Time to Fly

Time to Fly

Managing Smart August 1, 2012 1

For the last several months, I’ve talked about identifying your values, discovering your gifts, and living your passion.   I hope I’ve inspired you to think differently about your future – to realize how you can live joyfully while also making a contribution.

So now it’s time to flex our wings – to leave the nest of our current, complacent situation and fly towards something new and challenging.

For me, that means rededicating myself to photography, a lifelong passion that has taken too low a priority in my life for many years.  And once I get an exhibit or a website up, I hope you’ll drop in for a visit!

Meanwhile, I’ll continue pursuing my other passion, making presentations that help people improve their people skills.  I’ve enjoyed this immensely for 22 years, and it’s something I seem to have a gift for, so I’m not giving it up!

But we often have to stop doing some old things, in order to free up the time and energy to take on new things.

Ask yourself, “How can I say no, to say yes to the best that is within me?  To say no to activities or commitments which are toxic — draining, stressful, or damaging at worst, or simply a waste at best — in order to put my time and energy into activities and commitments that bring joy and satisfaction to myself and others?”

For me, this has meant making a couple of tough decisions:

First, I will no longer offer in-depth training programs made from scratch to meet the unique needs of each client. Though I’ll miss the close relationships forged by working with clients in this way, I’ll gain an enormous amount of discretionary time.

Second, I’m going to author much, much less. My writing is “out there” in 20 books published by Harvard Business School, McGraw Hill, Pfeiffer International, and others.  And my advice appears in 222 Strictly Business articles, written over a period of 18 (!) years.  It’s enough.

And while I hope that my columns have been interesting and helpful to you, I know you’ll summon the strength to live without “Managing Smart” every month!  Today (unlike 1994, when I began writing for SB) there is a virtual blizzard of terrific how-to articles at your fingertips 24/7.  Some of my favorites are the daily e-zines I receive from www.Workforce.com, the Human Capitol Institute at www.HCI.org, and Talent Management at www.talentmgt.com.  Not only do the articles and free webinars provide excellent suggestions for managing up, down, and sideways, but they also invite feedback, so you can compare your views with other people from around the globe.

I’ve enjoyed bringing you my “Managing Smart” thoughts very much, and I hope we’ll keep in touch via email, LinkedIn, or phone.  I’ll close with the same encouragement that a friend of mine recently offered, when we were discussing trading a comfortable present for a potentially exciting future: “If you don’t like the flight, jump out, your chute will open.   It always has, right?”

All the best,


If your organization would like a keynote speech on this or other topics, call Jeanne at (402) 475-1127 or (800) 410-3178, or email her at jbaer@cts-online.net. Feel free to browse her website at www.cts-online.net or profile at www.linkedin.com/in/jeannebaer. Copyright 2012 Creative Training Solutions

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Beyond Goals: Discovering and Using Your Gifts

I’ve talked about goal-setting for the last two months, and today, I’m hoping you’ll go beyond goal-setting – not to a place of giving up, but a place of letting go.

All of us, regardless of how achievement-oriented we’ve been, are struck with a blinding flash of the obvious when forced to face our own mortality. We realize that our relationships and the simple joy of living are all that matter. As the cliché asserts, “On their deathbed, nobody says, ‘I should have spent more time at the office.’” And in “Sweet Surrender,” John Denver observes, “It’s more than enough just to be here today.”

Your new life begins with a stupefyingly simple mantra: “I am enough, and I have enough.” I’m not saying that you should never set another goal for yourself, never aspire to something greater. But we’re so much more than our accomplishments.  Life can be exquisitely meaningful, joyful, and rich, whether we achieve goals or not!

But to create a life with guaranteed abundance, you must tap into your gifts.  Yes, you do have them; different from abilities or expertise, your gifts have been with you from the very beginning.  They’re the qualities other people compliment you on, which you discount, because you think they’re no big deal; you believe everyone can do what you do.

