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  • Habits That Sustain Determination (0) June 11, 2017 Bradley Ann Morgan

    In our work with a nonprofit for reforestation of the USA, we were engaged to help the staff know the difference between motivation and determination. The directors for the program stated that the staff and volunteers had motivation but seemed to lack the ‘staying power’ to achieve the ultimate outcome. Indeed, the long term vision to have domestic farmers see the value in reforestation takes educational sessions along with the actual planting of 18 billion trees. It appeared that some of the organization had tremendous ‘starter behavior’ but dropped out after a few months. Why is it that motivation was not enough to sustain the progress to ensure a viable world for generations to come? It is the difference between enthusiasm and vigor, known to many as determination.

    Whether it’s personal goals or specialized results as large as the tree planting program, what are the habits that nourish deterministic behavior? Reflect on the areas below and determine where you may need to cultivate your practices for determination:
    • Declare a commitment, not just an intention & build your life not just as an endless pursuit of activities. Intentions are very much like New Year resolutions. They possess great desire; although, they are never achieved. It’s not that they lack sincerity, but are insufficient for coordinating action for yourself or others. Intention is not enough to change emotional and behavioral patterns either from an individual’s own belief system. Commitments are a crucial element of our lives in building and maintaining meaningful success in relationships, in business, in spiritual development and even, in physical health. Commitments are not only those made internally for imminent achievement; but, also for how we coordinate actions with others. Commitments involve passion and are made from deep concern or alarm. Remember that you are bigger than your job or your chosen profession. Shift your life to focus on something purposeful and meaningful to you, whether it’s reforestation, food harvesting or fundraising for natural disaster recovery. Connect in a deeper way to the world around you and those things you care about.
    • Don’t allow baggage from yesterday to creep into today’s efforts. Everyone has some history of relationships, failures, or even estranged family. When you are focusing on the goals of tomorrow, do not attach those stories to the discernment of how you will progress through the events of the present moment. What happened in the past has its place in the past, not today.
    • Whatever the goal, keep your focus on the bigger vision. What will change or be the benefits to a larger community could even be a legacy for you. Ask yourself what concept you want to prove or make clear about your concerns such as, demonstrating cultural inclusion or cooperating with other religious groups on holidays.
    • Change your relationship with time. Big visions and dreams require determination and perseverance as well as talent. When highway construction forced the closure of Colonel Sanders’ tiny restaurant inside a gas station, he drove around the southern states to other restaurants to cook chicken for them. Ultimately, news of the quality of the chicken spread to other restaurants enabling the Colonel to begin franchising, well after he was 40 years of age! Time becomes not as big an issue when the end result is a service to the community such as, the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute achieved a land lease that enabled the market vendors to set down roots; and, secure a commercial selling locale for the first time in 35 years!
    • Associate with positive people, not the nay-sayers that say it can’t be done. Negative people will suck the life out of your ambitions and hopes. Start by engaging and building a substantial support community of like minded friends and colleagues. As the late Christopher Reeve said, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable; and then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

  • Leadership that Inspires Others (0) May 22, 2017 Bradley Ann Morgan

    A Gallup report, ‘The State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders’, highlights results from the ongoing study of the American workplace from 2010 through 2012. The findings are grim that 75% of current workplace employees are disengaged in their current positions; and, 82% of managers are not a current fit for their jobs as leaders. From studies like this, it’s becoming evident that just attaining the next promotion or next benefit in an organization is not inspiring enough to be meaningful. Consequently, employees just perform or comply not inspiring themselves or others to excel. Where’s the inspiration in our workplaces and from our current leaders to excel in what we do as engaged staff?

    Whether you are in an ‘official’ leadership role or a socially appointed leader, we all lead at some point in our personal and professional lives. And as leaders, people follow you because they identified the same level of passion for a cause or project that you did. Perhaps you did not recognize it at that moment, but you inspired others to excel in expanding a community’s outreach, improving an organizational culture, or even, enriching the lives of military veterans.
    Both social and eco-planet missions are seeing more leaders who value stability between profit-making and global sustainability. These are the leaders in every country and industry who are capable of rebuilding trust and inspiring others to surpass what has been accepted as mediocre performance.

