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THINKING OF SUCCESS

 It’s in the Balance…

 

The following is an excerpt from Daniel Goleman’s new book, “Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.”

Here’s a question: If everything worked out perfectly in your life, what would you be doing in ten years? That query invites us to dream a little, to consider what really matters to us and how that might guide our lives. Pursuing this simple exercise encourages openness to new possibilities.

“Talking about your positive goals and dreams activates brain centers that open you up to new possibilities. But if you change the conversation to what you should do to fix yourself, it closes you down,” says Richard Boyatzis, a psychologist at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve (and a friend and colleague since we met in graduate school).

His research has explored these contrasting effects in coaching.

Boyatzis and colleagues scanned the brains of college students being interviewed. For some, the interview focused on positives like that question about what they’d love to be doing in ten years, and what they hoped to gain from their college years. The brain scans revealed that during the positively focused interviews there was greater activity in the brain’s reward circuitry and areas for good feeling and happy memories. Think of this as a neural signature of the openness we feel when we are inspired by a vision.

For others the focus was more negative: how demanding they found their schedule and their assignments, difficulties making friends and fears about their performance. As the students wrestled with the more negative questions their brain activated areas generated anxiety, mental conflict, sadness.

A focus on our strengths, Boyatzis argues, urges us toward a desired future, and stimulates openness to new ideas, people, and plans. In contrast, spotlighting our weaknesses elicits a defensive sense of obligation and guilt, closing us down to.

The positive lens keeps the joy in practice and learning – the reason even the most seasoned athletes and performers still enjoy rehearsing their moves. “You need the negative focus to survive, but a positive one to thrive,” says Boyatzis. “You need both, but in the right ratio.”

Boyatzis makes the case that this positivity bias applies as well to coaching – whether by a teacher, parent, boss, or an executive coach. A conversation that starts with a person’s dreams and hopes can lead to a learning “path” – a joyful series of activities leading to that vision. This conversation might extract some concrete goals from the general vision, then look at what it would take to accomplish those goals – and what capacities we might want to work on improving to get there.

That contrasts with a more common approach that focuses on a person’s weaknesses – whether bad grades or missing quarterly targets – and what to do to remedy them. The conversation focuses us on what’s wrong with us – our failings and what we have to do to “fix” ourselves – and all the feelings of guilt, fear and the like that go along. One of the worst versions of this approach: when parents punish a child for bad grades until he improves – the anxiety of being punished actually hampers the child’s prefrontal cortex while trying to concentrate and learn, creating further impediment to improvement.

In the courses he teaches at Case for MBA students and mid-career executives, Boyatzis has been applying dreams-first coaching for many years. To be sure, dreams alone are not enough: you have to practice the new behavior at every naturally occurring opportunity. In a given day that might mean anything from zero to a dozen chances to give the routine you’re trying to master a trial. Those moments add up.

One manager, an executive MBA student, wanted to build better relationships. “He had an engineering background,” Boyatzis told me. “Give him a task and all he saw was the task, not the people he worked with to get it done.”
So his learning plan became “spend time thinking about how the other person feels.” To get regular, low-risk opportunities for this practice outside his work and the habits he had there, he helped coach his son’s soccer team and tried to focus on the player’s feelings while he coached.

To get data on how well this works, Boyatzis does systematic ratings of those going through the course. Co-workers or others who know them well anonymously rate the students on dozen of specific behaviors that display one or another of the intelligence competencies typical of high-performers (for example: “Understands others by listening attentively.”). Then he tracks the students down years later, and has them rated again by those who now work with them.

“By now we’ve done 26 separate longitudinal studies, tracking people down wherever they work now,” Boyatzis tells me. “We’ve found that the improvements students make in their first round hold up as long as seven years later.”

From “Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.” Copyright 2013 Daniel Goleman. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollns Publishers.

springclean31913

A Floor-to-Ceiling Guide to Spring Cleaning

Daylight savings time is a good reminder that it’s time to spring clean. But what I don’t love about the chore is that once the weather gets nice I want to run outside, not be cooped up at home with rubber gloves and a duster. This month, though, is sort of that sweet spot when I can still justify a day indoors before I start to blow off my apartment for greener, sunnier pastures.

Here, I try to make the process less of a chore with our roundup of best spring-cleaning tips. Take your time, go room by room if you want, and soon enough you’ll have your home prepped for the season.

(Image: Bethany Nauert / Irene & Evan’s Welcoming Whimsy House Tour)

Bob Vila’s 5 ‘Must-Do’ Tasks for March

…by BobVila.com

On the cusp of spring, March is the month to start readying your house for the warm weather ahead, as well as to address any projects you put off over the winter.

Get a jump on spring

Even if you’re diligent about cleaning year-round, spring is the traditional time to address those areas of the home missed by your regular cleaning routine. Dust or vacuum out-of-the-way nooks and crannies — the tops of wall-mounted cabinets, for example, and the floor beneath large appliances. Launder or dry clean fabric draperies, and use a damp cloth to clean wood and vinyl blinds. Vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses, and if you have area rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting, think about renting a carpet cleaner. In short, the goal is to remove dust, mites, and allergens wherever they have settled in order to achieve a healthier home.

