Two nights ago I didn’t recognize myself. I got home from a wonderful weekend at the beach to find that all the packages that had been delivered were left in the rain in my driveway instead of on the porch. Many of my Christmas card envelopes had gotten stuck together from the moisture and I had been shorted 25 of them.
As I sat there putting labels on envelopes and trying to pry apart envelopes without ruining them I heard myself say, “I hate doing this. I don’t even know why I send Christmas cards” followed by a few words I can’t even write down.
Now, this is not me. I think all year about the photos on my Christmas cards. It’s my way of sharing a joyous hello. I love opening the cards from friends.
Finally, my husband had to tell me, “OK, that’s enough now” to shake me awake from my funk.
Perfection. Holidays inspire perfection. And that inspires expectations. And that inspires unmet expectations....
As you head into the Thanksgiving holiday please remember to take care of yourself. We often set expectations for holidays that set us up for disappointment. Or we’re sad about who won’t be there. Or we tire ourselves striving for perfection making a meal that gets eaten in 30 minutes.
Thanksgiving is a time when we appreciate all that we already have and already are - a sweet kiss to a child that lives out of town, a laugh shared over a family memory, a favorite smell, the touch of a hand that says, “I’m here and I love you.”
Remember to see people as individuals and not part of a scene you’ve prescribed in your head. Don’t let the holiday go by where you’ve not been fully present for at least one individual precious moment with each and every loved one, including your pet. And sometimes just pause, take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I am grateful to feel good!”
All of our six children will be home...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Below is a note I recently received from a client that although makes me sad, it carries great wisdom. This high performing executive leader was leaving an organization she loved and had relocated for with mixed feelings. As is often the case, she was leaving because of her boss.
Good morning Mary Lee,
I have one more week reporting to this woman that has made the last 14 months of my life incredibly difficult. The exit process has been even more difficult.
In 20 years in the workplace I have never experienced anything like this from someone at this woman's level.
Every leader has opportunity, but I do not believe there are many who behave as badly as what I have witnessed over the past year.
I am also amazed how her leaders look away, an ostrich to this woman's behavior. I am not personalizing this (thank you Mary Lee), I understand it is simply inconvenient to disrupt the status quo or face the difficult conversations or the admit that perhaps it was a mistake to...
Two years ago on a cold December day I felt stressed and overwhelmed so I made a commitment to do something about it, not unlike what many people do as the New Year approaches. I ordered a very expensive and really pretty planner. (Since when did planners start costing $85?) About a week into it I found myself writing mindful daily practices in the margins to hold myself accountable. Three weeks later I was writing my daily goals in the margins too. Four weeks later I was recreating the entire page, ignoring what was on it.
Five weeks into it I tried another planner. Two weeks into using that one I was now writing in the margins again – my gratitude thoughts, how I was feeling – daily practices that help release the negativity we often don’t spend time processing and then can’t let go of. (Dreadful feeling.) I already had a calendar for my to-do list and appointments. I needed a planner for my well-being and big goals.
Over two months I ordered six...
People ask me all the time for my best tip for career advancement. It isn't who you know or what company you work for. It isn't what title you have or what social group you belong to. It is unequivocally the ability to self-regulate your emotions in real time so that you exude the executive presence that draws a loyal following. Period. There are plenty of smart people who don't advance and it isn’t because they aren't capable.
At any moment you may be called on to have confidence to risk, to have candor to create connections or calmness to cool fury. They don't teach this in business school because it's personal to you.
This graphic illustrates one process my clients work on to build executive presence. Become good at untangling life messages that are really only assumptions. You assume you will be judged when in all truth people want you to succeed. You assume you'll be overwhelmed when forging ahead has served you before. You assume your idea isn't important yet when...
I AM SO EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE THIS! I have spent the fall writing and designing a very special set of go-to practice cards that capture the essence of how I teach my clients to have and maintain executive presence. They are ready in time for the holidays!
When tense moments threaten your executive presence 90 Seconds to Ease Cards bring you confidence, connection and calm before you do, write or say something you regret.
What you'll get:
• 10 beautifully designed cards with 90-second go-to strategies to serve as your private coach in difficult moments.
• The ease of having something quick and sturdy at your fingertips to address anxiety with flow on the go.
• A unique and thoughtful gift for congratulating someone in a new role, a special occasion or for yourself.
• An easily accessible tool to carry with you anytime or have handy in your desk, briefcase or nightstand.
You don't want to get emotional at a meeting. You don't want to lash out or withdraw at a...
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