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Category: Skills

Let’s Make A Deal

On July 26, 2019, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner signed a three-year, $54 million contract extension with the Seahawks through the 2022 season with $40.2 million guaranteed. The deal elevated Wagner to being tanned the highest-paid middle linebacker in the NFL.

What makes the deal even more remarkable is Wagner negotiated directly with the team without an agent.

Now this isn’t the part where I tell you that Wagner waltzes into the GM’s office and charms him into the biggest contract in the history of his position.

In actuality Wagner took time to study the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and several linebacker contracts to gain knowledge about his worth. Once he had the information he needed, he possessed the leverage to get his ‘bag’.

The distance between where we are right now and what we ultimately want in life lies in the trenches of effective, deliberate, and sometimes unconventional work. It’s the unconventional that often yields uncanny results.

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More vs Efficient

Before many of us were mandated to work from home due to the global pandemic, entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes already had driving operational efficiencies on their radar.

Remote work and lockdown closures has unlocked another layer to what efficiency looks like in our holistic daily lives.

Case in point, my home office has evolved into just more than a space I use to conduct business. It doubles as my home gym, coffee reading area, man-cave for movies and gaming, and a fully functional studio space.

Oh, and my wife operates her business in the same space too.

The Covid-19 pandemic has emphasized that more is the enemy of efficient. And the more efficient we can be in our whole lives, the more effective our impact will be in whatever we set out to do.

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Reframing

Planning, drafting, forecasting, are all guess work in its simplest form. We do our best to gather as much information ahead of time to make the most accurate estimation of how things will work out. The only sure occurrence will be the arrival of ‘uncontrollables’. The unexpected events that can derail our plans.

And when our efforts get derailed we either give up or try again by replanning, redrafting, and reforcasting. The latter is a more optimistic view of the situation, even when things looks dire. Ultimately we decide to view the shortcoming from a different perspective.

When we do this we are ‘reframing’ the situation. Reframing or cognitive reframing is the process of looking at a current situation from a different perspective and changing the way we define it. Therapist use this technique to help clients with distorted thinking patterns.

When we don’t get what we want or the unexpected happens, there’s often a silver lining available for us to unpack.

•We didn’t get that coveted job we applied for, but the daily round trip commute was two hours on a good day.

•Our business failed, but the lessons learned from the ‘after action review’ will help us avoid the same mistakes on our next business venture.

Practicing the habit of cognitive reframing is beneficial from a productivity standpoint, but more importantly from a personal mental health perspective. The way we think about a situation emotionally takes precedence over the actual details of the moment.

Tearing down what we already know and replacing it with a refreshed, positive point of view daily is a practice that will help us personally as well as professionally.

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it. Reframe your mind, restore your perspective. – Craig Groeshel

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The Unconscious Shortcuts We Make

In the evenings during the week I take time and watch the show Brain Games on Disney+ with my kids. It’s a great informative show about the way our brains work and encourages the viewer to be interactive with the host by playing several fun brain building games along the way.

After watching a dozen episodes, several of them refer to the concept of Heuristics and Cognitive Biases.

Heuristics are mental shortcuts that allow us to problem solve and make choices fast and efficiently. It helps us minimizes time we use to make decisions and allows us to operate without constantly stopping to think about our next move. Heuristics are beneficial in many ways, but they can also result in cognitive biases.

A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that happens when we process and interpret information in the world around us and affects the decisions and judgments that we make. Cognitive biases are often caused by our brain’s attempt to simplify processing information. Biases often work as ‘rules of thumb’ that help us make sense of the world and reach decisions with relative speed.

In other words, our view of the world and how we respond to it could be coming from a place of limited understanding and we don’t realize it. Whether it’s political, spiritual, social, economical, our brain daily pushes us to make short cuts in information processing and will continue to do so unless we push back.

So the question is, how do we push back?

For starters have a solid foundational understanding of the issue before making a decision and be aware of potential biases that could be tainting your thinking process.

For example from a political standpoint why do you support the party you choose to support? Is it just because that particular party on the surface lines up with the values of the faith you practice? Or do you have a thorough understanding of the foundational policies and principles that party holds and its affect on the community where you live?

In a fast-paced world where time is of the essence in every area of our lives, slowing down and taking time to really understand before we move is a skill we all need to be conscious of developing.

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Accepting Roles We Don’t Want

I’ve had to let go a hand full of employees in the last 3 years. Mostly due to poor performance.

The most difficult was letting go an individual who arguably was one of the highest skilled professionals on my team.

Though highly skilled, before I took over management of the team, he accepted the position for which he was overqualified for with the previous manager. He constantly struggled to stay on task for the daily duties and lacked discipline to focus on the details.

Ultimately when we sat to go over his exit interview, his response to the poor performance was, “I joined the company in hopes of eventually getting a role in my specific professional background. The role I’m doing now is not what I’m interested in”.

