Archive for 2008

6 Steps to Pull Yourself Out of a Slump

December 9th 2008

Plan An Escape

If you find yourself in a slump and don’t want to stay there the first step to getting out of that slump is to plan an escape.  You need to look at what can be done to turn things around.  You need to be careful not to just accept the same thing as what led you there in the first place.  It’s all too easy to keep on doing the same thing and that will typically lead you right back to the same results so know that you need to do something new.  Plan some changes to several areas at once to ensure you eliminate more of the factors that are holding you in the slump in the first place.

Take Action

A good plan is nothing without some action towards achieving it.  Put some of those steps in place that are needed to complete your plan and look to tackle them.  Don’t let yourself get demotivated if things are harder at first, after all that is how you got stuck in a rut in the first place.  Just continue to look for progress and measure yourself for those successes, ignoring other factors as you especially don’t want to make a slump look any worse than it is.

Do Things You Love

Your attitude is going to suffer no matter what if you are in a slump.  Turning this around can get difficult when progress is slow or non-existent.  However, you can at least enjoy yourself a bit more by picking to do the things you love.  Latch on to your hobbies, your past times and the relationship you truly enjoy.  Even in your work, you can try to spend more time on the things you like to do and less on the tasks that just are not much fun.  Doing this can help to keep your spirit up and a more positive attitude.  Of course, this is useful anytime in life but it will seem even more powerful when you are in a slump.

You’ve Turned Things Around Before

Sometimes when you’re in a slump, you don’t feel like you have the drive or ability to get out of it.  Everything seems to be against you and you start to loose site of any positive outcomes.  It’s a cycle that just makes things even worse if you don’t look to turn it around.  You can do this by ignoring your situation and instead focusing on a time where you have gotten out of a slump before.  Any situation, any type of slump will do.  Think about what you felt and how you behaved to finally get out of that one?  As things turned around, you would have started to have some confidence just as things began to look more positive and the same feelings and reactions can be applied again.  I read about this technique in this article about being more confident and I think that confidence works the same way here.  You need it to get out of the slump and to get it, you can pull it from past experiences and focus to act and feel the same way to pull yourself out of a slump.

Don’t Give Up

If you give up, things will get worse and you will loose control of your actions in a negative time.  Continue to push towards your goals and just keep working to get out of the rut.  Persistence here is key even if you have failures, expect them, look past them and overcome them.

Faith

And finally, the one things that I think is the most important of all is to have faith.  Faith in knowing things will change and will improve, faith in the fact that you can make it through tough times, faith that there are others who know the same troubles and will help you through it, faith that your actions and attitude will make a difference, faith that you can and will persist no matter how long things last, faith that there is something to be learned by all your struggles, and finally, faith that there is a God with grace and an open heart waiting for you to lean on him to develop a relationship and find your purpose and reasons to continue.  Faith in this may lead you in new directions, unexpected places and potentially even other hardships but the rewards by service to others and God will always come to fruition.  When that occurs, however, is not up to us.

Posted by Mike King under Learning | 20 Comments »

Resources Dec 2008

December 5th 2008

Free PDFs of Each Series

I wanted to mention since many feed subscribers would miss this, that I’ve added a Free Resources page to LearnThis.ca where I have each of my series of articles available for download each as a single PDF file.  If you have missed any of these series or want to share them with someone else or just keep it or print it for reference, these PDFs will make it MUCH easier for you.  Please take a moment and check out and download the PDFs from this new Free Resources page.

Additional Content

Some great content I’ve discovered lately is worth mentioning here.  I’ve come across all of these from my reading in the last couple months and thought these were simply great.

Articles

The How to Be Interesting Series at BondChristian.com

The Zone at Productivity501.com

3 Articles on the subject of Discovering Your Purpose at SpiritualBlog.com

The Happy at Work manifesto by Alexander Kjerulf

Many of you know how much I love books.  I’ve read 30 books from this list of 100 .  It’s a great list of books for managers, leaders and humans.  (in other words, EVERYONE) which is definitely worth using for some of your next reading material.

Blog Resources

Glenn has a HUGE list of excellent personal development blogs listed on PluginID.com .  Not only have I read many of these but know many of the bloggers and I can tell you, there is some exceptional work if you dig through this list.

Happiness Is Better

100 Blogs that Will Inspire You to Be a Better Person

Productive Magazine – Last but not least this month is a new magazine with a lot of fantastic content on productivity including many articles from great bloggers I follow on a regular basis.  This is a real gem, go sign up for it today!

Posted by Mike King under Learning | 10 Comments »

Open Ended Questions Make Better Conversations

December 2nd 2008

Questions are a critical piece of any conversation and there is an easy way to use them to build better conversations and depth while communicating.  That method is simply by using more open ended questions.

Open Ended Versus Closed Ended

There are two types of questions that are important to know in order to keep your conversations going and to build more rapport with others in conversation.  They are open ended and closed ended questions.

Closed ended questions can be answered with a single one or two word response.  They are often a yes or no question and don’t leave much room for elaboration, interpretation or opinion.

Open ended questions on the other hand are questions that cannot be answered with one word responses.  They require some thought and some details to reasonably answer the question.

Build a Conversation

Simple response closed questions don’t leave much room for elaboration or really a full response.  These are often question using phrases like, did you, when, do you want to, will you, have you, etc.  Each of these just need a couple words to answer and they don’t transition well from one topic to another in a conversation.  They leave little room for new ideas and they don’t spark much creativity or imagination which leads to new questions.  That is where open ended questions excel.  They provide much more detail, thoughts, comments and bits of information that can more easily form into new ideas and transitions.  Here are some examples of typical questions in an open format:

  • Tell me what you think about that?
  • What is it you like about the idea?
  • Why would you suggest that?
  • How do you plan to achieve that?

Let Others Talk More Than You

Open ended questions also ensure that you give others a chance to talk more than you.  It forces you to listen more in any conversation because you have to wait for a longer response with these questions.  You can still lead a conversation by steering with your questions but at least the open questions will allow room for a more elaborate expanse.

Open questioning is also a great tool to promote creative thought, problem-solving skills, and cognitive growth in others because it forces a person to spend more time contemplating their response instead of just giving a disconnected yes or no response.  The thought needed behind may seem simply but it forces an association pattern that makes a person relate something of meaning that they response with, to the person or conversation.  This inherently builds a stronger bond with, better memory of and definitely a more engaged conversation.

Ask Them to Talk About Themselves

Similarly to simply having someone talk more, having someone talk about themselves, their own thoughts and their feelings on a subject shows that you have some genuine interest in them and care enough to want to take the time to listen.  This is immensely powerful both for seeing how the conversation topics affect that person but also to strengthen that relationship more.  Whether you know the person well, or you are already a close friend or family member, these personal and open ended questions only lead to an even stronger bond with a longer more meaningful conversation at the outset.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | 9 Comments »

Book Review: Stumbling on Happiness

November 28th 2008

Review Review Review Review Review

Author: Daniel Gilbert

Stumbling on Happiness

Daniel Gilbert makes a wonderful examination about the “only animal that thinks about the future” in his book “Stumbling on Happiness”.  I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I generally look for specific actions and books that give a variety of guidance but I must say that this one offers none of that.  What it does do however, is examine what humans are capable of from the thinking perspective and he presents how that can be a huge benefit to our social and life decisions yet at the same time a limiting hindrance in our decisions and thoughts.

Gilbert makes reference to tens of studies and correlates them into a pretty common theme for the book.  Humans are pretty bad at predicting what will make them happy!

I absolutely love Gilbert’s style of writing as there is much subtle humor and jibes toward the general intelligence (or lack thereof) at people’s ability to gauge and plan their own happiness.  He has a very engaging style with this work and leads you around a variety of topics on happiness with scientific studies, personal observations and a lot of intriguing questions to ponder.  He demonstrates how our brains lead us more often than not to obscurity in the future when it comes to happiness and there is little we can do about it, no matter how hard we try.

Subjective Happiness

Another important premise of the book is that happiness is completely subjective.  One person’s idea of extreme happiness can be very different from anothers’.  Not only that but individuals are not even consistent with their own happiness as what may have led to us being extremely happy a year ago or even last week, could be completely different now.  It will also be completely different in the future.  All of our experiences are faded in our memories so what we think we were feeling in the past that made us happy shifts over time in our memories.  Similarly, our imaginations cannot be relied on for future prediction of happiness as it is altered by our memories and tinted by what we are experiencing at the time we imagine it.

