Time Management – 5 Tips to Get More Time Back
When I talk to managers and executives, time management is one of the skills they talk about their teams needing the most.

Time Management – 5 Tips to Get More Time Back

Time is our most valuable resource. Once it’s gone we can never get it back and we all want to make the most of our time. When I talk to managers and executives, time management is one of the skills they say their teams need most. If you feel like you need help in this area, you’re not alone. I think almost everyone wishes they had a little better handle on where their time goes.

When I was in the Air Force I had one assignment where I was traveling at least 3 days a week, 3 weeks a month. It was an amazing job but it took a lot of time management skill.  I’m usually been pretty good at keeping track of where I need to be and when I need to be there. I’m not always good at figuring out how long something will take. These five tips will help you with both of those areas.

Time Management Tip #1 – Get a Calendar

Before you read any further, get a calendar. It can be electronic or paper, it doesn’t matter. I suggest using the one on your phone because it’s easy to make changes and we all pretty much have our phones with us all of the time. Put everything that’s important to you on this calendar. Focus on appointments when you have to be in a certain place at a certain time. Enter all the info that’s important. Use the repeating and recurring features and color codes too. Don’t go crazy with this at first. Start out by putting in appointments for tomorrow or this week. Don’t start trying to put your whole year in right now.

Time Management Tip #2 – Track Appointments

Track how long your appointments actually take and adjust them as necessary. I almost always underestimate the time it takes to complete something. Recording the time an appointment actually takes compared to what I planned helps me estimate time better. You don’t need to do this forever because you’ll start to develop a database in your mind. When you’re setting appointments for the first time keep track of their duration.

Time Management Tip #3 – Don’t Delete Appointments

Don’t delete appointments, especially ones with yourself. One rule that I use is that I’m not allowed to delete anything off the calendar once I’ve put it on there. I’m absolutely allowed to move things around, but I’m not allowed to just remove it. This still lets you take advantage of opportunities that pop up or handle time critical situations when they arise. There will be emergencies or unusual situations where you have to delete something, but it’s pretty rare that you can’t find a new day or time for something, especially if it’s important to you.

Time Management Tip #4 – Make White Space

Remember how I said put everything that’s important to you on your calendar? The emphasis is on the word important. Meetings, phone calls, time critical tasks are all good for the calendar. I even include my workouts and when I schedule appointments to meet up with friends so I don’t accidentally schedule something at the same time. Putting in all of your regular activities like “work” at your workplace will fill up your calendar and it will be hard to differentiate the most important events. White space also provides places that you can move appointments to when you have to reschedule something.

Time Management Tip #5 – Set Priorities

This is really the most important of the 5 tips, but I think it’s important to have a handle on the first 4 before addressing this. Know what’s important to you and what needs to be on the calendar. Understand which things are more important to you than others so that once you start moving things around on the calendar you have an idea of when to move them to. Also, understand what the priorities of others are and factor that into your decision-making process. Your boss may not agree with you that your workout is more important than the big client presentation and he probably expects you to show up to that.

There are your five tips to help you get a handle on your time and use it effectively. You won’t actually be getting any more time, but you’ll feel like you are. Your calendar is really just a tool in all of this. To really manage your time well it’s important to make commitments to yourself and your priorities. If you live up to those commitments, it will be easy to find the time to get them all done!

If you feel something is holding you back, you could be doing it to yourself. Here are three ways to overcome what’s holding you back.

What’s Holding You Back – 3 Tips to Break Through

Often we feel like we could achieve more if we could just break through the barriers in front of us. A lot of times though we’re the ones placing those barriers. If you feel something is holding you back, you could be doing it to yourself. Here are three ways to overcome what’s holding you back.

What’s Holding You Back – Fear of Failure

One of the biggest things that holds us back is fear of failure or fear of rejection. What we often forget is that failure is often one of our best teachers. Fear of rejection and fear of failure has been a recurring theme in my life. It showed up in my business where I wouldn’t go out and actively ask people to be my clients. I was afraid they would say no and that kept me from asking. The first step was to stop worrying about it and make the ask. I don’t want to give the impression that this has completely gone away. These fears still stick with me sometimes and I must dig deep to find courage sometimes, but it does get easier.

