Small Things Make a Big Difference–guest blog by Chris Baker

Small Things Make a Big Difference–guest blog by Chris Baker

How are you doing?

Is 2021 panning out the way you hoped?

If you set a goal or made a New Year’s Resolution, how is that going?

I ask these questions because it is important to know what you are doing that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be. Of course, there are 3 keys to this being successful:

  1. Having a clear picture of where you want to go
  2. Being realistic and taking responsibility for where you are now
  3. Measuring and reviewing your progress on a daily basis

While this looks like a simple process, and it is, I urge you not to mistake this for meaning that it is easy, because it isn’t. You make ask: what is the difference between simple and easy? Simple means it is not complicated. If you follow the process it will work. Easy means you don’t need to concentrate or give it your full attention, and this definitely is not the case when you are pursuing your dreams.

Most people above the age of 11 or 12 do not have a clear picture of what they want from their life. You see, we are conditioned to accept things the way they are, and we are taught to play safe so that we don’t get hurt or, God forbid, fail! You should know that this is NOT the way that I think, nor the way that I teach my coaching clients to think. This is a closed, finite mindset which will probably lead to a life of regret where you say: “If only”, “what if” etc.

Remember this: You are where you are now as a result of the actions you have taken in the past. Every action has a consequence and you control what actions you take–so choose wisely. In the past I have been guilty of “sugar coating” my situation, believing that I was where I was because other people had done me wrong. This simply isn’t true. Yes, other people may not have your best interests at heart and therefore they may make decisions that affect you–but is everything a result of other people’s actions? No!

It is also true that most people do not review their current status daily and, if they do, they rarely accept responsibility for where they are. One of the best ways to do this is to start a journal. This doesn’t have to be a long and arduous task. Start by writing down what you are grateful for each day and what impact you had on others. Note what tasks you achieved and how this made you feel. Over time you can expand this if you want to, but the main thing is to be consistent and be honest with yourself.

Small daily actions repeated consistently over time will have a massive impact on the direction your life takes. What actions you need to take on a daily basis will depend on your departure point (where you are now) and your destination point (where you want to be)–so now is the time to get clear on what these points are so that you can starting putting into action the steps that you choose to take.

Your future is in your hands; so choose wisely, my friend. Go out and make a positive impact in the world and live the life that you choose.

Chris Baker
Founder – Release Your Unconscious
Developing Tomorrows Leaders Today”
407-347-7681
10 Monday Mindset Motivators–and All Week Long

10 Monday Mindset Motivators–and All Week Long

To be on the “top of your game” every day, you must have your thought patterns in the right place. Your thoughts turn into feelings with turn into actions and then into your results. 

What kind of mindset could you adopt, to better assure this will be a successful Monday (or any day!)?

  • I will not take myself so seriously. It’s OK to make mistakes; don’t put so much pressure on yourself as to be overwhelmed or in a negative space mentally/emotionally. Say, “This is temporary; there’s light at the end of this tunnel.”
  • I will take a break when I start to feel my energy dip.  “Put yourself in time-out.” You reach points of diminishing returns when you insist on pushing through and being productive when you are on empty.
  • I will stay on top of my goals/priorities. Go into another week/day feeling clear on “the plan” of what you want to accomplish. Make a short list of priorities. Clean off your desk and close your computer tabs, except for materials/resources you will need that relate to those priorities. Don’t waste time; begin ready for the day and focus!
  •  I will not letting my feelings control/define me. Adopt as much of a relaxed/at peace mindset as possible, knowing that you have the ability to take things as they come. Worry is destructive and gets you nowhere fast.
  • I will choose to be positive and solution-oriented.   Assuming good intentions of your family and colleagues puts you in a posture of curiosity and positivity. Choose happiness over the alternatives. You are not a victim and “everything is figure-out-able.”
  • I will not let fear take me down. Even if you have moments of impostor syndrome, you have a reservoir of confidence to tap into, based on your experience and wisdom. Self-talk: “I’m ready to take this on!” and  “I’m making a difference!”
  • I will be proactive vs. reactive. If it’s a task, show initiative and go after it, asking for help along the way. Don’t wait for a fire to be lit around you before you step up. Speak out a creative possibility. Have the difficult conversation before things get worse. Maintain an action mindset.
  • I will do something today to keep growing forward. Make time today and every day to learn, whether it be listening to a podcast while getting ready for work or while working out, carving out time to watch an inspirational video, or picking out a self-leadership book (or technical resource) to dive into. Be a little better today than you were yesterday.
  • I will have faith and hope that things will get better. This anticipation of brighter days pulls you forward into another day/week. A loss of hope leads to depression, which mires you in a pit of despair. Find things to look forward to: hobbies, trips, appointments with people that inspire you, conversations with God, etc.
  • I will put myself in others’ shoes. Everyone experiences hardship in their lives. You have no idea what they are going through. Assume they need encouragement and support—and give it liberally. Empathize with their situation and give grace. When you see things from others’ perspective, it softens yours; together, you might just collaborate to a win-win solution for both of you.

