan Ten-Cent Earplugs Improve Your Learning, Memory & Reading Speed?

NASA’s Astronauts could not use their pens in space so they spent ten million to invent a special ink-flow device. The Russian space cadets had no dinero, and solved the same problem by writing with pencils, which worked like a charm.

Earplugs are not exactly high-tech, but work instantly to eliminate unwanted noise. The first earplugs written about were wax and used by the crew of Odysseus to ward off the Siren’s Song and a shipwreck. How old? 8th Century, B.C.

Who cares?

Have you even been studying in your school library and lost your attention and concentration because some dumbos at the next table were whispering, giggling, and dropping books? Ten Cent earplugs tune them out, and your mind inward.

Distractions

Students and career executives suffer from noise, movement of people, and constant interruptions. Fact: we are interrupted at work – an average of once every three-minutes. Fifty-percent of the time we interrupt ourselves by responding to emails the telephone, and answering questions.

Our mind get used to being diverted from focused attention and deep concentration.

Distractions break our train of thought, and actually reduce our personal efficiency. Some research concludes habitual distractions cause a drop in our IQ up to 10%. Get this: Every time your mind is diverted from your present task, it takes up to 10 minutes to get back into your original Zone (flow).

It is called Regressions, is habit-forming and dumbs us down.

Soon you become a subconscious procrastinator, and lose up to 25% of your Attention-Span. Paying attention to everything is the same as concentrating on nothing. What is a practical, easy and cheap solution? Maybe earplugs?

Mind Wandering

Are you aware of how often your mind wanders off your target of concentration? Neither was I. The researchers at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, headed by Dr. Michael Kane, concluded college students are distracted and lose their attention span, one-third (33%) of the time they spend in school.

They are thinking off-the-subject at class lectures, while reading, and when studying for exams. Students suffering mind-wandering up to 90 minutes in the morning, and another 90 minutes in the afternoon of a six-hour day. What are they wandering about? Sex is number one, fear of the future, and personal relationships top the bill.

So what?

Distractions lead to chronic stress, which affect our long-term memory, inability to comprehend complex text, and loss of self-esteem. Many complain of a negative state-of-mind, bad mood, and loss of productivity. What about our competence?

Stress and distractions cause your executive competence to drop up to 15%, enough to lose out on your next promotion. Students at college complain of fade-out on exams, anxiety and the agony of Information-Overload.

Stopples a/k/a Earplugs

Earplugs immediately improve your attention span and concentration up to 33%. That is a noticeable change from distracted thinking to being in your Zone focused on learning, remembering, and being creative.

Earplugs have the power to turn your mind inward instead of permitting you to listen and react to random sounds in your environment. Ideas appear to reward those wearing stopples (plugs) and avoid folks who are easily distracted

You have heard that one picture is worth a thousand words; we suggest that one well thought out Idea, is worth a thousand pictures. Implement good ideas.

Secret Revealed

White Noise. When you slip on your plugs you do not get sleepy and disoriented, but move into deep Beta consciousness, between 7-14 cycles per second. Your brain rhythms vibrate to screen out noise, and to trigger (cue) your PFC (Prefrontal Cortex) for analysis, synthesis (combining ideas), and connectedness.

White Noise

Technically White Noise is a frequency produced by electronics. It is a combination of all the tones into one. Wait! White Light takes all the color frequencies (rainbow) and combines them into one. Same idea.

Earplugs close the auditory canal and leave us with our personal Zone of silence. Best of all, there are no side effects from using plugs up to 16 hours daily. Just wash them, remove the wax from your ears, and concentrate.

Buy Them Now

We recommend silicone or foam plugs that you mold to fit your ears. Polyurethane stopples cost a dollar for a pair, and have an unlimited life. The biggest problem is losing them after a good night’s sleep, or a study session.

Variety

There are electronic earplugs that produce a calming sound (anti-stress) costing $187.95 called SleepEze. No comment. We recommend disposable plugs that will not make us cry when we lose one. PVC Foam come in a six-pack and cost just $2.95.

Factories buy them in volume from the Earplug Super Store for about 10-25 cents each. They reduce chronic stress from ambient factory noise.

Reading Research

We have tested over one thousand students and executives – half speed reading text wearing plugs, and half unaided. After 21 days of practice, the students using earplugs improved their reading speed an average of 100 words per minute, and added up to 12% in comprehension.

Non-users showed 40 words per minute increase in reading, and no improvement in comprehension. They were distracted by their surroundings.

Close Your Door

Seeing other folks moving around is a visual distraction, one that breaks up your attention and comprehension. Music – Classical to Elevator tunes – cause us to lose our mental focus. Group study works only when everyone agrees to be silent and productive until the end of the session.

Our Mirror Neurons cause us to want to imitate the activities of those we watch. It is a bio-distraction. Learning requires silence and the lack of activity around you. Google: University of Calgary, Dr. Tim Welsh, and Journal of Human Movement Science, 12.2007. Earplugs are a great investment in your personal growth.

Endwords

“If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what then, is an empty desk a sign?” Albert Einstein

Would you have a major competitive advantage if you could read-and-remember three (3) books, articles and reports in the time your peers can hardly finish one? Ask us how because knowledge is king. Call us now.

copyright © 2009 H. Bernard Wechsler

Author of Speed Learning for Professionals, published by Barron’s; partner of Evelyn Wood, creator of speed reading, graduating two million, including the White House staffs of four U.S. Presidents.

Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and fortune Magazine for major articles.

http://www.speedlearning.org
hbw@speedlearning.org

Author: H. Bernard Wechsler
Article Source: EzineArticles.com