Category: Career Development

Career Development: Don’t Be a Quitter!

November 30th, 2015 by


Being successful means learning how to finish well … no matter what!

Ever notice how the beginning of anything new is full of excitement and enthusiasm, but it’s hard to keep excitement and enthusiasm going? Being successful means learning how to finish well … no matter what! It’s part strategy and part willpower. There are always a few obstacles to endure and overcome. Life can’t be all fun and games.

But don’t be a quitter! Here are 8 steps to being an achiever!

  1. Evaluate times that you quit in the past. When are you most likely to give up? What were your reasons for quitting in the past? Can you think of a strategy for getting through those times? Is there a way to avoid them altogether?
  2. Invest your time wisely. Getting caught up in too many meaningless projects won’t improve your ability to finish things. When possible, limit yourself to those things that really interest you. Life is too short for hobbies that make you want to shrug. If you’re passionate about something, you’re much more likely to get it done.
  3. Chart your progress. When you can visually see how much progress you’ve made, you’ll feel more motivated to continue. Make a chart, graph, or other visual representation of the work you’ve completed.
  4. Visualize the expected result. Constantly remind yourself how great you’ll feel when you’re done. Make note of all the benefits you’re receive.
  5. Be realistic. If you haven’t logged several thousand hours of piano practice before your 30th birthday, it’s unlikely you’ll ever reach the level of a world-class pianist. This is especially true if you’re 58 years old, have a family, and only have 30 minutes a day to practice.  However, you can still play! You can still become a better pianist!
  6. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time. You might be making good progress, but if you believed that you should’ve mastered the Russian language by now, you’ll become discouraged. It’s not easy to estimate the amount of time it will take to complete something. Do you have a history of thinking that things will take less time than they actually do? Build a fudge-factor into your estimates. After you’ve make a little progress, revisit your expectations and adjust them accordingly. If you’re enjoying yourself, who cares how long it takes? Once you’re done, the fun is over!
  7. Get better at the small things first. If you’re washing the dishes, avoid leaving that greasy, disgusting pan until morning. Fold all the clothes rather than leaving some of them for later. Clean the entire room. Pay all of the bills. Run the full 3 miles you planned to run.  Get in the habit of finishing all of the tasks in your life.
  8. Be immune to criticism. One of the reasons we stop before completing a project is to avoid criticism. Once it’s done and available for the world to judge, we can get apprehensive. Then we rationalize reasons not to complete it. The people that matter won’t be unkind. The unkind people don’t matter. There’s no way to stop the criticism, but you don’t have to allow it to bother you.

These small tips can be a great help in finishing future projects. If there’s one trait you’ll find in high-achievers, it’s the ability to get things done. Learn how to finish and change your life!

What is Strategy?

November 18th, 2015 by

Time and resources are limited, and lack of strategy is a good way to run out of both before you reach a goal. In this Slideshare, Mark Sniukas defines strategy and walks us through it.

Make your Body Language Work for You

November 16th, 2015 by

A simple way to get respect in the workplace is to make your body language work for you.  With just a few adjustments to how you communicate nonverbally, you can change another person’s perception of you in a positive way.

Here are five tips:

  1. Keep your body language open.  Even though crossing your legs or arms does not mean that you are closed, (it could mean you are simply cold or just feel comfortable sitting or standing that way), people may still think you are “protecting” yourself.  Staying open sends a message that you are confident and in charge.
  2. Take up more space. Whether you’re sitting or standing, position your body in such a way to take up a little more space. Spread your arms and legs slightly. Insecure people tend to do the opposite and attempt to appear small.  Be confident enough to claim the space around you without apologizing for it. 
  3. Mirror the other person. Mirroring is tricky, but it works!  This means you copy how the other person is sitting or standing and match that person and his or her mannerisms. Don’t match them exactly or you will seem a little creepy, but, for example, if someone shifts from closed body language to open, subtly shift your body language as well.
  4. Don’t fidget. When you fidget, you give off a message that you are uncomfortable. Shaking your foot, bouncing your leg, and tapping your fingers are distracting. Instead, be conscious about displaying relaxed, infrequent movements.
  5. Keep your head lifted.  Avoid looking at the ground. If you pause to collect your thoughts, look up instead.  Establish good eye contact with others but don’t stare to the point of making them feel awkward.  Try mentally drawing an inverted triangle around a person’s mouth and eyes, slowly scanning the points of the triangle instead of staring directly into the eyes.

