Your Only Job: Be Kind. Be Present. Be Clear.

Your Only Job: Be Kind. Be Present. Be Clear.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-blum/your-only-job-be-kind-be-_b_6213824.html

THE BLOG

Your Only Job: Be Kind. Be Present. Be Clear.
Andrew Blum

11/25/2014

As a management consultant, I get asked for advice all the time on a wide range of topics: How can I best lead a high stakes meeting? How do I handle a difficult conversation? How do I more effectively manage a strategic transition at our company? (Note: These are smart people asking smart questions.) Occasionally the subject will veer into personal territory, with many people asking questions about how to deal with their children, partner or friends differently. What I’ve noticed recently is that more and more I’ve been giving everyone the same advice. Because in truth, there is only ONE answer: Be Kind. Be Present. Be Clear. Your job – always, forever, and in every situation is simply to be kind, present, and clear.

This insight has only revealed itself after twenty years in this business of paying close attention to the habits of extraordinary leaders, multiple hours spent in rigorous self-examination, and countless workshops on personal and leadership effectiveness. My discovery is that when I was kind, present and clear, I took pride in how I did my job – regardless of the outcome. And the leaders I’ve worked with who are kind, present and clear always have the best outcomes in the long run.

This is easier to say, and harder to do, so let me offer some thoughts on how…

How to be Kind. This should be the easiest to accomplish – but it’s important to remember that kindness is a two-way street. It’s not enough to only express compassion for others; you must also practice it with yourself. Just slow down to notice in a given situation where you are feeling anxiety, how unkind or even violent your internal dialogue is with you. Until this internal dialogue is full of forgiveness, it will be impossible to treat others kindly. When we make this shift to become kind with ourselves, we become that much more likely to treat everyone else (colleagues, competitors, and even the guy who cuts us off on the drive home) more gently, respectfully and with a sense of decency. A good rule to help you be kind with others is to presume innocence. While people do all manner of things that they could be criticized for, they rarely act with malice or negative intent, but rather out of unconsciousness.

How to be Present. This one may be a little harder to implement, if only because we are loaded up – and weighed down – with so many distractions today. From cell phones to computers to overly chatty colleagues, there is no shortage of obstacles standing between us and our ability to remain truly mindful and connected in each and every moment. For me, being present means being 100 percent invested in, and available for, what is actually happening right now, not what you’re afraid might happen tomorrow, or reacting to what did happen yesterday. The key to staying present is to use all of your five senses with absolute intent in the moment. When your brain is occupied taking in all of the data available through the senses, it is less likely to drift into negative or fear-based future and past wanderings that distract from the moment. Perhaps most importantly, through that kind of fierce presence, you actually have access to all of the data that’s available at any given moment and are therefore more likely to have high-quality insights and make high-quality decisions.

How to be Clear. Clarity is the most important element of business leadership, and perhaps also the most challenging to achieve. Being clear means being truthful, concise and communicating exactly what you believe – with specificity and openness. One reason being clear can be hard for senior executives is that we are often hedging on multiple dimensions at the same time and are unclear about exactly what we want to say and exactly what we want people to do or understand. Sometimes we think clarity will hurt or scare people. But of course we only cause greater pain when we hesitate or try and cushion the projected blow by giving soft, muddy instructions. Or hazy outlines of what we really mean. On the flip side, when presented with an unclear task, the people we lead may attempt to figure it out as they go along rather than admit they don’t fully grasp the assignment. The result? Lack of clarity causes a chain of pain in an organization from top to bottom. When we respect people enough to be clear with them – whether assigning a difficult task, or offering critical feedback – we’re not only giving them a better chance to succeed, we’re also demonstrating our faith and confidence that they can handle the task (or feedback) at hand. And what do you think happens to an employee’s job performance when they feel their bosses trust them enough to tell them the truth?

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In my experience, the three ingredients above are equally necessary for doing your job well. Just as sugar, flour and eggs do not make a cake on their own, so kindness, presence, and clarity must be blended and baked together to experience maximum flavor… and benefit. Being kind alone may lead to a nice dialogue, but not one that inspires action. Likewise, being clear without kindness can feel harsh and disruptive.

I have also found that there is a natural flow and symbiosis between the three ingredients. When we treat people kindly, we know intuitively that it is more compassionate to remain present for them (and with them); and sure enough, without needing to force it or think about it, the natural outcome of being kind and present with others is clarity.

‘Kind, Present, and Clear’ isn’t just a tool or a method; it’s a mantra to live by – with your boss, kids, a difficult employee, or with yourself. That’s why being kind, present, and clear will always be your only job.

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guidance

“If you guide through anything other than your own example, it crosses over into the category of control. If you say, “This is what I’ve found that works for me, try it if you like.” That’s guidance. If you say, “This is what I’ve found works for me, and if you don’t follow it, you’re in trouble,” that’s control.

