Going with (or against) the wind

sailboat

The wind is a powerful thing. It can destroy or give life; it can hinder or help; it can be harnessed, or not; it can speed up or slow down. Depending upon your purpose or direction, the wind can help or hurt. I used to know a man that always said upon a good-bye, “May the wind always be at your back.” Of course, the inference is that most things in life are better when you are working with the wind, not against it.

Following are a few quotes on the wind that will help me make a few key points later on:

  • “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean
  • “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford
  • “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” – Jim Rohn
  • “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” – Bruce Lee
  • “To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  • “A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind.” – Lewis Mumford

 

So, to me, here are several key points about the wind that can help us at work, at home, or at anything we choose to do:

  1. Going with the wind often makes things better, easier, and faster – We all want the wind at our back when we are faced with a challenge. I have actually been on plane trips that varied 1 or 2 hours because of the winds. Those early arrivals are nice! However, sometimes it is not easy to determine which way the wind is blowing in order to enjoy its benefits. Sometimes we just need to relax and let the wind take us where it will and not fight it. Allowing the wind to do its work may be all you need to get relief from some of the issues you face.
  2. Depending on our purpose, going against the wind is often required – As you can see from several of the quotes above, going against the wind can help us or may be necessary. We cannot always have the wind at our back. In the sailing examples, it is often necessary to go against the wind to achieve your goal. But, you have to know your purpose to take advantage of that wind in your face. Do you need the wind in your face to slow you down or to help guide your journey? Sometimes that wind can actually keep you from moving too fast in one direction, especially when it is the wrong direction. Think about your purpose and whether the winds you face might actually be helping you.
  3. We must choose wisely when to go against the wind – There are times when we need to intentionally place ourselves in a situation going against the wind. For example, when you have an opposing view, you sometimes need to make that view known. We should not always just go along with the crowd. Think about that opposing wind and consider when it is worth the effort and risk to go face first into it. Your view could make all the difference!
  4. Wind can weaken us, but it often makes us stronger – When planting a new, young tree, it is often a good idea to use braces or stakes to keep the wind from blowing it over. However, there is a time when you need to remove the stakes because the wind forces the young tree to grow deeper and stronger roots. The same holds for us. Sometimes those ill winds we face are actually making us stronger and helping us to grow. Don’t dismiss every wind as something to divert or eliminate. Consider how opposition is making you stronger.
  5. We may need to intentionally harness the wind to take advantage of it – Controlling the wind takes effort. Failing to control it, when necessary, can take us far off course or even destroy us. There are times when you need to take steps to reduce the negative impact of the winds you face. You don’t always have to be like a feather in the wind going to and fro as it dictates. Find a way to shield yourself from the wind or establish an anchor to help you withstand it. Often, a friend can help be that shield or anchor.

We should not automatically view wind as a negative in our lives. The winds may blow, but it can work to our advantage or, at the very least, make us stronger. Take a moment to look at the winds currently blowing in your life. Is it helping or hurting you? Are you fighting it or trying to harness it to your advantage? Do you have a family member or friend that you might help anchor against the wind? Today might be a good day to begin looking at wind in a new way.

Thanks for everything you do to make this a better world. Have a really good day today! And, hold onto your hat!

 

Dispelling GXP myths in today’s regulatory environment

fda

This is a very active time in the healthcare regulatory compliance world. A number of new initiatives from FDA are underway at a time when industry is working to balance compliance with cost control, drug shortages, consolidation, and new technology. As a result, there are some that might feel that FDA (and other global regulatory entities) might be relaxing or allowing more flexibility in their enforcement efforts. Today, we take a look at several of these notions or myths that might prevent us from thoroughly and completely fulfilling our duties to comply with current requirements. So, let’s look at some of these GXP myths and discuss what we need to do to keep from falling into the trap of nonchalance:

