Archive for the ‘Empowerment’ category

Are You C-Suite Ready?

October 9th, 2012

While personal styles among those who occupy the C-suite can vary dramatically, from the reserved and analytical to the warm, outgoing people person, exceptional leaders – those who get results in the short run and long-term – all share a special set of common characteristics.  And, it’s not technical competence, nor the gift of exceptional intellect.

Daniel Goleman says, “…the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way:  They all have a high degree of emotional intelligence.”  EQ – emotional intelligence – makes it more likely that you’re C-suite ready and will thrive once there.

Goleman’s work suggests that strong IQ and technical capabilities are necessary in that they help you gain the attention of those who make the hiring and promotion decisions.  IQ and technical competence open doors.  But, it’s your EQ – your level of emotional intelligence – that can derail your ascendency or help you excel and shine.

To get a quick read on your current level of EQ, for each component below, answer the following questions.  Rate yourself – 1 if you’re at the lower end of the continuum and up to a 5 at the highest end.

These questions are designed simply to make you think and help you self-assess.

  1. Are you self-aware? To what degree do you recognize and understand your moods, emotions, drives and impact on others?
  2. Do you self-regulate? To what degree are you able to control your impulses?  Do you to think before acting?
  3. Do you motivate?  To what degree are you energetic, passionate, persistent, and work to achieve goals for their own sake, not simply for money, acclaim or status?
  4. Are you empathetic?  To what degree do you understand and take into account the emotional makeup and reality of others?
  5. Are you socially skillful? To what degree are you able to build rapport, find common ground, maintain relationships, and influence others to move in a particular direction?

This “quick and dirty” self-assessment can help you get a feel for your current level of EQ.  Add up your scores and divide by 5 to find out where you are on the continuum.

No matter where you are, you can strengthen your competency in any or all of the EQ components identified by Goleman if you commit to doing so.   Set clear goals with relevant actions steps.  Practice the behaviors that will produce the change you want.  Along the way, get other’s perspective on how you’re doing.  Ask for feedforward from colleagues, direct reports, senior leaders and coaches.

With dedication and persistence, you can strengthen your EQ, be C-suite ready and flourish once there.

To learn more about Daniel Goleman and Emotional Intelligence, Google Daniel Goleman or click here.

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You’re Busy, Busy, Busy! But How Productive Are You?

October 2nd, 2012

Are you among the many people for whom working long hours, multitasking and pressing to meet deadlines have become a way of life?

In the short-term, these are practical solutions.  But, research tells us that this pattern, over the long-term, increases stress levels and results in lower levels of productivity.  Eventually, even though you’re plenty busy, you begin to accomplish less.

To accomplish more, you have to find ways to leverage your time and resources more effectively.  Here are 3 quick and simple strategies that can help you accomplish more, with less stress.

Organize your work life – email, files, drawers and desktop.  Doing so will enable you to more readily find what it is you need, saving valuable minutes, as well as the cost – time and dollars of unnecessary redos and purchases.  Just as physical mail and papers can be placed in project folders, so can email.  That puts their access at the ready.

Tackle your most challenging tasks when you’re at your best.  For example, if you’re a morning person, take on important projects that require thought during those hours.

Activity logs can provide important insight into how you spend your time.  For one week, jot down how you use your time.  Each time you begin a new activity, make a note of what it is and how much time it required.  This will help you get a handle on whether you’re spending your time on high-value, high priority tasks or wasting more time than needed on low-priority meetings, interruptions or other distractions.

Good time management requires self-awareness and self-management.  The payback in productivity will be well worth the effort.

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You Already Have What You Need To Live Your Dreams

September 25th, 2012

I’ve shared over the last few weeks that through the magic of mirror neurons, you can dance like Beyoncéread minds and change the people around you.  After this final installment, you’ll know how to put mirror neurons to use to achieve your goals!

Scientific data suggests you already have within your mind the tools you need be more of what you want to be – more successful, higher performing, purpose driven, inspiring, admired and committed to your personal and professional growth.  Knowing you have these tools and putting them to  use will also have an enormous impact on your self-esteem and sense of confidence.  Need a dose of that today?  Just keep reading.

