Questions

* The Unlock Your Superpowers Manifesto is being released very soon. If you want a sneak peek at the first section, please fill out this 5 min survey.

Great questions are so much better than great answers because they help us dig within to find out what we truly want to happen.

When you ask yourself a tough question and take the time to answer it, you learn how you got to that answer and why it matters.

For example, if someone hands you a great solution to your problem, you’ll have a harder time implementing it and getting great results because you won’t understand the “why’s” until after you are done working through the solution.

Simple Questions

Sometimes just asking a question to a friend or expert can help us understand more about ourselves. Their answer can help us create a more fulfilling journey.

One of the most profound questions is a very simple one.

Why am I choosing to do this task or project?

When you understand your “why”, it’s easier to connect to your work, and when frustrations or obstacles get you down, you can remind yourself of your “why”.

I do this through my writing. I ask myself tough questions that I would like an answer to, then craft my answer in a blog post. It’s how Work Happy Now got started.

Earlier in my life, I was mostly unhappy with brief periods of happiness. I struggled through depression, bad jobs, and bad relationships.

Through great questions, I began to uncover what made me happy. As I became happier, I wanted others to become happier too. I’m far from perfect, but I’ve learned a lot since launching Work Happy Now back in 2008. And I want to share that learning and knowledge with you.

Live Q&A

I’m creating a live Q&A on Facebook on Thursday, April 24th at 9pm ET (6pm PT) where I can answer any questions on this post about how to Unlock Your Career Superpowers. I also hope to create a live webinar soon.

During the FB Q&A, you might ask me:

  • How come my boss doesn’t appreciate my superpowers?
  • How do I use more of my superpowers at work?
  • I just lost my passion completely and have no idea on how to get it back. Help?
  • Why do you use the word superpower instead of strengths?
  • How come I have 6 toes and can I turn this into a superpower?

I’ve helped thousands of people unlock their superpower and I would like to help you too!

Oh, and when you join in, you’ll have a chance to win a free “Unlock Your Superpowers” coaching session. You’ll also find out when the manifesto is going live.

Sound like fun?

Good. Then let’s unlock your superpowers together. Join us on the Work Happy Now Facebook page this Thursday night at 9pm EST (6pm PST).

5 Ways to Bring Yourself More Career Success and Happiness

micro improvement

* Quick update! The Unlock Your Superpowers manifesto is so close to being finished. Stay tuned for when it goes live and a Facebook Q&A date.

Last week I had a conversation with my friend Matt. We were chatting while our kids played together and we sipped on some Earl Grey tea.

He joked about how he wished that all he had to do was play music and not have to worry about booking his gigs, marketing, finances, etc.

Have you ever said something similar?

Matt’s a popular local musician in San Antonio. He put in a lot of hard work to get to where he is now.

He laughed. I smiled and took a sip of my tea.

Those words have been bouncing around my head every since they flowed from his lips.

Everything he does from booking gigs to marketing all support his ability to do what he is passionate about.

I recently said something similar. Just recently I was frustrated because I was passed up for a speaking gig. In that moment I wished my great life to be something different. I wished my book was a best seller. I would have gotten that speaking gig I said to myself.

The words flowed out of my mouth. I couldn’t stop them. I paused and smiled at this thought.

I know it’s a good book, filled with great information, but nowhere near a best seller.

I have learned to smile when I’m getting down on my life. It’s how I cope with difficult situations.

Let’s Break It Down

As a parent of a 4-year-old, I realize that we like to try to take 4 steps all at once. Instead of getting us to our destination more quickly, it can cause us to fall on our faces. We may have had far better results just enjoying the walk.

You’ve probably heard the phrase:

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I know I’ve been so focused on a goal before that I forgot about the journey. Have you also forgotten to enjoy the moment you are in for its inherent worth?

There’s so much we miss when we don’t enjoy the journey, because that is the stuff of life. It’s kind of like you can’t laugh at a joke before you hear the whole thing otherwise the punch line doesn’t make sense.

This Is Where the Secret Lies

Maria Forleo was on Oprah’s Sunday show talking with two other panelists about life lessons, seeking and spirituality.

When she said:

“Bring passion to everything you do.”

