If you want to launch and grow a business, chances are you’re going to have to put words on the page. Probably many words on many pages. Which means there’s no room for saying you “hate writing” or “can’t write.”
In many cases, the more important the writing task, the more the would-be writer freezes up. The result can be something of a Mobius strip of anxiety turned into fear turned into more anxiety, and what you’re left with is a blank page.
To help you work through writer’s block, consider the strategies below. (These tips were compiled by this reporter through an informal survey of her own writer friends and colleagues.)
1. Lose the “I’m just not a writer” syndrome. Everyone has the potential to be a writer. Continuing to tell yourself otherwise is nothing more than an empty excuse. Reverse the energy. You can be a writer. Tell yourself, “I am absolutely capable of writing.”
2. Don’t wait for perfect words. If every sentence has to be a flawless work of art, then you will sit in fear. The sweat might pour, but the words won’t come. Just start writing words on the page. Know that once you have started, you can go back and revise what you have. But until you start, you will never know where you are trying to go. If you are writing on a tight deadline, it is even more critical that you let go of the notion of immediate perfection. One writer friend of mine offered the analogy that writing is like cleaning a messy room: the only way a large mess gets cleaned up is to start tidying one small corner at a time.
"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing," Ralph Waldo Emerson once mused. It’s a solid observation about handling interactions with difficult people. Mark Goulston, a Los Angeles-based business psychiatrist and consultant and author of Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone, says it’s simple to deal with the bullies, the blamers, the rage-aholics, the whiners and the complainers. Here’s how.
Don’t expect them to not be difficult. Once you’ve identified a difficult person, adjust your expectations so you’re not blindsided by their actions, and create some emotional distance.
Say to yourself, Here we go again. When these types of people aren’t getting what they want, they push you into anger or exasperation, making it difficult for you to think clearly. Reframe the situation—remember, this is their issue, not yours. “Most difficult people provoke us because they’re often hiding something—a lack of competence, a lack of ability or something they were supposed to do and didn’t do,” Goulston says, “and by provoking us, either from anger or whining and complaining, what they often try to do is distract us from exposing whatever that thing is that they’re hiding.”
Let them finish talking. Interrupting may escalate things. If you remain calm and centered, difficult people will catch themselves and start to back off, Goulston says. When it’s time to respond, pick whichever of the following methods seems like it will be most effective.
- Say, “Could you repeat that back to me in a calmer tone? I kind of missed what you were saying.”
- Pause. Look puzzled, tilt your head and say, “Huh?”
- If they use a lot of hyperbolic language, ask them, “Do you really believe what you just said?”
- If they’re venting, employ the “FAU” technique:
To pull out some of their animosity, say, “You seem [frustrated, angry, upset] … what’s that about?”
Remove the truly difficult people—in life and in business. As an entrepreneur, don’t be so focused on the bottom line that you let a bully run amok amongst your staff. Says Goulston: “The more you can recognize and remove difficult people from your company, the more positive the culture [will be], and the more people will want to come to work.”
Original article here.
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The customer whom a business desperately needs to fire is often perceived by others as a perpetual victim and corrosive influence. Consequently, their tales of woe and great injustice may be discounted by friends, colleagues and even family.
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"Leaders are focused." Truth: Leaders create a shared focus.
If your team isn’t focused, it doesn’t matter how focused you are on doing what matters. A manager is usually focused, but a leader creates shared focus and doesn’t waste resources by allowing team members to do work that doesn’t matter.
Being focused is about self-responsibility and discipline. Creating shared focus is about engaging others in the leadership agenda and making it specific to their jobs.
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Encourage employees to disagree with you.
Companies get into trouble when everyone is afraid to speak truth to power. “If all you hear is how great you’re doing, that should be a danger sign,” says executive coach Ray Williams.
Empower the people below you, then leave them alone. “A good part of leadership is stepping back,” says Bill Pasmore, senior vice president at the Center for Creative Leadership. “A good leader leads from front and back.”
When people err, don’t destroy them.
But make sure they learn whatever lessons there are to be learned from their mistakes.
"Develop strong interpersonal relationships at work, so employees have some meaning attached to the work they are doing," Williams says.
Vow to be constantly learning and curious.
Pasmore advises taking risks and asking yourself, “What is it that I don’t know that I should know? How do I learn it and test it out in situations that are not necessarily safe?”
"Just like you can’t start a weight-loss program without getting on a scale, you must begin your journey by learning the truth about yourself," says executive coach Tasha Eurich. "We’re often the worst evaluators of our behavior." Adds Pasmore, "One of the biggest problems I see is a real lack of self-awareness. Executives often aren’t aware of who they are as people and the impact they have on others."
Stick to one goal at a time. “Leaders often choose too many development goals. Give yourself the greatest chance for victory by developing one thing at a time,” Eurich says. “It is far better to make progress in one area than to make little or none in five.”
Get rid of poor managers.
"Of the 60 top executives at Continental, I probably replaced 40 who were not team players," says retired airline CEO Gordon Bethune. "Don’t tolerate factionalism, backstabbing or prima donnas. Everyone wins, or no one wins."
Practice leadership skills daily.
"The amount of deliberate practice you choose will be proportionate to your improvement," Eurich says. "It’s like learning a violin concerto. You have to learn the concepts, then you practice every day to create beautiful music."
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By Kate Taylor
Bringing a franchise to New York City can be fraught with challenges for any franchisee. For a fried-chicken chain with conservative leanings and a history of anti-gay comments, the struggles are even greater. However, none of that is stopping Chick-fil-A.
The chicken chain announced plans to move into New York City in 2014, where it currently has only one restaurant inside a New York University residence hall food court. Chick-fil-A plans to open 108 restaurants total this year, primarily in urban locations, with a “sizeable chunk” reportedly in New York City.
Expanding into New York City is no easy feat for any franchise. Dairy Queen, which plans to open its first Manhattan location in May, noted the necessity of increasing over-the-counter speed and providing enough seating in urban locations that lack traditional drive-thrus while costing exorbitant amounts in rent. But for Chick-fil-A, the pressure of making it in New York has not been directed on individual franchisees’ performances. Instead, the chain has been forced to focus on shifting the franchisor’s reputation.
Two years ago, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made headlines when he condemned same-sex marriage. In the past, the company has donated millions to groups that oppose marriage equality. Today, Cathy is changing his tune, telling USA Today that “all of us become more wise as time goes by,” and, “I’m going to leave it to politicians and others to discuss social issues.”
Chick-fil-A’s leader’s stance on gay marriage isn’t the only thing the company is updating in attempts to appeal to urban markets outside the South. The chicken chain is rolling out grilled chicken for the first time ever, after 12 years of testing grilled chicken recipes. Chick-fil-A is on ahealth-conscious roll: last month, it announced plans to sell only antibiotic free chicken within five years and is testing the removal of high fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients and dyes from products.
Chick-fil-A appears to believe that to succeed in New York City and other urban markets it needs to adjust to locals’ socially progressive and health-conscious sensibilities. Urban locations also promise to have more natural wood and some will outfit chefs in chef’s coats instead of traditional uniforms.
Loyal customers who have long supported the chain’s fried chicken and social conservatism will be relieved – or disappointed – that one thing is staying the same: the chain still promises to remained closed on Sunday, for practical and spiritual reasons.
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