How to impress your boss: 7 great ways to boost your career

How to impress your boss: 7 great ways to boost your career

Your boss has the ability to improve your current situation, through giving you the best assignments, or promote you to a better position. If you want to get ahead in your career you need to stand out and impress your boss.

Here are 7 ways to impress your boss and get ahead in your career:

1. Ask yourself what you can do for your boss

You have to realize that your job is all about how you can make the life and work of your boss easier and better. It may not be obvious if you are young, ambitious and longing to make a career, but the truth is that the most important thing for your boss is not your career, what you like or how you feel. If you want to develop your career, you have to address the middle-step, which is what value you provide to the organization and how you help your boss do the same.

2. Argue for your opinion in a respectful manner

In the long run, your boss will promote smart people with integrity, who can argue for their point of view. If you are good at what you do and if you have reasons and facts to back up your opinion, then argue for your position. The point is NOT to be right, to “win” or to boost your ego. You are supposed to do the best job you can and this involves providing your insights and your suggestions. In the end, you have to accept that your boss has the final say, but at that point you have provided your boss with a great alternative viewpoint.

3. Look your boss in the eyes

Eye contact is a crucial part of any human interaction. You don’t need to, and you really shouldn’t, spend every second of a conversation staring into the person’s eyes, but you should have enough eye contact to appear confident, engaged and believable.

4. Take responsibility and take on responsibility

Don’t come up with excuses when you make mistakes. Show that you own your actions and that you will learn from what you did wrong. It is ok to provide reasons for why things went wrong, as long as it’s clear that you are not trying to distance and detach yourself from the responsibility. Take responsibility for you actions but also take on responsibility. Taking on responsibility, in the form of new or more complex assignments for example, shows maturity, control and reliability. If you want to grow in your current role or get a promotion, you need to take on responsibility.

5. Be proactive and take initiative

Don’t sit around and wait for your boss to tell you what to do. Nothing shows potential like someone taking initiative, coming up with ideas and finding new, better ways of doing things.

6. Underpromise and overdeliver

Don’t try to impress with the promises you make, impress with the results that you deliver. Expectations management is a very important part of impressing your boss. It is natural that you want to do a good job, and this might cause you to make promises you can’t keep. If the results of your work are great but you had promised more, your boss will be disappointed. Make an OK and satisfactory promise based on realistic estimations on what you can achieve, and impress your boss by delivering more than expected.

7. Be positive

Do you see problems or do you see ways to solve problems? Being positive has nothing to do with pretending that problems don’t exist – they do. It’s about identifying and coming up with solutions to problems. It’s about discovering new opportunities for growth. Negativity is toxic and should be kept out of the workplace. Let’s face it, no one wants to be around someone who is constantly negative. If you want to impress your boss, maintain a positive attitude at work.

7 amazing ways to quickly build great confidence

7 amazing ways to quickly build great confidence

Do you suffer from lack of confidence? Is your confidence holding you back in your career or in your private life? There are several fast and easy ways to boost your confidence. 

Great self-confidence can improve your job search and make your perform better at interviews and at work.

Here are 7 ways to quickly build great confidence:

1. Observe your thoughts

The first step toward overcoming your lack of confidence is identifying your negative thought patterns. Through observing your thoughts you will become aware of the kind of mind-chatter that is breaking you down. You’ll be surprised to see what terrible things you tell yourself. Make a habit of observing the thoughts passing through your mind and consciously replace every negative thought with a positive one. Everytime you come across a thought saying something like “I can’t do this”, say to yourself “I CAN do this”.

