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The Success Paradox

There is a pervasive belief in business that success and stress go hand in hand; that stress is just part of the game of business when you are playing to win.  The bad news is that stress has an extremely detrimental effect on performance.

The fact is people perform at their best when they are in a relaxed state of mind. Great performers will tell you this. “The Zone” is a well-known phenomenon in the world of sports. It’s an experience of being in “flow” where you are so present life occurs differently. There is no feeling of pressure or stress in this state.

New thoughts and ideas come to mind in a relaxed state of mind.  Many people talk about being in the shower or going for a walk or on vacation and having a “eureka” moment where a new solution or idea came to mind, seemingly out of nowhere.

People are better able to listen and communicate when they are in a relaxed state of mind.  I am sure you have had the experience of attempting to speak with someone who is stressed and feeling like they are not listening at all.

You may be thinking, how can I have a relaxed state of mind with so much going on?  An innocent misunderstanding lies at the heart of this pervasive belief that stress and success are linked. The misunderstanding is that outside events or circumstances cause our stress or other experiences (sadness, anger, happiness, etc.).

In truth, at any moment we are only able to experience our thinking. In other words we feel our thinking we are not feeling what’s happening (events and circumstances).

Don’t take my word for it. Think about the last time you were in a relaxed state of mind. How did the world seem to you?  In a relaxed state of mind, life looks like it’s filled with opportunities. Conversely, when you are in a stressed state of mind, life looks like one problem after another.

If you are wondering how to achieve a relaxed state of mind I’ve got great news for you. A relaxed state of mind is our natural state. What creates stress, worry, etc. is thought. But this isn’t about learning to think something different, i.e. positive thinking. Not at all.  That will only make matters worse.

Thought in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is that we mistake thought for reality. We get caught up in the thoughts and don’t realize that they become the lens that we view life through. Thoughts are transient energy that will change from moment to moment if we don’t engage with them. In other words, if we don’t give them any weight or significance they disappear.

In the current paradigm, the best we can hope for is to learn ways to cope with or manage stress. What if instead, stress was completely optional? When you truly understand how the mind works and the nature of human being you are able to navigate through any circumstance with ease, without stress or any other negative emotion holding you back.

Stress or a worried state of mind comes from believing your thoughts and misattributing the cause of your feelings to outside circumstances. When you have no distinction between thoughts and reality it leads to confusion that you then experience as stress, anger, worry, etc. When you don’t see your relationship to your thoughts as the source of your upset it looks like the outside world is causing your feelings.

Once you see thought for what it is, transient energy passing through your brain and understand that nothing outside of you can make you feel anything, it returns you to your natural state of peace and ease. You don’t have to worry about how you are feeling or what you are thinking because you know it will pass.

It’s like clouds in the sky. When clouds cover the sun you don’t panic because you know the clouds will pass and you will see the sun again. You know the sun never left. It was always there. That’s how your natural state is. It is always peaceful and at ease. When we believe a thought and confuse it with reality our natural state gets covered for a time. Don’t worry… it will pass.

Success Without Stress?

What if stress, pressure and overwhelm are not required for a successful life?

In our society we have come to believe that stress, pressure, overwhelm, etc. come with life, especially if you want to be successful.  Virtually every waking moment of life we are in survival mode, (also known as “Flight or Fight” mode), rushing, worrying, stressed, trying to keep everyone happy or avoiding disappointing anyone in hopes that someday we’ll get our shit together and it will be better.

In the meantime, days, weeks, months even years go by without any relief because someday never comes. You look around and see everyone seems to be in the same situation so it becomes normalized and accepted as just the way it is. We look for strategies to cope with stress, pressure and overwhelm as if they are reality.

Life doesn’t have to be this way. In fact it is possible to eliminate stress, pressure, frustration, overwhelm, etc. as a problem.  When you understand that stress, pressure, overwhelm and similar emotions are created in our imagination, or better said are the result of our thinking rather than a RESULT of events or situations.

