Archives for the month of: April, 2011

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. – Winston Churchill

It’s our regular weekly meeting.  We are going from manager to manager giving a debrief on our team’s performance and project updates.  My mind is wandering as my peers give their summaries. I’m thinking to myself, “Is this it? Is this what it’s all about?”  I know what you’re thinking, pretty existential stuff.

Seriously, though. You’ve all been there. Wondering if what you are doing is what you are suppose to be doing.  If what you think you should be doing is something you are capable of getting done. Do you have the capacity, courage?

We have to step back and take a bit of a reality check at times.  Often I can get caught up and start to romanticize what work should be like – in my world. But, I’m learning to check that at the door and make mental compromises and adjustments.  In Monday Morning Choices, David Cottrell writes:

Understand that choosing reality may not always be the easiest path, but bottom line, it will push you ahead on the road of life.

[Note: This is the 11th in a 12-week series of posts that will discuss “choices” from the book Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell.]

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He that won’t be counseled can’t be helped. – Benjamin Franklin

Each year at review time, we sit down with our managers and get our yearly feedback.  For most, the majority of the feedback is positive – goals have been met, performance is strong, relationships have been developed. Then there is the “areas for development.” Our ears prick up, our heart beats a bit faster, palms might get sweaty, we are listening much more closely. As our manager ticks off these articles of criticism we feel the sting and we may start to respond defensively or hang our heads in defeat.

Here are some other choices and perspectives we can make:

First, criticism is a fact of life. We get it in our professional and our personal lives. So be prepared to receive it. Consciously we all say we like “constructive feedback” – until someone gives it to us.

Second, try not to take it personally. This is something I have been exercising recently. I was starting to let criticism “in” and allowing it to affect my self esteem. By refocusing and moving the criticism to my actions or results allowed me to look at it more objectively and respond to it better. Then I could ask myself, “Who’s offering the criticism, and are they qualified? Are they trying to help me or hurt me? Objectively, is there any truth to what they are saying?” After asking myself these questions I was in a much better position to respond in a positive way.

Third, use criticism as a learning tool. Don’t just brush off the criticism. Make sure you are receptive and think about what is being said.  Think back on your career to a time when you received critical feedback that you dismissed at that moment only later to realize was sound advice.

We all want to be right, have the best ideas and be viewed positively by our peers, bosses and reports.  Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when you have offered feedback to someone in a constructive way and they thoughtfully looked away for a second, turned back to you, smiled, and said, “What a great suggestion!  Thanks.”

[Note: This is the 10th in a 12-week series of posts that will discuss “choices” from the book Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell.]

I believe that you can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar

That quote above by the guy with the funny name is one that threads its way through all religions, philosophies, and grandmotherly advice.  I decided to choose Zig’s quote for a reason this week.

I, like many of you I’m guessing, want to live a good, healthy, successful life.  Living that life each day seems to involve a lot of “me” energy. What I mean by “me” energy is the energy we use thinking about ourselves, what others are thinking about us, worrying about how to become the person we think we should be, and so on.

We all need our “me” energy. I’m not going to be the one to say stop thinking about yourself.  There’s a large section of books at the Barnes & Noble that can do that for you.  I’m okay with a degree of selfishness. But, it needs to be tempered and normalized. You can’t make it alone. You need to refuel this energy to grow and sustain happiness.

Personally, I’ve found two ways to refuel that energy.

First, I need “my” time to re-energize. I refuel by sitting quietly with a book, reading blogs, or flipping through magazines. I’m sure you have your own personal way of refueling.

Second, I refuel by helping others. This was surprising to someone who has always considering himself an introvert.  I regain my energy by teaching religious ed at my unitarian church. I regain my energy by volunteering at Jewish Relief Agency once a month and connecting with families in need.  I get a jolt of energy when someone let’s me know that the advice I offered was helpful to them.

The relationships that are built in life act as a renewable energy source for our soul.  Without them we will struggle to reach our goals and to live the life we all deserve.

[Note: This is the 9th in a 12-week series of posts that will discuss “choices” from the book Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell.]