If you’re holding yourself back because of fear of failure of rejection, it’s important to go make that ask, Be polite and professional to the person you are asking. If they say no, it’s not personal and has more to do with them than you. And if anyone takes real offense, they were probably not the right person for you to go forward with anyway.

What’s Holding You Back – Not Asking For Help

A lot of times we don’t ask for help because we’re afraid of being judged or of being vulnerable in front of someone we respect. When I started my company, I was afraid that people wouldn’t think I was good at running a business if I asked for help. But there were skills like marketing and sales that I needed some help with. Twenty years in the Air Force didn’t prepare me for those aspects of business. And the only way I was going to learn was to ask for help. I asked for help and improved my business.

If you feel like you need help in a certain area, the best thing you can do is ask someone. Most people want to help others when they can. Just about everyone loves sharing their expertise if we have reasonable expectations for them. If you need help, find someone knowledgeable and ask specific questions about your problem. Apply their advice and see what results come about for you.

What’s Holding You Back – Negative Self-Talk

The stories that we tell ourselves about who we are and the world around us have a great deal of influence over our attitudes and behavior. Our imaginations are very powerful and can serve us well, but they can also run away from us. Many people tell themselves, “I’m not good enough”, “I’ll never be able to do that” or “I don’t belong here”. I engaged in this kind of negative self-talk for many years. This created beliefs that strained the relationships in both my personal and professional life.

If you tell yourself these kinds of negative stories, you can remedy the situation by separating facts from beliefs. What worked for me was taking a piece of paper and making 2 columns, one for beliefs and one for facts. I wrote down the beliefs I had held on to for so many years and then the facts that went along with that situation. What I found out was that when I looked at the cold hard facts on paper in front of me, the beliefs and feelings I had for so long just could not be supported by the facts.

I will be honest with you, getting past these barriers is not easy. It doesn’t change overnight and still takes a conscious effort. If you feel like you’re being held back look at these three areas and see if you’re the one holding yourself back instead of some outside force. Give these tips a try. Even if they don’t unlock whatever problem you’re facing right away, I promise that you’ll feel better about yourself.

It is a common misconception that you have to be born with self-confidence. Confidence i can be developed just like any other leadership trait or skill.

Self-Confidence – 4 Tips for Building Self Confidence

A lot of people talk about wishing they were more confident. Self-confidence is one of the most important leadership skills that we can develop. It is a common misconception that you have to be born with self-confidence. Confidence can be developed just like any other leadership trait or skill.

While many people consider me to be a pretty confident guy, there was a time when I wasn’t. I was very nervous going into Air Force ROTC Field Training when I was 19. I wasn’t the best runner, wasn’t the best leader and wasn’t really the best at anything we were going to be facing at training.  Organizing and planning things were skills that I had, but that was going to be a very small part of our experience. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through the 4 weeks of training.

All I could do was show up at training and I try. It was hard and there were days I had doubts, but I just kept getting up every morning and trying. I got through the first day and then the second day. Pretty soon a week was done. Then we finished 2 weeks and then it seemed like it was over really quickly. I knew when I came out of that training that I could do anything. I was more confident in my abilities, my leadership skills and myself as a person.

Self-confidence is about trusting yourself to be able to accomplish something you want to do. If you have doubts about whether you can accomplish something, ask yourself, “what would I need to know to eliminate those doubts?”. I know that’s a hard question to ask and sometimes even harder to answer. So here are four tips for gaining more confidence whether you feel like you want a lot more self-confidence in general or just need a little boost now and then.

Self-Confidence Tip #1 – Start Something New

The best thing we can do to boost our self-confidence is to start something new, make a commitment to ourselves and see it through until the end. We may not get the outcome we are looking for, but taking it all the way to the end will grow our confidence. Try a mix of challenges that are easy and hard. Easy ones give us a quick victory and small confidence boost. Harder challenges will have a longer lasting an impact on our self-confidence.

Self-Confidence Tip #2 – Know What You’re Good At

Recognizing what we’re good at helps our confidence. It enables us to play to our strengths when tackling these challenges. We can draw analogies from what we are struggling with and use parallels to apply our talents in new ways. It helps to bring that challenge closer to what we know and understand. It may not work out perfectly and we need to adapt, but knowing our strengths helps us with every problem.

