The Post-it Note as a Mindfulness Tool

By Jay Forte

Everyone is talking about mindfulness, but we can’t truly gain the benefits of being mindful unless we’re clear on what it is. So, let’s start with a couple of quick definitions:

  • Awareness means paying attention on purpose, in the current moment, without judgment. In other words, awareness means paying attention, intentionally tuning in to be present to gather the information that is in front of you.
  • Mindfulness, in my definition, means using that information to seek out, create and act in a way that can make your next moment more effective.

Awareness provides the information; mindfulness uses it to be better or to make better decisions.

A couple of examples.

Let’s say you have to talk to your son about something that happened at school. When you are aware of his body language and emotions, you can then better assess what and how to respond, leading to a more successful outcome. By being aware, and using that awareness, you can choose on purpose what and how to respond. Without this awareness, you could mindlessly react and miss the opportunity to accurately assess the challenge and work with him to come up with a solution that works.

Let’s say you are in a meeting with your team. When you stop and notice who is contributing and who isn’t, you’re tapping into an awareness that creates the ability for you to be mindful – to intentionally bring in the more introverted members of your team with a focused question or invitation to contribute. If you are unaware of who contributes because you are plowing through your agenda, you will miss the opportunity to activate the thinking of your more timid employees.

See, the challenge we all have is that we spend most of our time in our habits, doing what we always do and unaware we are doing it. To become more present and aware, we have to interrupt our habits to be able to gather the information in this moment, to mindfully use it to make our next moment better.

Enter the Post-it note.

A well-placed Post-it note with an important message for you can act as a great interruption to pull you out of habit mode. The Post-it note might say, “pay attention,” or “stop multitasking,” or “ask questions,” or “everyone contributes,” or even “go walk around and talk to your employees.”

You create the message you need to be reminded of and where to place it to be sure it gets your attention to interrupt your habits. This encourages you to be more aware, more mindful and more intentional in your actions.

Because your brain is powerful, it will soon look right past your Post-it note. So change out the colors regularly or move your note reminders to different locations, all within view. The benefit is that you will create an awareness and mindfulness tool to help you tune in, pay better attention and choose more wisely because you have given yourself the ability to see and consider what you regularly miss.

Take Action

Start today. Leave Post-it notes in areas that will get your attention, with messages that will remind you and encourage you to be more aware, so you can be more mindful. Where are you going to put your first three Post-it notes?


Consider reading The Way to a Great Life? Tune In, Reflect, Then Respond

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Are Your Employees Sitting on the Sidelines?

By Jay Forte

You have some amazing and remarkable employees who do great things in your workplace. And then you have some employees who do just enough not to get fired.

Sure, these employees show up, but they don’t have the energy, drive and commitment to do the important things in the workplace that advances performance and success. Is it you or is it them?

It is likely a little of both.

The Gallup Organization regularly cites statistics on the engagement levels of employees in the workplace. And alarmingly, nearly 70% of employees are in some form of disengagement. This disengagement happens for many reasons but the most significant are the lack of job alignment and meaningful relationships with managers. Both need to work in concert.

Let me explain.

Alignment is the process of knowing the success attributes of any role and using those attributes to wisely source, interview and hire someone who fits that role. This also applies to knowing and using the success attributes of any role when developing or promoting employees. It is critical for someone to have the abilities needed to be successful in a role.

Alignment, however, cannot stand on its own. You also need a strong, effective and professional working relationship.

In a 2015 study by Peter Massingham and Leona Tam titled, The Relationship Between Human Capital, Value Creation and Employee Reward, the researchers state, “Employee capability may or may not generate value. It is only when individuals are motivated to use their knowledge that it creates organizational benefit, otherwise it is an idle resource.”

Though you may (and must) hire wisely, the job alignment combined with the quality of the relationship the employee has with his or her manager ultimately dictates success. When we feel inspired by those we work for because they make the time for us, value us, develop us and treat us like we matter, we volunteer our best abilities and deliver them with greater energy and effort in the workplace. The result? Greater productivity and performance.

When we don’t make the effort to build the manager-employee relationship, we encourage our employees to move to the sidelines, to do just enough to get by, instead of really contributing. Though they may have what it takes to be great in their roles (they have the abilities), they still need the inspiration, encouragement and interest by their manager to move these abilities from idle to full speed.

Your employees choose how they show up to the moments of their days. Do they do just enough? Or do they fully engage, using their greatest abilities to invent, challenge and improve everything they encounter?

This choice is inspired by how you manage. Are you bringing a healthy combination of alignment and relationships to your workplace?

