Being Intense

FocusA couple of months ago several colleagues and I were having dinner after a long day and we were comparing notes on how our week and the project were going.  I commented that things had been “crazy and kind of…..” and I was at a loss for words.  Jack offered up “intense” as the word I was looking for to describe it all.  That was exactly how I felt.  He then commented that it was due to the fact that I was intense.

Honestly I think it was meant as a bit of a dig.  Jack tended to think I took my responsibilities a bit too seriously.  To me that wasn’t an insult at all, it was a compliment.  My role in the project was end-user training and we had just made the switch so I was really focused on making sure things were working for everyone.  The fact that I was fully focused on people’s success and experience made me a bit intense I guess.

If we are truly focused on an objective we can come across as intense or even obsessive to others.   Does that mean we should back off or tone it down?  Not in my world.  I am a believer in giving 110% to the things I am doing and I take my work very seriously.  There are people who find that intimidating and uncomfortable to be around.  When people are nervous or afraid they will act out of compliance to a request instead of getting onboard as a collaborator.  You need to know which is going to help you most in the situation, but I always prefer to work with someone who is committed to helping me instead of someone who is just doing what they are told to do.

It’s great to be focused and driving to a result or goal.  Unfortunately if we scare the folks we are working with we may end up being less effective.  Yet if we don’t appear committed or focused people think we don’t care about results.  So how do we strike the right level of intensity?

Here are 5 tips for managing intensity:

  1. Focus on one goal at a time: If you are pushing towards too many things all at once you will seem unorganized and unfocused.  At any one time work on one thing only.
  2. Remember to see the people: Often what we are doing involves others, either directly or indirectly, so remember that others can be frightened when you come on too strong.
  3. Breathe: Before you start rattling off a list of next steps or giving directions to others take a couple of deep breaths and slow down.  Going too fast will confuse people; make sure the others can keep up.
  4. Be clear on the true urgency: Just because you are excited and ready to roll doesn’t mean it’s urgent to those around you.  What is the real importance and urgency of the task at hand?  Is it critical to do now or can it be done soon?  Be clear on the true needs and people will respect your deadlines better.
  5. Smile: When you are going from meeting to meeting or talking with others smile at them and make eye contact.  When you are moving fast with your mind on the end goal you come across as remote and scary.  Relax and people will respond better to your requests.

Remember being intense means you care about what you are doing and you are focused on getting results.  Managing your intensity will allow you to pull others in with you so that you can get more done and have more fun doing it.  Focus on results and keep an eye on the people around you to make sure you aren’t burning them with your focus.  Sunlight is great until it’s focused so intensely that it starts a fire.

My philosophy: ‘Take your work more seriously than yourself’

I believe in getting things done but having fun while doing it.  As a result I’ve found most people to be willing to work with me, help me get things done even when I’m being a bit intense.  I will laugh at myself and my mistakes quickly and readily yet I’m always serious about the results I’m looking to achieve.

Have you ever been accused of being too intense?

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Finding My Way Back

Young woman flying with an umbrella under Paris

It’s been months since I’ve sat down at a keyboard to write a blog post.  Part of that was planned, okay really only the first couple of weeks, and the rest of the time is due to my desire for balance.  Back in early February I wrote a post and then planned on a week to two week absence as my family and I traveled to Washington DC for my father-in-laws burial at Arlington National Cemetery.  I figured that once I got back home we would get back into a routine and I would pick up writing.  Well, as they say the best laid plans…..

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to start working with a new client company right after we got home which changed the balance of my days.  Between my commitment to the client and my dedication to helping my family settle in to a new routine I found it difficult to carve out time to write.  As a result I made the decision to take a break for a while.  My family needed me and my work was very demanding and rewarding.  The next thing I knew 7+ months had passed.

In all honesty I’ve missed writing my blog and capturing my thoughts about leadership, personal development, time management and whatever else came to mind.  However, I decided that I needed to spend my time differently for a while.  It was very intentional on my part to step back from blogging, as well as actively participating in social media forums like Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn.  At the beginning of the year I spent a couple of hours a day in these activities and I made a choice to spend that time elsewhere.  While I missed the interaction with my friends and colleagues I am glad I chose to focus on my family and my client.

Balance and Intention

I’ve learned several important lessons over these months about how to create a balance in my life that is fulfilling and rewarding.  There will always be too many demands on my time and I have to pick and choose what I do, who I spend time with, and how I live my life.  I found I could focus on what was important, what was urgent or what was interesting.  Sadly it’s easy to just go with the flow, keep doing what I’ve been doing and let the outside world dictate our time.  This leads to frustration, disappointment and regrets.

