Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Finish Line is really a Dotted Line?

The Finish Line is a Dotted Line

 

 

Why is it from the time we are children we are always striving to reach the next milestone. We can’t wait to lose our baby teeth, only to find we look silly and can’t successfully chew.

Reaching double digits comes next accompanied by gaining entry to a coveted seat at the grown up table. Where consequently we are introduced to chores and responsibilities and often where the conversation is quite boring!

Fast forward, we speed through our high school years. Our new focus becomes getting accepted into to the college of our dreams. We are warned by our family, teachers and trusted advisers that these are the best times of our lives. We do not heed their warnings and fail to truly savor the simplicity of the time.

We then become excited for college graduation. This is when real life will begin! We will build up our resumes, network and interview like a madman and woman. The next thing we know we are drones on the train station platform, ordering coffee on auto pilot, and entering the Monday morning rat race.

Finally comes grown up life. True independence; life on one’s own terms. In reality this means mortgages, bills, car payments and more. Often this is followed by cohabitation or marriage. “If only I was in a relationship and had kids then my life would really start,” might become the next goalpost or mantra. Like all other milestones, does anything truly prepare you for this? Who provides you with the warning labels and fine print?

So net net my dear reader is this; whether you are 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50, in Childhood, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, Marriage, Divorce, Parenthood or Old-Age, the one thing you can undoubtedly count on is that life will continue to raise the stakes.

What are you going to do when life throws you a curve ball? Are you going to lie down and take it or are you going to raise the bar?

One can never truly know what life has in store; nevertheless, you need to be prepared to face each challenge head on. Always bear in mind that adversity bares vast opportunity.

Here are my favorite tips for dealing with life’s ebbs, flows, curve balls and bombshells while continuing to raising the bar:

1. Recognize the signs:

Get real, life does not usually fall apart overnight. There are signs. Do not ignore the red flashing lights from the runway.

2. Read between the lines:

Look for the hidden signs. They are there, you just might not be looking hard enough.

3. Be realistic:

Face reality. Whatever the facts are deal with them head on.

4. Get some rest:

Change is exhausting. Get some rest and by all means schedule in some fun!

5. Save yourself first:

When you get on a plane they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first. This is good advice. If you are ok, you will have the strength to do what needs to be done. You can then help those around you get up to pace and follow your lead.

6. Practice Self-Care:

This is no time to let yourself go! Make sure to continue or adopt self-care rituals that helps revive and rebuild your energy stores. Exercise, Eat Well, Walk with a friend, Spend time outdoors, get a massage, and fill in the blank:_______!
7. Fake it till you make it:

My late Aunt Phyllis taught me that if I did not know how to play tennis to get a great tennis outfit, learn how to jump over the net and then get lessons. “You will catch on” she explained.

I do this with everything in life. I decide what I want to do or be next and then I the figure it out in the trenches. Consequently I always get there!
8. Be Your Personal Best:

Learn, Explore, Read, Stay Relevant, Repeat …………
9. Outsourcing and Lifelines:

If someone offers to help you thank them and say yes! You do not have to be a hero. I have not done a load of laundry or a stich of housework in the two years that I went back to school to change my career. Relinquishing control is difficult, but necessary. Something has to give!
10. Let go:

There are things that you will need to let go of along your journey. These may be people, places and things. You cannot be all things to all people. You cannot divide yourself too thin or you will lose focus and you may not succeed. Remember you are the one on the Journey and you are the one that is undergoing Transformation. Trust the process. Let others catch up.

11. Contact & Thank your Supporters & Personal Board:
You put a Personal Board together for a reason – this is it! During times of transformation you need your closest supporters and accountability partners the most. They will keep you going, talk you off the ledge, cheer you on, and be your best sounding boards. All this, while keeping you honest and sane.

My grandfather taught me at a young age the importance of finding the people you admired the most in life and your career and bringing them into your inner circle. More importantly I learned on my own that in order to have a good friend you needed to be a good friend. I value my close relationships above all else in life, and give relationships my all. I treasure each and every one of you. You all know who you and I know you are reading this. Thank you, Thank you, Thank You!
12. Welcome New and Fabulous Fellow Travelers!

