Accountability in Action: Taking Ownership of the Situations You Encounter

A company I’ve done work for provides a great example of this principle. This company’s employees are the people who close real estate transactions, the people who compile the mile-high stacks of documents that have to be signed by buyers and sellers at the closing table.

Several years ago, when interest rates went into a free for all, their business took off. That increase came from the thousands of homeowners who wanted to refinance their homes. During that “boom” the closers “didn’t have time” to maintain contact with their traditional sources of business, realtors.

And then the refinance craze was over. The pool of homeowners who were able and willing to refinance their homes dried up, and interest rates began climbing. I guess you could call this a situation the closers encountered. Some of them took ownership of that situation, and some didn’t.

Realizing that they could no longer rely on business coming to them, some closers began renewing their relationships with realtors. The ones who didn’t take ownership simply waited, wished and hoped for the real estate community to “come to their rescue”. The closers who took ownership of this situation still experienced dips in their business. But because of their timely, aggressive actions, those dips were relatively shallow and short-lived.

Here’s another way of describing this ownership principle:

Negative situations (setbacks and/or unexpected, unpleasant changes) provide excellent—but difficult opportunities for leaders to model accountability (take ownership).


Here are some suggestions for taking ownership of situations that you and your associates have encountered:

1. A situation does not have to be a crisis to justify your taking ownership. Remember, leaders don’t limit their attention to things that are “broke” and need to be “fixed”; they facilitate a Relentless Search for Better Ways

2. Identify 3-5 situations that you and your associates have encountered, ones that are either having some impact on your company or department’s requirements for success or could do so. Remember, they don’t have to be crises!

3. For each of those situations, complete the following steps:

  1. Specifically define the situation
  2. Describe the ways that the situation is impacting you, your associates and the requirements for your success, or the impacts it could have
  3. Identify the people who are most impacted by this situation—or the ones who are contributing to that situation
  4. List and define the benefits you would expect to derive from addressing the situation

4. Pick the situation you want to address and complete the following steps:

  1. The things that must be done in order to effectively address the situation
  2. The people whose efforts will be needed to do so

5. Invite those people to collaborate with you to create a plan for addressing that situation

A recognized leadership and accountability expert, Jim Bearden‘s many rich life experiences form the basis for his anecdotes, his humor and, most importantly, the insights he shares. He inspires people to step up to become better leaders and more engaged employees.

A Bronze Star Medal recipient, this former Marine officer has over three decades of speaking, mentoring and real-life business experience. Jim has delivered presentations for corporate audiences, trade and professional associations and government agencies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

True Leadership Faces a Serious Moral Problem

For the past three decades, I’ve been crisscrossing the country, speaking to large and small businesses and organizations on ethics and values. The vast majority of my audiences agree that embracing ethical behavior just makes good business sense. In fact, I can hardly think of more than one person who has ever disagreed with that premise. So after three decades with ethical problems still making headlines, I began to wonder, then, what’s the problem?

My answer is twofold: failed leadership and the lack of moral awareness.

Failed leadership

Failed leadership is not about leadership skill sets, how many degrees one has, one’s title or position. Failed leadership is about the lack of commitment, empowerment and transparency in the individual and therefore, in the organization.

The Skout Group, LLC, is a nationally known ethics resource company, and in their research case study, Getting Beyond the Numbers: How to Identify the Root Cause of Unethical Conduct, here’s what they conclude: “The heart of most unethical conduct, as well as lack of reporting violations, can be attributed to workers who feel alienated and disengaged. These negative attitudes crop up when employees can’t see or live their personal values in the workplace.”

Why haven’t leaders recognized this? What are leaders doing about employees who feel alienated and disengaged? This opens up a variety of compliance and ethics issues in and of itself.

Commitments are something that one needs to work on continually. This needs to be a concentrated focus of your ethics training, together with discussions on values of the organization and how to implement and live out that commitment in the everyday course of doing business.

In my experience and research, the biggest ethical leadership challenges today are:

  • Doing business day-to-day. That includes considering the long-term interests of customers, not just the short-term interests of the company.
  • Doing the right thing. If we were to expand that just a little bit more, doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason is good business today.
  • Being careful about what we ask others to do, because they listen with their eyes. If we ask someone to do something that we’re not willing to do or find distasteful, etc., what is that saying to those who work with us and for us? Be careful about what we ask others to do.

