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Master Skill Building for Habits to Support the Life You Really Want

When you focus on skill building for habits that serve you, rather than relying on willpower, you’ll finally be able to create the life you really want to live. “The future depends on what we do in the present.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

The Yo-Yo diet, a roller coaster of emotions, the ebb and flow of life are expressions we use to describe how life never happens in a straight line. We’re not robots, nor do we rely on instinct like animals do. We have to use our brains to plan, to choose, to decide, to act… Yet we often revert to unhealthy old behaviors rather than adopt new, healthier ones. Why is that?

When you try to do something that goes against your habitual behavior, you fight not only against your circumstances; you fight against yourself! But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. When you focus on skill building for habits that serve you rather than on changing solely by means of willpower, you’ll finally be able to create the life you really want to live.

According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, “40% to 45% of what we do every day is actually habit.” His studies led him to discover that every habit has three components. 1) The Cue – the trigger for the behavior; 2) The Behavior – what you do; and 3) The Reward – teaches your brain how to encode the pattern of behavior. Most people focus on the behavior, but it’s the cue and the reward that really determine why you practice a specific habit.

Do you want to reset your habits? It can be done through skill building. For habits to stick, they have to become your default state of being. Habits are automatic, naturally brain-friendly, learned behaviors. Yes, you’ve learned every habit you have.

 

That means you have the power to mindfully create any habit you want, if you learn the foundation of skill building for habits. Here are seven steps to make it happen…

 

  1. Identify one small action or thought you really want to embrace. Make it tiny and specific to increase your chances of success. For example, if you want to journal so you become more self-aware of the habits that are holding you back, your first step will be to buy a special journal and pen, and keep them with you.

 

  1. Choose an anchor behavior (The Cue) that triggers your new action. As soon as you experience a supportive action or self-limiting belief, jot in your journal a note, so you can explore it later in the day.

 

  1. Keep your new behavior (The Behavior) simple.Don’t over-complicate things or rush into trying to do too much. Every night, brew a cup of tea, sit in a designated spot and finish the entry in your journal.

 

  1. Create an environment conducive to success.If you habitually sit in front of the TV after dinner, don’t sit in that chair to journal. This helps break the cycle.

 

  1. Celebrate (The Reward).Don’t wait for some big milestone, before you celebrate. Each time you tell yourself you did a great job today, you release dopamine into your brain. This reward makes you want to replicate the behavior to experience that feeling again. If you have trouble talking nicely to yourself, be sure to enlist the help of a mentor, coach or friend who celebrates every win, no matter if they seem small. A win is a WIN!

 

  1. Rinse and repeat.Repetition is the mother of retention. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

 

  1. Assess and adjust.Even if a method worked for someone else, if it doesn’t work for you, try something different until you find a method that does work. Actively search for the best solution for YOU.

 

Over time, your new habit will be stored in your unconscious mind. It will become automatic and easy to do. No more fighting yourself to do what you really want! Baby steps lead to transformation. If you’d like guidance and accountability as you develop your skills for building new habits, please contact me and an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). It’s easier when you have help.

How to Get People to Do Something with the Training You Provide

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to teach someone something and they just don’t get it or take action on it. After all, the job of a leader is to get people to do something, not simply to know something. “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to teach someone something, and they just don’t get it or take action on it. After all, the job of a leader is to get people to do something, not simply to know something. You can get people to act by a variety of methods: demanding, coercing, guilting, shaming, pleading, motivating, inspiring, convincing, reasoning, tricking, etc. However, the best ways to get people to do something focus on helping them see outside the box – to think expansively about themselves, others, and the opportunities in front of them.

As a leader, it’s imperative that you know the challenges your team or clients face. (For the purposes of clarity, within this article, I’ll refer to those that you lead as your “followers”.)  Here are three common, but very critical, life and business skills that followers, especially Millenials and Gen Xers, need to improve today, plus suggestions on how you get them to see outside the box on each one…

1. Clear communication skills. Many people grow up in families plagued by communication gaps, so it’s not surprising that they lack communication skills as adults. People often imagine that they know what the other person means. Between the two extremes – droning on without revealing anything or speaking cryptically and leaving out critical information – there is a sweet spot of communicating with clarity and completeness of thought.

Help your followers see that clear communication stems from respect for others, acknowledging that everyone has something of value to offer. When they understand they have a common purpose, they’ll want to give all the relevant information others need to excel in their portion of the job.

 

2. Self-worth and self-motivation. People internalize too much – they confuse doing something with being something. As a result, they don’t trust themselves; they constantly wait for others to tell them what to do. Through your words and actions, you can intentionally plant seeds of growth that replace their limiting doubts. 

