high tension

When Tension is High, Intellect Isn’t

We are blessed with wonderful intellects. In the blink of an eye, we can solve problems and find answers to our questions.

Yet whenever we are in a high-tension situation (examples: a political fight in the office, an angry client, an exam, a conflict at home, a presentation, a budget issue, or anything that feels tense or heavy), thinking our way out is really going about things the long way. When our buzz is low, so are our abilities to think, act, and collaborate.

The easy way is to raise our buzz. Whatever tense situation you face, envision the desired end state without concern for how to get there. Then focus on thinking good-feeling thoughts.

Raising your buzz is the speedy way.


In your corner,


PS: This works even when we are not directly involved in a situation. If others are fighting, freaking out, or otherwise tense and running a low buzz, envision them having resolved their problem (without concern for how) and focus yourself on honest, good-feeling thoughts. It only takes one person in the room doing this to change the dynamics strongly for the better.

PPS: Take care not to let on too much, though. They may start calling you something like a miracle worker.


Today’s photo credit: Beaulawrence via photopin cc

What now?

How to Pick the Best Few Things To Do

They say that we can be most productive not by getting more done but by picking the few best things to do. But how to choose which are the best few? When our days are packed with meetings and emails, texts and to dos, it’s hard to get a handle on what is best to do. And we end up defaulting to whatever is recent (all those fresh emails!) or the urgent (all those people jumping up and down for our attention).

Instead, let’s maintain an inventory of all we could do. We can fill it to the brim with everything we might need to do something about sooner or later. Dump it all in, at any time. We then organize the inventory into things we may do but not soon, things we will do as soon as possible, things we need to file for later reference, and things we will do on or by a certain date. The rest gets tossed. We clean the inventory daily to keep it fresh. We do a deeper refresh of the inventory weekly to stay strategic.

With our inventory in place, we get to engage a very clever and oft-forgotten part of our minds. This part turns out to be excellent at picking from such an inventory the very best, most important thing to do next.


In your corner,


PS: To build such and inventory, start here or here and here.


Why Do We Need Employee Alignment?

Employee alignment and engagement are fairly recent workplace improvement trends. Employee alignment is the practice of getting everyone behaving in ways that deliver strategic goals. Employee engagement is the practice of getting them to feel good about their work and workplace.

Both are valuable; they can indeed improve an organization’s performance. And did you notice how both are done to employees? Lying just beneath the surface here is that old industrial-age idea that employees are like factory machines, human resources to be organized and managed.

What would your organization look like if you practiced doing things with them?


In your corner,


PS: Think win-win.


Today’s photo credit: jared via photopin cc

black hat

When Our Habits Go Rogue

We are all blessed with the ability to form habits. Our habits keep us safe (we look both ways before crossing the street) and help us do complex things with ease (if we had to think about how to drive a car, we’d crash every day).

Of course, we can have bad habits. Bad habits include addictions and compulsions. And they include good habits that have gone rogue.

Rogue habits used to work well for us; they were part of our inner circle of success tools. Say, for example, we developed the habit as a kid of getting forceful when challenged. Or maybe we clammed up in unfamiliar situations. We didn’t have to think about it: challenged = forceful, unfamiliar = clam. We received regular, positive reinforcement because these habits kept us safe and sane through our school years.

These habits continued to serve us as we moved into the work world. More reinforcement! At some point in our career, though, these habits stopped being effective. As we gained experience and responsibility, these or similar habits stopped helping and started hurting our cause. We experienced increased resistance from others. And we couldn’t see that our beloved habits, the things that kept us successful for so long, had gone rogue.

What to do? First, we need to know what our rogue habits are. Have a 360-degree assessment done. Or ask a dozen people who know you what might be a rogue habit that is important enough to address. Listen carefully and thank people for their responses. No arguments, no explanations. Just, “Thank you.”

Second, select the one rogue habit that seems to be generating the most resistance with others. Commit to replacing this habit. Third, go back to your colleagues and ask for their tips on how you might replace the rogue habit. Select the tips you think are best and implement them. Finally, go again to your colleagues to ask how they think you are doing and what other advice they might offer.

