How having a Sales & Leadership Coach dramatically improved my business, my results, and my life.
The Missing Piece
Over the last 12 months I have made many significant and positive changes in my life. In fact, just this weekend I was creating a new vision board. I did this same activity at the same time last year. When I was finished, I laid the two versions (this years and last year’s) side by side and was again reminded of how much growth has taken place. Even writing about it makes me take a deep breath in and release a sigh of gratitude. The only word that comes to mind is “wow”.
I have shared a lot of this journey on social media. I have been flooding Facebook and Instagram with pictures of meditation practices, underlined paragraphs from books, and personal development challenges. Most recently I’ve even ventured into blogging to further explain some of the ideas that have given me clarity, peace, and perspective in hopes that it might help others find the same.
It was recently brought to my attention however, that I have inadvertently omitted a piece of the puzzle. I haven’t yet shared the primary catalysts helping me to act on (for example) starting said meditation practices, reading those books, and creating my personal development challenges.
This is the story of that missing piece.
It’s written more from personal experience than many things I post but that is by design. It IS my personal experience. So, take what you can, leave what doesn’t fit, but I encourage you to read with an open mind and consider if something like this might be the catalyst you’ve been missing too…
Through a series of unexpected and serendipitous events, I found myself introduced to the idea of hiring a Sales and Leadership coach.
If you knew me, you might think me an unlikely candidate for coaching. You see, I am a bit of an overachiever.
The program was described to me as “accountability coaching”. If you were to read my resume (filled with impressive stats and aggressive advancement) or visit my home (where you’d find shelves packed with self-help and business books as well as dozens of marathon and half-marathon medals) you might assume that things were going ‘pretty OK’ in the accountability department. In fact, when I told my father about wanting to get involved in a coaching program I believe his exact words were “I think you are literally the last person on the planet that needs this.”
(Don’t feel bad, I don’t think this is the first time he’s been wrong.)
Or – maybe that was a fair assessment. I mean really, maybe no one “needs” coaching. Just like no one “needs” to live an extraordinary life or accomplish goals beyond their wildest dreams… maybe. But I have never been satisfied with average.
However, here’s the common misconception and the thing I am asked about most often from those privy to my involvement in this… As a person “not satisfied with average” you’d have to guess that I’m ambitious from the jump.
And you’d be right.
So, why coaching?
Here’s the paradox with being an overachiever. When you are an overachiever, the world makes it really easy to be lazy.
This might sound counterintuitive, so allow me to illustrate.
Let’s say you and I both work for a company that measures our value and production in the number of pies we can bake in a day.
Let’s assume that an average producer bakes 100 pies per day. Let’s also imagine that you and I are both ambitious overachievers and, as such, we can bake 125 pies per day – no problem. We can basically do this in our sleep.
It stands to reason that with slightly more effort we could probably bake 150 pies per day, but if everyone is in jaw-dropped-awe at our 125 pies are we really going to shoot for the 150? It would take an awful lot of personal inspiration and motivation to do so. Might as well ‘phone it in’ and let everyone be impressed as is with our 125 pies.
This is a lazy approach, for sure, but no one ever seems to notice.
Achievements and accomplishments are relative. It’s all about pushing beyond your own personal best – if you’re inspired to do so. It’s all about challenging yourself and finding out what’s possible for you! Not comparing yourself to the average.
Spoiler Alert: Comparison to anything outside of yourself is a bit poisonousness anyway.
I started coaching because I knew that I could bake more metaphorical pies. I knew that the world had made it too easy for me to be lazy and that if I wanted to discover what was possible it was up to me to make a change.
I paid for the program myself. Aside from my rent, it was the single most expensive monthly charge on my credit card statement. You know when people talk about the price of something and then say, “it was the best money I ever spent”? I get that. This was the best money I have ever spent. No question.
One of my first assignments was to work on my personal vision. I had to answer thought-provoking questions about where I was going and why. I created a list of 40 goals I aimed to achieve before the age of 40 (arbitrary numbers – just because it’s catchy) and I was tasked with creating a vision board.
This may sound cheesy but stick with me… This process made me realize something. Somehow, I had spent the past few years going through the motions and feeling my way around in the dark. I hadn’t even realized I was living this way. My eyes adjusted. I had grown accustomed.
This make it feel like someone had finally flipped the lights on. “Vision”; literally.
My coach was asking me to dig deep and answer these important questions but he had no dog in the fight. Maybe it’s just me but I feel like any time I’m talking “vision” or “goals” to anyone who cares enough to hear them it seems they always have a dog in the fight. They’re always tied in. My achieving or not achieving X goal affects them in one way or another. There had been no unbiased participants in a conversation about my personal vision. Until now.
I could answer these questions and craft my vision however I chose. Me. Solo. And my coach would hold me accountable to this exercise and make sure it was accomplished on a deadline.
Suddenly it wasn’t selfish to spend this time reflecting and dreaming. It was necessary. It was an assignment. But the teacher didn’t win or lose based on the content of my work.
I was forced to go inward and untangle some things.
Did I mention I thought I signed up for sales coaching?
But, as I would learn, it’s all the same.
Of course, I learned strategies specifically designed to help me within the four walls of my office as well.
I have been in management and leadership for nearly ten years but the year I spent in coaching was the year I truly learned how to manage and lead.
It’s not that I was terrible at this before. I had actually been quite lucky throughout the decade. I employed a strategy of reading a few leadership books per year, had discovered Success Magazine audio CDs before podcasts were the norm, and had picked up some good instincts on how to navigate through the maze of hiring, training and developing – but I probably couldn’t tell you how or why I made the choices I made.
It was as if I was accidentally picked as a starting player on a soccer team and although I had never actually learned the rules of how to play soccer, I managed to score enough point per game that no one noticed I couldn’t read the playbook.
Coaching helped me to learn the rules, read the playbook, and improve the plays being run.
I was no longer winning through luck and might. I began winning through skill and strategy – which, you know, is quite a bit more sustainable.
As a sales professional, I began to really learn how to hone my craft in an honest and technical way. It’s not about selling more for self-centered reasons or financial gain. It’s about learning to connect faster and more sincerely with prospects, determining if they’ll genuinely benefit from your product or service, and helping them feel supported in the decision to move forward and become you client or partner, or not.
