Take a Hike or Jump in the Lake!

sunglasses by poolIt’s summertime…that time of year when the weather is warmer, the days are longer and nature beckons you to escape outdoors. When you get out and enjoy what is around you, you will create a positive shift for your mind, body and spirit (and the people around you will be happier). Here are a few ideas:

  • Inhale, exhale. When you breathe in fresh air (rather than recirculated indoor air), your brain will be refreshed and stimulated by the intake of oxygen, resulting in clearer thinking.
  • Shift your focus. Focusing on one task for too long leads to fuzzy thinking. Put a task aside, focus on something that doesn’t require such intense thinking, then come back to it later.
  • Move it! Movement stimulates thinking. If you are struggling or are sluggish, get up and move. It will open up your thinking.
  • Clear your mind. Just like clearing the computer of cookies, clearing your mind lets you start fresh.
  • Go outside every day. Even if you have just five minutes, spend it outside in nature. Enjoy your morning coffee on the deck. Stop at the park on your way home from work. Walk around the neighborhood. Play with your dog or your kids in the back yard.
  • Share the space with others. If you are a team leader, why not host your next team meeting outside? The ideas will flow when people are surrounded by green space rather than white space.

Including nature in your daily activities allows you to stress less, interact better with work colleagues and produce higher quality work.

How to Position Yourself as a Valuable Resource at Work

MP900439442When you set a strategic goal for yourself to “Become recognized as a valuable resource at work,” here are some potential action steps to take:

  1. Look for opportunities in meetings to openly share your ideas and opinions. Present your ideas in an inclusive, non-threatening manner, using confident (not aggressive) language.
  2. Be known as a subject matter expert. Let others know that you are a resource in your area of expertise, and that you would be happy to share your knowledge with them. Remember, you are a resource (humble), not a know-it-all (egotistical).
  3. Continue learning. Remain current on trends and market changes in your industry and in your field. Share that knowledge with others.
  4. Ask for more experience or more challenging work. If you want more experience or a more challenging work environment, discuss your desire with your boss or supervisor. The next time a large project comes up, who do you think s/he will think of first?
  5. Volunteer to work on more challenging projects. The room usually goes quiet when people ask for volunteers in meetings. A career-changing experience could be waiting for you on the other side of “yes.”
  6. Continue your education with classes or special certifications. The expectation with letters behind your name is this: You know your stuff.
  7. Be the best you can be, and produce consistently good work. You will gain the reputation of being knowledgeable and reliable.
  8. Share new information. When you attend conferences or professional development programs, share some of the highlights of what you learned with your colleagues.
  9. Work with people who will expand your thinking. Work on a team with people whom you admire and respect and who will stretch your thinking.
  10. Know what opportunity looks like when it comes knocking on your door. People’s careers can shift dramatically when they make one important strategic choice along the way. Lead a big project. Serve on a committee or task force. Accept a new position.
  11. Tell yourself, “I am a resource.” Own this title. Embrace it fully. Be proud of what you contribute to the organization.

When your resourcefulness shines, others will be attracted to you. They will recognize how  valuable you are to the organization. Begin today by creating your action plan.


Position Yourself as a Valuable Resource


What kind of resource are you? Are you the “go to” person who people come to for specific information? Most importantly, how are you positioning yourself as a valuable resource within your company or organization?

Professionals who invest the time to develop their abilities, skills and talents as a valuable resource are rewarded with more challenging project work, greater responsibilities and career advancement.

There are two ways to serve as a resource: Know the information that you are sharing and know the places to go for information.

When I started my first job out of college, I worked for an organization with a research department. I learned over time that one of the best resources within the organization was a woman who worked within the research department. If Ann didn’t know the answer immediately, she knew exactly where to go for the information. And isn’t that what a researcher does? I once got some ink on a white skirt. Ann knew the exact product to remove that ink! She earned the reputation as the go to person. She taught me early on in my career that each and every one of us can develop our ability to serve as a valuable resource within our company or organization.

Let me be clear about one thing: There is a big difference between a resource and a “know it all.” A “know it all” possesses a healthy ego, can be arrogant at times, can disregard your opinion as being inferior, and often forces information on you when you didn’t ask for it. A resource, on the other hand, provides the right information at the right time, considers the other person’s thoughts and opinions, and remains open, nonjudgmental and helpful. The aim of a resource is to provide appropriate assistance in the most direct and thorough way possible.

Observe the type of information that people request of you. Listen carefully to their questions. You will then see how others view you – and use you – as a resource. To help you understand more about your role as a resource, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Specifically, what kind of information do people request of me?
  2. On a broader scale, what general knowledge do I possess?
  3. If the question is outside my expertise, what other resources could be helpful?
  4. What do I need to do to position myself more effectively as a valuable resource?

Next week I will share some ideas to get you started on how to position yourself as a valuable resource. Until then, get busy answering the above questions.


Look on the Bright Side

White Clouds in Blue SkyMy favorite song of the hit musical, Monty Python’s Spamalot, is Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Leave it to the creative minds of the Monty Python team to develop a spoof of the beloved story of Camelot. The song suggests that even amidst the challenges of the 12th Century, people can still remain positive. (And, of course, the catchy songs will stick in your head, so buying the soundtrack is a must). While our lives have certainly changed throughout the centuries, one thing remains the same: A positive attitude can lift you out of the most dismal of circumstances.

Take rain, for instance. We have received a fair amount of it during the past few months. Some people only associate rain with dark, gloomy skies and dreariness. They see one rain drop and the negative comments pour in. “This Spring was just awful. We had way too much rain” some will say. “I just wish all this rain would go away” others will add. They forget that rain is an essential part of the cycle of life. Without water, we die.

As a Master Gardener, I love rain. It means I don’t have to water my garden. Mother Nature handles it for me (and she does a far better job than I do anyway). When I look at my garden, I see lush, colorful plants, happy to receive the natural – rather than chemically treated – water. When someone makes a negative comment about rain, I spin it to the positive. “This is the best my garden has looked in the past few years,” I say. I choose to see things differently.

What attitude are you projecting? Do you inspire and motivate others to look on the bright side of life?

Beat Procrastination – Reward Yourself

HikerFrom the time we are born, we are socially conditioned to operate within a reward system. If we do something good (or correct), we are rewarded. If we do something bad (or wrong), we are either not rewarded or punished. That socialization is ingrained deep within us, and can be used to help us focus on our goals. In this fourth blog post about beating procrastination, we explore how to reward yourself.

Iconic physiologist Ivan Pavlov conducted a small experiment with dogs on salivation and digestion more than a century ago. That project led to the discovery of classical conditioning which, Pavlov concluded, was a learning process that occurred through association of stimuli. Throughout the research project, the dogs became conditioned to behave in a certain way. Even though he himself was not a psychologist, Pavlov’s work has contributed greatly to the field of study that we know today as behavioral psychology.

Just like Pavlov’s dogs, we all need a reward now and then. When it comes to beating procrastination, you can reward yourself for accomplishing great things. You may have written an outstanding report and submitted it early. Or you may have published your first article in a leading industry publication. Or you may have finally completed that huge project and delivered it on time and under budget. What will be the reward for your achievement? Here are a few ideas: A day off. A massage. Tickets to a sporting event or a live performance. A shopping spree. A weekend getaway. That diamond tiara or gold watch you’ve been admiring at Tiffany’s.

How often do you reward yourself? At the end of every week, month, quarter, or save it for a big trip at the end of the year? The choice is yours. Setting up a reward system could be the tool you need to keep you focused and achieving your goals.