MVP Seminars Blogs

This is not just for Human Resources. Employers need to use an informed approach to help boost employee satisfaction, retention and productivity while protecting the company’s legal and financial interests. It is the biggest economic burden of any health issue in the world and is projected to cost $6 trillion by 2030. Two-thirds of these costs are attributed to disability and loss of work. And yet shockingly, of the 450 million people worldwide who suffer from mental health conditions 60% do not receive any form of care. “Jobs” is the key word in American politics these days. How to get them back from other countries is important, of course, but what about helping companies retain the employees they have by successfully promoting mental wellness in the workplace?      How? Here are four ways: * Prevention: Promote mental health as part of an overall corporate wellness campaign. For example, bring in professionals who specialize in mental health and substance abuse issues to present mandatory, yet interesting educational seminars. That will help reduce the stigma attached to mental and substance abuse disorders. Businesses who have done this reported reduction in health expenses and other financial gains for their organizations. * Awareness: Changes in sleep, mood, appetite, weight, behavior, and personality are caused by many drug addictions and mental health disorders. Other telling symptoms include tardiness, missed deadlines and unexplained or unauthorized absences from work to counter these problems, it is critical that management and HR be given sensitivity training and that professional information and referral resources are readily available. Taking these steps can help employers manage situations before they get out of control. * Work-Life Balance and Accommodations: The Family Medical Leave Act entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and professionally diagnosed medical reasons, including mental illness or alcohol/substance use disorders. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to assist people with disabilities, including mental health impairments, perform job duties. Employers can help employees with mental health issues by encouraging the use of written checklists, instructions and offering more training time. Sometimes providing a mentor for daily guidance and meeting regularly to discuss progress. * Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs designed to address substance abuse and addictions, as well as personal and family problems, mental health or emotional issues, marital or parenting problems, and financial or legal concerns. EAPs have evolved and grown in popularity during the last 25 years. The number of organizations with an EAP increased from 31% in 1985 to 75% in 2009. Providing a variety of treatment options for an employee will not only help reduce their suffering - it will curtail the incidence of impaired functioning at work. More jobs in America? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, some 60% to 80% of people with mental illness are unemployed. In part, this is the crippling nature of the disease. But a large part of the problem that we have in hiring people who have some mental disorder is that we lack the sophisticated vocabulary to talk and act regarding these illnesses. Managing mental health should hold no fear for managers – whether they realize it or not, they already have many of the skills needed to look after their employees’ well being. Sometimes all it takes is an open mind. Mental health is the mental and emotional state in which we feel able to cope with the normal stresses of everyday life. If we are feeling good about ourselves we often work productively, interact well with colleagues and make a valuable contribution to our team or workplace. The good news is that line managers already have many of the skills needed to promote positive mental health at work. They are usually well-versed in the importance of effective communication and consultation, and the need to draw up practical workplace policies and procedures. Add to these skills an open mind and a willingness to try and understanding mental health problems, and organizations can make real progress in tackling the stigma often associated with mental health. “The problem with the stigma around mental health is really about the stories that we tell ourselves as a society. What is normal? That’s just a story that we tell ourselves.” -- Matthew Quick (Author of The Silver Linings Playbook) Invest in your employee training and development by offering Business Training Seminars that produce tangible results.  
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At some time in life, most people feel as though they've been treated unfairly to the extent that they would consider themselves a victim. Certainly those who have been the target of a violent crime fall into that category according to society's standards. Even those of lesser offenses can view themselves as the target of injustice: a faithful spouse who's partner has an affair or files for divorce; a child being tormented by a bully at school; one who has a rumor spread about them, particularly those that cause significant damage or distress. By definition, a victim is one who is acted on and (generally speaking) is adversely affected by a force or agent such as robbery, physical assault, or murder. A person who is cheated, tricked or fooled by another (which may or may not cause them harm, such as the target of an innocent prank) or one who is coned out of their life savings for instance, can also be seen as a victim. There are also victims of unforeseen circumstances such as disease or natural disaster (hurricane, flood), or that which is out of their control (bad economy, company downsizing). Typically we perceive said person as being innocent of any wrongdoing that contributed to their unfortunate circumstance. One who engages in gang activity and suffers severe physical harm to their person is not seen as blameless but rather contributory to their injuries.  Someone who is unproductive on the job and overlooked for a promotion given to the boss's son is not a victim of nepotism for their prior actions (or lack thereof) are justification for their being ignored. However, one who has lived a wholesome lifestyle and diagnosed with a devastating disease receives much sympathy. Yet even those who diverge from the universal criteria for victimization, there are still a significant number who believe they fall into this category. The reasons are several: a victim is one who feels powerless in a given situation. Statements such as "I can't help it", "It's not my fault", "I did nothing to deserve this", "Why me?" are common complaints. They view themselves as completely innocent of any wrongdoing and shoulder no responsibility for what is or has transpired but are quick to hold others accountable (blame).They also perceive themselves as having no choice but to comply with or endure what is has happened and fail to see options that could have possibly prevented or could now resolve that which is unjust.  