Positively Delivering Constructive Feedback

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Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

We are approaching the season of performance reviews and feedback. If you manage people, you will likely be called upon to evaluate those you lead. How will you deliver feedback? The tone and temperament with which you give feedback will significantly influence your brand among your bosses, subordinates and peers.

Recently, at the Decatur Book Festival, I had the opportunity to see two authors, my colleague, Debby Stone (The Art of Self Promotion – Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career) and Sandy Jap (Partnering with the Frenemy – A Framework for Managing Business Relationships, Minimizing Conflict, and Achieving Partnership Success) who articulated important aspects of feedback in their panel on Crucial Conversations. As the authors navigated the topics of effective self-promotion and the dark side of business relationships and the individuals who drive them, a recurring theme came through. Simply put, the question was, “how do I positively communicate the negative?” In essence, what are some ways to effectively navigate and communicate feedback in challenging workplace relationships and environments?

As you might have guessed, this is easier said than done, and we all can think of situations we have been in where we wished we had given feedback better.

You probably have heard the phrase, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.” While this sounds like good advice at first glance, if your goal is to provide others with meaningful and actionable feedback, in reality, this advice is not going to be valuable. Providing high impact feedback requires these key ingredients:

1. Go in with the intent to help the employee’s growth and development, not the intent to show the individual what is wrong. The feedback should build up, not drain, the employee’s motivation and resources for change. Communicate in a manner that builds confidence.

2. When preparing for a feedback conversation, reflect on what you hope to achieve and on what impact you’d like to have on the employee – their takeaway. Practice this!

3. Openness and authenticity on the part of the feedback giver is critical to creating a connection that facilitates change. If you start off accusatory, dominating and self-protective, your employee will match that energy. Model a presence and demeanor that is worth imitating so your employee can internalize this grace and in turn model it throughout the organization.

4. Invite the employee into the problem-solving process. You can ask questions such as: What ideas do you have? What are you taking away from this conversation? What steps will you take, by when, and how will I know? Powerful questions that encourage ownership on the part of the receiver of feedback have a profound impact on accountability.

Giving feedback – positively communicating the negative – is a critical skill to master. Effective mastery and modeling by leaders can make the difference between an employee who contributes powerfully and positively to the organization and one who feels diminished by the organization and contributes far less or leaves. Remember, a single conversation can switch an employee on or shut the individual down. As Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Leadership Agility: A Key Component to Career Success

Submitted by Dan Sheedy.

Leadership AgilityLeadership Agility is a hot concept we have been seeing, hearing and reading more about over the past several years. In today’s complex, unpredictable, volatile and fast-paced business environment leaders are expected to handle anything and everything that is thrown their way. This environment demands a leader who is flexible, adaptable and skilled at managing diverse objectives, strategies, people and priorities without sacrificing performance or results.

In fact, many thought leaders say that leadership agility is the key ingredient that will define the next generation of leaders – no longer an optional ability but a necessary competency to master for sustained success. Significantly, the growing body of research into the topic has estimated that only 10% of leaders and managers have mastered the level of agility necessary to achieve consistent effectiveness and navigate today’s volatile environment. Put simply, Leadership Agility is the ability to anticipate or adapt and learn from unpredictable circumstances and environments in ways that benefit yourself and others. In seeking to better understand the concept and development of leadership agility, I turned to some research conducted jointly by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) and Columbia University to provide a framework for initial consideration. Their work looks at four factors that enable agility and one factor that impedes agility.

Enablers:

Innovating– This enabler involves questioning the status quo and challenging long held assumptions with the goal of finding new ways and processes to bring about change. Innovators have high idea productivity and migrate towards challenges and knowledge expansion. Are you someone who challenges the status quo in developing strategies or seeking solutions to organizational problems?

Performing– This enabler centers on learning from experience while remaining present and engaged in the face of adapting to the ambiguity of the environment. This factor requires excellent observation and listening skills, combined with the ability to process large amounts of data and nimbly act upon it. Are you able to meet the challenges of an unknown, shifting environment but learn new skills in the process to apply in the future?