A little light went off in my head. Then she said.

“Passion is like a muscle that we can build through use.”

Then the light went full bright. Yes! I knew what she meant.

I’ve talked about this before here and here and in my manifesto on Unlocking Your Superpowers that I’m completing in the next few weeks. In there is another quote:

When you do work you love, you do amazing work.

When you do work you hate, you do crappy work.

That’s why it all starts with passion, then the focus and strengths come into play to turn an action into a superpower.

How do you go about bringing passion to everything you do? First you must start with the basics. Let’s look at a 5 step process that I use with my coaching clients.

1. Become a Watcher of Your Thoughts

The words you choose before you start on a task will determine your mindset. If you say I “need” to wash the dishes, you’ll most likely go into the task dreading every moment. When you say, I “want” to wash the dishes, there is a positive choice you are making before you do the task.

You can check out a short interview I did with Jason Fischer, about mastering your internal dialog over at Domino Connection, my close your connection gaps blog. You might want to have a notebook handy because he digs into some great ideas.

2. Give Your Full Attention to the Situation

If this was your last day on earth, what would you do?

Think about this question for a few seconds. What really matters to you?

If you’re like me, you might notice that your sip of coffee tastes a little better. You might imagine what it would be like to never have another sip of coffee again.

When you give your full attention to the moment, you don’t let worrying thoughts bother you. How could you? Right?

3. Feel Gratitude

When you feel gratitude, your passion will kick in. When you really appreciate what you already have, it helps you find the right perspective. Instead of worrying about needing an extra hour of sleep, you think I’m up and awake so that I can enjoy this day for all it is ready to give me.

Try keeping a gratitude journal and work on making this a part of your daily life. You can learn more about creating your own gratitude journal here. The key will be to be consistent with keeping your journal so it becomes a habit.

4. Listen to Your Emotions, then Let Them Go

Your emotions should help guide your decision-making processes. Successful people always feel first, then make a decision after they’ve had a time to process their emotions and rationally weigh out their options.

This process will allow you to make decisions based on happiness as well as logic.

Once you’ve made your decision, it’s also essential to let your emotional attachment to the outcome go so you can enjoy the present moment.

5. Develop Career Building Habits

You probably used to practice every day. Whether it was soccer, piano, or homework, .you worked on improving yourself. This habit is ingrained in you and can easily be re-energized if given a little motivation.

One idea is to try creating a 30-Day Challenge for yourself. Ask yourself, “What part of your career could use a little help?”

For example, do you need to grow your network? If so, what could you do every single day to find more people you can help as well as lean on them when you need help?

I’m working on bringing you action oriented courses like a 30 Day Connection Guide and course and Unlock Your Superpowers course to help people grow their network. Would this interest you? If so, please fill out this survey link and let me know a little more about what you want help with so I can create something that can really help you grow your career.

Putting It Together

Your career is dependent on micro-improvements. When you try taking small steps every day, you can turn your career into something that makes you happier and helps more people.

Try applying one of these ideas to your career and let me know what happens after one week. If you like the results, I suggest turning it into a 30-Day Challenge in order to make it into a habit.

What has helped you bring more or the most success and happiness to your career?

* I can’t wait to share the Unlock Your Superpowers manifesto with you. I think you are going to love it. Stay tuned. :)

Why Do Projects Take So Long?

Unlock Your Superpowers Manifesto Cover

Have you ever wondered why projects take so long to complete?

This thought has been on my mind for a few weeks now because I’m working on a manifesto for How to Unlock Your Superpowers. When I first started it, I thought it would take a few weeks. Now that I look back on my naiveté, I have to laugh.

I’ve been at the ebook and project creation game long enough to know better, but I guess I still have to fool myself. Because if I knew up front how long it would actually take to create the concept, write it, edit it, lay it out, design it, launch it, and follow up with people who like it, I would never even start it.

You have probably had projects that seemed to take forever, or even worse, ones that were never finished.

This got me thinking about what it takes to work on a project from start to finish. Why are some people so good at finishing, while others don’t follow all the way through?

What I realized is that the only way this manifesto is even close to finishing is due to my finding people who have superpowers that I don’t have. I’m not a good editor, so I sought one out. I’m not a good designer, so I sought one out for that part of the project too.

