Ralf Weiser's Blog – Shake Up Your Snow Globe! ©

Stop doing, shake your globe, ponder, dream, start reaching your full potential – live on purpose and do it with a smile!

Only dead fish swim (well, float) downstream – 7 often overlooked benefits of taking a stand

Only dead fish swim (well, float) downstream – 7 often overlooked benefits of taking a stand Smaller FB

Do you catch yourself just swimming with the stream, or do you rock the boat and swim against the stream when need be? This is my invitation for you to ponder how you can be yourself and stand up for something. What is your personal brand? What will your legacy be? What are the things that only you should do? What are the things in life that you want and need to make a stand for?

I am happy to say at work we have been swimming against the stream with a big payoff – high morale, engaged team members, and an increase in business. When we decided to be congruent with our values of our Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet, and Prosperity), which is essentially and win-win-win scenario for all stakeholders, we decided that where we work must resemble these values. We have one of the few if not still the only Green LEED Gold certified manufacturing buildings in Pennsylvania. Vendors, Customers, business leaders, government representatives (local and international) as well as school students alike have been inspired by coming and touring our facility. It has been nine years now since we moved into the building and we have had record numbers of visitors. The image and commercial impact is impossible to measure in a direct manner, but in many a conversation with people who have come to visit us they do mention how this has positively changed their path and how they view our products and us. “All” it took was becoming congruent with our values by constructing and moving into our building. Now everyone can touch, feel, and thus experience the difference. Work turns into having fun with purpose. To this day outsiders question whether or not such a work environment exists and even if it does, whether or not it is worth anyone’s time and money. Well, welcome to Utopia. It took quite a bit of effort swimming against the stream of common opinion and “best method” practices. Insiders can tell you that doing so is totally worth it.

Here are a few benefits if you decide build your own way of swimming against main stream:

  1. Without having to resort to polarization (good-evil) you take a stand and tell people where you stand.
  2. You will be recognized as a leader. You cannot lead from the rear of the pack; you do need to be one step ahead at least with your thoughts.
  3. Thinking about this will almost automatically make you a subject matter expert. That is a good position to have. Only when you do solid and objective research followed by offering your expertise freely will you be able to influence people.
  4. You will inspire people to do the same as you. You never know who listens to what you have to say.
  5. The more you practice, the less afraid you are of criticism by others. There are always people who value you and your input.
  6. All of this leads to a much richer and more balanced life. That can mean wealth too. The power of a brand fills the Web with business every day.
  7. All of the above leads to a great degree of sustainability.

Our building was featured in a PBS special a while back and our straw bale construction conference room was shown during the construction phase. Our section starts at minute 9.40min where you can see Aerzen USA’s manufacturing plant come alive. http://www.pbs.org/greenbuilders/watch-the-film.html Here is another link to a Youtube video where at minute 7:47 where you can see our strawbale construction conference room walls gets its start. Currently, we are expanding this facility owing to the growth stemming from swimming against the stream.


How to be candid with each other

How to be candid with each other Ralf a

You get what you tolerate. A close relative of tolerance is candor. Offering candid and constructive feedback is tough. You do not want to offend and you do not want to create issues. On the other hand tolerating a pattern of performance issues, incompetence and a pattern of mistakes will only get you and the other party into trouble as well. Yes, you will have to put some will power into being honest with yourself and then others. The benefits outweigh the disadvantages almost all the time. The moment you put it out there what you would like to see, people will naturally change on their own in order to help you. If the pattern still continues you now know that you must make tougher choices: Do you need to change yourself or is it time to abandon your current relationship? Thinking and acting upon your choices will bring peace of mind.

Take a common example from work as an example: You have a co-worker that annoys you with his loud telephone conversations. You could just leave it be, complain to others about this and finally just be miserable about it because nothing ever changes. Complain to your boss and one or the other may start playing games because there is no direct line of communication. On the other hand, you could choose to speak with the colleague and tell him how you feel and ask if he could possible do something about this. Catch the drift?

Here is a tip how to bring your issue up with others: First and foremost you need to have a plan what and how you wish for change to occur. Why is a plan important? You need to keep the meeting with your other party as constructive and factual as possible. Confrontation is not the way to go as you pull feeling and emotion into the discussion, which can put everybody’s brain into flight or fight mode. That would not be good. Identify the issue and think about what would happen if nothing changes.
Write it down and share this thought with your counterpart during the meeting. Now think really hard about what the change look like that you are asking. Make sure to mention your intention to improve upon this situation. Also think about if and how you may be contributing to a less than ideal situation. Jot down and voice your desired outcome in the meeting.

