Posts Tagged ‘Personality Development’

Amazing video, make to sure to watch this without fail!

Video 1 – An Adventure Video to 100x Your Life

 

Planning a Workshop
Organizing and Running a Successful Event

Running a great workshop that everyone will remember

Anyone who has ever planned a workshop will tell you that it’s a big job. And planning a good one? Well, that takes organization, focus, and a lot of creativity.

Running a workshop is useful whenever you need a group of people to DO something together, rather than just report on what they’ve done. Examples include bringing experts together to solve complex problems, designing sophisticated processes that need the input of many different people, and making decisions that take into account the views of different individuals and groups.

Some people HATE going to workshops. Done wrong, they can be a huge waste of time and money. However, if they’re planned well, they can be incredibly valuable for everyone involved. This is why advance planning is critical.

So how do you prepare for a workshop that will be not only relevant and productive, but memorable as well?

Before the Workshop

Follow these steps to make sure your workshop is a valuable experience for everyone:

  • Step 1: Define the Goals

    Every workshop must have a goal. Do you need to improve your company’s hiring procedures? Do you want to teach managers how to be better organizers? Do you need to do some team building with a newly formed team?

    Many workshops are a waste of time because there’s no clear goal kept at the center of the discussion. Without this clear goal, there’s really no point in getting people together.

  • Step 2: Decide Who Will Attend

    Knowing who will attend directly relates to your objective. For example, if your workshop’s goal is to develop a detailed solution to a problem, then you probably want 10 or fewer key attendees. If your goal is centered on education, then you might be happy with a much larger group, which divides into smaller groups for discussion.

    Make a list of the people who need to be there. Try to be as specific as possible, but leave a few openings for last-minute additions.

  • Step 3: Choose the Right Location

    If you have 10 attendees, then the conference room down the hall will probably be just fine. But if you have 50 people, you may have to find an outside location that’s large enough.

    Think about the logistics and practical details of your workshop when you choose the location. Will everyone be able to see your visual aids? If you need a certain technology, like teleconferencing, will the location support it? Are there appropriate facilities for breakout sessions? Will everyone be able to reach the venue? Will you need to organize accommodation for people who are coming from a long way away? And what catering facilities does the venue provide?

  • Step 4: Create an Agenda

    Now that you know your primary objective and who will attend, you can start to develop an outline of how you’ll achieve the workshop’s goal.

    • Main points – Create a list of main points to discuss, and then break down each larger point into details that you want to communicate to your audience.
    • Visual aids – List the visual aids, if any, you’ll use for each point. If you need technical support, this helps the people providing it to determine where they need to focus their efforts.
    • Discussions and activities – Take time to list exactly which group discussions and activities you’ll have at which point in the workshop. How much time will you allow for each exercise? Make sure your activities are appropriate for the size of the group, and ensure that your venue has the resources (for example, seminar rooms) needed to run sessions.

    Remember, the more detailed your plan, the more you’ll ensure that your workshop will run to schedule – and be successful.

  • Step 5: Develop a Follow-up Plan

    The only way to find out if your workshop was a success is to have an effective follow-up plan. Create a questionnaire to give to all participants at the end of the event, and give them plenty of opportunity to share their opinions on how well it went. Although this can be a bit scary, it’s the only way to learn – and improve – for the next time.

    It’s also important to have a plan to communicate the decisions that were reached during the workshop. Will you send out a mass email to everyone with the details? Will you put it on your company’s intranet? People need to know that their hard work actually resulted in a decision or action, so keep them informed about what’s happening after the workshop has ended.

During the Workshop – Getting People Involved

Once you have a solid advance plan, figure out how to bring some excitement into your event. You know the topics that you want to cover, but how will you make the information fun and memorable for your team?

Getting everyone involved is key to a successful workshop. If you stand up and talk for three hours, you’re just giving a lecture – not facilitating a workshop. Everyone needs to participate.

Creating group exercises is different for each workshop. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Many people are nervous about speaking up in an unfamiliar group. If you plan group exercises, keep the size of each group small, so people are more comfortable talking and interacting.
  • Mix up different types of people in each group. For example, if several departments participate in your workshop, don’t put members of the same department in their own group. By encouraging people to interact with other departments, they can learn to look at things from different perspectives.
  • Determine how you’ll record the ideas from each group. Will participants shout them out while you write them down? Or will they write down their own ideas and then give them to you? This is a small, but important, detail that’s often overlooked.
  • If you have five or fewer groups, spend time allowing the entire team to evaluate the ideas from each smaller group. This is a great way to narrow down your list of ideas, and let the good ones really shine.

Remember, spend as much time as you can creating fun and interesting group exercises. These will likely keep everyone interested and participating.

Overall Workshop Tips

Here are some more ideas for running a successful workshop:

  • If you plan the meeting, you may want to facilitate it as well. Learn how to do this effectively in The Role of a Facilitator.

  • Start the meeting with a few icebreakers to get everyone relaxed and comfortable.

  • If your workshop’s goal is to address a difficult or sensitive topic, it’s especially important to get the group comfortable before starting. One way is to tell a story that’s loosely related to the topic before you begin discussing the difficult issue.

  • Sometimes, not everyone has to stay for the entire workshop. For instance, the CEO might be too busy to attend the whole session. Identify which sections your busiest participants need to attend, and suggest in advance when they might want to arrive and leave. They’ll appreciate your consideration.

