How Sharp are YOUR Mental Skills? Important Insights

Image result for brain gamesI’ve always personally enjoyed mental exercises and games.  They can be great time fillers, keep you alert and in the moment. I believe they offer some level of personal improvement and improve mental acuity.

It turns out the research and writing around this subject area offers some useful additions to my personal perceptions.

A whole industry surrounds the training of the brain. It’s generally accepted that improvements can be made in personal function for Flexibility, Speed, Memory, Problem Solving, Learning Power etc. Progress can be measured on these fronts and dozens of exercises and games can be readily found in books or on-line.

Healthy lifestyle advocates promote Brain Fitness, which includes Proper Nutrition, Sleep, Physical Exercise and Stress Management.

Similarly, it’s accepted that cognitive skills are harmed by Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Aging, Air Pollution and internal Chemical Imbalance (both hormonal and drug induced).

Cognitive Training (aka Brain Fitness) promotes the idea that skills can be developed or maintained by exercising the brain in much the same way physical condition is improved by body exercise.

Scientific material rarely supports or advertises the concept of brain fitness, but personal development materials have promoted the idea with products and books since the 1980’s.

In practice, mental exercises can have measurable benefits; even more so the lower the starting base of the trainee. Any way you look at it, you can improve your brain function to some degree by practicing and training appropriately.

There’s recent evidence that mental training leads to a decrease (33% reported) in the risk of dementia onset. And, training children for academic improvement only appears to have benefits where the specific training is obviously and directly applicable to the specific area of study involved.

So, there is no silver bullet here where one approach fits all needs.

Certainly, some games and puzzles are fun and I personally enjoy a sense of accomplishment taking on new challenges and becoming more skilled and proficient over time.

Many people turn to outlets such as Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku, Solitaire, Bridge, etc. as a more productive use of otherwise dead time. It’s common to see people engaged in such activities in waiting areas, when travelling etc., even where other (such as TV) entertainment is present.

There is undoubtedly an increasing cultural search for alternative occupations that often more directly physically engage and personally challenge us. And there is a huge proliferation of available options.

Whatever our reasons for doing a little personalized brain-training (or self-entertainment), it typically provides us an enhanced sense of accomplishment and is usually a lot more fun than the other immediately available choices.

So, as another alternative suggestion, let me offer you a brain teaser to consider over time. You may solve this in a few minutes or be working on it many weeks from now. Either way, consider this…

There are twelve (12) natives stranded on an otherwise deserted Island.

Eleven (11) of the natives are the same weight, but one (1) weighs slightly less (or more) than the others.

Also, on the island is a see-saw (teeter-totter) that you may use in your investigations, but only three (3) times.

Your challenge is to discover which Islander has the different weight AND if that weight is more or less than the other eleven Islanders.

End of Challenge.

Whatever your predilection for cognitive development, let me recommend its benefits to both your practical personal development and self-esteem. Wishing you the best on your chosen path!


Image result for brain games

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


Travelling? Watch Out! Scams & Risks to Avoid

Image result for travel scamsI’m barely half way into a two week jaunt through France, Spain and the UK, unfortunately encountering unprecedented Scams and new Risks.

In just 72 hours after landing at Paris (CDG) I’ve run into some ten different types of problems, which include:

Overbillings/re-imbursement issues: Taxis, Hotels and Flights

Unwanted assaults by Petty CriminalsImage result for travel scams

Robbery and Theft

Personal Security Risks          

Persuasive Extortion

Local Driving restrictions

I’ve been ducking problems like these during decades of global travel. Yet it appears these kinds of liabilities are now on the increase. Attacks and affronts have become more insidious and aggressive.

It’s tough to admit, but I did just fail to thwart a couple of my own problem travel situations. And they occurred, despite considerable prior exposure and much past experience. Fortunately, in these recent situations I can view myself as VERY lucky in the way my troubles were resolved, this time.

Now to business: Its true Petty Theft warnings (primarily for pickpockets) are often well signposted in most high-traffic tourist areas; even helpful cab drivers will provide you with unsolicited warnings. Yet there are a host of other (mostly) organized Scams and Liabilities to avoid, too.

Rather than detail the incidents to which I was personally exposed, let me provide some useful suggestions you can keep in mind to avoid unwanted impacts on your own travels.

