Monday, May 18, 2009

Stick a Fork in Me - I'm Done!

Many of you know my Director of Client Relations, Zan Jones. Zan has a good friend who just went through her second round of chemo. Thankfully she is doing as well as possible. I can see the pain on Zan's face when she gives me updates about her friend. Do you have friends or family going through tough times - like a health crisis or financial difficulty? If so, you may be empathizing so much that you risk taking on the pain and suffering that your friends feel.

If you work in patient care, social services, the court system or law enforcement, then you likely experience the pain and suffering of others every day. People who use empathy in their work daily are at risk of having the effects of burnout affect their professional and personal life.

When we listen to stories of fear, pain and suffering of others we likely can leave the Smart Zone due to what is sometimes referred to Compassion Fatigue. Compassion Fatigue is also thought of as Secondary Post Traumatic Stress. Once Compassion Fatigue sets in, the pain of others takes up your mental energy and eventually everything in your life can go dull. It could seem like nothing is fun anymore and you would feel burned out. If you'd like to see me discuss ways to add happiness to your life, click here to see my FOX 4 appearance from last week.

How do you know if you are suffering from Compassion Fatigue?

  • Mistakes go up and job performance goes down.

  • You can't stop thinking about your job or the problems of others.

  • Trouble sleeping.

  • General feeling of weariness.

  • You don't feel like doing anything - you feel blah.

  • You feel less satisfied, less energetic and less efficient.

Use these Smart Moves to cope with Compassion Fatigue:

  • Increase your EQ (Emotional Intelligence): EQ is the ability to use your emotions effectively and understand the emotions of others. Recognizing how others perceive you and the affect you have on others will help you identify burn out symptoms early.

  • Exercise: You may feel like you just don't have time to exercise. The body and mind benefits of exercise will make you more productive and are worth every minute. Click here to watch how Dr. Doug Ross (George Clooney) on ER used exercise to cope with compassion fatigue.

  • Maintain a personal life even if you don't feel like it. You may tend to eliminate the very things that will revitalize you like family dinners, eating lunch out, prayer and meditation and time with friends. Spend time with supportive people.
  • Have a sense of humor. People in stressful jobs, like 911 operators, may often have a wicked sense of humor - but it's still a sense of humor. When people who work with them recognize they are joking around less then it's a sign it's time for a break. Just for fun, watch this funny "stupid pet trick" on the Late Show with David Letterman.

  • Set limits between work and home activities. Easier said than done, I know. Don't play nurse or therapist in personal relationships.

  • Broaden your network. Get involved in professional or social organizations where like-minded people meet and discuss events and mutual problems. I recently spoke at a Child Abuse Awareness Conference put on by CITY House (Collin Intervention to Youth, Inc.) Click here to find out how you or your company can be recognized while helping youth in crisis.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Smart Zone in the News

A few posts ago I blogged about how to open the door to happiness in your life. The local FOX 4 Good Day show caught wind of it and asked to me to talk about in on the air. Watch it below or click here to watch it.

I was also able to share ways the Smart Zone can help you stay motivated today on the radio show Motivational Minds Radio. Click here to listen to my interview with Justin Sachs, author of Your Mailbox is Full and business consultant to Anthony Robbins and Mark Victor Hansen.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Story of Inspiration Can Keep You in the Smart Zone

Wow! Were you inspired by Susan Boyle's performance on Britain's Got Talent? If you haven't seen the footage yet (or want to see it just one more time) click here to watch it. I enjoy being inspired by people I meet. I have spent more time talking with people who are considering reinventing themselves because of layoffs, changes in their organization, or because they are ready for a change. We all have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. Recently, during my second appearance at a Presidents' weekend for a successful bank in Texas, I met a woman whose story is one of inspiration. Her name is Tina Solis.

Tina was born and raised in Mexico and moved to the United States when she was 12. Her family lived in poverty. As Tina says, "We didn't have TV, bikes or toys. We made our own baseballs out of tape and played with that. When I first came to the United States I started helping my mother clean houses. Somewhere along the way I decided I could do better - I could do more."

Robert Gandy, III (Bank CEO), Tina Solis and Me

Tina was ready to re-enter the job market after staying home to raise her young children. She always wanted to be a teller. I asked her why. She wasn't sure. She just knew it was in her gut. After A LOT of persistence she was given an opportunity at a local branch of a bank in Texas. That was 20 years ago. She still works for that bank and over time, moved up to become a Branch Manager and President of the First National Bank, Rogers Branch. As I enjoyed her company during dinner at the Presidents' event, I heard a number of Smart Moves from Tina and thought I would pass them along as all of us look to keep Working in the Smart Zone:

  • Find a way to do what you are asked to do: I listened to Tina tell how she would learn as much as she could when she found there were gaps in her knowledge. Initially Tina knew her English speaking needed to be improved. She "studied" at night to be the best at what she was asked to do. When I asked her what motivated her. It wasn't money. It was her thirst for knowledge.

  • Don't downplay your achievements. Tina did not have any banking experience which was a big roadblock. She did the best she could with the resources she had. Click here to read my feature story in the May issue of Plano Profile where I talk about this topic. When Tina finally was able to talk to a bank representative about hiring her she told him about how valuable she would be as an employee. In Tina's words, "I told him I had experience working with money at a grocery store as a cashier. I had experience managing all of the cashiers. I am a hard worker and will make this my career. I am a loyal person and will be here for the long term."

  • Be helpful to everyone. Tina was so hungry to learn that she quickly intimidated her coworkers with her work ethic. Some people were even hostile to her. Tina told me, "I learned things really fast and was always asking for more work to do. I wanted to learn how to do extra reports and eventually was promoted to team leader." Tina didn't use her knowledge as a weapon - she was always glad to teach what she knew to her coworkers and managers. She didn't brag about everything she knew. Instead, she was humble about it.

  • "Be a star," is what Tina tells people. "Do what it takes to be the best you can be." When Tina was asked to be a branch president she was so nervous about it that "I wanted to say 'no' at first. But then I talked to my family and started training in the areas I was nervous about."

Chapter 10 of my book, Working in the Smart Zone, lists characteristics of optimists. Optimists are persistent in achieving goals in spite of setbacks and they are hopeful for success in daily work. Tina told me that she sometimes finds herself getting out of the Smart Zone and then she works really hard to find her way back. I am inspired by Tina's work ethic and humble spirit. Tina makes me want to be a star!