Anytime you experience resistance, consider that it may be due to a success habit gone rogue.


In your corner,



PS: We often do not need to stamp out the actual behavior contained in our rogue habit. We can learn to use it intentionally in the rare occasions when it’s appropriate.


Today’s photo credit: JadiKreatif via photopin cc

when life gives you lemons

What Stands Between You and Delight

The only thing between you and your delight is your thinking. Whatever you are focusing on at work or at home that has you feeling badly tends to remain in place.

I know; it is so counterintuitive. When we see trouble we want to press harder. We think we need to figure things out. We need to do more, to force ourselves and the world around us to yield.

But let’s recognize why. Driving our need to press is quite a damaging belief. We believe that whatever we need to succeed is scarce, hard to come by, and available only with luck or hard work. And it just isn’t.

What you need is right there, inside you–part of you. Feel good to access it.

Relax. Allow. Ease up.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Jill Clardy via photopin cc


I Am Busy


We hear this all the time. It is a common response to questions like, “How are you?” and “How was your day?” What do we hope to convey when we say that we are busy? Do we think we need to appear as harried as everyone else? Is it some sort of band of courage? Do we hope that becoming very busy will somehow carry us through to being not busy? Do we equate busy with productivesuccessful, or happy? Are we just hoping to avoid speaking about our day, week, or career? Or are we staying busy for fear of what might happen otherwise?

Of course, we may sometimes truly enjoy being busy. It feels wonderful to be atop our game and rocking it.

But saying, “I am busy,” has a weird way of locking us into being busy. It cements the state of busyness in our minds. Unless we are really enjoying it, let’s stop saying, “I am busy,” and start finding alternative things to say that feel great to say.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Cheng I via photopin cc


Our First Reaction May Be Wrong

We may be reacting incorrectly when we want to move others. In our desire to lead, sell, or influence, our knee-jerk reaction usually is to tell, impress, explain, or justify.

Yet we never need to pitch, wow, push, or convince. We do not have to impress people with who we are, what we have done, or what we are good at.

Instead, we listen. We invest our time to understand who they are and what they need, want, desire. We then explore with them how we both can have our needs, wants, and desires met by working together. This way is less stressful and generates much less friction between them and us. It engenders respect, relationship, and results.

Let this be our first reaction to move others.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: onkel_wart (thomas lieser) via photopin cc


We Are All In Sales

In his book, To Sell Is Human, Dan Pink tells us we are all salespeople now. Regardless of our roles, we each must convince people to part with resources including time, attention, effort, and money.

This can be scary. Dan asked people about the words “selling” and “sales.” Most of them conjured an image of a cheap-suited, slimey, old-school used car salesman. Who wants to be like that? Yuck-o.

The good news is that none of us need ever be like that. Whether we are leading, selling, or influencing others, we need only get good  at honest, authentic, and effective win-win-or-let’s-not-play conversations. That is, we learn what others really want, we express what we really want, and we explore with them how to make that happen.

So much better.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit (at least in part): boeke via photopin cc


Far-Fetched Fantasies of Success

We are so used to thinking what could go wrong. We dive into far-fetched fantasies to explore the worst possible things that could happen. Flitting from this topic to that, we go through our days often not even aware of this bad-feeling monologue.

One antidote: write down all the ways it could go right. Pick something important to you. Dive into far-fetched fantasies to explore the wonderful, simple, unexpected, and easy ways the best possible things could happen.

Give it a try.

What’s the worst best that could happen if you did?


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Road Fun via photopin cc

toward the sun

The Direction You Face Matters A Lot

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” – Walt Whitman

There are things that we have wanted for a while and have not yet received. They have eluded us because we’ve been facing the shadows. We seem to think that the way to happiness is to master the shadows: getting great at focusing on everything that is going wrong or that could go wrong.

The way to happiness is happiness, Sunshine. Feel good. Then Act. And happiness begets good results. No amount of worry, defensiveness, or other shadow-mastery skills can ever bring you the happiness and  results you desire.

Which way are you facing?


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: JusDaFax via photopin cc