I work in a hospital setting where everyone is on site and the COVID-19 crisis has people worried. This week at my staff meeting in addition to insuring good social distance I opened it with, “This is a difficult time. Let's just stop for a minute and share how we’re feeling about what’s going on with us right now.” That moment of reflection allowed everyone to step back, take a breath and exhale all of the emotional churn that had built up.
In this safe space I witnessed a human sigh of authenticity. There were tears. There was fear. There was frustration. And after all of the emotions were out, shared, and discussed there was compassion. People offered to help each other, solutions to personal concerns and shared meaning. We saw each other instead of just ourselves. Compassion was king.
What was even more amazing is that then we were able to get some innovative work done with total focus on a crisis management plan and how we’d work...
I spent a lot of years angry. Very angry. I was in a neglectful and abusive marriage as a stay-at-home mother of four children under seven-years-old. On the outside it looked like we were living the country club life while in reality my life was unpalatable. Every day I felt as if a noose around my neck was choking my ability to breathe. Finally, I filed for divorce as a leap of faith and was completely unprepared for the avalanche to come.
Within six months of filing for divorce my husband placed his businesses into bankruptcy on loans I had cosigned. He canceled his children’s and my health insurance but not his own. Our home which was nearly paid off and in the most affluent suburb of town went up for Sheriff’s Sale whereby 100% of the proceeds went to offset his business debt. The bank repossessed my minivan, not his car. And I had to chase him through the courts for a child support and alimony award at its highest of $269 a week – which he appealed. The...
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....
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...
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:
This was me - utterly exhausted as a homeless welfare single mom of four children under seven-years-old, putting on that everything was ok. I felt judged, tired, and inadequate at almost everything. I was edgy, unhappy and anxious that I wasn’t doing enough or being good enough.
Did I make time to take care of myself or remind myself that I am awesome as is with all my imperfections? No way. No time. I just kept surviving and wearing myself down while pretending I was superwoman. I wore busyness like a badge of honor.
As I look back now I see that this treadmill to nowhere left me not only stuck but exhausted. I already had everything I needed to go from food stamps to where I am today - CEO of a $24 million organization, a mom, employee, friend, leader and wife. I just needed to slow down enough to be gentle with myself. I needed to release my need to be perfect which had become a shield for shame. I began to accept that I deserved all that is good and quit...
You know that leader who annoys you more than anyone else – the one you can’t believe got to their level? He likely has a primitive and impulsive ego that needs to be repeatedly reminded of how wonderful he is to feel good about himself or he’ll erupt, pout, manipulate or control. Inside is a little child screaming for attention who feels very unsafe. When that child gets triggered to feel the feelings she desperately tries to avoid, her behavior turns hurtful and dangerous. She’s tired – exhausted from the lack of self-acceptance that haunts her. He’s shattered at the thought that someone might actually discover how unworthy he is. Unconscious defense mechanisms are deployed. And worse yet, without mindful self-awareness she might not even realize any of this. So, she keeps putting on the take-no-prisoners exterior, feeling less than enough, drained and victimized. Sad.
Don’t engage. They are in the fight-flight-or-flee mode of a...
You’ve read what the experts say. You’ve collected the necessary tools. You are committed. You are trying. Yet nothing changes. And you feel stagnant.
When I was a divorced single mother of four children under seven-year's old on welfare, food stamps and medical assistance, homeless and without an automobile I didn’t have time to go back to school to learn a new profession. I had four hungry mouths hanging open in front of me like baby birds.
Failure wasn’t an option. I decided to cease seeking what was “fair”, stop throwing money away on lawyers and accept that it was a far better use of my energy to focus on succeeding as the sole provider for my children than to expect family court to give anyone a conscience.
I had to put a plan together to hold my family together. I felt anxious, rejected and exhausted. I can’t tell you that I thought much about planning. There wasn’t time for ideal, only real. There wasn’t...
Willpower. You have it. You are dedicated. You start with the best intentions. And then you fizzle out. So, you start changing things just for the sake of change – thinking change is better than doing nothing. And you soon find out that the same old feelings loom and the same behaviors repeat – just in another setting. You feel overwhelmed.
What is the feeling you are running from? I hope you know because it is taking up a lot of space in your head that you would rather fill with joy. It is robbing you of peace and lacing your days and nights with anxiety. You might think it is fear of failure. But what will happen if you fail? What is the ultimate, deep down devastating result that could happen? You lose the love of those who matter? You will be alone? You’ll be powerless? Isn’t it time you stopped practicing failure in advance in your head?
You know you are on the treadmill to nowhere when you repeat the same thoughts and actions and...
What does success look like for you? It’s different from how it appears to anyone else, Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group founder Laura Gassner Otting tells Gretchen Rubin.
“You can’t be insatiably hungry for other people’s goals, for other people’s definitions of success.”
I watch people constantly grasping for shiny objects - thinking they need to copy what others are doing. This leaves them exhausted and always playing catch-up. When people stop copying and start observing themselves their awareness increases as does their executive presence. They risk more. Their confidence grows. Results start to occur and pretty soon they are shining in their own space, not the shadows of others. Wishing you the courage to slow down and listen to your heart today.
Go for the promotion, new job, side hustle, opportunity. Define your signature strengths, your value proposition and your personal mission. Replace doubt with your empowering belief that is...
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