14 Powerful Leadership Traits (That All Great Leaders Have)

Being a leader of a company or organization is certainly a difficult and often frustrating position – but it can also be tremendously rewarding.

Whether you’re just starting out as a leader, or have been leading for a while, you’ll be sure to benefit from knowing the essential traits that all great leaders possess.

Effective and successful leaders transcend the title of ‘manager’ or ‘boss’. They’ve found a way to achieve the perfect combination of charisma, enthusiasm and self-assurance (with a healthy dose of luck and timing probably added to the mix).

It may seem like some people are gifted with leadership skills, but the truth is most leadership traits can be learned, adopted, and strengthened with time and practice.

As we delve into the traits of effective leaders, you will learn more about how you can become one of them.

  • Are leaders born or made?

    During the Cuban missile crisis, when the world faced a potential nuclear catastrophe. President Kennedy’ s leadership and sound judgement pulled us from the brink of an apocalypse.[1] When hearing about such stories it’s easy to assume great leaders like Kennedy has something that most people lack, that great leadership is a quality that some people are born with, and others are not. But that isn’t the case. Everyone has the potential to be a great leader.

    Take Elon Musk for example. He was born into a lower middle class family in South Africa, as a child he was bullied. Now he leads a multi billion dollar organisation, and may have just revolutionized space travel.[2]

    As such I believe anyone can become a great leader, the difficulty is knowing how.

    Fortunately, we’ve made this easy for you, as we’ve listed the essential leadership traits below.

    The 14 most important leadership traits

    Please read through them slowly, and take a note of which of the traits you excel at – and which ones you need to work at.

    Traits for better self-development

    1. Vision and mission

    Having a clear picture of what needs to be achieved is a crucial quality of good leadership.

    This vision is often communicated in a mission statement, such as this one from Starbucks:

    How to develop vision? Spend time pinpointing what you need to achieve, and then plan the steps to get there. Here’s a complete guide on creating your own vision.

    2. Self-motivated

    It’s no coincidence that successful leaders have an abundance of self-motivation.

    Without a decent level of self-motivation, you’ll struggle to become a strong and respected leader. However, if you don’t have a lot of self-motivation right now, don’t despair.

    One of the secrets is to have definite goals to keep you motivated at all times. Some people also choose to reward themselves every time they achieve a goal, and this is certainly a good way to keep yourself enthused and motivated. Learn how to set an ambitious yet achievable goal here.

    3. Optimism and positivity

    Positive energy is contagious. Great leaders are overflowing with this type of energy.

    Not only does a positive mindset make leaders easy to work with, but it also gives them a constant source of inspiration and ideas.

    Tap into this energy by aligning yourself with positive people and positive goals. Learn the habits of positive people here.

    4. Emotional stability

    In leadership positions, frustration and stress are daily occurrences. This is why leaders need to have strong and stable emotions. They can’t allow themselves to be easily knocked off track.

    If you’re prone to losing your emotional stability when stressed or frustrated, try some of these techniques: breath deeply and slowly for 30 seconds, go for a walk, drink some water (instead of tea or coffee), turn your focus onto something you can resolve. Find out more ways to control your emotions effectively here.

    5. Self-confidence

    Watch a presentation by any CEO and you’ll see that even if they’re not natural presenters – they make up for this by having powerful self-confidence.

    It’s not just CEOs who have self-confidence, any successful leader will have this trait in abundance. One reason for this, is that only a confident person can persuade others and gain their respect.

    Worried that you have low self-confidence? Try faking it. Psychologists often recommend that if you ‘act’ at being confident, you’ll start to look, sound and feel like you ARE confident. And in time… you will be. Learn more about boosting self-confidence from the confidence coach.

    6. Decisiveness

    Leaders are frequently called upon to make decisions (some leaders may have to make dozens of decisions every day). In fact, you could say that making decisions is one of the key things a leader must do.

    Spend some time observing highly-successful leaders and you’ll see that they are quick to make decisions. They also enjoy making decisions, rather than stressing out like many non-leaders do when they’re asked to decide on something.

    Put yourself in the leadership bracket by developing your decision-making skills. Start with small decisions – and then work your way up to bigger and more difficult decisions. Once other people notice your decision-making prowess, they’ll automatically see you as leadership material. Check out the guide on how to make good decisions every time.

    7. Passion and enthusiasm

    Expressive. Active. Energetic. These are words best describe a passionate leader.

    Great leaders are lively, driven and are possessed with zeal and purpose. It’s this passion that helps them achieve big results. If you want to emulate their success, then you need to develop passion and enthusiasm for the work at hand, and the end goals.

    Take a look at this Passion Pyramid to find out how importance a leader’s passion is to the team:

    One way to do this is to find what motivates you, and keep your focus firmly on that. For example, i f you’re motivated by helping others, then make sure your role and company are both suited to realizing this. If you’re motivated by money, then put your focus on achieving bonuses and pay rises.

    Take a look at Leo Babauta’s guide on how to find your passion.

    8. Accountability and responsibility

    Exceptional leaders know that at all times they’ll need to take responsibility for tasks and their results. This includes things likes individual and team performance, as well as being accountable for when things go wrong.

    When negative things occur (and you can guarantee they will from time-to-time), a great leader will immediately step in and take responsibility. Initially, they’ll try to resolve the problem in as quick and smooth a way as possible. But if this is not feasible, they’ll be sure to say that the buck stops with them – and they take full responsibility for what has happened.

