Personal note

I spent much of last week in California, mixing family time with business appointments.It was heavenly; on Saturday a dear friend and I went down to the Ferry Building in San Francisco and browsed the wares of the creative street merchants who were offering enchanting scarves, stunning jewelry, cuddly stuffed animals … and, well, also a lot of things neither of us would ever bring home.

Then we took the ferry to the charming bayside, terraced town of Sausalito, where we strolled, sauntered through even more creative shops, and feasted on fish tacos. Sailboats and kayaks dotted the bay, seemingly all going in the same direction, heading towards a hidden cove on the other side of Angel Island, we imagined.

The sky was clear and blue, the temperature was the kind you don’t even notice, because it’s neither too warm nor too cold, and we arrived home tired and at the same time refreshed.

The next day the city was visited by gray skies and an icy windstorm that prompted us to have an indoor picnic.

But the serenity and fun of the day before has continued to stay with me, even as I returned to my office, where I found enthusiastic messages about proposals I had put forth before I left. Everything was working for me even as I backed off for a bit.

Sometimes a break is all you can do to increase your productivity.

Does persistence really pay off?

We’ve heard these phrases all of our lives:

“Persistence pays off,” “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” and “Success comes the day after you give up.”  But are they really true? If you’re feeling tired, despondent and burned out, you may wonder just how long you have to persist before you achieve success.

I used to tell my clients that if you keep hitting your head against a stone wall, something’s bound to give. I wouldn’t count on it being the stone wall.

Here are some guidelines for engaging in what I call “enlightened persistence.”

Take breaks: Being persistent doesn’t mean continuously pursuing a goal. Program and take breaks: a few minutes each hour to stretch and relax; one day a week completely free from effort on a project that otherwise preoccupies you; a weekend per month when you get away from it all. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is get away from your work.

Try different words: Are you trying to communicate ideas over and over again to the same people in the same words? If you need help and aren’t getting it, for example, you might switch from saying, wearily, “Do you suppose you could help me out with this?” to “I really need your help right now.”

Try different motivators: If you offer the same incentives (or disincentives) to the same person over and over, and don’t see any results, you need to back off and look at the situation … and at the person receiving the motivator.

One client was frustrated to find that her teenage daughter repeatedly violated the parents’ rules, even though the mother regularly punished the girl by grounding her. The fact that it didn’t work doesn’t mean the girl is incorrigible; it does mean that this was the wrong motivator for change in this person.

Try a different path: If you would like to be an enthusiastic member of a team, a friendly neighbor, an adventurous person who attracts similar companions, a success at selling a product you really believe in … whatever it is you want … maybe you’re trying with the wrong group of people, or in the wrong place.

Be willing to jettison things, people, and situations if you realize that you and they are not a good fit.

Continuing to persist in the face of failure sounds admirable, but without being willing to vary your behavior, you are setting yourself up for stress and its worst outcome, depression.

Enlighten yourself! To bring about change, you need to be willing to change.

The last and best words on inappropriate persistence were offered by Albert Einstein, who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The Confident Introvert

Another myth I have encountered recently is that introverts are fine with no outside contact whatsoever. No, we enjoy contacts and stimulation that we get outside of our own nests; we just need to control how much we get all at one time.

A great party with lots of people may be very enjoyable for a confident introvert – for a limited time. We’re the ones who leave early when we’ve had enough stimulation, just as some people quit eating when they’ve had enough.

It’s not a reflection on the host. It’s a reflection of the fact that we recognize and pay attention to our inner needs, always a healthy way to live.

Find out more about The Confident Introvert: http://www.ConfidentIntrovert.com.