5 Common Phrases That Create Failure (and What to Say Instead)

Replace these common workplace expressions with more powerful alternatives and you’ll succeed much faster.

Success

Words have power. The things you say reinforce how you think, which in turn determines what you do or are willing to do. These five common phrases generate attitudes and beliefs (in yourself and others) that make failure easy and success more difficult:

1. “I’m having a bad day.”

The difference between a good day and a bad day is literally all in your head. Every day has surprises, pleasant and unpleasant. It’s how you handle them that’s essential. When you’re in a resourceful mental state, you handle crises and opportunities alike with grace and aplomb. If you’re in a less-than-resourceful mental state, you flub even the easiest of challenges. Characterizing the problem as the “day” creates failure because 1) it absolves you from managing your emotions, and 2) it pretty much guarantees that the rest of your day will continue to be “bad.” What to say instead:“I’m not at my best right now, but I’m working to get there.”

2. “If I’m lucky, then…”

Serendipity–where seemingly random events create amazing opportunities–does indeed happen and so do unexpected disasters. Attributing either to luck or fate, though, makes your eventual success harder to achieve. What is, is. What happens, happens. Every result has multiple real-world causes. While you may not be able to perceive all causes or anticipate all results, there’s no flying spaghetti monster that’s sprinkling luck-dust over here but not over there. Believing in “luck” creates failure because: 1) it provides an easy way to shirk responsibility for your failures, and 2) it encourages you to rely upon the supernatural rather than take the actions necessary to become more successful. What to say instead: “What else can I do today to achieve my goal?”

3. “I’m stressed out.”

The term stress originated in physics, where it defines “the average force per unit area that some particle of a body exerts on an adjacent particle.” Too much stress, for example, is why a bridge collapses. Human beings, however, aren’t bridges. What happens to them is not at all like an impersonal force applied to an inanimate object. Human beings can grow and change and adapt to new circumstances. When you say, “I’m stressed out,” you’re identifying yourself as a powerless object upon which outside forces are acting. That attitude creates helplessness and hence failure. You end up “coping” rather than taking positive action. What to say instead: “I’m taking a breather before I take more action.”

4. “The priorities are…”

The word priority implies singularity. Multiple priorities is an oxymoron. This isn’t semantic quibbling, because if you have more than one priority you have no idea what to do first. At each moment in time, there is always something more important than everything else you could be doing. That is the priority and that’s what you should be doing–with your full attention. Having more than one priority creates failure because you end up mentally multitasking. When your attention is divided between multiple activities, you aren’t as effective as if you focused on the single action that matters most. What to say instead: “The immediate priority is…”

5. “Who’s at fault?”

There are few human behaviors less useful than finger-pointing. What’s past is past. What’s important isn’t why something happened but how to achieve a better outcome in the future. This is not to say that people shouldn’t take responsibility for their actions. Taking responsibility, though, is the exact opposite of finger-pointing. Finger-pointing creates failure because it 1) keeps you focused on the past, 2) creates unnecessary resentment, and 3) makes people more afraid to take risks. What to say instead: “Here’s what we must do differently next time…”

-Geoffrey James, Inc Magazine

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6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away: How To Recognize Them In Yourself and Change Them

Toxic behavior

 

 

In my line of work, I hear from hundreds of people a month, and connect with professionals in a more public, open way than ever before. Through this experience, I’ve seen scores of toxic behaviors that push people away (including me). And I’ve witnessed the damage these behaviors cause – to relationships, professional success, and to the well-being of both the individual behaving negatively, and to everyone around him or her.

Let’s be real – we’ve all acted in toxic, damaging ways at one time or another (none of us are immune to it), but many people are more evolved, balanced, and aware, and it happens only rarely in their lives.

Whether your toxic behavior is a common occurrence, or once in a blue moon, it’s critical for your happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re behaving badly, and shift it when it emerges.

The 6 most toxic behaviors I see every day are:

Taking everything personally

In the powerful little book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about the importance of taking nothing personally. I teach this in my coaching programs and my book Breakdown, Breakthrough as well, and there is so much pushback. “Really, Kathy – don’t take anythingpersonally?”