These 10 mindset motivators could be printed up and put on your dashboard, monitor, office door, or journal. Speak them into your life daily to set your intentions for the day. Brighter week ahead!

Want to chat about how coaching might lessen your stress and increase your peace of mind and productivity? Let’s see if the time is right for you. I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org

8 Things Not to Lose

8 Things Not to Lose

We’ve all lost our keys or wallet or sunglasses a time or two, and we’ve either found them or replaced them. However, there are less tangible things that absolutely must not be lost because of the negative consequences to living the best version of yourself AND the necessity of making the contribution you must make to the world.

Don’t lose your:

  • Hope. This is many of my clients’ one-word theme for 2021. You have to have hope to cope…with change, with disruption, with sudden left turns, with bad news. Hope isn’t blind optimism, but its element of reality plus the thinking that something good can come out of anything, is one of the best ways to build the character quality of resilience.
  • Cool. When our values get poked, we tend to react–and then regret how immaturely we behaved during our rant (and that’s if we are self-aware!). Make it a goal this year to be “difficult to offend”. As the Chinese proverb goes, “If it’s within your control, why be angry? And if it’s not within your control, why be angry.” Let ti roll off or address it with composure.
  • Faith. Many people grew up with some sort of faith experience in their homes, and some have decided it doesn’t serve them for some reason or another. That departure often creates a hole in one’s spirit. Faith in God, for me, springs from a gratefulness of what He’s done for me before and throughout my life and it’s is the foundation for any virtue that I want to express to the world.
  • Confidence. As I’m reading the book Presence by Amy Cuddy and studying the concept of executive presence in order to help the leaders I coach, I keep seeing how being your most authentic self leads to your self-confidence. The fear of entering whatever arena where you are hedging can be alleviated by reminding yourself how your motive is to add value to this situation and then doing your very best.
  • Vision. Drifting occurs when you lose your vision on the target: you get lethargic toward growth and development actions because you have forgotten your big WHY, or motive. Take the time in solitude to get re-acquainted to the compelling snapshot of the future toward which you want to go, in the various roles you play in your life. Write it down, post it, and goal-set off it.
  • Family. One of my clients said the quote the other day: “On your last day at this job, you will still have a full email in-box.” The to-do list never gets fully done; you never get fully caught-up. So, is it worth losing the daily moments with those you love the most, to do that one more task? There are glass balls (most important relationships) and rubber balls (less important tasks) on your plate; when the glass ones fall off, they break–and that damage is great. Let the rubber ones bounce back to your list tomorrow.
  • Self. Especially if you have some “pleaser” tendencies, you are tempted to live someone else’s script for your life. Always meeting someone else’s needs to the detriment of forsaking your own needs leads to emptiness. In the book Give and Take by Adam Grant, he shows the healthiest, most influential people are not the pure Givers (nor obviously the pure Takers), but those who give out of a full tank. Self-care and reconnection to your personal mission and vision are huge to avoid burnout, and better boundaries will empower your service to what matters most.
  • Focus. We all have a little attention deficit disorder in us, especially when we don’t really want to do our most important tasks/priorities. It’s so easy to “squirrel” to what’s shinier or easier. But, like a laser beam, focused energy can cut through the most difficult materials. You truly can make headway on your toughest tasks by blocking out time to do it, obeying your calendar when that time comes, removing distractions, and doing the deep work until crossing it off your list.

Which one needs deeper thought for you? Which one is your greatest temptation? You can’t tame what you can’t name. If you need a coach to help you process where you at right now in your life, ping me with an email to chat. I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org  Time to get back on track!

16 Daily Success Habits

16 Daily Success Habits

I queried my coaching clients last month for the habits they do every day in order to have a better chance at a typical day being successful. It’s important to do them every day and be fully present/invested in them in order to get the cumulative effect of them on your life.

