In my last article, I wrote about reflection. Looking back on 2019 and looking forward to 2020, I believe living a good, meaningful life is contributing to a cause bigger than yourself.
What has meaning to you? What’s important to you? What do you care about? What lights you up? What can you do that you will thrill you to make an impact beyond the world of you? Be proactive and make a plan to assure you accomplish what you set out to do.
One way to go about this is to check in with your personal values. Your values are who you are at your core and they drive your decisions. At different stages of your life your values change in priority.
Recently I was watching a special on Prince Harry and his family. He was talking about his mother’s (Princess Diana’s) legacy and her quest to eradicate landmines in Angola.
Prince Harry went to Angola and walked in his mother’s footsteps, following the exact path she walked. By honoring his mother’s advocacy against landmines, which became something near and dear to his heart, he completed their mission. Paraphrasing the prince, he found doing this work “satisfying, fulfilling, and of service to others” while honoring his mother.
What would you find satisfying and fulfilling? My belief is we are all here to serve. How we go about it is a personal choice. What is your purpose?
Now is a great time for reflection. Going into 2020, do you want to, and can you do what worked well for you this year? What do you want to change? What do you envision for yourself in 2020?
Reflection can be very powerful and can provide you with a measure of self-awareness and understanding of how you came to be where you are. Reflection gives you information such as the whys and hows of the past year that you’ll be able to evaluate. Knowing this can impact the decisions you make. You will also learn more about yourself and what you’re capable of.
While reflection can be on the more serious side, the winter season and the holidays are also a time for fun. Here are some ideas for you and your family and friends.
Have you ever been around a moody person? You never know what type of behavior you’re going to get, or what might trigger the person. Several times in the past week I have heard clients say they feel like they are “walking on eggshells” … not a pleasant way to live. Easing some things in your life can reduce stress. The impact moodiness has can cause stress. Setting healthy boundaries and limits can reduce stress.
Recently I was in line at Whole Foods when I saw the cover of Time magazine promoting The Science of Stress: Manage It, Avoid It. Put it to Use. One of that themed concept was an article that stood out to me called Simple Ways to Manage Your Mood, by Audrey Noble.
Noble gave statistics about stress. She noted that a Gallup poll found 8 out of 10 Americans are afflicted by stress. She continued that according to the American Psychology Association, the top three stressors were (1) the uncertainty of the nation’s future, (2) money, and (3) work. Workplace stress accounts for nearly $200 billion in health-care costs, according to Forbes.
Noble pointed out that there are healthy ways of dealing with stress in your professional and personal life. Here are a few tips:
Focus on Intention
Direct your emotions about upcoming goals or obligations toward positive feelings instead of focusing on the negative. Practice feeling that emotion so you can carry that mindset whenever stress starts to arise.
Set Realistic Expectations
We are living in a world where bigger and better is pushed in every aspect of our lives. That sets us up for failure. People feel they’ll be less stressed if they get a better ‘this’ or a bigger ‘that’. Set realistic expectations. Focus on finding gratitude for the things we have in our lives that fulfill us.
Find a Confidant
Get an outside, objective perspective from someone with whom you feel that you’re in a ‘safe space’. Being able to confide in someone can reduce stress.
Change Your Mindset
Intentionally activating positive heart emotions such as care, appreciation, compassion and ease decreases stress. The key is learning how to react positively to negative stressors.
Write It Down
Once you’ve identified what triggers you, write them down. Writing things down can be a therapeutic mode of expression. Once they are written down, share them with someone you feel safe with at work or personally.
Seek Peace and Love
Spend five minutes a day to find something that brings you serenity. Listening to music or finding a quiet time can help. Surround yourself with caring friends or family. Do things to elevate your mood.
I think everyone can use some inspiration, particularly in today’s tumultuous times. I am always looking for inspiration. It’s a search that often involves finding a special someone or something to inspire me. We are so used to putting limits on ourselves and others that our self-limiting beliefs hold us back. That’s why most of us are in serious need of positive inner resilience as well as the inspiration to find it.