People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything that happens in life is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them. The reality is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you. People’s reactions to you are about their filters, and their perspectives, wounds and experiences. Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, it’s more about them. I’m not saying we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback. I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally when it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of others’ good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own heart, intuition and wisdom as your guide. So yes – don’t take anything personally.

Obsessing about negative thoughts

It’s very hard to be around people who can’t or won’t let go of negativity – when they dwell on and speak incessantly about the terrible things that could happen and have happened, the slights they’ve suffered, and the unfairness of life. These people stubbornly refuse to see the positive side of life and the positive lessons from what’s transpiring. Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in negative thoughts is another. Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a skewed way of thinking and living, and you can change that.

Treating yourself like a victim

Another toxic behavior is non-stop complaining that fuels your sense of victimization. Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no influence on the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck and small. Working as a therapist with people who’ve suffered terrible trauma in their lives but found the courage to turn it all around, I know that we have access to far more power, authority, and influence over our lives than we initially believe. When you stop whining, and refuse to see yourself as a hapless victim of fate, chance or discrimination, then you’ll find that you are more powerful than you realized, but only if you choose to accept that reality.

Cruelty – lacking in empathy or putting yourself in others shoes

One of the most toxic and damaging behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others. We see it every day online and in the media – people being devastatingly cruel and destructive to others just because they can. They tear people down online but in a cowardly way, using their anonymity as a weapon. Cruelty, backstabbing, and ripping someone to shreds is toxic, and it hurts you as well as your target.

I had a powerful learning experience about this a few years ago. I came into the house one day in a nasty mood, and shared a mean, sniping comment to my husband about the way a neighbor was parenting her child through one of his problem phases. In less than 24 hours, that very same issue the parent was dealing with came home to roost in my house, with my child. It was as if the Universe sent me the message that, “Ah, if you want to be cruel and demeaning about someone, we’ll give you the same experience you’ve judged so negatively, so you can learn some compassion.” And I did.

If you find yourself backstabbing and tearing someone else down, stop in your tracks. Dig deep and find compassion in your heart, and realize that we’re all the same.

Excessive reactivity

An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you. We all know these people – men and women who explode over the smallest hiccup or problem. Yelling at the bank teller for the long line, screaming at your assistant for the power point error he made, or losing it with your child for spilling milk on the floor. If you find that you’re overly reactive, losing it at every turn, you need some outside assistance to help you gain control over your emotions and understand what’s at the root of your emotionality. There’s more to it that appears on the surface. An outside perspective – and a new kind of support – is critical.

Needing constant validation

Finally, people who constantly strive for validation and self-esteem by obsessing about achieving outward measures of success, are exhausting to be around. Those men and women who get caught up in the need to prove their worth over and over, and constantly want to “win” over their colleagues or peers, are toxic and draining.

Overly-attaching to how things have to look and be, and to achieving certain milestones and accomplishments rather than going with life in a more flexible, easy manner, can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down . There is a bigger picture to your life, and it’s not about what you achieve or fail at today. It’s about the journey, the process, the path – what you’re learning and applying, how you’re helping others, and the growing process you allow yourself to engage in.

Stop stressing over the particular outcomes like, “I need that promotion now!” or “My house has to be bigger and more beautiful than my neighbor’s.” Your desperate need to prove your success and build your self-esteem through outer measures of success is (sadly) apparent to everyone but you, and it’s pushing away the very happiness outcomes you’re longing for. -Kathy Caprino

10 Signs You’re Working Too Hard – And How to Stop

Vice grip on head

 

The signs of stress are easy to spot. It’s the solutions that can be hard to come by.

If you’ve stopped exercising, can’t sleep and are eating poorly, you’re heading down a road that could lead to a disastrous destination. And if you’re far enough along this destructive path that you’ve abandoned your hobbies and interests, can’t find time for friends or family and are obsessed with work day and night, you may actually need an outside intervention. Don’t be too surprised if it comes unsolicited at the hands of a doctor or lawyer.

It’s best to recognize the early warning signs and address them before someone else does. Here are 10 common signs you’re under too much stress – and suggestions for what to do about it.

