Effectiveness

The Most Empowering Mindset

Your mindset is a choice. You can choose to be a victim and feel disempowered and negative. Or you can choose to be a victor and feel empowered and positive. Which do you choose?

I urge everyone to avoid the victimization mentality. It is toxically disempowering and limits you in so many ways. Empowerment is so much more effective. And even if it were not, you would still be happier in an empowerment mode rather than in a victimhood mode.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed many teachers who needed to change their mindset in order to leave the victimhood realm. These teachers believed that when students come from unstructured homes, from poverty, or have some other situation that cannot be … >>>

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What Happiness Really Means

When you hear the word “happiness,” what comes to mind? Many people think happiness is about belly laughter, euphoric thrills, and feelings of joy mixed with boundless energy. While these things certainly contribute to happiness, they’re not what people should be focusing on for long-term fulfillment.

What is important is how frequently, not how intensely, you are happy. For example, winning the jackpot in Las Vegas, the thrill of the quadruple loop roller coaster, or belly laughing at the Saturday night comedy club show are wonderful moments. But they are not the hallmarks of sustainable long-term happiness.

In truth, real happiness comes from being content most of the time. This occurs when you have thoughts and feelings of well-being and … >>>

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Use Attentive Listening for Better Relationships

Attentive listening is the most valuable tool we have for enriching the quality of relationships. Yet, many people neglect it.

Attentive listening means listening without distraction. I have met very few people who have practiced this approach to the point of making it a skill. My financial planner was one such person. Cory had the knack of conveying the feeling that, when you were with her, you had her undivided attention. I don’t know if she learned the skill or if it was just natural with her. But I remember the charismatic impression it made on me.

Unfortunately, all too often, we experience the opposite of attentive listening. As the chair of an accreditation team representing the Western Association … >>>

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The Best Way to Help People Succeed

We all want the best for those we love. Whether it’s by giving advice, providing necessities, or gifting our time, our goal is often to help people succeed. Unfortunately, sometimes our best-efforts backfire, especially when giving others verbal instructions, warnings, or assistance.

Before I continue, it’s important to point out that the human brain thinks in pictures, not words. Think back to the last sleeping dream you remember. Are you visualizing the dream you had in words—as you are reading now—or are you visualizing it in pictures (images)? If you’re like the majority of people, you will conclude that you dreamt in visuals. (Remember that in human history reading is a relevantly recent development. Only in very recent times has … >>>

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Conquer Your Fear of Failure

Here’s a question for you: “What trait or mindset do you think makes people truly self-confident and have a positive self-worth?” The answer is: “These people have overcome their fear of failure.”

Truly confident people—from business leaders to politicians, from teachers to lawyers—do not let the possibility of failure intimidate them. Of course, they do fail at times. But they don’t alter their actions because of this possibility.

Unfortunately, many people today don’t try to win; rather, they try not to lose. They don’t try to succeed; they try desperately not to fail. That is a sure route to nowhere. Personally, I’d rather be going somewhere, even if I fail to get there, than assuredly going nowhere. Remember the old … >>>

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Focus on the Positive to Change Your Life

Maintaining a positive attitude, speaking positive words, and thinking positive thoughts is essential to a happy, stress-free, and productive life. I learned to focus on the positive early in life. Like many, I was brought up on a principle my mother instilled in me: “If you can’t say something nice about a person, then do not say anything at all.” I took that to mean that we should not only refrain from negativity, but that we should also focus on the positive.

My mother’s advice eventually became the bedrock of my first principle to reduce stress: POSITIVITY. I now think of it whenever something negative pops into my head or if I am about to say something that can be … >>>

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Focus on Strengths to Enhance Learning

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 … >>>

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Change Your Life by Focusing on Internal Motivation

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 … >>>

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A Time for Reflection and Moving Forward

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. … >>>

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The Secret Way to Change Your Life for the Better

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 … >>>

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Why We Should All Lead by Example

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 … >>>

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Ask Questions to Solve Problems

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” … >>>

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The Importance of Kindness

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 … >>>

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How to Make a Positive First Impression

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
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Eliminate “If Only” Thinking

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.… >>>

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Embrace Failure and Mistakes

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, … >>>

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Develop the Habit of Self-Reflection

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
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How to Make Good Choices in any Situation

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.

  1. Assume for a moment that you are looking forward to watching a special program on television. You have had your dinner and are
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