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Error Extinguisher

This week’s trek is inspired by Princeton Review founder, Adam Robinson’s recent research on why people make stupid mistakes.

You know that feeling when someone on your team totally blows it? 

It happens. We all have to untangle snafus on occasion. Once the error is corrected, though, we don't always take time to ensure it won't happen again. 

According to Robinson, there are seven factors that contribute to human error. He believes that you can prevent mistakes from happening in the first place if you work to eliminate those seven factors from your work environment. 

Introducing Your Error Extinguisher Exercise

What It Is
A 15-minute exercise to look at the things you can do as a leader to help your team avoid unnecessary mistakes.

Why We Love It 
We all know that little slip-ups happen and sometimes aren't worth sweating because they likely won't happen again. However, when mistakes occur regularly enough that they become a pattern, you gotta find ways to course correct your team. This exercise offers up a simple approach to analyzing the factors that might be contributing to your team's errors.

How It Works

1. Identify a situation where chronic errors seem to be occurring on your team.

2. Take a look at
the seven factors below and identify which ones might be present when the errors in #1 are occurring:
  • Context: A change in routine or environment
  • Groupthink: Pressure to conform
  • Authority: Being in the presence of an expert (this could be you!)
  • Focus: A task that requires intense focus
  • Strain: Information overload
  • Rushing: A sense of urgency or pressure to rush
  • Stress: Fatigue or physical or emotional stress
3. Of the items you identified in #2, consider what you might be doing as a leader to exacerbate the presence of those factors. Keep in mind that all seven factors don't have to be present to contribute to human error. If you've only got a few, it can still be beneficial to work through. Some examples:
  • Context: Do you provide the right structure, context information, and environment for your team to succeed?
  • Groupthink: Does your team feel they can discuss opposing views openly even when they don't fall within party lines?
  • Authority: Does your team feel pressure to please authority? Do you loom over team members when they're trying to complete tasks?
  • Focus: Do you allow for adequate downtime between cognitively draining tasks?
  • Strain: Do you organize information in a manner that's easy to follow? Do you keep your team focused by avoiding nonessential details or oversharing?
  • Rushing: Do you create unnecessary feelings of chaos or immediacy when accomplishing tasks?
  • Stress: Are you sensitive to signs of fatigue on your team? Do you consider how your team's emotions might be affected by your actions?
4. Identify one thing you can do in your list from #3 to alleviate pressure on your team and test it out this week. As you try it out, keep tabs on the following:
- Is there a shift in the team's ability to accomplish goals?
- Is there a reduction in errors?
- Is there a shift in team dynamics or overall mood?
Want to dig deeper? 
Here's what your fellow trekkers have to say about past treks:

"The Wake-up Call trek really hit home for me. My best days are the ones when I avoid email until as late as possible and this reminded me to stay mindful. It's key to make sure I get grounded first so I can give important things the attention they deserve."

-
Vijay Rajendran, Director of Innovation and Partnerships @ 500 Startups
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Shankar Desai
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Strength Training

This week’s trek is inspired by the research of University of Pennsylvania Professor Martin Seligman on positive psychology and the science of well-being.

Do you feel disengaged at work from time-to-time?

According to research by Seligman, when someone's work doesn't focus on their strengths, they tend to feel less engaged in what they're doing. 


In addition, his research has shown that when you know your strengths and are able to re-craft your work and hobbies around them, you are able to boost your overall sense of happiness. More specifically, he found that when individuals focus on four or more of their character strengths (see Seligman's VIA survey for more on those), they are more likely to refer to their job as a calling rather than just a job.

Introducing Your Strength Training Exercise

What It Is
A way to realign your daily activities around your strengths to boost your sense of engagement at work and in your personal life.

Why We Love It 
When we don't feel motivated, we sometimes assume it's because we have to make a major change in our lives. Sometimes, big change is necessary. Other times, we'd benefit greatly by simply restructuring situations to better utilize our own strengths and passions. This exercise focuses on the latter, helping us remember the small things we can do to feel more engaged in our day-to-day.

How It Works

1. Take 10 minutes to list out your core strengths. If this is something you feel unclear about, check out Via's Character Strengths test (it's quick, free and based on Seligman's research).

