Saturday, May 9, 2009

Play the Glad Game...

In her wonderful book, The Wealthy Spirit, Chellie Campbell describes how, when she was a girl, her mother taught her to play "The Glad Game." On days when Chellie came home from school complaining about something - a bully on the playground, a harsh teacher, a skinned knee, or difficult homework – Chellie's mom would hug her, kiss away her tears, and then suggest, "OK, enough complaining. Let's play 'The Glad Game.'"

"The Glad Game" is another name for a Gratitude List. "The Glad Game" helps you focus on what's right in your world today, instead of what's wrong. Chellie's mom was a very wise woman, teaching her that no matter what your troubles, there are still plenty of things to be grateful for: a sunny day, good food to eat, a loving family, a house to live in, a family pet to love, a handful of friends to enjoy, and much, much more.

Chellie would follow her mother's suggestion:

"I'm glad I have you as my mom."
"I'm glad the weekend is almost here."
"I'm glad I have some nice clothes to wear to school."
"I'm glad I don't have to share my room with my sister anymore."
"I'm glad I get to watch TV when I finish my homework."
"I'm glad we have pie for dessert."

Playing "The Glad Game" is a terrific way to change your attitude in a hurry. We all slip into self-pity once in a while – after all, we're only human. The important thing is to cut the pity-party short and shift into gratitude. An attitude of gratitude will get you much farther in life than complaining and self-pity. Try it and see.

By Mac Anderson / Founder, Simple Truths

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Leadership In Hard Times - Leading - and Succeedin...

"The truth is that no one factor makes a company admirable. But if you were forced to pick the one that makes the most difference, you'd pick leadership."

Warren Bennis, Organizational Consultant and Author

As organizations adapt to changing business environments, the need for effective leadership is especially critical.

When times are good, leading a company or a team is exciting. Resources are plentiful, customers are satisfied, and opportunity is everywhere. However, when the economic conditions are challenging, this excitement and positive energy tend to weaken. People often feel the pressures of work, and they fear for their job security. These worries and fears present a major challenge for leaders who want to keep their teams on target and productive.

Good leadership is good leadership, regardless of the economic climate. However, during difficult times, top-notch leadership skills become even more important. Second-rate leaders might be able to keep a company going in a strong economy, but you need high-performing leaders to succeed in tough times.

Of course, you need leaders who can control costs and conserve cash. However you also need leaders who see opportunity - and who will strive to seize that opportunity - despite all the negativity. You need leaders who remain committed to their people. And you need leaders who can transfer their own positive outlook to the people around them.


Create New Opportunities


In an economic downturn, you need to conserve your resources so that you can survive. However, you also need to position yourself to benefit as competitors falter, and to be ready when the economy recovers. An economy in decline is often an opportunity to regroup, rethink, and renew. To take advantage of new opportunities, consider doing the following:

  • Review Your Strategy - Figure out which objectives you're meeting, which ones need more emphasis, and which ones you should reconsider or drop as the environment around you changes.
  • Lead By Example - Now, more than ever, you have to lead 'from the front' by setting an example. Take personal responsibility for customer care and contact. Actively pursue new business. Show that you're willing to make extra effort to commit to the organization's success.
  • Add Value - One of the ways that leaders can gain greater market share and improve operations is by really listening to their customers. Look for innovative ways to add value without adding costs, and win customers who aren't being well served by your competitors.
  • Use Market Conditions to Create a Stronger Business Model for the Future - If you're a senior manager, consider looking for bargains, in terms of mergers and acquisitions, which will improve your company's future competitive position. Whatever level you're at, negotiate keener rates with suppliers, which you can continue to enjoy after the economy recovers.
  • Take the Opportunity to Trim Costs - Encourage cost-consciousness within your team or organization. Now is a great time to do this - everyone knows that times are tough, and people will be more willing than ever to cut unnecessary costs. 
  • Implement a Continuous Improvement Plan - Look at your systems and processes to find efficiency opportunities. Lead the way in building a culture of continuous improvement (members only). You can use these savings to pursue the numerous opportunities created by the downturn.

