I have a good friend who has a vanity plate that says “SPACEY”. My friend constantly refers to her self as a “Space Cadet”. This same friend is an accomplished pianist, dedicated mother and a loyal person. I would describe my friend as competent, thoughtful, and intelligent. I would describe her in all positive terms and almost anyway except as being spacey! Continue reading
The mother and father and two young sons had been collecting shell fragments quite sometime when they noticed a perfectly intact starfish “shell” floating just off the shore line. The youngest boy looked expectantly at the dad and the dad nodded yes. Continue reading
On the first day of school three of my girlfriends and I escaped for a simply decadent afternoon at the swimming pool. All morning as I packed lunches, checked book bags I had a silly grin on my face. I was looking forward to playing hooky with my friends. As my seven-year old daughter, Grace climbed in my SUV she spied my pool bag. She was completely perplexed. She questioned me as to why would the pool bag be in my car? Did I not realize summer was over and school had started. When I explained that while she was at school I was retreating with my friends to the pool. Her expression was priceless. She was completely aghast that I would consider going to the pool without her. Today I was not only going to the pool without her but I was going to the pool while she was in school! Continue reading
Who do you think of when you think of a “great” girlfriend? Is it the person who you call when you want to go on a long walk? or who you call when you want to go see a movie? or is it the person you call when your dog has just passed away? or is it the friend that lets you incessantly complain about work? or is it the person who shares your passion and life’s mission? Continue reading
Recently I had the chance to present on the topic of ”leading up” to a group of business women. After my presentation, we engaged in a lively dialogue about the difference between men and women. Most of the women in the room were energized by a particular point from my presentation: When talking about career progression men are more likely to discuss title and women are more likely to talk about meaning and content of the work. The women who attended my presentation agreed whole heartedly with this assertion. Not only did they agree but they took it one step farther they felt men are wrong to talk about career progression in terms of title. These women were advancing the argument that what is important is the content of the work not the title. They wanted their male counterparts to talk about what matters to them rather than unimportant titles. Continue reading
Last night I took my seven year old daughter to a Boy Band Concert. The opening act was Rachel Crow. I had not heard of Rachel but enjoyed her soul-filled voice. One of Rachel’s songs in particular caught my attention. It is called Mean Girls. The song talks about a young girl being left out by other young girls. It details the pain of not fitting in and being left out at the school lunch table. Continue reading
I am a novice horse back rider and my instructor pointed out that I was using the wrong paradigm for turning my horse. I was turning my horse Poppy like I turn my car. I was turning by moving both hands and literally steering my horse. Instead of using the reins for "steering" the reigns should be used like the walls of a hallway. So the best way to lead a horse is by providing the parameters or boundaries of where they can going and where they are headed. Reins work by controlling the bit that is in the horses mouth. Bits work by exerting pressure inside the horse's mouth. The are assisted by the bridle that creates additional pressure around the horse's head—cheeks, chin or nose. The idea is that, by moving away from the discomfort of the pressing bit, the horse moves in the direction the rider wants to go. In a properly trained horse with the right tack and a knowledgeable rider, it all works together to create unity between the rider's wishes and the horse's performance.
The way you reward the horse is giving them more reign- taking the pressure off. You let them know they are going the right way and you want more of that way.
As my riding instructor explained all of this I couldn’t help but think horses like people don’t like to be steered. We like to know our boundaries- we like to know we are going the right way. As a mom, as a wife as a leader, I find it is easy to forget this important life lesson.
|“Getting runs early continues to be a big part of the game for this team. It takes the pressure off the pitchers.”|
|Dana Fiedler quotes|
Sally is a Controller for a large privately held company. After fourteen years of service and completion of every assignment and development activity she was offered she was passed by for a long desired promotion to CFO. She was considered for the position but ultimately an outside candidate was selected. The CEO of the company offered her a substantial raise when he shared the news. He wanted her to stay on but offered no explanation as to why she wasn’t selected. Sally shared her story with me over coffee. She said her passion for her job had been lost. She felt like the wind had been taken out of her sails. Her reviews were stellar. She was left wondering why she had been passed over for this promotion. After offering several statements of empathy that seemed to miss the mark with Sally I finally hit the one that summed it up for her. The substantial raise was not commensurate with the hurt she felt that she was not provided an explanation and money was not able to rebuild her spirit. The fact that money was offered as the motivation to stay completely missed the mark.
