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On Hurricanes & The Art of Communication

Whenever a hurricane approaches us here in Miami, the local stations start broadcasting severe weather reports days in advance. The newscasts always involve the relentless display of various tracking models that plot the path and anticipated strength of an approaching storm; and they help us know what’s coming and when to start preparing.

The two graphics we see plastered on our TV screens most often are the “forecast tracks” and the “eye cone”. It got me to thinking today – it’s too bad we don’t have access to these kind of models when it comes to what we say everyday. Wouldn’t it be helpful if we could pre-determine the exact impact of our words and know precisely where (in someone’s head and/or heart) they’ll make landfall (uh…person-fall)?

Here are three quick tips to consider so that your messages – at work and at home – don’t get swirled around in a storm of confusion and potential gale force destruction…

  1. Use your barometer. Measure your level of pressure and gauge your attitude before saying things (fly reconnaissance planes in there if you have to).
  2. Rate your message. Know (and appropriately categorize) the urgency and importance of what you have to say ahead of time (a Category 1 message’s content and delivery should be easily distinguishable from a Category 3 or 5).
  3. Plot the course. Identify who your message is for and, as best you can, forecast the anticipated reactions/responses from all recipients (consider the “eye cone” and remember there is a wide swath of possible outcomes).

Be safe out there.

Time As A Means to Happiness

Forget Suze Orman. Time, not money, is your most precious resource. So spend it wisely.

Powerful research from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business …

“Our search to understand what makes humans happy (or happier) goes back centuries. As does our enduring belief that if we just do the right thing, happiness will follow — that additional happiness Blackjack Online will be doled out to us because we earned it, not due to the largess of a benevolent being. ‘Happiness is not a reward — it is a consequence,’ instructs Robert Green Ingersoll, a Civil War-era orator. Many notable others, from Aristotle to the Buddha to Ursula K. LeGuin, agree with this sentiment.

Read more here.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Stressed on the job? Add rude co-workers to the list of headaches. ”Workplace incivility” is on the rise, researchers said last week at the American Psychological Association annual meeting.

The APA academics define workplace incivility as “a form of organizational deviance… characterized by low-intensity behaviors that violate respectful workplace norms, appearing vague propecia and drug interaction as to intent to harm.”

Translation: rudeness, insults and plain old bad manners.

Research suggests “75% to 80% of people have experienced incivility. It’s a growing and prevalent problem,” says Jeannie Trudel of Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion.

Read more of this informative USA Today article here … No More Mr. Nice Guy

Big is the Torah

My good friends at Google sent me an email this morning, suggesting that I play with a new gadget from their world domination toy box: voice search. It seemed pretty cool to me so I went over to Google, clicked the little microphone, leaned in to my laptop and said my name aloud.

Within .15 seconds, a long list of sites with headings like “…the big bang theory of Torah” and “The Velveteen Rabbi (which I thought was hilarious, by the way) popped up. So…what I said was “David Vittoria”, but what the little Google gremlin heard on the other end was “big is the Torah.” A classic case of miscommunication which lead to my unmet expectations and ultimately, poor results. 14,500,000 of them to be exact.

Consider how often this happens to you. You think about what you’re going to say, say it as clearly as you know how, and the receiver of your message translates it into something wildly different from what you actually said. Happens all the time, right? Sure it does; and my little Google experiment today highlights this enormous challenge that is eroding relationships and seriously impacting outcomes in workplaces (and homes) today:

  1. We don’t fully grasp all of the different ways people actually listen to what we say.
  2. We then assume our message was universally understood and will be acted on accordingly.
  3. And we’re later disappointed to discover that our message had, in fact, been misinterpreted and now things didn’t turn out the way we’d planned.

Here’s the thing …

Hearing is a constant variable. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, whatever the content of the message – hearing is universally understood quick forum readtopic propecia none generated to be “the ability to perceive sound by detecting vibrations through an organ such as the ear”. Listening is more complex; and the way we make meaning out of those “vibrations” depends on our personalities and our prior experiences which, in part, determine our most comfortable listening approach.

