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3 Things Successful Leaders Keep In Mind Even When Things Go Wrong

3 Things Successful Leaders Keep In Mind Even When Things Go Wrong

Nobody has a Midas touch. Even successful leaders and great teams have bad days. That is just the way it works. Sometimes things go wrong because of unforeseeable circumstances and sometimes things happen because someone in the team made a mistake.

Whatever the reason, the extent of the negative impact caused by such bad times is heavily influenced by how the leaders reacts to what happened. Successful leaders know that their team members places a lot of importance on what they say during testing times. They also know that team members place an even higher level of importance on how leaders say what they say – their body language, level of stress, tone of voice and other subtle cues mean a lot.

Here are three things successful leaders keep in mind during such situations:

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1. Successful leaders know they have to bring calm and confidence

When things go wrong, not everyone reacts the same. Those that lose their calm or those that panic can set a bad precedent for those that are on the edge. When issues are left unaddressed, a team can tend to focus on the negative – so much so, that the project comes to a standstill.

Successful leaders arrest the slide quickly by bringing calm and confidence to the team.

With their experience, they can make a quick impact analysis of the damage. Since they have the trust of team members with influence, they bring the group together and get their buy-in on the next immediate steps. Once the core team members are calm and confident the rest of the team follows suit.

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For more information about presenting a calm and confident manner, see this article.

2. Successful leaders know to shift the focus on what’s next

When things go wrong, spending an unreasonable amount of time on forensic analysis is time unproductively spent- the team could be focused on recovering from the problem. Every minute counts. Good leaders know that if they let things get out of hand, they will turn the issue into a bigger crisis as projects that depended on the current problematic project being completed start to slip.

Successful leaders know that the right thing to do is to focus on what to do next, using whatever resources are available at their disposal.

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Analysis needs to be done in parallel with this action, or postponed to a time after the current project is back on track.

3. Successful leaders bring their learning from these experiences to future projects

Failures, crises, mishaps and other such events, teach a lot of lessons. Leaders know that it’s easy to blame someone or something else and move on. That would be a colossal waste, of course. Successful leaders reflect on what happened, what lessons are to be learned from what happened and how not to repeat the same mistakes next time around.

Even when things went wrong due to things outside of their control, they think about how to factor in such risks and account for them in their planning for future projects.

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Bonus Item:

4. Successful leaders remember to refine their assumptions next time around

One of the major below-the-surface reasons for things going wrong is the presence of faulty assumptions to start with. Either the leader or an influential team member made one or more assumptions that didn’t turn out the way they wished.

When things go wrong, successful leaders go back to the drawing board and think about what assumptions were made and why they turned out to be faulty. Revisiting the assumptions will help them to refine their judgments when they are working on future projects.

Remember:

A rising tide lifts every boat. When things are going well, even mediocre leaders can come across as rock stars.  When things go wrong, every leader gets tested and the successful leaders stand out from the pack based on how they react and get their teams back on track.

Featured photo credit: Steve Wilson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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