A Superhero Team

I realized that I’m not a superhero taking this book from start to finish all on my own. I’ve been putting my team of superheroes together so that the end product benefits from the combination of our superpowers.

I’ve written about this before, but never really showed people step-by-step how they can create their own superhero team. So, that’s what I’m going to do with my next post.

I’m going to walk you step-by-step through how to find the right people to create your own team, how to grow your network, and how to boost your career to the next level.

Before I do that, I would like to ask you to think about the following question:

What have you struggled with as you try to build a strong superhero team (network) around you?

And if you’re willing to share, please do and I will do my best to address it in future postings. More to come soon, so stay tuned!

Karl

How to Exercise Your Vital Powers to Reach Excellence

Small-move-big-change-600

I was intrigued by the idea of microresolutions. It’s a great take on the concept of encouraging babysteps.

Today, I bring you the smart and interesting Caroline Arnold who has a book out called Small Move Big Change, Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently.

Karl Staib: What is one task that annoys you? How do you make it more enjoyable or at least tolerable?

Caroline Arnold: A task that annoys me is any task that is fundamentally uninteresting but not yet mindless.  Basically, most of our day is run by a kind of personal autopilot that is made up of behaviors and attitudes that have become entrenched through repetition.

Autopilot is mindless and efficient, you don’t have to think to tie your shoes, or lock the front door–autopilot does it for you.  Autopilot makes it possible to save your mental energy for the most important mental tasks:  problem-solving, decision-making, and self-control.  So, whenever I try to change an autopilot behavior through a microresolution, I find it very annoying, because it requires mental effort.  That’s true whether I’m trying to change a behavior like not saying “I told you so” to my spouse or learning a new behavior such as always leaving some food on my plate at every meal.  But I am able to get through the annoying and stressful part of building a new habit because my microresolution gives me  an immediate payback and by now I’ve worked through so many of these changes that I know that the behavior that annoys me today will become a mindless part of autopilot  in just a few weeks.  Any change causes some discomfort, but by focusing your willpower narrowly on a behavioral target, you can succeed every time, and success is enjoyable!

KS: Why are microresolutions so important to happiness?

CA: A lot of unhappiness comes from feeling that we are helpless to change ourselves.  The desire to self-improve is pretty basic to being human, and when we feel defeated in our efforts, it’s demoralizing.  Microresolutions are designed to always succeed, and that’s tremendously empowering.  Realizing that you absolutely have the power to change yourself is liberating and fulfilling.  I did it!  I actually changed myself!

KS: What is your favorite part of your job? Why?

CA: My favorite part of my job is brainstorming with my team and colleagues.  When the whole team is around the table creating something new, problem-solving, exchanging diverse points of view, and then establishing direction, I find that inspiring.  I also treasure those moments when we face obstacles or find ourselves in crisis and beat the odds by outperforming and through just plain HEART.

KS: How do you maintain harmony between your working and non-working life?

CA: I try to maintain as much of a routine at home as possible.  I make dinner every night, it’s very important me that we gather around the table and share a nice meal and the events of our day.  There are times when work issues makes it a late  dinner, and  times when I go back online to work afterwards, but the dinner hour is a real anchor in our family life.  Some people talk about work/life balance as if it’s something fixed, but It’s never settled–one is always tuning that dial in response to work needs, family needs, personal objectives.  When it comes to demanding jobs and family life, you have to draw your own line, no one will draw it for you.

KS: What is your favorite stress reliever?

CA: Laughing!   Nothing like a few yuks (especially at your own expense) to relieve pressure.  Walking is also an amazing stress reliever.  You experience the season, change your surroundings, rev your metabolism, clear your head, and it’s very meditative.

Frederich Nietzsche said that “all great thoughts are conceived while walking” and I have to say, I have thought through many a gnarly issue as I walked to work.  While I was trying to finish my book my husband gave me a foot rub every night, and that was an amazing stress reliever.  Makes me want to write another book!

KS: If you are feeling down, what do you do to lift your spirits?