Reflecting– This enabler considers the fact that just because you have an experience doesn’t mean you have learned from it. This factor focuses on your ability to seek, take and accept feedback; processing this information to gain greater insight into your own assumptions and behavior. Do you confidently seek feedback about your work or actions regarding how you have performed or affected outcomes in your organization?

Risking– The final enabler is that of taking risks. Risking involves putting yourself out there into the unknown, out of your comfort zone. This is pioneering or volunteering to take on a role that doesn’t have known outcomes or success attached. This component is the ability to take progressive, calculated risks that can change the trajectory of you and your organization. What are your thoughts when considering risk? Laura Overstreet Biering’s, The RiskADay Journal: 28 Days to Being You Out Loud with Courage, Creativity and Confidence offers a great tool kit to get you started on thinking about and developing this enabler.

Impeder:

Defending– This impeder is the inability to be open and accepting of experience. Such openness is fundamental to learning. Some individuals become closed, shut down or become defensive when given critical feedback or when they are challenged. Defending gets in the way of the enabling behaviors listed above since it stifles learning. Additionally, it has also been characterized as a potential career derailer (behaviors that cause individuals not to be promoted or to stall out for long periods in their careers) in work conducted CCL.

As an agile leader you can take your team and your company from good to great. Individuals with leadership agility are focused, confident and driven to lead. While it is true that not all of the factors are always exhibited all at once, it is believed that all must be present for an individual to be considered an agile leader.

So what can you do to develop leadership agility? Practice! Be curious. Listen. Reflect. Ask for feedback. Break out of your comfort zone thinking and take a calculated risk. These are all steps that can help you succeed in a business environment that rewards the focused, fast and flexible – the agile. Are you ready?

Tell Your Story in the Fourth Quarter and Beyond

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

calendar-97868_1280As the fourth quarter comes to a close all of us have a measure of excitement, angst and transition in our work lives. Year-end sales goals, projects, performance reviews, promotions and career transitions dominate our thinking. The theme I hear across all of these scenarios is, “How do I tell my story?” “How do I tell my story so that my business development efforts succeed?” “How do I tell my story so that my performance is recognized and valued in the organization?” “How do I tell my story so that I can transition to a new role in my company or with a new organization?”

Effective storytelling is a theme that unites the people who advance in their chosen careers. Career advancement isn’t based solely on luck or education. Those whose careers are on an upward trajectory know how to tell their stories effectively. They know how to self-promote.

Self-promotion is an often talked about but mostly misunderstood differentiator in what makes careers successful. People tend to go to one extreme or the other. On one end you have the braggart or arrogant person whose bravado turns off anyone who might want to help, build or change that person’s career. On the other end is the timid or unaware person who has so much difficulty telling his story that most would not even think he was trying to advance his career. I have talked to many leaders who believe self-promotion to be a key ingredient to career success. How they developed it, however, was a mystery until now.

The Art of Self-PromotionMy colleague, Debby Stone, tackles the subject in her new book, The Art of Self-Promotion: Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career. Stone’s work provides a framework and actionable suggestions that enable professionals at any level to develop an engaging, authentic self-promotion story — a story that interests everyone they encounter including peers, bosses, prospects and clients. Importantly, she defines the fundamentals of self-promotion: What it is – Telling your story, confidence, positivity, authenticity, creating curiosity; and What it is not – Selling yourself, putting on a persona, arrogance, bragging, embellishing the truth.

She starts with looking at the mindsets (mostly negative) we have regarding self-promotion. She then challenges us and gives us tools to shift these mindsets and get past the negative images (the over-promoter) and roadblocks (it’s uncomfortable) that self-promotion holds for so many professionals. The takeaway for everyone is a confidence that moves us beyond the flawed beliefs that everything will work out fairly, that our good work will speak for itself and that self-promotion is socially unacceptable.

The bottom line is we have to tell our stories effectively to achieve the success we desire. Most likely we are not nearly as effective as we think we are. To master the art of self-promotion we must shift our mindsets and adopt the “mindsets of the masters” as Stone puts it. I encourage you to explore the core beliefs of these masters so you can be prepared to position your efforts and achieve results – not only in the fourth quarter but in the years to come!

