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Friday, August 31, 2018

Lean Quote: Vacations Matter

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"The breaks you take form work pay you back manifold when you return because you come back with a fresher mind and newer thinking. Some of your best ideas come when you’re on vacation." — Gautam Singhania

Vacations are not a luxury; they are a necessity for a well-balanced, healthy life is as important as eating well and getting exercise. Here are 5 reasons to make them a priority in your life!

Vacations Relieve Stress---Stress is a true physiological response originally meant to help us and keep us safe. It releases hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine for the fight or flight response that was necessary for early man. However, in modern society, chronic stress can be destructive to our bodies. Getting away for regular vacations and leaving our every day stresses give us a break from the constant high levels of these hormones and a chance to repair some of the damage.

Vacations Help Maintain Focus---Studies find chronic stress can affect the part of the brain that inhibits goal-directed activities and causes problems with memory. Continuous work with no breaks or vacations can make people feel blocked and distracted, and have problems concentrating. Surveys show almost three-quarters of people who vacation regularly feel energized and more ready to tackle the tasks at hand.

Vacations Make You Happier---Neuroscientists have found that brain structure can actually be altered by chronic exposure to stress hormones contributing to depression and anxiety. Research shows that women who do not take regular vacations were three times more likely to be depressed and anxious. This corroborates a survey that found people who take regular vacations reported feeling extremely happy with an overall feeling of well-being compared to those who did not vacation. And many reported these effects lasting beyond their actual vacation.

Vacations Strengthen Relationships---Vacationing with your family or loved ones help forge closer bonds. Studies have found women who take vacations with spouses report feeling more satisfied with their marriages. Research has also uncovered a correlation between children's academic achievement and summer family vacations. These shared experiences promote family bonding, which is priceless. Family vacations create more memories than any other activity. In fact, other studies have found people place a higher value on the shared experiences they have on vacations than the material goods they have acquired during their lifetime.

Vacations Make You More Productive At Work---Contrary to what it may seem, studies show that more vacation time for workers actually increases company productivity, and has been found to decrease the number of sick days taken off. Liberal vacation policies create improved quality of life for employees, which translates into increased work quality. Workers also report feeling more creative after taking time off, and more than 70% of them reported feeling more satisfied with their jobs when they took regular vacations.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Dream Big: Six Leadership Lessons From Walt Disney Himself

When you hear the name Walt Disney many words spring to mind – imagination, innovation, creator of the happiest place on earth… 

“Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.”

Think Walt Disney only drew mice and princesses? Think again. Here’s a man recognized as one of history’s best storytellers, one of American’s greatest showmen, and one of animation’s greatest innovators. And straight from the horse’s mouse’s mouth, Walt says his greatest accomplishment was rallying people around big goals. Here are six essential leadership competencies he illustrated:

Lesson 1: Find and state a higher purpose.
“We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.”

Sure, money can be a great motivator in the short run. But there’s plenty of evidence to show that money can only goes so far before backfiring. To truly engage people and get the best from people, a leader must give us something to believe in.

For Walt, that special something was entertainment. He famously said, “Laughter is America’s most important export.” And for the animators at the studio or the cleaning crews at the theme park, which of these do you think is more compelling: “Let’s make people smile!” or “Let’s make our shareholders some money!”?

Lesson 2: Have a vision and relentlessly believe in it.
“When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.”

Walt chased a number of dreams – short cartoons, feature-length films, cutting-edge animation technologies, theme parks, and more. Some were successful; others were…well…not. But regardless of whether he was convincing people (himself included) that he could rebound from bankruptcy or that the world needed a crazy new amusement park, Walt’s belief in his vision seemed unwavering. Leadership takes courage. If you don’t believe in your vision of the future, if you don’t believe in the goal at hand, who else will?

Lesson 3: Be a storyteller.
Walt was one of the world’s most gifted storytellers. In the winter of 1934, Walt gathered his top animators at a soundstage in Los Angeles. According to Walt Disney biographer, Neal Gabler, “Announcing that he was going to launch an animated feature, [Walt] told the story of Snow White, not just telling it but acting it out, assuming the characters’ mannerisms, putting on their voices, letting his audience visualize exactly what they would be seeing on the screen. He became Snow White and the wicked queen and the prince and each of the dwarfs.”

