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. :)

How to Complete Your Projects

Know Your Own Superpowers

One of my weaknesses is putting the finishing touches on a project. I can develop, design, write and create, but can’t put the “fancy” on a project that extra touch to make it shine.

I hired an editor to help me with the Unlock Your Superpowers Manifesto. It’s coming out very soon. I’m great with ideas and concepts, but not very good with finishing the product. I get bored and want to move on. So I make less money in the short run, but in the long run it’s paying off.

She helps me clean up, polish and put the bow on my projects.

Her superpowers complement mine and it’s worth every dollar.

The next step was to find a great designer. Once again I have superpowers in structure and layout, but not so much with colors and images.

I hired a local designer to help me create something beautiful. Something so special that people couldn’t help but want to share it with their friends.

This was only possible by understanding my superpowers, but also my project kryptonite.

You have superpowers that aren’t being used very well because you don’t have the right people around you. You need superheroes in your back pocket. Follow these steps to build your network so you can make growing your career easier and more fun.

I could use your help. Please fill out this 5 min survey. so I can help you become happier at work and unlock your career superpowers. If you fill out the survey, I’ll give you a sneak peak into the Unlock Your Superpowers manifesto.

 

1. Unlock Your Own Superpowers

A deep understanding of your own superpowers is a must before you begin reaching out to find other people to help you. When you understand what you do well, it makes it easier to exchange superpowers.

The key is to have a mix of passion, focus and strengths throughout your daily actions. You can read more about that here.

2. Learn Your Project Kryptonite

Every large project has certain tasks within it that weaken you. These are your project kryptonites.

You can usually spot a project kryptonite by how hard you try to avoid doing the task. For example I do not like editing. It’s hard enough to write something unique and interesting. I struggle with going back over posts and finding missing connection gaps and grammar errors.

This is where you need to leverage other people’s superpowers. You need to give these tasks to other people who enjoy the work and do a better job than you.

What tasks do you find yourself avoiding?

3. Ask people in your network for help

The key is not to directly ask them for help, unless you are really good friends. It can put both of you in an awkward position.

I suggest just asking them if they know anyone who can help you with your project, then they can volunteer themselves if they want to or offer up someone that might be able to help you.

You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by the quality of referrals that you will get from friends and family. No one wants to be the person who recommended a dud to you.

You can ask people directly or post on one of your social media accounts. I see this happen a lot in Facebook, especially for car mechanics.

4. Know the Value You Will Give in Return

If people help you with a certain part of your project, then the next part is understanding how you’ll reward them in return.

  • Do you pay them?
  • Do you thank them? (Depending on your relationship with them)
  • Do you offer to help them with a project?

There should be some kind of reciprocity that takes place.

When someone holds the door open for you, you smile and/or thank them. People want to know you appreciate their hard work.

The more time and energy they give you, the more important it is to show them your gratitude.

5. Set Up a Trial Period with Your Potential Superhero

Not everyone you think is amazing is a good complement to your skills. It’s best to test out the idea of working with them. When you ask them for help, make sure they understand that you are just working on a trial period.

I tested out a few editors before I found one that I clicked with. The other editors were very good, just not a good fit for me.

You might want to try 30 – 90 days. Whatever the trial period is, make sure you have enough data to understand if they are a good fit for you or not.

Try giving them different types of projects that challenge their superpowers in different ways. You’ll see whether they are a good fit for you or not very quickly.

Superheroes Are Everywhere

Friends, family, and co-workers can all be very helpful if you give them a chance to help you. Don’t be afraid to be clear about your expectations for a project. As long as everyone understands the goals, it makes for a much easier time working together.

Just ask for help and remember to reward them so they understand how appreciative you are. If you plan on making money from the project I would suggest paying the person. If it’s a hobby project, a small gift or heartfelt thank you can go a long way.

Your Turn

How do you find people with complementary superpowers to help you complete projects?

I could use your help. Start your own 30 Day Connection Challenge today! The resources are Please fill out this 5 min survey. so I can help you become happier at work and unlock your career superpowers. If you fill out the survey, I’ll give you a sneak peak into the Unlock Your Superpowers ebook (pages 1 – 5).

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.

