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What Would You Do on a Desert Island?

What Would You Do on a Desert Island?


    Lost

    has been off the air for a while now, but getting stranded on a desert island still looms large in most people’s imaginations. If your woebegone plane happened upon some sun-kissed atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, would you live or would you die? Who do you hope would be with you? What belongings would be most useful?

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    As a career and workplace writer, my thoughts naturally stray to what one would have to offer in terms of skills or traits that would aid survival and assist in the group’s society-building efforts. And because being on a desert island does bear some metaphorical resemblance to life in a modern office, let’s reflect on the characteristics that would make one successful and why.

    Essential #1:  Adaptability

    The circumstances of life on a desert island can be different from one moment to the next. Whether you need shelter from a violent rainstorm or a first-aid remedy for a cut foot, you have to be able to role with the punches and do what you need to do to manage whatever crisis is paramount. You have to be able to sleep on the ground and eat raw fish. To a less dramatic degree, life in a rapidly evolving business world is similar.

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    Essential #2: Ability to Assimilate

    You might not get to choose your desert compatriots, but you’ll want to do your best to fit in with the group and be one of the most likeable castaways. It’s important that you have a good sense of the civilization that’s developing on the island and support it rather than railing against it. Likewise, in today’s companies, those who are able to effectively assimilate into an already-established culture are much more successful than those who aren’t.

    Essential #3: Positive Attitude

    Inevitably, you will be faced with unpleasant situations while stranded, but complaining won’t get you anywhere. An optimistic and empowered voice will help the group stay on the right track and in the right frame of mind to withstand environmental stressors. Plus, it will make you – and everyone else around you – feel better.  In the business world, too, negativity will kill your career even if you’re smart and competent, but a smile will go far in terms of gaining cooperation.

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    Essential #4:  Focus on the Big Picture

    Details like how many pieces of kindling you need to collect or what to do with the plane’s debris are important, but these minutiae should not be allowed to overshadow the group’s primary objectives, which are to eat, drink, and stay out of the elements. Castaways – and employees – who stay focused on what really matters and concentrate on acquiring skills that will allow them to meet their goals will be rewarded for their efforts.

    Essential #5:  Leadership

    The effective leader who emerges among the castaways will not just jump in and seize power with no context or credibility. Rather, he/she will first strive to develop meaningful relationships and will make suggestions designed to leverage every person’s skillset and experience in a way that will benefit the group as a whole. In the corporate world, great leaders also forget strong bonds and draw on the collective wisdom of the group.

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    What other traits are most prized in the literal or figurative jungle?

    (Photo credit: Maldivian Desert Island via Shutterstock)

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      Last Updated on March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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