We are not actually going to talk about pens today. What we really wanted touch on, is the importance of written communication. Although the majority of what you write escapes out of your fingers through your keyboard, The Triumph of Typing didn’t seem to quite hit the topic with the same punch as The Power of the Pen.
Long Live The Written Word
Once you’re out of school you might be inclined to think it’s okay to leave your writing skills behind with all the text books you either packed up to never look at again, or left in the last room you had occasion to open them. Not so. Good writing is an indicator of good thinking and will set you apart from average thinkers (and no thinkers). Don’t worry, we are not talking about good writing as in – I just completed my first novel! Or What rhymes with orange? We are talking about well thought out, easy to understand, comprehensive writing.
Organizing Your Thoughts
The difference between writing out your thoughts and speaking them (aside from you hear one and see the other) is often time. Sure you can scribble something down nearly as quickly as you can blurt it out, but if you’re trying to make yourself understood you’ll probably take a lot more time to write it out. The process of writing slows you down, it makes you think about what you’re trying to say. Re-reading what you wrote, you often change the order, expand on some parts and cut back on others.
Listen To Your Editor
The key to good writing is to keep it to the point and simple. Longer doesn’t mean better, it usually just means the writer didn’t take the time to edit out what was unnecessary – like repeated thoughts and sentences. Repeating something doesn’t make your point stronger, often it only results in that oh-so-important point getting diluted in the ocean of words.
By planning out your words through the slowed down, organizing process of writing and then listening to your editor you are far less likely to come away from the communication with the dreaded I wish I didn’t say that. Or, If only I’d thought to say this. You’ve had time to edit out what you didn’t want to say and add in what you did want to say.
Good written communication is less ambiguous than spoken communication. It gives you the opportunity to express exactly what you need to express. Access your power. Pick up that pen. Or hit that keyboard.
When people start on a new venture they often scan the long road ahead and wonder if there’s a way of getting to their destination a little faster. So they spend time searching for shortcuts to that destination.
Some people find the answer quickly, others take longer, but eventually everybody comes to the same conclusion. The shortcut to success is hard work. Work hard at learning everything you need to know about what you’re doing or what you want to do.
No magic bullet
If you’re not expecting to somehow run into the magic bullet for success you won’t waste time searching for it. You will spend your time wisely, working diligently on one thing to the next. You will set goals and work toward them, one at a time.
Hard work is a state of mind
As much as anything, hard work is a state of mind. It’s the decision to put all your efforts and dedication into what you’re doing instead of wasting time searching for an easier way. In the words of the great coach John Wooden, “Success travels in the company of hard work. There is no trick, no easy way.”
Work hard. Fail or succeed at each task before you, learn from it and move on to the next thing. That is how you will find success. Hard work will inspire you to search out people who can help with advice or suggestions.
With the right mindset hard work doesn’t feel hard at all
Each accomplishment takes you closer to that destination you’re heading for. That sense of accomplishment inspires you to keep going and keep working. With the right mindset, hard work doesn’t seem hard at all. It feels like the shortcut you’re looking for!
How do your favorite people treat you?
Think about your favorite teacher in school. If you’ve had a boss you really enjoyed, think about them for a moment. Do you remember what you liked about them? Were they kind, or friendly? Did they treat you as not just a student or employee but someone who could be trusted and shared with? Did they treat you as you could be, rather than what you were? Was your potential cultivated?
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey points out how one person can have a tremendous effect on others. Most of us have been in a position where we felt like we didn’t have much wiggle room in our work or assignments. For the most part our teachers have treated us like students. This doesn’t sound so bad, they’re there to teach. But what if, instead of treating you like a student or an employee, your teacher or boss treated you like someone who could run the company some day?
That could be by offering you more responsibility and bigger tasks. Tasks that you can handle and excel at, that will enable you to grow your role. You’ll feel more respected and important, and in turn you’ll start acting with more confidence in your work.
This isn’t just for people who have others working under them either. You can do this for your coworkers as well. Treat your coworkers as people who can both help you and bring new ideas to the table, rather than just people you work with. You may find that they’ll go out of their way to help you in the future.
Feel like your days could run a little smoother? Here are four easy things you can do to improve each day.
1. Wake up early
Why would you want to wake up early when your bed is so comfortable and inviting and you don’t actually have to get out of it yet? The reason you want to get up earlier than you have to is to give yourself some mental space to think about what you want to do with the day. To plan and to simply breath without worrying about whatever has to be done next. You’re early, you have time to set your mind and spirit for the day.
2. Work harder than you did the day before
Imagine how much you could accomplish if every day you made a point of working harder than you did the day before. If you gave each day 100% of your attention and focus. If you managed to find a little bit more energy than you thought you had.
We exercise to get stronger to look better and feel good about ourselves, but do you realize exercise is as important for the mind as for the bod. Exercise helps clear negative emotions, it helps us feel more alert and it’s energizing. You may not be able to do a full workout everyday but you can certainly go out for a walk. Don’t sit around for long stretches of time. Insert breaks into your day to move.
