Live and Lead for Impact with Kirsten E. Ross

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Are you one of those people who avoid change at all cost? Maybe fear stops you in your tracks or your stubbornness gives you pride. Maybe you celebrate your stagnation.

No matter how change avoidant you are I bet you’ve benefitted from change, perhaps without even knowing it. Change is often good!

Let me illustrate:

  • Are you old enough to remember rotary phones? Do you still use one today or have you moved on?
  • Are you listening to this podcast on the go from your phone, perhaps even from your car?
  • Do you take pictures with your phone?
  • Has your television viewing transitioned to full color, high definition?
  • Are you old enough to have rented a VHS Player to watch movies you rented as a paid member? Ever viewed a movie on the go?
  • Have you ever worn Spanx?

See, regardless of how change avoidant you are you have succumbed. And, in many instances, if you stop to think about it, I bet that change has been good. So, change has been thrust upon you through technological advances.

Where do you need to stop making excuses and start embracing change personally? What excuses have you been using?   Are any of them really valid?

The New Year is upon us and it is time to say I Choose Change!

Did you ever see one of those round wooden “Get a Round To it” coins? Fun play on words and so true.

When you get around to it………

How have you been filling in this blank:   I will ___________________ when I get around to it. (exercise, take that class, eat healthy, write that book, travel to that destination)

Pretend like I’m handing you one of those round to it’s right now.

The truth is, you could be doing more of your get around to it items. You could.

There will never be a perfect time.

What is REALLY stopping you?

Does it need to?

Are there at least some small steps you could start making right now?

Here are some questions to ask to get you moving.   Enlist the help of some trusted advisors. An outside perspective often helps.   I did an episode on the 7 Key Characteristics of a Great Trusted Advisor. Go here if you haven’t heard that one yet:

  1. What have I learned the hard way and what has it taught me to do differently?
  2. What’s one thing I can add to my life that will make a positive change this year?
  3. What’s one thing I should stop doing that will make a positive change?
  4. What would I try now if I knew I would not fail?
  5. For my life to be perfect what would I need to change?
  6. What are some small changes I can make now to begin to work towards these changes?
  7. What are the excuses I use costing me?

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Direct download: 69_I_Refuse_to_Stay_Stuck_I_Choose_Change.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Click To Apply For A FREE Leadership Breakthrough Session With Kirsten Today!

Many companies have a formal policy that requires employees to keep the specifics about their pay private.

I certainly understand what motivates these policies. Conversations about pay almost always cause drama! However, rarely do these policies serve their purpose. And, often, I find they are enforced more aggressively when there really is no legitimate rhyme or reason for how much employees are paid. In other words, the gag order is created to avoid the drama induced by an unfair pay plan.

The reality is pay is an emotional thing. It’s not JUST about the dollars. AND, probably the more you try to keep it a secret the more they’ll talk about it. It’s just kind of the nature of things. If employees don’t understand how their pay is calculated they won’t feel that their own pay is fair.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve rarely heard anyone say, “they pay me too much.” Either people are quietly neutral about their pay or they are disgruntled about it. Few are singing from the rooftops about their hourly rate or salary.

Another fun fact about compensation, once you provide some kind of compensation it quickly becomes an entitlement. Now they just expect it. Take it away or provide less and…….you’ve got drama.

I’ve spent years working in compensation and have generated calculations that impacted the wages of thousands. I know the emotion that pay practices can ignite! And I’ve learned some strategies to avoid the drama that is always a potential.

So….what can you do to minimize compensation drama?

Here are a few strategies:

