Are You Selling Yourself Short?

 

The story of the human race is the story of people selling themselves short. People have a tendency to settle for far less from life than they are truly capable of.

Many people are spinning their wheels in careers

where they should be moving rapidly onward and upward.

Abraham Maslow

 

In addition to my communication skills coaching and teaching here in Los Angeles, I officiate non-denominational wedding ceremonies (check out my bio for this part of my story). I belong to several national wedding associations, including one named WIPA.

 

At a recent networking event, I looked around the ballroom at my fellow wedding vendors and realized what a lucky guy I am – because in this sphere of my life I get to work with some of the most deep-down good people you will find anywhere. While the wedding industry is not all fairy tale dreams, it is an arena that attracts some remarkable people.

 

In reflecting on what allows my colleagues to shine, it occurred to me that wedding professionals work from a place of heightened awareness of the client. Because it is a people-centric industry, the world of weddings is demanding and challenging, but so much of it is creative and innovative.

 

The folks I admire take pride in their “brand” and relish being part of a larger endeavor.  They respect their colleagues’ brands and admire each other’s handiwork and skill wanting to know, “how did you get to be so good at what you do?”

 

A wedding pro knows that without the satisfaction of the couple their work means nothing. And this truth guides them in the joy they take in their work.

 

Critics of weddings say that it’s all a whole lot of nonsense for just one day. I think a real wedding pro knows that it’s a whole lot of something for the purpose of celebrating life.

 

While I enjoy officiating weddings for many reasons, the chief reason is that I’m part of something bigger than me – something that is life-affirming.

 

That is also the reason why I love being a communication skills coach and trainer.

I help people “find their voice” – and what could be more life-affirming?

 

I think that at some point you need to look around where you work and ask:

 Am I happy sharing my energy with these people?

 

What’s more, I think eventually each of us has to answer this question:

Why do I do what I do?

 

If you’re unhappy in your work, then I’ll tack on the follow-up question:

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?

 

And, hey, I’ll tack on this follow-up to the above follow-up:

Why aren’t you doing it?

 

I know you need a job.

Each of us, though, needs something else – we need “meaning.” 

 

Mark Twain said ~

The two most important days in your life are

the day you are born and the day you find out why.

 

Let that sink in – and let me leave you with two final questions ~

Have you found out YOUR “why?”

What are the sources of meaning in your life?

 

Want help discovering YOUR “Why?”

Have you been thinking about Life-Skills Coaching?

Let’s explore how I can help you gain massive traction on your goals!

 

[email protected]

818-415-8115

How To Train People To Treat You With Respect

Clare’s the owner of a sportswear design firm (names changed). In her late twenties, she’s bright, driven, has accomplished much and yet she doubts herself. That’s why she hired Madge as her assistant. Madge has been in the biz for almost thirty years and knows all the players.

 

As it turns out, Madge sees Clare as inexperienced and privileged (she told her so to her face). Madge jabs at Clare’s insecurities with surgical precision.

 

Clare believes she can’t run the business without this woman’s know-how and is afraid to upset Madge – what if she quits?

 

Whenever Clare has tried to speak with Madge so as to make needed adjustments in their relationship, Madge inevitably breaks down and cries. Clare panics and caves in.

 

Knowingly and unknowingly, we give people permission to treat us in certain ways.  Over time those ways become a routine. If we don’t like the way a person is treating us, then it’s our responsibility to “re-train” them. 

 

Although Madge is in her fifties, she reminds me of my niece Gracie when she was four years old.  I adore Gracie – she’s bright, beautiful and what I call a “phony-baloney.”

 

At four, Gracie knew how to flash that cute smile of hers so as to get what she wanted. On one visit, her mother had an emergency and asked if I could watch Gracie.

 

As soon as her mom left, Gracie asked me for ice cream. Usually I was a sucker for this kind of request, but her mother had given me strict orders – no sweets! And so I said “no.”

