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Face Challenges Head On

Facing a challenging situation? Contemplate how to proceed, and take swift action

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As more people are out and about, you’ve got some decisions to make. Things in your life and likely in your work have changed since March, 2020.  You’re facing some challenges, and accompanying decisions, with a dwindling amount of time to move forward.

The late Earl Nightingale, renowned motivational speaker and author, once said you can’t get to second base if you won’t take your foot off first. You can’t attain what you want if you remain “one of the timid feeders in the lagoon” who fears to venture out into the deep blue sea.

Action is Invigorating

If you’re facing a challenging situation, after contemplating how you’re going to proceed, your next step, invariably, will be to take action:

* Use the phone now and call whomever you need to contact.
* Buy the plane, train, or boat ticket and meet the people you need to see.

If your challenge involves spending money, review your budget and if you have the means, move the requisite funds into place. If you don’t have adequate funds, list possible ways to help you acquire them.

Identify things that are no longer valid or in the way. Then, without remorse, remove them from your life. If you need motivation, announce your intentions to somebody else, or commit yourself on paper.

Deadly Sin or Divine Aspiration

Like clockwork, when you decide to tackle a challenge, someone will come along and try to tell you not to do it. That someone could be a board member, a key staff person, a vendor, or one of your long term members

“It can’t be done.”
“It shouldn’t be done.”
“You can’t do it.”
“You shouldn’t do it.”
“You’re going to fail.”

Don’t be surprised if you hear these kinds of admonitions. The typical person dislikes change, doesn’t see the possibilities that you see, and can’t envision a successful conclusion. Hence, you can’t take a quick survey of others and expect any meaningful input.

It is valuable, however, if trusted peers point out specific hazards to your goals. For example, if others can offer relevant, factual information that you need to know to fully understand what it will take to achieve your goals, then more power to them and to you.

If you understand the impediments that you face, you’re better off than if you proceed blindly. When you understand the pitfalls and still commit to proceeding full speed ahead, then the choice is indeed yours, and it’s a grand one.

Let’s Get Unreasonable

Some say that nothing of lasting value is accomplished by reasonable men (and of course, women too). It is the unreasonable people — the discontented, the dreamers who still keep their feet firmly planted on solid ground, or the visionaries — who improve peoples’ lives, or, in rare instances, help to advance society.

The reasonable man or woman can talk himself or herself out of anything, no matter how great the merit of the venture or cause. You probably could stand to be bit more unreasonable when it comes to your challenges.

Don’t Take on too Much at Once

Concurrently, executives and high achievers in general face the problem of taking on too much. They’ve been so effective at accomplishing things in the course of their career that they start to think they are capable of accomplishing even more. Their productivity causes these otherwise worthy individuals to create longer and more involved to-do lists than the rest of us.

Many people unconsciously ensure that they’ll never get to the end of their list by continuously adding more tasks after accomplishing even just a few. Over-achievers seem to derive some kind of motivation from never completing everything on the list for a given day.

This kind of approach to managing one’s to-do list is fraught with problems. It is both rewarding and appropriate when you cross off everything on your list and feel complete about your achievements. When you’re able to finish your lists 2 to 4 times a week, you actually come back to work the next morning with more energy, focus, and direction than you might presume.

Completions Yield Satisfaction

Conversely, when you leave the office with unfinished tasks for that day’s to-do list, you unconsciously engender a situation in which you never quite feel complete or satisfied, and you find yourself in a perpetual “striving” mode.

In the short run, it’s okay to leave unfinished tasks, especially when you’re on a specific campaign or project. In the long run, however, continuously over-extending your daily to-do list can have a harmful, de-motivating effect on your life.

It’s understandable that highly ambitious career types want to achieve as much as they can and, if employed by others, desire to greatly benefit their organization.

If you’re not careful, however, and you attempt to accomplish one major task after another instead of alternating large and small tasks, your productivity will actually suffer, as trying to tackle one major task after another can be mindnumbing.

Keen Choices

So, choose to tackle a handful of key tasks each day, alternating them with minor tasks so that you can maintain a fairly high level of energy and allow yourself to leave the workplace with a sense of completion.

You’ll work more effectively the next day, as well as throughout the course of your week, month, year, and career. You’ll engender a most definite sense of accomplishment while experiencing, at the least, recurring feelings of work-life balance.

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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

William Randolph Hearst: His Role is in American Progressivism

The origins of today’s Leftist, slanted news can be traced in part to William Randolph Hearst

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The origins of today’s Leftist, slanted news can be traced in part to William Randolph Hearst. Here are notes and excerpts from William Randolph Hearst: His Role is in American Progressivism, by Roy Everett Littlefield, published by University Press of America, in 1960.

▪ Historians and journalists alike [remember, this is only up until to 1959], have been harsh on Hearst’s sensationalism. One wrote that his papers were inferior to others because he had a disregard for the truth. The purpose of a Hearst newspaper was to “splash sensation” that would “paralyze” the public.

▪ A critic wrote, “in the strict sense, the Hearst papers aren’t newspapers at all. They were printed entertainment and excitement.”

▪ Another critic said: “because Hearst fabricated news stories, his newspapers were as sensational, flamboyant, and irresponsible as any major newspaper ever published in America.”

▪ A fourth critic charged that Hearst, because of his lack of sincerity and intellectual honesty, did more to degrade the entire American press than anyone else in history.

Yellow Journalism

Yellow journalism refers to that which is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.