1) You’re chained to your desk. An editor at the Chicago Sun-Times once said that he couldn’t take time off. He was afraid the place would fall apart without him – and he was terrified it wouldn’t. If you think the universe depends on you, you’re headed for a high-stress breakdown. Hire people who will do a better job than you ever could, and then celebrate their successes, get out of their way and recharge your batteries regularly.

2) You can’t play nice. A demanding attitude rarely reduces stress, so if you find yourself berating waiters, flight attendants or reservations agents, make a habit of taking an extra minute during every interaction to thank them – and be specific, if possible. In trying to cheer up those who are doing tough jobs, you might also boost your own spirits.

3) Your mind races in circles. You think the root of your stress is that you spend all of your time in a state of intense focus. But really, most people under stress are re-plowing the same field over and over. They confuse this obsessing with focus, but it’s really the opposite. Problems typically get simpler as you work your way through them, so make sure your solutions involve reducing complexity. Then work on execution in bite-sized pieces that are less demanding than the larger initial problem. When your stress is under control, focus will come more easily.

4) Your favorite phrase is “you’ve got mail.” Email may have become a mindless stress reliever for you; but like most things, it’s a two-edged sword. If you’re disciplined, it’s a time-saver. But if your use of it goes unchecked, it morphs into a constant interrupter, a pestering reminder of all you’re having a hard time responding to. So turn off your email – for hours at a time –and work on developing the discipline to check in on a regular schedule and not more frequently.

5) You wallow in self-pity. If you find yourself feeling under-appreciated, change your surroundings – or, at a minimum, change your attitude. Replace self-pity with gratitude, or better yet, find a way to serve those less fortunate than you. In the process, you’ll discover you have a lot to be grateful for, and you’ll be surprised at how transformative that realization can be.

6) You’re always running late. Make a commitment that you’ll be five minutes early to every meeting and every event, and then tell others about it as a way forcing you to curtail the activities that are making you late. This will rarely reduce the quality of your thinking or your work, and it will usually help you re-frame your priorities and focus on your accountability and deliverables.

7) You never take a mental break. I once had a set of partners who bought tickets for me and my wife to take a week’s vacation and promised that none of them would answer calls from me or report anything to me during the trip. At first, I didn’t know what to do with myself; but soon, I lost myself in a book. When I “woke up” I was in another century, as it were, reveling in language, culture and history – things I love, but had forgotten about. Taking mental breaks every once in a while creates opportunities for learning and enjoying new things. To incorporate them into your daily life, set up rules for yourself. One of mine is not to work on airplanes – and since I do a lot of flying, I now do a lot of reading.

8) Your phone has become an appendage. Never turning off your phone, or even worse, being unable to even put it down, leaves you open to constant interruptions. Although I can’t seem to do it, I know busy people who set “office hours” for themselves during which they even block out personal interruptions. The analog to the phone being on all the time is the office door that’s always open. Be sure to give yourself some quiet time to think, to plan, to reflect in a place where there’s no phone and no one walking through the door, even if it’s just for 30 minutes a day.

9) You’re impossible to please. The food isn’t good enough, the hotel’s not convenient enough, your income isn’t high enough. You don’t have enough resources, a strong-enough team, sufficient support from others. The solution to these seemingly external problems is to turn inward and change your mindset. One of my mantras, which I developed when I noticed this warning sign in myself, has become, “I have all I need.”

10) You live in the past or the future. You reminisce, telling stories of past glories. Or you await the future, unable to really start living until a certain goal is behind you. Both of these are signals that you’re living outside the present, a habit that only leads to more stress. Being present in the moment, enjoying the conversation, the meeting, the people and the challenges as they come up will reduce stress.

Over the years, I’ve learned that we can intentionally change our attitudes, habits and self-talk. It’s not a matter of avoiding stress altogether – in fact, some stress can help keep us on our toes. The trick is to monitor our time and attention, to get feedback and to re-calibrate our schedules based on what we learn.