Building Character, Spotlighting Integrity

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

Tree ShadowCharacter and Integrity rarely grow when everything in life goes our way.  Instead it is our response to life’s challenges that forges our character and spotlights our integrity. I used both character and integrity here because the need for both shows up in our lives every day.  They are not the same thing.  While the words are often used interchangeably, knowing and living the difference can have a powerful effect on how we show up every day and ultimately how we lead.

Think about it.  What happens to your character when things don’t go as planned?”  How do you react when the pressure is on, when you have to perform or when you feel you are under attack? Have you ever “cut a corner” on a project, or justified a behavior because everyone else does it?   Your responses to these situations in life are what refines and defines your character and spotlights your integrity.

The word integrity evolved from the Latin word integer, meaning whole or complete. Used in this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” we have, deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency.  It literally means having “wholeness,” just as an integer is a “whole number” with no fractional parts.  Integrity has to do with what or how you do things.  Having integrity means having excellence in what you do and doing the right thing in a reliable way.

Integrity is a trait that we admire.   In fact, if you look at the mission, vision, or values statements that corporations post on their websites, you’ll notice that many companies include a statement about integrity.  Look at the website of the organization in which you work.  Is the word integrity in there somewhere?

While integrity is important, it is not the same as character.  What is the difference?  There are millions of people all over the world who are excellent in what they do, and even do great things. They show integrity, but they may or may not have character.   Character is who you are.  It defines you and guides your actions, hopefully in a positive way. A person of character is a person who not only lives right in front of other people, but lives right when no one else is looking.

Integrity focuses on the outward appearance; my actions and my works represent who I am.   Think again of the mission, vision or values statements- all outward focused.  Integrity is very important but the reality is that all of us face integrity-based choices regularly. Do we tell customers everything about our products? Do we reveal everything during due diligence? Is it acceptable to hide certain aspects of our background in a resume? What’s considered a legitimate expense on a business trip? How much of what you call billable time is really devoted to a client? How honest should you be when giving feedback to your boss or subordinate? None of these situations has clear answers.  No corporate policy covers every situation. The result is that no matter what choice we make, we convince ourselves that our choice was made with integrity.  But were these decisions of “good character?”

Character focuses on the inward condition. The word is derived from the ancient Greek word “charaktêr,” meaning an impression in a coin.  It later became a term used to describe how we differentiated one thing from another, ultimately coming to represent the qualities that define and differentiate a person.   Character means that who I am determines what I do. It is often said that building character is a project that is never complete.

Character is not situational and building character takes time — carving out an unwavering ethical and moral strength of the individual, as well as attributes and abilities that will ultimately correspond to life choices.  If we pursue and build character, integrity will be a natural byproduct of the way we live. Simply put, if I am a person of character then I will naturally be a person of integrity.  Integrity-based choices will become easier to navigate.  Abraham Lincoln had this view of character when he said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

So, how do you react when things don’t go as planned?  When you are under fire?  When the pressure is on to perform or an unclear corporate policy is your only guide?  I challenge you to build your character thought by thought and action by action, putting a spotlight on your integrity.  This is a bright light that can illuminate you as a person and shine at all levels of your organization – a beacon of ethical leadership others will seek to emulate.

What will you do today to make this happen?

The Payoff Principle: A Lifetime of Payoffs

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

Imagine yourself creating a lifetime of payoffs: happiness, success, significance – a life of abundance, both personally and professionally. We all want it! We all want to become producers. We all want to be that person who makes things happen by design rather than default.

In this column, I’ve spent the past month exploring the components of Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s formula The Payoff Principle (Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff) and the mindset change needed to move from “good enough” to extraordinary. As a refresher, The Payoff Principle works like this: “When you find purpose in what you do, exhibit passion for the outcome, and master the process to make it happen, you produce the payoffs you want, need and deserve.” You become a producer.

