Hate Managing People? Manage Work Instead.

I was reading the ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) blog (which I highly recommend) and they referenced some old ways of thinking as being “stuck in aMad Men time warp.”  I found the reference hilarious having actually worked in a company that was stuck in a Mad Men time warp.

Given the memes of our times, it is hard to not get stuck in a TTWWADI (That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It) rut about how work happens.  Sometimes we don’t even know we are in one.  Our beliefs about how work happens are even in songs likeDolly Parton’s”9 to 5″  and Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money.”  The idea that work only happens between 9 and 5 is based on a more industrial age mindset that your body must be present for a certain number of hours for work to happen.  This mindset is based on having none of the following technology:

  • internet
  • e-mail
  • web meetings
  • laptops
  • smart phones
  • iPads
  • laptops
  • social media

For work to happen, you had to be there.

Today we are in more of what Dave Buck refers to as an “inspiration economy.” Here you are not just a worker, but a player in the games of life – and one of those games is the great game of business.  You are no longer just a cog in the wheel serving a purpose for the organization but a creative individual serving a purpose in your own life. It is a more knowledge and inspiration based economy.  In this environment, work could sometimes look like this:  “nothing, nothing, nothing, FLASH OF BRILLIANCE, nothing, nothing, nothing...”  And in that one flash of brilliance you could create something that saves the company thousands of dollars or innovate something that earns the company thousands.

Performance Support Partners-Managing Time Instead of Results?

Even though times and technology have changed, our cultural mindsets about work are slow to follow.  Let’s start with the mindset that work only happens between 9am and 5pm.  Just because you are at work, doesn’t mean you are working.   I’ll use myself as an example. The earlier I have to get up, the less activity I can force out of my brain.  Coffee helps, but not that much.  My brain really doesn’t start swing into gear until around 10:00 am.  This is not something I control. Like Lady Gaga said, “I was born this way.”  When not on a strict schedule, I lean toward staying up late, and sleeping in late.  That seems to be my natural circadian rhythm.  I reach my highest level of productivity that way.

Employers that punish staff for arriving at 8:05 am rather than 8:00 am when there is no specific reason for them to be there at that time (i.e. a client meeting) are nurturing what Jodi Thompson and Cali Ressler calls “presenteeism.” You are present, but not working.  I have also heard it referred to as “retired on the job” and “dead people walking.”   Presenteeism is nurtured by managing people instead of work.  Or, you could say you are managing time instead of results.

In a Results Only Work Environment, the outcomes drive the activity.  ROWE employees are in complete control of their time as long as they are getting the results they have been hired to achieve.  Leaving at 2:00 pm is not leaving early, and arriving at 2:00 pm is not arriving late.  Because you are focused on results and not time, it doesn’t matter what hours or how many hours you work.  If you are like me, you might be in your most brilliant mode at midnight riding a wave of inspiration.

Think about it for a minute.  What if your business were performance and results focused instead of time focused?  How would your business change if you no longer monitored time, because time didn’t matter?   Heretical, isn’t it?  But Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler at CultureRx are helping companies lead the way to do just that.

Intrigued about ROWE?  As a business coach, I am always reading business books.  It is something I love to do.  If you think that ROWE could help your business, I highly recommend Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix It: A Results-Only Guide to Taking Control of Work, Not People by Jody Thompson, and Cali Ressler.  It will knock you in the head and make you say “I could’ve had a V-8.”  It is the follow-up to Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution.

As a career coach, one of the questions I explore with my clients is “what kind of work environment do you do your best work?”  For example:

  • What is your most productive work space? Is it in a Starbucks coffee shop? Is it on your bean bag chair in your living room?
  • What work cultures have you thrived in?
  • What about the culture did you find helpful, reasonable, supportive, optimistic, trusting and energizing?
  • What workplace processes support you in doing your best work?
  • What processes, when improved will increase your efficiency and productivity?
  • Do you work best in a group?  Alone?  Some combination?

A ROWE provides the opportunity to design the environment that you do your best work.  Click here to read Brook Mitchell tell about her experience of working in a ROWE.

A ROWE doesn’t care that you need to take your kids to the doctor at 8:00 am, or leave at 1:00 pm to watch your kid’s school play.  You can take in an afternoon matinee if you want, and you can have four weeks of vacation.  You are an adult that makes the best decisions about how to use your time.  As long as you are getting the work done, and achieving the results you have agreed to, you can do what you want with your time.

Performance Support Partners - Managing Time Instead of Results?