Think about it, you can’t point to stress as a “thing” in the world.  It’s a concept not a thing. Any event you believe to be the cause of your stress can be experienced a different way.  For example, a job promotion may be experienced as exciting or stressful. Same event; different experiences. What’s the common denominator? Thinking! We feel/experience our thinking 100% of the time. 

This is extremely good news because thinking changes moment to moment like a cloud on a windy day and you don’t have to do anything. Trying to think positively is not required; trying to alter your experience or feeling is not required.  All that’s needed is an understanding that thoughts are NOT reality. Thoughts are merely energy passing through your brain and when left alone they will pass through and new thoughts will arise.

Our natural state is well-being – peace, joy and freedom. The “you” that came before thinking is within you.  You were born with it – innate well-being.  When you don’t get caught up in believing your thinking and you remember that thoughts are not reality – you have instant access to peace, joy and freedom.

That beats stress, pressure and overwhelm any day.

Do you ever feel like an imposter?

If so, you are not alone. Lots and lots of people have what’s known as The Imposter Syndrome; a fear that you are not as good as other people think you are.

There was a time when I was terrified that the rug would get pulled out from under me and I would be exposed as a fraud.  I had such low self esteem I couldn’t even accept a compliment without saying something derogatory about myself.  Despite my outward success my internal conversation (my story) was that I wasn’t good enough and no matter how many achievements I had, it was never enough.

Thankfully, with some help I discovered that my beliefs weren’t real and I could choose a different story. Every day I work with clients who are dealing with the same fears and together we are able to deconstruct the Imposter Syndrome and invent a new reality free from fear and anxiety.

Recently I was interviewed by Sharon Frame, Founder of LeadHERship and Lead From Love, about the Imposter Syndrome. We discussed some tips and strategies for dealing with it effectively. Here is the video of our conversation.

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A Framework for Providing and Inspiring Leadership

What if Leadership is not a configuration of the “right” qualities but instead a perspective that one views the world through? There are numerous interpretations of what makes a good leader. In fact, there are just as many interpretations of the definition of good leadership. Don’t believe me? Just Google either term and see how many results you get.

Consider that what’s crucial about leadership is how it “shows up” in reality. In other words, where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Leadership as a concept or description of qualities is not all that valuable. However, Leadership “on the court,” in the moment it’s needed is what counts.

This article will outline a framework for leadership that gives one access to providing and inspiring leadership in the moment it is needed. The four elements that make up this framework are Integrity, 100% Responsibility, Focusing on What Works and Creating the Future.

 Integrity

 “Without integrity, nothing works.” ~ Werner Erhard

Integrity is a term that most people equate with honesty and morality and it is seen as a “fixed” state, i.e., either you have integrity or you don’t. What if instead integrity had more to do with honoring your word? Said another way, to have integrity means that you “walk your talk,” i.e., your words and your deeds (actions) match.

 Effective leaders are those who do what they say by when they said it would be done and if they fail to do so, they acknowledge the broken promise and deal with the impact of the failure on others as well as re-promise when appropriate. Effective leaders do not take their words for granted. They recognize that if they dishonor their word they will lose the respect of others as well as their self-respect.

 Consider each time you break a promise or act inconsistent with who you say you are, you are diminished in your own eyes and in the eyes of others unless you acknowledge the break in integrity and deal with the impact of your broken promise.

 100% Responsibility

“Take your life into your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: No one to Blame.” ~ Erica Jong

The concept of cause and effect is an illusion. There is always more to the story than we know. If a boulder rolls down a hill and crashes into a fence, one could say the boulder caused the broken fence. But what made the boulder roll? If someone pushed it, are they the cause of the broken fence? But what if someone pushed them into the boulder? There is always something that came before.

 Effective leaders do not look for who is to blame. They own their results, all of them, the good, the bad and the ugly. Effective leaders have the perspective that they are 100% responsible for everything in their lives, not because it is true but because it enables them to look for ways to alter their actions to create different results.

 For example, if you ask an employee or colleague to perform a task and he or she agrees to do it, then you explain how you want it done and he or she does it incorrectly one option is to blame him or her for not listening or being stubborn or any of a number of reasons. Another option if you are being 100% responsible is to ask yourself, “What was missing from my explanation that led to that result?”

