The Next Evolutionary Leap

•March 16, 2013 • Leave a Comment

A fabulous new book, Super Brain, by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Rudy Tanzi (Genetics and Anti-aging Research at Harvard) is such a great read. It may be a slow read in some places because it touches on areas that make one stop and think. For example, the authors encourage you to be in charge of your brain and not allow the brain to be in charge of you. You control your brain, who then is who is ‘you‘? You is consciousness and that is beyond the brain… I know it’s confusing but nevertheless, you must read the book, this blog post is mainly to share about the intuitive brain.

Of the four areas of the brain, Instinctive, Intellectual, Emotional and Intuitive, I found the Intuitive to be the most interesting and below are some tips on using the intuitive brain to become part of the next evolutionary leap:

  • Don’t promote conflict in any area of your life.
  • Make peace when you can. When you can’t walk away.
  • Value compassion.
  • Choose empathy (incidentally the highest of the emotional intelligence qualities) over blame or derision.
  • Try not to always feel that you are right.
  • Make a friend who is the opposite of you.
  • Be generous of spirit.
  • Wean yourself off materialism in favor of inner fulfillment.
  • Perform at least one act of service every day – there is always something you can give.
  • Show genuine concern when someone else is in trouble.
  • Don’t ignore signs of unhappiness.
  • Oppose us-versus-them thinking.
  • If you are in business, practice capitalism with a conscious, giving ethical concerns as much weight as profits.

These are not just ideals, with everything we do and we say we change the world. There are no idle thoughts, every thought matters. When your own experiences become richer, the universe gets better at serving its purpose which is to foster life and the experiences that life brings. With each thought you change the world.

Survive or Thrive?

•October 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

We’ve often heard the phrase: Change is inevitable but growth is optional, choose wisely. Then I read a quote by Edward Deming this week that started me thinking: “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”  That’s pretty obvious when we think about  personal lives, our savings accounts, our health and even our relationships. We obviously make the choice to survive and when we make the choice then to  thrive what’s needed?

The first thing that comes to mind is the intention and commitment to do so. Then defining what thriving looks like – now, tomorrow, ten years from now. Next what support, resources and skills do you need in order to make it happen…then putting together a plan to make it a reality. Today almost no one needs to survive alone, even on The Amazing Race they have partners! Surrounding yourself with the right partners (a team): a coach, a financial adviser, a workout buddy, a spiritual adviser, social partners, a community of like-minded individuals, family and meaningful work are all apart of this thriving process.

Over the past twenty-five years even the business world has seen the advantages of teamwork. In the 1980s the word was management. The idea was that a manager was needed to create consistency (for keeping standards from slipping). Yes you are a manager of your own life and you need to define your own standards. In the 1990s the key concept was leadership by the individual. Organizations saw a leader was needed because everything was changing so quickly. Today, they are still changing quickly.Now in the 2000s the idea is team leadership. Why? Because leading an organization has become so complex and multifaceted, the only way to make progress is to develop a team of leaders.

Why not take advantage of the same approach for yourself? After all you are You, Inc. There are many facets to your life, health, body, home, career, finances, relationships and community. You don’t have to be an expert in all areas, you just have to accept responsibility for defining your direction and building the team. Whether its life or business this is true: A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others (Norman S. Hidle). When you build a team of experts you become a unit that works together for the common goal. That goal may be you and your success or it may be the success of a charity or a for-profit business. The team works together.

This post would not be complete if I didn’t mention how important communication is to your success. You must communicate with yourself and your team regularly.Don’t stick your head in the sand. The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion it has taken place. Make sure everyone knows where the bus is headed. Don’t make assumptions, listen, ask questions and clarify. Make sure what you intended to communicate was indeed what was heard. Watch that the expectations are clearly defined and communicated accurately. Watch the messages you give to yourself, are you building yourself up by the words that go through your mind or are you tearing yourself down?

Ask the tough questions. I firmly believe the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of the questions we ask ourselves and each other. From those questions come the clarity needed to set the direction of our lives.

 

The Real Connector

•August 31, 2012 • 1 Comment

Humans have the incredible ability to hear what they have subconsciously decided to hear. Just like you are able to filter out background noise – think air conditioner fan or the television noises while you’re on the computer – the fact is we filter. Think about how you tuned your Mom out when she repeatedly told you to do whatever. We also filter based on our beliefs, past experiences, preferences, and positions.

