Tag Archives: focus

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work habits

Work Habits Help You Get Ahead

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Have you examined your work habits? Not the special things that happen once in a great while, but true habits?

Society is often focused on the shiny object. The person with the highest score, the prettiest face, and the most notable position. Similar to how things often go in our workplace too.

Chasing Shiny Objects

Winners are important, but sometimes the person in the spotlight is not the only person working hard. Discouragement may come to mind when everyone other than the shiny object person gets the spotlight.

It’s important to consider because only a select few get the spotlight, yet the work contributions of the many have substantial impact.

Lots of students play high school sports, only a few go on to professional sports success. There are plenty of engineers, attorneys, and PhD’s, yet only a few may be highly recognized or achieve the headliner of, “Award Winning.”

You don’t have to be a farmer to have a patio garden. You may build a dog house but not be a carpenter. Driving to work every day doesn’t mean you’re ready for the NASCAR circuit.

Work Habits

As the supervisor, manager, or team leader in your workplace you may not get as much bling as the CEO or President. The same is true for every employee. Yet, your contributions every day will matter.

The work you’ll do today and every day across time adds up. It adds up for your career, and it adds up for the success of the business or organization.

Doing what you do matters. Doing it consistently across time matters even more.

When you want to get ahead, achieving the shiny object may not be the best focal point. Recognizing the outcomes from your efforts and contributions across time may be very rewarding, without even without the bling.

See it for yourself.

Help others do the same.

-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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shiny object

Shiny Object Chasing and Your Focus

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Are you focused on what needs to be accomplished? Do you go after the shiny object?

Many workplaces are filled with drama. Stepping back and looking at the drama we may realize that it is the excitement or interest that is attractive. The gossip, the mismanaged conflict, or the turmoil.

 

It may seem polite to ask someone about their day.

How’s it going?

What are you up to?

Did you have a good day?

Sometimes we listen and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes the question is asked only in an attempt to break the ice. In other cases, it is asked to create a distraction, shift the focus, or break up the monotony.

Describing What’s Interesting

When people respond about their day, they are often telling their story. Perhaps an attention capturing story. Responding with my day is, “okay,” is very different from, “I’m about to flip out on the boss.”

The shiny object syndrome applies to our workplace life in many ways. It is often suggested that this syndrome means we can’t focus and we’re always chasing something new, different, or presumably more attractive.

As soon as you start a conversation about focus it won’t be long until someone brings up ADD or ADHD. Certainly, this could apply to those who truly have a professional medical diagnosis. However, for everyone, what you focus on is what you get.

Shiny Object Chasing

What you focus on becomes a core part of the story you tell. The story you tell is your narrative. It is how you see and describe what is happening for you and those around you.

Chances are good that everyone has a part of their day that is both good and bad. Sometimes the good things just don’t seem as exciting as the bad.

Instead of looking for what is bad, try looking for what is good. Don’t let the shiny objects be the ones tarnished with doom and gloom. Don’t allow the most exciting things to be made of self-destruction, or worse, team destruction.

There is nothing shiny about gossip, mismanaged conflict, and turmoil.

Stay focused on things that positively, not negatively, are shiny.

-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 attention

Work Attention and Why It Matters for Culture

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Is work attention making a difference for your workplace culture? The psychology of work is important and it makes a difference for your culture.

Absolutely, yes, people still concentrate. Some claim that they are required to do it by multitasking.

For the record, many researchers believe cognitive multitasking is a myth.

Waiting and Focus

There are claims about ADHD, or in more relaxed forms it may be labeled ADD. Largely the medical community identifies this as a proven disorder, yet some naysayers disagree.

Regardless of any diagnosis, attention is harder to come by these days. The lure of attention to something more interesting is hard to break.

Anytime there is waiting, attention starts to drift. It drifts to a Smartphone or even to simple day-dreaming.

It happens before meetings, during meetings, and immediately following meetings. There is checking of email, text messaging, and social media feeds.

Often, the question for organizations or for the basis of workplace culture is, “How do we get more attention?”

Quest for Attention

Clever marketing programs, social feeds, and even television commercials spar for attention.

The quest for attention in the workplace is often attempted by force.

Turn off your cell phones.

Put your phones away.

No cell phones beyond this point.

In some cases, it is presented as a security threat, or a threat to intellectual property. In other cases, it is designed to create focus or allow for more concentration.

Work Attention

Everywhere you go people are jockeying for attention. It is true for the internet search algorithm and it is true for human-to-human message reception.

For organizational culture, attention is more important now than ever. It is much better as a pull attribute instead of push.

When your message is compelling enough to capture full attention without a push for attention you’re winning.

Maybe it is even delivered via a device.