 

Gracie pleaded until she finally burst into tears that looked a tad “rehearsed!”  The girl wouldn’t stop, blackmailing me with, “if you loved me. . .”

 

Her crying was killing me.

 

And so, I lifted her up, carried her out to the deck and gently put her down. With a big smile and gentle tone, I said, “Gracie, I love you, but your crying is driving me bonkers. So, I’m going to let you cry out here and when you’re done, just come back inside. Okay?”

 

She looked at me like I was nuts!

 

I went back into the house and within moments, Gracie ran inside.  She was laughing and wanted to watch a video. Not a peep about ice cream.

 

What happened?

 

I did something she wasn’t expecting and hadn’t prepared for.

I changed the dance step. I retrained her.

 

Clare needed to treat Madge like a four-year old. I urged Clare to say something along these lines when Madge next cried: “Madge, clearly you’re upset. I know you want what’s best for the company and me as I do for you. This conversation is important to both of us, so why don’t you take some time to compose yourself and we can talk later.”

 

When Clare tried out this new script, Madge resisted as the tears kept pouring.  Clare repeated the script three times before Madge stopped crying. She became Gracie! Later that same day they had a conversation without the special effects of tears.

 

Is everything “fine” with Clare and Madge?  No. However, they’re now having conversations that they didn’t have before. Madge is learning that her old ploys no longer work.

 

We train people how to treat us.

Is there someone in your life who needs retraining?

 

I help people find their voice, showing professionals how to communicate in smart, healthy ways so as to develop successful relationships. 

To explore how I can help you find the strategy

that will let you present you with enhanced confidence,

please contact me at: 

[email protected]

10 Ways to Be Resilient at Work

Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our solves are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will be at least a little bit different for our having passed through it.

Harold Kushner

 

People come to me in pain. Often the pain is from not claiming a sense of meaning for their life because they are blinded or crippled with fear. Fear of change. Fear of failure. Fear of success.

They also come out of fear that the recent curve ball offered at work will so deform them that they will not recover. They are afraid of becoming useless and of dying from being useless.

Heavy. I know!

Recently I met with Adam (names changed) who was let go from work over two years ago. He’s extremely bright in a field that is analytically demanding – and relationship based. He also happens to be sixty years old.

As he told the story of his undoing, it appears he came up against a toxic boss and he had no game plan for protecting himself. He’s filed a lawsuit and has been laser-focused in seeking work. Yet, he’s still unemployed.

Adam feels angry, disillusioned, scared and outraged. In the words of the classic Network’s Howard Beale, he’s “mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

The one thing he’s not, though, is – resilient. Determined, yes. But being resilient is different from being determined.

While he is resolute in finding a job, he is struggling to be resilient, i.e. to be “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.” (Oxford Dictionary)

Being resilient is about being able to recover. But to recover what?

To recover the sure sense of who you are and who you want to be.

Adam shared that enjoys creating systems that help people in the health care field. Impressive – genuinely. And now that he’s not able to create systems, he doesn’t know who he is.

He’s fighting to find a place where he can return to being a solutions guy. Because he’s afraid he’ll never work again, he’s gripping his resume all the while forgetting the story of who he has become at this juncture in his life.

Pain.

Adam came to me in pain and while he wants me to help him work through the pain in our last session he accused me of not knowing how hard his life is. And he’s right –  I don’t. I only know what was hard for me at a time in my life when I didn’t know what it was to be resilient.

 

In the early years of my life I had been a Jesuit priest. It was a deeply rewarding life but my own theology became more liberal than the Church’s and it became increasingly harder to reconcile the differences.

 

When I resigned ministry, I moved into my first apartment with a mattress and a few boxes of books – and no job prospects. Being a priest had been my “job” and after leaving I thought there was no “me” outside of me being priest.

 

I resigned ministry so as to go in search of who I wanted to be (not who others wanted me to be) – and I was overwhelmed. I felt numb. Soon I was scrambling to figure out what to do. I paid little thought to who I wanted to be.

