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Welcome to the Ten Dot Spot - Our Blog!

Saturday
Sep152012

Execution - Portraits of Possibility

Have trouble with procrastination from time to time? Some of us put things off by telling ourselves that we’ll get to whatever we need to get to … some other time. That evasive tomorrow, when we’ve finally answered all of our email messages and Facebook notifications, and the kids have gone to bed early, and that long overdue chat with a friend actually took a minute … there’s no doubt we’re busy, with lots of competing priorities vying for our time and attention.

Yet, in spite of how fast we’re running, we often find our list of must do’s growing longer as we end our days feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and drained of every ounce of energy we had. How can we overcome our tendency to put off what we need to get done? Where can we find the motivation and energy to stay ahead of the curve, and make some actual progress on the things that matter the most to us? How do we avoid the allure of “busy work” and actually tackle our “must do” priorities?

Daniel Pink, one of the most reknowned thought leaders today on motivation, shares his insights in this article on procrastination using a behavioural model based on three stages of human performance evolution. He suggests our operating systems of today need serious overhauling, with a move from an “if-then” motivation philosophy to a “now-what” approach more in step with today’s environments, and to make the most of people’s intrinsic desire to learn, to create, and to make the world a better place.

The folks at Mind Tools find value in acknowledging when we’re procrastinating so we figure out the reasons why, then take whatever steps are necessary to get past what’s slowing us down. See if you agree with their approach once you’ve read their article.

Ten Dot Performance Solutions suggests a five-step approach to help mitigate against procrastination by appealing to the sense of freedom, challenge, and purpose we all need to truly engage and get things done.

1. Know Our WHY - Routine tasks and must do’s won’t go away. The goal here is to reframe them within the context of a larger purpose so we derive more meaning from whatever individual and unique contributions we’re making, and have a better sense of serving something that is bigger and more enduring than ourselves.

2. Know Our WHO - Our research supports the notion of a “check-in” buddy, someone who knows what we’re attempting to accomplish by when, and who can provide motivation by making regular inquiries about our progress while offering up words of support and encouragement.

3. Know Our WHAT - One of the most common approaches for motivating task completion is the use of a workback schedule, where tasks are broken down into bite-size chunks, and the time taken to complete each action step are plotted on a scheduler starting from the deadline date and working backwards. This plotting of action steps helps us quantify what needs to be done, by when, so we allow ourselves adequate time to complete the task. This website (www.dailyidea.com) offers up several tips on staying motivated. Mind Tools offers Gantt and PERT chart templates, two other tools that can help with task planning.

4. Know Our HOW - By knowing what our strengths are, we can take advantage of our inherent talents and apply them in ways that make the best use of our knowledge and expertise while providing the intrinsic satisfaction of a job done well. Ten Dot recommends StrengthsFinders as one tool that helps uncover what we’re good at … channeling our energies this way makes the best use of the resources we have, and allows leaders to utilize the collective talents of their team members to achieve more efficient success.

5. Know Our WOO HOO - Any task stands a better chance of being completed if we can discover an element of fun that will help keep us engaged, interested, and motivated to go the distance. What if we played The Clearlight Orchestra on full volume while we vacuumed? Or the 2010 Olympic theme song, I Believe, at the start of our team meetings? Music provides a universal and welcome change of pace, and can set the tone for the task at hand each time a song is played. It’s also a wonderful trigger for reminding everyone of the level of engagement and commitment the team requires for achieving their goals that anyone can access. For the ultimate motivation, tune in to the 2012 London Olympics coverage showcasing the best from our athletes and friends around the globe. Beyond the athletes themselves, the examples of world-class leadership that an event of this magnitude provide is worth a look, as is the Difference Makers series hosted by Rick Hansen, where athletes tell their stories on how they came to be in London as a member of the Canadian Olympic team.

