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spike bullet February 2009 - Staying Inspired

Diamonds are created under pressure
When the going gets tough, the tough get going
Tips for staying inspired every day 
Resources (links, books, articles, the lighter side)

color bulletFinding inspiration to make it through the tough times

One of the themes we mentioned for this year is "Finding inspiration to make it through the tough times."  The major news media seem to be doing their very best to bring us the worst possible information ever single day Ė more layoffs at xxx company, more politicians doing unethical things, more criminals taking advantage of people, more thefts, more war news. . . and so it goes, ad nauseum it seems. 

How does a person keep themselves inspired and moving forward in spite of the constant barrage of bad news? 

The key to a successful endeavor is to set a clear Intention for what you want and move forward in the direction of your goals ó no matter what obstacles seem to appear in front of you.  We say "seem" because seeing something as an obstacle in a negative way or as an opportunity in a positive is a conscious choice that we each make many times a day. 

An example:

Your boss decides to give you a new assignment even though you are already overworked (so you think).  You can choose to feel like a victim and complain, or you can let yourself feel excited about the new people you will meet, the great work you will do and the great benefit you will provide to your company and many others through your work on that project.  

Perhaps this is just the opportunity you need to let someone else have an opportunity to do some of your own work that no longer gives you a thrill. 

The ripple effects of how YOU choose to deal with this one small situation will affect you, your co-workers, your peers, your family and possibly many others that you cannot even know about.

Can you see how shifting your focus just a slight bit can change a "bad" situation into a "great" and exciting situation? That is one essential key to finding inspiration in difficult times ó changing your attitude from negative to positive ó and seeing a situation as a great exciting opportunity not as something to feel victimized about.

Diamonds are created under great pressure

Diamonds are created under great pressure.  Think about that as you go about your day.  Diamonds are created from coal (not a pretty thing), yet through the force of heat and intense pressure, the resulting diamonds are among the most beautiful things ever seen. The same is true of the challenges we face every single day in our work life and our personal life.   The hardest times are the ones that teach us the most.  Many people who have faced severe challenges say that if they had to do it over again, they would do it the same way in spite of the hardship, pain and anguish that they had to endure.

How does this help during tough times?  Well, as you go about your day, think about the many challenges or obstacles you see.  Then, see if you can figure out a way to solve those challenges by shifting your perception of them just a little bit.  Instead of seeing them as roadblocks, see them as stepping stones to a better way of doing things.  Or, see them as a detour that allows you to encounter an entirely new way of doing something that wasn't getting done before.  There are huge opportunities just waiting to be discovered to solve the problems of our society, our country and our planet.  And, there are millions of smaller opportunities also waiting to be discovered.  It only take someone who is willing to see them to get them out into the light.  You could be the one to shine the light on some of those opportunities.  

Instead of complaining all day about what's wrong, re-train yourself to see the glorious opportunities all around you just waiting for someone to uncover them.  And, you can help others to see those hidden opportunities as well.  

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going"  A common saying that calls out the natural instincts of people to do their best when the times are the most challenging.  Think about how average people react to news of a local disaster - hurricane, flood, winter storm, fire, building collapse, train crash, plane crash, etc.  Plane crash on the Hudson - passengers standing on the wings  

The "Miracle on the Hudson" stories remind us of about how airline pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, landed a commercial airplane on the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 yet everyone on the plane came out alive.  That's a feat that has never been done before.  A true inspiration if there ever was one.   The pilot is credited with incredible skill in getting the plane down.  

The flightPlane crash on the Hudson - passengers standing on the wings personnel assisted and the passengers all helped to get everyone to safety after the plane landed in the icy water.  They were rescued within minutes.    

As managers, executives and leaders, our job is to keep our own attitude as positive as possible as we provide the best guidance, mentoring and coaching to our employees.  We do that by paying attention to the tempo of the workplace, making sure that we offer support for staff who are stressed by their daily job in addition to the now-almost-constant barrage of news that someone else is laying off people or the economy is getting worse.   

Even if your company or organization is having boom times now, there is still some underlying insecurity as friends are laid off, plants close down, tax revenues decline and stores go out of business all around town and around the world.

