by David Brown
The unhappiness we feel didn’t start overnight. It began long ago, back to when we were children. Long before any of us could have imagined where we are today…
Back then, it was the oppressive adults who held all the cards. And they laid them on the table for their kids, just one at a time. Rules, homework, chores. These are mine! That’s yours! You can’t have it until you are done! No, you can’t go out and play until you finish your work.
We wanted to call the shots. We tried to make the decisions. And then, we were thrust into the world of options. As soon as we are barely old enough to drive, we start making a long-range plan. Do we go to college? Do we join the workforce? If we decide to go to college, what for? What classes should I take? What career am I after? The list goes on.
Each time we make a decision, we force the decision of another. Our choices are interlinked with one another. If I choose to take the chemistry class, I must sacrifice music theory. And so our lives go. Boiling down to a series of choices. Each with its own unique consequences and sacrifices.
We hit a point in our lives where we start to question our choices. We come to the realization that there are trade-offs to each action. We had to sacrifice important things in our life to get to where we are today. Now, we begin to question whether our choices were the right decisions for ourselves. Think of it this way, have you ever described or thought of someone as “the one that got away.”? This is just one example of how your choices today can affect your entire life.
Is it possible to go back in time and change a decision that negatively affected your life? As humans, we become obsessed with looking back at our life choices and thinking of how different life would be if we went back in time. When we think about it, our ability to travel through time has been an ongoing theme in fiction books, movies, and various other forms of media.
That line of thinking directly impacts our current happiness. The older we get, the more difficult it is to let go of our past. It seems as though each year, the desire for time travel or having your younger self make better decisions grows even stronger. We begin to lose our youthful spirit and seek out any way possible to revert back to that state.
We question things because there is a finite number of choices anyone can make in a lifetime. The world is too big a place to do everything we are interested in doing. I can’t have a career and try to devote hours of practice to a piano to play in the world’s most renowned theatres.
I also can’t devote hours of practice to become an astronomer when I already have a full-time job. As we age, our interests change, and thus the decisions we make will change. We are in control of what decisions we make but not necessarily in control of how they will affect us in the long run.
Unfortunately, when we think of the decisions we could have made, we tend to think of the best-case scenario for the outcomes. For instance, if we think about the option we had in our youth to apply ourselves and become a doctor, we often imagine a fancy lifestyle that accompanies it. We don’t think about the hours of hard work to see patients each week. We don’t see continual research to keep our skills sharp.
In another example, we may think about how we should have stuck with photography. We imagine ourselves as National Geographic photographers, living life as an adventurer. We don’t see a lack of income if our pictures don’t sell. We don’t see the hours spent away from family. Most importantly, we forget that chasing that lifestyle negates all of our current family and friends.
We are trying to make that we humans don’t like to think about the bad parts of life. We only think of the good aspects and tend to gloss over all negative ones. This isn’t exactly helping us when we begin thinking about how our decisions could have been different.
As humans, we are biased towards thinking about our futures. This is why when we think about our past, we decide on what changes we should have made that impact our current and future lives. Philosopher Derek Parfit used a story about a time machine to help us mentally solve this dilemma.
He would tell people to imagine a machine that could take you back to the past. Whenever you wanted, for as long as you wanted, and with no cost or consequences. Would you use it? Most people would say yes because they tend to think of all the good things they could do.
However, if you think about it deeper, this isn’t a good idea. You would essentially live two lives with no guarantees that the second one would have a different outcome than the first.
Just because we had a bad day at work doesn’t mean that line of thinking can be applied to every other moment in our lives. If we let one wrong decision ruin the rest of our lives, then we have genuinely wasted our lives. This is why we should stop living in the past and move forward while looking at our decisions objectively. Unfortunately, I have seen too many people get fed up after a bad day at the office and altogether leave their profession. Now they spend all of their time reminiscing about the good times and what could have been had that one day never happened.
We need to accept that we will make bad decisions but also realize that we shouldn’t think about them constantly. It’s more essential for us to focus on what can be done in the present moment instead of incessantly thinking about all of the good decisions we could have made in the past.
by David Brown
Cognitive distortion theory is a branch of psychology that deals with the way people think about and interpret situations. It was developed in the 1960s by Dr. Aaron Beck and has been expanded on by other researchers. Catastrophizing is one of the cognitive distortions that can occur when dealing with a difficult situation. This happens when a person takes an adverse event or situation and blows it out of proportion, imagining all sorts of terrible things that could occur as a result.
Catastrophizing refers to the magnifying events into disasters that cannot be tolerated. For example, suppose you think that something like public speaking will lead to your becoming wholly humiliated and embarrassed. In that case, you are catastrophizing about what is likely to happen. When catastrophizing occurs, you are more likely to become anxious about what is happening or avoid doing things that involve the situation. For example, if you think some mild illness means you will be bedridden for a week and lose your job, then the illness may lead to anxiety and depression.
How to Recognize Catastrophizing In Yourself
Catastrophizing is often related to how you interpret situations. Often, people who catastrophize expect extreme outcomes in a situation when something wrong happens. For example, suppose someone bumps into you in a crowded room and does not apologize. In that case, you might think that they are “intentionally trying to make your life miserable” or that the person is “out to get you.” Catastrophizing often feeds the belief that a situation is horrible and unbearable, leading to feelings of anxiety.
One strategy for dealing with catastrophizing is identifying it when it occurs. You can ask yourself some questions if you think you might be catastrophizing:
(a) What is the worst possible thing that could happen?
(b) How likely is it to actually happen?
By doing this, you can make an objective prediction about what will happen. You may find out that it’s unlikely for something terrible to actually occur, and by realizing this, you’ll feel less anxious.
What does Catastrophizing Look Like?
A person thinking about starting their own business might catastrophize about the potential failure and risk of bankruptcy. Someone making plans with someone they like might catastrophize that if the person doesn’t show up for their date, or if the person cancels, they don’t want them anymore. Someone thinking about asking their boss for a promotion might catastrophize that their boss will say no and that they will be “stuck in this awful job forever.”
Catastrophizing can also occur when someone experiences a traumatic event. For example, a police officer who has witnessed the death of another person might catastrophize that they could have done something to prevent what happened or that it’s their fault. Someone who has experienced a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or an earthquake, might catastrophize that another event like this will occur again and lead to destruction. This is where anxiety is born. We have experienced a bad situation in the past. Our minds allow us to assume events will always be harmful in the future.
In interpersonal relationships, catastrophizing can also take the form of negative beliefs about yourself or someone else. For example, have you ever been left on read? When someone doesn’t respond to a text or a phone call, you might catastrophize that they are angry with you or don’t want to talk to you. Quite simply, the other person may have just been busy. People who have experienced an unfaithful partner may assume future romantic interests are cheating on them when they fail to immediately respond.