2. The Positivity ratio: the 3-to-1 ratio of positive thinking

A negative thought has three times greater influence on your mind than one positive thought. In other words, you need three positive thoughts to match a single negative thought. This is the 3-to-1 ratio of positive thinking, or simply, the positivity ratio. The 21 days positivity challenge makes great use of the 3-to-1 ratio of positive thinking. For 21 consecutive days express 3 things that you are grateful for or 3 things you have achieved. Why 21 days? Well, research shows that it takes 21 days to rewire your brain to think more optimistically and successfully. Watch the following video of Dr. Frederickson discussing the positivity ratio:

3. The achievement journal

Make a list of what you’ve achieved. Better yet, keep a journal in which you regularly write down your achievements – big and small. If you are really struggling with your confidence then you should make sure to note down all the little things that you otherwise don’t reward yourself for. If you came up with a great idea during a team meeting – write it down. If you made that call to a client that you have been dreading to make – write it down. Through keeping a journal your achievements become more tangible. Your confidence will improve as the number of entries in the journal grows. The achievement journal works very well with the 3-to-1 positivity ratio.

4. Power posing

Your body language not only affects how other people perceive you, but it changes how you look at yourself. Standing in a powerful position, also known as power posing, gives an immediate boost to your confidence and reduces your stress levels by tricking your mind into thinking that you are confident. Through power posing for just 2 minutes before an intimitading or stressful situation, a presentation at work for example, you increase your testosterone levels and reduce your cortisol levels, making you more confident and less stressed. Watch this popular TEDtalk where Amy Cuddy explains how power posing can help build your confidence and change your life:

5. Overcome fear of failure

People are often crippled by their fear of failing. This is because people tend to exaggerate the negative consequences of failing. If the stakes are great, we tend to question even our most basic abilities. Put a one-foot wide wooden plank on the ground and you will be able to walk on it without a problem. Put the same plank 100 feet up in the air and you will feel like you have lost the ability to take a single balanced step. So what should you do? First, ask yourself if the consequences of failing are really that bad – in most cases they are not. Second, if the consequences of failing really are that bad, remember that your ability to walk are the same, regardless of whether you are on the ground or 100 feet up in the air.

 6. Stop bad-talking yourself

We learn that we should not bad-talk other people. The truth is you shouldn’t bad-talk yourself either. People often downgrade themselves by saying things like, “oh, this article is just a silly little thing I wrote, it’s really not any good”, in the belief that it shows humility or self-distance. But if this is something you do repeatedly, you are continuously undermining your self-confidence and self-esteem. Being able to joke about yourself and not taking youself too seriously has its benefits, but if this behaviour is a habit of yours, it is less about self-distance and more about self-depletion.

7. Exercise

Regular exercise is a key component of building and maintaining great self-confidence. Your body and mind goes together. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which increases your feelings of well-being and happiness. As your physical health improves so does your mental health. If you are physically weak and tired you are not well-equipped to tackle stressful and intimidating challenges. Regular exercise increases your energy levels and builds mental stamina, making you feel stronger and less vulnerable. The idea is not to prepare your body for Iron Man (unless you want to), but to exercise at a level that you can incorporate into your life for the long run. Find a form of exercise you enjoy, take on a regular workout routine and see your confidence skyrocket. 

Use these 7 ways to quickly build your confidence today!

How to best manage a team: 8 rules for effective teamwork

How to best manage a team: 8 rules for effective teamwork

The value of teamwork is both vastly underestimated and dramatically overstated. That people should be working in teams is taken for granted. Working in teams is constantly promoted, yet it is one of the most hated forms of working among employees.

The reason people hate teamwork is because neither managers nor team members know how to work effectively in teams. Unfortunately, great team management is a rare skill.

Do you want to know how to best manage a team?

Here are 8 rules for effective teamwork:

1. Should you be working in teams?

Ask yourselves if teamwork is the best approach to the problem at hand. Working in teams is not optimal for all types of projects or tasks – in some cases individuals should be working on their own. Teamwork is suitable when the value the team delivers is greater than the sum of its parts. If this is not the case, you should not be working in teams. In teams, you are supposed to leverage the fact that you are several people.

2. Make sure everyone knows who is on the team

You need to clearly define who is on the team and who is not. This might almost seem too obvious, but the truth is that even most executives cannot correctly identify who is on their team. If you don’t know who is on the team then you cannot possibly know what to expect from whom, let alone work well together. 