Very often, those who feel they have been the deliberate target of an wrongdoing feel persecuted and are consumed with self-pity, resentment, bitterness, and rage. In truth, the label of "victim" is a matter of perception alone. The Dalai Lama says that "There are no victims in life, only students." This compelling statement illustrates the power of perception. In any of life's circumstances, how I view myself is critical to how I react to and/or use the event in my life. Going through my divorce, the estrangement from my children, my dad's Alzheimer's, a domestic violence relationship - in each I could see myself as a victim since I was powerless to control, prevent, or correct many of these situations. Or I could choose to learn from each in order that I may grow, become a better person, and share my knowledge with others so that they may benefit as well. That choice is entirely up to me. The first leaves me angry and bitter; the latter grateful and determined. One of the easiest and quickest means of eliminating a victim mentality is actually quite simple. When something unexpected enters our life, we may react by asking: "Why is this happening to me?" We are stunned that something of such an unpleasant nature could actually appear in our life. This question implies that we are being targeted by someone or some unseen force. In truth, there may be those who seek to deliberately hurt me or this could simply be a random act. In any event, I am not immune to so-called bad things happening. However, one simple shift in terminology releases me from the chains of victimhood to one of liberation and strength. By changing the phrase to me to for me I can experience the event as merely a challenge to accept or as a genuine blessing in my life to appreciate rather than a curse or trauma. In truth, there are no bad experiences; there simply are events that enter our lives. How we label and view them and how we choose to use them determines their value, nothing else. One can view a stroke as a nightmare or they can see it as an opportunity to reinvent their life. The reality of what has transpired is irrelevant; all that matters is one's assessment and use of it. Victims believe they have no power and powerlessness is the very definition of anger. Therefore, victims are filled with anger and fear (a root cause of anger) and may experience rage or paralyzing anxiety. They fail to recognize that all humans possess authentic power which is found in the ability to make personal choices - how we view things, what we think and feel, what we say or don't say, how we respond or not, and how we allow life to impact us. That is the only real control any of us have - our ability to make our own decisions. In truth, none of us has dominance over anything eternal, anything outside of the self. I can only influence my surroundings but I cannot control them. Sometimes things work out as I anticipated, other times not even remotely close. I can choose to put forth effort to correct that which I am unsatisfied with or I can elect to accept and be at peace with it. My choice. So how does one move beyond the mindset of being a victim to establishing authority over their own lives, success, and happiness?
  1. Remember that everything that enters your life has purpose and value. The labels you assign determine their worth: good or bad are relevant terms on in the sense that they are dictated by your personal standards. Re evaluate their assessment, removing any derogatory notions and seek the meaning and importance of each. Once its significance is determined, one can find a way to use the experience for a greater good.
Life isn't about truth and reality; life is about perception. The reality of what has transpired is irrelevant; all that matters is one's assessment and use of it.
  1. Check your perception for accuracy. Many times our expectations of life are unrealistic, such as "my life should be what I want it to be". Unmet expectations lead to frustration(another root cause of anger), a sense of powerlessness, anger, and bitterness. Be honest and real with yourself about the unpredictability that life affords all of its participants.
  2. Try to view each situation from every perspective. By gaining a greater understanding of the cause and nature of the event, we are better able to make sense of it. This can lead to a willingness to accept that which we cannot change.
  3. Ask yourself, "What is this experience here to teach me?" Courage, determination, trust, self-confidence, forgiveness: life's most profound lessons are most often found in our most difficult happenings. This, too, adds greater value to what has transpired.
  4. Take control. Are there any changes that can be made to improve things for you and others who have been affected? If so, create a plan and begin putting forth effort. If not, acceptance of those things that we cannot change enables us to move beyond the occurrence with a peaceful determination to get on with our lives.
  5. Forgive those who contributed to what happened. People can be mean-spirited, thoughtless, careless, selfish, and more. Their actions are a reflection of their issues, they are not about you. Forgiving acknowledges mankind's imperfections and releases all judgments. It chooses to put to rest any anger, hatred, jealousy, thoughts of retaliation and so on. Again, learn the lesson, let go of the emotion attached to it, and move forward as a stronger better version of yourself.
  6. Accept responsibility for your role, if applicable. Vow to learn and not repeat the same behavior in the future. Forgive yourself as well.
Buddha says, "Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." All of us will experience some type of pain in our lives - physical, emotional, financial, etc. However, when we prolong the pain and keep it actively alive in our minds, it converts to suffering that can last a lifetime and destroy our lives. Remember, victimization is an illusion, not a reality; it is a choice, not a given. It is rooted in our perception of ourselves in the context of an event accompanied  by feelings of self-pity and persecution. Reclaim your authentic power utilizing your ability to choose. In the words of Pastor Joel Osteen,  "You are a victor, not a victim" God created you to rise above and be victorious in every the challenge. You were not created to suffer and fail. Those are personal choices that you need to re evaluate. Stand tall. Face life as it appears. Redefine each event and use them in such a way that  benefits you and those around you.  And in doing so, you will never fall prey to the illusion of being a victim ever again. Q: No one journeys through life unscathed. Each of us faces hardships and challenges along the way. It matters not what enters our life but more importantly what we do with it: how we use it to better ourselves and those around us. Order  The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html   Listen to past shows on iHeart Radio @ http://ow.ly/OADTf Listen to my newest iHeart Radio show, BETWEEN YOU AND GOD, @ http://ow.ly/OADJK Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+
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My colleagues and I are often brought into corporations to do teambuilding. Whether the audience is executive management or employees that work on the manufacturing line, the purpose for hiring my organization is to help teams strategize how to be more cohesive and productive. Early in my career it was theory, structure and small group exercises that illustrated effective teambuilding, but that has all changed. Talk is out the window: taste, touch, feel and experience are in.

