Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Born(Date) - Died(Date) And between these you did ______?

Born(Date) - Died(Date)  
And between these you did ______? 
Tim Connor

The only thing that is certain in life is that we are all going to die – we don’t know when, where or how but some day we will experience our last day on earth.  So the question is – how are you living each day or how will you live the time you have left? Strange questions?  I don’t think so.

People who accomplish the most in life regardless of its value to themselves or humanity spend their days in pursuit of more or better and I’m not talking about more or better stuff but more or better experiences that add value to their time while here.

It doesn’t matter if you are a teacher, laborer, physician, CEO, parent or any and every other life role – in the end your legacy that you leave behind will not be because of what you owned, how smart or famous you were or how long you lived but simply what or how you contributed to life and or others whether friends, relatives or total strangers.

Life – such a fragile concept and oh so short when you really think about it.  The earth has been here for billions of years.  Life has been on it for millions of years and we get seventy or eighty years to live.  Scary huh?  It isn’t my intent to give you a lesson on death and how you should prepare for it or handle it but how you can live while you are still here.

Over the years I have observed many people who just existed waiting to die and I have known many people who squeeze every ounce of life out of every minute and seen how most people who live somewhere in between.  How about you – which category are you in?

I have watched people chase fame and wealth who in the end left here with many regrets.  I have known people who measured their value by their bank balance, latest vacation or shopping spree.  And I have witnessed many who believed that life was about them and only them.  Very sad when you think about it.

What do you want your legacy to be?  How do you want to be remembered – for what you had or earned, what you accomplished, what you learned or knew or some other factor?

Or, do you want to be remembered for how you helped others, loved, shared, sacrificed and encouraged those who crossed your path or you shared life with?

Tough questions?  Don’t have answers?  Have answers but not sure if they will ever be realized?  Welcome to life with all its uncertainty, unknowns and fleeting experiences.

Most people are so busy chasing something and whether they get it or not is not often the issue but just continuing the chase and for what purpose – to leave behind, what?  That my friends is the real question.

I am by no means suggesting that we shouldn’t pursue – accomplishment, achievement, success, wealth or any other life experience – what I am asking you to consider is – what is the meaning or purpose behind your search, pursuit or actions or that which is driving you forward each day? And in that search are you missing something or leaving something more valuable behind?

I can’t answer these questions for you – no one can – I am asking you to think about some of this stuff before you get to your final day or days.

Several of my heroes, and I won’t mention them, accomplished a great deal in life while they were alive but in the end left here very empty.  Why?  Was it ego, arrogance, insecurity, the need for approval or never considering what life is, means and its true and real value.

Life is short and eternity is forever. . .

As this year comes to an end and another one begins – think about it – what is the meaning of your life?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The real source of influence

The real source of influence
Tim Connor

It doesn't matter whether you are trying to influence a customer, a supervisor, an employee or a relative the process is the same and there are certain requirements if you want to achieve influential success. But first, why do you want to influence others and are your needs grounded in respect, integrity, compassion and/or noble reasons?

During the centuries there have been many people who either desired to influence others or were successful who did nothing but bring harm, disaster, confusion or downright evil to the world to the people they were trying to influence. I don't need to give you examples as I am sure a few come to mind easily and quickly so the first issue when it comes to influence is - what are your motives and are they in some way beneficial to others?

What is influence -

Position can influence - parents, politicians, clergy, physicians, teachers and attorneys. But just because you may have a certain role or title isn't a guarantor of influence. Salespeople can have influence getting someone to purchase their product or service. Evil people can have influence grounded in fear, uncertainty or punishment but this doesn't mean their influence is used for positive motives. Knowledge can have influence but just because you are the smartest person in the room doesn't mean you are the wisest.

Influence is the ability to get what you want, persuade others or maintain a position of authority. Professional athletes can have influence on others - children, fans or just folks who have a casual interest in sports but this doesn't mean getting what they want or persuading others to buy a product that they endorse doesn't mean it's necessarily good for us.

What we need to achieve positive influence are the right motives, intention and ability to share these with integrity.

Telling your kids, just because you are the parent, that they should do this or that or pursue a certain career isn't necessarily in their long term best interests.
And finally it is having a passion for what you believe. Right now think of someone you know who has tremendous passion for their mission, belief or purpose in life. Do they have passion? Or are they lukewarm?