How To Handle Catastrophizing
Identify when catastrophizing is occurring: consider asking yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” and “How likely is it to actually happen?” Challenge yourself to come up with an alternative explanation. For example, if you think your partner doesn’t like you because they did not respond immediately after a date, consider asking them why they didn’t reply.
Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. Sometimes these thoughts can appear when you feel overwhelmed or stressed, and reducing your anxiety will help counteract the thinking style before it spirals into a negative cycle of catastrophizing and further anxiety. Use behavioral experiments to test out the validity of your belief that something terrible will happen. Try doing something, and if the worst possible thing happens, practice accepting it. For example, you can tell yourself that you will be okay if your boss says no to your promotion request.
Change Your Focus
Think about how things could go well instead of focusing on the worst-case scenario. For example, “there’s a chance I might get this promotion, and if not, there are other opportunities out there.” Tell yourself that bad things could happen but that you can cope. For example, “It’s a possibility my boss will say no to my request for a promotion, but if she does, it doesn’t mean I’m going to quit my job.
Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, do things you enjoy, and learn how to be resilient. If something wrong happens, have an optimistic approach. Try to look at the situation from other perspectives or find the silver lining. Make time for activities that are meaningful to you. It is important to remember that although catastrophizing can feel like it is helping you cope with difficult situations, it isn’t. Try to find more effective coping strategies by speaking to a therapist or taking up mindfulness meditation if the issue persists.
It is normal to think catastrophically in certain situations. Still, suppose your negative thinking is so overwhelming that it interferes with your daily life and makes you unable to manage the situation effectively on your own. In that case, it is time to seek professional help.
Cognitive restructuring is an effective way to change your thinking style and reduce anxiety while catastrophizing. As we mentioned above, it makes anxiety worse and does not allow you to find solutions to the problem at hand.
Many cognitive behavioral therapy techniques can help you manage your negative thoughts and catastrophizing. Still, it is essential to know that the effects of therapy are long-lasting. This is because it changes how you think, not just how you act.
For some, catastrophizing is a common and normal thought process. But for others, it can be so overwhelming that they cannot manage the situation at hand on their own. If you find yourself in this position, then seek professional help as soon as possible with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques such as Cognitive Restructuring or Mindfulness Meditation. These will allow you to change your thinking style and reduce anxiety while also providing long-lasting effects because of how these therapies work, changing not just how you act but how you think about things too!
by David Brown
How Sleep Impacts Your Anxiety Levels
Most people know that getting a good night’s sleep is essential, but many don’t realize how closely linked sleep and anxiety are. In fact, there is a strong correlation between the amount of sleep you get and the severity of your anxiety symptoms.
The reason why is because your body releases serotonin while you sleep. Serotonin is the neurochemical in the brain that regulates anxiety levels, so when you get enough hours of quality sleep, your serotonin levels are higher than if you do not get enough sleep.
On the other hand, if your serotonin levels are low, it will be challenging to stop anxiety. There are exceptions, of course, but this is typically the case. So while it may seem difficult to believe that something as simple as getting enough sleep can have an impact on your anxiety levels, it’s actually very accurate. Getting at least 6 hours of high-quality sleep each night can help to decrease your anxiety.
But it’s not as simple as that. To fully understand how to best use sleep to your advantage, you need to know the different types of sleep and what they do for you.
The sleep cycles
Throughout the night, your brain goes through different sleep cycles. Each cycle is about 90 minutes long, and each one brings you closer to being asleep.
Non-REM is a deep, dreamless state that most people experience only a few times each night. It plays a vital role in helping your body recover from stress and build new cells, including those responsible for learning and memory. The non–REM cycle is where you have more profound and slower brain waves and decreased blood flow to the brain. On average, this type of sleep comprises about 75% of total sleep time.
REM – is a stage of sleep during which your eyes move rapidly, and you have dreams. When you experience your typical four or five REM cycles per night, each typically lasts from 10 to 30 minutes.
The amount of time spent in different stages of sleep can vary from night to night for any individual. However, suppose one consistently spends less than an hour in slow-wave sleep. In that case, they are probably not getting enough restorative rest with their current sleeping schedule. For this type of essential recovery to take place, it is critical to allocate at least six hours for a regular sleep period in addition to allowing the body sufficient time for going through all four stages before waking up.
Healthy sleep habits
Some healthy sleep habits you can use to ensure you are getting the best sleep are:
– Avoid caffeine at least six hours before your regular bedtime.
– Exercise during the day instead of just before you go to bed. The rise and fall of body temperature from exercise can interfere with sleep quality.
– Limit your alcohol intake as it leads to fragmented sleep and frequent awakenings throughout the night.
– Avoid checking your phone or watching TV in bed as these activities can interfere with sleep quality.
– Find a sleeping pattern that is best for you and stick with it (fall asleep around the same time every night).
Habits like these can help your body create an internal “sleep clock” that is more in tune with when you need to sleep. On average, adults should try to get at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep each night; however, an average of seven to nine hours is recommended for anyone who is trying to recover from anxiety.
Suppose your anxiety symptoms occur during the day. In that case, it can increase nighttime stress levels and interfere with your ability to fall asleep. The less you can rest properly, the harder it will be to function during the day and overcome your anxiety.
Suppose you are struggling to get good quality sleep. In that case, it may increase your anxiety, which can lead to further insomnia, creating a vicious cycle. Remember, some people with anxiety can struggle to fall asleep due to elevated stress levels.
This makes it essential to discover what is keeping you up at night so you can begin dealing with the root cause instead of allowing your anxiety to escalate further.
Suppose you have trouble falling asleep or become dependent on sleep aids. In that case, it may be time to chat with a therapist about whether an alternative strategy would work better for you.
Having difficulties sleeping can be frustrating if you are trying to heal from anxiety. Think of restful sleep as your number one ally in the fight against your panic disorder. It will help decrease overall anxiety, but it is also crucial for long-term health and wellness. By maintaining good sleeping habits and getting proper sleep regularly, you will experience a more restful and productive day.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t despair. Healthy sleep habits and a regular routine can help your body establish an internal “sleep clock” that’s better in tune with when it needs to be resting. Practices like these will lead to more restful nights and promote higher levels of productivity during the day for those who have difficulty managing their anxiety symptoms, which may occur during daylight hours due to elevated stress levels.
I suggest tracking your sleep with a good old-fashioned pen and paper or using a smartwatch. You can help uncover patterns in your sleep patterns and get yourself on the path to correcting your sleep hygiene.