Mirror neurons, special cells in the brain, allow you to improve your performance by rehearsing an action or scene in your mind.  Whether it’s a sensitive conversation you need to have with a colleague or friend, an important presentation, your golf swing or that new piece of piano music you’re learning, without lifting finger, you can get better.  Professional athletes and others who understand the creative power of their minds have used this technique so successfully that it’s a standard in elite training systems.

Because observation of excellence improves performance, top performers watch those who are the best in their field.  They watch and learn, mirroring in their minds what they’re witnessing.  They perform the act while watching it being carried out by someone else.  In other words, “If I see you do it, I mentally do it, too.”  Imagining your self perfecting a skill is just as effective as observing known experts perform at their best.

If you’re interested in achieving the extraordinary, these findings about mirror neurons confirm the value of giving thought to your vision, daily and moment-to-moment.  Literally rehearse your new skill or improved life circumstance.  Feel it, think about it and act as if it’s real today.  Do it all in our mind.  Doing it internally will help it become your external reality.

Put your mirror neurons to work in service to your dreams and goals.  Mental practice, visualization and imagery are all part of the elite performer’s secret of success and self-mastery.  You can make it a part of yours, too.

Learn more about mirror neurons:

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Want to Change the People Around You?

September 18th, 2012

LIES That Limit discusses culture – familial, racial, religious, regional, national, etc. – Each has its intended and unintentional impact in the way culture is passed on, not only through the rational, spoken messages we receive, but also through invisible, energetic exchanges.  Now, I understand such transmissions to be the magical work of mirror neurons.  Now, that’s cool!

Mirror neurons provide clues as to how culture is transmitted and why it’s so hard to change.  Because we mimic what we see, we tend to keep doing what we see those around us doing.  We imitate what we observe, making our behavior clearly and easily influenced by those around us.  People who live together, work together, play together, hang out together begin to act, sound, feel and think alike.  Our behavior tends to be a reflection of what we see.  The same is so for those around us.

With every feeling you experience, every intention you hold, and every action you take, you’re having a significant affect on others.  Your feelings, thoughts and behavior stimulate the same thoughts, feelings and behavior in those around you, through the action of their mirror neurons.  They can read your thoughts, feelings and intentions.  To extend the logic, the more consistently you engage in a certain behavior, carry a certain feeling and intention, the more likely you are to shape or contour – influence – the behavior of others.

At home, leading by example is more than a catch phrase or way to keep kids from behaving badly.  Mirror neurons are another argument for walking the path you want your children to walk — which is infinitely more effective than, “do as I say.”  Often you hear parents wonder, “Where on earth did she pick that up?”  Now we know there’s a chemical reaction that shapes these behaviors. Actions you take that you don’t think your kids pick up on or that you might not be aware of are working their way into your children’s brains.

If you work in an organization – on a team or lead a group – you can positively affect the culture by maintaining a positive pattern of feeling, thought and behavior.  Your consistent, repetitive behavior will impact the mirror neurons of those around you and they will, sooner or later, begin to reflect back to you what they’ve experienced.

To change the culture of your organization or your household, hold firm and stay the course.  As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see…” and notice how others will eventually mirror back to you your beliefs and behavior.

Learn more about mirror neurons:

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You Can Read Minds

September 4th, 2012

Here’s a bit of information about yourself you may not have known.  It can support your professional development, up your Emotional Intelligence – and boost your self-esteem.

You can read minds!  Did you know that?  And, in all fairness, you need to know that others can read your mind, too – your thoughts, feelings and intentions.  According to Giacomo Rizzolatti, we’re born with the ability.

In a New York Times article, “Cells That Read Minds,” Rizzolatti and other neuroscientists describe a special class of brain cells responsible for this ability.  They’re called mirror neurons.  Their discovery provides insight into how you learn to walk, talk, smile; why you can understand how others feel and empathize with them; why you like sports and the arts; the intangible way culture gets passed on from generation to generation; and why the kind of media you watch and interact with really does matter.