American psychiatrist Scott Peck said in The Road Less Traveled, “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you won’t do anything with it.” The key to getting the formula to work for you and getting what you really want is valuing yourself and your time. Then you must do something with it by taking action.

Taking action means integrating all three components into your life. No half-efforts will work. Your level of success will be determined by your level of effort. Why? Think of someone you know (it might be you) who works really hard, puts in long hours, but has no purpose in his life. A person with no clearly defined purpose is usually unsatisfied, unfulfilled and meanders thru life, putting in time versus valuing time.

What about a person with great vision and dreams but little enduring passion. Without the attitude, perseverance, and character required of the fire of passion, the flame burns out and she will quit before she can experience the payoffs she seeks.

Finally, what about the person who is intentional and has the drive but lacks process, the tools that turn intention and drive into reality? Without process results don’t come because we are not learning, communicating and listening. We’re always chasing the next great idea. Think of it as the “grass is greener” mindset. That mentality has us neglect watering our own garden. Ultimately this leads to regret and “if only I had…” in our professional and personal lives. What can you learn and do to fill your toolbox of process?

You now see the importance of integrating all three components to unlock the power of The Payoff Principle and that leads to likely the most important question. When do I implement this into my life? The answer is now! Now means now, not “as soon as I….” or “after I am finished with this project….” or “when I start my new job….”

In my executive coaching work, I have found that people who take the “as soon as I…” approach are always waiting on someone or something else to happen to get started on their goals. They are waiting for something outside of them to happen so they can begin to take action. They are creating excuses and living life by default. I’ve done it. We all have. The result is always the same—unfulfilled and unsatisfied lives; years of not achieving our desires and dreams. We owe it to ourselves to put ourselves on a path to a new and complete self—in our careers, communities and homes.

The Payoff Principle provides a formula that guides your progress to success and achieving your dreams and desires. There is never a perfect time to make changes in our lives. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” The first step here is that progress, not perfection is what is required to change your mindset and move from “good enough” to extraordinary – to being a producer reaping a lifetime of payoffs.

What will you do today to make this happen?

The Payoff Principle: On Passion

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.  Don’t miss previous parts of this series – The Payoff Principle: Producers Wanted! and The Payoff Principle: On Purpose

6cb3e4a59d720b063bc775b1948004a7Once you’ve decided to live a life of purpose and on purpose, you need the power of passion to ignite that purpose. What is passion? The Urban Dictionary says “Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible.”

In Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s book, The Payoff Principle, the power of passion (Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff) is the ingredient necessary to excite you so that you are motivated to achieve the goals and dreams you desire. You must have the power of passion working for you. In fact, Swiss philosopher and poet Henri Frederic Amiel said “Without passion, man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.”

Think of passion as your inner fire! Passion is the energy that pushes marathon runners over the finish line, that keeps developers up all night developing a new app, writers looking for the next word, and Doctors Without Borders persevering when tasks are unpleasant around the world. Having a healthy abundant passion is a key. Without it you’ll run out of energy long before your actions yield the desired result.

Zig Ziglar said, “When you catch a glimpse of your potential, that’s when passion is born.” Stop searching for passion in some external explanation or proof, and promise yourself that you will choose to work on what fires you up inside. Once you make that choice, passion is born.

After passion born, however, how do you keep the fire going? Dr. Zimmerman explores three components needed for the fire to burn and produce ignited passion.

1. Attitude – A fire needs something to burn and attitude represents the fuel in the fire of passion. Your attitude—your positive attitude—is the fuel needed to ignite the fire. Without an “I can” attitude, the fire dies and the passion goes away. How does your attitude show up in your life on a daily basis? You are in charge of your attitude and how it serves you in every aspect of your life.

2. Persistence – To keep a fire burning, oxygen is needed, and persistence is the oxygen in the fire of passion. Persistence is absolutely necessary to get the payoffs you desire. Vince Lombardi noted, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” Persistence is the tenacity to keep going, to preserve in the face of obstacles and accomplish your dreams and desires, achieving the life you envisioned. Have you developed persistence to overcome resistance? Do you go the extra mile in all you do?

