Monday Minute | 012

Whenever I think of this day, I think of how tough it is to make a decision to put someone in that position – to ask the ultimate ask – and how they must feel facing that unknown. Grace comes in sorrow, truth in apologies, and compassion in noting a significant day such as Memorial Day.

-Stacey Smith, President & CEO of PQC

Monday Minute | 011

We are all a part of the YouTube generation …
Today, if you need to do anything, you “YouTube it.” Change a lock, fix the car, install an air conditioner, start using a new software application, prepare for surgery, etc. Challenged to do the moonwalk? Learn how to do it from Michael Jackson. Want to emulate Mick Jagger’s onstage style? It’s all there—and much, much more.
In our office, we usually take a few minutes with anyone who joins for lunch to enjoy a few videos of kids, pets or amazing world events, but it also streams into the DIY “how-to” section. Amber, our HR Director, is a card maker and frequently laughs that her home internet must be still showing the latest card-making techniques and ideas. She is what could be called an avid fan of YouTube learning. The videos give Amber the confidence to replicate the activity, but she knows that it takes time and that the first version may not be as perfect as what we see online. By doing them over and over, she builds the skill.
So why do I bring it up? Because watching doesn’t take the place of doing. The act of feeling out the specific activity is as important as doing it. In a recent article from Harvard Business Review, Michael Kardas and Ed O’Brien point out that these videos have changed the way we learn. It also highlights that watching is no substitute for practice, practice, practice.
We are using videos more and more to get our message out. When it focuses on doing an activity, we need to remember that even with a video, our audience may need some direction and time to perfect the activities that we are helping them learn. And we need to let them know it’s OK to end up on the “fail” loop. It just means we need more practice.
(FYI – for anyone that ever gets a KUDO card, Amber makes each and every one.)

-Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO

Monday Minute | 010

Boost Happiness by Forming New Habits of Mind

“Focusing on the good isn’t just about overcoming our inner grump to see the glass half full. It’s about opening our minds to the ideas and opportunities that will help us be more productive, effective and successful at work and in life.”

—Shawn Achor, positive psychology expert

What’s the secret to becoming a happier person? Try to form a positive habit of mind. Pick a habit—it can be any habit, but we do mean one habit. Some examples include:

  • Spotting things and people to be grateful for.
  • Exercising.
  • Investing in friendships.
  • Meditating.
  • Focusing—don’t multi-task.
  • Saying “thank you” and showing appreciation.

Next, do the behavior once each day for 21 days and mark the days off as you go.

Why 21 days? According to William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, a behavior practiced for 21 days straight will become automatic in the way required to qualify it as a habit.

The way to success, then, seems simple. Form some positive habits using the 21 days of practice formula. Then, keep building that repertoire of positive habits using one 21-day block at a time.

Yes, it sounds simple. But, as the old saying goes, simple is not necessarily easy. Research tells us that willpower is not all that it’s cracked up to be. We each have limited supplies of it. That’s one reason new habits are hard to form, old habits die hard, and why habits are so darned important in the first place. The powerful nature of habits is that they don’t ask us to expend lots of willpower. Their purpose is quite the opposite: to save that particular form of precious and limited energy. But it turns out that the process of developing the habit in the first place is quite a drain on willpower.

So, what can you do about this all-too-human phenomenon? Just practice the 20-Second Rule. Use the activation energy—the energy leading up to the execution of any behavior—to your advantage. In the case of a positive behavior, you want to make a habit, reduce the time to activate the behavior to under 20 seconds. In the case of a negative behavior you want to stop doing, increase the activation time to over 20 seconds (the longer the better). So, for exercise, place your exercise equipment—clothes, tools and the like—where you can reach it quickly and easily. And for the potato chips, you would like to stop eating, leave them right where they belong: on the shelf at the store (or, at least on the shelf in the pantry).

What would you like to change in 21 days? Are you suffering from bad habits that keep you from being happy? Are there good habits that could boost your happiness and your success?

-Stacey Smith, PQC President and CEO