Dr. Rizzolatti points out what most of us know at a gut level:  understanding the actions, intentions and emotions of others is central to our survival and sense of safety.  We have the ability to understand what others are thinking, feeling and what they may do based not on rational thought, but on feelings.  This fascinates me because, intuitively, I’ve always known this to be true.  In fact, LIES That Limit discusses the constructive and destructive aspects of being tuned in to what others are thinking and feeling, and the impact it can have on the choices we make.    Now, science provides additional evidence to prove the point.

Pay close attention; your psychic ability may just be the by-product of active mirror neurons.  Given your natural ability to anticipate what others are thinking, feeling and are about to do, you can work at better understanding where they’re coming from and why.  Here’s an example:  on a recent flight, squeezing into the seats next to me were two people who I assume to be a mother and her thirteen to fourteen year old son.  From their conversation, it seemed they were coming home from a trip abroad…so lots of time together, in close quarters – airplanes, hotels, restaurants, etc.

As they fell into the seats, the mother began speaking to her son in a way that felt like yelling, to me.

“You always do that.  I told you to stop.  You’re rude and embarrassing.  I told you not to behave that way.  It’s not nice.  I don’t want to have to tell you again.  Don’t push people or push your way through crowds.  Wait your turn.  Have I not told you this before?!  I’m tired of telling you about your behavior.”

On and on, she went.  I felt badly for the young man.  Having been the child of a mother who, out of a sense of responsibility for raising a well-behaved child, had no qualms about public chastisement, I felt for him.  I looked deeply into the pages of my book to avoid his eyes.  I imagined, or sensed, he was feeling humiliated at the public dress-down he was receiving.  Sitting next to me, I was aware of his breathing and, peripherally, his icy, frozen stare, eyes locked straight ahead.  He was doing so to control himself – to not yell back or strike out.

After she quieted down, I thought about the mother and wondered why she felt the need to speak to her son so harshly, and with many strangers bearing witness.  I went into my “Why is she doing this!?!”  The more I pondered the question/judgment, the more I could sense her thoughts and feelings, too.  The awareness that came floored me.  This woman was TERRIFIED that her beautiful son, whom she loved and saw great promise in, would not grow up to be a fine, respectful, courteous man.  She was afraid that he would become another pushy, ill-mannered person who doesn’t know how to live well in the world with others.

Suddenly, I felt empathy for her.  I could clearly relate to the way she was feeling.  It was an anxiety many Moms carry; myself included.  While you and I may not have spoken to our child in that way, and in front of others, the terror would be quite the same.

I believe my mirror neurons helped me empathize with both parties in this situation. At a feeling level, I understood what was going on in each of them.  With that, judgmental thoughts about the mother subsided.  They were replaced by empathy and respect for her genuine concern for the son she loved, and her intentions to raise him well.

Could mirror neurons help you to be more empathic – more emotional intelligence?  Try it and then decide.  Instead of judging them, tune in to the people around you and, even if you don’t agree with them, notice how much of their thoughts, feelings and intentions you can discern.  You’re bound to surprise yourself with how much information you’ll receive.  You really can read minds, thanks to the mirror neurons in your brain!

Learn more at GoCognitive.net and in the American Psychological Association article “The Mind’s Mirror.”

 

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Women Are Better Investors!

August 28th, 2012

Guest Blog by Suzy Egan

“Women are better investors.”  That was the headline during the evening news last week; the same week that the market reversed direction more than some of the most famous roller coasters in the world. I thought this needed a little more investigation. Over the past few years there have been a lot of studies by academia and investment firms in investment behavior, attitudes, and outcomes between men and women. The findings demonstrate that as a result of their different approach to investing, and their temperaments, female investors produce results that are more consistent and persistent.

Women investors tend to:

  • Spend more time researching investments; as a result they avoid “hot tips” and whims.
  • Trade less than men do. Men trade 45% more than women and are more confident in their decisions.
  • Shun risk more than male investors do.
  • Be less optimistic, therefore more realistic.
  • Be more immune to peer pressure and make decisions the same way regardless who is watching.
  • Learn from their mistakes
  • Ask for direction and professional help.