Successful business consultant Michael Jones learned this lesson from an elderly man overhearing his random piano playing from a hotel lobby bar. This “seer” pointed out that Michael’s gift for composing and playing were unmatched, but Michael shrugged off the compliment, insisting that he wanted to change the world through his consulting and that playing was “nothing” — just something he did to relax.  But the wise man was insistent, too: “Who will play your music, if you don’t play it yourself?”  Fast-forward 25 years, and Michael’s music, available on 15 recordings, has become the benchmark for defining contemporary instrumental music worldwide.  He inspired me to chase down my own gifts, and if you’re interested in his work, see www.pianoscapes.com.

Your gifts needn’t be in a field we usually call “creative.” They may involve a quality of caring or listening that you offer. Perhaps you’re a superb craftsman, a gifted athlete, or a chemist with the infinite patience needed to discover the cure for a threatening disease.

I’ve become aware of my gifts through the feedback I get on almost every speech and training program I present. I also have honest, insightful friends.  I’ve discovered that my strongest gift, empathy, allows me to truly connect with almost everyone in almost all situations. And that gift translates to my passion to help people succeed, whether I’m conducting training, authoring a book, volunteering with children to help them learn to read, or listening attentively to a friend facing some challenges. Because I have daily opportunities to use my gifts, my life is rich beyond measure.

Once you’ve discovered your gifts (and thus your passion), you’ll know what you were put on earth to do. All you have to do is apply these gifts to both enjoy and bring joy to each day.

If you ignore your gifts, your life becomes more and more constricted, until you’re just one more tired little animal scrambling on the non-stop hamster wheel of life.  And now you’ve complicated all the happiness right out of your life.

In his book, Creating an Imaginative Life, Michael offers, “an invitation to a wedding – a marriage between the ambitions of your intellect and the glorious bounty of your gifts which live in your heart.” I like that metaphor a lot.

As we allow our gifts to flow through us, our strengths blossom into a work of art and an act of grace. And we set in motion a continual cycle of contribution and appreciation between ourselves and others.

It’s nice to know that in applying our gifts, “We will be guided by the silent intelligence that beats deeply within each of our hearts.”  Another eloquent Michael Jones statement.

So make the commitment today, to dis-cover your gifts—to remove your own “cover,” and reveal what is most authentic, precious, vibrant and fulfilling about yourself.  Please don’t spend one more day on that hamster wheel!

If your organization would like a keynote speech on this or other topics, contact Jeanne at (402) 475-1127 or (800) 410-3178, see her website at www.cts-online.net, or email her at jbaer@cts-online.net.

Copyright 2012 Creative Training Solutions

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Not Achieving Your Goals?  Here’s Why

Having lived in three countries and traveled to 30, I can tell you with assurance that the U.S. is uniquely goal-oriented.  The expectation, woven into the fabric of our very culture, is that we will set and achieve ambitious goals.  It’s symbolized by catchphrases stretching from “Manifest Destiny” in the early 19th century, to “Mission Accomplished” in the early 21st .  Even when “Mission Accomplished” turns out to be “Mission Impossible,” we often cling to a “can do” determination.

But what if you’ve set some important goals for yourself and not accomplished them? The answer is staggeringly simple and can be summed up in five short words: They aren’t important to you.

Why would you set unimportant goals? Perhaps you set them based on someone else’s values and advice. It might have been a friend, family member, boss… anyone with influence over you. Or you may have decided what you thought you should value, and created goals to fit. You might have decided to earn a degree or certification, make a certain income, carry out a Herculean volunteer project, etc.

Your goals seemed to have merit when you initially committed to them, but you never achieved them. Why? Because they weren’t based on what you value.  Once you create goals centered on what’s important to you, it will be easy, perhaps even fun, to fulfill them.
The second reason you may not have made progress is that you feel more fulfilled by relationships than by accomplishments; you’re more people-oriented than task- oriented.

It dawned on me that this is my case, when I took myself to the proverbial woodshed regarding some goals I haven’t accomplished.  A goal to turn my 100 best “Managing Smart” columns into a book is one example.  A goal to publish an employee engagement book is another.  A goal to sell 300 copies of my new book, Success Simplified, is a third.