Perception is reality. So why not break through those self-made glass ceilings and pursue our own greatness. We are all capable of achieving what we set out to do. I didn’t have to look too far to find both resilience and inspiration.
I often watch a positive reality television show called Meet the Peetes. This Hallmark Channel program features actress Holly Robinson Peete, her husband, former pro football quarterback, Rodney Peete, and their four children, one of whom has autism. Autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior.
This show is truly inspiring. That’s largely due to the respectful way this family interacts and handles a complex disorder that involves many challenges. After learning from doctors the limits their child would face – such as never being able to work or never being able to be in a relationship – this family never stopped believing in possibilities. These included the possibility that their autistic son might prove capable of more than the specialists thought.
Today, a young man of 21, their son works for the LA Dodgers, drives a car, speaks publicly to inspire others on the spectrum. He has healthy relationships with others. He believes in himself because his family and others believe in him.
Inspiration and resilience.
Once, most sports experts thought that no one would ever run the mile in four minutes or less. That is, until Roger Bannister ran the first sub-4 minute mile on May 6, 1954. He surpassed the limits others set out because he believed he could. Since then, Bannister’s own record has been broken again and again.
My own coach was diagnosed in 2003 with stage-four breast cancer. Her doctors informed her she had a limited amount of time remaining to live. But after undergoing numerous surgeries, her doctors gradually changed their diagnostic tune. They started to increase her percentage chances of survival. She asked them to stop. When they didn’t, she turned around and walked out.
That was sixteen years ago. She remains cancer free.
I look up to people like Bannister and my coach as genuine heroes. People who face adversity, push through, and inspire us to do the same. An inspiration to us all, individuals like them continuously strengthen their resilience and look optimistically to their future. And they get support from others. That’s why it really does take a village when it comes to inspiration and resilience.
Everyone encounters problems and struggles with life at various times. But it’s how we view these struggles and how we react to them that determine which path we take.
So take an opportunity to observe your inner self. Are you a benefit finder or a fault-finder? How do you handle adversity? What keeps you motivated and moving forward? What is the one thing you can add to your life that would make a positive difference?
I worked with a client who wanted support to shift from a negative, non-productive mindset to a positive, productive mindset. I asked him how he wants to live each day and what he wants to be different in his life?
In the final analysis, we determined it’s our perspective on life and the choices we make that end up constituting our lives. I asked him how he wants to fill his time. After all, it’s a choice. Soon, he experienced that “Aha!” moment.
Subsequently, we set up a plan. Now we are working on achieving his goals. By integrating his business and personal life and focusing on what he has rather than what’s missing, he is forging ahead to achieve a better and more positive life.
Remember: Inner resilience and the inspiration to do better puts us on the road to personal success.
Recently, I have been listening to people say their energy is drained or depleted. My suggestion and one that I use all the time is a shift in perspective from feeling drained to living a full life where you are engaged and passionate about your work and personal life. That subtle mindset shift allows me to feel energized. When you are fully engaged and moving forward you are moving energy through yourself so it doesn’t get blocked or stuck.
In my situation, I could have easily given in to a feeling of depletion, but I know that we’re never out of energy (even though we may feel like we are). Think of the example of childbirth. Whether you have experienced it personally, witnessed it or read about it, the woman giving birth often feels exhausted during the birth process. Yet when the baby is born there is a surge of energy. Simply putting it, and not getting technical, the energy is there, we have to ‘call’ it forth. That’s what I did during this process of having a lot on my plate.
My past nine months were filled professionally with coaching clients and speaking engagements focused mainly around my book, Talk Yourself Into Success: Strategies for Positive Self-Talk, Confidence, and Resilience. On the personal side I was handling a three-step moving process (two truckloads donated to a great organization called A Wider Circle, one truck to where we moved, and one truck to my kids). I also continue to care for my mother (who is suffering from progressing dementia) and generally dealing with everyday life. This may sound familiar to baby boomers, the “sandwich generation” or as I call it the Oreo – the crème between two cookies.
