A New Way to Work

Success and change without burnout by Dr. Geri Puleo

Archive for the month “March, 2015”

TEDx Talk on Burnout and PTSD Passes 20,000 Views on YouTube – Thank You!!!

I just wanted to thank all of you who have watched my TEDx Talk (Burnout v. PTSD:  More Similar Than You Think…) on YouTube.  In just one year, this business video passed 20,000 views!

If you haven’t yet seen this TEDx Talk, you can view it by clicking on the video below.  (You can also access the video directly at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.)

As you know, I am a firm believer that burnout is affecting not only who we are as employees, but also how we work and react to each other both inside and outside the workplace.  I appreciate all the emails from viewers who have found some hope in my TEDx Talk – and I promise that I will continue researching not only what causes burnout, but also the best ways to overcome it.

Thank you once again for all your support and positive feedback.  I hope that one day we can create a workplace where burnout is nothing but a distant memory.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout:  Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

Paradigm Shifter #21: Sometimes, you’ve just got to punt

Paradigm Shift

Tenacity is a characteristic that is highly valued.  Ancient mythology and modern stories of people who succeeded despite seemingly insurmountable challenges encourage us to never give up.

Is such resolve despite the surrounding environment and outcomes always the best tactic?

In other words, sometimes, do you just have to punt?

Personally, I am pretty tenacious and have even recommended going over, under, around (or even through) obstacles that challenge our ability to achieve the goal.  But I also have learned that sometimes the path that we are on is simply not conducive to what we want to achieve.  In these instances, we’ve just got to punt.

Aside from the personal angst associated with giving up on a particular path, there is also the additional challenge of determining when we should stubbornly move forward OR abandon that path for one that is more aligned with our goals.

Deciding whether to continue on a specific course or “punt” by moving on in a way that sparks less resistance is not easy.  For example, have you ever faced any of these challenges?

  • You’re applying for a job in a company that has received extremely poor employee reviews on sites such as Glassdoor.com or Vault.com – particularly in the areas of employee engagement, respect, and recognition. Despite these nearly unanimous warnings on social media, you believe that the situation will not be the same for you.
    The issue:  Even though you’re confident in your ability to manage, handle, and change these cultural dimensions, will you be given the authority to make these changes AND are you willing to embark on an employment journey that is fraught with such landmines…OR should you seek employment elsewhere in a company whose culture is better aligned with what you want?
  • You decided on a strategy to grow your business, but the progress has not met your expectations.
    The issue:  Instead of blaming customers for not understanding what it is you’re selling, should you invest more time and money into this particular strategy…OR should you change course to a marketing strategy that better resonates with your target market’s needs?
  • You’re working at a company whose culture is extremely different from ones that you have experienced and in which you’ve succeeded in the past. While working overtime was expected at your first employer, your new employer views this as an inability to properly manage your time and workload during traditional work hours.
    The issue:  Do you continue doing what you believe exhibits a good work ethic…OR do you go through the painful task of adjusting how you work to better align with your new work environment?

The Difficulty of Deciding When to Punt

In the many years that I worked as a career consultant, this conundrum continuously appeared in consultations.  Deciding to give up a behavior, belief, or goal can be experienced as a blow to one’s ego.  Invariably, we question whether our original decision was correct and, if not, does that somehow indicate that we are not as competent as we thought?

Humans innately have a tendency to grasp and hold on to things, people, beliefs, lifestyles, etc.  Letting go is tremendously difficult due to this emotional attachment.

Additionally, while tenacity can often differentiate between winners and losers, tenacity can also be an indication of blind stubbornness.  No one exists within a vacuum.  Our goals, desires, and lives are constantly interacting with forces both internally and externally — and we have to constantly be scanning the environment for clues as to the efficacy of our actions.

Another primary consideration in determining whether to stay the course or let go is the importance of the goal or strategy.  In areas such as discrimination, tenacity in relation to the end goal is necessary but the message used might need to be changed in order to achieve the goal of greater inclusivity and diversity.

