Archive for April, 2013

Finding balance

April 30, 2013
Where's the balance?

Where’s the balance?

Many people have sacrificed their family lives for the sake of their career, often without even realising it. We know the type; those that start early and finish late, work at home and spend time in the office on the weekend.

They spend so much time on work that their families grow away from them; when it’s too late and they realise what’s happened there’s a feeling of regret. I know this to be true because I was one of them; staying at work that extra hour, working on Saturday morning instead of spending time with the family, and on holidays spending too much time on the phone or email rather than enjoying the time away.

Regrets, I have a few, well, maybe more than a few. My daughter was born when I was 28 and just starting to hit my straps as a young corporate executive. I rationalised my decisions as being ‘best’ for the family. It was just this ‘one time’ again and again. My wife had stopped work so I had the responsible to be successful and climb the corporate ladder to provide our family with the resources we needed to prosper.

I continued to work hard, travelling overseas for weeks at a time and putting in extra time believing that this was the best for us all. I was wrong. My second daughter and then my son were born as I continued my relentless pursuit of more.

And did the corporates appreciate this? No, the more I did the more they expected. I climbed the ladder all the way to the top. I was finally a CEO and now I’d ‘made it’. My 20 year journey was over and instead of finding Nirvana I found only a desolate wasteland.

Now the pressure was really on. The Board didn’t care about a global financial crisis, they wanted results. So I worked even harder, was preoccupied at home and highly stressed.

But still they wanted more. ‘We know you’re on holidays but …’ that was it, I’d hit the wall and couldn’t keep up the pace so had to back off. Then I was replaced. Was it worth it? Of course not, I regret the times I missed during the first ten years of my children’s lives and the feeling of letting my family down. And I’m lucky because I still have them and I still have time. What about you?


Expecting the best

April 22, 2013
Where do you find your best?

Where do you find your best?

In our last post we discussed the way that our relative perception of what’s happening can actually affect what does happen. We see this with athletes who practice or visualise their performance in their mind, which greatly enhances their results because their body knows what to do.

This is called expectancy theory, where our expectations create brain patterns that are just as real as those created by the events themselves.

When we expect things to go a certain way and they’re in our control, they usually will. That’s because we’re following the patterns we’ve previously created and will drive our actions towards that end.

The most successful people adopt a mindset of positive achievement and view their working hours as opportunity for learning and achievement.

That provides a significant advantage over those who consider work boring and waiting for the hours to pass. Successful people take the same block of time given to everyone but use their mindset to be more productive and to get something out of the process, which leads to greater happiness and success.

Just as your mindset about your work affects your performance, so too does your belief about your ability. The more you believe in your ability to succeed, the more likely it is that you will. Believing that we can influence positive change in our lives increases motivation and job performance so that success becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is not new. The entire self-help industry has been built on visualisation, positive mental attitude and belief and how that leads to massive action where small failures are merely speed bumps on the journey to success. For others, without a positive framework of expectations, such speed bumps may be roadblocks that stop action dead in its tracks.

Bringing these ideas to their logical conclusion shows a positive mental attitude and belief in your ability to get the job done well will put you at a significant advantage over others who are just going through the motions.

Eudaimonia (happiness)

April 14, 2013

Is happiness on the other side of your door?

Is happiness on the other side of your door?

In previous posts I’ve discussed how society accepts average, focuses on the negative and the consequences of this on our lives and happiness. It seems counterintuitive, but we can feel guilty if we’re happy.

For as long as we can remember we’ve been told that happiness follows success and there’s many years of hard work and sacrifice to get there. If we work hard enough, we’ll be successful and only when we’re successful will we be happy.

The reality is that the opposite is true. When we’re happy, and our mindset is positive, we’re more motivated and more resilient, with enhanced problem-solving skills and more functional work oupput. So, of course, we’re more successful.

However, despite evidence to the contrary, we’re told that if we work hard now and make sacrifices now we’ll get a promotion, a better job, pay off our homes quicker and be able to provide for our family. Work hard now and we’ll be successful and therefore happier, in some distant future.

Much of this thinking is a hangover from generations past, where life was a struggle, you accepted ‘your lot’ and deferred happiness was the name of the game. Happiness was a luxury, or the reward of a lifetime of hard work. Perhaps by retirement we may be able to relax and enjoy life.

The most successful people, the ones that enjoy the journey, don’t look at happiness as some distant goal; they capitalise on the positive and enjoy the rewards at every turn. Happiness is the joy we feel in striving to reach our potential. If you have twenty positive interactions in a day and two negative ones, which do you focus on?