If you aren’t practicing these habits they will feel unnatural at first. However, they won’t appear strange at all to others — they will notice a positive change in you but may not be able to put a finger on exactly what the change is.  Try a new technique each week and practice each day. In just a few weeks, you’ll notice that people are treating you differently.

Career Development: When Should You Provide Constructive Criticism at Work?

November 4th, 2015 by


Constructive criticism can be appreciated and well-received with the right approach.

Constructive criticism is important to performance improvement, and the ability to provide constructive criticism effectively is a true leadership skill. This doesn’t mean we should be evaluating our co-workers all the time so we can give them our opinions on how they can do things better, but there are clues as to when feedback is needed and may be appreciated.

If you’ve always wondered whether the door is open or closed to provide feedback, see if it the situation falls into one of these scenarios:

Someone has asked you for your opinion.

There is an ongoing problem that will not be resolved without helpful feedback.

A co-worker’s error continues to repeat itself.

A co-workers habit is affecting your job performance negatively.

All of the above are signals that the time may be right but don’t approach your co-worker just yet! Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you provide criticism:  

1. Is my intention to be helpful?  Evaluate why you feel like you want to provide feedback.  If it is intended to improve the performance of one of your employees, proceed to the next question.  If it is intended for a peer, there are many things you want to say that are true, but not helpful.  Unless you feel that your feedback will help them reach a goal more easily, improve the way they perform a task to their benefit, or help them understand how their performance is negatively affecting you, keep it to yourself.  

2. Am I the best person to provide the feedback? Consider your history with the other person. They may be more receptive if someone else told them.  Even so, some people do not like criticism of any kind. Be prepared for a negative response.

3. Can I be specific?  It doesn’t help to say, “Wow, you dropped the ball here.”  Specific feedback is constructive feedback.  Are you prepared to discuss where you feel the performance can be improved, and how they can accomplish that?  Otherwise, it’s just criticism.  For example, telling someone they’re lazy is received as an insult. Telling them they are not getting you the data you need to prepare your reports on time addresses the behavior.

4. Am I being sensitive in my approach?   It’s better to give constructive feedback in private.  Be sensitive to minimizing embarrassment the other person may feel. Focus on describing the behavior instead of judging it as good or bad.  Also know when to stop. Pay attention to their reaction.  You can revisit the issue later if they look uncomfortable.

5. Are my emotions under control? If someone dropped the ball or made a mistake, you might have a good reason to feel upset, but your criticism will have a tone of accusation and that will make the other person defensive. Stay calm and give the feedback in a fair and balanced way. Watch your body language.  Avoid inferences – there is something about the person’s behavior that you saw or heard that bothers you but your interpretation of it may be incorrect.  Give the other person a chance to tell you what his or her behavior means.

If you can answer yes to the questions above then you are ready to approach someone with your constructive criticism.  The best way to approach someone is stating your intent so it’s clear from the start.  Some non-threatening lead-ins are:

I have some ideas about  …

I’m concerned about …

Can I share an observation …

Do you have a minute to talk about …

Constructive feedback can be a gift to someone when delivered properly.  Don’t be reluctant to help someone be the best that they can be.  You may be giving them the advice that changes their lives!

Career Development: 5 Ways to Become Less Critical

October 30th, 2015 by


It’s arrogant and delusional to believe that your way is the right way for everyone.

Do you accept people who don’t think and act the way you do, or do you simply tolerate them?  Occasionally we all fall trap to expecting others to behave in certain ways … our ways.  Life, however, is a lot more enjoyable when we can accept others as they are.

Here are five ways to become less critical of others.

1. Watch your thoughts. Everything has a beginning and critical judgments begin with critical thoughts. Noticing them is your cue to change your thinking. Remind yourself to be more accepting.

2. Pause and take a breath. Do you ever wish you could take back something you said?  When you pause, you interrupt your thought pattern and give yourself a chance to think before you say something you might regret.

3. Believe that most people do the best they can with what they know. That’s not to say that everyone is living up to his or her potential. Everyone has a unique past, tragedies, upbringing, health issues, and way of viewing the world. Faced with the same experiences, you can’t be certain you would do any better.

