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Friday, October 29, 2010

Four of Diamonds

Some of the most popular television shows and movies deal with superheroes.  There is a fascination with the idea of people being able to fly, have x-ray vision, and do other extraordinary things.  What super power would you like to have?  Actually, a better question might be what super power do you currently possess?  Before you say that you do not have any, it might help to clarify what qualifies.  The Four of Diamonds will be symbolic of the Fantastic Four this week.  You may be familiar with the group from the comic books or the blockbuster movies.  The individuals exhibited body stretching, invisibility, igniting into flames and flying, and turning to stone.  You are definitely capable of displaying these powers.

Stretching - While you may not be able to contort your body like Mr. Fantastic, you can definitely stretch your mind beyond self-imposed limitations.  You may have heard the phrase "think outside of the box".  It is commonly used to get people to draw on their creativity.  However, once you have "out of the box'" ideas, how do you implement them.  That is where mental stretching is needed.  Don't be afraid to be different.  Just because something has not been done before doesn't mean it cannot be done.

Invisibility - Sometimes there is an advantage to remaining behind the scenes.  You don't always have to be front and center to make a meaningful contribution.  Be wise enough to know when less is more.  While you cannot truly make yourself invisible, you can choose to shift the attention to the value that is added by others. An important part of leadership is setting the tone and trusting the team to execute the plan in your absence.   

Flames - When you are excited and passionate about something, it can consume you.  Just be careful that you manage the fire and enthusiasm so that they don't burn out of control.  You want the blaze to warm the room so that it is inviting for others who want to work with you.  Let them feel your excitement and commitment, but don't overwhelm them. 

Stone - There will always be people who disagree with you.  They may have different ideas and not know how to express them in a courteous manner.  This is where you need the stone exterior.  Do not take the criticism personally.  Remember that people can attack what you do and how you do it without attacking who you are.  A thick skin will also help you break through the walls of rejection, exhaustion, and other obstacles that you encounter on the way to achieving your goals.

You will need to rotate your super powers to fit appropriate situations.  The mental stretching and flames of enthusiasm will be needed on a regular basis.  However, be more selective about when you exhibit invisibility and stone attributes.  They are very effective when used in moderation, but are not right for every situation.  Leave a comment and share what super powers you have displayed this week.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Four of Clubs

Can you believe that there are only 10 more weeks left in this year?    Hopefully, you were productive and have tangible results to show for your efforts.  If not, there is still time for you to shine.  You may need to take some shortcuts to get to your destination.  When people text, they often use a shorthand that includes using numbers for certain words.  This week, the Four of Clubs will be symbolic of that habit.  We will use the number 4 as a prefix for some common words that normally begin with "for" or "fore".  These words will provide tips to help you recognize some of the shortcuts that can assist you in completing your to-do list before the end of the year.

4cast - This is a term used to describe the weather.  You want to know if it will be sunny, rainy, or windy.  This information will help you decide what accessories you may need.  Don't rush into a situation without determining if you will need sunglasses (clear priorities) to prevent the glare of distraction and sunscreen (an even temperament and diplomacy) to keep you from burning bridges. An umbrella (proven history of great work) can shield you from a downpour of criticism. You may need a jacket (realistic expectations) to keep you from being blown off your path.     

4word - This is the introduction at the beginning of a book that is written by someone other than the author.  It is usually a well known person whose opinion will impress potential readers. Build on the experience and expertise of others that you admire and respect.  Their advice and suggestions can save you time by helping you avoid things that will hinder your progress.

4mat - It is important to establish a structure, or foundation, for what you want to accomplish.  If there is a set order to follow, you are less likely to miss steps.  Getting it right the first time means that you don't have to do it over later.  This also allows you to share your routine with others so that they do not have to go through unnecessary trial and error.