As a leader, my experience in coaching taught me how to hold others accountable through love.
That’s right. I said the “L” word. Roll your eyes if you must but this was a game changer for me.
Tough conversations stopped being tough which alleviated a ton of stress in my world and allowed me to show up and be present when working with my team. I learned (like, really learned) that holding people accountable and not accepting less than their personal best is the kindest thing I can do for them. It is my ultimate service.
I began to feel more at peace at work, interactions became deeper, our relationships strengthened, and our results improved.
I could tell you that I learned about time management but that’s not completely true.
I learned that “time management” is an excuse we use when what we really need to improve is our “self-management” and I learned self-management strategies that increased not only my results and production but also my sense of control and happiness both inside and outside of the office. I now get more done and manage far less chaos. It’s fantastic.
Finally, if I’ve used too many words that make you uncomfortable like vision, service, love, and peace – let me hit you with some facts and figures because that’s a language I am equally fluent in.
During my time in coaching I grew my revenue by 89%, my business hit all-time highs in production and my teams consistently landed in the top 10% of the country for New Business Acquisition.
I can boil this all down to one word; accountability.
We all need it if we ever hope to answer the question: “What’s possible?”
The overachievers, the veterans, the newcomers, and those simply (or not-so-simply) seeking more – we can ALL benefit from someone holding us responsible for achieving our own personal best.
So, how many pies can you/your business really bake in a day?
PEACE & LOVE
PS – For information about the coaching program I used or, you know, just to chat about accountability 😉 feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If your life experience is anything like mine you know that the opportunity and urge to compare lies latent at every turn. Every car that passes on the road, every swipe through a news feed, every semi-filled shopping cart navigating through the grocery aisle seems to be begging for an assessment. Crying out for an evaluation. And, most importantly, demanding of a final grade in the form of ‘better than’ or ‘worse than’.
While there may seem like a clear cut winner in the game of ‘whose is better’ we need to get real – this is a lose:lose scenario.
First of all – we are outrageously sloppy in these reckless comparisons.
Let’s imagine that instead of pitting my whole foods shopping cart contents against yours I am comparing two branches of a particular business and have to present this information to investors.
Oh, I know. Those are very different scenarios.
But what makes them so different?
For me, the first thing that comes to mind is the need for accuracy.
If I am just casually comparing two “objects” like your vanilla almond milk versus my organic coconut drink (or, more likely, insert: “relationships”, “journeys”, “lifestyles”) I don’t pay much attention to the accuracy of my assessment. Apparently I don’t hold myself to the same esteem as I do imaginary investors. All that’s at stake for me is my self-talk, my emotional state, my self worth… no big deal.
Can you believe how ridiculous that is? We’d never stand in a board room, unprepared, in our yoga pants and flip flops, look at a quick power point slide summarizing the profitability of two branches, shrug, point, and label one as “better”.
No way! We’d do the work.
And here is why comparisons are a nightmare – allow me to set the stage:
Hang with me in the board room for a minute. It’s empty. The presentation is not until tomorrow. Yoga pants are acceptable for approximately eighteen more hours. We have more than just a single power point slide – we have a conference table full of reports and data – everything we could ever want to know.
Branch A is making $100,000 in profit per year – Branch B is making $185,000 in profit per year – and tomorrow we will have to say something intelligent as to why that is.
Before we can call one “better”, we need to dig. We also need to level the playing field. We have to get those businesses to look as much alike as possible.
This process always reminds me of something I learned (and admittedly no longer use) pertaining to fractions. Remember when you had to find a common denominator before the fractions were even allowed in the same room as one another? Same thing. Quite literally we need to find common denominators everywhere!
I need to know if the branches are in the same market.
If not, are they in comparable markets? (if not I need to make adjustments to the data in attempt to level-set)
I need to know how they’re preforming against themselves during the same period in the prior year.
I need to know what that profit looks like broken down by month.
Is it on an incline or decline?
Where are the patterns?
What are the leading indicators? What are the lagging indicators? Are external factors impacting both branches to the same degree?
How long has each branch been operating?
And those questions are just skimming the surface.
Order a round of Venti Triple Cappuccinos – we could analyze data all night!
Now let’s go back to Whole Foods – or FaceBook – or wherever your comparison weak spots are… do you ask ANY questions to validate your “conclusions”?
Or are you busy telling yourself a story to support your careless estimations?
It is said that COMPARISON is the thief of JOY. I say #preach.
Do we apply any of the measures we take when looking at a business into the conversation when looking at something in our day to day lives? Do we assess ourselves vs. the version of ourselves we were a year ago? Do we pat ourselves on the back for our positive trends and learn from our declining trends? Do we make adjustments based on external factors? Do we ever attempt to level set!?
Here’s why you’re absolutely guaranteed to fail when comparing any aspect of yourself to another – there is literally no way to level-set human experience.
While I can apply facts, figures, percentages, formulas and equations to get those two branches into the closest state of accurate measurement, there is no way to do this for people, relationships, possessions, perceived lifestyle and/or perceived levels of ‘happiness’ because there is no one, absolute, shared reference point.
Even comparing something as trivial and low-risk as our favorite movies is arguably pointless because I have not seen all of the movies that you’ve ever seen – and vice versa. Our reference points are inherently different – in EVERY aspect of our lives.
This is why I argue that judgements are lazy.
We see something that, on the surface, appears better than the reality we know intimately.
It’s apples to oranges.
…And if it were just a waste of time that would be problem enough! However we know the effects of judgment and comparison run much deeper than efficiency. Our self-worth and self-esteem are impacted on a daily (maybe even hourly!) basis. NEEDLESSLY!
I am not suggesting we stop comparing tomorrow – that sounds like a fast track to disappointment because we’ve been playing this game our whole lives. What I’m suggesting we consider is this: How many questions do we ask before making a comparison or judgement? How much accuracy do we demand from ourselves? How much effort do we put into leveling the field?
With each new urge to judge simply consider: Am I SURE this is apples to apples?
The additional questions may slow us down to help us realize the error in our ways.
Comparison is a nightmare. Judgement is lazy. And if we demand accuracy we’d learn there’s no such thing anyway.