Self-Confidence Tip #3 – Know What You’re NOT Good At

Recognizing what we’re not good at is just as important. When we aren’t good at something we need to get better at it or find ways to overcome it. If we’re really struggling we can find a mentor or guide. We don’t want someone to do it for us, but some support and guidance can push us a little further than we might have gotten on our own.

Self-Confidence Tip #4 – Learn From Failure

Failure is the best teacher and can do wonders for self-confidence if we have the right attitude about it. Don’t be afraid to try, even if you have doubts, especially if you have doubts. We learn the most from making mistakes, seeing it’s not the end of the world, adapting and doing better next time.

On the days when the challenges seem insurmountable, sometimes showing up is all we can do. We might show up and get a terrible outcome. but we can recognize ourselves for showing up and commit to showing up tomorrow and the next day. Even just following through on just showing up will build our self-confidence.

So this is just my best advice for you if you’re looking to build more self-confidence. Looking back on my career and my life, these were the tips that worked best for me. I think they can help you too. Confidence isn’t something that changes overnight, but if you commit to trying to at least one of these tips over a few weeks, I’m confident that you’ll see a noticeable change.

introspection is the ability that we as humans have that allows us to think about ourselves as beings. It is how we question and learn more about our nature, our purpose and our place in the universe. This ability is one of the things that sets us apart from animals. It also allows us to question ourselves, desire something greater, set goals and take action to achieve them. Self-reflection allows us to look back at an experience and learn from it instead of repeating it.

Introspection

Over the last year or so we’ve asked you to do some introspection or we recommend it as a tool to help with another problem or challenge. Looking back on it, I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about what introspection is and what it is not.

To put it simply, introspection, or self-reflection is the ability that we as humans have that allows us to think about ourselves as beings. It is how we question and learn more about our nature, our purpose and our place in the universe. This ability is one of the things that sets us apart from animals. It also allows us to question ourselves, desire something greater, set goals and take action to achieve them. Self-reflection allows us to look back at an experience and learn from it instead of repeating it.

Introspection Tips

We all engage in self-reflection all of the time, but sometimes it’s hard to know if we should trust ourselves. Here are some tips to give you confidence in your own ability to reflect and learn.

The environment we place ourselves in is really critical to self-reflection. Everyone is different, but most of us are served pretty well by finding somewhere quiet away from the noise of life. A place where we can be alone with our thoughts. I find it very hard to be reflective if I’m surrounded by other people, although that isn’t true for everyone.

Another key to effective self-reflection is carving out time in our schedules to do it. As much as we all try to multi-task, most human beings really aren’t all that good at it. Focusing on our thoughts and insights serves us better than trying to capture them while we are also doing a bunch of other tasks. Taking even five minutes to disconnect from everything else can pay big dividends in learning about ourselves.

Let’s recognize that we’re talking about self-reflection. Our process needs to be our own and not what someone else expects from us. While we may face similar challenges to others, what works for them may not work for us. It’s great to take advice from others how we should go about doing it. To be successful though, we have to develop our own practice that uses elements that work for us.

Introspection – Going Forward

Finally, let’s all keep in mind that self-reflection isn’t all about getting to the answers. Sometimes it’s more important to just ask the questions and not try to answer them ourselves. It can be as simple as setting aside our time and place and asking what is on our mind. Instead of trying to answer the question right away, just let ourselves see what answers come to us. The ideas and insights that don’t come from trying to find the answers quickly are often the most valuable!

We all made it through another year! The upcoming holidays are a great time for looking back at our successes and the lessons we learned in 2016. It’s also a great time to think about the new adventures we want to embark on in 2017. In this month’s challenge we’ll get you looking back at the past in a positive way. We'll also get you looking to the future in a way that will help you take action.

Looking Back & Looking Forward

We all made it through another year! The upcoming holidays are a great time for looking back at our successes and the lessons we learned in 2016. It’s also a great time to think about the new adventures we want to embark on in 2017. In this month’s challenge we’ll get you looking back at the past in a positive way. We’ll also get you looking to the future in a way that will help you take action.

