Embarking on a New Career Path

Abandoning familiarity is frightening. Fear of the future and work-related anxiety is common, but for many, excitement is also a welcomed side effect. Envisioning the accomplishments to come and the adventure awaiting ahead can be just the motivation you need to spark your career change. Although the process of switching professions will be a challenging endeavor, there are steps you can take to ease your transition. Here are four tips to help you successfully embark on a new career path.

Have Confidence
Naturally, doing something you’ve never done before can breed uncertainty, but in spite of your fears, you must remain confident in yourself. Your new coworkers need to trust in your capabilities and resolve. Setting the tone starts with you. Fight your instinct to feel as if you don’t belong or don’t deserve the job. Own your space. Rest assured that you are there for a reason and have something special to offer your new career field. Hold your head high, even if you have to ‘fake it until you make it’. Soon enough, your confidence will become genuine and reassured.

Find a Mentor
Having an experienced ally makes all the difference. As soon as you can, find a mentor who is willing to help you fill in the gaps. Being the newcomer is difficult. You won’t want to rely on just anybody for support and advice. The best mentors are approachable, available, wise and helpful. Be selective in your choice, then use your resource to help you find your footing. Once you’ve adjusted and mastered your new career, you can pay if forward by mentoring someone else who is new to the field.

Study Hard
Being surrounded by experts and longtime professionals will undoubtedly create the occasional gap in knowledge (or experience). To remedy this you will have to study harder and more often than your counterparts. If you encounter a subject that you haven’t completely mastered or don’t feel fully comfortable with yet, take it upon yourself to put in extra study time when you clock out. Putting in those additional hours of self-initiated study will show your team you are dedicated to pulling your weight despite your inexperience. Fortunately, in due time, you’ll notice the number of topics that require study steadily decreasing.

Remain Open to Feedback
Learning something new comes with making mistakes. While it’s never fun to be informed of your errors, it is a necessary evil when it comes to improving. You can’t control how feedback is given to you, but you can control how you receive it. Remain open to the possibility that you’ll receive constructive criticism, sometimes in moments that you least expect. Do your best to take it in stride. Afterward, you have the freedom to decide what to do with the information you’ve received. Remember you aren’t required to give every opinion legitimacy and you have full discretion over filtering what is worth addressing or ignoring.

Following your dreams and changing your career takes courage, hard work and patience. Enduring the highs and lows of the transition will yield a reward worth seizing. Remember these four tips along your journey and enjoy the success that follows.   

Brad and Julie DuncanEmbarking on a New Career Path
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How To Be A Better Leader: Improve Your Listening Skills

Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say
– Andy Stanley

It is typical for people to associate effective communication traits with a competent leader. We expect the person who heads a team to be skilled in conveying ideas through talking or writing. This is perfectly understandable because leaders frequently share information and ideas. Their words, whether spoken or written, can form a foundation that can move a team upward or build a sharp axe that can crush a team’s spirit. Indeed, everyone knows that being articulate with words is an invaluable trait for thriving leaders.

Still, aside from the ability to speak and write well, there is one more important characteristic in communication that all leaders should have. This is the ability to listen well. Being a good listener is a crucial trait because a team where the leader is the only one who keeps on talking is not likely to succeed. Team collaboration is best when everybody in the team feels free to share inputs because they know that their concerns do not fall on deaf ears. So how can a leader hone their listening skills? The following pointers may be helpful.

Avoid distractions.

Even great speakers get bothered by audience members who do not seem to pay attention while they are giving their speech. Aside from being rude, it can also diminish a speaker’s confidence. For this reason, it is very important for leaders to learn how to listen with great attention to anyone they are talking to. To do this, they may have to eliminate possible distractions that can prevent them from focusing on the moment. They may need to turn off phone and email notifications to listen closely to what the other person is saying. A leader who does this will make someone feel respected and valued, and can even motivate them to work more efficiently.

Be genuinely interested.

