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Whether you’re a CEO, an intern, or anywhere in between, It can be difficult to stay motivated at work. There are priorities, challenges and distractions. There are people who help you – and perhaps people who hinder you. There are office politics, layoffs, and lost clients to contend with. Even if you have an inspiring boss, mission, and culture, it can be helpful to have your own tools to drive you and inspire you. Here are eight ways I’ve found to get myself in a good place to be productive, at work and in life, when I’m in need of some inspiration:

1) Read a book.

There are thousands of great, time-tested books available for inspiration and motivation. I wrote on LinkedIn about nine great books that have inspired me and changed my life here. I’m currently reading another amazing, timeless, inspirational book that is having a profound impact: How to Win Friends and Influencer People by Dale Carnegie.

2) Write a blog post or letter.

Reading can be very valuable, but writing requires more thinking, and so it can be even more valuable. Write about something you’re passionate about – write about how to solve a problem, or write an article about your business that you wish you had read yourself a year ago. You don’t even need to publish it for writing to be effective. But if you do want to publish it, here’s how to become a better writer.

3) Exercise.

Sometimes you just need to get the blood flowing. Go for a walk, or a run, or a workout. There are two great advantages of exercise: First, it’s healthy for your body. Second, it forces you to spend time thinking – time when you can’t be on your smartphone or otherwise distracted. As little as 15 minutes of movement can burn some calories – and set your mind on fire with new ideas and inspiration.

4) Write a thank you note.

Not a thank you email, or a thank you text, or even a thank you phone call – a physical, hand-written thank you note. Tony Robbins said, “Gratitude is the antidote to the two things that stop us: fear and anger.” I have found that is impossible to feel upset and grateful at the same time. So every morning, I start out my day by writing three thank-you cards. Here’s more about my thank-you card routine.

5) Perform a random act of kindness.

The ironic and amazing thing about acts of kindness is that they end up being kind-of selfish, because you feel SO great after doing them. Open a door for people leaving it for awhile. Help an elderly lady cross the street. Buy a homeless man lunch. Retweet a bunch of people. Whatever you do, take your mind off of yourself and your problems and focus on helping another person. You’ll come back feeling rejuvenated.

6) Read inspiring quotes.

Reading a book or even an article can take more time than you have to spare sometimes. So it’s worth looking at inspiring quotes from great leaders, writers and thinkers of the past. Google makes it easy – simple search for “Inspiring quotes about [whatever it is that’s on your mind],” and feel better within seconds. Here are 25 of my favorite inspirational quotes for leaders.

7) Listen to music.

Plato said, “Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” Looking to educate your soul? Or perhaps just to let off some steam and feel better about the work before you? Turn on your Itunes, or Spotify, YouTube, or even the radio, to elevate your mood through music. Here are 21 songs to inspire you at work– favorites from 21 entrepreneurs I know.

8) Watch an inspiring video.

As inspiring and uplifting as music can be, video can be even more inspiring. Whether it’s your favorite movie, or, if you don’t have time, a short video you find through a quick search on YouTube, you can get in a good mood in just a few minutes. Here are two of my favorite inspirational videos on YouTube, courtesy of “Facing the Giants” and Britain’s Got Talent respectively:

Whether it’s through reading, writing, music, video, or your own virtuous activities, inspiration is absolutely within your reach, anytime you seek it. Whatever challenges lie ahead for you at work, and in life, I hope you’ll embrace these tools to inspire yourself when needed.

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Now it’s your turn. Which of these tools do you use to inspire yourself? What are your favorite inspirational books, songs, quotes, and videos? Which of these tools will you try the next time you’re in need of some inspiration? Let me know in the Comments section below, and please do share this article with your network if you feel so inspired.

 

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130611015532-15077789-8-simple-ways-to-inspire-yourself-at-work?trk=mp-reader-card&_mSplash=1

At Johns Hopkins Medicine, as at many organizations, we take nurturing the next generation of leaders very seriously. But we’ve found that some people who seemed promising as up-and-coming leaders didn’t turn out to be effective in that role, despite what had been stellar careers up until then.

To be sure, this is an unusually demanding environment for leaders, not only because of our high expectations for performance, but also because we expect most of our leaders to have an impact on multiple realms, including health care delivery, research, education and administration—including health care environments outside the U.S.

