Being Uniquely You

“The things that make me different are the things that make me.” – Winnie The Pooh

Each of us is uniquely awesome. We have our own set of strengths and talents and we also have our own liabilities and limitations. This allows each of us to have our own area in which to shine. There is truly room for all of us to be unique and our true selves.

My 6th grade teacher encouraged my entire class to learn and recite and important poem as we started each day, called “I am an individual” (taken from Learning the Skills of Peacemaking by Naomi Drew):

I am an individual.
I have dignity and worth.
I am unique.
I deserve respect
and I respect others.
I am part of the human family.
I have something special
to offer the world.
I am committed to
a peaceful world for all of us.
I make a difference,
and so do you.
I can accomplish
whatever I set out to do,
and so can you.
I am the key to peace.

Are you being true to you? Are you treating others – and yourself – with dignity and respect? Are you using your unique talents and strengths to make your difference in your world?

Take Action
When you start to feel yourself being inauthentic, or feel the pressure to be like others when it is not for you, revisit this poem. Remind yourself who you are, what value you have and how being you is a unique gift for our world.

Find your inner power. Become the leader of your life. Be happy. Be unique. Be an individual.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How Your Memories of Childhood Can Improve Your Future

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Don’t Panic (Unless You Absolutely, Positively Need to Panic)

I had a great weekend visiting family and family friends. We talked about everything from our kids to hobbies to our jobs. At one point, one of the family friends shared an incredibly wise mantra that I want to share with you: Don’t panic until it’s time to panic. I’m going to take it a step further: don’t panic unless you absolutely, positively need to panic.

We live in a world where anxiety and panic-mode are seemingly the norm. It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “Oh, that gives me anxiety.” Or “ugh, panic mode setting in!” These phrases regularly show up during a normal day. Why do so many things seem to push us to the edge?

It is because we react instead of respond.

Don’t panic unless you absolutely, positively need to panic reminds you to beaware. To be aware of the situation. To be aware of yourself. To be aware of how you’re showing up to the situation – reacting or responding – and which one will help you create the best outcome.

A big part of our coaching process explores the difference between reacting and responding. By understanding the difference, you have the ability to choose how you want to be. The noise, challenges and pace of life don’t have to make you panic. You have the ability to sort through what is going on to determine what to do and how to respond. You become smarter on your feet. You become more thoughtful in your everyday actions. You become more aware and mindful about your world and your role in it.

Don’t panic unless you absolutely, positively need to panic.

Be aware. Be thoughtful. Choose how to respond (not react). Notice the difference.

Take Action
What is something you can do today, or this week, to start to catch yourself in reactionary mode? How can you move yourself from reaction to thoughtful response?

Notice the difference it has on you and your world – your work, your relationships, your well-being. Set yourself apart from the rest. Don’t bring panic until you have considered other, more constructive options. Only then, when it’s absolutely, positively time to panic, can you panic.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading The Value of Setbacks

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Get Organized: Webinar

Organization is THE big trend this year. People are talking about it everywhere, referring to “getting organized” as “ridding yourself of clutter.” There are seemingly hundreds of “get your house organized” articles that offer different tips to get your space cleaned up. And don’t forget about Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix this year. Be honest. Have you applied the Marie Kondo approach to determine if you find joy in the items in your home?

But getting organized is more than just throwing out the things you haven’t used in a while. It’s a mindset shift. It’s the opportunity to focus and get tuned in to what you really want, and finding ways to get there.

On Tuesday, February 19, we’re launching our new webinar program, The Lunch Hour Coach, with our first webinar, “Get Yourself and Your Space Organized: How to be Effective, Efficient and Extraordinary.” Attendees to the webinar will gain insight into how to get yourself tuned in and focused on achieving your goals by leveraging The Forte Factor’s proprietary coaching process and tools.

Webinar: Get Yourself and Your Space Organized: How to be Effective, Efficient and Extraordinary
Date: Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Time: 12:30-1:30 p.m. ET
Cost: $20
Register online:

*all registered attendees will receive the recording at the completion of the webinar.

