thoughts

Focus – Faith – Fervor

Laura Novakowski  -  Oct 08, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

When embarking on a new endeavor or relationship, we often fail to appreciate what it will take to ensure success. In fact, quite honestly, I had not nearly often enough considered the long term effects of those quick, easy and sometimes even thoughtless decisions I have made in jobs, relationships, and life in general. Then it struck me that there are three essentials that can and will ensure the degree of our success. Focus – Faith – Fervor

Focus is the starting point

“What you choose to focus your mind on is critical because you will become what you think about most of the time…”

Noel Peebles

Finding the focus, that central theme or purpose for our actions and existence, sets the stage for a healthier, more productive and definitely more satisfied existence.

Some Focus Finding Questions:

What motivates me?

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What interests me?

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What inspires me?

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Faith is the second point.

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Finding our faith, that unshakable belief that we have the strength, resourcefulness and talent to live and work in a manner that always, always contributes. This is the midpoint for fulfillment and satisfaction.

Some Faith Finding Questions:

How do I totally support myself in my focus?

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How do I tap into that universal source of strength that holds me unshakable to my focus?

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Who can help to restore my faith in my focus?

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Fervor is the is the third essential component.

Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.

Vincent van Gogh

Some Fervor Finding Questions:

How do I get motivated?

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How do I get back on track once derailed from my focus?

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What would ignite that candle of passion when there is no fuel left?

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It’s within our power to change lives, companies, communities and the world with focus, faith and fervor.

 

What is Leadership?

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

Peter Drucker ‘s definition of leadership:

“Leadership is not magnetic personality– that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not “making friends and influencing people”–that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s  vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”

 

It’s one thing to manage, to control, to dictate. It is quite another thing to demonstrate
extraordinary leadership. Leaders serve as catalysts, conductors, facilitators, mentors and coaches. They impact directly on the organization or the individual’s ability to compete and grow.

Leadership is:
Attitude  –   creating a positive, success-oriented, vision & purpose-centered environment.

Interpersonal Skills –  learning, teaching  and understanding of the dynamics of teams effectively.

Assessing  – quickly and clearly identifying  factors critical to the success and sustainability of the organization.

Goal Setting – leaders provide organizational direction and facilitate accomplishing
necessary objectives.

Results Oriented – monitoring and measuring results, following through,  following up, and ultimately making  changes and adjustments as needed.

As you can see, there is very little time for a “glib tongue” and “flattery”. Leaders invest their time  creating and maintaining cultures that effectively develop and support human while expanding business potential and growth.  Lifting people higher while maintaining focus on the vision and the results needed to make an extraordinary organization.

That’s leadership!

The Power of Pain

Laura Novakowski  -  Jul 26, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Pain is symptom and effect, it is not a cause.  It shows up in a multitude of forms.  Pain slows, staggers and often stops us from functioning.  Understanding that pain presents itself helps to get to the source of deeper issues and problems; this is important for growth and change.

The most obvious pain is physical pain. Early manifestations may show up as mild aches and pains.  If the source of the problem is not identified, the symptoms become more acute and debilitating.

Symptoms such as backaches and headaches can range from slightly annoying  to severely debilitating.  The causes are too numerous to list, but if prolonged in duration it becomes important to medical advice.  Other more subtle symptoms may be overlooked and if not investigated can result in devastating physical problems.

Granted a lot more time could be given to pain in the physical realm, but what I believe is just as important to identify the pain shows up in our offices or workspace as well.   I often say to my clients, we can have this conversation in a hospital room or in a boardroom.  Allowed to go unchecked, undiagnosed and untreated, the power of pain can be catastrophic and cancerous to an organization.

Consider the pain that shows up in the office or workplace.  If left undetected, can fester to the point of irreversible damage.

Examples:

  • Employees come to meeting late, unprepared and non participative and leadership allows it.
  • Employers ridicule and reprimand in public and employees accept and scurry away to try to do better or staying below the radar.
  • Communication is unclear, no one questions or challenges.
  • Departments compete and derail and management lives lost sales and customers.

Obviously, this is a very, very short list. When the source of the pain is not assessed, the affects are lethal.  Turnover increases, firings are rampant and arbitrary. The toxins become like nails in a coffin. Reputations are destroyed. Resources are compromised.

Just as, in my opinion, no physical disease is hopeless, neither is cultural disease.  Using a simple model can ultimately heal the organization.  I’d like to reinforce the power of ACTS  to alleviate pain.

  • Leadership needs to assess the results and identify the gaps.
  • The entire organization needs to create a clear vision and values that people can align their goals and performance.
  • Plans and strategies need to support motivation and innovation to transform problems and obstacles into opportunities.
  • Teams  need to be held accountable through best performance practices and standards to overcome challenges in order to sustain and support success and growth.

Yes, it is uncomfortable when pain shows up. That being said, there is power in pain, if one is just willing to investigate and diagnose the true causes of cultural disease.

