How do you work? Part 2 (with others)

In my last blog post I talked about the four different types of workers

1. Meaning 2. Structure 3. Caring 4. Action

Oftentimes you’ll have different types in your team and with differences, frustrations will occur. Here's a cheat sheet so you can start to understand the relational dynamics within your team.

Meaning with Action: common frustrations

Meaning gets upset because Action cuts off his process and doesn’t value his intellectual discussions. Wanting to jump in without much thought is insanity to Meaning and completely disconcerts him. When he doesn't understand why, he feels there is no point to the project and he will dig his heels in until he gets an answer.

Action thinks it's foolish to waste time sitting around talking about the project when they could be half done with it already. He sees Meaning's resistance to moving and he feels like Meaning is trying to undermine the project.

Meaning with Structure:  common frustrations

Meaning struggles to converse and get on the same page with Structure. Meaning wants everything to make sense based on the vision and goals. And Structure doesn’t talk in those terms. Meaning feels Structure is asking the wrong questions. Meaning wonders... Why ask how when we don’t even know why? Or even if this project matters at all.

Structure doesn't know why Meaning has to talk so loftily and conceptually. It's all hot air to him. He wants data and a decision made so he can make a plan.


Structure with Action: common frustrations

Structure wishes Action would stop to think before diving in. He would be so much more effective and not waste time doing things without a plan or direction. Structure wishes Action would stop shooting and aim first.

Action feels like Structure is too slow to get moving. He wishes Structure would plan a little less and do a little more.


Caring with Action, Structure, Meaning: common frustrations

Action doesn't want Caring to be asking if he's okay and whether he has any thoughts. Of course he's okay! He just wants to work.

Structure is looking for someone to stand up and make a decision. He's annoyed that Caring is trying to get a consensus in the group, it's wasting time and he just wants a decision. Who cares if everyone likes it as long as it's the most logical.

Meaning doesn't like that Caring isn't concerned with the purpose behind the decision, but rather the feeling that the decision evokes.

Caring only gets upset (with any of the above people) if he feels hindered from taking care of the needs of the group, or that everyone's contribution isn't being valued and considered.


How to avoid these frustrations:

1. Be aware that Meaning, Structure, Caring, and Action, all have different agendas. 2. Recognize the role each plays and why each agenda is valuable to the group and needed for a successful project. 3. Have stages to address each person’s agenda and role. First a stage to talk about why we’re doing the project, then a stage to talk about how we’re going to do the project, a stage to make sure everyone is in agreement, and then finally give it to Action and let him take it away.

How do you work? Part 1

There's four types of "business personalities" important to know if you're like most people and have to collaborate or work on a team. The four types (meaning, structure, caring, action) Meaning people don’t necessarily care if the work gets done until they understand why it needs to be done in the first place. They seek to understand the value and meaning of the work before doing it. They always go back to the goal and will ask questions like:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • Why are we taking this approach?
  • Why don’t we try this instead?,
  • Why is this important?

Structure people don’t care so much about why they want to know how. They want to know the path and will ask questions like:

  • How are we going to accomplish this?
  • Whats the best approach?
  • What are the different strategies or angles we could take to conquer this?
  • How long, How much, and what’s my role

Caring people don’t care if the work gets done as long as everyone is satisfied and heard. They ask questions like:

  • Are we all in agreement?
  • Is everyone happy with this approach?
  • Did we make sure everyone got a chance to voice their opinions?
  • Any concerns?

Action people. Don’t care why or how, or who. They care about GO. As soon as a project is presented they’re off to do it. No questions asked.

Obviously each person takes an entirely different approach to starting a project. And since differences often create conflict, you'll have to be able to understand all sides in order to fight fair. So in the upcoming blog post I'll be talking about how the personalities interact with each other. But first...what type do you think you are? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Integrity not optional

To be a successful leader you must have integrity. If there are cracks in your foundation you won’t last long. The higher and longer you build, the wider those cracks become until they are glaringly apparent to you and everyone else. A small inconsistency or underhanded behavior will become a massive issue as others are now scrutinizing your actions and mimicking your behavior.

Those you lead will only follow if they trust and respect you. If you lack integrity, you will quickly lose the trust of your followers and then you will lose them.  If there's no one left to lead, you're no longer a leader. 

What's wrong with this "after college" picture?

To get a job you must have experience, but to get experience you must have a job. This is the conundrum that our society has thrown many a  college graduate into on the day he's handed his diploma. Instead of leaving college fully equipped to enter a professional job, He finds himself suddenly with all the head knowledge, but none of the practical skills.