  1. Have a rhyme or a reason for how you pay people. Do have pay scales. Pay drama happens when employees feel that their pay is not fair. And fair is a subjective term based on comparisons to others. Fair can be based on internal comparisons, internal equity, or external comparisons, external equity. Are you paying people fairly compared to similar jobs outside of your company? is a good place to start if you don’t have access to customized salary data. The jury is out on the accuracy but over the years I’ve found it to be a helpful tool. The reality is, even though compensation is based on numbers it will never be an exact science. There are subjective components to valuing skill sets or responsibilities. Use the data, add or delete value based on your specific jobs, the skills required and the responsibilities and create those pay scales.If you have additional questions or need help contact me Defeat the drama and select the contact tab. As I said, I logged many years as a compensation professional: you have good pay structure assure that you are paying well individually. Within the organization are you providing similar pay for similar jobs, experience, education, quality of work?  Have you brought new employees in higher than long term employees? Do you have family members or friends getting preferential pay treatment? Ask yourself the tough questions and do what you can to rectify the situation. If you are over paying some employees consider “red circling” their pay. This means keeping them at their same rate until or making smaller adjustments until their pay lands within the appropriate pay scale.
  2. Communication – Communication – Communication! Share how you came up with your pay plan. I’ve shared before that in the absence of fact people have a tendency to fill in the spaces with negative assumptions. Trying to keep your pay plans secret creates stress and anxiety and a whole lot of drummed up drama. Have a good rhyme or reason for why you pay what you do and share that information freely. Now, I’m not suggesting you share individual pay information. I am suggesting you share generically how pay is calculated. How did you come up with the pay scales? How do you compare to your competitors and where does an individual employee fall within their pay scale.

  3. Keep pay consistent. If you have a bonus plan communicate how it is calculated and stick to it. In tougher years, through good communication, your employees will know and understand why the bonuses are lower or non-existent. In better years pay the extra with a smile. If the calculations you’ve created and communicated are done right you’ll have plenty of net profit to cover bonuses while still enjoying a healthy business profit. Create the calculations well and then keep them consistent. And especially when it comes to commission based pay, changing the rules often creates a lack of trust. Lack of trust creates drama. Create a plan that assures that the business makes money as your commissioned based people make more money. Too often I’ve heard business owners or leaders say they don’t want their sales force to make too much money. If the pay is proportioned correctly you do want them to make a lot of money. Constantly changing the rules to finagle less pay and you’ll have lots of drama and sales people walking out the door.

  4. Calculate Total Compensation and Communicate it – like I’ve said, pay is an emotional thing. Employees feel valued or devalued based on the price tag you put on them through their pay. Do not underestimate the monetary value of your benefits or other perks. I have implemented total compensation calculations and the results have always been good. The additional investments you make in your employees will raise those numbers. If you are in the U.S., don’t forget the FICA calculations as well. Include everything you possibly can. To include paid holidays, vacation or sick time you can subtract those hours and then divide the salary by hours actually worked.   For example, a full time employee works 2080 hours per year at 40 hours x 52 weeks. Now subtract out 2 weeks vacation and 7 holidays, as a for instance. 17 days x 8 hours = 136 hours. The salary you are paying them including their health insurance is actually based on 1,944 hours per year. Divide annual salary plus benefits, perks, etc. to provide the new hourly rate calculation.That’s probably enough examples. I don’t want to inundate you with numbers in a podcast. It’s probably kind of hard to visualize by listening. Just know that there are lots of ways to play with the numbers and it’s a good idea to help your employees visualize the full value you are providing for them.

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Direct download: 68_Defeat_Your_Compensation_Drama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Many of my new clients share complaints about employees that will not implement new processes or use new protocols. Teams often seem to do everything in their power to resist change.

Leaders are plagued with comments and complaints like these. Do any sound familiar?

  • No one told me.
  • This doesn’t work.
  • I don’t understand why we have to do this!
  • I keep forgetting.
  • What are we supposed to do after the first part?
  • The old way is way better!
  • I’m not doing it!

My clients are left feeling frustrated, dis-empowered and ready to throw in the towel, resigned to the fact that change will never happen.

Once we dive in to the steps they took to make the change, however, it is easy to identify where they’ve missed some key elements.

If you struggle to get your team to implement change here are six surefire strategies to create team change that sticks.