Plus, having raw leadership potential is by no means a guarantee of success—it just earns a position in the starting gate. In most cases where we found leaders running into trouble, they were actually wrestling with particular challenges that are unique to leadership roles.

The good news is that these challenges can be overcome, especially for organizations and would-be leaders who learn to anticipate these potential traps. Here are the five biggest leadership traps we’ve identified:

1) Focusing on technical skills instead of leadership skills. Candidates for leadership positions often come to the fore by virtue of being very good in some sort of specialized role. At Johns Hopkins they are usually outstanding clinician-researchers or administrative managers, but they could be from any part of the organization. Those skills can continue to come in handy in a leadership role, but they’re not the key skills needed to succeed as a leader. Effective leaders have to loosen their reliance on the skills that have gotten them this far, and develop a new set of skills, such as setting a vision and inspiring others to drive toward that vision, needed to effect organizational change.

2) Not seeing the forest for the trees. Being the leader of an organization requires confronting what might be a large set of challenges, each of them associated with a great deal of information, be it related to operations, finances, marketing, organizational structure, and much more. It’s easy for managers who are moving into leadership roles to be overwhelmed by trying to deal with all of them. Successful leaders take only the most important information from all of the components and synthesize them into the big picture that is the proper focus of a leader.

3) Jumping in too quickly. When someone has earned a leadership position, his or her first instinct is often to act. Jumping right in doesn’t always fail, but it often does. For one thing, people are typically apprehensive about what a new leader might do, and might be apt to view any immediate action as abrasive and ill-thought-out. For another, understanding the true nature of the challenges facing an organization, and of the people who will be implementing the solutions, usually requires time. It’s worth taking that time, and easing into decisive action rather than leaping into it.

4) Trying to get everyone to think the same way. A leader sets the vision, and picks the team to implement that vision. It might seem that the best team is one in which everyone has the same style, approach and understanding of the problem as the leader. But in fact, a team’s strength often comes from a diversity of these elements. If the team perfectly reflects the leader’s thinking, then he or she will be much more prone to going down the wrong path with no one to point it out or bring to bear different approaches and perspective.

5) Not playing the long game. The team has to get measurable results in a reasonably fast time frame, and part of a leader’s job is to hold the team to that. But leaders have to be much more patient with their own progress. If they’re doing their jobs as the setter of organizational vision and driver of significant change, it might be many months or even years before they see the real results of their efforts—and things may well get worse before they get better. That can mean that in the short term many people think they’re not being successful, and become impatient with the apparent lack of results. If the right vision is in place, leaders need to be thick-skinned and trust their decisions, or no one else will. It doesn’t mean the vision is right, but if it’s wrong, it’s trouble no matter what—so faith is important, even during those times when others hesitate to offer it. It’s one of the qualities that separate leaders from followers.

Source: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130613154406-37102839-five-traps-effective-leaders-avoid?trk=tod-home-art-large_0

Inspirational leaders have charisma. People want to hear what they have to say and do what they advise. But can you learn to be inspiring? Sure. Here are three things you can do to build your charisma:

  • Focus on others. Don’t concentrate on what you need and want. Understand what others care about. The more you relate on a human level the better.
  • Put yourself out there. Seek out and engage others. Be upbeat whenever possible so others feel the same way.
  • Communicate you care. Charismatic leaders are verbally expressive. Tell stories. Use concrete examples. Talk about your feelings. All of these things will invoke common ground in an audience.

Source: Harvard Business Review – Management tips of the day

The most successful people in business approach their work differently than most. See how they think–and why it works.

man holding a picture of a blooming tree

I’m fortunate enough to know a number of remarkably successful people. Regardless of industry or profession, they all share the same perspectives and beliefs.

And they act on those beliefs:

1. Time doesn’t fill me. I fill time.

Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but typically not in a good way. The average person who is given two weeks to complete a task will instinctively adjust his effort so it actually takes two weeks.

Forget deadlines, at least as a way to manage your activity. Tasks should only take as long as they need to take. Do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Then use your “free” time to get other things done just as quickly and effectively.

Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time.

2. The people around me are the people I chose.

Some of your employees drive you nuts. Some of your customers are obnoxious. Some of your friends are selfish, all-about-me jerks.

