What Employees Don’t Need from you in this Moment

We care about our employees. And from that place, we regularly offer advice on what they can do to deal with the difficulty of this moment.

Here are some things I have heard lately:

  • Tough through it. Tough times won’t last.
  • Find a way to focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.
  • Just be happy because it could be worse.
  • Change your attitude; stop being so negative.
  • You have to have stamina and grit or every tough situation will take you down.
  • Just get back up and keep going. That’s what successful people do.

To be honest, these are incredibly unhelpful.

In most cases, your employees are aware of all of this “wisdom.” They know WHAT they should do, the challenge is they don’t know HOW to do it, especially in today’s world. That is really what they want and need from you: guidance to navigate the challenging situation we’re all in that no one could have predicted.

So instead of telling them what to do, help them learn how to do it. Here are three ways to shift from the WHAT to the HOW.

  1. Be present. Most of us don’t know how to be in this moment because we don’t really know our abilities – the things that are part of us to help us in this exact moment. To help employees learn to tune in to themselves, offer some self-awareness training. Engage a coach to lead them through developing an inventory of abilities or use an online assessment. Make time to debrief the results and help employees see HOW to use their abilities to deal with today’s tough times. Someone who is organized, for example, can use that ability to calmly stay in control of daily activities. Someone who is empathetic can help others talk through their challenges and feelings. Someone who is more direct can use that ability to cut through the fluff and get the answers and guidance the company needs. We are all more talented and capable than we know. Your employees can’t use what they don’t know, so give them the tools to help them fill in the blanks about who they are.
  2. Understand the moment. The real issue is that we are in challenging times that make us feel that we have little or no control. This activates our limbic brain, the part of the brain that reverts to safety and caution, so we are routinely in fight, flight or freeze reactions. Everything seems amplified and more difficult from that mindset. So, the shift in mindset is HOW to deal with this moment. This first starts with understanding. Share with employees why they are feeling this way, that this is normal in a period of extended stress and that most others are in this same situation. This prepares them for HOW to take action in our next step.
  3. Develop a toolbox of success habits. This is where you can help your employees develop tangible actions that help them actually develop stamina and grit, how to improve their attitude and how to be grateful for what they have.

 Here are some options of HOW to rally in tough times that I share with my clients, as well as a few ideas they’ve shared with me:

  • Develop a gratitude practice by starting and ending each day with a list of 5 things you are grateful for, including your abilities; share this with a family member or friend.
  • Develop a practice to breathe deeply when you encounter a challenge (breathe in for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4; do as often as is needed).
  • Develop a network of people (phone a friend) to check in on (they need your help to help them out of feeling sorry for themselves; you need their help to help you stop feeling sorry for yourself). Do this as often as needed.
  • Develop a connection to nature (nature delivers a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week distraction to shift out of challenge and on to beauty).
  • Exercise or do yoga to shift your mind off the stresses of the day and onto your health and wellbeing (invite a friend).
  • Journal or write about your thoughts, feelings and emotions to better understand them and to gain context.
  • Focus on a celebration or great time that has recently happened. Dream of how to do something like it again.

Gather and share more ideas so all employees have a start in HOW to change their attitude about what is happening to show up more energized and excited, even when they face tough and challenging times.

Most of us don’t know how strong, resilient and adaptable we are until we go head-to-head with tough times. Then, with some tools and some guidance, we find that we are able to rally – to dig deeper and find that we are, as A.A. Milne shares in his famous quote, “braver than we believe, stronger than we seem and smarter than we think.”

Take Action
Your employees don’t need you to remind them WHAT they should be doing; they really need you to help them with HOW to do it. Consider developing a company initiative to address HOW to help employees stay upbeat, focused and energized, even when the world around them is tough. This is one of the greatest values you can create for an employee – a value they will actively take and use everywhere in life.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading What You Don’t Know About Your Employee is Impacting Your Team’s Performance

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Watch our video on YouTube.

