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Archive for May, 2009

Key Question for June — How Do YOU Know You Are Physically Fit?

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Okay, it’s summertime–for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere anyway.  Summer is when most of us get more active with our leisure pursuits.  Boating, hiking, camping, or just walking the dog more often.  So let’s use this month to play with the idea of physical fitness–the idea of  “being in shape.”  How do you know when you’re in top form physically?

There are a lot of ways to assess this.  One friend decided he needed to get to the gym when he couldn’t carry two garbage cans to the curb slung behind his shoulders anymore.  Some of us use the way our jeans fit to get past the couch potato lifestyle that has become a bit too familiar.  Some of us are more scientific, tracking heart rate, body mass index or other measurable indicators.

What’s your strategy?   Give us your comments on this month’s question:

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE PHYSICALLY FIT?

Are You Throwing Away Valuable Experience?

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

By Mary Lloyd, CEO, Mining Silver

Getting the most out of what you have is definitely in vogue right now.When it comes to how you use your employees to get the work done, it should be on the top of the list all year every year.There’s more to effective use of human resources than just making sure everybody is working on something.If you pay attention to who can do what best, you can mentor, model, and cross pollinate at the same time you are making sure the work gets done.

This is particularly true in terms of the people who’ve been around for a while.As you get used to what people can do, it’s easy to take it for granted and have them keep doing that same thing all by themselves.For years.For decades.

Four bad things can happen when you use that approach:

  • New hires who need to learn how to do the job miss the chance to model that effective performance.
  • You miss the rest of what that employee is good at because you kept them doing something you already know they were good at.
  • Tough job challenges become tougher because you are not applying the most thoroughly seasoned experience in your toolkit to the problem.
  • The experienced employee begins to feel “taken for granted” and isn’t motivated to perform at a peak level.Even worse, he or she may elect to leave for to find a more exciting opportunity.

Assigning everyone work exactly the same way is kind of like using a power saw without turning it on.It works a lot better if you see all of what they can do in the role as you assign work.If you have experienced employees and are not using them at least informally as coaches, mentors, and problem solving resources for workers with less experience, you’re literally wasting company payroll dollars.

And do more if you can.Consider redesigning the work so that you can get your experienced workers involved in addressing the tougher challenges more of the time.Get their input on new programs.A lot of what fails has failed before and could have succeeded with a more complete team.In some instances, it will be simple project involvement.But in others, actual job design changes might be warranted.Use that knowledge base and experience as fully as you can.

In a similar vein, it’s easy to assume that older workers are just waiting to retire and don’t want new challenges.And that they will want nothing to do with the company once they can start living “the Golden Years.”Over 70% of the 3000 baby boomers surveyed in 2005 (BEFORE the economic meltdown we are now facing) wanted to be able to work as part of their retirement.But the vast majority favored “cycling in and out of work.”Can you design some of the work that way?You might get it done more effectively if you do.

It may involve getting a retired professional involved on a project from time to time.It may mean enlisting experienced customer service retirees to sign on just for the peak season.It may mean letting an employee who’s a proven self-starter handle a specialized set of responsibilities from the road.I know a guy in Arizona who dispatches trucks for an outfit in Minnesota—from his extra bedroom.

You’ve spent a lot getting these people to the level of experience they currently claim.Just watching them walk out the door is nonsense.Letting them languish in less than challenging tasks when you have problems to solve is equally unenlightened.Explore what might work for them AND the Company.Think hard about just what—of the work they do now–HAS to be shaped they way it currently is.Make the effort to see if you can keep these people doing what they are good at in ways that both get the work done timely and prepare the next generation of workers in those slots as effectively as you can.

We need to change the prevailing yet disastrous assumption that older workers can’t work very well and aren’t interested in excelling.It’s a big fat lie.  But there is truth to the notion that  people perform to level expected of them.When you assume older workers are inept, disinterested and disengaged, they will comply with that expectation.  And you will lose big time in how well you can get the work done.

Author Event — June 20 Noon, Borders, Tacoma

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Mary Lloyd will discuss the ideas in her new book Supercharged Retirement:  Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love and sign copies at:

Borders Books

2508 38th Street

Tacoma, WA

Saturday, June 20, 2009, 12:00 NOON

For more information, contact Borders 253-473-9111 or Mary Lloyd at mary@mining-silver.com.

