My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
purchase it at B & N, Amazon or (click on image of cover)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Motivation With Personal Performance Reviews

One dreaded part of an individual’s work life is the Annual Performance review. The nervousness, upset stomach feeling and pre-worry that comes before the review; makes it a part of the work environment that many hate. The review is meant to motivate employees but often demotivates and comes across as a yearly despised ritual.

So what really motivates us in our work? Daniel H. Pink in his book Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us . In it he focuses in on three key elements of motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The important thought about the three elements is that they are internal based in the individual instead of external motivators.

With autonomy the focus is freeing up people to do their work with out micromanaging the details of their work. Trusting workers to do their jobs frees them up to not feel like just cogs in a machine. Autonomy builds personal accountability and responsibility for the work and projects, a person is working on. In a micromanaging environment people can not do their best as they have to deal with the un-nerving feeling that they are being watched continuously which they usually are. This creates personal second guessing instead of releasing productive creative new ideas.

Mastery the next element relates to continual self improvement in your work. Pink places a portion of a poem by W. H. Auden in his section on Mastery:

You need not know what someone is doing to know if it is his vocation,
You only have to watch his eyes; a cook mixing a sauce,
a surgeon making a primary incision, a clerk completing a bill of lading,
Wear the rapt expression, forgetting themselves in a function.
How beautiful it is that eye-on-the-object look. – W. H. Auden -

The poem touches on a part of Mastery in one’s work of being in a state of flow. Being at a level where the work just flows with ease with rapt attention to what you are working on. Mastery also enlists a growth mindset of not being satisfied with the mundane but improving towards excellence. Mastery takes discipline and hard work as well. Daniel Pink brings out the example of the 10 year rule research that many people we consider great did not get that way in an instant. It takes on the average 10 years to build their skills before they were discovered or they had their big break. This time frame is based on researching the disciplined habits of sports stars, virtuoso musicians, and artists. Mastery takes time and effort.

The third element is Purpose. Purpose is a powerful motivator as it gives us a reason for what we are doing in our work and lives. Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi is quoted in the book on the subject of purpose: “Purpose provides activation energy for living.” Purpose provides the energy to keep on going when we don’t feel like it. Creating clear goals helps shape and clarify our sense of purpose. We can have work goals for our vocational life and personal goals for other aspects of our daily living to keep us living more than ok.

Going back to the issue of personal Reviews; one main invaluable part of the book is the ending “Toolkit”. This is where Daniel Pink provides a variety of exercises to flesh out the elements of the book in a practical way for everyday life. One tool I want to share here is the “Give Yourself A Performance Review”. Instead of waiting for the Boss to review you -- review yourself. The example is in the context of work but this will help even in your personal life goals as well.
Once a month find some quiet time to look over your learning goals, performance goals, and/or personal goals. Honestly consider how you are doing on each goal. Is there a way you can improve on reaching your goals or do they need to be revised? Honestly look at the obstacles that are hindering your progress.
This exercise can help with your reaching your goals and may just help you be more relaxed as you face a work review evaluation.

Reflection: Take some time to journal about your purposes you have in your life. What is your purpose in going to your job? What is the overarching purpose for your life? Also Daniel Pink’s book DRIVE is about motivation. Another toolkit idea is to do a Personal Motivational Poster. Try to do one with a phrase you make up as a motivator or a special quote. You can draw or do cutouts of pictures from magazines. Or Daniel Pink mentions websites that help you create motivational posters with pictures you have taken. Check out these websites:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer Reading Lists

Summer time is often a time for Bookheads like myself to take more time to read. Even people who are not Bookheads tend to read more in the Summer. One help in encouraging reading in the Summer are Summer booklists. I was reminded of this as I was reading the August edition of one of my favorite magazines, Success . It is a magazine geared to principles to help people be successful in life and business. They had a reading list of what a selection of business leaders, actresses, actors, and musicians were reading.

As I looked through the list I saw books I have read in the past. The article also gave me ideas of new books I want to read in the future. I then went to Google’s search engine and searched for Summer reading Lists and there was a variety of lists from Oprah, suggested children book lists, Universities and bookstores reading lists as well. Viewing such book lists gives ideas for books to look for at the library, or books you may wish to purchase for your Summer reading.

