The Key to Really Good Relationships (When Winter Brings You Back Inside)

The [forced] time together has just moved past the 9-month mark. Summer weather gave us the chance to get a little more space from each other, but now that colder weather is back, we’re all back inside and many people are struggling in their relationships.

Though we are social creatures, we don’t really do relationships all that well. Think about it: when things are going well, relationships seem to thrive. But when we get stressed by something like today’s pandemic, our worst behaviors come out, putting strain on every relationship we have. I don’t think it’s uncommon to observe that time spent with each other can start to look and sound more like professional wrestling than a loving household.

So, knowing winter will keep many of us in a tighter space with each other for the next several months, how do we relish our relationships instead of retreat from them? As a coach and a passionate believer in the power of relationships, here are four ideas to building and sustaining great relationships.

  1. Manage your emotions. The key to any great relationships is being able to stay calm even when situations around you are aggravating, frustrating or even irritating. Though you can’t control every situation or other people, you must be able to control and manage yourself. Staying calm lets you to access your best thinking and helps you see things more clearly because you’re not automatically looking for a fight. When you’re in that calmer frame of mind, the small things don’t get to you and the big things seem more manageable because you can sort through them and develop options to solve them. We find the best way to manage your emotions really starts with understanding the things or people that trigger your anger, fear, anxiety or frustration, among others. We call these unproductive emotions. Then, develop a particular technique to stay calm when confronted by these triggers, like focused breathing, writing in a gratitude journal, chatting with a friend, reading something inspirational or spending time with a hobby. These are distraction techniques that help you to not react to the trigger. Being aware of the trigger and then having a plan to deal with it is a great way to start managing your emotions.
  2. Tell the truth. All great relationships require a solid foundation – trust. Trust is built by listening to each other, showing mutual respect, being considerate, being dependable and being supportive. And when you have trust in a relationship, the people involved are able to talk to each other to do more of what works and improve the things that don’t work well. As a suggestion, have a conversation with those you are in relationship with and assess the level of trust in the relationship. Discuss ways to increase it to build a stronger foundation and a more lasting relationship. Remember to manage your emotions so you can stay calm and present in your conversations.
  3. Help others be their best selves. So many relationships require each other to be who the other needs them to be – not who they are. To be in a real relationship with someone is to want to help them discover, develop and live their potential – to find their way, to be who they really are and to live their best life. This can’t happen if we continually direct or control them into our version of a great life for them. I have realized in my many years of coaching and my own self-discovery process that finding my way is up to me but getting support from those who care about me is essential. Their support helps me stay focused and encouraged because the process of being yourself in a world that is so quick to tell you who to be is hard work. Knowing we have people who care about us encouraging, guiding and supporting builds a relationship.
  4. Always be kind. You don’t have to agree with each other to be in a good relationship, but how you disagree is what builds or destroys the relationship. The one clear rule that belongs in a relationship is to always be kind. Be kind in how you act and in what you say. Even difficult news is better received when it is delivered with kindness. Kindness is about the feelings behind the interaction. It is possible to be disappointed with a friend, client or partner and share that disappointment in a loving and kind way. After all, you are likely disappointed with a behavior or an action, not with the person. Without kindness, you can unintentionally trigger each other, launching into a battle of unproductive emotions. 

Relationships don’t have to be a challenge, despite what we’ve seen in movies and tv shows. Turn off the drama and focus on building or rebuilding the important relationships in your life. They start with you. They need you to be able to manage your emotions, tell the truth, be kind and support others. As you do this, others will learn, follow and return the behaviors.

The new year is just around the corner. This is a perfect time to rebuild or repair some damaged relationships that may have been a casualty of the election, or of being quarantined for the past few months. Regardless, the greatest gift in life is the gift of relationships. But like everything that is really valuable, they take work and effort. What helps in this is understanding what to do and how to do it. From there, all things are possible.  

Take Action
Think about the people you have a relationship with. Choose one where the relationship is not where you’d like it to be. Visualize how you want the relationship to be and do the following:

  1. Get calm by managing your emotions. What emotions are you feeling when it comes to that relationship? What is triggering those emotions? Are they productive or unproductive?
  2. Assess the level of trust and your behavior in the relationship. It’s important to remember that there are two parts to every story, and the same goes for relationships. Be aware of your role and behavior in the relationship, and be honest with yourself. What’s working? What’s not working?
  3. In a loving and kind way, invite the other person to rebuild or repair the relationship by sharing the work you’ve done so far to identify areas that are working well and areas that could be better. Engage in a conversation, not an argument. Manage your emotions.

