Why Ask Why?

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By JP Chartier

Not only should you ask “why” when a problem occurs, according to Sakichi Toyoda, you should ask “why” five times to ensure that you reach the root cause of the problem. Sakichi Toyoda developed the “Five Why” technique after starting the Toyota Motor Corporation to enable technicians to quickly establish the real problem.

It’s human nature to ask “why,” but generally we tend not to ask “why” enough times. Toyoda found that asking “why” five times is usually enough to get to the real root of the issue.

Here’s how it works, you simply start at the problem and keep asking “why” until you reach the root cause. By repeatedly asking “why,” you peel away the layers of symptoms exposing the real issues that need your attention. Usually, you’ll find that the root issue is a process that isn’t working well or one that doesn’t yet exist.

There is an extension to the “Five Why” technique that you can apply called the “Fishbone” or “Ishikawa.” There are templates you add to the Fishbone that will help you discover root issues for business applications. To learn more about the Fishbone technique click here: http://www.bulsuk.com/2009/08/using-fishbone-diagram-to-perform-5-why.html

Here is an example of the “Five Why” technique (courtesy of medscape.com):

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So the next time you’re facing a problem, remember asking why only once usually wont get you to the meat of the problem.

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Job Sucks? This Is What You Do

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By JP Chartier

It’s Sunday night, and you’re about to go to bed, a brand new work week is only hours away, how does this make you feel? If you answered this question with words like: crappy, depressed, miserable, unmotivated, uninspired or angry, then it’s a safe bet that your job sucks.

It’s time you did something about it!

A few months ago, Gallup released the findings of their “2013 State of the American Work[place” poll and it’s grisly. According to the Gallup study, 70% of Americans either “hate” their jobs, or are “completely disengaged.”

This is a damn travesty and doesn’t bode well for mankind!

I know this was a poll on the American workplace, but I checked around and those in Europe and Canada don’t fair much better. Most people dislike their jobs and it’s a global epidemic!

So how does one start doing work they actually enjoy?

CREATE A LIST OF “PROS” & “CONS”

So you’ve come to the conclusion that your job sucks.First things first – lets make a list of all the things you like about your job, and all the things you dislike about your job. The object here is to get all this down on paper (or in the computer) so you can see them all together and contemplate them. You may find by comparing your pros and cons, that you really don’t have it too bad after all.

I found a pretty cool pro/con calculator here: http://www2.elc.polyu.edu.hk/cill/tools/prosandcons.htm to help you with this. You simply type in all the good and bad about your job, then you rank each of them 1 – 5, with 5 being something you feel strongly about. When you’re through with all this, it gives you a score which helps you decide if you should stay or go. You can use this calculator to help you decide anything, not just jobs.

REALLY EXAMINE WHAT IT IS YOU WANT TO DO

Now you have some real information before you, by completing the list above you now have a better understanding of what it is that you truly dislike and like about your job. Take the time to really examine and contemplate this list.

IT TAKES MORE THAN PASSION

It has been said by some really intelligent people that if you can find work that you have a passion for, you will never work a day again in your life. Some out there will lead you to believe that passion alone is all you need to succeed and be happy, but I disagree with this. Take for example the contestants on American Idol, they all no doubt have a deep passion for making music and becoming famous, but if all they have is passion and not any talent, they will most likely fail.

So passion is not all you need.

You need to ask the right questions so your passion doesn’t have you sprinting in the wrong direction, effectively wasting your life. Remember, there are millions of folks out there who work at a job they don’t especially love but they use their free time after work or on weekends to do what they have passion for.

CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE

I always thought that when I found myself in a less than desirable situation, it was in my best interest to remove myself from said situation/job immediately. But when the discussion is centered around quitting your job, that’s a major life-changing event, so it makes no sense to take such a dramatic move without thinking deeply about the alternatives first, and then decide some sort of “leaving strategy.”

But there is another way to look at it, without taking such dramatic steps, just change your perspective of the views and opinions you’ve formed about your place of employment.

Is it really that bad? Or is it that your attitude just needs a little adjusting? The way you perceive the events around you throughout the day will determine your well-being, and directly effects your health too. Maybe all that is needed is some basic knowledge on how to learn to handle the way you let what is happening effect you and your thoughts?