Here is the list of books I have started reading for this Summer. Some I have completed and others I am still working on:

Flourish by Martin Seligman – Dr. Seligman discusses key principles of Positive Psychology and how the discipline aids in people having a flourishing life.
Your Creative Brain by Shelley Carson – Dr. Shelley Carson provides the reader with concepts from her research in improving levels of personal creativity.
Drive by Daniel Pink – Another great book by Daniel Pink, this one focuses on developing our internal motivation skills.
Distance Counseling by Editors James Malone, Randy Miller, & Gary Waltz -- As a Counselor, I found this book eye opening as to the expanding effectiveness os Counseling of individuals by using the internet communication process.
Eccentrics by David Weeks & Jamie James – A psychological study on Eccentric individuals throughout history. Gives insights on key elements in the eccentric personality.
A Praying Life by Paul Miller – This book is a practical and honest look at the subject of prayer. Through personal examples of the author he shows the struggle with prayer and the importance of prayer.
Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias -- Ravi Zacharias edits a series of Apologetic articles on helping Christians have a firmer understanding of why they believe what they believe in a post modern age.
Creating Minds by Howard Gardner – This book is a psychological study of creativity looking at the lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham and Gandhi.

As you finish up the Summer you may want to go to your local library and pick out a book of your favorite genre to read. If you are needing new ideas for books click on the word GOOGLE here and it will take you to a list of booklists to peruse.

Reflection: Think about the books you have read this Summer. Reflect over what you like the most about the books. Check out a couple book reading lists and find a new book to read.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Live, Love, Laugh -- Key Words In Living More Than OK

Before we made our move to New Braunfels a co-worker of my wife gave her the three wooden sea gulls shown in the picture. On the wooden base each bird is attached to reads the words “Live, Love, Laugh”. We placed them in our new house in a built-in display shelf as one enters the living room area.

These three words capture much of the spirit of this blog in living our lives more than ok. As we recently walked through our neighborhood I noticed a couple houses have decorative signs with the saying “Live, Love, Laugh”. As I searched about these words on the internet I saw one sign that expands on them “Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often”. Wondering about the background of this phrase I then searched where the phrase came from. At a reply to a similar question was that the phrase came from a poem by a poetess, Bessie Anderson Stanley. Here is a copy of the poem.

Bessie Anderson Stanley wrote a poem in 1904 entitled "Success." It reads in its entirety:

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth's beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction.

Let’s look at each word, the first being “Live”. We are placed on this earth to live not boring lives but to live well. We need to make the most of life and enjoy our time to the fullest. From the text of the poem the “live” is not just selfish existence but to make the world a better place. Take time to enjoy the beauty of creation. Living is also relating in a way to others to build them up. I see in the poem the importance of mentoring people around us to bring out the best in them.

The second word in the sequence in our bird picture is “Love”. In the poem the thought is to love much. The first thought that comes to my mind is the Greek term agape the one word for love that is used in the Greek New Testament in the context of God’s unconditional love. Also sacrificial love as is described in the Love chapter of the Bible, I Corinthians 13. Here is an except from verses 1-7:

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This love lived out in our lives can as the poem says, help us be a person who “left the world better than he found it…”.

The third word is laugh. The poem speaks of laughing often. A verse from Proverbs comes to mind. Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Laughter brings joy to our life and heart. Laughter is good therapy to help us be healthy as it relaxes us. It is a natural stress reliever. Comedy films are often popular as they help people feel good afterwards. Laughter therefore helps us to live better. It can brighten up a dreary boring day. Laughter also helps us from taking ourselves and life too seriously. I am all for being serious about life but sometimes we go overboard and we then need to learn to laugh at ourselves.

So as you go through this week think through these three important words, Live, Love, Laugh. Ask yourself are you Living Well, Loving Much, and Laughing Often?

Reflection: Reflect over the three words Live, Love, Laugh. What do they mean to you? Think over the poem and ask yourself how can you be an inspiration this week? On the coming weekend rent a comedy movie and enjoy some laughs.