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Rainy Day People: Be An Encourager to Others

A little encouragement can move you from despair to exultation.

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After I received an MBA from the University of Connecticut, I was immediately hired by Burroughs Business Systems, which ultimately became Unisys. I ended up leaving in a little less than one year because I was not enthusiastic about what the company provided, my current role, and my long-term prospects with them.

When I departed Burroughs, in the late spring I had no job prospects but I felt confident that I could find something easily. After all, I got hired right out of graduate school. At that time, I didn’t understand that it’s unwise to leave one salaried position for another unless you already have that other one lined up.

From Desperation to Despair

After six interminable months, and more than 300 resumes mailed, I was in despair. Long before the availability of the Internet it was costly to job seek. For sure, I had gone on a few interviews here and there, but had no real prospects, during all those months. Then, one emerged – a small consulting firm of six people. It was perfect for me.

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Miraculously, the company, in the Vernon CT was one mile from my rented house. I had an interview with the company president, the interview went exceedingly well, and by all indications I felt certain that he would call me back within the week to make a job offer.

When that first week passed, I felt a bit disheartened, but still confident because of how well the interview had gone. Then, somehow, another week passed. Meanwhile, I was running low on funds. With no other prospects emerging, things were getting bleak, and I was nearly out of options.

Shut Out and Shivering

Friday afternoon, as the third week was about to pass, I was lying on my bed staring up at the ceiling. This December day was shivering cold, completely gray, with a constant down pour. My father, who was the vice principal at a junior high school in Hartford, gave me a call after he got out of school at 3:30 as he was eager as well for news about the job.

“No word,” I said, “and it’s been three weeks, so I think this is a lost cause.” He told me, in his characteristic way, that if I haven’t heard “no” the possibility is still open. He said they might have not called me back yet for any number of reasons. Then, ever the encourager, my father suggested that I get dressed and visit the company this afternoon.

I thought this was going way too far, but what else did I have brewing…

Full Speed Ahead

Fortified by my father’s words, I took a shower, put on my best suit, and drove the one mile. It was now 4:30 with the downpour continuing, on this shivering day.

I took the elevator to the third floor where the company was located, opened the door, and saw the receptionist. To my surprise, she remembered me. I asked to see the company president. She said, “Do you have an appointment?”

“No.”

“Is he expecting you?”

“No.”

She said, “Let me page him and see if maybe he has a few minutes.” She was on the phone briefly and then said to me, “Have a seat, he’ll be out in a few minutes.” So, in this tiny reception room, I sat in the only visitor’s chair. Time passed, and I’m wondering if he’s going to regard me as a fruitcake for appearing unannounced on a day like this.

Finally, he appeared. He greeted me and bade me come into his office. We spoke for quite a while and the conversation went as well as it had the first time. He told me he had been on the fence for two reasons: first, he was waiting to land a large contract and second, he had never hired someone as young as me, but my demonstrated tenacity, by returning to the office was admirable.

By now, despite the downpour, you could tell that everyone else in the firm had gone home for the weekend. The place was completely silent, but I left the office aglow: I was hired that afternoon.

Encouragement is Priceless

May 13th is the birthday of my father, now long departed, who resides in my heart for evermore.

The people in our lives do make a difference and can help mitigate our self-doubt. I went from personal, professional, and financial despair, six months in the making, to landing my ideal long-term career position only 90 minutes later, because of my father’s encouragement.

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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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Bite-Sized Motivation

The insights or wisdom we need to get us going often don’t have to be more than a few words

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I’ve spoken to 1075 audiences at conventions, conferences, and meetings, and have had the opportunity to hear probably 800 other speakers as well.

The insights, perspectives, or wisdom we need, to get us going often don’t have to be more than a few words. Here are 52 of my own six word “speeches,” drawn from my keynotes and breakout session on the topic of work-life balance. Some of these likely will resonate with you:

Choose from what you already have.
Everyone needs breathing space, especially you.
Information overload obscures meaning and relevance.
Deep breathes are essential for well-being.

