Your Greatest Passions

By Dan Coughlin

It’s my belief that any person can make a significant difference in an organization. In order for that to happen, the person needs to know his or her assets for making a significant difference. In this article, my focus is on your passions. While your passions are intangible, they are a very real and critically important part of your ability to truly matter at work. I don’t think you can consistently make a significant difference in your work life unless you find a way to pour your passions into your work.

Your passions are what sustain you. They fuel you and energize you. You’re not going to consistently make a significant difference without having something that motivates you.

However, what drives one person to significance is far different than for another person. The key is for you to understand your three greatest passions. I’m going to explain thirteen passions that I have seen motivate some of the best performers I’ve worked with or studied. They are rewards, results, the journey, the dream, the purpose, creating something extraordinary, being a part of a team, leading a team, behind the scenes difference-maker, out-in-front leader, responsibility for others, sense of accomplishment, and contribution.

After you consider each of them I want you to be honest with yourself and write down your three greatest passions. The key going forward is to make sure your passions are being fed on a regular basis. If your passions are different than these thirteen, then write down your unique passions.

Rewards

If rewards are your fuel, then you are passionate about your paycheck and the ways you can reward yourself with it. You want the nicest house and the fanciest car and a vacation home. You want the biggest title and the nicest office and the best recognition your company has to offer. These are what motivate you, and you’re not at all embarrassed to admit it. You like showing off your new boat or the monster tv you just purchased. You’ve earned them, and you want to enjoy them.

Results

Results trip your trigger if you love to look back on the past quarter and feel the deep sense of satisfaction in what has been achieved. You measure your progress every day toward the objective you are trying to meet. When the actual results roll in, you get emotionally involved. You either party or you get depressed if the results aren’t what you want. The next day you are driven again by the desire to deliver better numbers on the next score card.

The Journey

The journey is your driver if what wakes you up in the morning is the actual doing of the work. You love what you do in good times and in bad times, and you can’t imagine doing anything else.

The Dream

You have a vision in your mind that you want to achieve in your lifetime, and that dream keeps you going day after day. The results can be good or bad, and you’re not thinking about the short-term rewards. Your focus is on the dream. Is there an ultimate result for your career that spurs you on every day?

The Purpose

Is there an underlying purpose that drives you every day? Is there something specific that you have dedicated your life to that makes you want to do your very best every day? Is there a purpose beyond making money where you feel part of something bigger than just yourself? Is that what’s driving you?

Creating Something Extraordinary

Do you want to make something truly amazing? Something that is completely breathtaking? Something that will change the future for lots of people? Is that what wakes you up in the morning and keeps you going all day?

Being a Part of a Team

Is your favorite thing to be a part of a great team where everyone is working together to support one another toward fulfilling a meaningful purpose or achieving a meaningful objective? Do you love being a team member as opposed to the manager of the team? Is your passion to play a significant role as a part of a greater whole?

Leading a Team

Perhaps your ideal role is to lead a team, to go out and identify the talents and attitudes you want on your team, to recruit those people, and to build an extraordinary work group for the long term.

Behind the Scenes Difference-Maker

Maybe what really gets you going is to create magic behind the scenes where no one knows the role you played in generating incredible success, except those few people who worked side-by-side with you. You love the feeling of being able to move from project to project in almost an invisible way where no one interferes with your work, and the results of that work speak for itself.

Out-In-Front Leader

If your passion is to be the out-in-front leader, then you are driven to lead an entire organization where you become the face and the voice of the organization, and where everyone from customers to shareholders to the media know that you are the person running the show. This desire to lead an entire company is what fuels you to keep working long, hard hours.

Responsibility for Others

You see your responsibility to your spouse, your children, your parents, and your community as the most important aspects of your life. You work hard at work to be able to provide for other people. You’re not focused on your title or material goods. You are driven to make sure that your aging parents are well taken care of and that your kids get a great education. You are willing to invest your time and energy into your community because you feel a sense of duty to others.

Sense of Accomplishment

The best feeling for you is to lay in bed at night and know that meaningful stuff got done that day. You hate the feeling of spinning your wheels and feeling that nothing worthwhile was actually achieved that day. You love to move projects forward, and you hate listening to whining and complaining and a victim mentality. What’s driving you is the belief that something really good will be accomplished today.

Contribution

What matters to you is feeling that you mattered today. You have to feel that you contributed in some way at a meeting or in a private conversation or in an email or at a volunteer event. It drives you crazy to sit in a meeting for two hours and to have contributed nothing. You gain energy when you sense that you are actually adding value to other people in some way.

