Rip the Band-Aid Off

My manager recently sat down with me and expressed concern that I just didn’t seem like myself lately. She said I hadn’t seemed as happy and carefree as usual over the last few weeks. And she was worried it might be rubbing off on others.

Her concern was completely fair, and I think we got to the bottom of it:

In the last few weeks, there had been several projects I was working on–very sensitive projects with pretty delicate implications, so I was pretty pressured to get things just right.

More importantly, the projects were putting me in direct, daily contact with some very unhappy and uncooperative third parties.

On top of that, the projects were dragging on and on and on, and there was little I could do to fix the situations.

So I would get to work and look for this or that easy thing that needed to be done, and just hold off on dealing with the crappy stuff until later in the day. Like I was in a sort of denial–thinking maybe it would all just disappear if I waited long enough.

But it meant I was on edge a lot. It meant I was not looking forward to the rest of the day, I was dreading it. And clearly, it showed.

 

Here’s what I could have done differently: I could have ripped the band-aid off!

I should have known. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my managers say exactly that–very applicable to our line of work: “Just rip it off!”

That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from the last month or two of work. Think of it this way:

Remember being a little kid with a band-aid over your cut? After a day, you’d go to pull it off, and maaaan did it hurt!!! You’d timidly take a corner and slowly pull it back, bit by bit, millimeter by millimeter, willing the pain to subside. And with every microscopic hair that snapped, you’d clench your fists and fight your tears a little more. Surely, if you did it a little slower, it wouldn’t hurt so darn bad!!!

Then out of nowhere your mommy would reach in and grab the band-aid. You screamed in terror, but she ripped it off anyway. Fast.

… AND THE PAIN WAS GONE!

 

I promise that if you apply the same principle to your daily work, things will be easier and happier and you’ll be more productive. That’s what I’ve found over the last couple weeks.

If you have something painful to do, don’t wait: Get it over with right away!

If you do rip the band-aid off, you get to focus on good stuff the rest of the day. If you don’t, you get to dread the crappy part.

If you do rip the band-aid off, the happier you works faster and gets more done. If you don’t, you subconsciously procrastinate as long as you can.

If you do rip the band-aid off, the people around you don’t get rain-cloud vibes from you. If you don’t, your team mates will know you really just feel like going home.

 

But that lesson isn’t just about your job: Where else in your life do you need to rip a band-aid off? Is it a conversation you need to have? A habit you need to stop?

If you did just rip the band-aid off, don’t you think it would make you happier, more energetic, and more productive?

What band-aid have you ripped off recently? And which one do you know has got to go next?

5 Reasons You Should Show Up First

Whether you’re salaried and can start work when you want, or you’re required to wait till a certain time to punch in and start your real work, arriving at work bright (or dark) and early has some serious benefits. It can be the difference between a great day and an awful one.

Here are 5 reasons I try to be one of the first people in the office every day.

early morning

1. The office mood isn’t already decided when you get there.

This is the biggest one for me. You probably know the feeling all too well of walking in the door and feeling a shadow–you know something has already gone wrong. Maybe someone just woke up on the wrong side of bed. Or someone just got a bad review or a bunch more thrown into their work load. Maybe a couple co-workers have already butted heads. Whatever it is, everyone’s grumpy.

It’s really hard to walk in to bad vibes and stay positive and energized.

On the other hand, if you can be there to start everyone’s day off with a smile and some positive energy, you can help set a positive mood for the office–start everyone’s day with a smile.

2. Never racing the clock eliminates a lot of stress.

Whether you’re required to be there right on the hour, or showing up shortly after is frowned upon–making it just in time comes with a lot of stress. Every red light or slow driver frustrates you to no end. And if you’re pushing it too close, you spend your entire commute coming up with excuses (for your boss and for yourself).

Deciding to just get there well before you have to every day immediately eliminates all that stress. You’re never racing the clock, red lights, and slow drivers. Your day doesn’t automatically start with stressing and excusing. It starts with a nice, relaxing drive.

Heck, roll your windows down and chill. You have nowhere to be fast.

3. You get a ton of work done before distractions.

Especially if you work closely with a team, or if you work in close quarters with others, you can get double or triple the work done while nobody’s there to distract you yet. Adding just one hour of working before you have to interact might be a sacrifice, but it can mean getting literally twice the work done in one day. And that’s the kind of productivity that leads to pay raises and promotions.

