Category Archives: focus

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focus forward

Focus Forward Because You Guide What’s Next

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Are you uncertain about what happens next? Your best choice is to focus forward.

Often people or entire groups are hesitant to make a change or perhaps they’re anxious about keeping things the same. Most of our human nature links us to favoring consistency. Many people find comfort in things that are consistent and unchanged.

What happens when you don’t know what happens next?

Next is Scary

Usually, you strive to find the answer, you analyze or over-analyze the possible outcomes. It may be easier to place emphasis on your fears instead of on the possibility of something better emerging.

To put it all another way, there is comfort in knowing for certain what the playing field looks like next. What the rules will be, and how you can interact to survive and thrive.

It happens when you get a new boss. It happens when you get a promotion or move to a different employer. When the company changes ownership, merges, or gets acquired by another.

Perhaps not surprising it even happens when there is only a threat of these changes.

In the presence of such a threat, there often becomes the unknown about what will happen if things don’t change? Will they remain the same, get better, or perhaps all of the rules will change since the threat was a close call?

What should you do?

Focus Forward

When you focus forward, you’ll rely on your core values. You’ll put your best efforts behind your belief systems and use your knowledge and experiences to make good choices about what happens next.

The vision should be forward focused, not dwelling on where you’ve been but on what you’ll need to do in the future.

When you focus on the possibility, and not the opposite, everything changes. With an optimistic focus, your actions and behaviors will solidify your future direction.

No one said what’s next will be easy. Even if things seem like they will stay the same.

It’s doing the hard work that makes a difference.

You’ll create the best version of what’s next when you show up prepared to do so.

-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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focus matters

Focus Matters and Changes the Outcomes

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What are you focused on today? Do you believe that focus matters? Will it change the outcomes?

When your work is very scattered it is hard to know where things start, stop, and how to measure progress. Time and effort are always wasted in the act of engagement, disengagement, and reengagement.

Focus Matters

When there is a problem or a crisis on the job, it becomes an all hands-on deck situation. Everyone jumps in to fight the metaphorical fire. They’re focused and it makes a difference.

Focus is often connected with a timeline. It is notable in many of life’s events. On graduation day, everyone is focused on the ceremony, the totality of the grind that brought graduates to the moment. It is also true for major surgery, a wedding, and an election.

When all the stakeholders are rounded up and focused, everything else stops until the event is over.

The long-term outcomes may be more significant. What will the graduate do now? Will the heart surgery prolong life and what will that look like? Weddings are in the spirit of a lifetime and election results last for years.

Resulting Outcomes

The focus is often short-lived when compared with the outcomes. The culmination of the process leading up to the event and what follows are the outcomes of a lasting endeavor.

Never taking the moments necessary to focus, without interruption, in order to create what happens next is often the problem of a failed action.

The real-life firefighter doesn’t put down the hose to browse his or her cell phone, have a snack, or chit-chat about neighborhood drama.

Perhaps what everyone needs is a little more focus and a little less procrastination or interruptions.

Focus is efficient and effective. It matters.

-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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assessing competition

Assessing Competition, What Is Your Comparison?

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Do you have a habit of assessing competition? When you look at what is out there, compared to what you do, how do you rank? Does it matter?

I remember November in grade school. Right before the United States celebration of Thanksgiving, we made construction paper turkeys. It all started with placing your hand, palm down, and tracing around each finger on brown construction paper.

Everyone followed a template, a model, as instructed by the teacher. Yet, everyone had their own work. Right before the holiday, you got to take your turkey home to your parents. I remember my mother acting so proud of my accomplishment.

My accomplishment was a huge success. Perhaps because I followed the model or perhaps because of what it was compared to.

At home, it was only compared to my last best work. It wasn’t compared to every construction paper turkey in the County. It wasn’t compared to every similar project in the State or the US.

My project was compared to my best previous work. I was a winner because I was growing, achieving, and delighting my mother with my school work.

Assessing Competition

The best work that you’ll do this month should be a comparison of the best you’ve delivered so far.

When it delights the customer, you’ve accomplished something. It may be the best in the US or the best in the World, but it may be hard to determine because the relevance is what is happening right now, right in front of you.

What matters is that you’re solving problems, producing or providing something better than your last work. When it meets or exceeds customer expectations then it is work worth doing.

There are millions of undiscovered song writers, chefs, and engineers. It’s also true for healthcare workers, truck drivers, and backroom graphic artists.

The work that you do should always be compared to your personal best. It is how you’ll continue to delight someone, even if it is only a small group in a small town.

-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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best products

The Best Products Are Not Always Most Popular

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Do you choose the best products available? Are those products also the most popular? Is it true for the people in your workplace too?

Some products have all the rage. It’s true for household appliances, technology, and automobiles. You see it in fashion, hair styles, and vacation spots.

It’s also true with people. Performer’s, actresses, and sports stars. Even in your workplace there seems to be favorites.

Are any of these things or people the best? If so, compared to what?

What is the measurement criterion?

Popularity

Many people are sold on Apple products. Telephone’s, watches, and computing devices. Many will suggest they are the best.