Are you or your team challenged with procrastination? Does your messaging about profits enabling purpose need a tweak to better engage your associates? Are you leveraging your strengths, and those of your colleagues, in a way that inspires commitment? Get in touch with us … we’d love to help you build a “Here And Now” mindset using our Purposeful Performance model and motivation strategies! Be mindful, stay curious, listen to “I Believe” at least once in the next 48 hours, and enjoy the high of living your why out loud!

Saturday
Sep152012

It's The Little Things!

Have you ever felt insignificant? Whether it’s your opinions being valued, your ideas considered, your emotions understood, your fears acknowledged, your contributions appreciated ... throughout our day-to-day, there can be moments when, like the tiniest cells in our universe, we feel invisible, inconsequential, and swallowed whole by the pace of life around us. It should be that it’s not so much the quantity, but the quality of our moments that matter most.

Can you recall a time when, at just the right moment, someone said or did something that made a positive difference to you, or someone you cared about? Perhaps it was a teacher who stuck a happy face sticker on your paper, or a coach who gave you a high five when you walked off the field, or a mentor who took the time to give you some constructive feedback. Or maybe it was a friend who didn’t say, or do anything, but instead offered up their company and silent acceptance. It’s not how many moments you have, but what you put in those moments ... making the smallest of things important, and meaningful, and universally possible to everyone with the intention to engage. Small things matter, in the metaphysical world and in our world, too ... the smallest acts of kindness, a hug or a touch of hands, actively listening, being present with the person (or animal, or place, or thought) you’re with, staying open to possibility, exploring curiosities, sharing quiet moments, being humble, giving thanks for what you have, living authentically, being mindful, living your passion out loud, spending time where it offers the most benefit ... the list goes on and on. It’s about the choices we make, in the everyday moments we have. Small ... mindful ... meaningful ... magnificent!

Here are five “little things” Ten Dot recommends to help you execute more effectively ...

1. Think First ... In the fast-paced world we live in, it’s hard to find a quiet moment to think with purpose, as well as intention, about what our life looks like, and whether we’re moving towards a more complete actualization of our ideal reality. And yet, this “Why/What/How” assessment helps us stay on track, spending our time and energy where they most need to be. Stephen Covey makes a great point about this need to remain self-aware ... “ We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it. Because of this, we must constantly examine our paradigms and seek self-awareness. We all need regular vision examinations. What have you recently re-examined? What did you discover?”

2. Think Small ... As my graduate professor would remind me, “Write anything. It doesn’t matter what, so long as you write something.” The concept, of course, was to take that necessary, and often the most difficult, first step through a singular act in order to spark interest and inspired energy to keep going. It’s about approaching tasks step-by-step, keeping things manageable and motivating. It’s the notion of progression, of making some kind of meaningful contribution, no matter how insignificant it may appear.

3. Think Local ... Start with the people you already touch, and the communities you already have investments in, to gain momentum and a taste of how simple, yet rewarding, your small acts have on the world around you. It’s the absolute best “high five” you can get, being part of a community effort that’s making the world a better place one mindful act at a time.

4. Think Impact ... When you start to ponder all the small act potential that you have available to you, it can be overwhelming to pick the ones you want to initially commit to. Again, think about your purpose (or your “why”, in Ten Dot language) for guidance, and what you have as priorities for the next while in the contexts you live in (whether personal, professional, volunteer, social, or something else). Focused effort moves you closer to living your purpose out loud no matter where you are, or what context you choose.

5. Think Yourself ... Begin at the beginning, and really get yourself comfortable with your why (Ten Dot can help with that!). Discover your unique strengths, and how you can apply them in ways that make a real difference. Know the value of your strengths, and take time to grow your own and others. Celebrate you, and the contributions you, and only you, make.

Do you know what “little things” motivate you, and your team? Do you celebrate progress in a strategic and instructional way? Do you hear from everyone you should? Let Ten Dot help you get better at the cultural drivers that transform small things into success. Be mindful, stay curious, do a little thing for someone you care about, and keep cool!