Our original ideas might be excellent and worthy – but the environment in which we operate may not be ready to accept them.  Do we keep pushing and wait…OR do we adjust and move on with something that is more palatable to our environment?

Consider these questions to help you decide when to stay the course or when it’s time to punt:

  1. Is the decision related to a highly desirable end goal OR only to a strategy to achieve that goal?
  2. How strong is your level of emotional attachment to this course of action AND what does this path really mean to you (e.g., self-worth, a core value, etc.)?
  3. How powerful are the external forces impacting this course of action AND how do you believe that they will “push back” if you continue on this path?
  4. What modifications can you make to this course of action that can retain the essence of what you are trying to achieve, while modifying the way in which you are trying to achieve it?
  5. What sacrifices will you need to make in order to continue this course of action AND are you willing to make those sacrifices?

Determining when to be tenacious and when to punt is challenging on many levels.  Unfortunately, there is no one universal answer or “magic formula” for deciding if and when it is time to punt.  By truthfully answering these 5 questions, you will be better able to approach the decision from multiple angles so that you can make the best choice for you!

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout:  Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

Why Burnout Matters: The REAL Cost of Burnout in the Workplace (Webinar presented by Dr. Geri Puleo)

Most people agree that burnout is rampant in the American workplace.  Unfortunately, many people fail to make the connection between a burned out worker and the organization’s overall productivity, profitability, and sustainability.

In this 9-minute “mini” webinar, you’ll discover some shocking “bottom line” effects of burnout on corporate budgets.  In addition to the emotional and physical toll on workers, the StressCosts Formula (©2002 Chrysalis Performance Strategies, Inc.) provides calculations to determine the real costs of stress.  Warning:  the real costs of stress can be a real eye-opener for many companies who state that burnout is only the employee’s problem.

Watch for the next webinar in this series, The False Cures of Burnout, on Wednesday, April 1.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout:  Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

“What if…” vs. “Why not?”: The Fear vs. Creativity Conundrum

Frightened turtle

There is a major divide occurring in many businesses today.  The battle lines are drawn between the overly cautious risk avoiders and the equally overly optimistic creative visionaries.   The first group solemnly cautions, “What if…?” while the second group trumpets, “Why not?”

Understanding where your company falls between these two groups is essential for success in today’s constantly changing market and workplace.

On the one side, risk management is commonly and wisely accepted as a critical part of effective strategic management.  To understand the changes that could alter the environment, assumptions, processes, workflow, customers, etc. requires the creation of hypothetical situations that answer, “What if…?”

Paradoxically, another highly recommended business strategy is to boldly explore, innovate, and leap into new markets and product lines.  To identify and challenge the outdated assumptions in order to release such “outside the box” thinking requires answering the question, “Why not?”

But can these two vastly different approaches co-exist – or could the “what if” scenarios of risk management go too far?  In other words, are our fears of what might happen in the future destroying our creative spirit today?

Corporations are nothing more than financial and legal entities – they do not exist without their human workers.  Balancing the “why not” of creativity with the “what if” of risk management essentially requires an understanding of the true nature of what it means to be a human at work.  The balance between the two is the degree of fear (expressed or unexpressed) in the workplace.

How Fear Impacts the Workplace

Throughout modern business, we have been encouraged to leave our emotions at the doors of our offices.  In particular, the very real human emotion of fear has generally been avoided in business.  To be effective business leaders, we are advised to ignore our emotions and move forward solely on logic and reason.

Our gut instincts must be thoroughly tested and analyzed prior to using them to solve problems or develop strategy.  If our instincts aren’t supported by irrefutable facts, then they are often ignored.  After all, logic and reason are the sole means to avoid fearful circumstances and outcomes.

The psychology of being human, however, inherently includes emotions, feelings, values, perspectives, flashes of insight, creativity, and fear.  To attempt to ignore these powerful forces is (ironically) illogical.

But, even though fear is pervasive, no one likes to admit feeling it.  We’re advised to keep a “stiff upper lip” or “suck it up” in order to do what is necessary.  In addition, we human beings have a natural instinct to avoid situations that trigger our fears – whether real or imagined.