So, if these are the facts why do so many women choose not to take an active part in their financial future? This is your wake-up call! Women need to get off the sidelines and take control. Many of us were raised not to talk about money. Women would rather share much more intimate aspects of their life than discuss money. It is never too late to get involved or get started.

Here is what you can do to get started:

  • Gather any statements you have and see where you are invested. Ask questions; make sure you are comfortable with the investments.
  • Calculate your net worth. (go to wimforwomen.com under resources for a worksheet)
  • Start researching where you would invest, seek out a financial advisor for a second opinion.
  • If you are not investing, in most cases it is time to get started.

Women tend to live longer than their male counterparts and make less during their lifetime but, because of their longevity will need to have more saved for the future. The evidence shows women are better investors, get involved in your future.

Suzy Egan

 

Suzy Egan has more than 15 years in the investment business with 10 years as a past member of a large registered investment portfolio management team and 5 years in her current role with Woloshin Investment Management, LLC.  The establishment of WIM for Women, a financial service dedicated to the need of women, is the cornerstone of her practice.  You can email Suzy at segan@jpturner.com.

 

 

A Registered Investment Advisor
35 North Main St, Medford, NJ 08055
Wimforwomen.com
segan@jpturner.com

Securities Offered Through
J.P. Turner & Company, LLC
Member FINRA/SIPC
JPT081611-1274

Woloshin Investment Management, LLC is not affiliated with J.P. Turner & Company, LLC

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Guest Blog: Why I Journal

August 21st, 2012

By Linda Tabach

Linda Tabach

Linda Tabach

Linda Tabach writes and blogs about health, fitness and wellness at www.lemonslifelove.com.  She is training to become a health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is looking forward to helping others reach their wellness goals through balanced living.

I began journaling with a computer document at the end of 2008 and I just finished at the end of July when it hit 762 pages. The document was taking too long to load in my computer, so I decided to begin anew. The blank white screen on a fresh journal inspires me to fill the pages.

At first my journaling was a way to chronicle events that were taking place in my life, but I quickly found that as I wrote I was able to express emotions, develop ideas, process conflicts, analyze dreams, and be creative. As I rush through my busy days, with thoughts continually racing through my head, I have little time to do any of those things, but at the end of the day when I can sit at my desk to relax, the words flow freely.

I enjoy journaling on the computer because my handwriting can’t keep up with my thoughts, but I know of others who handwrite in their journals. Still others draw or use photos to express their thoughts and feelings in their journals. Keeping my journal on the computer has the added benefit of allowing me to search for entries which I find helpful when I want to go back and revisit an event or remind myself of how I accomplished a difficult task or resolved a conflict.

I also journal in my head while I run. Long distance running is the perfect time for me to process thoughts and ideas, and when I get home I type them up. I frequently write lengthy emails to friends and family and I will add these to my journal as well, along with emails I receive.

During the last couple of years, blogging has also been a form of journaling for me, one in which I can share my thoughts with whoever finds me and cares to read. I connect with others through my blog, and I can choose to share journal entries with them. The blogging community encourages a sense of unity and belonging through the exchange of journal entries.

It is difficult to balance all of the important aspects of my life – family, friends, career, spiritual growth, exercise – and journaling allows me to see where I need to focus my efforts at any given time. I allow myself time every day to reflect; I consider this an essential element of my self care.

 If you enjoy handwriting journal entries, you can order a “Journal Your Truth” notebook from Spirit of Purpose.

 

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Inspiration for Your Next Big IDEA

August 14th, 2012

Whether you’re focused on how to enhance your self-awareness, solving a problem, taking the next step in your ever-evolving quest for personal development or professional development, looking for inspiration, or just needing to stir your creative juices to feel more alive, you need to get in the flow to generate the right ideas.

