The Waiting Game

When you find yourself waiting, what are you doing? Checking your phone? Tapping your foot? Pacing? Getting irritated?

What could you be doing instead?

I recently had a conversation with a friend who took her young daughter to the pediatrician. While in the waiting room, she handed her daughter a coloring book and some crayons. The receptionist said, “I think you’re the first parent I’ve seen in weeks not just hand a phone or tablet to their kid while they waited.”

Though we both celebrated the fact that we must be doing something right if others are noticing our actions, we also both admittedly became pretty judgmental: “what are these other parents even doing with their kids?” We listed out things that parents and kids could be doing together while waiting, like coloring, playing a game, telling a story, sharing a memory, inventing something or just talking about life, to name a few.

And that’s when it hit me. Though I may be good at inventing opportunities to keep my kids engaged, I’m the first to pull out my phone when I’m in a waiting room alone (pot, meet kettle). Whether it’s at a doctor’s office, waiting for my car getting serviced or something else, I’m quick to fill the void with something to distract me.

But choosing to zone out with my phone means I’m missing the opportunity to tune in to what’s going on around me. I could miss the opportunity to speak with the woman sitting next to me who has so much wisdom to share. I could miss the opportunity to learn about a deal or discount available if I opt in for a short, extra service while I’m already there with the car. I could miss the opportunity to share what I do as a life coach with someone who is looking for some guidance to figure out their next step in life.

Instead of thinking, “this is going to be such a waste of time,” consider asking yourself, “how can I use this opportunity to connect to those, and the world, around me?” Or even, “what am I not seeing that would be worth seeing?”

Take Action
Consider this quote from our Power Within email on September 23, 2019: Today, I will be humble enough to know I am not better than anyone else, and confident to know that I am just as good. We all have great value.

Instead of tuning out when you find yourself waiting, imagine what life could present to you if you choose to tune in. Try it. You never know who you could meet, what you may learn, or what opportunity awaits you. We all have great value if you use the waiting game as an opportunity to discover yourself and your world.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading The Post-It Note as a Mindfulness Tool

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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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I Don’t Know is Ok (right now)

By Kristin Allaben

At The Forte Factor, we talk a lot about the importance of knowing who you are to discover, develop and leverage your natural strengths, talents and passions to be able to align what you love to do with your world. This alignment can lead to greater happiness, greater fulfillment and a greater life.

It all starts when you see the importance and make the time to intentionally tune in to you and your world. This is how you find your fit.

But what if your best fit doesn’t make sense for you right now? What if your fit requires a time or financial investment you just don’t have? What if it requires a big change your family can’t support right now?

You can learn everything about yourself from the inside and out, recognizing your talents, passions and natural abilities, but that is only part of tuning in to you. You must also understand and recognize what is an idea vs. what is acceptable, especially if you are part of something larger, like a family, a relationship or previous commitment right now. That is a crucial component. You need to be able to accept what could be, and what is. What has to work now, and what is possible for the future.

I strongly believe this is part of understanding who you are because greater knowledge of your strengths and passions should be paired with the knowledge of context, especially of what limitations may exist. This isn’t to say the perfect fit for you will never be, it just means that it might not be right now.

To clarify, I’m not giving you a pass. This is by no means an excuse to just accept what is and wait for something better to come along. Saying I don’t know right now, or I can’t right now is truly being tuned in to your world. It is being realistic. Sometimes not knowing or not being able to make a change is the best it can be at the moment. How can you see this, accept it and still stay focused on better fit things that could be part of your future?

As you’re learning more about yourself, as you’re tuning in and listening to you and your world, remember to also listen to your inner voice, listen to what is, listen to what is true. Then tune in to the world to be fully present to what is going on. With this awareness, ask yourself what else could happen in the next moment to bring you closer to what fits you.

Sometimes not knowing what to do is just a way that shares with you that more information is needed. Use that message to dig deeper into your understanding of yourself and your world. Perhaps a different focus or different direction would suit you better.

Take Action

If you had the opportunity to take a big step toward better alignment with your passions and strengths in today’s world, would you do it? What would give you pause? What needs to happen to make your perfect fit your reality? What does the “right now” look like for you to say I know?

 

Consider reading Go Center Yourself

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Creating Goals: Start with “Be Better”

By Jay Forte

Now firmly in 2018, be honest: how did your new year start?  Are you achieving your goals? Do you find yourself presented with the opportunity to create new goals?

Regardless of how the almost two months have been, you still have 10 months to achieve whatever it is you’ve defined for 2018 to be successful. How? As Steven Covey shares in Habit 2 of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, ‘begin with the end in mind.’

Needless to say, the best place to start is to set an achievable goal. This helps you stay focused on where you are headed. Know how to measure your progress so each day is closing the gap from where you are to where you want to be.

And if that seems too much, and it is for a lot of people, then just consider approaching 2018 with the mantra, ‘Be Better.’ Look at the situations, events and circumstances in your work and life and ask, ‘what could I do to make this better?’