Consistency is Key
Like anything, consistency is key. Healthy sleep habits are dependent upon a routine. Apple iPhones have a bedtime reminder (what I personally use). Each time it goes off, I stop what I’m doing, brush my teeth, and go to bed. Starting this routine has helped me decrease the number of weird dreams I have (you know, the one all cops have about trying to pull a trigger and can’t). Additionally, I feel more restorative when I get up.
The other thing I do is keep my alarm set for each and every day. Even on weekends, I’m up by 0530. After a couple of months, I really don’t need an alarm anymore.
Sleeping well is crucial for anyone who wants to overcome their anxiety. It’s essential to stick to a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, and get up at the same time each day. Suppose you’re struggling with insomnia or have become dependent on sleep aids. In that case, it may be time to chat with a therapist about whether an alternative strategy would work better for you. By establishing good sleeping habits, you can help your body regulate its own “sleep clock” and get the most out of your restful nights.
by David Brown
We have underestimated the importance of the sidebar conversation. In the business world, people have stopped talking to each other. But it is not because they are from a different generation or have different political views. The reason is that they work from home. The precious time spent with one another before or after meetings is where ideas used to be shared. Friendships were built. Conversations were more than about the next project.
In the digital age of teleworking, is it time to re-think the importance of the sidebar conversation?
What is a sidebar?
Sidebar conversations are where relationships are built before and after meetings. They help build trust and understanding and allow for better decision-making. A sidebar conversation is any informal, unplanned side discussion during a meeting. They are frequently used in team meetings or brainstorming. They allow more ideas to be expressed than the time allocated to the regular meeting.
Sidebar conversations can become very important when people meet for an initial discussion. Sidebar conversations are the small talk that naturally occurs before or after meetings. They can be used to build relationships among people, learn about their interests, and understand their motivations. These informal discussions foster creativity and allow for deeper reflection on topics being discussed in the meeting.
When was the last time you had a sidebar conversation? Like most, it has been too long since your previous sidebar chat before a meeting, over coffee, lunch, or drinks. But now, team members are across town or on different continents. That socializing has been replaced by e-mails, instant messages, social media, and video conferencing. In the digital age, it is easy to tap into someone’s enthusiasm or thoughts from anywhere around the globe. This has led to a focus on virtual business relationships instead of personal connections.
The sidebar conversation was where we expressed new ideas. However, those sidebars are where ideas used to be shared before and after meetings. Perhaps we subconsciously wanted to vet ideas to a friend before bringing them to the entire workgroup.
It’s easy to forget the richness of the sidebar conversation when you don’t have face-to-face time. It becomes easier to jump on an idea and dissect it with a digital scalpel than the face-to-face encouragement we give one another. But when everyone is virtually present in a meeting, some of the personal creativity we all shared is beginning to wane.
This is how creative ideas die. Not because they were not great, but because we didn’t engage in the sidebar conversations where we encouraged creativity. Mostly out of fear of showing too much enthusiasm about an idea that isn’t yet fully formed.
Great ideas, just like tree seeds, need time to grow and develop through encouragement from people who care for the well-being of the overall forest. This is where empathy comes in. To encourage others to feel safe sharing their thoughts, even if they are not fully formed.
So the real question becomes, how can we build connections and safety in a digital environment? How can we build empathy for the ideas of others?
How to create a digital sidebar:
Organizations must emulate the safety of the sidebar conversation. This means providing time for people to bounce ideas off one another outside of meetings, encourage new ones and engage in face-to-face discussions without a plan.
And what better place than during office hours? Yes…office hours have a whole new meaning! Office hours can create a dialogue between staff and their peers. This is where brainstorming ideas, the sidetracking into something completely different or even uncomfortable, happens. And this is where new ideas are born! In the digital office hours landscape, schedule time on your calendar labeled “office hours.” The time signals to others that you are free for random phone calls, video conferencing, or other virtual distractions.
Create guidelines for your group that encourage the atmosphere of the sidebar conversation.
- Create an office hours badge on your avatar or social profile to signal others when you are available
- Make it OK to schedule blocks of time on someone’s calendar so they can be interrupted during random times
- Leave yourself open for random virtual sidebars that could turn into something amazing
The digital golf course
Since virtual teams are becoming more common, what does that mean for business relationships? There is no digital golf course. The golf course used to be where deals were made. Not the board room.
In the digital age, it is time to re-think the importance of the sidebar conversation. We must fight for digital interactions, even if it comes down to scheduling it on our calendars just to have a relaxed chat with team members. Without that socializing and non-business conversation, we will lose something in the personal dynamics of business. If we remove that part of human behavior, we all lose, regardless of what our social media friends say. (And social media friends are not the same as your organizational ones.)
This is where empathy can come into play. The idea of empathy isn’t just about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes…it’s also understanding what we lose without those sidebars and how our relationships suffer because of it.
Having the ability to digitally collaborate could be the ‘it’ factor that drives your organization into the future, but only if you engage in conversations that matter. So let the digital age take us back to the basics of relationship building. Schedule time on your calendar that allows for random sidebars with your peers just like you would on the golf course.
We all need to find ways to make our lives more meaningful and fulfilling. And sometimes, that requires stepping out of your comfort zone or trying something new. Enter the digital sidebar. It provides a space for people who share common interests or goals to talk about their ideas without fear of judgment while also getting some advice from others on potential pitfalls they may encounter along the way. This type of dialogue can help us see things differently–and provide motivation when we don’t think there’s any left inside ourselves. It may seem like an odd thing to do. But, building time in your calendar in which you encourage interruption may be the very thing that sets you apart from other managers.
by David Brown
Most people operate on autopilot most of the time. They go through the motions of their day, doing what they’re supposed to do and not thinking about it too much. This is especially true when it comes to working. We all know that if we just do what we’re told and don’t think too hard about it, things will go more smoothly.
But this mindless approach can also lead to stagnation and boredom. If you never challenge yourself and push your boundaries, you’ll never grow as an individual. You need to be willing to experiment with new ideas and ways of thinking, even if they make you uncomfortable. By having a conscious mindset, you can take control of your own development and genuinely start to live the life you want.
To have a conscious mindset, you need to know your mindset. You need to be aware of the thoughts and ideas going through your head daily. This awareness can open up a whole new world of possibilities for yourself. The more conscious you are, the more you’ll realize how much control you have over yourself and the situations you are presented with.
What is the conscious mindset?
So what does it mean to have a conscious mindset? It involves actively examining situations that seem familiar, recognizing patterns of thought and behavior that might be holding you back, and making a conscious effort to change things. In essence, it’s all about choosing how you respond to stimuli – both physical and mental – that come into your life.
