Don’t Look Back – (5) Tips on how to always look forward.

I certainly cannot speak for anyone else, but one of the things that really motivates me is looking forward to something. Even when there is not anything monumental on the horizon, I can look forward to something as simple as sharing a cup of coffee with a friend. Having something to look forward to is simple enough to accomplish. It is a highly achievable experience. When I find myself less motivated, I realize I might be thinking about the past, instead of looking toward the future, which I find to be incredibly exciting.

Taking time every now and then to reminisce about what you have done in the past, and the accomplishments you conquered, joyous experiences you relished, and perhaps even some less-than-ideal days is normal, but should not consume your thoughts. Nor should looking back be something to be tough on yourself about, as many people dwell on What IF thinking. This serves little purpose, consumes too much energy, and is a habit which we should all try to reverse.We are all guilty of What If thinking, but what if instead of focusing on the WhatIf regarding the past, we apply this thinking towards the future?

When we interrupt our negative thinking, or thinking that is less constructive, we do ourselves and others a favor by changing our attitudes towards just about everything. Thinking in terms of possibilities versus reviewing our playback tape is what highly successful and motivated people do. It really is not that difficult. The first challenge is to recognize a pattern of thinking about what has already happened, especially since you cannot rewrite what has already occurred. The good news is that you do have control over the script for what can happen next. Stop and really think about this for a minute. Yes, you do have full control. Don’t let it happen, make it happen!

Having something to look forward to is highly motivating for me, but everyone is different, so this might not, in fact, work for you.However, here are five tips to refocus your energy and attention on looking ahead instead of in the rear-view mirror.

  • Think of someone you admire. Now imagine yourself in their shoes. What are their most admirable characteristics? Are some of their traits ones that you could borrow, or implement?
  • Spend time outside. Being near or around any type of nature, or simply breathing in fresh air, can reset your thinking, and put you in a better, more positive frame of mind.
  • Do something nice for someone else. Thinking through the process of doing a kind gesture for someone else forces you to think ahead and plan out the activity, even when it is a simple action like putting a blanket on your child or significant other when he or she has fallen asleep on the couch.
  • Put together a plan. It can be almost any type of plan – a vacation, a dinner date, a birthday party, opening the pool . . . The simple act of starting a plan will create the need to look forward.
  • Get out of your routine. No matter what time of the day it is, you probably have some type of routine. Do something entirely different during your day, and start thinking now what it might be. This will give you something to look forward to, and put you in a position to have to think about doing something later.

Changing how you think about the future can create positive results. The natural endorphins released from the brain when you are thinking and doing constructive behavior will help.

I know you can do this and promise it’s worth the effort.  I have coached many people who felt the same way you do, and guided them to be able to do this well, and every day. Give it a try. T

O

Why Do People Micromanage Others? Do you?

Here’s the thing. Most people who micromanage others do not realize they are doing this. They also tend to manage this way for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is because they have not had strong examples and role models who would have shown them via examples of how to actually manage people well. Another reason people micromanage others is because they are not confident in their own abilities, and this lack of confidence manifests itself in how they treat and manage them.

Lack of trust is also a reason people micromanage those who work for them. Establishing trust is something we know takes time, and unfortunately even with a fair amount of time working for a manager who has micromanagement tendencies, will not change their behavior. So, what are you supposed to do when you work for someone like this? I’m going to assume this management style does what I refer to as rub your fur the wrong way each day.

The first thing I can tell you is that most micromanagers can change, although if you are working for one, it might be hard to imagine this. Generally, the first approach I take when I come across someone who is a micromanager, is to ask them the following questions:

  • How would you describe your management style?
  • What type of communication style is your preference for interacting with me and the rest of the team?
  • What provides you with a sense of comfort in terms of reporting on results of projects or tasks being worked on (e.g., verbal, visual, both)?
  • How much autonomy are you comfortable with giving me on all of my projects on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the most comfortable)?
  • What does it take to earn your trust on being able to work independently?
  • What level of involvement (e.g., hands-on, hands-off) do you prefer to have as it relates to the work your direct reports are doing?
  • Describe your ideal management style.  

Once you have answers to the questions above, you can then start to better understand why and how this person manages the way they do. However, if you are unsure about how to go about indirectly helping them to change their management style to one which better suits you –  and no, I do not think a micromanagement style suits anyone, here are some options to consider pursuing.

