Monthly Archives: December 2010

the curious case of “someday syndrome”


Maybe it’s the close of 2010 and the promise of what will come in the New Year, but I am in love with this new post I just found on zenhabits.com. A guest post from Alex Fayle of the Someday Syndrome blog, it has really hit a lot of hot spots that have been circling my brain for the last few months. I hope it is helpful for all of you as well! Happy New Year!

“11 Ways to Cure Someday Syndrome

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Alex Fayle of the Someday Syndrome blog.

Someday Syndrome: not doing what you want to because you don’t know what it is, because you’re procrastinating about it, or because you have too much stuff getting in your way.

Everyone suffers from Someday Syndrome at some point in their lives, often catching it repeatedly. For me, most recently, I’d been saying that I really should give running a try without doing anything about it.

You probably have something similar going on in your life – a project, a task, a goal – that you just haven’t got around to doing yet. Right?

I could quote Nike and say: Just Do It, but if it were that simple Someday Syndrome wouldn’t exist. In my own case, it wasn’t until my body rebelled and refused to sleep from lack of exercise that I finally got started.

I decided that here had to be an easier way than waiting for pain to push me into getting over myself and getting on with my goals. So I came up with this: 11 ways to cure Someday Syndrome so that others don’t need to suffer through a cure.

1. Be you. This is The Happiness Project’s number one Happiness Commandment. I hate team sports, so there’s no way I’d play football (soccer). Running allows me to exercise when I want and I can do it on my own or with a friend. Perfectly me.
Maybe you’re not doing something because in reality, it doesn’t fit with who you are. If so, dump the idea and the expectations that likely came along with it, and go find something that suits you better.

2. Clear out the junk. If you don’t know what would suit you better, it could be because your mind and emotions are all cluttered up. I mean, seriously, if your mind’s in chaos, how could you possibly make a clear decision on getting rid of your somedays? The clutter I’m talking about includes the negative thoughts (like me thinking that I’d never be able to run more than 30 seconds without dying), or negative attitudes (I’m too lazy to run).
There are some great tools available in the Simplicity category of ZenHabits. Use them.

3. Know what you want. And why you want it. If you are going cure Someday Syndrome, you’ll need to know details about that desire and the reasons behind it.
And if you don’t know what that is, the blogosphere is full of blogs ready to help you figure out your dreams – Someday Syndrome and ZenHabits are two examples, but you can find others on the PluginID website on Glen’s Personal Development page.

4. Make a grand plan. I say “grand” because this is the big picture plan. Don’t get carried away. Planning can feel like action, but really it’s no different than talking. Until you actually do something, you’re still procrastinating.
I have a goal of running 20K next November. That’s enough for now. Starting is more important than getting into detailed plans.

5. Take one step at a time. The only details you need to choose at this point ‘are’ first steps. I get overwhelmed by details. When I look past the big picture I don’t just see a few details – I see all of them, therefore I focus on just the next two or three things that I’m going to do.
I know what I need to do to get started (the first two months of training). That’s enough.

6. Ignore the rest. That’s right. Ignore everything else in the goal except what you’re working on. We often use comparisons of where we are now to where we want to be as a form of procrastination. While checking in is always a good thing, we can do it when each small task is completed, and not in the middle of a task.
On my running days, when I’m in the middle of my current workout, I don’t think about what’s coming up next week. Why would I want to freak myself out?

7. Get help. Daniel Gilbert in his book Stumbling on Happiness, says that the best route to figuring out if our goals will actually make us happy is to talk to others who have done it.
I also try to be lazy when I can be, so if someone else has done the work (like this Couch-to-5K Running Plan), then there’s no need to waste my time coming up with something new, now is there?

8. Don’t compare. Be careful when you get help, because the dream-shattering tendency to compare lurks nearby. Leo talks about the bad side to comparisons in his post: Life’s Enough. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.
Enough said. (Yes, I’m taking my own advice about Getting Help and moving on.)

9. Be uncomfortable. Judith Sills in her book The Comfort Trap, or What If You’re Riding a Dead Horse? talks about how we might be terribly unhappy, but we’re comfortable so we don’t do anything about the unhappiness. Happiness is a risk, but the current situation even if it’s painful is safe.
Which would you prefer? Comfortably in pain and unhappy or uncomfortably blissful? I live my life the second way and would recommend that you always choose the uncomfortable option.

10. Celebrate the process as well as the end. I don’t mean celebrations like Dash’s Grade 3 “graduation ceremony” from The Incredibles. I mean acknowledge your progress. I Tweet my runs and mention them on my Facebook status. I also talk with other runners and we talk progress and tips.
And in turn this sharing inspires others and helps them move past their own Somedays and toward achieving their goals.

