What is the best advice you have ever received?

Here’s one piece of advice I really appreciated – if you can’t stick your neck out in the meeting don’t stick your tongue out in the hall. Over the last few weeks this phrase has come to mind in several conversations. No one benefits when we avoid sharing our ideas and then complaining about it later on to people who were not at the meeting.

Speaking up can be scary because when we do all eyes turn toward us and judge us. What if we get it wrong, what if we appear the fool, what if no one listens or what if someone steals our idea and takes credit for it? All of these questions run through our mind outside of our conscious awareness. Our brain takes on the role of protector, just like it did in ancient times when we humans roamed the savannah looking for food. The eyes peering out of the grass were predators meant to do us harm, we didn’t want to stand out and be eaten so we took cover.

In our modern world, we no longer face the risk of dying when we step forward, but our brain hasn’t caught on. It is still warning us to play it safe and stay in the background. The good news is we can retrain our brain. It starts with small steps practiced again and again. Once we practice speaking out, we begin to realize we aren’t going to die. Maybe things will go wrong yet saying what’s one our mind is a risk worth taking. Staying silent, then gossiping later, serves no one.

Keep in mind the words of Leo Buscaglia “Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”

Share the best advice anyone’s given you as a comment to this post.

What are you doing to navigate these stormy waters?

In recent months we’ve been bombarded with the phrase “we are all in this together.” Not only does it relate to the world at large it can also relate to the organization where we work. In speaking with a colleague earlier this week she made an interesting statement: even though we are all in this together we are in different boats. Some people are in an inflatable raft, some in a cabin cruiser or some a yacht. When we work for an organization its true as well. Think of the place you work for as the body of water and your role in the organization is the boat you are guiding to get you to the destination.

We all face stormy weather and how we navigate the storm is independent of the type of vessel you are guiding the difference is how you guide the craft. The way you pilot your boat is what will make the difference in the outcome of your day, your month, your career, not the type of boat you are steering. Without the skill, knowledge, and ability (SKA’s) to sail stormy seas, you will run aground even if you are in the most expensive yacht. Are you willing make the time to improve your SKA’s? Your investment in your SKA’s is what will give you the ability to successfully guide your boat to its destination.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Listen to podcasts or the read the blog posts of leaders in your industry.
  • Let me recommend Michelle L. Steffes podcast: Your Journey to Greatness Through Routine.  Here is a link:https://ipvconsulting.com/podcastpage/
  • Take time each day to disconnect from news and social media.
  • Create a plan to strengthen areas in which you already excel.
  • And of course find time for self-care using things like meditation and exercise.

What strategies do you use to continue to be your best and guide your career to its maximum potential? Post those ideas here.

Listening is a Key to Excellence

It is often the person who is a good technician that is promoted to the role of supervising others in the organization. Here is the challenge. They know the work; they are good at the work. They may not know who to relate to and motive the people they now supervise. In Stephen’s Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, habit 4 is called seek first to understand. Covey said this is the most important of all the habits; the ability to listen and understand the other person’s point of view.

A key skill in becoming a great supervisor is the ability to listen and step into the other person’s point of view without judgment. When was the last time you listened to someone without imposing your own ideas on the situation, without trying to convenience the other person your way is the right way?

Here is your assignment for today. Listen to someone for understanding, not just to the words they are using, but to the underlying message. Release the need to judge, simply listen. A key phrase to use is, “tell me more.” And remember the old adage, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Let me know how it goes by posting your comments.

Are you willing to chase your dream?

Once there was an eagle’s nest with four beautiful eggs perched on the side of a mountain. An earthquake occurred causing one of the eggs to roll out of the nest down the mountain side and landed in the middle of a chicken farm below. The chickens gathered around the egg and decided they would take care of it. One old hen volunteered to sit on the egg and soon it hatched. Out came a beautiful baby eagle. The chickens raised the eagle like all of the other baby chicks.

One day when the eagle was out playing in the yard with the other chicks he looked up into the sky and saw a group of eagles soaring above. He said out loud, “I wish I could soar like that.” The chickens laughed. “You can’t soar “they said “you’re a chicken and chickens can’t fly.” Day after day the eagle would be in the yard and noticed the family of eagles soaring above, his real family. Each time he said how much he wanted to fly like that, the chickens would laugh and tell him it wasn’t possible. As the years passed the eagle gave up on his dream and eventually died with the chickens, never knowing he was an eagle and could soar up in the air.