TALK TO THE DECISION MAKER

Why don’t you consider the options for making the job work before leaving. Speak to the person who makes the decisions- your boss, the owner etc. and talk about a transfer, a change in hours, or something along those lines.

A FEW THINGS FOR YOU TO CONTEMPLATE

When you’re struggling with a job you hate, it can seem like the end of the world. The key to your survival is having a vision beyond the troubles of today. Enduring a job you hate by trying to force yourself to love it isn’t necessary, and you don’t need to have all the answers for the problems either. You just need to cope long enough to find a new job.

Below I’ve listed a few suggestions that will help you cope with your less-than-ideal job. Who knows, you might even find that things aren’t all that bad after all.

  • Set small goals for yourself
  • Perform one act every day that will bring you closer to your dream job
  • Think about the possibilities your job can lead to
  • Give yourself something to look forward to at the end of the day, or week
  • Try cultivating some work relationships
  • Take breaks at work. I notice hard-working people all the time not taking their breaks, and I see that it affects them negatively. Your body and mind need the break. Take your lunch break away from work if you can, just getting away from work for 30 minutes or an hour can really help with your attitude
  • Take care of yourself. Everything else we do affects how we feel at work. If we don’t get the proper amount of sleep, or we’re not eating right, our work life will suffer guaranteed.

PREPARE FOR DEPARTURE

Ok, so you’ve done all you can do and you believe that it’s in your best interest to find another job. So now it’s time to plan your escape! Start a secret job search while you’re still employed. Here are a few search programs to help you in your search: Indeed, Simply Hired, Link Up, Job Central, US.jobs, Career Jet, JuJu, Mployd, Just Jobs and Job Miner.

TAKE FLIGHT!

You’ve done all of the above and you’ve decided that this job really does suck and you can do better somewhere else. You’ve got another job lined up, it’s just a matter of leaving your old job and starting the new one. Do your future self a favor and give them a two-week notice.

REMINDER: Have you done something today that will move you closer to living the life of passion you desire? If not, what are you waiting for?

A Short-Story To Make You Think

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“If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately.”  -Ben Franklin

I wanted to share this fantastic short-story that a friend of mine, Chuck Gallozzi, shared with me. It’s a story about the importance of working together, the way it gets its point across is priceless! For when we refuse to cooperate with others, we only deepen our suffering and make life that much more difficult. Here’s the story…

A Young Monk and His Mentor

A young Buddhist initiate asked his mentor to describe hell. “Ah, hell.” the monk said, “it is like a large banquet hall with countless rows of tables laden with sumptuous meals and delicious drinks.” But Teacher, the surprised initiate said, “I thought those in hell would suffer.” “Oh, they do,” answered the monk.  “You see, there are four-foot long chopsticks permanently attached to their hands. Although they can pick up the food, the length of the chopsticks makes it impossible to reach their mouths.”

“That’s horrible. Teacher, tell me about heaven,” the initiate pleaded. “Ah, heaven,” the monk sighed, “it is like a large banquet hall with countless rows of tables laden with sumptuous meals and delicious drinks, and permanetly attached to everyone’s hands are four-foot long chopsticks.” “But Teacher, isn’t that the same as hell?” the initiate stuttered. “No,” the monk replied, “the people are different, although they cannot feed themselves, they can feed each other!”

I hope this resonated with you like it did with me!

THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD HAVE!

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By JP Chartier

What would you say is the one thing that is absolutely essential in order to lead a meaningful and enjoyable life?

I feel that ONE essential thing is a well thought out and ever-morphing “Philosophy of Life.” It’s ever-morphing because it’s always being added to or slightly changed in some way due to the situations and the circumstances being played out at the time.

If you truly want an understanding of what it is that makes you who you are, and if you’re looking for a way to help make sense of your life here on earth, than I feel it’s important that you develop a philosophy for your life. This philosophy can be thought of as a “roadmap,” this roadmap can be followed in any situation and will help guide you through to a place of safety, happiness and well-being.

In short, our “Philosophy of Life” is our most basic beliefs and concepts, it’s how we choose to view the world and deal with its ever changing landscape. And most importantly, it’s understanding how that ever changing landscape affects us as a person.