  • If you think you can reduce the micromanagement level of your boss by better understanding why they manage the way they do, you might be able to continue working for them.
  • Altering a person’s management style is a complex thing to do, and they have to first recognize this style is not ideal, and want to consciously change and not manage this way. If you can get them to recognize they are a micromanager by talking to them about the style of management which best suits you, you might have a shot at getting them to reconsider and work on changing their current style.
  • People in general do not like change, so the chances of someone altering their micromanagement work style is going to take both time and patience. It will also take having this manager learn alternative ways of managing, and this will take coaching and mentoring from others who are not micromanagers.

So, how do you know if you are a micromanager? 

  • People do not tend to work for you very long.
  • Your team does not seem to be as engaged or productive as other teams.
  • Direct reports do not often seek your advice.
  • People who report to you often appear to be frustrated.
  • Your management peers do not engage with you as much as they do with other managers.
  • You have not received many promotions, or opportunities for growth at your present or prior companies.

We all would agree that being or working for a micromanager is not ideal, yet there are many people who fall into both of these categories. If you recognize you are, or have tendencies of being a micromanager, this is a good thing. Why? Because a person can only change when they first recognize these management traits, and then realize they are not ideal. Seeking guidance on how to change your management style is highly recommended, as no one wants to be a micromanager, or work for someone who is one. Please ask for help. Getting help could save and alter your career in a really positive way.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief PerformanceStrategist and CEO of Market Me Too. MarketMe Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called WisdomWhisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, which produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally. Think of me as a “people are like diamonds – polisher”.

If you want better results with what you are doing, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen atkathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.T

Figuring things out in your 20’s and 30’s to prevent your mid-life crisis

Let’s first start off by acknowledging that the majority of people coming out of college or high school do not have a clear vision about what they will be ideally doing for the next 10-20 years. What tends to happen is that after graduating from school, people begin their journey into becoming an adult, and joining what some refer to as “the real world”. You know what I’m talking about…paying for your own phone, apartment, food, transportation, student loans, etc. The list of expenses seems like they have come out of nowhere, and most people in the first 2-4 years’ post-graduation are adjusting to becoming an adult, with real life responsibilities.

In your mid-twenties, you start to think about whether the job you decided to accept and pursue is in good alignment with what you like to do, and the reality is that often it isn’t. This tends to add to your stress, although you keep plugging along, as you are not certain what you should be doing instead. You also begin to start thinking about your romantic partnering reality, and if you are not in a serious relationship, this can also cause more stress, as the majority of people are interested in having a meaningful connection with someone.

Adding to this stress, is that many woman in their mid 20’s to mid 30’s often also start to begin panicking about whether they will be able to find the right partner, and they do have cause for concern, especially if they want to have children. Unfortunately, fertility statistics are not working in women’s favor as they enter into their 30’s, and the reality is that many women are not either emotionally or financially ready to take on becoming a Mother until they surpass 30.

I realize the written picture I have painted isn’t as promising and rosy as most people would prefer it to be. However, there is a strong degree of harsh realities associated with what is happening to the young adults in their 20’s and 30’s. Fortunately there is good news though, and here is some of the advice I give to help people in these decades of their life to not only reduce their stress, but enjoy these decades more than they might currently be doing.

  • Keeping your experiences in perspective is critical. Even though you may not be in a job you want to have, live where you want to, be in the relationship you would prefer to be in, all of these things can change very quickly. Also for the better.
  • Yes, misery can enjoy company, but do your best to avoid others who are chronic complainers or drama kings or queens. They will only drag you down, and no ones needs or enjoys this type of interaction.
  • Seek out people who are doing things (e.g., hobbies, activities) or work you either enjoy doing, or aspire to be doing. The best way to change your situation, especially if you are not satisfied is to take action.
  • Volunteering your time is also a great way to realize you may be in a better off situation than you think you are, and yes, you do have time to help others. No excuses, as most of you are only responsible for taking care of yourself.
  • Challenge yourself everyday to get out of your comfort zone. Someone in their mid 20’s the other day was surprisingly shocked that I practice what I tell others, and do something every day to challenge myself. You should never stop doing this.
  • Ask for help and guidance from others, especially others who have more life experience than you do. This could be your family members, or people that are 15-20 years plus older than you, and who have volumes of strong advice or suggestions to help you. People also derive enormous satisfaction from helping others, so let them help you.
  • Come up with an action oriented and goal driven plan for the next 5-10 years of what you would like to accomplish. We are so used to having most of our lives programmed for us up until we are 18-22, but after these ages, we are on our own to come up with a plan. The funny thing about this, is you might not realize this is the case, although upon telling you this, it probably seems obvious. Make your plan flexible enough to be accomplished, and yet challenging enough so you can experience and delight in your progress being made.
  • Seeking therapy is also a strong option, as therapists can help you to get to the root cause of what is causing you to feel the way you do, especially if you are experiencing more anxiety than you are comfortable with. However, in reality, it can also take years to feel better, and there is no guarantee offered from therapists that you will feel different or any better after you have been in therapy.
  • Most people I talk to do not fully understand who they are, or what motivates them, or what their purpose is. Figuring this out is far easier than you might think, and as a certified Gallup Strengths Coach, I help people with this challenge every day. I also love doing this, and I have seen incredible results from helping people to understand better who they are and what they are good at in less time than you might think it would take. Many people I work with also have a therapist, and I laugh when they tell me that working with me is much more therapeutic, and gets actual and faster results. How ironic.

