COVID-19 and Your Staff Meetings

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...

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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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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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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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Stop Grasping and Copying with this Question

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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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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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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When Drama Overwhelms You

You’ve seen it at work and at home. Someone is anxious about something and suddenly you are feeling anxious too. You know this isn’t healthy and that you shouldn’t feel this way which only makes it worse. Now you’re self-judging for not distancing yourself from the drama and begin to doubt your own effectiveness. You start losing sleep and wake up in the middle of the night, running the day’s conversations over in your mind.  

Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and sucked in by another person’s angst. Drama is created when a person can’t accept the way they feel so they try to externalize it or put that feeling off on others, usually in a highly demonstrative or desperate way. This behavior provides them a temporary yet unsustainable relief from their discomfort. Thus, they continue the drama dance to try to unload their despair. 

I notice I have been feeling anxious and assuming the anxiety of this person. I’ve...

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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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