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.

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 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.

The #1 Way to Combat Anixety

The news headlines are relentless. The reports of COVID-19 spreading like wildfire has sports seasons halted, entertainment venues and gyms closed, meetings and events cancelled or postponed until further notice. It is easy to get caught up in all the drama and get pulled down a tunnel of darkness.

The antidote? Focus on what you can control, and you control what you think about. This post uses the analogy that your mind is like a garden. In order for any garden to grow, flourish and produce beautiful flowers or delicious produce it needs tending.

The “garden of your mind” must never be left unattended. No matter how healthy the garden may seem, there will always be opportunities to allow weeds and thorns to creep in and bring destruction. When this happens, you can experience everything from poor health to depression and emotional upheaval affecting your career, relationships, well-being, and success.

“’Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become reality.” – Earl Nightingale

Sowing good seeds to produce a healthy garden in your mind requires you to pay attention to where you focus your thoughts each and every day. The influences in your daily life can be but are not necessarily all bad things. Your choices for entertainment, reading material, music, social media and even the people you surround yourself are all some type of seed. You must be willing to ask yourself which ones are pushing you towards your destiny and which are just stealing your time or inhibiting the healthy growth in the garden of your mind.
When it comes to taking care of our garden to ensure it matches our vision and pushes us toward our desired goals, we must do whatever is necessary to change our inner dialogue.

Therefore, a regular examination of our influences, both inner and outer will not only reveal some root causes of stress in our lives but it can help us prioritize what we allow ourselves to become involved in and help us to regain control.
Success is not a destination it is part of the journey. Visualize yourself being successful each and every step of the way. Of course, weeds will creep into our garden. The key is focusing on what is good and positive and let the rest fall away.

Today I want to offer you another resource, it is my free course Stop Anxiety in its Tracks. Click here to take advantage of this offer while it lasts.

How to experience more joy at work

“To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun?” Katharine Graham, the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company (the Washington Post Company).

A few months ago, I was talking with my brother about a program I was developing with a colleague. I told him how much fun I was having working with her on this project. He remarked, “Fun, at work?” I exclaimed: “Yes, absolutely. We do good work together and have a great time in the process.” His response, “Based on my career history, that’s pretty rare.”

The data on this subject varies, and I’m using the words fun, joy, and happiness to mean one in the same. One study in a CNBC survey reports 85% of US workers are happy with their jobs. In 2013 a Gallup report, only 30% of the U.S. workforce is satisfied and happy on the job. While Google discovered a 37% increase in employee productivity when they implemented strategies focused on employee support and satisfaction. And interestingly enough Harvard researcher and author, Shawn Achor, found that happiness is the key to success, not the other way around. When we are feeling positive, our brain works significantly better, allowing you to be smarter and more creative. According to Achor, “Only 25 percent of job success is based upon IQ. Seventy-five percent is about how your brain believes your behavior matters, connects to other people, and manages stress.”

So, if you feel stuck in a job you dislike is there anything you can do besides look for other work? Yes, there is. Practice gratitude. In Achor’s work he found that when workers spent two minutes to take four quick actions, it improved their happiness over the long term. Those four actions were:

Writing down a meaningful experience they had in the past 24 hours. Our brain is wired to default to remember negative experiences because the number one job of our brain is to keep us safe. Our ancestors couldn’t stop to smell the roses, if they did, a hungry animal would have them for dinner. In order to keep you alive your brain is constantly scanning the environment for danger. Positive experiences are like Teflon, they slip away. Tracking a positive experience keeps it alive in your memory and makes it much sticker – like Velcro.

Writing down three things you are grateful for. Keep a small journal and record those three things at the end of each day.

Writing a positive message to someone — and then sending it to them via Facebook or another social media platform. Everyone loves to get encouraging words.

Meditate. Don’t believe mediation works? Google the story of Dr. Joe Dispenza and discover how a daily mediation practice changed his life.

Ready to make a commitment to having more fun and finding joy on the job? Post one action step here.

The best way to discover your brilliance and why it matters.

