Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top of Form
12 Things Happy People Do Differently

“I’d always believed that a life of quality, enjoyment, and wisdom were my human birthright and would be automatically bestowed upon me as time passed.  I never suspected that I would have to learn how to live - that there were specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world I had to master before I could awaken to a simple, happy, uncomplicated life.”
-Dan Millman

Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness.  These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives.  

I want to honor and discuss each of these 12 points, because no matter what part of life’s path we’re currently traveling on, these ‘happiness habits’ will always be applicable.
1.       Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren't thankful for what we already have.
2.      Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it.  She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.

3.      Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority.  Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out!  If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made.  What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place.  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
4.      Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.  What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness.  How extraordinary is that?  Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.  A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.

5.       Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  WHOA!  There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with.  We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
6.      Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable.  Forrest Gump knows the deal.  It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
7.       Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.  You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
8.      Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
9.      Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
10.   Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.

11.    Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists.  Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
12.   Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.  Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft?  Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

7 Ways Leaders Maintain Their Composure in Difficult Times

Leaders need to show more composure than ever before in the workplace.   With increased  demands and intensifying competitive factors that surround us, leaders must have greater poise, agility and patience to minimize the impact of uncertainty.   How leaders respond to these and other growing pressures is an indicator of their leadership preparedness, maturity and acumen.
The composure of a leader is reflected in their attitude, body language and overall presence.   In today’s evolving business environment, it is clear that leadership is not only about elevating the performance, aptitude and development of people – but more so about the ability to make people feel safe and secure.   .

The 21st century leader sees adversity through the lens of opportunity.  Rather than panic, a leader with composure takes a step back and begins to connect the dots of opportunity within adverse circumstances.   These types of leaders quickly detect the causes of adversity and solve for them immediately.  They then enable the opportunities previously unseen that could have avoided the adversity to begin with.  

Many times crisis results when composure is missing.
The next time a problem arises, ask yourself if you or your leader could have shown a greater sense of composure and avoided the problem from surfacing.

Here are seven ways to maintain leadership composure during the most pressure-packed moments:

1.  Don’t Allow Your Emotions to Get in the Way
Seasoned leaders know not to wear their emotions on their sleeves.   They don’t yell or get overly animated when times get tough.  These types of leaders have such emotional self-control that even their body language does not give them away.
When you allow your emotions to get in the way, employees interpret this as a sign you are not being objective enough and too passionate about the situation at hand.  Strong-willed leaders can maintain their composure and still express concern and care, but not to the point that their emotions become a distraction – or that they can’t responsibly handle the issues at hand.
2.  Don’t Take Things Personally
Leaders shouldn’t take things personally when things don’t go their way.   Business decisions and circumstances don’t always play out logically because office politics and other dynamics factor into the process.    As a leader, remain calm and don’t get defensive or think that you always must justify your thinking and actions.
When you begin to take things personally, it’s difficult to maintain your composure and make those around you believe that you have things under control.  In fact, when leaders take issues too close to heart, they allow the noise and politics around them to suffocate their thinking and decision-making capabilities.
3.  Keep a Positive Mental Attitude
Employees are always watching their leader’s actions, behavior, relationships and overall demeanor.   During the most difficult of times, leaders must maintain a positive mental attitude and manage a narrative that keeps their employees inspired and hopeful.  This is where your leadership experience and resolve  can really shine – by staying strong, smiling often and authentically exhibiting a sense of compassion.
Leaders set the tone for the organization they serve.   A positive attitude can neutralize chaos and allow a leader to course correct through any negativity.    Employees feed off the attitude of these leaders during times of uncertainty.   Keep a positive mental attitude and never stop moving forward.  Stay focused on building positive momentum for the betterment of the healthier whole. 
4.  Remain Fearless

When leaders project confidence, they instill it in others.  During uncertain times, leaders must remain fearless and project a cool persona that communicates composure to those they lead.
I’ve been through ups and downs in my career and have learned that when you begin to fear adverse circumstances, you not only put yourself in a position of vulnerability, but it becomes extremely difficult to act rationally and objectively.    When you panic, you mentally freeze and your mind loses focus.
When you begin to get fearful, ask yourself:  What is the worst possible thing that can happen?  If you are objective about it and have the will and confidence to face it, you will eventually realize that the situation is manageable and can be resolved.  Faced with adversity several times over, your fears will eventually vanish and uncertainty will become your best friend.

5.  Respond Decisively
Leaders who maintain their composure will never show any signs of doubt.  They speak with conviction, confidence and authority – whether they know the answer  or not!  With their delivery alone,  they give their employees  a sense that everything is under control.
Recently, Mack Brown, the former coach of the University of Texas football team, was put under a lot of pressure to resign as a result of his team underperforming in 2013.  Though the University handled his forced resignation poorly  – considering Mr. Brown had coached the team successfully for the past 16 years – his decisiveness the day he announced his resignation made you feel that his transition out of the job was a positive thing for the university.  Human nature will tell you that he must have been hurting inside, but his decisiveness and presence of mind made those that were watching him speak believe that the future looked bright for UT football.

