How to Get More Time for What Really Matters

time-tracking-software

Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, yet some seem to get more done in the same time. How? The place to start is to figure out how you currently spend your time.

Maybe “spend” isn’t the right way to describe what you do with all your time. There are actually three things we can do with time at any moment. We can spend it, waste it, or invest it.

Are you investing most of your time? Are you using it wisely for what you want to become and do? Let’s find out.

Here’s how: Keep a log of how you spend your time for one full week.

Greg, you’re killing me! We’re talking about how little time we have and you want me to spend some of it logging how I spend what little time I have?

Yes! Trust me a little. You will be shocked at what you are spending something more valuable than money on.

Write down how you spend every minute of the day — everything. Sleeping, getting ready for work, commute time, work time, (what you’re doing during work time), lunch, dinner, family time, television, email, web surfing, social media, golf, workouts, going out with friends, church, phone calls, texting, etc. I know it can be tiresome to do this, but we’re only doing it for one week to see where your time goes.

Time sucks:

  • TV – Americans watch an average of four hours of TV a day. Don’t channel surf. Plan the few shows you actually want to watch. Or, just don’t watch it at all.
  • Internet – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. How many funny cat videos do you need to watch? Do you really need to see what your “friend” had for lunch? Schedule your Internet time and set a timer when you log on.
  • Email – Everything doesn’t have to be responded to the second you receive it. This can distract you from your important focus and turn your day into a series of reactions. Make a decision how many times a day you’re going to check email and stick to it. I only check emails twice a day. Here’s what I have in the signature of my email: In order to be as efficient and effective as possible, I only check my email before 9:30am and after 4pm. If there is an emergency this policy doesn’t take care of, you may call me.
  • Texting – This can be a great communication tool, or it can be abused. I know some people who literally spend three to four hours a day texting. Is that the best use of their time?

You might be surprised what your time sucks are. Use your time log and see where you can trim them back to give yourself more time.

Action steps:

1) Plan your time. There’s nothing wrong with chilling out. But, when you need to unwind, actively choose the best way for you to do that. Don’t default into channel surfing or playing on the computer because it’s the easiest thing to do. Choose the TV shows you really want to watch, and then turn it off. Choose the websites you truly enjoy reading, and then go do something else. Live purposefully.

2) Stay focused. When you’re working on something, work on that and only that. Turn off all potential distractions. Work for 50 minutes at a time on that one thing without interruption. Take a five-minute break and jump back in.

Question for comments: What did you find were your biggest time sucks? What techniques do you have to get the most out of the time you have?

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

It’s Easier to Create Raving Fans if You’re Doing Business on Purpose

cow-billborads

The leaders I talk with, from all types of organizations, comment on the problems they have with employee engagement. The latest research I’ve seen shows as many as 60% of employees are disengaged or actually hate their jobs.

That’s. Not. Good.

That leads to high employee and customer turnover, lower productivity, lower quality of work and creativity, higher error rates, and more sick days taken. And the most important driver of employee and customer engagement is the desire for “purpose,” the “why” of what you do.

No matter what business you’re in, it’s easier (and more fun) to become world class at it, and give incredible service, if you’re doing business on purpose.

If you, your team members, and customers all believe in and rally around the same purpose, you’ve got a great start.

Everything you do should line up with your purpose. If it doesn’t why are you doing it?

When you have a strong purpose in your business, you don’t get lost, you don’t drift. If you don’t have a strong purpose, it’s easy to get sidetracked for things that sound like good ideas – or just for some quick money. Stay true to your purpose and it will serve you well.

Chick-fil-A has a strong purpose: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.” The company strives to align everything it does with that purpose:

  • It’s always been closed on Sundays so all of its employees could spend time with their families and go to church, or have a day of rest. It gives up a lot of money every Sunday be being closed, but it stays true to its purpose.
  • It’s why they do so much volunteering.
  • It’s why they give free sandwiches to first responders in times of crisis.
  • It’s why they created the Winshape foundation to strengthen families and bring people closer to God and each other.