    To develop your leadership skills, you must never shy away from responsibility or accountability. If you prefer to sweep mistakes under the carpet, then you’re demonstrating non-leadership traits. Try owning up to issues and finding solutions to them. By doing this, you’ll immediately gain people’s respect.

    Find out some tips on how to be a more responsible person here.

    9. Focus

    Distractions are everywhere. And it takes major focus to stay committed to tasks and goals. The best leaders understand this, and therefore, they’re always looking at ways to boost their team’s focus.

    One way leaders do this, is to keep their team intensely focused on the bigger picture. This might entail allocating specific time for tasks and eliminating any non-essential work.

    If you’re easily knocked off track, you’ll need to spend some time boosting your focus. Try planning your day, week, month and year to help ensure that you don’t fall behind with achieving your goals. Check out the 7 strategies of staying super focus recommended by a productivity coach.

    10. Ever-learning

    Leaders know that to be successful they need to continually update their skills and knowledge. They deliberately learn all they can about their profession and industry, so they’ll able to make confident and assured decisions.

    Why is ever learning so important? I’ll leave it to you to find out the reason here: If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

    Imagine a CEO of a solar power company. His company may have amazing solar panels, but when it comes to discussing business with potential buyers, if the CEO or his sales team show a lack of understanding about the solar industry and future trends, etc., they’ll be unlikely to win any business.

    It’s exactly the same for you. If you’re a team leader at an electronics store, you should make sure you fully understand all the products that you offer. But go beyond just that, and read about upcoming products and trends that might change what customers are interesting in buying in the future.

    Traits for Effective Communication

    11. Empathy

    The best leaders understand the feeling of their team members, customers and associates. They know when to praise, and when to discuss problems (usually in private).

    Without empathy, leaders will be seen as cold, harsh and lacking understanding. They’re also likely to be regarded as untrustworthy.

    One way to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is to have regular informal discussions with your colleagues. When you do this, you’ll quickly learn their fears and desires. And when you understand why they have these – you’ll be in a position to express empathy. You can also learn to be more sensitive to others’ needs by taking up these communication skills.

    12. Persuasive and influential

    Communications are at the heart of all transactions. Whether it’s pitching for a sale or resolving a customer complaint, how you communicate will determine the outcome.

    Charismatic leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are confident and persuasive communicators. They know how to win over audiences and leave a lasting impressing in people’s minds.

    There’re some common barriers that you’ll have to overcome in order to communicate effectively:

    How to learn effective communication? You could join the world-renowned U.S. nonprofit Toastmasters International. They’ve been training people in the art of public speaking since 1924, and members have included Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, and Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.

    If you don’t have time to join a club, then practice your communications skills at home. You can do this in front of a mirror, or even better, video yourself presenting, and then ask some friends and family members for feedback. You’ll be amazed at what they pick up on.

    Traits for ensuring an engaging team

    13. Team building

    If you put a bunch of random people together, you may have a loose definition of a team. In reality, a real team has purpose, drive – and a leader lighting the way.

    If you’ve worked in different teams and with different managers, you’ll no doubt have come to this conclusion:

    Managers who treat their team members like children are unpopular with the team. Conversely, managers who treat their team members like adults, are respected and well-liked by the team.

    The days of disciplinarian managers are passed. Nowadays, successful team leaders know how to inspire and motivate their team, while keeping a harmonious atmosphere between all team members.

    14. Fostering creativity

    Solutions to problems are rarely black and white. Often it takes a leader who can ‘think outside the box’ to come up with answers. In other words, a leader must be creative, and also help to foster creativity and innovation throughout their team.

    Creativity is not only associated with pursuits such as arts, literature and music, running a team can be just as creative. There will be times every day when you need to come up with ideas and give guidelines for your team to come up with theirs to solve problems.

    Leadership is an amazing experience that will take you on roads you’ve never traveled before. Begin now to build your skills and experience, pick out the traits that you currently lack – and then work on developing those. It will take tons of practice and time before becoming an effective leader but eventually you will join the ranks of great leaders.

    Featured photo credit: unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Harvard Business Review: How John F. Kennedy Changed Decision Making for Us All
    [2] Biography: Elon Musk

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    The 6 Stages You Experience When You Try to Change Your Behaviors

    There’s no doubt about it – change is tough. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle! In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model: stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

    You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

  • What is the Stages of Change Model?

    Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

    Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

    Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

    Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

    Stage 1: Precontemplation

    At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

    For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

    Stage 2: Contemplation

    At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

    You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

    The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

    Stage 3: Preparation

    At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

    Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

    Stage 4: Action

    When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

    Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

    Stage 5: Maintenance

    After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

    Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

    Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

    Stage 6: Termination

    Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

    However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

    How long does each stage take?

    You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

    So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

    The limitations of this model

    The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

    Require the ability to set a realistic goal

    For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

    If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

    Difficult to judge your progress

    The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

    Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

    The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others. Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards? Good luck!

    Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

    Reference

    [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
    [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
    [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
    [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
    [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
    [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
    [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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    Know The 5 Stages Of Sleep For Better Rest

    sleep-stages

    We get it. There’s nothing better than an extra 30 minutes of sleep on a warm, cozy bed.

    But did you know that it could actually make you more tired?

    I know, it sounds counterintuitive. More sleep = more tired doesn’t seem like an equation that makes sense, but hear me out.

