Do It Like This

October 15, 2014

Road“Oz never did give nothing to the Tin man, that he didn’t, didn’t already have.” America

To improve, grow, and develop is an innate human desire. I am grateful for the opportunity to help people and teams along that path. My work is fulfilling and meaningful, yet I’ve noticed a potential trap between those in my business and our clients. It’s called, “Do it like this.” Let’s take a look at how this happens.

When a person or team recognizes the need to improve and add new skills, they often reach out to a professional consultant, facilitator, or coach. This learning and development professional should then ask strategic questions and listen intently to determine how to assist the client in achieving their desired outcome. The problem occurs when the professional starts rolling out a plan that includes phrases which sound like this:

  • If you want to be an engaging leader, do it like this…
  • If you want to start your own business, do it like this…
  • If you want to experience financial freedom, do it like this…
  • If you want to have more energy, eat like this…
  • If you want to be sleek and strong, workout like this…

You’re not designed to follow a one-size-fits-all “do it like this” path. You’ve got to be an active participant in your own self-discovery. Imagine if the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion listened to an infomercial that said, “If you need a heart, do this. If you’re looking for a brain, do this. If you want courage, do this.” What they really needed was to go on a journey that included fear, courage, set backs, teamwork, problem solving, and celebration. And just like you, the magical Land of Oz they were searching for resided within.

Resist the temptation to improve and develop yourself with a “do it like this” mentality. It’s smart to seek advice, support, and guidance, yet in the end you’ll have to make application and discover what really works for you. There is never one way to improve, grow or develop. Chart your course. Take a detour. Walk your own yellow brick road. In the end, you’ll learn more and become more than you ever imagined.

Leave your comments: How are you determined to improve, grow, and develop?

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V-couragement: Chapter 10 – Have Fun

October 7, 2014

“How do you like your work?” is a question I often ask people. It’s commonly followed by a deep sigh and a discouraged voice that answers, “Twelve more years.” It’s time to bring the “F” word into your workplace. Our eighth fundamental engagement principle from Your Employees Have Quit—They Just Haven’t Left  is…Have Fun! It makes good business sense to have fun at work. Recent research demonstrates that employees who enjoy their jobs are more creative, productive, innovative, more effective at problem solving, have lower absenteeism, experience improved overall well-being, and get along better with co-workers. That’s a good return on investment. How might you go about improving employee engagement by incorporating more fun at work? Watch the video for your answers. 

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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E-couragement: 3 Steps to Master Time Management

September 30, 2014

Time Management“In fact, the most important thing probably isn’t even on your agenda.”  Seth Godin

Maybe it’s a result of our current work reality that companies are still demanding workshops and learning wrapped around the topic of time management; in fact, it’s one of the most requested sessions. We have more to do and we need to get it done faster with fewer people to help. This time-crisis is at epidemic proportions, impacting our work and personal life. So, let’s fix it today with our 3 Steps to Master Time Management.

Humans can be funny—especially when we don’t mean to be. We often accept theories simply because we’ve been told, “that’s the way it is.” Therein lies the root of our time management crisis. The solution rests in our ability to challenge current beliefs. With that in mind, let’s dive into the 3-steps:

  1. Recognize the Illusion: Solving the time management predicament can appear sexy. It involves the quest for more effective checklists, calendars, and technology. All the while, this busying pursuit is a perfect distraction from a reality: time management is an illusion. We can’t manage time anymore than we can grab a fistful of wind (go outside and try it). Perhaps if we could uncover a way to manage time we could also figure out how to control the sun and earth’s rotation. Did I mention humans are funny?
  2. Accept responsibility: Here’s the irony. By holding on to our former belief we ensure failure. Success relies solely on our willingness to take 100% responsibility for what we do and when we do it. The minute we place blame somewhere else (lack of time, our boss, customers, coworkers, the economy, etc.) or resort to excuse making, we lose our power. Here’s a tough reality that I regularly remind myself of (with a spirit of compassion): Yesterday—and all the days before that—I did exactly what I wanted to do. My evidence? I did it.
  3. Modify actions: Now that we’ve regained our power, it’s time to take action. Here’s the final step. At the end of each day, reflect and ask: Am I happy with how I invested my time? Were my actions aligned with my purpose, priorities, and goals? If so—awesome! You rock. If not, then determine what you’ll do different tomorrow. That’s it. Success.

