Purpose driven. Are you?

It sure sounds noble when you are authentically able to tell someone that the type of work you are doing is either allowing you to satisfy your quest to be working on or towards a purpose. Or, seeking out what your actual purpose is. To me, this almost sounds mystical, or perhaps a bit surreal. Possibly too good to be true?

Whether someone is actually working on their purpose driven career or volunteering their time to apply it towards a cause they believe in, I think they are fortunate to feel this way. More importantly, to actively be doing something which allows them to tangibly achieve this.

Perhaps they are helping others in a variety of different methods of doing so, or they are lending their precious time to teach another person how to become better at something. It could really be a number of different scenarios which someone could associate with having a purpose driven situation.

Is there a specific time period on a person’s life when they feel they are more purpose driven?  Possibly, but they might also feel this way throughout their entire career or life, or during blocks of time over numerous decades. The point is that being a purpose-oriented person does not mean you have to dedicate your entire life or career to being this way. However, there are certainly people we can name who choose to be purpose driven throughout their career and life. Someone such as the Dali Lama comes to mind. Companies such as Patagonia and Riverford Organic Farmers are outwardly focused on who they serve, and what good they can apply to society via the services or products they have to offer.

When I was starting out in my career, I worked for Staples the Office Superstore. What I liked about their business model was that they were attempting to re-engineer the office supply industry. Staples did this because they realized that consumers were being taken advantage of, and had been paying ridiculous pricing for all of their standard office supplies. Prices in fact that were embarrassingly high, and in some cases absurd.

At the time when Staples founders Tom Stemberg and Leo Kahn set-out to retool this industry, they did so based on finding a market segment that had been exploiting consumers for decades. Both sadly and ironically, many of these stores were locally owned stores that were servicing the small to medium sized business markets. Occasionally larger companies, but those were mainly being serviced by companies such as WB Mason.

My point is that when I first started working at Staples in their headquarters office in Newton, MA, I felt that the company had a mission and purpose I could feel good about. I felt that they were like the modern-day version of your favorite childhood story correcting a situation of the “little business owner” being taken advantage of. Better yet, giving them an actual fighting chance to compete, based on the fact they were not having to allocate such high dollar amounts to purchasing their office supplies and equipment.

I can’t honestly tell you that I intentionally went to work for Staples due to the noble and purpose driven approach they embodied, but I was fortunate to learn about this concept early on in my career. In fact, it significantly altered the course of my career from that point on, but more so in the past decade when I became more reflective on the importance of being purpose driven. Yes, on a daily and regular basis.

If you are curious about how you can orient yourself to being more purpose driven either personally or professionally, I have some suggestions for you to consider to accomplish heading in this direction.

  • What is truly important to you? Is it your health, family, the environment? Start with recognizing what this is. It should be obvious, but perhaps not, if you have not taken the time to contemplate this before.
  • Once you identify what is important to you, do you have the skills, or a particular skill that will lend itself well to help you to work towards either finding a company, career or volunteer opportunity to align with?
  • Have you considered how you will feel differently when you are focusing your time and attention on being purpose driven?
  • Are there perhaps clues from your past of activities you have been involved with, or people who you know who inspired and brought out the purpose driven mentality in you?
  • If you have to list 2-5 things you are truly passionate about, what would they be? Are they things or activities, or people you regularly are involved with, or on a periodic basis?
  • When was the last time you felt that you were in 100% alignment with any kind of purpose? Is it possible you have not figured out what your purpose is yet?
  • Let’s assume you know what your best talents are. Are you using them in diversified ways, or only for a singular type of career or in your personal life some way?
  • If you were to architect your perfect day, what would it look like? Have you ever stopped to consider what this day might include you doing or who or where you would be on this day? Some of your answers might also provide insight into what would be drivers in seeking your purpose.

Everyone has a purpose. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to figure out what their purpose is early on in life. I challenge you to do this. Don’t worry about how long it might take to do this, or how difficult it might be to do so. When you figure out what your purpose is, it will be worth every ounce of energy your expended to do so. I guarantee this, and welcome you to reach out to me to discuss how I can help you to find your purpose.

TAGS: #Purpose #Purposefulthinking #Inspiration #Mentoring #Leadership #Coaching #Business #Success #Purposedriven #Findyourpurpose #Findingmypurpose #Howtofindmypurpose

A Podcast about Teams.

