Monthly Archives: July 2016

Recipe for Resilience

There are times when it appears the tide has washed ashore.  Your boat has sprung a leak. The sun has set in your backyard.

During these temporary dark periods it appears that no matter how quickly you bail out water, paddle up stream, reach for safer ground, you still get nowhere.

You may widely open the window; nevertheless, it is you who refuses to let in the sunlight.  No one else is refusing to count the multiple blessings, nor adopt an attitude of gratitude.

Snap out of it I say. Pronto! Press the reset button. Take action immediately.

Stop watching the same old movie. No more complaining!  Sing a different song. The pity party ends right here, right now!

Instead, laugh yourself silly. Put the spring back in your walk. Get your groove back. Put the smile back on your face. You have the power. It’s sticky.  It will catch up with the rest of you, promise.

Start over immediately. There isn’t a second to lose. Why not start the day with a fresh new attitude?

I was reminded of this and the power of resilience by my children. I taught them that no problem is insurmountable. All issues large or small, simple or complex, common knowledge or private, could be handled collectively. They were raised to believe not much could not be cured at the dinner table, or through my home baked chocolate chip cookies, a pot of meatballs, and a large dose of laughter.

Years have progressed, problems have multiplied and grown in complexity; nevertheless, the rules of engagement, secrecy and comfort via the dinner table still apply. Last week my son relayed a story of such intense magnitude my hair practically stood up on end. My daughter’s reaction: “That is horrible”, visibly shaken. “So sad”, (Compassion)! Next, “We really dodged a bullet.”(No codependency there). Finally, “Pass the kale”. (Movin’ On)

I taught them well.  Be compassionate. Know what is yours. Move on.

Foodie that I am, here is my RECIPE for Resilience. Thanks for the inspiration, kids.

R is for Response, Reaction & Relationships:

Your response and reaction to any given situation makes a world of difference in how things will turn out. Some people love a good challenge. Other people’s reaction: why me?

My rule of thumb:

Adversity = Opportunity

I say seize the opportunity. What is the nugget you can grab to learn, grow or prosper?

Can you turn adversity into a stepping stone for personal growth and greatness?

Connections are the heart of my world. My relationships run deep.

In relationships I used to only show up as my personal best. Now I understand that is utter nonsense. It’s exhausting! It is only by allowing ourselves to expose our imperfections, flaws and weakness, that one can fully explore, gain insight and restore emotional equilibrium.  Love me or leave me I say. That’s how I sort out the excess.

Choose your confidants wisely.

Rule of thumb:

To have a friend you need to be a friend.

You can learn a lot hanging around the playground.

E is for ENTHUSIASM:

I truly have a zest for life.

It has been said that my mood and attitude on my worst days resemble that of the average person on their best.

I dance like no one is watching. I sing at the top of my lungs, anywhere, always.  I have no business singing anywhere, ever. Every song is my favorite, ask my kids.  I dress everyday as if I am going to a party. I always wear matching undergarments, in case of accidents. I will try any, I mean any, exercise craze, check out my basement.  I begin each project with total commitment.  I enter all relationships with my whole heart and total abandon.

This is how I roll. This is how I am wired. This is my genetic default button.

How does this help build resilience?

I fake it till I make it.  I never let them see me sweat.  I set the mood and hope the rest of me catches up. Eventually it does.

There are times in life when you will be presented with obstacles. You can view these as challenges or fight to the finish line. Or sing, dance, and look great doing it. Your choice! J

C is for CYCLES & CHANGE

This too shall pass. What goes around comes around. What seems life altering today will not raise your blood pressure six months down the line.

This is hard to fathom when you are swimming upstream in the muck. It is true.

I have heard it said if you round up your friends, colleagues, and even a random stranger or two; put your problems in a hat, you would most likely take back your own.

It is also likely true that the dream job, home, boss and romances unrequited; were really nightmares and bullets dodged.  We just didn’t realize it at the time.

Change is inevitable. I never like to get too comfortable in life because as soon as I do, boom, disaster.   Nine out of ten times the change is good. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

Chin up. Keep the faith. Retain your attitude of gratitude.

For this I keep a Gratitude List:

Every night before I got to sleep I write down at LEAST three things I have to be grateful for.

Even in our darkest periods, we still can count our blessings. Try it and see how quickly the cycles turn in your favor.

I is for INDEPENDENCE:

You were brought onto this planet alone and you will leave it alone.

The truth is, no one is going to save you but YOU.

I spent the first half of my life waiting for my ship to come in; unfortunately I was at the airport.

There was no knight in shining armor for me.  No quick fix. No magic bullets. No happily ever after. Thank goodness!

That is what built grit. The perfect playing field for transformation. When the hard work was necessary the magic could begin!

