Does your phone serve you or do you serve it?

November 28, 2016

phone-use

“I deleted my work email account from my phone.”

An executive coaching client was filling me in on his recent promotion. Navigating the learning curve involved an overabundance of information. The obligations of his new responsibility threatened to invade every aspect of his life.

I admired Steve’s candor:

“I was constantly drawn to work emails at home. Even though none were an emergency, I ended up distracted from my family and lying awake at night. So… I deleted it.”

Brilliant!

Steve did what so many of us should do—exercise control over at-home work distractions.

Life/work balance is not possible without boundaries.

Don’t get me wrong: Technology isn’t the problem. Our misuse of it is.

Phones are amazing tools to connect us with anyone around the world at any time. The question is: Are we utilizing them when we should be connecting with the person right in front of us?

Self check-in:

  • How is your use of technology getting in the way of your life/work balance?
  • What is one healthy boundary you can set this week to prevent your device from becoming divisive?

 

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Give ‘em Space

November 14, 2016

give-em-space-black

What’s all that mess?

This exact blog with:

No space.

No room.

No…pause.

Difficult to read isn’t it?

We don’t write that way. It’s more important that people understand our message than it is to squeeze the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of space.

The same rule applies when we speak.

So why, when speaking in front of a group, do we often spew words as quickly as we can?

No space.

No room.

No…pause.

Dousing an audience with words, data, and slides rarely results in a memorable message that leads to purposeful action.

Speaking at a meeting is both an honor and a responsibility. Give your words space to breathe. Give your key phrases room to impact. Embrace the power of pause.

If you want to be heard…better yet, be understood… give ‘em space.

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They Don’t Hate You. They’re Busy.

October 31, 2016

they-dont-hate-you

When your mind has excess time to ponder a circumstance, your thoughts can become crazy and destructive.

This is most evident when you’re waiting to hear back from a potential client, a job interview, or a date.*

As time passes and you don’t hear a response, irrational voices begin to hold your mind hostage:

  • “I’ve emailed them three times, they must think my proposal is worthless and way overpriced.”
  • “They said they’d get back to me last week with their final decision. They must have selected someone else.”
  • “They never returned my last 2 voicemails. I’m way out of my league. I’m going to stop bothering them.”

Stay the course and you’ll uncover that your negative conclusions are rarely true. In actuality, people are just like you: Busy, distracted, and overwhelmed.

Be patiently persistent. Keep following up. Have faith.

They don’t hate you. They’re busy.

*DISCLAIMER: There is an exception to every rule. If you have indeed waited an extended period of time to hear back from a potential date or friend request…chances are they do hate you…and they’re not busy.

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E-couragement: Cure the Curse of Knowledge

October 17, 2016

cure-the-curse-of-knowledgeAnswers.

They’re what got you here and what can prevent you from moving forward.

As a child, did you like the know-it-all? As an adult, your response is probably the same.

The belief that you must always have an answer morphs into the dreaded curse of knowledge.

Fortunately, there is a cure.

Questions.

It takes confidence to stop supplying answers and start seeking them.

Developing the skill to ask good questions takes persistence and practice. The four parts of asking a skillfully crafted question involve:

  • Words – Most questions elicit a simple “yes/no” answer. Instead, use questions that provoke dialogue to gain understanding of what others think. To accomplish this, begin your question with words or phrases such as, “What…” “Why…” “Tell me about…” or “Help me understand…”
  • Tone – The tone you choose creates the energy behind your words. Voice tone determines whether you sound judgmental or curious. Select the proper tone of voice so others feel safe bringing their thoughts/ideas to you.
  • Gestures – Facial gestures and body language are visual reinforcements of your intent. Your face communicates, “You bore me” as easily as it states, “I’m interested in what you think.” If you want people to be open and honest with you, be sure your face gives them permission.
  • Silence – This can be the toughest part. If you really want to hear what others have to say, be patient and wait… wait… wait. How long? Until they’re ready to speak. Resist the temptation to jump in and save them. The best way to honor someone after asking a question is to sit in the silence with them. It’s only awkward if you’re awkward.

Everyone has answers. Few people use well-crafted questions as a way to effectively listen and learn from others—allowing them to share their knowledge and expand yours.

Are you ready to differentiate yourself in your next conversation?

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E-couragement: Two Lies That Hijack Your Happiness

October 3, 2016

liesThey’re born as thoughts.

They mature into beliefs.

Fully grown, they have the power to influence our attitude and behavior.

Lies.

Two of the most prevalent lies that trap us are the conditional proclamations structured in the form of:

“If/then” and “When/then”

  • If I was the boss, then things would improve around here.”
  • When I get a bigger house, then I’ll feel successful.”

Here’s how these lies work: ‘if’ and ‘when’ are in the future. We, however, exist in the now. Believing these lies cause us to live in a constant state of deferred happiness.

There will never be a golden day or a magical circumstance that has the power to make us happy. It is simply a choice offered to us in the current moment.

Are you choosing the truth of now our the lies of later?

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E-couragement: What’s Your Sauce Policy?

September 19, 2016

sauce policyThe notice on the drive-through window was proudly displayed:

“Sauce Policy”

It informs customers of how many complimentary sauces they’re eligible for based upon a particular order. Use more than the allotted sauce stipend? You’re on the hook for $.30 a pop.

I’m not Lovin’ it.

What sounds good in the boardroom doesn’t always resonate with customers. Business decisions that focus on policy over people are costly in the long run.

Sauce policies are more common than we might think. They’re often camouflaged with code words and cause customers to feel alienated when:

  • Rules are enforced without considering their point of view
  • Policies designed to protect the company make them feel like a thief or liar
  • Regulations add unnecessary steps and make it difficult to do business

What’s your organization’s sauce policy? Consider revising it to give your customers what they want and deserve—a memorable experience.

That’s a good business decision.

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E-couragement: Flames Don’t Fuel a Fire

September 7, 2016

FireDuring our stay in Asheville, NC, I faced a unique challenge:  Building a fire.

Not a push-button gas fire, but an authentic, kindling-and-matches, singe-your-arm hair fire.

Not an easy task for someone who flunked Cub Scouts after never earning a single badge.

Alas… when on your honeymoon, and romance is on the line…anything is possible.

After meticulously selecting logs, strategically stacking them, and diligently lighting handfuls of dry twigs and scraps of newspaper, I learned a key lesson:

A successful fire must have a base of hot coals.

All these years I believed that flames fuel the fire.

Nope.

Flames are a bi-product. The awe-inspiring dance of the blue and orange flames is short lived without the ongoing support of red-hot coals.

Flames don’t fuel the fire – coals do.

Contrary to popular opinion, engaging leaders are not the flames, they are the coals.

Like coals they operate at the base level, out of the spotlight. They enable their employees, the flames, to thrive and get the attention they deserve.

In what ways do you deliver the energizing foundation required for your employees to thrive?

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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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