Live and Lead for Impact with Kirsten E. Ross

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The way we process our life experiences and build relationships is through our use of language. The words we use create vision, emotion and sometimes even physical reaction. That’s whether they are spoken or just live within our thoughts. I recommend that you pay close attention to the language you are using and modify where necessary.

When you are communicating your goals or just thinking to yourself about your future, what words do you use? Do you say, “I will probably get that done”? Or, “I should do that”? If you speak like this you might as well be saying, “I won’t get that done.”

And shoulding on anything creates a victim mentality. Own it! Do you need to do that thing or not.

Watch the language you use around your choices. For instance, if there is a networking breakfast at 7:30 am you could say, “No, I can’t go, I have to get my kids to school in the morning.” Over time, however, the concept of “can’t” may add frustration, or worse, could build resentment against your kids! Your language is taking away your power and creating the illusion that you have a life of boundaries outside of your control. And the truth is, you could go to the breakfast. There would be SOME way to work it out. It might be very hectic, you would have to ask a neighbor for a favor or pay additional money to a child care provider of some sort.   But, if you really needed or wanted to go, and the benefits outweighed the costs, you could make it happen and get there. So, really, you are choosing to prioritize that time with your kids or want to avoid the extra navigation or expense. Use language that is consistent with this fact. “I choose not to attend the networking breakfast at this time.” Now you are empowered. I have many choices, and this is the one I pick.

And stay away from the term “I will Try” altogether! There is no action in trying. This is one of my favorite illustrations.

Hold your pen up in the air and try to put it down. If you actually put the pen down you are not “trying”. You actually did it. Trying to put your pen down means holding there continuously.

This exercise shows that trying is no action and that sometimes it takes more effort to “try” to do something than it does to actually do it. You are expending more energy holding your pen up when you “try” to put it down than you would if you just set the thing down.

Using tentative language carries no power. No sense of certainty. You are letting yourself off too easily. Playing life to win requires persistent determination. The language you use needs to mirror this.

Instead, use words of action, certainty and ownership. Say, I will do that. And be specific. What will you do and by when. Or, “I procrastinated”, rather than, “procrastination happened.” And, my personal favorite, “I commit to that.” Or, “that is my commitment.” We feel commitment in our bodies. So much more powerful than I will try, yes?

Words of action, certainty and ownership are winning words and will move you forward as a winner in your life. They will move your forward towards your goals and will transform your relationships. Communicating authentically will build trust and connection.

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Direct download: DTD_084__Use_Tenacious_Language_to_Create_Ownership_and_Action.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:11am EDT

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Tom from Michigan Writes:

My employee, I’ll call him Bill, is causing a ton of problems. He’s rude, he’s spending a bunch of time on the internet doing who knows what everyday. He’s barely getting any work done. The problem is he’s the only one who knows the software he uses to enroll people in our program. He also handles some really important billing stuff.   What can I co?

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. 

Tom, I’m so sorry that you are in this situation. Let’s get you some customized strategies.

I actually see this issue often. A client tells me that no one else knows the job or has the passwords. You are in a predicament. There are some solutions. It just might take a bit of time to solve.

I preach the importance of documenting processes and information often! As a matter of fact, in episode 25 the topic was Document for Ease of Mind, Teaching Tools and Freedom.   Here’s a link if you haven’t already heard it

But, shoulda, woulda coulda – here you are.

Employees usually are very aware that they are not doing a good job. Some who want to continue their poor behavior will use strategies to create the opportunity to continue without negative consequence. One common strategy is to garner power by hoarding information. You can become indispensible if no one else knows your job.

It sounds like this is exactly what you are experiencing.

I have three strategies for you. The first two will actually help you avoid this circumstance in others for the future.

#1 Team Documentation

I recommend that you begin an initiative to have everyone in the office begin documenting their work processes, creating FAQ’s, organizing passwords.   You can’t single out just Bill. He’d get skittish and avoid this project like the plague. However, if everyone is engaged he might make some progress.

#2 Job Shadowing

Begin a job shadowing program with a goal of providing back up for everyone in the office. Again, you can’t single out Bill. His job security comes from his unique knowledge. He’d be tipped off if you focused on his job only. Emphasize the benefits to employees; ease of mind while on vacation, uninterrupted sick days, for instance. This might give you a fighting chance to get it done.

#3 Terminate and Figure it Out

This one might be too brutal to make happen.   But, I’m throwing it out there because it might be a possibility. I don’t know your full circumstance. It is possible that you are telling yourself it is impossible to terminate “Bill”. But is it? Stop and consider life without him. Would it be glorious? How difficult will it really be to try to figure out what he does and what he knows without his participation? Sometimes we create an obstacle bigger than it really is when we have discomfort from guilt or fear.