Identify Your Three Greatest Passions

That’s thirteen passions people get energized by. No one gets fuel from all of them. What I want you to do is to review the list and identify your three greatest passions. This will help you in the future to place your time and effort in a way where you will have the energy to make a significant difference for your organization. Here are the passions to choose from:

Rewards

Results

The Journey

The Dream

The Purpose

Creating Something Extraordinary

Being a Part of a Team

Leading a Team

Behind the Scenes Difference-Maker

Out-In-Front Leader

Responsibility for Others

Sense of Accomplishment

Contribution

What three greatest passions for yourself did you come up with? Write those down. If your passions are not on this list, then write in your unique passions. This is another important part of your assets for significance.

About Dan Coughlin

Dan Coughlin works with business owners, executives, and managers on an individual and group basis to improve business performance way in a sustainable way. As a business keynote speaker, executive coach, seminar leader, and management consultant, Dan Coughlin teaches The Any Person Mindset. It is based on his belief that any person can make a significant difference in an organization, but no one is born with the traits necessary to make a significant difference. These are learned thinking traits. Visit his free Business Leadership Idea Center at www.thecoughlincompany.com.

The Strongest Characteristics of Your Character

By Dan Coughlin

People go to work to make money and to make a difference.

Money is important. It’s very important.

Working to make a difference is also important. It’s very, very important.

Trying to make a significant difference is how you fuel yourself over the long term. Everyone wants to make money. That’s not a differentiator. Working to make a significant difference is what can help you to constantly improve and innovate and try new things.

I believe there are five assets every person has to draw on to make a significant difference in his or her organization that are far more important than the person’s title, income, race, gender, height, size, or personality type. They are his or her character strengths, talents, passions, beliefs, and thinking traits. In this article, I will focus on character strengths.

Character is What You Really Are

John Wooden, the enormously successful basketball coach at UCLA, used to say, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

Character is what you really are. A great deal of your capacity to make a significant difference in your organization will come down to your character. This requires digging into understanding your character and identifying what it is about you that you can really rely on.

I’ve narrowed the characteristics of a person’s character down to ten words. They are integrity, resilience, caring, collaboration, poise, appreciation, curiosity, perspective, spirituality, and humor. What follows is a brief explanation of what I mean by each of these words along with other words that I associate with them. After you read these explanations, spend some time reflecting on your own character and rank these ten characteristics from strongest to weakest for yourself. This will help you to understand what characteristics of your character you will be able to rely on the most to make a significant difference in your organization.

Caring

Caring means that you focus on the quality of your relationships and the quality of your work. It’s one of your strongest characteristics when you go to extraordinary lengths to make sure the other person feels understood and that the details of a project are executed well. Words I associate with caring are fairness, justice, empathy, forgiveness, kindness, quality, humanity, and love.

Collaboration

Collaboration means to share your ideas on a topic, listen to another person’s ideas, and work together to build even more effective ideas both before moving into action and as the work unfolds. It’s one of your strongest characteristics when you refuse to make a decision before discussing it thoroughly with the members of your team. Words I associate with collaboration are open-mindedness, teamwork, loyalty, learning from others, discussions, co-creating, multiplying, enhancing, and brainstorming.

Poise

Poise means to maintain calmness even when the chaos and drama in the room are rising. It’s one of your strongest characteristics when you can stay calm in even the most hostile environments. Words I associate with poise are calmness, confidence, relaxed, humility, modesty, maturity, self-control, patience, and flexibility.

Integrity

Integrity means doing what you think is the right thing to do. It’s one of your strongest characteristics when you refuse to do anything that you don’t think is the right thing to do. Words I associate with integrity are honesty, courage, genuineness, conscientiousness, authenticity, prudence, true to your beliefs, sincerity, duty, citizenship, and reliability.

Appreciation

Appreciation means to identify what you are thankful for in any situation. It’s one of your strongest characteristics when you can find something to be thankful for in even the most difficult situations. Words I associate with appreciation are gratitude, thankfulness, zest, and focus on different types of excellence.

Curiosity

Curiosity means to search for insights and understanding in a given situation. It’s one of your strongest characteristics when you search for insights from even the most mundane situations and the ones that seem to have no connection to your work. Words I associate with curiosity are innovation, creativity, mastery, future-minded, quantum leaps, breakthrough insights, love of learning, and obscure details.

