Monthly Archives: October 2015

3 ways to choose to see the positives.

Facing tough times, challenging situations or just feeling down are common.  Each of us face it everyday.  In each of those moments, we have a choice to make.  A choice to perceive it as negative or positive.  A choice to look for the good or the bad.  A choice to be made.  You might not have looked at it as a choice, and in fact, it is a decision to be made.  That decision will determine if you are a positive or negative person.  Each of us will have a natural personality where our perception of situations will either be negative or positive.  However, each of us has the ability to change the way we perceive a situation from negative to positive or from a positive to a negative.  To do that, a choice is made.  Hence, how do we make that choice?

I have observed these 3 key factors:

 1.  Be objective.  To view a situation as it is.  One of the most effective ways of doing this is to write it down.  Write down the situation.  Outline the issue or problem.  State the problem.  Once you have written it down, your mind is now able to visualise the situation in a different manner.  For example, you could feel that everyone in the workplace is against me.  Write the situation down and it might look like this:

A was pointing out my mistake in a meeting which was to review a campaign.  All the action items that were noted down, I was the owner of it.  I have so much on my plate and no one is helping me.

Ask yourself:

  • What was the mistake?  What can I learn from it?
  • Are those action items under my responsibilities?
  • If I need help, who can I ask for help?

Now identify the issue:

  • The issue or mistake could be :  not following up on a lead on time.
  • Learning:  Need to have a reminder in place to follow-up on lead
  • Action Items:  schedule time in calendar to follow-up on client.
  • Help required?:  Not this time.

Once you are able to write down the problem and break it down to smaller bits, attach questions and solutions to them.  As per the example above, the issue isn’t that everyone is against you, the issue to solve is owning to a mistake and solving it.

2.  Look for the solution or learnings from the situation.  Focus on thought process of what you have learned out of the situation and how it is able to help you in the future.  Write it down so that you don’t forget.  Journaling is a great way of doing this.  I used to not take the advise of journaling seriously until one day I tried it and find it to be an amazing process of finding clarity and germs from learning in any situation.  I am a visual person, hence writing things out and reading it brings out a certain clarity.  If you are a verbal person, talk it out loud.  Yes you might seem crazy, but talking it out loud (not just self talk in your head), can bring out clarity and problem solving to you as you process the information surround the situation.

3.  Decision to be made and to act upon.  You now have a decision to be made.  A decision to arm yourself with the learnings and action items and take the step forward or not.  The choice to wallow in self-pity or to get up and take the next step in a positive manner.  We all know that positive people are not perfect.  The difference is that they see a silver lining in everyone and chooses to focus on the good vs. the bad.  To make that change if you are naturally negative is hard.  However, be encouraged that with every small effort that you make to view a situation in a positive light, will over time build the “positive mindset” muscle.

In all situation, there is always something to gain from it.  To learn what NOT to do is a silver lining.  To learn how to respond differently next time is a silver lining.  It is highly unfortunate that I learn most through tough situations and I know that because of it, I don’t forget.  What about you?  How do you find the silver lining in a tough situation?

4 ways to respond to unexpected situations

You have performed well all year, achieving and in some cases overachieving your targets and you are receiving good feedback along the way.  It is natural for you to expect a good review rating and rewards as a result.  What happens when you don’t receive what you expect?  What happens when you receive a good review but the rewards and ratings do not match that “good” review?  What is your response?  What if it was the reverse, when you expected a negative outcome but received a positive one instead?

Expectations are hard to rationalise as it is our interpretation of the various sources of information that we receive.  The interpretation of all these information will determine what we expect to happen next.  The challenge is when the information that we are receiving is not consistent in forming a conclusion or thought.  For example, if you believed that you did a great presentation to a customer and received the feedback that is consistent with what you believed, then it is a confirmation that your actions were received likewise.  What happens if it is not consistent with what you thought?  We find that extremely confusing and we will either accept or reject the situation or information.

What is your response to conflicting and confusing situation?

