Conversations to engage, challenge and inspire

Do you keep promises you make to yourself?

Promise-QuoteIn Bill Phillips’ book Body for Life, he explains why keeping promises to ourselves is much more important than it appears on the surface.

Bill writes, “When you set an important goal you must promise yourself that you will finish what you start, no matter what. That vow, although it might be very easy to break, is by far one of the most important ones to honor. You see, the very essence of confidence is self-trust. Would you trust anyone who repeatedly lied to you? Someone who broke the rules of the game again and again? Of course you wouldn’t. So if you’ve developed a pattern of not honoring self-promises, this is a great time to make a change. If you can’t honor, trust, and depend on your own word, well… that may be the root of a lot of challenges in your life – a lot more than you realize.

The thing about lying to ourselves is that we never, ever get away with it. On the surface we may fool our minds into ignoring and not admitting what we’re doing, but deep down, in the place where all truth resides for each of us, in the place where we know and see ourselves as we really are – in that place, we are causing pain and damage every time we’re not totally honest with ourselves…

…It doesn’t have to be like that though. No matter how long it has been like that, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Contrary to what many people think, it’s a lot easier to keep the promises we make to ourselves than it is to break them.

Keeping these promises unleashes enormous energy and potential. That potential emptiness created by self-deception will become filled with strength, certainty – and yes, confidence – if you honor self-promises. (We’ve all heard the phrase “The truth shall set you free”. Well, nowhere is that more true than when we apply it to our relationship with ourselves.)”

So how can you take this knowledge and apply it to your business, career, health, finances and relationships? Are there promises that you are making and not keeping? How does that affect your energy, motivation and progress? How does it make you feel about yourself?

So what can you do to make this shift? How about starting small? How about setting daily goals and sticking with them? How about making the commitment to establish a business plan with activity goals and financial goals so you know where you are headed?   How about giving yourself permission to fail? How about agreeing to measure and adjust along the way so you know you are not “stuck” with a plan that is not ideal? What else can you do?

The significance of keeping promises to ourselves is profound. Examine your own habits to see if in fact you break the promises you make to yourself. And if so, make the shift to putting your promises at the top of your commitment list.

“Who Am I?” – a self-discovery activity

Who am IAs you navigate life’s ups and downs there can come a time when you find that you have lost touch with yourself. Questions about who you are, what your purpose in life is or what your passion is can start to dominate your thinking.

This can go on for a long time without resolving. So to shortcut that long winded process, you need a guided model to help you unravel your thoughts so you can quickly discover the answers that exist inside you. To help you do this, below is an exercise to get you started.

Instructions:

  1. Find a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed for 45 minutes to an hour (or longer)
  1. Arm yourself with paper and pen or your favourite journal

(Tip: It is best to write on paper rather than type on your computer because the physical act of writing allows you to process what exits in your subconscious)

  1. Take 3 deep breaths to slow your thoughts down
  1. Start completing the statements that follow

(Tip: Write whatever comes to mind without censoring your thinking)

  1. Once you have completed the exercise, read over your answers and notice any patterns and insights that emerge – you should get some interesting self-understanding

Note: some people prefer to be guided through this process. If you are one of those, or would like to go deeper through this process contact me at nancy@thirveatwork.com.au for a personalized self-discovery session. As an output of this session you will receive a detailed report that you can refer back to and digest at your leisure.

Ready to start? Here are the self discover statements for you to complete:

  1. I am…
  2. I am at my best when…
  3. The best thing that could happen to me is…
  4. People notice that…
  5. When I am proud of myself, I…
  6. I am very happy that…
  7. I get lost in time when…
  8. I look forward to…
  9. I am passionate about…
  10. I am good at…
  11. I wish others knew…
  12. I am happiest when…
  13. I am proud that…
  14. I would like to…
  15. Five adjectives that describe me are…
  16. The three things I have enjoyed about this exercise are

Avoid these 3 mistakes on your resume PROFILE section

Resume3Writing a winning resume is a daunting task for most people. Making it even harder is the fact that we tend to update our resumes when we’re feeling the pressure of needing to make a career change or are embarking on the job search journey. These moments tend to be full of pressure and quite stressful for most of us. The result can often be less than impressive.        