  1. Myth #1: The end justifies the means – Certainly, in this day and age, GXP practitioners do not believe that we can violate specific GXP requirements, provided the final product meets specifications. However, there are subtleties that can crop up. For example, the thought that as long as we document a GXP discrepancy, complete an investigation, and get QA approval, we can overcome any manufacturing issue is false! FDA investigators have every right to ask us how these GXP discrepancies impact our validation for that product/process, what impact it might have on our filed Drug Master File process, or evaluate any additional validation we might have conducted to ensure the discrepancy had no adverse impact. In short, we cannot assume that a thorough and complete investigation report is enough to justify excursions from approved processes.
  2. Myth #2: FDA does not connect the dots – In companies with multiple locations and some product portfolio complexities, it is tempting to think that our response to GXP compliance can be limited to each locality. In other words, as long as we comply in our location, we don’t have to worry about what happens at other sites. Not true! FDA has become more sophisticated regarding “global” compliance. They now have increased ability to monitor issues to determine if we have company-wide systemic issues. They cross-check performance issues at one location with similar issues at other locations. Many Warning Letters in recent years reference compliance concerns at multiple issues. Sites receiving inspections are often asked about approaches to compliance concerns noted at other sites in the same company. I have colleagues at other companies that are frequently challenged for issues at other firms FDA now considers “current” compliance expectations.
  3. Myth #3: Relationships and trust don’t really matter to FDA – FDA is in the business of protecting the consuming public. Safety is the bottom line. So, when dealing with manufacturers, FDA has a limited time to assess operations to answer the question, “Is the firm complying with GXP to the extent that has been inspected and do I have confidence that they comply in areas I have not inspected?” Thus, in addition to assessing what and how we do what we do, they also try to determine whether they can trust our employees to do the right thing. If they feel they can trust us to do the right thing, it enhances the confidence they have in us and what we do. I was once at a company that the FDA District Compliance Director said, “Because I know you as individuals and trust that you will address these issues, we will not pursue a Warning Letter.” In other words, the trust they had developed through our relationship allowed them some discretion in the compliance action they took. So, relationships and trust in people do matter!
  4. Myth #4: We can hide our problems from FDA – FDA investigators are somewhat predictable. We tend to learn, over time, what they will examine, how much time they will spend, and what activities will not receive attention. However, as FDA investigators become more sophisticated and more data-driven, we can be sure that they will find our vulnerabilities. In addition, the laws and regulations have changed over recent years to allow FDA investigators access to more of our operations than ever before. They now have access to nearly everything we do. So, we cannot assume any more that dirty laundry will remain hidden.
  5. Myth #5: Our strong record of compliance will cover us in the future – Though relationships are important, we can no longer rely heavily on a track record of compliance. Yes, a history of compliance is possibly the greatest predictor of future inspection success. But, the FDA has demonstrated in the past year or so that they will hit hard, when needed, regardless of your reputation or history. A number of firms have recently experience their first compliance issues in years, showing that FDA is willing to look at each inspectional result as a fresh, single data point.
  6. Myth #6: FDA will never look at developmental data or early studies – FDA now has greater regulatory power to examine data than ever before. And, now, they appears to view developmental data in light of potential data integrity concerns. They have shown that, in order to verify regulatory submission data, they will go back much further to evaluate early data. Thus, we have to be even more rigorous to ensure that all developmental data, including for early studies, is well documented and inspection-ready.
  7. Myth #7: FDA cares more about science than compliance – Despite frequent FDA speeches touting the agency’s interest in science-based compliance, they still default to the details of regulatory compliance. In other words, science will not trump compliance for nearly any compliance/inspection situation. So, we cannot feel that a solid scientific argument will overcome a clear regulatory non-compliance.
  8. Myth #8: Electronic data are completely trustworthy – There is a tendency to think, “As long as our data are generated and archived electronically, FDA will accept it and have no compliance concerns.” Wrong! A very high percentage of Warning Letters recently have cited issues with data integrity of electronic systems. We simply cannot make assumptions about the integrity of electronic data short of a executing a comprehensive compliance plan.
  9. Myth #9: If we don’t know about a problem, FDA will give us a pass – Ignorance is not excuse for non-compliance with GXPs. In fact, even senior management is liable for GXP issues whether or not they have been informed directly of the issue. Therefore, we must all ensure that we know the regulations, we know whether we have gaps, and that we have plans and actions in place to remediate those gaps.
  10. Myth #10: FDA does not care about product costs or cost of poor quality – This one might be a bit tricky. FDA does NOT care about what is costs to comply with GXP regulations. We cannot say that it costs too much to do what is needed to produce safe and effective products. However, FDA is interested in cost of poor quality in that it can often be an indicator of poor systems or poor execution. If they find that our cost of poor quality is higher than they see at other firms, they may dig deeper to determine why. FDA is also concerned about ensure a continuous supply of medically necessary products. If we pose a risk of have a supply shortage that could impact patients, FDA is very concerned. In fact, we must communicate to FDA when there is a possibility of a drug shortage. So, in effect, FDA is concerned about product costs to the extent that we must maintain an adequate supply to patients that depend upon our products.

