Write Your Own Prescription For Health And Happiness

prescription for happinessHave you ever said to yourself “I wish THEY made a pill for that?” If so, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re on board with about 95% of the population. But, the fact of the matter is that “the pill” has always been there, right in front of you the entire time.

I am convinced that 95% of all health problems and “need” for medication stem from lack of nutritional upkeep via healthy diet, proper sleeping habits, and exercise. But here is the kicker… each one of these depends on the other. You can eat like the biggest health nut on the planet, but if you’re not getting enough exercise and/or sleep, it’s not going to have the same effect as if it was balanced by the others.

“You are the sum of what you consume. Be careful what you feed yourself with; physically and mentally.”

I’m amazed at the number of people who are convinced that what they hear on the radio and see on their TVs is 100% accurate. I haven’t owned a TV for over 10 years and since I’ve moved to Phoenix, which was almost two years ago, I’ve yet to turn my radio on.

The amount of “noise” is sickening. I think it was Donald Trump who said: “I’d rather not be informed at all than to be misinformed.” Think of all the people you know who base their life on “other’s” lifestyle. Or worse yet, watching them to continuously watch Hollywood fed fairy tales and expect for their friends and family to follow suit. Sure, it’s an industry and a business but it’s not a healthy one. We all have the same amount of time, so consider how much of it you spend reading or watching about “bath salts” and “child abductions” or “political spin doctors.” Consider allotting that time reading a good book about world history, or the amazing wonders of insulin and how our bodies function properly. Or perhaps spend some time at a local community center or church. Better yet, spend the time with the people that you love, whether it’s in person, on the phone, or via video conference.

When you find yourself being unhappy with yourself, that’s the perfect time to love those who mean the most to you even more.

Decision Modes

decision makingJames Archer of Forty Agency released an excellent example of what takes place during a decision making process. He breaks it down into four different categories. They are:

Spontaneous

Fast and Emotional decision making often referred to as Choleric. Spontaneous decision makers like it when they see themselves. When they see something as “quick and easy”, they encourage themselves to act upon and move forward.

Competitive

Fast and Logical decision making often referred to as Melancholic. Competitive decision makers like to be given credentials and proof. Explaining the uniqueness of the product or service (much like Al Ries and Jack Trout refer to in their book “Positioning”) and showing “The Best” and/or “The Only”, is what attracts this group of decision makers.

Humanistic

Slow and Emotional decision making often referred to as Sanguine. Humanistic decision makers like it when a sensory experience is created for them. They seek a story told based on emotion.

Methodical

Slow and Logical decision making often referred to as Phlegmatic. The methodical decision makes like the process explained to them, so providing them with details and examples allows them to dig in and decide accordingly.

I’d like to thank James Archer of The Forty Agency for doing the research and providing the content used in this post. If you’d like to read up and learn more about the four personality types listed in this post, I recommend reading “Positive Personality Profiles” by my dear friend Robert A. Rohm Ph.D..

Brain Trust

brain trustWhat is Brain Trust? When do we recognize an empathic trigger for decision making? Is there a thought process that takes place to make this happen? Or do we go with our gut feeling?

To neurophilosophy pioneer, Patricia Churchland, Brain Trust argues that:

“Morality originates in the biology of the brain. She describes the “neurobiological platform of bonding” that, modified by evolutionary pressures and cultural values, has led to human styles of moral behavior.”

I’m going to touch on a couple of areas that I feel to be key points in which allow us to make decisions. All three comparisons are very similar but each unique to their own.

Intuition vs. Intellect

Intuition is defined as the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. This is a feeling in which we will posses for a very short period of time. A period of time that will either make or break the outcome based on our action(s). Most people I’ve discussed this with tend to refer to their “gut feeling” when we discuss this. A feeling. A heartfelt feeling that comes from the inside. Something personal and real. Most who are aligned with this often refer to a divinely guided source; faith based and often a very spiritual “pointer” or “marker” allowing them to come to a conclusion.

Intellect is often defined as the power of knowing as distinguished from the power to feel and to will: the capacity for knowledge. Now, I can’t say that I completely agree with this, as I’ve always been under the impression that it’s a matter of one’s capacity of knowledge (facts) but not necessarily anything to do with actual wisdom or what’s more commonly referred to as “common sense”. This kind of compares to what I recently posted about my “IF, THEN, and GOTO” philosophy. The use of intellect when making decision

Emotion vs Logic

I think most of us know the bodily feelings we get when emotion kicks in and I’m convinced that it’s the primary force in which guides us. And if not, it needs to be. More often than not, I see people over-think and over-analyze a situation (God know’s I’ve done this… a lot!) and create a very complex (and often busy, inaccurate) decision based on knowledge and noise they’ve gathered over the years. This is often self-sabotaging and damaging to others involved. We’re creatures of the heart and possess a certain amount of morality. I believe this to be something very personal and very natural for all of us and think we need to embrace it more than any other attribute assigned to us.

