I’m Grateful For [Fill in the Blank]

I was recently doing an in-home workout and the instructor said something that struck me: “Are you out of breath? Be grateful for that. Be grateful that you have the ability and the opportunity to be out of breath by moving.”

That literally stopped me in my tracks. I think many people who workout to any degree can appreciate the feeling of being out of breath and being embarrassed when it happens so quickly or so easily during a workout. But to have the ability to shift your mentality about what it means? Eye opening.

It got me thinking about the mindset shift we talk about at The Forte Factor. When we say mindset shift, we’re talking about your ability to change the way you see something and, therefore, the way you think about it and respond to it. It’s based in being aware of yourself and your surroundings, and using that information to decide (with intention) what to do next (and how to do it).

As you can imagine, most people believe that to be able to master the mindset shift requires significant work.

Here’s why that’s not true.

Sure, to master a mindset shift requires practice, but “mastering” the mindset shift really just requires the ability to interrupt what you always do (stop) to notice what’s happening in a specific moment. Then, with the additional information you noticed by being present to your moment, you can make your best decision and go act.

Seeing your loss of breath during a workout is an opportunity – a stop and notice moment. Though you could use it to be embarrassed or judge the shape you are in, you could also use it to see your progress, applaud your energy and reconfirm your focus on fitness. Same event. Different mindset.

Getting caught in the rain because you forgot an umbrella is a moment to be thankful that you have the ability to feel the rain, and then run from it. Until this moment, what was your mindset about getting caught in the rain?

Standing in an extremely slow-moving line for coffee is a moment to be thankful that you have the funds available to purchase what you’re waiting for as well as to connect with the people who are experiencing the same line as you. Until this moment, what was your mindset about waiting in line for coffee?

Being able to make the mindset shift is all about intention, so start small. Catch yourself in the little moments. Stop and notice what you think, feel and do. Each of these little moments provide you with the opportunity to expand what you experience and choose how you experience the world around you. Each provide moments to be grateful for, and moments to build on.

Take Action
Make the effort to intentionally stop at various points throughout your day to notice you (what you are thinking and feeling) and your world (what is going on). Then work to see the good, the important, the valuable and the exceptional in that moment. Challenge yourself to be more aware of when you feel yourself getting frustrated, embarrassed or annoyed. Instead of allowing those unproductive emotions to take the lead, flip the situation on its head. Practice your mindset shift. Start by saying, “I’m grateful for…” and fill in the blank.

You’ll see an immediate shift in your demeanor, behavior and mentality for the rest of the day.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Life’s Little Moments

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A Look in the Mirror

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my lists:

Before Quarantine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Kristin Allaben

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

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Could COVID-19 Help Us Get Back to More Successful Relationships?

When it comes to maintaining relationships, technology has been a mixed blessing. It has allowed many of us to stay in touch with family and friends who are too far away to see on a regular basis. But it has also given us a lazy pass to avoid the face-to-face time with those closest to us.

With the arrival of COVID-19 and our requirement to maintain social distancing, it’s forcing us to review our use of technology in relationships.

Have we been sacrificing our relationships this whole time?

Think about your living situation. Most of us are now required to be with our families or roommates all day, every day. In the past, we could escape if a situation became too much or was uncomfortable (think about how many people NEED to go the movies during a holiday week, just to get out of the house and away from their families).

In our COVID-19 world, we have no quick escape. We have to stay put and work it out.

It might seem tough, but let me suggest a new way to see this: an opportunity to improve your existing relationships. I see this time as learning through immersion.

The best way to see this is with languages. When you really want to develop great language proficiency, you spend time in that country. You are surrounded by it in every aspect of your days. You can feel overwhelmed by it or you can see it for the opportunity to develop skills quickly.  Your attitude about it will determine your success with it.

We are in a similar situation now. We have been immersed in our relationships. By changing your attitude about it, along with these ideas, we can use this unique moment to build better, more sustainable and more effective relationships.

