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POWER BITESShort and to the Point Management, Leadership, and Lifestyle Advice I Give My Clients!
By EDWARD MENDLOWITZ
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Edward Mendlowitz
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKnowledge Creates Power
Knowledge creates power. Therefore, acquiring knowledge will give you power and make you perform better.
The more you know, the greater advantage you will have over those you work with ... and against.
Learn from the experiences of others. Don't rewrite the Bible. If someone has already found a solution, why should you try to find it by yourself when all you have to do is find out what they did? The amount of time will be a lot less than it will be for you to do what has already been done. Seek out business and industry leaders. Read their interviews, articles, and books, attend their speeches and podcasts, and become more aware of what is out there. Spend some time at least monthly looking at the new books in the bookstores or local public library; see what new magazines are being published and what types of articles they are publishing. It is also easy to do both of these at most airports.
It is impossible to know everything, to be able to learn everything, or to even know everything you should learn about. What you can do, however, is to never pass up an opportunity to learn something. On your journey through life you will come upon many new things. At that moment, use it as the time that you will learn about that item. When it comes to acquiring knowledge, the least you can do is not kick aside something you are tripping over. If you don't seize that moment, not only may it never come again, but you might be expected to know it from that point forward. And then you will never ever be able to learn it because, "Who could you ask?"
Just as knowledge creates power, so does information. Keep informed. Keep current. Read newspapers daily. And read the right newspapers. You should read a local daily paper. And, you should read a national daily paper, such as The Wall Street Journal or New York Times. And, it should be read before you enter the office in the morning, not at home at night after work.
Also, get into the habit of calling people or dropping notes to those you know that are mentioned in the news or if you read something that may be of interest to them. This helps them think of you as a resource or renews old acquaintances.
Access to knowledge and information also creates power. Know where you can get things answered and done. Keep an extensive reference library close by. Learn to effectively search the Web. Know whom to call. Become the person called by those you know. You may not know the answers for them, but you will learn what is important to them, and that will lead you to more knowledge. And then get them their answer!
Chapter TwoThere Is No Acceptable Alternative to Growth
Learn new things. Don't ever stop learning.
Did you ever find that just when you think you know everything about a subject, you learn something new?
We are always learning. But how often do you go out of your way to learn?
Most of us learned how to read when we were about five or six years old. Did it ever occur to you that there might be a better way to read? You are following the same techniques you acquired when you were five. Why not investigate to see if there are new or better ways? Why not take a speed-reading course? It's fairly inexpensive and easy to bear, and it doesn't take up that much time. If you use the computer fairly often and can't touch type, why not learn? If you work with people whose native language is not English, why not learn their language? When was the last time you took a course on anything? Why not now?
Learning and growth should be synonymous. In order to learn you must be surrounded by people from whom you can learn. And that doesn't always mean people smarter than you. An employee once asked me how I learned new things. One way is actually by the questions employees ask me. Not the questions that substitute for them looking something up, but truly insightful questions. Queries about why something is done a particular way, or the reasoning behind the methods, or even why something is necessary, can lead to learning by forcing you to rethink something that, somewhere along the way, became too obvious to you.
I once asked someone in his late seventies why he spends so much time learning and doing new things. He replied, "It's harder to hit a moving target!"
I am generally surrounded by entrepreneurs, so I am sometimes surprised by the comments of people that indicate closure on their energies. I have found that people who work for large organizations usually know their retirement date many years in advance. I have also observed that as they approach that date [usually about four to six years earlier] their minds stop becoming active in the functions of bettering their position. They become settled in at what they are doing and bide their time until they get that gold watch. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, always seem to be looking for that next deal, their next big score, or the next step for their business. They are more stimulating to be with because nothing ever stays the same, and the learning never takes a vacation or retires.
Following is an inscription on a card I tell new staff to carry and look at on their way home each workday:
Ask yourself at the end of each day:
"What did I learn today?" "What did others learn from me?"
If you do not get good answers to both questions, then perhaps that job or the people you work with are not for you.
When you stop learning, you die. When you stop growing, you die. The only thing that might be delayed is the putting your body into the coffin.
