How to Cope With Life’s Unexpected Twists

by Per Wickstrom on August 28, 2014

Twists & TurnsHow to Cope With Life's Unexpected Twists and Turns

Life” is not a neat and tidy affair in which everything lines up according to plan. It’s more like a concatenation of chaos. Just when we think we’ve figured it out and gotten it under control, something hits us we didn’t see coming. The unplanned twists and unexpected turns are enough to send us reeling. You may ask if it’s even worth it. You may wonder if you’re better off doing next to nothing because whenever you try to accomplish something, life throws an insurmountable obstacle in your path. So are there ways to deal with the innumerable and unpredicted twists and turns dished out by this thing called LIFE? Fortunately for us all, there are.

While I could not possibly tell you everything there is to know about life (that would be something), I can give you some practical tips and recommendations:

Team Effort

If you think you can tackle everything on your own, you are mistaken. One person against seven billion is not very good odds. Hopefully you have at least a few trustworthy friends and family members to lean on. Sometimes life hits us with something truly unbearable. That is when we need our friends and family more than ever. If you feel you don’t have any reliable friends or family, seek help with a pastor, teacher, counselor or coworker. Even your boss may be more helpful than you previously thought.

We all need teammates. You need them and they need you. Life is a group effort. Never forget that.

Life is a Game

Life can get extremely “serious”. But that doesn’t mean that you must be serious all the time. The more you approach life as a GAME, the better off you’re likely to be. In a game, you have a goal or objective. You have rules or barriers. You have freedoms. You have a playing field. And as mentioned above, you have teammates. When people play the game called life, they all too often start treating their teammates as adversaries. They do this unconsciously. If you step outside the situation for a moment and see this happening with yourself or others, remind all concerned that you are all on the same team. The game of life is one of mutual cooperation, prosperity and happiness. The game is NOT to “get each other!”

Simply approaching life as a game and re-directing one’s attention and others’ upon the intended destination helps one and all weather the inevitable storms encountered along the way.

The Way Through is the Way Out

Poets and philosophers have offered up different versions of this statement. The basic idea is that running and hiding from a problem, pretending it doesn’t exist, hoping someone else will take care of it, etc. will never truly solve a problem. The answer then is to really look at it and take action. The first step – really looking at it – is more important than you may realize. When you truly confront something, you have taken a massive stride toward its resolution.

Another important point to know is that the way through or the way out is very often going to be the most simple and the most direct. Having financial trouble? You’d better cut wasteful spending and work out how to make more money. Trouble with the spouse or partner? Have you sat down and honestly talked about it? Feel guilty about something? Have you come clean with the person involved? Some of these points are not particularly palatable. Well, life is not always palatable. But here’s another tip: The little victories add up. Start by tackling one thing, however small. Then move on to the next thing. You may find yourself emerging on the other side, stronger and more confident than ever before.

Dispersal

A common symptom in life could be summed up in one word: DISPERSAL. By this I mean going off in multiple directions simultaneously. Specifically, starting one task, not finishing it, starting another one, not finishing that either, and so on. The results of this are disastrous. For a business, a mountain of undelivered orders could spell the end of that business. Some people are very good at multitasking, but that means they COMPLETE what they start. Their rate of starting and completing is faster than the average.

Do this: List out all your incomplete tasks, large and small. Start with the priorities, like paying the rent and the power bill. Then start getting each DONE one at a time and work down your list. You’re likely to see a reduction in the unexpected twists and turns, as well as experience some welcomed relief.

Creativityshutterstock_165433910

What role does creativity play in problem-solving and weathering unpredicted problems and disasters? Quite a bit it turns out. I mentioned earlier taking the simple and direct approach, and this holds true. But take the example of “not enough money” or “no money” and the solution being “make more money!” That is simple and direct, but it will likely take some ingenuity and creativity in order to accomplish that. There are a lot of articles and books out there about making more money, and I’m not talking about all the “get rich quick” schemes. Another effective approach is networking. Talk to people. Find out what they are doing that works. Keep your eyes and ears open. If you see someone that is obviously successful, ask them how they did it. If you stay perceptive and inquisitive, you’ll likely stumble on something that you can adapt to your expertise, or come up with a brand new idea.

