Kick-Start Your Work Day

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I start most days with YouTube.

That may seem odd to you — but it works for me. Today, Gregg Allman, George Harrison, Green Day, and The Verve are my colleagues. My partners in crime. My morning coffee mates.

Yesterday, it was Aretha. Tomorrow it might be Chopin. I’m not sure. I’m completely open.

We often forget that we must leave ourselves the room to be our best. (Certainly our brains require this.) When pushed to the limit and working on only fumes, we’re likely to fail.

I’m not sure what works for you, as the seeds of creativity are quite different for each and every one of us. That’s the beauty of the workplace. We are individuals. So are the required roots of creativity.

So start your day with what works for you. Take the time to identify this. Then become brutal in its application. Take that morning walk — or listen to that audio book — or queue up Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga.

Start your day with the proper foundation.

Then push “start”.

What powers you though your day? Share your strategies here.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and coach. She is the Director of Thought Leadership at Kilberry Leadership Advisors, Toronto.

Why I’m Taking a Walk Every Day

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My mind seems crowded. This to an issue. While I’m committing countless hours each day to absorbing ideas, facts and figures, my devotion to “down time” is, well, paltry. I’ve neglected that part of life where you find the time to reflect and process information.

Because of this, I’m certainly less productive.

Things seem to “hang out” in my mind, spinning, fermenting. Being busy is a great thing — overload another.

I’ve recently read a fascinating post (See it here. More on the book Daily Rituals, by Mason Currey, here.) about how some of the most incredible individuals of the last 400 years, spent their time. While their areas of expertise were varied (and remarkable), there was one link among many of them: From Milton to Tchaikovsky, many set aside time for a daily walk. A few ventured alone. One with family. Shame on me — I know better. Walks rock.

Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Digestion. I’m not referring to gastronomy — I’m referring to all of the information you’ve taken on-board today. It’s difficult to see patterns and develop linkages when your brain isn’t allowed the time to process effectively.
  • Fresh air. I love my office, but a change of scenery does help me to feel rested and refreshed. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a beach or a handy mountain range to view, as some of my colleagues. But the breeze is just as refreshing here in the mid-west — the birds just as vocal.
  • Lowered anxiety. With our busy work lives comes our unshakable friend, anxiety. Physical exercise has great way of managing this nagging work life by-product.
  • Digital reprieve. Not sure how much time you must spend in front of a computer — but I do a lot of my work on-line. At times, I simply forget there is more to life than Power Point.

I’m going to commit 20 minutes each day this summer to get out and walk. Whether it’s a stroll around your office building, a nearby park or a quick trek to grab lunch and back, I challenge you to do the same.

Take a tip from Mozart and keep paper and pencil handy. Write me here and let me know what happens.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and speaker. The Office Blend, has been recognized by Forbes as one of their “Top 100 Websites for Your Career” in both 2012 and 2013.

Considering Success

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Do you consider yourself to be successful?

Yes — I’m aware that’s a loaded question. In this case, I’m speaking of workplace success. But I’m certain that by the end of this post, other elements of our lives will come into play. Work life success is a complicated construct. It has to be…simply because we’re people…and people are complicated. But, this query seems to come up quite a bit during the course of our career lives. As I coach clients (both individuals and teams), I’ve realized this question often looms central.

Unfortunately career growth is not always reflected in the numbers. When career growth doesn’t jibe with outside measures of success (such as money, power and title) — we have doubts and question our path. We tend to place great emphasis on metrics in business. What you’ve sold. What you’ve earned. How many employees you might supervise. On some level the numbers work on other levels, not nearly as well. Numbers don’t tell the entire story. They never have. Never will.

Sometimes the numbers lull us into a false sense of security. In other cases, they really don’t reflect or keep up with the progress we should really claim. I see this too. (I’ve left one or two “cushy” jobs with great salaries to pursue goals.) Think of all the organizations that have misread the cues. They may have thought they were at the top of their game — and for a time, the numbers stated that they were. However, the success was fleeting in some part, because their metrics were essentially flawed.

When we are in transition career-wise, the numbers almost never reflect the depth and breadth of what’s happening. (We may have changed paths in exchange for a lower title, for example. We may have opted to re-train. Our goals or focus may have evolved.) But, we still wait for that outside confirmation that we are doing the right thing. I’ve done this. I’m sure you have.

The important point here it to find the guideposts that work for you. These may not be anything like the metrics we are accustomed to — but will offer the information you require.

Here are a few alternative measures of success to consider:

  • You are developing a voice. We’ve all held roles where our expertise or opinions were lost or ignored. No amount of money can make up for this problem. A voice matters. Always. When you can operate at a level that let’s you know you’ve earned your turn to contribute in a meaningful way, that is priceless.
  • Mastering something new. You don’t need to leave your current work life to master something new. It’s a commitment, I know — but worth the trouble, as the rewards are certainly there.
  • You’ve found a challenge. There are “seasons” of our work lives where a new challenge is the last thing that we need. But, when there isn’t enough challenge, this too, can be suffocating. With challenge comes hard work — but also a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.
  • The chance to create something. We’ve all held jobs where our role was to sustain something — a practice, a policy, a program. But, to have the opportunity to create something new (a post, a new product, a business), is an experience that cannot be measured with traditional metrics.

There are so many other elements success that I’m sure I’ve overlooked. Please share your story here.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and speaker. The Office Blend, has been recognized by Forbes as one of their “Top 100 Websites for Your Career” in both 2012 and 2013.

Music = Inspiration

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From time to time, we all experience our own form of “writers block”. The words (and work) stop flowing, as we find ourselves faced with that invisible, impervious “wall”. We might be working too hard or lingered too long solving a specific problem. Whatever the scenario — inspiration is absent.

As we know, changing gears completely can lead to a breakthrough (Read more about the Eureka Phenonmena here.) Listening to a great piece of music, can affect this gridlock — setting our minds in motion, in an entirely different direction.

Here are six pieces of music that might take you away from the pressure, and lead your mind toward a more productive, fluid space. I happen to find these selections helpful. However, I would love to know what you queue up when energy is running low. Share them with us here.

A little extra inspiration never hurt.

Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve:

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What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong:

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Clocks by Coldplay:

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The Best is Yet to Come by Frank Sinatra:

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Nessun Dorma by The 3 Tenors:

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Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap:

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Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She also writes for Linkedin and US News & World Report.