How to Have Executive Presence in an Anxious Moment

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...

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When You Are Overwhelmed and Pointing Fingers

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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When Drama Overwhelms You

You’ve seen it at work and at home. Someone is anxious about something and suddenly you are feeling anxious too. You know this isn’t healthy and that you shouldn’t feel this way which only makes it worse. Now you’re self-judging for not distancing yourself from the drama and begin to doubt your own effectiveness. You start losing sleep and wake up in the middle of the night, running the day’s conversations over in your mind.  

Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and sucked in by another person’s angst. Drama is created when a person can’t accept the way they feel so they try to externalize it or put that feeling off on others, usually in a highly demonstrative or desperate way. This behavior provides them a temporary yet unsustainable relief from their discomfort. Thus, they continue the drama dance to try to unload their despair. 

I notice I have been feeling anxious and assuming the anxiety of this person. I’ve...

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What Beliefs Affect Your Career

As children we adopt a belief system based on the belief system of our parents. Depending on the parenting style, we are likely rewarded and reinforced for doing what these teachers think is good. We are criticized and penalized for what is bad. It is how we learn to stay safe. It is how we fit in. 

Negative feedback can be helpful in an urgent situation such as a hot stove. Not so much when it comes to development, leaving us feeling as if we don’t belong unless we are ‘good.’ 

As adults we live out this belief system and learned perspectives. When life sends us a difficult situation often we internalize this as having been “bad” and deserving of this hardship. “Must be something wrong with me.” 

Beliefs translate to behaviors. If we grew up around anxiety we’ll likely address discord with it. If we grew up around positivity we’ll find the good. Often negative life messages are merely assumptions but we are...

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When They Threaten to Make You Look Bad

Last evening a client told me a story of how a customer was being condescending and threatened to report her to her boss in a truly snotty way over something that didn’t make sense. My client felt under siege and desperately asked her not to do that. The customer is doing it anyway. I suggested three things:

  1. Never act desperate. Never. You have no power after that. 
  1. Write down the script of the conversation between both parties word for word (don’t just tell him), put it in front of your boss and ask one thing, “Do you have my back?” Trust must occur between manager and direct report or your culture is crap. 
  1. The next time anyone threatens you, confuses you, accuses you or makes you feel undone ask one question, “So that we are clear, what is it that you really want?” Most unhappy people don’t know and will try to deflect. Just keep asking the same question. This is your home base. 

My client said that if she had asked...

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9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before a Major Decision

This list is a guide for when you need to test your aspirations that require a major adjustment to your life and career. It’s a reality check for change. Grab a pen and get started. 

  1. Am I happy? It’s a simple yes or no question. If the answer is “no” then follow with this, “How will I change my perspective and/or situation to create happiness?” Life is short. Don’t have an accidental career or life. 
  1. What does my gut say? Your head is too intellectual. Your heart is too emotional. Trust your instinct. 
  1. Does this change align with my values and those of the people it will affect? Write down your values? Write down the values of important people in your life. You might have to sell this change. Know the benefits to all parties. And know who it will hurt. Is it worth it? 
  1. Am I making this change to run away from something? Change for the sake of change is a mistake. You’ll find yourself in a similar...
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The Best List You Will Ever Make to Be More Effective

We all have to-do lists, project objectives, metrics and planners to help keep us on track in our daily lives. Each year we set high expectations and even with these tools we find ourselves frustrated because we don’t have the structure, systems, or accountability in place to achieve our goals. Couple that with doubt and indecision and you have a perfect recipe for anxiety. In the worst case this leads to action paralysis.

Let’s talk about the best case. Most people know what they need to do to be happy, effective and thrive just not how to do it or what to do with doubt and fear. We spend enough time telling ourselves how we are not equipped to succeed and armoring up against failure by being risk averse. We wallow proficiently on what it is we need to do but spend less time feeling what it would be like to actually live the dream and executing a plan to get there. Guarding against danger is how we have evolved as a species and not become extinct.

We are Jedis at...

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'Older Workers' Are Getting Phased Out

Older workers face a brave new world: 56% of employees over 50 have been pushed out of their longtime jobs, according to recent analysis from ProPublica. And of those workers who find employment at all, only 10% end up making as much as they did before. How can workers protect themselves? First off, know your rights. Also, everyone — no matter their age — ought to focus on keeping their skills fresh, LinkedIn’s Dan Roth tells “CBS This Morning.” And in the meantime, Roth adds, line up a side hustle. “If you have a high likelihood of being pushed out, then you want to make sure there’s something you can fall back on.” 

Be prepared. Make sure you are working on things that are 1) measurable, 2) not easily transferable and 3) new and different and 4) hold a high learning curve. Up your savings or the amount withdrawn from your pay for retirement. Start the side hustle. Stay in shape. Work for a comapny that LIVES its...

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It Touched Me

This week I was refelcting on having had the good fortune of visiting the beautiful town of Copacabana and the city of Rio in Brazil for New Year’s Eve. Ten barges of fireworks are parked in the water all day on New Year's Eve awaiting three million people of all socioeconomic levels from all over the world to descend on the beach in white clothing at sundown. As the late evening approaches, seven cruise ships pepper the water behind them perched for the perfectly coordinated midnight extravaganza in perfect unison. I’ve never seen anything like it. I now know why they call it the best New Year’s Eve celebration in the world. 

In Brazil I was profoundly touched by the natives' desire to work hard and thrive. The lust for life is palpable. There are no entitlements in the country so indeed there is poverty too. But the people are not an angry. They have light hearts, play soccer all over the beach, collect empty cans for money, work tirelessly at whatever they...

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Eight Questions to Set a New Start in Motion

New Year’s Eve has come and gone. It’s a funny night. You are left with a twinge of remorse and a twinge of hope. People migrate to parties and streets with champagne in their hands surrounded by 150 of their closest friends to watch a ball drop anywhere from 10 to 141 feet, while they try to forget that they didn’t accomplish last year’s resolutions and set lower bar resolutions for the coming year. Truly the happiest people of the evening are the cabbies who are out in scores to drive all the partiers home where they welcome the next day with a headache, little recall of their pared back resolve which sounds something like “I will not drink caffeine when the Penguins have a full healthy roster” and a pork shank that needs to be roasted.

 

Most resolutions don’t come to fruition because they are merely notions. “I will lose weight” and “I will get a new job” are notions. “I will go to the gym for an...

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