Tuesday, October 23, 2012

9 Habits of Super Positive People


Life is full of positive experiences. Notice them. Notice the sun warming your skin, the small child learning to walk, and the smiling faces around you. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential by reveling in the beauty of these experiences, and letting them inspire you to be the most positive version of YOU.
What would happen if you approached each day intentionally, with a positive attitude? What would happen if you embraced life’s challenges with a smile on your face? What would happen if you surrounded yourself with people who made you better? What would happen if you paused long enough to appreciate it all?
Living a positive life is all about creating positive habits to help you focus on what truly matters. This is the secret of super positive people. Here are nine simple ideas to help you follow in their footsteps.
1.Wake up every morning with the idea that something wonderful is possible today. – Smiling is a healing energy. Always find a reason to smile. It may not add years to your life but will surely add life to your years. A consistent positive attitude is the cheapest ‘fountain of youth.’ You’ve got to dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on Earth. Read The How of Happiness.

2.Celebrate your existence. – Your mind is the window through which you see the world. The way to make this the happiest day ever is to think, feel, walk, talk, give, and serve like you are the most fortunate person in the whole world. Open minded, open hearted, and open handed. Nothing more is needed. All is well… and so it is.

3.Appreciate life’s perfect moments. – Your life isn’t perfect, but it does have perfect moments. Don’t let the little things get you down. You’ve got plenty of reasons to look up at the sky and say, “Thank you, I will do my best to make this a great day.” So slow down and pause for a moment to stand in awe of the fact that you are alive, and that you have the ability to rediscover life as the miracle it has always been.

4.Embrace life’s challenges. – Uncharted territory in your life is not good or bad, it just is. Yes, it may rattle your foundation, and you may be tempted to pullback, say you can’t do it, or bail completely. But these are exactly the conditions that set you up for massive amounts of personal growth. Each experience through which you pass operates ultimately for your own good. This is the correct attitude to adopt, and you must be able to see it in this light. Read Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life.

5.Become addicted to constant and never-ending self improvement. – It doesn’t have to be January 1st to give yourself a chance to make the most out of your life. Every day is a new day to learn, grow, develop your strengths, heal yourself from past regrets, and move forward. Every day gives you a chance to reinvent yourself, to fine-tune who you are, and build on the lessons you have learned. It is never too late to change things that are not working in your life and switch gears. Using today wisely will always help you create a more positive tomorrow.

6.Live and breathe the truth. – It’s the most positive, stress-free way to live, because the truth always reveals itself eventually anyway. So don’t aim to be impressive, aim to be true. Those who are true are truly impressive. Being true means having integrity; and integrity is doing the right thing even when you know nobody is watching.

7.Fill your own bucket. – Choose to be happy for no reason at all. If you are happy for a reason, you could be in trouble, because that reason can get taken away from you. So smile right now because you can right now, and make it a point to fill your own bucket of happiness so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes to drain it dry.

8.Help the people around you smile. – Today, give someone one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine they see all day. Sometimes just a single genuine smile or compliment can lift a person’s spirits to new heights. At the right time, a kind word from a stranger, or unexpected encouragement from a friend, can make all the difference in the world. Kindness is free, but it’s priceless. And as you know, what goes around comes around. Read A New Earth.

9.Spend time with positive people. – Life’s way too awesome to waste time with people who don’t treat you right. So surround yourself with people who make you happy and make you smile. People who help you up when you’re down. People who would never take advantage of you. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Ten Ways to Get People to Change

Very good writing ... :)

Ten Ways to Get People to Change
by Morten T. Hansen - HBR

How do you get leaders, employees, customers — and even yourself — to change behaviors? Executives can change strategy, products and processes until they're blue in the face, but real change doesn't take hold until people actually change what they do.

I spent the summer reviewing research on this topic. Here is my list of 10 approaches that seem to work.

1. Embrace the power of one. One company I worked with posted 8 values and 12 competencies they wanted employees to practice. The result: Nothing changed. When you have 20 priorities, you have none. Research on multi-tasking reveals that we're not good at it. Focus on one behavior to change at a time. Sequence the change of more than one behavior.

2. Make it sticky. Goal theory has taught us that for goals to be effective, they need to be concrete and measurable. So with behaviors. "Listen actively" is vague and not measurable. "Paraphrase what others said and check for accuracy" is concrete and measurable.

3. Paint a vivid picture. When celebrity chef Jamie Oliver wanted to change the eating habits of kids at a U.S. school, he got their attention with a single, disgusting image: A truckload of pure animal fat (see photo). When Oliver taught an obese kid to cook, he showed how cooking can be "cool" — walking with head up, shoulders back, and a swagger while preparing food. This gave the boy a positive image he could relate to. As Herminia Ibarra outlines in her book Working Identity, imagining new selves can be a powerful force for change. Use stories, metaphors, pictures, and physical objects to paint an ugly image of "where we are now" and a better vision of a glorious new state. This taps into people's emotions, a forceful lever for (or against) change.

4. Activate peer pressure. As social comparison theory shows, we look to others in our immediate circle for guidance for what are acceptable behaviors. Peers can set expectations, shame us or provide role models. When a banker was told by his boss that he needed to show more "we" and less "me" behaviors, team members observed and called out missteps, such as inappropriate "I" statements. The peer pressure worked. This is also the case for online groups. Ask peers to set expectations and put pressure on one another. Sign up friends on facebook to check in on your behaviors (or use a company network tool).

5. Mobilize the crowd. In this video, would you be the second, the middle or the last person to join the dance? Most people would join somewhere in the middle, at the tipping point. Embracing a new behavior typically follows a diffusion curve — early adopters, safe followers, late-comers. Diffusion theory holds, however, that this is not a random process: Key influencers make it tip. They are often not managers with senior titles but those with the most informal connections and those to whom others look for directions (see ch. 6 in my book Collaboration for these "bridges" in a company network). Get a few early adopters to adopt a behavior, then find and convince the influencers, and then sit back and watch as it goes viral (hopefully).

