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Public Speaking Strategies for Introverted Writers
I’m a transparent type of guy so here’s a little secret for you: I’m an introverted writer. And, as an introverted writer, I greatly enjoy capturing my thoughts on paper. One activity I savor even more is…wait for it…sharing my ideas with a live audience.
Click below to discover how to enjoy speaking on stage…
No Time To Prepare Your Next Presentation? No Problem!
Imagine this scenario: your boss calls you into his office and explains that you’ll be giving an important presentation tomorrow morning to a group of senior managers within your organization. Reality check time: Do you feel the same way as when…
A) Your warm shower suddenly turns icy cold
B) Your small plane enters a disturbingly dark thunder cloud
C) Your rickety old elevator abruptly stops between floors
Click below to discover how to design a presentation when you’re pinched for time…
How Toastmasters Helped Me To Go Out of My Mind
Early in my design career, I’d think a lot about designing consumer products. That was normal since I had recently graduated from Industrial Design school. I’d think about the look and feel of the product. I’d imagine my target consumer using it. I’d mull over how much the product would sell in a retail setting.
Click below to discover how to take your ideas from head to stage…
What Type of Action Personality Are You?
Are you a great talker?
Do you enjoy planning out your next moves?
Do you take a few steps, get bored and start something new?
Are you laser focused on realizing your goals?
Click below to discover your action personality type…
On Conquering Your Personal Mount Everest
65 years ago Sir Edmund Hillary became the first person to reach the peak of the world’s tallest mountain. Wherever your big goals take you, know that you will encounter big obstacles. You’ll need to equip yourself with a mountaineering attitude to give yourself the strongest chance to summit your personal Mount Everest.
Click below to discover how to set goals and get goals…
The Incredible SuperPower We Forget We Have
We all know that the way we think about ourselves and our abilities will determine the direction of our lives. But often, during stressful or challenging times, we choose to forget the immense power we have to forge our own reality. It starts with control over our mind. We need to remember that it’s hard enough to move towards our goals without self-sabotage.
Click below to find the confidence you need whenever you need it…
Does a Magic Pill Exist for Better Public Speaking?
Popeye has his spinach. Superman his phone booth. What do you have to become a better public speaker? You may be surprised to learn that there are various simple yet powerful techniques to give you a quick boost before getting up on stage.
Click below to discover the secret to powerful public speaking…
Transform your team’s idle banter into an effective project management tool.
When we, as project managers, choose to share our views with our team, cohesiveness increases. Conversely, when our team members decide to talk to us about their concerns, we begin to see the project more clearly. Conversation is the currency with which we exchange ideas with one another.
Click below to discover how to build strong teams with communication…
Note to (PM) Self: Designers Just Want to Design
It’s been more than fifteen years since I was a product designer, and I still catch myself thinking like one. With keen observation, I watch the way people interact with their environment. I see their enjoyment, as well as their frustrations, when using certain products. I imagine re-designing the product in order to provide the potential customer with an enhanced experience.
Click below to discover how to lead a team of creatives…
‘Kaizening’ Towards Your Best Performance Ever
We all love stories about how a little-known inventor wakes up one morning and aha!, hatches a novel idea that promises to change the world. There are many examples of this exciting phenomena. Here are three such moments:
Click below to discover how to improve your performance in anything you do…
The Secret Behind the Source of the World’s Greatest Book on Personal Development
Every now and then a book is written that contains such powerful ideas that it can reset the trajectory of the reader’s life. One such book is “How to Raise Your Own Salary” published by Napoleon Hill in 1953.
Click below to discover the secrets of success…
Who Said That?
Quotes! I can’t get enough of them. Each quote is a packet of high quality wisdom crammed into 1-2 easily digestible, very memorable sentences. I keep a collection of them on my phone and use them on a daily basis for motivation, elucidation and comprehension of the situations I find myself in.
Click below to discover what the greatest basebal player of all time said about team work…
There Is Always Tomorrow??
Procrastination is easy. Discipline is not. Doing a little bit every day will quickly add up to taking a large bite out of your next project.
“I’ll start it later.”