11. Don’t stop at the easy point. Wait a second. Most lists are only ten points. Why does this one have eleven?
Because it’s important to push yourself just a little bit further than you think you can go. Although my big goal is running 20K within a year, I’ve committed to running 7K on December 31st.

So, while you’re celebrating and taking it one step at a time, come up with one unexpected action you can take that’ll add energy, excitement and a bit of fear to your goal.

Believe me, that bit of fear will probably be the best motivator you’ve ever found.

For more from Alex Fayle, check out his blog, Someday Syndrome (or subscribe to his feed).

If you liked this article, please share it on del.icio.us, StumbleUpon or Digg. I’d appreciate it. 🙂 “

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/75c47Z/zenhabits.net/11-ways-to-cure-someday-syndrome/

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“the anti-to-do list”


Courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek: http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/dec2010/ca2010126_748962.htm

The Stop-Doing List

Want to be more innovative? Stop doing all the stuff that is wasting time and sapping energy!

 

 The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say “no” to almost everything.—Warren Buffet

We love lists. We love writing things down and checking them off. In our fast-paced lives, lists comfort us. They keep us on track. They confirm that we’re actually accomplishing something. They allow us to stop thinking about one thing and start thinking about another.

Right now, people all around the world are hunkering down to set strategy for the coming year. So we offer you a timely suggestion: Instead of making a “to-do” list, why not make a “stop-doing” list? In other words, focus on the essential, not the important.

What’s the difference between the two? The essentials are emotional; the important is rational. The essentials go on a to-die-for list; the important you put on a to-do list.

It’s easy to spend your time on the important—for example, coming up with a new product to satisfy the sales force’s desire to offer something new. But necessary as that is, doing so isn’t really going to inspire anyone. In other words, it is not essential.

In contrast, creating a culture that celebrates failure—because if you don’t take risks, you will never develop a game-changing product or service—is an essential belief that can shape everything your organization does.

The Art of Sacrifice

A classic example in Innovationland is using your best people to work solely on line extensions and other evolutionary products and services. Sure, they get it done, but only at the expense of the truly revolutionary initiatives that went untouched because they were busy doing less meaningful (and profitable) work. Line extensions: important. Game-changing products and services: essential.

The most seasoned leaders have come to recognize that what they are not going to have their people focus on is just as important as what they are going to have their teams focus on doing. (And so their best people only work on projects that are going to have the highest impact for the company.)

Strategy and positioning have both been described as “the art of sacrifice.” Therefore, to have either a powerful strategy or a true market position requires that leaders take the time to create a “stop-doing” list.

Smart leaders know which types of engagements, clients, and employees are a fit—and which should be avoided. A not-so-smart company takes on all kinds of engagements, clients, and employees. It spends more on marketing. It makes less money because it is constantly learning how to do new things, how to deliver on more and more commitments.

When a company finally bites the bullet and lands on a tight positioning, it makes it far easier for its potential customers and employees to find them.

Create a Clearing

Entrepreneurial-minded idea people naturally avoid “stop-doing” lists. They want to solve all kinds of problems. They don’t want to turn away either business or an opportunity. A “stop-doing” list means they have to agree not to engage with particular sets of challenges customers may have.

Creative types frenetically move from one problem to another, one important (but not essential) problem to another. Their energy and enthusiasm are contagious. Unknowingly they start small fires of distraction throughout an organization. It’s like a handyman who is constantly running around your home fixing things (like a squeaky door) that are not broken. Meanwhile your furnace does not work, and it’s 20 degrees outside. Your job is to point him toward the furnace and challenge him to fix it now (like no one else can).

The same holds true when it comes to setting strategy. Before you focus on what you need to do, you must create a clearing by identifying what you will no longer do. This type of instruction frees up your best thinkers to align on and execute what matters most to your organization.

Before you and your senior leadership team head off-site to plan your key initiatives for next year, ask all the members to come armed with two things. First, ask them to provide the name of an activity your company should halt because it saps energy and produces little real or perceived benefit. This can be any activity from any department. Some examples include “We should stop”:

• Serving this type of customer

• Providing this type of service

• Orchestrating this type of company event

• Marketing in this way

• Using this type of process to achieve X

• Employing this HR practice

• Manufacturing X

Start your management meeting by discussing the things you are no longer going to do. Once you have determined what should go on the “stop-doing” list, you’ve created an opportunity to focus on the five or six core initiatives that really matter. Agree on those and assign accountability.