Life is all about the choices you make. Choose speaking about this and affect a change even if it is hard at first to make the start. Remember that you will be feeling better about yourself when you make the choice to not tolerate things that upset you. Are you ready to make some tough choices? If you do not make a choice then you are actively choosing to get what you are tolerating. Where can you make a start that you can experiment with this? This concept applies at home as well…


Baited by our lizard brain

Baited by our lizard brain Smaller FB

Polarization has not helped anyone. That is except politicians and other people with agendas make use of this extensively. This is similar to the discussion what Truth is. There is your truth and mine. Well, this is very much related to how we look at it and the Truth lies somewhere between us two. Truth with a capital T does exist. Can anyone even perceive what it is without automatically skewing it looking from a personal viewpoint? Polarization may help making a point, but it makes one party a winner and the other a loser – neither is helping by this situation in the long run though. Typically, it can never possibly be one single thing as we can only look at it from our personal vantage point depending where we are on our life’s journeys.

In a world of all shades of gray, it looks so comforting that there is a prospect of paving the way for the polar opposite black and white approach.   Polarization of different view points is ironically so attractive to us as we want to know where people stand. Why? Simply put because we are very primal that way. Our lizard brain helped us survive in a very dangerous world. Fight, freeze or flight were the three primary modes we used to survive. Recognizing the things that could hurt of kill us dominated our thinking mode and that made it necessary to figure out which things and beings we could trust and which ones we could not. It is this desire to look for patterns of predictable patterns that our brains want to obtain the trust from that no bad things will happen. Bottom line is that the simple decision making criterion is deciding what is either safe or unsafe.

That is the dynamic that drives us toward polarization of matters. It is much easier – or so it seems – to derive predictability from the polar opposite extremes. If you are too close to the middle it could go either way which may be the better thing to do, but it is too unpredictable. Most of all it takes time to discern what the issue is in the first place. In a time where it seems more important to be first rather than right, this is fertile ground for not making the effort digging a little deeper. It is easier to just go with what seems right. You do not want to lose either as you look for possible threats. Thus you choose the predictable outcome and the comfort of the safety blanket that this thought pattern invokes.

With some exceptions there are very few items in our lives that are universally bad or good. So how do we dare to claim that we are objective but are unwilling to accept that between two viewpoints the truth lies somewhere as a third delta point somewhere as an outlier between the two? Spend the time and effort to not be baited by polarization.



6 ways of dealing with emergencies at work

6 ways of dealing with emergencies at work IMAG0806

Photo credit: Ralf Weiser

The attached picture of a sign in my office should say it all. Yet, we deal with other people introduce last minute emergency work all the time. Most of them are avoidable if they had been better managed and communicated. When it hits your desk it is typically too late and you have to rush for implementing solutions to the people who sent you their urgent task. Nowadays most of us get to work on two basic categories: Urgent and very urgent tasks.

I have to admit most of the unplanned or unscheduled emergency type work stems from us Testosterone laden people. Let’s face it we men are not the most proactive folks. The best approach for you in dealing with the bombardment of one urgent task after the other is to prioritize as best as you can and also to become an expert at communicating.

There are a few best practices that will let you come out on top of these messy situations:

  1. Top number one job of yours is to find out what the real situation and urgency is. Ask when you really need to deliver. Never assume!
  2. Number two is to make sure capturing the true scope of the job. It is impossible to hit a moving target.
  3. This one might surprise you: Ask who else may also already be working on the same issue. Really antsy folks have the nasty habit to scatter gun their request and nothing is more frustrating when you get to know a colleague is also working on the same issue – what a waste of resources.
  4. I love e-mail, but there are times when you are much better off picking up the phone and speak with the people that are tasking you. The written word can be misinterpreted with the wink of an eye. It is also a time management item if you are not the fastest in typing.
  5. Make sure to ask how you are to communicate follow up information.
  6. Finally, there is delegation. I know, most of us do not have the luxury of being able to let others take a swing at the problem you are supposed to work on. That does not mean that you cannot explore and try giving a challenge to someone else.

With a little practice you can do miracles with same day service and deliver the impossible tomorrow.


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