The importance of “thinking time”, and how to do this.

Taking the time to think may seem like a simple thing to do. Depending on what you are thinking about, it certainly could be. However, if you are doing what is referred to as critical thinking, this type of thinking can be more difficult to do. Why? Because it will require you to factor in a number of different variables related to the topic you are contemplating.

Critical thinking is also usually associated with topics which may have multiple outcome possibilities. Some of which will be in your favor with the more experience you have either personally or professionally. Although this doesn’t mean you are incapable of exercising critical thinking if you do not have much life or professional experience.

Having just taken a vacation, I spent a fair amount of time on my vacation exercising critical thinking on a number of different topics. One of the topics was about mindset. In fact, I experimented with testing out the concept of having a positive mindset most of the time I was on vacation. During the few times that my mindset was not positive, it generally had to do with the fact I was tired, or had not been getting enough exercise or the right type of healthy food.

The other topic I spent a fair amount of time critically thinking about, was leadership, and what impact leaders have on those they lead. Since I have been conducting research for the past year on aspects of leadership associated with sports coaches and the teams they lead, my thinking about this topic has significantly expanded, and in a very constructive manner. It has been expanded due to having new insight into the different methods sports’ coaches have leveraged to lead their teams.

When I compare and contrast the difference between sports and workplace/business leaders, the most surprising aspect difference between the two types of leaders, isn’t one you might expect. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by how sports coaches are much more willing to “test drive” multiple leadership methods than business leaders are. When I first started thinking about why this might be occurring, I first thought about how sports leaders have an enormous advantage over business leaders. What is this advantage? It’s quite simple, and it is that the sports team leaders’ teams all are singularly focused on one thing. Winning.

Of course, the business leaders’ teams also want to “win”, but their success is measured differently, and they are also motivated differently than sports teams are. From a critical thinking perspective, the sports coach leaders have a great advantage over the business leaders because the business teams may say they all share a common goal, but in reality, many of them don’t. I can credibly tell you this from having spent over twenty-five years in the business world, and I have both seen and experienced this for decades. I’ll refer to as a phenomenon.

The business leaders who were able to get their teams to at least appear to be on the “same page” from a goal perspective, and who were able to achieve what were classified as their success measurements or KPI’s (key performance metrics), achieved this with a different set of challenges than the sports coach leaders did. Yes, both types of leaders had equally challenging experiences with achieving their goals, but I can tell you that if the business leaders took a page out of the proverbial “playbook” of the sports coach leaders, it would make their jobs both more fulfilling, and less frustrating.

The “playbook” aspect I am referring to has to do with assigning more value to understanding team dynamics, and the top sports coaches in the US and outside of the US that I spoke to, understand this innately. They also assign and allocate both time, resources, and money to making sure that they get their team dynamics right. The results from the sports coaches who have “cracked the code” on understanding and applying methods to making their team dynamics work in their favor, are not only impressive, but should be better understood and applied outside of the sports team industry.

Since having spent the last year doing research on sports teams and team dynamics, I have had to do an enormous amount of critical thinking. Especially during the time I have been analyzing the results of my work. Here are some of the aspects of critical thinking I can share with you if you are interested in both understanding the importance of critical thinking, and why you should be taking more time to do so on a regular basis.

  • Critical thinking is more than having an opinion about something.
  • To be a critical thinker, you need to reserve the time to do so, be reflective and factor in multiple variables about the topic you are considering.
  • Patience is also required when you are attempting to spend time on critically thinking about the topic you are focusing on. Yes, this can be frustrating, as we live and work in a culture that demands an immediate sense of gratification, and critically thinking about a topic doesn’t always permit you to have an immediate answer or response.
  • Exercising and getting in shape can be compared to critical thinking, as it is the type of thinking which requires discipline, persistence and considering doing a number of different methods to get to the result you are seeking, or want to have options to consider.
  • You don’t always have to critically think alone. Although most of the time people do this type of thinking as a solo practice. Involving other people in your critical thinking discussion, is best suited when you have someone moderating the discussion.
  • When you regularly exercise your ability to critically think things through, you become much more skilled at making better decisions versus rash or impulsive ones. Decisions that will cause you to regret not having thought through the situation you were in.

