This week’s post takes its inspiration from Steve McCurry’s latest collection of photos of people Leaving and Coming (see below), drawing on this time when we celebrate out one year and in the next to mark some of the in-between spaces and places and thinking and ways of being….
People’s lives would be more fulfilling if they we were given greater freedom in the workplace writes Henry Porter
I began to notice the creativity of the manager of the Pret a Manger coffee shop, close to where I live, after he showed extraordinary kindness to a woman with Down’s syndrome in her 20s. Well, maybe it wasn’t that remarkable, but it was certainly natural and spontaneous and beautifully done… [When she wanted] some attention from the manager, he stepped from behind the counter and gave her a big, affectionate hug.
It was moving and she was evidently delighted, so I took a comment card from the holder on the wall and wrote a note to the CEO of Pret telling him he had a gem on his staff.
The company told me that they would give the manager some kind of reward and since then I have taken a secret pleasure at being the unseen agency of a little good fortune. However, this is not the whole point…
Ten days ago, I found him on the floor with two-dozen paper coffee cups figuring out how to make a Christmas star from the cups and red lids. I have to say it didn’t look too promising, but the next time I went in, there was a Christmas tree made entirely of cups and lids, which wasn’t bad at all.
The Pret man came to mind when last week I heard the latest report from the Office of National Statistics which suggests we are currently using just 15% of our intelligence during work and that the nation’s human capital – a slightly artificial construct of skills, knowledge and continuous learning – is way down on five years ago. There appears to be a slump in the nation’s creativity.
And what has the Pret man got to do with this trend? Well, the way he does his job embodies several of the necessary requirements for creativity: the confidence to experiment, openness and time to play. Clearly the company allows his character to express itself but you can well imagine the grimmer coffee shop chains seeing his restless experimentation and goodwill as being a challenge, maybe even a threat to the orderly running of the business.
Two weeks ago, I wrote here about the British commitment to single issue causes and how all the originality with which these are prosecuted fails to be expressed in the political life of the nation. It seems that the same is true of our working lives. It is just short of a tragedy that, on average, people are only required to use 15% of their intelligence at work – depressing for each one of us, for the economic health of the nation and the general sense of well being.
We could be so much more and have lives that were greatly more fulfilled if we only started to find ways of allowing people to be a little more creative in whatever they do. I am not talking about web companies and media agencies, where a creative environment is a priority, but all those humdrum offices we find ourselves in, where the power structures, politics, sexism, fear, orthodoxy, imaginary pressure and bloody stupid rules prevent us from making the most of what we are, or becoming what we could be.
A few months ago, I was at a large meeting of about 25 people, which after a couple of hours produced very little. We were all there for the same purpose and believed in the same thing, but some stood on ceremony, others were too afraid to speak openly or kept their powder dry so they could better fix things by email later. Then a group went to the pub. They were at play, inhibitions fell away and ideas started flowing, and this was because there were no hierarchies; no one was defending their position; and, crucially, people listened with respect and encouragement. The golden moment is usually short-lived, especially in a pub, but that kind of open exchange, in which no one dominates and the default cynicism of British life is absent, can be terrifically creative, as well as fun…
Sooner, rather than later, the subconscious, [if it gets] left to get on with the problem in its own way, produces the thing that you want, or you didn’t even know was there. And that applies to unpressured groups of people, who are at play but maybe also a little focused, and ingenuity wells up from the subconscious and people find themselves speaking the idea before they knew they’d had it – the idea that is born on the lips, as Pepys once said.
There are countless inspiring videos about creativity on the web, likeElizabeth Gilbert’s Ted talk of 2009 Sir Ken Robinson’s of 2006 and the excellent lecture by John Cleese from 20 years ago. All of them come to the same conclusions about the importance of play, the absence of a fear of failure; openness and lack of pressure.
I would add to these the quality that my friend and the founder of Charter 88 and openDemocracy Anthony Barnett emphasises: generosity of spirit. And that takes us back to the manager of Pret a Manger, who, I believe, would not be nearly as creative if he were not so generous and kind-hearted.
