Sometimes all is takes is one plane ride to have a complete and utter nervous breakdown. There is nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. You are alone with yourself and the fact that you have to confront the brutal facts of your current reality. There is a saying that I have been preaching for years when my clients come to me with crisis. “Every time there is a breakdown, there is a breakthrough waiting on the other end.” Reality bites when you are faced with taking your own coaching! Two weeks ago I was getting ready to board a plane to Syracuse for the MPS Annual Enhancement Retreat. One hundred of our members shut down their law firms for four days to come and invest in creating their futures. I was so pumped to be part of such an amazing community.
At the gate, while reviewing the agenda for the retreat, I was thinking of the breakthroughs that were going to occur in the room, was excited for the clarity that was to occur and how each attendee was going to make 2012 their best year yet! Then my cell rings and it is my husband. “I’ve been layed off”, he says. “Oh yeah, no severance pay.”
I literally walked onto the plane in a total fog. I sat in my seat and for the next 1 hour and 20 minutes had a total nervous breakdown. The poor businessman next to me was frozen in fear as I bawled my eyes out. I was in a whirlwind of panic about all the “what if”, “how are we doing to”, “what about insurance”, etc. Stuck alone with myself, with no access to the internet or my cell phone, I just let every ounce of it flow. The ugly, messy 80 minute mess of it all. No holding back. I then deplaned in O’Hare and proceeded to the gate for my connecting flight to Syracuse.
I sat at the gate, waiting for my connecting flight, and honestly just sat there. The ‘analysis paralysis’ of trying to solve it all and come up with a “Plan B” manic fest was done. By letting it all out, every ounce of emotion, worry, panic and anger, I let it go and was now empty. With all the “mess” removed, I could just ‘be’ in a place of quiet calmness with myself. A place necessary to refill myself after an experience that left me so emotionally raw I had no business interacting with anyone else at that point in time. I was in a place of such quiet and focus that after sometime I got up and asked the gate agent “what time is the Syracuse flight taking off?” She replied. “Ummm…20 minutes ago. Where were you?” I pointed at the chair I’d been sitting in 10 feet away. I was issued a boarding pass for the next flight, three hours later. I sat back down and continued to sit in much needed silence. I finally arriving in Syracuse at 1 am and collapsed in my bed.
The next morning I awoke, entered the room with one hundred attendees, complete awake and engaged. And our team delivered a powerful retreat, making a difference in our attendees’ lives.
So often we receive devastating news and continue on the hamster wheel without allowing ourselves the time and permission to deal with it. Unfortunately, as we all know, that pent up emotion is going to come out at some point. If we don’t let it out intentionally, and in a protected place where it doesn’t ‘land’ on others it is going to come out at some point – typically at the most inappropriate time, in the most unprofessional way, and sometimes on the most undeserving person.
Without the willingness to sit in my own soup for one hour and twenty minutes and allow every emotion to completely and powerfully flood through me I wouldn’t have been able to just BE with it in O’Hare. Ultimately this allowed me to wake up the next day and move on to the next phase which is a breakthrough.
We all want to go from the crisis immediately to the breakthrough. Not possible folks without sitting in the mess and letting it all out so that you can think clearly and calmly. The first key is to not give in to that knee jerk reaction to flee. (We often ‘flee’ into being really busy so we don’t have to deal and fully ‘feel’ what is happening to us.) The second key is to not make any decisions during the nervous breakdown. This isn’t the time for decisions or solutions. It’s time to free yourself of the emotions raging through you.
2. Just BE
3. Awake to the breakthrough
It’s really that simple and really profound. Without the breakdown I wouldn’t have been able to show up for 100 of my clients, be totally be present and kick butt. I would have been trying to hide the anxiety and panic. Following this formula is a way of quieting ourselves to release the panic of it all. Then, and only then, can you faithfully strap your boots on and get back to the land of the living. If you aren’t allowed to hit your bottom, there is no rebirth and growth. We must be willing to “go into the dark” so you can come out richer on the other side.
I saw this quote today and it pretty much drives it home. “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.” At the end of the day, belief is the biggest piece of certainty. But there is no path to belief if you’re not willing to breakdown first.
If you are struggling with or hiding from any breakdowns you’ve been avoiding (firing, hiring, getting out of the muck of inconsistent business, referrals or cash flow) email firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary diagnostic to see where we may support you. Here’s to having your own personal breakdown. We look forward to navigating you through the process.
