I Just Want to Be Alone

Recently we took my grandson who was visiting from out of town to the zoo. It gave me the opportunity to witness the simplicity of basic interaction. As humans the very nature of our existence is to interact. Our interconnectedness is crucial to our happiness and well-being. Sometimes I just want to be alone and not have to deal with the bureaucracy, power struggles and personal agendas of work and life. But it is not helpful to feel that way most of the time.  

My awareness tells me that in those moments I’m withdrawing because I’ve projected a previous experience on the situation along with my bias. Every moment is a new moment. I’m happier and more effective when I choose to be surprised by what happens. This leaves me completely vulnerable. It’s a little scary not knowing what might occur as opposed to armoring up against my projected outcome. It is uncharted territory to not control how I’ll respond. But it’s more fun to smile than...

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How to Build Self-Awareness for Executive Presence

We all think we are self-aware. Of course, you know yourself better than anyone else. Right? Not necessarily. 

You rewind and replay those thoughts in your head so many times a day you think nobody else could know them better than you. That may be true. But that does not make you aware of how they show in your behavior. And this blind spot is the biggest deterrent to executive presence, relationship building and confidence. 

Two Kinds of Self-Awareness 

Self-awareness has two factions. First, there is internal self-awareness – how well you understand yourself. Second, there is external self-awareness – your understanding of how others view you. 

You think you are a good manager. You write good concise descriptions, screen for attitude as well as experience, align the bench strength of your team, and clearly communicate strategy in tandem with the business plan. You mentor your employees because you care about them and provide personal development...

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This Happened Sunday

Two nights ago I didn’t recognize myself. I got home from a wonderful weekend at the beach to find that all the packages that had been delivered were left in the rain in my driveway instead of on the porch. Many of my Christmas card envelopes had gotten stuck together from the moisture and I had been shorted 25 of them.

As I sat there putting labels on envelopes and trying to pry apart envelopes without ruining them I heard myself say, “I hate doing this. I don’t even know why I send Christmas cards” followed by a few words I can’t even write down.  

Now, this is not me. I think all year about the photos on my Christmas cards. It’s my way of sharing a joyous hello. I love opening the cards from friends.  

Finally, my husband had to tell me, “OK, that’s enough now” to shake me awake from my funk. 

Perfection. Holidays inspire perfection. And that inspires expectations. And that inspires unmet expectations....

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16 Big Impact Ways to Give a Gift that Costs You Nothing

If you've been to the grocery store this time of year you know that it is either the holiday season or Armageddon. You're buying things you don't usually use. (When is the last time you bought fresh sage?) You're doing mini makeovers of your home decor. (That old rug never looked so bad.) And you're hoping the discussion at dinner doesn't turn to politics.

I invite you right now to shift your perspective from holiday expectations to what the holiday season is truly about. Love. Yes, Love. Not present giving. Just love. Even at work. It may not be appropriate for you to give a substantively large gift to someone at work. Your time is more valuable than anything you can buy. How will you demonstrate the tenets of love to everyone in your work and personal life? How will you extend compassion, patience, consideration, listening, understanding? 

16 Big Impact Ways to Give a Gift that Costs You Nothing 

  1. Offer to help a colleague with a project on which they have been...
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Hateful People at Work

I saw this license plate in front of me at a traffic light this morning while I was stopped in front of a church, talking on the phone with my daughter who is experiencing “mean girl” behavior at work. I decided it was a sign  and sent her the photo. (Also, it's not often that we see a car from North Dakota in Pittsburgh.)

Happy people don’t hurt one another. Never lose your executive presence and get emotional with hateful people. They hate themselves far more than they hate you. Their internal barometer is far more angry than you could ever feel toward them. Don’t become them. Don’t defend against them. You’ll only look small. Smile and say, “Help me understand what you mean by that” as you give yourself space to remember that you’ve got this.

If you want more executive presence tips here’s a link to my FREE report: 31 Success Practices for Leaders in the High Stakes Corporate World 

Your coach,

Mary...

