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The Epitome Of A Doomed Society Lies In A Web Of Convenience

The Epitome Of A Doomed Society Lies In A Web Of Convenience

Let’s be honest — we’ve become accustomed to the ease we find in our lives nowadays.

We find it in the drive-thru lane of our local fast food restaurant as we hurry to get home, only to grab the kids and hustle them off to their activities. Eating in the car instead of at the dining room table becomes the norm.

The latest in technology takes the worry out of forgetting anything and makes that part of our lives obsolete. Even the latest gadgetry in the newest refrigerator commercial tells us about “what’s in the fridge,” where we are told exactly what’s there in order to ensure that we don’t grab more milk and eggs when we don’t need them.

These are just a few examples, but the list is endless.

If you look at your typical day, how many tasks are aided by convenience? We all have things like smartphones, WiFi, and GPS now at our fingertips — no matter where we are in the world.

I love those same conveniences. But have we allowed ourselves to rely so much on these easy ways that by doing so we are hindering our own ability to deal with life as it comes?

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Have we forgotten what it was like not too long ago for previous generations whose greatest conveniences included milk delivered daily? Back then, the best way we heard about what was going on around us and around the world was on the nightly news program.

As I look at the faces of our children, who’ve had their own tablets and headphones since before they were four years old, I wonder if having these modern-day conveniences actually does more harm than good in the long run.

For example, are these conveniences adding more problems in other areas, like obesity? Are our children learning nothing about how to prepare for life as it will be, not as we wish it would be? Are there lessons they should be learning now that we are neglecting to teach them? Is doing so a disservice to them and setting them up for a failure that is destined to find them?

Has our level of “laziness” increased due to our willingness to pay for just about anything, as long as we have to exert the least amount of effort to effectively still get what we want? Does assigning blame for this new entanglement actually change anything, and whose responsibility is it to actually do something about it?

And my biggest question of all: am I the only one who sees this as a problem in our society?

Why hasn’t anyone else raised their own eyebrow to not just start the conversation but seek to find a solution?

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Here is my take on this issue:

Convenience is meant to make things a little easier, but we have taken it too far. We have allowed ourselves and our children to not just grab hold of the things that make our lives easier, but have built our lives around those conveniences.

Our addiction to effortless attention and the sense of entitlement the majority of society seems to carry with them throughout their lives is hindering the real progress we need to have to sustain our most valued morals and ethical behavior.

Now, don’t get me wrong — running through the drive thru will not undermine everything we have in one night. But look at what’s happened just in your own family: do you sit together at the dinner table and share a meal, or is everyone headed in different directions to the extent that even texting one another while in the same house has become normal?

None of us has the ability to change the world, but we can each impact our part of the world as we once again take ownership of what we value. Nothing in this life ever comes easy, and although technology has made advancements in improving our lives for the better, it is still our responsibility to use those technological advances in the best way possible instead of requiring them to do everything for us. Growing up, I remember watching The Jetsons and thinking that we were so far away from that kind of living. But now, I’m not so sure.

Where do we go from here? How do we fix this epidemic and create a different outcome?

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Here are a few ideas. Feel free to add your own.

Challenge yourself.

Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. In fact, some of the most important things come from the hardest moments. Don’t always take the easy road. In turn, you teach yourself more than you know and you also inspire others around you.

Don’t complain.

Life is tough and there are going to be some things we just cannot undo or fix. Figure out a way to make the best of your situation and even if the result is not ideal, your attitude will remind you what is really important.

Go back to the basics.

When something is done for us, we forget how to do simple things, like tie our shoes. Progress and innovation can inhibit our willingness to do even the simplest of tasks just because we don’t have to anymore.

Determine your priorities.

If a family dinner once a week matters to you, then make the time to include it as a part of your schedule. Don’t allow yourself (or others) to make excuses just because it is easy to do. If there is a conflict, reschedule. Never cancel.

Appreciate your loved ones.

It’s easy to take people for granted (we all do it from time to time) and yet should something happen, we would do anything for a few simple moments together. Talk to one another instead of sending texts or emojis. Nothing warms the heart and creates a moment more than a few shared words with the people you love most.

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Keep your values, morals, and ethics intact.

Nowadays, it is easy to get caught up in superficial things like title and status. Regardless of how far you climb that ladder at work or how many privileges are afforded to you, remember what got you there to begin with and mentor others when given the chance. Never forget who you are by allowing a few dollars thrown your way to change the kind of legacy you want to leave behind.

Follow through with your intentions.

Too often, people over-commit and then don’t want to face the realization that they will need to disappoint someone by choosing one thing over another. Say “yes” only to the things and people who you truly want to give your effort and time to — don’t cheat others with a half-assed performance because it’s convenient. Either be all in or get out.

Step away from the devices.