You can lean on your family and friends. You can read, download, mainline and listen to self-help audiobooks till you become the foremost authority on inner strength or your eyes and ears bleed. Attend all the latest and greatest “kick life in the butt” seminars and workshops. Do yoga, meditate, and stand on you head till you are centered yet blue on the face. In the end it is YOU who will need to take control of your destiny.

Vow to wake up tomorrow knowing that YOU have all the ingredients YOU need to have a fabulous life. YOU have the power to be and do anything YOU want. YOU will be, and do anything YOU want, provided YOU are willing to do the work.

P is for PREPARATION & PLAN B

You can never be too prepared in life; nor should you be without a carefully drafted backup plan. I fondly refer to this as a Plan B.  Doesn’t hurt to have a Plan C and D just in case.

Don’t wait till the floor drops out beneath you, you are gasping for air, have your finger in the dam, while balancing on the ledge by your pinky toe.  The time to spring into action is now!

It will not help if you wait till you are down-sized to update your resume, Bio, and LinkedIn Profile. Update them today! Keep your coach and recruiters closely on hand too.

Don’t continue to linger in negative relationships.  Take control and ask for what you want. Do the soul searching required. Have the confidence necessary to get what you need, or move on.

Don’t wait to go on a diet. Go back to school. Sign up for the webinar. Update your computer skills, or get a new haircut. DO IT NOW!

Whatever you want to be, do, and have, is in your grasp.   If you are willing to put in the work.

I always have my back up plan at the ready. I pack my parachute with a plan B and C.  I keep a plan D and E tucked up my sleeve and shoved in my back pocket, just in case. Life has dealt me an interesting hand. I revel in it. Think of me as a Resiliency Eagle Scout.

Having a backup plan takes commitment and energy.

I work at it hard. I set challenges and hurdles beyond my grasp. I envision the outcomes. I imagine I have already achieved the goal and initiative. My credo, “Failure isn’t an Option”.  In my case it really wasn’t.  It was a matter of life or death. Eat or be eaten. Feeding your kids or not feeding you kids.

I recommend getting an Accountability Partner.  Someone to share your goals and aspirations with.  Someone to send your weekly goals to, who will hold you accountable. They will listen to you when you lose faith. Steer you back on track when you turn left instead or right. Become your confidant, guidepost and most trusted advisor. Most importantly they celebrate your wins!

Second tip, do three things a day toward your goals each day.  It does not matter how big or small.

What happens when you fail to take action?

Answer: Nothing

E is for ENERGY

Energy is the life force of the universe. Since this is a business blog I will spare you my spiritual mambo jumbo  and hide my Zen a bit.  I will not pontificate on the point.

Simple stated, what you put out into the universe will return. The earth is a cosmic boomerang. Like attracts like. Positive attracts positive.   Kind acts will beget more kind acts.  Compassion and empathy the same.

Careful here folks. In Reverse, evil will attract evil. Negative thoughts will bring on more negative thoughts. Disasterous thinking can bring on catastrophe.

What’s a girl to do? Change you attitude, obviously. Tall order. Difficult at best. Not impossible.

Here’s my trick.  Think of yourself as a bucket of energy.  Grab a piece of paper and make a line down the middle. On one side jot down all of the things that zap your energy; on the other side write down all the things that restore your energy reserves.  The goal is to always keep the bucket balanced. This will restore you to sanity.

SWAT and Guerilla Restoration Tactics

Some weeks are harder than others.  It feels the elements have conspired against you. G-d has thrown down the gauntlet.

For these times you must strap on the heavy artillery. Dig deep into your bag of tricks. Create a recovery Pu-Pu Platter of sorts, if you are to find your way back home.

These are the Sundays I play my Fight Song, dance with abandon, and sing along at the top of my lungs.  Your Fight Song is the song you keep on your iPod that revives your energy stores. Makes you want to pump your fists. You know the one that makes you know you can fight another day.  If you do not have one, get one immediately.  I have a whole playlist!

Take your Fight Song on the road. Walk, run, jump, cycle, spin in circles for all I care, MOVE.  I do yoga till my muscles shake at these times. I breathe, release, I MOVE ON!

Once depleted, I dance barefoot in my kitchen while donning a facemask, in between cleaning out closets. Multitasking is as essential as self-care during times of stress.  I will do this while stirring a pot of meatballs, and baking a fresh batch of cookies.  As the sauce simmers and the sweet smell of baked goods wafts through the house, it further settles any residue stress.  I then calmly prepare for the week ahead. I am ready.

As I gather my family back at the dinner table to share a meal and solve the world’s problems; I am now ready willing and able.  Resilience restored, they can hit me with their best shot.

We have gone full circle my dear readers.

As my son gathers his things to drive off into the sunset, I know all is well in my world.

I hope you too digested this recipe and are full of hope and new possibilities.