Jeffrey Davis says he’s in the business of “Changing the Way Creativity Happens.”  I had the pleasure of meeting him recently.  He was the opening speaker for a conference where I delivered the closing keynote address.  His message was about the power of the IDEA.

Here’s what I took from his talk about IDEA, an acronym that stands for Intentional Focus, Delightful Divergence, Eureka! and Action.

Intentional Focus is a way to get your problems and concerns out of the swirling ethers in your head and onto paper.  Write them down.  Then, choose one of the items to give your attention to.  Set aside 45 minutes, but no more than 90 minutes, to focus on the concern you selected.

As you begin your time of Intentional Focus, have a talk with yourself.  Tell your mind, “I’m focused on improving this situation.”  Every time your mind wanders, and it will, remind it of its current object of attention by restating, “I’m focused on improving this situation.”  Notice what your mind does with the situation and diagram, list, draw, write down whatever comes up, even if it seems irrelevant, ridiculous or not on point.

Delightful Divergence:  After your period of Intentional Focus, do something pleasurable and off task, something totally relaxing or fun.  Jeffrey recommends a 5 to 20 minute break of pure enjoyment.  You might go for a walk, listen to music, dance, jump rope, garden, paint, draw – do whatever delights you and takes you away – mind, body and emotion – from the situation you’ve been focusing on.

EUREKA!:   After your 20 minutes of Delightful Divergence, return to the problem and watch for your EUREKA! moment.  New ideas and fresh solutions will begin to flow.  Capture all of them.  Write them down, record them on your mobile device, draw a picture or symbols that represent their essence.  Do whatever will best enable you to hold onto the inspiration that will surface.  In fact, Jeffrey recommends keeping a Eureka Journal – a dedicated repository for all the great ideas that will pop. 

ACTION:  Once an effective solution surfaces, take ACTION.  Write out what you’re going to do and by when, and then do it.  Bring your brilliance to life.  After all, we don’t really suffer from a shortage of good ideas, only a lack of action.

If you’re in search of the solution to a long-standing issue, a new problem or opportunities for personal growth, try Jeffery’s IDEA process.  Intentional Focus, Delightful Divergence, Eureka! and Action – really works.  It could be the inspiration for your next stroke of genius.

Visit Jeffrey Davis’ website  trackingwonder.com to learn more.

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100% Full Proof Guaranteed Way to Instantly Reduce Stress

July 31st, 2012

Guest Blog by Kyle Ruffin

One day, I found myself, as I often do, staring with anger at a woman in the supermarket who was wearing an outfit that was absolutely inappropriate for her.  Not only was it too tight, it was clearly designed for a girl half her age.   I stared and stared, while my mind devised insults that would put this woman in her place once and for all.  If I could just say the right words to her, she’d thank me, run home and set this outfit, and no doubt other hideous attire in her closet, on fire.  But of course, that was the least likely outcome.  So why was I investing so much emotion in this complete stranger?

How many times a day do you find yourself in this state of mind?  Working yourself up over a total stranger or a situation that you either can’t control or doesn’t concern you?  When you do, your blood pressure goes up.  Your chest tightens.  Your heart starts racing.  The tension in your face and around your eyes intensifies.  Your forehead pinches so much that your eyebrows feel like they might touch.  We ALL do it.  Waste valuable time and expend angry emotion that benefits no one – especially not ourselves.

We live in a society where passing judgment is truly our favorite pastime.  My guess is that’s what makes Reality TV so popular.  We can sit on the couch and legitimately judge the ridiculous actions of someone who will have no impact on our lives what so ever.  Why do we even care if the Bachelorette sleezes her way through the latest batch of men?  Or another has-been TV star has fallen from grace into the clutches of dysfunction.

We’ve been judging others for so long and we do it so often that it’s a reflex.  Experts (and I’m no expert) would probably say it’s a hold-over from the human evolutionary period when we needed to make snap judgments about whether the approaching thing was going to eat us.  In most cases today, it serves no purpose.  Admittedly, there are situations where it’s good to size someone up before they can do us harm.  When it comes to superficial judging, we’re better off without it.