When the Bully Boss Intrudes at Home

A majority of the working world does their work from home. When we were all sent to the safety of our homes at the start of the COVID pandemic last year, organizations rushed to find a way to ensure the work would still get done. And a lot of them succeeded.

But there was an unforeseen consequence to the shift to the remote world: inviting the Bully Boss into your home.

A Bully Boss is one of the most challenging bullies people can face in their lives. They’re mean and ruthless, unafraid to point out a person’s flaws to the largest audience possible without offering any guidance into how improvements can be made. They’re loud, they scream and they’re quick to anger. They can be manipulative and love to point the finger instead of accepting blame or admitting mistakes.

Though this sounds like any type of bully, the big difference in a schoolyard bully and a Bully Boss is this: they have a direct impact on your ability to make a living.

For this reason, many people just grin and bear it, pushing through the mental beating day after day because they need the paycheck. And they look forward to the end of the day when they can escape to the restorative place they call home. Some would call this a hostile workplace.

When you work for a Bully Boss, your home becomes your safe haven, your sanctuary, the place where you can escape from their wrath and get refocused and re-energized before the next day.

But now that you work at home? Your Bully Boss has direct access to you any time they want. They’ve intruded into your safe space, erasing the line you precariously drew to keep work and life separate for your mental wellbeing.

So how do you manage the Bully Boss when your safe haven is now your workspace?

Here are 3 ways to shift your mindset to manage the presence of the Bully Boss in your home.

1. Find your voice.
Up until now, actively trying to avoid the Bully Boss, especially if they were having a particularly bad day, became almost an office game. Just like buzzword bingo, the game created a sense of unity with those you worked with. People would tell you where the Bully Boss was headed or where they were so you could take the long way around. You knew to keep your head down and avoid eye contact.

But now, when the Bully Boss wants you, there’s no hiding. They have direct access to you. They can email you repeatedly, ping you on a messenger app or use Zoom for face-to-face discussions. There’s little escape here. This may seem particularly daunting, especially when you lose your squad; no one has insight into who the Bully Boss will zoom in on next.

But when you’re at home, you’re able to tap into a unique strength: your space. You can decide how you will and won’t be treated in your own home. Use this as your launching pad to decide the type of language and behavior you expect in your home and embody it. Use it to find your voice.

This doesn’t necessarily mean telling them off. Start small. Recognize the tone you’re using and the words you choose to use. Keep your language positive and upbeat. Lean into that restorative energy your home provides to use your voice in a productive way. Sometimes, that positive shift in your voice unintentionally boosts your confidence and can easily rub off on those around you.

2. Take control of your image.
I mean this literally. Since so many organizations rely on Zoom and other video chat options to engage with each other face-to-face, take control of the image you want your Bully Boss – and other colleagues – to see. When you dial into a video call, you know everyone looks at the image behind you, so think ahead: what do you want them to see? Whether it’s your home office organized or decorated a certain way, or even just a personalized background image, take control of the image you project. Similar to your word choice and tone, knowing you control your image can also create a confidence boost, letting you show up stronger and more engaged, regardless of what the Bully Boss might be throwing your way.

3. You don’t live with them.
At the end of the day, it’s all about perspective. Yes, they are still your boss and yes, they have intruded on your private space. But here’s the great silver lining: you don’t live with them. You can log off and walk away from your desk with the peace of mind that they don’t live there. If nothing else, this should give you an instant boost in morale and confidence that you can control just how much they see of your space and how much you’re willing to let their behavior impact you in your own home.

Though these tips are helpful to manage your response and approach to dealing with a Bully Boss, sometimes, your physical and mental health are threatened and you requires an intentional next step: be prepared to make a change if necessary. It all comes down to your physical, mental and emotional health. Remember the adage, “people quit people before they quit companies.” If you like working at your company, determine if you can transfer to a different department or team. If you’re looking for a completely fresh start, create a list of potential organizations that would be a fit for you and start exploring new options.

You are worth the support, care and encouragement of a great boss. You never should put up with a bully – anywhere in life – but particularly in the workplace.