You can listen with great focus but if you are not genuinely interested about what the other person is saying, the words can quickly fade into thin air. For words to stick in your mind you have to be interested in other people’s thoughts and ideas. This is something that is hard to fake. Feigning interest is not something you can do and hide from for long. On the contrary, good leaders take time to listen to others because they are excited to discover someone’s strength, potential and even weaknesses. For this reason, leaders who desires growth for the whole team aim for real connection and are are eager to get to know everyone on the team.

Pay attention to body language.

Not everyone can express their thoughts well and great leaders know this. To really understand or hear what the other person is trying to say, leaders sometimes need to read between the lines. They know how to notice subtle signs that show if a person is uncomfortable or scared. A bit of sensitivity can go a long way because it will help the leader show the appropriate response that a person needs in a particular situation. For example, a leader who noticed that a person is shy may respond with words that will encourage someone to open up. If a person seems uncomfortable, the leader may give the person more time to organize his or her thoughts.

Do not judge.

A great team is a team where everyone contributes to the best of their ability and does not feel any apprehension in sharing their feedback. To achieve this ideal status, you have to create an environment where everyone is encouraged to speak up. You can do this by controlling your reaction whenever someone decides to give a piece of his or her mind. You have to learn how to listen without letting your emotions get the better off you. You do not make hasty judgments or display uncontrolled anger. Instead you listen patiently until someone is done talking and assess your reactions objectively.

Efficient communication skills can take you places and can help you achieve your goals. But as you freely express your thoughts, remember to pay close attention to what the others are saying, too. Do not forget that flawless speech and writing may make you a leader, but if you want to be a remarkable one, you need to strive to be a great listener.

Brad and Julie DuncanHow To Be A Better Leader: Improve Your Listening Skills
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Be A Better Leader With These New Year Resolutions!

Leadership is a journey that has its share of ups and downs. You can probably recall glorious moments when your team aced a big project. There may also be times when your group has to rise through failures and losses. Heading a team can feel like treading a rough road as leaders continuously try various ways to tweak and improve their management styles.

For this reason, the new year is also a wonderful time for leaders. The upcoming year presents numerous opportunities to achieve more and be better! You can avoid past mistakes or hasten current progress by carefully reflecting on the things you can do to enhance or change your leadership tactics. Leaders who set their sights on growth and development can start the year right with the suggested New Year’s resolutions below.

Be more involved with your team.

As a leader, you may enjoy power and privilege to some extent. Yet when you come to think of it, a leader is nothing without a team to lead. This irony illustrates that leaders should make it a priority to connect with the people under their wing. If you hardly know anything about your staff, then you must have been leading from a distance.

This management approach can create problems such as miscommunication and poor judgment. Your staff may also find it hard to develop trust and respect for you. This is counterproductive because a research study published by Ken Blanchard Companies reveals that employees deliver better work performance if they trust their leaders. To be more involved and develop trust with your team, you can arrange social events that encourage interaction. You can also develop an open-door policy so everyone can feel free and confident to voice their sentiments or share ideas.

Be better in time-management.

Does your year-end review reveal that you failed to accomplish many of your goals because you ran out of time for it? It is a clear sign that you need to improve your time-management skills. You can examine the activities that ate up most of your time last year that also did not produce favorable results. Maybe you will realize that you have to minimize office meetings with no clear agenda or you may discover that your staff spends too much on easy, doable tasks. To prove this point, a survey done by Harvard Business Review states the majority of managers view office meetings to be inefficient. To increase productivity in the workplace, you can resolve to eliminate distractions and set strict, but reasonable deadlines for tasks.

Love your role as a leader.

Tasks and challenges appear easier when you love what you do. So as a leader, you may need to do some self-reflection to assess how passionate you are about guiding and coaching a whole team. If you see your tasks as blessings rather than burdens, you are on the right track. But if coming to work everyday feels like a struggle, you may need to change your perspective. Choosing to be grateful for the opportunity to lead is a good start. If you truly enjoy your role, you will be more productive and can lead more effectively. Moreover, your enthusiasm will radiate and positively influence your team,

The New Year is always a time for joyous celebrations because it signifies fresh hopes and new beginnings. In terms of leadership, it is possible that the past year has not been so good, but this does not matter going forward. With the new year ahead, you have a whole new chance to start over, fix things and tremendously improve. Take the first step to improvement by making the resolutions above.  

