Do you feeling like your life is perpetually on fast forward? If your life is overloaded with activities, changes, commitments, competition, debts, decisions, expectations, information, media, people, problems, technology, traffic or work; you may have run out of white space!
White space is the margin you leave in your life for the unexpected. White space acts as a safety zone between you and burn out. Be careful, if you live too close to the edge of overload you might fall off and then what? What project fails? What do you forget to do? What relationship gets destroyed? What happens to your health?
When you create white space, you create a buffer for whatever life throws at you. To create white space:
- Accept responsibility – believe it or not, you control the choices you make to overload your schedule. Take control and recognize the choices you make determine the amount of white space.
- Make time – time in your schedule gives you room to breathe, freedom to think, space to heal, opportunities to be innovative and reconnect with what matters most to you.
- Re-evaluate and prioritize – if you don’t decide what is important and make it a priority, others will do it for you. Look at your life and think about whether you are spending it on your top priorities.
- Create boundaries – turn it off, shut it down, say goodbye. You can decide when you will respond or interact with your electronic gadgets. You can walk away from draining situations. You can remove people from your life. Boundaries are essential to white space.
No White Space > Frustration > Stress >
Exhaustion > Irritability > Burn Out…
There is a popular Christmas carol about wishing for a White Christmas. Our wish for you is more white space in your life.
“Are we there yet?” This is the number one, most frequently asked question on a road trip.
Although we may grow older and stop asking the question, it’s buried deep within our psyche and it doesn’t go away.
Create small successes along your life’s journeys to answer this buried question. Small successes tell the brain, “not yet, but we are getting closer.”
How to create BIG wins from small successes:
- DEFINE - When you want to accomplish a personal or work related change you must begin with a clear definition of success. What does the BIG win look like?
- PLAN – what are the steps to the BIG win? This is where to build in the small successes. You must have a future goal bigger than the obstacles you face. However, you need milestones along the way to know that you are still on the right path. This is the secret to success. Small wins add up to the BIG win.
- DO – you can’t accomplish anything without action. By clearly defining success and making a plan you have a reasonably good start. Accomplish the BIG win by doing the plan!
- CELEBRATE – rather than wait until the BIG win, celebrate the small successes. Rejoice as each milestone on the plan is completed. Imagine reading a book that had no chapters. After reading twenty pages and then the next fifty, you’d start wondering “are we there yet?” Milestones on your plan serve as chapters to mark the progress you’ve made.
- PERSEVERE – research has shown that accomplishment creates resolve and resolve gets results. Too many great ideas go unrealized because they were not fully implemented. The greatest risk of not accomplishing the BIG win is losing the will to persevere.
- ACCOMPLISH – congratulations, you got the BIG win.
You can accomplish a tremendous amount if you start with one step in the right direction. Define where you want to go, create the plan to get there and then take action. Don’t let too much time pass between the milestones or you will get discouraged.
Break down your BIG win into a series of small successes along the way and watch your motivation grow as you persevere and accomplish your BIG win.
Have you ever done word association with a visual image? What does the picture above say to you? It represents a few cool thoughts to us:
- Unique - whether you are making a presentation, coming up with an innovative solution or heading out for dinner be unique. Break out of your status quo. Insanity has been defined as “doing what you’ve always done and expecting something different.” You need to do different to get different.
- Live Juicy – this is a life theme for Brighton Leadership Group. We value life and live each movement to the fullest. That means squeezing every drop out of life as you live it. So make your day juicy.
- Bright - color grabs attention. In a black and white world, there are shades of cobalt, magenta, amethyst, ruby, aqua and even orange! This brings us to the topic of today’s tip, “Orange You Glad.” There is always a new perspective or a new way to look at things. Perspective fuels creativity, innovation and life, try it.
If you are an orange, be glad and be orange. Don’t try to be an apple.
Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. ~Judy Garland
At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. ~Steve Jobs
Today is American Thanksgiving. The point of this week’s tip is to pause and be more intentional about giving thanks or Thanks giving.
Gratitude = the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Research has proven that those who are thankful receive many benefits and you’ll stand out in a crowd! The Benefits of Gratitude include better health, more happiness, career advancement, improved appearance, more fulfilling relationships and a greater glow!
How can you start glowing? Here are just a few suggestions:
- Make a List – be specific about what you are thankful for. It doesn’t have to be extraordinary (I just won the lottery.) Simple, specific thanks is perfect. This focuses your attention and as you make your list, you will elevate your mental mood.
- Say Thank You – extravagantly appreciate everyone and everything around you. Be intentional about thanking people for small things, big things and in between things. The more you practice thanking others, the more your gratitude glow will grow.
- Write a Letter – this is similar to a list but it’s written to a person. We recommend a weekly thank you letter to someone in your life. Whether it is a family member, a friend, a colleague or Smiling Suzie at the cleaners, writing a letter changes your focus. You don’t have to send / give the letter. The act of writing alone will get results. Why not take the extra step and share your appreciation and gratitude.
- Change Your Language – do you use words like “regret, lack, need, loss or scarcity?” You are what you say. Focus on using words like, “gift, blessing, silver lining and abundance.”
This is so important that the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley launched a $5.6 million, three-year project, Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude.
Put some gratitude practices in place. According to the research you will start seeing the benefits of your gratitude practice within three weeks. Start today and get GLOWING with gratitude!
Every place and every person possesses something special and unique. Biltong is something unique to South Africa that we had the chance to experience. What’s unique and special about you?
There is something special about who you are and how you show up in the world. Whether you call this your strengths or your unique ability it’s up to you to identify and make the most of what’s great about you.
How to identify your strengths:
In GO Put Your Strengths to Work, Marcus Buckingham explains that there are four clear signs of a strength:
- Success—This is effectiveness in the activity you are doing. You can love doing something, but how successful are you?
- Instincts—Find those things that you instinctively look forward to, and capitalize on them. When you are in certain situations, what you are drawn to? Perhaps it’s stepping up in a leadership role, or making order out of chaos or even warmly welcoming others. See if you can identify those times in your life when you’re in this flow state, it will point to your strengths since they are involved in getting you to that state.
- Growth—You’re growing when you can concentrate on an activity, and time just flies by. This is the “State of Flow” that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote about. You improve the most in your areas of greatest strength. What have you learned quickly or easily?
- Needs—Some activities might make you tired, but they fulfill you. There is something deep inside that is satisfied when you are operating within your strengths. What makes you feel strong?
In addition to these signs, you can take Marcus’ Standout assessment or the Gallup Strengthsfinder assessment. There is also the Strengths List from the Happiness Institute.
Whatever resource you use, it’s important to know what makes you unique and special. Your strengths are your source for greater success, happiness and lifelong satisfaction.
We coach individuals, teams and organizations on how to identify and build on their strengths. We believe in leveraging your innate greatness, ask us how. Find your Biltong!
Change saturation is a common challenge in today’s workplace and the cause can be either a lack of resiliency, lack of capacity or both. We’ve observed too many times leaders piling on more and more layers of things to do and wondering why change takes soo long to stick.
Capacity for change is a clear factor but the tip today is more about resiliency. People need time to learn, grow and recover. The time that an employee has to engage in take that professional development activity is usually at the top layer of the Layer Cake.
A Layer Cake is our analogy to explain the multiple layers of an employee’s responsibility:
- Layer One: What an employee must do to accomplish their job for 35 to 40 hours per week.
- Layer Two: Set on top of Layer One comes all the projects employees are involved in, supporting or leading.
- Layer Three: Set at the very top, and last, on the cake is personal development which is necessary for the ongoing growth and change of the employee and, ultimately, the organization.