Click below to discover how to overcome that nasty gremlin we call procrastination…
On Caring For Your Audience
“My audience was my life. What I did and how I did it was all for my audience.” –Cab Calloway
Click below to discover how to give your audience what they came for…
Just Build It!
I am constantly looking forward to the weekend. Not just because I have two days away from work. It’s because my weekends are filled with multiple visits to The Home Depot. And I love it! Walking through the never-ending aisles with all of those tools and materials reaching out as far as my eyes can see. Each time I’m inspired to build some thing new. A product that’s never existed in this world before.
Click below to discover how to transform your ideas into reality…
The Fine Art of Team Building
A project manager’s team is his strongest asset. Each team member contributes an important piece of work to the project. If the team communicates well, then the discrete pieces have a better chance of fitting tightly together to build a successful product.
Click below to discover how communication is your best tool…
Quotes for Creativity
Creativity is not about being right or wrong. It’s about trying new things, experimenting and discovery. It’s about having fun and and not being afraid to fail, learning something new and trying again. It’s about letting yourself be inspired by the world around you.
Click below to discover five quotes that will help your creative juices to flow…
The incredible world of social media has multiplied the channels available to communicate with each other. Now with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter we can keep in touch with everyone we know with a click of a button. We can craft the perfect comment to a friend’s message because there’s no rush to respond. It’s all good.
Or is it? We are citizens of a dual universe. We live simultaneously in a cyber world as well as the “old-fashioned” bricks and mortar world. Live face-to-face communication is where relationships are formed and solidified. We are continuously bombarded with our colleagues showing up at our desks at work expecting immediate responses to their concerns. Your boss will not likely be sending you a text message anytime soon. And even if he does, you can be sure he’ll be arriving at your cubicle a few moments later.
We live in a world of immediacy. The better you are at dealing with urgency, the more valuable you’ll be to your company. I call this type of transaction “impromptu dialogue.” And there are specific skills you’ll need to excel in this arena.
Come to my talk on August 12th in NYC and learn about five simple techniques you can use to bring about better personal and professional relationships, immediately.
Life is a Series of Improvisational Opportunities
Note: The following is an excerpt from my untitled book on fearless public speaking, targeted for publication later this year.
Are you comfortable with uncertainty?
Are you known as a person who’s good at ‘thinking on their feet’?
Do you look forward to finding yourself in the middle of an unfamiliar situation in order to feel a rush of adrenaline?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, then I have just the thing for you…improvisational speaking.
For a typical presentation you’ll be given plenty of advance notice to prepare. You’ll have full knowledge of the topic, format, venue, and audience. As long as you give yourself ample time to prepare, you’ll be ready when the big day comes.
Now it’s a different story when it comes to improv. You won’t have advance knowledge of the topic. And there’ll be no time to prepare. A split second is all you’ll be given before your speaking window closes. If you’re the type of person who prefers to choose your words wisely, then read on.
The key to improv is to focus your awareness on the edge of time we call ‘now’. Analysis is out. You’ll need to allow all stimuli to enter your consciousness without selective filtering. To be successful at improvisational speaking, you’ll need to trust yourself to make decisions in real time.
The archetypical extrovert is the ideal improvisational speaker. You’ll recognize people in this category by their proclivity to speak before they think. They don’t mind if the ideas that flow from their mouths aren’t fully formed. They see a conversation as an ongoing exchange of ideas. They respond creatively and don’t see the need to defend their ideas as absolutes.
Extroverts welcomes change. In fact, they revel in it. You’ve heard the expressions, “go with the flow” and “live in the moment”. Extroverts take those ideas to heart.
Improvisational speaking is at the center of our daily business life. Most managers proclaim to practice an open door policy. The manager promises to drop whatever he or she is doing to take up the employee’s concern. These situations are where the manager’s improvisational skills are tested.
An adroit manager will have the presence of mind to switch into improvisational mode as soon as an employee shows up at his door. There is no time to prepare as there is no read-ahead providing the topic of conversation. He’ll need to wing it. The more skilled he is at clearing his head of the residue of thought, the more effectively he can focus on his employee.