 

Truth in Advertising

In most instances people and situations present themselves at face value. We however ignore the signs. We see what we choose to see. Painting the scene with our biases, expectations, experiences, hopes, dreams and yes fears.

After all why not, we want what we want. Our wills are strong. Why let a little thing like reality cloud our persistence?

Wouldn’t it be great if people and situations came with warning labels? Narcissistic however funny, introverted nonetheless brilliant, insecure practices sarcasm to cover?

This job will offer great growth opportunity: if you are able to leap small buildings in a single bound, navigate through layers of corporate culture, and be willing to relocate to Peru.

We read the warning labels, see the signs, squint through the fine print, yet we barrel through.  Our thought process; this time will be different. I will make it different.  I have the magic bullet.  Even more tragic, if I hang in there long enough things will change.

News Flash, they won’t.

So what is one to do?  How do you learn to read the signs and see the red flashing light from the runway? Learn to be on the alert, not put on the blinders, or look the other way.

Here are my tips for reading between the lines to get to fine print:

Reality Check:

Open your eyes. Let in the sunlight.  Smell the coffee.  Take a look around you.  Ask yourself what is really going on here?

Who are you surrounded by? How do you spend your days? Nights? Weekends?

Does your current career make you want to jump out of bed in the morning? Does it make you want to hit the snooze alarm?

Are you truly happy?  Is this the life that G-D has intended for you?

Then ask yourself the following question:

What happens when you stop hitting your head against the wall?

Answer: It stops hurting

Red Flags/Warning Detonators:

What gets your goat? Makes your hair stand up on end? Are like nails on a chalk board?

Are you aware of whom or what pushes your buttons? Do you have insight into whom or what installed them?

What kind of people and situations make you want to pitch your tent? Conversely, which makes you want to cut and run?

These insights can be so freeing! A road map to your psyche. The lyrics to your personal dance of intimacy.

This knowledge can be your liberator or your jailer. Either dooming you to repeat your fate, or educating you to freedom and positive choice.

Foot on the pedal or foot on the brake, inevitably the road will be long.

Right road or wrong? Straight road or curved?  I do predict some bumps, potholes, forks and ditches.

That’s when the road map and insights become so invaluable. Your ladder back to safer ground.

What is real and what is perceived? Your reality?  Their reality? The truth?

BOOM

Limiting Beliefs, Fears & Inner Critics:

I’m too old to go back to school.

No one is ever going to love me.

I am never going to make it to the C- suite.

Fill in the Blank.

Today is the day to rise up and fight back. Set up an erase and destroy mission. Slash old tapes masquerading as fears.  Talk back to your Self Criticism. Knock out the Inner Critics that haunt us all.

I have been introduced to a myriad of Inner Critics in my coaching practice. A menacing and meddling bunch at that. I have personally exorcised, befriended and ultimately locked my own in the closet just to publish this and subsequent blogs. I GET IT!

Truth is you are not terminally unique. We all need to fight past fears to become our authentic selves,  and dare to be vulnerable.

Authenticity/Imposter Syndrome:

I love the song Come As You Are.  Wouldn’t it be cool if we could cut to the chase, rip off the mask, wrestle our Inner Critics, mow down the Nay Sayers, and show up as our Authentic Self right from the start?  Ultimately that’s who is going to stay for the long haul.

Nonetheless, we brush on the war paint, suit ourselves up, strap on the armor and hide our true identity away from the world.  We fear that if people truly get to know us that they might not feel the same way.

At work they call it the Imposter Syndrome.  We claim our hard earned position and rightful seat at the table only to be riddled with fear.  What if our colleagues find out that we are a fraud?

It helps to remember that even superheroes have their strengths and weaknesses.  That is what makes them so intriguing.

Don’t Just Listen, Hear:

When I do a communication workshop I start with this quote:

“The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply”, Unknown

Pretty powerful stuff!

Further, I impart my favorite communication tip:

“Listen More, Talk Less”.

If I ended my workshop here my audience would have all they need to size up any situation, not to mention ascertain the essence of any individual.

G-d gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason!

Truth is we get enough intel and gut feelings to size up a person and situation in the first meeting. What we do with that intuition is in question here.

Preferences, Deal Breakers & Would Be Nice:

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need.

What if we took the time to identify what we did and did not want in advance? Could we get closer? Imagine if we each created a list of the things we ultimately could not live without. Our must haves. Our core values.  Our essence. What makes us tick? Bingo!

This can work for relationships, jobs, homes, quite frankly anything.

What are your deal breakers? They are different for us all. What compromises will be too deep? What will cause you to break not bend? What is beyond your capacity to look the other way? Keep this list close to your heart because compromise here will bite you in the back later.

My personal favorites are the would be nices! These are the bargaining chips.  The icing on the cake.  Here you have enough of your wants in place. You are not compromising your deal breakers away. Hooray, you get to add a few would be nices to sweeten the pot!

