Monday, July 29, 2013

Pain can be your friend

Pain can be your friend
Tim Connor

If you have never experienced emotional pain – you just landed here from another planet.  In this article I am going to only discuss emotional pain and not physical pain. Let me say at the outset that you may find it hard to accept some of my rationale, I know writing it, no, believing it has not always been easy for me.

But first a definition – Pain - severe emotional or mental distress.  Now mine – A negative emotional feeling that fills your heart, mind and gut that impacts you’re every thought, action and decision.

Ever been there?  I’m sure your answer is yes.  The loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, an unexpected negative experience that takes over your entire being, and an event that causes you to lose hope, faith or trust – this list could go on for pages.

I have experienced emotional pain many times during my life and on each occasion my first reaction was always – blame, guilt, anger, resentment or some other negative reaction.  In every case this response did not help me deal with the pain or its cause in a constructive way.  I almost always felt like a victim and I do not have a victim mentality but this pain took me out of what I knew was a better way to handle the situation.  I had to change my mindset about pain.

The journey of redefining pain in my life has not been an easy one as I still now and then fall prey to the implications and outcomes of a pain circumstance but I am making progress and thought I would share with you some of what I have learned.

There are degrees of pain depending on our attachment to a situation, expectation or person.  These degrees can be from mild to totally devastating causing us to lose much of who we really are.

Pain is a teacher but we have to be willing students and we have to do the necessary inner work if we are to come through this pain emotionally, mentally and even physically whole or in one piece.

If you have experienced any emotional pain I don’t need to remind you of the feelings that you experienced or the difficulty of dealing with the circumstances that caused the pain but I would like to share a few things you can consider to help manage or even eliminate the pain.  Having said this, nothing, absolutely nothing I can say or anyone else can say for that matter can cause the pain to leave until you are ready to let it go.  This doesn’t mean that there won’t be memories of the person or event, that there won’t be some lingering effects of the pain, only that you are able to go about your life with this cloud no longer hanging over your every minute and causing you to stress, lose sleep and not be able to find inner peace with what happened.

I believe that most emotional pain is caused by disappointment, expectations not realized, people who behave in difficult ways or circumstances that bring you to your knees.

Pain is a normal part of life as we all experience it sooner or later due to some situation or circumstance we couldn’t control.  The key to using it in a positive way is determined by what you do and how when it strikes.

All emotions are created in the brain and then transmitted to your cells and organs via your neural system.  So to deal with emotional pain that manifests in various parts of your body; your heart, stomach or other places you must first address it in your mind as this is where it begins and continues to impact you until you redirect your thoughts and therefore your actions and better manage this pain.

There are a number of things to consider;

1)  There are some things in life you can control and some you can’t - the trick is to know and accept the difference and then control the things you can and let go of the things you can’t.
2)  There are many ways to interpret events and people.  No two people will see an event, person or situation the same.  The key is to be willing to accept that there are other ways you can interpret what is happening and why.
3)  Don’t let old baggage or history rule your present moments.
4)  Regrets weigh tons and there is nothing you can do to change past events or circumstances but you can learn from them and then act accordingly.
5)  Feel the pain, admit the pain, experience the pain, get in touch with the pain and then let it go.
6)  Life is short – you can live it filled with remorse, grief, guilt or you can admit mistakes, accept circumstances and move on.
7)  Create some mental anchors/distractions to keep you focused on other circumstances.
8)  Count your blessings - no matter what you are losing or have lost you still have more left.
9)  Never let go of faith, hope and the will to live life to the fullest no matter what.
10) Get busy. Start a new activity, make some new friends, get
      involved with a new group, take a trip, pray more, meditate,
      volunteer, start to journal, start a new hobby, read inspiring books – something.

This is just a short list of ways to deal with your pain.  One way I have found that helps me a great deal is to read more – anything – self-help, fiction – anything.