  1. Assess the situation objectively.  Remove the emotions out of the equation as hard as it may be.  Assess the information that is presented.  In a performance review scenario, it is important to be specific and measurable and yet there are also many subjective assessments taking place.  Understanding that is critical in being balanced in our assessment of the situation.
  2. Look at various viewpoints.  Each view-point or thought is true from that view-point.  Don’t dismiss it just because it does not agree with yours.  There is always some truth in someone’s views as that is how they perceive the situation.
  3. Agree to disagree.  If you can’t find common grounds, then agree to disagree and move on.  Moving forward is critical is any situation where we are confused or feeling stuck.    When an issue is not resolved or not moved forward, the initial negative emotions will grow to take a much bigger role in how you will respond to situations later on or one that involves certain individuals.  The ability to let go and move forward is critical in ensuring that every step that you take is on a clean slate.
  4. You  have a choice to make.  We all have the power of choice.  Choice to move on, to stay, to fight etc.  Choose your choice carefully.  Whatever the choice is, ensure that it is aligned with your values and one that builds upon your character and not negatively impacts it.  For example, after a negative review, if you decide to stay, then  resolve to performance better or make the necessary improvements.  Do not stay just because you like the salary as the negative emotions and sentiments will bleed through.  It will show in your words or actions and no one enjoys the company of someone who is breeding discontent.  It is also contagious and so if you know someone like that, it might be best to stay away

I have been on both ends, as an employee and as a manager and there are times when its extremely hard to inform a performer that the rating or rewards are low due to other factors that are out of your hands such as stack ranking, impressions of manager’s  manager or if the company is not doing well financially.  There are so many variables in a performance review that sometimes, things just don’t go the way we expect.  Being matured and professional when it does not go your way is critical as it will determine how you will carry yourself and demonstrate your next steps to those around you.

The choice to respond and your approach are marks of a matured and professional individual.

3 ways to recover from an “epic fail”

Have you ever made a mistake?  Have you ever felt like you have failed?  Have you ever thought that you could not come back after this epic fail?  I am sure that I am not alone in experiencing set backs and failures.  Hindsight will tell us that those “epic fail” moments are when we learned the most about ourselves and how to get back up and start again.  It is in those moments that will either grow or break us.

There is only ONE critical mindset to have and that is to be able to separate the person from the act or mistake.  The “person” is who you are vs. the action that a person takes or makes.  Therefore the act or actions may have been a fail, the person is not a fail.  Once we are able to distinguish the two different categories, we can move on the to the ways of recovering from the act that was an “epic fail” in your mind.

I have observed with my coaching clients that there are 3 critical attitudes that exist in order to transform after an “epic fail”.

  1. Acknowledgement.  Acknowledgement and taking ownership of the mistake.  Taking responsibility for it is the first step in figuring out how to ensure that it does not happen again.
  2. Facing the consequences.  Facing the consequences of the mistake is the next step.  We all know that with every action there are consequences that follow whether good or bad.  Having the courage to face the consequences and responding to it demonstrates your maturity and professionalism.  Most of us, if we could, would like to avoid consequences especially if its negative.  However, it is important as part of taking ownership of the mistake is to manage the situation.
  3. Be alert to the warning signs.  As with all learning experiences, once we have learned from a mistake, we are more aware of the signs of an “epic fail” before it happens.  The key is to always be alert for these warning signs and know how to manage the situation accordingly.   Just like we know that touching fire will be painful, we will certainly be aware of just how close we can be to fire before it becomes painful or dangerous.  We need to be aware of situations where we might be tempted to make the same mistake.  Take precautions.

Once we are able to acknowledge , face the set back and take steps to prevent it, the next important thing to note is to never be afraid to take risk and try.  Being afraid of another set back can potentially be a bigger obstacle to your success and growth than the set back itself.  I think that the most important thought to remember is this:  We all learn through mistakes and grow from set backs.  Do not be afraid of mistakes and failures.  Failure does not define who you are but just an action that you have taken and learn from .

