Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy

In Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy suggest that we define a plan for our lives. They introduce us to the concept of Life Planning and show us how to implement the process.

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What is a Life Plan?

According to Hyatt and Harkavy, “A Life Plan is a short written document, usually five to fifteen pages long“. The Life Plan is personal, describes your priorities, the steps to reach your goals and the legacy you want to leave.

It is a life long process, that can continually be adjusted and improved. A Life Plan doesn’t shield you from life challenges and failures. Instead, it will help you create intention for your life.

It is common to have a career plan but no Life Plan. The Life Plan enables you to:

  • Set priorities and stick to them.
  • Stop sacrificing yourself, to stop trading health and time for work, career advancement, accolades or money.
  • Filter out opportunities. As you get older and as you get experiences, opportunity coming your way will multiply. It is therefore important to know where your priorities lie and what opportunity to choose.
  • Avoid distractions, confront and deal with reality.
  • Avoid the feeling of being stuck and allow you to keep your eyes on the future.
  • Avoid regrets and increase your level of control.

The drift and its consequences

Most people drift away from their dreams because:

  • They are unaware that their ideas and assumptions are inaccurate and harmful.
  • There is a discrepancy between their beliefs and reality.
  • They are distracted, are spread too thin or too busy to focus on their lives and to start prioritizing.
  • They don’t understand that there is hope, that they can change and that they have more control over their lives than they think.

When you drift away from your dreams and when you don’t have a Life Plan, you tend to:

  • Lack meaning and purpose.
  • Waste your time and other valuable resources on meaningless tasks.
  • Lose opportunities and their sense of urgency. People who drift away procrastinate and are unable to discern a good opportunity from a bad.
  • Experience trouble more intensely because they are unprepared.
  • Take a passive approach to life, shift blame and live in regrets.

Designing and implementing your Life Plan

To design your Life Plan, it is necessary to outline your legacy, to set your priorities, get clarity on your objectives and to reserve one day to build your Life Plan.

Outlining your legacy

To design your Life Plan, keep in mind that everybody leaves a legacy, face your mortality and begin with the end in mind. It is critical to write your Life Plan like you are writing your eulogy, to imagine how you want others to remember you and to stay committed to the process.

Setting your priorities

Getting more clarity on your objectives will definitely increase your commitment. To do so, you must steer clear from external expectations and do what is right for you.

Getting clarity on objectives

  • Identify your purpose.
  • Project yourself into the future, picture yourself in it and imagine all the different positive outcomes. To make your vision much more compelling, write down in the present tense what you hear, feel, see, smell and taste.
  • Find and apply a quote that inspires you.
  • Make an honest assessment of your current progress.
  • Commit to specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bond goals.

Devote one day to your Life Plan

Hyatt & Harkavy recommend that you schedule one day to create your Life Plan. Needless to say, the Life plan should be implemented starting the next day.

It is necessary to allow yourself to dream, to not expect perfection and to not get distracted.

Implement your plan

Implementing the Life Plan is the most challenging part. It is necessary to:

  • Include your Life Plan in your everyday routine.
  • Fight the feeling of being overwhelmed by life’s drama.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no or to disappoint others.
  • Read your plan daily and review it often.

Review

Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy is an easy to read self-help book that is based on some of their traumatic experiences. It is destined to increase our focus, to helps us find out what matters most, to acquire meaning and fulfillment in our everyday life, to allow us to prioritize our lives and to contribute effectively,

This book is written for people who are looking for a better direction for their life because they are either:

  • unsatisfied with the current state of their lives,
  • lack purpose,
  • seeking more balance,
  • unable to overcome life challenges,
  • noticing that their lives don’t fit their vision or dream,
  • not reaching their full potential.

The earlier we start creating and implementing a Life Plan, the better.

Favorite quote(s)

Living Forward will heighten your sense of what’s truly possible for you in life. If you feel out of balance, aware that your current pace is unsustainable; if you are making great gains professionally but don’t want to neglect personal priorities; if you want to have better focus to succeed financially; if you have gone through a recent tragedy and suddenly become aware that life is short; if any of those are true, this book is for you.

I know that how we lead ourselves in life impacts how we lead those around us. Self-leadership always precedes team leadership. We must have a balanced approach to accumulating net worth in all of the critical accounts in our lives, not just one or two. Ultimately this allows us to make the greatest difference and adds the most value to those around us. It is possible to grow at work without diminishing other areas of our lives. Living forward helps us find and maintain our balance.

Ratings 4/5

Author

Daniel Harkavy

Michael Hyatt

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How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job By Sally Helgesen & Marshall Goldsmith

In How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or JobSally Helgesen & Marshall Goldsmith have noticed that in the workplace, high achievers — men and women — often demonstrate problematic habits that undermine their career, that have propelled them in the past and that won’t allow them to move further up.

Women, contrary to men, display different self-limiting behavior, face particular challenges, even if they want to advance their career and even if they have assets to contribute to the workplace.

Most often, women feel stuck in their jobs. Feeling stuck comes from feeling like you are unable to move forward, like some force is willfully holding you back, like you are not allowed to use your strengths or you are underappreciated. The feeling of being stuck will shape their behavior and will subsequently determine how others will respond to them.

There are also various external barriers that hold women back from success: most workplace structure has been designed by men for men. Stereotypes influence women ability to move up the ladder: they are their perceived as too aggressive, too passive, too talkative, too quite, too emotional, too mean, they smile too much or frown too much… Needless to say, women are not at all responsible for these barriers or being held back.

How Women Rise

Changing habits

People tend to cling to habits that have made them successful but that are no longer serving them. These habits have been reinforced by external factors and by people who want to celebrate your success, by the fact that most people are blind to their own weaknesses.

Furthermore, organizations are quick to claim that they thrive on change, but make it hard for their employees to change within them because:

  1. Organizations assign roles and tasks on past behaviors and keeping them there. This makes it difficult for employees to practice new behaviors.
  2. Organizations celebrate and reward a successful action and ignore a warning or a successful lack of action. Someone would be celebrated for signing a good deal and avoid a bad one. The latter are viewed as naysayers.

Habits are not intrinsic to your character but are your comfort zone, your default setting created by your surroundings. Changing is hard, time-consuming and may require external help.

People will then hold one to old behaviors rather than changing them. That resistance is built naturally by rationalizing a behavior, by your brain after repeated behavior and familiar situations.

Because stopping a habit is more effective than starting one, Helgesen & Goldsmith have put together 12 habits to stop practicing in order to be successful as a woman. To open new doors, be purposeful and intentional about choices and change behavior, it is first detrimental for women to identify how them define success.

According to Helgesen and Goldsmith, while caring about rewards and status, most women value satisfaction, quality of life and the impact of their contribution over a high salary or a high position. Women don’t define success as winning or as keeping score, don’t enjoy competition and rather collaboration. Hence, women find it easier to transition to leadership positions because they can place emphasis on others instead of themselves.

Your old habits have previously served but are currently hindering you. It’s not too late to change and acquire better habits. To get rid of them:

  • Identify the habits you need to work on.
  • Recognize your behavior as a habit, try different behaviors and observe the responses.
  • Repeat behaviors until your brain is comfortable with the new behavior.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • Recognize your strengths as well, avoid judging people.
  • Address habits one at a time.

HABIT #1: Reluctance to claim your achievements

Women work harder than men but avoid taking credit for their successes, avoid using the pronoun “I” because they believe that:

  • Their work will automatically speak for itself.
  • This behavior is obnoxious and disruptive.
  • The group to which they belong to expect them to be modest, unobtrusive and coy.

To get over the reluctance to claim your achievements:

  • Learn how to promote yourself.
  • Believe that you are detrimental to your own success.
  • Find out what motivates you, why you want to get ahead at work.
  • Enlist the help of people to speak on your behalf and don’t contradict what people have to positively say about you.