As far as logic is concerned, I believe this to have one place and one place only: To make a decision based on black and white. If there is something proven in an area that is not influenced by human opinion and has a solid basis, something proven in the area of science, then by all means… use it. Working extensively with technical professionals, and very recently being involved in an intimate relationship with a scientist, I’ve noticed one thing in common. Whether we want to admit or not, we all think we have a profound answer to all situations. Whether it’s something we’ve stored in our own little God-given storage banks or a reference we have access to. We believe we have all the answers and overlook one small detail: Emotion; one thing that has no predictability.

Do you think decision making is a methodological or humanistic approach?

Fail Like A Champion

success through failureHave you ever looked back and laughed at your past struggles?

Last week while sitting in on a podcast with other StorytellersAZ members, the topic of “Failure” was brought to the table. Tyler Hurst led us off and brought up some interesting points regarding the learning curve. Brian LaPan expressed he didn’t believe in failure. Now, I can certainly appreciate both viewpoints and respect each one, I just have to say this:

I’ve been failing for 35 years. Every person who God has brought into my life has been a teacher in one way shape or form. As a result, I work very hard to fail each and every day, better each time. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized that I need to embrace failure. Otherwise, if I resist… I cannot succeed. And that will give me results based on fear. Fear of failing and a halt to any progress on any project I’m working on. It could be anything: Professional, Personal, Spiritual, or Financial.

Now, I hope that this post doesn’t come across as negative. It certainly isn’t meant to. Because in the world of “balance”, we need to see both sides of everything. With every failure, through perseverance, is an achievement. And with every achievement, there is a success story. And we all like success stories. So for me (and probably anybody reading this), it’s all about the experience. I wholeheartedly believe that when we put forth an honest effort and keep clear of any outside variables that aren’t “for us”, that anything we want… we get. It is when we allow ourselves to get “murked up” by the world’s noise, that is when things get thrown off course.

I may or may not get into some of my failures later in future posts, but I can say this. With each one, I’ve learned that keeping a sense of humor is key. Be grateful for the experience and move onto the next attempt. If you should find yourself continuing the same mistakes, resulting in familiar failures, you probably want to ask yourself this: “Does my passion suck?” or “Am I just very stubborn?” – either one of these can and will be the demise of your goal(s). Learn to recognize and respond accordingly and fail like a champion!

What markers do you use when failures surface in your life?

How Is Trust Built?

how trust is built“Trust is a peculiar resource; it is built rather than depleted by use.” ~ Unknown

To build trust, we must use our self-awareness and self-management skills which we’ve acquired over time. Determining the level of trust we need to cultivate depends on the connection which we identify with others. For example, the barista who makes my coffee drink gets a different level of commitment to trust with me that the woman I share my life with. The project manager or resource coordinator of a business account gets a different level of commitment than a field engineer does. Now, none of these holds more or less value, simply some don’t require as much attention as others. It really comes down to focus and priority.

By using social awareness skills, we need to ask others what needs to happen to increase the current level of trust. Being sure to actually listen to the answer. This helps build trust, and overall deepens the relationship.

Here are few key points I’ve found that aid in building trust:

1. Open Communication – The willingness to share ourselves and what is important to us with others often helps establish a common understanding. If done honestly and wholeheartedly, the driving force of positive actions will allow for a foundation to be created, one in which can be used for continued growth.

2. Consistency in Words, Actions, and Behavior – Following through with what we say we are going to do is a huge part of building trust. When we commit to something, regardless of size, it’s still a commitment and must be followed through in order for it to have any value. Whether it be following through with a return phone call, arriving on time for dinner plans, meeting a school/work related deadline, or planning long term family goals. Any of these can “make or break” a friendship/relationship. No matter what size the commitment, no matter what level of importance, what we say to others as to what we’re going to do, it’s up to us to follow through. Otherwise, we can’t be taken seriously. We eventually establish a characteristic with others that we are “true to our word(s)” and display respect and integrity, or allow for ourselves to be seen as one who cannot be trusted, and often at times considered a liar. This is a very difficult place to be in and most often requires a deep look in the mirror. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to repair what we’ve damaged.