Do you work for a Bully Boss? Take our quiz to find out.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How You Act Won’t Influence How I Show Up

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Step Into Their Shoes

There’s a lot happening in the world and now, more than ever, organizations are encountering a very frustrating situation: distracted employees.

Distracted employees often don’t perform to their best and can be extremely short-tempered. But what they don’t need is a manager or leadership meeting them at this level.

What they need is someone to step into their shoes to understand what’s distracting them, to understand what life is like for them, to ask “How can I help?”

If you consider our theme at The Forte Factor this month (Lead with Love), this ties into it beautifully. Because leading with love doesn’t mean romantic interest, and it also doesn’t mean you’re soft. It actually just means that you care.

Think about the impact caring can have on a particularly distracted or stressed employee. You’ll not only help them get to a solution that will genuinely help them, but you’ll also create loyalty and respect, too.

 

Watch the video

 

Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/kvvRdMCs-M8.

Consider reading How You Act Won’t Influence How I Show Up

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The Rush of it All

The alarm goes off at 5 a.m.
It’s time to get up to exercise.
It may just seem trivial to some
That I try manage these wide family thighs.

Then off to the shower to get ready for the day
Before the kids start to yell for me,
I’ll be lucky if I’m dressed with my hair all brushed
Before the first one barges in to go pee.

Ok, where are your clothes? It’s time to get dressed!
It’s like a new game every day.
They travel to each other’s rooms
Leaving toys in their wake as they play.

Into the kitchen for some breakfast
Quick! Before the hangry sets in.
Bickering over what to eat and who eats first
As I sidestep toys ejected from the toy bin

Then it’s off to the races! We’re late again.
How did it take so long to put on your shoes?
The car, at least, is warm this very cold morning
Oh great, the baby just went poo.

Back into the house for a quick diaper change
The other two yell “it’s time to go, hurry up!”
Oh dear, they’re sounding more like me every day
And in the exit rush I forget my fragrant coffee cup.

The ride to school is uneventful
Not usually the norm.
Then we get there and, oh geez, what did you forget?
I swear, one day, they will take this world by storm.

Then a shift of the mindset
As I set off on my way to work,
But incessant reminders of what to do at home
In my mind it all lurks.

And just like that, it’s time to go home
The day goes by in a flash.
The to do list for work is somehow longer now
Things in work and in life do nothing but clash.

A review of the day with each of the kids
And a snack, or two or three
Then I make a healthy dinner
That, realistically, the only one who will eat is me.

A quick clean up as I clear the table
And the kids all set off to play.
I cringe as I hear the sound of things crashing
Knowing I’ll find toys left where they lay.

We clean the playroom together
Then it’s time for tubbies, our prayers and books.
They ask for one more story
And exchange mischievous looks.

I see through their ploy, I know this game!
I was a kid once, too.
I kiss each of them on their heads
And tell them “I love you.”

I close the door behind me,
Running through what still needs to get done.
Then I power through the must-dos
So I can try to get in a late run.

Ok, the run won’t happen,
I have to get back to work.
I open the laptop and find 25 new emails!?
“Pretend you don’t see them,” I think with a smirk.

But the responsible side of me wins out
Just like it always seems to do.
Then work is all done and I’m finally in bed,
When a little voice yells, “Mommy, I need you!”

I shuffle to his room to see what I can do
To help him get back to sleep.
And though I’m exhausted and can barely think,
Him snuggled up against me is a treasure I will always keep.

As I lay there,  a list of things to do swirl in my mind
And some, I know, just can’t wait.
So at 2:30 a.m., I head downstairs
To throw in some cookies to bake.

Might as well get some laundry done, too
I think to myself as I wait.
Oh my God, did I just make cookies?
I think I promised them cupcakes!

Tasks are done, I’ve read for a bit.
Now I head back upstairs to bed.
My alarm starts to ding, it’s 5 a.m. already?
I sigh, “Let’s go,” I say to myself in my head.

Though busy and sometimes crazy
At this moment, this is just the way.
There is always so much to do
But I wouldn’t change a single moment from any of our days.