By following these steps, you’ll see the quality of life improve for both of you.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Don’t Go Back to Normal. Instead, Focus on Becoming Better

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Seeing Through the Fog

Yes, it has been difficult to imagine what next week will look like, let alone thinking about a new year. So how do we start to focus on rebuilding and rethinking what we want to accomplish, achieve or create in 2021?

Visualize.

Visualization is the process of picturing what you want. The ability to visualize helps create clarity. Stephen Covey shared in Habit #2 of his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “begin with the end in mind.” Getting clear about what you want or what success means to you is a key part of building a plan and achieving it.

But how can you get clear when your world is still so covered in so much uncertainty by the unresolved pandemic? Here is where another great coaching skill can serve you well – imagining.

Imagining is the process of allowing yourself to create, dream or invent whatever you want. It has no regard to what is currently possible, ignoring any restrictions or unknown factors. It simply allows you to focus on what you truly want to be, achieve, etc.

Think about it this way: you are walking along a beach and you see something shiny. You reach down to pick it up and realize it is an old lamp. You rub it to see the exterior more clearly and a genie appears. The genie offers you one wish.

So now ask yourself: if you could have whatever you want, what would it be? (This is a great activity for a family, a couple or a workplace team, as well.)

Imagining is important for two reasons.

First, it reminds you that no matter how tough things are, you are still the creator of your life. Though you may have to revise some of your imagined ideas when it comes time to implementation, you still have more control over this process than the fog makes you think. The fog robs you of your ability to feel empowered, engaged and in control, taking away your energy. With no energy and a feeling of no control, it limits your ability to dream, stay focused and achieve the things that matter. The fog makes you give up.

Second, imagining gets you excited. When things are dark, obscure and uncertain, imagining a new beginning, a better outcome or even a new direction amplifies your energy. You get charged up and it inspires a feeling that all (or at least more) things are possible. That energy is necessary to see through the fog so you can start building your plan to achieve what you want.

Take Action
Seeing through the fog is your key to landing on your feet and building something great in 2021. This starts now. You’ve spent enough time in the fog. Now it’s time to have a strategy and a plan to see through it to a new, better and healthier year. Visualize what you want. Imagine it’s possible. And with that clarity, back into the things you can start today that will get you moving and achieving.

A year from now, you will look back at this moment and feel energized that no matter what work or life sends, you have the tools to see your way through it to a place that matters to you.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Ready or Not, 2021, Here We Come!

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Ready or Not, 2021, Here We Come!

What. Was. That?

I think that’s the general sentiment about 2020 and we still have a few weeks to go. It has been a year no one will forget. Nothing went the way it was supposed to. Big goals were pushed aside while we tried to figure out how to just get the bare minimum done. Simple tasks, like going to the grocery store, required planning and significant mental awareness. And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

Needless to say, I can’t tell you the number of people who have told me they’re planning something special (albeit with only their immediate family in attendance) to celebrate the end of this year. People who don’t usually celebrate the New Year are planning to celebrate this year. We can’t seem to get 2020 out of here fast enough.

But once it’s gone and we see “2021” as the calendar year, then what? What will you do differently? How can the toughest of years make you wiser, better, stronger and more focused?

Changing the calendar year is a start, for sure, a very strong mental one at that. But what will be different about 2021 for you other than it’s not 2020?

Before you say, “here I come, 2021!”, you need to create a solid foundation to be ready for the new year and all it will bring. Being comfortable dealing with change, redirecting anxiety and uncertainty to optimism and learning how to stay calm when presented with anything but a calm situation – all things 2020 challenged us with.

How can you do this? By working with a coach.

Working with a coach can help you get ready to make the most of 2021 in whatever way that looks for you. Through various tools, coaches help you better understand yourself and your situations, create achievable goals and navigate through the challenges and obstacles that stop you from achieving those goals. Whether the situation you’re facing is a personal one or professional, coaches help you discover, develop and live what is best in you, equipping you with exactly what you need to achieve the things that matter to you.