 

I was way more determined than I was resilient – and so I needlessly complicated my life.

 

Adam reminds me of that me. . .

 

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.

Joseph Campbell

 

Resiliency = strength grounded in confidence that allows you to proceed graciously, assertively while being true to who you are and who you want to be.

 

You cannot be resilient if you do not know who you want to be. Knowing your “who” let’s you choose your “how.”

 

To be resilient let’s you answer the question:

 What about this situation challenges me to be who I want to be?

And that is a qualitatively different question from:

What do I want to do?

 

Here’s what I now know ~

How To Be Resilient At Work

 

  1. Know who you want to be and be willing to do what is necessary to be who you want to be. Once you know who you want to be you will behave in a certain way.

 

  1. Do not hand power over you to those who do not have the right to power over you.

 

  1. Take care of your self – physically, emotionally, spiritually – so you avoid becoming a martyr.

 

  1. Give yourself the time to absorb any shock and then steady yourself with the words, “I’ll handle it.”

 

  1. No mistake defines you – no crisis derails you – as long as you are committed to being the hero of your own life.

 

  1. Reject being held captive by self-destructive thoughts including, and most especially, the thought, “I’m a fraud.”

 

  1. Have a life outside work that is populated with people who love and enjoy you.

 

  1. Create a strong professional network that you nurture and are nurtured by.

 

  1. Never allow yourself to be defined by your job, title or salary.

 

  1. Embrace that you can’t grow if you don’t know what you did wrong AND you can’t grow from what you did wrong until you know what you did right.

 

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.

That will be the beginning.
               

Louis L’Amour

 

I help people find their voice, showing professionals how to communicate in smart, healthy ways so as to develop successful relationships. 

To explore how I can help you find the strategy

that will let you present you with enhanced confidence,

please contact me at: 

[email protected]

 

How to Overcome Fear Grounded In Lies!

 

Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.

Dostoevsky

 

I’m afraid of heights and especially hate roller coasters. So, of course, what did my godson Finn want for his birthday? He wanted me to take him to Magic Mountain! Last week I made good on my promise.

I told Finn he could pick the rides we went on. When I got strapped into a ride I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I was determined to keep my fear in check, but when the ride rocketed, I just screamed my head off.

After each ride I felt like vomiting, yet I also felt satisfied. I hadn’t let fear win out.  More than roller-coasters, I hate being afraid.  I don’t want to be controlled by fear.

This summer I taught a course at UCLA Extension on “breaking through” the fear of public speaking. Of all the communication skills I teach, public speaking is my favorite.

I think it’s because I was painfully shy in high school.

I headed off to college determined to vanquish my shyness. Intuitively, I knew my shyness went deeper than not wanting to speak. It was about my fear of people.  I didn’t think people would like me, that they’d find me boring and judge me.

I joined the college’s radio station and landed my own interview show. Quickly, I learned how to talk to people. It was simple – all I had to do was show them that I was interested in what they had to say! And in turn, they showed an interest in me.

My skill and my confidence soared.

While I’ve not discovered a “secret” formula for overcoming fear, what I have learned is that fear is fueled by clinging to a lie – a lie that seems so true that to deny it seems to be a lie in itself.

I see this in many of my communication coaching clients.

Kathryn, who is from Hungary, was one of the students in this summer’s Extension class. She sat cross-armed, scowling through the first half of the course. Eventually, her arms opened and she smiled.

For her first presentation, she told an odd story that had the class laughing. Yes, she was obviously nervous, but that energy didn’t derail her tale. The class gave her honest, encouraging feedback. Her accent didn’t distract them; her nerves didn’t distract them. She surprised them and they wanted more from her.

When I asked if she believed the feedback, she said she didn’t because she knew the presentation wasn’t very good and that she’s not a good speaker. She smiled saying this!

She clutched this lie because she was too comfortable believing it.

How can a person stop believing a crippling lie?

Here’s some of what I wrote in an email to Kathryn.

We only grow by building on our strengths. 

