We're all busy. That's why this works.

The past year and a half has held a lot of transitions in my life. My father passed away. I moved my mother into a nursing home. I had to sell my childhood home, become power of attorney for my mom which then made me executor for her brother’s estate when he passed away. I am now trying to sell his home and handle both of their financial affairs in addition to my job as a CEO, executive coaching practice, and a family with six children.  

I felt as if I was living a peaceful life and one thing after another compounded more responsibility on me than I never expected. Yet during all of this is when I started to knit and paint with watercolors. Yesterday my husband said that I’m ‘calmer’ than he’s ever known me to be. I attribute that to my mindful daily practices and simple goal setting that give me confidence, connection and calm.  

I’m busy just like everyone else. I don’t have time for long journaling. Neither do my...

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Don't Quit YourBad Job Yet

Let me qualify this graphic. As an executive coach and a CEO who hires people I sometimes see professionals quit their jobs before they have another one. Generally, they do this because they are exhausted, see no way out of their pain and simply cannot spend one more minute in an intolerable situation. They feel they need to do this to preserve their sanity. The problem is that a few months down the road they often find themselves feeling worse – unemployed, without income, feeling low self-esteem, ineffective and desperate. 

I want to go on record in saying that quitting your job before you have another one is a mistake. I realize that some people have done this, and it has worked out fine. But in my experience as a CEO for 20 years and an executive coach for 12 that is the exception. Hiring managers can be leery of people who are not working. It is one red flag that someone who is working does not have. Keep that red flag down. It puts you in a better position to...

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I'm fine.

This was definitely me - utterly exhausted as a single parent and sole provider of four children under seven and putting on that everything was ok. I felt judged, tired, inadequate, and ineffective at almost everything. I felt edgy, unhappy and anxious that I wasn’t doing enough or good enough.  

Did I make time to take care of myself by reminding myself that I was awesome just as I was with all my imperfections? No way. No time. I just kept surviving and wearing myself down while pretending I was superwoman. 

As I look back now I see that I already had everything I needed to be a great mom, employee, friend, and leader. I just needed to slow down enough to be gentle with myself in order to be gentle with others. I needed to listen and stop talking. I needed to be curious instead of judgmental because as I judged others I was judging myself far worse. 

Take care of yourself first. All roads lead from there. Self-acceptance trumps all.

My leadership,...

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Telling People How to Improve is Pointless


I’ve always felt that telling people how to improve was pointless. That’s like telling them from the start that they’re not good enough and this makes them shut right down. Applauding and guiding them for excellence while personalizing only to yourself and not them engages people. 

I use the FBI method. “I FELT you really demonstrated great anticipation skills when you (BEHAVIOR) pulled that comparative research on the results of our last campaign. The IMPACT of this is changing our direction to be more focused on one-on-one relationship building and not costly mass acquisition initiatives.” This is far better than, “Great job” or “We didn’t do a good job on that.”

Legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry turned around his struggling team not by showing highlight films of mistakes but by combing through game footage to create a highlight reel for each player of them doing something easily, naturally and...

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6 Tips When You are Taken for Granted

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. 

  1. Name what you’re feeling.

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. 

  1. Draw healthy boundaries.

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...

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Does Your Team Put Work or Passion First?

I took this photo of a young man in Rio de Janeiro who spent the day canvasing the beach and garbage bins for empty soda cans to turn in for money. There are no entitlement programs in Brazil and while some choose to thieve on the beach (we saw them being arrested) this leader chose to contribute to his own worth and that of society.

Those of you who manage people understand the importance of engagement. Here are some sage words from Seth Godin on the tug of war between what comes first - passion or work.

'Work before passion

“Offer me something I’m passionate about and I’ll show up with all of my energy, effort and care.”

That’s a great way to hide.

Because nothing is good enough to earn your passion before you do it. Perhaps, in concept, it’s worthy, but as soon as you closely examine the details and the pitfalls, it’s easy to decide it’s better to wait for a better offer.

What about considering the opposite?

“Offer me a chance...

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When You Are Overwhelmed and Pointing Fingers

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...

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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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When They Threaten to Make You Look Bad

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:

  1. Never act desperate. Never. You have no power after that. 
  1. Write down the script of the conversation between both parties word for word (don’t just tell him), put it in front of your boss and ask one thing, “Do you have my back?” Trust must occur between manager and direct report or your culture is crap. 
  1. The next time anyone threatens you, confuses you, accuses you or makes you feel undone ask one question, “So that we are clear, what is it that you really want?” Most unhappy people don’t know and will try to deflect. Just keep asking the same question. This is your home base. 

My client said that if she had asked...

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Eight Questions to Set a New Start in Motion

New Year’s Eve has come and gone. It’s a funny night. You are left with a twinge of remorse and a twinge of hope. People migrate to parties and streets with champagne in their hands surrounded by 150 of their closest friends to watch a ball drop anywhere from 10 to 141 feet, while they try to forget that they didn’t accomplish last year’s resolutions and set lower bar resolutions for the coming year. Truly the happiest people of the evening are the cabbies who are out in scores to drive all the partiers home where they welcome the next day with a headache, little recall of their pared back resolve which sounds something like “I will not drink caffeine when the Penguins have a full healthy roster” and a pork shank that needs to be roasted.

 

Most resolutions don’t come to fruition because they are merely notions. “I will lose weight” and “I will get a new job” are notions. “I will go to the gym for an...

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