The Thought Of Christmas

In the eve of Christmas, in view of the current economical turmoil that is shaking the world,

I am wondering in what direction we should be looking and working in order to ride this wave and come out of it stronger maybe even a little bit more prepared for the next wave that could hit us.

And then I realized that there is not much we can do about what is outside of our circle of influence. Are we victim of the sub primes scandals, of the giddiness of the banking system in the US? Our economy is in some sorts. Not that the means are not there, just that they are now well protected and shy to come out… So what should we do? Are we to be limiting our actions and reactions to commenting the latest article on the Herald tribune or the latest analysis of the recently appointed American Presidential Economical Advisor, who says to the world ( 3 days before Christmas) that the situation is going to get much worse before it gets any better…

I have a tendency to expect from those people to give us some kind of solution…. Not more food for our now embedded morosity.

My daughter recently sent me a couple of interesting definitions:

What is a Banker: Someone who is willing to lend you money if you can prove to him that you do not need it, a honorable man who will gladly lend you an umbrella when the weather is beautiful and will reclaim as soon as it starts to rain.

What is an Economist: An expert who will know tomorrow why what he predicted yesterday did not happen today.

In view of this I decided to take a proactive attitude in whatever I can influence. In my workshops, I often emphasize on the idea that we should invest the energy we are using on focusing on unproductive tasks or thoughts on the areas that we can actually influence and do something about.

Steven Covey has to that effect created an amazing tool With the Circles of Influence and Circle of Concern, which I nut-shelled as such:

Proactive Focus – Positive energy, enlarging your Circle of Influence, YOU control IT

Reactive Focus – Negative Energy, Reduces your Circle of Influence, IT controls YOU

If you are like me, not whishing to be labeled, or even associated to the second scenario, their is one thing that you can do to start to change things for yourself. Actually, there are much more then one…. But I only have so many words allocated to me in this December Issue of Emotional Intelligence Tips…. So I’ll give you a few pointers…. Check out the activities posted in “Small Steps To Being Emotionally Intelligent”

Dr. JP Bonnifay
CEO & Lead Consultant
HPI Sdn. Bhd.

Small Steps To Being Emotionally Intelligent

Please consider this as my very personal Christmas Gift to you. You do not have to do all that I recommend in the list, but those you do, do them in a committed conscious way, with a purpose. I welcome all your feed backs and comments and also encourage you to share your experiences and the outcomes of those activities.

As a first Item, I would request right down your decisions as a commitment to yourselves. Call it your New Year resolution if it pleases you.

Dr. JP Bonnifay
CEO & Lead Consultant
HPI Sdn. Bhd.

So many times we see in our year end resolutions the same “I’ll start Monday” promises. Today, I want it to be different. Today I would like for us together to work at one of the elements that will in time become an invaluable commodity; that is your Emotional Intelligence. Unfortunately, there are no quick fix to become Emotionally Intelligence, however, we need to decide to start. And today might be just the right timing. As it is, when  our Global Environment will look better, you will need to have that edge that will make you more attractive, more likeable, and eventually more valuable….

So turn your PDA on, go to 31 December on your agenda and list down the following list.

BZW, DO IT!!!!! Write it down….. If you don’t write it, you don’t own it!

Write your own personal season greetings cards

The task: Delete all those e-card provider websites you preciously keep in your keychains, list down all the people

You wish to send  Season Greeting Cards to ( don’t forget to source their addresses). Do 3 separate lists: Friends, Family, Work / Other. Tally the number of peole on your list, then, either design  a card and print it, or buy the cards, envelops, stamps. Write down BY HAND ( Not by computer generated stickers) and then feed every card in an envelop, after having personalized and signed each card. You do not include your signature in the printing of the card!

The reason: Think about the last time you received a post-card or a greeting card. Did that not make you feel good? Did you value the fact that the card is addressed to you personally and is hand signed with eventually a personal word?

Do you anytime see on the fridge door or on the partition of a cubical the print out of an 2-card?

Make the effort. Chances are you will actually write less, but the result is going to be so much more! Predominantly because you have implemented one of the fundamentals of EI: Manage Relationships. I personal card will give you a great amount of mileage where as en e-card will make you be part of the pack, no differenciation, no attractivity.

Catch some ZZZZZZ….

The task: Get a good night’s sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark, learn some deep relaxation techniques, and avoid alcohol and caffeine after noon.