What’s the morale of the story? We all have dreams inside of us; we were all born to fulfill our greatest purpose. If we let those around us talk us out of our dreams, we will die never realizing what we could become. Use this post as encouragement to follow your dream, stop listening to the people around you who say it can’t be done. As Audrey Hepburn said, “Nothing is impossible, even the word itself says I’m possible.”


What is one action you can take right now to move you closer to your dream? Take it and post your action here.

How to stop negativity on your team.

You know the saying one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. At the end of last week I had the privilege of leading a virtual workshop and several of the participants asked how to stop the one person with a negative attitude from dragging down the entire team. My answer was twofold. First be the example, second you get what you tolerate.

As Albert Schweitzer once said “The three most important ways to lead people are: by example… by example… by example.” Here are two ways to lead by example:

1) Build people up by saying thank you verbally and in writing, noticing when someone goes above and beyond, and weekly check-ins with people to see how they are doing.

2) Find the good in every situation and every person. If you are finding it difficult to fin

d the silver lining, try asking the question – “what can I learn from this?” As opposed to “why is this happening?’

Stop tolerating bad behavior. Schedule a time to talk with the person and let them know you expect them to stop the complaints, gossip, and negative remarks. Let them know the impact their behavior is having on the entire team and the negative behavior will no longer be tolerated. These conversations are not easy to have but worth the time and energy you put into them. I’ve created a free resource to help, you can access by clicking here.

It can be helpful to keep in mind the words of –Henry Kissinger the 56th US Secretary of State. “The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have not been.”

Are you willing to share your best with others?

There was a farmer who grew excellent quality wheat and every season he won the award for the best grown in his county. One year a reporter from the local newspaper interviewed the farmer and learned that each Spring the man shared his seed with his neighbors so that they too could plant it in their fields.


“How can you afford to share your best wheat seed with your neighbors when they are entering their crops in the competition with yours?” the reporter asked.


“Why that’s very simple,” the farmer explained. “The wind picks up pollen from the developing wheat and carries it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior wheat, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of all the wheat, including mine. If I am to grow good wheat, I must help my neighbors grow good wheat”.


The reporter realized how the farmer’s explanation also applied to everyone’s life in the most essential way. If we want to live a meaningfully life, we will choose to enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy will choose help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.


I have two questions for you. What will you do to enrich the lives of those you come in contact with today? What will you do to help your family and friends find happiness? Please share your thoughts here.

How do you handle disappointment?

A long time ago there was a farmer who had a donkey. One day the donkey was walking through a field and fell into an old abandoned well. Of course, the donkey was very upset by his predicament and started braying loudly. The farmer heard his cries and came to investigate. He wasn’t sure how to get the donkey out of the well. He called a few of his neighboring farmers and they came over to help him solve the dilemma. Since there was no way to lift the donkey out of the well, and he was an old donkey, the farmer and his friends agreed the best solution was to bury the donkey.

So, they gathered their shovels and began solving dirt into the well and onto the donkey. As you can well imagine the donkey became upset with shovels full of dirt landing on him. With each shovel full he brayed louder, shook off the dirt and stamped his hoofs. This continued well onto the evening. The farmers shoveling dirt into the well and the donkey shaking off the dirt and stepping on to the dirt that fell off him. After several hours low and behold the donkey walked out of the well. With every shovel full he shook it off and stepped up.

I was reminded of this story because I had a big disappointment in my business this week. Something that I thought would come my way in terms of new business didn’t happen. After a bit of complaining I realized I had to shake it off and step up otherwise the weight of the disappointment would bury me.

Mastering a Difficult ConversationLife is full of disappointments. We can choose to learn from it (shake it off and step up) or we can let it bury us. We won’t be able to serve our clients, our team, or our family if we become buried under the weight of disappointment. Need help seeing the lesson in a disappointment in your life? Let’s talk, schedule by clicking here.

Why Your Body Language Matters

Workplace DramaLast week’s blog post discussed the difference between saying I have to do something, and I get to do something. The words we use are one type of communication tool, body language and tone of voice are the other components of any message. Today’s post is about body language.


You may be familiar with what is referred to as the 7-38-55 rule by Albert Mehrabian. Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, create this rule. The rule is based on his findings that words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and facial expression accounts for 55% of the message. He is quoted as stating:
“The non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they are in-congruent: if words and body language disagree, one tends to believe the body language.”