4bearance - This is another word for patience.  It is a characteristic that will serve you well.  Give your ideas, efforts, and connections time to produce the desired results.  You will actually save time when you wait to see what is really working.  This will enable you to know where you need to make changes.  It will also highlight the things that you need to keep doing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Four of Hearts

How was your week?  Did everything go the way you thought it would or were there stumbling blocks?  Despite your plans and intentions, sometimes things do not work in your favor.  One reason for this is that you can only control your actions.  While you can anticipate the moves of others, they can always surprise you with something unexpected.  How you respond, or react, to your environment and what happens in it can determine the next steps for you.

 Think of the popular game, Connect Four.  Did you play it when you were younger?  In order to win, you need to get four chips in a row of the same color.  This theory of consistency and repetition can also be applied to your personal, educational, and professional endeavors.  The Four of Hearts will represent the concept of establishing a pattern for success.

Punctuality is a good example.  If you arrive on schedule four times in a row, others who may not demonstrate that trait will need to adjust their approach in order to work with you.  On the flip side, when you are repeatedly late , you put yourself at a disadvantage.  You don't want to be in the position of trying to figure out what you missed. 

Effective communication also needs to demonstrated continually.  It is important to be able to share your vision and achievements with others.  Your ideas should match what you say.  What you say needs to match what you write.  Your written message should match what you actually do.  When those four things line up in a row, you build a solid reputation based on accountability, reliability, and trust. 

Observation is an important skill to sharpen and display.  Pay attention to what potential partners or opponents are doing and analyze how it impacts you.  You can learn a lot by simply watching and listening.  As you gather data, you can formulate the strategy that will help you be in the right place at the right time.  If you are consistently prepared for opportunities when they arise, you may be able to alter them to provide maximum benefit to you.  Eventually, you will not have to look for opportunities because they will pursue you.

Finally, remember to recharge your batteries regularly so that your energy level will be high enough to sustain your efforts.  When you are tired, you might not be alert enough to recognize the match for your last move.  Schedule breaks at designated points to review your progress and make necessary adjustments.

Have you connected four recently?  If so, leave a comment and let others know how you did it.  If not, what are you going to do differently this week?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Four of Spades

Do you perform your recommended maintenance?  Examples include annual physicals, visiting the dentist twice a year, or changing the oil in your car as directed by the dealer.  The Four of Spades will be representative of the tires on your car this week.  It is important to rotate and balance them on schedule to extend their effectiveness.  Your symbolic T.I.R.E. might include:

T = Tempo
       As you pursue your goals and dreams, it is important to pace yourself.  During part of the journey, it may be necessary to go full speed ahead.  Some things are time sensitive and you have to move fast in order not to get left behind.  Other things require more finesse so it makes sense to proceed with caution.   Monitor your tempo regularly and determine whether you need to speed up or slow down based on the approach that will yield the best results for you.

I =  Involvement
      Most people do not have the luxury of being able to dedicate all of their time to one endeavor.  You have to decide how actively you will be involved in your multiple interests.  Levels of participation will vary depending on several factors, including your schedule, support system, and benefits associated with the activities.

R = Risk
       Don't always assume that risk is a bad thing.  It is a necessary component of innovation and excellence.  Determine how much you can tolerate for each phase, or step, of your plan.  Consider the probability and consequences of the negative risk occurring and establish a strategy to address it.  Likewise, be prepared for the positive risk and how it can present advantages and shortcuts for you.

E = Endurance
       It is normal to become discouraged when you encounter multiple setbacks.  You can acknowledge the disappointment and still keep going.  Endurance is a confidence booster.  The longer you hang in there, the more you believe that your desired outcome can be achieved.  You build momentum by continuing to move.       

If you balance and rotate your tempo, involvement, risk, and endurance, you will get the maximum value out of each one of them.  Similar to the tires on your car, sometimes tempo and involvement will be in the front leading the way for you.  Risk and endurance will be in the back because they are not primary factors at the moment.  As things shift, tempo may move to the rear while endurance comes forward.  Regardless of the position, they will all work together to provide a smooth ride for you.

Leave a comment and share your thoughts on how considering tempo, involvement, risk, and endurance can influence your current or future projects.