Take Action

Learn how to be a mindful and inspiring manager. Our Executive Coaching guides you through foundational tools to help leaders and managers better connect with their employees and deliver greater results. Contact us for more information.


Consider reading Stop Managing and Start Coaching

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How Not to be an Eeyore

By Jay Forte

I was recently chatting with a friend about why everyone seems to be so unhappy and why they turn to drinking, diversions and drugs (the 3 Ds) as a means to find happiness (or at least feel happy for a short time).

As a coach, I regularly discuss happiness with my clients and why it has seemingly become so elusive. For example, think of the last time you were really happy. More than likely, you can more easily remember the last time you were mad, sad or scared. Why? Because we default into mad, sad and scared but have to use intention to find happiness.

Our brains are hardwired with four primary emotions: fear, anger, sadness and joy – you know, mad, sad, glad and scared. But of those four, fear, anger and sadness are our defaults. This is because they are part of our defense and survival mechanism (i.e. our fight, flight or freeze brain) – they are our protectors. This part of the brain doesn’t care if you are happy or successful; it just wants you to be here tomorrow. So if you want to lead a joyful life, you have to shift from habit to intention.

We have to work hard to search through all the aggravations, frustrations and difficulties life sends us to find the joy. Think about it. In the same moment you notice the tough, challenging and aggravating things about life, you could also notice the amazing, wonderful and terrific things. They are there; you just have to learn and choose to look for them on purpose. Be mindful. Be aware. Be intentional.

The world will never stop sending challenging events – that is just life. How you respond to them, instead of react to them, is the key to achieving happiness. It isn’t elusive. It just requires greater effort than defaulting into being afraid, angry or sad, and the benefits are exponential.

Here are some tips to help you move toward happy.

1. Focus on what works before you focus on what doesn’t work. In this moment, notice 5 things that are going right. Notice when your mind wants to bring in what doesn’t work. Don’t judge or get stuck on what’s not working. Instead, try to stay focused on what good things are happening. Do this once every day, and work your way up to doing it several times a day. This doesn’t mean you don’t and won’t notice what’s not working. It’s about making a point of noticing and celebrating what is working, as well.

2. Notice and change your negative self-talk. If you had friends that speak to you the way you speak to yourself, you would end the friendship in a minute. Most of what we say to ourselves is critical and negative. Notice your self-talk. Start to shut down the negative talk and add some compliments, care and applause. Start to say things like, “nice job with that report,” or, “I love how confident I feel today.” If all you ever hear is negative, how could you show up happy, glad and in a place of joy?

3. Ask why. When you find yourself feeling mad, sad or scared, ask yourself why. Sometimes, it’s an unfounded reality, one you’ve created for yourself that doesn’t truly exist. Keep asking yourself why until you have an answer. This mindfulness practice forces you to intentionally choose to respond vs. react to any event in life because you’re getting to the root of why you feel the way you do.

The events of and people in life can’t make you happy. Happiness lies with your response to them. Remember, you choose your response. So why not choose happy over afraid, sad and angry?

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. How many times during your day are you glad vs. mad? Why?
  2. What is one thing you can do today to look for what’s right in your world instead of what’s wrong?
  3. How can you start each day with a moment of gratitude about something great in your life?


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

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Are you a good or a bad meditator?

By Kristin Allaben

I’ll be the first to admit it. When I was initially told to be mindful, to take time to meditate, it made my eyes glaze.

“I’m too much of a busy-body to meditate.”

“I can’t quiet my mind enough to do that the right way.”

“What do you even meditate about?”

 “I don’t know how to do it the right way.”

Just a few excuses I’d use over and over until they became my truth, my limiting belief – I started to believe I wasn’t able to meditate because I just couldn’t do it.

But then I had an enlightened moment. Mindful meditation is not just about quieting the mind and sitting in complete silence. It’s about tuning in to each feeling, emotion, sensation and thought, recognizing them and, when appropriate, asking “how curious I should be feeling/thinking/responding this way.” You start to pay attention, on purpose, to you and your world, with no judgement. Just acknowledgment.

It is in these moments of mindful meditation that you begin to realize how you react vs. respond to various events in your life. Just noticing gives you the opportunity to improve your next moment. For example, mindful meditation could help you become more intentional and thoughtful vs. emotional and judgmental with anything that happens on a daily basis.

The way I started mindful meditation and focused attention was to write down one thing at the end of every day that made me feel happy. Sometimes, it was something funny one of my kids did or a big milestone they reached. Sometimes, it was acknowledging that I had the chance to go for a long, uninterrupted run. Sometimes, it was stopping and noticing that my husband and I watched an entire movie after the kids were in bed and we both made it through without dozing off (little victories!).