In these circumstances, there are 3 mistakes you are wired to make:

  1. You blurt out everything

You know your career progression and accomplishments intimately and include as much as you can in the profile section. When you blurt everything out your profile sounds generic – a jack-of-all trades with nothing to focus attention on. You fail to sift out the crucial aspects that will get the reader’s head nodding. Because you fail to stand out you wonder why you don’t get any interviews.

What to do instead: Follow the “less is more” principle. Decide on the 2-3 aspects of your expertise and accomplishments that you want to focus on and write about those succinctly.

  1. You hesitate to sell yourself

For most of us, talking about people we admire is easy, yet talking about our own accomplishments can be challenging. This is because we don’t want to brag or appear boastful or arrogant. However, mastering the art of the “subtle brag” could be the key to writing a great profile section.

What to do instead: Pretend that your greatest advocate is introducing you to someone they respect. Write the 2-3 top things they would say to showcase your expertise and accomplishments. Be very complimentary.

  1. You write “filler”

This is a common mistake, where you get drawn to include things like “excellent communicator, team player, great at time management”. Whereas these are recognized requirements, they don’t deliver a differentiated profile because they don’t really say much about what makes you special. They are claims that everyone can make.

What to do instead: Use key words that your industry understands and that show that you have the depth of experience the reader is looking for. This will ensure that your resume gets to the “Yes” pile.

Try these tips the next time you’re updating your profile section or pass them onto someone who needs to know them.

As always, if you need help, you can reach me at nancy@thriveatwork.com.au

5 tips to develop an ACTION MINDSET and beat procrastination

Action mindsetAccording to David J Schwartz author of “The Magic of Thinking Big” average or mediocre people are passive. They do not take action and postpone doing things until it is too late. They debate themselves out of doing things, find a good reason to put things off or wait until everything is 100% perfect before taking action – they procrastinate.

Successful people take the right action at the right time leading to greater results. They are proactive, get things done and follow through on ideas and plans.

A key success ingredient is the ability to take action. By taking action one gains confidence in one-self and a feeling of self-reliance in the ability to get things done.

Here are 5 tips to develop an action mindset that will enable you to slay the procrastination dragon every time he rears his ugly head.

#1 – Anticipate obstacles and challenges. Risks and uncertainties are everywhere. You cannot foretell them but you can certainly equip yourself to handle them. Have a back up plan for when things go wrong.

#2 – Meet challenges as they arise. Do not run away from the challenges that come your way. Instead face challenges knowing that you’re capable of handing them and that you have a back up plan.

#3 – Use action to cure fear and gain confidence. Try things out and fail fast. Any failure is an opportunity to learn what needs adjusting or replacing. Action feeds and strengthens confidence while inaction feeds fear.

#4 – Use the mechanical way. Don’t deliberate on the merits or demerits of getting something done. Just do it and get moving on it. You can course correct as you learn from the results your actions produce.

#5 – Think “NOW”. Banish tomorrow, next week and later. Once you decide to do something, start it. Get used to saying “I am starting right now”. Be a crusader for your goal, pick up the ball and run. Just go!

 

“An only fair idea acted upon and developed is 100 per cent better than a terrific idea that dies because it isn’t followed up” – David J Schwartz

Executive Presence – the WHAT and HOW

Exec Presence picThe first time I heard the phrase “Executive Presence” many years ago I dismissed it thinking that it did not apply to me given that I was a team leader and not an Executive at work.

Then over the following couple of years I encountered the phrase a number of times. My manager and a number of key stakeholders I worked with commented that my work was exemplary and that I needed to “raise my profile” so as to “become more visible”. I wanted to run for the hills when I heard this.

All I could think of was why would I want to become more visible. Who wants to be in the spotlight? I was comfortable with where I was and did not want to attract undue attention to myself like those smug colleagues who suck up to the boss. I believed that my outstanding work should speak for me.   I thought that I would be promoted and given more opportunities based on my results.

Then I got passed over for a promotion – I was mad! I was livid!