Where does that leave us? Well, apart from encouraging the well-appreciated conditions for creativity in the workplace, we perhaps need to understand that the structures for taking decisions and driving things forward are not the same ones we should use to find innovation and make the most of the unexploited 85% of our intelligence. Power and hierarchies are the enemy of creativity.
…It might sound like science fiction, but researchers are increasingly focusing on the relationship between the knowledge and skills our brains absorb during the day and the fragmented, often bizarre imaginings they generate at night. Scientists have found that dreaming about a task we’ve learned is associated with improved performance in that activity (suggesting that there’s some truth to the popular notion that we’re “getting” a foreign language once we begin dreaming in it). What’s more, researchers are coming to recognize that dreaming is an essential part of understanding, organizing and retaining what we learn—and that dreams may even hold out the possibility of directing our learning as we doze.
While we sleep, research indicates, the brain replays the patterns of activity it experienced during waking hours, allowing us to enter what one psychologist calls a neural virtual reality. A vivid example of such reenactment can be seen in this video, made as part of a 2011 study by researchers in the Sleep Disorders Unit at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris. They taught a series of dance moves to a group of patients with conditions like sleepwalking, in which the sleeper engages in the kind of physical movement that is normally inhibited during slumber. They then videotaped the subjects as they slept. Lying in bed, eyes closed, the woman on the tape does a faithful rendition of the dance moves she learned earlier—“the first direct and unambiguous demonstration of overt behavioral replay of a recently learned skill during human sleep,” writes lead author Delphine Oudiette.
Of course, most of us are not quite so energetic during sleep—but our brains are busy nonetheless. While our bodies are at rest, scientists theorize, our brains are extracting what’s important from the information and events we’ve recently encountered, then integrating that data into the vast store of what we already know—perhaps explaining why dreams are such an odd mixture of fresh experiences and old memories. A dream about something we’ve just learned seems to be a sign that the new knowledge has been processed effectively…
Robert Stickgold, one of the Harvard researchers, suggests that studying right before bedtime or taking a nap following a study session in the afternoon might increase the odds of dreaming about the material. But some scientists are pushing the notion of enhancing learning through dreaming even further, asking sleepers to mentally practice skills while they slumber. In a pilot study published in The Sport Psychologistjournal in 2010, University of Bern psychologist Daniel Erlacher instructed participants to dream about tossing coins into a cup. Those who successfully dreamed about the task showed significant improvement in their real-life coin-tossing abilities. Experiments like Erlacher’s raise the possibility that we could train ourselves to cultivate skills while we slumber. Think about that as your head hits the pillow tonight….
This Week’s Brilliant Quote
“Penalties, and rewards, change the meaning of the task to which they are applied. When you’re deciding whether to motivate someone, you should first think about whether your incentive might crowd out their willingness to perform well without an incentive. Crowding out could occur because of a change in the perception of the task, or because you have insulted the person you are trying to encourage or discourage. Cash, in the end, really isn’t king; some things can’t be bought. Rewarding people on the basis of what they really value—their time, their self-image as good citizens—is often much more motivating than just slapping down, or taking away, a couple of bills.”
—Uri Gneezy and John A. List, The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life
A new large-scale experiment on over 10,000 students finds that a one-hour tour of an art museum can increase empathy, tolerance and critical thinking skills…
The results showed that, compared with those who had not been to the museum, students who had visited:
- Thought about art more critically.
- Displayed greater empathy about how people lived in the past.
- Expressed greater levels of tolerance towards people with different views.
The museum had clearly been a mind-expanding experience for the young people.Interestingly, the improvements were larger when the students were from more deprived backgrounds.
Visiting the museum also made students more likely to want to visit art museums again in the future. This could create a cascading effect over their lifetime, continuing to boost critical thought, empathy and tolerance.
What is art for?
Field trips are often seen by teachers and students as purely for pleasure, rather than for educational purposes.