Champions of your continued success,
Molly and Laney
(by Laney Lyons)
Have you ever found yourself listening to a speaker and getting chills because its as if they were sitting smack dab in the middle of what’s going on in your life? But they are more articulate than you could possibly find the words to be, providing powerful insight on why we make certain decisions. That happened to me this morning. While getting ready for work, my husband and I were listening to a sermon* and I literally got chills as I heard him explain exactly why my husband was heading to work this morning to turn in his resignation at a job he has worked at for over 14 years, so we can move from our hometown of Tampa, Florida to Detroit…just in time for winter!
The theme of the message was “The Danger of Not Moving Forward”. When the speaker described how people who aren’t moving forward become stagnant, critical and bitter it resonated. Two years ago, while writing “Don’t be a Yes Chick!”, Molly and I wrote this:
Nurturing and growing your team is a never-ending process. And if it does end, you’re in trouble because it means that your team is no longer growing. That’s the beginning of stagnation. Like sitting water, your team doesn’t just stop growing and stay in place; they start to rot and eat away at all the standards, training, and culture that you’ve built. If a team isn’t motivated by growth, they’ll focus on other things that are negative and unproductive. A team that doesn’t have goals becomes wrought with gossip, cattiness, blame, and complaining; hence, your work as a team leader is never done. You can either devote time to leading your team, or spend time reprimanding them. The choice is yours. We don’t know about you, but we have very little patience for reprimanding.
This morning, I heard this message spoken to me with stunning clarity. The danger of not moving forward is that you become stagnant. And when you are stagnant you are not in the mindset to attract opportunity or to recognize possibility. Not moving forward doesn’t have to mean physically relocating, but it does absolutely mean being in a place and a mindset where you can grow. When you align yourself with your purpose, a commitment to happiness and a place you can grow-all wrapped up in your integrity-it’s amazing how doors begin to fly open. Paradoxically, they open when you were just getting “comfortable”.
Two and a half years ago I left my job of 12 years to start my own business. I began the process of creating relationships in my life that are meaningful, supportive, and healthy; which allow all parties a space to grow and flourish. Some relationships were reinvented and some didn’t make the transition. Every day since, I’ve been moving forward. Sometimes with excitement, sometimes with fear, but moving forward nonetheless. At 12:10am, January 1st I became engaged to a wonderful man who brings me joy and happiness. A month later I returned to Cambodia for a second time to volunteer with orphans and friends we met two years prior. A few months later the “Don’t be a Yes Chick!” book launched, after two years of hard, exhausting work. Two weeks after that I was married. In the meantime my company’s revenues before the end of the third quarter exceeded our total revenues of 2010 while we were training yet another team member to support our growth. And now, Anwar (my husband) receives a completely unexpected offer to become lead beat writer covering the Detroit Lions for MLive.com and The Booth newspapers. All of the above is a result of staying committed to moving forward in my life.
Chapter Nine, of “Don’t Be a Yes Chick!”, is ironically titled “Growing Chick”. The premise of the chapter is Why Becoming a Leader is So Important, which discusses how bosses and team leaders can provide the leadership their team needs to be able to grow and flourish. Sitting here just two years after writing that chapter, I have my own team in the Don’t Be a Yes Chick! Virtual Book Club because if these amazing things can happen to me once I committed to moving forward I have to continue to share the same possibilities with my team. And I understand the importance of my role as a leader is so critical, personally and professionally.
Why am I packing my bags, my dogs and my laptop and moving from sunny Florida to Detroit just in time for winter? Because I understand The Danger of Not Moving Forward and the endless possibilities that are waiting around the corner that I’ll never know if I’m not willing to make the move to turn the corner.
* The sermon I was listening to is “The Danger of Not Moving Forward” by T.D. Jakes.
Champions of your continued success,
Molly and Laney
The Business of Decisions
Making a decision and having to step into the “unknown” is always a scary, sometimes sad, time. At the same time it is a huge opportunity for the opening of new doors. We deal daily with team and entrepreneurs alike that are struggling with the “change” in their life and there is one thing we can promise you— burying your head in the sand and not confronting a decision IS a decision. Indifference is a decision and waiting for the ‘other person’ to make a move first is still a decision.