To find a balance that worked for me I had to keep in mind what was important to, what actions supported those things and I had to say no.  I found the following actions critical to making this work for me:

  1. Be Clear on Priorities: When you know what is most important to you and where your priorities lay you can make choices that work best for you.  These can, and will, shift over time so think about what’s important to you right now.
  2. Weigh Demands against Priorities: Check requests for your time and attention against your priorities.  Are the demands aligned with what is most important right now?
  3. Do the Things that Matter Most: There will be things you want to do that just don’t align with your current priorities.  Be intentional about what you do and how you spend your time.
  4. Say No Kindly: You will have to say no to people and requests so be kind and considerate to those making the requests.  Remember the request is being driven by what’s important to someone else so be respectful of their request.  You don’t have to say yes just because it’s important to them, just say No kindly.
  5. Never Apologize: Taking care of the things that matter to you is something you should never apologize for doing.  Saying “Sorry I can’t help you” opens the door for others to negotiate or push you into helping.  Instead say “I wish I could help you, unfortunately I can’t at this time”.  This is respectful of their request while saying no.

When I stepped away from the keyboard back in February it was done to focus on my family and our healing.  It was absolutely the right thing to do.  When I started working with my client I wanted to give them my full attention so my days became focused on meeting a tight schedule and I decided to keep my evenings and weekends more open for my family and personal needs.  This meant that my time on social media was cut down drastically as my priorities shifted.  As I focused on the things that mattered most to me at the time I found I was happier than when I was stressed out over getting all the things done that I wanted to do.

To find balance in your life it’s important to be very intentional about your actions.  What do you intend to accomplish, what are your priorities and shift your focus to the things that matter most.  This applies across the spectrum of your day, from what you do at home and at work.  When you are true to what matters most to you it will feel like your life is in balance even when you are crazy busy.  That’s because you will be crazy busy with the important things.

To get started ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s most important to me right now?
  • Are the things I’m doing aligned with my priorities?
  • Which things should I stop doing to free up time for the important stuff?
  • How can I be more intentional in my actions?

Be intentional about your goals and your actions to find a better balance in your life.

How do you create balance?  Please share your tips in the comments below.

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Carol Dougherty

 

 

 

Looking forward to seeing you around much more frequently!

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Thought for Monday

Montain summerIn the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

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The Best of Lead With Giants March 14

wpid-Best-of-LWG-Blog-Posts.jpgToday I’m excited to bring to you the best blog posts from the Lead With Giants group.  There are many interesting articles with great insights into leadership topics.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Best of Lead With Giants March 14

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Thoughts for Feb 4th

Lighthouse in the dusk

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
John F. Kennedy

How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience would have achieved success.
Elbert Hubbard

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The Best of Lead With Giants February 2014

wpid-Best-of-LWG-Blog-Posts.jpgToday I’m excited to bring to you the best blog posts from the Lead With Giants group.  There are many interesting articles with great insights into leadership topics.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Best of Lead With Giants February 14

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How Will Your Integrity be Judged?

JudgingIt’s common for people to say that leaders must have integrity.  We are quick to point out CEO’s or politicians who make ethical mistakes and talk about their lack of integrity.  These are easy to point out.  We also identify public figures who act in ways that demonstrate their honesty and integrity.  Yet how easy is it to fall short of the ideal level of integrity?

There are some very subtle ways in which we may be acting which brings our integrity into question.  We often don’t even realize that our actions are not aligned with our values.  Unfortunately others will be watching what we do and compare it to what we say.  Here are some simple things that can trip up even the most honest people.

  • You say you hate gossip and actively discourage it; however you comment on a person who isn’t there at the time.
  • You encourage and evaluate your team on personal development yet you never find the time to take a class yourself.
  • Your company policy says that you will not accept gifts from vendors over a certain value but you allow a vendor to pay for you to play golf on a course whose fees are higher than the limit.
  • You hold people accountable to deadlines yet you often miss deadlines of your own.
  • You promise to give people honest feedback however you avoid the difficult conversations about performance because people will get upset.
  • You promote teamwork and collaboration but you are normally too busy to pitch in when asked.

Some of these examples are more obvious than others.  However, each one of these is an indication that you are not demonstrating the level of integrity that you may desire.  There may be reasons why you do some of these things but if you are honest with yourself it becomes obvious you are not practicing what you preach.  Even these small things can harm how others view you.  If they see you ‘cheating’ on the small things it can create doubt on how you will behave on the big things.

There is a story about President Abraham Lincoln who is well known for his honesty.  It demonstrates how keeping to your word may be uncomfortable in the moment but powerful over time.