  • Where possible, avoid holding your workshop after lunch, between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon. For many people, this is their slowest, most unproductive time of day. Your group will probably be more energetic if you schedule the event in the morning or late afternoon. (If you have to run the workshop in the early afternoon, make sure there’s plenty of strong coffee available!)

  • If your workshop’s ultimate goal is to make a decision about something, the more people who attend, the less likely it is that you’ll reach a decision. Here, try to keep the number of people attending to a minimum (for example, by issuing minutes after the event to people who are just interested.) It’s also important to become familiar with the different strategies for team decision making. See our article on Organizing Team Decision Making to learn more.

Key points:

There’s no doubt that planning a great workshop is a lot of work. But if you spend time thinking through the details, everyone will get full value from the event.

The workshop’s goal should be at the center of all your planning. Creative exercises will get everyone relaxed and involved, and don’t forget to follow up afterward: Although it can be scary to hear what people really thought of all your hard work, it’s the only way you’ll improve your next event.

Leo Baubauta is back again with another interesting book, focus.

It’s about finding simplicity in this Age of Distraction.

It’s about finding the focus you need to create, to work on what’s important, to reflect, to find peace.

And it comes in two flavors: free and premium.

The Free Version

The free version is simple: it’s 27 chapters that you can download for free, without having to give an email address or do anything else. It’s uncopyrighted, and you can share it with as many people as you like.

Download free version here (a pdf download).

Read the table of contents.

Again, you can share this ebook freely, so feel free to post it on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or email.

The Premium Version

The full version of focus is basically a self-taught digital course on focus, from a wide range of experts.

It contains:

1. All 27 chapters of the free ebook in digital format. Along with a crapload of extra material …

2. How-to videos
Going into more depth on focus-related topics:

  • How to Single-task
  • Beating the Fears of Disconnecting
  • How to Find Stillness & Disconnect
  • Focus & Health, Part 1: eating healthy and getting active
  • Focus & Health, Part 2: sleep and stress

3. Audio interviews with experts

4. Bonus chapters from Leo

  • creativity and practicing deep focus
  • finding stillness and reflection
  • how to start changes on a broader level

5. Bonus chapters from other writers

6. Bonus PDF guides

  • How to create new habits
  • Quick-start decluttering guide
  • Focused email guide

This full version comes at a fairly low price
considering all that’s offered: $34.95.

Buy the book

The Kindle Version

The book is now available in the Kindle Store. The $8.99 price for this version includes the full book, including bonus chapters, but does not include the videos, audio interviews and other bonus files included in the premium version.

Also note that the premium version now includes the book in epub format, which can be uploaded to your Kindle, iPad, or other ebook reader.

The Guarantee

The premium version (that you buy from me) has a 100% money-back guarantee, if you’re not fully happy with the book. No questions asked. Note: This DOESN’T apply to the version you buy in the Kindle store, as you’re buying from Amazon.

I don’t want any unhappy readers — if you want your money back for any reason, you’ll get it, and you don’t need to say why. Here’s how.

No Affiliates

Unlike my other books, there will be no affiliate sales for this book. While I would love for people to review and recommend my book, I want it to come from the heart — because they think it’s a good book for others to read — not out of financial motivation. And while I think that’s mostly true of affiliates of ebooks, there’s always a mixing of the motivations.

Read more.

However, you’re free to review the book, give away the free version on your blog, or interview me (just email zenhabits at gmail, with “interview leo” in the subject line).

Questions & Answers

Q: Can I get it on Kindle, iBooks, or other ebook format?
A: Yes! You can buy the full book in the Kindle Store for $8.99, although this doesn’t include the video, audio and other bonus files in the premium version. The premium version now includes the book in epub format, so you can upload this file to your iPad, Sony ebook reader, Kindle or other ebook device.

Q: What about a print version?
A: That is also coming soon. It’ll be the full version of the book, but without the bonus digital files. I’m self-publishing it. No date on the release of this, but I’ll let you know.

Q: Can I see the table of contents?
A: Of course! It’s here.

Q: I just bought the book but don’t know what to do next. How do I get it?
A: You should receive an email (the one you used to pay for the book) that contains a download link. You only get 5 attempts to download the file, so don’t click on it until you’re at the computer you want to download the book to. The download should contain the book and several files, including a “readme” file. This readme file has links to the audio interviews and videos.

Q: But I never received an email with a download link … what now?
A: No worries … just email me at zenhabits+refund at gmail, let me know you bought “focus” but didn’t receive the link, and I’ll send it to you.

Q: What about an audiobook?
A: No, no plans for that.

Buy the book

Leading by Example
Making Sure You “Walk the Talk”

So, do you lead by example?

There’s the boss who tells everyone to stay late, and then leaves promptly at 5:00 p.m. to play golf. There’s the supervisor who criticizes everyone for spending time on the Internet, but is discovered buying groceries online in the middle of the afternoon. And the CFO who recommends layoffs to stop “unnecessary spending,” but then buys herself brand-new luxury office furniture.

Do you know any of these people?

There’s hardly anything worse for company morale than leaders who practice the “Do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. When this happens, you can almost see the loss of enthusiasm and goodwill among the staff. It’s like watching the air go out of a balloon – and cynicism and disappointment usually take its place.

No matter what the situation is, double standards – witnessing people say one thing, and then doing another – always feel like betrayals. If this ever happened to you, you can probably remember that sense of disappointment and letdown.

If you’re in a leadership position, then you know that you have a responsibility to your team. They look to you for guidance and strength; that’s part of what being a leader is. And a big part of your responsibility is to lead them with your own actions.