Saturday
Sep152012

Living with Intention & Without Regret

In a great interview, Jane Fonda talks about her decision late in life to live intentionally in order to avoid regret. She describes her journey, of finally finding the courage to be her true authentic self, and her realization that it was only at this moment – when she chose to speak her truth out loud for the very first time – that she began living her destiny, only this time from the inside out, imperfections and all. Her message is an important one for two reasons ... firstly, the notion of living authentically and the incredible impact that being true to oneself has on the quality of our life experiences; and secondly, the idea that it’s never too late to begin one’s journey toward a life that brings purpose and meaning to what we do and how we choose to spend our time.

How does one find their true purpose? Ten Dot has explored this topic on many occasions, and it’s the reason we suggest asking WHY as a first step. Why are we here, doing what we’re doing the way we’re doing it beside the people we’re doing it with? Does our answer resonate with where we’re putting our efforts? The clarity of our why tells us how we’re evolving, and helps us align our efforts behind the things that matter most to us going forward. It’s interesting that, as complete as most people perceived Ms. Fonda to be, she herself felt an extreme lack of confidence and self-worth for most of her adult life. It was only in her 60’s, when she spent mindful time with herself, her real self, that she recognized her own gifts, and was able to apply them in ways that brought joy and contentment to herself, and to the people around her. In other words, she rearranged her perceptions of her past, took a different perspective using her newfound wisdom, and embarked upon a different, more meaningful path that took advantage of her passions and abilities.

Ten Dot explored this approach of rewriting our past (referred to as “kaleidoscope thinking”) in our June sweet spot, and its potential to change the course of our future by re-interpreting our experiences. Like Ms. Fonda, we all have the ability to see the world in a different light by adjusting our mindset, and giving new consideration to “before” within the context of “right here, right now”. Only then can we determine where we need to go next.

What story do you hear inside your head? What is it saying about you and your current direction? Is how you’re living now going to get you to where you want to go? How? If not, what has to change? Here’s the real gift that Ms. Fonda and her message of intention gives us ... While most of us have some regrets, we also have the opportunity to do something about them. Through the power of reflection and intention, we can learn from our experiences, and find ways to avoid making the same mistakes going forward. We can make informed choices about how we’ll spend our time, and proceed with confidence knowing we’re exactly where we were intended to be. A daily dose of mindfulness is all it takes ... an opportunity to reflect upon our day, take note of where we are, and carry on ... more enlightened, and without regret for where we find ourselves.

Ten Dot’s Purposeful Performance Model and Team Health and Effectiveness Assessment Tool provide practical approaches for turning regrets into the very things that inspire future possibilities. We’d love to explore your WHY and get you closer to what’s possible ... give us a call! Stay curious, be mindful, spend some time inside out, and here’s to living a life without regrets!

Monday
Jun182012

Don't Like Your Future? Re-write Your Past!