Brad and Julie DuncanBe A Better Leader With These New Year Resolutions!
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Introverts Make Great Leaders Because Of These Traits

Leadership requires a great deal of courage. As the authority figure in a group, leaders are often portrayed as tough and strict. You are expected to set the rules and the direction for the whole team to follow. These tasks require a certain level of assertiveness and confidence; traits you would usually see in an extroverted person.

Does this mean that people who are naturally quiet and reserved should abandon leadership goals? Definitely not! A 10-year study done by ghSmart, an entrepreneurial consulting company, revealed that the most successful CEOs display introvert traits. Some of these traits are listed below and show why introverts make great leaders.

Observes and listens well.

Introverts are probably not the first one to share ideas or voice out concerns in a meeting. Instead of doing all the talking, they are happy to listen to what others have to say. They are great observers, too, allowing them to carefully assess the situation. This trait makes it possible for them to see a situation in a new perspective. Once introverts decide to speak up, they may surprise everyone with fresh and brilliant ideas. An introvert’s ability to listen intently to others and think things through are essential traits for leadership. Filtering ideas in one’s head before spilling it out avoids confusion and helps a team focus on the key points of a project.

Makes careful decisions.

Decision-making is one of the most difficult tasks for a leader i and being impulsive will not help., You cannot afford to make hasty decisions when managing a group because the choices you make affect the whole team. While others may find it hard to hold off on making decisions, taking time to reflect before deciding is one of the strengths of an introvert. A leader who decides after thoroughly evaluating all sides of a situation usually makes the right choice. This helps a leader earns a team’s trust and respect.

Can work independently.

Being a social butterfly may not be the best asset of an introvert who is seen as someone who dislikes crowds or events. Though introverts are not necessarily anti-socials, they do not mind being left alone in a task. The ability to function well even while alone is beneficial as a leader. As the head of a team, you cannot rely on the support of others all the time. Instead, you should  learn how to perform tasks independently.

Can control emotions.

Conflicts are a part of life but some people cannot help but panic when things suddenly go wrong. Extroverts may have a hard time controlling their emotions. On the other hand, introverts who spend a lot of time processing thoughts in their head can think about the most appropriate reaction to a situation. The calm nature of an introverted leader can ease the worries of group members. It will also keep the motivation of a group running high despite tough times.

The notion that someone with an introvert personality will be an ineffective leader is one unfair misconception that should be broken. If you see yourself as an introvert, your chance to be a good leader is as good as that of an extroverted person. So do not ever hesitate to take a leadership role. Your innate traits as an introverted person can even make you a better leader.

Brad and Julie DuncanIntroverts Make Great Leaders Because Of These Traits
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How To Regain Team Spirit After Failure: Leadership Tips

A good leader is supposed to motivate and guide a team to victory. Oftentimes, the vision of success and all the rewards that come with it is a powerful way to keep the team spirit up and running. Yet the chance of failure looms in every endeavor. A Harvard Journal survey even states that nine out of ten business start-ups fail.

So in the unfortunate scenario of failure, where and how does a leader gather the nerve to convince the team to look at the bright side and start over? The task of inspiring people is always a challenge, but to have the courage to keep on persuading everyone to give their best efforts in times of defeat is the mark of a true leader.

Prioritize your well-being.

A leader is not immune to the devastating effects of failing to accomplish a target. Just like team members, the one in charge is likely to suffer from bruised ego and crushed confidence. In fact, the head of an organization may even feel worse.

So, first things first. As a leader, start the healing process by taking steps to manage your own emotions. Make sure that you are not shrouded in negativity once you decide to face your group after a loss. It does not mean putting on a false front but showing them that you are in no way about to give up. A research study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology concluded that a leader’s mindset affects the mood of team members. It is therefore important that a leader continue to cast a positive mood even through tough times.

Give ample time for recovery.

