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Tag: personal development

#24 Did your Employer Break a Promise to You?

June 19th, 2020 by

“It’s better to receive a smaller raise now so you can get a bigger raise later!” Have you heard, “Working 60+ hours a week without overtime is an opportunity for you to shine.” I could go on as you nod your head yes, but you get it. This common rhetoric is no laughing matter. How are you supposed to be a motivated, impactful employee when your employer breaks a promise to you?

A Grain of Salt

Imagine a time when your friend, spouse or loved one make a promise they didn’t keep. Were you devastated or disappointed? In hindsight, you might be able to see the signs clearly and you can’t believe you were so naïve. On the other hand, some people keep their promises. And you know you can count on them.

What about when your employer breaks a promise to you? First, for anyone to break a promise, a promise must be established up front. This is tricky and the nuances can be inconspicuous. Secondly, if your employer clearly makes a promise to you, it is your choice to believe or disbelieve. Sadly, employees tend towards believing the promise and simply hoping for the best. Lesson learned is that sometimes promises should be skeptically received with a grain of salt. Or several grains of salt.

Who Needs Promises

Where does that leave you, what are your options when your employer breaks a promise to you (see Post #21)? Rewind back to the point when your manager made this so-called promise. It was your self-obligation to decide if this promise was believable. Do you know how to find out if a promise is believable? You request the conditions in writing, to be signed by management. When the signed agreement is in your possession, congratulations, you have yourself a promise! If they don’t agree to their promise in writing … well, you can form your own conclusion.

Your management, by the way, is within their rights to tell you what they think you want to hear. They can promise the moon. The point is that people tell you things all the time. Your self-obligation is to use the best judgment and decide whether to believe. It’s a crappy road when your employer breaks a promise to you. The wrong question is, ”How could they do that to me?” The critical questions are, “Why did I want to believe their promise in the first place? How is it I put myself in that position?”

#23 Life Coaching Misconceptions

June 5th, 2020 by

I do not tell people what to do, I don’t offer advice and I’m not a therapist. Rather, I guide people down the path to discover answers for themselves. Life coaching misconceptions can deter you from this life-changing process; I will discuss two false beliefs.

My purpose as a life coach is to introduce people to themselves. You believe certain things about the world around you; you believe certain things about yourself. I hold up a mirror, ask you to reflect and I take your brain to places it has not been. The purpose of getting coached is that you get out of your own head, expand your myriad opportunities and become grounded so as to think in useful terms (see Post #18). This process transforms you into an emotionally mature, self-confident thinker who makes purposeful decisions. I’d like to clear up two common life coaching misconceptions in an attempt to be transparent with my coaching style. Note, I cannot speak for other life coaches; I speak for my own practice.

Myth 1: “We should be happy all the time.”
Accuracy: There is no good without the bad.

One hundred percent happiness is not an idea that I teach to my clients, nor do I believe it to be true. This is a typical life coaching misconception. In fact, my stance is that there is no good without the bad, there is no great without awful, and there is no happy without the sad. Part of our human experience includes contrast. It is a given that we are going to experience the full spectrum of emotional contrasts during our lives.

What my life coaching offers you is the ability to handle the awful parts of life and enjoy the positives. It teaches you how to think in a self-serving way despite your negative circumstances. You learn how to process emotions. When you understand where your emotions come from, you can use them to your advantage. Emotions are the fuel for our lives. Everything you do and say stems from the emotions stirring up inside you.

Myth 2: “We should set goals and achieve them so we can be happy.” Accuracy: Your reward is found in the journey, not the destination.

This life coaching misconception may leave you curious. Our typical society leads most of us to believe achievement is essential to our wellbeing. For example, it’s good to achieve a stellar grade point average, a high salary, a stable job, or a large house because that is what success ‘looks like’. We are fed messages throughout our lives that the achievement of tangibles or intangibles equates to happiness.

I teach my clients that while achievement can be a great thing, it is not the end all be all. This is true because after having achieved that wonderful goal or item, you think about the next one and you are left wanting more. When you derive fulfillment purely from the end achievement, you will never gain long-term satisfaction. Rather, you will be left with another empty void to fill.

