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Posts Tagged ‘Consequences’

How long will it take?

That’s the point in the conversation when it becomes painfully obvious, to me, at least, that the person in front of me truly isn’t ready to initiate change in her/his life. That’s the point when I realize the person in front of me is looking for the quick fix, the easy out — you know, the path that won’t take him/her out of her comfort zone. Because while this person recognizes something isn’t working in his/her life, and is aware of the lack of congruence — even if he/she cannot articulate it as such — she/he is not uncomfortable enough, yet, to make a change.

One of my mentors shared a story with me a few years ago, when we were talking about pursuing dreams. He said he often stops by the Rosetta Stone kiosk in an airport he frequently flies thru, and considers purchasing a module. But, then he finds himself tempted to ask the salesperson how long it will take to learn the language, and mid-way through that thought, he knows he’s not passionate enough about it to give it what it would require to succeed. He thinks of it as negotiating terms and pursuing dreams doesn’t work that way.

It’s a similar principle with prospective clients who understand something isn’t working in their life, their organization, within their team, and they know they need to do something different. If I believe I have value to add and a potential solution, I offer it, and then we have what I think of as the (no disrespect intended in any way, shape, or form) “come to Jesus” moment: What are you willing to do differently to initiate and see this change through?

What are you willing to do differently to initiate and see this change through?

And when the person asks, “How long will it take?” I know the conversation is done and all that’s left is the pleasantries (well, to be fair, I’m typically direct about what will happen if they don’t take action)  as I prepare to leave the meeting.

Here’s the deal: Whatever shape your life, team, organization is in, you didn’t just arrive there this morning; you developed the habits and behaviors and embedded the thinking that have all conspired to get you to where you are today over the course of many (MANY!) years. Unlearning those habits, challenging those beliefs, and changing one’s thinking will not happen overnight (even if I do have my magic wand with me!). It takes time; sometimes more and sometimes less, depending on the level of discomfort, desire to change, willingness to challenge thinking and beliefs, willingness to rock the boat, even.

Whether I say it will take six months, twelve months, or longer, consider this: That time will pass either way, whether you do the work or not; it’s inevitable. The choice is yours: Will you step out of your comfort zone, take the action, and work through the process? Or will you simply be another six months or a year older, and still living in the same proverbial place?

What will you decide?

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Yes, this was me, some months ago. My stylist actually called in sick twice in one week…the first time, the salon called to let me know, and rescheduled me for a couple of days later. I showed up early and waited nearly 30 minutes (there was no receptionist on duty — just stylists all with clients) before someone decided to tell me he’d called in sick, again.

I was so frustrated and upset, I was nearly in tears, but it’s not what you think. And, it’s not uncommon. I’ve heard similar stories from many of the women in my inner circle — and extended network — on numerous occasions.

It wasn’t actually about the haircut. The root of the issue (no pun intended) is this: As usual, I had a lot going on in my life, and had waited until my hair was truly out of shape, out of style, and just downright unruly before I’d called to make an appointment, which meant about another 10 days before I could actually get into the salon. It’s not as if I wasn’t aware that within a certain number of weeks of my last cut, that my hair would have grown and would need some professional attention. The issue was I had chosen to put my needs last, after my family, my business, my personal growth, etc…Commendable, maybe, but not conducive to peace or good mental health over time.

I was so looking forward to an hour of true down time, when someone else would be fully focused on me and my only responsibility was to sit upright in the chair; at that point, I needed that. So, when I finally took the time for myself and the stylist didn’t show up, I was at the end of my emotional reserves!

Ladies, tell me you haven’t been there…whether it was your hair stylist, nail technician, massage therapist, or a girlfriend you were planning to have coffee or lunch with…The stars were no longer in alignment and that respite you so desperately needed evaporated nearly in an instant, leaving you frustrated, emotional…whatever the reaction, it was likely out of proportion to the actual event.

This is one of the reasons I’m collaborating with Tracy Worley and Maureen Craig McIntosh to bring you Gracebreak Retreat. We are taking an intentional time out to reconnect with ourselves and other strong, talented, courageous women. We will discover our natural talents (potential) and strengths (performance), define or refine our core values, dig into the choices we make and the behaviors we demonstrate that either serve us or don’t! And we’ll connect with other women who share similar challenges in their lives, broadening and strengthening our inner circles and support network. And we’re doing this just outside of beautiful Bozeman, Montana.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I routinely commit to things I really don’t have time for, or do not have deep meaning for me?
  • Do I routinely put everyone else’s needs before mine?
  • When I do take time out for myself, is it usually accidental (unplanned), late at night after everyone else is asleep, or simply because I’m desperate (and then I feel guilty for taking it)?
  • When was the last time I truly took significant time out to reconnect with and nurture my own needs?

