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Anticipating Intrusions, and Flourishing Despite Them

When executing the items on your to-do list, proceed with the mindset that there will be an interruption of some sort

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Unquestionably, 2020 was one strange year and demonstrated to us all that generally, we can’t guard against unforeseen intrusions into our daily lives, but we can do our best with what we have.

Each day when you compose your to-do list and proceed merrily down it, do you pause and take into account what could occur in the course of that day? Leading up to, say, the height of the tax season, or months away from it, no matter how well we organize our lists and how productive we are in handling the products and tasks, nevertheless, unexpected obligations, interruptions, and other developments arise that are going to throw us off.

How do you react when you are humming along, and all of a sudden, you receive an assignment from out of left field? Perhaps your boss has asked you to jump on something immediately. Maybe a client calls. Maybe something gets returned to you that you thought was complete.

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Proceed and Succeed

If you’re like most people, you immediately will become flustered. The intrusion on your time and your progress means that you are not going to accomplish all that you set out to before the end of the day.

Is there a way to proceed and still feel good about all that you accomplish? I believe that there is, and it involves first making a miniature, supplemental to-do list that accurately encapsulates the new task that you need to handle.

Why create this supplemental to-do list? It gives you focus and direction, reduces anxiety, and increases the probability that you will remain buoyant at the time of its completion and be able to turn back to what you were doing before the task was assigned.

If you don’t compose such a list, and simply plow headlong into the unexpected challenge that has come your way, you might not proceed effectively, and you might never get back to the to-do list on which you were working.

Allowing for the Unexpected

Unforeseen tasks that arise represent more than intrusions on our time; they represent intrusions on our mental and emotional state of being. Some people are naturally good at handling unexpected situations. Most of us, however, are not wired like this.

Interruptions and intrusions on our workday take us off the path that we wanted to follow, and tend to be at least momentarily upsetting.

So, when executing the items on your to-do list, proceed with the mindset that there will be an interruption of some sort. You don’t know when it is coming or how large it will be, but it will pull you off course. The key question for you is: can you develop the capacity to maintain balance and equanimity in the face of such disruptions?

The good news is that you surely can, and it all starts with acknowledging that the situation is likely to happen, devising a supplemental checklist to handle the new task, and as deftly as possible, returning to what you were doing.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Business

Get Coached, Get Better

If you feel as if your career progression is not sufficent, you likely need a career coach

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No boss, coworker, peer, spouse, parent, relative, friend, or anyone else, will accompany you through each job. You alone will be with yourself every step of your career journey; you’re it! You’re the only one who can increase the your career prospects, the quality of your relationships, your self-confidence, and your peace of mind.

Work With a Coach

I was fortunate early in my career to recognize the need to retain a career coach. In a nutshell, a career coach can help:

* diagnose and sort out your situation and opportunities

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* offer new strategies for coping with office politics and competition from other firms

* show you vital stress management skills

* discover or capitalize on new opportunities

A good coach provides new tools to chart your goals and career path, and improve communication. Your career coach can be your positive personal, behind-the-scenes confidant, consultant, and resource.

The Benefit From a Career Coach

If you lack self-confidence, or feel as if your career progression is not on the right track, or are faced with any of the following, then it’s likely you need a career coach:

1. Organizational changes within your organization especially if they have a direct impact on you.

2. Acquisitions or mergers.

3. Expansion into new markets.

4. Diversification into new products or services.

5. Increased competition to your firm from other firms trying to take over your market share.

6. Increased management or supervisory responsibility.

7. Increased leadership opportunities.

8. A recent or soon-to-be available promotion.

9. A new boss, or leadership shake-up above you.

10. Changes in your role or assignments within your company.

11. In-company competition and power plays, corporate intrigue, jockeying for position, or turf protection.

12. Blockades of your progress by internal feuds or informal political processes.

13. Increased media exposure or public speaking requirements.

14. Increased production or sales quotas.

15. A new project you must lead or participate in developing.

For several years I worked with a career coach – we met only once quarterly for two hours but I would depart supercharged.

An Employment Contract

You coach might be able to guide you on the topic of employment contracts. The notion of generating an employment contract has been around for decades, yet most career professionals to this day know what an employment contract is, how to draw one up, or how to ensure that they only work with a contract in force.

Among other things, my coach advised me on the importance of establishing a contract. When I first heard this, I was amazed. “You mean that I am to march into my boss’s office and suggest that we develop a contract that defines both the company’s and my responsibilities over the next twelve months?” Yes. Exactly!

In all industries, the most valuable people work with a contract. This is true in the NBA, Fortune 500 companies; philanthropic groups; the highest levels of government; and civic, social, and charitable organizations. The top talent works under an employment contract.

A Huge Boost

Among other things, having an employment contract is a great confidence booster. Essentially, it defines your working conditions for the length of a specified term. It establishes your compensation rate. It practically secures your employment.

What’s more, the contract enhances your confidence while you’re writing it, and it gives you practice in assertiveness. This occurs when you first introduce the subject with your prospective or current employer and when you actually conduct the session to consummate the contract negotiation.

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Business

Hear Me Roar

Top achievers are not dramatically different from you or me; they have useful skills and outlooks …that we can acquire

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Deborah Benton, author of Lions Don’t Need to Roar, is a leadership expert. She has observed hundreds of CEOs, COOs, and company presidents, seeking to find what enables them to accomplish so much.

In her book, she notes that while it’s essential to exhibit competence in one’s position, inspire confidence in others, act accordingly at business functions, and become adept at maneuvering within the firm, it takes something more to make it to the top as a strong leader.

Benton says, “Top people are not magical, blessed, or dramatically different from you or me. They simply have skills and outlooks that the rest of us don’t have, but can get.” Here are some important tips for those who seek to stand out as strong leaders within their organizations:

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Continually Explore New Options

With al of the advances in every profession and the new forms of competition springing from everywhere, to “coast” today is to “roast.” Top achievers in every profession understand that staying put can be risky, so they take decisive action.

In their book, Surfing the Edge of Chaos: The Laws of Nature and the New Laws of Business, authors Richard Pascale, Mark Millemann, and Linda Gioja argue that “equilibrium is a precursor to death.”

The individuals who get things done have the guts to speak in front of others and take calculated risks (recognizing that the experience will be invaluable).

Could this mean that on the path to high achievement, now and then you’re going to fail? The notion of taking calculated risks runs deep among the career achievers.

Be a People Person

A popular stereotype holds that high-achievers tend to be stodgy types. However, Benton finds the situation to be the opposite. Such career professionals laugh and smile often, are fond of telling stories (as long as they convey a point), and know how and when to physically touch others.

They’re also well-skilled in the ability to ask for favors, and they realize how important that makes others feel.

Regardless of how much society advances technologically, those individuals who stand out as strong leaders will take risks, learn from errors, and advance because of their strong ability to interact with others.

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