Leaders need to be discerning as to the cause and effect of decision making now more than ever before because, as mentioned, people listen with eyes, not with their ears!

Lack of moral awareness

What about moral awareness? Here’s one of the best definitions of moral awareness that I received from a client of mine:

“When a person is in touch with their innate sense of morality and can feel the moral component of the situation—one of my clients that helped me with this definition said it’s kind of like being in touch with your body. If you know that there’s something wrong, there’s a pain. It’s an innate sense that there is something wrong; it needs to be attended to. That’s what being morally aware means. There’s something, you know, about what you feel, about your reaction to a situation that says that something’s not right here. You can call it intuition, you can call it conscience, you can call it reason, whatever you want to call it, it’s an innate sense that, something isn’t right here and I have to figure out what to do about it.”

Therefore, there really are moral obligations, particularly for leaders.

Always put people first in decision-making.

I research paper I recently read said that 57 percent of all companies that have downsized in the last few years still have the same problems, which tells me that while the problem wasn’t with the employees, they were the ones made to pay the price for the organization’s problem. Maybe it was the process, maybe it was the leaders, maybe it was whatever, but people need to be first in decision making, particularly in the long term, because no matter what the organization or business, they all say, “People are our most important assets.” Then why aren’t people a priority in many areas of decision making?

Respect the individual’s human dignity.

You have a right as a leader to disagree with my behavior; you do not have the right to challenge my human dignity or my self-esteem. There is a difference between telling someone, “You are the dumbest thing next to the jackass,” and saying, “Normally you don’t make decisions this poorly. I was wondering why this decision was made and how you came to that?” See the difference? Remember, affirm personhood, disagree with behavior.

Treat everybody fairly.

Do the rules apply for the CEO down to the new hire? The last thing you need as a leader is a chink in that armor—that there are different rules for management/leadership than there are for the rest of the employees. Everybody must play by the same rules, and this is the purpose of a code of ethics. Here’s my analogy: If you invite me to your house to play a game, shouldn’t you explain the rules before we play? And what happens if you change the rules in the middle of the game? What happens to your credibility and the credibility of the game? That’s the reason for a code of ethics; these are the rules by which we play here at this company — they will not change, and they apply to all. If you’d like to join us, these are the rules. If not, then maybe you need to find a job someplace else. That code of ethics (which includes mission statement and value statement) exists because the key point is that everybody must play by the same rules—everybody.

Be honest.

If you have a short memory, always tell the truth. If honesty is a moral principle, then don’t chip away at it. Be honest. Yet how many of these moral obligations do we see in today’s workplace? These obligations are innate capabilities that leaders today more than ever need to address, communicate and model in their organizations.

To be morally aware, I have three suggestions for you:

  1. Commit to moral principles. Many companies have value statements, but still have problems internally. This could be primarily because while the principles are nicely stated, there’s a distinction between what’s stated and the actual behavior of the employees. There has to be consistency and continuity. That’s what commitment means—that what you say is how you live. What we say is how we do our business. What we say is how our customers experience working with our company. What we say is how we do business with our vendors and suppliers, and they can count on it, unequivocally.
  2. The morally aware leader needs to understand that there’s risk involved in living out those principles. There are risks in every decision that a leader makes, but if you have a foundation of moral principles and you know what is right, you need to be sensitive and deal with the realization that someone, somewhere on that leadership chain isn’t going to like it. The question is: Are you still willing to do it? Because of those principles, are you still willing to make the stand? Are you still willing to speak out? And are you still willing to stand up for those principles, those values, in the workplace?
  3. Have the resolve when needed, to pay the price. I call this the “PTP” factor. What is your price-to-pay for what you want to do? Particularly as a leader, if you can’t pay, you better walk away, because there’s an absolute in life that’s just like gravity: what goes around always comes around, positive or negative. It all comes around. Have the resolve. What’s your line in the sand? Here’s where I stand; I will not cross it.