    After launching my language learning company, Rype, my sleep was completely out of wack. Some nights I would only get 2-3 hours of sleep, while other nights I would get 10, and still feel exhausted. If you can relate, I hope to share the 5 different stages of sleep we all experience, and some actionable tips to help you sleep better!

    The 5 Stages of Sleep

    It turns out that there are 5 major sleep stages that we all go through during the night. Starting with…

    Stage 1 (NREM)

    In this first stage, you’re in a NREM (non-rapid eye moment) stage. This is when you’re floating in and out of consciousness. It’s that moment when you feel awake but you also notice your mind is drifting away. You may also feel your muscle jerk that wakes you up into consciousness, also known as hypnic myoclonia.

    Stage 2 (NREM)

    Stage 2 is when you start to enter the lighter phases of sleep. About half of our sleep time is spent during this NREM stage. This is when your muscle and heart rate begins to relax, and your brain slowly dwindles down.

    Stage 3 & 4 (NREM)

    These next two stages are combined as they have very similar effects on your sleep, called slow wave sleep (SWS). This is known as the deepest part of the sleep cycle, and one must not be woken up during this stage. If you’ve ever been abruptly woken up in a groggy state, you were probably experiencing slow wave sleep.

    The other reason why SWS is vital is because the body rejuvenates itself during this stage. Growth hormones are released, which is used to heal muscle and tissues, and provides important oxygen and nutrients to the body.

    Fun fact: these are also the stages when children (or adults) experience sleep walking and bedwetting.

    Stage 5 (REM)

    This is the final stage of the sleep cycle, and the only stage where you experience REM (rapid eye moment) sleep. While we only spend 20% of our time during this stage, it’s when the brain is most active. It’s likely the most important stage as well because the brain is revitalized for daytime functioning.

    The majority of our dreams are also occuring in this final stage of sleep, and the brain waves appear as if we’re awake.

    How to Improve Your Sleep Quality

    The real question is, how do we actually sleep better? I’ve spent hundreds of dollars and hours experimenting with different solutions, and these are the best tips I have found to be helpful.

    1. Block blue light

    In the digital world we live in today, the majority of poor sleep quality is due to what’s known as blue light. Studies show that we spend on average 10.5 hours a day in front of our screens (i.e. smartphones, TV, laptops) [1]. Each of these screens emit harmful blue light that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormone. In short, this tricks our brain to feel ‘awake’ when we should be in relaxed mode.

    The best way to combat this effectively is to invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) that you can wear while you work, and 90 minutes before you sleep.

    Recommended: iGOTHAM Eyewear

    2. Adjust your room temperature

    Sleep experts have shown that room temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for the best sleep. A room with extreme temperatures leads to more frequent awakenings and lighter sleep.

    This can be extremely difficult if you have a sleeping partner, which is why I recommend Chilipad. It’s a heating and cooling pad that you place underneath your bedsheets. Best of all, you can place it just on your side of the bed so you can customize the best temperature for you, without disturbing your sleeping partner.

    Recommended: Chilipad

    3. Optimize for REM sleep

    Given how important REM sleep is in our sleep stage, we should optimize our sleep time around it. The best way to do that is to

    It turns out that our sleep cycle contains a REM stage every 90 minutes. That means if you know when you want to wake up (ex. 6 am), then you want to work backwards in 90 minute increments to find out when to sleep.

    If your goal is to wake up at 6 am, then you will likely need to fall asleep at 10:30 pm or 12:00 am to meet the 90 minute rule. You can also use a sleep calculator to make this process more automated.

    Recommended: Sleepyti.me (sleep calculator)

    Next steps

    I hope this was useful for those of you that struggle with getting quality sleep in your life. As someone who has struggled with insomnia, these tips are dear to my heart.

    Like many of you, I procrastinated on taking action in improving my sleep. But I can tell you from personal experience the positive impact it has had in my life, once I put these tips into action.

    My recommendation is to try out at least one of these tips. Once you notice the positive effects in your sleep, you can try another, and so forth.

    If you are a struggling night owl, read here to learn tips on how to get more rest.

    Reference

    [1] IGOTHAM: Our Story

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    Why Giving up Is Not an Option (And How to Stay Motivated)

    We all get them – those feelings of doubt, fear, lack of self-confidence and lack of self-belief. Whatever it is we want to achieve in life, no matter how much we want it, there will always be times when you hit a challenging period, your motivation hits a wall and you feel like giving up.

    When difficult times do stop you in your tracks, you need a way to push through, learn and understand what it is that’s truly demotivating you, what your mindset is telling you about the way you deal with challenges and coming out the other side a strong, successful person.

    In this article you’ll learn that tough times make even the most motivated person consider giving up and this is completely normal. That despite the overwhelming feeling of wanting to just give up, it’s actually the most important time not to.

  • What creates your desire to give up

    Identifying the reasons why giving up seems like the best option is so important. There are many reasons why people want to give up and each is driven by different motivations. However, there are a few human instincts that come into play here.

    • Mistaking lessons for failure: Not being able to see the roadblock for the lesson it is and keep going anyway.
    • The outcome is more important than the journey: Putting more emphasis on the end result and dismissing the importance of how you’re getting to the end goal and growing along the way.
    • Seeing the failure before it’s even happened: Self-sabotaging yourself by creating the thought that it just won’t happen. This is usually down to limiting beliefs and lack of self-belief.
    • Lack of discipline: Realizing that achieving your dream won’t just fall into your lap within a few weeks but will actually take hard work and determination.
    • Not adjusting to changes: Not embracing changes in direction, the need to tweak ideas or finding things evolve differently to how you originally imagined it and taking it as a sign it’s not meant to work out, are showing you that you’re not open to changes and the natural evolution to something even more amazing.

