Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
Emotional intelligence is one of the most important tools to add to your tool belt, whether you are a leader, a manager, a manager of managers, or an individual contributor that needs to influence without authority.
Emotional intelligence is “the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.”
It’s powerful stuff.
Here are 10 of my past posts from this year that will help you learn some new emotional intelligence skills that you can apply immediately:
If you only have time to read one, then I recommend starting with the following:
How To Free Yourself from Negative Emotions
Best wishes for 2014!
You might already know the Agile Manifesto:
But do you know the Declaration of Interdependence:
While the Agile Manifesto is geared toward Agile practitioners, the Declaration of Interdependence is geared towards Agile project leaders.
When you know the values that shape things, it helps you better understand why things are the way they are.
Notice how you can read the Agile Manifesto as, “we value this more than that” and you can read the Declaration of Interdependence as “this benefit we achieve through this.” Those are actually powerful and repeatable language patterns. I’ve found myself drawing from those patterns over the years, whenever I was trying to articulate operating principles (which is a good name for principles that guide how you operate.)
3 Ways to Accelerate Business Value
Extreme Programming (XP) at a Glance
How We Adhered to the Agile Manifesto on the patterns & practices Team
The patterns & practices Way
Using MadLibs to Create Actionable Principles and Practices
Browse free personal development articles that will elevate your game in work and life. If you have a passion for personal development, then you’ll enjoy this knowledge base of personal development articles on Sources of Insight:
Personal Development Articles
There are more than a 1,000 personal development articles in the knowledge base. I’ve grouped them into meaningful buckets across mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, and fun.
I’ve spend many, many, many $1,000s of dollars on books and training over the years.
For the past several years, I’ve made it a habit to share more of what I learn and what I use in the real world on Sources of Insight.
The singular goal is to empower you with skill and help you be as effective as possible in all that you do.
Or, as I like to say it with a phrase:
Skills to pay the bills and lead a better life.
If you don’t have time to read all the personal development articles, then just read this one:
There is No Shortage of Time
“In life you need either inspiration or desperation.” – Tony Robbins
Is 2014 going to be YOUR year?
Let’s make it so.
My best-selling book on time management and productivity is on sale for a limited time offer, through a Countdown Deal:
Getting Results the Agile Way on Kindle
What is Getting Results the Agile Way all about? It’s a simple system for meaningful results in work and life. It’s the best synthesis of what I know for mastering time management, motivation, and personal productivity. (And, it’s designed to be “better together” – use it with your favorite existing tools of choice, whether that’s Franklin-Covey, the Pomodoro Technique, Getting Things Done, etc.)
The way this Countdown Deal works is that the price goes from lower to higher during the course of 7 days.
As I currently understand it, here’s the price breakdown:
In other words, the sooner you get it, the cheaper it is.
Here are the key benefits of the book:
Here’s what others are saying about the book:
"Agile Results delivers know-what, know-why and know-how for anyone who understands the value of momentum in making your moments count."– Dr. Rick Kirschner, bestselling author
"JD’s ability to understand and cut to the real issues and then apply techniques that have proven to be successful in other situations is legendary at Microsoft. Over the years I have learnt that he will not recommend something or someone unless he believe it the entire value chain, making the advice you get even more potent. It’s a little like a whirlwind and you have to be prepared for a ride but if you want results and you want them fast, you talk to JD."– Mark Curphey, CEO & Founder, SourceClear
“JD is the go-to-guy for getting results, and Agile Results demonstrates his distinct purpose – he shows how anyone can do anything, better. This book has simple, effective, powerful tools and ideas that are easy enough for everyone to apply in their work and lives, so that they get the results they’d like, even the impossible and the unexpected.”– Janine de Nysschen, Changemaker and Purpose Strategist, Whytelligence
Getting results and being YOUR best is a personal thing, which is why I designed it as a personal results system.
If you already are using Agile Results, tell me a story. Tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly. I always want to know what’s working or not working for you. Each week, I receive emails from people around the world with their stories of personal victories. For some, it’s fast, as if it was the missing link they needed to help them connect the dots. For others, it’s more like a slow crescendo. And, for others, it’s more like a game of slow and steady that wins the race.
But what everybody seems to have in common is that they feel like they got back on path and are instantly getting better at spending the right time, on the right things, the right way, with the right energy.
This is where breakthroughs happen.