Why do we lose it -

There are many reasons why a person can lose influence - all you have to do is look back at politicians who have lost credibility because of stupid choices, actions or decisions. Look at Hollywood stars or athletes who have fallen from grace because of ego or arrogance or just plain stupidity.
In the end most people lose the ability to influence others because they believe that their position, title, role or responsibility is all that is required for them to keep it. I beg to differ.

When I stop trusting you, respecting you or believing you or your motives purposes or goals - you lose the ability to influence me.

Why do we need it -

Anything we get or achieve in life is eventually based on our ability to influence others and I'm not talking here about salespeople, CEO's or patents or teachers - I'm talking about all of us. Whether it's being treated by others with respect, not waiting on hold for two hours or disarming a conflict these and every other human behavior sooner or later requires a certain degree of influence.
Wealthy people don't have any more of it than poor people unless they have this perception that their wealth gives them influence. Mother Teresa was poor. Jesus was homeless. I could give you hundreds of example where wealth had nothing to do with influence.

Smart people don't have any more influence than people with common sense.
Why do we need influence? Simple - to get what we want whether it's others behavior or actions or something that adds to our personal worth or value as a human being or the overall benefit of others or mankind.

How do we maintain it -

I have already answered this question but in case you missed it - let me repeat - we maintain influence by; having moral and noble motives, maintaining integrity of our actions and decisions, behaving in a way that increases the trust of others, acting with understanding, compassion and treating others with respect not because of who they are but because of who we are and improving our ability to communicate with clarity, consistency and honesty.

How are you doing?  

“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”
Reggie Leach

Employee morale is a function of motivation

Employee morale is a function of motivation
Tim Connor

Employee morale is a function of many factors both internal (within the individual) and external created by the culture, management style, economic times, uncertainty and whether employees feel validated and valued.

During my career having worked with hundreds of clients around the world I have found that when employees feel under stress whether caused by perceived or real issues it seriously impacts morale and why is morale important?  To be concise – morale is simply how employees behave towards each other, customers, management and their roles or responsibilities in general.

When people operate dominated by fear or uncertainty they will tend to withdraw and fail to share honest feelings or make positive suggestions or recommendations, in other words it has a tremendous impact on creativity, problem solving and how they react to challenges.

Morale - the general level of confidence or optimism felt by a person or group of people, especially as it affects discipline and motivation.

There are two types of people in the world – inside-out and outside-in people.  Outside-in people tend to turn the responsibility for their actions, decisions and behavior over to the outside world – supervisors, the economy, spouses, parents etc.  They fail to look in the mirror and generally always point the finger elsewhere.

Inside-out people tend to take responsibility for their actions, decisions and consequences.  They don’t blame, whine or complain.

My experience tells me that more and more people are becoming outside-in due to a variety of economic and social contributors.  If this is true and a majority of your employees are outside-in folks – these people are always looking for something or someone to blame for their reactions or circumstances as a result when things go bad they will tend to stoke the fire causing things to get worse.  They will use excuses, gossip, politics or any factor at their disposal to avoid responsibility.  As a result if there is a great deal of uncertainty or change going on in your organization these people will contribute to causing morale to sink or keep it in poor condition.

These people require outside-n motivators like fear or incentives to perform well or to have them perceive that their work environment is positive i.e. a positive morale.

If morale in your organization is poor or getting worse I will guarantee that it is partially due to the stress levels of employees whether the stressors are real or just imagined.

There are only three types of motivation – fear and punishment, rewards or incentives and attitudes or self-responsibility.  The first two are effective on outside-in people because they are outside-in motivators.  Inside-out people perform not because of threats or the promise of rewards but because it’s just who they are – they are self-motivated and don’t need your threats or promise of rewards.

So, again if you have a lot of outside-in employees your dominant culture will be driven by these two (and I will add) temporary approaches to achieving high performance employees.  Both of these approaches increase the level of stress on individuals.  So if your culture is a heavy top-down management style people wait to act.  They wait to decide.  They wait to make suggestions.  And why do they wait – the need for approval, acceptance or the avoidance of negative consequences.

Stress keeps people in a panic tension state causing them to hold back, wait and avoid negative outcomes based on actions or decisions.

As a result, a culture of poor morale prevents growth, creative problem solving, right decisions and a whole lot more that is needed for an organization to grow, profit and succeed.

