Current Strengths and Future Potential

When you really stop and notice, you can discover things about yourself that you would have otherwise missed. Consider the strengths you become aware of and tune in to. These are the key to activating your potential.

But what, exactly, is potential?

I believe your potential is what you are capable of doing, being or contributing. Perhaps ironically, most of us have never been introduced to our potential for a number of reasons. It could be because of overly supportive parents who created an easy road and life for us. It could be a micromanaging boss who told you what to do and how to do it. It could be a school system that moved you only as far as the middle of the pack because it is easier to provide the same education to everyone delivered in the same way.

In each of these situations, we were not introduced to or able to develop our strengths, to see what we came equipped with and are made of. We can’t see this until we have a chance to use it.

This is your wake-up call, to seek and act on your true potential. After all, we can’t change and improve things if we first can’t see what is happening. So many of us don’t know how capable we are because we haven’t developed our self-awareness and self-belief. The result is that we have learned we can just get by instead of making a profound difference.

Though it is certainly easier to blame our environments, the process of developing into our greatest selves is our personal work to do. It’s not the responsibility of your parents, boss or the school system. It is up to each of us to spend time knowing ourselves so we can discover what unique abilities we were born with, then constantly work to discover how to bring those abilities to our lives and our world. This is the process of potential.

No one was born with an owner’s manual that summarizes our abilities. We learn them as we live and as we make time to discover them. Once discovered, it’s up to you to develop your abilities to create your strengths. Then, with this knowledge, you have the ability to bring these strengths into your day in a managed and intentional way. This is how you achieve your potential.

Take Action
Information is key to understanding yourself. If you are not aware of your strengths, consider taking an online assessment, work with a coach or carve out some quiet time to reflect on these questions:

  • What am I really good at?
  • What do I love to do?
  • How can I use this to reach my potential?

Use your strengths – they are your key to being remarkable.   

Know your best, bring your best, do great things. This is how to build a great life and a great world.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Don’t Do Average, Make it an Experience

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You Know You’re a Great Leader When You Do These Things

In the industrial age, we prided our leaders on being direct, assertive and knowing all the answers. We needed them to be a strong central figure to help direct and orchestrate work, manage people and make things happen. When the workplace remained fairly static in what work was and how it was done, it was not only easier to accomplish, but also praised and, to an extent, appreciated.

But then the workplace changed. Much of the make-things economy moved offshore, leaving us with today’s provide-service workplace. Every employee has the opportunity to directly interact with customers. This, combined with the fact that few workplace situations are the same day-to-day, changes not only what we do for work, but also how we work and how we lead those who work.

As a result, today’s workplace needs a new type of leader, one who is a good listener but also able to take charge. One who earns respect and loyalty from their employees and still drives results. One who can admit to not knowing everything, or to admit when they’re wrong, and use the wisdom of others to make wise, sound decisions.

To be an effective leader in today’s workplace, four attributes are required:

1. Today’s best leaders are humble. They are aware that they don’t know everything and are firm believers in the mantra, “none of us is as smart as all of us.” They facilitate open discussions and dialog to gather information to be able to fully understand situations, aware that they are no longer expected to have all the answers. Instead, their role is to direct their employees in how to find, gather or create the information. They leave their ego at the door, allowing them to more confidently connect and interact with anyone in or out of the business. They are more interested in having things done well and done right than being the one to have the answer. They know their role is to facilitate the creation and implementation of the best ideas.

2. Today’s best leaders are curious. Great leaders are masters at asking questions. They are interested in knowing what others think, consider, do and want. They know that the responses provide meaningful information that will help them make wise and more successful decisions. They have trained themselves to stop telling and do more asking. This approach has a significant impact on those around them. Others feel engaged, encouraged and empowered to share, think and contribute.

3. Today’s best leaders care deeply about their people. They know that despite the critical role the performance numbers play, the way to achieve results is through their people. They build honest, authentic and caring relationships not just to get their people to do things, but because they truly care about everyone in their organization. It is obvious when a leader truly cares vs. cares to get a result. Caring leaders inspire employee loyalty.

4. Today’s best leaders commit to helping everyone grow, learn and improve. In a world that constantly changes, those with the best skills have the best ability to contribute and build sustainable careers. Today’s leaders have expectations of their people to constantly look at their work and lives and ask the question, “what could I do to make this better?” This focus on gradual and continual improvement helps their people discover, develop and live their potential, leading to more engaged and successful employees, and an improved organization.

