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 email@example.com
Overwhelmed? You know, that feeling of “emotional flooding” where your brain can’t wrap around all the things coming at you. I like to say that “overwhelmed” simply means “not broken down into small enough chunks for your brain to process.” And the consequence is typically paralysis: “shut down: system failure”. Or maybe a bit of a panic attack/freak out. Or a pity party, being a “task martyr”.
Even though we all experience a sense of overwhelm on occasion, it’s better to have a plan on the front end so that when (not if) it happens, we can calmly work our plan and not waste energy spinning our wheels or letting negative emotions grind our productivity to a halt.
Some ideas for your “dealing with overwhelm” plan:
- Recognize overwhelm when it is happening. The quicker you can read your emotional gauge and see that it’s running “a little hot”, the quicker you formulate a workable response to pull out of it. A lack of self-awareness is “an accident waiting for an intersection.”
- Vocalize it to self and someone else. There is something therapeutic about simply saying your emotional state aloud. “I am overwhelmed!” If you have a trusted friend, confidant at work, a great relationship with your supervisor, coach, or a success partner–that would be with whom to share your current state. If you are a person of faith, it’s time to pray. You can’t tame what you can’t name. And that starts the constructive path out of the ditch.
- Change your state. This is a phrase I got from motivational speaker Tony Robbins. You must do something to break the pattern of your spiraling negative thoughts and the email that keeps shouting at you with another task. Take a break. Go get a snack. Physically get your body in motion: take a walk. Do some deep breathing exercises. Listen to encouragement/inspiration with your earphones while slouching in your chair. Basically, it’s recharging your batteries with some me-time.
- Now it’s time to never waste a crisis. Dig inside for what is going on behind your emotion. Ask yourself, “What is scaring me the most? What’s driving this emotional reaction? What do I need right now?” Separate what’s out of your control (to put out of your mind asap) from what’s within your control (to do the next steps of developing a plan and focusing on it).
- Ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, that you are incapable of handling the stressors of your job. No, it’s a strength to have both the humility to know when you are over your head, and the leadership proficiency of delegation. Talk to your team. Talk to your supervisor, if appropriate. Tell them tasks that they can take off your plate to relieve your load right now. And discuss “What can be postponed/back-burnered?” until we get back to ground-zero.
- Reprioritize. Determine a filter for examining your to-do list and triaging tasks. Who is most important to respond to first? What is most urgent, so that others can meet their deadlines, or so that you don’t lose a client? Which consequences will be the worst if you don’t give that task attention? Make or update your to-do list, and doing it with pen/paper helps you do a brain dump and sort your thoughts. You may even want to get organized/file/clean your desk for 20 minutes to clear away the clutter that restricts you from a clear focus on these priorities you are narrowing in on. (I have a priority ranking tool, if you are interested.)
- Give yourself a pep talk. You are turning the corner from overwhelm to empowered. Reframe your situation positively to move forward. “I can do this!” “I’m gonna get as much of this done today as I can.”
- Get ‘er done! Take one next step on each priority. Move the ball down the field. Initiate the email. Schedule the meeting. Write the first paragraph. Most people say that they feel most confident when they are crossing things off their list.
What do you do when overwhelmed? Any of these, or do you have some go-to strategies? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also let me know if you want to be in my private Facebook group: “I am growing forward!” Would love to have you as a GFF (Growing Forward Friend) in the tribe!
Some people tend to think that getting a life coach isn’t something to be proud of because it signifies a loss of control in their lives. While a lot of people do seek help precisely because of this reason, the definition of life coaching certainly shouldn’t be limited. (more…)
Excellence: Your Continual Quest
By Paul D. Casey
Some days at work, I know that I can just live the “get-by life” (as coined by Jim Rohn): I know the right things to say in meetings, I keep up with emails, shuffle paperwork, bang out reports, and chit-chat with employees and colleagues. You know what I mean, right? I go home thinking: Did I move the ball forward? Did I make a difference? Or did I just take up space and “get-by”? I know I wasn’t intentional in pursuing excellence.
Excellence is defined as: to be superior in some area, to do extremely well, to surpass or outdo
When I looked up the definition in my hard copy of Webster’s dictionary (Yes, I actually grabbed the book off the shelf and didn’t Google or Wikipedia it!), I noticed something that produced the bones of this article: there were 3 words on the same page (page 459, to be exact) that further bring out what excellence means to me, and what it could continue to mean for you as you lead at work, at home, and in your community.
- Exceed: to go beyond in quality; to surpass others. Sometimes, this isn’t rewarded by our supervisors: The annual Dilbert contest winner came from a 3M manager: “No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We’ve been working on it for months. Now go act busy for a few weeks and I’ll let you know when it’s time to tell them.”
