Be Where Your Feet Are

Be Where Your Feet Are

TOO OFTEN we are busy looking for the next thing. The problem is our experiences tend to be shallow. We miss out on the richness of being in the moment. To counteract this, we try to find balance. But balance doesn’t create greatness.

The solution is not balance, says sports executive Scott O’Neil in Be Where Your Feet Are. The answer is to make “the most of each moment and ridding ourselves of the toxic habit of constantly looking forward to the next thing.” Finding balance is “like aspiring to be in the middle.” On the other hand, “being resent, focused, committed, and hardworking at home and at work is the path to finding success and fulfillment.”

To that end, O’Neil offers, through the use of stories both personal and from scores of others, seven principles to keep you present, grounded and thriving. The stories and the grounding principle he draws from them really make each of these seven principles come to life. I offer one of the insights from each.

#1 Be Where Your Feet Are

With so many distractions, it is harder today than ever to be where your feet are. It has also never been more important.
I don’t believe the good life is about finding balance between work and home. It’s about living the moments we have where and when we have them.

To be more present, O’Neil offers a four-part process:

Find Perspective “Perspective is the foundation on which we build a life where we can be where our feet are.”
Seek Authentic Feedback “How you live is truly a choice. What you’re going to do and who you are going to do it with, those are choices only you can make.”
Cultivate Reflective Strength “Our ability to have more meaning is right here in front of us, but so are the distractions, and too often the distractions rule the day.”
Live Your Leadership Constitution “Committing in writing to life and a way of living matters. Whether we have family rules or values, whether we have a morning mantra or a leadership constitution, we need guideposts in our lives. We need reinforcement in terms of what we stand for, what matters, and what we prioritize, and through those things we can be where our feet are when it counts.”

#2 Change The Race

In those times when we feel stuck, unable to get out of the funk we are in, we need to change the race:

Recognize That You Have a Choice to Change Your Situation
Run Toward the Storm Instead of Away from It “I’ve already spent too much time in the gray. I choose to throw all of my emotion and soul into everything I do because it should all matter. It should matter because the alternative is that you have no life or hope or joy or future.”
Find Your Center with The Help of People You Care About and Who Care About You

The most critical things to keep in mind include knowing when you need to change the race you are running and not shutting down—remember that isolation is your kryptonite when things are going badly. Engage people in your life and do not let ego or pride get it the way of good decision-making or getting help.

#3 WMI – What’s Most Important

The world is filled with universe moments, which is when things happen for a reason and people, places, and events seemingly drop into your life with purpose.
Today the world moves faster and there seems to be more chaos than calm, it’s likely worth exploring your own centering force—whether that’s faith, church, prayer, meditation, running, yoga, or anything else that helps enhance your level of peace, increase your level of calm and provide a more centered life.

#4 Fail Forward

Failure is a better teacher than success. Failure is a more effective teacher than success. It’s rarely enjoyable, but it is critically important to be a student of life.
Stop competing, stop pressing so hard, and start opening yourself up to people and learning. Stop trying to prove what you know and begin to express that you’re intellectually curious. Be interested versus interesting.

#5 Be The Purple Water Buffalo

Be an extraordinary teammate. Hold the team above self.
The purple water buffalo attitude can also be summarized in this expression: if there is a piece of paper on the ground, bend over and pick it up.
We have to solve problems when we see them. Don’t wait. If something goes south, fix it.

#6 Assume Positive Intent

What if you assumed positive intent from those with whom you connect, no matter how many alternative and less generous assumptions were possible?
Why? Because we often have preconceived notions about what other people are thinking and what their intentions are, and typically these preconceived notions are negative. More importantly, they are at best clouded and at worst wrong, and they always impact your ability to be effective.

#7 Trust The Process

In a world dominated by instant gratification and obsessed by the spotlight of now, Trust the Process is the commitment that you will keep the long-term view at the forefront of your planning and decision-making. Trust the Process is about understanding the mistake and taking the time to revisit what went wrong and why, and then leverage that information to get smarter and make better decisions in the future.

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After a period of time of being in the workforce, you begin to hear about this idea of work-life balance. On paper, it’s a smart idea – you’re keeping your work separate from your own personal time. And while that was something I strived for, I realized how wrong this pursuit was after some time. That humble pursuit of striking a balance between work and life ended with me being in a bad spot. Beyond personal experiences, I find the pursuit of this idea still outdated and there are significantly better things to pursue. Here is what I suggest.

Work-Life Balance Causes You To Sacrifice A Lot

First off, why is striving towards a work-life balance such a bad idea? Well it’s a bad idea mostly due to how people think a balanced work and life ought to be. When you think of striking a balance between the two, you’d think automatically that both sides have to be good. You want a positive life just as much as you want work to be positive as well. On top of that, you want your personal and work lives to be separate.