We improve our skills by observing experts in the field. When it comes to improv our search ends quickly as we only need to watch our kids. Children have natural improv skills. They are adept at living in the moment because their abstract and critical thinking skills have not developed yet.
Listen to children speak and you’ll be reminded of a bee around flowers. The conversation weaves in and out. Logic is nowhere to be found. Imagination is key. Adults looking for a structured discussion will quickly become dizzy trying to keep up with children’s frenzied playfulness.
Where have our natural improvisational skills gone? The good news is that they haven’t disappeared. We still have them. It’s the same situation for any skill we have mastered but haven’t used in awhile.
For example, most people were excellent bike riders as children. But the two-wheeled apparatus lies unused as we learn to drive a vehicle with four wheels. However, even after many years away from bike riding it takes us only a few hours to get back to the skill level we enjoyed as kids.
It’s the same with improvisational speaking. We mastered the skill as children without even knowing it. Now, as adults, it lies dormant within us. So then why does it seem so difficult to bring ourselves back to our former level of expertise?
The answer lies with our big brains. Basically we think too much to allow ourselves to flow with the speed of our own thoughts. We get in the way of our very fast stream of consciousness. Our thinking process is approximately 800 words per minute (wpm). Yet our speaking rate is only 150 wpm. What do we do with the 650 words left unspoken? Or more to the point of this article, how do we choose which 100 words to let loose?
To be an effective improvisational speaker, we must find ways to clear away the blockages that slow down our flow of words. The world’s fastest speaker lets out an incredible 655 wpm. A top auctioneer will bid-call at 400 wpm. Should we attempt to speak at that rate? We could, but our audience would be laughing so loudly we wouldn’t be able to hear ourselves think.
We need to increase our rate of speaking by only 25 wpm to notice a significant increase in our improv skills. Why? When we speak faster than our typical comfortable rate, we force ourselves to let ideas out that aren’t fully formed. We think less about saying the right things. We don’t have as much time to filter our thoughts as we are used to.
If you enjoyed reading this abridged article, stay tuned as I’ll post more soon. To be notified via email, sign up in the ‘leave a comment’ section below.
The Power of a True Champion’s Words
Whenever I feel less than confident, I pull up a poem by one of the most egotistical and bombastic persons who has ever walked this Earth…Muhammad Ali.
This three time world champion heavyweight boxer was a master at attempting to intimidate his opponents with his powerful words. I don’t know if his crazy statements really worked on his adversaries, but they sure work for me. Here’s one of my favorites:
“I’ve wrestled with alligators,
I’ve tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning
And throw thunder in jail.
“I’ve wrestled with alligators,
I’ve tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning
And throw thunder in jail.
You know I’m bad.
Just last week,
I murdered a rock,
Injured a stone,
Injured a stone,
Hospitalized a brick.
I’m so mean,
I make medicine sick.”
Every time I read this over-the-top proclamation, I chuckle. But you know, it works its magic by somehow making me instantly feel more buoyant, confident and alive.
The power of words are real.
Make them work for you.
Read many of Ali’s inspirational quotes here… http://www.muhammadaliquotes.org
Harnessing the Awesome Power of Creativity
Creativity finds its most expressive outlet during the act of brainstorming. The successful brainstormer bypasses the need to come up with the “right” answer or, in fact, any answer at all.
He is not concerned with what others think of him. Smart, ignorant, wise, dumb, it just doesn’t matter. He knows those types of thoughts would only serve to shut down his creative flow. He is fearless. His only interest is letting the random ideas, no matter how impractical or useless, out into the world.
Judging the relative merits of the ideas is a task for later. He understands that deeply and anchors himself firmly in the present moment. His priority is quantity, not necessarily quality of ideas.
Have you convinced yourself that this is not a state of mind which you will ever be able to achieve? Well, as Henry Ford, once said, “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.”
Try letting your “craziest” ideas out into the light of day. You don’t need to tell anyone about them if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. Simply write them down.
The awesome thing is that after you do this exercise a couple of times, you’ll experience a feeling of liberation, of freedom, and of surge of inner strength. And once this happens, there’s no going back. You’ll be hooked on your own inherent power of creativity.
