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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mind, Body & Spirit

I am in a place in my life where I am starting to examine and reexamine all of my relationships. As I continue to grow on my own path to personal and professional development, it is becoming ever more pertinent that I cleanse my inner circle of toxic people. I can no longer afford to allow negative people to drain my time and energy or else I may and have become stagnated in this journey.

I refuse to accept less than what God has intended for me on this earth. With that being said, I have found the need to end a long-term relationship of over 8 years that is absolutely not going anywhere. Doing this will allow a door to be opened for true love and companionship to enter into my heart. So today as I reflect on my former needs and interests, realizing that many of my criteria for a mate were not much more than superficial, I am putting in a new request to God and the universe to send me what my heart most desires. I want someone who can meet me on my level in mind, body and spirit. Someone who can share my triumphs and comfort me in my trials. Someone who can support my dreams and stand with me in the lord. Someone who is physically fit and can partner with me in achieving health and longevity.

This is my new affirmation: to refuse any relationship, be it casual or intimate, friend or lover, that does not allow me continued fulfillment in my God-inspired purpose and to open my heart to those who are willing to bond with me fully in mind, body and spirit. I will say NO to toxic people and YES to God's love.

I put this challenge to you, my faithful readers, what types of toxic people and/or negative relationships are you allowing to fester on your soul and stagnate your hopes and dreams? Are you really getting what you need from the connections you have made? What will you do today to invite more positivity into your inner circle?

Happy Living!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Difficult Bosses

I just finished up a free public seminar on "Balancing Work & Home Life" this morning. One of the attendees was particularly frustrated with her present situation. She explained how boss was extremely difficult to deal with. "She nitpicks at every little thing I do and is always micromanaging. When I approach her, she doesn't bother to hear what I have to say. It's like she doesn't care what I think." Too often this sentiment is shared by employees all over the nation. How does one deal with a difficult and overbearing boss? This can be a challenge but it can be accomplished with your sanity left securely intact.

The first step is to determine where your boss is coming from. You have to separate the behavior from the person. Being a bad boss doesn't necessarily mean that they are a bad person. Understanding the reasoning behind the boss' actions can go a long way in helping you to determine how to deal with him/her appropriately. A lot of the time conflicts arise out of miscommunication so make sure that you are clear on what expectations your boss has of you and that you are meeting them fully. If you don't know, then ask. If there are always certain bells and whistles that will set your boss off on the rampage, determine solutions that go above and beyond meeting set expectations.

If your boss is reeling from an overall stressful day, then his/her behavior could just be a manifestation of that. Relay this information to your boss by showing concern and empathy. You can approach him/her by saying something like "It looks like you are being stretched to the limit today. Is there anything that I can do to help alleviate your workload?" Or you could just come right out and let them know what specific behaviors you were uncomfortable with and your reactive response. "When you _____, I felt like _______ so in the future could you ______?" Discuss your uneasiness with the situation rather than confront them with blame. Don't be confrontational or engage them in a verbal assault. A generally reasonable boss would readjust their behavior and appreciated your honesty. If your boss is a regularly abusive and negative person, then your chances are much slimmer for any positive interaction. In that case, you should seek the advice and help of another superior or the human resources department to intervene.

The second step is to monitor your own reactions to your boss. If you become consumed by the negative emotions your boss' actions may evoke, then it is easy to enter into self-effacing behaviors. Learn how to take a proactive approach rather than a reactive response. Also, recognize that some conflicts may present themselves simply because of different personality types. If you are an analytical, prioritizing type person then it would be hard to truly gel with a boss that is more creative and flighty. Both types of people are needed in every business so learn how to appreciate the differences and utilize them to the benefit of the company's mission. If your boss is more of a bully or a control-freak then sometimes it is best to just acknowledge their need for power by apologizing and walking away even if you know you are right. The key is in knowing you can't change them. You can only change the way you view their behavior. Generally speaking, most negative behaviors should be ignored.

