How to Gain Experience

The fastest way to gain experience is to live. By my estimation it will take approximately 3 years to gain approximately 3 years of experience. You can make the process shorter by using someone else’s experience, not your own. But really, nothing beats your personal experience when it comes to making decisions and taking action.

Years ago I wanted to develop a sales course focused on cold calling. I read a lot about it and that got me a fair understanding of the process involved. But as a speaker, relating someone else’s experience can’t hold a candle to sharing your own personal experiences. So I took a part time sales job in an industry where the sales people had to be fierce cold callers. I got beat up, I got beat down, but I learned. I learned first hand what worked and what didn’t. The experiences I was able to talk about while teaching that class were my own and it gave me a ton of credibility.

Experience will do the same for you.

The fact is, gaining experience is crucial for personal and professional growth. You can learn new skills, gain knowledge, and boost your confidence in different areas of life. To gain experience, there really are no shortcuts. However, there is a process to follow so that gaining 3 years of experience doesn’t take longer than 3 years and may take less.

So here it is:

• Determine what areas you want to gain experience in. Whether it’s related to your career, hobbies, personal development, or other interests, having clear goals is essential.

• Start by researching the field or subject you want to gain experience in. Read books, articles, watch videos, and take online courses to build a foundational understanding.

• Connect with people who are experienced in your chosen field. Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars to meet professionals and experts. Networking can provide opportunities for mentorship and collaboration.

• Volunteering is an excellent way to gain experience while giving back to your community or a cause you care about. Nonprofit organizations, charities, and local community groups often need volunteers for various roles.

• Look for internships or apprenticeship programs related to your field of interest. These opportunities provide hands-on experience and may lead to full-time positions.

• Consider part-time jobs or entry-level positions in your chosen field. These positions may not pay as well initially, but they can provide valuable on-the-job experience. That experience could one day prove priceless.

• If applicable, offer your services as a freelancer or consultant in your area of expertise. Freelancing allows you to gain experience, build a portfolio, and potentially earn income.

• Start personal projects or side ventures related to your interests or career goals. These projects allow you to apply your knowledge and skills in a practical way.

• Be open to feedback from mentors, colleagues, or supervisors. Constructive criticism can help you improve and grow in your chosen field.

• Stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and developments in your field. Continuous learning ensures that your experience remains relevant.

• Keep a record of your experiences, achievements, and skills gained. This can be useful when updating your resume or portfolio.

• Periodically reflect on your experiences and assess how they align with your goals. Adjust your approach if needed to ensure you’re gaining the right kind of experience.

• Gaining experience takes time, and you may encounter setbacks along the way. Stay patient, persistent, and committed to your goals.

• Don’t be discouraged by failures or setbacks. Mistakes are part of the learning process. Use them as opportunities for growth and improvement.

• Once you have more experience, you can share what you know by teaching, writing, or mentoring. This can further deepen your understanding and expertise.

• Gaining experience is an ongoing process. You, no matter how hard you try, you cannot create experience, you must undergo it. It’s important to stay motivated, adaptable, and open to new opportunities as you work toward your goals. As you gain experience, you will become more successful in your chosen field.

And here is one of the most interesting things about experience. One day you’ll look around and determine that you may be the most experienced person in the room. That may lead you to believe that at last you have enough experience. But if the experience you’ve acquired over the years is the right experience, that belief won’t last long. You’ll quickly realize that there is no such thing as “enough” experience.

So keep living, life is teaching everyday and if you’re paying attention you’ll never stop gaining valuable experience.

How to Face Financial Uncertainty

Facing financial uncertainty can be challenging and downright scary. But with careful planning and a proactive approach, you can navigate these situations more effectively. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to face financial uncertainty:

• Assess Your Current Financial Situation: Start by taking a close look at your current financial situation. This includes your income, expenses, debts, assets, and savings. Understanding your financial picture is the first step in addressing uncertainty. Be realistic and honest with yourself here. No fudging allowed!