The purpose of goals, my friends, is not to achieve happiness. Whether you achieve the goal itself is irrelevant! The purpose is to take yourself on an uncomfortable, demanding, self-discovery with bumps and traps along with way. Strategizing a way through obstacles is what forces you to grow and evolve. The harder the journey, the higher the reward. Achievement of a goal is simply a fun byproduct; the true reward comes from conquering your grueling obstacles.

#22 Have Trouble Saying No?

May 22nd, 2020 by

Do you find yourself saying yes when you secretly want to say no? Such as when your boss asks for your expertise on a thick draft knowing your plate is full. Or, an overseas customer would like your participation on a 4am conference call, at their convenience. You have trouble saying no and subsequently oblige because this is part of the job. Right?

The Dilemma

As a diligent, dependable employee, you have trouble saying no, whether in response to unreasonable requests or small favors. First, you welcome challenges that allow you to contribute solid results. Second, you feel pressured. After all, what were to happen if you said no? The only way to find out what would happen is to start saying no, but you don’t want to take the chance. Instead, you overcommit yourself to the point of exhaustion.

People-pleasers, those that have trouble saying no, reluctantly say yes at their own expense to gain favor with someone else. You are painfully aware that you don’t want to provide a service. Then you regretfully spend energy to perform this service, stealing your time away from things that matter. To add to your frustrations, you end up resenting the person for whom you provided this service. At the end of the day, you bitterly ask yourself why you have trouble saying no.

Internal Versus External Approval

Your justifications for saying yes will vary from, “they might fire me” to, “I can’t say no.” Whatever your reasons, they are rooted from the same issue: fear. You fear for your reputation, your job and your confidence (See Post #04). Fear can a powerful influential force, and others may use your fear to their own advantage.

Your fears are born from an inability to gain internal approval – you struggle to please yourself. You see, when an unwilling yes translates to gaining others’ approval, you are filling a void. This void includes a lack of self-respect and a lack of internal satisfaction with yourself. You fill this void by pleasing others, i.e., you strive for external approval. When colleagues, friends or bosses are happy with your capitulation, the urge to gain internal satisfaction ceases. Your deep-rooted fear grows over time as you consistently seek external approval.

You must be willing to be disliked by others so you can like yourself. Boss included.

#21 Do you Work with Incompetent Leadership?

May 8th, 2020 by

They have screwed up again. As you finished telling your colleague about a terrible management decision, leadership makes another bad call. You’re astonished at how some of them obtained their positions in the first place. More importantly, you wonder how long the company can sustain such ignorance. You keep asking, “How am I supposed to work with incompetent leadership?”

Truth or Narrative

Imagine asking every living adult if your leadership made a horrible decision. They will reply with yes, no, maybe and everything in between. Unless everyone were to agree that your management is incompetent, it’s only a belief you hold. Here’s another way to think about it: can you prove it in court? It is probable you are creating a narrative from which you feed if a court would not accuse your leadership of incompetency.

We have our own definitions of good versus bad leadership. Good to me is bad to you and vice-versa. When you are explicit about sharing your opinions, you are reinforcing a thought that feeds your mind. It is a subjective belief stirring about: “I have to work with incompetent leadership.” I challenge you to recognize your thinking and take ownership of your beliefs.

The Issue

Perhaps your leadership is incompetent; that is truly not the issue at heart. The stinging question you can ponder for yourself is, “How is this belief helping me?” What is the upside to believing you must deal with incompetent leadership, how is that thought moving you forward?

Life is easier when leadership makes decisions in your favor. When management decisions translate to a burdensome life, it seems logical to point the finger. However, consider opening up to alternate perspectives. For example, management decides on XYZ and it poses some unusual challenges. This is a perfect scenario to teach you about yourself, if you are willing (See Post #18). Can you be open to believing this is a teaching moment? What if this needed to happen as a catalyst for your self-development…is that possible?