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My Special Thanksgiving Message for You - Will she make it?

As you head into the Thanksgiving holiday please remember to take care of yourself. We often set expectations for holidays that set us up for disappointment. Or we’re sad about who won’t be there. Or we tire ourselves striving for perfection making a meal that gets eaten in 30 minutes. 

Thanksgiving is a time when we appreciate all that we already have and already are - a sweet kiss to a child that lives out of town, a laugh shared over a family memory, a favorite smell, the touch of a hand that says, “I’m here and I love you.” 

Remember to see people as individuals and not part of a scene you’ve prescribed in your head. Don’t let the holiday go by where you’ve not been fully present for at least one individual precious moment with each and every loved one, including your pet. And sometimes just pause, take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I am grateful to feel good!” 

All of our six children will be home...

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Four Career Guideposts for Women

When I made my journey from welfare to CEO four succinct guideposts became crucial to my transformation. Malcom Gladwell said that to master anything you must do it 10,000 hours. The only problem with that is that if you are doing something that doesn’t work – you’ve just become proficient at being stuck. 

Guidepost #1: Seek Your Childhood Innocence. 

If we go through our lives expecting one challenge after another, that’s what shows up – life becomes a problem to solve instead of being fun like when you were a child and could play outside all night long, catching fireflies and naming stars. We start to adopt messages from experience as truth when they are nothing but interpretations. Soon life is merely solving one challenging interpretation after another. I know this well because I mastered it with what seemed like 10,000 hours. 

I was a stay-at-home mother with four children under seven-years-old living what looked on the outside...

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Get Unstuck

You know that head trash that keeps you up at night - I’ll never find the right job - I’m getting old - He doesn’t like me - I am stressed from work - She doesn’t love me - I’m not smart enough? Self-inquiry questions start the journey to clear a path through mind clutter for clarity: 

Who am I?

What do I want?

What is my purpose?

How can I serve?

What am I grateful for?

This self-inquiry brings awareness of what is true to you - the open soul, free of assumptions and expectations. 

You are not your thoughts, experiences, sensations. You are the observer of them - free of them whether positive or negative. 

Don’t fake positive thinking. That is artificial. You’ve undoubtedly seen people trying too hard to be positive. “I can handle this. It will be fine,” when they really feel exhausted and defeated. Pretending only makes you more stressed. Admit and be curious about how you feel without attaching any future or...

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Four Key Ways to Have Better Executive Presence

In today’s hiring environment companies are screening not only for experience and attitude but for presence. Competency and grit are not enough. You must also have good internal and external self-awareness and self-regulation. In leadership positions that translates to executive presence. 

Executive presence is a sense of being that indicate to others that you know what it takes to lead and be effective. It sends a commanding signal that you know how to harmonize your temperament, confidence, skillset and awareness to get the job done. You know when someone has it. And you know when they don’t. The people who have it are the ones other people look to first. 

Can executive presence be developed? Yes - if you have a baseline of self-confidence and a willingness to find ease when dealing with the unpredictable situations at the executive level. 

Know What Executive Presence Is 

Qualities of Great Executive Presence: 

  1. Curiosity
  2. Tenacity
  3. Certainty
  4. ...
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Tips for Women to Bring Value at a Meeting

Women often do two things at meetings:  

  1. Try too hard to be heard and in the process lose their credibility.
  2. Say nothing and become an nonentity in the conversation.

Both decrease their value. High performing women and men with executive presence have keen self-awareness. They anticipate their emotions, become a third party observer of them and allow them to pass like clouds before the emotions show.   

Tips for women at a meeting:  

  1. Watch three YouTube videos of speakers you admire. List what you like about their delivery, presence, voice, intonation, cadence, use of hands.
  2. Place your phone on a shelf and record yourself speaking. Listen to what you sound like. Observe your presence. Become familiar with what it is to have “certainty” in your voice. Practice using a pause to make a point. Raise intonation on what is important.
  3. At a meeting know your role and where you bring value.
  4. Listen first. Process what others have to say.
  5. Introduce...
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