  1. Acknowledge your situation. Have a family or apartment meeting to identify the elephant in the room. Pretending that all communication and interactions will be easy when you are forced to spend time with each other won’t serve you well. Instead, see that this moment will require more from each of you and a goal could be a collective focus on getting along better and building better relationships.
  2. Create new rules. We know that sometimes in relationships, we can trigger each other by what we say, how we say it or, sometimes, what we don’t say. Gather ideas for rules that will encourage open, caring, professional and managed communications throughout the day. Holding each other accountable to create, support and comply with the rules can get everyone on the same page. Use the rules to focus on building and sustaining quality relationships, not to spark competition, fights or holding a grudge.
  3. Share more of yourself and learn more about others. Make time to get to better know the people in your environment. Most of the time, we only know a little about each other, or we share only a little about ourselves. This is true even for families. Use this quarantine time to ask deeper questions, listen more generously, understand each other more significantly and connect more personally. Think of the people who get stranded in a bus station or airport because of a storm. As the time progresses, they realize that the quality of their experience will be in how they connect and support each other. They frequently leave the situation as friends or even just more appreciative of each other.

Take Action
Four weeks in, are you frustrated with the quarantine? Or are you finding your relationships with family members, friends / roommates are getting better?

We can react and be frustrated or disappointed that we are in this situation, but this is an ineffective use of energy and emotion. Instead, create and act on the intention to use this moment to build stronger relationships. Use this moment to be more present, gather and share more information and come away more informed and connected.

The world will send what it will send – COVID-19 or something else. At first glance, we can be discouraged by it. But, if you reframe your thinking to see the opportunity in whatever comes your way, you will always be impressed, instead of disappointed, by life.

Check out our upcoming FREE 30-minute webinar on How to Have Your Relationships Survive Quarantine on April 15, 2020 at 8:30 p.m. ET. Register to reserve your spot.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Don’t Be An Ostrich

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Current Strengths and Future Potential

When you really stop and notice, you can discover things about yourself that you would have otherwise missed. Consider the strengths you become aware of and tune in to. These are the key to activating your potential.

But what, exactly, is potential?

I believe your potential is what you are capable of doing, being or contributing. Perhaps ironically, most of us have never been introduced to our potential for a number of reasons. It could be because of overly supportive parents who created an easy road and life for us. It could be a micromanaging boss who told you what to do and how to do it. It could be a school system that moved you only as far as the middle of the pack because it is easier to provide the same education to everyone delivered in the same way.

In each of these situations, we were not introduced to or able to develop our strengths, to see what we came equipped with and are made of. We can’t see this until we have a chance to use it.

This is your wake-up call, to seek and act on your true potential. After all, we can’t change and improve things if we first can’t see what is happening. So many of us don’t know how capable we are because we haven’t developed our self-awareness and self-belief. The result is that we have learned we can just get by instead of making a profound difference.

Though it is certainly easier to blame our environments, the process of developing into our greatest selves is our personal work to do. It’s not the responsibility of your parents, boss or the school system. It is up to each of us to spend time knowing ourselves so we can discover what unique abilities we were born with, then constantly work to discover how to bring those abilities to our lives and our world. This is the process of potential.

No one was born with an owner’s manual that summarizes our abilities. We learn them as we live and as we make time to discover them. Once discovered, it’s up to you to develop your abilities to create your strengths. Then, with this knowledge, you have the ability to bring these strengths into your day in a managed and intentional way. This is how you achieve your potential.

Take Action
Information is key to understanding yourself. If you are not aware of your strengths, consider taking an online assessment, work with a coach or carve out some quiet time to reflect on these questions:

  • What am I really good at?
  • What do I love to do?
  • How can I use this to reach my potential?

Use your strengths – they are your key to being remarkable.   

Know your best, bring your best, do great things. This is how to build a great life and a great world.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Don’t Do Average, Make it an Experience

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To Change A Habit, Try Something Different

As a coach, I find the best service I can provide to my clients is to help them learn to see any situation – whether an opportunity or a challenge – from a variety of perspectives. When they learn to see it differently, they can try different things. This can amplify an opportunity or remove a block or a challenge, frequently resulting in a better outcome. The major reason is because it challenges a habit.

Most of the time, we look through the same lenses at the events, relationships and circumstances of life. We approach a challenge in the same way, frequently disappointed with our inability to solve it or to find a way around it.  We use what we know even though it doesn’t give us the result we really want. The same goes for opportunities. Sometimes, we approach an opportunity in the same way we always have, preventing us from truly taking advantage of all it can offer.

