Last week, I had the pleasure of returning to one of my favorite historic sites in California – Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. It’s located in Coloma, CA, approximately 50 minutes east of Sacramento. Its significance lies in the fact that James Marshall discovered gold here in 1848, beginning the California gold rush. The area is beautiful and full of history so both nature lovers and history buffs can find reasons to visit.
If you’re planning a trip this summer, this area of California is certainly worth considering. Here are just a few reasons which hopefully spark an interest:
- It’s considered one of the most significant historic sites in the country
Location of first gold discovery
- You can hike, picnic, and pan for gold
- There are hundreds of artifacts on display including an 1865 Concord Stagecoach
- You can wander through 20 historic buildings and see a replica of the original sawmill
- The drive from Coloma to Auburn is breathtaking (and a little scary)
April 16th, 2013
Earlier this year, I asked my team what my weaknesses were. One of our core values is improvement and I wanted to make sure I picked the most important ones to work on. With help, I concluded impulse control was an area that could use improvement. I tend to move fast and it can rub some people the wrong way. I need to learn to match the pace of others around me. It’s like matching the music to lyrics and slowing down when they do. And learn to pause and wait when dealing with conflict or disagreement instead of shooting off responses too quickly.
Emotional intelligence writing describes people with high impulse control with good patience and anger control who can make careful, rational decisions. A person with low impulse control might indicate poor-decision making capability based on rash judgments or someone who has difficulty controlling anger. The last time I took the test my score for impulse control was good. It said my ability to resist or delay impulses, drives and temptations to act is slightly higher than average. I rarely feel impatient (I might disagree with that) and rarely overreact or lose control.
How would you rate your impulse control? Have you ever been hi-jacked by your emotions and had an outburst? Have you ever overreacted and regretted it? We certainly see it with entertainers and sports stars. Generally, that behavior does not garner respect. The behavior will be remembered instead of your work and it will hurt your relationships.
Ideas to Improve Impulse Control
- Be Less Defensive – Pause instead of react
- Improve empathetic listening
- Don’t send that email or text when emotions are high
- Change your thinking from “what I want now” to “what I want in the future”
- Let emotions be a guide, but not a driver
- Go from reaction to intention
- Awareness: review your recent reactions, identify your behavior patterns, pick new behaviors
- Get rid of the need to be “right”
- Resist the impulse to act
Lacking impulse control can derail your career and seriously hurt your relationships. Taking control of your behavior can lead to much success.
My team suggested I tell the silly story of how I was trying to improve my impulse. I recently went to look at a potential horse to buy. I decided to take the Prius instead of the truck, so I didn’t buy it on the spot. You have to use whatever tactics work for you. I did buy the horse anyway and it was delivered the next weekend.
Have you reacted thoughtlessly and caused damage? Have you made an impulsive decision you regretted? What did you learn? How have you changed that style?
One of the challenges of designing and building exhibits is the interactive. Visitors learn more when they can interact with an exhibit, and if your audience is from an elementary school, having a hands-on experience is required. Kids are tough on exhibits, and they are very tough on interactives. Ideally, we would design every physical interactive (no electricity required) as if it were a piece of playground equipment rated for 150 lbs. However, most clients want the playground equipment left outside, so we design interactives for their exhibits that look better and teach more than playground equipment. And then, after an install, we get client photos of schoolchildren climbing all over what we built. If they could have climbed onto the top of the exhibit wall, they would have.
Audio-visual interactives have a different set of challenges. Fewer moving parts, but much more expensive components. Consumer electronics manufacturers change what models they offer monthly, so the monitor we showed in the design eight months ago may have vanished from the market by the time we need to buy it. Three years after it was installed? You might find it refurbished on eBay. We used to have video interactives play segments from DVDs on an ‘industrial grade’ DVD player costing $800. Now our videos play off of a flash memory card in a digital video player smaller than a paperback book. We’re always seeking out smaller, more dependable equipment. It’s a series of small steps, but when we look back at an exhibit that’s ten years old, I just shake my head at the technology we used. It’s like watching somebody use a portable CD player. Sure, I had one, but the current tech is so much better!