Even though you want to make it clear that you are all moving forward, you do not have to rush into things. If you pressure everyone to move on too soon, you may end up with stressed and frustrated team members. On the other hand, giving everyone a chance to feel bad or vent about it can pave the way to a fresh start.

Discuss what went wrong.

The worst thing you can do is totally forget about the failure. Instead, you want to emphasize all the valuable lessons that the team can learn from it. So it is advisable to set a special meeting where everyone can freely talk about it. If you want this meeting to achieve its goal, acknowledge the mistakes done but do not resort to pointing fingers.

You may have set an unrealistic target or failed to lay a contingency plan. Whatever the reason, a thorough discussion about the circumstances that lead to failure will help the team avoid the same problems next time. Even so, while reflecting on the mistakes, you should also recognize the right things done. Aside from letting the team see that failures are sometimes inevitable, it is also a good reminder that failures can sometimes be a prelude to success.

Get the team ready.

While healing takes time, your team cannot get stuck in a roadblock for too long. As the team rise from the failures, an effective leader lifts everyone’s morale and gets them ready for new goals. At this stage, it is also a good idea to encourage everyone to contribute new ideas or share suggestions. After a failure, you want to see a stronger and wiser team that is ready and eager to tackle challenges ahead.

Failures can happen but the exceptional leader takes it as an opportunity to show how an organization can learn and grow from it. A leader also knows that the process of getting over a loss may be difficult, yet understands that sometimes it is just a phase that they need to go through to reach success.

Brad and Julie DuncanHow To Regain Team Spirit After Failure: Leadership Tips
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Three Everyday Ways to Get an Adrenaline Rush

Amusement park roller coasters, extreme sports, and haunted houses were all created for the enjoyment of thrill-seekers. A certain sect of the population enjoys the controlled feeling of fear, stress, and anxiety. The jitters, butterflies, heart pounding, and blood rushing are all symptoms caused by an increase of adrenaline (or epinephrine). These symptoms make thrill-seekers feel alive. They walk away from their action adventures feeling invigorated and understandably look forward to their next chance to chase that same sensation. Adventurists often take risks that their opposites would find dangerous, but there are plenty of smaller, everyday events that can get the blood pumping too. If you want to introduce a bit of adrenaline chasing into your life, but want to start out slow, check out the following 3 ways you can do a little thrill-seeking of your own.

  1. Expose Yourself to Your Phobia

While most of us deliberately aim to avoid our phobias, thrill-seekers may thrive on the excitement of facing those fears head-on. The first step is to identify your greatest fear. Common phobias include arachnophobia (the fear of spiders), acrophobia (the fear of heights), and mysophobia (the fear of germs). These three are only a few of the many. Next, locate a place or situation that directly houses or addresses your fear. For example, if you are afraid of snakes, a pet store is a great place to visit. After that, decide how scared you want to be. Should you just visit snakes that are locked safely inside of cage or should you go all-in and find someone who will let you hold a snake? Whichever you decide, the act of conquering your fear should provide a healthy dose of adrenaline.

  1. Perform

Speaking of phobias, glossophobia – the fear of public speaking, is another. Although the term glossophobia is commonly used to refer to speaking only, public performances happen to fall under the same umbrella. If you are a stranger to the stage, get your adrenaline pumping by participating in an audition, or performing karaoke or amateur stand-up comedy. Some people have had theater and dance dreams their entire lives but have never auditioned for an official spot or role. Karaoke can be intimidating for those who have never taken their singing endeavors further than the shower. Many people think of themselves as funny, yet haven’t written a comedy routine for a crowd. Yes, the thought of rejection or failure is scary, and the journey may be more rewarding than the end result – but that’s ok. As thrill seekers, our focus is on finding those moments that cause a rush of excitement. The risk is a challenge. Conquering the challenges is thrilling. And who knows? You may even find a new passion in performing. No matter the outcome, you win.