Wow, the people you will meet! Doctor Seuss might have said this first but boy was he right. I have met the greatest people during my transition into my new career. When I walked into NYU that first Sunday morning two years ago I did not realize the door I was truly opening. I have met the greatest people, some I believe to be lifelong friends. Through opening up to new networking opportunities I have again met fabulous people, joined a board and again made fantastic new friends. I have had lunches and coffee dates that have been like warm comfortable sweaters and long deep exhales. Yes, there are people out there that will truly get you, and get what you are going through. Be open to them and let them in. Your will expand and new opportunities will be endless.

13. Steal and savor all and any Peaceful Connected Moment:

I coined the phrase Peaceful Connected Moment when I had small children. By definition a Peaceful Connected Moment, is a very small window of time when the wheels stop, the noise in your mind slows if only for a moment, and you can savor a moment of quiet peace and contemplation.

You will know when one arises. Learn to recognize it, and enjoy.

14. Be willing to take a risk:

At the end of the day, when the preparation, contemplation, and analyzing is over, you must be willing to roll the dice. (I can’t take credit for this, it came from a board member)

You must trust the “Net Will Appear” -Zen Saying

or

“Learn to Swim or Build a Boat” me

15. Let go of dead weight (kindly), but beware of the carnage:
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When you emerge from the rubble and dust yourself off, not everyone will be there to cheer you when you take your victory lap. This is ok. The ones that are supposed to be there will and the ones that aren’t won’t. That’s life.
You will survive.
My life has imploded and I have reinvented myself so many times, I can hardly recognize myself. This is a good thing; adversity has brought me great opportunity! I have been knocked down and have gotten up each time from my face down in the ring moments stronger, wiser and more resilient from the fight. I have faced adversity and won. I have raised the bar each time and clearly understand there is no finish line or end game in sight. There are only targets, goals and lots and lots of surprises. I am excited for every new challenge. Bring them on, I’m ready willing and able!

I challenge you to do the same.

Tips for Firing Your Inner Critic; Well Maybe Not?

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I used to wish I could fire my inner critic.  You know the little voice that comes out at the most inopportune times.  For Instance, when we are about to go into a meeting, address a room, write a paper or meet someone new.  It reminds us that we are not good enough, strong enough, smart enough or any other similar negative dialog.

 What do you mean you are saying? Not me! I don’t have an imaginary nay-Sayer!

To that I challenge we all know we have one!

I spent many years of my life oblivious to mine. I never realized how much it was interfering with my ability to reach my full potential.  When I finally came to grips with its existence, I only wanted to find a method to make it go away!

With deeper understanding and introspection, I am beginning to change my tune.  What if I could come to grips with its existence, understand its origins and gain a deeper understanding of the essence of their message? Wouldn’t this be ultimate freedom? Could I heed its warning, yet move forward anyway? Wouldn’t this help me gain perspective and resilience?  Could I use these small victories to become a stronger person and ultimately reach my true potential?

I decided the answer to this question was a resounding yes.   This deeper insight gave me the power to embark on the path to make this invisible enemy my friend and adviser.

 Here are my tips for embracing your Inner Critic:

 1. Catch your critic in the act!

 When are you visited most by you inner critic? Is there a specific pattern?  Do they come out when you are lonely, hungry or tired? Is it when you write a report? Do they sneak up on you at a meeting? Tap you on the shoulder on dates, at parties or when you meet new people? Do they give fashion tips as you dress in the morning? Perhaps they try and trip you when you take a new exercise class or open the refrigerator?

Recognizing the patterns will heighten your awareness and provide the ability to be prepared.

 2. Become an intuitive listener!

 What is your inner critic trying to say? Is the message always the same? Does the inner dialog change with the circumstances? Is there validity to the words? Perhaps a lesson to be learned? Is this inner voice a warning of danger ahead?