A top-down management style tends to increase the uncertainty and lack of control employees feel that have which only adds to their perceived stress.

A management style of heavy ego or constant arrogance just feed this flame further causing people to feel insecure, fearful and lacking control over their career and therefore their life.

Poor morale just as good morale is contagious and in general has little to do with reality but their perceived reality.  In other words if people think it is true – whether it is true or not – they will act accordingly.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The source of loneliness

The source of loneliness
Tim Connor

During the holiday season many people feel a dramatic sense of loneliness that can lead to depression, increased stress and a lack of purpose or mission in life.  Why is this?  Is it due to past mistakes or decisions, expectations, a general lack of purpose in life or something more?

I have been lonely.  I know many people who suffer or have suffered the negatives of this life condition, but in the end if we are lonely it was, is and always will be due to our own reasons, causes or beliefs and not due to others behavior or actions.  You can take issue with this belief, but let me ask you – Have you ever felt lonely? For a few hours or a few years and the reasons are?  Blame – a lack of personal responsibility, anger, grief, fear, arrogance, ego or some other mindset or belief?

Loneliness - feeling sad through being without friends or company. Done or lived life without companionship or support from other people.  I disagree with this definition – loneliness has nothing to do with having other people in your life or keeping busy 24/7. 

Loneliness is a mindset, an attitude or letting what you perceive as lack.  Loneliness will not be overcome just by bringing more stuff or people into your everyday life.  Don’t believe me? Well research and studies over the years has shown that some of the loneliest people are wealthy, successful or famous – go figure.

What are the symptoms of loneliness –

Loneliness has many attributes and these can vary depending on our personal definition of this malaise but a few of the common ones are – despair, discouragement, a loss of purpose, aimlessness, uncertainty or a loss of self-worth, anxiety, stress, insecurity or immaturity.  The problem is that many of these attitudes, emotions or mindsets can also lead to other even more dramatic outcomes such as suicide. 

What are the causes of loneliness –

If you have read the above paragraph you will see that many of the causes are related in some way to these but the essential causes are; being out of touch with reality, an unwillingness to take responsibility for life with all its ups and downs and positives and negatives.

Many lonely people actually want to be lonely. Don’t believe me? Consider the fact that many people who have some of the same symptoms but choose to act or deal with these to change the quality of their life.  Many lonely people are just stuck – and why?  Because they choose to remain stuck and not change their circumstances.

In the end if you are lonely and are unwilling to move in a new direction to eliminate these feelings or emotions this is your choice and not caused by the actions, behavior or decisions of others.

What are the benefits of loneliness –

You might wonder why I would even include this section feeling that there are no benefits to this emotional condition but I choose to differ and why?  Well, for starters if you are experiencing a sense of loneliness this can give you an opportunity to reflect on its causes, reasons and consequences giving you the option of remaining in this condition or making the decision to change or do something about it and since this is a choice only you can make you have to ask yourself – do I want to remain here in this situation or is it time do finally do something about it?

During a few bouts with loneliness during my life I realized I had a choice – change something or just continue this victim mentality, which by the way I didn’t like or believe I deserved, but in the end I was lonely simply because that was the choice I made, oh maybe not consciously, but in the end I had to look in the mirror.

After consideration, contemplation, prayer, self-evaluation and some guidance from a few mentors I finally realized that life with this mindset lacked any value and whether or not to change course was in my hands.

If you are lonely what can you do –

I could give you dozens of actions but here are a few simple ones that I would suggest you consider.

-Expose yourself to new people, situations and opportunities.

-Stop blaming life or others for your condition.

-Start a hobby or new activity – take dance lessons, join a book club, get involved with your church, volunteer for something – anything.

-Be willing to be honest with yourself about the whys of your loneliness.

-Take a trip, cruise or just a walk in the park several times a week or year.

-Start a good stuff jar (ask me about this one).

-Create a – my blessings list.

-Make some new friends or even acquaintances.

-Try something new (and you don’t have to start jumping out of airplanes).

-Get a part time job serving the public (library, a book store, Hospice, server in a restaurant or anything that helps you connect with others)?

-Laugh more, read more, and keep learning – anything new.

-Come on – get busy – doing something – anything.

-And please end the pity party.

In summary –

I’ll leave you with a simple question – do you want to continue the rest of your life, however much time you have left, in this current state or do you want to live???

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
Mother Teresa