I recently read an article in a popular business magazine that suggested video games and online gaming are responsible for the change in what organizations are looking for to help increase teambuilding. I have also heard that Millennials are more action-oriented and need to experience business strategy rather than read or talk about it. Regardless of the origin of change, training in teambuilding is now an out-of-your-seat, participatory experience that reveals vulnerabilities, leadership styles, communication and problem-solving skills, and a myriad of other strengths and deficiencies of all parties involved. The learning is in real time with adequate time built in for feedback, reflection and application in the workplace.

In response to the need for a new delivery style, the training industry has responded with training approaches that can be divided into three categories: simulation, real escape and theme adventure. Simulation exercises have a written adventure scenario, background information, maps, and usually a pressure-sensitive scoring form. There is a group task, individual task and a problem to solve. The timed activity is done on-site and concludes with reflection on how effective the team was, how they could improve team performance, what insights they gained about each other individually and as a team, and how they could transfer the experience to their daily work.

Real escape teambuilding has its roots in gaming, and some give credit to real escape games that began in Japan in 2007. There are many variations of real escape teambuilding, but basically it requires that groups be put into an off-site room specifically designed for the task of finding a way out. The group has to work together using clues within the room to gain their freedom. It is a timed escape at a minimum of an hour. Participants apply communication skills, critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership skills to escape. Companies such as FedEx, Frito Lay and 7Eleven have used real escape teambuilding with their employees.

My favorite theme adventure is from a company called Recipe for Success. All of their teambuilding exercises revolve around preparing food. Their exercises are held off site and run for a minimum of two hours. Themes such as Team Breakfast, Chili Cook-Off, and Ultimate Pizza Challenge can be adapted for groups of 10 to 250.The benefits include building skills in negotiation, prioritization, communication, innovation and problem solving. When the task is complete, the team has an enhanced sense of teamwork because they have completed a project that they can see, touch and eat. It is important to note that the skill sets used in theme adventure teambuilding exercises, such as Recipe for Success, are immediate and transferable.