When you mean it, your company purpose will help you hire and keep the best people. Share it with the people you are interviewing. Most millenials say they don’t want to work anywhere without a purpose they believe in. And older generations might not say so, but everyone wants to be part of something with a great purpose that makes a difference.

“People want to work with a person, not for a company. Most (Operators) feel that this is more than just a job. They feel either a divine call or the satisfaction of a desire to make a difference in the world.”
S. Truett Cathy
Founder of Chick-fil-A

I just started reading, It’s My Pleasure, by Dee Ann Turner. She worked for Chick-fil-A corporate for 30 years. When she applied there, the interview process was four months long. That’s a testament to how much Chick-fil-A believes that the business is all about the people. They look for great character and people who believe in their purpose.

My 17-year-old daughter, Faith, noticed this at one of our visits to the restaurant. She happened to walk buy a manager interviewing a young teen for an entry level job. When Faith returned to our table she said, “Dad, guess what I heard the manager ask that young man…’Who are your heroes?'”

Do you think they’re asking that question during the interviews at McDonald’s? Right.

I also love the focus Chick-fil-A puts on super serving the customers. Every time I go into the restaurant I find happy employees who seem to really want to serve me. They do everything they can to help me and always say, “it’s my pleasure.”

It’s part of how they create raving fans and evangelical customers. Hey, it led me to blog about it, didn’t it?

“If we get better, our customers will demand we get bigger.”
–S. Truett Cathy

Does your business have a purpose everyone can rally around? If not, can you create one? If not, do you need to find a company in whose purpose you share?

Can you use that purpose to help drive your success?

What ways can you come up with to super serve your clients beyond their expectations so they just have to tell everyone they know about you?

Let’s GO!

I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.

6 Steps to the Perfect, Productive Day – Everyday

 

ducks1

 

 

Do you feel overwhelmed with too much to do in your day? Do you have such a long list there is no way it’s all getting done? No matter how much you accomplish, do you feel a little bit like a failure because there’s still so much you didn’t do?

Do you just feel like you don’t have all your ducks in a row?

I know I feel like this sometimes. It’s been getting me down.

I’m putting everything I have into my business and I’ve been going a little crazy. I want to create more content for helping people and organizations pursue their Passionate Purpose. Here are some of the ideas I’m working on:

  • Create a 40 day email course – 40 Days to Finding and Pursuing Your Passionate Purpose – in written, audio, and video form
  • Film an online video course for individuals and businesses
  • Book more speaking engagements at seminars, conventions, colleges, and churches
  • Expand my personal coaching
  • Create a 365 day email encouragement program
  • Write an eBook of my most uplifting quotes
  • Write another book with new ideas, stories, and humor to help people take the next step in their journey
  • Develop an Internet marketing plan to promote my products
  • Increase my audience and email list subscribers
  • Do the research to make all of these things happen

Just writing all that down got me feeling overwhelmed again. The good news is it also got me super excited again. I love the idea that all my products will help people.

I’ve tried a lot of productivity systems. Some of them were so complicated and so much work that they just didn’t do it for me. I’ve devised a very simple, easy to implement system, that has led me to producing more meaningful work than at any other time in my life.

If you give these steps a try for a week, I bet you never go back to the old way. (Actually, even when you see how well it works for you, there will probably be times you backslide. It happens to all of us. Don’t give up. Give yourself some grace, and get back to doing what you know works for you.)

First, we need to challenge the idea that to be productive means doing everything as fast as possible and being accessible to everyone who needs us.

Ask yourself, are you trying to take on everything to please everyone and not doing your best work, or are you choosing the essential projects where your best effort makes a difference? Which would you rather do?

Step 1) Write it all down the night before. (I know you’ve heard this before, but stick with me.The way we’re going to do it, this will have you starting your days focused and excited.)

Pick a time every evening where you will spend 10-15 minutes planning the next day.  Make a list of everything you want to do tomorrow.

