Building Resilience – Tips for Getting Through Tough Times by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Every facet of life brings challenges, though it’s true that some periods of our life are more challenging than others. It’s said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so we can take comfort that we can come out of challenges stronger on the other side. resilience4

During the tough times, it’s important to have coping skills that can help you weather the storms, whether these are in your work life or your personal life. Here are some tips to help you get through the challenges you face now, and to make you more resilient for challenges that lie ahead.

  1. Focus on one day at a time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we try to tackle too much of a challenging situation at once. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is take the steps we need to get through today, or to make the next decision that impacts our current challenge. Then, work on figuring out another challenge tomorrow.
  1. Talk it out. It’s important to have a sounding board when you’re going through a tough time. Depending upon the situation, you may need a business mentor, a friend with a listening ear, or a professional counselor. The worst thing you can do is hold it all in. Even if talking provides no tangible advice, you’ll feel better by getting your feelings and fears out in the open.
  1. Use the challenge to create a learning situation. If your business is having trouble, consider taking a class or getting a business mentor to teach you some new skills. If you have financial troubles, choose a book to teach you new investment or money saving skills. Using the challenge as a learning opportunity will give you new skills and help you know that you are doing everything in your power to work through the situation.

 

  1. Work on your issues daily, but don’t obsess over them. Worry does nothing to solve problems, but does a great deal of harm to your psyche. Learning to relax and get your challenges off your mind periodically will help you keep your sanity, and help you have the clarity needed to face your challenges sensibly.

 

Use these tips to help you ensure you’re using every challenge to teach you and make you a better leader and a better person.

How To Know If It’s Time to Give Up on a Goal

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targetOne of the hallmarks of a successful person is perseverance. The most successful people have proven themselves to be able to meet their goals simply because they do not give up easily on those goals. They show the discipline and commitment to continue to move forward toward a goal even after making several failed attempts and even when the odds may seem impossible.
However, there are times when it doesn’t make sense to continue to pursue a goal. Making the decision to stop working toward a goal is often very difficult for people who are accustomed to always reaching the goals they set. Here are some tips to help you know when it’s time to take a new direction:

• You’re pursuing it only because you said you would. If you’ve lost your passion for a project, it’s time to reevaluate whether you should continue to pursue the goal. For a goal to be worth continuing to pursue it is important to know that you will still find fulfillment in achieving it.

• It is no longer financially feasible. If you’ve begun a business or project and determined that it doesn’t make financial sense to continue. You should pursue another path or begin to recognize it as a hobby.

• It infringes on things that are more important. If you have found that reaching your goal requires that you put in so much time that you neglect things that, in the long run are even more important, it’s time to reevaluate. It may not require completely giving up on your goal, but rather reorganizing your life and changing your timeline, so that you can move forward at a pace that allows you to keep up with the other important things in your life.

Giving up on a goal is never easy for those who are accustomed to always reaching their goals. However, sometimes it takes more character to know when to change direction than to continue to pursue a goal that is no longer appropriate for your life.

The Value of Authentic Feedback by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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As a business leader, there are many reasons why you need to surround yourself with people who are loyal and who are committed to your success. One of the most important reasons to have the right people around you is to gain the benefit of their feedback. Feedback that you can trust can help you grow as a person and as a business leader. Here are three things you can gain from authentic feedback:images

  1. Perspective – It’s important to see how your words and actions come across to others. If someone in your circle reports to you, so much the better. He or she can help you see how employees view you as a leader and help you ensure that are the kind of leader that is able to retain valued employees and create an open environment at work. This kind of relationship can take time to develop, as people are naturally reluctant to criticize the actions of their boss.
  2. Advice – Sometimes you just need to know what someone else would do if faced with the same situation. Someone in your circle who is more experienced than you can help you explore all your options and make the best choices. The mentor who has already walked the path you’re traveling is priceless.
  3. Support – Feedback is designed to help you grow. Sometimes the feedback that is most important is the “cheerleading” kind of feedback. It’s important to have people in your circle who will remind you that you are capable and that you have overcome obstacles in the past. Ideally, the person or people who give you this kind of support will know instinctively when you need it.

Select your trusted circle carefully. Your most valued advisors should have no hidden agendas, and should be capable of being honest with you, even when they may have to tell you something you don’t want to hear. When you do find those people, safeguard your relationship. These kinds of friends and mentors are extremely valuable in helping you to reach your goals.

Do You React or Respond? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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downloadLife is full of unexpected twists and turns. Each of us can look back and remember times when we got news for which we weren’t prepared. Happy unexpected news generally elicits a pleasant response, however, sometimes bad news elicits more of a reaction than a response.

Do you know the difference? The details that differentiate a response from a reaction may be subtle, but these can make a big difference in the decisions we make and in how we present ourselves to those around us in the face of bad news. Here are some differences between the two.