That word, creativity, applies to any facet of life. Ever notice how some people seem to imbue life into anything they do? They walk into a dark room at it automatically brightens up. There is no reason that can’t be you. Attitude is important. When you get up in the morning to face the day, do you assume it will be a rough, arduous day? Or do you decide that it will be – or even better, already is – a great day, one filled with creativity and promise? Creativity is an attitude as well as a continuous and animated series of actions.

Ability to Change

One reason, primary in nature, that people have trouble coping with the unexpected is the inability – or more properly, unwillingness – to change. We get set in our ways. We are apprehensive about change, and this is understandable. But we must be able to adapt and accept change if we are to move forward. Embracing change is a balancing act between staying true to your beliefs and values while being receptive to unexpected events and new ideas. If you can get over your initial shock at an unplanned and inconvenient event, you may be able to turn it toward your advantage. Today’s disadvantage can often be turned into tomorrow’s prosperity.

What Not to Do

When faced with adversity, many ill-advised people resort to drugs. Seeing no other solution, they use drugs to “solve” their problems, “take the edge off” or make themselves numb. Drugs smother real emotions and create a false sense of euphoria. The drugs wear off and the problem is still there, only it is now worse when combined with the depression of the drug “come down” and other factors (such as addiction).

People become slaves to drugs. But you don’t have to be an outright addict to let drugs ruin your life. Insidiously or shockingly, drugs take away vitality, creativity and ambition. Many a drug user (deep down, despite what they might say) would much rather have real solutions to their difficulties – solutions which do not entangle them in the web of deceit and pain wrought by drug and alcohol abuse.

Real solutions do exist. Even just talking about a situation with a friend or family member is a form of therapy, one which can help bring solutions to light where previously none were in sight. Having a solution-oriented frame of mind goes a long way, and often the answers were right there in front of you all along. You just needed to take a look.

Past, Present, & Future

Coping with life’s curve balls can be taxing indeed. But when we successfully cope with them, we emerge stronger. Instead of dwelling on the past, being stuck in the present and worrying about the future, work on learning from the past, acting in the present and building a future. The future is limitless. Keep that in mind the next time you’re hit with a sudden turn in the road. Over to you!

 

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10 Top Tips to Help Leaders Maintain Their Edge

by Per Wickstrom on August 21, 2014

Leadership is not a destination point. It is a lifelong journey – one that is guided by a constant effort to set a strong and positive example. Some10 Top Tips To Help Leaders Maintain Their Edge people merely strive for the title and “prestige” that comes with being a leader. That is not really leadership. I’ve got news: Leadership is hard work! A true leader is one who is constantly striving to get better personally while also helping others better themselves. Here are 10 ways that you as a leader – aspiring or established – can stay sharp and on top of your game:

  1. Read

A significant benefit for any leader is a voracious appetite for knowledge. Reading is one of the best ways to improve your knowledge base and gain perspective on innumerable issues that may arise in your organization. Many people in leadership positions read books by other leaders that are essentially “how to” manuals. These can be very helpful, but it is important to also read fiction and other works of literature. Some of the classics can say more about leadership than any book written as a business success story. Reading is a great way to expand your understanding of others and improve your ability to connect.

  1. Be Authentic

Being a great leader is not about being popular. People do not trust those that they do not perceive as honest or authentic. If you have an opinion or value, it is best to stick to that without compromising. Likewise, those in leadership positions should avoid playing favorites. Fairness and sound judgment are highly valued traits in a leader. Obviously it is permissible to waver from one’s previous stance when common sense will not allow any other possibility. It is important for any great leader to be both consistent and reasonable. People will respect those that hold their values even if they may differ from their own.