Here are 3 reasons why you should work with a coach to get ready for 2021:

1. What end is up? If you can confidently say you are more organized, more together and self-aware than ever before, congratulations! But for the majority of the public, 2020 was not so kind. Anxiety was through the roof. Uncertainty plagued even the most confident. Few are entering 2021 with their heads on [completely] straight. Working with a coach will help you get clear of your priorities, redefine goals and figure out where to start. After all, if you’re not sure where to start, how can you get going?

2. I will do / be XYZ. This year, most of us had to put aside big goals we wanted to achieve and instead focus on survival (literally and figuratively). In fact, a lot of parents have left the workforce to assist in childcare and remote learning because juggling the responsibilities of work and home (when everyone is always home) was becoming too challenging; you can’t give 100% in 5 directions all the time. At some point, something will fall. Working with a coach will help you revisit your goals and work on redefining and prioritizing them to make them actionable and achievable and, as a bonus, get and keep you motivated to do it. If you don’t have a goal, what direction are you moving in? And if you don’t have an accountability partner, how will you stay committed and on track?

3. Build (or rebuild) confidence, self-esteem and motivation. When you find yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in, especially when it’s out of your control, it can wreak havoc on your confidence and self-esteem. You question how you got there in the first place or how you let it get to the point it did. 2020 challenged everyone’s confidence. The parents who had family schedules perfectly planned and aligned were basically handed a blank calendar and told “try again.” The person working hard for the promotion they wanted found themselves challenged with just getting up in the morning to log in to work. The grandparents who want nothing more than to snuggle their grandkids having to settle for Zoom or Facetime and virtual hugs. It does a lot to the mind when everything you used to take for granted is pulled out from under you. Working with a coach will help you learn how to gracefully accept and navigate change – even the big changes that catch you off guard – and build (or rebuild) your confidence, self-esteem, self-worth and happiness so you can do and be better each day

Working with a coach creates time to focus on you. After all, there are many around you who need you to be calm, focused and present, each of which has been challenged by so many things this year. As you discover your strengths and liabilities, passions and triggers, you develop an inventory of abilities. Think of it like your toolbox; you have the right tools readily available to you to use in any situation that will make you feel confident, competent and capable.

The world is going to send what it is going to send. You can’t control that. What you can control is how you show up to what it sends. To do this in a successful way, you need to know and manage yourself, understand where you are and where you want to be, and, with guidance of a coach, bring all the pieces together to land on your feet and make the things that are important to you happen.

So, whether a parent, employee, manager, boss, spouse, partner or friend, engaging and working with a coach can help you show up more successfully by activating and using what is already great in you.

We can’t wait to work with you. Let’s make 2021 your year.

Take Action
When you take accountability for your life, you subconsciously take control. You decide what your life should look like, and you make it happen. You decide how you want to feel and you make it happen. You decide what you want and don’t want and make it real.

Be your best self in 2021. We’re ready to help.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Reassess What’s Really Important

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The Holidays are Coming and You Still Have to Work at Home

The holidays have always been associated with some type of stress. Whether it’s worrying about meeting end-of-year deadlines, financial burdens or navigating the personalities of family members, there’s always something in the back of our minds that can upset this period’s intention of celebration and joy.

And this year, with the presence of COVID-19, work and school can now be done at home, so a new stressor emerges: how will you accommodate the holidays and the changes to your house and schedule, and still get your work and schoolwork done?

Your office may be in the guest room that will now be taken over by a visiting relative. Your corner of the family or living room that was your office set up now may need to move to accommodate the holiday decorations. Your routine of getting to emails early before everyone is up may be now shared with a visiting relative who likes to rise with the sun.

Just when you thought you created a routine that actually works, the holidays are now the latest thing challenging them.

Consider the following ways to remain calm, adapt, get your work done and still manage to enjoy the holidays.