3. Define a team purpose

Every team needs a purpose. There must be a reason why you are working together in a team. This purpose should be shared by everyone on the team and the members should help define it. Partaking in shaping the common purpose gives each team member a sense of ownership, fuelling their motivation and their will to perform.

4. Set specific and explicit performance goals

You need to set specific and explicit performance goals that derive from, and are aligned with, the team’s common purpose. Otherwise you have no way of knowing whether or not the team has achieved what it set out to do. You need to set both team goals and individual goals. Remember, what gets measured gets done. If the goals are not specific and explicit, you are making it easier for team members to avoid accountability.

5. Team members with complementary skill sets

In great teams, members’ skills complement each other. If you need a specific set of skills for your team, everyone on the team does not need to possess all those skills. Remember, teams are supposed to leverage the strengths of the individual team members, and by doing so also overcome individual weaknesses.

6. Agreement on how the work gets done

There needs to be an agreement on how team members are expected to work. This concerns practicalities such as work schedules, expected deliverables and rules for decision-making.

 7. Provide favourable conditions

Facing challenges is inherent to teamwork. As a leader you need to rid your team of unnecessary hindrances and provide the best possible conditions for overcoming these challenges. You need to put structures in place that ensure effective and efficient teamwork. For teams, this typically means creating structures and processes for great communication and coordination.

8. Assign clear roles and responsibilites

There should be no confusion about where one person’s responsibility ends and another’s begin. If there are areas or situations in which you need greater flexibility, this should be clearly decided on. If your team members are flexible enough to cover for each other – that’s great. But don’t let that be an excuse for a poor assignment of roles and responsibilities

Make use of these 8 rules for effective teamwork and witness the improved performance of your team and the increased happiness of your team members.

Mindfulness at work: benefits of meditation for your performance

Mindfulness at work: benefits of meditation for your performance

Mindfulness and meditation make you a better manager. Research on mindfulness at work shows how meditation can boost your career and increase your performance and that of your business.

Mindfulness is the conscious, non-judgemental awareness of the emotions, thoughts and sensations experienced in the present moment.

Too many people consider mindfulness to be little more than a fad, but if you don’t already practice meditation or mindful leadership you are making a serious mistake.

This is how mindfulness makes you a better manager

Recently published research on the effects of mindfulness shows that managers who meditate make better decisions. The long-term effects of meditation on managers’ behaviors included:

Strategic thinking: More time spent on strategic thinking.

Focus on root causes: Greater focus on root causes rather than symptoms.

Openness and honesty: More open and honest relationships with colleagues.

These benefits of mindfulness are impressive. If you previously ruled out mindfulness techniques from your managerial toolbox, these points should make you think again. What kind of professional (in his or her right mind) would reject a method that not only improves your general well-being but also makes you a better manager and leader?

However, if the above points for some reason weren’t enough…

Here are 6 more ways in which mindfulness makes you a better leader:

Stress management

Mindfulness improves your stress management abilities. On a general level, it reduces stress and anxiety, making you feel more calm and relaxed, but it also makes you better equipped to handle particularly stressful situations so that they don’t overwhelm you. Coping with stress is key to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s demanding business world and it is a must for any professional who wishes to be in it for the long run.

Positive thinking

Mindfulness makes you think more positively because the constant chatter in your mind is reduced and silenced, so you can avoid getting caught in downward spirals of negative thinking. Through being able to distance yourself from your thoughts you can gain new and positive perspectives. New perspectives and positive thinking make you a better problem-solver and increases your resilience in the face of adversity.

Focus and concentration

Mindfulness strengthens your ability to concentrate. In the modern world, you are constantly fed with information and distractions, often through digital media, so your attention-span is getting shorter. Unfortunately, interruptions are a costly, but very common, source of inefficiencies. Once interrupted, it takes an average of 23 minutes for you to get back to your task. The ability to fend off distractions and focus your full attention on one task for an extended period of time is a must-have for your performance.

Better sleep

Mindfulness improves your sleep because it helpts you to let go of the worries of the day. Problems tend to be blown out of proportion during the small hours of the night, but mindfulness helps you put them back into perspective. There is probably no need to tell you that you can’t function normally without proper sleep, much less perform at your best.

