Life itself is a privilege, but to live life to the fullest – well, that is a choice. ~Andy Andrews – Author
Transformation is going beyond form, it is taking a step into chance. When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and took a chance to transform yourself in some way?
Taking a step outside your comfort zone can conjure a wide variety of emotions; excitement, fear, anxiety, relief, nervousness, and wonderment to name a few.
We all have the capability and capacity to go beyond our form; to leverage the strengths and energy within ourselves. For some, the challenge is identifying where to start. Start with focusing on what you are passionate about, the things that give you energy. Ask yourself what you can do to take your passion and strengths to the next level.
Stepping out of your comfort zone to achieve a transformation can take effort. Have you seen a butterfly work to emerge from its cocoon or a chick struggle to hatch from an egg? They put a lot of focus and effort into their transformation, with spectacular results.
Taking time to create and implement a vision and strategy that focuses on doing what you are passionate about will bring you energy. This energy will translate into self-awareness, agility, and innovation; propelling you into transformation. People will be drawn to your energy, creating an engaging environment that supports bringing out the best in yourself and those you interact with.
Are you exploring life outside your comfort zone? Are you inspiring yourself and others to transform beyond current form? If so, enjoy and savor the journey. If not, take a step, challenge yourself to the next level, your path is in front of you.
If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place. ~Nora Roberts – Author
Do you have Enterprise Contributors at your organization? According to CEB organizational success requires a workforce of Enterprise Contributors – individuals that contribute to their role and to the larger enterprise.
Enterprise Contributors proactively spread ideas, knowledge, experience, and expertise across the organization. They are:
- Connectors – promoting formal and informal collaboration between colleagues.
- Contributors – willingly providing feedback and assistance to others.
- Consumers – actively seeking out ideas and input from others in the organization.
Today, the average employee works with between 10 and 20 people every day on what were formerly known as ‘individual tasks’. Employees need to be able to cooperate and work effectively with peers in order to accomplish tasks. CEB found Enterprise Contributors outperform individually and they enable increased performance in their colleagues. Firms with Enterprise Contributors outperform their peers by 5% and 11% on year-over-year revenue and profit growth, respectively.
Research conducted by CEB revealed 75% of employees report feeling stymied by the current structure and culture of their firms, preventing them from being Enterprise Contributors.
To enable Enterprise Contribution it is vital HR teams look beyond conventional performance management processes which are based on improving individual performance. HR can help their firms reconcile four paradoxes at the heart of performance management:
- Coworkers are asked to help each other, but they also compete for raises and promotions.
- Employees need autonomy, but they also require direction in prioritizing their activities.
- While collaboration tools can improve quality, they can slow execution.
- Employees value contributing, but being rewarded for it actually reduces their motivation.
Building the next generation of employees with enterprise capabilities involves supporting employees to develop skills that allow them to balance individual task and network performance effectively. Leaders navigate, not simplify, role complexities to enable employees to identify opportunities for enterprise contribution that move beyond collaboration. Competencies that distinguish Enterprise Contributors:
- Prioritization: Prioritize contributions for the organization, not just the role.
- Teamwork: Possess knowledge of peers’ work, not just personal characteristics.
- Organizational Awareness: Understand organizational context, not just formal structure.
- Problem-solving: Identify and initiate change, not just positively react to change.
Complex work environments are a reality. Successful organizations equip employees to filter contributions to and from the organization to determine which will have the most impact. Leaders enable and drive accountability for employees to navigate the complexity and perform as Enterprise Contributors.
“Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.” ― Yvonne Woon
When was the last time you stepped back to reflect on your performance? Are you meeting your own expectations? Better yet, are you exceeding the expectations you set for yourself? Reflecting on your performance towards your goals on a regular basis will ensure you stay focused on your path to your defined success.
Reflective practice is a skill that can be developed. Learning to reflect will help you move your goals from theory into behaviors that help your goals become a reality. Reflective practice will also help you increase your self-awareness, a key component of emotional intelligence.
Do you have people you can turn to that will provide you with candid feedback? How you see yourself and how others see you can be different. Create a list of people you can rely on to help you reflect and stay focused on your goals. Offer to do the same for others.
During your reflective practice are you keeping track of your progress through documentation? Capturing your goals and accomplishments in writing provides tangible results you can focus on when you need a boost or want to challenge yourself to go to the next level.