    Here are some designs of how to ‘be of service’ and inspire others. Use as many as resonate with you:
    • Encourage all staff or colleagues to contribute their thoughts and fervor on specific goals and concerns. The people on your projects or teams need to be courageous in expressing their values and passions. Create an environment where all can be heard without judgment and criticism.
    • Leaders who inspire others take risks. These are the people that are not afraid to ‘stand’ for something without monetary gain or status. Think of past leaders that incited movements such as, civil liberties activist Rosa Parks, American Indian Chief Wilma Mankiller, or women’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony. All of these inspired others to challenge the current social system and proceed on a journey to a new future. Let others know who has inspired your leadership style.
    • In companies where you are fulfilling a leadership position, be certain to be the symbol for your employee’s essentials to the executive staff. It is not uncommon for the C-level management to be unaware of necessities for the front line customer service staff such as, noise reducing headphones or travel apps for the sales engineers. Use your professionalism to gain the best working conditions and tools for those that serve you and the company. Your team will be inspired that they have a champion for their commitment to excellence.
    • Inspiration comes from those leaders that do not drive others to achieve a specific outcome. Leaders that share a common vision or ask for commitment to a higher social good inspire others to eliminate roadblocks, making success achievable for all involved.
    • Inspiring others gives permission to all to question options, challenge opinions, and turn problems into opportunities. When the fair practice of listening is in place, it is predictable that you will hear the heartfelt values of others. Let yourself listen, not just ‘hear’ the fire in others.

    When you know you can inspire others, ask yourself:
    • In any leadership role, how will you present a mood of success so that others know you are ready to act?
    • What operating standards will you help create for your colleagues and/or teams to keep inspiration high? Do you need to have an offsite day once a month to sustain trust and keep inspiration soaring in the team members?

  • Is It Always Us Against Them? (0) April 29, 2017 Bradley Ann Morgan

    In a networking dinner, a fatigued healthcare executive was telling us he had just come out of a tough meeting between Discharge Services and the Oncology Unit. We suffered with him when he said, “I feel like I’m in the middle of a war. Both of these departments have highly competent staff; but, the attitude of both is ‘us against them’. We’ve instituted many management and teamwork retreats, but there is no lasting change in these two groups. I’m just beat!”

    This type of situation not exists not only in healthcare. We’ve seen the same type of polarizing behavior in engineering, creative art services, customer service, even university student services. Why does this exist even after repeated attempts to change leadership? First, polarizing behavior is usually exhibited when an individual’s core values are being attacked. Remember, people will live and die by the right to exercise their top core values. Collectively, department or functional teams can unconsciously adopt a core value operating structure which becomes their invisible rules. Often, these same groups then interact or judge all others by their operating values without considering the values of other departments. Where is conscientious change without polarization?

    Consider that most organizational groups view change as pain, including the emotional distress of having to unlearn old routines and procedures. Often, management counteracts this view with threats of punishment or incentives to bait employees to assume the desired change. The punishment threat usually causes the humanistic individual to leave the company entirely, while the incentive induced employee begins to set values that money or other benefits are all that’s worth working for. Neither of these works for the long term.

    Let’s examine some of the recent advances in science and the physiological structure of the brain. Key research has revealed that the brain’s caching region of memory & cognizant concentration is engaged when new routines are presented or ‘learning’ is in progress. Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception. These two in combination activate the intensive part of the brain in the prefrontal association complex (or cortex), also controlling reasoning and judgment. It has been shown that people learn best when solving realistic problems.

    When you see your colleagues in the ‘us against them’ position for healthy change, ask yourself:
    • How can we stay focused on the real issues today and not continue complaining over past behavior?
    • How can we as collaborative teams rise above what is politically safe to do and what could be a full production solution for the entire company?
    • Which of our stakeholders have the largest to gain or lose if we choose only one ‘camp’s solution? How will this solution impact us in the long term?

  • How to Live in & Appreciate the ‘Now’ (0) April 8, 2017 Bradley Ann Morgan

    It’s excellent to have passionate aspirations or intentions for the coming spring and summer. Intentions or resolutions can be on a personal level or on a larger company effort to satisfy needs such as, better individual health or putting an end to homelessness. Intentions possess great desire; although, they are often never achieved. It’s not that they lack sincerity, but are insufficient for coordinating action for yourself or others. And, with all those long range plans, what happens to living and appreciating the moments of ‘now’?

    According to Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard , “Everyone agrees it’s important to live in the moment, but the problem is how. When people are not in the moment, they’re not there to know that they’re not there. Overriding the distraction reflex and awakening to the present takes intentionality and practice.”

    We’re not suggesting you abandon goal setting or long range planning. Persistence and determination are personal capacities that bring dreams into meaningful reality. However, as the hallmark of today’s society is multi-tasking, our daily lives have become a frenzy of cell phone use, texting; and possibly driving, concurrently. Since the 1990s, psychologists have conducted experiments on the nature and limits of human multitasking. Overall, these studies have disclosed that people show severe interference when even everyday tasks are performed at the same time, especially if both tasks require sifting and producing action.

