success

The Power of Strategy – Design a Masterpiece

Laura Novakowski  -  May 30, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

“What do you want to achieve or avoid?  The answers to this question are objectives. How will you go about achieving your desired results? The answer to this you can call strategy.”

William E. Rothschild

William E. Rothschild is a former executive from General Electric. In his role as Corporate Strategist, he created the first “market driven Corporate Strategy.”  Using this approach, according to Rothschild, GE for the last two decades has consistently had been described as having “the best inventors, the best strategic planners, and the best results.”

Whether we are planning a trip to the market, a vacation, a day at work…, we are always has to quote Stephen Covey “an end in mind.”  Now that “end” may be to fill the refrigerator, plan for vacation, deliver the product or service. While that certainly gives us some kind of results, are they the best results? Are you exhilarated with the results you’re getting? Can you see the value of identifying the results you want and then filling in the picture, rather than the other way around?

One of the greatest strategists of all times was Michelangelo. He depicts a highly focused professional who valued quality and achieved amazing results. When Michelangelo worked, he clearly used strategic thinking and planning.  When asked how he could carve such beautiful statues, his reply was, “it’s already in there.” He saw the results prior to even lifting his tools to work.   He wasn’t just banging away at some granite to up with such great masterpieces as Moses, David or the Pieta, he used purpose, thought and planning.

Let’s imagine this great artist’s process. First, he saw the granite.  He considered form, structure, faults and strengths. Slowly a vision and mission came to mind and Michelangelo could start planning his approach to achieve his results.   Next, he determined what was critical to creating his product.  What tools did he required? Where would he do the work? Who might assist him (moving granite might take some help)? What would it cost in time, money and energy? Yet, he still had not raised a chisel, for if he did, I’m sure that would have altered his results.

After he thought about his overall strategy, vision, mission and critical results, he next set goals.  Goals that were results focused,  motivating and achievable. He knew exactly what he wanted and then he started his action plan – the hair, the eyes, the nose, the beard…  All predetermined actions which embraced his values of beauty and perfection. Michelangelo envisioned beauty, integrity, passion, courage, commitment to high standards with incredible details. The results – a masterpiece!

The people, in my experience that are the most successful, the most energized, the most fulfilled, are the people who know their personal and professional vision. Why not strive for a masterpiece in your life? At the end of everyday, how powerful it can be see everyone generate a wonderful piece of art, a rewarding service or an outstanding, quality product. Engage a strategy that will help you to see and then design your masterpieces too!

Focus on Your Strengths

Laura Novakowski  -  May 22, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Dr. Donald O. Clifton, a graduate student in the mid 1950’s, started to look at the “hyper focus on deficits and disease” and wondered “What would happen if we actually studied what is right with people?” This question stimulated some profound research with Gallup that resulted in the late 1990’s created an assessment called Clifton’s Strengths Finder. This instrument has been used by millions of people to discover and develop their talents.

Clifton’s studies showed that “people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are SIX times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than THREE times as likely to report having and excellent quality of life in general.” (Source: StrengthsFinder 2.0) This research is profoundly impacting levels of engagement personally and professionally around the globe.

Consider this Strength Finders formula for success:

 

A Positive Power Choice

Laura Novakowski  -  May 15, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

The Voice in the Head

Laura Novakowski  -  May 09, 2012  -  , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

I’ve come to realize over the course of time, that the greatest noise in my head,  the voice that hammers at me day-in-and-day-out, is me. This is that little voice that becomes so loud that it can and does make or break a person, a family, a career, a community, or a world’s spirit.

Here’s some messages that can play over and over in my head

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m not smart enough.
  • I’m not rich enough.
  • I’m not deserving of a promotion or a healthy relationship. 

Now it’s your turn.

I’m not…

I’ve come to realize over the course of time, that the greatest noise in my head,  the voice that hammers at me day-in-and-day-out, is me. This is that little voice that becomes so loud that it can and does make or break a person, a family, a career, a community, or a world’s spirit.