3. Character – All fires need to be contained and this is true with the fire of passion. Without a fire ring of character to contain and guide the fire, the fire can burn out of control, and relationships, reputations, and lives can be damaged. This is the tug-of-war in many corporate cultures between sales and compliance. Benjamin Franklin said, “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” Do you have a fire ring holding the reins of your passion? Are you staying between the lines and acting out of character in your business and personal life? Have you put in place guardrails that guide your words and deeds? You have to be absolutely clear about your values and what you stand for. The content and expression of your character is your choice. Choose wisely and it becomes easy to do the right thing, which in turn delivers the payoff of trust and respect.

The power of purpose begins the journey and provides direction to the payoff of becoming a producer. The power of passion ignites the fire behind the payoff. Next, we will explore the power of process, the final of component that turns your vision and drive into reality.

What will you do today to make this happen?

The Payoff Principle: On Purpose

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.  Don’t miss part one of this series – The Payoff Principle: Producers Wanted!

welcome-new-employees-233x233The book, The Payoff Principle by Dr. Alan Zimmerman, begins with the power of purpose (Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff). Having a clear purpose, a ‘why’, is the starting point in figuring out how to design your life, bring out your best, and achieve the goals that excite you. German philosopher, Frederick Nietzche, had this in mind when he said, “He who has a why can endure any how.”

Only when you know your ‘why’ will you find the courage to take the risks needed to move forward, stay motivated, persevere when obstacles arise, and move your life to a new, more challenging, more rewarding trajectory. A clear sense of purpose enables you to focus your efforts on what matters most, moving from ordinary to extraordinary. Research has shown that having the power of purpose results in better health, motivation and satisfaction. The question that always arises is this: How do I discover, define and clarify my purpose?

A great place to start is to establish the mindset of ‘A life of purpose is a life lived on purpose.’ Living on purpose requires intentionality, direction and discipline. In The Payoff Principle, Dr. Zimmerman challenges people to ask themselves, “What do I really, REALLY want from my life,” as the basis of discovering their purpose. He goes on to build a three-legged stool of discovering your purpose with these three primary questions:

1. What are you good at? Natural ability, dominant gifts, positive responses to your work, satisfaction and ease are components to consider. If it doesn’t feel like work, if it motivates you, and if it stirs perseverance and satisfaction, you are on the right path!

2. What excites you? What do you dream about doing every day? What stirs passion inside of you? What do you love to spend time doing? What motivates you and drives your optimal productivity? What makes you emotionally satisfied? Your answers build a leg in the stool that will impact every area of your life and those around you.

3. What difference do you want to make? How do you want to influence the world around you? Making a difference requires focus in at least one aspect your life of work, family, community to move from success to significance. The great thing is you choose and can start living your purpose today.

Combining the answers to all three primary questions is necessary to discovering, defining and clarifying your purpose. Once you have found your purpose, living on purpose is critical to achieve the payoffs you want and deserve. Living on purpose means living intentionally, with direction. It means listening to wise counsel and not only those that tell you what you want to hear. It means pausing and reflecting on your actions and decisions and how those actions and decisions affect your sphere of influence. It means engaging in purposeful activities every day to demonstrate your commitment—first to yourself and then to those you interact with.

If you’ve now decided to live an extraordinary life, a purpose-filled life, then it’s time to take the next step described in The Payoff Principle. That is where the power of passion, the fuel in your engine of purpose, comes in to living on purpose, with intention and direction in all you do.

What will you do today to make this happen?

The Payoff Principle: Producers Wanted!

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

welcome-new-employees-233x233Producers Wanted! How many times have we seen this on signs, in print, or other media? Companies are always searching for people that produce; people that make things happen. Are you a producer? If not, you may want to ask yourself how you can become one.

Becoming a producer is an important skill to learn. Vietnamese Clergyman Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.” If we are to live our lives by design rather than default, we need to position ourselves to become producers; to become someone who makes things happen.

How do you become a producer? Are there steps? A guidebook? Is it easy? The answer is yes and no. There is a process, but one that takes time, energy and attention (TEA) to accomplish. If you work through the process, you benefit both professionally and personally.