Ideas CAN change your life if you want it. Start letting them out of your head today. And remember…the more, the better.
Four Gutsy Steps to Develop a Zest for PublicSpeaking
Why do many experienced public speakers appear to be enjoying themselves while performing on stage? Would it surprise you to know that they actually are having fun while speaking in front of an audience? Well it’s not as hard as you think for you to look forward with anticipation to what many people see as their top fear in life: public speaking. Your path to success will be accelerated if you apply these four basic principles.
1. Before performing, remind yourself that you will do the best you possibly can. There’s no need to try to be perfect. That’ll just get in the way of your performance.
The notion that we will always do the right thing is far-fetched at best. We need to relieve the pressure we put on ourselves. Is it realistic to think that we should always get a perfect score on our exams? Of course not. Similarly there will be times in life when we fall flat on our faces.
For example, the first time I spoke in front of an audience I was so scared I couldn’t speak. In fact before getting on stage I had a persistent nervous cough that continued for almost 20 minutes. I drank a lot of water. I sat down and meditated. I even took a sedative. No matter what I tried, I could not stop myself from coughing.
What finally worked is when I succeeded in convincing myself to ignore that little voice in my head that was saying “you’ve got to be perfect up there. Don’t blow it.” Well guess what…that voice in our heads is wrong. It’s not about being perfect. Perfection is not the right goal for you because you can always improve your performance. Even world champion speakers will readily admit that they still have room to get better.
Will you have the best performance the world has ever seen? Of course not. That’s unrealistic. Will you have your best performance ever? No. This is just a step on your path to improvement. What your performance will be is the best it can be for this moment in time. Even if you mess up a couple times during your performance.
The key to success in public speaking or any endevour in life is to learn from your mistakes and persevere. As the famous orator Winston Churchill once said, “never, never, ever quit”. As long are you’re practicing your craft, you will be improving.
2. When on stage in midst of performing, don’t worry about where your story is headed.
Public speaking is similar to any other activity in real time, you’ve got to connect with the moment. Thinking ahead while you’re speaking, even for a nanosecond, is distracting and is a sure way to make you lose your train of thought. Focus on the flow of your words and the tonality of your voice. The secret to an effective speech is keeping up with yourself. Your brain must be in synch with your mouth.
If you asked 100 newbie speakers if they thought public speaking could be enjoyable, I’m sure 99 of them would give you an emphatic ‘no’. The one outlier would tell you that if you know your material cold and if you can connect deeply with your audience then the experience can be a rewarding one.
It’s more about enjoying the ride than arriving at your destination. This state of mind is called flow. You can drop into it only by keeping your mind laser focused on what you’re doing. Let the thoughts flow naturally. There’s no right or wrong when you’re in the zone. They’ll be plenty of time to dissect your performance after you’ve finished speaking.
3. After coming off the stage, congratulate yourself for your performance, even if you think you’ve bombed.
There are two ways to look at everything you do: non-judgementally or critically. And there’s a right time to do each. When you step off the stage, remember to give yourself a pat on the back. Public speaking is not easy. Give yourself credit for doing what you set out to do. Beating yourself up is not conducive to your self-confidence. And it certainly won’t help you to get back on stage.
Instead try thinking about the things you did well. Build yourself up. Remind yourself how it felt when the audience responded to your story or laughed at your humor or applauded when you were done. It felt good, didn’t it? It could be 100 people that you made a connection with, or 10 or even one. The quantity doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that you communicated your thoughts.
You may never hear directly from anyone in your audience but know that you have impacted their lives simply because you had the courage to speak out and share your ideas. There will be be plenty of time to think about how you could improve your presentation after you are off the stage. However don’t confuse the way you present yourself with the content you share with your audience. Without good ideas form is superfluous. With good form your ideas are elevated.
4. Every individual has a unique personality. There may other people that are similar in certain aspects, but there will never be another person that matches you in your totality.