Joy of Delusion

The examination that happiness really cannot be predicted, remembered or even repeated leaves us with one option, to enjoy the delusion and understand that happiness is what it is at that time only and will never again be the same so get what you can from it at the time.  We’re incapable of imagining accurately so I’m certainly not going to try to think of happiness in the future.  I’m instead going to enjoy what I can, when i can and know that my experiences are not something I can accurate predict in the future so its rather mute to try.

Some of the things presented in the book and how it affects happiness are:

  • Our minds often exaggerate or filter out content in our memories
  • Imaginations are never accurate predictions since our applied memories always shift
  • People naturally rationalize situations to conclude themselves into some kind of happy state
  • Happiness is rarely as good as we imagine it and it rarely lasts as long as we think it will
  • Things that prevent happiness are often repeated and ignored when searching for happiness

These (and more) are covered in 5 parts just to give you an idea of the various angles he approaches things with.

  1. Prospection
  2. Subjectivity
  3. Realism
  4. Presentism
  5. Rationalization

Anyway, I definitely recommend this book, not so you gain a better understanding of how to be happiness, but more to realize what happiness is not, and how that changes some of your beliefs around happiness that you use to steer your life.  The book is incredibly funny and quite similar to the books, Blink and Freakonomics in study and style.  I’d recommend the unabridged audio version as it’s great fun to hear the author himself putting the emphasis on his content with wit and humor.  I certainly was happy listening to it!

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | 7 Comments »

Maximum Productivity: Connections

November 25th 2008

This article is last in a series called, “Maximum Productivity ” in which I’ll explore the topic of connections.

See the rest of the series here:
Intro: Maximum Productivity: Series Introduction
Part 1: Maximum Productivity: Perspective
Part 2: Maximum Productivity: Attitude
Part 3: Maximum Productivity: Focus
Part 4: Maximum Productivity: Persistence
Part 5: Maximum Productivity: Adventure
Part 6: Maximum Productivity: Connections

After writing so much on specific areas to maximize productivity, I’ve found myself continually wanted to add points that belong in this last section.  Looking at productivity from the angles of perspective , attitude , focus , persistence and adventure leave me with a challenge to in some way connect all those together and to help you anchor in not only what it is that fits these puzzle pieces together, but also why?  I hope this article can portray that and show where that has become much more apparent to me in my life.

You Can’t Do It Alone

It seems obvious that you can’t reach your maximum productivity on your own.  You need to have resources, learning material, people to motivate you, give you feedback and to help you along your way.  Even though we all know this when we stop to look at things, we still have this weird natural tendency to do it by ourselves.  There is this strange force that is drilled into people (and I think even more so in North America) that you should learn to be independent and able to handle anything on your own.  We separate ourselves from others and then hope to achieve great things.  I’ve learned one thing, that doesn’t work!  You will not ever reach your maximum productivity or potential in other things on your own.  You must rely on others and build connections!

Of course there is some room for argument in this but I think those arguments only apply when looking at a small slice of time.  Yes, it is possible to be very productive on your own, for certain things but I’m thinking of productivity now on a much grander scale where it applies across some longer period of time; weeks, months and even years.  That definitely requires connections to make it last and to be able to sustain it.  Life has it’s cycles up and down and there is no easier way to get out of a slump than to have close relationships to rely on.  Stuff happens, bad stuff happens and close friends and relationships make it whole lot easier.  This enables us to move on with things in our lives and keep that productivity up.

Connections in Numbers

Human beings are social animals.  We always have been.  We always will be.  Having others in our lives gives us everything from security and confidence to trust and accountability.  Having more than ourselves is valuable for getting things down as well.  Momentum can build by involving others, you have access to more ideas, and creativity.  You can easily be more productive by getting help from others!

Now what about helping others? Wouldn’t taking precious time away from your productive tasks prevent you from getting your maximum productivity?   I’d say absolutely not.  At least not in a longer time scale.  What it does is bring on an even higher level of productivity, but with delay. It amazes me how inclined others are to help if you simply ask or offer it first yourself.  Building the numbers with connections enables more of this and gives you access to so many helpful resources it can make any task something much much easier to be productive at.  Having that strong network for help and support not only gives you access to more resources it enables you to utilize all the resources to be productive.  That is something I’ve learned about teamwork and productivity that has an absolutely massive payoff.  Take some time and think about whether you are really using ALL the resources available to accomplish what you want.  What about doing research and learning from others?  Isn’t that where having a large number of connections improves productivity?  I think so.

Depth of Connections

I personally know that even in blogging, these connections and number of relationships is a crucial component to be productive.  If you have a network of people who inspire, question and challenge you, support and help, you can much more easily research topics, come to conclusions, put down ideas and have discussions that take that even further.  That same principle applies in work, fun and relationships in life.  I think that allows people to understand things with more depth and coverage  and reach a higher level of productivity because of it.

While I certainly don’t want to contradict myself, I do want to mention that I feel that the depth of connections you build is MORE important than the number of connections. In the sense of productivity, relationships are key to getting things done. The accountability, rapport and collaboration that is available through others far outweighs any offsets of time lost by utilitizing these traits.  I wrote on technology already in the focus article in this series but I think it again needs to be carefully balanced here for building connections.  Technology makes it easy to quickly connect with many people.  However, it doesn’t inherintly enable us to make deeper connections.  That takes time, commitment, trust and LOTS of communication.  While things like website and blogs certainly help to find like minded individuals that allow you connect immediately at a more personal level, they don’t do much to ensure you take that deeper.  It’s up to you to do that with or without the technology.

By building deeper relationships I mean where you understand each others dreams, hopes, needs, fears and you really KNOW the person. You spend time together and you are genuinely interested, caring, compassionate and wanting to spend time with them.  It’s not another friend in facebook, another visitor to your site or a contact in your cellphone.  It’s someone you could rely on in the time of need or someone you’d help out without a second thought.  These type of deep connections enable all those characteristics of productivity through others to be at their highest level.  That brings on maximum productivity!

Feedback For Improvement

Productivity obviously doesn’t happen on it’s own and perhaps this series is a little overwhelming as to what it involves to really reach your maximum productivity.  However, I think the that feedback in that cycle of improvement is really the easiest way to progress.  This also relies on your connections so builds that area at the same time.  Feedback to and from others is as simple as asking or informing others of what they do well, don’t do well or could change by specific suggestions.  Feedback should address specific things a person does so that it isn’t taken personally and it should also be something you go looking for.  If you want to increase your productivity, start asking others around you how they think you could do that.

Connecting It All Together for Maximum Productivity

These topics have been a great way to explore productivity and I personally believe that they all tie together in this connections segment.  Without this area to explore things with others, I can’t put much value on productivity outside of selfish and short term thinking.  The connections that develop and enable us to be at maximum productivity are the things we will remember, value through our lives and have the most impact to others.  So that is what it’s all about for me.

As well, I think this series has led me to understanding the purpose of productivity better.  I think it is simple and explains why anyone would want to reach their maximum productivity:

To become the best person you can possibly be!

Special Thanks and Shout Outs from this Series!!

Talking about how connections are so important I can’t help but send some shout outs to all of you who helped me out with this series.  Many of you helped promote it on digg, stumble upon and even your own sites and I’ve tried to respond in return in those social arenas.  Thank you so much for this!  I’ve also had some great discussions in this series and so wanted to sent out a few shouts to those of you who’d been commenting.  I love the similarities you write about and I think that is why the discussions come so easily.  I urge people to check out some of the sites below as these people have all been a big part of this series for me and I definitely appreciate it!

Lance – Jungle of Life
Ross – Will It Change You
Avani – Avani-Mehta
Jennifer – Principles For Peace
Stephen – Balanced Existence
Viriya – Tedded
Robert – Reason 4 Smile
Armen – Timeless Information
Bryan – The B.Wilde Column
Jeff – Getting Better Television
Stella – How to Talk With Confidence
Laurel – Laurel Plum Online
Nathalie – Billionaire Woman
Nicolas – Time Management Master
Nick – Be Good Ventures
Juliet – Life Made Great
Rahul – Take 20
Daniel – Daniel Richard
Husain – Strength in Diversity
Karl – Work Happy Now
Simple Meditation – Optimum Self
Richard – Self Improve Blog
Ananga – Living By Design

And of course Sam and Ben!

Please take a minute yourself to create another connection by subscribing to my RSS feed or by email .  I’d love to hear from you and get to know you better and please don’t hesitate to ask for help as well!

Posted by Mike King under Life | 15 Comments »

Maximum Productivity: Adventure

November 21st 2008

This article is part of a series called, “Maximum Productivity ” in which I’ll explore the topic of adventure.