The whipping began. “What on earth have you been doing for the last 5-10 years!?”  I gave it some thought. It turns out that instead of taking action, I’d been enjoying the wonderfully satisfying relationships I am blessed with. And reading European history, which fascinates me. And taking photographs, a huge passion.  And doing volunteer work with children, a genuine joy.  In retrospect, I wouldn’t change a thing.

So what on earth have you been doing when you might have been taking action? Once you’ve determined how you’ve spent your time and energy, consider why. Then jump off the guilt wagon and realize that you’ve been doing what’s exactly right for you, all along.  Liberating, isn’t it?!

Take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and repeat after me: “I will examine how I spend my time and energy, I will own it, and I will enjoy it!”

Next month, Beyond Goals: Discovering and Using Your Unique Gifts

If your organization would like a keynote speech on this or other topics, contact Jeanne at (402) 475-1127 or (800) 410-3178, see her website at www.cts-online.net, or email her at jbaer@cts-online.net.

Copyright 2012 Creative Training Solutions

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To Achieve Personal Goals, Focus on Bigger Picture

I’ll bet you’re pretty well governed by goals at work—goals that flow from your organization’s long-term strategic plan.  Goals that are aligned with your company’s mission and vision.  And you may be operating with some goals in your personal life as well. Do you know that it’s just as important for you to have your own strategic plan, vision or mission?

Let’s say an important event looms on the horizon, and you want to accomplish something impressive by that date. Maybe you want to lose weight, to stop drinking or smoking, or to be financially secure, for instance.  So you compose some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) goals, just the way you’ve learned to do at work.  Then you achieve them, right?

Well, it’s not quite that simple. There are enticements, set-backs, and (the most pernicious nemesis of all) a slippery slope lying in wait to trip you up!  And even if you do attain your goal in time for that big event, how can you maintain this new self? It’s not great to dazzle everyone at your high school reunion if your next trick is to dominate a bag of Doritos or move a mountain of M&Ms!

This is where tying your goals to your “strategic plan” …. to a bigger, longer-term picture….comes in.

When you’re setting your goal, think hard about why it’s important to you not just to be a certain someone by a deadline, but to stay a certain someone for a lifetime.  So don’t stop with a few of the short-term reasons, envision  the long-term ones — the big picture.

Allow yourself plenty of time to brainstorm and list all of the benefits that will accrue when you’ve attained  and can maintain your goal– more energy, less pain, more flexibility and more money (formerly frittered {or Frito-ed} away on costly processed foods or spent on medical care)….even some positive new relationships.   The consequences of success and failure must be specific, abundant, and crystal clear to you before you start out.

Then compose a supporting vision statement, such as, “I see myself as a strong, healthy person who enjoys physical activity.  My meals are interesting and delicious, but food does not rule my life.”

Then when you feel yourself starting to slide down that slippery slope, you can catch yourself.  Revisit your list with those powerful motivators.  Consider everything you have to gain by staying strong and all you could lose by surrendering to instant gratification.  And clearly envision yourself as that strong, healthy person.

What if you’ve set some personal goals that you never “get around” to accomplishing?  You “just never seem to have time to devote to them?”  What’s going on? Let’s talk about that next month.

If your organization would like a keynote speech on this or other topics, contact Jeanne at (402) 475-1127 or (800) 410-3178, see her website at www.cts-online.net, or email her at jbaer@cts-online.net.

Copyright 2012 Creative Training Solutions

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Wean Yourself Off Whining: Take Action to Solve Problems

It’s so very easy to complain, isn’t it?  All it takes is to move our lips, and technically, we don’t even have to think while doing it!
We don’t like to think of ourselves wimpy whiners, but bringing a problem out in the open in order to solve it involves work and sometimes risk.  Even Shakespeare’s Hamlet had trouble overcoming his inertia, wondering if he should, in today’s vernacular, just suck it up, or “take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.”

Suspecting that your average “sea of troubles” is not going to drift away all by itself, I suggest you take action instead.