Talk about taking some things for granted. Especially when it’s a love-hate relationship. I’m talking about Annual Reviews.
I didn’t realize how valuable they can be when you own the process and you line them up with your bigger goal setting for life. I’ve done them for so long, in this way, that I forgot how much they are a part of my process for carving out a high-impact year.
I know I might do things a big differently in terms of how I do my review, so I highlighted key things in my post:
The Power of Annual Reviews for Achieving Your Goals and Realizing Your Potential
Note that if you hate the term Annual Review because it conjures up a bunch of bad memories, then consider calling it your Annual Retrospective. If you’re a Scrum fan, you’ll appreciate the twist.
Here’s the big idea:
If you “own” your Annual Review, you can use taking a look back to take a leap forward.
What I mean is that if you are pro-active in your approach, and if you really use feedback as a gift, you can gain tremendous insights into your personal growth and capabilities.
Here’s a summary of what I do in terms of my overall review process:
It’s not an easy process. But that’s just it. That’s what makes it worth it. It’s a tough look at the hard stuff that matters. The parts of the process that make it a challenge are the opportunities for growth. Looking back, I can see how much easier it is for me to really plan out a year of high-impact where I live my values and play to my strengths. I can also see early warning signs and anticipate downstream challenges. I know when I first started, it was daunting to figure out what a year might look like. Now, it’s almost too easy.
This gives me a great chance up front to play out a lot of “What If?” scenarios. This also gives me a great chance right up front to ask the question, if this is how the year will play out, is that the ride I want to be on? The ability to plan out our future capability vision, design a better future, and change our course is part of owning our destiny.
In my experience, a solid plan at the right level, gives you more flexibility and helps you make smarter choices, before you become a frog in the boiling pot.
If you haven’t taken the chance to really own and drive your Annual Review, then consider doing an Annual Retrospective, and use the process to help you leap frog ahead.
Make this YOUR year.
2012 Year in Review
Anatomy of a High-Potential
Mid-Year Review, Career, and Getting Ahead
Performance Review Template
The Guerilla Guide to Getting a Better Performance Review at Microsoft
Lists are your friend when it comes to productivity, focus, and personal effectiveness. If you’re a Program Manager, you already know the value of lists, whether it’s a list of scenarios, a list of features, a list of bugs, a list of milestones, a list of open work, etc.
I use lists of all kinds to collect, organize, and simplify all sorts of information. Here is my newly renovated Lists page on Sources of Insight:
Lists at a Glance
I have lists of books, movies, quotes, and more. I also have checklists that you can use to improve things like focus or leadership in work and life.
Here are a few of my favorite lists from the page:
If you only read one list, read 101 of the Great Insights and Actions for Work and Life. It might seem long but it’s a super consolidated list of things you can use instantly to make the most of what you’ve got and to apply more science to the art of work and life.
Here are a few examples from 101 of the Greatest Insights and Actions for Work and Life:
Job satisfaction — Autonomy, identity, feedback significance, and variety. If you want to truly enjoy your job, focus on the following characteristics: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, feedback. See Social Psychology (p. 423)
“How does the story end?” – How the story ends, matters more than how it starts. A happy ending is a very powerful thing. The ending of the story is often more important than the beginning. Daniel Kahnenman says that a bad ending can ruin your overall experience or memory of the event.
“Doublethink” — Think twice to visualize more effectively. Think twice to succeed. Focus on the positive and the negative. You can visualize more effectively if you imagine both the positive side and the negative side. First, fantasize about reaching your goal, and the benefits. Next, imagine the barriers and obstacles you might face. Now for the “doublethink” … First, think about the first benefit and elaborate on how your life would be better. Next, immediately, think about the biggest hurdle to your success and what you would do if you encounter it. In 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, Richard Wiseman says that Gabriele Oettingen has demonstrated time and again that people who practice “doublethink” are more successful than those who just fantasize or those who just focus on the negatives.
Delphi Method — Use “Collective Intelligence” to find the best answers. The Delphi technique is a way to use experts to forecast and predict information. It’s a structured approach to getting consensus on expert answers. The way it works is a facilitator gets experts to answer questions anonymously. The facilitator then shares the summary of the anonymous results. The experts can then revise their answers based on the collective information. By sharing anonymous results, and then talking about the summary of the anonymous results, experts can more freely share information and explore ideas without being defensive of their opinions. See Delphi Method.