Part of having a conscious mindset is also recognizing when you’re not acting consciously. Most of us tend to revert to autopilot mode after a long day at work or school. If your mind tends to wander to other things when you’re supposed to be focused on the task at hand, this is a sign that you need to make an effort to stay in the moment.
What are the benefits of having a conscious mindset?
Being conscious also entails being aware of your own thoughts and feelings. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about a person or situation repeatedly, stop yourself. See the thought, and choose to let it go. This frees up mental space for more empowering thoughts.
Being conscious can help you connect with other people on a deeper level. Let’s spend time focusing on ourselves and what is happening inside of us every day. We become more attuned to our own feelings, desires, and needs. When we understand ourselves, we become more accepting of the people around us. We can then speak from a place of empathy and understanding rather than reacting from a place of fear or anger.
Having a conscious mindset can help you achieve your goals faster. When you have clear intentions for what you want in life, it becomes much easier to stop wasting time and energy on the things you don’t want. You become more driven toward your goals and end up taking better care of yourself because you’re living a life that is right for you.
How can you adopt a more conscious mindset in your own life? Consider these three steps.
The conscious mindset is how you look at your own personal situation. It includes understanding how your belief system has been created and then deciding what should change to create a more positive atmosphere for yourself. The first step toward changing your life begins with examining who you are right now. Once you do that, you can move forward and create a future that works better for your needs.
First, understand why you think the way you do right now. You should consider what has shaped these thoughts. No one just wakes up in the morning and decides that they would like to be unhappy or unfulfilled in their lives; instead, deep-rooted beliefs have built up over a long period, and those experiences create the basis for how you see your world.
Second, decide what you should change about that mindset to help yourself feel better. You may find that some changes could be made in how you think or behave right now, especially if any of your current beliefs are not helpful to you. There may be old ideas from your childhood that still influence how you make choices today, and those should be considered something worth changing.
Third, come up with a plan for putting those new changes into place. Deciding to make a few adjustments will not help if you don’t create a specific action plan to back up that intention. You should detail exactly what you need to do and in what order so that it becomes easier for you to visualize your desired outcome.
You can also employ other tactics while trying to achieve this mindset change, such as taking time out of each day to sit quietly and think about what you have done so far or what you would like to change about your current daily routine. You could also maintain a journal where you write down any personal insights that come to light during this time of introspection.
The conscious mindset is not always easy to achieve. Still, it can be accomplished relatively quickly and easily with some effort and regular practice.
What challenges do you face when trying to live more consciously??
The biggest challenge is getting out of autopilot. We all have automatic responses, some helpful and others unhelpful. When we go on autopilot, we tend to default to our less useful patterns and stories because they’re what we’re used to. Often we don’t even realize this is happening, mainly if it’s a pattern we live by for many years. To be more conscious, I need to notice when I’m on autopilot to get back into my conscious mindset.
How can you overcome these challenges?
When we start to practice noticing when we’re on autopilot and becoming more aware of our patterns, we gradually begin to see them in action all the time. It’s then that we have a chance to start consciously challenging these patterns instead of following them blindly, or worse still – without knowing what is going on. The best way to do this is with the help of mindfulness practices such as meditation and everyday mindfulness.
The most effective way for me is to take one small step at a time. It doesn’t work if I try to do too much or too drastically because my brain goes into panic mode and stops thinking clearly. One step at a time helps the brain relax. Always aim high but start small!
How to stay mindful/conscious?
My favorite way to stay conscious is by setting intentions for the day. My second tip would be to practice mindfulness throughout the day, which can be as simple as taking one deep breath, noticing a flower out of the corner of your eye, or hearing the wind in the trees. If you do this throughout the day, you’ll find your mind starts to relax, and it becomes easier to come back to this mindset.
How does living more consciously improve our life?
Living more consciously is about being aware of how we affect others and the planet on a moment-to-moment basis. By practicing mindfulness we can begin to live with
The conscious mindset is the most important mindset for success. It’s the only way to be in control of your life and make yourself better. You can’t let others do it for you or wait around for them to change their minds about you because they won’t. The key is to focus on how you want things to be instead of how they are right now, which will give you a sense of power over your situation. Your thoughts create reality, so if all you think about is what isn’t working, then that’s what will keep happening. If this sounds like too much work, consider taking up an instrument. Learning anything new activates the conscious mind and makes it stronger!
by David Brown
Starting your morning with coffee is more beneficial than you might think. Caffeine isn’t all that bad. In this post, we will look at the pros and cons of drinking coffee.
Caffeine has been linked with several health benefits, such as protecting against type II diabetes and reducing the risk of liver cirrhosis. It even appears to have a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease.
However, we still don’t completely understand how caffeine affects our bodies in the long term — and in particular in terms if its impact on the brain.
How does caffeine work?
A new study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience suggests that caffeine might boost our memory and make us smarter by changing connectivity patterns in the brain.
The researchers found that caffeine changed functional connectivity within specific neural networks, which then enabled improved performance on memory tasks. This effect was seen even 15 hours after consumption — so if you drink a lot of coffee over the course of a day, your memory will remain enhanced.
After you drink a cup of coffee, caffeine molecules quickly reach receptors in the brain that are normally targeted by a brain chemical called adenosine — and because these two chemicals resemble each other, caffeine can stick to these receptors.
As the neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of tiredness, adenosine acts as an inhibitory signal in the central nervous system. Adenosine slows down nerve cell activity by making them less excitable. Caffeine, on the other hand, increases neuron firing and speeds up function by blocking or inhibiting adenosine’s effects. When caffeine blocks adenosine, it results in increased neuron firing and heightened neuronal activity so that brain functions are sped up.
Is caffeine safe for you?
A lot of people these days are wondering if caffeine is safe for you to drink. Many say that it is not only addictive, but also makes the body dependent on it. This means that as soon as a person stops drinking caffeine, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and sluggishness.
A new research has shown that caffeine can help ease the withdrawal symptoms of alcoholics. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and showed that this was due to inhibition by caffeine of adenosine A2A receptors, which are known to be related with addiction. Moreover, after being exposed to caffeine, mice showed a temporary increase of dopamine (DA) in the shell of nucleus accumbens.
According to researchers, this is an interesting finding as caffeine consumption has been linked with lower risk for depression and anxiety–both disorders that often require treatment of people who are recovering from alcoholism. Additionally, such findings might provide support for new clinical trials (and specially for those recovering from addiction) that include caffeine.