If you answered yes to any (or all) of the first three, and you need to look at a calendar or have someone give you the answer to the last one, you need to be there with us. We’ve designed this retreat specifically for you. The truth is, you cannot give what you do not have and when your reserves run dry, you are of no service to anyone, especially you!

We can’t wait to see, and serve, you there! Register today!

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I had the privilege of attending a business summit last week, where 800 business leaders and legislators gathered to discuss a number of issues in our state. Part of the agenda was an opportunity to get to know the candidates for our Congressional seats in the upcoming election. In pairs, these folks were given the opportunity to respond to a series of questions posed by a moderator, and one in particular caught my attention.

The moderator asked: What accomplishment in your public service career are you most proud of and what would you like the chance to do over?

What accomplishment are you most proud of and what would you like the chance to do over?

As I listened to each of the four candidates who participated, I found myself becoming more and more disappointed in them; although it is politics, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Essentially, here’s what they said: “I’m most proud of XX (fill in the blank with some specific thing), and I really have no regrets. I can’t think of anything in my life I would take back or do over.”

Really?

Pardon my disbelief, but that response left me cold. I can’t think of anyone I’ve met  who has no regrets, who wouldn’t like the opportunity to do something over. This is not to say that the something has to be monumental. It could be as simple as wishing one could take back a hurtful comment made in the heat of an argument, or fueled by hurt or misunderstanding. It could be wishing one took advantage of an opportunity that had been presented, but was missed out of lack of awareness, fear, doubt, insecurity. It could be a desire to do something again because of lessons learned and a desire to do whatever it was better, smarter, smoother, etc…There are often unintended consequences to our actions, and sometimes, we would like to try, again, based on that awareness.

I do understand the concept of saying “I have no regrets because I’m happy with where I am today.” I do. You see, I am very blessed to be where I am today, and looking back over the course of my life, I can see all the connections on the path to getting me here, and understand why the various experiences were necessary. At the same time, there are things I’ve done and said that I’ve deeply regretted and wish I could take back or do over, with more insight, stronger intuition, greater empathy, deeper wisdom. I’ve made apologies and amends and learned to forgive myself, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve goofed up, on numerous occasions, and would like to have done it better the first time.

But, this is how we learn. We try, we stumble, we learn, we try, again…

So, back to the political candidates. I assume some well-meaning communication officer or PR person told them it’s important to focus on the positive and not admit to any potential weakness or failure. I find it disingenuous. It disconnects them from the rest of us mere mortals who goof up on occasion. It leaves me feeling distrustful of them. If they can’t be open about a mis-step at some point in their life — or political career — what else will they not be honest and forthcoming about? And what will be the outcome if it turns out someone finds something in their past that they regret and would like to have done over?

This is like a job interview, isn’t it? When the interviewer asks the candidate what his / her strengths and weaknesses are. The truth is, we all have both and if we attempt to present ourselves as if we don’t, we’ve planted the seeds of distrust and disbelief. It usually doesn’t go well after that.

So, what about you? How would you answer the moderator’s question? What would you do over, and why?

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As one of my mentors says, “you can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame.” Isn’t that so true?

When we are on the outside looking in, it’s so much easier to see things in others that they can’t see themselves…like recognizing someone’s potential, or fears.

As a coach, this is particularly frustrating, as I’ve been stuck in that place…that place where I didn’t recognize my potential, the self-limiting beliefs I was allowing to hold me back, the fears I didn’t acknowledge that also held me back. Fortunately, I found the mentors and coaches I needed to help me through. They held the mirror up for me to see myself with greater clarity. They asked me the hard questions, which caused me to dig deeper into my thinking and realize there were a lot more options in my life than I thought. I have been, and continue to be, blessed by them. I am also very blessed to be doing that work myself.