    People often say, the moment they almost decided to give up was the moment just before they had a breakthrough. While demotivation, failure and giving up feels horrible, there’s a reason for this; it’s because you’re giving up on something that deep down you know is possible. 

    Why you should think twice about giving up

    The power lies with your mindset and shifting this is key to keeping up the motivation you need when the going gets tough. This is why it’s important to realize why you shouldn’t give in and give up.

    Instant success is a myth

    It is a generation of instant gratification which creates the illusion that everyone needs what they want. People look at other successful people and assume they got overnight success but in reality it took hard work and a lot of failing to get where they did. Most never see the journey but only the destination, and they fall in love with this idea that they don’t need to work hard to get it.

    Understand this is a myth. Don’t be deterred by this because actually the journey is where the magic happens and makes your end goal ever more sweet.

    A different approach maybe needed

    People judge themselves so harshly and assume that they are just not capable if they seem to be failing at something they want. It could simply be resolved by trying a different approach.

    People are often so focused on the end goal and believe there’s just one or two ways to get there. In fact there may be a hundred more avenues that their mind isn’t opening up to.

    Open up and change your perspective. Are there other ways you can do it that feels better to you?

    You’ll always wonder ‘what if’

    That feeling of regret can hit you hard. What if I’d just stuck with it? I could have achieved it by now. What if I hadn’t given up, how different my life would be?

    While regret is the number one thing you shouldn’t waste your time doing, before you quit your dream just imagine how your life could transform and where you could be in a year, two years or five years.

    Don’t give your future self the chance to become regretful because of the one decision you make in the present moment.

    You could be quitting right before your success

    Many times, when people give up, they’re actually just a step away from success like this:

    The toughest times are a precursor to a major breakthrough to success. Think of it as being tested just to make sure this is exactly what you want.

    Decide yes, I still want this more than ever! You’re pretty much saying yep, give it to me now I deserve this after all I’ve done and this is usually the time it happens. Keep going! It’s all about trust that it’s going to work out.

    It’ll happen again and again

    Do you find yourself quitting things a lot? Human’s mindset and thought patterns play out throughout the life if we don’t identify and change them. Don’t think, ‘I’ll have another go in a year’s time’ because you are really likely to repeat exactly the same pattern again.

    It’s important to sit down with yourself and identify why you have a tendency to give up. This may feel uncomfortable and you may feel resistance to doing the process. But once you actually work through your limiting beliefs, they can be released really quickly and therefore help you to create more success in your life.

    Struggle does not equate to failure

    We’ve been led to believe en mass that struggle is something to be ashamed of. It’s somehow a negative representation of our core character and ability to move through the world. I’m here to tell you it’s not. Never think of hard times as failure. In fact, just take failure out of your vocabulary. Stop caring about what others think and just know and believe you are capable of getting through it and coming out the other end.

    Struggle actually builds character. It’s there to serve you – to help you learn something you’ll need to use later on. Stop assuming struggle is negative but see it as a blessing on your road to awesome success.

    How to stay motivated

    The thing people tend to forget when all they want to do is give up is that failure doesn’t fix anything. Maybe for a moment you’ll feel relief because you no longer have to face that challenge, but the satisfaction will be fleeting. The misery you were experiencing will be back, one way or another.

    The real challenge you’re experiencing in that moment is your own weakness manifesting in a physical form. When you accept that you aren’t worthy or good enough, that’s the mind set you will keep.

    No matter what challenge you are facing (be it work or play) you will struggle with maintaining your optimism, dedication and will power because you haven’t addressed the real issue: yourself.

    Imagine the Great Challenge as a big rock in front of you.

    If you choose to give up, you work around the stone just to go around it.

    Yet the fastest way to get over it is to break this big rock and go right through it.

    It’s the same with your weaknesses. You could continue to adjust your life to fit your fears (i.e. no longer job-hunting because you’ve accepted you will always fail), or you could keep sending out applications and calling to follow up and schedule interviews.

    No matter how great the challenge is, breaking it down is a must.

    In order to truly stay motivated, no matter how great the challenge is, you’ve got to learn to break the Great Challenge down.

    To truly overcome your weakness, you need break down the big rock into smaller pieces and deal with the small stones piece by piece.

    Right now it may seem impossible. It may seem like this is the hardest thing you will ever go through. But remember how often your threshold changes.

    Below are some tips that can help you take those first steps in keeping your chin up and truly facing the difficult choices in your life:

    1. Figure out what you lack

    No matter what the challenge you’re facing may be, there’s a reason it’s challenging to you. If it’s a job, why is it you aren’t getting hired? Go back through the job listings and skills required and find the common thread your resume doesn’t have. Is it not listed because you don’t have it? If so, work on doing something to give you that skill. Be it an online course or a volunteer project, do something to help push you closer to the “perfect candidate.”

    2. Be patient with yourself

    No one becomes a CEO overnight. If you have big dreams, you’re going to have to do big work to accomplish them. It’s okay to take time figuring out the best way to proceed, but it’s not okay to walk away because it’s challenging.