Therefore, if we truly believe that good ethics is good business, consider a large part of the problem is failed leadership and the lack of moral awareness. So what’s next? We can start with the investment in the values-based training for leaders of the organization and work to instill a sense of moral awareness throughout the organization, thus increasing the odds that the gap between what is professed as values and what is modeled in behavior will become increasingly smaller.

Failed leadership and a lack of moral awareness are both conscious choices. Can a person really say that he was not aware that there’s a moral dimension to choosing? I doubt it. Failed leadership—that’s certainly a conscious choice. People choose to be dishonest. People choose to cheat, etc. These are choices and, as with all choices, there are consequences, good or evil. It is the leader’s responsibility to see what others do not see, to discern what others may not and to act with fortitude, conviction and moral purpose. This then becomes exemplary moral leadership.

Frank Bucaro is an ethics expert, who is a leading crusader– speaking, training and writing– on the benefits of ethics. He is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and has been inducted into the Council of Peers Award for Excellence (CPAE) Speaker Hall of Fame.

Agility and Anticipation, a Tale of Two Business Strategies

When the competition launches a new product, how do you react? Chances are, you act quickly and decisively to address the changing factors and conditions.

In short, you use agility to change directions and head the competition off at the pass. But what if you could skip that pivot altogether?

Think about some of the most powerful, most industry-disruptive products and services that have become well-known of late. Put them in context with the concept of agility.

Did Kickstarter become a dominant force in the growing crowdsourcing industry because it was agile? Was agility the driving force behind Facebook’s dominance in social media? Of course not. The reason is that agility is a form of reaction to an outside force.

  1. Agility Is Reactionary, Not Proactive  

Your organization may be the fastest around at being agile, but it’s still a form of reaction, something of an after-the-fact event. You’re taking on problems as they happen, putting out fires here and there.

  1. Agility Is a Lateral Move, Not a Forward One   

Moreover, agility doesn’t allow you to innovate and jump ahead of the competition. As examples such as Kickstarter and Facebook illustrate, game-changing products and services don’t happen because of agility; they happen because of anticipation.

  1. Agility Is Outside-In, Which Is Limiting 

The level of pervasive disruption that you need comes from the inside out (making the first move) rather than the outside in (moving in response to something).

By using strategies such as Hard Trends (those things we know for certain are going to occur) and Soft Trends (those that may occur but are open to influence), you can anticipate the future and, from there, plan accordingly. That’s a dynamic force that moves from the inside out, rather than the outside in.

Agility and Anticipation: Better Together 

Although my Anticipatory Organization Model is geared to showing both organizations and individuals how to anticipate the future and to make decisions with the utmost confidence, it would be unreasonable to suggest that agility is utterly obsolete. Not at all.

No matter how adept we are at anticipating the future, there will inevitably be problems and events that call for some form of response. Given that, my question is: Would the ability to effectively anticipate the future make you and your organization more agile?

The answer is a resounding yes. Let’s paint a scenario to illustrate that point.

Being a Company That Anticipates

Your organization is highly regulated by the government. Being anticipatory, you’re constantly on the lookout for new laws that will impact your activities. In monitoring new legislation, you spot a bill that will affect your organization’s tax structure. It seems likely to pass, so you notify your attorneys to begin work on restructuring your employee benefits plan to take advantage of the new guidelines.

The bill becomes law, and your organization is already set to leverage the new rules. By contrast, other organizations also affected by the legislation are forced to scramble after the fact.

That illustrates how being anticipatory makes an organization much more agile—a trait valued by many leaders. Even better, by anticipating what may occur in the future, an anticipatory organization is effectively positioned to act in advance—to pre-solve a problem before it really becomes a major headache.

What events and developments can you anticipate to become that much more agile? Let’s start a discussion, comment below.

Daniel Burrus is considered one of the World’s Leading Futurists on Global Trends and Innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker.

