Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Is Fear of Conflict Running Your Life?

Jim is the owner of a small successful printing shop.  He has five employees who usually get along well with each other.  However, two of his staff members began bickering, which interfered with the productivity and positive feel of his business.  Jim knew he let the situation go on too long, allowing it to become toxic and spread to the rest of his employees.

The situation continued because Jim was conflict avoidant, which means he was uncomfortable dealing with any kind of confrontation, so he stayed away from it.

Jim told me he was raised in a family where conflict was seen as bad, and meant that people didn’t love, like or care about each other.  Because of this attitude, things were never dealt with.  He was taught to keep the peace at all costs and “not rock the boat”.  Some of the ways he learned to deal with potential conflict were:  to ignore the situation in the hope it would go away; change the subject; put off the discussion; or just not bring it up.  He learned to take no risks, say nothing, and stay uninvolved.

There are many reasons why people are conflict avoidant, and it’s not always a bad thing. At times it can be an effective short-term strategy.  Conflict avoidance can be used to buy time, gather more information on an issue or let emotions simmer down.  It can also be used if the issue is unimportant to you, it’s not your business, or you don’t have any authority or responsibility in the matter. 

However, if this strategy is used too long or too often, being conflict avoidant can allow a situation to escalate and become heated.  It can also make it so your needs don’t get met, others take advantage of you, and you become angry and resentful.

When Jim was a child, conflict avoidance worked most of the time, but now, as the boss, it’s no longer an effective.  The situation in his shop was escalating, he needed to do something about it, and he was at a loss about how to start.

One of the first steps for Jim was to realize that conflict doesn’t have to become a huge drama, nor does it mean the end of a relationship.  He also needed to learn that dealing with issues as they come up can be positive, because once addressed, it stops them from becoming a bigger problem.

In order to deal with conflict, Jim learned to:
·        Emotionally detach and remain calm
·        Listen to all sides
·        Use empathy and listen to each party
·        Ask for clarification if he doesn’t understand, and to confirm he’s hearing what’s being said
·        Validate what he hears by paraphrasing what others say
·        Look at the facts and the goal
·        Communicate clearly and briefly
·        Focus on finding a win-win solution, and help them participate in joint problem solving
·        Help them identify creative and workable solutions
·        Focus on solutions instead of complaints
·        Support all parties in being assertive, which means they communicate their own needs while treating everyone else with dignity and respect

Jim decided to meet with his two staff members to help them work out their differences.  He used several of his new skills, and was delighted to see how his employees participated in the discussion, shared their feelings, and collaborated to solve the problem.  Jim realized that the act of hearing and acknowledging each of them was a big part in resolving the conflict.

Now when things begin to become tense at work, or even with his family and friends, Jim is able to address the situation in a calm, nonjudgmental way.  He has learned that conflict is a normal part of any relationship.  When he handles it right it doesn’t have to turn into a fight, and the sooner he acknowledges and deals with it, the more harmonious and efficient his world will be.

It’s something to think about.
Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience

For FREE worksheets on ways to empower yourself, see the Resources Page on our Inside Jobs Coach website.

If you'd like to bring positive changes into your life, we have the perfect thing for you.  Check out The Rapid Power Pack, and begin to create the life of your dreams.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Are You Stuck?

Last week I was talking with Sam, a new client who hired me to help him streamline his office procedures. The chore that requires much of his time is his bookkeeping, which he does by hand! He said that its time consuming, but works for him because he knows how to do it this way and feels comfortable with it.

Sam’s father initiated this accounting method when he opened the business 30 years ago, and since then they’ve ‘always done it this way’.  In the early days they were a small company with only 4 employees, and this was the best way available to keep track of finances.  When Sam took over 5 years ago, the firm employed 37 people, and they were still doing finances by hand!

Sam explained that he’d thought about switching to a computer accounting program because he knows it will save time, give him access to all kinds of reports and tax information, and streamline his entire bookkeeping operation.  However, he was having trouble letting go of how it had always been done.

