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Curiosity cat

Curiosity is a…curious thing. It’s a personality trait that is often overlooked. It’s easy to measure intelligence, and there are several tests that can more or less determine your EQ (emotional quotient), but how do you measure curiosity?

Even though it’s not easy to measure, we shouldn’t brush aside curiosity. Various studies have shown that certain personality attributes associated with curiosity are linked to career and life success. Here are a few ways that having a curious personality can bolster your success:

Better Relationships

Curious people are typically good listeners and are great at asking questions. They genuinely want to know about the person sitting across from them and learn about their experiences.

A Happier You

According to Emily Campbell of Berkeley University, research has shown curiosity to be “associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, more satisfaction with life, and greater psychological well-being.”

It Helps You Learn

Curious people ask questions and tend to be more engaged with new material that comes their way. This leads to higher academic achievement, as well as greater learning, engagement, and performance at work.

It Triumphs Over Anxieties

Even if you’re a naturally anxious person, curiosity can help you overcome your fears. By taking a genuine interest in the world around you, you set yourself up to enjoy new experiences, instead of shying away from them.

The overall lesson: DO let your curiosity get the better of you! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, take unexplored paths, and put yourself in the middle of a new experience. Your natural curiosity will help you succeed in the workplace and in your personal life. What would you like to learn today?

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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Don't lie to yourself. You CAN keep your New Year's resolution! Image courtesy of careersingovernment.com

Don’t lie to yourself. You CAN keep your New Year’s resolution! Image courtesy of careersingovernment.com

It happens to all of us, doesn’t it? We start out the new year with the best of intentions: “I’m going to exercise and eat better!” “I’m going to get more sleep!” “I’m going to learn another language!” But by week 3 or 4, we start to lose steam. Then, February hits and the resolutions of the month before begin to fade. By mid-February, most people have given up their resolutions and carry on as normal…

It doesn’t have to be that way! You CAN keep your resolutions; you CAN make permanent life changes this coming year. How? Here are four steps to set you up for success, but ultimately it all boils down to you. Do you want to succeed? Do you want to make a long-term difference? Then you can, and you will. Let’s get started…

1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

You might have lofty goals (and I’d certainly like you to achieve them!), but it is crucial to be realistic. Don’t resolve to go to the gym every day, only eat fruits and vegetables, and cut out television entirely if you don’t think those goals are sustainable. Don’t aim to go “all out” for a month, and then crash back into your old habits. It’s much better to work towards something (i.e. start by going to the gym twice a week, and then increase your attendance as the year goes on) then to plunge in and back out again.

2. Break your goal into twelve parts

A year may seem like a long time, but a month goes by in the blink of an eye. If you have a substantial goal for the new year, break your goal into smaller pieces so that you feel a sense of accomplishment each month. For instance, if you’d like to write a book this year, make a plan like this:

January: Complete book outline and attend one writing class

February: Write chapter one; attend one writing class

March: Write chapter two

ETC.

Don’t forget to reward yourself in some small way after you achieve your monthly goal!

3. Hold yourself accountable

There are a few ways to check in on your goal progress. One effective method that I’ve used is to enlist the help of an “accountability partner.” This is a person who will check in on you every once in a while and make sure you’re on track. This could be a close friend, your mother, a co-worker, etc.–someone who isn’t afraid to keep you on the ball. In turn, you can offer to be their accountability partner.

If you’re a more private person and would prefer to tackle your resolution solo, consider setting up a series of notifications in your Google calendar, iCalendar, or whatever program you prefer. Create an event that says something like, “Have you completed X this week? Keep going!” and set a notification to remind you of the “event.” These regular check-ins will help keep your resolution top-of-mind. Just be sure they aren’t so frequent that you’ll simply delete them without a second glance.

4. Make your game plan

Really, this should be step number one, but I’m closing the list with this one so that it’s the first thing you do when you finish reading this post. MAKE A GAME PLAN. Don’t go into the new year with a vague resolution and no idea how you’ll achieve it. Take the time to sit and reflect about your goal. Ask yourself why you want to make a positive change in your life and then ask yourself how you are going to make that change. The how is important. This is where all the action comes into play. How will you reach your goal this year? What steps will you take? How will you accomplish those steps. Only by really thinking about the logistics of your resolution will you be able to achieve it successfully. By crafting a game plan (and posting it somewhere that you can see if every day), you’ll start to turn a vague wish into a reality.

Start today! The new year is coming up and I’d love for you to dive into it with confidence, knowing that you have the tools to achieve great things this year.