Good TRAVEL practices should include:

Online Bookings

Watch out for built-in fees on Hotels and Flights. Check what IS and IS NOT included and keep a print-out or copy readily on-hand of what you bought. For Example: Airlines sometimes charge for bags up-front and then demand payment again while you’re trying to check in. Also, Hotel advance payment and cancellation policies often need checking closely.

Again, it’s essential you can quickly SHOW confirmations and complete, relevant copies, on-the spot.

Street Vendors

Don’t get hassled into the waves of seemingly innocent surveys, petitions or suchlike. Often participation quickly produces unexpected downstream demands for donations as you’re trying to extricate yourself. You’ll be fighting off purveyors once you engage.

Unwanted Purchases

Flower (or other) vendors often gain access to restaurants and bars, twisting the arms of couples and travelers to buy considerate or loving gifts. If you DON’T want them, decline firmly. If you do buy, politely NEGOTIATE on a price. It may not be seem appropriately romantic, but you’ll usually more than halve the initial asking price.

Taxis and Other Transports

Whenever possible know the regular fare involved for where you’re going; ask someone credible if you don’t. Legitimate operators are generally endorsed or secured by Airport/Hotel service staff. Prices are often posted for specific trips. Don’t get suckered by vendors who produce a surprise fare AFTER you’ve made the journey. Ask before embarking and be aware that even pricey Hotels have valets that’ll put you in a known-overpriced Taxi; it’s sometimes surprising to discover who’s working with whom.


Watch over your luggage and bags, always. If you’re in a group have one person keep vigil when working through distractions (like getting a cab, renting a car, etc.) in busy areas. Purses, carry-ons and baggage can be lifted, disguised and gone in seconds. So, carry all critical goods in a single closed bag and never release it; money, travel docs, tickets, credit/debit cards and mobile devices are best kept together whenever possible.


Room safes are often provided; use them. Check the door of that budget room truly locks when the door closes; amazingly, some DO need to be keyed from both inside AND outside to secure the lock on the handle. And, if there’s a separate deadbolt/chain inside, use that, too.

Money Exchange

Establish what reasonable exchange rates should be expected in countries you’ll visit before you change money. Watch for hidden fees and use ATMs with known-tolerable rates, whenever possible. It’s better to know what your credit/debit card rates will be before travelling, too.

In-Room Services

Honor bars are notoriously pricey. Buy out where you can. Also, keep some track of all in-room purchases for checkout; BE AWARE that auto-recording purchases may occur when you momentarily remove, move or even just lift-up products in stocked bars and refrigerators.


 These guys are seemingly everywhere folks gather in numbers. Keep your valuables zipped, pocketed and/or covered. Even then experts (often in teams) who target you can and will get access. It’s just wiser NOT to be the most obviously tempting prey in the pack; let others be the easy marks.

Car Rentals

Spanish Police are now fining renters they stop who are not driving on formal, International Drivers Licenses. They’ve specifically notified Hertz employees to this effect at the location I used (with my US, Calif. Driver’s License) in Valencia, Spain. Don’t be surprised if other Countries are already following suit.

I find it amazing that every single one of the vulnerabilities listed above was directly relevant and also immediately present during my current travel.

The list of things to watch for is long. All trips can have downsides and even the smallest bad experience can taint highly anticipated journeys.

We should not be paranoid about our every move when enjoying travel or a well-earned holiday. But the consequences of lost funds, equipment, goods or documents can be both traumatic and cumulative. It leaves us feeling violated.

So, keep your wits about you and make appropriate preparations. Be aware of where you are and what’s going on. Better a little vigilance than wasting time downstream to repair avoidable (and perhaps major) consequential damages.

Got any personal travel panned? Have any more business trips looming shortly? Put a little thought to what you’re doing and who’s around; be alert when these liabilities can exist and make sure YOU aren’t a victim. A little attention and awareness on your part can avoid a lot of grief.

Get ahead of the scams, problems and tricksters. Travel should be fun. So, make sure YOU will enjoy YOUR trip.

Let me wish you Happy Travels and Memorable Experiences!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


That Comment: Real or Delusional?

Image result for self delusion

I was sitting at the dinner table during a recent event listening to people’s tales of their lives, relationships and work-related activities. It was a full-spectrum gathering.