If all else fails and the situation continues or worsens, make sure that you have a plan B. This could be an anonymous employee help line or as extreme as another job offer in hand. You can use your plan B as a bargaining chip or as a safeguard against any sort of retaliatory actions. These steps should only be used as a very last resort such as if attempts to go through the chain of command have been futile. In these extreme cases, document everything and build a support team. Find others who share similar experiences and use a collective approach to make a change. After all, businesses suffer when employees are not engaged in their positions so it is in the management's best interest to work things out.

These are just a few tips on how to deal with difficult bosses. There are many more techniques that can be used but the primary tool you have available is choosing how you respond. For more information on dealing with bosses and other difficult people, Click Here

Happy Living!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Calculated Ignorance & Educated Fools

I have been talking with a few of my clients and seminar attendees lately about education and its perceived value in American culture. I hear so many stories of folks with years and years worth of experience who are at the top of their game being let go from jobs in lieu of younger, more technologly-savvy, fresh college graduates. There is a problem rising. Many of these eager youth have little to no real life experience and are only armed with textbook theories in their approach to touchy business situations. They seem to be simply fillers in newly created executive titles with no real input to the future of business.

I am not saying that education is not important. It very much is. I am saying that experience is equally as important. There should be a happy mix of experience and education in every business. Without experience, education can only take you so far. Would you be a willing patient to a surgeon whom had never conducted a surgery but had graduated at the top of his class? I doubt it. Why then would you allow your business to be run solely by an army of the inexperienced? Not only is this a poor business decision it is an incredible risk to your livelihood. There are certain issues that will arise that can only benefit from known best practices. It will save a lot of time, and often money, if you do not have to reinvent the wheel but rather rely on existing information. In essence, what was done in the past that can help you in the current situation?

The bottom line is that in order to protect your bottom line, you have to have a strong knowledge base supported by a strong experience pool. Purposely allowing a bunch of educated fools to run rampant in your business is simply reckless and ignorant.

Happy Living!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

How Do You Define Success?

So many of my clients, friends, family and colleagues find themselves unhappy dealing with expectations placed on them by family, friends, and society as a whole. Many of them have high-paying jobs, gorgeous families and seemingly nothing to be depressed about and yet they feel unsuccessful.

The problem is that we typically do not live our lives according to our own success definition. Instead we are governed by environmental influences that include family, especially parents and spouses; friends, culture and society. We make decisions based more upon what we believe is expected of us than what we truly want and desire. This brings upon stress and imbalance because when we live in other's expectations rather than in our own, we begin to move outside of our intended purpose. Without purpose, we can not feel truly passionate or fully committed to the journey.

To really be successful, you must first define what success means to you. Everyone has a very different definition of success. To some, success may mean a six-figure income. Others are simply fulfilled by living the American dream of the home, a white picket fence, a spouse, 2.5 kids and a dog. Still others feel successful even in the midst of daily financial trials and tribulations. The secret to success is determining what your purpose is and then to make every decision based upon this purpose. Success really equates to what makes you happy and fulfilled...your purpose.

"There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way." ~ Christopher Morley

Happy Living!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Be a Life-Long Learner

Have you read a good book lately? You know the old saying "use it or lose it"? This is very true of our minds. If you don't use your mind, it loses some of its primary cognitive function. You need to continually "sharpen the saw" as Stephen Covey points out in "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". There has been an increase in the number of Alzheimer's cases and other cognitively debiliatating conditions. One of the most frequently prescribed treatments has little to do with prescription medications. More physicians are suggesting exercises specifically designed to enhance brain power. These include puzzles, reading, memory games and any number of other intellectually stimulating activities.

Start out by reading subjects that you are interested in or find some great educational games. You don't have to pick the typical personal development guruish pieces either. What genres do you like? Whether it's science fiction or pulp fiction, there is learning to be had. Regardless of the subject matter, the author probably performed some good research to use along with a great imagination to bring the story to life. The point is to just start reading.