Despite the ubiquitous reality of fear, our reactions to fear vary widely.  Depending on our experience and perceptions,

  • We can choose to blindly ignore our fears by staunchly insisting that “nothing’s wrong.”  This can be seen when we fail to conduct thorough due diligence prior to making a decision.  In change initiatives, we label employees who question the changes as “change resistors” (which usually indicates that they are the “wrong people on the bus” and need to be replaced).
  • We can hedge the potential negative outcomes that we fear by engaging in extensive, protracted analysis.  Although it’s important to analyze both the internal and external factors that can potentially thwart our goals, “paralysis by analysis” can stymie an organization’s ability to quickly adapt to a constantly changing environment.
  • We can (consciously or unconsciously) exaggerate our fears into insurmountable obstacles.  Because we view the potential negative outcomes as so terrifying, we try to assuage our fears by rationalizing that we can never overcome them…that it doesn’t matter how hard we try…that it’s “inevitable” that our efforts will fail…so we quit without even trying.
  • We can act boldly at first,…but then second guess our decisions.  Inevitably, this leads to inefficient and ineffective processes due to the constant need to stop what we’re doing in order to replace it with something that we think might make the feared outcomes less likely.

No matter how the fear is perceived or expressed, its inevitable result is the loss of creativity and the courage to try something new.

Puleo’s Pointers:  Balancing the “What If’s” and the “Why Not’s”

Because “what if…” questions are fear-based, they tend to focus primarily on the potential bad things that can happen.  In sharp contrast, the “why not…” questions are inherently visionary and tend to evoke more boundless, blue ocean thinking.

It is not, however, a question of whether “what if…” is better or worse than “why not…”  However, it is a question of the balance between these two very different thought processes.

Fear stifles creativity, yet both fear and creativity are universal human experiences.  Due to this age of constant, unrelenting change, fears must be faced so that creativity can blossom.  The inability to innovate and adapt can be a death knell.

The telltale sign of fear is any iteration of “What if…?”  So, any time that you find yourself asking some variation of a “What if…” question, shift your focus to answer these four questions instead:

  1. What am I assuming will happen?  By giving your fear a name, you now have a target upon which to focus.
  2. Why is this potential outcome so frightening to me?  Am I afraid of losing something?  Am I afraid that I won’t be able to change?  Am I afraid of what other people will say?  The trick is to be specific BUT non-judgmental.  Just like the monster under your childhood bed, fears tend to subside once you clearly look at them.  Accept that the fear exists, then choose to move through it.
  3. What have I been putting off doing because of this fear?  One of fear’s greatest allies is procrastination – which is a form of self-sabotage that can create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  4. What’s the worst that could happen?  Once you have confronted your fear, you can begin to take the steps to move through it.  Nearly all fears are exaggerations of projected outcomes.  In other words, the reality is much less frightening than the potentiality.  (Remember:  There never was a monster under your childhood bed.)

The process of overcoming fear is a cathartic tool that helps you to harness not only your natural creativity, but also your insights into the real potential outcomes of an action.  Why not start now?

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout:  Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

Paradigm Shifter #41: Over it, under it, or around it: There’s more than one way to reach a goal

Paradigm Shift

We’ve all faced obstacles on the path to our goals.  Many times, we’ll tell others that we’ve tried “everything.”  But have we, really?

While I’m not sure where this assumption comes from, there seems to be a stubborn belief that if we’re “on the right track,” then we shouldn’t have difficult and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

But the reality is that every journey toward a goal will be fraught with a continuum ranging from dizzying successes to abject failures.  What should have worked, didn’t.  What shouldn’t have happened, did.  And where did all those unexpected twists and turns come from?!

Reaching a goal requires three things:

  1. Identifying specifically what we want to achieve.
  2. Consistently moving forward toward the goal in a manner that is both tenacious and adaptable.
  3. Celebrating the victories – and learning from the challenges.

Goal-setting seems to have achieved the greatest amount of inquiry by academic researchers as well as savvy business professionals.  Utilizing S.M.A.R.T goal setting (i.e., goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-driven, and Time-bound) is invaluable in fleshing out the true nature of our goals.