Some people are most naturally appreciative listeners – their focus is on relaxing and enjoying the listening experience. Others are more empathic (like me) in their approach to listening – we look for ways to support the speaker and better understand their emotions. Many people are discerning listeners – their main goal is to gather complete and accurate information and to review the “data” later. Comprehensive listeners want to organize all the information they’re taking in and really seek to understand the meaning of the message. And people who are evaluative listeners want to critique the information they’re receiving and then they get prepared to act on it right away.

Consider how you most naturally listen and think about the people you interact with everyday and how they tend to approach the listening experience. I often suggest to teams (and individuals, couples, families and even entire companies, for that matter) that they meet every once in a while and identify not just what is being communicated and expected, but also talk about how things are being said and how information is being processed with everyone involved.

We can’t always readily identify someone else’s listening style; nor should we be expected to constantly alter our message depending on who’s listening and how they’re most “comfortable”. But awareness goes a long way and it often leads to greater understanding and more predictable (and positive) results.

Now you’re aware.

Give ‘Til It Hurts (By BJ Gallagher)

Fellow 8′ers,

While I have a seemingly endless trove of entries to post here on the Live the 8 blog, I was moved today to share this wonderful piece a good friend of mine, BJ Gallagher, just wrote for the Huffington Post. BJ lives the 8; and she knows what it means to do what matters. Read it…learn it…live it…and give ’til it hurts!

———————————————–

Give ‘Til It Hurts
By: BJ Gallagher
Posted: 06/13/11 01:51 PM ET @ http://huff.to/mCFQqH

Reverend Ed Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, stood in his pulpit, resplendent in his flowing white robe and colorful vestments. He’s a big man with a booming voice and charisma enough to light up the sanctuary without candles. On this particular Sunday, he was practically glowing with joy — energized by his guest of honor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Prize-winning peacemaker from South Africa.

“Most people say, ‘Give ’til it hurts,’” Reverend Ed announced to the standing-room-only congregation. “But I say, ‘Give ’til it feels good!’”

The crowd’s laughter and applause thundered their approval. The choir burst into song as ushers made their way down the aisles with collection baskets.

This wasn’t just any Sunday — and it wasn’t just any collection. Archbishop Tutu had come to All Saints to tell us about the latest developments in his homeland. Apartheid had been abolished and the country was now embarking on the long, slow, painful journey of healing. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) had been established to facilitate the healing process. It was a court-like body, chaired by Archbishop Tutu, which played a key role in the transition of South Africa to a full and free democracy. Anyone who felt that he or she had been a victim of apartheid’s violence could come forward and be heard. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty and forgiveness.

But, as Reverend Ed pointed out to us that Sunday morning, justice isn’t free. It costs money to hold tribunals, to handle the paperwork, to underwrite the process of hearings and all the administrative details. So he asked the congregation to dig deep into our pockets and purses, since he was giving all the donations that Sunday to Archbishop Tutu to help support the ongoing work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“I’ve never done this before,” Reverend Ed said, “But I’m going to do Viagra 100mg it today. I am urging to give what you can, in whatever form you can. If you want to donate your car, we’ll take the pink slip. If you want to donate jewelry, we’ll take that. If you want to give cash or a check, or even put your donation on a credit card, fine. We’ll take it all. We here in Southern California have a wonderful standard of living — we’re rich by any standard. So I’m asking you to give as much as you can to the people of South Africa to support their healing and reconciliation. Most people say, ‘Give ’til it hurts’ — but I say, ‘Give ’til it feels good!’”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. We were so moved by Tutu’s sermon, so inspired by his moral authority and loving compassion, that we could do no less than give our all.