  1. Get present by taking a few breaths to relax your mind, disconnect from your emotions and give yourself the ability to look at your situation. You can’t solve anything if your mind is anxious, angry, frustrated or irritated. In those states, you use your energy to be upset instead of finding a solution. So, get yourself calm. Developing a breathing or meditation practice are ways to separate yourself from your situation so you can come back to it calmer and more present to deal with it.
  2. The holidays are a period of great celebration and joy. Remember what it feels like to get the house ready for the holidays? The foods, the decorations, the lights, the traditions. Regardless of how crazy the world is, holidays bring us back to some of our fondest memories. They remind us that life and its events are to be celebrated.
  3. Remind yourself that any inconvenience is only temporary. Though the holidays may interrupt your schedule, they come and go. Remember how much fun it is decorating but how good it feels to have the space back when it is over. Review your work expectations over the next 2 months to develop a plan. If you see interruptions in your ability to deliver on your expectations, address it early with your team and manager. You are not alone in making your home office shift back into some shared space brought on by the holidays.
  4. Communication is essential. As you learned how to make working and schooling from home happen, work as a family to discuss how you can make holidays happen in your space. Consider using family meetings to address the changes that will affect the house based on the holiday. Expand the communication to be sure everyone feels heard and included.

2020 has indeed been a year of changes, but with every change, notice that you’ve been able to adapt. Adaptability is truly a skill to be developed. The more you build a practice of responding instead of reacting to the things that happen around you, the greater the options you will create to make a success out of what happens.

Take Action
Start the conversation now about what the holiday plans are and how they will affect work and school. Consider using a family meeting to hear thoughts and perspectives from everyone. Keep the focus on the holiday’s celebration purpose to encourage excitement and to develop the stamina to accommodate yet one more change, albeit temporary. Focus on the holiday’s celebration, excitement and joy.

The holidays come and go, but they have the power to dull the challenges of the real world, even for a moment. Let yourself fee the excitement and joy of the season. Be present to it all.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading 4 Tips to Not Be Bad at Working from Home

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The New Look of Holiday Networking

Holiday parties. They seem to help fill up any block of free time during the already busy holiday season. Whether you’re attending for fun, for networking purposes or a combination of both, you looked forward to meeting new people. But COVID-19 changed that. Just like everything else about the holidays this year, the traditional holiday gatherings will likely be a thing of the past.

However, it doesn’t mean you can’t still expand your networks over the holidays. You just need to be flexible, adaptable and a little more creative.

Before you cringe at the word “creative,” think of it like this: WHAT do you want to share in your networking, and HOW will you do it in today’s world?

Let’s break it down, first focusing on WHAT you want to share. What are your greatest strengths and passions? How would you describe yourself to someone in a way that they will remember you?

The truth is there are few people who are self-aware enough about their strengths, passions and interests that they can share them succinctly enough to engage with others. So, we’re helping you out. We’re giving you the Personal Branding Statement Template. (Take our online personal branding statement course.)

The Personal Branding Statement is a two-sentence statement you create that introduces you to someone in a very quick and powerful way. Here’s the template:

I am a (talent), (talent) and (talent) person who loves (passion), (passion) and (passion). As a (identity) and (identity), I (verb), (verb) and (verb) to/for (what matters to you).

Here’s how it could look in the real-world:

I am a creative, dynamic and result-oriented person who loves to inspire people to discover, develop and live what is great in them. As a process-minded educator, I build easy to use tools to help people succeed in work and life.

I am a detail-oriented, logical and curious person who loves to solve problems and challenges to improve results. As an avid team player and athlete, I work as I train – to win, to succeed and be the best.

I am an analytical, logical and clever person who loves to make the complicated simple. As an action-oriented science nerd, I translate big science into practical and usable information for all.

Congratulations. You’ve just discovered an effective way to share critical information about yourself in a succinct and unforgettable way. And a bonus: you increased your self-awareness to uncover that information.

Now that you have clarity about your greatest passions and strengths – and HOW they can be used in today’s world – it’s time to explore HOW to share that information when traditional networking events aren’t an option. Here are 3 ideas you can try:

  1. Host recurring [holiday] Zoom chats. Schedule weekly Zoom calls with 3 of your friends and have each of them bring one friend to each Zoom call. Base it on shared interests, hobbies, similar work roles, people looking for work, etc. Or, consider bringing someone from a different cohort (Boomer, GenX, Millennial, Gen Z). Introduce each other and why you had them come to the Zoom call. Share your branding statements to get conversations started. Share contact information and encourage more conversations outside of the initial call.
    For an organization, organize holiday Zoom chats with 3 to 6 employees who don’t work together. Whether they’re at different levels, in different departments or different countries doing the same work on different teams, use this as an opportunity to network within the company. If appropriate, add the “bring a friend” component as a means to attract other talent to the company.
  2. Host a weekly holiday background Zoom call. Use the opportunity to invite different friends each week where you catch up, talk about the holiday and have a holiday background competition on each call (could this become the new ugly sweater contest?). Share your branding statements to get conversations started and talk about how their background aligns to who they are.
  3. Holiday masks. Host an event that is set up to encourage social distancing with 6 feet between chairs and in a room large enough for everyone to keep their space. Make a requirement that attendees wear a mask that is indicative of their work or a hobby. Spend time guessing information about each person based on their mask. An alternate version of the mask networking idea: host a holiday mask event where the mask represents what they feel or celebrate about the holiday. Whatever the angle, the mask serves as a discussion point to get conversations started about individual passions and areas of greatest interests.