Similarly, the importance of recognizing and celebrating achievements has also received a great deal of print in magazines and across media channels.  If there isn’t a “woo hoo!” celebration after goal achievement, there might not be enough momentum and motivation to move forward toward the next goal.

Unfortunately, the implementation of tasks to achieve our goals has been the focus of a wide range of very segmented and disparate tools.  Business dashboards graphically portray the progress of individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole toward goal achievement.  CRM software keeps track of the nurturing and follow-up activities necessary to turn prospects into clients.  Stress reduction and time management techniques help us maintain focus in pursuit of a goal.

Creating synergy between these different implementation tools and techniques can be a challenge in and of itself.

But an area that is sadly lacking in the pursuit of goal attainment is the willingness to summon the courage to admit when something isn’t working in order to boldly move forward on a different (and often unknown) path.  We wonder if changing course midstream questions the level of “tenacity” needed to achieve the goal – or we celebrate our ability to “adapt” but wonder if we didn’t give the strategy sufficient time to bear fruit.

Knowing when to “stay the course” and when to change direction is the result of on-going experience and reflection.

In practice, once goal setting has been completed, there is considerable resistance to stray far from the plan.  Changes are often made cautiously and incrementally – even if a transformational overhaul is warranted.  The high degree of analysis and creativity that characterize strong goal setting seems to vanish during the implementation phase.

But, why?

If the goal is sufficiently noble, desirable, and worthwhile AND the people involved in attaining it have a strong enough personal reason to achieve it, then the paradox of being both tenacious and adaptable is almost instinctive.

  • Tenacity is the result of not only wanting to attain something, but also understanding why its attainment is so important and desirable.  A high level of belief in what we are doing may be one of the only ways to consistently move forward in the face of adversity.  We will find a way.
  • Adaptability arises from accepting that things change…fast and often without notice.  Adaptability requires a sufficient level of humility to admit when something isn’t working and, because the goal is worthwhile, discontinue doing those things that aren’t aligned with achievement of that goal.

While tenacity helps us to find a way to overcome obstacles, adaptability helps us to create new pathways to success.

Obstacles, challenges, and unforeseeable circumstances are a part of life.  But we always have the choice – IF we want to achieve something badly enough – to create and forge new paths toward the goal.  The path will most likely not be a straight line nor a downhill path.  Instead, we must build new roads to go over, under, or around the inevitable challenges that threaten the achievement of the goals that we really want.

In this age of constant, unrelenting change, maybe it’s time that we ask ourselves:  are we tenacious and adaptable enough to achieve the goals that we really want?

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout:  Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, keynote speaker, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” in her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  For more tips and ideas, please subscribe to her weekly “Success @ Work” eNewsletter at https://drgeripuleo.lpages.co/success-work-opt-in-page.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

Profile of a Burned Out Worker: 10 Warning Signs of Burnout (Webinar presented by Dr. Geri Puleo)

How do you know when you or someone else is “burned out?”  Although spiraling down into burnout tends to follow certain phases, one of the most challenging aspects is the high level of denial that anything is even wrong.

That’s why it is important to understand and be on the lookout for the 10 warning signs of burnout.

NOTE:  It’s usually only when there is a full-blown burnout that all of these warning signs might appear.  But even if you, a coworker, or a loved one displays only a few of these signs, it is an indication that corrective action is needed.

In this 7 ½ minute “mini” webinar, I’ll reveal the top 10 warning signs of burnout.  Are you experiencing any of these tell-tale signs?

Watch for the next webinar in this series, Why Burnout Matters:  The REAL Toll of Burnout in the Workplace, on Wednesday, March 25.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout:  Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

Why Do YOU “Go to Work?”

Why Work - Stress Enjoy Boredom

Jobs and work:  mostly everyone wants one.  Mostly everyone needs one.  But not everyone is happy or productive in one.  In fact, job stress can be a leading cause of burnout.

In the graphic accompanying this article, a highly skilled individual who is in an unchallenging environment will be bored.

