Holding a Hand for the First Time

Last summer my father passed away. It was a difficult time for me as I know it is for any of you who have a dying parent or who have lost a loved one. I did a lot of journaling during that time and I share the passage below with you in hope that it inspires you to embrace the difficult feelings of grief. My wish is that you may process and won the feelings you turn away from - that you allow them to flow through you - not get struck inside you and fester. That is how we have freedom. Namaste.

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Last night I held a hand for the first time. Indeed throughout my life I have held many hands - extending myself to help, reaching for comfort, joining in an act of love. But last night I held the hand of a man who knows he is dying and it felt like we were the only two people in the world. 

My father is the epitome of grace, leadership, and strength. At the end of his life all of these qualities still stand in spite of a failing body. I coach and train on mindfulness, the...

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No one wants to hurt

Recently I had the honor of attending a mindfulness presentation and meditation session by Buddhist Monk Dr. Barry Karzin, physician for The Dalai Lama, sponsored by UPMC in celebration of Nurses Week.

He reminded us that one of the kindest things we can do for someone we are serving, no matter what the industry, is to ask them, “What’s the most important thing I can do for you today?”

There is no word in the Tibetan language or in Buddhism for “guilt” because when we have healthy confidence no one is ever condescended to. There is no putting down - especially of one’s self - only compassion. Compassion is the desire and action to alleviate suffering. Loving others, especially when their behavior makes it difficult, helps us to be compassionate.

We all want to be happy. No one wants to hurt.

Your coach,

Mary Lee

P.S. Money replenishes itself. Time does not.  Click here to request a call with me and let's talk about your...

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The Seven Deadly Sins Leaders Commit That Hold Them Back

The Seven Deadly Sins is a group of vices within religious teachings that are known as excessive versions of one's natural faculties. Though identified by desert fathers in the third century as passions one needed to overcome, these shortcomings play out today in the workforce. And they can make you pretty scary to deal with.

  1. Pride that you are more capable than your employees. How gratifying is it to be dubbed ‘King Know-It-All’ when everybody hates your guts? When you make all the decisions and give continual directives it cuts off their independence and desire to take risks. Innovation suffers and disengagement grows. Hire good people and get out of their way. 
  1. Sloth in your dedication to develop your personal growth and that of your team. You develop projects but how often do you develop your emotional intelligence? When was the last time you asked an employee, ‘Where do you see yourself three years from now? What project would you like to...
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The Dos and Don’ts of Executive Presence When the Pressure is On

When you are in that high-stakes meeting, sales presentation, interaction, or conflict your executive presence is both emotional and physiological. Your thoughts race and your heart rate escalates. People watch you. How do you execute when the pressure is on?

Confidence and self-esteem are two different things. Both are essential for executive presence. Confidence is being capable, but that isn’t enough. Self-esteem is feeling worthy – that you belong. We build both intentionally by challenging ourselves and regulating our emotions in the moment. That means you know the goal but focus on being your best without pre-occupation with your performance. Slow down your breathing and move your focus from anxious thoughts to following your breath. That clearing allows you to observe your behavior before emotions move you into a fight-or-flight mentality.   

A prime athlete trains to win. When the game is played she isn’t focused on the score, just...

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Self-Awareness Building Questions to Answer Before the Interview

Before you spend time preparing to answer difficult interview questions here are some questions to ask yourself. If you can answer these questions you will better be able to position your signature strengths in alignment with the company’s goals. 

Self-Awareness Building Questions to Answer Before the Interview 

  1. Do you understand the purpose of the business for which you are interviewing? Study it on their web site. Ask people who know the organization questions about the culture. Be able to describe what your impression is and ask questions about it. Say it out loud.
  2. Why are you passionate about the company mission? How do your values align with the company’s values? Say this out loud.
  3. Have you defined your transferable skills - click here for free training on Transferable Skills and other ways to advance in your career)- from your education and experience that can be applied to this position? Can you recite them out loud?
  4. What signature strength do you...
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Five Ways to Establish a Strong Leadership Brand

Create a five-column matrix and fill in the blanks with responses to the following points. When we have humility to mindfully accept the truth of our situation on paper, it gives us a tangible and actionable plan to execute and track. 