I’ve consciously decided to turn the tide by taking control of my mind and emotions in this area.  In the same way people use Mindfulness techniques to reduce stress, I’m using these techniques to stop judging others.  Since judging is such an involuntary reaction, it’s very hard to head it off at the pass, but as soon as I realize what I’m doing, I just stop.  Instantly, I feel the tension melt away.  My shoulders lower.  My chest unclenches. My disposition lightens and I sometimes even find myself smiling ever so slightly – finding humor in the ridiculousness of self-righteous stance.

Kyle Ruffin

Kyle Ruffin

Give it a shot.  I guarantee you’ll feel the difference.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to pull out the judgment card.  So, if that heart-racing, brow-squinching feeling is something you crave, just wait a few minutes.  Real danger is bound to present itself.

 

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The Right Words For That Difficult Work-Appropriate Dress Conversation

July 24th, 2012

If the uncomfortable task of coaching someone on how they dress for work falls to you, you may be struggling with what to say and how to say it in a way that maintains a good working relationship.

Words can be your enemy or your friend in a conversation that strikes so close to the heart of the person you’re talking to.  How we dress is a direct expression of how we feel about ourselves, so asking someone to change can bring up unforeseen issues.  For that reason, using a technique called “FeedForward” is extremely helpful because it removes the sting borne out of criticizing past behaviors.

Here’s how you might tie conversations about appearance to work ambitions and be specific about what you’re recommending.  Use language like, “As you’re well aware, we’re all judged based on appearance – whether or not we look the part.  From past conversations, I know you want to take on a bigger role.  Everyone knows you have the talent to do the job, so that’s not a concern.  One suggestion I have, that will help you look the part, is to start wearing tops that come a little higher up at the neckline to cover your cleavage or skirts and dresses that come to the knee.”   Or, for a man, “May I suggest that you make sure your shirts and slacks are pressed and crisp looking.  In our conservative organization, this change will help you to look the part, which we all know goes a long way toward convincing others that you’re a good fit for the role and will represent the company well.”

If you’re giving feedback to a person who is already in the role and you’re trying to help them refine their appearance, try using statements like:  “I know you want to move ahead.  You might increase your chances if you made a few changes in the way you dress.   Here, those who get the kind of opportunities you want demonstrate their competence, as you already do, and they also dress more conservatively and very professionally.” More examples of specific recommendations might include, “If you’re serious about your career progression, I suggest you begin wearing clothing that is less form fitting, skirts and dresses with longer hem lengths, professionally laundered shirts, wear a shorter hair cut (for men), wear blouses that fit a bit more loosely, or suits that are well tailored.”

Once you’ve offered your suggestions, check-in and listen:  Ask, “Given what I’ve just said, do you have any questions or concerns?”  If the person says, “Nothing; I understand.”  The meeting is over.  If he or she says, “I don’t know why you’re picking on me.”  Respond with, “I’m sorry to hear I came off that way.  That’s the exact opposite of what I intended.“   Or, “This is probably a lot to take in at once.  What if you take a day or two and think about it.  Then, if you’d like to discuss it more, we can.  Could that work for you?” Whichever statement you choose to make, do so, then stop talking and listen.

If he says, he doesn’t agree with you, don’t debate the point.  Simply say something like, “Okay.  I understand.  I wanted to provide this perspective because I thought it might be helpful.  That was my goal.  I regret that I missed the mark.”  Then, let it go.   As circumstances change for the person – new roles, new challenges, new failures – you may decide to approach the topic again, perhaps differently, if that feels appropriate and is likely to serve the person’s best interest.  For now, politely, end the meeting.

No matter what the recipient’s response – “This is exactly what I needed to hear” or “You’re nuts.” – close off the conversation with, “Thanks for hearing me out.  I appreciate your willingness to at least consider the perspective I’ve offered.”

Remember, like feedback, FeedForward is a gift you give.  As is true with all gifts, the recipient can open it, love it and use it immediately, save it to unwrap later, ignore it or trash it.  It’s entirely up to them.  You’ve done your part when you muster up the courage to share the information.

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