“We don’t know who discovered water, but we know it wasn’t the fish.” – Marshall McLuhan*
Do you have a goal or dream that you’re ignoring because you’re not sure you’re worthy of it? Have you ever considered one of your aspirations only to think “but who am I to accomplish this?”
This is your wake-up call!
That goal or dream is yours for a reason! It’s calling you to fulfill it! And the fact that you have it, the reality that it ever danced across your brain, that’s the goals way of telling you “you’re enough!” and “start moving!”
Allow me to recap the serendipitous conversation that jolted me awake to this same conclusion…
I was chatting with a girlfriend and I was telling her about my attempt at starting this blog. I was explaining how it’s been a serious challenge to come up with topics to write about.
Luckily for me she replied with the BEST. THING. EVER.
She said “I know, I’ve thought about writing a blog too, but seriously, what would I even write about? Kindness!?”
The reason this was so helpful for me was because I would never in a million years think to write about kindness – and I still don’t intend to! Don’t get me wrong, kindness is fantastic and I am a fan! I just don’t care to be the Subject Matter Expert on Kindness – but she does!
She made that “but seriously, what would I write about?” comment so authentically that it was a total ‘fish didn’t discover water’ experience. My friend was innocently projecting her natural inclination and interests onto me (and the rest of the world)! I could practically hear her thought process of “writing about kindness wouldn’t make me special – anyone could write about kindness!” #mindblown.
So I started to wonder… how often do we keep quiet because we think “well surely everyone is thinking this”?
How many blog posts go unwritten because we shrug and ask ourselves “who wouldn’t write a blog about ‘kindness’?”
Me! I wouldn’t! So, please – you write it – we need you!
I feel like this epiphany has Seth Godin written all over it. This is my favorite quote from the book “Linchpin”:
And this is a quote that I have displayed on my vision board:
And yet even as I write this I am still working through it myself. It’s not easy to discover the water as a fish – but we must keep trying!
Are you ready to take on this challenge with me?
Consider these 4 steps to get started:
- Share your goals and dreams. Authentically share the things you expect people will hear and react with either a “well, duh, me too!” or a “you really think you can do that?!”
Ok. Right. That’s probably scary. So start small. Grab a trusted friend who’s into self-development too and do the exercise together! Each come up with something you feel is a “moonshot” and something you believe “everyone” (including you) wants. Share and see what happens. My guess is that you’ll end up learning something interesting about your friend and encouraging him/her to go after what they want! I bet that they’ll hold up that same mirror for you.
- Take steps (any steps) toward your goal! I believe we grossly overestimate the competition and underestimate ourselves. I think we also miscalculate the length of time and level of pain it will take to accomplish what we want. The only way to correct these errors in judgment is to step into the arena. See the competition firsthand and throw yourself into the training regimen. Don’t overthink. Just act. Just move. Remember, the very fact that the goal is whispering in your ear is reason enough… because that same goal is not whispering in mine!
- Practice intentionally taking a step back. Practice awareness of the water. Remember that the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable. Don’t dare let that go to waste!
- Embrace abundance. We need to know that there is ‘enough to go around’ in order for this to work!
If I operate from a place of lack (i.e.: there are a finite amount of goals that can ever be accomplished/wishes granted/dreams fulfilled) then I will believe that you accomplishing your goal decreases my odds of achieving mine.
I would guess this is one of the reasons we miss those golden opportunities for encouragement so often! If I project that you have the same dreams as me (if I believe you want to blog about ‘kindness’ too) and I believe there are a finite number of dreams fulfilled, then I will be less likely to be open with you about my plans, goals, and insecurities thereby giving you no opportunity to help and encourage me (and tell me that you don’t actually want to blog about ‘kindness’… at all).
When you understand and embrace abundance you understand that someone doing the exact same thing that you hope to do – even if they’re doing it with a greater skill level than you’re currently at – only increases your opportunities to be great!
The Backstreet Boys and N’Sync didn’t steal market share from one another… they expanded the market. (Forgive that ridiculous analogy… but I do think it applies.)
There are an unlimited number of dreams that can come true.
The world has made it so damn easy for you to be remarkable.
Please, do not settle.
Step back. Look for the water. Be you. You have work to do.
PEACE & LOVE.
*I know absolutely nothing about Marshall McLuhan so I am not certain if this is the correct attribution. I googled. This is what I came up with.
I love goals. I love setting them. I love writing them down. I love talking about them, checking them off, re-reading them, exceeding them… I love it all.
I was 24 years-old when I very randomly got my hands on the audio version of Brian Tracy’s Ultimate Goals Program. It was a game changer. I had never heard of Brian Tracy before and his message blew my mind! (Despite the direction I am going to turn in here, I highly highly recommend reading or listening to this work. I can’t stress that enough!)
As a result of Tracy’s program, I started writing down my goals on a semi-regular basis and then eventually adopted his full blown recommendation of listing your goals in the positive, personal, present-tense every single day without exception. I did this for years.
The results never disappointed. It wasn’t uncommon for me to find a ‘goals notebook’ from several years back, open to a random page, and realize that nearly everything I had set my intentions on had either come to pass or was on track with almost frightening accuracy.
Naturally, I wanted to share this positive experience so I gifted both the audio and written version of this book to a handful of people. Get me started on the subject of Brian Tracy and/or goal setting and I will happily and enthusiastically talk your ear off. This is my comfort zone. I am happy here. I am certain of the power of goal setting.
So imagine my surprised when I was chatting with a group of girlfriends this week and I completely blanked when the subject of long-term goals and ‘lasting legacy’ came up! My brain short circuited. It wouldn’t compute.
I know there are things that I want to do in the next 10 years (for example) but I don’t know where I want to be 10 years from now. Or, oddly enough, maybe I realized that part of me wants to be in the same place I am today. (That’s a trip!)
In trying to mentally reconcile why I could no longer wrap my arms around this concept I recognized that I may have abandoned the idea of a ‘destination’ altogether. I don’t know when it happened but I suppose along the way between that first audiobook and today I acquired and blended different ideas about the world that have reshaped my once solid “10 Year Plan”.
Those ideas that I have collected include (but I’m sure are not limited to):
I no longer personally feel that there is a finite end. There’s an end to ‘earth school’ as Gary Zukav (author of “Seat of the Soul” among other works) calls it, but I don’t feel like I’m up against a deadline.