Whatever method your organization uses to promote teambuilding, the desired result is better communication, a more cohesive unit and increased productivity. Talking about teambuilding no longer produces the desired results in today’s interactive market. The employee of today needs to experience in order to learn.

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  I recently chatted with a man who works for Southwest Airlines, a company widely known for its positive corporate culture . . . and its dramatic success. This man’s face lit up as he described the things that Herb Kelleher, Southwest’s founder, had done to create a culture that celebrates people and their successes. He said that he and his friends love working for Southwest. “It’s the quality of our leadership,” he told me; “if they were selling underwear, I would buy their underwear!” He was being humorous, but the comment stuck with me. What creates that kind of passionate employee loyalty and respect? Would you say that Herb Kelleher introduced a business philosophy that is the root of which my friend’s enthusiasm is the fruit? Or does such a culture happen by chance? It certainly didn’t happen by chance at Southwest. The company’s NASDAQ symbol is LUV, short for “Love.” All their airplanes are emblazoned with a heart symbol. And Southwest doesn’t talk about love for marketing copy; building a culture of love is part of the way they do business. Here’s how the company’s website explains their philosophy: “Happy Employees = Happy Customers. Happy Customers keep Southwest flying.” Southwest’s mission statement includes these words: “Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer.” Southwest’s employees appreciate the investment that is made in them. The LUV company ranked #12 in Glassdoor.com’s 2013 Employees’ Choice Awards Best Place to Work. OK, so the company has a great culture, but does that translate into profitability? As a matter of fact, it does! Southwest recently announced its 40th consecutive year of profitability. Let that sink in for a minute: forty consecutive years . . . and that working in an industry that has been bludgeoned by skyrocketing fuel costs, terror threats, and economic malaise. I have asserted for decades now that building a winning culture will translate into sustainable profitability. I tell business leaders, “Put people first and profits will follow.” Creating a work environment which causes employees to wake up in the morning saying, “Yay! I get to go to work”—rather than “Yuck! I’ve got to go to work!”—is not ancillary to success; it’s an integral component of it! Putting people first isn’t a “happy-clappy,” feel-good issue; it’s a matter of sound economic policy. Let me explain. Economics is the science of human choice, necessitated by the circumstances of limited means. Choice presupposes preferences; preferences are the manifestations of one’s goals, motives, and means. Southwest Airlines has maintained 40 years of profitability because their customers prefer the Southwest experience—which is a clear reflection of the Southwest culture—and choose to book their flights with that airline. We are the product of our preferences. Think of a person who is making a choice; what motivates that choice? Choice comes from a person’s preference, and our preferences are determined by what will satisfy our self-interest. Now, when we hear the term self-interest, we frequently assume that it means selfishness, but that assumption is not always correct. If our self-interest includes the self-interest of others, we’re not being selfish. Dr. John Robbins explained this distinction in his magnificent book, Freedom and Capitalism:

What about the missionary? He acts in his self-interest by enduring hardships because he has a different conception of his interests from most people.

How about the mother? She acts in her own interest because her conception of her own interests includes the well-being of her children.[1]

Dr. Robbins was highlighting the truth that two people we might think of as acting selflessly—a missionary and a mother, both of whom are laboring for the good of others with little or no remuneration—are still acting in their self-interest. That’s because they have voluntarily expanded the realm of their self-interest to include the interests of others. They have freely chosen to embrace the ages-old exhortation, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” In my next article, I’ll show you how this economic theory of putting people first works out in practice. I hope you’ll be back to read and comment!
 
[1] John W. Robbins, Freedom and Capitalism; Essays on Christian Politics and Economics (Unicoi, TN: The Trinity Foundation, © 2006), p. 417.
 
