Tag Archives: leadership

Your Comfort Zone Is a Kill Zone

Break-Out-Shell-Woman-smI just came back from a speaking engagement. I had tailored the talk a bit: first, because I had less time than normal and second, because it was a new, special market.

Even in the short time I presented, I found myself talking more than usual about our comfort zones.

It didn’t occur to me how important a topic it was until several people came up afterward to thank me and when asked “what touched you the most?”, they replied quietly and thoughtfully, “the comfort zone part”.

I looked up the definition of a ‘kill zone’ and found it to mean “the area of a military engagement with a high concentration of fatalities”.

So, based on this premise, your comfort zone has created, swept under the rug and buried “a high concentration of fatalities”.

Think about it. Your comfort zone is a vast wasteland of…opportunities you let slip by, dreams you didn’t pursue, relationships you were afraid to develop, jobs you didn’t take, dead-end jobs you didn’t leave, calls you didn’t make, gigs you let someone else win, important conversations you stuffed, trips you didn’t go on, stands you should have taken but didn’t, differences you could have made but ignored, fears you let dominate and prevail, personal growth you didn’t experience.

Have I said enough? Are you squirming yet? I am.

Comfort.2We all have a comfort zone. We often don’t even notice it. We delude ourselves into thinking it’s a happy, safe place.

And at some level, it is. But at what cost?

If you could trade that safety for deeper relationships, being fully expressed, earning more money, being seen and making a bigger difference in the world, living a thrilling, fulfilling life experiencing what might seem like magical serendipitous moments, creating the life you dream of, would it be worth stepping out of that comfortable, dream-killing zone?

Here are 7 ideas to break you out of your kill zone comfort rut.

1. Find something on your bucket list and do it this week.

2. Call the person you’ve been avoiding, have the conversation you’ve been afraid to have and do it in a way that honors both of you.

3. Commit to a goal so big and public it scares you.

4. Be more controversial on important issues that matter to you.

5. End any relationship that is no longer serving your greater good.

6. Stop waiting for permission.

7. Stop waiting to feel ready or confident. Take the action you’re dreading; confidence and readiness will appear as a  result.

Do any of these and feel your power. Do all of them and expect a miracle (or two or seven or more)!

7 Principles for Extracting the Extraordinary in You

extraordinaryWhat does it take to live an extraordinary life? What would that mean for you on a day-to-day basis?

I was recently reminded of some simple (yet not necessarily easy-to-do) concepts that if installed in your life would place you squarely on the higher road, the road less traveled.

I’m still working on some aspect of each of these myself. It’s a lifelong discipline. Not for the faint of heart, but surely well worth the effort.

1. Be truthful.
Being truthful is about honesty and accuracy. The accuracy aspect is about re-conveying an experience such that your words evoke the thoughts and emotions you experienced in the person you’re sharing with. While each of us has our own perspective of life and interpretation  of events, if your intention is to have them experience what you did, you’re on the right track. No shading of the truth to make yourself look better.

Additionally, the honesty aspect will likely cause you so alter your behavior. You may have heard the phrase, ‘Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper.’ Living your commitment to transparency encourages good behavior and lack of deception at work and home.

2. Give more than you take.
Give freely of your time, love and money. Give generously and not with the expectation that your gifts will be repaid. Purposeful giving fulfills you. It’s almost like you’re not giving for the benefit of the recipient. Make life easier for yourself and others. Don’t forget yourself. The problem some over-givers encounter is that they deplete themselves in the process and end up feeling resentful.

3. Don’t take what isn’t yours.
This is more than just ‘don’t steal’. It’s about not benefiting from ‘mistakes’. Now I’m all for serendipity and miracles and to be honest, I don’t know that I can tell you how to distinguish between those incidents and the ones that are to be avoided. I think the barometer here may be how you feel internally although the internal barometers of habitual ‘takers’ are probably flawed.

Here’s an example…My husband and I were shopping in a store last week. We bought something together and each paid for half in cash. The cashier gave us both our change back, but it seemed like too much. I didn’t say anything, not sure there was a problem, but the more I thought about it, the more I was pretty sure we got too much change. My mind tried to justify it by telling me ‘It’s a big store. They won’t notice it.’ But my heart felt something else. So I went back to the store, found the clerk and reminded him of the transaction. He couldn’t really validate the error with their sales system and ended up telling me to keep the $5 for my honesty.

I left feeling happier, but I still feel like giving that $5 to someone who needs it more will make me even happier. Think “Pay it forward.”

4. Make the world a better place
Do your actions make life easier for those around you? Is the world a better place because of what you think, do and say each day?

Or do you make people jump through hoops to get your favor? Do you consistently ‘block’ other people’s progress?

How would you behave differently if you knew your purpose was to leave the world in a better place because you lived here? Be constructive. Be helpful.

5. Honor life.
All living beings have the right to their lives. Respect them. This applies to not only to humans (even the ones you don’t like) but to non-human creatures as well. Last summer, I accidentally severed a praying mantis while pruning some plants. I was heartsick as he stared at me mournfully it seemed, with half of his abdominal cavity missing.