An employee who is challenged beyond his or her skill set (and, I might add, did not receive appropriate or adequate training) will be stressed.

But the worker who has found the perfect balance between his or her skills and the right degree of challenge on the job will most likely be happy and excel.

While I mostly agree with this somewhat simplistic approach to job satisfaction, there is a key consideration that is overlooked:  why exactly are you working in the first place?

The reasons why we go to work are as diverse as the individuals in the workplace.  While the relationship between our skills and the challenges of the job are important, our own personal reasons to “go to work” can have a powerful impact on not only our commitment and performance on the job, but also on our propensity to burnout.

Consider these reasons to “go to work”:

  • Simply to get a paycheck:  There is a strong likelihood that we will do the bare minimum that is required on the job – and we’ll probably be the first ones out the door at quitting time.
  • We “have to” (even though it bores us):  Boredom can arise because our skills are higher than what is needed on the job OR we view the work as comprised of routine, mind-numbing tasks.  It is almost inevitable that we will display “presenteeism” on the job – we’re at work, but we’re not really “there.”
  • We like our coworkers:  Because we are human beings, it is impossible to separate the relationships that we have with the people in our work environments from our satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the job.  But even though our relationships might be super, if the job itself doesn’t align with our career goals and aspirations, then we will ultimately have a nagging sense that “something is missing.”
  • Our job aligns with our professional goals BUT it is an unethical or poorly led company:  In this situation, we may simply be going to work in order to get the paycheck – but the building stress generally causes us to eventually believe that no amount of money is sufficient to keep us.  But until we find another employer, our stress levels build from the cognitive dissonance between what we believe is right and the environment that thwarts our good intentions.
  • We believe in the purpose and mission of the organization:  There is a greater tendency to commit more of ourselves to the job – in other words, the organizational vision is aligned with our personal values so we believe that our work has a meaning beyond a paycheck.

These are just a few examples of reasons why some of my clients have “gone to work” – as well as some reasons why they left their employers.

Understanding why you, your colleagues, or subordinates come to work each day provides a profound insight into the best ways to motivate and lead them to their fullest potential.  And when employees excel in their jobs, then the company overall reaps the rewards of higher productivity, better customer service, and greater employee commitment and loyalty.

Puleo’s Pointers:  Understanding the Reasons Why We Work 

As a career consultant for many years, I have often been surprised when I’ve asked clients about their career histories:  why they are in their current field, what they want to accomplish, and what they are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve their goals.

Their responses have often surprised me – primarily because many individuals (whether in entry-level or senior positions) often don’t have clear-cut answers to these questions.  They were quite capable of explaining their career history in terms of projects or events.  They could easily express aspirations about their futures in their fields.  But they were often stopped short when trying to identify what they were willing to sacrifice in order to reach those goals.

Once we understand the sacrifices necessary to achieve future goals, we get a better understanding of why we are working in the first place.

For example, let’s say that you aspire to a senior level position entailing extensive travel and long work hours BUT your reason for working is to provide a better life for your family.  The key is to understand specifically what “a better life” means to you:

  • If “a better life” solely means providing material comfort for your family, then you’ll probably do well in this type of position.
  • However, if “a better life” means spending quality time (i.e., fully present and engaged) with your family, then the demands of this job contradict your real reasons for working.
  • When the demands of your job contradict your real reasons for working, then stress and burnout are the likely results.

Finding a job and career that reflect your personal goals and values is critical in creating the life that you want – your job then becomes a powerful reflection of who you really are.  Unfortunately, far too many people are in jobs that frustrate, anger, or even demoralize them.  The only reason that they “go to work” is because they “have to” (usually for financial reasons).

A recent study revealed that 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs even though we spend an average of 90,000 hours “at work” during our lifetimes – that’s a lot of hours that cannot be replaced.  To avoid being part of this unhappy 80%, take the time to fully understand what you expect from a job and what you are willing to sacrifice in return:

  • Do the hours you spend at work reflect your own personal goals and ambitions – or is it time spent doing something that you hate in an uncomfortable environment?
  • Is work a “means to an end” – and is it really contributing to your desired end goal?
  • Finally, does your work make you feel good and proud at the end of the day?  If not, maybe it’s time to reflect on why you’re working in this particular job, in this particular company, and in this particular way – know when it’s time to move on.

