Thrive! What’s your plan?

I was recently having a conversation with someone close to me about how they were living each day and really struggling to get through it. Yes, they were admittedly depressed. They also felt as if they were stuck in a vicious cycle they could not get out of. The cycle consisted of working, going to sleep, repeat.

During the course of each day, they referenced that it took every ounce of energy they had to just do the bare minimum of what they had to do in their job. They didn’t feel as if they had time to do anything during the course of the day that they even slightly enjoyed doing. This made matters worse. Could this possibly be a time management challenge? Absolutely, and they would admit to this, but they still felt unable to break their vicious cycle, no matter how desperately they wanted to do so.

One of the things which came up during our conversation was the need to figure out what they could do during the day to refuel their energy battery. In other words, to do something which would provide them with additional energy to help them to break out of their situation of feeling like they were only existing day to day.

Hearing and seeing this person struggling was gut wrenching for me, yet as an optimist, I felt I still could do something to help them out of their situation. I just needed to be creative and have them be willing to try to do something different. Perhaps a bit radical to them. The next thing I needed to do was to get them to agree to doing something different. Then I asked them to commit to giving it everything they had in them to go from existing to thriving. Even if they were starting from a disadvantaged place of doing so.

If you are not familiar with having depression or anxiety, one of the things about it is that it consumes most of your energy, and makes you feel exhausted. Exhausted to the point of potentially not being able to accomplish anything but sleep. Fortunately, this person was not at this level, but I felt they were close to it.

When you are interacting with someone who isn’t thriving, they are typically frustrated and overwhelmed by what is happening in their life and at work. Of course, no one wants to feel this way. However, the challenge most people have is that they are often not equipped with methods to help them when they find themselves in this situation. Being able to recognize when someone is in this situation is critical, and it doesn’t take a professional to evaluate this. Having empathy and common sense will be enough skills to recognize someone is in a difficult situation.

I am not a trained mental health care professional, but my life and professional expertise in working with people over the last 25 years to bring the best out of them is both an honor and privilege.  I’ve written about how coaching is not therapy , and in fact, would suggest that people who are struggling with feeling like they are not thriving, and are simply existing could benefit from having both a therapist and a coach. In fact, I believe firmly that everyone should have a coach. I have three to four people in my life at any point in time who play the role of my coach. Some might refer to them as mentors, and in some instances the role definitions become blurred.

Let’s circle back to how I’m in the process of helping the person close to me with going from feeling like they are existing to thriving. One of the things I suggested was to in fact find a therapist. They are now working with one. Below are some of the other and more radical things they are doing, and that others can do too.

  • Outline on paper what you want your life to be like going forward. Think of this in terms of either a mind map, or perhaps a picture storyboard. Some refer to this as an inspiration board. This can also be created digitally too. The point is to begin thinking ahead.
  • When we begin to think about what is in front of us, and how to get to the place we want to be, it shifts our mentality from being “stuck” to considering that there are possibilities for doing something different.
  • Craft a list of all of the things you can think of that you would like to do or accomplish. Make the list as if everything on it is possible. In other words, think well beyond what you might even be able to imagine doing in reality.
  • Aspirational thinking is really powerful. Even more powerful is being able to plot out the tiny, and potentially large number of steps to get there. Although having many steps might appear to be overwhelming, if you can commit to doing one per day, it will allow you to accomplish this.
  • Having the perception of possessing good time management skills is often a challenge for people who feel they are simply existing. So, I highly recommend putting this on someone’s list to help them to learn how to improve this skill.
  • Committing to taking care of yourself is also highly important, as this is often overlooked when someone is not feeling great. Even doing something as small as drinking enough water and remaining hydrated each day can be helpful.
  • The radical thing I am having the person I referenced consider doing, is to think of their next career move as a paid internship. To have the experience be focused on building a new foundation which will support them to thrive. We are working on setting this up, but I know this will work, as I have had numerous other people apply this technique. No, it’s not easy, but the results are always remarkable.

So, if you or someone you know isn’t thriving, but wants to, I hope you will share this story with them. Everyone deserves to be thriving in their life, and sometimes they need additional support to get there.

TAGS: #Mentalhealth #Howtothrive #Howtosucceed #Management #Business #Life #Coaching #Therapist #Therapy #Leadership #Beingstuck #Feelingstuck #Thriving #Advice #Mentor #Virtualmentor #Perception #Timemanagement #Timemanagementskills

Who’s your champion?