From two gals who’ve been through a lot of change, here are some insights on making decisions and the change that follows:
1. There is NO right answer to how to handle making a decision. Everyone will give you advice and suggestions but every person and every set of circumstances is different. So there is no “right” answer. All anyone can do is ask questions to help you find your own answers and give you things to think about. The power is in the questions your friends and advisors are asking you.
2. What works in one moment may not be the right answer for the next. Change is a process. One scenario you may need to approach the issue at hand with calm serenity. The next you may need to just lose your cool and have a breakdown. You are changing and growing through this process, so what you need in the moment will change as well. Don’t be too hard or rigid with yourself. There will be times you are disappointed in yourself and times you are very excited. Just roll with it and stick it out.
3. The process of major change can be a complete roller coaster. Just stay on the roller coaster until the end. You WILL make it through—the prize is in staying awake to the process.
4. Making a tough decision is NOT all bad. You begin to feel yourself awaken but it can be tiring because it’s emotional. Typically you can’t move forward as fast as you want to because of all the details to sort out in the process. Look forward to the good part of the process – the reconnecting with yourself and the VAST possibility and opportunity that opens up for you. Decisions come with emotions. Leaving a partnership, firing an employee, closing a business, leaving a lease you have been in for years that is no longer a good fit – all of these decisions would be a no brainer, but for the human/relational element. And most often the other party involved can very easily make you feel guilty during the process. Or the alternative, they kick it up a notch and rise to the occasion just when you were ready to pull the plug and make you question your decision. Don’t buy into it and anchor to the very reasons that brought you to a crossroads in the first place.
5. Go through The Decision Making Model ™ to clarify not only the pros and cons of a decision, put the emotion energy you are putting into the situation everyday that may be robbing you of productivity, energy, confidence, clarity and joy. Put pen to paper while it’s fresh. At any moment when you are confused or feeling bad for your decision, anchor back to this process and connect to it, and know you are doing the right thing.
6. Don’t confuse grieving over a loss and a dream you once had to being wrong for your choice. It’s not the same thing. The grieving and longing is a symptom of how committed you were and letting that commitment go is hard. Nothing more, nothing less.
7. If you change your mind it’s ok. You being happy and fulfilled is the goal – nothing else matters. And if you find yourself at a crossroads again on this issue, repeat Step # 5 until you can make a decision where this issue doesn’t continue to rear its confronting head.
8. Let your inner circle help you and support you. They want to – don’t try to be too strong. Even if you feel like you are repeating yourself – they understand. It’s a process.
9. The decision you are making today probably looks nothing like what it did when you entered into the relationship or situation. Typically every reason why you decided to make a change will be amplified during the process. Particularly if people are involved, once they no longer have a reason to vest into a relationship with you, they often are less attentive to communicating with you. Not always, but often.
10. Anchor to something BIGGER. The vision of something bigger in your life will give you the motivation to get out of bed and press on.
Most importantly – HOLD your HEAD UP HIGH– with pride. 85% of people are miserable in their current circumstances but too afraid to do anything about it. Whatever your decision, share it confidently and people will generally react positively. You set the tone. State the decision concisely and clearly – “I dissolved the partnership” or “we are closing the shop”. Don’t over explain. Have your one-line response for when people say “what happened” and leave it at that. The “story” really doesn’t matter and is more often than not saturated with blame and/or defeat. Be proud of your willingness to look at a situation that isn’t working, make a hard decision, take action and be excited about your future. People will always pursue someone who has a confident vision of the future.
The beauty of a making a decision is that either way you are confronting what isn’t working. Whether you end something, change something or re-commit to something confronting that is isn’t working is an absolute before you can have a clearing for a breakthrough.
If you would like a copy of The Decision Making Model™ email email@example.com.
In your corner,
Laney & Molly
Overwhelm is a state-of-mind and a way of being. It is NOT a set of circumstances. It is resistance to what is. It is NOT loving what is going on. The distinct difference of how to stop overwhelm is what you are willing to do about it and taking the responsibility for it.
Lingering in a state of overwhelm can
• Increase your risk of burnout
• Reduce productivity and effectiveness
• Add unnecessary stress on your team and staff
• Decrease your overall happiness and well-being
• Increase your work hours and
• Cloud focus, clarity, insight, and ability to make critical decisions
So how can you move from overwhelmed to overjoyed? It requires a little attention and a different mindset.
