Reach The Highest Bar
Mon, Mar 05 2012
HOW YOU THINK IS EVERYTHING: Always be positive. Think success, not failure. Beware of negative environment.
Good intentions. We all have 'em. Following through is the trick. How leaders strengthen their resolve: Improve your composure. "Self-discipline is kind of like a muscle," said Charles Duhigg, author of "The Power of Habit." It has to be exercised. That's what Starbucks (SBUX) found when the firm studied why even its best employees occasionally lost their cool with difficult customers. Duhigg calls those lose-it moments inflection points. To
Good intentions. We all have 'em. Following through is the trick. How leaders strengthen their resolve:
Improve your composure. "Self-discipline is kind of like a muscle," said Charles Duhigg, author of "The Power of Habit." It has to be exercised.
That's what Starbucks ([STOCK[SBUX]]) found when the firm studied why even its best employees occasionally lost their cool with difficult customers.
Duhigg calls those lose-it moments inflection points. To rise above that bad impulse, workers need a ready response. "Starbucks came up with a whole bunch of mnemonics" to prompt positive comebacks, he told IBD.
LATTE — listen, acknowledge, take action, thank and explain — maps what approach to take with an angry customer.
Practice for perfection. Knowing what to do is one thing; doing it is another. So Starbucks has employees act out scenarios regularly.
"This is, quite often, how they start the morning, by role-playing these inflection points," Duhigg said.
Pick it apart. Every habit — good or bad — has a cue, a routine and a reward. Duhigg dissected one of his own like this: Restlessness would strike midafternoon, cuing his routine to buy a cookie in the cafeteria, where he'd be rewarded with a break from work.
To cut out the sweets, Duhigg skipped the cafeteria trip and looked around for co-workers to chat with. "What I found out is this is how I socialized every day," he said. "The cookie urge was gone."
Pump up synapses. "There's a huge difference in people in how we respond to life's slings and arrows." So says "The Emotional Life of Your Brain" author Richard Davidson.
Take resilience — the amount of time it takes to move past a bad feeling. It's one of six dimensions of emotional style that Davidson identifies in his book.
Some people get stuck in a negative emotion. "We get sucked into it and ruminate in it," Davidson said. What if meditation exercises could improve people's ability to bounce back? His research shows they can.
Hit the mood gym. Another exercise — taking time daily to express gratitude and compliment others — increases a person's overall optimism. The key is finding the right exercise for the emotional trait you'd like to improve, and practicing it daily.
"The brain changes through regular practice," Davidson said.
Quiet down. "Willpower is this basic biological and physiological capacity which is trainable," said "The Willpower Instinct" author Kelly McGonigal.
She, too, recommends meditation for strengthening one's will.
So why doesn't everyone do it? Many give up in frustration as their minds wander and distract them from accomplishing a quiet, cerebral state. McGonigal says keep trying. The act of pushing away interfering thoughts is what exercises mental muscle. "That's really what willpower looks like," she said.
Say it's OK. Self-criticism undermines your best intentions.
When researchers told study participants it was fine that they'd eaten a donut — even though it felt decadent — they were less likely to overindulge when left alone with bowls of candy.
Alternatively, those who felt guilty over eating that first tasty treat ended up eating more.
McGonigal calls it the what-the-hell effect.
"The brain becomes more convinced that giving in again is the only thing that will make it feel better," she said.
To stay on track, bypass guilt and accept the occasional lapse.
©2011 Investor's Business Daily, Inc. Used with permission.