In the same manner that you do not have a finite amount of time to learn things in College, I don’t feel I have a timer placed on my ability to learn while in this ‘institution’. Sure, you may not pass the exam if you don’t learn the lesson by the end of the term, but life goes on. If it’s a lesson you need, it’ll present itself again. You’ll learn once you need to apply it. You’ll get there if you must.
I am sincerely working on adopting a mantra of “It Won’t Make Me Happy.” In order to enforce (and reinforce) the truth that if it is external, it is fleeting at best.
At one time I really wanted a Kayak. I wrote it down every day. I lived near the water. I thought it was unfathomably oppressive to live on the water and not own a Kayak. I finally got it. I think it was yellow. There was a particularly fun (sarcasm) incident where it repeatedly fell off the roof of my car. I used it a few times but never got it out of the harbor. I left the Kayak in New York when I moved. The fulfillment literally could not have been more fleeting. Goal accomplished. (And it’s not the kayaks fault. The examples are endless)
My Universe is occurring inside of me – and yours inside of you. Nothing I can ‘leave’ (in terms of legacy) will mean anything to you unless I can affect you to become more aligned with you because nothing outside of you And if my affecting you is about me and what I’ve affected… it has no value anyway. (I know, it’s trippy.)
Your universe is all about you. You don’t need me to ‘leave’ you anything.
When I think of 10 years from now I imagine that I’ll want the exact same things I want now. I believe I’ll also want these things in 9 years, 11 years, and tomorrow at 3:07pm.
The opportunity to be creative
To choose love
To show up
To feel productive
To do “the work”
To solve puzzles
To breathe deeply
To feel free
None (not one) of the words on that list ever landed on a ‘goals page’for me.
That’s not to say that they couldn’t! Or shouldn’t! Maybe I’ll take this new perspective right back to the habits I created at 25… it’s probably not a bad call!
But what the recent “10 Year Plan” conversation revealed to me is that I’ve found unexpected and deep appreciation for ‘goals’ that cannot be scratched out in a notebook or stored in a closet.
I don’t want to “get there” with any of the above these feelings or ideas.
I don’t want to solve the puzzles and then rest.
I don’t want to contribute and then retire.
I want to be present in those ways every day. If you ask me today, that feels like the ultimate achievement.
There is an annoying cliché (I’m sure you’ve heard it) that “Happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of life” and (begrudgingly) I can’t help but agree.
(Side note: I’m aware that I find clichés annoying because they’re overused. I am acutely aware that they’re overused because they’re so friggin tried and true.)
It’s simply not a destination for me anymore. I can no longer draw the map. I am throwing out my 10 Year Plan and trading it in for a daily internal/emotional inventory. I’ll continue to accomplish things along the way because it’s fun – and why not? Let’s test the limitlessness of manifestation! And no disrespect to the brilliant Brian Tracy as I suspect he learned this lesson long before I did – but I have a new Ultimate Goals Program – and it feels a lot like wholehearted living.
PEACE & LOVE.
Twice this week I have been asked about positive and negative thought patterns. “How do I think more positive thoughts?” “Why do I perseverate on the bad, annoying and negative things?” (BTW ‘perseverate’= her word, not mine. I thought it was an autocorrect situation until I received a follow-up text with the dictionary.com screen shot. Thank you. Always learning.)
Although this is a very broad question it is important and valid. While I think the best suggestions and recommendations on this topic can be individualized, the following is my attempt at some one-size-fits-most potential solutions. But first, some housekeeping:
Housekeeping item #1: It is so natural to have negative thoughts! Unfortunately, it’s as if our culture demands it. In my humble opinion (and this is all just that – my opinion) there is nothing wrong with you for having negative thoughts! Let me repeat: There is nothing wrong with you.
This is important to grasp this because if you’re dipping a toe into the pool of ‘maybe I want to consciously try to shift my thoughts to the positive’, things are going to get uglier before they get clearer. So make sure you’re not beating yourself up for having thoughts that do not serve your highest good. We all have them! Thinking this is a ‘problem’ will only give us an additional thought to shift later – so please, be kind to yourself!
Housekeeping item #2: Every thought holds an energy and there are only two choices – love, and fear. There is no neutral. What you perceive to be neutral is probably fear just ‘doin it’s thang’ to trick you into keeping it around.
In saying this I do not mean to suggest you’re always thinking about “romance” or “things that frighten you”. On the contrary “fear” thoughts come in the shape of: Worry, Jealousy, Lack, Anger, Bitterness, Resentment, Frustration, Stress, Anxiety, Desire, Gossip, Judgment – and so forth. Thoughts that are rooted in “love” present themselves as: Joy, Peace, Gratitude, Serenity, Service, Creativity, Courage, Tolerance, Abundance, Health, Vitality, Freedom, Oneness, Faith, Hope, etc.
Love or fear. That’s it. Keep that in mind for later.
Housekeeping item #3: BRAVO for asking the question of how to shift thoughts from negative/neutral to positive (from fear to love) because your thoughts shape the way you experience your life! So this subject has major implications and fantastic potential upside! This is work worth doing! Whatever you focus on (think about) EXPANDS and MANIFESTS – so let’s get rocking and make sure that you’re expanding, manifesting, and experiencing as much love & positivity as possible!
Before we can shift we must DISTINGUISH.
Distinction is powerful. Once you can distinguish something you are in the driver’s seat. If we want to control our thoughts we must first learn to really notice them. (I find creating a meditation or mindfulness practice the best way to equip yourself to do this – you can start with as little as 3 minutes per day and I have several posts on how to do this – but if that’s not your jam, I understand.)
To shift your thoughts you must develop enough self-disciple and self-awareness to be able to metaphorically stop a thought in its tracks, pick it up, examine it, and label it (honestly) as fear or love.
You’ll want to slip on your sleuth shoes and look for patterns. Are the negative thoughts/self-talk surrounding the same subject or subjects? Are they occurring at a particular time each day? If you’re serious about improving your state of mind I would carry a small notebook and jot down your observations. In business as in life, I am a steadfast proponent of “whatever we measure always improves.”
Once you’ve brought awareness to your patterns we can begin to try on some potential solutions.