• Create a Budget: Establish a detailed budget that outlines your monthly income and expenses. Be realistic about your spending habits. Prioritize essential expenses like housing, utilities, groceries, and insurance. A budget can help you identify areas where you can cut back if needed. Be very clear on the difference between things you merely want and the things you actually need.

• Build an Emergency Fund: An emergency fund is a critical tool for handling financial uncertainty. Aim to save at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in a separate savings account. This fund can provide a financial cushion during unexpected events, such as job loss or medical emergencies. This may seem impossible but it is not. It is hard, it can be very hard but remember, hard and impossible are two different things.

• Reduce Non-Essential Spending: Review your budget for non-essential expenses like dining out, entertainment, or subscriptions. Consider cutting back on these discretionary items. Redirect the money saved toward your emergency fund or paying off high-interest debts. Contrary to what some people think, Starbucks is not essential. If you’re not honest with yourself about what is essential and what isn’t you’re going to struggle with financial uncertainty forever.

• Pay Down High-Interest Debts: High-interest debts, such as credit card balances, can be a financial burden. Focus on paying off these debts as quickly as possible to reduce interest payments and improve your financial stability.

• Diversify Income Sources: Relying solely on one source of income can leave you vulnerable to financial uncertainty. Explore ways to diversify your income, such as taking on a side gig, freelancing, or investing in income-generating assets. The extra money is nice but the reduced stress that comes from financial stability is priceless.

• Review and Update Insurance Coverage: Ensure that you have appropriate insurance. Coverage for your needs, including health, auto, home, and disability insurance. Adequate coverage can protect you from unexpected expenses. The key word here is adequate, do not “over insure,” that’s just wasteful.

• Build Marketable Skills: Continuously invest in your skills and education to enhance your employability or business prospects. The more valuable you are in the job market, the better your chances of finding stable employment or income opportunities. True job security does not come from your employer, it comes from YOUR ability to add value wherever you happen to be working.

• Explore Government Assistance Programs: During times of financial uncertainty, government assistance programs may be available to provide temporary support. Research and apply for programs that you qualify for, such as unemployment benefits or food assistance. There is NO SHAME in using the assistance programs that YOUR tax dollars have supported. It’s all part of using every tool available to support yourself and loved ones.

• Seek Professional Financial Advice: If you’re facing significant financial uncertainty, consider consulting a financial advisor or counselor. They can help you create a personalized plan to navigate your specific situation and provide valuable guidance.

• Stay Calm and Avoid Impulsive Decisions: Fear and anxiety can lead to impulsive financial decisions. Try to stay calm and rational when making financial choices. Consult with trusted friends or family members to get different perspectives on your situation.

• Monitor and Adjust Your Plan: Financial uncertainty is dynamic, and your circumstances may change. Sometimes the can change quickly. Regularly monitor your financial situation, update your budget, and adjust your plan as needed to stay on track toward your financial goals.

Remember that facing financial uncertainty is a common experience. With time, effort, and prudent financial management, you can improve your financial stability and resilience. Stay patient and committed to your financial goals, and seek support when needed. YOU GOT THIS!!!

How to Demonstrate that You’re a Leader Who Cares

One of the easiest things for someone in a leadership position to do is tell their people that they care about them. The reality is, many followers doubt the sincerity of those words. That’s why Authentic Leaders remove all doubt by demonstrating, on a consistent basis, that they do actually care about their people. Demonstrating that you’re a caring leader is essential for creating a positive and productive organizational culture. It builds trust among your team members and promotes their well-being.

There are about a gazillion ways to show you care, here are several that can have an immediate impact with your team.

• Pay close attention to your team members when they speak. Show empathy by nodding, making eye contact, and asking clarifying questions. This demonstrates that you value their thoughts and concerns.

• Encourage open and honest communication within your team. Create safe spaces where people feel comfortable sharing their ideas, problems, and feedback without fear of judgment or reprisal. By the way, it’s best if the entire organization is one giant safe space. People looking over their shoulder to see if it’s “safe” to say something are less productive than those who know their safety is assured.

