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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Rejection Can Be Debilitating

Rejection can be debilitating. You won’t worry about how other people feel about you if you have the presence to manage yourself and your thoughts. Build a “family” of people around you that consistently reminds you how awesome you are. That tribe combats the doubt that sits idle in your head ready to undercut your self worth at any moment of rejection because you hadn’t heard often enough of your magnificence.

My clients focus a lot on ‘Optimizing Your Environment.’ When you have a tribe that reinforces how you belong like close family you won’t hear “no” as a personal rejection. It just means you’re not a good fit for them and has no bearing on your self worth or your value to the world.
 
Unfortunately, when we doubt our worth we distance ourselves more from the very intimacy we need with colleagues and people who care. Instead of growing closer to caring people who reinforce us, we don’t trust that we deserve...
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When They Don't Talk About It

We personalize other people’s behavior in an effort to guard against their wrath. This isn’t helpful. Your colleague’s frustration, anger, condescension or dismissiveness might be vented at you but is not rooted in you. There is nothing wrong with you because someone treats you poorly. Good people know how to communicate without making you feel small. 

Try asking them this: “If we were to have a better working relationship what would that look like?” This forces them to articulate action not victimization. 

Then don’t speak or interrupt. Say only, “Tell me more about that.” 

Let them feel heard. DON’T defend yourself - just repeat back what you heard. In there words will be things they are likely wrong about. But let them be validated. 

Ask them if they want a better working relationship with you. This is important because if they say “yes,” which they likely will, now they’ve made a...

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Three Steps When You're Afraid

This week I had to give a presentation at work not unlike others I’ve given throughout my career, yet I was nervous. Every time I thought about it my heart started to race and I got tense in my neck and shoulders. Public speaking is one of the leading causes for workplace fear. But I speak often so my nervousness didn’t make sense. As an executive coach I know not to turn away from fear but to bring it closer like you would a hurting child. That self-nurturing was hard in this instance. But I kept getting curious about what I was really afraid of. 

When I could stand open and vulnerable without judging myself, I realized I had a lot of personal distractions this week that made me feel anxious and irritable. Just the day before I had argued with an online bank customer service representative who refused to cancel a credit card they had sent to my home for my deceased father. I kept trying to convince him that this was the bank’s problem and should not be my...

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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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Don't Waste Time on Resolutions - Do This Instead

My husband and I were sitting alone on the beach of our home on Hilton Head Island last week on Christmas eve. COVID had altered the travel plans of our six children and their families. We had decided if we were going to be alone for Christmas we'd be in a place we love. We sat there talking about how COVID has changed so much for everyone this year. I deliberately got up from my chair and snapped this photo as my commitment to moving forward with a fresh perspective. Hope is on the horizon. Though hope is not a strategy, it reminds me that it is time to plan.

Would you take a trip without a map? Of course not. So why do we think we can create a New Year’s resolution and get there just because we want to? The reason most resolutions fail is because they are simply notions centered on “getting” something and not grounded in your values - the root of what drives you. They aren’t authentic and aligned with your core.     ...

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The Grass Is Greenest Here

It’s wise to observe ourselves just as we observe others. This is how we build self-awareness and executive presence. But when we insert judgment into the equation the sum ends up in the red. Judgment negates everything we work for. Many of my clients start out riddled with self-doubt and an inner critic that is difficult to harness. If that is you, observe the feeling and tell yourself, “Oh, that’s just me doubting myself,” as opposed to judging yourself for feeling that way. We can let go of that which we own. That which we turn away from chases us down forever. 

Observe for the purpose of gathering information.  

Observe as if you are watching yourself or another on TV. 

Observe for the sheer purpose of allowing the truth of the situation to be evident without any editorial judgment. 

Someone or something may be upsetting you. Don’t attach an assumption to it or a story that is biased. 

Water the grass where you are...

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Being Alone

Our natural state is to be connected to others - not separate and detached. This is not to negate the fact that we all need alone time to recharge our energy. When we repeatedly withdraw and are alone we aren’t fulfilled. It takes courage and humility to put down our guard. It takes self-acceptance, vulnerability and abandonment of perfectionism to create an open mindset of kindness.

Leaders who are real are relatable. Leaders with executive presence aren’t artificial. Their presence isn’t a facade. They have feelings just like everyone else. They just know how not to allow emotion to cloud their judgment and affect their behavior. They notice the emotion - doubt, anger, fear, sadness - realize it is likely an assumption and let it go before it takes over. Negative assumptions sabotage our connection with others and ourselves.

As humans we have the ability to mindfully observe our thoughts, situations and emotions from a third party perspective so that we may...

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It Is Not Your Job to Engage Them

Corporations spend a lot of energy on employee engagement as if there is some magic formula of training, open door policies, and standardized performance evaluations such that if the leader does all of them in perfect harmony, they’ll have a symphony of engagement.  

It’s not the leader’s job to engage workers. It’s the workers’ job to come to work ready to do their best. The problem is employees may not know how to be their best or what ‘best’ looks like. It’s the leader’s job to issue the call to excellence and help employees be great.   

Free lunch, a pool table in the break room and flex hours are not the answer to poor engagement. Setting clear goals is a start but can backfire and lead to entitlement without accountability. 

Often bureaucracy, cynicism, personal agendas and politics start to poison company cultures, especially when employees start attaching interpretive stories to factual...

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10 Assumptions That Kill Careers and 10 Truths that Advance Them

I have many clients working in toxic cultures that minimize the contributions of good leaders as well as divide otherwise collaborative people against each other. Often victims of these cultures internalize that they are being targeted and become paranoid. They play it safe and downplay their ingenuity to remain unseen. They fear being terminated which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because they end up doing or saying something out of frustration that gets them in trouble.  

Empowerment happens when you can tell the distinct difference between what is an assumption and what is true. Assumptions are limiting. Truth is actionable. 

10 Assumptions That Kill Careers and 10 Truths that Advance Them 

  1. I don’t have enough experience. 

Experience can be learned. Motivation, dedication, resourcefulness and tenacity are transferable. If you know more about an industry or skill it will not alter any of these intrinsic characteristics. Think of the lowest...

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