3 Strategies to Consider for Shifting Self-Talk: Eliminate, Restructure, Override
It is possible that you’ll notice that your negative self-talk or thought patterns derive from a particular subject. If that’s the case you may want to put some serious thought into eliminating that subject matter from your life altogether.
Here’s an example from my own discovery: In developing a mindfulness practice and tuning into my thoughts I noticed that I had a lot of negative noise surrounding alcohol. If I woke up after a night of drinking my morning self-talk would be absolutely consumed with this conversation: “OK so I had two beers at that first bar… but we were there for at least two hours… so that was spaced out well… and then we had that bottle of wine at dinner which we probably split equally. How much did that bottle of wine cost? Oh and that shot. Right. Why do we ever take shots? But I think I feel fine. Right? Or am a little foggy? I wish I could tell. I really shouldn’t drink on weeknights…” This would go on for hours. Literally. Sometimes days. So finally I did the only thing I knew would stop that conversation for good – I eliminated alcohol.
I am NOT suggesting you stop drinking alcohol to produce more positive thoughts! I know plenty of people who can go to happy hour and NOT engage in this conversation with themselves the next morning. I am not one of them. All I am suggesting here is that by eliminating the subject matter of the energy draining conversation, the energy draining conversation seizes to exist.
Unfortunately, elimination may not always be possible. If your negative noise is produced by work or school (for example) and you’re not in the position to quit or make significant changes, you’ll need an alternative solution.
Chances are your negative thoughts are in one of two formats – either statements or leading questions.
I am going to take a page straight from Tony Robbins’ playbook here and suggest that if you cannot eliminate the thoughts you restructure them.
Negative statements are garbage. They are declarations that “This is the way life is. I have no control. I am a victim. I am a martyr.” Statements are a dead end. I picture your subconscious hearing them and, with a hopeless and deflated shrug, thinking ‘she wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true’. A negative declaration is like our sign to the subconscious that it’s cool to just roll over and play dead – and we can’t have that if we’re trying to build a positive life! We need our subconscious out there on the hunt for solutions on our behalf! And for this to occur we need to restructure and ask quality QUESTIONS!
Tony Robbins teaches that you only have a “problem” because you haven’t found a way to turn it into a quality question. Problems (and the negative self-talk associated with them) GO AWAY when you learn to reframe them.
“Quality” means that the question is structured without negative presuppositions. A negative declaration such as “this job totally sucks” does not get any better by reframing it as “why does this job totally suck?” – There’s a bit more heavy lifting involved.
Here are some of the questions that Tony suggests you ask:
- What’s great about this?
- What can I learn from this?
- What’s not perfect yet? (An example of a question with a positive presupposition)
- What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?
- How can I make this enjoyable in the meantime?
Again, if you’re truly committed to doing the work and shifting your thoughts, I recommend pulling out that little notebook, copying down these suggested questions, and writing out as many answers to each as possible. Something powerful happens when you physically put pen to paper. It’s worth a shot!
In short: Restructure negative statements into quality questions because complaining will just bring you more stuff to complain about whereas asking the right questions will inevitably bring you SOLUTIONS.
This final recommendation requires little to no effort on your part aside from just doing it (and doing it consistently if you hope to experience results).
It is impossible to hold a fear-based thought and a love-based thought at the same time so if you recognize the time of day or circumstances that bring on your most fear-based thoughts, simply employ a system to override them. A good defense is the best offense.
Here’s another personal example: I am a morning person. I wake up 1.5-2 hours on average before I actually “have to”. Since I live alone this means I am usually awake 3-3.5 hours before I am engaging in dialogue with other humans. This also means that I expose myself to 3-3.5 hours of internal dialogue each and every morning. Luckily, through the strategies above and the one I am about to explain I have turned this time in a serious competitive advantage for myself – but it wasn’t always this way.
When I began this work for myself I noticed that the influx of my negative thoughts happened first thing in the morning – literally starting when I opened my eyes. I noticed I would start my day in a very reactive state of “What time is it? Did I sleep too late? Do I have enough time to get ready?” and that stressed-out chatter would accompany me right into the shower, shifting form to mental to-do lists and worry. Finally, my dialogue took an even nastier tone when I was doing all those girly morning things like blow-drying my hair, putting on make-up, etc. Welcome to the scene insecurity, vanity, jealousy – yuck, yuck and more yuck.
I made the life changing decision to override it all!
For me, this starts with very intentional thoughts first thing in the morning. I do not allow myself to worry about sleeping too much or too little or any of that. I wake up and firmly tell myself that “I am grateful. I have plenty of time. There is nothing to worry about.”
(Then I write in my 5MJ to further ingrain the feelings of gratitude but I’m not going to get into my entire morning routine here – remember, it’s a 2-hour ordeal.)
When it’s time to get ready I turn on my shower speaker and play a positive podcast* while I shower and get ready. (*I will include a list of my favorite podcasts at the conclusion of this post.)
This may sound simple (well, good, it is simple) but it’s been a game changer for me.
If I am feeding my mind with positive and productive information I simply do not have the time or opportunity to entertain fear-based thoughts. (OK, we can be real – can my mind slip and wander? Sure. But with positive content flowing in the background, it is so simple to course-correct. I would wager that 90% of my thoughts are positive and love-based while listening to valuable content.)
Notice where your negative thoughts congregate. Is it in the morning? On your ride to work? On your commute home? Fear-based thoughts tend to creep in when we’re alone which is an opportune time to put on valuable audio, feed your brain with productive content and start your ‘override’.
Your thoughts create your life so I believe there is no work more worthwhile than this! Distinguish, Eliminate, Restructure, Override, rinse & repeat.
PEACE, LOVE & POSITIVE THOUGHTS!
*My favorite positive podcasts are: The Tim Ferris Show, Wanderlust Speakeasy, Revisionist History, Action Catalyst Podcast, Beautiful Writers Podcast, & Smart People Podcast. When it comes to podcasts the options are endless but these are my personal faves. I have never heard any complaining or negativity on any of these shows which is what you need to adamantly avoid if you’re using a podcast for the purposes listed above!
When it comes to goal setting and (perhaps more importantly) goal attainment, Self-Talk (ST) runs the show!
