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Leadership Lessons from Abraham Lincoln

The recent movie “Lincoln”  reminds us of his legacy and remarkable accomplishments.  He saved the Union and abolished slavery.  He kept to his vision despite innumerable setbacks, and  much death and destruction.  Lincoln has been the subject of much admiration and study in leadership circles, and is discussed in a recent article in the NY Times by Nancy Koehn.

1.  Lincoln always looked forward and inspired Americans to a higher  course and a purpose that is larger than themselves.  He listened  to a variety of  people from different spheres of influence and was  present and authentic.  In a country whose focus is on “What’s in it for me”  now, it takes skill to motivate people to a higher purpose.  Companies today have mission statements, but how many people are inspired by them to actions for the greater good?

2. He kept his vision and composure while staying true to his vision and integrity.   There needs to be resilience and persistence to survive  what can  be an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows in a leadership role.  Lincoln had  high emotional intelligence– the ability to manage and control his emotions and to work well with others.  He gathered advice from a wide range of people and included those who were critical of him.  In this way  he showed respect for those who had different opinions. In todays’ culture of instantaneous  communication, what if Lincoln had hit the send button  too quickly on email?  So many of us react instead of responding  after thoughtful consideration as Lincoln demonstrated.

3.  The ability to shift gears when necessary requires flexibility and courage.  After a humiliating retreat at Gettysburg, Lincoln decided to draft the Emancipation Proclamation that declared  freedom for all slaves in the Confederacy. Then  the war became not just a conflict to save the Union, but to save a new Union without slavery.

Lincoln went on to lead the effort for the ratification of 13th Amendment which abolished slavery.  He died just six days after Lee surrendered to Grant to end the war that cost more American lives than any other war  in our history.

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“Women on the Move” Interview Airing this week

I  was recently interviewed by Jennifer Matilsky for her series on “Women on the Move.” The show will air on Saturday from 4:00-4:30 on Newstalk Radio 1160 in Atlanta.  For those of you outside of Atlanta, you can watch on-line NewsTalk 1160 The Talk of the Town  or by downloading the Newstalk 1160 app on your phone.

Please forward this on to any friends, colleagues, or clients .

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Employers Continue to Add Jobs

The Labor Department reported on Friday that American employers added 155,000 jobs in December, continuing the slow pace of growth over the past year.

The biggest gains were in health care, food services, construction and manufacturing, with the latter two probably helped by  the rebuilding in the Northeast  after Hurricane Sandy. Government payrolls fell modestly once again.

The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, the same as the revised rate for  November.

Over the course of 2012, the country added 1.8 million jobs, despite continued job losses in the government sector and anxiety related to the presidential election and scheduled tax increases and spending cuts. Also encouraging is a report by Outplacement Firm Challenger, Gray and Thomas that said the number of job cuts fell 43% from those in November.

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Reach Your Goals in 2013!

When it comes to career success, direction and focus are crucial. But beyond direction, how effective is it to have goals?

Requirements for Effective Goal-Setting

 Much has been researched and written about the effectiveness of goal setting.

The findings say:

Difficult goals lead to higher performance than easy goals.

  • Difficult goals lead to higher performance than “do your best” goals.
  • Setting specific goals results in more precise performance than setting “do your best” goals.

Just having the goal is not enough.  You must develop a strategy to make it happen.  What are the activities you need to perform every day?  Plan those activities, but also stay alert and open to new ways to achieve your goals as they present themselves.

There are three critical requirements that dictate how well goal setting will work:

Commitment to your goals.

  • Periodically reviewing where you stand regarding goal achievement (getting feedback).
  • Belief that you can achieve your goals (self-confidence and self-efficacy).

You need to genuinely desire the goals you set.  If you don’t like your job and don’t want to be there, then it is difficult to be committed.  It’s also crucial that you believe that you can achieve the goals you set for yourself.

Stress and Goal Setting

 Goals create striving which results in more stress.  So how do you deal with this stress?

Since I am notoriously poor at pacing myself, I created a structure to help me with this process.  My plan includes eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, but also not scheduling clients on Fridays, if at all possible. I don’t work past 8 p.m.  I plan vacations and weekends away, and schedule social events with friends at least once per week. Part of my stress management program also involves not over-booking myself with social activities so that I have time to retreat for rest and recuperation.