Is This You?
Does any of this sound familiar to you?  Are there areas in your business or personal life where you are still doing things as they’ve always been done, even though it’s no longer efficient?  Places where it’s probably time to make changes and grow, but for some reason you are reluctant to actually do it?  If so, you are definitely not alone.  There are many reasons why people are hesitant to let go of doing things the way they have always done them.

Comfort Zone
One of the main reasons is that doing something the way you’ve always done it keeps you in your comfort zone.  Your comfort zone is a very nice place in which you are a capable, competent person who understands what is going on and feels in control of it all.  It’s a pleasant, cozy, safe place to be.  Why would you want to let go of that?

However, the down side of your comfort zone is that it keeps you stuck and stops your growth.  It reinforces using procedures that may be outdated or inefficient, and makes your business vulnerable to your competition.  It is also a boring place to be, and robs you of the opportunity to grow, learn new things and become the best you can be.

Fear of Change
Another reason you might be staying in your comfort zone is the fear of change. Change often represents uncertainty, and the unknown is a scary place. You don’t know for sure how things will turn out.  It’s a place where, for a time, you feel inadequate and confused instead of competent and capable.  There is also the fear that you may not be smart, good or clever enough to master the new thing.

Many people spend their lives doing everything they can to avoid fear.  However, the reality is that every change, anything new, will involve some fear.  The way to deal with fear is to confront and move through it.  Feel the fear and do it anyway!

From Master to Novice
Another part of change is that you go from being a master at something to being a novice.  When something is new you begin the learning curve all over again.  In this situation the fear of not being able to master the new thing is often very present and can be a huge deterrent to making a change.

When you look at your life you can see that you’ve already mastered this process many times. As a child you probably moved through the school system, which is set up so children reach a level of mastery and then become novices again. You started elementary school in kindergarten, new to the idea of school.  You learned and adapted to the process and place, to the point where you were comfortable and proficient in functioning within the system. Then you moved to junior high school, with a whole new set of rules and systems, and were suddenly a novice again. You learned and grew into junior high, and then repeated the process again when moving to high school, college, into a job, etc.  With each step you expanded your comfort zone. A process that was initially uncomfortable but eventually empowering.  Stretching your comfort zone is one way you learn you are a capable competent person.

In Sam’s case, in order to update his accounting he will have to go from being totally proficient with the system, to being new and temporarily confused.  From being the person who knows how to handle it all to being the person who has to rely on others while he’s in the learning process.  Growth always involves a period of being new, and new is always uncomfortable.

Why Have I Always Done It That Way?
Have you asked yourself why it’s always been done that way?  Often systems are implemented or routines are created because they are the best available at the time.  However, as time passes and new ways of doing things are created, what was once state-of-the-art may become outdated and inefficient.

For example, when I was a child I would stand holding the refrigerator door open while deciding on a snack.  My mother would always tell me to close the door because all the cold air was escaping.  Since she did that with me, I did the same with my children (we’d always done it that way).  Until one day my son asked “why”?  He pointed out that the refrigerator was electric and constantly made more cold air, so it escaping wasn’t really a problem. Of course, he was right! I’d never thought about why I was delivering this message, so I asked my mother where it came from.  She said that her mother always said it to her, so she believed it and passed it along.  However, when my mother was a small child, refrigerators were actual iceboxes, which were cooled by large blocks of ice. When the door was opened the ice melted faster and they really did run out of cold air.

When my grandmother told her children to close the door, it was the right message for the situation.  As the message was passed on from generation to generation, the situation changed and the fridge no longer ran out of cold air.  (I do understand it takes electricity to generate more). However, nobody looked at the reason for the message.  We just kept doing it as we’d always done it.

In Sam’s case the accounting system his father implemented was right for the time, but changes in technology have refined the most effective way to track finances.  It’s important to understand why the system was created, what need it was designed to fill.  Look at it and see if it is still the most efficient way to fill this need, or if a more effective way is now available.  This applies to how you run your personal as well as your business life.

How Do I Know I Am Stuck?
Sometimes you may not consciously realize that you are stuck and that it’s time to make a change. When something becomes a struggle, takes too much time, causes unhappiness and stress, or feels like a huge chore, it may be an indication that you are doing it the way it’s always been done rather than the more efficient and effective way.  You can often identify what may have outlived its usefulness by noting the things that are difficult, and asking yourself why you continue to do them the way you do.