Self-awareness

Mindfulness helps you understand yourself more clearly. If anything, great managers need to be self-aware. Self-awareness is needed to identify and understand strengths and weaknesses in oneself. You also need self-awareness for self-regulation and to interact appropriately with others, be it your boss, customer or subordinate.

Complex thinking

Mindfulness works as a reboot for your system. Every time you meditate you clear your system of distracting thoughts that cloud your mind and slow down your thinking. Through mindfulness you free more awareness and attention to focus on performing complex thinking.

Still not convinced that you should practice mindfulness? Then you should:

Learn about the importance of mindfulness from the best

Mindfulness is a natural practice at Google. The company has incorporated mindfulness practices because it knows that the well-being and performance of their employees ultimately affects the performance of the company. Thousands of Googlers attend one of the company’s many courses on mindfulness and meditation each year. Google’s Search Inside Yourself program, launched by spiritual guru and Googler Chade Meng-Tan in 2007, is the most famous one and is frequently cited among employees as both a personal and professional life-changer.

At this point, there should be no doubt in your mind that you should start practicing mindfulness and meditation. What are you waiting for?

The best way to take notes: 10 steps to note-taking mastery

The best way to take notes: 10 steps to note-taking mastery

Forget all the advanced note-taking techniques out there. Here is the only guide you will ever need to master the art of note-taking.

Are you writing down every word that is said in class? Or maybe you don’t take any notes at all? Note-taking is an art and can make the difference between and average student and an A student.

Do you want to become a note-taking master? Do you want to know the best way to take notes?

This is all you need to know about taking notes:

1. Keep it simple

Forget all the advanced note-taking techniques that are out there. Note-taking shouldn’t be so difficult or time-consuming that you cannot focus your attention on what the professor is saying or what is going on in class.

2. Purpose is to categorize

The purpose of note-taking in class is to help you categorize information. We learn through sorting and storing information in our brains into categories. The purpose is NOT to write down every single piece of information you hear – we have books for that (and the internet).

3. Structure is everything

In class, you should always be thinking about how you structure your notes. Through structuring your notes you are helping your brain to categorize the information. This is when information becomes knowledge. Without a structured set of categories in your brain, it is that much more difficult for you to remember details. Your brain needs boxes in which to place the information.

4. Three basic sections

Three sections should be the basic structure for every lecture: An introduction to what the class is about, three to five main points on the content and one take-away point.

5. Use colours (in moderation)

Using colours when you take notes can be very inducive to learning. Colours help people remember, as colours are more richly represented in memory. But don’t overdo it! The point is not to overwhelm your brain with an explosion of colours. If you choose to use colours, then they should be aligned with the structure you have for your notes. Examples of colouring logic can be: by theme, topic, class or week. In this way, the colouring enforces the structure you use and helps your brain categorize the information.

6. Write by hand

When it comes to learning and retaining information, writing by hand is far superior to writing on a laptop. People who take notes on their laptops tend to write down everything exactly as it was said. When you write by hand, you are forced to pay greater attention, be more selective of what you note down and use your own words. This greatly increases both your conceptual understanding and your retention of information.

7. Spaced repetition

You need to look through your notes regularly. Your memory is just like a path in the forest. It grows the more often people walk it (and it grows shut when no one walks there). The number of times you repeat is more important than the time you spend repeating. In other words, take several short trips down memory lane.

8. Review your new notes 

Review the material straight after class and, preferably, again in the evening. Transcribe and clarify if your notes are messy or something is unclear. This need only take a few minutes. By doing this simple trick you save hours, if not days, of studying for your exams.

9. Look through your old notes

By looking through your old notes before every class you not only expose yourself to more repetition but you help build linkages in your brain between different sets of categories. The linkages are important to understand how all the pieces fit together and to see the greater picture.

 10. Add details to your structure

Once you have a structure in place, a structure you know, your brain has boxes of categories in which you can put detailed information. At this stage, you will be amazed with how fast you can learn great heaps of detailed information.