Step 2) Focus on what’s vital and acknowledge there will be tradeoffs.

Prioritize the tasks you want to do tomorrow. Look at your list and ask, what is the most important thing to do today that is in line with your Passionate Purpose? That will be task #1. Ask that question again to find task #2, and so on until you’ve completed the list.

“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
–Gary Keller from The ONE Thing

Focusing on your most important thing is the key to a productive, rewarding day.

If you start to feel overwhelmed at anytime during the day, go back to your list and stay true. Or ask yourself anew, what’s the most important thing for me to do right now?

Step 3) Estimate how long each task will take. (This is what will keep you from setting yourself up for failure and over scheduling your day.)

Start with your most important task and estimate how long you think it will take to complete. Write that down next to the task. Do that for every task you listed. Add in 5-10 minute breaks every hour to refresh your mind and body. Schedule in two 30 minute blocks for something I’ll explain later.

When your time estimates equal an entire working day, you’re done. If you still have more things on your list, but no time left to do them, they must be put on the next day’s list. You must get clear on the fact that tradeoffs are necessary. That’s why we prioritized everything, remember? Don’t over schedule.

Step 4) Start your day in Concentrated Focus Time doing your most important thing.

Now it’s time to reap the rewards from last night’s planning. Start your day with two hours of Concentrated Focus Time. During this time you will only work on your most important task. You will need to explain this to your coworkers so they can support you in this. When they see how much more you’re getting done, you might even find some of them want to start doing it as well.

Start with 2 hours a day. Over time, you can expand it to 4 hours and then even 6 hours of your day. (Using this method you’ll do more in 6 hours than most people do in 8-1o hours.)

During these 2 hours there are no interruptions.

  • Close your door if you have one.
  • Put a “Deep in Concentrated Focus time” Post-it note up.
  • Close all email programs.
  • Mute all chimes, ringers, and pings.
  • Turn off visual alerts and social media messaging.
  • During your concentrated focus time this is all you do.
  • Nothing else is allowed to take up your focus and time.

Set a timer for one hour. Do nothing else except your most important thing. Then take a break to stretch, walk around the building or up and down the stairs, just clear your mind and think for 5-10 minutes. Then repeat the process. Do it for at least 2 hours of each morning.

As you complete your most important thing, move on to what next becomes your most important thing.

Step 5) Cluster your less important things, that still need to be done, to two times a day.

It would be great if you could just focus on your most important thing all day long. The reality is that we do have some other things we need to do each day as well. Remember how I had you schedule in two 30 minute blocks of time into your day? We are going to use those blocks to cluster some daily tasks.

Take your simple tasks and do them all at the same time instead of allowing them to constantly interrupt your day. I do this with email, snail mail, voice mail, and more.

What can you cluster during your day to prevent constant interruptions to your flow?

Schedule two times a day to handle these and don’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time doing these.

Step 6) Do NOT start your day with email. (This is really part of step 5, but it’s so important I made it another step.)

You spent last night getting ready for today. You are ready to hit the ground running, working on your most important thing. You fire up the laptop, open your email program and…two hours later you still haven’t started on your most important thing. You just gave every one else the power to run your day and distract you from your most important thing. Why?

Instead, let everyone in your company know you are changing the way you handle your email. Set up an auto response, and the signature of your email, to say something like this:

In order to be as effective and efficient as possible, I only answer my email twice a day – after 10:30am and 4:45pm. If there is an emergency, you may call me.

In very special circumstances, you may need to check your email 3 times a day. But if you’re telling me there is no way this will work for you, I have a question:

If you check your email three times a day, are you really telling me your customers and coworkers must have you returning emails more often than every three hours?

If that’s true, what can you do to change that? What training can you do for your co-workers? How can you delegate more and allow your coworkers to work more independently so they can get more done? What expectations can you set up with your customers so they understand what better quality – and quantity – of work for them you can get done when you focus instead of being tied to your email?

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

Nice Guys Finish…1st?

white hat

Nice guys finish last, right? It’s what we see in the movies and what society tells us. You have to be ruthless and selfish to get what you want in this world.

