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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I'm Sorry

Ladies! Please stop saying, "I'm sorry" so much especially at work. Not "I'm sorry to bother you." Just "Do you have a minute?" Not "Sorry this is probably stupid..." Just "Can I run something by you?" Not "Sorry" when you bump into someone. Just "Pardon me." Men don't do this because their threshold for being sorry is far higher and more realistic. When is the last time you heard a man say, "I'm sorry can I ask a question?" Be direct. Be confident. Be authentic.

You're not sorry that you want to say something. You just want to feel that others want to hear it. Don't expect that they don't. Focus on listening so your comment will be most relevant. Set your ego aside as you focus on what's important. Play with the concept of who you would be without doubt?

The last person to speak has the most to say. 

Many people are worried right now about their jobs and not sure if an industry switch or a position change is a good idea. I hear it every day. Often more planning goes into a...

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This Matters for You Executive Presence

I really like the line, “Are you operating as an emotion scientist or a judge.” Emotion scientists observe their and other people’s emotions from a third party perspective and get curious about what’s behind them. Judges judge to get away from the discomfort of feeling uncomfortable. 

Scientists process and name the emotion to release it. Judges turn and run from it with it nipping at their heels forever. Scientists have executive presence. Judges get stereotyped as difficult, emotional and ineffective. 

There’s always a choice. One is harder and requires looking inward with humility and curiosity. One is easier and demands externalization with blame that results in underlying shame. 

Practice being the scientist. It makes life and leadership far easier in the long run.

If you want to create your career by design here is a link to my FREE Career and Life Planning Tool. If you don't know where you'll be at the end of the year you are...

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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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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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What to do with Entitled Employees

I’ve never understood why overbearing people think they have power. It’s obvious they don’t. Nobody trusts them or authentically has their back. They are always exhausted trying to make themselves look good at other’s expense. Their insecurities reek in their behavior. And their leadership has no sustainable affect because the people they play to are the first ones off the ship when it starts to go down.  

If you can’t achieve your goals without manipulating, controlling, condescending to, backstabbing, and intimidating other people along the way you’re weak and you will ultimately fail. Period. I’ve seen it in corporate America time and time again. It may not be right away. But it will happen. And your legacy will precede you everywhere you go after that. 

The real problem with mean people is that they are intrinsically unhappy, insecure and have minimal self-awareness. The root feeling behind their behavior is anger coupled...

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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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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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5 Executive Presence Calming Strategies for the Moment You're Confronted

Your day is going well. You’ve done your research and are a maven on your project. You’re in a meeting and out of nowhere someone blindsides you with cynical inuendo, overt criticism, passive aggressive posturing or their personal agenda. Your body gets stiff. Your face feels flushed. Your heart is racing. A voice inside your head is screaming, ‘Danger!’ And then in your own defense you do or say something you later regret.

We’ve all been there.

Some people can weather these situations without losing their presence. Others cannot. The difference is that some people have trained themselves to be able to notice what is happening to them, both emotionally and physiologically, lean into it with curiosity as opposed to away in fear, and allow the immediate physiological and emotional response to subside so they can respond appropriately.

Initially, you may think you don’t have time for this transition to take place before you need to react. Like most...

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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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