So the lesson for you is that in the rush of all,
Don’t forget to stop and notice the little things that make up your day.
The kids who lovingly call you Mom,
And the way they still ask you to come play.

The chores will always be there,
The laundry, the dishes and the toys to be picked up.
But you can get caught up in the rush of it all
If you don’t remember to look up.

 

How Do You Love Your Employees When They Are Unloveable?

Employees are distracted, not bringing their best to their day. They’re flippant and aggravating, and management is meeting them at this level. It has created an intolerable workplace.

Sound familiar?

So how do you love your employees when they’re unloveable (and that’s the way a lot of employees are acting at this moment)?

VIDEO: How to Love the Unloveable Employee

In line with our theme Lead with Love this month, our CEO and Certified Business and Executive Coach Jay Forte shares his thoughts in a short video on what you can do — as managers and leaders — to guide the unloveable employee back into being loveable through a culture that supports them and holds them accountable.

Watch the video.

 

Consider reading Staying Optimistic and Hopeful in Down Times

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Be the Problem-Finder

“Don’t go looking for problems that don’t exist.”

“Don’t make a mountain out of mole hill.”

How many times have we been told in our lives to not make an issue bigger than it needs to be? And sure, this is great when you’re working through a challenge, you’re stuck in a rut or you’re just working through big emotions. The reminder that a specific event doesn’t need to be your mountain to climb can help you get through it.

But consider this: the problem-finders are often the greatest innovators in the world.

I read an article recently that highlighted that the combination of technology, innovators and the coronavirus has created a seismic shift in the way we work, learn and live. We were challenged to finding ways to work from home, to learn from home and to navigate challenges of life all at the same time.

And we found a way.

This is because, at our core, we can all be problem solvers.

The people, however, who take this to the next level, who seek out the problems waiting to happen, are the innovators.

So let’s imagine that instead of telling our children to stop looking for problems, to stop asking questions or to stop looking for trouble, what if we let them do it? What if we encouraged our kids to not only call out a problem, but learn to be accountable to at least start to solve it? Stop and notice what is going on in your world, consider what could improve it, then act to make it better.

I bet we’d inspire a new generation of problem-finders and problem solvers – some call these entrepreneurs – ready to create a product or service for something we never knew we needed but now can’t live without.

What if we encouraged our kids to find that mountain to climb and challenged them to keep asking questions?

Imagine what a world this could be.

Take Action
The next time you find yourself helping your kid(s) find a solution to a problem, ask yourself why. Are you doing it because they are struggling? Or is it because they’re taking too long?

If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably find the answer is that they are taking too long. Give them space and time to seek out their own answers and they’ll most likely surprise you with what they come up with. It helps them develop their self-belief, a skill that will serve them well throughout life.

Try doing this for yourself, too. Don’t get frustrated when you can’t figure something out. Try various mindful practices. Go for a walk. Journal. Shift your brain entirely. When you aren’t forcing a solution to show up in a specific amount of time, you just might find the game changer.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How to Solve Any Challenge You Face (Really!)

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Three Things COVID Taught Me About What Really Matters

Catastrophes can be epic teachers, and a crisis can be a great job interview. They test us in ways to make us really tap into our greatest strengths and show up in ways that may even surprise us. We also see who rallies and who checks out.

These tough times have a lot to share with us if we are willing to tune in, pay attention and learn.

Though there are so many negatives connected to COVID, I believe that in every event, there is always something to learn, appreciate and connect with.

Here are the three most important things COVID has taught me about what really matters in work and life.

1. People matter most so always lead with love. Life is fragile. The people that aggravated you yesterday by eating your lunch from the office fridge, or took credit for a project or even forgot to say good morning as they walked by may become a statistic of this moment. The challenge of this moment reminds us to lead with love in our communication, kindness in our actions and care in our thoughts.

In this context, love isn’t romantic. It is a deep caring. It is intentional interest. It is profound concern. It is great joy. We are social beings and want and need people in our lives. In the tough moments, focus more on who they could be than who they are. Everyone is struggling in some way, so what others may deliver to you might be because of a stressed moment. It may be more the moment speaking than the person. Remember this.