CA: If she hasn’t ditched me for the day in favor of teen activities, I hang with my daughter Helen and that lifts my spirits.   Whatever I am grappling with, it pales beside the challenge of growing up and trying to shape one’s own future.  Kids are dealing with demands from every direction, but they are amazingly resilient and capable, and that’s inspiring.

KS: What is your biggest detriment to enjoying your work?

CA: Fatigue.  It’s hard to enjoy anything when you’re tired.  On the days when I don’t get enough sleep, I’m dragging by 2pm, and I hate not feeling top of my game.  There are many exciting projects and conversations to be a part of, but you if you have no energy to participate, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Sleep is also essential to self-improvement efforts.

Willpower gets restored when you sleep and hormones essential for weight control only get balanced with sufficient sleep.  it’s really difficult to stick with a diet or fitness goal when you’re exhausted.  People spend tons of money on face creams to look younger — getting an extra hour of sleep will do far more for you.  I have a whole chapter on getting more sleep in Small Move, Big Change.   Sleep is like a secret weapon for those who appreciate and respect its power.

KS: What do you do to stay motivated and productive?

CA: Challenging work is, to me, the greatest motivator and makes me most productive in my job.  In my experience, people don’t burn out from challenging work, they burn out from highly political workplaces or relentless routine.  I seek out challenges for myself and for my team, and I find it tremendously motivating to see team members take ownership and nail these challenges with spirit and smarts (and outperform me).

KS: Why do you think someone should buy your “Small move, Big change” book?

CA: Small Move, Big Change is for people who want to be successful every time they make a resolution, period.  It’s about cracking the code on making a personal change that lasts forever.  Whether that’s losing weight, getting fit, arriving on time, improving relationships, getting ahead at work, getting more organized, saving more, or being neater — there is a small move you can make today that will improve your life right now and have far-reaching effects in the future.  The book teaches the art of achieving continuous self-improvement.

KS: If you could give work happiness advice to someone just starting their career in 140 characters or less (Twitter style) what would it be?

CA: I can’t improve on Aristotle who said, “Happiness is the exercise of vital powers along the lines of excellence.”  (What a tweeter Aristotle would have been!)

Find a job where you can give your all, your very best, every day.  Try to work your way into an organization with a vibrant work culture that supports personal growth, risk-taking, and rewards high performance, not political dexterity.  We spend the largest part of every week at work, so look for the opportunity that will stretch you and nurture your growth as a human being.  The best jobs are hard work and also a blast.

Caroline Arnold* You can check out Caroline Arnold website here and her new book on Amazon (affiliate link, which will help pay for my next cup of coffee), Barnes and Noble or visit an Independent bookstore near you.

4 Words You’ll Want to Use More Often in Your Career

Gratitude Changes Lives

Have you ever known someone whose presence is so uplifting you feel better just because you see or talk to him or her?  Someone who carries and spreads joy because of their love of life?

I know someone like that.  His name is Jim Gray.  Mr. Gray lives in the building where I work.  His passion for his work carries over to an overall passion for life.

You can apply Jim Gray’s success secrets to success in your own life!

1. Gratitude

I’ve heard Mr. Gray say many times how lucky he feels that at the age of 81, he is still able to paint.   He enjoys life through a feeling of gratitude, and he generously shares and spreads his joy for life.

“I can’t believe I still get to do this (paint)!” says Jim Gray.  He believes he has had a blessed life and that he has been very lucky.

I believe he has a wonderful life because of his own attitude!

Remember to count your blessings, too.  Every day, if possible, focus on the positive in your life, not the negative.  Mr. Gray does not dwell on the pain of his arthritis or his failing vision.  He focuses on how lucky he thinks he is.  Make it a point to remember how lucky you are (even if you have to program it in to your daytimer or appointments or reminders)!

2. Kindness

My favorite part of the day is when Mr. Gray sticks his head in my office doorway and says, smiling, “Hello, dear!”  No matter how busy, stressed or tired I may have been feeling, I am instantly uplifted by his appearing there because he delivers a positive energy that affects how I feel.

You too can have this effect on others, both in and out of the workplace.  I know it goes beyond the typical definition of “people skills” to try to spread positive energy, but being kind and treating others as you would like to be treated (the “golden rule”)will breed success and happiness.