Take Action
Think of holiday networking as the WHAT and the HOW. Get better acquainted with yourself to be able to complete and deliver a couple versions of your branding statement. It gives others a brief introduction to you and encourages conversation.

Then rethink HOW to connect with people over this holiday. Be creative. Be adaptable. But continue to be safe. In these moments, you will meet some cool people who can help you both personally and professionally as we all learn how to be successful and happy in our changing world.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Great Job Candidates Won’t Wait

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How to be a Gracious Election Winner or Loser

Our culture loves winners and losers. Winners get to stick it to the losers. Losers get to complain about how they almost won. The result is continued animosity. I bet you’re thinking of time right now when you were the gloating winner, or when you witnessed a particularly bad sore loser.

I once read that life sends two things: successes to learn to celebrate (winning) and challenges to learn something (losing). Let’s look at each.

Winning after hard work feels good. Celebrate that feeling. Celebrate the hard work. Celebrate the renewed energy, focus or direction. Great reasons to celebrate.

Then remember the other side of the win-lose continuum – those who lost.

We all know that losing feels terrible. For many people, it amplifies their reactions to things. Instead of using the moment to understand what didn’t work and why they lost, their feelings are heightened, and it activates the feelings and actions of anger or helplessness. But with all feelings, they need to be controlled and managed to be productive. Venting, complaining and catastrophizing are unproductive. They keep you stuck. It is your choice, after all, how to deal with any situation in life, even losing.

Remember back to a time when you were in this space. How did you feel? The reason why life sends us losses is to help us develop our compassion and empathy for others. In our tough moments, we learn what it feels like to lose, to come in last or even second. From these experiences, we can open our hearts to those who occupy that space because we can relate to their feelings. It makes us more human and more supportive.

So let’s explore this winner-loser mentality and rethink how to be gracious whether you win or lose. Though this is an approach I believe we should implement in all aspects of our lives, I think now is the time to talk about it because of one big event coming up: the election.

Think of the election as a job interview. One of the two candidates will have more votes to “be hired” than the other. Regardless of how passionately you feel about your choice, you have to share this “hiring process” with others. They get to weigh in, sharing their own perspectives and feelings about their choice and their vote.

Stop here for a second. Having the ability to choose is a remarkable right we have. There are still many places in our world where choosing the leadership of the country is not available. Keep things in context. We are blessed to be able to vote for who we feel best can handle the CEO role of the country. A role that requires clarity, integrity, compassion and adaptability, of committing to represent everyone, including those who did not support them in their “hiring” choice.

Regardless of how you feel about the candidates in this year’s election, consider these three ways to be a gracious winner or loser:

  1. Remember we are all part of the same country and there is more that connects us than disconnects us. Candidates use the election process to highlight our differences. But when we look closer, we see there is really more that connects us. Work hard to stop looking at others as members of a political party and instead see them as caring, feeling, hardworking, family-focused Americans. Down deep, we are more similar than the election process seems to highlight. Connect with what we each want: the ability to have a safe, productive, happy, healthy and successful life, able to love our families and do good work.
  2. Support the losers and applaud the winners. The election is a deeply personal event and can activate big feelings. Acknowledge what you feel. Remember the euphoria of winning and the pain of losing. After all, you have been there for both. Then, think of those you care about who are dealing with the pain of losing. How will you be there to support them as they work through their loss and grief? And, think of those who are celebrating. How will you give them the pleasure of being in the winner’s circle and not make it about you? Learning to win and lose graciously will serve you well throughout life.
  3. Hold each other to a higher standard. Use this moment to hold yourself accountable to being your best self and encouraging others to do the same. Winners, make it your mission to catch other winners who are gloating and antagonizing the losers. Remind them of our shared values and our commitment to be citizens of the same nation and humans in our world. Losers, make it your mission to catch those who want to retaliate against the winners. Call for better behavior. Remind them of the need to be collaborators to make life work.