What to Do
Once you have identified things that may need a change, ask yourself:
·         Where did this procedure or relationship originate?
·         What was its original purpose?
·         Does this still apply?
·         Is there an easier way to accomplish the same goal?
·         What are the consequences of continuing to do things the way we’ve always done them?
·         What will be the results of implementing something new?
·         What is stopping me from implementing this new process?
·         What will I do about this?

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to move. Change the procedure, re-evaluate the relationship, learn new things, delegate to whoever can help, or completely let go of the situation or procedure if it no longer applies.

After going through this process Sam decided to take a leap of faith and implement a computer accounting program for his business.  He stretched his personal and business comfort zone by hiring a professional to help him become proficient in the new software.  He endured a brief period of feeling totally lost, and soon became as skilled with the new system as he was with the old.  The new system has accomplished his goal of streamlining his accounting and providing him with more time to focus on other aspects of his business. Sam has also renewed his sense of being even more empowered, capable and competent.

We’ve been talking about a business situation, but this fear of letting go often applies to your personal life as well.  Are you afraid to make changes, just because you’ve always done it a certain way.  You may want to ask yourself, where in my life do I feel stuck or like I’m doing something just because it’s always been done that way?  What things might need to change, but I’m hesitant because I’m fearful of the consequences or where it will take me?  What would I like to do about it?

It’s something to think about.

Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience

For FREE worksheets on ways to empower yourself, see the Resources Page on our Inside Jobs Coach website.

If you'd like to bring positive changes into your life, we have the perfect thing for you.  Check out The Rapid Power Pack, and begin to create the life of your dreams.

Friday, September 8, 2017

What Do You Want? -- Point of Power

Josh didn’t understand why he was frustrated and dissatisfied with his life.  He’s 38 years old, works hard and is successful in his profession.  Everyone tells him he’s doing well and is a lucky man.  However, he wasn’t thrilled with his job, and wanted to be married and have a family but hadn’t yet met “the right woman”.

He explained that he’s always believed that he’ll know the right thing to do when it comes along, so he’s never actually set goals or made plans.  He went to college but never did any introspection to help him decide what to major in.  He chose the college he went to because his friends were going there, and majored in things that seemed interesting, but he had no career goals for when he graduated.

After college, jobs seemed to come his way.  He believed these were “meant to be”, so he took them.  He worked hard and did well, but never felt fulfilled because he wasn’t doing something that made him happy.  It was the same with women --- whenever he met someone who ‘seemed nice’, he’d date her for several months, but it never worked out.  He still hopes the right woman will come along.

Josh’s problem is that he’s never taken the time to look specifically at himself, at what makes him happy, or what he needs or wants.    All his life he’s followed whatever came his way, with no plan or thought about if it really met his needs or where it would take him.  He’s been reactive by responding to what comes, rather than being proactive by making decisions, setting goals and choosing how to move toward them.

When he called me Josh had decided that he was ready to take stock of who he is, what makes him happy, and where he wants to be next year and five years from now.  However, he was unclear about how to do this.

After we talked, he began to ask himself several questions:
·        Am I living a life that fulfills me?  What does being fulfilled mean, feel and look like?
·        What is fun for me?  What did I love to do when I was a child?
·        What makes me lose track of time?
·        What makes my heart sing and fills my soul with joy?
·        What is missing and how can I put more of it into my life?
·        What kind of relationship do I want?  What will that look and feel like?
·        What do I want professionally?  What are my talents and skills? Do I want to use them in my work?  What do I want to avoid doing?
·        What expectations are keeping me from being me?
·        What fears are stopping me?
·        What can I do to change this situation?
·        How do I feel about money?  Is this moving me forward or holding me back financially?
·        What things do I need to allow myself to let go of so I can reach my goals?
·        Who do I need to be in order to live the life I want?
·        What is the next step to getting there?

Josh had never looked at himself from this perspective, and was surprised and pleased at what he found.  From the answers to these questions he began to make decisions, and created both personal and professional goals, which gave him a destination for which to chart his course.  He then created an action plan with steps to move him towards his goals.