  1. Plan a Big Surprise

On the surface, planning a surprise doesn’t sound traditionally thrilling. However, anyone who has done it can confirm that it definitely cause adrenaline surges throughout the process. Attempting to plan a major event, without ruining the surprise, comes with close calls (anxiety), using quiet methods of problem-solving (challenge), and obsessively worrying about hiding evidence of the upcoming surprise (fear). All the markers of a controlled stress event are found within the process of surprise planning, even down to the feeling of excitement in the moments leading up to the reveal. While this is likely one of the most conservative methods of achieving an adrenaline rush, it’ll still get the job done.

Adventure is all around you. Don’t miss your chance to add some excitement to life by relying only on the traditional approaches of getting your adrenaline fix. Be purposeful about creating enjoyable challenge and risk in your day-to-day and start living the life of a thrill-seeker.

Brad and Julie DuncanThree Everyday Ways to Get an Adrenaline Rush
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Six Easy Ways to Be an Amazing Motivational Leader

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Great leaders know that motivation is the key to success. Motivation is all about inspiring people to want keep going. People only give their max effort to those who will value it the most. You have to find a way to show them that you are that person. Keep reading for 6 ways to motivate your team:

Recognition

The best leaders take time to recognize accomplishments, improvements, and efforts that go above and beyond. Giving it your all, only to receive no acknowledgement, is demotivating. Some leaders make the mistake of justifying their inaction with sentiments like, “You should work hard, no matter who notices.” While most people do work hard, no matter the circumstance, a lack of acknowledgement can make employees feel that their efforts are intentionally being ignored. Resentment builds and before they know it, their hardest worker is now doing the bare minimum, out of spite. This can be avoided by being intentional about praise.

Empathy

People are more intrinsically inclined to produce their best work when they feel they are valued and understood. A little empathy goes a long way. Whether employees are feeling under the weather, or facing personal tragedies, they will undoubtedly feel comforted knowing their leader is genuinely concerned. Putting yourself in their shoes gives you a different viewpoint and helps you respond from that perspective. It allows you to show patience instead of frustration, kindness instead of annoyance, and mercy instead of punishment. Empathy allows you to be more human than business minded and sometimes, that’s what chaotic situations require. Real people face real problems. Everyday won’t be ideal. Having a leader who understands and respects that makes all the difference in how employees feel overall about their job and leader.

Trust

Trust is motivating factor that is often overlooked in the business realm. When a leader extends her trust, it illustrates her confidence in her employees. Having a leader who knows that you are reliable and capable motivates you to do all that you can to continue to be trustworthy.

Trust at work can present itself in many different forms. Leaders should trust employees to:

  • Problem solve without being micromanaged
  • Share their thoughts
  • Handle greater responsibility
  • Be autonomous
  • Choose how they work best
  • Manage when they need time away from work

If your team has shown themselves to be worthy of trust, give it to them. They won’t let you down.

Rewards

Most people are loyal to their company, regularly go beyond the call of duty, put in more hours than they have to, and take pride in their work. While gratefulness and words of affirmation are both necessary and appreciated, tangible gifts really drive the point home. It’s one thing to say you value strong work ethic; it’s another to prove it.

Consider giving:

  • Random days off
  • Catered lunches
  • Vacation packages
  • Gift cards

Fun Environment

Fact: Happy people are more effective. No one wants to wake up early, get dressed, and sit in traffic only to spend 8 hours in a place that they hate. The nature of the work may be serious, but that doesn’t mean that the office needs to be stuffy. Create an environment where stress is low, laughs are plenty and your staff actually wants to smile. Schedule team builders, leave the office occasionally, decorate, open some windows. Consider implementing spirit weeks and parties. Relax the dress code. Play games, sing karaoke, take dance breaks – be lighthearted.

In the same regard, make sure to have strict policies against things that cause bad feelings in the office. Bullying, sexual harassment, and workplace gossip should all have a zero tolerance policy.

Advancement

Humans desire growth; it’s in our DNA. While familiarity is comfortable and change can be scary, most of us still set goals in pursuit of the next level. We desire challenge and celebrate our ability to conquer it. Even with the best pay, benefits, and leadership, an unchallenged employee will leave. As a respected leader, know that this is true and plan ahead. Encourage employees to continually pursue higher education and advanced certifications. Don’t frustrate your team by failing to provide new opportunities. Prove that you see the progress they’ve made and you have a vision for their potential. Give them new responsibilities that you think they’d do well with. Offer new roles and compensate accordingly.

