Effectiveness

The Real Key to Success

Image of cartoon people and a key

Being able to attain your personal definition of success requires many things. When asked, many people cite perseverance as being a key success factor. While perseverance is important, there is something even more vital.

More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. Resilience is a cousin of perseverance.

A person can increase his or her level of resilience, and thereby increase their chances of success, by developing mental and physical habits that foster a positive mental state.

How to Develop Your Resilience and Attain Success

A body of data, including studies of identical twins, suggests that certain personal characteristics that foster resilience may be at least partly … >>>

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Both Internal and External Motivation are Part of Life

Image of street signs saying Internal and External

When it comes to motivation, many people believe that internal motivation is the only one that’s important. That’s not necessarily true. Both types help us live our life to the fullest.

The Levels of Development highlights both internal and external motivation. And it’s important to realize that we live our lives on all levels of the Hierarchy of Social Development.

Rich Lowry, in his book “Lincoln Unbound” (2013), states that some people convinced Lincoln to run for the Illinois state legislature in 1832. He was just 23 at the time. This was certainly external motivation. I had similar experiences when a colleague suggested I become a high school principal. (At the time, I already had served as a high school … >>>

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The Benefits of Using Positive Words

Image of a brain with happy faces inside

Using positive words may be the most successful approach to reduce stress and increase your effectiveness. The reason is that this type of vocabulary empowers AND feels good.

Compare each in the following examples:

“I HAVE to go” versus “I GET to go.”

“I have no choice” versus “I am choosing to …”

“No!” versus “Not yet.”

“I only have two choices” versus “I have two choices.”

“I have a DEADLINE” versus “I have a DUE date.”

(The former connotes DEATH while the latter connotes BIRTH.)

We now know scientifically that what Henry Ford stated was accurate: “If you think you can, you can; if you think you can’t, you can’t. Either way you are right.” The words you use … >>>

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Understanding Internal Motivation and Feelings

image of a man with emotion symbols

Very often, people don’t fully understand why they do or think things. Are thoughts, feelings, and actions driven by internal motivation or external motivation?

Let’s look at feelings and how internal and external factors affect them. Most people have a hard time untangling the sources of various positive and negative feelings and are prone to misunderstand their causes. In a classic demonstration of this, the current day’s weather affected how people being interviewed rated how well their entire life had been up to that point. They were more likely to characterize their whole existence as sunny when the weather was nice. Conscious awareness of this reaction, however, brought about an immediate change. When the interviewers called attention to the weather … >>>

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Ask for Help to Reduce Stress

Image of a hand holding a sign for help

Do you ask for help? Many people rarely do, even when they need it the most. Why is it so hard to ask others to help us? Some people’s ego deprives them of the benefit that comes from asking for help. We see this in the stereotype of men not asking for directions when they’re lost, assuming the car has no global positioning service (GPS).

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it’s a way to display strength and a way to elicit collaboration. In fact, one of the most powerful phrases in all of life is “I wonder if you could help me with something.” This phrase breaks down barriers and enables anyone to easily ask … >>>

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Increase Your Positive Self-Talk

A prime goal of my approach is to increase people’s positive self-talk. I believe in the importance of positive self-talk so much that I’ve devoted pages to this topic in each of my books.

Researchers have acknowledged that in order to know yourself, you have to talk to yourself. They have studied children’s private speech for decades, but only recently have researchers focused on self-talk in adults. We use inner speech or self-talk for all sorts of things. We depend on it to solve problems, read and write, motivate ourselves, plan for the future, learn from our mistakes, learn language, and help regulate emotions.

Beyond helping people regulate their behavior in the present moment, positive self-talk is essential for learning … >>>

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Eliminate the Stress of Public Speaking

Image of a woman presenting in a business meeting

Many people fear public speaking. This tip will show you how to turn this stress into confidence.

Standing in front of a group to present can be very scary. Symptoms include dry mouth, weakness, memory loss, upset stomach, cold sweat, and tight throat muscles. Sound familiar? All of these are quite natural physical sensations when a person is frightened. Depending on the situation and how the person is responding to it, there may be just a little apprehension or there may be a full-blown panic.

Here is a very simple, proven, three-step process for overcoming your fear of public speaking. By following these steps, you can make speaking in front of groups a positive experience.

Step one:

Think for a … >>>

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Beware of the Herd Mentality

Image of a herd of sheep walking down a country road.

We’ve all succumbed to herd mentality at one time or another. Whether it’s watching the latest blockbuster hit even though that genre rarely interests you, buying the newest phone even though your current one woks fine, or even voting a certain way because polls put a certain candidate in the lead anyway, herd mentality can be seen every day.

In short, herd mentality describes the process of people behaving or acting like those around them—often ignoring their own feelings in the process. Think of it like sheep blindly following the flock no matter where they go just because that’s what the herd is doing.

While herd mentality can protect us in some cases, such as fleeing a burning building, other … >>>

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A Time Management Strategy to Reduce Stress

Image of a person holding a clock in each hand. There is a checklist of tasks behind each clock.

When it comes to time management, knowing the difference between what is urgent versus what is important is essential. Why? Because there is a marked difference between what is urgent and what is important. If you focus on the wrong one, or if you are continually diverting your attention between the two, chances are that your stress level will rise.

Think of it this way: An urgent task may not be very important in the long run; however, an urgent task may demand immediate attention. In contrast to something urgent, an important task is something that moves you toward your goal. Where do you think you should focus your attention for optimal time management and lower stress?