  1. Get Input Up Front:There are several reasons I recommend including employees before you design change.
    1. First, and most simply, you will have more buy in from your team if they participate in the design of the change.   They will have a vested interest in achieving success.
    2. And, secondly, your employees have a unique perspective. They have valuable insights that can help you.   Participation almost always yields better results. Unless you are with them all day every day there are elements of the job that you are unaware of. They are creating work arounds, overcoming challenges, connecting tasks in ways you are not aware. You want that knowledge and perspective BEFORE you design change. You will want to incorporate their ideas for a better result.
    3. Last, your team will feel acknowledged and respected if you ask for their opinions. Requiring change for a job they do daily without being consulted at all feels like a slap in the face. They will feel devalued. Ask their opinion and they will feel like an important part of the process.
  1. Communicate the Why’s and What’s:The Why: Why the change is happening. And if you have included them in the design of the change include the why’s of using or not using their suggestions. If you ask the questions it creates the expectation that you will actually use their opinions. If you can NOT you must acknowledge their suggestions, share your appreciation and express why you were not able to incorporate them.That What is what’s in it for them. This will provide some motivation for the change. Will they gain efficiency? Will their job become easier? Will they experience some job enrichment?   Will they be able to provide better service and happier customers?
  1. Document Well Part of the design strategy for change should include documenting the change. What will be the new process? This will provide for visual learning and will be an important resource for training for initial roll out and on going.
  1. Acknowledge that Change Can be HardCall out the elephant in the room. Some of the resistance is resistance to change period and has nothing to do with whether the change will be good or bad. All change is stressful for some people. Show empathy, acknowledge it and then set the expectation that change will still happen. We must move on. If we didn’t embrace change all of us would still be using corded, rotary telephones. Does anyone even still own one of those?
  1. Deadline and Documentation for Read it, Know it, Own ItMany of my clients struggle to know whether an employee has received full communication about a change. They’ll roll out the change in a staff meeting and have no documentation about who was in attendance. Or, in larger organizations the communication has happened over email. They aren’t sure whether it was read or digested. I always recommend creating a roll out process that can be documented with specific deadlines for “Read it, Know it, Own it.”If you use email, for instance, include a deadline by which every employee must read it, understand, ask questions if necessary and then implement fully. Require them to send you an email response indicating they have read and fully understand the change.If you roll out a change in a staff meeting make sure to document who is there and then provide the documentation about the change in an email or a binder after the meeting for those who were not in attendance. Again, give a deadline for playing catch up from the missed meeting. They must get with you the leader, talk to a co-worker, read and understand, do whatever is necessary to gain a full understanding of the change by the deadline. Request that they sign a log or send you an email when the task is fully complete.Following a procedure like this will help you avoid the, “No one told me” excuse. They are responsible for Reading it, Knowing it, Owning it – or asking questions if they must.

  2. Hold Them AccountableOnce an employee has acknowledged reading, knowing, owning hold them accountable for adhering to the change. Give a little grace if there is a learning curve and your team is trying to make the transition smoothly. But stick with it and don’t let them slide back. Do ask whether they have any input for required tweeks. Sometimes the design of change is not fully achieved without a trial and error period. A complaint must include an idea for how to make it better.

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Direct download: 67_Six_Strategies_to_Create_Team_Change_that_Sticks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Click To Apply For A FREE Leadership Breakthrough Session With Kirsten Today!

Do you set goals and fall short of meeting them?

Do you make promises to co-workers and then fail to follow through?

Are daily choices inconsistent with the outcomes you say you’d like to create in your work or life?

You are not alone. Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution to get to the gym 4 times per week or a commitment to an employee that you’ll be better at delegating tasks with a reasonable amount of lead time, we humans have a tough time breaking bad habits and implementing the new and improved.

We have great intentions. We just get stuck. And before we know it 5 months have passed without any noticeable change or personal growth.

So, based on the title of this episode you might be thinking, “oh yay! She’s going to tell me it’s okay. Everyone does it anyway. Move on and just be okay with how things are.”

Sorry. That’s not the emphasis today.

Yes, I will still encourage you to stop beating yourself up when you fail to meet a goal or a deadline. However, the reasoning is different. If you’ve been listening for a while or have worked with me you know that I’m all about deafeating drama. Beating yourself up is just a waste of time. And it shifts your focus away from meeting your objective.

You see, when you are calling yourself names and mentally berating yourself, where is your focus? On you and how bad you are.

Is this motivating? No.

Is this time spent on creating a new plan that DOES move you towards your goals? NO.

Beating yourself up is just self-induced drama. It shifts your focus away from where it needs to be; on making the plan you must implement to meet your objectives.

And, too often our berating tends to lend the opportunity to give ourselves a pass.  Do any of these sound familiar?

  • I do this everytime. I’m just not cut out to be successful.”
  • Why bother even trying? I’m just setting myself up for failure.
  • I have no will power.
  • I’m a complete loser!
  • I suck

Our mental beat down can become an excuse, a long term justification.