If you don’t currently pride yourself in being a critical thinker yet, give yourself credit for contemplating what it will take to master this skill. Especially if you are looking to either lead others, or if you want to improve upon your current leadership skills.

TAGS: #Leadership #Business #CriticalThinking #Teams #SportsCoach #Leader #BusinessLeader #Success #Thinking #HowToCriticallyThinkThingsThrough #TipsOnHowToBeACriticalThinker #Sportsteams #Research

Thrive! What’s your plan?

I was recently having a conversation with someone close to me about how they were living each day and really struggling to get through it. Yes, they were admittedly depressed. They also felt as if they were stuck in a vicious cycle they could not get out of. The cycle consisted of working, going to sleep, repeat.

During the course of each day, they referenced that it took every ounce of energy they had to just do the bare minimum of what they had to do in their job. They didn’t feel as if they had time to do anything during the course of the day that they even slightly enjoyed doing. This made matters worse. Could this possibly be a time management challenge? Absolutely, and they would admit to this, but they still felt unable to break their vicious cycle, no matter how desperately they wanted to do so.

One of the things which came up during our conversation was the need to figure out what they could do during the day to refuel their energy battery. In other words, to do something which would provide them with additional energy to help them to break out of their situation of feeling like they were only existing day to day.

Hearing and seeing this person struggling was gut wrenching for me, yet as an optimist, I felt I still could do something to help them out of their situation. I just needed to be creative and have them be willing to try to do something different. Perhaps a bit radical to them. The next thing I needed to do was to get them to agree to doing something different. Then I asked them to commit to giving it everything they had in them to go from existing to thriving. Even if they were starting from a disadvantaged place of doing so.

If you are not familiar with having depression or anxiety, one of the things about it is that it consumes most of your energy, and makes you feel exhausted. Exhausted to the point of potentially not being able to accomplish anything but sleep. Fortunately, this person was not at this level, but I felt they were close to it.

When you are interacting with someone who isn’t thriving, they are typically frustrated and overwhelmed by what is happening in their life and at work. Of course, no one wants to feel this way. However, the challenge most people have is that they are often not equipped with methods to help them when they find themselves in this situation. Being able to recognize when someone is in this situation is critical, and it doesn’t take a professional to evaluate this. Having empathy and common sense will be enough skills to recognize someone is in a difficult situation.

I am not a trained mental health care professional, but my life and professional expertise in working with people over the last 25 years to bring the best out of them is both an honor and privilege.  I’ve written about how coaching is not therapy , and in fact, would suggest that people who are struggling with feeling like they are not thriving, and are simply existing could benefit from having both a therapist and a coach. In fact, I believe firmly that everyone should have a coach. I have three to four people in my life at any point in time who play the role of my coach. Some might refer to them as mentors, and in some instances the role definitions become blurred.

Let’s circle back to how I’m in the process of helping the person close to me with going from feeling like they are existing to thriving. One of the things I suggested was to in fact find a therapist. They are now working with one. Below are some of the other and more radical things they are doing, and that others can do too.

  • Outline on paper what you want your life to be like going forward. Think of this in terms of either a mind map, or perhaps a picture storyboard. Some refer to this as an inspiration board. This can also be created digitally too. The point is to begin thinking ahead.
  • When we begin to think about what is in front of us, and how to get to the place we want to be, it shifts our mentality from being “stuck” to considering that there are possibilities for doing something different.
  • Craft a list of all of the things you can think of that you would like to do or accomplish. Make the list as if everything on it is possible. In other words, think well beyond what you might even be able to imagine doing in reality.
  • Aspirational thinking is really powerful. Even more powerful is being able to plot out the tiny, and potentially large number of steps to get there. Although having many steps might appear to be overwhelming, if you can commit to doing one per day, it will allow you to accomplish this.
  • Having the perception of possessing good time management skills is often a challenge for people who feel they are simply existing. So, I highly recommend putting this on someone’s list to help them to learn how to improve this skill.
  • Committing to taking care of yourself is also highly important, as this is often overlooked when someone is not feeling great. Even doing something as small as drinking enough water and remaining hydrated each day can be helpful.
  • The radical thing I am having the person I referenced consider doing, is to think of their next career move as a paid internship. To have the experience be focused on building a new foundation which will support them to thrive. We are working on setting this up, but I know this will work, as I have had numerous other people apply this technique. No, it’s not easy, but the results are always remarkable.