Looking Back – December Challenge Part 1

Are you ready for this month’s challenge? Of course you are! Part 1 is about looking back over the course of the past year. Our goal with this part is to look back in a reflective way, but not get trapped in the past. We don’t want to dwell on the negative things that happened. Rather we want to focus on what we achieved and what we learned in 2016.

First, we’re going to make a list of the things we achieved this year. They don’t have to be big things, just things that you’re proud of yourself for accomplishing. I’m proud of finishing a good part of my MBA program and of strategic partnerships that I’ve made. I’m also really proud of the workshops I’ve done and the people we’ve helped all year-long. Big or small, it’s important to acknowledge ourselves for the progress we’ve made over the course of the year.

Next, let’s make a list of the things we’ve learned this year. These can be lessons about business, other people in our lives or even about ourselves. I learned how some of the things I do affect my relationships. I also learned that I can’t be afraid to ask for things, whether that is help for a project or bringing in a new client. Again, these don’t need to be life-altering revelations. We just want a list of what we’ve learned and how those lessons can serve us in the future.

Looking Forward – December Challenge Part 2

Now, let’s look at what you’d like to take a shot at in 2017! Part 2 of our challenge is to make a list of the things we’d like to achieve in 2017. They don’t need to be grand ideas or anything that’s going to change the world in a major way. We’re want to get excited about what we’d like to achieve next year. One of my goals is to get more involved in the community here in Las Vegas and meet more entrepreneurs.

Now that you’ve got your list of things to do in 2017, there is one more extra credit challenge for you. A lot of people make New Year’s Resolutions this time of year, but they can be hard to stick to. Challenge yourself to start on one item your list. Come up with at least three action steps you can take starting today to get you closer to that goal. If you start right away, you’ll be that much closer to achieving it when 2017 gets here.

It’s been a great year so far! We should all look forward to spending some downtime with friends and family for the upcoming holidays. This is a great time for looking back at the positive things that happened in 2016 and looking forward to the ways we want to challenge ourselves in 2017. Starting on those challenges today will bring the benefits to us even sooner!

We all face resistance from our ego to some degree. We know we should take actions in our best interest, but we find ways to put them off or avoid them.

Resistance: 3 Ways to Move Through It

We’ve been spending November talking about how we can get to know ourselves better. One of the more difficult aspects of knowing ourselves is understanding why we don’t do the things we should do in order to achieve our goals. We all face resistance like this to some degree. We know we should take actions in our best interest, but we find ways to put them off or avoid them.

The main reason we resist doing the things that we know will improve our lives is that our ego gets in the way. Our ego likes when we do things that are safe and when we stay in our comfort zone. When we experience resistance, that’s our ego trying to protect us from the scary things that are out there in the unknown. There are times when that serves us well, but there are also times when it holds us back.

Recognizing Resistance

Last month we talked about our fears and how we can understand and embrace that fear to take action. Recognizing resistance works much the same way, except that many times we don’t even know that we are resisting. We may make excuses that we don’t have time to do the things that we know will benefit us. Or we may convince ourselves that it’s not that important. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we’re thinking it through so that we can do it the best way possible.  When we find ourselves making excuses and avoiding action, it’s a sign that we might be resisting.

Resistance: Action Steps

Once we realize we are resisting taking an important step, we can take action to move through it. First, some self-reflection can help us find the source of our resistance. Find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes and ask yourself “what is it that I’m resisting?” It’s important not to try to answer that question with our minds. Our minds and our egos are the parts of us that have been preventing us from taking action. We need to listen to what our bodies, our hearts and the universe are trying to tell us. And it’s okay if an answer doesn’t come to us immediately. Doing this exercise regularly can help those answers come to us later on.

Recognizing what we’re resisting is an important first step, but that alone won’t motivate us to take decisive action. Our ego will take steps to keep us from stepping out of our comfort zone. To make our ego feel more at ease with taking action, we can start by taking very small steps. This will help build a sense of familiarity. Our ego will gradually get used to these new steps and will become more comfortable with each one. If you find yourself ready to take a big step and are excited to take action, it sounds like you’re moving in the right direction through resistance. If the feeling of resistance ever comes back, try taking smaller steps again to keep moving forward.