Schedule time to reflect and ask yourself:
- What am I doing well?
- What do I need to do differently?
- What have I been doing and what type of emotions have I been having?
- What prompts them?
- Do I need to make changes?
Personal development is a lifelong process that requires you to be honest with yourself. Taking time to reflect and measure your performance towards your goals provides you opportunities for continuous learning and growth. Taking time to reflect means slowing down enough to stop, enjoy the adventure and figure out what is really important to YOU.
To be successful, the first thing to do is fall in love with your work. – Sister Mary Lauretta
What does ‘meaningful work’ mean to you? According to Malcom Gladwell meaningful work is work that is autonomous. Work that is complex, that occupies your mind. And work where there is a relationship between effort and reward — for everything you put in, you get something out.
When was the last time you reflected on the work you do? Are you focused and mindful with your pursuits? Are you able to answer the following questions?
- Am I being challenged?
- Am I growing and learning new skills?
- Am I respected by my colleagues?
- Do I believe in the mission of the organization I’m working with?
Think long term – Ask yourself what life you want. Think about where you want to be in five, ten, 20 years. Of course, you have to answer more immediate questions about what you want in your current job or your next, but do so only in the context of your longer, larger career goals.
Meaningful work will mean something different for each of us. I encourage you to look beyond the obvious things, like salary, title, or prestige of the company and reflect on the following categories:
This is about the concrete outcomes of your work. What do you want to achieve? Sure, you may spend a lot of your day responding to emails or attending meetings — most jobs entail at least some of that — but what evidence do you want of your work?
These are the strengths that you want to improve. The key is that you are using these strengths in a way that you find rewarding. Being good at something you don’t enjoy doesn’t count; it has to be something you love to do.
This is about the salary, benefits, and flexibility you need to live the life you want. For some people, this may mean a high paycheck that allows you to take exotic vacations. For others, it could be the freedom to work when and where you choose. Here you need to know the lifestyle you want and ask whether your job is helping you fulfill that.
This covers the culture and values of the place you work. This is not the same as mission; it is about whether you feel like you belong. What are the beliefs and priorities of the company and the people you work with? How do people treat each other? Do they collaborate? Have lunch together? It’s important to enjoy spending time with your colleagues and your manager.
The content of these categories will vary for each person. Make a list of all the things you value, and then prioritize them. This list will help guide your decisions and can be used to evaluate specific opportunities like a new assignment in your current role, a job at a different company, or a new career path.
Answers to the above questions are the things that will make the difference between being okay with your work and being truly happy.
The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them. – George Bernard Shaw
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. “ ~Zig Ziglar
For some of us we have three months left to complete our goals. Where are you at with these goals? Are you on target to achieve them? Do you need to make some adjustments? To quote Henry David Thoreau – “It’s not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we busy about?”
Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.
Now is a great time to step back and analyze the progress you are, or are not, making with your goals.
- Take time to clarify your priorities. Identify and focus on the goals that will add the most value.
- Acknowledge your wins and learn from the progress you have or have not been making with your goals. Maintaining a learning mindset will promote continued growth and movement towards goal completion.
- Tell people what your goals are. Announcing your intentions will increase your chances to achieve your goals.
- Be realistic. If you’ve discovered your goal is too big, make adjustments. It is better to achieve something than nothing at all.
- Build in reminders to keep yourself on track and make regular time-slots available to review your goals.
Make a commitment to yourself. There is only one person in this goal-setting process that matters. You! It is all on you; make an ongoing commitment to yourself.
“Day by day, nothing changes but when you look back everything is different.” ~Unknown.
What can you do with your goals today that will make looking back to today feel really different and really satisfying?
I recommend taking time to explore John G. Miller’s book “QBQ! Wha to Really Ask Yourself: Practicing personal accountability in business and life“. This book aims to help eliminate blame, complaining, and procrastination and addresses what he feels is a major issue: the lack of personal accountability.
Miller writes that “Sometimes people think they have no choice. They’ll say things like, “I have to” or “I can’t.”
We always have a choice; always. Realizing this and taking responsibility for our choices is a big step toward making great things happen in our lives.”
Miller believes the mindset that brings personal accountability to life is take ownership of the situation, explore and question it to find a solution. He provides three simple guidelines for creating a QBQ:
- Begin with “What” or “How” (not “Why,” “When,” or Who”).