Commit to Your People

Negative messages are all too common during economic downturns. People are losing their jobs, unemployment rates are going up, and personal and corporate bankruptcies are increasing. This can weaken morale, both in the workplace and in society as a whole, and it can tip people into panic, severely damaging their productivity.

It doesn't have to be that way. Don't abandon your people. Use this time to reinforce how important they are, and build the skills they need to help the company survive.

  • Invest time In leadership Skills Training - Leadership is key to success. The better your leaders are, the better it is for you, your team, and the organization. OK, you may not want to spend a lot of cash on leadership training, however, when times are slow, you may be able to invest much more time than before in management and leadership development. 
  • Retain Your Best People - Part of good leadership is keeping costs under control. However, profits are made by your people. Don't cut back on attracting quality people, and make every effort to retain your best team members by treating them with dignity and respect. 
  • Be Creative With Recruitment and Retention - Salary increases may not be possible, but you can do lots of other things to create attractive work conditions. See our members' article on Managing During a Downturn for specific ideas.  
  • Build a Motivating Workplace - It's easy to focus too much on specific tasks and the bottom line, especially at a time when resources are limited and "cash is king". As a leader, however, you can't let that stop you finding ways to motivate your workforce. Sirota's Three-Factor Theory suggests the following:
    • Treat People Fairly - When you can't avoid layoffs, give people as much warning as you sensibly can. Talk honestly about what's happening, and how cutbacks will affect them. And if you're cutting people, try to cut the volume and scope of the work you do so that you don't overload those who are left. 
    • Provide Useful Work for Which People are Recognized - Be careful about reassigning the workloads of people who have been laid off. Take time to determine who is best suited for which tasks, and remember to give lots of praise. Match people's skills and interests with the work you need done. 
    • Foster Good Relationships at Work - If you have to stop the Friday company-sponsored lunch at a restaurant, replace it with a low-cost potluck event. Try to avoid cutting it entirely.

Project Positive Energy

Good leaders provide hope and vision. These two qualities can keep a workplace going, even during tough times. People need someone they can trust - someone who is inspiring, and knows how to get things done. As a leader, make it a priority to do the following:

  • Expect Great Things from Your People - Within reason, the more you demand, the more opportunity you give people to perform, which can be highly motivating. However, don't push too hard, and remember to communicate your expectations. 
  • Keep In Touch With Your People - Use the MBWA (Management By Wandering Around) technique (members only) to find out what's going well, and what needs your attention. Remember to recognize and praise success. Staying connected builds relationships and trust. In tough economic times, you need your staff to perform especially well. The more they know you care, the more likely they are to respond to your call for action.  
  • Be Visionary - Leaders with vision, passion, energy, enthusiasm, and real engagement with their staff, are the key drivers of economic growth. Stay focused on the big picture, and manage to the best of your abilities.  
  • Take Care of Yourself - Respect your own feelings and emotions during difficult times. Where appropriate, share your concerns with people you trust, and build a network of people you can talk to, however work hard to remain upbeat - if you're constantly worried, others will sense this. Get enough rest to keep yourself fresh, and manage your emotions to keep your creativity and self-confidence high.

Key Points

Leadership during good economic times has its challenges. But those challenges increase when the economy is tough, and staff are worried about keeping their jobs and paying their bills.

In these conditions, leaders and managers must keep a sharp eye on their environment, prepare for recovery, support their people, and project enthusiasm and energy. By remaining positive, supporting your people, and looking for new business opportunities, you can help your company survive - and succeed - through the difficult times. Leadership performance is critical to organizational success, so use all of the assets available to you.

Thanks to James Manktelow / Mind Tools  

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Why American's Economy Fell Off the Cliff

John Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock (MADE IN JAPAN) for 6 am. While his coffeepot (MADE IN MAXICO) was perking, he shaved with his electric razor (MADE IN HONG KONG) He put on a dress shirt (MADE IN SRI LANKA), designer jeans (MADE IN PAKISTAN) and tennis shoes (MADE IN KOREA) After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet (MADE IN ITALY) he sat down with his calculator (MADE IN CHINA) to see how much he could spend today. After setting his watch (MADE IN TAIWAN) to the radio (MADE IN GERMANY) he got in his car (MADE IN GERMANY) filled it with GAS (from Saudi Arabia) and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN JOB.
 