But the authors point out that museums are about more than that:
“We don’t just want our children to acquire work skills from their education; we also want them to develop into civilized people who appreciate the breadth of human accomplishments. The school field trip is an important tool for meeting this goal.” (Greene et al., 2014)
The entries were submitted, the books were read, the shortlists determined, and we are now ready to announce the category winners of the 2013 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards!
In the Personal Development category…
G. Richard Shell’s Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success from Portfolio takes the top spot.
“There is no ‘secret’ you need to discover. And you do not have ‘one true purpose’ for your life that is your duty to find or die trying. The raw materials for success are tucked away inside you and your next big goal is probably within arm’s reach—if only you have the clarity of mind to see it”
Springboard, page 10-11
Success is an oft-tackled subject in business literature, so it’s easy to be cynical about there being any new angle to take on the matter. But G. Richard Shell, author of the classic Bargaining for Advantage and The Art of Woo achieves it in Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success by presenting us with a book that doesn’t define success as much as it provides readers with tools to define it accurately and authentically for themselves.
Shell, who literally teaches the course on success at Wharton, opens his book with a retelling of his own circuitous path to success, written with great humility and insight, and the entire book is told in a voice that is both instructive and generous. “What is Success?” and “How Will I Achieve It?” are questions you will be able to answer for yourself once you close the covers of this book.
The other books in our Personal Development shortlist are all books whose writers I have featured over this year in this blog…
- Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change by Shawn Achor, Crown Business
- Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman, Harper
- Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant, Viking Books
- Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, Knopf
In the Leadership category…
Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley & Roger L. Martin from Harvard Business Review Press is our top book.
“The essence of great strategy is making choices—clear, tough choices, like what business to be in and which not to be in, where to play in the business you choose, how you will win where you play, what capabilities and competencies you will turn into core strengths, and how your internal systems will turn those choices and capabilities into consistently excellent performance in the marketplace. And it all starts with an aspiration to win and a definition of what winning looks like.” Playing to Win, page 46
This book relays the strategic approach P&G used over the 10-year period Lafley (with Martin as advisor) led the company to increase its market value to $100 billion. But this isn’t an industry book as much as it is a “story about choices, including the choice to create a discipline of strategic thinking and strategic practice within an organization.” And that’s truly what makes this book so good. It is, indeed, a story, and its two authors are invested in communicating the impressive work done at P&G and teaching this approach to others.
The other books in our Leadership shortlist are…
- Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge By Henry Cloud, HarperBusiness
- Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential By Matthew Kohut, John Neffinger, Hudson Street Press
- Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over–And Collaboration Is in By Peter Shankman, Palgrave MacMillan
- Visual Leaders: New Tools for Visioning, Management, & Organization Change by By David Sibbet, John Wiley & Sons
Happiness starts here: How much control do you really have over your happiness, and how effectively are you pursuing it?
American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks distills 40 years of social science research into a surprising set of answers, suggesting the four essentials are:
- and Work through earned success ~ the belief that you are accomplishing something worthwhile and valuable
Arthur Brooks writes in the New York Times…
HAPPINESS has traditionally been considered an elusive and evanescent thing. To some, even trying to achieve it is an exercise in futility. It has been said that “happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
Social scientists have caught the butterfly. After 40 years of research, they attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events and values. Armed with this knowledge and a few simple rules, we can improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We can even construct a system that fulfills our founders’ promises and empowers all Americans to pursue happiness…
About half of happiness is genetically determined. Up to an additional 40 percent comes from the things that have occurred in our recent past — but that won’t last very long.
That leaves just about 12 percent. That might not sound like much, but the good news is that we can bring that 12 percent under our control. It turns out that choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness, given that a certain percentage is genetic and not under our control in any way.
The first three are fairly uncontroversial. Empirical evidence that faith, family and friendships increase happiness and meaning is hardly shocking. Few dying patients regret overinvesting in rich family lives, community ties and spiritual journeys.