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The Economics of Putting People First in Corporate Leadership, Part Two

By Jack Lannom Economics Pt 2 In my previous post, I defined economics as the science of human choice, necessitated by the circumstances of limited means. What does “the science of human choice” have to do with putting people first? Simple: the connection is in the choices we make. And the People First philosophy encourages us to choose to seek the well-being of others before we seek our own.   Seeking the well-being of others is not an altruistic mindset reserved for moms and missionaries; it works in the business world as well. The New York Times recently profiled Dr. Adam Grant, who, at age 31, is the youngest tenured professor at the Wharton School . . . and also already the highest-rated. Why was Grant profiled? His philosophy of giving of himself to others is attracting national attention. “Helpfulness is Grant’s credo,” The Times said, and went on to explain his philosophy this way: “The greatest untapped source of motivation, [Grant] argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.” This young academician is espousing the servant leader’s philosophy, that it is more blessed to give than to receive. And Adam Grant is not speaking only to colleagues in the ivory tower; his reputation for excellence extends well beyond the world of academia. The Times quoted Prasad Setty of Google as saying that he contacts Dr. Grant when “we are thinking about big problems we are trying to solve.”[1] What sets him apart? Adam Grant’s success is predicated on his preference to be a giver and not a taker. The Harvard Business Review has taken notice. The prestigious management periodical recently published an article by Dr Grant, in which he argues, “Organizations have a strong interest in fostering giving behavior. A willingness to help others achieve their goals lies at the heart of effective collaboration, innovation, quality improvement, and service excellence.” Grant buttressed his assertion with a study conducted by the University of Arizona, which found that “the link between employee giving and desirable business outcomes was surprisingly robust. Higher rates of giving were predictive of higher unit profitability, productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction, along with lower costs and turnover rates. When employees act like givers, they facilitate efficient problem solving and coordination and build cohesive, supportive cultures that appeal to customers, suppliers, and top talent alike.”[2] I don’t know if Dr. Grant is aware of People First Leadership; I do know he is underscoring the acute importance of the economics of putting people first. Ancient wisdom literature exhorts us not to act out of selfish ambition or conceit, but to esteem others better than ourselves. We are to look out not only for our own interests, but also the interests of others. This is the philosophy Dr. Grant is espousing and it is the philosophy of People First. And this philosophy of choosing to invest in the people on the front line of your business translates directly into a healthy bottom line. Wegmans, a privately owned supermarket chain that operates 79 stores in the Northeast, is another organization that has seized on the concept of servant leadership. “Our employees are our number one asset, period,” Kevin Stickles, Wegmans’ VP for human resources, told The Atlantic magazine. “The first question you ask is: ‘Is this the best thing for the employee?’ That’s a totally different model.” “The Wegmans model is simple,” The Atlantic reports. “A happy, knowledgeable and superbly trained employee creates a better experience for customers. Extraordinary service builds tremendous loyalty.” [3] Clearly, Wegmans’ customers like the business model; the readers of Consumer Reports ranked Wegmans as their favorite grocery store chain.[4] Customer loyalty translates into profitability. Wegmans did $6.2 billion dollars of business last year and generated higher average daily sales volumes than any of its competitors across the east coast. “When you think about employees first, the bottom line is better,” Kevin Stickles asserts.[5] Operating in today’s uncertain economy, business leaders are forced to challenge their employees to generate more output with fewer resources. Ten years ago, we were all hustling to “Grow the business, grow the margins, expand!” Now it’s “Spend less, hire fewer, but do more!” The best way I know to enlist people in such a herculean task is to demonstrate that you care about them. As Adam Grant says, the greatest source for releasing untapped potential is service to others. I’ll be posting Part Three in this series on Monday. We’ve seen how the philosophy of putting people first has worked for Southwest Airlines and Wegmans; but will it work in your business? Does putting people first mean that we simply forget about profits? I’ll give you a sneak preview here: Yes, it will work in your business; No, I’m not saying profits aren’t important! I hope you’ll be back to read and comment. ______________________________ [1] Susan Dominus, “Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?” The New York Times, March 27, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/magazine/is-giving-the-secret-to-getting-ahead.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2& (Viewed 4/24/13) [2] Adam Grant, “In the Company of Givers and Takers,” The Harvard Business Review, April 2013, http://hbr.org/2013/04/in-the-company-of-givers-and-takers/ar/1 (Viewed 4/24/2013) [3] David Rohde, “The Anti-Walmart: The Secret Sauce of Wegmans Is People,” The Atlantic, March 23, 2012, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/03/the-anti-walmart-the-secret-sauce-of-wegmans-is-people/254994/ (Viewed 4/25/2013) [4] Geoff Herbert, “Wegmans named best supermarket by Consumer Reports; Walmart one of the worst,” syracuse.com, April 3, 2012, http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/04/wegmans_best_supermarket.html (Viewed 4/26/2013) [5] Rohde, “The Anti-Walmart.”
 