—-Abraham”

Nine Powerful Lessons We Can Learn From Our Mistakes

Don’t Fear Failure: Nine Powerful Lessons We Can Learn From Our Mistakes
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisabeth-saunders-medlock-phd/dont-fear-failure-9-powerful-lessons-we-can-learn-from-our-mistakes_b_6058380.html

9 Powerful Lessons We Can Learn From Our Mistakes

Lisabeth Saunders Medlock, Ph.D. 11/04/2014

We have all heard the sayings “To err is human” and “you live and you learn”. We make mistakes every day, large and small, failures and faux pas. But failure and mistakes still don’t feel like an awesome learning opportunity. I know it is my shortcomings that make me unique and that I should embrace the stumbles and screw ups. But it is a challenge for me and a challenge for many of us. We live and act in ways to prevent mistakes — not taking risks, expanding our comfort zones or jumping outside the boxes we hide in. But our mistakes and failures are gifts, gems, guideposts in our learning and growth as people. So embrace failures, mistakes, screw ups and shortcomings because they not only make us uniquely who we are, but also teach us powerful lessons like the nine below.

1. Mistakes teach us to clarify what we really want and how we want to live. The word mistake derives meaning only by comparison to what we desire, what we see as success. Noticing and admitting our mistakes helps us get in touch with our commitments–what we really want to be, do, and have. Mistakes wake us up and focus our attention like a flashing sign that says “fix this”. The urgency created causes us to focus on issues or problems that make us feel off track. Working on possible solutions, redefining what we want or expect, or reexamining our values or goals can lead us to more clarity about our path.

2. Mistakes teach us to accept ourselves and that we can be flawed and be loved. We can fully appreciate ourselves, even while acknowledging our screw ups. It is possible to laugh at our mistakes and then work hard to correct them. Most of us have a long history of putting ourselves down when we blow it. But it’s a self-defeating habit we must break so that we can start appreciating ourselves, mistakes and all. People who love and care about us will stick with us through all our flaws and floundering. Our not so perfectness is what makes us unique and we are loved for it. So we should give ourselves a break.

3. Mistakes teach us to accept our fallibility and face our fear. Sometimes even our best efforts just don’t work out. We might do everything possible to achieve a certain result and still fail, again and again. When this happens we can admit that we’re stuck. Facing mistakes often takes us straight to the heart of our fears. And when we experience and face those fears, they can disappear. When we are stuck and admit that we can’t do it alone it sends a signal and opens the door for help to show up. People, resources, and solutions will appear, especially when we ask for help.

4. Mistakes teach us about ourselves and how to tell our truth. It is natural to want to cover up our mistakes or be embarrassed by them. To feel like we wish we had a handy mistake eraser or remover. But being honest about our failures and limitations offer us opportunities to practice telling the truth. Admitting the truth allows us to expand our knowledge of self-to know who we are. And thus, increases our capacity to change. It is like holding up a mirror to ourselves and really seeing. When we tell others about our mistakes, to let them really see us, it allows us to let go of the embarrassment, shame and blame we may feel so that we can concentrate on learning and growing.

5. Mistakes teach us, through analysis and feedback, about what works, and what doesn’t. It’s a reality check. When we experience the consequences of mistakes, we get a clear message about which of our efforts are working–and which are not. The feedback we get from our mistakes can be the most specific, pointed, and powerful feedback we’ll ever get. Many times we can trace mistakes to recurring patterns of belief or behavior–things we do, say, and think over and over again. When we spot and change a habit we may find that other areas of our lives change for the better. One way to gain maximum benefit from mistakes is to examine them through the filter of powerful questions: “How can I use this experience?”; “What will I do differently next time?”; “How will I be different in the future?” Questions like these lead to an inquiry that invites solutions.

6. Mistakes teach us to take responsibility. Sometimes our instinctive reaction to a mistake is to shift blame elsewhere: “It’s not my fault.” “You never told me about that,” Or the classic “I don’t see how this has anything to do with me.” It is more empowering to look for our role in the mistake. Taking responsibility for a failure may not be fun. But the act of doing so points out what we can do differently next time. Investigating our role reminds us that our choices and our actions have a huge influence on the quality of our lives.

7. Mistakes teach us about integrity. Mistakes often happen when we break promises, over-commit, agree to avoid conflict or fail to listen fully. Big mistakes often start as small errors. Over time, tiny choices that run counter to our values or goals can accumulate into breakdowns. Even our smallest choices have power, so it is important we pay attention to the integrity of the choices we make every day. Mistakes can be a signal that our words and our actions are out of alignment. In that case, we can re-examine our intentions, reconsider our commitments, and adjust our actions.

8. Mistakes teach us to engage in our lives — to live fully. We are not our behaviors and we are more than our mistakes. We can remember that our history does not have to predict our future. And then remember that we have an opportunity to go all in–to participate fully. Many people, when faced with a big mistake, begin to pull back–to retreat. Instead, we can use the failure as evidence that we are growing, risking, and stretching to meet our potential. Mistakes help us to remember that we are not content to play it safe. That we understand that without risk there is sometimes no reward.

