How to be the calm within the storm

After publishing a blog post on the benefits of
remaining calm at work, the next logical step is to share some strategies on
how to actually do it. The following tips I’ve pulled together from articles,
my own experience and my observations of others. Enjoy!

Tips on remaining calm
at work:

1. Aim to remain calm

Perhaps the most important step in remaining calm in any
situation is to make a conscious decision to try and do it. Setting a goal
means that you’re more likely to monitor your emotions and take steps to
control them.

2. Keep work in perspective

When you are facing pressure at work, take a moment to put
the situation in perspective. How important is this task in relation to the
other aspect of your life? If you were to fail at this task, miss a deadline,
what are the consequences? Bear in mind that you’re likely to be supported by
your colleagues and your boss if you’ve had other successes at work. Lastly, be
sure to remember that it’s only work!

3. Consciously control your emotions

During one of the training sessions at work, we learned
about the concept of an emotional “pause button”. We were taught that it’s each
one of us who is in control of our reactions and even our emotions.

We were asked to visualize our partner returning home late
from work, for the third time this
week, when s/he knew we had a dinner
party planned. We were then told to pause and visualize that our partner hasn’t
been delayed at work, but has actually been involved in a car accident.

Obviously the emotional responses between your partner being
delayed at work and being involved in an accident are very different. The point
of course, is that we each have the ability to pause and even control our emotional
responses. The next time you feel yourself becoming stressed or agitated, choose
to pause and remain calm.

4. Exercise

The connection between exercise and stress relief is well documented.

5. Stretch

I have found that regular stretching relaxes the body and
the mind.

6. Breathe deeply

Another well researched suggestion is to practice taking
slow and deep breaths to calm yourself.

7. Meditate

I’ve mentioned meditating in relation to generating creative ideas, but it’s also been shown to reduce stress.

8. Ask an expert for advice

If you know someone at your work that has an amazing ability
to remain calm in any situation, ask them how they are able to achieve it. Chances
are good that they’ll b able to expand on my list above.

Boyne City: Small-town growth with character

There’s a lot going on in Boyne City. The city’s population surged by more than 6 percent in the last decade, new businesses are open, a factory is under construction and the list of community events never ends. Some say Boyne City is the “jewel of Charlevoix County,” but it’s irrefutable that the town bucked economic trends in recent years and found its niche as a popular place to visit, live or retire. Boyne City’s population increased by 6.6 percent since the 2000 turn-of-the-century census and now stands at 3,735 residents, more than 14 percent of the county’s total population. That bucked trends across the county and region, where population loss dominated. “I think we’re beating most of the trends out there,” said Michael Cain, city manager. Cain attributes the city’s success to community planning efforts. Boyne City keeps an active and award-winning Main Street program to benefit its downtown region, high-speed broadband Internet cables will soon run through town and persistent infrastructure upgrades all combine to poise Boyne City for continued growth, Cain said. “We’re trying to make sure we have a year-round economy that has year-round success,” he said. Full story from Petoskey News-Review

Why be the calm within the storm

“Be consistently calm – irrespective of the situation” was a
piece of advice my manager gave me early in my career. The following list briefly
outlines the benefits of keeping your cool at work; some obvious, some perhaps
less so.

Benefits of remaining

1. It’s good for your health

The negative impacts to your health of stress are well documented.

2. Calmness and clarity of thought leads to better

It is very easy to fall into the trap of making decisions
based on emotion, not logic.  For
example, no matter how much effort or money has gone into a project, if the
future benefits do not exceed the current and future costs, then the project
should be immediately cancelled.

3. Your staff members are more likely to inform you of issues

If your staff members are fearful of your response to bad
news, they will seek to hide issues as opposed to raising them so that they can
be properly addressed. What you don’t
know, can definitely hurt you.

4. You will gain respect

The ability to make calm and considered decisions in stressful
situations will gain you respect. I used to work with a colleague who,
while reasonably competent, was excessively nervous at work. Unfortunately it
depleted the confidence his superiors had in his abilities, which ultimately
impacted his career progression.

5. It’s something you can take pride in.

Given that so few people actively control their emotions, achieving
this feat is worthy of great pride.