Consider these ways to bring awareness to your Self-Talk and make sure it’s acting in your favor as your secret weapon instead of conspiring against you as your saboteur…
See if this resonates:
We want to set a new goal. Let’s call it an exercise routine because, well, almost everyone has been there. Let’s assume that we want to start an exercise routine because we’re hoping to see some kind of result – call it weight loss. So we decide that we will work out 4 days per week for 45 minutes per day. (*disclaimer – this is not a ‘how to set a goal to lose weight’ post… I definitely have thoughts on that too – but this is about our ST)
ST likes this goal because it’s not daily! She says: “Daily would be hard! Ugh we seriously hate exercise!”
This is what we want to bring awareness to! She’s at it already – telling us how hard this is going to be and we haven’t even begun!
So we wake up on Monday ready to start tackling our goal of 4x/week workouts. Maybe we achieve it on Monday! Maybe we even succeed week that first week… but at some point (fairly early on for most) we break a commitment to ourselves and ST starts saying things like:
“Well, I worked out Monday and Thursday… but now it’s the weekend… What day of the week does the week actually start on? Maybe I can work out Sunday and Monday and that’s kind of the same thing… 4 out of 8 days… that’s close to 4x/week… Ugh I knew this would be hard.”
She’s totally in the “push” position.
We have to push her to keep the commitment – to hit the goal – she’s definitely not our cheerleader. We have set her up for failure and as such she’s doing the same right back to us. No good.
So how do we make her our secret weapon?
Here is the often counter-intuitive answer:
We want to set a new goal – exercise – weight loss – you know the deal. Let’s start by thinking about something that would be a lay-up to accomplish but for whatever reason we’re not currently doing it. Maybe this is something we enjoy doing (for example, if you dig dancing maybe you commit to dancing to two songs every night before you brush your teeth) or maybe it’s something that’s so easy it would be hard not to stick to it (like 15 jumping jacks every morning). Something that makes ST say: “Well yeah, we can totally do that, but is it really going to help us lose weight?!”
Bingo. That’s where we want her! The first half of her statement is beautiful… don’t worry about the second half just yet.
Stick to the easy and/or enjoyable goal for a few weeks. If you’re Type-A like I am, make yourself a check list and make a mark each day to signify that you kept your commitment.
John C Maxwell famously said: “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
If you really want to conquer something, make it a habit! Make it a DAILY goal! It is exponentially easier to figure out how to fit in 15 minutes of “X” every day than it is to try to schedule 30 minutes of “X” every other day or 45 minutes of “X” every third day. The more “mental math” is involved, the more at risk you are of not following through.
(And to scientifically define “mental math”, it sounds like this: “What day is it? Wednesday? Did I do “X” Monday? Or was that Sunday? If I skip it today I could do twice as much…” No. No. No. That is awful. That is sabotage.)
So at “easy/enjoyable and daily” goals ST may be our ally, but how do we turn her into our secret weapon? Simple. It happens organically with momentum.
Because I am not a dance-before-teeth-brushing kind of girl, I’m going to run with the jumping jacks example…
Here’s our scenario. We commit to 15 jumping jacks every morning without exception. We tell all of our friends who might be with us in the mornings so that they expect this and encourage us.
(Oh. I don’t mean like friends around the office Keurig – although the more the merrier – I really mean the people who sometimes wake up next to us… our spouses, significant others, family members… or whatever else you’re into. Not judging. Just keep your commitments!)
We print out a Word template calendar and stick it on our fridge to track our victories… and then we rock and roll! This is so easy that we can’t NOT do it. Even if we have some crazy circumstance in the morning we can always knock out 15 JJs before bedtime and call it a win. With every successfully completed session of jumping our ST whispers a little “yes!” Each check mark on the calendar gets a “woohoo!” Sure, she may know this is easy but let her revel in it for a few weeks! Give her some EASY WINS!
Eventually she’ll bite the bullet and say: “You know… we can really do a little more than this. If we added 10 pushups to the 15 jumping jacks it wouldn’t take but a minute more…”
And now she’s in the PULL position!
Every goal is easier to attain when our ST is positive. Positive ST boosts our self-esteem and improves the way we feel – and the feeling of accomplishing is not much different than the accomplishing itself. It’s hard to have one without the other.
This can be applied to all facets of your life. From weight loss to business to literally anything you want to improve. Small incremental changes that seem too easy to matter lead to improved self-talk which will propel you to bigger changes AND improved self-concept.
THAT’S what happens when you take charge of your ST in relation to goal setting and put her to work for you!
Credibility is huge.
No matter what role you’re currently in, if you are interacting with other human beings you will probably be best served by having a reputation of credibility.
Regardless of the company name on your business card, in the modern day world of transparency made possible by social media sites such as LinkedIn, your results will largely depend on your personal brand.
In this post I will share what I believe to be the simplest way to build credibility – it takes little (or no) extra time of effort, it is extremely effective and it is often times overlooked.
First, some housekeeping. My intention is not to help you trick people into believing you’re more credible than you are. If you habitually underdeliver – clean that up. That is no way to nurture relationships or profits so fix that, stat.
Glad we straightened that out. Now you’re ready. Here it is – the fastest, simplest, most effective way to strengthen your personal brand by building trust and credibility – drum roll please….
Tell your clients where and when to expect you – and then show up there.
Tell your clients where and when to expect you, keep your word, and show up. Jackpot. (For realz tho.)
I don’t mean solely in the physical realm – as in, “Katie, I will meet you at 12:00pm in front of the Starbucks on Main Street” and then be there (although, yeah, do that too), I mean in every sense. For example, be specific about the date and time and you’re going to send the email with the proposal – and then send it at that date and time.
And herein lies the magic as well as the missed opportunity…
Let’s run through three scenarios pretending that you are my prospective client:
It’s Monday afternoon and we just finished a lunch meeting. As we’re getting ready to part ways I sincerely thank you for the meeting and the opportunity to partner. I close by telling you “I’ll shoot that proposal over to you!”
You say “Perfect!” We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.
I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.
You walk into your office and tell your CEO that you think this partnership could really work – and that you should have my proposal later today.
BUT WAIT. I didn’t say later today! I didn’t say anything! I left it open ended because, truthfully, I’m not really sure when I’ll get to it. That’s fine, right? Can’t under-deliver on a non-promise, right?