Work, though, seems less intuitive. Popular culture insists our jobs are drudgery, and one survey recently made headlines by reporting that fewer than a third of American workers felt engaged; that is praised, encouraged, cared for and several other gauges seemingly aimed at measuring how transcendently fulfilled one is at work…
…rewarding work is unbelievably important, and this is emphatically not about money. That’s what research suggests as well. Economists find that money makes truly poor people happier insofar as it relieves pressure from everyday life — getting enough to eat, having a place to live, taking your kid to the doctor. But scholars like the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman have found that once people reach a little beyond the average middle-class income level, even big financial gains don’t yield much, if any, increases in happiness.
So relieving poverty brings big happiness, but income, per se, does not…
…the secret to happiness through work is earned success.
This is not conjecture; it is driven by the data. Americans who feel they are successful at work are twice as likely to say they are very happy overall as people who don’t feel that way. And these differences persist after controlling for income and other demographics.
You can measure your earned success in any currency you choose. You can count it in dollars, sure — or in kids taught to read, habitats protected or souls saved…
If you can discern your own project and discover the true currency you value, you’ll be earning your success. You will have found the secret to happiness through your work.
There’s nothing new about earned success. It’s simply another way of explaining what America’s founders meant when they proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that humans’ inalienable rights include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This moral covenant links the founders to each of us today. The right to define our happiness, work to attain it and support ourselves in the process — to earn our success — is our birthright. And it is our duty to pass this opportunity on to our children and grandchildren.
But today that opportunity is in peril. Evidence is mounting that people at the bottom are increasingly stuck without skills or pathways to rise…
This is a major problem, and advocates of free enterprise have been too slow to recognize it. It is not enough to assume that our system blesses each of us with equal opportunities. We need to fight for the policies and culture that will reverse troubling mobility trends. We need schools that serve children’s civil rights instead of adults’ job security. We need to encourage job creation for the most marginalized and declare war on barriers to entrepreneurship at all levels, from hedge funds to hedge trimming. And we need to revive our moral appreciation for the cultural elements of success.
We must also clear up misconceptions. Free enterprise does not mean shredding the social safety net, but championing policies that truly help vulnerable people and build an economy that can sustain these commitments. It doesn’t mean reflexively cheering big business, but leveling the playing field so competition trumps cronyism. It doesn’t entail “anything goes” libertinism, but self-government and self-control. And it certainly doesn’t imply that unfettered greed is laudable or even acceptable.
Free enterprise gives the most people the best shot at earning their success and finding enduring happiness in their work. It creates more paths than any other system to use one’s abilities in creative and meaningful ways, from entrepreneurship to teaching to ministry to playing the French horn. This is hardly mere materialism, and it is much more than an economic alternative. Free enterprise is a moral imperative.
To pursue the happiness within our reach, we do best to pour ourselves into faith, family, community and meaningful work. To share happiness, we need to fight for free enterprise and strive to make its blessings accessible to all.
Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C.
Are both frame and monument
To our spent time,
And too little has been said
Of our coming through and leaving by them.
– Charles Tomlinson
Steve McCurry celebrates the season with another sublime evocative collection of his photos, themed around coming and going, the spaces of transition, the not-places between places, and in these moments of passing thorough he catches and hold our attention in these images, inviting us to stop mid-stream, mid-thought, mid-moment and – well, perhaps just to notice what we notice before we move on with our day…
Since the beginning of time,
doors have symbolized both great opportunities and thwarted dreams.
The open door is a metaphor for new life, a passage
from one stage of life to another, and metamorphosis.
Closed doors often represent rejection and exclusion…
Verb: To give one’s attention to a sound.
Synonym: hear, pay attention, be attentive, concentrate on hearing, lend an ear to, and to be all ears.
We all understand the mechanics of listening. But too often today, when we have the opportunity to listen, we’re content with just passively letting sound waves travel through our ears. That’s called hearing. Listening is something entirely different. It’s essential for leaders to pay attention when others around us have something to say. Why? Because developing better listening skills is the key to developing a better company…
However, when input actually arrives, how authentic are you about listening? Do you pretend to care, just for the sake of getting at what you think you need? Or are you receiving, absorbing and processing the entire message?
