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!

Archive for the category “collaboration”

1 way how to turn a bad conversation into a positive one


1 way how to turn a bad conversation into a positive one 

Most conversations go awry when one person starts to use an accusatory tone. This can sound like this: “You always ignore me”, “You never consider my opinion”, or “Can you ever plan ahead?”

This kind of lingo can start a downward spiral of events. For one using “you” in this context typically is like poking your finger in the other person’s chest. Always, never, ever, etc, are rather strong words and most likely were not meant literally. Once offended the other person may start fighting back. And why not? After all, “always”, “never”, “ever” are very rarely true in the literal sense. The moment the other person also starts throwing similar sentences the other way, a battle of the minds will typically ensue. Even worse are those people of us who say such things to intentionally hurt and drawing pleasure from putting their friends, family, co-workers, employees, etc. down.

So, how can you turn this situation around? A way out is using the expression of feelings rather than using accusatory statements. If you can express how certain behaviors hurt you and how they make you feel, it is typically much easier for the other party to understand what has led to the issue in the first place. Also, the other person’s mental shutters and personal defense system are not engaged and a much more sincere and genuine conversation can happen.

So what could the sentences above sound like? Let’s try this: “When you do not pay attention to me while I am speaking with you makes me feel sad and undervalued.”, “Sometimes I feel like my opinion is not valued at all; it makes me feel ignored”, “Whenever you do not plan ahead I feel like you do not value my time and my day ends up in chaos”.

See the difference? Emphasis lies in expression how a certain behavior makes you feel and how it affects you. This is the way how to keep the conversation at a really professional and factual level. It does not offend and is not intended to make you get even with the other person. A much more fruitful discussion can result. Have fun trying it out.

Ralf

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Discover the toughest thing for entrepreneurs to let go of


Discover the toughest thing for entrepreneurs to let go of 

Photo credit: Pablo by Buffer

It comes down to adapting to change and letting go of what you knew worked best when you started up your company. I have observed in many a friendly business and even I have been resistant from time to time abandoning a success recipe. After all, that is what got you this far. Challenge is that a business has stages very similar to human life. When maturity hits and we need to hire more people and build up a lot of infrastructure it is tough letting go of the figment our imagination that we call control. We should be hiring people that are much smarter and better equipped than us. We should be delegating and letting middle management take over control over most if not all important parts of our businesses. The one thing that keeps us from moving on is fear.

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions we have. Take for instance the fear of loss. No one wants to lose anything that we have an emotional attachment to. That applies to things, relationships, feelings, etc. Very often we may not even necessarily know if what we are attached to is good for us. What if letting go is the best thing that could happen to us? In this particular case we are afraid to lose our business if we changed the tried and true original business model. Don’t take my word for it. Here is a link to a fabulous book by friend Craig Hughes “The Self-Driving Company: How Getting Out of the Way Enabled My Business to Thrive”. This is the book to read when your start up business is stalling, you have employee turn over issues, you find yourself totally exhausted because you feel like you have to do everything, etc.

A good analogy to being held back by your old beliefs and the things that you are intensely focused on is the way how some monkeys are being caught in Africa. Food or other similarly interest sparking materials are being placed in a space the monkey is surely going to notice. That is typical a hole dug into the ground or an existing cavity in rock formations. When the monkey reaches into the hole grabbing the “bait” his hand no longer fits through the opening of the cavity. The catcher now fast approaches the monkey with the intention to scare him. The monkey stays caught because he does not want to lose the precious things he is holding in his hand (Discover this in action). The more he panics, the tighter he holds on to the loot.

Isn’t that a little like our entrepreneurial situation? The tighter we hold on, the more we get stuck and we get caught. So here is my call to action: Whenever you feel you have run out of options and you do not want to lose what you are attached to, please let mentally go of this attachment. Watch how liberating a feeling it is to look AT your situation and not FROM the middle of it. Ponder if letting go of the old isn’t the best thing that you should do.

Ralf

 

13 things that make or break a great teacher


13 things that make or break a great teacher 

Most of us would think that the word teacher merely applies to the school setting. I think that this applies in family, social and also all professional areas as well. To me “teacher” goes hand in hand with being a leader – being a mentor. Can you think of the best teacher you have encountered? Now think of the worst one(s). Interesting contrast do you not agree? My best was my English teacher here in the States while attending evening college. He brought the best out in me even though it was in a language I only learned later in life. Conversely, the worst was my English teacher in German high school who once asserted that I would never, ever “get” English and never be able to speak it correctly and much less being able to write in English. He was also known for throwing his key chain at students when he wanted their attention.

Here are a few attributes that I believe you will find our best teachers (mentors) have in common. They also represent criteria that we must possess as parents and business leader-managers.

A good teacher,

  • has a profound, current knowledge of the subject matter.
  • conducts continuous research in his field or related field.
  • has an intuitive understanding of human learning.
  • has an understanding of student motivation.
  • understands the proper use of assessments / exams.
  • trusts students in their ability to achieve and learn.
  • possesses openness: Talks about his own personal journey as well as listening to the student’s own journey.
  • discusses secrets he has learned.
  • treats students with decency and respect.
  • is genuine and sincere.
  • lets student struggle to exercise the material and tolerates mistakes made.
  • provides a fun and safe learning environment.
  • makes the lesson about the student and not about himself or the school.

This should sound familiar and perhaps you can think of more points that you could share with us. While I hold fond memories of my favorite teachers, I also wrote a lovely mail to my high school English teacher in the best English that I could muster about how I learned to write and pronounce English correctly – just not in his class.

Ponder these points in your own social and business settings and I believe you will be amazed how many times you slip into the role of a teacher every week.

Ralf

Learn great leadership from orchestra conductors – What is your style?


Learn great leadership from orchestra conductors – What is your style? 

Photo credit: Pablo by Buffer

When I was young(er) I really did not get the point what an orchestra conductor’s job really was supposed to be. Sure the hairdos and wild gestures were very impressive, but how did all of that transpose into leadership and much less into the beautiful music? After all, the musicians were all professionals who obviously knew their instruments and music? How does a conductor merely lead by gesturing?

Point is that much can be learned about the conductor and leadership by just watching them during performances (please watch this TED Talk about this topic here). By far the worst by today’s standards are the tyrants who honestly think only their interpretation of the music should be played. This turns the musicians into mere instruments. That is so yesteryear. The first conductor shown in the linked video was told that he was indeed a great conductor, but he was also invited to quit at the same time. The musicians appear to not being able to stand the egocentric life and leadership style.

Then there are the minimalists who keep their musicians guessing what and when and how they are supposed to play. Sound familiar? With leaders like that there are fields of raw eggs to stomp on – no matter where you step there may be a mess soon.

The semi good conductors provide visible and audible low key directions. They enjoy the performance and really attempt inviting the musicians to interpret the pieces making the performance memorable.

The crème dela crème are conductors who lead by increasing their musician’s potential. At the performance they are merely there providing a presence of comfort and collaboration. The rest is up to the team of musicians and the notes in front of them. Responsibility and autonomy are at a natural balance. Every stake holder is better off and the audience gets to experience a really unique concert. It’s one of a kind; one that is meant only for this audience.

Substitute conductor for the name of your boss and see where he/ she may fall. Do they know where you stand and are they working on getting better at leadership? If so, be candid and share this post and / or the video with them. Having the courage to look at themselves and then having the persistence of making changes are great ideas. If the leader-manager is you, well, what is your management style?

Ralf

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