If you’d like additional help creating a road map for this year, please give me a call anytime and we can discuss your strategy.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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I found this photo through a website called the Mankind Project and I just had to share. This gets to the heart of the holiday season: it’s not about the stuff. It’s about filling your spirit with joy and positivity, serving others, and being present. Sounds like a great holiday season to me! How do you plan to engage others, serve your community, or foster personal growth over the upcoming weeks? How can you sustain that positive spirit and willingness to give over the next year?

A BETTER To-Do List, Photo Courtesy of The Mankind Project

A BETTER To-Do List, Photo Courtesy of The Mankind Project

 

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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SimonSinek_bio

Simon Sinek, photo credit: StartWithWhy.com

How can you get one person to act? How about a bunch of people? How about an entire movement? Great leaders can inspire this kind of action. They lead revolutions and motivate people to buy their products. There is something different and powerful about great leaders. What is it?

Leadership expert Simon Sinek attempts to explain.

“People don’t buy what you do,” Sinek said in a recent TED Talk, “they buy why you do it.” You have to believe in your product or cause so deeply that it inspires others to believe as well. It’s the principle that Martin Luther King Jr. used in his activism. As Sinek says, Dr. King had an “I have a dream” speech, not an “I have a plan” speech.

If you’re not driven by belief and you don’t know why you do what you do, why would anyone else buy into what you do?

The principle makes sense and has been proven over and over again, from Apple to the Wright Brothers. If you have a few minutes, I highly recommend watching Sinek’s TED Talk. It will make you ask yourself, “Why do I do what I do?”

Happy watching:

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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the power of laughter

The power of laughter, demonstrated in a photo booth. Photo Credit: Bubble Gum Photo Booths

Combat stress! We live in a stressful world. Recent research from the American Psychological Association shows that the majority of Americans experience significant amounts of stress. In a 2014 survey, 67% of those surveyed reported experiencing emotional symptoms of stress and 72% reported experiencing physical symptoms of stress.

One great way to fight your stress is through the power of laughter.

I attended a Brave New Workshop (BNW) class several months ago and one of the subjects they addressed was laughter. BNW is an improvisation group that works with people to boost confidence, connectivity, mental agility, and attitudes. Throughout their classes, you’ll often hear groups roaring with laughter. This isn’t an accident.

According to a publication put out by BNW, “Laughter is a powerful tool in helping individuals move away from fear and into discovery.” In a recent study, researchers from Loma University showed that laughter reduces cortisol, thus reducing stress. Other researchers have shown similar results of the stress-decreasing quality of laughter and have paired it with improved immune system response.

So, watch a funny movie, go to a humorous play, play an interactive board or card game with friends, or take an improv class. Begin to see the funny side of life 🙂

 

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, LICENSED INSIGHTS DISCOVERY PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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There are several components that make up an authentic leader. The model below shows some of the basic elements that are needed to create an excellent leader. It’s good to have a healthy amount of each of these qualities, although no one is perfect and one or two might slip from time to time. Study the model and ask yourself, “What am I doing well and what do I need to improve?” Make an action plan.

anatomy of an authentic leader

 

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, LICENSED INSIGHTS DISCOVERY PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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be yourself oscar wilde

I sometimes get the question: “Margaret, what is the most important attribute of a good leader?”

This question is a tough one. There are a lot of factors that make up an excellent leader: trust, self-confidence, good communication skills. In fact, I talk about my top ten attributes in my book, the Ten Minute Leadership Challenge. But the one thing at the heart of it all is AUTHENTICITY.

You have to be an authentic leader before anything else. You need to know yourself, your values, how you work, and who you are before you can even consider leading others. Authenticity means having a deep understanding of your inner self and not compromising your deeply held values. Sure, you can adapt to different situations and show different sides of yourself at different times (i.e. a more casual side at home, a more professional side at work), but your core should remain the same.

superheroHow would anyone trust you if you act like one person sometimes and a completely different person at other times? What would people think if you always agreed with whomever you were speaking, even if their assertions were way off base from what you believe?

Being authentic should be part of your personal brand. Show up, be yourself, and take a genuine interest in those around you.

I’ve been evaluating and interviewing Millennials lately for my forthcoming book, and I’ve found that authenticity is just as important as ever in the workplace. Millennials look for candid, authentic leadership that they can trust.

Furthermore, with the popularity of social media, your comments and photos are everywhere. Yes, you should be your authentic self on the web, but you should be your BEST authentic self. Let your funny or intellectual or caring side shine!

You’ll find that being your best authentic self is a heck of a lot easier than significantly modifying your behavior and beliefs whenever you’re with a different group of people. When people say, “your reputation proceeds you,” you should know that is a good thing.

Tune in next week for the UXL Authentic Leader Model.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, LICENSED INSIGHTS DISCOVERY PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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