You don’t have to be an actor or comedian to be a successful leader. But it sure helps to be a storyteller. Stories change how people feel. Stories can make something complicated seem simple. Stories translate the dry and abstract into the compelling and concrete. Stories are memorable. When it comes to leading, nothing works quite like a great story.

Lesson 4: Build trust.
“Leadership means that a group, large or small, is willing to entrust authority to a person who has shown judgment, wisdom, personal appeal, and proven competence.”

Walt tells us leadership requires that people “entrust authority.” He hints that trust is multi-faceted: People must trust in your competence, wisdom, and judgment (they gotta believe in your head), and they must trust in your “personal appeal” (they gotta believe in your heart). Without trust, fuhgettaboutit.

Lesson 5: Always be constantly improving.
“Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.”

Walt believed in the future. He insisted that Steamboat Willie have the sound synced and recorded, unheard of for a cartoon at that time. Before Snow White, there was no such thing as a feature length animated film. After it became a huge success and literally changed the film industry, it led to the success of several more beloved Disney classics like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Fantasia. Walt Disney could have rested on his laurels, but that wasn’t his style. Instead, he completely switched gears and set out to build an amusement park where parents and children could have fun together. Once Disneyland opened, Walt would walk around the park, personally testing all the rides, noticing if anything was out of place and asking the guests their opinions. If he noticed something was wrong, he would personally see that it was fixed. As his animators could attest, good enough was never good enough for Walt Disney.

Every day you should become a little better than you were the day before. If you can become one percent better daily, you can recreate your life every 100 days. Learn to get better daily; look for ways to improve, to be kinder, more intelligent, and more helpful.

Lesson 6: Get going.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

At the end of the story – once you’ve done the hard work of building trust and casting a vision – you’ve got to shut up and get to work.

I always say that “well done” is better than “well said,” so quit talking and start doing! Quit planning and start practicing; a plan is good, a good plan is even better, but if that plan doesn't get put into action it’s as useless as a four fingered glove. Learn to get into action, start today, whatever you've been postponing …just do it. If you wait for the perfect time, you’ll never accomplish anything.

When Walt was asked what the secret to his success was, he thought for a while and then he said this: “I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.” Today the rules of success are no different. If Walt Disney, a man with limited education from a poor family, could create an entertainment empire from almost nothing, what’s stopping you from dreaming just as big?

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Lean Quote: We Travel Not to Escape Life, But For Life Not to Escape Us

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us." — Anonymous

Sometimes all it takes to uplift your soul is to travel, relax, have fun and go on a vacation in the middle of a hectic schedule. This is one way to relieve stress and take a break from a busy life at work. There are times when we also need to go on a trip either alone to find ourselves or with family and friends to create happy memories with our loved ones. Go, visit and explore as many places as you can while you are still able because you can always make money but you can’t always make memorable and colorful moments in life.

Exploring new places, meeting different people and discovering various cultures can help us, not only to have a healthier body, but also a livelier mind, heart, and spirit. Moreover, those invigorating activities will also motivate us to appreciate Mother Nature, our planet Earth, and life itself. They can increase our knowledge, wisdom, and insight for the future.

So if you want to find your inner self, have the best memories with your loved ones, or just live your life to the fullest, I encourage you to travel, relax, and have a vacation.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Three Ways Vacation is Good For You and Your Company

Americans leave too many vacation days on the table —

Consider these statistics:  
Ironically, while Americans may pride themselves on their hard work and dedication, research suggests that we will actually work harder, perform better, and have greater health, stamina, and enthusiasm for our work if we take time off.

Three ways vacation is good for you:

1. Vacation is relaxing. When you are in the thick of your day-to-day life, it can be difficult to take a step back and look at things objectively. This can make it hard to see either how good you have it or if you need to make some adjustments. By removing yourself from the daily grind, your to-do list, and normal responsibilities, you can make a true evaluation of your situation. And it’s often the case that people love coming back to their routines and restoring a sense of normalcy to their lives after a vacation.