 Being 100% responsible keeps you in the game of continuing to learn and grow and empowering yourself to positively impact the results.

 Focusing on What Works

“We have reached the end of problem solving as a mode of inquiry capable of inspiring, mobilizing and sustaining human system change.” ~ Dr. David Cooperrider

At any given moment you have a choice of what to focus on: what’s working or what’s not working.  Most people spend the vast majority of time and energy focusing on what doesn’t work and trying to fix it.  Now this might elicit the response, “Of course I do that’s how to improve”.

Focusing on what doesn’t work actually slows down growth and development.  It can keep you stuck and prevent you from moving forward.  The bottom line is that the way we have been trained to think about change has been wrong.

It is not that you should ignore what doesn’t work but be honest, how long have you been working on it?  For most of us it has been years of trying to improve the same thing only to see incremental progress.

Focusing on what works is another way to view life.  Think about it, if you want to be rich, you would not study poor people.  If you want to be thin, you would not study overweight people.  Success is not found by studying failure and doing the opposite.  Success has a texture and depth all its own.

Effective leaders know that discovering what works and doing more of it leads to more success. Focusing on what works energizes and enlivens people unleashing their natural creativity and enthusiasm.

Creating the Future

 “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Effective leadership is predicated on the notion that the future is ours to create. In fact, one could say that a leader is someone who makes an unpredictable future come true. Great leaders understand that the future only exists in language. In other words, there is no future in reality because we are always in the present moment.

A leader creates the future they want by declaring how it is going to go then taking actions consistent with their declaration. They don’t look at the present situation and try to fix it. Instead they ask, “Given this situation, what do I want to create?”

 Leaders realize that there are no barriers to what they want only design problems to figure out and new ways of thinking to invent. The greatest of leaders are willing to stand for something that seems impossible and trust that those around them will rise to the level needed to make it become a reality.

President John F. Kennedy did just that with the space program. He declared the United States would put a man on the moon within the decade. He made the declaration well before the technology was invented to make it happen. His declaration caused the scientists to think differently and figure out how to resolve many problems that never existed before. Landing a man on the moon was accomplished in eight years.

Conclusion

Each of these elements on their own will positively impact your results and your effectiveness as a leader however when these four elements are taken together you will have a breakthrough in your ability to inspire and provide leadership leading to unprecedented results that exceed your expectations.

Going for what you want is disruptive

I know this may sound like something everyone knows. However, in my experience people do not realize that their life is currently set up or designed for the results they have. If you want a different result, YOU MUST CHANGE the way your life is currently structured. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. That’s the definition of insanity.

Here is an example; one of my closest friends was very overweight for her entire life. I am not talking slightly overweight; she was well over 100 pounds over weight. She tried lots or things to lose weight but nothing ever stuck until one day at age 45 she was rushed to the hospital with a life threatening issue and she decided to handle her weight problem once and for all.

How you ask? She turned her life upside down. She became an avid bike rider, she completely overhauled her eating and she gave up her sedentary lifestyle. She has organized her life around living healthy. She not only lost all the excess weight but she has kept it off for many years. She REALLY wanted the results in her life to change. She wasn’t being mamby-pamby about it.

It took completely disrupting the way her life was structured to cause the results to change. Most people are not willing to do that for their goals. They try to fit things in without investigating how the current structure is perpetuating the problem. They take tentative actions that quickly fall by the wayside because their life is not designed for the outcome they say they want.

If you are not willing to disrupt your life, chances are you won’t get the new results you are looking for or be able to sustain them.

How do you discover what results your life is structured for? One easy way is to look at your calendar. What are you spending your time on? Is it the “old outcome” or the “new goal”. If you have a goal to increase your revenue, for example, look at your calendar or your actions and see how much time are you actually spending on revenue producing activity.

There is no mystery to results. What you spend time and energy on grows. Most of the time we are blind to the things that get in the way because most of the time it is our thinking that causes the problem. Your thinking is the first thing that needs to get disrupted in order to achieve new results.

