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I ran across a powerful idea some years ago which has really helped me to get control of certain parts of my life.

The concept is called a “habit trigger”, and is used when you want to develop a new habit but have trouble remembering to do it. It might be exercise, or unloading the dishwasher, or a skin care routine.

Quite simply, the trick is to attach your new habit to something else which is already habitual for you.

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I’ve been a strong proponent of the idea that most businesses have an optimal size. This flies in the face of the traditional wisdom that businesses must “grow or die.”

That’s true for some industries and business models, but the vast majority don’t need to follow that.

In fact, for many organizations, “grow or die” can lead to frustration and lousy quality of life. For you, your employees, and customers.

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When Damar Hamlin was injured in the Monday football game last week, it reset our thinking about who these players are and how much we demand of them.

It was hard for us to see everything suddenly stop – for minutes, then for an hour, and then the game was indefinitely postponed.

This brought to mind other challenging situations I’ve seen over the course of my career. Many years ago I observed that all it took was to tell my boss that “I have a family emergency” and all of a sudden all other priorities dropped.

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Hurrah, it’s a new year! We all had our holiday celebrations, right?

Time to get back to work. But that doesn’t sound like as much fun. Or, depending on your industry’s seasonality, you might be trying to energize for a real grind ahead. I feel for you, tax people.

But let’s keep that sense of lightness just a little longer, shall we?

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At the end of the year, it’s common to work on employee evaluations. Which can be a real downer for everyone involved.

If you think about it, they’re not really doing much about what can be affected: the future. So we’re doing it to justify how we have to make management decisions about pay, promotions, job roles and such.

The employee doesn’t get much value out of the whole experience, to be honest.

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One of the great things about working in a large company is that there are predictable seasons. You can get into a rhythm of work hard, play hard.

But since I started my own business, I had to get much more intentional about it. I could decide whether to work on evenings, weekends, holidays, and any other days special to me.

I got to define what “holiday” meant to me, personally, and work my calendar around that. Even avoiding workshops on Sundays.

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I started my career as an engineer, in an engineering company. So the idea of displaying emotions in the workplace wasn’t exactly normal. We liked driving things by logic and analysis.

Photo by tengyart on unsplash

So I struggled as a new manager to work with people who thought about this differently. What I’ve learned is that we’re all three dimensional people, with our own lives and complexities.

Kids and animals get sick. Marriages are formed and fall apart. Loved ones die. Career prospects move forward or back.

These are all heavily emotional times, right?

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I went through a training class recently which really opened my eyes to the different ways that people relate to the world around them. I’ve noticed that this is one of the primary sources of conflict between people. And of course I’ve experienced that directly!

Because I have my own way of thinking about the world and life. And I tend to relate to others using my own mindset.

The good news is that there are some very useful models which help you to understand your own way of thinking, and how to best relate to others who are different.

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Last week I talked about giving your folks a great start in your organization. So what about the other side – when people leave? I know, I know … sometimes you just want to part ways and minimize the pain.

But the truth is that there are still implications even after they’re gone. Perhaps they’ll refer your next great customer or employee. They’ll probably be talking about their experience to friends and associates.

So it’s in your best interest to have a good breakup. People do move on, after all, and it doesn’t always mean you’re a bad person.

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How much do you actually design the experience for the new person on your team? I ask, because so much of that person’s attitude is going to be formed by what happens on that first day.

Imagine that you’re going into a store that you’ve never seen before. You heard some positive things, so decided to check it out on a whim.

You’ll know within the first two minutes whether this is going to be a place you’d like to come back to. The layout. How attractive the products are. Whether someone welcomes you. Even the smells and sounds.

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