The first two strategies will take some time. If he is creating enough collateral damage you may not want to wait. Get real about the full impact you would experience by letting him go immediately. Then weigh the pros and cons. Negative impact from having to figure it all out against the positive impact of no longer dealing with his antics and the full fall out he creates for your team, your business, your customers. How would it feel to no longer have to waste money paying someone to surf the internet rather than work?

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Direct download: 83_How_Can_I_Fire_this_Employee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Recently I was meeting with the COO for a client company to discuss some issues I had identified. The company had a stated desire to improve productivity numbers and yet the manager charged with the responsibility had been unable to generate improvement. Why? Because his boss wanted to approve any changes in the department prior to implementation. Okay, a bit micro-managy potentially.

The bigger problem, however, every time the manager shared a recommendation the boss said, “Sounds good, we’ll talk about it.” And then there was NEVER time to “talk about it.”

This manager was beyond frustrated to say the least!

Ummmmm……if you want to insert yourself into the process as a leader you have to make the time to make things happen. You must create the foundation to support your constant involvement. You can’t have it both ways. The boss was a brake system. Nothing was moving forward.

As I shared the situation with the COO I got the visual and shared, “You’re telling him you want the water to boil but his boss is blowing out the flame!”

Accountability with no opportunity is one of the worst positions to be in as a leader. This company has a passionate loyal manager with the knowledge and desire to do a great job but his hands are tied.   And he’s getting the double whammy affect, the frustration of not getting to implement the ideas he has and the hand slap of not meeting his prescribed objectives.

It’s not a novel problem. I have seen it many, many times.  So, today I ask you to consider, where are you stopping the forward momentum of fired up employees? Where have you given your team specific objectives but put on the brakes before they could make any change?

Where are YOU blowing out the flame?

Where must you remove yourself from the process to ignite forward momentum? A key to great leadership is to become a resource that allows others to succeed.

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Direct download: 82_Are_You_Blowing_out_the_Flame.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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Bust the 4 D’s = in there share a simple mindset tweak and some phrases to use –

One of my managers had to do a conversations the same evening as the webinar!  She was very pleased to report that she handled the deflection and denial and was ready for it! -Mary

Bust the 4 D’s of Discipline Avoidance

6 Simple Steps of Great Delegation episode # 2

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Direct download: 81_Often_A_Simple_Tweak_Is_All_It_Takes_To_Overcome_A_Challenge.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

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I live in an area that occasionally receives lots of snow in a short period of time. This weekend was one of those occasions. We got dumped on for hours causing many schools and businesses to close. Now, I live on a court that is situated off of a side street that horse shoes a semi-main road. In other words, I am a bit off the beaten path. No road that I’m on or near is considered a priority. I tell you all of this to say that usually when we get a lot of snow like we did this weekend, we end up being snowed in…….for a while.

In my years living here I have seen garbage trucks get stuck in the court, some utility trucks and one time a plow that scooped it’s way a bit too far into the court got stuck. He was trying to plow the road and steer clear of the court but missed. My neighbor helped dig him out and so, out of appreciation and possibly a bit of guilt, he ended up plowing us out much earlier than he would have.

Last year we had historical amounts of snow and might have spent weeks snowed in if it weren’t for the efforts of my husband and a neighbor who used their large snow blowers to circle the court again and again and again to create a path large enough for a vehicle to travel in our out of the area. They worked hard to help out all of the neighbors living on the court.

Today we received the best gift! A pickup truck owner with a plow on the front spent about an hour plowing us out. He maneuvered and pushed snow. It was a tedious task.

What does all of this have to do with drama and attitude, you might ask?

Well, it relates to drama because we, unfortunately, have a neighbor not well versed in the art of gratitude. As a matter of fact, he becomes quite negative when receiving a favor. He creates negative outcomes for himself and I think he is completely oblivious. His negativity generates drama and I thought perhaps others could learn from his story.

You see, he seems to live with a fear or paranoia that people are out to get him. He looks for the negative in a situation and reacts with anger and aggression. I watched it happen last year during the big snows and again this week.

As I said, last year my husband and a neighbor spent hours snow blowing a path for the 5 families who live on the court. It was tough, tough work. They were drenched in sweat as they leaned in with all they had into their powerful snow blowers. My neighbor probably should not have even been out there! He’s in his 70’s and has had knee replacement surgery. He walks slowly. It was surprising and a bit concerning to see him working that hard.

As they worked, the wind blew and some snow continued to fall. They blew the snow into the center of the court so had to constantly adjust the machines to aim the snow to the right spot. Occasionally the wind picked up and sent snow flying.

My angry neighbor came outside. Did he say thank you for all the hard work they were doing? No! He yelled at them, stopping them in their tracks, to tell them that a bit of snow was blowing in his driveway as they worked.