This was a new, exciting and uncomfortable experience for Josh. It took a lot of work for him to sort out who he is and what his needs, desires and dreams are.  He needed to look at who he is, what his values, talents and skills are, and make some decisions, rather than just going with the flow.

Letting go of the “shoulds”, fears and expectations of others that he had built his life on, and creating his own road map was a difficult process.

However, he became excited once he realized that he is now becoming clear about what he wants and how to get it.  He is now happily implementing his plan, taking it one step at a time with a goal in mind, and is moving towards the life he’s always wanted.

Is it possible that you might be like Josh?  Just moving through life, taking whatever comes, without a plan or concept of where you’re going.  If so, you might want to ask yourself how well this is working for you and what you’d like to do about it.

It’s something to think about.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Are You Trustworthy?

This week I know several people who are dealing with trust situations.  One of them is having problems with a friend who is talking negatively about her to others, another is feeling betrayed by a client who is acting in an untrustworthy manner, and a third is struggling because he has a relative who says he will do things, and then always lets him down.

Since trust seems to be the topic of the week, it seems like a good time to talk about it.

As we all know, trust is one of the most important ingredients in every relationship.  Being able to trust someone implies they are accountable, predictable, honest, reliable, and honor their word.  For any kind of relationship to happen all people involved must be able to trust one another.

Whether it’s with your family, friends, clients, customers, employees, or vendors, if there is no mutual trust, there is no solid foundation for your relationship.

This is something we all know, but sometimes forget.

Occasionally it’s helpful to re-evaluate things we take for granted in order to see where we currently stand.  We may have terrific intentions, but not be living up to our expectations.

The question is, are YOU trustworthy?

Here is what to look at.

Are you accountable?
Accountability means that you accept responsibility for your actions, and will always be accountable for your behavior. You can be relied on to follow through and make things right.  Your word is your bond, and if something goes wrong, you do not pass the buck or blame others. You own it!

Are you predictable?
Predictability implies a consistency in your behavior.  Some people think that being predictable is boring, but in matters of relationships, people have to be able to predict that your behavior will be consistent.  When customers come to your shop they want to know that they will always be greeted with a friendly smile and courteous service.  When you go to a restaurant, you have to know that the food will consistently be good, every time. When you have surgery, you need to know your doctor will always do an excellent job. There is no room for variation or “a bad day”.

If your friends, family and clients can consistently predict that their experience with you will be positive, they will stay loyal.  However, if the quality of your interactions, service or product is sporadic and inconsistent, people won’t know what to expect. They will feel uncomfortable and leave.

Are you reliable?
Reliability means that you are dependable. You do what you say you will do, every time, with no excuses.  People can count on you, and know if you say it, it will happen.  For trust to exist, everyone you deal with must know they can count on you to follow through.

Are you honest?
Honesty means you tell the truth, and if you say something people can count on it being true.  If you lie, people will know, you will have no credibility.  If they can believe what you say, they will never trust you. 

We all know that trust is slow and difficult to build and very easy to break.  Once it’s broken it takes a long time to rebuild, and sometimes can never be fully repaired.  If you are having trouble with a relationship, I would bet that someone involved is not exhibiting one of these qualities, and somehow the mutual trust has been broken.

You might want to ask yourself how predictable, accountable, reliable and honest are you.  Can all the people in your life consistently count on you to honor what you say, know it is true, and expect follow through of appropriate action in a timely manner?

You also might want to look at how trustworthy the people you deal with are.  Can you count on them to fulfill their part of whatever your interaction with them is?

The question to ask yourself is, “am I trustworthy?  Do I deserve, and continue to earn, the trust of others?”  Also, do I surround myself with like-minded people?”

It’s something to keep in mind and examine frequently.

Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience

For FREE worksheets on ways to empower yourself, see the Resources Page on our Inside Jobs Coach website.

If you'd like to bring positive changes into your life, we have the perfect thing for you.  Check out The Rapid Power Pack, and begin to create the life of your dreams.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Do You Feel Invisible?