We’ve all had moments when we politely smile and nod throughout a dialogue. The speaker may feel heard and validated, but we miss out on potentially valuable information. Or how about those moments when we greet someone in passing with a quick, “Hi. How are you?” and continue moving forward without waiting for a response.
Occasionally, that may happen. But what if it’s a habit? What if others in your organization learn to expect that behavior from you? When people assume their ideas and opinions don’t matter, communication quickly breaks down. This kind of moment isn’t just a missed opportunity for meaningful interaction — it’s a legitimate business issue that puts your organization at risk.
Why Don’t We Listen?
When we’re part of a conversation, but we’re not paying attention, we send the message that we just don’t care. However, our intentions may be quite different. These are the most common reasons why we fail at listening:
• We’re developing a response. Instead of maintaining a clear, open mind when others speak, we quickly start composing our reply or rebuttal. Many smart people tend to jump into that response mode — usually less than 40 words into a dialogue.
• We’re preoccupied by external factors. In today’s multitasking environments, distractions abound. We’re bombarded with noise from things like open floor plans, and a constant barrage of texts, tabs, emails, calls, and calendar notifications.
• It’s not a good time for the conversation. Have you ever been rushing to prepare for a meeting when someone stopped you in the hallway with a simple “Got a moment?” While it may be tempting to comply, it’s wise to simply schedule the discussion for another time. You’ll stay on track for the meeting, and can focus on the request as time permits.
Checked Out? Ideas For Stronger Communication
I ask my team questions and invest time in discussions because I’m interested in their answers. Actually, I need those answers. After all, employee feedback is critical for a more engaged, productive, fulfilled workforce.
To foster better understanding, try asking follow-up questions to verify what people intend to convey, and discover how they feel about what they’re saying. This simple gesture will cultivate a culture of openness and camaraderie. Also, we can use tools to streamline the communication process and help us ask smart questions that reveal more about employees.
However, there’s no point asking questions if we only respond with a nod and then move on. If your mind is too cluttered and your day too busy to engage fully, be honest with your team. Assure them that you’ll get back to them when you’re able. And of course, don’t forget to follow up.
How To Make Mindful Conversation a Habit
Still, many leaders struggle with the art of active listening. That’s why it’s important to learn useful techniques and make practice a part of your life.
Deepak Chopra, MD, observes that leaders and followers ideally form a symbiotic relationship. “The greatest leaders are visionaries, but no vision is created in a vacuum. It emerges from the situation at hand.” Effective leadership begins with observation — knowing your audience and understanding the landscape. Even the most eloquent, powerful speech will fall on deaf ears if the speaker doesn’t listen to the pulse of the audience.
It’s never too soon to start practicing this art. Here are 4 easy tips to improve your ability to listen and lead:
1) Repetition. Repeat anything you find interesting. This helps you recall key points after a conversation ends. It’s also a smart technique when you meet someone new. Repeat their name throughout the discussion. This not only solidifies the name in your memory, but also helps build rapport and trust.
2) Read Between the Lines. Pay special attention when a speaker changes tone and volume, pauses, or breaks eye contact. These subtle signals are clues that can reflect emotional highlights or pain points (anger, sadness, happiness). And body language often reveals what words don’t say.
3) Mouth/Eye Coordination. Looking a speaker in the eye establishes a connection and lets them know you’re listening. But don’t hold their gaze too long. Recent research suggests that eye contact is effective only if you already agree with a speaker’s message. Instead, try looking at the speaker’s mouth. That may feel awkward, but this keeps you focused on what they’re saying — and they’ll know it.
4) Reflection. Seal the deal by thinking back to extract meaning. You may be exhilarated by a great conversation — but without a mental debrief, much of it can be forgotten. Reflection is critical in developing the takeaways (and subsequent actions) that make the discussion valuable. Try mentally organizing important points by associating them with a relevant word or two. Then, in the future, you’ll more easily recall the details.