Why do we do this? Because habits are comfortable, and we rarely change what we’re comfortable with, even if it doesn’t give us the results we want.

Habits can help us, but they can also be the reason why we feel stuck, disappointed and unproductive. Consider these frequently unconscious habits:

  • When your kids get you upset, you raise your voice. It’s your habit, and I bet if you habitually raise your voice when you are challenged by your kids, you likely do it with your employees or colleagues, or even when someone cuts you off on the highway. After all, it’s a habit.
  • You avoid having a difficult conversation because you are non-confrontational. You don’t address what needs to be said or dealt with because of the discomfort of dealing with them, so you put up with an unproductive or unacceptable relationship with a spouse, friend, neighbor, manager or colleague. It’s a habit.

To start to undo an unproductive habit, do something different. At first it seems challenging. After all, we do the things that feel comfortable – even if they are unproductive. Tell yourself to try something new in handling the situation to see if it improves the outcome. In the process, you’ll start to see that you are more able, capable and talented than you initially thought.

You don’t know until you try.

So, consider what could change when you challenge your habit behaviors. What if you eliminate raising your voice for anything for a day or a week? No yelling at anyone for any reason. As you remember this, you force yourself to solve or deal with the situation in a new way. Many times, you will find you have other more successful abilities that help you create a better outcome.

What if you make a commitment to say what is on your mind, lovingly and with care, but you still commit to saying it in a situation with one person you normally avoid saying what you feel or think? Start by offering your perspective about something small or minor. Then notice how you did with it. How did you feel? Could you see that you have the ability to do this, and it was just habit to avoid it?

Take Action
Identify an unproductive habit you have. This week, whenever you would normally do this habit or behavior, do something different. Notice what outcome it creates, as well as what new abilities you notice in yourself.

You are more talented and amazing than you know. Ironically, it’s your habits can hold you back. Do things differently and you will start to see how much more talented and amazing you are. Start small, but start.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Here is Your Permission Slip

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The Waiting Game

When you find yourself waiting, what are you doing? Checking your phone? Tapping your foot? Pacing? Getting irritated?

What could you be doing instead?

I recently had a conversation with a friend who took her young daughter to the pediatrician. While in the waiting room, she handed her daughter a coloring book and some crayons. The receptionist said, “I think you’re the first parent I’ve seen in weeks not just hand a phone or tablet to their kid while they waited.”

Though we both celebrated the fact that we must be doing something right if others are noticing our actions, we also both admittedly became pretty judgmental: “what are these other parents even doing with their kids?” We listed out things that parents and kids could be doing together while waiting, like coloring, playing a game, telling a story, sharing a memory, inventing something or just talking about life, to name a few.

And that’s when it hit me. Though I may be good at inventing opportunities to keep my kids engaged, I’m the first to pull out my phone when I’m in a waiting room alone (pot, meet kettle). Whether it’s at a doctor’s office, waiting for my car getting serviced or something else, I’m quick to fill the void with something to distract me.

But choosing to zone out with my phone means I’m missing the opportunity to tune in to what’s going on around me. I could miss the opportunity to speak with the woman sitting next to me who has so much wisdom to share. I could miss the opportunity to learn about a deal or discount available if I opt in for a short, extra service while I’m already there with the car. I could miss the opportunity to share what I do as a life coach with someone who is looking for some guidance to figure out their next step in life.

Instead of thinking, “this is going to be such a waste of time,” consider asking yourself, “how can I use this opportunity to connect to those, and the world, around me?” Or even, “what am I not seeing that would be worth seeing?”

Take Action
Consider this quote from our Power Within email on September 23, 2019: Today, I will be humble enough to know I am not better than anyone else, and confident to know that I am just as good. We all have great value.

Instead of tuning out when you find yourself waiting, imagine what life could present to you if you choose to tune in. Try it. You never know who you could meet, what you may learn, or what opportunity awaits you. We all have great value if you use the waiting game as an opportunity to discover yourself and your world.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading The Post-It Note as a Mindfulness Tool

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The Way to a Great Life? Tune in, Reflect, Then Respond

By Jay Forte

Most of us move through life in a hurried and habit way. We rush through our days, rarely taking the time to actually stop and notice ourselves, how we feel and what is going on around us. We eat lunch and dinner without really even noticing or tasting our food. We have conversations during our days that we can’t even remember we had later the same day. We don’t really know what we like or are good at. The reason? We haven’t learned how to tune in, reflect and respond.