Do you sometimes feel invisible?  Does it seem like people only notice you when they want something from you, and they ignore you or disappear when you have a need or want of your own?

This is a really painful, lonely, difficult place to be, and it’s amazing how many people feel this way.

If you were raised in a family where people didn’t value your needs, yet expected you to meet theirs, this might be one of the reasons you feel this way.  As a child you may have been taught that the only way to get noticed and receive positive attention was to suppress your needs and focus on those of others.

Now that you’re an adult, you might still be looking for love and approval by giving to, and taking care of, others, as you were taught to do when you were small.

If you were raised to be a caretaker of others, you most likely weren’t raised to also take care of yourself.  The unspoken bargain, what you hoped would happen, was that if you were there for people, they’d be there for you.

Unfortunately, it seldom works that way!

Now, taking care of others is a good thing.  It’s wonderful to be giving, supportive and compassionate to people.  The missing ingredient is that you might be forgetting to also give these wonderful things to yourself.

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to look at why people don’t give you the same consideration and support that you give them.  Could it be because you unconsciously treat yourself disrespectfully, and model this behavior for others?  Without realizing it you’re teaching people how to treat you.

The good news is that you are now an adult, which means you have the power to make things different.  Even if you were taught to disregard your wants and needs as you focused on others, you can now change that early patterning, and begin treating yourself with the respect you deserve.

Imagine what it would be like if you stopped ignoring yourself and started occasionally putting your needs first.  Setting boundaries around behaviors you will and will not accept from others?

Some things you can do to turn things around are:
·        Look inside yourself and begin acknowledging your feelings, wants and needs.  Tell yourself that what you feel is as important as what others feel, and act accordingly.

·        Start speaking up for yourself.  Once you’re aware of your feelings, wants and needs, Speak Up and make sure others are aware of them too.  If they continue to ignore you or get angry when you do this, you might be in a toxic relationship that you will need to re-evaluate.

·        Start taking care of yourself as well others, and modeling for them how to give to you as well as take from you.

·        Stop accepting one-way relationships, where the other person talks about him/herself for hours, but doesn’t listen when you begin to speak.

·        Give people the opportunity to be there for you.  Take a risk, share your thoughts, and encourage others to respond.

When you change your behavior, some people will be happy to see that you’re stepping up and being assertive.  However, others will probably be angry and confused. If you patiently demonstrate your boundaries and hold them firm, you will model for others how you expect to be treated.  Eventually people will modify the way they treat you, and their respect for you will grow as you demonstrate your self-respect.

There might be some people who just want to be in a relationship with you for the way you take care of them, and as you grow stronger they will probably fade away and find someone else to abuse.

Always remember, you are a lovable, valuable, capable, competent person, and it’s time you and everyone else acknowledge this.

The bottom line is that key to being visible is to respect yourself, take control of your life, and make sure others are aware that you are as important as they are.

Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience

For FREE worksheets on ways to empower yourself, see the Resources Page on our Inside Jobs Coach website.

If you'd like to bring positive changes into your life, we have the perfect thing for you.  Check out The Rapid Power Pack, and begin to create the life of your dreams.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Are You Happy?

Ben is one of my favorite clients.  We’ve worked together for six months, and during that time he’s achieved many business and personal goals.  He has the vision to know what he wants and the determination and motivation to do what it takes to get there.  As a result his life is much different than when we began working together.

However, Ben is not happy.
During our last conversation Ben shared how bewildered he is that after achieving so many of his goals he’s not as happy as he had expected to be.  This led us to a discussion of happiness, and just what it is.

Ben assumed that happiness is something you achieve. He believed that if he accomplished his goals, grew his business and acquired more money and possessions, happiness would automatically follow.

However, happiness isn’t something you GET, it’s something you MAKE.
How often have you achieved a long-term goal, expecting it to make you happy, just to find that after a short period of feeling successful or proud, you then felt empty and lost?  This is because once you achieve a goal you set another goal, and continue to want more. Many people lead an “if only” life.  They say “I’d be happy if only I had__________________.”  However, when they get that thing or achieve that goal, they’re surprised and disappointed to discover they feel the same as they always did.

