Personal Development

Personal development includes activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations. The concept is not limited to self-help but includes formal and informal activities for developing others in roles such as teacher, guide, counselor, manager, life coach or mentor. When personal development takes place in the context of institutions, it refers to the methods, programs, tools, techniques, and assessment systems that support human development at the individual level in organizations.

Passion Is A Unicorn. Purpose is A Lion!

October 20, 2017 •  7 minute read • by Saeed


“The lion is most handsome when he is looking for food.”

~ Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد رومی‎‎)

The internet guru industrial complex is replete with this dangerous piece of advice: Follow Your Passion.

We can credit this piece of modern wisdom to the late great Steve Jobs and his iconic 2005 commencement speech that spawned it. That speech has racked up 30 million views on YouTube – a clear indication of its popularity. 20 years earlier, mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell was also advocating for the same general formula for success when he said: Follow Your Bliss.

The irony is that when you study Jobs’ life you realize that he himself did not follow his passion. He stumbled into it.

The Problem With Passion

There are numerous other problems with the passion formula.

The most obvious one is that Follow Your Passion presupposes a pre-existing passion you can discover and then follow.

A second problem is that passion is regarded as a singular pursuit. But you may have several or many passions. This excludes all us multipotentialites out there.

It’s also dangerous advice for the nearly 50% of the global workforce who is frustrated, unhappy and unfulfilled.  How many of us have ever considered quitting your job to pursue our passion?

Answer: many.

I want to extinguish this curse from the lexicon of motivational speakers and bloggers everywhere. Short of that goal being met, I’d like to distinguish between passion and purpose.

Passion Vs. Purpose

Passion is a pink unicorn.

Purpose, on the other hand, is a more meaningful pursuit.

Because while you may have many passions, you only have one purpose.

So, how do you distinguish between passion and purpose?

Passion is defined as “a strong and barely controllable emotion.” This is hardly a stable or useful metric to base your pursuits on. Whether that’s life, career, or the broad, ambiguous, and definition-less concept of “success.”

On the other hand, purpose is defined as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”

If passion is something you follow, then purpose is something that drives you.

Your purpose is your ‘Why’ behind it all. It is the deep reason for your existence.

In his great book,  “Ego is the Enemy,” Ryan Holiday warns us against passion. Passion, he says, is form over function, where purpose is function.

Purpose doesn’t cower in the face of failure.

Purpose isn’t sensitive to criticism or rejection.

Purpose doesn’t quit if things don’t go according to plan.

Passion on the other hand is fickle. It loses interest. It accepts defeat more readily. It is vulnerable to the judgment of others.

Passion does not have direction or reason. Purpose is single-minded.

Passion is for the amateurs. Purpose is for pros.

Let me put it like this: If you wanted to start a fire, you’d grab some logs and matches. To build a proper foundation of wood (purpose) for your flame (passion) you’d put tinder and smaller kindling at the bottom and larger fuel logs on the top. You will find that if your wood foundation isn’t right (your purpose), the fire will keep going out. You can toss in another match and keep stoking the flames (your passion) but your passion will keep burning out until you establish the right foundation. You get the idea. The two go hand-in-hand.

Finding Your Purpose

Instead of chasing the pink passion unicorn, I suggest people focus on finding a purpose—finding ways to leverage your passion and skills to fill a need in the world. Filling a need means providing value to others. Filling a need can run the gamut from creating useful iPhone apps to solving the world’s biggest social impact challenges such as poverty, education, health care, and climate change.

One exercise I’ve recommended to my coaching clients is to pretend they’re writing their own obituary – as if they’re telling the “greatest hits” version of their personal story: their values, their accomplishments and so on. To do this exercise, ask yourself:

  1. Why am I alive today?
  2. What do I want to accomplish with my life?
  3. Who will remember me when I pass from this world?
  4. What will I be most remembered for?

Brainstorm a bunch of stuff. Don’t be afraid to write down as many things as come to mind. Next, eliminate the unnecessary. What could you subtract from your list and still feel like “you” in your life? Finally, as you review your shortened list, see what’s glaring back at you? What refuses to be quiet? What’s the ONE thing you would do with your life if nothing could stop you? Your purpose is what is screaming at you from inside to be manifested.

As a final bit of checks and balances, ask yourself: Am I chasing this because I am proud and excited by this work? Or do I simply want to be impressive and well received by the world?