Outside of work:

  • Exercising regularly: this habit was mentioned the most often by my clients–some choose the morning, others at lunch time to rejuvenate their afternoons, and others, right after work
  • Journaling: a place to write down feelings, learnings, chronology of your life
  • Drinking more water: having that water bottle/hydroflask always within arm’s reach
  • Eating healthier: most are making small changes, from cutting out most sugar, to eating breakfast daily, to intermittent fasting.
  • Going to sleep earlier; getting up earlier: not wasting time by staying up late, but instead “getting after it” first thing in the morning
  • Doing spiritual practices: some found that Bible-reading, meditation, or prayer set the tone for a great day by setting positive intentions
  • Prioritizing Me-time: some solitude just for self without obligations to family or anyone else, for personal recharging

At work:

  • Refreshing the to-do list, then setting priorities and reminders: some kind of daily review/preview was the next highest response for success; clients wanted to stay current with what was most important to pursue and not let it fall off their radar screens
  • Checking in/engaging with someone: especially while tele-working, it takes effort–but well-worth the effort–to connect with a colleague, supervisor, or direct report
  • Allotting uninterrupted blocks of time for productivity; getting action items crossed off the list; getting a project to a milestone: blocking time for specific tasks is a time management superpower; honoring those appointments with yourself takes discipline–but the results are completed tasks, a great “reward”!
  • Allotting uninterrupted blocks of time for strategic thinking: most leaders know they need this time, but it’s tough to protect the time for thinking through ideas or next steps or a better vision for the future of the organization or team
  • Following up: this habit builds trust when you do what you say you will do; it’s also important for closing loops, and for assuring delegated tasks are moving along toward completion
  • Responding to communications promptly: it’s vital to not be the bottle-neck in someone else getting down their critical path to their task or project; answer those emails and text messages!
  • Staying organized: letting paperwork or email get out of control only doubles your stress; make systems for everything–and work your systems daily–in order to stay on top of everything
  • Developing a team member, matching their strengths to tasks: great leaders spend a little time each day helping a team member move forward on their goals or career plan, removing obstacles or making connections for them or pointing them to resources for growth
  • Bringing energy/enthusiasm/inspiration to someone else: teams become shadows of their leaders–so, by projecting enthusiasm onto others, it can become contagious–and who wants to follow an uninspired leader?

It’s a great list to pick from! How many of these do you practice regularly? What new habit do you want to incorporate this month? Let’s interact at growingforward@paulcasey.org or at Growing Forward Services on Facebook.

Books I Read I Recommend from 2020

Books I Read I Recommend from 2020

So, yeah, I “nerd-out on non-fiction”: primarily reading personal growth and leadership books, and 2020 was no exception, reading 45 books–some, while exercising, on Audible, some on the local library Libby app, and the rest, in my morning routine by paperback/hard cover.

My habit is to highlight pieces of books that impact me so that I can journal those takeaways later in the year, giving the information time to “settle” in my brain; then, the next year I cull those journaled gems and file them by category for use in my trainings, blogs, radio spots, or to make into a mini-book in the future.

For those of you who are looking for a good read in 2021, here are some of the ones I enjoyed from the first half of last year.

  • Jump Start Your Growth by John Maxwell
  • The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
  • Instinct by T.D. Jakes
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • Switch by Chip/Dan Heath
  • Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki
  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott
  • The Courageous Leader by Angela Sebaly
  • Principles by Ray Dalio
  • Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
  • The 21 Most Important Minutes in a Leader’s Day by John Maxwell
  • Life is Good: the Book by Bert/John Jacobs

Stay tuned for part 2 of my recommends, later in the spring. This should get you started. I’d love to know your non-fiction “keepers” that shaped your thinking in the past year. Please comment in Facebook on the Growing Forward Services page, and LIKE it if you haven’t yet done so, pretty please.

18 Agile Actions I Took in 2020

18 Agile Actions I Took in 2020

I just finished my annual planning day, and am very excited to share with you some reflections about how I adjusted to this crazy year, to make it one that I can look back on with gratitude instead of negativity. Although I’m typically a beaver-golden retriever personality style (CS on the DISC) who likes my routines once I find effective ones, I do experiment with habits to keep my life interesting–tossing out what doesn’t serve me well and incorporating what does. That became increasingly important in 2020 when so many things turned upside-down, and the tendency was to focus on what we didn’t have instead of what choices we still had/have.

Hoping that my list might help you see how you made some pivots for the better this year, too–or ones that might influence the goals you will be setting for yourself this week for a new year’s fresh start.