There is no other person in this world who is exactly like you. You have a unique way in which you express yourself. So why would you want to copy someone else’s style when on stage? You need to speak from your heart to connect with your audience. That’s where your true power comes from. Taking on someone’s style makes your performance appear hollow. The audience can see the difference between authenticity and veneer. Be you on stage.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch and learn from other speakers. I’m saying that the external things you incorporate into your performance must feel natural to you. You need to make it part of you. A good speech will appear spontaneous and unrehearsed. The words will flow naturally from your heart with emotion. Speakers who do not connect with their self will surely not connect with their audience. Don’t speak from the neck up.
Public speaking can be a rewarding experience. Overcoming fear of speaking in front of a large audience is rewarding in itself. In business and in life you’ll be asked to present your ideas in a group setting. Do you want to be the person who’s voice is quivering with sweat pouring down their face? Or would you like to appear poised, powerful and dynamic while clearly expressing your message? With practice you will improve your public speaking skills and even enjoy sharing your ideas on the big stage.
Get your ham on!
Quality Quotes for Non-Quitters
I believe that we all understand that to have any chance of accomplishing our goal we need to start the project. But as soon as we hit the first obstacle, many of us fold. We rationalize our attitude by convincing ourselves that we did our “best”.
Unfortunately we don’t see that when we quit early on we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and subsequently improve our performance.
The following people understood the principle of perseverance and thus succeeded in their chosen professions.
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” -Thomas Edison
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” -Albert Einstein
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela
“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal, you do not change your decision to get there.” -Zig Ziglar
“A man is not finished when he’s defeated; he’s finished when he quits.”-Richard Nixon
“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” -Newt Gingrich
“Never, ever, ever, ever quit.”-Winston Churchill
Let’s remember that progress takes perseverance. And perseverance takes time. Take your time to learn, grow, and improve.
Incredible World Record #457
How Taking Action Will Conquer Your Fears
There’s a significant difference between watching and participating. Watching is the entry level of engagement in the daily activities of our lives. The next step up is actively trying to do the things we’ve been watching other people do. One more jump finds us not only participating, but doing it whole-heartedly, all sails to the wind. Giving your all will take you where you want to go in the quickest possible time. However there are times when you’ll stumble upon adversity. Here are three common obstacles preventing you from reaching full-on engagement and how to overcome them:
How often do you hear that little voice in your head that says ” I can’t do it because (blank)?” Your mind fills in the blank with various random reasons. I used to hear it often. But instead of ignoring it, I focus on it. I focus on it because that’s the only way to defeat that annoying little voice. Head on. That voice is not you talking. It’s just a pre-recorded taped message that you can choose to listen to or not. To move forward with full-on engagement you must turn the recording off as soon as you hear it.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” President Roosevelt certainly understood our plight. For example, let’s say you’re going to give a presentation for the first time. We naturally feel anxious. Fear of making a mistake, fear of being seen as a phony, and fear of looking like a fool are just a few of the ways we let fear hamper us. The solution is to remember that you’re not alone. Everyone feels fear when doing something for the first time. There was a very popular television show devoted to our nemesis called “Fear Factor.” Besides eating spiders and bungie-jumping off tall buildings, it showed us how to face our fears by taking action. The more you work through them, the sooner you will overcome them. And then one day, believe it or not, they’ll be gone.
One of my favorite slogans is Nike’s “Just Do It.” It’s message is simple and direct…just get up and do something, anything. It doesn’t say to just sit and think it. It doesn’t say just do it later. The message is about action. The most effective way to engage yourself in your life is to just do something. You may be asking yourself, ‘do what?’ Well that’s completely up to you. But whatever you choose to do make sure you have a clear goal in mind. Be specific…I want to re-finish my living room floor project. Remember to be timely…I want to re-finish my living room floor before Thanksgiving. Setting a goal for yourself, and really wanting to achieve it, will awaken your body to do what it needs to do to get you where you want to go.
Before you can overcome your obstacles, you’ll need to be aware of them. Mental, social and physical hindrances will always be waiting for you as you travel on your chosen path. Just remember to treat them as mere speed bumps on the road to reaching your goals. The key to accelerating your progress is to be a Creative Warrior and practice full-on engagement.
Realizing your potential starts with the recognition of the self-limiting obstacles that stand in your way. Then you’ll be ready to begin doing the things you want to do.