2. Each of us has amazing gifts that will help us in this exact moment. When confronted with a challenge, we need to learn how to see it as our MacGyver moment – our moment to use everything we know and have to make something important happen. It might be the humor that someone on your team has that keeps everyone’s moods up to help them all through the workday. It might be the gift of staying calm that is shared with others to help them learn how to manage their anxiety. It might be the ability to ask great questions and listen generously to help others feel heard and supported as they struggle with the anxiety and fears of the moment. It may be the detail-focused person who knows every detail about staying safe in COVID and has ensured your workplace is the best it can be.

We each have our things that we are masters at. Tough times help us notice and use these to benefit ourselves and others.

3. Life makes no promises; it just provides opportunities. Not only is life short, but it has few, if any, guarantees. It doesn’t promise that good things happen to good people. It doesn’t promise to be fair or that you should be happy every day. It delivers what it delivers. Each moment of each day is an opportunity to use what comes our way to make something good.

I am reminded of what my dad required of my five siblings and me. He shared that it was our job to pay attention in life – not to judge it – but to see it for whatever it was. Then, we were to ask ourselves what could we do to make this better?, then act on it. It was our obligation to stop and notice ourselves and our world and see the opportunities in each. Where could I be better? What could I help with to make something in my world better? Start to list the opportunities that are present in your days. It will help you see the world through an opportunity focus and, as a result, tough times will deliver something valuable.

Take Action
COVID, like everything, is a teacher. But for the lessons to take hold, we have to be willing learners. Learning requires an attitude and openness to see what is possible. It takes effort to change our perspective about negative or challenging events to seeing something good in them. When we do, we find that every event in life has something important to share – a success to celebrate or a lesson to learn. The way to be part of it is to fully engage with it – not just the good times, but all of the times. So instead of the expression Live, Love, Learn, maybe a better way to share it is Learn so you can Love so you can Live.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading A Recap: Five Rules for A Really Great Life in 2020

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How You Act Won’t Influence How I Show Up

If you watch the Bravo Channel, you regularly see deckhands, housewives and roommates in full react mode, screaming and yelling because of something someone said or did.

And we see this daily in real-life: in a store when someone refuses to wear their mask, on a highway when someone cuts another person off, a comment on social media. Kaboom. An explosion of self-unregulated ire. Tit for tat. Retaliation. All-out war.

We have all become so accustomed to being activated by the actions of others that we don’t even realize when someone affects us in an unproductive way.

The real question is why? Why do we let others yang us here and there, activate us to lose our cool so we act in ways we say are against our values, and do and say things we regret?

This past year was so full of challenges that it’s little wonder we are all super stressed. And because of that constant stress, it really doesn’t take much to flip the switch and set us off. Our quick triggers, coupled with an increased social acceptance of bad behaviors, has led to little or no self-regulation, even among those who should be setting a better example (like politicians, celebrities and even our mentors, neighbors, family members and friends).

To combat this growing tit for tat mindset, I have committed to this phrase: How you act won’t influence how I show up.

Let me show you a couple of real-world examples of what this looks like.

Example 1: On the evening news the other night was a story about a couple who lost their cool. They were driving back into their gated community in a prestigious town in South Florida. They didn’t have their access card so the guard at the gatehouse, not knowing them, asked for their licenses. As he did his required background checks, this couple became irate at the inconvenience, got out of their car and screamed at the guard. Unaffected and continuing his background process, the husband hit the guard, causing the guard to hit his head on the glass of the guard booth. The guard maintained his cool, finished the background check and gave them access. The husband was charged with assault. The guard was applauded for his self-control.

Example 2: Early in my career, I worked for a super tense manager. Things had to be exactly as he wanted or he would meltdown, scream, bully and swear. This was a daily event, and it was frequently over the smallest things. It was quite normal to hear raging arguments as members of the team fought back, egged on by his horrid behavior. Nothing seemed to ever please this manager. One by one, everyone quit because dealing with him was not worth the effort, me included. It was in this moment that I promised myself I would never let the antics or negative behaviors of another influence who I am or how I show up. That was, and would always be, my choice.