So, if you or someone you know isn’t thriving, but wants to, I hope you will share this story with them. Everyone deserves to be thriving in their life, and sometimes they need additional support to get there.

TAGS: #Mentalhealth #Howtothrive #Howtosucceed #Management #Business #Life #Coaching #Therapist #Therapy #Leadership #Beingstuck #Feelingstuck #Thriving #Advice #Mentor #Virtualmentor #Perception #Timemanagement #Timemanagementskills

What’s your growth plan?

For some people, the thought of putting a growth plan in place might seem difficult to do. Conversely, for others, they couldn’t imagine not having one. Especially one that may be refined at the beginning of a new year. Do you fall into one of these categories or possibly in-between?

Although Stephen Covey may not be known as a self-growth champion, he is certainly well revered for helping millions of people become organized and focused on creating daily or longer-term actions to be focused on. Sure, you could potentially consider action plans to be associated with a growth plan, but my take on a growth plan is slightly different.

When I think about crafting a growth plan for myself, I consider a number of different factors prior to launching into this project. One of them is to factor in what my values are. Typically, I choose around five values to weave into my growth plan. The second thing I do is to think about what I want to accomplish in the year ahead. I also break down this list into smaller time increments so that I am able to see steady progress.

As I am contemplating the items I want to include in my growth plan, I will also think about whether my goals are purely self-serving, or if in fact I have some which will positively impact others. Having goals which will impact others is important to me, as it supports my value of giving back to others. It also personally supports another goal I had not considered until about three years ago when I was experiencing suicidal level pain from a back injury. Which I was fortunate enough to have back surgery to address this challenge. The goal I am referring to is to craft something tangible that I can leave behind as my legacy one day. I’m referring to my content that I develop and share with others.

For the last several years I have published one book a year, and as of December, I began writing my sixth book in the Wisdom Whisperer series. When Covid came into our lives in the first quarter of 2020, it impacted my plans to launch and promote my second book called Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer. Sure, I could have altered my plans to promote my book differently, but instead I chose to hold back and re-launch my book in 2021.

Publishing one book per year is one of my goals which is both something I personally want to achieve as part of my growth plan. It is also a way for me to give back, and impact others by sharing my experience with them via my writing. For those of you who prefer audio or video, I’ve got you covered in my plans too, as I’m working on an audio recording of my first book this year. Prefer watching video? I’ll be back in the TV recording studio to record my 26th Murf & E Unfiltered show this month.

You might be surprised to know that one of my growth plan goals this year is to leverage my TV content, as I have admittedly not done a good job with promoting it. However, about a dozen of my shows are available via my YouTube channel in case you want to check some of them out.

Now that I have shared a few of the steps I factor into developing my own growth plan, below are some other ways you can approach developing your own, as I am a firm believer everyone should have one.

  • Brainstorming what your growth plan will look like can be one of the first steps in your process for assembling one. You can informally do this alone, or with someone who you trust to support making this happen.
  • The statement “talk is cheap” and “actions speak louder than words” both make sense, as it is easy to verbally express your plans and goals. However, stating them out loud doesn’t always support committing to them, unless of course you recorded them, and have proof you said them.
  • It is a more supportive approach to write your growth plans down. You choose whether you prefer paper or a digital format. Either is fine. The point is to have physical evidence of your commitment to your growth plan.
  • Once you have determined what you want to accomplish as part of your growth plan, apply a timeline to each of the elements. As I mentioned previously, you might want to break down into smaller increments some of the growth plans you have. This can make it easier to achieve them, and see your steady progress.
  • Consider whether your growth plans are in support of your values. If they are not, you will be conflicted with wanting to pursue them. Don’t self-sabotage your ability to achieve your plans because of this misalignment. 
  • If you have never put a growth plan in place, I applaud you for doing so the first time. Once you have put one in place, you will find it much easier the next time to do so.
  • Some growth plans will need to be modified. This is perfectly acceptable. However, I suggest you put careful thought into why you need to modify your plan, and consider putting more structured thinking into how to achieve the goal with your modified plan.

