Add Some Wisdom to your Wednesday!

Below are some tips we live by and hope you find helpful.

Give LinkedIn a portion of your social media time each week. It may not have the sizzle of Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, but it’s more than just a place to put your resume.

Posting comments or writing articles regularly helps keep you visible in your professional network and can reflect your knowledge and personality. Post about trends you spot or organizations you participate in. Give shout-outs, too.

Join LinkedIn groups to learn from others as you read discussion threads or throw out questions of your own. LinkedIn is also a great place to gain wisdom quickly and easily through your feed from high-profile “infuencers” like Bill Gates or on topic channels such as green business.

You can expect less engagement than on other platforms, but this means your comments, likes and shares will be more appreciated by others.

Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Robert F. Kennedy said, “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”

Imagination is a precious resource. No technology will never be able to replace it.

Cultivate your own imagination and use it

Opportunity is everywhere, if you are genuinely open to finding it. National Geographic Channel’s “Years of Living Dangerously” environmental documentary series, for instance, found an eager collaborator for their serious show in comedian David Letterman. 

How? National Geographic Channel producers detected Letterman’s personal interest in the environment when he interviewed environmental experts on “Late Night.” Asking the comic to become a celebrity correspondent motivated Letterman and was good for the documentary series, too.

Find your own opportunities by watching who’s saying and doing what. Play with ways to connect your observations to the goals your organization’s pursuing. The original thinking this can generate may lead to new successes.

Sometimes in business you just know. It’s not logic, it’s a gut feeling. These reactions often seem like fleeting emotions. It’s tempting to brush them off with logic. But gut feelings come from somewhere real, and they should be respected.

Daniel Goleman, who has studied and written about emotional intelligence in the workplace, explains how our gut feelings reflect our brains and bodies at work. He has said that gut feelings are a form of data inexpressible in words that often guide entrepreneurs’ business decisions.

Are you listening to what your gut feelings are telling you?

Your writing says a lot about you. It reflects your ability to gather, organize, analyze and convey information. Sometimes it represents you when you aren’t physically present, as in a letter or a blog post. For all these reasons, always strive to improve your writing.

Consciously work on strengthening one aspect of your writing at a time over a few weeks. Ask advice from good writers you know.  Learn from books by experts such as Roy Peter Clark. Be sure to keep reading examples of good writing in literature and media, and embrace opportunities to write so your skills stay sharp.

It’s easy to become so engrossed in getting more done that you lose perspective on what you’ve actually accomplished. Making a periodic inventory of achievements breaks that unrewarding cycle.

Every month or two, make an informal written list of your recent responsibilities and assignments. Include items such as research you’ve done, projects you’ve finished, skills you’ve added and other contributions you’ve made. You may be surprised at how much you have actually accomplished in a timespan that at first seemed a blur.

These inventories can be especially helpful when you’d like to get a promotion or a raise or simply if you begin wondering whether you’re making progress. 

Creativity thrives when you dare to be different. Associated Press news photographer Tom Cole’s work is an outstanding example. On NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday in 2015, Cole talked about working in packs of news photographers covering elections. He said he always challenges himself to stand where he is not touching another photographer. That’s how he gets pictures no one else has. Choosing a different vantage point for yourself is one way to see and interpret things in an original way

Networking coffees and other business-related conversations can be so helpful. Still, when you  need to leave for your next appointment, winding the conversation down can feel awkward. Manage the situation with gracious words like “Thank you for spending this time with me, it’s been good to hear your views.” Body language helps, too. Signal you’re ready to stop by putting away your notes and gathering up your things. You’ll find more ways to leave a good impression while also respecting time limitations in this business etiquette column bizwomen.com.

Push past feelings of awkwardness that may prevent you from showing concern for a co-worker facing hard times professionally or personally. Rely on simple gestures. You could drop by your colleague’s desk for a short chat or write a brief note to say you’re mindful of what the other person is going through. Offering a lunch date or a walking break might create some social time that would be calming. If a co-worker is laid off suddenly, you can still write or call them at home to say goodbye and thank you. Steps like these let people know they aren’t alone.

It’s sometimes tempting to give only the merest glance before passing material along to others online. But the people you share with justifiably expect you wouldn’t share content if you didn’t really know what was in it. So share with care.

If you hit “send” too quickly, you may not know there’s something in the piece that could unsettle the colleague or customer receiving it. Just as bad, not previewing fully leaves you vulnerable when the recipient asks your opinion on what you sent. What will you say?

Slow down enough to be thorough so your shares stay helpful to others and reflect well on you.

In my experience, a short walk outdoors is a simple antidote to  writer’s block or bogged down problem-solving. Walking in fresh air breaks the action, changes the scenery and nourishes body and mind with more oxygen. This process lets new thoughts come to the front of your mind spontaneously. Learn more about how a stroll can help you work better in this New Yorker  article. And next time your mind’s in knots, try walking it off.

If you envision an outcome but aren’t sure how to achieve it, don’t drop the idea. Think more flexibly and experiment instead. Experiences along the way will provide insights that will inform your decisions later on.

Reed Hastings, the chairman and chief executive at Netflix, expected the internet would one day compete with cable TV. But he had to experiment over time with what to offer and how to offer it best online. Netflix content shifted from movies to TV dramas, and its delivery system shifted from mailing DVDs to streaming them. Read The New York Times Magazine‘s article about this evolution in thinking.

You know what you mean when you communicate, but are your points getting across consistently? If not, rephrase them so they’re crystal clear. “Everyone must understand your message,” businessman Daniel Ally wrote in an Entrepreneur article about online business and influence. That’s also true in lots of workplace situations including giving assignments, introducing new ideas and managing organizational change. “Always remember that a confused mind always says  ‘No,’ ” Ally warned. A confused mind can also tune out, deliver poor work or block progress. Crystal clear communication, on the other hand, builds understanding that promotes success.

When you delegate, let others do more than check off items on your list. Give them a clear understanding of the goal and allow them enough freedom to take responsibility. Provide them clear guidelines. Pledge to support them along the way. These steps empower your co-workers to get results, according to Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleDelegating like a pro lets others rise to a challenge while freeing you to work on tasks best handled by you.

Old lessons often remain relevant even though we tend to lose focus on some of them over time. Be attentive to this when you advise people with less experience. You may find yourself talking about concepts from your past that could benefit you again now. Make a point of acting on them if you’ve gotten out of the habit.

Dana Brunetti, once actor Kevin Spacey’s executive assistant, is now president of Spacey’s Trigger Street Productions and co-producer of CNN’s “Race for the White House.” In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Spacey said, “I knew early on that he had remarkable potential. He was smart. He was fast. He was able to make clear arguments. He had really interesting taste. And he understood worlds that I didn’t.” Those worlds included social networking, which enabled Brunetti and Spacey to build a successful pipeline for undiscovered writing and filmmaking talent.

Volunteering for assignments, especially the unpopular ones, pays off. It gives you varied new challenges and expands your professional knowledge. Volunteering also shows your employer that you have the flexibility, dedication and loyalty to take on something he or she considers important, even if the task won’t be easy or fun. As Jeff Haden wrote in Inc.com, “The great employee knows that success is based on action, and the more he volunteers, the more he gets to act.”

To stay focused on their highest goals, organizations and teams must balance off “zoom-in” and “zoom-out” perspectives. Zooming-in identifies internal and strengths and needs. Zooming-out reflects your organization’s place in the larger landscape. Make periodic reality checks by comparing and contrasting these views. This thinking guards against tunnel vision and promotes  awareness of shifts in diverse factors that may affect your work such as technology, buying habits, public opinion and demographics.

Taking the initiative to get feedback helps you drive your own professional development, according to Barbara Mistick, a co-author with Karie Willyerd of Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace. Writing in the New York Times, Mistick, president of Wilson College, recommends seeking feedback on big-picture personal priorities through candid conversations with the people at work who know you best. Describing her own experiences, she wrote, “Sure, the comments you hear can be painful. But they help me improve and give me a better shot at reaching my goals.”

Some say the more you fail, the faster you learn. When a project or idea flops, take a deep breath and think through what went awry. Then use what you’ve learned to improve in the future.