Like a recovering alcoholic, I have to commit every day to smelling the roses. I’ve concluded that to do otherwise will create a form of success at the cost of failing in what matters most: Finding peace from a life well lived – a peace that won’t come from promotions, status, fame or fortune. -Joel Peterson, Chairman, JetBlue Airways

 

25 Habits of Happy and Successful People

mother daughter

When I was 5 years old my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told them ‘happy’.

 They told me I didn’t understand the assignment.

 I told them they didn’t understand life.

 

Here is a list of 25 habits of happy and successful people that I compiled that should give you a glimpse into how to live the life of your dreams.

Happy and Success people…

  1. They forget who they were and focus on who they want to be. If you don’t let go of your past then you won’t find your future.
  2. They are sure of themselves and stick to their guns. Uncertainty is the key component of failure.
  3. They are willing to admit when they are wrong. If you can’t accept that you’re wrong then there’s no room to learn.
  4. They surround themselves with those who are worthy. Your friends make you who you are.
  5. They allow unwarranted and hateful criticism to roll off their shoulders. You will always have haters — learn to ignore those that are just trolling.
  6. They accept constructive criticism. You aren’t always right; others may have a clearer perspective than yourself.
  7. They focus and act on what they believe is right and don’t act simply to please. If you’re constantly pleasing others then you won’t have time to please yourself.
  8. They see challenges as an opportunity to learn and to grow as individuals. If you’re never challenged then you’re never going to see the world from a different perspective.
  9. They are open-minded. There’s always another way to do it — a way that may very well be better.
  10. They are quick to adapt. If evolution has taught us anything, it’s this: those who adapt the fastest and most efficiently are those who survive.
  11. They do the right thing because it’s the right thing. Having moral standards and following them alleviates the chances of feeling guilt.
  12. They don’t complain. If the situation can’t be changed and you can’t avoid doing what you have to do, then there’s no reason to complain; it only weighs on your nerves.
  13. If they start something, they finish it. If you’re not going to finish what you started, then why bother starting in the first place?
  14. They exercise regularly. You are an animal and animals are made to move and to push their limits.
  15. They read regularly. It’s the quickest way to learn how the world works.
  16. They keep a well-balanced, nutritious diet. What you eat affects your body on a chemical level.
  17. They take risks. Fear is acceptable as long as you overcome it.
  18. They have no problem with saying “no.” Often at times, it’s the things and opportunities that you turn down that allow for success to manifest.
  19. They meditate and learn to control their breathing. Breathing is the link between our conscious and subconscious mind.
  20. They focus on the moment. Life can only be lived in the moment.
  21. They question convention. The way things are done isn’t always the best way to do things.
  22. They care for and want to give back to human kind. We are all related and all connected.
  23. They learn from others, their heroes and mentors. Having guidelines makes life easier.
  24. They learn from the mistakes of others before they make the mistakes themselves. History does not need to repeat itself.
  25. They respect others and expect respect in return. We are all equal and should all be treated kindly and respectfully.

Most importantly, they are happy. And, at the end of the day that’s what life is all about. Time. Energy. Moments. Live each breath counting those blessings.

Gurbaksh Chahal

Four Reasons to Quit Your Job

quit job

What criteria can you use to determine if you have been with the same company too long?

A friend of ours, an investment manager at a highly regarded company in the Midwest, who drove to work one morning, parked his car in the usual spot, and then found he simply could not bring himself to get out of the car. “I guess I stayed on the farm one day too long,” he joked later. When we asked him what went wrong, he answered, “It wasn’t one thing. It was everything.” No wonder he drove home and called in his resignation.

Obviously, most people don’t decide they’ve overstayed at their companies in such a dramatic fashion. Usually, angst about work creeps in, and then builds until it consumes you. And that can happen early or late in a career. Gone are the days when, after graduation, you took the best available job and stayed for as many years as you could possibly stand, frustration be damned. These days, it is not unusual to hear of perfectly legitimate careers built on multiple job stints.

So, to your question, how can you tell when it’s time to move on? We wouldn’t set out specific criteria as much as offer four questions to help sort out an answer.

The first is so simple it almost goes without saying, but the fact that a lot of people don’t confront it, including our friend who ended up stuck in his car—a Harvard MBA, by the way—suggests we should go ahead and put it out there: Do you want to go to work every morning?