4. Respect the freedom of others. No one elected you to decide how others should live their lives. It’s arrogant and delusional to believe that your way is the right way for everyone. You have the option to live your life the way you choose. Provide the same freedom to others.

5. Release expectation. Having expectations is a form of trying to control others. Become more flexible. When you have expectations, they’re sure to be violated. There’s only one way you can feel at that point: upset.  Let go of your expectations and accept the outcome without judgment.

Remember, if you’re hard on others, you’re probably also hard on yourself. Your self-esteem and happiness suffer. This is a great opportunity to be patient and understanding with yourself as well, and become a happier person!

Sign up to receive tips like these in your inbox every Tuesday. Email Barb at and ask her to subscribe you to the TapRooT® Friends & Experts eNewsletter – a great resource for refreshing your TapRooT® skills and career development.


A Perspective on Failure

October 21st, 2015 by


Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We’ve all been told at one time or another to go after our dreams in life, but what if we give it a shot and fail?  Was it worth it?

Yes it is! It’s absolutely worth it to attempt a goal and fail.  Let’s take a different perspective on failure.

The phoenix must burn to emerge.

- Janet Fitch

It’s important not to give up too quickly but avoid spending too much time on an idea that just isn’t working.  Don’t attach yourself to a sinking anchor. Cut your losses and emerge.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. 

- Winston Churchill

Before you cut your losses and go, be certain the necessary time and resources were utilized. Is there any aspect of the idea or the execution that you can modify and move forward stronger? Always evaluate the reason for the failure before you give up.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

- Henry Ford

Ensure that you don’t put your failures on repeat. You know the definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  Failing loses all of its value if you fail to learn from it.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. 

- Thomas A. Edison

When it’s time to accept failure, at least take the most from it.  List your lessons learned – all 10,000 of them if necessary. From these failures, write in your notebook your discoveries and new ideas.  Mine your failures.

What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?

– John Green

Keep a healthy perspective.  A failed attempt does not mean you are a failure as a person.  Failure is an undesired result. That’s it. It’s no indication of your intelligence, worth, or future attempts. It’s simply an idea that didn’t work out. Detach from your results and move onward.

It here is the last piece of advice on failure: Do not give up until you win!  Now take this new perspective and live out your purpose.


How to Self-Motivate – 10 Ideas

October 14th, 2015 by


It’s time to get busy!

I firmly believe that the difference between a successful person and a non-successful person is the successful one did not quit when faced with an obstacle.  Success is available to everyone but getting ahead of obstacles is a practice in self-motivation.

Here are 10 ideas for self-motivation:

  1. Choose the right attitude. It’s much easier to motivate yourself when you have the right attitude. Focus on the good things in your life that fill you with gratitude.
  2. Don’t stop until it’s finished. A trail of unfinished projects can dampen anyone’s enthusiasm to start another. Avoid quitting before a task is 100% completed.
  3. Expect obstacles. The only people that don’t make mistakes are those who never do anything. The more mistakes you make, the more you’ll learn.
  4. Stay in the present moment. If you’re adding unnecessary drama to a situation and worrying about the future (or beating yourself up over the past), it’s challenging to get anything accomplished right now. Focus on your breathing for a few minutes if your mind is running wild.
  5. Focus on the result. You’ll find it difficult to get started if you sit around and think about all the work that needs to be done. Take a tip from Stephen Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Focus on the result and you’ll feel much more motivated.
  6. Beat the clock. Decide how long a task should take and see if you’re right. Set a timer and see if you can beat the clock. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of getting started. You may end up working way past the timer!
  7. Read inspirational quotes. This is one of my favorites because it works for a quick pick-me-up. Reading inspirational quotes by those who have achieved great success can be very motivating.
  8. Consider the cost. What is the price of failing to follow through? Make a list of the negatives. Some of us are more driven by pain then we are by reward.
  9. Get some exercise. If you’re felling stuck, go for a brisk walk or a short run. Taking a short break every 60 minutes is not a waste of time, it has been shown to increase productivity.
  10. Measure your progress. Big goals or projects can takes years to complete. Measuring your progress along the way is a great way to keep your spirits high. What’s your five-year plan? Slow and steady wins the race!

What do you want to do with the rest of your life? It’s time to get busy!

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