Learning new things should be fun; sometimes it can be an arduous process, but it requires a start. Any action that moves you closer to what you want to learn is positive and worthwhile.
Chapter ThreeYou Learn from Listening, Not Talking
If talking was more important than listening, you would have two mouths and one ear.
How can you learn anything when you are talking?
Human nature being what it is, the more you let someone else talk, the smarter you seem.
Be an active listener. A good listener can still control the conversation by well spaced interruptions and short key questions leading or directing the speaker.
Choose whom you want to listen to-avoid ramblers and those who just like to hear themselves speak.
Be a responsible listener. If you are with someone who is supposed to learn from you, and they don't let you talk but do all the talking, you'll lose out when they realize they spent "wasted" time (even though it is of their choosing). You will lose positioning as a resource for them. When you are with them, try to redirect the discussion into the matter at hand. It sometimes needs you to interrupt them. In situations when it really is impossible to redirect the chatterer, follow up the next day with telephone "responses" to questions or issues raised or to what should have been conveyed by you, so your role as the trusted provider of important information will remain intact.
Chapter FourSeek an Absence of Aggravation
What causes aggravation?
Certain people and types of people
Regretting something you've said
Always working under pressure
Getting less than you expected
An absence of chemistry
I am sure you can add many other things to this list. These are things that get me aggravated.
Aggravation carriers are people who blame you for things you cannot control while they do the things they can control wrong.
Also, just because something usually aggravates me doesn't mean it always will. Sometimes my mood is such that nothing can bother me; at other times, everything bothers me.
There are certain types of people that bother me. It is generally a sloppy, disorganized person that is usually his sloppiest and most disorganized when I am with him, waiting for something that was promised to me and is late. This is the person that causes me to get angry with myself, either for subjecting myself to dealing with that person in the first place or for resenting having been placed in a position where I depend upon him for something critical. Also, "sloppy and disorganized" refers not just to the person's physical work, but to a way of thinking and reasoning. And the most aggravating part of all is that you can't even get that person to see why you are so mad. He always seems to be oblivious to your anger.
Saying things about people who are not present, and then being afraid they will find out what you said, creates a lot of undue anxiety for me. I know it will be repeated to them completely out of context, so there is no way I could ever rationalize what I said, even if I were given that opportunity! The simple solution to this is to never, never, ever say anything derogatory about someone who isn't present, and if he or she is present, never make those types of statements in public. This solution is a tremendous tension relaxer-and eliminates part of one of my aggravation triggers.
Working under pressure is necessary in business and in life. But to constantly work under pressure is sick. No amount of advance planning can cover every contingency. But lack of careful planning will take its toll on you and your organization. Plan things out and allow reasonable time for each to get done. If you need additional time, plan out overtime or hiring extra help or reassigning staff. Advance planning reduces the crisis atmosphere, tension level, and pressure. If you are constantly working under pressure, examine the reasons. Perhaps you are not delegating or assigning the work properly. Perhaps you are not supervising your staff properly, or often enough, or not giving them enough to do. Perhaps you are not scheduling the work with a proper amount of lead time or are not allowing for problems that might develop. Perhaps you are not being realistic about how long the job will take or are promising too-early delivery dates to oversatisfy a customer or client, when what the client needs is a due date they can rely on-a "money in the bank!" due date.
If you constantly are not getting what you want, you can alter this by reducing your expectations (shame on you!), or by making it crystal clear what you want and that nothing less will be accepted. This will take patience, perhaps a written note or memo, and a clear understanding by the person doing the work of what is acceptable and what a successful completion of the job is. It takes willingness on your part to acquire, monitor, and discuss updates while the job is being done and to refuse to accept work that is not complete. You must develop a tolerance to allow for screw ups and just plain aberrations from normal work practices. But you must not accept the job until it is the way it is supposed to be. If you need it by a certain date, then the responsibility is yours to check frequently on the progress to ensure it will be ready when you need it.
Take nice over smart. I want smart and nice people working for me. I don't want to have to choose between the two, but if I have to, I'll take nice every time, in every situation.