My boss explained that many of the leaders did not know who I was and could not put a face to my name when my nomination came up for discussion. Not one senior leader was able to back my manager’s nomination. Why? Turns out it was because I was not “visible” and that the solution was for me to “raise my profile”. Those words again!

I was fired up. I needed to know what this “raising your profile” was all about and how I can get it quickly. I learnt that what I needed was Executive Presence, so I dug in and did my homework.

Here is what I discovered and share with others.

In plain and simple language, Executive Presence is about exhibiting mastery in 3 key areas:

  1. Gravitas or Presence – how you present yourself, including your posture and gestures. Gravitas is born of confidence and confidence is born of achievement. So remind yourself of what you’ve already achieved in the past that gives you the right to be where you are right now. This exercise will amplify your self-worth and help you present yourself with confidence. To have Presence you must believe in yourself so others can be drawn to believe in you too. Learn to be present in the moment so you can have the mental flexibility to handle the unexpected question or comment with confidence.
  1. Appearance – how you dress and the impression you make on others is important so don’t fight me on this one. Decide what “dress style” you want to own and make that your signature look. Remember to observe those around you and pick up clues as to the culture of the workplace you are in so you can match it, but with an infusion of your own personality. Also, it pays to dress for who you want to become, the role you’re seeking, and not the role you currently have.
  1. Communication – how you get your message across, including vocal command, persuasion and influence. Speak up and make sure you get heard. Listen to the buzzwords at work and make sure you understand them and can use them. Master how to speak with intent and practice authentic listening. Listen to podcasts in your field and master the appropriate communication style. Most important of all is to have conversations with a variety of people, listen, observe and learn.

Mastery of these 3 areas will enable you to be more memorable (raise your profile) and therefore stand out from the crowd (be visible). You will be seen as “leadership material” and given opportunities that are only available to a select few.

By proactively managing your presence you will be able to direct others’ perception of you and your potential. Ultimately this will increase your chances of landing promotions and key assignments.

Over to you…

As always, let me know if you need help with your Executive Presence. Contact me at nancy@thriveatwork.com.au

Don’t make New Year resolutions, set GOALS instead

Resolutions and GoalsNew Year Resolutions don’t work FULL STOP.

Correction – they may work for a while as you bask in the euphoria of having something to look forward to. However, 9 times out of 10, by mid to late February that New Year resolution has lost its puff having been replaced by the busyness of life.

Yet every year you still make those resolutions. Every year you promise yourself that you will start this thing or stop that other thing, you will do this or not do that, and on it goes. Come the end of the year, you reflect back and realize that you have to make the same resolutions you made last year because nothing has changed.

Enough already! It’s time to do things differently. Starting today you are going to stop making resolutions and start setting goals instead. Here is how:

Step 1 – Start with the end in mind. Clearly imagine what you want to achieve by the end of the year. What is your big dream for the year in each area of your life – health, finances, career, relationships, family, education and community? These are what you want to HAVE by the end of the year.

Then write your goals imagining that it is the end of the year and you are reviewing what you have achieved.

For example, a weight loss goal may go something like this…

”It is now 31st December 2016 and my health is great. I have lost 10 kilograms and now have a BMI of 19. I consistently exercise 5 times a week, drink 8 glasses of water daily and have 2 check-ins with my personal trainer/coach every week.”

Do this for each critical area of your life. Make sure you have at least one goal for each area. Remember to make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound).

Step 2 – Now that you know what you want to HAVE, you need to determine who you need to BE to achieve these goals. Ask yourself what Qualities, Skills and Habits a person needs to have to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.

It might be something like…I need to be someone who:

  • knows the caloric content of different foods
  • wakes up early each morning to exercise
  • watches only 1 hour of TV to free up time to learn something new
  • builds relationships with leaders in their field
  • embraces uncertainty

As you figure out what your specific ones are, make sure they are aligned to your goals. These become the resources you will require to help you achieve your goals and will be handy in the next step.

Step 3 – List the things you will DO to achieve your goals. For each of your goals list the step-by-step daily, weekly or monthly process to achieve them. You can categorise them as START, MAINTAIN and STOP activities. Or you may prefer a sequential list of activities to get you to your goal.

