Who’s Helping Who?

I’ve written before about parenting in a pandemic and how our kids are actually helping us (read: the adults) cope with the way life has become. I’ve noticed that younger kids, specifically, have seemingly slid into this new normal with relative ease.

For example, my youngest son (just shy of 18 months) is happy to wear his mask and often asks for it before we get out of the car (disclaimer: he still takes it off after a while but remembers to hand it to me so he doesn’t lose it. I consider this a big win).

My middle son remembers to grab an extra mask when we leave the house, “just in case I need a new one while we’re out.”

And my oldest son is quick to point out when people aren’t wearing masks and come a little too close, or if they aren’t wearing their masks properly (“Grampie, you should have your mask over your nose…”).

It makes me sad this is part of our normal behavior, but equally as proud that we don’t have an argument about this every time we leave the house.

In fact, we had a conversation this weekend about wearing masks and why some people “just don’t do it.” My oldest pointed out, “it’s so easy and really doesn’t make that much of a difference.”

Oh, my heart.

Kids are resilient little creatures. And they have so much to share to help us grown-ups learn how to develop our stamina and grit so we can show up smarter and ready to handle life’s challenges and changes.

Here are three things my sons have taught me about adjusting to change.

  1. It’s not really that different. Even if the change we’re experiencing is a big one, I’ve been amazed at the ease with which my kids seem to accept change (and they certainly don’t greet change with open arms). Big changes like when we grew from a family of 3 to 4, then to 5, or when we had to stay home because of the pandemic. Or even little changes like removing the big kid toys from the playroom until their little brother could be trusted to play with them. They just roll with it, accepting it as the new normal and seeing it as a thing that has to be done. This approach has taught me that even when you experience a change, even if it feels uncomfortable for a minute, it will just become normal to you if you let it. Acceptance of what is gives room to decide how to accommodate it. Fighting with what is just makes life tougher than it needs to be.
  2. Control yourself, especially if you can’t control the situation. Kids are basically instructed on what they can and can’t do; it’s part of growing up. They learn the rules of what constitutes acceptable behavior. But somewhere along the way of growing up, we forget these rules and often find ourselves angry and frazzled at the world when change is thrust on us. I previously wrote about one ER trip with my middle son: my boys couldn’t control the situation, but they could control themselves. Instead of being upset or angry that our routine was interrupted, they saw the trip to the ER as an adventure and were visibly vibrating with excitement. This constantly reminds me that despite whatever life shares with me, I will not always have control over the situation, but I will always have the requirement to manage how I think about it. The situation may not be mine to control, but my attitude about the situation will always be mine to control.
  3. Make it fun! Sometimes a change can be hard and, try as you might, things still feel uncomfortable. Without realizing it, I made a snide remark in front of my kids about my store-bought mask that kept slipping off my face. Their response: “why don’t you make one that looks like ours? Can you!? We can all match!!” Done, kids. Done. We are now a family of homemade mask wearers and, because I’m a mom of boys, we have matching construction, race car and Avengers masks (coming soon: Paw Patrol, Red Sox and general sports themes). Always ask, what could make this better? or what could make this fun? Even tough situations are hosts to new and fun things if we can learn to see them.

Life is what you make it. If you choose to fight against every change life shares with you, you’ll be miserable and uncomfortable. But if you allow yourself to see the opportunities that come from change, you’ll find the adjustment period doesn’t take long at all.

Take Action
Reflect on a recent change you experienced. How did you respond to the change? What worked? What didn’t work?

Recognize when you fight change because you feel like you have a lack of control and instead see how you can control yourself. The result will be a happier and, admittedly, a more relaxed version of you.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Rebounding from Tough Times Starts With You

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Rebounding from Tough Times Starts With You

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” says the great author A. A. Milne. These aren’t just words. They are a reminder that the way out of any tough time starts with you.

Most of us have been led to believe that we don’t have what it takes to get up when the world pushes us down. We have been taught that we are weak and should therefore rely on others, our institutions or even our faith. But there’s a common denominator in all of this: any movement forward starts with you. For that, you must learn to know yourself and believe yourself capable, even in difficult times.

Most of my clients come to me not believing they have what it takes to achieve or address the thing that has brought them to me. They can’t see their way out of a challenge. They can’t achieve something that always seems out of reach.

My conversation with them starts by shifting their focus from the external (the thing they want to achieve or address) to the internal (the strengths, talents, passions and values that make them who they are).

A large part of why life seems so difficult for many people is they are unaware of how expansive they are – braver, stronger and smarter. We can’t rely on some of amazing attributes to help us through tough times if we don’t know them. That requires self-discovery and self-awareness. So, I guide my clients to start their work by developing a larger understanding of the abilities they have available to them at any moment, and to employ those abilities as needed. When they do this, they start to realize that many of life’s events that had been able to derail or distract them can be more easily handled.

Here are several of the activities I recommend to my clients to expand what they know of themselves.

  • Take a personality or abilities assessment to provide practical language of your abilities, including an introduction to abilities you may have been unaware you possess.
  • Journal your thoughts and feelings as events happen. Over time you will see your true nature and abilities come through in your thoughts.
  • Answer questions like
    • What do others applaud me for?
    • When I feel confident/successful, what am I doing?
    • When I am fully engaged and having a great time what am I doing?
    • When I make a difference that matters, what am I doing?
    • If you were to introduce yourself to someone new, what five of my attributes would I share?
  • When you find yourself avoiding or ignoring something, stop and notice why you are acting this way.
  • Ask a family member or friend to share their view of your greatest abilities and where they see you using them.

As you gather information, summarize it so you can start to see an expanding understanding of yourself. Now with greater personal awareness, look at a tough situation and ask yourself, “Which of my abilities will help me here?” This shift from feeling challenged about the situation to addressing it head-on by using your expanded abilities activates your energy, confidence and success.

Sure, there will be some extremely tough events in life – some larger than any of us. But most of what we feel are challenging situations take on this feeling because we fail to see that we are braver, stronger and smarter than we believe ourselves to be. We just need to know more about ourselves.

Take Action
It is up to you to navigate yourself through all of the situations in life, both the easy ones and the tough ones. The easy ones build your energy. The tough ones require your energy. Fuel yourself with knowledge about who you are (through self-discovery work) so that you have it ready to go when life asks more of you.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Why Everyone Needs a Snapshot

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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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When it is Okay to Do Just Enough at Work?

By Jay Forte

Is it ever okay to do just enough at work?

How about when:

  • a customer aggravates or challenges you?
  • a manager disrespects you?
  • a CEO is sharp, critical or impatient?
  • a fellow employee frustrates you?
  • a customer is late paying their bill?
  • a colleague never says good morning?

My response is “never!”

How you show up to things in the workplace (and in life) is more about you than others or the situation you may find yourself in. It is your choice to allow what and how you encounter bother, distract or irritate you. But with some awareness and mindfulness, you could learn to respond instead of react, letting you keep your cool and live to your own standards.

Think about the list of examples above. Pick one and play out the scenario in your head. A quick reaction in any of those scenarios would most definitely result in an unproductive situation, whether someone yells, someone quits or someone is just in a bad mood.

But imagine what those scenarios could look like if you had a mindful response instead. What if you allowed yourself to not be affected by the situation? What if you just cut the other person some slack because they, like you, sometimes feel overwhelmed? What if you simply remind yourself to see what is right about the person or situation, instead of what is wrong? You just might surprise yourself with how productive the outcome could be.

To get to a productive outcome requires a mindful response, one that can only be reached when you are aware of your feelings, emotions and triggers, and when you choose to manage them.

Self-management is, in my opinion, one of the greatest skills everyone can benefit from, particularly in the workplace. Self-management is the process of being aware of and controlling our behaviors to be more responsive, respectful and productive in any situation. Learning to be self-managed always leads to better outcomes.

Life sends what it sends. People act as they act. As mindfulness author Eckert Tolle says, “people respond from their level of awareness.” The more self-aware and self-managed you are, the more life and work situations will not take you down.  They won’t elicit a reaction and your day and mood will be unaffected. You will take them in stride because sometimes, that is how it is.

Remember, your response is always up to you. Be affected and be miserable, or manage your emotions and stay calm and happy. Or as a very wise Southwest Airlines flight attendant said one day on my flight to Dallas, “Sit back and relax or lean forward and be tense. Your choice. Either way, we are going to Dallas.”

Choose wisely.

Take Action

So, when is it okay to just do enough? Never. Do you best everywhere because every moment of work and life is worthy of your best. Choose it because how you act is always about you. Consider how you can become more self-aware and self-managed. Start by getting a better understanding of yourself with our free 3AboutMe Talent Assessment.

 

Consider reading Bad Days Don’t Have to be Bad

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Maybe We Just Aren’t a Kind People

By Jay Forte

Why is it we pull together when confronted with a catastrophe? Remember how we felt after 9/11. We cared about each other. We loved each other. We helped each other. We didn’t see our differences; we saw our similarities. We wanted to hear each other’s stories and cared enough about what they were going through to really listen and to try to help. We were united.

Now look at us. We see each other as enemies. We can’t listen to people who don’t share our perspectives. In fact, we demean, criticize and hurt those who don’t share our beliefs. We lose family and friends over a variety of hot button issues, like equal rights, free speech, racism, the environment and a variety of other things that fill the news.

I can’t remember a time when we have had so little regard for each other. We are so focused on having what we want that we forget we share the country with others. This realization could incite a range of emotions, but for me, it’s disappointment.

I’m disappointed with the churches that support and condone hatred and disrespect of anyone. I’m disappointed with anyone in a political office who disrespects any part of our population. I’m disappointed with anyone who thinks some of us are more valuable or more important and treats others poorly as a result. I’m disappointed with people who don’t have room in their heart for those who are suffering, homeless or in pain just because they don’t look like, act like or live like we do.

This behavior is seemingly so apparent that it makes me wonder: maybe we just aren’t a kind people.

But, we weren’t born hateful and judgmental. We learned it. So, if we can learn it, could we also relearn how to be kind?

Our country is an experiment. Could people who look different, believe different things and live in different ways learn to see what is great in each other, collaborate with each other and find a way to peacefully live with each other? Could we show the rest of the world that we don’t always agree but we commit to solving our issues fairly and respectfully? Could we show the world that when we are kind, caring and respectful of each other, we unite to do remarkable things both at home and in the world?

I believe we can.

If we are mindful enough, we can learn to shift from seeing what is different with others to seeing what makes them remarkable (because there are remarkable attributes in all of us). And as such, they deserve our respect, care and support.

Our founding fathers’ intention in creating a country committed to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness wasn’t about who could have the most stuff, so we could feel more important than others. It was the belief that we must work together to build a culture that allowed everyone to self-realize, to cultivate their potential so they could deliver that potential back to our world. This is how things improve. This is the formula to be our best to make things better for all of us in our country.

And if we can do this within our borders, we could learn to do it and teach others to do it with everyone on the planet.

The result? A kinder and more mindful world where everyone has a life that matters. We all live under the same big sky. Whatever life sends, we have the collective genius to handle it. But to do this, we need everyone. We need everyone to contribute their ideas, support and remarkable abilities. Life is big and complicated, but we have what we need to handle it wisely and well. To do this, we will have to learn – or relearn – how to be kind.

Take Action

Check in on yourself. Are you kind, caring and respectful to everyone? If so, bravo! If not, check in on whatever beliefs you have that give you permission to behave otherwise. Kindness encourages relationships; being unkind discourages them. Relationships drive trust, and trust drives the ability to work together and solve life’s challenges. Maybe it is time for a belief adjustment.

 

Consider reading Your Personal Board of Directors

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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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Want to Change the World? Engage a Coach.

By Jay Forte

It starts with the word potential.

Few of us are aware of our potential – of what is possible in and by us. We haven’t discovered our greatness or our core abilities. Instead, we have allowed the world to fill in these details for us and, as a result, we show up as others want us to be instead of who we really are. We miss out on what we are capable of doing, being or contributing, shortchanging ourselves and our world.

And for this reason, people get stuck. They find themselves disappointed, aggravated and irritated with life. They don’t see its greatness because they find themselves in jobs, lives, relationships and circumstances that just don’t fit them.

As poet Mary Oliver says in her famous poem, The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Will you let others direct it or will you learn to discover who you really are, what remarkable abilities you were born with and how you want to develop and live them to make your impact in your world? Or, will you see that a great and amazing life is one you define, but for that, you must be aware of who you are and aware of what is going on in today’s world, so you can connect the two in an intentional way?

If all of us were able to discover, develop and live our greatness or our potential, think of the impact we could make in every aspect of life. We would put ourselves into the places that need what we do and like best. We would support others to discover and develop their abilities and potential so they could own their part of making a better world. We would begin to realize that we each have something important to discover, develop and share with our world – each of us doing what it is we do best to make things better.

Enter coaching.

Coaching guides you into developing clarity of who you are and how to define and work to achieve your potential in your world through an intentional and thought-provoking conversation.

The coaching conversation examines what you know of you, expands this and identifies what interrupts you from accessing your potential or achieving your goals. Coaching is not designed to relive your past or look to correct or improve you; you are fine as you are, no fixing needed. Coaching does, however, focus on helping you become more aware of who you are, your abilities and liabilities, your beliefs that direct your choices and decisions, and how this information is helping or holding you back from living your potential. Only by becoming aware are you able to navigate through these blocks and challenges to live a great, happy and successful life (in the way you define great, happy and successful).

Coaching creates the time and focus to examine the things in our lives that need a deeper review. Through guidance comes clarity. Through clarity comes direction. Through direction comes achievement. This process helps each of us tap into our own abilities and our own understandings to move ourselves in the direction(s) we want but may sometimes feel are out of reach. And in the process, we access what is best in us to deliver the thing(s) we are called to do.

How well do you know you and what you are capable of? How aware are you of the needs, challenges and opportunities in your world? How willing are you to find a way to bring your best and be your best in all you to to make your and our world better?

Want to change the world? Live your potential and help others live theirs. How can you start this process? Engage a coach.

 

Consider reading Are You Rigid or Flexible?

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Living Today on Yesterday’s Beliefs

By Jay Forte

Discussing a client’s beliefs is frequently a large part of many coaching conversations. After all, beliefs are what direct most of the behaviors we employ in our days.

Our beliefs are developed throughout our lives. They are reflections of our interactions with parents, teachers, neighbors, friends, bosses, fellow employees, churches and organizations. They are also influenced by social media and today’s 24-hour news cycle.

Understanding how our beliefs are developed is important because our beliefs guide us, and they don’t always guide us well. In fact, many of our beliefs are unintentional – we do what we do because we have always done it.

You need to be aware of what you believe, why you believe it and whether or not it improves your life and makes your world better. If so, continue them. If not, assess where your beliefs came from and whether you want to retain them, modify them or discontinue them.

On the morning of the second day of a multiple-day coaching program, I ask my students to reflect on this statement: “When you went to bed last night, the world changed. What worked yesterday but may not be effective today?”

I ask you a similar question. When you went to bed last night, the world changed. Which of your beliefs should you review to see if they no longer serve you?

This question alludes to the existence of limiting beliefs. A limiting belief is something we believe to be true – whether it is or isn’t – that limits our ability to be fully present, effective or able to achieve our potential for our benefit and the benefit of our world.

Here are some examples.

  • You may believe that because you are the CEO, you have the right to boss people around – or you can see that old belief is now ineffective in today’s knowledge workplace.
  • You may believe that people who drive a specific expensive imported car are snobs, until you meet one who isn’t like that at all.
  • You may believe that life has it out for you, until you stop and notice the actual number of great things going on in your life.
  • You may believe that all successful people have been to Ivy League colleges, only to see that most of today’s most successful people attended non-Ivy League colleges, if they attended college at all.

Now, what if you examined your beliefs to better understand them and to choose those that both serve to connect you more fully to your potential, while also advancing and supporting others in achieving their potential? Which beliefs would you retain and which would you release? A good belief review and editing session is an important and recurring part of all effective self-awareness.

Nothing stays the same. Life is about change. That means to accommodate and use change well, check in regularly on the things that guide you. Be flexible and resilient to live life fully, kindly, successfully and with great intention. Commit to developing beliefs that allow you to be who you really are so you can bring to the world those very things you are capable or called to do.

Don’t be afraid to challenge or release beliefs that no longer serve you. Believe what you believe on purpose, not out of intimidation, fear or compliance. Own what you believe so you live as your true self. Don’t let anyone tell you or fill in your beliefs for you. Consider what you hear from your world then choose and own what is right for you.

This is the key to living an authentic, impactful and world-improving life. You can’t make your impact in life if you live someone else’s beliefs.

Take Action

Need help getting clear about your beliefs, which are supporting and which are limiting you? Contact us to discuss how coaching can help you develop life clarity and become your life’s owner.

 

Consider reading Are You Putting Bricks in Your Backpack?

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If You See Something, Say Something

By Jay Forte

If you’ve ever traveled, you’ve likely heard this line announced repeatedly over transit PA systems. It is a reminder to tune in, to be aware of anything that looks out of the ordinary for your safety and for the safety of the traveling public.

See something, say something is a powerful mantra I believe can be used in various aspects of your life. Take the workplace, for example. What if it were your habit to tune in, pay attention and share your thoughts about what works and doesn’t work in how you deliver an exceptional employee experience? What difference could this make in your business?

All too frequently, we move through our days following routine, so much so that we often miss when things change or overlook something new. This is why the expression “thinking outside the box” was created. Its intention was to challenge people to think creatively by activating non-conventional thinking, something that can only be done when you expand what you see.

Most of us look straight ahead; we go through life with blinders on, not noticing anything out of our direct line of vision. So, I think it’s time we updated our terminology. Instead of “thinking outside the box,” let’s “see things out of the corner of our eyes.”

This focus on seeing connects us to our world, but now with the awareness to move our blinders just a bit in both directions to increase what is available to be seen. And once seen, it can be considered. You can’t make a difference and improve things if you don’t first see / notice them.

The see something, say something manta reminds us of two things. First, it offers a reminder to be more attentive, aware and watching. Tune in to every element of your life at work – your workplace (as a whole), your customers, your products, your existing processes. What’s working? What’s not working? What can be improved?

Second, the see something, say something mantra offers a reminder to take responsibility. Once you expand what you notice and see, how are you taking the responsibly to share your thoughts, ideas and possibilities to make things better? Or do you wait for your manager, leader or colleague to propose something, improve something or challenge something?

If you see something, say something. Tune in, watch and notice more. Expand what you see. And when you see new things or ways to make things better, say something. Take responsibility; don’t wait for others.

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. What is one thing you can do today to expand what you see, to move your blinders and see things out of the corners of your eyes?
  2. What is one thing you have been stepping over that you should say something about to improve it?
  3. How might you use this same thinking at home and / or in your personal life?

 

Consider reading Curiosity and Critical Thinking

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