PREPARING FOR SUCCESS IN 2017

The brand new year of 2017 is upon us. How successful you or I will be in it is largely up to us. Much of that is further determined by how open we are to moving in new directions. Moving in new directions means a lot of different things depending on our life circumstances. Here are some suggestions to prepare for success:

  • Be Positive Regardless Of Your Problems. Yes, I realize you do not have to look far to find difficulties, roadblocks, and bad news. Nevertheless, carrying a negative attitude into those challenges never did any good, did it? On the other hand, by attacking every challenge with a positive attitude, you consciously and subconsciously unleash more resources. Those additional resources often make a significant difference in the outcome.
  • If You Are A Business Owner. You might come to realize 2017 demands some new strategies and policies. Will you implement them, and if so, how will you implement them? Thinking those steps through ahead of time can make all the difference in the world. Change is not always easy, but by planning for it and embracing it with a positive attitude you can make it more enjoyable and exciting.
  • If You Are An Employee. Think about how you can add more value to your organization. Might you have some new approaches that will benefit your colleagues and customers? Do you have ideas or insights whose time has come? Look for new ways to enhance collaboration and success for your team.
  • If You Are Unemployed. How might this be an opportunity to reinvent you? Could this be the time you search in some totally different directions for that dream job? Although searching for a new job is a fulltime job, remember to give yourself some downtime. Perhaps now is the perfect time to dive into some of those pie-in-the-sky projects you just never had time for in the past. How might you reorganize your life for better balance going forward?
  • Never Discount Your Experience. You are usually your worst critic. Take a fresh look at all your experience with an eye to capitalizing upon the hidden gold. Surely there are some lessons you have learned from which you can benefit. By taking stock of those lessons now, you can build toward more solid successes in 2017. You can bring a vibrant freshness to your future.
  • Face Your Failures. Sometimes it is easier to hide from your failures. Nevertheless, denial does not mean deletion. Worse yet, denial does you a disservice. Only by fully facing the things you messed up can you learn from them. You should be smarter entering 2017 than you were entering 2016.
  • Be Humble. I never met a person who thought he or she knew it all that learned something new. I enjoy learning new things . . . every single day. However, I cannot do that if I already know it all.
  • Remember Your Resources. You have friends, mentors, and loved ones around you who genuinely care about you. You have a philosophy of life, and religious and spiritual convictions that sustain you. You have hidden opportunities just waiting to be discovered. You have time-tested strengths and abilities. Summon all those terrific resources because they are there to help you.

This year could become the most successful year of your life. Make it so!


FOUR QUESTIONS I ASK MYSELF ABOUT 2016

Very soon, 2016 will be history. Now is a good time to assess how you did. If we never pause to assess our performance, we might forfeit valuable lessons. With that in mind, here are four questions I challenge you—as I challenge myself—to ask concerning 2016:

  • How did you do in your business performance? Reflecting upon all the professional roles you have held, how did you perform? Did you do your job with energy, accuracy, enthusiasm, and insight? By reflecting upon your business performance, you can bask in some well-deserved affirmation of the highlights. You can also reengineer your business approach where some fine tuning might be needed.
  • How did you do in your ethics performance? Did you stand tall and true to your ethics regardless of the cost? By reflecting upon those times when your ethical commitment was put to the test and it stood strong, you can rejoice in your victories. You can also rethink your approach to ethics if you found yourself coming up short for any reason.
  • How did you do in your leadership performance? Did you exercise strategic and sound leadership in every situation that demanded it? By reflecting upon your various leadership situations, you can affirm your leadership where it was tested and found to be solid. You can also identify those situations that may have revealed some leadership deficits and begin seeking ways to improve and refine.
  • How did you do in your personal performance? Did you exhibit maturity, passion, strength, and wisdom as you managed your attitude, money, opportunities, relationships, loved ones, spiritual or religious convictions, physical fitness, emotional and mental fitness, and overall wellness? By reflecting upon your personal performance in these areas, you can take comfort and joy where you know you brought your best self to the table. You can also take a hard look at any of those areas in which you know deep in your heart that improvement is needed.

These four questions are revealing. If you enjoy your answers, I am happy for you! On the other hand, if you are unhappy with the answers to any of these questions, then some thoughtful, soul-searching realignment is needed.

Now for the especially exciting news: you have the power to make the needed changes. Remember—our failures are only meaningless if we do not learn from them. Let us learn from them so we can make 2017 the best year ever!