You’ve probably heard it said – do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life. Sounds good, right? Yet many Americans aren’t doing work they love. Gallup’s research suggests that only about 36% of us are engaged at work and the rest are just showing up and going through the motions or worse as small percentage are actually undermining the work of others. Given that fact that the average person will spend 90,000 hours or roughly 1/3 of their life the job, discovering what it is you love to do is important from an overall life satisfaction perspective.

Don’t believe me? Talk to people who’ve worked all their life in a role they hated. The lawyer who really wanted to become a chef, but his father and grandfather were both successful attorneys and a career in the culinary arts was frowned up. The accountant who wanted to be a film maker but didn’t dare risk the security of a good job to do creative work. The sales professional who wanted photography to be more than a hobby but was making too much money to pursue their true passion.

No matter where you are in your career, remember the quote often attributed to George Elliot – “It is never too late to be what you might have been”. Start today and discover the intersection of your brilliance and what the market will pay.

Step 1. Get out your journal and write down the answer to the following questions.
What are your unique skills, knowledge, and abilities (SKA’s?)
What are you doing when you are working at something and hours pass yet it seems like a few minutes? (In other words, doing what you love to do.)

Step 2. Marry the two together. Do some research. What kinds of jobs require your unique SKA’s? Based on your answer what jobs have both your SKA’s and allow you to work at what you love?

Step 3. Identify people you know who are currently doing the work you want to do. Don’t know them personally? Read the biographies of people you want to emulate. Use their stories as a model for yours.

Step 4. Create a plan of action. What can you do today, this week, this month, this year to move you closer to having a career you will love? Post your plan where you will see it every day to track your progress.

Step 5. Turn off the voice in your head that says changing your life is impossible. Even the word itself says I’m possible. Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations.

Step 6. Celebrate along the way. Every time you take action on your dreams reward yourself in some small way. Share a glass of wine with a friend, do a happy dance, proclaim it on your social media page. Whatever reward will keep you taking action and moving forward.

I love what Oliver Wendell Holmes had to say about this – “The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” What is one thing you are willing to do today to find a job that requires your brilliance? Post that here.

The Beautiful Way

“There is a beautiful and an ugly way in which to say almost everything, and happiness depends upon which way we take.” 
 – Delia L. Porter author and wife of Frank C Porter Yale Theology Professor

How we respond to someone’s words depends on how we take them. As Delia reminds us almost everything can be interpreted as positive or negative.  Think about the phrase “take offense.”  When someone says something, we don’t like or disagree with we often respond with “I take offense to that.” Or “You offended me!” What if we took a different approach?  What if we took the stance that everyone is doing the best they can at that moment in time given the resources they have, their background, their experience? We can’t change what someone says but we can change how we respond.  We can make the choice to let the words roll off use like the proverbial water off a duck’s back.  Avoid the negative and search for the positive instead.  As a write this the COVID-19 virus is running rampant around the world.  Many people are on edge, worried, and afraid.

Late last week my husband and I were in a local grocery store.  The lines were long and the cashier in our lane was new.  It appeared he didn’t have much training and was uncertain how to do a certain process the customer’s check.  The customer ahead of us handed the young man a blank check.  He looked at it and handed it back to the customer.  The customer pointed at a machine that will print the details on the check.  The young man was still confused.  Fortunately, a manager came over and showed the young man how to process the check.  The man behind us was becoming more and more impatient. I could hear him making comments under his breath. (Taking the ugly way.) You could tell he was frustrated because the cashier didn’t have the knowledge needed at that moment in time.  The couple in front of us was taking the beautiful way.  They were patient and kind to the young man.

What I’ve come to realize is that in every moment we have a choice.  We can respond with gentleness and kindness or we can get upset and angry.  Most of the time when we let things annoy us the only person we hurt is our self.  It is our own blood pressure that rises and cortisol and adrenaline course through our veins.  The longer we stay in this state of upset the harder it is to recover.  Begin to practice taking the beautiful choice and see what changes in your life.