When it comes to organizational resiliency and change capacity, Layer Three is an area of great opportunity for an organization. Unfortunately there is often little capacity for this important work. Successful change requires capacity to learn, grow, adapt and adopt. If the layers of the cake are too filling, there’s no room left for adaptation and change.
THE CHALLENGE: there is more to do than there are hours in the day / week (each person has 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 60 minutes in an hour for a grand total of 10,080 minutes to spend on sleeping, eating, fun, family and friends…and work!
Tips for dealing with the Challenge:
Look at Your Cake – assess your work and how much of your time is being devoted to each layer of the cake. Are you out of balance? Draw a picture of your cake and identify what is in each layer. You may be surprised by the expectations of each layer as you look at them. Once you’ve looked at your cake, check out the following three tips.
- Work Smarter – how often do you “audit” your work habits? It’s easy to fall into routines that are not as efficient as they could be. For example, do you check email first thing in the morning? Change that habit and begin your day by looking at your schedule and your daily goals. Then you can schedule in time to read and respond to email. Don’t let your day get hijacked.
- Tell Your Manager – organizations suffer from “Satellite Syndrome.” They put projects, tasks and actions up into space like satellites and leave them to orbit endlessly. How many reports are produced because they always have been done that way? Are they serving a purpose? Is there a better way? Talk to your manager about those items that have been “abandoned in space.” Explain what needs eliminated, the purpose it used to serve and how it can be replaced with something more effective or simply stopped.
- Prioritize – once you’ve looked at your cake, determine where you need to focus your time and energy. You can’t do it all equally well. Based on your career goals and your interests decide where to focus. Too often the urgent trumps the important. When you prioritize and pay attention you can avoid this trap.
Unfortunately there is no cure for the layer cake that is out of balance. However, we are on a mission to help leaders pay attention to their employee’s cakes and ensure there is adequate capacity for the demands being placed on them.
You can take control of your layer cake by identifying it’s layers and then working smarter, talking with your manager and prioritizing.
On this day in 1989 the Alexanderplatz demonstration began. Between half a million and a million people gathered in East Berlin to protest the Socialist Unity Party of Germany regime and demand reform. Five days later, the peaceful “fall” of the Wall began.
This picture was taken last Friday when we were at Berlin Change Days. It’s one of the remaining pieces of the wall.
- Change Requires Courage. While the decision to make a change may come easily, the courage to stick with it is exponentially more difficult. After years of separation, there was a lot to overcome between East and West Berlin. Between infrastructure updates, social changes, economic changes and educational differences,a lot of work was required to integrate the divided city. Many leaders make the announcement of an exciting new change. Far fewer leaders do what it takes to see the change through to completion. The failure rate of change is explained by the lack of leadership support for changes which begin with great fanfare and enthusiasm but fizzle out and are abandoned by leaders. The courage to stay the course is the key factor in successful change.
- Change Impacts People Differently. Not everyone is happy about change. In The Atlantic, an article by Lane Wallace talks about her visit to the eastern German village of Krausnick. They suffered the loss of thousands of soldiers and civilians. Despite the unspeakable horrors of the past, they had a memorial to the Russians which was preserved with loving care. When Lane asked the townspeople they said that they missed the Russians because they had security during their reign. Although the townspeople didn’t have everything they wanted during that time, they didn’t have to worry about losing their job, paying the rent or figuring out how to afford a new car. As shocking as it may be for some leaders, the wonderful change they want to implement may not be as exciting for the recipients of the change.
- Change Takes Time. Although the wall may have fallen 25 years ago, Germany is still working through the challenges of bringing East and West together. There is no such thing as a quick fix or an instant change. In this microwaveable world, leaders must understand that the work of lasting change requires patience and time. There are accelerators to the change process, but nothing is instant.
- Reunification Matters. For far too long, leaders have defined success in terms of bottom line business results at the expense of their people. The path of failure is littered with measures and metrics which left out the very people who are needed to accomplish the results. It’s time to bring together people, strategy and projects in order to achieve true lasting success.