How can we change the recording in our head so that we can appreciate our ability to thrive and grow, learn and lead personally and professionally? How can we change our heads so that we allow our hearts, our passion to believe the following…

  • I am interesting!
  • I am making a contribution!
  • I am  terrific!
  • I am a great writer!

Now it’s your turn.

I am…

There are actually many techniques and tools to help us take better care of heads so that our hearts, our soul, our passion and our purpose are achieved. Fortunately, for me, I tend to by nature be a person that sees the cup more than half full and often overflowing, but even I need help sometimes.

How can we change our words and pictures to help us become a person and leader that we have great love and appreciation for?  We can start in the children’s section of the bookstore or library and read The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper.

 The Little Engine that Could is one of my favorite children’s books and the reason is this little phrase that plays over and over again,

 “I think I can!”

“I think I can!”

“I think I can!”

If we chug along with that thought in our heads, it becomes surprising how we view ourselves very differently and are able to achieve extraordinary results.  Let’s put it to use right now…

Do you want a successful business? Think I can!”

Do you want a new job? Think I can!”

Do you want a new relationship? Think I can!”

Do you want to write a book? Think I can!”

 Do you want to be courageous, successful, happy, at peace? Think I can!”

Now, let’s move into the psychology section.  Denis Waitley wrote a book and created an audio book entitled, Psychology of Winning.  Dr. Waitley details theTen Steps for Winning often put into practice by Olympic athletes and top executives alike.  One of thetop steps is positive self expectancy.” This one in particular certainly can help us to improve that voice in our head and position ourselves for a more effective, productive, happy and healthy life.  We must use our self talk  to create our own “little engine that could,”  in order for us to create positive self expectancy and ultimate success.

Reframing our thoughts and our words into strong, positive, affirming statements is the key. Index cards are a fabulous pocket-sized tool for everyone. The one side is lined for words. The opposite side is blank and a great place to draw a visual or take a picture and tape it on the card. The little index card is the perfect vehicle to pen strong, positive affirmations to set your thinking straight and create strong visuals to help you wrap your heart around feeling successful. 

The problem with most of us is that we seldom shake ourselves and wake ourselves to the noise that goes on in our heads. Unfortunately, the yammering today is destructive and limiting. We find ourselves becoming less and less. Our dreams fade. Our lives fade.

When with a little conscious effort and positive self expectancy – our dreams grow and our lives flourish, because then new voice says over and over again

“I think I can!”

The Power of Intuition

Laura Novakowski  -  May 02, 2012  -  , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Have phrases such as “Trust your instincts,” “Go with your gut,” or Listen to your intuition” ever popped up in your mind?

In today’s environment high stakes, decisions arise every day.  Executives, professionals, team leaders and people of all walks of life are faced with the a variety of decisions.  We must battle shifting goals, missing information, nonstop confusion, and do-or-die deadlines. We must constantly make choices that can and will impact our future every day.  How we transform ourselves into becoming faster, better decision makers is the hallmark of a great leader.

In 1998, Gary Klein, an expert in cognitive psychology, conducted extensive research on the topic of intuition and published the book entitled Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions. In his ground breaking work on intuition he delved into how how people perceive and observe, think and reason, act and react.  In understanding  human behavior, Klein worked extensively to determine what it took to make good decisions.  The single most significant finding was in the power of using  intuition. In fact he staked his career on this concept  “the hunch that people have grossly underestimated the power of gut instinct.”

His work included extensive research regarding people and how “because they are active interpreters of their world, their experience cannot be deconstructed into the kinds of rules that will fit into expert systems.”  He explored how using rational deductive reasoning works in neutral, non stressful situations, but as the stakes and stress increase, our decision making ability changes drastically.

The decision makers that makes better choices consistently are the persons who “internalized” themselves into the situation.  Even if the decision seemed irrational, they more than thought about the decision the more they could feel  the rightness or the wrongness of the decision.