HABIT #2: Expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions

When others don’t notice the work that they do, women start to feel unacknowledged or underappreciated for the hard work that they put in. They start to feel like the don’t belong and will look for another place to work.

To get over expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions:

  • Set goals for your career and share your vision at every opportunity.
  • Prepare an elevator speech and be ready to deliver it at any moment. This will demonstrate your ambition, clarify your future, get you noticed, show that you are confident and serious, will be an opportunity to highlight your skills, will help you identify the self-serving opportunities. Your elevator speech should be clear, concise, identical to a personal vision or mission statement.

HABIT #3: Overvaluing expertise

Becoming an expert in a field gets women noticed, is a defense mechanisms, a way of asserting their value.

However, mastering a role will only keep you in the same role. Becoming an expert is time-consuming, will make you knowledgeable but will not make you a leader.

To get over the habit of overvaluing expertise:

  • Build relationships, increase influence and do the job well enough.
  • Don’t be sloppy.

HABIT #4: Just building rather than building and leveraging relationships

To women, building relationships is emotionally and personally rewarding. Indeed, women have good relationships skills but don’t leverage them to get ahead in the workplace because they don’t want:

  • Their connections to feel used.
  • Their relationships to be based on self-interests.
  • To play the political game.

To get over the habit of just building rather than building and leveraging relationships:

  • Ask people to connect you to higher-ups.
  • Use a win-win or quid pro quo system.
  • Become more intentional about your relationships.
  • Remember that people can benefit from you and vice versa.

HABIT #5: Failing to enlist allies from day one

From the first day on the job, most women tend to try to keep their heads down, to understand every aspect of their job, to avoid asking questions, to value expertise, to be undergoing the impostor syndrome. As seem before, expertise is just your way of making yourself credible.

Instead find out with who you should connect with to get better visibility, more influence.

To get over failing to enlist allies from day one:

  • Reach out to others first and engage as many people as possible.
  • Find mentors and sponsors.
  • Keep in mind that allies are not friends.
  • Talk positively about your allies.
  • Identify the people who can propel you to the next level or that you would enjoy working with.

HABIT #6: Putting your job before your career

Most women trying to do their jobs perfectly because they are loyal, get stuck in the same job for years.

To get over putting your job before your career:

  • Let people know that you are ready for a challenge.
  • Analyze how your current position can serve your long-term interest.
  • Admit self-interest and identify what you value and how you can maximize your strengths.
  • Appreciate you current position.

HABIT #7: The perfection trap

Women tend to be perfect due to social expectations. Doing your job perfectly doesn’t guarantee success. Instead, it creates stress, keep you distracted and annoyed and sets you up for disappointment, it makes you hard on yourself, destroyed by failure, paralyzed by mistakes, sets too high standards for your team.

To get over the perfection trap:

  • Don’t be controlling.
  • Learn to delegate and not micromanage.
  • Learn to prioritize and identify the vital few.

HABIT #8: The disease to please

Women find themselves eager to please, to be nice, to make everybody happy, are afraid of disappointing and of being a burden. This behavior is time-consuming, kills careers, deters from taking a stance and from following a higher purpose.

To get over the disease to please:

  • Identify your priorities.
  • Learn to delegate.
  • Select your commitments with care.
  • Stand your ground.

HABIT #9: Minimizing

Women tend to make themselves smaller, which is translated in the body language and the words they use. This behavior sends the message that they are diminished, subservient, non deserving, uncertain and underachieving.

To get over the habit of minimizing yourself:

  • Talk about your accomplishments, talk about individual and collective wins if that makes you feel fairer.
  • Choose your voice and words carefully.
  • Stay in the moment.
  • Avoid multitasking and spreading yourself too thin.

HABIT #10: Too much

In the workplace, women have to temper and constantly monitor their emotional response to situations. Being perceived as too intense, too emotional, too strong, too vulnerable, too much can be an obstacle to promotion.

Monitoring your behavior, your emotions is draining and makes you come out as inauthentic. To get over the display of too much emotions:

  • women have to exercise self-discipline.
  • Learn to feel, recognize and not immediately react to an emotion.
  • Learn to be concise.
  • Avoid disclosing personal information, problems and weaknesses.
  • Avoid being unprofessional just to be authentic.

HABIT #11: Ruminating

Women are more likely to ruminate, to cling on to the past. They turn their hurt inwards, relive their failure and blame themselves.

Ruminating is counterproductive, are depressing, won’t help you succeed or solve future problems.

To get over the habit of ruminating:

  • women need to find ways to distract themselves and interrupt their thought.
  • learn from the facts and move on.

HABIT #12: Letting your radar distract you

Women notice a lot of details and process them differently than men. They are aware of everybody’s reaction, are distracted by details and are unable to stay ion the moment.

To get over the habit of getting distracted by their radar, discipline your thoughts and refrain from negativity.

Review

How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgesen & Marshall Goldsmith is relatable, proactive and insightful. It is written for women with the best intention and with the desire to help women stop self-sacrificing and stop self-sabotaging. It is not necessarily targeted towards women of color even though it mentions the challenges that women of color face in the workplace.

Above all, it teaches us introspection and demonstrates how to control what we can, how to change bad habits, how to improve our quality of life and to reach our full potential.

In addition, How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Helgesen & Goldsmith pushes us to seek the positive in every interaction, in every feedback and to not take remarks personally even if they are based on stereotypes. It’s all about changing a behavior that stands in your way.

For the most part, I agree that women share habits that keep us from advancing in the workplace. There are several points that were accurate and that resonated with me: I have a nagging tendency to ruminate on negative experiences (Habit #11). Because I pay too much attention to detail (Habit #12), the rumination process is that much amplified.

However, I felt like Helgesen and Goldsmith insinuated that women, aware of the stereotypes placed on them in the workplace, have to take on the responsibility of changing themselves to fit in, have to listen to and apply the feedback they received from the people who perpetuate the stereotypes, that they have to become enablers and mirror men’s behavior.

It doesn’t seem like we are supposed to change to acquire greater values or to reach a higher purpose. But we’re changing to fit someone else’s standards or expectations of us: we move from one expectation to another.

Favorite quote(s)

Instead of viewing money and position as the sole or even chief markers of success, women also tend to place a high value on the quality of their lives at work and the impact of their contributions.

the trick to maximizing your talents and opportunities is not becoming a less thoughtful and giving person, but rather being purposeful and intentional about your choices while also addressing the behaviors that keep you stuck.

Ratings 3/5

Author

Sally Helgesen

Marshall Goldsmith

Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

In Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon Sinek believes that every single employee is capable of becoming a leader, of being remarkable, of exercising courage and sacrifice, of investing into the company, and of finding fulfillment at work.

Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't by Simon Sinek

The General Role Of The Leader

In addition, Simon Sinek considers humans as hunters, organizations as tribes and leaders as those who put order within the tribe.

In modern days, leaders are perceived as dominant, are the ones that eat first, are the ones who make the most money, who get preferential treatment and most importantly are those who are supposed to protect. Indeed, they have more resources at their disposal and have to use it appropriately to ensure the survival of their tribe.

However, for long-lasting results, to gain the loyalty and respect of their employees, they must not consider their well-being above the well-being of the tribe. They must eat last.

It is the role of leaders of an organization to be courageous, to demonstrate empathy, to lay down the foundation for success, to show employees appreciation and to allow them to take appropriate risks.

The Circle Of Safety

The Circle Of Safety contains all the people of an organization. It is a safe space where employees feel fulfilled at work, don’t dread Monday morning, are willing to advance the company’s purpose.