However, until these studies are done, scientists urge caution because there is evidence showing that caffeine could worsen anxiety symptoms. Moreover, the benefits of caffeine in withdrawal symptoms might be limited to people with lower levels of chronic stress or depression.
Some of the negative side effects of coffee have been confirmed in a scientific study. The researchers studied caffeine consumption and its effects on the aging process. The study found that caffeine accelerates the aging process in several unexpected ways.
Coffee drinkers who also smoke cigars were found to be the most at risk; however, all individuals who drink coffee are subject to these side effects. The study reports that the accelerated aging process is due to decreased collagen production in the body. The majority of individuals studied who drank coffee regularly had approximately 40% less collagen in their skin than non-coffee drinkers. This causes the skin to become wrinkled more easily, which may explain why caffeine has long been associated with aging.
The study also found that while drinking caffeinated beverages speeds up the aging process, it does not appear to affect life expectancy. So rest assured, even as you age, you are not limiting your life.
How much caffeine is safe?
The FDA says 400 mg a day for adults is safe. But many health experts say that’s far too much. Many people get more than 400 mg by drinking one cup of a specialty blend (starting at $11) or two cups of drip coffee (about $4 total).
A 12-ounce cup of drip coffee has about 150 mg, but many specialty blends have more than twice that amount. The caffeine content of a pre-made brew varies widely depending on the brand. Many energy drinks include some combination of caffeine, guarana, ginseng and taurine.
When is the best time to consume caffeine?
Most people know that caffeine can give you a temporary boost in energy, helping you to be more productive. But when is the best time to drink caffeine in order to get the most out of it?
A recent study suggests that it’s more effective to drink caffeine in the morning, rather than later in the day. This is because our bodies produce less cortisol at this time, which has a slowing effect on the body and helps us feel more relaxed. Cortisol levels naturally increase as we get closer to bedtime, making us more alert and improving our memory. Researchers suggest that if you want to be more productive, it’s best to avoid caffeine in your daily cup of tea or coffee later in the afternoon or evening.
So far, we’ve looked at two scientific studies that seem to suggest coffee isn’t all bad. The first study showed that caffeine might help people recovering from alcoholism and the second showed that coffee drinkers have less collagen in their skin, which causes wrinkles more easily. But before you start stocking up on your favorite blends, there is one more thing to consider: caffeine’s negative effects.
What are possible negative side effects of caffeine?
A recent study found that the caffeine in coffee might increase the risk of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a condition characterized by an irregular and often abnormally fast heart beat, also known as a “fluttering” heartbeat. AFib is associated with about 15% of strokes and can cause people to feel lightheaded, short of breath or fatigued.
This study looked at the effects of caffeine on the cardiovascular system by testing blood flow in a group of participants who consumed varying amounts of caffeine. The researchers found that after ingesting 200 mg of caffeine, there was a significant reduction in cardiac output (the amount of blood sent to the heart) and stroke volume (the amount of blood sent to the brain).
The researchers concluded that, at least in the short term, there is an association between caffeine consumption and reduced cardiac output. And remember, 400 mg is considered safe by the FDA. So maybe it’s time to switch back to decaf…
Though the long-term effects of caffeine remain inconclusive, it’s important to weigh both the pros and cons before making a decision about whether or not to drink coffee. Some studies suggest that caffeine has negative effects on the cardiovascular system, while other studies show that caffeine can help recovering alcoholics and have anti-aging benefits. The bottom line is that everyone reacts differently to caffeine, so it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for you. And if you’re looking for an alternative to coffee, there are plenty of other caffeinated beverages available that might be a better fit for your lifestyle.
For me, I’ll stick to my good ole’ drip coffee from home. Drinking coffee is part of my normal routine at this point. With the knowledge of some the data, I’ll be sure to limit myself to less than 400 mg.
by David Brown
We have all heard about resiliency to help with our mental health. But, what exactly is resiliency? And more importantly, how do we become more resilient? In this post, we will dive into how to build a mental resiliency plan.
What Is Resiliency?
Resilience is defined as a biological or psychological ability to cope with stress. It also includes the capacity to maintain a healthy emotional state when faced with challenges and adverse conditions. When we talk about resiliency in mental health, we are often talking about the second part of that definition, the capacity to maintain a healthy emotional state.
Resilience is how we cope emotionally with challenges and hardships. So, the bigger question becomes, how do we make ourselves more mentally resilient?
Many things can make us more resilient, but mental health professionals agree on some of the most important ones. Here are four key ways to help improve mental resilience:
The first way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is through optimism. When faced with a difficult situation, it can be easy to become pessimistic and focus on the negative. But, mental health professionals suggest that you can become more resilient to mental illness symptoms by developing an optimistic attitude toward challenges.
There are many ways that you can become more optimistic. Mental health professionals suggest finding outlets for positive self-talk. It is essential to avoid using language that focuses on negativity, like “I will never get better.” Instead, mental health professionals suggest using language that focuses on the positive.
They also recommend that you take notice of small successes, like when you can go a day without using negative language and acknowledge them. Mental health professionals suggest increasing optimism by finding a creative outlet or learning something new. Using mental health techniques in your daily life also helps improve mental strength and resiliency to mental illness symptoms.
The second way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is by finding purpose. This includes establishing goals that increase feelings of meaning in your daily life, like spending more time with loved ones or trying to get more exercise.
This is where finding a hobby can give your mind something else to focus on to help you find meaning in life. I know many people who suffer from depression, and this has helped them quite a lot. It gives them something to work for. I personally love to fly-fish or tie my own flies. It’s incredible how much better I feel after a morning spent in a river. The act of immersing myself in an activity that places me in the middle of nature with all of the sounds, smells, and sights has been incredibly beneficial for me.
Another great way to add purpose is to volunteer. Volunteering has long been shown to elevate mood and mental health in various ways. It can give you a sense of purpose and belonging. Doing good for others releases mental health chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, making us feel good. It can also increase social ties and provide a positive distraction from mental health struggles.
Having trouble finding volunteer opportunities? Check out your local Rotary club. Rotarians are a worldwide business organization, and professional leaders are united to create positive, sustainable change in their communities. If that isn’t for you, check out the local Kiwanis or Lions clubs. Both are community-oriented service organizations that strive to meet community needs. Through volunteer service, members develop leadership and team-building skills and a sense of personal responsibility and empowerment.
Working in the trenches as an adult can be deeply satisfying. Still, you can’t deny that there is something exceptional about volunteering. There’s just something extra rewarding about helping those in need and making a positive impact on your community and yourself in the process.
When mental health symptoms take over your life, it can be easy for your days to blend together and become unfulfilling. When this happens, you might lose focus on the most important things in your life. However, mental health professionals suggest that by finding meaning in your daily routine, you can improve mental resilience.