Rather than deeply listening to another person we are processing and filtering. Think of the evidence room at the FBI, as we hear the other person speaking, we are busy searching our own mental database (our evidence room) to agree, disagree, reposition, judging or simply waiting to talk. Any of which means we are no longer listening and we most certainly are not connecting. Yes, I know you truly believe you are a master at multitasking, but studies show no one is a master at multitasking.

It’s estimated that 50% of what is said in the workplace is not what is heard. You may think the other person is at fault, but we all must assume responsibility for our communication. You are responsible for how your communication is received and for how you receive from others. We are taught to speak as children but most of us have not been blessed with training in the art of listening. I suggest you make a true effort to put all your mind-voices to rest and really tune into the person speaking to you. Listen from an understanding-position not a position designed to agree, disagree or interrogate. Listening deeply makes the other person feel valued. It also stimulates curiosity on your part, from which will come questions to engage them in conversation thereby assisting you to understand their perspective or see the situation through their eyes. This leads to connection.

Conversations are two-way endeavors. Conversations are relationship builders. Conversations are trust builders and sales tools but only if you listen totally and deeply. People grow from connection; businesses grow from connection, one conversation at a time. That’s why God gave us two hears and one mouth; stop talking and listen. Listening is the real connector.

What’s Left Out of the Plan?

•June 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

In watching this TED talk by Tom Wujec, it once again confirms how often we don’t check our hidden assumptions before forging ahead with ‘our plan’. THEN when our plan doesn’t work, we not only have a crisis on our hands, but NOW we go back and look at the assumptions we began with. We’ve all heard that ‘those who fail to plan, plan to fail.’ What if we aren’t taking the pre-planning deep enough? What would be the benefit of thinking through all the dynamics, the desired outcome and our assumptions about that outcome?

See the video here:

The Perils of Perfectionism

•February 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Perfectionism, a learned behavior, although not considered to be a positive trait is one that brings us rewards. These rewards may compensate for a sense of inadequacy, a need for approval, a need to gain control, a need for immediate reward or for feeling depressed.  The reward, however, is short-lived, because in the end, recognition, compliments, approval or any external reward (such as rearranging the furniture or buying a new dress) still won’t be enough.

Many of us have a tendency to look at what needs to be better rather than valuing and appreciating what is already good. Perfectionism therefore turns into procrastination because we can’t get started until we think we can do it perfectly. We justify this by saying we don’t know how, or we need to think about it or we don’t have time…anything to keep us away from being decisive, productive and in the present moment.

In addition to slowing down productivity, perfectionism can also:

  • Affect your health due to the stress that accompanies having to be perfect
  • Destroy the spontaneity that brings excitement to life
  • Stop you from taking a risk that may propel you to the next level
  • Decrease intimacy and put stress on relationships
  • Stop you from making decisions afraid they won’t be perfect and therefore keeping you stuck
  • Make others afraid to be themselves
  • Make you afraid to be yourself
  • Keeps you reaching for the next thing and never being content

Be aware perfectionism is not the real problem. It’s a coping strategy you use to manage your inner unmet needs and one of its causes is low serotonin. Low serotonin may make it difficult to concentrate and can further complicate matters because it often manifests as a lack of confidence, which you may try to compensate for by striving to be perfect. Seeing your doctor and having a blood test can measure your serotonin level.  Not sure what unmet needs are lurking beneath your behavior…no worries, a coach can give you a simple assessment, which after a few minutes of reflection and meaningful conversation could set you on the right path. Feeling negative? Making the decision to take charge of your thoughts; while not easy, with enough practice can be done. This is vitally important because not only do others not like being around a negative person, negativity actually lowers serotonin levels which leads to more negativity, more depression and more perfectionism.

If you can relate to even one of these points, I encourage you take charge of your mind, your behaviors and your attitude soon – no procrastinating. There will never be a more perfect time than now.

Defining the Team in Teamwork

•February 22, 2012 • 1 Comment

We’d all like to believe we can do it on our own, be in charge, get it right, or not have to ask for help but that is rarely the case. Connecting and working with others means the end result will be far more exceptional than what we could have delivered solo. In addition, we grow as people by being on a team, both them and us. We learn from them and they from us.