The Lunch Hour Coach provides you with a 1-hour coaching program, offering easy-to-implement tips to keep yourself tuned in and present in all aspects of your life. We’ll discuss a variety of topics, ranging from life events to situations in the workplace, and welcome any suggestions, as well. So, stay tuned for our webinar calendar or contact us with any topic ideas you’d like us to address.

We’re excited to kick off The Lunch Hour Coach and look forward to having you at your first webinar on February 19!

Have an idea for a webinar topic? Let us know!

Three Ways to Make New Year’s Resolutions That Stick

We’re over a month into 2019. How are you doing on those resolutions?

Face it, we all have good intentions. We intend to eat right, exercise more, be more present in our relationships and leave less of a footprint on our planet. Then, our days get busy and we default back to our old ways, only to move through another year without living to any of our commitments or resolutions to be better. Why is that?

Well, it has a lot to do with your brain. You process so many things in the course of a day that your brain defaults to what it knows for most things. That means that until you build a new habit that is stronger than your old habit, your old habits will continue to lead. I like to think of habits as brain ruts (neural pathways). The more you practice something, the deeper the rut. So many of your habits, even if they are unproductive (like eating the wrong things, watching too much television, driving too fast), are deep ruts. The deeper the rut, the stronger the habit.

So, until your resolutions become deeper ruts than your existing habits, you will continue default to your habits. This is why it is so hard to stick to our resolutions and commitments when they are different than what we’re already accustomed to doing.

Here are three ideas you can incorporate into your daily routine to build deeper brain ruts so your resolutions to be better can take root and become your new way of being.

  1. Do something that really matters. Don’t create resolutions or changes that others require. For you to make a change that sticks, your changes really have to matter to you. When you see the value of your change, you are more likely to keep going to make it your new habit. This requires reflection and thought on your part. One of my mottos for my coaching clients is: tune out to tune in. Disconnect from your noisy and busy world to find the quiet and time to reflect on what is most important to you. What is a goal you want to achieve that is really important to you? See it. Focus on it. Be committed to it.
  2. Make it easy and able to be repeated. Repetition is critical to the way we learn best and fastest. When you identify what it is you really want to change or achieve, identify what things you can do every day to that will help you with your goal. It could be setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier to get up and journal before you start your day. It could be buying sparkling water each week at the grocery store to eliminate the presence of sugary sodas in your house. It could be walking with a friend every morning who acts as your accountability partner. Make your changes small, easy and able to be repeated. You brain will quickly learn this new behavior and help you replace the old habit with your new habit.
  3. Check in, manage and measure your progress. Coaches are successful with their clients because they help them clearly define what they want to achieve and hold them accountable by constantly reviewing and measuring their progress. You can’t achieve or change what you don’t measure. To make a resolution or change stick requires you to regularly assess your progress in a way that can be measured. For example, let’s say you decide that walking each morning is your way to get exercise, appreciate your neighborhood and stop yourself from hanging out in the kitchen where you eat things that are unhealthy. How many times a week do you want to commit to walking? How long do you want to walk for? Who will walk with you? Answer these to define your goals then chart your progress. Hang your progress chart on the fridge to keep it in front of you. Then assess how you feel as you make progress. The good feelings that come from doing what is better for you can help you maintain your commitment when your old habits try to take control. The more success you see from your progress, the more your progress will continue.

Many of us mean to make the changes we define for ourselves, but with the pace of life and the distractions of a world that always has our attention, it is difficult to replace old habits with new and better habits.

Take Action
By better understanding what it takes to build a new and better habit, start with something that really matters, make it something that you can easily do over and over and measure your progress. Following these three simple steps can help you improve your ability to make a change that sticks. How can you refine any of your New Year’s resolutions to follow these three steps so your resolutions become a habit and not just a good intention?  

By Jay Forte

Consider reading What Does a Good Day Look Like For You?