As the collection basket made its way toward me, I wondered what to do. My business had been slow, so I had no extra money to give. I needed my car, so I couldn’t donate that. What can I give? I asked myself. I desperately wanted to support this marvelous process unfolding in South Africa. I wanted to contribute something — no matter how small — to the good people half-way around the world.

The collection basket finally came to me and I looked down into it, still not sure what to do. As my hands cradled the basket of love offerings, I noticed that I was wearing a 14K gold and garnet ring my mother had given me on my 12th birthday. Instantly, I knew what to do. I took off the ring, put it in the little white offering envelope, and dropped the envelope into the collection basket. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I passed the basket to the person next to me. I imagined the South Africans melting down my gold ring to help pay for their national healing. I was filled with gratitude and happiness to be a tiny part of something so momentous, so important, so essential to humanity.

As I wiped away my tears and joined the choir in song, I realized that Reverend Ed had been right. I gave … and it felt good.

BJ Gallagher’s new book is If God Is Your Co-Pilot, Switch Seats (Hampton Roads).

Living Your Values

“To thine own self be true.”

Core Values are at the heart of who we are and how we want to be known. This Hamlet quote takes an interesting twist when viewed through the lens of core values. When our values are being met, life is great. When they they are not…not so much.

What if you could orchestrate situations where your wants, expectations AND core values are fulfilled? The key is to pursue your personal core values in all your activities and relationships, and then support other people to do the same. But first, you must know your core values.

Know Your Core Values

The life changing events and major milestones from your life point directly to your core values. You can easily find your core values by noticing which values are touched upon or triggered when remembering the high and low experiences from your past.

  1. Consider times at work or in your personal life, where you were deeply satisfied and happy. Look for “peak experiences” and memories Levitra 10mg you cherish. What deep values were being met at the time? Write down each event along with the values fulfilled by the experience.
  2. Consider other times when you were deeply saddened, hurt or disappointed. These are the kinds of events that you may have promised, “I’ll never do that again!” What values were not being met, or possibly violated, that made it such a miserable experience for you? Write down each event along with the values missing from the experience.
  3. In both the high and low moments, look past the emotions, feelings, and thoughts you had at the time, to find the values. True “core” values are intrinsic and of vital importance to you.
  4. Go back through your lists of experience and pull the top 3-5 essential values that really light you up: the things you just must have to be happy and fulfilled. Which qualities would you consider central to your life and career?

Now, you can live your life, “to thine own core values be true.”

Disconnected: Loneliness & How to Combat It

The more I’ve learned about happiness over the last few years, the more I’ve come to realize just how terribly depleting and unfortunately common the state of loneliness is for many people.

Two months ago, after reading John Cacioppo’s book Loneliness, I talked about loneliness with some of my friends, family, colleagues and even a few clients. Several people mentioned that one question really occupies them as it relates to loneliness:

When I’m lonely, what do I do about it?

I recently finished another fascinating book, Lonely — a memoir by Emily White, about her own experiences and research into loneliness. White doesn’t attempt to give specific advice about how to combat loneliness, but from her book, I gleaned these strategies:

  1. Remember that although the distinction can be difficult to draw, loneliness and solitude are different. White observes, “It’s entirely reasonable to feel lonely yet still feel as though you need some time to yourself.” Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.
  2. Nurturing others — raising children, teaching, caring for animals — helps to alleviate loneliness.
  3. Keep in mind that to avoid loneliness, many people need both a social circle and an intimate attachment. Having one of these elements may still leave you feeling lonely.
  4. Work hard to get your sleep. One of the most common indicators of loneliness is broken sleep — taking a long time to fall asleep, waking frequently, and feeling sleepy during the day. Sleep deprivation, under any circumstances, brings down people’s moods, makes them more likely to get sick, and dampens their energy, so it’s important to tackle this issue.
  5. Try to figure out what’s missing from your life. White observes that making lots of plans with friends didn’t alleviate her loneliness. “What I wanted,” she writes, “was the quiet presence of another person.” She longed to have someone else just hanging around the house with her. The more clearly you see what’s lacking, the more clearly you’ll see possible solutions.
  6. Take steps to meaningfully connect with other people. Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change. The pain of loneliness can prod you to connect with other people. Unfortunately, loneliness itself can make people feel more negative, critical, and judgmental. If you recognize that your loneliness may be affecting you in that way, you can take steps to counter it.

