We all have strengths and weaknesses. Which is better to focus on for learning and success? Should we strive to improve our weaknesses no matter what? Or should we accept our shortcomings and simply focus on our strengths to achieve success and happiness?
In our society, we are trained in a deficit model—to fix what is wrong. And, in a very real sense, our attention is geared at fixing others. This is true both in school and in the workplace. So many performance reviews at work gloss over the employee’s strengths and instead focus on “areas for improvement.”
We see this in education as well. For example, after a meeting with teachers, the student said to his mother, “Why didn’t … >>>
For many people, the start of a new year is a time for change and fresh beginnings. But before making any life change, you need to be aware of your motivation for the change. Are you trying something new because others are pressuring you to do so (external motivation)? Or are you making a life change because it’s something that will bring you great satisfaction (internal motivation)?
Internal motivation really is the key to lifelong change. When you focus on what brings you joy and satisfaction—on what makes you feel good—you’re more apt to continue the behavior. To prove my point, consider the five questions below. They prove Aristotle’s conclusion that an emotional outcome like happiness is the appropriate end … >>>
It seems amazing that this most tumultuous and disruptive year is finally coming to a close. As we all reflect on 2020 and the lessons it has taught us, it’s important to keep both balance and perspective as we focus on moving forward.
Personally, this past year I have tried to keep my responsibilities in line, despite the many challenges this year brought the world. The five foundational categories I have focused on are:
Family – immediate and far-reaching
Finance – and contributory fulfillment
Fitness – physical and psychological
Faith – religious, and optimism in resolving failings
Friends – to feed and find anew
Of course, I’ve had to adapt and find new ways to keep my priorities in order. … >>>
Do you want to change your life for the better? Of course you do! Whether you want to improve your health, your financial situation, your relationships, your career, or anything else, we all strive to better ourselves in some way. The challenge is taking the necessary steps for improvement. What should you do? Where do you start? What if it seems too hard? Is it worth the effort? There are many questions. No wonder most people give up before they take the first step.
If you want to change your life, here’s the secret: Progress comes from making small improvements. “SMALL” is the key word. Just take one step at a time when trying to take on something new. The … >>>
We’ve all heard the phrase “lead by example.” Basically, it means that if we want someone to do something, we need to be willing to model that activity, mindset, or behavior. This concept is especially important when it comes to promoting responsibility in youth.
When you lead by example, you are using a powerful tool to encourage, nurture, empower, and establish expectations. For example, see how modeling promotes integrity, as illustrated in the following:
The owner of a grocery store hired a teenager to watch the store on Saturday mornings. One Saturday, the owner returned unexpectedly and took some carrots to feed the rabbits outside of the store. Before leaving with the carrots, the owner placed money for the carrots … >>>
One of the easiest ways to solve problems is to ask questions. Unfortunately, many people get so mired in the problem that they end up blaming others or trying to control the situation instead. This typically leads to more stress.
Think about your own life for a moment. How often do you blame others for your own negative experiences or challenges? How often do you try to use authority or force to solve problems? We all do it from time to time. While in some cases these tactics may appear to work (at least temporarily), more often than not you have the ability to positively influence the situation by simply asking questions.
Notice I said “influence” the situation, not “change” … >>>
During times of increased stress, a little kindness goes a long way. It’s during these times that we often see people talking about doing “random acts of kindness” as a way to show strangers you care.
Random acts of kindness are certainly a great idea. Buying a cup of coffee for a stranger … leaving a tip greater than the total tab for a server … giving up your seat on the bus for another … these are all kind gestures that brighten people’s day and make their world a little better.
However, when it comes to your long-term relationships, such as your life partner, immediate family, friends, co-workers, and even neighbors, you need to focus on regular acts of … >>>
Whether meeting someone for the first time in person or via a video meeting, making a positive first impression will help you become more effective. We’ve all heard the old phrase “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” That advice is still true today. But many people reveal that in today’s era of virtual meetings, it’s more difficult to make a positive first impression.
Here are some techniques to help you make a positive first impression.
Use a leading question to get the person to talk about something personal, such as a hobby, a recent vacation, their job, or even the city they are from. Most people enjoy talking about themselves or one of their
Have you ever heard someone say, “If only I had put in more effort,” “If only I had more time,” “If only I could go back … yada, yada, yada”? Or, have you said these kinds of statements to yourself? We’ve all done it from time to time. Having these thoughts occasionally is perfectly normal and expected. The problem is when “if only” thinking becomes a habit.
“If only” is simply wishing that things were different. Wise and capable adults act with strength and the realization of what exists so they can positively influence outcomes. Growing is what life is all about. “If only” is the seed of a negative attitude that makes it less likely to overcome life’s challenges.… >>>
Too many adults have a fear of failure. Unfortunately, they pass this fear onto their children. But what many people don’t realize is that failure and mistakes are a vital part of learning. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that no great success ever occurred without failure.