The art of listening is about much more than exchanging facts. Active listening helps those in your company feel validated and connected with you and your organization. Genuine conversations weave their own path. Give them your time and attention. Along the way, you’ll solve problems and generate new ideas that will have a lasting impact on you, your team and your business.
CJ Goulding offers these great guidelines…
In his bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey explains that truly effective people who expand their influence live a life focused on things that they can change—their circle of influence—and not things they have no power over, which can be categorized in a circle of concern. He says:
Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.
Great tip! And here are some others that will help you to both live within that circle and expand your influence simultaneously!
1. Be proactive.
Expanding influence is not something that happens to people who sit still….Being deliberate and proactive about trying new things, forming new connections, and meeting new people are all ways to become more influential.
2. Be a good listener.
…influential people must first be good listeners. Improving your listening skill allows you to collect new information, build trust and rapport, and makes it easier for others to align with your causes.
3. Stay consistent.
…Consistent people are reliable and are the first ones trusted with new tasks, ideas, projects, and responsibilities.
4. Practice empathy.
Being able to recognize, understand, and share in the emotions and experiences of another person gives you the ability to relate to people on their level. You become a more caring individual who is in tune with the feelings and attitudes of the people surrounding you. And when you can relate to someone, you can influence them, though careful not to manipulate the feelings and emotions you were trusted with.
5. Seek for solution.
…when you are associated with solutions, you will be the first person called, the first person asked to consult, and the first option to resolve issues.
6. Accept responsibility.
…as the old adage states, “take blame when things go wrong, and give credit when things go as planned.” Taking responsibility for your actions and even for the actions of those people you manage allows you to expand your influence by building the trust others have in you and your word.
7. Appreciate others.
A simple THANK YOU goes a long way in person and even further when done publicly. Choose to recognize the efforts of others and lift them up as shining examples for others to see. By doing so you are influencing others by reinforcing what works and what was done right. We all want to be valued and appreciated.
8. Have a vision.
…Without a goal, people may follow your lead for a short time, but the facade will eventually fall apart.
9. Ask the right questions.
Don’t ask why something is happening, ask how you can make it better.
Ask questions like:
How can I leave this situation better than I found it?
How can I meet and get to know people better?
How can I help and inspire the people around me?
How can I be a solution in this situation?
10. Have passion, a fire for what you do.
…alert people to the fire inside. Your enthusiasm for what you do will also draw others alongside you in your quest.
11. Filter the information that you take in.
There is an information overload, an “infobesity” that exists in today’s society. As you expand your influence, realize that there will be information coming in from all sides and at all angles, but that not all of it is useful or well intended. Screening the TV shows and movies you watch, the books you read, and the people whose advice you take allows you to stay focused.
12. Increase your value through education.
Read and educate yourself on areas where you want to grow. … Take classes, read books, do training and anything else possible to round out and expand your life experience, and thus expand your influence.
13. Fine tune your skills.
Constantly work on mastering your skill set. Influential people are not mediocre. Like a bank account, skills need constant deposits to continually grow, so even after you feel you have attained some level of mastery, continuous work is still required to continue to grow and develop.
14. Be upbeat and enthusiastic.
…Upbeat and enthusiastic people attract other upbeat and enthusiastic people… A positive attitude is also extremely contagious, and will carry your influence with it as it spreads.
15. Be a person of integrity and values.
Your description of who you are and your actions should broadcast the same message…
16. Go above and beyond.
Raise the bar… successful and influential people are never mediocre. They never settle for “ok” when great is an option. As Steve Jobs said, “In your life you only get to do so many things and right now we’ve chosen to do this, so let’s make it great.” Make what you do great!
17. Use your influence to bring out the best in others.
…Once you gain influence in a certain area, use your sway to do good things for others and bring the best out in them. Pay your experience forward, whether it is in sharing what you have learned or providing opportunities for them to follow in your footsteps.
The Motivation Guy (also known as Dr. David Facer) writes…
One of the most persistent beliefs leaders tell themselves and employees is that if you can’t measure something, it does not matter.