Take Action
As the world and workplace changes, so do the attributes of effective leaders. Stay tuned in, focused and aware of the changes to modify your style to stay effective and relevant. Your people expect it. Your organization relies on it. Your customers depend on it.

Original article appeared on The Ladders, October 7, 2019.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading 3 Things Every Manager Can Do to Increase Employee Engagement

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Your Badge of Honor

“Wear it like a badge of honor.”

I think we’ve all heard that phrase before, and though it has a well-intentioned purpose, I recently realized that in my experience, it’s most frequently used as a back-handed compliment. This phrase is almost always used in context with something bad or frowned upon in reference to something that has happened to you or about something that someone doesn’t like about you.

For me, it was my Resting Bitch Face (RBF).

I was told a variety of things about my RBF over the years. For some, it was too intense, not welcoming, not professional. I needed to make an effort to change it. It was prohibiting me from doing and being part of something bigger and better. “I guess you could wear it as a badge of honor since you seem to embrace it.”

For others, I was told to wear it like a badge of honor because no one would approach me unless I wanted them to. No one would dare cross me, especially my children. No one would know I was a nice person unless I wanted them to. “Wear it like a badge of honor! You’re certainly not going to be able to change it.”

So, I took all of these comments to heart and wore that RBF as my badge of honor. I allowed it to essentially define me in many situations. I actually developed pride in my RBF. After all, it is a badge I wear.

However, more recently, I realized that my RBF is more than just a catch phrase that I proudly carried. There is actually value in knowing when and how to use this resource. It becomes something I can turn up or turn down, like a dimmer switch, just like the strengths and liabilities we coach our clients on.

Sometimes, you need to turn down a strength that might be too much for a specific situation to get to the desired outcome. Sometimes, you need to turn up one of your liabilities to leverage an attribute that might be best used in a specific situation, even if it pushes you out of your comfort zone to do it. As my colleague Jay Forte says, our strengths and liabilities should not be on an on-off switch – they should be on a dimmer. And knowing when to dial it up or dial it back is about self-awareness and self-management.

Yes, a RBF may be a bit much when you’re meeting a new client or having a conversation with your child’s teacher. But, RBF may be just right when you’re walking alone, in the midst of reprimanding your child(ren) or getting into an Uber ride. Being aware of the right time and place for the RBF to be turned up or turned down is what allows me to wear it as a badge of honor.

One question we encourage our clients to think about when they’re learning how to be self-managed is to ask, “Who do I need to be in this moment to get to the desired outcome?” It shines some light on their strengths and liabilities to determine what needs to be turned up and what needs to be turned down.

So, are you using your unmanaged strengths or liabilities as a badge of honor, saying this is just who you are (direct, goal-oriented, competitive, nurturing) or who you are not (direct, goal-oriented, competitive or friendly)? The words don’t matter as much as how tightly you hold on to them and use them or ignore them without management.

Remember: you can’t manage what you don’t know exists. Take the time to get to know your strengths and liabilities and learn how to turn them up or down depending on what the situation calls for. It will make a big difference in how you approach your life both at work and at home, and the relationships around you.

Take Action
Reflect on a situation when you may have allowed your strengths to overpower a situation – or a liability to under deliver in a situation. How could the outcome have been different? How do you let your badge of honor go in favor of a wise and intentional decision?

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading I Don’t Believe in an Identity Crisis

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Are You Above or Below the Line?

How do you determine whether a behavior is productive or unproductive? Do you solely consider outcomes or is there more to it? It can be tricky since everyone can interpret this differently. But I came across one of the best ways to learn to assess our behaviors as being productive or unproductive, one I think could be used by anyone in any situation in work or in life. In the book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, authors Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and Kaley Warner Klemp introduce what they call above-the-line and below-the-line leadership.

Powerful.

When you are open, curious and willing to learn, you create the ability to discuss ideas, brainstorm, consider and expand your opportunities. You increase discussion, dialog and conversation.

  • In the workplace, you engage your employees and help them to feel heard, valued and accountable.
  • At home (above-the-line parenting), you encourage your kids to self-discover, learn and grow.

You create the space for exploration with the intention of considering or finding the best outcomes. You allow both employees and kids to learn how to navigate, think and invent.

When you are closed, defensive and needing to be right, you shut down conversation, limit ideas and shortchange opportunities. You limit your responses to what you know and make the process of solution to be more about personalities and ego than finding optimal solutions. The need to be right overrides the ability to learn in every situation.