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How Your Memories of Childhood Can Improve Your Future

I recently saw Mary Poppins Returns and though I loved the movie, I was surprised by how emotional I felt while watching it. I cried at the obvious things – the song to the wife, the song about where lost things go – but also at other little things, like watching the original Banks children say goodbye to their childhood home and the final scene when Mary Poppins leaves (again).

It took some personal reflection to understand why I was so moved by the movie. I mean, it was wonderful; the actors did a phenomenal job and the story was fantastic (no surprise). It shared the same type of entertainment (singing and dancing), powerful messages (anything is possible) and magic the original movie did. But what made the movie so touching?

I admit, it took a very uncomfortable few hours for me to put my finger on it, but I think I figured it out. Every theme in Mary Poppins was about enjoying life as it is – making the most of every moment – and learning from each moment to make the next one better. The themes in Mary Poppins Returns were also about making the most of life, but with a sad underlying tone about the realities of growing up. The magic isn’t the same.

It made me think about one of the questions we share with our coaching clients: what is something you loved to do as a kid that you don’t do now?

Why is it that as we grow up, we seem to believe that we are required to let go of our big dreams, our magic? Why does it need to be traded in for adulting?

As your coach, I’m encouraging each of you to revisit your dreams and your magic this year. Think about how you defined pure joy as a kid. What were you doing when you felt that pure joy? Why did you stop doing it? How could you bring it back into your life in a meaningful way?

Most of us trade joy for achievement in our ‘get it done’ world. We are taught that doing things for the love of them is less productive than working the to-do list. How will you reflect on your view of work and joy, and intentionally find ways to bring in more of what makes life great?

Take Action
Anything is possible. Such a powerful phrase. Couple that with I love doing this or this is my favorite thing to do and just imagine the opportunities you create for yourself. Take the time to reflect on some of the things you used to do that made you happy. Find a way to make time for them in a meaningful way, and then consider how you can bring others into that joy with you.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Looking Back, What Did 2018 Tell You?

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The Value of Setbacks

“Don’t let your setbacks set you back,” Stacy Abrams, the Democratic candidate for the Georgia Governor role shared in a recent TED Talk. There is so much wisdom in that line.

So many times, we give up, give in and retreat when we’ve experienced a setback. We get the wind knocked out of us – figuratively or literally – and we run away, focused on our hurt, disappointment or frustration. We use our energy to justify that whatever didn’t go our way wasn’t really worth it anyway. It is easier to give up instead of to get up.

But whoever said anything about work or life would be easy, especially about the meaningful things?

A setback is really something that didn’t go as planned. It could be a promotion that is given to another. It could be your best employee just gave her notice. It could be your largest customer decides to shift his business to your competition. It could be someone in your family becomes ill or hurt. It could be the offer you placed on your dream house was rejected.

Every setback has valuable information for you if you choose to see it. Reflect on how you view setbacks. Do you see them as opportunities for disappointment and despair, or opportunities to become better, wiser and more resilient? Same situation, different outcome. You choose how you are with what work and life sends you.

Questions you can ask yourself when faced with any setback include:

  • What does this setback tell me about me, my approach or my effort?
  • Why did this setback happen?
  • How can I make a success out of what has happened?
  • What would someone courageous and resilient do here?

I regularly share in both my coaching and in the programs I teach to CEOs that life sends us two things: successes so we learn to celebrate, and setbacks so we learn how to be resilient in a world that constantly changes. Both are necessary, but the real progress happens in the setbacks. That is, if you have the courage and tenacity to see and use their value to be better in the next moment.

Take Action
Stop and notice a recent setback. Reflect on how you responded and why. Now, remind yourself that a setback is just new information. Reflect on what this setback taught you about you – and how you can use it to be better. Consider sharing this approach with others who matter to you in work and life.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading How to Succeed in Changing Times

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That’s Life…

If you were to really stop and notice your behavior, would you say you are a doer or a complainer? When things don’t go your way, do you reflect, consider and move forward, or vent, complain and gripe? What would others who know you well say?