I can easily refute that belief with two questions:
1. Do you love your partner/spouse, mother, father, or children?
2. If yes (no one has answered no yet), then tell me precisely how much. And when you answer, please pick an amount and a unit of measure. So your answer would be something like, “I love my children 12 gallons,” or “I love my husband six kilometers.”
Naturally, that’s absurd. The love you feel matters a great deal and yet seems impossible to measure.
Employee motivation is a bit like that. It matters a great deal to the well-being of your employees and the financial success of the company. And yet it seems impossible to measure.
But that’s the thing—it is remarkably easy to measure. Here’s how.
- Using yourself as a test case, the first thing you will want to do is upgrade how you think about measurement. Most often you’re thinking in terms of numbers. Instead, think first in terms of categories. Then you can think of numbers.
- Specifically, think in terms of these six categories—or types—of motivation.
- Inherent – You do something because it is fun for you personally
- Integrated – You do something because the purpose and deep meaning of it serves others and is in harmony with your own deep sense of purpose
- Aligned – You do something because it is compatible with your goals and values
- Imposed – You do something because you want to avoid a hassle, drama, or feeling guilty
- External – You do something to gain something outside the task and yourself such as money, status, or reputation
- Disinterested – You do not do something because it just does not matter to you.
- Create a table featuring the six categories above and tally your thoughts, feelings, and what the running dialogue in your head is saying about what type of motivation you experience on each specific situation, task, or goal.
- What pattern do you notice? Most coaching clients with whom I have used this simple technique notice a pattern pretty quickly. In fact, for everything on their to-do list, they usually realize they are experiencing one or two types of motivation. In time, one of them will become the most clear.
- BAM! You just measured your motivation by discerning what type you are experiencing. And, the tally you came up with reveals how intensely you feel one type over the others.
Now you may ask does measuring your motivation using that simple technique even matter?
It absolutely does, because the type of motivation you experience has a big influence on how you go about your daily work—and your probability of success.
More specifically, research reveals that your motivation type has a lot to do with how much creative, out of the box thinking you bring to your work. It greatly influences how persistent you are in the face of tough challenges. It not only explains, itdetermines how enthusiastic, frustrated, or bored you feel about the minutia of your work. And over time, the type of motivation you experience has a lot to do with the decisions you make to stay with the company or leave for somewhere better…
We’ve all been told to “just be yourself” at some point in life.
It’s good advice, but deceptively hard to follow.
“Hive Mind” Compels Us To Think Or Act Like Someone Else
…The term ‘Hive Mind’ comes from the way that honeybees, though individuals, act as a cohesive whole, as if they have a single consciousness. In humans, it happens when a group of people want to get along to the point that they actively suppress their true thoughts and feelings. The unanimous agreement may start from one person saying, “That’s a great idea!” Then the people merge their unique perspectives into a single group perspective. In business, this might mean fewer quality ideas. In life, it could mean losing your identity.
Stereotypes Exist Because Of “Hive Mind”
It’s human to want to belong and find your place in the world. That makes it tempting to “tweak” yourself to be like a stereotype to assure you can fit in with others. If you don’t know yourself, it can be tempting to take on a personality template. But it’s a pretty incredible fact of life that every person is unique, and we need to embrace that! If you don’t embrace it and explore your identity, you might end up living someone else’s life, and feel empty inside as a result.
The way you present yourself to the world is a declaration of your identity. If you dress and act like a stereotype, your unique traits will be hidden behind this more obvious label that everyone is familiar with. I’m not saying it’s wrong to dress in any certain way – that would be contradictory to this article – I’m saying it’s best to avoid “hive mind” in life.
When you purposefully dress and act as a well-known stereotype, there is a greater chance and temptation for you to embrace that cookie-cutter persona instead of being yourself.
When people do this, it’s like they’re actors, playing a role that someone else created. They learn the dialect. They mimic the clothes and body language. And their real traits are held hostage behind this image.