Think of what it feels like to work for a below-the-line manager. What level of engagement, performance and loyalty does this inspire in employees? Remember the adage, “people quit people before they quit companies.” Leaders who are below-the-line often chase talent out of the organization, frequently unintentionally; they are unaware of the time they spend below the line. Who wants to work for someone who is closed, defensive and always needing to be right? Is this you?

Think of what it feels like to live with a below-the-line parent. My way or the highway. Discussions are limited. Opportunities to grow into one’s greatest self are restricted. Kids don’t learn who they are but are instead expected to be who their parents say they are. What kind of relationship can you have with a parent who is closed, defensive and needing to be right instead of open, curious and willing to learn?

Which are you?

Take Action
What percentage of the time are you above-the-line? Below-the-line? What situations raise you above or take you below?

Now that you know this, how will you focus on being more open, curious and willing to learn instead of being closed, defensive and needing to be right? And, what could your work and life look like when you make the change?

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Be Clear if you Want Employees to Perform

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This article originally appeared on the Vistage Entrepreneur and Small Business Network on September 18, 2019: https://my.vistage.com/networks/entrepreneurs_and_small_business/blog/2019/09/18/are-you-above-or-below-the-line.

Pay Attention

As a Mom, I feel like I’m always saying “pay attention!” With two toddlers who were born into a family that I swear is genetically predisposed to always knock things over, trip, whack our heads/elbows/knees on anything we walk by and just generally prove to the world that we fully comprehend what “klutz” means, “pay attention” is one of my go-to phrases.

I was thinking about this a lot over this past weekend, in particular. In addition to the normal reminders to pay attention as my almost 2-year old tried to step off a stool that was much higher than he realized and my 3-year old marched confidently into a parking lot without looking both ways, there were a few other moments. In fact, a few big things happened and honestly? None of it was a surprise.

I admit that I had a hard time wrapping my head around how such big news could have such little impact on me. Why didn’t I feel more upset? More hurt? More angry? More frustrated? More stressed?

That’s when I realized: it’s because I’m paying attention.

My 3-year old’s tantrums and selective hearing? It’s a developmental leap.

My husband’s grumpy behavior? He’s overtired as he approaches the end of his most recent busy season.

Another issue with the house? That’s just what comes with home ownership.

Gaining greater awareness is more than being aware of what you’re thinking and feeling. It’s about being both self- and world- aware, of watching and paying attention to what’s happening around you. It’s about being aware of what’s happening in yourself and in others. It’s being cognizant of changes.

When you learn how to be aware, you open yourself to getting more information about any situation. With greater information, you create the ability to use that information to make wiser, more intentional decisions. You create the ability to respond instead of react. The same stuff still happens, but now you are different and calmer when it happens.

So when you learn to stop and notice, then choose your response with intention, fewer things can rattle you and, as a result, you improve your responses.

Take Action
We often encourage our clients to start their self-discovery work by learning how to tune in to themselves. Once they’ve achieved this step, we move on to world-awareness, of paying attention to what’s happening around us. Take 10 minutes today to just observe. Observe you: your feelings, thoughts and actions. Observe your world: what is going on around you. Then take a moment to ask yourself, how can you bring your best to the situations, events and people in your world?

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Unhinged – How Do You Act When Things Don’t Go Your Way?

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Finding Your Fit: Don’t Forget You

The Forte Factor is focused on helping our clients discover, develop and live their strengths. This means equipping them with knowledge and tools to help them make informed decisions about what is the right fit for them. To do so requires intentional learning – learning who you are, understanding your strengths and passions and recognizing your liabilities. Having a better understanding of each of these pieces gives you the opportunity to get a more complete picture of yourself.

When you truly know who you are, what gets you excited, what you shy away from, what fires you up – that’s when you are fully capable of identifying the right fit for you in work and life. You’re better able to define happiness and success and work toward achieving it.

Kristin Allaben, Certified Greatness Zone Coach and COO, The Forte Factor

Kristin Allaben is an example of this approach to finding her fit. You may know her as a Certified Greatness Zone Coach and COO of The Forte Factor, but she followed an interesting path to get here.

Q: What did you go to school for?

I went to Bentley University and got my degree in Information Design and Corporate Communication with a minor in Psychology. I absolutely loved every class I took specific to my major and minor. I always looked forward to class, and never thought of homework or projects as work. I knew this is what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know what it could look like for a career until I stumbled on a PR internship and fell in love with the industry.

Q: What did you love about it?