By crafting a growth plan, you will set yourself on a path to achieve more than you would have accomplished without this plan in place. There is tremendous satisfaction we can experience when we are at various points during the year, and look back on what aspects of our growth plan we have achieved. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be achievement oriented, I guarantee you will want to at a minimum attempt to put your annual growth plan in place.  You have nothing to lose by doing this, and so much to gain. Good luck!

Tags: #Goals #Business #Success #Growthplans #Growthplanning #Self-achievement #Leadership #Motivation #Goals #Goalplanning #Achievement #Achievinggoals #Sales #Marketing #Teams

Uncertainty and decision making

Overview:

Let’s face it. Most people when asked if they like uncertainty will tell you they don’t. If asked to choose between the two, they will more often favor decision making. However, both of these topics can make people uncomfortable, yet they don’t have to. So, who are the people comfortable with both, and were they always this way? Can you be one of them?

Learning how to embrace uncertainty versus fearing or dreading it isn’t something which comes naturally. When we think of the concept of uncertainty, we often wish that we could definitively know what the outcome will be. When we can anticipate or predict the way anything will turn out, it also gives us a sense of comfort, or perceivably more control. Although some people don’t mind being surprised by an outcome. Especially outcomes that have a higher potential to be a positive one.

Although I am not an actuary, a significant percentage of outcomes mathematically will have roughly a fifty percent chance of a favorable outcome. So, why do we as humans tend to ere on focusing on the potential for a negative outcome? One of the reasons we do this is to protect ourselves from disappointment. If we expect the outcome not to be in our favor and it is, then we are happier about the results. Another reason we think negatively, is that we are not confident enough in our abilities, planning or circumstances to warrant the outcome we would prefer.

What if you could alter the way you think and embrace uncertainty? Part of being able to do this will involve re-training the way you think. This isn’t easy to do. Yet it can be incredibly gratifying to achieve being able to do this, even occasionally. To begin down the path of embracing uncertainty, one of the factors I noted above was to become more confident in your thinking this is something you can do. Let’s start there. Can you do this? Yes, this is a rhetorical question, as I know you can.

As you already know, our subconscious mind has a great deal of power. When we tap into it, and we suggest to ourselves that the outcome of any scenario will be favorable, we begin laying down the path for this to happen. Have you ever tried doing this? I’m sure you have, but potentially not all of the time. Consider a time you didn’t do this, and how much energy you put into thinking the outcome of your situation wasn’t going to be in your favor. Yet, it was. What if instead you could have channeled that wasted negative energy into something else? For one thing, you would have been less anxious, more fun to be around, and likely have had more energy to appreciate the positive outcome.

Let’s switch gears and focus on decision making as something you enjoy doing, and do well. For those reading this who feel they have mastered the art of decision making, consider how you could or would teach others how to do this. If you are in the category of needing to learn how to make better decisions, I have some suggestions on how you can go about doing this.

  • I recently met a woman who uses a method of visually thinking through her decisions. What she does is to draw a square box. In that box is the topic related to her decision. Around the box she places other boxes that have words or phrases that either support or don’t support her topic. This is similar to a pro and con list, but it is using a different visual representation to help you think through your situation.
  • Now would be a good time to consider putting together either an informal or formal board of advisors. It doesn’t have to be a big group, and it should be people who you know, and can rely upon to give you input from an objective position. Not necessarily what you want to hear, but a more neutral or alternative way of thinking about the outcome of your decision.
  • Depending on the type of decision you are making, is it possible to do research, or more research on helping you to determine an outcome? Perhaps a positive one?
  • Part of becoming a decision maker and mastering this concept, means you will become more comfortable with relying upon your gut instinct. Start slowly if you are uncomfortable with doing this, but think about what your first thought was. Then think about whether it is based on fear, or has merit for being a good decision.
  • When you vacillate on your decisions, you typically do this due to lack of confidence in your ability to decide. You will know you have mastered the art of decision making, when you stop vacillating on your decisions.

Yes, life is full of uncertainty, and we would be hard pressed to live a day without having to make any decisions. So, given the reality of this, the best course of action for ourselves is to embrace uncertainty and decision making, and to become pros at both of them. Let’s get you started today!

Tags: #Business #DecisionMaking #Uncertainty #EmbracingChange #Marketing #Sales #Leadership #MakingDecisions

Heads up! Everyone is looking down.

