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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When Someone You Love is Dying and It Makes You Uncomfortable

I have a client who is struggling with the impending death of her father. Watching someone you love suffer and decline is excruciatingly painful. You want to help but you can’t. You want to escape the struggle with your own mortality but you can’t. And family members commence friction with each other that was never there before. 

There is no textbook on how to deal with a dying parent but one book I recommend made a big difference for me in shepherding my children through the death of their father. It’s called The Four Things That Matter Most. 

We can’t change the fact that we all will die someday. None of us are getting out of this alive. But we can be alongside someone who is dying. It is enough. We need not fill the silence with chatter. We need not feel inadequate because we can’t fix things or afraid of the human process. Embrace acceptance. Death is part of life. Being there is enough. “I can’t change this for you but may I...

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Disarm the Bully with Your Game

Last evening one of my clients was suffering because of a colleague who was bullying her. This bully was sucking her energy and high performance right out of her. I was so happy for her to watch her become a mindful third party observer of the bully’s behavior such that it even made her laugh.

Losing your cool is as bad as withdrawing. Both render you ineffective. Both dummy down your authentic risk taking ability. People notice both. 

When you play it safe or are reactionary you are playing THEIR game. Play YOUR game. Pause. Critical think. Observe what is behind the mask. Be curious. Then get back to your strengths. 

When the bully senses that you are holding it together his or her behavior will escalate. That is where you become amused. Just stare at them. Observe. It can be quite entertaining.

May you become a silent witness to all your experiences, including your personal history. That’s power. That’s executive presence.

Do you want to advance in...

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The Difference Between Confidence and Self-Esteem

"Being an upstander very often means standing alone, which takes guts," writes Jennifer Merritt, Editor in Chief, Digital at PwC.

“Most people are bystanders--not because they don't want to stand up, but because they're afraid to speak up, afraid of repercussions, don't observe the world around them enough, or simply because they don't know what to do or say in the moment. To be an upstander among bystanders takes courage and conviction.”

In my work and in my coaching practice I often see people with confidence who do not have high self-esteem. They are not the same thing. Confidence is being competent. Self-esteem is knowing you belong. 

Out the limiting false-belief that holds you back - that message that plays like a broken record in your head. It usually sounds like this....”I’m not _______ enough.”

Then name everything believing that has cost you. Now what would life be like without that thought?

You are resilient. And you belong living your...

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