This time I close by telling you “I’ll get that proposal over to you by noon on Wednesday, would that work for you?”
You say “Perfect!” We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.
I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.
You walk into your office and tell your CEO that you think this partnership could really work well and that you’ll have my proposal on Wednesday.
I close by telling you “I’ll get that proposal over to you!”
You say “Perfect!” We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.
I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.
You pull out your iPhone so that you can post a picture of your lunch on Instagram and ‘check-in’ to the restaurant we just dined at via Facebook.
Let’s say in all three scenarios you receive my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday.
Here’s how the ‘credibility set-up’ (or lack thereof) plays out in reality:
In scenario “A” I was not specific and you interpreted my closing statement to mean “Proposal. Immediately. Top priority.”
If you get my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday you may perceive me as a slacker. In a best case scenario you might email me politely Tuesday morning asking where the document is (in which case I actually make perceive you as a nag!) In worst case you may have already moved on to another provider feeling slighted.
I didn’t tell you when to expect me so chances are when I arrive on my timeline, it’ll be out of whack with your expectations.
In scenario “B” I was very specific – you’ll have the proposal by noon on Wednesday.
If you get my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday I am a hero! I’m on my game! I’m EARLY! … and I get bonus points if I include in my email some language that references “I know I said I’d have this to you by noon tomorrow but I am really excited about working together. I reorganized some things on my end so that I could get it over to you a little sooner.”
Same result (proposal arrives at 3:34pm Tuesday), totally different impact (I’m a hero).
Another important thing to note – I am JUST as credible if this document hits your inbox by 11:59am on Wednesday. No need to come in a day early… but if you’re able, why not?
In scenario “C” I wasn’t specific and you probably don’t care. I would call this a “neutral” position.
Is there big risk here? No. But is there any opportunity for reward? Not really.
The only thing required for me to earn the coveted deposit in the credibility bank is that I say where I will be and I show up there. So in scenario “C” I haven’t hurt myself – but I haven’t helped myself either. This is a common example of a missed opportunity.
The specifics make all the difference.
It’s imperative to create alignment early and often with prospects and clients. If you think it’s not possible for your prospect to take your “I’ll shoot that proposal over to you!” to mean “within the hour” you are sorely mistaken.
As a rule of thumb, every time you’re NOT specific imagine that the prospect has taken your statement to mean “immediately” and the clock has already begun ticking. Is that fair? Maybe not. Is that the case 100% of the time? No, it certainly isn’t. But why risk it?
Implementing this strategy just takes practice. Demand specificity from yourself on all deadlines, commitments, and next steps. Leave nothing open for interpretation.
And when you leave without being specific (as you will… as I still do) call the prospect back ASAP.
Make the call as you’re driving away from the restaurant and say “Hey Katie, I’m so sorry. I know I just said I’d ‘get that proposal to you’ but I should have been clearer. I plan to have it to you by noon on Wednesday, does that work?”
That one minute phone call is a priceless opportunity to earn a deposit in the credibility bank… and avoid a potential deduction!
Almost everyone you know is lying.
They’re lying to you, and they’re lying to themselves.
You’re doing it too!
And yes, I’m guilty as well.
Our widely told, widely accepted, and seriously limiting lie sounds like this:
“I’m just too busy”
“I don’t have any time”
“I really need to find more time”
That’s right. I’m calling it to the carpet. “BUSY” is bullshit.
Saying you’re busy is like saying you’re breathing. It’s so universal that it’s completely useless. Please show me a person who doesn’t believe they’re “busy”. The word is so overused that it’s basically nonsense.
Saying you don’t “have any time” is even more absurd. In many ways ‘time’ is the great equalizer because we all “have” (or “don’t have”) the exact same amount of it. There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 365 days in a year… I mean, you probably know. This is true for everyone currently on the planet as well as everyone who has ever lived. The fact of the matter is that you “have” the same exact amount of time as Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Oprah Winfrey, and (as my mug says) Beyoncé.
In addition, I have never once been walking down the street and looked down to find a ‘minute’ lying around – spare change, yes. Minutes, no. You can’t enter a lottery or compete on a game show and win more hours in your day, so where are we all planning on “finding” more time?
Saying that you’re “busy” or that you “don’t have time” implies a lack of control over your life. You paint yourself as a victim – that’s why the busy lie is truly a limiting belief in disguise.
Just because it is widely told and widely accepted does not mean it is not holding you back!
Take control! Stop telling this lie! Embrace the mantra: “Busy is bullshit.”
In no scientific or certain terms, here is what I believe happens when we say that we are “too busy”. Let’s pretend (for example) that you and I are discussing starting a daily meditation practice and you tell me you “really want to” but you’re “just too busy”.
During this dialogue exchange your brain hears something about the daily meditation and thinks ‘Oh, yeah! That would be so good for us!’ but then is quickly thereafter stopped dead in its thought process-tracks by hearing that limiting word: “busy”.
Your brain hears your declaration of “busy” and takes it seriously.
You automatically switch to victim mode. To “lack” mentality. To a place of “not enough”. This is a dangerous mental space to live in! Nothing can grow here!
Here’s the trick: If you were instead to say “I really want to start a meditation practice but I don’t know how I’d fit it into my morning routine” you bring a whole different energy and set of possibilities to this conversation.
I believe that your brain hears that sentence and takes it as a directive rather than a declaration. It’s like you’re asking your subconscious to work on a difficult math problem while you go about your day. Your brain is suddenly deployed on a mission. You’re in a place of possibilities. A place of codes to crack and options to consider. A place of control! This is where ideas blossom!
I’m not suggesting you wake up tomorrow and throw open your bedroom windows while singing to the woodland creatures about all your free time as if you’re in a Disney movie. That’s a place of delusion. That’s not the point.
There is a happy medium.
You will be better served by not defaulting to the common cop out of busy-ness. Stop being a victim and start getting real. Think about whatever task you’re denying yourself because you “don’t have time” for it.
Is it important to you?
Then make it happen. You’re NOT “too busy”.
And if it’s not a priority or you’re “just not that into it,” say so! Claim control. This is your life. It’s not happening to you, it’s happening because of you!