Sometimes in a divisive election, we can see how far off our path we wandered. How we handle what comes next will influence how we reconnect and get back on our shared vision. Everything important in life requires us all to work together. From COVID-19 to global warming to every other issue, remember these are human issues, not Republican or Democrat issues. When we commit to being better with each other, we can redirect our effort and energy to solving our challenges instead of fighting and gloating.

There is no room for those behaviors in a world that needs as much attention as ours does.

Take Action
Make a commitment to be a gracious winner or loser. Then, roll up your sleeves and work together to address whatever life sends our way. We need everyone to make that happen.

So, in this moment you have a choice. How will you commit to holding yourself accountable, responsible and supportive, regardless of the results of the election? It will be in this moment that we commit to working together for our shared values and to helping all of us live wisely, healthy and well.

By Jay Forte

Article appeared on Thrive Global on October 26, 2020

Consider reading It Won’t Break When It Falls

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The Coaching Manager is the Key to a Successful Workplace Recovery

Some of your employees may still be working from home. Some may be back on-site, full or part-time. This unusual workforce mix creates a challenge for most workplaces and managers: how do you manage a hybrid team that still provides a dynamic employee experience and activates employee engagement?

At the center of this unusual moment is the Coaching Manager. Managers and coaching managers both focus on getting things done, but how they get it done makes all the difference.

Conventional managers focus on results and tasks instead of on the person completing them. This disengages your people and misses out on their expanded ideas, contribution and loyalty.

Coaching Managers (also known as Workplace Coaches) focus on relationships as the means to amplify self-belief, abilities and confidence as the means to performance. This builds a sustainable rapport and connection with their people to be able to gather information about what they may be dealing with as it relates to COVID-19. This information is critical to improve the quality of management’s response.

Relationships done well inspire your people to respond, perform and stay. Relationships done poorly encourage your people to use their time to search out new employment opportunities with organizations that celebrate, care about and support their people.

Here are three things coaching managers do well that activate performance and retention:

1. They build trust. As a certified coach, I know I can’t make any progress with a client if I have not first created an environment of trust. I do this by taking the time to get to know the other person, listen generously, support caringly and keep information confidential. Coaches understand people as people – what matters to them, what they struggle with, what success is for them. They listen to what is meant, not just what is said. They remember important details. They ask powerful questions. They care openly. This level of understanding and interest encourages a trusting relationship. Trust facilitates communication.

2. They personalize the contact. Coaches use a variety of skills and tools to understand each person as a thinking, caring and feeling person, who, when helped to feel valuable and important for who they are, respond by bringing their best to what they do. Expressing interest in the lives of your people is critical, particularly at this moment when so much of their days may be spent in anxiety or worry. Knowing what each person is dealing with creates the ability to better decide how to help them deal with it. They want you to know their name, their current situation, their worries and challenges, their strengths and abilities. They want to know you care and are available. Seeing your people as the means to results instead of people dealing with a pandemic will alienate them and send them looking for an organization with managers who think and act like coaches.

3. They guide and support instead of direct and control. One of the ways to encourage self-esteem, confidence and a greater sense of contribution is to help employees own their solutions and performance. Guiding and supporting encourages employees to tap into and use their abilities which activates their self-belief. Directing and controlling limits the employee’s thinking as they only see their ability to perform a task, not to own it or improve it. At this moment, we all need help feeling important, having purpose and making a difference. These feelings counterbalance the challenging negative feelings brought on by the pandemic.

Coach your people to encourage their connection to value, purpose and contribution. Coach them to help them feel heard and respected. Address these and you help employees feel safe and important in their workplace.

Your best talent wants to feel heard, valued, important, supported and cared for. Who wouldn’t when so much of the world seems out of balance? By doing this in the workplace, you not only help your employees stay connected, but you help them see that they are resilient and strong enough to be successful at home and at work – even during a pandemic. Coach them to keep them.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading How to Get the People Thing Right For Your Business

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Where I’m Meant to Be

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of a task thinking ahead to the next task you need to get through? Or maybe you find yourself thinking of something you’d rather be doing instead?