If you are responsible for building or leading a team, how do you choose who serves on that team?  In thinking about who’s right for the team, what do you look for?

Here are the things I believe define a good fit:

  • Values – should be shared by the individual, the organization and the team members. Values are the foundation from which the policies, procedures, conduct and culture originate. Team values such as integrity, respect and accountability build a sense of unity and serve to build the all-important trust. Values must align with purpose, mission and actions from the top down. You can’t work well with a company or colleagues who don’t share your values. If you’re unclear on your values, get a coach.
  • Attitude – attitudes are highly contagious in a team environment, that’s why there is no room for a bad attitude. Staying positive and holding each other accountable for this positivity is critical – no gossiping and no negativity.
  • Skills – are often the focus when a person is being interviewed for a new position, but I maintain that values and attitude are as or more important than skills. Skills can be learned, values are ingrained in us from an early age and are actually apart of our very being. Attitude is a mental mind-set, a way of looking at the world and our place in that world. If one is always justifying, making excuses, complaining, staying behind the desk or can’t embrace change when change is needed, is that someone you want to spend time with? When the going gets tough, and it will, will they have your back?
  • Leadership – the team has a leader who must model the values, attitude and performance necessary for the desired outcomes.  Most likely every team member also leads another team of direct reports. Each and every leader must lead not just manage, walk the talk, set the proper example, make sure his or her people have what they need to do the job, know what the expectations are, the priorities are and then offer them respectful and timely feedback on a regular basis.
  • Inside and outside the box – choose team members who can function well in both. Leaders and team members must be willing to get outside the box to see the big picture, make changes, take risks and stay current with today’s challenges. Yet there are times when you want to stay inside your box, be focused and clear in order to get the job done. A good balance is needed and usually people are far more comfortable with one than the other.
  • Cross training – is the person able to take over for other team members when necessary? Are they willing to learn all aspects of a project not only to understand it better but to be able to rotate, or move up when necessary? I’m not saying an engineer needs to take over for a doctor, but within the same range of specialty can they rotate and support?  Perhaps the hardest jump within an organization is to move from individual contributor to manager. Cross training, rotating, learning management skills, taking on leadership roles, even making lateral moves within the company is great experience and makes one a more valuable team player. When you choose someone for your team, what cross training do they bring with the table?
  • Success mind-set – does this person strategize and plan for success yet still address the ‘what-ifs’ before they occur? What evidence will support this? The Blue Angels have a saying, “Procedures are written in blood” and rightly so with the risks they take, nose-to-nose at 1000 mph and only inches apart. They understand that failure is not an option. As the old saying goes, are you failing to plan or planning to fail? I hope neither, I hope you are planning to succeed!
  • Maintenance –  balance and maintenance are critically important. Having a fully engaged physical body, a mentally alert mind and a healthy emotional intelligence means one must take breaks, sleep well, eat good food for energy and exercise. In addition one benefits from continued learning. Taking time to read, study and research your areas of interest will not only stimulate your mind, but make you a  more interesting person. A good life also means having love and meaning, whether that’s through family, faith, animals, or community and friends. Meaning goes above and beyond work regardless of how much you might love that work. Meaning ties back into values. Whether you like it or not you do bring the whole person to the workplace so keeping the whole, whole is important. And having a team you enjoy greeting each day is a definite plus.

If you’re on a team, what are your responsibilities to that team and to your organization? How do you know you can trust the other team members? How do they know they can trust you? How do you support your team? What do you need from them? Does the team come first in your mind? What is your mind set, your attitude? Do you have meaning in your life? If you were choosing a new team, what would you look for? Giving some thought to these questions now will help you get in touch with what you see as important and may even help you see your team members through new eyes.

The Who, Why and How of Getting Your What

•January 12, 2012 • 1 Comment

Do you have a belief that says you’re not good at numbers or you’re not management material? Perhaps you think you’re only good at sales or you’re not any good at sales. Perhaps you think you’re boss has it in for you and you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. Do you believe someone is holding you back and if they’d just catch up life would be better? I’m not asking you to change who you are, I’m asking are you sure any of these beliefs are even true? Are you making an assessment or an assumption? Do you know these are true? Have you proven them for yourself, or did you struggle in an area/situation and decide something wasn’t right and give up or move on to other endeavors? Do you see your choices as being limited?