Having an expertise in life and career transition, I know the resistance that shows up when we are about to make a change, even if it’s 100% positive. (Briefly speaking, we are wired to resist change to keep ourselves safe and the status quo. For more info on the brain and the neuroscience behind this, feel free to contact me: email@example.com).
The move came about pretty quickly. Pack, move, sell the house, unpack, handle all the technology issues that came about (boy do I dislike Verizon), and so on…all within a short timeframe of approximately one month.
I have been ready to downsize for a couple of years. I also know that change and transition take longer for my husband so we had conversations about it every now and then. When my husband said he was ready, I knew from other situations that we needed to act fairly quickly, which we did.
Instead of viewing things like the packing/unpacking as something draining, I focused my energy on this next stage of life and enjoying this milestone. The thought of packing and unpacking shifted to it’s exciting to be in a new place and experience new things with my husband.
Could I have felt tired? Sure, and I did, but not depleted because of my mindset. Remember, we control our thoughts; our thoughts don’t control us. We have a choice of how we view situations.
So when I felt like I needed a break, I took it. And when I needed to create more energy within myself, my mindset went to the positive outcomes we would have…and we now have them…and we love our new place!
One part that was difficult during the moving process was feeling isolated from friends because I was so focused on getting things accomplished. What kept me going was looking at the end result, that I would see friends once I was settled in and having supportive friends.
So the next time you feel like you have no energy, whether it’s physical or emotional, shift your focus to knowing that your energy is a resource you can call forth and feel.
This must be the month for a great amount of change and transition. Clients are changing jobs, careers, moving, going through separation and divorce. I am in the middle of downsizing. The kids are happy and settled in their lives, and we’re ready to simplify life in a condo or apartment.
Briefly, change is external (ex: I am moving or changing my job), whereas transition is an internal process (ex: before entering a new phase, tie up loose ends or unfinished business so that you are not bringing your old story into your new phase). By developing an understanding of our purpose, values, and vision, transition can be made easier. It is an opportunity for powerful change.
Most people resist change and transition. It takes us out of our comfort zone. To create a smooth transition, take baby steps forward instead of big leaps that can leave you overwhelmed. If you’re learning how to swim, put a toe in the water, you don’t have to start by jumping in the deep end!
I’m in the midst of change also. My husband and I are pretty busy. We both work, and in the middle of what we’re doing, we’re downsizing, moving things to three separate locations, caring for an elderly parent, dealing with each other’s needs and those of our kids, and keeping up with relationships.
For me, I have learned to go with the flow. I have taught myself to fill my time with ease instead of dis-ease. I literally ask myself what do I want to fill my time with, and I have taught myself to fill the time by being productive rather than becoming anxious or overwhelmed. It’s a choice.
Make sense? Here are a few steps you can take to make change and transition flow with ease.
Without being aware, you can’t make a change. Notice how you’re feeling mentally, emotionally and physically. For example, I check in with myself. I ask myself, how much energy do I have? Where do I need to focus my energy?
Typically for me, I have the most energy in the morning and that’s when I tackle the most challenging items.
To keep the house-packing moving forward I look at it as de-cluttering, and it actually helps clear my mind and makes me feel good. What works for me is I’ll have some coaching sessions and do some work at my desk. When I have had enough sitting, I then do something physical, like packing, until my energy begins to lessen. Then before I go to another task, I will take short breaks throughout the day. The mixture of sedentary, physical, and taking short breaks is a good mix for me. What works for you?
Also when appointments are close to where my mother lives, I stop by for a visit. Then it’s back to work.
Another thing I do is to take breaks different types of breaks when my schedule gets real busy. I carry several golf clubs in the trunk of my car. I live close to a public golf course and I stop by and hit a bucket of balls at the driving range. That helps keep me grounded and clear. Other times I will do a ten-minute meditation or simply pause and do a breathing exercise.