In order to build on those strengths, we have to know what they are AND we have to know why we have those strengths. 

If we don’t understand what we’re good at, then we can’t grow. 

Oftentimes people resist taking a hard look at their strengths because it’s more comfortable believing that we suck at something. Being helpless can be consoling in an odd sort of way. 

I think, Kathryn, you’re so used to beating up on yourself that it just seems ‘natural.’ I think you have a hard time accepting compliments because you don’t see much point in dwelling on what you do well. 

Well, no one ever becomes great at something by focusing solely and intently on mistakes. It doesn’t work that way.

You gave a presentation, without being glued to notes, in a way that connected with an international audience. You made people laugh. That’s a significant accomplishment. 

If you choose to downplay the importance of what you did, then you’re sabotaging yourself.

You need to understand what you do well, what you don’t, and why. I think you only want to understand what doesn’t work and you want to ignore what does work.

You have to believe you’re worthy of people’s attention.  If you don’t believe you have anything worthwhile to say then that will come across and people will tune you out.

 

It’s really up to you: are you going to own your strengths and work on your weaknesses OR are you going to continue to dismiss any progress you’ve made and focus solely on your belief that you will always be a lousy speaker? 

 

Only you, Kathryn, can choose your attitude!”

 

Kathryn is not an isolated case of someone refusing to acknowledge progress towards a goal. Odd as it sounds, it takes courage to recognize growth.

 

True confidence means owning one’s strengths and acknowledging one’s weaknesses – and using both to reach a goal.

 

What about you – what comfortable lie are you clinging to?!

 

Do you want to break through the lies that are preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

 

A Labor Day Challenge – to Get You through the New Year and Beyond!

 

Last week I popped into Gelson’s Supermarket to pick-up a loaf of bread. Walking by the bakery section, I spotted a bag of dinner rolls and also grabbed those. The check-out clerk rang up the bread and rolls and then asked me, “For here or to go?”  Huh?  Confused, I said, “To go – don’t think I can eat all this bread in one sitting!”  He smilingly assured me, “The register prompted me to ask – I wouldn’t have on my own.  I’m not that crazy!”  Really?  Given that he “obeyed” the register when prompted to check if I was going to stay and eat a loaf of bread and six dinner rolls does make me wonder if he isn’t a teensy bit crazy!

 

Next day, I met with a group of managers at Pine Hill Industries (names changed) who were frustrated with inter-departmental communication. At one point, a manager who’s been with the company twenty years, smiled and said, “Hey, it’s the ‘Pine Hill Way’ and there’s nothing we can do.”  Really?  You can’t develop effective methods?

 

As Thoreau said – and as I remind my communication coaching clients:

“There is nothing so rare as an act of your own.”

 

Several years ago my friend Sue threw a Labor Day party for folks she hadn’t seen in a while. With drinks flowing, Ella, one of the guests, mentioned she recently did something she’d wanted to do for a long time and hadn’t allowed herself to do – she started playing guitar again.  And she loved it!

 

Soon, each of us was confessing to what we had wanted to do for a long time and had simply not gotten around to it.

 

That’s when we challenged each other – before the year was out to commit to doing something we’ve put off doing for way too long.

 

I dubbed this the “Go Big!  Go Bold! Challenge” – and you didn’t have to have a bucket of cold water dumped on you!

 

A study at the Wharton School of Business found that people are more likely to pursue a goal after a major holiday (for reasons too abstruse to explain here). Based on Sue’s party, I think Wharton is right, so why not use this Labor Day to create your own “Go Big! Go Bold!” Challenge?

 

Get together with friends, family and/or colleagues and confess – what have you wanted to do for way too long and have been putting off? 

 

In your own life, in your relationship with your “tootsie-wootsie” or even with your team, or department?

Define your own life.

As my coaching clients come to realize – for as long as you leave your life in the hands of other people (or cash registers or company mottos), you’ll never truly live your own life.

 

Have a dinner roll and dare yourself:  Go Big!  Go Bold!