© 2014 Seth Greenwald
Where will you be in 2020?
Well if you’re like me, the answer is not enough. Don’t get me wrong, I ‘m not saying that playing and being in the present moment is a bad thing. It’s a lot of fun. In many ways, that’s what life about. All work and no play makes Jack (or Jill) a dull person.
But every now and then it helps to take a seat and think about where your life is heading. If you stay on your present course, where will you be in 5 years? Do you like what we see? With that picture in mind, do you feel fulfilled or anxious? Do you feel like you’re on the right track? Do you wish it could be different?
If your life in 2020 looks peachy to you then congratulations. Continue on your journey. If not, then today is the day to change gears. And this blog is where you can begin.
It’s simple. Write down where you want to be in 5 years. Start your entry with “In five years, I WILL be…” The word ‘will’ helps you to cut out thinking in terms of maybe-sort of-possibly. You need to make this an important committment to yourself. It’s a pact between you and you.
Be specific. Add details about location, time of year and the people that surround you. These attributes make the picture of your future more real to your brain. The goal of this exercise is not a one-time writing assignment. It’s about you helping yourself to get what you want out of life.
Are you up for the challenge? Just leave a comment below and you’ll be on your way…
Big Success Starts with a Simple Idea
You can be successful, extremely successful, simply by engaging your inherent CREATIVE POWER. It’s true. Creativity is not reserved for the artist alone. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what you do. Everyone has the capacity to harness its incredible potential to realize their DREAMS.
Let creativity show you the way to success. Success is about MORE. Whatever you desire…happiness, love, money…can be achieved with a creative mindset. It’s simple. More creativity leads to more ideas which leads to more choices. CHOICE is the foundation of success. Choice allows you to take CONTROL of your life. Engaging your creative power will put you in the driver’s seat.
Creativity will lead you to success. And, as a bonus, you’ll have FUN on your way there. Remember how great you felt as a kid when you let your imagination run free? You experienced an exhilarating lightness of being. With creativity you can feel JOYFUL whenever you choose to.
Creativity will lead your brain into INSPIRED thinking. And there are endless ways to get there. Many of them are based in ACTION. That’s right. Contrary to popular belief, ideas are spurred into reality by movement. So, in essence, your road to SUCCESS begins by doing something. It’s simple if you know how.
Are you ready to further your career, develop deeper relationships, or experience more SATISFACTION each and every day? Then let the Creative Warrior share with you more than 50 simple, yet extremely powerful techniques to help you get what you want out of life.
The Devil’s Crossroads and the Edge of Fear
Near the town of Greenwood in the state of Mississippi, there’s a place called the Devil’s Crossroads. It’s supposedly the exact spot where, sometime around 1935, the blues guitarist Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil for musical genius. It really isn’t much of a sight. You’d probably miss it if you weren’t looking for it. But the crossroads holds special significance for me. Awhile back I spent three days in Greenwood and my experiences there have forever changed the course of my life. (I’ll save the details of the trip for another blog. Hint: I survived a fire.)
Looking back I now realize that the Crossroads represents the intersection of two opposing approaches to life. Coming into town I traveled the road where fear ruled my soul. I played it safe and I shied away from new or unfamiliar experiences. I didn’t trust myself to deal effectively with the curveballs that life was throwing my way.
After my fiery adventures I left town a different person. I took the alternate route where confidence meets fear and turns it into excitement. I found the courage to transform the situations I had previously viewed as uncomfortable or dangerous into opportunities for growth.
My experiences in Greenwood helped me to realize how we should approach life. Every day is a crossroads and each morning we have a choice. We can either embrace life or hide from it. It’s a decision which you may be unaware of making. I can tell you from experience that the more you embrace life, the more opportunities will arrive at your doorstep.
The truth of the matter is that anything can happen to us at any time. The potential risks are never going to go away. But what we need to get rid of is our fear. To do this we must jump into an unfamiliar situation. It’ll be scary so I suggest starting with something slighlty uncomfortable. By attempting something new and then succeeding, you’ll prove to yourself that you have what it takes to overcome adversity. After that initial experience, don’t stop; move on to something more challenging.