But I have to recognize my limitations. I can’t do for someone what he/she won’t do for him or herself. Twice in the past year, I’ve had “near misses” with coaching clients. They sought me out because they were stuck and wanted to become unstuck. They knew me from previous connections and reached out because they believed I could help. I believed it, too, after we talked about what each was going through. Both committed to the coaching process, and I sent them the information they needed prior to getting started. I asked each of them this question: What will you allow to stop you embarking on this self-discovery journey? Both of them, boldly I might say, said “nothing!” And yet, both backed out prior to our first session.

What will you allow to stop you?

I ask that question because I know what it’s like to be in that place and while it’s exhilarating to think you are moving forward to proactively make a change, to take charge of your life, it’s also frightening (remember the mirror? We don’t always want to see who we truly are…). I want them to think it through and recognize they have the power to take the step, the same as they have the power to continue to hold themselves back.

To date, while I keep in touch with both of them, and continue to offer them whatever thoughts, information, insights I have that may be of value to them…they remain distant. I wonder how they feel, what they think, what their lives are like with the knowledge that they have chosen to stay in that place, chosen to remain stuck, when they have the power to initiate something different. Time is passing.

At some level, my heart aches for them; they were close to change, close to knowing themselves more deeply, close to taking charge of their future, close to reclaiming their power. Now, they are a little more aware and still in that place. I am learning to accept that I cannot do it for them. I cannot accompany them on a journey they aren’t ready to take.

I hope they come back; I want to discover who they are in their more powerful, radiant, knowing selves.

 

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I have an idea for a new business. I dream about it. I talk to other people about it; tell them I own it already, in fact! I write advertising for it in my head. I can see it with crystal clear vision. I’m tempted to order furniture and other supplies for it. So far, it’s only a domain name I have purchased, but have yet to make real in any other way.

What held me back, you ask? Well, I’ve never ventured into the realm of commercial real estate. This business will require some space; some unconventional space at that. I didn’t know anything about leases, utilities, insurance, etc…and that held me back for a bit; until a recent phone call with an entrepreneurial inner circle I belong to, when I shared my vision and what was stopping me moving forward, and one of the women shared how commercial leases work.

Voila! I had an entirely new level of understanding. Here’s where I was and where I am now.

Driving around the locations I think might be appropriate for my business, I look at buildings for lease. One, in particular, has a sign on it that says “$6-8 per square foot.” I assumed — without investigating — that meant $6-8 per square foot PER MONTH! For 1000 square feet, which is too small for my needs, that would be at least $6000 per month!

I thought it was insane. After all, I don’t live in Manhattan, London, Paris, or the like! I wondered how that could be and how small business could afford it. There’s my ignorance on full display.

I was enlightened on Monday, that those kinds of lease rates are typically based on a 1-3 year lease agreement; the cost is per year, not per month! With that new understanding, I quickly did some preliminary math and discovered I can afford commercial space without too much concern over being able to cover the rent.

The result: I’ve already spoken with a developer who specializes in renovating vacant buildings, as well as a commercial realtor and will be looking at a few spaces next week. I’m not just jumping in; first I will do some market research to ensure there is indeed demand for what I want to offer and also to determine appropriate price points for the service.

My point is this: I was allowing fear to hold me back. Fear that I didn’t have the resources necessary to even move forward. Fear that I lacked something fundamental that would keep me from success. Fear that what I would learn about leasing commercial space would tell me my dream wasn’t going to become a reality.

And think of the very simple thing I needed to do that would allow me to understand what was really involved: All I needed to do was pick up the phone, call a commercial realtor, and ask a simple question — how do lease rates work? That simple.

So what is holding you back today? What simple step could you take to increase your understanding of something that would move you forward in whatever you are striving to achieve?

I encourage you to simply take a deep breath, and do the thing you think you cannot do. You just may literally astound yourself!

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Maybe you think that if you don’t think about it, pretend it’s not there, it might go away?

I assure you, it won’t! In fact, it will become bigger the longer you allow it to fester. Conflict comes with a lot of baggage — mostly our own, stuffed full over the course of our lives with a lot of stuff gathered during previous conflicts and experiences with the person in question.

Last week, two of my coaching participants were working through how to deal with some conflict that had been plaguing their work lives for some time. As we all know, what happens at work bleeds into what happens outside of work, and vice versa, so it wasn’t just something they were thinking about, dreading, 8-5, but all day.

One said he felt deflated when he left work because of what appears to be an idealogical misalignment with a coworker. He wanted to down play it, make it less significant than it actually is. The other was interested in maybe bringing me in as a facilitator without having attempted to work through it herself.