It’s human nature, I believe, to always be thinking of what’s next. We even have a program designed to help people navigate what comes next after a big life moment or shift from how things used to be.

But what if, before we started thinking ahead to what’s next, we take a moment to show up to and appreciate where we are. What if we could be fully present in each task to learn from and enjoy everything we can get out of it?

I’m the first to admit I’m always thinking ahead to the next task on the list, watching the clock to make sure we stay on schedule (the hangry is very real if I’m even a few minutes behind for snacks or meals). But when I interrupt this incessant need to be someplace other than right here, right now, I not only enjoy it more, but I also feel more at peace. I feel more productive. Ultimately, I feel happier.

Let me give you an example. Most days, my boys and I end up in our playroom for a few hours in the morning. As you can imagine, there are days when it feels like I’m constantly the referee, blowing the whistle and breaking up fights every few minutes. But, I’ve noticed that when I remind myself to be present to all the personalities, preferences and moods for everyone in the room, the entire mood changes. And a large part of it is I am now more aware of who each of my boys are and how to be with them so I am less triggered and wiser in what I say and do. As a result, everyone seems to be happier.

How do I center myself and remind myself to be fully present? I use this mantra: This is where I’m meant to be. Right here. Right now. Doing exactly what I’m doing.

How could a continual reminder to center yourself and bring your attention to the task, person, moment, feeling or situation at hand improve your productivity, your experience and, ultimately, your life?

Take Action
When you find your mind is in a place where your body is not, you are not present. But don’t judge it. Just notice it, and see that there is an opportunity to make improvements.

When this happens to you, take a deep breath, close your eyes and remind yourself this is where I’m meant to be in this moment. Come back to unite your mind and body. Be where you are. And if you need to be in another place, bring your mind AND body there. Your intentional effort to be present will cause a mindset shift and you’ll start to feel calm and focused instead of rushed or distracted.

Remember to be present in the moment. It will change the way you see everything you do and can set you on a more productive course as you move on to whatever comes next.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Managing Your Self-Talk

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Don’t Create Unnecessary Limits

What would you accomplish if you weren’t afraid? If you didn’t have doubts? If you didn’t limit yourself to time or other resources?

What if you allowed yourself to think big?

I think most people hear “think big” and “don’t limit yourself” and immediately say “it’s just not realistic because [fill in the excuse].”

Excuses like: I don’t have the time. I’m not financially prepared to try that. I have too much going on already.

And I admit I find myself in that mindset quite a bit, especially now when I’m home with EVERYONE, and the time I have for big thinking is after everyone has gone to bed… and I’m barely able to keep my eyes open.

So, rather than dwell on all the things I could do “if only I had the time,” I started thinking about why I feel that way. And I started by thinking of the people who have had a direct impact on the way life is today, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos (to name a few).

These people didn’t do their best thinking when everything was quiet and perfect. Instead, they showed up creative, dreaming and inventing in the everyday moments of life. What they each created wasn’t always seen as a project, but more as a way of being.

So, do you impose unnecessary limits on your thinking, dreaming and inventing? Do you think that having the job or the life of your dreams is for others and not you? Maybe all you need is a reset. Here is my guidance:

  1. Set your goal. Picture what you want. It could be work related, could be family related, could be something else entirely, like losing weight or committing to reading more. Identify it (and be specific). Write it down. Allow yourself to think big. You’ve just allowed yourself to visualize your goal. Now you know where you’re going.
  2. Figure out where you are today. With greater clarity about where you are headed, refocus on your starting point. Be honest about where you are. Assess what’s working or not working in this moment. If it is working, do more of it. If it is not working, figure out why and make an intentional effort to change it (it could be the reason why where you are is not where you want to be). That’s okay. Now you know. This will help you decide on the options to move forward.
  3. Stop judging. Now that you see both edges – where you are and where you want to be – the gap between the two becomes clear. Maybe this makes you feel a little anxious. Maybe you’re running through a bunch of reasons why what you want could never happen for you. Maybe you have doubts about your abilities and think the goal is unrealistic, especially in the timeframe you identified. STOP. Stop right there. The purpose of setting a goal and getting clear about where you are right now is to see what is true in this moment. Don’t waste your energy on judging the situation. Instead, use your energy to come up with ideas to get closer to your goal.
  4. Stop comparing. This is your goal, specific to your wants and needs and your life. No one else has exactly the same goal. No one else encounters the same obstacles and challenges you will. No one has the same talents and strengths you do to get you to your goal. Don’t distract yourself by thinking about what success looks like for others. Stay focused on what success looks like for you.
  5. Make a plan. This is the hardest part because we are creatures of instant gratification. We can easily get distracted and frustrated as we work toward a goal when we don’t see progress immediately. So create a plan to reach your goal with mini-goals built in. Start small. One or two things. Then notice your progress and reach for more. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you will not achieve your goals in a day. But you can make remarkable progress little by little.
  6. Find an accountability partner. The best way to stick to your plan to achieve your goal is to ensure you’re holding yourself accountable to it. Sometimes, having someone else help you stay accountable can be helpful, especially when you have a human moment and feel too tired, too frustrated or too distracted to stay focused. Choose wisely.