Make This a Refresh Your Business Day

Laura Novakowski  -  Jul 18, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Business is organic and dynamic. Always changing, shifting and moving. Two quarters have past and half  of 2012 is gone and no matter how spectacular or dismal the year has been now is the time to rejuvenate.  Why bother you ask? Well, take it from a reformed workaholic, I am more effective, productive and valuable when I take a day to refresh instead of staying buried under piles of work. Believe me, the work will still be there tomorrow.

I’d like to make 7 suggestions to refresh, renew and revitalize your business. To let go of the weightiness of what is sometimes overwhelming work and that feeling of always pushing up hill.

  1. Clear your calendar.  The competition will keep nipping at our heels. The economy will continue to fluctuate. Clients will lose interest. Partners will depart. Time continues and flies by.  The fact is, we cannot control our competitors, the economy, partners, or clients. Nor can we control time – the clock will continue to tick, the sun will rise and set. Work and life goes on and we have totally missed the joy of it all.  Treat yourself to whatever gives you new energy and new ideas just for one day.
  2. Go on an adventure.All to often, we slog through work just to get it done.  Slogging doesn’t really generate quality work. It’s rote and dull, leaving us and everyone around us less than inspired too.   You don’t have to leave town.  It’s amazing how much there is to discover in your  community if you just decide to explore.  Markets, art galleries, corner pubs, parks abound. It’s amazing to Learn the local culture,  art and resources right in your own back yard.
  3. Visit a play ground. Kids are wonderful to watch. Find a bench and enjoy the laughter and screams of joy.    Children are so limitless and courageous.  Just watching them communicate, interact, compete and share is so much fun.  They don’t worry about dirt,  heat,  or even time. They are so in the moment.  They don’t concern themselves with the next deal,  the next crisis, the next challenge. They are just in the moment. Better yet, join in if you can.
  4. Take a walk in nature.  Trees and flowers abound this time of year.  Notice the vibrant colors.  Appreciate how plants and scrubs reside in close proximity. If you can find a stream, lake or the beach that’s terrific too. All the tides of the ocean to put you back into the rhythm of life.  There is no competition or fighting and  beauty abounds.
  5. Play music.  Rock and roll. opera, rap, country, jazz. Play it loud or soft. Allow the music to wash over you. Turn off phones and move away from computers, unless they are your source of music.  I find that music works great to help me refocus and recharge. Keeping ipods and cd’s handy are great energizers even for short breaks and car trips.
  6. Listen to audio books.If you normally listen to audio books for work or self improvement. Put them away.  Pick up a mystery, murder, sci fi, romance, comedy, historical fiction. Books are wonderful detractors,  taking you places that you might have only dreamed about.  I always travel with audio books, the trip is amazing and provides a brief respite from business conversations.  Safer too.
  7. Plant a garden. At the very least visit a nursery, green house or market and pick out one plant.  Notice their leaves, flowers, scents and textures.  Plants are so great and once you carry one back to your office or company, they will become a friend for life. They filter our air, love us unconditionally and only ask for water and gentle handling. And, they serve as a great reminder for the time you took for yourself – that break so needed – that one cannot help but smile.

Seven suggestions, low cost, huge value. You are so worth the time you invest in a refreshing your business day. For those who might struggle with full days, consider starting with an hour, that’s what I do and it makes all the difference in the value that I can add to my work and my life. Enjoy and be refreshed!

 

 

Attitude – Leads to a Field of Dreams

Laura Novakowski  -  Jun 27, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Cosner heard a voice whisper – “If you build it, they will come.”

More than a decade ago I was sitting in one of our numerous corporate meetings rehashing cutbacks, shrinking reimbursement and quality challenges and my mind started to wander.  “Why does every meeting have to be this way?” heart and soul seem to be shouting.  Suddenly, I heard a voice  whisper – build CASTLES – “Create Attitudes and Strategies Tapping Limitless Energy for Success.” 

Grabbing a napkin on the table in front of me – I scribbled these words down and passed it over to a colleague and dear friend.  She smiled indulgently and asked “So?” I answered without hesitation, “This is the focus on my company.”

Leaving the meeting, I gathered up reports, notes and my napkin.  Back in the office, I filled and tossed papers, somehow the napkin made it into my top drawer.  Moving up in the organization, I now was much more focused on working with building attitudes for success.  Sometimes it happened, sometimes it didn’t.  A great organization just not the place for me.

Several years and countless meetings later, I left that organization and opened my own business.  My vision and  focus were on creating those attitudes and strategies tapping limitless energy for success.  I just wanted to build CASTLES.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with a family and friends that supported positive thinking.  The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale has been one of the mainstays of my library.  My company’s name – Positive Power Strategies, Inc. is a constant affirmation of using a positive mental attitude.

The secret for me is in the belief that every person, every business, every community is an opportunity to build CASTLES.  With each client and company that I am engaged, I have the opportunity to discover wonderful creativity and opportunities that can be tapped leading to limitless energy and success. Together we discover tools and techniques that translate into action and extraordinary results.  I have the honor and privilege to share obstacles and opportunities, dreams and goals with so many people.  People whom given the time, tools and assistance with clarifying their vision and discovering their talents have the capacity to build their own amazing CASTLES.

My secret is an attitude that I am  building it and they will come.

Where is your field of dreams?  What would you like to build so that they will come?

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!

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