As a leader, your job is to continually bring out the best of each member of your team. If you prioritize your employees and they will, in turn, prioritize the business. The 6 methods above will help you make motivation your mission.

Brad and Julie DuncanSix Easy Ways to Be an Amazing Motivational Leader
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3 Unpredictable Things Leadership Can Teach You

When you think of the term ‘leadership’ and what it means, what words come to mind? Determination, commitment, discipline, wisdom, values, passion, purpose? All of those sound about right. And it’s true. When you practice and hone your leadership skills you will become more determined, committed, disciplined, and wise. Your values, passion, and purpose will become stronger and more grounded in what you believe. But there are also some things you learn along the way that you wouldn’t expect right off the bat. Here are 3 unpredictable things leadership can teach you.

Leadership can teach you to be interdependent

Traditionally, leadership is all about being a strong, confident, and completely self-reliant person. But surprisingly, the most powerful leaders have learned the importance of interdependence. Being mutually dependent on someone means you have the freedom to learn from each other. True leaders embrace the opportunity to gain insight any chance they can––including from the people they mentor. Through mentoring others, true leaders become a pro at learning from others and creating strong interdependent relationships.

Leadership can teach you to take a step back

Leaders are naturally assertive, go-getter individuals. But the best and most experienced leaders have learned when to take a step back and let the other person or teams of people learn for themselves. When you’re not visibly taking charge of a situation, you are empowering the people you lead to use their resources and develop their own strengths. The best leaders have found a passion in developing the strengths and talents of others.

Leadership can teach you to welcome your failures

While earning a leadership role requires a great deal of success, the path to this success is not without failure along the way. However, not only does true leadership teach you to accept your failures, but it teaches you to become accustomed to it and even welcome it. In fact, failure can become one of the most powerful enablers because true leaders know that it’s what you do with your failures that defines your influence as a leader.

So, yes, being in a leadership position does require a large amount of determination and wisdom. But it also takes so much more than that. The next time you find yourself in a position of influence pay close attention to these 3 unpredictable things leadership can teach you.  

Brad and Julie Duncan3 Unpredictable Things Leadership Can Teach You
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Is Success a Destination?

Before you clicked on this article, you probably figured that the answer to, “Is success a destination?” was a resounding, “No.” Well, if you guessed that, then you’re absolutely correct. Success is not a singular destination. There are many paths on the way to success, and success doesn’t look the same to any two travelers along the way. Success is so much more than a destination, and frantically peeking at other people’s roadmaps to success will only land you smack-dab in the middle of misery central.

Is Success a Destination?

More Than a Destination, Success is a Journey

As with happiness (and other worthy virtues to strive for), the journey on the way to success is vastly more important than the arrival.

If you stay focused on the destination alone, you would miss all of the brightest moments on your journey to success. There will be twists, and there will be turns. There will be steep cliffs off to one side, and the longer you travel along the winding road, the more striking views you’ll encounter through your windshield.

Make sure to take snapshots of those monumental moments. You’ll be glad you have proof of the journey once you’ve reached the end of your metaphorical road.

Success is Not a Destination; It’s a State of Mind

When you get it in your head that success is not a finite destination and is, instead, a state of mind, then your whole perspective on failure will change. Defeatists will believe that failure means the end of their journey to success.

People who have a positive outlook on success and recognize that it’s a state of mind will be able to see failure for what it is. Each failure is an opportunity to learn and to grow. Failure is not the end of the road; it’s a way to reroute your metaphorical GPS.

Beyond a Destination, Success is What You Make It

No one can tell you precisely what success is. Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one man’s success is another man’s failure. That’s why it’s vitally important not to compare journeys. Trying to keep up with the Joneses is the death of success.

Success is what you make it, so make the most of what you’ve been given.

Brad and Julie DuncanIs Success a Destination?
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