 

So, hopefully, a review of these myths may help those of you dealing with GXP compliance every day and give you something new to consider as you work to balance company needs, patient requirements, and regulatory compliance.

Thanks for all you do for our patients. Have a tremendous and productively compliant day!

 

So, you’ve had a tough break…

gehrig

It is tempting to think that we don’t seem to get the breaks in life or at work that we deserve. It may seem that someone less deserving always gets the good assignment, the promotion, the title, the office, the “good stuff.” Or, you may feel that things just don’t seem to go your way. Well, friends of mine have good friends experiencing a truly “tough break.” This husband of this couple recently died from ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease). It is a devastating disease that usually strikes individuals in the prime of their lives. It essentially causes all muscle function to dissipate, though the patient retains all mental capacity. Sufferers experience their bodies slowly losing all ability to function. The wife of this couple previously lost her first husband to death. And, we think we have had a “tough break.”

You may not know much about Lou Gehrig. He is considered one of the greatest baseball players in history. He held the major league record for most consecutive games played in his time and is a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame. He was stricken with ALS during his baseball prime. At his retirement celebration in Yankee Stadium in New York, he gave the following speech:

 

Lou Gehrig’s Farewell Speech on July 4, 1939

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.”

“Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.”

“When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.”

“So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”

Lou Gehrig is a true hero. He showed us that tough breaks are what we make them. He showed us how to deal with tough breaks with grace and thankfulness. He showed us that, regardless of what challenges we currently face, we have “an awful lot to live for.” Is there something in your life today that might represent a tough break? Can you take a cue from Gehrig and his attitude for handling it?

I truly hope that your life is happy and full. Have a wonderful day and let’s be thankful for the good that we experience today!

 

 

 

What would I do if I received a disappointing year-end review?

happy sad

Today, we look at the next in our mini-series of items titled, “What would I do if…”  It’s that time of year… year-end performance review time. Typically, half or more of all individuals have some level of disappointment resulting from these discussions. It seems that most of us feel that our toils and labors are often overlooked and not recognized, but that final assessment is the chance to make up for it. We hope that our final review will recognize all the extra effort, extra time, and extra personal sacrifice that went into a successful year. However, in most companies, those highest ratings are reserved for those that “had career years” or “significantly moved the needle” or “that accomplished much more than anyone thought possible.” As a result, many are disappointed by these discussions. I have been there myself. I recall several times over my approximately 40 year-end reviews that I felt my boss failed to consider everything I did, or missed those items out of my control, or simply gave the benefit of doubt in the wrong direction. So, I know how it feels to walk away with some disappointment.

When you do feel disappointment from a year-end performance review, what do you do next? Is it appropriate to pose a counter-argument to the points made? Do I despair or re-energize my efforts? What are the best steps to take following that frustrating discussion. Well, you’ll see 7 suggestions below that you should consider to turn that disappointing review into something positive. Let’s take a look to see if you agree:

  1. Be objective and reflect on what you heard – Your first reaction after a disappointing review must be to quietly reflect on what you heard. Do not overreact! Do not engage with others until you have had a chance to be objective about what you heard. Was the feedback appropriate? Are there legitimate opportunities for improvement? Could you have done things better or differently? Could you have presented your case in a more positive way? What take-aways will you begin addressing today? Take the time to understand what was said and why. Can you put yourself in your boss’ position to see things from his/her viewpoint? Once you have reflected and objectively heard what was said, you are ready to turn this into something positive.
  2. Stay positive – Do not allow disappointing news to throw you into a loop or despair. No matter how bad the news, you can turn it around. The true test of your character is how you handle adversity. This is the time to dig deep and allow this to springboard you into a more positive future. In the meantime, do NOT throw anyone under the bus or involve others negatively while you formulate your next steps.
  3. Follow-up discussions with your boss are appropriate – A key part of turning disappointment into celebration is to create a plan and ensure buy-in from your leadership team. It would be appropriate to have a follow-up discussion with your boss 2 – 4 weeks after the final year-end review. At that discussion, you should begin with something like, “I have had some time to reflect on our year-end discussion. I would like to share with you my learnings from that discussion and my plans for making this new year our best yet.” Then, lay out the initial draft of key initiatives and plans for the new year. Allow this to be a collaborative discussion with input from your boss. The goal is to demonstrate that you heard what was said, you have taken the feedback seriously, and you have developed a plan to have a different outcome this year. Once a plan is agreed, suggest quarterly updates to monitor progress. It is acceptable to ask at this initial meeting, “If we can accomplish what has been outlined, do you feel that I would be on track for a more positive year-end result this year?” The answer will help motivate and guide your activities for the year.
  4. Consider what developmental activities you should undertake in the coming new year – Use the year-end feedback you received to enhance your own capabilities. This is the time to formulate plans to add new skills, refine old ones, or gain experience that can help advance your career and performance. Don’t wait until too late in the year to initiate these activities.
  5. Re-visit your primary objectives and plans for the coming year – With feedback from your year-end review AND your initial follow-up discussion, you should be able to better articulate exactly what you plan to accomplish in the new year. Refine your objectives to be more specific, more value-focused, and work toward having that “needle moving year.”
  6. Get better organized for making a strong personal case for next year – Begin early in the year to organize your work life in a way that ensures you can provide a better picture of what was accomplished. Create a system to retain/file positive feedback you receive. Capture those “off the plan” projects that might not have been anticipated. Be sure you include all your contributions in your self-assessment or year-end discussion in the next year. Now is the time to organize to ensure these do not fall through the cracks.
  7. Plan specific activities to distinguish your performance in the coming year – Finally, energize yourself to ensure that you do what you say you’ll do. Don’t fail to achieve your objectives! Don’t fail to be outstanding! If you hope to present your year as a break-out year, ensure that it is! Accomplishing a great year may require extraordinary effort or extraordinary organization. Plan now to be great!

If you do these things, your chances of a more positive year-end review next year are markedly improved! Using this year’s performance review to inspire specific and intentional action for the coming year can turn a disappointing discussion into years of more productive and rewarding performance. As with any other disappointment in life, don’t dwell on the negative because that simply multiplies the disappointment. In other words, when kicked in the fanny, pick yourself up and decide to never allow that to occur again. Be proactive, be intentional, and be focused and you’ll have a much more engaging and productive conversation in future year-end reviews.

Thanks for making a difference to others. Have a splendid day!

 

 

Go ahead, be a dreamer

IMG_2021

Is it OK to dream? I mean, really, should we take time to dream about what we hope to achieve, where we hope to go, what we envision we’ll be doing in 5 years, etc.? Or, is it better that we just focus on what is ahead of us today? George Carlin, the comedian, had this to say about dreaming:

“Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.” – George Carlin

So, is Carlin right? Should we leave the dreaming to someone with fewer things on their “to do” list?

Personally, I have always been a dreamer of sorts. I cannot visit the Missouri Botanical Garden without coming home with ideas on how to convert our boring backyard into a tourist attraction. I’m always cooking up fantastic adventures with our grandchildren that involve treehouses, fording rivers, or riding exotic animals. However, I usually return quickly to reality when I start formulating the “how to” plan. So, is it good to be a dreamer? Is there any value with having that sense of wonder, adventure, and imagination that typifies many dreamers? Well, yes, of course, being a dreamer is good. Whether you are in a corporate or work setting or just being a member of a vibrant family, dreaming can be beneficial. Let’s look at a few reasons we should ALL be dreamers:

  1. Dreamers think out-of-the-box – Most dreamers hate to be confined with the dogma of “we’ve always done it that way.” In fact, dreamers often want to do things different “just because.” If you need unique approaches or thinking that breaks the rules of convention, bring a dreamer to the table. Have that ability to see things that others cannot or choose not to see is highly valuable when approaching problems, working to improve something, or just desiring to try something new.
  2. Dreamers aren’t satisfied with the status quo – A dreamer thrives on change. The status quo is not a place most dreamers hope to be. They intentionally look for ways to do things differently in ways that make things better, faster, cheaper, or more convenient.
  3. Dreamers add a spice to life – Dreamers are usually the “fun” people in any crowd. They are continually seeking ways to make things more enjoyable, more productive, or more collaborative.
  4. Dreamers inflict a sense of adventure (e.g., risk-taking) – Dreamers are not afraid to take a reasoned risk. Their desire to get out of the normal rut of life takes them to places where some risks may be encountered that others find uncomfortable. Dreamers have a sense of living life fully and, thus, seek new and different pathways.
  5. Dreamers are often excellent leaders – Because dreamers can see things others may not, they tend to be excellent leaders. After all, a key attribute of a leader is to create a vision of a future desired state. Dreamers are not constrained by the dogma of convention, history, or expectations and can often create a vision that drives greater results.
  6. Dreamers expand the horizons of others – Dreamers help others grow. They help others think differently and with fewer limitations. They expand possibilities and free the thinking process.
  7. Dreamers can take you where others dare not go – In short, dreamers can take you where others may not be capable of taking you. They can accomplish things others cannot imagine. They are creative and innovative in ways that move us all forward.

However, there are risks with dreamers that must be mitigated. You cannot just be a dreamer at the expense of everything else. There are some things you must remember when either dealing with a dreamer or things dreamers must do to ensure they remain effective:

  1. Being a dreamer is not an excuse to accomplish what is needed – There are times to dream and times to get things done. We must fulfill our responsibilities and the expectations others place on us. We cannot allow our dreams to derail the job at hand. Dreaming is a privilege that must be balanced with responsibilities.
  2. Not every dream of a dreamer is practical or can be implemented – As you might have guessed, my backyard does not look like the Missouri Botanical Garden. Dreamers must realize that not everything is practical or even wanted or needed.
  3. Dreaming must be balanced with pragmatism – A team consisting of all dreamers is a team destined to fail. So, it is imperative that we ensure an appropriate balance of dreamers with pragmatists.

 

So, go ahead, be a dreamer. But, be sure you don’t allow that to be an excuse to sit on the sidelines when there is work to do. Offer your thoughts, be opinionated, but be reasonable. Be open, but be practical. It is OK to dream… after all, we might still be using a large, clunky telephone in a bag without the dreamers of the past.

To all the current and wannabe dreamers in the crowd, thank you! Have a great and productive day!

 

 

The role of harmony in team or family success

harmony

I remember my days in Junior High choir (no, I wasn’t any good) first trying to learn to sing harmony. The choir director would patiently try to help us stay on track, but often appeared frustrated at her lack of progress, especially with the guys. Though it seems easy, harmonizing is not what it seems. You might think that once you learn the words and music, you’re all set. Not true! There is much more to singing harmony than meets the eye (that is, ear).   To sing harmony well, you must:

  1. Learn your own words and music (e.g., you need to know your own job) – the first and foremost requirement for a harmonious team is that every member know their job and do it well. If anyone fails to hold up their end of the bargain, the others simply cannot always make it up. Before you focus on others and the work they do, ensure that you are doing your own job well first.
  2. Learn to listen closely to those on either side of you (e.g., communicate with your team) – a critical requirement for harmony in music is that you listen closely with those around you. You have to hear and feel how you are blending in with the others. You cannot simply do your own thing without regard for your teammates. Learning to listen is a critical skill in harmony.
  3. Learn to blend with others around you (e.g., combine your efforts with those on your team) – not only must we listen to our neighbors and teammates, but we must blend with them. We must not sing too loudly or too softly. The rule of thumb is that unless you can hear your neighbor, you are singing too loudly. That holds for teams, as well. Unless you can sense that your efforts are blending, not over- or under-shadowing others, you cannot achieve harmony.
  4. Learn to follow the leader for direction (e.g., follow well to achieve the best overall result) – doing everything else, but failing to follow your leader can still doom harmony. To sing harmony, you must follow the direction of the director/leader. Failing to do so, will result in disharmony.