Do The Work

Once you’ve been able to identify your purpose, go at it with full force. Find it, grow it, and share it with the world. Triple down on the skills that actualize that purpose. Become the expert. Become the pro.

There is no secret formula to success. All there is to do is to systematically over a period of time (10,000 hours) build up a rare and valuable skill and then use that skill to take control of your working life and shift it into directions that resonate with who you are.

So go out there, practice, do and keep on doing until your skills and purpose are aligned and in harmony.

Stop worrying about finding your passion and–instead–actually do the things that excite you and make you feel alive. Your purpose will one day eclipse your passion.

One Final Word

Realism and detachment are necessary. You have to be objective about how good you are, where you’re going and even detached from the outcome at times. You’ll never find out if you’re thrown off by the frustrations and setbacks that passion creates. If you don’t see the results soon enough, you may become flummoxed and give up.

People who are working hard to fill a need and solve the biggest problems are often compensated in the biggest ways, not just in financial terms, but also in terms of human satisfaction. Filling a need shifts the focus from you to others. It shifts the conversation from what you like to do (having a passion or hobby) to how you can be a valuable contributor in helping society fills its needs (having a purpose). This paradigm shift moves the frame of reference from the self to how we can help others. People become less self-absorbed and ironically, more likely to be genuinely happy.

Don’t you sometimes find that you’re happiest when you don’t think too much about how to become happy?

The good news is that there are a lot of big needs in this world to fill. Each of us has the unique skills to fill some subsets of these biggest needs.

How will you change the world?

I can’t wait to see.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

 

 

Emotionally Empathetic Leaders Excel at Everything

 

October 18, 2017 •  5 minute read • by Saeed


“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” ~ Steven Covey

I saw a sign once that said “Everything starts with an ‘E’.

True, I thought, ‘everything’ starts with an ‘e’ but empathy starts with ‘u’ – (you).

In 1995, Daniel Goleman, argued the merits of social and emotional intelligence competencies like self-awareness, self-regulation, and empathy and their capacity to add value to many domains of life, from workplace effectiveness and leadership to health and relationships

In a recent article, Goleman defines empathy as ‘having the ability to sense others’ feelings and how they see things’ and the ability to take an active interest in their concerns.

When I ask my coaching clients what skills they want to work on as a leader, many identify empathy.

Why is this trait so important to leaders?

As a leader, job one is to influence others towards improvement and change.  There are usually a multitude of ways to get others to change. Effective leaders are able to do advanced thinking to know  which strategy will work best with which individuals. The ability to accurately predict how another person will react emotionally and behaviorally in a given set of circumstances is what empathetic leadership is all about. The better you are at this trait, the more accurate and successful you will be in figuring out the approach that will work when you want to influence others.

Research reported in Scientific American suggests that our levels of empathy – the ability to understand the feelings of others – are lower today than 30 years ago.

An increase in social isolation is one theory used to explain this finding.

The trouble is that when there is no empathy, when we don’t work to understand the needs of others, there is a significant loss of trust. This can have major implications for business where trust is essential for successful leadership and partnerships.

So what if you take a 360-degree assessment of your Emotional Intelligence Competences and find that you score low on empathy. Are you out of luck? Not at all.

While personality traits have a strong genetic component, are hard to “change” and tend to be very stable over time, every trait can be “managed.”

For example, one of my clients is very high on a trait called “Urgency”– a CEO of a successful start up – she tends to be much more impatient than most of the other people she leads. She’s always been that way, and the trait has served her well in some instances. But over the years, she has had to learn how to manage a tendency that can otherwise sabotage her leadership goals. First by becoming aware of it, and then by learning a set of mental strategies that have allowed her to be more mindful in how and when she expresses this trait.

Here’s what you need to work on if you want to be more empathetic as a leader:

1.      Develop self-awareness

Self awareness – the skill of perceiving and understanding your own emotions, is the starting point. There is no way around this. You must be able to identify and understand the impact of your feelings on your thoughts and decisions.  Many of us confuse thoughts to be the same as feelings. So when someone asks how do you feel about a project, you might respond, “I think we have a lot to do.” Or, we might not distinguish between related emotions, for example, between frustration and irritability or happiness and excitement. Developing this self-awareness is a fundamental step towards greater empathy.

