Designing Success


All of the influence and impact that you have on your world starts in the intimate spaces surrounding you. If those spaces don't support your own goals, how well will your intentions project into the world? Establish a clear idea of your goals and make a list. Without that, how can you plan strategically? Now build those goals into your workplace surroundings.

We don't mean spray paint "I WANT MORE MONEY" on your office wall. Our approach is more subtle than that, but not by very much, because it is proactive. Your goals determine your orientation in the room, team positioning and images on your wall. To be most effective, your goals influence every design decision. For example, an aspiring negotiator and arbitrator needs an inclusive, balanced work space, compared to the commanding position of a hard-driving chief of an international sales force.

Success means different things to different people, but ultimately it means accomplishing what you set out to do. Even people who fall into success had to be going someplace. It's hard to fall into a treasure chest if you're glued to the couch. Or to quote the silly, yet revered Chinese expression: "Man who waits for roast duck to fly through window and land in mouth waits for a very long time."

Very successful people have a vision of what they plan to accomplish, even though results might vary from their original conception. Having a map to navigate by will get you into the correct neighborhood, but then you need to remember your goals and be ready to turn the current situation in a favorable direction. A work space that continuously reinforces those goals keeps you on track.

Using the Power of Positioning as part of your management strategy is different from urban planning, architecture and interior design. Those professions are about stability, in the way that an old time, small town bank with its stone columns and marble floors mimicked every other small town bank, projecting continuity and dependability. Today’s businesses depend on smart phones, Apps, cloud computing, global markets, airports, flexibility, adaptability and human genius. That requires a very different environment, focused on specific missions and prepared to change with evolving markets and opportunities.

To approach this as a consultant requires knowledge of human anatomy, physiology and psychology, building structures and systems and the world of work, in other words, the many languages of design. But, to use this as a manager or individual is easier than you might think, because you just need to learn your personal dialect.

Work environments affect people physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, but not equally. Individual goals may rely on one component more than the others. For example, an athlete depends on the physical features first, although a good mindset and emotional resilience are essential. But no matter how focused your thoughts, or deep your emotional reserves, if your practice field is a malarial swamp... well, you get the picture!

If your work is very physical, use shapes carefully. Your body feels weaker or stronger depending on the shape, color and position of objects near you. It's a function of the parasympathetic nervous system. An environment that makes you feel stronger is a good idea whether you're training or working. It helps the body create better cells that transport greater quantities of oxygen and nutrients, promoting a higher level of performance over time. Furniture shapes push your body towards either fear or courage. A sharp point, like a furniture corner, when aimed at the body, suppresses the immune system. A big comfy chair slows the heart rate, decreasing stress. The Power of Positioning is a strategic art.

Materials matter, it's harder to take someone seriously when they are sitting behind a plastic desk, while a big, serious wooden desk makes them look like an adult. Sometimes thinking like an adult is a disadvantage, so the reflectivity of glass and metal work better. Materials have traditional signatures related to their origins (wood comes from trees, carrying their patience, grace and durability) and the way the body reacts to them (glass intrigues, while broken glass terrifies). Metal comes through fire and technology, and feels like money, flexible and strong; it can be melted and re-formed. Plastics are also flexible and adaptable, but as part of the throwaway society, their value degrades quickly. Those materials influence your thoughts, actions, long-term strategies and physical health.

Emotions at Work

Some work is very emotional and creative; a novelist’s office is different from an accountant’s. Context and connections are most important to the emotional body, and objects are often ascribed a magical quality, the lucky pen, the ‘writer's’ sweater, the quintessential pipe. Where a harder headed pursuit will require the suppression of emotional connections, some work depends on continual emotional reinforcement; family pictures, inspirational quotes and pleasing images nearby. Sometimes the ‘goal’ is attaining a state of being where responsiveness and creativity are supported.

Team Work

If the work is focused on the external world for either intellectual, social or commercial pursuits, then team positioning, work space orientation and even compass directions are the most powerful tools. This is like being the navigator on the deck of a sailing ship, who uses their talents as a Stargazer to plot their path in relation to the cosmos. This is the BIG picture and the goal of these people are the spacious corner offices in city towers; the most successful people choose their own space and dictate exactly where the desk will be placed. When your goals are national or global in scope, carefully choose the directions you design into your life. Generally, you want to see the door from where you are sitting. The more directly your desk faces that door, the more you accept responsibility. When you have to look to your left to see the door you are sending the message that your are accessible and receptive. When you have to look to the right to see the door the message becomes one of energy and extroversion.   

As you use these techniques to project your goals and create success, determine the arena where you perform. Is it more physical, emotional or intellectual? Is it personal and earthy or global and celestial? Or is it, like so many work places, a mix that requires you to grow and reinvent yourself in a rapidly changing world? Only you can answer those questions, but our Questionnaires are designed to help you do that, while avoiding environments that point you toward the wrong arena.