While I carefully carry spiders out of my home, I still intentionally kill crickets and scorpions when I find them inside. I guess now, I’ll work on finding some non-lethal way to rid them from my home when I encounter them.

6. Do no harm.
Intentionally ending the life of another (even an ant), when living rigorously, is an extreme measure. But what about the ‘little’ harms we do during the course of life?

Have you ever tried to get someone in trouble at home or work without first discussing the situation with them with the intent to resolve it? Do you gossip?  Do you have nasty, judgmental thoughts about others?

Once I took this discipline on, I had to confront the judgments I made of others. Casting frequent silent aspersions seemed automatic at times. I’ve taken on the practice now of blessing people, especially those my internal judge initially denounces.

7. Recognize that you are the source of everything.
It’s easy to blame others for the status of the world and even for your experience of your own personal life. In the training and coaching I do, I often share the concept of “Those idiots over there…”. When you place blame on your co-workers, spouse, children, parents, siblings, neighbors, strangers, political opponents, you rob yourself of power. You pine for changes in them. You want to ‘fix’ them.

You can’t change them. You’ll never change them. And if you wait for that, you’ll be in misery forever.

The only person you can change is you. The only person who can change the experience of the life you are living is you.

When you shift your thinking, emotional responses and actions, you will start having a new experience of life. Additionally, your new perspective, behavior and words will eventually impact the people around you and their response to you will likely change as well. The dynamic of your relationship will be different.

So stop trying to fix them. Work on improving yourself.

One of my favorite sayings is, “We all have more options that we generally see and more control than we tend to take”. So I challenge you to implement the ideas mentioned here. Open your eyes to options that are currently hidden from your view and take control of the way you live your life.

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The 4 Seeds of Selling & Influence

I am a lifelong learner. I’m always interested in expanding my thinking and my knowledge base. Recently, I attended a training and picked up some great nuggets on how to best connect with and influence people.

Whether you’re a corporate executive, a business owner, consultant, entry level employee, mother, spouse, neighbor or other ‘character’, you will benefit from being skilled at influencing others in an ethical manner. Being able to make it easy for people to understand your point of view will allow you to create more meaningful, productive and even profitable relationships in life.

These four ideas are simple, yet truly effective if implemented with the right (read ethical) spirit.

1. Less is best
Have you ever been bombarded by a pushy sales person who talked and talked and talked until you found yourself not even listening to them? Have you ever been guilty of that yourself? Talking too much will bore people. It will likely alienate people. It will shut them down and shut down the possibility of your idea as well. Focus on the points that are most relevant to the person with whom you are speaking.

2. Create interaction
This tip is closely aligned with the previous one. The more you can get your prospect, boss, spouse engaged in the conversation, the more they will feel like they’re a vital part of the process. Additionally, the more they talk, the more you learn. And the more you know, the better you’ll be able to appeal to ther needs.

3. Laughter leads to listening
When people are having fun, they pay more attention. Their minds are more open to what you’re proposing. They feel happier in general and more positive about you and your ideas. Sometimes the topic may not seem to warrant having fun, but if there is anything you can say that might put a smile on their face, do it. Smiling will relax and open their heart and their mind will follow.

4. Selling is not telling
Genius selling is asking. I once heard a multimillionaire business owner say that her goal is to ask so many of the right questions, that her prospects convince themselves they need to work with her.  Skillful questions capture the attention of your potential partner. They create interaction and supply you with valuable insight.

And here’s a magical concept…when you get people agreeing with you throughout the conversation, when it comes time to make your ‘pitch’ and ‘close’ them, they’re already predisposed because they’ve felt like they were in agreement with you all along!

People love to buy. They hate being sold.

So next time you have an idea, concept, project, service you’re striving to enroll someone in, remember…and implement these simple ideas.

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The Power of Presence: 5 Critical Skills for Maximum Personal Effectiveness

The workplace is a web of communications between individuals and teams.

When things don’t go well, we tend to blame the other person or group.

If you’re ever tried to change anyone, you probably realize how pointless that is.

Our highest salvation and sense of peace is to work on ourselves, rise above the commotion and lead the way from a place of groundedness and authenticity.

Maintaining presence of mind in the midst of chaos is the way to accomplish that.

So, how does one maintain that presence when the world seems to be caving in on you? It is possible but takes concerted effort.

Here are the 5 skills that are critical for maximizing your effectiveness:

1. The ability to discover the things you do that other people notice but that you don’t know you do
We all have habits, patterns of behavior that seem to run themselves. We also all have blind spots. Things we do but are unaware of. Rarely do we seek them out and even less frequently, do we do anything about them

If you’re striving for maximum effectiveness in the workplace, you MUST know the impact you’re having on people. It takes courage to uncover them, but shining a light on the areas of your blindness will help you become more likeable, respected and influential.

