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How Can You Get A Leopard To Change It’s Spots

How Can You Get A Leopard To Change It’s Spots

Imagine that you’ve just completed a project at work. Your supervisor tells you that you didn’t deliver things exactly the way he wants, and he asks you to redo the project.

For some people, this would be cause for a meltdown, but you take it in stride. You go back to your desk, digest what was just said,and assess the work you put into the project. Instead of having a pity party, you make a commitment to improve the quality of your work.

A colleague who was in the meeting where you presented stops by your desk and says, ” We can’t be good at everything. This task might be outside of your area of expertise. You should play to your strengths and let someone with more talent in this area handle these types of assignments. ”

Your colleague may have been trying to make you feel better, but she made you wonder, “How can I become better if I never try new things? Are all of our talents assigned to us from birth?”

There are two kinds of people in this world

    There are those who create the life they love, and those who feel that life happens to them. That seemingly small difference in perspective can have major impacts on the way that you live your life.[1]

    People who work to build the life that they want make choices to propel themselves forward. Those who let life happen to them assume a victim mentality that prevents them from getting ahead. Having the right mindset is the key to success.

    Thinking back to the scenario from the beginning, there are two ways you could view that feedback from the boss. If you have a growth mindset, you won’t take the feedback personally. You’ll use it to grow, and you’ll take the negative comments from your coworker with a grain of salt.

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    On the other hand, the colleague who seems to believe that some people are just more capable than others will have a harder time when facing criticism. That person is more likely to accept defeat, and feels that her destiny is out of her control. If given the same feedback, she would probably just throw in the towel.

    The difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset

    You may have intuitively picked up on the different types of people, but there’s actually some scholarship behind this as well. Carol S. Dweck developed mindset theory to explain how our perceptions about the world shape our reality.[2]

    Fixed mindsets can be detrimental to a person’s success

    A person with a fixed mindset avoids challenges, quits before they should, doesn’t think effort is valuable, and can’t take feedback.

    People with fixed mindsets can be successful, but they tend to reach their limits sooner than people with a growth mindset. They always fall short of their potential because they aren’t willing to go out on a limb. They’ll say and think things like, “I’ll never be that good,” or “I’m no good at that, so I’ll ask someone else to do it instead.” “I’ve never been able to do this, and nothing can make me better.”

    When someone with a fixed mindset is confronted with failure, they take it personally. They tie success so closely with their identity that it’s hard for them to hear constructive criticism. In their minds, “That could be better,” translates to, “You aren’t good enough.” They learn to be helpless, and it keeps them from achieving.[3]

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          Some think you’re born with it, and some know you work hard

          One of the key tenets of Dweck’s theory is that some people believe that they have inborn talents, while others know that you grow your skills.

          People with a growth mindset feel just the opposite. They know that they are always capable of learning new things. When you have a growth mindset, you don’t worry so much about failure because you know that making mistakes is a part of learning. You know that you can always change course or get more training.

          This is not to say that people with a growth mindset can’t feel the sting of failure. It just means that the failure doesn’t ultimately define them.

          Your experience shapes your mindset

          The development of fixed and growth mindsets starts at a young age. When a teacher says to a child, “You did well because you’re smart,” the child cannot own their success. It was not their effort, but their innate ability that got them ahead. This leads to a fixed mindset.[4]

          On the other hand, when a teacher says to a student, “You did so well on your project because you tried hard,” it has a different effect. The student attributes success to the amount of effort that they put into their work.

          How people with fixed mindsets can affect you?

          Being surrounded by the negativity of a fixed mindset can take its toll on you. You may have noticed one or more of these signs of a fixed mindset in your day-to-day interactions with others.

            When people believe that they just are the way they are, it makes them risk-averse. They avoid challenges because the cost of failure is too high.

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              People with fixed mindsets tend to be jealous when others get ahead in life because they feel that the other person was simply given more at birth.[5]

                When you’re stuck in your ways, the last thing you want is someone trying to change things for you. That’s why people with a fixed mindset often ignore advice. When they do take it to heart, it might hurt their feelings.