Self-control. Self-regulation. The ability not to be set into unproductive motion every time something happens or someone says something you don’t like. To respond starts with each of us. We each must make a commitment to be in charge of – and in control of – how we show up to each of the events of life.

Take Action
So how do you develop and maintain this self-regulation? By developing a mindful practice. It could include a variety of things that help you get re-centered, like journaling, breathing and meditation. Each of these can prepare you to move through tough situations with tough people calmly and gracefully.

Stop and notice the people in your life. Who activates you to react? Why? What would it take for you to remember that who you are and how you show up is always your choice?

No one makes you be or act in any particular way. You choose it. Sure, there are people who can push your buttons, if you let them. There are people who can get you to descend into petty behaviors, if you let them. There are people who can get you to do horrible things, like post insults on social media, if you let them. Or you can decide who you are and who you will be in every moment, of every day, regardless of what others do.

Clearly define who you are and who you will be in your encounters with others. Notice that when you choose to be the one who stays calm and responds with grace, you don’t get pulled into the drama and self-unregulated actions of others. Your decisions are wiser. Your life is happier.

You are your life’s owner.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Confidence in a COVID World

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3 Things COVID Taught Me About How I Parent

I’m going to be the first to raise my hand and say I’m only human (shh… don’t tell anyone). I get angry. I get frustrated. I lose my cool. I make mistakes. Sometimes, I dwell on these moments longer than I should (see the Energy Funnel). Sometimes, I see the lesson quickly and change gears to adjust my behaviors.

Living in this pandemic world over the past year has brought a lot of my human behaviors to the forefront, and I’m not always impressed with myself.

But I’m choosing not to judge this observation. In fact, I’ve used this as a great learning experience to be a better parent, a better wife, a better sister, a better friend, a better coach… overall, a better person.

Though each area of my life has improved in some way, I want to share the 3 things COVID taught me about how I parent (and what I can do better), specifically because I believe that, as a parent, guiding our kids to be confident in this crazy world is one of the most important jobs we have.

Equipping our kids with the ability to give themselves some grace when they’re feeling particularly human and empowering them to move forward in a thoughtful and intentional way starts with us. We’re their role models. We are their guides. If we expect a certain behavior from them, shouldn’t we practice it ourselves?

Here are the 3 things I learned about myself as a parent and how I made necessary adjustments to be better.

1. Commit to being a human.
For some reason, I always believed that a parent should never show a sign of weakness or admit to making mistakes because you were just… above that. I know, it sounds silly. But when you’re a kid, you look to your parents as the ones with the answers, the ones who make the hurt go away, the ones who know you better than you know yourself. Parents are superheroes. So when I feel particularly human, I find it very hard and frustrating to try to balance the human side with the “super” parent side. And it can be exhausting.

So I made a change. I talked to my kids. I explained why I was upset, or sad, or angry. And you know what? It made a huge difference. They understood why certain behaviors made me angry or frustrated; there was no guessing or tiptoeing around Angry Mommy. They understood why I was crying or sad (we said goodbye to our cat who needed a new home; there were lots of questions about tears that day…) and they weren’t afraid to talk to me about it. I gave myself grace to be a human and the confidence to be honest with myself and my kids about what I was feeling and why, a lesson I hope I’m teaching my three little boys so they confidently show up as themselves as they grow up. It reminded me of the great wisdom shared by Theodore Roosevelt, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

2. Commit to always make things better.
You know those days when the kids just seem to be on a mission to press EVERY. SINGLE. BUTTON? Yeah, we’ve all been there. If we’re lucky, it’s a day-long event. If we dealt a poor hand, it might last a week (DARN FULL MOON). And here’s what I noticed: I drop to a very unproductive level. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes I just give up and let them run amuck, choosing my battles so I don’t waste the waning energy I have. And at the end of the day? I feel horrible, guilty and upset.