Pretty cool system. One must however keep in mind that life is an evolution.  This is the ultimate balancing act. We are all a work in progress. As we grow our list and the lists around us will shift as well.

Setting Boundaries:

So we are where we are, and we are with who we are with, now what? Set boundaries.

These are the rules of engagement. A game book of what you will and will not allow.

Only you know what is truly off base.  What will be the final straw? Remember, what sends one person packing is different from the next. What gets one person voted off the island would not even raise an eyebrow for the next.

How do you set boundaries, you ask?

This used to be nearly impossible for me, but with practice it can be achieved.  In the beginning it was like a scary game of tag, only the stakes were much higher.  I would run in, say my piece, close my eyes, hold my breath, hope the world would not crumble around me, and then run out!

I would say, “This is how it is.  This is how it is going to be. This is how I am going to show up.  This is what I am willing to accept. Either you are going to accept me and this, or not. No one is going to die. (I cannot take credit for the last line!)

In the beginning setting boundaries did feel like death; nevertheless, no one died.  Some people accepted my boundaries, some people did not.  Some people stayed some people went. EVERYONE respected me more. 🙂

Time Test:

One of my favorite songs as a teenager was Should I Stay Or Should I Go.  It should have been, Time Is On Your Side.  Now, I no longer look at life in absolutes.  People and situations as good or bad.  Right or wrong. Perfect or flawed. I look at life from Both Sides Now.  I have given myself the gift of imperfection, and I allow others and situations the same courtesy.

My coach gave me the greatest gift, the concept of And.  Sometimes we are just not ready to pull the trigger.  We might not have all the facts. The bandwidth, strength and gumption. The means to make a truly educated decision.  If that is the case you just may need to live in a grey area for a bit longer.  All of the pieces will fall into place, eventually.

It is helpful to remember that choices do not always boil down to Either, Or, sometimes life offers you a third choice, the And.  A middle ground, a time out, an experimental period, a compromise.  It is important to consider what appears life shattering now, might not be all consuming six months down the line.

Compromise, not Cave:

There is compromise and there is being taken advantage of. Some folks have a higher pain threshold than others. Many give more than they get. I know this first hand for I am one of them.

One of my core values is to be “of service”. I was taught by my father at a very early age to give of myself, be charitable and not really worry if it is reciprocated. You will get your gifts later.

He could not have been more correct.  I have lived my life by this rule.  Volunteering and mentoring.  Leading my organization emphasizing service and personal growth. Supporting, nurturing and caring for my family and inner circle beyond measure.  I now have my clients to add to the queue.

I love to give.  I know I am appreciated. Anyone taking advantage, well, that’s on them.

My gift is seeing people happy, growing and moving in a positive direction. That’s why I love what I do.

Conscience Connections:

My New Year’s resolution was to make Conscious Connections.

I am a connector at heart and the consummate Net-worker.  THIS IS GOOD THING! Yet here we are talking about connecting at a deeper level. Conscious Connections are the holy grail of connection. They are about trusting our gut instincts to find our Tribe.

Here we put on our mining hats and tunnel past the red flags. We dig deep, and dare to be vulnerable. We get naked, remove our armor, and peel back the layers of our soul. We will finally find the perfect home. Safely we can unpack our steamer trunks, yet they will dare to stay. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. I will pick you up when you fall. You will do the same.  I will not care who you are, where you come from or what you do. Nor will you.  Time will stand still when we speak and are together. Laughter will come in waves and tears can flow freely.

When you find this rare breed dear reader, rejoice.  Nurture, fight for and handle with care. For as hard as they are to seek, is as easy as they are to squander.

Rocking Chair Test:

My niece was taught in kindergarten, “You Get What You Get and You Don’t Get Upset”.  I think that is utter nonsense and that teacher should be fired!  We all have control of our destiny.

We have the free will to choose the people and situations that appear in our lives. Conversely, we have the power to leave the ones that no longer serve us.

So what is the litmus test for sorting fact from fiction? Will from reality? Opportunity from Illusion?

I use the Rocking Chair Test.

I imagine myself at the end of my days. None of the day to day nonsense created through work, relationships, and difficult choices will matter any longer.

As I sit in my Rocking Chair all I will have are days stretched out in front of me. Time will be like a warm blanket safely covering me, so I can slowly and carefully contemplate my life’s choices.

I will ask myself; do I want you next to me?  Will we have brought each other happiness? Have we become better people having knowing each other?   Will this situation have a positive impact on me? Did it add meaning to my life and the lives around me? How did it serve? Did it make the world a better place?

Your answers to these questions are The Truth in Advertising and The Fine Print all wrapped up in one.

Think hard my friend, consider carefully, and then carry on.