So why is it so important to lead by example; and what happens when you don’t?

Why It Matters

There’s an old saying about the difference between a manager and a leader: “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.” (It’s best to be both a manager and a leader – they’re just different processes.)

As a leader, part of your job is to inspire the people around you to push themselves – and, in turn, the company – to greatness. To do this, you must show them the way by doing it yourself.

Stop and think about the inspiring people who have changed the world with their examples. Consider what Mahatma Gandhi accomplished through his actions: He spent most of his adult life living what he preached to others. He was committed to nonviolent resistance to protest against injustice, and people followed in his footsteps. He led them, and India, to independence – because his life proved, by example, that it could be done.

Although Gandhi’s situation is very different from yours, the principle is the same. When you lead by example, you create a picture of what’s possible. People can look at you and say, “Well, if he can do it, I can do it.” When you lead by example, you make it easy for others to follow you.

Look at legendary businessman, Jack Welch of General Electric. Welch knew that to push GE to new heights, he had to turn everything upside down. So that’s just what he did.

He developed the whole idea of a “boundaryless organization.” This means that everyone is free to brainstorm and think of ideas – instead of waiting for someone “higher up” in the bureaucracy to think of them first. He wanted his team “turned loose,” and he promised to listen to ideas from anyone in the company. And he did. Everyone from the lowest line workers to senior managers got his attention – if they had something to say or a new idea that might make the company better. It wasn’t just “talk,” and it didn’t take his team long to figure that out.

Welch stayed true to his passions and what he knew was right. As a result, GE became an incredibly successful company under his management. His team was always willing to follow his lead, because the people within it knew that he always kept his word.

What does this mean for you? If you give yourself to your team and show them the way, then, most likely, they’ll follow you anywhere.

When You Don’t Lead by Example

We’ve seen just how powerful it can be to lead by example. But what happens when you don’t follow this rule? How does your team feel when you tell them to do one thing, and then you do the exact opposite?

As we said earlier, if this ever happened to you, then it shouldn’t be hard to remember how angry and disappointed you were.

When leaders don’t “practice what they preach,” it can be almost impossible for a team to work together successfully. How can anyone trust a leader who talks about one thing, but does another?

Consider what might have happened if Gandhi had, even one time, been in a physical fight with his opposition. His important message of nonviolent protest would probably have been much harder to believe after that. His followers would have looked at him with suspicion and distrust. The chances of them getting into physical arguments or committing acts of violence would probably have increased dramatically.

Do you think that Alexander the Great’s soldiers would have fought so hard for him if he had sat on top of a hill, safe from the battle? Probably not. He would have been just another average general in our history books, instead of the example of a successful leader that we know today.

And so it is with your team. If you say one thing and do another, they likely won’t follow you enthusiastically. Why should they? Everything you tell them after that may meet with suspicion and doubt. They may not trust that you’re doing the right thing, or that you know what you’re talking about. They may no longer believe in you.

Good leaders push their people forward with excitement, inspiration, trust, and vision. If you lead a team that doesn’t trust you, productivity will drop. Enthusiasm may disappear. The vision you’re trying so hard to make happen may lose its appeal, all because your team doesn’t trust you anymore.

Key Points

Good leadership takes strength of character and a firm commitment to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. This means doing what you say, when you say it. If your team can’t trust you, you’ll probably never lead them to greatness.

Leading – and living – by example isn’t as hard as it might sound. It’s really the easiest path. If your team knows that you’ll also do whatever you expect from them, they’ll likely work hard to help you achieve your goal.

Apply This to Your Life

  • If you ask a co-worker to do something, make sure you’d be willing to do it yourself.
  • If you implement new rules for the office, then follow those rules just as closely as you expect everyone else to follow them. For example, if the new rule is “no personal calls at work,” then don’t talk to your spouse at work.
  • Look closely at your own behavior. If you criticize people for interrupting, but you constantly do it yourself, you need to fix this. Yes, you want people to pay attention to one another and listen to all viewpoints, so demonstrate this yourself.
  • If, in the spirit of goodwill, you make a rule for everyone to leave the office at 5:00 p.m., then you need to do it too. If you stay late to get more work done, your team may feel guilty and start staying late too, which can destroy the whole purpose of the rule. The same is true for something like a lunch break – if you want your team to take a full hour to rest and relax, then you need to do it too.

Using the Power of Other People’s Help

Even “Super-You” needs help and support. There is no shame in asking for assistance.
Push aside the pride and show respect for the talent others can bring to the table.

And, remember that there is no such thing as a single-handed success:
When you include and acknowledge all those in your corner, you propel yourself,
your teammates and your supporters to greater heights.

– Author Unknown.

Do you feel stressed and overloaded? Or that your career seems stalled? If so, then you may need to brush up your delegation skills!

If you work on your own, there’s only a limited amount that you can do, however hard you work. You can only work so many hours in a day. There are only so many tasks you can complete in these hours. There are only so many people you can help by doing these tasks. And, because the number of people you can help is limited, your success is limited.

However, if you’re good at your job, people will want much more than this from you.

This can lead to a real sense of pressure and work overload: You can’t do everything that everyone wants, and this can leave you stressed, unhappy, and feeling that you’re letting people down.

On the positive side, however, you’re being given a tremendous opportunity if you can find a way around this limitation. If you can realize this opportunity, you can be genuinely successful!

One of the most common ways of overcoming this limitation is to learn how to delegate your work to other people. If you do this well, you can quickly build a strong and successful team of people, well able to meet the demands that others place.