As a coach, I work with my clients to first learn WHO they are…their values, beliefs, needs, strengths, talents, desires rather than beginning the focus on WHAT they want and HOW they will get results. Why?  It’s really simple, the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ are often what their partner wants for them or their boss has demanded or what society has told them they must do or want. That’s why so many New Year’s resolutions don’t work; people choose things without tying them to their values, things they don’t have a passion for or a desire for. In addition, once a person is clear about their Who, the What and the How show up on their own.  Going directly for the result, the goal, the solution leaves very important information out of the mix. For example: What fuels the driver? What motivates a person to want to do something? If I have a desire to be an independent and successful business woman then I must ask myself what do I feel so strongly about at my very core that following that path will make my success easy and meaningful? My success will be based on that meaning; it’s not about the money or the recognition, those are results.

In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why discovered these leaders all think, act and communicate in the exact same way and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. They all start with ‘why’. An organization can explain what it does and how it does it, but can they articulate why they do it? Why is not money or profit, again those are results. Have you heard the phrase; “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”? Sinek maintains people don’t care how and what you do until they know why you do it. Tap into the heart, the emotion and the core of the subject – what moves you to do something or not do something? Why is it important to you in the biggest sense of the word?

So I could say I became a coach because I want to make a difference in the world and that is true, but the real driver is that I believe everyone has a right to soar, to identify and develop their talents, strengths and skills to be the best of the best. People have a right to know who he or she is (not just the roles they play) and how they can best contribute to the whole of this world. I love being the catalyst for the realization of that spark, that purpose, that meaning.

I believe every executive is the guiding light for his or her company. How bright or how dim that light shines, whether its warm or glaring makes a difference in the life and the profitability of the company. These are skills that can be learned and I love seeing this take place.

I believe every business deserves to be successful and that the business needs to serve its owner, not the owner being a slave to the business. But often the business owner doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and having a guide can bring the who of the business and the owner to life.

What’s your ‘why’?  The why is always tied to the who. The Who is the driver, the doer, the Why is the belief, the passion and the How is the action taken to realize the belief with the What being the result of those actions.

Three great examples of building a company and/or a product to serve the middle class are Volkswagen, Wal-Mart and Southwest Airlines. All three of these companies chose to fully champion and serve the middle class – their Why. Apple on the other hand based its success on “think differently”. Creating a product that was outside the box and perfect; as perfect on the inside as on the outside and for this you are expected to pay a premium. All these are great products and services but with different Why’s and appeal to very different people.

Studies show that 80% of us who have jobs, don’t really consider it to be our dream job. I would venture to say most people don’t know what their dream job is. And further I’d venture to say most people don’t really know who they are; they don’t know what they don’t know. Before you begin a venture or project, go after a new career or a new relationship, take some time to really investigate your ‘why’. What is so important to you, at your core that if you built your life around it, would bring meaning and joy to you and those around you?

Adapted from the book, Start With Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek published 2009 by Penguin Group

Only Mediocrity is Safe

•October 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I was reading the weekly Genius Tip from Genius Coach Otto Siegel (www.geniuscoaching.com) this morning and it started the brain cells working overtime. I began asking myself where I am currently following the thinking of the masses. Continue reading to see if this question applies to you as well. Are you buying into the thinking that mediocrity is the best you can expect to be in these chaotic times?

Remember Marianne Williamson’s famous poem “Return to Love”? She writes:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light that frightens us, not our darkness.”

Then I heard it again from Paul Coelho: “Only mediocrity is safe. Get ready to be attacked, and be the best.”

And finally my assistant Mariana showed me Sarah Robinson’s blog where she talks about a very common observation when collecting crabs at the beach: “More often than not, as a crab would begin to inch its way higher to the edge of the bucket, the other crabs would latch on to him and pull him back down.”

Crab mentality is actually an official phrase and roughly means “if I can’t have it, neither can you.” And it is talked about. A lot! Most likely it is one of the biggest obstacles to unfold innate genius all the way to a level of brilliance.

