Tag 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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gone sideways

Gone Sideways and Self-Help For Your Efforts

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Have you ever felt like the project took a wrong turn? Have things gone sideways? Maybe you don’t even notice it, yet?

Committed people sometimes do some very strange things. Onlookers wonder why the commitment sticks even when there is evidence clearly illustrating it’s failing.

In all likelihood, there are multiple angles or points of view. One of the common yet somewhat unrealized traps is staying committed because of all the effort already put in.

It’s often hard to make the right choice. Someone wants to abort the project early and someone else wants to hang in there because, “We’ve already invested so much.”

Everyone recognizes hindsight often tells a different story, either way.

The right now is not hindsight and it’s also not foresight.

What should you do?

Gone Sideways

For the customer, you need to do the right thing. For the team and even your community, you must do the right thing.

Yes, even for yourself, you must make a good decision now.

Many people believe that every day they are in a tactical firefight at their workplace. So many things happening so fast, so many loose ends, and so much drama.

What do they do?

They fight the fire. They address problems as emergencies and face the wrath of whatever unfolds next.

Problem-solving is a key skill for leadership. If you are good at it, you should be proud. However, when tactical firefights are so commonplace that you fail to execute strategy everyone loses.

The project gone sideways either needs to stop, start again, or redirect. Stuck won’t work and neither will additional wasted effort.

The same is true with poorly performing employees.

Learning from the past is powerful. It goes hand-in-hand with knowing when to pivot.

A strategic focus needs a tactical approach.

Tactics only, without a vision for the future, are sure to send you sideways.

You don’t have to believe it now, but you will when you check your data.

Commit to the strategy. The tactics of getting there may need to be adjusted.

-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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new commitments

New Commitments Are Often Necessary

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There might be a change happening, are you aware? New commitments are often necessary and being committed will make a difference for success.

The Olympic diver needs to be committed. So does the Bob Sled team.

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley had to be committed, so did NASA, SpaceX, and the Falcon 9.

Business or Personal Change

Our workplaces are experiencing massive change. It is happening in businesses, K-12, and higher education.

Are commitments necessary?

Have you asked yourself or your team recently, “What are we committed to?”

Commitment creates focus and focus will always impact results. A focus on nothing, will get you nothing.

What are you committed to?

Are you committed to a revenue goal, a project milestone, or a career path?

If it is going to happen, focus will be required.

Change often develops in the workplace from both internal and external forces. The 2020 pandemic has ensured that there are some external forces putting pressure on businesses. Change is not an option.

Successful change will require a commitment.

Are you ready? Is the team?

New Commitments

In competitive sports or a rocket launch, there is a commitment. Part of the commitment is focused on a timed event. Once the countdown clock begins there is little chance of turning back.

There is not an opportunity to hesitate or stop. Once it is go, it’s go. All that remains is to perform.

Workplace change often fails because of a lack of commitment. It is also true for the career change or better eating habits.

Maybe it is time you ask yourself if you are committed.

You better know before the countdown clock starts.

-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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bad idea people

Bad Idea People and Committing to a New Direction

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You probably know some bad ideal people. I’m not referencing people who have failure ideas. I’m referencing people who think every new idea, is a bad idea.

Do you know someone like this?

Brainstorming is a worthy adventure. Properly executed a good facilitator can really help intact teams break some new ground.

Good facilitation comes from expertise as a facilitator, not as a subject matter expert. His or her job is to ask questions, get thoughts flowing, ask more questions, better questions, and bring forward things that may have otherwise never surfaced.

Questions Matter

Everyone should ask more questions.

Challenging the process has good value. However, being the flow zapper, energy robber, or the negative Nellie should be left out.

Every new idea should be challenged.

Every old idea, if it is still worthy of discussion, it should be challenged too.

Most good plans aren’t chiseled in stone. The best plans allow for fluidity, adjustment, and redirection. They have metrics and measurements, timelines and milestones.

Put the wrong ideas into motion and you’re wasting precious time and other valuable resources.

Bad Idea People

There are many forces connected with change. The best way to navigate it is to start with a good plan. Good plans develop from good questions.

The worst way to navigate is blocking new direction by suggesting everything is a bad idea.