This is why delegation is such an important skill, and is one that you absolutely have to learn!

Why People Don’t Delegate

To figure out how to delegate properly, it’s important to understand why people avoid it. Quite simply, people don’t delegate because it takes a lot of up-front effort.

After all, which is easier: designing and writing content for a brochure that promotes a new service you helped spearhead, or having other members of your team do it?

You know the content inside and out. You can spew benefit statements in your sleep. It would be relatively straightforward for you to sit down and write it. It would even be fun! The question is, “Would it be a good use of your time?”

While on the surface it’s easier to do it yourself than explain the strategy behind the brochure to someone else, there are two key reasons that mean that it’s probably better to delegate the task to someone else:

  • First, if you have the ability to spearhead a new campaign, the chances are that your skills are better used further developing the strategy, and perhaps coming up with other new ideas. By doing the work yourself, you’re failing to make best use of your time.
  • Second, by meaningfully involving other people in the project, you develop those people’s skills and abilities. This means that next time a similar project comes along, you can delegate the task with a high degree of confidence that it will be done well, with much less involvement from you.

Delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop, so that they can reach their full potential in the organization.

When to Delegate

Delegation is a win-win when done appropriately, however that does not mean that you can delegate just anything. To determine when delegation is most appropriate there are five key questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task? Essentially is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical that you do it yourself?
  • Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person’s skills?
  • Is this a task that will recur, in a similar form, in the future?
  • Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively? Time must be available for adequate training, for questions and answers, for opportunities to check progress, and for rework if that is necessary.
  • Is this a task that I should delegate? Tasks critical for long-term success (for example, recruiting the right people for your team) genuinely do need your attention.

If you can answer “yes” to at least some of the above questions, then it could well be worth delegating this job.

Other factors that contribute to the delegability of a task include:

  1. The project’s timelines/deadlines.
    • How much time is there available to do the job?
    • Is there time to redo the job if it’s not done properly the first time?
    • What are the consequences of not completing the job on time?
  2. Your expectations or goals for the project or task(s), including:
    • How important is it that the results are of the highest possible quality?
    • Is an “adequate” result good enough?
    • Would a failure be crucial?
    • How much would failure impact other things?

That being said, having all these conditions present is no guarantee that the delegated task will be completed successfully either. You also need to consider to whom you will delegate the task and how you will do it.

The Who and How of Delegating

Having decided to delegate a task there are some other factors to consider as well. As you think these through, you can use our free Delegation Worksheet to keep record of the tasks you choose to delegate and who you want to delegate them to.

To Whom Should You Delegate?

The factors to consider here include:

  1. The experience, knowledge and skills of the individual as they apply to the delegated task.
    • What knowledge, skills and attitude does the person already have?
    • Do you have time and resources to provide any training needed?
  2. The individual’s preferred work style.
    • How independent is the person?
    • What does he or she want from his or her job?
    • What are his or her long-term goals and interest, and how do these align with the work proposed?
  3. The current workload of this person.
    • Does the person have time to take on more work?
    • Will you delegating this task require reshuffling of other responsibilities and workloads?
When you first start to delegate to someone, you may notice that he or she takes longer than you do to complete tasks. This is because you are an expert in the field and the person you have delegated to is still learning. Be patient: if you have chosen the right person to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find that he or she quickly becomes competent and reliable.

How Should You Delegate?

Use the following principles to delegate successfully:

  1. Clearly articulate the desired outcome. Begin with the end in mind and specify the desired results.
  2. Clearly identify constraints and boundaries. Where are the lines of authority, responsibility and accountability? Should the person:
    • Wait to be told what to do?
    • Ask what to do?
    • Recommend what should be done, and then act?
    • Act, and then report results immediately?
    • Initiate action, and then report periodically?
  3. Where possible, include people in the delegation process. Empower them to decide what tasks are to be delegated to them and when.
  4. Match the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority. Understand that you can delegate some responsibility, however you can’t delegate away ultimate accountability. The buck stops with you!
  5. Delegate to the lowest possible organizational level. The people who are closest to the work are best suited for the task, because they have the most intimate knowledge of the detail of everyday work. This also increases workplace efficiency, and helps to develop people.
  6. Provide adequate support, and be available to answer questions. Ensure the project’s success through ongoing communication and monitoring as well as provision of resources and credit.
  7. Focus on results. Concern yourself with what is accomplished, rather than detailing how the work should be done: Your way is not necessarily the only or even the best way! Allow the person to control his or her own methods and processes. This facilitates success and trust.
  8. Avoid “upward delegation”. If there is a problem, don’t allow the person to shift responsibility for the task back to you: ask for recommended solutions; and don’t simply provide an answer.
  9. Build motivation and commitment. Discuss how success will impact financial rewards, future opportunities, informal recognition, and other desirable consequences. Provide recognition where deserved.
  10. Establish and maintain control.
    • Discuss timelines and deadlines.
    • Agree on a schedule of checkpoints at which you’ll review project progress.
    • Make adjustments as necessary.
    • Take time to review all submitted work.

In thoroughly considering these key points prior to and during the delegation process you will find that you delegate more successfully.

Keeping Control

Once you have worked through the above steps, make sure you brief your team member appropriately. Take time to explain why they were chosen for the job, what’s expected from them during the project, the goals you have for the project, all timelines and deadlines and the resources on which they can draw. And agree a schedule for checking-in with progress updates.

Lastly, make sure that the team member knows that you want to know if any problems occur, and that you are available for any questions or guidance needed as the work progresses.