If you’re not salaried, and you’re not legally allowed to start working before you’re supposed to clock in, showing up early still helps: Dedicate some time to your own development. Start the day off strong by reflecting on your accomplishments and areas of opportunity. Set some goals for your day. Read a chapter from an industry-related book. Whether it’s official “work” or not, dedicate some extra time every morning to your success.

4. People see you as dependable and hard-working.

When you get there and get started before the crowd, people naturally start seeing you as a diligent and hard-working person. Your co-workers know you as the one who will always show up early and ready. Your boss will never have to worry that you’ll show up late.

If people see you putting in extra, going above and beyond, they will be impressed. They’ll talk about it. They’ll see it as a good example.

You need to be known for your diligence. Opportunities will start throwing themselves at you.

5. You trick your brain into enthusiasm.

Finally, being the first one to work tricks your brain into enthusiasm: If you show up early, people see you as a hard worker. When people see you as a hard worker, you feel like a hard worker. When you feel like a hard worker, it becomes a part of your identity. Suddenly, whether you intended to or not, you’ve tricked yourself into working harder.

It’s also hard to lead the charge in the morning and not be energized. Your brain just can’t make sense of showing up early AND dragging your feet and being grumpy. They’re not compatible. So don’t give your brain the option of picking laziness in the morning. Kick it into high gear by showing up early, and you’re just helping yourself be happier, healthier, and harder working.

The list could go on, so why don’t you share? What else do you think showing up early could do for your career and your character?

And where does this apply besides the office? Can you make a difference being the first one up with a positive attitude in your house every morning?

3 Questions You Should Ask Before Work Today

Stop what you’re doing and ask yourself these 3 questions.

What habit am I going to break today that will increase my success?

What personal trait am I going to focus on developing today that will increase my success?

What conversation am I going to have today that will increase my success?

Now write down your answers, bring them with you to work, and add those 3 items to your day’s agenda.

 

What if we wrote our to-do lists with the big picture in mind? What if they looked like this

  • Send 3 co-workers encouraging notes.
  • Stay off Facebook till 5PM.
  • Focus today on asking clients questions that uncover their decision-making process?

just as much as they look like this?

  • Finish writing reviews.
  • Call Mary back.
  • Make 5 prospecting calls.

 

Look at yesterday’s to-do list. Does it look like it was written by an ambitious and intentional visionary or by someone just hoping to maintain job security?

Are you working on getting through the day or are you working on becoming the happy, excellent, successful person you dream of being?

What Your Boss Really Hears

A recent review got me thinking. The way I talk to my bosses has changed a lot over the last few years. A lot. I’ve learned the hard way that speaking instinctively doesn’t work. Knee-jerk responses are rarely good strategy.

 

For example, when you say: “I couldn’t help it! I tried my best!”

Your boss really hears: “I can’t help failing in this situation, so I’ll fail again next time.”

“We can’t really help our numbers. We’ve inherited a tough situation.”

Really means: “You’ll have to find another employee who is solution-oriented, not problem-oriented.”

“This change sucks! I liked it the old way!”

“I’m focusing on what I’m losing, not on what I could gain from this. I’m going to be no help from now on.”

“I’m done with all my stuff–there’s nothing else I can do.”

“Don’t trust me to innovate and be independent. I can’t come up with any ideas of my own, and I’m blind to the fact that there’s always more that can be done.”

“I have so much going on, I totally forgot about that.”

“I’m not organized enough, so I’ll forget more things.”

“I’m just having one of those days, you know?”

“I don’t have enough self-control. You’re going to have to light a fire under me or find someone with a better work ethic.”

“Here’s what happened: [This, that, and the other thing] happened to me, so [bad thing] ended up happening.”

“I see myself as a victim of situations, so you cannot trust me to take responsibility and make sure the right thing happens from now on.”

“I just can’t work well with that person. I really don’t like him. He’s really annoying.”

“I’m not a team player, and I’m not very friendly.”

“I’m sorry about today, I just have a bunch of personal stuff going on.”

“I can’t keep work and personal issues separate. You can expect poor performance whenever personal issues come up.”

“I’m sorry, I keep sleeping through my alarm!”

