E-couragement: Baggage Can’t Claim You

August 2, 2016

image003We just completed our 10th Annual Dad-Daughters Adventure Trip. This year we visited the Grand Canyon for a few days of hiking, laughing, debating (they’re like that), and eating (the real reason we travel together).

When we reached our destination, the first order of business was to hurry and claim our baggage.

Anxiously, we waited, worked our way through the crowd then walked off under the renewed weight of our stuff.

As we lugged around our burden, all I could think about was how light and refreshed we felt after having initially checked that same baggage.

Then, my thoughts turned. What about our life baggage? Admit it. We all have it.

If we only had the clarity to identify it. The courage to hand it over. The discipline to let it drift away, down the conveyer belt.

Feel lighter?

Instead we reclaim it over and over again at each new destination we reach.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Life baggage can’t claim you if you don’t go looking for it.

What baggage have you been lugging around for too long?

It may be time to check it in and walk away. Forever.

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E-couragement: 5 Ways to Lose Your Audience in Under a Minute

July 19, 2016

image003“But I want to begin with, ‘Good afternoon. It’s an honor to be here with all these great speakers’…”

She was resisting my coaching.

“What will you accomplish with that?” I asked.

“I’ll build rapport with the audience and let them know I appreciate them.”

I paused…and paused some more.

“You have 18-minutes to deliver your TED Talk. You’ll waste precious seconds with that opening. You risk losing your listeners because you’ve said nothing interesting to them. If you really appreciate them, provide value with your first words.”

She wanted to indulge in the most common presentation mistake there is:

Delivering a boring opening.

Break the pattern. Stop using typical speaker openings. They’re stale, uninspiring, and cliché.

5 Ways to Lose Your Audience in Under a Minute

  1. “Good morning…” (boring and a significant lack of creativity)
  2. “Let me tell you a little about me/my company…” (they don’t care and it’s rarely a “little”)
  3. “It’s an honor to be here…” (If that’s true then say something more interesting)
  4. “Today I’m going to talk to you about…” (Instead of telling them what you’re going to talk about, go ahead and talk about it— and only if it’s important to them)
  5. “Have you heard the one about…?” (Jokes are risky and often backfire. Use humor by telling a funny story that “pokes” fun at you)

Ensure that your audience will join you on your presentation journey. Have the courage and the skill to be memorable from the moment you open your mouth:

  • Jump into the action of a story that piques their curiosity
  • Ask an intriguing question (then shut up and actually listen)
  • Offer a sincere compliment (based on facts not flattery)

Walk away from the crowded corner of sameness. How can you set yourself apart? Start by being engaging.

Watch TEDx Greensboro’s 2016 Speaker line-up to see how it’s done.

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E-couragement: The Best Negotiators Never Win

July 6, 2016

PokerWe utilize it at home, in the office, and with customers. It’s a constant piece of our human experience:

Negotiation.

At its root, negotiation is a discussion between people attempting to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.

Even though we’ve done it our entire lives we’ve created a mystical aura around it.

Over time, we’ve wandered off course when it comes to the goal of negotiating.

We’ve all seen the books and workshops touting titles like, “How to Win at Negotiating.”

This popular strategy is short sighted and costly. It damages relationships and impairs business.

When a winner is crowned the loser is clearly identified and progress ends.

A successful negotiator’s goal is not to win, but to collaborate.

It requires effort and skill to build trusting relationships where all participants willingly “show their cards” in order to create the best “hand” for everyone.

During your next negotiation seek mutual progress over personal victory.

It’s not easy. It is effective.

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E-couragement: Deconstructive Cricitism

June 20, 2016

CautionIt has stood the test of time.

It’s a crowd favorite both in the workplace, and in the home.

It’s never fun to hear:

“Let me give you some constructive criticism.”

Reflect on the meaning of the words: constructive (build up) and criticism (tear down). They can’t coexist. They’re antonyms.

Let’s call it what it is: deconstructive criticism.

Deconstructive criticism is common in the disengaged workplace. It’s slung around without much skill or consideration. Ultimately, deconstructive criticism leaves the provider feeling superior and the receiver feeling diminished.

Instead, let’s offer constructive coaching.

Those two words: constructive (build up) and coaching (provide instruction or teaching) align perfectly.