When done well, harmony can be beautiful. When done poorly, the attempt at harmony is painful (my Jr. High School experience). It works the same in a work team or in a family. When the members know and do their part, listen to those around them, blend for the best result, and work for the common goal or good, great things are possible. When individuals fail at any one of these, harmony is not achieved. But, when it works well, it might even sound/appear as terrific as it is here in these two examples:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH0U4m1rJLk

or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8-Iuk-Su9Q

Thanks for all you do! Let’s have a terrific day today!

 

What would I do if I was feeling discouraged about work?

bear

Today, we look at the next in our mini-series of items titled, “What would I do if…” Hopefully, you will find this a topic that helps you address the issue of discouragement. We all occasionally feel that our career isn’t going where we hoped and that we need to do something different. That feeling that our work or our time is not adding value seems to crop up a few times during our career. And, when it does, it can affect our work performance, our home life, and it can impact those around us.

So, how do you deal with those periods of discouragement? What keeps you coming in when it seems that nothing is going right and you simply cannot see light at the end of the tunnel? It really doesn’t matter how or why we get these feelings. The fact is that we need to deal with it quickly before it impacts us or others. Here are three things that I have found that helps me shake discouragement:

 

  1. Keep things in perspective – One of the questions I often ask, “Will this matter a year from now?” Or, “In the overall scheme of things, how are things really going?” When you look around you, you can probably see that, despite your current frustrations, you have much to be thankful for. Many aren’t so fortunate. If you have a job (even if it is frustrating), your health, and individuals that love you, you are blessed. Keeping all of this in proper perspective can shift your attitude.
  2. Take inventory of the value we are adding – It is difficult to see the difference you are making one day to the next. For that reason, it is important at some frequency to step back and see from a longer horizon the difference you are making. Over the course of a few months or year, you are making a difference. You are moving things forward. Don’t believe the lie that you make no difference!
  3. Seek an opportunity to serve someone else – I have personally found that during those times when I feel most discouraged, it is because my focus is too much on myself. When I spend too much time looking at my own situation or frustrations, it tends to drag me into the realm of discouragement, at times. So, in the times when I am most focused on my own shortfalls or frustrations, turning my attention away from myself to others is the quickest way to dig out of the discouragement pit. I am reminded of a quote by Tim Russert (former host of NBC’s Meet the Press and author of several bestselling books):

“The best exercise for the human heart is reaching down to lift someone else up.” – Tim Russert

By seeking an opportunity to serve someone else, you actually encourage your own heart. You automatically encourage yourself when you encourage someone else. This has worked for me time-after-time in my lifetime. When you focus your attention on serving someone else, you, by definition, lessen the focus on yourself… thus, on your own despair.

Don’t think that you are different or bad or wrong because you have those periods of discouragement. But, don’t stay there! Do something to shift your attention to something more positive or to serving others. And, don’t forget that when you are able to encourage others, you naturally become more encouraged yourself. Give it a try!

Have a terrific day! This just might be that “best day” you’ve been anticipating. You just never know when that day will occur.

 

 

 

Restoring shattered confidence

shattered-glass

We have probably all been there. We have just taken a new job or new role thinking pretty highly of our abilities and skills. But soon, we start wondering if you really are capable. Your confidence begins slipping. Pretty soon, you start wondering if you are even the right person at all to do this job. Shattered confidence can be disastrous unless we stop it from overtaking us. If we let the confidence spiral take us all the way down, it may be impossible to even recover.

The process for shattered confidence follows these five stages:

  1. Stage 1 – Top of the world! – I must be pretty good. After all, I was selected to do this job over everyone else in the world. My superior background, experience, and charming personality won the day. There is no doubt I have a great future in this job and with this company. I’ll probably be promoted (again) in a few months or couple years at the most. In a way, these guys are lucky to have me. OK, now I need to go make a positive difference with this responsibility.
  2. Stage 2 – Doubts creep in – Yes, I probably could have done a better job with that project. I deserved the criticism I received. I wondered why my boss has seemed to avoid me lately. Oh, well, I can still get the job done… I think. I just need to pick myself up and get going. I think I’ll get started after lunch. No big rush. I’m OK… I’ll just keep saying that until I believe it.
  3. Stage 3 – I’m not really that good – Well, I’ve done it again… I messed up. I think my boss is right, I’m not that good at this job. In fact, I’m probably over my head. I wonder why they even selected me. I’ll try to make the best of this situation, but I need to just keep my head down and try to not cause any more damage. I’m not sure I can even salvage this situation, so I’ll try to just stay out of the way.
  4. Stage 4 – Actually, I’m pretty pitiful – I just need to realize and admit that I am terrible at this job! I am probably causing more harm than good at this point. I can’t seem to do anything right. No one trusts me, including myself. Why did I ever think I could do a job like this. I probably just need to step back and get a role that doesn’t require any special skills or abilities. Bottom line… I’m pitiful!
  5. Stage 5 – Why do they even keep me? – I just might be the worst person in history that has ever tried to do this job! There is no way I should have any important responsibilities in this job or, frankly, in any other job. I am worthless and should think about trying a totally different career path. This company would be doing everyone a favor by just cutting me loose.

