Self-Management

The pressure is brutal. To know, to have answers, to offer fresh ideas.

Chances are, you have been hired for your job because you will offer insight and solutions. I love the moment when I know. When I have no doubt, when the next right action is crystal-clear. The moment when I don’t know, however, tends to yield the richer crop.

Because I want you to think I’m smart and knowledgeable, it is tempting to tell you I know even when I clearly don’t.

The pressure is tremendous.

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Zen

Cool when science catches up with what we already know.

My thought as I peruse an article by Sue Shellenbarger, my favorite Wall Street Journal columnist (It’s Not Copying, It’s Connecting, We’re Networking. WSJ 9/21/2016). Shellenbarger quotes one of my favorite neuroscientists, Uri Hasson of Princeton. Using MRIs to study how brains react to the signals exchanged between a speaker and listener, Hasson describes the process of neural coupling that occurs in such moments. Think of neural coupling as a powerful Bluetooth connection. Instant brain synching. And nonverbal cues measurably enhance the rate and quality of this coupling.

Wanna connect better, faster, more deeply? Get in sync.

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Tis the week after the political blow-up about the separation of families at the US/Mexican border. Public discourse got more heated than it had already been. Even if you tried to avoid the coverage, chances are you watched. And, pardon the gun metaphor – you got triggered. I got triggered. You bet I did. 

There’s having a reaction. There’s being triggered. 

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Shattering Change

We’ve been there. Many of us too often.

Our employer announces a major organizational change. Seeking more efficiencies. Slashing resources. Merging business functions. Eliminating others. Right-sizing.

Sure, you believe in continuous improvement. But your first reaction is This sucksBig time. And it’s not just a thought. You get this steady pinch in the pit of your stomach. Your chest and shoulders feel tight and tense. Headaches at night. It doesn’t feel good.

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relaxation
claim attention

Attention, says Chris Hayes, the moderator of MSNBC’s “All In” program, is the scarcest commodity of the 21st century.

True. In her book “Reclaiming Conversation,” Sherry Turkle writes eloquently about the differences between deep attention and hyper-attention. Hyper-attention is a fractured attention in which we rapidly zip from one point of focus to the next. You and I know. Googling. Tweeting. Facebooking. Instagramming. Activities like skimming and scanning are often associated with fractured attention. Popular claims notwithstanding, hyper-attention does not equal sustained retention.

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Revealing the truth results in success

When someone asks you a direct question about something potentially embarrassing, is it best to tell the truth or better to withhold information?

The findings on this matter by Leslie K. John, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, are enlightening. They match what many of us, on a gut level, know to be true but often find difficult to practice. John’s research, via a series of 7 compromising scenarios, divides folks into “revealers” and “hiders.”

Down the line, revealers fared better than hiders. They did so in startling ways.

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authentic leadership

Two separate conversations, same week.

Each chat is with a CEO who talks to me about a person that reports to him. I have been working with each of these reports.

As we talk, it is evident that each CEO desires the exact same thing for his charge.

I want him to be more authentic.

Authentic is a problematic word. Like many buzz words, we have over-used it until we’ve sucked the oxygen out of it. Let me translate. This is what, I believe, both CEOs were saying. I want him to be less polite, less cautious, play it less safe. I want to hear what he really thinks.

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Leadership Talks

It sounds a bit clinical, I know. But it’s a game-changer in how we conduct a business conversation.

Our talk ratio.

It quantifies how much you or I talk, how much the other person talks in a conversation. Forget about the substance of the conversation, for a moment (mind you, I believe in substance!!!). Let’s keep it basic. In a conversation, what percentage of the time do you talk, what percentage of the time does the other person talk?

If you have an 80/20 ratio, you likely talk too much.

If you have a 20/80 ratio, you likely talk too little.

But it depends entirely on the other person and the situation! you protest. It does – but not quite as much as you think!

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Pep Talk

Pep talks annoy the heck out of me.

As I skim an article on pep talks (ugggh) I realize that the phrase pep talk doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. Sports coaches give pep talks. Motivational speakers give pep talks. Some religious leaders give pep talks. That means you fire people up, right?

Those fire-them-up leaders quickly morph into a caricature of themselves. Canned pep. Fake hope.

Then I get to thinking.

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