In a ROWE, they want to remove sludgewhich is a judgment and beliefs around time.  Examples of sludge might be something like this:

John: “It is 10:00 am and you are just getting in?”
Judy: “I had to take my kids to preschool, and then I got stuck in traffic.” 

Jane: (thinking to herself) “I think I will head home, finish a few errands and work from home the rest of the day.”  (Prepares to leave.)
John: “It’s 2:00 pm.  Where are you going”?
Jane: “Uh…I have a doctor’s appointment.  See you later!”

Kathy: “Did you see how many times Sally went out to smoke today?  She isn’t putting in 40 hours.  Yesterday, she took a 2-hour lunch”.
John: “I think I will start smoking so I can take off time from work.”

People respond to sludging by coming up with an excuse that makes sure other people know why they aren’t working.  They come up with a socially acceptable excuse so people don’t think they are slacking off.  In a ROWE, hours are not the currency. As long as you are getting the work done, it doesn’t matter what time you come in the office, or if you even come in. Sludge is considered toxic and a waste of time. In a ROWE, you are focused on results not time.

From a business perspective there are other benefits. You stop wasting time on tracking time.  Presenteeism disappears because people start finding more efficient ways of doing things so they can get their work done faster.  If you find a way to get your work done faster, you aren’t penalized with more work.  Customer service improves.  ROWE is a beacon that attracts talented people, reduces employee turnover, increases productivity, and can reduce brick and mortar costs.

We are moving out of an industrial age economy and brick and mortar work places to a more knowledge based work that uses technology tools to communicate and get the work done.  You don’t have to be in the brick and mortar building to communicate, because you can meet via web meeting, teleconference, chat and more.  You can leave messages via voice mail, chat, e-mail and more.

If you are doing any of the following things you are managing people or time:

  • watching when people come in and leave
  • watching when people leave for lunch and return
  • counting sick days
  • counting vacation days
  • hi fiving people that come in early and leave late

Start managing work and results instead.

Some people say that a ROWE wouldn’t work in all environments.  But, doesn’t every work environment need to achieve results?

For me, this is a pretty darn exciting idea, and I will be talking more about it in future articles. A ROWE environment is a win-win for careerists and businesses alike.  Many times I have had colleagues say, I don’t want to manage people any more.   Who could blame them?  Now, you can manage the work instead.  And let people manage themselves.

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Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that.  Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse.  Want to chat with Coach Mia?  Contact Coach Mia.

Is Your Office a Monkey-Free Zone?

Is your office a monkey-free zone?

Performance Support Partners - Monkey Free Zone

“What?” you say.  Let me explain.  If I didn’t laugh, I would cry over some of the stories I have heard about experiences in the corporate world.  It amazes me that so many managers go down the wrong path in trying to motivate their employees to behave differently.

My friend relayed a story about how his office decided that there was too much negativity in the work place and they needed to do something about it.  Negativity can be contagious, and eliminating workplace negativity would be a positive thing.

Their strategy was to create a rule that if an employee said something negative, they would have to keep a monkey (a children’s stuffed animal) at your desk at all times.  The only way you could get rid of the monkey was to wait to hear someone else saying something negative and then give the monkey to them.

I am sure that the intent was to motivate people to be more positive and create more awareness around when employees were being perceived as speaking negatively. And, I am sure this was meant to be funny.  However, treating adults like children never brings out the best in them.  And making them keep a monkey at their desk is akin to making them wear a dunce hat and sit in a corner. It is bully-like behavior and its purpose is to shame.  Shame creates bad feelings. Bad feelings shut down creativity, dampen morale and it shuts down higher order thinking skills (HOTS) which is possibly a much worse consequence than ‘negative’ talk.

One consequence at his workplace was it created what can be facetiously called themonkey effectIt caused a lack of trust and a hesitation to speak openly about issues that could be perceived as negative.  When prodded for more information, they began to ask “is this a monkey-free zone?” before being willing to provide input. In meetings to solve problems where it is important to discuss challenges that need addressed, staff were hesitant to discuss their thoughts and opinions for fear of it being perceived as ‘negative’ talk.  They didn’t want to be shamed with the monkey.

So, I ask, is your office a monkey-free zone?

What can you do about negativity in the workplace? While there is a long list of things we could talk about, let’s start with the most easily identifiable form which is a complaint.  Instead of putting up a sign with a red circle around the word complaints, here are some tips to turn a negative into something more positive, by making someone feel heard, feel empowered and possibly even create positive change.

Listen to complaints with a mindset that there is valuable information in the complaint.

