Sunday, November 27, 2011

What To Do When You Have a Secret

Have you ever been afraid you might get in trouble at work for reporting something bad that you are told to keep secret? A horrible secret was revealed last week with Joe Paterno and Penn State. Secrets also come out during presidential campaigns and in some companies when someone leaves the company. As a psychologist I hear secrets and private information all the time. Many times when I'm told a secret, it's the first time that person has revealed it to anyone. 
There are many secrets that can be serious and harmful. No one should take this subject lightly. Harmful secrets like those about abuse, addiction, neglect and dishonesty define people and their outlook on the world.
Use these Smart Moves when you have a secret and you will Stay in the Smart Zone:
  • Secrets can bring happiness.  Think of a surprise party your friends are planning or a gift someone is about to receive. My friend Julie gave her 14 year old daughter a surprise party this past weekend but someone spoiled it and her daughter found out (Darn!).  Maybe a friend is expecting a baby and waiting for the right moment to tell the news.  Most people will agree, these are secrets you should keep. 
  • Secrets give you perceived power over someone else. "I know something you don't know - nana nana boo boo." This may sound like elementary school but you and I know that grown-ups do this, too. Think about it. Even at work knowing secrets can give you an edge over your coworkers or competitors. This type of power can be dangerous and even illegal. Proceed with caution. 
  • Secrets give you Brownie points. Telling secrets can elevate your status with friends and coworkers. Think about how you feel when someone reveals a secret to you. Letting others in on your secret gives them a stronger connection with you and vise versa. It can sometimes build trust but it can also build suspicion. Me, I tend to err on the side of caution. Brownie points sometimes are really not worth it. 
  • Secrets can cause anxiety. Keeping a secret often prevents people from dealing with the problem at hand and creates more stress. Revealing secrets is very helpful when it is done in a safe, non-judgmental environment. It helps people let go of an issue and think about it more clearly.
  • Confidence in your confidant. We tell secrets because we trust others not to reveal them. Remember Deep Throat in the Watergate scandal? In reality, people are pretty likely to tell your secret - even if it's just to their spouse or best friend. It's human nature. Have confidence in the person you confide in. 
  • Know the Smart Zone Secret. If you have attended my presentations you know I always end with the Smart Zone Secret which is to take the focus off yourself. Now that is a secret worth telling!
Secrets can be harmful and can abuse power. Secrets can sometimes make a person feel special. Err on the side of caution and learn from others' mistakes. I like the kind of secrets that make a person feel special because many times that gesture is returned. Now that is a great way to Live Smart by Living in the Smart Zone.

Monday, November 7, 2011

5 Ways to be More Productive in the Smart Zone

A few weeks ago I ran the first 5K I've run in a long time. Many of you know I trained triathletes in my undergraduate school years and used to be quite the "Work Out Queen." But now I'm more of the "At Work Queen" and my running days have been shortened to fast gym workouts and early morning dog walk jogs.

Sam at 5K Run
I ran the race with my youngest son Sam and my oldest Alex. I actually had to stop running and walk part of the race. I was really disappointed when I had to stop and walk. But after walking a few minutes and catching my breath I was able to start back up and finish the race running strong.

This is such a metaphor to how a day can be. It starts off productive and then something happens to break your stride and your productivity all goes to "Hell in a handbasket," as my oh so sweet grandmother, Ga Ga, used to say. Just because you get derailed in the middle of the day doesn't mean you can't course-correct.

People in the Smart Zone use their emotional intelligence to get back on track. Know your weak spots for when you are about to get derailed so that you finish your day running strong. Use these 5 Smart Moves to get more done this week:
  1. Sleep in your work-out clothes. It's so difficult to get out of a warm bed for morning exercise but a morning walk or jog will help you feel better the rest of the day. Eliminate the step that keeps many of us from getting out of bed by sleeping in your work-out clothes. Keep your shoes, your water bottle, and your keys by the front door for an added time saver.
  2. Clean off that desk. When I'm having trouble concentrating or getting things done it often helps to focus on a single mindless task. Your brain doesn't have to work so hard and you'll feel a relaxation response in the rest of your body. Plus, having a clear work space means you actually accomplish one thing that day! 
  3. Don't try to make use of the time you save. Managing your time is really about managing your energy and attention. Resist the urge to cram in more "stuff" when you've found a way to save time. Instead use the extra time do something creative, read or just sit (it really is okay to just sit!).
  4. Stop obsessively checking your emails and text messages. Guilty! With 3 kids in 3 different schools and 2 businesses to run, I can get caught up in checking on everything. If you've read any books on productivity then you know that checking email at prescheduled times each day will help you get more done by not getting bogged down.
  5. Sit up straight and open the blinds. Be mindful of your posture and the light in the room. Bad posture causes your body to work harder to oxygenate your blood which makes you feel tired. Poor lighting causes you to strain and causes "tired eyes."
I'm so glad that Sam, Alex and I participated in the 5K together. They enjoyed it and so did I. We plan to do more. So much more works out the way you want it to when you work in the Smart Zone.

By the way, I reveal how I "do it all" in this Leadership Plano Alumni article. You'll also learn my nickname!

I've also listed a few more Smart Moves in this article on how to manage your emotions under pressure in the Fall issue of the Texas Credit Union League's LoneStar Perspectives magazine.