First recognizing that while you could try to do it all on your own, actually doing everything yourself is practically killing you. Step one is acknowledging all the assets that exist within your team and staff and then utilizing those assets to the fullest. That means you stop delegating your tasks, and start giving out ownership for assignments.
Second, you need to ensure that you have the right people in the right positions. Sure, your office manager knows how to handle just about every thing in the office, but it doesn’t mean she’s the right person to do it.
The next part is trust, training, and team. Working together as a team, and learning to trust and depend on one another for tasks – when the right person has the right assignment – it means the work will get done. And it won’t just get completed, it’ll be done right.
You see it all boils down to people. The people who support you, who are on your team, and who are there to help grow, sustain, and maintain the business for you – so you can work in the role you enjoy and do so well.
If you are curious as to HOW this can happen, it starts here. Molly Hall and Laney Lyons have been team members for business owners who were just like you.
Now, they are sharing all their dirt in how you can:
• Turn Your Key Team Member into a Consistent Star Player
• Create More Value for Your Business with Proactive Employees
• Generate More Profit with Increased Bottom-line Thinking
• Eliminate Time Wasters, Energy Vampires, and Other Destructive Time Thievery
In their book, Don’t Be a Yes Chick!, Molly and Laney teach your employees how to:
• Get Your Team to Love Their Jobs, Feel Respected, and Improve Productivity
• Understand What Your Boss Really Wants & Needs
• Do More of the Work You Love and Are Good At
• Build Your Dream Team of Talented and Proactive Team Members
This book isn’t just for YOU, the business owner to read, this book is for your TEAM to adapt, implement, and finally gain the courage and the skills to lead like you’ve always dreamed they would.
Move out of overwhelm and into overjoyed when you grab your copy of Don’t Be a Yes Chick today at http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Yes-Chick-Babysitting-Transform/dp/0615478956/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1308745801&sr=8-2
We can officially check the box called Christmas as “completed”. It is behind us and many of us had an ambitious goal of taking the last week of the year off and instead are sitting in the office starting to get that annual, panicky feeling. You can’t really explain it other than you’re feverishly trying to recover from the “Christmas hangover” - the credit card bills will be coming soon, the out of town family is heading back home and the house is feeling empty, your assistant is out this week and you don’t have a packed calendar with revenue generating activities. And in the midst of it all the glimmer of “the New Year” that is on the horizon… where things are going to be (have to be) better…right?
We get it. We’ve been there too. However, this is our 2nd year of taking a very different approach to the year-end wrap up and New Year resolutions. It has made a tremendous difference and we’d like to share it with you.
We like to end the year with “Year End Statements” that include a declaration of the Top 3 things we learned over the past 12 months. These will launch us into 2011 with intentional determination and discipline that is filled with passion, purpose and growth.
The Top 3 Things We Learned in 2010
1. We Created Pain. We each individually stepped out of our comfort zones (traps) and fully embraced “feel the fear and do it anyways”. We became much more focused and committed to the business. We made a conscious commitment to focus on staring that which fears each of us straight in the face. We each declared that if something challenged us, we would feel the fear and do it anyways. For Molly it was public speaking and sharing what she was “up to” with the world. She jumped in with both feet and joined Toastmasters, Speaking Circle programs, a weekend retreat at The Omega Institute, Journeywork processes, put her voice in print as a contributing author in “Speaking Your Truth: Courageous Stories from Inspiring Women”, and participated in a Winter Solstice Firewalk, just to name a few! For Laney it was learning to accept and receive relationships, personal and professional, where she is appreciated and celebrated, not merely needed, which can leave you tremendously vulnerable. Being “needed” is safe. We learned and will walk into 2011 with the ability to know that fear is just an emotion. The faster we take action, the less scary and stressful it is. The longer we wait and worry, the more we needlessly suffer. We only rob our own confidence. In 2011, we will continue to look fear in the face and move faster to take action.
2. We Quit. We quit subscribing the school of WSC – “woulda, shoulda and coulda”. In the past we’d receive a criticical email and be totally shut down and paralyzed with doubt about ourselves and the value we provide. In 2010, we stopped beating ourselves up. We stopped trying to retain clients who were not a good fit for us and focused on those who were. We know what our soulful client looks (and acts) like and we will not accept anything but that – it is a disservice to them and to ourselves. And… it feels GREAT because it allows us to lock arms with like-minded people and support them every fearful step of the way into the unknown void towards success. We learned and will walk into 2011 with confidence that we provide tremendous value to people who are in a place to receive our services. And for those who don’t, that’s ok – there are many paths to success. In 2011, we will learn from mistakes but not allow other people’s decisions to shake our confidence.