Top 10 Reasons to Ditch Ageist Thinking

Monday, May 18th, 2009

By Mary Lloyd, CEO, Mining Silver

As a culture, we are doing an amazingly stupid thing.So with a nod of appreciation to David Letterman here are the Top 10 Reasons to Stop Thinking “Old” is a Problem.His “top ten” lists go from the last to the first so here, in ascending order, are ten reasons to ditch the idea that advancing age means inevitable decline.

10.IT’S NOT FAIR TO ASSUME PEOPLE WHO ARE “OLD” ARE WORN OUT AND USELESS.Or, to put it more bluntly, it’s not legal—at least if you live a developed country.Inthe United States, denying someone over 40 fair treatment on “any aspect of employment” because of the year he was born might put you on the losing side of a federal lawsuit that involves both compensatory AND punitive damages.

9.AGE = DECLINE IS A LIE.There are no scientific studies that confirm people automatically lose their ability to think and learn as they age.Studies reporting such findings were done on compromised groups who do not represent the general population of this age range.

8.ASSUMING OLDER WORKERS NEED TO “GET OUT OF THE WAY” SO THAT YOUNGER WORKERS CAN HAVE THOSE JOBS IS SHORT-SIGHTED.Isn’t that a bit like expecting Dad to throw the checkers game when you were 10?Asking competent people to step aside so someone else who can’t do the job as well can step up is like throwing away the candy and eating the wrapper.

7.WE NEED THESE WORKERS.Yes, we are currently dealing with the mother of all recessions, but when it ends, this need will be glaring.There are 78 million baby boomers.Gen X, which follows them, only has 40 million.We are going to need some of those 78 million to stick around longer than “average retirement age” to get the same work done, even with the 70 million Gen Y’ers moving into the workforce.

6.WE NEED OLDER WORKERS’ EXPERIENCE.To compete in a global economy, developed nations need to do more than put bodies at machines.We need people with well-developed problem solving skills.Book knowledge helps, but practical knowledge trumps it.Employees who have “been there and done that” knowhow to avoid the pitfalls and get the job done right—the first time.

5.WE NEED THEIR WISDOM.Come on, folks. There is no way the wunderkind grad from the most prestigious tech mecca is going to get the people parts and contextual stuff right from the get-go.We need both tech savvy and experienced leadership, leading-edge conceptualizing and seasoned veteran decision-making prowess to get this right.When we choose only “new,” we have nothing to anchor it to.

4.THINKING OLD PEOPLE ARE INEPT IS SOOOONINETEENTH CENTURY.Yes.Nineteenth century.This nonsense of refusing to marry innovation WITH wisdom began in the 1790’s.Employers from then until the 1950’s used the philosophy as justification for requiring workers to retire at a specific age.Brawn was more of an issue then.Thinking that way was wrongheaded in the Industrial Age.But now we’re in the Information Age, where KNOWLEDGE is critical. It’s corporate suicide.In a knowledge-intensive economy, it makes zero sense to send 40 years’ worth of it out the door so you can bring in someone with none.

3.THEY CAN LEAD THE WAY TO WHAT WE ALL WANT. When people old enough to retire choose not to, they pursue work arrangements the rest of us would love to have as well.Let them craft the new shapes for work that would give us all much needed flexibility so we can live the rest of our lives and work, too.

2.AGEIST THINKING IS EXPENSIVE.We want to pretend that if we don’t see them, those millions of older people we’ve marginalized aren’t there.But they ARE there…tapping the healthcare system far more than they would be with meaningful challenges in their lives, collecting Social Security,and relying on society and the government for things they could be doing for themselves given the chance and the encouragement.

1.WE ARE ALL GOING THERE.The weirdest thing about this form of discrimination is that we are all going to live it—short of dying young.But we think of OTHER people getting old and are blind to what we’re setting up for ourselves.Life expectancy right now is about 80.As knowledge workers, we are very likely to beat that.Do we really want to be invisible and irrelevant for twenty or more years of our lives just because some preacher back in 1790 decided youth and progress was better than age and wisdom?

It’s time to git rid of ageism.  It’s wrong, costs money, and sets us all up for a hard time when we get that far.

Catch my guest post

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Steve Juetten includes retirement issues in his personal finance blog and was kind enough to ask me to do a guest post about the non-financial aspects of retirement planning.   Check out his column. And read my post!