• Put yourself in your team members’ shoes. Try to understand their perspectives, feelings, and needs. When they face challenges or personal issues, express empathy and offer support.

• Be accessible to your team. Make sure they know they can come to you with their concerns, whether they are work-related or personal. Maintain an open-door policy, or set aside regular times for one-on-one meetings.

• Acknowledge and appreciate your team members’ contributions and accomplishments. Recognition can be verbal praise, written notes, or other forms of acknowledgment, and it shows that you value their efforts.

• Invest in your team’s professional growth. Help them set and achieve their career goals. Provide opportunities for learning and skill development, and offer guidance and mentorship.

• Promote a healthy work-life balance. Encourage employees to take breaks, use their vacation time, and avoid overloading them with excessive work. Show understanding when they need to attend to personal matters.

• Be flexible when possible. Accommodate reasonable requests for flexible work hours to accommodate people’s needs. Things like family responsibilities or personal health issues matter and you should never ignore them.

• Address conflicts and disagreements within the team promptly and impartially. Encourage a resolution process that respects everyone’s perspectives and feelings. You’ll likely have to fight the normal human behavior of playing favorites but if you want complete engagement of your team you will fight that fight.

• Demonstrate the behaviors and values you expect from your team. Show that you prioritize caring and empathy in your interactions with others.

• Recognize that each team member is unique. Tailor your leadership style and support to their individual needs and preferences. Remember, the “one size fits all” leadership style generally fits no one.

• Continuously seek feedback from your team on your leadership style and areas for improvement. Show that you are open to making changes based on their input. Listen to them and implore as many of their ideas as possible and when you can’t implement an idea tell them exactly why.

There is no doubt that consistently demonstrating that you care for your people requires effort, sometimes even great effort. But the rewards make those efforts well worthwhile. It’s also possible your efforts at showing you care will spill over into your personal life as well and improve all your relationships.

So you see, showing you care won’t only change the lives of those you lead, it could very well change your life too.

How to Boost the Morale of Your Team

High morale is often the little recognized secret to success. Organizations and leaders that work to ensure the morale and engagement level of their people remain high, outperform those who don’t. Boosting the morale of your team is essential for maintaining productivity, job satisfaction, and overall team cohesion. High morale can lead to increased motivation, creativity, and a more positive work environment. High morale means lower turnover and far fewer personal issues, even in turbulent times. Here are some strategies to intentionally boost your team’s morale on a regular basis.

• Effective Communication:

• Keep an open line of communication with your team members. Regularly check in with them to see how they are doing both personally and professionally.

• Provide clear and transparent information about company goals, expectations, and changes. It is virtually impossible to over communicate.

• Recognize and Appreciate:

• Acknowledge and appreciate the hard work and contributions of your team members. Publicly praise their achievements, either in team meetings or through company-wide channels.

• Consider implementing a rewards and recognition program to formally acknowledge outstanding performance. People tend to do what’s required of them for pay, they do more than required for the recognition.

• Provide Opportunities for Growth:

• Offer opportunities for skill development and career advancement within the organization.

• Help team members set and achieve professional goals. Provide resources and support for their growth. If your people are not aware of their career path within your organization then they have no career path within your organization.

• Empower and Delegate:

• Trust your team members with responsibility and delegate tasks that align with their skills and interests.

• Empower them to make decisions within their areas of expertise, fostering a sense of ownership and autonomy. There is very little that can boost morale more than being trusted by the people above you in the organization.

• Work-Life Balance:

• Encourage a healthy work-life balance. Avoid overloading your team with excessive work or unrealistic deadlines.

• Promote flexible working arrangements when possible, such as remote work or flexible hours.

• Team Building:

• Organize team-building activities and events to strengthen team bonds.

• Create a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose through team projects and collaborative efforts. Remember, the deepest relationships are typically built “off the clock” so provide opportunities for those relationships to grow.

• Provide Constructive Feedback:

• Offer regular, constructive feedback to help team members improve their skills and performance.