3. Avoid Giving Mixed Signals – How we communicate, whether it be via the written word, spoken word– consisting of the tone of voice, and/or body language – determine the level of accuracy which others will perceive us. The signals we send to the people in our relationships are made through proactive conversation and feedback. When we express feelings, we express the truth. More often than not, these expressions are raised to a heightened level through our reactions and body language, regardless of the words we choose. In a world that is saturated by text messaging, which is usually limited to 140 characters or less, our “on the fly” lifestyles that we’ve adapted in the fast paced and fairly disconnected society, it seems that we rarely establish an accurate means of dialogue. I’ve seen some of the world’s best authors and speakers completely misconceived due to a single letter typo, improper punctuation, or quick witted answer.

Something to consider: People will always trust what they see over what they hear. Actions speak louder than words… so focus on following through with everything you commit to. Otherwise, why bother?

Emerging Approaches To Leadership

emerging leadershipAfter beginning a two year research to propose some leadership theories which focus on a particular characteristic of a leader, leaving out the followers and situations from the equation, I’ve been able to break down leadership into the following four categories: Charismatic Leadership, Attribution Leadership, Transactional Leadership, and Transformational Leadership.

Charismatic Leadership

The theory behind Charismatic Leadership emphasizes the ability of a leader to communicate new visions of an organization to its followers and to raise follower awareness of the importance and core value of goals, often getting people to exceed their own interests.

Charismatic Leaders are dominant, able to express their vision, are exceptionally self-confident, have a high need for power, and have a strong conviction in the moral “righteousness” of their beliefs. They strive to project a magnetic personality which emanates success and competence, and they convey high expectation for and confidence in followers. Leader who possess and exhibit these characteristics inspire trust, confidence, affection, admiration, emotional involvement, obedience, and high performance in their followers. The Charismatic Leader often appears under conditions of uncertainty or in times of crisis which are stressful and make more cognitively and emotionally receptive to the ideas and actions of someone perceived as a so-called savior.

Attribution Theory

Attribution Theory deals with trying to make sense out of Cause and Effect Relationships. When an event takes place, people want to attribute it with a specific cause. This theory states that leadership is simply an attribution that people make about other individuals. The fundamental flaw is a bias in the perception process because people tend to attribute the behavior of other people to their own motivation and ability rather that the situation. Research has found that people tend to characterize leaders as having traits such as personality, understanding, intelligence, strong verbal skills, aggressiveness, and often at time display industriousness.

At the organizational level, attribution theory explains why people are prone to attribute either the extremely negative or the extremely positive performance of an organization to its leadership. This theory fails to take in consideration influences or forces from the external environment. Therefore, people have a “built-in” tendency to give too much credit to other people or to place too much blame on them.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional Leadership takes place when leaders and their followers are in some type of exchange relationship which satisfies needs for one or both parties. The exchange can be economic, psychological, or political in nature; and examples might include exchanging money for work, loyalty for consideration, and political favors. Transactional Leaders help organizations reach their current goals and objectives more efficiently by connecting job performance to valued rewards or by ensuring that employees have the needed resources to get the job done. Transactional Leadership is very common but tends to be transitory, in that there may be no lasting purpose to hold parties together once a transaction takes place.

James MacGregor Burns noted that while this type of leadership could be quite effective, it did not result in organizational or even societal change and, instead tended to perpetuate and legitimize the status quo. In conclusion, Transactional Leaders view management as a series of transactions in which they use their legitimate, reward, and coercive powers to give commands and exchange rewards for services rendered.

Transformational Leadership

The Transformational Leadership process is currently the most popular leadership perspective, and it moves way beyond the more “traditional” transactional approach to leadership. Transformational Leadership is related to charisma in that these leaders motivate people to exceed their personal interests for the sake of the larger community. It also produces levels of dependent efforts and performance that go beyond what would occur with a Transactional Leadership approach alone. In addition, Transformational Leadership is much more than just charisma. While the purely charismatic leader may want followers to adopt his or her “world view” and go no further, the Transactional Leader will attempt to instill in followers the ability to question not only the established views but eventually those established by the leader.

Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus have defined four skills of leadership, which are required for the Transformational Leader to be successful: First, is a strategic vision or goal that evokes people’s attention. Second, is the ability to successfully communicate that vision through words, manners, or symbolism. The third skill set is to have the capacity to build trust by being consistent, dependable, and persistent. And lastly, the fourth skill required for a Transformational Leader to be successful is the capability of positive self-regard–by striving for success. The use of these four skills builds follower commitment and pumps them up to adopt the leader’s vision as their own. They also perform their jobs better, engage in more organizational citizenship behaviors, and make better or more creative decisions.