Health/Wellness

  1. Creative exercising. When the gyms closed, it was a real let-down as I use my gym time as me-time, personal-development time (with podcasts/audio books) and fitness time–then it was gone! I walked my neighborhood every possible way, hiked local Badger Mtn and bicycled more than usual, found The Body Project videos on-line to exercise to, and escaped the Tri-Cities to some beautiful place in the NW for hiking with a mask on.
  2.  Re-upping the diet. While I didn’t gain 19 lbs in COVID-19, I still got to a weight that didn’t make me feel my best–mostly from so many sedentary Zoom appointments. In late October, I re-committed to losing that extra weight, and now need to push to get to a healthy weight in early 2021.
  3. Chiropractic care. After a few years of unresolvable neck/shoulder tension, including trying massage therapy, I bit the bullet and walked into my local chiropractor. I was nervous, and it’s unsettling at first to get adjusted, but it really made the difference to getting a nagging physical issue dealt with.
  4. Dental surgery. Another thing I was putting off was getting a gum gap in the back of my mouth addressed so that infections would not creep in. I dread the dentist as it is, but this one was a much bigger oral surgery. Glad I did it, and it made sense to do during quarantine when I wasn’t giving in-person presentations.
  5. Expensive pillow. Yes, I bought a $100 pillow. I knew the research was saying how sleep was even more important during lockdown than it was before; so I invested in a quality pillow to better ensure quality sleep–to attack each day out of abundance of rest.
  6. Clean comedians. I needed to laugh more since I couldn’t laugh in person with friends like in past years. On Sirius XM radio, there is a LaughU channel that I turned on first whenever I got into my car (which was much less often). People probably wondered about me, as I laughed out loud while alone in my vehicle. But it was good for mental health!
  7. Social connections. With everyone behind their own closed doors, friendships suffered. Networking events ended. Fundraisers went virtual. My wife and I found some friends who were willing to let us into their bubble and get together outside or in limited capacity restaurants in the fall. This was HUGE for exiting isolation for a couple hours here and there and laughing/commiserating with friends–especially because we became empty nesters this year.
Personal growth
      8.  Coaching. Since I’m a coach, and I believe everyone needs a coach to maximize their potential, I re-upped having a coach, too. I chose the coach who got me started in the business back in 2011, and utilized him as a sounding board all year every other week.
      9.  Podcasts vs. audio books. I went back and forth throughout the year on these 2 ways to learn through earphones. Podcasts give me short burst of ideas and inspiration and keep me current, while I can go deeper on a topic by listening to an audio book. I discovered Mid-Columbia Library’s Libby app for renting audio books for free, as well as utilizing my one credit per month on Audible.
      10. Certifications. With no in-person conferences this year–where I normally light up my creativity–I had to find another way to obtain skills to be more of a help to my clients and prospective clients. I chose to get 2 certifications virtually: Extended DISC (behavioral style) and Emotional Intelligence Quotient. Now I can offer the assessment and the debrief to an individual client or a team going (growing) forward–2 more tools in my facilitator toolbelt.
Business leadership
      11. Outsourcing. One of the key ways I know I must do to scale my business as a solopreneur is to build a team, and it starts with outsourcing to contractors who are way better at their craft than I am on that aspect of my business. Instead of sloshing through tasks that take me twice as long, I continue to find contractors to relieve some of my load.
      12. Office re-organization. Knowing I was “stuck at home” for an undetermined period of time, in late March I decided to move the layout of my office to create more space to spread out–and for a better background for Zoom calls (though it’s fun to put virtual backgrounds of past vacations behind me). What a difference! Everything is more accessible! I also ended having a rented office across town, and utilized FUSE (a local co-working space) for whenever I needed a conference room.
      13. Thriving While Teleworking. Responding to the need in the community, I got a lot of “mileage” from developing this seminar in early April, using it for big and small organizations, helping people be healthy as they began their tele-working “new normal”. I added humor and tried to show how much I cared about them being successful at home.
      14. Quarterly planning. With everything seeming to be changing so quickly, I decided to add quarterly planning retreats to my calendar in July and October, booking a room in a local hotel, and spending time recapping the highlights of the last quarter, and goal-setting what I could actually accomplish in the next 90 days. I will definitely keep this new habit, adding it to my daily, weekly, monthly and annual review/previews.
      15. Thematic goal for the new year. Each year I pick a word or phrase to be my theme for the upcoming year–something visionary and compelling that draws me into it, all year long. After reflecting on what went well and what I struggled with in 2020, I chose a theme for 2021 to specifically go after that.  Then I made 3 objectives under which to set action items/next steps to keep chipping away at throughout the year. A friend told me about Notion, an app for tracking goals–so I’m trying it.
And finally,
      16. Grocery-delivery. At the beginning and end of the COVID year, we utilized grocery delivery, which saved both shopping time and germs from encroaching on our lives. So convenient to having it dropped at the door!
      17. Date nights. We are officially empty nesters, with my daughter graduating virtually in 2020. Whoo-hoo! However, I still love my young adult kiddos and decided to do date nights with them, like I do with Laura, every 10 days or so–even if it’s just takeout food and playing a game.
      18. Being generous. I fully embraced the non-profit moves to online fundraisers, participating in as many silent auctions as possible. I feel everyone wins with an auction: the donor of the item, me (the purchaser of the item), and the non-profit. Got some fun stuff, too. This I added in addition to giving regularly to my church and a handful of other non-profits in town.
Hope those were at least interesting, if nothing else, to read through–and that you saw where you, too, tried new things to either cope or thrive when so many fun things were off-limits. Let’s dialogue about yours. I can be reached at growingforward@paulcasey.org     Happy New Year! Time to turn the corner!

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