Allow some self-compassion and mental space to be curious about your beliefs. You are like a player consistently trying out for your own life. Your attitude towards leadership is a function of how you feel about yourself.

#19 COVID Effects: Do you Secretly Wish to be Laid Off?

April 10th, 2020 by

Restaurants are only permitted to serve takeout, students must adjust to online learning and employees find themselves working from home. If they’re working at all. Many service and professional workers have been pushed out of their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You feel sympathy for the newly unemployed as they scramble to figure things out. However, in the midst of their unwelcome unemployment, you secretly wish to be laid off.

Old Problem Solved

In your mind, a forced layoff means you get to sever ties without submitting your 2 weeks’ notice. That solves many problems for you! First, it provides an easy explanation during future job interviews. “They laid me off due to COVID downsizing” seems to take responsibility away from you as the employee.

Second, your spouse has no control over your being laid off. If only your employer let you go, you wouldn’t have to convincingly persuade your spouse that your time is up. The third issue a layoff will resolve is your reticent desire to get the heck out of that place. You can create long list of reasons why it’s time to leave; or, perhaps you’re holding on to one significant reason. Your bottom line: secretly wishing to be laid off paves the easy way to other, more satisfying employment.

New Problem

My challenge to you: how will you handle similar circumstances in your new place of employment? Imagine this: pretend you eventually find a better job with a better salary and a better commute (see Post #08). You’re as happy as can be for several months – this is what you’ve always sought in a career… until it’s not.

How would you handle your new circumstance if, let’s say, one day you learn the company is sold? How would you handle a new boss, a reassignment to a new program, or a round of salary cuts? When a career checks all the boxes and life is well, you’re not challenged to evolve, grow or to practice self-awareness. It’s an insidious deceit for all of us when life operates as a well-oiled machine.

Adaptability

Even a well-oiled machine wears down and requires maintenance. Just when you believe that new job is perfect and meets all your requirements, one day you’ll find that it doesn’t. Will you then think about searching for the next one?

When you next job isn’t what you thought, are you going to secretly wish to be laid off again? A layoff (or a new job) may temporarily provide relief from current career woes. The best long-term solution, however, is to work on your mental adaptability skills. You will be a happier, more productive and resilient person if you adapt your brain to job circumstances rather than forcing job circumstances to adapt to your brain.

#18 Are You Coachable?

March 27th, 2020 by

There comes a time when you must admit you cannot figure something out – yes you! Will you persist and continue to try on your own, will you give up or will you ask for help? It’s a basic premise, but I encourage you to open yourself up to being coached by others.

You Decide: are you Coachable?

Are you coachable and why does it matter? I’ve seen unnecessary competition between colleagues in the office or on the shop floor. People who resist others’ suggestions or advice may feel threatened or inadequate. If you are willing to listen, to receive suggestions and to be wrong, then you are coachable. I challenge you to think about recent struggles and your willingness to face personal deficiencies. This vulnerable willingness allows you to accept the fact that others have knowledge you don’t. A coachable person is comfortable leaning on others and hearing multiple perspectives. As a result, coachable people gain wisdom and further their own knowledge base.

A Snapshot of Coaching

If you are open to being coached, here is a small taste of what it looks like. First, talk less and listen more. Second, own your mistakes and errors. It happens to everybody, but when you shy away or point fingers, you exacerbate your problem and appear foolish. It is not difficult to state that you messed up, you made a mistake and that it won’t happen again. Last, self-awareness plays a key role in your ability to be coached (see Post #03). Self-awareness is the ability to be cognitively present in the moment and recognize your interpretations of the world around you. It is a skill that enables you to acknowledge and deliberately choose your thoughts and reactions.

In conclusion, your ability to be coached by others will help propel your professional and personal well-being. Are you comfortable admitting you don’t have all the answers – are you coachable?

#17 Do You Think for Yourself?

March 13th, 2020 by

Do you embrace information without question, OR do you tend to think independently? I will talk about the differences and you can determine how these apply to your life.