Digital photo frames are very popular, and they seem to be such an obvious idea. We use them more as a graphic that can change than as an interactive, since you can’t trigger them. Unfortunately, they are built better than they are programmed. Our exhibit designers think the frames are capable of much more than they are, so the search is on for a frame that lets the client easily manipulate what is shown. Have you had a good experience with a particular brand of photo frame? Believe me, I’m taking suggestions!
The book Influencer can teach you how to influence others to do something different. Rarely a day goes by when you don’t need the skill to convince someone to do something. Maybe it is as simple as deciding which movie you will watch. Or it can be as complicated as getting a team to get a project done on time, in budget with high quality. How about getting your own behavior to change, like losing weight or spending more time with family? Here are some interesting tips from the book on how to be an influencer.
Identify The Vital Behaviors
Usually a few or one behavior change will lead to the greatest amount of change. Instead of focusing on the results focus on the few behaviors that will help you get the results. They found that the number one behavior change to help people lose weight was to track what you eat every day. People that did this one behavior lost weight and consistently kept it off more than any other behavior. One behavior that helped teams successfully complete projects together was to have a session before the start of the project where everyone could candidly express their concerns.
Identify the Exact Results You Want to Achieve
These results should be measurable. However, even when entering a tough discussion, make sure you know exactly what you want in order for it to not get side tracked.
Ernest Shackleton the Antarctic explorer of the early 1900s once put out an ad that read something like this: MEN WANTED for dangerous trip, brutal cold, low wages and unlikely chance you will come home. He had 5,000 applicants. He was able to paint a picture of an adventure of a life-time. He was going to give them one hell of a personal experience. Paint a story of the potential future in those you are trying to influence and it will encourage change.
At Yellowstone, there were often fatal accidents from visitors stepping off the path into hot pools or getting to close to animals. Most of their signs said things like, “stay on the path” or “don’t get close to the animals.” Once they started to tell stories of the fatal accidents that had happen people started changing their behavior. The number of accidents drastically reduced.
Don’t pummel them with facts and figures, tell them stories. People remember stories.
Give Personal Experiences
When people can see others using the behaviors you want them to use that often helps change the behavior. Take them to a company that uses the techniques you aspire to. Take a diabetic that won’t track their numbers to a ward in a hospital where a diabetic is on lung dialysis. If you can’t take them there show them a video. Look at other groups and look at the differences in behavior.
Other quick tips:
- To change your behavior, teach someone else how to do it.
- Use a friend check on the commitment you made. They just need to ask you how it is going at certain intervals.
- Don’t allow silent consent. If a co-worker is violating rules or protocol don’t silently sit by and let it happen.
- Find opinion leaders that can help you sell the change. Make it cool.
- Connect mundane tasks to your core values. For example, talk to each family member at a gathering because it helps build relationships.
- Make a change fun by turning it into a game. Most people are happier at work than home because work is challenging, engaging and they get feedback. Create this in games.
- Identify the crucial moments when you are apt to fail. Then identify what you can do at crucial moments.
- People are more motivated by losing something than by gaining something.
What do you do to influence people, change or success?
“The greenest thing of all is not to buy or create something new, but to give new life to something that already exists.” – Laurie Faber
Laurie Faber is a co-founder of elise green™ (formerly Greenhouse Design Studio), a haven for information on green living, decorating, and design based in Northern California. The company encourages the ‘green home’ offering tips for small changes that can make a big impact. In addition they also sell a range of great one-of-a-kind, vintage and reclaimed items for the home.
Faber’s quote got me thinking—as designers we are constantly challenged to bring something new and fresh to the table—how can working with what already exists provide an exciting constraint as we create?
We are currently developing a Community Experience Plan (CEP) for our local Rantoul home. One of the ideas proposed is to use elements of the old Chanute Air Force Base buildings in creating an outdoor community space. For example, when the large White Hall gets dismantled, we are proposing to use the existing stone doorframes to create a ‘doorways to the past’ sculpture park. This instillation would provide natural walking pathways that would be incorporated in to the footprint of the building that once existed and provide historical interpretation throughout. It is also being proposed that a large exterior wall be salvaged to create an outdoor amphitheater and projection space, a venue that could serve many purposes— hosting bands, speakers, movie nights, or anything else that the community dreams up!
Finding creative opportunities to make use of the things that already exist is an exciting challenge. What will you do with the resources you have available?