Monday, November 25, 2013

Using Mindfulness to Get Your Priorities Straight

Ever feel like you are in one place but you really need to be in another?  You have that 'to-do' list that as you cross one thing off, two more things are added and it keeps growing?  And you can't get it off your mind?  You wish you could be in two places at once.

Mindfulness teaches us to be present and to be where we are.  It teaches us to leave the past and future thoughts and get the most out of what you are doing at the present moment.  And that's one way of dealing with the problem of not being able to focus in the present moment.

However, when you really are not getting your priorities addressed, you are probably in the wrong place.  Being mindful will also help you know when you are in the wrong place and get to the right place.

I don't claim to be perfectly mindful.  Nor do I claim to be 100% dedicated to my meditation practice. But because of my practice and knowledge, I know when I need to step back and get re-aligned. When I'm not being fully present, I usually realize it pretty quickly and get mindfully present.  I highly recommend it for an amazing life and business with amazing results.  Lately, though, I've been losing sight of my priorities.  And the universe has a funny way of showing us when things are out of whack!

A lot of external demands are getting my attention lately.  One of those is my 2 1/2 year old waking almost every night again for about a month, hence, I'm working on less sleep and  much less deep sleep - which is what we require for our cognitive function to be at its best.  That one can't really be controlled - except that I need to get to bed earlier (which is a blog in itself!).

However, I also have had other demands that I've been giving my attention to - others wanting to meet, the feeling that I must be networking all the time, responding to emails as soon as possible, the ever lengthening list of newsletters I must read, taking care of my family, being there for my friends in need - you know that list.  Well, yeah, my list is looking like this lately.  And if I wasn't going to do something about it, the universe was.

Last night, I had an awful dream and woke with a feeling that I couldn't shake.  I had a 9:00 full-day networking event scheduled, I had to pack for a trip I'm leaving for tomorrow, and I have at least four items on my list that I must get done before I leave.  I managed to get my daughter to daycare (my hubby is traveling for work) and arrive just a few minutes into the 9:00 session.  I sat through the first session trying desperately to pay attention but my mind wandered to my 'to-do' list. Knowing I have full control of my thoughts, I began to practice accepting that I have a lot to do and I'm here now so be here.

I managed to get through the morning, but I was almost forcing my pitch to potential clients.  I certainly was not in the right head space.  Then, I found out that I was on the list for pitching my business one on one to potential clients for the afternoon.  Last week, my printer broke, and I did not get my brochures printed for this event - however, I was OK with that because I didn't think I was on that list!  I took a moment to think about what would happen if I pitched my business without feeling prepared.  And I decided to give up my coveted seat for the afternoon session to someone on the wait-list.  I was feeling guilty while driving home, my mind was in the clouds, and I was stopped by a police officer for speeding!  Yes!  I got a ticket!

I really need to be in the office right now.  I need to take care of business.  I need to focus.  I need to clear off my desk.  Although all of the things demanding my attention are important, my priorities lie at taking care of other things, including taking care of my sleep!

Being mindful is not woo-woo and fluff.  In fact, it's as practical as it gets.  When you are mindful, you inquire about your feelings and thoughts.  When mind wandering started for me this morning (and recent weeks), I questioned what was going on for me to be unable to focus.  Lack of sleep was the first answer, of course.  But I continued to dig and got to the real answers - for me it is literally to spend time in the office getting things done and stop feeling guilty about not networking enough.. When you have the real answers, you can find the solutions that really work, rather than the band-aid ones.

If your list is growing and you really feel you are in the wrong place, try closing your eyes, pay attention to the feeling and sound of your breath, and question - what do you really need to be doing in order to enable yourself to feel present in your life?  What is the ONE thing you can do that will make a big difference to your focus and productivity?  Then do that.  Scratch off all the things that aren't real priorities and get your priorities straight.  And while you're at it, spend a little time meditating - because that will help you feel better in all ways.

Tina Pomroy uses mindfulness as a tool for managers, leaders, and business owners to be highly productive, lead high performing teams, and experience peace and happiness at work and in life.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hire Higher

So many people have asked me how to hire the right people that will stay.  There are many solutions for attraction and retention challenges, and the right one for you depends on your culture and current practices.  However, finding the right person will depend on being the right environment.

I recently heard about a young woman interviewed at a photography studio.  She is a smart, enthusiastic young lady with a strong work ethic who gets enjoyment out of serving customers with excellence.  When she was called to be interviewed that same day, she cancelled an appointment in order to prepare for the interview.  She was excited to potentially have her first job as a photographer - she'd already taken courses, had fun with the camera, given all of her friends and family the gift of photography, and was ready for a paid photography experience.

The young woman was seated in the customer area when she arrived... and that's where she stayed for an hour.  The interviewer joined her for a few minutes to give her forms to complete and left her again. When the interviewer returned, she asked about hours of availability, and then, "Do you want the job?"  The young lady said yes.  The interviewer then proceeded to tell her about all of the awful job applicants she had received and the problems they have with recruitment and retention.  Customers were in ear shot and the other employees carried on with each other having fun.... but in an unprofessional manner.  All of this was noted by the young woman being interviewed.

The young woman accepted the job... with a caveat she didn't share with the interviewer.  She was accepting the position to gain experience, and then she would leave.  She had no intention of working in such an unprofessional environment for a long period of time.  She valued excellence in customer service and wanted to work in an environment that also valued that kind of excellence.

This is not the first time I've heard a story like this.

If you want to hire 'higher'.... give your current management and employees the skills required to perform higher.  Create a professional workplace that people with the right skills will want to work in... and stay working in.  If you want to hire a person with excellence in specific skills or attitudes, make sure your workplace IS that first.

Excellence in management and leadership is the first requirement to hire higher.  Finding and keeping the right person for the job is about first having an environment that person wants to work in.

Start cultivating excellence among your current team, and the right people will begin to show up... and will be more likely to stay.