Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Character Strengths of Leadership

Guest Blogger Erik Braunitzer is the lead on the creative writing end of Douglas Elliman Marketing. With a background in philosophy, he's written a number of innovative pieces on leadership and morals.

The Character Strengths of Leadership, By Erik Braunitzer, courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, agents for NYC Rentals.

In today's time of economic hardships and 'leaderless' movements, we may be left looking for a new leader after all to set our country on the right path. But what about you, personally; do you try to be a good leader for your peers, friends and family? What character strengths actually make up a good leader?

I believe a leader is someone who leads others by example by being ethical, having integrity, and enlightening others to act in a similar fashion. People possessing these character strengths will naturally fall into leadership roles in different instances and even in their career. Making habits such as using manners, treating others with respect and making honesty your policy in all situations, you will be able find success in your personal and professional life.

Some people may feel that it is hard to maintain integrity at all times; a little white lie doesn't hurt anyone right? If you get caught being dishonest or choose to keep quiet instead of speaking up when you know something is wrong, your integrity is at stake. People who do not know you well will make a snap judgment about you that will be hard to change. Choosing to be a great leader and maintaining integrity as party of your beliefs and behavior, you will see a positive change in your life.

There are many great leaders that you can emulate to help you lead a life that positively affects yourself and those around you. And what better of an example to use than Martin Luther King. An American activist and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the mid-50’s, King achieved invaluable freedom for African Americans through boycotts, conferences and his famous “I have a dream” speech.

But it was his character strengths that allowed him to push on through some of the worst adversities. King was ethical, honest, kind and determined. Everything he did was based on his enlightenment, which came through what we can only be deemed as integrity. In 1964, he earned the Nobel Peace Prize, and is the youngest person to do so.   He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.  And like most leaders, King inspired others.  Morality, integrity and enlightenment are viral, and as long as these traits exist, so will great leaders like King.

So, by upholding your integrity, trying to be a leader and enlightening others to do the same, you will soon see the positive change it can bring to your life and those around you.  Start with these character strengths, and you’re on the right track.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Relationship Health and Satisfaction Messages

Psychology Today, always interesting, asks, Are you with the right mate?  Really, what most of us are asking is, How can I be in a more healthy and satisfying relationship?, which is exactly what the article addresses.  My take on the article’s tips:

*Surprise, surprise!  The early infatuation with your partner will fade.
*No matter how much it feels like they are, your partner is not responsible for your happiness.
*As with most important things in life, it’s up to you to create the relationship you want.
*It helps to start with identifying your relationship needs.
*Then you have to get the message out there and try to get your needs met.
*At the same time, you must try to understand and meet your partner’s needs.
*You and your spouse are different (and it would be terribly boring if you weren’t).
*It’s important to recognize that you cannot get all your needs met in one relationship.
*Relationships are dynamic, they’re always changing.  It’s a good thing.

And keep in mind, as the Gottman’s have pointed out with respect to communication in relationships, more positive talk and less negative talk are important to your relationship’s health.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Feeling Bad? Just Work Through It

Running and songwriting share similar principles.  When it doesn’t feel good, you just work through it.  Ben Gibbard, Death Cab for Cuties.

I heard something similar the other night in my Yin yoga class.  In Yin, the poses are held longer.  This requires patience and persistence, occasionally in the face of some discomfort.

In each case, the persistence, working through, patience, whatever you want to name it, helps you get through.  The process helps you develop confidence in your ability to face life’s challenges, whether in your work, relationships or other activities.

This is a difficult lesson for some of us.  Like our vegetables when we were kids, hard work is good for us.

Consider what you’re doing in your life.  Your work.  Your family.  Your relationships.  Your hobbies.  Try to work through the discomfort that comes up and persist.  To help, you can try some of these:

*stop judging yourself (I’m not good enough, strong enough, special enough… to…)

*relax, take a breath and go on

*talk to yourself in an encouraging way (You can do it!)

*just keep at it a little while longer

*remind yourself how good it’s going to feel when you accomplish your goal

*break it down into smaller steps if needed

Sometimes things just don’t feel good.  When it’s something you really want, you just have to work through it.  It’ll be worth it.

Stay Young, Go Dancing, Death Cab for Cuties

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Willpower Tips for your New Year’s Resolutions

What better time to learn a little about the new research on willpower?  Of course you’ve just made, are considering making or have rejected making your new year’s resolutions.  Time and again we learn that we don’t follow through, that it just makes us feel bad or, while it seemed like a good idea at the time, giving up chocolate may not be a make or break change in your life.

So here are a few tips from the new book, Willpower, by Baumeister and Tierney, to help you see it through this year.

1.  Willpower is like a muscle that can be strengthened.  In other words, practice will make it stronger.  So really, if at first you don’t succeed…You know the drill.  It really makes sense though.

2.  Willpower is like a muscle, so it can get tired.  Quite simply, don’t make too make resolutions.  Your willpower muscle will get tired and wimp out on one or more of them.  This is why alcoholics in recovery don’t need to go to bars (among other reasons), why it’s easier to quit smoking without another smoker in the house and why it’s very easy to resist the desserts when you don’t have any around.  Got kids?  Put the to-be-avoided foods out of sight.

3.  Willpower draws on our mental reserves which can be depleted in a variety of ways.  Making a lot of decisions depletes mental reserves.  Think about how you feel after spending a day shopping (just shoot me now) or a day hard at work that involves a lot of decisions.  Then someone asks you where you want to have dinner.  If you’re like most people, you feel like screaming when they repeatedly tell you it’s up to you.   They think they’re doing you a favor when, in fact, your mind is too tired to make one more decision.  Other things that deplete our mental reserves include not getting proper sleep and diet (yeah, I did go there again).

I know there’s a bit of a catch 22 here.  You exercise your willpower muscle to strengthen it, but you overwork it and instead of strengthening it, you fatigue it.  If you think about willpower being like any other muscle, you can do strengthening exercises, but do too much and you risk shut down or injury.   So exercise smart.  Ergo, just a couple of new year’s resolutions.

And don’t give up because you’ve failed at something in the past.  Perhaps this is your year to celebrate success!

New Year’s Day, U2