▪ One of Hearst’s closest advisors and friends for 39 years relished the role of yellow journalist by saying, “I am the yellowist journalist in the world.” He explained how he had artists make his type the largest and blackest of all newspapers. One time he printed, “WAR, SURE”, causing news boys to put the Journal on top of the pack and all the other papers on the bottom, which became the habit of news boys.

▪ Like Joseph Pulitzer, Hearst used large headlines and numerous illustrations to reach immigrants who were barely literate.

▪ The Hearst technique, common to all his papers, centered on getting the visual attention of the public. Hearst explained that the typical reader should be able to review the headline of a newspaper and get a reasonably clear and complete idea of the news of the day. The headline also served as an advertisement of the newspaper. Hearst employed wider columns, larger print, and darker type.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

One of Hearst’s key editors told his reporters, “There is no need ever to use a word of more than three syllables in a newspaper. Remember that a newspaper is mostly read by very busy people, or by very tired people, or by very uneducated people, none of whom are going to hunt up a dictionary to find out what you mean.”

▪ Hearst appealed to the lower classes’ baser instincts, and his sensationalistic journalism had its most spectacular hour in the times that led to the Spanish American War. From the start, Hearst and Pulitzer advocated every means possible to aid the rebels in the Spanish American War. Hearst used his newspaper as a vehicle to foment public sentiment for the war, and in this respect, single-handedly played one of the biggest roles in getting America into the war.

▪ A guiding Hearst principle: “Never forget that if you don’t hit a newspaper reader between the eyes with your first sentence, there is no reason to write a second.”

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Business

Making Smarter Decisions

How to make smarter decisions when you don’t have all the facts (which is nearly all the time)

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Annie Duke, a professional gambler, has written an intriguing book,  Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All The Facts. The text is great; I took a lot of notes and saved many excerpts:

Life choices we make are bets on a specific path, as distinct from a range of potential alternative futures. Job and relocation decisions are bets. Sales negotiations and contracts are bets. Buying a house is a bet. Ordering the chicken instead of the steak is a bet. Everything is a bet.

Ask someone, “Want to bet?” when they claim something to be true. It puts them in a different place than when they simply state what they believed to be true. Thinking in Bets can help us reshape our approach to the world, and improve all aspects of decision-making in our lives.

Overview

We humans are disastrously biased in our decision making. We fool ourselves into believing our beliefs whether they are worthy of our trust of not. Our biases systematically impede our decision-making.

Most people don’t actually think through their beliefs. They hear something from a source they hold in high esteem and then maintain that belief. Recognize when you’re in an “echo-chamber” where only viewpoints you’re currently comfortable with are expressed.

We are quick to form beliefs, tend towards absolutes (this is right, that is wrong), and indulge in “motivated reasoning,” seeking out confirmation while ignoring contradictory evidence. Believing is easy; we are wired to believe

Our beliefs impact how we view the world, then how we act, and how we plan for the future. We are loath to update our beliefs, especially when a change would be a challenge to our self-narrative. Our decision-making is only as good as the accuracy of our beliefs, which are hopelessly biased and often wrong.

Because our beliefs are based on past experiences and inputs, it is wise to be purposeful about the inputs and experiences that we have going forward as that will guide our future selves.

“Resulting”

We judge decisions based on how they turn out, known as “resulting,” in which we believe results indicate the quality of our decision: If we succeeded it was a good decision, but if we failed, it was a bad decision.

We guard our self-image via “self-serving bias,” which distorts our view of the world: We take credit for all good outcomes and blame bad luck for all bad outcomes, even when the truth is often shaded in grey.

Resulting ignores the role of luck. When a desired outcome doesn’t occur, it does not always mean it was a poor choice. It could have been bad luck. This insight moves us away from right-wrong thinking, and towards a probabilistic approach to interpreting outcomes, like betting in poker.

So, assess decisions on the basis of how they were made, not how they turned out You can win with a poor decision and lose with a good one. In the long run, it’s the decision-making process that counts.

Stop thinking in certainties and recognize probabilities, and avoid imagining situations as either-or. Most things lie along continuums.

Taking Action

Embrace uncertainty, by thinking in bets. Calibrate your confidence on a more granular level. Rather than say, “I know X with 100% certainty,” express a lesser confidence of, say, 65%. Calibrating preserves our self-narrative if we happen to be wrong, and it also makes us more credible.

Assess outcomes after the fact, through “outcome fielding.” Was an outcome driven by luck or skill, and in what combination? After winning a high profile tournament, for example, a poker player was focused not on basking in glory, but on de-constructing his play, and what he could have done better.

Practice tough love in the service of “truth-seeking.” No whining about how bad luck hurt us. No patting ourselves on the backs. Truth-seeking requires a special kind of contract with yourself.

Listen to arguments from all sides to get a clearer picture of the truth. Observe the world around you and learn from the choices that other people make by observing.

Create a group of individuals who can provide us with feedback on our weaknesses and blind spots. Focus on accuracy, accountability, and openness to diverse views. Court dissent and differing points of view, and take responsibility even when doing so is painful.

Strength in the Moment

We tend to act based on how we are affected right now, rather than how we will feel later. When we reach for that doughnut, rather than for a healthy apple, we’re doing so at the expense of our future self. Employ the 10-10-10 process: what are the consequences of each of my options in 10 minutes? 10 months? 10 years?

Finally, exercise caution after a streak of positive or negative outcomes to avoid becoming emotionally charged in a way that prevents us from thinking clearly.

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