    3. Be proud of yourself for every small win

    Have you ever noticed how a small mistake can weigh on you for days? Whether or not you categorize yourself as a dramatic person doesn’t matter when it comes to the guilt we so often put upon ourselves. But when we make small strides in achieving our goal(s), we never seem to give ourselves much respect.

    When we fail to pat ourselves on the back for little victories, it decreases our motivation and makes it much harder to achieve big goals.[1]

    4. Remember that you aren’t the first to feel this way

    When we face difficult choices or events in our lives, we often forget that we are not the first/only/last to experience this. Everyone faces hard decisions – be it deciding to end a relationship, changing careers, moving to a different place and leaving friends behind. We all go through it.

    So don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends or family for a sounding board. In some cases, they may even be able to offer you advice you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

    5. Know that you will grow as a person just from going through it

    We build character through those hard times. The old cliche, “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” is true. When you go through something challenging, you learn from it, regardless of the outcome. Recognize the opportunities for learning and personal development.

    6. Remember that you have choices

    No matter how hard the challenge you’re facing may be, one of the best things you can focus on is that you have choices. Only you can decide how you handle something and the steps you take. More so, only you can decide how you take the next step.

    You have the power to stand in your own way and to get out of it. Allow yourself to stay motivated by choosing to be stay motivated.

    Choose to see obstacles as lessons. Ask yourself, what is this showing me? What is it bringing up for me? In most cases, they’re there to point you in a direction you’ve previously not considered. Trust in this and keep going.

    Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via vecteezy.com

    Reference

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    24 Best Habit Tracking Apps (2018 Updated)

    Everyday our lives are governed by habit. These habits are the little routines and small ways of doing things. Most people are unaware or are only slightly aware that they’re doing them.

    Some habits, like smoking, can have harmful effects on your health; others like procrastination can affect your work and career.

    Therefore it’s important to take back control. This can be extremely hard, some habits after all are so ingrained that we do them without thinking. Luckily there are many habits tracking apps available especially designed to help you tackle your bad habits.

    1. Momentum Habit Tracker

    This app has a number of great features which makes it ideal for keeping track of habits and routines.

    One of the most interesting features is that with Momentum, you can import your data into an Excel document, which allows for cross platform viewing of your progress. On top of this you’re able to set weekly targets and take notes allowing you to easily take control of your habits.

    But unlike many apps on this list, Momentum is optimized exclusively for apple devices and as such, you won’t find it on Android which is unfortunate. However a benefit of this exclusivity is that your profile on Momentum can be easily integrated on the iCloud.

    Download: iOS

    2. Habitica

    Habitica is extremely creative in its approach to tracking and maintaining good habits. It is inspired by RPG video games, each task you complete will level up your customized avatar giving you an extra incentive to stay motivated.

    Its unique video game inspired design makes keeping track of your habits and goals fun.

    The app isn’t limited to just habit tracking, but with it you can join your friends and complete quests and missions. It’s not just video game inspired, but is a game in itself.

    But those who aren’t interested in video games may not prefer Habitica.

    Download: iOS and Android

    3. Productive Habit Tracker

    Productive’s simple, but well designed interface makes keeping track of your habits simple. It is intuitively designed, with it, you’ll be able to starting planning in seconds.

    Though it is simple in its design, it is full of great features, and best of all. The app keeps track of your successes, meaning you’ll be able to measure your continuing improvement and stay motivated.

    Download: iOS

    4. StickK

    StickK was developed by behavioral economists at the prestigious Yale University. On signing up, you create a commitment contract with yourself and the app to reach your goals, you can even bet money on yourself.

    For added motivation, you can assign a friend or family member to check your data to ensure you’re on your way to reaching your goals.

    The unique commitment contract idea could be a brilliant way to stay motivated. This aspect is backed by great research, the app is based on the principles of Thaler’s nudge theory

    On top of everything, the app has an eye catching and interesting layout.

    Download: iOS and Android

    5. Habitshare

    Habitshare blends a social networking site with a habit tracker, allowing you to grow habits with friends.

    The social options are well done and relatively uncommon, and unlike others with a social networking options, there is a messaging options allowing you to communicate with friends in real time. This allows you to motivate your friends, or be motivated by them, with it your goals become team efforts. You can also disable the social aspect and keep things private.

    However, Habitshare doesn’t allow you to schedule tasks to be done on a monthly basis, which may be useful if you usually schedule monthly bill paying.

    Download: iOS and Android

    6. MindSet: The Good Habit App™

    Mindset, has a warm, friendly layout that is easy to understand and use.

    Though many apps have a journal system, Mindset brings it to the front and center which is useful if you know that there will be many things to remember.

    Currently the app is only available to registered users of Mindset which is offered with membership to certain groups and organisations.

    Download: iOS and Android

    7. Streaks

    This apple design award winner is built around encouraging you to maintain a 12 day streak of a good habit, as such it is a great way to stay motivated.

    The interface is extremely customizible, as such, you can make it suit you and your tastes.What’s more it can be easily integrated with Health app, one of the most popular apps on the IOS. Used together, you’ll be able to develop healthy habits with ease. If you’re falling behind, the app will send you a reminder, and keep you on target.

    Download: iOS

    8. Habit List

    Habit List is all about developing and maintaining a streak of beneficial habits.

    It is great at tracking your habits over a long period of time, enabling you to easily make sense of your progress in a way that is easy to read and understand.

    If you have a complicated schedule, or want to complete specific tasks on specific days, you can easily set a calendar of activities to complete, and view them accordingly.