When later reflecting on this occasion and myriad other recent and past daily interactions I again became starkly aware just how self-flattering individuals can be and what delusional façades most people will present.

In fact, I believe most folks are frighteningly self-delusional when reporting insights to their lives.

This is not surprising, as in practice, self-confidence is closely linked to self-deception, self-delusion and success.

Indeed, to quote

“…, people in positions of great authority are, and perhaps must be, capable of enormously high levels of self-delusion.” (Health-care Hypocrites, Paul Campos, 3/22/10).

And, the Definition : Self-Delusion (Noun)…

The act or state of deceiving or deluding oneself.

The common scientific belief today is that most people lie to themselves; this done to aid them in considering themselves above average and to help them justify even their unjustifiable actions.

Relatedly and ironically, I suspect many of us attempting to present a truly realistic, unbiased opinion have, at one time or another been criticized as being negative or pessimistic. It appears a more rose-colored account of events is usually better appreciated, too; upon reflection, a very troubling reality.

Oddly, it seems that self-delusion is necessary. One writer (Fine) even mentions that a group of individuals truly capable of seeing reality as it is are the clinically depressed.

So, it appears most of us actually need to delude ourselves to make life bearable. This is a disturbing dynamic and a frightening insight to our suppressed, internal views.

People typically resent being referred to as delusional. It is normally perceived as a human flaw.

Yet, given the apparent role of self-delusion in stabilizing our psyche, perhaps it should be considered an asset?

It is true that great shows of bloated self-importance can be ugly to hear, but they are also just a sad measure of, and insight to, an individual’s insecurities.

In any event, the next time you catch yourself or others making enhanced or exaggerated claims, empathize a little. Sometimes it can be wiser to understand and accept the underlying challenge and then just move on.

Unfortunately, on some occasions it is appropriate or even essential to set the record straight with deluded individuals. This is often better done privately, but perhaps sometimes damaging falsehoods must be challenged immediately and publicly. In either situation, be as discreet and sensitive as circumstance warrants.

The stark daily realities we all face can often prove extremely harsh unless portrayed through a biased, tinted lens. So, if such assertions truly do no harm at the time, let the self-deluded enjoy their peace of mind behind that colored glass. Gracefully allow people their space to feel important or avoid their unnecessary embarrassment.

Have you noticed the self-delusion of others? Perhaps you recently caught yourself making exaggerated claims? Take a look behind those stories. It’s amazing the sensitivities and insecurities that come to light.

Above all, don’t fear those delusions. They’re often what’s keeping us grounded and balanced.


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh



When Bad Behavior Goes Unaddressed

I believe Bad Behavior must always be addressed. Delays in redress should be as minimal as discretion and practicality allows.Image result for bad behavior in workplace

So, what is bad behavior? For our purposes here it is actions or inactions that directly or indirectly impact the well-being of yourself or more commonly, others.

Bad behavior can be as small as a look, roll-of-the-eyes or malicious comment. It can be as extreme as criminal activity or even violence.

We see signs of these problems throughout our daily lives; from the workplace to the home and often in social settings.

When we ignore the hurtful or harmful doings of others we inadvertently condone. Such ignorance invariably acts as endorsement or reward, often causing the action to be repeated and worsen. In this way we become enablers.

Those who ignore are an integral part of the behavior.

Intriguingly, leaving matters unaddressed can itself be bad behavior. And of course, all bad behavior is based in insecurity. So, our own inactions say much about us as individuals.

Of course this doesn’t mean we should immediately jump on every minor incident we see or perceive. Sometimes, discretion truly is the better part of valor. But even then it’s always possible to discreetly enquire later about a troubling event and highlight a concern.

How we address behavioral issues can be a matter of opportunity. Some problems are immediate; an errant child might often be corrected quickly, yet an adult will usually respond better to a delayed, private discussion. Greater crimes demand more time and process, but even then the unacceptability of an action can be noted early on.

Why do we insert ourselves in the process of correction? As moral individuals we normally feel the need to both constructively teach/guide/mentor protagonists and protect current or potential victims. Also, it behooves us to establish acceptable norms and define the culture we endorse.

In the case of Justice Systems the goals are more centered on punishment and the suppression of recurrence. Even so, cultural norms are also inherently established through Law.

