Why Most of Your Projects Suck and How to Un-Suck Them

July 26, 2017

Tracey Kidder said, “Building is the quintessential act of civilization.”  Think about it.  If three people washed up on a deserted island, the first thing they would do is collaboratively build a shelter.  Unless, of course, the three people were an architect, owner’s rep, and contractor.  Then, they would have to wait for two lawyers to wash up on the beach so that they could proceed with the project.

There is a project that I read about recently where the parties involved hate each other. I don’t say that lightly.  You can tell from their comments that they truly loathe and despise each other.  Here is a link to the ENR article titled  A Hospital Job Dispute Reaches Fever Pitch:

http://enr.construction.com/business_management/project_delivery/2015/0918-A-Hospital-Job-Dispute-Reaches-Fever-Pitch.asp

How did this project get to this point?  Could the parties involved have seen this coming?  How did they begin the project, and more importantly, what can you do on your projects to avoid such a fate? There is a link to a white paper and other resources at the end of this blog, but here is a recap:

Step 1: Get as many people involved in the process as soon as possible from owners to facilities folks to end users designers to contractors to trade partners to materials vendors. Get them in a big room.  Build a sense of team and trust and collaboration.  Note:  This cannot be done in a day.  One day “partnering” sessions are a waste of everyone’s time and energy. Lean, IPD, ILPD Design-Build, and other collaborative project delivery methods are perfect for having a framework to achieve this.  Forget IPD-ish.  Just do it!

Step 2:  Make this focus on team, relationships and trust ongoing.  Every meeting should start with the team stuff.  Bring folks in to reinforce team and collaboration and communication and trust throughout the entire project from inception to demolition.

Step 3:  Give everyone tools in order for them to achieve their peak level of mental, physical, and emotional performance.  Think about it.  We throw people in a big pot that has high stakes and crushing stress without any tools and expect them to perform like a well-oiled machine. This is ludicrous.  And they don’t get enough sleep, eat crappy food, and have really poor health habits during a demanding project.  As part of your ongoing team building, have discussions about stress and nutrition and sleep and other things that will inhibit performance.  Give them the tools they need to succeed.  It also creates a sense of connection and team because everyone is looking out for each other and their well-being.

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.  

And 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.


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.


All of Your Emotional Intelligence Questions Answered!

April 9, 2015

People ask me all of the time about emotional intelligence and its relevance to them and their businesses.  This recent podcast answers tons of those questions.

First, I’ll answer what emotional intelligence is NOT:

It’s NOT:

touchy-feely, psychobabble, mumbo-jumbo, theory, being nice to people, group hugs, or singing kumbaya!

It is:

discerning and managing your emotions and managing the emotions of others for the best outcome for yourself and that situation.  It’s vital for your health and well-being and your success in life and work.  It’s based in neuroscience and physics.  It’s about energy and the way your brain works.

Here is the link to the podcast for more:

http://remontech.com/50

If you have any other questions, just ask!


Things My Dog Taught Me: Let Go of Your Fears

May 22, 2014

Ginger 09

 

Our dog, Ginger, was afraid of two things:  Thunder and a beeping smoke detector.  But other than those two things, she was utterly fearless.  She was aggressive and hard charging.  She would go after dogs much bigger and tougher than she was.  When she was dying and needed a lot of help, she still maintained that “in your face” fearlessness that she had.  I noticed that toward the end of her life, when the thunder bellowed, she was less afraid.  I think she was teaching me something.  You don’t have to wait until the end of your life to let go of these fears.  Many of these fears are old ones, from childhood, from past hurts, from past painful experiences.

My theory is that we create what we fear because we put our focus and energy on those things that frighten us.  One example:  one of my relatives is fearful about money, always worrying if they have enough.  A scam artist took my relative for money, luring them in by telling them that they had found a bunch of money and that they wanted to split it.  That fear of lack caused my relative to be sucked into this transaction and there was less money in the bank afterward.

