Don’t Be Afraid to Accept the Challenge

The challenges I face today will make me better tomorrow.

The older and wiser version of yourself will be glad you did.

I am finding it difficult to pick up my guitars. They sit just across the room from me, and yet I avoid looking at them or listening as they call for me to pick them up and play. It’s nothing they did wrong. In fact, my difficulty is that I know I suck.

We generally seem to gravitate towards doing those things we are good at and shy away from our areas of weakness. This is a big problem. When trying to develop a new skill or hobby, we are usually unsatisfied with the results that we are getting. Not only that, but we will continue to perform poorly at the new technique until we have enough experience to feel confident, or we decide to leave our egos behind and just make a go of it. Here are four things we can both do to make some progress.

Give yourself some time

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. To make tangible improvement takes effort and time. No time invested results in zero gain. It’s that simple. Start with scheduling time to work on your new skill. Develop a practice routine and stick to it. I find it easier to do this if I put it on the calendar as a recurring task. To get from where you are to where you want to be you’ll need to invest your time, lose your fear of failure, and learn to enjoy the process.

Lower your expectations

It’s not uncommon to give ourselves unrealistic timetables for seeing remarkable progress. Slow down, and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. For me, that means learning to play the super-easy tunes from memory. No fancy strumming patterns just simple down strums to the beat from beginning to end. Once I can do that, I can add some upstrokes to make it sound more interesting. What is the most basic level of achievement that lets you know you are on the right track?

Look for incremental improvement

I’m not going to go from complete beginner to improvisational virtuoso in a year, and neither are you. Whether you are growing your spreadsheet skills, learning a foreign language, or have picked up a new musical instrument. You will go further if you are observant of signs that you are getting better. Analyze your progress and identify what you are doing better this week compared to last. That will help you to remain motivated and continue to try.

Choose the tougher road

There will be slips too. You may have a comparable skill that you can substitute for the one you are learning. That makes it easy to revert to your previous habits. Unfortunately, you won’t improve that way. You need to challenge the new skill. Sometimes it means taking a step backward so that you can take two forwards.

In baseball, switch hitters are usually better from one side of the plate than the other. For example, the greatest switch hitter of all time, Mickey Mantle’s batting average was 50 points higher from the right side of the plate (.330 vs. .281 from the left). Just having the ability to do both sent fear through the opposing manager regardless of where The Mick stood (372 home runs lefty and 164 batting right). Would you rather pitch to a right-handed hitter that gets on base an awful lot or a left-handed power hitter? There is no correct answer to that question.

Currently, Shohei Ohtani probably spends more hours practicing his craft than any other player in the majors. Because he needs to be both a good starting pitcher and a hitter worthy of a place in the lineup on the days he is not on the mound. That’s a tall order.

The same is true for you. The only way to develop new skills and abilities is to work at them and put them on display.

Being good at new skills and abilities is fun. Going through the learning process is not. For me, it means not letting my guitars collect dust, and playing easier versions of the songs I like. It also requires that I add guitar time to my schedule and find joy in my improvements, no matter how small. I could write about music. I am pretty good at that. Though I think it would be more fun to play. I know the older, wiser version of myself will thank me for sticking with it.

This post originally appeared on Medium.com.

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The challenges I face today will make me better tomorrow.

Don’t Be Afraid to Accept the Challenge

The older and wiser version of yourself will be glad you did. I am finding it difficult to pick up my guitars. They sit just across the room from me, and yet I avoid looking at them or listening as they call for me to pick them up and play. It’s nothing they did wrong.

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How to Create Effective Training

A guide to avoiding training that sucks As an entrepreneur, one of the hardest things you will do is bring new people on board to work your vision. The business has been your baby since its inception. Now you need to dilute that passion with employees. Not only that, but they also need to understand

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How to Create Effective Training

A guide to avoiding training that sucks

As an entrepreneur, one of the hardest things you will do is bring new people on board to work your vision. The business has been your baby since its inception. Now you need to dilute that passion with employees. Not only that, but they also need to understand your expectations and systems. That calls for training that doesn’t suck.

I told them a hundred times, but they still don’t get it!

Providing proficient training means you need to understand your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. You’ve got to have a handle on their communication styles and how they learn. You can’t expect everyone to think and act the same way you do. That kind of top-down training leads to unmotivated and unproductive employees.

Having a clear vision of who you are training and what makes them tick will allow you to modify your training so that it meets your objectives and has you feeling confident in delegating tasks to the new members of your team. 

Are your employees’ visual learners? They will need you to demonstrate what you want them to do. Are they kinesthetically focused? They will need hands-on time to grasp the concepts you had planned to lecture them on. Do your new employees do better reading? For those folks, creating a manual would be sufficient. And if they are verbal learners, having them explain how to do the task will help to stimulate their minds. There are seven different learning styles and their variations. Each type of learner will benefit most when the training is adapted to their learning modality.

