I hope you're having a great week – getting lots of work done towards accomplishing your goals and making your big dreams come true!
Me, it's been a weird day (as I write this). I woke to find one of my best friends from high school featured (positively) in a Washington Post article...
I then spent half the day trying to restart my wireless home network which, somehow, got completely kerfluffled after a strong storm knocked out the power to my house last night.
After a few hours of fussing and feuding with router settings, modem settings, and a handful of other obscure settings,I still couldn't get the stinkin' thing to work.
"If only I was more clever," I thought.
And then I realized that that was exactly what I didn't need to be.
I've found the more I try to be "clever" in situations -- the more I try to be smarter or wittier or design a better widget, doodad, or snurkitz -- the more often I end up doing nothing but wasting time while I flounder, flop, and flail my way to failure.
When I stop "being clever" and turn my focus to small, simple, sensible steps that I can easily evaluate for impact and effect, the more progress I make.
Instead of trying to be clever, I decided to approach it as if I wasn't clever (it was a stretch, but I managed...).
And you know what?
I had the problem fixed in 15 minutes.
So, my motto now is, "Screw clever – just do the work."
Back when I was in the U.S. Air Force, working as a tech school instructor, I used to tell my students that, if they weren't happy, to borrow some from a friend.
Well, it turns out that my instruction was only half-joking... only I didn't know it at the time.
Just last week British researchers (the same researchers who discovered that smoking and obesity spread in networks) discovered that happiness also spreads in networks.
That is: happiness is contagious.
If someone you know is happy, the chances of you being happy are increased by 15%!
As if that wasn't enough, it also appears that this happiness effect works for up to three degrees of separation, meaning: if a friend of a friend is happy you can still be "infected" (or perhaps, inspired) by their good mood!
Better still: unhappiness, which also spreads through our social networks, does so only half as effectively. An unhappy friend increases your chances of catching the blues by only 7%.
So what does all this mean?
Well, first and foremost: our social networks are important. The more friends we have who are healthy and happy, the better chance there is that we will be healthy and happy.
Second, learning ways to be happy isn't just something we do for ourselves, we do it for everyone in our social network.
Third, when we're not feeling happy, looking to our friends who are happy can help lift our spirits and change our moods. Indeed, various studies have shown that happiness can reduce mortality, reduce pain, and improve cardiac function -- it's not simply a state of mind.
So surround yourself with happy people if you want to be happy... and BE happy if you want those around you to be happy.
If everybody does that, then sooner or later, the whole world will be a much happier, healthier place to be!
One of my good friends, Tom Dooley, shared this fun story with the Washington Post some time ago, and agreed to let me share it with you.
In addition to spreading a little happiness, it's a great example for appreciating the little things in life (like dessert) and how life lessons can be found anywhere, including your local cafe.
"We had just completed a filling meal when the waitress asked if we wanted dessert. Before we could answer, she volunteered that a week before a customer had decided to skip dessert, then left the restaurant and was killed by a passing car, never to have dessert again...
"How can I influence people in management to get the support I need my career goals?”
This is easy.
Well, it’s easy to write – putting it into practice can take a bit of time/effort on your part, but this idea works quite well, I’ve found.
In a nutshell, my suggestion is this:
Remember the bottom line -- always!
Keep in mind that – despite whatever anybody may say otherwise – your company is in the business of making money.
And that is what management is concerned with.
To get managers above you to support your plans and your goals, you want to show them how doing so will help the company make more money.
Don’t just tell your boss, “I want to be a manager some day” – show your boss the value you could bring to the company in that position….
That means keeping track of everything you do for the company, how it affects the bottom line, and coming up with new ideas for growing the business, cutting expenses, and improving the bottom line: profits.
Of course, if you have a specific idea for improving your company, don’t hesitate to take it to your boss, but do have all your ducks in a row:
Have the idea worked out completely, from start to finish: what your idea is, why you're proposing it, what it costs, what it saves (or produces), the plan for implementing it, and obstacles/objections that may need to be overcome along the way…
And then you have to be willing to do the whole thing yourself OR be willing to give it up completely to somebody else to do, if you’re not the best person for the task.
Most of all, you really, truly, deep-down, have to believe 110% in the idea.
You have to be the champion of it and keep pushing it -- even if the initial reaction to it is not so good.
(Another approach is to take your ideas not directly to your boss, but to somebody else in the company who the boss's trust. Get feedback from that person, see how they would present it, ask if they would be willing to help you sell this idea.)
The more you appear to be looking (sincerely) after the interests of your company (as opposed to merely pursuing your own interests), the more likely you are to be heard.
In particular, I think FREE PRIZE INSIDE and PURPLE COW would be most applicable to your specific question, but they all are really powerful books on creating and implementing ideas and change in businesses and markets.
So, focus on the bottom line and soon you'll be moving up!
Nearly one hundred years ago (December 7, 1914), Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 28 men aboard the ship Endurance entered the pack ice off the continent of Antarctica.
To be the first party to trek across the continent on foot. It was a goal they would never achieve.
Nearly a century later, the tale of Endurance remains one of the most fascinating examples of human triumph in the face of adversity.
The Endurance sailed uneventfully for just over a month. On January 18, 1915, the ship became trapped in the crushing ice of the Antarctic ice pack. Despite the efforts of the crew, Endurance would remain lodged in the ice for the next nine months.
The thick ice of the Antarctic pack pressed constantly, threatening to crush Endurance to splinters. Ultimately, the threat forced the crew to abandon ship in October 1915. From that point on the crew would live on the ice.
One month later, the ship sank, stranding the crew -- with minimal stores and three short-boats -- on the drifting pack ice. The men survived for the next six months by killing seals, penguins, and ultimately their own sled-dogs for food.
In April 1916, an island was seen on the distant horizon. It was their only hope.
The ice floe broke just enough, allowing them to put to sea in some of the roughest waters on Earth. Seven days later they landed on the uninhabited -- and inhospitable -- Elephant Island. Far from regular shipping lanes, Shackleton knew the chances of a rescue from their location were nonexistent.
They might be on land, but they were far from safe, farther from home.
On April 24th, Shackleton again put to sea, this time with a crew of five, headed for the populated island of South Georgia -- 800 miles away.
Navigating by sextant, fighting through storming high seas of freezing water, Shackleton and his small crew reached South Georgia Island in 17 days! The weather (and their own condition) forced them, however, to land on the uninhabited side of the island. Shackleton and two other men had to trek on foot across the island. In 36 hours they traversed 22 miles across the glacier-clad, thousand-feet high mountains to reach the whaling port of Stromness on May 20, 1916.
His attempts to rescue his crewmen left behind on Elephant Island would not be successful until August 30, 1916, a full 22 months after they'd initially set out. Remarkably, all 28 men survived the ordeal.
The next time you face an obstacle that seems impossible to overcome remember the story of Endurance... and press on.
Success is gained not by taking the easiest path (or even the one you planned on taking); it is achieved by taking consistent and persistent action until your goals have been achieved.
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