    Download: iOS

    9. Balanced

    Balanced is designed to help you keep track and measure your sleeping patterns, your exercise, and time you spend sitting, encouraging you to develop healthier habits.

    Unlike many apps, Balanced is completely focused on healthy habits. It gets you to be concentrated on only three activities at a time so you won’t be overwhelmed.

    Download: iOS and Android

    10. Simple Habit Tracker

    Don’t be fooled by its name, simple habit tracker is one of the more interesting habit trackers and is packed with interesting features.

    If you’re looking for inspiration, the app comes with over 200 pre-designed habits to get you started. One of the most appealing things is the s beautifully designed and eye catching interface.

    Download: iOS

    11. Habitbull

    Habit-bull is one of the most feature-rich habit tracker apps and it’s detailed recording system means you’ll be able to get detailed information about your progress.

    If you’re aiming to increase your fitness, Habitbull can be integrated with GoogleFit.

    If you’re worried about losing your data, don’t worry it can all be backed up on the cloud, meaning you’ll never need to worry about losing track of your data.

    But anyone who’s looking for a more simple habit tracker may find this one complicated.

    Download: iOS and Android

    12. Strides Habit Tracker

    Strides Habit Tracker is a good all rounder, with all you expect from a great habit tracker and more.

    The app is quick and easy to use, so you’ll be able to start developing great habits right away. If you plan to complete a set number of tasks for a specific date, the app calculates if you’re on track to complete it on time, enabling you to tailor your habits around your goals.

    Download: iOS

    13. Coach.me

    Coach.me comes with all you might expect from a quality habit tracking app, with the extra unique feature of being able to hire either a habit coach or even a leadership coach for extra costs.

    The coach hiring feature, if you can afford it, has the potential of having a radical impact on your goals and productivity. There are two options, leadership coaching and habit coaching, so you’ll be able to get the training you need.

    Download: iOSAndroidWeb Browser

    14. 42 Goals

    42 Goals is quite simple in its design, but comes with many of the features you’d expect. Unlike many similar apps, it is optimized mostly for web browsers. The website has an online community allowing you to share your progress with friends.

    Currently it is neither on IOS or Android, but they are in development, so stay tuned!

    Get started: 42goals.com

    15. Habit – 21 day routine

    Habit – 21 day routine is built around the principle that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, as such, it encourages you to maintain a new habit over 21 consecutive days.

    The app’s layout is beautifully designed. The idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit is supported by research, as such it is possible you’ll find it extremely beneficial.

    The app limits you to one habit at a time, with extra costs attached to additional habits. And at the moment there seems to be no free version

    Download: iOS

    16. Chains.cc

    Chains.cc is fairly unique in its approach, each time you stick to your habit, your chain grows, helping you stay motivated.

    The app has a beautiful and intuitive interface. Most importantly, it can be used both online and off, allowing you to keep track of your habits wherever you are

    This is not a free app but it is relatively inexpensive.

    Download: iOS

    17. Done

    Done gives you the ability to track an activity multiple times a day, on top of this, the app is full of the features you’d expect from a great habit tracker.

    With the app, you can easily track habits you want to build up, and ones you want to slowly eliminate. Unlike many other apps, it features a number of customization options making it suit your tastes.

    The Premium version (paid) even allows you to export your habit data as a CSV file or on Dropbox.

    Unless you upgrade to premium, you can only track 3 habits on the basic version.

    Download: iOS

    18. Good Habits

    Good Habits offers many great ways to track the progress of your habits thanks to its smart design.

    The app enables you to look at the precise data of your habits and chains. Enabling you to check your progress with ease (paid version).

    It can be used with Apple Watch and the Today Widget for extra usability.

    Unfortunately, there ultimately is not too much to set it apart from other apps. But if you like the way it looks, you might have a great time.

    Download: iOS

    19. Habitify

    Habitify is bold in its design, and is both sleek and easy to use, and complicated and detailed.

    Habitify allows you to keep focused boy showing you the habits and jobs needed to do sooner first, making it ideal for busy people. Detailed graphs and statistics show you all you need to know about your progress and your habits.

    It can also be seamlessly synchronized across all you iOS devices.

    It is relatively low on customization options, but if this isn’t a problem for you, you’ll find a lot to love

    Download: iOS

    20. Sessions

    Sessions is a well designed app great for timing your activities and habits.

    It is visually pleasing to look at thanks to its uncluttered interface. It allows you to set specific amounts of time to perform each activity, you’ll be able to carefully plan and structure your day and routine. You can also track your progress as you develop your habits and routines for maximum efficiency.

    Download: iOS

    21. Morning Routine Habit Planner

    Morning Routine allows you to focus on one habit at a time, ensuring you stay focused.

    It can be used in conjunction with Siri, for hands free use, a rare and useful feature.

    The app includes inspiring advice from influential and successful people, which is a great motivator.

    Download: iOS

    22. Persistence

    Persistence has many ways to make you stay motivated. The app tells you when you are on or off target for completing your goals enabling you to correct yourself and succeed.

    Being able to quickly tell when you are off and on target is extremely useful, ensuring you’ll always know when are where to push yourself or relax. As well as this, there are numerous other options and ways to track your goals.

    It also allows you to enter notes about your progress and habits to ensure you remember all you need.
    It has a $1.99 price tag with no free version. But it’s still less than a cup of coffee!