What a Philosophy of Life will do for you:

1.   Fulfill your basic needs for survival.

2.   Make you feel good.

3.   Help you through the tough times.

4.   Give your life meaning.

5.   Make you feel useful and valuable.

6.   Give you a respect for others and for their belongings.

7.   Enable you to sum up your life, and who you are in one fairly short sentence.

8.   Give you an approach to the way you live your life.

9.   Help you lead a more inspired life.

10. Help you make better choices.

11. Help you deal with change.

12. Help you deal with disappointment.

13. Will be a deeply rewarding life experience.

14. Allow you to be Pro-active in life instead of re-active.

15. Help you comprehend the significance of not only your life, but of life as a whole.

16. Give you an understanding of the association between mankind and nature and between the individual and society.

Jon Mertz came up with the following 6 questions (listed below) which is an excellent way to get started on your Philosophy of Life.

To define your personal Life Philosophy, answer the following questions:

1.   When you awake in the morning, what is it that you want to do?

2.   What directs your actions and decisions, especially the impulsive ones?

3.   What gives you a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day?

4.   What feeling is in the core of your soul, that you know to be self-evident?

5.   Why are your beliefs important to you?

6.   How does your philosophy measure up to higher standards and beliefs?

A sample Life Philosophy someone wrote:

“To live simply and always lead with spirit, to always try and do the right things right, and take time to re-soul.”

How to develop a Philosophy of Life:

1.   Think deeply about your beliefs, values, and goals then write them down.

2.   Think about the strategies you use to handle fear, anger, jealousy, change, unforeseen problems.

3.   Write a list of facts, experiences and characteristics that make you unique.

4.   Write down what inspires you.

5.   Study others philosophies.

6.   Decide how your life will be meaningful.

7.   Collect and research quotes that resonate with you.

8.   Write down those you admire and why.

9.   Find a mentor and learn all you can from them.

10. Write down what you want to accomplish in life and the roadmap to getting there.

11. Think about how you’ve dealt with adversity and painful moments in the past, now think about how you would handle them today. Develop a way you will handle instances like these in the future.

MY PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE:

Try to leave people and situations better than I found them.

Think before acting.

Remember, slow and easy.

Find beauty.

Enjoy life first and foremost.

Always be creating something.

Never stop learning.

Except change with class.

Remain humble.

Keep life simple, and enjoy those simple things.

Gather knowledge rather than material things.

Others first.

In times of turmoil, the way you act and the things you say is what others will remember about you.

Good luck developing your Philosophy of Life, I’ve listed mine above for reference, and remember nothing is written in stone! You can always add to or delete items on your list as you see fit.

I’ll leave you with the wise words of Nietzsche…

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”  ~Friedrich Nietzsche

How To Savor Happiness

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JP Chartier

Modern day Stoicism has much to offer the individual who is seeking a life philosophy. In his book “A Guide To The Good Life,” William B. Irvine has put a modern twist on the teachings and techniques the Stoics developed more than two millennia ago.

After reading this excellent book I found that many of my preconceived notions concerning the Stoics were utterly false and untrue. Irvine explains that the Stoics weren’t necessarily these stuffy old guys that never had any fun, were pessimistic in their views on humanity, and never showed any emotions. Actually, they were quite the opposite in several instances he explains.

When I was in the midst of my four-year trek around North America, I would always seek out philosophical discussions with the people I would meet. I had a sort of  list of favorite topics I liked to touch on. When I would ask people what it was that they most wanted in life, “happiness” always seemed to be the “boiled down” answer. We all just want to be happy. So let’s have a look at what the Stoics did to try and savor happiness.

First of all, there are several reasons someone may be unhappy, but for the most part, human unhappiness stems from the fact that we are insatiable beings. We form a desire for something we think we really need, then we work our asses off to fulfill this desire, believing that once we fulfill it, we will gain the satisfaction we were searching for. The problem lies in the fact that once we fulfill a desire for something, we adapt to its presence in our life and as a result, we stop desiring it, or we don’t desire it like we once did. Usually sooner rather than later, we end up just as dissatisfied as we were before fulfilling the desire. The name for this phenomenon is called “hedonic adaptation” or the “hedonic treadmill.”

