Shake It Off and Step Up

Shake It Off and Step Up

I had this pop-up to me today from my list of inspirational items and thought it was worth sharing again. It is a great lesson on the power of learning to shake it off and step up. Shake It Off and Step Up One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down.A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back,...
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Busy or Productive – Increase Your Productivity with These 8 Tips

Busy or Productive – Increase Your Productivity with These 8 Tips

Time is the one true constraint for all of us in our lives. We all have 24 hours in a day. We all have 60 minutes in an hour. You can't change the pace of time. But what we can change is how we use that time. Most people I know are busy within their constrained time. A few people I know are productive in that time. Are you busy or productive? Here are 15 tips that can help you highlight where you fall, and how you can improve your productivity, be more successful and reduce your stress.Not every tip will work for everyone. Individual work styles differ, and some people can optimize more or less in each of these areas. The most important factor to success in productivity improvement is to be conscious in your efforts. Take time to understand how you work today and how that could be improved. Then execute against that plan. (more…)...
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Podcasts for Constant Learning

Podcasts for Constant Learning

I am a strong believer in ongoing learning as a mandatory activity for anyone who is looking to progress in their life either personally or professionally. I am continually looking for new options for reading and learning everywhere I go and I try to bring a curious attitude to each new experience. I am always looking for opportunities to learn as much as possible about different ideas, viewpoints, and thinking approaches.Recently I started spending more time in the car rather than commuting by train where I was able to get a lot of reading done and so I was looking for alternative ways to consume new content. I have used audio books in the past which were interesting, but while I was searching for audio alternatives for the car I came across the idea of Podcasts.(more…)...
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Working Smarter Using the Eisenhower Matrix

Working Smarter Using the Eisenhower Matrix

Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, serving as president from 1953 to 1961. He faced challenges such as the Korean War, the start of the space race, the Lebanon crisis, and a growing conflict with the Soviet Union. One of his famous quotes was: What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important. It was from that quote that the concept of the Eisenhower Matrix was born, a concept which has been talked about in many famous books including First Things First and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey where it became a foundational component of his time management approach. While the concept isn't new, it is just as relevant today as we plan our work. In fact working smarter using the Eisenhower Matrix is even more important today than ever in history. (more…)...
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Curiosity Killed the Cat (But Satisfaction Brought It Back)

Curiosity Killed the Cat (But Satisfaction Brought It Back)

I was doing my morning reading today and I came across a few posts and thoughts the value of opposing ideas, disagreement, and controversy and it reminded me of the value of curiosity when we are going about our daily lives. Increasingly we see leaders just "speaking louder", believing that by talking louder they will convince more people to agree with their position (as radical as it might be). Friends and family get in comment wars on social media and post ideas that are clearly intended to create tension and disagreement. People are shocked by the fact that other's opinions don't align perfectly with their own.We see more people with a false consensus bias which reduces the quality of our social conversation (and makes it challenging to maintain our own curiosity). False Consensus Bias = People have a tendency to overestimate the extent to which other people think the same way that they do. The solution to the challenge is housed in the...
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Empathy Mapping – A Versatile Tool for your Toolbox

Empathy Mapping – A Versatile Tool for your Toolbox

One of my favourite tools, when I'm working on innovation, strategic planning, marketing, or even just preparing for an important meeting where a key decision is needed, is Empathy Mapping. Empathy Mapping is a way to discover new insights into people, customer segments, or personas you have developed for your new product or marketing campaign. Those insights will help you to position your new product around the value it creates. They provide you with a glimpse into a change in behaviours or approach which hinders your ability to push a project forward. New insights will help you identify new differentiating features which give you an advantage in the market.Ultimately Empathy Mapping is about understanding people better by reflecting on them and attempting to put yourself in their shoes.(more…)...
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Addressing Your Leadership Blind Spots (Yes You Have Them)

Addressing Your Leadership Blind Spots (Yes You Have Them)

We would all like to think that we are completely aware as leaders of what is happening around us and completely self-aware of how we are contributing to it but here is a harsh reality:You probably are missing a lot... you have blind spots.No matter how much time we invest in personal development, leadership development, and improving our skills as managers we all have blind spots in our leadership. We aren't seeing some important things that affect the performance of our organization, our people, and our outcomes.Those blind spots may lead you to make poor choices (as they did recently with Wells Fargo and their "incentives"), they may be contributing to a poor office culture which you as the leader don't see, or they may simply be limiting your employee's engagement in their work which leads to poor productivity, outcomes, and likely loss of some of your talented team members.The reality is that every leader has blind spots... you aren't...
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Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone

Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Neale Donald Walsch Your comfort zone is the behavioural space where your patterns and routines minimize your stress and risk with a situation. It provides you with mental security and provides you with the obvious benefits of basic happiness, reduced anxiety, and lower stress. It is also one of the most important challenges to your success and enjoyment of life. If you stay in your comfort zone you may be less stressed, but you will also be learning less, experiencing less, learning less, and growing less.The idea of "stepping out of your comfort zone" isn't just a great sound bite or quote. It actually stems from the research of Robert M Yerkes and John D Dodson in 1908 where they found that to maximize performance they needed to create a state of "relative anxiety" that they called "Optimal Anxiety". This doesn't mean putting someone into a completely uncomfortable position. It does mean extending...
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The Millennial Challenge

The Millennial Challenge

Last week I was at the Niagara Economic Summit where they tackled some issues related to employment in the Niagara Region including a power talk on the topic of millennials. The millennial discussion was led by a panel of millennial speakers including Chris Sinclair, Julie Rorison, Allie Hughes, Alyssa Lai, Stephanie Harper, and Stephen Murdoch. In the discussion, the panellists spoke about the way Millennials differ from previous generations. I call this the Millennial Challenge. Gen Y differs in their work styles and their experiences and perceptions of employees and employers. The panellists also shared some strategies for other millennials to get themselves started in the work force.I have recently been doing some work supporting the start-up of a non-profit focused on helping millennials make the leap from student to productive professional. I found the discussion at the Summit fascinating given some research I've been doing in that work. It is one thing to read professional research and perspectives on...
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What Have You Done For Me Lately?

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

I was speaking with someone recently who had recently been downsized from a company that they had been with for over 15 years. Over that 15 years they had moved up the corporate ladder and were regarded as a rising star in the organization early in their career. Over the past couple of years however their political "stock" had started to fall as the organization had shifted their focus and direction slightly and there had been some turnover in the senior management team. Ultimately this individual had been part of a broad set of job reductions that the company had taken to improve productivity.They were lamenting the fact that they had given 15 years of their life and hard work to an organization that didn't appreciate that legacy and they were feeling very "hard done by" by the whole situation. Having recently gone through a similar experience myself it gave me a great opportunity to reflect on what was different...
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