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    Attitude

    4 Brain Hacks to a More Satisfying Work Day

    November 14, 2019 368 Views No comments

    According to Gallup research, as few as 13% of US employees are engaged at their jobs. I’ve been reading a lot lately about things business leaders and managers can do to deal with this trend. Management consultants and coaches advise a list of cures, including upgraded perks, mindfulness practices, training in psychological safety, daily surveys, and enhanced leadership practices – some of which actually work.


    Yet I can’t find anything about what employees themselves can do when they feel disengaged. And, face it, not all companies are equipped to improve what disengaged employees experience. So I’m sharing these 4 neuroscience-based brain hacks on what any employee can do to make their days more interesting, more tolerable, and maybe even more satisfying than what they’re feeling now.


    1. Take a phone break. We pay a price for our reliance on mobile technology: rising distraction and stress. The little buzzes and chirps that call our attention to our phones have trained us to constantly anticipate interruptions and “things we need to do.”

    I’m far from alone in writing about the impact of tech on the quality of life, though I explore it (and what to do about it!) in The Happiness Hack. We all need to realize that our dependence on our phones is changing our brains in ways associated with anxiety, stress, and even obsessive behavior. Getting our phones out of sight and out of mind, even for a short stretch of time each day, reminds us that we have a say in the way we think and act. It also helps us reconnect with more focus and persistence in satisfying ways.

    Putting your phone away won’t change anything about your job. Yet it might remind you that even small acts can feel empowering in ways that might encourage other small acts – or larger ones. Our phones are great at making us forget some of our autonomy and choice. Maybe this small practice will spark an idea or change that reminds you that you have a say in how your time is spent, in ways that ripple out to other aspects of your work day.


    2. Step outside. Schedule time on your calendar to simply walk out the door. Head outside, even if it’s for a short break, and remind yourself of all that’s happening outside of your workplace walls. Pay attention to the sights and sounds around you. Look at the leaves on nearby trees, or see how far you can look out into the distance. Nature shifts brain patterns: natural light helps lower blood pressure; patterns and movements reduce stress. Even a short break can help you reconnect with yourself, check in with what you need to accomplish next, and reset your focus for the rest of the day.


    Want more? Bring a bit of nature, even if it’s only a picture, to the place where you work. Even a quick visual nature break refreshes the brain, improving concentration and focus.

    3. Journal about a goal that matters to you. Take 10 minutes, even 5, to write about a future ambition or priority. Then jot down one simple thing you can do tomorrow to take a step toward this goal (even if all you can do is remind yourself of the goal again). Once you’ve said something about the goal and a small step toward it, write down why achieving this matters to you. This simple exercise calls upon several distinct cognitive cycles, and also “primes” the brain to be more attentive to information aligned with your vision.


    Directing your brain towards a future improvement helps activate thoughts and decisions that are more likely to point toward that improvement. Make this a daily practice and see what happens.


    4. Find one thing. Quick: think of something that is actually good about your work. Maybe there’s a kind co-worker who helps you believe in yourself. Or a project that has glimmers of work you actually like to do. Or maybe there’s new knowledge or a new ability you have the chance to learn. If you can find even one such thing, you have a cornerstone to building more satisfaction at work.


    Connecting through relationships, making a worthy contribution, and seeking growth: these are three timeless keys to happiness. If you can identify one worthy thing and – really, try this if you can – express appreciation and gratitude for it, you’re exercising a part of your brain known to help with stress management, big-picture thinking, emotional regulation, and more.

    I’m not saying employees alone should bear the responsibility for fixing engagement issues or dysfunctions in their workplace, nor am I suggesting anything above is a cure-all for a widespread problem.

    However, we owe it to ourselves to counterbalance workplace challenges by connecting with our own well-being and the bigger picture. See what happens when you try the above practices, and consider sharing them with a work buddy. You may end up getting closer to that percentage of people who actually feel connected to their work – or seeing some new choices to help you get there.

    -Ellen Petry Leanse, neuroscience educator and author of The Happiness Hack

    For more brain hacks, check out The Happiness Hack>>

    Believe You Belong - And You Will

    November 12, 2019 31 Views No comments

    In 10 Simple Secrets of the World’s Greatest Business Communicators, I save the best tip for last. Secret number ten is ‘Reinvent Yourself.’ It simply means that great communicators are made, not born. It could be the most important lesson of all.


    If you don’t believe in your ability to improve as a speaker, to inspire and to electrify your audiences, I’m afraid the other communication strategies won’t do you much good. Here’s the good news—anyone can become a great speaker. Yes, it takes some people longer than others to get really good at it, but you can master the skill that is essential to elevating your success. In fact, people who have always been fairly comfortable at public speaking aren’t necessarily the ones who capture our hearts.