“If you don’t like how things are going, tell a different story.” So begins Rossbeth Moss-Kanter’s recent blog on the opportunities we all have to create our desired future by rewriting our past. Described as “kaleidoscope thinking”, this ability to rearrange pieces from the past to create a new narrative allows for a shifting of focus, energy, commitment, and action, enabling the collective strengths of individuals and teams to exercise their agility chops and take advantage of current reality. Here’s a simple illustration of how this thinking approach works ... Two individuals (Polly and Ollie) have both experienced a recent run of bad luck. Polly’s narrative comes from a “glass-half-empty” perspective and, because she believes external forces are to blame for her predicament, she makes the choice to accept what she perceives as her inevitable fate. Ollie’s narrative comes from a “glass-half-full” vantage point, where he takes stock of his world and the opportunities for learning they present, then opts for a course of action that takes advantage of present conditions.Which narrative inhibits, and which narrative inspires? Who would you rather have as your leader? Mentor? Colleague? Life partner? For an even more compelling example of how narrative can shape the future in unimaginably incredible ways, take a look at HBR’s blog on the city of Boston, and a cool concept called Thank Bank where acts of kindness shared via social media influence a new cultural narrative where gratitude serves as the central theme. This is what narrative in action looks like! Ten Dot believes in the power of storytelling, and the opportunity we all have to rewrite our past in order to shape our desired future. If you think you’d like to try this approach on, here are five strategies you may want to explore ... 1. Practice the art of storytelling. Good leaders know that people remember stories more easily than they remember data. Good stories motivate individuals to take action, and provide the clarity and purpose that’s necessary for individuals and teams to course-correct on the fly. That’s why Ten Dot recommends the art of storytelling as one essential competency for individuals and leaders to acquire. 2. Mind your mindset. Like the person who chooses to view the world around them as “glass-half-empty” versus “glass-half-ful”, mindset sets the tone for the stories we tell, and their influence on ourselves and the individuals we rely on to help us achieve our aspirations. In the context of performance management, the story’s objective should be to gain the clarity, commitment, and inspired action of the individuals charged with achieving the objective. Change and transition is tough enough ... tell a compelling story, and help people rally behind it. 3. Embrace life as a sequel. The stories of life, whether business or personal, are ongoing. And that’s the beauty of kaleidoscope thinking ... by shifting our perspective on the past, we have the opportunity to rewrite the stories that haven’t been as value-adding as we had wanted or expected them to be. 4. Include narrative on your cultural metrics checklist. What are your employees saying about your organization? What are YOU saying? How has what’s being said changed? Go beyond the data that your employee opinion survey captures, and dig into the richness of the written comments. If you don’t like what you’re finding, take a look at the narrative themes, and develop strategies to address them. 5. Read “Culturematic” by Grant McCracken. According to Grant McCracken, a “culturematic” is a little machine for making culture, a new low-risk and expedient way for testing the world, discovering meaning, and unleashing value. Think Andy Sandberg of SNL fame and his “Digital Shorts” ... and if you’ve seen the “box” video Mr. Sandberg did with Justin Timberlake, you’ll have seen a culturematic in action! Is your future looking less than bright? Does your team need a motivation boost? Let Ten Dot help you write a new narrative, and realize your ideal future! Be mindful, stay curious, practice your storytelling skills, and live what’s possible!
Sunday
Jun032012