2.      Develop awareness of others

Greater understanding of others leads to a greater understanding of how to engage, respond, motivate and connect with them in such a way that you are able to advance mutual goals. This social awareness is at the heart of interpersonal effectiveness. This awareness extends itself to understanding the politics within an organization and how to navigate them and the ability to serve others. Developing awareness of others means you carefully consider what people want, and plan to communicate with them in a way that is intended to meet that need.

3.      Learn to appreciate the major differences among people

One of the best examples of strong skills in empathy is people who have traveled or worked in multicultural environments. They have learned that the way they see and experience things is often different from others. People with little or no skills in empathy might have an intellectual awareness of these differences. However, until they actually experience these differences, their skills in empathy will probably remain quite limited. As Goleman says, empathetic executives are better at international  assignments because ‘they can quickly pick up on the unspoken norms for behavior and the mental models of that culture.’

Goleman has identified the building blocks of emotional intelligence to be:

·        Self-Awareness

·        Self-Regulation

·        Social Awareness

·        Relationship Management

Great leaders understand the importance of social and emotional intelligence in an increasingly globalized, diverse and collaborative workplace. Diversity encompasses acceptance and respect while recognizing individual differences and uniqueness. Open communication plays an essential role in managing diversity as does building an awareness of social situations.

Get it wrong and you’ll be seen as uncaring and insensitive.

Get it right and you will be set up for success.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

What Can Steve McQueen Teach Us About Passion?

October 14, 2017 •  3 minute read • by Saeed


“I scrounged around for the next couple of years, trying to get the scam on the human race and just where the hell I fitted in – I discovered there were no openings.” ~ Steven Terrence McQueen

Follow your passion.

That’s pretty much the mantra of every self-help guru you can shake a stick at. Let’s not stop there. Steve Jobs famously espoused the same formula for bliss. But is that really how it works?

Examining the life of an iconic actor may be instructive in understanding how passion, purpose, and vocation inter-relate.

Steven Terrence McQueen was born on March 24, 1930, in Beech Grove, Indiana.  One of the most popular film actors of the 1960s and ’70s, he was known for his rugged good looks and cool, tough guy persona. McQueen was also a walking paradox. The ‘King of Cool’ was painfully insecure and harbored antediluvian attitudes about women. He said: “I’ve spent too much of my life feeling insecure. I still have nightmares about being poor, of everything I own just vanishing away. Stardom means that can’t happen.”

In his youth, McQueen worked various odd jobs –  oil rigs, carnivals and even as a towel boy in a brothel. In 1947, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and became a tank driver. In 1952, McQueen found himself studying acting with Stella Adler in New York and the rest, as they say, is history.

In 1974, at the height of his fame, Steve McQueen was the highest-paid movie star in the world with a net work of $30 million. One would have thought McQueen had found his passion. But McQueen hated acting. Even though his popularity placed him in high demand and enabled him to command large salaries, he was combative with directors and producers.

“I really don’t like to act. At the beginning, back in ’51, I had to force myself to stick with it. I was real uncomfortable, real uncomfortable.” “I’ll never be as good an actor as I want to be….but I’ll be good.”

Indeed, he was disparaging of his craft. He once said: “In my own mind, I’m not sure that acting is something for a grown man to be doing.”

McQueen only saw acting as a way to become financially secure. His childhood was hard and he grew up poor. As he remarked, “Stardom equals financial success and financial success equals security… I just want the brass ring and the pine trees and my kids and the green grass. I want to get rich and fat and watch my kids grow.”

For McQueen, acting was a job that allowed him to pursue his real passion: racing. As he said, “I’m not sure whether I’m an actor who races or a racer who acts.”

McQueen owned more than a hundred motorcycles and more than 50 classic cars. He was so knowledgeable about motorcycles that he wrote a series of reviews of various models in Popular Science in the mid-1960s. He was often credited with popularizing dirt biking and in 1978 he was rewarded for it by being inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. He tried to tanslate his passion to film when he starred in “Le Mans,” a 1971 film depicting a fictional 24 hours of the famous car race. Much to his disappointment, the film was a box office flop.

His need for speed also included airplanes. He got his pilot’s license and bought several classic old aircraft, including a 1945 Stearman, a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub and a 1931 Pitcairn PA-8 biplane. Towards the end of his life, he lived in an airplane hanger with his third wife and his many acquired toys. His massive collection was sold at auction after his death for many times what he paid for them.