At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day checking his Computer (MADE IN MALAYSIA), John decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals (MADE IN INDIA), poured himself a glass of cola (MADE IN FRANCE) and turned on his TV (MADE IN JAPAN), and then wondered why he can't find a good paying job in AMERICA.
 
AND NOW HE'S HOPING HE CAN GET HELP FROM A PRESIDENT MADE IN KENYA

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Condiment - How Long It Will Keep - Unopened On the Shelf Or Opened In the Fridge

Table of Condiments

Its pretty obvious when your tomatoes have turned, but how can you tell if your ketchup's gone bad? Take a tour of the refrigerator to find out just how long your mustard and mayo can stay on the shelf.

Ketchup:

Unopened: 1 year
Opened: 1 month in the pantry, longer in the fridge.

Mayonnaise:

Unopened: 2-3 months
Opened: 2 months in the fridge. Be sure to refrigerate after opening, and never leave mayo out of the fridge for more than two hours.

Mustard:

Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 6-8 months in the pantry or the fridge.

Vegetable Oil:

Unopened: 6 months
Opened:1-3 months. For best results, store open vegetable oil in the fridge.

Olives:

Unopened: 1 year
Opened: 1-2 months in the fridge.

Half and Half: (Milk)

Unopened: 4 weeks in the fridge
Opened: 1 week in the fridge.

Chili Sauce:

Unopened: 1 year
Opened: 1 month in the pantry, longer in the fridge.

Sour Cream:

Unopened: 2 weeks in the fridge
Opened: 2 weeks in the fridge.

Salad Dressing:

Unopened: 10-12 months
Opened: 3 months in the fridge.

Fresh Eggs:

Unopened: 2-5 weeks in the fridge
Opened: use them now

Juice:

Unopened: 1 year
Opened: 1 week in the fridge.

Butter:

In the Fridge:: 3 months
Have more butter than you can use? Store extra sticks in the freezer for up to a year.

Jelly and Jams:

Unopened: 1 year
Opened: 1 year in the fridge. For best results, store your jam and jelly in the fridge, even before opening.

Baby Food:

Unopened: 1 year
Opened: 2-3 days in the fridge.

Peanut Butter:

Unopened: 6-9 months
Opened: 2 -3 months, longer in the fridge.

Tomato Paste:

Unopened: 1 year
Opened: 5 days in the fridge.

Pickles:

Unopened: 1 year
Opened: 1-2 months in the fridge.

Broth:

Unopened: 1 year
Opened: 2 days in the fridge.

 

 

 

 

Challenges

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to three people who are going through many challenges in their lives right now. As I listened to each, I marveled at the resiliency that each had in dealing in their own ways with their challenges. Following the conversations, I recalled a story that I once heard that reminded me that while everyone has challenges, some challenge are greater than others.

A group of people who had gathered together began to share some of their problems and frustrations. At one point, the facilitator of the group asked them to stop, take a moment to reflect and to write down five problems that they were facing in their lives at this time. He then asked them to fold the papers and place them in a basket that he was passing around.

When all had put their papers into the basket, he mixed them all up and then passed the basket around again instructing the people to remove a paper from the basket and quietly read the paper that they had selected. He then asked if anyone in the room would choose to exchange their own problems for those listed on the paper that they had drawn. No one did. No one wanted to. No one felt that their problems were worse than the ones experienced by the author of the list that they held.

It seems unfair, and sometimes overwhelming, to face hardships and threats to life, safety, security, well-being and happiness. We may not understand the reasons for the pain and fear that result from these life challenges. Nonetheless, they offer the greatest opportunity for growth and emergence of inner strength that was heretofore unrecognized in ourselves.

A favorite poem of mine that was shared many years ago by a dear friend makes the poignant point:

I walked a mile with pleasure;
she chattered all the way.
But I was none the wiser,
for all she had to say.
 