3. We Fired. We made the decision that we were going to invest in people ONLY if they showed an obscene amount of passion and integrity in everything they touched. Life is too short to not be passionate about what you do, the world you live in and the people in it with you. And we work too darn hard to not care tremendously about what we are doing. This started out in our personal worlds, first and foremost, and then carried into our professional worlds. We learned and will walk into 2011 with an absolute conviction to make a difference in this world. We are and will remain passionately committed to our purpose, despite the letdowns, disappointments and failures that get in the way. In 2011, we commit to continue the search for others who are passionately committed to their purpose, for together we can create tremendous momentum and change.
If you still feel like you need a “jump start” to moving forward in 2011, we recommend a book that we read together back in January 2010. “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyways” by Susan Jeffers. The concept of the book is “we’re all afraid of something: beginnings, endings, changing, getting stuck. But fear doesn’t have to hold you back from happiness or success. You can change your relationship with fear — and in this dynamic, inspirational program, Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., teaches compassionate concepts and highly effective exercises that help you unravel the complexities and reverse the effects of fear.” Most of our stress, worry, indecision and hesitation comes from some form of fear. Don’t let fear rob you of what’s waiting for you in 2011.
Year End Advisory Board
It’s HOURS before Christmas and about a week before a brand New Year. You’ve been running at 130 miles an hour since Thanksgiving for the proverbial year end sprint to get cash flow in and the piles of lingering “stuff” cleaned up. You still have a daunting “To Do” list, both business and personal. You’re feeling like your knee deep in the danger zone…days away from time off with family and friends and already have subscribed to the year-end advisory board (aka self talk) that goes something like this – “I’m thinking I should come into the office over the holiday ‘just for a bit’ to finish up some work while its quiet and nobody will bother me.”
DON’T DO IT! We know that you have committed to do what it takes to move your practice in the direction you want. You and your team have likely done a tremendous job so far, even though it may not feel like it to you because you are in the thick of it. We want to support you in creating the quality of life you desire. That being said, we respectfully petition that you absolutely take your time off over the holidays. While you have an unwavering commitment to creating the practice you know you are capable of, it is very probable that anyone speaking with you can hear in your voice that your energy is somewhat depleted. This is VERY natural as you balance the pressure to clear out cases and obligations while pushing your practice forward into new areas and new levels in preparation for the New Year. The only work that is a MUST prior to ringing in 2011 is taking a few days off, consecutively. At a mininimum, 3 solid days in a row. You will get more done when you return rested and rejuvenated than you will sacrificing your time off with family. We say this with the absolute and utmost respect and understanding of you. Molly and I hold each other accountable to taking time off as we too feel the pressure to “work more and clear the decks” which ironically rarely works. We promise you will come back with more energy and focus and be see more results. Just because you are taking time out of the office doesn’t mean your subconscious isn’t still working on figuring out things and planning. Often we have our best “ah ha’s” while out of the office or upon returning. Kind of funny how that works! Without the time off we GUARANTEE you will walk into the office on January 3rd feeling like Groundhog Day and “I shoulda” all over yourself!
We wish you a joyful, reflective, restful and rejuvenating holiday season full of connection and presence with your community of family and friends!
If you want to go FAR…
Mission statements, business plans, life statements, strategic plans, 5 year, 10 year, lifetime goals…it’s no wonder we are all living in a place of overwhelm and over commitment! Don’t get us wrong we are RAVING fans of goal setting and purposeful plans. HUGE fans of putting pen to paper and revisiting and reconnecting with what you want on a quarterly basis. Our lifetime mentor taught us about goal setting and without it we would not be where we are today or know where we want to be five years from now. It is imperative that we have all those things. But life smacks us all in the face every morning and our overwhelming “to do” lists suck the life out of us!
All the “buzz” these days is “less is more”. We’ve learned along the way unless something is quick and simple on a day to day basis, it will get trumped by everything else you’ve already committed yourself too. In our experience it is daunting to look at our 10 year goals day on a day to day basis and actually disempowers you more than it fills you up.
