You’re Stuck

You’re Stuck. That’s why you’re mad. That’s why you hate mondays, that’s why you’re snappy, that’s why you can’t see any of the good. You can’t see a way out and you think you might die at that desk/in that stockroom/behind that counter/<insert job location here>. 

19 firefighters died for the greater good, saving lives on Monday and I thought, if I died at work, would I be doing what I loved? Sadly no. It’s fun sometimes but I don’t think that I was born to do this. You probably feel the same way.

So how to get unstuck? Slowly chip away at the cement.

img: google

  1. Admit you’re stuck, but admit it without prejudice or self-loathing.
  2. Realise that you CAN get unstuck.
  3. Figure out where you want to go, who you want to be, etc. you’re never too old, even when you think you are.
  4. Have a plan. e.g. maybe you wanted to play basketball but now your knees have gone out from age, so be a coach instead. just do whatever it takes to get close to what you wanted.
  5. Know that getting unstuck does not have to mean a complete life change. You don’t have to pack up the house, pull the kids out of school and move to the middle east to do meaningful work. Getting unstuck can be as simple as going to a swimming class after work to overcome a fear of water. Sometimes auxillary things can give your work meaning and they can lead you to where you really want to be.

It’s a process but a beautiful one. Start chipping at the cement right now. Get unstuck, get happy. 

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DON’T Pass it On!

Sometimes things are done to me that I don’t like, I’m treated disrespectfully or not given the tools I need to work with, or someone is mean to me for no good reason. When these things happen, I get all mad and righteous and think “how could they do such a thing! what kind of person does that! you’ll get yours from Karma!” However, just now something unpleasant happened and I suddenly thought… “who am I doing this to?”. I don’t know where it came from but, it’s a valid question and worth ruminating on. It’s easy to get miffed when something is done to us, but before we cast the proverbial first stone, are we guilty of the same actions? And even if we aren’t now, are we going to stay mad and end up passing on the same upsetting experience to other innocent folk?

While you can’t change what other people have already done to you, you can change how you treat others. So next time something upsetting happens, think about if you’ve ever done that or anything similar to others and resolve to treat people better next time. 

Have a good weekend!

Dissertation is picking up so I might miss a post in my anxiety filled delirium, sorry in advance just in case!

 

Papercut

I'm sorry sir, we'll get to you soon! img: google

I’m sorry sir, we’ll get to you soon!
img: google

I am behind on my dissertation. There. I admitted it. Said it out out loud instead of rushing by that uncomfortable thought and pushing it to the back of my mind like a nurse in the E.R. pushes a papercut to the back of the room screaming “Sit down sir! I’ve got a GSW to take care of, we’ll get to you as soon as we can!”. Except, there is no GSW, the dissertation is the priority that I’m glossing over. It’s just a papercut now but as I push it away, the papercut starts to turn green and smell, gangrene sets in and if I don’t act fast the whole finger will fall off and then the poor patient will die. I will die, of failure. 

But I get somehow paralysed. I overestimate the time I have and when I realise that time has run out, I freeze, not sure where to start. See, I’m GREAT at starting, FABULOUS at plans (my dissertation proposal was approved with not a single correction from my supervisor) but follow through is my weakness. I always think I have more time to chill than I do. I take breaks too early and never get back to my original task on time. Eg. Dissertation proposal finished? Awesome, I can chill for a week. That week turns into 6 and i’m like holy crap, what the hell happened to April?! oh shoot May’s gone too and it ate half of June!

Then that’s exactly where the paralysis hits. All I can see are those lost weeks, the decreased quality of life and work that I have inflicted on myself and I’m not sure how to make up the time. Can I really finish a 5500 word lit review in 2 weeks? I read like a snail! Worry and fear take over, gluing me to the ground and I look for escape, I play World of Warcraft and watch 4 seasons of Drop Dead Diva back to back, clicking next episode with the compulsion of an addict. 

But responsibility eventually bubbles to the surface like soup in a heated pot and spills over into my escapist reverie like a tsunami tide. I can’t ignore the papercut anymore, things are critical and we have to operate or lose the patient. “Sir! We’re ready for you! This way please and quickly!”

Gowns on and Glove up people, we’ve got work to do!

img: Freedigitalphotos.com (via google)

Yessuh, Nossuh!

(Apologies! I accidentally posted to my personal blog and not this one, so you get both Tuesday’s and Thursday’s post today!)

img: google

img: google

Nobody likes a yes-man who just agrees and does as he is told. Not your boss, not your colleagues, not even your clients. People like to know different perspectives and especially in the client case, it is your duty as the expert hired to give your opinion and ensure that they receive the best possible service or produce the best possible product. Sure they may not always listen to you, but it is paramount that you establish yourself as both knowledgeable and caring/invested in the process. Those qualities get you invited back for other jobs or recommended to others. 