Ummmmm…..not nearly as much snow as was present EVERYWHERE around us! They listened, tried to explain that the wind was out of their control, promised to do their best and then got back to work,

Shortly after the twenty something year old son from that house came out, got in his car and got stuck in the court. Great!

My husband and neighbor stopped their work and went to try to help. The son stayed in the car while his 70 something father, 70 something neighbor and my husband all tried to push. The neighbor continued to yell.

The result, my husband and neighbor left them to deal with the stuck vehicle and got back to snow blowing. Who wants to work that hard to get yelled at?

This year as the man in the truck plowed our court that same neighbor stood in his snow-filled driveway, arms folded, waiting for a bit of snow to end up in his drive. I had just returned from running out to give the man a plate of brownies and sat inside thinking, “now what!” I was also thankful that I had shared the brownies. This angry neighbor wouldn’t be the only spokesperson for the court.

The truck owner was taking great care to situate the building piles of snow in between driveways. A tough task in a court lined with houses!

The angry neighbor walked into the street to flag the truck owner down. I could hear his voice and see his gestures but couldn’t make out what he was saying – but it appeared to be……..don’t get anymore snow in my driveway. And his tone was aggressive.

Well, the driver didn’t push snow in front of his driveway but sure wasn’t as careful in that area.

I wouldn’t call the truck driver vindictive. I would say that he just wasn’t as inspired to do his best on that side of the court.

After the brownies, the area on my side was wonderful.

The lessons for you today……..ask yourself, where are you forgetting to acknowledge the intended good deed while focusing instead on a small inconsequential negative outcome?

Did someone bring you coffee but forget the sugar?

Have one of your employees taken initiative to re-organize the supply closet and moved an item to a spot you can’t reach?

Did your team work super hard today but still get a complaint from a disgruntled customer?

An attitude of gratitude takes you farther than a negative one. No, don’t ignore what must change but make sure your focus is on the right place for the best outcomes. You might end up with a pile of snow half covering your driveway….just sayin…….

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Direct download: 80_Is_Your_Attitude_Generating_Drama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:33am EDT

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Your plugging along working and feeling productive with a vision of an on time exit from work when you look up to see the Workplace Whiner standing in your doorway.

Oh No!! Not now! Not today!

The energy-zapping, soul-sucking minutes that can drag into an hour. Time you can never get back. You want to scream or slam the door in their face but you don’t want them to feel bad……or walk around complaining about you!

Years ago when I worked in an office full time we had an employee who walked around with a coffee cup for hours every day. We called the mug his “decoy”. He’d make it appear as though he was just out on a quick jaunt to refill but this was obviously not his true mission.   Office by office he’d stop to chat, sharing tidbits he’d heard along the way. He was also known as the department spy. The workplace whiner can take many forms. They can be frustrated about co-workers or personal injustices. Whatever the topic, they are breading drama wherever they go.

Many of my clients struggle to avoid the workplace whiner. Here are some of the key strategies I share with them. Pick the one that feels right for you and your circumstance.

1. This one is the least direct but usually yields a good result. A quick excuse stated as you focus intently on your screen or head out the door. “I’m so sorry. I’m on a deadline so can chat for 5 minutes but no more. What’s up?”

I don’t condone lying. So, I’m not really suggesting that you say you are on a deadline when you aren’t. I just think it’s safe to assume that there is always a priority looming when you are at work. You are there to be productive, after all. And just fill in the blank with the actual time frame or leave it out altogether if you prefer to make an instant get away.

2. This option is one that will achieve your end result over time. Ultimately, the workplace whiner is looking for the sympathetic ear. That person who will commiserate with their opinions and validate their misery. They are intentional about their targets. It’s no fun to whine to someone who is coming back at you with butterflies and sunshine. They aren’t looking for a new perspective they seek someone to join them in their funk. So, I suggest that you begin sharing ideas about the more positive perspective they might consider as they describe their negative view. Or, share how wonderful you think that situation sounds or how they might improve the situation with a proactive approach. You won’t be the chosen one for long if you don’t empathize or commiserate.

3. No beating around the bush with this one. The more direct approach that will earn you the quickest retreat is to simply state that you have made it your personal goal to remain focused on all things positive. You’ve given up watching the news and will be happy to engage in problem solving activities but are committed to steering clear of complaining or any other negative, low energy inputs.It will be immediately obvious to even the most self-absorbed whiner that you are not the ideal target. Some will put up a bit of a fight but stand your ground. ‘If you have any positive news to share I am all ears. If not, I need to stop you right there and get back to my work.”

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Direct download: 79_3_Tactics_You_Must_Use_to_Thwart_the_Workplace_Whiner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT