Archive for 2013

Mountain Climbing: A Hobby for Those with an Adventurous Spirit

June 2nd 2013

A guest post this week on a topic I really ought to write about sometime as well.

Climbing mountains sounds both exhilarating and dangerous, which may deter some but also encourages others. Though not a hobby for the weak of heart, mountain climbing offers benefits beyond the physical, making it an excellent choice for those already inclined to adventure. Climbing uses just about every muscle you can imagine. On top of the physical stamina necessary to sustain you over days-long journeys, you need mental stability and emotional strength to endure rigorous climbs. The following discusses what you need to know to start climbing mountains.

No Pain, No Gain

The old axiom rings truer in this sport than possibly any other. The physical strength necessary to propel you forward includes muscle mass and cardio endurance. In order to get in climb-ready shape, you need to start with your doctor and move on to a trainer. Because mountain climbing is so intensely physical, you will need to sit down with your doctor and make sure you’re good to go. Not everyone has the right genetics to make it happen. Physical limitations can be overcome, but some internal characteristic may rule this hobby out, such as heart conditions and other life-threatening issues. Make sure a health professional gives you a full physical just to be clear on the risks.

Once you’re cleared, hit the gym, the park and anywhere else you can think of to boost your body’s natural physique. Even if you’re totally out of shape, you can prepare to begin mountain climbing by following the same set of guidelines everyone uses: start small and build up. Hiring a trainer may not be necessary, but you should seek advice from friends or relatives who are physically active. Mountain climbing isn’t a solo journey, and your training shouldn’t be, either. Enlist some help and get started. One climber suggests staggering the routine, beginning with a solid base and increasing endurance until you’re ready to train for your specific climb. Another recommends including altitude training, which is a logical step in the progression of mountain climbing. The bottom line is this: you must be in top physical condition in order to climb a mountain. Any other way can lead to serious injuries and death.

Clear Away the Cobwebs

If physical strength forms a basic prerequisite, then mental and emotional fitness form necessary add-ons. As referenced above, climbing mountains is a group activity. This adds a level of safety and accountability. However, you might end up alone on a mountain in case of an emergency, and having the wherewithal to remain calm may keep you alive. For reference, Mt. Everest had a 29% success rate as of 2006, with a fatality rate of 2.05%. In fact, most climbers die on the descent of Mt. Everest. Since most of the climbers were in prime, peak physical condition, this means that being in shape isn’t everything. You need to accept the possibility of disaster and even death. Not everyone is prepared for this, but it’s crucial to undertaking a hobby that requires so much exertion. Emotional strength matters as much as the physical, and mental preparedness is key to survival.

While climbing might be exciting, it’s also very dangerous. Every adventurer needs to follow some rules, and when it comes to mountain climbing, following the right rules could save your life. Preparing for mountain climbing encompasses intense physical training as well as education yourself on crucial survival skills. Mountain climbing can be a fun and social hobby, and the best way to enjoy its benefits is to stay prepared.

Byline

Michael Bentley is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon who frequently writes about extreme sports, the drury outdoors, hiking & camping, traveling, adventure-seeking and other related topics.

Posted by Mike King under Life | 6 Comments »

Book Review: Instant Influence

May 31st 2013

How to Get Anyone to Do Anything Fast

Review Review Review Review ReviewInstant Influence Book Cover

Author: Michael Pantalon

The sub title of this book almost put me off it, but I’m glad it didn’t because it is an excellent and very applicable book.  The premise of influence is often debated and while this book sits in that questionable realm, it offers a perspective of influence that is not typical, and from learning and practicing it now, I agree this is much better approach to influence and useful every day.  The main take is that influence is done most effectively by using questioning and discovery.  I’ve always enjoyed using questions in coaching and finding influence but I’ve learned a lot of that through tough practice, not with a simple guided set of steps and actions, like are available in this book.

So, Pantalon outlines a series of steps in this book to have influence conversations.  An all important element of the process of questioning and discovery is to ensure that autonomy remains with the person being influenced.  That is key through the entire book and influence process.  These steps are:

1. Why would you change something if you were willing to change?

Knowing why someone will do something is critical as it is meant to discover some internal motivator.  Using probing questions here to dig into the real understanding of this one.  A series of why questions can help you get to some meaningful and often emotional reason behind a change.  That is important when influencing someone.

2. Rate your readiness to make that change from 1 to 10.

This helps drive the desire to change and can help to look at another perspective of what they might be scared of or worried about if they don’t change.  It helps to reinforce the why they should change and gives them autonomy in knowing their own reasons and rating for readiness.

3. Ask why they didn’t pick a lower number?

Give back some autonomy, throw them off guard and ask why they wouldn’t use a lower number.  If they are already at the lowest, a 1 out of 10, ask what it would take for it to be a 2?  These questions help to understand the reasoning again and reinforce their own discovery of the reasons for a number or rating.

4. Visualize a positive outcome or benefit from that change if it were to happen

Again, the autonomy is reinforced with the addition of “if” it were to happen so you are strictly talking hypothetical.  This keeps the conversation in a maybe without expectation to continue to discovery of the reasons why.

5. Ask why that outcome is important to them?

Probe a bit deeper to help understand and learn with them why something would matter to them.  Here again, you can ask why several times when need to get to meaningful and personal reasons, instead of superficial ones.

6. Determine a next step, if any leading towards that change.

Here is the clincher and after all this hypothetical discussion, you can test if there is any motivation to change and at least take the first step, however small and if any at all.  It provides that autonomy still yet is a way to make some action possible, even a small action, which is the power behind this process.

In Summary

So overall the book uses this process multiple times with many scenarios, responses, situations and methods you will need in such conversations to stay on track with the process and to use it to its fullest.  The examples are all useful to really learn the process and I think make it quite comfortable to use because of the wide variety of examples.  I was able to use the process and continue to use it in conversations and it didn’t take any extra practice, preparation or concern after learning it from the book.  Its a great teaching tool and if you are interested in influencing others, I highly recommend this book.

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | Comments Off on Book Review: Instant Influence

Learning Habits and Applying Knowledge

May 10th 2013

I am often asked how I seem to absorb new content so quickly and learn new things?  I’ve thought about this a lot and I have learned a few simple steps that have helped me to learn things quickly.  I hope by outlining what works for me, it will also help you develop similar habits for learning.Applying Knowledge

Learn From Experts

I always want to learn from someone who has already spent many hours of hard work to uncover some of the gotchas and best practices to follow so that it can save me some time making those same mistakes.  I’m sure to make many of my own mistakes, so the more likely I am to skip some of the obvious mistakes, the quicker I can get to making mistakes at higher levels of that skill or task, which is a good thing.  There are tons of ways of doing this and depends highly on what you are learning.  If you read here regularly you know I am an obvious heavy reader so I think books are a great example of learning from an expert.  Essentially any author on a subject is going to have much more experience than you if its a new topic or unfamiliar area you are learning.  I would consider then the author is an expert you can learn from.  For shoring up skills or knowledge from books at more advanced levels, you may have to be much more careful in your book selection to find the best of the best authors on a subject or authors with more years of experience than you that can still provide useful guidance.

In other skills, you might need to find and use a coach as an expert to learn something.  A mentor might be a great way by using their expert wisdom to help you.  You might find that taking a set of classes at trade schools or advancing some sport or hobby you love can easily be done by finding a great teacher or course where there are experts to learn from.  Whatever it is you are learning, finding help from an expert is the first step so you do not have to learn by trial and error making every mistake that others have already made ahead of you.

Apply At Least One Thing

Knowledge can be powerful from learning but it is truly useful when you can apply something from that knowledge.  I’ve made a habit of always looking to apply at least one thing to my work or life when I study something new like a book or article I was eager to learn from.  Skill development for sports or activities I would say I apply a lot more of what I learn.  Knowledge however really sets in as something known well when it is applied.  So when you read a book, or perhaps this article, take one thing from it and really make a conscious effort to apply that repeatedly so you can form a habit of it.  Habits only form when you take action so its the best way to develop that new skill by practice.Learning New Skills

Learn More Advanced Levels

My next habit I’ve formed might not work for everyone, however its part of who I am and I enjoy it.  I always always take on new skills or application of knowledge a couple steps further than most people expect of themselves or that they expect of me in the case of my job.  Anytime I can learn more advanced levels of something I strive for that as I have experience that making something a habit is so much easier when you push yourself beyond the limit of the habit, have the ability to go further than that when needed so the normal level that you can really use frequently then becomes very natural and always easy.  If you highest level of a skill or application of knowledge is at your limit of skill or knowledge, then its always going to seem very difficult to achieve that and maintain the level, often having the risk of falling back out of that habit and being complacent with less.

My methods for this to some people seem a bit obsessive as I devote a large quantity of time to advanced my skills, often above what is expected or perhaps even sensible for what I want to achieve.  The advantage of this however, is that I can then drop back a level or two and still have good habits formed where it is still needed and stretching back beyond that comfort zone is so much easier when you have already done that.

Teach That to Someone Else

Finally, what I consider to be the best way to lock in new learnings and application of knowledge is to teach it to someone else.  Often, this alone forces you to also learn a bit beyond the expected level so you can answer questions, appear as a useful resource to that person and be able to handle what might be a surprise in someone else’s approach.  Teaching someone else will not only give them that new knowledge, but it is a way for you to apply that knowledge yourself and be challenged to understand it from different perspectives.

Posted by Mike King under Learning | 1 Comment »

Keep Track of the Risks Involved with Adrenaline Seeking

March 29th 2013

Adreneline Sports

I’ve got a guest post this week that covers some of the risks of what I love, extreme sports…  The author, Trevor is listed at the end of the article as well.

An adrenaline junkie is a person that seeks out thrilling activities and the adrenaline rush they produce. Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in the brain. When engaged in a particularly exciting or dangerous activity, these glands dump huge doses of the pleasure-inducing hormones into the bloodstream, which increases the heart rate and ups oxygen levels, creating an overall feeling of euphoria that can last for hours. People who seek out this adrenaline high tend to engage in high-risk activities, such as, but not limited to, skydiving, car racing and mountain climbing.

An Addictive Feeling

It’s no coincidence that people who enjoy activities that produce adrenaline are identified as adrenaline junkies. In fact, engaging in action sports produces neurochemicals in the brain that are more potent than illicit drugs. According to Psychology Today, one way to mimic the effect of an adrenaline-producing activity is by combining deadly amounts of cocaine and heroin. And similar to the action of drugs on the brain, once you grow accustomed to regular doses of adrenaline, you need to take even bigger risks in order to achieve the same level of euphoria — which is one of the main reasons why adrenaline junkies get hurt. When the excitement of, say, snowboarding down a particularly steep hillside no longer produces the desired effect, a true adrenaline junkie will seek out an even steeper mountain, or add tricks to his routine, like jumps and flips.

Avoiding Injury

Rock climbing, extreme sports

Without taking some simple steps to prevent injuries, an adrenaline junkie can easily find himself seeking out not the next big wave, but rather, an experienced medical professional. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) understands that as long as there are skis, bikes, boats and skates, people of all ages will speed down hills, careen off ramps and ride huge waves. Fortunately, instead of preaching the importance of couch surfing, the AAOS offers those hooked on adrenaline a variety of tips to avoid getting hurt. For instance, stretching for a few minutes can help minimize muscle and ligament injuries. Always have a partner with you. Avoid overheating and dehydration by taking frequent water breaks. Wear the appropriate footwear and protective gear for your sport, including helmets, padding for knees, elbows and wrists, and goggles.

Understand the Risks

After observing the behavior (and also lifestyle) of some of these so-called adrenaline junkies it would be quite easy to conclude that many of them won’t take a break from danger until they find themselves looking for a long term disability lawyer. However, it’s important to understand that nearly every significant outdoor or physical activity – such as driving, jogging solo, or even walking down the street – carries risk; the critically important thing is to carefully and thoroughly measure the risks involved with each type of activity, and determine whether the potential benefits outweigh the potential costs. For many individuals, adrenaline-filled activities present substantial benefits, such as stress relief and personal enjoyment, and these benefits more than make up for the risk. Whatever your extreme activity may be – race car driving, extreme cycling, mountain climbing, or something else – it’s vital that adrenaline seekers be fully aware of the risks associated with their activity of choice.

Trevor Diamond is a freelance writer who focuses on career development, professional training, disability claims, workplace culture, employment trends and other like subjects.

Posted by Mike King under Life | 5 Comments »

Managing Turnover

March 14th 2013

turnover title example

The business world has a lot of factors in it that affect turnover with people switching jobs or career paths. It is something that will certainly be important to any manager who has to keep a team of people productive and effective. Depending on where your work sector is, this problem might be very common with higher yearly turnover numbers approaching or even exceeding 50% or you might be in a stable economy sector with low 10% turnover. Whatever your case, I think there are many ways to manage turnover and reduce the turnover factor in your business relative to your competition and/or the industry you are in. Lets explore some of those methods.

Finding and Using Individual Motivators

Turnover has two major factors, individual and team.  Lets talk individual factors first.  Each and every person is going to have their own set of motivations in their jobs and workplace and it is a manager’s role to find those out and manage that person based on their individual motivators.  You can’t motivate someone directly, but knowing their motivations, you can do a lot to direct work that is suitable, change your level of communication to suit their style, and you can absolutely use those motivating factors to influence their behavior to help them and your organization be successful, as you should as a manager.

Team Dynamics and Culture

Another big factor to turnover is the team, its dynamics and the culture that exists within the team and company as a whole.  People who work closely together need to be able to have a good working relationship, it does mean they need to be friends or really like each other, but they do need to have a few critical elements.  These are respect, trust and the right amount of fun or humor to keep the job interesting from a culture aspect.  If there is not enough respect between people or trust in what they say, the dynamics can ruin a person’s desire to stick around in that job.

The behaviors of a team can be managed to ensure there is no disrespectful comments, that people learn and know each other’s strength’s and that there is enough open communication and to bring forth some honest sharing and discussions.  These things help build goo dynamics and can drive your group to great results.  Read and review with a team Lencioni’s book called, 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, to really tackle the dynamics and culture you build intentionally through interaction.

Provide Career Path Improvements

People want to see room to advance, improve their careers and ultimately move up and earn more money in any role.  These are more important for some than others, but there is certainly a large component of turnover that relates to how much of this exists for a team and if they have discussions, see progress and are given opportunities to learn new things and take on new responsibilities.  There isn’t always a role to move up to so this might seem impossible in that case, however, I assure you there are many other ways to look at career improvements that may not have a new role.  Any level of added responsibility can help with this a person’s motivations will again, dictate how you should explore this with each person.  Some people would like to gain more respect from others by become an expert in a certain area so they are relied on for those technical aspects.  Others might want to be recognized or better known in the organization, this could be through making something they start or they’re responsible for more visible to others in the company.  For some, promotion might be an option where they work to not move up within the group, but to move a higher level in another area of the company, still giving them a promotion and keeping them in the company, despite not having promotion options within a group.  All of these techniques are just examples of providing career path improvements and a great way for any manager to do something to reduce turnover.

Set a Goal to Minimize Turnover

This is straight forward, if you want to improve something (reduce turnover) measure your current rate and set a specific goal to reduce that in the next year.  Use these techniques and come up with more ways to discuss career development with your staff, find ways to motivate them and build your culture to be positive so you are able to not only keep the talent you have, but attract new talent.  Once you have a goal for this, as with any goal, schedule some time to work on it, put it on your calendar, meet with your team members to discuss it and ensure you are taking some of these steps to manage turnover in your area.

Posted by Mike King under Business | 1 Comment »

5 Factors to Making Memorable Presentations

March 12th 2013

public speaking - strong messagePresentations are an extremely important skill in business and any leadership position as it is a way to influence others and gain support/followers toward some action.  Even presentations that are intended as training or teaching styles, still require this influence to convince the audience to believe what you present and to gain support and knowledge for that topic.  This makes presentations an important skill to learn for your career and any leadership roles you face.  Instead of covering a huge list of small things, I want to focus presentations skills on learning the most important elements since the smaller things all fit within these big components.  If you take one thing away from this articles, please let it be that you need to make your presentations memorable.  That is not done only with a funny joke or embarrassing moment (although that might help), its done by honing your presentation skills and making it memorable.  Lets look at the factors that help you do that.