The conversations we had were direct, uncomfortable, and filled with apprehension and fear. Dealing with conflict is rarely a fun thing; rarely something we look forward to with positive expectations. But we all know, we have to deal with it somehow, some way, or it will eat at us daily until something happens.

It’s similar to dealing with acute versus chronic pain in our bodies. We can experience it every time we have an encounter with that person, which is like a slow death; or, we can commit to bringing it out in the open and working through it intentionally, and experience that discomfort all at once.

What I know is this: If we don’t deal with it in a straightforward manner, it causes us to leak energy throughout our day and over time it wears us out. It’s keeps us from performing at higher levels, from accomplishing more, from experiencing healthy, constructive relationships, and from experiencing joy…in all areas of our lives.

And, working through it will help you grow…as a person, friend, spouse, colleague, and leader. This is a skill that will serve you well throughout your life, because conflict will appear, again, at some point, as it inevitably does. And when it does, although it won’t be less comfortable, you can approach it with a little more skill and confidence, knowing you’ve walked through a similar fire before and survived.

 

 

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I started drinking coffee in high school. It was the thing to do, right? After all, my parents started every morning with a fresh pot, and it always smelled so good. Even today, I love the aroma of good coffee beans or coffee brewing. However, my coffee drinking habit changed dramatically a couple of years ago.

Well, it changed the first time about 8-½ years ago, when my husband and I decided to start a family; I switched to decaf at that point, and have not switched back. But I digress…about two years ago, I was still drinking my two cups of decaf every morning; one while getting ready to leave for work, and one in the car on my 45-minute commute. It was a strongly ingrained habit, part of my daily ritual, prepared for and completed each day fully on auto-pilot (without any thought given to this practice…oooof!).

One day, however, it all changed, and I don’t know what the catalyst was, exactly, unless it was related to my deepening thoughts around how I was wasting my life energy, time, and talent in a dead-end corporate job where I was in the wrong role and my true talents (growing people) were not appreciated nor desired. Those thoughts led me to thinking more about everything involved in that job — including the daily commute of 45 minutes each way — and what changes I needed to make in my life. After all, it’s not a dress rehearsal; this is the only one I get and I am determined to make the most of it!

In that process, I actually tasted my coffee one morning. Yes, actually was conscious, attuned to, and thinking about what my coffee tasted like and I realized it didn’t taste like anything! At least nothing yummy, anymore (I had cut out the sweetened, flavored, non-dairy creamers for other reasons…and was just down to coffee with skim…blick!). I thought, perhaps, I’d just made a bad pot (not particularly specific about the amount of beans I would grind each time). So, the next day, I considered the flavor, again. Still “blick!” And I decided there was no reason to keep drinking it. I cleaned out my coffee maker, stored it in a cupboard, and that’s been that.

However, I do still enjoy a caramel latte on occasion. And in the last month, I’ve had occasion to order one in a coffee shop where I was actually at a table, rather than on my way out the door. On both occasions, I received my latte very pleasantly presented in one of those short, wide, over-sized coffee “bowls” coffee shops are want to use, and my immediate reaction was irritation! That’s right, I was not delighted, but irritated!

Skilled barista’s are particularly talented in all things coffee, and one of those skills is filling those “bowls” right to the rim. Nice to not get shorted on a high-priced beverage, but maddeningly impossible to move it without spilling some of that precious liquid, leaving a sticky mess. It also requires one to actually stay in one place, carefully sipping (at least at first) one’s drink. I had forgotten to request a “to-go” cup; my fault.

The result? I was forced to pay attention to my latte and how I drank it. I sipped it slowly and carefully, so as not to spill. I took the time to drink it at a leisurely pace, actually tasting all the flavors. I watched people in the coffee shop around me. I breathed. I relaxed. I savored the moment and the latte…and when I did allow myself the time to do that, rather than hurrying on to whatever was next on my to-do list, I was intensely grateful for the oversized coffee “bowl” with liquid to the brim. It reminded me I’m not in a race, and busy doesn’t equal productive, nor does it equal time spent on things that truly matter.

My questions to you, faithful reader, are these:

What part of your life are you not “tasting,” not fully experiencing?

What habits do you  practice on auto-pilot and how are they serving you (or not)?

What are you missing because you don’t take the time to savor the moment?

I would love to hear from you…use the comments box below and let me know what you come up with.

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