Victim language is a pattern in language which usually indicates that the person feelspowerless to make a change.  Complaints are a form of victim language. (Now that you know this, you are going to complain less, now aren’t you?!) This sounds like a bad thing, but there are a lot of benefits and valuable information that can be obtained from listening to complaints.

What are some of the benefits and valuable information you gain from complaints?

 Complaints shine a light on something that can be fixed or streamlined to be made better, improving the work environment and possibly morale.

  • If one person complains, chances are that there are 10 other people that have the same complaint that won’t speak up.  Instead, they will silently withdraw or leave.  Listening to the one person that is willing to speak up gives you the opportunity to take action early.
  • A complaint tells you what the person is committed to or what the person values.  For example, if they are complaining about something that is inefficient and ineffective, you know that they are committed to or value something that is most likely opposite of their complaint – a work environment that is efficient and effective.  They may not even be aware that they have these values.  It may be unconscious. It gives you an opportunity to understand them better and to acknowledge the values that you are observing to build a better relationship.  The more awareness someone has about themselves, the better decisions they tend to make.

Guideposts for listening to complaints

Here are a few guideposts to using your advanced communication skills to make the person feel heard and understood, find the value in the complaint, and give them a path to feeling empowered again.

  1. Listen to the complaint with non judgmental awareness.  What is non judgmental awareness? This means that your tone remains charge-neutral, you do not judge, you do not try to ‘fix’ anything but stay curious and explore further if you want more details. The ability of the mind to observe without adding layers of bias, criticism and unnecessary analysis make the awareness non-judgmental.  An example might be watching a leaf drop from a tree in the autumn season. You don’t know where it is going to float to next and you just observe its motion floating and swirling naturally in the air.  There are no projections of what will happen in the future because you are only observing what is happening now and nothing else.
  2. Confirm your understanding. If they said, “I should have gotten a better raise.”  Confirm your understanding of what they said.  For example, you might say “I hear your frustration.  You feel you should have gotten a better raise.”
  3. Ask if they are just venting, or do they want your help? This is a clarifying question that helps bring awareness to both of you as to whether they just needed an understanding ear to hear them out, or if they really want some help from you.  Because if they are just venting, the worst thing you can do is to try to fix or solve the problem.  They are not engaging you to solve the problem, they just want to vent.  They may not even be aware of this themselves.  If they confirm that they are just venting, you might say, “Okay, I want you to vent another two minutes to get it out of your system, but then we move on to happier and fun things. Agreed?”  This brings awareness to them that you want to be there for them to vent, but not forever.
  4. If they aren’t venting and want help, ask yourself, “What are they committed to?” or “What do they value?” This is usually something opposite of what the complaint is about.  Once you understand what they are committed to or value, acknowledge that by stating it to them. This is a powerful technique to make a person feel heard and understood. It also helps you to uncover the positive intent of a complaint.  For example, you might say, “It sounds like you are committed to good wages” or “It sounds like you value good wages.”  They may not even be consciously aware that this is a value they hold in themselves, until you state it.  Hearing it from you may be very eye opening.
  5. Ask an open ended question that empowers and challenges them to make a change. This must be asked with non judgmental awareness as described above in a charge-neutral tone.  Avoid yes or no closed ended questions.  You might ask, “What do you think is your next best step to earning more money?”  Or, “What do you think you would like to do about it?” This step helps move the person out of powerlessness into a sense of empowerment into the possibility of taking an action to initiate a change.

Examples:

How do you listen to complaints - Performance Support Partners

Employee: “We have too many meetings.”
You: “You feel we have too many meetings.”
Employee: “Yes. They are a waste of time.”
You: “Can I clarify – are you just venting?  Or do you want me to brainstorm about it with you?”
Employee: “Good question.  I hadn’t thought about that.  I think I really want to brainstorm ways to improve it.  For one, thing I think they could be made so much more productive if we had an agenda.”
You: “I know you are committed to making productive use of meeting time”.
Employee: “Yes, it would be beneficial to everyone.”
You: “What do you think are some things you could do to make them more productive in addition to an agenda?”

Employee: “My boss micromanages me.”
You: “You feel that you are micromanaged”
Employee: “Yes. It drives me crazy, and I can’t do my best work that way.”
You: “I can tell that is frustrates you.  Can I clarify – are you just venting?  Or do you want to talk about how you might address it with your boss?”
Employee: “I have no idea how to address it.”
You: “I know you are committed to doing your best work and you need more autonomy to do it.  What do you think would help you most in addressing it with your boss?”
Employee: “I just don’t know how to bring it up or what to say.”
You: “Would you like to set aside some time to brainstorm things to say and ways to bring it up in a way that is productive?”
Employee: Yes, that would be great.  I would like that very much.