It’s obvious why everyone needs to have a person who would be considered their “champion” or biggest supporter in their life. Perhaps a different one professionally and personally. The champion I am referring to, is the type of person who truly believes in you. Regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in. Someone you can always rely upon, particularly when you may not be at the top of your “game”.

When I think about who my “champion” is, they embody all of the qualities you would ideally want this person to have, starting with believing in the core essence of who you are. This person also has an unwavering integrity and a solution minded outlook. They also are what I’ll refer to as a “clear-thinker”. What some others might call rational, especially during highly charged emotional situations. Perhaps what some might also refer to as drama.

Speaking of drama, this is not something I ever seek out to have going on in my life. Although it does appear some people seek this out, or have a magnet which draws them in to more routinely being in this state. It’s possible people with lots of drama in their life like having it occur, but from my perspective it is an unnecessary distraction from what would be more important to be focused on. For instance, addressing challenges, rather than circling around them in a drama induced frenzy, absent of any solution.

People who have drama in their lives may not realize how much energy they are having consumed when they are in their “dramatic” situation, and that if this energy was redirected, how different their circumstances might be. My interpretation of people who either attract or live a life filled with drama have learned to embrace this way of living. It appears to be a cycle they can’t break, and perhaps don’t want to. However, if they better understood the option of not having drama occurring constantly in their life, they could in fact impact their life very positively. Even reduce or eliminate the drama in their lives.

It’s possible that people who have too much drama going on, do not have a champion in their life. Or, maybe they did at one point, and the champion gave up supporting them because the person they were attempting to help did not ever accept their advice. If this was the case, I’m sure the champion went well beyond what would be reasonable to hang-in and attempt to help the person they were championing. However, they also determined eventually that the person was not going to accept their support, and ultimately, they reluctantly walked away from the lack of making any progress.

Having a champion in one’s life is a gift, and not everyone is given this gift. A champion of another person does not always intentionally become one. Sometimes this person is surprised by the fact they took on this role. This may seem odd or counterintuitive to think about, but it does happen.

An example of this occurring, is when someone becomes the champion of another person due to their empathy for the person and the circumstances they are in. Potentially circumstances they could help to influence and help the person they are championing to improve. Not always with money, but often with attention, guidance and ultimately love, or a deep appreciation for making the circumstances better for the person they are the champion for.

If you are seeking to find a champion to have in your life either personally or professionally, perhaps both, here are some suggestions for seeking them out. However, you might not have to look that hard for them, as they are likely in your life right now, and you have not been focused on seeing them.

  • Most parents play a role in being our initial champion in our lives, but not always. If you have not embraced or felt that they have contributed to playing this role, it’s possible either you did not accept them attempting to do this for you, or they didn’t have the capacity to do this for a myriad of reasons.
  • Coaches, teachers and others who you have interacted with in your life who are in their roles to support having your best interest in mind, are naturally skilled at being one of your champions. Did you seek them out in the past to do this? If not, consider why you might not have.
  • Someone you think of as your mentor or advisor can also play the role of your champion. I personally have a number of people who are in each of these roles that I rely upon for helping to champion me when I need their support. My earliest memory of a mentor champion was my summer camp counselor who always encouraged me to do my best at everything I was attempting to do. Especially new things I was learning to do.
  • Consider aspects of your life either personally or professionally that you might need additional support. Is there someone you know who has experience in those areas that can help you? If so, are you comfortable enough with reaching out to them for their support?
  • Asking someone to be your champion typically happens more organically than being architected into your life. Your champion will more likely “adopt” you, and you may or may not be fully aware of when this happens.
  • Perhaps you are someone’s champion? Does the person know you are playing this role? It’s possible they do not, or at least not yet.
  • Being another person’s champion is an incredibly noble role to play. One that requires you to be unselfish, giving of your time, energy and experience, and always there for the person, particularly in some of the most difficult circumstances you will be helping them to navigate through.

My sincere hope is that you have a champion, are one, or will be one in someone else’s life one day. Thank you to all of the champions out there who are making a difference in other people’s lives. You are all unsung heroes, and may you continue to be one. Enjoy the experience of helping and supporting others, particularly during times they need you the most to be there for them.