Your world is filled with information that is shared with you in each moment. This information has the ability, when used and reflected on, to improve your next moment, decision or response. This is the process of awareness and mindfulness – of tuning in, reflecting and responding in an intentional way to improve your outcomes.

Let’s use this thinking and look at your relationships, work and life.

Tune in, reflect and respond in your relationships. What if you actually looked at someone when you spoke to them, instead of also trying to multitask? (Newsflash: Multitasking is not a success attribute. Your brain can only process one thing at a time, so the more you try to do multiple things once, it actually shortchanges the impact of each thing you are trying to accomplish.) When connecting with someone, pay attention to them – what they are saying, feeling, thinking and saying. Then reflect on what they said, felt, thought or felt. Only by doing this can you have a more meaningful and intentional response.

Tune in, reflect and respond in your work. How much of your work day are you in habit mode, doing the same things? What if you tuned in and reflected on what you do, and asked yourself “what could be better here?” Make time to reflect on what, why and how you do what you do to determine if you can improve your performance and connection with customers or clients. The impact could be profound for you and for your workplace.

Tune in, reflect and respond in your life. How much time, effort and energy do you give to living a meaningful life that fits you, your abilities and your interests? What effort do you put in to learn what makes you different, unique and amazing? How often do you make time to reflect on where in today’s world are the opportunities that need what you do and like best? The more intentionally you approach the world – to go out and live it on your terms, not on the terms of the loud voices around you that are generally more interested in your compliance to their beliefs than to help you discover, develop and live yours – the more remarkable it can be. As poet Mary Oliver asks in her poem, The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

It’s a profound question.

What’s your answer?

Tune in to notice who you are and what is going on in your world. Reflect on the opportunities to connect the real you to the places in work and life that need what you do and like best. Respond using your greater clarity to live and work as it fits you, making a most amazing life and a better world in the process.

Take Action

Practice tuning out to tune in. Give yourself 5 or 10 minutes of quiet two times a day. Practice becoming aware. With awareness comes mindfulness, the ability to make informed decisions based on information about you and your world to make your next moment better.

 

Consider reading Tune Out to Tune In

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Moving in Autopilot

By Kristin Allaben, Executive Assistant & Strategic Communications Specialist

I remember the first time someone told me to “be aware.”

I was 16, sitting in my driver’s education class. My instructor played a short video, showing a driver’s view as they drove a car down several side streets and took a few turns before parking. My instructor shut off the short 15 or 20 second video and asked the class to identify the first road sign the driver passed.

I had no idea. I remember feeling stunned into awareness. I was watching the road but certainly wasn’t paying attention to the things within view of the drive, like the road signs.

This alarmed me to the things going on around me that I may be missing by moving through life in autopilot. If you are in autopilot, you will miss what’s happening around you – all the information and opportunities your world has to offer.

The next major awareness wake-up call happened for me the year after I graduated from college. Working full time and going to graduate school online at night, I had a routine. Get up, go to work, come home, go for a run, eat, go to class, go to bed. Repeat.

I vividly remember working on an assignment for one of my courses when I realized the content being taught went against what I was being taught on the job. Awareness. Enlightenment. My wake-up call. I had a moment of clarity that pointed to the fact that the program was not for me. I chose to leave the program and focus on my career instead.

If I had been moving in autopilot, focused on just getting the work done vs. being tuned in to the information I was reading, I may have missed this critical moment to decide if the degree was worth the investment (both time and money).

Moral of the story: catch yourself when you’re moving in autopilot, but don’t confuse it with routine. Routine can be healthy and help you stay focused. Though you are in routine, you are still aware and still making choices on purpose. But when you’re in autopilot, you tune out much of what’s happening around you. You do things out of habit and risk the chance of missing some of the greatest opportunities life can present to you.

Be mindful of what’s happening around you. Tune in to be aware of the opportunities that come out of every situation. Life has a funny way of surprising you. Get out of habit and autopilot. Get into being mindful, aware and ready for life’s opportunities.

 

Read Tune Out to Tune In

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