Managing Myself - Developing Values, Traits, and Life skills For Success

Author(s):

Daniel P. Woodring
Daniel P. Woodring, President and Managing Director, Performance Plus Technologies, Cincinnati, OH 45071-1612, 513-779-3439.

82nd Annual International Conference Proceedings - 1997 

This paper is designed to give some hands-on ideas, techniques and process information to help individuals make the most of themselves, their career, and their working relationships. It is divided into five parts: 1. Understanding who you are. 2. Understanding why you are the way your are and the power of choice and change. 3. How to get the most from yourself. 4. How to make the most of your career. 5. Getting the most from other people.

Success comes by MANAGING YOURSELF, by managing the way you think. Success comes by understanding and using the process of becoming. Within the process, there are specific strategies and techniques that can help at any stage in life to develop "the right" values, to make the most of individual skills and abilities, to speed career development, improve working relationships, and in general, improve the overall quality of life.

Within the last several decades, studies in the field of Cognitive Behavioral Psychology have led us to the understanding that WE ARE WHAT WE THINK...that we move toward and become like that which we think about... that we are the playwrights, producers and actors of our own life drama on our own life stage.

Consistent with these thoughts, the management guru Peter Drucker recently said, "The best way to predict your future is to CREATE IT". This concludes that the way I think and act - today - will determine what I will have in my life tomorrow. It concludes that there is choice among many alternatives to do an be most anything I want. And as the famous philosopher Ziggy said, "Your present will be determined by your past, therefore in the future you should be very careful what you do in the past".

Cognitive Behavioral Psychology has given us the straight line function or PROCESS or linkage between Thinking - Values - Goals - and Success. Here is the process: The consistent THOUGHT about ourselves, our life, our work, other people, our situations and circumstances forms VALUES by which we form judgments about the desirability, usefulness importance and worth (likes and dislikes). The accumulation of these values over time become our BELIEF or the paradigms by which we live.

As a result of our belief system, any outside stimuli or happening in our life will instantly create an ATTITUDE in our mind about what is happening. Your internal attitude will produce, with a high degree of predictability, BEHAVIOR or action consistent with your belief system.

So we move toward and become (behave) like that which we think about. Adding GOALS to this equation simply replaces random or scattered or programmed thoughts with ones that are focused and directed to what we want to be and do.

Understanding Yourself ~ Who you are
Psychologists say our inner make-up, our psyche, our genetic core, is the basis of what and who we are. It is important to know and understand this part of us for the key to success, life, or happiness lies in the strength and balance of this essence or make-up. Psychologists have identified four areas within our genetic core: PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, MENTAL, AND SPIRITUAL. The conclusion is, we cannot be self-actualized until we accomplish discipline and self-mastery in these critical areas.

In addition to these four areas, it is important to focus on three other key life areas that have a significant impact on our attitudes, behavior, and consequently, our quality of life. These three important areas are : STRESS AND STRAIN, SELF-IMAGE, AND ROMANCE. Resolving conflict within these areas a must before we can obtain higher levels of self-fulfillment. A closer look at and personal audit of each of these seven areas provides the basis for Managing Yourself and becoming the kind of person you are capable of becoming. Look at the importance of each in the following light:

Physical: The physical part of our psyche is an extremely important area. It accounts for a significant portion of the rationale of how we see and feel about ourselves, our self-worth, and self-esteem. As you think through a physical profile, plan what you need to do to be a "no limit" person.

Emotional: Do you act or react? There is a difference. To act toward instead of reaction to outside stimuli of circumstances indicates conscious control is prevailing; that acting is a choice rather than a response from addictions. The stability of how you handle things is a key to being a "no limit" person.

Mental: In terms of career, this area is not only important to self-development but, right or wrong, is heavily scrutinized by human resource people. It answers "where you have been", what experience you have, education, training and development received, and , your skills and abilities. Normally detailed testing and checking is required.

Spiritual: By some belief standards, the spiritual aspect of life ~ most of what we don't see or consciously perceive ~ is in reality 95 percent of existence. The portion we do "see" (5% material world) is illusion. Yet it occupies a significant part of our consciousness. Psychologists agree it is important.

Stress and Strain: Our natural physical and psychological response to excessive stress is called STRAIN. Identifying situations in which poor behavioral performance causes a negative reaction (stress), leading to body STRAIN. If prolonged, illness may result. It is important however, to recognize that stress is universal and a necessary part of life. STRESS CAN BE A FRIEND ... if managed.

Self-Image: Those who achieve excellence are especially aware of the tremendous importance of a "Positive Self-Image and Self-Esteem" in expanding their horizons... allowing them to more fully realize their true potential. Positive believing on how you see yourself is the key. We do become what we believe, say and do. Our attitudes and behavior shape our future. We "IN - DEED" write our own destiny. It all starts with self-image and self-esteem... our belief system.

Romance: Most psychologists and philosophers agree that giving and getting "warm fuzzies" is a vital link in sustaining a positive self-image, sound mental health and happiness. Each of us has our own different very personal and individual art form. Regardless of the definition, most would agree it is the ingredient that provides the "spice of life".

Understanding Yourself ~ Why You Are The Way You Are
We are the sum product of our life experiences. Each moment of our lives we are bombarded by literally thousands of stimuli, impulses, forces and data relating to external people, things, conditions and circumstances. Our experiences build one on the other and our consciousness is continually expanding, growing and unfolding. Who we are is built one brick at a time over a long period of time and has traveled some rough as well as smooth roads. We are indeed complex.

We must recognize that our outer sphere of influence has the most to do with who we are. Most of our early life consists of being programmed or brainwashed by others. We carry this programming into our adult lives and sometimes use it as a convenient excuse for non-performance. "you made me do it... I can't... don't waste your time, don't, don't, don't..."

Our attitudes, our behavior and thus the quality of life are formed little by little from prenatal existence until death. who we are now, today, is a result of a very complex networking or interaction with thousands of other individual, unique and distinct "Selves". We are evolving, expanding and unfolding. The struggle is to attain maturity - to reach our potential, to find that nugget within us and put it to use.

Our self image is built on self talk. The conversations we have with ourselves about ourselves has a great deal of power over our self-image and corresponding actions it causes. What is your predominant mental picture (thought) about yourself? Lazy, fat, ugly, poor..... or energetic, thin good looking, and prosperous. Any number of positive or negative attributes can be added to the list, but in the final analysis we literally "talk" ourselves into failure or success, ease or dis-ease, happiness or sadness. Our mental pictures become form.

Here are some universal laws ~ the key principles for realizing potential:

  • We move toward and become like that which we think about.
  • We act, not in accordance with the truth, but the truth as we "see" it or "perceive" it to be. Belief makes it so.
  • Change the way you think, and you change the way you act.
  • Change the belief and you change the reality
  • There are no obstacles in life, only thoughtful choices.
  • We are the playwrights, producers and actors of our own life drama ~ on our own life stage.
  • We are the sum product of the choices we make in life.

Achieving excellence becomes a choice among life's alternatives. We can from today on, choose our sphere of influence and control our thinking toward health wholeness, success and happiness; think as a winner and become a winner... or... choose some less rewarding alternative. And remember, choices come in the form of or product of VISIONS, DREAMS AND GOALS. What you will have in your life in the future will be the result of what you decide, choose, accept, allow or give life to.

You write the script to your own play... You choose your own sphere of influence. Take responsibility for it.

How To Get The Most From Yourself
The process used to MANAGE MYSELF is very similar to the process we would use to manage a business. There is no one magic formula for creating successful living. However, business planners and strategists and personal achievers do agree that a visible well defined process is an absolute necessity. Combining concepts of business planning and psychology, a personal planning model - the criteria for success will look like this:

Self Analysis: knowing yourself; strengths, weaknesses, KEY VALUES and MOTIVATORS; developing a sound belief system.

Discovering your Mission: Identifying purpose; knowing and understanding your KEY VALUES; deciding what is important to you

Long Range Planning: Creating a life plan; setting standards for yourself; developing the blue print for your life.

Goal Setting: Deciding the path of long range goals; documenting short and intermediate range plans or results expected; developing your skills

Setting Controls: Setting timetables to meet goals; development of a measurement system (how am I doing?)

Acting on Goals: DOING the things that are important according to the plan (plan your work - work your plan)

Reinforcementand Follow-up: Affirming, rewarding, mid-course corrections

The effectiveness of the process is dependent on a good analysis of your VALUES. Values are your sense of right and wrong, what is important, and what ought to be. Values are the beliefs that direct you actions. They act like signposts to guide you on the trip to your goals.