“I can’t be bothered to go to bed earlier or get a louder alarm. You’re going to have to deal with it.”

“That’s not my job.”

“I will always insist on doing the bare minimum in my job description. You’re the manager, it’s your problem.”

“That’s way outside my comfort zone, is there someone else who can do it?”

“I don’t look for ways to grow. Surely you have a more valuable employee you can ask.”

“That’s impossible. Nobody can do that!”

“I’m too small for this task. You need a bigger person.”

 

It’s not that your boss can’t sympathize when you’re having a tough time. And it’s not that mistakes aren’t okay. The point is, taking ownership of  situations, mistakes, problems, challenges, results, for you and your team–that, and only that, communicates a positive message about you to your boss.

In fact, sometimes all it takes is adding one sentence, and your boss couldn’t be happier: “I have so much going on, I totally forgot about that.” Plus: “I’m sorry. I’ll get more organized today and make sure I’m keeping tabs on everything I need to get done.”

 

What else do you say, or hear your co-workers say, that really doesn’t get the results intended? How could you approach things differently?

Moral of the story: Before you open your mouth, listen to yourself from your leader’s perspective.

Do You Make These 5 Mistakes When Faced with Change?

How do you deal with change? It’s important to think about, because change will inevitably happen. And it seems the most natural response of almost everybody is to cry doom and gloom.

So what do you do when your organization rolls out changes?

Most people I’ve seen face organizational changes in strategies, goals, or systems, immediately fall into these 5 behaviors–behaviors that bring down themselves and their teams, and can even destroy entire organizations. The behaviors are based on an emotional, knee-jerk reaction of fear. Not on an ambitious spirit of practicality and innovation.

So if you do these things, stop.

 

Waste time being sad about the change: Using your time and energy to regret the changes, sitting around comparing the old with the new–it doesn’t help. All it does is demotivate you and make it that much harder to finally accept the change and move forward.

Instead, get absolutely pumped: Whether you agree with the change or not, big changes provide all kinds of big opportunities to shine. You can decide to quickly become one of your team’s MVPs by taking the lead and running with the change instead of giving up hope.

Tell your boss it’s not going to work: Your boss is already stressed out by the fact that he has to run a new system his people hate. Your boss might not like the change either, but more than anything he needs people to decide to run with it. Complain to your boss, and all he hears is, “I can’t and I won’t get results for you anymore.”

Instead, be your boss’s right hand man: Responding to change with an enthusiastic, “Let’s do this!” immediately makes you a huge asset to your boss. Not only does he not have to worry about you, he will trust you and give you more responsibilities and opportunities. You’re the first one on his new team.

Talk negatively about the change with your team: This one has the potential to do a lot more damage than any of the others, because it’s not just you who will suffer from it. Grand initiatives have been destroyed by grumbling employees. They demotivate each other, encourage insubordination, create a war with the leadership, and even tell customers and clients that something’s going wrong.

Instead, lead the positive chatter: Your success is directly tied to your team’s, so it is in your best interests not only to run with the change yourself, but also to get your doubting team on board as quick as you can. Speak only positively. Your loyalty will get you paid, you’ll be seen as a leader, and hopefully you’ll help get your team back on the right track.

Keep using the old system: It’s just stupid. And it’s mind-boggling how much people do it. If you’re not supposed to do it that way any more, don’t do it. Nobody is going to be proud of you and give you a raise.

Instead, make yourself a leading expert in the new system: Take advantage of the opportunity to become one of the first people to excel and get results with the change. Your team and leaders will need and appreciate you more.

Focus on what you’re losing: No amount of regret will get back whatever you liked about your old system. It’s gone. Focusing on what you’re losing will only bring you down.

Instead, figure out what you can gain and go get it! Hiding in the change are probably a lot of pluses nobody has thought about because they’re all busy being depressed. Learn the new system, figure out how you’re going to end up even better for it, and take action!

 

Even if you know better than the leaders who made the changes, there is absolutely nothing about undermining or criticizing your organization that will benefit you as long as you’re there. If you have to leave, leave. But as long as you’re there, take advantage of the opportunity to stand out and figure out how to make more money, do more for your resume, and get a better reputation out of the change.

(P.S. What if you applied the same ideas to your personal life???)