Although this is only a brief summary of the benefits of
staying calm at work, I hope that it is sufficiently convincing that you now
aspire to be the calmest person in the room. Be sure to subscribe to this blog so
that you receive my next post on the strategies that I employ to manage my

Promise good, deliver great

I first heard the phrase “promise good, deliver great”
during one of the senior executive speeches at work. He was providing advice to
members of the organization’s graduate program and this was one of the things
that he believed had contributed to his success.

One of the key elements of building a reputation of
being a trustworthy and valuable team member or supplier is to deliver on your
promises. In order to do that, you will need to be able to accurately estimate
how long it will take you to complete specified tasks.

I recently learned about “planning fallacy”, which is
the “tendency for people and organizations to underestimate how long they will
need to complete a task, even when they have past experience of similar tasks
over-running”. I am surprised that it has taken me so long to discover this concept
as my initial estimates of task duration have often been too short.

The next time you tell your manager, customers or
stakeholders when you will deliver a piece of work, consider building a buffer
into your estimations to account for 1) planning fallacy and 2) unexpected
events that are outside your control. This technique will ensure that you are
not caught out by planning fallacy and will assist you to deliver against your
promises and ideally, exceed them.

Note: the topic of this blog article is “promise good, deliver great” not “under promise and over deliver”. In promising good, you won’t always be able to deliver great and that’s to be desired. If you continually “under promise and over deliver” your manager or customers will learn that you deliberately under promise (or manage expectations) and will expect you to always deliver ahead of your stated timeframes. This can be very costly to your reputation.

Boyne City downtown seeks spot on National Register of Historic Places

Commissioners in Boyne City unanimously agreed to seek recognition for a portion of downtown to be listed as a district on the National Register of Historic Places. The general study area is South Lake Street to Main Street, Water Street from Lake Street to the Dilworth Hotel, the 100-block of South Park Street and a portion of Main Street between Lake and Park streets. If approved, the proposed district would be listed among the cultural resources across the nation that are most worthy of preservation. Full story from Petoskey News-Review.

Ten rules of the (business) game

As part of my organization’s graduate program, a variety of
speakers were brought in to help us succeed in our roles. The list below was
given to us by one of the speakers. Please only use it as a starting point for
reflection and remember that it’s just one person’s point of

Visualize working in business as a game and these are the

1. Never ever
take it personally

If it hasn't happened already, you are going to encounter
criticism throughout your career and you'll need to find a way to learn from it. 

I respond by trying to separate my self-worth
from my skills and performance. If I were told that I have horrible management
skills, then that’s just an area for improvement and not a reflection on me as
a human.

2. Nothing beats sheer

This one is reasonably self explanatory and a key driver of building your personal brand.

3. Lower your
expectations of leadership

Leaders are just people who use their skills and experience to
try and figure out how best to succeed.

When I first started in the corporate world, I thought that
the senior leaders were smarter and wiser than the average employee... hence
their seniority. In some instances this might be true, but in most instances
leaders are in positions of power due to a combination of desire and fortune.

Setting realistic expectations of leaders will help you to
understand why they make certain decisions and how you can add value.

4. The game is not

The leaders of public, for profit companies are legally
required to act in the best interest of their shareholders, which can sometimes
be at odds to the best interests of their current staff members.

It’s worth remembering that the rules of the game will
change based on many things outside of the organization (competitors, industry,
government etc.), but you will still be held accountable.

5. It’s what
you know, who you know and who knows you

I think this quote is fantastic and it also ties into networking and personal brand.

6. You always have a
choice (including the way you think)

This statement applies to so much more than just business.
How do you respond to the opportunities and challenges in your life?

7. Remember that all business
is a game

I find it useful to keep business in perspective; it’s one
aspect of your life, along with many others.

8. You get what you
settle for

Although connected to goals and motivation, I don’t
entirely agree with this one as I feel that the speaker intentionally chose
wording to generate an emotional response from the audience.

9. Remember to enjoy

I love this concept and try to apply it in all the elements of
my life.

10. Make your own

If you can find a way to improve business, or the above list for that matter, then seek approval and go do it...especially if you can involve others in the process!