A Look in the Mirror

Sometimes, I feel like parenting is a look in the mirror. You see what you’re doing well and you see where things can improve in real-time, all the time.  

We’ve all seen those memes about realizing your kids is growing up to be like you.

And there are those “quizzes” on Facebook that are made up of a short list of questions to ask your kids. One of those questions is, “what is something I [the questioner] say a lot?”

What a great social experiment it would have been to have asked your kid(s) these questions before, during and after quarantine to see how you evolved over the weeks at home. I know mine would shed some light on things…big time.

I started thinking about this the other night when we were watching some home videos of my husband when he was a kid. In one shot, he was wearing his sneakers while sitting on the couch. That’s a big no-no in our house; shoes off at the door. And my 2-year old shot up from his seat and practically shouted, “uh oh Daddy, your shoes are on.”

My husband thought this was pretty funny, but my 2-year old didn’t stop there. He had more explaining to do. “Shoes are for outside. No shoes in the house. Unless they’re slippers. They must be slippers. Slippers are inside shoes, so those are ok. Shoes are for outside only.”

My husband, though laughing, gave me a look out of the corner of his eye.

But me? I was so proud. And horrified. My words not only sunk in, but he’s repeating them.

What else have I been saying or doing over the last month in quarantine at home with my boys that they’re going to do or say?

So I started asking myself: what is something I say a lot?

Here are my lists:

Before Quarantine

  • I love you!
  • Great job!
  • I can’t wait to see what you drew/made/have to show me.
  • Let’s see how much dinner you have before we have dessert.
  • Please slow down/pay attention.
  • SMALLER BITES!
  • Wash your hands, please.

During Quarantine (I admit, I polled the house for this one a bit)

  • I love you!
  • That’s great babe.
  • Can you please just stay still for a second?
  • FOR THE LOVE OF GOD (caps required)
  • Are you kidding me!?
  • PLEASE PAY ATTENTION
  • OH MY GOD SMALLER BITES I DON’T WANT YOU TO CHOKE!!
  • WASH YOUR HANDS. This is not something new. WASH YOUR HANDS!

It’s easy to overlook how powerful your impact can be on people, places and things. As a parent, it’s a mixed blessing to have a mirror walking around and talking to you. You can see the things you’re doing well; that reflection is positive and makes you feel good and proud.

But that mirror also shows you where things can improve. Don’t label these as good or bad, or even right or wrong. Instead, see this as recognizing that there are some things you can improve on to be more successful, effective or even happier. You may even see things in you that are now showing up in your kids, like the way they raise their voices when they are upset, or they are always stressed or anxious.

The purpose of all of this is to encourage you to stop, notice and reflect. The mirror is there, showing you what’s working and what’s not. Take advantage of the real-time opportunity for information. Don’t judge it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t berate yourself. Don’t dwell on it. Just see it for what it is. Celebrate the good and figure out how to improve on the other, unproductive things.

Take Action
Parenting needs the mirror. A tiny, walking, talking mirror. It helps you see what you are doing so you can assess what to do more of and what to improve on. Don’t miss the opportunity to keep developing your parenting A-game.

So, the next time you notice something great in your kid(s), applaud them. Celebrate even the smallest of victories. And when you see something unproductive or some questionable behavior, ask yourself what behavior they may be mimicking.

Disclaimer: some behaviors do warrant additional, professional help. If you are unsure if your child is exhibiting behavior that could benefit from the help of a pediatrician or therapist, call your pediatrician to confirm the best next steps for your child.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading The Double Standard to Accepting Change: Kids vs. Adults

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Sometimes It Has Nothing to Do With You

I was speaking with a parent who was concerned about their child’s behavior.

“He’s just so angry all the time! I’ve tried everything I’m not sure what else to do. I don’t know what I did to make him like this.”

So I asked a very pointed question: What makes you think it has anything to do with you?

The parent was caught off guard. “He’s so young! I can’t imagine it would be anything other than me making him angry about something.”

So I said, “Sometimes, it has nothing to do with you.”

The parent was quiet for some time before they said, “I had never considered that it wasn’t me.”

This was an eye-opening moment. They were able to stop and notice the situation as it was without looking to assign blame or find fault. Each situation has information for us if we learn how to pay attention, without judgement. Part of the process of gathering information is to be neutral so you can stay clear and be able to more intentionally decide what to do. In this situation, the parent was able to focus on the event (child’s anger), what’s happening because of it and how they want things to be. This allowed the parent to see potential options on what could be the next step, options that were not able to be thought of when they assumed the behavior issue was related to them.

Consider these situations: the people whispering nearby; the person who cuts you off or steals your parking spot; the rain cloud that seems to follow you on a particularly tough day. Sometimes what happens has nothing to do with you.

For a child, sometimes their behavior is a direct consequence of something their parents did or didn’t do. Sometimes, it’s a stronger power directing them, like hormones or mental capacity or genetic makeup. Many times, it has nothing to do with you.

So keep rocking on as the best parent you can be. Be open, stay tuned in to your kids and don’t make assumptions. Sure, we all wonder if we’re doing it right but sometimes, it has nothing to do with you. Some kids are just born creative. Some are born with a seemingly unnatural energy. Some are born a little more serious. In each instance, they bring something unique to the world and none of this is because of you.

Consider, instead, that you are your kids’ guide. Be there to understand them and help them understand their world. Your role as the parent is not to tell them who to be; it’s to help them learn how to be in their world. Give them the space to discover who they are and how to find where they fit in life. Help them identify their guardrails until they’re old enough to do it for themselves.

Be there to guide, support and encourage your kids to figure things out, own their decisions and find their way.

Take Action
The next time you see questionable behavior from your kid(s), take a deep breath and ask yourself why it may be happening. Assess what’s inspiring the behavior. This can help you better guide, support and encourage your child through their behavior challenge.  

Sometimes it is you. We all get aggravated, tired and lose our cool. And if it is you, own it. Get calm. Slow down. Make a change.

And sometimes it is just your child working through some things. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with you.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading What Type of Parent are You?

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One Size Fits All

If you’re anything like me, one size does not fit all. I’ve never been the person who could wear the hat that fits most people, who could wear the poncho or other decorative item or accessory. One size fits all never applied to me.

This was a hard pill to swallow when you’re a teen girl – high school was hard enough! I couldn’t wear the stuff everyone else did because my body was so different. It didn’t fit. I just didn’t fit.

It wasn’t until I got older (and we’re talking like 10 years older than that frustrated 14 year-old me) that I realized one size should never fit all. We’re not all alike. We don’t all share the same strengths and talents and we certainly don’t share the same triggers. We each have our own experiences in life that make us who we are, a combination of nature and nurture. Since our insides are different, why would we expect our outsides to be the same that one size could fit all?

I am seeing this now, once again, as a parent. What works for me as a mother of three boys with a husband who works long hours might not be the approach for a single parent, first time parents, or even parents with older kids. There is no one right approach to parenting – no one-size-fits-all parenting. In fact, we even parent each of our own kids differently than their siblings because they are each unique. I think everyone with kids can agree there’s at least one of your kids that doesn’t seem to know how to listen, or requires a different set of guidelines that lead to time-outs.

So the next time you find yourself wondering why you can’t act like other parents, remind yourself that your approach to parenting has to fit you and those you parent. Remind yourself to recognize that your unique attributes are what make you you – you are never supposed to be the same as everyone else. Instead concentrate on being the best version of you and bring that best you to all you do.

Take Action
Read the poem “I Am An Individual.” It’s something I was required to memorize in 6th grade and the words have stuck with me ever since.

You are a uniquely wonderful person. The way you look, the way you live, the way you parent, the way you work – it is unique to your strengths and talents. What a boring world this would be if one size truly fit all.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Being Uniquely You

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3 Ways A Coach Can Help You Succeed

We all have a lot on our plates. Work, life, relationships – the responsibilities never end. Even on good days, our responsibilities can leave us with little time to think, plan or achieve beyond the bare minimum. We get stopped by challenges and obstacles. We get overwhelmed by commitments. We get blindsided by the unplanned or inconvenient. And every night, we fall into bed wondering what happened, and how did we get here.

Does this sound like you?

Life comes at you fast. That isn’t going to change – in fact, it will likely get faster. What can change, however, is how you get ready to be in this game of life – to live it like it matters, to achieve your goals and live to your potential.

The good news is you have an ally in this game to help you implement this change: a professional coach.

Working with a coach gives you access to getting clear on what you want most in life. Through a guided, thought-provoking conversation, you start to better understand yourself – your strengths, passions, liabilities and triggers – and understand how to overcome any obstacles that may be stopping you from getting whatever it is you’ve identified as what you want most in life. Whether it’s a small goal or navigating a big life change, whether it’s something at work or in life, a coach can help you get clear and stay focused on what you really want. But the really big differentiator of hiring a coach is that they hold you accountable to your actions so you can reach your goals.

Working with a Forte Factor coach takes this a step further by giving you access to the only tools you’ll ever need to navigate real life: awareness and confidence. Forte Factor coaches are trained to help you discover, develop and live your potential by expanding your self-knowledge, self-belief and self-confidence. These help you become more aware of yourself, your world and how to connect the two for your greatest impact.

So what does this really mean? And what does this look like?

Here are three ways a coach can help you succeed:

  1. A coach helps you see things clearly.
    • Develop your awareness and self-awareness to more accurately see and understand your world and yourself, and more wisely connect them to achieve your goals.
    • Identify and focus on what’s important and meaningful to you personally and professionally.
    • Clearly define and state what you want (your goals) and honestly review your current performance (what’s working and not working) so you can build a practical plan to close the gap between the two.
    • See and understand your strengths and talents to know what to lead with to achieve your goals.
    • See and understand your challenges, triggers and blind spots that get in your way from achieving your goals so you can manage them.
    • See the limits you impose on yourself to empower you to move past them.
  2. A coach encourages expansive thinking.
    • Imagine and see what is possible instead of just what is.
    • Discuss potential and possibilities instead of doing enough to get by.
    • Understand limits you impose on yourself and what life and work without limits could look like.
  3. A coach holds you accountable.
    • Create meaningful and realistic performance expectations and the commitments needed to achieve the expectations.
    • Create clear performance metrics and measurements to assess progress and performance that come from knowing you well.
    • Communicates candidly, clearly and directly about achieving defined expectations.

Life is difficult. There is so much coming at you from every direction that it is easy to get overwhelmed, distracted or to even feel like giving up. By working with a coach, you can get the guidance to keep things in perspective, learn how to be confident in a noisy and distracting world and achieve the things that really matter to you.

Take Action
Start a conversation with a Forte Factor coach to learn how our coaching approach can help you develop greater awareness of you, your goals and your current situation, and guide you to moving yourself to the areas that will make work and life successful for you.

Read our case studies and client testimonials.

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Out of Your Clouds

Flying has great wisdom to share.

When you are in the clouds, you can’t see anything. Your view is limited. You feel closed in. You feel restricted.

Rising above the clouds expands your view in every direction. There are no limits. Opportunities can happen. Things feel possible.

In work and life, where are you in the clouds? Where is your view limited and restricted?

How will you get yourself out of your clouds so you can consider new opportunities and make big things happen?

Take Action
When you find yourself stuck or in a challenging situation, ask yourself these two questions to help get yourself out of your clouds:

  1. What is another way to look at [this situation] that will give me a better outcome?
  2. What am I not seeing that I should see or consider that will help me see things differently?

Consider this: when you think you’re not as great as someone else, or lack a certain talent or ability, maybe all that is going on is you are stuck in the clouds. 

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Give Me Clarity – and Courage

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Give Me Clarity – and Courage

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Though this quote by Reinhold Niebuhr is used in both serious and funny scenarios, I think it perfectly sums up a good coaching session. Coaching is focused on guiding you to gain clarity of yourself and your world so you can wisely choose an intentional or productive direction for you in work, relationships and life.

A coaching session calls a lot of things into perspective, whether you want to hear it or not. You gain clarity to see things with greater understanding. This lets you more clearly see your own goals, directions and personal expectations and learn how to align them to who you are and to what is possible.

Many times, you may enter a coaching relationship with a particular outcome or goal in mind, but through greater clarity, you realize the goal was more for others than for you. Does that sound familiar?

Keep in mind that coaching is not mentoring. Mentors give suggestions and advice. They accelerate learning in particular areas. Coaching, instead, guides you to see what is, solve your challenges and learn to identify, accept and work with what cannot be changed. You decide what success is and what it looks like for you. You, with guidance, consider your options to achieve your goals, then choose and act. Your coach is your clarity and accountability partner, helping you stay focused, clear and true to the goals you’ve defined for yourself.

Through coaching, you see, define and develop realistic, practical and achievable outcomes. That is being your life’s owner. That is being intentional in your decisions because you are clear about what is possible.

As poet e.e. cummings says, “It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are.”

Courage and clarity through some assistance and guidance. That is how a coach can help you grow up to be who you really are.

Take Action
It’s up to you how you want your coaching relationship to look, what goals you want to be accountable for, and how you define and strive to reach those goals. Contact us to schedule a free 15-minute introductory conversation to see if coaching, and our style of coaching, is the right fit for you.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Bad Days Don’t Have to be Bad

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Bad Days Don’t Have to be Bad

By Kristin Allaben

I recently had a few very challenging and really tough days, back to back to back. My patience was tested, my breaking point was reached multiple times and my ability to “roll with it” went right out the window.

Have you had a day – or two or three – like this? I bet you have; it’s all part of being human.

The real question is how do you feel about those days looking back? Do you cringe? Are you embarrassed? Do you feel guilty?

I admit, there are more than just a few moments within those challenging days that I am less than impressed with myself. But you know what? Allowing yourself to be angry and upset for some time is ok. Sometimes, life doesn’t do what you want it to. Sometimes, you have to admit you don’t have control over everyone and everything in your life; people will do what they’re going to do, young or old. Sometimes being angry is a meaningful and effective response to let off some steam in situations that may seem too difficult to manage.

But challenging days don’t have to be bad. Maybe being angry is an effective response right now. Being angry can inspire action; it can help you move toward resolution. That’s productive. But what about holding on to that anger for 5 minutes? An hour? Tomorrow? Staying angry is unproductive. You may make rash decisions, you may unintentionally hurt someone you care about, you may inspire negativity around you.

Remember: you get to decide how you want your next moment to be.

So the next time you find yourself thinking you’re having a challenging day, ask yourself why. Take a moment to reflect on what you’re feeling. What caused it? How did you react? Then consider what could be a more productive response?

Life will always have some easy and some difficult times – that is life. Being self-aware and self-managed can help you know your triggers and emotions and manage them to make your next moments more controlled, intentional and successful. Remember this: with anger, visit but don’t move in.

 

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

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But I’m Just Not Good At It!

By Kristin Allaben

Think about your day yesterday. Were you asked to do something you just don’t like to do or didn’t feel like you are good at? More than likely, yes, and it probably happened at least once.

Now, how did you respond? Be honest… because your response actually reveals a lot about you.

Each of us have natural strengths and inherent liabilities. Strengths are generally easier to identify. They often show up as our natural abilities, the things we seem to know how to do or how to handle without much thought. Your strengths could show up as your ability to be direct in your communication, to connect easily with others, to be detail-oriented or even to be competitive.

Liabilities, however, tend to be attributes we shy away from because we’re not intrinsically good at them, frequently because they are the opposite of our strengths. This makes sense. If you’re naturally strong at something, then you can’t be strong at its opposite. If you are determined and direct, you are probably not easy-going and a good listener.

And this is ok.

Learning about your liabilities is not a judging moment. They aren’t weaknesses to fix. Liabilities can never be fixed; they are the result of you being stronger on the other side. Liabilities, however, can – and should – be managed.

Easier said than done, I know. I personally struggled with this as I started my coaching career. To acknowledge my liabilities was one thing, but to take the time to understand them and ensure I’m checking in on them was hard because, quite frankly, those liabilities are things I’m just not good at. And, if we’re being honest, there’s a bit of an ego play there, too. To pay attention, on purpose, to the things you’re just not good at is hard.

But having the information about both your strengths and liabilities enables you to more effectively use and manage them. For example, as a competitive person with a direct communication style, you thrive in situations where you can win. But, one day, you may find yourself in a team setting. Being self-aware lets you recognize that working with a team is a liability and you therefore need to manage it. Perhaps you find a way to take lead of the team. Perhaps you encourage a friendly competition within the team to challenge everyone to think more creatively. A number of options exist! But you can’t do this without understanding the role both your strengths and liabilities play in every situation.

At The Forte Factor, we developed our own performance assessment tool that provides our coaching clients with insights into their strengths and liabilities, giving them greater self-awareness to know how to lead with their strengths, manage their liabilities and use them intentionally in both work and life.

So, the next time you’re asked to do something you don’t love to do or know you’re just not good at, how can you use the knowledge of your strengths and liabilities to show up as your best self?

Important Questions from a Coach:

1. How aware are you of your own strengths and liabilities?
2. Think of one of your liabilities. What is something you can do today to manage (not fix) that liability?
3. How will you stop yourself from passing judgement as you gain awareness of your liabilities?

 

Consider reading Acknowledging Emotions

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Are You The Great Pretender?

By Jay Forte

Social media has made us constantly aware of what others have, are doing and are experiencing. We know about their trips, their adventures and their awards. We hear about what great things are happening to their friends, their kids and their grandkids. We hear about job promotions and successes.

But we rarely hear about or see the other side, the real life side – their challenges, failures and disappointments.

It can be tempting to compare your life to what you’re seeing from others, driving questions like: If their lives are so great, what am I doing wrong? What are they doing that I should be doing to be happier and more successful?

These questions rarely have the positive impact you’d assume – many people make big life changes based solely on their interpretation of what others do and find that after making these changes, things aren’t any better.

This is when people are often confronted by The Great Pretender. You think that by doing and being like others, you will have what they have and your life will be great. But it doesn’t turn out that way for two primary reasons:

  1. You are seeing only what others choose to share with you – the highlights. All lives have challenges and obstacles, so you’re only getting a partial view of their lives.
  2. Pretending distracts you away from what’s amazing in your life. When you pretend to be someone else, you step away from what makes you you. You are not others – don’t compare your life to theirs. Instead, focus on knowing, developing and living who you really are – that is the key to your greatest success, joy and happiness.

Being The Great Pretender is one of the greatest wastes of time. It distances you from all of what makes you your best self, and is frequently done just to impress others about something that doesn’t matter.

The way to be the best version of yourself is to be authentic and believe that you have the ability and responsibility to define what a great life is for you. Fight the urge to compare your life to the string of successes on Facebook and other social media channels. Know it is just a snapshot of someone else’s life. Appreciate the greatness and successes in others, then define what belongs in your great life.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. In what areas of your life are you pretending, trying to be something or someone you are not?
  2. How would being more authentic connect you to your greater abilities, interests and values?
  3. How can you be better about noticing and applauding others for the great things in their lives but avoiding comparing yourself, your situation and your life to theirs?

Being authentic is the key to a happy and successful life. Decide who you will be and what you want in life. Leave the pretending to the storytellers.

Consider reading Embrace Your Face

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