Grease residue lingering in the kitchen? Consider washing your cabinets, backsplashes and walls with a mixture of warm water and mild detergent. The same goes for the bathroom, where soap scum, mold and mildew are persistent nuisances. While you’re cleaning tile, look for areas of worn or missing grout, as these may lead to more serious water damage if not repaired.

And just as you readied your furnace for fall, now is the time to make sure your air conditioning unit is in good working order. Change the filter, examine hose connections for leaks, and verify that drain pans are draining freely. If you suspected problems with efficiency or performance last summer, call in a professional to check things out before the warm weather arrives.

Spring cleaning is by no means confined to the indoors. Take a walk around the exterior of your house to evaluate the condition of your home’s roofing, siding, and foundation. Snow, ice, and fluctuating temperatures can all take their toll on shingles and other exterior architectural elements. If you have a deck or patio, give it a good sweep, in the process checking for any minor issues in need of repair. You can get a year’s worth of grime and mildew off your deck and siding in minutes with a pressure washer and an oxygen-based bleach solution.

Source: Closet Maid
Source: Closet Maid

Organize a closet or two

Though many of us would rather keep the door closed on the subject of closet organizationcleaning up your act storage-wise can yield abundant daily and long-term benefits. Pick one closet as a starting point for your efforts and set a goal for what you wish to accomplish. List what you want to store in this closet and identify the ways in which it’s currently letting you down. Big box stores and specialty shops offer storage options running the gamut from strictly functional wire systems to highly decorative cabinetry. Budget, style, and the amount of space you have available should all factor into your decision-making.

Start planning your garden

While it may be too early in most parts of the country to start planting your garden, it’s never too early to plan! Consult seed catalogs or online retailers to find new varieties to experiment with. After all, nurseries and home improvement chains only have room to stock the most popular plants. So if you are looking for heirloom or rare varieties — anything to make your yard truly distinctive this summer — seed catalogs are the way to go. If you’re anxious to begin any way that you can, consider starting your tomatoes from seed indoors.

Paint something — anything!

There’s nothing easier or more rewarding than applying a fresh coat of paint to a room or piece of furniture. Would any room in your house benefit from a totally new hue or just a touchup? The answer is probably yes. If you’re interested in adding bright colors to your home’s palette but aren’t sure where to begin, don’t miss these expert tips on boosting color confidence. And there’s no need to stop at the walls; you can use paint to give new life to an old piece of furniture, worn-out cabinets, or a lackluster stairway.

Create a home office that works for you

Making the right design decisions in your home office can mean the difference between working hard and hardly working! Even if you already have a home office, consider whether there may be a better place for it. Two important questions to ask: Will you actually work in this space (steer clear of bedrooms, which our minds associate with rest), and will there be few distractions (laundry hampers, kitchen sinks, and anything else that might compete for your attention should be out of sight)? Be sure you have room for everything that is essential to the work you do. If your work area is small, take advantage of vertical space by installing shelves above your desk or tall adjacent bookcases. A home office should work for you, so if the setup you have isn’t working, change it!

Related:

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

UNLIMITED THINKING FOR LIMITED SPACES

Urban Vertical Farm and Pick-it-Yourself Market

farmery-concept-facade

When industrial designer Ben Green and grower Tyler Nevers saw a need for suppling urban food-loving folks with locally grown produce at reasonable prices, they devised a plan and successfully raised $25,000 on Kickstarter for a small scale urban “artisan” farm and market that they hope one day will become as common as the corner store.

Their Raleigh, North Carolina prototype, The Farmery, is an urban variation of a rural farm market: an all-in-one neighborhood urban food farm and retail farmer’s market that consolidates the food system by growing and selling the food all under one roof–including the sides and floor.

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Constructed of stacked low-cost shipping containers and attached modular lean-to greenhouses, on the exterior facades of the containers living walls utilize a proprietary hydroponic vertical growing system to grow produce that The Farmery sells in its pick-your-own market.

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A freestanding central greenhouse serves as a growing and retailing area, where customers can pick their own crops right off the growing panels.

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The plan includes three containers dedicated to cultivating gourmet mushrooms, where water reservoirs line the walls to soak the blocks in between the fruiting. Oyster mushrooms grow in a ground-level container, Shiitake in one of two upper level containers, another with a rotating variety of seasonal mushrooms throughout the year including maitake, black poplar, king oyster.

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Pick it Yourself Vertical Farm
Growing vertically saves space and insulates the containers, eliminating the need to cover them. In the central and lean-to greenhouses, the lightweight, modular growing panels are easily moved and produce is harvested through the container openings. The farmers grow seedlings and microgreens on the walls of the lean-to greenhouses in stacked trays.