 The message can be utter nonsense or maybe a call to action.

 3. Notice the surroundings and circumstances that bring them out of hiding!

What patters are starting to surface?  Do they visit you most at work or at home. Do they torment you when you are out with you friends or on dates? Torture you when you step out of your comfort zone?  Exercise influence at mealtime or sabotage your new workout regime? Is it their habit to spoil family dinners and visits? Mess up your vacation? Show up when you present or perform?

With a sharper lens of acute awareness the patterns will emerge. Take note and notice their effect on you.

 4. Consider who or what do they remind you of?

Dig deep.  What is being triggered?  What memories come to the surface?  Do they bring you back to your college days, the high school cafeteria or all the way back to the elementary school playground?  Maybe you are brought back to grandma’s kitchen, the dining room table or battling your sibling or the bully who lived up the block.

If the message is eerily familiar and oddly holds the same negative charge today then in the past understanding the origin will help put it into new perspective.

 5. Describe them and bring them to life!

 Here is your opportunity to be creative!

Draw a mental picture or grab a pen and bring them to life!  Use a much detail as possible. This will give you the strength required to face your tormentor head on.

 6. Give them a name.

This will also help defuse their effect. By humanizing them they will lose their power to catch you off guard. You can remind yourself that this character is here solely to block your path and steer you off your game.

Perhaps through clear and honest recognition while truly embracing their presence they can actually propel you farther?

 7. Arm yourself by creating two or three things you can say to send them packing!

 8. List two or three things you can do or say to embrace their existence.

My inner critic is a Tasmanian devil  that shows up most when I write, meet new people and present. Things that today I believe are my strongest attributes.

I call it Sandy, after the Hurricane that threatened to destroy some many lives.

It stands over my shoulder when I write to caution me, “You can’t write that” or “No one wants to read that”! It messes up my papers and jumps on my keyboard when I persist.

It spills coffee on my notes before I present and then does its best to psyche me out before networking events.

Today I  “Thank it for its concern” but tell it “I am going to publish this anyway” and take my chances.  When it tries to break my confidence before I present I remind it “I got this” and reflect on my last positive presentation.

So, as you see, through developing a deeper understanding of the origins and messages of my Inner Critic, today I choose to make them my muse instead of my nemesis!

It is now my inspiration. The little voice that reminds me that I can do anything.  It is that pesky yet persistent voice that makes me do spell check one more time and inspires me to create the best work possible.

It now stands right next to me or takes a seat in the front row when I present. It pushes me out of the door to step out of my comfort zone and enter a room of strangers.

Through finally embracing its existence I have become the best version of myself.  By understanding and honoring its message I have ultimately been able to break free.

I encourage you to do the same.

Transition to Transformation: Tip for Navigating Change

 

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The world is moving at a very fast pace. What are you doing to keep in step?
Every day we hear of corporate mergers, downsizing and restructures. What actions are you taking to rewrite your script to ensure you do not wind up on the cutting room floor?

Did you choose to stay home devoting your energy to the betterment of your family and now face a looming empty nest? What will you do with the next chapter of your life?

It does not matter where you turn; work and life are moving at a dizzying pace. People, vocations and emerging technologies are in a constant state of evolution and reinvention. We face a daily backdrop of high alert and digital connection. No wonder Transition and Change Management have become the adopted vernacular to describe daily existence.

How can one cope with a state of uncertainty and a general sense of unrest?
I cannot overstate the importance of creating a strong contingency plan. Why wait till life is on a downward spiral to pick up the pieces and turn life around? Having a strong backup plan is not only practical but can give you the confidence required to leverage and improve your current circumstances.
Would you go on a road trip without a destination, map, gas, and provisions? Would you go back to school without properly researching the program? Do you step into the ocean with your eyes closed and let the first wave knock you over and spin you around? Then why would you do this in life and your career?

Why show up without the proper skills and a well thought-out strategy? What actions and steps can you set in motion immediately to ensure you are ready to face any and all unlikely events or circumstances?