    As we have become conditioned to this style of living, it can be difficult at first, to remove yourself from the bustle of activity, even for a few minutes. With commitment and practice, you can learn mindfulness to refocus your attention to live and appreciate the present time. Use any of these guidelines to help you:
    • At any instant in your daily routine, stop yourself from doing. Observe what is actually happening, especially if it involves activities that require some physical movement. This can be likened to a Zen-like feeling and way of being. It’s been said that the only two jobs of a Zen monk are sitting zazen (meditation) and sweeping. Cleaning is one of the daily rituals of a Zen monk, one of their most important daily practices. They sweep or rake, and they try to do nothing else. They aren’t thinking about being in a Zen state. The Zen state is the sweeping. The next time you’re doing housework, sorting those office presentation folders, or reviewing email on your Smartphone , try concentrating on the motions of your body. Center your attention on how your hands wipe through the dust on the coffee table or, the motion of your arms as they stack the folders, on the physical sensations. Try being a Zen sweeper.
    • Manage outside or public expectations. It is not surprising that many of our chores are performed in response to others’ expectations of us. It is expected that you will sacrifice your time for volunteer work at the elementary school, even after a full work schedule. Start this new year with an scrutiny of all the expectations, even those unspoken, in your daily or weekly life. Determine which ones are meaningful to you and delegate or discard the others. Clarity of choice will help you appreciate the uniqueness of the gifts you have to demonstrate in this life, as well as those of others. And, you will find your feelings of regret or resentment diminish as you are now performing chores as a purposeful choice, not an obligation.
    • Reflect on how much time you are living in the past. It is not uncommon to reminisce over past events, particularly if they are connected to exhilaration and joy. However, if you find your only pleasure is in history, you can miss out on feelings of cheerfulness and satisfaction from the next 10 minutes of living. Conversely, this can be also be the result from too much future visioning. Carve out some time each day to be aware of how you present yourself, how others respond to you, and notice the subtle clues coming from your surroundings. All will have an impact on how you conduct yourself the remainder of that very day.

  • Is Your Life Just Conformity? (0) March 10, 2017 Bradley Ann Morgan

    Have you noticed in the current period of job uncertainty and social change that the need to belong is stronger than the need to be an expressive individual? On a local commuter train we observed a group of co-workers forcefully discussing the addition of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to sports drinks. Characteristically, both sides had convincing arguments for the inclusion or deletion of the sugar carbohydrate in products that are supposed to enhance athletic performance. And yet, we watched one young man vacillate to each side when questioned for his views. His colleagues began to tell him that in swinging from side to side he was being indecisive and irresolute. What a place to be in!
    In that discussion, this worker was demonstrating his need to fit in either group, the pros or the cons. Unfortunately, both sides wanted his sole support rather than his ‘middle of the fence’ view that he could understand both arguments for inclusion or deletion of HFCS. Many would label this as ‘conformity’. Conformity is a type of collective or shared pressure that can cause a person to change a belief structure or a behavior pattern to match those of another group. Conformity is a normal response when it is practiced by a group such as, your peers, an entire community, or a culture, or a faith based group. The implied presence of social strength or how much you believe in the group’s value will determine the level of conformity you will adhere to, regardless of age. When excessive conformity and compliance become a way of life, it can be unhealthy.
    What are some of the causes of conformity?
    • Compilation due to community expectations. You are expected to follow some form of ‘invisible rules’ that everyone knows and acts in accordance with such as, you will be home on certain evenings before the sun sets.
    • Obey group behavior such as, mimicking the behavior of pop idols or rock stars. These folks have a tremendous fear of being ostracized from the group; and, will practice the same unorthodox behavior of those celebrities even if normally unacceptable in public. They associate the fame they gain from this behavior to be of tremendous glory for them.
    • Fulfill specific club obligations or membership due to social status such as, every partner in this law firm will be a member of the country club. Conformity here is a safe vehicle to avoid hounding or harassment by the senior partners; and adds a sense of security from being a newly admitted partner.

    When you are evaluating how much conformity you have in your life, ask yourself –
    • What are the rewards- if any – you are receiving by conforming to a specific rule set from a community, peer group or possibly HOA membership?
    • Do you feel pride or shame in your association with one group versus another? Has this killed your membership in any other group? You can’t belong to this group if you belong to them!
    • What has too much conformity influenced – your mood for living? Do others view you as having no drive, no creativity about life? Does this matter to you?
    • What opportunities have you missed by conformity such as, job upgrades, new company projects, even new personal relationships?
    • Do you feel as if you are living two separate lives? How are you compliant in one side of your life and then openly bitter in other sides of your life? Has this behavior been noticed by your family and friends?
    • If you have ‘lost’ the motivation you originally had for this group or membership, can you give yourself permission to withdraw or to delegate your role to someone else? Do you need to leave this group, without regret, and pursue something different?