The Cost of Being Guarded at Work

When I turn away from the truth in my heart I armor up against what is real and then only a facade of myself is evident to others, stripping my executive presence. The really hard part is that it takes twice as much energy to keep up the facade so I’m feeling not only guarded but exhausted. The sad part is that I become so good at the facade that I lose site and concept of who I really am. Others start describing me as someone I don’t know. And I start to wonder what happened to me.  

This big knot of inauthenticity is unwound by leaning into to the very feelings we assume make us weak. The truth is that naming the very feelings we avoid - sad, confused, judged, abandoned, angry, tired, ineffective - disarms their power and opens a window so that clarity may breeze in. It starts with staying present in the moment and not fast forwarding our thoughts to worry about what ‘might’ happen. 

Wishing you vulnerability and openness today.

If you are...

Continue Reading...

Do you need a mentor?

Some leaders think they need to formally engage a mentor, advocate or sponsor to advance. Not so. The best of these for me never knew I considered them such.

Sometimes I created a friendship whereby we supported each other in different ways - me being curious, listening and being honest and them opening doors because they wanted to help me.

Some of my mentors never knew me. I simply observed them, their values, their presence, their leadership and their struggles.

And sometimes I asked people to lunch or called them to answer specific questions that I had thought through ahead of time to make good use of their time. Your best teachers are right in front of you. Self-awareness and executive presence build by observing others and then observing yourself.

My clients define leaders they admire and then list why. They watch YouTube videos of presentations and read their material.

Wishing you one person you admire you will study today.

>>> If you are ready to get off the...

Continue Reading...

When You Know What to do But Can't

You’ve read what the experts say. You’ve collected the necessary tools. You are committed. You are trying. Yet nothing changes. And you feel stagnant. 

When I was a divorced single mother of four children under seven-year's old on welfare, food stamps and medical assistance, homeless and without an automobile I didn’t have time to go back to school to learn a new profession. I had four hungry mouths hanging open in front of me like baby birds. 

Failure wasn’t an option. I decided to cease seeking what was “fair”, stop throwing money away on lawyers and accept that it was a far better use of my energy to focus on succeeding as the sole provider for my children than to expect family court to give anyone a conscience. 

I had to put a plan together to hold my family together. I felt anxious, rejected and exhausted. I can’t tell you that I thought much about planning. There wasn’t time for ideal, only real. There wasn’t...

Continue Reading...

You Have No Problem Starting Over – Finishing is the Problem

Willpower. You have it. You are dedicated. You start with the best intentions. And then you fizzle out. So, you start changing things just for the sake of change – thinking change is better than doing nothing. And you soon find out that the same old feelings loom and the same behaviors repeat – just in another setting. You feel overwhelmed. 

What is the feeling you are running from? I hope you know because it is taking up a lot of space in your head that you would rather fill with joy. It is robbing you of peace and lacing your days and nights with anxiety. You might think it is fear of failure. But what will happen if you fail? What is the ultimate, deep down devastating result that could happen? You lose the love of those who matter? You will be alone? You’ll be powerless? Isn’t it time you stopped practicing failure in advance in your head? 

Slow down

You know you are on the treadmill to nowhere when you repeat the same thoughts and actions and...

Continue Reading...

What to do With Melancholy

I’ve had a very melancholy week. I’m selling my childhood home for my mother, listing my uncle's home for sale (the home my mother grew up in) to help my mother as executor of his estate, and saying goodbye to a majestic era. This photo is of the beautiful patio of The Hotel Excelsior Grand Vittoria in Sorrento, Italy where we stayed several years ago and reminds me that each day has a sunrise and a sunset for a reason. It’s a metaphor for life. Just as the sun has to set in orderly rise again, some things have necessary endings so there can be new beginnings.  

When we grasp onto an ending because we don’t want it to go away it’s like reaching against nature, leaving us forever unsatisfied because what we want is impossible - the energy is against us.  

Honor the memory. For me that means taking the birdbath from my parent’s backyard to my backyard and thinking of my dad who loved to birdwatch every time one of them shakes...

Continue Reading...