Also remember that excellence starts with LEARNING - a key goal area. There is a major inherent responsibility to develop the skills or core competencies that qualify me to run the race.

How to Make The Most Of Your Career
Today's competitive world rewards excellence; Excellence starts with learning; learning demands changes in behavior; Learning is evident with development of effective habits; habits control attitude; therefore DEVELOP GOOD HABITS !

What good habits - skills - competencies do I need in my life to continually evolve and grow successfully in my career? The first of many is the ability to operate in an environment of change. I heard a fascinating report about a CEO who in his five years there grew profits 30 percent per year. He said his success is due to one simple rule; "Love Change". Our technology and social environment are changing all the time. People's tastes change. Some companies have the vision to use change to their advantage... Some don't. A hundred years ago, selling buggy whips was a big business. Now those who thought they were in the buggy whip business are out of business. But those who realized they were in the travel accessory business are still doing fine, selling leather upholstery or car phones. CHANGE: LOVE IT, MANAGE IT !

The second big habit or skill is ORGANIZATION. You won't get anywhere until you gain control of your time and tasks. you have to get organized and learn to manage your time, your paperwork, and even the telephone. Get focused; some tasks you enjoy because you are working toward a clearly defined goal that stems from your values. You must learn to gather the same excitement for less pleasant tasks by creating a clear and favorable picture of the end result... focus on that result rather than the tedious or difficult steps leading up to it. Place a carrot in front of you.

There are literally dozens of other positive habits and skills required for excellence. Here are a few that need be given honorable mention: Credibility and trust, self-discipline, business ethics, leadership, team orientation, positive attitude, positive relationships and a passion to serve the customer.

And finally, MAKING MOST OF YOUR CAREER means paying attention to the major inherent responsibilities, including having thorough job knowledge, organizational knowledge, competition and industry knowledge. Period goals should be set in these areas to assure you have the foundation to become more professional and productive.

Getting The Most From Other People
Working with People... Human Relations: Positive effective Human Relations means relating to people, getting along with them and teaming with them for mutual benefit.

Here are some key personal skills areas to consider as you plan and set goals for Getting The Most From Other People:

  • Concepts of Motivation
  • Conflict Management
  • Human Relation Skills
  • Giving Valuable Feedback
  • Leadership Skills
  • Negotiations Skill
  • Communication Skills
  • Effective Meeting Skills
  • Managing Cultural Diversity
  • Delegating Skills

Honing our skills in these areas will certainly be a big step in the right direction, but we must also recognize that Motivation comes from within the individual. You can't motivate an individual, the individual must motivate themselves. The best we can do is to provide the environment for positive motivation and coach the individual to react favorably with positive actions.

Many studies have been conducted to determine the key environmental factors that need to be present to MOVE an individual to action. Here are the top six factors researchers found, that if present, would provide up to an 80% probability of success. Here is what respondents said they wanted.

  1. Vision - a clear picture of the mission and purpose of the unit
  2. Direction - The long range plan and blue print to get there
  3. Personal Goals - documentation of how they fit into the plan
  4. Reinforcement - The tools, rewards and empowerment to get the job done
  5. Trust - an emotional bond of caring, respect and fair treatment
  6. Passion - excitement and enthusiasm for and about "The Cause"

The above factors come as "employee wants". There are other proactive relationship kinds of things we can do to enhance the probability of success:

  • Be an active listener
  • Make people feel important
  • Help people succeed
  • Set high standards
  • Recognize and reward outstanding achievement
  • Help people compete and win
  • Create a team effort
  • Communicate Clearly
  • Walk your talk
  • Do the little things well

WINNERS AND ACHIEVERS ~ WHAT IT TAKES

  • Physical And Emotional Balance
  • Mental And Spiritual Balance
  • Self-Understanding
  • Mission And Purpose (Something That Matters)
  • Commitment To Goals
  • Will To Succeed
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Power Over Personal Asteroids
  • Vivid Imagination
  • Warm Personal Relationships
  • High Self-Confidence
  • Action Oriented
  • Ardent Desire
  • Self-Pride/Belief
  • Enthusiasm
  • Sense Of Humor
  • Ability To Fail And Grow
  • Physical Vitality And Health
  • Willing To Risk

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