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Environmental Control
Solar water heaters with radiant heat pex tubing along the container outside walls provide heating near the root zone of the plants. The shipping containers are air conditioned, insulated by a ceramic coating on the containers, closed cell foam, and the growing system itself. Evaporative coolers, shade cloths and misting fans provide cooling in the greenhouses.

“Curated Farm Boutique”
In a climate controlled “food boutique” container, The Farmery will sell a ”curated” selection of locally grown crops from artisanal farmers.

farmery-retail-shop

DIY Home Vertical Farm
If you aren’t in the Raleigh area, you can purchase the just-introduced Farm Buddy, The Farmery’s version of felt panel vertical living wall. Farm Buddy uses a peat moss sponge growing substrate  known for high water retention, contains a built-in reservoir, and top flaps which form a backsplash to catch water runoff.

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Like other living wall panels on the market, Farm Buddy is modular so one can combine several to create a large green wall to grow a variety of food, ornamentals, or both.

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The Future: Neighborhood Urban Farm Stores
The Farmery team hopes to raise the value of produce through an educational and sensory retail experience that also reduces cost by consolidating the entire food distribution system into a single integrated site.

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Green and Nevers envision the neighborhood urban farm becoming as common as the corner store or bodega. The Farmery will be able to offer mushrooms, fish, greens and herbs for prices that meet or beat organic supermarket prices–all the while reestablishing relationships between urban consumers and their food by educating them about how their food is produced.

5 Cheap and Easy Fixes Before You List Your Home

DATE:JANUARY 9, 2013 | CATEGORY:TIPS & ADVICE | AUTHOR:

Thinking of listing your home? Of course, you’ll want to get the best possible price. Before you call a major renovation squad for a TV-style home makeover, try these cheap and easy fixes to increase your home’s appeal.

Declutter

Start with the easiest fix of all. Pack up and hide or store some of your possessions. Stash your collections of porcelain dolls or “Star Wars” figurines; the less of your stuff potential buyerssee, the more likely they will be to envision themselves — and their stuff — in the home.

Add curb appeal

Next, take a look at your home from the street. Could it benefit from a little landscaping? Clear away any dead plants, trim back limbs and bushes, and check out your local home improvement store’s garden section. Small flowering plants and other foliage is very affordable and easily adds instant charm.

Deep clean

The next easy fix is to clean. No, really clean. Pressure wash the driveway, and have your tile and carpets professionally cleaned. Clean your window treatments and remove scuff marks around the baseboards. All the little things that may go unnoticed from day to day will make the home look much better when they are all sparkly-clean.

Go neutral

Watch about 20 seconds of any real estate reality show and you’ll surely hear a prospective buyer lament about the owner’s poor choice in color. “Oh, it’s so … blue.” This is like nails on a chalkboard to real estate professionals because it is literally one of the easiest things to change. The solution: Repaint some of your boldest walls a good old off-white or beige neutral. It will also help you start to detach emotionally from your home as you enter the sale process.

Kitchens and bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms are the two rooms that really sell a home. Give them a quick mini-makeover by making a few inexpensive hardware changes; towel racks, accent shelves, even light switches and utility plate covers are cheap and easy to fix. Also, refer to No. 1 and stash your family photos on the refrigerator and deep-six the extensive pile of magazines in the restroom.

With these five tips, you can give your home a major makeover on a budget in the hundreds versus the thousands and get it ready to list for top dollar.

Related:

Samantha (Sam) DeBianchi is a Realtor and founder of DeBianchi Real Estate. Her expert real estate advice and straightforward approach can be seen and heard on FOX Business. Always keeping it REAL, you can follow Sam online on Twitter and Facebook.
 

Who's bright idea was this?

Nice…if this photo wasn’t taken on a breezy night in June.

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”  ― Meister Eckhart

Carpé Diem.  Ten tips for waking up…

Perfect for small urban kitchen gardens or those with limited outdoor space, Pod is afogponic indoor gardening system for cultivating herbs and vegetables.

Similar to hydroponic gardening, the fogponic “plug-and-play” growing system automatically distributes nutrients and water as a fog or mist rather than liquid, rendering Pod easy to clean and maintain.

Bonus: it’s modular design also promotes cultivating community by sharing and exchanging produce with others.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/52987201 w=614&h=345]

Pod from Greenfingers on Vimeo.

Pod was created as a collaborative student project by industrial designers Casey LinAdam Ben-Dror, Robert Skene, Nick Johnston at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Via Yanko Design.

Blogging: From Good to Great

The following are tips that will instantly improve your website’s SEO, Aesthetics, and Visitor Experience.

The goal of this article is to quickly and significantly improve your site’s visibility and user experience. If you have been actively blogging for a while then I can guarantee that you will find great value in it.

martensenJopnes interiros 10 Simple Ways to Transition Your Home From Summer to Fall ElegantlySeems Like Summer Just Got Here…

Just as we change our wardrobes from season to season, we should also change our homes to reflect the cooler weather.  It needn’t be complicated. It needn’t be much and certainly, it needn’t cost you too much money. No matter your budget or style there are simple ways to help welcome the cooler weather into our homes.