Stop Grasping and Copying with this Question

What does success look like for you? It’s different from how it appears to anyone else, Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group founder Laura Gassner Otting tells Gretchen Rubin.

“You can’t be insatiably hungry for other people’s goals, for other people’s definitions of success.”

I watch people constantly grasping for shiny objects - thinking they need to copy what others are doing. This leaves them exhausted and always playing catch-up. When people stop copying and start observing themselves their awareness increases as does their executive presence. They risk more. Their confidence grows. Results start to occur and pretty soon they are shining in their own space, not the shadows of others. Wishing you the courage to slow down and listen to your heart today.

Go for the promotion, new job, side hustle, opportunity. Define your signature strengths, your value proposition and your personal mission. Replace doubt with your empowering belief that is...

Continue Reading...

The First Question to Ask

Yesterday I asked an executive client who is seeking a new position, "What is the biggest thing you did in your current organization in the last year?" He wasn't sure. The question brought him anxiety. After a coaching session he was fully versed in a high-performance answer but until that question he had not defined his value for himself. He had been questioning his value when he is acutely strategic and effective. This lack of self-esteem had been holding him back from applying for jobs in his transferable skill areas and from pitching himself from a position of worth as opposed to passively.

Don't start your job search by researching online for openings. Start by answering this question. Your response should be quantifiable. That means it should reflect an increase or decrease in something, including an amount and percentage.

Too often people cannot equate their value to a metric. If you can't do this you cannot position your value proposition. Surely whatever you are working...

Continue Reading...

Your Comfort Zone

I really like this graphic because it illustrates how we have to move beyond fear before we can truly learn. We can read and study about what we need to do but nothing really changes until we deal with fear first. After conquering fear there is freedom.  

Fear is generally mired in life messages to which we affix assumptions. “I’m not ______ enough.” Unraveling those messages is difficult no doubt. We have to face them first. Examine the discomfort. Define how we feel about it. Welcome it in so we can own it. Not turn away. We can release what we own. If we remain victims and don’t own our discomfort it just keeps chasing us down and we just keep running away. That’s paralyzing.

Wishing you freedom today.

If you are struggling with uncertaintly and feel exhasuted and ineffective watch my FREE Training on Three Ways to Move to the Next Level In Your Career Right Now to 1) identify the right role for you, 2) position your transferable...

Continue Reading...

We're all busy. That's why this works.

The past year and a half has held a lot of transitions in my life. My father passed away. I moved my mother into a nursing home. I had to sell my childhood home, become power of attorney for my mom which then made me executor for her brother’s estate when he passed away. I am now trying to sell his home and handle both of their financial affairs in addition to my job as a CEO, executive coaching practice, and a family with six children.  

I felt as if I was living a peaceful life and one thing after another compounded more responsibility on me than I never expected. Yet during all of this is when I started to knit and paint with watercolors. Yesterday my husband said that I’m ‘calmer’ than he’s ever known me to be. I attribute that to my mindful daily practices and simple goal setting that give me confidence, connection and calm.  

I’m busy just like everyone else. I don’t have time for long journaling. Neither do my...

Continue Reading...

Don't Quit YourBad Job Yet

Let me qualify this graphic. As an executive coach and a CEO who hires people I sometimes see professionals quit their jobs before they have another one. Generally, they do this because they are exhausted, see no way out of their pain and simply cannot spend one more minute in an intolerable situation. They feel they need to do this to preserve their sanity. The problem is that a few months down the road they often find themselves feeling worse – unemployed, without income, feeling low self-esteem, ineffective and desperate. 

I want to go on record in saying that quitting your job before you have another one is a mistake. I realize that some people have done this, and it has worked out fine. But in my experience as a CEO for 20 years and an executive coach for 12 that is the exception. Hiring managers can be leery of people who are not working. It is one red flag that someone who is working does not have. Keep that red flag down. It puts you in a better position to...

Continue Reading...
Close

50% Complete

Welcome! Thanks for signing up!

You will be sent an email with a link each time Mary Lee Gannon updates the Executive Coach's Blog. It's great to have you with us!