3. Positive mental health practices
The third way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is through positive mental health practices. This includes getting enough sleep every night, avoiding alcohol and drugs, eating good food, exercising daily, meditating or praying, and surrounding yourself with supportive people.
In my experience, this is the most challenging goal to accomplish for first responders, especially for police and firefighters. There is a closed culture that exists in these professions. The result is that our first responders tend to only associate and talk to other first responders. The result of this tight social circle is a lot of complaining.
Its human nature to sit around and complain about the organization or profession as a whole. At the end of the day, all of this complaining amounts to nothing. Nothing is changed, nothing is solved, and in fact, you’re left with more feelings of negativity and hopelessness.
To break that cycle:
- Expand your social circle.
- Join a new social circle.
- Join a running club.
- Join a Crossfit gym.
- Join a church group.
Literally anything. Just make sure it’s not filled with people in the same industry.
I tend to not talk ‘cop’ with other people when I’m off-duty. I made that change years ago, and my mental health has never been stronger.
4. Stable relationships
The fourth way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is through stable, positive relationships with others. This includes getting help from other people, whether your therapist or friends and family members. Having other supportive people in your life can help decrease mental illness symptoms and make you more resilient to mental health challenges.
Previously in this article, we talked about finding friends outside of your industry. Really commit to them. Find ways to open up and openly share with them so that you can stay mentally healthy. It’s about having healthier mental habits.
On the flip side, there are also unhealthy mental habits that you should try and stop. These include: trying to do everything yourself and never relying on others for help; avoiding talking about your mental health with others because of fear or shame; shutting down if someone confronts you – instead take their feedback and adapt it to your mental health habits.
Being resilient does not mean that you have to go it alone and always be okay. It actually means facing mental illness without falling apart or giving up hope that things will get better. Many mental health professionals can help with this journey, so do not hesitate to reach out for support.
As mental health professionals agree, resiliency is something that you can learn and improve upon. They suggest focusing on optimism, finding purpose in your daily routine, practicing positive mental health practices, and building good relationships with others as ways to increase mental resilience. As mental health symptoms decrease, mental strength and resiliency to mental illness symptoms increase too.
by David Brown
You know that feeling you get when you’re at the bottom of a canyon, looking up? You can’t see anything but the sky. And it’s so quiet all around you. The only sound is your breathing and maybe some water dripping from rocks in the distance. It’s like nothing else exists because there are no other people or buildings to remind you this world isn’t yours alone. Suddenly, it feels like anything is possible – which sounds ridiculous considering how many things are stopping us from doing what we want with our lives every day. But that feeling doesn’t lie – grit breaks through barriers by sheer force of will.
Ok, maybe you’re not a rock climber, but you can relate to the symbolic context here. Because in the real world, there are barriers. There’s always something stopping us from doing what we want with our lives. Except for this time, it’s not water dripping down a rock face but real-life responsibilities like mortgages or car payments. Maybe it’s disappointment or the loss of a loved one. The point is, something is standing between where we are and where we want to be.
So, how do we get to where we want to be? The answer: grit.
Grit is a hot word in the business and leadership world. It’s a new buzzword. We want to know, what is grit, and how do we get it?
What is Grit?
Grit is defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. It’s the ability to overcome challenges while staying focused on success. Grit can be considered determination or courage in an objective, especially compared to IQ or talent. Some studies have found that grit is a stronger predictor of success than other factors, such as social intelligence or IQ. One study showed that students with determination and focus were more likely to earn higher grades in school. Other studies have shown that people passionate about their interests and willing to work hard to achieve them tend to do better in life.
The Gritty Formula
Is the formula for grit really that simple? Determination plus focus equal grit?
Grit is a hard thing to quantify, making it very important in the world of mental toughness.
It all starts with passion. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, then you won’t have the drive required to succeed.
But passion alone isn’t enough to succeed.
You need discipline, focus, and determination if you want to turn your passion into reality. And it’s these attributes that combine together to form grit. When someone is gritty, they are determined not to give up until the goal has been realized. Their determination is on their goals, and their discipline means that they will work diligently to achieve those goals. In other words, grit is the stick-with-it-ness that you need to succeed.
Now that we know what grit is let’s look at how to get it.
How to get Grit?
We saw previously that grit is a function of determination plus focus. Determination is a function of passion. So, the first thing we need to do is become passionate about something. But, this isn’t always easy because many factors influence passion. It is essential to recognize that everything requires effort and energy. For example, if you want to be passionate about reading novels, you need to make an effort to do it every day. Of course, this may not always be possible because of external factors. Sometimes you might be too tired. Sometimes you may not have time because of other activities like school and work. It is essential to prioritize these things and make an effort every day; otherwise, your determination will falter. People who lack passion also lack determination. Once your passion fades, your goal accomplishment rate drops.
The formula for passion is simple. Think about it every day. Never get tired of thinking about it. When you are not thinking about it, remember to do so. Keep doing it every day. That’s what passion is all about. It’s a straightforward concept, but many people don’t find the time in their busy schedules to think passionately even though they want that in life. Passion Comes from familiarity and expertise.
What is focus?
The second part of grit is a focus. Not regular focus, but an extreme focus. Most of the time, you will find yourself focusing on a specific skill to improve. Still, sometimes it’s just knowing what target to focus on is the most important. This is where focusing on the actual process becomes essential. Like most remarkable achievements, the real accomplishment rests in the journey that got us there. Don’t get caught up in the destination, the final product, or the goal. Get lost along the way in what you can learn and how far you’ve come. This is when the magic happens.
Be determined to hit your goals. Focus on the process to get yourself there. Be prepared to do whatever it takes. Success requires hard work and sacrifices. Take pride in your career. Bring your best every day. Enjoy the journey. One way to focus on your journey is to look to where you want to end up. Work backward to set goals from the end product. Be focused on each small task along the way. Let’s be honest. No one wants to struggle. No one wants to work hard and get little in return. No one wakes up excited for the next challenge or opportunity to make you feel like you can’t breathe.
Grit and success.
In a recent study, a research team at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed data from a large sample of university students and found that grit was the best predictor of academic performance. In another recent study led by Duckworth herself, researchers tracked 875 teenagers for two years. They found that those who possessed a combination of self-control and grit were less likely to exhibit problem behaviors than their less gritty peers—and more likely to succeed in life.
