Often, we go about our lives thinking our relationships at work and in life are ok while under the surface a subtle ember of discord is burning. Then one day it bursts into full blaze and we do or say something that rips at our presence. At work this is particularly difficult when it strips your executive presence. One of the subtle feelings that shreds our peace is the feeling that we have been taken for granted.
You might think you hate your boss or that a colleague is self-absorbed but that is focusing on their behavior and not your feelings. What does their behavior make you feel? Small? Disregarded? Disrespected? Undervalued? Naming the feeling disarms its power.
You know you want to draw healthier boundaries when you feel taken advantage of, taken for granted, responsible for someone else’s happiness or blatantly disrespected. To understand the power of health boundaries first imagine that you are...
I work with clients a lot on how mindful daily practices impact your effectiveness and happiness. Recently, I bought some water color supplies on Amazon, watched a video on watercolor painting and experimented one evening. I had fun then tucked the supplies away for another day.
Last week, after the overwhelming and emotional experience of having to clean out my parent’s house to sell, I got out the box of supplies, threw inhibition to the wind and on the first page of my new watercolor journal painted an image from a peaceful photograph I had taken in the low country of South Carolina. It won’t be in any art contests but the experience of doing this with a shuffle of Michael Buble playing in the background calmed me.
In that space I could get curious about my emotions instead of running from them. I felt frustrated that my brother was not there to help me. I was sad going through the papers and memories of my father. I was worried about my mother who we had...
Last evening a client told me a story of how a customer was being condescending and threatened to report her to her boss in a truly snotty way over something that didn’t make sense. My client felt under siege and desperately asked her not to do that. The customer is doing it anyway. I suggested three things:
My client said that if she had asked...
This list is a guide for when you need to test your aspirations that require a major adjustment to your life and career. It’s a reality check for change. Grab a pen and get started.
I have a client who is struggling hard in her marriage right now and it reminds me about the stake we take in dreams. Pain and suffering are real and raw when they hit our emotions yet we justify that the situation might not be that bad because we care about someone and the thought of losing them threatens our ability to be strong and rips at our dreams - in this case the dream of happily ever after.
Make no mistake - there is no ‘strength’ in putting up with something that doesn’t feel right and isn't showing any sign of gettng better. That is denial. As much as you love someone if they have it in them to tear out your heart that is a choice and they are not a victim of circumstance. Communication is key. If there is none, you have a problem. If the other person doesn't choose to improve the communication and passive agressively makes you the issue that is a serious red flag.
Separate the person from the dream. The dream can still be...
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...
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...
Have you ever had a visceral reaction to a colleague where just to be around them made you cringe? Generally that discomfort is based in ego - your competitiveness gone haywire. We get triggered into fight-or-flight and our ego hates to lose.
Prepare before these encounters by anticipating the experience going well - where you shift from being defensive to being CURIOUS about HIS ego and need to be right or superior. Imagine if you could watch her arm wrestling her ego because that is exactly what is happening when people are mean - they are at war with themselves. Happy people do not hurt one another or seek attention.
Be the curious servant leader. “Jean, I sense that I’m not meeting your needs. I want to be helpful. If I were meeting your needs, what exactly would that look like?” She will likely not be able to be specific because she’s so tied up in attention seeking ego. If she is specific you’ll have great intel.
1. Be YOU-SMART first.
Self-awareness is a leading indicator of happiness and success because if you are aware of what is in your mind you can self-regulate a negative thought before it triggers bad behavior and cripples your executive presence. Don't retreat to a default behavior of lashing out, withdrawing, defensive posturing or paralysis. Be mindful of your thoughts. Become an observer of them without inserting yourself into the emotion of them. Be gentle with yourself. Be self-compassionate when you doubt yourself. If you know your strengths, play to them. Surround yourself with people who have your weaknesses as their strengths so that you may observe their behavior.
Define your personal values so that you know when you are out of alignment with them and can readjust in situations as opposed to trying to achieve an expectation that isn't in alignment with your authenticity. Personal values are simply the things you hold dear that no one can take away from you such as humor,...
By nature we home into a negative bias. It’s how we’ve evolved as a species and not become extinct - by keeping ourselves safe. We are very good at noticing danger - so good that our ‘danger antenna’ is primed more than our ‘happiness antenna.’
So how do we break through this false-prison-comfort-zone we trap ourselves in?
Certainly not by pressing down the gas peddle on more of the same - complaining, blaming, victimizing, playing it safe. These are the very thoughts we need to let go of to take the risks that bring growth.
Deal with the things you run from. It is the only way to let them go. Yes, it’s hard. But if we don’t admit what feeling is at the root of our pain it will bubble up each time that feeling you haven’t accepted is triggered. You may have felt abandoned, rejected, dismissed, hurt. Whatever it is examine it. Don’t turn away. “I feel dismissed and it hurt.” Get...
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