OK, Now Even the Harvard Business Review is Hopping on the Emotional Intelligence Train

August 30, 2017

 

I’ve been doing emotional intelligence work in the construction industry since 2000.  Think back to the year 2000.  What if I came into your office or on your project back then and talked to you about emotional intelligence and how collaboration and trust is really the best way to approach projects?  What would you have said?  You probably would have thrown me out of the office or jobsite trailer.  Now it seems that every single conference I go to from Construction Technology (AGC IT) to Owners (CURT and COAA) to Sustainability to Construction Research (CII) to Lean (LCI), to academia (PACE at Penn State and Auburn), EVERYONE is talking about collaboration, relationships and trust as foundation for great projects.  The research at CII and Penn State and LCI bear this out.  Relationships are drivers of project performance.  And now we are scrambling to find a way to impart these emotional intelligence and people skills to our people because, let’s face it, it’s not our best thing.

I recieved an email from the Harvard Business Review recently.  The title was How to Be Human at Work.  Here is the text:

Introducing the HBR Emotional Intelligence Series, a new line of books that provides smart, essential reading on the human side of professional life. Each book offers proven research showing how our emotions impact our work lives, practical advice for managing difficult people and situations, and inspiring essays on what it means to tend to our emotional well-being at work. This specially priced four-volume set includes Happiness, Resilience, Mindfulness, and Empathy.

You know you have been legitimized when the Harvard Business Review pays attention to it.  You know it is a hot topic.  Click Here for the ad for their emotional intelligence books.

Emotional intelligence first came to the forefront in the 90s.  Why hasn’t it gone away like so many other management fads?  I think it’s because neuroscience is verifying what we intuitively know to be true every single day.  Our emotional states affect our well-being, our problem solving, our creativity, our ability to be in relationship, and our success or failure in life.  Isn’t it about time you took a hard look at this phenomenon?

If you want to take our free Ghyst Emotional Intelligence Test, please Click Here.

If you want more resources on emotional intelligence and all of the critical people skills your folks need to succeed, click here  for information on our Total Leadership Library.

If you want more free information and resources, download my white paper that includes two of my bestselling books and another white paper on how to build the people before you build the project.  It will give you the tools you need to make your next project a huge success!  Click here to download the white paper.  

 

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Are you a Misogynist?

August 23, 2017

 

On my quest for more diversity and inclusion in the AEC industry, I have focused on women as well as minorities.

The title of the blog is Are You a Misogynist?  Let’s look at the dictionary definition of a misogynist:  a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.

I’ve been in the AEC industry a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a true misogynist.  I’m not saying they don’t exist. I’m saying I never met one.  From my point of view, most of the mistakes the men make with women in the industry are because of a typical emotional profile which includes high self-regard, assertiveness, and independence and low emotional self-awareness, empathy, and impulse control.  With this combination of emotional skills, men may say or do inappropriate things and most of the time, do not even realize it. The profile also contributes to biases men may have toward women.

This is not an excuse, simply data that we can’t ignore.  Part of our diversity and inclusion training includes emotional intelligence training and mindfulness, which helps these white males to be present in those moments, fully understand the reactions of others, truly understands when things get off track, and make adjustments for better outcomes through meaningful dialogue.  Although this isn’t a total solution, many of these issue concerning women in the AEC industry can be made better through emotional self-awareness and emotional management.

Women have a tough time in the industry.  They have to walk a very fine line between assertiveness and empathy.  If they are too assertive, they are labeled a bitch.  If they are too empathetic, they are dismissed.  Most men don’t have to deal with this dilemma and are not aware that their experience of working in the industry might be different than a woman’s. Many white men tend to pull out the performance card.  If you are a high performer, you will rise in your career no matter what your gender or skin color.  This is an excellent thought, but with personal biases (conscious and unconscious), and the current culture of the industry, and based on several key studies, the reality is that women and minorities don’t get the same opportunities.  This is really coming out now in the tech industry with the debacles at Uber and Google.

I hear women in the industry discuss the likability/credibility dilemma and that fine line between the two.  Carol Bartz, the former CEO of Autodesk and Yahoo, was asked at a recent women in construction conference about this likability/credibility issue and which was most important.  She responded as only Carol Bartz could.  She said, “If I had to chose one, it would be credibility.  But if you’re an asshole, you lose credibility pretty quickly.”

I put out a survey with the following question:  As a woman in the AEC industry, what is your biggest challenge? The number one answer?:  Lack of respect.  I have worked with a woman who has a PhD from MIT in Civil Engineering, and she is still treated like an administrative assistant on some of her projects.

Let’s do a quick experiment.  If you are a white male, what comes to mind when I say Woman Project Manager?  If your mental image is filled with reservations or negative thoughts, then it’s probably time to take a look at yourself and work on your biased thinking.  Does this make you a misogynist?  That is for you to decide.  But how you define yourself is less important than what you do with your bias.

If you are a white male, I challenge you to address any biases that you have toward women in the AEC industry and promote and support them as best you can.  If we aren’t able to elevate more women into higher management positions, the women coming into the industry will continue to leave after a short period of time.  If you were a woman, would you stay if you saw no opportunities for advancement?