We all know that as managers, we shouldn’t micro-manage. However, this doesn’t mean we must abdicate control altogether: In delegating effectively, we have to find the sometimes-difficult balance between giving enough space for people to use their abilities to best effect, while still monitoring and supporting closely enough to ensure that the job is done correctly and effectively.

The Importance of Full Acceptance

When delegated work is delivered back to you, set aside enough time to review it thoroughly. If possible, only accept good quality, fully-complete work. If you accept work you are not satisfied with, your team member does not learn to do the job properly.

Worse than this, you accept a whole new tranche of work that you will probably need to complete yourself. Not only does this overload you, it means that you don’t have the time to do your own job properly.

Of course, when good work is returned to you, make sure to both recognize and reward the effort. As a leader, you should get in the practice of complimenting members of your team every time you are impressed by what they have done. This effort on your part will go a long way toward building team member’s self-confidence and efficiency, both of which will be improved on the next delegated task; hence, you both win.

Key Points:

At first sight, delegation can feel like more hassle than it’s worth, however by delegating effectively, you can hugely expand the amount of work that you can deliver.

When you arrange the workload so that you are working on the tasks that have the highest priority for you, and other people are working on meaningful and challenging assignments, you have a recipe for success.

To delegate effectively, choose the right tasks to delegate, identify the right people to delegate to, and delegate in the right way. There’s a lot to this, but you’ll achieve so much more once you’re delegating effectively!

ONE PARAGRAPH THAT EXPLAINS LIFE!

Arthur Ashe, the legendary Wimbledon player was dying of AIDS which he got due to infected blood he received during a heart surgery in 1983.
>From world over, he received letters from his fans, one of which conveyed: “Why does GOD have to select you for such a bad disease”?
To this Arthur Ashe replied:
“The world over — 50 million children start playing tennis, 5 million learn to play tennis,
500,000 learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5000 reach the grand slam,
50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to semi final, 2 to the finals,
when I was holding a cup I never asked GOD ‘Why me?’.
And today in pain I should not be asking GOD ‘Why me?’ “

“Happiness keeps you Sweet,
Trials keep you Strong,
Sorrow keeps you Human,
Failure keeps you humble and Success keeps you glowing, but only Faith & Attitude Keeps you going…

Learn About – and Change – How You Think

“A man is but the product of his thoughts.
What he thinks, he becomes.”
Mahatma Gandhi.

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better
than negative thinking will.”
Zig Ziglar – Personal development guru.

These are two powerful quotes. Combined, they tell us that if we think positively, we’re likely to enjoy positive results. Negative thinking, on the other hand, can lead to outcomes that we don’t want.

Positive and negative thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies: What we expect can often come true.

If you start off thinking that you’ll mess up a task, the chances are that you will: You may not try hard enough to succeed, you won’t attract support from other people, and you may not perceive any results as good enough.

Positive thinking, on the other hand, is often associated with positive actions and outcomes. You have hope and faith in yourself and others, and you work and invest hard to prove that your optimism is warranted. You’ll enthuse others, and they may well pitch in to help you. This makes constructive outcomes all the more likely.

When it comes down to it, positive, optimistic people are happier and healthier, and enjoy more success than those who think negatively. The key difference between them is how they think about and interpret the events in their life.

So, how do you think about your successes and failures? Do you have a predictable thinking pattern? Find out below.

Are You a Positive or Negative Thinker?

Take this short quiz to determine what kind of thinker you are.

Use our online quiz by clicking here, or print this out and take the quiz on paper.

Instructions: (To take the quiz on paper)

For each question, circle the number in the column that most applies.

Please note: This tool uses an informal approach to assessing positive and negative thinking, designed to help you quickly ‘zero in’ on approaches that may help you. While it may be intuitively useful, it has not been validated through controlled scientific tests. Please, therefore, treat results as indicative, and interpret results with common sense.

© Mind Tools Ltd, 2008.

I tend to think like this…
Question
Not at all
Rarely
Some times
Often
Very
Often
1. When my boss asks to speak with me, I instinctively assume he/she wants to discuss a problem or give me negative feedback. 5 4 3 2 1
2. When I experience a real difficulty at work/home, other aspects of my life tend to be painted with the same negative brush. 5 4 3 2 1
3. When I experience a setback, I tend to believe that the obstacle will endure for the long-term, e.g. “The funding didn’t come through, so I guess that means they hate the project. All that work for nothing…” 5 4 3 2 1
4. When a team I am on is functioning poorly, I believe the cause is short-term and has a straightforward solution, e.g. “Boy we’re not working well, if we can fix […], we’ll do much better!” 1 2 3 4 5
5. When I’m not chosen for an assignment I really want, I tend to believe that I just don’t have the specific skills they are looking for right now, as opposed to thinking I am generally unskilled. 1 2 3 4 5
6. When something happens that I don’t like or appreciate, I can tend to conclude that the cause is widespread in nature and will continue to plague me, e.g. “My assistant didn’t ‘cc’ me on that email she sent to my boss. Administrative assistants are all out to prove how much smarter they are than their supervisors.” 5 4 3 2 1
7. When I perform very well on an assignment, I believe that it’s because I’m generally talented and smart, as opposed to thinking I am good in that one very specific area. 1 2 3 4 5
8. When I receive a reward or recognition, I can tend to figure that luck or fate played more of a role than my actual work or skill, e.g. “They asked me to be the key note speaker at the conference next year. I guess the other guys were all busy.” 5 4 3 2 1
9. When I come up with a really good idea, I am surprised by my creativity. I figure it is my lucky day, and caution myself not to get used to the feeling. 5 4 3 2 1
10. When something bad happens at work, I see the contributions that everyone made to the mistake, as opposed to thinking that I am incompetent and to blame. 1 2 3 4 5
11. After winning an award/recognition/ contract, I believe it’s because the competition is not as good as I am, e.g. “We won that large contract against two strong competitors. We’re simply better than they are.” 1 2 3 4 5
12. As the leader, when my team completes a project, I tend to attribute the success to the hard work and dedication of the team members, as opposed to my skilled leadership. 5 4 3 2 1
13. When I make a decision that proves to be successful, it’s because I have expertise on that particular subject and have analyzed that particular problem really well, as opposed to being generally a strong decision maker. 5 4 3 2 1
14. When I achieve a long term and personally challenging goal, I congratulate myself, and think about all the skills I used to be successful. 1 2 3 4 5