Don’t bring them to the dinner table, leave them inside while you relax by the pool, and allow the calls to go to voice mail. “Getting off the grid” is easier than we think it is — we just have to give ourselves permission to do it. If we don’t have WiFi at our fingertips at every second of every single day, that would still not be the worst day ever. Be conscious with your choice to turn it off at night, when out with friends, or spending time with your significant other. It is noticed more than you think it is, no matter who is around you.

Play.

Have fun. Remember what it was like to be a kid and do things that most of us have forgotten to do: run in the sprinklers, jump on a swing, blow bubbles. Laugh out loud, smile more, giggle. Shoot hoops and ride bikes. Color with sidewalk chalk or crayons. Dance and sing when your “jam” comes on. Adding fun things like these to your week increases your happiness and naturally gives you more energy when you have to do “grown-up” stuff.

Try new things.

We get into ruts very easily and neglect our human curiosity about being an adventurer of what else is out there. Get excited about starting a new part of your story with an exploration of sorts that includes going outside your comfort zone or just learning something new. You may not fall in love with this new thing right away, but maybe it will point you towards something that expands your horizons in ways you never imagined.

Our lives can be changed, but only if we decide to change them. This kind of change will intimidate some and inspire others. You know which side of the fence you sit on and what you do next determines if you choose to stay trapped or you decide to live more intently.

We don’t have to live this way. We can still fix this. Ultimately, that choice is yours as much as it is mine. The big question isn’t so much about your choice, but how committed you are to it. That’s what counts. The time to start is now.

Featured photo credit: Michael Podger/Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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Last Updated on July 24, 2019

What Makes a Good Leader? 10 Essential Leadership Qualities

What Makes a Good Leader? 10 Essential Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge. High-ranking people – your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

Good leadership is about acquiring and honing skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or at the workplace.

The following is a list of characteristics of a leader who successfully leads a great team:

1. Stay Positive, Even in the Worst Situations

Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

Even some simple things like providing cupcakes or beers on Fridays can make the world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

Even in the worst situations such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figure out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

Walt Disney (1901-1966), had his share of hardships and challenges; and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse.

    Lesson Learned:

    Break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

    Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down — Because sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

    2. Exhibit Confidence Everywhere

    All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

    Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high and the problem will be solved more quickly.

    If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go down hill from there.

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    Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

      Lesson Learned:

      You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

      • List 10 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll be more confident about yourself.
      • Work on your strengths, do your best to enhance them.

      3. Have a Sense of Humor

      It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

      Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off, because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

      Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the work place.

      As president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes”,[1] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[2] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest – no doubt that helped during some tense moments in the White House!

        Lesson Learned:

        Laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

        Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspirations from the internet.

        4. Embrace Failures and Manage Set Backs

        No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

        Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear and binge-drinking under desks.

        Great leaders do in fact lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

        Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

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          Lesson Learned:

          Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

          To do this, use the 5 Whys problem solving framework.

          By asking “why” for 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

          You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

          5. Listen, and Give Feedback

          This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

          The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

          The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

            Lesson Learned:

            Encourage communication between team members and establishing an open door policy.

            Practice not to interrupt team members when they’re talking.

            Summarize what they say and ask for feedback every time after you have talked about your ideas.

            6. Know How and When to Delegate

            No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

            Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

            Although Steve Jobs is known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members – like Tim Cook – Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even while he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

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              Lesson Learned:

              To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

              • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses and personalities.
              • Talk with your team members more too to know more about their passion and interests.

              Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

              7. Inspire and Grow People Around

              Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

              Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

              Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk drew attention, because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

                Lesson Learned:

                Spend time to talk with other team members individually to understand them.

                Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

                8. Take Responsibility and Never Blame Others

                Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

                The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

                Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind.[3] This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

                  Lesson Learned:

                  Ask yourself what you could have done better to prevent this from happening.

                  Take the responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

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                  9. Make Decisions Based on Lessons Learned in the Past

                  It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career (figuratively, of course). Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

                  Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

                  You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories, or search from your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

                  Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake.[4] From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely – and it shows.

                    Lesson Learned:

                    Write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made.

                    Have all the lessons well organized and  when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

                    10. Lead by Example and Commit to Do the Best

                    Great leaders stick to their commitments and promises, and they are the most committed and hard working ones on the job. All great leaders lead by example.

                    Why should your staff and team members give it their all if you don’t bother to? By proving your own commitment, great leaders will inspire others to do the same, as well as earn their respect and instill a good work ethic.

                    After 15 years of house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi was voted state counsellor in Myanmar – one of the highest-profile and most powerful positions in the country. She became a symbol of peaceful resistance when she attempted to bring democracy to her country.[5] In the early years of her detention, she was often in solitary confinement. Suu Kyi is a perfect example of committed and belief-driven leadership, which she openly demonstrated during her many years of house arrest.

                      Lesson Learned:

                      Some people learn by observing the way you perform a task, some need more detailed guidelines.

                      So dedicate time to demonstrate your work to team members, let them observe how you do it. Summarize the skills you use and let team members know how you make difficult things work.

                      The Bottom Line

                      Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader too.

                      Make small changes your habits when you work with your team – wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs.

                      But we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

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                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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