I sincerely hope that everyone reading this finds themselves in Stage 1. However, there could be a few of you starting that slide of diminished confidence. What steps can you take to either stop that slide or to restore your confidence back to Stage 1? Let’s take a look at a few suggestions:

  1. Refresh your memory – Go back and review your resume. Remember why you were selected for this job. Consider again the skills, education, and ability your brought to this job. Recall what you were told when the job offer was made. Think about why you were the best choice and how you felt the day you said yes. There was a day that you were truly the best person for the role you have. Put yourself back to that day and refresh your approach.
  2. List your accomplishments – Think about everything positive you have accomplished in the past. Take out a piece of paper and list your accomplishments over the past few years of your career. Really, write them down. Think about those things that moved the needle or things that made a difference in your past. When you do this, you’ll see that you do have strong capabilities. You’ll see that you have been very successful in the past and, thus, there is no reason you cannot be successful in the future. Recall those individuals that have been impacted by your efforts. Consider the difference you have made for others. Include all these on your list. You might even keep this list and add to it from time-to-time. Reviewing this list can help reset your attitude about your own abilities.
  3. Seek input from trusted colleagues – Getting feedback from trusted colleagues is a gift. Having someone that can help you discern perception from reality is extremely valuable when restoring your confidence. You don’t want someone to simply “tickle your ears”, but you need the truth. Having a colleague help answer this question can be enlightening, “Are you making contributions and value?” Ask for help and ask for the truth. Then, be prepared to treat this feedback as the gift that it is.
  4. Be objective – Take a step back and look at your performance and contributions from your boss’ perspective. How would you rate your own performance if your view was the only one that counted? Use the truth to push yourself back up to Stage 1.
  5. Adjust your body language – As trivial as it may seem, a simple adjustment of your body language can make a difference in your confidence. By raising your head and adjusting the posture of your shoulders, you immediately get a more positive sense. Dressing more professionally can often accomplish the same. By adjusting your body language, you often adjust your attitude.
  6. Learn a new skill – Whenever you find yourself slipping in confidence, it may be time to learn a new skill. When you add to your own portfolio of skills, you can upgrade your own overall confidence.
  7. Teach someone else a skill – Likewise, finding someone else that you can teach or mentor can enhance your confidence. Passing it on is a great way to refresh your confidence.
  8. Boldly go forward – Be bold! Have courage! Individuals often find themselves slipping into Stage 4 or 5 because they become timid. It is a vicious cycle when we become less bold concurrently with becoming less confident. Enhancing our courage and subsequent boldness is a great way to break the spiral into despair.

The most important this about confidence is realizing when it has begun to slip. If you see yourself falling into Stage 2 or 3 or below, using the steps above to break that cycle is the best way to restoring your confidence.

Have a confident, wonderful, productive day! Hold your head up and accomplish something today that you thought was impossible. Make a difference for someone else. This could be your best day yet!

Two essential questions

two-essential-questions

I recently watched the movie Bucket List. It is an enjoyable look at how two unlikely friends spend their last few months. There is one scene in the movie in which one of the men described the ancient Egyptian belief that upon death, two questions would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife. These questions were:

  1. Did you bring joy to others?
  2. Did you find joy?

I think these two questions are pertinent to us today as well. Our answers to these questions can determine our attitude, our productivity, our happiness, our fulfillment, our satisfaction, and our perseverance. It can determine how we perform with our team, our relationship with our family, and whether we are a giver or taker. Our answers can mean the difference between a life with purpose and one without. So, let’s explore each of these a bit more today.