Living a Programmed Life

Imagine the last time you openly challenged a theory, a boss or a customer. Our society, at times, does not advocate that you challenge status quo. You tend to conform to the norm when you don’t ask questions or perform your own investigations. When this happens, you are believing information as is or perhaps you don’t have time to verify. You probably like to be efficient, and right or wrong, it’s efficient to believe what you are told. It’s not efficient to question information that many embrace without the blink of an eye.

For example, have you ever questioned processes, policies or feedback at work? How about your faith or religious beliefs? Or marriage and the idea of rearing kids? And what about your financial dealings, such as 401ks, IRAs and other investments? The point here is that you have full control over your personal actions and beliefs – how often do you make decisions based on your own interpretation of knowledge? You run the risk of living by default when consistently conforming to ideas, customs and norms without question.

Think for Yourself

In contrast, an independent thinker tends to make deliberate, conscious decisions. And an independent thinker acknowledge their reasons for making such choices. If you think on your own behalf, you tend to question ideas, practices and status quo. This is not an easy practice because others generally don’t like to be challenged. And I am not suggesting you question everything and everyone in your life (see Post #12). Rather, I challenge you to thoughtfully ponder ideas, principles and the lifestyle you live by. Have these been chosen for you or by you?

In conclusion, we fall between the two extremes of accepting all information at face value vs questioning status quo. Where do you stand?

#16 The Power to Influence Others Around You

February 28th, 2020 by

No matter the job title, you will always be compelled to influence.  Whether entry-level or executive professional, your power to influence comes down to the same thing. This knowledge is critical over the course of your career. The power to influence will no doubt be one of the most practical tools in your professional toolkit.

Does Influence Apply to You?

First, why is influence so important?  On a high level, you obviously want your employees to act in a manner such that they accomplish their goals.  Perhaps you’re in mid management, and you don’t have so much authority.  As a mid-level manager, you request cooperation and many favors, thus, you deal with dynamic, shifting parts. When you own the power to influence, you avoid the hassles of begging and pleading, and you convey enthusiastic motivation.

As a junior or newer employee, your ability to influence is especially critical. The responsibility to learn your job rests on your shoulders (see Post #02). Learning your job requires cooperation from your colleagues. Therefore, your rate of success somewhat depends on the ability to influence others in your favor.

Your Power

Next, how do you influence, what does it take? You start with an emotional assessment of yourself, my friends, and it requires work!  You work to improve ALL the internal attributes that you can control within yourself.  Then, you lead by example when engaging with others.  What I mean is: you must like yourself first before you expect others to like you; you must respect yourself first before you expect others to respect you.

Would you like others to listen to you – then, follow your own lead.  Do you hope others will show positive attitudes – then, be positive.  Would it be fantastic if your employees were efficiently and enthusiastically productive?  Then YOU, as their leader, must first show you are efficiently and enthusiastically productive.  Love yourself first and foremost.  When you can learn the skills of self-love and self-respect, the power to influence falls into place.

Others will treat you based on the way they see you treating yourself. Teach others how you should be treated.

#15 What is your Level of Perfectionism?

February 14th, 2020 by

Some of us push perfectionism to the limit. We admire the way every object in the house has its assigned function and designated space. We don’t mind scrutinizing (or admiring) our work 10 times over just to be extra sure there are no mistakes. Others, however, are not-so-proud perfectionists. You may be familiar with triple and quadruple-checking our own work, and doing so from an uncomfortable feeling of fear. “What if something is incorrect or out of line?” you hauntingly wonder. 

The Root Cause

Perfectionistic tendencies may look different for every person. However, the common denominator for perfectionists boils down to one thing: self-worth. Self-worth, or lack thereof, comes from fear – i.e., “What will they think of me … what if I’m wrong … is my work good enough, etc.” Fear is rooted in self-doubt and insecurity. 

The more insecure you are with your existence, the more you want to prevent mistakes or answer for wrongdoings.  As mentioned, the root cause of your perfectionism comes from a lack of self-worth. Your answers to these questions are indicative of your own self-worth: what do you think of you, how do you view your worth as a human? 