Striving for that way of thinking is impossible from my experiences. I’ve seen plenty of results from people at various levels of happiness in their work life taking our Full Life Assessment at Lifehack, and have received some predictable results after taking our courses at the Lifehack Academy.

If people are really happy with their work, other parts of their life are crumbling such as health, and relationships. If people are happy with life, what tends to be the problem is wealth and career satisfaction are lower. These sacrifices are too much and aren’t practical for people to live in them long-term.

The Alternative: Work Life Harmony 

This cycle of giving up on something in order to fulfil something doesn’t make any sense. From my own personal experiences, it’s a path that isn’t good for you long-term. Once I realized that, I began working on alternatives and options for what people can do.

Because not all jobs and life are satisfying and things we want to do constantly, I realized that our balance is more revolving around harmonizing both aspects. In my book The Full Life Framework (The Essential Guide), I talk about the importance of taking the good and the bad in various parts and balancing those.

Below are some recommendations I listed in my book for obtaining work life harmony:

1. Rethink Time Management

First is to change your thinking about time management. We all have limited time here and so people are constantly telling us to make the most of it. But how do you really make the most of it? Should you try to eat up as much time of your day as you can doing many great things? Or should you try to do fewer things and really make them great?

It’s a quantity vs quality question when you first think about it. But what if I told you instead of wrestling with that you focus on prioritizing. Spend all your time on the actions that will lead to creating more valuable moments later on in life.

This idea isn’t anything new. It’s been around. But not many people have thought that much about this. I bet this is your first time even thinking about this. So I’d encourage you to look at that. Find the actions that will bring you more results.

“Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.” – Betsy Jacobson

2. Explore Your Passions

Another thing people tell us is to follow our passions. It’s not the greatest advice as we all have multiple passions and interests. And we can continue to foster new passions and interests over time as well. Instead of following passions blindly, I’d encourage you to consider them all. But first, look at what it is you’re currently doing in life. Is what you’re doing right now in life something you are truly passionate about? Is it possible for you to find a deeper meaning to what you are doing in your life? Ask yourself those questions before thinking about what other areas you can explore. Consider everything from what brings you joy and excitement and happiness. Are there particular industries that you’d love to be good at?

3. Don’t Be Scared Of Limitations

Creating work-life harmony is also about knowing yourself. This includes past obstacles as well as the limitations that you have placed on yourself. If you have an understanding of these things, you can become more resilient to them in the future. If you’ve never experienced struggles or problems, then you haven’t been made to adapt or mature in any way. In theory, you’d have faced obstacles by this point since they are such necessary parts of our lives. From there it’s a matter of overcoming these limitations. It’s about rewiring our thinking to see limitations as opportunities to grow and overcoming them can help us reach our goals. The more you reinforce that idea, the more resilient attitude you’ll develop when you’re faced with the inevitable setbacks and problems.

4. Delegate When Necessary

The last aspect to having work-life harmony is delegating tasks when it’s necessary. If you want to increase productivity and minimize time or effort spent on something, delegation is an easy method.

Whether it’s at work or at home, if you’re losing a lot of time on something that could be delegated, you’re losing precious time. Again, the goal is to have a harmonious work and living situation and find meaning in everything that we’re doing.

Even if an overall goal could be meaningful doesn’t mean that the milestones you’re setting automatically are. We all have strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. If one part of something bothers you or takes up a lot of time, find someone who loves doing that part.

True balance in work and life shouldn’t be about sacrificing one thing over another. It should be about working through the bad and enjoying the good. Obtaining some level of harmony with your life and work is more rewarding and fulfilling in the end. And by going through those steps, you’ll find it easier to achieve that.

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Restoring the Soul of Business

DATA without soul is harmful. Science, math, and data do not excuse us from thinking. Instead, they make it imperative that we learn to think more critically and combine it with our humanness to come to more measured conclusions. The story we create with the data makes all the difference.

Rishad Tobaccowala is the chief growth officer at Publicis Group, a global advertising and communications firm. Flush with data, we risk losing something more valuable: what’s human.

Rishad writes in Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data, that we can have too much math and too little meaning. “Successful individuals and firms can never forget the importance of people, their emotions, the culture of the organization, and what cannot be measured. Successful people and companies combine the story and the spreadsheet, and by doing so, restore the soul of business.” It’s a balance.

The 6-I Approach

Extracting meaning and accurate insights from data is made better by implementing what Rishad calls the 6-I Approach.

Interpret the Data

Not all data is alike. “Develop hypotheses, search for patterns, look for outliers, create alternative scenarios to explain the information you’re receiving. Through interpretation you can enrich the data with meaning; you can identify the story it’s telling.”