Don’t stop creating your future and mapping it out. But once you do that put those goals in a place where they are hidden and you can revisit them on a quarterly basis or when you are travelling or have time to sit and reflect. Schedule time in your calendar quarterly to “revisit long-term goals”. That’s it, not much more you have to do. It is amazing the power of writing them down and spending the initial time to plan them out. That process alone will be a very powerful experience.
So, now that we have a time and place set to revisit and adjust our long-term goals, let’s adopt a simple, fun process for moving forward with our short-term goals.
What you need
2. White Index Cards
3. A box or container to put on your desk or nightstand for “Filing” – make it something interesting or fun like a pretty vase or an old cigar box.
How to get started
The format is very simple. “FAR”—the written word (goals) everyday will take you FAR.
F= Focus. Be as specific as you can, be positive and write in the presence tense.
A= Accountability. Just by putting your written word on your desk where you can see it, noon hits and you are 99% more likely to get up and start moving.
R= Relevance. What is important? Your goals aren’t just about business. Make sure include family and personal goals too.
Step 1- Schedule in your calendar at the start of each day 5 minutes before you start “work” or “life” a hard wired appointment for “FAR”. Do this for the next 30 days.
Step 2- Take an index card and using only 1 side write your FAR goal. Leave it on your desk where you will see it all day.
Step 3- At the end of the day, file it in your box or vase. Molly has a beautiful tall vase on her desk where she just files these every afternoon before she leaves the office.
Step 4- Repeat the process the next morning and for the next 29 days. Trust the process.
Here are some examples (note the Focus, the Accountability and the Relevance of each):
9/7—“From 12-12:30 talk Finn (the dog) for a walk and recite out loud 5 things I am grateful for today”
9/8—“Surprise Aidan by picking him up from school today…just because”
9/9—“Take 3 deep cleansing breaths before my Toastmaster speech and speak from the heart with no notes”
9/10—“Register and pay for Parenting with Love and Logic class that I have been “meaning” to do for 2 years”
It is amazing how simple and fun the process really is. It easily sets the tone for your day and plants the seed of intentionality in your day with Focus, has some Accountability (staring you in the face all day) and has some Relevance (important things in your life).
That’s it…don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t get the goal completed by the end of your day. Just say, “Maybe tomorrow”. Or maybe not…maybe after you go through your day you see that it actually wasn’t something you were very committed to in the first place. It was just something you thought you “should” do. Either way, when you write it down every day it makes you ask yourself “how am I doing”, forces accountability and brings your current reality to the light of day.
The challenge is to try this process for 1 month (it takes 30 days to create a habit, right?) and you will be very surprised at the results you see! We would love to hear what came out of this for you, so feel free to share your results.
Champions of your continued success,
Molly and Laney
In part 1, we talked about how to find your humanity….your passion…your purpose… and anchor to it in times of change. Allow it to serve as your compass or North Star to help you in your decisions and keep you on your path, as change can be disorienting and distracting. Our need to be perfect and our need to control the outcome of every event work together to keep us petrified when we think about making change or attempting a new challenge, which does not serve your humanity or those you touch.
As promised, the second key. The second key to find focus in the midst of change is to surround yourself with people that see you for your humanity. It’s one thing to have people who love you and support you – it’s a totally different thing to have people who know your true purpose and recognize your passion, even when you don’t. These small groups of people really “get you”. They understand what you are trying to accomplish, your purpose in life, and they expect nothing less from you than to achieve it. This support system calls you forward to push towards your goals, even when the winds of change may throw obstacles and hardships in your way. You will on many days doubt yourself, but they never do. They listen to your frustrations and failures, but also provide you perspective so you can learn and fail forward. They refuse to let you talk yourself out of the future you can indeed achieve. And they refuse to allow you to needlessly obsess about why you can’t do “it”. They refuse to let you be a victim of circumstance and call you to rise up and be significant. Just as important, but often lacking, these people celebrate your victories with you, no matter how small or large. They make you stop and actually celebrate, as they know it is necessary for reflection and rejuvenation. They teach you celebration has no place for analyzing your failures or “shoulda’s” (i.e “I should have done this and I should have done that.” We all love to win and it’s all the more inspiring to have someone to share your wins with who can be excited for you, when there is nothing in it for them. They get the path you are on and how each accomplishment, big or small, is moving you forward and making a contribution in the world. In fact, having people encourage and push you to go that extra mile, will take you to the finish line. And the sneaky thing about this core group of people is that they are a built in accountability system. They will be the first to push back when you want to give up, the first to make you stop and reassess when you are off course and make certain you always keep your integrity and your word.