Strive for Less than Perfect

The best way to mitigate perfectionism is to increase your self-worth. Imagine a world in which you are willing to embrace all feelings, positive and negative. Picture how your life would be different if you were comfortable with living an unapologetic, authentic life (see Post #18). 

No lying, no masking your feelings and no shaming yourself for being less than perfect. This is a self-confidence skill that is available to you.  It is a skill you can work toward building over time, similar to hiring a person trainer at the gym.

Perfectionism stems from fear; fear stems from self-doubt and insecurity; self-doubt and insecurity come from your self-worth.  When your self-confidence is sky high, my friends, then you have your own back no matter what. When your self-security is drastically improved, can you see how the need for perfectionism dwindles?

#14 Who is your Mentor?

January 31st, 2020 by

Who is your mentor? If your answer is, “I don’t know”, or “this is a silly question” or “I don’t need a mentor,” this post is for you. Mentors are part of your support network, and everybody needs support. They serve a special function in your life despite your age, capabilities or experiences.

Mentors are Critical to your Wellbeing

Perhaps you have experienced multiple employers, holding various titles in many environments. Congratulations for having broadened your professional portfolio. Perhaps you are retiring tomorrow. Or, maybe you are reading this and it’s your first week on the job. Despite your vast array of experiences, or lack thereof, a trusted mentor is essential to your professional or personal wellbeing.

Mentors can offer differing views and alternate perspectives. They may not necessarily be smarter, wiser, or better educated. That’s okay, a mentor doesn’t have to have surpassed your accomplishments. The reason mentors are important is because they will offer questions and pose solutions under the purview of their own life experiences. 

Open your Eyes

Your main decision-making tool is undoubtedly the own view of the world as you’ve experienced it. When allowing mentors to share their views, opinions, their successes and failures, you vicariously become educated through their lenses. Why does this matter? It matters because you are narrowly restricted to knowledge based on your limited experiences. Engaging with a mentor is like traveling to new places; your eyes will be open to possibilities you couldn’t have dreamt about (see Post #18).

So, who is your mentor and how are you going to find them? Whether you retire tomorrow or in 40 years, a mentor can help you stay grounded, motivated and open-minded. Open your eyes to others’ experiences and gain priceless knowledge!

The more you learn, the more you realize that which you don’t know.

#13 How Much Do You Depend on Your Employer?

January 17th, 2020 by

To what extent do you depend on your employer? Hmmm… they provide stability, security, and intellectual stimulation, correct? Perhaps you rely on your employer for happiness, identity or a way to pass the time? If you answer YES, you may be unnecessarily abdicating your personal power. Let’s take it back.

Who Holds the Power?

I challenge you to read this sentence several times, and analyze your thoughts around it: “I depend on my employer for nothing, I depend on my brain for everything.” What kind of feeling does this bring about? And, can this statement be true?

Your mentality, your actions and all choices have brought you to this moment in your life (see Post #17). In other words, your brain has produced your current status. Your employment is a result of your brain’s hard work and sacrifice; it is not a stroke of good luck. You should never feel “lucky” that you are employed – do not believe those words out of anyone’s mouth. Rather, your employment is a consequence you created by using the most powerful resource on the planet: your own BRAIN.

Depend on YOU

A dependence on your brain, not your employer, allows reasonable freedom to create a life uninhibited by employment constraints. For example, all will be okay should your employment unexpectedly disappear because you will calmly turn to your brain for answers. Just as important, a dependence on your brain affords you the confidence to respectfully say no to the boss when appropriate, or to happily go home after 40 hours of work. 

Your brain is designed to solve tough problems. A reliance on your own brainpower will allow you to become more robust, self-reliant and less stressed. When you discover the power of relying on yourself, as opposed to gripping tightly to your employer, the feeling of liberation embodies you.

One final thought to reinforce the self-serving idea that it’s impractical to depend on your employer. If you lose everything tomorrow, including your job, your money, your house … what will you do? I guarantee, you will turn to your brain for answers. Your employer serves as a temporary instrument. Remember: “I depend on my employer for nothing, I depend on my brain for everything.”