More tips for staying inspired every day:

  1. Learn more about stress ó what causes it, what can be done about it and how it affects productivity.  Learn more about how to manage stress in yourself and others.  
  2. Pay attention to your employees and how their productivity is being affected.  Do you notice more people hanging out at the water cooler talking instead of working?  Thatís a big sign that they are concerned about something.  Find out what it is and find ways to address their concerns.
  3. Pay attention to what is going on in the world around your company or organization.  Are layoffs mounting?  If so, put in place ways for employees to talk about their concerns.  Offer some workshops on dealing with stress.  They can be simple 1-hour lunchtime sessions or informal brown bag sessions where people can get some good tips for coping.
  4. Pay attention to your own health and well-being. Make sure you get plenty of rest at night.  Maintain a healthy diet and stay away from stimulants (coffee, sugar, alcohol, etc.) as much as possible.
  5. Get regular exercise.  Exercise releases endorphins also that help you feel better.  
  6. Take physical breaks and walk around the building or get some fresh air.  Take time to enjoy the sunshine for a few minutes. 
  7. Take care of the important things at work. Some people have worked out a system where they do at least one "difficult" task first before working on the easier things.  There is something very Invigorating about finishing something challenging and it will pick up your spirits to have it out of the way.
  8. If you have to do layoffs in your company or organization, do it with compassion.  Give employees as much advance notice as possible and as much severance or benefits as you can.  You may need to hire those employees back some day.  Consider putting people on part-time status to keep more people working through the slow times.  Ask employees for ideas for saving money and keeping the company on track.  
  9. Learn your own signs of stress and pay attention when you see those signs to take extra care of yourself.
  10. Learn the signs of stress in others. Some of the most common are anger, frustration, resentment, blame, lower productivity, complaining, depression, not working well with others, inability to make decisions, uncertainty, etc.
  11. Understand what inspires you and do some of that every day.  Some people feel inspired by seeing their loved ones, so put pictures of them around your office or on your computer screen saver.  For those who have children, grandchildren, significant others or favorite pets, watch their eyes light up every time their eyes land on those reminders of happier times.
    • Some people are inspired by music.  Maybe you can play your favorite CD in the car on the way to work or keep a portable CD player handy for use when a quick "pick me up" is needed during the day.
    • Some people like to play games to help them feel good.  Some games can be taken to work (like small hand held computer games or a deck of cards) for a quick pick-up break during lunch.
    • Some people like to tell jokes to help them feel good.  There are plenty of jokesters around most workplaces.  Just be careful that the jokes are appropriate in the workplace.
    • Some people feel inspired by reading poetry.  Your favorites can be carried with you in book form, on diskette, CD or USB drive or you can look up others on the Internet.
    • Some people feel better when they are with other people they like.  They can find ways to connect with friends during the day in person or by phone.  Maybe schedule an evening with friends.
    • Some people enjoy planning vacations.  So a great stress reliever is to start planning their next trip. Maybe have a picture of the location in their office of on their computer screen saver to bring out those good feelings whenever they see it.
    • Maybe you have a secret desire to create a new business or new product.  At lunch or during breaks, you can spend a few minutes working on your business idea.  This is one of the tips we offer in our book, Income Without a Job.
    • Share "fun" or "inspiring" tips with others at work.  Staff meetings can be tedious and tiring.  How about this suggestion to relieve stress: Start every meeting with attendees sharing something fun or upbeat.  The energy of the entire meeting will shift in a positive way and people will be more likely to approach the meeting issues in a more positive way.
  12. Share "fun" or "inspiring" tips with others at work.  Staff meetings can be tedious and tiring.  How about this suggestion to relieve stress: Start every meeting with attendees sharing something fun or upbeat.  The energy of the entire meeting will shift in a positive way and people will be more likely to approach the meeting issues in a more positive way.
  13. Clean up your space.  Another thing that some people find helpful is to clean.  Maybe take some time to throw out those old files from 10 years ago that no one has looked at since.  Delete those e-mails that are no longer needed.  Be aware of legal and organizational policies on file retention when you do these.  Clean off your desk and put things into file folders.