    Download: iOS

    23. Rabbit, Habit Reminders

    Rabbit is a way to set yourself regular reminders to help you maintain your good habits and routines. If you are looking for a simple way to set reminders, you’ll find a lot to like here.

    However, it lacks many of the features common in other habit tracking apps, such as the ability to make notes and keep a log of your successes or failures making it difficult to tell how you are progressing.

    Download: iOS

    24. Way of Life

    Way of Life advertises itself as the “ultimate habit building app” and you can see why. It comes laden with features to ensure you are in control of your habits and routines.

    On first use, users are presented with an interactive tutorial, to ensure they quickly know how to understand and use all the key features, including: the ability to share your progress on your social media profiles, export your data as an Excel file or CSV file, archive your completed goals for a full record of your success.

    Some may find the layout complicated, however this is mitigated thanks to the tutorial.

    Download: iOS and Android

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    Leadership vs Management: Is One Better Than the Other?

    Being an excellent manager doesn’t make someone a strong leader. We’ve all run into someone who uses the titles interchangeably, and it can be frustrating.

    Knowing the difference leadership vs management helps you understand your role in your organization. By recognizing the difference, you can sharpen your abilities so that you can reach your fullest potential. Knowing what separates managers and leaders can also help you figure out how to achieve the best balance of leadership and management qualities.

    In this article, I will explore the similarities and differences between leaders and managers, and help you figure out how to get the best of both worlds.

  • What are leadership and management?

    A leader’s power comes from their ability to get buy-in from others. They use their influence to challenge norms and guide innovation. As Drucker implies, leaders sometimes bend the rules to spur change. Peter Drucker aptly puts it:[1]

    “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers. To gain followers requires influence but doesn’t exclude the lack of integrity in achieving this.”

    Managers ensure that employees conform to standards and adhere to policies. They make sure that the goals of their leaders are carried out. They are capable and responsible, but their contribution to organizations is strictly by-the book.[2]

    Key differences between leadership and management

    Focus on goals and vision vs. Focus on tasks

    Leaders are oriented toward their company’s vision and goals. They look at the big picture and come up with new ways to actualize their vision.[3] When leaders try new things, they always tie their ideas back to the company’s mission.

    Managers are task-masters. While they may care about an organization’s vision, their job is to stick to policy. Managers carry out the big ideas for their organization’s leaders.

    Sell it vs. Tell it

    Since leaders are always on the cusp of innovation, they have to convince others that their ideas are worthwhile. Remember, they gain their authority by encouraging others to buy into their line of thinking.

    On the other hand, managers don’t have to sell an idea because their role is to enforce policies. If someone steps out of line, they can fall back on procedures. Employees do as their managers tell them.

    Take risks vs. Minimize risks

    Anytime you try something new, you must take a risk. Leaders take risks by default because they often push for change.

    Managers are put in place to keep risks to a minimum. They make sure that workers are doing what they’re supposed to do in the manner the company tells them to. When problems arise, a manager may take the problem to leadership to amend policies.

    Encourage vs. Instruct

    The lines between management and leadership blur here depending on how the manager approaches their duties. Ultimately, leaders offer encouragement to employees to think outside the box and see the big picture.

    Managers usually have clear guidelines about different aspects of their workplace. They may provide encouragement, but their main job is to tell you how things are supposed to be done. They’re the person you turn to when you want to figure out the best way to do your job.

    Go against the grain vs. Go with the flow

    Leaders need to challenge the status quo or else their organization risks stagnation.[4] They try new things to see if they can be more effective. They work to align company policies with the company’s vision.

    Managers, on the other hand, maintain the status quo. They’re doing their best work when they are enforcing the guidelines set out by the leaders.

    Motivate vs. Approve

    When you try new things, your risk of failing increases. Leaders must be motivated, and they’re great at keeping others motivated. They tie everything they do back to the company’s vision. When a company has a strong vision, a leader can use it as a rallying point for inspiring employees.

    When you’re managing people, your main objective is to decide if something passes muster. Managers look at their subordinates’ actions and determine whether they meet the standards set out by the company.

    Break the rules vs. Follow the rules

    Leaders have to play fast and loose with the rules to get ahead. Rules are often too rigid to allow for innovation, which means that leaders frequently bend them. When a company or organization is badly broken, leaders may disregard the rules entirely.

    If a manager wants to keep their job, they stick to the strategies set out by superiors. Bending and breaking the rules undermines their position, which can weaken the company.

    Inspire trust vs. Expect control

    When someone is guiding you through uncharted territory, you must have a certain level of trust in them. A strong leader is excellent at inspiring trust to take people to places they’ve never been.

    Managers’ authority rests in their ability to have control outright. You don’t have to like or trust your manager to do what you’re told. Managers expect and need control to do their job well.

    Foster ideas vs. Assign tasks

    Leaders thrive on making improvements by trying new things. They foster new ideas and free thinking because this supports their aims. They know that if they can encourage more people to think outside the box, the collective brainpower of the group will drive more innovation.

    Managers can’t encourage free thinking because they wouldn’t be able to fulfill company expectations. Telling people what to do is the only way they can ensure that employees will do what they’re supposed to in the way they’re supposed to do it.

    Is one better than the other?

    As you may have noted, there are some stark differences between leaders and managers, but leadership and management are complementary.

    Leaders are risk-taking, innovating, game-changers. Managers are by-the-book maintainers of the status quo. That doesn’t mean that it’s better to be one or the other.

