Meant To Be

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In other words, the research shows that feedback is more distortion than truth. And because your feedback to others is always more you than them, it leads to systematic error, which is magnified when ratings are considered in aggregate. Unfortunately, we all seem to have left math class remembering the former and not the latter.

Consider color blindness. Our inability to rate others on them is predictable and explainable—it is systematic. We cannot remove the error by adding more data inputs and averaging them out, and doing that actually makes the error bigger. When a feedback instrument surveys eight colleagues about your business acumen, your score of 3.

The only realm in which humans are an unimpeachable source of truth is that of their own feelings and experiences. Doctors have long known this. Instead, she can be confident that you are the best judge of your pain and that all she can know for sure is that you will be feeling better when you rate your pain lower. Your rating is yours, not hers. You may read that workers today—especially Millennials—want to know where they stand. You may occasionally have team members ask you to tell them where they stand, objectively.

We may not be able to tell him where he stands, but we can tell him where he stands with us. Those are our truths, not his. Again, the research points in the opposite direction.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that, neurologically, we grow more in our areas of greater ability our strengths are our development areas. Some parts of it have tight thickets of synaptic connections, while others are far less dense, and these patterns are different from one person to the next. According to brain science, people grow far more neurons and synaptic connections where they already have the most neurons and synaptic connections.

Second, getting attention to our strengths from others catalyzes learning, whereas attention to our weaknesses smothers it. In one experiment scientists split students into two groups. The scientists probed the other group about homework and what the students thought they were doing wrong and needed to fix.

While those conversations were happening, the scientists hooked each student up to a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine to see which parts of the brain were most activated in response to these different sorts of attention. In the brains of the students asked about what they needed to correct, the sympathetic nervous system lit up.

Your brain responds to critical feedback as a threat and narrows its activity. In the students who focused on their dreams and how they might achieve them, the sympathetic nervous system was not activated. What findings such as these show us is, first, that learning happens when we see how we might do something better by adding some new nuance or expansion to our own understanding. We spend the bulk of our working lives pursuing excellence in the belief that while defining it is easy, the really hard part is codifying how we and everyone else on our team should get there.

Excellence is idiosyncratic. Take funniness—the ability to make others laugh. Excellence seems to be inextricably and wonderfully intertwined with whoever demonstrates it. Which means that, for each of us, excellence is easy, in that it is a natural, fluid, and intelligent expression of our best extremes. Excellence is also not the opposite of failure.

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But in virtually all aspects of human endeavor, people assume that it is and that if they study what leads to pathological functioning and do the reverse—or replace what they found missing—they can create optimal functioning. That assumption is flawed. Study disease and you will learn a lot about disease and precious little about health.

Eradicating depression will get you no closer to joy. Divorce is mute on the topic of happy marriage. Exit interviews with employees who leave tell you nothing about why others stay. Excellence has its own pattern. Excellence and failure often have a lot in common.

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So if you study ineffective leaders and observe that they have big egos, and then argue that good leaders should not have big egos, you will lead people astray. Because when you do personality assessments with highly effective leaders, you discover that they have very strong egos as well. Telling someone that you must lose your ego to be a good leader is flawed advice. Likewise, if you study poor salespeople, discover that they take rejection personally, and then tell a budding salesperson to avoid doing the same, your advice will be misguided. Because rigorous studies of the best salespeople reveal that they take rejection deeply personally, too.

As it happens, you find that effective leaders put their egos in the service of others, not themselves, and that effective salespeople take rejection personally because they are personally invested in the sale—but the point is that you will never find these things out by studying ineffective performance. Since excellence is idiosyncratic and cannot be learned by studying failure, we can never help another person succeed by holding her performance up against a prefabricated model of excellence, giving her feedback on where she misses the model, and telling her to plug the gaps.

That approach will only ever get her to adequate performance.

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To get into the excellence business we need some new techniques:. Excellence is an outcome, so take note of when a prospect leans into a sales pitch, a project runs smoothly, or an angry customer suddenly calms down. Yes, that! While the other teams were reviewing missed tackles and dropped balls, Landry instead combed through footage of previous games and created for each player a highlight reel of when he had done something easily, naturally, and effectively.

Landry reasoned that while the number of wrong ways to do something was infinite, the number of right ways, for any particular player, was not. It was knowable, and the best way to discover it was to look at plays where that person had done it excellently.

The Feedback Fallacy

Now on one level he was doing this to make his team members feel better about themselves because he knew the power of praise. His instincts told him that each person would improve his performance most if he could see, in slow motion, what his own personal version of excellence looked like. You can do the same. Whenever you see one of your people do something that worked for you, that rocked your world just a little, stop for a minute and highlight it. That is learning. Instead, learn how to replay to them your own personal reactions. Instead, describe what you experienced when her moment of excellence caught your attention.

If you want to get into the excellence business, here are some examples of language to try. What did you see that seemed to work well?

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

I could only think that for nine days we were all going to do our best to make a difference in the lives of the folks of Kingston, Jamaica. Before we knew it, it was time to depart. We arrived in Kingston, Jamaica to our larger than life host Bro. Bernie was all smiles and full of energy as we traveled the bumpy road to Holy Rosary Parish, and we were grateful to have made the trip safely. There were cars hurrying about their way, children and adults walking around.

After eating a meal that was prepared for us with lots of love, the evening was filled with great gospel music as the annual Holy Rosary fundraiser took place. Deacon Arthur Taylor, his guitarist and drummer were the opening performers for the evening, which concluded with Feluke as the main entertainer. Fleuke has a voice like an angel. He is a tall, slim man with dreads that were down his back. Songs like Israel and Show Me the Way were perfect for the setting. His gospel songs were inspirational and uplifting. Bernie popcorn machine.

I understand that Bro. Bernie is famous for his popcorn, and sometimes it serves as his dinner! Holy Rosary Parish is a beautiful place of worship filled with bright yellow and blue colors on the walls and ceiling. The ceilings are high, fans mounted on the walls because there is no air conditioning, and the iron shutters on all of the windows are open to allow what little breeze there may be into the church. The most beautiful white marble floor helps to support the sacred Altar. The space is so peaceful for prayer and worship. We passed lots of areas alongside the road that were considered homes for folks.

There were several sofas next to each other, a table that looked like it would tumble over any moment, one chair, and a blue tarp over the entire setup, with two toddlers a boy and girl approximately 3 or 4 years old and an older man sitting in the chair. The toddlers were playing in their pajamas on the sofa, as if there was absolutely nothing wrong with the situation. They appeared to be happy just being children.

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