4 Ways to Train Your Brain for Success

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by Krista Magidson

Your alarm goes off at 6 AM and immediately your to-do list flashes through your mind. Before brushing your teeth you check your phone for important emails and updates. While putting on your mascara your mind jumps ahead to your noon appointment. At breakfast you rehearse what you are going to say, anticipate objections, and the entire meeting runs through your mind, over and over again. “It’s going to be a long day,” you think to yourself and it’s only 7:30 AM. Sound familiar?

This kind of mental projection is time consuming, unproductive, and exhausting. But you can train yourself and your mind to be present, productive, and supportive with these four easy and effective Applied Meditation techniques.

1. Accept that thinking is inevitable: Over thinking is not the cause of an unproductive mind, allowing yourself to be either distracted by your thoughts or run by them is the problem.

Fighting with your mind or feeling frustrated over your lack of concentration actually makes thinking worse and it is exhausting.

Accepting that the process of thinking is normal and natural is the first step in retraining your mind and your attention. Acceptance is the first step in gaining control.

2. Train your mind with gentle repetition: Lack of focus is a habit. No matter what your personality type, genetic predisposition, or up-bringing you can re-train your mind with gentle and consistent repetition.

When you notice that your attention has wandered during a client meeting or phone call, take a quiet deep breath, and bring your attention back to your client or call.

This is a very powerful practice and you can do it throughout the day. The more you notice or watch your mind when it wanders the more present and focused you become.

3. Dealing with Worry: Worry thoughts are deceptively distracting and draining. Worry takes you right out of the present moment and propels you into the future.

The present moment is where all of your power lies. When you are consistently focused on future events you waste time, energy, and the feeling of powerlessness increases.

Instead, when you find that your attention has wandered towards a worry thought, ask yourself one of two questions: “Is that happening now?” or “Do I need to think about that now?”

Unless it is something that needs your immediate attention, the answer is usually, “No, that is not happening now” or “No, I do not need to think about that right now.” Repeat the question until you feel your attention settling back to the present moment.

This practice is also very useful if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with “to-do’s” on your mind.

4. Take three deep breaths, three times a day: Deep conscious breathing takes focus and it is a wonderful way to train your mind to be present. If you need to, set your phone to alert you at 12 noon, 3 PM, and 7 PM to help remind you.

Your mind is your greatest ally. Use these steps to gain control of your attention and create a mental environment is productive, energetic, and successful… and you will be too.

http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/4-ways-to-train-your-mind-for-success/

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For Happier Employees, Learn To Give More Gratitude Than “Thx”

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by Drake Baer

Do you suffer from Gratitude Deficit Disorder? If you’re like the executives that Mark Goulston’s been running into, you might.

At Harvard Business Review, the business psychiatrist admonishes executives for viewing their teams–especially their assistants–as “appliances.” But unlike the Kenmore in the kitchen, your direct reports have interior lives, and the pay and benefits of the gig may not be enough for them to feel fulfilled. As with other mammals, humans need to feel social connections to do their best work.

Call it the “contented cows give better milk” school of leadership: As has been detailed, the happiest companies are often the most profitable and firms with highly sustainable engagement have three times the operating margin of their less-engaged peers. And expressing gratitude is a reciprocal behavior, meaning that the thanked person is more likely to help the thanker–and less likely to join another company, key for building employee engagement.

How to really say thank you

Goulston lays out three steps for getting good at giving gratitude:

1. Be precise: Thank the person specifically for their exceptional actions: Tell them what they’re doing awesome.
2. Acknowledge the effort: Note the personal cost of their getting it done. If they work through the weekend, appreciate the social and family costs.
3. Share your stakeholdership: Make a point of how their great work helps your work, show how you’re in this together.

Developing a sense of how to show gratitude is a leadership key–one that can help you (and your employees) reach their potential.

Drake Baer covers leadership for Fast Company. You can follow him on Twitter.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3006253/happier-employees-learn-give-more-gratitude-thx

Rehearsing Success or Failure

by Seth Godin

Rehearsing failure, rehearsing success
The active imagination has no trouble imagining the negative outcomes of your new plan, your next speech or that meeting you have coming up.

It’s easy to visualize and even rehearse all the things that can go wrong.

