Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How Do You Talk to Yourself?

Meg is a smart, motivated entrepreneur with a husband and two kids.  She came to me for coaching because no matter what she did she couldn’t seem to make her business successful or her family life smooth.  As she explained her situation, it became apparent to me that Meg was being abused.  She was the victim of verbal abuse, and she was surprised to see that she was the abuser!

Meg abused herself verbally every time she thought about her business or her life.  She would begin by thinking of all the wonderful things she could do to make everything successful.  Then she would immediately remind herself that she wasn’t intelligent, knowledgeable, charming, energetic, loveable, capable or competent enough to actually do what she wanted to do.

Once she started on that negative train of thought it became a “self-fulfilling prophecy”, where the more she predicted failure, the more she failed.  She created a downward spiral that was so steep and fast I was amazed she still had a business or family at all.

Meg had no idea she was talking to herself this way.  She thought she was a positive and upbeat woman.  However, when she started paying attention to her thoughts, she realized she was constantly beating herself up with words.

Meg understood that her words had nothing to do with the reality of how loveable, capable and competent she is.  Her negative self-talk was a thinking pattern that she’d learned from the adults in her life when she was very young.  They had always focused on what she couldn’t do rather than on what she could, and it had become a habit she carried into adulthood.

Ask Empowering Questions
Meg decided to change this habit of verbal abuse by focusing on what she can do, and asking herself empowering questions.  Instead of saying, “There is no way I can finish this project by Friday” (which is negative, limiting and self-defeating), she switched to asking herself, “What do I need to do to finish this by Friday?”  This simple change of phrasing made a big change in the message she gave herself, and in the outcome.  She was now speaking to herself in an empowering manner, with the assumption that she has what it takes to get the job done.

As Meg paid more attention to how she spoke to herself, she realized that she also spoke to her employees, customers and family in the same defeating way.  Instead of focusing on what they can do, she always focused on what they can’t possibly accomplish.  She never indicated that she really believed in people and their ability to be successful.  It was no wonder that her husband and children were grumpy and avoided her, her employee morale was low, and her customers were scarce.

Once she realized this she was able to look realistically at where these thought patterns originated, and realize that they did not, and never had, really applied to her.  They were concepts laid on her by the people in her childhood, who were very unhappy themselves.  They taught her what they knew, but she recognized that now she’s an adult the old message don’t fit, and she no longer needs to continue the negativity.

Now when Meg talks to herself, her employees, customers and family, she asks questions that open up possibilities and get people moving and motivated to succeed. She indicates that she believes in people, and empowers herself and them with strong guiding questions.

These questions usually begin with “what”, “how” or “who”, and are designed to move herself and others forward.  As a result of this simple shift in attitude the atmosphere at work and home is much lighter and more optimistic, she is much happier with herself and others, and her business is beginning to grow.

So, how do you talk to yourself and to those around you?  Do you continue to believe the old, negative messages and thoughts from long ago, and verbally abuse and undermine everyone by focusing on what can’t be done, or do you focus on the positive and possibilities and create a brighter future for everyone?

If this sounds like you, you might want to try asking empowering questions, and see what happens.

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.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

How Do You Apologize?

Have you ever felt that someone owed you an apology, but when they told you they were sorry, you didn’t feel any resolution at all?

I’m thinking about the importance of a sincere and thorough apology because of something that happened to me this morning. I contacted our house cleaner about the fact that her crew had overlooked several things and had also caused some damage to our house. Instead of taking responsibility for the situation, she responded with a reason/excuse about why things happened as they did.  I know her intention was for me to understand why she couldn’t do her usual good job, but all it did was annoy me and make me feel unheard.

What I wanted her to do was:
Say “I’m sorry”. (NOT, “I’m sorry, but…….”)

Restate my concerns and feelings, and acknowledge that her crew had let me down.  This would verify for me that we were clear on what had happened, and that she agreed I had a right to be annoyed.

Take full responsibility and recognize her role in the situation, without excuses, defense or explanation.

Let me know what steps she will take in the future to insure that it doesn’t happen again.

Ask what she can do to make it right.

Then insure that you do that and more, to regain trust.

We all have times in our professional and personal lives when things don’t go as planned, and another person, client/customer, friend or family member may feel wronged, let down, or like they received less than perfect service from you or your staff.

When this happens it’s important to know how to apologize.  A sincere, heartfelt apology can make the difference between maintaining or losing a good relationship.

A good apology requires multiple steps:

Say, “I’m sorry” and be explicit about the situation
Acknowledge the hurt or damage caused (including feelings of the injured party)
Take responsibility for the situation, “It was my/our fault”
Recognize your role in the event
Insure that it won’t happen again
Ask “How can I make it right?”