“Racing is life.” McQueen would say. “Anything before or after is just waiting.” That is the very definition of passion.

So for McQueen, even though he was incredibly successful at acting, it was not his passion. One could argue that it was his purpose, but not his passion.

Sadly, 1980 was the year McQueen was diagnosed with mesothelioma, possibly due to contact with asbestos in ships during his time in the Marines and also in sound stage insulation and in the protective suits he wore while racing.   

One final note. McQueen had a reputation for being cheap, which he apparently picked up because of his strange behavior of making unusual demands in his contracts. He asked for cases of electric razors, blue jeans and sanitary items. Later, it was discovered what he was up to. McQueen never forgot the California Junior Boys Republic – a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian school and treatment center for troubled youngsters – where he spent part of his youth. McQueen was obtaining these items and then donating them to the school. He also visited the school to give talks to the boys, established a scholarship there in 1962 and left them money in his will. He was 50 years old when he died.

 

 

 

 

Hate your boss? Learn to Manage Up!

September 21, 2017 •  6 minute read • by Saeed


“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager. ”

-Bob Nelson

Sorry people, in this post, we’re going to get real. In fact, this is less blog post and more intervention for those of you out there who just can’t get along with your boss.

If you feel you are more intelligent and gifted than those above you, then this article is for you. What you need to know is that there are just some truths you can’t avoid when it comes to the wild and wacky world of work. And it doesn’t get more real than when you have to deal with the boss you despise.

Whether you like it or not, you chose this ship (no one forced you to take that job) and it’s now up to you to navigate the murky waters in which you swim. If you didn’t already know, the most significant factor impacting your job satisfaction is your relationship with your boss. Managing up doesn’t mean sucking up but it does require you to tap into your higher self. The best way to do that is to, well, suck it up and face some cold hard truths.

Cold hard truth #1: Your are expendable. Remember, the most advanced technical skills and content knowledge do not supersede the relationship you have with your boss. That’s a harsh place to start but I felt I needed to first stick your face in a bucket of ice water and wake you up. Now you’re ready to hear the rest.

Cold hard truth #2: Most managers are either overextended, overwhelmed, or downright incompetent. Yup, I said it. Incompetent. That’s because they never learned the art and science of management. They were just thrown into it. While it may be hard, the best approach here is empathy and compassion. Seriously.

Cold hard truth #3: Even if your boss has some serious shortcomings, it’s in your best interest, and it’s your responsibility, to make the relationship work. That’s right. It’s your responsibility, not theirs. Once you get your head around that, you’ll be able to walk the higher ground. And walk the higher ground, you must.

Cold hard truth #4: Your job is to support your boss’ success. Whatever you actual job may be, that’s your real job. It’s not to drag them down, show them up, or step over or around them. This is your mission and you have no choice but to accept it if you want to be successful at your job.

Cold hard truth #5: As much as you’d like to see them crawl back under the rock from which they came, you are going to have to muster up some EQ and nurture your relationship. Get to know them as a person. I’m not saying go ice skating together but you do need to have a sense of them as a person, their motivations and their struggles. Simple questions about them as a human being can a go a long way to building empathy for them as a person.

Cold hard truth #6: Understand their goals. By understanding their goals, you’ll be able to calibrate what you do to what their desired outcomes and objectives are for themselves and the company. Everything you do is directly tied to that.

Cold hard truth #7: It is up to you to find a way to be a genuine source of help. That means being the most effective employee you can be and  creating value for your boss and the company. It doesn’t matter that you hate your job. Remember, you chose your job, it did not choose you.

Cold hard truth #8: You have to educate them on You. Research shows that great managers uncover what’s unique about each person on the team and then exploit it (I mean that in a good way). Instead of having the arrogant expectation that they should know you, help them uncover what’s great about you.  Tell them your strengths, your struggles, how you deal with pressure and conflict and what lights your fire. Help them help you.

Cold hard truth #9: Your boss is not a prescient mind-reader. Learn to communicate proactively and to anticipate their needs. Ask what they need or better yet, do what they need before they have to ask you to do it. Align your needs with their goals. Find their preferred method of communication and use it. If they like to read bullet points, don’t write long rambling emails that frustrate them. Even if they don’t ask, keep them updated on your projects and progress. And if your boss is a micromanager, the more outgoing information you convey, they less they will ask about what’s happening.