One thing we can be sure of is that as we move through resistance we will make some mistakes.   Our egos will use this to push back and tell us “I told you we shouldn’t try this.” Whenever we try something new, we need to approach it with the concept of “Beginner’s Mind”. Everyone who is truly great at something had to start at the beginning and had failures along the way. We shouldn’t think of ourselves any differently. When we have a setback, we can remind ourselves that we are still learning.

Resistance: Next Steps

Resistance is a natural part of our lives as human beings. Our egos are always trying to protect us from the unknown and keep us from taking risks. Ego isn’t great at telling the difference between unnecessary risks and calculated risks that can bring us great rewards. Deliberate self-reflection can help us cut through the excuses our ego makes and really understand what we are resisting. We can make our ego feel better by taking small steps and accepting that we’ll make mistakes. No matter what you may be resisting, remember you’re not alone and that we all feel resistance sometimes.

Lately we’ve heard a lot about how practicing gratitude can benefit our lives as well as those around us. I know from personal experience that being grateful for the things we have can be difficult. It’s hard to focus on gratitude when we’re overwhelmed with everything that life throws at us. That’s why it’s important to bring gratitude to the front of our mind with a daily practice. Making time for this practice and will help us develop a strong habit until it's second nature to us.

Practicing Gratitude

Thanksgiving is coming up this week and we all have a lot to be thankful for. Personally I’m thankful for my family, my friends, the great people I get to partner with on business ventures, and the nice life I have here in Las Vegas. Lately we’ve heard a lot about how practicing gratitude can benefit our lives as well as those around us. I know from personal experience that being grateful for the things we have can be difficult. It’s hard to focus on gratitude when we’re overwhelmed with everything that life throws at us. That’s why it’s important to bring gratitude to the front of our mind with a daily practice. Making time for this practice and will help us develop a strong habit until it’s second nature to us.

Practicing Gratitude: The Benefits

There are a lot of benefits to practicing gratitude. It makes us feel better about ourselves and it improves our relationships with other people. Amy Morin wrote in Psychology Today about 7 ways that gratitude benefits us:

  • Gratitude opens the door to more relationships

    Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. So whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or send a thank-you note to that colleague who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.

  • Gratitude improves physical health

    Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.

  • Gratitude improves psychological health

  • Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
  • Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression

    Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner, even when others behave less kindly, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.

  • Grateful people sleep better

    Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.

  • Gratitude improves self-esteem

    A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs—a major factor in reduced self-esteem—grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.

  • Gratitude increases mental strength 

    For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for —even during the worst times—fosters resilience.

Practicing Gratitude: One Method

Now that you know the benefits of gratitude it’s time to develop your own daily gratitude practice. What works for someone else, may not work for you. It’s important to set yourself up for success by choosing a routine that works for you. Rather than just provide a list, I’ll tell you about my daily practice. You can generate your own ideas from there.

My daily gratitude practice starts just about as soon as I wake up. After I take the dog out to play for a few minutes. I meditate in my favorite chair to get myself in a calm and open frame of mind. As soon as I’m done, before I even get up from the chair, I open my journal. I write down three things that I’m grateful for. Sometimes I’m grateful for the people in my life. It could be something I’ve learned, an experience, or that it’s a really nice day out. I follow-up what I’m grateful for with writing out some personal goals that would make today a really great day. After that I close my journal and start my day!

At the end of the day, write down three things that happened that were really amazing. Since I’m not perfect, I also write down at least one thing that I could have improved upon. I’ve been doing this for about two years now. It really helps me focus on what’s important instead of dwelling on little things that frustrate or annoy me.

Practicing Gratitude: Tips for Building Your Practice

Now that you have an example to work on, it’s time to go build your own gratitude practice. There’s a reason we call it practicing gratitude. It doesn’t happen automatically. Just like an athlete or musician who practices every day, we need to commit to our practice as well.