-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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future energy

Future Energy Spent Today is More Productive

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Do you have a full plate? Are you spending your future energy on something meaningful? Are you fighting today’s fires with little regard to what will matter next year?

Often work feels daunting. It is easy to get stressed out when pressure is applied. Anxiety levels go up and often your feeling of being able to cope with the rising challenge goes down.

What are you stressing about today? What is on your plate for this week, next week, and the coming month? Have you considered what emergencies might arise?

Strategic Outcomes

In your workplace, a sense of urgency can sometimes be helpful. It keeps people focused and gives a specific purpose to accomplish specific work in a specific timeline. Focus is good, it always beats the alternative.

How are you spending your energy? Is anxiety eating you alive or do you feel more in control?

Outside of a life changing event, can you remember any of the things that made you nervous or anxious a year ago? Is the analogy of fighting fires wearing you down?

For most people, looking back, they couldn’t tell you about a specific time when they were running late, had a typo in the client proposal, or blurted out something in a meeting that they later regretted.

Yet in those moments, a year ago, you spent a lot of energy worrying about those outcomes. Yes, the outcomes still matter, and yes, we should learn from mistakes and try to improve. Yet, there may be a better way to spend your energy.

Future Energy

The short-run game can be dangerous. It is a fire-fighting approach. When the emergency happens, we react.

Certainly, within the bounds of your strategy the short-run game is executed. Your strategy should allow for some fluidity, and as changes pop-up you’ll have to pivot.

The other end of the continuum is the long-run game. Strategy for the long-run game leverages future energy today.

Instead of looking back and wondering what mattered last year and then asking yourself, “How did I get here?” It may be better to ask, “What impact can I make today, that will still matter, or be even more important next year?”

Long-run games require more patience. They also require commitment and focus.

-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 comparison

Workplace Comparison and Judgement

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The conversation often starts with a workplace comparison. Someone else did it wrong, someone else had permission, or everybody does it.

Often it seems we live life in comparison. The grass is always greener. Someone else was lucky, or they must come from money.

The Illusion of Shortcuts

It may be a way to create blame or it may be a way explain shortcomings. It may also be a lure into the trap that shortcuts exist and the best way to get ahead is knowing how to navigate them.

When you look for the bad, the things that could go wrong, or a reason why it won’t work, you’ll likely find it. Finding someone or some circumstance to blame may be self-protection or it may create a reason to give up before you get started.

Careers have a beginning and an ending, and a whole lot of stuff that happens in the middle. You work for a paycheck, job satisfaction, or to make a difference.

You also probably wonder from time-to-time if you are getting left behind.

There are some guarantees. One guarantee is that when you compare your life’s work against another’s, you’ll find some differences.

Workplace Comparison

Some people are worn out, tired, and want a break. Some will cite fear, hesitation, and hurry as the cause for their outcome.

There will still be other onlookers who claim the shortcut was the reason.

The shortcut is an illusion. An assumption that because you know now, and didn’t before, you’ll be able to get there quicker.

Speed may matter, and so will timing.

Comparison over action may be similar to a dog chasing its tail, or the rocking chair on the front porch. Lots of activity, things in motion, but no one is going anywhere.

Shortcuts are often an illusion and so is the comparison.

Reserve judgment and 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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wide focus

Are You Using a Wide Focus or Narrow?

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There is a mindset today, more is better. Certainly, more can make a difference but it may not always be the path to greatness. Is your focus wide, big, or for everyone? What is better a wide focus or narrow and targeted?

Wide Focus

Bernie Sanders wrote a book and sold a lot of copies. Part of his recently self-proclaimed millionaire status seemingly developed from book sales.

Someone creates a YouTube video and they hope that it goes viral bringing fast notoriety and perhaps some wealth thereafter.

It is also true for many social media posts, the podcast, and the daily blog. More hits, a bigger audience, and therefore, success.

In some of these cases, the popular approach or thought is, “Go as big and wide as possible, attract everyone!”

It seems to make sense. Create a sensation, a wave, and an overnight success.

Is Narrow Better?

If mom and pops dinner, with seating to accommodate 75, suddenly had 250 people show up for breakfast, it would be a problem.

When the small bar in Nashville reaches capacity, those who can’t enter have a different experience.

When the Boeing 737-800 reaches 162 passengers, no more will fit. The flight may be oversold. Anxious and angry passengers are the result.

Imagine the disappointment for all the kids who didn’t get a Cabbage Patch Kid, a Teddy Ruxpin, or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle because the stores sold out during the holiday season.

Wide or Narrow?

The work that you are doing right now may feel like it needs a wide focus. Yet there will still be many people and businesses who focus narrower.

The commitment is different, they scale differently, the goals and objectives hint more about quality than about quantity.