To close, Transformational Leadership is closer to the prototype of leadership that people have in mind when the describe their ideal leader and is more likely to provide a role model in which dependents want to identify.

This wraps up an 24 month long journey down the leadership road. One in which I’m very grateful to have traveled and will continue to do so. Thank you to everybody who supported me along the way. If you have any insight or wish to share your experiences – please consider leaving a comment to my closing questions.

Of the four categories of leadership I described above, which one do you feel fits best into your daily life? Is there anything that you disagree with? If so, what is it and why?

Communication Is Key

communication is keySomething I’ve echoed for years is “Problems stem from the lack of or poor communication.”

Sometimes overwhelming emotions or uncertainties can throw us off track when searching for solutions, either large or small. Regardless, they need to be attended to and handled with thorough thought and mature reasoning.

How do you find a medium that works for you; between verbal and non-verbal communication?

A recent speech given by Michael Hyatt at the Liberty University touched on some great elements on how we can communicate more effectively; by dealing with offenses. I think we often forget that offenses are a choice we make and until we understand that, we will continue to inhibit our ability to communicate effectively. And by allowing ourselves to accept the inevitable, we grow as people, for our families, for our friends, and for our communities.

Spoken Words: Know when to hold them, and know when to fold them.

God has given us two ears and only one mouth for a reason. By listening to others, we open ourselves to have a better understand them. Being able to set aside our own need to be heard, and listening to others, allows us to help increase the likelihood to better understand them. Who they are, what their interests are, what the dreams and goals are, and most important–what they have in common with us.

We express ourselves verbally to receive feedback, to be understood and heard. Even those who don’t understand exactly what they are saying often learn to separate the emotion from intellect, thus allowing for effective communication. When it comes to non-verbal communication, adapting or “blending” our body language opens up a whole new level of effectiveness. This supports most communication studies that state body language being the dominating factor in human interaction. Putting our tone of voice in second place and the actual words we say in third. Again, this supports my delay of incorporating written word into my personal life.

Can Storytellers Be Part Of A Domino Project?

domino project azWhen there are people who share a common goal, things happen. Progress happens. Leadership happens. Results happen. Awesome happens.

Each one of us has something different to offer the world. We have the ability to connect with people that share a common goal or dream. When we embrace what is important to us, ideas are shared and stories begin to surface.

The other night, I attended a collaboration event of local writers to the Phoenix area. Inspired by The Domino Project, both Tyler Hurst and Jeff Moriarty organized its focus on writers and storytellers who are looking to do more with their current projects.

There were about 15 of us, each with something to share and discuss with others what we think we need to do, to better ourselves. Most of us seem to be at a stop with our current (projects) because (1) we either feel that our content is lacking or (2) we don’t know how to get to the next step.

After Tyler and Jeff spent a few minutes going over what brought us all together and we answered some questions. We then proceeded to go around, one by one, and describe what each of us could teach others about storytelling, as well as, the things we would you like to learn from it. There was a great mix — from technical writers to creative writers, from screenplay and sketch work writers to humorists and bloggers.

I’ve never considered myself a writer, I probably never will. I’m not sure why but I can say that while growing up and going to school, my least favorite classes and activities were any of those that had a lot of writing. I’m not 100% sure how or why, but I think some of it stems from early communication courses. Both verbal and non-verbal communications are of the essence when it comes to interacting with others. And considering that 15-20% of what we say (in words… by themselves) are effective. While the remaining 80-85% pertains to the tone of voice and body language, I guess I never saw the point in writing.

When it came time to share with others what we were doing and why we were there, I broke my introduction into two parts. The first part was a brief history of how and why I communicate with others while emphasizing on the emotional intelligence and the use of relevant and effective analogies. The second part was a description of my current book series project and the reasoning behind it, which you can find here.

This is how the first part of my introduction was summarized:

Analogies – are seedlings to stories. During some time working in the IT industry, we found that most clients needed to have a good understanding as to what was going on with their network infrastructure, most being medical, legal, or finance professionals – their focus was their industry. Learning about what they did and understanding their lingo, per se, allowed us to use various analogies, which gave us the opportunity to communicate with them effectively and efficiently.

