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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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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How to Have Executive Presence in an Anxious Moment

Often clients ask me how to have executive presence - how to remain calm in the face of feeling stressed, threatened and judged.  

Mindfulness is key. Being mindful is being a third party observer to feelings we’ve leaned away from so that we may lean into them without judgment or the feeling of being swallowed by them. We observe the thought in the context of right now instead of forever feeling flawed.  

Think of a bird in the sky sometimes flying erratically especially when other birds are attacking. The bird is your thoughts or emotions. The other birds represent perceived threats. Yet the sky is constant. Undisturbed. When we identify with the sky instead of the bird we identify with our AWARENESS of all the thoughts and emotions instead of being consumed with the affects of thoughts and emotions. Here we can stay calm. We can mindfully stay in the moment without judgment and observe the situation from a detached perspective. In this safe place we can...

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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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Undoing the Wicked Toll of Comparing Yourself to Others

Recently I listened to a client who is struggling in her marriage discuss how difficult it is to watch other happily married couples. I understand the feeling. I spent a lot of time in my first marriage wishing I had what others had and comparing myself to them as well as enabling bad behavior by making excuses for him. Then my third child was born with a developmental disability and I used to sit at playgrounds comparing her to other children while somewhat insensitively pushing her and her therapists like machines because I became so outcome focused. 

What I realized is that when we compare our lives to others and grasp at what isn’t ours we lose sight of all the good things we do have and this strips our fulfillment. This “less than” focus keeps us from letting go of what boundary maven Dr. Henry Cloud calls ‘necessary endings’ to allow for things to bloom in our lives. A healthy rose bush needs to be pruned for new buds to grow. If not,...

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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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The Year is Nearly Over - What Now? 12 Reso-YOU-tions

Would you take a trip without a map? Of course not. This year is nearly over and you might be looking at the New Year and setting resoutions with skepticism. We think we can create a resolution and get there just because we want to. It doesn't work that way. The reason most resolutions fail is because they are simply notions centered on “getting” something and not grounded in the root of what drives people - authenticity and values.

12 Reso-YOU-tions for Results in 2019

1. Write down your goals. Studies show that people who write down their intentions reach them far more than those who don’t.

2. Define what you will let go of. What’s the head trash that inserts itself in your life every time you want to make a leap? Sometimes we need to eliminate before we can add.

3. Define who you will let go of. People are toxic too. Who would you be without negative influence?

4. Sure up a financial safety net. Max out your 401(k) contributions....

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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 #1 Stress Reduction Practice

Dear {{first_name}},

Stress is nothing more than the stories we attach to reality. We all do it. It’s leading from a fear perspective as opposed to a creator perspective. "I am going to fail." "They don't like me or what I am doing." "This tooth ache means I am going to need a root canal."

How do we stop attaching stories that are assumptions onto reality? By building our awareness around what triggers that leap to fast-forward our lives to a doom and gloom ending. 

Notice it. Don’t judge yourself for it. Call it out and name it. “This is what it feels like to fear being judged.” And move on.

Wishing you a clearing of illumination today for without darkness there would be no light. Wishing you power. 

Success is freedom. Not more hours.

Your coach,

Mary Lee

P.S. Money replenishes itself. Time does not.  Click here to request a call with me and let's talk about your situation.

Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE is an...

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