I’m switching things up a bit this week, and providing you with a link to Dr. Jason Koh’s podcast where he interviewed me about the type of work I do with teams.

Here is the link to the Podcast interview.

Have a terrific week everyone.

How are you projecting your image?

Something I have always enjoyed doing is to observe the actions of how people interact with one another. Particularly in professional and team scenarios. My fascination stems from seeing things that when people are interacting with others, that I’m sure they are not aware of how they are being perceived. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the way they are acting, simply noticing and considering how they could be doing something differently. More to their advantage.

In the coaching work I do, I have the opportunity and honor of professionally evaluating and critiquing how both leaders, as well as team members interact with one another. The next step in this observation process is to convey back to the leader and their team what I am seeing. The majority of the time, the leader is the one asking me to conduct this work, and their team is generally unaware that I am watching how they engage with one another.

Of course, it’s much better when people are not aware of when someone is observing them, as they will more naturally act how they ordinarily would. Observing sports teams is much easier to evaluate than work teams, as you get to see the team members interacting in a concentrated scenario when they are playing or practicing their sport. However, it is possible to observe work teams, it just takes longer to do, as you need to see them in a variety of settings within their environment to accomplish this.

I remember the first time I was asked to evaluate a work team and the leader of it. The leader initiated this process, as he admitted he was not fully aware of why he was having challenges with interacting with his team, and his management peers. He also wanted to better understand what was going on. This was a brave and bold move on his behalf, as it can be intimidating to have someone knowingly observe how you are engaging with others. However, the benefits of having me conduct this work for this leader and his team far outweighed any feelings of his awkwardness. 

The results of what I observed were quite revealing, especially with one example which was the body language I was observing this leader display. One of the main body language expressions he was routinely doing, was to immediately cross his arms when he began an interaction with another person. This particular body language expression signals that you are closed off and not fully open to hearing what the other person is saying. It also conveys a form of being defensive. Neither of these body language expressions were what this leader intended to convey. In fact, just the opposite. However, he was unaware that he was doing this, as he didn’t have a mirror or video capturing him doing this during every one of his interactions with others.

Upon being made aware of this one simple action, then having awareness of this happening, and course correcting on this behavior, made an incredible difference in the engagements this leader then had with his team and leadership peers. This one simple example is something that many people do, yet are not aware of this occurring. So, you too can take notice of whether this is something you are also routinely doing.

The first sports teams I had the privilege of observing was initiated by the head coach. He had been coaching for decades, yet admittedly had no idea how his coaching style and his coaching behaviors were impacting his team. He wasn’t sure if how he was being perceived was positive, negative or perhaps neutral. However, he wanted to know which category he fit into, and more importantly, if it was in the “negative” category, that he could course correct on this.

After observing the coach for several games, it became obvious there we some things he was doing as a coach that he was unaware of. One of these observations was that he wasn’t listening to his players when they were attempting to engage with him on the sidelines. He was unaware that he was being dismissive of their attempts to talk to him. When I shared this observation with him, he was completely surprised by this. In fact, he was upset that this was happening, as he prided himself and perceived himself to be very open to communicating with others.  

By adjusting the coach’s awareness of how he was interacting with his players in a way that was contrary to how he thought he was interacting, was a “game changer” for his team going forward. Why? Because the team members and the coach were now able to actually communicate openly with one another. The results of this coach’s team performance also demonstrated the positive impact from this one small change in behavior too.

So, what can you do to see the type of image you are projecting? Here are some suggestions to “test drive”.