The fast-paced days. The need to always be on and capable of thinking creatively and strategically. The need to be able to do things quickly and efficiently, to shift gears at a moment’s notice, if needed. The importance of being organized to ensure things always ran smoothly.

Q: What made you leave?

I worked at Schwartz Communications for the better part of my career and absolutely loved every moment of it. Sure, there were hard days – I certainly won’t pretend that’s not the case, just like at any job – but I was passionate about the work and was lucky enough to be able to take advantage of a number of opportunities there. I moved to a different agency shortly after the company was acquired and started to think about the future, beyond promotions and career status. My husband and I just bought a house and we were thinking family, dog, etc. I started to think the demanding role I was so passionate about might not allow for the future I had envisioned. So, I considered other options, including how I could keep doing PR but on a less demanding schedule. I took a job doing in-house PR, working for one company instead of managing multiple client engagements at a firm. It was perhaps the best move I made because it was most definitely a bad fit situation. It forced me to reflect on what it was that I loved about the PR world, and if it was something I really wanted to keep doing.

Q: How did you decide what to do next?

Believe it or not, I actually turned to The Forte Factor and took the Talent Assessment. I felt like I had been so focused on moving my career forward that I needed to reconnect with myself, to be sure I was staying true to what I really loved to do and what I was really good at. That last part played a big role in every decision I made from that point forward. I had forgotten to combine what I loved to do with what I was good at.

Q: When did you discover that your calling was doing something else? What did you do about it?

The work I did to reflect and reintroduce myself to me helped me realize something big. One of my greatest strengths is organization. Working in the PR world, organization was critical to ensure clients showed up to where they needed to be on time, and that you never forgot the key details from any conversation you had, among other things. But often, my organization became a joke. I was often told that my need to keep things organized kept me too bogged down, preventing me from being truly strategic or creative, and that it would hinder my opportunity to grow any further. And that’s when I realized that I needed to find something that combined my talents (being organized, being focused) with my passion (helping people, communication, telling stories).

And that’s when I discovered being a Coach was the right fit for me. This, combined with my role as the COO at The Forte Factor, brings together so many of my strengths, talents and passions.

Q: Who are your role models?

I have a variety of role models for different reasons. Though I know it’s cliché to highlight my parents as role models, they really are. My Mom is a huge role model; she raised my sisters and me as a single mother and somehow we all made it out alive (and each of us credit her for the independent women we have become). I look at my Dad as a role model who bravely followed his true self and made big decisions to be happy in work and life. I see my kids as role models because they remind me that feeling every emotion is ok and good, and they remind me that life goes by too fast to worry about the small things (all the time). And my husband because he consistently amazes me with the ability to balance an extremely high-demanding and stressful job with being an amazing husband and father, and making it look easy.

Q: What is one thing you are still working on that you know you can do better?

I’m quick to judge and quick to react. I’m working hard to remember to respond instead of react, and I’ll be the first to admit it’s a work in progress! Some days, it comes much easier than others.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who may not feel like they’re in the right fit job or position in life? What can they do to find their right fit?

Take some time to get to know you. Reflect on the things that are working right now and the things that aren’t. Are there areas where you feel stuck? Why do you feel that way? Are there areas where you are genuinely happy? Why? Reintroduce yourself to you. You’ll be amazed what you can uncover.

Could you benefit from some life coaching? Contact us to get started with a free, 15-minute introductory call.

Consider reading Are You The Great Pretender?

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When Too Much is Just Too Much

Overwhelmed. Stressed. Reaching your limit. Frustrated. About to explode. Need a break.

Sound familiar?

I’ll be honest: last week was not a great week for me. Every day, I found myself adding more items to my task list than I was crossing off, and each item seemed more challenging than the rest. It could have been because of the sheer magnitude of my growing list. It could have been because of how little was actually in my control. It could be that I only have so many waking hours to tackle these tasks.

By the end of the week, I felt extremely deflated. I felt like I brought by B-game to all of my tasks, whether it was at work, at home, to my kids, to my husband.

I was overwhelmed. I was tired. I was frustrated.

I felt like this was a good learning experience to share with you. Remember this: feeling these things is not right or wrong, good or bad. You’re allowed to feel and experience every emotion. One of my favorite things Jay says is that “it’s ok to visit these feelings, but don’t move in.”

You’re human and sometimes, life can present you with a slew of challenges that you’re not mentally ready to solve or handle. You can feel overwhelmed. You can feel angry. You can feel sad.