So I made a change. When we’re having a day, I ask myself: what would make this a good day? When I reset my brain to think about how it could be better, instead of dwelling on why it’s not a good day, things start to shift toward a more productive outcome. And at the end of the day, I usually feel energized and happy.

3. Commit to getting to a state of calm.
My kids are looking to me for guidance. If I’m grumpy or short-tempered, why would they think any other way would be appropriate? We see this behavior everywhere – from the workplace (have you ever actively avoided the grumpy boss?) to the kitchen table – no one wants to be around grumpy people because it brings down the energy of the room.

I noticed when I was stressed, anxious or generally frustrated, my kids would reflect the behavior. They’d fight more, whine about the smallest thing and refuse my attempts to diffuse the situation. It always ended up with an explosion, usually from me.

So I made a change. When things are getting a little heated, we all take a yoga breath (sometimes I take a few more in the quiet escape of the bathroom, or basement, or closet) and we get re-centered. We figure out what’s bothering us and then ask ourselves why. Sometimes, the core of the issue is something easily fixed (i.e. SNACKS). Sometimes, the core of the issue is something bigger, like not enough time to get something done (*raises my hand*), and that requires an intentional mindset shift. Focus on what you need to get done, focus on who you need to be to get it done and show up as that person.

Take Action
What has the pandemic taught you about how you show up to life? Start small; pick one thing that you notice about yourself. Maybe it’s something you do really well. Maybe it’s something you’d like to improve on.

Whatever it is, write it down. If it’s working, do more of it. If it’s not working, think about what you could do to make a change.

Remember that we’re human, too. And we can help if you need it.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Reassess What’s Really Important

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Sometimes When You Least Expect It…

5 years ago, when someone asked me for my favorite book, I’d list off some books that stuck with me over the years, most of which were for adult readers.

But with three little kids, I have a slew of new favorite books. Some of them are classics that I grew up reading, like Goodnight Moon. Others have found a place in my heart because I’m reading them as a parent now, like Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You (parents, brace yourselves for the emotions this one will bring up).

But one book in particular caught me by surprise: Love Monster.

It sounds like a kid’s book. It sounds like something quirky and funny. But the lesson this book shares is miraculous.

The story is about a monster who is looking for someone to love him in a world that is full of very different things (“you know, cute, fluffy things”). Things that people have no trouble loving. So, he decides to go on a mission to find someone who will love him just the way he is. He looks everywhere but only finds his shadow or a reflection, nothing real. He gets tired and feels defeated, so he “gives up” and goes home. But right at the end, when he feels all hope is lost, he finds another love monster, just like him. It ends with a powerful line: “Sometimes when you least expect it, love finds you.”

Like I said, it’s a cute kid’s book with a very big lesson: sometimes when you least expect it, when life seems to be as hard as it could possibly be, when things seem too dark, things shift. The light appears. Your opportunity presents itself. Whatever you’ve been searching for shows up.

If you go at life with others’ definitions of happiness and love, you will likely be disappointed. But if you realize that you are unique and just right as you are, you will be open to finding people and life events that fit the real you. You will tap into the love that is in you and doesn’t need anyone’s approval for you to access it, appreciate it, use it and share it.

Reset your brain for the power love holds. And I don’t mean this as solely a romantic kind of love. I mean self-care. I mean kindness. I mean looking out for the welfare of humankind.

One of my all time favorite quotes I found when I was planning my wedding over a decade ago holds amazingly true today: “Right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.”

Create your fairy tale out of what you have and who you are. After all, this is your fairy tale. You get to invent it in a way that is right for you.

Who knows. Maybe your story starts by being a love monster.

Take Action
Shift your mind. Lead with love. See the opportunities that appear for you when you let your mind be open to the possibilities. Because the truth is this: a mind geared toward kindness regularly sees kindness. A heart open to love regularly finds love. So be open because these can happen in the most unexpected of places.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Successfully and Intentionally Raising Little Humans

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