Vacations improve your relationships with those around you. Whether it’s your spouse, children, parents, friends, or coworkers, your relationships are bound to improve after leaving your daily responsibilities behind for a few days. Since vacations tend to reduce stress, you will also be able to deal with difficult or frustrating situations with those closest to you in a more effective and satisfactory manner — and with a clear mind.

2. Breaks make you more productive. Another personal and professional advantage of taking vacations is the ability to detach from work.

Taking time off helps remind you that you are, in fact, a person. And probably a person who has interests and hobbies. So take the time to remember what they are, and make sure you schedule them into your weekly routine.

You know the refreshed feeling you get when you take a few minutes away from your desk? Well imagine what a whole day, or week, could do for your productivity. In fact, it works like such a charm that more companies are starting to realize the importance of time off — especially time off to pursue your own creative pursuits.

3. A change of pace boosts creativity. Another professional advantage from taking time off is a boost in creativity.

Nothing can lead to an anxiety attack faster than working a million days all in a row. So taking even one day off can help reset yourself mentally, and make it easier to have a clear head once back at work. According to Minda Zetlin on INC.com, "A growing body of scientific evidence explains what many of us have learned from unpleasant experience: Push yourself through too many hours or days of work and your brain starts to push back. Ideas that once flowed easily dry up, and tasks that you should be able to perform quickly become excruciatingly difficult ... you need to give your brain, and yourself, some rest." Amen to that.

Vacations provide opportunities for adventure and exploring new places, a chance to relax and unwind, learn new skills, gain insight, expand one’s perspective, strengthen connections with family and friends, create cherished memories, and more.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Leadership Lessons From Walt Disney - How To Inspire Your Team

Walt Disney once said, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

To make a dream a reality, it is not enough to simply hope that the stars will align. Walt Disney relied on his business partners, his support system, and his Cast Members to turn his vision into a successful company. Walt’s vision was so strong that it continues to motivate and inspire today’s Cast Members.

Employees desire inspiration from their leaders. Not only must your people be inspired by the work they do, they also want to feel that what they do matters and has a positive impact on others. Leaders can set inspiration in motion when they take on the responsibility of ensuring employees are focused on the correct tasks, and that they have the proper resources at the right time.

At Disney, they believe and teach business leaders these three concepts to motivate and inspire their team:

Vision and Values: Every leader is telling a story about what he or she values. These values must be aligned with the vision for an organization or team. If a leader’s personal values do not align with organizational values, it will be difficult to genuinely express a vision that motivate others.

Behaviors over Intentions: Those within an organization will look to a leader as a model to develop their own behaviors and decisions. While people tend to judge themselves based on intentions, they judge others based on actions. As a leader, it is essential that your behaviors are authentic, and reflect your values and your vision. When rallying a team around a new initiative, it is crucial that you demonstrate its importance through your words and deeds. The best motivation can come from a leader’s example every day.

Purpose before Task: When assigning new projects to a team, it is important to discuss the purpose behind the task. Tasks that are isolated from the larger goal can become tedious and confusing, finding their way to the bottom of the priorities list. However, if a team understands the common purpose behind individual responsibilities, they will be more inspired to own the tasks as well as the goal.

How do you motivate your team to make your dream a reality?

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Lean Quote: Every Person Needs to Take One Day Away

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us." — Maya Angelou

Despite our best intentions to live balanced lives, the modern world demands that we are almost always connected and productive, and this can drain us emotionally, spiritually, and physically. With our hectic lifestyle, we often underestimate the power of relaxation. Most of us have a massive to-do list each day, and we feel we can't afford to slow our pace or we'll quickly fall behind. However, we fail to acknowledge the ways that relaxation can increase our stamina, clear our thoughts, and allow us to get much more accomplished with less effort.

Rest and relaxation is the cessation of work, exertion, or activity which could result into peace, ease, relief from disturbance, mental & emotional tranquility and healing.

So I’m taking my own advice. Beginning today, I’ll be on vacation. That means no blogging, email, or social media. I’ll have virtually no access to a phone or computer. In short, I’m dropping off the blogosphere for two whole weeks. But don’t worry, I’m not leaving you in the dark. I have prepared several posts until I return. I hope you will enjoy these posts while I spend some time recharging.

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