I recently spoke with Dr. Alan Zimmerman, a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame and author of several books focusing on attitude, communication, and leadership. We talked about his newly released book, The Payoff Principle, that tackles’ the question of becoming a producer. In fact, he explores the development and building of producers through a formula he calls The Payoff Principle.

To quote The Payoff Principle, it works like this: “When you find purpose in what you do, exhibit passion for the outcome, and master the process to make it happen, you produce the payoffs you want, need and deserve.” You become a producer!

Think of your results in each of these areas (purpose, passion and process) as you look to attain success and happiness in your career and personal life. Do you have a purpose – a why statement? How do you articulate your purpose to others? Do you exhibit passion and fire for the outcomes you desire? How does this passion show up in your interactions with colleagues, friends and family? Have you mastered the processes of making things happen (continuing education, effective communication, compassionate listening) that can turn your desired payoffs into reality?

In his 30 years of research, Alan Zimmerman discovered that a combination of these three areas is necessary to achieve all you desire. In fact, leaving out even one of the three components of the formula usually leads to falling short of our desired goals. As you consider and answer these questions you are likely thinking that they are hard, that it’s not worth bothering with them or that you can always focus on them later when you have more time. Facing the future with anticipation vs. apprehension, taking responsibility and acting are the keys to success. If you want to create the future you desire, the time to start is now!

Over the next several weeks I am going to dig into the components of The Payoff Principle and demonstrate why and how this simple formula when applied to, integrated within, and acted upon in our lives can give us the payoffs we desire. Join me on this journey and be prepared to ask yourself the powerful questions needed to explore how you think, act, respond in your quest to turn your desires into reality. When you do, the next time you see Producers Wanted! you will know that you are a producer both professionally and personally.

What will you do today to make this happen?

TIME: Energy and Your Success Roadmap

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

Time for SuccessOver the past month we have explored success via legs of the table of TIME (Tenacity, Intentionality, Message, and Energy) and the change in mindset required to move from “I need more time” to “TIME is on my side.” Energy is the catalyst that builds and the glue that holds the table together.

Be sure to read all of the parts that make up TIME:
Success: It’s About TIME!
TIME (Part 2): First, It’s About Tenacity
TIME (Part 3): Intentionality, with Direction
TIME (Part 4): Your Message

What kind of energy do you bring to your life, to the things that are important to you, and to those around you? Your answer to this question, and the enthusiasm and passion with which you express it, is the energy that forms the final leg of the table of TIME. You need to bring energy, and the right kind of energy, to your desired goals, priorities and relationships to make them a reality. Merely showing up, going through the motions, or working more is never the answer. In fact, this method often saps the very energy one needs to achieve success. Let’s look at Energy in more depth.

In their book, The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz proclaim that most of us are chasing the wrong resource: hours in the day. Instead, we should focus on something entirely different: our energy.

According to Loehr and Schwartz, our energy can be broken down into 4 different elements:

• Your physical energy – how healthy are you?

• Your emotional energy – how happy are you?

• Your mental energy – how well can you focus on something?

• Your spiritual energy – why are you doing all of this? What is your purpose?

The order in which these four energy types appear is not random. Loehr and Schwartz give them this specific order to guide us through developing our energies in the right way.

Your physical energy – how healthy are you?

Your physical energy naturally serves as the base. It is going to be very tough to build out your other energies without taking care of your body first. Generally, however, physical energy is the most discounted element in our day-to-day lives. What are you doing to build and sustain your physical energy?

Your emotional energy- how happy are you?

Emotional energy is an aliveness of the mind, a happiness of the heart, and a spirit filled with hope. Emotional energy has a specific feel. It’s a sense of being up, happy, forward-looking, resilient, optimistic, and in touch with the creative, generous, hopeful self. Emotional energy means you can ride out any storm. Emotional energy is what we need to keep going happily and hopefully through all the difficulties and opportunities life has to offer. Is this a description you would want for yourself? What would it take to make this a reality?

Your mental energy- how well can you focus on something?