Score Interpretation

Now add up the scores you’ve circled.

My score overall is:

out of 70

Score Comment
14-31 Yikes! It must feel as if there’s a rain cloud that hangs overhead all day. You have gotten yourself into the habit of seeing things as your fault and you’ve learned to give up your control in many situations. Taking this quiz is the first step toward turning your pessimism around. Read the rest of this article carefully, and use the exercises daily. Start now!
32-50 You try to be optimistic and positive however some situations get the better of you. Identify your triggers for negative thinking and use the rational thinking exercises mentioned later in this article to become naturally more optimistic.
51-70 Great job! You have a generally positive and optimistic outlook on life. You don’t take things personally and you are able to see that setbacks won’t ruin the rest of your life. If you do have any negative thoughts, find out how to deal with them later in this article.

Turn Negatives into Positives

The first step in changing negative thinking is to become aware of it. For many of us, negative thinking is a bad habit – and we may not even know we’re doing it!

Consider this example: The guy on the subway who just made a face is surely directing his behavior at you. When the receptionist doesn’t greet you in the morning, you must have done something to anger her… again! You go straight to the coffee machine, because it’s Monday morning and you just know you’ll be solving problems until lunchtime. When you finally get to your desk, your assistant is waiting for you. “Oh no,” you think. “What has he done now? The first problem of the day… yippee!”

If you’re feeling bad after reading this, imagine how it would feel to surround yourself with that much negativity. Then ask yourself if this is the way you tend to think in your own life?

Dr Martin Seligman, who has been described as America’s most influential psychologist, has done extensive research on thought patterns. In particular, he looks at the impact of an optimistic versus pessimistic outlook on life and success.

Seligman says we explain events using three basic dimensions of Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalization, with optimistic people on one end of the scale and pessimistic people on the other. We look at these below.

Permanence (Questions 3, 4, 9, 11)

For questions in this category, fill in your scored answers in the table below, and then calculate your total.

Score
Question 3
Question 4
Question 9
Question 11
Total Out of 20

Your score shows how far you believe that something you are experiencing is either permanent or temporary. A low score implies that you think bad times will carry on forever. A high score shows confidence that you’ll be able to get things back on course quickly.

Pessimist: I lost my job and I’ll never find one as good again. No point even looking!

Optimist: I lost my job. Thank goodness there are other opportunities I can explore!

Pervasiveness (Questions 2, 5, 6, 7, 13)

Score
Question 2
Question 5
Question 6
Question 7
Question 13
Total Out of 25

Your score shows how far you believe that situational factors cause an effect, as opposed to the view that the effect is evidence of more universal factors at work. A low score shows that you tend to think that if you’ve experienced a problem in one place, you’ll experience that problem wherever you go.

Pessimist: I lost my job. Companies are all the same; all they care about is money. I don’t know why I bother putting in any effort at all.

Optimist: I lost my job. It’s too bad our company has to reinvent itself to stay competitive. Thankfully I learned some great transferable skills!

Personalization (Questions 1, 8, 10, 12, 14)

Score
Question 1
Question 8
Question 10
Question 12
Question 14
Total Out of 25

Your score shows how far you believe that something about you influenced the outcome, as opposed to the view that something external to you caused it. A low score indicates that you tend to blame yourself for bad things, rather than attributing the cause to more general factors.

Pessimist: I lost my job. If I had been a decent employee they would have found a new job for me.

Optimist: I lost my job. I gave it my all, however they just can’t use my skill set right now.

Re-shape Your Thinking

Your answers to the questions in this quiz can show whether you have a positive or negative pattern of thinking. They’re also great starting points to become more aware of your thoughts – and the effect they have on your life.

When you’re more aware of the way you think, you can take action to use positive situations to your advantage, and re-shape the negative ones. The goal is to think positively, regardless of the situation, and make a conscious effort to see opportunities instead of obstacles.

So, in our example, if you immediately think the receptionist is mad at you because she didn’t say hello, how rational is that? Could she have been busy or distracted when you walked by? Did you say hello to her? Maybe she wasn’t feeling well, or she was in a negative mood herself. These are all more rational reasons for her behavior than simply assuming that you did something wrong.

To help you start thinking positively, see our comprehensive article on Thought Awareness, Rational Thinking, and Positive Thinking. This is a “must read” for everyone, even very positive thinkers, because it shows why positive thinking is so important, and it discusses how to turn negative thought patterns into positive ones.