Are they really the best or are they just wildly popular?

Cellular phones are popular, but which platform, Android or Apple?

You can discuss your reasons for either direction. However, much like a presidential election, choices and reasons get blurred by emotions, popularity, and opinions.

And similar to an election, if you going to discuss this, you’ll probably find argument from many that the most popular is also the best.

Is it true?

Best Products

When it comes to the best products, the best workplaces, or the best employee’s you often cannot have both the best performers and the most popular.

Most popular is a choice, the best performer is also often a choice.

Either of the two extremes seldom intersect.

Competition is a factor. How hard one product development team, an individual, or entire organization will work to beat the competition is always a factor.

You may want to reconsider the best versus most the most sought after.

With everything there is always a best kept secret.

-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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right focus

The Right Focus Can Change the Game

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Are you focused? Is it the right focus? Many people are uncertain about those questions. A big driver of focus is certainty.

It seems that there is a lot of uncertainty. An election year and the chaos of a worldwide pandemic has many people scratching their heads. They’re uncertain.

Uncertain about what is next, what to do, or which direction to turn, they don’t know how to play the game.

As a kid a remember someone breaking out a board game. Often the first question was, “How do you play?” Then the last question before getting started probably was, “What are the rules?”

It was true on the playground, even for games like chase, or some version of football or kickball. Dodgeball had its boundaries and maybe an occasional exception.

Sometimes the rules were made up as you played, sometimes they were written on the box, or provided as a paper insert. And still, sometimes they were modified to meet the circumstances.

Then there was the ending of the game. It wasn’t uncommon to hear accusations of cheating. Tommy didn’t play fair, Jimmy cheated, or Sue didn’t follow the rules.

It was all fun and games until the focus deteriorated.

Right Focus

All grown up and being in the game of business or life, cheaters are typically not welcomed. The casino doesn’t like cheating. Football and baseball don’t like cheating, and neither does the IRS.

When everyone stays within the boundaries the game is more enjoyable. People engage because they see how they can participate and improve their skills or make better decisions to be more successful.

You might suggest that they are focused.

When you hear the phrase, “Be a team player.” it just might make sense to be sure you understand the rules.

Everything else is chaos.

Focus on ways to contribute to the system instead of breaking rules.

You may sometimes need to alter the system, yet no one really appreciates people who try to cheat it.

Having the right focus helps.

-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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learning satisfaction

Learning Satisfaction Creates Commitment

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Are you committed to doing your best work? Does job satisfaction play a role? Learning satisfaction may be the first step to a more fulfilled workplace experience.

Are you interested?

Much of what creates fulfillment in your life is about balance. Too much or too little of anything and it feels like something is just not quite right.

Too many meetings, not enough time to act.

Always out on the road, missing more office time.

Too much production of the same thing, boredom and monotony.

Things changing all the time, not enough focus.

Abundance of email messages, or the opposite, no customers to serve.

It is really about figuring out how to find the balance or navigate the extremes.

No Problems, No Job

If there was nothing to address, no problems to solve, or no strategy to formulate then you probably wouldn’t have the job.

The same might be said about a travel schedule, the amount product needed or services to provide. No change means boredom, and no email messages or phone calls may signal the beginning of the end.

It also matters for communication efforts, Zoom meetings, or scheduled phone calls. Too much or too little and things just aren’t working.

Job or workplace satisfaction is a state of mind. You feel accomplished, confident, and those feelings are aligned with expectations.

What did you expect?

Learning Satisfaction

Never a meeting, never someplace to be, no interruptions, and certainly no phone calls or email messages? That certainly doesn’t seem like a recipe for success.

Satisfaction comes from recognizing that without all of the things that are too much, there probably wouldn’t be a need for your services.

Setting expectations helps navigate job satisfaction.

It may be one of the most important things to learn.

-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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best job

When The Best Job Is Your Current Job

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Do you have a great job? Do you feel stuck in a not so great job? Perhaps your best job is your current job and you don’t even realize it, yet.

Work can be tough. Navigating organizational politics, managing appropriate relationships with co-workers, and even dealing with customers or vendors. And, I didn’t even mention the boss.

Are you career minded or are you on a quest for better pay? Maybe it’s both.

Absolutely, there are some business cultures that will seemingly never change. However, there are plenty of business cultures that are looking for employees who truly want to make a difference.

Are you truly committed to the effort to make your current job your best job?

Your Best Job

It’s easy to give up, throw your hands in the air, and claim that you’ve tried. After a while, you may feel beat down, underutilized, and misunderstood.

That doesn’t mean that it is over. A new job is going to require you to double down with effort. Why not double down right where you’re at? Would that make a difference? Could it?

Sometimes the greener grass is right in your own yard.

Discovering it starts with some tough questions.

  • What is your goal? That doesn’t mean, “Find a new job.” That’s too high level, you’re going to have to go deeper and more meaningful.
  • What are the obstacles? Identifying the obstacles can help you strategize on how to move around them. Sometimes obstacles are imaginary, be sure to give your thoughts the reality check.
  • What can you cultivate? Are there relationships that need to be built? Trust that needs to be restored? Have you really put forth the right effort and attitude or have you drifted away from your best delivery?