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A few years ago, I was visiting Disney World with my family. While waiting in line for the Peter Pan attraction, I watched the cast members (employees) as they helped each guest enter and sit in the small flying ships to begin the experience. 

I noticed a very focused and cheerful cast member who was busy neither helping guests exit nor enter the ride.  She was instead sprinkling each of the ships with invisible pixie dust, the substance that helped Peter Pan and others fly in the story. Following the same pattern for each ship, she took from her hand some imaginary pixie dust and gently spread it along the roll bar and across the seat of each flying ship. 

The ultimate test came when a ship emerged that had tape across it with a sign “Out of Order.” I wondered what she was going to do with this ship, which was not worthy to carry any guests. To my surprise, she prepared that same ship with pixie dust just like the others! She didn’t look around to check to make sure others saw what she did. She just did it! 

I don’t know if this pixie dust routine was expected of her or if it was her own invention. Regardless, she clearly understood why she was there -- to create a magical experience for the guests! She knew her role, had fun with it, and delivered it with high engagement. 

As I reflected on the coming New Year, I remembered that fun experience. I see it as a wonderful lesson in building engagement and purpose. Clarifying your individual purpose and desires and aligning them to your team’s mission is important to create full engagement—for you and for those you lead. Despite the “Out of Order” signs or other obstacles that come our way, knowing your purpose will enable your commitment to shine through. 

Define Your Purpose 
My challenge to you is to define your personal purpose for this year. To help you do this, below are three questions you want to answer. The intersection of these questions will create your purpose for the year. Use this for yourself and for the members of your team. 

#1 What Do I Care About? 
Start with identifying the top 3-5 things you value or are most passionate about professionally, personally, or both. 

Here are two examples: I recently coached a VP of Product Development and he loved ideas, trying new things out, and failing fast. We created a purpose statement for him around innovation and creating an environment of learning for his team. 

Another example involves a former colleague who had a passion for marine life and protecting the oceans. Because of this, she is planning on volunteering with a non-profit that works with ocean conservation. 

#2 What Am I Good At? 
Instead of focusing on things you are not good at, identify 3-5 strengths or talents that bring you joy when you do them. What has helped you become successful at work? Think about moments when you lose track of time or when someone came up and gave you a fantastic compliment. What were you doing? 

For example, a VP of Quality I was coaching excelled at recognizing the achievement of her people. She would write a letter every day telling someone they did a good job. She leaned into this strength and her team’s engagement showed it. 

#3 What Am I Grateful For? 
Recently a study was done, where researchers divided volunteers into two groups: one group to keep a weekly list of things they were grateful for and the other group to keep a weekly list of hassles and problems they were having. Not surprisingly, the people in the first group showed significantly higher life satisfaction than the problem focused group. 

If you want to increase the likelihood that you will be happy, focus on the good things in life.  If you want to sustain that level of happiness, build elements of gratitude into your annual purpose statement. 

Your Purpose Statement 
As you answer these three questions, combine the answers into one thought. It doesn’t matter if your focus for the year comes out as a single sentence: “Be present and positive when listening to other’s ideas” or even as a single word: “Present.” A purpose statement is important because it supports you doing what you love and loving what you do. It can bring you happiness as you lead others. 

Conclusion 
Having a focused and defined purpose will direct your energy, help you manage through the bumps, and enable you to fly (with or without the pixie dust!) and make it a great year ahead! 

Time to Share 
Share your purpose statement with others, plan time to support it, and have fun living it! And please share your experiences with us in creating your purpose for the year. Leave a comment below with your experience or even your own purpose statement. 

FREE RESOURCE 
To help you answer the above questions, and support you in coming up with your purpose statement, we created a worksheet for you that you can download and or print. Click here to download your FREE copy of the “Defining Your Purpose of the Year Worksheet.” 