Engagement – connecting with who you communicate. While we experience life as it comes, we learn that through storytelling, we create a connection with our audience. Listeners and readers, leaders and followers, and, speakers and writers; each and not limited to their own way in relating to others. Focusing in on how we connect with others allows for us engage and continues the way we relate.

With the use of analogies, storytellers are able to engage with their audiences. While we are still able to individually recognize and respond to those we are speaking with, we also create something; a bond, a common and distinct connection. Sometimes the fragments of our past, help align us to project our futures. So, by using analogies for the sake of engaging with our audience(s) — keep in mind who you are speaking to and what common objectives are sought.

How do you effectively communicate with others outside your industry?

Community Leadership

community leadershipHave you ever been asked to help with a great cause to share and make a difference within your community?

A couple of months ago, I was approached by Shawn Murphy of Achieved Strategies to see if I wanted to contribute a guest blog post. It was a blog series titled “Revive and Thrive” and its focus was for this new year of 2011. Of course, I was willing to participate and help add value to the cause. Being able to contribute alongside the many great members of the leadership community was a great privilege.

At the time, I focused on four key areas in which I found to be important based on discussions with leaders from several communities, such as Lead Change Group, Twitter’s #CustServ chat which is focused on Customer Service and is held every Tuesday night at 9 PM Eastern Time, and those from the 2010 World Business Forum Blogger’s Hub.

In a post titled “What’s Next” – The four areas in which I felt were important for us to ‘Revive and Thrive in 2011’ were: Relationships, Following, Leading, and Experience.

I believe that each of the four, are key areas in which we need to focus on during the rest of this year. The relationships we have in our lives today are paving the way we choose to live our lives tomorrow. With positive communication, we are able to help others achieve their goals and dreams. If any of these become hindered, we need to recognize and respond to it immediately. Almost all problems stem from lack of and/or poor communication.

The next two key areas I feel go hand and hand, a ‘yin and yang’ of principals if you will. Following and Leading. This is always a great topic of discussion, as many times people will ask “What makes a great leader?” “How can somebody lead all the time and never follow?” “If somebody is following others, how are they able to lead?” – I think you get the idea.

The fact of the matter is that both are equally important and tend to feed each other. Who we follow today are those we will lead tomorrow. And, those who we lead today will help those we want to follow tomorrow. If we continue to follow the “Define, Learn, Do” model – we continue to keep things moving in the right direction. Forward.

Lastly, I touched on the importance of Experience. All of us are here for a very short period of time. When we are able to connect with others, we are opening the doors to new experiences. Whether it is personally, professionally, or spiritually – what we do today cannot be taken away from us. There is so much opportunity available to us, only we can make the decision to make our goals and dreams become realities.

Take One Step Back, and Two Steps Forward

one step back two steps forwardHave you ever taken a step back to look where you are in your career? Do you have yourself positioned to move forward if you so choose to? Sometimes advancing is easier than you think.

Just the other day, I reconnected with an old friend. Currently working at a Help Desk she expressed an interest in both Project Management and Business Analysis, IT related.

Here is what I told her I saw based on previous experience:

The ITIL (glorified glossary but some staffers love seeing the cert) seems to be gaining more and more weight within the IT industry. When it was first introduced, it was a joke. Nothing more than a test of one’s understanding of terms… no focus on fundamental platforms, understanding of code, or overall logic. But, it now actually contains some good placement. You probably already see the ridiculous amount of certifications that are available. Most are in place to appease employers, but I’ve found experience outweighs any certification I’ve ever obtained, and I stopped counting after 20. It just got out of control past that.

While consulting, I found that both areas (project management and business analysis) of interest that you have can blend together very well. A project manager for IT based rollouts don’t need to be much of a techie, just the ability to have a basic understanding of what is going on and how to efficiently and effectively communicate with the buyer, the vendor(s) and his or her internal workforce. Some of my best paying jobs were when I would oversee and new rollout or system integration. If you’re easy to get along with and can communicate well with others, it’s a piece of cake.

Unfortunately, true “business analysts” are in a tough position right now. Due to the current upswing in the marketplace, companies are not looking at cutting costs (surprisingly) as they are looking at preparing for the next 10 to 15 years of growth and revenue generation. Expect to see a lot more small businesses pop up and loyalty based cultures get put in place amongst them. The ‘big box’ corporate strongarms are going to get gobbled up by larger/merging markets and will flounder as (cough) “standards” – for the masses.

What are you doing now… is it scalable? Is it helping you? Or is it hindering your opportunity for advancement in the workforce?