Personal Growth

Notes from Less Is More: Simple Productivity Hacks

This past weekend I attended the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. One of the sessions I attended on Sunday was Less Is More: Simple Productivity Hacks presented by Julia Roy (@juliaroy). For those who missed the session, my notes are below. For more productivity hacks, check out Julia’s web site. Continue reading >

How To Write a (Useful) Blog Post in 30 Minutes

This week I launched a new blog called Lean Decisions to help people make better decisions. In preparing for the launch, I wrote a month’s backlog of articles by writing one post a day. Since I have limited time, I had to learn how to write fast. Keep reading to see what I learned.

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How to Express Appreciation

Do you tell others often how much you appreciate them? Does it come across sincere?

I struggled in the past with expressing appreciation. Especially with employees, but also with loved ones, colleagues and even strangers.

I aim to get things done. Once I complete a task or project, I’m onto the next one. I used to forget to stop and appreciate the people and things around me. To take a moment and express a heartfelt thanks.

And even when I did, it often felt empty. I knew I needed to appreciate my employees, and I did. But I didn’t do it effectively. I just said “thanks”, and left it at that.

For my Leadership Asheville class, we each had to choose a personal development goal. I chose to learn how to appreciate and encourage others more. Read on for some of the lessons I learned over the past year.
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1 Motto + 7 Verbs for 2012

Each year, as the old year winds down and a new year leaps excitedly at us, I set aside time for introspection. To review the past year and envision the new year. In the past, I set goals for each year, as many of us do. I’d type my New Year’s resolutions and post them on the wall. Then promptly go about not fulfilling them.

Three years ago I started making a new type of New Year’s resolution. Rather than focus on goals, I focused on behaviors. I set specific, measurable activities I needed to perform on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I then tracked how I was doing in a spreadsheet.

For the most part, this worked. I now exercise daily, eat healthier and write regularly. I’ve lost weight, developed better friendships and am overall much happier.

Due to some major life changes, though, I stopped consistently tracking my resolutions in early 2011. Surprisingly, it hasn’t affected my activities–they’ve become habits, not just resolutions.

Thus, this year, I’m trying something new again. Instead of behavior-based resolutions, I’m choosing a motto as an overarching theme and 7 verbs that I aim to explore this year. I have thoughts in mind on how to explore these, but am purposely leaving myself open to experimentation.
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Can Character Be Taught?

If you could teach people to learn better in school, be more effective at work, have a stronger marriage and live a happier life, would you?

In 2004, Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman published Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification, a compendium of 24 character strengths that ancient thinkers, spiritual leaders and modern psychologists all agree lead to a good life.

Since then, research has shown being strong in one or more of these character strengths can help:

  • Increase meaning, engagement and pleasure in life
  • Reduce the negative effects of physical & psychological disorders
  • Improve academic achievement
  • Make teachers & cadets more effective
  • Reduce the effects of stress & trauma
  • Increase overall happiness & life satisfaction

Based on my own experience, strengths like perseverance, optimism and creativity also help entrepreneurs grow businesses, employees perform better and marriages flourish.

Moreover, these character strengths can be taught and improved upon.

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3 Keys To Getting Organized

My office was getting disorganized, with papers spread all over the place. So yesterday I took a couple hours to clean up and organize. I used three key principles that I learned years ago. I apply these whenever I organize files, tasks or physical items. Continue reading >

What Drives You: Emptiness or Fulfillment?

What drives you? The present or the future? What you lack or what you could become? Envy or ambition? Pain or pleasure?

Friday I read a blog post with the premise that innovation and success require first being unhappy or dissatisfied. I had a similar conversation with a friend this weekend.

Now I won’t claim that dissatisfaction and unhappiness can’t be powerful drivers for change. But a requirement for change? I disagree.

Change, action, innovation, success, whatever you call it, can be driven by emptiness or fulfillment. By moving away from the past or by moving toward the future. It can be a push away from unhappiness or a pull toward mastery and perfection.

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The Science of Happiness Reading List

Tonight I am hosting a TEDxAsheville Salon, presenting Martin Seligman’s excellent video on positive psychology. Afterwards we’ll discuss the video. If you’re in Asheville, you should attend.

Positive psychology studies happiness and well-being. Unlike much of psychology (but not all), it studies people who are not feeling depressed, suicidal, addicted or schizophrenic. It studies those feeling elated and satisfied with their lives.

But why?

To learn what makes people happy and to teach others to be happy.

The secret: happiness can be learned. It can be increased by practicing specific techniques, similar to how muscles grow from strength training exercises (and just like muscles, happiness is partly genetic).

Over the past year, I’ve been reading about positive psychology, well-being and happiness. As a followup to TEDxAsheville Salon tonight, I’ve collected links and resources I’ve bookmarked on the science of happiness below. Please enjoy. Continue reading >

9 Awesome TED Talks

TEDxAsheville has started a weekly salon series showcasing awesome TED talks, with discussion afterwards about the talk.

In honor of my friend Pam Lewis choosing the talk for this week’s salon, I’m posting 9 TED talks that were just awesome. If you live in Asheville, register for the TEDxAsheville Salon or stop by Posana Cafe Thursdays from 5:00pm – 6:30pm.

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4 Video Sites For Daily Learning

I love to learn new things every day. It generates a constant stream of ideas and helps me improve personally and professionally.

My favorite new way of learning is watching videos on my iPad while doing chores or relaxing. Tablets are portable and can stood up on a countertop or table to make watching videos easy and hands-free. I bought the Logitech Z515 wireless speaker to overcome the noise of loud chores.

What do I watch?

  • TED - Talks
    Always informative, often entertaining. Search by keyword, topic or feeling. Use “Show by length” to find talks that match the length of your chore.
  • AppSumo
    If you’re in the tech/startup world, AppSumo has great deals on training videos. I grab all the free deals and occasionally buy deals. So far I haven’t been disappointed in anything I’ve watched.
  • Mind Tools – Videos
    For professional development, Mind Tools can’t be beat. Their articles teach everything from leadership to project management to decision making. I just discovered the videos, so don’t know yet the quality of those.
  • YouTube – How To Channel
    Search for videos using the keywords “how to”, “learn to”, “instructions”, “tutorial” and “lesson”. Combine with the keywords of your interests to find online training videos. Or surf the YouTube How To channel

Do you watch online videos to learn daily? Where have you found great videos?

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