Persistent negative thinking can cause mental health problems, including depression. While these positive thinking techniques have been shown to have a positive effect, they are for guidance only, and readers should take the advice of suitably qualified health professionals if they are experiencing persistent unhappiness.



Generating New Ideas
Think Differently and Spark Creativity

Light bulb
Switch on your creativity!

“We need to think differently!”
“This needs some fresh ideas!”
“We have got to be more creative around here!”

Are messages like these popping up more often in your workplace?

Faced with complex, open-ended, ever-changing challenges, organizations realize that constant, ongoing innovation is critical if they want to stay ahead of the competition.

This is why we need to be on the lookout for new ideas that can drive innovation. It’s why the ability to think differently, generate new ideas, and spark creativity within a team becomes an important skill. You need to work actively on building and cultivating this skill, and it can be done!

Often, though, we make the mistake of assuming that good ideas just happen. Or worse still, we get caught in the mind trap of believing that creativity is an aptitude: some people have it, others don’t. Then there is the other self-defeating belief – “I am not intelligent enough to come up with good ideas.”

These assumptions just aren’t true: Anyone can come up with fresh, radical ideas – you just need to learn to open your mind and think differently. This article shows you how to do so.

How to Generate New Ideas

Standard idea-generation techniques concentrate on combining or adapting existing ideas. This can certainly generate results. But here, our focus is on equipping you with tools that help you leap onto a totally different plane. These approaches push your mind to forge new connections, think differently, and consider new perspectives.

A word of caution – while these techniques are extremely effective, they will only succeed if they are backed by rich knowledge of the area you’re working on. This means that if you don’t have enough information about the issue, you are unlikely to come up with a great idea, even by using the techniques listed here.

Incidentally, these techniques can be applied to spark creativity in group settings and brainstorming sessions as well.

Breaking Thought Patterns

Any of us can get stuck in established thinking patterns. To get unstuck, you need to break out of these, if you’re going to have any chance of generating fresh, new ideas. There are several techniques you can use to do this:

  • Challenge assumptions: For every situation, you have a set of key assumptions. Challenging these assumptions gives you a whole new spin on possibilities.You want to buy a house but can’t since you assume you don’t have the money to make a down payment on the loan. Challenge the assumption. Sure, you don’t have cash in the bank but couldn’t you sell some of your other assets to raise the money? Could you dip into your retirement fund? Could you work overtime and build up the kitty in six months? Suddenly the picture starts looking brighter.
  • Reword the problem: Stating the problem differently often leads to different ideas. To reword the problem look at the issue from different angles. “Why do we need to solve the problem?”, “What’s the roadblock here?”, “What will happen if we don’t solve the problem?” These questions will give you new insights. You might come up with new ideas to solve your new problem.In the mid 1950s, shipping companies were losing money on freighters. They decided they needed to focus on building faster and more efficient ships. However, the problem persisted. Then one consultant defined the problem differently. He said the problem the industry should consider was “how can we reduce cost?” The new problem statement generated new ideas. All aspects of shipping, including storage of cargo and loading time, were considered. The outcome of this shift in focus resulted in the container ship and the roll-on/roll-off freighter.
  • Think in reverse: If you feel you cannot think of anything new, try turning things upside-down. Instead of focusing on how you could solve a problem/improve operations/enhance a product, consider how could you create the problem/worsen operations/downgrade the product. The reverse ideas will come flowing in. Consider these ideas – once you’ve reversed them again – as possible solutions for the original challenge.
  • Express yourself through different media: We have multiple intelligences but somehow, when faced with workplace challenges we just tend to use our verbal reasoning ability. How about expressing the challenge through different media? Clay, music, word association games, paint, there are several ways you can express the challenge. Don’t bother about solving the challenge at this point. Just express it. Different expression might spark off different thought patterns. And these new thought patterns may yield new ideas.

Connect the Unconnected

Some of the best ideas seem to occur just by chance. You see something or you hear someone, often totally unconnected to the situation you are trying to resolve, and the penny drops in place. Newton and the apple, Archimedes in the bath tub: examples abound.

Why does this happen? The random element provides a new stimulus and gets our brain cells ticking. You can capitalize on this knowledge by consciously trying to connect the unconnected.

Actively seek stimuli from unexpected places and then see if you can use these stimuli to build a connection with your situation. Some techniques you could use are:

  • Use random input: Choose a word from the dictionary and look for novel connections between the word and your problem.

  • Mind map possible ideas: Put a key word or phrase in the middle of the page. Write whatever else comes in your mind on the same page. See if you can make any connections.

  • Pick up a picture. Consider how you can relate it to your situation.

  • Take an item. Ask yourself questions such as “How could this item help in addressing the challenge?”, or “What attributes of this item could help us solve our challenge?”

Shift Perspective

Over the years we all build a certain type of perspective and this perspective yields a certain type of idea. If you want different ideas, you have to shift your perspective. To do so:

  • Get someone else’s input: Ask different people what they would do if faced with your challenge. You could approach friends engaged in different kind of work, your spouse, a nine-year old child, customers, suppliers, senior citizens, someone from a different culture; in essence, anyone who might see things differently.

  • Play the “If I were” game: Ask yourself “If I were ………” how would I address this challenge? You could be anyone: a millionaire, Tiger Woods, anyone.The idea is the person you decide to be has certain identifiable traits. And you have to use these traits to address the challenge. For instance, if you decide to play the millionaire, you might want to bring traits such as flamboyance, big thinking and risk-taking when formulating an idea. If you are Tiger Woods you would focus on things such as perfection, persistence and execution detail.