Focus: Concentrating on Progress

Isaac Newton understood the value of focus. He credited his many successes and discoveries as “owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.”
How focused are you? How much time do you waste each day on low-priority or ineffective activities? Imagine what you could accomplish if you stayed consistently focused on other, more important things!
We live in an age of perpetual distraction, with e-mails, text messages, and Facebook posts always vying for our attention. And there are countless little challenges in our personal and professional lives that pull our thoughts away from important goals and impede our progress toward fulfilling our true potential.
The antidote to all this distraction is focus. Or perhaps more accurately, (re)focus. When you disrupt yourself or initiate a change, you must refocus your efforts. Otherwise, your past focus will prevent you from achieving your new goals.
In my new book, The Potential Principle, I offer four powerful tools for creating breakthrough improvement at home and at work. The second tool is this:
(re)Focus your efforts by replacing wrong or low-payoff activities with more productive behaviors.
In the book, I offer many tips on how to do this. One way is to stop multitasking. Research has shown that people who try to accomplish several things at once take longer to do their work and don’t do it as well. That’s because they’re not really multitasking; they’re just rapidly shifting their attention from one task to another.
This constant shifting takes a toll. It depletes the brain’s neurochemical resources, which inhibits concentration, causes mental fatigue, and leads to errors. And because of a phenomenon called attention residue, our minds have a hard time letting go of an unfinished task and giving full attention to a new one.
So instead of “multitasking” all day long, identify the most significant things that you need to accomplish. Schedule specific times to work on them, giving yourself at least thirty to sixty minutes without phone calls, walk-ins, or other distractions. Then focus on one task at a time. Try to complete it before undertaking a new one.
You’ll find this way of operating more productive, more fulfilling, and less time-consuming. (re)Focusing is all about knowing what is important, recognizing the danger of distraction, and committing the time it takes to concentrate on the work.
You become successful by getting focused, but you stay successful
by (re)focusing as necessary when plans and priorities change.
To better your best, (re)focus your time and energy on activities that produce the greatest results and improvement.
Mark Sanborn is the president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea lab for leadership development. In addition to his experience leading at a local and national level, he has written or co-authored 8 books and is the author of more than two dozen videos and audio training programs on leadership, change, teamwork and customer service. He has presented over 2600 speeches and seminars in every state and a 15 countries.

Make Your Mornings Count

Most people are more adept at tackling big challenges earlier in the day than later. Peak energy and alertness for most people is at 8 a.m. Also, fewer interruptions are likely earlier in the day.

This is not to say you can’t be effective handling large tasks later in the day, and sometimes you have no choice but to do so. The long-term odds of success, however, are with you when you make a habit of handling the day’s biggest challenge as early as you can, perhaps as the very first thing.

After composing a to-do list, regardless of what order you listed the items, identify the vital challenge you face for the day. Circle that item or draw an arrow from it up to the top of the page, to indicate that is the task you will tackle first. Then, clear away any minor hurdles that would impede your ability to start on that task.

Do you need to rearrange your workspace? OK, go ahead and do so, not to stall, but because you will literally be making logistical changes to your workspace that aid in the way you perform best.

Do you need to alert others that you do not wish to be distracted? OK, go ahead and do so, because clear stretches give you your best chance of being productive, especially when you are tackling a project that is new, requires highly creative thinking or is unfamiliar to you.

Each distraction, however fleeting, may turn into a full-fledged interruption. Interruptions in and of themselves are not so bad, on average lasting only three minutes. A bigger problem, however, is that a typical interruption leads to other activities that can last 12 to 14 minutes. So, any interruption could pull you from the task for up to 16 minutes.

Early, major victories have a way of impacting the rest of the day. Freed from the psychological baggage of handling the task, as well as the mental and physical effort necessary to do so, you then almost automatically consider “What other great things can I accomplish today?”

Jeff Davidson, “The Work-Life Balance Expert®,” has written 59 mainstream books, is an authority on time management, and is an electrifying professional speaker. He is the author of Breathing Space and Simpler Living. He believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his books, ebooks, and articles; videos, audios, and iPhone apps; and his keynote speeches, breakout sessions, and seminars.

How to Have a Super Awesome Day

A young man of about 5 was in the office the other day having his teeth cleaned. He had seemed really happy when I came in, so I casually asked him how his day was. He broke into a huge smile and declared, “Super Awesome!” We all laughed and agreed that it was fantastic to have a super awesome day. But it did get me thinking.