Resilience

Resilience means persevering through pain, difficulty, and long-term challenges in order to pursue your desired outcome. It’s one of your strongest characteristics when you refuse to give up regardless of what you are facing. Words I associate with resilience are grit, determination, perseverance, competitive drive, focus, concentration, relentlessness, courage, valor, bravery, industriousness, stick-to-itiveness, discipline, and greatness.

Perspective

Perspective means to see a situation from multiple points of view. It’s one of your strongest characteristics when you look at any topic from multiple points of view and are able to articulate in a meaningful way how different types of people might see and feel about the topic. Words I associate with perspective are wisdom, knowledge, insight, judgment, social intelligence, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking.

Spirituality

Spirituality means believing you are part of something bigger than just yourself. It’s one of your strongest characteristics when your decisions are based on something larger than your own personal well-being. Words I associate with spirituality are purposefulness, sustained enthusiasm, reflection, quiet still voice, discernment, faith in a larger cause, and conscience.

Humor

Humor means to see the lighter side of any situation. It’s one of your strongest characteristics when you never take yourself too seriously no matter how serious the situation becomes. Words I associate with humor are playfulness, fun, funny, laughing, jokester, smiling, enjoying, joy, and lightening things up.

Now take out a sheet of paper. Here are the ten characteristics of your character I want you to focus on:

Caring

Collaborating

Poise

Integrity

Appreciation

Curiosity

Resilience

Perspective

Spirituality

Humor

Try to rank these ten characteristics from strongest to weakest for your character. As you do this exercise you will start to see yourself with fresh eyes. Remember that strongest doesn’t mean best in the world. It just means of all these characteristics which one is strongest for you. As you sort through and reflect on these ten words, I think you will start to examine yourself at a deeper level and you will come to a better understanding of who you are today and what you have going for you to make a significant difference in your organization.

Your character is what you are right now. That doesn’t mean you can’t improve these characteristics. We can all get better in each of these areas. Understand where you are at so you can see what you have to use to make a significant difference right now. However, always work to strengthen your character. That will increase your chances for making a meaningful contribution going forward. Start with your three strongest characteristics and make them stronger. Don’t try to be great in all ten areas. Just take your three strongest characteristics and make them better.

If you would like to get a more psychological profile of your character strengths, I encourage you to visit Dr. Martin Seligman’s website: www.authentichappiness.org and go to the Questionnaires tab and select VIA Survey of Character Strengths. It’s free, and you might very well learn something about yourself. Before you do that, I do encourage you to do the self-reflective exercise in this article, and then you can compare where you landed with these words with the computer-generated answers you will receive from Seligman’s website.

About Dan Coughlin

As a business keynote speaker, executive coach, and management consultant, Dan Coughlin teaches The Any Person Mindset. It is based on his belief that any person can make a significant difference in an organization, but no one is born with the traits necessary to make a significant difference. These are learned thinking traits. Visit his free Business Leadership Idea Center at www.thecoughlincompany.com.

Information Architecture #2: Everybody Line Up!

WeirdGuy

Aligning ContentLast week we discussed gathering any and all information for your Web site redesign and its overall benefits to your organization and workflow processes. This was one of the first steps in the discipline of Information Architecture (IA). This week we will take the next step and discuss aligning your information.

It should become evident, as you have been gathering, digitizing, and formatting your information that your organization is on the right course or in need of a course correction. As you look over the material that has defined your organization in the past and the services you’ve provided, compare it with the current strengths, mission, goals of your staff, and business model. More often than not, you will find there are some disparaging differences – a gulf between what you thought your company did and what reality shows to be true.

Refine and Align
As a result of this…

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Information Architecture #1: Seek and You Will Find

While working through a new training workshop on “Information Architecture 101”, I remembered this series of articles I wrote. They are just as relevant now as they were when I first wrote them. Enjoy!

WeirdGuy

Gathered information types.You have your templates redesigned, you have your content in place and you’ve launched your “new and improved” Web site. You have had some good traffic but you keep getting emails from users stating they have problems finding what they are looking for on your site.

What is the problem? The site makes sense to you. You know how items and sections are arranged and organized. Why do you continue to get these kinds of emails? Suddenly, you remember having heard someone use the term information architecture. You didn’t know exactly what it meant at the time and therefore discarded it as just another techno buzz-word.