When I witness behavioral infractions (say) in the Workplace it’s easy to envision the offender in his/her past as a young child behaving badly and not receiving supportive and corrective guidance from an adult. Poor parenting abounds; the arguments are often that life moves quickly, time is scarce and so things get overlooked. Realistically, these are poor excuses.

In practice there is always time for correction and improvements, even if belatedly or later in life. And, if things are important, have future or long-term impacts, time should always be allotted.

As adults we do not live in cloistered, protected environments. Humans communicate and collide with one another all the time. They need the (largely learned) ability to directly defend themselves and take

proactive action. However, it’s generally less chaotic and more civilized for everyone concerned when the most moderate and reasonable actions possible are taken during personal interactions. Sadly, this is not always what happens.

So inevitably, behavioral problems occur frequently. And, as a result we need to address the protagonists and correct the behaviors. The most popular corrective process favored today is somewhat hands-off, less emotional and non-confrontational. For example, the individual addressing a problem behavior might say to an offender:

“When you did ABC it caused DEF as a result. It made me/us feel XYZ. I am disappointed, as you’re better than that.”

There are a great number of people (in business, social settings and private life) that follow and believe strongly in this type of approach. They report it’s highly effective and works wonders in correcting minor behavioral issues. Certainly it is quick and easy; in most all cases likely much better than inaction.

Sometimes we are fortunate (and unfortunate) enough to catch ourselves exhibiting behaviors the world would be better without. Just our awareness of this reality can move us productively along the traditional path of recognition, acceptance and then hopefully on through to appropriate correction. As a consequence, it’s often surprisingly informative to reflect upon our own actions with this in mind.

Now, are you seeing behaviors in others they’d be well-advised to cease? Know anyone who’d benefit from some guidance? Are you responsibly developing others by addressing their bad behavior?

Perhaps it’s time to become a little more active with your counselling. And, enhancing your own actions in this way will make you part of a solution, not the problem.


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


Successful Leaders Work Backwards to Results

Image result for backwards product designWe’re taught from an early age to solve problems. It’s what humans do. Our approach is largely intuitive and dates back to our origins.

Typically, we are at Position A and need to get to B. So we immediately focus upon how to progress forwards and reach that goal.

I believe we can invariably achieve more predictable and valuable results by essentially reversing this approach.

In business it’s been long recommended we do NOT proceed in this traditional way. Specifically, in Marketing the wiser practice is to work in reverse.

With this method you focus primarily on the result and then next on the way to get there. First you must understand EXACTLY what Product your customer needs and at which POINT in TIME. And only then develop a Plan to achieve this overall end.

It’s fairly simple, really. If you understand your clients’ needs you just (?!) have to execute, on-time. This is commonly called being Market-Driven.

Using this approach we are effectively working backwards relative to our traditional and original scheme which focuses us more immediately upon proceeding; pushing forwards with primarily what we already have in-hand. The Market-Driven approach dictates we comprehensively understand the goal and only then flush out the details of what and how to accomplish.

The earlier, original marketing style is generally described as being Product-Driven. It causes us to be focused on the product we can deliver, rather than the true customer/market needs. Such methods of pushing products (rather than carefully satisfying requirements) are woefully inadequate in competitive, modern markets.

But more importantly, this newer, Market-Driven methodology equally applies to many, if not most life situations, too.

Today, both timing and accuracy continue to be increasingly critical in business and private life. So why wouldn’t this intuitively wise and somewhat reverse approach be generally applicable?

Let’s think more broadly than just relative to Marketing. Imagine now (say) a common situation where it’s critical you arrive for a meeting by a specific time. Shouldn’t you first recognize this important result and then work back though your schedule identifying only essential items to retain in your plans so that you won’t overrun the limited time available?

The important meeting in this case is a must do; it is your critical result. It is the particular event that has to happen. Just as in being Market-Driven, you first pick the critical result that is to occur sometime in the future and only then organize all beforehand to ensure that goal is achieved.

Through such events we see our very lives to be essentially market-driven. Additionally, we remain Results Orientated. And, isn’t it a result of these same influences that all achievers either intuitively or deliberately organize their lives, anyway?

Making sufficiently detailed plans to achieve a critical goal is the key to reliably delivering quality, on-time results. Trimming and adequately defining steps of a plan to secure the process are essential elements of success.

Additionally, developing clear mental images and specific details of desired results is a proven, powerful self-motivational method regularly used by both businesspeople and athletes, alike.

