Posts tagged - common sense

Be authentic

Be you. Not who you think you should be. Not what others want you to be. Be you, just you. You are not an actor or actress, you’re not playing a role. If you do, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Less experienced people are more likely to embellish their experience or tell you they know something they don’t. They want others to think they know more than they do and have greater experience than they do. But most times these “fibs” will catch up with you. It may be when someone else immediately realizes you don’t know what you’re talking about, which is a bad impression to make, or it may be they figure it out later, after working with you, which will not have a positive effect on their opinion of you.

Being yourself and authentic is easier than a facade because it’s hard to maintain a facade. It’s similar to why lying is such a bad idea; it’s easier to remember the truth than to keep up with a lie. Just play it straight up. Be honest about what you know and what you don’t. Perhaps when you admit you don’t know something, the other person will show or teach you, or become your mentor. Or, of course, if you are not authentic you may lose – a lot.

Being the authentic you is how we all should make our way through each day. I once heard an attorney include the following in a closing argument: “A half-truth is a whole lie.” True statement. Being true to yourself and others is being honest. Isn’t that how you want to be known?

 

No Comments

Get out of your comfort zone

The same old, same old is the same as becoming stagnant. Said differently: don’t be a stick in the mud! Try to do something new a couple times a year to take you out of your comfort zone. What it is depends on you.

Maybe it’s trying something new, like hiking or Pilates. Maybe it’s attending a class or conference on a subject that interests you but has nothing to do with your career, which will allow you to meet people outside of your usual circles. There’s an endless amount of possibilities, as long as it’s something you don’t normally do.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is a way to engage in self-discovery, keep life interesting, and expand your interests, horizons, contacts, etc. These are the type of actions that make you and your life significantly more interesting and valuable.

No Comments

Get enough sleep

This seems so obvious, yet most of us don’t. You might; I know I generally don’t. I try, but so much to do and so little time…

I read something that said adults generally need at least seven hours of sleep per night until the age of 60, after which most people need more. It seems like that should be easy, but it’s not always so simple. When you are busy at work (including the time spent commuting), household projects, children, and extracurricular activities like volunteer work or sports leagues, who has the time for sleep? Oh yeah, and we should also fit in exercising and socializing. Time is precious, but so is taking care of yourself.

I also read it helps to try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Yes, even on the weekends, which sounds bad if you get up early during the week, like me. Supposedly, it’s better for your sleep cycles. I know when I keep the same schedule, I wake up early without an alarm clock—my body becomes used to the schedule. But if I don’t get enough sleep, I inevitably have a morning when I sleep later than I planned.

Living tired makes everything harder, whether it’s work or fun activities. If you can regulate and normalize your sleep patterns and timing,  it’ll likely help you feel better and be more productive. Sweet dreams.

 

No Comments

Turn you New Year’s resolution into a SMART goal for a better chance to be successful

It is the first week of January. We all are back at work trying to recover from the holidays as the new year kicks into high gear out of the gate. Many of you likely made New Year’s resolutions. It could be one of the standards such as losing a certain amount of weight, starting an exercise program, drinking less soda, eating less candy, etc. Maybe it is something different and more personal to you. Or maybe it is work related such as meeting new professional contacts, listening better to others, or having more balance in your life.

The problem is resolutions are hard to keep. How many times have you had a resolution and it last for a week? Or maybe it lasted a month? Odds are you were not keeping the resolution by the end of that year (assuming it was something that would take a year to accomplish or was a permanent change you were trying to make to a behavior or habit).

If you made a New Year’s resolution, I propose you try something new. Have an action plan on how to stay on task to meet your resolution. To do so, make your resolution a SMART goal. I know many of you have heard this acronym before, and maybe even have set SMART goals in the past.

For those that haven’t, it stands for:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Timely

Resolutions generally fail because trying to do something or stop doing something by sheer force of will is a recipe to fail. If your resolution doesn’t fit within the SMART goal parameters, revise it so that it does – you will have a much better chance of success.

Know that your SMART goal/resolution may be achievable in less than year – remember one element is the time you think it will take to reach your goal. If you meet your resolution, come up with a new SMART goal. It doesn’t matter if it is January 1 or May 22. You should constantly look to improve yourself, your business, your life – well, you get the idea. Try it and see what happens.

No Comments

The 2017 version of why it is time for an annual “checkup” for you and your company

Over the past few years many of you probably read my blog regarding having a checkup for you and your business. This does not involve the doctor, but it does involve all the other professionals in your personal and business life. Since that time, I decided to make this topic an annual tradition. This is based in part on the range of feedback I receive every year.

Some of you said “What a great idea. I am definitely going to do that.” Other said “Sounds like a good idea, maybe I will look into that.” Most of you were busy with the holidays and all that they entail, and probably ignored my advice. To be honest, any of these responses is okay and ignoring my advice may not have had detrimental effects to you or your business.