  • You will first need to commit to being open to having someone provide you with constructive feedback, and not consider it to be criticism and feel like you are being attacked.
  • Find someone you implicitly trust to evaluate you, and who has experience successfully leading others.
  • The image we project may or may not be something we are intentionally coordinating with our actions, and if possible, if you can observe yourself on video, this is ideal. However, you still will want someone who can neutrally provide you with feedback about what they are also seeing in person and via the video, as you still might not see what they are seeing.
  • Although you might think you don’t have a great deal of control over the image you are projecting, you actually do. In fact, the image you are projecting is multi-faceted, and involves how you speak (e.g., the tone of your voice, how fast or slow you speak, how you enunciate your words), how you stand or sit in front of others (e.g., standing up tall, versus slumping your shoulders) and what you choose to wear (e.g., generally in professional situations, always select clothing which presents the best impression of who you are, and yet doesn’t distract from your actions or how you will be communicating). This applies to both women and men.
  • Think about what type of image you want to project. When you intentionally consider this, it will be easier to accomplish it.
  • After thinking about the image you want to project, look the part of how you want to project yourself in your organization, versus not giving this factor any or enough consideration.
  • Ask someone who’s image you admire, for suggestions on how they have developed their image. I guarantee you they evolved to the image they are projecting, and you will benefit from knowing how they accomplished this.

Projecting the image you want to requires a conscientious effort to do so, and can take years to perfect. Your image can also be fluid, and evolve over time. What you want to master or become comfortable with, is that your awareness of your image matches the reality of how others perceive it.

TAGS: #Perception #Image #HowDoYouProjectYourImage #HowAreYouPerceived #Business #Management #Teams #Leadership #Leaders #SportsTeams #Coaching #TeamCoaching

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

Finding your motivation spark is easier than you think. Do you know how?

It’s interesting to think about how everyone is motivated differently. I also like to think about how each person has their own sources of motivation, and how the same ones which worked for them today, might not work tomorrow. Have you considered how you developed your motivational sources?

As a professional motivator, like a magician, I have lots of tricks to motivate myself. Since we established everyone has their own set of motivational triggers, only some of mine might work for others. So, is there a secret to knowing how to find yours?

The answer to this question is complex, yet does not have to be. The simple and direct answer is no. There isn’t a secret way to determine which motivational tricks will be your go to ones to get you to the place you need to be. However, like a home foundation, there are certain things you can do to help you to establish when, and what can motivate you.

One of my tricks to motivating myself each day might come as a surprise to you. I also only recently discovered this technique works for me. For the sense of drama, drum roll please…The single most motivating tip I can share with you is waking up and taking 10-15 minutes to simply sit quietly and do my best not to think about anything. Some would call this mindfulness. Call it what you like, this small thing I have been doing each morning really works…for me.

Do I set a timer to apply this motivational trick? No. That would be stressful and counterproductive. However, I do seem to range between 5-15 minutes of being quiet. I have lots of energy, but I would not consider myself to be hyper. My energy is contained and purposefully applied throughout the day. It’s not always easy to pace my energy level, but I do my best, as I’m sure you do too.

If you are wondering whether there are other motivational techniques I can share with you, of course the answer is yes.  However, I would love to also hear what techniques each of you apply.

Here are some suggestions on how you can find your motivational spark.

  • Think about the last time you were really happy. What was going on in your life to make you feel this way? Use this happy memory as a source for your motivation.
  • Do you like music? Most people do, and I’m sure they have music they listen to which serves different purposes. Upbeat music is what I listen to when I’m writing, including right now.
  • Color can have a dramatic impact on your mood, which in turn can impact your motivation levels. The brightness of a color also can have an impact on how you feel. According to scientists, if you only had one color to choose to motivate you, that color would be green. The two other colors noted were red, then blue.
  • People you interact with can have an enormous impact on your motivation. Consider that person you think about wanting to avoid when you see them. Why? Probably because you would classify them as a “Debbie Downer”, and the person who is always negative. It’s best to limit or avoid people like this to prevent them from depleting your motivation levels.
  • Seek out people who are upbeat. I actually have a running list of people in my mind I queue up with when I need a dose of their great attitudes and positive outlook on life.
  • When possible, go outside. Even better, take a walk in a park, or on the beach. Both of these places always deliver the motivation I need at that point in time.
  • Instagram is also one of my sources of motivation. I have certain imagery which can completely spark my motivation, and admittedly kittens and puppies are two of them.

Being motivated is way better than the alternative. However, not everyone is at the same level of their workmates, family or friends. Consider strongly whether the environments you find yourself in are a source for increasing or decreasing your motivation level. When you do this, it will be the first step to helping you be put back on the path you would rather be on.

Tags: #Business #Communications #Motivation #Success #Management #BeingNice #HelpingOthers #Behavior #Leadership #HR #HumanResources #Business #Teams #TeamMotivationalTips #MotivationTips