There are many examples of individuals who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve worldwide acclaim, of leaders who took their companies to positions of global dominance in the face of fierce competition. There are even more examples of those who gave up, threw in the towel, and failed. It’s easy to blame others, or the environment, or the economy, or to rationalize ‘why’ it wasn’t their fault. If circumstances are not the determining factor, what is?
Too many people hold themselves in lower self-esteem than the actual facts warrant. Bad moments and past mistakes tend to make a deeper impression on our memories than our past successes. Many people tend to think more often of where and how they’ve failed, rather than where and how they have succeeded. Thus, many people tend to view themselves as less capable than they actually are. Another problem is that many have never learned the importance of self-love. The awkwardness with which some people accept compliments illustrates this fact. They often allow minor imperfections to color their view of themselves, resulting in a low self-image. To build a self-image on anything less than self-love, is to build on a hopelessly weak foundation.
With these thoughts in mind, let’s explore the difference you would make in enhancing the self-image of others if you thought more frequently in terms of their strengths and implemented a system and recognition program focused on their achievements, rather than on mistakes and failures. How much easier would it be to implement a change process if everyone viewed himself or herself in such a positive light?
What would happen to productivity if everyone thought more in terms of their unlimited potential rather than their limitations? What if you were to pay close attention as you go through your day to the processes and systems you use? I’ll bet with a raised level of awareness, you could easily identify three things that could help you be more productive.
Maybe you could immediately think of more than three things, but just for the exercise, boil them down to three main barriers that get in the way of getting work done successfully. In the work we do at eMBC Inc., we often notice participants benefit enormously from this simple act of observing and asking questions.
What obstacles do you run into that, if they were different, would help you get your work done more easily, faster, and better? If you could directly change any of the things you observe, you can commit to making those changes by the end of the week.
I ran across this page the other day on Wikipedia: Human Interaction Management. Apparently there is a movement stemming from business process management that includes the human elements. The simple act of observation and questioning can help bring to light needed areas for productivity improvement.
Let me give some examples.
· If you need assistance or approval from a colleague or manager, find out how you can get that process in motion.
· If the change you need carries a cost, be sure you can identify the cost justification and have it ready when you start your conversation
· If you have direct reports, do this exercise with one or more of them this week, as well.
It’s a good idea to take an entire day to observe your work day in process, asking questions at each step. Ask yourself, “What is getting in the way of successfully making progress on this project?” And ask your direct reports the same questions.
What will you discover? It depends on the quality of your observations and questions. I believe this is a valuable exercise anyone can engage in at any point in their career, at any day of the week. One of my clients is practicing this currently in his company.
Be willing to ask tough questions and be ready to commit to doing things differently; which also requires going out of one’s comfort zone.
Caveat: Pay attention to the phrase: “If you could directly change any of the things you observe, you can commit to making those changes by the end of the week.”
If all you see is what other people should or could be doing differently, then you are stuck. What can you directly change that will make a difference?
If you haven’t taken time out recently for observing your work day and asking tough questions, may I gently suggest you do? I know every time I do this exercise it is invaluable and effective. Let me know what you discover…
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.