Monday Mornings with Madison

Monthly Archives:
October 2014

Self-Talk Your Way to Success

The schoolyard saying that “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me” is untrue. Words can do damage. Criticism hurts. Disapproving remarks and belittling comments can injure a person’s sense of self worth. Ironically, this is often most true of the talk coming from within. Every person has inner monologues with themselves. Psychologists commonly refer to this as self-talk, and there are different kinds of self-talk. Among other things, through self-talk we provide ourselves with instructions, opinions and evaluations on what we are doing as we are doing it.

We all self-talk, but sometimes that internal talk can be very harsh and unforgiving. Perhaps too often, we make ourselves the bulls-eye of our own condemnation, which is a pretty easy target. We flog ourselves for our own missteps and bad choices. We rub our own noses in our mistakes. That inner voice can be the most brutal heckler of all, and those negative internal words can actually be detrimental. Indeed, psychologists are finding that a person’s inner voice is actually quite powerful… even more than external voices. When we allow negative self-talk, we tear down our own self esteem. This has been found to have a very real impact on our future actions and success. However, when that inner voice is positive and affirming, then it can be an equally powerful motivator and coach. In fact, research is showing that deliberately engaging the inner voice in positive affirmations can help one change one’s own behavior, learn new skills and achieve success. So how does it work? And why? Continue reading

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Boost Your Brain to Extend Your Career

There is one thing that all people – from entry level employees to top leaders in every profession and occupation – have in common. Every person is getting older. It is generally accepted that with age comes deterioration. By middle age, there is the appearance of gray hair, age spots and wrinkles. On the inside, the deterioration is less visible but possibly more profound. Inflammation causes stiff joints. Brain cells deteriorate. This affects memory, communication, language, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning and judgment, and visual perception. Over time, such mental wear-and-tear can profoundly impact workplace productivity, safety, creativity, interpersonal skills and more.

In a nation that is increasingly getting older – with 40% of the U.S.’s 318 Million people now aged 45 or older — what can companies to do about its aging workforce? What is a person to do to stay productive and valuable at work? Until recently, it was believed that mental deterioration was inevitable with age. However, scientists are now discovering that this is simply not true. The human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change—even into old age. This ability is known as neuroplasticity. With the right stimulation, the human brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways… at any age. In fact, the brain’s incredible ability to reshape itself even holds true when it comes to learning and memory. People can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase cognitive abilities, enhance the ability to learn new information, and improve memory. Here are some top tips to boost brain power and extend the value and productivity of employees…. of all ages. Continue reading

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Agreeable, Disagreeble and the Ability to Disagree

Most character traits can be a quality or a flaw, depending on the situation or circumstances. A coworker who is very detail-oriented might also be considered nitpicky or persnickety. An employee who is very communicative can also be perceived as being a chatty Cathy. A boss who is very direct might also be seen as aggressive or blunt. What is seen as a positive trait in one situation could just as easily be viewed as a personality failing in another situation. The truth is that every characteristic – even the negative ones — probably has value at the right time, place or in moderation but might also be problematic when applied in excess or in the wrong situation.

Take, for example, openness to new experience. Openness distinguishes imaginative, creative people from down-to-earth, conventional people. Open people tend to be intellectually curious, appreciative of art, and sensitive to beauty. They tend to be more aware of their feelings as compared to closed-minded people. They also tend to think and act in individualistic and nonconforming ways. Intellectuals tend to typically be open to new experiences. Openness is often perceived as the healthier and more mature way of being. However, openness and closed-mindedness are useful in different environments. While openness may serve a professor well, research has shown that closed-minded thinking is tied to superior job performance for police officers, salespeople, and a number of service occupations. In the right job or situation, openness can actually be a flaw and closed-mindedness can be a quality.

What about agreeableness? It is hard to imagine how being agreeable could ever be considered a flaw. Employers go out of their way when recruiting new employees to find individuals that are agreeable and will “go along to get along” with others in the organization. Reference checks often focus less on validating the veracity of factual information and more on whether the person was agreeable and cooperative. While being agreeable is generally considered a quality, there are situations where it can be a flaw. Just as there are situations that call for being agreeable, there are also times and places that call for being able to disagree. . Of course, that’s not the same as being disagreeable. Continue reading

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