And realistically, how else do winners predictably achieve critical results UNLESS they make sufficiently thorough plans and schedules?

Are you reliably getting results with important short and long-term goals? Are your people delivering the right results, on-time?

Maybe it’s time to make your world fully Results Orientated and become more Market-Driven.


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh



Insecurity Invades: Take Back Control!

Every day we rise, step into the day and interact with others. The people we meet can be colleagues, clients, friends, family or casual acquaintances.

And, our dealings with others are profoundly influenced by their (and our own) intricate personalities and foibles. So, in this regard, which human characteristics might give us cause for concern?

Well, I believe most people to be generally insecure. In fact, I have found that many are very insecure.

Is there really great significance to these observations? Does this significantly affect our interactions with others? Might Insecurity profoundly influence the outcome for many of our dealings?

I believe the answer to all these questions is a resounding yes.

So, it is important we can recognize Insecurity in all its forms.

Indeed our ability to spot this human characteristic empowers us in dealing with others. We are better able to adjust and manage the situations we encounter.

To better understand the nature of Insecurity, consider the following (not prioritized) collection of insights:

Secure Human is an oxymoron.

Humans are petty, frightened, Insecure Creatures.

People are amalgams of insecurities invisible to the Self without Introspection.

All Bad Behavior is based in Insecurity.

Were it not for Insecurity we could not justify our Bad Behavior.

Others would feel less Inferior were we not Insecure.

Self-Importance grows with Insecurity.

Real Self-Confidence is inversely proportional to Insecurity.

Watching someone Control their Insecurities is like watching a balloon squeeze.

Insecurity inflates the Self.

The Showcasing of Accomplishments increases with Insecurity.

Acceptability declines as Insecurity grows.

Boastful Humility is symptomatic of Insecurity.

The need to Control Others grows with Insecurity.

Insecurity drives Importance to Diminish others.

These pointers better help us identify when insecurity is in-play.

Our first step should be to recognize our own insecurities. It’s not easy to do, but the more self-aware we become the more readily we recognize tell-tale behaviors in others.

Ever consider where such issues are already affecting your relationships and dealings? Further, where might they be affected in the future?

I recommend you take a close look at potentially problematic situations and even those that might already seem fixed or established. The better your ability to identify what factors are in-play and then make appropriate adjustments, the more success you’ll achieve in your business and private lives.

Enjoy the investigation. It’s amazing what you’ll uncover.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh



Beware of Sending the Wrong Message

communications-300x197Brevity in communications has become both an Asset and Liability.

Over the last decade we have accelerated our embrace of tech-driven means to speed and multiply our information access and personal interactions.

Texts, Tweets and many more vehicles service these needs, but at what price? The fewer words or characters employed in a communication, the greater are risks to clarity and precision.

Often vagueness truly is better than invisibility. Many times awareness is more important than ignorance. But frequently, there is real liability in lack of clarity or obscure intent.

“Get out, now. There’s fire,” is not the same as, “I see smoke. Anyone called 911?”

As a young graduate I recall being roasted by a Senior Engineer for imprecisely describing a technical hitch. My vagueness showed inexperience, lacked thought and useful recommendations. I recognized the problem and upgraded my commentaries, thenceforth. Truly this was a life-lesson.

Clear communications are normally essential, be they in personal, business, subjective or factual situations. Clarifying exact meanings later is all-too-often a part of consequential damage control.

“I thought you meant…,” or, “what did you mean by…,” are phrases regularly seen when things have already gone awry.

Realistically, can everyone always make sufficient time to optimize what they say or write? Probably not, but when items are Serious, Urgent and/or Important we should always take more care.

Highlighting a problem poorly or making inherently misleading comments can carry a heavy price. Perhaps simple qualifiers (I think that…,” “I believe this…,” etc.) could often be used to offset many liabilities. Certainly this would mitigate a pet peeve of mine exhibited frequently by professionals who freely proffer statements, yet avoid offering the clarification of whether their points are opinion or fact.

I regularly see people write and/or say things that highlight their insensitivity to the importance of words and how they are used. The simplest statement can be massively changed by:

Word Selection

Different words can carry vastly different meanings and cultural implications: “torrential rain” is not the same as “steady rain.”

Word Ordering

Switch the words and change the meaning: “Will I,” is radically different from,” I will.”