NEGATIVE REALIZATION TECHNIQUE

There are many things in our lives that we have probably adapted to, including our relationships, our house, our car, our job etc. An important key to our happiness is to forestall this adaptation process, even better, we need a way to reverse it, and the easiest way to do this is for us to learn how to want the things we already have.

The  Stoics have a technique to prevent us from taking things for granted once we get them. They believed that by contemplating the bad things that can happen to us, we will lessen their impact on us when they do happen. They recommend that we spend time imagining that the things we value most, were suddenly taken from us – that our car was stolen, we lost our job, or that our wife/husband has left us. In so doing the Stoics believe that we will value our car, our job, and our wife more than would otherwise be the case. This technique is referred to as “negative realization” and can be applied to many other areas of your life too.

“Misfortune weighs most heavily on those who expect nothing but good fortune.”  -Seneca

So, while we are enjoying the companionship of loved ones for instance, we should periodically stop to reflect on the possibility that this enjoyment will come to an end. A famous Stoic from ancient times named Epictetus advocates that when we kiss our child, we need to remember that they are mortal and not something we own, they have been given to us only for the present, not forever. He continues: “In the very act of kissing the child, we should silently reflect on the possibility that they will die tomorrow.

This technique can be used for our friendships too. We should silently remind ourselves when saying goodbye to a friend, that this could very well be our final meeting. If we do this we will be less likely to take our friends for granted, and as a result, we’ll probably derive far more pleasure from our friendships than we otherwise would.

Another famous Stoic named Marcus Aurelius, who was also a Roman Emperor, said instead of spending our idle moments thinking of the things we want but don’t have, we should instead be spending this time thinking of all the things we already have and reflecting on how miserable we would be if they were not ours, or if they were suddenly taken from us.

This technique can be used for several other areas in our lives too, like losing our ability to walk, talk, hear, breathe or swallow for instance.

I believe the Negative Realization technique teaches us to embrace life more, to help us extract every ounce of delight we can from it, while simultaneously teaching us to prepare ourselves for the changes that life will throw at us. It teaches us to enjoy what we have without clinging to it.

When we contemplate the impermanence of everything the world has to offer, it forces us to recognize that everytime we do something, it could be the last time we do it. This recognition will add significance and intensity to that which we do, which would otherwise be absent.

This article was originally twice as long, and included a few of the other techniques used by the Stoics. I will publish another article including these at a later date. Until then, practice this technique in you`r life and see how it works for you.

Dalai Lama’s 18 Rules of Living

About 10 years ago, the Dalai Lama constructed the 18 Rules of Living. These are 18 philosophical reminders to help one in their journey through life. These are simple reminders, yet very profound if implemented.
1.   Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2.  When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
3.  Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others, and Responsibility for all your actions.
4.  Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5.  Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6.  Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7.  When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8.  Spend some time alone every day.
9.  Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

The Wise Understand That…

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By JP Chartier

THE WISE UNDERSTAND THAT…

YOU are the result of your decisions.

To get people to take an interest in you, you must first take a genuine interest in them.

Hurt people hurt people.

Everyone loves to work on their strengths, but only the great ones work on their weaknesses.

Sometimes you need to give up the wheel and enjoy the ride.

You aren’t punished for your sins, but by your sins.

Much can be done in the time it takes to gossip.

Life is a limited time offer.

You can’t always change the circumstances in your life, but you can change your perception of those circumstances.

We teach people how to treat us.

Sometimes you make the right decision and sometimes you have to make the decisions right.

The rest of your life will go by if you’re doing something to improve it or not.

Good or bad is nothing until you assign meaning to it.

There is no TRUE REALITY, only your PERCEPTION.

Winners do the things losers don’t want to do.

You measure people by their actions, not their words.

You base the quality of your life on results – not intentions.

Not choosing is a choice.

 

You get what you give.

 

Thoughts are behaviors too.

Whatever your life experiences are, you’re accountable.

You must protect or enhance a person’s self-esteem to effectively manage them.

Criticism is futile because it puts a man on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself.

The most important thing you can learn is to see things from the others point of view.

People are not interested in you, they are interested in themselves.

To be interesting, be interested.

Your first step to happiness is to stop blaming others and your circumstances.

Left to themselves, things have a tendency to go from bad to worse.

Being defeated is often a temporary condition, giving up makes it permanent.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

 

Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.

 

Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.

If this were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today?