Tag Archives: Daily life

Wake Up and Live Your Dreams

What a creative and honest video about the journey to achieving our dreams. Like the protagonist in the video, many of us DREAM about living a better version ourselves but get detoured along the way. How many of us can relate to the negative self-talk she experienced along the way and the drain that it placed on her energy level? The self-sabatoging behavior combined with the negative self-talk made achieving the goal virtually impossible. Will power is not enough to counter these powerful forces. However in the last two blog posts, we have been learning a proven 7-step strategy to overcoming these negative behaviors and achieving our goals.

Now we are ready for the next important step in creating permanent change: identify replacement behaviors. These are the actions that we will take INSTEAD of our usual disempowering behaviors. You’ve heard the saying “an empty space is soon filled.” Well it is not enough to simply STOP doing something that is unhelpful to our goals; we must also START doing something that advances us to our desired outcome. If I tell you to stop thinking about pink elephants, that’s all your mind fixates on. However if I tell you to concentrate on describing your mother’s smile, your focus on your mother will block out any distracting thoughts- including pink elephants.

One of the reasons why diets do not work is because they focus people on what they are stoping rather than what they are starting. I worked with a great nutritionist who helped to cure me of my sugar addiction using this principle. Rather than asking me to STOP eating sugar, she told me to eat as much green vegetable and protein as I could. I never felt deprived because I was always eating and I never missed the sugar because my body’s chemistry was reset by the protein and green vegetables. I no longer “craved” sugar.

What you focus on gets magnified. So if you focus on STOPING your disempowering behaviors, their power will grow. Likewise if you focus on STARTING new empowering behaviors, they too will grow. This is the part of the change process where we often experience the most difficulty. We decide that we want to start eating vegetables instead of cake or start getting up early exercise instead of sleeping, but we don’t. So let me share with you the million dollar secret to replacing disempowering behaviors with more empowering ones.

In order to effectively replace a disempowering behavior, the alternative behavior must accomplish two things. First it must be easy and attractive and secondly it must meet the same need as the disempowering behavior. You see why we can’t proceed without doing the work in step 2 of analyzing the disempowering behavior? Our bad habits may not move us toward our goals but they are easy to do and fulfill important needs. Any actions that can effectively replace them MUST have these characteristics as well. So if you want to replace unnhealthy eating habits with more healthy choices, you have to make the healthy options just as EASY and ATTRACTIVE. Telling yourself (or your child) to eat the broccoli just “because it’s good for you” won’t work.

Yet, even if your alternative behavior is easy and attractive, it will not be effectively implemented regularly unless it MEETS THE SAME NEED as the disempowering behavior. Remember the law of positive intent? When we have an unmet need, our brains focus on behaviors that in the past allowed us to meet that need. In order for our alternative behavior to be successful in these situations, the replacement behavior must legitimately fulfill the same need.

So the journey of creating permanent positive change requires serious introspection and creativity. This is the real work of change. Are you ready? Brainstorm at least three possible replacement behaviors for each disempowering behavior you identified in the earlier two posts. Once you have your list, screen the behaviors to see if they meet the criteria for a effective replacement: easy/attractive and fulfills one of the universal needs. Please involve as many people as possible in this brainstorming process so that you can benefit from the collective wisdom of your community. Good luck and I look forward to hearing what you come up with in your process.

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7 Steps to Permanent Change

At the start of the New Year, people often identify changes they’d like to see in their lives and some even set up plans to achieve this desired change. However by mid -March many of these plans have been laid aside and the goals re-framed as unattainable “wishes”. This need not be the case for you. If you are disappointed and frustrated in your current level of progress on your goals for 2011, I’d like to share with you the first of a seven step plan for making permanent change. Remember that by effectively implementing small changes, you can create an arc of change that leads you to the life of your dreams.

Once you have identified the changes you’d like to make in your life, the first step to effectively accomplishing this is to connect these desired changes with your life purpose and values. Why do you want this change in your life? How will your life be better once you’ve accomplished your goal? Purpose is the driving force that gives you the energy and inspiration to keep you going when implementing the changes you desire. The more clearly aligned your desired change is with your life purpose, the more successful you will be.

