Thursday, March 17, 2016

Skills > Training

Skills to learn that pay dividends forever, another article by Travis Bradberry for LinkedIn. The further along you are in your career, the easier it is to fall back on the mistaken assumption that you’ve made it and have all the skills you need to succeed. The tendency is to focus all your energy on getting the job done, assuming the rest will take care of itself. Big mistake.
A study was conducted with people who were struggling with their job performance. One group was taught to perform better on a task they performed poorly in. The second group received a completely different intervention: for the task that they performed poorly in, they were taught that they weren’t stuck and that improving their performance was a choice. They discovered that learning produces physiological changes in the brain, just like exercises changes muscles. All they had to do was believe in themselves and make it happen.  
When the two groups’ performance was reassessed a few months later, the group that was taught to perform the task better had done even worse. The group that was taught that they had the power to change their brains and improve their performance themselves improved dramatically.
The takeaway: never stop learning. The moment we think we are who we are is the moment we give away unrealized potential. When we stop we give away our unrealized potential. The act of learning is every bit as important as what you learn. Dedicate yourself to learning skills that will yield the greatest benefit.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Bradberry’s sweet spot. The intangible in each of us. How we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. The ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships. What sets star performers from the rest of the pack. Increasing EQ makes you happier and less stressed.
Time management. What gets in the way: the tyranny of the urgent. Put in the big rocks first and then fill in with pebbles and sand – do the most important things first, and then the smaller things if you still have time.
Listening. Focusing solely on what the other person is saying, instead of thinking what I’m got to say next. It’s about understanding, not rebuttal. Learn how to suspend judgment and focus on understanding what the other person is saying. Failing to keep your ears and eyes open could leave you out of the game.
Saying no. The more difficulty you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and depression. Avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” and I’m not certain” – they only make things harder. Saying no frees you up for more important things.
Asking for help. Critical because the last thing a leader wants is people headed down the wrong path because they’re too proud or embarrassed to admit they don’t know what they’re doing.
Getting high quality sleep. This gives your brain time to remove toxins. Without proper sleep your ability to process information and solve problems is diminished. Creativity is hampered and emotions are on edge.
Knowing when to shut up. Unloading may feel good temporarily. Afterwards all you have is damaged relationships. When you learn to read and respond to your emotions you are able to choose your battles more wisely and stand your ground when the time is right. Most of the time that means biting your tongue.
Taking the initiative. In theory its easy, but in the real world things get in the way. You have to take risks and push yourself out of your comfort zone, until taking initiative is second nature.
Staying positive (tough for me). Also harder in the real world. Our brains are hard-wired to look for and focus on threats. Today this breeds pessimism and negativity. Maintaining positivity is a daily challenge that requires focus and attention.

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