Monthly Archives: February 2013

Quote for Feb 28th

Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.
Thomas Jefferson

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Quote for Feb 26th

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

Henry David Thoreau 

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Are You Stuck

Man in Wheel

We are seven weeks into 2013 and how are you doing on your plans and goals for the year?  Have you gotten stuck in a rut?  Have you hit a plateau?  Are you stuck in old habits that are keeping you from moving forward towards the future you want?  If so, you are not alone.  Statistics show that 88% of people fail to meet their new year’s resolutions.  It’s not too late to get back on track.

So if you here are five steps you can take today to get unstuck:

  1. Review your goals & select 2 or 3 (max) that support your future
  2. Identify challenges / obstacles to achieving it
  3. Write down the benefits of reaching the goal
  4. Name the resources (people or tools) that will help
  5. Break them down into action items & schedule the time needed

If you follow these five steps you can refocus your attention and efforts onto achieving your goals.  To help you get moving forward again take the time to review your goals.  Ask yourself the following questions about each one:

  • Why is this on the list?
  • Is this going to help me reach my long-term goals?
  • Is this something I want for myself or something others expect of me?
  • Am I willing to commit to this at this time?
  • Will this improve my life/ health/ career/ family?
  • What is the driver behind this goal?
  • Is the driver an internal or external one?

Often we create goals for ourselves that are driven by what other people tell us or expect from us.  Evaluating your goals, both short term and long-term, in light of you situation and where you want to go with your life will help you cut out goals that are due to the expectations of others.  The goals that are driven by your deepest desires and will move you towards the future you envision for yourself are the ones that will hold your attention and you will have the energy to pursue.

Additionally by limiting the number of big goals that you have on your plate will help you manage them.  If you are trying to tackle too many important things at once you will become distracted instead of focused.  Creating a laser like focus on one item of one goal at a time will move you forward faster than bouncing from task to task.  To maintain momentum have a plan that shows all the steps needed to reach the goal.  Then when you finish one item you know what comes next.  This keeps you moving at all times.

If you have gotten stuck on a plateau take time to revisit your goals, why they mattered and decide to do something today that will get you one step closer to your goal.   Hitting a plateau gives you a chance to catch your breath, check the map and get moving again in the right direction.

How do you get yourself off of a plateau?

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Team Conflict

team conflictDoes your team engage in conflict?  If so is it constructive or destructive?  Too often teams avoid conflict because they fear it will become destructive and lead to personal attacks.  Conflict that becomes personal can destroy the trust within the team.  So is all conflict within team bad?  No, it’s actually vital for the development of high performing teams.

So how do you get a team on board with conflict?  First you must ensure that there is real trust within the team.  If people do not believe that their teammates have their best interests at heart then conflict can be seen as personal not business.  This will not work.

Once you have trust established it is up to the team leader to encourage and elicit constructive conflict during team meetings.  Constructive conflict is the open exchange of differing ideas and opinions.  It is about sharing perspective and experiences with people who have other ideas.  The team leader must encourage the healthy exchange of ideas.  This is how you get to the best solutions and ideas for solving problems.  In addition the team leader will have to help guide the team to resolution so that they can move forward.  This means overcoming the obstacles to conflict resolution.

Obstacles to Conflict Resolution:

  • Facts, Opinions, and Perspectives (Informational)
  • Company Culture, Politics, and Moods (Environmental)
  • Legacy Events, Reputation, and Position (Relationship)
  • Experience, Knowledge, and Self-Esteem (Individual)

The biggest challenge for the team leader is identifying the various obstacles that are inhibiting resolution of the conflict.  Each team member may be in a different place, so finding the right path to getting agreement on a solution can be a rough road.  When there is high level of trust within the team it will be easier to find the causes of the roadblocks.

When there is a solution on the table that is being resisted here are several questions you can ask to get past the objections and onto resolution.

  1. What would it take to make this work for you?
  2. Where have you seen this fail before?  What were the circumstances in that case?
  3. What additional information do you need to become comfortable with this?
  4. How might this fail?  How can we overcome those issues?

The key to productive conflict is an environment where opinions and perspectives are valued and sought.  This allows each person to express their thoughts openly and without fear of repercussions.  This allows the conflict to generate ideas and options.  To get to a single solution to implement it is imperative that the conflict is effectively resolved.  That requires overcoming the obstacles and objections that surface.  Acknowledge the concerns and seek team solutions to address them.  This will help each member feel valued and supported.  This leads to commitment to the decision made.

Conflict is a valuable tool during team meetings.  It allows other ideas and options to be identified and evaluated.  Keep conflict constructive and your team is on the way to high performance results.

For more information on this topic see Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  This is addressed as his second dysfunction – fear of conflict.


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Quote for Feb 21st

If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.

John D. Rockefeller 

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How Explicit Are You?

man on white background. Isolated 3D imageWhen you communicate with your team or your peers are you explicit? Clear communication is explicit without being rude or abusive.  If you are explicit in your direction or communication people know what you want and expect.

Keys to being explicit:

  • State what you want
  • Avoid would, could, should
  • Be specific in the results expected
  • Keep it simple
  • Leave room for options to accomplish the task
  • Give reasons why it matters
  • Acknowledge fears, issues
  • Test for understanding

By taking the time to be clear, concise and specific about your message you will be more effective in getting things done.  More time in planning what you say will reduce the amount of follow-up and reiteration of the message.   It can feel hard and harsh to be very explicit in what you say, however, people are not mind readers so if you have something specific in mind you need to state it clearly.  Your team will thank you for making sure they understand what is expected.

Benefits of being explicit:

  • Less time explaining again what is needed
  • Better results / improved quality
  • Less rework
  • Increased understanding
  • Improved productivity

If you master being explicit without dictating then you will be seen as a fantastic communicator and someone who can get things done.  This is a great career tool to have and will serve you well as you move up.  We are all too busy to have to deal with fuzzy communication that requires follow-up questions, rework and delays waiting for clarification.

Ask yourself the following questions to see if becoming clearer and more explicit will help your team produce better results.

  • How will being more explicit help your organization?
  • Are you frequently asked for additional information?
  • How frequently do you have to ask someone to rework an item?

If your answers show you that there is room for improvement then the next question is:

How can I improve to increase clarity for my team?

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Quote for Feb 19th

I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.

Robert H. Schuller 

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Interesting Articles for February

Businesswoman Sitting at Desk Reading


I wanted to share some of the interesting articles I’ve read over the last month.  Enjoy!

What has inspired you to look at things in new ways?

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Quote for Feb 14th

The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.



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FREE Keys to Effective Communication Webinar


You have the technical skills and the desire to move up.  Now learn the keys to effective communication, a fundamental leadership skill.


  • Why communication matters
  • Forms of communication
  • 3 keys to successful communications
  • Steps to take to improve your communication skills
  • Questions and answers


I spent 20+ years in corporate America, moving from process engineer to supervisory positions overseeing people in multiple factories both domestically and internationally.

I started with little training in communicating well or managing others.  I just jumped in and learned along the way.  Now, I’m sharing what I learned.

Date: February 27, 2013

Webinar Time: 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Central Standard Time

Cost: Free!

Register atKeys to Effective Communication

Bonus: All participants will receive handout materials

Post questions you’d like answered here. I’ll do my best to answer yours during the webinar.

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