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Eight Ways to Out-do Yourself This Year

Ways to Out-Do YourselfRules, policies, contracts, laws, requirements. Taxes, red-light cameras, swimming pool fence laws, ADA mandates. They affect almost everything we say, do, construct, manage or design. Today, America staggers under the unimaginable burden of operating in the most regulated environment in its history.

What is it like to live by principles that inspire rather than oppress? The following rules for life are offered for your consideration… crafted over the years from interactions with and wisdom from family, friends, and business cohorts.

1 – Negotiations: win-win or walk away. Listening carefully to the needs of every other party ensures that some needs for each party are met. I insist on it as one of the involved parties, even though it means more work and better listening strategies. Better listening drives greater comprehension and stronger relationships. Finding a way to meet everyone’s needs to some extent creates goodwill, defines integrity among the parties and promotes long term possibilities. You only need to ask as Rotary asks: Is it fair to all concerned?

2 – Take time to rejuvenate. In our time-starved society, we have more daily activities than ten years ago yet take LESS time off. Thus, we are less focused in our job performance and productivity. Time off rejuvenates the mind just as sleep allows the body to rebuild and refresh. Shut off the communications and enjoy time alone or with friends and family.Rules for Life | Better Your Life

3 – Learn something new every week. Consider the benefits of attending conferences, continuing education workshops and new-technology webinars. Enjoy time with friends, at workout, cooking a new recipe, or doing something never tried. What do you know about riding motorcycles, taekwondo, firearms, social media, bio-mechanics, hunting, rebuilding car bodies and engines, better report writing, high board diving, fishing, DX radio, building racing bicycles, or leading a team to effect change? All of this I learned from classes, conferences or taking the risk of plunging myself into the unknown when offered the opportunity.

4 – Secure the high road: assume the positive. How many times have you thought “I can’t believe he said that to her” and wondered why someone would speak so thoughtlessly before putting their brain in gear? More often than not, the comment is unintentionally ambiguous. It’s our defense/protective mechanism that lends the negative filter. Read the flip side of possibly-ambiguous remarks to see a whole new personality of the speaker and the focus of the comment. Great tip: when someone issues a deliberately-veiled negative (we all know this happens), I like to respond to the positive interpretation, just like I’m clueless to the offensive comment. It usually confuses, then converts, the speaker while revealing a new dimension of our potential interaction. And this response harms no one.

5 – Define and deliver consequences. Whether it’s favorable (offering a bonus for early completion) or unfavorable (terminating the relationship, even midstream, for deliberately unethical behavior), the promised consequence must occur regardless of the situation. If the consequence was important enough to be defined, it deserved to be enforced. Knowing the defined cost of an action reduces the likelihood that one can “get away with it.” So does knowing your principles.How to Live Happy

6 – Handle every piece of correspondence once. Reply, forward to the responsible party or to gather correct answers for use in a reply, or round file the message – it doesn’t matter. Saving only to review again is wasteful of your time and intellectual resources.

7 – Deal with entrepreneurial dread. Immediately. One of the greatest time-sucks for any manager/owner or CEO is this chasm of potential failure. When caught in the grips of this productivity killer, it is best to deal with the underlying problem which is almost always known, even if we don’t want to face it. No dollars to pay the bills? Get on the phone and call until you have a sale, proposal opportunity, or several sales meetings scheduled. Feeling uninspired to review employees or write a report? Tune into some rocking music on Pandora or take a brisk walk to your favorite third place or coffee house. Another dreaded teleconference? Listen extra closely (between the lines) to learn something new and different, or to find inspiration for same. Then find a second and a third inspirational idea while your adrenaline is pumping. Once you begin, it’s difficult to shut down the activities that will help reinvigorate your program, work and brain. To pull out of the nosedive of entrepreneurial dread, try the following: rework project and financial reporting styles, implement different sales strategies, jettison pseudo-obligatory relationships, peruse your LinkedIn connections for reconnecting with prospects and referrals, revise marketing plans, or make collection calls…anything to change your mental landscape.

8 – Inject some (additional) joy in your life. You have only one chance to live this life. You may have schedule fun, humor, joyfulness into the week, but you’ll be more productive from it. What, hate comedy clubs? Try Sirius XM‘s Blue Collar Comedy in your next rental car. Or check out the comedy channel on your cable. Or listen to the “remember when” stories at your next get together with family and friends. Trade corny jokes with your kids. Laugh yourself silly and gain fresh perspective at the same time. Put it into action. Once you’ve walked the path on some of these, they’ll become second nature. And you’ll be living a richer life for it!

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