What a wonderful thing to have a day that is super awesome. It seems that we have fewer of those days the older we get. When we are young, the simplest things make a day super awesome. A trip to the park on a sunny day, an ice cream cone, butterflies, playing catch, a nap. Somehow when we get older, our expectations get bigger and we set the bar higher to achieve super awesome.

Most of my days are really good, and I have quite a lot that are excellent. But even I have to think about what would make a day super awesome. I can say that I have been blessed to have a number of days that I can remember as an adult where all the planets aligned and I was at my absolute best when I needed to be. Those days truly were super awesome.

I imagine that children were put here to remind us of a time when life was super awesome! It really isn’t about everything having to be so good. To a five year old, super awesome is a matter of attitude. That’s the way it should be for us as well. We need to take each day and find the super awesome that’s hidden in the gray skies and rain.

My friend motivational speaker and author Mark Sanborn says that, “no one can prevent you from choosing to be extraordinary!” That is one of the foundational principles in his book The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary. The book tells the story of his postman Fred; a regular guy who shows that you can bring artistry to work, even if the work is mundane and you have very little in the way of resources to work with. Sanborn’s message is simple, yet profound; build relationships, take the initiative, make a difference! It resonates with people so well that over 2 million copies of the book have been sold.

On March 19th, Mark is released the follow up to the Fred Factor, called Fred 2.0 New Ideas on How to Keep Delivering Extraordinary Results. I have had the privilege of reading a pre-release copy and I’m pleased to enthusiastically recommend the book to you. Fred 2.0 expands on the principles contained in The Fred Factor and contains practical messages that relate directly to the practice of dentistry.

Sanborn defines a professional as someone who is more worried about the solutions to your problems than you are. That about sums up the profession of dentistry as well as anything I have heard. One of recurring challenges we face is the fact that we are always attempting to educate patients, given that we are more concerned about their health than they are. The profession of dentistry is all about prevention, which is getting people change course to stop things from happening in the future. We work to show them that we care, so that they will begin to care about themselves and let us help. Our ability to see the future is only good if we can convince people to listen. As Sanborn details in the book, intelligence and skill are important, but it is character and heart that connect with people.

Showing people that we care and have solutions to problems they don’t even know exist is hard work. At the end of the day, the best we can do is the best we can do and we can’t win over everyone. That doesn’t mean we don’t try. We just need to adjust our expectations. Success in dentistry can’t be measured with every patient each day. Sometimes, something we say today resonates and stimulates action weeks or years later. We need to change ourselves first and keep making the best effort for each patient on each day.

We get positive comments from some patients every day, which makes us happy. However, if we wait for everyone to notice and tell us what a great job we are doing, we will be sorely disappointed. We must first change our own attitude; transform our own lives from ordinary to the extraordinary. Happiness comes from knowing that we have done the right thing in doing little bit extra. In caring a little bit more.

After all, super awesome isn’t something that you get. Super awesome is something you create. It’s all around us. We just have to condition ourselves to see it. When someone asks you how your day was today, I hope you can join me and say it was “Super Awesome!”

Dr. Matthew J Messina maintains a private practice in general dentistry in Fairview Park, Ohio and is a consumer advisor for the American Dental Association (ADA), having served as a national spokesperson since 1995. He’s a great friend and advocate of The Fred Factor philosophy and shared the following post which appeared in the Ohio Dental Association publication, ODA Today.

How Tech has Revolutionized the Attendee Experience

Events have come a long way in recent years, evolving into newer, more dynamic arrangements than ever before. Technology is paving the way for a new kind of event, where it’s more widely acceptable to be head-down on your device instead of making eye contact with the speaker.

Tech is playing a new role in the event landscape, completely revolutionizing the attendee experience.

From Audience to Participant

With the introduction of tech in the event space, attendees are no longer just an audience, they are now active participants. Attendees have an expectation to be engaged in every aspect of the event; to see themselves as part of the event. Activities like real-time polling, networking, contests, games, etc. were once considered wow factors. Now, these activities are necessary for an engaging attendee experience.