Are there things that you fear?  What is the source of those fears?  Is it old stuff?  Make a list of those things that you fear.  Maybe you worry about money, death, relationships, being alone, abandonment, success, or illness.  Write these fears down on a piece of paper.  Explore the source of these fears and then let them go.  They have no place in your life.  Burn these pieces of paper to symbolically get rid of these fears and let them go.  Sometimes this ritual works the first time, but it may take some repetition or maybe even some counseling or discussions with people you trust.  But you can let go of your fears.  And your life will be better.

 


Emotional Intelligence: The Most Common Misconception for Contractors and Engineers

April 11, 2014

emotional-intelligence

I teach emotional intelligence to technical people, mostly contractors and engineers.  And the most common misconception is the basic definition of emotional intelligence.  Most folks in construction think that it is about being nice.  Superintendents are afraid that I am trying to turn them into wimps.  They argue that they NEED to be really tough and a bit of  jerk to actually get anything done.  The following link illustrates this misconception:

Construction workers on Emotional Intelligence

As funny as this video is, this misconception about emotional intelligence simply isn’t true.  Emotional intelligence is about identifying and managing emotions in yourself and others for the best outcomes.  This recognition and management of emotions is vital to your own personal health and well-being.  It helps to manage stress.  It is also vital for effective management of people.  The two basic things we learn right off the bat is that emotions are contagious and emotions create energy and can affect outcomes.

Bear Bryant, the University of Alabama football coach put it this way:  “Some kids need a kick in the pants.  Some kids need a pat on the back.  Sometimes the same kid needs both.  I know which thing to do to which kid at which time.”  That’s a great definition of emotional intelligence. So don’t dismiss it because of the name.  This is powerful stuff that changes people’s lives and company cultures.  I see it happen every day.

So don’t be held back by the term “emotional intelligence”.  Dig into it a bit and see for yourself.  The reason it isn’t going away is that every single day neuroscience is verifying what we intuitively know to be true.  So emotional intelligence isn’t touchy-feely; it isn’t about singing Kumbaya or group hugs.  It’s neuroscience and physics.  It’s about energy and how your brain works.  If you are still skeptical, here is a great video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoUm2-wUt2I

 


How to Live a Longer, Healthier Life

March 27, 2014

old person healthyJust read a great book called The Blue Zones.  The book is about lessons from people who have lived long lives.  Here are the basics:

Move naturally:  Bring movement into your life. This doesn’t have to be iron man triathlons or marathons.  I’m talking about walking.  Make it a point to move every single day.  Check out this video called 23-1/2 hours:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F5Sly9JQao

Know your purpose:  I recently talked to a woman at my mom’s assisted living place who was 102 years old.  She was still extremely sharp.  When I asked her the secret to such a long, healthy life, she said she always had a purpose.  She devoted herself to teaching and education.

Kick back:  You must learn to relax.  Recent studies on meditation revealed that this act of initiating the relaxation response actually changes the expression of your genes and increases the length of your gene’s telomeres. What this means is the even if you have a genetic predisposition to diseases like cancer or diabetes, you can change the expression of those genes and prevent that disease.  And it all starts with relaxation.

Eat less: Most folks eat around 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day.  These folks who live a long time eat around 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day.  Just be mindful of watch you eat.  I’m on weight watchers now and it forces me to rethink what I eat.  I’ve almost cut out snacking because it just costs me too much.

Eat less meat:  I was a vegetarian for a dozen years.  Although I’m back to eating meat, I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.  And with weight watchers, all fruits and vegetables are zero points!

Drink in moderation:  There are studies showing that alcohol in moderation is good for you.  The key word here is moderation.  Excessive drinking is harmful.

Have faith:  Belief in a higher power is a big key to emotional resilience and reduction of stress.  When you decide that you are just along for the ride, you can enjoy life more.

Power of love:  Love is essential for your emotional, physical, and mental well-being.  It’s no accident that married people live longer.  Cultivate love in your life.  Forgive those loved ones that may have wronged you in some way and re-establish that love relationship.

Stay social:  Many studies back this up.  People with good social networks live longer, healthier lives.  Creating and cultivating those networks takes a lot of time and energy, but it is well worth it.  Don’t wait until you retire to establish these networks.

So there you have it.  Very simple (but sometimes not easy) ways to increase your lifespan and health.