Why Challenging Your Thinking Brings Positive Change To Your Performance

WHERE THERE'S NO CHALLENGE THERE'S NO CHANGE

Invest the time to think about that statement. Think about the last time you allowed someone to challenge you. When was the last time you really allowed a fellow human being to challenge the core of your thinking, approach, awareness or understanding about a topic or idea?

If you haven’t, or you can’t remember when, there’s one simple question you need to ask yourself. Why? What’s holding you back?

Is it fear? Bias? Insecurity perhaps? Doubt? Even the most robust leader can shy away from challenge when it requires meaningful confrontation that is anything but comfortable. In order to allow challenge to bring change to our thinking, particularly challenge from others, we have to get really comfortable with challenging ourselves first.

THINK INTENTIONALLY

Back in May I wrote about intentional thinking. The essence of what I wrote can best be expressed in one thought regularly shared with me by my parents: “No problem can sustain the purposeful and intentional focus of your mind to think and reason through to a solution.” Expressed in a simpler way; never lose interest in thinking or in challenging your thinking to positively impact your performance. Driven to the bottom line - THINK.

Our heads are the land of a thousand ideas. Intentional thinking is about narrowing that field and bringing focus to our ideas. What is it for you? The one item, topic or idea that you really need to dial in on and invest the time to think about purposefully?

Beyond work I want to encourage you to think intentionally about all areas of your life. Areas that are of significant importance in both maximizing and optimizing your total performance. These are areas that are familiar and that we need to give significant attention to practically. You achieve great outcomes when you dedicate the time to think and impact areas like family, health, hobbies, beliefs, relationships and of course, work.

Outstanding performance generally has some catalyst that drives the advancement. Our intentional thinking about a specific area or topic can be our personal catalyst. When paired with reflection and action as bookends, we’re bringing positive change to our performance because we expand the view surrounding our decisions and choices.

Like many of the things we do, we tend to drive more energy towards the activities that we enjoy. Enjoyment is often driven when we focus on the positive rather than dwelling on the negative. While being realistic is important, let me encourage you to engage in thinking that is largely centered on the positive contributions you have the potential to make. Why? Because we drive more energy towards advancing what we value ahead of those things that we don’t.

As we continue forward with the Thoughtstarter Challenge, let me encourage you to focus on the following acronym as a helpful reminder of your ability to bring positive change to your performance.

The
Habit of
Intentionally evolving
Needed
Knowledge

Thoughtfully,
Brent

P.S. Have you joined the Thoughtstarter Challenge? If so, how are you sharing it? Let us know by including the hashtag #ThoughtstarterChallenge on your Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter posts.


America's Best First Job: How Your First Job Makes a Difference in Your Career Success

Think about a time when you were excited about doing something. A time when you were filled with anticipation and eagerness. You were so energized that you could hardly sleep the night before. Don’t limit yourself to thinking about a vacation, concert, sporting event or something connected with the family. Don’t restrict yourself to adulthood.

Think beyond the boundaries of now and the future. Instead think back in time. What comes to mind? Was it the first birthday party you can actually remember when you were allowed to invite your friends? Was it when you rode your two-wheel bike for the first time? Was it your first day of school? Was it when you first earned your driver’s license? Was it your first car?

Each of these, along with many more moments, make-up the memories of firsts. Nothing drives anticipation, eagerness and energy like firsts.

My first car was a 1973 lime green Caprice Classic. I paid $900 of my hard-earned money for that beauty. Looking back, the car was huge, and the color was obnoxious, but it was mine. I bought my first car using money I earned at my first job.

My first job was actually two first jobs. I worked at my mother’s flower shop through middle school and high school, and I also worked at McDonalds part-time several days a week. McDonalds was the classic first job experience that we can all connect with at some level. Eventually, because school was clearly established as my priority, working in my mom’s business became the only job I had.