Often an apology will contain just a couple of these steps, which leaves the wronged person feeling even more violated.  Be sure to include all the steps.

If my house cleaner had done these things, I would feel heard and reassured that I won’t have to deal with this situation again.  But, because she failed to apologize thoroughly, I’m feeling unclear about what my future with this company holds, and am thinking of finding another cleaner.

So, in your business and personal life, remember that the apology is always about the wounded party and his/her feelings and experience.  Never about you.

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, October 30, 2017

Who Are You?

Today I’m reflecting on how many of us have been taught to define ourselves by our job description or what we do.  I know so many people who think of themselves as a CPA, a doctor, a wife/husband, a parent, a marketing executive, etc.  They define WHO they are by the roles they play and WHAT they do.  This is fine until circumstances change and they no longer “do what they do”.  If they have defined themselves by their job description, they not only lose a job, but they lose their identity.

I know several people who are planning on retiring this coming year, and a couple that have been forced by circumstances to change careers or just stop working altogether.  Most of these folks are not only looking at a major job shift, but they are also dealing with an identity crisis.

For example, my client Anthony has been a CPA for over 35 years.  He is planning on retiring in 2008, but he identifies so strongly with his job that he is now asking “who am I if I’m not an accountant?”  He’s thinking of postponing his retirement (much to the dismay of his wife, who is ready to go travel and play) because he can’t imagine who he will be without a job title to help identify himself.

It seems to me that Anthony is still the same person he has always been. He is a smart, organized, detail-oriented, loving, funny, adventuresome, logical guy. He is loyal, a great husband, father and friend, gentle, kind, responsible, reliable, athletic, and many other wonderful things.  He happens to use some of these talents in his job, but his job is not WHO he is.  He can, and does, just as easily use those talents in many other areas of his life.

Anthony took some time to actually look at and write down WHO he is  He also asked his family and friends what they see in him, .and  was amazed at all he discovered when he let go of labels and job descriptions, and instead focused on qualities.

So, I’m wondering if you’ve taken time to really look at WHO you are.  What are your talents, skills, qualities, quirks and even your failings?  All together they make up the amazing person you are.  You are the only one like you --- you are original and unique --- so isn’t it time for you to get acquainted with incredible you?

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, October 24, 2017

Do You Argue for Your Limitations?

“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.”

I was reminded of this quote from Richard Bach’s wonderful book, Illusions, as I was talking with Lisa, a woman I’d just met at a party.

Lisa explained that she owns a small hair salon, and said that she dreams of bringing in more stylists and growing her business.  However, when she talked about her dreams, she finished by telling me all the reasons they will never come true.

Lisa went into great detail about how she isn’t smart enough, the economy is awful, she has no money for expansion, she doesn’t know how to market, and she wouldn’t have a clue how to manage people or deal with staff.  Yet, she continues to fantasize that she will somehow own a large, successful, full-service salon.

Can or Can’t?
When I suggested that she might want to look at the things she can do to change this situation, instead of focusing on what she can’t do, she argued and pointed out all the reasons why it will never work.

If she continues in this vain, she will get to be right.  Her business will never grow, her dreams will not come true, and it will never work.

What Lisa doesn’t understand is that in order for her to move ahead, she needs to focus on her goals, acknowledge that they are reachable, and find ways to meet them.  If she doesn’t have the skills necessary to manage staff or market her business, she can learn.  If she thinks she isn’t smart enough, she can find someone to mentor or guide her.  There are always solutions, if she’s open to finding them.  The most important first step is for Lisa to stop spending all her time arguing for her limitations and start seeing possibilities.

Possibilities or Limitations?
Whenever Lisa is ready to start moving towards her dreams by looking at possibilities instead of limitations, there are several questions she can ask herself.  Some are:
·        Where do I feel stuck or fearful?
·        What do I need to know to move ahead?
·        What attitudes or thoughts are holding me back?
·        How true are these?
·        How can I learn this skill or deal with this fear?  (books, classes, seminars, mentors, etc.)
·        What is one thing I can do today to shift this perception?

Once she has answered these questions, she will know what is holding her back and what she needs to do to move past whatever is limiting her.  She will be able to see that options and solutions to any challenge are always there when she is open to seeing them.

Just like Lisa, many of us unconsciously argue for our limitations, and then wonder why we haven’t moved closer to our dreams.  It may be helpful for you to look at areas where you feel blocked, and see what you are telling yourself about your ability to move forward.

Are you arguing for your limitations, or seeing possibilities?

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, 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.