A recent client was preparing for a job interview and we did a practice session before she went on the Zoom interview with her potential new employer. I noticed two things during our conversation. First, she was slumped in her chair and second, she often curled her shoulder length hair around her finger. Both could have been interpreted as a lack of confidence or disinterest on her part.

Hour after hour sitting in your chair for virtual meetings can get tiring and good posture may slip. Taking stretch breaks in between calls can help you to sit up straight when you return to your chair. Another technique is to plant your feet flat on the floor. Avoid crossing your legs, even at the ankles.

Not everyone has long hair but anything in your hands is a distraction for the viewer. Best to put your hands folded on your lap. Avoid resting your chin on your hands or drumming your fingers on the surface in front of you.

Remember to smile. Smiling releases, the “feel good” chemicals in your brain: endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin. Together these three neurotransmitters make us feel good from head to toe. When interacting with others a smile is contagious and makes you more attractive. People are drawn to people who smile.

What has been your experience when you notice a disconnect between what someone is saying and how they are delivering the message? I’d love to hear from you, so be sure to post your comments.

How your words impact your feelings.

Have you ever said things like: “I have to go to work today”, or “I should be at the board meeting”, or “I must make this call”? Using words like have to, should or must creates an internal response of rejecting the activity. It is like saying to yourself I’m required to do this thing, but I would rather not. Instead using words like get to, chose to, or want to.


When you replace have to with get to the sentence has a whole new meaning. “I get to go to work today”, has an entirely different feel to it then “I have to go to work today”. Saying I get to implies a choice and as humans we like the freedom of choice.

Part of the challenge was are facing in our world today is the fact that are choices are limited to reduce the spread of COVID 19. Masks are now required when we go out to a public space. Tell yourself “I get to wear a mask to protect myself and others”, as opposed to “I must wear this mask!” Or “I am going to choose to social distance myself from others,” instead of “I have to stand six feet apart in line”.

The same applies to other daily activities. I get to make a call on a potential customer. I want to have this conversation with one of my team members. I chose to work on this project first thing this morning.
Acting by choice is different than when we are forced to do something.

Remember when you were a kid and a parent made you clean your room or eat your vegetables? A command from an adult set up feelings of internal resistance – I don’t want to! Even if we did as we were told we felt frustrated, angry, and upset. The same thing can happen to us as adults. When we tell our self, some action is required, those same negative feelings come up as a response. Making a choice eliminates those negative emotions.

Remember, your brain believes everything you tell it. Pay attention to the words you are using out loud and in your internal dialogue. Change your language and you will change how you feel. Try it and post your results here.

Stop being a victim of criticism

Does your boss (or someone else) constantly criticize you? These 3 tips can help.

If you are fortunate enough to report to a boss who is supportive, encouraging and looks out for the best interest of the company and the people who work for it you don’t need to read this post. If not, this post contains 3 key steps you can take today to feel better about yourself and change your thinking about your situation.

I worked with a client whose boss belittled her in front of the company’s very best customer. She was the lead account executive and was concerned the customer may cancel their contract. A meeting was held with the customer’s executive team, my client, and her boss. As the meeting unfolded the boss blamed my client for all the problems the customer had experienced, none of which were under my client’s direct control. She left the meeting bewildered by her boss’s actions and frustrated that a client relationship was now in jeopardy. She was dreading going to work the next day. Here are the three actions she took to get her confidence back.

 

1) As she got ready for work the next morning, she practiced what Amy Cuddy calls power poses. In her Ted Talk, Cuddy a Harvard professor, describes the following: standing up straight, shoulders back, with your hands on your hips, feet hip width apart. She calls it the Wonder Woman Pose. The second is similar but instead of hands on your hips raise your arms in the air just like you are the first to cross the finish line in a race. This is the Victory Stance. Stand in the pose for two minutes and repeat affirmations such as: I am confident. I am smart. My customers love me.


2) Then she wrapped herself in an invisible force field so any angry, belittling, or derogatory remarks her boss made bounced off the field unable to penetrate her psyche.


3) She began to ask a different question. Instead of thinking: why is this happening to me? She asked herself: Why is this happening for me? When we ask – why is this happening for me we can look at the advantages of the situation instead of the frustration and heartache. She began to journal about ways she could look at the situation with her boss as a learning experience and how she could use it to her advantage, instead of getting caught up in the angst and frustration.


Looking for the good in the situation can be a challenge yet it is possible. It is an opportunity to look inside yourself and get a new mindset. Consider recent events and ask yourself why is happening for you and post your response here. Looking forward to hearing from you.