That can be true in the short term.

You can push in line to be first. You can sell something to someone they don’t really need to get your commission. You can lie about someone to get that promotion.

It can work…for a while.

But as my dad says, “time wounds all heels.” Mean people don’t finish first most of the time. They end up burning bridges, getting a horrible reputation and living a miserable existence.

Sounds fun, huh?

Being nice wins out in the long run.

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
― 
Mark Twain

Who would you rather do business with, hire, work with, or sell to? Someone you like or someone you dislike?

Wait a second, Greg, is this a trick question?

If we want to do business with, and be around, nice people, doesn’t it make sense for us to be as nice as possible in everything we do?

Nice guys finish first!

My last vacation was to NYC – the land of rude people. (Or so I’d been told.) Guess what my family found? Nice people.

Perhaps it was because we sent out kindness that we received kindness in return. I think it also had to do with the fact that we were looking for nice people.

We had nice people coming up to us explaining how to use the subway, helping us with directions and telling us about the best discounts.

We did meet a few rude employees at some of the businesses we went to and a few disgruntled people on the street, but we simply moved on until we found the next nice one. (Notice how the rude people lost our business and the nice people got it.)

And things just kept working out for us during the entire trip. My favorite was when we got the cheapest tickets available to a Broadway show simply because we were kind to the ticket agent at the box office. (I know it was a great price because of all the research we had done on it.)

Being nice “just because” will make you stand out with everyone you come in contact with. It will make people rave about you to their friends. It will get you more – and better – business. It will make you feel great. It will come back to you ten fold.

It’s the right thing to do.

And it doesn’t cost you a penny to do it.

Nice guys finish first.

Who can you be nice to today?

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

How Trying to Show How Smart I (think) I Am Hurt Me

20150217173059-einstein

We all want to connect with people, right? We want to form good relationships in and out of the workplace. We want to be respected. We want people to know how smart and great we are!

Okay, Greg, you lost me on that last one.

Did I? Maybe it’s just me. Sometimes I notice that I have an unhealthy desire to make sure the people I’m dealing with know I’m smart, accomplished, successful…(Geez, just writing this out makes me feel like a jerk.) What adds insult to injury is that when I do this, it doesn’t help me it hurts me. It also hurts the person I’m trying to show up. So, why do I do it?

I rationalize that I mainly fall into this trap when the person I’m dealing with is putting out signals that he thinks he’s better than me. To which I brilliantly respond by thinking, “He thinks he’s better than me? Who does he think he is? I’ll show him!”

Yes, brilliant. That will get him to like me/buy from me/want to do business with me.

Wrong.

This kind of thing just happened the other day. I told myself a story that the guy I was talking with was acting like he was way better than me. So, I started talking, and talking, and talking to prove how much I knew, how smart I was, why he should listen to me, blah, blah, blah.

Then I realized what I was doing. I physically felt ill at my actions. So, I stopped. I apologized for dominating the conversation and started asking him questions. I learned a lot and actually started a friendship.

How many times do we tear down the relationships and influence we are trying to build with the need to make sure the other guy knows we’re pretty cool stuff?

We can fall into this trap with our bosses, the people we manage, our children, our spouses, our preachers…

What helps me with this is being secure in who I am, yet working at remaining humble. I remember that we are all equal in God’s eyes, that everyone knows something I don’t know, and that I will learn more and make more friends by asking questions and listening than by trying to show off.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
-C. S. Lewis

I also remember what my dad used to tell me, “Some people are thought to be fools. Others open their mouths and prove it.”

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

No More Business as Usual

5_UnderNewManagement

How would you like to work for a company that lets you take as much vacation as you want, bans internal email, does away with the annual performance review, and truly puts the employees welfare first?

Those are some of the idea’s in Under New Management, by David Burkus.

I had a chance to interview David about these ideas. He said many of our long standing business practices are counterproductive, wrong and misguided. It’s time to change the way we do things.