Too often we list self-improvement goals based on other people’s actions and values rather than our own. For my clients who insist that they want to lose weight but can never find time to exercise, we explore whether this goal is a personal value or something they feel they “should do.” As Master coach Kim George always says “stop shoulding all over yourself.” Personal development is NOT about making yourself conform to other people’s expectations and values. It’s about discovering who you WANT to be and creating a support structure to live out your greatness.

If there is anything on your list of positive change that you do not truly WANT to do, please cross it off the list. If you are unwilling to remove it from the list, please spend time considering how this goal connects to your core values and priorities so that you WILL want to achieve this. The answer to the question “why do you want to change” is the first and most important step in creating permanent positive change.

Please share your desired change and how it connects to your purpose. Over the next few posts, I will continue to share with you aspects of the the 7 steps for permanent change. I’m also hosting a live chat on twitter on this topic Tuesday, March 22nd at 8pm EST. To participate in the discussion simply use #7steps on tweetchat.com. You can also connect with me on twitter @coachKesha. I’m looking forward to all that we will accomplish in 2011!


Oscars 101

Who will you thank during your 15 mins of fame?

Last week millions of people were glued to the television sets watching the Oscars. Some watched to see whether their favorite film or actor won an award. Others watched to see the hottest fashion designs. My favorite part of the Oscars are the acceptance speeches, the heartfelt words of appreciation that people spontaneously share during their 15 seconds of fame. I often don’t know the people winning the award or the people being thanked, yet I am moved by their sincerity and appreciation. My favorite acceptance speech of all time was when Halle Berry won her Academy Award for Best Actress. Her appreciation for those who had come before her and those who personally invested in her brought me to tears. True gratitude is both uplifting and contagious.

Who would you like to thank in your 15 second acceptance speech? Who has modeled your path and opened doors for you to develop your gifts? Who’s words of appreciation, encouragement, comfort have made a substantial impact on your life? You may never win an Academy award, but you have the opportunity to thank them right now.

The Note Project (www.noteproject.com) is a movement started by Mike O-Meary who wants to encourage us to take the time to express our heartfelt thanks to those who have touched our lives. He reminds us that “A simple note can change a person’s life. Equally important, showing appreciation can change your life“. You can watch his story that inspired the Note Project below and help the Note Project reach the goal of 1 million notes of appreciation by pledging to send your own note of appreciation .

While elaborate gifts and flowers may be nice, NOTHING compares to a sincere word of thanks. My friend Dr. Glenda Clare passes out cards that read: “Thank you for being who you are and doing what you do! Who you are is wonderful! What you do is important! I was blessed to spend time with you today!” What a great idea! What can be more meaningful than communicating to another person that they are special and what they do is important? Acceptance and significance are two fundamental human values and the expression of sincere appreciation fulfills them both.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Take time today to express thanks to those who touch your life in big and small ways. As William Arthur Ward has said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” In closing, I would like to thank you for the time you share with me. In many other areas of my life, writing has felt like a lonely process; yet having this space to share my thoughts feels so different and that is because of you. The comments and encouragement you provide are so helpful and nurturing. Thank you for including me in your day and your community!


No More Complaints

The quality of our relationships is determined by the quality of the quality of the conversations we have in them.

How can we improve our lives and our relationships by changing the form of our conversations?

Trust and respect are critical elements of every human encounter, be it friendship, parenting, or business. Yet we often unknowingly undermine the trust and respect in our relationships through our conversations. How good of a communicator are you? How well do you listen for the heart-felt values, beliefs and priorities of others? How well do you authentically share yourself with others? You can take a brief Conversational Assessment to get a move objective look at your strengths and weaknesses in the area of communication. This article presents a useful strategy to eradicate one of the top communication killers: complaining.

Once you are able to realistically observe your current conversational patterns and take the steps necessary to improve the nature of your conversations, you will experience:

* more collaborative and trusting personal and professional relationships
* greater influence in the lives of those around you
* an increase in the respect that others hold for you
* an increase in the amount of people coming to your for guidance and encouragement
* more intimate, open, and authentic relationships

If you desire to attain some or all of the benefits listed above, complaining is an activity that needs to be eradicated from your conversations. I used to think that to stop complaining meant to stop having opinions, stop communicating those opinions, or to stop desiring more out of my life and relationships. All who know me well know that I have LOTS of opinions and that I am very committed to expressing myself, so to stop complaining felt like betraying my nature. I’ve learned a technique that has enabled me to achieve better results than complaining ever got me, without sacrificing my voice. I share this with the hope of helping other “kind-hearted, outspoken, high standards” women like myself find a more productive style of conversation. If this is not a problem you experience yourself, please pass this technique along to the other women in your life who do. It will be a blessing to you both.