You will also want to consider your team members’ DiSC profiles. Are they leaders or followers? Are they perfectionists or is it sufficient that the tasks are done acceptably? Understanding your employees’ working style preferences will help you to adapt the training. DiSC knowledge will also enhance your ability to decide strategically who to assign tasks, and how to hire for specific roles. You can learn more about DiSC here.

What do I teach them?

You have a wide view of the tasks and how those benefit your company. However, your new employees may only see those as chores that they need to complete in order to get a paycheck. You’ve got to change that perception. Employees are highly motivated by the sense that they are contributing to the organization. Therefore, don’t just tell them what to do, also include some background information. They’ll want to know why. That makes them feel like they are part of the process.

When you consider how you are going to explain the tasks, break them down to their smallest elements. Don’t miss a single detail, because some people will need to niche it down that much. While others will take a more holistic view. Those people will do better by learning as they go. Remember, you are managing people, not tasks. Keep the needs of your staff in mind as you dispense new assignments.

They are now performing the basic functions, but I want them to do more

Congratulations, you created an effective training program, and your staff is meeting about 50% of its expectations. That’s a big win. But now you want them to raise their collective game. It’s time for feedback. Feedback is better done one to one. You will get more authentic communication that way. Ask the employee to evaluate their performance. Talk to them about how they feel the process and their productivity could be improved. Ask for their advice about adjustments to the system. Then give them the freedom to do their best work.

If their answers are not so free flowing, try suggesting performance enhancements you would like to see and create a plan together for improving productivity. It may feel like you are spoon feeding solutions to this type of person, but that is the level of engagement they will need to achieve the results you envision. Regardless of the employees’ working style preferences, make sure that both of you are evaluating the performance. That way you can agree on expectations, what constitutes success, and continue to improve the system. These were the goals of your training when you decided to conduct it.

Tying it all together

Training is an investment in your business and its people. It may seem that the process is labor-intensive, but after doing it a few times, you will have a system you can use for any employee doing the same task and more easily create new trainings as well. Furthermore, educating staff on the whys for your processes and spending time on feedback will make them feel like they are more than hired help. For any business, this builds loyalty and lays the foundation for great business culture. Finally, once your employees have demonstrated competence in these skills, it is one less thing you need to worry about. That will free you up to work on other needs, like growing the business.

Originally posted on Medium.com

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The Power of Silence

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Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. – Wayne Dyer

Overstimulation is a big problem in today’s switched on, tuned in, and notification distracted world. It’s enough to make you blow a fuse. In fact, as Dr. Dyer’s quote above implies, you need silence to be creative, find your voice, and maintain your mental health. In their 2013 study, Is Silence Golden?  Imke Kirste, Zeina Nicola et al. found that neurons actually increase with prolonged exposure to silence. That means, to a degree, you get smarter and reduce the risk of mental illness as you improve your ability to use silence.

When your mind is receiving so many inputs that there is little time for processing information. The result is your mental filters cannot function correctly, and you begin to lose your sense of self. Quietly sitting in reflection, even for a few moments, can help you to process the situation, your options for solving problems, and makes you more creative too.

Be alone — that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born. – Nikola Tesla

Stillness has the power to focus you in on the moment, on dreams and possibilities, allowing you to more deeply understand your environment, the situation, and your place within those. That stillness helps you to find balance in an otherwise chaotic world.

Silence is also a great communication tool. In a negotiation, for instance, silence after an initial offer may lead your less skilled counterpart to think you are unhappy with their proposal and have them countering offering in a way that is more beneficial for you. This is called negotiating against yourself.

Silence allows us to see and hear what we might otherwise miss. Things like facial expressions and body language, for example, tell us a lot about what others are thinking and feeling. We can then respond in a calm and insightful manner. All we need is to do it be silent and observant.

6 tips to more effectively incorporate silence into your daily routine.

Listen

Listen to your environment. Whether it is inside or out, what sounds do you hear? Are the rhythms fast or slow? Are the frequencies high or low? Is that bird singing to his flock or his love? Slowing down and listening makes you mindful of the here and now. Once you are in the moment, you can think clearly. We can’t change the past or the future, we only control the present. So, be focused on what you can do right now and its impact on the future.

Journal

Write down whatever comes to your mind. This gives voice to your right brain. The silent partner is waiting for their opportunity to speak a chance to do so. Set a time limit and be consistent. This habit will help your mind to autonomously prepare to communicate with the paper.

Music

Pick one of your favorite pieces of music and listen to it for the details. Are you able to pick out the instruments? Can you identify the emotion the artists are expressing? 