6.  Take Accountability
Leaders are most composed during times of crisis and change when they are fully committed to resolving the issue at hand.   When you are accountable, this means that you have made the decision to assume responsibility and take the required steps to problem solve before the situation gets out of hand.
When leaders assume accountability, they begin to neutralize the problem and place  the environment from which it sprung on pause

7.  Act Like You Have Been There Before
Great leaders know that one of the most effective ways to maintain composure during difficult times is to act like you have been there before.   Leaders that act to show they have been through the problem solving process numerous times before are those with strong executive presence who approach the matter at hand with a sense of elegance and grace.    They are patient, they are active listeners, and they will genuinely take a compassionate approach to ease the hardships that anyone else is experiencing.
Just ask any technical support representative.  When you are on the phone with them, their job is to make you feel that even your most difficult challenges can be easily resolved.     They are there to calm you down and give you hope that your problem will soon be solved.    Pay attention to their demeanor and how they are masters at soothing your frustrations.  They always act to show that they have been there before; their composure puts your mind at ease.
It’s easy to lose composure during times of crisis and change if you let concern turn into worry and worry turn into fear.  By maintaining composure, the best leaders remain calm, cool and in control – enabling them to step back, critically evaluate the cards that they have been dealt and face problems head-on.  A show of composure also puts those you lead at ease and creates a safe and secure workplace culture where no one need panic in the face of adversity.
As the saying goes, “Keep Calm and Carry On!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

8 Great Work Habits and How I Use Them

     This week, my main focus was on getting back to the basics. It turns out less really is more and when you're feeling robotic, it's best to go back to the foundations of what you learned on Day 1 of training.  We all spoke about the 8 Great Work Habits this week, including Top Account Manager, Mike Archa, and HR Department, Dena Shleifer and Doni Kalachi. We want to share with you what these habits are and how we implemented them into our daily routines.  
     Starting with the 1st work habit: 1. Have and maintain a positive attitude. A positive can-do attitude is critical for success. Think like a winner to be one. Enthusiasm and excitement attracts and engages other people- whether it’s a customer or a coach. Also, having and maintaining a positive attitude will help you take rejection in stride.  Positive people are more resilient, and able to problem solve when they’re faced with any obstacles. Needless to say, this is a controllable habit that seems very critical for success.
     Habit number 2 is Be on time.  Punctuality suggests reliability, dependability and trustworthiness. Easy ways to get in the habit of being on time is to start setting a routine.  Whether that routine includes picking out clothes the night before, or waking up without hitting snooze and begin a morning routine to start your day.  Successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs admitted to both wearing the same things every day in order to save time.  Think about that one!
     The 3rd habit is to be prepared.  Easy for someone like Dena, who often thinks of a zombie apocalypse situation, because she is always prepared! Planning ahead for obstacles or unusual situations can help you with confidence.  Keep in mind that hindsight is 20/20.  Use past mistakes as a way to learn and prepare yourself for another obstacle.  You can't control life, but you can adjust to it!
    Number 4 is working a full day.  To be an entrepreneur, you'll have to do things others won't in order to get what others can't.  You need to follow through with your goals no matter what obstacles you may face.  This goes hand-in-hand with habit number 5, work your territory correctly.  This habit ensures that you are not only working hard, but you are also working smart. You are keeping track of trends that work for you and ensuring that you hit your goal.
     The sixth habit is respecting the customer.  Now, on a daily basis we interact with different "customers."  This can be co-workers, managers, job seekers, businesses, customers, friends, and family.  Basically, anyone you meet- listen to them, be positive, and most importantly, be eager to help.  Focus on what they actually need by listening, and be enthusiastic. 
     The 7th habit is very important.  This habit is called Understanding your opportunity, and it involves figuring out WHY you are working so hard and aggressively towards a goal.  Once you understand your 'why,' it'll drive what you do, and how and why you do it. We are lucky enough to work in an opportunity business where opportunity is met by helping others.  The opportunities are limitless luckily, so it's up to you to work hard and understand what and why you're doing it.
     The 8th and final habit is taking control.  Now this can have many meanings: take control of your opportunity/future, take control of a challenging situation, or take control of a conversation.  This habit, combined with the other seven habits, will  lead you to having a successful day every day.  It's good to remember that it usually takes about 21 days to form a habit, so this is something you will need to commit to for the next three weeks and in turn, will have a lifetime of success.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What is "Movember?"

   Call it what you want: No-Shave November or Movember, people in our office are starting to look different.  The question I'm hearing from a lot of people is, WHY? Let's not forget that while Austin, TX boasts some of the best facial hair this country has ever seen, this month is all about raising awareness for men's health.

     To be more specific, Movember began in Australia in 2003 to raise awareness for testicular and prostate cancers.  Movember's U.S. Director says that, "We are all about the mustache and only the mustache.  What we're asking men to do is participate by changing their appearance. What that fosters is a conversation.  From there, men can explain why they're growing a mustache and start talking about men's health."