Employ Enablers

Enablers are activities and actions that assist with, rather than directly provoke, idea generation. They create a positive atmosphere. Some of the enablers that can help you get your creative juices flowing are:

  • Belief in yourself: Believe that you are creative, believe that ideas will come to you; positive reinforcement helps you perform better.
  • Creative loafing time: Nap, go for a walk, listen to music, play with your child, take a break from formal idea-generating. Your mind needs the rest, and will often come up with connections precisely when it isn’t trying to make them.
  • Change of environment: Sometimes changing the setting changes your thought process. Go to a nearby coffee shop instead of the conference room in your office, or hold your discussion while walking together round a local park.
  • Shutting out distractions: Keep your thinking space both literally and mentally clutter-free. Shut off the Blackberry, close the door, divert your phone calls and then think.
  • Fun and humor: These are essential ingredients, especially in team settings.

Key Points:

The ability to generate new ideas is an essential work skill today. You can acquire this skill by consciously practicing techniques that force your mind to forge new connections, break old thought patterns and consider new perspectives.

Along with practicing these techniques, you need to adopt enabling strategies too. These enabling strategies help in creating a positive atmosphere that boosts creativity.



Finding Your Allies
Building Strong and Supportive Relationships at Work

Spacer Working with allies

Building strong relationships at work.

“A problem shared is a problem halved”, as the old saying goes, and it’s true in business as well. When it comes to working your way through the challenges that you face every day, it’s a great help to be able to draw on a network of supportive individuals that you can work with to find a solution.

Allies are the people who give you backing, assistance, advice, information, protection, and even friendship. They are your support base. With strong, mutually beneficial relationships with your allies, you can survive and thrive in the corporate arena, and you can get things done quicker, and more smoothly.

Working together with allies simply helps you and them achieve more. (Here, we’re using the word “ally” in it’s positive sense – we’re not implying that you’re trying to circumvent proper channels, engage in politics or game-play, or create any kind of “us and them” culture. It is clearly wrong to behave in this way.)

Anyone and everyone who can help you achieve your objectives is a potential ally. Some are natural: These are people who share a common interest with you. The colleague who’s been around for years and can offer an invaluable voice of experience, the team member who is always happy to be a sounding board for your ideas, or the vendor who is ready to accept seemingly-impossible deadlines; these people are your natural allies.

But you can find allies in unexpected places too. Alex in finance, who pulls together an extra report on your projects finances; Claire, the secretary, who tells you when the boss is in a good mood; or Simon, your ex-department head who is always available for advice. They too are important allies.

Allies can help you directly and indirectly. For instance, if you’re running behind schedule on a project, your subordinate can help you directly by working longer hours, while your boss can help you indirectly by delegating another part of your workload to someone else.

Building Your Personal Support Base

This is one of the reasons that it’s important to be open and supportive to others in the workplace, and why it’s worth making at least some of your time available to help others out when they need help. After all, if you’re a positive and supportive person, many other people will be equally supportive towards you.

So who could your allies be? Just your team mates? Actually, your list of potential allies goes much further than this!

The table below provides an example list of allies, with the support you might be able to receive from them, and the returns you might be expected to provide to them.

Possible Allies – And What They May Want…

Potential Ally

What He/She
Could Do for You

What He/She Might Be Expecting in Return

Team Members

Assist you with regular tasks
Be loyal
Be a sounding board

Assistance with regular tasks
Loyalty
Recognition
Credit – given both publicly and privately

Boss

Protect you
Champion you
Help you in career advancement

Loyalty
Support
Assistance with his/her tasks
Commitment
Willingness to go the extra mile
Image building

Senior Management Members

Protect you
Champion you
Help you in career advancement

Loyalty
Support
Commitment
Willingness to go the extra mile
Image building

Support Staff

Willing performance of day-to-day functions
Cooperation

Appreciation
Attention
Recognition

Gateway People (Secretaries, Executive Assistants)

Provide you with access to crucial information and people

Appreciation
Attention
Recognition

Family

Provide moral support, appreciation, understanding

Moral support
Appreciation
Understanding

More Experienced Colleagues

Provide expertise, perspective, contacts, knowledge

Respect
Recognition
Attention

Networking Allies

Keep you abreast of the general buzz
Provide you advance information and background knowledge
Provide you contacts
Alert you to emerging trends and patterns

Advance information
Background knowledge
Contacts
Alerts about emerging trends and patterns

Interest Groups

Build influence
Mobilize support
Provide you with data

Assistance for their cause

Community Members

Build influence
Mobilize support
Provide you with data

Assistance for their cause

Press

Build influence
Mobilize support

Information

Government

Build influence
Mobilize support

Assistance for their cause

Clients

Provide inputs for new product development initiatives
Provide referrals
Provide preferential status

Preferential status
Willingness to go extra mile
Business leads
Referrals

Vendors

Provide extra assistance
Provide preferential status

Preferential status
Business leads
Referrals

Tip 1:
Don’t be naïve in the way that you approach people – be aware of people’s interests and duties, and understand that these may conflict with yours. Also, recognize that they may not be able to help you, for a variety of possible reasons including a very heavy workload.

And with all this talk of mutual help and information sharing, make absolutely sure that you keep confidential information confidential!

Tip 2:
Allies can’t help you if you’re not doing your job properly. Make sure you make time to look after your allies, but make sure too that you do your job to the best of your abilities.

Nurture your allies, and you’ll find that you can be so much more effective at getting things done. What’s more, things will get so much easier and more pleasant at work!