And how motivated do you feel while engaging in this kind of negative self talk?   Get over yourself and get on with it!

Now, I don’t want you to completely skip over the feeling of dissapointment or the loss of what could have been. Experience the pain to motivate you to new momentum. So, notice it quickly but don’t park there. Don’t let a dissapoinment become a long term beat down.

When a client shares their story of a missed deadline or failed commitment my first question is always, “how does it feel?”

If it’s a failed commitment to another person I also want them to think how that person might feel or what their team might be saying to each other. I also ask them to think about how they might feel if someone failed to follow through for them in the same way.

This helps build the motivation for change. The goal is to reignite the commitment.

From there we move quickly to, “Now, what do you want to do about it?”

  • What did you learn? This is an important question. Perhaps you can glean some additional information about structure required to pull off the change. Are there ways to build in hourly, daily or weekly accountability? Do you need a tracking system? A notorious strategy for dieting is to keep a food journal so that dieters are conscious fo what’s going in their mouths. A tally of calories can be an eye opening experience. Information and facts are so helpful to maintain motivation.
  • Is there any clean up you must do as a result? Any apologies or acknowledgements to make? Is trust eroding or dissapointment building between you and others? Acknowledgement and an apology go a long way to reguilding trust and igniting hope.
  • How will you reaffirm your commitment to yourself or others to create accountability?
  • What actions will you take to keep your commitment?
  • What do you need to create logistically to succeed?
  • What progress, if any, did you make? Was there any forward momentum? Any positive steps? If so, take a moment to celebrate.

If you’re like most of my clients you have big dreams and a hearty list of goals to tackle. You have a vision for the difference you want to make. Don’t get in your own way. Break those goals into manageable stepping stones and create the positive mindset that you WILL make them happen one daily choice at a time.

And, if a bump in the road happens caused by you or something out of your control you’ll keep on keeping on. Your plans are too important to give up on!

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Direct download: 66_Stop_Beating_Yourself_Up.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Sarah from South Carolina

I am excited to say that my business has grown over the last 7 years. I am very lucky. As it has grown I have hired more employees. Here’s my drama, I still feel like I’m doing everything. I really thought that as I added more people I’d be able to scale back some on my hours and really focus on my favorite parts of the business. That just hasn’t happened. Some employees do say I’m a perfectionist but I really feel like I let them do their work. I try to modify my expectations. I really want to have some work life balance but so far no matter how many people I hire I’m still working my tush off.

Sarah, so sorry to hear about your struggles. Let’s get you some customized solutions.

As always, In the Defeat Your Drama segments, I will provide solutions based on the information provided. I will obviously not have full details so will provide customized strategies based on what you share. Always consider your own specific circumstances before taking any action. These are suggestions not guarantees.

If you don’t have a specific destination you never know where you’ll end up. The first two strategies are about designing your destination.

#1 Design Your Life and Work

Determine the number of hours you’d like to work per week and how you would like to divide those work hours. Will all of your work time be done on location or will you conduct some of your work from home. Is that a possibility?

Would you like to find time to volunteer in your child’s school or take a class yourself? Where will you carve out time for you each week?

Don’t worry about what your team will think and don’t worry about how you’ll make it all happen yet. This exercise is the first phase of creating your destination. What do you want your life and work to look like? How should the two blend?

#2 Determine What You Love to Do and Are Great at

Track the tasks that you are completing now. Break them down. For instance, if you are engaging in marketing for the business, don’t just write down marketing. Break it down into the smaller tasks of marketing. It’s possible that you love and are great at some of the pieces of marketing but would prefer to delegate other aspects of it.

Once you create your list begin to analyze each task. Categorize them. Highlight the tasks that you love to do and are great at. The goal is to spend a majority of your time there. Create another list of the things that you are not good at and dislike. Those items should be delegated to someone who has the strengths to carry out those tasks well!

Next, analyze the list of tasks you’d like to focus on to determine the number of hours required. Can you fit all of these tasks into the schedule you’ve designed? If not, you may need to add some additional items to your “To Be Delegated” list.