Old habits die hard, so it is now your job to check in with your team members quarterly to make sure they have not slipped back into the practices that you all agreed you should stop using.

The best leaders have come to understand that the likelihood of market success is closely tied to how well they focus their teams’ attentions. You don’t want your big brains jumping from little challenge to little challenge. You want them laser-focused on the biggest challenges, the biggest opportunities, the most important company issues. When you can make this happen, you fulfill the promise of good leadership to your team. You also reward them with the efficiency and profits that make the business engine hum. You’ll find innovation will come easier. We promise.

G. Michael Maddock is chief executive officer, and Raphael Louis Vitón is president of Maddock Douglas, an innovation consultancy that helps clients invent, brand, and launch new products, services, and business models.

first post for create richmond!


I was too excited not to share my first official post for the Create Richmond blog – a new creative group and now growing online forum that is brainchild of my husband, most know him online as @Sebacore, and one of his creative confidants, @ElleDmytryszyn!

First! A bit about Create:

“Welcome to the create richmond blog!

Our mission is to inspire creativity as well as provide support and motivation for the socially awkward creatives living and breathing in Richmond, Virginia.

Our vision is to create a group for creative, fun people to share ideas and motivate others in a casual and comfortable environment in hopes of gaining experience and building a strong portfolio.

We value: creativity | inspiration | encouragement | experience | ideas | knowledge | opportunity.

create is a group of people who get together to chat about creative topics such as:

  • Art
  • Books
  • Design
  • Marketing | Communications
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Writing

Want to learn more? Click here: Create

Next, my first official post – which is accompanied by a few initial entries and many more to come!

Victory Before Defeat

I attend a local gym that displays a sign on the door that reads, “You’ve made it here, that’s half the battle.”  I’ve been going there for over a year, and every time I read that sign before pushing myself that extra step further I feel so much better about myself.  It is so easy to talk yourself out of the simplest tasks – to be overwhelmed by creating a routine, by packing a gym bag each day, changing from work clothes to gym clothes (not to mention leaving work at the door), driving over to the gym, finding a parking space, picking the machine that feels right, ignoring the people all around you with their own interesting workout habits, and staying on until you have reached the goals you have set once you are on.  But after all of that, you eventually find your groove……read on for more!

 

 

communication tips for speaking with your supervisors


Jodi Glickman, founder of Great on the Job consulting firm (follow on Twitter at @greatonthejob) recently wrote a post entitled “Why It’s Better to Be Smart and Wrong than Just Silent” through the Harvard Business Review.  This simply brilliant post is full of just what we need to remind ourselves before we step into the difficult role of making change happen for our positions, our firms, and our own endeavors.

“I’m always amazed when I hear about smart, talented people going to their supervisors to ask for guidance using phrases like, “What do you think I should do?” Or, “How should I…?”

Let’s assume that you’ve gotten to where you are in life precisely because you’re smart, well-educated and have considerable experience in your field. Or, you’re young, ambitious and a good problem-solver. Either way, the question, “How should I ____?” should never leave your lips.

As a young professional or junior executive, it’s not crazy to think you won’t know what to do all of the time. Having limited or bad information is a reality many of us face on a regular basis. What we do in that situation, however, is up to us.

When you’re not sure what to do or how to proceed, don’t start with a blank slate and ask for help. Instead, start with what you do know, state your intended direction (and rationale behind it) and then get the buy-in or feedback of your manager. I’ve suggested this before, but here’s an example of how it could work:

Meet Jonathan, a young analyst at an accounting firm. Jonathan was working on building out financial projections for a start-up business and he was stumped. Jonathan didn’t have good information for making revenue growth or profit margin assumptions. It would be easy for Jonathan to get frustrated and just call up his boss and ask him what to do.

But if I’m Jonathan’s boss, I don’t want to do the legwork for him to figure out what he should do. I want him to come to me with an opinion. I want him to put a stake in the ground and give me an idea of what he thinks he should do. I want him to lay out his argument for or against going in a certain direction or using a certain set of assumptions, and then get my feedback or opinion on whether that’s the right course of action.

Let’s say Jonathan comes to me and says:

I want to talk to you about the financial projections for the Zeller project. There isn’t much information available from Zeller to help us build out revenue growth rates and profit margins. However, I’ve looked at some comparable companies, and I think a revenue growth rate of 4% a year is reasonable and a profit margin of 25% is a good ballpark number, and I think we should go with that. How does that sound to you?

If Jonathan is right and I agree with him, he’s just showed me how smart he is.