Coaching interactions are common in the highly engaged workplace. These types of conversations require thoughtfulness and skill. Constructive coaching leaves the provider and the receiver feeling stronger and more energized.

Small shift. Significant difference. Try it. 

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E-couragement: Practice Flexible Rigidity

June 8, 2016

Her modus operandi was well established. Monday through Friday was all business…with permeable boundaries that stretched into the evenings.

She relived example after example when this strategy was perfectly executed as she chose to remain in important meetings rather than respond to urgent family needs.

Over the years she ascended the corporate ladder.

She received accolades for her work ethic.

She secured the coveted corner office.

Her methodology was quite literally working.

Last week, standing before a group of colleagues in our presentation skills workshop, she spoke persuasively with confidence, clarity, and conviction.

Her message: Be aware when commitment morphs into rigidity.

Using her personal experience as evidence, she passionately encouraged her teammates to remain malleable. Work hard—yes. Be available to your family—yes. She recommended we adopt a form of flexible rigidity. She regrets not practicing this earlier in her own life. Her entire audience was moved when she courageously implored, “Don’t be like me.”

Later that day she left our workshop early.

Why?

To attend an end-of-school-year awards ceremony for her daughter.

Even more compelling than her poignant message…her actions.

Little did she know, her message helped me make peace with something I have been wrestling with since March.

I’ve consistently written blogs every other week for the past twelve years. They’ve been composed on weekends, in airplanes, while on vacation, and even during doctor’s visits. They have been a priority regardless of my circumstances.

You might say my commitment had morphed into rigidity.

Then, the blogs stopped.

Why?

WeddingOn May 7, I married Sarah. Leading up to our big day, I had to make adjustments. Something had to give in order for me to focus appropriate attention on my clients, my fiancé, and our upcoming wedding. I had to make a decision whether my commitment to blog writing would become rigid.

We had a memorable wedding celebration and a beautiful honeymoon. My decision to take a break from writing allowed me to be present and fully enjoy the experience.

Choose a form of flexible rigidity that allows for variance within your life, schedule, and priorities.

Flexible rigidity. Where might it make sense in your life?

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E-couragement: 4 Steps to Get Yourself Unstuck

March 15, 2016

SinkholeYears earlier, my client had courageously left the security of her corporate world to create a meaningful and successful small business. Our agenda for this coaching session was to review numbers she had put together.

Before digging in, I asked, “How are you doing? It appears you might be feeling down and distracted.”

After a slight pause, she responded, “I was wondering how noticeable it has been.”

She described her most recent feelings with words like, fear, hopeless, and discouraged. She said these were a result of being stuck in a particular aspect of her life—and remaining stuck was taking its toll.

Most of us can relate. We’ve all been stuck at some point in our lives. Although there is no single formula for getting unstuck, here are a few principles that have worked for me:

  1. Resist blame and excuses. It’s easy to make our circumstance an enemy. We blame the economy, lack of resources, even relationships for keeping us in a sinkhole. It’s critical that we stop using blame and excuses as a way to justify our predicament.
  2. See the opportunity to grow. This requires a complete reversal in thinking. Not only is our circumstance not an enemy, it’s the exact teacher we need in order to grow and change into the person who can get us unstuck. After all, in order to get unstuck, we have to change what got us stuck in the first place. Us.
  3. Take action. A change in personal thinking and belief is not enough to set us free. Next, take action. This requires us to do something different in order to begin rising from our place of captivity. Remember, getting unstuck is rarely instantaneous. Be patient. Be persistent. Be courageous.
  4.  Ask for support. Change is difficult and scary. Some people prefer we remain the same—they like us stuck. Although our ability to overcome is inside of us, we still benefit from the support and belief of those who want to see us fully evolve.

Perhaps you’re stuck on a financial plateau, in a bad relationship, in a career that doesn’t fit, or with a lack of health and wellbeing. It’s easy to overcomplicate the concept of being stuck.

Our life is full of habits. Being stuck is simply a habit we’ve formed that keeps us in a place we rather not be. Becoming unstuck requires that we first recognize, and then undo, those patterns that trap us. You’re designed to be free—today is a good day to start living that way.

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E-couragement: Your Employees Need Their Say, Not Their Way

February 29, 2016

notlisteningEarly on in life, we learned that we don’t always get our way.

We understand this concept even though we may not always like it.

Conversely, we’ll never outgrow the desire to have our say.