#3 Create a Plan for Who Will Own the Tasks You are Delegating

Once you have your complete list of tasks to offload you’ll need to Create a plan for who will take on the tasks you are delegating. Evaluate your current team. Do you already have people in place on your team who could handle them? If they are not currently able to take on tasks you must delegate what training do they need to get ready? If they do not have the ability even with training what kind of employee(s) must you hire?

Then you must determine whether you have the manpower to backfill the tasks you will offload. Is your team over capacity now or do they have some wiggle room. How much time will they need to complete the added responsibilities. If not, you will need to increase your team.

What kind of employees will you need to hire?

Listen to the 4 episodes on hiring #50 through 53:

EP50: 4 Steps You Must Follow to Avoid the Disastrous Drama Generating New Hire: Plan

EP51: 4 Steps You Must Follow to Avoid the Disastrous Drama Generating New Hire: Source

EP52: 4 Steps You Must Follow to Avoid the Disastrous Drama Generating New Hire: Sift

EP53: 4 Steps You Must Follow to Avoid the Disastrous Drama Generating New Hire: Choose

Make sure that you have a solid plan for each item on your list. Have a specific person assigned along with any training or other communication that will need to occur before the work can be passed along. Create deadlines for communicating the new expectations and for any training. This will give you a timeline for achieving your end goal and will generate the list of tasks you must complete to make it all happen.

#4 Delegate Tasks Well

You say that you still feel like you are doing all of the work. Often my clients express the same feelings. When we dive into how they are delegating work I always find that they are missing at least one of the 6 important steps of great delegation. As soon as they add the missing elements follow through from their team increases exponentially.

I will assume that you are missing some of the steps as well. If you haven’t already, listen to episode #2 Six Simple Steps to Great Delegation:

You’ll be able to determine which step you are missing. Write the steps on a sticky note and make sure that you are setting clear expectations for your team. Hold them accountable. Let them know it’s a new day.

You did mention that you have some perfectionist tendencies. This can make it difficult to delegate. I advise that you start small and begin to work that delegation muscle. Celebrate your successes and keep your eye on that prize! The more you delegate the closer you are to that end goal.

#5 Feel Peace and Less Drama

With a game plan mapped out you can immediately find peace knowing that you are making progress towards your end goal of finding more work life balance and enjoying the benefits of a more productive team.

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Direct download: 65_I_Have_Employees_But_Still_Feel_Like_Im_Doing_all_the_Work.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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I have vivid memories of the nights spent as a young child with good friends and cousins. We would concoct the biggest, most outrageous plans with the pure, innocent intent of making it all happen the next day.

There were plans for a huge circus and parade. We’d create the vision. It was going to be huge and glorious and would take place in the living room. Or how about the magic show we’d have. The neighborhood would join, the audience would be enormous. People would make time to come and we’d have the mad skills required to amaze them all.

The forces of reality didn’t limit our dreams and we lofted off to sleep KNOWING that the visions we’d created would happen. There were no doubts, there were no facts or realities squelching the breadth of our visions.

It didn’t matter that no one knew even one magic trick. We’d learn them quickly in the morning just before the throngs of admirers arrived. And, sure we didn’t have an elephant, lion or tiger to include in the lineup of our circus.   The only animal at our disposal didn’t even know sit or stay. But, we’d figure it all out and put on an amazing show anyway!

As an adult would it serve me to live so out of the realm of reality? No. But, would there be a significant advantage to living a little further along the spectrum of imagination than most adults do? Yes.

As I work with my clients who feel stuck in a rut, unfulfilled and living with the yearning that there must be something more I am amazed at the limits they place on their imaginations.

No I can’t

That wouldn’t be possible.

There’d be too much work to do

I have kids leaving for college soon

I have a mortgage

I don’t have the time

I’m sure it would cost a lot to do that.

I’d be mortified if I tried and it didn’t work out.

What would my family think?

On an on the list goes. Meanwhile they are stopped before they even start. Yes, we need to consider reality. But, not as we brainstorm. What if you are stopping the process prematurely? What would it feel like to imagine from a place where anything seems possible?

What if that big dream could happen? What if you could begin the journey and get at least half way there?  What would your business look like? What could your life be?

Norman Vincent Peale said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, youll land among the stars.”

And how fun would that be?

I think that drama is greater when we feel frustrated and unfulfilled. Why not dream a little dream and create an action plan? You just never know what you can make happen!