You can conquer your fear. There are three things that will help you to make it happen:
1) be aware of your surroundings
2) trust your instincts
3) don’t get down on yourself
Write down these tips and post them where you’ll see them often. I keep them on a sticky note which I take with me wherever I go.
I can’t promise that you’ll succeed at every challenge. When a setback occurs remember to vigorously practive tip #3. Get back up, brush yourself off, and when you’re ready try again. No need chastise yourself. No need to fear. Just don’t give up. Life is an adventure and our job is to live it up.
Alchemy and The Creative Manager
A project manager with highly developed interpersonal skills will motivate his team to achieve their goals quicker and with more synergy than a PM who is less practiced in the interpersonal arena. This is an observable fact.
Team members personalities come in all shapes and sizes. Not only is each individual unique, but their mood and attitude can vary depending on the moment. And you can be sure that given the same situation or problem, each person will approach it differently. The variables are endless. The potential for failure is enormous IF you are not creative in your interactions with people.
The greatest percentage of time in a manager’s day is spent working with his team. The success of each interaction is dependent upon the manager’s ability to empathize and understand his team members’ varied perspectives. Certainly a manager enters into a conversation with his own point of view’ though his first priority is to listen. The adage “strive first to understand, then to be understood” makes sense in the large majority of scenarios a manager deals with throughout his day.
From an individual’s vantage point life can feel like one long attempt to make sense of the world. We look for reasons on how and why things are the way they are. Just at the time we think we have it all figured out a new variable pops up and we are compelled to fit it into our worldview. There are certain principles that govern the way the world works. Or so we think. As soon as we talk with someone we understand that everyone sees the world in their own unique way.
The Creative Manager accepts the idea that no two people see things exactly alike. This is the starting point for all of his interactions. Instead of stubbornly holding on to his unique point of view he seizes the opportunity to open his mind to new ways of seeing. He doesn’t feel obliged to change his worldview. He takes in the new perspective whole.
What he now does with the new perspective is what makes the Creative Manager unique. He knows that the basis of creativity is transforming what exists into something new. He is an alchemist in a sense. He endeavors to combine the various perspectives which his team members hold dear into a coherent whole while maintaining aspects of each part. He’s on a quest to discover something new.
How does he accomplish this impressive feat of synergy? Well, first off he holds his ego in check. He knows not to impose his limited approach into the process. It’s not a competition to get his way, nor is it a negotiation to win concessions. It’s encouraging the team to come together to find common ground from which to communicate. The personality traits required to accomplish this are humility, patience and empathy. A Creative Manager knows when to sit back and listen to the team’s varied voices which, in turn, allows the individuals’ energies to coalesce into a powerful and cohesive force.
The Ever-Expanding Box
It feels good to question the way things are. As we search for answers, we define a world for ourselves. Notice I said “a world” and not “the world”. That’s because each of us are creating our own reality. The world “out there” is enormous and may make us feel small when we comprehend things from our own limited viewpoint.
Many people feel uncomfortable when their world view is questioned. They feel grounded, safe and in control of their lives. Nothing’s wrong with wanting to feel that way. The problem arises when we think we know everything and stop asking questions. At that point we cut ourselves off from experiencing new things. We create a box to live in and lock ourselves in. We become so sure of ourselves that nothing comes in and nothing goes out.
I say it’s all a delusion. We can never create a big enough box to contain our whole world. I’m not saying it’s wrong to create the box. I’m saying that we must remember to allow the box to expand beyond the limits of what we know now. There are always new things to see, new places to visit, new people to meet.
By opening ourselves up to new experiences, we remind ourselves that the way we understand the world is only one of 7 billion unique approaches. It feels good to know that it’s our way but not the only way.
The flip side is that when we see ourselves as just one of masses, we can feel small and unimportant. That’s when our ego awakes. It tells us that we are important and special. It may even want us to close the box. That’s the little voice we must learn to ignore. We must remain inquisitive. This is when your Creative Warrior must kick the box open and go out to explore the wonders of the world.
© 2014 Seth Greenwald