There are many things to look at when addressing negativity in the workplace.  However, please do make it a monkey-free zone. By shifting your mindset from a complaint is something negative to a complaint is an opportunity to streamline your work environment, gain valuable information and encourage action or change is an excellent start.  Using these techniques will make a person feel heard, model a way to communicate when listening to a complaint, as well as support them in moving out of feeling powerless and into feeling empowered to make a change.

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Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that.  Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse.  Want to chat with Coach Mia?  Contact Coach Mia.

Are you “Working for the Weekend?” The Patterns in Language of Work, Job and Play

Whether you are a future cubicle escapee longing for satisfying work or corporate refugeehaving been displaced by downsizing, right sizing or some other means of being severed from a corporate career – you have used the pattern language of work.  Its meaning can be different to different people.

When I talk to people about work, some of the patterns in language emerge.  When ‘work’ does not allow us to use our talents and or is not aligned with our values, some of the patterns I have observed are:

Pattern Language of Work

Dread
Ball and chain
Can’t wait until 5:00 pm
TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday)
Working for the Weekend
It’s hard
It sucks
Deadlines
Routine
Marking Time
I need a vacation
Depression
Low energy

There are many more words and phrases. These are just a few.

We use the word ‘work’ when we talk about school – for example ‘home-work.’  When you need to do something, you have to ‘work’ on it.  When you look at a project, you might say, “That’s a lot of work.”

Words create your world.  When people talk about work their energy tends to drop, and their facial expressions show a variety of things, but it often does not contain a smile.  In many cases the feeling or mood is one of dis-empowerment.

However, when what we do to earn a living is aligned with our values and allows us to do what we do best every day, the patterns in language are different.

In Janine Moon’s book “Career Ownership: Creating ‘Job Security’ in Any Economy” she states: “Throughout the book I consciously use the word “work” rather than job.  “Job” signifies some level of responsibility that you step into and out of during certain hours and under certain conditions.  “Work” is something you do because it’s your contribution, it’s an expression of your talents, and it’s your heart and soul.  Your work is distinctly you and the contribution only you can make to your organization’s mission.”

I love this pattern in language of using ‘work’ versus ‘job.’

Sam Waterston, the actor that played district attorney on the series Law and Order stated about his work, “It isn’t work; it is just long hours of fun.”  I found this statement to be very profound.  It falls in the pattern language of play.  What if the way you earned a living wasn’t work, but just long hours of fun? What would change in your life?  Who would you become? For most people, they cannot even imagine work as being long hours of fun.

Some of the patterns in language that emerge for play that I have observed:

Pattern Language of Play

Adventure
Can’t wait
Want to
Vacation
Fun
Time flies when you are having fun
Relaxed
Looking forward to
Playful
Games
High Energy

When you listen to people talking about how they earn a living – what patterns in language do you notice?

It can tell you a lot about how well aligned their talents and values are aligned with how they earn a living.

I watched a Ted Talks video by Stuart Brown entitled “Play is More Than Fun.”  What stuck in my mind the most was a statement he made: “The opposite of Play is not Work.  The opposite of Play is Depression.” For me this explained a lot about why Gallup researchshows that 71% of people feel disengaged from work. We need more fun and the spirit of play in our work to be engaged. We need to be able to express our talents and true self more at work, which is naturally more satisfying and fun.  It makes us come alive.  But old industrial outdated mindsets about managing people, and how ‘work’ gets done sometimes create obstacles to allowing people to do this in a corporate setting.

What patterns in language do you notice when you talk about what you do to earn a living? Are the patterns in language of Work?  Or patterns in language of Play? The patterns in language are a tell tale sign of how we feel about how we earn a living.  How do we get from wanting to be a cubicle escapee to having long hours of fun at work?

I believe that the heart of it is understanding ourselves, knowing and understanding our talents, being able to articulate those talents to the people and organizations or clients that need them.  This could mean that we become a soul-o-preneur and offer our talents on a fee paid basis like a consultant, working in a new position, creating a new position by building a business case for it, or working for a different company that is a much better match to our talents, values, and preferred work environment.

We need to find our best work.  It may not be a perfect match, but given the market, our personal financial situations, it is our best work. Our best work will continue to evolve as we do.  Would you like to know how to do that?  One way is through the discipline of Career Ownership. You can learn more by taking the Your Best Work, Find It, Love It, Live It telecourse.

And finally, I will end with a quote that was recently shared with me (Thanks Janine Moon!) that I found inspiring.   “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  -Dr. Howard Thurman

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Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that.  Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse.