Deepak Chopra, in The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, says that if we want to have a successful career, we should first center ourselves and then release our intentions (our career goals) to the universe.  We should not be attached to the way these goals develop, or to the exact outcome, but leave the details to the universe.  We can get the same results through effort and trying, he says, but the result is stress, which can lead to heart attacks and other physical illnesses.

Sometimes we focus more on our unhappiness with our present situation, than on what we want to achieve. Chopra says that we should accept where we are now, be fully present in the moment and concentrate on our deepest intentions (goals).

Goals should be difficult, but achievable with persistent effort. Goals that are too extreme, such as doubling your income in one year, can only discourage you.  Goals work because you persist and focus your efforts in a specific direction .Without that direction, we can find ourselves floating through our lives, more at the mercy of outside forces that are not devoted to our welfare or success.  But we can manage our goals in a way that does not create undo stress by not being attached to the exact way they are achieved.

Conclusion

 In my business I set performance goals for myself every year. I also set goals for relationships, finances, home, physical and mental health, as well as spiritual development.  I can attest to the fact that the more specific the goal, and the more frequently I review that goal and focus on it, the more likely I am to meet that goal.   It helps to write down your goals, read through them periodically, visualize them and keep a picture journal that represents the achievement of those goals. But it also helps to listen to the feedback from the universe, and make adjustments to those goals when necessary. We should have a career plan, but be flexible with how it unfolds.

As I approached graduation from college many, many years ago, I wrote a poem about goal setting which I titled, “My Brook and Me.”

I remember the brook

streaming through the woods;

spending hours around it,

building forts, wiping the mud off me with skunk cabbage.

I remember the brook on sunny days;

Water babbling over stones and rocks, pieces of wood;

making the water ripple the way it did.

I wondered what happened to the brook

traveling away from my yard.

I had a goal for my brook

to flow to the ocean…but then what?

I see goals for myself

  thwarted, rearranged, fulfilled.

But the goal for my brook;

What happened to it?

Having set goals the brook and I

build toward them.

The brook unable to know…

about a pipe in the ground, a seeping marsh, a dam.

Myself not knowing the course I will follow.

Knowing what I want,

yet finding it hard to grasp.

I remember years of competition, of struggle, of acceptance.

Then discovering what is real, important;

myself, my friends, expression;

a soft kitten purring on my lap;

peace.

Being more than a doctor, a lawyer.

Knowing comfort, relaxation.

Being myself.

Approaching the completion of one goal,

I set new ones.

But fulfilling them means going away, sorrow.

Like the brook moves on, streams to the river…

the ocean.

Saying goodbye to familiar things,

 friends.

Facing a reoccurrence of similar past memories,

painful.

 I know a word…self-fulfillment.

Being vulnerable, can I take chances?

Being strong, grinding ahead through disappointments.

Being weak, letting go of crippled goals.

Like a brook who misses the river,

finding another happiness.

Being motivated, seeking what I am after,

But not too aggressive.

Being easy, tension-free.

Making it through the insecurity

Like cool water in a brook;

not knowing what will come.

Traveling through the seasons of time.

Molding myself to the environment like the brook

makes its path through nature.

Sliding over any obstacles

 the brook continues over rocks, pieces of wood.

Freezing in the rough, cold spots;

melting in the warm.

Praying for a map free of dams to follow

 in a steady, unchartered progression.

My brook and me.

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Finding Joy in Your Work – Your Bucket List

In the movie, The Bucket List, two men (Jack Nicholson as Edward and Morgan Freeman as Carter) with quite contrasting and differing lives find themselves sharing a hospital room.  Both men have a terminal illness and only a short while to live.  This unlikely pair develops a friendship and in the process creates a list of things they want to do before they die. As they proceed on this journey, they each experience life changing revelations.

One of the things on their list was to see the pyramids of Egypt. As they’re looking at the pyramids with a backdrop of blue sky and sunshine, Carter tells Edward that the ancient Egyptians believed that when you die, you have to answer two questions before you get into heaven.

•    Have you found joy in your life?