How we handle decision making therefore can be greatly enhanced by developing our  awareness.  It takes more than just what we think in a given situation, but also how we process our feelings in our life experiences.  Take me for example, I have a track record of being able to instinctively know when it is time to make a change.  What literally pops up for me when a situation doesn’t feel right is that I am a “round peg in a square whole.”  I feel tight, constrained and very uncomfortable when I am in a situation that I absolutely know is not the right.  As soon as this happens, my intuition takes off like a rocket and I know that I must change course immediately or move on.

Trusting intuition pays off every time! I’d learn to hear from you if you have any tips on how your intuition has paid off for you.

The Power of Potential

Laura Novakowski  -  Apr 25, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Potential is about power and growth, two very scary, yet exciting concepts.  Dr Abraham Maslow’s was  a pioneer in the field of human behavior. He introduced what he called “B-values” to help define what he believed led to success.  Maslow focused his work on the study of great people who capitalized on their strengths instead of trying to analyze  weaknesses and limitations.  Rather than focus on the negative, Maslow did some extraordinary studies. He studied people such as Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and others to  identify what lead to their success.

His work focused on growth motivation as another term for self actualization needs and called them “being needs” (B-Needs).  In contrast, most research in the past had been focused on deficit motivation or “deficit needs” (D-Needs). Maslow suggested that only two percent of the people in the world achieve self actualization.

Dr. Maslow concentrated his research on people who met certain criteria using  biographical analysis. A few of the individuals he researched who met this standard of self actualization included: Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Adams and William James.   These individuals were great because they chose to tap into greater potential. They, like each of us, had to overcame fear, mistakes, adversity and challenges, but, they decided to use their strengths and talents to get closer to being fully actualized.

Abraham Maslow’s B Values

  • Wholeness/Unity/Oneness
  • Perfection/Just-so-ness
  • Completion/Finality/Ending
  • Justice/Fairness
  • Aliveness/Full-Functioning
  • Richness/Intricacy
  • Simplicity/Essential/Honesty
  • Beauty/Form/Richness
  • Goodness/Oughtness
  • Uniqueness/Idiosyncrasy/Novelty
  • Effortlessness/Ease/Perfect
  • Playfulness/Joy/Humor
  • Truth/Reality/Beauty/Pure
  • Self-Sufficiency/Independence

Today, consider capitalizing on  strengths, instead of focusing on deficiencies.  Maslow’s “B values” are available to each of us. Let’s make increasing the two percent of the self actualized population our number one priority and expand our potential.

Focus on What You Can Control

Laura Novakowski  -  Apr 11, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Over the years, I have asked people what they believe have affected their ability to attain personal and/or professional success.  The answers range from “Day Light savings time”, “My boss doesn’t like me,” or “I wasn’t born rich,” to “I didn’t ask the right questions,” “I didn’t listen,” I failed to ask for what I really wanted.” 

When I asked myself, I started to realize that my answers would have been similar causing me to lose focus and to scatter all my time, talent and energy all over the map. Fortunately, I have some great colleague and mentors that connected me with a great concept that I would like to share with you.  The concept is called the Sphere of Control/Sphere of Influence and has proven to be invaluable to me to focus and achieve amazing results.

This idea was adapted from a very dear colleague George Richardson, President of the Profectus Service Organization. He and others that have mentored me over the years helped me to adopt and adapt this concept quickly and easily and really focus.

Starting inside, your Sphere of Control causes you to focus on, concentrate on and spend your energy on what you can control, what you can do something about.”  In this sphere, you identify your own purpose and dreams. Not someone else’s.  Next you make decisions, set goals, take action and focus on your own performance and behaviors to get you closer to being on purpose and achieving your dreams. When I decided to intentionally focus on what I could and would control my entire life shifted.  Relationships improved, projects came together, business started flowing and I really love my life and my profession.

