Do You Reflect More Than You Act?

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Earlier this week, I found myself talking with the chief of staff to the chief executive at a large company. The two of them had been on the road together for four consecutive weeks. I asked how that felt. “It’s brutal,” he said. “But it’s typical. My boss essentially has no openings on his schedule for the next three months.”

Think about that for a moment:

This executive had no times at work when he could just breathe deep and relax for a half hour, nor could he step back after a key meeting and quietly metabolize what had just happened or look forward and muse about strategy. He could not simply wander through his office, talking to people about what they’re doing, in order to energize and enrich them, and himself.

It’s not possible to move from one activity to the next at blinding speed and be reflective at the same time. The more complex and demanding the work we do, the wider, deeper and longer the perspective we require to do it well. It’s almost impossible to do that when we create no white space in our lives.

By wider, I mean taking into account the practical effect an action is likely to have on the full range of people affected by it. By deeper, I mean considering the emotional impact the action is likely to have. And by longer, I mean thinking not just about its immediate consequences, but also its implications over time.

Consider this observation from President Obama, caught on an open mike during a stroll with Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain in 2008:

“The most important thing you need to do [in this job] is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you’re doing is thinking.”

Judgment is grounded in discernment, subtlety and nuance. “I don’t do nuance,” George W. Bush once famously said about his approach to foreign policy. But would that he had. We might have avoided a costly and unnecessary war.

Instead, we too often view the opposite of “doing” as “not doing,” and then demonize inaction. In fact, good judgment grows out of reflection, and reflection requires the sort of quiet time that gets crowded out by the next demand.

There are occasions when our first intuitive judgment is the best one – or at least moves the ball forward – but even then it makes sense to revisit decisions as new facts arise. To reflect literally means to throw light back.

The folks at Google have made a mantra out of “iterating.” They push new products out, even when they know they’re imperfect, and then constantly improve them over time. Rethinking, reconsidering, and even reimagining are built into the process.

Regular reflection also provides the space in which to decide what not to do. At the companies I visit, no topic comes up more frequently than prioritizing. It’s as though we’ve all finally recognized that there is no way to accomplish everything we’ve got on our plates – but we still haven’t figured out how to take anything off them. Time to reflect is what makes it possible to prioritize.

Instead, we keep adding new tasks, defaulting to whatever feels most urgent in the moment, while unfinished business piles up. I can’t help thinking of the classic “I Love Lucy” episode in which Lucy and Ethel are overwhelmed trying to wrap the chocolates that just keep coming at them on an assembly line.

One of the most important vehicles I use to ensure that I both reflect and prioritize is an old-fashioned handwritten to-do list, with a twist. I use it to download everything that’s on my mind – not just calls to make and emails to send, but also ideas I want to explore, conflicts I haven’t resolved, and longer-term projects I intend to pursue.

When I can’t decide whether something is worth my time, I try to stop and answer two reflective questions – a task that ends up saving rather than costing time.

1. Could someone else do this just as well or better than I can? If so, I try to turn it over.

2. Is the time and energy I invest going to produce anything I’ll still consider worth having done a month from now?

We need less conventional wisdom and more genuine wisdom; less sheer output and more insights that add enduring value.


 Source: Smart Brief

Author: Tony Schwartz “More Reflection, Less Action”

Link: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/02/14/more-reflection-less-action/?_php=true&_type=blogs&pagewanted=all&_r=0

Are You Clicking On Or Creating Your Future?

An interesting observation about the “employment industry” is that the least talked about type of employment is self-employment. There is endless media coverage on high unemployment rates, the slowly recovering economy, and lack of viable employment, but almost zero TV coverage on the recent rise of self-employment since economic recession.

While the recession caused massive layoffs, it also freed individuals to finally pursue their passion. Some people were just sick and tired of applying for job, after job, after job with little to show after hours of submitting applications. They simple channeled that frustration and desperation into good, old-fashioned American ingenuity. Some people just stopped clicking apply and started creating! People finally had more time on their hands and more space in their mind to think about how they could truly make a difference in their communities, or for some, the world.

