‘Personal Thoughts’ Category

Being Invisible

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

What do structural engineers, anesthesiologists, fact-checkers, and interpreters have in common? When they do their jobs poorly, the consequences can be catastrophic. But when they do their jobs perfectly…They’re invisible.

“In fact, Invisibles are found in all walks of life. What binds them is their approach—deriving satisfaction from the value of their work, not the volume of their praise.” – David Zweig

Invisibles are almost counter-culture: performing anonymous work in an age of constant self-promotion.

In the book “The Invisibles”, Zweig takes us into the behind-the-scenes worlds that Invisibles inhabit. He interviews top experts in unusual fields to reveal the quiet workers behind public successes. Combining in-depth profiles with insights from psychology, sociology, and business, Zweig uncovers how these hidden professionals reap deep fulfillment by relishing the challenges their work presents. It is reminiscent of the study of introverts in the workplace, “Work that is purposeful and mission-based fits naturally within an introvert’s professional toolkit.”

For a lot of us, the better we perform the more attention we receive. Yet for many “Invisibles” –  skilled professionals whose role is critical to whatever enterprise they’re a part of – it’s the opposite: the better they do their jobs the more they disappear. In fact, often, it’s only when something goes wrong that they are noticed at all – think the anesthesiologist, instrument technician, and structural engineer.

Millions of these Invisibles are hidden in every industry. You may be one yourself. Surely you know of a few. And despite our culture’s increasing celebration of fame in our era of superstar CEOs and assorted varieties of “genius” – they’re fine with remaining anonymous. Zweig’s criteria for the “invisibles” are threefold: ambivalence toward recognition, meticulousness, and the savoring of responsibility. The people he writes about — a fascinating and varied bunch — are those who measure success not by celebrity or financial return, but by the quality of the work they do. And it’s a persuasive argument that they are happier, more fulfilled human beings as a result. Fame, as Zweig demonstrates, is a hollow, fickle thing. Money can also be a much overrated as a source of happiness.

The reality, as many professionals who tend to fall more on the silent end of the spectrum can attest to, is that many of the best workers—be they at the top of the pyramid or somewhere in the middle—go about their business, achieving great results without fanfare. And while it may feel as though the whole world is beguiled by those who make the most noise in conference rooms and boardrooms, it’s encouraging and, critically, worth noting that that’s not actually the case.

Zweig reveals that “Invisibles” have a lot to teach the rest of society about satisfaction and achievement. What has been lost amid the noise of self-promotion today is that not everyone can, or should, or even wants to be in the spotlight. The book reminds us that recognition isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and invisibility can be viewed as a mark of honor and a source of a truly rich life.

In closing, perhaps you have a few people around you who are Invisibles. People who, though they don’t pursue recognition, would be thrilled to have someone notice them and give them a little praise. It is a little thing – but then the little things make life worth living.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2016. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Rules to Live By

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

An expert on the subject would say that if you want to keep your list of resolutions, you need a set of personal rules to live by.

Here are some thoughts for both business and personal life. Make up your own, and remember you can add more at any time. Just make sure they are the strongest ones that will move you to action and keep you on course.

  1. Challenge yourself regularly. Say YES to new experience when given the chance, or better still, make the chance. Breathe deep, have patience and ask for help – but stretch.
  2. Have a “theme” for the year instead of a list of New Years Resolutions i.e. health, study, finances – it will help guide your decisions.
  3. Keep it real – Show your real self, be authentic to who you really are – we are all unique.
  4. Practice the Law of Attraction – that which is a vibratory match to you is always moving into your experience.
  5. Exert yourself – When you are pushing hard, push even harder. It’s amazing what the body can take, so sprint to the finish, do another lap, or pedal harder – it’s right there inside.
  6. Don’t always keep score – Practice random acts of kindness to others and more importantly to yourself!
  7. Learn to overlook imperfections, better yet embrace them!
  8. Read, read, read – Educate and relax at the same time. Aim for 12 business / development books per year plus various novels.
  9. Nothing is for best – Apart from your best suit or evening gown, why wear the same clothes all the time. Bring out your Sunday best every day.
  10. Smell the roses – self-explanatory, taking the time to take in the view when you can, smell the roses.
  11. Feed your body what will genuinely make it feel good. Same goes for your mind and spirit.
  12. Laugh a lot – It feels great and it’s good for your soul! Love even more.
  13. Cultivate your friendships – two are much better than one.
  14. Start now – No point in waiting once you’ve made the decision.