This is not a matter to be over-brained. Does the prospect of going in each day excite you or fill you with dread? Does the work feel interesting and meaningful or are you just going through motions to pull a paycheck? Are you still learning and growing?

We know of a woman who worked in consulting for seven years. She loved her firm and had originally planned a career with it, but suddenly started noticing that she wished every weekend was five days long. “Basically, I felt like we were putting together massive books in order to make recommendations to people who knew more than we did,” she said. “Every day at the office, I felt a little bit more of a hypocrite.” She now happily works on the “front lines,” to use her phrase, in the marketing department of a retail company.

Second, do you enjoy spending time with your coworkers or do they generally bug the living daylights out of you? We’re not saying you should only stay at your company if you want to barbecue with your team every weekend, but if you don’t sincerely enjoy and respect the people you spend 10 hours a day with, you can be sure you will eventually decide to leave your organization. Why not make the break sooner rather than later and start cultivating relationships at a company where you might actually plant roots?

Third, does your company help you fulfill your personal mission? Essentially, this question asks whether your company jibes with your life’s goals and values. Does it require you, for instance, to travel more than you’d like, given your chosen work-life balance? Does it offer enough upward mobility, given your level of ambition? There are no right or wrong answers to such questions, only a sense of whether you are investing your time at the right or wrong company for you.

Fourth and finally, can you picture yourself at your company in a year? We use that time frame because that’s how long it usually takes to find a new, better job once you decide to move on. So peer, as best you can, into the future, and predict where you’ll be in the organization, what work you’ll be doing, whom you will be managing, and who will be managing you. If that scenario strikes you with anything short of excitement, then you’re spinning your wheels. Or put another way, you’re just about to stay too long.

To be clear: We’re not suggesting people quit at the first inkling of discontent. No matter where you work, at some point you will have to endure difficult times, and even a deadly dull assignment, to survive a crisis or move up. But it makes little sense to stay and stay at a company because of inertia. Unlock your door and get out. – Jack and Suzy Welch

This Could Be the Most Underrated Tactic for Boosting Employee Morale

compassion, heart

 

 

 

 

 

There is plenty of advice out there about how to boost employee morale. Some saycompensation matters most. Others say it’s more about empowering workers. But there could be a fix that’s vastly underrated: Try showing employees more compassion.

Wharton management professor Sigal Barsade and George Mason University assistant management professor Olivia “Mandy” O’Neill conducted a 16-month study on the effects of “compassionate love,” which includes empathy, caring for someone’s feelings and life, and listening to a person’s needs, at a long-term health care facility with 185 employees, 108 patients, and 42 patient relatives. The study revealed, as reported in Knowledge@Wharton,University of Pennsylvania’s business school blog, that compassion can increase employee morale and a sense of teamwork, and even trickles down to boost customer satisfaction.

Barsade and O’Neill conducted a second study with 3,201 employees across seven industries and found similar results–a culture of compassion increased employee commitment, accountability, and performance.

And if you’re confused, professional compassionate love doesn’t involve snuggling, kissing, or hugs. The technique is more subtle–and appropriate–than that. It means simple acts of tenderness and affection, from asking how an employee’s family is doing to grabbing an extra cup of coffee and putting it on someone’s desk when you get one for yourself.

“[Management and executives] should be thinking about the emotional culture,” Barsade told Knowledge@Wharton. “It starts with how they are treating their own employees when they see them. Are they showing these kinds of emotions? And it informs what kind of policies they put into place. This is something that can definitely be very purposeful–not just something that rises organically.”

Below, read how showing a little compassion, tenderness, and affection at work can improve your organization.

Fewer Sick Days, More Engagement

Barsade and O’Neill’s two studies found that being careful of listening to employees and being aware of their feelings can reduce sick days and burnout. By making the office more loving and less stressful, employees will feel more comfortable and appreciated.

During the first study, the researchers tracked employee withdrawal by asking workers about their feelings of emotional exhaustion and looking at absenteeism rates. Groups of employees who had higher levels of compassionate love had lower levels of exhaustion and sick days. The groups with higher compassion rates were also more team-oriented and satisfied with their jobs.