I wish I could tell you there is a magic formula for figuring things out in your 20’s and 30’s. There isn’t, but these are a few of the suggestions I give people who ask me for advice on this topic. Let me know if some of them help you out, or if you have suggestions I can share with others which have helped you. This is my “thanksgiving” gift to you. Happy Thanksgiving…if you happen to celebrate this holiday.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called Wisdom Whisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, which produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally. Think of me as a “people are like diamonds – polisher”.

If you want better results with what you are doing, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.

 

Progress – Are you making some?

Sometimes you can recognize progress. Usually, though, it takes much longer to see or experience any type of forward motion. There are many ways to measure progress. In the high technology marketing world I have lived in almost my entire career, just about everything I have worked on had some type of measurement tool available. This became normal to me, but not every job has this high level of what I refer to as disciplined scrutiny.

Feeling like you are under the microscope every day can be exhausting, and more stressful than I care to think about. Although it can take its toll, especially if you don’t know how to inject a sense of counter balance into the mix, being professionally trained to make progress on a daily basis does have benefits.

Let me tell you about a friend who was also a former client – I helped her to produce her first Jazz CD. For most of our lives, she has been the complete opposite of me in almost everything we each did, professionally. When I would give her marketing, branding, or business advice, she either did not listen to my suggestions, or she would do the exact opposite.

As you can imagine for someone who is used to making daily progress, working with her at times was incredibly frustrating, but I knew what we were working on would pay off one day. I just didn’t know how long it would take. Fast forward almost 20 years. As we reconnected, she reminded me how I used to tell her, “I know the person who can accomplish doing what we are talking about is hiding in you, and will someday make their debut.”

Well this day arrived, and for the first time I witnessed an example of progress being made as I watched her giving a voice lesson to a promising future Broadway singer. Teaching voice lessons and getting paid to do so has always been something my friend wanted to do, and she was doing this right in front of me.

The next example of progress I saw from my friend occurred as she was skeptically listening to financial advice. I later learned that she took the next step and scheduled a time to review and put into action the financial advice given to her.  She was listening!

This woman had always wanted to make a living from her ability to sing. After more than two and a half decades of pursuing this dream, it is now a reality. Seeing this type of progress is something that took far longer than I imagined, but it did happen. The best part is that the progress my friend is now making is at an exponentially swift pace. She now has perspective on what it means to achieve the kind of progress she has made.

My friend has always believed in her ability to be able to make a living from her natural gift, but the most gratifying part is seeing her now be able to make longer-term decisions, including living in an artist’s loft in New York City. The most remarkable part of where she lives today, is that she only came across this space after she lost her last apartment and everything in it to a building fire. Luckily, she and her dog were out walking when the fire occurred, and no one was hurt.

How progress is measured depends on the type of work you are doing, and can be subjective to measure depending on what it is you are trying to quantify. My profession is a creative, strategic and heavily people-oriented one, designed to have a positive influence on people. The measurements are unique to the work I do. The point is that even a small amount of progress can be beneficial.

Sometimes it is important to take time to celebrate our small progress wins, as over time they accumulate and can produce amazing results. My friend is a great illustration. I hope you will soon have your own examples of progress you can appreciate and be proud of.