So, what are your Personal Rules? Here’s to a better life.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Tips for Unplugging

Monday, October 20th, 2014

1. Get some peace and quiet!

For countless generations the ambient noise was rain, wind and people talking. Now the soundtrack is full-spectrum, un-decodable. From the dull roar of rush-hour traffic to the buzz of your monitor, various kinds of noise (blue, white, black) are continuously seeping into our brains. And the volume is constantly being cranked up. Two, perhaps three generations have already become stimulation-addicted. Can’t work without background music. Can’t jog without earphones. Can’t sleep without an iPhone tucked under the pillow. The essence of our postmodern age may be found in this kind of incessant brain buzz. Like living next to a freeway – you get used to it, but at a severely diminished level of mindfulness and well-being.

Quiet feels foreign now, but quiet could be just what we need. Silence may be to a healthy mind what clean air and water are to a healthy body. In a cleaner, quieter mental environment, we may find our mood calming and depression lifting.

2. Ignore the messages!

From the moment you fall asleep, micro-jolts of commercial pollution flow into your brain at the rate of about 3,000 marketing messages per day. Every day, it is estimated 12 billion display ads, three million radio commercials, more than 200,000 TV commercials and an unknown number of online ads and spam emails are dumped into our collective unconscious. Corporate advertising is the single largest psychological experiment ever carried out. Yet, its impact on us remains unstudied and largely unknown.

3. Unplug!

What began as an exhilarating romp has become a daily compulsion. Smart phones, netbooks and computers now keep us constantly online. While waiting in line at the supermarket or enjoying an evening walk or reading a book or even sitting at a concert, we keep texting our friends and receiving quick Twitter updates. We are drowning in an endless stream of connectivity. And future generations may be even more wired.

Our online lives may now be impairing our ability to follow a sustained line of thought, to think deeply about something and maybe even to reach “the heights of ecstasy and the depths of tragedy” in our creative lives. We may be suffering from the infodisease. Nicholas Carr,”Over the past few years, I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory… what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”

4. Realize the joy in your life!

Your children. Your partner. Your brother, sister, parents, grandparents. Your pets, plants, church, planet…..whatever connects you to other living things. Whatever connects you to the natural, energy giving, love filling aspects of life. Revel in the beauty of being with those you love!

It’s not too late – UNPLUG!

Start here to gain that competitive edge: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Boosting Productivity – It’s About Time

Monday, March 17th, 2014

One of the most valuable assets you have as a leader is your time. The same goes for your Team, your colleagues, your family, and for that matter, your entire social network. Unfortunately, we don’t give it the same level of attention as we do to the myriad of other things we do in our lives. So time just kind of slips by, and we do not maximize our use of it, or our impact.

Over the coming weeks, I am going to provide a number of positive action steps for you to choose from to help you regain control of your time. Not all at once, as big lists tend to overwhelm us.

I suggest you review the following, and select five or six of these steps a week and include at least one in your Daily Planner List. Think about what it means to accomplish this step in your mastering of time. Another idea, is to keep track of where your time kind of slips away on you over the next couple weeks. You might be surprised…maybe even horrified.

Preoccupation … Alertness … Energizing

1. Cultivate observation

2. Perform tasks faster

3. Think with pencil in hand

4. Periodically remind yourself to “Think Alertly”

5. Do the job right the first time

6. Reduce preoccupation time

7. Locate energy losses

8. Unblock natural drive by doing what you enjoy

9. Establish a balanced exercise program

10. Be highly selective in what you read

11. Set up a systematic program for reading

12. Double your speed of reading

13. Read a book like a newspaper

14. Do one thing at a time

15. Always have a high priority job with you for when you have unexpected free time

16. Keep a writing pad accessible. Draw pictures/diagrams as you explain a point to visitors

17. Replace writing letters longhand with a dictating machine

18. Dictate letters into a machine instead of directly to a secretary

19. If possible, move your home closer to work, or work closer to home, to reduce commuting time

20. Instead of bringing two or three individuals in from different parts of the country for a brief meeting, set up a “conference call”

21. When explaining an unfamiliar point, make comparisons

22. Be aware of when you are tapering off from peak levels of performance. At that point, shift to another vital priority be on time to meetings, appointments and scheduled events

23. Reduce the overlong visitor stay

24. Reduce the overlong telephone call

25. Accumulate telephone calls and handle them at a time when the chance of getting through is most likely

26. If you have a secretary, use him/her to screen incoming telephone calls and drop-in visitors

27. When a visitor stay is too long, have a co-worker or secretary interrupt you

28. Establish an appropriate balance between vocational work and management work

29. Retire early and rise early

30. Get the necessary sleep each night, but no more than is necessary

31. Be sensitive to the vital priorities of others around you

Let’s make time our friend – not our enemy by using it wisely. Stay tuned, I will provide a few more productivity tips in the coming weeks.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Resolving Conflict – A Leadership Strength

Monday, March 10th, 2014

In order to achieve success in our business and career, we need to work effectively with people. Do you find yourself approaching conflicts like this:

• I’ll be really easy to get along with once you people realize I’m right.