KEEPING ROBOTS REAL

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Sometimes we can become so excited about the future of artificial intelligence that we forget how much AI cannot do. In spite of how well business processes are streamlined and customer experiences are enhanced (which are good things to be sure), AI is nowhere near ready to replace people in a holistic fashion. Nevertheless, some folks in earnest hope, (and others in grave fear), anticipate a future ruled by robots.

Don’t hold your breath. AI is a single IT approach that adds value in certain circumstances, and where those circumstances exist, let’s use it. Simultaneously, we must remember that AI is a powerful tool, but it is not all-powerful, nor will it be. I like the way that Christopher Mims summarizes the status of AI (“Artificial Intelligence Has a Way to Go” The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2016, pp. B1, B4):

Reflecting on my own brief experience as an invertebrate neuroscientist, I’d say that today’s AI is at the jellyfish stage in the evolution of biological intelligence. Real brains–and genuine intelligence–are so far in the future as to be beyond any reasonable horizon of prediction.” (B4)


THE UNSEEN PROFIT KILLER

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I read recently that experts believe that a depressed worker loses about 6 hours productivity each week. That is a lot of time. No matter how you calculate it, the financial costs are significant. Depressed workers are the hidden profit killer for the company, the employees, and the customers. Everyone loses.

Fortunately, most progressive companies look for ways to enhance employee wellness, including conquering depression. Employee assistance programs, wellness coaches, and additional resources all help employees find help for difficult life challenges. Even among medical insurance plans, the trend is toward covering mental health more adequately than in the past.

Finally, as a professional person, you have an ethical obligation to remain alert to colleagues that may be struggling with depression. Granted, depression isn’t always easy to spot. Nevertheless, you never know when an opportune moment may occur. Perhaps someone opens up to you after a meeting, someone asks for some personal advice, or you just happen to pick up the telltale signs that something is seriously wrong.

In those moments, we must never forget how powerful our influence can be. The life you touch may be the life you save. And that outcome is profitable for everyone.


A COLD FUTURE HOPE

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Organ restorations and transplants are major medical events. Scientists and doctors continue to discover and refine techniques for tissue restoration and organ replacement. Currently, blood veins and valves can be frozen and then later surgically implanted into a patient. Organ transplants occur routinely, but the patient must take antirejection drugs for the organ to remain functional.

Still very much in the science fiction realm, people on the far fringe of this work hope someday to be able to freeze an entire body prior to its fatal-disease-driven death. Once the cure for that disease has been discovered, the idea is to thaw out that frozen person and begin administering a disease treatment plan. Echoing back to the science fiction TV series, Lost In Space, astronauts could be placed into computer programmed “freezing tubes” and simply thawed out and resuscitated after their long intergalactic journey is completed.

The dreamy possibilities of course are as endless as the liquid nitrogen required. Some of the folks that work on this are eternal optimists. One in particular cracked me up. Danila Medvedev is a Russian transhumanist who cofounded the Moscow-based KrioRus, an organization dedicated to some of these fringe causes. Writing in Bloomberg Businessweek, Josh Dean summarizes the technicalities of the process and Medvedev’s attitude toward any perceived difficulties:

The best way to cryopreserve is to replace all the water in the body with a chemical that essentially turns the tissue into glass as it freezes. Vitrification, as the process is known, prevents the damage caused by ice crystals when a body is frozen in its natural state. But vitrification has its own flaw: No one knows how to reverse it. Medvedev describes this as a minor challenge. The important thing, he says, quoting American nanotechnologist Ralph Merkle, is that ‘information is not destroyed’ by freezing. They’ll work it out later.

To whatever degree these endeavors might be workable, it will be interesting and beneficial. In spite of your feelings about human mortality, much of the work in this field is based on established science. Yet that established science does not necessarily render it believable. Nevertheless, Medvedev and his cohorts hope to create new capabilities:

Further down the road is the possibility of short-term clinical freezing, in which a patient is placed into a temporary cryonic state to keep him or her alive while recovering from traumatic injuries, say, or during space travel. The military is looking at the former; NASA has begun some very preliminary studies on the latter.

This is all quite fascinating. However, in the meantime I would endorse maintaining all your personal health and safety protocols—physically, mentally, and spiritually. No one has any guarantee as to when that cold winter might arrive.