Are you a “yes man”? You don’t have to be, state an opinion today, dont be rude or arrogant, just say what you think the problem is and tactfully suggest a solution – eg. “hey guys, I’m not sure that fluorescent pink and orange are the best colours to decorate the funeral home, charcoal and midnight blue tested better with grieving audiences, perhaps we can try those?”

Speak up today guys and see you on Thursday!

WOOSAH!!!!!!

img: google

Customer Service is a tough and often thankless job. You get yelled at and vilified for pretty much everything, often things that you didn’t do or things that the customers themselves are responsible for.

In my job, I deal with country reps who often tell me things I really don’t want to hear like how they’re ordering less due to sales drops which shouldn’t have occurred had they implemented the suggested marketing activities or monitored the sales more closely. Obviously this impacts my performance so I get pretty upset and I can feel the steam coming from my ears!!!

But I try never to reply in anger. If I am on the telephone, I take a breath and think positive before I answer or I might ask them to hold while I mutter angrily to myself and try to find my peace. If it’s an email, I let it sit for a bit while I browse 9gag.com for a laugh to cheer me up and calm me down. So far these approaches have helped me cool off and give the best service even in vexing circumstances, what are your cooling options in heated situations? Let me know in the comments. 

Also, apologies for no post on Tuesday, days have been flying by!

Have a great Friday / Weekend!

Persevere!

img: google

On Tuesday, we finally got a meeting with a potential new account that it took me TWO YEARS to get. Two years of calls, follow-ups, being passed on to new personnel as they took the job, of waiting while the business restructuring got finalised and we could move forward. Now, if you think that’s bad, hear this: the company’s been trying to get an account in that area for …wait for it… TEN YEARS before I joined! Makes my two look like cake doesn’t it?

Anyways, the meeting went WELL! Once we get legal worked out, we should have our new account by August, our customers are excited and rearing to go! It’s really exciting to see something you work so hard on come out so well. 

No one wants to wait 10 years or even 2, but if you have to anyways, you better start now! Keep at it and it’ll pay off in ways you never dreamed of!

Have a productive Friday and a fab weekend!

Optimise it!

not mom, not my room, but close enough.

My room is clean and tidy. Those words are akin to the last words of any general uttered at the end of any long and arduous battle. Shout out to my main soldier – Mom – who saw the carnage and sought to rescue me. 

Seriously, the chaos of that tiny space was intense! Why? Well two reasons – 1) I am a pack-rat and I have terrible trouble letting go of papers, books, knick knacks etc because I feel like I’ll need them later on.

2) I fix my room in a way that is not conducive to keeping it tidy. I fix my room in the way that it “should” look according to other sane people but i’m crazy and lazy and things like “folding” and “putting on hangers” never get done.

This time, I’m determined to maintain this clean and tidy look (I’ve got space to spread down my yoga mat or to have a solo dance party and I’m not giving that up!). So to ensure continuity, I sat down and thought about how exactly I operate and fixed my room to facilitate these processes. For example, I always fling my jeans/pants onto the little basket that I’m supposed to fold and put them in. I was honest with myself, am I going to start folding? NO! So instead of continuing to facilitate this failing folding process, I instead used a little rack my mom bought me to facilitate said flinging. So when the jeans are flung, the room will still be tidy and this new rack also eliminates wrinkles etc that the jeans and other pants would get when flung on the basket. 

We act like this at work. We set-up our desks and our work processes based on the way we “should” or we work hard trying to make ourselves perhaps tasks in a way that doesnt come easy to us. Perhaps we continue with a method we came and found when we took the job, perhaps we set-up our desk the way our superiors like to see it. Even when Efficiency Specialists are called in, they often look at ways to change employee behaviour to fit the processes that management would like to see, however this seldom achieves maximum productivity. They (and you!) should be looking at how workers naturally go about their tasks and seek to facilitate this as it makes the job easier and faster. (Obviously within the safety / ethical rules and regulations)

So take a few minutes to ponder how YOU work, are those spreadsheets really helping you in their current format, is having the papers on the left side of your desk convenient? If not, move things around to suit you. You may be the weird one in the office for a bit but when your productivity goes up, you’ll be applauded (and probably copied!). 

Have a great Tuesday and see you all on Thursday!

IMPOSTOR!!!!

Yesterday, in a meeting, the sales coordinator for our Guyanese Distributor praised me, telling my General Manager that I was very keen, hard working and “on the ball” and he advocated that I be rewarded with an upgraded blackberry or a tablet for my efforts (tablet coming soon!!!!!). My General Manager agreed that I was indeed a very enthusiastic, hard worker. And for the very first time, I didn’t feel like a fraud. Why? Well, praising myself has never been my strong point, my friends and family will tell you that I hold myself to quite high standards and never feel like I meet them so it’s hard for me to accept praise. Apparently, this behaviour is so common, they named a syndrome after it – Impostor Syndrome.

image from nature.com via google

“The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome)

I’m not sure how I ended up with it (most likely has something to do with constant comparison to others) however, I can tell you how I got better. 