Being Unique Can Be Uncomfortable At First, But It’s Better Long Term
…Diversity is why it’s so important to be yourself. It is one of the most interesting parts of life, and it expands our knowledge and ideas. And the more stereotypical, conforming clones we have in the world, the fewer unique and interesting people we’ll have to learn from. People label themselves because it’s easier at first, but later they feel trapped to live up to this image that isn’t really them.
Security Is Knowing Who You Are
If you live according to a persona or stereotype, some amount of confidence comes with it, because you know how you’re supposed to act in most circumstances. Gangstas are tough and foul-mouthed, hippies are easy-going and peaceful, etc. So when you have any self-doubt, you can simply act your part. But this is a cheap substitute for reacting dynamically from your true identity.
The safety in being yourself comes from knowing yourself better than anyone else. And the more you act like yourself, the more you’ll get to know yourself. And for personal development, knowing your true self equips you to change yourself. The reason most adults are more confident than children is because they’ve had more time to get to know themselves, so they’re less sensitive to the world’s opinion. But as a kid, you’re new and impressionable, and it’s for this reason that so many kids will resort to being an image of someone else rather than themselves. It feels safer.
If you had a precious gem that nobody else in the world had, some people would claim to know about it. Some people might talk bad about it. But only you know the truth about that gem, because that gem is you!
The best tip for being yourself is simple. Don’t try to be anyone else…
In the 5 in 5 report IBM’s top scientists report on what the world, supported by smart sensing and computing, will look like in five years. Last week, Fast Companypreviewed the report with the physicist who heads up the research team: Dr. Bernard Meyerson, IBM Fellow, and Vice President of Innovation.
In five years, cities will be sentient. More buses will automatically run when there are more people to fill them. And doctors will use your DNA to tailor medical advice and smart computing to diagnose and plan treatment for big diseases like cancer not in months, but in minutes.
In five years, physical retail stores will understand your preferences and use augmented reality to bring the web to where shoppers can physically touch it. Sophisticated analytics will allow the classroom (not just the teacher) to track your progress in real time and tailor course work. Digital guardians will protect your accounts and identity, proactively flagging fraudulent use, while maintaining the privacy of your personal information.
In five years, we will have analytical models that allow us to actually change the future and prevent the traffic jam that would have happened if 20 minutes from now if we hadn’t already rerouted lights to stop it.
Here are details about the ways these five predictions will define the future and impact us at a personal level:
The city will help you live in it…
Doctors will use your DNA to keep you well…
Buying local will beat online…
You will have a digital guardian…
The classroom will learn you…
Regina Bright writes…
Holidays can be stressful. The hustle and bustle of work, parenting, in-laws, guests, shopping, traveling, and cooking can seem pretty hectic this time of year.
When I am feeling overwhelmed, I take a timeout to relax and do short meditation exercises. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Begin in a quiet, comfortable area with no distractions. Remember, your goal is to quiet your mind and to remain in the moment. Don’t get discouraged if you are not able to do this the first time.
Sit up straight and tall, feet on the floor, and hands on your stomach. Take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth and release. Notice your ribs expand while the rest of your body is motionless. Breathe deeply, slowly, and smoothly. Your exhale should be twice as long as your inhale.
Focus solely on your breath. If a thought comes up, bring your attention back to your breath. You are in control – resist distractions. Try this exercise daily. Remember meditation is a practice.
Focus on your senses.
Next time you are at the coffee shop, make your focus a cup of hot coffee. Notice the sounds around you – people talking, the steam from the cappuccino machine, the sound of whipped cream topping off a cup of coffee. Notice the colorful ceramic cup, the steam, and the creamer swirling around the rim. Notice the fragrant aroma of the dark coffee beans. Notice the warm liquid going down your throat and warming you. Notice how the warmth of the cup is warming your cold hands. Notice the taste of your favorite winter drink.
Notice what it feels like to slow down and live in the moment – it isn’t a race to get through life!
All of these stories and more are collected together in this week’s Happiness At Work #77 collection, online from Friday 20th December.
Enjoy and have a very happy rejuvenating and connected holiday…