Imagine being in the recording studio and hearing that for the first time. This will bring out a deeper aspect to the music than you may have ever experienced.

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. ― Aldous Huxley

Mindfulness

Even if you are new at creating mindfulness experiences, you can achieve more control of your situation when you are entirely present in the hush of the moment. Imagine there is no future and no past. Think that all you have is now. Then use that context to view what is happening around you and make decisions that lead to a better future.

Brown and Pink Noise

Why it is not technically silence, brown noise with its low frequencies sounds like a rushing river and pink noise, which sounds like rain or rushing leaves, create a sense of relaxation that is good for turning your thoughts inward.

Get off the grid

Even if it is for just a few minutes, turn off the Wi-fi and the notifications. Then be completely present in the physical world, only you, your thoughts, and your feelings. Spend a few moments, or hours, with your favorite person…You.

Our minds need rest. We need the silence between the notes to make the music beautiful. To put what happens around us into context and to enjoy the lives we have. Give your mind the gift of occasional silence.

What to do When You’re Trapped at Home

Don't just sit at your desk all day

10 Tips for keeping sane while staying at home

 

Regardless how comfortable your space is, it’s no fun having to self-quarantine.

While the world is on lockdown and you are forced to stay at home, a mixture of emotions is probably sweeping over you. At first, you may be feeling excitement at not having to go into the office. Later as the time spent in isolation lengthens, distractions will try your patience as the kids run around the house with pent up energy. Or maybe you’ll feel the urge to give in to your dog’s joy of having you home 24/7. Eventually, however, boredom with the selection from your favorite streaming service will creep in. Don’t take things lying down. Consider this time as a gift.


The earth is using this opportunity to heal itself. Drastic reductions in flights, factory production, and motorists have all resulted in fewer greenhouse gasses in addition to cleaner air and water. Though experts say the results may be short-lived, cities like Venice, Los Angeles, and Beijing are dramatically cleaner for the time being. We should be looking for ways to improve our quality of life too. 


Regardless of your situation, some things are out of your control, such as the regulations requiring you to stay home or the stall in the economy. So it is time you took some action with the things that are in your control. Here are ten ways to stay sane while staying at home.

  • Read a personal development book – There is no time like now to work on becoming a better version of yourself. An hour or two every day of reading or listening to audiobooks will allow you to get through that book during your lockdown. Here are some of my personal favorites.
    • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephan Covey
    • Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
    • The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
    • The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
    • Difficult Conversations – Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen
  • Clean your living space – A clean space brings happiness and according to feng shui, good fortune. Take the time to clean out the dust, get rid of stuff you have long since forgotten, and vacuum behind the TV. You will breathe easier, knowing that your life is slightly more organized and dust-free.
  • Exercise – Whether you practice with online videos, have your own routine, or do simple exercise from your living room, getting some kind of physical workout will help you lose weight, improve your circulation and release your feel-good endorphins.
  • Find ways to support local businesses and do some volunteer work – Spread goodness by helping others. Some of the ideas I have seen recently include giving away some of your extra supplies, cooking for neighbors, supporting local businesses by purchasing their gift cards, ordering takeout, or even starting a campaign to help your local restaurants offer meals to those in need.
  • Send thank-you notes – Now is the time to be grateful for the people you have in your life. Send a brief thank-you note or email. It’s a simple way to show your gratitude to the people in your life.
  • Move back burner projects to the front – Take some time to work on those back-burner projects. They are on your list for good reasons. So, using this time to make some real progress on them will help you to get ahead.
  • Resolve to be positive – No reason to be negative in times like these. Turn off the news, avoid drama and paranoia. Put a positive spin on everything. On the other side of this pandemic will be opportunities. Do what you can to set yourself up to win.
  • Have longer conversations – Take some time to interact with your friends and family, either face to face or virtually. Enjoy one of the benefits of slow life: long, drawn-out conversations about everything and nothing.
  • Reconnect – Take time to reconnect with people from your past who have been influential to you. Talk about the impact they have had on your life, about old times, and what is happening now. You will be surprised how quickly the past melts away.
  • Journal, blog, or just write – This is an excellent time to produce your own content. Let yourself reveal those words you’ve always longed to say. Create something new, analyze your past, or just write creative material like poetry, a short story, or a novel.

Above all, find a way to get and stay positive. These tips will help you to do this, but you may want to avoid negativity as well. Stop watching the news and use the World Health Organization’sCOVID live stats, or your national Center for Disease Control’s website to get the facts on what is happening. Find a way to laugh and a reason to smile. Avoid doomsday topics and negative Nellies. Instead, invite positivity and possibility into your home. They are always happy to see you. Then once you are feeling that sense of optimism, share it with the world. We could all use a good dose of that right now.