There are a few things to keep in mind whenever embarking on a new journey like this one. First, research tells us it takes most of us 45 to 60 days to build a habit. To experience the benefits of practicing gratitude, commit to practice through the new year until it becomes second nature. Also, a practice like this works best if we do it every day. If that seems overwhelming to you or hard to commit to, try starting with 3 days a week. Keep adding a day each week until you’re up to every day. Finally, building a habit also works best if we do our practice at the same time every day. If your schedule is highly variable, blocking out time each day can help build the habit too.

Practicing gratitude is a great way to find more peace and build stronger relationships with the people in our lives. It’s challenging develop a daily practice, but there are techniques we can use to set ourselves up for success. Even though practicing gratitude isn’t always easy, the benefits that come from putting the time in are worth the effort.

We’re getting to know ourselves better this month at Evil Genius Leadership and today we’re going to talk about personality testing, as well as personality types. There are a lot of different personality tests and a lot of opinions about personality testing in leadership development. Today we’ll look at how to use personality types to know ourselves better, as well as improve our relationships with other people.

Personality Types

We’re getting to know ourselves better this month at Evil Genius Leadership and today we’re going to talk about personality testing, as well as personality types. There are a lot of different personality tests and a lot of opinions about personality testing in leadership development. Today we’ll look at how to use personality types to know ourselves better, as well as improve our relationships with other people.

Personality Types and Personality Tests

Learning our personality type is a great way to get to know ourselves better while developing our leadership style. There are a lot of personality tests that can help us find out more. You can go online and find Meyers-Briggs tests, Big 5 tests, Color type tests, almost anything you can think of. Most of these tests use personality archetypes from Jungian psychology. If you’re looking for a free online test, you can go to psychcentral.com. Also, the personality trait definitions below are from their site.

Personality Types and Traits

When you take a personality test, you will find that most of these tests will show you how you score on a continuum of traits. The areas vary from test to test, but they’re almost always a combination of five traits: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism and Openness to Experience. Some tests may organize traits differently; for example, Meyers-Briggs tests align the traits on 4 continuums, but tell you the same information.

The 5 Personality Traits

  • Extraversion reflects a person’s preference for certain kinds of social situations, and how they like to behave in such situations. People high in extraversion are energetic and seek out the company of others. People low in extraversion — what some might call introverts — tend to be more quiet and reserved.
  • Agreeableness describes how we tend to interact with others, especially in terms of our altruism and friendliness. People who score higher in agreeableness tend to be more trusting, friendly and cooperative than others. People who score lower tend to be more aggressive and less cooperative.
  • Conscientiousness is how organized and persistent a person is in pursuing their goals. People who score high on this trait tend to be more methodical, well-organized and dutiful than others. People who score lower tend to be less careful, less focused and more likely to be distracted from tasks.
  • Neuroticism shows the tendency for a person to experience negative thoughts and feelings. People who score high on this trait tend to be more prone to insecurity and emotional distress. People who score lower tend to be more relaxed, less emotional and less prone to distress.
  • Openness to Experience indicates a person’s open-mindedness, and interest in culture and art. People who score high on this trait tend to be imaginative, creative, and to seek out cultural and educational experiences. People who score lower on this trait tend to be more down-to-earth, less interested in art and more practical in nature.

Interpreting Personality Test Results

Personality tests give you a score which will tell you how extroverted you are; how agreeable, etc. Looking at these scores together will give you an idea of how your personality traits work together to make you who you are. If your results don’t seem like they describe you accurately, ask someone who knows you really well to take a look. Sometimes it’s hard for us to accept our scores when we see them in black and white, but when someone we trust reminds us how we’ve approached life in the past, we can see a little more clearly.

In leadership, there’s no personality type or combination of traits that makes someone a better leader. Some research shows a very small correlation between extraversion and leadership ability, many of the greatest leaders in history would have qualified as introverts. So if you don’t score high on extraversion, you can still be a great leader.

Personality Types: Considerations for Ourselves and Others

The first thing to remember about personality types and personality tests is that they are not a psychological evaluation. They’re just a guide to give you some more understanding of your own personality. Next, it’s important that we use these tests to give us insight into our own personality and how we can grow to become great leaders. We shouldn’t put people in a box that limits their potential based on their personality type. It’s also important that we don’t use our personality type as an excuse to keep us in our comfort zone or let others on our team hide behind their personality type. I often hear  the excuse, “I’m not extroverted, I shouldn’t have to speak in public”. We shouldn’t let anyone, including ourselves, use this information as a crutch to avoid developing our skills.

