The CEO Corner

Integration is an important word and as you can readily see from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition above, it has a number of meanings. As we restart PWT’s quarterly newsletter, I would like to underscore the importance of “combining and coordinating of separate elements into a unified whole” portion of the definition.  While this aspect of integration is central to most successful projects, it also holds considerable resonance for Pacific Western Technologies given the recent efforts of integrating EarthFax Engineering Group (EEG) as a fully fledged division of the company.

The EEG integration process began in earnest in July 2016 and is pending completion by the end of April or early May of this year. The integration team included Human Resources (Correna and Bette), Finance & Accounting (Billy and Flori), Information Technology (Bruce) as well as Insurance (Chuck, Correna, Bette and Brad).  Each functional area required the development of specific tasks to achieve integration.  Actions by the integrators listed above have enabled PWT to fully integrate health and liability insurance programs, human resource programs by January 2017.  Finance and Accounting is virtually complete now and Information Technology will be complete by the end of April or early May.

Full integration will allow better communication and improved program and project delivery throughout the company – primarily accomplished by the ubiquitous sharing of environmental consulting, scientific and engineering capabilities. A secondary, but no less important means of organization efficiency – assisted by effective integration – is the distributed and seamless overhead support staff functions.

The benefits of integration will allow PWT to adapt more quickly to an ever changing and more competitive market place – allowing us to effectively compete across both public and private sectors. Examples include:  expansion of ENSE private sector opportunities, developing EEG governmental / public sector prospects and increasing our focus on helping to deliver projects that will enable our nation to rebuild its degrading infrastructure.

As you can see, integration is an essential element of PWT’s future. We will need to act as one organization comprised of three operating divisions supported by a distributed and lean support staff.  Successful integration will allow PWT – with its enhanced capabilities – in short, to be bigger than the sum of its parts.

 

Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk

Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Practice overcoming negative self-talk with examples provided.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer this age-old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic — and it may even affect your health.

Indeed, some studies show that personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits. If you tend to be pessimistic, don’t despair — you can learn positive thinking skills. Here’s how.

Understanding positive thinking and self-talk

Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.

Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head every day. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.

If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.

The health benefits of positive thinking

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk

Identifying negative thinking

Not sure if your self-talk is positive or negative? Here are some common forms of negative self-talk:

  • Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, say you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. But you forgot one minor step. That evening, you focus only on your oversight and forget about the compliments you received.
  • Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.
  • Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
  • Polarizing. You see things only as either good or bad, black or white. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or that you’re a total failure.

Focusing on positive thinking

You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice — you’re creating a new habit, after all. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:

  • Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you typically think negatively about, whether it’s work, your daily commute or a relationship, for example. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.
  • Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you’re thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
  • Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
  • Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn to manage stress.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.

Here are some examples of negative self-talk and how you can apply a positive thinking twist to them.

      Negative self-talk Positive thinking
          I’ve never done it before. It’s an opportunity to learn something new.
          It’s too complicated. I’ll tackle it from a different angle.
          I don’t have the resources. Necessity is the mother of invention.
          I’m too lazy to get this done. I wasn’t able to fit it into my schedule but can re-examine some priorities.
          There’s no way it will work. I can try to make it work.
          It’s too radical a change. Let’s take a chance.
          No one bothers to communicate with me. I’ll see if I can open the channels of communication.
          I’m not going to get any better at this. I’ll give it another try.

 

Practicing positive thinking every day

If you tend to have a negative outlook, don’t expect to become an optimist overnight. But with practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may also become less critical of the world around you. Plus, when you share your positive mood and positive experience, both you and those around you enjoy an emotional boost.

Practicing positive self-talk will improve your outlook. When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you’re able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. That ability may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.

 

How to Be Happier at Work

by Leonard A. Schlesinger, Charles F. Kiefer, and Paul B. Brown | Harvard Business Review

It would be nice to think that you’re going to be just as excited about going to work tomorrow as you were on your first day on the job.