    Great speakers make it look effortless because they put a lot of effort into making it great.


    Let me offer a few examples from people who make an appearance in my book. Not one of these speakers was a ‘natural.’ Some had serious stage fright. But they all have a growth mindset, built their skills, and believed in their ability to reinvent themselves.

    Warren Buffett
    Warren Buffett’s most cherished degree isn’t his business school diploma; it’s a certificate from a Dale Carnegie public-speaking course. Buffett has acknowledged that he was “terrified” of public speaking early in his career. He knew he had to get comfortable in front of groups if he hoped to succeed as an investment advisor. Recently, Buffett has been asked by young people for life advice. Get really good at public-speaking, he always says. It can raise your career value by 50%, instantly, according to Buffett. When a billionaire offers advice, it pays to listen!


    Arnold Schwarzenegger
    I worked as a television news journalist before I made the transition to writing full-time. In 2003, CBS News invited me to cover Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political campaign and his first 100 days as California’s governor. I guess they thought a movie star would be filling his days with celebrity parties. When it became clear that Schwarzenegger was spending his time, well, governing, I got less time on the air. But what I learned changed my life and my career.


    You see, I had a front-row seat to Schwarzenegger’s speeches, sometimes more than one a day. He delivered talks to a wide range of audiences: voters, students, and business leaders. I watched him take complex subjects and customize the language he used for different audiences so they could relate to him and understand the subject. It was an advanced master class in public-speaking.

    Keep this in mind. Schwarzenegger came to the U.S. as a body builder who didn’t speak English very well. The studio hired an actor to provide the voice-over in one of Schwarzenegger’s early movies. However, he attacked the language barrier with the same razor-sharp focus he put into his sports career. In the mid-1990s, Schwarzenegger’s visibility as a political leader began to rise. Schwarzenegger knew that he had to become a better speaker in front of a live audience—not a movie camera. He began to seek out every opportunity to practice. Much as Ronald Reagan had done before him, Schwarzenegger gave speeches to every possible group, not only to share his ideas but to improve his speaking ability.

    Schwarzenegger saw himself as someone very different than the movie-going public saw him. He reinvented himself to pursue that vision.


    Barbara Corcoran
    Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran made a fortune in real estate. She turned a $1,000 loan into a multi-million-dollar empire. Today, Corcoran puts her money behind entrepreneurs who have a good idea and make a pitch on the hit show. Corcoran was once terrified of public speaking. Determined to grow and reinvent herself as a speaker, Corcoran volunteered to teach a real-estate course at a local junior college. It paid off in two ways. She grew more comfortable as a public speaker, and she met a woman who would go on to become one of Corcoran’s top salespeople.

    When you change the way you see yourself as a speaker, the speaker your audience sees will change. Reinvent yourself. Believe you belong—and you will.

    -Carmine Gallo, author of 10 Simple Secrets to the World's Greatest Business Communicators

    For the other 9 secrets, check out 10 Simple Secrets to the World's Greatest Business Communicators>>

    Building Your Physical Capacity

    October 28, 2019 83 Views No comments

    We all have full lives, crowded schedules and constant demands on us. When people are busy, often the first thing that goes by the wayside is health. Even if you know what to do to live a healthy lifestyle, it’s easy to sacrifice a few hours of sleep each night to fit more into the day, or skip a week of exercise because you can’t find time, or choose the unhealthier, but easier, food for dinner.

    But our physical health doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Everything we do is determined by our health—from our energy to get things done, to our ability to avoid getting sick when working under pressure, even to our ability to think and focus.

    While our brain helps drive and guide us through life, it’s our body that is asked to do the heavy lifting day in and day out. If your body is weak and fatigued, your mental stamina and ability to focus will suffer as well. To be a high performer, no matter what you’re doing, you have to build your physical capacity.


    What is Physical Capacity?

    Physical capacity is your ability to improve your health, well-being and physical performance. It acts as either an accelerant or drag on your performance. When your physical capacity is strong, you have more endurance and resilience. When it is weak, doing anything is more difficult because you’ll lack the energy and ability to overcome stress needed to excel.

    It’s easy to take health for granted. So many of us don’t pay enough attention until we get bad news, either with our own health, or that of a friend or loved one. I hit a turning point of my own in 2009, when I had panic attack triggered by extreme stress. At the time, when my heart was racing and I was collapsed to the floor, I thought I was having a fatal heart attack—and that moment compelled me to pay closer attention to my diet and exercise.