Doing this helped me reflect on the day and acknowledge each event without judgement. I choose to write down the happy moments because it lets me go to bed feeling happy, ready to wake up with a positive outlook for the next day.

This is my form of mindful meditation. I’m tuning in, reflecting on my day, and writing it down. It’s helping me realize how often I react vs. respond, which in turn is hhelping me tune in to reactions so I can be more intentional in the next moment.

There’s no right or wrong way to meditate; you have to find what works for you. Whether it’s meditation (in the traditional definition), focused attention or something else, do what delivers the best experience for you.

So the next time you come up with an excuse for why you can’t meditate, ask yourself, if meditation isn’t for me, then what is?

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. If you find meditation to be a challenge, ask yourself why that is. Is it a limiting belief? Or rooted in truth?
  2. What is one thing you can start to do today to begin to incorporate mindful meditation or focused attention into your daily routine?
  3. How can you leverage mindful meditation or focused attention to help you become more intentional in each moment?


Consider reading Experience Isn’t Your Enemy

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What the Super Bowl is Teaching Me About Awareness

By Kristin Allaben

I’m a Pats fan. I married a Pats fan (though he claims his first love is the Vikings…) and both of my sons are decked out in Pats gear for each game. I laugh at the various “Pats are the best” memes I see online, I cringe at the thought of the trash talk that will be coming our way from my brother-in-law (an Eagles fan) and I’m anxiously trying to remember what I did during the Super Bowl last year to ensure another win (yup, uber superstitious).

I think most of Patriots Nation can relate as the Super Bowl approaches, but how many of these fans are completely aware of their actions?

I admit I wasn’t completely aware of my own actions during the most recent Pats game until my husband mentioned I was louder during the game than he was, and I was holding our 5-week old son.

This gave me pause. I vividly remember yelling at the TV as Amendola scored the winning touchdown, and remember apologizing to my son for screaming as I removed my hands from his ears. Yes, covering his ears was a subconscious reaction, but I didn’t realize how loud I was until he looked up at me with a confused expression, as if asking “Was that necessary?” I was so caught up in the game, I wasn’t aware of my surroundings.

Reflecting on this specific situation made me realize how unaware I am of so many of my actions in my daily life. It happens; you find yourself on autopilot, going through motions without really paying attention to what you’re doing. You don’t stop and notice. Instead you move through life in habit-mode.

Whether it’s watching a football game or moving through the tired haze of parenting at the end of the day when the kids are in bed, there are so many opportunities to be fully present to improve your connection to, and participation in, the moments of your life. It takes intention and awareness.

So, here are a few things you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you become more tuned in to stop, notice, consider and appreciate more of the things life can offer.

  1. Breathe – take an extra breath before making a decision or reacting to a situation. Count to 10 to help you reset your mind and your energy.
  2. Look around – what’s happening around you? Where are you? Who are you with? How will your next action impact your surroundings?
  3. Reflect – what would, or could, you have done differently during your day to generate better results?

These simple tips can have a significantly positive impact not only on how you feel and act every day, but also on those around you. Give it a try.

And go Pats!


Consider reading Look to the Left, Look to the Right

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Overcoming Mom Guilt: Being mindful and aware

By Kristin Allaben

It’s hard to believe that we brought my second born home 3 weeks ago. Part of me is amazed at how quickly the time has gone by. Part of me is amazed that it’s somehow only been 3 weeks.

But perhaps the biggest shock to me was holding my newborn while watching my first born play with his toys. Somehow, he was bigger, more mature. He was no longer the baby I left two days earlier; he was a little boy who was seemingly all grown up. And in addition to the shock of seeing how big my little guy was, understanding just how much he still needed me was another.

Sure, friends and family all told me stories about how different life is with two kids instead of one, but no one could have truly prepared me for the reality of being needed in two places at the same time.

Needless to say, the Mom Guilt has been real.

There are moments I want to be with my oldest, to play with him, to laugh with him, to read with him. But there are also moments when I want to be with my newborn, to hold him, to admire him, to snuggle him. And though I know it’s only been a few weeks and I’m still in the learning curve of effectively juggling two kids under 2­, the guilt for wanting to be with one when you’re with the other is already so strong. And the frustrated realization that of course I shouldn’t already have it all figured out is almost as bad.

Expectation vs. reality. But discussing expectations as a parent vs. reality is for another post…

I recently stumbled across a quote from Stephanie Precourt, an online content manager for Listen To Your Mother Show, that so beautifully describes motherhood: “There will be so many times you feel like you’ve failed, but in the eyes, heart and mind of your child, you are super mom.”

In those moments when I feel horrible for the rushed bedtime for my first born while the newborn was crying to be fed, or when I am laughing and playing with the oldest and know I’ve left the newborn in his bouncy chair for what I feel is too long, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking you’re not enough, that you’re sacrificing time with one for time with the other.

Being a parent is about being mindful and aware. It’s about accepting the challenges and adventures each day brings and learning how to appreciate each moment exactly as it is. It’s about being present, especially during those rushed or challenging times with your kid(s). You may only be able to read one bedtime story during a rushed bedtime, but be present in that moment instead of letting your mind wander, thinking about what else you still need to take care of when they go to bed. It’s about experiencing each moment. It’s about learning from and letting go of the moments that are frustrating or create feelings of self-doubt. Experience, learn, then let it go.

Reading the quote from Stephanie Precourt reminded me of my own New Year’s resolution to laugh more and to enjoy life’s little moments. It’s not always about the quantity of time, but the quality of time. And that means being present in and fully appreciating every moment I have with my sons, regardless of what those moments look like.


Looking for a little guidance for where you are in life and where you want your life to be? Explore Life Coaching services.


Consider reading The Greatness in the Small Things

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Look to the Left, Look to the Right

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

When we get ready to go out in the world, we shower, get ready and put our blinders on. We generally focus on what’s in front of us. As a result, there’s a lot that happens around us that we never seem to notice. And if you don’t notice it, you can’t consider it, use it or be changed by it. The result? A limited view of our world with a slew of missed opportunities.

To expand your view and increase your opportunities, train yourself to take off the blinders and look left, then look right. 

Look left, look right. What do you see that expands your world?

Notice the people, information and wisdom around you. I have always believed that we don’t need to create all of our own solutions in life. So many of the solutions that would be meaningful for us are already in front of us, if we would just take to time to expand our view.

Look left, look right. Who needs your help, kindness or support?

We can easily look past those who need our kind word, smile, assistance or support. Fixated on our own perspective, we sometimes forget we travel this road of life with many others. Collectively, we have the capacity to improve the lives of those around us… if we notice them.

Think how it feels when someone reaches out to you with help, kindness or support.

Look left, look right. What is one thing you could improve?

I was repeatedly reminded as a kid that everyone is here to stop and notice our world while asking, “What could I do to make things better?” When we notice in many directions, we find opportunities to bring what we do best to our world, to make changes and improvements for our benefit and for the benefit of others. Be on the lookout for ways to make things better.

Look left, look right. What is one thing you could learn?

We live in amazing times with almost unlimited access to information, skills, education and wisdom. Consider expanding what you know in areas that are not just in front of you. Learn about something that interests you or something you previously hadn’t heard of, and be willing to share what you know to activate others’ learning.

Looking left and right reminds us not to be so single-minded. Stop and notice all of the amazing things around you, then consider what opportunities the millions of people in our big, bold world create for you to learn, grow and make things better for all of us.


Consider reading Be Impressed With Your World

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Why So Serious? My New Year’s Resolution

By Kristin Allaben, Strategic Communications Specialist and Executive Assistant

We talk a lot here about being mindful and aware, and using that insight to make actionable plans to help us achieve our goals. But I find that in all the talk about achieving goals, we can sometimes become a little too serious. Sure, there’s a time to be serious, but, as the saying goes, “life is too short to be serious all the time.”

So in 2018, my New Year’s Resolution is to stop being so serious all the time, and to be more present to appreciate all of life’s moments.

My sisters have repeatedly told me that this has been the new me since I found out I was pregnant with my first son. They’ve told me – in as loving a manner as younger sisters can manage – on more than one occasion, “you’re just so much more fun now!” Who would have thought becoming a mom would make me less… “intense?” Go figure.

But it’s my goal in the New Year to not only stop and appreciate all the little things, but to also intentionally make it a priority to laugh and relax more. You can relax and roll with what happens, or be tense and worry about everything. Both are choices, but only one is productive in helping you achieve what you want.

Life is always going to present challenges. It’s how life works. But that’s also why we create goals; they help us navigate around challenges so we can achieve what matters to us.

So in an effort to make this change, and to encourage you to do the same, I’m closing this post with a meme that makes me laugh every time I see it. And not just a chuckle. A belly laugh. The kind of laugh that makes my face hurt. Regardless of the reaction it inspires in you, may it help you keep perspective as you start your work to create meaningful and achievable New Year’s resolutions.

Feel free to share this meme, and enjoy!

Consider reading Life’s Little Moments

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It’s Not Personal – It’s Just Life

By Jay Forte, Author, Coach, Educator

I used to believe that good things happen to good people and, therefore, that the converse was also true. What I have grown to believe over time is that you create your happiness (or angst and pain) in each moment, regardless of what the world and life sends.

There are stories upon stories of people who experienced what they felt was a catastrophe or negative event – an illness, losing a job, bankruptcy, divorce. This is compounded by the fact that we have been conditioned to be grateful for the things that work out and disappointed by the things that don’t go according to plan. We label and compare things so life turns into a series of events that are either good or bad, happy or sad, right or wrong.

But the reality is that successes and failures, opportunities and challenges are all just part of life. It’s not personal – it’s just life.

How we decide to deal with whatever life sends us is the critical component to living life like it matters. You determine if it is right to be good, supportive, loving, kind and generous, not because it will make good things happen to you, but because when you have this mindset, you are changed in how you experience life and show up to your world. When you choose to be loving and kind, regardless of what goes on around you, you own your life.

When you experience things that you label as disappointing, what is your approach to reassess or reflect on them for their lesson, opportunity or blessing?

When life sends you something difficult, challenging or aggravating, what is your intention to see it is as just a life event that doesn’t have to set off your triggers, inspire a meltdown or give you permission to take it out on others?

Each event comes to you as neutral. Your beliefs and what you have been taught create its meaning. You have the choice to look at whatever comes to you to find in it the opportunities, lessons and happiness. If you find your view of things continues to make you unhappy or makes you feel that you are at odds with your world and life, what beliefs need to change?

Life isn’t always easy, but it is always remarkable. It has good and tough times. Celebrate the good times. Learn from the tough times.

To quote a flight attendant from a recent flight on Southwest Airlines, “Sit back and relax or lean forward and be tense. Either way it’s your choice. We are still heading to Dallas…”

I love that. Be fully present, fully engaged and loving life – sit back and relax – or be angry, frustrated and bitter because of the things that have or haven’t happened in your life – lean forward and be tense. Either way, life is moving on. How you ride is up to you.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. How will you start to focus on what is great and good in your life, not just on the frustrations and aggravations?
  2. What tough event or situation in your life turned out to be a blessing?
  3. What is one belief you have that holds you back from loving your life? How can you start to change it?


Consider reading The Greatness in the Small Things

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What the IMAX Teaches Us About Being Present

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

I took a break from writing recently to see the new 3D movie Thor: Ragnarok at our local IMAX cinema.

The best way I can describe seeing a movie at the IMAX is that is a truly different type of movie experience. With a significantly larger screen and a fully integrated sound system that creates sound from every part of the theatre, you are completely pulled into the movie. And that’s only further enhanced when you’re watching a movie in 3D.

Those who know me may be surprised to hear I saw a movie – at the IMAX, no less. Truth is, I just can’t sit still that long. But I didn’t move for the full 2+ hours of that movie. I didn’t think about work, life’s challenges or opportunities, or what was due tomorrow. I didn’t feel the need to eat, chat or check my phone.

The IMAX knows how to make you very present, to focus only on the event in front of you and nothing else.

There are three big lessons we can learn from the IMAX experience to help us be more tuned in and present in our encounters with the people and events in our lives.

1. IMAX provides focus. At the IMAX, the screen quite literally fills your view. You’re forced to focus on the screen as a result of amazingly clear visuals that make you notice things about people and places a smaller screen with less clarity just can’t provide. As a result, you gather exponentially more information in each moment that keeps you more connected to the screen and the content.

What would it take for you to focus this way on someone or something to learn the most about them/it?

2. IMAX eliminates distractions. The screen is large and bright, and the rest of the theatre is dark. The sound and music are loud so the noises of the people around you are diminished or deleted. This compounded effect forces you to watch what they want you to watch, to tune in to the action of the moment.

What would it take to not be interrupted by distractions when you interact with someone or do something?

3. IMAX uses many senses. The sounds and sights are all-consuming. You don’t disconnect because the senses work together to keep you connected; this is done both exceedingly well and on purpose.

What would it take to concentrate all of your senses on someone or something to give your full attention?

The IMAX experience teaches us to focus, eliminate distractions and use more of our senses to be fully engaged, to get the full experience. Think of the impact this kind of awareness could have in your life, relationships and situations.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. To be more present, how can you control distractions when you are interacting with another?
  2. To be more present, how can you give a person or an event your attention?
  3. To be more present, how can you manage your emotions and feelings to stay attentive and connected?

Need help getting present? Consider talking with a coach to develop your personal mindfulness practices.


Consider reading Moving in Autopilot.

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