Tags: #Mentoring #Champion #Leadership #Management #Business #Life #Helpingothers #Makingadifference #Coaches #Teachers #Cheerleader #Coach #SportsCoach #Parent #Parents #Boss #Teacher

Going back to easy…who’s in?

This morning I was inspired by a quote that perfectly captures the essence of what I believe is a philosophy which so many people are coming around to appreciate. The quote is from the founder of Le Pain Quotidien, Alain Coumont, and it was “I think the most sophisticated thing sometimes, can be going back to the simple things and that’s not always easy.”

Alain’s quote is almost non-sensical, as you would imagine that doing something simple should not be hard to accomplish. In fact, you would think this would be extremely easy to do. However, given the current environment we are living in is so precarious on numerous levels (e.g., economically, socially, health wise), it has thrown people into a tailspin as they attempt to make sense of our world being tipped upside down.

My home-based city is Boston, but this weekend I’m in New York City. This is the second time I have traveled since March of 2020, and the first time back to this city since a year ago. I was curious what condition I would find the state of the city to be in, and sadly, it’s worse than I expected it to be. Some things are the same, but the vibe and energy of the city has significantly changed. The fact so many businesses have been shuttered, and that the main places of entertainment have been too (e.g., Broadway, Museums, The Met), makes the city feel a lot like any other city. The graffiti and trash are back to a level I remember seeing a few decades ago, and the homeless population seems to be at an all-time high.

So, if a city like New York is not able to offer the traditional experience it did prior to Covid, what sets it apart from any other city? I posed this question to some of my friends who live here, and their responses were fascinating. Essentially, they shared with me that they are living in and treating the city as if it was always devoid of the elements and reasons people chose to live there. In other words, they have resorted to doing things which people living in the suburbs would typically do (e.g., going for walks, riding their bike, watching and listening to nature, and spending more time outside than inside).

You could easily say that people in New York, and probably in most parts of the country, are going back to living a simpler life. One without the trappings of always feeling like they need to be out and going someplace new, or doing something interesting. Their routines are being scaled down, and they are beginning to accept the living situation they are in. Perhaps even appreciating it more, especially if they are fortunate to be healthy, and have a paying job.

I’m certain if you had taken a survey and asked people a year ago if they could have imagined their life scaling back and describing to them how it is today, that they would never have believed it would be the way it is. However, in reality, I have a sense more people have come to terms with, and are more accepting of their reality a year into their lives being upended.

If you have not arrived at the place of being resigned to the fact your life might in fact be better now because of having to embrace the simple things in life being important, I challenge you to consider these suggestions to help you on this journey.

  • Since many people have not had to commute to their office, their “work attire” has likely shifted to a new level of “office casual”. In other words, they are finding that they are wearing less than half of the clothes they did before, and their dry-cleaning bills can prove this. Ultimately, this could mean you would have more room in your closet.
  • Understanding the concept that less is more maybe something you can finally wrap your minds around. Why? Because you might be more aware of the trappings of the “stuff” or clutter in your environment that is sucking up space and not adding any perceived value to your life. Purging unnecessary items from your life can be simultaneously cathartic, and charitable.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  
  • Space is relative, and there is definitely a middle ground in terms of having the right amount of it to live in. People who are living in small spaces might be wishing to have more space, and those with an abundance of space might be realizing they don’t need all the space they have. Spending so much time in your current space has provided you with a new appreciation for what the right amount of space might be for you.
  • Although not everyone will fare well from a relationship perspective, there will be people whose relationships will become stronger from spending so much “quality” time together. Providing they have the mentality that they are on the “same team”, and can add more value versus detract from being in one another’s lives.

The phrase “less is more” is one of my favorite expressions. If we could all embrace this as a concept, it will certainly help us to navigate as a society on our journey of going back to recognizing that there are some positive outcomes from living a simpler, less complicated life. Even in the midst of still being in the middle of living in a Pandemic as one of our main, but not our only challenge at this point in time.

TAGS: #Pandemic #Simplelife #Boston #NewYorkCity #Options #LessisMore #EmbracingChange #Perspective #Happiness #QualityofLife #LessComplicatedLife

Pivoting – When is the right time?