This story is dedicated to my long-time friend, Ellen O’Brien, who also happens to be an incredibly talented Jazz and near future Broadway singer. Listen to some of her songs at www.ellenobrien.com

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called Wisdom Whisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, producing repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally.

 

 

Post acquisition hangover? There’s a cure.

When I was talking to my daughter about writing about this topic, she asked me if I was familiar with a concept she recently learned in business school called Post Merger Syndrome (PMS). What an appropriate acronym. I had not heard about this, but I sure have lived through it. Generally, when I am writing about a topic, I tend to do some minor research on the subject, but only minor research, as I do not want to be significantly influenced by other people’s thinking on the topic.

Since I have worked at more than a dozen companies during my career, I have had the fortune of experiencing just about every aspect of the acquisition process. At one company I was at, I was on the executive team which was responsible for integrating acquired companies into the culture of the company. Since the company was on an acquisition spree, there were times I was working with 2-3 new companies and helping them to comfortably fold into being part of the acquiring company. As you might imagine, culture plays an enormous role in the success of blending companies, and I have written about the importance of having a strong company culture .

I’m often asked to comment on what is the most difficult aspect of the acquisition process. Hands down, I can tell you it is the post acquisition phase. Going through the acquisition phase is exhausting, and sometimes feels like it is never going to end, and often it does, but not because the acquisition went through, but because the acquisition did not come to fruition and go through the process successfully. There are so many factors which can stall out, or derail an acquisition, so the fact they do go through is sometimes just short of a small miracle.

Post any acquisition I have been through, there is both a huge sense of relieve, but also a sense of what I would refer to as a feeling like the air was let out of your balloon. Let’s face it, not everyone monetarily gains from going through the acquisition process, and yet there are many people who worked really long and arduous hours to make the deal happen. Then when the deal goes through, it’s back to reality, and going back to perhaps the flow of its just a job kind of feeling.

So, is it possible to either not experience a post acquisition hangover, or feel better post the acquisition than you did before the whole experience occurred? Sure it is, but there are some realities you need to be aware of to help you navigate through this. Here are my tips on how to either avoid your post acquisition hangover, or find the post acquisition remedy you might be looking for.

  • Post the acquisition, make sure you make time to personally celebrate the accomplishment. I’m talking about doing this alone, and taking time to be retrospective about everything you just went through to be part of making this process happen.
  • Doing a post mortem on the experience with the team involved with the acquisition process is critical. There are so many lessons which will be too easily forgotten or dismissed as lessons you learned, and which can help you to make the post acquisition process less taxing on you both mentally and physically.
  • Mentally and physically you need to build in time to take time to wind down from the acquisition Too many people I have seen have made the mistake of not doing this, and they do not last too long after the acquisition takes place in either the role they played, or the new one they took on. If you utilize the analogy of exercising, think of how it is just as important to warm-up as it is to cool down. This is essentially the same concept. Skip one of these, and you know what can happen.
  • Career and project based opportunities from the acquisition will be prevalent for those who are savvy enough to see them. Keep your eyes open for them, and don’t be shy about letting others know you want to leverage the opportunities which can work in your favor. Just be sure to clearly articulate how both parties can benefit from the opportunities you are capitalizing on.
  • Get to know and understand the culture of the team you either acquired, or were acquired by. It is critical to do this early on in the process, and to integrate the teams together. Using another analogy, it is similar to how families are blended together during a marriage. It takes time, and you have to work at it, and often you will need external help to assist with this process. Don’t rule out bringing someone from the outside to help you navigate through this. It can really make a difference.
  • Whatever you do, don’t become labeled as the chronic complainer who does not appear to be adjusting well to the acquisition. Adaptability and flexibility are going to be two of the greatest strengths to exhibit and possess post the acquisition. As the saying goes, become part of the solution.
  • Being associated with the company you either acquired, or were acquired by may or may not be a long term or ideal match for either one of you. Literally make a simple pros and cons list, and you will quickly see which one is the winner. Ideally give yourself a few quarters for the dust to settle on the acquisition, and then go through the pros/cons exercise. The list may have dramatically changed, and should give you a better sense of whether remaining at the combined company is in your best interest.

I hope some of these tips will help you, and let me know if they do. Or, let me know if you need some additional ones to help you with your challenge. By the way, congratulations to all those on the “other side” of the acquisition experience.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called Wisdom Whisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, which produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally.

If you want better results with what you are doing, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.