Walls aren’t the only barriers that exist. Although many companies are creating “open working environments,” silos exist and prevent the free flow of ideas, talent and creative innovation. These invisible walls are holding back the potential of teams, functions, business units, departments and organizations. How can you stage a revolution and bring down the walls of separation?
Leadership defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision, and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles.
~ John Kotter
Inspiration is essential during times of change. Rather than DRIVE change, we believe that leaders should INSPIRE change!
Tips on how to inspire:
- Create Positive Confidence – confidence comes when you can fully trust or believe in someone. As a leader this means closing the “Know | Do Gap” which comes from not applying what you know you should do. Keep your word, be on time, finish what you start and mind your manners (say please, thank you and I’m sorry when appropriate.)
- Encourage Your People – this means that you fill them with courage or strength of purpose. You must be clear about purpose (what are you doing and why) as well as take time to appreciate the people who make an impact. Douglas Conant, the former CEO of Campbell’s Soup Company had 20,000 employees. During the course of his ten year career at Campbell’s he hand wrote over 30,000 notes to them. He took the time to encourage, you can too.
- Be Hopeful – leaders must be realistic about the present, observant of the obstacles, but see a future bigger than the obstacles that must be overcome. This attitude of realistic optimism is essential to change because there are times that things seem impossible. How do you represent hope and keep it alive for your team?
Leadership requires that leaders inspire change. We believe that creating positive confidence, encouraging your people and being hopeful will inspire your people to keep going and move forward through change.
When you are faced with a change how do you respond?
Have you ever experienced a time when you felt you couldn’t take any more change? Perhaps your sponge was full.
The SPONGE = your capacity
In Managing at the Speed of Change, Daryl Conner explains the concept of the sponge. “Change is typically poured onto the physically and emotionally saturated sponges of the work force while management watches helplessly as their intended objectives run down the drain.”
Within each person is a limited capacity for assimilation of change. When a person’s finite resources of intellectual energy and physical stamina are used up it doesn’t matter how much the person wants to change, he or she is out of capacity.
“Managers can no longer flip a switch and pour on the changes. The spray-and-pray approach (announcing major change and hoping it will take hold) is out of date and insufficient.” (pg. 56 Conner)
When you are feeling fully saturated, you can either squeeze out your sponge or increase it. We refer to previous Tuesday Tremendous Tips to provide insights on how to squeeze or increase the sponge!
Squeeze the Sponge – Manage Change Saturation
Increase the Sponge: Resilience is the capacity to recover from change. Here are two previous tips and a presentation that address resilience:
• Aspects of resilience
• Strategies to increase resilience
• A presentation to support your team and discuss resilience strategies you can apply
It’s helpful to understand that no one is super human with a limitless sponge. When you take time to understand your capacity and manage it well, you will improve your ability to recover from change.
When you are saturated from change, it’s helpful to understand that you are not crazy and there is nothing wrong with you. Step away from the sponge and decide whether you want to wring it out (reduce change and complexity) or grow it (practice resilience.)
“This is part one in a series on the change and the process of transformation. Whether you are a leader, inspiring others through change or a person in the midst of change, this is relevant to you.”
Key points to consider:
- Change is a deviation from expectation. The bigger the deviation the bigger the change. (some change models call this a break from status quo)
- There is a difference between change and transformation
- Change is the external event, circumstance or consequence that occurs. It may be something that you choose (initiated change) or something that happens beyond your control (an external or random change.)
- Transformation is a personal process that happens one individual at a time in response to change. It’s the internal choice of how to respond to the external change that is happening.
- The greater your resilience the more equipped you are to deal with change and the internal impacts.
We all will deal with hundreds of thousands of changes through the course of our lives. Some change you choose, other change just happens!
Stay tuned for the next few weeks as we explore the process of transformation and change.