  1. Understand Your Team

It is important for leaders that wish to be successful to see each of the members of their team as individuals. Those that are not great leaders may see the people on their team as numbers or data that they need to adjust in order to get better results. A great leader understands the individual personalities, strengths, and weaknesses that they are dealing with within their team and uses those for the benefit of the team as a whole. Knowing and understanding assets is an important way to cultivate strategies in order to meet and surpass goals. Any leader worth their salt will come to understand their team members on a personal level and will often end up helping them in their lives while still maintaining a highly professional relationship.

  1. Exercise

One of the best ways to be an effective leader is to be respected by members of the organization. Being physically fit and being active is a great way to help earn that respect. Let’s be honest. It is much easier to respect someone that leads a healthy and active lifestyle than someone who is out of shape and always tired. Exercise helps develop endurance and mental alertness that will last throughout the day. This is why regular exercise is such a great catalyst for effective leadership. You look better. You feel better. You are healthier – all of which is extremely valuable.

  1. You’re Not in a Popularity Contest

It is important to be respected by your team members. But this is not accomplished by “being liked.” A leader who is always making an effort to “be liked” will probably have to go outside of their value system in order to do so. This will lead to inauthentic leadership – not one of the characteristics of a true leader. An authentic leader will not let the opinions of other members of their organization unduly affect their actions. It is thus important that you do not change yourself in order to be liked or win the popularity contest. You will find that when your integrity is on a high plane, people will naturally like you anyway, and those that don’t will be found to be rather self-serving and probably not a good fit for your team.

  1. Establish Long-Range Goals

Any person that wishes to lead effectively must set long-range goals (ideals, objectives, visions) for their group. These goals can change over time as more and more is learned about the process. It is vital to work toward a precise destination so that the unit is not directionless in their actions. When the entire team knows and understands the long-range goals, it will be easier for them to make decisions, work independently, and get the desired results. A great leader has a vision and makes sure that everyone in their group knows and understands what that is.

  1. Set Short-Range Goals

Short-range goals work very well because they are the stepping stones that help any organization get to their desired long-range goal. These short-range goals should be set on a monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly basis within a team. They are the small checkpoints along the way that will guide one and all toward the broader vision. They also serve as a way for a leader to manage a team effectively while he or she works on broad strategic planning. Short-range goals set and met along the way are an effective tactic for goal attainment.

  1. Independence

Everyone needs some level of independence in order to feel like they are valued within their team. A great leader strives to cultivate an environment of independence within their organization. I have found that this helps in two ways. The first way is that team members feel more valued when they are entrusted to work independently and make choices on their own. The second way is that it frees up the leader’s time that would otherwise be spent micromanaging. A balance can thus be achieved with much less stress for the person in charge.

  1. Be Punctual

    10 Top Tips to Help Leaders Maintain Their Edge

    Be Punctual

Failure to be punctual is a great way for anyone to lose respect among their peers. It can be especially catastrophic when it comes to someone in a leadership position. Want to lose the respect of others in an organization? Constantly be the last one in the building in the morning or don’t show up at the time you said you would. Being on time (or early) is something simple that goes a long way in gaining respect and trust and maintaining that edge you seek.

  1. Communicate

This is the most important skill of any great leader. The ability to communicate with your associates, your clients, your superiors, and even your rivals is a priceless ability. This often boils down to getting your intentions across and ensuring that others fully understand the process for getting there. Great communication, accurate and alive, is paramount in the success of any business or endeavor. Like anything else, great communication starts at the top. Set an example and it will be followed.

Summary

Those are 10 things that a leader can do every day in order to be effective and increase the “edge” factor. They may seem simple or obvious to some. But often the most simple and obvious actions are the ones that get overlooked. Like a great athlete or musician, a great leader must perform the fundamentals every day to stay on their game, set an example for their team members, and help those team members raise the quality of their work.

Great leadership is composed of time-tested attributes. Fundamental among these are a thirst for knowledge, authenticity, understanding, vitality, integrity, vision, independence, reliability, and the ability to truly communicate!

 

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