Most people have suffered from loneliness at some point. Have you found any good strategies for making yourself less lonely? What worked — or didn’t work?

Being On Time

Feeling as though you’re always running twenty minutes behind schedule is an unhappy feeling. Having to rush, forgetting things in your haste, dealing with annoyed people when you arrive…it’s no fun.

If you’re chronically late, what steps can you take to be more prompt? That depends on why you’re late. The first step is to Identify the problem – then you can see more easily what you need to change.

There are many reasons you might be late, but some are particularly common. Are you late because…

  1. You sleep too late? If you’re so exhausted in the morning that you sleep until the last possible moment, it’s time to think about going to sleep earlier. Many people don’t get enough sleep, and sleep deprivation is a real drag on your happiness and health. I’ve become a sleep nut since I wrote my book. Getting enough sleep is really important.

     

  2. You try to get one last thing done? Apparently, this is a common cause of tardiness. If you always try to answer one more email or put away one more load of laundry before you leave, here’s a way to outwit yourself: take a task that you can do when you reach your destination, and leave early. Tell yourself that you need that ten minutes on the other end to read those brochures or check those figures.

     

  3. You underestimate the commute time? You may tell yourself it takes twenty minutes to get to work, but if it actually takes forty minutes, you’re going to be chronically late. Have you exactly identified the time by which you need to leave? That’s what worked for me for getting my kids to school on time. We have a precise time that we’re supposed to leave, so I know if we’re running late, and by how much. Before I identified that exact time, I had only a vague sense of how the morning was running, and I usually thought we had more time than we actually did. My son goes into near-hysterics if we’re late, so that motivated me to get very clear on this issue.

     

  4. You can’t find your keys/wallet/phone/sunglasses? Nothing is more annoying than searching for lost objects when you’re running late. Designate a place in your house for your key items, and put those things in that spot, every time. I keep everything important in a “valet” atop our bedroom dresser, and Viagra my wife keeps her key items on a barstool near the kitchen.

     

  5. Other people in your house are disorganized? Your wife can’t find her phone, your son can’t find his Spanish book, so you’re late. As hard as it is to get yourself organized, it’s even harder to help other people get organized. Try setting up the “key things” place in your house. Prod your children to get their school stuff organized the night before—and coax the outfit-changing types to pick their outfits the night before, too. Get lunches ready, etc.

     

  6. You hate your destination so much you want to postpone showing up for as long as possible? If you dread going to work that much, or you hate school so deeply (or wherever your destination might be) you’re giving yourself a clear signal that you need to think about making a big change in your life.

     

  7. Your co-workers won’t end meetings on time? This is an exasperating problem. You’re supposed to be someplace else, but you’re trapped in a meeting that’s going long. Sometimes, this is inevitable, but if you find it happening over and over, identify the problem. Is too little time allotted to meetings that deserve more time? Is the weekly staff meeting twenty minutes of work crammed into sixty minutes? Does one person hold things up? If you face this issue repeatedly, there’s probably an identifiable problem – and once you identify it, you can develop strategies to solve it — e.g., sticking to an agenda; circulating information by email; not permitting discussions about contentious philosophical questions not relevant to the tasks at hand, etc. (This last problem is surprisingly widespread, in my experience.)

Late or not, if you find yourself rushing around every morning, consider waking up earlier (see #1 above). Yes, it’s tough to give up those last precious moments of sleep, and it’s even tougher to go to bed earlier and cut into what, for many people, is their leisure time. But it helps.

I’ve started getting up at 5:00 a.m. so I have an hour to myself before I have to rassle everyone out of bed. This has made a huge improvement in our mornings. Because I’m organized and ready by 7:00 a.m., I can be focused on getting all of us out the door.