I walked a mile with sorrow;
not a word said she.
But oh, the lessons that I learned,
when sorrow walked with me.
 
Author Unknown

Affirmation:
"I will look inward for the strength and wisdom that I need and I will move beyond the pain that I may be experiencing from the challenges in my life."
 

Thanks to Mary Rau-Foster

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

10 Ways to Catch a Liar

J.J. Newberry was a trained federal agent, skilled in the art of deception detection. So when a witness to a shooting sat in front of him and tried to tell him that when she heard gunshots she didn't look, she just ran -- he knew she was lying.

How did Newberry reach this conclusion? The answer is by recognizing telltale signs that a person isn't being honest, like inconsistencies in a story, behavior that's different from a person's norm, or too much detail in an explanation.

While using these signs to catch a liar takes extensive training and practice, it's no longer only for authorities like Newberry. Now, the average person can become adept at identifying dishonesty, and it's not as hard as you might think. Experts tell WebMD the top 10 ways to let the truth be known.

Tip No. 1: Inconsistencies

"When you want to know if someone is lying, look for inconsistencies in what they are saying," says Newberry, who was a federal agent for 30 years and a police officer for five.

When the woman he was questioning said she ran and hid after hearing gunshots -- without looking -- Newberry saw the inconsistency immediately.

"There was something that just didn't fit," says Newberry. "She heard gunshots but she didn't look? I knew that was inconsistent with how a person would respond to a situation like that."

So when she wasn't paying attention, he banged on the table. She looked right at him.

"When a person hears a noise, it's a natural reaction to look toward it," Newberry tells WebMD. "I knew she heard those gunshots, looked in the direction from which they came, saw the shooter, and then ran."

Sure enough, he was right.

"Her story was just illogical," says Newberry. "And that's what you should look for when you're talking to someone who isn't being truthful. Are there inconsistencies that just don't fit?"

Tip No. 2: Ask the Unexpected

"About 4% of people are accomplished liars and they can do it well," says Newberry. "But because there are no Pinocchio responses to a lie, you have to catch them in it."

Sir Walter Scott put it best: "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" But how can you a catch a person in his own web of lies?

"Watch them carefully," says Newberry. "And then when they don't expect it, ask them one question that they are not prepared to answer to trip them up."

Tip No. 3: Gauge Against a Baseline

"One of the most important indicators of dishonesty is changes in behavior," says Maureen O'Sullivan, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco. "You want to pay attention to someone who is generally anxious, but now looks calm. Or, someone who is generally calm but now looks anxious."

The trick, explains O'Sullivan, is to gauge their behavior against a baseline. Is a person's behavior falling away from how they would normally act? If it is, that could mean that something is up.

Tip No. 4: Look for Insincere Emotions

"Most people can't fake smile," says O'Sullivan. "The timing will be wrong, it will be held too long, or it will be blended with other things. Maybe it will be a combination of an angry face with a smile; you can tell because their lips are smaller and less full than in a sincere smile."

These fake emotions are a good indicator that something has gone afoul.

Tip No. 5: Pay Attention to Gut Reactions

"People say, 'Oh, it was a gut reaction or women's intuition,' but what I think they are picking up on are the deviations of true emotions," O'Sullivan tells WebMD.

While an average person might not know what it is he's seeing when he thinks someone isn't being honest and attribute his suspicion to instinct, a scientist would be able to pinpoint it exactly -- which leads us to tip no. 6.

Tip No. 6: Watch for Microexpressions

When Joe Schmo has a gut feeling, Paul Ekman, a renowned expert in lie detection, sees microexpressions.

"A microexpression is a very brief expression, usually about a 25th of a second, that is always a concealed emotion," says Ekman, PhD, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco.

So when a person is acting happy, but in actuality is really upset about something, for instance, his true emotion will be revealed in a subconscious flash of anger on his face. Whether the concealed emotion is fear, anger, happiness, or jealousy, that feeling will appear on the face in the blink of an eye. The trick is to see it.

"Almost everyone -- 99% of those we've tested in about 10,000 people -- won't see them," says Ekman. "But it can be taught."