But like Jay says, visit but don’t move in. Let yourself feel and experience the emotion. Venting is not solving, but let yourself vent for a moment and set a timer for yourself if you think you need the extra reminder to stop after, say, 5 minutes. Vent, scream, cry, swear – do whatever you need to do in those 5 minutes. But when the timer goes off, no more venting. It’s time to solve. Refocus. Shift your energy and take control of what you can control.

In fact, all of the experiences of last week served as a good reminder for me to check-in with myself about not only my strengths and talents, but also my triggers and limits.

At 30-weeks pregnant in the thick of the summer with two toddlers who like to test their limits, my fuse is a little shorter (though I would like it to be different, for now it just isn’t). What I can realistically accomplish during the waking hours of the day isn’t the same as what it was even four weeks ago. The workouts and sleep patterns I was previously able to hold myself accountable to are no longer feasible. There. I said it out loud.

This was my stop and notice moment. This is when I realized that the reason I felt overwhelmed, tired and frustrated for most of the previous week was because I hit my task threshold long before I realized I did.

Your task threshold is what you can realistically achieve based on who you are in this exact moment and in this exact situation. It changes because you change and your situations change. One week, you may find yourself able to tackle significant items without batting an eye. Another week, you may find yourself saying “no” more than “yes” to keep your task threshold to the smallest number of items as possible.

When you are aware enough to notice when you need to adjust your task threshold to ensure your mental well-being, you’ll find you don’t spend as much time feeling frustrated, angry and sad, because you understand how to be in this moment. You can therefore move to a higher and more productive energy level.

Take Action
Remember to check-in with yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed, tired or stressed. Sometimes it is just you. Sometimes you are over-committed – you’ve hit your task threshold without realizing it. Be committed to your own mental well-being by checking in and being kind with yourself. Remember, experiencing your emotions is great. Just limit how much time you spend with the negative emotions. They can wear you out and help you miss the many great things going on in this moment of life.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading When “I Quit” is the Best Thing to Do

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Life would be easier if…

Have you ever thought to yourself, “life would just be so much easier if [insert event, complication, person, etc.] weren’t around?”

But would it? What would life be like without person/event/complication? In most situations, those very obstacles make us the people we are capable of being. The real trick is learning how to be more present in those moments to judge them less and understand them more, to respond and not react. Consider the person who regrets something they’ve said as soon as the words leave their mouth. Reaction. Consider the person who hits instead of talks. Reaction.

Now consider the consequences of those actions.

But what if instead of reacting, of saying something you didn’t mean or doing something you didn’t mean to do, you let yourself take a moment to observe, consider the information available and choose how to use what you now know to respond with intention?

Consider the person who thinks about what they want to say before they say it, letting them process the real message they want to share. Response. Consider the person who thinks about being physical before actually hitting someone, and instead uses words or chooses another action, like walking away. Response. 

We talk a lot about responding vs. reacting because it requires significant self-awareness to act with intention. Reacting is programmed in our heads; it is part of our fight, flight or freeze survival instinct. Sometimes, it’s what is needed to keep us safe. But in most cases, responding, or acting with intention, provides a more successful outcome. Think about a difficult situation you were faced with. Consider your actions:

  • Did you respond?– You see where you are and you see where you want to be. You start to consider how to close the gap between the two to get to your desired outcome.
  • Did you react? – You see where you are. You ruminate on what has happened, unable to look ahead or gain control of your emotions, making it hard to take thoughtful actions toward achieving what you want.

I recently came across a great reminder about the power of looking forward: “There’s a reason the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror; where you’re going is so much better then where you’ve been.”

Take Action
If you find yourself wondering what life could or would have been like, take a moment to stop and notice what’s happening around you and to reflect on your reaction. What situation caused you to think of what could have been? Is it fact or is it something you believe to be true?

Instead of saying “what could have been,” how can you change the question to an actionable statement: “I wonder what would be if I…”

See things clearly. Choose wisely.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading That’s Life

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Managers: How to Identify and Correct your Blind Spots

You are a great manager, at least most of the time. But like every other human, some of your behaviors are actually unproductive. This holds significant unintended consequences for a manager. For example, being unaware of an unproductive behavior can lead to disengaged employees, lost opportunities or missed results.

These unproductive behaviors are your blind spots.

So, how do you see what gets in your way (your blind spots) and, more importantly, how do you correct them?

We are creatures of habit, and we are all pretty mindless. This is not a criticism or judgment; it is an observation. We do so much in our day out of habit that we are not mindful and intentional in some of our choices and actions. And the more mindless we are, the more our unproductive behaviors (blind spots) show up in our days, negatively affecting our results.