Grit is challenging. Being gritty means accepting new challenges and finding ways to master them. Grit is not a talent. It’s a lifestyle, and it can be learned. The people who tell you grit is something you’re born with are wrong. In fact, developing grit might just be the most important thing you can do to improve your life, both at work and beyond. A large body of research shows that people who stick with difficult things are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. A similar factor may also determine life satisfaction. As Churchill once said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”
It is essential to be passionate about your goals and not get tired of them. Passion comes from familiarity and expertise, so if you want more passion in your life, spend time every day thinking about it and doing what you love. Grit means accepting new challenges and finding ways to master them; grit can also come with a lifestyle that needs self-control or willpower. Acknowledging the struggle will lead to success in life at some point! Be gritty when faced with complex tasks because it’s worth the effort. Even when challenging, there are many benefits for being determined enough to see things through.
Whether you are struggling through a difficult period in your life or stuck in your passionless job, there’s something for everyone to learn from this post on grit! Sometimes, it is challenging to find motivation and joy in life sometimes–the best way to do so is by working towards a goal.
by David Brown
As a leader, you likely have some formal role or authority over a person or group of people within your work environment. As such, do you recognize when you are stifling their innovation?
Leaders must take into account the knowledge, skills, and abilities of their subordinates in their daily routines. While having a hand in the development of employees is an essential task of a leader. It can, however, stifle innovation within the organization. Take for example an employee who is performing at or above an acceptable level of performance. Continued intervention within the employee’s progress can stifle their growth. Simply put, at some point, we, as organizational leaders, must stop guiding and directing in such proximity. We must have the self-awareness to take a step back and allow our people to flourish.
Additionally, leaders must be so engaged as to observe a developmental struggle unfold and take action accordingly. If the employee is beginning to fail, intervention is necessary. Failing to intervene and offer guidance before failure can disrupt an employees confidence. As confidence is directly related to commitment, as confidence diminishes, as do commitment levels.
Sometimes, relinquishing control may seem hard to do. Taking a step back and allowing your people to grow in their way can breathe new life into your organization. Additionally, there are indirect consequences including increased buy-in from employees as they feel they have a say in the overall vision of the organization. Other benefits include increased commitment levels to the organization, opened lines of communication and one of the most important things, a succession plan.
by David Brown
We have all seen the leader who seems to be checked out. Seemingly aloof and uninterested in anything from the organizational level. The leader who is possibly distracted by outside superfluities of modern life; television shows, sports, personal issues, etc. Conversely, we have seen the exact opposite. We have seen the leader that seems to know a bit about everything. They are in tune with the organization and have a healthy balance between ‘being in the know’ and knowing what and when to act on accordingly.
The age-old question of higher level management is; “How do you get supervisors engaged?“
At the root of disengagement are several factors. Perhaps the supervisor is experiencing a personal stressor such as divorce, death in the family, financial strain. The list goes on. Possibly they are experiencing burnout symptoms. For the sake of this article, let’s focus on one of the most common explanations. The supervisor is either new as a supervisor or even have been supervising others for years but, never made the change mentally into supervision.
Being a supervisor and leader requires a shift in mindset from doing to getting others to do. Becoming a leader also requires the ability to think more broad scope than what a front line employee is used to doing. To think more globally, answering for others, looking at organizational consequences and being an invested party to the company is sometimes a hard thing to teach.
To teach engagement, a leader nearly needs to force the role of the supervisor. Below are three keys to getting engagement:
1 – Ask questions. Ask frequently and in-depth. In the beginning stages of developing other leaders, there is a lot of leg work and extra effort you, as the organizational leader must put in. Ensuring that items are being followed-up on and asking what the follow-through plan is an essential step in creating engagement. The idea is to get the person used to being asked a follow-up and continuing plan questions that they automatically have them in their head as their day is unfolding. As the leader begins to predict your questioning, you can start to decrease the frequency in which you ask questions.
2 – Create interaction opportunities. Find reasons for you and the new leader to interact. This can be weekly briefings over coffee to see what news they have to bring or even a daily staff meeting. Again, you are opening a line of communication. An opportunity for you to ask questions as well as them to sell their people and ideas to you.
3 – Give ownership. As often as you can, let the world see their thoughts. Let them be the owner of a solution. You are building their confidence. When an employee is confident, they will often take the proverbial ball and run with it. Let them be the leader that they need to be by empowering them at every step of the way.
by David Brown
Having what it takes to be in a leadership position is more than just being able to manage resources. Being a leader involves being there for people. Sometimes, being the leader that is there for people, also means having to have tough talks. Tough talks are, at times, essential to help other people grow and develop in their personal or professional development.
The most uncomfortable moments of your career will yield the most growth of those you share those moments. The tough talks you experience, if done correctly, can set a person up for a reflective look at their performance as well as the direction they are heading. Below are some tips to make the most out of an awkward conversation.
1 – Start with a goal in mind.
When you start to have your tough talk; know where you are heading with it especially if you are addressing a performance issue. Failure to do so on your part will make it look as if you are merely attacking a person. Remember, offer solutions, not just bring up problems.
2 – Be specific with examples.
It is a very frustrating thing to endure a conversation in which someone is being critical of your work, actions, or thought process but has no specific example of how you portray the deficiencies they are mentioning. If you critique someone as having a generally poor work performance, be sure to cite what makes the work product substandard.
3 – Address the issues promptly.
If you recognize an issue developing, do not let it fester. Address it quickly, do not allow it to become either acceptable performance or a bad habit. Additionally, if you are meeting with someone to discuss an issue, jump right in. Don’t sit around and circle the issue while making small talk. Chances are, the person may already know something is up, killing time adds to their anxiety.
4 – Point out good deeds.
There must be a building phase in addition to reprimanding. Surely each member of your team has some good quality about them. Either work-related or not, there is something about that individual that got them the job. Find that quality and build upon it.
5 – Develop a plan.
As a leader, it is unacceptable for you to identify performance issues, discuss them, and dismiss the employee back to their normal routine. To grow, you must develop the plan of action for them. You likely have the experience or resources to help each employee be successful. Garner input from the person having the issue and make sure there is a plan in place to rectify any problem presented before the end of the meeting.
By looking at these five tips before having a ‘tough talk’ with a member of your team, you can maximize your chances for success after the meeting. Remember, as a leader, you win with people. Please don’t allow them to fail and the organization will thrive.
by David Brown
An often overlooked tactic to build trust within a team is the art of advocacy. No, not advocating for a cause, instead advocating for people. Specifically, people who are not present when you are promoting for them.
We all know that humans are social creatures. As such, they tend to share various tidbits of information. As a leader, use this to your advantage. If you are trying to build a team, make it on the accomplishments and personalities of the team.