                  People with fixed mindsets don’t believe that you can get ahead by working hard. As a result, they may ridicule people who genuinely want to improve.[6]

                    Don’t get trapped by people with fixed mindsets

                    Dealing with people with fixed mindsets can be tough. In some cases, you can easily remove yourself from the situation. If your friend has a toxic, fixed mindset, you can choose to part ways with them. You can’t always cut people out of your life, though.

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                    Your coworkers, family members, and close friends may also possess fixed mindsets. You can’t necessarily fire your coworkers, and you may choose not to speak to your family, but many of us choose to love our families and friends in spite of their flawed thinking.

                    Sometimes you have to deal with the person who lacks a growth mindset. Here’s how:

                    1. When you argue with them, stick to the facts and avoid making your comment personal

                    They’re already going to take your suggestions personally. Securing your argument with facts keeps them more emotion-neutral. Avoid saying, “I think it’s better if…” You’re asserting your opinion and making it personal. Remove this sentence from your responses to keep them from getting offended. Control your emotions is crucial too. They may get frustrated when you try to offer advice. Don’t get emotional and fire back an angry retort. Say what you need to say, and then leave them to think. Give them time to digest what you’ve said. If they feel you’re right, this could alter how they think.

                    2. Stop trying to fix them. 

                    Since they have a fixed mindset, trying to change their mind won’t work. They only listen to themselves, so it’s better to offer them options secured with facts like what we stated above. You have to make it seem like it’s their idea, or it won’t work.

                    3. Keep your laser-like focus and keep track of your goal

                    Know what you need to do, and avoid being dragged down by their mindset. They may try to discourage you from doing something because they don’t believe that change is possible. You have a growth mindset, which means that you can see things in ways that they can’t. Keep track of your goals. Being surrounded by people who do not believe in the power of working hard can rob you of your motivation. Having your goals written will help you stick to them.

                    4. Surround yourself with people with a growth mindset.

                    Whenever possible, try to find others who share your belief in the power of learning and effort. Don’t worry about your group becoming narrow-minded. People with growth mindsets are naturally open to discussing topics and accepting criticism. You will continue to improve together.

                    They may have been raised with a fixed mindset, or they might have learned to be helpless in school. It’s up to you to recognize fixed mindsets and constantly strive for your own growth. Don’t give anyone the power to keep you from your dreams.

                    Reference

                    More by this author

                    Brian Lee

                    Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

                    100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

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                    Published on January 16, 2019

                    How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                    How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                    We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

                    You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

                    You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

                    That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

                    Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

                    1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

                    Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

                    We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

                    To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

                    At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

                    The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

                    2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

                    Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

                    The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

                    In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

                    It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

                    It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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                    So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

                    • Are you a great strategist?
                    • Are you an effective planner?
                    • Is Project Management your strength?
                    • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
                    • Are you the ideas person?
                    • Is Implementation your strength?

                    Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

                    3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

                    One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

                    Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

                    Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

                    Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

                    4. Take Time for Planning

                    “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

                    One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

                    You can take the time to think about:

                    • What’s the purpose of the project?
                    • How Important is it?
                    • When does it need to be delivered by?
                    • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
                    • What are the KPIs?
                    • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
                    • Who is working on this project?
                    • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
                    • What tolerances can I add in?
                    • What are the review stages?
                    • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

                    Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

                    5. Focus on Priorities

                    Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

                    Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

                    One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

                    1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
                    2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
                    3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
                    4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

                    James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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                      The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                      If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                      If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                      6. Take Time Out

                      To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                      If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                      Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                      In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                      Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                      7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                      Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                      I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                      Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                      If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                      8. Stop Multitasking

                      Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                      So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                      When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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                      If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                      9. Work in Blocks of Time

                      To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                      I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                      Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                      Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                      Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                      Then take another 10-minute break.

                      Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                      By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                      10. Get Rid of Distractions

                      Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                      “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                      Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                      If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                      11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                      You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                      Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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                      Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                      12. Take a Time Audit

                      Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                      Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                      You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                      Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                      Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                      At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                      If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                      13. Protect Your Confidence

                      It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                      When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                      Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                      When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                      Final Words

                      A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                      The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                      If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                      Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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