2. Next, make a list of your current job responsibilities. Include hard skills like “managing projects” and “analyzing data” in addition to those just as important soft skills like “motivating a team” or “listening to and empathizing with clients.”

3. Then, make a list of your hobbies, side hustles, and personal projects you have going on right now. This can be stuff like cooking, writing, or making pottery; list whatever you're into as long as you are actually doing those things each week.

4. Now, take your list in #1 and compare it to the items in #2 and #3. Which of your strengths are present and which are not? How many strengths are present at work versus your personal life?

5. Pick one strength that isn’t getting as much love and find a way to incorporate it into your schedule this week. For example, let's say mentoring is one of your strengths. You might join an advisory committee at work. Or let’s say humor is a strength of yours (
not kidding, humor counts!). Try cracking a joke at the beginning or end of each meeting you have this week.

6. At the end of the week, take stock of how things went. How did focusing on one of your strengths relate to your sense of motivation? How did it relate to your emotional state this week? 
Want to dig deeper? 
Here's what your fellow trekkers have to say about past treks:

"I liked the Empathy Ladder trek and found it to be versatile in a variety of settings. I found it helpful when communicating with my spouse to increase mutual understanding, connecting with people upon a first introduction, and interacting with my clients, co-workers, and supervisors at school."

- Jaclyn Valla-Rawlins, Social Worker
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Copyright © 2018 LifeTrekkers, All rights reserved.

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Shankar Desai
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Empathy Ladder

Inspired by our need for connection and intimacy, Living Coral is Pantone's color of the year. In honor of this gorgeous theme (and color), the first trek of 2019 is all about connecting with others through empathy.

You know that uncomfortable stare of judgy eyes? 

Empathy expert, Dr. Brene Brown, would argue that a judgy person is likely sympathizing rather than empathizing with you; she illustrates the difference with a ladder. Imagine a ladder between you (at the top) and someone who is feeling sad (at the bottom). With a sympathetic response, you remain at the top by creating emotional distance. With an empathetic response, you climb down the ladder by connecting with something in yourself that relates to the other person’s emotions.

Even though we all know how great it feels when someone empathizes with us, it's not always easy to provide that same emotional connection to others. And that is because being empathic all the time is tiring. It requires you to commit emotionally and relate to the person in a way that means you have to feel something too. Sympathy can feel safe; it allows you to keep your emotions, and vulnerability, at a careful distance from others.

Introducing Your Empathy Ladder Exercise

What It Is
A 20-minute exercise to help you climb down the empathy ladder and practice applying its four qualities to your 2019 work repertoire.  

Why We Love It 
In work situations where you have to be on-task all the time, it can be very hard to switch into empathic listening mode. This exercise offers a series of four questions to help your mind shift gears when a more empathic approach is critical.

How It Works
1. Take five minutes to look at your schedule this week and select a meeting or conversation you have coming up where you'd like to practice empathy building. Then, watch this  Brene Brown video for a brush-up on what it means to interact with empathy.

2. During that meeting, ask yourself the following regarding the person you are trying to connect with:

  • What perspective is this person coming from?
  • What emotions is this person feeling? How can I connect with something within myself that knows this feeling?
  • How can I suspend judgement regarding this person's perspective and what s/he is feeling?
  • How can I communicate in a manner that respects and honors his/her perspective and emotions as their truth?

3. As you listen and respond, be on the lookout for your tendency to use phrases like "At least" or "To look on the bright side." As Brown points out, those are typically sympathetic not empathetic responses where we minimize the other person's feelings as opposed to connect with them.

4. After your meeting or convo, take 5 minutes to reflect. What did it feel like to take this approach? How did the other person respond to you? How might this approach be beneficial in other situations?

Want to dig deeper? 
Here's what your fellow trekkers have to say about past treks:

"I really liked the Feedback Champ Trek. I found it particularly useful as I reflect on my areas of development, which can be difficult to accept and action. Instead of being nervous I'm choosing to be excited - increasing awareness of my triggers, keeping an open mind and focusing on constant improvement." 

-
Jared Zlotnick, Group Manager, Google Marketing Solutions
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Click here to subscribe to the weekly email!

Copyright © 2018 LifeTrekkers, All rights reserved.

Want more information? Drop us a line at info@lifetrekkers.me.

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You can unsubscribe from this list.
Shankar Desai