It is an environment of increased commitment, fulfillment, gratitude and happiness, where employees are more relaxed, thrive, collaborate and work for each other.

In the Circle Of Safety, leaders and employees share the same values, pull their respective loads and are committed to the Circle.

Everyone feels valued by their peers, they know that their colleagues have their backs, they believe that they belong to something greater than themselves, that they can safely drive innovation, share ideas and express themselves freely.

By the same token, employees and leaders must independently weigh their decisions and ponder whether or not their decisions are beneficial to the group. It is wise to remember that working toward individualistic goals will hurt the group.

Leaders In The Circle Of Safety

Besides, leaders are the gatekeepers of the Circle. They set the standards, they decide who gets in and who stays at the door.

To create safety, leaders have to meet certain conditions and build a soothing company culture. Company culture in modern days is unnatural because they go against all natural needs, instincts, rights for safety and fulfillment.

If leaders want to create a Circle Of Safety, to establish an innovative, stable, robust, lasting, successful company, they must:

  • Understand that employees are not a means to an end and shouldn’t be exploited.
  • Increase employee cohesion and inclusion. They must no longer fear each other but must be willing to fight external challenges together. Moreover, there is power in numbers: when challenges arise, employees in the Circle Of Safety must put all their differences aside to reach a common goal.
  • Avoid placing money above people but place people above everything else.
  • Remember that they are the models for the organization. Therefore, they must define a clear set of values and beliefs for themselves and for their employees.
  • Inject empathy into the workplace culture and treat everyone fairly. This will make both employees and leaders more human, and make work more enjoyable.
  • Extend trust to earn trust. Trust also lies in the fact that leaders know when to follow the rules and when to break them in order to guarantee the safety of their employees.
  • Help people solve problems. They will in turn, help each other.
  • Listen to their employees.
  • Protect their employees internal conflicts and promote collaboration.

 

The Feasibility Of The Circle Of Safety

Making people feel safe, putting their well-being first is idealistic but impractical.

On one hand, people work out of necessity, are willing to stay in a job that they hate to provide for themselves and for their loved ones. They don’t want to selflessly commit to and invest themselves into the company. They are reluctant to put forth the time and effort because they are not in control and  might not receive the proper rewards.

On the other hand, it is quasi difficult to find organizations that genuinely care for their employees safety and well-being. Most of them tend to care more about reaching numbers and are willing to sacrifice people to get there.

The truth is most companies and leaders display poor character and induce a stressful and fearful culture. Employee disengagement, high employee turnover and health problems ensue.

Abundance and Abstraction

Finally, when leaders have everything in abundance, which is often the case today, they lose the real value of things.

As a consequence, the more their companies grow, the more they are out of touch with their employees and their consumers, the less they empathize with them. To solve this abstraction, leaders should:

  • Get to know their employees personally. Investing time and energy in them will transpire as appreciation.
  • Continually spread ideas, find people, connect with them, build real human relationships and bring them together.
  • Expand their company to 150 employees at most in order to remember everyone and to keep strong relationships.
  • Observe the real impact and results of their time and effort, alongside their employees’. This will consequently increase everybody’s quality of work.
  • Give people the time needed to trust, to find their way and place with the Circle Of Safety.

The Influence Of The Company Culture

The culture severely impacts the survival of the company. When there are no values, no principles, no particular beliefs, when the culture is based on numbers, reports and performance, the company is doomed to fail.

Moreover, leaders with poor character fabricate a bad culture that in turn breeds bad leaders. This is why, leaders are required to:

  • Rely on integrity and trust, spend time with the people they serve and shift their focus to the latter.
  • Find someone to lean on and to help them through hardships.
  • Discover their life purpose.
  • Work hard for what they have in order to value it.
  • Hold on to their responsibilities.

Review

Simon Sinek, in Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, provides an innovative leadership strategy to build a successful organization, to increase employee engagement and fulfillment.

After Start With Why — How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Leaders Eat Last is intended for millennials and promotes leadership excellence. To develop a successful organization, Simon Sinek encourages us to discover the reasons why we do what we do, to understand people and their needs, to go beyond having good competencies and good managerial skills.

In this great book, Sinek places people at the forefront of the company and demonstrates that building a company from the ground up takes on a whole new sense. He believes that leaders have to take care of the well-being of their employees first and their employees will take care of the rest.

Besides, he doesn’t claim to be an idealist, to believe that all workers love their jobs and that all leaders treat their employees well. He understands that most people work out of necessity.

Lastly, he analyzes our biological needs and transposes them to the modern working world. Our natural needs are powerful forces that we cannot control.

Favorite quote(s)

In our modern world, advancing our careers and trying to find happiness and fulfillment are the definition of success. But the systems inside us that guide our behavior and decisions still function as they did tens of thousands of years ago. Our primitive minds still perceive the world around us in terms of threats to our well-being or opportunities to find safety.

Being a leader is like being a parent, and the company is like a new family to join. One that will care for us like we are their own . . . in sickness and in health. And if we are successful, our people will take on our company’s name as a sign of the family to which they are loyal.

This feeling of belonging, of shared values and a deep sense of empathy, dramatically enhances trust, cooperation and problem solving.

Quite often, what’s good for one is not necessarily good for the other. Working exclusively to advance ourselves may hurt the group, while working exclusively to advance the group may come at a cost to us as individuals.

Leadership is about integrity, honesty and accountability. All components of trust.

Ratings 3.75/5

Author

Simon Sinek

 

The Talent Code by David Coyle

In The Talent Code, David Coyle explores how talents are created and nurtured throughout life. He first demonstrates that talent is a consequence of deep practice, is  ignited and occurs in mysterious places and at different moment.

The Talent Code

The Deep Practice Process

People with talent take time to practice, have a great deal of concentration and focus. They counterintuitively practice failure to make themselves successful later on. This is what David Coyle calls deep practice.

Deep practice is to talent what a whetstone is to a knife. It sharpens a natural ability and converts failed situations into learning experiences. That is why, gifted people are found in hot beds where events seem accelerated and fluid. On the outside looking in, gifted people look strange.

To go further into the deep practice process, break a skill into small components, learn them, learn their variants, search for their potential errors, gradually correct these components.

In addition, studies have shown that making mistakes, correcting them, deep practicing and working through failure force us to function at the edge of our abilities and talents, allow us to improve our resilience and our ability to learn.

Talents develop a strategy to building up a skill so that they can accurately measure their progress, sense mistakes before they occur, adapt their strategy in case of failure, customize it to different situations, avoid blaming their success on luck.

Afterwards, in a unchallenging situation, a small effort will produce big results and will guide you towards your talent sweet spot.

The Importance Of Myelin

According to Daniel Coyle and to early reasearch, the learning process in talented people starts in our brain with myelin. Myelin is a microscopic substance in the brain, insulating neural circuits, strengthening and regulating neurological signals, that decreases with age, that drives our perception of the world, that increases our ability to learn, to talk to read and to communicate.

Furthermore, myelin creates habits that they can only be removed by creating another one. It follows the same rules universally and doesn’t grow without a conscience action on our behalf.

Needless to say, by deep practicing, we build higher and automatic skills, we train our neurological signals to borrow a specific path and to increase the quantity of myelin in our brain.

How to rewire our brain while being cognizant of myelin

Theses studies are still in the early ages. However, deep practicing, repeating an action, watching talented, skilled people allows us to imitate them, to rewire our brain.

According to Ericsson’s research, to optimize the level of myelin in your brain, it is detrimental to practise daily between 3 to 5 hours.

The Ignition Process

According to Daniel Coyle, talents come from more than genes and environment. Deep practice, not enjoyable at first, is the first step to developing talent and requires time, commitment, energy and passion.