I hope this gave you a little bit more insight into the traits that make up our personalities. We should never use this knowledge as an excuse for bad behavior or inaction. This helps us understand our resistance to doing what it takes to succeed. Just like we explored who we are, who we want to be and what we want out of life, knowing our personality type is another tool in our leadership toolbox that helps us know ourselves and develop our own unique leadership style.

Knowing ourselves isn’t just something we do once in our lives when we’re young and then leave it at that. As we get older we learn and grow. Our priorities change and shift over time. That doesn’t mean that we are abandoning our values or what we believe in. It’s just a natural part of life that comes with experience. Because of this, we need to recognize that there is no finish line that we cross at some point where we “know ourselves.” Every so often we should engage in some self-reflection to stay connected with ourselves as a whole and complete person.

Knowing Ourselves: November Leadership Challenge

It’s November which means that my birthday is coming up and I’m starting to think about who I am, where I’ve been and where I want to go to. Over my career in the Air Force I was often reminded that one of the most important things we need to know about leadership is knowing ourselves. This is often easier said than done. Sometimes we get caught up in the idea of who others want us to be or who we feel we should be instead of getting to know who we really are as individuals.

Knowing ourselves isn’t just something we do once in our lives when we’re young and then leave it at that. As we get older we learn and grow. Our priorities change and shift over time. That doesn’t mean that we are abandoning our values or what we believe in. It’s just a natural part of life that comes with experience. Because of this, we need to recognize that there is no finish line that we cross at some point where we “know ourselves.” Every so often we should engage in some self-reflection to stay connected with ourselves as a whole and complete person.

Knowing Ourselves – November Challenge

That’s what November’s Leadership Challenge is all about. We’re going to ask you to reconnect with yourself and dig into a few questions to really get to know you. To get started, find a quiet place where you can be alone without any distractions or influence from anyone else. This should also be a place where you feel comfortable being yourself. if you feel like the expectations of others at work or at home might impact the outcome of this exercise, maybe find a place outside where you can be comfortable with your thoughts. For this exercise we’re going to ask you to answer three big questions about yourself.

Knowing Ourselves – Who Am I?

The first question I’d like you to think about is “Who Am I?” People have been asking themselves this question since the beginning of time. It’s not an easy one to answer, but here are some smaller questions to get you started. What do I like about myself? What am I really great at? What are the areas I would like to improve for myself, not for others? When I think of my highest self, what am I like? Write the answers to these questions down in your leader’s journal.

Knowing Ourselves – What Do I Believe?

Human beings have asked for millennia “What do I believe in?” This is a question that only you can answer for yourself. Despite the expectations of others, your beliefs are your own. While others can influence what we think we believe, we often know when an idea doesn’t align with our own core beliefs. Ignoring this misalignment can often cause conflict within ourselves and with others.

This is another huge concept. Ask yourself these questions to get started. How do I view the world and my relationship with it? Do I see it as mostly a good place, a bad place, or a neutral place? How do I fit in with my family, my friends and my community? How do I approach my interactions with those people and the universe? What values or beliefs come to mind as I think about how I fulfill my role? How do I want to represent myself to others and the universe? Make sure you capture these beliefs in your journal as well.

Knowing Ourselves – What Do I Want?

Our last question is a little more tangible and easier to answer. “What do I want?” Although your answer may be different after going through the first two questions than if we had asked you this one first. So what is it that you want? Are you looking for a fulfilling career? Do you want a caring and supportive family? Maybe you want to be active in your community or a leader in your industry? Do you want to start your own business and take an entrepreneurial journey? Is there a cause or group of people you’d really like to help? Are there parts of the world that you want to see in your lifetime?

Don’t think of these in terms of setting goals and building action steps to get there, just think of them as things that you would like to do just because you want to. Write all of this down in your journal and think about how all three of these questions help you get an idea of who you are as a human being.