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If something is not going well in your department or business look at you first and ask, “What did I do to contribute to this situation?”

Some good places to look first:

  • Did I set clear and consistent expectations (quantity, quality)?
  • Does the team or individual have the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities?
  • Am I helping to create an environment that is encouraging and motivating?
  • Have I made my employees afraid to take action?
  • Is there an effective process in place that is well documented and available?
  • Are the necessary resources available (time, equipment, supplies)?
  • Is the current goal consistent with organization mission and vision?
  • Have I addressed any performance or attitude issues?

As a leader you are empowered to fix what is broken with the team and to improve the outcomes your team is achieving.

Episode 3: Ignite Team Follow Through

Episode 13: Simple Process Improvement

Episode 25: Document for Ease of Mind, Teaching Tools and Freedom

Episode 19: Learn How Leaders Create a Business Culture

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Direct download: 63_Get_Out_of_the_Way_So_Your_Team_Can_Achieve.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16am EDT

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The human brain is amazing! It’s a part of us but almost acts as a separate entity at times, especially if we let it. And it sure can keep busy!   Left to wander our brans can create drama! Do you just let your mind meander or are you intentional with your thoughts?

In every moment you have the opportunity to choose what you focus on.

Choose what your brain places on, what I call, your radar screen.

And in every situation you are in you can be focused on the present in a positive way, focused on the present in a negative way or focused on a time that has passed or hasn’t happened yet.

Many of my clients spend lots of time over analyzing experiences they’ve already had, beating themselves up about where they went wrong or didn’t use the perfect words.

While there is, of course, some benefit to learning from your history, you don’t want to spend a lifetime there!

Others I work with spend a lot of time anticipating the future. They try to figure out every different possible outcome for a current situation and create a plan for each. What if this happens? Then I’ll do this. What if that happens? I don’t want that to happen! I think I can avoid that by doing this!

If this happens that would be great! But I think I need to follow this path or get this person to say this for that to even be a possibility. I’d better get on that.

While creating a solid plan for the future is good you don’t want to miss out on your present.

How many times do you complete a routine only to realize you were completely unaware of your actions? You think, “Did I actually wash my hair?” Or, “Wow, I drove here already!”

How often are you consumed with thoughts and in your own world when you could be connecting with the people around you?

Be intentional about your thoughts. Let them serve you.

  • If it is learning time, yes, go back over past events to see what you could have done better. But do it from a positive place. Give yourself grace, take note and move on. Beating yourself up about something that has already happened does not serve you.
  • Creating an action plan? That’s a great time to focus on the future to create a vision and a path. But place your focus there with excitement, exuberance, and anticipation. Empower yourself by focusing on what is in your control and let what you can not change go.
  • Time to be present. Spend time there and focus on the positive, regardless of your circumstance. If things are going well feel gratitude. If you are experiencing a hardship see it as an opportunity. Avoid worry and what if’ing and instead find what is in your control and focus there.I love this quote: “Challenges can be stepping stones or stumbling blocks. It’s just a matter of how you view them.” An Unknown Author Choose the thoughts that serve you in the moment and be present.
  • And, please, pay attention in those simple moments:
    • Is there a beautiful sunrise happening during your routine drive to work?
    • Are the leaves turning or flowers blooming?
    • Take time to breath and look around your home with gratitude.
    • Are there people around you who would love to connect with you?
    • Remember to ask your kids how their day was.
    • Greet your significant other when they walk into the room.
    • Take the time to feel the love you have for others and express it.
    • Notice the co-worker passing in the hall and take a moment.

Today, be intentional with your thoughts. Begin to practice this control. No more meandering minds.

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Direct download: 62_You_Can_Control_Your_Thoughts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Doesn’t it seem like life brings you one little hiccup after another? It is often easy to stay busy fixing one small challenge after another. Our lives or work can get consumed with the little nuisances coming at us. But, we’d still rather have a bunch of small manageable problems, right?

Well…..I’m going to ask you to examine that today. You see, on the surface, little problems seem small and unrelated and one little challenge after another can consume our entire focus.

Often, however, what we’re missing is that there’s actually a bigger issue to tackle. Focusing on one little snafu after another does nothing more than shift your attention away from the solution that could actually alter your entire circumstance.

