Human survival used to depend on being aware of everything around us, from predators to deadly weather. These days the “threat” is a constant flood of information. More texts and emails. More calls. More news. More entertainment. More everything. The result? We are trying to pay attention to so many things that we are losing the ability to focus for long on anything. According to one study, the average person loses concentration after eight seconds. A goldfish’s attention span is nine seconds. The ability to maintain attention is key to decision-making and performance. Research has found a correlation between focus and career advancement. Here are five tips to improve your focus skills:
In our last FISH! blog we explored how to mindfully Choose Your Attitude. In Part 2, we shed some new light on a particular attitude: When people say “Choose Your Attitude”, they usually mean, “Choose a Positive Attitude!” It can feel like an accusation or an order. What if you’re not naturally outgoing or you don’t have a sparkling smile? If you take care of your customers and get your work done, does it matter how you do it?
Job skills are critical for success. Attitude may be more important. More and more companies consider a prospect’s attitude at least as essential as education and skills. This trend is growing as the pace of change accelerates. To these employers, it makes more sense to hire people who are positive, collaborative and adaptable vs. someone who is hard to work with and resistant to change—and whose present skills, however considerable, may soon be obsolete anyway. If certain attitudes are vital to success, where do they come from? Are you born with them? Or can you develop them, like any other skill?
We all experience stress. But sometimes, like a leaky pipe that eventually bursts from pressure, the stress turns into burnout. Regular stress and burnout exhibit many of the same symptoms, such as exhaustion, anxiety, and trouble sleeping and eating. But where stress feels temporary, burnout feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. You feel empty and used up. You can’t concentrate. You get no pleasure from activities you used to enjoy. You may feel disconnected from people you love. Burnout has many causes, such as marriage problems or caring for an aging parent. Work burnout is especially common. According to Gallup, 23 percent of people say they feel burned out at work often and 63 percent feel burned out sometimes. The result is low morale, high turnover and poor performance. What can you do if you’re feeling burned out at work? Here are nine things you can do to help yourself and others find relief:
Looking for better teamwork and performance? Try empathy. Empathy is the ability—and willingness to try—to understand the feelings of others. It means seeing their point of view, not just yours. When people feel understood, they are more willing to listen and collaborate. They feel safer to test new ideas. They handle change and bounce back more quickly from challenges. Surveys show 80 percent of CEOs believe empathy is key to success. Their employees feel more strongly, with 96 percent saying empathy at work is essential.
As the school year wraps up, take a moment to remember your favorite teachers. They didn’t just teach you about academics. They taught you about life. They inspired you to want to learn. They showed you how to work successfully with others. We’ve met many dedicated educators who use the FISH! Philosophy to improve the lives of their students. Here are 4 lessons we can apply to our adult lives:
The Greek philosopher Aristotle had a foolproof strategy to avoid criticism. The answer, he said, was “saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” None of us gets through life without being criticized, whether it’s by parents, teachers, friends, bosses, coworkers or spouses. Some differentiate criticism from feedback. They say criticism implies judgment, while feedback is about looking for a solution. A good distinction, but feedback often contains elements of criticism. And criticism can be delivered with the most caring intentions.
Human beings, like all animals in communities, are wired to feel what people around them are feeling. It’s an evolutionary trait: When a cave dweller anticipated a threat, the sooner other tribe members picked up on those perceptions, the safer they’d all be. It works much the same today, except the threats aren’t woolly mammoths. Our stresses come from being asked to do more with less. Information overload. Fear of mistakes. Tension with coworkers. Possible layoffs. It’s estimated up to 50 percent of employees view work as the main source of stress in their lives. That means you or the person working next to you is probably feeling overwhelmed. Inevitably one of you will start to feel it too.
Was that a stuffed fish flying through the air? Todd Wilkins couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Todd was in Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s Hospital) in Chicago with his four-year-old son, Michael, who was being treated for neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. Todd was watching Michael on the overnight shift. Usually a confident person, tonight he was feeling nervous and unprepared. As Michael slept, Todd left the room to ask the nurses a question. He turned the corner and saw a nurse toss a stuffed Pete the Perch to a coworker.
In last month’s blog, we kicked off our 20 Years of FISH! celebration with memorable quotes from people who have used the philosophy to improve their lives. This month we explore another great FISH! insight: “To change an organization, you’ve got to change yourself. As I work on myself I find I have a bigger impact on people than when I was trying to work on them.” Rob Gregory, owner, Rochester Ford Toyota It’s tempting, especially for leaders, to try to “fix” people—to “improve” them so they do more of what you like and less of what you don’t.