Using Powerful Questions to Fight the Negative ‘What-Ifs’

This is the second in a series on becoming more innovative. The first blog focused on the culture, and this one and the next focus on you.

While creating a culture of positive what-ifs and why-nots is crucial, the success of that transition starts with the leader being a positive role model.

If you are resistant to new ideas and are overly risk-averse, so too will be your peers and employees. People will follow the leader, for better or worse.

Let’s take a look at why it is important to not get stuck in the negative “what-ifs” and some practical things you can do to shift your mindset.

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Creating a Culture of Positive What-Ifs and Why Nots

This blog post is the first of a two-part series on getting unstuck. This post focuses on organizations, and the next will focus on individuals.

Is your organization defined by a “culture of stuck” where the conversation gets mired in all the negative what-ifs instead exclaiming “Why not? Let’s make this happen!”

I recall when I led a team at a university and we tried a video contest to increase student engagement. Back then, making videos was just becoming popular. Nothing like our idea had been done before in the college, and we were excited about a new approach using technology in a new way. We even had generous company sponsorships for winners. But there were no winners — because there were no entries. We were stunned but not daunted. We had learned what didn’t work and assessed why.

But the reaction from other departments astounded me.

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Better Questions for More Learning

It’s funny how people think that when you have your own business things slow down in December. Quite the opposite, which made a presentation by Quyen Nguyen quite impactful a few weeks ago. Her words inspired me to slow down, ask more questions and really listen. One morning, I took Quyen’s advice. I decided not to rush off at the end of a coffee meeting, and as a result, I had the most amazing conversation. I waited to hear a story that deeply touched me, and it helped me get to know someone on a much deeper level.

I am delighted to share with you Quyen’s insights from a recent interview she gave following that presentation. As background, Quyen is from Vietnam and has worked in multiple countries as a researcher. She is currently earning her doctorate in applied economics and sustainable development. Read the Full Article

Enabling Those with Focus Strength to Contribute More

Focus was one of the Gallup top 10 dominant strengths that I didn’t realize I had until I took the All 34 test and became a certified coach. My awareness of Focus being a strength of mine and the subsequent changes I made in how I do my work boosted my productivity 25 percent. In this blog, we will identify steps a person with high Focus strength – perhaps you or an employee – can take to increase performance.

Focus is one of the strengths with a label that actually reflects its definition. Those of us with Focus in our top 10 strengths have the ability to hone in on a problem, eliminate distractions, and power through to get the work done. Trying to multitask – while no one can physiologically do it – significantly impairs us because we are at our best with a singular goal focus. It is similar to a light at the end of the tunnel that we fixate on as we identify and push through milestones to reach it. The bad news is that we may not even hear someone when they talk with us while we are “in the zone” (one client actually will respond and make commitments and not recall the conversations). The intensity and output can be phenomenal.

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Using Strengths to Break Through Walls of Frustration

This is a second blog in a series about how to explain your strengths to maximize impact. Last time we focused on interviewing, and here we will examine building a better relationship with your leader and co-workers.

I recall a few years ago when I was in a first meeting with a client who was a high Analytical. As we were discussing his strengths, every two to three sentences were met with a “why?” or “how can that be?” I had never known anyone to drill down so deep into all the detail. An hour and many questions later, I found myself exhausted (as I am not an “in the weeds” person) but also realizing I needed to appreciate what that strength brought to a team. Because I had an appreciation of his strengths and mine, I was able to self-manage my reaction, increase my patience level, and improve the team’s performance level.

But what if your manager or peer doesn’t know about your Gallup strengths, let alone their own? What do you do then? Read the Full Article

How to Nail Your Next Interview

When I coach clients interviewing for jobs, one of the most common frustrations I hear is: “I hate to talk about myself.” Gallup Strengths provide a cure for that problem by shifting the focus from “why I am great” to “why I am the way I am.” I think this latter dialogue feels better because it seems more objective, while still getting the necessary points across. This can also be true when explaining one’s actions or thought process to a leader, the subject of the second blog in this series.

Let’s assume you are asked, “Why should I hire you?” Here are two possible answers: Read the Full Article

Interdependence Yields Better Results

I was brought up to be fiercely independent – not needing to rely on anyone or anything. I think many people can relate to this because it is part of our culture of independence in America.
Around 2010, JP Thompson – a student of mine, showed me how wrong my thinking had been and that it is ok to ask for assistance and to be interdependent. That paradigm shift was life changing for me. Without it, I would not be celebrating the fifth anniversary of BONSAI this month.

There are so many people on this journey who have helped transform hundreds of lives, and I am grateful to all of you – my mentors, clients, friends, and most of all, Patrick. You all gave me support, encouragement, advice, opportunity, wisdom, tough feedback when I needed it, and love. Most of all, I am thankful to my heavenly Father for creating me with these gifts and talents and providing wisdom, knowledge and direction when I asked.

Here are some diagnostic questions to see if you suffer from what I did with being too self-reliant:

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Resting Your Way to Productivity

In my office, I used to have a framed picture of an empty hammock on the beach with this quote at the bottom:

The art of doing nothing is really something.

I purchased it because I love beaches and hammocks without really thinking about the words written. I recall one day thinking, “When other managers read it, will they think I am lazy?” I have since started BONSAI and gained more wisdom through experiences and learning from those I coach. I have come to realize there is great truth in that proclamation.

Not Resting is on the Top 10 List with Murder
Yes, that reality hit me this morning during my quiet time. Not setting aside a day of rest (taking the Sabbath) is one of the Ten Commandments – as is not murdering. It never occurred to me in that light – God thought they were both of similar importance to put on the top 10 list.

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Up Close and Personal with Woo

I recently interviewed Hallie Thompson, who is about to receive her PhD in Plant Sciences and currently running for U.S. House of Representatives in Missouri, about her #1 strength, Woo. Gallup defines this strength as “loving the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over, deriving satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection.” See my previous blog for more details on using and working with Woo.

Remember, Woo doesn’t define you. It is a powerful strength that can be used to connect with others and make your passion, skills and true self shine!

It may be an unfair stereotype, but we often don’t associate Woo with being a scientist. What is that like? How does it help you?

My top strength is Woo. As a scientist with this strength, projects and collaborations are really easy to get started and difficult to wrap up. Having Woo as a strength can make popping in to a professor’s office easier when inquiring about a study as well as make tracking down a long lost protocol easier. It is also helpful to use my Woo perspective to give a unique piece of insight on an outreach project. With a number of different approaches to scientific study, we are all better off. Read the Full Article

Woo – More Than a Cool Name!

I heard a persistent knock on our home door one Sunday. When I answered, I had to adjust my gaze down about 3 feet to find the visitor. Little Caleb greeted me with a “Hi! What’s going on?” and continued to banter with me for about 10 minutes, sharing tales of adventure — including breaking a nightlight on his brother’s head (I unsuccessfully tried not to laugh). He then shared with me how he had visited all the neighbors on his green scooter hoping to chat and meet people. I smiled and thought, “Now, there is woo in the making!”

It’s funny how no other Gallup strength inspires more of a curiosity by those who don’t have it, and more of a flourish by those who do, when it is called out at a conference. We typically all yell in unison “Woohoo!” Let’s dive into a deeper understanding of this strength and its special ability to influence. Read the Full Article

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