Click below to here the interview.

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

7 Steps to Having More Time (Part 2, with link to Part 1)

squeeze-more-time

Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, yet some seem to get more done in the same time. How? My last post was part 1 of 7 Steps to Having More Time. It covered the first 4 steps. Don’t miss them. Today we’ll cover steps 5-8 (But you said there were only 7 steps. Bonus step!)

“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”-Thoreau

Step 5) Delegate:

Check your list of how you are currently spending your time again and look for the tasks that need to get done that you either don’t like to do, you aren’t good at doing, or just aren’t the best use of your time. How many of these tasks could you delegate to someone else?

Almost all of us could delegate more. Why don’t we? Is it because we think no one can do it as well as we can? Sometimes, that’s true. But, often that’s because we don’t invest the time to train someone to do it the way we want it done.

Have you ever tried to delegate something, spent a couple of minutes explaining what you want and then gotten upset when the results weren’t what you were hoping for? Well, you need to take responsibility for that. If you spend the time necessary to explain and train them so they are able to do the task better than you can (yes, I said better than you can – it’s possible) you will save so much more time from that point on. It’s an investment and it’s worth it.

You also have to let go of the idea that the way you do it is the only “right” way to do it. As long as the job gets done well, who cares if a different way was used to get there?

Another reason we don’t delegate as much as we should is we don’t have the staff to handle it.

Here are a couple options: If you work for someone else, go to your boss and explain how much more productive and profitable you can be for the company if she could help you delegate these tasks to someone better fitted for them. Offer to do this on a trial basis so she can see how much more productive you will be on the things that matter most. Once you prove yourself, she will have no problem letting you delegate more.

If you’re self-employed, why not outsource like the big boys do? There are a ton of outsourcing companies in and out of the United States that can do virtually anything you need done. I listed several of these in a previous post. I’ve used outsourcing for many different tasks and have been very pleased with the cost, quality, and speed of the work. I recommend using a company with many employees rather than one person. That way, if one person quits, gets fired, is on vacation, etc. your work still gets done.

Step 6) Negotiate:

If an offer, opportunity or request comes your way that doesn’t fit your strengths or the best use of your time, don’t immediately say yes to it. Take a little time and figure out the best way to handle it.

Could you simply say no?

Could you explain what part you could do really well and why you think Susan or Bob would be perfect to handle the other part of it?

Could you take on a different project in exchange for the one that doesn’t fit you?

When you explain how this negotiation will help everyone, you will be surprised how often your counteroffer is accepted.

[Tweet “You have all the time you need to do what you were born to do. Don’t waste it.” ]

Step 7) Spend 80% of your time doing what you do best and what you love to do.

Congratulations. You have cleared away so much from your life that you don’t really need to do. You still have the same 24 hours in every day, but now you have much more control over how you will use them. You can focus on what you do and like best.

Here’s a great way to plan out each workday:

In the evening prepare for your next day. Ask yourself: What is the most important thing that if you got it done tomorrow would make the biggest difference to your business? Decide on it.

Getting this one thing done would make your day a success. That’s what we’re looking for here. IF you finish that, what is the next most important thing you will get done? IF you finish that, what is the next most important thing you will get done?

The next day:

  • Do your most important thing until it’s done. I know sometimes “things come up.” But you need to schedule time for your most important activities or something will always “come up.” At the minimum, work on this task for one hour. Then take a break for anything that requires your attention. Then repeat the process.
  • If time remains, do the next thing on your list.

Step 8) Celebrate a great day!

Go for a walk with your spouse. Read a book to your kids. Go out for dinner. Eat some boiled peanuts and watch a martial arts movie. (Wait, that’s just what I like to do. Sorry.)

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

Outcome or Purpose?

farmer

Do you know what the purpose of the business you own or work for is?

Well, of course, Greg, the purpose is to make a profit. If we don’t, we go out of business.

I get that. Profits are great. But I call that the outcome of the business. Every business wants the outcome to be profit. But, there are a million ways to make a profit. What is the purpose you are fulfilling in order to get the outcome of a profit?

