How to manage Decision Fatigue?

Decision Fatigue

Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment. – Dale Carnegie

We find it relatively easy to recognize physical fatigue, for example whilst moving house we lifted boxes all day hence we are physically tired. This easy link between cause and effect makes it fairly straight forward to see and accept the way to address the situation i.e. we need to sit down and rest. However it is much harder to recognize and accept the existence of mental fatigue because it is harder to link cause and effect. Whilst it is relatively easy to gauge and judge our physical energy levels, the same can not be said for our mental energy.  For example most people have some idea of how far they walk each day and hence have a gauge for what would be their distance limit they could walk in a day but we generally have absolutely no idea of what types of decisions our brain makes daily, let alone how can how many decisions are brain is capable of processing in a day and whilst still performing at optimum level. However we should as decision fatigue is real and can be a trigger for losing a sense of control and bringing on stress. Continue reading “How to manage Decision Fatigue?”

Synergise the right and left side of the brain

Synergize the right and left side of your brain.

Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. – Stephen Covey

There are many debates about how correct it is to divide the functions of the brain into two broad functions, with the left being the side which processes our logical thoughts and the right our creative and empathetic. However for the purpose of this step, I am going to avoid getting bogged down in how accurate this clear distinction of left and right processing is in favor of using this separation as a way of emphasizing that greatness lies in the moment you imagessynergize your logical plans with creative empathetic carrying-out. Our left side to the brain is our intelligence quotient (IQ), the part of our brain that determines how we analyze info and how we plan out processes. It helps us interpret our environment in block and stages and provides us with a functional approach to issues and problems. In a work sense this “left” logical side is the part which we use to plan out our success and to structure how this will be achieved. The right side meanwhile is our emotional quotient (EQ), the part of our brain we most use to understand how we feel whilst experiencing the moment. It allows us to emphasize with individuals, flow our thoughts creatively and find human meaning in the reasons why we feel certain things. In a work sense this “right”, creative and emphatic side, is the part which we most use when experiencing a work moment, our mood and reaction (positive or negative) are controlled in this area. To get optimum results at work we should be planning and structuring our days and work with the left side of our brain but acting it out and living it with our right. Continue reading “Synergise the right and left side of the brain”

Identifying the real root of problems

Root of the problem

The core of the problem is found in the roots.

In medicine, it’s easy to understand the difference between treating the symptoms and curing the condition. A broken wrist, for example, really hurts! But painkillers will only take away the symptoms; you’ll need a different treatment to help your bones heal properly. However when it is a problem at work, we often are much less prone to differentiate between treating symptoms (the results of a problem in front of us) and resolving the actual cause of the problem. Too many leaders are stuck in quadrant I management where they race from one apparent “emergency” to another addressing the symptoms of problems without making time: to stop, think and identify and then address the root of their reoccurring problems. Addressing the results of a situation is a needed short term plaster, however, quadrant II analysis to work out why it happened and what can be done to prevent its re-occurrence, is the long term solution for real leaders. Continue reading “Identifying the real root of problems”

The power of admitting a weakness and that you’re wrong


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The journey towards gaining respect begins the moment we recognize our mistakes and have the integrity and fortitude to admit we were wrong.

From many years of interviewing candidates, I have learned that the key answer to the questions about “qualities” are not the ones that ask candidates to name what strengths they have to do the position well, but rather are the ones that ask them about their weaknesses. How well a candidate answers the weakness question tells you a lot about who they are and what integrity and fortitude they have as it takes strength of character to admit weakness and intelligence to identify it. It is thus the case that one of the biggest strengths people can have is the capacity to understand and recognize our own weaknesses. This self reflection and honesty about difficulties and struggles we have naturally leads onto the ability to work on and improve in or make up for weaknesses, a vital skill in the work place. Ownership of weaknesses and mistakes is one of the key parts of the inside out mentality.

Recognizing ones own weaknesses is one of the biggest strengths you can have.

Continue reading “The power of admitting a weakness and that you’re wrong”

Sharpen your saw: power of renewal and striving to be better.

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Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. – Abraham Lincoln.