The thing is: clear visualization, repeated again and again, doesn’t actually decrease the chances you’re going to fail. In fact, it probably increases the odds.

When you choose to visualize the path that works, you’re more likely to shore it up and create an environment where it can take place.

Rehearsing failure is simply a bad habit, not a productive use of your time.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/02/rehearsing-failure-rehearsing-success.html

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10 Character Traits of Elite Achievers

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by Gary Korisko. (http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/10-character-traits-of-elite-achievers/)

If you have ever worked really hard toward reaching a goal only to get average results, you know how horrible it feels. And to rub salt in the wound, there are usually a few elite achievers who seemingly work no harder than you who absolutely crush that same goal. It’s frustrating, confusing, and a blow to your ego. I get it.

And you know what? You’re right – those elite achievers probably aren’t working any harder than you. The difference is that elite achievers have figured out the right things to work hard at. Bear with me here.

It’s all too easy to get bogged down in over-planning, procrastination, and self-doubt. These things are time and energy suckers. You can literally waste days, weeks, and months on these types of unproductive behaviors – and not realize it until it’s too late.

While the average spend time and effort on unproductive tasks, elite achievers spend their time on tasks that move them toward their goals.

There’s good news, though. Elite achievers don’t have a secret weapon or some sort of productivity pill. They’ve just developed certain character traits that make it easier to crush their goals.
That means you could be just one or two small adjustments away from joining the ranks of the elite achievers.

Join The Ranks

After decades in sales management, I have observed that all elite achievers share certain character traits. Adopt these ten traits of elite achievers. Put them to work – and watch your goals become much more attainable.

1. Spend Your Time on Implementation
Busy work isn’t always effective work. Don’t confuse the two. Average people spend their time and energy coming up with, rehashing, and discussing ideas. Elite achievers are motivated to spend their time on implementation of ideas. They know that while ideas are the seeds of results, in and of themselves, they are just ideas until they’re acted upon. A brilliant idea unexecuted is worthless. Results come from action.

2. Have Several Back-Up Plans.
Waiting for the perfect plan or tool is insanity. “Perfect” never shows up. Successful people always have a back-up plan…or two…or three. The elite achievers are ready for the unexpected and can roll with the punches when the unexpected occurs.

3. Create Opportunities
As the rest of the world waits, hopes, and wishes for opportunity – elite achievers know that real opportunity is created. Elite achievers reach out to others, spread the word, and step up to the plate. They create opportunity by letting the world know who they are, what they do, and how they can help. And when they create an opportunity, they fully take advantage of it.

4. Dislike, But Tolerate Failure.
While the masses tend to sit back and stew over their plan because there is a chance they could fail and look stupid, elite achievers forge ahead. They know that while failure certainly sucks, it’s not fatal. And each time they fail, they get a little smarter. Elite achievers understand that the small risk of temporarily looking stupid is outweighed by the possibility of real, permanent success.

5. Become “Strong Like Bull”
Elite achievers are tough. We all want people to like us – but guess what? No matter what you do, no matter how wonderful you are – someone is going to dislike you. Elite achievers understand this. Recently I had someone badmouth my writing because I began a post with the word “so.” Guess how much sleep I lost over that one? (none) The elite achievers know they will occasionally fail, that people are going to dislike them sometimes, and that it will hurt a little. By constantly striving for improvement and expecting a little pain along the way, they know that it hurts much less.

6. Find Out For Yourself – Don’t Listen To The Herd
The mediocre crowd has a tendency to believe conventional assumptions about: Themselves, their industry, their product, and their potential. Elite achievers take the time to find out for themselves. They do research, they think outside the box, they consult trusted advisors. Elite achievers couldn’t care less what the nay-sayers think, because they’ve done the legwork.

7. Give Selflessly

This one may come as a surprise, but truly elite achievers are actually pretty selfless people. They leave “greedy” and “selfish” for the bottom feeders. The elite give their time and knowledge generously because it’s the right thing to do…and because it demonstrates integrity, sincerity, and credibility. Winners give.

8. Develop Ego Strength
The elite don’t second guess their decisions. When they have a good plan, they do their research so they can have full confidence in going after their goals full-tilt. They ignore the less evolved who tell them that they can’t do it. Elite achievers ignore negative people and remain confident in their plan.