 Word Emphasis

What’s important might change dramatically in the same message: “I must go now,” differs significantly from, “I MUST go now.”

Communication Vehicle

Written Texts, Tweets, emails, letters, books etc. all constrain the author to communicate quite differently. Often adjustments are made to mitigate the liabilities (LOL ).

Intriguingly, the voice (eyes and body, too) offers almost infinite intonation and cultural opportunities. Thus the power of F-2-F discourse is obvious.


The pictures we both convey or provide usually carry great weight.

And, more

Culturally, it seems to me that we now more necessarily accept communication errors and often willingly sacrifice quality for quantity. In many cases this is a great trade-off, particularly where some insight is markedly better than ignorance. This approach feeds our inquisitiveness and piques our awareness. It also recognizes and accommodates our inherent physical separation from others.

However, when things really matter it’s generally better to momentarily reflect on WHAT you say, WHEN you say it and HOW. After all, if we get it wrong it often returns to haunt us.

How well are you succeeding with your own communications? Do you ever trip yourself up? Do your people cause you heartburn with some of their messaging? It’s probably time to reflect upon both your and others’ communication behaviors.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

Making a Career Move

In the recent past I read a piece reporting Stats on Millennials’ opinion regarding job tenure. The results proved intriguing, surprising and alarming at the same time.

thIt seems >25% of Millennials believe workers should change jobs within a year and only 13% in the same group thought employees should stay more than 5 years.

Likely the layoff purges and job insecurities from the last (now almost) 8 years have changed perspectives. It’s a sad fact that 20% of American workers were laid off at some point in the last 6 years. Isn’t erosion of loyalty and trust inevitable in such a situation? Perhaps the flood of part-time-only jobs has popularized such thinking?

Whatever the cause these are troubling perspectives with which to approach a career and as such will likely cause us to frequently consider position moves.

Yet, it IS possible to change jobs too often. Similarly, staying in the same role for too long can be a real and perceived stagnation problem. But generalities are NOT useful foundations upon which to build a future.

When you have a choice, NEVER leave a job unless it’s ceased to meet your needs. And, always move TO a new role, rather than AWAY from the old.

Your needs are unique and will encompass some, all even all of the following (un-prioritized):

Personal Growth

Promotional Opportunity


Career Direction



Company Outlook


Social Fit

Hours/ Vacation


Physical Location

Travel Opportunity




Housing Market


And, much more

When you LIST, PRIORITIZE and WEIGHT your own relevant factors you’ll have the unique perspective of what you need from your job. Review these with both short and long-term outlooks.

If your current position is not ideal, you should consider looking around. Perhaps a search will open your eyes to a new set of possibilities? Often your needs from one job are surprisingly different from those of another. Certainly, every position and company offers different Pros and Cons.

Also, our perspective itself changes, grows and evolves over time.

If your needs ARE being met currently, why would you move? Often it is important to NOT succumb to the grass is greener (elsewhere) perspective. Similarly, an innate fear of change is no good argument for job longevity.

It is easy to convince yourself things are better (or worse) at one place than in another. This is an inevitable result of the wanton rationalization from which we all can suffer. So, it’s generally better to review your alternatives and needs with a trusted colleague, friend or mentor. Detached and sound perspective is essential.

There is no universally applicable rule about when to voluntarily change jobs. In fact the notion of this is almost absurd.

A job-hopping individual can be a godsend in some roles as might be a stick-to-it career veteran in another. Certainly your track record in this regard is an important part of what you bring to the table. Your value to any future employer is directly affected by this history.

There is much to be weighed objectively when making career changes. So, don’t blindly follow canned beliefs or opinion; rather, carefully consider your unique personal needs and objectives.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh




A Leadership Challenge: Engaging Unmotivated Workers

Recently ran into a Silicon Valley Exec at a local party.

A very bright, well-educated guy, but particularly frustrated right now. His root problem is thvery familiar.

Given a hire everyone you need mandate, he’s been running into both unmotivated candidates and similarly challenging existing employees. This is leaving him disillusioned with the outlook.

In himself he is particularly driven, focused and accomplished but really doesn’t understand what he is seeing, culturally.

Admittedly he’s not in an obviously sexy product area, yet most companies on the planet (from initial looks) face exactly the same reality.