9. Mistakes allow us to inspire others. They may be inspired when we are courageous and make our private struggles public. They might decide to live differently. When a lifelong smoker who’s dying of emphysema talks about the value of being smoke-free, we’re apt to listen. The same kind of contribution also occurs when we speak candidly about less serious mistakes. As parents we can teach our children that it is OK to fail because we are willing to let them see our failures and mistakes. This gives us opportunities to talk through what we could or would have done differently. These are powerful lessons for those around us.

10 Lies We Need to Stop Telling Ourselves

10 Lies We Need to Stop Telling Ourselves
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kimanzi-constable/10-lies-we-need-to-stop-telling-ourselves_b_6051838.html

10 Lies We Need To Stop Telling Ourselves
Kimanzi Constable 11/08/2014

For too many of us, we want to be the “rock”; we don’t want anyone to think we have any weakness. This means we keep our problems and struggles to ourselves, we even keep them from those we love.

We want to be strong, but at the end of the day we’re human. We go through highs and lows, and struggle with self-limiting beliefs. We tell ourselves things that hold us back from being the best men and women we could be.

These things may not be verbalized, we might not even be aware of them, but there are 10 things we have to stop telling ourselves if we want to live an amazing life.

These self-limiting beliefs are affecting us one way or another. They’re paralyzing us and keeping too many of us from even thinking about taking action on our dream lifestyle.

They’re keeping us in toxic relationships, they’re keeping us at a jobs we hate, they’re keeping us from moving to somewhere better, they’re keeping us from being the best us we can be.

We have listened to them for far too long. It’s time to get real with ourselves and stop settling in life. We only get one life to live and these self-limiting beliefs are keeping us from truly living it. Here are 10 lies that hold us back in life.

1. I’m not good looking

You may not look like a celebrity, but you don’t have to. You’re good-looking, and you need to know that. Confidence is an attractive quality, and there is someone out there for all of us. Don’t listen to anyone that will tell you otherwise, they’re wrong.

2. I’m not smart enough

Sure, not all of us are Albert Einstein, but we don’t have to be. You may not be book smart, but you might be street smart. You may not have gone to Harvard, but you did get a degree from a state college.

You may not have even gone to college, but as long as you commit to always learn, you are as smart as you need to be. Brendon Burchard says, “An expert is a student first.” Always continue to learn and better educate yourself about the things that you need to know.

3. I can’t beat my fear

The fear of failure keeps too many of us feeling stuck. We’re afraid to even try because we think we’ll fail. Fear is a liar and a dream killer. You can’t let it win.

C JoyBell C made a great observation about fear: “Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”>

4. I live a good enough life

You could go through life taking the safe road every time, but how boring is that? Life is too short to settle, and you only get one chance to live it. Don’t let fear keep you from true freedom and living life on your terms.

I realize this is just a line from the movie Braveheart, but the words are true and powerful: “Why? Why is that impossible? You’re so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshanks’ table that you’ve missed your God-given right to something better.”

5. What other people are saying is true

There are negative people that will try to hold you back in life. They could be outright haters or just people that aren’t comfortable with their life. These people will point out the 100 reasons why you’ll never succeed. Don’t listen to them, cut them out of your life if you have to.

6. It’s too hard so I won’t try

Making big changes isn’t easy, but once you reach your goal, it will be totally worth the struggle. Change is hard, just like life, there’s no easy road for most of us, but that’s ok. The struggle teaches us to appreciate what we have once we get it. Even though it’s hard, try anyway, that’s how you learn and grow.

7. I don’t deserve happiness

Difficult life situations, or decisions we’ve made in the past may have planted the seed in our mind that we don’t deserve happiness. That is a straight up lie. No matter who you are, or where you’re at in life right now, you deserve to be happy. More than that, you can be happy if you choose to be.

8. It will never work out for me

It may seem like everyone around you has an amazing life with no problems, that’s just a front. We all have struggles, and it often feels like nothing will ever work out how we want it to. That’s just a feeling that can be overcome with a mindset shift.

9. No one understands what I’m going through

What you’re going through may be difficult, but I guarantee there’s some other person going through the same thing. It’s hard for us to open up and communicate, but keeping all those emotions bottled up inside could negatively affect your health. There is someone who understands, and there are great benefits in getting through it together.

10. This is as good as it gets

The quality of your life comes down to what you decide you want it to be. If you decide it will never get better, you won’t take the necessary steps to make it better. Stop letting self-limiting beliefs keep you stuck in a life you hate. Decide that today is the day you’re going to reclaim your life.

Don’t listen to doubt, fear, or the negative voices of others. Make the decision that even though it’s not easy, you’re going to do what it takes to create an amazing life. You’re going to live a life most people only dream of.

Don’t get me wrong, truly living an amazing life is hard work. It’s takes time and more perseverance than we think we have in us, but nothing is impossible.

Stop letting self-limiting beliefs keep you stuck in a life you hate. Decide that today is the day you’re going to reclaim your life. Make that decision, but do something different, take action.

Are you letting self-limiting beliefs hold you back?

This article originally appeared on the Good Men Project.