Here’s what I’ve found after decades of struggling with the time management fantasy. My real challenge is self-mastery. Once I finally recognized the illusion, accepted responsibility, and modified my actions, things started to improve. I don’t want to be misleading—I still wrestle (daily) with self-mastery. The difference is that I can actually do something about myself, leaving time to manage itself. Reclaim your power. Align your actions and priorities. Do what’s important. At the end of the day, you’ll have an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction.

Leave your comments: How are you being more effective with self-mastery?

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V-couragement: Create Your Miracle Mindset

September 23, 2014

Successful and happy people subscribe to Albert Einstein’s philosophy of “seeing everything as a miracle.” Each day they recognize the good, the possibilities, and the opportunities surrounding them. These people intentionally nurture a miracle mindset. In this video, Executive Coach Elaine Penn explains the value of creating your own miracle mindset, allowing you to confidently believe in your own ideas, talents, abilities, and life purpose. Break free of limited self-thinking, adopt a few simple practices and you’ll shine as you’re meant to. Enjoy this V-couragement as you fully engage your work and life.

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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E-couragement: Pain and Joy

September 15, 2014

JoyPain“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” Khalil Gibran

It’s been two-and-a-half years since my wife transitioned. I’m occasionally prompted to revisit journal writings and blogs from the time around her death. Not long ago, I encountered such a nudge. Sometimes I feel like an outsider reading my own journal posts—reliving an experience that seems so long ago and still remains surprisingly raw. I stumbled upon one entry that aligns perfectly with a recent conversation I had with a friend.

In late 2011, during our three-week stay in Palliative care, I found myself vacillating between feelings of pain—watching Ivy traverse the dying process, and joy—recalling the significant impact she had on my life. Remembering the Buddhist saying, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, I was keenly aware that Ivy, and this event, were important teachers for me. Here’s a particular student lesson lifted from my journal at that time:

Pain and Joy = opposite sides of the same coin. Seeking a life of safety and security in order to protect ourselves from potential loss or pain also numbs and robs us of deep joy. Live with courage, curiosity, wonder, risk, abandon, and joy. Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, to suck the marrow from the bones of life; to put to rout all that was not life, and not to come to the end of life, and discover that I had not lived.” Don’t seek the straight and secure road, rather the windy, twisty, scenic path.

That bold writing emerged only days before Ivy died. The pain that followed was excruciating, at times unbearable. Yet, a month after Ivy’s death, when asked by our minister, “knowing what you know now, would you have done anything different?” My answer was a quick, “No.” The immense pain of losing Ivy had not overshadowed the incalculable joy of knowing her. That’s one of the final lesson she left for me.

Common life teaching encourages people to mitigate risk and pain. It’s well meaning advice, often given by those who care deeply for you. This does not have to be your path. It’s not for the person looking to experience the depth and breadth of what life has to offer. Attempting to alleviate pain robs you of deep joy. In order to live fully engaged be willing to embrace both sides of the coin—pain and joy.

Leave your comments: What potential joy are you missing out on in order to limit your risk of pain

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V-couragement: Chapter 9 – Crave Feedback

September 8, 2014

Feedback can be challenging. Your willingness to seek out and accept feedback from those you trust can be the difference between mediocrity and excellence. That’s why our seventh fundamental engagement principle from Your Employees Have Quit—They Just Haven’t Left  is: Crave Feedback. Feedback is your personal GPS. It helps close the gap between where you think you are and where you actually are. It gives you a fuller truth to operate from and can offer perspectives that you might otherwise be blind to. Watch this eight-minute video and learn how this principle can help you grow and develop into the engaging leader you’re designed to be: crave feedback. 