The Wisdom of Seeking Wisdom

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

by Mary Lloyd, CEO, Mining Silver

This article appears in the May 2009 issue of Barbara Morris’s online newsletter, Put Old on Hold.

One of the many sad consequences of our preoccupation with youth is that we don’t pay much attention to wisdom.That’s like worrying about what color to paint the garage and ignoring the Ferrari that’s housed inside.

Wisdom, per Merriam Webster’s is “accumulated philosophic or scientific learning: KNOWLEDGE” or “ability to discern inner qualities and relationships:INSIGHT” or “good sense: JUDGMENT.”Roll it all together and you get “a wise attitude, belief, or course of action.”Wisdom is a key to living well.But aspiring to it is not typically on our lists of New Year’s resolutions or personal goal statements.

That’s probably because to acquire it, you have to accept you’re getting older.

First, let’s face one unavoidable fact.Every single day of our lives, we “get older.”It’s the normal course of events.The only alternative is to die—and I’m not voting for that option.So if we’re going to get older anyway, why not do it gracefully?Why not do it in a way that makes the reality more compelling?Why not work on becoming wise?

Going back to the definition I started with, there are three pieces to this—and then the decision to live that way (which is the attitude part).

Knowledge

Jokes about hiring a teenager because they know it all have been around forever.And we’ve all met precocious ten-year-olds who could go on for an hour on a topic they found interesting.But the knowledge that serves as a basis for wisdom has to be more comprehensive than the knowledge of youth.Becoming wise requires an accurate picture of the real world.And that means you need to have lived there a while.And paid attention.

Too often, we live in the realm of what we assume to be true instead confirming what is.Buying a car—or house—that you can’t afford is an example of that.But so is staying in a dead-end job because you’re telling yourself you’re not good enough for anything better.Not believing in ourselves is the stingiest approach of all to life.But it takes wisdom to see that–and to stop doing it.

Gaining knowledge hinges on paying attention to what’s going on around you.People who have learned “what came next” again and again are more serene about life situations.A wise person knows the bad times will end and can work patiently toward that day.She also savors the good times because they, too, are temporary.What we learn of the ebb and flow of life—by living it consciously—gives us a more solid foundation.

Insight

Knowing about life is important, but you need to find the patterns in it, too–even when they’re hidden in the shadows.Insight is combining information from the disparate sources you’ve observed and drawing astute conclusions about what’s going on.

One of my dearest family members reacts intensely to overwork.Until I understood that pattern, I found myself in the middle of emotional upheavals that left me baffled and hurt.Without a conscious assessment of previous episodes and an effort to extract what was common to them, I believed—as she was prone to insisting in those moments—that I was inadequate as a person and a loved one.Now, I just find the quickest route to the sidelines.Getting out of the way for a bit is a much better solution for both of us.This is wisdom.It’s practical.It’s loving.And it’s not going to show up unless you’re getting older.You have to watch things for a while to see patterns.

Judgment

Judgment is not about deciding you’re better than someone else.The judgment that comes with wisdom is about choosing an effective course of action.

Sometimes, it’s obvious. If the house is on fire, you get out and call 911.But if you’ve been worrying for weeks about whether to go on vacation in June or August, maybe you need to let go of it of it for a while.Wise judgment is knowing when NOT to decide sometimes. Ever spend months feeling awful that you weren’t getting to something that “had” to be done only to discover it didn’t need to be done at all?

Wisdom includes intuition when employing judgment.Knowledge and insight are essential, but so is “gut feel” if you want to really get it right.As we get older, we become more willing to hear—and honor—that “little voice.”We make wiser choices as a result.

Wise as an attitude

We don’t become wise instantaneously.Wisdom comes in small increments.But to get all the way to unflappable, ongoing serenity, we need to decide we want to become wiser now.Becoming wise is the best way to grow older.Every day.

*******

Mary Lloyd is author of Supercharged Retirement:Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love. She offers seminars on creating a meaningful retirement and consults to businesses on how to use older talent well.She is available as a speaker.For more on how to get the best out of this stage of life go to =>http://www.mining-silver.com.

Key Question for May

Friday, May 1st, 2009

by Mary Lloyd, CEO Mining Silver

It’s May already.  Time for a new key question.  This month, please give us your comments on this :

Who do you want more time with?

The fantasies most of us hold about retirement include a healthy dose of  “more time with___.”  Who are those people?  What do you want to be able to do with them?  And why can’t you do it NOW?

Tell us what you think!  Thanks.