In the end emotional pain can be the only way to finally get in touch with who you are, what you want, what’s important and who you want to become and how you want to live your life.  Let it teach you.

“I love the man that can smile in trouble that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection.”
Thomas Paine

Monday, July 22, 2013

How would you define your leadership style

How would you define your leadership style?

Leadership can be such a nebulous subject. There are many ways to define it and describe it but after all is said and done leadership is not a position but a mindset, a philosophy and a set of attitudes.  Leaders are everywhere and in every type of business and then there are those businesses that seem to be void of any degree of effective leadership in the management ranks.  These organizations tend to be stuck in a heavy micro-management or old and outdated approach to growing an organization profitably.

Entire books have been written on this simple yet complex subject.  There are five day seminars on leadership that just scratch the surface and there are more management gurus than we could ever need everywhere you look theses days.  If all of these are true, then why are there organizations that lack a clear and focused leadership style?  One word folks, arrogance.

We all have personal blind spots, those traits that we have or don’t have or think we have when we don’t.  A blind spot is nothing more than blurred vision when it comes to viewing reality.  Want to know what kind of a leader you are, just ask your employees.  But why wait?  Why not a little introspection or self-analysis before any of your leadership flaws takes their toll on the future success, health and wealth of your business.

Your management style regardless of how you would describe or define it is the driving force in your business.  If you are failing, look in the mirror.  If you are succeeding, look in the mirror but don’t take the credit.  If you are uncertain as to what to do next or what direction to head do you think this might be having a direct impact on your employee’s performance and productivity?  If you are losing money, look in the mirror and if profits are off the chart, look in the mirror, but again don’t take the credit.

Leadership is not about things but people, not about activities but vision not about results but focus and not about money but service.  Leadership ultimately will define you as a manager not your ability to recruit, coach, train or any other management role.  Leadership is why you are doing what you are doing and not how.  It is about why people follow you and not what they do.  It is about sharing a dream and not counting pennies or looking over people’s shoulders every minute of every day.

I’ll leave you with a few simple questions.  Is your leadership style trusting and empowering?  Is it showing people the path ahead and inspiring them to follow it even if they don’t know where it leads?  Is it grounded in integrity and openness?  And, is it allowing employees to utilize their talent, ability, skills and attitudes in everyone’s best interests?

Throw the box away

Throw the box away

Today, more than at any time in history, I believe being a successful manager, executive, business owner or supervisor requires an active imagination, creative vision, problem solving and, to quote the popular phrase, thinking out of the box.  But for 2010 why not consider throwing the box away and starting with a clean slate?  Yes, bring many of the lessons from the past into your decisions, planning and operations but why not start with a clean slate this year with the mindset that – anything is possible?

I believe too many managers are stuck in philosophies, attitudes, prejudices, and procedures that just need to be trashed. Whether it is you’re:
-compensation plans
-attitudes about customers
-feelings about women or minorities
-hiring practices
-bonus or quota system
-management philosophy
-communication methods
-attitudes about change
-feelings about technology
-or any other behaviors, mindsets, beliefs or attitudes.

When was the last time you rewarded or recognized any of the following when they were in the best interests of your success, growth, customer satisfaction, competitive position or profitability?
-outrageous thinking
-maverick behavior
-breaking the rules
-innovative solutions
-independent thinking
-ignoring policies, procedures and routines
-bad news
-criticism of corporate decisions, actions, behavior
-change of any kind

Trust me - if you want to maintain a competitive posture and prosper or even survive during the next five years or even next year - I strongly urge you to create a corporate culture, management style and communication system that encourages some or all of the above before your competitor eats your lunch and turns out the lights in your offices for the last time.

So why not have a “Throw The Box Away” party this year and invite all of your employees to attend and bring one idea that may help you grow your business next year or even survive?  Want to help them help you?  Give every one of your employees a copy of my latest book, Corporate Disconnect as a holiday gift and ask them to read it over the holidays and come to work January 2nd ready to build a new box but with no sides and no top.