This effect according to study done at University of Missouri is known as “Necessity Entrepreneurship.” I find this type entrepreneurial spirit absolutely inspiring because it shows the resiliency, character, and creativity we have as humans. It may seem intimidating or overwhelming at first, but if you really are tired of clicking on “apply here” than tap into your other skills and talents to work for yourself!

Job Creation

As the Founder & CEO of an online staffing company it may seem contradictory to be promoting self-employment, but almost all entrepreneurs worked for someone at some point in their life. Prior to starting my own company I had worked for and learned from others since I was about 15 years old. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for the education, training, and communication skills I received from all of the places I had worked. One experience builds on another; it’s all part of the journey.

I see so many individuals who have been out of work for over 12 months. It could be sign to start a new path on your career journey! There is a bit of a myth about self-employment, that you have to be the most educated, tech savvy, or financially stable. However, given the rise of self-employment in the harshest economic climate since the Great Depression it’s safe to say that ANYONE has the ability to triumph over circumstance and CREATE their own destiny! What are you waiting for?

Mindfully Removing the Roadblocks Along the Path to Success

This article was originally written for Good News Magazine.

Things always move much faster in my head than they do in real life, especially when working out the details of my startup company. I find myself often praying or in meditation to slow down my mind and remind myself that this is truly a journey not a race. Despite the hiccups, external circumstances, and eccentric working hours, I feel the battle starts and ends in my mind.

Take last week for example; I was second-guessing the concept for my marketing video. The inspiration for my company began over a year ago, and I have spent months mulling over every feature of my website. The video is the first tangible representation of the concept in my head; therefore it had to be just perfect. Entrepreneurs have a strong affinity for the things we create, but sometimes once our creation is passed into the hands of others or is finally released to the public we have a brief moment of doubt. We are haunted by questions such as “will this work?” or “will people like it?” As these thoughts flooded my mind when I saw the video for the first time I almost got to the point of scrapping the idea all together! After my miniature panic attack I realized my reason for doubt was because I had placed such high expectations on the video.

I recalled an article that talked about the psychological stresses most entrepreneurs face in the early stages of building their company. It takes a strong mental ability and courage to KEEP GOING past the obstacles created by the mind. It requires daily renewing to continue to press forward. Once I had a moment of reflection on that article I immediately begin to meditate to silence my worry and doubts.

The most effective way to remove roadblocks is to begin to become aware of when you’re approaching them. When you feel them on your radar, step back from whatever it is you’re doing and pause. Breathe. Ask yourself, what exactly is causing me to feel this way? By taking immediate action you’ll be better able to avoid the hazards of self-doubt and negativity. Giving yourself a little pep talk helps too!

Once I felt mentally focused again I revisited the task of editing the video and did exactly the opposite of what my mind was trying to tell me not to do. I let other people see and emailed out the unedited version and welcomed the critics. Then I walked away from my computer, went to lunch, and allowed my mind to relax while everyone replied back. Later that evening I read the reviews and was extremely excited about all the positive feedback and constructive criticism. I gathered everyone’s opinions and sent it off to the producers for the final production.

The biggest obstacles are not things that exist in the world or our circumstances; they’re not a lack of resources, or even errors we make. The biggest obstacles are most often our own thoughts, self-doubt, and negativity. We allow ourselves to stand in our own way. The roadblocks to success truly begin and end in the mind.

I’m reminded of a quote by Marianne Williamson, “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.”

Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right

Tamar Lucien is the CEO and Founder of CanUStart2Day, a revolutionary staffing movement that combines the concept of traditional job boards and recruiting techniques into one online cloud-based technology. Connect with Tamar on LinkedIn or follow her journey on Facebook and Twitter @CanUStart2Day.