Let’s agree on one thing. There is no such thing as true perfection. If there was, then why haven’t more people attained it in every area of their life that matters to them? Sure, we have all seen examples of what would be considered nearly perfect, but at the end of the day, everyone will likely have a different definition of what this really means. So, as a foundation for agreement, let’s begin by starting out with agreeing that perfection is subjective.

When I was considering what to write about today, I thought about how many people recently are referring to themselves professionally as transformation experts. Without exploring their credentials, I would venture to guess that most of these people have been through an experience which impacted them significantly. Hopefully it was a positive one, but I’m certain many of them were not. I also hope they have the right credentials to help others with the transformation they are promising.  

Regardless of your age, I guarantee everyone reading this has had a minimum of one transformational experience. The kind of experience which has shaped your thinking, and perhaps your actions. As you pause to consider what would be the major experience in your life that was transformative, have you factored in how it has impacted your profession, how you live your life, or the relationships you have? Or, have you thought about whether the experience either strengthened, weakened or significantly altered your personal or professional goals?

Chances are in your favor that the transformative experience you had impacted a part of your life that made you reflect upon why it happened to you. Depending on the level of the positive or negative influence the experience had on you will impact the length of time it will take to process what happened. If it was a positive experience, it will be easier to have a clearer appreciation of how to benefit from what happened. Conversely, if the situation was a negative one, and you experienced any type of trauma, the timeline for being able to have clarity on seeing any positive outcome will take appreciably much longer.

In either scenario of experiencing any type of transformation, the end point will result in you coming to terms with which way to pivot directionally forward. Unfortunately, some people will become what I call “stuck”. Perhaps they will need professional help to move forward, but this isn’t always necessarily. However, it is perfectly acceptable to seek help if you are not able to get past the experience you had. Even if it was a positive one, there are people who still get stuck with not knowing how to leverage and benefit from the pivot they can and should be making.

Personally, I had not thought about the term pivot until I was decades into my career. Had I done so, it would have prevented many sleepless nights agonizing over how to deal with, and make the best of either a bad, or good situation. Luckily, since I began to embrace pivoting as my new way of being able to move forward with greater ease, it has opened up possibilities I would never have considered. For example, I would not be writing about this topic right now, if I had not been encouraged to take my professional experience and share it with others via a much broader platform. In other words, I’m referring to the teams I was leading, and the people I was mentoring on a consistent basis over the years who were in a closed environment, on a smaller platform, yet benefiting from my pivoting experiences.

There are numerous benefits to embracing the concept of pivoting and the way you currently look at your life personally or professionally. If you are wondering how to go about testing out pivoting in your life, below are some potential ways to get you started on becoming more comfortable doing so.

  • Ask yourself if you truly enjoy being “stuck”, and not making forward progress?
  • Is there someone in your life who is holding you back from being able to pivot and move forward? Realistically, you are likely the only one holding yourself back.
  • Think about a time you were able to benefit from pivoting your thinking. What was the outcome, and would you do this over again?
  • Consider a current experience you have had which you have not pivoted from. Now think about whether your pro and con list is going to be longer when you take the time to write this out. When you see your pro list, it will likely be longer than your con list. Commit to putting a plan together to begin pivoting forward to make the pros on your list a reality.
  • Can you honestly admit there is never a good time to pivot? Challenge your own thinking on this. It might be difficult, but the first step is to attempt to look at your scenario via a different lens. When you do this, you will begin to see new ways you will be able to benefit from moving forward, or in a better direction.

I can assure you I have always benefitted from the concept of pivoting, and each time I have done so, it has been easier to accomplish. The expression “we can be our own worst enemies” is something I think about when I’m tempted not to pivot. Each time I consider this, it eases my mind into thinking about possibilities versus remaining in a place I would rather not be. I hope my suggestions will allow you to benefit from adding pivoting as a strategy to continue to benefit from both your negative and positive experiences.

TAGS: #Vulnerability #Pivoting #Benefitsofpivoting #Mindset #Leadership #Management #Success #Teams #Movingforward #Strategy #Openmind #Beingopenminded #Transformation #Motivation

Feeling trapped by a title or industry?

Perhaps it’s the ongoing Pandemic, but I feel like I have hit a wall with being trapped inside for too long. The more challenging part of this realization, is that I don’t see my personal situation changing any day soon. Yes, I know it will, and that plenty of others feel this way too, but patience is not one of my specialties. Results are, which makes feeling like I am trapped even tougher.