Cold hard truth #10: You may have to help your boss become a better leader. I know that’s so hard to swallow when you think or know you could do it better yourself. John Baldoni, author of “Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up” says that great leaders have established the three Cs necessary to become an influential leader – competency, credibility and confidence. Your boss may lack one or all three. Help to support their weaknesses and you will reap the rewards.

Before you go…

Remember how at the top we acknowledged that you are more intelligent and gifted than those above you.  Well, maybe you are. And maybe, you should give your boss some credit for that. The best leaders make every attempt at building their organizations with people who are brighter and more talented than they are. This is a laudable practice that should be admired by workers, not resented.

Despite your best efforts to build a good relationship, there may come a time when you’ve lost your boss’s trust. It happens. And while it may take some diligent effort on your part, it is possible to put the relationship back on track.  Be mindful. Be grateful. Be patient. Have a good attitude. Be positive. Do the best job you can do. If your work doesn’t speak for itself, or if it does and isn’t being recognized, rather than act out, move on honorably and look for a better fit.

Good luck.

 

How To Build Career Longevity

September 8, 2017 •  4 minute read • by Saeed


” Most people fail, not because of lack of desire, but, because of lack of commitment.” ~ Vince Lambardi
Career longevity is no longer about staying in one job for years on end.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wage and salary workers have been with their current employer for a median of 4.6 years (that doesn’t include the 14 million Americans who are self-employed free agents).

A word of caution: that is not a free pass to job hop. Shifting gears too often or pulling a 180 to do something completely different than your expertise can sabotage your efforts at building career longevity. Job hopping frequently because you can’t get along with your coworkers or management or because you lack focus and don’t know what you want in your life can be a career killer. Change is not what does you in. It’s the frequency of the changes.

We are not talking about people with legitimate reasons to make change. The bad boss is the classic. Sometimes we’re stuck in a job that is not good for us or we need a career change. In these instances, change can be good.

That statistic simply represents a major generational shift where the trend has moved towards more change more often. In places like Silicon Valley, not only is it acceptable, it can even be a badge of honor.   For the millennial set, it’s simply the way things are.

But as a whole, building longevity is no longer about staying with one company and holding out for the gold watch.

Rather, it’s about staying fresh and building career equity.

You build equity (and therefore longevity) by developing a set of skills, contacts and relationships as well as behaviors that value self improvement and the kind of adaptability that will allow you to be seen as a change maker, not someone who wants to cling to the status quo.

So how long should you stay at your job? Well, it takes about two years to build career equity or a return on the individual’s investment of time, energy and skill that is meaningful to a firm and to the individual’s career.

If you just started a new job and you are worried about your staying power, or if you don’t know how to intentionally build career equity, get a coach. If the company does not provide one, hire one yourself or take the initiative to develop relationships with peers and “go-to” people for support. Avoid violating career threatening, yet unwritten rules. This is critical to making the new start a success and to building momentum.

Remember, the way we manage endings helps us take advantage of new beginnings and build career equity, and thereby, career longevity.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

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A Top 10 Roadmap for Socially Intelligent Leadership

August 29, 2017 •  8 minute read • by Saeed


The world is increasingly global.

The world of work is increasingly collaborative.

Learning to navigate work’s new byways and highways is increasingly critical to your success.

In order to lead effectively, today’s leaders need to cultivate social and emotional intelligence. This is no longer a “nice to do” – it’s a leadership requirement needed to get results and advance in any organization.

Social Intelligence (SI) is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal for strengthening your leadership and your team.

Consider this your GPS. Here are the top ten ways to learn to cultivate your social intelligence as a leader and get better results:

  1. Learn to let go of being the expert and having all the answers:The reality is, no single leader (or organization) can possibly have all of the answers. Complex business decisions require the collective input of many stakeholders. Allow yourself to be influenced by the opinions of others. Clinging to the belief that you need to have all of the answers leads to a perception of arrogance from others. Let go!

 

  1. Learn to listen actively:  Active listening is a skill that involves focus, energy, and commitment. How well you listen has a major impact on your relationship with others and the perception of you as a leader. I am always amazed at the imbalance between talking and listening that leaders exhibit. True leadership is about taking into account the opinions of others. The only way to do so is to listen. Lean in.