I recently led a round table discussion group at a Leadership Conference on the topic of sharing our most valuable secrets and tips for success. I introduced the concept of having a Plan B regardless of your current work status. There was a member of our table who was incredibly quiet the entire discussion. I assumed they were unmoved by the discussion. I received an email shortly after the discussion sharing how powerful this concept is. They assumed “that if they showed up each day and did a good job the powers that be would give you a promotion and raise”. It never dawned on them that not anyone else is responsible for your development plan and ultimate destiny.

We can all learn from this lesson. Don’t wait for the fork in the road to form a new path. Lay down a purposeful track and let life adapt to your path. Vow to be the best in class and embellish your current role and life. We all deserve to be happy and on purpose. Don’t wait for necessity or catastrophe. Start building today for the future of your dreams.

Here are my Tips for Building a Strategic Plan B

1. Get real!
Take a fearless and honest look at your current circumstances. Are you showing up as the best possible version of yourselves? Is your position and company secured? If your company took a downturn would you be the first to go? Are you doing what it takes to ensure your relevancy?
2. Keep up with the Jones’s!
How current are your skills sets? Are you keeping up with the current technology? Are you raising your hand for stretch assignments? If not get started yesterday.
3. Ready Set Learn!
Knowledge has never been easier to acquire. If you don’t know something, Google it. Want an up to the minute definition, try Wikipedia. There are webinars, audiobooks, podcasts and multiple books on every topic all downloadable to your smartphone. Today you can get an MBA without leaving the comfort of your home! No excuse, stay relevant!
4. Expand your circle.
Network, Network, Network, and just when you think you can’t stand it one more minute, Network some more.
5. Acquire a Personal Board
Times of change are difficult. Your Personal Board will be your Life Line back. They will keep you on track, honest and moving in the right direction. They will become your biggest critics and your strongest advocates all wrapped up in one!
6. Volunteer: Give and Learn
Volunteering is a great way to keep up your spirit while going through turbulent times. Why not volunteer your services in a way that will require you to learn different skill sets? These skills can be leveraged in your current role or added to your resume for future positions.
7. Take a break
I cannot overstate the importance of self-care during times of change. Change is exhausting. You are in a constant state of uncertainty, learning, stepping out of your comfort zone, and all while showing up at your personal best. Eat Well, Sleep, Nap, Take Breaks, Laugh, See Friends, Exercise (preferably outside), Schedule Fun.
8. Take risks
Change is risky business. Going back to school is scary. Learning new technology is overwhelming. Constantly showing up for networking events can be daunting. Creating an on line presence makes one vulnerable to the masses. You know the old adage, no risk no reward.
9. Step Out
Stepping out of your comfort zone is also not easy. I suggest a change of mindset. Think of trying new things as an adventure. You will not like everything, but you never know what will resonate. I think of how empty my life would be if I did not meet all of my great friends through Networking. What if I never took the risk that first Sunday and walked into NYU for my Coaching Certificate? Trust me I was terrified!
10. Get comfortable with discomfort
My biggest life lesson during my transition from running a Sales and Marketing department to heading up Human Resources and starting my business as an executive coach is that anything is possible. I mean anything! We all have the potential to be, do and have anything we want; we just need to be willing to put in the work. I now welcome uncertainty as it is what gives me grit. It is what gives me the gumption each day to show up as the best possible version of myself and never, never, never give up. One can never truly know what lurks around the corner, but I do know I welcome the challenge. I am ready willing and able to do whatever it takes to reach my full potential. I recommend you do the same.

 

It’s Not Too Late To Finish Strong!

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Since I was a little girl, Labor Day has always been my favorite holiday.

I love the summer. Longer days, casual Friday’s, activity filled weekends, vacation, casual reads and days at the beach. Nevertheless, by the time August rolls around I am ready to hang up my flip flops, put away my gardening tools, roll up my sleeves and get back to work!