Don’t Respond to Feedback Like a Bunch of Baboons

I was just reading “See New Now” by Jerry de Jaager and Jim Ericson.  They have a chapter entitled The “Baboon Reflex.”  The subtitle is “Fear makes animals and people do unproductive things.” They go on to recount a story about baboon behavior, how something happens in their brain when they are hunting together, and somehow one of them always screws up the hunt.

Now, I know you have never worked with a bunch of baboons that screw up like this, right?  (Oh…Maybe?)  Fear, worry and bad feelings shut down our HOTS (higher order thinking skills). It shuts down creativity too. This is why you always have a great comeback three hours later – after you have had time to calm down and get to a good-feeling place again where your HOTS are intact.

What does this have to do with responding to feedback?

I’m convinced that responding to solicited feedback is an advanced communication skill.  I say advanced because it seems to be lacking in the basic skill set of many managers and leaders.  Lacking advanced communication skills can hamper great results, and can contribute to employee turnover.

In the book “First Break All the Rules” by Marcus Buckingham, he states that people joingreat companies but leave bad managers.  One of the many qualities of good managers is that they create an environment that keeps everyone using their HOTS.  They foster a safe environment where making mistakes is considered a part of learning and innovating. They make it clear it is okay to disagree and encourage discussions on differing viewpoints. They LISTEN.  They create trust because it is a SAFE environment for employees to provide feedback.

How do you become a manager that fosters an environment where your employees are in the HOTS most of the time?  There are so many ways and more blog articles to come.  But let’s start with something simple.  When you ask for feedback, make it safe for employees to give feedback.

In one experience I had, a manager e-mailed the department asking them, “How do you create an environment that fosters creativity and feedback?”   I didn’t know the manager very well, so I sent some simple ideas that would help create a safe environment.  He almost immediately responded with a critique, “that is too simplistic.”

The irony here is this: He wants to create an environment that fosters creativity and feedback, and he just guaranteed he would receive no more from me.  Why? His response taught me that if I provide feedback, he would immediately critique it.  I decided that next time he asks for feedback, I will pass.

If you solicit feedback, here are some tips on responding to feedback, so as to encourage a safe environment to receive it again.

  1. Think of feedback like receiving a gift. Like any gift, you don’t accept the gift andhsay, “this sucks.”  Can you imagine howyou would feel?  If you ask for feedback, giving it is usually optional, isn’t it?  Begin by considering feedback a gift.  When you receive a gift, you don’t tell the gifter, “this sucks because… (whatever).”   When you criticize solicited feedback that is exactly what you are doing.
  2. Respond with “thank you.”  Nobody has to give feedback.  In fact, it is easier just toRespond to Feedback With Thank You

    ignore a request for feedback.  It is less work.  But when someone does take the time to provide feedback, just like a gift, a proper response is “thank you.”  Or, “thank you for the feedback.”  Or, “I appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback.”  You get the idea.

  3. Stay curious.  Perhaps the feedback wasn’t exactly the type of feedback you were looking for.  Stay curious.  Respond with, “Thank you for your feedback.  Would you mind expanding on that and telling me a little more?  Navigating via curiosity is a coaching proficiency that brings great results.
  4. Use non-judgmental awareness.  This means that you remain charge-neutral, do not judge, don’t not try to ‘fix’ but stay curious and explore further if you want more. The ability of the mind to observe without adding layers of bias, criticism and unnecessary analysis make the awareness non-judgmental.  An example might be of watching a fish swim in an aquarium. You don’t know where it is going to swim to next and you just simply observe its motion flowing effortlessly through the water.  There are no projections of what will happen in the future because you are only observing what is happening now and nothing else.
  5. Avoid defending.  There is nothing worse than providing solicited feedback and then listening to the manager give a defense monologue.  It might start something like, “We have this because…” or “We do this because…” If you want to make a person feel unheard and unvalued, this is the way to do it. It virtually guarantees they will choose not to provide feedback again.  Create a safe space by making them feel heard by simply thanking them for the feedback.
  6. Confirm what you heard. Be sure you understand them correctly.  If a person is providing feedback about why something isn’t working for them, respond with “Just to confirm my understanding, the system does this when you try to _____________.”

Thinking of feedback like a gift, and thanking a person for their solicited feedback will contribute to creating a safe environment to provide more in the future. Stay curious and use non-judgmental awareness.  Do not defend anything when receiving feedback, but make sure you understand and confirm what was said.  Keeping these things in mind creates an environment where people can stay in their HOTS, where the gift of feedback can be fostered and used for developing continuous positive change, trust and innovation.