Although this 20 something young man is our bright and shining future, no one wants to hire him. He still needs to be taught everything and most people aren't willing to take the time or the risk in their business. Somehow that book education he got didn’t teach him how to DO anything, he just knows how to talk about it. Sure, he could take his diploma and start out in a very small paying job in his field of interest, and that would help him build up the experience so he can start his career. Sounds like a solution right?

There’s just a minor hitch. He has student loans which he has to start paying a few months after he graduates. The student loans were granted with the projection that he would leave college and enter a full time, high paying job in his industry. But it's not happening.

This promising young graduate steps off the platform with his diploma and suddenly finds himself scrambling for quick money. He needs to be able to pay his loans and that's a forced priority, so gaining experience becomes a secondary thought. He searches with growing desperation to find the job of his dreams and finally abandons his diploma and career field (temporarily) while he works as a waiter or bartender to pay his bills.

All the sudden, instead of starting to give to business and society in a lucrative career, our "future" is spending his most formative years washing tables and making small talk.

This could be fine for a time, but unfortunately paying those loans won't take months, but years.  So he find himself in the same predicament year after year. He's not able to use his degree because he lacks experience, he can't work a small paying job because of student loans, and his potential and passion is becoming buried and slowly forgotten.

The simplest, yet scariest solution to this problem:

Take responsibility for your own education and career path.

This could mean working to gain experience in conjunction with getting a college degree, or maybe even choosing an alternative path to college. There are many ways to avoid this predicament, but all of them require you to carefully consider the future. You'll have to get a little creative instead of just following the traditional route planned out for you.

Ignore the rest

Schedule your priorities, don’t prioritize your schedule.

There's just too much to do. There will always be lots of opportunities, fun events going on and menial tasks to do. There's always another room to vacuum, another email to send, another networking event to attend. But we need to be doing those things that are important and ignore the rest.

We need to consciously avoid spending time on things that aren’t furthering our goals.

We all complain about not enough time, not enough energy and too much to do. Well the solution is simple. Do less.

That doesn’t mean you stop being as effective, that just means you channel the limited amount of time and energy you have into the most important things. You can still be just as effective in a smaller range of activities and projects.

A scary place to sit

If you're competent with something you should move on. If you aren’t feeling discomfort and uncertainty with what you're doing, then most likely you should be doing something more difficult. Competence is nice, but a scary place to sit. You are capable of more than that. You should always be moving forward, and if you stop too long to enjoy competence, then you stop growing. On the other hand, discomfort and unfamiliarity is where you grow the most. You should (within reason) seek out that feeling of discomfort because it is stretching you.

And when you are stretched; when you do more than you’ve ever done, and better than you’ve ever done, thats where you will feel achievement and success

Why work is NOT a necessary evil

Everyone dreams of avoiding work, but work is where we find fulfillment! To create, to add value to the world, to bring our best talents to the table, to connect, to strive, to be stretched. That is the opportunity that work gives us.

Too often people look at work as what they have to do in order to get what they want. That’s a limited, narrow view. Work does have benefits like paychecks and career advancement, but we should be working for more reasons than those. When working we are taking our skills and using them for something of importance. We are serving others; We are creating beauty, connection, and a better life for people.

It's a shame that work is seen as boring, annoying, forced and unhappy. It shouldn’t be that way, It should involve energy and excitement.

Are we there yet?

How will you know that you have arrived if you never knew what your destination looked like? The answer is, you won’t.

We all have goals, and dreams we are looking to achieve and an idea of the person we want to become. We may casually think about it, or possibly even ruthlessly pursue it.

But as we are moving forward, if we fail to contemplate where we came from, and how much we have grown, we always feel like we aren’t reaching our goals and we aren’t the person we want to be. We never feel closer, because we don’t know how far we’ve come. So sometimes its necessary to look back in order to see the path forward more clearly.

Also we can work very hard to get somewhere and not even recognize that we've arrived. A good method to prevent that from happening is to visualize success. You discipline yourself to imagine what success will look like, how you will feel, and condition yourself for that moment. So that when you do get there, you'll experience what you knew you would, and you will be ready to recognize and celebrate!

It's time to celebrate!

Celebrating our achievements is important. It encourages and motivates us to keep on striving! While It’s natural for us to be excited about accomplishments we sometimes feel bad talking about it because others can think it's self promotion. But sharing your success story with others is a huge part of celebrating. So find friends that you can share your accomplishments with. Establish that you aren’t bragging or one-upping them. Create a place where its okay to tell yourself that you did a good job, and to share that with someone else.