Why?

To be heard is an innate human need.

It is so much harder to support decisions that are made for us, than it is to support decisions that are made with us.

Creating a culture in which the voices of your employees have a safe place to be expressed promotes confidence, builds trust, fosters problem solving, and drives innovation.

When you invite your employees to contribute to the conversation, ultimately they are more willing to commit to ideas and initiatives… even the ones that are not their own.

Listening is a form of respect. It fosters buy-in. 

Buy-in is not something that magically happens on the back end. It needs to be cultivated on the front end.

You can’t ensure that your employees will always get their way; you can however, ensure that they will always have their say.

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E-couragement: Release Your Oz Complex

February 16, 2016

Wizard of OzA couple of my coaching clients had a revelation.

It started by outlining qualities they desired to obtain as a result of our work together. Then they conducted face-to-face interviews with a number of their colleagues.

They asked these coworkers to list strengths observed in them. Interestingly enough, the traits pointed out were the same ones my clients hoped to acquire.

As a result, they had release their Oz complex.

What’s an Oz complex? It’s the most common delusion on the planet. It’s a belief that you’re currently lacking the qualities required to become the person you envision. Courage…nope. Heart…nada. Brains…none.

Even armed with this new awareness, my clients have plenty of hard work before them.

They’ll have to navigate the challenging journey of personal development. It will require them to come face-to-face with the flying monkeys of self-doubt and undo the false programming of their very own Wicked Witch of the West.

Just as my clients already possess everything they need to be successful—so do you. In reality, you have all the courage, heart, and brains you’ll ever need. Right now. They’re yours to discover, yours to embrace, and yours to utilize.

Your personal yellow brick road is waiting for you. It’s time to start.

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E-couragement: Simple and Difficult

February 2, 2016

E=MC2Simple and difficult. Interesting insight from my client.

We were focused on key workplace engagement tools—building rapport and craving feedback. When they remarked that these important principles seemed timeless and fundamental. In fact…simple.

Then, she paused before saying, “They’re also difficult to apply.” Simple and difficult…now that’s insightful.

What’s the answer to this dilemma? How can you be more effective with the difficult task of applying simple engagement principles that yield positive result in your customer service scores, productivity, and profitability?

These suggestions will help you make headway in the difficult arena of application:

  • Focus on one principle at a time. Attempting too many improvements at once will lower your chances of sustaining long-term change.
  • Write down the one area you wish to improve. What is it that you want to do better of different? Place this written action statement in a highly visible place.
  • Tell someone your intention. Let a trusted colleague know about your goal to apply a particular engagement principle and check in periodically to discuss your progress or challenges.
  • Hire a coach. Invest in your own growth and development. Get the support you deserve when it comes to creating new habits that allow you to be more effective.

Highly successful people don’t know more than you. They’ve figured out how to effectively apply the simple principles they already know.

Knowledge is no longer power—application is the new power. Here’s to you becoming more successful by applying simple engagement principles in your life and work.

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E-couragement: Make Friends With the 4-Letter Word

January 18, 2016

FearThe 4-letter F word has too much power. It gets too much credit—too much attention.

The word? F-E-A-R.

We let it prevent us from living fully. We blame it for remaining stuck in a job, relationship, or place that we’ve outgrown. It’s the perfect excuse for not achieving our dreams.

I often hear people refer to their personal battle with fear.

If you have taken fear on as an opponent, be warned:

It’s the reigning heavyweight champion of the world with nothing to prove…

Fear doesn’t fight back in order to defeat you.

It doesn’t need to…

What it wants more than anything is to paralyze … stall… and immobilize you.

Fear has one move: project an imaginary force field around your comfort zone… in hopes to trap you there. Forever.

Stop making fear your enemy…

Instead, make it your friend.

Invite it to sit down. Look it in the eye and have a real conversation. If you are willing to ask it questions, fear can tell you more about yourself than you ever imagined.

Diffuse the illusion of fear and you’re free to take action.

Courageous action takes you outside the safety of your comfort zone so the adventure you’ve been sent here for can continue to unfold.

Fear is a misunderstood bully. There’s no need to fight it. It’s merely doing what it feels is best for you. Show compassion towards it. Then, tip your hat, thank it, and keep moving towards your divine destination that’s been patiently waiting for you.

When will you sit down and have a chat with your fear?

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