*Note: Article originally published on Linked In 

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I abhor arguing. It's a waste of precious time and energy and robs me of my serenity. Conflict, however, is horse of another color. Conflict occurs daily in each of our lives. It simply means that there is a disagreement, a difference of opinion. My husband and I engage in disputes on a regular basis yet interestingly enough have had fewer than five arguments in our eighteen year marriage. Unlike popular opinion, conflict is not synonymous with fighting. I'm willing to engage in a discussion but will never allow it to escalate into a battle. Let me explain by first clarifying the words I'm referring to: conflict is two opposing forces; to argue is to give reason for or against something, to prove or try to prove  (this often entails the need to be right); fighting seeks to gain authority over another by way of struggle, a hostile encounter between two parties. Let's take a closer look at each. Two people, each with a different set of beliefs, preferences, needs, or goals enter into a conversation: a wife dreams of traveling around the world while her husband wants to settle down and have a family - conflict. One person is raised Christian, another Jew, and yet another with no beliefs in a higher power form a friendship and share their beliefs - conflict. Conflict even occurs in nature: a sun shower, salmon swimming upstream to lay their eggs, a collision of warm air with a cold front. The difference between human discord and natural divergence is that in nature there is no ego to complicate matters. Humans have an inherent need to be right, to win in order to feel good about themselves, to raise their sense of worth. Nature on the other hand simply allows differences to occur and works within the context of its ever changing circumstances. Yet when two creatures of the human species disagree ego wages war on the so-called offending party, prepared to prove it's superiority and claim victory over its opponent. What begins as a simple disagreement quickly rivals The War of the Roses.  But there is an alternative. Many disagreements can be readily resolved in a matter of minutes by adhering to the following fifteen minute protocol: 1. Allow each party sixty seconds (that's right: one measly minute) to state their position. This prevents the dialogue from becoming contaminated with blame and excuses or veering off track. Total time: two minutes. 2. Each party is allotted thirty seconds to state their desired outcome, what they would ideally like to see happen. Total time: one minute. 3. Both parties must contribute a minimum of three possible solutions. This allows for six potentially workable resolutions. Each person is permitted three minutes. Total time: six minutes. 4. Together, extract the best components of each suggestion and determine which elements can successfully be incorporated into the final solution. Tweak if necessary. Total time: six minutes. Approximately 13% of the total time focuses on the challenging situation leaving a whopping 87% to finding a workable and mutually satisfying remedy.  The advantages of a Fifteen Minute Conflict Resolution Solution is that by moving the process along quickly one dramatically reduces the chances that the situation will escalate into an argument or fight. The mind must remain focused on finding a solution rather than concerning itself with being right. Time is of the essence and one cannot afford to become distracted by ego. Putting this issue to rest allows both sides to move forward to the more enjoyable aspects of living. Short and sweet = complete. Pretty cool, don't you agree?  
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The term “Diamond Formation Leader” originates from the diamond shape that is achieved when four airplanes fly in perfect formation position in three-dimensional space. I had the good fortune to be part of these diamond formations during my military aviation career. Getting into that perfect position for a moment is something that can be learned by applying proper procedures. When moving through the airspace, conditions constantly change. Wind is shifting, visibility is changing with the angle of the sun and clouds in the sky. Every little thing, like altitude, temperature, humidity, etc. make a difference in the environment.   Initially, to get establish the basic Diamond Formation requires significant movement and changes to position by each plane. To maintain perfect Diamond Formation position requires constant incremental changes to adjust to the environmental changes and then match the input the leader is giving to the lead plane to reach the destination or goal.   The concept that the Diamond Formation in military aviation is providing for business is to realize that four core, relatively new core aspects of a diamond need to be brought into balance to achieve Diamond Formation Leadership. Those four corners are: ·         Collaboration ·         Team Building ·         Cultural Sensitivity ·         Globalization For each of these four corners there are individual lessons to be written in the future. As in Diamond Formation flying we need to initially make bigger changes to even get into position and then apply smaller incremental changes to react to the environment and maintain positon while we are guiding the formation to achieve our and/or the organizations vision. The value of maintaining the balance within the formation lies in the ability to direct attention on the specific corner of the diamond. The leader of the formation is providing the guidance and each wingman only needs to line up two points to maintain perfect position. With the formation in this kind of balance, there will be no doubt that the vision or goal will be reached.   Developing the ability to make initially big changes to get in position and then small incremental changes to maintain perfect position and balance leads to success for the whole formation.   