Authentic caring and kindness are some of the key ingredients of a charismatic personality.  People will want to be near you, and as a consequence, you will have greater influence and success.  Of course, that’s not the only reason to care and be kind to others. Living from a space of caring and kindness will directly affect your own happiness because kindness, success and happiness are all entwined.

3. Humility

Sometimes I hear Mr. Gray in conversation in the hallway outside my office.  He is easily engaged into conversation or advice with others by his love for people.  And people don’t even realize they are chatting casually with a renowned artist! 

Mr. Gray is too humble to think of himself as a “famous artist”.  That’s part of his charm.  He makes such an impact on others because he isn’t thinking of himself at all.  He thinks about other people…he genuinely cares about others… he is sincerely interested in other people.

He often talks and laughs at the same time he paints.  He told me that when he was young he learned to work both sides of his brain at the same time in order to enjoy chatting with people and answering their questions while he was working on a painting.  He does not see their interruptions as a problem, but a gift.

Mr. Gray says, “When you paint outdoors, invariably people will come to share the view you’re looking at (for your painting) and then ask to have their picture taken with you.  They want to watch and talk to you while you work.”

Jim Gray is a prolific artist.  You probably know about the beautiful cast bronze statue of Dolly Parton at the Sevierville, Tennessee courthouse (outside the Gatlinburg area).  Mr. Gray sculpted that!  It’s just one of hundreds of wonderful works of art he has given to the world.

4. Fun

A sense of fun and adventure has kept Jim Gray passionate for both his work and his life.  When people ask Mr. Gray what his favorite painting is, he often answers, his next one!  This may be what keeps him fresh and excited about his project.

Mr. Gray tells me that when he was a younger man living in Tennessee, he used to go off in a camper by himself to find new subject matter.  When he saw a beautiful landscape he wanted to paint on someone’s farm, he would knock on their doors and simply ask if he could paint a picture of their magnificent landscape.  No one ever said no!

“I have a weird, but fun, job,” he says.

So that’s a weird lesson – don’t forget to have fun at work!  Often (especially as we get older), we need to be reminded how important it is to keep having fun, despite all the serious things in our lives and our world.  Laugh and have fun!  Travel or have some adventure for a fresh perspective like Mr. Gray.  Choose several items from these tips to make work more fun.  And carry them out!  Release those endorphins and freshen your perspective so that you can continue or regain love for your work and your life.

Do you or someone you know have a heightened quality of life because of passion for your/their work?  If so, please share your story of inspiration in the comments!

* Contributed by Deborah Shelby who writes inspiration for a happier and better life at Prayerful Mom.

How to Create a Better Job for Yourself

Free Training Photo

This might mean that you must learn to get creative…or think outside the box…but you can use your current job to provide yourself with free training and new skills to beef up your resume in order to get a pay raise or better career position, or simply to enhance your present workplace and your relationships with your coworkers.

Here are some of the ideas I have used to successfully create a better job for myself:

I became a notary public in just a few hours online, and I did it with my boss’s permission — on company time!  He even let me pay for it on the company credit card because it would be so useful to him to have a notary on the premises.

Pitch Your Boss

The point here is to try to think of an idea you can pitch to your boss that will help him or her or the company, and therefore make you a more valuable employee.   You will have more job security and confidence, management will love you, and you can grow your resume for the future.

My most recent pitch to my boss was not for myself.  I learned that a coworker who is also a friend has a small hobby/side business that requires a lot of social media, so she is very experienced in that field.  We pay our advertising company an astronomical amount of money to have them manage our social media in addition to running our website and designing our ads.  Their contract is up next month.

I talked to my boss and presented my idea to save the company tons of money by having one of our own employees take over the social media portion of the advertising contract for next year.  We could even give my coworker a nice pay raise, but it would be SO much less than we currently spend.   The company would come out MUCH better off financially, and so would my friend.

Believe it or not, being kind and offering to help others can also be an opportunity for you to create a better job for yourself at work.  Because I volunteered to do extra work filling in for someone on maternity leave so that her boss could cope, when she decided not to come back to work after having her baby, the position was given to me…with a pay raise!