I can think back to when I took over a new facility. I knew that my employees would probably have some relationship with different work units outside of my scope of control. As such, I knew the quickest way for me to get buy-in with a new group of employees was to brag about them to other workgroups simply. I hedged a bet that if I continued to speak positively about the workgroup outside of their immediate social circle that eventually, they would hear of how their leader spoke about them in public.
I took advantage of learning specific positive traits of as many of my people as I could. Every chance I got, I brought them up to people. Completely unsolicited. Eventually, word got back to them that their leader believed in them. With the comfort of knowing they had the support of the formal leader, they became much more innovative and more committed to the work we were trying to accomplish.
As a leader, advocate for your people. Show others you value them. Believe in them so that they can believe in themselves.
by David Brown
It’s the new generation that is challenging employers to find new ways to lead. These are not the millennials we have heard so much about. These are the next generation of employees. How you interact and guide them will undoubtedly have a profound impact on your organization.
In an open group, I sat down with members from Generation Z and picked their brains about what they see in the workplace. Admittedly, I found that some of my own tactics were missing the mark. I was treating them as if they were Millennials. Quickly, I realized they were something much more than that and I could not be more optimistic of the future.
One of the biggest takeaways from meeting with members of Generation Z was that I learned just how independent they are. They are almost polar opposites of the Millennials in this regard. Millennials were the generation that wanted to do only what was asked and nothing more. They wanted bean bag chairs and safe spaces to hang out. They wanted work to fill the void of the social connections they were missing as social media exploded around them.
Generation Z’ers on the other hand want to work independently and show the world what they are capable of. They want face to face contact and frequent feedback to ensure their decisions are being made satisfactorily. They prefer working on separate projects that fit into a bigger system. A collaborative effort of individuals.
One of the biggest gripes that Gen Z’ers had was how they were perceived by their employers. The group strongly felt that in communicating with their superiors via text/e-mail they were dismissed as being young or not having value. Part of the reason they stated that they valued the face to face contact of others was because they felt they offered more to the organization than they were being given credit for. An E-mail is easily deleted but a face to face conversation created a dialogue. It created the sharing of ideas and the Gen Z’ers are full of great ideas.
To put it in their words; “Millennials were too worried about which bathroom a person should use based upon their self-identified gender. Meanwhile, we were trying to figure out how to make the bathroom more sustainable for future generations by trying to develop water-conserving bathrooms.”
If we want our organizations to be successful, we must first learn the differences in the generations and lead them accordingly. The Gen Z’ers are full of incredible ideas and should be empowered to act. Meet frequently, keep it short. With an 8-second attention span the information needs to be to the point and genuine.
With acknowledgement of their value as a generation, we can be successful in leading, guiding, and inspiring the future leaders.
by David Brown
It all started when I noticed that an employee was in her supervisors office for far too long. Like many things in leadership, questions must be asked.
Why was she in the office for two hours, discussing a seemingly minor performance issue? She had made a minor clerical error that had been committed by numerous employees over the years. A learning mistake, not a mistake of incompetence.
Her direct supervisor was taking a coaching/mentorship role while explaining the issue to her. His heart was in the right place by taking a good employee and trying to further her knowledge. Unfortunately, a good intention with a bad execution is still a negative outcome.
When she walked out of the office, she looked defeated. I could see it on her face, low morale at its finest. She had just endured a 2-hour lecture about a small clerical error that was unintentionally made. Sure, it needed to be addressed, but how?
I watched this same interaction with two other supervisors and their subordinates. I was witnessing an outdated model of addressing performance issues with employees.
Enter, the three sentence rule.
Generation Z has been well researched to show that they prefer face-to-face contact with their supervisors. The research further shows that the generation that grew up with twitter, likes to keep that interaction brief. In line with asking questions in reflective leadership, how many sentences does it take to address an issue?
- State what is wrong. 2. Explain how to fix it. 3. Ask if any clarification is needed.
This brief model of addressing problems may seem impersonal but if done correctly, directly speaks to what Generation Z values most; being genuine. Gone are the days of over-explaining things. The next generation is highly educated and has a strong capacity for being quick learners. Keep it brief, provide frequent feedback and above all else, be honest.
by David Brown
When we think of Leadership, we often think of the boss. The one in charge. We relate everything from the perspective of some person who has been instilled a formal role of authority. In a lot of cases, that is correct. What do we do then when that isn’t the case?
When things go wrong, who do we look toward? In most leadership classes I’ve been in, the finger points to the ultimate head of the workgroup. They are expected to take all of the responsibility. Conversely, when things go right, they are expected to take none of the credit. These are basic leadership lessons taught time and time again.
Pointing fingers up works in a top-down leadership environment (think military); the person in charge is supposed to know every little thing that goes on. Further, they are responsible for every thing that happens.
What if we changed that perspective? What if everyone was a leader? What would we do then?
When we think it is easy to pass the mistakes up the chain, it creates a culture of non-compliance. In order for the organization to succeed, each person must own their part of it. If everyone cared for the organization as if their own name were on the side of the building, how much better would your workgroup run?
Do you expect your employees to ‘own it’? At the heart of success is an idea of ownership. It is not enough to pass it on to the next person and simply say; “not my problem.”
As a leader, do you encourage people to own it? In order for people to feel that they have ownership in something, they must feel a sense of control and accomplishment for it.
Simple ways to encourage ownership are:
1 – Give choices instead of mandates.
2 – Ask for input in decision making.
3 – Share information as frequently as possible.
When we share information and include our teams in the decision making process, it not only empowers our people but also develops them. When we empower and develop them, we create a culture. The culture we create is one that is based upon everyone thinking at the next level up.
We create ownership. The process becomes more important than the product. Successful teams are able to gather ideas from each member, rather than have ideas dictated from one person down.
by David Brown
Communication is a Cornerstone of Leadership
As a leader, communication is paramount to the success of your ability to lead, motivate, and inspire. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Communication – as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. Are you communicating with your employees, do you assume someone is doing that for you, or worse do you assume they will just figure it out? Depending on where you are in your organization, are you sure you are clearly communicating the vision and mission of your organization. Do your employees and subordinates know what you stand for and where your passion comes from? At the lowest level, do your subordinates know what your expectations are and the performance benchmarks they must meet?
These are all questions that if you have not asked yourself as a leader, you are not only failing yourself, more importantly you are failing those who work for you. You must take a look at how you are communicating not only verbally, but also through written communication. Emails, texts, directives, memos, procedures and policies can be confusing. Clear, effective, and efficient communication is paramount to your ability to lead others to their full potential. This will help you achieve your organization’s goals and objectives while assisting you in being successful as a leader.
How is your communication?
Avoiding being unhappy does not lead to happiness. – Hector