•    Have you brought joy to others’ lives?

Our work  is one avenue where we can both experience and provide joy to others.

In ways do you find joy in your work?

In what ways do you provide joy to others through you work?

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Employers Maintain Upward Trend in Hiring Confidence for Q1 2013

According to a survey by  the Manpower Group,  U.S. hiring decision makers predict a slightly increased hiring pace is expected for Quarter 1 2013. After seasonal variations, the Net Employment Outlook for Quarter 1 2013 is +12%, a 1 percentage point increase from Quarter 4 2012 and slightly elevated from +9% during the same period last year.
This quarter’s research concludes:

  • Strongest First Quarter Outlook in Five Years: The Quarter 1 2013 Net Employment Outlook is the strongest first quarter data collected since 2008.
  • Improvement in Retail Sector: The Wholesale & Retail Trade industry anticipates an increase in hiring in Quarter 1 2013. Often, after seasonal hiring, there is a decline in hiring plans at the start of a new year.
  • Positive Trend in Northeast and West: Employers in the Northeast and West anticipate increases in hiring in Quarter 1 2013. Compared to this time last year, employers in the Northeast indicate a 4 & increase, while employers in the West expect to increase hiring by 7 %.

Of the more than 18,000 employers surveyed, 17 % expect to add employees in Quarter 1 2013, while 8 % expect a decrease in workers, resulting in a Net Employment Outlook of +9%. When seasonally adjusted, the Net Employment Outlook becomes +12%. Seventy-two percent of employers expect no change in their hiring plans.

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Gain Focus & Improve Productivity by Reducing Multi-Tasking

More companies today are focusing on mindfulness training to help improve productivity.  According to an article in Workforce.com,  research shows that 49% of the time our mind is not focused on the task at hand.  Especially with the bombardment of constant technology, we are driven to distraction by  email, phone(s), ipads and other technology.

According to Basex, a research firm, the estimated cost to companies from lost productivity is $997 billion and 28 billion hours.

Mindfulness is the opposite of multi-tasking. It is most commonly taught by various forms of meditation. With more focus  people make fewer mistakes.   Companies who have instituted such practices as mindfulness training include Apple, Google and General Mills.

Reducing noise levels helps, including music and TV.  I recommend planning your day the night before.  Make note of all important tasks that need to  be completed, and focus on getting those done first.  Have a regular schedule and take time, even five or 10 minutes for meditating to slow your mind and stay focused.

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The Slow Hand of Progress

Whether it is being frustrated with organizational issues or beauocracy, not getting that promotion you hoped for,  being unsure of what direction you want to  take with your career, or starting a new business, may of us are unsatisfied with the slow hand of progress. “For everything there is a season and a time for everything purpose under heaven,” scripture tells us.  But believing  and living this is something else indeed.

The important things to remember are to make sure that every day you are doing the right things to reach your goals.  Stay on task.  Persevere despite setbacks.  Move ahead even if you are uncertain  what the future holds for you. Be open to opportunities.  Set goals, but  adjust them as necessary.  Keep the faith.

The quote below may help to keep you centered.

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God

We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability — and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.

Your ideas mature gradually — let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.

Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”

– By Pierre Teilhard De Chardin SJ

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For Life Balance

Take time to think  – It is the source of power.

Take time to play – It is the secret of perpetual youth.

Take time to read – It is the fountain of wisdom.

Take time to pray – It is the greatest power on earth.

Take time to be friendly – It is the road to happiness.

Take time to laugh – It is the music of the soul.

Take time to give – It is too short a day to be selfish.

Take time to work – It is the price of success.

Take time to do charity – It is the key to heaven.

Author Unknown

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US Added 146,000 jobs in November & Unemployment fell to 7.7%

The jobs growth number was better  than expected and the jobless rate was the lowest since December 2008.

Many expected a lower number of jobs because of hurricane Sandy which crippled the NE last month.

The Labor Department revised its job growth figures downward for October and September .

But  November’s net growth in payrolls was below the average of 170,000 new jobs added monthly over the course of August, September and October.

Manufacturing jobs fell by 7,000. Economists  speculate  that causes include lower demand  for goods from overseas while US companies await resolution of the fiscal cliff.

 

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