How about finding a community of passionate people who build a ‘crab ladder’ to aid your escape from the bucket of mediocrity? People who will not buy into the thinking of the masses and won’t let you buy into it either. But rather aid you in looking above the minutia of the world to a higher level of thinking and being. As you read this genius tip, you might have just found this kind of people. How does that sound to you? Stay connected…

Action:
How many people do you have in your life right now who know your deepest desires  and support your brillance to manifest them?

Need a Brain Boost?

•September 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Brain overload?

Is your memory not doing so well?

Perhaps you can’t recall important information after one of those endless meetings you attend?

Are you constantly losing your keys or your glasses?

If any of this sound familiar to you, then perhaps I can offer some simple ways to work with these brain challenges.

I read a recent article in Redbook Magazine by Kelly Mickle entitled “kooky memory tricks that work.” According to Mickle, not only will these little tips make it easier to remember where you put things, but will help defend against senior moments later. Some of us might have needed them sooner rather than later, but my motto is its never too late.

Doodling – ever doodle during a meeting or while you’re on the phone? According to an Applied Cognitive Psychology report sketching while listening means you’re 29% more likely to remember what you heard. Why? Apparently doodling keeps you focused on the action and less likely to daydream. You can still listen while you doodle, but daydreaming reduces your attention towards the speaker.

Web surfing – bosses take note: surfing may not increase productivity, but it can boost brainpower and that’s important. One study had people search the web for information on a variety of topics, and afterward brain scans showed they had more brain activity in the memory and decision-making areas of the brain. And in today’s world, decisions seem to come a mile a minute. So take a moment to Google something of interest when you start to feel drained or overwhelmed.

Laughter – Stress disrupts brain-cell communication in the hippocampus (the area of your brain that controls memory) according to the University of California’s research, laughter can counteract this affect. Sometimes I get little video clips via email and Facebook, and watching the humorous ones does offer a nice break. You might also try America’s Funniest Home Videos highlights at abc.go.com

Power walking – taking a brisk stroll for 20 minutes before that big meeting will actually boost your brainpower for an hour. According to Charles Hillman, Ph.D. at the University of Illinois people performed better on difficult memory test 30 minutes after cardio. Why? Aerobic exercise may increase blood flow to the brain and improve you ability to learn new things. I do yoga and I know that the head down position downward-dog seems to make my brain seem more alert.

Yes, engagement at work is incredibly important and yet without disengaging you may not be your best self, and therefore not do your best work. So is laughter and exercise the best medicine? It’s worth a try.

Who’s Responsible?

•August 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Are we the blaming kind? Do we find some kind of satisfaction in putting the responsibility and therefore the blame “out there”? Do we tend to say, its Obama’s fault we’re in this mess? Or I just can’t get the work done in this heat, or as Flip Wilson used to say, “The devil made me do it.” Or as I remember back in the days when the fridge had ice trays, the son of a friend when challenged on why he didn’t refill the tray blamed it on Clancy the dog who used up the ice.

We humans tend to place the blame any time we either don’t know how to take responsibility or we just don’t want to take responsibility.

As Dr. Albert Ellis so wisely said: “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you are in control of your own destiny.” A Course in Miracles says there are no victims, only volunteers. So if I am not a victim then I must be responsible for the choices I make. Yes, I am responsible for the vote I cast, where I invested my 401-K, how much I spent on the patio furniture, where I go for dinner and what I say.

And I realize that if I don’t like something, I can try to change it and if I can’t change it, I can at least change my attitude about it. So when I worry about the 401-K, I tell myself God knows exactly how much money is in that account and He also knows I like to eat. I’ll have to admit there is a certain amount of satisfaction in knowing that I have plenty of company in the ‘lack-of-retirement funds’ category. Yes misery does love company. What I want to do is to remove the misery part and just say I love company and solitude and many other things…but NOT misery. Misery is a choice; a choice that is not the best choice. I can choose to live my life with the glass-half-full attitude, being grateful for what I have and who I am. I am safe, I am healthy, I am happy and I live a life of ease.

There are many people on this planet unable to make those statements: soldiers in Afghanistan, the starving children in Somalia, the homeless on the streets of any city. Who is responsible for them? Marianne Williamson made an interesting statement on Facebook recently. She said. “It is their karma that people are starving in this world and it’s our karma to feed them.” So here is the dichotomy when it comes to responsibility – you have to do it by yourself and you can’t do it alone.

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