Three Top Misconceptions That Halt Our Careers

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...

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The #1 Step to Get Unstuck

Having gone from being a single parent of four children on welfare, food stamps and medical assistance, homeless and without an automobile to a CEO of a $24 million organization and married to a wonderful man I know a thing or two about evolving versus repeating old patterns. Both are hard.

The difference is that the with latter, the end of the story is familiar yet you deny the truth and feel like a victim when you get to the last page and already knew the ending. With the former you have no idea where you might go, it scares you to death because you don’t want to believe happiness is attainable yet sustainable for fear of being let down. Then you risk openness and release all the assumptions disguised as excuses you used to grasp onto. Here you realize you deserve all that is good and your tory keeps unfolding.

When we repeat old patterns we are stuck. Most achievers tackle being stuck by getting back on the treadmill to nowhere and working harder only to find that not...

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Their Ego Versus Your Ego in the Executive Office

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...

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How to Develop a Leadership Impact Plan to Build Employee Engagement

Gallup reports that only 33% of the 100 million people in the American workforce are engaged at work, loving their jobs and their organization. Conversely 16% of the workforce is actively disengaged, miserable and poisoning their cultures. The remaining 51% are not engaged – they just show up. This means that 67% of your workforce is disengaged. 

Traditional leadership styles, benefits packages and training initiatives clearly are not working. The old command-and-control style of leadership is not only ineffective but not respected by millennials who represent the largest sector in the workforce today. Productive and engaged work cultures are switching from power struggles to coaching conversations. They realize purpose and flexibility trump paychecks and perks. They take less stock in annual employee engagement surveys and have monthly check-in coaching conversations for development. And they make sure their employees know the company is interested in their development,...

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This Week My Clients Are Struggling With This

As I look back on the challenges my clients are dealing with this week I see two common themes - difficult people and lack of clarity. 

First, people are difficult for one reason - they are insecure and unhappy. That shouldn't become your problem, but often difficult people exude what looks like confidence. This gets them promoted to high level positions. That perceived confidence is a smoke screen to hide what is behind the sand they kick up. Underneath they feel unqualified, ineffective and ultimately that they may lose respect, their job and be alone. Knowing this your goals are:

  1. Consistently, make sure they know you have their back even though they will never have yours.
  2. Be in alignment with what they value. "Since I know this is important to you......."
  3. Stay off their radar screen. Don't play into their chaos. Don't meet with them unless necessary. Give them choices as it underscores their power. Don't posture to be favored. Let others live in the chaos.
  4. If...
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When they say, "Just get over it."

Yes, we want to help our loved ones and friends who are suffering. But, how do we help someone ‘get through it?' How do we help them move on and resume their lives as they were before crisis or tragedy. How do we help them usher in something new that they may never have experienced before - something that might be interesting and/or rewarding.

For a long time we thought we were showing strength to suck it up and just move on. The military bred this concept into the armed forces until they realized it wasn’t helpful and actually was quite damaging. When we deny our feelings and try to push past them they get further buried only to resurface with triggers - triggers that keep coming more frequently. Triggers, such as a painful memory, sound or situation, place us right back in thick of the emotion that we never reconciled.

People who are hurting don’t need you to fix them. They just want to know you care and are there. Just be with them. Often their discomfort makes...

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The Cost of Being Guarded at Work

When I turn away from the truth in my heart I armor up against what is real and then only a facade of myself is evident to others, stripping my executive presence. The really hard part is that it takes twice as much energy to keep up the facade so I’m feeling not only guarded but exhausted. The sad part is that I become so good at the facade that I lose site and concept of who I really am. Others start describing me as someone I don’t know. And I start to wonder what happened to me.  

This big knot of inauthenticity is unwound by leaning into to the very feelings we assume make us weak. The truth is that naming the very feelings we avoid - sad, confused, judged, abandoned, angry, tired, ineffective - disarms their power and opens a window so that clarity may breeze in. It starts with staying present in the moment and not fast forwarding our thoughts to worry about what ‘might’ happen. 

Wishing you vulnerability and openness today.

If you are...

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What to do With Melancholy

I’ve had a very melancholy week. I’m selling my childhood home for my mother, listing my uncle's home for sale (the home my mother grew up in) to help my mother as executor of his estate, and saying goodbye to a majestic era. This photo is of the beautiful patio of The Hotel Excelsior Grand Vittoria in Sorrento, Italy where we stayed several years ago and reminds me that each day has a sunrise and a sunset for a reason. It’s a metaphor for life. Just as the sun has to set in orderly rise again, some things have necessary endings so there can be new beginnings.  

When we grasp onto an ending because we don’t want it to go away it’s like reaching against nature, leaving us forever unsatisfied because what we want is impossible - the energy is against us.  

Honor the memory. For me that means taking the birdbath from my parent’s backyard to my backyard and thinking of my dad who loved to birdwatch every time one of them shakes...

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The First Question to Ask

Yesterday I asked an executive client who is seeking a new position, "What is the biggest thing you did in your current organization in the last year?" He wasn't sure. The question brought him anxiety. After a coaching session he was fully versed in a high-performance answer but until that question he had not defined his value for himself. He had been questioning his value when he is acutely strategic and effective. This lack of self-esteem had been holding him back from applying for jobs in his transferable skill areas and from pitching himself from a position of worth as opposed to passively.

Don't start your job search by researching online for openings. Start by answering this question. Your response should be quantifiable. That means it should reflect an increase or decrease in something, including an amount and percentage.

Too often people cannot equate their value to a metric. If you can't do this you cannot position your value proposition. Surely whatever you are working...

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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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