9. Form A Brain Trust With Other Elite Achievers

Elite achievers know that regardless of how smart and hard-working they are, they can’t possibly catch every little detail. This is why they seek the company of other achievers. They regularly consult their brain trust, ask for their input, and take their advice. They find people whose opinions they can trust and stay in contact regularly to hash through their successes, failures, and obstacles.

10. Keep Going Until You Get There.
The average person throws in the towel when they run into obstacles – and that’s a shame. Elite achievers know that obstacles just indicate a closer proximity to success. If they fail, elite achievers just tweak their plan and go after their goal again and again until they reach it. There is only one direction: Forward.
Spend some time with this list. I’ll bet you can identify one or more areas that might be slowing you down and affecting your productivity. Begin replacing some of those bad, time-wasting habits with their more productive counterparts and start becoming an elite achiever.

Gary Korisko (@RebootAuthentic) writes about business strategy, market creation, and integrity selling on his blog Reboot Authentic. His eBook, How To Alienate All The Right People, is a real-world guide to breaking away from the herd and doing something special.

Want To Be Taken Seriously? Become a Better Writer

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by Dave Keepen

The number of poorly written emails, resumes and blog posts I come across each month is both staggering and saddening. Grammar is off. There are tons of misspellings. Language is much wordier or more complex than necessary. Some things I read literally make no sense at all to me.

Writing is a lost art, and many professionals don’t realize how essential a job skill it is. Even if you’re not a writer by trade, every time you click “Publish” on a blog, “Post” on a LinkedIn update, or “Send” on an email, you are putting your writing out into the world.

Your writing is a reflection of your thinking. Clear, succinct, convincing writing will differentiate you as a great thinker and a valuable asset to your team.

If you want to be thought of as a smart thinker, you must become a better writer. If you want to be taken seriously by your manager, colleagues, potential employers, clients and prospects, you must become a better writer.

It’s not just you who must become a better writer- it’s all of us. I’ll be the first to admit, I too have had to learn to become a better writer. So here are five ways that I’ve become a better writer over the last several years:

1) Practice, practice, practice. The old joke comes to mind: A tourist in New York asked a woman on the street, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” and she replied, “Practice, practice, practice.” The truth is, the best way to get better at anything is to do it repeatedly. Write a personal blog or begin that novel you’ve always wanted to write. Offer to write some content for your company’s marketing team. Write a short, interesting LinkedIn update each day. The more you write, the better you’ll become at writing. That’s why I write here on LinkedIn every Monday and Thursday, no matter what.

2) Say it out loud. I read all of my articles and books out loud before I publish them, and many of my emails out loud as well. It’s great to hear my writing the way others will “hear” it as they read. Especially since tone in emails is difficult to convey, it’s valuable to say what you’re writing aloud, and then consider a quick edit, before you put it out there.

3) Make it more concise. Less is often more, so during my editing process, I’ll often ask, “How can I say the same thing in fewer words?” People don’t have time to read a long email, or memo, or article, so out of respect for your intended audience, practice making your writing short and sweet. I’d even argue that tweeting has helped me a lot with this, as it obviously limits you to 140 characters. If you’re not on Twitter yet, this is another reason to get tweeting.

4) Work on your headlines. A mentor once told me that 50% of your writing is the headline. So, spend equal time and energy working on your headline as you do the piece itself. Whether it’s the headline of a blog post or an inter-office memo, or a subject line for an email to a sales prospect, your headlines will either grab your reader’s attention, and get them interested in what you have to say, or not. Lists and questions work very well as headlines and subject lines. Practice them.

5) Read. Besides practicing writing, the number one way to improve your writing skills is to read great work. I read at least one book per month, at least 20 articles per week, and countless tweets, Facebook posts and emails per day. I know we all have limited time, but truly the best way to become a better writer is to become a better reader.

These are my methods for becoming a better writer. Now, I’d love to hear from you! Do you agree or disagree with me that all business professionals can work to become better writers? How important is good writing to you? And how have you become a better writer over your career? Let me know in the comments below!

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130221123241-15077789-want-to-be-taken-seriously-become-a-better-writer?_mSplash=1

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Dave Kerpen loves writing. You can read more of his writing here on LinkedIn by clicking on the link above. Check out his bestselling books, Likeable Business and Likeable Social Media, or read more on his personal blog and Likeable blog.