Two lumber jacks agree to a race to see who can cut down a tree first. Both woodcutters start furiously sawing their equally thick trees but after 5 minutes, the second woodcutter stops and disappears. The first continues his fast pace without ever stopping and goes into an early lead. The second continues taking breaks and disappearing and over time the first lumber jacks pace slows, whilst the second renews the same fast pace each time he restarts sawing.  Eventually the second woodcutter successfully cuts down his tree winning easily. The first lumberjack is amazed and asks the second: “How can you win when you spent less time sawing your tree?”, “that’s obvious” replies the second: “I spent more time sharpening my saw!”. The moral of the story that the second woodcutter benefited both from taking a break and fine tuning his skills (in form of the saw), whilst apparently obvious, is one of the most common failings of busy people. Busy people often lose track of what they are doing and bounce about from one “emergency”  to another, working in  quadrant I constantly. They spend so much time being “busy” that they fail to value self-renewal and most significantly don’t make time to think about how to do things better. Continue reading “Sharpen your saw: power of renewal and striving to be better.”

The art of selling an idea

Art of selling an idea

Great leaders present their ideas as well as they lead people.

Great modern leaders are followed rather than obeyed. The time of command and control military style leadership in the work place is well behind us. There are many reasons why staff follow a certain leader but one of the most important is the ability to convince a team that you know best. Managers who cannot sell ideas find it hard to get their team to push in the same direction as they fail to create vital value alignment and staff buy in. Convincing people that you know best is needed both with macro factors: the mission of the company and your role as leader, as well as with micro daily attitudes of staff about their daily work. Each and every day managers are selling their opinion to staff in order to enable their team to be more productive. Continue reading “The art of selling an idea”

End each day with reflection

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How you end the day determines how well you start the next.

“Tomorrow is another day” Scarlett O’Hara famously said in Gone with the Wind, committing to make tomorrow different in order to save her family farm. The same attitude of each day being better, or more productive, should apply to our work. However too many managers fall into either surviving days or just getting by. In the first “firefighter” scenario, the manager pinballs between “emergencies” and in the latter the apathetic leader fails to implement the discipline habits needed to improve. In both scenarios time is not made for reflection and analysis and each day starts as it had an ended, pin-balling or with apathy, but what great leaders should be doing is ending the day with quadrant II reflection. Continue reading “End each day with reflection”

Establish success habits

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You don’t decide your future your habits do.

It might sound obvious to say one should have good work habits, yet most of us don’t do enough to establish these for our-self, let alone push our team to develop good ones. We often do even less to break bad ones. Habits are the micro disciplined actions that determine how our work days pan out. They are the actions we repeat because they serve a purpose to us to do so. Habits at work come in 3 forms: the good ones, the bad ones and those that don’t matter and many are work and responsibility specific, rather than just being universal. Continue reading “Establish success habits”

Seek to be respected over being liked

Respected over liked

Great leaders are like great parents: they nurture and care for their team but likewise they don’t cater to all their whims.

There are many ways to commit leadership suicide but perhaps one of the most repeated by young or inexperienced managers is confusing their own personal want to be liked with leadership’s need to be respected. No manager will succeed in leading people if they are disliked and feared, the days of military style leadership in the work place, that of command and control, are well behind us. However likewise seeking popularity as an objective of leadership is just as prone to failure as it is short cut to weakness. In the short term term you will be popular but in the long term when hard decisions are required you will fail. If the currency of leadership were popularity, you would either avoid difficult decisions and difficult conversations or have the way you deal with them clouded by your own personal need to be popular or liked. As a leader you have to get your team to want to follow you but this will come from being a respected, fair and effective leader, it will not come from seeking to be liked. Continue reading “Seek to be respected over being liked”

Understanding different communication channels

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Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.— Plato

There is no more important leadership skill than being an effective communicator. However being an effective communicator is one of the most challenging things for any manager. Human beings have developed so many ways of getting their msg across. What communicationsbegan first with hands signals and pictures, developed into thousands of spoken and written languages. Communication changed even further with the development of; mail service, the telephone, the internet, social media and text messaging to name but a few. Work communication went from being mainly face to face communication in the same location to modern international companies where workers communicate with each other and colleagues via handfuls of means from various points in the world. More communication channels however does not in itself equal better communication, it rather just means we have more opportunities to get our msg across in more instant and frequent ways but we still need to learn to use them well. Continue reading “Understanding different communication channels”