Complainers vent more than they act. For them, when something doesn’t go their way, it is someone else’s fault – the weather, the politics, the economy, a teacher, a boss, a spouse, the holidays… fill in the guilty party.

Doers, however, take action. They see that no matter what comes their way, they can step up, focus on moving forward and make things happen.

I am reminded of the lyrics in the Frank Sinatra song, That’s Life:

“Each time I find myself layin’ flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race.”

He didn’t sing, “Each time I find myself layin’ flat on my face, I find 10 people and go complain about this place.”

So, how do you move from complainer to doer?

You start by noticing your behaviors. Sure, there is a complainer in all of us, and sometimes, the human response is more than acceptable. But pay attention to your responses when something is aggravating, frustrating or irritating. Do you lead with and dwell on complaining, venting and griping? Or can you move on toward a productive next moment? Not sure? Your friends will tell you.

If you know or now realize you are a complainer, go buy yourself an egg-timer. Find a small hourglass timer or buy one with a dial you can set. When you notice yourself in venting and complaining mode, turn the hourglass timer over or set the twist timer to 2 minutes. When time is up, so is the complaining. Then, focus on solving and taking action. I have seen this approach work well with some of my Corporate Coaching clients as a more effective way to manage their teams: vent for a few moments then shift to solving. Limitless venting is unproductive.

Take Action
If you find complaining is your way at the moment, make a commitment to take action, to be aware that sometimes, that’s life. Learn to openly, gladly and wisely use what life sends to choose the best outcome. And when it doesn’t go your way, as the song reminds us, get back up and get back in the race.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Acknowledging Emotions

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What Do You Want in 2019?

By Jay Forte

“Begin with the end in mind.”

This is habit #2 of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This means focus on what you want to achieve. You can’t make progress if you first don’t define what success looks like.

With the arrival of a new year, it is a great time to take a moment to reflect on what you want in 2019. What do you want to achieve, learn, develop or become? What do you want to create, support or change? What will make the year great for you?

The best way to focus on defining an end goal is to make the time and space to reflect. Here is a great question to help you start to reflect on what you want for 2019: Let’s say you are now at December 31, 2019 – you are at the end of the new year. You look back over the year and think “what a great year this has been.” What happened this year that would make you think this?

Take the time to be thoughtful and honest with yourself. When you have a clear understanding of what it was that made the year so great, you can more easily define what you want (end goal) and why you want it, enabling you to create an actionable process to get there. It’s important to remember the “why” associated with your end goal because as things interrupt your progress in achieving your goal (because that is how life can be), your “why” becomes the fuel and the energy to keep you moving.

Here are a couple of examples.

  • I want to complete my degree in 2019 (my what). I am doing this to improve my career opportunities and to align myself to roles that need what I am best at (my why).
  • I want to think and act like a coach with each member on my team (my what). I am doing this to improve my relationship with each person to improve their engagement, performance and retention (my why). 

With this information, you can start to define your end goal – what you want for 2019. You are clear. You have focus. This means you can be intentional.

Take Action

Take the time to get clear about what you want for yourself in 2019 – personally and professionally. Things don’t just happen – you have to make them happen. This starts by defining what you want. Be optimistic. Be creative. Believe that great things can happen. Stay clear on this.

Then, build a plan to close the gap from where you are to what you want. Work the plan each day and you will see this is how great things happen.

Consider reading The Post-It Note as a Mindfulness Tool

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Looking Back, What Did 2018 Tell You?

By Jay Forte

Another year comes to a close. As with anything that we call the past, it has lessons to share.

I find that this time of year invites us to be reflective. If we can carve a few minutes out of the noise and busyness of the holidays, shopping and festivities, we could learn from our past to be ready to make wise decisions about our future.

Here are two great questions to ask yourself that are worthy of review at this time of year.

When looking back at the past year, what worked that I should probably do more of?

Our habit is to be more tuned into our failures than our successes. But your successes have a lot of information for you if you make the time and effort to notice them. As you look at 2018, what were your successes and victories – large and small? What improvements, growth and opportunities happened – and why? What do these events tell you about you – your attitude, your strengths, your dreams or even your goals? What do these events tell you about who you are and who you are becoming?

You are amazing at some things. Know these things and do more of them. You are passionate and inspired by some things. I imagine your successes were in these areas. Know them so you do more of them.

When looking back at 2018, what didn’t work that needs improvement for 2019?

Our challenges and failures – the job you didn’t get, the relationship that failed, the out of control finances, the poor eating habits – are all just information. You made decisions that resulted in these outcomes. Notice what didn’t work and ask why. This will give you great information to consider what you could do to make improvement(s). No need to waste any energy feeling upset or sorry for yourself. You made some decisions or had some events that didn’t work out. Simply notice that they need improving and use your energy to notice them, understand them and to come up with the first few steps to make a change. Know them so you can improve them.

Both successes and failures are life lessons. Successes teach you how to celebrate and remind you of your strengths, abilities and capabilities. Challenges and failures remind you of the areas that need improvement and greater attention. That’s it – it’s just information. But you can’t learn from these to make a better 2019 if you don’t make the time to review and reflect on what lessons 2018 has for you.

So, as you approach the end of the year, commit to making time to let 2018 speak to you. It has lessons for you. Learn the lessons – do more of what works and improve what doesn’t work – only you can do this for you. And when you do this, you will have a more amazing 2019.

Take Action
We learn how to celebrate and continue through our successes, or we learn how to improve from our failures or challenges. Either way, it is just life doing what life does – constantly giving us the ability to be better tomorrow than we were today.

Take five minutes today to think about the past year. What worked? What didn’t work?


Consider reading You Can’t Improve on Something You Don’t Measure

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What’s Your Red Nose?

By Kristin Allaben

There’s been a lot of talk about the Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” specifically about how he was bullied and how there are bad messages for kids in the movie.

But quite frankly, I think it is a powerful story that teaches us that many times, others don’t understand, support or appreciate what makes us different, unique and amazing. Their comments come from the constant pressure that we should all look, act and think alike, instead of discovering, developing and using our true abilities.

Think about it. Christmas was going to be canceled because of the bad winter storm, but Rudolph’s vibrant red nose was just the right amount of light to guide the sleigh.

Imagine if you hid your unique attributes — the things that you, for some reason, believe others won’t appreciate. What could come from sharing that with the world? How might your ownership of who you really are bring something remarkable to your world, your life and the people in it?

Prompted by watching Rudolph this year with my kids, I asked myself this question and held myself accountable to be honest. Turns out, my unique attribute that I often try to hide or tone down is my need to organize. People love to point out how organized I am (in both a loving and not-so-loving-or-appreciative way) and I realized I started to diminish it or even apologize for it. I stopped organizing family events, parties and outings. I didn’t want to be seen as being a micro-manager, obsessed about seeing things done a specific way, so I stepped away from it, convinced by the comments of others that something was wrong with me.

And you know what I realized? It made me miserable and it made others around me confused and unsettled. Being organized — and keeping things around me organized — is my red nose. People didn’t realize how much they needed my organization until it wasn’t there, or until a big event required a unique approach to managing every element. In fact, a family member once said, “Thank God you’re here! We can’t get this game started without someone to take charge.” And in a previous role, one of my managers referred to me as the person who “keeps the trains running on time.”

We each come equipped with great gifts and abilities that are part of who we are. Don’t cover the brightness of what makes you great, even if others don’t understand or support it. Go be you.

Take Action
Take 5 minutes to ask yourself about your red nose. What is the one attribute that makes you uniquely you that you feel like you need to hide or diminish? Why? How different would you — and your world — be if you were truer to yourself and less concerned with what others think and say?


Consider reading Your Personal Board of Directors

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