• You sound reasonable. It must be time to up my medication.

Managing and resolving conflict can be tricky, frustrating, and even frightening. It requires emotional maturity, self-control, and empathy. You can ensure that the process is as positive as possible by sticking to the following helpful conflict resolution guidelines:

• Make the relationship your priority. Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than “winning” the argument, should always be your first priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint.

• Focus on the present. If you’re holding on to old hurts and resentments, your ability to see the reality of the current situation will be impaired. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the here and now to solve the problem.

• Pick your battles. Conflicts can be draining, so it’s important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy. Maybe you don’t want to surrender a parking space if you’ve been circling for 15 minutes. But if there are dozens of spots, arguing over a single space isn’t worth it.

• Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.

• Know when to let something go. If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.

Communication Points to Remember

7% of your communications in a face to face situation are accomplished through the words that you use.

38% of your communications are conveyed by your voice (pace, tone, pitch, timbre, volume).

55% of your communications are conveyed (primarily at the unconscious level) by your body language.

Voice and body language are controlled by your state (a soup of your attitudes, world view, intentions, and emotions).

Helpful Questions to Ask

If we’re sure a conversation is going to be tough, it’s instinctive to rehearse what we’ll say. But a difficult conversation is not a performance, with an actor and an audience. Once you’ve started the discussion, your counterpart could react in any number of ways – and having a “script” in mind will hamper your ability to listen effectively and react accordingly. Instead, prepare by asking yourself:

1. What is the problem?

2. What would my counterpart say the problem is?

3. What’s my preferred outcome?

4. What’s my preferred working relationship with my counterpart?

You can also ask the other person to do the same in advance of your meeting.

Optimists tend to assume that every disagreement is just a misunderstanding between two well-intentioned people; pessimists may feel that differences of opinion are actually ill-intentioned attacks. In the fog of a hard talk, we tend to forget that we don’t have access to anyone’s intentions but our own. Remember that you and your counterpart are both dealing with this ambiguity. If you get stuck, a handy phrase to remember is, “I’m realizing as we talk that I don’t fully understand how you see this problem.” Admitting what you don’t know can be a powerful way to get a conversation back on track.

Resolving conflict starts with a sincere desire to achieve a win-win situation. If you keep that in mind, both of you will.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Being Unconnected in a Connected World.

Friday, November 5th, 2010

I always found Andy Rooney’s (CBS 60 minutes) comments interesting. He liked to point out that despite their best efforts, people would end up with the opposite of what they were trying to achieve. Like the terms government intelligence – we don’t seem to have any, or tax-free benefits – so why do we need to pay taxes to get them. We seem to have the same problem in our Web 2.0 connected world.

It seems odd that with all the communication and information technology at our fingertips, living in a 24/7 world, we have become estranged from the very people who are essential to our success. It reminds me of the book, Women are from Venus, Men from Mars. Not sure I can solve that problem, but I think I can shed some light on us getting truly connected.

The emergence of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, My Space, etc.) points out the desire to connect, to be heard and to get an appropriate response.

  • Voters made their voice heard in the last election to a congress and administration that has gone astray.
  • Customers vote with their dollars and quickly move away from companies with inconsistent brand image, who lose touch with poor design, quality and service.
  • Employees no longer desire management, but require leadership and connection. It is said that employees don’t quit companies, they quit their bosses. Too often they work to survive, yet we were made to thrive.

When executives lose focus on their customers (reason they are in business) and connection to their employees (the strength and vitality of their business) they have lost their way and begin the inevitable decline into mediocrity. While man has developed technology, unimaginable to people even a generation ago, it is still the need for close interaction and connection that satisfies the deepest need – “you are important to me.”

There is a lesson to be learned as to why small business and entrepreneurs foster innovation and create jobs while big business struggles in this regard. It begins with connection – to an unmet need, focus on delighting the customer, a bond with their employees that they are making a difference.

Connection – the old fashioned way.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2010. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Be as Great as You can Be

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Henri Nouwen, a famous writer, moved in the exalted circles of Harvard, Yale and Notre Dame. Yet one day, he came to believe that these settings did not – for him – call forth the person God intended him to be. So he spent the last decade of his life caring for the physically and mentally challenged residents of a small community called L’Arche. He wrote,

“Spiritual greatness has nothing to do with being greater than others. It has everything to do with being as great as each of us can be.”

It is my hope that the following thoughts and ideas will help you grow and flourish, so that you and others can be encouraged, your family and organization can thrive in ways they otherwise would not, and that you in turn would become the person the Creator designed you to be. Share the gift you were made to give with the rest of us, and begin to create a brighter future.