See the rest of the series here:
Intro: Maximum Productivity: Series Introduction
Part 1: Maximum Productivity: Perspective
Part 2: Maximum Productivity: Attitude
Part 3: Maximum Productivity: Focus
Part 4: Maximum Productivity: Persistence
Part 5: Maximum Productivity: Adventure
Part 6: Maximum Productivity: Connections

Expect the Unexpected

If there is anything you can definitely expect in learning to maximize your productivity, it’s going to be that you will have some new experiences.  Some good, some bad, some productive and some not but all will teach you something and all are useful to learn an important trait of any productivity master, the trait of adventure!

As you read in my last article about persistence, once you have that underway, you will find yourself needing to change plans and try new action steps to find what works and does not work.  This will undoubtedly bring new challenges and you will certainly have new adventures along the way.

Learn From It

As you progress with your new perspective, focus, attitude and persistence, you will be building many experiences and adventures to learn from.  Take account of what changes you’ve made in each of these areas and how it works to expand your productivity.  Adventures are also wonderful ways to remember things.  The mind wires far more associations for new experiences that are adventurous than it does for boring and unexcited regular events.  If you think that you can maximize productivity without having any adventures that excite the mind, you’ll be missing something.  Making things more exciting, taking risks, and just being more energetic in your activities is adventurous and an easy way to make tasks more fun, contagious and easier to do.

Story Telling

I’ve written about the advantages of storytelling before but looked at it with a number of advantages except that for productivity.  There is definitely a lot of advantages in having adventurous stories to help teach and learn things.  I think that the spirit that is needed for successful storytelling is the same that is needed for an adventurous spirit for productivity.  These are all similarly important for using adventure to be more productive:

  • look for the positive things
  • make a strong point
  • highlight humorous details
  • stay excited and energetic
  • put expression into the way you tell it
  • reuse successes and stories that work well
  • paint a vivid picture in your mind
  • enjoy telling and remembering it

All these things are important for an adventurous spirit and it’s that spirit that builds on your attitude and actions to be even more productive.

Connections and Relationships

While you can certainly have adventures on your own, most people would agree that they are much more memorable and exciting if you have them with other people.  These relationships built during adventures can be very deep as they don’t just connect people at a daily superficial level but in some exciting shared experience.  It feels good to share these memories with others and it definitely reinforces the desire for such adventures when they go well.  The same applies with being more productive, if you do it together with close connections and relationships, it is much more satisfying to share the successes together.  You can feed off each other and encourage each other to get through some of the difficult times and you can make a more difficult adventure much more bearable by having a friend at your side.  Becoming productive is not all easy and you will certainly reach points where it just doesn’t feel good.  That could be due to struggles, difficulties in learning new things, tough habits to break, relationships strained because of change, challenges in not know the answers or right approach.  All of these make maximizing your productivity hard and so any close connections and relationships you have to get through that are very important.

Comfort Zone

An adventurous soul is one who is not afraid to try new things and take on new challenges.  This happens only when you break out your normal life habits that feel comfortable and get into a new zone of change and unknown.  Its these areas that you will discover the most and learn about yourself.  Think about the most amazing and inspiring stories and adventures you have ever heard.  Where they about a guy who did his day job for 45 years, played golf and bingo for 20 more and then died?  No, they are about people who do the unthinkable, challenge the impossible, overcome unbeatable odds, continuously do outrageous and ridiculous things.  They are the adventures and people who have surprising events, massive change in their lives, zero or little comfort and are happy and willing to do what most consider to be a little on the side of crazy.  It’s about reaching past your everyday life and expanding it, stretching your abilities and pushing yourself and your limits farther than most are willing.  That comfort zone we settle into with a wall of possessions holds us to a level of complacency and comfort that is tough to break free of.  Change That!  Look for some adventure and get out of your comfort zone.  Do it in areas of productivity and you will discover things about yourself you never know possible.  You can do more than you ever knew and you’ll quite likely, find you enjoy it a whole lot more than you ever thought possible.

I hope I can encourage at least some of my readers here to take a serious look at this with your productivity in your life.  Whether you are a student, worker, blogger, teacher or parent, recognize the things you are repeating over and over in your life.  Do they make you happy?  Do you want more of those or is there some room for change and new adventures?  What have you always wanted to be better at but never taken a step to master?  Is there any adventures you could take to help you study and increase your productivity in your life?  I hope so.  I’d love to hear about your ideas, please comment below or add your stories of adventure

Posted by Mike King under Life | 11 Comments »

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