Coming back stronger after an “epic fail” requires:

  • Self awareness:  Being self-aware is critical in acknowledging your strengths along with weaknesses.  Know where you are vulnerable and need help and ask for help.  Know where your strengths are and how to build upon it.  As they say, play to your strength.
  • Remember past accomplishments.   List down all your strengths and past accomplishment to remind yourself just how far you have come and achieved.  This simple exercise can remind you of your capabilities and restore your self-confidence.
  • Courage:  It does take courage to get back up and give it another go.  Part of courage is about being humble to acknowledge and owned the epic fail and then to take the step out to try again.  Take courage that you are able and capable of performing the task ahead.  You are not where you are today without coming back after a fail.

I have noticed how some client’s body language and disposition changes once listing down their strengths and accomplishments reminds them of their self-confidence and abilities.  Each of us need a little reminding sometimes just to restore our own self-esteem.

Remember than a “fail” in your actions does not make you a failure.  Each of us learn from our fail and are better from it.

Top 3 things Never to Give Up on

I wrote an article previous on 10 Things to Give up to Move forward.  There are only things that we should never give up on.  Just like any sporting team or athlete, the never give up attitude is critical to winning or losing.  This attitude enables us to overcome adversities, challenges and turns the impossible to possible.

The top 3 areas never to give up on:

  1. Who YOU are.  This comprises your principles, character, values and faith.  It makes up who you are.  In turn that will  determine your outcome in how life is lived out.  You determine what you believe in, the choices that you make and the actions that you will take.  Successful people are those who are very clear on who they are and who they are not.  Don’t try to imitate someone else.  Don’t try and live out under the expectations of others.  You determine the quality and significance of your life.
  2. Dreams and Life Purpose.  Life is precious and short.  We all know that.  Hence don’t go through life without seeing out your dreams and life purposes.  Each of us is created for a purpose and it is in your hands how you live it out.  It is easy to give up when the going gets tough, but don’t take the easy way out as the result will be of regret.
  3. People that you love.    Love is a powerful emotion but also a decision and commitment that requires perseverance, forgiveness, patience and hard work.  No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.  We might perceive some mistakes to be bigger or more unforgivable  than some.  It is important to separate the person that we love vs. the acts or actions that a person does.  To love the person and not necessarily the action is key in never giving up on someone who is difficult to love.

What happens if we are faced with impossible odds or the challenges seem like Goliath?  All challenges by definition will seem like Goliath at the start as our mind makes it harder and scarier that it actually is.  Challenges seems huge because our minds will perceive the task ahead as impossible and perceive our abilities as weak and feeble.  As a result, we see ourselves as grasshoppers and the challenge as giants.

As with all perceptions, we are also able to change our perceptions and view it through different lenses.  View it though eyes of faith vs. eyes of fear.  To help you do so, try these options:

  • Ask yourself What-If.  What if you overcome the challenge?  What do you see beyond the challenge?  What if the challenge is not as complex or big as you had first thought?  What-if you break it down to smaller parts?
  • Step by step.  Breaking down a problem or challenge, step by step.  Smaller bits are easier to chew and overcome than taking the big chunk and try to solve it.  Deconstruct the challenge.
  • Ask for help.  Find a friend, mentor, adviser, coach, someone that you can talk to and brainstorm ideas.  Someone who is able to help you redefine the challenge and explore options with you.  Don’t be afraid to reach for help.
  • Take accountability of your actions.  Don’t blame the situation or other people for the challenges.  Take ownership of it and take responsible steps to action on it.  Mind your business as they say.  You are only in control of your actions and not others.
  • Always focus on the big picture, your dreams or purpose.  Don’t lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish.  Having a clear objective of what you are trying to accomplish can drive you forward as well as to give you that extra push when required.

No one ever succeeds in anything if they give up.  Never giving up is a driving force to ensure that we push through whatever the challenges, no matter the odds.  Success is just around the corner, only if we never give up on the final few steps.  Failure or mistakes will be made.  Owning up to the mistakes and making the necessary adjustments to start again.  Never giving up enables that start to take place.  Only you can make that mindset and heart change.  Decide today to never give up on yourself, your dreams and the people you love.