The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day

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by Glenn Llopis

Leadership is learned behavior that becomes unconscious and automatic over time. For example, leaders can make several important decisions about an issue in the time it takes others to understand the question. Many people wonder how leaders know how to make the best decisions, often under immense pressure. The process of making these decisions comes from an accumulation of experiences and encounters with a multitude of difference circumstances, personality types and unforeseen failures. More so, the decision making process is an acute understanding of being familiar with the cause and effect of behavioral and circumstantial patterns; knowing the intelligence and interconnection points of the variables involved in these patterns allows a leader to confidently make decisions and project the probability of their desired outcomes. The most successful leaders are instinctual decision makers. Having done it so many times throughout their careers, they become immune to the pressure associated with decision making and extremely intuitive about the process of making the most strategic and best decisions. This is why most senior executives will tell you they depend strongly upon their “gut-feel” when making difficult decisions at a moment’s notice.

Beyond decision making, successful leadership across all areas becomes learned and instinctual over a period of time. Successful leaders have learned the mastery of anticipating business patterns, finding opportunities in pressure situations, serving the people they lead and overcoming hardships. No wonder the best CEOs are paid so much money. In 2011, salaries for the 200 top-paid CEOs rose 5 percent to a median $14.5 million per year, according to a study by compensation-data company Equilar for The New York Times.

If you are looking to advance your career into a leadership capacity and / or already assume leadership responsibilities – here are 15 things you must do automatically, every day, to be a successful leader in the workplace:

1. Make Others Feel Safe to Speak-Up

Many times leaders intimidate their colleagues with their title and power when they walk into a room. Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions. They are experts at making others feel safe to speak-up and confidently share their perspectives and points of view. They use their executive presence to create an approachable environment.

2. Make Decisions

Successful leaders are expert decision makers. They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves. They focus on “making things happen” at all times – decision making activities that sustain progress. Successful leaders have mastered the art of politicking and thus don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum. They know how to make 30 decisions in 30 minutes.

3. Communicate Expectations

Successful leaders are great communicators, and this is especially true when it comes to “performance expectations.” In doing so, they remind their colleagues of the organization’s core values and mission statement – ensuring that their vision is properly translated and actionable objectives are properly executed.

I had a boss that managed the team by reminding us of the expectations that she had of the group. She made it easy for the team to stay focused and on track. The protocol she implemented – by clearly communicating expectations – increased performance and helped to identify those on the team that could not keep up with the standards she expected from us.

4. Challenge People to Think

The most successful leaders understand their colleagues’ mindsets, capabilities and areas for improvement. They use this knowledge/insight to challenge their teams to think and stretch them to reach for more. These types of leaders excel in keeping their people on their toes, never allowing them to get comfortable and enabling them with the tools to grow.

If you are not thinking, you’re not learning new things. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing – and over time becoming irrelevant in your work.

5. Be Accountable to Others

Successful leaders allow their colleagues to manage them. This doesn’t mean they are allowing others to control them – but rather becoming accountable to assure they are being proactive to their colleagues needs.

Beyond just mentoring and sponsoring selected employees, being accountable to others is a sign that your leader is focused more on your success than just their own.

6. Lead by Example

Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one. Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.

7. Measure & Reward Performance

Great leaders always have a strong “pulse” on business performance and those people who are the performance champions. Not only do they review the numbers and measure performance ROI, they are active in acknowledging hard work and efforts (no matter the result). Successful leaders never take consistent performers for granted and are mindful of rewarding them.

Read the rest here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/02/18/the-most-successful-leaders-do-15-things-automatically-every-day/

Vision

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“A vision should make the people around you question your sanity. It should make your heart race and your palms sweat. It should seem well-nigh impossible. If your organization’s goal can be achieved with relative ease, if it can be achieved without risk, without courage, without persistence, then what does the organization need you for? Why would your organization need a leader?

The purpose of leadership is to organize and motivate people to do the impossible and the unthinkable.”

Excerpt From: Pat Williams & Jim Denney. “Leadership Excellence.” Barbour Publishing, Inc., 2012. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/leadership-excellence/id496635841?mt=11