The Power of Regret — Reflect on your worst, to bring out your best. In 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, Richard Wiseman says, “research conducted by Charles Abraham and Paschal Sheeran has shown that just a few moments’ thinking about how much you will regret not going to the gym will help motivate you to climb off the couch and onto an exercise bike.”
10 Emotional Intelligence Articles for Improving Your Effectiveness in Work and Life
How Tos for Personal Effectiveness at a Glance
How To Use Monday Vision, Daily Wins, and Friday Reflection to Triple Your Productivity
In Motley Fool Stock Advisor, David Gardner writes about a idea from 1970 that changed the business culture at large:
“In 1970, Noble Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman wrote a famous article for The New York Times Magazine, decrying the idea that businesses should have any sense of social responsibility. Their responsibility, he said, is to increase shareholder wealth to the greatest extent possible – pure and simple. It was an incredibly influential idea that became common wisdom and is in large part responsible for much of the business culture we see today. The problem is it was completely and transparently wrong.”
David then follows up with words of wisdom from Jack Welch, Former General Electric CEO.
Here’s what Jack said in an interview back in 2009:
“On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy … Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers, and your products. Managers and investors should not set share price increase as their overarching goal.”
It’s a great reminder to set overarching goals that matter.
Then great results are a by-product.
A few years back, I put together a roundup of 25 holiday classic movies to help people find their holiday spirit:
What 25 Holiday Classics Teach Us About Life and Fun
The post was pretty broken in terms of formatting, but the content is evergreen, so I took the time to revamp it. It should be 1000 times better now (at least.)
If you’re a movie buff, you'll recognize a lot of the classics, like The Lemon Drop Kid, or The Bishop’s Wife, or White Christmas.
I can never find anybody who has actually seen Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, though it’s still one of my favorite versions.
And when it comes to Claymation, my favorite is still Rudolph. I can never forget the scene where Yukon Cornelius says, “Look at what he can do!”, and the Bumble (the Abominable Snowman) puts the star on the top of the tree, without a ladder.
And whenever I see a sad looking little tree, I can’t help but wonder if adding a bunch of lights would magically transform it into a big, magnificent, and full tree, Charlie Brown style.
Transformation isn’t magic though.
It’s a lot of work. A lot of smart work.
As you get ready for this coming year, I hope that the key lessons you learned, and the key insights from this past year serve you well.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s how investing in the right capabilities pays off time and time again.
As a tribute to Nelson Mandela, I put together a comprehensive collection of the best Nelson Mandela quotes:
Nelson Mandela Quotes
It’s a pretty extreme collection, organized by key themes like compassion, courage and conviction, and humility.
One of the things that surprised me is how much Mandela was about fulfillment and self-actualization. I knew the freedom and equality focus, as well as the leadership focus, but I hadn’t realized how many great words of wisdom and pithy prose he had about making the most of what you’ve got, as well as rising above your circumstances.
He really exemplified the idea of “follow your growth.”
So whether you’re building your building your knowledge base for personal development or leadership insights, Nelson Mandela’s quotes should be a great fit for your collection.
Here are a few of my favorite Nelson Mandela quotes:
Here is the my full set of Nelson Mandela quotes.
Please share them with anybody you think will benefit or needs a pick me up or some little lift for their day.
"Information is not knowledge." -- Albert Einstein
We live in a super-competitive world. It’s also a super-collaborative world. How ironic. But, I guess, in that way, it’s kind of like Survivor.
We need to learn how to do things better, faster, and cheaper, and what you don’t know can hurt you.
How Tos are still my favorite way of learning how to get things done, and for sharing and scaling expertise in a simple way.
In the sprit of helping you get better, faster, and more capable, I’ve revamped my How Tos page on Sources of Insight (my blog on “proven practices for personal effectiveness.”) Here is my updated How Tos page (Index of How Tos organized by Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, etc.):
How Tos at a Glance
Here are a few of my favorites that I think you’ll enjoy:
I think you can use any of these to instantly get quick benefits and apply new skills or approaches. Or, if you have a better approach, then you can share it with me, and I can improve the How To
If you only have time to read one, read How To Think Like Bill Gates.
A common reaction people have when they read that one is at first they think it’s all common sense, but then when they read the part at the end that contrasts it with typical default thinking patterns, they realize the enormous gap between every day thinking and thinking like the big “G” man.
Sources of Insight Refresh: Insights and Actions for Work and Life at Your Fingertips