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Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that.  Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Live It, Love it Telecourse.

Work is for Joy

I grew up with the idea that you go to school, study, get good grades, and you get a good job, and go to work from 8 to 5.  This is a framework that I adopted from my environment – which included my parents, my family, my school, my friends, and my culture in general.

Work was something that you did, but play was for after work.  Work, by definition, was something you didn’t necessarily love, but was accepted as part of life unless you won the lottery or inherited lots of money.  It was great if you could love your work, but, that wasn’t really expected.  And, you worked hard all of your life and put away money so you could have a heyday when you retired at 65.

This belief came from the society I grew up in, the schools that I attended and my family.  I adopted it – rather unconsciously.  The only way to earn income was to pimp your knowledge and skills by becoming employed.  Which was fine, except when it felt like your soul was being sucked out or your unique contributions and creativity were being squashed into this little box.

Freedom 2Thomas Leonard, considered the father of coaching, teaches a concept called frameworks.  One of the frameworks is “Work is For Joy.”  For me, this is an intriguing and attractive idea.  It is “outside of the box” of my existing framework.  The idea that your greatest gift to the world was an extension of what came easily to you, was uniquely you, was fun for you, and used your greatest talents every day was invigorating.  “Work” instead of a drudgery, was your unique contribution to the world – a contribution that the world needs.

This is a real shift for many people – adopting the idea that Work Is For Joy.  They can’t imagine what it could be like – which is precisely why they may not achieve it.

The 8 to 5 working concept is a comfortable concept – like ‘the devil you know.’ It means life is ‘on hold’ until the weekend, or until you retire, when you finally start living and enjoying life.

I grew up with a belief that this concept provides security.  Quitting a job that paid well, even if it crushed your soul, was not the smart responsible thing to do.  Pursuing your own dream, your own joy, was okay as long as you did the safe thing, the responsible thing, and still held your life sucking secure job.

I challenge that belief. You should too.  So does Timothy Ferris.  He is the author of the book “The Four Hour Work Week.”  He encourages a concept called ‘mini retirements.’ Like all people who challenge beliefs, some people might read his book and call it ‘heresy.’  I say, be a heretic!  So does Seth Godin in his book “Tribes.”

To quote Seth Godin“Heretics are the new leaders, the ones who challenge the status quo. Who get out in front of their tribes, who create movements. The marketplace now rewards and embraces the heretics … and for the first time it’s profitable, powerful, and productive. This shift might be bigger than you think. Suddenly, heretics, troublemakers and change agents aren’t merely thorns in our side they are the keys to our success.”

Try this idea on for size.  Wear it for a while, see how it fits.  Is your life on hold until retirement?

Life is a journey – in the present moment. The nature of a journey is that each juicy moment is to be lived to the fullest.  For example, you wouldn’t plan a vacation, but decide before leaving that you might as well not go just so you can return sooner. That is silliness.  The whole point of the vacation is to enjoy the journey.  Can you transfer this concept to the work area of your life?

Questions for thought:

What are your frameworks and beliefs around work and life?

  • What did your parents teach you about school, and about work?
  • What did society teach you about school and about work?
  • What are your beliefs around security?
  • What are your beliefs around the concept “Work is for Joy?”
  • Are you moving away from what you don’t want (i.e. lack of security– or are you moving toward what you do want (i.e. your dream of pursuing work that you love)?

How would your life change if you lived the framework, Work is for Joy?

“It isn’t work, it is just long hours of fun.” – Sam Waterson, Actor, speaking on his work playing a District Attorney on Law and Order.

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Mia Turpel is life, career and business coach.  She takes you from stressed out to STREAMLINED in your life, career or business so that you can spend more time on the things you love.  Interested in more?  Be sure to sign up for STREAMLINED ezine atwww.performancesupportpartners.com for news and information on these topics and more!  Interested in coaching? Click here to sign up for a complimentary 30 exploratory session – you will be sure to go away with insights about your big game in life.

Do or Do Not – There Is No Try – Mastering Your Success Mindset

I love Star Wars.  Not only for the story, but for the ideas about beliefs and mindsets.  One of my favorite scenes was when Yoda was coaching Luke in the use of The Force in the swamp.  While levitating rocks and other exercises, the X Wing fighter sinks into the bog causing Luke to become distracted, dropping the rocks and Yoda abruptly onto the ground. The scene went as follows:

Luke Skywalker: “We will never get it out now.”

Yoda: Yoda: “So certain are you?  <sigh>  Always with you, it cannot be done.  Hear you nothing that I say?”

Luke Skywalker: “Master, Moving stones around is one thing, this is totally different!”