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Make every day an organized day.
Allow your natural rhythms to rule.
Stay confident and in control daily.
Manage your time, manage your life.

Slow down to plot your course.
Look for the best in others.
Make yourself indispensable on the job.
Compete with yourself, not with others.

Learn to take control of today.
Manage your time to make time.
Take control of your desk clutter.
You’re the best when you’re fresh.

Do something to take control now.
Major projects often require a jumpstart.
Methodically pare down your paper piles.
Don’t attempt too much at once.

Evaluate your situation and what’s important.
Narrow your priorities to stay focused.
Avoid making promises you can’t keep.
Learn to embrace your many talents.

Take the time to become organized.
Become aware of how you react.
Arrange your space; help isn’t coming.
Manage the flat surfaces in life.

Periodically challenge yourself to perform better.
Take long, deep breaths as needed.
Reclaim your places, spaces, and graces.
Start big projects well in advance.

Don’t rush the truly important things.
Make the best use of today.
Schedule accordingly: plan for your future.
Be kind, cut yourself some slack.

Opportunity knocks, but are you answering?
Conventional wisdom has diminishing value.
When practical, substitute time for money.
The market for top talent lives.

The self-reliant survive and thrive.
Leadership requires forethought and super-vision.
Learn from and capitalize on mistakes.
Firmly face the future with confidence.

“Now” holds a lot of opportunity.
Control but don’t curb your enthusiasm.
Treading water won’t propel you forward.
Have you ever really tested yourself?

Life goes on; do your best.
Continually seek out the higher ground.
Luck is distributed evenly, but disguised.
You must be doing something right.

 


 

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Work-Life Balance in Your Life

It the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life

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Work-life balance (WLB) is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life with sufficient leisure. WLB, also referred to by some as work-life harmony, work-life shift, work-life blend, work-life effectiveness, or work-life integration, requires focus and awareness despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for our time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having what I call “breathing space” for yourself each day, feeling a sense of accomplishment while not being consumed by work, and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. WLB is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within the course of a day and a week, and however many years you have left in your life.

Supporting Disciplines

Several disciplines support work-life balance though, individually, none are synonymous with work-life balance:

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1) Self Management

Sufficiently managing one’s self can be challenging, particularly in getting proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Self-management is the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that life, time, and available resources are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.

2) Time Management

Effective time management involves making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you can only keep pace when your resources match your challenges. Time management is enhanced through appropriate goals and discerning what is both important and urgent, versus important OR urgent. It entails understanding what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.

3) Stress Management

By nature, societies tend to become more complex over time. In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, noise, and distractions, independent of one’s individual circumstances, require each of us to become more adept at maintaining tranquility and being able to work ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, while focusing on one thing at a time helps decrease stress.

4) Change Management

In our fast-paced world, change is virtually the only constant. Continually adopting new methods, adapting old, and re-adapting all methods is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves offering periodic and concerted efforts so that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.

5) Technology Management

Effectively managing technology requires ensuring that technology serves you, rather than abuses you. Technology has always been with us, since the first walking stick, spear, flint, and wheel. Today, the rate of technological change is accelerating, brought on by vendors seeking expanding market share. Often you have no choice but to keep up with the technological Joneses, but rule technology, don’t let it rule you.

6) Leisure Management

The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges 1) the importance of rest and relaxation, 2) that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience, and 3) that one can’t indefinitely short-change leisure without repercussions. Curiously, too much of the same leisure activity, however enjoyable, can lead to monotony. Thus, effective leisure management requires varying one’s activities.

Entirely Achievable

Achieving work-life balance does not require radical changes in what you do. It is about developing fresh perspectives and sensible, actionable solutions that are appropriate for you. It is fully engaging in life with what you have, right where you are, smack dab in the ever-changing dynamics of your existence.

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