If you can’t answer the questions above, you’re probably not ready.

Ready for what?

Basking in Greener Grass

You may not be ready to find the green grass in your own yard. Perhaps you’re not ready to put forth the right kinds of effort, patience, and strategy to achieve the most in your current role.

Have I struck a nerve?

You’re human. It is easy to drift from good habits and a good attitude. It’s easy to blame the boss, claim it’s a bad place to work and focus more on what’s wrong instead of what’s right.

Chances are that you have more to offer than what you’re currently giving.

Sometimes the magical answer appears when you ask the right question.

What’s right about your current job?

Stay focused.

-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 interpretations

Workplace Interpretations Drive Outcomes

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What are your workplace interpretations? Everyone has some. Have you considered how they drive outcomes?

It’s 2020, and we’re in the middle of a U.S. presidential election. There are lots of opinions, concerns, and hopes about what will happen next.

One person watches a democratic commercial and gets angry, a different person watches the same commercial and gets excited.

Republican commentary comes on the news. Someone will say it’s all lies, someone else will cheer for more.

And that is just connected to the election. There is more.

An on-line shopper observes a back-ordered item and believes the item has sold so well, it’s out-of-stock, what a great product and a great company. Another shopper a thousand miles away sees the same item but believes the company is lousy because they can’t build the product.

A restaurant franchise owner sees cars backing up on the street to enter the drive-through window of her establishment. She gets really excited. A passer-by sees an accident waiting to happen and believes the owner is making too much money.

The difference is in the interpretation.

Those interpretations will also condition what happens next.

Does it happen in the workplace?

Absolutely.

Workplace Interpretations

People come to work every day. They show up, follow a routine, take a deep breath and dive in. Some may drag around for a while. Slow to get started, hesitant to give their energy.

One person will see a batch of new customer orders and be excited about the opportunity. Yet, another person will see the batch of orders as the worst part of their day.

One person will see the meeting with the boss as worrisome and stressful. Another believes it is a great opportunity.

Someone will watch the clock eager to get away from work at the end of the shift. Another worries that there is not enough time in the shift to satisfy every customer.

You will interpret something today. You’ll be energized and excited, or you’ll be stressed out and maybe a little angry.

You’re part of the culture and will help create what happens next.

Which part would you rather be?

-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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problem statements

Problem Statements Create More Clarity

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The biggest problem with problems is a lack of clarity. The unknowns cause hesitation, confusion, and weaken commitment. Are you using problem statements?

People often attempt to define problems by reporting a symptom.

I can’t connect to the internet.

I have to lose some weight.

My car won’t start.

All of these sound like problems, yet they are not getting to the root cause. When we aren’t at the root, the next move is unclear, and often the problem doesn’t get solved.

What is worse, is that an assumed solution to a symptom allows the problem to happen again. Over and over.

Symptom statements differ from problem statements. And, yes, we may often use a symptom statement to lead us to the problem.

It’s important to recognize that there are differences.

Problem Statements and Clarity

When you lack clarity with the problem definition, the goal is unlikely to be achieved.

You can’t fix it or achieve it if you don’t appropriately define it.

You probably won’t increase sales by stating that sales numbers are too low. Stating that you want or need a new job won’t make one magically appear.

Many people get stuck, they become stalled and are very frustrated because the change they seek is not happening. It may all be the result of not being clear about the problem.

When you start forward motion with a good problem statement and you are able to identify and label the root cause, you’re on your way.

Are you growing tired of lingering problems?

Perhaps you aren’t clear about what they are.

-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 efficiencies

Workplace Efficiencies Are Different From Being Busy

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Efficient work is important work. Workplace efficiencies are not synonymous with being busy or productive.

Often when you ask someone, “How is business?”

They will respond with, “Busy.”

A similar response may be received for, “How was your day?”

Does Busy Matter?

People are busy. The workplace hustle keeps everyone on their toes. Whether you are WFH (Working from Home) or working in a more conventional setting, busy feels good.

There are variations of busy.

I’ve processed 100 email messages this morning.

It’s hard to get anything done with so many interruptions.

Today feels slow, but I’m staying busy.

None of these mean that you are working efficiently, or that you are productive.

Unknowingly, some organizations develop a culture of busy. In a culture of busy, work is often measured by motion. Who or what appears to be energized and active? When motion is observed, they’re busy.

This makes managing in remote or WFH settings even more interesting. What was once gauged as productive and efficient is now unknown. Although in reality, it may have never been known and certainly not efficient or productive.

Workplace Efficiencies

In service sectors, anything from Healthcare, to wedding planning, to pet sitting, efficiency matters. While you may be efficient, you may not be productive.

The dog walker may be efficient when taking your pet for a stroll, but productive may mean they can walk two or three dogs at a time.

Running a smooth operation means you need to be more than busy. It means that you should be efficient, but also highly productive.

Doing rework, work with a lot of motion but not going anywhere, or efficiencies that lack scale, are not necessarily productive.

Maybe we should change the answer.

How is business?

Productive.

-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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