Everything works better if there is chemistry. Look for the chemistry in your relationships. If it doesn't feel right, it probably won't be right. The chemistry won't be there in everything you do, or with everyone you do something with, so you will have to make the best of those situations until you can extricate yourself from them.
Lots of times, in baseball, basketball, and other professional sports, a player doesn't seem to play at his potential and is traded to another team, where he blossoms. Why? He is the same person, but something has changed. What? It could have been the manager or coach, new teammates, the location or city, or simply that he is closer to home. Whatever the reason, it is the change to a positive chemistry.
In many cases you can look to create your own positive chemistry, or take the first step toward that goal. John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost, "The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a heaven of hell, or a hell of heaven." Don't let your mind create the negative things. Have it focus on the positives. Don't let the other person's negative attitudes get you down or hold you back and override your positive feelings.
Chapter FiveDon't Lose Your Temper
Losing your temper will never accomplish anything. And it most likely will obstruct your getting what you want or need. Very few people can work effectively if they are the subject of an uncontrolled tirade. So you end up with a worse situation by losing your temper.
Most of the people I know that lose their temper think it shows how important they are since, if they are the boss, the subject of their anger doesn't talk back. Usually the subject can't or is afraid to, and their silence signifies, to their boss, consent to their nonsensical rambling.
I question the professional judgment of someone who loses their temper in a business setting. I can see where a parent might lose their temper at home if their four-year-old child plays post office and uses the stamps from a gold-medal stamp collection. But it mustn't happen in business, where you are only as effective as your backup staff allows you to be.
What can cause you to lose control in a business matter? If it is an isolated instance, it has to be overlooked. If it is because of repetitive, unacceptable performance, then the person to get mad at is yourself for not properly supervising the job or for self-directed exasperation or frustration due to your permitting or overlooking continual nonperformance or poor performance. Think how funny you will look yelling at yourself.
If you feel you can't discharge the source of your anger because you need that person where he or she is so the applecart won't be upset, then either that person is more valuable than you think or you are a fool. In either case, you must control your emotions and remain calm so that you can get the best that person has to offer, which is the reason that the person was hired in the first place.
Losing your temper is an ego trip nobody needs to be on in business. Consider the reaction of the person to whom it's directed. Can that person continue being as effective afterwards as he or she was before? You might feel a little better because you let off steam, but that small relief will haunt you later on because of a deteriorated relationship or diminished performance. Losing your temper will cause you to mortgage your future with that person and perhaps with others in earshot of the incident, and you will continually pay for it. Mortgaging your future occurs when you take advantage of a near term benefit that causes a greater long term detriment to you.
Yelling or arguing are not the only ways that show you lost your temper. Any loss of control can show a loss of temper. An example is when you are sarcastic or make funny faces. There is no reason to belittle someone and try to hurt their self-respect. You will never accomplish your objectives that way. And that is the ultimate goal-getting what you want. Very few will ever react positively and with excitement and enthusiasm to someone who puts them down. Also, complaining to someone over the telephone when the listener is in a room full of clients or customers or staff people, and where he or she can't respond or even let on what the conversation is about, creates an unfair situation that will never help you accomplish your objectives. If you are trying to let off steam so you will feel better, forget it. You will definitely feel worse in the long run, when you fall short of your objectives because there is no team behind you. And if you are trying to score points, who is counting? Isn't the person with the best-functioning team the winner? Points don't count in the real world.
Don't hold grudges. Life is too short to waste on arbitrary thought.
Don't spend energy on unproductive purchases. Go forward. Don't look back. Everything evens out at the end anyway.
Patience really is a virtue. Patience is the willingness to wait for something. Expecting something and not getting it on time can cause consternation. Have some fallback positions so you don't get angry. Try to understand why it was or will be late. Don't get me wrong, understanding is not forgiveness or condoning the situation. But it can help you through a period where you might lose your temper. Everything has a reason. They could be bad reasons as far as you are concerned, but they are reasons.
Excerpted from POWER BITES by EDWARD MENDLOWITZ Copyright © 2010 by Edward Mendlowitz. Excerpted by permission.
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