You can make your relationships flourish!

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My chapter of the International Coach Federation, of which I’m currently President, just held their annual educational retreat called FLOURISH! The educational content was focused around how we can truly flourish as coaches. Of course, as coaches, our ability to be our best reflects right back to our clients. How can we best serve them and help them achieve true greatness and, well, flourish?

Of all of the sessions, the one that stuck with me the most was about how the trusting relationship built between coach and client creates this “sweet spot” in which roadblocks fade away and clients can see the road before them more clearly. (I’m a metaphoric coach…it seems to work its way into everything.) We know from experience though that building trust takes time but there are a few things that can be done to help it along:

Know and accept who you are. It’s difficult trusting others when you don’t know and trust yourself. If you’re constantly questioning your place in the relationship and trying to make space for yourself then there won’t be room for anyone else.

Accept the other person for who they are. If you’re always trying to reimage someone else, you’re basically saying to yourself that they’re somehow not good enough. You won’t trust them and they’ll also sense the nonacceptance which will prevent them from accepting themselves.

Be honest and truthful. This should be a “no brainer” but if someone learns you’re not being truthful, that trust is destroyed. Prevent that from ever happening by always being truthful. Even an uncomfortable truth will always turn out better for you than holding something back.

Know that everyone has incredible value and purpose. You are worthy of the trust of others and that holds for them too.

Keeping these in mind in any interaction, whether with a family member, colleague, coach or client, will help you develop that trusting relationship and allow you and that connection to flourish.

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Just Do It!

OK, he’s maybe a little……intense? But he’s right. What are you waiting for?! I love this video. It sums up the entire idea of coaching in about a minute.

Set Boundaries with your Employer

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I just read a post on a very respected time management blog about checking into your work email on Sunday to be more productive. Um, NO!

You work hard at showing your value to your employer and you want to be there for others but you also need some boundaries. If you start responding to your work emails on Sunday, over time the boss will start to wonder why you don’t bother on Saturday. Then Friday night. Suddenly, you’re on 24/7 call when you never signed up for that gig.

The need for work-life balance is a real thing. Your employer pays you a check but they’re not the one your kids need to tuck them in at night or your significant other looks to for attention. You also need time to evolve to be the genuine and unique person you’re meant to be. You need time to write, paint, read, create, dream; whatever else you’re meant to do that isn’t part of your day job.

Make sure you and your boss are on the same page as to what’s expected of you outside of normal work hours. If it isn’t spelled out explicitly in your job description, have a frank discussion with them. If you have personal commitments outside of work (and yes, you’re allowed to have a life outside of work) make sure your employer is well aware of your schedule.

If your explanation carries no weight, you always have a choice.

I know of a very successful executive that had been with their organization for years. Towards the end of their career, with a number of years behind them to have shown their worth and commitment to the organization, they needed to adjust their schedule to care for an ailing spouse. They had a new, up-and-coming boss that started questioning their commitment. The new boss couldn’t understand how the employee’s spouse was more important than the organization. Really?! At this point you have to question the direction in which the organization is going when the fundamental concept of family no longer has meaning. This individual made the right choice. They left to live their life.

I’m seeing an alarming trend with my coaching clients where “work” and “life” are one in the same. It seems trite but ask yourself this question; are you living to work or working to live? Working through prioritization exercises and communication tactics, I help people live their purposeful and authentic life. It’s something to which everyone is entitled and it all starts with setting those boundaries at work.

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Use Your Gifts

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It’s not uncommon to receive a gift so special that you’re actually afraid to use it. Maybe it’s a fancy spa set with really nice bath salts or a box of expensive cigars. You think “I’ll save it for a special occasion” or “I don’t want to go through it all, I want to make it last” so the gift sits there in the jar or box waiting for a time that you feel is appropriately noteworthy to enjoy it.

My question is, what are you waiting for? What happens if you run out of time and never get the chance to enjoy the gift? Would the idea of saving it for a “special” occasion seem like a good idea at that point?