Two-Way Communication

Before the use of tech at events, the speaker-to-attendee relationship was typically one-way. Platforms like social media and event apps have opened up a two-way street for communication. Attendees can send unlimited questions and comments to speakers in real-time, allowing attendees to really feel like they are part of the presentation and conversation. Being involved in the presentation is now a big part of a satisfying attendee experience.

Networking Made Easy

Event app usage in the social space has grown in popularity. Is there a lot of downtime in between sessions? Event apps make it easier to connect during this downtime, making the most out of attendees networking opportunities. Many event apps allow attendees to communicate with each other throughout the event via the app. But it also enables smart communication by matching attendees with like-minded individuals, whether it be based on industry, job title or common interests/skills. The main purpose of events is networking – and providing ample opportunity to network is key to a positive attendee experience.

A Personal Touch

Today more than ever, meeting and event planners are tasked with creating ‘personalized’ events that are relevant to each individual attendee. Event tech plays a key role in offering that personal touch. With certain sessions focusing on the demographics and interests of individual attendees, events can now be tailored to specific attendees only. In addition, events have seen beacon technology break ground in recent years. Beacons push relevant information to attendee’s mobile devices based on their location, making every attendee experience more inherently personal.

Revolutionizing the Attendee Experience

There is little limit to what tech can bring to an event. The event tech industry is growing rapidly, with event apps becoming an expectation at events.

Melissa Del Monte is the Marketing Communications Specialist at QuickMobile, responsible for communicating ideas and stories through content creation, resulting in inbound lead generation. She loves writing and learning about new technologies. When she’s not at the office, you can find her exploring with her sidekick, Sadie the Pomeranian.

Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Human Intelligence, not just Our Processes?

The single most disruptive influence on business, as well as society, will be artificial intelligence (A.I.), which includes technology such as machine learning and cognitive computing to name just two. In other words, there is more than one type of A.I. and each represents a new way of doing both big things as well as everyday things in amazing ways. When I say big things, I mean solving highly complex problems such as enabling the development of highly personalized drugs and genetic therapies designed for your genetic makeup. A.I. will keep you from having an accident, whether you are driving your car or not, by knowing the surroundings in real time, predicting a problem, and helping you avoid the accident. Eighty-five percent of traffic accidents are caused by blind spots, and soon your car won’t let you have that accident. The good news is that we don’t need full autonomy to do this, and it will happen faster than you think.

During the next five years, we will have the technologies to transform every business process.

A.I. will impact everyday things such as asking your car or your phone or your (fill in the blank) a question and getting an intelligent answer that is customized for you. Thanks to cloud-based A.I. and devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home, A.I. is quickly being integrated into both business and consumers’ lives at a rapid rate by using your voice as the primary interface, and the impact will be both disruptive and transformational on both a product and service level.

A.I. and other exponential technologies that are enabling a social, mobile, virtual and visual evolutionary revolution in a short time will shift us from a period of rapid change to a period of true transformation. I say evolutionary because the underlying technologies have been in play for a long time. For example, in 1983 I first published my list of 20 technologies that would drive exponential change for decades to come, and on that list were the Internet, digital technologies, A.I., genetic engineering, photovoltaics, fiber optics and more, the very technologies that are driving the revolution today.

So here is a prediction for you: During the next five years, we will have the technologies to transform every business process including how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, train, educate, design, pay for things and much more. That is what I call a Hard Trend that will happen because it is based on future facts—the tools are real and they will be used to both disrupt and transform. Soft Trends on the other hand might happen because they are based on assumptions. The Soft Trend related to business process transformation can best be expressed in a question: Will your organization transform your business processes or only change them? In other words, disruption becomes a choice when you know it’s going to happen ahead of time. That’s why my award-winning learning system, as well as my new book that will be out in the fall of 2017, are called The Anticipatory Organization. Being agile does allow you to react faster than your slower competitors and does help you with unpredictable change. But the new competency that is now an imperative is to be anticipatory, to learn how to use Hard and Soft Trend analysis to anticipate disruptions before they disrupt, problems before you have them so that you can pre-solve them, and game-changing opportunities that you can use to accelerate growth and transform results.