  • Did you bring joy to others?    Our purpose (in a family, on a team, or anywhere else) simply cannot be to satisfy our own needs and desires. Narcissism (e.g., a complete focus on self) is one of the most prevalent problems plaguing our society today. Living in a way that places everything and everyone below yourself on the priority list will not bring joy to others. Living intentionally to make a positive difference to others is that way to bring joy. Placing others above self means you focus on the happiness and joy of others foremost. So, what is the very best way to bring joy to someone else? I think the answer is simply to give yourself to others. By giving time to others, you demonstrate that you care and that you value them. By being present physically or through other means, you demonstrate that you are willing to give perhaps your most important possession (that is, TIME) to that person. By giving of yourself to benefit another, you most assuredly bring joy to that person. So, the real question is, “Did you give yourself to others in a way that demonstrated that you care for them; that you value them; that you love them?” This question is pertinent in a family, as a leader, as a friend, as a coworker, as a neighbor, and, simply, as a human being that cares for others.

 

  • Did you find joy?    And, perhaps just as importantly, are we living in a way that brings joy to our own lives? Personally, I believe that joy is not a single event or collection of events, but a base level present in all of us. It is like a cup of terrific coffee. Some have a full cup, while others have only a bit in the bottom of the cup. Then, we might add flavorings, sugar, etc. to perk even that up. Our joy is how much of that terrific coffee we have in our cup. Those other highlights in our life are like the extras we add. So, the question is whether we have a cup that is full of joy or one that barely has a drop at the bottom of the cup. Does your life percolate with that sense of satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment, and collection of people that make you smile? It is tempting to be so caught up in the flurry of life (work, scheduled events, school, calendar, etc.) that we fail to stop and “fill our cup.” And, the other beautiful thing about our “cup of joy” is that it can be filled. Just because it may not be full today doesn’t mean that we can’t fill it up. We can add joy to our lives, but it might take some changes in our lives that allow it.

 

A person with a full cup is better equipped to bring joy to others, as well. One benefits the others. So, the challenge to you today is how would you honestly answer these two questions? At this point in your life, are you consistently bringing joy to others? And, is your cup full? If the answer to either question is “no”, then, what are you going to do about it? The next step is yours.

Have a fabulous day! And, thanks for bring joy to my life.

Avoiding Rigamarology

unnecessary-steps

Today’s edition of The Porch is an update from a post from many months ago when many of you were not yet regular readers.  So, it is likely this is new for most of you.  Anyway, we look today at identifying and eliminating waste of all kinds (e.g., rigamarole).

First of all, let’s take a look at some definitions around the study of rigamarology:

  1. Rigamarole = a long, complicated, and annoying process; confused or meaningless talk; a complex and sometimes ritualistic procedure (yes, this is in the dictionary, look it up!)
  2. Rigamarology = the study or dedication to rigamarole
  3. Rigamarotocol = documented set of meaningless activities or non-value added steps

Growing up, I often heard my father use the term “rigamarole.”  I came to understand that this meant meaningless steps or activities.  As you see from the definitions above, rigamarole describes perfectly what we attempt to eliminate when we pursue continuous improvement, whether at work or in our lives.  A key element of continuous improvement is to identify and eliminate waste in all its forms.  We also attempt to simplify existing steps and activities that no longer add value.

So, why do we put up with rigamarole in our lives?  It could be that it is easier to continue doing what is wrong than taking the effort to make it right.  Or, it could be that we just have not stopped to intentionally consider how things could be better.  Or, it could be that we actually invented the rigamarole that plagues us.  For whatever reason, why continue allowing our lives to be complexified (yes, another new word for today) for no good reason or for no added value?

My challenge to you is this….

Begin asking yourself these questions, “What value is being added by this step or activity or report or meeting?  How will the company or my life be better as a result of this?  Would our customers or patients pay extra for this?”  When you catch yourself asking these questions and providing an honest answer, you will be amazed at how many non-value added activities (e.g., rigamarole) you encounter in a day.   A key element of our future success as individuals or an organization is helping to drive out these non-value added activities.  We must help our organization avoid a dedication to rigamarole and eliminate clutter in our lives.

If you could eliminate one item of rigamarole today, what would it be?  Now, put your thoughts to action and go do it!  Have a great day!