I’m enjoying such a gift as I write this and I’m thinking that it might be easier if we make every moment special so we can enjoy our gifts all the time. Or is it the other way around? Every moment becomes special as we enjoy our gifts?

So, I started talking about holiday gifts. Go back and read the title of this post. This is actually a thinly veiled attempt to get you to think about something else with a coming new year. Wait for it….got it? What’s stopping you from using ALL your gifts right now?

Photo credit: Tamurello / IWoman / CC BY-NC-SA

Time for a Change

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It’s the end of the year and my phone is ringing off the hook. It’s peak season for coaches because, as we end the year, many are looking back and realizing they didn’t make the best use of the past year and want help moving forward. Many feel it’s time for a change.

Before you make that jump, here’s one important question to ask yourself. Am I making a change for myself or someone else?

Coaches turn down a lot of potential clients because of their answer to this last question. You might be completely satisfied with your life but feel outside pressure from parents, a spouse or work colleagues to “do more” but if the desire isn’t genuinely yours then coaching isn’t going to help you one bit. In fact, the coaching experience would just be an exercise in frustration for both you and the coach.

To find out if you’re ready for a change, ask yourself these three questions:

  • If I knew today was my last day, could I say I’m satisfied with what I’ve done?
  • Am I doing all I could with my life right now?
  • Can I afford to wait another year to “do more?”

If you answered No to any of the above questions, then it might be time for a change.

So, where do you want to go now? Here’s an exercise I use with a lot of my clients. While you won’t have the benefit of interacting with a coach, it might help you gain some clarity.

Relax in a quiet room with your eyes closed. Take a few deep breathes. Now, imagine your “perfect” (and authentic, what’s going to make you happy) life. Think about all aspects; your career, health, finances, personal relationships and even your spirituality. Think about everything in as much detail as possible.

Once you have that well planted in your mind, imagine someone just asked you this question: “You are so happy these days. You have the perfect life. How did you get where you are today?”

Now, answer the question. Out loud.

A lot of people are surprised by what comes out of their mouth. Often, this is the first time they’ve said out loud something they’ve always wanted for themselves. Or, they knew something was just “off” and this exercise helps them find the words they’ve been missing.

Now, go make everything you just said a reality!

Have a healthy, happy and successful 2015!

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For True Success, Look Inward First Then Choose Well

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Are you chasing after more money, a promotion or some material possession thinking that’s what’s going to make you happy? If you achieve that milestone, you’ll likely still feel unfulfilled and then you’ll set off after the next shiny object. This cycle will frustrate you and burn you out. It’s critical that you look inward to learn your desires and passions then choose to set goals around fulfilling them.

Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart. -Ancient Indian Proverb

To help you focus on what’s important, consider this one question. Given unlimited time and resources and knowing there’s no way you can fail, what would you be doing with your life? Jot down your answer and think about what’s keeping you from pursuing your desire. The reason this question is so powerful is that it encompasses the three most common reasons why we forgo our wishes; we believe we don’t have the time or resources (usually money but it could be knowledge, popularity, looks, etc.) or we’re afraid of failing.

Do you have an idea as to what’s been holding you back? You may have a list of a dozen “good” reasons why you’ve given up on that dream of yours. Now here’s one more question for you; your life is full of choices…how well are you choosing?

Looking back on the choices you’ve made can be uncomfortable. However, you can be glad in knowing that they’re in the past and your next choice is still open to you. So, what will it be? Will you choose to stay right where you’re at because you don’t have something you think you need or are too afraid or will you find a way around these roadblocks you’re putting up for yourself and create the life you were meant to lead? The choice is yours.

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How to Make Your Own Luck

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St. Patrick’s Day is just about here. You’ll see all sorts of lucky symbols and charms like horseshoes and four-leaf clovers. All with the idea of reaching that pot of gold.