• Focus on specific behaviors and outcomes, and provide guidance on how to make positive changes. Your people NEED to know how they are doing, without direct input from their leaders their imaginations take over and that’s usually not helpful for morale.

• Lead by Example:

• Demonstrate a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and professionalism.

• Be a role model for the behaviors and values you want to see in your team.

• Address Issues Promptly:

• Address conflicts and issues within the team promptly and professionally.

• Show that you are committed to resolving problems and maintaining a positive work environment.

• Celebrate Achievements:

• Celebrate team and individual achievements, whether they are big or small. This can include milestones, project completions, or personal accomplishments.

• Use celebrations as an opportunity to build team spirit and show your appreciation.

• Provide Support During Challenges:

• During difficult times, such as tight deadlines or challenging projects, offer your support and help your team manage stress.

• Show empathy and understanding for their concerns and provide resources if needed.

Leadership is not a part-time job. Authentic Leaders know that like creating a solid culture, boosting morale is an ongoing process. It requires consistent effort, adaptability, and a genuine commitment to the well-being and success of your team members. By implementing these strategies, you can create a positive work environment that fosters high morale and team satisfaction.

That will make your life as a leader much more rewarding and much less stressful. But as always, the amount of effort you put into the morale building process is completely up to you. I hope for your people’s sake, you choose to put in a whole lot of effort.

How to Consistently Give Your Best Effort

I’ve always believed there are two areas of our lives that we have complete control over. Those two areas are our attitude and the amount of effort we put into accomplishing whatever it is we are trying to get done.

It may seem that controlling our attitude is the harder of the two but truly putting forth our best effort day after day is a significant challenge as well. Consistently giving your best effort is essential for achieving success and personal growth in various aspects of life. Whether it’s in your career, relationships, or personal pursuits. It may seem like a generalization but the reality is the more consistent you are in your effort, the more consistently positive your results will be. So here are some thoughts that may help you give your best effort even when you’d rather just say the hell with it.

• Start by defining clear and specific goals for yourself. What do you want to achieve? Having a clear sense of purpose will give you direction and motivation. Write those goals down. Share them with the important people in your life. Ask them to hold you accountable for achieving those goals in a given time frame. Develop a plan to achieve each one of those goals because it’s that process that will make your goals real.

• Organize your tasks and responsibilities. Create a to-do list or use a task management system to prioritize your activities. This will help you focus on what’s most important and avoid wasting time on less meaningful tasks. Remember, there is no bigger waste of time than doing well that which doesn’t need to be done at all.

• Manage your time effectively. Allocate dedicated time for important tasks and avoid procrastination. Use techniques like time blocking to ensure you allocate sufficient time to high-priority activities.

• Plan ahead for your tasks and projects. This includes doing research, gathering necessary resources, and creating a step-by-step plan. Proper preparation can significantly improve your performance.

• Cultivate a growth mindset, which means believing in your ability to improve through effort and learning. Embrace challenges as opportunities to grow, and don’t be discouraged by setbacks.

• Keep your workspace and environment organized. A clutter-free and well-structured space can help you stay focused and reduce distractions. Do not fool yourself into thinking that mess on your desk somehow makes you more productive, it’s exactly the opposite.

• Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking can reduce the quality of your work and lead to errors. Concentrate on the task at hand and give it your full attention. All multitasking really does is give you the opportunity to screw up multiple tasks at once, so avoid it at all cost.

• Learn to manage stress effectively. High stress levels can lead to burnout and hinder your ability to perform at your best. Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, exercise, or deep breathing.

• Avoid overworking yourself. Take regular breaks to recharge and maintain your productivity. Short breaks can help you regain focus and creativity. Do not kid yourself into thinking that things like eating lunch at your desk makes you more productive. It actually makes you less productive later in the day. You NEED to recharge throughout the day!

• Solicit feedback from peers, mentors, or supervisors. Constructive feedback can provide valuable insights into areas where you can improve and help you refine your efforts. Sometimes we can convince ourselves that we’re giving our best effort when others can clearly see that we are not.