Tuning in more intentionally to your world and watching for opportunities to make things better can have a profound effect on you, your work and your surroundings.

Here are a few thoughts to help you focus on being better all year, every year.

  • Be better in your work – think creatively, efficiently and get the details right.
  • Be better in communicating – always add value, not just make noise.
  • Be better in managing your judgments and biases – create less challenge and conflict.
  • Be better with your teammates – how you support them in work and care about them as people.
  • Be better in your communities – how you give your time and effort to make your town, city or neighborhood a great place to live.
  • Be better with our planet – how you recycle, minimize your footprint and how you intentionally appreciate the natural beauty around us.
  • Be better in your relationships out of the office – how you connect, listen, share and support.
  • Be better to yourself – your self-talk, personal expectations and commitment to being your best in all you do.

You have control over how you approach each day. Commit to being better every day, in any way that you notice. Learn more. Be more responsive. Be more connected. Be more aware. Be tougher and more resilient. Be more creative. Be more present. Raise your game. Be better.

Become the person who inspires everyone around you to do the same.

 

Consider reading Create a Personal Report Card

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2017: What Worked, What Didn’t Work?

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

The end of another year has arrived. When you take the time to stop and assess 2017, what worked and what didn’t work? What does this tell you about how to proceed in 2018 to have a successful year?

When you take the time to tune in and notice what’s happening in your world, you give yourself information about your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Then, by assessing this information, you are better prepared to do more of what worked and to improve on what didn’t work.

Be aware that it’s habit to label events as good or bad, right or wrong, especially when we assess the past year. This can inhibit our ability to see the real information available to us because we get stuck in the emotions and feelings associated with each event. We lose what the event or moment can teach us.

Learning to focus on what worked and what didn’t work helps to direct your attention to productive information that you can use to better understand your world and make better decisions.

To get started, tune in to the key areas of your life, like work, relationships and finances, and create a sheet to summarize what worked and what didn’t work in each area. Ask yourself questions like:

  • In 2017, how well did I manage my money and spending?
  • In 2017, how successful were my personal relationships?
  • In 2017, how did my career progress?
  • In 2017, how well did I take care of myself / my health?
  • In 2017, what progress did I make in understanding my unique talents and abilities?

Be honest with yourself as you reflect and record your thoughts. What went according to plan, why and how can you do more of it in 2018? What didn’t go according to plan, why and how can you learn from it and improve in 2018?

Summarize what you notice without a right or wrong, good or bad judgment. Just gather information. Remember to look at life’s events as productive and unproductive. This information is like gold – it guides you in what to consider going forward.

So, as 2017 comes to an end, stop, notice and reflect on what worked and didn’t work. From that information, consider how you can do more of what worked and how you can improve or address what didn’t work. You now have a starting point to make a remarkable 2018.

Wishing you a most successful personal and professional new year.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. How will you make time to review 2017 to learn from your successes and challenges?
  2. How will you stop labeling things as good or bad, and shift to what worked and what didn’t work?
  3. How will you let the information you learn about 2017 better prepare you to make wise decisions in 2018?

 

Consider reading What Will You Do To Make Your Year Amazing?

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What is A Good Day For You?

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

Most of our todays look a lot like our yesterdays. Every morning, we launch right into habit mode and are surprised that the days seem to blend one into another. Nothing remarkable. Nothing amazing.

I believe that’s because we haven’t decided how our day will go. That’s right. You have a say in how your day unfolds. Sure, you can’t control every event throughout the day, but with a little intention, you can direct your responses and energy to make the things you want to see or experience actually happen.

It all starts with defining what a good day is for you. Most of us never reflect on this. In fact, too many of us let the world tell us what a good day means. Remember, you decide; what defines a good day for YOU and how can you make more intentional decisions to have a good day?

Here are two examples to think about.

Let’s say you define a good day as one where your family gets along. Already having this mindset helps you tune in to your family differently. You can share this request with others, manage your own emotions and influence how your family interacts. Without the intention, things are the way they always are.

Let’s say a good day for you is when you get personalized feedback from your manager, so you’re inspired to reach out to your manager to share that feedback is important to you. Or, because you’re more tuned in to this, you provide personalized feedback with your teammates, which activates the same response in your manager. Without the intention, things are the way they always are.

A good day for me includes having time to write. Sure, there are things I have to do, but I know I can define a day as remarkable when I make time to write to share thoughts about living our strengths and creating a life we love. Making time to write makes a big difference for me; I feel so much more alive, more grateful and more connected when I write.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What is a good day for you?
  2. What would remind you that each day is yours to define as either remarkable or unremarkable?
  3. What stops you from clearly identifying what you want to see, experience or achieve in your day?

It isn’t the number of days that matter, it’s the quality of the days. To create quality days, take the time to reflect on what makes a good day for you. Then, with greater clarity and intention, be determined to make it happen.

 

Need help getting focused? Consider talking with a coach to help you learn how to say what you want in life and how to go get it.

 

Consider reading Energy Level: Somewhere around a Zero

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