The solution to complaining is to actively engage your imagination to move from complaint mode to speculative mode. In complaint mode you focus on what went wrong or did not happen. In speculative mode you focus on your true desires and your ideal outcome. In speculative mode we “play make believe” asking ourselves “If things could be any way I want them to be, how would I LOVE things to be?”

Playing make believe can give you clarity on your goals and help you to improve the quality of your relationships.

Being in speculative mode forces us to focus on the future rather than the past. When we are in speculative mode, we are focused on what we want to create, focused on the possibility of a future that fulfills our desires, and focused on what what we can do to create that desired outcome. Unfortunately we are often much clearer on what we don’t want than what we do, and those who love us navigate a dangerous minefield while learning how to love us better.
Remember that what we focus on grows. As we focus on our true desires, they will become more clear and we will be better able to communicate them clearly to others. Focusing our our desires also provides us with the positive energy and emotional distance needed to engage in the interaction as a sharing and teaching opportunity. For example, when interacting with my children shifting from complaint to speculative mode allows me to identify the specific quality/ character trait I would like to see them exhibit in similar situations in the future. In this frustrating parenting moments I ask myself:

* what is the character trait I am trying to develop in my child?
* do I model this quality?
* have I have explicitly attempted to teach this quality earlier?

Often times this simple shift from complaint mode to speculative mode drains the negativity out of the situation and enables me to respond with the clarity and intentionality needed to achieve a more successful outcome.
Shifting from a complaint mode to a speculative mode, can improve the quality of our relationships in so many ways. I invite you to practice this skill this week. The next time you feel yourself getting frustrated and about to complain, ask yourself “How would I LOVE this be in a future situation?”. Once you are clear on what you want, think about what you can do to help make that situation happen. Help other people practice this skill as well. The next time someone is complaining to you, guide them through these speculative questions and see what happens.

I’d love to hear from you about how you practiced replacing complaints with speculative questions and what you have achieved through this process. Please post your experiences on below or directly email your comments to me.


Take Your Leadership (and Your Life) to the Next Level

Seven years ago, I made my first trip to the beautiful country of Ghana in West Africa. My desire to visit this place was so great that I was willing to separate from my nine month old twins for two weeks. I wanted to bring my babies back something truly special from the trip that would communicate the unique beauty of this country. Kofi, a graduate student from the University of Ghana, was given the unfortunate responsibility of taking me shopping. We went from store to store loking at the beautiful batik  clothing, trying to find the perfect outfit for my babies. I was surprised and confused that none of the outfits had sizes in them. Every five minutes I would hold up a gorgeous children’s outfit to Kofi and ask him if he thought it would fit a nine-month old. Kofi patiently and consistantly gave me the same answer “children grow.” While I was too preoccupied with shopping to understand the wisdom of Kofi’s response at the time, I have since reflected on it many times over.

Too often in our lives we ar so focused on the “right” fit in the present, ignoring the reality that people grow and what fits us today probably will not tomorrow. So we may need to readjust our understanding of the “right” fit to include things that are currently bigger, knowing that we will grow into them. The confidence and commitment to our personal development allows us to maximize our leadership and enjoyment of life.

What kind of a leader are you growing into?

At work maximizing our leadership implies embracing situations where we are given new responsibilities that are beyond our current skill set and experience. Promotions often place people beyond their current ability and skill set. You may be an excellent sales person with with a great sales record but that skill set does not immediately qualify you as a great manager, eventhough it’s your sales record that earned you the promotion.  Some of us may refuse to accept such opportunities for fear of no longer being “successful” while others assume that the promotion infers that no changes are necessary and eventually crash and burn. Yet, we each can successfully grow into our next level of leadership by equipping ourselves with new skills, knowledge, and experiences. To succsessfuly meet the challenges of our new position, we must fully embrace the fact that learning is a life long process.

However, this process of growing into the next level of leadership does not only apply to our careers. Relationships, especially those involving new roles like marriage and parenting, also require us to grow into new levels of leadership. The success of these relationships depends upon our willingness to constistantly retool ourselves to meet the emerging responsibilities and opportunities. Although children are born, great parents are not. People become great parents by opening themselves to learn new skills and developing new qualities that will be more effective in parenting that child. Parenting (marriage, friendship,ect.)  is a relationship between two people in which each person is acting, observing, and remodulating based on the other.