I love to work... Did then and still do now. Looking back, I recognize five important and formative life-lessons learned compliments of my first job(s):

  1. Rejection was something I wasn’t willing to accept – Growing-up there were more people applying than jobs available. I had one objective in finding my first job and it could be summed up in the simple approach of apply and interview relentlessly. No was simply a reflection of the number of people an employer could choose from. It wasn’t personal and being told no, which happened with five different applications, was simply part of the process. I only needed one yes.
  2. Perseverance pays off - This was a numbers game to me. The more places I applied, the more opportunity I would have and the greater the likelihood that I would get a job. I picked places I wanted to work and had specific why’s for each. Job #1 was getting job number one. All I needed was a starting point and a consistent emphasis on the process would deliver the desired result.
  3. A sense of independence and freedom is important – I have always associated work with choice. Hard work is a choice and the freedom achieved is a reflection of that choice. This continues to be true for me today. The outcome is reflected in the reward and the reward has allowed a freedom either through financial gain or opportunity. My first car was the result of my first job and that definitely gave me independence and freedom.
  4. What you learn at one job helps shape your future career - A McDonald’s TV commercial states that as a company, they are committed to being America’s Best First Job. A proven track record connecting a diverse group of people in a diverse set of professions, all of whom had their first job at McDonalds, allows them to emphasize this commitment. What someone learns at McDonalds, or any other first job, will help shape the future course of their career. That was the case for me and this edition of Thoughtwave would support the impact of my first job(s). Worthy to note is that this shaping can be good or bad depending on the company, the leaders to whom we are exposed and the job itself.
  5. A variety of experiences expands understanding - Thinking beyond the boundaries of what we know begins with expanding our experiences beyond our preferences and comfort. McDonalds and working in my mom’s flower shop were two completely different jobs. Each offered me a set of experiences that helped expand my understanding of people, business, attitude and approach. That’s my short list. There is also a longer list of impacts. A broad set of experiences is the foundation that requires me to challenge myself in order to help challenge others to expand their view and maximize their capacity.

Consider these #Thoughtstarters as you reflect on your first job and what you learned.

  1. Why did you pick your first job? Did you find it or did it find you?
  2. What was the most important thing your first job taught you?
  3. What did your first job teach you that continues to influence your approach today?
  4. How did your first job contribute to the job/career you have today?

Always remember to think beyond boundaries,

Brent

P.S. I'd love to hear what you learned from your first job. Leave me a note in the comments.


My Communication Pet Peeves

Not long ago, I was talking to a good friend and colleague of mine. She and I share a particular pet peeve for the incorrect use of words. Our conversation was focused on a behavioral debrief that I had just completed for a client. At some point in the conversation, I said the following,

“Her behavioral adaption is causing her significant stress in the position.”

Did you catch it? It’s staring you right in the face. I committed one of my own communication pet peeves and my colleague called me on it.

“You lost me at adaption. That’s not a word and I didn’t hear one thing you said after that.” What? Wait.

“She’s right,” I thought to myself.

What I intended to say was “her behavioral adaptation is causing her significant stress in the position.” What I said was “her behavioral adaption is causing her significant stress in the position.”

It's hard to believe that two little letters in the form of “a” and “t” could cause somebody to completely disconnect from the message.

“Don’t let it get in the way of hearing what they’re saying. Concentrate. Don’t get distracted. Focus.”

This is what rolls through my head when something someone is doing gets in the way of me hearing what they’re trying to say. Why? Because each of us, all of us, have some pet peeve(s) that cause us to disconnect or disengage from a conversation. Maybe you can relate. When this happens, I’m no longer an active participant, I’m an ineffective listener.

This isn’t about me judging someone’s communication style. It’s about sharing the awareness and self-discipline I find myself needing when put in one of those “it’s not what you’re saying, it’s what you’re doing” moments.

My pet peeves aren’t your problem, they’re mine.

Communication is about so much more than words. I own my reaction and distraction connected with the actions of others. I know this and that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to deal with. If I’m being truthful, sometimes I’m a really sporadic listener. While I don’t like that tidbit of awareness, it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Frequently, I wonder why these pet peeves have such a negative impact on our ability to listen or communicate effectively. However, pet peeves are a two way street. I have mine and you have yours. Equally unique and equally irritating, these are nuances that do more to alienate than affiliate unless we identify them, understand them, and deal with them.