 

  1. Learn to lead sideways not just up and down:Leading sideways means being a leader – and sometimes being a follower.  This is the least talked about form of leadership. It means paying attention to what’s important to your colleagues and looking for ways to help facilitate their goals. It is difficult because you don’t have the same leverage as when you lead up and down. It takes social intelligence to lead sideways. It takes the power of persuasion and the leveraging of relationships – not just your title.

 

  1. Learn to build personal relationships:When you take the time to get to know someone personally, it becomes easier to build trust, resolve conflicts, lead sideways and generally be more productive. Go out for regular coffee, lunch, or after-hour informal get-togethers.  Stop looking down and dreading teambuilding events and activities or those after-work social events. Learn to embrace the informal opportunities  that can help build relationships.

 

  1. Learn to Establish trust:See my article “Trust is the Cornerstone of All Relationships.” You can’t be a great leader without trust. Trust is not a benefit that comes simply by virtue of your title. It is earned through relationship building.  Building trust is central to morale, productivity, and employee engagement. The good news is that you can build and maintain trust over time.

 

  1. Learn to keep your commitments:Part of the trust equation is maintaining your commitments. When you walk out of a meeting or end a phone call, and you say you’re going to do something, do it! Missing deadlines and ignoring the concerns of others is a surefire way to erode trust and respect.

 

  1. Learn to embrace diversity:This is a fundamental truth: when you get people with different perspectives together to solve a problem, you’re more likely to come up with bolder, more creative solutions. Decades of research has shown that when people work directly with someone with at least one diverse trait, it challenges them and actually makes them smarter and more diligent.

 

  1. Learn the art and skill of asking questions:If you want catalyzing insights, learn the art of asking powerful questions. If you find yourself bored in meetings, I am willing to bet that the meeting leaders are not asking the right questions or facilitating the right conversation in the right way. When meetings are one-directional, people stagnate. To innovate, use these four magic words that also demonstrate you are a socially intelligent leader: “What do you think?” Yes, it’s that simple!

 

  1. Learn to resolve conflict:Working with others can be messy and conflict is inevitable. Conflict management is about teamwork, respect, collaboration and negotiation. The best conflict negotiators lead conversations away from the petty issues people can get bogged down in and towards team goals, team interests, and opportunities for achieving win-win solutions.

 

  1. Learn how to make consensus decisions:Consensus does not mean that everyone must agree. It just means that everyone can live with the decision that was made. Involving others in the decision-making process can harness the collective wisdom of your team, and gain critical buy-in through ownership of the decision. This will speed up, implementation and ultimately result in a better outcome for your project and your organization. Institutionalize it.

Follow these ten tips and you’ll become known as a socially intelligent leader – a leader that helps to produce extraordinary results by leveraging the collective talent of the entire enterprise.

How To Nail Your Next Job Interview

August 9, 2017 •   4 minute read • by Saeed


“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” ~ Steve Martin

Over the span of my career, I have interviewed hundreds of job candidates and have been interviewed countless of times myself. I am always amazed at the poor performance on both sides of the table.

I assume you are reading this because you have an upcoming interview.

I also assume you know the basics:

  • Dress for the part;
  • Arrive a few minutes early;
  • Shake hands, don’t hug (really, I’ve had that happen);
  • Have an extra copy of your resume and cover letter on hand;
  • Don’t respond with canned answers;
  • Prepare examples;
  • Research the company and prepare three questions to ask;
  • Don’t go off on a rant about how technology is destroying us if you are applying for a job at a Apple or how wall street is fleecing us if you are applying for a job at Goldman Sachs and so on;
  • Send a hand-written thank you letter.

Lastly, I assume you know that an impression is formed within the first 60 seconds of meeting you. Actually, the research says 1/10 of a second but who’s counting.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s focus on how to actually answer questions. One of the biggest turn-offs in interviews is when people ramble on. To avoid being a babbling brook, use the STAR technique. This is an especially useful technique for answering interview questions in which you must answer with an anecdote. There are four key steps: situation, task, action, and results. Here is how it works:

(S) Situation. Describe the situation in which the event took place.

(T) Task. Describe the task you were asked to complete. If there was a particular problem or issue you were trying to solve, describe that here.