But between increased workloads caused by your company’s reluctance to hire more people, or a change in management that has put less than stellar people in charge of your little corner of the universe, or maybe the fact that you have done the same job for a while now, you may be feeling….well, not exactly burned out, but fatigued.

What to do?

  • Telling yourself to get more excited about the same old thing isn’t going to work. (It never does.)
  • Retiring in place and simply going through the motions is not an option. (You’d be replaced a week from Thursday by someone who might not be better, but by a person who certainly has more enthusiasm.)
  • And while looking for another job is clearly a choice, terrific jobs are hard to come by in this limp-along economy and you may not be ready to undergo that kind of disruption.

Let us suggest another alternative: Start something. More specifically, start something outside of work.

It could be a new company — or at least something that could lead to starting your own company — but it also could be something artsy like writing a book, composing music or doing something for the betterment of your community (such as developing an idea for a new after-school program). Heck, it could even be something you’ve always wanted to do — like learning to play the piano or speak a new language — with absolutely no possibility of financial reward. You simply want to do it for the sheer enjoyment of it.

It doesn’t matter what it is. The key is to start, to take a small step toward what you think you want. You don’t have to make a commitment to see this fledgling notion through to the end. That would be silly — you simply don’t know if this new thing is something that you are really going to like.

The key is to get moving without much cost (either in time or in any other resource.) As with all new ventures, you want to stay within your acceptable loss.

Once you take that small, inexpensive step, see what you’ve learned. If you’re happy with the results, take another step toward your goal. Pause again to see what you’ve learned this time and, if it feels right, go take another step.

How is this going to make you happier at your job? That’s simple. Some of the enthusiasm you have for your outside venture is going to carry over into your work. Making progress on things you care about elevates your mood. You’ll come to work pleased with yourself and you’ll be less dour. Guaranteed. That could be enough to get you out of your funk — which is certainly a good thing both for you, your colleagues and your company.

And if it doesn’t cure your job fatigue, or it doesn’t for long, that’s not necessarily bad, either. By taking the step toward creating something outside of work, you have done two things, both of them good:

First, you may have started down the road that could lead to you starting your own business.

Second, because you have done it, you are in the process of proving to yourself that you know how to create something new. That will be a valuable skill to have no matter what you do next — start your own company, look for a new job or try to carve out a new sort of position in your current company.

Of course, there is an alternative, and you’ve probably met this person before. It’s the person who tells you about all the things they might do, but who never seems to take the first step toward any of their goals. You offer an idea. You offer encouragement and support. But nothing happens. Somehow this person seems more comfortable and even (ironically) pleased with dreaming about possibilities while remaining unhappy.

The remedy for this malaise is simple (although not often taken). It is to act. Every action causes a change in reality. Every action carries the potential for learning.   Learning about your next step. Learning about what you like or don’t like. Every act can build momentum. Small desires grow. A small talent or expertise can be developed and honed. Before you know it, you can be on a new course.  But only if you act.

So, as counter-intuitive as it seems, to be more excited about your job, go do something great outside of it.

 

3 Ways Happiness Can Improve Health

Which comes first: happiness or success?

Published on October 13, 2011 by Shawn Achor in The Happiness Advantage

I was at a Starbucks in New York, completely minding my own business, when…Actually, in truth, I was at a Starbucks intentionally eavesdropping on the conversation of some people at the table next to me, when I overheard one slightly overweight woman say to her three fit friends, “I’ve tried 19 diets over the past year, and none of them worked. I’ll be so happy when I look more like you.”

A few minutes later, I was giving a talk on how the business world needs to reverse the happiness formula. Most people think, if I work harder at my company, then I’ll be successful, and then I’ll be happy. But my research proves that formula is backwards. Every time you’re successful at work, your brain changes the goalpost of success. Thus, your brain never quite gets to happiness. Moreover, if you can raise your happiness in the present, then every business outcome improves. It is what we call the “happiness advantage.”
That’s when it hit me. That woman at Starbucks, was failing at her diets because she was using the wrong formula. The science of the happiness advantage has as much to do with dieting and exercise as it does for productivity and profitability. Most people think, if I can lose ten pounds, then I’ll be happy. Or once I get a six pack, then I’ll be happy and girls will like me. Or man, I’d be so happy if I looked like the person on the cover of that health magazine. So people go about figuring out which flaw to fix first, resurrecting new years resolutions, and buying magazines to remind them that they don’t yet look how they’d like to look. We think about how happy we’ll be once we do all 90 days of P90X.