    Nutrition and exercise routines can be confusing—what works for one person may not work for others. A good start is to be mindful of what you’re putting into your body. Your diet has a profound effect on your daily life—if you make some positive changes in what you eat, you will quickly notice improvements in your energy and ability to focus.

    For an exercise standpoint, it’s important to do a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training of some kind, whether that’s weight-lifting, yoga, Pilates or something similar. Remember that it’s never too late to start—I ran my first Olympic triathlon at 41, despite having never run over a mile out side of sports practice before I was 35.

    But building physical capacity goes beyond just diet and exercise—another great way to start is focusing on stress management. Stress is often treated as an inevitability of life, and functioning under heavy stress, or on little sleep, is often considered heroic. You have to control your own schedule to combat stress—schedule 15 minute breaks throughout the day, and, whenever possible, get eight hours of sleep each night. You’ll notice a difference in your energy and focus.

    Ask yourself—are you doing all you can to become all you can be? Do you consider health to be something that can be sacrificed to get through a busy day? Do you neglect to set aside time and energy to improving your physical performance? Are you doing what you can to live a less stressful life, even with something as simple as getting more sleep?

    It’s never too late to start. Wherever you are building your capacity, you can certainly reach another level with the right improvements. The people closest to you deserve the best version of you.


    -Robert Glazer, Author of Elevate


    Learn more about building your capacities with Elevate>>

    Building Your Emotional Capacity

    October 23, 2019 2238 Views No comments

    I want you to picture two people, John and Sarah. John is stressed throughout the day. When things are going well, he’s focused and high-performing, but when adversity strikes, he crumbles under pressure. Sarah is often described as resilient and unflappable. When Sarah encounters obstacles, she works through them quickly, and treats failure as a necessary part of learning. Great leaders look more like Sarah than John. When challenges strike, you need to be the one to rally your team and stay confident. No matter how talented, focused and purposeful you are, you have to have the emotional capacity to overcome adversity.


    What is Emotional Capacity?
    Emotional capacity is a measure of your ability to overcome limiting beliefs, your ease in adapting to challenging situations, and the quality of your relationships. No matter how talented, disciplined or values-driven you are, if you don’t have high emotional capacity, you’ll fall short of your goals eventually.


    A challenge in building emotional capacity the self-limiting beliefs we place on ourselves. An example of this is a force called cognitive dissonance, when a person holds two or more contradictory beliefs at the same time. Cognitive dissonance causes us to double down on harmful behavior, invest in negative relationships, and close our minds to information that challenges our preconceptions.


    While it’s hard to see at first, a close-minded approach inevitably limits your ability to grow and reach your full potential. To build your emotional capacity, you must honestly evaluate your own mindset and become open to difficult feedback.


    Many of us limit our potential without even realizing it, and it takes conscious effort to understand what is holding us back—and to address it. As a personal example: for years, I wanted to write a book, but I kept giving myself excuses to avoid doing it. That changed in 2016; while I was in the second year of a three year entrepreneurial masters program, I made a commitment that I would write a book by the time I reached my third year.


    Simply changing my affirmation from, “I want to write a book,” to “I will write a book,” gave me the extra push I needed. I challenged my limiting beliefs, built my emotional capacity, and published my first book, Performance Partnerships, a year later. This year I published my second book, Elevate, which explores capacity building in detail.


    Quality of Relationships

    Building emotional capacity is not just about how you interact with your own mind—the quality of your relationships is also vital. Legendary entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” You need to surround yourself with people who give you energy, who genuinely care about helping you improve, and are not afraid to challenge you to do so.


    Do you have many relationships with people like this? While it can feel good to spend time with people who always make you feel good and never expect you to change for the better, doing this will limit your ability to improve. Needless to say, it’s similarly damaging to spend time with people who are always tearing others down and blaming others for their shortcomings.


    Think carefully about the people you spend the most time with—do they share your core values and respect you enough to tell you when you’re wrong? Are there people in your life who make you feel drained and dissatisfied? If you make a conscious effort to spend time with people who share your values and give you energy, while limited exposure to people who drain you, you’ll feel better in the long run.


    What’s great about capacity building is that it empowers you to not just make yourself better, but to inspire those around you to grow alongside you. If you surround yourself with people who are as committed to achieving as you are, you’ll all push each other to keep growing. If you tackle each day with gratitude and are capable of adapting to adversity, you’ll set an example for people you lead to follow.


    Ask yourself—are you doing all you can to become all you can be? Do you push aside your self-limiting beliefs and take adversity as an opportunity to improve, rather than a crushing setback? Are you spending time with people who want you to reach for full potential, rather than pulling you down to their level?


