Thursday, January 29, 2009

If You Want to Receive ... Ask!

Ask and you shall receive. It sounds so simple. The problem is a lot of time, we forget the first part and then get bent out of shape when the second part doesn’t happen.

While out with the girls one night, the conversation inevitably turned to men and one of the girls had a serious problem. She had just started dating this guy and … she wasn’t getting enough sex. Yes, I know this is a problem that many men wish they had!

She was frustrated and infuriated! She explained that she had inferred, implied, alluded and insinuated. She had beaten around the bush, walked around the block and sent up smoke signals. But the one thing she didn’t do was ask! She never made her desires known.

When I asked her why she hadn’t asked, she pouted and said, “Well, he should know.”


How would he know what she wanted, if she didn’t tell him?

Think about all the problems that could be resolved, all the hurt feelings that could be spared and all the misunderstandings that could be avoided, if people would just ask for what they wanted.
  • The boss should know you want the promotion or that you need the raise.
  • Your friend should know that you don’t appreciate her always being late.
  • Your neighbor should know how much that barking dog gets on your nerves.

Even if they should know it doesn’t hurt to ask for it. And I mean ask. Don’t be cute about it. Be adult about it - state it clearly and plainly (and of course, tactfully).

If you want the promotion, let your boss know. If tardiness or barking dogs works your nerves, make that known too. And, on behalf of men all over, I say; if you want more sex, let him know it! Ask and you shall receive!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Keys to Success: Where the Buck Starts

This is the fourth in my ten part Keys of Success series. Every Monday we’ll feature another key.

Now that I think about it, this should have been the first of my Keys to Success. Before you can do anything, before you can do the work, before you can be prepared, you have to own it. Owning it means being accountable and responsible. The buck stops with you.

Real and exciting change happens when you accept accountability and responsibility. This might be hard to hear but, “It’s no one else’s fault.” You are where you are because of decisions you have made. This can be tricky in some circumstances so allow me to explain. Accountability and blame are two different things. You might not be to blame for something that happened to you, but you are responsible for how you respond to it.

You are accountable for your responses. You are accountable for your thoughts. You are accountable for your actions. It begins and ends with you. It’s not about someone else – what they did or did not do. It’s not about waiting for something to happen – hitting the lottery or waiting on some other magical event. It’s not about past events shaping, molding and dictating your future.

Success begins not when opportunity knocks but when you become accountable for yourself. The food isn’t making you fat; it’s your decision to eat it that packs on the pounds. Likewise, the store doesn’t make you spend, you make that decision. Going back to school, buying a home, getting a new car, are all expensive undertakings, but you are responsible for looking into scholarships, grants, loans and educating yourself on the options.

At first glance, accountability and responsibility aren’t ‘sexy’ concepts. But if you think about it, they are. Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Your personal power begins with accepting responsibility and being accountable for your actions. You are in control and if that isn’t sexy, I don’t know what is!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The History Makers

Yesterday, history was made. A nation held its breath as Barack Obama placed his hand on the Bible and took the Oath of Office. Just a day after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and 46 years after Martin's I Have a Dream Speech, the dream was realized.

The weight of history and the spirit of change is in the air. The emotion and the pride of a country is pulsing wildly through its veins. Just watching it on television, you could feel the positive energy radiating through the screen. It would be a shame if we were to just let all that good feeling dissipate. So, while we still have this momentum, while the dream has been rekindled and while history continues to be made, my challenge to you is to make your own history. As Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world.

Be the first person in your family to purchase a home or get out of debt. Inspire your children to get their education (hopefully Obama can make doing well in school cool).

Be the person who stands up and says "No" to the status quo and business as usual. Demand better for yourself and those around you and accept nothing less.

Be the person who greets people with a smile and treats others with respect, patience and empathy. Be the one who speaks with honesty and love.

Be the one that will end the cycle of abuse and low expectations. Be the one that ends the revolving door of prison, poverty and parental neglect.

Be the one that finds beauty in the mirror and warmth in your own embrace.

Be the one that reaches for the stars.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Keys to Success: Be the Bee

This is the third in my ten part Keys of Success series. Every Monday we’ll feature another key.

There is no getting around it, success demands work – you can work hard, you can work smart, but you will work!

Hopefully, you are working at something you love and it won’t feel like work but at the end of the day, that’s exactly what it is. I love writing. I can come home after a full day’s work and write. It’s not a chore. It’s something I look forward to and it is something that gives me satisfaction, enjoyment and peace. Now, if you asked me to tend to a garden, research investment opportunities or knit a sweater, for me, that would be work! Even though, I know people who would absolutely adore doing each of those things.

If you want to be successful, it makes sense to create your success around something you enjoy doing, if for no other reason, because you will be doing it. If you want to be successful, work is an unavoidable consequence.

Recently, I went to pick up a prescription. While there, I asked the pharmacist about a new weight loss product. She told me of some very unpleasant side effects and then she said, “If there was a pill that made people shed pounds effortlessly and with no icky side effects, I wouldn’t be able to keep it on the shelves. At the end of the day, you have to eat less and move more. People don’t want to hear that but it’s true. If you really want to lose weight, you have to put in the work.”

Whether it’s weight loss, earning a degree or a promotion, learning a new language, the pharmacist’s words ring true, work is a critical requirement.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Love It to Leave It

Lately, job satisfaction has been a major issue in my coaching and workshops. With the economy making jobs more and more scarce, a lot of people are feeling stuck where they are.