Information Architecture (IA) is one of the more subtle yet profound disciplines in Web site development. At its basic level, IA specifies how users will find content on a site. It defines the organization, navigation, labeling and searching of content. IA can be…

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So You Want To Hire A UXer

I have been getting a lot of questions lately about what makes a good user experience designer. Unfortunately, the phrase “user experience” is gaining momentum but not a lot of clarity. We used to be called information architects, then usability specialists, and now user experience designers and customer experience designers.

While talking with a tech recruiter today I was reminded of a previous post. So here is a variation on the original. However, this speaks to the hiring criteria.

Check out Whitney Hess’ blog. I believe Whitney makes a good point that one way to understand what a good UXer is, means to have a clearer picture of what a good UXer is not. Especially, if you are hiring (or considering hiring) a UX designer, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for. There is a big difference between a Web Designer and a UX Designer. There is a big difference between a Frontend Developer and UX Designer. For added information, see Whitney’s detailed post on these points below:

You’re not hiring a UXer if they…

  1. Don’t talk to users
  2. Can’t identify your target audience
  3. Don’t define the problem before trying to solve it
  4. Can’t articulate your users’ goals
  5. Don’t understand the importance of analytics
  6. Design in a vacuum
  7. Make design decisions based on personal preferences
  8. Don’t consider the business objectives
  9. Don’t use UX methodologies
  10. Don’t design for conditions and edge cases
  11. Can’t understand and talk to business stakeholders, creatives, and front-end/back-end developers
  12. Only think about the interface
  13. Never consider the ROI

Make sure the job description for your position includes these items or you’re looking for the wrong person. I hope this helps remove some of the fuzzy thinking and mystique behind hiring a good UXer. Enjoy!

Even For Grown-ups Work Must Be Fun

[Based off a previous post]

There seems to be this unspoken creed among adults in the working world that goes like this, “If you’re having fun at work you must not be working.” The insinuation is, if you are playing, you’re not getting work done, therefore, you’re wasting time. Likewise, the slogan “Work Hard, Play Hard” is often associated with two different environments 1) Work hard while at work 2) Play hard while at home (or on HR related corporate outtings). Why can’t these environments be the same? Why can’t they co-mingle?

The National Institute for Play says:

Corporate attitudes about play-on-the-job vary immensely. But, the knowledge and ethic to support play-based practices that create innovative, problem solving work teams are virtually non-existent in organizations today.

Executives running organizations do not have the information to understand the true nature of play. Even those who have a natural appreciation and temperament for the benefits of play see play and work as separate. Some believe that play is the opposite of work.

When it comes to business we have to be mature and serious. Right? Yet, we’re jealous of the people that “love what they do” and “cannot wait to get up each morning” because they are having fun at work.

Within some entrepreneurial organizations the concept of fun and play are emerging as viable and needed elements in employee development and competitive business growth. This is especially poignant when it comes to innovation and organizational learning. This is what I call “The Fun Factor” in learning. Below are listed several ways that establishing the catalyst of fun will benefit your life, your team, your work, and your bottom-line.

10 Benefits of the Fun Factor

  1. It is pleasurable and consequently opens the learner to additional learning.
  2. It minimizes defensiveness and a trust relationship is developed with the employee.
  3. It stimulates retention because what the employee likes and enjoys, he/she remembers and practices.
  4. It captures imagination and stirs the creative and innovative nature within the employee.
  5. It engages the employee, gets him/her interacting while not putting them to sleep with mundane routine.
  6. It excites and drives the employee to want to know more on a subject or topic.
  7. It energizes the employee and shapes departmental and corporate culture.
  8. It synergizes as the employee applies “fun approaches” to work.
  9. It changes outlook as the employee begins to see life from a positive aspect.
  10. It increases mental flexibility helping the employee cope with strenuous situations.

What other benefits have you seen? Comment below and let me know.

How UX can get the budget they want

Check out Alan’s post on selling UX to your leadership or potential client. Be warned – you first need to know the numbers and how that equates to the value you bring. Do your homework and then pitch your solution.
Enjoy!

Clunky - Alastair Simpson

Summary

If you want to get bigger budgets for your UX work, you have to look at the problem from the eyes of your manager and even their manager.  Just as you look at interfaces from the point of view of your users, what angle is your boss looking at the problem from?  And what is your hook that will make them sit up and listen to you?  An exit rate of 10% due to poorly formatted error messages and form fields? Or $2 million dollars in lost revenue?  Which is more compelling to your manager?  You have to frame your arguments in terms that will appeal to your boss, or face always feeling like they are never listening and you are not getting the budgets you deserve.

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