Here is one final Hard Trend/Soft Trend question for you to consider: As A.I. and robotics advance at an exponential rate, will they cause mass unemployment globally? To answer this question, you need to break down the future fact from the future assumption. The Hard Trend future fact is that A.I. and robotics will indeed advance at an exponential rate in the years to come. That will happen. The Soft Trend that might happen is the mass unemployment they will create globally. Even though mass unemployment for both blue- and white-collar jobs is very likely, it is not a future fact. Business and government leaders from around the world could do something about this now before it happens, thus changing this outcome.

For example, we could have all trucks, cabs and busses become self-driving, thus eliminating tens of millions of jobs on a global level. This is not a future fact, but it could happen—technology exists to enable this outcome. A better question is: Do we want this to happen? Before answering, you need to look at a bigger picture. You need to consider that in the past and present it was primarily blue-collar jobs that were replaced by automation. But with the new capabilities of A.I. and robotics to replace white-collar jobs such as accounting, banking, and even sales, to name a few, the unemployment numbers could grow significantly. Do we want that future or a different future? We can’t change the past, but we can change the future. What kind of future do you want? What would we need to change in order to have a better tomorrow than today?

Daniel Burrus is considered one of the World’s Leading Futurists on Global Trends and Innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker.

Focus on Completions

One of the most powerful ways to take control of your time is to practice “completions.” Completions, simply put, are a method of segmenting your responsibilities into complete units so that you recognize when you finish a task or project. Completions give you a sense of closure and provide a mental and emotional break. They give you more energy as you move on. Conversely, running through tasks without completions makes you feel tired, weighed down and drained. Time flies by, yet you are no closer to finishing tasks than you were hours ago.

As an author, I acknowledge a completion each time I finish a chapter. As I finish each successive chapter, I gain energy to move on. However, I have found that when I’m working on four or five chapters at once—and none of them are completed—I feel as if I’ll never finish.

The happiest, most productive people are masters of completion. They are just as busy as everyone else, but those people have learned that by giving themselves completion, they reset their internal clocks and are ready to handle what’s next.

Example: A former client of mine, Olivia, used to turn in reports to clients on time, but she would wait to tie up the loose ends later, after she’d already started on other tasks. As a result, she always felt harried and behind. Eventually, she built time into her schedule to finalize all the details before she sent reports to her clients.

Now, she has the time to have her reports bound in a nice cover and to send them through the mail instead of via one-day courier service. She even calls clients a day before the reports arrive to let them know they’re coming. Olivia has compartmentalized and given herself completions for what she does. Now she is energized, uses her time more wisely and is also more successful with her work.

Of course, learning how to do that takes a little discipline, but it’s worth developing. Olivia realized that there were problems with the way she had been working. She wasn’t acknowledging the totality of the project. Before, when she had “finished” the report, she had not wrapped up all the loose ends. Now she builds in time and acknowledges all components of a project. So when she turns in a report, she is completely finished with it and can move to her next assignment with a clear mind and 100% focus.

Start operating as Olivia now does, and when you finish a project, you will be mentally clear. Completing a project will feel like a mini vacation. Follow these tips:

Break large projects up into units. Focus on completing every task and finalizing every detail of one unit, before you move on to the next.

Set a time frame for each unit. Estimate how much time you will need to complete each segment of a project. Some tasks take seconds to finish; others take years. Schedule deadlines for tasks to stay on track.

Focus on one or two major completions to work toward at a time. If you do more than that, you will be pulled in too many directions at once, and you won’t reap the benefits of a full completion.

Jeff Davidson, “The Work-Life Balance Expert®,” has written 59 mainstream books, is an authority on time management, and is an electrifying professional speaker. He is the author of Breathing Space and Simpler Living. He believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his books, ebooks, and articles; videos, audios, and iPhone apps; and his keynote speeches, breakout sessions, and seminars.

A Happy Worker is a Productive Worker

Marilyn Tam, Ph.D. is a Speaker, Author, Consultant, Board Certified Executive/Corporate Coach, CEO of Marilyn Tam & Co. and Founder and Executive Director of Us Foundation. She was formerly the CEO of Aveda Corp., President of Reebok Apparel and Retail Group; Vice President of Nike Inc. and also a successful entrepreneur who has built four companies. Tam wrote her new book, The Happiness Choice – The Five Decisions that Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be so that others may benefit from what she learned, often through painful experience on how to be happy, healthy, productive and have a dynamically balanced life.

