The Progress Continues

The work in progress continues. Last weekend I started oil painting. This weekend I’m still at it. Not a quitter here. I have had no formal training and haven’t oil painted since high school. This was a whole new territory for me. It is a little scary and intimidating. 

You probably can identify with the excitement and doubtful feelings of trying something new – looking for a new job in a different industry or with a different title, trying to stick to a daily exercise routine to get in shape, committing to better relationship skills such as listening and pausing. 

You have the best intentions. You tell yourself you will do whatever necessary to get the outcome you want – a new job, a healthier lifestyle and better physique, a closer relationship. And the first day you find you have already fallen off plan. Now, you feel even worse because not only are you discouraged, but you don’t see any hope because although you want change, you...

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When You've Been Through a Lot and Feel Alone

You know who you are, super heroes.

Here’s to you for not sitting back, for not whining, for making it work despite the odds, for taking risks in the face of doubt, for holding true to your priorities sometimes at the detriment of yourself, for having vision and finding a way, for listening and caring when you thought you had little to give, for being gentle with yourself when it seemed nobody was.

Here's to you for failing and starting again this time with wisdom, for swapping assumptions for the truth, for not letting comparison distract you from your goals and achievements, for wearing all the hats even when they didn’t all fit, for not needing to be right but for getting it right, for not being perfect but still awesome.

Here's to you for lying awake at night worrying about things outside of your control and accepting that no matter what happens you’ve got this, for understanding that judgment only makes you judge yourself far worse, for having the courage to...

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Just Calm Down

Telling someone who is visibly upset to "Just calm down" is like saying, “Just stop overeating” to someone who wants to lose weight. Intellectually, you know what you need to do yet your self-management skills aren’t keen enough to cease the behavior or the unresolved feeling. And quick fix advice such as “be positive” makes you feel worse because it denies the inadequacy you feel inside. 

I used to be more of what could have been labeled a ‘distant’ leader. Calming down was not my issue. Relatability was.

Three things changed that for me and for my clients struggling with how to manage emotions:

1) Allow them.

2) Be curious about them.

3) Be compassionate to yourself and others.

This wasn’t a quick fix. It was a repeated practice of continually taking myself through this exercise of self discovery which lead to self acceptance.

I was a single mother and only provider of four children who was stuck in survival mode. I neglected...

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Purpose is Overrated

There is a lot of focus on purpose in our culture. Not having one can make people feel less than adequate especially when everyone else seem to have one.  If you don't know your purpose don't worry. You already have one. It is the same purpose everyone else has - to stay alive. That is why we are not extinct as a species. Because it is the human condition to be very good at staying safe so as to live.

Centuries ago humans refined how to exist in a tribe and to know their roles in the tribe because if they didn't they may become ostracized by the tribe where they could die at the hands of another tribe or the elements. That fight-flight-or-flee mentality kept people safe and alive. Today that guarded mentality doesn't serve us as well, especially if it shows up as a low risk tolerance in a leadership setting. 

On a job interview often candidates will answer the question, "What is your purpose?" by saying, “I just want to make a difference.” This doesn’t...

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If You Are Easily Offended

Many truly great leaders have a trigger that once tripped eradicates composure, reduces executive presence, and strips effectiveness as a behavior they don’t want to exhibit takes over. 

That behavior could be getting emotional, lashing out defensively, crusading offensively, withdrawing in defeat and others. At this point you are off your game and people not in this fight-flight-freeze trap can manipulate you if their motivation serves them to do so. 

Everyone has a trigger. It’s where we feel most vulnerable - most hurt, sad, angry, undervalued, small, at risk, ineffective. In a nut shell it’s where we feel most alone. It’s like being immediately thrust to the edge of a cliff with a herd of rhinoceroses charging you and nobody there to throw you a rope. 

Great leaders lean in not out from this feeling. They sense it coming, get curious about what the vulnerability is trying to teach them, nurture it like a puppy, throw themselves a rope...

