What Are You Afraid Of?

Terri* could easily picture the little girl sitting on the bench that she often saw in her dreams. She did not know the girl’s name but could clearly hear her voice reminding her of her shortcomings. She whispered that Terri was not smart enough, kind enough ,etc. As Terri and I discussed what this all meant during our session, she realized that the girl in the dream represented all the fears she had about not measuring up to the expectations of her father. She did not feel that she could ever be good enough for him. That fear was always just beneath the surface and affected her every waking moment. The amazing thing was that Terri was very successful in every single thing she attempted but she had always let the fear of possible failure loom over her like an ominous cloud. During our coaching partnership, she was able to face and manage her fears and stop letting them drive her life. The dreams about the little girl decreased and eventually stopped as she worked with her coach and a therapist to understand her fear and address it.

What are you afraid of? There are many ways to view fear. My favorite acronym for fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. We often allow fear to become a self fulfilling prophecy because we manufacture evidence to support what we think about ourselves.  Being fearful is a choice that does not allow you to be the best you that is possible. Worry is an ally of fear.

My Mother used to say that we worry about things before they happen, when they happen and after they happen. She said we should wait until they happen and make one worry do. She offered sage advice that we should consider. Here are a few ideas that might help you handle your fears.

  • Acknowledge your fears but don’t let them control you. A veteran coach friend of mine says, “It is ok to let fear go along for the ride, you just can’t let it drive.”
  • Separate fact from fear-induced fiction. You can tell yourself something for so long that we start to believe it is factual when it is either totally or partially a figment of our active imagination. What we make up about a situation is often just that…made up and not based on any factual evidence.
  • Practice looking for the positive about yourself and others. There is one line in the movie, Pretty Woman, where Julia Robert’s character says, “It is easier to believe the bad stuff.” We can overcome that syndrome with practice. The subconscious mind is a sponge that will believe whatever we feed it and will then help it to become true. Don’t feed it fear and failure or it believes that is what you want to be true  and it will help you achieve your goals.

This quote on fear is often attributed to Nelson Mandela but it was actually from a book by Marianne Williamson. Choose to focus on your light instead of your fears. You are enough already.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Acknowledge your fear, put it in the backseat and keep driving towards your God-given brilliance.

Beverley Wright PCC is an executive coach and leadership consultant. She is the CEO of Wright Choice Group LLC.  www.wrightchoicegroup.com

Managers And Leaders

It’s Monday morning and the weekend is over for most of us and it is time to go back to work. Are your employees looking forward to coming back to work for you? There is a quote that says, “People join companies and leave managers.” If you formally manage people as a part of your job responsibilities, this column may be of particular interest to you. I intended to write about something completely different for this issue but recently I have heard so many distressful stories about bosses that make the workplace more challenging than it has to be that I changed my focus. Let’s be clear, the purpose of any business is to generate profits. A business usually does that by filling a need that serves customers. Your employees service and touch your customers so it is in the best interest of a manager or business owner to have motivated, engaged and reasonably happy employees interacting with them. Have you gone to make a purchase and while the clerk is checking you out, they share their view of what a horrible place they work in and how they can’t wait to find an escape? Even worse, they ignore customers and spend their time sharing with their peers about their plight of working for uncaring bosses and companies that don’t expect much of them or invest in their training and development. Sound familiar? This is a symptom of workplace pain that has become too often the rule and not the exception. The antidote is to train managers and leaders to become effective in leading people. They might focus as much on the return on people (ROP) as they focus on the return on investment (ROI). The two things are very closely related. Extensive research has shown that the managers or leaders of organizations or companies create the environment, climate and culture. Managers can create a climate that encourages employees to offer ideas for new products, redefine processes that increase productivity and customer satisfaction and look for ways to grow company revenue. The climate can impact the bottom line profits of a company by a 28 percent factor…up or down. What company would not like to grow profit by even a fraction of that number?

What does it take to be a leader that creates a positive workplace climate? In their book, The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner identified four practices of exemplary leadership. They are:

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Other to Act

Happiness Is An Inside Job

Are you happy? As the quote says, It can be difficult to achieve happiness in these rough and hectic  times, but do you know what happiness looks like for you? It is not one size fits all. I am often asked what people want to work on when they engage a coach. The answer is varied, but it has some element of a pursuit of happiness in their personal and/or professional life. Here are some basic suggestions for you to consider if you, too, want to be happier:

1. DECIDE TO BE HAPPY.
This is not intended to be a flip statement. Take responsibility for your happiness and make a conscious decision to focus on situations, people and relationships that make you feel good about yourself and the world.

2. GET TO KNOW YOURSELF BETTER.
Write down your values and core beliefs. Check to ensure that your personal and professional goals are aligned with your values and core beliefs. If there is not alignment here, inner conflict will squeeze out happiness every time.

3. DON’T CONFUSE MATERIAL THINGS WITH SUCCESS.
True happiness has more to do with the quality of your thoughts and relationships than the size of your house, the car you drive or the labels in your clothes. A 1995 study, using surveys and daily observation by Diener and Fujita, showed the availability of material resources was nine times less important to happiness than the availability of “personal” resources such as friends and family.

4. ENJOY EVERY PLEASURE
Mother Nature is free for the observing, and happiness can be as simple as enjoying a beautiful sunrise or sunset while traveling to work or your child’s laugh. Don’t forget to focus on those moments of happiness, wallow in the feeling of joy. Happiness is not necessarily a steady constant state but may come in bursts of contentment, so be on the look out for it. When was the last time you laughed out loud for a good minute or two? Laughing can contribute to your overall happier outlook, so look for reasons to laugh.

5. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND YOUR ABILITY TO HAVE A HAPPY LIFE.
Be your own cheering section. It is hard, if not impossible, to rise above your level of self-esteem. We constantly hear people talk about giving or getting a “vibe” from someone. When you don’t believe that you can or deserve to be happy, the “vibe” you share with others can help this become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

6. GIVE BACK OFTEN TO PEOPLE AND CAUSES THAT CALL YOU FORTH TO HELP SOMEONE.
Happiness usually requires that we feel needed. There is nothing more rewarding than helping someone else to be happy.

 Those who have no fire within cannot warm others. ~ Bev Wright

The Coach Approach: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

The Coach Approach“People cannot be managed. Inventories can be managed, but people must be led.” This quote is attributed to H. Ross Perot, founder of Electronic Data Systems and Perot Systems. Successful organizations and companies require inspiring leadership. Let’s take a look at the “coach approach” to leadership.

Leadership is a relationship between leaders and their employees. In a research survey conducted by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner for their book, “The Leadership Challenge,” the authors identified the characteristics that employees wanted in their leaders most often. Employees wanted leaders who are:

  1. Honest
  2. Competent
  3. Forward-looking
  4. Inspiring
  5. Intelligent

Did these make your list?

Successful companies need good management and leadership. One is not usually a substitute for the other. A coaching leader is a skilled people manager because he or she realizes that people are the most important asset a company can have. Walt Disney is quoted as saying, “Disney’s most important asset goes home every night.”

If you are a manager, consider these suggestions to increase your leadership quotient:

  • Surround yourself with people different from yourself. If you only see the big picture, you will need some detail people on your team to ensure that important tasks don’t fall through the cracks. There is strength in diversity of skills and experiences.
  • Create an environment that makes it easy for people to tell you the truth. When you are the leader, ignorance is not bliss! Your employees are closer to the front line with your customers and usually know what is and isn’t working. Ask them for their suggestions and listen to what they have to say.

Striving to be a coaching leader is critical to your leadership success. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo of top-down management. Make the choice to be a leader.

The pace of the business world has increased, and we often think we don’t have the time to focus on the people instead of the many urgent situations that demand our attention. That is the perfect time to realize that people are the reason that they call us leaders. No successful leader becomes successful alone. Those who use the “coach approach” to leadership reap the benefits of creating a legacy of leaders who keep the company strong for now and the future.

 

Change: Same Song, Second Verse

“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change.  Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions.  Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”  Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Change

Change your thinking, change your choices, change your life. There is that word again – CHANGE. It is always there or just around the corner.  I am returning to the topic of change because it is ever present. It is a consistent topic of conversation with friends, colleagues, clients and even casual acquaintances.

Decide

Deciding what needs to change may be the first order of business. Everything starts with the way we think.

I have two questions for you:

  1. How has the way you think impacted your life?

  2. Do you make time to think?

George Bernard Shaw said, “Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.” Thomas Watson Sr., the founder of IBM, used the word THINK as a one-word slogan when his company was growing.  If he could get all of his employees to think about ways to improve the company and its products, he thought that was the key to innovation and business success.

Disciplined thinking can work for you if you want to make changes to generate more intentional choices in your life.

How does thinking play a part in your life?

ME, Incorporated (How to Promote Your Brand)

PictureOf3BusinessProfessionalsFor many, the new year season is a time for reflection. Whether this has been a challenging year or a glorious one, take stock of where you are and determine where you want to go.  Companies do this in their annual budgets and planning processes.  You can use that same type of assessment by viewing yourself as the CEO and the chief stockholder in your own company. In your company, you are the “every thing.” So, let’s call your company “Me, Incorporated.”

Terri Lonier, CEO of Working Solo, Inc., was quoted as saying, “In the future “the not-too-distant future” only two groups of people will be in the world of work: entrepreneurs and those who think like entrepreneurs.” The work world has changed, and we must change with it. We must embrace the fact that we are all one-person companies and understand that we are the CEO, the director of marketing, the finance manager and the employee of Me, Inc. Let’s take a closer look at what that might mean to our lives and careers.

If you are an entrepreneur, or you just think like one, before you open Me, Inc., you would conduct a market analysis to ensure that your product, YOU, is competitive in the marketplace.

What company’s name comes to mind if I say, “JUST DO IT?” What name springs to mind if I ask, “Which company has the golden arches?” Why do you know these companies by a simple phrase? You recognize their BRAND.

Me, Inc. has a brand, too. What is yours?

When people hear your name, what do they think of first? Ask yourself that question to start creating the brand that is you! You can build your brand and awareness of your brand in the career marketplace. Learn how to BE the BRAND, the LEADER you want to see.

When Scott Bedbury was senior vice president of Starbucks, he defined eight brand-building principles. Over the new few posts, I am sharing them, along with my comments, to assist you in enhancing or building your personal brand.

I’d love to hear from you. What makes your brand famous?

Welcome

Leadership is often that difference between success and failure for companies and organizations.  This blog will focus on sharing information, tools and perspectives on how we can all be more effective leaders  in our personal and professional lives.  Having more people-centered leadership will result in more employee engagement, increased productivity and ultimately, more satisfied customers.  I want to celebrate those that are effective leaders already and offer coaching and support to those that have a genuine desire to be more effective leaders.  Stop by to hear my ideas and share yours.