• Commit to lifelong learning. Stay updated with industry trends, new technologies, and best practices. Expanding your knowledge and skills will enable you to excel in your field. I’d actually recommend blocking 15-30 minutes every week for the purpose of learning something new. If you can’t answer the question, “what have you learned lately?” then you may not be giving your best effort even if you think you are.

• Understand that giving your best effort is an ongoing process. There will be challenges and setbacks along the way. Maintain your determination and resilience to keep pushing forward. This is the hardest part, you’ll need to stay far away from negative emotions or you’ll risk allowing other people and events gaining control over your level of effort rather than you.

• Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Recognizing your successes can boost your motivation and help you maintain a positive mindset. Remember, all progress is progress and even tiny progress begets more progress.

• Regularly reflect on your performance and assess what is and isn’t working. Be open to making adjustments and refining your approach to consistently improve.

Consistently giving your best effort is a lifelong commitment to personal and professional development. It requires discipline, dedication, and a willingness to adapt and learn from your experiences. By trying these ideas and staying committed to your goals, you can maximize your potential and achieve success in every area of your life.

Receiving Difficult Information

Receiving difficult information can be challenging, but it’s an inevitable part of life. Whether it’s bad news, such as being laid off, criticism, or other unwelcome information, how you handle it can greatly affect your emotional well-being. It can also negatively impact your ability to make informed decisions. Here are some steps to help you deal with those times that difficult information comes your way.

Stay Calm: When you first receive difficult information, it’s normal to have an emotional reaction, such as shock, anger, sadness, or fear. Allow yourself to feel these emotions, but try to stay as calm as possible. Deep breaths or a moment of solitude can help you regain composure.

Seek Clarity: Make sure you understand the information correctly. If it’s coming from a person, ask for clarification or details if needed. Misunderstandings can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Give Yourself Time: Don’t feel pressured to respond immediately. Take some time to process the information and your emotions. This may mean waiting a few minutes, hours, or even days before you decide how to react or what steps to take.

Lean on Support: Reach out to friends, family, or a trusted confidant to talk about what you’ve heard. Sharing your feelings and thoughts can provide emotional support and a fresh perspective on the situation.

Journal Your Thoughts: Writing down your thoughts can be a helpful way to process difficult information. It allows you to express yourself without judgment and can help you gain clarity on your emotions and thoughts.

Consider the Source: Assess the credibility and reliability of the information source. Sometimes, people may convey information that is inaccurate, exaggerated, or biased. It’s essential to evaluate the source’s trustworthiness before taking any action. This is especially important when receiving criticism about yourself or your performance. And by the way, I’d recommend largely ignoring criticism that comes from anyone who’s advice you wouldn’t accept.

Evaluate Your Options: Consider what options are available to you in response to the difficult information. Assess the potential consequences of each option and how they align with your values and goals. This is not a bad step to take before you even receive the difficult information. For instance, if you were to be laid off what are your options? What are the immediate implications for your ability to pay bills and just survive? Where will you look for work? How will you reach out to your network and work colleagues to let them know you’re looking for work? Do you have a current resume prepared? Having a “just in case” plan can go a long way to limiting the stress that comes with receiving difficult news like a lay off notice.

Consult Experts: Depending on the nature of the information, it may be beneficial to seek advice from professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, or financial advisors. They can provide expert guidance and help you make informed decisions.

Practice Self-Care: Engage in self-care activities that help you manage stress and maintain your overall well-being. This might include exercise or pursuing hobbies that bring you joy. I don’t want to sound like a goody two shoes here but getting hammered is generally NOT considered effective self-care…just saying.

Develop Resilience: Building resilience is crucial for handling difficult information in the long term. Work on developing coping strategies, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving skills. These will help you better navigate challenging situations in the future.

Acceptance: Sometimes, you may not be able to change the situation or the information you’ve received. In such cases, practice acceptance and focus on how you can adapt and move forward. Understand as well that the difficult information is often not a reflection on you or your personal ability. It is more likely a reflection of a set of circumstances that are mostly beyond your control.