Ok, thanks for letting me vent. I feel better now, and can get on with talking about another form of feeling, or being trapped professionally and what you can do about this. For me, having a solution, even just one, makes me feel empowered and able to conquer any obstacle in my way. In terms of a person who is feeling defined by the work they do, or the industry they are in was something I was having a conversation about this morning.

The conversation was in fact energizing. It also made me consider some alternatives to how I could offer advice to others who might be feeling trapped. Either personally or professionally by the role they play in an organization.

Although you might not consider people at the top of an organization would feel trapped or isolated in their roles, I can tell you for a fact and through experience this isn’t the case. Many top executives or leaders have experienced a sense of being defined by their roles, the organization they work for, or the industry they are in. Many of them are proud of having achieved the roles they are in, but many of these same people are not experiencing the satisfaction you might imagine they would be.

I was reading an article the other day and came across an interesting title. The title was Chief Wellness Officer. The role was loosely defined, and underscored the fact this was not a human resource role. I found that to be interesting, but given the mental health crisis occurring in our society currently, and the fact it is being exacerbated by the Pandemic, I thought this newly defined role was refreshing to learn about. Also, quite timely.

Although the definition of the Chief Wellness Officer role wasn’t clearly defined, it struck me as a moment in time when reality and the needs of employees were catching up to be in synch. Now, the challenge will be to see this role better defined and implemented.

Let’s circle back to the situation you might be in where you are feeling unfairly defined by your title. If you are in a supportive role, there is a greater chance you are feeling trapped in playing a follower role, versus a leadership one. However, not everyone is meant to take on the role of a leader, but if you think you are, and you not in this role yet, I guarantee you know what I am referring to. Now, let’s imagine for a moment no one had a title. What would this type of work environment look like, and how would it exist without structure and by well-defined rules to play by? It might be completely chaotic, or it might flow well. Most would say it would be chaotic, but I would bet they have not experienced the type of work environment which would make them think differently.

If you are wondering how to do what I’ll refer to as reassemble the direction of your title or the industry you are in, one of the things you will need to do is to embody one word. That word is “pivot”. It’s become one of my favorite words. One in fact I have embraced and lived by as a guiding support the last four years as a business entrepreneur. I’ll credit a wise woman name Anita Brearton for introducing me to both this word, and the concept of it. Thank you, Anita, for sharing this with me at exactly the time I needed to hear it.

Although by definition the word pivot is clearly defined, the exact direction you go in from your pivot will depend. It will depend on how you want to leverage your skills, your knowledge and your network to help you to head you in a more preferable direction. I like the word pivot because it factors in leveraging all of your acquired experience and then taking it into the direction of your preference. Whether that be into a new role with a completely different type of title, or potentially a different industry.

Since I generally provide suggestions in each of my articles, I’ll continue with this tradition. Here are some ways you can pivot in your current title or industry.

  • Clearly define and write down why you want to change from the role or industry you are in.
  • Do you feel held back, incomplete, underutilized or invisible in the role you are playing? Consider the factors contributing to this. Are the majority of the reasons based on circumstances beyond your current control (e.g., You want to own a surf shop and you live in Oklahoma)?
  • It’s easier to cast blame on others for why you are potentially stuck or trapped in your role or industry. Honestly think about whether this may or may not be true.
  • Are you leveraging your network to help you to pivot? Have you expressed to anyone that this is something you want to do?
  • You know the old adage of “Those without a plan, are setting themselves up to fail”. Make sure you have some version of a plan to set yourself up for success.

I could add numerous other suggestions, but at some point, if you are going to seek and change a situation you are in, you have to be the one in charge of doing so. Yes, you can ask and should seek support, but ultimately only you can be the one to put your foot on the accelerator to move forward. Just make sure you have enough fuel or that your battery life is charged up enough to take you to where you ultimately want to go. I’ll see you there!

TAGS: #Leadership #Management #CareerAdvice #Motivation #ChangeManagement #PeopleDevelopment #Business #AnitaBrearton #Success #Howtopivot #Pivotingyourcareer #Pivotingyourexperience #Mindset #Professionalnetwork #Pandemic #Feelingtrapped #Feelingtrappedinyourrole