  1. Hard Work – I pushed myself harder to get closer to my ideal working self so now that I feel I’m closer to something worthy of praise, it’s easier to accept it.
  2. Family/Friends – I’ve got good people in my corner who often point out the good things to me, I’ve also got younger cousins who look up to me. Originally this was part of the problem, i wanted to be someone truly worthy of their adoration, but I realise I already am.
  3. Living in the Now – I came to realise the truth in all those sayings about how it’s about the journey and not the destination. It’s ok to celebrate small victories, you may not have achieved the ultimate goal but something as simple as getting every on your to-do list done  deserves a little pat on the back. 
  4. Stop Comparing – One of the main reasons I feel like an impostor is because of the constant comparison to others who i believe have done better. Listen, everyone’s journey is different and as long as you are giving it your absolute, unadulterated best, you are doing fine!
  5. Good is still good – When I finish a task I often think, I could have done that better and I beat myself up for the undone/unsaid things, even though the job came off well. I’m not asking you to settle but I’m asking you to realise that a “good job” is still good! You can’t go back and change it, so be happy with “good” for now and on the next job, use what you’ve learnt to get to “best”.

Are you suffering from Impostor Syndrome? Take a second to recognise all you’ve accomplished, you may not be the youngest manager or the break-out entrepreneur/best seller of the year but you have done a lot to be proud of. If you can’t see those things, surround yourself with people who do.

Have a productive Friday and great weekend! Also, welcome to the new follows, glad to have you around!

No Radio Silence!

(Image from google)

When faced with a crisis, our default reaction, strangely enough, is often paralysis; to stand in shock wide-eyed as the thoughts race through our heads and we try to pick the best course of action. Often it’s hard to tell and we delay as long as possible in making that decision. And we sure as heck don’t want to be the bearer of bad news so we limit communication and that is the number one “DON’T” in a crisis.

During a crisis is the NUMBER ONE time that you should be communicating with your publics. Think about it, whenever an earthquake or a heinous crime happens, the media is all over it keeping you informed – “oh they got the hostages out!”, “only 2 people were hurt”, “they caught the gunman”. You feel better knowing what’s going on. Same thing in your work and personal lives, when a crisis happens, your co-workers, suppliers, friends and family all feel better knowing what’s going on. It puts them at ease and lets them know that you are aware of the situation and that you are trying your best to handle it instead of running away in fear. 

How to Communicate during a crisis:

  1. Use every medium possible to reach your customers, suppliers, (or even your spouse) – facebook, email, radio, tv, twitter, youtube etc.

    image from google

  2. Define the problem – eg. “The much anticipated release of product XP-887 (shout out to my Mad Men fans) has been delayed.
  3. Give an explanation of why – eg. our mechanics noticed a headlight wasn’t shining as brightly
  4. Say what you’re doing to fix it – e.g. We’re currently adding some extra wiring to route more wattage to the headlight., and let them know you’ll be in touch.
  5. If Possible, let them know when the problem will be rectified – e.g. We should be finished in   1 hour so at 10 AM sharp be at the lot for the release of the XP-887!
  6. Let them know when next you’ll give them an update or just assure them that you’ll be in touch.

What if you have nothing to report? Doesn’t matter, communicate anyways, people need to hear from you. Throw an update on the facaebook page – “hey guys it’s been a hours and we’re still working to get that server back up. Again apologies for any inconvenience caused.” Your customers just want to know that you’re there, on the job. 

(Image from google, and futurama)

What happens if you don’t communicate? Wild conjecture. People’s imaginations run away with them and we humans like to think the worst. “oh no, we haven’t heard anything in a few hours, have they sold all their assets and run off to South America with my money?!”. Ok fine that example was a bit extreme but I think it illustrates my point nicely. without information, your customers will speculate on what you actually are doing and deem you incapable. Your competitors will get in on this ASAP too, “At Bob’s doors, you never have to worry about rusting hinges! Switch to Bob’s Doors today!”, and you don’t want that. By Communicating, you lead your customers thoughts down the “right” path, you give them the information before someone else does. (Also applicable to personal life where gossips and malicious people abound).

So how’d your last crisis go? Next time (not being negative but life is full of these things!) don’t go radio silent, instead, make sure and have a well thought out communication strategy, maybe construct it beforehand so you know what your plan is. 

Tell me in the comments about the last crisis you handled and I’ll see you guys Tuesday for the next installment here at CBT. Wishing you a productive Friday and a great weekend!

It’s a Habit!

image from google

I was listening to Joyce Meyer in the car and she said that bad habits rob you of your best life. That stuck with me, and as usual, I applied it to work – Bad habits rob you of your best work. Think about a bad habit you have right now – maybe you’re often late to work. It’s only 15 minutes you think, but when you get there you need to spend another 15 to get settled in, you’re 15 mins behind on making calls, etc etc. What about if you don’t spell check your work or if you just don’t call people back on time. All of your stuff gets done, but can it be done better? Absolutely! Pick a bad habit and deal with it today!