Look for Training Opportunities

Another potential way to improve your career options is to sign up for any relevant training programs offered by your employer  You can also find out if they would pay for certifications or classes.  By taking advantage of any learning opportunities available, you can become a more valuable asset to your company while also growing and improving yourself and your capacity to earn more money in the future.

For example, I learned of a fabulous program in my state offered by Workplace Development.  I discovered it through an email sent by our local Chamber of Commerce.  It is a grant offered by the state to pay for employees’ continuing education or to improve or build job skills.

I presented it to my boss and told him I would do all the work involved if he would let me apply for the grant.  (Full disclosure: If I’d realized how much work would be involved in the grant process, I’m not sure I would have been so eager to volunteer for this project!)

With the grant, I am getting approval for over a dozen of my coworkers and myself to take classes on company time for two hours, twice a week.  With our new knowledge and skills, we will then be able to get pay raises, but the company will benefit financially as we apply the new knowledge and skills.

For example, our maintenance staff will learn more intensive plumbing, air conditioning and electrical skills.  They will be able to do more of the big jobs that usually require hiring outside contractors.  Therefore, even with giving the maintenance staff pay raises, the company will come out ahead by saving money spent on contracted services.  Win-win!

For myself, I am taking accounting and Quickbooks classes so I can cover for our bookkeeper when she goes on vacation, rather than having to wait for her return every time she takes a few days off.  Perhaps one day, I’ll even want to change my career from administrative assistant to accounting. In the meantime, I have a pretty good thing going with the present job I created for myself.

Frame Your Idea in Positive Way

The first time I asked my boss if he had a few minutes to talk to me, I felt him cringe as he assumed I was going to ask for a raise.  (There was no money in the budget for that.)  I learned to ask instead, “Do you have a few minutes so I can run an idea by you?”  Now when I approach with a big grin asking if he has time to talk about a new idea, my boss is eager to hear what I have to say.

Have you ever pitched a new or creative idea to your boss that changed your job or experience?  Please share your ideas or comments!

Contributed by Deborah Shelby of Prayerful Mom.

Day 30 of Joy Realignment Challenge – Leaning Forward

jogger-street

Have you ever sat on a bench and watched people jog by?

You can spot the people who have an easy time jogging. They have good form. They don’t seem to be struggling.

They get it.

The technique doesn’t seem to be that difficult. Lean slightly forward, land on the balls of your feet, have a steady rhythm and pace.
[Read more...]

Realigning My Joy through My Subconscious – 30 Day Challenge

I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve reduced my complaining since my “No Complaining – 30 Day Challenge” and wondering what other parts of my life could use an adjustment.

The subconscious is a great place to start. There are many hidden thoughts and ideas that lay only semi-dormant unless released.

Did you know that our brain actually stores every experience? There have been experiments that prove that we can actually recall incidents from our childhood to the exact detail if we are willing to stimulate our brains with a small shock. I’ve never tried this and I don’t think I will any time soon, but it’s a very interesting concept because it means our brains are more powerful than we might realize.

In addition to recalling incidents from childhood, we can also plant ideas within our subconscious that can help us grow.
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You are Right Here

I was staring at my book shelf for I don’t know how long. Maybe 10 minutes. My mind was numb and I couldn’t get myself back on task. The shelf looked like it wanted to sit on me. Really. I felt like it wanted to grow legs, crawl on top of me and just sit on me.

Ok, maybe it was my brain giving up. Too tired to actually fight off my inner “arch nemesis”.

I wasn’t very happy. I had all these expectations of what owning a business would be like. I would have more freedom, money, and success.

All I had was a head full of mush, scared to actually write something, scared to call anyone, scared to take the tiniest action.
[Read more...]

Unlocking Your Superpowers to Advance Your Career

smiling-at-work-2Have you ever felt stuck in your career?

I was recently talking with a client and she told me, “There is just no room for improvement in my present career.” She felt handcuffed by her situation.

I asked her, “So there isn’t a creative way you could improve your situation?”

She paused. “Ah, um, well…” She trailed off. “I could do a better job of playing politics,” she said unconvincingly.

“Is that what you want to do?” I asked.

“Um, no,” she said.

“Ok, so you have one option. What other options do you have?”
[Read more...]

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