Having been there, I know all too well what it feels like to dread going to work and the ripple effect it can have. You get up grouchy, dreading another day, you leave work stressed, you come home pick an argument with the significant other, snap at the kids, and then prepare for yet another frustrating day. I once had a job so bad that I actually had nightmares about it. Imagine that, I couldn't even get away from it in my sleep!

So, exactly what is a disgruntled desk jockey to do when new employment opportunities are few and far between and your currently reality far from idyllic?

Find a way to love it. Yes, love it. I'm not talking about a fake, saccharine, insincere 'love'. And, I'm not talking about going all 'sweetness and light'. I do mean that you should find something you do like, or enjoy or appreciate about your job.
  • Do you have great benefits?
  • Does your job afford you a certain amount of flexibility?
  • Do you have great coffee?
  • Do you have a couple of great office buddies?
  • Is there a great little restaurant around the corner?
Focusing on the good things about your current position serves two purposes - one immediate and one with more far-reaching effects. First of all, by focusing on the good, you make your everyday life more bearable (trust me, your family will thank you). Second, you are more likely to attract something better into your life when you get content with what you have right now. That's right. A more positive outlook about your current job will actually help you attract a better job down the line.

For my clients, I often ask them to come up with a list of at least 10 things that they like, enjoy or appreciate about their jobs.

What items would be on your list?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Keys to Success: Boy Scout It

This is the second in my ten part Keys of Success series. Every Monday we’ll feature another key.

The Boy Scout motto is simple: Be Prepared. It’s been said that success occurs when opportunity meets preparation. Another way to look at is opportunity minus preparation equals regret.

Any overnight success will tell you that success happened over many nights. What makes success appear overnight is the fact that when that big opportunity came knocking, it was met with preparation. The basketball player had spent the time on the court, making the jump shots, the foul shots and shooting the three pointers, so that when the scout showed up, he was ready. The surgeon had mastered the procedure, so when that time came, she walked into the operating room with the confidence.

When you see your personal success, what do you see? What kind of preparations do you need to make right now? Does your success require public speaking skills? Join Toastmasters. Does your success mean that you have to acquire certain certifications? Start cracking the books. Sign up for a test preparation course.

Anticipate your needs and start preparing now. Procrastination is the enemy of preparation! Consider this. Would you be ready if opportunity knocked tomorrow? Or next week? Or next month? If the answer is “No,” then you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Don’t delay, start today.

How will you start preparing for your success?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Going With The Wind

Today has not been a good day, professionally or personally. It wasn’t one big thing but a series of little things. I try not to let things get to me but every once in a while things do. Yes, I’m a coach but I’m also human.

On days like today, the best part of my day is walking through my front door. I’m home. I can breathe again. The healing properties of home and Marty (the world’s best toy poodle) make me feel a little better almost immediately. The unrealistic demands, the disappointments, the technical difficulties and the traffic seem to almost melt away.

So what’s a disgruntled life coach to do? Well, I’ll do some writing, make some calls and then retreat into a soothing warm bath. After that, I’ll write in my journal. I might call a friend. I’ll probably watch some television.

I’ve learned from past experience that it’s not a good idea to soothe my soul with food or by buying myself a nice outfit (or two or five…). I know now that those things might feel good for the moment but only make a bad situation worse in the long run.

So, after my bath, my journal, and a new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I’ll crawl into bed and as I go off to sleep, the words of the quintessential Southern Belle, Scarlett O’Hara will lull me to sleep, “Tomorrow is another day.” And most likely, it will be a better one.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Keys to Success: See It Now

This is the first part in my 10 part Keys of Success series. Every Monday we’ll feature another key.

You can’t hit a target you can’t see. So the question becomes, what does your success look like? What does it feel like? Since many people have a weight loss resolution or a ‘healthier lifestyle’ resolution, I’ll use that as an example.

If you resolved to lose 50 pounds what does it look like? For the very visual person, it might be easy to actually see themselves 50 pounds lighter, but for the rest of us, it might be hard to imagine. But maybe you can imagine a size 8 pair of pants, or going to the beach in a new bathing suit.

When it comes to seeing it, it’s equally important to feel it. Part of the reason people give up on resolutions is because they lose the motivation. If you can feel your success and get excited about the end game, then it becomes easier to keep that motivation and the discipline.

While seeing the end result is important, I also think you should see yourself succeeding now, while you are on the way. Imagine yourself turning down the donuts at the office party or walking with a friend. This is critical. I try to exercise every day. When I was exercising in the evening after work, I would spend all day dreading the 45 minute workout.

“Ugh! I have to work out!” I’d say.

And I would see it and feel it just the way it sounded. I’d envision myself feeling bored with the workout, and see myself dragging into my work out clothes. How many times do you think I actually worked out?

The same thing would happen to food. I’d see myself unhappily eating a healthy meal while lusting for a Fillet-O-Fish. I’d feel deprived and unsatisfied.

When I changed the way I saw things and the way I felt, I changed my behavior. I started seeing my workouts as a special time for me. I saw myself smiling and enjoying myself. I focused on the feelings of accomplishment that I had after the workout.

I started to look at that Fillet-O-Fish as a roadblock and not a temptation. I actually associated the humiliating feeling of not being able to button my pants one morning with that value meal. I started looking at each healthy meal as bringing me closer to that size 10 or that bathing suit.

Start seeing and feeling your success right now. See it in detail. See yourself reaching the big goal and see yourself succeeding on a day-by-day basis winning all of those small victories. I used weight loss as an example but this is critical for any success: finding a new job, going back to school, saving money, getting out of debt, buying a house. What will you look like when you accomplish your goal? What will it feel like? What will you do differently? What will you do that maybe you can’t do right now?

What is your goal and how do you see yourself succeeding?