Yoda: “No!  No different!  Only different in your mind.  You must Unlearn what you have learned.”

Luke Skywalker: “Alright, I’ll give it a try.”

Yoda: “NO! Try not!  Do!  Or do not.  There is no try.”

Part of mastering a success mindset is to have awareness of your beliefs.  Sometimes this can be difficult to ascertain on your own.  A coach is trained to help you become aware of your own beliefs – whether they are supporting or hampering your progress toward your goals.  Greater awareness usually leads to better decisions.

I think that Yoda was a master coach.  What belief did he uncover that Luke Skywalker had about his own ability to use the force?

He uncovered Luke’s belief that his ability to successfully use The Force to move objects was related to their size.  Hence, he believed that the size of the X Wing fighter was too great a match for his current mastery of The Force to extract it from the bog.  Therefore, because he believed it, it become true for him.

This also reminds me of a book by Richard Bach –  Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.  In the book, one of the messages was “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.”  What limitations was Luke arguing for?  Yoda pointed out that the difference between moving stones and moving something bigger was only in his mind.  Yoda wanted him to choose a new belief…one that supported his goal of mastery.

Luke says something that I have heard many times before (including from myself!), “Alright, I’ll give it a try.”  Pay attention to this language.  What is Luke committed to?  What is the language of commitment: “I’ll Try” or “I will do it”?    When you say “I’ll try,” what do you really mean?  Yoda points this out when he says “NO! Try not! Do! Or do not.  There is no try.”

Luke makes a failed attempt at raising the X-Wing fighter out of the bog.  “I can’t! It’s too big” he says exhausted.  Yoda gives him a pep talk.  Luke says “You want the impossible.”  Then, as a demonstration to Luke, Yoda successfully raises the X Wing fighter out of the bog, to Luke’s utter amazement.

Luke Skywalker:  “I don’t believe it!”

Yoda: “That <pause> is why you failed.”

Ah ha!  There’s that belief again.  Yoda makes Luke aware that the very reason he failed was because he didn’t believe it could be done.

What do you believe cannot be done?  Think about your own life, career and business goals.  What limitations are you arguing for?  Could it be that you don’t have time?  You don’t have the right degree?  You don’t have enough money?  What is it?

Is there something you want to do, but haven’t, in your life career or business?  What kind of belief do you have that is hindering your movement towards what you want?  How will you examine these beliefs?

The more awareness you have about what you want in life and the intertwined beliefs that are supporting you or limiting you, the faster the path toward them is cleared. A coach can help you reach those ‘ah ha’ moments that shine light on the path to your next best step, and in mastering your success mindset!

Mia Turpel is life, career and business coach.  She takes you from stressed out to STREAMLINED in your life, career or business so that you can spend more time on the things you love.  Interested in more?  Be sure to sign up for STREAMLINED ezine atwww.performancesupportpartners.com for news and information on these topics and more!  Interested in coaching? Click here to sign up for a complimentary 30 exploratory session – you will be sure to go away with insights about your big game in life.

It’s Policy, Committed Sardines, and Small Groups That Make Big Change

Does it burn you as much as it burns me when you hear the words “It’s policy” when it is an obstacle to progress, improvement, efficiency and more? Come on! Even if it is BAD policy? Even if it is counterproductive to everything you know? Even if it doesn’t support your current business direction?

Here is what I know about policy: People make policy.

It is possible that the person that made the policy made it for a very good reason at the time. It is possible that business processes, directives, and the business climate has changed since that person made the policy. It is possible that the reason that policy is still in place is because nobody challenged it. Nobody asked, “who made the policy?” Does anyone regularly ask, “how is this policy serving us now?” Is it possible that the reason why it is still policy is because there is a lot of sheepwalking (a term I adopted from Seth Godin) going on? Perhaps people have been conditioned to just accept the status quo when they are told “it’s policy.”

TTWWADI – The Big Rut

Ever heard of TTWWADI? It’s an acronym for “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” TTWWADI is a big rut. Policy that serves as an obstacle to achieving business goals very often is a TTWADI rut. It is easy to get stuck in the rut because most of us want to do the right thing, and follow the policy we have been taught. Questioning policy can often put us on a radar screen that we weren’t on before, shining a very uncomfortable light. However, if we don’t question policy, what is it costing us?

One of my favorite quotes is from General Eric Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff, U. S. Army. He said, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” So, you think change is hard? What about being left in the dust? What happens when your most talented people constantly bump up against ‘policy’ that doesn’t allow them to use their greatest talents on the job? It tends to become motivation to leave.