When we ask “When,” for example, we’re really saying we have no choice but to wait and put off action until another time. Questions that start with “When” lead to procrastination. Procrastination is a sneaky problem. We put off a problem until a little later, and then a little later, and then a little later, until before we know it we have put off action so long that we have a serious problem. Miller quotes a friend who likes to say: “Let’s take care of the little things while they’re still little.” When we ask “Who” we deflect to someone else and take the responsibility off of ourselves. We’re looking for scapegoats and someone else to blame.
- Contain an “I” (not “they,” “them,” “we” or “you”).
Personal accountability is about each of us holding ourselves accountable for our own thinking and behaviors and the results they produce. Blame and “whodunit” questions solve nothing. They create fear, destroy creativity and build walls. There’s not a chance we’ll reach our full potential until we stop blaming each other and start practicing personal accountability. No matter what we’re trying to accomplish, there’s always a barrier of some kind to overcome, and it’s often something over which we have no control. Instead of focusing on the barriers, let’s work to become so good that we’ll succeed no matter what. Who do accountable people blame? No one, not even themselves.
- Focus on action.
To make a QBQ action-focused, add verbs such as “do,” “make,” “achieve,” and “build” to questions that start with “What” or “How” and contain an “I.” This focus will create questions like these:
|“What can I do to help you do your job better?”
“What can I do to make a difference?”
“How can I support the team?”
“How can I help move this forward?”
“How can I provide value to you?”
|“What solution can I provide?”
“How can I do my job better today?”
“How can I improve and/or adapt to the situation?”
“How can I better understand you?”
“What can I do to find the information to make a decision?” “
Taking action may seem risky, but doing nothing is a bigger risk! Even though there are risks involved in taking action, the alternative, inaction, is almost never the better choice. Miller writes that:
- Action, even when it leads to mistakes, brings learning and growth. Inaction brings stagnation and atrophy.
- Action leads us toward solutions. Inaction at best does nothing and holds us in the past.
- Action requires courage. Inaction often indicates fear.
- Action builds confidence; inaction, doubt.
QBQ is the practice of personal accountability: We discipline our thoughts. We ask better questions. We take action.
Practice it…and may it serve you well.
How can you support your learning and growth?
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every day you make decisions. The decisions you make come in a variety of ways; people, events, or things vying for your attention, time, or resources. Hopefully many of the decisions you make add value to you and your world. What happens when they don’t? What can you do to ensure you are in your optimal zone and adding value to your world? The answer – focus on what you can control and influence and let go of your concerns (things outside of you area of control or influence).
In life, there are many things about which you are concerned about yet have no control or influence over. Fortunately, however, there are many things you can control and influence. Highly successful people embrace this and spend their time and energy where they can make a difference. They realize they can influence a great deal; resulting a tremendous value being added to their world.
When you find yourself focusing on what you cannot control or influence; pause, take a deep breath, think, stay calm, and choose one item from your list and make a difference. You can’t always control the things that cause pressure, but you can control your reaction. Remind yourself that difficulties in life happen, they are a normal, unavoidable part of life.
Positive self-talk focusing on what you can control and influence is a useful way to help you stay calm while under pressure. It will also help you stay solution focused and avoid negative thoughts that may want to dominate your mind. Use your energy to focus on the present and what you can do to move forward. Focusing on what you can control and influence can help you to optimize your performance, increase your energy levels, recognize opportunities, and respond creatively to challenges.
Things you can control, right now:
- Your actions.
- How often you smile.
- Your level of honesty.
- The effort you exert for tasks.
- How you act on your feelings.
- How much time you spend worrying.
- Taming the negative gremlin in your head.
- How often you ask questions and listen to others.
- How often you show gratitude to yourself and others.
- How often you notice, appreciate, and share small acts of kindness.
Continue your control and influence list…….and then ACT on it! There are twelve months in a year. That gives you 52 weeks in which to choose your priorities. You have 365 days to decide where to focus your time, your attention, and your efforts. You have thousands of opportunities to choose, to try, and to learn. In twelve months you can achieve miracles. You can, to a remarkable degree, create the life you want. Be courageous and show determination to take the time needed to modify, impact, transform, and reinvent things in your life. You may not be in complete control; that is no excuse to deny the power you do have. Choose well. Use your power.
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
― Mahatma Gandhi