But most diet and exercise plans we set for ourselves fail. That’s why it’s such a fantastic cash cow for publishers, because the failure rate is so high. Once people fail, they try some or other diet or exercise plan. But the main reason we fail to hit goals is because we are working against our brain, not with it. Our brains are actually designed over the long run to function better at positive, rather than negative, neutral or stressed. When you are negative, you spend a lot of your brain’s resources activating the Jerk (the amygdala) instead of the Thinker (the prefrontal cortex). The more you use the Jerk to exercise, the less successful you will be long term. We need to stop thinking, “I will be happy when…” That puts happiness after your diet and exercise goal which means you miss out on a huge advantage.

Here are three ways to use happiness to improve your health and achieve your health goals.

#1 Start with happiness. If you are going to start a diet or exercise plan, start with happiness. Make a list of the attributes you like about yourself which will help you accomplish the goal. For example, “I like that I’m good convincing my friends to have fun” means that you might want to use that skill set to start a running group or inspire a friend to be a workout buddy. In The Happiness Advantage, I describe how positive brains have 31% higher levels of productivity, higher pain tolerance, 3 times the levels of creativity, are 90% more likely to live to 85, and their symptoms feel less acute. You can apply this human potential bump to your diet and exercise goals, instead of starting at a deficit as your brain records how unhappy it is about your current health.

#2 Change your mindset. Stick with me on this one, make the exercise or diet fun. As Dr. Z says, “By prioritizing happiness, you increase the chance of achieving the health outcome you seek. But happiness is in the mind so you must work on your brain before your body.” That sounds harder than it is. I like lifting weights because you can see the results quickly. But I hate sitting on a bike reading. I should say “hated,” because I just got a kindle. I don’t know how people have the agility to turn physical pages on an old fashioned book while swinging on an elliptical machine, but biking and kindling is even easier than learning to ride a bike. I bought fun books, that grab my attention, and now, I actually find myself not only starting with cardio, but I finish my workouts by biking when I need to know what happens in my book. Now I look forward to reading, so I’m looking forward to biking.

#3 Reward yourself. Make sure that your reward is not food related. The goal for this is to keep the happiness fueling you throughout the process, not just months/years later at the completion of your goal. If you don’t have happiness fueling you, your brain will get bored or frustrated.

Which comes first, happiness or health? The happiness advantage research is clear. If you do not start with happiness, you’ll miss out on both.

10 Tips to Find Happiness at Work

 

Throw Out Labels

 We spend most of our lives instantly judging things that happen to us. It’s raining: Bad. No bonus this year: Very bad. The boss is out of town: Very good. Author of Happiness At Work Srikumar Rao, Ph.D., says you can boost your sense of calm by turning off the mental labels. If you decide something is bad, it most likely will be, he says.

Let It Go

When something throws you off, being able to let it go quickly will exponentially increase your happiness at work. The ability to move on–resilience–enables you to handle work challenges with composure and strength. Instead of focusing on how bad a situation is, focus on how to fix it or the next step.

Write a To-Do List

It’s hard to feel resilient when you also feel like you have no power over your work day. You can take some of that control back by writing a to-do list and completing tasks in that order. Also, limiting distractions by scheduling times to check e-mail or social networking sites will help keep you on task and feeling productive.

Focus and Engage

“The current workforce is like the cast of the Night of The Living Dead, says Rao. Disengaged worker-zombies do nothing for the company or for individual morale. If you are able to get excited about your work and focus on it with full attention, time will go by faster and the experience will be much more pleasant.