As I woke up this morning, poured my coffee and sat down to check my e-mails I was thrilled to discover my new syllabus in my inbox. Just as I felt growing up I experienced the same jolt of excitement I remember so vividly when discovering my school supply list had arrived in my mailbox. I could hardly wait to download my text books, sharpen my pencils and grab a clean sheet of paper and get to work!

Another summer concluded and a fresh new quarter to make my mark in 2015.

I am an optimist. Definitely a glass is half full person, yet, as I laced up my sneakers to take my morning run I began to ponder what changes I may fail to make this year? What resolutions might I not follow through on? On which commitments will I miss the mark? What stones might I leave UN-turned?

As I opened the door I took the first breath of morning air. Imagined or not, there was a marked change in temperature. Perhaps I wondered is this analogous with changes to come? A symbol of possibility and movement ever so slight peeking out around the corner? Is it synonymous with slight shifts in behavior and perception? A doorway to transformation?

As my pace hastened so did my determination. There is still time to cross the finish line a winner. The opportunity to reach my goals, mountains yet to climb, issues left to resolve.

Where to start? Somewhere and now!

Here is my top 10 list of strategies to finish strong:

1. Don’t ignore the signs:

If something need addressing, face it, handle it and move on. If you need help or support then ask for it.

2. Stay relevant:

If you do not stay up to date someone else will. Only you are responsible for how your story will unfold or end!

3. Update your resume/social media profile:

Even if you are in the most secure position, you should update your resume, bio, profile and head-shot once a year. It is moreover a great way to see what you have accomplished each year. It can additionally be a measure of work still needed to be done.

4. Update your resolutions and goal list:

If you don’t have goal list then create one immediately! Putting your aspirations on paper is a form of commitment. It is the first and most critical step to creating a successful strategic action plan.

5. Buddy Up:

Everyone needs a goal buddy. Sharing your goals with  trusted advisers makes them hard to ignore. No one wants to be the slacker that starts an exercise routine and fails to follow through.

6. Call a Board Meeting, or simply call your Personal Board:

If you don’t have a Personal Board them make it part of your goal list to get one. Defined; your Personal Board members are mindfully chosen advisers and confidants that will help you rise through the ranks. They will become your accountability partners on your road to success. Furthermore, they are a perfect pool of candidates from which to choose a goal buddy.

7. Let go:

Are you holding on to something that you need to let go? Is anger or resentment holding you back? Why not consider letting bygones be bygones? The energy you are putting into plotting your revenge could be energy better spent toward crafting your future success story.

8. Reconnect:

Get back in touch with the people and relationships that slipped through your fingers this summer. Get some lunch dates on the books and dinners on your calendar. Consider joining a new networking group.

9. Finish something you started:

Vow to finally sign up for the last two classes required to complete your masters. Buckle down and complete the work project that you keep pushing to the back of your list. Get the roof at home repaired before the winter kicks in. Fill in the blanks?

10. Prepare the Field:

The best way to get back in the game and finish strong is to get organized. Clean up your desk, inbox, closet, night-table, kitchen, garage, brief case, car or whatever is making you feel out of sorts. Do whatsoever is necessary to clear the field so you can plot your strategy and finish strong.

We all have our favored time honored traditions, mine is the last run of the summer. I take this run each year at the beach on Fire Island. I grew up on the beach. Weekends spent at my grandparents’ house in Rockaways followed by summers in Fire Island. The beach helped teach me persistence and fearlessness. As early as two, I remember being knocked over by waves, tumbled upside down, losing my breath and landing far off track. Yet I ran right back in and did it again! The vastness of the ocean as I run along the shore similarly reminds me of the endless possibilities that are available to meet my goals, objectives and dreams. Each year when I finish this run, I take a little extra time to sit on the shore savoring the sights, sounds and distinctive smells of the ocean. I steel one last minute of serenity, as I paint a mental picture of the scene. I will conjure this image in times I get discouraged.

As I walk back up the stairs to pack up our summer home, I know I am ready. When I ferry back to shore, I am confident that I will end the year victorious. How will you do the same?

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