Getting Things Done = Freedom!

imagesCAUIW14S“Taking on new projects is not necessarily a positive change. It may be a sign of recklessness and non-fulfillment. But going back to all the levels of non-completion and completing them is a sign of positive change.” – John Roger

How many lists do you have? Are they short and long term, numbered and highlighted in order of importance? Are they color coded? Has their creation and maintenance taken on a life of its own? Are you living with annoying post-its everywhere that only increase your level of anxiety and multiply mysteriously? Does it feel like you are pushing back the ocean, while conflicted about this selfish waste of paper or electronic data? Are these overwhelming and unproductive activities? Non-completion takes up a great deal of psychic space, often accompanied by finger wagging and other judgmental posturing and is very taxing.

According to David Allen,” Stress comes from unkept agreements with yourself. You can relieve that stress only by canceling the agreement, keeping the agreement or negotiating it.”

Begin by clearing out and collecting your thoughts, assessing each one for importance and then review your options. Here is a 3-step approach that can get you out of being stuck and on the road to taking charge.

1. Find your preferred method of recording information. Take 5-minutes and dump everything that pops into your head. Do not censor or evaluate, just write!
2. Assess each particle. What’s the next action? What will you commit to?
3. Which things will you do in order of  time, place and importance?

A constant part of worry is the nagging feeling that there is always something else to be managed. While that may be true, for now you have cleared out the cobwebs and dumped the brain drains to a place where they can be seen and not just heard.

• Make your list
• Dig deep…no self-censoring
• Notice how it feels different than usual


Power Pose or Poser?

PerceptionHarvard professor and researcher Amy Cuddy recently delivered an inspirational keynote address. This was of particular note as she wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to fully regain her mental capacity and finish her undergraduate degree, yet she persevered despite the original prognosis.

Cuddy’s research at Harvard Business School confirms that our body language communicates information to others that shapes their perceptions of us. It also communicates information to us that shapes our own self-concept. We can construct how powerful we feel by assuming expansive body poses.

In “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance”, Cuddy shows that simply holding one’s body in expansive, high-power poses for as little as two-minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone, the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds, and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss. These power poses led to an increased sense of power and risk tolerance.

In other words, Cuddy states that we can fake confidence and power by using expansive body language to change our body chemistry and our feelings. This is especially useful in preparing to speak to a group or in any situation where a self-assured image is important. Whether you face a challenging subordinate, a complex negotiation or a difficult relative, this is a quick way to gather your composure and tap into your power. Begin incorporating the pose into your daily practices, thereby reducing stress, adding greater self-assurance, and dashing the notion that the pose is for posers only.


Fighting Fires Without Burning Bridges

orangeIt’s always interesting to observe how we navigate through our lives when the waters are relatively calm and then when things are not ideal. Holidays and time spent with family and friends can sometimes showcase less than perfect people and relationships. How do you respond? Is finger pointing, pouting, arguing or avoidance the behavior of choice or default? How committed are you to your attitude and what will it take to shift your perspective to a place where interests vs. positions is the big picture approach.

The job search forces you to re-evaluate and modify behaviors that could sabotage your candidacy for an opening. Your ability to listen and advocate for yourself may mean the difference between a significant offer with benefits and a more lackluster proposal. When everyone is at the table with a clear intention to come to a satisfactory agreement, the outcome will likely serve those parties and listening is a key element.

I was recently reminded of the overused but simple to understand example of how we would be best served by listening and asking the relevant questions before we are embroiled in a tug-of-war battle. One updated version of the “orange story” is as follows:

“There was once only a single orange left in a kitchen and two prominent chefs were fighting over it. Time was running out and they both needed an orange to finish their particular recipes for the President’s dinner. They decided on a compromise by splitting the orange in half and retreating to their respective corners to complete the meal preparation. One chef squeezed his half into the special sauce he was making. It was not quite enough but it would have to do. The other grated the peel into the batter for his famous cake. It too was not quite enough but it would have to do.”

An improved solution may seem obvious to you now: both chefs would have been better off had they peeled the orange and taken the part they needed. Instead, each had focused on each other’s position (the what) and not on each other’s interest (the why).

What you focus on will affect the outcome of any negotiation. It is always good to ask yourself why you want what you want. This will help you get a better understanding of what your real goals are and could also open up better results for you.

We are always negotiating in the course of a day over issues and things both large and small.
• Step back and listen
• WHY do want what you want?
• WHAT does the other person want?
• How can you both be satisfied?
• Remember the orange!

©2013 Maureen Weisner, All Rights Reserved