After morning coffee with Sally I headed out to walk with an old friend, Sarah. Sarah had just returned from a long weekend with her son and husband. They were traveling to a long-awaited appointment to meet a Beluga Whale. Sarah was responsible for navigating the family on this expedition. They got lost on the way to the appointment. Her son and husband teased her about having no sense of direction. The teasing kept on until they arrived one hour late to their appointment. They missed the orientation for meeting the whale, so they would have to return the next day for the opportunity to commune with the whale. This delay coupled with the teasing reduced her to tears. Her husband hugged her and encouraged her son to do the same. Both son and husband offered the hug in apology. A day later, Sarah was still stinging from some of their remarks about her lack of navigational skill. Once again I tried several empathetic responses to no avail. I felt compelled to ask is it bothering you that the apology felt short of the hurt you felt? She said yes! That is it exactly! I asked what you would have liked your family to say or do? She had some very specific items including acknowledging how important and how hard she worked to make that day a possibility. She was looking for a distraction to the pain she was feeling and not the teasing or a hug.
Later that day I reflecting on my conversations with Sally and Sarah I found myself wondering about the emotional bank account concept. I had been exposed to the concept of the emotional bank account at a Stephen Covey workshop. I remember that you must make deposits that are equal to the withdrawals we make in our relationships. What occurred to me in both Sally and Sarah’s story is that not only did they want commensurate responses or deposits but they also wanted them in a different “currency” than they were given. The raise or the hugs were not enough and not the right form of deposit. We must remember to not only to keep our deposits and withdrawals in mind in our emotional bank accounts but to also make sure we are depositing currency that the person accepts. I am curious what is your experience? Does an apology have to be equal to the offense or both equal and in the right form? When someone makes a withdrawal from your account do you have a specific “currency” in mind for replenishing the relationship?
Capability is daring yourself to stretch and see that you don’t have a limit to your potential. A former boss used to say, whether you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right. When she would say this I would roll my eyes and think, oh what a Pollyanna! However if you examine how the brain are brain works, she’s actually right. Our brain is designed to filter out information that does not fit with our self image or capability.
This phenomenon has been documented throughout history. I was first exposed to the concept when I attended Lou Tice’s workshop Investment in Excellence. He cited explained how the brain works and illustrated with the example of the four-minute mile. Once the record was broken, multiple people broke it within 30 days. That ability to see that you can achieve something is sometimes the thing that actually allows it to happen.
There is another great story that Lou tells to illustrate this point. A potato farmer in Australia entered a long grueling race that typically took five days to run. The farmer was dressed in his normal attire - overalls and work boots. To the local media the farmer was a joke, he was older than the rest of the runners; he was ill-equipped. The farmer who was a joke at the start of the race ended the race a winner. Not only did he win but he won the race by a day and a half! How did he pull off such a huge win? He did so because he really didn’t believe or didn’t even know about the common race methodology suggested by the experts to run for 14 hours, then sleep for six. He just kept running, like the age-old story of the tortoise and the hare. I think by not focusing on what the world sees as limitations but looking past to what we want allows us to reach our own inner potential.
What do you see as your potential? What belief could be holding you back?
“Sometimes what holds us back is not who we think we are but who we think we are not.” ~Anonymous
As a little girl I dreamed of owning a horse but, alas, my parents did not share my dream. I was lucky enough to grow up near a horse farm, so I was able to be around horses as a child. I always thought someday I would own a horse; but as I became an adult, my priority was working and raising kids so I never seemed to get around to taking the time to own a horse.
Now as a forty-five year old woman, it is finally that someday and I am living that little girl dream with my horse Poppy. Because it has been such a long time since I had ridden a horse, I have hired a riding instructor, Lori. During my horseback riding lessons I am often surprised to hear Lori coaching me on the same items that I work with my corporate coaching clients.
Just last week she instructed me to make my horse Poppy trot whenever he was behaving poorly. You see every time Poppy and I passed the barn door he would pull on the reigns and act spooky. Lori coached me to make Poppy focus on some positive behavior so he won’t think so much about what is scaring him; make him trot and he will forget about what is making him nervous and stop his negative behavior of pulling on the reigns!
Earlier that very day I had said something very similar to a coaching client. My client, an accomplished salesperson, was working on cracking a tough account. She was worried because this account had issues with a product she had sold them earlier in the year. As we were preparing for her sales visit, she mentioned that when she gets nervous she tends to talk a great deal. She was concerned because she knew she would be nervous on this visit. So I asked her, what is the opposite of talking too much? She said listening well. I asked her what things does she do when she listens well. She said I ask questions and take notes. We then made an elaborate question guide and note-taking instrument. I told her to focus on the doing the positive (listening) versus the negative (talking to much)!
It is a simple lesson, really, when we put energy into what we do want to have happen because it takes the energy away from what we don’t want to have happen. This is true for Poppy as well as for all of us!
My question to all of you is what do you put energy into? Is there anything negative you are doing that you could avoid by putting energy into the positive?