Oftentimes, we are the greatest limits in our own success. Sure, sometimes there are finite resources, like the number of hours in a day or financial assistance, but that should not prohibit you from thinking, imagining, dreaming and inventing big. Instead of seeing the resources as obstacles, consider how they can become part of your plan to reach your goal. You may need to think a little differently to approach the goal (or mini-goals) to overcome the challenge of limited resources, but when you don’t allow the doubts to creep in, when you hold yourself accountable to the end result, you’ll see a significant change in how you think.

Take Action
Identifying a goal and sticking to it is hard. Just think of all those New Year’s Resolutions that rarely make it past February 1. The first step is to work on getting rid of your limited thinking. Dream big and start small to make it happen. Get clear. Get help. Stay on task.

As you practice this and start to expand your thinking, notice how you feel about each new challenge or opportunity that presents itself. Adjusting your mindset to avoid allowing doubts, fears and uncertainty take over your thoughts opens the door to an entirely new way of being.

Watch how it changes your work output, your relationships and your overall mental well-being.

Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s how you move past it.

So set your goal and have the courage to go get it.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Creating Goals: Start with “Be Better”

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4 Tips to Not Be Bad at Working from Home

I was talking with a client recently who kept saying they are “bad at working from home.” Throughout the conversation, they mentioned their ability to be a forward or strategic thinker was hindered because of distractions at home.

Though we can all relate to having distractions at home in whatever form they come in (kids, roommates, the pile of laundry you’ve been meaning to do, food, neighbors, pets), learning how to be more efficient in your work-from-home approach will help you in the long run, especially as we try to imagine what life will be like during cold and flu season just a few short months after the stay-at-home orders around the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, first, create your space. Assess what you need to get done and create the space that will ensure you can achieve your performance expectations. Do you need privacy and quiet? Do you need a large computer screen? Do you need additional technology and connections? Do you have Zoom meetings that will show your space on screen? Create what you need to be successful.

Second, remove the obvious distractions. Working at home can put many distractions right in your reach. Scan your area for anything that will distract you such as the TV remote, the availability of snacks, piles of laundry, dirty dishes, other household activity. Take a step back and just observe your workspace. Ask yourself: what could disrupt me in an unproductive way? Then remove it.

Third, create a daily to do list. Spend whatever time you need at the start of your day getting your head in the right place. Review your calendar so you know what calls or deliverables are required. Consider creating your to do list in order of priority with the items at the top of the list that need to be done today. Or, if you like to see the red marks as you cross things off your list, consider creating an “at work” list and an “at home” list. Identify 2-3 big things for each list you want to accomplish for that specific day and stay focused on getting those tasks done.

And finally, divide your day into blocks of time. This includes work and home times. For work times, set your day up to tackle the biggest, most important or thought-provoking items you need to complete during the part of the day when you are most productive. Be sure to define a clear start and end to your workday to also be able to accommodate the home requirements. This may take some time to notice what works best for both your work and home responsibilities, so challenge yourself to take note of what works best to get done what has to get done.

Working from home can be challenging when there are multiple distractions outside of your control. But following these four tips can help you set yourself up for success as a productive work-from-home employee.

Take Action
Take each step on its own. Master each one before you move on to the next. Take a day to get adjusted to the approach and give yourself some grace in learning this adjustment. There will need to be some flexibility for the first week or so, but stick to your new guidelines. You’ll see a drastic improvement in your productivity and mental capability.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How to Balance Working From Home With Kids

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