For most people, change and transition can deplete energy. It is essential to focus on sleep, nutrition, and some form of physical exercise (playing a sport, dance, yoga, working out). Be aware of the stress in your life because over time it impacts your immune system, and it will have a negative impact on your health.
You can let change and transition deplete your energy, or you can choose to embrace change and transition.
Knowing you have a choice is subtle, empowering, and can make a huge difference in your life.
Life can be harder when you resist change. Again, take baby steps in the direction of moving you forward and being more flexible.
Perhaps like many, my husband’s natural ‘go to’ response to changing situations is ‘no’…and it takes him some time to shift. So when I knew we were heading towards downsizing, I began to mention it 1.5 years ago. Another example was that I told him many years ago (12-15) to expand and open an office in Baltimore, and three years ago he did. (He now thinks both were his idea.)
My point is that everyone is different. There is no right or wrong regarding the length of time we take to shift; much depends on our experience and the situations we’ve had. Yet, it’s very clear that flexibility and being open to change make life easier. (I’m going to send this to my husband’s inbox!)
I know it can feel uncomfortable to step out of your comfort zone. Notice how you feel (use your body as a signal to identify where you feel the stress so you can shift your mindset) and your self-talk (what your thoughts are), and don’t let it stop you. Stepping out has you grow. It opens you up to new possibilities. You don’t have to jump, simply take a step!
I was recently in a meeting where the owner of the business was talking about trust. It was music to my ears when, at the same time, he and I mentioned transparency… a main ingredient in the trust recipe. Successful leaders (and I believe leadership is within all of us and occurs at all levels), whether they are leading an organization, a group they belong to, or leading their family, have enhanced success when they are transparent, that is, open, honest, and clear.
Trust is a foundational element in everything we do. It is the cement that holds everything together. It takes time to develop trust. We have to be willing to show vulnerability.
According to Management Concepts, “When you trust someone, what you make vulnerable can range from concrete things such as money, a job, a promotion, or a particular goal, to less tangible things such as a belief you hold, a cherished way of doing things, your ‘good’ name, or even your sense of happiness and well-being.” (Side note: To learn more about vulnerability look at the works of Brene Brown.)
Think of someone in your life that you trust. What is it that allows you to trust them? What exactly is it that they do?
I look at what people say, but more, what they do. In other words, do their actions match their words? I believe that when the words and actions match, that is “being in integrity.” Is the person honest? Are they being transparent?
Trust builds for different people in different ways. Some people trust quickly, and then, if there is a break in that trust the relationship shifts; while others look for the other person to earn their trust, experience by experience, forming a strong foundation for their relationship.
When we trust, we feel more comfortable and tend to share more. We are more willing to take risks and feel more confident with the people we trust. How much we trust and the way we trust depends on the relationships and experiences we’ve had.
As you build trust in your relationships, it generally is reciprocal and easier to trust with each experience. Collaboration is built on trust.
It is clear that without trust relationships don’t grow. Growth is sustained as time goes on, and, when someone breaks a trust we see it as a threat, and we then have less confidence in that person. Moving through the disappointment, we go into a protective mode that can drain and deplete our energy. The result can be very damaging, because of the loss – we can be temporarily less productive, have a lower morale, and even question our own judgment.
The upside however is great. Trust makes it easier to go through change and transition. We are less resistant and stronger in our beliefs.
What does trust look like to you?
Here are a few criteria to look at:
Mutual Respect: one of the most important blocks of our ABC’s. It is a behavior that is found in healthy relationships. When there’s mutual respect, it reduces stress, conflict, and increases communication, productivity, knowledge and understanding.
Character of a Person: consists of qualities that make them distinct from other people. In this case, being trustworthy, honesty, being a good person.
Reliability: being dependable, meeting commitments, and following through.