    Companies need managers and leaders to run smoothly. A lack of management puts organizations at risk for falling out of compliance and not meeting goals. A lack of leadership leads to a stagnant and uninspired workforce.

    Leaders and managers may exist at opposite ends of a spectrum when it comes to authority, but they’re on the same team. A leader can have a grand vision, but without managers to carry it out, the vision won’t be realized. Managers have to adhere to standards, but if they aren’t inspired by leadership, they won’t be able to share their vision with the workforce.

    How to strike the balance between leadership and management

    There’s a happy medium between leadership and management. In some cases, you do need someone to perform as strictly one or the other. The best authority figures know when to apply leadership and management to greater and lesser degrees.

    When to use leadership skills:

    The degree to which you’re able to use leadership skills depends on your workforce and your company’s way of operating. If your members are clear about the team’s vision and goals, they’re more likely to be inspired by a leader.

    For an authority figure to lean more toward leadership, they need to be able to trust that workers are already fully aware of and compliant with company policies. If you constantly have to babysit your team members to perform basic tasks, it’s going to be difficult to encourage free thinking.

    When a team is made up of dedicated individuals who understand their roles, you have more leeway. They’ll be able to handle innovation and creativity while keeping up with their responsibilities. When a leader can enter into a dialogue with workers about company policies, they can come up with new ideas together.

    When to take on the role of a manager:

    When you’re new on the job, you need somebody to tell you how things should be done. Managers are an absolute necessity when your team members are new. They can help workers figure out how to do their jobs in the most efficient way possible.

    Managers are also excellent at figuring out how much employees are capable of. They know that giving them too many responsibilities can have a negative impact on their performance and morale. They safeguard employee productivity by understanding how each person works and responds to stress.

    Organizations always need managers to help employees with uncertainties that they may have about their work. The manager is the person who can show you where to find a procedure in the handbook. They take the mystery out of the work so that employees can meet company expectations.

    Running a company made only of leaders would be like herding cats. Having managers run the show means that you’ll get a lot done, but you’ll never get better. Organizations need managers and leaders to reach their full potential. You can’t have one without the other.

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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    Achieve Inbox 0 To Increase 100% Team Efficiency

    Founders and CEOs are always short on time, and their plates will never be cleared. But in order to succeed long-term, all leaders have to decide on strategic things they cannot let slip. These bottom lines form the rituals that help leaders make key decisions to help their teams get work done. It’s proven time and again that founders like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg need to have a ‘superhuman’ work ethic[1] to stay on top of their businesses.

    Whether it’s wearing the same clothes like Obama, Zuckerberg, and the late Steve Jobs does, or setting fixed times to finish all your tasks, having an anchor ritual is key. When leading a company, a leader’s most critical role is decision making. You do not want to become the bottleneck[2] that’s holding your awesome team members back.

    To help your business grow, you must achieve inbox 0. By ensuring that you’ve addressed all messages at the end of the day, your team will be able to hit the ground running tomorrow. Below are the ways I do it.

    Turn off all notifications

    First, turn off all your notifications. The cost of task switching[3] can break your train of thought and becomes a complete diversion. As tempting as it is to think that you must pick up those phone calls or respond to a direct message, don’t. Instead, by creating a response time buffer to protects your focus. You are giving yourself the space to return to only the important items later on. Read here to see why multi tasking isn’t as good as you thought it would be.

    Set times to check messages

    Give yourself two or three fixed times throughout the day to clean your inbox and other apps such as Slack, Hipchat, Pipedrive for sales and even Git if you are technical. By giving yourself a block of time to respond to messages, you are also giving more time to give thoughtful responses. Messages often fall into the problem solving or planning[4] type of work that is a different mindset from procedural tasks.

    Use Automation tools so nothing slips through

    Use a tool to help you collect all your messages in one place, such as Franz. Even more simply, bookmark all your messaging platforms (e-mail, Whatsapp, Trello, Asana, Missive, or Pipedrive) in one browser folder and open them all at once. Automate tasks like these so that you don’t have to spend time thinking about which platforms or channels to check every day.

    Don’t give yourself tomorrow

    “I’ll check that message tomorrow” is a luxury you can never allow yourself. That one message will quickly become two, three, and a hopeless pile by the end of the week. Productivity is the mentality of holding yourself to a standard. If you are staying up too late to clear your inbox, think about optimizing your schedule in other ways. For example, can you delegate some decision making tasks to team leads? Another way is to rearrange your social schedule or finding the most optimal times during the day to work on different tasks.

    Give yourself a basic Yes / No question

    Finally, learn to prioritize instantly by screening messages with a yes/no question. When scanning a notification, ask yourself: will this take less than 2 minutes to address? If yes, clear it now to reduce your task list. If it will take longer, then create an item on your favorite to-do app. Also consider importance and urgency. Is someone dependent on your answer? If yes, and your response only takes one line, then provide an answer to allow your colleague to continue their work.

    As a leader, your responses are essential to guiding your company. By doing small behavioural changes, you can achieve inbox 0 by screening message priorities and scheduling dedicated time slots to respond.

    Reference

    function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery(“#footnote_references_container”).show(); jQuery(“#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button”).text(“-“); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery(“#footnote_references_container”).hide(); jQuery(“#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button”).text(“+”); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery(“#footnote_references_container”).is(“:hidden”)) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery(“#” + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery(‘html, body’).animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top – window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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