What’s your particular pot o’ gold? Are you waiting for that perfect job, relationship or simple “stroke of luck?” I’ve never seen a Leprechaun so if you’re waiting for magical delivery of what you desire, you might be waiting a long time. Instead, how about taking luck into your own hands and simply make it happen?

When I work with an individual that seems to be pining for some unfulfilled need or desire, they’re usually stuck in one (or all) of the following stages of “wish fulfillment.” Here are a few ideas to help you get unstuck

Definition
You have to know which pot of gold you’re seeking. You may want greater wealth. OK, it’s not going to fall out of the sky. What can you do to reach greater wealth? Maybe it’s a better job, saving more, paying off debts; you get the picture. You need a solid destination. Think about what you really want and write that down.

Mindset
You might have a clear picture of where you want to go but also have serious doubt that you can ever get there. Think like a Leprechaun; there’s nothing stopping you from reaching your goal with the use of a little magic. Fortunately, that magic resides in all of us and that’s the ability to mold our thoughts and perceptions. Stop wishing and simply know that you’ll reach your goal when you give the process all of your positive energy. Try a little projection exercise. Write an article to be published sometime in the future; 6 months after you reach your goal. Write about how you got there and how you feel now that you’ve fulfilled your desire.

Planning
You know where you want to go and have no doubt that you can get there. Where many fall short is in planning. Look for the brightest rainbow that’s going to get you to that pot of gold. Without a solid list of tasks, completion dates and milestones, you won’t be able to measure your progress which can have a negative impact on your mindset. For this stage, simply write out your plan and commit to sticking to it. Think about finding an accountability partner to help you stay on task.

For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way –
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.
~Author Unknown

Let me know what wishes you’ve granted yourself!

How to Succeed with a Lego Movie Mindset

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Words have power. The way we describe our environment and those that share it with us determines how we perceive the world. Our perceptions and beliefs drive our actions and our actions determine how others respond to us. Their response, guided by their own perceptions and beliefs, can reinforce our thoughts that started the whole chain of events.

To be successful, you want others to see you in a positive light. For others to perceive you well, your actions need to support this perception. For positive actions, you need to see the world and those around you positively which brings us back to words. How do you currently describe your surroundings, those you interact with and your life in general? If you take some advice from the recently released Lego Movie, you can’t help but succeed.

Everything Is AWESOME!!!

You’ll be singing that for days to come now but that might actually be a good thing! What if you could adopt this mindset that everything truly is awesome?

Here’s an experiment for you. Over the next 21-days, start your day with your first thought being Everything is Awesome! When you come across something unpleasant, it’s awesome! When something doesn’t go right, it’s awesome!

This sounds Pollyannaish, but you’re simply setting a positive framework in which to deal with the situation. You’ll still tackle it head on, but you’ll do so from a place of humor and intention instead of dread and panic. Over time, the way you address negative situations will change and it will be noticed by others. Do you think an executive would rather promote someone that can address a crisis with a sense of humor and purpose or one that stresses out and sees the event as just one more in a string of “why does this always happen to me?”

I’ll leave you with one more thought. If you made it to the end of the song, you’ll recognize it. Everything you see or think or say…that’s awesome!

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Setting Goals for Cupid is a Huge Mistake

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I have a friend that’s going through a goal-setting phase of her life. Everything is getting planned out and there’s a laundry list of things she wants to accomplish and I have no doubt she’ll achieve them all. The discussion went on, however, to including the “goal” of establishing a lasting relationship. I heard the sound of a scratching record in my head. Sorry, but falling in love simply isn’t a goal you can set. However, you can do everything in your power to help it along.

Be Open
Explore new interests, go to new places and consider interacting with different types of people. The more open you are to experiencing new things and new people, the greater the likelihood that you’ll meet someone.

Be Confident
You’re the best version of you out there. You’re unique, you have gifts and talents that no one else has and that makes you special. The right person will see your best so you can be confident in your being.