In fact, in less than an hour, the average person can learn to see microexpressions.

Tip No. 7: Look for Contradictions

"The general rule is anything that a person does with their voice or their gesture that doesn't fit the words they are saying can indicate a lie," says Ekman. "For example, this is going to sound amazing, but it is true. Sometimes when people are lying and saying, 'Yes, she's the one that took the money,' they will without knowing it make a slight head shake 'no.' That's a gesture and it completely contradicts what they're saying in words."

These contradictions, explains Ekman, can be between the voice and the words, the gesture and the voice, the gesture and the words, or the face and the words.

"It's some aspect of demeanor that is contradicting another aspect," Ekman tells WebMD.

Tip No. 8: A Sense of Unease

"When someone isn't making eye contact and that's against how they normally act, it can mean they're not being honest," says Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice. "They look away, they're sweating, they look uneasy ... anything that isn't normal and indicates anxiety."

Tip No. 9: Too Much Detail

"When you say to someone, 'Oh, where were you?' and they say, 'I went to the store and I needed to get eggs and milk and sugar and I almost hit a dog so I had to go slow,' and on and on, they're giving you too much detail," says Berman.

Too much detail could mean they've put a lot of thought into how they're going to get out of a situation and they've crafted a complicated lie as a solution.

Tip No. 10: Don't Ignore the Truth

"It's more important to recognize when someone is telling the truth than telling a lie because people can look like they're lying but be telling truth," says Newberry.

While it sounds confusing, finding the truth buried under a lie can sometimes help find the answer to an important question: Why is a person lying?

These 10 truth tips, experts agree, all help detect deception. What they don't do is tell you why a person is lying and what the lie means.

"Microexpressions don't tell you the reason," says Ekman. "They just tell you what the concealed emotion is and that there is an emotion being concealed."

When you think someone is lying, you have to either know the person well enough to understand why he or she might lie, or be a people expert.

"You can see a microexpression, but you have to have more social-emotional intelligence on people to use it accurately," says O'Sullivan. "You have to be a good judge of people to understand what it means."

Extra Tip: Be Trusting

"In general we have a choice about which stance we take in life," says Ekman. "If we take a suspicious stance life is not going to be too pleasant, but we won't get misled very often. If we take a trusting stance, life is going to be a lot more pleasant but sometimes we are going to be taken in. As a parent or a friend, you're much better off being trusting rather than looking for lies all the time."

By Heather Hatfield / WebMD Feature

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Who Packed Your Parachute?

As a leader, do you honor and appreciate the power of WE? Do you stop to thank and recognize the members of your team? Do you consistently show an attitude of gratitude?

I recently read a great story about Captain Charles Plumb, a graduate from the Naval Academy, whose plane, after 74 successful combat missions over North Vietnam, was shot down. He parachuted to safety, but was captured, tortured and spent 2,103 days in a small box-like cell.

After surviving the ordeal, Captain Plumb received the Silver Star, Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit and two Purple Hearts, and returned to America and spoke to many groups about his experience and how it compared to the challenges of every day life.

Shortly after coming home, Charlie and his wife were sitting in a restaurant. A man rose from a nearby table, walked over and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"

Surprised that he was recognized, Charlie responded, "How in the world did you know that?" The man replied, "I packed your parachute." Charlie looked up with surprise. The man pumped his hand, gave a thumbs-up, and said, "I guess it worked!"

Charlie stood to shake the man's hand, and assured him, "It most certainly did work. If it had not worked, I would not be here today."

Charlie could not sleep that night, thinking about the man. He wondered if he might have seen him and not even said, "Good morning, how are you?" He thought of the many hours the sailor had spent bending over a long wooden table in the bottom of the ship, carefully folding the silks and weaving the shrouds of each chute, each time holding in his hands the fate of someone he didn't know.

Plumb then began to realize that along with the physical parachute, he needed mental, emotional and spiritual parachutes. He had called on all these supports during his long and painful ordeal.

As a leader, how many times a day, a week, a month, do we pass up the opportunity to thank those people in our organization who are "packing our parachutes?"

An Excerpt from Aim for the Heart By Tom Mathews

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