If you want to explore your thinking, uncover the barriers to achieving your next level of success and experience a powerful coaching session, contact me today.

Do you have Business Card Build-Up Syndrome?

Do you have business card build up syndrome? A stack of business cards piled on your desk that you have collected at various networking events and now have no idea what to do with them.  Should you call, add them to your list, send them an email??? What’s the “right” thing to do?

A big cause of the business card build up syndrome is making one or all of the three biggest networking mistakes:

1.  Failure to plan

Most business people attend events to be seen or to make contacts but don’t make a plan of what they want to achieve at the networking event. As a result people have haphazard conversations that don’t lead anywhere.  By taking time prior to the event to establish a plan of action you will have focused, intentional conversations that lead to appointments with people after the event is over.

2.  Incorrectly answering the question, “What do you do?”

The most common networking mistake is to answer the question, “What do you do?” with your title or industry, e.g., Financial Planner, IT Consultant, Banker, Lawyer, etc.  The moment you state your title (unless your title is unique like Zoo Keeper or Astronaut) you have lost the listening of the person you are speaking to. They already know ten people who do what you do. Now, instead of listening, they are politely nodding and smiling wondering how to move to the next person.

Instead of using your title to answer the question say something about what you actually do and for whom. “I help people to achieve audacious goals by giving them access to a whole new level of power and performance,” is what I say when people ask me what I do.

3.  Talk too much

Listening is the most important networking skill there is. Not just any kind of listening; Conscious Listening is what’s needed. You have to listen to serve. Most people listen to reply or to have the right answer rather than to understand and learn.  Mastering your ability to listen to serve or listen for what’s needed will significantly increase the number of follow up appointments you obtain. The people you meet will be eagerly awaiting your call because you will have a really good reason to call them.

To learn how to avoid these mistakes PLUS find out a proven strategy for getting business or referrals from your follow up appointment, join me for my workshop on March 20 at the Business in the Raw: Your Success Uncovered event.

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Real Change is Hard

I think of myself as an open-minded, flexible and change-friendly kind of girl. I have had many shifts and changes to deal with in my life and my business, some of them wanted and some not so much.  I tend to look at the bright side, pull myself up by my bootstraps, dive in head first, etc. etc. etc.  All the “right” stuff.

Right now I am engaged in a process of re-inventing my business, which is truly what I want. I have made this choice eagerly and freely. After being in business for ten years I did some honest reflection, made some decisions and powerfully created a new future for my business. I cannot stress enough how much I want this change. I REALLY WANT THIS CHANGE.

And yet… I keep finding myself taking actions consistent with my old way of doing things, quite unconsciously. There are so many new actions to take and old actions to stop in order to make this change a reality however I mostly keep doing the old actions.

One thing I noticed that has been extremely helpful to realize is that even though I did a lot of thinking about my new future in the creation of it, I did not do sufficient thinking regarding the implementation of it; the day-today, moment-to-moment, on-the-court impact of it.

This past weekend I spent several hours in conversation with my husband looking to discern what the hell is going on with me that I am not in action, blazing a trail to my new future. Through this in depth conversation I realized that I was very attached to the things I “know to do” that are from the past. I mean really attached. Arguing for keeping doing them even though the actions are not producing the desired result.

It was such a breakthrough to see the “in-the-box” thinking I was engaged in and the limits I had placed on my new future without even knowing I did it. The blank slate I was in front of was so intimidating that I began filling it with things I knew to do rather than invent new things to do. Now, I am freed up to engage in inventing actions to bring my new future into existence, and questioning my current actions (including blogging) to make sure they are truly consistent with my new future. It’s kind of hard even though I really want this change.

All of this started me thinking about the many calls I have received over the years from people telling me that their employees resist change and how difficult it is to deal with. It made me wonder if it is really resistance or if it is something else. Something like confusion or a lack of clarity about what new actions to take and maybe they need help thinking through the day-to-day impact of the change. Perhaps like me, they are clinging to old actions to cover up the fear of the unknown and are arguing for the old way in order to feel in control. Whatever it is, I have a new level of compassion for people undergoing change.