And when it IS important but you just don’t know how you’ll get it done, just sit with that. Try owning one of these responses:
“I don’t know how I’ll fit that in”
“I want to make this happen I am just not sure how yet”
“I’ll probably need to move things around”
“I need to think about how to make it work”
“I don’t know where to start”
Feel the energy of the above statements and how it differs from the energy of “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy.” This is a simple semantics switch that packs some serious power.
Ready to try it? Good!
First learn to hear yourself. Listen for the B-word. (This takes practice). When you catch it just immediately say out loud (or to yourself depending on the age of surrounding ears) “busy is bullshit.”
Break up with “busy” for good and start realizing all the things you’re able to make possible!
PEACE, LOVE & POSSIBILITIES.
If you already have a solid meditation practice – Rock on! If you want to create a practice but haven’t been able to get started – READ on!
Here are the three things that tripped me up most when trying to create this valuable habit & how I overcame them:
- I was under the misconception that in order to “meditate” I needed to “clear my mind”
I am Type-A, self-diagnosed with more-than-a-touch of OCD, and I am most comfortable in fast paced environments – which makes me impatient.For me, I am fairly certain that “clearing my mind” is not something that is going to happen. Ever.
Setting a goal to ‘clear my mind’ was setting me up for failure.
But I thought that was how the whole meditating thing worked…?
So I failed at it, avoided it, and ultimately chalked it up as something better suited for a different kind of person – probably someone who surfs more and showers less than I do.
What I have now learned is that ‘clearing my mind’ is not the aim of mediation (not for me anyway).
At first I would sit in meditation and it wasn’t much different than sitting, well, not-in-meditation. My thoughts would come rapidly, my mind would wander, and nothing special seemed to be happening. (More on this ‘nothing special’-ness in point #2) As I have become more consistent in my practice I find that meditating doesn’t stop me from having thoughts but instead allows me to notice them.
I visualize this as if my thoughts were attached to clouds by a clothes pin. Each cloud passing through with its own individual clothes-pinned thought in tow. Once the thought comes into focus I have the choice to keep it hovering and explore it in more detail or to give it a gentle push and send it floating on its way. I mentally thank the non-productive thought-cloud for stopping by and ask it to please continue on its journey. No room for you here right now, negative thought. Peace out.
I have learned how to better distinguish my thoughts – both during meditation and in the ‘real world’. Once you can distinguish what something is you dramatically increase the control you have over it.
I am a firm believer that there are only two things that impact the way we experience life: our thoughts and our habits. This habit (meditating) offers me more control over my thoughts and, therefore, my LIFE.
I had to take the important step of changing my expectation to gain that control. Expecting to clear my thoughts would never have gotten me here. Expecting instead to notice my thoughts = game changer.
- I thought something was supposed to “happen”
The first time you exercise you do not instantly transform into perfect health.
The first time you make a positive change in a financial habit you are not instantly wealthy.
Why do we expect that the first time we meditate we’ll feel instantly zen? Or expect something to “happen”?
Sure it’s possible to feel more relaxed right away just like it’s possible to feel stronger after your first session back to the gym, but neither scenarios guarantee the corresponding sensation, and if you do feel something immediately that feeling is just the tip of the iceberg.
The game changing key for me here was to just stick with it. The commitment was critical.
I started with a 40 day commitment and all I required of myself was to just ‘show up’. Just show up and try every day for 40 days. Do not judge. Do not try to be perfect. Do not look for the “something” to “happen”.
My favorite quote on commitment and consistency is from Darren Hardy’s book “The Compound Effect”. In this particular paragraph Darren is expanding on a quote by Jim Rohn. I love this and I repeat it to myself often:
“What’s simple to do is also simple not to do. The magic is not in the complexity of the task; the magic is in the doing of simple things repeatedly and long enough to ignite the miracle of the Compound Effect. So, beware of neglecting the simple things that make the big things in your life possible. The biggest difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are not. Remember that; it will come in handy many times throughout life when faced with a difficult, tedious, or tough choice.”
This framework can (and should) be applied to basically everything in life and it was important for me to take this to my meditation pillow. I had to learn that the magic will “happen” if you keep showing up.
- I was pretty sure I didn’t have “time” to meditate
I have a standard-to-extensive morning ‘getting ready’ routine for a 30 something girl who likes hair and makeup. I have never once in my adult life had an experience of getting ready ‘too quickly’. I’ve never looked at my watch and thought – I’ll just sit on the couch for a few minutes and watch ___ (whatever adults watch – news? Not my cup of tea anyway but, you know.)
My point is it’s not like premeditation me was strategizing how to fill all of her extra time in the morning! I had a window of time in the morning and my morning routine filled that window exactly. Believe it or not there’s actually a term for this: Parkinson’s Law.
Parkinson’s Law states that a task will expand so as to fill the time available for its completion.
Parkinson’s Law is part of the reason that nobody feels like they “have time” for anything, but it’s simply not true.
We have time for what we prioritize. We have time for what’s important to us.
This one is tricky with meditation because for us to bother to ‘make time’ (as if it’s something we manufacture) for it we have to believe it’s important.
Marianne Williamson frequently relates meditation to bathing. We bathe every morning because we find it unacceptable/inappropriate to go into a new day with yesterdays ‘dirt’ on our bodies. Once we realize the power and benefit or meditation we realize it’s equally unacceptable/inappropriate to go into a new day with yesterdays ‘dirt’ on our minds.
You wouldn’t forego showering or brushing your teeth in the morning and justify it by telling yourself you don’t have time. You’d take the task into consideration when planning your morning. You’d wake up at a time that would to allow you to get it all done.
I had (have) time. So do you.
If you’re looking to start a meditation practice (and I wholeheartedly recommend that you do!) try keeping these three points in mind:
- You do not have to ‘clear your mind’
- It’s working even if you don’t “feel” anything the first (or second, or third) time
- Commit to a time frame and stick to it
- Be easy with yourself – just commit to ‘showing up’ and let the rest flow naturally
- You have the time (as long as it’s important to you)
I have had many girlfriends tell me “Oh yeah, meditation, I’ve tried it a few times and it’s never worked.” My answer? “I could say the same thing about dating but it’s not going to stop me from trying again” 😉
PEACE, LOVE & MEDITATIVE MORNINGS