The point of the advice is that you only know what you know. If you do not check in with your professionals and, for example, make sure contracts or your estate plan remain enforceable and up-to-date, that is where the risk comes in. For example, I always check in with my accountant at the end of the year to ensure that all is right with taxes.

This year I had a reminder related to a different item you should check in on annually, auto insurance. We have two teenagers on our policy and a number of vehicles, and the premiums always seem so high to me. But my insurance person knows me and shops the policy every year looking for the best rates rates for policies with similar coverage from quality insurers. He did this again this year and we have a new insurer as of yesterday. And the savings were pretty significant.

With the time constraints of life, it is sometimes hard for me to move beyond the higher-level checkup, but when I do I usually end up with some benefit. Unfortunately, in our time-crunched world, the question of who to check in with at year end is expansive, from your estate planning attorney, to your investment person, to your insurance person, to vendors you may use such as a yard or pool maintenance company, or your cell phone carrier or your Internet provider. You may be surprised what a company will do in lowering monthly costs to satisfy a current or longtime customer. Try it and see what happens.

I know, I know, who has the time? None of us do, which is why the choices yours. Are your contracts up to date? Did you pay enough estimated taxes or withholding? Are you paying the cleaning service at your office or your lawn service for your home too much? The choice of what professionals to consult, what costs to check or compare and what services to put out to bid is yours. Choose wisely!

And for those of you seeking a reminder or who did not see it in years past, here is my original blog post on getting an annual checkup:

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of where you are personally and professionally. This can be checking in with your personal accountant to make sure you have withheld/paid enough taxes during the year or planning for deductions to planning for large corporate expenditures on things such as upcoming projects, planned corporate initiatives or planned equipment purchases. But the one thing that is a constant is that we all should be doing this.

In the past I have mentioned why it is good to sit down with various professionals you or your company work with just to check-in, be they attorneys, accountants, insurance professionals, financial planners, investment professionals, etc. The list depends on you and your business.

This does not have to be a formal appointment unless you think that is appropriate depending on the nature of the planned conversation. Instead, it can be you offering to buy them lunch or a drink. The point is the better the professionals you work with know you, the more they are able to make recommendations aimed to benefit you or your company.

So don’t wait, start making plans today to meet with these people this year, or at least first thing next year. We all are busy this time of year, but if you take these actions it will help you now and in the future.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Comments

Never underestimate the handwritten thank you

Most of you remember when “the usual” was sending anything and everything by mail. People do things for you, oftentimes going out of their way, all the time. Do you acknowledge these people? If not, why not? If so, how?

If someone does something meaningful, you need to let them know. I understand not all people are doing things to receive thanks, or even comfortable with praise at all. But you know when someone deserves your gratitude, and an email or a text may not be the most appropriate way to express it; they can be low-impact and quickly forgotten. Thanking someone in person may work well, especially if you know you’ll see the person. Other times, you won’t be seeing the person for a while and that’s when you should go with the handwritten letter: a high-impact personal touch that won’t be forgotten in a digital age.

I will admit I don’t handwrite thank yous as much as I should, but I try. I was recently in New York and my aunt and uncle, who live northeast of Philadelphia, took a train to Manhattan to go to dinner with me. That was above and beyond given the amount of time spent traveling in one day, not to mention, they’re not exactly young. When I got back to Phoenix the next week, I bought a card and sent them a heartfelt personal note of thanks. People appreciate this sort of thoughtfulness.

The point is to try and let people know when you appreciate them or their actions, and you don’t have to buy a card. You can write a letter on lined paper, computer paper, or sticky notes. It doesn’t matter how you do it and won’t to the recipient, who will be touched because you took the time to personally pen your thanks and acknowledge what they’ve done for you.

To me, it’s like volunteering for a non-profit. Even though the point is doing something for others, it makes you feel good. Try it and see.

 

No Comments

Travel extensively and meet people

Make travel your norm. We all need to take breaks from work and recharge. If you wait for when you have more time or retire, that time may never come. Or maybe you will retire one day, but be physically unable to go to the places you always hoped and planned to. This is part of work/life balance.

When you travel, immerse yourself in local culture and places. Attempt to meet (hopefully interesting) locals to make your travels more fruitful and expand your world. If you do meet good people, try to keep in touch—it makes your daily life richer and fuller.

I was at a family event back East recently. Part of the draw, in addition to seeing family and friends, was that two former foreign exchange students who lived with relatives of mine years ago were also there with their significant others and kids. Each family had travelled from England and Denmark, respectively. I’ve been in touch with the family from Denmark over the years, but hadn’t seen them in approximately two and half years. I hadn’t seen the couple from England in 13 or 14 years and had never met their children. It was great to reconnect with both families in person.

Not only will I now stay in better touch with the family from England, but one of my nieces made a great connection in her chosen area of study. You never know who you’ll meet or how they may help you or you might help them in life if you’re not open to meeting new people or reconnecting.