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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E-couragement: How to Tell If You’re a Pro

September 2, 2014

PracticeThe difference between a hobby and a profession is practice.” Rich Schlentz

It was the first workshop with a new client. The participants were understandably a little nervous. As if on behalf of the others, one Senior Director delivered this hybrid statement/question, “We’re not going to role-play today…are we?” I hear this often. For years I was uncertain how to effectively answer. Now, I reply, “Absolutely not. No role-play here, that’s for children.” I paused, allowing for a collective sigh of relief from everyone listening in then, I continued my response…

“Nope, we will certainly not be role-playing today. We will be practicing, because that’s what pros do—they practice.” Their look transformed from relief to a blend of confusion and fear, at which time I kicked-off the workshop. Here’s a simple timeless truth: no practice = no improvement. We understand this in other professions (athletes, entertainers, speakers, etc.), expecting them to perform at high levels. Yet in the workplace, there’s very little conversation or expectations regarding practicing your profession and honing your craft.

Let’s be clear, practice is not reading self-improvement books, listening to podcasts, or attending seminars/workshops. Those are all forms of information/education. No matter how good the information is, you won’t improve or change without application. Education doesn’t make anyone better at anything (if that were the case, we’d all be flawless). That’s where practice comes in. Application is how you improve—using what you learn converts information and tools into skill and new behavior.

Are you a professional manager or engaging leader within your organization? What skills do you need to be more effective? Communication, handling conflict, project management, sales, planning, presenting, innovation, creating a compelling team vision, coaching employees, etc.? Are you practicing any of these? If not, you’re treating your profession more like a hobby. Pros practice. How about you?

Leave your comments: How will you practice your profession this week?

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E-couragement: What Would You Do?

August 27, 2014

“What you say has value only when it’s relevant to your listener.” Rich Schlentz

This is the Scenario: Eleven hundred people have been in their seats for three hours. They’ve heard six or seven presentations from various subject matter experts. By the time I begin, their primary interest is: what’s for lunch and will there be free beer at the afternoon pool party? As an engaging communicator, what would you do? Here’s what I did…

  1. Coach the introducer: Typical bio’s are boring and speaker centric. The audience deserves better than that. In this case, the introduction is personal, brief, and instructional. Notice how my introducer guides the audience to stand and clap. Time is precious, don’t waste it on a bad “takeoff.”
  2. Play upbeat music: Find a way to raise the energy in the room. Based on the audience demographics, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts was sure to resonate with them.
  3. Change your entrance: Until this point, every speaker entered from back stage. One way to capture attention is to break a pattern. Entering from the rear of the ballroom achieved this goal.
  4. Interact with the audience: I intentionally made physical contact with the audience. Because this is a long-time client, and I know many of them personally, it was appropriate and added to the energy.
  5. Deliver a unique and relevant opening: The opening statements were custom created for this audience. It was unique and “seeded” with references that demonstrate my familiarity with them.

Influential communicators create a memorable experience by preparing in advance for their audience and considering the conditions they’re facing. Wonder if it worked? Watch the video below and see what you think.

Leave your comments: How have you successfully captured the attention of your audience before?  

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V-couragement: Rediscover Your Strengths

August 19, 2014

Doubt can often cloud your ability to make the best decisions for ongoing success. Doubt can be a formidable foe, causing you to forget the strengths, skills, and talents, which are uniquely yours. Perhaps it’s time to journey the path of self re-discovery and remember who you are. In this 4-minute video, Executive Coach Elaine Penn reminds you that creating an inventory list of your professional/personal strength assets is a powerful way to fuel productive action, which leads to achieving your goals. Enjoy this V-couragement as you fully engage your work and life.

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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V-couragement: Chapter 8 – Watch Your Mouth

August 12, 2014

Engaging leaders understand the power of words. I used to admire the “telling like it is” or “shooting from the hip” brand of communication, longing to speak with such strength and confidence; I no longer feel that way. I now know this aggressive, bullying communication style stems from a lack of self-confidence. I’ve seen leaders hold their direct reports hostage with harsh, cutting words—leaving bodies in their wake. This is not for you. That’s why our sixth fundamental engagement principle from Your Employees Have Quit—They Just Haven’t Left is: Watch Your Mouth. In this 6-minute video you’ll learn four key questions to ask yourself in order to connect successfully with others. Engaging leaders practice intentional, assertive and confident communication—encouraging others rather than discouraging them. Choose your words wisely: watch your mouth. 

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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