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The fast pace of life in the 21st century and the round-the-clock demand of career, family, social life, and community involvement cut back on a person’s sleep. Too many nights of sleeping less than what is adequate is partly responsible for having low energy levels that impact on a person’s performance at work, at home and beyond. In general, a person’s concentration and the amount and quality of his work decline by 30% because of lack of sleep. Related: 5 Healthy Habits To Help You Sleep According to a 2008 Sleep in America Poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), almost 50 million Americans have sleeping problems that adversely affect their personal, home and work life. 29% of the poll respondents dozed off or became sleepy at work, 36% fell asleep or became drowsy on the wheels, and 20% had their sex life affected.

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Some days, you're a productivity machine. You get everything done on time, plus some. However, other days, you can't even get through your e-mail. When it comes to exceptional work performance, what's really stopping you from being great? Related: 5 Yoga Practices That Make You More Productive Here are a few productivity-sucking snags to avoid.

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Most of us want to give our best performance at work. As I write article, I am in the midst of getting ready to move to a new home with my family, relocate my business, and at the same time, have an extensive amount of travel occurring during this time. Related: How Sleep (Or The Lack Of It) Affects Your Work Performance Managing my energy is essential, not only for me to remain healthy, but for me to continue to be able to serve my clients to the best of my ability. As leaders, it’s easy to get caught up in everything going on around us and not take time to stop and slow down. You know what I’m talking about: when you think you can do everything, and you are running on empty because you haven’t taken time to renew and refresh yourself. You’re doing this because you are a high-performing dedicated leader. You keep charging ahead because that’s what it takes to get it all done and continue to be high-performing, right? I know this because I do it and, due to all that’s going on in my life these next few weeks, I find myself doing it a lot these days. It’s times like this that I remember what it means to be a high performer. It means you work hard and also take time to refresh and renew because you know your body isn’t designed to keep going at the highly intense pace of stressful and busy times. It means you model yourself after high-performing athletes who have an on and off-season. They are high-performing in their on-season because they actually take time off to renew, refresh, and recharge. If they didn’t do that, they would not be as high-performing during their on-seasons. It’s the same with those of us in busy, intense, and often stressful leadership roles. We must remember to stop and recharge so we can continue to be high-performing. How do you recharge your batteries? The ideal way to do this is on a consistent, basis so that you don’t ever get to the place where you are feeling worn out. Creating space for regular “you time” is a great way to build positive “rituals of renewal.” This time can and should be to do things that bring you relaxation or positive fulfillment. For example, one of my regular rituals of renewal is starting every day with a run. Running recharges my batteries on a daily basis. For other people, rituals of renewal may be regular meditation or hiking, or simply taking time to read or to journal. It’s about creating a ritual that you will look forward to so it doesn’t feel like “something else to do.” As previously mentioned, our bodies and minds are not designed to go full speed all the time. Building time for renewal keeps us balanced enough so that we can continue to sustain high performance. As a high-performing leader, you may not necessarily allow yourself “off” time. Not allowing time off will eventually take its toll. So, be aware of how you are feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally. If you are feeling worn out in any of these areas, do something to renew yourself and then start to build in regular “recharge” time so it becomes a habit. At first, you may need to schedule it as you would any other appointment but, if you do it consistently enough, it will eventually become a habit. This is really one of the most important things you can do to be able to continue to perform at your best. If you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot take care of others, or be at your best in other areas of your life. This month’s development tip: Do you have a regular “recharge/renew” ritual built into your life? If so, is it working to keep you feeling balanced and able to be at your best or do you need to update your ritual to be more beneficial to you? If you don’t have a renewal ritual built into your life, take time to create one so that you can begin taking care of yourself, which will enable you to be at your best in all other areas of your life.

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Feedback V.S. Feedforward

Feedback is defined as the return of information about performance, a process, or an activity. Whether we like to receive it or not, feedback is an essential part of career development. If you don't know how you've been doing, how will you know where you need to improve, grow, and develop? Feedback is a look backward, it's the review of what has been done. Yet, the most important factor in receiving this information is determining what you'll do with it moving forward. Marshall Goldsmith coined the term "feedforward" as an alternative to feedback. This is the process of giving someone suggestions for future improvement. Rather than looking backwards at what they have done in the past. My experience is both are vital aspects of career development. You want to seek input from your manager (or a mentor or a respected colleague) not only on how your performance has been in the past but also get input on improvement suggestions to use in the future.


A great way to ensure you get information that touches on both past and future is to use "start/stop/continue" questions. These questions would be posed with regard to your career development. So, relative to where you're looking to grow in your career, ask the following questions: "What should I start doing?", "What should I stop doing?" and "What should I continue doing?" The answers to these questions comprise both a backward look and a forward look at performance and development. For example, if you want to develop better negotiation skills, you'd ask, "What should I start doing that will enable me to improve my negotiation skills?" The feedback part of the response could be, "You haven't yet had enough opportunities to negotiate significant contracts with customers." And, the feedforward part of the response could be, "Why don't you sit in on some negotiation meetings with the vice president of sales and then, as you gain confidence, begin negotiating with customers on larger contracts." Having information about past behavior is really only useful if we are able to use it to continue to excel or, make necessary changes that help us improve and grow. Although we cannot change the past, we can certainly use past information to help change the future. Using these types of questions about your performance and career development allows you to get input in the form of feedback and feedforward. This is essential for you to grow your career.

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