Consistency: always accurate and fair; what is said and the message delivered doesn’t contradict what was previously said, and the message is clear and the same.
Sincerity: as the saying goes, you say what you mean and you mean what you say; when someone expresses an opinion, it is known to be truly their own.
Competence: the ability, skill, and capacity to carry out what you say you’ll do.
Trust Your Gut: In different situations we get a signal from our gut intuition, something either feels right or it doesn’t. This creates a feeling of dissonance or resonance. It can make us wonder if we can trust or not.
Don’t ignore the signal that you feel in your body.
I feel dissonance in my gut. Others may feel it in other parts of their body. Don’t ignore this feeling. Use it as a guide. Trust yourself!
When you listen to the news you might notice the increasing amount of stories containing anger. I’ve personally observed a case of road rage after one driver cut off another; and I’ve witnessed people being rude and having an angry tone when they are waiting in a slow moving grocery store line.
People seem more reactionary than ever before. My question is how can we channel the negative emotions we experience in a way that leads to more conscious empowering decisions? If you’re thinking that you can’t, the good news is you can. There are things we can do to lessen the negative and depleting energy.
All emotions, including anger, provide us with information. Scientifically, anger hijacks us and can lead to emotions like shame and guilt. Being aware of what triggers us is helpful. Emotional triggers can be people, words, opinions, situations, or environmental situations.
I recently was on a webinar given by the Tapping Summit (Emotional Freedom Technique) where the moderator said that anger is a signal that says our system is being attacked, and the energy from anger keeps us safe. We have that trigger because we feel the need to protect ourselves and because our systems perceive us to be in danger. So this is a healthy response. Issues arise when what we perceive is not necessarily accurate.
When things like frustration, weakness, disappointment, a lack of patience, or sadness show up, it can all get channeled into anger. Here are several ways to deal with these emotions in a healthy way:
Deepen your awareness. You can’t make a change unless you are aware. Notice your thoughts (self-talk) and notice your environment (where you are and who you’re with). Places and people trigger reactions, both positive and negative.
Be aware of where you feel the emotion in your body because it triggers a physical reaction. As soon as you recognize the trigger use that physical reaction as a signal. For example, when I get anxious about something, I get a “kicked in the stomach” feeling. As soon as I am aware of that feeling I take a breath or a pause and ask myself, “What am I anxious about, whether it’s work or personal, that I’m getting that feeling?” It’s very helpful in pinpointing what’s going on at that moment.
Deep breathing exercises. Try this:
Take a deep breath, hold it for 5-8 seconds, and release the breath. You can repeat as needed. It will physiologically ground you.
Tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Tapping is a tool to assist with emotional or physical issues. As you tap on certain points on your body you are breaking up energy that might have been stuck there for years. At the same time you are tapping, you are saying limiting beliefs (“I am afraid of being wrong”) and then re-framing to a positive phrase (Sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m wrong and that’s okay!) To learn more about tapping Google the Tapping Solution to see it demonstrated… Or, you can ask me. I am an EFT practitioner.
Count to ten. If you still feel triggered, keep counting
Take a walk to cool off.
Several times in the past week I have heard people comment that they can’t believe it’s March. Time seems to pass more quickly with each year. We are heading into second quarter. How can you make the most of 2019? Are you heading in the direction you want or do you need to shift anything? Do you know of anything that could get in the way of you attaining your goals? If so, what can you do to head it off?
Recently, I was coaching a client, Gary, who said he felt like he was running out of steam. After asking several probing questions we were able to dig deeper to find that Gary started out the year ‘full steam ahead,’ and now, he felt like he was just chugging along. He then mentioned that the same thing happened the past two years and he didn’t want this to be his pattern. He wanted to feel productive and happy at work and enjoy his family. I believe that’s a reasonable request and something we could accomplish together.