Step 4 – Schedule your goals into the 4 quarters of the year. You should have some goals to be completed in Q1, others in Q2, another set in Q3 and a few in Q4. Set a specific completion date for each goal and schedule the dates in your diary. This will keep you focused and accountable.

Do these 4 steps and review your progress at the end of every week, month and quarter.

You will be surprised by what you can achieve in one year, what you will learn in the process and the confidence you will have in your ability to achieve any desired outcome.

This method sure beats having to make the same resolution year after year. So go ahead and just do it. You can always contact me if you need help – nancy@thriveatwork.com.au

VALUES are the key to surviving the ups and downs of life

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How good would it be if you had the skill to face every challenge that life throws at you with steadiness? By this I mean being able to face your challenges without resorting to the extra glass of wine or bar of chocolate to drown your sorrows or cover up what you’re truly feeling. What would you give to be able to feel the discomfort and instead of going into victim mode, exhibit resilience?

Data from the Resilience Institute www.resiliencei.com shows that women in mostly leadership, professional or management roles score significantly worse than men on individual factors of resilience such as Depression, Self doubt, Confusion, Distress symptoms and Comfort eating.

  • How do you maintain a healthy level of stress while being bombarded with constant change at work and the ever-increasing demands at home?
  • How do you gain the ability to maintain a healthy level of physical and mental wellness in the face of adversity?
  • How do you maintain a stable emotional state and positive mindset to enable you to rationally deal with the challenges you face?

VALUES

Values are critical to helping you deal with the upheavals of life and the unexpected traumas you may face. So be clear on what is important to you and know your priorities. Make sure you also know what you would be willing to sacrifice and what is non-negotiable.

Having a clear understanding of your values is important because values act as a rudder, guiding the ship called YOU in whichever storm you may be navigating. Clarity about your values also makes you a better decision maker.

The following exercise will help you clarify your values, so find a quiet place, arm yourself with something to write on and answer the following questions

  1. I love…
  2. I care about…
  3. What matters most to me is…
  4. If I could only rescue one thing from a burning house after my family it would be…
  5. I spend my spare cash on…
  6. I spend my spare time on…
  7. My friends say I care most about…

Now examine your responses. What patterns do you see?

List your values and live by them.

Stop apologizing

The word “sorry” serves a purpose…to express remorse for a mistake.

If you use “sorry” in the following ways, you may want to reconsider your choice of words:

   – Sorry to disturb you…

    – I’m sorry, but…

    – I’m sorry to bring this up…

You’ve got to ask yourself what you’re apologising for.  Consider replacing these minimising sentence starters with:

    – Do you have a minute to…(when asking for someone’s attention)

    – I’d like to confirm my understanding… (when clarifying a message)

    – It’s important to discuss this…(to focus attention on something difficult)

When tempted to start a sentence with “Sorry but I…”(e.g. Sorry, but I want to clarify what you just said), remove the “sorry” and the “but” then proceed with the rest i.e. “I’d like to clarify what you just said…”

If you do this one thing, your communication will become much more impactful.

The impact of self-criticism on your credibility

A senior leader walks into a meeting of peers, external consultants and colleagues who look up to her as their leader for a strategic project. She proceeds to explain in detail how much of a scatterbrain she was having forgotten not one, but two, mobile phones in her hotel room interstate.  To compound this, she laments that she did not have her work note book or a pen for this meeting!

She then continues to explain, in detail, how these items will eventually get back to her via a colleague who may interrupt the meeting when he calls to let her know when he will be getting into town. To cap it off she remarks that at least she is good for one thing – she remembered her office pass! This takes up about ten minutes of the allocated meeting time.

The team lets off polite grunts in an attempt to see the amusement in what she is describing.

Unbeknownst to her was the fact that she was doing a great job at getting everyone in the room to doubt her ability to lead a team of highly organised and experienced experts. This was not a good way to start a project and she had to work really hard to convince the team of her credibility – something she could have avoided if she had made a good first impression as a leader.

The Lesson:

Do not tell self-deprecating stories that diminish your credibility. There will always be people waiting for you to slip up to take a shot at questioning your credibility – do not open the door for them.  First impressions and the associated perceptions created during that first interaction really do matter.