All of life can be reduced to relationships

This is a fundamental principle of life.  Everything comes down to relationships. How we interact with others, and the quality of our relationships, is more indicative of potential success than how smart you are. Those who recognize this and work to maintain positive relationships are more likely to succeed, be healthier, happier, and have less stress in their lives.

For more on this check out the short video below:

Excel – Tip – Filter and Sort

The ability to filter and sort large blocks of data within an Excel spreasheet makes it possible to identify the right information necessary to make data-driven decisions. Excel has a very easy process for turning the entire spreadsheet into a table that can be easily filtered and sorted.  This first tip is the beginning of the process.  I will be sharing others over the next few weeks which will expand on this initial idea.  Trust me, this is a BIG deal and will make you look like a star to your co-workers and boss.  Be sure to watch the follow-up tutorials which expand on this ability.

Whose Fault Is It??

The word: “Whose Fault is it?” should rarely, if ever, come out of your mouth. Very little good comes from laying blame. Blame is the response of poor leadership.  It is indicative of someone who is more interested in self-validation and self-preservation, than success.  Instead of blame, focus on why the problem happened, what led up to it, and how it can be avoided in the future; or fixed so that it doesn’t happen again.

For more on this check ou the short video below:

Seek Opportunities to Present

Shortly out of college, many years ago, I found myself as Pastor of a small congregation in Pennsylvania. In that role I learned a few things which have definitely contributed to my life since then. One of those has to do with public speaking.

Preaching, even to a small crowd, can be intimidating. This is true on so many levels, but the one which crosses over to the student experience is the fact that the more you do anything, the better you typically get at it. Preaching two or three times a week honed my presentation skills. I read additional books on how to preach effectively and practiced different styles. When God led me into higher education I was easily able to transition into the classroom, because I had become comfortable in front of an audience.

The Growth Mindset indicates that while some may have a natural talent for something, like public speaking, anyone can develop skills and abilities to excel and even surpass those with more talent, who refuse to apply themselves. My experience as a Pastor demonstrated the truth of that to me.  But, becoming better at public speaking or anything else requires effort.

That takes me to the title of this post: “Seek Opportunities to Present.” Volunteering to present in class about any subject will do two things, it will continue to improve your ability to make effective presentations, and you will learn the material better, and retain the information longer.  Really, apart from the nerves, it is a win-win proposition.

Smile

Smiling at people will always, always, always have a better outcome than any other facial expression. Mother Teresa said: “I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.”  Studies have shown that people who smile more had longer lasting marriages, better general well-being, lived longer, and were healthier.

For more on this, check out the short video below:

Zoom – Video Conference

You probably are already aware that you have access to a powerful video conference tool from inside Canvas, titled Zoom.  I’ve included a picture of the link.  Zoom is very easy to use and intuitive, meaning that you should be able to use it with only a little trial and error. Below I’m going to discuss Why you might want to use Zoom, and How to set it up and use it.

WHY

I’m going to list several scenarios in which you might benefit from using Zoom:

  • As a way to have team project meetings. One of the barriers to team project meetings is the problem of coming out one more night, or getting to class early. Either option might be impossible. With Zoom, you can set up a team project meeting anytime during the week or weekend that works for your entire team.
  • To record a presentation or tutorial.  Zoom is perfect for recording a presentation or tutorial of some computer application.  Whatever you can see on your desktop can be shown through Zoom and recorded and made available to your classmates or the instructor.
  • To set up an optional (strictly voluntary) class meeting relative to a specific event, e.g. you could set up a Zoom to discuss political debates following the debates while everyone is still fresh.
  • These are only a few ideas, but I’m sure you are getting the idea.

HOW

Starting a Zoom is very easy, all you will need is your Belhaven login and password.  Once you click on the Zoom link you will want to “Host” a meeting after you enter your credentials.  To invite others email them the link.  I’ve included a video below which walks you through the process.

Let me know how it works for you.