While a member of Congress, Abraham Lincoln was once criticized by a friend for his seeming rudeness in declining to test the rare wines provided by their host.

The friend said to him: “There is certainly no danger of a man of your years and habits becoming addicted to the use of wine.”

“I mean no disrespect, John,” answered Lincoln, “but I promised my precious mother only a few days before she died that I would never use anything intoxicating as a beverage, and I consider that promise as binding today as it was the day I gave it.”

“But,” the friend continued, “there is a great difference between a child surrounded by a rough class of drinkers and a man in a home of refinement.”

“A promise is a promise forever,” answered Lincoln, “and when made to a mother, it is doubly binding.”

As you go about your day think about the choices you are making.  Are your words and your actions perfectly aligned?  Have you made allowances for falling short of keeping a promise or meeting a deadline?  Integrity is something that everyone wants in their leaders and in their teammates.  It can be hard to take the high road all the time and you run the risk of offending someone by sticking to your principles.  Yet over time people will think more of us when we do.  Leaders make hard choices all the time and this is one area that you completely control.  Choose wisely.

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If you would like help developing your key leadership qualities let us help you.  Contact me at carol@delta-group-llc.com or visit http://www.delta-group-llc.com

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Quote for Jan 21st

yoda

Try not. Do or do not. There is no try. ~Yoda

If you are chasing your dreams you need to go for it, not just ‘try’ to reach it.   Give it your all.  You might exceed your expectations if you focus on doing not on trying.

 

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Quotes on Courage

Here are some quotes I like on courage.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
Steve Jobs

How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.
Benjamin Franklin

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
Dale Carnegie

Courage means to keep working a relationship, to continue seeking solutions to difficult problems, and to stay focused during stressful periods.
Denis Waitley

What quotes or phrases inspire you to be more courageous?

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How Deep Does Your Courage Go?

16 2009 07 04_0083_edited-1There are times when you need more courage than you think you have in you.  When you enter unknown territory you need to have the courage to move forward.  These situations often appear completely unexpectedly and catch you unaware.  As leader you have to be able to quickly pull on your reserves of courage to get you through the tough times.

You may need courage to:

  • Make a tough decision
  • Take on new responsibilities
  • Share your position on a topic
  • Get out of your comfort zone
  • Be vulnerable
  • Admit a mistake/error
  • Speak in front of a group
  • Delegate an important assignment
  • Ask for help

These are just a sampling of when you might need to find the courage to proceed.  It’s important that you manage your fear so you can step up when needed.  It’s okay to be afraid; in fact if you aren’t ever afraid of failing, or letting someone down, or being wrong about something important then you really aren’t committed.  Healthy fear means the outcome matters to you.  When you have no fear, nothing matters anymore.  So embrace the fear just keep it in perspective.

To keep your fear in its proper place you need to balance it with courage.  Courage comes from confidence.  Build your courage by building your confidence that you can succeed.  Confidence is created from recognizing and acknowledging past success in a related area.  If you have previously negotiated a contract successfully you will be more confident of your ability to do it again.  The real challenge comes when you venture into new territory, one where you have no direct past experience to use as your compass.

Here are several tips to build confidence when you are in a new situation:

  1. Look for similar experiences.  Maybe you are giving a speech in front of 500 people which is 400 more than you’ve ever done before.  However, speaking in front of people can be the same no matter the size of the audience.  If you did well with 100 you can do well with 1000.
  2. Identify transferrable experiences.  If you are good at making decisions in a project based environment you can be successful making decisions in other environments.  Decision making skills transfer across industries and organizations.
  3. Remember past unexpected success.  Think of times when you accomplished more than you believed possible or even met a goal that seemed unachievable.  Once you have done the seemingly impossible you can do it again.
  4. Enlist the input of someone who has succeeded.  When you are going into something totally new and unknown find a mentor or coach or trusted colleague who can share how they succeeded in this kind of situation.  You can use their experience to learn what is needed to succeed.
  5. Take action decisively.  Once you make the decision to brave the unknown act quickly and decisively.  The more time you spend preparing yourself the more time you will have to create doubts by worrying.  As Nike says “Just Do It”.

Use your past success to give you the courage to dare to do something new now.  Be brave and take a stand, do something new or go where others fear to venture.  The more successes you have in new things the more likely you will be to have the courage to go further and do more than you dreamed possible.

If you are a leader, your courage to go out on a limb will inspire your team to do the same and the results will be even greater than imagined.  Create an environment where fear is okay but courage is cherished.  Be brave for yourself and your team.

When did you have to dig deep for courage?

 

If you would like help building your courage to face new situations contact us at carol@delta-group-llc.com

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