Knowing Ourselves – Going Forward

There are no wrong answers to any of these questions as long as we’re honest with ourselves when we’re answering them. This is pretty deep stuff and sometimes it’s hard for us to face up to it when we first think about it. If you find that you’re not really able to answer these questions right away, don’t worry about it. Put it aside and come back to it later. As I mentioned, these are ideas that we all have to come back to now and then so it’s okay if you didn’t answer all of life’s questions in this one exercise. What’s important to take home from this is that we should make some time to connect with ourselves and understand who we truly are as individuals without the pressure and noise of the expectations of others.

The last fear that we're going to cover is the fear of saying no. I hate to tell people no, but sometimes we have to in order to get the best outcome.

Saying No: Facing Fear

All through October we’ve been talking about the things that frighten us and how to face them. The last common fear that we’re going to cover is the fear of saying no. We all have it. This is one that I have a particularly hard time with. I hate to tell people no, but sometimes we have to in order to get the best outcome.

Why is it so hard for us to say no to people? Often we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or we’re afraid they won’t like us anymore. Saying no to our boss comes with some concern about how it will affect our career. The likelihood that someone will stop being our friend just because we said no to them is actually pretty small. Our real friends will understand if we can’t say yes to what they’re asking for. When we explain our reasons, they’re usually pretty cool with it.

As human beings we have empathy for those around us and we don’t want to hurt others feelings. We should consider though, will we be hurting that person more if we DON’T say no in this case? And when it comes to saying no to our boss, we could actually be hurting our company, department or our boss even more by holding back.

Saying No Scenario #1 – Peers

Have you ever had one of your peers ask, “Do you think this is a good idea?” Sometimes it’s not a good idea. The extreme cases are actually a little easier. “I’m going to stand in a bucket of water and hold on to these electric cables, do you think that’s a good idea?” That’s pretty easy to say no to. When the request is a little more nuanced it can be difficult to say no to our peers. We want them to like us. We want them to think we’re a team player and we want them to like us! How do we say no when our teammate has an idea that is not in the best interest of the team?

One way is to look back at our mission. Does this idea fit into that mission? Is it in the best interest of the team, the customer or the people we’re trying to serve? If the answer is no, that can be the basis for how to say no. You don’t have to limit yourself to just saying no. Thoughtful feedback to your coworker can get their idea more aligned with team goals.

Saying No Scenario #2 – As a Leader

Saying no if you’re the boss can be harder than it looks. Especially if you used to be on the team and then were promoted to being the boss. Looking  someone you used to work with in the eye and telling them what to do can be challenging.  Sometimes the people on your team will take actions or have ideas that you need to say no to. Just like with our peers, keeping the mission and best interest of the team in mind will help. Avoid being arbitrary about whose ideas you listen to and whose you reject. We want to evaluate suggestions and solutions based on merit, not on who brings them forward.

Sometimes you have access to information about the big picture that you should take into account when making your decisions. You may or may not choose to share this information depending on the situation. Don’t forget that one of our duties as a leader is to develop our team, so when you have to say no, keep giving that feedback on how that individual can make their idea or suggestion better so you can say yes in the future.

Saying No Scenario #3 – To our Boss

If saying no to our peers and our team is hard, saying no to our boss can be downright impossible. We owe it to our boss to ensure they have complete information or understanding of the impacts of a decision. We can ask, is this in alignment with our mission and in the best interest of the team? A lot of times the answer is maybe. Sometimes we have to pick our battles. If the decision won’t cause catastrophic failure or isn’t a clear violation of laws or regulations, maybe we let it go. If there will be a serious breakdown in accomplishing the mission or a clear conflict of our organizational core values, it’s time to speak up.

A technique that we’ve talked about before is the one challenge rule. The boss makes a decision, you speak up once to make sure that the boss has all the information. If the boss decides to go forward anyway, you said your peace and aired your objection. This may not result in the decision you wanted, but at least you tried to help your boss and your team accomplish their mission.

Saying No with Dignity and Respect

These are just a few examples of times you might need to say no to someone, but the principles are the same. When we do say no to someone, whether it is our peers, our team or our boss, we always want to do it with respect and dignity. Coming from a place of fear or anger can distort our message and break down relationships instead of making them stronger. We should always strive to build better connections with the people, even if it means telling them no.

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