  • A reaction happens immediately, a response may take a little time. In the face of bad news, it can be a good idea not to react too quickly. Your immediate reaction may be different than your response would be if given a little time to process the news.
  • Reactions are emotional; responses are thought out. We have reactions; we formulate responses. When you respond you have come to some decisions about how you plan to handle the situation. When you react, you say the first thing that comes to mind, and you aren’t careful, you may act on that initial emotion.
  • Reactions shouldn’t always be shared, but responses can be important to share. When you are a business person, it’s critical to be careful about sharing your initial reactions to things that happen with others. For example, let’s say you just found out that you have lost your largest client. Your reaction may be one of panic, but if you share that panic with your employees, they may fear for the business and for their jobs. Certainly, you will have to share the news with them, but by waiting until you’ve had a chance to determine how you will handle the situation, you can formulate a response that is measured and that appropriately communicates the situation.

It is human nature to react to news quickly. However, it is important to sometimes avoid the temptation to react out loud, especially in front of others. Taking the time to formulate a well thought out response will help you to keep things in perspective and to share that perspective with others when the time is right.

The Value of Single Focus by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

focusOne of the most used terms regarding productivity is the term “multi-tasking”. We’ve been led to believe that in order to be productive, we must be working on several different things at once. However, if you want to finish what you start and feel a sense of accomplishment each day, a single focus is a much better way of working through your day.

With a single focus, you’ll still accomplish many things in a day, but you work on them one at a time. When you begin a task, you will take it to completion, whether that be to completion of the project or just completion of the portion that needs to be finished today. Rather than bouncing around from project to project, try giving one work item all your energy for an allotted period of time. This approach has several benefits.

1. You’ll have better attention to details. When we bounce from project to project, it’s easy to miss details in what we need to absorb about the work at hand. It’s also easy to get distracted and not realize you’ve missed completing a portion of a task.

2. You’ll get through work faster. When you are singly focused on a project, you are likely to find that you get through the work more quickly than if you bounce around. Every time you get distracted by something else and move away from the project, you have to get back on track when you return, which eats us valuable time.

3. You’ll feel more organized. When you constantly move from project to project, it’s easy to end the day not knowing if you really accomplished anything. When you work singly on a project until you get to a good stopping point or until you’ve completed what needs to be done, you have a better handle on what work is complete as well as what still lies ahead.

Single focus comes more easily to some of us than others. If you find that you are naturally distracted and want to move from project to project work on creating a system that helps you to stay disciplined. Many people find that they bounce around because they want to go work on something they think about before they forget it. If this sounds like you, try keeping a “to do” list. When you think of something that needs to be done, write it down so you don’t forget it, but don’t let it distract you from your current task. Your mind will be at ease knowing you won’t forget anything, allowing you an even better focus on the task at hand.

One Step at a Time by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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onestepAny major pursuit in life is a big undertaking. There are often many months and many steps required to reach a goal. Because of this, major accomplishments can seem overwhelming, and this feeling causes many people to give up on their goal.

There’s a very old joke that speaks to the problem of overcoming an overwhelming goal. It goes like this: “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.”

This old saying is a great way to remember that no major goal can be accomplished at once. Any big undertaking must be taken just like eating an elephant – one small bite at a time. There are several advantages to breaking your undertaking down into several steps.

1. Breaking your goal down into smaller steps gives you a plan. When you list the small steps in sequential order, you immediately have a plan to follow to reach your goal. Take it one step at a time, and you’ll get there.

2. It’s easy to measure your effectiveness. When you measure how you accomplish each smaller goal, you’ll be able to see if you’re on track to reach the larger goal.

3. You’ll avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed. When you break a large goal down into smaller ones, you can get a sense of accomplishment regularly, and you’ll feel that you’re making progress. It is this feeling of accomplishment that helps you stay motivated toward achieving the larger goal.

4. Consistency is easier. When you are able to work on smaller goals and you see accomplishment regularly, you are likely to be more consistent in your overall efforts. When you are measuring yourself only in larger goals, it can be tempting to feel the need for a break once a goal is achieved. With smaller goals, you get just as much accomplished, but you don’t feel so exhausted when you finish.

The work is the same whether you attack a project as one large task or several smaller ones. However, the psychological advantages attained by breaking that elephant into small bites may be just what you need to keep going until you reach your goal.

One Person Can (and does) Make a Difference by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And, I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Edward Everett Hale

When you are busy with business and life responsibilities, it can be easy to neglect doing things in your community. We often think that because we don’t have a lot of time or a lot of money, our contributions are worthless. However, giving back to your 1personcommunity is important at all stages of your life and of your career. Everyone can give. And, every little bit helps when it comes to time and money. Here are three reasons why it’s important to give back to your community even when your time and money are limited.

1. It makes you feel good. The stress of everyday life can take its toll. We all need rest, but that rest shouldn’t necessarily be just sitting at home with our feet up. Doing work that is different than what we do for a living and that makes us feel as though we’ve made a difference can be relaxing and invigorating at the same time.