I asked Gary if he were fully committed to changing that pattern, and if so, I would be his committed partner to guide him along the way. Sometimes people say they want something to change but their actions don’t match their words. In this case, Gary was ready. He said he didn’t want to look back on another year and not have what he wanted. It was great that Gary recognized this and was ready to move forward. Too often people burnout because they lack the awareness that a change has to be made, or they feel that there’s nothing they can do to shift things.
After meeting with Gary, we made a game plan. There were several factors impacting his Gary’s energy level, physically and emotionally.
He had a high level position within a large company with many demands. At home he and his wife, who also works, had one child in middle school and one in high school. In addition, his wife’s mother’s dementia was getting worse, and she was living with them.
Like many people in similar positions, Gary and his wife had difficult decisions to make. And making big decisions can cause some sleepless nights and worry.
Regarding Gary’s long working hours, he made the decision to be home for dinner each night. Long hours kept Gary at the office and the negative impact was that he was missing family dinners and the chance to connect with his family. Moreover, at work, because he was so tired, Gary wasn’t as clear and focused and he wasn’t being productive. Here’s what Gary committed to do.
By leaving work earlier, Gary was able to enjoy time with his family and the conversations he would have missed. He got into bed earlier and felt more refreshed. We put together a workout schedule and a “relationship” schedule so that Gary and his wife had some time for themselves, couple time, and family time.
Gary and his wife are figuring out next steps with her mom. The two choices they came up with were having an aide in the house full time or putting her in a facility. The good thing is they have the energy and clarity to make those decisions together, and they are tough decisions to make.
It takes courage to take the steps that Gary has taken. When he told his supervisor the decision to leave work earlier, his boss was not thrilled but Gary made a life decision of what he was willing to tolerate. His boss saw that the longer hours weren’t necessarily equating to being more productive.
Even though we’ve got a long way to go in 2019, take a look at how your life is going. What’s your schedule like? What are you willing to sacrifice? What are your values and are you living them?
Make this the best year of your life!
We’ve all heard the well-known real estate saying, “location, location, location.” And when it comes to people, I think “relationship, relationship, relationship.” In order to maximize and best enjoy relationships you want to have good interpersonal skills.
Since almost all aspects of our lives involve communication, having ‘people’ skills, such as collaboration and good interpersonal abilities, and traits like self-confidence, and positive thinking, are highly desirable.
Specifically in the workplace, where we interact with different types of people, good interpersonal skills are vital. Other important interpersonal skills are listening, understanding and using body language and the same of gestures (non verbal communications). Moreover, having a positive attitude, and showing respect and appreciation are highly valuable to fostering good relationships.
Our interpersonal skills are integral to our relationships in both personal and professional connections. Having good interpersonal skills leads to a better understanding of others. We use those skills when we interact with others.
Anyone can develop strong interpersonal skills. Like developing a muscle in our arms or legs to make them stronger, these skills can be built. For some it may come more naturally, but the reality is that anyone, with practice, can develop these skills, and doing so can lead to building more effective relationships.
In the workplace interpersonal skills are the foundation of trust, and are key factors in individual and organizational performance. Results from developing successful interpersonal skills contribute to better performance, effective problem solving, and help in decision-making.
A local organization, Management Concepts, offers a course Interpersonal Skills. The course teaches competencies that are essential for developing effective relationships with others. The competencies are at the course’s foundation. They are:
Awareness of self
Awareness of others, and
Awareness of self: understanding your own communication skills and how they impact others. As you deepen your awareness you’ll be able to make new choices about how to communicate more effectively.
Awareness of others: includes careful listening, skilful questioning, and keen observation of nonverbal cues to ensure understanding. By being aware of others you can structure your communication to be more effective with different types of people.
Maximizing Relationships: using and refining your interpersonal skills over tie to develop satisfying connections with others; also being able to deal with conflict and breakdowns that occur.
We know that growth in one area can cause your personal effectiveness to flourish. Who wouldn’t want that!
In my next article, I’ll dive deeper into interpersonal skills because they are essential for a person to thrive. Stay tuned!