The second step is understanding and implementing the ignition process which allows us to create and sustain motivation. Ignition operates through emotion and visualization of the future, sparks intense unconscious response and accelerates progress.

Moreover, this process does not follow basic and regular rules. The ignition process is triggered by certain signals or primal cues, by a lack of safety, by education, by exposure to a different environment and to aspirational figures. It is also triggered by words, motivational and inspirational language, by high value messages, by praises and affirmations.

To get people motivated, it is important to “speak to the ground-level effort, affirming the struggle”, to congratulate them on their hard work. To sustain the ignition process, one must have self-discipline, understand their priorities and be accountable for their errors.

Identifying and Igniting talent in others

Talent coaches are viewed as great leaders and teachers because ignite our talent and using our talents can change our lives and those of others around us. Talent coaches:

  • Are people who were talented but unsuccessful but who have taken the time out to identify the reasons why.
  • Are generally quite and reserved.
  • Are warm and empathetic.
  • Listen more than they speak.
  • Offer short targeted advice instead of motivational and inspirational speeches.
  • Are committed to and are sensitive to their students, to the people that they coach. For example, they customize their messages to their students.
  • Are sharp and capture every information regarding their student.
  • Pay attention to details, rehearse the words that they will potentially use.
  • Measure their voice, control their body language.
  • Live by their values and principles.
  • Breaks down their message in “chunks” and understand the importance of deep practice.
  • Have an ability to locate the strengths, the sweet spots of an individual and to pull them out their shell and out of their comfort zone.

It is clear to say that the spotlight is rarely shun upon the coach, that teaching and leading is a skill on its own and the best coaches spend decades nurturing their coaching skills.

To help young talented people to build their skills, it is important to seek out someone talented but who doesn’t seem like it, someone who is wise, who doesn’t engage in small talk, who doesn’t necessarily have diplomas or graduated from summa cum laude from a top-notch school.

Review

In The Talent Code, David Coyle is an easy to read book that ambitiously identifies the origin of talent in individuals. He gives an interesting spin on how talent is created—not born— and nurtured. To prepare for his book, David Coyle had to travel for research, had to interview scientists, coaches and teachers and to visit talent hotbeds.

The Talent Code is extremely useful to people who are shy, introverted, who lack motivation and the fire necessary to pursue their gift, who seek to coach and lead and who seek a strategy to build strong skills.

It is also detrimental in the music industry, in business, in corporate , in the education and sport fields. Furthermore, after reading this book, I have a greater respect for people with talent but also for people who are able to nurture talent in others.

Favorite quote(s)

The conventional way to explain this kind of concentrated talent is to attribute it to a combination of genes and environment, a.k.a. nature and nurture.

Ratings 3/5

Author

David Coyle

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Start With Why — How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action by Simon Sinek


In Start With Why — How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take ActionSimon Sinek explains the importance of identifying your personal purpose and extending this knowledge to different areas of your life.

Discovering your purpose will help you to avoid making bad assumptions about people, to make better decisions, to inspire people, to motivate people to achieve goals, to build great organizations and to mature into a successful leader.

Undeniably, most of us make unfair assumptions about other people, about the world around us and we tend to adjust our lives around these assumptions. Others attempt to gather information through polls, surveys, personal experience or external perspectives to make important decisions and to motivate people.

However, having the right data and all the great advice in the world doesn’t protect us from making bad decisions and underperforming. How to make the best decisions, achieve a desired outcome, motivate people and be successful, discarding all assumptions?

Manipulation for Motivation

Leaders achieve results by making decisions. When leaders don’t understand their goals or the way to achieve an outcome, they tend to manipulate others to reach their goals.

Manipulation is quite visible and effective in the business world, has become the norm and a flawed assumption in itself. For example, businesses either:

  • Drop their prices to attract customers in order to get rid of old products and to welcome new ones. This creates low expectations in customers who stop buying and wait for the next price decrease.
  • Give away free promotions with their products to entice customers. The promotional process is purposefully complicated to reduce the number of people getting the free product but to increase the number of random product purchase.
  • Use fear to motivate people, to make them obey rules, to understand the consequences of their actions and moreover to step away from unwanted products. Fear tactics are seen in advertisements and in politics.
  • Make us aspire to a better lifestyle with one product. This tactic has a positive intention but is still manipulative because it is only effective with insecure people.
  • Use peer pressure to make people believe that their product is the best and that they have no choice but to purchase it. This tactic is designed to make people feel like they are missing out on something.
  • Innovate in order to compensate for society’s need for change and to potentially boost sales. In reality, companies don’t invent new products but add features to existing ones.
  • Write conditions in fine prints , offer products at low tariffs to only rise the price later.

However, manipulation is a back biting and short termed method to get results. It guarantees transactions and not loyalty.

Inspiration for Motivation: The Golden Circle

Some leaders go against the norm and choose to inspire people rather than manipulating them. To do so, they follow the Golden Circle.

Inspired by the mathematical golden ratio, the Golden Circle rule has many applications in different areas of life, favors “order and predictability in human behavior”, helps leaders communicate their vision from the inside out.

The Golden Circle is a guide to vastly improving leadership skills, the corporate culture, the company’s hiring skills, product development, sales and marketing. It even explains loyalty and how to create enough momentum to turn an idea into a social movement.

Start With Why

The Golden Circle has 3 steps: first identify why,  then ask how and lastly ask what.

Ask Why

Leaders who know why they do what they do first build long-lasting success, are much more appealing, are able to communicate their belief, to include people, to drive positive decisions and to command loyalty. A lack of understanding of why leaders do what they do only breeds doubt, make decisions harder, make them resort to manipulation.

Knowing why will improve the leader’s charisma and confidence, will attract followers by giving them something to believe in, will inspire them but won’t be able to drive an entire movement.

To have a broader impact, leaders have to be authentic, to trust their gut and their purpose. Additionally, they have to diffuse their message, through commercials and through their logo, with a purpose and not with manipulation tactics.

Ask How

The second step resides in putting the purpose into action. To put their vision into action, leaders must gather a following and gain their trust. Therefore, leaders have to identify their core values and principles that guide their decisions, be disciplined enough to stick to these values, share their purpose, and show that they are not self-interested.

Followers having the same set of values as the leaders will have the opportunity to innovate, to trust the workspace and to go the extra mile. Having a loyal following provides peace of mind, increases trust, reduces the stress levels and the need for hard work.

Needless to say, leaders with different sets of values, often don’t fit in a particular culture. If they don’t belong, they won’t be able to make others feel like they belong, they won’t hire people who will embody their values.

Ask What

The third and last step consists in leaders remaining consistent and staying accountable to their values and principles.

Maintaining the Golden Circle

When leaders or organizations no longer have purpose, start feeling unsuccessful and start being untrustworthy, though having great achievements under their belts.

Leaders must fight to maintain the Golden Circle so that they can sustain trust, drive and purpose. To do so, they must maintain clarity of their vision, extract it and integrate it into the culture of the company and find a successor willing to preserve the vision.

Review

Start With Why — How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, by Simon Sinek is a self-help book that help you understand the importance of having a purpose.

The Golden Circle classifies people in Why-types (visionaries), How-types (realists and executives) and What-types (employees). In addition, the Golden Circle clarifies the conception of great organization and the composition of all hierarchy. At the top of the organization, stands the leader representing the vision and imagining the destination. In the middle, are the executives who know how to bring the vision to life and imagine the route. Finally, at the bottom, are the employees who implement the results (money, profit, prices).

It is remarkable for people who owns businesses, for leaders who want to market themselves, to find their purpose and sustain success. Becoming successful without knowing who you are is almost impossible.

I would have to agree with Simon Sinek: loyalty and trust are the most valued and long-lasting qualities in relationships and in business. These qualities reduce our stress levels and the pressure to compete or to innovate.

Furthermore, it discloses real truths in marketing, in business and in corporate, observes what makes them successful and what makes them fail. It also shows us the numerous manipulation tactics that we have certainly fallen victims to.

Favorite quote(s)

We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us. Those whom we consider great leaders all have an ability to draw us close and to command our  loyalty.

Cultures are groups of people who come together around a common set of values and beliefs. When we share values and beliefs with others, we form trust. Trust of others allows us to rely on others to help protect our children and ensure our
personal survival. […]  A company is a culture.

What all great leaders have in common is the ability to find good
fits to join their organizations

Ratings 4/5

Author

Simon Sinek

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Confidence Plan — How To Build A Stronger You, Mastering The Practical Skills Of Winning by Tim Ursiny

In Confidence Plan — How To Build A Stronger You, Mastering The Practical Skills Of WinningTim Ursiny believes that building self-confidence does not only rely on positive self-talk, on words of affirmation, on changing our thought patterns or other mental strategies.

To build long-term confidence, Ursiny believes that we also have to develop emotional, behavioral, relational and spiritual strategies.

For Ursiny, confidence is an important factor to fulfilling our dreams, for achieving real success at work and at home, for building and maintaining healthy relationships, for understanding and communicating with others.

Confidence Plan

Recognizing the importance of confidence

Struggling with confidence either means that you suffer from low self-esteem or that you are living, working, breathing in the wrong place. If you have never suffered from lack of confidence, then you have never left your comfort zone.

Needless to say, confidence is the opposite of humility. It is the belief in our abilities to perform, to get results from our performance, in our worth and in our opinion of ourselves.

In addition, we all internal regulator that measures our level of confidence, depending on our successes and failures, that forces us to take action and that can be explained by different factors. We have a level to which we will not allow ourselves to fall or to rise. It is important to identify those levels in order to rewire our expectations and reset our internal regulator.

To recognize the importance of confidence:

  • Learn from adversity. Through resilience, “quality that allows us to pick ourselves back up after experiencing hardship or trauma”, you grow your confidence despite failure.
  • Embrace your past, enjoy your success, get over past failures and learn from your mistakes. People who hide or don’t observe their past tend to repeat the same mistakes and miss out on opportunities.
  • Assess your current abilities, behaviors, habits, blind spots, strengths and weaknesses. Welcome feedback from trusted people around you and make the needed changes.
  • Stay focused on your vision and be optimistic that you are going to get there.
  • Work on your attitude. Attitudes are composed of what we think, how we feel and what we do. And, when all these aspects are aligned, we are more peaceful and more confident. Therefore, to constantly adjust your attitude:
    • Watch your self talk, reward positive thinking and remind yourself of your own competencies.
    • Take time off for yourself, enjoy the company of your friends and family.
    • Practise future behaviors in fictional situations.
  • Identify the motivations for reaching your goals and take the steps to grow.

Challenging personal comfort zones

The way we perceive ourselves or a situation can seriously impact our confidence. To challenge your personal comfort zones:

  • Use different techniques to control your thoughts and to remain present. Some turn to meditation, some to God and others to religion to instill peace of mind.
  • Avoid making snap judgements that create insecurities and that easily lead us into error.
  • Avoid self-fulfilling prophecies and remain optimistic. Sometimes, when we believe that we can achieve something, our subconscious will arrange our actions and behaviors to match that expectation. Believing that good things will come to you will help you live a happier life.
  • Don’t be your own self-critic. Use words of affirmations to motivate you and to reach higher grounds of success.
  • Identify the embarrassing thoughts and seek new ones.
  • Stop negative thoughts from taking root in your mind. For example, use the highly effective rubber band technique:
    • Put a rubber band around your wrist.
    • When negative thoughts come in, snap the rubber band.
    • Tell yourself to stop the thought pattern.
    • Replace the negative thought with a positive one.

Building confidence in failure

Most often, our behavior and emotional response are illogical. To gauge your emotional level of confidence and to gain sight into your emotional core:

  • Evaluate your behavior in stressful situations and your relationship with compliments.
  •  Start journaling.
  • Take responsibility for your feelings about yourself and about how others make you feel, for your successes and failures.
  • Avoid  negative opinions and hypothesis about people and yourself. You will end up attributing negative connotations to every single one of their behaviors and only confirming what you already belive.
  • Don’t allow past hurts to define your future.
  • Use visualization techniques and your 5 senses to deepen your confidence, your emotional core, to increase self-control and resilience.

Understanding the limits of self-confidence

Fears have a knack for decreasing our confidence. To understand the limits of self-confidence:

  • Act more confidently so you can become more confident.
  • Identify what drains you and what fills you up with energy. We usually feel stressed when there are elements out of our control because we feel less powerful than we think we are. To feel better, shift your focus on things that you can control.
  • Identify the goal to grow your already existing confidence. Then, stop and measure your progress.
  • Identify your fears then face your fears by gradually desensitizing and exposing yourself to them. “Confidence is not the absence of fear” but means that “fear has no control over you”.
  • Avoid procrastination. Procrastination tends to intensify our fears.
  • Expose yourself to embarrassment more often.

Building confidence through the 5 approaches

The culture and the people we surround ourselves with have a huge impact on our self-confidence. To grow your confidence through mental, emotional, behavioral, relational and spiritual strategies:

  • Identify people who drain your confidence, that judge your abilities and capabilities. Assess their actions, learn to deal with them effectively or learn to repair the relationships.
  • Find out whether or not you are draining someone else.
  • Create and increase your support system that defines your social identity. In this support system, we feel more comfortable being ourselves.
  • Consider how conflicts impact your confidence. Conflicts are born from prejudices, stereotypes and differences in opinion. Firstly, center yourself around your own opinion in order not to be threatened by someone else’s or to become defensive. Secondly, build relationships that promotes trust and loyalty.
  • Forgive and give back to your community to help you grow.
  • Invite feedback from people you trust and respect.

Transcending self-confidence

To find our higher levels of confidence, we must believe that there is something bigger that us and we must tap into our spiritual being. To transcend your self-confidence:

  • Identify your purpose and higher calling. This way, you won’t accept environments and position that don’t satisfy you or that don’t play to your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Examine how you can bring significance to your work, what you want to be remembered for, that mark you want to leave on earth.
  • Practise what you preach.
  • Develop a deeper relationship with God.
  • Build a personal mission statement.

Review

Confidence Plan — How To Build A Stronger You, Mastering The Practical Skills Of Winning, by Tim Ursiny, is written for those who want a better life for themselves, a more positive vision of life, or to assess their level of confidence. It is also written for those with low self-esteem and for those who struggle with self-confidence.

Confidence Plan — How To Build A Stronger You, Mastering The Practical Skills Of Winning is transformational and can be used in our professional life as much as our personal life. Through his book, through immediate practical exercises, Tim Ursiny seeks to impact people long-term.

Tim Ursiny provides us with timely, implementable exercises that you can work on, on a daily basis. You can work on the exercises in six weeks or you can work at our own pace. It is therefore necessary for you to select the techniques and sections of the book that speak the most to you.

Favorite quote(s)

In any situation where two people are competing with relatively similar skills, the more confident person will always succeed at a greater level.

The way we view a situation can have serious ramifications. Our perceptions will often dictate what we do, how we feel, and how we interact with others.

Our minds are capable of processing a huge amount of information. This is both a plus and a minus concerning whether this information aids us or hurts us.What goes on in our minds has a powerful impact on our confidence and our behavior. Having the wrong stuff in our heads is dangerous to our success.

We cannot control what others say to us, but we definitely can impact and change what we say to ourselves.

One form of conflict is a result of prejudice and stereotypes

No matter how confident we are, no matter how successful we become, no matter how powerful we feel, there is something bigger than us.

Ratings 3/5

Author

Tim Ursiny

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Managing Anger In The Workplace by Donald Gibson & Bruce Tulgan

Managing Anger In The Workplace by Donald Gibson & Bruce Tulgan is a self-help book that explains anger and consequences, and provides advice to handle anger in ourselves and in others.

Managing Anger In The Workplace by Donald Gibson & Bruce Tulgan

Understanding Anger

Anger is a normal, natural emotional and physiological response to an attack on our personal safety, on our self-esteem and safety.

Anger modifies our perception, interpretation of events, and affects our communication and behaviors.

Some people aggressively lash out, some withhold and deal with their anger internally, others become passive aggressive.

Anger is difficult to handle in the workplace because:

  • Relationships in the workplace are complex. We spend most of our working hours with perfect strangers, with different levels of power and with whom we thrive to build a trustworthy relationship.
  • Our interests often competes with those of others.
  • Our financial and psychological security is at stake.
  • There are many factors within the organization that are beyond our control, which tends to make us feel vulnerable.

The consequences of anger in the workplace

Anger in the workplace can damage your mental and physical health, your career, your work performance, your reputation and your relationships. In extreme cases, anger can result in violence or even suicide.

Furthermore, anger not only affects individuals life but also negatively impacts those around them. Because they worry about the situation and want to avoid the at all costs, anger reduces their commitment and productivity at work.

People around the angry person experience feelings of “fear, sadness, diminished self-esteem, preoccupation with the conflict, increased caution, and thoughts of revenge”. If the behavior is tolerated by management, people will start to lose trust in their organization and in the capabilities of their leader. From there, a toxic workplace is built.

The benefits of anger in the workplace

Anger is always painted in a negative light but managed properly, it can have a positive aspect to it. To visualize the productive aspect of anger, create a conflictual fictional scenario and think about the possible healthy responses to the situation.

Anger helps to identify conflicts, problematic issues, to resolve them, to demonstrate or create employee commitment and involvement, to generate better results.

Specifically, channeling employees anger can improve the work experience by:

  • Sustaining employees for long intensive hours at work.
  • Augmenting perseverance.
  • Acknowledging change and diversity in opinion.
  • Driving healthy competitions, productivity and quality.
  • Updating policies and procedures.
  • Improving conflictual relationships.
  • Speaking up against wrongdoers and against unfair treatment.

The signs and symptoms of anger

Some people over-express their anger and others under-express it. Both are unhealthy and have long-term negative effects on individuals and on the organization. In order to deal with your anger issues, it is necessary to identify the signs and symptoms of your anger. Expressions of badly managed anger can easily become aggression, can be direct or indirect, active or passive.

In addition, in the organization, expression of anger is either modeled from the higher hierarchy and cascades down the line, is only allowed to high performers with bad behaviors or is repressed to create a culture of polite exchange and respectful relationship.

The source of anger

It is detrimental to focus on the source of the anger in order to resolve it. There are five main sources of anger:

  1. The cracks in the system that make us feel out of control, constantly “threatened and insecure”, frustrated.
  2. Perceived unfairness and injustice in treatment, in salary and in work load within the organization.
  3. Arrested goals because of everyone’s competitive interest.
  4. Difference of core values.
  5. Difference in power. On one hand, subordinates fear the powerful, are angry that the powerful has authority over them. On the other, the powerful appreciates the control and security, is angry when their authority is questioned, generally retaliates when that happens.

Addressing your anger in 6 steps

In Managing Anger In The WorkplaceDonald Gibson and Bruce Tulgan introduce to a six step plan in order to manage personal anger:

  1. Do your best to avoid angering situations and people on a typical day. Also, assess yourself, your relationships and achievements. Then, invest in your well-being and learn to speak to assert your needs and rights.
  2. Detect the early physical symptoms of anger. Then, learn to dissipate your anger with physical and mental exercises.
  3. Anger has a habit of distorting your thought pattern and memory of a situation. It is therefore necessary to calm ourselves down and to logically assess the events.
  4. Gather your thoughts together and the recipient of your anger to disclose the reason for your anger. Don’t hesitate to prepare your speech.
  5. Take action and seek solutions to the situation by changing your perspective and your reactions.
  6. If the situation is not worth your time and energy, maybe it is time to let it go and swiftly move on.

Addressing other people anger in 5 steps

Dealing with someone else’s anger is a whole new territory and is a case by case study. One has to keep in mind the person idiosyncrasies, your relationship with this person, the way that person directs their anger (inward or outward), the level of anger involved, the source of the anger and the personality type of the person.

Also, avoid ignoring the person’s feeling, attempting to control their anger, shutting the person down or overpowering them. Instead:

  1. Master and assess your own feelings of anger.
  2. Identify “the underlying source of anger”.
  3. Schedule a meeting and prepare the conversation.
  4. Listen without interruption but without allowing the situation to escalate.
  5. Take action to reinforce positive behavior, to address the problem and find a solution.

Addressing anger in the organizational culture

Anger is unfortunately inevitable in the workplace. It is important to assess the state of anger in your workplace and on your team, to get people focused on the mission instead of personal differences, to establish a code of conduct, to require model behavior from leaders and to provide anger management classes.

Managing Anger In The Workplace by Donald Gibson & Bruce Tulgan (2).png

Review

Managing Anger In The Workplace by Donald Gibson and Bruce Tulgan is a valuable, eye-opening and instructive book, filled with case studies, practical guidelines to understand your anger, to analyze your response to challenges and the dynamics at work, to gradually and successfully handle your anger.

Needless to say, there are so many things that are out of our control, that make us lose our cool: a coworker says or does the wrong thing; a team member doesn’t meet deadlines; your superior yells at you or is unfair to you for no good reason.

Anger is neither good or bad but a natural emotion. Anger in the workplace can open us up to malicious attack where people feel that they can control your reaction or it can create a toxic workplace. That it’s why, it is important to manage and express that anger before it translates into physical symptoms.

This book offers tools and exercises and is genuinely helpful. It was written in 2003 but is still current. It is not an overnight miracle worker but it gives great tips to take discipline yourself, to take control of your anger and monitor your progress.

Favorite quote(s)

anger is a normal, fundamental, and even healthy emotion rooted in our instinct for self-preservation.

In cases where poorly managed anger is routinely tolerated and accepted by leadership, the organization may assume an angry culture, with negative effects flowing up the chain of command covertly and cascading down the chain of command all too obviously.

That’s why anger is often seen as the forbidden emotion. People who express anger are considered to be “irrational,” and “out of control,” two of the worst things that can be said about a person. This is particularly true in organizations, where people are supposed to leave their emotions at the workplace door. What many people don’t realize—or never consider—is that anger in itself is neither positive nor negative. If managed effectively, anger can be a positive and productive emotion.

Ratings 4/5

Author

Bruce Tulgan

Donald Gibson

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Are you Fully Charged? The 3 Keys To Energizing Your Work And Life by Tom Rath

Are you Fully Charged? The 3 Keys To Energizing Your Work And Life by Tom Rath, introduces people to new strategies to increase their productivity and overall well-being at work and in their lives.

Are you Fully Charged_ The 3 Keys To Energizing Your Work And Life by Tom Rath

STRATEGY #1: Find meaning in helping people

Through his research, Tom Rath found that bringing meaning is detrimental to organizations and to self. Deriving meaningfulness from money and power is the fastest way to sabotage yourself, is not sustainable because it opens up door to comparison, damages your well-being and relationships.

In order to create meaningfulness, to strengthen your relationships and increase your performance at work:

  • Stop seeking happiness and stop putting your well-being first all the time. Sometimes, put people’s need before your own.
  • Create meaningful interactions to protect yourself from negative thoughts, depressions.
  • Contribute to a collective good to make a difference.
  • Dedicate extra hours to meaningful activities.
  • Avoid doing what people expect of you but explore different areas of interests.
  • Focus on the impact of your work, on internal motives rather than external motives. Find ways to remind yourself of your internal motivators daily.
  • Understand your contribution to your organization, your efforts to work. Your efforts can be attached to a larger purpose afterwards.
  • Identify the right work to that it is not only a monetary transaction and that you are emotionally engaged, have better interactions with your colleagues, be more productive. Financial security contribute to happiness.
  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses and apply them to the organization, fill a specific need. Work on your talents to grow and be great at something
  • Say no to distractions. Being busy is not synonymous to importance or progress.

STRATEGY #2: Create positive interactions

To thrive in the workplace and to better your work performance, it is important to intentionally create positive interactions:

  • Assume the best of a situation and of an interaction and learn to convert a negative into a positive.
  • In performance review, spend more time discussing strengths than weaknesses.
  • Use positive words to build on relationships. Creating strong bonds with coworkers fosters creativity and increase effectiveness at work, takes a year to solidify. When confronting or in a difficult situation, preface with positive words.
  • Take small steps and appreciate small wins. For example, make someone smile before making them laugh.
  • Pay attention to people so that they don’t assume the worst about you.
  • Ask questions to initiate a conversation, to engage a debate, to build influence, to negotiate.
  • Share embarrassing moments and mistakes to instill trust and to remain humble.
  • Mirror someone else’s behavior to better the conversation.
  • Don’t use your phone when spending time with people, show that you value the conversation, their time and openness.
  • Create enjoyable experiences with loved ones to create long-lasting positive memories. We tend to forget the purchase of material goods over time even though we felt good while buying it.  Create experiences instead and treasure the memory.
  • Spend money on people you care about. Seeing them happy will instantly make you happy.
  • Plan experiences ahead and share the details with people around you so you can look forward to something and increase your well-being.
  • To motivate people to work for you, have them do something for someone else or for the benefit of the team.
  • Be sincere, help someone see their potential and develop their self-confidence.

STRATEGY #3: Take care of yourself

Leaders are the first to arrive early at work and leave late, to sleep less hours. they claim they are busy but their lifestyle is unsustainable and will lead to burnout.

  • Watch what you eat. Acquiring the right food has nothing to do with calories count but everything with quality. Therefore, eat healthy, avoid fried foods, carbohydrates, sugar and eat more vegetables to boost your energy and to positively influence your mood.
  • The human body isn’t built for a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise, avoid sitting down and add as much exercise and movements a day as possible, especially in the morning.
  • Sleep 20 minutes through the day and sleep longer at night to increase your ability to think, your productivity, health and well-being. Lack of sleep reduces alertness and awareness.
  • Don’t work on a same activity for too long, it will diminish your performance. Take multiple breaks.
  • To improve sleep quality, close the light of your electronic devices, cancel out noises with white noise or noise cancelling devices.
  • Good lifestyle habits create a buffer against stressful situations and slow down the aging process.
  • Take a minute before responding to a negative situation.
  • View stressful situations as challenges.

Review

Are you Fully Charged? The 3 Keys To Energizing Your Work And Life, by Tom Rath, is an easy to read self-help book, a practical guide to life and social interactions. It teaches us how to increase our well-being and make the mots of a bad experience.

Tom Rath has been battling an illness his whole life and as a consequence has the ability to put a positive spin on any situation.

Favorite quote(s)

I have discovered that creating meaning is central not just to my existence but to that of every organization in society today. Businesses, schools, governments, families, and faith-based groups are being challenged more than ever to show how they make a meaningful contribution to society. The essential thing people want in a job today is work that will allow them to create meaning for others.

Work should be more than a necessary means to an end.

The best experiences create memories and well-being that last for years to come.

Ratings 3/5

Author

Tom Rath

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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni defines the five dysfunctions of a team to avoid in order to be successful. He teaches us how to build a team as a leader and how to effectively be part of one.

What is a team?

For Lencioni, a team is a “relatively small number of people (anywhere from three to twelve) that shares common goals as well as the rewards and responsibilities for achieving them. Team members readily set aside their individual or personal needs for the greater good of the group.”

Why build a team?

Patrick Lencioni believes in team work and that it is the ultimate competitive advantage in a company. Effective team work being easy to attain but hard to measure, he judges effective team work by measuring its performance, its results, by its capacity to overcome obstacles and the five dysfunctions model (seen below).

Five dysfunctions of a team Patrick Lencioni.

Overcoming Dysfunction #1

Trust is an uncommon trait in life, is the most important factor in team survivals, is rare and is generally hard to instill. Being a trustful and trustworthy designates a person unafraid to be open, candid, transparent, willing to expose their weaknesses, and admit their failures.

Because of human preservation instincts, because people wear masks to protect themselves and their true feelings, being vulnerable is uncommon and unnatural. People don’t find rewarding to take such risks, to put themselves in harm’s way for other people, for an organization.

Furthermore, lack of trust is a destroyer of team work, multiplies hypocrisy, causes the team to watch their every move, monitor their every word. To overcome this dysfunction, Lencioni suggests that:

  • Building trust takes time but is not impossible.
  • Team members take various personality assessment tests, like the Myers Briggs test, before sharing their story.
  • Team members open up so that everyone can judge them fairer, understand the person that they are today, not expecting that they reveal their darkest secrets or that they get emotional.
  • Leaders create a safe space for their team to speak. Team members generally look to their leaders to show them how to build trust. Leaders have to first put themselves out there without knowing that their behavior will be reciprocated, respected or rewarded.
  • Maintain the bounding experience and pursue the relationships built.

Overcoming Dysfunction #2

In addition to overcoming trust issues, teams must learn to handle conflicts. Conflicts don’t necessarily have to be feuds, quarrels or arguments. Conflicts can also be healthy debates that lead the team to a solution, discussions where people are listening and seriously considering other people points of view. Needless to say, without trust, the debate will easily become a contest.

Conflict is inevitable but must not be avoided. It is either constructive or destructive, and anywhere along that spectrum. It has the benefit to push people out of their emotional comfort zone.

To overcome dysfunction #2, Lencioni proposes to:

  • Assess each and everyone conflict profile before hand. Indeed, everybody handles conflict differently. Therefore, it is essential that everybody knows the way they react and interact during conflict, in order to adjust their behavior in the future.
  • Establish a conflict norm for the team. Conflict norming requires laying down rules of engagement, depicting how to team members should engage with one another, and which behaviors are acceptable.
  • The leader that sets the tone by applying the rules, adapting them to the team members and holding them accountable to the rules.
  • The leader has to moderate conflict, especially in meetings, push the quiet ones out of their comfort zone and temper the aggressive ones. Lack of conflict leads to boring meetings, bad decisions, lack of clarity.

Overcoming Dysfunction #3

A lack of commitment is the third dysfunction to be overcome by teams. Commitment lies in fact that the team buys in a decision whether or not they agree with it. To create clarity and alignment, to avoid assumptions:

  • Leaders must extract every unapologetic ideas from their team. Knowing that all aspects of a situation have been studied, that all opinions have been expressed and considered, team members are more likely to commit to the leader’s decision.
  • Leaders must share their principles, missions, values, goals, purpose and their behavioral expectations, generate consistent business policies.

Overcoming Dysfunction #4

All members of the team, including the team leader, must remain accountable for their actions. They must remind each other of their respectful responsibility, of their behaviors, standards, results and performance. Otherwise, they gradually lose respect for each other, lose morale.

Leaders have to be able to receive critical feedback around their behavior and performance in order to give feedback. To encourage a culture of peer-to-peer accountability, Lencioni suggests that teams must openly:

  • identify the most important behavioral characteristics that contributes to the strength of the team and the ones that weakens it of everyone.
  • know everyone’s area of expertise.
  • in meetings, everyone should verbalize their list of priorities and measure their progress.

Overcoming Dysfunction #5

Self-orientated distractions, individualization are also destroyers of teams. To address this last dysfunction, there is no need to have completely overcome the four previous dysfunctions.

Focusing on collective results implies that team members are not self-interested and not only looking out for number one.

Results are what measure team success and keeps people focused on the priorities. Teams must commit early and openly to their expected results, keep a scoreboard and measure the progress at all times.

Reviews

In Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni shows leaders how to build and optimize their team through practical examples, gradual exercises and valid  assessments such as the Myers Briggs assessment tests.

Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is very insightful and dedicated to toxic environments, to self-disciplined, thoughtful leaders. In order for them to be successful, Lencioni recommends that team members become:

  • More vulnerable with each other, without being touchy-feely or emotional, in order to be successful and to understand each other. It is always difficult to share information about yourself in the workplace because there is always room for manipulation and personal attacks. However, if the exercise succeeds the team is fit to understand the decisions made and actions taken.
  • Masterful at conflicts. This requires that team members assess their strengths and weaknesses, be disciplined enough to control their emotions, be active listeners and seek understanding of others.
  • Committed to the task and to the organization. Creating employee alignment and engagement depends on the leader’s vision and mission statement.
  • Accountable for their actions and behaviors.
  • Focused on results.

Each characteristic can be worked on simultaneously. Of course, the leader has to be the facilitator as well and all expected behaviors have to be modeled on the leader.

After analyzing the 5 different dysfunctions that destroys teams, Lencioni answers additional questions that he received from clients, consultants and executives, replies to the objections of some participants, demonstrates the obstacles to avoid, the ways to convince skeptical leaders, engage uncomfortable people.

At last, Lencioni provides us with tools, questionnaires, team building exercises, road maps, steps to take in order to start and maintain the team building process.

Ratings 4/5

Author

Patrick Lencioni

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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg Mckeown

In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less, Greg Mckeown teaches us to hone our decisions making and time management skills in order to achieve more to do less and to do better, to filter out the noise and distractions, to find out what we really want out of life and pursue our dreams the most effective and disciplined way possible.

The essence of Essentialism

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg Mckeown“Less but better” embodies the ethic of Essentialism. Essentialism is a way of thinking that drives success, that replaces false assumptions that we can do it all, that being busy means being productive, that we must accept every single opportunity that comes our way. Essentialists understand that:

  • They have the ability to choose before they feel helpless and let someone else make decisions for them.
  • Hard work does not necessarily pay off or lead to great results. Essentialists therefore learn to distinguish among all opportunities the best and most appropriate, most essential.
  • Decisions are made by design and not by default. They focus their energy and time on a small portion of activities, and refuse those that achieve their goals.

The exploration and selection process

Essentialists give themselves the liberty to explore everything and anything before making a decisions on what to focus their energy, before committing to one option. To do so, they:

  • Set aside time to think, to focus on different possibilities, to create space for intense concentration, to read, to meditate.
  • Visualize the bigger picture and notice the larger issues that matter.
  • Listen deliberately and observe intensely.
  • Write a journal, with restraint, until it becomes a habit to keep track of the small changes implemented and to memorize the important events and information.
  • Take time to play. In the workplace and in adulthood, playing has become trivial and undermined. However, playing sparks creativity, opens people up to see more possibilities, “challenges old assumptions and makes us more receptive to untested ideas”, alleviates stress, improve overall corporate skills.
  • Make sleep a priority to counter-intuitively remain productive, to increase creativity and sustain a healthy mind.
  • Apply the 90 percent rule, if unsure of a decision, to avoid committing to too many options in our personal and professional lives. “think about the single most important criterion for that decision, and then simply give the option a score between 0 and 100. If you rate it any lower than 90 percent, then automatically change the rating to 0 and simply reject”. For example, the 90 percent rule is useful to hire the right people and make sure that they are fit from the start.
  • Say no to the unwanted opportunities that come your way.
  • Fight the fear of missing out.

The elimination process

Furthermore, Essentialists find the courage, strength and conviction to firmly and resolutely say no to external pressure when they believe it is right and eliminate the nonessentials.

They clarify their goals, their personal and professional mission statements, make them concrete, measurable, meaningful and memorable, identify the activities that align themselves with their mission statements.

Clarifying their goals and missions improves their relationships, their motivation, sense of cooperation, sense of purpose, their jobs, roles. It also helps them focus their energy and time in one direction and therefore increase productivity. In the workplace, employees without a clear mission or values tend to play politics.

Often Nonessentialists are afraid of missing out on an opportunity or are afraid of conflict, of not being conform to expectations, to social norms, but saying no will increase your effectiveness and the respect level. Nonessentialists would be better off if they:

  • Separated the person from their decisions.
  • Found different ways to say no politely but firmly. It is critical to be prepared for reactions of annoyance, disappointment or anger from the other party. However, respect usually replaces those emotions in the long run.
  • Traded the denied nonessential opportunities for better ones.
  • Realized that respect is more valuable than popularity.
  • Exercised discipline to remove distractions, cut their losses and stopped investing time, money and energy in nonessentials, dead-end activities.
  • Broke free from a false sense of ownership to a project and object.
  • Avoided staying somewhere just because they are afraid of wasting time, losing their investment and ownership.
  • Admitted their mistakes.
  • Avoided trying too hard to fit in.
  • Challenged the status quo.
  • Took a break before responding to someone and taking on a new commitment.
  • Set boundaries and viewed them as liberating. Essentialists write down their red flags, deal breakers, lay down their priorities and take heed of negative people.

The execution process

It is critical to come up with a system to execute your essential activities, the right things the right way.

To prepare for wet days or to allocate time to respond to the unexpected, Essentialists create a buffer. The buffer is a contingency plan for difficult circumstances, works as a risk management strategy, ensures some wiggle room to execute their activities. To create a buffer, Essentialists:

  • Accurately estimate the time of the activity by adding half the time that is expected to accomplish your tasks.
  • Identify early all obstacles in their plan and remove them beforehand.
  • Take small steps, increase positive interactions and congratulate themselves and their team for small wins.
  • Design a routine to improve their ability to execute the essentials, to render the process easy and unconscious, to remove obstacles, to save their energy in the long run, to enhance their creativity and innovation.
  • Stay in the present, avoid doing too many thing at once as opposed to doing many things and focusing on one thing at a time.

Favorite quote(s)

the pursuit of success can be a catalyst for failure. Put another way, success can distract us from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place.

Discerning what is essential to explore requires us to be disciplined in how we scan and filter all the competing and conflicting facts, options, and opinions constantly vying for our attention.

By definition, applying highly selective criteria is a trade-off; sometimes you will have to turn down a seemingly very good option and have faith that the perfect option will soon come along.

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.

Review

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg MckeownEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg Mckeown is destined to overachievers, to ambitious people, and to those who feel like they are spread thin in their personal and professional lives.

Indeed, when we want to be successful, we have a tendency of accepting every opportunity that comes to us, we fear that we will be missing out and we worry about everything. Greg Mckeown shows us that we have the power to choose, that it is OK to turn down a mediocre option, with the faith that a better option comes around.

Also, this book administers practical advice, applicable to leaders, illustrated with great examples, and made me realize the number of things that hinder my productivity and my time management.

At last, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less cannot be compared with New Years resolutions but provides a new way of thinking, a new way of life.

Ratings 4/5

Author

Greg Mckeown

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