Those moments of celebration can help to motivate future achievement. Success builds on success and every time that happens we should stop to recognize it.

Real work

Real work, is bringing value to the world, not just doing what your boss tells you to do. Real work is seeing needs for other people and filling those. It's not pushing papers or punching a time clock. Real work is creating something that will benefit others. Something they will value and appreciate.

But to do real work you have to care. You have to care about people, and creating change. You have to want to and work to matter.

Do you deserve to rest?

Do you find yourself working hard so that you can deserve some time to rest? That sounds very normal, but its actually a trick question. You should never be working hard so that you earn rest.

Rest is not a reward. Rest is a need!

You wouldn’t deprive yourself of food or sleep because you haven’t earned it. (Okay, well you might, but you can realistically look at that and say you can’t keep that up for long!)

Same with resting. You need nourishment, inspiration, enjoyment, rest, relaxation, and breaks. If you don’t take time to rest you can’t be productive when you're supposed to be, and you can’t put your heart and mind into your work because you just don’t have it in you. You are exhausted and depleted.

Sure, you can push yourself for a while, but eventually you will break down. Just like your body stops running without food, your inspiration and creativity will crash and die without proper nourishment.

So if you think you don’t deserve to rest. You are sadly mistaken and doing yourself a disservice. When you give yourself permission to rest, then you will have what you need in order to move your goals forward.

An odd way to motivate yourself to start

Do you have trouble starting something?

A great way to encourage action in yourself is to start writing your to-do list differently.

Don’t write yourself “reminders” that you have to sort through to understand.

You will find yourself starting projects and tasks faster, if you write your to-do list in active language

instead of passive language.

Using a verb will help to compel you to action.

The action is so clear it feels more like a command than a suggestion.

So keep in mind that your to-do list isn't a reminders list, but an action list!

PS.  If the action word isn’t compelling enough, change it to a stronger verb

The Enemy of Productivity

Multi tasking is not a skill, it's a detriment to getting things done. It kills productivity. It stifles creativity, and it's the complete opposite of focus. It's physically impossible to do two things at once, unless one of them is mindless like walking or breathing. Even when talking or listening, we actually have reduced attention span and won’t hear or say things as well if we are trying to do other things at the same time. So when we are “multi tasking"  we aren't doing two things at once, we are just switching our brain rapidly from one task to another. Which this makes it virtually impossible to concentrate. We scan the crowd when in a conversation, we check email incessantly while working on an important project and we get......So. Little. Done. Not acceptable!

It's best to sit down and do one thing at a time, and then move on to the next. If we completely finish something, it can be out of our brain and we can use all our energy and attention to tackle the next project and complete it. If you struggle with concentration, try these two simple techniques to improve your focus.

1. Set a timer. 

Don’t try to go all out and concentrate for an entire day. If you aren’t used to it, you will be fighting your brain the entire time trying to maintain the willpower to keep your thoughts and mouse from wandering. Instead, give yourself 30 minutes where you will be ultra focused and allow yourself to do absolutely nothing but the task at hand. That amount of time is manageable for you to focus, and then you can take a break and do little tasks. Then try another 30 minutes, then another, and eventually you will have learned to control your impulses to do lots of things at once.

2. No interruptions.

turn off your wi-fi, cell phone, alerts and lock your door. Yes we usually sabotage ourselves by checking email, texting etc. But a huge amount of interruptions are generally from the outside as well. You can control that. Take a break. Unplug, and be productive. If you are afraid of missing something important, let people know that you won’t be available so they can contact you later. Tell them you have a dead zone from 2-4pm every day, and then disappear into your project. Even just two hours of focused work is better than an entire 8 hour day with too many water cooler conversations, internet surfing and bathroom breaks.

When you are engrossed in your work with zero interruptions, you will find yourself refreshed and much more productive.  Try it out!

Have Enthusiasm!

Have enthusiasm!

It's such a valuable principle which is so simple and with a little conscious effort can become part of who you are.

Enthusiasm is contagious. You can encourage and uplift someone who is having a bad day just by your own excitement for the day. If you greet someone with a wide smile and a genuine excitement that they're there, its almost impossible for them not to be affected by that. Excitement and enthusiasm for life will make those around you feel it too.