Be Patient
The greatest danger of setting a relationship goal is the probability of getting discouraged if you don’t meet some arbitrary deadline you’ve set for yourself. “If I don’t have a boy/girl friend by New Year’s Eve, I give up!” Even worse, you might find yourself jumping into a relationship that isn’t right just for the sake of saying your in a relationship.

Be Realistic
In addition to a timeline goal, you might have a list of demands your partner needs to fulfill before you’ll consider moving forward. You can be picky but be realistic too. If you can’t think of at least one person in your direct social circle or someone you’ve met recently that meets your criteria, look at the list again. If you’re looking for a wealthy executive but you only associate with young artists, that connection may never happen.

Be Yourself
Most important, make sure you’re living a genuine and honest life. If you’re acting like someone you’re not just to attract someone, it’s not going to last. We all want someone that will accept us for who we are and you can’t find that person if you’re pretending to be someone you’re not.

Have you ever set a goal for Cupid? If so, how did it turn out for you?

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How to be Mindful and Present at Business Meetings

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We have busy lives. At any given moment, we have information flying at us from ten different directions. Our family, coworkers and even people we meet in passing need our attention. How much attention do we actually give them?

One setting where your divided attention can be detrimental to your success and that of others is a business meeting. Meetings can be boring and nonsensical but they can also be a place where ideas are exchanged and problems are solved. That only happens if everyone is engaged and they offer up their best input. That’s difficult to do when you’re distracted.

Here are a few suggestions to get the most out of a meeting and to show-up in your best light.

Use an Agenda
If you’re leading the meeting, please create an agenda and stick to it. Value the time your attendees are giving you and they’ll be more willing to meet with you in the future.

Set Ground Rules
If this is the first time your group is meeting, set-up some ground rules as to how the meeting will be run and how you’ll communicate with each other. At a minimum, the rules need to include something to support the idea that everyone’s opinion is of value.

Turn off the Gadgets
It’s common courtesy but set your phone to vibrate or turn it off. Better yet, have everyone in the meeting pile their phones in the middle of the table and no one touches them until you’re done.

It’s become more acceptable in the past few years to have your laptop or mobile device open during a meeting. Often, attendees have the intent of taking notes or they want to have information “handy.” I’ve lost track of how many 30-minute meetings turned into 2-hours meetings, however, because people had to “just answer this quick email” or “John in accounting just sent me an urgent message. Just give me a second.” Multiply this by the number of people in the meeting and you can see how the technology that was supposed to help has become a disruptor.

Have attendees stick to paper-based notes. In his blog post How to Take Notes Like an Alpha-Geek, Tim Ferriss (of 4-Hour Work Week fame) states “I don’t use digital notetaking tools. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve noticed that some of the most innovative techies in Silicon Valley do the same, whether with day-planner calendars, memo pads, or just simple notecards with a binder clip. It’s a personal choice, and I like paper.” I’m of the same mind. I take notes faster on paper and not having the distraction of the technology allows me to focus on what’s being said without interruption.

Make Eye Contact
Make eye contact with the current speaker. It doesn’t need to be a constant, creepy leer. Instead, let them know you’re listening intently by making that connection when they get started. You’ll likely look away as the conversation moves forward and you take notes or look at presentation material but that initial contact will make them feel valued. You’ll want the same when it’s your turn to talk.

Acknowledge Input
Even if it’s completely off-the-wall, acknowledge any input given. It may have taken great strength for someone to finally put themselves out there during the meeting. Encouraging them will ensure they keep offering their insight and, you never know, their next idea might be the gem your business needs.

Close on a Positive Note
Even if the discussion was tense and traumatic, end the meeting with a positive message. If you’re discussing how to shut down your business after 20 years, it could be something like “I really valued all of the input you gave today. Jane’s suggestion about the outplacement service can really help make this process less difficult for our employees.”

In your next meeting, pay attention to how you’re showing up. Are you writing a long letter to your mom when you’re supposed to be taking notes or are you valuing others and being of value?

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