Innovation is a critical skill for your life.

Innovation is not only required for auto-dealers and technology companies, but for each one of us. So if we desire to sucesfully fulfill the new opportunities life presents to us, then reflection and revision become life long practices. When we are open to learn and challenge ourselves to innovate, we will sucessfully grow into ever increasing levels of leadership. Thus, expanding our ability to make a positive difference in the world.

So as you reflect on your current form of leadership in your career, family, organization, and community, consider how well your clothes fit. If there fit perfectly, if you are totally comfortable, I would encourage you to shop for a “bigger size”  because there is room for your to grow and expand your influence in this world.


The Perfect Trap

Don't let perfectionism rob you of your dreams.

Do you know the average number of times a person attempts to accomplish his/her goal? It is less than one time. Meaning that many of us have goals that we never begin to fulfill. I believe that one of the biggest killers of dreams is the trap of perfectionism.

Most of us dream of living full, exciting lives and accomplishing great things. We dream about creating more intimacy in our relationships. We dream about taking a new direction in our career. We dream about giving significant sums of money to the causes and people we care about. We dream about living a life of meaning that makes a positive difference in this world. But what steps are we taking to make our dreams a reality?

Too often we fail to act on our dreams because our goals are so big and we believe ourselves to be so small. We are waiting for the perfect time, the perfect situation, or the perfect version of us to appear so that we can fully pursue our goals. If you have not already realized this, let me tell you that perfect time will never come.

Don’t let the trap of perfectionism rob you of your ability to take action on your dream. You may not be able to do all that you want to do at this time, but there is something today that YOU CAN DO to bring you one step closer to your goal. Look up and see the numerous opportunities surrounding you and act on your dreams. HINT: these opportunities oftentimes come disguised as “challenges.”

When asked about what led her into a career of leadership, one of my mentors described it as “an annoying phone ringing that no one else would answer.” She saw an opportunity, disguised as a problem, and was willing to bring herself and all that she had to offer to the situation. This is the heart of leadership and the key to accomplishing your goals.

Will you answer the call?

What phones do you hear ringing within you? Don’t let your dreams die of neglect. The perfect time is NOW and the perfect person is YOU, no matter how problematic they both are. Getting into action on your goals will create the resources needed to fulfill them. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of a good and meaningful life. Bootstrap your way to success!






The 3P’s of Goal Setting

You cannot hit a target you don't define.

Reflecting on my past year and my goals for the new year, I re-read Brian Tracy’s famous book “Goals”. In this book he identified three principles that are necessary to “program our subconscious minds” to achieve our goals. I found this to be a valuable resource and wanted to share his suggestions with you as you embark on the process of casting your vision for the new year.

Tracy suggests that we write goals with the 3Ps in mind: present, positive, and personal. Writing goals using these three principles dramatically increases both the probability and speed with which we achieve our goals.

1. Present. Our goals are more effective in the present tense. Rather than saying “I will exercise three times per week”, we can say “I exercise three times per week”. By writing our goals as if we have already accomplished them, we practice seeing ourselves as successfully achieving our dreams. This is similar to the “mental rehearsals” that many high-performing athletes use to prepare themselves.

2. Positive. Our goals are more effective when written as positive statements. This is one principle that I have often broken in my previous goal setting activities. Stating goals positively means focusing on the presence of what we desire in our lives, not the absence of something we dislike. I’ve often included on my goal setting lists, statements such as “get rid of the clutter in the office”. However, if stated positively my goal would read “I have a clean and organized office.” I can literally feel the difference in my emotions when I switch to the positive statement. Stating goals positively takes our focus off what we don’t want and onto what we DO want. Remember what we focus on, gets magnified.

3. Personal. Our goals are more effective when stated using the word “I”. Instead of writing “my goal is…”, we can write ” I weigh X lbs., I am a nonsmoker, I am the senior administrator of X company”. Tracy describes the power of “I” statements as submitting a factory order to your subconscious mind who will immediately go to work trying to figure out how to deliver.

Goals are an important and powerful component of both success and happiness. I hope this helps you in writing better goals and achieving them. Happy New Year!