You may know that I have a Masters degree in engineering.
And perhaps you also know that today I essentially help my clients to climb new performance levels - be it as a leader or as a team as a whole.
Of course, this involves a great deal of psychology - which is not exactly a focus of engineering studies.
So how can this be done? Well, quite simply: through a burning interest in psychological relationships (which I already developed as a teenager) and therefore ongoing intensive study of the most important topics.
And here comes the best: Due to my technical background I can pick up rather technically thinking people all the better and accompany them on their way.
I'm not telling this to impress, but to show that often seemingly contradictory topics have the greatest potential for success.
And I also find it exciting how our passions guide us in life.
My question to you: what completely different themes can you bring together so that you can benefit yourself and others? Feel free...
We've all been there (and I certainly have): we put off things that "should" be important and do less important stuff instead.
And please don't pretend that this hasn't happened to you. It really does affect everyone!
Why is it like that? Why do we sabotage ourselves? Why do we leave things undone when we know perfectly well that it needs to be done anyway?
Well, the answers to these questions fill entire bookshelves and video platforms. So it seems relevant.
The problem: most advice focuses on techniques to stop procrastination. That's all well and good, but there are root causes underlying the phenomenon that hardly anyone addresses.
Question for today: What wonderful things are there in your life that you don't appreciate enough?
Here's an off-the-cuff list of simple things that I'm always grateful for (and that many people sadly don't have):
Hot water in the shower in the morning
Incredibly good health care
Buses and trains that you can simply rely on
Walking on the street at night without fear
Respectful interaction with each other
Clean rivers and lakes
The possibility to travel
A heated apartment
Living in freedom
What are your things you are grateful for?
Do you ever catch yourself saying, "I don't have time for that"? Well, you are not alone.
But unfortunately, the statement is simply wrong. Because: You always have enough time. You always find time for the really important things.
You notice this when something unpredictable happens: be it an emergency at home, sick children or a significant problem with a customer.
All of a sudden, we have the time to take care of it. What happened? You reprioritized.
The problem: that prioritization comes from the outside. You are being reactive at this moment.
The best leaders, on the other hand, prioritize proactively. For the most part, they set their own agenda. They determine what is important. And they spend their time accordingly.
I don’t know about you, but most people are good at talking to others and not good at listening. There is an old, yet true leadership advice: to become more influential (hence a better leader, a better parent, a better sales person), start talking less and listening more.
I want to take this a step further: Most people listen too much to themselves and talk too much to others. What do I mean by this? Well, we all listen constantly to our own stories and beliefs that are rooted in our past. This hardwiring in our brain is a survival mechanism, but here comes the twist: It prevents us from growing, and if we talk too much to others instead of listening, it makes it even worse.
“Talking to yourself” means that you consciously choose the thoughts that you want to guide your decisions and actions. As this sounds a bit theoretical, here are...
The best teams in the world - whether in business, sports or elsewhere - don't just happen, they are made.
That's a simple and important insight. Because all too often I speak with leaders who see their team's performance as a given fact rather than an opportunity to shape it.
My thesis, which proves true again and again, is that if the leader really wants it, it is possible to form a top team from any group of people ("fellow workers") in a fairly short time, a team that reliably and joyfully produces top results. I call this a "winning team."
Productivity can be a multiple of the original as an effect, fun is significantly greater, attraction to talent increases, and so on. There are many positive effects that make the journey worthwhile for everyone.
Is that easy? No, of course not! Is it doable? Absolutely.
As with any major transformation in life as in business, there are a number of steps to take to make it happen.
One of the most accomplished management gurus of recent times, Peter Drucker, used to say “First things first. Last things never.” This brings us to the point: don’t prioritize. Instead, simply decide what’s most important and then do it. If you constantly apply this principle in your life, you’ll never have time to do anything of low priority anyway.
I like this observation in any kind of corporate or country culture. I’m writing this memo while on the train from Switzerland to Venice, and for sure, it is clear that many things in Italy are not as clean and well maintained as they are in Switzerland. Instead, people take, on average, more time for personal conversations and other things. This is not about stereotypes, but about different priorities – without forcing any judgment.
I'm always asked how people can tell that they have a "winning team." And related to that, what is the most important difference to a "normal" team.
Well, I define a "winning team" as a team that reliably achieves top results sustainably over a longer period of time while having fun.
Thus, outstanding results are certainly one criterion. But almost more important are characteristics that you sense in your team already on the way to becoming a winning team. Because these often come before the actual results - and also go beyond them.
That could well be a resolution for this year: frustrate other people less.
It may seem a bit negative, but it is positive nonetheless. Because we all frustrate others - and often without realizing it.
This manifests itself in the fact that others avoid us, do not listen to us properly, do things differently than we imagine, and so on.
This issue is as relevant in your family (or have you never frustrated your teenagers, if you have any?) as it is, of course, to your leadership in the professional environment.
For the purists of psychology, here's a clarification: you can't frustrate others directly, but you can certainly influence them so that they become frustrated.
Either way, the crucial question remains:
I always emphasize that the questions we ask are more crucial to our success than the answers.
This is all the more true in leadership. Because by asking questions, you direct thoughts, both in yourself and in others.
There are empowering and disempowering questions. The former make you think about meaningful answers that take us forward. The latter lead to a dead end, because they hardly allow an answer that brings us ahead.
( If you want to practice the technique of asking the right questions, the best way is to come to my coaching. You can find suitable programs here).
Because of the high importance of questions to your own success and the success of your entire team, I recommend that you create a set of empowering questions.
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