(A) Action. Explain what action you took to complete the task or solve the problem.

(R) Results. Explain the result of your actions. For example, if your actions resulted in completing a task, resolving a conflict, improving your company’s sales record, etc., explain this. Try to focus on how your actions resulted in a success for the company

Now that you have your technique down, let me give you the big secret to job interviews: People want to hire people they can see themselves working with on a daily basis. In other words, it has to be a good fit regardless of your qualifications or experience. Otherwise, both sides will be stuck in a perennial state of unhappiness. So remember, if you don’t get the job maybe it’s because it wasn’t meant to be.

Good Luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

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4 Fundamental Reasons Why People Procrastinate (and what to do about it)

August 8, 2017 •   6 minute read • by Saeed


“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson

Procrastination.

It’s the thief of time. It sabotages success. It corrodes your self-esteem. It’s the curse of productivity.

Not sure if you’re a procrastinator?

Do you put off making decisions or completing important tasks? Do you start your work at the eleventh hour because it doesn’t get exciting enough until time is running out? Do you (erroneously) think you do your best work under the gun because that’s when you are most creative?

Then you are by definition a procrastinator.

The stereotype of procrastinators is that they are lazy or undisciplined. This is far from the truth. It’s important to understand that while procrastination may look similar on the surface, the source of all procrastination is not the same.

Procrastination is strongly influenced by your personality type and personal psychology.  Once you understand that, you will understand that the disease has a cure.

1.   You Procrastinate Because You Are Holding Out For Perfection

The Problem: You are the over-thinker. You suffer from paralysis by analysis. You are afraid of making a choice or a decision because it commits you to a course of action. You pontificate until it’s too late because you are waiting for the perfect idea, time, person or whatever. You are waiting in vain. Perfection will never come. There is a time you’ll have to reconcile yourself with that reality and get down to business.

The Solution:  Realize that you are on a thinking luxury cruise and at some point you’ll have to get off the ship. Put a time limit on your pontification. Have a process for weighing up and writing down the pros and cons, the consequences, and even the fears you have. Regarding your fears, develop a “Plan B.” Realize that there is a point at which more information will not lead to a safer decision that protects you from all possible negative outcomes. Now jump in and do it.

2.   You Procrastinate To Avoid Responsibility

The Problem: It’s the old classic. You can’t take ownership because deep down you’re afraid of being blamed. This comes down to a lack of mental maturity. You can be heard covering up your lack of mental maturity by saying ‘Yes, but…’ a lot. Your default is coming up with excuses instead of solutions.

The Solution: Not accepting responsibility all boils down to being passive. Passivity is toxic to a happy and productive life. You have to become active and engaged and that may sometimes mean accepting blame for something you did wrong. It’s not the end of the world. People won’t reject you if you make a mistake. They may, however, reject you when they figure out you have a pattern of not taking responsibility for those mistakes. Start with exchanging your excuses for actions. If they are the wrong actions, learn from them and be better this time. Success is made up of this loop of experimentation. It’s what takes you from point A to B in life.

3.   You Procrastinate Because You’re a People Pleaser

The Problem: You agree in order to fit in. You take on tasks even though you don’t have the time, skill, or expertise. Now you procrastinate for fear of conflict, disapproval or rejection. The contradiction is that over time, your procrastination will lead to conflict, disapproval and rejection.

The Solution: Go inside yourself and find out what your self is afraid of if you allow you to assert yourself. Realize that people will still care about you regardless of the decisions you make or the outcome of your efforts. Help yourself by communicating your concerns (or insecurities or doubts as the situation permits) to win others’ support. Know that it’s okay to make mistakes and that mistakes are learning opportunities.

4.   You Procrastinate Because You’re An Adrenaline Junkie

The Problem: You procrastinate until the stakes are so high that if you don’t produce you’ll be in deep trouble. You need this external stimulation to actually do the work. You are likely not intrinsically motivated or just lack the discipline habit. The excitement and danger is the fuel for your creativity. You feel like you can’t be creative without it.

The Solution: Realize that by taking small bites off the apple does not hamper your creativity, it enhances it. When you give yourself more time because you start earlier and do work in smaller chunks, you leave room to work on details that you might miss when you wait for the last minute and do it all in one big stroke of creative output. Yes, it’s thrilling but the stress you’ve caused yourself leading up to your moment of triumph is slowly eating away at you. All the time you spent fretting about not doing the assignment, could have been spent doing other more productive things that help advance your career or your life.