It’s also about self-esteem, and the ability to love and value yourself, even if you’re not perfect.  If you appreciate the incredible human being you are, and accept yourself even with all your imperfections, you will find inner happiness that’s based on who you are internally rather than external stuff.

Happiness is about attitude and choices, NOT STUFF!
We each have the option of focusing on the positive in our life, or on the negative.  We can look at all our blessings, or choose to only see what’s lacking. Along with that comes the choice to be happy and feel blessed, or feel miserable and incomplete.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to do away with your dreams and goals or stop striving to improve your professional or personal situation.  It simply means you can’t be disappointed if you don’t expect the achievement of your goals to alter how you feel about your life.

Choosing to be happy is something you can do, regardless of what you have.
Once Ben understood that growing his business and having more money to buy more toys wasn’t his path to happiness, he set about finding what would enrich his life. To recognize his path to happiness he:

Wrote in a Gratitude Journal.  Ben wrote every night about the things that had delighted him that day. He was pleased to discover that his life held many things that brought him joy.  He was also surprised to note that they were the things money couldn’t buy, such as reading to his son at bedtime, enjoying the beauty of nature, or cuddling with his wife on the couch.

Looked at his values and needs to determine what was most important to him.  Ben then found ways to incorporate those things into his daily life. He realized that his values reflect his personal needs.  He understood that when he was being true to his values he was happy.  When he acted in a way that went against his values, he was miserable. (for FREE worksheets to help you identify your values and needs, go to our website at www.insidejobscoach.com and click on Resources).

Reviewed his goals to find the personal motivation behind them. For example, Ben wanted to make more money so he could buy a boat and house at the lake.  However, when he really looked at this goal he realized that the boat and lake house represented fun things for his family to do together.  What will make him happy about achieving these goals is not having the things, but what they will bring, which is quality time with his loved ones.

Gave to others.  Ben realized that he was always happy when he was giving his time and money to his community.  He noticed that when he was doing something for others he felt lighthearted and carefree, so he found ways to do this more often.

As Ben looked at each of his wants he realized that they all stemmed from just a couple of his deep personal needs.  The needs he wanted to fill were those of connection to family and friends.  Realizing this gave him the option to choose to be happy with what he had, and find ways to meet his needs without accumulating more stuff.

So, What About You?
Are you choosing to be happy, or to focus on all you don’t have?  What is happiness to you?  What really makes your heart sing?  What deep needs are you trying to meet?  Once you know the answers to these questions it will be easy for you to choose to be happy, every day.

It’s something to think about.

Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience

For FREE worksheets on ways to empower yourself, see the Resources Page on our Inside Jobs Coach website.

If you'd like to bring positive changes into your life, we have the perfect thing for you.  Check out The Rapid Power Pack, and begin to create the life of your dreams.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Don't Push the River!

“Don’t push the river!”  This phrase jumped out at me from my morning newspaper, and I had to smile.  Of course, it’s exactly right, and is just what I need to think about this week. 

So often in my life I see things moving in the direction I want them to go, but they always seem to be going too slowly. Once I know the destination, I want to speed ahead at 100 miles an hour so I can get there quickly.  Forgetting that a very important part of the process is the journey, and all the things that will happen along the way that will prepare me to arrive at the destination.

I know that on a larger scale everything is under control and that things always unfold in their own way and their own time.  If I rush them or try to bypass any of the steps, the outcome won’t be the same.  It’s impossible to ‘push a river’ to make it go faster.  It flows at it’s own speed, sometimes slowly and sometimes roaring along, and reaches it’s destination when it’s ready. Trying to push it is totally ineffective and an exercise in frustration.

However, knowing this and being patient enough to live it are two different things. The quote in my newspaper was the reminder I needed to take a deep breath, step back, trust the process and once again allow things to unfold.

It’s something to think about.

Please comment so others may benefit from your wisdom and experience.

For FREE worksheets on ways to empower yourself, see the Resources Page on our Inside Jobs Coach website.

If you'd like to bring positive change into your life, we have the perfect thing for you.  Check out The Rapid Power Pack, and begin to create the life of your dreams.