Quiet Mental Chatter

A constant stream of negative thoughts sends many workers into a downward spiral of unhappiness. Quiet the chaos by redirecting your thoughts. Think of a positive memory and create a mental image of it. The next time you have an idle moment, instead of surfing the Web, draw up this mental screensaver. Replay this in order to reset your mind and scale back the negative.

Find Restorative Time

Workplaces are stressful and you need to cope. Set aside some time each day to recharge. Taking a peaceful walk at lunch rather than mindlessly eating at your desk will restore calm. Maybe a warm bath in the evening or fun book for the commute are your fix-its. Experiment and find what works for you.

Connect To Your Values

People who feel more connected to the company’s mission and feel like their work is valuable or meaningful are more likely to be happy on the job. If you begin to feel like your work is meaningless, look at the big picture: Work for a pharmaceuticals company? Think of the lives being saved. Or, consider how showing up each day aligns with your personal values. The money you earn supports your life outside of work, and whether that’s your family or a hobby, it’s a good reason to keep coming in with a smile.

We’re The Same

It’s easy to put people–colleagues, bosses, clients–into categories. People I don’t like; people I do like. Me vs. them. A simple way to make work relationships more pleasant is by finding common ground. Consider what makes you similar to your co-workers rather than different and the dynamics of the relationship will change. Social interaction play a huge part in your happiness on the job, so it should prove a good investment of your time and energy.

Feel Compassion for a Toxic Boss

The No. 1 reason employees leave a company is because of a bad boss, says Rao. And you’re likely to have worked for one at some time in your life. See a boss for who he or she really is, he advises, and feel compassion for them: “You have to put up with him or her a couple hours a week, and he/she has to put up with themselves their whole life.” Rao suggests picturing a toxic boss as a child having a temper tantrum. When you remember the negativity is all about them, not you, you’ll be better able to shrug it off.

Switch Off Once You Leave Work

You are already at work a third of your time, so do not continue to keep it buzzing in your head during your supposed free time. Mentally say good bye to your work space the moment you leave for home.

Learn to have more fun at work. Laugh more and chill out. Perform with a more fun orientated approach.

Article from Forbes Magazine – Jenna Goudreau

 

As I continue to look at the concepts related to happiness I have found this article from the Daily Om and wanted to share this with the employees of PWT:

April 12, 2011, Bamboo
A Reason to Smile
Five Minutes to Happiness
It can be so easy to get caught up in the rigors of modern life that we tend to forget that happiness need not come with stipulations. Happiness becomes something we must schedule and strive for — a hard-won emotion — and then only when we have no worries to occupy our thoughts. In reality, overwhelming joy is not the exclusive province of those with unlimited time and no troubles to speak of. Many of the happiest people on earth are also those coping with the most serious challenges. They have learned to make time for those simple yet superb pleasures that can be enjoyed quickly and easily. Cultivating a happy heart takes no more than five minutes. The resultant delight will be neither complex nor complicated, but it will be profound and will serve as a reminder that there is always a reason to smile.
So much that is ecstasy-inducing can be accomplished in five minutes. Alone, we can enjoy an aromatic cup of our favorite tea, take a stroll through the garden we have created, write about the day’s events in a journal, doodle while daydreaming, or breathe deeply while we listen to the silence around us. In the company of a good friend or treasured relative, we can share a few silly jokes, enjoy a waltz around the room, play a fast-paced hand of cards, or reconnect through lighthearted conversation. The key is to first identify what makes us dizzyingly happy. If we do only what we believe should bring us contentment, our five minutes will not be particularly satisfying. When we allow ourselves the freedom to do whatever brings us pleasure, five minutes out of 14 wakeful hours can brighten our lives immeasurably.
It is often when we have the least free time or energy to devote to joy that we need to unwind and enjoy ourselves the most. Making happiness a priority will help you find five minutes every day to indulge in the things that inspire elation within you. Eventually, your happiness breaks will become an established part of your routine. If you start by pursuing activities you already enjoy and then gradually think up new and different ways to fill your daily five minutes of happiness, you will never be without something to smile about.