So if you can embrace these three Change Agent Rules, the rest has a funny way of sorting itself out.
1. Quality vs. Quantity. You don’t need a lot of people to serve in the role as your change agents. In fact, you probably won’t find that many people who are on the same path of change (transition and growth) as you. It traditionally is difficult to “find” the secret road to passion, purpose and living your truth. But it does exist. Once you accept and embrace your quest for humanity, you will arrive at the community. There are people up to bigger things themselves and they will be able to recognize it in you. Trust us, you don’t need to look for this support system – just soak it up when you arrive. And you no longer need to live your life by committee and have everyone person in your life on board. You know the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.
2. The source. When you come across people who see you as your purposeful life, don’t question the source. It ALWAYS comes from the most unexpected people in the most unexpected times. And typically from people you don’t know every well, yet. For example, when we started sharing our book manuscript with “safe” people (people we didn’t know us so if they hated it, it wouldn’t matter as much) the feedback we received was humbling. The first gal Molly met at a party happened to be a coach commented after one read, “The empowerment, compassion, wisdom and transformation you both stand for in a very hip edgy way is awe-inspiring.” She didn’t say you guys sound like efficient hard workers (though we would say that is true as well , she immediately honed in on the things that are most important to us and absolutely what we were thriving for – that serve a Primary Aim – providing guidance, equality (i.e. having integrity) and living a life with a sense of fun and gratification.
3. Your tribes. Once you start the change you seek in the work you might start to experience negative or conflicting advice from people who “knew you when”. Our tribes. You begin to realize that some of the major people in your life don’t seem to like the changes in you – even if the old you was a total train wreck! They have become accustomed to have a listening of you in a certain way, and when you no longer show up like that, they are confused and sometimes offended. If you share your passion, purpose and humanity with them, then your work is done. You are not responsible for how they receive it and how they interact with it or you. We encourage you to continually take a stand for you and it will all sort itself out. You just might be the pioneer they were seeking.
So, as change inevitably impacts us all – find your passion…that which speaks to your humanity. Then allow the people who recognize this in you to support you, share your struggles and more importantly, your victories. You will find yourself more focused and clear, even in times of turmoil. As a great mentor of ours taught us…. “Be the change you seek in your world.” – Gandhi.
Nurturing and growing your team is a never-ending process. And if it does end, you’re in trouble, because it means that your team is no longer growing. That’s the beginning of stagnation. Like sitting water, your team doesn’t just stop growing and stay in place; they start to rot and eat away at all the standards, training, and culture that you’ve built. If a team isn’t motivated by growth, they’ll focus on other things that are negative and unproductive. A team that doesn’t have goals becomes wrought with gossip, cattiness, blame, and complaining; hence, your work as your team’s leader is never done. You can either devote time to leading your team, or spend time reprimanding them. The choice is yours. We don’t know about you, but we have very little patience for reprimanding!
Why is being a leader so important?
To be blunt, team members who aren’t in a growth-oriented workplace with good leadership won’t be around for long. In that environment a good team will be unfulfilled and talented members will move on to other places that provide leadership and growth. The rest of the group will become infected with a spirit of gossip and negativity that has the potential to become so infectious throughout the office that you’ll end up firing those individuals. Look at it from a purely selfish perspective – after all the time you’ve spent hiring and training do you really want to start all over? Which do you think would be a better use of time – helping a great team member continually find ways to grow, or starting all over interviewing, hiring, firing, and training every quarter?
Why is it my job to lead the team?
Everyone isn’t a leader. If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you are a leader or well on your way to becoming one. The role is both a blessing and a curse. The curse is that you can’t stop being the leader that you are, even though there’ll be times in your career when you temporarily stop leading. Maybe you’ll be mentally exhausted, or in an atmosphere that doesn’t allow your leadership abilities to flourish; regardless, while you may choose to stop leading others for a period you can’t ever stop being a leader anymore than you can stop being a mom or dad, the glue for your family, or a community advocate.