You and I pursue excellence when we exceed the standards with which we must comply–when those who have done the identical job stand back and go, “slow down, Dude, you’re making me look bad!”(That’s an actual quote an ex-government contractor technician heard from a co-worker before quitting to go into another field that appreciated excellence.) Sometimes that’s true: they say that you can always tell a pioneer—she’s the one with the arrows sticking out of her back. Those that “settle for” don’t always appreciate you when you go beyond.
If you have ever had a performance appraisal and gotten “exceeds expectations” instead of just “meets expectations”, you know you are on the right track and people are taking notice of the job well done you are performing regularly.
- Exceptional: Unusually excellent; extraordinary. One of the FISH principles is Make Their Day, a concept the guys at Pike Place Market in Seattle have built into their philosophy for obtaining customers and leaving people better than they came into their business.
It’s like when someone has a certain negative or so-so expectation, and then gets blown out of the water by their experience with you. This could be in making a huge deal in personalizing a reward. It could be the niceties you plug into and around a normally-boring seminar on technical issues that brighten up the participants’ attitudes. It could be how quickly you get the report done to your supervisor, when typically he/she would have to bug you up until the deadline. Being exceptional is a choice!
- Excitable: capable of responding to a stimulus. Some of your direct reports (and maybe some family members) may seem like they could never get excited about anything. But when was the last time you owned the fact that as a leader you have the responsibility of bringing out the best in each employee on your team? You can “excite” their best contribution, best ideas, best teamwork.
It’s all in the HOW you lead your one-to-one’s, how you coach and give feedback, and how you lead your meetings. People-development has to be one of your highest leverage activities (HLA’s for you who like acronyms!), and has the biggest return on investment—and best chance of engaged team members. Excite them with how you care about and value them and their success, and the vision you are calling them to.
So, a quick self-check in this last month of the year, which is a great opportunity to evaluate how your life is going in all aspects: What percentage of your time this year have you pursued excellence in all the roles you play at work and in life? 30, 60, 90 percent? Was the rest of the time living a get-by life—doing the job description but not working toward unmatched performance? Let that percentage be used as motivation for increased passion for the new year. Just say NO to survival and maintenance mode!
My 3 most ingrained core values as a life coach in Washington are faith, family, and growth. In the introduction, I confessed when I am living the get-by life at work. But on the flipside, when applied to my values, I worship a God of excellence—so I’m most like Him when I’m pursuing excellence. In my family life, I am an excellent father and husband when I intentionally am doing habits that are improving relationships. And in my own personal and professional growth, when I choose to read books/magazines, listen to audios/podcasts and network with great leaders, I am seeking to grow and become more excellent for the benefit of others.
Take some time to bask in the excellent results you have done and continue your pursuit of excellence, a pursuit that we must encourage each other to re-up every day in the New Year.
Bad habits are the bane of a productive life. No matter what goals you have set before you, harmful habits such as procrastination can hinder your path to becoming a successful leader. Essentially, the kind of life you are living today is a result of your habits. How in shape are you? How happy are you? How successful are you in your personal and professional realm? All of these are a result of the habits you practice daily.
Here in Eastern WA state, the cities have gone roundabout-wild. It seems there is a new one somewhere in town every month, and their hopes are that it improves the flow of traffic. Some people still make terrible blunders that almost cause accidents because of not paying attention, not understanding the rules of the road, or by just being selfish.
Using the metaphor of the roundabout, there are some great parallels for communication skills–besides just doing the opposite of those three maladies above. First, just like entering a roundabout cautiously, conversations should be entered softly, too. “Bulls in china shops” come on too strong, and everything goes downhill from there as receivers pull back and dig in defensively. Think “soft approach” for setting a better tone.
Second, it’s important in the roundabout to understand what the concept of yielding is. They got rid of the stop signs with hopes that drivers would make sure those already in the circle would be given the right of way before hitting their accelerator. It’s also crucial in conversations to listen first to the other person, making them feel understood, before trying to get your point across. Empathy helps grease the skids, too.
And third, signaling your exit of the roundabout is a very gracious gesture that communicates to those waiting what your car’s intention is going to be. And, in your dialogue with others, you can also give signals (often called body language and verbal cues) that shows you are tracking with them (like nodding and confirming), your interest (eye contact and urging them to continue), your confusion (puzzled look and request for clarification), and when you get “flooded” and need to call a time-out.
Three ways to improve your skills to keep the flow of communication positive and clear.
I’m looking for a few people who are feeling overwhelmed and could use a free, 45-minute Lower Your Stress strategy session in the next couple weeks. Take advantage of it (or share with a friend) through an email contact at email@example.com!