A blind spot for a manager could be any of the following:

  • Always telling employees what to do instead of asking, guiding and supporting.
  • Watching for what’s not working with employees instead of what is working.
  • Being cheap with praise for work well done.
  • Being overly compassionate where others don’t see you as a leader, or overly dogmatic where others don’t want to work with you.
  • Holding others to behaviors that you don’t maintain for yourself.
  • Communicating in one method with everyone, regardless of its ineffectiveness.
  • Fear of confrontation or conflict.
  • Arrogance and disconnection from others.

Since blind spots are unproductive behaviors that you cannot see, the first step to improving your performance is to identify your blind spots so you can work on them. To do this requires intentional and focused work on yourself to increase your self-awareness.

Here are two things you can do now to identify your blind spots.

  • Self-evaluation. Make time without any interruptions. Focus on how you manage others and your work. To summarize what you notice, draw a line down the middle of a page. The left column is for you to summarize what works in the way you manage. The right column is for you to summarize what doesn’t work in the way you manage. The list of what’s not working will help you see your blind spots.
  • Ask others. Using the same what works and what doesn’t work format, ask several of your peers, direct reports or others to honestly share their perspectives. With their results, simply ask what the results share about your habits. Highlight any needing attention.

Being aware of your blind spots is good. It provides you with the information you need to improve on what’s not working in your management style. To make those improvements, consider how you can mindfully address and correct a blind spot. Consider these two ways to act on your intention to make improvements.

  • Rank your unproductive behaviors as most urgent / important to correct to the least urgent / important. With this awareness, consider ways to improve it. Work with a peer, your manager or with a coach to brainstorm ways to make improvements. From the list of ideas, select the best idea(s) and build and implement a plan to improve. Ensure your plan includes improvement metrics. You must be able to see and measure progress to eliminate the blind spot.
  • Engage an accountability partner. We all know we have things to work on to improve our performance, but we don’t do them. This is why some people go to a gym instead of working out at home, or walk with a friend instead of walking alone. We frequently need to be accountable to another to keep us on track. Identify a peer, colleague or coach who can help you stay on track by regular check-ins as well as monitoring progress.

We are all human. We each have habits that get in the way of what we want to achieve. This is particularly obvious when we manage others. Tune in to identify your blind spots. Build and implement a plan, and work with a partner to make improvements. For every blind spot you eliminate, you improve your impact and performance.

Take Action
Take 10 minutes today to ask yourself – honestly – what’s working and not working in the way you manage others. What do you need to see in your approach that you are not currently seeing? Then ask a colleague to give you honest and productive feedback. Uncover your blind spots so you can shine light on them to correct them.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading 3 Reasons Why Your Best Employees Will Leave You in 2019 (and What to Do About it)

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Be On the Disengagement Hunt

There are things in your workplace and life that disengage the people around you.

It could be meetings that run long, have no agenda and don’t seem to get things accomplished. Or working for a manager who has never learned how to be self-managed so they make everything urgent and operate in react mode.

It could be outdated household rules that used to make sense but now don’t. Or it could be conflict between two siblings who just haven’t learned how to respect and honor the feelings of each other.

Regardless, there are things in our days that make work and life disengaging, things that take the wind out of us, tax our energy, challenge our emotions and encourage a feeling to either do just enough or to check out.

Can you think of one of these going on right now?

In these situations, work and life don’t seem either great or productive.

What to do?

Amp up your vision and become more intentionally aware of those things that you and others say and do that deactivate, depress or stress others. Pay attention on purpose to not only what is said and done but how it happens. These moments have information for you from which you can start to make small changes that result in raising the energy and engagement in your situations.

It could be something as seemingly small as saying a positive comment to a coworker on their way into a meeting. It could be sharing how to have a productive argument with your two teens so they learn how to solve problems instead of just aggravating each other. It could be being aware and mindful enough to not say that sarcastic or biting comment because you know the effect it will have on the recipient.

Ask yourself: are you watching, considering and choosing (on purpose) what and how you do things to raise the engagement and make the outcome better?

Take Action
Place a Post-It note in a place you will see it frequently with a message like “make things better” or “engage don’t disengage.” Create whatever word or phrase will remind you to watch for the events, circumstances and things that disengage the people around you, then choose to change what and how you do things to change the mood, energy and engagement level. The change will impress you.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Thank You For What Didn’t Happen

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