Understanding and acting upon our answer as to why we go to work is fundamental to avoiding burnout.  Not only are we better able to create a new, more productive, and satisfying way to work, but also a richer, more enjoyable, and more fulfilling life as a whole.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout:  Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

Paradigm Shifter #54: Luck = Preparation + Opportunity

Paradigm Shift

Many people believe that Friday the 13th is unlucky.  But if this one date is unlucky, then are all the other dates in the year “lucky?”

Believing that every day has the potential to be lucky is a true paradigm shift.

But what exactly is “luck?”  Are some people “luckier” than others – or, conversely, are some people cursed with “bad luck?”

One of the most powerful insights that I ever experienced was the realization that we can control the amount of “luck” in our lives.

“Luck” magically occurs when preparation meets opportunity.

Think about this 2-step formula for luck:

  • Preparation relates to the internal work – the consistent planning, action, and practice.  These activities need to be completed even if the goal that we’re seeking might appear to exist on some far off horizon.  Baby steps are still steps toward the ultimate goal.
  • Opportunity relates to the external work – meeting others, establishing visibility, and being curious about our environment.  Opportunity tends to “magically” appear when we take our preparation out into the world.

Luck requires both preparation and opportunity.

  • Preparation without opportunity indicates that we’ve ignored the environment in which we all exist.  “No man is an island,” so it is critical that we harness the courage to take our gifts and talents out into the world.
  • Conversely, situations will never be viewed as opportunities unless we’re adequately prepared to take advantage of them – now!  Being ill prepared delays how quickly we can pounce on both expected and unanticipated opportunities.

But what exactly is an opportunity?  According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, an opportunity is “a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal.”

Even if the condition is right, we won’t succeed unless we are prepared to take advantage of it.  In fact, acting on an opportunity when we are not prepared often leads to failure – the results of which may be either short-term or long-lasting.

I personally know how frustrating it can be to commit yourself to take the necessary actions that will prepare you to move forward – but the opportunities just don’t seem to arise.  This is especially seen in small businesses as well as job candidates – situations in which both are looking for that “break” in order to get what is desired.

In this type of situation, we can sow the seeds for future “luck” by focusing on creating new opportunities for ourselves:

  • When you’re really good at something, don’t be afraid to let others know what you can do – not just what you want to do, but also what you can do to meet their needs or resolve their problems.
  • Don’t be a recluse and hibernate!  Actively reach out to meet new people who have similar interests; this creates a common platform from which conversations about joining forces often emerge.  Social media, online groups, and live networking events can be a great start.
  • Don’t forget to make sure that your friends and loved ones are also aware of what you want to accomplish.  Far too often, those closest to us really don’t know what we are trying to accomplish – tell them!
  • Don’t limit your vision.  Sometimes the opportunities might not be geographically around the corner; in fact, the Internet and social media have expanded the potential for opportunities on a global scale.  Always practice due diligence, but don’t be afraid to reach out.

“Luck” is not the result of some mystical force that is outside of our reach.  Rather, it is the ultimate result of internal preparation meeting external opportunities.  Shifting our view to this simple equation lessens the possibility of feeling like a “victim” and instead emboldens us to proactively move forward to what we really want.

P.S.:  For some strange reason as we embrace the power of preparation plus opportunity, the number of unforeseen “lucky” circumstances seems to drastically increase.  The question is, are we prepared to take advantage of them?

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout:  Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

What Is Burnout? (Webinar presented by Dr. Geri Puleo)

Burnout is like pornography:  most people know it when they see it…but might have a difficult time describing exactly what it is.

Since first identified by Freudenberger around 1980, the experience of burnout has led to a variety of definitions — and the debate in academic research still continues.  This “mini-webinar” (approximately 6 minutes long) introduces 3 different definitions of burnout:  as a 12-stage process, as the result of 3 components, and as a journey.