     Needless to say, this is a really important cause because it has the potential to bring a sensitive topic to the forefront of conversations.  Raising awareness for this cause has raised over $21 million as of 2013 and has helped change hundreds of thousands of lives.  This is a subject that hits home as my own grandfather has beaten prostate cancer.

     So what can you do to help? Visit http://us.movember.com to see how you can participate.  If you're feeling like you can't grow a mustache, you can still help out! After visiting the website, http://us.movember.com, I found out SO much information about Movember and the movement it has caused.  There are even ways that "Mo Sistas" can help out- that's for the ladies.  The site also has tips to groom the beard, and ways you can compete to raise the most money for the cause.  However you can help the cause, please do. It can save lives like my grandfather's and help keep your face warm!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Work. Play. Passion.

     This past weekend I was lucky enough to have been selected and treated to a trip in Nassau, Bahamas with some of the top Recruiters, Assistant Managers, Managers, and Consultants in our business.  More importantly, I was surrounded by some of the most motivated, resilient, intelligent, and hilarious people that I get to call some of my best friends. These last few days have been so fun, refreshing, and motivating.

     The Management Team including Neha, Austin, Jesse, Mike, Doni, and I got to head down to the Bahamas on Wednesday and Thursday and hang out with our friends by the pool and in the casino.  It was a fun night to be reunited with some of our friends from all over the country.  We got to see some Managing Partners from Washington D.C., Charlotte, Detroit, Denver, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Houston, San Antonio, and even our European expansion team got to be there!

     Friday morning was spent in a General Session where we learned more about the European expansion that is going on and I think it's safe to say I want to visit those offices someday. We also saw a promotion, learned more about how to help our Operation Smile mission trips, and got super motivated to help others reach their potential.  After the General Session, we broke out into lunches with our mentors and spoke about our current status, as well as visualizing our goals.  Our main theme was talking about what "winning big" meant to us.

     Personally, I felt like a trip to the Bahamas with my friends was "winning big," but I always want to win bigger.  I think it's important to never limit yourself and how much potential you can unleash. To me, this means I will continue to learn and transfer my knowledge to aid in the exponential growth of our organization.  Neha added, "If you think big, and figure out what you have to do to accomplish big success and break it down into small pieces and attack it one step at a time, then you will win big."

     This trip was not just all work and talking about our goals and planning how to attain them.  No, we had an extreme amount of fun.  While staying at The Atlantis, we experienced their huge aquarium, not-so-lazy river, pools, and of course the beach.  One of the most exciting things for me was going down a water slide that lands you into a tube going through a shark tank.  It was so cool! Doni adds, "What I absolutely loved about R&R was getting to be next to the beach, driving on the left side of the road, swimming with dolphins, and conquering the shark slide. It was definitely a huge check mark in the books to be so close to sharks."

     All in all, I'd say it was a very memorable vacation.  All of us feel very grateful that we got to experience such an awesome event with some amazing friends and co-workers.  Now it's time to get back to business and help people unleash their potential!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why You Should Start With WHY

Start with WHY

    How many of us go to work and feel like we are just going through the motions or wake up every day like Bill Murray in 'Groundhog Day?'  Great movie, but none of us want to waste our time doing a little thing called 'work' if it isn't fun or fulfilling. What do you do to make your job fun or fulfilling?  Better yet, let me ask you a deeper question; Do you know WHY you are doing what you do? 

     Simon Sinek, an author and motivational speaker, has published a couple of books and spoken on a few TED Talks about the "Golden Circle."  This sounds great, what is it?! Below is a picture of the "golden circle" and it's clear that the center circle is labeled, "Why" because this is were you need to start. Establish why you are working so hard and investing in a goal or future that you are years from living in.  He noticeably mentions that people don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. Have you ever realized that most people communicate by starting with what they are doing and then work towards the how, then the why. 

     Why does this order even matter? It turns out that different parts of our brain are engaged by certain parts of communication and information.  When we're talking about what we do, we're speaking to the rational and analytic part of the brain that is tied to language. However, when we are talking about our why or our how, we're communicating with feelings and dealing with human behaviors.  These are 'gut feelings' that have no capacity for language. 
     Think about companies like Disney or Apple, and people like Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Wright brothers. What do they all have in common? They start(ed) with why! Companies like Apple, communicate with their customers very clearly about their why. "Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. We challenge the status quo by making beautifully designed products that are simple to use."  It is that simple. Start with why and then move on to how and what.  
     I know my why and I have written out my personal mission statement. Once I had written that down, it became a lot easier to work everyday.  All of a sudden, there is a clear reason why I am working so hard, expending so much energy, and investing so much time into learning and communicating, and building relationships.  My why will never change, but I know that my role in how and what I do are up to me.  No matter where I go or what I do, my core values stay the same.   

To learn more about the "golden circle" from Simon Sinek, please watch this short video!