This was definitely me - utterly exhausted as a single parent and sole provider of four children under seven and putting on that everything was ok. I felt judged, tired, inadequate, and ineffective at almost everything. I felt edgy, unhappy and anxious that I wasn’t doing enough or good enough.
Did I make time to take care of myself by reminding myself that I was awesome just as I was with all my imperfections? No way. No time. I just kept surviving and wearing myself down while pretending I was superwoman.
As I look back now I see that I already had everything I needed to be a great mom, employee, friend, and leader. I just needed to slow down enough to be gentle with myself in order to be gentle with others. I needed to listen and stop talking. I needed to be curious instead of judgmental because as I judged others I was judging myself far worse.
Take care of yourself first. All roads lead from there. Self-acceptance trumps all.
I’ve always felt that telling people how to improve was pointless. That’s like telling them from the start that they’re not good enough and this makes them shut right down. Applauding and guiding them for excellence while personalizing only to yourself and not them engages people.
I use the FBI method. “I FELT you really demonstrated great anticipation skills when you (BEHAVIOR) pulled that comparative research on the results of our last campaign. The IMPACT of this is changing our direction to be more focused on one-on-one relationship building and not costly mass acquisition initiatives.” This is far better than, “Great job” or “We didn’t do a good job on that.”
Legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry turned around his struggling team not by showing highlight films of mistakes but by combing through game footage to create a highlight reel for each player of them doing something easily, naturally and...
Anger is always a mask for a sad feeling we are turning away from because it makes us uncomfortable and feel unworthy. Invite the discomfort and sadness you avoid in closer - so close that you can feel it, smell it, taste it, touch it. Describe it in detail. This disarms it’s power and the anxiety of avoidance melts to acceptance.
Here you can stop running and finally relax. You become a third party observer to situations that used to threaten you without inserting your heart and emotions into the center. Your relationships and sense of fulfillment shift upward. Your executive presence soars when you aren’t afraid of what might happen. You accept and value yourself as is without needing to be perfect. That’s a good life.
If you are ready to get off the treadmill to nowhere and have peace, confidence, executive presence, career advancement and high performance in the face of challenges, personal agendas, cynicism and bureaucracy request a free consultation call...
Life and career transitions carry some of the biggest heartaches of our lives – relocation, divorce, job loss, aging parents, relationship changes, health challenges, death of a loved one, friends who move way. We feel lost, rejected, angry, afraid, abandoned, alone. Often the biggest influencer in these situations is not the transition itself but, the story we attach to it. When the story generates from a place of fear we get stuck.
Define your perception of the situation – the version that you relive over and over in your head. It might be fear of what will happen in the future. It might be about health, relationships, career, financial security. It might be guilt about the past. You may feel like a victim or alone and that things will never change. What is your stuck story? Who is in it? Who do you blame for where you are? What is the worst possible outcome that could happen? We can dispel what we own. If we can’t face and own the...
Often, we go about our lives thinking our relationships at work and in life are ok while under the surface a subtle ember of discord is burning. Then one day it bursts into full blaze and we do or say something that rips at our presence. At work this is particularly difficult when it strips your executive presence. One of the subtle feelings that shreds our peace is the feeling that we have been taken for granted.
You might think you hate your boss or that a colleague is self-absorbed but that is focusing on their behavior and not your feelings. What does their behavior make you feel? Small? Disregarded? Disrespected? Undervalued? Naming the feeling disarms its power.
You know you want to draw healthier boundaries when you feel taken advantage of, taken for granted, responsible for someone else’s happiness or blatantly disrespected. To understand the power of health boundaries first imagine that you are...
At work sometimes we think the solution is to add more work onto what already needs to be done when often the most productive choice is to reengineer the work to eliminate useless tasks and combine others into streamlined processes. This requires a big step back to see the entire picture and not just the finite goal at hand - cause and effect.
Sometimes we need to start over. That isn’t failure. It’s setting ego aside for innovation.
In my two-decade career as a hospital executive I have watched new regulations bury front line workers as management teams tack on new regulations as one more thing to be done at the bedside by the nurse or professional. When my father was in a hospital across town it made me sad to see the nurses lined up at computers in the nurses’ station when I knew they would rather have been at the bedside.
I’ve also seen wise leaders reinvent processes so there aren’t more forms to fill out but one form...
If you have ever been in an escalating conversation that is confrontational you know how hard it is to maintain composure when your heart starts racing and every nerve ending in your body is screaming “Danger!” With practice you can be the master of your own behavior in these high stakes moments, pacify yourself and be the respected colleague people notice has grace under fire.
When you’re first aware that a situation is getting combative that is the sign to switch tracks before you’re on the runaway train of freeze-fight-or-flight. This is when your reaction becomes physiological - your voice quivers, your palms get sweaty, and your heartrate elevates. Most people fear that this lack of physical control will show and undermine their effectiveness. It’s important to regain control of your body’s reaction by accepting what is going on with you and creating space for it to calm down. Turning away from the discomfort is not the...
I took this photo of a young man in Rio de Janeiro who spent the day canvasing the beach and garbage bins for empty soda cans to turn in for money. There are no entitlement programs in Brazil and while some choose to thieve on the beach (we saw them being arrested) this leader chose to contribute to his own worth and that of society.
Those of you who manage people understand the importance of engagement. Here are some sage words from Seth Godin on the tug of war between what comes first - passion or work.
'Work before passion
“Offer me something I’m passionate about and I’ll show up with all of my energy, effort and care.”
That’s a great way to hide.
Because nothing is good enough to earn your passion before you do it. Perhaps, in concept, it’s worthy, but as soon as you closely examine the details and the pitfalls, it’s easy to decide it’s better to wait for a better offer.
What about considering the opposite?
“Offer me a chance...
Often clients ask me how to have executive presence - how to remain calm in the face of feeling stressed, threatened and judged.
Mindfulness is key. Being mindful is being a third party observer to feelings we’ve leaned away from so that we may lean into them without judgment or the feeling of being swallowed by them. We observe the thought in the context of right now instead of forever feeling flawed.
Think of a bird in the sky sometimes flying erratically especially when other birds are attacking. The bird is your thoughts or emotions. The other birds represent perceived threats. Yet the sky is constant. Undisturbed. When we identify with the sky instead of the bird we identify with our AWARENESS of all the thoughts and emotions instead of being consumed with the affects of thoughts and emotions. Here we can stay calm. We can mindfully stay in the moment without judgment and observe the situation from a detached perspective. In this safe place we can...
I work with clients a lot on how mindful daily practices impact your effectiveness and happiness. Recently, I bought some water color supplies on Amazon, watched a video on watercolor painting and experimented one evening. I had fun then tucked the supplies away for another day.
Last week, after the overwhelming and emotional experience of having to clean out my parent’s house to sell, I got out the box of supplies, threw inhibition to the wind and on the first page of my new watercolor journal painted an image from a peaceful photograph I had taken in the low country of South Carolina. It won’t be in any art contests but the experience of doing this with a shuffle of Michael Buble playing in the background calmed me.
In that space I could get curious about my emotions instead of running from them. I felt frustrated that my brother was not there to help me. I was sad going through the papers and memories of my father. I was worried about my mother who we had...
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