Love life, and those around you will learn to love it too. They will look forward to seeing you, and start to reciprocate that excitement. If you can make someone feel valued, important and worthwhile, you have made a friend. Every personality is different and everyone shows their enthusiasm just a little bit differently, but we can all recognize when someone is genuinely happy to see us. it takes so little to communicate that, and so little to make someone’s day happier and brighter. It’s a shame we don’t take advantage of that huge opportunity more often.

It's an upward spiral because the more enthusiastic you are with people, the more they are with you, and then that makes you feel good, and you become even more enthusiastic, and you keep going up and up. There’s no way of knowing the limits of that!

Is this your final decision?

We dance at the starting line forever. We stand cautiously weighing the risk, the cost, and wanting to make the perfect decision before starting something.

We feel like a man jumping off a building. Once we jump, there's no going back. We can’t change, we can’t stop, we must see whatever we start to completion. This can cause a lot of anxiety and inaction. We feel like this is the final decision, and the only one we get to make.

But that's flawed thinking. The beauty is that we can be flexible. We can change mid sentence, redirect our course, or stop all together. Action even in the wrong direction is better than no action at all. If its no longer a good goal, we can let it go.

But when you stand, contemplate, consider and let everything swirl around in your brain. When you make no move towards starting until you know exactly where you are going, and know you're going to get there, you will start very few things.

Starting is clarifying: Once you have started something, you can have a more realistic picture of what it actually entails to finish the project. You'll realize whether you're still passionate about the project, whether it has value and whether you should continue.

Starting helps you to gain momentum. If you wait too long to start something, the excitement will die off, which you could have used to catapult yourself closer to success. You can spend a lot of valuable time and energy planning and thinking about starting your goal instead of putting that energy towards actually creating.

Also, the mental energy of thinking about something can be more daunting than actually doing it. When you have ideas swirling around in your brain that you aren’t taking action on, that doesn’t mean you aren’t still working on them. You are expending energy thinking about them which is the exact energy you would be using to actually do it! It's terribly inefficient and steals your productivity.

Of course planning is incredibly valuable, but too much planning can paralyze you to action. And then what good is a plan if you don’t put it into motion? All it is are words on a paper; dust bunnies collecting as proof that you didn’t have the gumption to start your dreams.

It's worse to have a dream and not do anything about it, then to not even have a dream.

So get started. Stop waiting for the perfect alignment of your thoughts, your plans and your circumstances.

Why (although you tip well) you still aren’t giving enough

The car wash employee, the cashier at the local grocery mart, the waitresses and cleaners and gas station attendants. Do we even see the people that are serving us? Do we look them in the eye, notice their name, and make a connection with them? Or do we avoid eye contact, mumble our thanks and tip them like we should. We have an opportunity there to stand out, to recognize their humanity and to truly appreciate their service. If we looked at it like a friend doing a favor for us, instead of a random stranger just doing their job, we could create a much happier experience for everyone.

Those people who are washing our car, serving our food, and picking up our garbage are adding something to our life, they are making it happier, easier or better. Of course we tip them and say thank-you. But do we ask how their day is going? Do we treat them as individuals?

Think of it from the other perspective. When you get a server at the restaurant who’s extra kind, who remembers your children’s names, and makes the effort to not just “do their job”, but to see you as important and valued, how do you feel? I know I get a little glow, because it was unexpected, above and beyond what the job demands. We can meet them halfway though. They don’t need to just brighten our day, we should try to bring sunshine to theirs. You would be surprised at the friends you’ll make, the stories you’ll hear and the happiness you can create by truly seeing the people who are serving us and making every interaction not just another dull exchange, but an experience.

The other side of the coin

Focus is one of the keys to success. Without focus your attention is divided and whatever your doing won’t be your best work, or your best self. If you wish to be great at something, you must devote all your attention to that.

Which will require you to eliminate less important things. You have to discipline yourself to NOT do things.

You have to consciously say no to things that could be fun or interesting but not necessarily what is going to help you achieve your goals.

Instead of forcing yourself to do more, you are actually forcing yourself to do less.

Its a different side of the same coin

Opportunity Cost

There’s a principle in business called the opportunity cost. Its the idea that everything has a cost that we don’t actually see. If you choose to spend your evenings watching television than the opportunity cost could be that you missed out on the opportunity to start your own business because your time was otherwise tied up.

The same idea goes for someone who works an exorbitant amount of hours a week. It is costing them the opportunity of spending time with their family and friends or pursuing hobbies etc.

Sometimes things that are merely good or beneficial are not what’s best.

Consider opportunity cost before making a decision that will cost you what you don’t want to pay.