My response to him was that approach wasn’t acceptable based on the needs of the role, his coworkers and our customers. He seemed disinterested in that response and for that reason I had to let him go.

The growth potential from taking on diverse roles and functions in route to our ultimate goal can be limitless. Sometimes it’s a painful road. It takes shutting down our ego sometimes to be open to these possibilities.

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Shift Your Energy from Mistakes to Skill Sharpening

50 presentations in 30 days.

That’s the test I’m currently facing in my new role. Repeating the same information to 50 different companies.

There’s bound to be mistakes made with that many meetings. Brain freezes, missed information and voice cracking like a teenager in puberty.

The good news? I can mess up on 6 of them and still have 44 chances to create excellence.

Don’t give mistakes the time of day they haven’t earned the right to get. Shift that same energy to sharpening your skills and kill the next one.

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Easily Upgrade Your Skills

I’m not the best negotiator, possibly because it’s never been a large part of the career roles I’ve occupied.

So when I accepted a new role at a company that involved negotiating at a larger capacity, I immediately looked for training and tools to improve that skill set.

I gained some insight on negotiating from a free online Ivy League course, but most of the knowledge I collected came from the popular book: Getting to Yes. Through Amazon i purchased the book for only $11 with shipping. $11 to upgrade a skill that led to me being more effective and valuable in my role.

We shouldn’t avoid situations or opportunities because we lack the appropriate skills. It’s those skills we need to spend the most time upgrading and practicing so we’re more effective in our businesses, workplaces and communities.

Most soft skills can be learned or improved with minimal financial commitment. We just need to be up to the task of seeing it though to the end.

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Record it, Always

A few years ago I read probably one of the most epic bedtime stories ever told to my four kids (their words, not mine). But it didn’t come from a book.

The story took several days to finish from beginning to end and it all came creatively from the top of my head at that very moment. The entire storyline, character development, scene depiction, plot twists and story action never existed previously on a written sheet of paper or electrical document.

To say the least my kids were entertained each night and often refer to the story of ‘Prince Edward’ as the best story I’ve ever read.

Too bad I no longer have any idea in what the story was about. I made the mistake of not recording or writing down any details of the story. Nothing. Not even jot notes. At the time I was just trying to get my kids to sleep not realizing a literary master piece was being created. Any chance of passing the story to my grandkids was now zero to none.

Ideas, thoughts, plans, names of new network contacts and where you met them, and yes stories you tell you kids – write/type/record it all down. Trust the capacity of your mobile phone note app over the capacity of your mind in remembering hundreds of hours of creative thought in detail.

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Welcome Complex Ideas

The other day my teenage son was sitting in our living room with his portable gaming device, fully engaged in the application he was playing.

I glanced over to quickly see what was so fascinating. The game was a simulation of a surgical procedure. A voice would give critical directions on the next step and he, acting as a surgeon, had to execute it virtually with his gaming stylus on the screen.

I was intrigued and continued watching him for a few more minutes. The game seemed complex and the fact that he used his leisure time to partake in what looked to be a stressful endeavour was pleasantly surprising.

Sometimes we avoid complex ideas or tasks because they come cloaked in stress. Stress because we can’t figure it out or we don’t hold any pre-existing knowledge of what we’re about to do.

That stress is actually our fear of failure. But we should always run towards complex ideas because it’s the only way we achieve personal growth. When we stick to only concepts that are ‘black and white’ and don’t entertain layered or more complex ideas, not only will our personal growth suffer, but our impact on a much larger scale will be minimal.

That’s assuming you want to have a greater impact in the personal and professional circles you frequent in. If that’s not the case then you will continually avoid the difficult, uncomfortable and complex discussions/actions that we sometimes need to take.

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Take Time to Be Meticulous

When great ideas come we tend to put our focus on the end results. The idea of what we want to see. The picture perfect manifestation of what it should look like.

As is the case since the beginning the 21st century, how fast we can complete something seems to be just as important as completing the project itself.

Our preoccupation with being the ‘first‘ almost always leads us to skipping important details along the way. Or wanting a title because it assumes a specific social status (entrepreneur or CEO) but not being meticulous enough to understand all the prerequisites required.

But that’s just it. As much as we aim to avoid the rat race we still subconsciously compete with one another and over look some of the most important life details that need to be considered.

As I’m writing this I’m 2 months into a new role with a new company. In an effort to prove myself to my new colleagues, jumping into projects and issues before understanding all the specific nuances and inner workings of the company is something I’ve fallen prey to.

Luckily I’ve had support from multiple executive level associates, including my manager, tell me to take time to learn and don’t feel pressured to jump right in, right away.

It’s not just in business or your professional career. In the many facets of life, taking the meticulous approach in all things will provide you with the insight to make better decisions and ones that ultimately will last longer.

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