Use questions for pursuit of the purpose, not for the pursuit of stopping or blocking.

Bad idea people are a distraction from your purpose.

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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framed decisions

Framed Decisions Condition Future Outcomes

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Everyone wants to make good decisions. Are you decisive or indecisive? Will framed decisions make a difference?

The easy answer is, they always do.

Perhaps the next question should be, how?

Without careful consideration everyone is making their decisions or choices within a frame. Framing a problem is generally constructive, it helps create focus and piece together the best possible solution. Decisions are made within the frame.

When you expand or contract the frame, the picture and outcomes may change.

“I want a new cell phone,” is very different from, “I want a new Samsung cell phone.” It’s different because the frame is different.

How are you framing the decisions that you make?

Framed Decisions

The decisions you make and the frame you place around options and choices are part of a compromise. You are compromising on future outcomes and directions based on the frame.

The compromise can make a decision come to a conclusion, or it can prolong a decision creating a lack of commitment.

Framing your decision alters the possibilities and future outcomes.

It is true for deciding what you’ll have for dinner and it is true for the scope of your marketing plan.

It is always important to establish a frame. The frame helps guide clarity and it also will limit the possibilities. Limiting the possibilities can be constructive, or if brainstorming, perhaps not so constructive.

What you do next for your career or your organization will have a lot to do with your frame.

Consider setting the size of you frame appropriate for the pursuit of your vision. No limits doesn’t always mean no limits, sometimes it means reaching beyond your frame.

-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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work from home

5 Tips To Help You Work From Home

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There are some people who just realized their dream opportunity. Largely, this sudden shift may feel more like a nightmare to many people. Are you prepared to work from home?

More or less I have worked from home for the past 14 years. I’ve had part-time offices out of my home and spent many hours onsite at client locations. However, when I’m grinding out new content, writing, studying, and preparing for deliveries, I’m often at home.

Work From Home

First, let me say that there are pros and cons. I spent over 20 years working in conventional workplace settings. I definitely recognize both sides of this story.

Solitude can drive you mad. Yes, it seems kinda cool at first, but after some time you miss the interactions and sometimes the climate of a face-to-face team. There is also no one immediately available to bounce ideas off of, except for your plant or a family pet.

Let me jump right in. Here are five tips to help you get started, stay productive, and not feel like you’re totally alone.

  1. Set a schedule. Planning to do things when you get around to it is probably a bad idea. If you’re planning to do some wash, run the vacuum, or get a snack for the kids you are best to plan around a schedule. A schedule keeps you focused during high energy times of the day and helps you avoid time sucking distractions. Productivity is going to be important so set a schedule.
  2. Prepare a work space. A home office is ideal. However, you can also use your kitchen island, a coffee table, or a stand up desk by using your ironing board. Your best work is going to occur if you can establish a place to setup and keep it somewhat permanent. Using your laptop on your recliner may work for processing some email but your best work is going to occur from a little bit more rigid work space.
  3. Block out distractions. It may feel pretty cool to have the news on the TV, or be jamming to music so loud that the neighbors can hear it, but these are largely distractions. While everyone is different and some will think that they work better with these distractions I encourage you to think twice. Every time you pause to think about something else, something different, or throw in the next load of laundry you are wasting time and more importantly energy.
  4. Take some breaks. A break is not necessarily a distraction. It can be an energizer. It can also be very healthy both emotionally and physically. Your best-case scenario is to plan your breaks. Set a timer and forget about it until you are alerted. You could take break every hour or every two or three. They are important and don’t skip too many.
  5. Teamwork. If you you’re working remotely with a team a great energizer is to plan for team calls or video chats. One way is to plan a call for every two hours. The team quickly assembles at the appropriate time and in a round-robin approach you take turns talking about what you accomplished since you last spoke and what you plan to accomplish in the next time slot. This call should last no more than 15 minutes. It is a quick huddle, and energizer, and a great way to hold each other accountable.

Working from home is just that, it’s work. Yes, you may be able to dress down a bit and yes, you may have some additional flexibility but there is still plenty of work to be done so don’t coast.

-DEG

You may also be interested in the Managing Remote Work Teams or Master Your Work From Home Environment webinar(s).

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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