During your downtime after working harder than you did the day before, all you may want to do is flake out in front of the TV and rest. Rest is great, but some rest is better than others. Although from the outside, reading and watching TV look pretty similar, TV is passive. You are sitting there while things pass by. Reading (whether for pleasure or learning) is active. Your mind and your imagination are engaged. It’s exercise for the brain.
These are simple suggestions, but by incorporating them into your life each day and guaranteed your days will run smoother.
Rejection sucks. When someone turns their back on you, whether it’s a boss, friend, client or otherwise, it’s always tough to take. Usually you start by asking, what did I do wrong? Why am I not good enough? Rejection happens to everyone. Ask any writer and they’ll tell you how often their work was rejected before finally making it. The trick with rejection is learning from it and growing from it.
Take Some Time
If you’ve fallen off the horse, you don’t have to get back on it right away. Take some time to sort your feelings out. Rejection hurts, and you don’t have to pretend it doesn’t. Give yourself the space to feel crappy about it. However as with all things, moderation is key. So go ahead and feel crappy for a while but don’t use it as an excuse to spend days and days wallowing in ice cream, cheetos and terrible TV.
Talk it Out
A common emotion to feel following rejection is shame. We feel like a failure and that’s not something we want to air out. Keeping all your feelings bottled up will do more harm than good. Find someone you care about and trust to share with. Tell them what has happened. You’ll feel better instantly and your friend may even be able to give you some helpful advice.
Understand Why It Happened
When someone rejects us or our ideas, we tend to think that we’re the problem, that we’re not good enough or smart enough. In truth, rejection often has as more to do with the other person. There are lots of reasons that could have led to us being rejected; from timing to the other person’s own insecurities. The best thing you can do is look at the situation and find ways to improve. Maybe there was a typo in your resume, maybe your idea needs to be tweaked.
Once you’ve taken some time, talked it out and figured out why it happened, use that knowledge to work harder. This isn’t a call for revenge, but rather a call to take failings and make them work for you. Use the rejection as fuel to achieve even though others thought you couldn’t. One day, looking back, you may even be thankful that it happened.
What motivates people to do their best? Financial rewards? Yes people will work hard for financial rewards? Prestige? Yes again, an advanced position or impressive job title in recognition of a job well done with are certainly going to encourage individuals to work hard. As motivating as money and job titles are, those might not always be in the cards for every boss and every employee, but it doesn’t matter because great leaders know one of the most motivating things they can do for their team is also the one they have the most control over. They have learned to be great communicators.
If you want people to do a great job for you, you need to make sure they know exactly what you expect of them. Tell them when they’re on track and when things need to be improved and how. They need to feel like they make a difference, like they’re not just another cog in a rolling corporate wheel.
Help them feel good about themselves
People will work well if they feel good about themselves and what they’re doing. Great communicators give people reasons to feel good about themselves. They say things like, “I have total confidence in you.”
They give people an opportunity to shine, to use their natural talents and strengths to accomplish something, and those people invariably rise to the task.
Acknowledge a job well done
Leaders expect their people to do a good job. That’s why they brought them on. Even so, people always do better when their efforts are acknowledged. When they feel like what they’re doing matters. Great communicators are not stingy with praise. They let their people know exactly how they’re doing.
They also know acknowledgement is a two way street. A job poorly done is also acknowledged. Leaders that engender the greatest respect don’t simply complain about a job that wasn’t well done. They discuss the situation with the team member. They’ll ask, “What went wrong? How can we improve next time?”
A person that is included in the process this way also feels acknowledged and will always do their best to improve and gain the approval of the boss who treats them with so much respect and consideration.
Share the vision
People will work better when they see the big picture. The big picture gives the group a common goal to strive for. It keeps people on track and motivated. Great communicators always ask, “Do you have any questions?” keeping the lines of communication always open.
You got the interview and it’s going well but the questions have come around to difficult or negative situations. For example, they might ask you to describe a negative situation or person you had to deal with in the past.
Keep the soap opera out of it
The employer is asking about difficult situations or people to see how you handle yourself professionally in those situations. They don’t want a long drawn out discussion about the impossible person you had to deal with or all the rotten things that happened in association with the situation.
Essentially, they’re looking for the positives buried in the negatives. That means if there are no positives do not use that example! Instead find one where because of your hard work or problem solving or negotiating skills a negative was turned into a positive.
Don’t try and skirt the issue
Some people try to find a work around for the question by saying they have never dealt with a negative situation or person. Well no one is going to believe that. Every one of us runs into negatives all the time. If not professionally then personally or on the bus or in a grocery store. If you have been asked a question then find a way to answer it.
Before your job interview anticipate this question and come up with a few situations in which you can demonstrate your ability at turning negatives into positives. Describe the situation and the steps you took to resolve it. Remember to highlight your great contributions!
Don’t speak badly about your last employer
Even if your last work situation was hell on earth with an impossible to please boss and co-workers that made the thought of coming to work less palatable than the idea of skinny dipping with sharks don’t dwell on the negatives. You probably learned something from the experience. Touch on that quickly then end the discussion with it didn’t work out or we had different expectations. Something brief. Then talk about how excited you are at the prospect of new challenges and move the conversation back to the positives.