Sit Like a CEO, Confidently


Often when we're working with clients we'll realize that their underlying challenge is their confidence, or lack thereof! We've learned to recognize this by their responses to our solutions. When we hear things like "Oh, I can't move that. I can't change that. My boss (or spouse) won't let me do that.", that's a pretty strong clue.

We can offer them the best techniques in the world, but unless they have confidence in their ability to create positive change, it's just a bunch of talk on the client's recording of the consultation. We're not going to discuss what knocks the stuffing out of a person's sense of personal worth here. Instead we're going to focus on what you can do in your own environment, to put you firmly and consistently in your power.

First thing, command the door! Stop sitting with your back to busy entrances like a quivering rabbit waiting to be pounced on by a wolf. Being able to see the door comfortably from where you're sitting or standing (or even lying down in the case of a bed or couch) helps you feel confident and in charge. Arrive early and take the best seat. Move your chair around to the other side of the table if you have to. Change seats if you don't like the one you've got. If need be, position yourself to see the entrance through a mirror or reflective surface.

The desks of the Presidents and CEO's of successful companies face directly at the door. These people exude confidence and their positioning shows that whatever comes into their life, they'll deal with it straight away and confidently.

So, sit like a CEO! In contrast, people who are administrators often sit sideways to the door and the minions huddle in their cubicles like scared bunnies with their necks exposed. Who do you think is taking all of the anti-anxiety drugs? Body language tells all, so what are you telling yourself and the world by which seat you choose?

Of course the question arises, "I can't move my desk and I'm one of those trembling bunnies, what can I do?" Simple, invest in a standing mirror and a animal print jacket. Place the mirror so that you can see the entrance to your space when you're sitting at your desk. Now, the first thing people will see, when they come in your space is your eyes looking at them in that mirror. That's gives them pause. Next, hang your animal print on the back of your chair. Now, when the wolves come around, they'll see your eyes and your stripes. You've just dramatically changed the dynamic at work. Everything in that situation says that you're no one to mess with.

There's a side benefit to having that mirror by your computer, you'll make less typos and go home with more energy and less neck pain. Since you can see over your shoulder, you're not twisting around and taking your fingers off the keyboard every time someone pokes their nose into your space. We often see a 30% increase in personal effectiveness and productivity for the price of a small mirror. That alone does a lot for your self-confidence and you probably look great in animal prints.

By the way, comfortably seeing the door means not having to twist or turn your head or use the corners of your eyes to see the entrance. If you can only see the door with your peripheral vision, the dominion of the fight or flight response in the body, that entranceway is continually saying "Boo!"

The next technique for boosting self-confidence is a bit of environmental kinesiology. The purpose here is to force your body to stand up straight and turn slightly to the right as you enter the room. Your posture affects your attitude and the straighter you stand the more confident you feel. The right side is the more confident side of the body.

How do you affect posture? By where you hang images on the walls and what those images represent. It's helpful to remember that your interior environment, because it developed over time, normally supports who you were more than who you want to be. So, walk around your space and see what images you have hanging on the walls. That will tell you what messages you are sending to yourself.

To kick your self-image into a higher gear choose pictures of strong, healthy, dynamic people and hang one up so you see it directly in front of you as you enter the room. Place pictures at your heart height, or a little higher. This encourages you to stand up straight to see them, while increasing the vitality of your heart chakra. If you need an extra boost, then place that initial image a bit to the right of 'straight ahead'. This will make you turn slightly to your right, making you feel more confident and aggressive (in a positive way). Don't use transitory images like cut flowers or fruit that say "easy come easy go". Use images that inspire confidence such as a picture of a redwood forest. That says "I possess sustaining grace, beauty and power." Now that's some good self-talk.

If there's a window in that initial spot, hang something eye-catching in the window high enough that it encourages you to stand straight. Red stained glass works great. The color red boosts ego energy and self-assuredness.

Finally, whenever possible, face your chair or desk in the direction of the Sunrise, an especially good direction for anyone in sales. This works for various ErgoDynamic and magnetic reasons but think of it this way. The eastern horizon is about new beginnings, supreme confidence and boundless possibilities. Facing that direction infuses you with a spirit of optimism. It brings out your natural confidence so that those boundless possibilities become yours.

Ralph & Lahni De Amicis are Environmental Designers and Naturopathic Physicians with decades of experience working within a wide variety of businesses. They are experts on ergonomics, kinesiology, operational efficiency and environmental health and have spoken and consulted internationally on the topics for more than twenty years. They are the authors of seven books on the subject, including diverse cultural approaches.

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