2. It gives you a fresh perspective. You may learn some very valuable lessons for your business while volunteering. You may see new ways of doing things or managing resources. You may also meet some potential customers.

3. It looks good for you and your business. In today’s society, people desire the chance to do business with people who are part of the fabric of the community. When you volunteer and give in your community, others will see you as being willing to make a contribution, as opposed to being someone who is only in the community to make money from it.

You may feel that you don’t have one more minute in your day to add another activity. Your purse strings may be stretched so tight that you can’t imagine making a contribution to anything else. But, once you get out in your community and see what a difference you can make, you’ll be hooked!

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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As a leader in business, it is critical to guard your professional reputation. Once you have compromised your personal brand, it can be very difficult to recover from the damage. There are many things that go into your overall reputation, including your ethics and integrity.saywhatyourmean

One of the most important aspects of maintaining your personal brand is being a person of your word. Keeping your word is simple, but it is not always easy, particularly when there are many things vying for your attention or when there is bad news to deliver. However, it is of paramount importance if you wish to be a trustworthy business person.

There are two primary pieces to being a person of your word. The first is saying what you mean. This means that you set appropriate expectations with those you interact with.

Don’t be the person that perpetually avoids bad news. If you have to deliver, for example, the news to a customer that prices are increasing next year, do so in a straightforward manner. Don’t dodge the conversation, or try to hide the increase. Be prepared to explain the reasoning behind the increase, and look for other ways to keep customer costs down.

Always stay ahead of the bad news, too. Even though you may be dreading the delivery, your customers will appreciate you letting them know the real situation as soon as you know it.

The second aspect of being a person of your word is meaning what you say. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you make a commitment to someone to get back to them on a certain day, for example, get back to them. Even if you don’t have the answer; let the person know you didn’t forget, and give them a new expectation of when you can give them the answer owed. People will appreciate that you remember your commitments and act on them.

In today’s world, too many business people fail to recognize the importance of keeping their word. Because of this, those people who do “say what they mean and mean what they say” stand out among the crowd in a particularly positive way. The simple act of keeping your word and being straightforward with your associates and customers may be all it takes for you to keep and grow your business even when the news is not all positive.

The Salaried Entrepreneur by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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As a business owner, hiring the right type of employee is critical to seeing your business grow and succeed. Of course, it is important to choose employees who possess the right skill set for the job, and who have had the prerequisite required training, too. However, to help take your business to the next level, look for employees who have an entrepreneurial spirit. Here are some things to look for to help you find people who will treat your business like their own.

1. Adaptability. As businesses grow and change, processes, procedures and practices must change as well. Choosing adaptable people helps ensure that your business stays agile and keeps up with the changing business environment.

2. Creativity. Your business will consistently need new ideas to keep growing. Creative minds are always thinking of new programs and new ways of doing things. Bringing in creative people and then allowing them to do what they do best will help you to have the important collaboration that helps keep your business moving forward.

3. Responsibility. Employees who think like business owners are responsible. They treat the company’s money like it was their own, and they have reliable and ethical work habits. These are people you can count on to consistently do the work they were hired to do to the best of their ability and to manage time and resources wisely.

4. Customer focus. Employee entrepreneurs work hard to take care of customers because they inherently understand how important each customer is to the bottom line. These are people you can count on to treat your customers just the way you would treat them.

When you surround yourself with employees who think like business owners, your business will flourish over time. There will be bumps along the way, of course, but you will be equipped with a team of problem solvers who can make changes as required. With others on your team who think like entrepreneurs, you can be certain that everyone is looking out for the best interest of your business and your customers.

The Five Percent Difference by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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When we need to make a change in our work life, we frequently believe we must make big changes in order to see results. Often measurable results can be gained with tweaks, as opposed to drastic changes. Making a five percent change in your intention at work often leads to much more than a five percent gain. Here are some examples:

• If you spend 60 minutes per day socializing with other employees, and you cut that time by five percent, you gain 3 minutes per day. At the end of the month, you’ve put in one extra hour of work. If you spent that extra hour, for example, making cold calls, could you increas5percente your sales? Or, could you get home a little earlier on Friday nights? Three minutes a day seems miniscule, but it can add up quickly.

• Consider the time you spend doing repetitive tasks, as well. Tasks like sending reminder emails to customers, for example, can seem quick, but can actually take up quite a bit of time over the period of a week. Could you automate those emails, or set up email templates that would cut your time by even five percent? Remember that five percent of a 40 hour work week is two hours, which is a significant chunk of time to regain for using toward more important tasks.

Focusing five percent more is difficult to quantify. However, most of us can find little time wasters in our day if we take an honest look. Getting rid of these time wasters and increasing your focus on the work at hand produces measurable results over time.

Spend some time taking a look at how you spend your day at work. It’s likely that you can find areas where giving five percent more intention would really pay off. Whether you use that time for increasing productivity or just to help you cut out the excess hours you’re working, you’ll be amazed at how much five percent can really buy.