4 Steps to Conquer Self-Sabotage

The habit of self-sabotage is both the cause and effect of low self-esteem. Not believing in your abilities, strengths, and talents can make you question your every move. Whenever you have fears of not being good enough, it plants thoughts of self-doubt and inadequacy, leaving you depleted of energy and robbing you of your momentum.

As a master of self-sabotage myself, I found that the only way to stop sabotaging my life was to simply stop listening to my inner critic who was always so harshly judgmental. Editor’s note: I like to call the inner critic. My inner arch nemesis.

With conscious effort you can achieve what I did, as I describe below. I learned to silence my inner critic, and let myself be and do what I knew all along I was capable of doing, but too afraid to do. [Read more...]

Leaning On Old Relationships

Miss-You-Amma

(My aunt is on the left, my Amma is in the middle and my cousin is on the right.)

I recently lost my grandmother and at first I didn’t think it would affect me like it has. She lived in Iceland to the beautiful age of 85. I have often thought that would be a good age to go and she actually did it.

I didn’t visit very often.

Didn’t matter to her. She loved me wherever I was.

Her love made me feel stronger. Now, after her passing, I feel like her memories have multiplied my strength. It’s kind of weird to feel this way, but she was and is a big part of my emotional foundation.

I never really thought how much my grandmother meant to me until I thought about different interactions we had.

I wrote a small little story that was printed in the Icelandic newspaper that I wanted to share with you.

I arrived in Iceland, knowing about five words. A little afraid and very excited to connect with my family. I visited before, but never for this length of time and staying with someone who spoke only five words of English.

When I arrived at my Amma’s (Grandmother in Icelandic) home. I opened the door and said, “Hi Amma!” then I heard her scratchy voice say “Hi, Kalli!” I took off my shoes and began to walk up the steps. Amma turned the corner, there she was in the doorway with a big smile. She gave me the hug and I felt at home.

During my stay with her I wasn’t the most giving guest. She was overweight and couldn’t move very well. I didn’t offer to mow her yard or help her around the house. I’m ashamed of this, but she didn’t care. She made kleinur (Icelandic donuts), offered sandwiches and just kept talking to me in Icelandic even when I couldn’t understand.

She loved me unconditionally.

I carry her love with me to this day. It supports me when I’m sad or being too hard on myself. If Amma can love a selfish teenager, who was so worried about having fun, that he didn’t think about giving back to his Amma, who could use his help, than I can love all my faults too. Unconditionally.

Every person that loves us makes us stronger. They help us believe in our ability to help others.

Think about every person that loved you and what they wanted you to have in your life.

Are you using their love to make you stronger?

Are you lighting your own internal fires?

Are you playing big in your career or just playing it safe?

RIP Amma.

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...]

Day 21 of Realigning My Joy with My Subconscious Challenge – Turning a Corner

30-day-challenge-image-250In the previous update I talked about my struggles with my subconscious joy realignment challenge. How I’m trying to figure out how to find easier ways to enjoy my daily struggles.

At first I felt like I was floating on big fluffy clouds after Day 7 from just a simple mantra each morning and afternoon. It seemed too good to be true.

I guess it was.

Reality has crashed on top of me.

I seem to have lost with how to proceed.

I feel like I’ve gone backwards. I’m trying too hard instead of just watching and learning as I do this exercise.

I woke up this morning with a stiff neck. This 30 day challenge was supposed to improve how I dealt with my stress not make it worse.

[Read more...]

Day 13 of Realigning My Subconscious with My Joy – The Struggle

I seriously thought this would be a lot easier than it really has become. I seem to have hit a wall.

You may be following this 30 Day Challenge  because of this post - Realigning My Joy through My Subconscious.

I had two messages to myself that I had to repeat every morning when I woke up and when I went to bed.

They were: (excerpt from original post)

The bed-time message to my subconscious is:

“I will let go of any worries and relax every muscle before and during my sleep.”

The reason I picked this is because I’ve been holding on to my stress as I’m settling down for bed. It causes me to have trouble falling asleep and waking up with a stiff neck, jaw, and/or back.

My morning message to my subconscious which I will tape to my mirror is:

“Every interaction has some joy in it. It’s up to me to find the joy and possibly expand on these feelings.”

I picked this message because I catch myself, very often, wanting the experience I am presently in to be different instead of accepting it for everything it is.

[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.
[Read more...]

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