Found in many forms, identifying pet peeves is pretty easy. Just consider the physical or emotional reaction you have to something that someone is doing when they engage you in a conversation. If a pet peeve is present, I find myself getting tense or impatient. I can physically feel a change in my intent and approach. Sometimes I just get irritated internally. How about you?

Unless I tell you what they are, you don’t know my pet peeves. Once I’ve identified them, it’s my responsibility to understand them and deal with them. Imparting that on you means that I expect you to stop doing what irritates me simply because it irritates me. Very one sided.

On the flip side of that coin, if someone knows the things, beyond words, that get in the way of effective communication with you or me and they deliberately choose to do them, that says a lot about the value they place on the effectiveness of their communication, interaction and relationship with us.

So… here are my top three communication pet peeves.

  1. Mumbling - Enunciate your words so I can understand what the heck you saying.
  2. Focusing on something or someone else while talking to me - This doesn’t demonstrate good multi-tasking ability.
  3. Using words incorrectly - Your choice of words (COW) is critically important.

No one’s immune from falling victim to another person’s pet peeve(s); even when one of them is your own personal pet peeve.

In reality, it’s not really that tough to understand how something that a person finds especially annoying would cause them to disconnect or disengage from your message and communication. If you’d like to resolve your pet peeves, Inc published an excellent article on doing so a few years ago.

#Thoughtstarter

What are your communication pet peeves that cause you to disengage or disconnect? I’d love to hear about them. What story best illustrates your communication pet peeve(s) getting in the way of you being an effective listener.

Until Next Time,
Brent


Don't Let Your Thinking Become Reactionary

How often have you heard someone say after an emergency, “I didn’t even have time to think!” While they may not have taken time to think in the moment, chances are they had previously thought about what they might do if they found themselves in such a situation.

Do you know what you would do if you saw someone choking? What would you do if you saw a building on fire? What would you do if you witnessed a car accident?

What would you do if there was a crisis at work? A supplier doesn’t deliver on time? A materials order was shorted? A marketing piece is sent with a typo? A key player must unexpectedly take a leave of absence? The sale that was a sure thing isn’t any longer?

Planning forward is a positive approach

Being proactive is a skill that skilled business leaders possess. Proactivity is a combination of thinking and planning. Think about what possible issues may arise and plan what you will do should they occur.

Imagine the reaction of the person you work for when he/she comes to you with a crisis and you already have a well-thought-out action plan in mind?

There’s no doubt that a crisis requires urgency.

There’s also no doubt that you don’t want your thinking to become exclusively reactionary. In a crisis, the plan that was considered beforehand is the one that is valued, appreciated and rewarded. Pre-planning for a potential crisis is far more effective and efficient because it allows you to reach a solution that much quicker.

Recently, I hosted an Evolving Leaders Summit for 13 up-and-coming leaders. As we prepared for the event I noticed my assistant had packed paper plates, napkins, and utensils.

“Don’t the caterers provide all of this?” I asked.
“Yes,” she responded, “but I’ve planned enough events to know better.”

Fast forward to the day of the event… the caterer drops off all of the food, plates, and napkins, but no plasticware. Had my assistant not been proactive, our whole day’s schedule would have been off track while we waited for the caterer to return with utensils. Instead, we ate on time and our participants had no idea that we had just experienced what otherwise might have been a crisis.

Here are five #Thoughtstarters to help you initiate your proactivity:

  1. Who do I depend on to successfully complete my job?
  2. What would I do if they did not deliver as promised?
  3. What backup plans should I have in place?
  4. What issues have arisen in the past and how might they be avoided moving forward?

Until next week,
Brent


Think Intentionally

Life is often funny and amusing. The source of life’s hilarity is often found in the quips that my parents offered that I find myself reflecting on and using as a parent. Even more amusing to me is that I would use them as a topic for a blog post. You know the drill. Parents made no sense when we were kids and make all the sense in the world when we are adults. It’s a true circumstance of role reversal. My parents had a magnet on their refrigerator that highlighted their feelings about this switch. The magnet said “live long enough to avenge your children.”