Take Action: Once you’ve processed your emotions and evaluated your options, take appropriate action. This may involve making decisions, setting boundaries, seeking solutions, or seeking further information. Taking action will do more to eliminate the stress associated with receiving difficult information then almost anything else you can do.

Remember that dealing with difficult information is a skill. Like all skills the ability to receive, process and deal with difficult information can be developed over time. It’s okay to seek professional help if you find it challenging to cope with difficult information on your own. Additionally, surrounding yourself with a supportive network of friends and family can make a significant difference in how you handle such situations.

Overcoming Major Disappointments

Overcoming major disappointments can be a challenging and emotionally taxing process, but it is essential for personal growth and well-being. Here’s a bit of a news flash for some people reading this post… men are emotionally affected by disappointments every bit as much as women. They think they have to “man up” and hide the emotions.

That’s not only silly, therapists would tell you it can be dangerous. It’s definitely unhealthy. Sooner or later everyone will face a significant disappointment in their life. Especially if you’re a New York Jets fan. Here are some steps you can take to help you cope with and move past major disappointments.

• It’s important to acknowledge and accept your feelings. Yes fellas, you too. It’s okay to feel angry, sad, or frustrated. Give yourself permission to grieve the loss or setback. Suppressing your emotions can lead to long-term issues.

• Talk to friends, family members, or a therapist about what you’re going through. Sharing your feelings with someone you trust can provide emotional relief and offer different perspectives on the situation.

• Take time to reflect on the disappointment and try to understand the root causes. What led to this outcome? What were your expectations, and were they realistic? This self-reflection can help you gain insights and learn from the experience. Its important in this step to keep in mind the difference between “reflect” and “dwell.” “Reflect” comes with some healthy time limits. “Dwell” can become a trap that’s very hard to escape.

• Some disappointments result from circumstances beyond your control. Accept that there are certain things you cannot change. Focus on what you can control and work on adapting to the new reality.

• Use the disappointment as an opportunity to reassess your goals and priorities. What do you truly want to achieve in the long term? Set new, achievable goals if necessary and create a plan to work towards them.

• Disappointments can be valuable learning experiences. Consider what lessons you can take away from the situation. How can you use this knowledge to make better decisions in the future?

• Maintain a positive mindset as much as possible. Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with more optimistic ones. Surround yourself with positive influences and focus on the things that make you happy.

• Be kind to yourself and avoid placing blame solely on yourself or others. Disappointments often involve a combination of factors, and it’s rarely one person’s fault. Self-blame can hinder your ability to move forward.

• Overcoming major disappointments may take time. Break down your recovery into smaller, manageable steps. Celebrate your progress along the way, no matter how small it may seem.

• Healing and moving on from a major disappointment is a process that varies from person to person. Be patient with yourself, and understand that it may take time to fully recover. People who tell you to “just get over it” may mean well but they probably aren’t helping.

• If you find it challenging to cope with a major disappointment, consider consulting a therapist or counselor. They can provide guidance, support, and coping strategies tailored to your specific situation. There is absolutely, positively no shame in asking for help, if fact when you do you’re showing strength and courage that other people will envy.

Remember that everyone faces disappointments at some point in life, and it’s how you respond to them that matters most. I encourage you to use these strategies to build resilience and come out of the experience stronger and wiser. You’ll be glad you did.

Want more of LeadToday? I’ve changed things up on my Twitter feed for subscribers. I recently began publishing two or three videos each week focusing on an element of Authentic Leadership. I’ll post these videos each Tuesday and Thursday morning. Sometimes a bonus video pops up at other times during the week. They will be about 10 minutes long so we can get into the topic in a more meaningful way. The investment for subscribers in still only $4.99 a month. That’s for at least 80 MINUTES of quality video content on leadership a month.

If you’re interested in taking a look, head on over to my Twitter profile page. If you’re not a follower yet just hit the follow button. It will change to a subscribe button and once you hit that you’re on your way. You can cancel at any time you’ve decided you have nothing left to learn about leading the people who you count on for your success.

Here’s the link to my Twitter…