For the leader to be in front and lead the formation towards the goal and vision core principles and attributes need to be in place. We have conducted a study to determine what these core principles and attributes of a Diamond Formation Leader are and will describe them in Lesson #6 of this series. Learning how to make changes to maintain perfect position in the Diamond Formation and bringing the four core aspects into balance is the secret of success. When the formation is out of balance, we need to apply large amounts of energy and focus to get back into position and balance. That energy is lost and cannot be applied to perfect each of the four aspects needed to be successful in our ever changing modern business environment. Ask yourself what you have done recently to ·         develop and enhance collaboration? ·         contribute and lead to build and improve your team? ·         get a better understanding of the culture, heritage, and diversity of the people following and listening to you and what they need to trust and believe in you? ·         Identify and develop benefits and advantages to achieve the goals and vision of your team and organization through globalization? If your answer is that there is any one of the four areas that you have not touched or improved for some time, you are probably way out of position and need to make a big change to get back into Diamond Formation. If your answers indicate that you have been working on these four aspects, ask yourself how you can improve positioning and alignment to make it perfectly balanced. What are the incremental next steps you will take to keep adjusting and improving while moving towards the vision you and your organization aim to achieve.          
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There are two significant advantages to empowering employees.  They include:
  1. The growth and development of the employee, and
  2. The ability of the leader to accomplish so much more.
5 of the Top 10 Ways to Empower Your Staff
  1. Set the example; in every area. Your team will follow if you lead.
  2. Delegate and empower others. Everyone learns best by doing.
  3. Create enough space for individuals to make mistakes and grow. Step in only when safety is a concern or a potential gross misuse of resources.
  4. Teach others to accept responsibility, but develop trust by maintaining overall responsibility.
  5. Focus on developing your team; individually and collectively.
Read  the full articleTom Crea is a Leadership Speaker and Performance Coach who works with groups of managers who want to build teams and lead.  He served a career in the U.S. Army where he specialized in developing leaders, improving communication, and building teams. 
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As I work with various teams in diverse organizations, I have noticed both subtle and overt ways that workplace politics acts as a barrier to successful business communication. This disconnect can reveal itself in promotions, office placements, clients, and raises. The workplace is a political environment much like Washington DC, but without the pomp and circumstance. Your knowledge of the political landscape in your organization is a stepping stone on the trajectory of your career.   Political IQ is an intangible asset that can be acquired if it is not an inherent part of your business skill sets. Acknowledging that politics drives many decisions in the workplace is the first step to realigning your business communication style. Workplace politics is about power and influence. It is not enough in most organizations to be well-educated, knowledgeable about the product and efficient in your position. In fact, in some organizations those attributes are a recipe to remain in your current position and train others to become your supervisor. Today, communication skills (good or bad) elevate influence and power. Despite popular perception, communication involves listening as well as speaking. A productive work environment is one where employees practice effective communication, including feedback. It is important to understand what motivates workers, who the key players are in an organization, and how to move the organization ahead through a vision.   Upon arrival to a new organization, be respectful but do not be swayed by titles. Management titles can be deceptive. In many organizations, it is the administrative assistant who took your resume who has the most influence on whether you get hired, not the room full of executives who interviewed you. It is critical to listen and watch who the other employees consider the people with influence. Step back and suppress the urge to show how much you know until you understand the political environment. Consider:   ·Who are the key players? Perception often trumps knowledge in the workplace. ·What is the chain of command? ·Do you know the company’s values? ·Who do you pitch an idea to without that person presenting the idea as his/her own? ·What is the difference between gossip and conversation? ·How much social networking is considered permissible? ·What is acceptable regarding dating or socializing with other employees?   Answers to these questions are part of developing a political IQ in the workplace. Power plus humans can be an explosive combination. However, putting our heads in the sand and pretending that politics is not a part of the workplace is not a credible option. Hidden agendas, personal gains through manipulation, distrust of management, inflated egos and entitlement disturb the functionality of an organization. They, too, can be a part of the political landscape of a company. Isn’t it better for an employee to be aware, rather than naïve, of the work environment? I must emphasize that recognizing the workplace as a political environment does not make it toxic, but the possibility does exist. Your knowledge of the political influence in your business environment is the silent player in your career. It is the degree of political influence that affects your productivity. How you use your political IQ will determine your longevity with the organization.   nanci@aplsgroup.com www.aplsgroup.com
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