You chose them. If the people around you make you unhappy it’s not their fault. It’s your fault. They’re in your professional or personal life because you drew them to you–and you let them remain.

Think about the type of people you want to work with. Think about the types of customers you would enjoy serving. Think about the friends you want to have.

Then change what you do so you can start attracting those people. Hardworking people want to work with hardworking people. Kind people like to associate with kind people. Remarkable employees want to work for remarkable bosses.

Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.

3. I have never paid my dues.

Dues aren’t paid, past tense. Dues get paid, each and every day. The only real measure of your value is the tangible contribution you make on a daily basis.

No matter what you’ve done or accomplished in the past, you’re never too good to roll up your sleeves, get dirty, and do the grunt work.  No job is ever too menial, no task ever too unskilled or boring.

Remarkably successful people never feel entitled–except to the fruits of their labor.

4. Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything.

You have “10 years in the Web design business.” Whoopee. I don’t care how long you’ve been doing what you do. Years of service indicate nothing; you could be the worst 10-year programmer in the world.

I care about what you’ve done: how many sites you’ve created, how many back-end systems you’ve installed, how many customer-specific applications you’ve developed (and what kind)… all that matters is what you’ve done.

Successful people don’t need to describe themselves using hyperbolic adjectives like passionate, innovative, driven, etc. They can just describe, hopefully in a humble way, what they’ve done.

5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn’t just happen to me.

Ask people why they have been successful. Their answers will be filled with personal pronouns: I, me, and the sometimes too occasional we.

Ask them why they failed. Most will revert to childhood and instinctively distance themselves, like the kid who says, “My toy got broken…” instead of, “I broke my toy.”

They’ll say the economy tanked. They’ll say the market wasn’t ready. They’ll say their suppliers couldn’t keep up.

They’ll say it was someone or something else.

And by distancing themselves, they don’t learn from their failures.

Occasionally something completely outside your control will cause you to fail. Most of the time, though, it’s you. And that’s okay. Every successful person has failed. Numerous times. Most of them have failed a lot more often than you. That’s why they’re successful now.

Embrace every failure: Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out differently.

6. Volunteers always win.

Whenever you raise your hand you wind up being asked to do more.

That’s great. Doing more is an opportunity: to learn, to impress, to gain skills, to build new relationships–to do something more than you would otherwise been able to do.

Success is based on action. The more you volunteer, the more you get to act. Successful people step forward to create opportunities.

Remarkably successful people sprint forward.

7. As long as I’m paid well, it’s all good.

Specialization is good. Focus is good. Finding a niche is good.

Generating revenue is great.

Anything a customer will pay you a reasonable price to do–as long as it isn’t unethical, immoral, or illegal–is something you should do. Your customers want you to deliver outside your normal territory? If they’ll pay you for it, fine. They want you to add services you don’t normally include? If they’ll pay you for it, fine. The customer wants you to perform some relatively manual labor and you’re a high-tech shop? Shut up, roll ’em up, do the work, and get paid.

Only do what you want to do and you might build an okay business. Be willing to do what customers want you to do and you can build a successful business.

Be willing to do even more and you can build a remarkable business.

And speaking of customers…

8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do.

Get over your cocky, pretentious, I-must-be-free-to-express-my-individuality self. Be that way on your own time.

The people who pay you, whether customers or employers, earn the right to dictate what you do and how you do it–sometimes down to the last detail.

Instead of complaining, work to align what you like to do with what the people who pay you want you to do.

Then you turn issues like control and micro-management into non-issues.

9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.

Everyone says they go the extra mile. Almost no one actually does. Most people who go there think, “Wait… no one else is here… why am I doing this?” and leave, never to return.

That’s why the extra mile is such a lonely place.

That’s also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities.

Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment. Don’t wait to be asked; offer. Don’t just tell employees what to do–show them what to do and work beside them.

Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do–especially if other people aren’t doing that one thing. Sure, it’s hard.

But that’s what will make you different.

And over time, that’s what will make you incredibly successful

Source: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/9-beliefs-of-remarkably-successful-people.html

The Six Enemies of Greatness (and Happiness)
These six factors can erode the grandest of plans and the noblest of intentions. They can turn visionaries into paper-pushers and wide-eyed dreamers into shivering, weeping balls of regret. Beware!