This isn’t just a pointless word game. Deloitte has been studying this and I have some of the data on how important it is for your employees, customers and bottom line for you later in this post.

But what made me write about this today is a story a friend told me. He said the purpose of what he used to do was to keep people healthy and free of deadly diseases.

My friend isn’t a doctor. He’s a retired engineer. He designed wastewater management systems. Look at the purpose he saw in his work. Do you think that made him a more engaged, enthusiastic, and joyful employee and person? You bet!

The purpose of your business, career, or job should be the difference you are making in the world. That’s important, engaging stuff – and every job can make a difference.

A school bus driver can see her purpose as driving a bus, or she could see it as helping the future of America get safely to and from school prepared to learn amazing things.

Most companies haven’t figured out how to be purpose driven organizations. Here are a few mission statements I found from fortune 500 companies:

  • Profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality and commitment.
  • Guided by relentless focus on our five imperatives, we will constantly strive to implement the critical initiatives required to achieve our vision. In doing this, we will deliver operational excellence in every corner of the Company and meet or exceed our commitments to the many constituencies we serve. All of our long-term strategies and short-term actions will be molded by a set of core values that are shared by each and every associate.
  • To grow profitably in the world’s vehicular markets and provide industry leading shareholder value

Do those mission statements resonate with you? Do you know what the purpose of those companies is? Are you overcome with a desire to join their team and help them with their mission?

Me neither.

The first mission statement is from an agricultural equipment company. Maybe the purpose could be: “To help American farmers feed the world.”

Companies could learn a lot by looking at Steve Jobs’ mission statement for Apple in 1980: “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”

That sounds like something I could get excited about. How about you?

The bottom line is that having a purpose for your business that resonates with your customers, employees, and investors helps get the outcomes you want – including increased profit.

Here is the data I promised you. Deloitte found that at organizations with a strong sense of purpose compared to those without a strong sense of purpose:

  • 73% of employees were engaged compared to 23%
  • 80% of employees said they were encouraged to innovate compared to 35%
  • 92% of employees had long lasting relationships with their customers compared to 69%.

If you’re not sure what your organization’s purpose is, its time to find it.

It’s not what you do. It’s why and how you do it.

It’s not your title. It’s your values.

It’s not what you think other people want it to be. It’s what connects with you at your core.

Take some time to think about it. Take out a piece of paper and write:

The purpose of my company is ____________________.

Or,

The purpose of my role in ________ is ________________.

How does that call you to action?

How can you start doing it in your life today?

It can be a baby step, don’t try to do it all at once. But, what can you do today to take action on your purpose?

Who Wants to Work for Fear and Money?

horrible-bosses-jason-bateman-kevin-spacey-300x199

Have I got a job for you! You will do what the boss tells you to, check with her before you do something on your own, and meet the numbers she tells you to meet or your fired. If you do all that, you will get to keep your job and get paid every two weeks.

Are you in?

Using the fear of losing your job and the reward of getting paid is how most businesses have been managing (controlling?) their employees for the last hundred years or so.

It works…kinda.

Depending on how badly you need the job, you put up with it. But for how long?

And what kind of work and life does that lead to?

A friend of mine had a “great” job at a big company. He was a team leader. He was earning good money. Even in this still struggling economy his job was “safe.”

And he couldn’t wait to leave.

The culture he was working in was destroying him. He felt like the company didn’t really care about him, his coworkers, his family, or even the idea of a life outside the office. It’s hard to put in your best effort for a company like that.

He was offered a job with the type of culture he was looking for and he took it. When he put in his two-week notice the company was upset. They didn’t want to lose him. They offered him a promotion and more money. They thought the old model of motivation still worked, they just had to push harder.

Wrong.

My friend took the other job. He’s super excited about the culture and is already happier, more engaged with his company, and ready to do his best work.