As a for instance, I have a client I’ve been working with for a while. At the start of each session he would describe the current challenge:

  • The team missed this deadline,
  • There was a mistake on this project and no one caught it,
  • We had planned to have a celebratory lunch together but we had an emergency,
  • I didn’t have time to exercise
  • I have no clothes that fit right now.

The full focus was on fixing each little issue as it popped up, or at least taking the time to complain about it.

I knew they were all connected but he didn’t……Yet! So, his time was consumed with these seemingly unrelated, but constant small hiccups.

One day, as he described yet another minor frustration, I popped out of my chair and said, “Hold that thought! I’ll be right back!”   I went out into the waiting area and asked the receptionist where they kept decorative vases or containers. She pointed me in the direction of some cabinets in the kitchen and I perused everything they had quickly and to my delight found the perfect visual!

It was a beautiful crystal basket. It had probably originally been delivered filled with a bouquet of flowers.

I brought it back into his office and set it in the center of his conference table.

“What’s this?” he inquired.

“It’s a basket”, I replied, with a smile!

He was puzzled so I went on to explain.

All of the minor frustrations, snafus, challenges that monopolized his focus each week were the cause of a much bigger problem. Looking at them as separate issues was precluding him from working on the real issue.

And there isn’t as much pain involved with a lot of little snafus. There is just a constant low level of frustration. However, pull all of that pain together and you have the motivation to tackle a big issue. It was time for him to muster the strength and tenacity to attack the real issue.

He and his entire team were working without margin. I have never seen a tighter schedule anywhere. They literally have appointments scheduled to the minute. It is one client, my only client, where I KNOW, for a fact that I will finish ON TIME. It doesn’t matter what we are covering at the end of a session. When that clock hits our designated time we are done. On the dot! As a matter of fact, he often gets antsy about 7 minutes before the end. I feel his energy begin to shift to the next task at hand.

Working this tight means that any emergency, any snafu requires hours of finagling with schedules to move things and the ripple affect is felt for weeks or months. I am NOT exaggerating.

One week they lost power for a day and a half. Yes, that is a HUGE inconvenience for any business. But weeks later they were still feeling the pain of that outage. They had no margin to allow for a swift shift of workload or appointments.

So, this beautiful crystal basket was to become the symbol of the bucket in which he must add every little challenge. He needed to start feeling the full brunt and pain of the real issue rather than the small pain of each tiny challenge.

You see, his focus was on all the minor consequences of the bigger issue.

It brings to mind the old saying, “he could not see the forest for the trees.”

For the first few weeks I had to keep reminding him, “Yep, that happened because you have no margin.”

“That must be frustrating. That happens when you have no wiggle room in your schedule.”

“This too is because you are too tightly scheduled.”

I would point out ways that a problem could be so much smaller if they had more time to deal with it.

I pointed out where he would describe a visit with relatives as a drudgery, not because he was reluctant to see them, but because he was overwhelmed by the thought of another drain on his time.

Slowly he began to see. The crystal basket, while not as masculine as the other items in his office, became an important visual to help him begin to see the smaller issues as interconnected. Began to help build the motivation he needed to tackle the larger problem rather than focusing on all of the smaller consequences. A focus on these little things could consume his time but would never transform his situation.

Your larger issue may not be time but I do want to ask you where you might be focusing on the small consequences of poor decisions or a lack of self discipline. Is there a place in your life or work where it is time to shift your focus to a larger issue that is creating the on-going chaos?

  • Is your monthly struggle to pay your rent or mortgage the result of a larger spending issue? Are you perhaps shifting too many resources to smoking, gambling or unnecessary shopping?
  • Is your inability to find time to grocery shop, take a leisurely walk or soak in a hot bath the result of your people pleasing tendencies?
  • Are the struggles you have with your team, significant other, or kids the result of your lack of integrity over all? Do you fail to keep your promises? Or, perhaps the larger issue is your anger.

Start to pay attention to the little struggles and follow the chain back. What causes each? Is there a common theme?

Where is it time for you to focus on the forest rather than the trees?

Package the emotion and frustration and begin to ignite the desire to tackle that bigger issue rather than the ongoing smaller consequences. It is time to truly transform your circumstance!

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Direct download: 61_Quick_Strategies_to_Fix_Your_Frustrations_Now.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT