Category Archives: discipline

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weighing alternatives

Weighing Alternatives is a Matter of Principle

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Big decisions or little decisions, short-term or long-term, what helps you decide? Weighing alternatives typically boils down to principles.

Some would suggest it is ethics or integrity. Others may decide the decision was based on outside forces or pressure.

Most of our choices are connected to principles. Your morals, a guideline, or your values and beliefs help shape the principles you will adhere to.

Recent high school graduates often base more advanced education choices on principles. In the short-term the opportunity cost is more. In the long-term, across many years, the theory is that it pays off.

Parents are influencers, so are other family members, friends, and the admissions staff.

This may be true about the car or home you’ll buy. It may be true about what you’ll eat for dinner. Pros and cons, short-term and long-term outcomes, or the consequences of action versus inaction.

Weighing Alternatives

When there are more alternatives you need to rely on your principles less. You can make a choice and the consequences of undesirable outcomes feel less risky. There is always another choice, at a later time, or on another day.

Often there are group dynamics connected to how you’ll weigh the options. Some of that is connected to your principles and some of it is connected to the social discourse you’ll choose to follow.

Your principles will guide you.

If your choices are only about the right now. Your principles probably lack the integrity or ethics you’ll need for the long-haul.

In a family of four, someone eating the whole bag of potato chips while no one else is watching seems like a reasonable choice. At least at the moment, in the right now.

The alternative requires discipline, caring, and compassion. It doesn’t satisfy the right now.

It’s about the principle.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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work schedule

Work Schedule and Doing What Comes Next

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What’s your work schedule look like? Do you have one? What’s your plan?

Being a task master is an effective way to get all the boxes checked. It matters and can be productive. What about the things that derail the checklist? How do you get those things accomplished?

It is important to remember that there will always be rainy day projects. There will be projects that get started but never get finished. Work completed that sits around unused and unwanted. And stuff that no matter how much effort you apply you’ll just never see the end.

It’s not uncommon to be energized by something new. A small (or big) challenge that you know is achievable and you’re excited to jump in.

There is also often procrastination. The same old, same old, project or task. It’s boring, mindless, and hard to determine its true value, yet it must be done.

Many people enjoy a hands-off management style. A style that isn’t suffering from micro-management or looked down upon from the ivory tower with a pen in hand ready to check the box.

Work Schedule

How are you feeling about your work schedule?

Is it appropriately busy? Could it be boring, monotonous, or seemingly without meaning?

What about things that can never be finished? Things that once completed start all over again? Completing sales orders, engaging customers, or keeping weeds away from your sidewalk. All continue to add up.

You’ll never watch every minute of what’s on YouTube. You can’t read every blog or listen to every podcast. The bucket is being filled faster than you can consume.

Whether you manage your own schedule or are being observed by a task master, it’s important to keep a few basics in mind.

Lists of work and are important. Yet, checking boxes is not necessarily a sign of quality or efficiency.

Likely, there will always be more on the list than what can be accomplished.

If you’re going to manage by a list, don’t allow things that can’t be finished weigh you down. Some things never end, or end only to start again.

If you’re deciding what to do next, don’t embark on something that will derail the real work that needs to be finished.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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urgent work

Urgent Work Is a Different Priority

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How do you decide what is going to get done? Are you doing urgent work or just work that feels like it should get done?

One decision you make almost every day is closely connected to what happens next.

What are your priorities?

Your Priorities

Will you brush your teeth first, get dressed, or take a shower? What is your priority?

Will you grab a coffee at work, report to your work area, or discuss the latest news with a colleague? What is most important? What is urgent?

There are lots of ways to determine priorities. Often it is driven by some form of need. However, the need is not always the same as what you or others want.

You also likely factor in the concept of what you should do.

I should…

Go to the gym after work.

Tidy up this mess before doing anything else.

Finish the report before the meeting on Wednesday.

When you consider the should factor, you may discover that should isn’t always the most important or urgent. Should is often considered a nicety.

In the workplace, or in your community, you’re often challenged by trying to decide on the right things to work on. What is the most urgent?

Will finishing the report early help my coworkers? Does that rise to the level of urgency?

Is picking up trash in the park more urgent than working on a campaign to help shelter the homeless?

Urgent Work

People often decide on what they’ll work on next by the urgency that they perceive about the importance of the task.

Individual perceptions which are often driven by group dynamics, peer pressure, and even the media affect your sense of urgency.

The next time you want something to happen you may want to consider how others may perceive the sense of urgency. Urgent work always seems to take a priority.

It’s not the squeaky wheel, but it may be the sneaky wheel.

Understand your priorities.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace calamity

Workplace Calamity Should Be Avoided

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Smooth sailing is what most people desire. Things are a lot more productive without workplace calamity. Are things going smooth?

I believe it was Franklin D. Roosevelt who said, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

Of course, we can find a lot of metaphorical truth in that statement.

Yet, what we typically try to construct are processes and systems to keep things calm.

Many years ago, there was a warehousing and manufacturing buzz term, “just in time.” It is still true today, only today it is often considered a common sense practice.

As an example, just in time inventory helps keep costs lower and efficiencies higher. Having only what you need when you need it makes sense.

In practice it is a system. A design that will keep everything running smooth.

Systems don’t always fit every scenario, but they often work well for operations.

Workplace Calamity

People factors can wreak havoc on systems. Assuming that the decisions, emotions, and experiences of people will fit nicely into a tight system can be a big mistake.

However, having a frame or guideline can still be helpful.

Systems, metrics, and measurements are helpful for keeping many things in check.

One of the biggest benefits to a good system is that it makes things easier. It keeps the sea’s calmer.

When you step outside of the system, and this happens often, it rocks the boat a little bit. The waters are not so calm. Things blow up, get embellished, and often become far more dramatic.

The key then, or so it seems, is to keep the calamity out of our workplace. It won’t be effortless, but it will be worth it.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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knowledge equalizer

Knowledge Equalizer and What You Study

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Knowledge is often considered to be power. Those in the know versus those who don’t know. What you study may be the great knowledge equalizer.

Jack’s hobby is gardening. He knows much more about growing vegetables than the average person. He reads everything he can find about creating the perfect gardening environment.

Susan loves cosmetics and beauty aids. She watches hours of makeup videos, reads on-line blogs on the subject, and knows hundreds of tricks and tips.

James is into big diesel pickup trucks. He watches videos, studies hop-up literature, and attends every swamp meet he can find. His truck is awesome and everyone in his small town seeks him out for diesel hop-up advice.

Technology and Knowledge

Just three decades ago it was much harder to access information.

In the workplace, the data processing department held the key to what you wanted to know, only, very few could access it.

Green bar continuous form paper spewed from line printers in climate-controlled rooms with false floors. The computer operator assembled reports in 14 7/8 inch hanging binders.

A few of the more advanced executives had a green or amber monochrome monitor in the corner of their office but many those didn’t know how to log on.

Knowledge was definitely power, only very few had access.

Knowledge Equalizer

Today it is a completely different World for those in first World countries. Information, lots of information is available right at your fingertips.

You can read, listen, and watch information right from the palm of your hand. You can study whatever you choose. If you study the information, becoming knowledgeable about a subject happens faster than ever before.

Certainly, data reliability and validity matter. The quality of information sources needs to be scrutinized. Facts will always need to be separated from opinions. Yet, the opportunity to gain power through knowledge has never been easier.

What should you know more about?

What are you reading, watching, and studying?

Is there information to help you build your career?

Knowledge is the great equalizer.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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realistic workplace expectations

Realistic Workplace Expectations and Your Work

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Are the expectations realistic? Realistic workplace expectations may start with your own personal outlook.

Sure, the boss may have some expectations that are a stretch. Customers may have some high expectations. Yet beyond the boss or your customers, often the expectations you place on yourself are even higher.

When you commit to the project what are your expectations?

High Expectations and Time

If the customer says, “That will work.” Do you stop there, or do you insist there is still more perfection required? More that can be done, more that should be done?

Many people are watchful for the critic. They have to get things just right because they know the critic is waiting right around the corner.

A critical eye ruins your masterpiece, so you spend the extra time to make it just right. In the absence of praise, you feel deflated and defeated. It must not have been good enough.

Your afterthought, “I could have done better with a little more time.”

Realistic Workplace Expectations

It is true for the school paper that is due, the academic thesis, or the project that will be presented to the board of directors.

It is only true sometimes though. The other option is to assume your work is superior to all other works. Anyone questioning the quality or accuracy is only envious or jealous.

Certainly, we may experience some or all of these scenarios. Have you asked yourself about the reality of your work? What is realistic?

Often realistic expectations start with yourself. You decide exactly how far you’ll go within the parameter of a specific amount of time.

At some point, we say, “Good enough.”

The best question then becomes, “Are you being realistic?”

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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working holidays

Working Holidays and Other Addictions

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Do you get time off for holidays? Do you find yourself working late, working when off the job, or working holidays?

What about ice cream, chocolate candies, or some form of caffeinated concoction? Are those things that you need or just want?

Self-Control or Addiction?

Can you put your smartphone down? And keep it down? Are you constantly checking for text messages, social media updates, or incoming email messages?

Do you have self-control?

Certainly, there are many people who work holidays. Their shift is important to keep things going. It may be the maintenance crew at the manufacturing plant, hospital employees, and civil services personnel. Many people are paid to be on the job, sometimes especially on holidays.

Assuming that isn’t you, do you still work? Are you addicted to your work?

Working Holidays

I’m not referencing being devoted, committed, and caring, I’m referencing lacking the ability to break free. Some business owners, entrepreneurs, and other professionals use it as a time to get caught up or jump ahead.

