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Are You a Lantern or a Lamp?

Are You a Lantern or a Lamp?

The greatest freedom we have and the one many people give up is the freedom of choice. You have the freedom to choose who you want to be and how you want to impact the world.  Whether or not you intentionally exercise that freedom of choice, you impact the world around you.

What is your impact?

Is it positive? Do you leave things better than when you found them? Do you even care?

More specifically, what is your impact on the people around you?

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I encourage people to take an inventory of all the roles they play in life.  For example: I’m a dad, son, brother, uncle, grandson, cousin, friend, employee, trusted adviser, etc.  You get the point.  What is your expectation for yourself in each role? How do you want to show up?  What impact do you want to have?  Most importantly, are you meeting your expectations? If not, what needs to change?

If you’ve read “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” you may recall the Emotional Bank Account.  It’s a brilliantly awesome concept for managing your relationships. Simply, your relationship with someone is like a bank account where you make deposits and take withdrawals.  When you do something positive that is a deposit.  When you do something negative that is a withdrawal. Like your bank account, the more deposits you make the more value and reserves you build up.  The bigger the positives, the bigger the deposit.  The bigger the negative, the bigger the withdrawal.  You want to build as much value and reserves as possible.  This means you care.  Where people get into trouble is the take too many withdrawals, forcing the account into the RED. This isn’t good.

Just be cool and make deposits!

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Another analogy I like to use is: The Lantern & The Lamp

Let’s start with the lamp.

Lamps are valuable as they shine light wherever they stand. Lamps help people see clearer and allow them to maneuver in the darkest places. However, a lamp’s impact is limited. Many lamps stand in one place and do not move. They stay in one position, and therefore only shine light in one place. You have to come to the lamp, and many times they are only valuable if you are beneath them.

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How about the lantern?

Though they serve the same purpose, the lantern’s opportunity to impact is much greater, which makes it more valuable.

For starters the lantern is mobile.  Wherever it goes, its light benefits everyone around it. It isn’t designed to stand above people or stay in one place.  It will go wherever light is needed.  It can be hung high or sit low, which gives it the ability to provide light from different perspectives.  It’s designed to go beside you. Its handle is its offer to help; just grab it!

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Are you more like the lamp or the lantern?

Do you stay in one place and only shine your light on those who stand beneath you?  Or does your light shine everywhere you go, impacting everyone around you?

I like the lantern.

The unfortunate reality is many people aren’t even aware they possess this light and have no clue of their potential to positively impact people and the world around them. Maybe it’s with their spirit or attitude or passion. For some reason many people don’t allow this light to shine.

That’s a tragedy!

Take some time and think about all the roles you play in your life and the expectations you have in those roles.  What does your Emotional Bank Account look like in each role?  Are you making deposits or taking withdrawals? What if you were a lantern and allowed your spirit, attitude, and passion to confidently shine on everyone around you?  Think about the impact you would have on them.

Think about the impact this would have on you!

Shine!

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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