Involve Diverse People

“Expand the group that examines the data. When you involve people with various skills and perspectives, you’re likely to receive a richer interpretation.”

Interconnect to Larger Trends and Events

How does the data relate to what you’re doing or to an emerging trend or a competitor’s product launch? “Making these types of connections helps you take the data one step further, determining if it’s going to have a short-term or long-term impact, if it’s suggesting the end of a trend or the beginning of a new one.” Give it context.

Imagine and Inspire Solutions

What possibilities does the data ignite? “Rather than allowing the data to limit options and actions, explore the solutions it might inspire. If the numbers show that your product category isn’t doing as well as it once did in Market Z, is there an emerging opportunity because the market still has potential and competition will be reduced because of this data?”

Iterate

“Data can spawn new and better data. Is there a test you might run based on the information you’ve gathered that can produce more insightful facts and figures?” Ask new questions of the data.

Investigate People’s Experiences

“In a given organization, you have hundreds or thousands of people with data-relevant insights because in the past—whether while part of your organization or with a previous employer—they experienced something applicable to the current information.” Sometimes new data is just an old story on a new context.

Seven Keys to Staying Human

Each of these sections is full of practices to help integrate them into our organizations—to make them more human.

Talk About the Inconvenient (Tough) Truths

Three of the most valuable assets in communicating are the following four-, five-, and six-letter words: data, trust, and intent. “Do you have good data that supports your point of view? Can you be or are you trusted? What is your intent? – i.e., why are you saying what you’re saying? Organizations must encourage trusted, well-intentioned, well-informed people to display this type of candor, no matter what their titles are?

Address the Reality That Change Sucks

People see change differently and are affected by change differently. “People won’t support and further change unless they perceive how they and their skills fit in. Employees need to see how the change strategy helps them grow, not just the organization.” When we are data-driven we see things in absolutes. Humans are more nuanced than that.

Unleash Creativity by Inserting Poetry into the PowerPoint

The spreadsheet “is not a clear window to view either the present or the future. Inherently, it’s backward-looking device that jails thinking within its cells. Within many organizations, highly innovative, potentially game-changing ideas are born regularly. Unfortunately, the left-brain environment of these organizations often starves these ideas of oxygen and they don’t survive.”

Introduce art into your organization. “Creativity is how we manage our own change.”

Recognize That Talent Does Not Work for Companies but Rather Companies Work for Talent

Data tends to favor the organization rather than the employee. “Working for talent translates into three developmental actions: helping people create their niche, voice, and story.”

Niche: In a connected world, a premium on expertise exists. Experts tend to be more productive, and hey tend to develop better solutions.

Voice: Niche focuses on the product while voice focuses on the process. If niche is a fact, voce is a feeling, and both are critical to building a personal brand.

Story: While niche is what someone is good at and voice is what makes someone special, story provides someone’s reason to behave.

Diversify and Deepen Time Usage

It is a mistake to allocate and measure time only in economic terms or numeric ways. The quality of how people spend their time is as important as the quantity of what they produce during that time. To get the most out of time, organizations need to sanction doing less and open spaces to do nothing.

Schedule More Meetings

Too often meetings are about the spreadsheet side of the business. “The received wisdom of minimizing meetings and only going to ones that create value for you is wrong. More meetings create more opportunities for productive relationships.” Rishad five types of meeting we should be having that are meaningful and relationship-focused.

Upgrade Your Mental Operating System

Organizations need to put a priority on mental self-improvement. “Provide them with the means and the encouragement to learn continuously—or rather, to learn and unlearn.”

Rishad make this important point about balance. When there is balance between the spreadsheet and the story, people are more likely to form their own opinions and be creative.

First, there is a need to balance ends and means. If the goal is to achieve a numerical goal at all costs, balance is missing; people will ignore rules and even laws to achieve goals. A second form of balance is recognizing that people have different skills and the company should not force consistency and conformity.

Restoring the Soul of Business is a much-needed book. In a world awash in readily available data, we must never forget the story. The story is what makes the data so valuable. That will be the challenge of the future. Data is the commodity. The story differentiates. Rishad writes:

My point isn’t to beat up on algorithms—they obviously are crucial in a digital age—but to suggest that if we leave organizational employees to their own devices (pun intended), they will be reactive and biased in their thinking. They won’t consider options beyond their own narrow beliefs; they will see the trends they’re exposed to rather than explore ones on the periphery; and they will fail to consider that their ideas might be wrong or outdated since their screens are confirming their biases.

If we put too much trust in algorithms, we are faced with three big risks: “The first is when you forget that a human programmed an algorithm and so it has a built-in bias. Leaving it to itself means you are giving up agency. Second, no algorithm, which is about zeros and ones, can truly capture humans who are variable. Third, if you can add no value to an algorithm, you have no job.”

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