The reason: Scientists believe that our brains consolidate learning and memories during sleep. Studies have shown that people who don’t sleep enough have more trouble learning new information — while sleeping well after learning something new helps the brain effectively put that information into long-term memory.

Choose the rocky road

The task: Take a walk on a cobblestone path. 

The reason: Scientists believe that walking on uneven surfaces like cobblestones improves the vestibular system of the inner ear, which plays a central role in balance and equilibrium. Cobblestone walking challenges the vestibular system in ways that improve its function, which translates into better balance — the key to preventing serious injuries. Don’t hesitate to transpose this activity into your every day life. Don’t not opt systematically for the easy path. Challenge yourself.

Do a jigsaw puzzle

The task: Put together a jigsaw puzzle that will be challenging for you — no fewer than 500 pieces.

The reason: Mundane as they may seem, jigsaw puzzles can provide real help for your brain. Completing one requires fine visual judgments about where pieces belong. It entails mentally “rotating” the pieces, manipulating them in your hands and shifting your attention from the small piece to the “big picture.” To top it off, it’s rewarding to find the right pieces.

Exercise your peripheral vision

The task: Sit in a place outside your house, such as on a park bench or in a café. Stare straight ahead and don’t

move your eyes. Concentrate on everything you can see without moving your eyes, including in your peripheral vision. When you have finished, write a list of everything you saw. Then try again and see if you can add to your list.

The reason: Scientists have shown that the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is crucial to focus and memory, falls off with memory loss and is almost absent in Alzheimer’s patients. This activity should help you reinvigorate the controlled release of acetylcholine in your brain through a useful visual memory task.

Learn to play a new instrument

The task: If you’ve ever thought about learning to play an instrument or take up an old one, now is a great time!

The reason: Playing an instrument helps you exercise many interrelated dimensions of brain function, including listening, control of refined movements and translation of written notes (sight) to music (movement and sound).

Get exercise

The task: Brain health is another reason to get on your bicycle, to the swimming pool or to wherever else you like to exercise your body.

The reason: New research indicates that exercise has positive benefits for the hippocampus, a brain structure that’s important for learning and memory. Some studies even suggest that regular exercise is related to a delay in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn to use your “other” hand

The task: If you’re right-handed, use your left hand for daily activities (or vice versa). Start with brushing your teeth left-handed, and practice until you have perfected it. Then try to build your way up to more complex tasks such as eating.

The reason: This is an exercise in which you know what you’re supposed to achieve but must do it in a new and demanding learning context. Doing such an activity can drive your brain to make positive changes. Think of millions of neurons learning new tricks as you finally establish better control of that other hand!

Memorize a song

The task: Choose a song with lyrics you enjoy but don’t have memorized. Listen to the song as many times as necessary to write down all the lyrics. Then learn to sing along. Once you’ve mastered one song, move on to another!

The reason: Developing better habits of careful listening will help you in your understanding, thinking and remembering. Reconstructing the song requires close attentional focus and an active memory. When you focus, you release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a brain chemical that enables plasticity and vivifies memory.

Turn down your television

The task: Set your TV volume down a little from where you normally have it set. Concentrate and see if you can follow along just as successfully as when the volume was higher. As soon as that setting gets easy, turn it down another notch!

The reason: Think of this: You can’t get rid of radio static by turning up the volume. Many people raise the volume because their listening has become ‘detuned’ — a little fuzzy. Matching TV volume to a conversational level can help you catch every word when talking with others.

With this, I would like to address you all my very warmest wishes for the year 2009, wishing full hartedly it will bring you closer to Emotional Intelligence.

Take It One Step At A Time

As a first step into doing things differently, I would like to share with you a few thoughts, maybe a few resolutions to take on a new year’s eve.

I’d like though to make this as simple and easy to use as possible. I have started so many books, without finishing them, that at one point I am wondering if there is an end to any books…. It cannot be that I am the only one to do that. Doesn’t that happen to you: you pick up a book that sticks to your fingers as long as you are discovering the plot, the players, the environment, the setting… Then half way through the book, you already start to see the direction it is taking, and very fast, the novelty is over, the pages turn almost automatically without bringing you any new information… and all of a sudden you realize you are reading and cannot remember what you are reading about. Your mind is already elsewhere.