Motivation

People are motivated extrinsically, by rewards of various kinds, or intrinsically by how achieving goals makes them feel.  Intrinsic motivation includes feeling appreciated, feeling fulfilled, feeling as if you have contributed to another person’s well-being, feeling like you are making a difference.

Check out the short video below for more on this:

Staying Organized

I am guessing you are busy. Probably VERY busy. Possibly near drowning in busy.  I’ve been there and I have discovered a way to keep myself organized and along the way become extremely efficient.  It starts with a program/application called Todoist.  I’ve recorded a short tutorial about Todoist below which spells out what it can do and shows you the basic screens.  As I mention in the video, I like this program for several reasons:

  1. It is free. While there is a paid version, you don’t really need it.
  2. It is cross platform, meaning I can have it on my desktop on my computer (I always keep a tab open in my browser to Todoist, which I consult several times a day) and on my phone or tablet.  By having it on my phone, I can easily add to it anywhere I’m at and it syncs up with my other versions.
  3. It can connect with Outlook or Gmail or Google Calendar – meaning I can take emails and send them to Todoist
  4. It works with virtual assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistant.
  5. I can easily add repeating events – this is a big plus and one almost impossible to do on a paper list.
  6. It is EASY – this is not a complicated program.  It is extremely easy to use – which means that I actually use it!

The only thing that was difficult in switching from paper lists was committing.  To get the most out of Todoist you need to go “all in.” Once I did that I couldn’t have been happier.  I add to my list easily. I can rank the items on the list for importance.  I check off what I’ve completed, and what I haven’t completed I simply move to the next day.

Check out the video and give it a try – I think you’ll love it!

Using Google Docs/Slides for Team Collaboration

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, collaboration on team projects can be challenging. Getting everyone together to work on the project is part of the problem. Trying to arrange schedules so that all those involved can participate and get on the same page can be difficult if not impossible. When you can’t get everyone together you run the risk of miscommunication and mis-aligned goals and responsibilities, leading to frustration and possible failure.

The other major problem is tracking the deliverables of everyone on the team to make sure they are getting their work done and submitted in a timely manner.  When you can’t track how the other team members are progressing on their part of the project it can create a great deal of anxiety for the rest of the team, and when it is discovered that an important part of the project hasn’t been delivered on time, anger and finger-pointing follow.

Here is a process which I believe will prove effective for moving your team project through to completion.

  1. Once the group members have been identified, agree on one individual to take the point in communication and logistics.  The point person should immediately set up a google doc with the file name Course#-Covenant and invite everyone to share editing privileges with the team.  You can find more on the team covenant in my previous post HERE. The Instructor should also be invited to share the document to view participation by the whole team.
  2. The first week, either meet as a group to discuss the Covenant, or the point person sets up a Zoom conference, using the link in Canvas, with the whole team at an agreed upon time to dicsuss the team covenant and finalize it.
  3. No later than week two the group meets again to parcel out the responsibilities of the group for the project. I would include those at the bottom of the team covenant on the google doc for everyone to see.
  4. Still in week two, the point person should now create a google doc for the project: Course #-Project Name and share it with the group and the instructor.  The point person should also create a google slide for the project: Course #-Project Name.  The google doc will be the working document for those who are writing the paper and doing the research.  The google slide will be the presentation document for the in-class presentation.  The benefit of this document and slide presentation is that it is easy to see who has added what, and when.  It will be easy for the whole group to work on the document/slide at the same time or separately, so everyone will know the status of the entire project at all times.
  5. Each week the point person should set up a regular meeting either in person, or through Zoom, or by chat while in the document or the slide to discuss the progress and potential areas for improvement. If you see someone is not keeping up with their area of responsibility, make sure to call them on it based on the covenant early-on.
  6. Every team member should take responsibility for enforcing the covenant and confronting stragglers. If you follow this process you will not only have a better chance of submitting a superior project, it will also improve your skills in working across a distance on team projects, which can be cited on your resume.

OK, now it is your turn – what does this process miss and what do you recommend as a solution?