Gallup has done a lot of research on “employee engagement.” An engaged employee is someone who is emotionally and enthusiastically involved in the purpose of the company. He enjoys his work and looks for ways to create, innovate, and do more than is asked of him. It’s the kind of employee every business wants.

Bad news. Gallup’s numbers from 2015 show that only 35% of managers are engaged and only 30% of all employees are.

This old method of motivating employees leads to a bunch of disengaged, unhappy, ready to jump ship at a moments notice people.

Who wants to work in that type of environment? Nobody. It’s one of the reasons there is so much turnover in the workplace.

It also costs a company’s bottom line. Gallup estimates that employee disengagement costs American companies about $300 billion every year.

Ouch.

There is a better way.

The best organizations engage us by asking us to share in their purpose and share in the pleasure of:

  • Creating individual and team goals
  • Contributing something signifcant
  • Innovating
  • Making a difference
  • Working with people who support and encourage us
  • Working towards and achieving goals
  • Celebrating achievements and being rewarded for them
  • Helping us become an expert at what we do

Add in an understanding that your entire life is not the job and now you’ve got someone working with their heart and soul. Now you’ve got someone who will stick with you.

Questions for comments: How does your company engage its people? How could you improve that?

One Habit That’s Hurting Your Relationships and Career

Most of us focus on what we need to do. That’s good. But, what if some of the things we do are holding us back? Shouldn’t we work on those?

I realized this week how much I avoid people who complain. Then I realized that Icomplain too much. So I started thinking. Am I losing friends and influence every time I complain? How about you? And, what can we do to complain less?

I have a friend who likes to complain to me. I have been an empathetic sounding board. I have tried to help him generate solutions to his problems. I have simply nodded, said mmm a lot, and reflected back to him what he says. I’ve tried it all.

None of it seems to help. It’s the same thing every day. I now find myself looking for ways to avoid him. I think his boss is starting to feel the same way.

Doesn’t he see how this is hurting him? Doesn’t it make him miserable? What could he possibly get out of it that keeps him doing it?

As I was enjoying the view from my high horse it slowly dawned on me that I sometimes do this too. (And I’m a guy who blogs about personal development all the time!)

We all complain at times. It can really hurt our relationships in and out of the workplace. So why do we keep doing it? Complaining does have some positive outcomes.

  • It may make us feel better by “venting”
  • Someone may validate our feelings
  • It occasionally leads to someone else fixing the problem
  • You fit in with the other complainers

But the short and long-term consequences of complaining are way worse.

  • You lose friends and people avoid you
  • It leads to difficulty in your home life
  • You’re passed over for promotions or fired
  • You get fewer clients and sales
  • It contributes to a bad attitude and miserable life

I’m sure you can add to these lists.

Hold on, Greg, sometimes I need to complain. You don’t know what happened to me today!

Hey, I’m not the complaining Nazi. I get it. But how about greatly reducing your complaints and only doing complaining in a way that will help you?

Action Steps:

1) Keep track of every time you complain for one week. You need to know if this is a real problem for you. You might be shocked.

2) Start the day with the right mindset. Focus on all the good in your life. Who loves you? Who do you love? What makes you smile? You can find time to do this right when you wake up or on your commute to work. List what your grateful for. Pray. Before you poopoo this, try it. (I will not be poopooed!)

3) When you are about to complain, stop yourself. Use the A-B-C techniques in Rational Emotive Therapy to make sure you are thinking logically about the problem and responding rationally to it.

4) Turn your complaint into an idea for a solution. What can you do to fix the problem? Are you talking to the right person to fix it? Friends, family and bosses love people who have solutions. You’ll be surprised how often your solution, or something close to it, is implemented. Even if it isn’t, people will see you as a positive, solution oriented person instead of someone who complains all the time.

5) Find a complaint friend if you really have to vent. My wife and I do this for each other. We use each other to vent the big things that really tick us off. That way we don’t complain to everyone else. (Be careful here, we still limit how much we complain to each other or we will drive each other crazy.)

Question: What techniques do you use to minimize complaining?