1) Availability

We often settle for what’s available, and what’s available isn’t always great. “Because it was there,” is an okay reason to climb a mountain, but not a very good reason to take a job or a free sample at the supermarket.

And sadly, we'll never know everything.

2) Ignorance

If we don’t know how to make something great, we simply won’t. If we don’t know that greatness is possible, we won’t bother attempting it. All too often, we literally do not know any better than good enough.

3) Committees

Nothing destroys a good idea faster than a mandatory consensus. The lowest common denominator is never a high standard.

4) Comfort

Why pursue greatness when you’ve already got 324 channels and a recliner? Pass the dip and forget about your grand designs.

5) Momentum

If you’ve been doing what you’re doing for years and it’s not-so-great, you are in a rut. Many people refer to these ruts as careers.

6) Passivity

There’s a difference between being agreeable and agreeing to everything. Trust the little internal voice that tells you, “this is a bad idea.”

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jessicahagy/2012/02/28/the-six-enemies-of-greatness-and-happiness/

Stick to this list and your employees will be committed to their jobs, as well as your company

Company CultureBuilding a company culture of engaged employees takes years and requires consistent execution.  I boiled down our culture strategy into 10 essential components I call the “10 Cs of Culture.”

1. Core Values

I used to be very cynical about “core values.”  I thought these were just mottos written on plaques hanging on the wall.  But when we implemented our values strategy at Beryl about 10 years ago, I began to see how they guided everyday decision-making and how employees referenced them in meetings.  I came to realize they are essential guideposts when developed, communicated, and executed in a consistent manner.  Values are those behaviors that will never change no matter how the company changes.  Today, our values are not only painted on the walls, but also discussed from the first day an employee joins Beryl.  We start every big meeting with a conversation about values and tell stories about how our coworkers live by those values on a daily basis.

2. Camaraderie

Camaraderie is about having fun.  It’s about getting to know colleagues not just as colleagues, but what they’re like outside the office.  To do that, Beryl hosts dress-up days, parties, games, and events all the time.  We have annual traditions like family day, the Gong show, March Madness, the fall festival, and a holiday party.  We include not only employees, but also their families.  We publish a bi-monthly full-color magazine called Beryl Life that is sent to the homes of co-workers.  Kids of our employees compete to design the t-shirt for our annual family day and families even participate in our talent show

3. Celebrations

You can’t underestimate the importance of recognizing your team.  While it may be important for your people to hear from the CEO, it also feels great for them to hear from peers.  At Beryl, we developed a program we call PRIDE (Peers Recognizing Individual Deeds of Excellence).  This allows coworkers to recognize others for living up to Beryl’s core values.  We also have quarterly contests for people who have received PRIDE certificates.  We go out of our way to celebrate personal successes too, like baby showers, sports accomplishments, or educational milestones.

4. Community

Part of the fabric of a successful company culture is connecting with and giving back to the local community.  Even though Beryl is a national company serving national customers, we have dedicated countless hours to community service in Bedford, Texas (where Beryl is based) to help those in need.  This not only helps the organization’s Beryl support, but brings great pride to staffers.

5. Communication

At Beryl, I encourage formal and informal communication consistently and at all levels of the company.  I hold quarterly Town Hall meetings, which includes six meetings over two days.  This is a challenge since Beryl is a 24-hour call center; we make money being on the phone, not off it.  Yet I also have informal “chat and chews” where I bring in lunch for 12 to 15 people and just ask one question–How’s it going?–to get the conversation started.  I send a monthly personal letter to the staff with pictures of my family, and set up an internal website called “Ask Paul” for anyone that has a question not easy to share in a group.

6. Caring

Show your employees you genuinely care about them in the totality of their lives.  To do this at Beryl, we set up a program called BerylCares.  Any manager can explain a situation on an internal website that identifies a coworker, and lists what’s going on (birth, death, injury, wedding, among other things).  That submission generates an email to me that is my trigger to send a personal notecard, make a phone call, or visit someone in a hospital.  We also provide behind-the-scenes financial help to people who need extra assistance.

7. Commitment to Learning

Show your employees you’re committed to their professional growth. This can be done in small, incremental steps. You might set up a book club, say. But it can become more formal over time by subscribing to online learning programs or developing management training courses.  

