What Beliefs Affect Your Career

As children we adopt a belief system based on the belief system of our parents. Depending on the parenting style, we are likely rewarded and reinforced for doing what these teachers think is good. We are criticized and penalized for what is bad. It is how we learn to stay safe. It is how we fit in. 

Negative feedback can be helpful in an urgent situation such as a hot stove. Not so much when it comes to development, leaving us feeling as if we don’t belong unless we are ‘good.’ 

As adults we live out this belief system and learned perspectives. When life sends us a difficult situation often we internalize this as having been “bad” and deserving of this hardship. “Must be something wrong with me.” 

Beliefs translate to behaviors. If we grew up around anxiety we’ll likely address discord with it. If we grew up around positivity we’ll find the good. Often negative life messages are merely assumptions but we are...

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The Best List You Will Ever Make to Be More Effective

We all have to-do lists, project objectives, metrics and planners to help keep us on track in our daily lives. Each year we set high expectations and even with these tools we find ourselves frustrated because we don’t have the structure, systems, or accountability in place to achieve our goals. Couple that with doubt and indecision and you have a perfect recipe for anxiety. In the worst case this leads to action paralysis.

Let’s talk about the best case. Most people know what they need to do to be happy, effective and thrive just not how to do it or what to do with doubt and fear. We spend enough time telling ourselves how we are not equipped to succeed and armoring up against failure by being risk averse. We wallow proficiently on what it is we need to do but spend less time feeling what it would be like to actually live the dream and executing a plan to get there. Guarding against danger is how we have evolved as a species and not become extinct.

We are Jedis at...

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When Someone Makes You Look Bad at Work

If you work anywhere you likely have had a colleague try to make you look bad. Most of my clients have had to struggle with this. It is disempowering and injects a fear of losing your job which ultimately leads to a fear of losing people who you love. This is where executive presence is crucial. This is where you don’t react at all. This is where you just pause, stare at them for a count of five and then ask, “Are you trying to make me look bad?” That will stop them dead.

Call them out with curiosity for exactly what they are doing. Don’t characterize them, get angry or defensive. Simply ask them if what it looks like they are doing is in fact what they are doing. If they deflect back to you say, “Ok, I wanted to get clarity on that because for a minute it felt like you were trying to make me look bad.” No one can argue with how you feel.

This scenario gives you a few moments to recenter yourself, for people on the periphery to validate in their...

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One Thing for Your Well-being, Career Efficacy & Executive Presence

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...

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Do This One Thing to Minimize Conflict

Most conflict in the world comes from the need to be right - even the conflict you have with yourself. Your ego tells you that you aren’t safe unless you’re right so you argue, defend, act out, withdraw or stand firm on something that most likely is out of your control. 

When you find your opinion is a little too strong or there’s a feeling that makes you uncomfortable that’s the very time to pause and ask yourself, “What am I trying hard not to face? That I’ll be _________ if this doesn’t change?”

Draw closer to the nasty feeling that chases you down. Name it. That disarms it’s power. “This is what it feels like to feel ______.” Then give yourself a break. “May I be gentle with myself in this moment. I’ve got this one.”

You’re amazing. Don’t ever forget that.

Here is a free tool to help you navigate your career in a complicated corporate setting: 31 Success Practices for...

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Two Questions to Ask When the Issue is Generational

I hear so much in our culture about the differences in the generations. I even hear people identifying themselves by a generation. I think it’s wise to understand people’s differences but I think identifying someone’s behavior with a certain generation is no different than identifying them with a race, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin.

When I hear, “Millennials are the way they are because their parents spoiled them” or “Boomers can’t keep up with technology” I wonder how comfortable people would feel saying, “Hispanics are the way they are because their parents spoiled them” or “Catholics can’t keep up with technology.” Calling out by generation to make a point is elitist, discriminating and insulting.

When you find in a conflict that you are putting someone in a generational box before you characterize them ask yourself, 

“What do they really need me to understand about...

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The Two Things That Kill Careers and Happiness

We continually strategize on the things we need to do to advance our careers, close the sale, be happier, have better relationships and get what we want. More often than not it is what we need to cease doing that gives us the most power.

  1. Don’t discount your dreams.

I used to live life from a “but at least it’s not ______” perspective. I thought this was being positive because I could always think of something worse. This was an OK way of remaining optimistic in the face of adversity until it became habit for all of life and halted my ability to envision the openness of wonder. 

It wasn’t until I was aware of this that I began to risk shifting to the vulnerable choice of exploring joy without expecting it to be short lived. To ushering in opportunity that I knew was meant for me without holding onto fear. To seeing all that was there with the curiosity of a child. This ability to stay in the moment without fast forwarding to an anticipated ending...

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I'm Feeling Anxious

I’m feeling anxious today. I have committed to take two journeys simultaneously that will

1) I’m taking a six-week Dreamwork Coaching Program with master Will Sharon to help my executive coaching clients further build their conscious awareness, peace and effectiveness. It’s not for the faint of heart. It requires online training, hours of classes, work with a partner and more. 

2) I’m taking a Podcast Fellowship Program with a colleague of Seth Godin’s to learn how to launch my first Podcast series around ‘New SMART Leadership.’ 

I asked myself, “Ok Mary Lee, what would you ask a client in this position?” The answer is that I’d ask her to execute the PAUSE Cafe strategy...

I PAUSE and take a deep breath. 

I ASK myself, “What’s going on with me?” I’m feeling scared that I won’t be able to manage my time and will feel stressed. I feel vulnerable because I am not good with...

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How to Let Go

This week a very capable client was struggling with some of the work I am having her do around ‘doubt’ and ‘letting go.’ She said she “came up blank” on what she was angry about, what she can terminate right now, where she feels shame and what she feared.  

Questioning our thoughts and feelings often uncovers that they are assumptions and not true at all. These questions help you get deeply into the thoughts and feelings that hold you back - keep you guarded, resentful or powerless. Nobody wants to face them. But, if we don’t they chase us down the rest of our lives. Think of the last time you lashed out, withdrew, or quit something. What FEELING was at the heart of the behavior? I want you to be able to re-examine that feeling as to whether it is an assumption or really true. (This photo shows the process of finding the pause moment to accomplish this strategy.

She then shared that she does feel shame around weight and being...

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When Ego Gets the Best of You

When we compare and judge we are allowing our ego to dictate our standards. Nothing will ever be good enough in this state because it is a fear based posture. In this space we are not playing to our strengths, we are playing to someone else’s. We are not authentic, we have sold out to shiny objects and fairy tales. We have lost sight of what makes us unique only to trail two steps behind what our ego reminds us we should have but never get.

When my daughter was diagnosed with a developmental disability I used to sit at playgrounds and compare her to other children, leaving me devastated. When my marriage fell apart I continually asked myself why others were happy and I was so unlucky. When I built my coaching practice I used to study what other coaches did to market themselves, trying something new each week.

Then I defined my life by my own standards. Empowerment was the result. I researched and got my daughter the therapies she needed whereby she went to college on a...

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