Before you answer … >>>

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Student Awards and Rewards: What Works and What Doesn’t

Image of a gold trophy.

I often say that doling out student awards and rewards is counterproductive. However, I must also say that I don’t condemn ALL student awards and rewards. Allow me to explain.

As a former instructional coordinator, I have come to the conclusion that awards ceremonies are counterproductive for LEARNING—especially when so many young people never find themselves in the winner’s circle and would therefore prefer to drop out rather than compete.

When it comes to learning, collaboration is much more effective. When people collaborate, they do not compete.

However, as a former high school athletic coordinator, I do believe in award ceremonies for athletics and other competitive activities such as spelling bees, high school band competitions, and academic decathlons THAT ARE … >>>

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What Influence Are You Spreading?

Image of a mother working on a computer and her daughter imitating her.

You are influencing others every day, whether you realize it or not. Some of the most important people you influence are children. Your children and students see and hear everything you do, and it shapes their outlook on the world. What influence are you spreading to the youth of today?

Consider this true story:

Charles Adams was the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain during the Lincoln Administration. He always kept a journal and taught his son, Brooks, to keep a daily journal as well.

When Brooks Adams was eight years old, he wrote in his diary: “Went fishing with my father, the most glorious day of my life.” During the next 40 years, Brooks referred to that day in his … >>>

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Feeling Stressed? Change Your Perception

Image of a dark gray background with a door in the middle. The door is opening to a peaceful sunny day to illustrate a change in perception.

How many times have you blamed an event or person for your negative reaction? If you’re like most people, it has happened often. Everything from traffic jams, to comments made by others, to sudden changes of plans can make people upset. But what if I told you that these events, no matter how bad you think they are, are not the cause of your stress?

Epictetus (A.D. 55-135) wrote: “It is not the event itself that is the problem; it is the perception of that event.” In other words, the things that happen to us aren’t problems; rather, it is our reaction to the events that determine whether we feel stress or not. This bit of information has made one … >>>

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How to Relax During Stressful Situations

Image of a brain wearing sunglasses sitting in a beach chair on a beach relaxing

Trying to relax during a stressful situation can be a challenge. After all, it’s hard to relax when your mind is racing and when events are stressing you out. If you find taking a break to relax difficult when the pressure is on, consider the following approach.

During the last days of World War II, someone commented to President Harry Truman that he appeared to bear up under the stress and strain of the presidency better than any previous president, that the job did not appear to have aged him or sap his vitality, and that this was remarkable—especially in view of the many problems which he faced as a wartime president.

His response was, “I have a foxhole in … >>>

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Ask Questions to Take Control

Ask questions

If you want to have more control in situations and conversations, try asking more questions. One of the key ideas I suggest people write down during my seminars is this: “The person who asks the question controls the conversation or the situation.”

Let me demonstrate how this works. You walk into a store and the salesperson asks, “How are you today?” Isn’t there a natural tendency to answer?

Here is another situation. A friend with whom you are talking suddenly asks you a question. Do you stop and answer the question or do you continue with your monologue? Chances are you stop and answer the friend’s question.

If you want to discipline a student or child, control the situation by … >>>

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Celebrate the Differences

Cracked Pot

I’ve long asserted that we should celebrate the differences in people rather than pose them in a negative light. Unfortunately, many people see their differences as flaws, and they view their diversity in a negative way. But in reality, our differences are not flaws; rather, they are what make us unique. They key is to focus on the positive aspects of our diversity.

This topic reminds me of the story about the cracked water pot. A water-bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.… >>>

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How to Recognize Coercion

coercion

Coercion isn’t always recognizable. In fact, we all engage is subtle and not-so-subtle forms of coercion every day. Can you recognize coercion in your day-to-day activities?

Here is a simple example.

My wife was viewing the first ten minutes of a movie on TV and was so enthralled with it that she pressed the “record” button and then stopped viewing the program. She announced that she looked forward to sharing the movie with me and told me that she was saving it until such time as we could watch it together.

When that time came around, her enthusiasm pitched even higher. However, as she turned on the recording and the synopsis of the movie was shown, I found that I … >>>

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Reflect on Your Actions

reflect on your actions

Being able to reflect on your actions is key to reducing stress and prompting positive change in your life. The lack of reflection in your life can be likened to chewing—but not swallowing. The food is tasted, but unless digested, there is no nutritional value. That’s because no one really learns from an actual experience. It is the reflection about the experience that generates learning.

The human brain is a meaning-seeking organism, and because much of what we are exposed to happens so fast, we need time to process, to internalize its meaning. In addition, the brain continues to process information long after we are aware of it. This is the reason why many of our ideas seem to “pop … >>>

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Winner of the Week – May 21, 2017

winner of the week

It’s time to announce the winner of the week! Each week I choose one winner to receive a free copy of the winner’s choice from one of my electronic publications listed here.

The winner is chosen for the best story or experience from one (not each) of the following topics:

  • Live Without Stress,
  • Parenting Without Stress,
  • Discipline Without Stress, or
  • Using authority without coercion (Not using bribes to control, telling, threats, or imposed punishments) to achieve a goal

Here is this week’s winning story:

It was a beautiful afternoon and instead of playing inside with my kindergarteners, I took them outside on the playground. My students ran wildly out the door and began to swing, slide, jump, and laugh. … >>>

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