  1. Your Aspiration: List three things you want to be known for.   

If you aren’t sure, imagine you were giving your retirement speech. Looking back, what would you comment on as your most fulfilling accomplishments? 

  1. Their Perception: What do you suppose your colleagues would say about you now? Be honest. 

Ask yourself this: What would be said about you at your funeral by 1) a friend 2) a family member and 3) a work colleague? What would those who don’t care for you say? 

  1. Your Reality: Ask five people you work closely with how they would describe you at work.

Send an email to five unbiased people with whom you have worked over the last year. Tell them you are working on your leadership...

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Holiday Weekend Aha Moment

This past holiday weekend held a moment where I realized that with all we work so hard to achieve and how we strive for perfect experiences that the greatest feelings in life come when your hair is down and no one is watching. Fortunately for me my daughter was watching and captured this one with my grandson. Love on the Chesapeake.

With work, with family and with just about any situation we can get stuck projecting what we want the situation to be like to suit our needs. I used to do this a lot with family get togethers. As leaders we repeat this blind habit because we think our almighty discernment is always necessary. My life is so much more peaceful and rewarding when I don't have to direct it like a movie but when I can watch it like entertainment. Believe me - there are plenty of comical moments. When I think back to how often I wanted things to be on my terms and how really silly I was to think I could actually make that happen it makes me chuckle. Insight is...

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The Five Biggest Mistakes People Make When Looking for a New Job

  1. They apply for jobs online with mass production speed, using the same resume. 

Slow down. Recruiters and talent acquisition professionals get an overwhelming number of applicants for each open position and must eliminate most of them. Your resume only stands out from the slush pile as a keeper when the hiring manager can 1) tell you understand the mission and goals of their organization, 2) have aligned your past experience with the role at hand and 3) have positioned at least one distinct “It-Factor” that intrigues them. Fashion your resume with the detail of a fine tailor. Reference organizational qualities you’ve learned from the website. Site news on the company or industry that you’ve researched online. Position internal contacts you’ve developed on LinkedIn and elsewhere as advocates to give you insight into the culture and to open a door for you.     

  1. They limit their search to the same industry and same size company....
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Three Ways to Manage Up When You Have a Bad Boss

One of the tests of being a leader is knowing how to navigate a boss who doesn’t score highly as a leader him/herself.

Mapping a Course to Manage a Difficult Boss 

  1. Manage Yourself 

Start from the perspective that the disconnect might be a miscommunication. “I want to make sure I understand what you need from me.” Then clarify.  

If you internalize a bad boss’s anger, insecurity or lack of skill you could allow your weaknesses to show instead of your strengths to shine. Their lack of confidence, disorganization or lack of inclusiveness is about them. Not you. Don’t mirror their insecurity. Be self-aware. Who are you when under fire? How do you demonstrate grace and grit – executive presence? If your work life were a movie who would play you and what would he/she do in your situation? 

Be a mindful third-party observer of your own thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself what is really going on with you? What are you afraid...

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8 Tips for When You Fear Age Bias in the Workplace

I see a trend in the American workforce and as a coach struggle with how to make sense of it. This week alone one of my clients was terminated, one was put on a 90-day Performance Improvement Plan that is likely to end in termination, and another had his compensation decreased by $100,000. I find it no accident that the ages of these three people respectfully are 56, 57 and 61.

In many ways, our culture does not value the seasoned wisdom of decades of experience or appreciate the dedication of years of service. Companies see that they can replace “aging” employees with younger people they can pay less. It’s as if they feel “younger” energy will bring more innovation and greater results at a lower cost. They feel the aging employee’s mindset is outdated and that they can’t keep up with technology. That is just plain and simply — Age Bias — and short-sighted.

Employees see this coming. Organizations send people they have...

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