Tag Archives: growth

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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You Are Just a Few Degrees Away from Your Dreams

Can we really accomplish the changes that we want to see in our lives?

To borrow a refrain from President Obama’s campaign “YES WE CAN!” Change is possible and you have everything you need to bring about the changes of your dreams. As Tony Robbins explains in the video above, the difference between your current life and changes you desire is often 1-2 millimeters. Here you will find some resources to help you make these small but necessary changes.

A critical step in implementing permanent change is understanding the function of disempowering behavior. Disempowering behavior refers to any actions that stand between you and the person you want to be. As you attempt to implement positive change in your life, what specific habits/ behaviors interfer with your progress? These are the disempowering behaviors that must be addressed. Too often we rely on sheer will power to overcome disempowering behaviors. Yet will power always fails. It may bring us temporary success, but will power alone will never produce permanent change.

Analyzing our disempowering behaviors is essiential for our success because our brain works according to something known as positive intent. Positive intent means that our brains desire to create a positive experience for us and when we have an unmet need our brains will focus on experiences in the past that have met that need (even if these behaviors are no longer appropriate). For example, if we are feeling unloved or un-noticed, we may rely on a habit of whining or complaining to meet our legitimate need for love and attention, eventhough such behavior may no longer be appropriate and may strain our relationships. The law of positive intent requires that we understand why we habitually turn to these disempowering behaviors before we can overcome them. Trust me, ALL disempowering behavior fulfills some need and you would not continue this action if it did not fill a need for you in some way.

There are five needs theorized to be universal to all humans. Use the list below and identify which needs are being fulfilled by your disempowering behaviors. If you need assistance with this activity, please enlist the help of a friend or send me an email. The five needs that all humans share are:

1. the need to feel safe and secure
2. the need to be loved and be noticed
3. the need to be important and competent
4. the need to be autonomous and free
5. the need to feel worthy

I want 2011 to be a great year for you and that requires dealing head on with disempowering behaviors. I am hosting a live chat on twitter (tweetchat.com #7steps) to present the next step in overcoming your disempowering behaviors. Please reflect on the needs filled by your disempowering behaviors and join me on twitter tomorrow, March 22nd at 8pm (EST) to continue your journey toward making permanent positive change. If you have friends, co-workers, or relatives who have also expressed frustration at the process of creating positive change, please share this blog post with them and invite them to join us on 3/22 for step three in the seven step process of making permanent change.


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!


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.