Increased Customer Satisfaction

Barsade and O’Neill also measured the effect of a culture of compassion on the patients and their families. By tracking the patients’ health, the first study found that patients who were taken care of by employees in the compassionate culture had fewer trips to the emergency room. Satisfaction rates also increased. “Even though this has to do with how employees are treating each other, and not necessarily how they are treating their clients, we argue that if they treat each other with caring, compassion, tenderness, and affection, that will spill over to residents and their families,” Barsade tells Knowledge@Wharton.

Lower Work-Life Issues

These two studies have also spawned similar ones in different fields of employment. O’Neill has just teamed up with Wharton management professor Nancy Rothbard to study firefighters. What they have found is that compassionate love on the job can decrease instances of negative effects a job has on the employee’s family. “What we see is that companionate love acts as a helper for the problems they struggle with at work and outside of work,” O’Neill says. “For example, [firefighters] tend to have high levels of work-family conflict because of the stress that comes from the job. Companionate love actually helps to buffer the effect of job stress and work-family conflict on other outcomes.”

BY WILL YAKOWICZ

The 7 Sleep Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

 

Sleep

We all know lack of sleep is harmful to our health — sleep affects mood, increases risk of psychiatric disorders and depression, cardiovascular disease and lowers immune system health. Yet the stress of running a company and long working hours means entrepreneurs often find themselves functioning on little sleep.

Evanston, Ill.-based sleep expert Dr. Lisa Shives says getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night is a critical component of entrepreneurs’ business success. “Sleep affects our executive function; the area of the brain responsible for decision making, creative thinking, memory and reaction time,” says Shives.

Follow these seven sleep habits and dream your way to business success:

1. Avoid alcohol before bedtime. 
While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it will affect the quality of your slumber. “Sleep is lighter, you have less REM (the deepest stage of sleep),” says Shives. Alcohol can also wake you up in the middle of the night. “Many people wake up after about four hours, because that’s how long it takes to metabolize alcohol, then they have trouble getting back to sleep,” says Shives. Although studies have shown a glass of wine at dinner can have positive effects on cardiovascular health, Shives says to avoid drinking any alcohol within three hours before bedtime.

2. Turn off electronics before bedtime.
Shives recommends shutting off gadgets an hour before bedtime. “The light that’s emitted [from the screens] slips your neurotransmitters into an awake position,” says Shives. Our gadgets also force our brains to stay active when they really need relaxation time to distress before bedtime. Shives recommends using the hour before bed to do something relaxing and enjoyable like reading a book or having a chat with your partner.

3. Write your worries away. 
If you find yourself lying in bed stressing about the events of the day, Shives recommends keeping a worry journal to write down the issues that are bothering you. For those who find their heads swimming with to-do-lists, Shives says putting the list on paper rather than thinking about it can help to clear your head and shut off your mind before bedtime.

4. Create the perfect sleep ambience.
The optimal sleep environment is one that’s cool, dark and quiet. “Part of becoming drowsy in the evening is that your core body temperature starts to drop,” says Shives. Eliminate noise and light distractions by charging smartphones outside the bedroom door to avoid the glow, the ding and the temptation to get up and check on something.

5. Exercise. 
Exercise promotes healthy sleep patterns by releasing serotonin and dopamine. These are the same neurotransmitters that are important for regulating our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, known as the circadian rhythm.

 
6. Avoid sugary snacks before bedtime.
If you have a hankering for a snack, Shives recommends grabbing a bite containing protein and fat such as yogurt rather than one containing starch or sugar. “[Protein and fat] have very low glycemic levels which means they will give a steady release of energy throughout the night,” says Shives. Simple carbs or sugary snacks give you a quick burst of energy, followed by a crash which can disturb the quality of your sleep.

7. Wake up to the light. 
The morning is just as important to your sleep habits as the evening. Getting sunlight when you wake up re-sets your body’s circadian rhythm, helping to ensure you’re more tired at night. Enjoy your morning coffee sitting next to a large window is a great way to start your day right.

Entrepreneur Magazine Sept. 2013