If you’ve conquered chronic lateness, what are some strategies that worked for you?

Something Has to Change

I recently visited a large company to give a talk about the guiding principles in my book. From all appearances, it was a well-run company doing good things.

Many of the employees came up to me afterwards to chat, and I asked each of them, “How are things at __________?” Most of them said that things were good, and I had no reason to doubt them.

Others had a different response, and either from what they said or how they acted, it was obvious that they weren’t happy. Several of them talked with me confidentially and said variations of the following:

“It’s not a bad job, Dave, but my creativity is very limited”.
“I find myself constantly daydreaming of [something else]“.
“I liked it here at first, but now I feel stifled”.

These statements were invariably followed by something like: “I shouldn’t complain, because everyone tells me how good I have it. Lots of other people have been laid off or can’t find a job in the first place. Besides, I have good benefits here.”

Hmmm. Yes, it’s good to be grateful for what you have. Lots of people do have it hard these days, and that’s unfortunate. But here’s the thing: it can be a good job at a good company, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. In fact, if Buy Ativan you’re constantly daydreaming of something else, having a good job can be dangerous. A good job can keep you from a big life.

Sometimes what makes sense during one season doesn’t make sense in another; a commitment that was fulfilling at one time loses its allure. In these situations, pretending all is well is usually the wrong answer. If you’re discontented, it’s up to you to make a change. And if it really is a good company or organization that has treated you well, you’re not serving it well in return by giving it less than your best.

Aside from remaining stagnant and trudging along, when you find yourself in a good job that no longer meets your needs, there are only two options:

1) Find a way to bring the joy back to the good job.
2) Find a way to say goodbye to the good job.

You might think that leaving is hard. Of course it’s hard — it would be much easier if it were a bad job. Then the situation would become urgent and you’d do everything you could to get out as soon as possible. But because it’s good enough, you stick around.

That’s why, one way or another, something has to change.

Question: Have you ever found yourself discontented in a good job? What did you do?

Giving Effective Praise

Plaudit junkie that I am, I was once grumbling to my wife about the fact that some extraordinarily praiseworthy effort on my part had gone unnoticed by a friend. Isabel wisely responded, “Most people probably don’t get the appreciation they deserve, Dave.” That’s right, I thought to myself — for instance, my own wife! Whom I certainly don’t give enough praise for everything she does for me and for our family.

This got me thinking about the importance of praise, and how to compliment and congratulate others effectively. The right words of support and acknowledgement can be so encouraging, but bland, empty praise is meaningless.

  1. Be specific. Vague praise doesn’t make much of an impression.
  2. Find a way to praise sincerely and realistically. It’s a rare situation where you can’t identify something that you honestly find praiseworthy.
  3. Never offer praise and ask for a favor in the same conversation. It makes the praise seem like a set-up.
  4. Look for something less obvious to praise – a more obscure accomplishment or quality that a person hasn’t heard praised many times before.
  5. Don’t hesitate to praise people who get a lot of praise already. I’ve noticed that even people who get constant praise – or perhaps especially people who get constant praise – crave praise. Is this because praiseworthy people are often insecure? Or does getting praise lead to a need for more praise? I’m not sure, but it seems often to be the case.
  6. Praise people behind their backs. The praised person usually hears about the praise, and behind-the-back praise seems more sincere than face-to-face praise.
  7. Beware when a person asks for your honest opinion. This is often a clue that they’re seeking reassurance, not candor.

Praise is gratifying to the person getting praised, of course, but it also boosts the happiness of the praiser — at least I’ve found that true of myself. Because the way we feel is very much influenced by the way we act, by acting in a way that shows appreciation, discernment, and thoughtfulness, we make ourselves feel more appreciative, discerning, and thoughtful. And that boosts happiness.

Have you thought of any other good ways for giving people deserved praise?

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