One more note:  The one point of discussion at all three of the women in construction conferences I’ve attended is how women sometimes undermine each other instead of supporting each other.  It seems there is such a thing as women who are biased against other women. So, women out there, especially those in leadership positions, it’s up to you to overcome any biases that you may have and help to promote other women in the industry.

Our course on diversity and inclusion explores these mental models and biases and gives you tools to be able to overcome them. If you want even more resources on emotional intelligence and all of the critical people skills your folks need to succeed, click here  for information on our online courses called The Total Leadership Library.

If you want more free information and resources, download my white paper that includes two of my bestselling books and another white paper on how to build the people before you build the project.  Click here to download the white paper.  

 

 

 


Miraculous Meditation

January 23, 2017

meditation suit

When I do these leadership programs, the participants always ask me,  what’s the one thing that I could do that would make the biggest difference?  I understand the question.  We are all busy.  We can’t do dozens of things.  We can’t commit to an hour in the gym, seven days a week.  We can’t go on a sabbatical for a month.  So what is that one thing that can make a huge difference?  It’s meditation. We strongly emphasize this in our courses.  In order to create well-being, in order to be productive, in order to tap into that higher power, we must have reflection time each day.  It doesn’t have to be long.  It can be as little as 10 minutes.  But it has to be consistent.  I probably average four to five days a week where I sit down and be quiet and not do any planning or worrying or problem solving.  Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, says that anyone who is trying to attain personal mastery should practice some form of meditation.

Studies have shown that meditation increases focus and changes physiology.  It reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases DHEA, the “youth” hormone.  It relaxes you.  It increases problem solving.  It increases your energy levels.  Harvard Medical recently found that regular meditation actually changes the expression of genes and lengthens the telomeres.  Shortened telomeres indicate aging.  So it actually reverses the aging process.  So if it does all of these amazing thins, why doesn’t everyone do it?  For some it seems too “new age”.  For some, it seems cult like.  They think that it conflicts with their religious beliefs.  But think of it as just an exercise in concentration.  You can apply your own belief system to these techniques so that you are comfortable with it.

Here is a very simple meditation technique:

Take a deep breath in.  Breathe out and think the number one.  Breathe in again.  Breathe out again.  Think the number two.  Breathe in again.  Breathe out.  Think the number three.  Breathe in a fourth time.  Breathe out and think the number four.  Then start again at one.  Other thoughts will enter your mind.  Politely dismiss them and go back to breathing and counting.  Do this for around 5 to 10 minutes.  Set a timer if you need to.

You will no doubt find this hard at first.  But the more you do it, the more you will be able to focus.  Not only during the meditation, but in all areas of your life and work.  You will be more relaxed, more resilient to stress, and you will have more energy at the end of the day.


The Secret of Life: What ONE THING should I focus on?

June 5, 2015

Meditation illustration

“Meditation is a way for nourishing and blossoming the divinity within you.” ― Amit Ray

Take a look at this video from the movie, City Slickers:

When I do these leadership programs, the participants always ask me,  what’s the one thing that I could do that would make the biggest difference?  I understand the question.  We are all busy.  We can’t do dozens of things.  We can’t commit to an hour in the gym, seven days a week.  We can’t go on a sabbatical for a month.  So what is that one thing that can make a huge difference?  It’s meditation. We strongly emphasize this in our courses.  In order to create well-being, in order to be productive, in order to tap into that higher power, we must have reflection time each day.  It doesn’t have to be long.  It can be as little as 10 minutes.  But it has to be consistent.  I probably average four to five days a week where I sit down and be quiet and not do any planning or worrying or problem solving.  Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, says that anyone who is trying to attain personal mastery should practice some form of meditation.

Studies have shown that meditation increases focus and changes physiology.  It reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases DHEA, the “youth” hormone.  It relaxes you.  It increases problem solving.  It increases your energy levels.  So if it does all of these amazing thins, why doesn’t everyone do it?  For some it seems too “new age”.  For some, it seems cult like.  They think that it conflicts with their religious beliefs.  But think of it as just an exercise in concentration.  You can apply your own belief system to these techniques so that you are comfortable with it.

Harvard Medical School recently completed a study on mediation.  The study published in May in a prestigious medical journal showed that one session of relaxation-response practice was enough to enhance the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and insulin secretion and reduce expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress.  This means that meditation actually helps prevent autoimmune diseases and inflammation that is linked to many diseases.

As if that weren’t cool enough, regular mediation actually lengthens the telomeres on our genes.  These shoelace-like structures shorten with age.  So meditation is a bonafide way to reverse the aging process!

Here is a very simple meditation technique:

Take a deep breath in.  Breathe out and think the number one.  Breathe in again.  Breathe out again.  Think the number two.  Breathe in again.  Breathe out.  Think the number three.  Breathe in a fourth time.  Breathe out and think the number four.  Then start again at one.  Other thoughts will enter your mind.  Politely dismiss them and go back to breathing and counting.  Do this for around 5 to 10 minutes.  Set a timer if you need to.