Watch for the next webinar in this series, Profile of a Burned Out Worker:  The 10 Warning Signs of Burnout, on Wednesday, March 18.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout:  Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

The Paradox of Change and Stability

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We humans are funny animals.  We all want to move forward and grow…yet we don’t want to let go of the past or our current reality.

Ideally, we want to move to a new place…but not leave the old one.  And we tend to be impatient to get our results…but resistant to make the necessary changes.

Alas, as we all know, we can’t move forward without letting go of something from the past.

Change Without Stability

Research has repeatedly shown that changing everything at once inevitably leads to failure.  At worst, we’ve let go of the security of the status quo but haven’t yet created something new to replace it.  Unfortunately, this is the failing strategy that many companies use to introduce transformational change in the workplace.

Change requires embracing the paradox that the changes must coexist with a certain level of stability.  While letting go of the things that need to be changed, the core values must be kept intact.  This paradox reflects the very human need for growth with the equally important need for security.

Trying to change everything at once creates chaos, confusion, resistance, and (ultimately) failure.  Trust is destroyed between the change leaders and the change targets.  Resistance to new ideas becomes rampant.  Star performers leave for more supportive and less stressful cultures.  Future change is nearly impossible.

While change can be exciting and fuel growth, humans need to feel a certain level of security that some things can still be relied upon.  We require a map for the change journey, an action plan that propels us forward to a worthy goal or outcome and reinforces those policies, processes, procedures, relationships, and values that have been the foundation for past successes.

Chaos ensues when care has not been taken to analyze what has worked in the past – which is what should be retained as we move forward – as well as what no longer works and needs to be changed.  Planning also requires a solid understanding of why something no longer works so that iterations of that issue can be avoided as we move forward.

Knowing where we’re going requires knowing where we’ve been, where we are, and why we have chosen the new goal or destination.

Stability Without Change

Steadfastly relying on what worked in the past simply because it worked in the past is equally likely to lead to failure.  The modern workplace, global market, and changing buying patterns of customers (both B2C and B2B) necessitate change in the way we “do business.”

Many companies are slow to introduce change in the workplace.  Sometimes it’s due to fear that the changes won’t be accepted.  Sometimes it’s because senior leaders don’t have a solid understanding of how to effectively plan, implement, and evaluate a change initiative.  Still other times it’s due to arrogance or disbelief that the world in which the business operates has radically changed.

Flexibility and adaptability are critical capabilities for both survival and growth.  Merely surviving is the equivalent of standing still – but science has taught us that nothing ever stands still.  We are either moving forward or moving backward.  It is impossible to do things in the exact same way in the exact same place and in the exact same environment.

The visionaries within the company often are ignored and ridiculed when they provide information or trends that undermine the current way in which the company conducts its business.  But when the company finally acknowledges these warnings, these visionaries are usually long gone from the company – and are often working for their competitors.

Puleo’s Pointers:  Stability That Embraces Change

The most agile companies generally are based on a strong foundation of core values that direct their strategies, projects, and opportunities.  Their products might change.  Their messaging might change.  Their distribution channels might change.  But their brand (if solid) remains the same or even expands in its scope and depth.

Having a core foundation of values that resonate with the very human needs of the workforce (e.g., respect, integrity, commitment to excellence) will unleash the creativity and innovation of the workforce in moving forward.  These values provide the critical sense of security and stability that frees us to let go and move forward.

In other words, change is viewed as an evolutionary expansion of what is good in both the company and its people.  It is no longer something to be feared, but rather something to be enjoyed and embraced.

While it may seem to be counterintuitive, companies are better able to completely transform themselves when they move forward from a foundation of stability rather than jumping head first into the unknown.

The fundamental need for change/growth and stability/security is hardwired into humans.  It’s about time that change leaders acknowledge this reality so that their companies can adapt to a constantly changing world without demoralizing and burning out their workers.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout:  Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, keynote speaker, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” in her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI.  For more tips and ideas, please subscribe to her weekly “Success @ Work” eNewsletter at https://drgeripuleo.lpages.co/success-work-opt-in-page.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

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