    You already know the answers to these questions. Wherever you are in your journey to build capacity, you can reach another level. The people closest to you deserve the best version of you.


    -Robert Glazer, Author of Elevate


    Learn more about building your capacities with Elevate>>



    Building Your Intellectual Capacity

    October 11, 2019 2072 Views No comments

    While it’s vital to know what you want in life, getting clarity on that is only part of the journey. Even if you have a clear vision for your ideal life, you then need to develop the skills necessary to achieve it, build the required discipline into your life, and the right goals to bring your vision to life.


    So many people believe their abilities are fixed, and that they cannot change their intellectual capability or their discipline. However, we are all capable of strengthening our ability to execute consistently and gradually build toward our goals.


    What is Intellectual Capacity?

    Do you love the feeling of going to bed at night feeling fulfilled and knowing you made the best of our time that day? Of course you do. If you’d like to feel that way more often, the key is to building your Intellectual Capacity.


    Intellectual Capacity is your ability to think, learn, plan and execute with discipline. A helpful analogy is to think of it as your processor or operating system—building this capacity allows you to do more in less time and with less energy.


    It sounds obvious but it’s true—a huge part of building your Intellectual Capacity is to believe that you can do it. High achievers are always looking for opportunities to learn more and improve themselves. They recognize that mistakes are not just a part of life, but an opportunity to learn. They understand that failing at something today is a necessary step towards mastering it in the future.


    Improving requires us to understand what our weaknesses are. Some of that can be done by taking an honest look at ourselves, but often we need to turn to others. Think about the people in your life who know you well and who you can trust to be honest with you about your shortcomings. In some cases, you’ll receive feedback that will be difficult to hear, but part of capacity building means being open to feedback and using it to grow.


    Once you have a sense of where you want to improve, seek out the resources that will help. A great strategy is to pick a topic you want to learn more about, research the most respected books about that topic, purchase two or three—or check them out of a library—and set aside time to read them. Or, for a quicker download, research podcasts those authors have been on, listen to them, and learn their best points.


    It’s a simple idea, but it’s a great way to upgrade your knowledge—soon, you’ll find yourself handling these topics faster and smarter and making better decisions.
    But Intellectual Capacity goes beyond your knowledge and ability to process information—it also involves setting clear goals that build toward your purpose and core values and moving toward them each day.


    Setting Goals

    Have you written any goals for yourself—either for the year, or further in the future? If you haven’t, you need to; you won’t reach the achievements you want by coincidence. You have to think about what you want and set clear goals that will get you there.


    Setting goals is an area where I’ve completely changed my approach, for the better. In the past, I would routinely set and accomplish year-long goals, but found myself frustrated when those wins didn’t get me closer to what I wanted to achieve in my life.


    The problem is that while achieving goals always feels like an accomplishment, they only will change the trajectory of your life if your quarterly and annual goals feed into your five and 10 year goals. And don’t just pick goals that sound impressive to the outside world, make sure they’re aligned to what you want.


    You can say you want to be CEO of a company as a lifetime goal, but if actually leading a business is not something you want, you won’t be fulfilled when you get there. Maybe you really want to be painting on a farm in the countryside. It’s your life, don’t let others define success for you.


    When it comes to setting goals, quality is far more important than quantity. If you set 100 goals for your life, you’ll probably hit a lot of them, but you’ll also be pulled in too many directions and may miss out on the most important ones. I’ve found it useful to set a small number of goals that are most important to me and pushing everything else to the side whenever possible.
    I know I will feel most fulfilled by those few goals and they are aligned to my core values, so that is where I focus the majority of my time and energy. If I achieve all my most fulfilling goals, I am confident that I won’t be worrying about the less important ones.


    Once you have your goals, it’s important to align your daily life towards pursuing them. It was valuable for me to have a constant reminder of what I was pursuing in the long-term, so I created a tool called the Whole Life Dashboard. This tool is a combination of a self-actualization exercise and an accountability tracker—you can enter your top long-term goals and re-read them each day to stay aligned and on track.


    Building your Intellectual Capacity isn’t a quick or easy process, but if you commit to making incremental progress each day, you’ll see significant results sooner than you think.


    In can be natural to want to achieve something, but feeling as though you lack the ability to do so. It’s vital to understand that any person is capable of building their intellectual capacity. If you take time to learn, set clear goals for yourself, and execute with discipline, you’ll find yourself on a path to what you really want.

    -Robert Glazer, Author of Elevate


    Learn more about building your capacities with Elevate>>


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