 

Lessons drawn from many fields broaden your thinking, and broader thinking can open new opportunities. For example, a multidisciplinary background helped Dr. Yu-Ping Wang, a Tulane University bioengineering professor, win funding for brain research.

“I step out of my own comfort zone,“ he told the Tulane Hullabaloo newspaper. “I talk to people from other disciplines, from neuroscience to biology to genetics to statistics, so I can understand their languages, understand their challenges, and that marries the mathematical and engineering approach with those biomedical challenges.”

This works for non-scientists, too. Try it.

 

Gracefully accepting compliments about your work projects self-confidence. In their book The Confidence Code, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman urge professionals to “develop a sense of your own, well-deserved value to the enterprise.” Kay and Shipman write, “We have to find ways to take in compliments and own our accomplishments rather than relying on dismissals or assertions of luck and self-deprecation.” They recommend responding to a compliment with a simple and empowering “Thank you. I appreciate it.”

 

Give criticism at work politely and constructively. In some businesses harsh, direct criticism is becoming a welcome part of the corporate culture, the press reports. But this confrontational approach runs a high risk of backfiring. It takes courage and character to deliver criticism that will both get results and cultivate trust. Think carefully about when, where and how to describe the problem and the solutions you expect. Because this approach shows respect for others, it is far more likely to produce renewed motivation, better work and loyalty to leaders.

 

Give criticism at work politely and constructively. Harsh, direct criticism is becoming a welcome part of the corporate culture in some businesses, the press reports. But this confrontational approach runs a high risk of backfiring. It takes courage and character to deliver criticism that will both get results and cultivate trust. Think carefully about when, where and how to describe the problem and the solutions you expect. Because this approach shows respect for others, it is far more likely to produce renewed motivation, better work and loyalty to leaders.

 

“There is plenty out there for everybody,” Stephen Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This idea, which he called Abundance Mentality, “results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.” Covey contrasted this with Scarcity Mentality, the view that if one person gets more success, there is less left for others. An outgrowth of Abundance Mentality, he said, is “making things happen together that even the same people couldn’t make happen by working independently.”

Pathways through the beginnings and endings of projects are often much clearer than passages through the messy middle. Delays, surprises and misjudgments are just a few variables that can make the middle unruly and frustrating. Put the frustration in perspective. Recognize that you are simply in the messy middle, a necessary stepping stone on the way to a solid ending. Then keep steering your project to success.

You can anticipate work flows and plan around them by using an annual calendar in addition to your daily one. Try hanging up a poster-style, erasable calendar that shows all 12 months on one surface at a glance. Choose one with squares big enough to write in. Mark it with items you know you’ll encounter like special events, quarterly meetings, major deadlines and travel. Used together, your annual and daily calendars will alert you early to multiple overlapping demands.

Showing your thanks to people nurtures positive working relationships. Even if you led an effort, probably research, responsiveness and cooperation from people at various levels helped. Express your appreciation in a way that suits you and those who assisted you. Some like public forms of recognition, others don’t. Brief handwritten thank you notes, reciprocating with your support or treating the team to breakfast are a few options.

Analytics and other data give you information, but it’s your critical thinking that makes having data so valuable. Take time to draw conclusions and learn lessons. Use these concepts to take smart action steps. That’s when you’ll really see benefits.

Your network of contacts is like a plant. It thrives with proper care and feeding. Stay in touch with your contacts periodically. Update them on your progress, but focus even more on sharing ideas, resources and additional contacts related to their career or personal interests. They’ll appreciate the gesture and will likely help you in return.

 

Don’t worry about what you don’t have.  Needless worrying will drain away the creativity and resourcefulness you have to make the most of what’s available.

If others in your organization don’t hear much about your team’s progress, it’s easy for them to assume there is none. Periodically use opportunities to keep your co-workers in other departments informed. You can speak in staff meetings, forward positive feedback from constituents or write for office newsletters, for instance. You won’t sound boastful if you present your successes in context of organization-wide goals such as increasing engagement or attracting new allies.

Even if only becomes something you deviate from, it helps you keep track of priorities.