The Summary

You may exhibit one or several or even all of the above traits. Now that you can better identify and pin point which of these traits is the source of your procrastination, you can begin to surgically work on the cure. Procrastination doesn’t make you more creative. It doesn’t help you please people, it doesn’t help you avoid blame or responsibility and it doesn’t  lead to perfection.  What does all of those things is self-discipline.

Good Luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

This CEO Would Leave His Family Behind In Disneyland For His Job!

The Best Leaders Hire For Emotional Intelligence, Not Just Technical Skills

3 Reasons Why You Should Think (Really) Big!

Trust is the Cornerstone of All Relationships

15 Traits That Demonstrate Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

3 Most Important Deposits for Your Career Bank Account

Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

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Would you leave your family behind at Disneyland for your job?

July  19, 2017 •   3 minute read • by Saeed


I recently came across an NYT article about CEO Don Mal of software firm Vena Solutions who asks new recruits if they would be willing to leave their family at Disneyland to do something that was really important for the company.

The punchline is that he has the expectation that they would say: Yes!!

Mr. Mal, who hires for I.Q. and for a ‘relentless pursuit of numbers,’ does not hire those that say, No. He reasons that those who would not abandon their families for their job do not have the right work ethic and provides an example of his own to illustrate the point.

The fetishization and idealization of a relentless work ethic is nothing new, especially for the Silicon Valley crowd. In our tech obsessed culture, the modern entrepreneur is lauded, hailed, and glamorized. They are the celebrity equivalent of the business world and pop culture celebrates their seemingly infinite powers to reshape our world and make everyone’s lives better (cue the sound of a needle record scratch).

This ideology has become so powerful, it’s had a strong downstream influence on other sectors. But is there a price to be paid for a work culture that not only celebrates burn-out efforts, but damn well requires it?

Research shows there is a direct correlation between a person’s level of happiness, success, financial prosperity, overall wellbeing and the quality of their primary relationships. Most people don’t realize that the quality of their relationships equals the quality of their life!

Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, who directed a 75-year-old study on adult development has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction and validates this finding.

Imagine for a moment lying on your deathbed. What will you be thinking about? I guarantee it will be your primary relationships, not the jobs you held. Did you bring joy to the lives of the people most important to you? Did your existence enrich theirs? Were you a good person? That, after all, is the meaning of life.

What would happen if you allocated more time to the renewal and regeneration of your relationships?

If you imagine your funeral and what your eulogy will consist of, surely it should not be about the time you left your family at the Magic Kingdom.

What do you think?

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

The Best Leaders Hire For Emotional Intelligence, Not Just Technical Skills

3 Reasons Why You Should Think (Really) Big!

Trust is the Cornerstone of All Relationships

15 Traits That Demonstrate Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

3 Most Important Deposits for Your Career Bank Account

Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

The Best Leaders Hire For Emotional Intelligence Not Just Technical Skills

July  12, 2017 •   3 minute read • by Saeed


Silicon Valley is associated with nerd culture stereotyped as socially awkward, tech savvy, sci-fi loving loners who probably don’t rank high on emotional intelligence.

But the stories I have heard about Silicon Valley scions like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg suggest otherwise. In fact, these folks rank high on emotional intelligence and the way they approach candidate interviews proves it.

Jobs famously would conduct interviews by taking a walk around the block with the person being interviewed. The longer the walk went, the more likely it was that Jobs thought the person compelling.  Surely, he was trying to get a sense of the whole person and not just their technical skills.

Musk famously asks candidates one question and listens closely to what they say: “Tell me the story of your life and the decisions that you made along the way and why you made them and also tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on and how you solved them.”

The answer tells him who really knows what they’re doing and who’s grandstanding, and it helps him choose employees who are likely to share his goals and work ethic.

At Facebook, the focus of the interview is on connection just like the mission of the company. So Zuck wants to know: “On your very best day at work – the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world – what did you do that day?”

Obviously, these questions reveal more about the candidate than stale and overused questions with well rehearsed responses such as “what is your greatest weakness?”

What are some of your best interview questions that you’ve asked or that you’ve been asked?