There are so many benefits of keeping the brain strong and healthy. In addition to maintaining your memory, you are also developing strengths in effective communication. The more you know, the more you can speak about. The more you are familiar with, the better questions you can formulate. The better questions you ask, the more knowledge you will gain. You can become an active participant in almost any subject matter. Better yet, you can become an expert, write a book and share your knowledge with others.

The bottom line is don't stagnate your intellectual growth. Be a life-long learner.

Happy Living!

Dealing With Helicopter Parents

I am the victim of a hovering parent. At times, it seems that almost nothing I do is right according to my mother. My decision-making is questioned in regards to my parenting skills, my relationships and even how I keep my home. She means well but she can be a bit overbearing at times. I used to get rather frustrated and resentful of her constant nitpicking but through continual personal development, I have learned how to deal with her. Our relationship has drastically improved since I have changed the way I respond to her. Since I know I am not alone, I thought I would share how I manage her helicopter parenting.

The first thing I did was to realize that she has good intentions. From the time we are conceived our parents begin to map out our lives. They dream about what we will look like, how we will act, what we will be when we grow up, who we will marry, where we will live and how many children we will have. Everything they do from that point out is geared toward molding us into the people they want us to be. Unfortunately, mixed in with genuine love and concern comes a variety of other influences that shapes the parent's expectations of their children. What a parent wants for their child has a lot to do with their own upbringing, education, exposure, limiting beliefs, fears and insecurities. Our society teaches us to go to school, get good grades, graduate, get a job, save money, get married and raise a family. Once you have accomplished that then you can be considered successful. Most of our parents buy into that definition and have no example of someone doing otherwise. Stray from the formula and you are thought to be crazy.

Once I realized that my mother needed me to succeed where she thought she had failed in her life, I was in a better place to understand her reasoning so it didn't bother me so much. I used these new revelations to assert my dreams. First, I developed a well-thought out plan to back me up. A good, detailed plan makes your dream seem less like fantasy and more like reality. You will also be able to speak more confidently about your dreams which will help your parents see your vision easier. Next, I enlisted an expert for additional support. This could be an uncle, a friend or just someone who is where you want to be. Your parents are more likely to believe a third party than they are to hear it coming from you. Third, when met by parental objections, remember to remain calm and take time to think about your response. Based on what you know about your parent's ideas of success, how can you explain your reasoning to make them understand it better? Then say no to anything your parent or others suggest that take you outside of your plan. You may have to compromise to ease your parents into your new direction especially if you are young and/or still living in your parent's home. This is all about building and maintaining a great relationship. You don't want your choices to be so difficult to digest that it completely severs your parental ties.

If you have followed this advice and you still find that your parent is hovering too much, it may be time to check yourself. Are you enabling your helicopter parent? Do you allow him/her to intervene in your life? Do you run to them whenever you have a problem? Do you complain about bills, husband, wife, kids, etc? If the answer to any of these is yes, then you have created a codependent situation. You may need to respectfully distance yourself from your parent. Have a long conversation with them to let them know your concerns. Explain that you appreciate their help but you don't want to burden them any further with your issues. Resolve to handle your own adult responsibilities and then stick to your guns.

Helicopter parents can be particularly difficult to deal with but the sooner you get the situation under control, the sooner you can move on to a happy, healthy life. The choices you make today can have lasting effects on your tomorrow. Get concrete with your purpose and intend to live each day more fully.

Happy Living!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Value in Volunteering

This year has been an extremely blessed one for me thus far. I think that I can contribute my happiness to how fulfilling it is to be responsible for so many other people's happiness. I spend a good deal of my time working in non-profit organizations dedicating my time and expertise as a volunteer. The experiences that volunteering has brought me have been indispensable.

When I first started coaching, I found it difficult to maintain a steady stream of clients from a marketing standpoint. I wasn't completely sure how to get in front of my target audience. That all changed once I began volunteering. I aligned myself with quality organizations that had a mission and values very close to my own. Social organizations that aimed to satisfy specific goals for the betterment of one's financial status were at the top of my list, followed by those that catered to the business world. Very soon I was given the opportunity to showcase my talents to potential clients. It wasn't long before I had built a solid clientele along with a great referral database. Additionally, the diverse backgrounds of my fellow volunteers allowed me to build a valuable list of resources.