We’ve all heard about Edison’s 10,000 attempts to create the light bulb. He wasn’t alone! It took James Dyson 5,126 attempts to invent a bagless vacuum cleaner. And did you know that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos failed at many things? Ever hear of Amazon Destinations, Amazon Auctions, or the Fire Phone? Probably not, because they were all epic failures.
Whether we like it or not, failure is necessary to learn, … >>>
Self-reflection is a vital success habit. When you develop your skill of asking reflective questions—those that foster self-evaluation—you can see problems in a new light, become more proactive, and ultimately reduce stress.
Even better is to foster this skill in others, including your children, teammates, and employees. You will empower others when you help them develop this skill. The dynamic behind asking reflective questions is that it encourages ownership because people don’t argue with their own viewpoints.
Here are some suggestions for asking effective reflective questions that encourage self-reflection:
Focus on the present or future—as opposed to the past. What’s done is done and dwelling on it won’t help anyone. Instead, keep focused on what you can do
Do you consistently make good choices? In other words, are you in control of your actions? Or do you let others determine your actions for you? The fact is that most people are simply responding to stimuli. This limits their ability to make good choices regarding their next move. Without knowing why you are doing something, you set yourself up to make poor decisions in the heat of the moment.
Consider these three very simplistic examples to illustrate the difference between making a thoughtful choice (and thus being in control of your actions) versus reacting to stimuli.
Assume for a moment that you are looking forward to watching a special program on television. You have had your dinner and are
If there were one key question to ask yourself to gauge your relationships and your effectiveness, what do you think it would be? How can you really know how others view you? How can you know that you’re being the best person you can possibly be?
Self-evaluation is critical for personal growth. After all, you can’t improve unless you know what to improve upon. This is true for all aspects of life, whether on the job or within your family. Of course, self-reflection and self-assessment can be difficult. Libraries are filled with hundreds of books on the topic, each offering their own version of how to do it effectively.
But what if there were a simpler way? A single question … >>>
How many times have you interacted with someone who you deemed difficult and wished you could somehow encourage change in the person? Maybe it was a co-worker, a family member, or even a child. It’s natural to want others to change and be more agreeable or friendly or even more like us. But is it possible to make people change?
Many people try to encourage change in others by using force. Depending on the relationship, they may use dominance to initiate the change (as in an employer/employee relationship). Or they may use nagging and criticizing (as in a family relationship). Or they may use coercion, bribing, or punishment (as in a parent/child relationship). However, they quickly learn that none of … >>>
For years I’ve focused the teachings of my Levels of Development on students and schools. But in reality, the Levels of Development is a tool appropriate for every person of every age from every walk of life. In fact, when people become aware of the levels, they become conscious of their own behaviors, their decisions, and their relationships with others.
Here are the 4 main ways the Levels of Development helps all people.
1. Serves as a means of communication
The Levels of Development offers everyone—adults and youth—the same conceptual vocabulary. This helps bring clarity of understanding and assists communications between all people, whether it’s between a teacher and student, parent and child, or even two co-workers.
When it comes to making the best out of any situation, sometimes all you have to do is change your perspective. The fact is that how you view things—whether an event, a situation, or a person—has a direct effect on the stress you feel … or don’t feel. Your perspective can make something seem positive or negative.
Perspective influences every aspect of life. For example, up close, the earth looks flat; from outer space, it’s round. A student may dislike a demanding teacher; the following year the student praises the teacher for being so thorough. A customer may seem difficult and rude; the next day you realize the customer revealed a huge problem and by fixing it you save your … >>>
In order to live your best life, it’s necessary to challenge your assumptions from time to time. Assumptions are beliefs you take for granted. They are so natural and involuntary they usually do not enter your consciousness. The fact is that you make assumptions every day. Some assumptions are helpful and make living life easier. For example, you assume that when you get out of bed, the floor will be beneath you. Or, you assume that when you mail a letter, the intended recipient will receive it.
However, there are also assumptions you make that may not be valid. For example, you may assume that someone is angry with you by the manner in which that person speaks to you. … >>>
If you’re like most people, you probably want to improve your life in some way. Whether it’s improving your decision-making skills, your relationships, or your job situation, the desire for change and life improvement is an important human urge. No wonder there are so many books and websites dedicated to personal and professional growth.
In my own experience and in working with countless others, I have found that once you implement the Levels of Development into your life, change and growth are natural byproducts. That’s because the Levels of Development essentially gives you a rubric for making decisions and living your best life. It’s one of the simplest tools to use to improve your life
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