The mom and pop restaurant may win big by always being near capacity but not over. The flying experience for passengers is probably better when the flight is slightly less than sold out.

Sometimes being just right is better than being too much.

Just right will probably win the long game.

What is your plan?

-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 endurance

Workplace Endurance or Getting Through the Day?

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People often say, “I just have to make it through this day.” Does this feel like a challenge you’ve faced? Do you have workplace endurance and what is most important?

Funny, I often ask seminar participants about workplace motivation. Somewhere the obvious initial response is about money, “We have to pay the bills.”

Another question, or rabbit hole, is related to focus. Focus is critical, focus on the wrong things and you get poor results. Focus on nothing and you may get nothing.

Getting Results

In order to make it through the day people often break down their tasks or duties. Shorter vision, get through the hour, past the lunch break, and now you are more than half way through.

However, the organization often measures results across more than a single day. Results are the outcomes of each minute, hour, and day, repeated across time.

Making it through the toughest of days often conditions your success. The day we feel most challenged is the day we either decide enough is enough, or we make it through, adding to our continued contribution.

The challenge of all of this comes down to vision and focus. Often the frustrated employee has a very short vision. They believe in just making it through the day.

Workplace Endurance

What is important to keep in mind is that while making it through the day is critical, their workplace life or career is really about a bigger vision.

The contribution that you make today may be assessed, but it is your endurance, the long-term, that ultimately has the most impact.

One thousand jelly beans get in the jar, bean by bean. Your glass of water fills from the bottom up, one drop at a time. A tree grows each day, but we seldom notice, only gaining appreciation after years of making it through each day.

You’ll do something today. It is important, yet your endurance will matter the most.

-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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job appreciation

How Long Does Job Appreciation Last?

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Is appreciation important? At your workplace is job appreciation plentiful?

As with most things in life, job appreciation may be the result of our efforts.

When was the last time you heard, “Thank you, nice work!”?

This is a question I often ask in leadership or cultural development seminars. Reactions vary, but largely it stumps the group. They can’t seem to quickly remember when they’ve heard it, or said it. Some will scoff and shout, “Never!”

Good Focus

We have good days and bad days. When was the last time you said, “Thank you, you just made my day!”?

The best workplace cultures have the determination to place value on appreciation. Not to the extent that praise is overcooked and it becomes a mild form of sarcasm. It must however, have significant emphasis and focus.

We seem to remember vividly the last time someone hurt our feelings, harshly criticized our work, or when we somehow missed the big opportunity.

As a natural human reaction to avoid hurt and pain, our brains try to learn. Yet to learn, we analyze and replay those memories much more than our successes. Some would suggest we are hard-wired this way. It is our evolution, it is in our genes.

Job Appreciation

Should we make job appreciation last longer? Should we try to consciously use our energy to remember the good, relive the success, and focus vividly on accomplishments? Is giving encouragement and praise a cultural value?

The answer seems clear and easy.

In order to do this though, it requires effort and strength. It requires us to put emphasis on the positive. We need to use our energy wisely, share success, and congratulate others.

It is easy to state that you are trying to be positive. Much more difficult is putting it into motion.

In the workplace, it may start by seeing the value that everyone brings to the table. It may start by saying, “Thank you, nice work!”

-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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managing time

How Are You Managing Time?

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Time management sounds like a boring topic. It seems like everyone should just get it. We often think, “Do it right, do the right stuff, be effective and efficient.” Are you managing time properly?

What’s Your Focus?

The golden rule that we’ve all heard is that we all have the same amount of time. Certainly, it’s true. Twenty-four hours in a day, seven days a week, and we’re all counting.

Consistent with that thinking, time, it seems, isn’t really our problem. It is how we decide, or feel forced to decide, how we will spend it. What space will we occupy or what activity will we do during our time.

Here lies the real challenge. Do you have the dedication, the devotion, and the focus to really be productive? Are you committed to making the most of your time?

It may require emotional labor. Emotional labor feels hard, exhausting, and makes us question the return on investment. However, it may be necessary to make the best use of your time.

Managing Time

The first step to understanding how we manage our time comes from self-assessment. How are you utilizing your breaks? Are you taking a short brisk walk? That may be productive if you need better fitness.

What are your distractions? Are you creating them or are the result of others? Walking to the coffee pot or the break room may be a distraction. How many trips are you making?

Asking your co-worker across the cube if they watched the Grammy awards the night before, or the latest episode of the Walking Dead, or the Presidential Rally is likely inviting a delay of the real work to be done.

Assess the next three or four hours of your work. What are the time wasters? What activities are you substituting into the mix to procrastinate about the real work to be done? If you’re honest, you may be surprised.

Managing time, we all have the same amount.

-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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