Policy is meant to be a guideline for streamlining, not an obstacle. Guidelines by their very nature have variations and exceptions. I recently watched an episode of a television hospital drama series where a patient had been bitten by a raccoon that was discovered to have rabies. No worries. Yes, rabies causes certain death. But, there is a vaccine – if administered before symptoms appeared!

The bad news was that the hospital was out of the vaccine, and had to find another source. While they found a source, ‘They’ had a “policy” to not release the vaccine without written permission from the patient. Knowing that the patient in her current condition could not be present to give that permission, the nurse, in exasperation cried, “Of course the patient gives her permission because she will DIE without it!” Yet, they still insisted that it was policy to have written permission from the patient and would not release the vaccine.

While this was fiction (at least I hope!), I can say I have experienced corporate ‘policy’ that was just as much an obstacle to achieving the stated goals of the business. And what astonishes me even more, is how many people followed that policy, agreed that it was an obstacle, and yet still followed it without question.

Does it remind you of the Authority song by John Mellencamp? ( I know you have danced to it!) Does this ring a bell? “I fight authority, authority always wins.” Maybe you need to be a committed sardine.

Pause for effect.

“A committed sardine?” you question. Okay, let me explain. I recently found a website dedicated to excellence in education whose domain name is “The Committed Sardine.” I liked it, so I adopted the term as part of my vernacular. That’s how I roll. Anyway, it references the fact that blue whales being one of the largest mammals on earth can sometimes take two to three minutes to make a 180 degree turn, while schools of fish – sardines for instance, that are just as large as a Blue Whale if not larger, can make a 180 degree turn almost instantaneously (or so it seems).

How do they do this? If you look close, you’ll notice that although the fish all appear to be swimming in the same direction, in reality at any time there will be a small group of sardines swimming in a different direction, against the flow, against conventional wisdom. It rattles the cage a bit and causes discomfort for the rest of the school.

But finally, when a critical mass of truly committed sardines is reached – not as large as what you might think, only 15 to 20 percent who are truly committed to a new direction, the rest of the school suddenly turns and goes with them – almost instantaneously!

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a committed sardine. Are you compelled to question policy when it is an obstacle to doing More Great Work? People make policy. You could be one of those People that also change policy. Or, at least, you could be a catalyst for change.

I close with this quote widely attributed to Margaret Mead. It is a reminder of how powerful one or a small group of people can be: “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world -indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

I, for one, believe this is true.

Mia Turpel is life, career and business coach.  She takes you from stressed out to STREAMLINED in your life, career or business so that you can spend more time on the things you love.  Interested in more?  Be sure to sign up for STREAMLINED ezine atwww.performancesupportpartners.com for news and information on these topics and more!  Interested in coaching? Click here to sign up for a complimentary 30 minute exploratory session – you will be sure to go away with insights about your big game in life.

Coaching Women in Business – Making It Easy

“Business is easy,” she said.

I once worked at a satellite location of a large privately-owned printing company.  The owner was a wonderful business woman.  I was just starting out in the business world, and I admired her accomplishments.

She said, “Business is easy: You meet the customer, quote the price, print the job, and invoice them.  They pay the invoice, and the cycle starts again.”

I wondered how it was that she could have described it as easy.  Now that I have been in business for quite some time, it is apparent to me there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes.

But I loved her perspective.  I wonder how much having that perspective could change the lives of women in business today?

Just what is it that makes business seem easy?  One way to answer that question is by asking another question: “What makes life easy?”  Since business and life are intermingled, the principles that make business easy are the same ones that make life easy.

Life becomes easy when you:

  • use your inborn strengths and talents every day.
  • enjoy relationships with friends and family that are fun and energizing.
  • have a network of supportive people around you.
  • feel healthy, well and strong.
  • connect regularly with nature by spending time enjoying a pet, walking on a beach, or just getting outside on a beautiful day.
  • sustain a sense of spirituality and oneness with the world and consciously choose beliefs that support your goals.
  • have a living space and office that you enjoy.
  • can easily pay your bills and still have financial reserves.
  • focus on moving toward something you want as opposed to moving away from something you don’t want.

Do you want to find out how you can change your life by changing your perspective?  You can learn how to apply these principles –and more – and finally be able to say, “Business is easy.”

This blog is about how to help you go from stressed out to STREAMLINED in your business so that you can spend more time on the things you love.  Interested in more?  Be sure to sign up for STREAMLINED ezine at www.performancesupportpartners.com for news and information on these topics and more!  Interested in coaching? Click here to sign up for a complimentary 30 minute exploratory sample session.