Mental energy is our ability to focus. Sir Julian Huxley defines mental energy as “the driving force of psyche, emotional as well as intellectual.” In fact, numerous studies over the past 25 years have found mental effort/energy can be measured in terms of increased metabolism. The issue today with mental energy is that everyone views multitasking as a necessity in light of all the demands they face, but multitasking actually undermines productivity. Uninterrupted focus for 60-90 minutes, taking a break, then starting the next task is shown to be far more productive. Creating rituals or processes to reduce interruptions and enable concentration is the key to focus and mental energy. Are you creating rituals or processes that focus your mental energy?

Your spiritual energy- Why are you doing all of this? What is your purpose?

Spiritual energy is the clear, clean, loving, energy that allows things to exist and thrive. Loehr and Schwartz say “it is the most powerful source of our motivation, perseverance and direction – the connection to a deeply held set of values and a purpose beyond our self-interest.” Spiritual energy is sustained by balancing a commitment to others with commitment to self.

We now know the elements of energy and the role they play in our lives. It’s having fuel in your tank for doing what you have to do and what you want to do. It’s being able to go the extra mile. It’s having a lot to give. It’s not feeling like you have to push yourself.

Success is about TIME (Tenacity, Intentionality, Message, and Energy)! It is about defining a compelling vision, understanding how each piece can act as a catalyst or derailer in a successful career, and implementing a plan of action. Each leg of the table of TIME contributes to the foundation that allows you to move you or your organization to “TIME is on my side.” Yes, it is!

What will you do today to make this happen?

TIME (Part 4): Your Message

Time for SuccessContributed by Dan Sheedy.

In this series, as we move toward getting TIME on our side, we have explored two components: tenacity and intentionality… The question is how do we put these first two components into practice? This is where message comes in. Message is the third leg on the table of TIME (Tenacity, Intentionality, Message, and Energy).

Be sure to read Success: It’s About TIME!TIME (Part 2): First, It’s About Tenacity, and TIME (Part 3): Intentionality, with Direction.

Sharing a vision, a message, is a central role of a leader. A vision gives people a bigger picture of what things can be like. It helps people raise their hopes and expectations; it inspires them. When people are inspired, they are more likely to work on something or for something.

Your message and the way you communicate it has a big impact on your ability to get along with people and achieve your goals. Good communication skills can help you avoid conflict, clarify mixed messages and solve problems that are part of every-day life. This is true not only on a personal level but on a corporate level. Between the grand visions of a board presentation and the day-to-day activities of the average employee, a gaping hole often exists. Often a gap exists between the practical translation of what a company’s message should be versus what it is.

How do we narrow the gap? Jan Phillips of the Syracuse Cultural Workers expressed a powerful perspective on this when she said, “No matter what our attempts to inform, it is our ability to inspire that will turn the tides.” The solution is as simple as keeping the message informative and inspirational. A meaningful message must be specific and have impact.

Think of the message you want to communicate in any situation at your workplace or in society. Consider the stories of hundreds of leaders in business (for example, Steve Jobs), government (for example, Lech Walesa) and civil rights (for example, Dr. Martin Luther King) and how they used a simple message to inform and inspire. Can you see the power in communicating your vision and your message to others? No one can decide to follow you until they know what direction you’re headed in, but if your message is one that touches a chord with many people, and if you can communicate it well; people will join you in reaching toward your goals.

How often do you need to communicate your message or your vision? Constantly!

Whenever you talk to people about your project, group or organization, tell people what you are working towards. The more you do it, the better you will get at it, and the more people will be willing to support you. As you lead, you should be communicating your vision all the time. People look to leaders to inspire them and keep them on the right track. The more you are enthusiastic and clear about where you are going, the more likely it is that people will follow your lead. Don’t underestimate the power of your ideas and words. Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” You, as much as anyone, have what it takes to lead others and to help them envision a better organization, community, and world.

Once you have made the decision to intentionally share your vision and your message, if you pursue it with tenacity, you will have completed another leg in moving from “I need more time” to “TIME is on my side.”

What will you do today to make this happen?