2. The ability to calm yourself when your reptilian brain has just thrust you into Fight or Flight
When tensions mount, our instinct is to protect ourselves or annihilate the threat. Before you commit that career limiting move, take a moment to get ‘present’. That means calming yourself briefly before you lash out or duck and cover. Put your attention on your your physical body. Take a few deep breaths. Notice the pressure of your butt on the chair or your feet on the floor. Taking these few precious seconds will give you a chance to collect your more grounded thoughts and respond from a more centered place.

3. The ability to notice and objectively address the process you or a group are enmeshed in
Communication is a process which includes not just the words that are said but the underlying subtext of the conversation as well as what’s NOT being said. In a group or family, people fall into ‘roles’ they play in that community. When those roles can be brought to light in a way that is nonjudgmental the grip of the role is loosened.

For example, when a group is led by a powerful and directive boss, they may be reluctant to speak up if they have a different opinion than the one that is not being proferred. This is what triggers water-cooler conversations).

As the boss, it’s critical that you get the feedback you need in order to accomplish your goals. Notice that your staff is hesitant to be forthright with you. tell them you need their input AND THEN LISTEN AND TAKE IT INTO ACCOUNT.

As the staff member, it’s critical that you voice your perspective, not in a combative way but as another point of information that is valuable and key to moving forward on the right path.

4. The ability to quiet our inner critic
To be human is to have a voice that tries to protect us from harm. Unfortunately, it usually stops us from taking ‘risks’ that would actually be helpful to our personal growth. Notice what your inner critic or judge usually says to you. Then when it pipes up (in your head) in various situations, notice it and say ‘Thank you for pointing that out’.

Then imagine that there is a miracle awaiting you on the other side of whatever fear it raised and take some action toward bringing that miracle into fruition.

5. The ability to cultivate the Sage within you
There is another voice within us that knows what’s possible on a grander scale than what our human persona normally perceives. It is the voice of intution, Spirit, knowingness, God (or whicheve deity enlightens your world).

It whispers to us to take action. It’s suggestions sometimes scare us and that’s almost always a signal that growth or transformation is right around the corner if we go there.

Cultivating the Sage means creating quiet time and space for it to speak to us during periods of restfulness,

meditation or prayer. It means listening to the voice and honoring it by taking action on its suggestions. It’s a discipline and practice, being quite and taking acion. Ant it is a practice, that if done consistenly, will pay off in really big ways.

So, be aware then be courageous. Release the judge that condemns yourself and others. Invite the Sage to take a larger role in your life and the power of this new presence will dramatically improve your personal effectiveness.

Let me know how it works out for you!

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Do People See You a Leader or a Liability?

Russian Rainbow Gathering. Nezhitino, August 2005
Image via Wikipedia

While I’ve always been rather moderate in my politics, I am a child of the 60’s. One of the phrases that was used a lot back then by the militants and flower children was ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”.

As you review your own behavior in life, do you make sure you’re part of the solution or would others see you as part of the problem?

When you’re part of the problem, you probably feel victimized by your circumstances, powerless to change them and/or resigned that nothing you do can fix what’s really wrong with your world.

This likely leaves you reluctant to take action, bitter and resentful, maybe even hopeless.

You would recognize this by the language you use privately in your own head and in conversation with others.

“Why bother?”

“If only those idiots over there would get their act together…”

“I can’t…”

“I have to…”

They all reflect a loss of power, a lack of empowerment, an absence of responsibility for causing the world to be the way you say it should be.

So, I’ll ask again, “Are you a leader or a liability?” And just as important…how to people SEE you?

Leaders get ahead, get promoted, get great clients.

Liabilities get ignored or worse yet, fired, retired, RIFed (reduced in force), laid off or go broke.

So what does it take to be seen as a leader in your company, community, business or family?

Three things distinguish leaders from whiners and naysayers.

1. Leaders DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE to fix the problem once they’ve identified it.

The don’t sit around and blame The Establishment, their bosses, employees, kids or spouse for their problem.  They name the problem and communicate. They make requests or demands for it’s resolution…from someone who is empowered to take that action.  They might even take the matter into their own hands and fix it themselves.

2. Leaders strive to bring opposing sides together to see an outcome that will benefit the larger community. They care about the impact of their actions on others.

Collaboration is the strategy true leaders use to create common goals and passion for making them real.

3. Leaders encourage others to feel empowered and helpful, not righteous, smug and victorious, wanting to suppress the rights of others.

When people are working on altruistic causes, they WILL feel enlightened. Their Spirit will know they are on the right track.  Certainly some leaders can push non-altruistic, selfish causes, but their followers will tend to feel entitled and indignant rather than grounded in the common good.

Liabilities, on the other hand sit back and point fingers. They lay blame and accuse others of being the Bad Guys without offering any proactive suggestions to improve conditions.

They enact a quiet, and sometimes, not so quiet, mutiny. They sabotage forward movement. They throw rocks into the cogwheels of progress. They pride themselves in making life difficult for others.

They may be proactive but could tend to use domination and force rather than collaboration and power balancing.

So, how would the people around you see you? Are you bringing solutions for the betterment of all or waiting for someone else to step forward while complaining they aren’t acting swiftly enough?

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