I’ve found as I’ve studied personality styles and observed hundreds of people over the decades, that people usually complain because they don’t feel they have the skills (or more often, the power) to effect change. But they (and you) do!  You can build skills, and you might have more power than you thought! So instead of assuming that a solution to your problem is “nowhere,” decide that it is “now here.”

Try these steps:

1. Unravel what’s behind your complaint. Let’s say you feel your boss is a jerk, because she always seems to discount your (obviously brilliant) ideas, or never gives you feedback, or whatever. What’s the larger issue here? That you would like to have a relationship built upon trust and respect with your boss.

2. Push your fears aside. Why haven’t you addressed this problem in the past? Do you feel that think your boss would think you’re a complainer? Or that it wouldn’t do any good? Or that your boss might laugh or yell at you? Realize that these fears are based on assumptions which might not be true; your boss may simply be clueless!

3. Make a plan. If you’ve read about conflict resolution or negotiation, you know that preparation is everything. Make it a point to imagine what’s important to your boss, so you can frame your solution in a way that meets his or her needs as well as your own. Override your inner thoughts (which might have become pretty whiny lately) by constructing a speech that is respectful, assertive, non-accusatory, and specific.

4. As you discuss the problem, focus on a “both gain” solution. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about both people feeling good about generating and committing to a solution.

If you speak up, you may be able to create a much happier working situation.  Even more importantly, you will be a leader in building a “can do” culture of positive expectation at work, vs. being a follower in an “everything is hopeless” culture of negativity.

If your organization would like a keynote speech or training program on this or other topics, contact Jeanne at (402) 475-1127 or (800) 410-3178, see her website at www.cts-online.net, or email her at jbaer@cts-online.net.

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Ensuring New Supervisor Success

Someday (perhaps even now) your organization will be hiring and promoting once again.  When you’re able to promote people to supervisory roles, here are six ways you can help them to be successful.

1. Validate their new status to others.  All too often, people are promoted to their first management position without any formal announcement. This robs them of the legitimacy they need with reports who were formerly their peers, and with other supervisors and managers, their new peers. Announce the promotion on your company intranet, at meetings, and other places to spread the news.

2. Advise them to be friendly but not fast friends with their direct reports.  You bestow a dubious honor when you promote someone to supervise former coworkers.  Their applause dies down the moment the new boss has to deliver unwelcome news.  Morale takes a further nose dive when supervisors show favoritism to their best buddies or have to reprimand employees who thought they were a supervisor’s best buddy.  At this point former peers freeze out new supervisors, feeling they’ve gone over to the “dark side” – management!

3. Show them how to think like a manager.  In their new role, they will need to stretch beyond an interest in their old work unit to an interest in bigger, cross-functional issues, beyond taking orders to giving them judiciously, beyond taking short-term action to making long-term plans,  and beyond working a set number of hours to working until a problem is solved.

4. Along those same lines, explain and role model how to delegate. Help new supervisors understand that an important part of their new role is to stretch and develop their direct reports. By delegating, they can free up some time to take on new, more advanced challenges. Encourage them to practice delegating with small projects and tasks and work up to larger ones.  (The text of my book, You Can’t Do It All: Effective Delegation for Supervisors is available for you to read or download at my website, www.cts-online.net. )

5. Plug them into a new network.  There are important people in and outside your organization whom they should meet.  Introduce them to these key people soon after their promotion.  Also advise them how information is communicated at the managerial level. Who are the “go to” people? (And for that matter, who are the “avoid at all costs!” people?) How do decisions get made and things get done?

6. Even before they begin their new job, help them establish a professional image. If their dress and behavior are appropriate, tell them – they might not be sure.  If you have suggestions, share those, too.

Remember, you can’t just promote someone and say, “Okay, succeed!”  Though it might feel like micromanaging for a few weeks, your impulse not to spend time with a new supervisor could be disastrous.

If your organization would like a keynote speech or training program on this or other topics, contact Jeanne at (402) 475-1127 or (800) 410-3178, or email her at jbaer@cts-online.net or see her website at www.cts-online.net.
Copyright 2012 Creative Training Solutions

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