Volunteering not only played a part in building my business but it also opened my eyes to a wealth of unusual philanthropic ventures. One unique opportunity presented itself in the form of playing a part as an extra in a major motion film. Rather than collecting the standard hourly fee, the whole of my paycheck was donated on my behalf to a local charity. I enjoyed the excitement of being on set so much that I signed up with the casting company for future projects and was called back for a paid gig. I would never have known about the movie had it not been for my avid seeking of new volunteer projects.

Chicago Public Schools now require all high school students to perform a minimum of forty hours worth of service learning hours to graduate. This is one of the best criterion ever suggested. My own daughter, who is currently a freshman, embarked on her volunteer journey this past weekend. She desires to become a professional singer and so when we came across a posting for live entertainers, we jumped on the opportunity. Her very first service learning hour was earned doing something she loved, singing, while serving a community who badly needed some fun, our senior citizens. The seniors were delighted to hear her sing.

Volunteering is valuable for so many reasons. You can try new things, gain new resources, develop and hone skills and help lighten the load for others. Whether you are a student or a retired baby boomer, volunteering can be a great way to remain active and keep in tune with the world around you. How can you pay it forward today?

Happy Living!

Good morning!

It's a beautiful late summer day in Chicago and the wind is blowing sweet aromas from the last flower blooms mixed with the light saltiness from the lake front just steps from my front door. Living in such a big city with so many architectural gems and other metro area activities to occupy the eager tourist, it is quite easy to miss the real beauty of Chicago's natural elements. There is Lake Michigan with its many beaches running along the eastern border of the city, several forest preserves, the natural wild life that includes crows, eagles, bats, raccoons, skunk, deer, rabbits and much more; and there are numerous private and community gardens scattered throughout almost every city block with rich offerings of roses, gardenias, chrysanthemums, hibiscus and many other exotic names I can't quite spell or pronounce. Even our mayor has jumped on the "green" bandwagon by restructuring highway meridians to include lush foliage and creating incentive programs to even further beautify the city.

So today I am focused on enjoying the simple pleasures that nature affords us. Even in a huge epicenter like Chicago, there is so much to take pause to reflect in. No matter where you are today, remember to take the time to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Sincerest Apologies

Hello all,

I have been away for the past week or so as I have had so many different things on my plate that it has been very difficult to prioritize blogging. It is my intention to add something meaningful at least once per day. I had intended to do quite a few things that have been left to fall to the wayside, so to speak. That's the thing about intentions. They mean absolutely nothing without action. What can you do to ensure that all of your responsibilities and commitments get attended to? Define your goals, create a plan and stick to it.

This is a lot easier than it actually sounds. I am guilty of not always following through on my intentions but if you are truly dedicated to your goals, then it should not be such a daunting task to get back on track. When you are overwhelmed with tasks or those moments of laziness and irresponsibility come in to steal your thunder, the best thing you can do is to forgive yourself, reassess and recommit.

Forgiveness is key because it removes all of those negative feelings of guilt and the anxiety that many of us feel behind being a disappointment to ourselves as well as others. Realizing that you are human and can occasionally falter is a healthy approach to any sidetrack. If you find yourself spiraling out of control with a seemingly endless list of to-dos, then perhaps a reassessment is in order. Take the time to reevaluate your priorities. Perhaps there is something you can delegate or drop from your responsibilities altogether. You do not have to do it all. Finally, recommit. Renew your promises to yourself and to those affected by your commitments. This involves acknowledging the problem if there was one and then asserting your faith that you can follow through in the future.

Time does not have to be your enemy. Know your purpose, define goals and plan accordingly to achieve them. Be realistic in your commitments and only accept those tasks that you are able to follow through on. If you follow these simple steps you will find that it will be a lot easier to fulfill intentions.

Happy Living!