Next, in your Sphere of Influence, you now have more opportunities to be an example of extraordinary leadership. A simple, one word definition of leadership is influence. In the influence realm, you serve as an example, showing attributes such as support, cooperation, collaboration and persuasion.  Because you have focused on what is within your own control, your own attitude and behaviors, the rest takes care of itself. I cannot make it stop raining, nor can I make someone like me. When my focus immediately shifts back to I can control my response to the weather and to some else’s response and reaction to me, life gets a whole lot easier.

The last arena in this concept is the Outside of Your Sphere of Control or Influence. The only focus or attention you give this area is to DROP IT!  You can’t control or influence it anyway so why waste your energy?

A very simple approach – Focus on What You Can Control!

One Brick at a Time

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 14, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

I don‘t know what my calling is,
but I want to be here for a bigger reason.
I strive to be like the greatest people who have ever lived.
Will Smith.


We are surrounded by limiting factors. Not enough money, costs are on the rise – health costs, fuel costs, life and work costs. It may almost seem better to cut back and limit. I would like to suggest that we change that mental paradigm and see each challenge, whether real or imagined, as an opportunity to find our own greatness
.

One of my favorite videos on You Tube is Will Smith’s Wisdom – this is a much watched video -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSK_Likqv24 . One story that Will shares is a story about his father and building a wall. Smith’s father instructs Will and his younger brother to build a wall. At first this seems like a daunting task, and then these two children – Will was 12 and his brother younger laid one brick at a time and in 18 months built a wall.

What a gift, Mr. Smith gave to his young sons. This wall stands today because two mere children were given a job and decided to lay one brick at a time. It didn’t occur to them that the wall couldn’t be built and so they built it.

Now, it only takes one kind word or expression of gratitude to change a relationship for the better. It only takes one dollar at a time to create an investment program. It only one word at a time to write a book. It one brush stroke at a time to paint a masterpiece.

If two small children can build a brick wall in eighteen months,than I certainly can improve my work, my life, my community “one brick at a time.” How about you?

To Succeed in Business – Raise Your Awareness

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 07, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

One of the biggest attractors or detractors for success in business and  is our level of awareness.  To offer some insight into how to create a backdrop for increasing our awareness, I would like to share some insights from one of the most renowned humanistic psychologists of all times, Dr. Abraham Maslow.  As a humanist psychologist , he believed that a person who heightens their awareness  become “fully functioning,” “healthy,” and  “self-actualizing.” These three attributes are essential to success in life and business.

Here are  10 points that Dr. Maslow believed optimized these attributes:

  1. Be authentic. Be genuine and transparent  in communication and behaviors in a way that people fully understand.  Saying one thing and doing another, leads to confusion and chaos.
  2. Transcend cultural conditioning. Become world citizens.  Move outside of your comfort zone. Appreciate and learn from all cultures, rather than being trapped by one.
  3. Discover your calling, fate or destiny. Assess your talents, your passions and your interests. Take assessments that increase your understanding of your behaviors (DISC), , motivators (Values Index) and patterns of thinking (Attribute Index). Diagnostics can and will help to discover what is important and appropriate to pursue in life and business.
  4. Know that life is precious, that there is joy to be experienced in life.   People want and need to be happy and full of hope.  Even in tough situations, finding the pleasure and promise of growth and contribution often makes the job much more pleasurable and rewarding.
  5. Accept others as they are and help them to learn their inner nature. From real knowledge of aptitudes and limitations you can know what to build upon; what potentials are really available for you. The same with people. Not all partners,  employees, clients work out.  Accept them where they are. Offer guidance if asked or required. Provide assistance to exit a situation that doesn’t fit style, capabilities or interests.
  6. See that basic needs are satisfied. This includes safety, sense of belonging and esteem needs. When we are aware that we have basic needs, we can appreciate that one hundred percent of the population has the same basic needs. When these needs are met obstacles become opportunities and conflict becomes collaboration.
  7. Refresh consciousness.   Appreciate that every situation has some good, some bad and even some ugly going on.  Reviewing conversations and critiquing business processes helps raise awareness of important issues, challenges and opportunities.
  8. Controls are good. It takes control to improve the quality and balance of and in business and life. Setting benchmarks and matrix help to give focus and direction.
  9. Transcend the trifling problems and grapple with the serious problems in life. These include the problems of injustice, pain, suffering, and death. I once knew a nurse turned interior designer who often said to her clients,Let’s keep this decision in perspective.  Hanging curtains in not life or death. Deciding when to pull the plug,  now, that’s life or death.
  10. Be good choosers. You must practice to learn to make more powerful and positive choices. The key word here is practice. Test your choices. Run your decisions by valued and trusted mentors, colleagues or friends .  Generate congratulations and rewards for success. Evaluate the losses, make changes and move on.