Knowledge is NOT Power

What if you access to greater performance or better results is not located in anything that you know? What if what you know is actually limiting your capacity to perform?

You have the ability to go beyond what you think is possible but you can’t get there by knowledge alone. Case in point; everyone knows how to lose weight; eat less, exercise more. The knowledge of how to lose weight makes little if any difference for the vast majority of people. Obesity is an epidemic in this country. There are more than 16,000 books on losing weight on Amazon alone. Clearly there is a plethora of knowledge on the subject. The access to changing your results in the area of weight loss (or anything for that matter) is not more knowledge.

Think about an area in your life where you want different results. I am willing to bet that you know exactly what you need to do to change it. You know you need to eat better. You know you need to make more calls. You know you should call your mom more often. You know you need to exercise more. You know you should be more attentive to your partner. You know, you know, you know, you know, you know, you know, you know. And yet, you don’t do it.  All the “knowing” makes no damn difference. None, nada, zero.

This is not an individual phenomenon. This is a widespread occurrence. It is not something you can just explain away by individual characteristics, i.e., I am not disciplined enough, I need to focus more, etc. These are just more examples of stuff that you know that make no difference.

What if it is really about something else that you can’t see; a blind spot if you will?  What if you are being driven by something that you are unaware of and you are not even aware that you are unaware?

Discovering this blind spot that’s holding you back will give you actionable access to making a real on-the-court difference in your performance and your results. It won’t just be more knowledge instead it will be access to a whole new world of power and performance.

People always do things that make sense to them. So if you want a different result and you are not taking the actions necessary, consider that there is a reason that makes perfect sense but it is nearly impossible for you to see on your own. Let me help you. I am highly trained in this arena and I promise you results, guaranteed.

Schedule a strategy session today so that you can find out what it is going to take to dramatically impact your performance once and for all. Seriously, do it NOW!

What Every Manager Should Know About Effective Workplace Communication

The first thing you should know if you want to bring out the best in people is your people are people; they are not things. This may sound silly to say given it’s obvious however check yourself out. How often do you relate to the people you work with as the decisions you’ve made about them – lazy, reliable, cynical, resistant to change, outstanding, stubborn, etc., instead of as dynamic beings? You have an experience of the person from the past that led you to a conclusion and now that person is that way. That’s relating to them as a thing. They are now stuck in the box of your interpretations and most everything they do is interpreted through your description of who they are. In your world, they are lazy, or they are cynical.

Even a positive label can leave people feeling “thingified.” For example, Sally (not her real name) was considered a superstar at her office, reliable, the “go to” person. Sally appreciated the accolades; however, she was often left to fend for herself without support because everyone thought, “Sally can handle it.” When she requested help on her projects it was not given the priority because her manager knew she would come through. This treatment of Sally left her feeling not known or heard. Ultimately, it led to her seeking employment elsewhere and her manager and employer scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.

Making assessments of people and situations is natural and I am not suggesting you stop doing it. You couldn’t even if you tried. What I am recommending is that you pay attention to the assessments you make, get curious about how they influence your interactions with people and, perhaps most importantly, question their validity often. Situations change and the person’s needs and capacities change with them.

Remember your assessments are just that, your assessments. They are not the truth. They are the way you have connected the dots. Someone with a different history and perspective can look at the same set of facts and come up with a totally different assessment of the situation. It is not that that one of you is right and the other is wrong it is just that assessments are born out of a person’s “back-story.”

To bring out the best in people you must be present to who they are right now, in this moment. Take the time and energy to get to know more than your label. Get curious about the conditions that lead to their success, the things that light a fire in their belly and what they need to be their best. And remember, once you’ve reached those conclusions, keep testing them out. Understanding someone is not a “one stop shopping” experience. People change. They need different things in different situations. This way of interacting with your team will make them want to give their best and look for more ways to contribute. It might also get you a waiting list of people who want the opportunity to come work for you. Now that’s a nice problem to have.

Want to learn more? Contact me for a free strategy session.

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