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When You Personalize Your Employees' Behavior

When I was a new manager I used to personalize why members of my team weren’t engaged. I made it about me. I was the reason they were under-performing.  

I did everything in my power to re-engage them and when it didn’t work I then started to resent them for being disengaged. What I didn’t do was hold them firmly accountable to clear goals for fear of push-back and confrontation. I didn’t do my job as a manager and they became entitled.  

When I set clear goals and began meeting with them regularly on their performance on those goals we began a dialogue around the challenges they were having and could role play alternative scenarios. The feedback depersonalized for me when I made it about their performance on the goals and not their attitude versus my expectations. Very objective. Them against the goal, policy, company value - not me. 

Wishing you the power of regular feedback on clearly defined goals today.

Listen to a recent...

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When You Want to Do Something Else

Every year at this time I ask my clients to designate one word for the year that will serve as a homing beacon for when life is confusing. This year I chose the world "ALLOW." I wrote the word in sand at our beach house, took a photo of it and put the image in a frame on my night stand where I look at it each evening before bed and each morning before I start my day. I've been doing this for years.

The word ALLOW served me well this year. I prevailed in my work on a $4.6 million capital campaign for an important project that serves under-resourced patients, supported my mother in an independent living facility, was executrix on my uncle's estate, overcame health challenges, celebrated a milestone birthday with the people I love - all while in the stress of a pandemic where people were sick and dying at the hospital where I am its Foundation's president.

I ALLOWED what was out of my control while focusing my energy on what was in my control. And for me a lot of that energy went...

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Age Bias is Alive and Well

Ageism in the workforce is palpable. I have many clients experiencing it right now - getting phased out because they’re viewed as not tech savvy or sharp enough. Not only is that biased and discriminative, it’s just not true. But some work environments minimize this subset of the workforce so much that the workers begin to dummy down their own performance to play it safe and in that self-sabotage state live up to the stereotype they’ve been dubbed. Viscous. 

People in their 50s and 60s taught themselves how to use computers, survived wars with resilience and without the post-war armed services suicide rates we are seeing today, are loyal, can handle conflict, have no problem cold calling, can negotiate, can start and carry a conversation longer then a minute, can close a deal, and can build alignment. They also have institutional memory and want to serve and develop others. Is there no value for these skills? Of course there is. But just as our culture...

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When I do Something in 30 Minutes It's Because of This

Some days I sit in my office and think how easy my job is until I see someone else make a decision or take action that I know is ill advised and will have negative results. Then I remember the countless 12-hour days and weekends I put in to have the breadth of perspective I’ve learned. I remember the negative results I experienced when I didn’t know better. And I think about the really stressful days in my work that try my patience and bring me sleepless nights. 

Your time is valuable. This is why I don’t hire lawyers, accountants or consultants who are not mavens at what they do because they make you pay for their learning curve. 

Be an expert. Work for a company that values your expertise. And if you are feeling age discrimination when your company should be putting your expertise to good use, this link to the strategies I share with my clients might help >>> 10 Tips When You Fear Age Bias 

If you are struggling with uncertainty and...

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The Top Skill for Executive Advancement

In my executive coaching practice I help people build the most important skill to uplevel their career and happiness. Most people think that work ethic and resilience are the top indicators of success. Grit is indeed a valued skill. But at a certain level everyone has it. The most sought-after skill for executive advancement is self-awareness. It is most desired because it carries the ability to grow while managing emotions that get in the way of risk taking, feedback and success. There are two types of self-awareness: 1) being aware of your own thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and 2) being aware of how you are viewed by others. 

Leaders are generally are aware of their thoughts but often underutilize their power to disengage from false assumptions that they’ve adopted as facts and end up being emotionally paralyzed from the negative feelings and low self-esteem that result. Competent and even confident leaders then wonder why they aren’t advancing, aren’t...

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