Ten great ways to raise your awareness  from Dr. Maslow to help lead your business and life to success.

Source:  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from Psychology – The Search for Understanding by Janet A. Simons, Donald B. Irwin and Beverly A. Drinnien

Build a Culture for Success

Laura Novakowski  -  Feb 29, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

One of the most common complaints that I hear from business leaders is about the attitudes of their employees. Backstabbing, backbiting and backbreaking behaviors are tearing companies apart. As a result, business and service suffer.

Interestingly enough, when asked how these same leaders deal with such attitudes, the answers become punish them, avoid them or seek to understand and work with them. I would love to say that understanding and working with them is the most common choice, however experience tells me otherwise.

 

Although in the minority, successful leaders  do find ways to  build a culture for success.

Here are five tips  that successful leaders use to build a culture for success:

  1. Lead rather than manage people. To paraphrase Peter Drucker, “we manage things and lead people.” People are not objects. Trying to move people around like pieces on a chess board will only lead to frustration and disappointment.  Leadership is about expanding positive actions and change. Not controlling or limiting.
  2. Capitalize on talents. People are hired for their ability to do the job.  At least, one who hope that we are not hiring a warm body out of desperation.  Given guidance and direction, complainers become communicators, hiders become researchers and reviewers, saboteurs become innovators.
  3. Provide a focus.  Share and discuss the basic fundamentals of the business: the vision, mission and values. This does not mean emails or memo’s as a reminder. This means investing time to meet face-to-face, to ensure that people can internalize, interpret and digest the fundamentals of the business.
  4. Demand accountability.  Serving as framework,  job descriptions are used to build individual accountability.  First, successful leaders share the business objectives to assist employees to establish goals and action plans. Secondly, timely feedback helps to determine if the employee is on track.  This is not an annual event, but rather, an ongoing commitment to rewarding success and catching problems or failures.
  5. Listen and take action.  Many companies fail because employees don’t feel involved. The industrial age is long gone. The knowledge age is passing. This is the age of applying knowledge and employee engagement.  Learn to listen for what is not said as well as what is said. Ask for what might be left on said. Follow up on complaints. And, take action on suggestions.

A true  story about listening and taking action:

A consultant once solved a problem by leaving a board room and venturing into the basement. Absenteeism was up, productivity down, customer complaints were up and profitability was off by millions of dollars.

He sought out and interviewed some  maintenance staff and learned that air quality in the building was being affected by a faulty piece of equipment.    

“How long has this been going on?” the consultant asked.

The response, “More then a year.”

Whom did you talk with?”  he asked.

Everyone.

Lastly, he asked, “How much to fix?”

The reply, “Forty thousand dollars.” 

The consultant returned to the board room and shared the information.  The president was astonishedHe immediately completed a repair request.

The consultant followed up a few months later to follow up.   Absenteeism was down, productivity was up and profitability was ahead of schedule. The president rather sheepishly thanked the consultant for his assistance.  He also admitted that he now knew that value of listening to little complaints. He realized that often they were symptoms of an easy fix, rather than letting it lead to a costly impacts on the business.

In summary, lead people, rather than manage, capitalize on talent, provide a focus, demand accountability, listen and take action can and often will lead you to building a culture for success.

 

 

 

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