And when I talk about travel, I don’t mean every trip needs to be the “trip of a lifetime” to Europe, a safari, or an expensive flight to a remote island. It can be a short weekend in town, a staycation, or a trip to a town an hour or two away. But try different places and activities—sometimes you don’t know you like something until you try it

The point is to give your brain and body a break, as well as spending quality time with your family and friends, hopefully meeting interesting locals or other travelers along the way. Your life will be that much more interesting for you and to others.

No Comments

Try to be different not better

I know you may be thinking I want to be seen as different by my peers. But showing people you’re different will go a long way to proving you are better. For instance, I’ve written about my firm’s intentional culture known as the JW Way because it makes us different than most other law firms.

What I’ve found is that most potential clients and referral sources are attracted to the JW Way and what it says about my firm. We understand that the JW Way may not be for every client, but that just means they should be working with another firm or a different attorney.

So think about differentiates you from your competitors; it’s also likely to be what makes you better. Letting people know why you’re different is more intriguing than telling someone you are better. The former is interesting and the latter is cocky. How do you want to come across? And it goes without saying that speaking about your company’s values will come off better than slagging your competitors.

 

No Comments

Read all the time

Sometimes it is what you know, despite the universally repeated cliché “everything is who you know, not what you know.” Who you know is important, but what are you going to speak about with the people you know or meet? What you know, of course. The more you know, the more topics you can speak intelligently on with those you know and meet. This is important in the real world.

And what should you read? The answer is what you like. It helps if that includes being up on the news, at least generally. Read the headlines, whether from the New York Times, msn.com, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, etc. If you read articles that interest you and skim the other headlines and articles generally, it will allow you to participate in more conversations with others.

You may not be a sports person, but skimming most news sources last week would have told you the Houston Astros won the World Series.  Even knowing this bit of information can help you make your way into a conversation with someone you want to meet at an event. Of course, it will be up to you to turn the conversation to where you would like it to go, or at least to a subject on which you know more than the headline and are more comfortable.

Reading other things also is helpful. It can be fiction or non-fiction, which hopefully provides you with books you can recommend to others. Maybe you will find one that impacts you deeply enough you should be sending copies to certain people you know, including clients or business partners. Unexpected gratuitous gifts are a good way to be remembered by others who you hope keep you in mind.

Reading is the equivalent of investing in yourself. Aren’t you worth the time and investment?

No Comments

Invest time in yourself to lower your stress level

There is the old proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Hundreds of years ago when this proverb came into use it meant that if you only work you would be bored or boring. My point to you is different: All work and no play makes Jack a stressed boy or Jane a stressed girl. This is something you know, but are you willing to try new steps to lower your stress level?

Many activities can help you lower manage stress. Your choice may depend on the time you have available each day to invest in yourself. And I know this is a function of the business you are in, what is going on with your children or family, the demands of your spouse, etc. so the hour and a half hike or bike ride might be out, but you probably have time for 20 minutes of yoga. Again, the idea is to find something to fit into your busy day and the time to do it.

For instance, I have figured out that if I fit things in first thing in the morning it is much more likely they will happen. I have two main things that I try to fit into my daily and weekly routines that lend themselves to the time I have. The first is hiking and the second is meditation.

This morning, before doing anything else, I meditated and then went on a hike. I know some you are thinking meditation is not for everyone, and maybe specifically not for you. I used to think that way too. After learning about it more through a program at work a few years ago, I tried unsuccessfully to incorporate it into my routine a few different times. This summer that changed.

I have meditated almost every day since June. Two things helped me do this. The first was the resolve to make time and see if I found benefits from the activity. Second was the app Headspace, which has guided meditations, including on different topics that you may find interesting such as productivity, stress, etc.

I won’t lie and say that it’s been easy to fit in 10 minutes every day. It’s not. And I know it sounds as funny reading that as it is for me to write it. How can it be hard to find 10 minutes in your day? Trust me, it is. But the benefits I think I get from meditation have focused me on continuing to make it a part of my routine and it is now something I look forward to doing each morning.

Interestingly, I think the hiking I do is an extension of and  related to the meditation in that it puts me in a happy place. For instance, this morning I came up with ideas for blogs, including this one. Before doing that, I finished a podcast involving an interview that I was interested in. Sometimes I listen to the news. Sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I do think about work, but if I have something such as a trial or deposition that day, odds are I am at home or work preparing and I have changed my routine because of the nature of that day.

These activities together help keep me better centered and less stressed than I would be if I did not do them. And I am not suggesting that each of you should take up meditation and hiking, though I do think you should try meditation. Instead, I think you need to figure out what will help to focus on yourself for even a short time each day to see how it improves your life. Once you do, try to make it a routine and I think you’ll be happy with the results.

And if you want to try meditation, I suggest you go here: https://www.headspace.com

 

 

 

No Comments