Don’t curse your gift as a leader. Cursing your gift can show up as:
“Why does everyone come to me, I have enough on my plate?” or
“I’m tired of everyone leaning on me!” or
“Is it me, or is everyone else either an idiot or just doesn’t care?” (Boy, have I said those things in the workplace!)
You can’t run away from your talents and responsibilities as a leader, even if you try, it won’t fix your problem, or make you happier. There have been many times that we’ve all wanted to quit our jobs or shut down our practices in order to get an easy and “stress free” job where we could show up, do the work well, and go home. We long for a job where we wouldn’t have to solve other people’s problems, or take stress home, but, alas a leopard can’t change its spots. You would not be fulfilled in a job such as this. You can either embrace the leader who you are, or find yourself constantly feeling unfulfilled.
If you’re a true leader, you’re a beacon in the night. No matter your role, you will draw people to listen to you because you ask the tough questions; in other words, you’ll motivate and lead. Others will be drawn to your innate ability to provide calmness and direction in the storm. If you’re really honest with yourself, you probably aren’t happy when you’re not leading. We’re not saying that you have to be a 1-800 help line, or wake up at 2 A.M. stressing over things at work, but when leaders aren’t in a position to lead, they’re like a flower without sunlight. They’ll wilt, their colors will fade and their vitality that always shone brightly will waste away.
So, since you can’t rid yourself of this incessant need to lead, why not simply embrace it? Remember, it’s not only a curse, but a blessing, as well. Very few people have the gift to inspire others. You can. Look at the difference you make in other people’s lives. For example, take a single mother who you’re helping build a career. You aren’t just helping her; you’re making a difference in her children’s lives too. Few people can provide calmness and confidence in times of change or uncertainty. You can. Remember all the people who you’ve helped keep the faith and not lose direction. Few people have the ability to truly make a lasting, positive impression on other’s lives. You do. Your ability to lead is a blessing. It only becomes a curse when you can’t balance the dependency of others with your own needs.
In our next few blogs, we will share strategies to provide leadership for your team, in a leveraged, structured manner. This will allow you to produce results, while protecting your own time and focus. Be sure to sign up to receive our blog so you don’t miss the next installment.
To see if you are running your office, or if your office is running you, click here to take our free Assessment.
Our Seventh Day of Christmas suggestion is an easy and fun one. Too often, in the end of the year rush, we miss one of the most powerful opportunities to get the most energy, confidence and motivation from the things you did all year and let them fuel you into hitting the ground running in 2010. Trust us, give it 30 minutes and a cup of Joe and see what happens.
1. Pick a day – don’t schedule it or plan it, just pick an afternoon when the majority of your team is in the office and call an impromptu “Coffee Clutch”. (For those of you who don’t know what a Coffee Clutch is, it’s that impromptu gathering that occurs as people drink their coffee and linger for some social interaction and chit chat.) Now, ordinarily impromptu “meetings” and Coffee Clutches aren’t something we would necessarily recommend. However, use this natural tendency for socialization and a 3pm caffeine jolt to your advantage.
2. Call the team together. Grab some cookies, doughnuts, chocolates – something to snack on – and if you are lucky to have a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts within a block from you (like most of America) splurge on a latte for everyone. If not, have a fresh pot of coffee made. Now here is the trick – take control! Don’t let it become a 45 minute ordering process. Be a drill sergeant, get the order, send someone to pick up the order and tell everyone to be in your office in 10 minutes – no excuses!
3. When your team assembles, relax, enjoy your coffee and have each person share two things.
First, have each person share what they are excited about doing for the Holiday. This is a great opportunity to relate to each other and begin to build trust and team relationships by sharing what’s important to each other.
Second, have each person share what they are excited about professionally for 2010. What new skill are they learning, project are they tackling, etc. This allows your team to begin to respect each other professionally as they share what they want to accomplish in 2010 and step away from the long to-do list for a moment. The funny thing about sharing is once you say it, it starts to happen.
This seems simple and unnecessary, but it’s SO, SO powerful. All teams will face tough times, problems and disappointments. It’s your respect for each other and relationship with the team, as a whole, that will make people stick it out and see things through. This simple gathering can begin to build that team respect and team loyalty. Loyalty and commitment to the team, as a whole, is very different and much more powerful than loyalty and friendship between individual team members.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb
To your team’s continued success,
Molly and Laney