Minimize Powerpoint

Powerpoint is a great assist in presenting to show visuals, however it is almost always overused and unless the audience is already intimately interested in the content, it doesn’t do much to make the presentation memorable.  You want your audience to remember the main point (more on that later) of your presentation, to remember you and how it was presented, not just some heading, nice wording or piece of text on your powerpoint slides.  So, drop most of your slides and never use powerpoint to guide you as the presenter from content to content.  Don’t read your slides and starting using powerpoint to assist your presentation, instead of you assisting powerpoint slides.  You are the presenter, you need to capture the audience and therefore, powerpoint should be used to show evidence of your message, support what you are saying and summarize your content only.  Nothing more.

Story Telling

In order to capture an audience you need to be authentic and believable.  Do this by using stories and personalizing what you have to say.  Your audience may or may not already know you, either way its important for them to connect which what you have to say and this is made much easier through telling stories and anecdotes that relate your own personal experience into your main points and convincing message.  Sometimes a story might be to give an example, to help teach a lesson learned, to be convincing due to your own experience or just to add something humorous or memorable to capture the audience’s attention.  Stories let your audience relate to you and your experience, so the story must be relevant to what your presentation is about, else you take them away from the message you want to leave them with.  Use them to help paint a visual picture, show a related experience or to teach something about your subject, always find a way to connect your stories into your presentation so they don’t only remember the story, but also your presentation itself.  Again, story telling should be used to support your main presentation.

Be Enthusiastic

Enthusiasm means many things when it comes time to presenting and needs to be obvious.  The fact is, being enthusiastic gives you more credibility in what you have to say and it will capture the attention of more people in your audience, whether you like be enthusiastic or not.  Have some energy in what you present, show some passion, smile, move around and use natural body gestures.  You need to have much more than your voice if you want to be remembered and if anyone is going to truly believe in your message and main point.

Share ONE Message

Most people cover far too much in presentations and don’t make it clear what their main point or message ever is.  Covering more material is generally not a good idea and so work on being concise with fewer topics that all support one main message.  Setup all your other topics to be evidence that support the main message you introduce early in the presentation.  Refer the evidence and sub topics back to this main one to lock it in to people’s memories.   Build on each idea with related subjects or additional evidence that continue to support the one main message you want to leave your audience with.  If you started with it, you support it throughout your presentation you must also go back to finish on that main message.

A great way to do this is to start with your main message and tell the benefits that it brings to your audience.  These benefits all help convince your audience why your topic is important.  Then walk through your subtopics and make them all supporting your main message, perhaps by covering small components of it, or by linking back related topics.  Each of these subtopics should have evidence as well to make ti believable and valid content.  Then when completed, summarize your presentation in reverse, taking your back through each subtopic and the benefits of them, linking it all back to the main message you started with, so you end up where you started with, restating your main message and topic.  Ask the audience for questions and comments if you have the opportunity to do so at the end as well.

Make it Memorable

We’ve covered a few ways to make a presentation memorable already, where having one main message is the best method.  There are smaller actions and tools you can use within the presentation though that will extend this even further.

Frame your Subtopics

Framing a subtopic means you are creating a mental shift that your audience will need to think on to connect to your subtopic.  It might be a picture or visual, a story, a diagram or chart or a demonstration to capture attention and draw the audience back to your next sub topic, always relating or supporting your main message.

Use Analogies

Analogies help people relate to new content by connecting your new content to existing thoughts or knowledge.  It creates associations in the mind and greatly improves memory of the content, so very powerful in presentations.  Make sure they are professional, suitable to your audience and in obviously relating back to your sub topics.

Have great Visuals

Your visuals will trigger more in your audiences mind than your words.  So, this doesn’t only mean your slides but the visuals you present personally as well.  Your movement and gestures combined with your slides all count as visuals.  Combining visual learning with audible learning helps to make it memorable.

Make something Hands On

Have your audience participate with something hands on or interactive.  When you draw them in to something they can touch or feel connected to, you combine kinesthetic learning, audible and visual together, the best way to make things memorable.

Posted by Mike King under Business | 3 Comments »

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