Gifts & Choices - June Sweet Spot

Many of you will have felt – or seen - the “high” that usually follows attendance at a conference, workshop, or seminar. Fresh surroundings, new and fascinating people, inspiring ideas and stories of success, an expanding perspective on what’s possible ... it’s no wonder people leave with intentions for making a meaningful, value-add contribution! So why doesn’t it happen? Why is it that everything can be set up for success, and still nothing changes? How can such purposeful intentions fail so miserably? And, more importantly, what can be done to help us keep the promises we make to ourselves and others over the long haul? There are few things more frustrating than seeing a team struggling to implement the strategies and new and better ways of doing things that were so thoughtfully incorporated into the workshop design and content for the benefit of the people who attend them. Recognizing real transition only hits the rubber once the session wraps up, there is a minimum expectation from all constituents that the investment made will spark the beginnings of a change process that ultimately leads to something better. And when that outcome doesn’t materialize, or is threatened, it’s worth emphasizing some of the key elements that facilitate value-add outcomes and promises being kept once the session ends. 1. Start With Why When we know the purpose behind what we are/do/say/think/feel/value, we have the opportunity to use the gifts we’ve been given to make our purpose come to life. Without purpose, there isn’t any meaning ... without any meaning, there isn’t any motivation. And without motivation, nothing changes. Simon Sinek uses his “golden circle” model to illustrate the impact of “why/how/what” thinking, and the benefits that come from starting with purpose – the “why are we here” – before defining how success will be achieved, and what it will look like. Take a look, and see if his ideas resonate with your perspective and approach to making things happen. We particularly like his comments about the value of a strong purpose during challenging times ... who couldn’t use a little extra meaning when the going gets tough? 2. Make The Commitment One strategy that Ten Dot recommends for keeping purpose and intention front-and-centre is the expression of “I Will” commitments. At the end of a workshop, make a note of three things you learned, and that you will commit yourself to, once you return to regular life. We would suggest tackling one commitment at a time, for thirty days, where you consciously and purposefully try on ways to bring your intention to life through the behaviours you adopt. Remember the reasons why you made these particular commitments, and trust your motivations, even if it’s just for a month ... we’re predicting your promises and why you made them will g ain more clarity as you experience success over time. 3. Recognize And Do The Work William Bridges talks about change being the easy part, and that the real work starts with the transition effort that follows. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, therefore, that commitments that require a change in behaviour are hard work, and take focused effort over a period of time before their value-add can be realized. Add the complexities of a group of people trying to make multiple transitions as a collective whole, and it becomes clear why these change efforts have the potential to fail. It’s critical to recognize, and own your own piece of, the incredible effort that will be necessary for transitions to actually happen. It takes empathy to support yourself, or another individual who may have broken a promise, and trust to believe a better effort will follow. Hold yourself and others accountable through the support and genuine interest you take in their success. And be sure to celebrate the work and the progress you make to maintain energy and motivation. 4. Set Yourself Up For Success Post your purpose and commitments so you see them every day, as often as possible, to maintain your energy, motivation, and focus on the things that matter the most to you. Small steps lead to real transformation, so pick one thing that’s relatively easy to do that gets you one step closer to living your intentions. Celebrate that one thing, and feel the energy that comes from actually doing something you intended to do. Do it again, and celebrate that, too, then when you’ve got your intention in a place that you can sustain, pick another intention and make it happen. And so on ... and so on ... and so on. We’re all going to spend our time ... it’s how we spend it that can make our “why” happen. Find ways to relive the experience that initially sparked the commitments you’ve made. Have you made contact with anyone you met that you found interesting? Did you read that book you bought from the keynote speaker? Did you find any more information about a topic that you found fascinating? Did you take any pictures, or are there any posted online? Was there a song that was played (perhaps John Lennon’s Imagine)? What about the culinary realm ... was something served that was unique? Is there an environment close by that reminds you of the place you were? Like revisiting your “I Will” statements, these cues have the potential to provide motivation when you need it most. 5. Recognize Mindset Still Rules “Our character is reflected not in the gifts we’re endowed with at birth, but by the choices we make over the course of a lifetime.” Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon As partners with our clients, Ten Dot strives to help our clients utilize their talents in order to realize the aspirations they have committed themselves to. We work with leaders who are highly motivated to apply the approaches we explore, and continue to be inspired by the individuals we encounter who all share a desire to make a positive difference. But here’s the thing ... In spite of the strategies, the knowledge and experiences gained, the strengths and talents discovered, the promises made, or the purpose clarified, the truth is nothing will change unless we alone make that choice. Bringing our purpose and intentions to life requires having a mindset which guides the decisions that we make, everyday, about how we’ll spend the time and energy we’ve been given. While our realities can be influenced by other people, and the situations we find ourselves in, we alone make the choice about whether we’ll keep our promises, or not. It may require our intentions to be realized in new and novel ways, and the effort may indeed be more than what we originally signed up for. We may be disappointed by our leaders, and find ourselves reacting to breaches that may have been unavoidable, but still hurt. But if we are truly committed to living the kind of life that matters the most to us, we believe we’ll make the right choices regardless of the obstacles. They may be painful choices, leading us to uncomfortable places. But we will know we made the right choices, because we alone have the power to decide why, what, how, and with whom we choose to spend our gift of time with. Are you struggling with a change and transition effort? Has your team lost its mojo, and desire to work together towards a common purpose? Would an energy boost help you and your colleagues recommit to what matters most? Ten Dot can help ... let us show you how! Be mindful, stay curious, celebrate your gifts, and set your mind for purposeful living!
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