6. Tweak the situation. How do you get employees to eat healthier food in the company cafeteria? You could educate them about healthy food. Or you could alter the physical flow. Google did just that. Using the cue that people tend to grab what they see first, they stationed the salad bar in front of the room. This and similar techniques are based on the red hot area of behavioral decision theory, which holds that behavioral change can come about by tweaking the situation around the person. You nudge people, not by telling them directly (eat salad!), but indirectly, by shaping their choices. Use different default settings, frame things as losses (not gains), commit in advance and so on.

7. Subtract, not just add. In The Power of Habits, Charles Duhigg tells a great story about a U.S. Army Major stationed in a small town in Iraq. Every so often crowds would gather in the plaza and by the evening rioting would ensue. What to do? Add more troops when the crowd swells? No. Next time the Major had the food stalls removed. When the crowd grew hungry in the evening, there was nothing to eat and the crowd dispersed before a riot could take hold. Change behaviors by removing enablers, triggers and barriers. Managers are so obsessed with what new things to add that they forget the obvious: Subtracting.

8. Dare to link to carrots and sticks (and follow through). This list would not be complete without the traditional HR lever, incentives, in the form of pay, bonus and promotion. In a famous HBS case, a banker at Morgan Stanley is up for promotion. His numbers are great, but he comes up short on the 360-degree review that assessed his behaviors. Tie incentives to both performance and desired behaviors. But, as Dan Pink highlights in Drive, such extrinsic rewards and punishments only work for non-creative behaviors and much less for, say, "innovate outside the box" (see his TED video here).

9. Teach and coach well. Many behaviors have a skill dimension: I may not know how to prioritize work, even though I am motivated to do so. Be a good teacher or coach (or, be a good learner if you're trying to change your own behaviors). This involves practicing the behavior, like a muscle, which is difficult especially for behaviors with a high tacit component (e.g., how to listen well).

10. Hire and fire based on behaviors. The list so far is about changing the person. But there is also selection: Change the composition of the team. Get people who embody the desired behaviors and get rid of those that clearly do not. This is based on theories of role fit: Match strengths (including your current behaviors) to what the job requires. This also goes for you: Fire yourself and find a better job if need be.

These ten principles for changing behaviors are rooted in different theories that are rarely put together: Sharpen the destination (1-3), activate social processes (4 and 5), tweak the situation (6 and 7), and revamp traditional HR levers (8-10).

Why don't we see more successful change in organizations? Because managers use only a few of these levers. Use them all.

Three Ways Leaders Make Emotional Connections

Three Ways Leaders Make Emotional Connections
by Scott Edinger  - HBR     

When I first started working in then-Big Six consulting firm Coopers & Lybrand, the partner I was assigned to was a gentleman named Chris Abramson, and he had an enormous scale of responsibility. Yet whenever I talked with him, which was not that often, he gave me his undivided attention. He talked with me about my goals and my development opportunities. He shared stories about life (both his and mine) outside the office. Even in our short conversations, in which he frequently was directing me to do something, he injected some kind of personal remark or comment.

Chris Abramson excelled in one of the most important — and most misunderstood — of leadership skills: making an emotional connection.

Leadership has everything to do with how you relate to others and the quality and texture of those relationships. The higher up you go in an organization, the less important your technical skills become and the more your interpersonal skills matter. I've seen this confirmed in my work with hundreds of leaders and in reviews of 360-degree feedback data on thousands more.

The ability to make an emotional connection is so often misunderstood because it's not about being emotional or showing emotion. It's about making a human connection — one person to another. Chris Abramson had the ability to connect on that level with me, with teams, with an entire office of over 600 associates — to show us how important we all were to him and that there was more to our relationship than just the job at hand.

He was a natural, but there are some things the rest of us might do to forge these kinds of connections.

1. Like Chris, give people your undivided attention.
This sounds simple, but it's easy to lose sight of. When I feel overloaded in the midst of ringing phones, e-mails by the hundreds, and a gazillion other things to do, I'll sometimes think about how Chris unfailingly engaged with people in this way, and the energy he brought to and created in those interactions as a result. He made us want to do more because we didn't want to let him down.

2. Be aware that emotions are contagious.
Research has shown that a person's mood can be affected even by three degrees of separation from people they don't even know. So imagine your impact in the workplace on those who report to you directly. Whether positive or negative, your emotional state has a significant influence on those you work with, especially when you're the boss. We all have our bad days, but we don't have to multiply their ill effects. If you're feeling particularly anxious or negative, make an effort to quarantine yourself — do more of your administrative tasks, avoid situations that might trigger even more stress, take the afternoon off (you may do more harm staying on the job). On the other hand, when you're feeling especially buoyant, make an effort to spend more time with direct reports, go to more meetings, reach out to others in the organization. Use this time to your advantage and multiply your positive emotions.

3. Develop your sense of extraversion.
Make no mistake, this is easier said (or written) than done, especially if you're naturally an introvert. But if you're a leader, you simply have to develop the ability to reach out to others, engage them in discussion, and actively provide feedback. You're the one who has to be out in front, taking the lead in developing these relationships. Even introverts can muster the energy to do these things and relate to others. (And then, when you're exhausted from it, you can sit quietly with a book.)

As leaders, by definition, we do our work through other people, and yet how easy it is to lose sight of that, to focus on the amount of work — the tasks, the output, the jobs to be completed. The irony is, the more you focus on the quality of those connections, the greater your quantity of output is likely to be.