There are always needs and requirements. And there are things that just feel that way.

I need something to eat, or am I just bored?

I need a coffee, a cocktail, or Big Gulp from the 7-Eleven.

Check my text messages, email, or social media feed…

Our habits make up much of our daily life. The difference between requirements and niceties is often hard to determine. The difference between “have to” and “want to” is also often confusing.

Are you working holidays? Is that on you or is that part of what you signed up for?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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following advice

Following Advice Should Get You There

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Everyone has an opinion. Nearly everyone has some advice. Following advice seems to make sense but does it always?

First, there are some people who shouldn’t be advising anyone. There is plenty of advice out there, especially on social media. Self-proclaimed experts lurk around every corner and in every shadow. Buyer beware.

Let’s assume though, that the information you seek, good information, is abundant. What will you do with that information? How will you use that advice?

Tweak the Plan

Often people modify the directions and information they receive.

When you make your IKEA purchase are you going to follow the directions? That may be good advice. Will you take a quick glance and then start assembly only checking in when you get stuck?

The same is true for the frozen pizza, the pre-cooked Easter ham, or the Thanksgiving turkey. It is true for the Cowboy Casserole, the chocolate fudge brownie, and the banana bread. Do you follow the directions or sort of do your own thing?

Chances are good that advice surrounds you. Much of it may be good. When we don’t follow it, follow it exactly, it may become bad advice.

That is often the difference. What we receive gets modified. It gets bent a little, twisted a little, turned upside down, yet the partial followers proclaim it must have been bad advice.

Following Advice

If you substitute milk for heavy cream in the recipe, you’re going to get a different result.

When you try to run a business or manage a department on hope, instead of hard work or action, you’ll likely get a different result.

If you believe your marketing and advertising will work just as well when you cut the budget in half and replace it with free advertising, you better think twice.

Finding good advice probably isn’t the biggest challenge. The bigger challenge is following it.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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daylight savings

In Your Workplace Daylight Savings Still Requires You

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People may ask, “Do we move the time forward or do we turn back the clocks?” Confused they may say, “Are we losing an hour or gaining an hour?” Are people asking you about the effects of daylight savings time?

I have two grandmother clocks in my home. They don’t run on electricity or batteries. You must pull the chains to raise the weights every week. The pendulum must swing and then the hands of the clock spin.

Telling time then is not accomplished through a digital display. There are not buttons to push or indicator lights.

Most importantly, the time setting in these clocks is accomplished manually. You can’t tap “Settings,” and then, “Date & Time,” and toggle, “Automatic.”

An Excuse

Surely, as the official time change occurs during the weekend people will show up at the correct time on Monday.

No, not everyone. A few will find it a convenient excuse to be running late.

Although we are in a digital age. An age where most of our cellular phones and computer devices will automatically spring forward, people still have something to do.

In your workplace, the people are going to need to spring forward. They are going to need to bring the energy, put in the effort, and bring the change to life. It won’t happen automatically. It’s not a digital setting.

Daylight Savings

Our digital age is part of society. Things happen for us and we barely even notice. It is all so automatic. Beyond that it is thoughtless, no real effort required. Follow the time on your phone or computer and you’re set.

Our lives benefit from technology. Things making life easier, simpler, and requiring less background knowledge to navigate.

On the human side of daylights savings, we still have a job to do. Spring forward will only happen when we pull the chains, raise the weights, and turn the hands.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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answers

Just Tell Me The Answers

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In school it may have seemed easy to study to the test. In fact, in some curriculum that is exactly the plan. For real life it may be a different story. Are you just looking for the answers or are you learning along the way?

Shortcuts

It seems like the shortcut. The path that will lead you to the result faster, more efficiently, and with less expense. If we can learn the answer, we’ve shortened the time requirements.

Just getting the answer may help us navigate the software, do a quick fix home repair, or learn how to apply makeup.

Just watch a video. You’ll find the answer.

Finding the answers seems like the right path. Finding them with little expense sweetens the pot.

Why learn the math when you can do it by learning a few buttons on a calculator?

It is the shortcut. The smart and easy way.

Answers

Most of what will unfold in your business or for your career won’t develop from just being told the answer. The greatest success stories haven’t developed from trying the shortcuts.

Time matters, and so does discovering the answers. Answers really are not always the biggest challenge though. There are plenty of highly educated people. They’ve learned to know a lot of answers.

The grass doesn’t become greener just because you’ve learned the answer. The grass becomes greener by doing the work. It is the sweat equity that will create the most success.

At least once a month I bump into someone who wants to make a change for the (assumed) greener grass. When I ask why, they often say, “I want the lifestyle.”

What they really want is all the answers. Skip the sweat.

Even when armed with the answers, there aren’t any shortcuts. Sometimes we all must do the math.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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