  14. Rearrange the furniture in your office (if possible) and/or at home.  If you have the option, maybe paint an accent wall or put up a new picture.  Along these lines, I recently bought a beautiful painting of a tropical island scene and now have it hanging in my office.  When I look at the ocean waves, the palm trees bending in a gentle breeze and the hint of a rainbow coming through the clouds, it immediately makes me feel calmer.
  15. Take responsibility for yourself and your thoughts and only yours.  You are not responsible for anyone elseís thoughts or actions.  You can influence other people but you canít change them.
  16. Pay attention to your own self and do the very best you can every day.  "Tend your own garden" as Wayne Dyer likes to say, based on the teachings of philosopher Candide Voltaire.  That means: do what is yours to do and let others do what is theirs to do.  You have enough of your own work to do without getting involved in what is not yours to do.
  17. Affirm that everyone is doing the very best they can at every moment.  Donít get into denigrating others, blaming others or whining about what others are doing or not doing.  Mind your own business.  
  18. When something surprises you or you feel yourself shifting to "poor me" or "oh, no," immediately change your attitude to "yippee!" and allow yourself to open up your mind to the wonderful benefits and opportunities of this new thing that is front you.  You will likely have plenty of opportunities to practice this one until it becomes a habit.
  19. Let it go at the end of the day. Easier said than done, surely.  Yet, still a very good practice.  When you leave the office, leave your work there.  As you head home, allow your thoughts to focus on the joys of your family or to enjoying your own private space if you live alone.
  20. Helping others is another great way to feel inspired via a non-profit or social service activity.  Helping to build or remodel homes for people who need them, feeding the hungry, serving the community in some way, working on a volunteer community clean-up effort or serving on the board of a community group can all offer a way to put your life in perspective and give you reasons to feel blessed every day by the good life you enjoy compared to those who may be less fortunate than you are.
  21. Say "Please" and "Thank you."  These sound trite yet how many times a day do we stop to say "thank you" to someone who has helped us or done something for us?  Take the time to do it and you will add to your own positive attitude and to someone elseís.
  22. Put a smile on your face when you answer the phone and say, "How can I help you?"  Believe it nor, smiles can be heard across a phone line as you interact with a stranger or someone who is contacting you for assistance.
  23. Slow down and smell the roses.  Many jobs require things be done quickly.  Most do not.  Rushing unnecessarily leads to mistakes, accidents and injuries.  And, a job poorly done must be done over so it ends up taking more time than it would if done correctly the first time.
  24. Pay attention to safety in the workplace.  Stress is one of the known factors contributing to accidents and injuries.  When stressed, pay extra attention to safety and to using safe procedures.  Many workplaces start the day with a safety meeting or short training.  Or, a safety tip at every meeting.  What can you do to make your workplace safer?
  25. Try meditation or yoga.  Many people find that a few minutes of quieting their mind in the morning, in the shower or during the day can do wonders for helping them to stay calm and peaceful when the day seems to get out of control around them.
  26. Laugh out loud every single day ó more times during the day if possible.  No matter what is happening in your life, you can find something to laugh about.  If you canít think of anything, look in the mirror and laugh at   yourself!  Your laughter should be a full-body belly laugh to get your endorphins flowing.

  Internet Resources

book graphic  Books   -  Disclosure: We get a small commission for purchases made via links to Amazon.

world wide web - articles  Articles

Related newsletter article:
    October 2002 - Reducing Stress in the Workplace
    July 2001 -- Balancing Life and Work
    May 2002 - Stress: How It Affects the Roles We Play
    September 2004 - Stress Busters: Managing Stress in the Workplace
    September 1997 -- Balancing Life and Work
    October 2000 - Moving Beyond the Obstacles
    March 1999 -- Dealing with Difficult People
    October 2004 - Conflict Resolution: Winning Without War
    September 1996 -- Motivating Employees

smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

Rex Babin (c) 2009 creator, the Sacramento Bee cartoonist


About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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