So when I decided to share those short notes, I decided to make it a lazy exercise: a sum of ideas, expressed by a couple of pages each. There is no sequence, no order, no correlation between chapters.

You just pick the book up when you wish and read whatever you want, for however you want. It’s reading on the tap. You decide to open or close the tap.

Why this book? Well I think it is time for me to share a bit of my experience in terms of cultural diversity and personal management.

All my life I have lived away from my home country, and I have my parents to thank for that. I have never been a preferment student, again always looking for shortcuts. What I did have was the taste for people, and a permanent thirst for movement. So very naturally I follow the momentum my parents give me by expatriating myself, and having to get adapted to foreign environments.

In this book, I will share with you a few pointers, which if you decide to implement them will probably help you to overcome some of your inner fears. I recently read one other author calling them your invisible fences.

1) Look around, be curious?

Far to often, we spend our time, with the nose in the handle bar, not realizing that there is a whole world revolving around us.

As I spend most of my time traveling, I spend a great deal of time in the airport and on the plane.
As much as I don’t like to be disturbed when I am sitting in my seat on the plane, I do spend a lot of time observing others. Looking at life around you will bring you a wide speck of behaviors and might enable you to either discover and reinforce ethnic common behaviors or identify some individual attitudes that make some people outstand others.

I find that in my travels, I regularly meet the same kind of people. You have you typical stereotypes.

Those, chances are, you can actually avoid observing them, they will not surprise you. But then there are some characters that will totally surprise you and you might in a security waiting line, or a check in, or as you are sitting on the plane, get lucky and make that one encounter that will validate all the time you have spent observing and analyzing people in your own way.

You are also allowed to engage people. My recommendation, make people smile. If you try to engage them on a serious note, chances are, either you will end up with a slap across your face, if she is very pretty, which tends to put a little damper on your confidence, or they will look at you like if you had 2 heads, and will run away from your.

Instead, my recommendation, and it works all the time (almost): make them smile, or even better, make them laugh.

This has quite a number of advantages. The first one is obviously to start to create a relationship on a positive note. For you, it’s a great training ground to interact with strangers and fight your fears. And at last, you never know…. You might get lucky!

At any rate, it is always easier to spend time having a good time with others, then just being bored in your corner, all alone.

I would relate this to my sales career. Even to the date, whenever I visit a client, or a prospect in an office building, I make it a rule to check out all the other companies in the building. It is quite easy as you usually always have a board at the entrance, listing all the companies floor by floor. By doing this, you not only get familiar with the environment, but you can also discover new companies to visit r rediscover people you know and had lost sight of.

Bizarrely enough, it is said that people who are short sighted tend to be more curious because they spend their life forcing their eyes to see always more… I don’t know if that is true, but one thing is for sure, I always go through life noticing a lot of details. And that has served me in many occasions.

Keep in mind that curiosity is one of the manifestations of listening. It’s a little bit like paying forward, Curiosity is like listening before…. It gives you a step ahead on situations.

2) When in the elevator, face the crowd, make their day.

3) Learn one new thing every day

4) Wake up early

5) Make Their day

6) Look good

7) Give a hug

8) Greet “genuinely” your colleagues

9) Write post cards

10) Please yourself

11) Please someone else

12) Write your book

13) Plant a tree

14) Choose your favorite music

15) Choose your attitude

16) Play

17) Start your day on a high note

18) Surprise them

19) Live every day as if it was the last one

20) Conquer your greatest fear

21) Make a resolution

22) Write your lines

23) Take an hour off

24) Go to a movie

25) Give yourself a daily pat on the back

26) Challenge your Conventional

27) If you Cannot state it clearly, then it is not clear in your mind

28) What goes without saying, goes better by saying it

29) Reinvent yourself

30) Don’t let the idiot at the door keep you from getting into the wonderful house

31) Take a trip

32) Empty your table

33) Be aware in the present moment

34) Turn off the noise in your brain

35) Learn a new language, one word at a time

36) Don’t care about the outcome

37) Have a fantasy, but realize your SMART dream

38) Use positive energy to enlarge your circle of influence

39) Work out daily

40) Develop your personal foundations

41) Practice your smile

42) Listen, listen, listen

43) Make yourself attractive

44) Don’t give anything for free

45) Despise the free lunch

46) Take the first step

Dr. JP Bonnifay
CEO & Lead Consultant
HPI Sdn. Bhd.