So, how do you fix these problems? What’s the issue?

Sorry to say but the problem here is on the complainer, our Exec. Many folks are at the bottom end of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; working for a paycheck and not wanting to be hassled. It’s sad, but true.

Moving folks to self-motivation with resulting excellent performance is a Leadership problem. People often need to be INSPIRED to get them jumpstarted in this direction.

Great leaders Inspire, Empower and Engage those they meet, their reports and coworkers. This is traditionally accomplished by:

  • Motivating
  • Communicating
  • Accomplishing major Results

They typically share a clear Vision and possess a truly Positive Outlook.

Such traits emerge as the leader grows in confidence and capability. They additionally evolve as a result of careful and specific learning.

In this specific case our Leader has great energy, is highly motivated and self-directed. He needs to project his (already existing) vision of why he himself is inspired, to help get these other folks going in the right direction.

Our particular Exec is actually extremely skilled at explaining his own great fascination in, interest for his work and company technology. Luckily for him he is also naturally articulate.

Leadership takes great energy and enthusiasm. Constantly supporting your people and promoting your Vision is the key to energizing a workforce.

Some employees will never strongly engage in the workplace. Deal with them, as necessary. Most people prefer to be engaged, are more highly motivated as a result and typically enjoy their much work more. So, Enable them, accordingly.

If you’re looking at demotivated workers and uninspired candidates, take a look in the mirror. That’s the first guy who must perform to turn this around.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


Navigating Tough Situations: Managing Your Self, Thinking & Stress

thEver suffered through a nagging business or personal problem that gnaws that you?

Found yourself absently straying back to related issues to the point that anxiety level just keeps mounting?

Every now and again things just get out of control.

We’ve all been there. Humans commonly embrace such tortures; some chronically, many far too much.

The issue is how do we process and overcome these challenges in the least distressing way?

When such events overtake you, it truly feels like the end of the world. But, it isn’t. In the grand scheme of things traumatic occurrences are but passing unpleasantness and worrying serves little ultimate purpose. It’s best to simply remain impassionate, yet still methodically process events and changes away in a manner best serving your interests.

This is easier to say than do. So how do we proceed? Consider the following approach…

After each new upset (from incoming changes/news), just invest solely in time necessary to keep events going in the preferred direction available. This may take little or massive energy and need urgent or steady attention. Always do what must be done and when required.

The trick is to never give up on the most desirable outcome, ever, unless absolutely forced. Even then take care to morph existing situations and events toward the most preferential result possible. Remember that once an option/path is abandoned or neglected it often becomes almost impossible to recover that position later.

Letting go of that feeling in your gut can be achieved mentally. Focus on what needs to be done, do it and then relax till the next step/event occurs. If ever you start slipping toward an anxious state, randomly churning events, always first consider if there is a point that truly should be rethought. Give things a few moments to be sure there is nothing, and then cut off all pointless distress by focusing your time and energy elsewhere.

Such behavior doesn’t mean blanking out important factors. It means toning down the emotional intensity so it can’t permeate your whole life unnecessarily, accomplishing nothing but blurring your thinking. However, when that uncomfortable feeling actually is warning more careful thought is required, then think things through, unemotionally; confirm/adjust and then move on, again.

Legal and/or deeply personal events stick around and often cut us deeply. Similarly, all out-of-your-immediate-control situations are equally bad as they typically present no or few channels to make rational, speedy corrections and addresses. These things are painful for everyone to experience; they persist.

Do not let allow such things to dominate any more of your life and time than they must. Nothing is worth the distress.

The Xen of Self Discipline is “to eat when you eat.” The goal is to focus on one thing without distraction. Ultimately it is this which instills calm and brings clarity.

Strangely, we always learn a lot from disturbing experiences. Painful perhaps, but invariably valuable personal growth…. that which doesn’t kill me, etc.

So, when the worst comes to worst and you’re embroiled in such events, simply soldier on. Invest all the time and thought you must, but religiously take breaks to distract yourself, recharge your energies and preserve your ability to think crisply and effectively.

Great stress is commonly accompanied by health issues, both real and imagined. Breaks in routine, exercise and self-coddling can all help you regenerate. It’s essential you invest in and protect your health.

In the end, no matter the event, it will pass. Remember there’s always this certainty to lighten our load and help guide us through.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh