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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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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The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 5

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

For those who find themselves in Level 5 energy on the Energy Funnel, they are classified as “The Seeker.”

Level 5 energy is characterized by a deeper understanding of their place in the world and purposeful living. It manifests as being self-aware, confident, trusting and opportunity-focused. People in Level 5 energy are productive, insightful, intentional, supportive and strategic. They focus on a win-win mindset and seek out opportunities for everyone to be successful. They easily invent and see possibilities.

Notice that Level 5 energy is powerfully anabolic; you’re not only focusing on others, but on your own happiness and success. This creates a powerful impact on others, especially since those in Level 5 energy approach each situation with care and support.

What Level 5 Looks Like

Imagine you’ve been asked to join a focus group. You are part of team that includes fellow employees from all areas of your organization. The goal of the focus group is to expand ways to improve the customer experience that also improve the employee experience. All ideas are to be considered, as long as they improve things for employees and customers. You propose ideas and focus on building on the ideas of others. You are committed to the goal of improving things and making a difference that matters.

Or, as a parent, you hear your children arguing over a toy they both want to play with. You calmly step in to present an idea that allows both children to have time with the toy in a way that matters to each. Everyone is happy and everyone gets their turn with the toy.

Summary

  • Thought: Acceptance
  • Feeling: Confidence
  • Action: Creation
  • Advantages of Level 5 energy: everything is an opportunity and nothing is perceived as personal
  • Disadvantages of Level 5 energy: take big risks as a result of being too opportunity-focused; easy to disconnect from emotions and relationships by focusing too much on performance and achievement

Remember: when you notice that you are in Level 5 energy, you can become aware of what is inspiring this level of energy. You then have the choice to decide if you’ll continue to approach the situation with Level 5 energy or if you’ll leverage any of the other six levels.

As you become more aware of your emotions, and your understanding of the six levels of energy improves, you’ll see that your energy level is yours to choose. The result is that you can significantly improve your outlook, outcome and experience.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What activates Level 5 energy for you?
  2. How is Level 5 energy productive for you?
  3. How is Level 5 energy unproductive for you?
  4. When it is unproductive, how can you move to a more productive energy level?

Do people view your confidence as a turn-off, yet it’s what drives you to success? Schedule a complimentary 15-minute coaching session with Jay to determine if coaching is right for you to leverage your strengths to further develop your greatest self.

 

Continue reading about the next energy level: Level 6.

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