Growing up, one of the things that my friends enjoyed most about my dad was his quick, albeit dry, wit. He was a master of sarcastic thoughts that would have my friends doubled over in laughter. A trait that he continues to possess today as he nears 80 years old. He was a teacher and this skill of sarcasm was a gift. One that I find much more humorous and entertaining today than I did as a teenager. It’s important to note that my dad was a science teacher and department chair in the high school that I went to so there was no lack of logic and material for him to grab onto that would hit home with my friends and me.

While humorous, these phrases, sayings or expressions usually had a very deliberate lesson or purpose. Looking back, four of my favorites were ones that dad would use when he felt as though I, or any of my friends, underperformed the thinking curve. They went something like this…

“Why don’t you use what’s between your ears before you open your mouth.”
“If you opened your mouth without thinking for my benefit, you can stop now.”
“Was the less than one second you took to think about what you just said really enough?”
“Why do you suppose God gave you a brain that sits between two ears?”  

Believe me when I tell you that this is only a sampling of the famous Patmosisms he would use on a regular basis. He has hundreds of these that he can unleash at any moment regarding a multitude of topics yet today. This is what makes my dad one of the wisest, funniest people I know.

If plagiarism is the greatest form of flattery, then my dad should feel mighty good about the impact, use and replication of his Patmosisms. 

Ready for one more…? Here goes. If you haven’t figured it out by now, my dad’s an intentional guy. Most often what he does is more deliberate and on purpose than spontaneous. (Thank goodness my mom has the spontaneous gene.) When it comes to thinking, dad doesn’t really value accidental. This one is far more logical and science oriented than it is dry and sarcastic. It’s one that he has encouraged me to remember and I would encourage you to consider as well.

“No problem can sustain the purposeful and intentional focus of your mind to think and reason through to a solution.” Expressed another way; never lose the interest to develop.

The
Habit of
Intentionally evolving
Needed
Knowledge

Until Next Week,
Brent


Q: What’s a favorite thought, barb or sarcastic comment you can remember your parent(s) using with you that you have found yourself using? I’d enjoy you sharing.


You're the Only you You've Got

You’re the only you you’ve got.

Does that statement sound affirming? Or is it distressing?

Each of us is the sum total of our experiences. They have the exponential potential to shape us and fuel our growth—or our fear. Engaging in experiences is a choice. That engagement offers up a relationship between risk and reward, between success and failure. Read more


Build Your Awareness, Build Your Network, Build Your Capacity

I’d like to introduce you to Michael Stull. Michael is the author of Dominate Your Day. 365 Daily Motivationals for Your Health and Inspiration.

Michael is a self-described speaker and presenter, wellness consultant, exercise physiologist, personal trainer, in-person and online health coach, strength and conditioning specialist, former collegiate basketball athlete, model and published author. Read more


Set Yourself up for Success

Starting this week and during the month of December, Thoughtwave will be coming to you in an abbreviated form. One idea, tip or trigger that helps you set yourself up for success.

As a part of setting myself up for success, this also allows me time to recharge the writing batteries as we head into January.Read more


7 Questions to Increase Your Awareness

The first step in defining your goals and strategies for the coming year is to have a complete awareness about your achievement, accomplishments and setbacks from this year.

Awareness begins with reflection and reflection begins with a series of questions that you ask yourself. It’s about being radically candid with yourself. Why? Because if you can’t develop that level of honesty with yourself, delusion would be the only thing leading you to believe that you’ll develop it with someone else.

Read more


New Plan November: 3 Steps to Get Ahead

At the end of every December, a new year comes around. And yet, each year end many people seem to be taken by complete surprise. It’s as if the new year is a totally random occurrence on their calendar.

Have you heard yourself say, “I can’t believe it’s November already” in the past week? November may have been a surprise, but there’s still time to capitalize on the second to last month of the year. It’s easy for busyness to get the best of us, but the best business is intentional. New Plan November is about being intentional in your business. Read more