Quality time. You hear people talking about this all the time. Most of the time they are referring to it as a long-lost art. Something they used to have more of, or wish they had more of. Can you relate?

No matter where I go when I’m outside of my home; and yes, this happens at my home too, there is always bound to be someone looking down at their phone. I’m not a Chiropractor, but I suspect they see many people in their office due to issues with people that have some sort of neck issue related to looking down all the time.

There have been studies to suggest that many of the applications in our phones are designed to have an addictive component to them. In the software and marketing world, it’s referred to as a phenomenon of being “sticky”. Having spent decades in software marketing, I could bore you to tears on this concept, but I will spare you from these gory details. You don’t have to be a genius to understand how you have probably experienced this “sticky” concept as recently as today.

I can’t say I like seeing my phone remind me at the end of the week via a push notification about how many average hours I spent using my phone, but I’m always surprised by the number. Not in a good way, so I’m not proclaiming to be fabulous at not looking down at my phone like everyone else. However, I do make a conscious decision that when I am out with people and engaging with them, that I put my phone away. To actually engage with them!

For those who are not extroverts, their phone in social settings actually serves as a force field to shield them from feeling uncomfortable. Or, at least this is my perception of how it can help them to feel less anxious or shy. However, although having your phone with you in social settings and using it might make you feel more comfortable, I guarantee people are noticing you are engaging more with your phone than the people around you.

In some respects, we have moved closer to a society of it becoming acceptable to zone in on our phones in social settings. My opinion is that we are seemingly hitting the ignore button with our surroundings. When I think ahead in terms of the impact this is having, or will have on our society from a long-term basis, I’m not seeing a pretty picture.

The term social isolation comes to mind when I see groups of people together who should in fact be interacting with one another; both at work and in social situations, yet they are not doing this. By nature, we are social creatures. Although our phones allow us to be social in a different way with more people, it is via a method which is one step removed from physically interacting. Yes, you might get the sense you are having positive interactions with people in your digital world, but at the same time, you are not able to gain the benefit of an in-person interaction. I’ll refer to an in-person interaction as a multi-dimensional one.

Multi-dimensional interactions with “live” people are what help us to feel less social isolation. However, it can take more effort, and bravery to interact with people, especially ones you may not know that well. However, if we continue to increase the amount of time in front of our screens, and don’t flex our actual social interaction muscles, I’m concerned about our future abilities to be able to do this well are being severely compromised.

In the spirit of offering some solutions to reducing our screen time and heads down phenomenon, here are some suggestions to consider implementing if you find yourself to be part of our heads down society.

  • Consider using your phone as a tool to find interesting topics you can read about, and then discuss with others around you. Naturally you should take into consideration the people in your present environment so the topics you discuss are relevant or at least potentially intriguing.
  • Challenge yourself for one week with limiting your time in front of your phone by as few as 5 minutes and up to 30 minutes per day. Use this time to do something else, ideally something productive or creative.
  • Actually, be aware and record what you are doing instead of looking at your phone. This is equivalent to when you work with a dietitian and they ask you to record everything you eat during the course of a day. Sometimes we are unaware of the amount of time we are spending on our phones, or calories we are consuming.
  • If you are in a social setting and see someone else on their phone, go over to them and strike up a conversation with them. Perhaps you could ask them something related to their phone (e.g., Do they like the current one they have?). Or, you could ask them about what was the most interesting thing they have done lately that did not involve having their phone in use?
  • Instead of looking down at your phone, and it happens to be dark outside, consider downloading a star finder application to use your phone to learn about astrology and the stars. Consider doing this activity with another person so you are leveraging your phone for a more social purpose, while looking up!

I’ll be leveraging my own advice this week, and I hope that some of my suggestions will be useful to you too. Let’s all commit to becoming better and aware of the importance of reducing our screen time. There are so many benefits to spending less time on our phones, do you agree?

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too.  She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coachauthor of two business books (e.g.,  Wisdom Whisperer, Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer), and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances. She also is the creator and Host of a TV Show and Podcast called Murf & E Unfiltered – Zero BS Biz Talk.

Essentially every team is dysfunctional in some way. Our expertise is in uniting, motivating and bridging dysfunctional teams (sports & business), and turning them into epic ones.

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. Our coaching produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally. Need proof? Just talk to our clients, or read through our testimonials.

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

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