Ed Rigsbee is the author of PartnerShift-How to Profit from the Partnering Trend, Developing Strategic Alliances and The Art of Partnering. He has authored several video and audio programs. With more than 1,000 published articles to his credit, Rigsbee is a regular contributor to business, trade and professional publications throughout North America.

Unhappiness among workers in America is costing a shocking $300 billion per year in lost productivity, the Gallup-Healthways estimates. Their recent Well-Being Index shows that Americans are increasingly unhappy with their jobs and work environments. When people aren’t happy about their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less, and their work quality suffers. A recent Harvard Business Review article stated that the level of happiness has a profound impact on workers’ creativity, productivity, commitment and collegiality.
Current American Psychological Association research findings show that people want contentment, love and happiness derived from meaningful work. They want nourishing personal relationships, a healthy mind and body, a spiritual core, and a reason for living. But with only 24 hours in a day and all of the competing demands of modern life, the question is–how? Is it even possible? How can you as a manager facilitate your employees’ happiness and consequently increase your company’s success as well as your own?
First you as well as your company need a defined mission/reason for being. With an established purpose, you can manage and prioritize the energies and resources to best fulfill the mission. Work and life have meaning when we feel what we are doing creates worth and is in alignment with what we value. There are five life factors that need to be kept in dynamic balance to achieve and maintain happiness and productivity. Understanding people’s motivators will help you structure the work environment and to develop products and services that truly serves your customers. 
Money and other Means of Value Exchange
In today’s world, money is the primary, and sometimes the only form of work compensation. Yet surveys have now shown that the most effective motivator for increased performance and creativity is when one feels that their work have meaning and value. Understanding what drives people is helpful in the design of incentive programs to increase satisfaction and consequently performance. Show people how their jobs impact the overall success of the company’s mission, and tie their remuneration to their contribution to the objectives of the organization. That way they can comprehend how their efforts are intrinsic to the wellbeing to company and be motivated to fully contribute to its success.
Human beings are inherently social, we need honest and positive connection with others to survive and thrive in the workplace as well as in our personal lives. Healthy relationships will build trust and enhance openness and collaboration instead of fear and reluctant compliance. Structure a participatory workplace environment and allow for some flexibility in work hours so that your associates have the ability to adjust their schedules when it is needed. When people feel that they are respected and trusted to perform at a high level, it encourages them to strive to do even better. Understanding human relationships we can plan and act accordingly in business and life for greater productivity and satisfaction.
The American Psychology Association tells us that stress is the biggest cause of illness today, and oftentimes workplace stress is the primary culprit. Sick or unhealthy workers are unable to function optimally and their performance suffers. Unhealthy workers also cost the company more in healthcare costs and absenteeism. Encourage everyone to take their allotted vacation days; time away rejuvenates the mind and body, and they will return refreshed and energized. Ensure that the mission of the company is clearly shared with everyone so that they understand that their work has meaning. People are happier and can do more when they feel that they are contributing to a worthwhile purpose.
Human beings need community in order to survive and thrive. When your company is actively involved in the surrounding community you have a source of local support. Your community is also an excellent place to get input and feedback on your products and services. In today’s global economy, your community encompasses the whole world, and that perspective will help you develop your company’s offerings to best suit the market. Encourage and support volunteerism in the communities your company works in. Connect with nonprofits and other organizations that serve your market. For example, if your company sells products or services to small businesses, volunteer and affiliate with SCORE, the SBA’s non-profit consulting arm to small businesses. This will contribute to the wellbeing of your community, and also give you valuable input about your customers’ needs and concerns while strengthening your business network.
A belief in something greater than ourselves sustains us when we are in pain, scared or in dire need. That same power enhances positive experiences and gives us more joy, compassion and energy. Recognizing the power of beliefs can guide your work policies to honor others’ beliefs and facilitate their practice of them. When people feel respected for who they are and what they believe, they are happier and more productive individuals.
Increased productivity through happier employees can be realized with a modicum of energy exerted, by you and your organization’s leadership, in the above five areas.

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