If I disagree with him, he’s still done himself a favor by demonstrating his thought process and making his opinion heard.

Here’s what I might say:

Actually, Jonathan, I think 4% is probably low. Based on the company’s product development efforts, I think you should assume a more aggressive growth rate of about 7% and hold margins constant at 22%.

How does Jonathan sound now? Does he sound dumb because I disagreed with him? He doesn’t. Jonathan’s analysis turned out to be wrong, but at least it had merit — it was well thought-out and based on research.

Even though I didn’t agree with Jonathan, at least I knew he put some thought into the problem. His suggestion also likely made it easier for me to respond and give advice. I didn’t have to run the initial numbers myself; I could simply integrate the additional information I had at my disposal to come up with a better answer. In effect, he helped me get part way towards the right answer.

Contrast this conversation with the one is which Jonathan comes to me and says:

I need some help with the Zeller financial projections. There’s limited information available and I don’t know what assumptions to use for revenue growth rates and profit margins.

What can I possibly think of Jonathan in this conversation? Is he smart? I have no idea. Is he lazy? Maybe. Is he a good problem solver? Your guess is as good as mine.

I’d take the guy whose wrong any day over the one who comes to me with nothing at all and asks me to do his work for him. So don’t keep quiet. Put yourself out there. Think through your issue, come up with some thoughts or ideas around what to do and then put a stake in the ground. Being wrong isn’t terrible. Being passive is.”

Thank you Jodi Glickman!

 

How to Stop Thinking….”You Are So Stupid”


I began following Chris Brogan on Twitter a handful of days ago and just in this time frame have been extremely impressed with several of his posts.  Here is one that recently really hit home for me and I’m sure it will for a lot of you!  As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments.  And thanks for the motivational thoughts Chris Brogan!

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/you-are-so-stupid/

Not you, by the way. You’re smart. But I’ve got something here.

We say the meanest things to ourselves. We do it under our breath quite often. Just a few days ago, I realized that I’ve been scrambling around looking for the right cable to plug into my video camera to do this import function, and I couldn’t find the right one. Out of hundreds of cables (they multiply in my house), I couldn’t find one to fit in the port.

DAYS later, I realize that the cable is fine. I’m trying to plug into the wrong port.

Oh, the curse words I said to myself. Many. Abundant curse words. Of course, I was happy that I’d fixed the problem, but so frustrated that I’d lost days to this, that I’d tried several things in frustration, that I spent another $20 on a cable that won’t plug into anything (yes, I can return it).

WHAT YOU SAY TO YOURSELF MATTERS

The best book I ever read to help with self-esteem was titled (aptly enough) Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem (amazon affiliate link). In that book, I learned how to fire my inner critic and then I decided to hire an inner coach. The critic, you know all too well.

Your inner critic is the person who makes you feel bad about yourself before someone else sneaks in and does it for you. They tell you that your diet won’t work because you’ve already tried diets before. They tell you that you’re not all that attractive, and that he won’t like you, long before you’ve even worked on getting the date. In short, the inner critic is a real bastard.

My inner coach is pretty nice. He’s gruff sometimes, but in that “get shaking, Brogan” kind of way. There’s one really tricky catch. My inner critic voice comes naturally. We have it built in. The inner coach, I have to fake. I had to visualize him (he looks like a gym teacher), and I had to give him a voice (he’s a bit raspy, and now that I’m thinking about it, it’s basically Coach Bill Belichick of the Patroits, only working for me). And I have to really force him to say nice and encouraging things.

NEGATIVE WORDS ADD UP

The thing is, when I don’t do that, I let the negative words get to me. It’s really easy to tell yourself that you’re stupid. Guess what? The more you tell yourself that, the more you’ll believe it. So instead, what could you say? “Wow, I’m frustrated, but I’m glad I solved that.” I guess that’s good enough for now.

COUNT NEGATIVE WORDS

Want to scare yourself? Take a little piece of paper and a pen and keep them handy all day. Every time you think of something negative to say to yourself, tally it with a mark. By the end of the day, I promise you that you’ll have 37 or so marks minimally. If you’re honest with yourself and mark every one, it might be closer to a few hundred. Now, would you take that from other people? Would you want to hang around with someone who says 200 negative things to you a day? Every day? I’m voting on no.

FIRE YOUR INNER CRITIC. HIRE AN INNER COACH

You can do this all on your own. No one even has to know about it. You wouldn’t have known, if I didn’t tell you. Try it. Just in time for the holidays, let’s give it a go together. Shall we?

 

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