You will no doubt find this hard at first.  But the more you do it, the more you will be able to focus.  Not only during the meditation, but in all areas of your life and work.  You will be more relaxed and more resilient to stress.

I have created a guided meditation CD that takes you through a progressive relaxation followed by visualizations.  If you are interested, you can contact my Executive Assistant, Casey at casey@brentdarnell.com.  We should have it on the store on brentdarnell.com very soon, but we can find a way to get it to you if you are interested.

You can also check out my book, Stress Management, Time Management, and Life Balance for Tough Guys if you want more information:

http://www.amazon.com/Stress-Management-Time-Balance-Tough/dp/0979925843/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1318936277&sr=8-2

Let me know if you want to learn more about meditation and the various techniques.


What if You Knew You Were Dying?

March 12, 2015

silencio

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” Mark Twain

Guess what?  You ARE dying.  At many of these inspirational events, they ask, “What would you do if you had 30 days to live?  How would you spend it?  What would you do differently?”  I never really took those questions very seriously because the end of my life seemed so far out into the future.  But the truth is that we are all dying.  Some will die more quickly than others.  But we will all end up in the same place.  Worm food.  Take a tape measure and roll it out to 80 inches.  Let that represent your life span.  If you have great genetics, roll it out further.  Now look at where you are now.  30?  40?  50?  60?  In any case, I am always struck by the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of tape left.

If today were the last day of your life, would you do the same thing that you are doing today?  It is something to think about.

A few years ago, four of our very good friends left this earth, all in their fifties.  All of their lives were cut short.  It made us examine what we were doing.  And we found out that we talked and thought about work way too much.  We worried about money too much.  We obsessed over things that really didn’t make that much of a difference in our lives.  We came to the not so profound conclusion that life is too short.  So we decided to do something about it.  We decided to take every Friday off.  We also decides to take at least three weeks of vacation this year.  When you add up the Fridays, that is seven weeks.  Add the vacations and that’s ten weeks that we are taking off.  That’s even more than some Europeans.

Don’t get me wrong.  We are not perfect at it.  We have worked some Fridays.  We have had stretches of financial worries and other trivial worries.  It is a constant struggle.  But we are making the effort.  And perhaps, over time, we will become proficient at it.  With managing your time, it comes down to this:  There are choices and there are consequences.  What choices are you going to make?  How are you going to spend your remaining days?

Steve Jobs’ commencement speech to Stanford discusses death as a motivator.  Look just after 9 minutes and listen as he talks about his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer.   It’s an eye opener.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc&feature=youtu.be

We are all dying.  We are all marching toward death.  What are you  going to choose to see along the way?


What is your purpose?

February 5, 2015

hedeflenen nokta ve başarma ruhu

 

Everything and everyone has a purpose.  I recently saw the movie Hugo on Netflix and highly recommend it.  It is the story of a young orphan who takes care of and repairs machines.  He explains that his purpose is to fix machines.  Because when a machine is broken, and cannot do what it was made to do, it is a very sad situation because the machine no longer fulfills its purpose.  Do you know what your purpose is?  And are you living your purpose?  If not, you may be like those machines that are broken.  You are not fulfilling your purpose.  And that is a very sad thing.  If you don’t know what your purpose is, there are many resources that will help you find out.  One excellent book is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.  Or you can take this time at the beginning of the year and start writing down a few ideas of what your purpose might be.  It’s worth the effort to explore this very profound question. Try writing down 10 things you want, 10 things you need, and 10 things you love.  What do those lists look like?  Does it give you any clarity of purpose?

 


Morning Energy and How It Can Affect Your Whole Day

November 20, 2014

italiansscowl

I was at a CMAA (Construction Owners Association of America) Conference and was eating breakfast when I noticed a group of Italians greeting each other in the morning.  It looked a little like the first photo to the left.  They were full of energy, they were animated, they were smiling, they clapped each other on the back, they kissed cheeks, and they loved every minute of it.  They were loud, laughing and smiling at everything that was said.

Then, I walked downstairs to the CMAA.  It was like a scene from the walking dead.  Almost everyone I passed had, at best, a stone face, and at worst, a morning scowl.  See the second photo.  This is how most contractors and engineers seem to start their day, with a scowling or neutral face.  I’m not sure if that was before or after coffee, but my guess is that coffee makes little difference.  We talk about this much in our programs.  What is your face conveying when you aren’t thinking about anything in particular?  For most engineers and contractors, it’s this neutral or scowling face.  And that’s a shame.  Because when I ask how these folks are doing, they usually say, “Fine!” or “Great!”.  It’s time to let your face know what your heart is feeling.

Back to the Italians.  What a way to start the day.  I wonder if this way of starting the day has a positive effect on the rest of their day?  I’m sure it does.  So think about this next time you hit the ground tomorrow morning.  How are you starting your day?  With low energy and a scowl?  Or with high energy and a smile?   It’s certainly a choice.  What choice are you making?  If you opt for high energy and a smile, I think you will find that they entire day will go much better.