8. Consistency

Culture is based on traditions.  When you come up with great programs or events, make them regular events and do them consistently. One-time efforts to improve the culture will feel disingenuous.  This can take years, but makes a profound difference, that pays off when employees enjoy where they work and genuinely like their colleagues.

9. Connect

Don’t isolate yourself at the top.  Connect with people at all levels of your company.  Get out of your comfort zone.  At Beryl, I’ve starred in funny videos that put me in uncompromising or embarrassing positions.  If the staff plans a dress-up day or ping-pong tournament, I participate.  I laugh and cry with employees, too.

10. Chronicles

Does everyone in your organization know how the company started?  Do they know the personal stories of the founders and what led them to build a sustainable business?  People want to know they are part of something special and unique.  Greet new employees by telling the history of the company, and impart stories that led to current culture and strategies.

Source: http://www.inc.com/paul-spiegelman/great-company-culture-elements.html

You’re the boss, but you still spend too much time on the day-to-day. Here’s how to become the strategic leader your company needs.

In the beginning, there was just you and your partners. You did every job. You coded, you met with investors, you emptied the trash and phoned in the midnight pizza. Now you have others to do all that and it’s time for you to “be strategic.”

Whatever that means.

If you find yourself resisting “being strategic,” because it sounds like a fast track to irrelevance, or vaguely like an excuse to slack off, you’re not alone. Every leader’s temptation is to deal with what’s directly in front, because it always seems more urgent and concrete. Unfortunately, if you do that, you put your company at risk. While you concentrate on steering around potholes, you’ll miss windfall opportunities, not to mention any signals that the road you’re on is leading off a cliff.

This is a tough job, make no mistake. “We need strategic leaders!” is a pretty constant refrain at every company, large and small. One reason the job is so tough: no one really understands what it entails. It’s hard to be a strategic leader if you don’t know what strategic leaders are supposed to do.

After two decades of advising organizations large and small, my colleagues and I have formed a clear idea of what’s required of you in this role. Adaptive strategic leaders — the kind who thrive in today’s uncertain environment – do six things well:

Anticipate 

Most of the focus at most companies is on what’s directly ahead. The leaders lack “peripheral vision.” This can leave your company vulnerable to rivals who detect and act on ambiguous signals. To anticipate well, you must:

  • Look for game-changing information at the periphery of your industry
  • Search beyond the current boundaries of your business
  • Build wide external networks to help you scan the horizon better

Think Critically

“Conventional wisdom” opens you to fewer raised eyebrows and second guessing. But if you swallow every management fad, herdlike belief, and safe opinion at face value, your company loses all competitive advantage. Critical thinkers question everything. To master this skill you must force yourself to:

  • Reframe problems to get to the bottom of things, in terms of root causes
  • Challenge current beliefs and mindsets, including their own
  • Uncover hypocrisy, manipulation, and bias in organizational decisions

Interpret 

Ambiguity is unsettling. Faced with it, the temptation is to reach for a fast (and potentially wrongheaded) solution.  A good strategic leader holds steady, synthesizing information from many sources before developing a viewpoint. To get good at this, you have to:

  • Seek patterns in multiple sources of data
  • Encourage others to do the same
  • Question prevailing assumptions and test multiple hypotheses simultaneously

Decide

Many leaders fall pretty to “analysis paralysis.” You have to develop processes and enforce them, so that you arrive at a “good enough” position. To do that well, you have to:

  • Carefully frame the decision to get to the crux of the matter
  • Balance speed, rigor, quality and agility. Leave perfection to higher powers
  • Take a stand even with incomplete information and amid diverse views

 Align

Total consensus is rare. A strategic leader must foster open dialogue, build trust and engage key stakeholders, especially when views diverge.  To pull that off, you need to:

  • Understand what drives other people’s agendas, including what remains hidden
  • Bring tough issues to the surface, even when it’s uncomfortable
  • Assess risk tolerance and follow through to build the necessary support

Learn

As your company grows, honest feedback is harder and harder to come by.  You have to do what you can to keep it coming. This is crucial because success and failure–especially failure–are valuable sources of organizational learning.  Here’s what you need to do:

  • Encourage and exemplify honest, rigorous debriefs to extract lessons
  • Shift course quickly if you realize you’re off track
  • Celebrate both success and (well-intentioned) failures that provide insight

Source: http://www.inc.com