Help your followers develop mindfulness, so they can assess themselves accurately. Let them see that you believe in them. As you guide them from the sidelines, reinforce that each step forward is important. This will add to their self-confidence and self-trust.

 

3. Critical thinking. Critical or analytical thinking requires a person to slow down and gather information and then see its importance in relation to other information. It involves recognizing the cause and effect of a certain course of action. It takes a lot of effort to weed out irrelevant information and distill the important information into actionable and insightful recommendations.

Help your followers become more curious by encouraging them to have the self-discipline to dig deeply. They do this by asking “why?” over and over, until the subject is thoroughly understood. Make sure they ask “why?” from their own standpoint and also from an opposing viewpoint. This will help them become aware of any biases they might have.

 

These simple, but powerful, suggestions can help you get your followers to finally take action and do something with the training you give. Are you striving to improve your leadership skills? What challenges you the most? Please come over to my Facebook page and share your thoughts. Also, in September, my colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

You Don’t Have to Be a Natural Born Leader to Make Leadership Your Career

Do you have what it takes to become a leader? And if you’re not a natural born leader, does that mean you shouldn’t pursue leadership skills? Absolutely not! I firmly believe everyone’s life will be bettered by developing these four leadership skills that every natural born leader displays...“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position.” –Brian Tracy

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be a leader? Perhaps other people think so, but how can you know for sure? And if you’re not a natural born leader, does that mean you shouldn’t pursue leadership skills? Absolutely not! Leadership is all about people and relationships, which is the fabric of life.

 

That’s why I firmly believe everyone’s life is enhanced by developing the four following skills that every natural born leader displays

 

1 . Natural born leaders want to help other people excel. When someone has mastered a skill, their self-confidence and productivity skyrockets. They become enthusiastic and more invested.

The challenge: But what happens to you when you see someone excel at something that you don’t? Do you panic because it feels like you’re losing control? Does a competitive personality make it hard for you to see someone excel above you? Do your own insecurities make you want to sabotage or cut others down, so they can’t become better than you?

The solution: Leadership greatness takes “you” out of the equation and concentrates on seeing the value of helping others to progress to mastery.

 

2. Natural born leaders make trust-building a priority. Trust is built on integrity. People need to know where they stand with you.

The challenge: But what if you can’t stand up for what you believe in? One day you let things slide, whereas the next day you make a huge issue over it. And if things don’t turn out as you expect, you run away either physically or mentally? Maybe you even have a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude toward some things.

The solution: Leaders with integrity are seen as consistent, dependable and accountable for their actions, which makes people feel safe. Trust ensures that teams collaborate at a very high level.

 

3. Natural born leaders fine-tune their instincts and intuition. Before anyone else sees it, they can sniff out signals and trends in their environment.

The challenge: But what if your focus is just getting through today, without much thought of tomorrow? You also struggle because you can’t read people very well.

The solution: Inspirational leaders use empathy and NLP skills to notice how people react and respond, which helps them interpret the verbal and nonverbal communication correctly. They can detect shifts in the “climate” of the room. This gives them the advantage of intuitively knowing the best timing for an appropriate course of action.

 

4. Natural born leaders want to make a real difference. When you’re on a mission to make the lives of others better, your enthusiasm is contagious.

The challenge: But what if you have great ideas, but can’t communicate them well enough to bring others on board? You don’t know how to translate those ideas into systems, processes and procedures that others can sustainably follow.

The solution: Extraordinary leaders know how to share their vision in a way that fully engages and energizes others. They structure the business in way that helps the team align with that mission. They specifically design jobs to inject purpose and meaning into the work.

 

Are you facing specific challenges that make it hard for you to develop or improve your leadership skills? My colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within, and identify ways to live differently, love fully, and be, wholly, who we are meant to be. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. (We’ll be arriving on September 5th and leaving September 11th.)

Feeling Lost? 3 Tips to Get You Headed in the Direction You Want to Go

When you’re feeling lost and without direction in life, it’s helpful to ask questions to assess your life and then change what isn’t working for you any longer. Here are three life lessons that will have the biggest impact in helping you create more joy in these lost areas of your life.  “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Where are you headed in life? Are you on the right path? Are you feeling lost? Is it time for a course correction? Every so often it’s beneficial to ask questions like these so you can assess your wellbeing, dreams and desires…and then change what isn’t working for you any longer.

Take a moment to experience how your body reacts to the following seventeen areas of life. Does each one make feel free and joyful, or do some of them make you experience pain, loss or other negative effects?

    1. Spirituality
    2. Romance
    3. Diet
    4. Exercise
    5. Sleep
    6. Home
    7. Work
    8. Growth & learning
    9. Finances
    10. Family
    11. Friends
    12. Fun
    13. Community
    14. Mindfulness
    15. Breathing
    16. Daily relaxation
    17. Touch

This exploratory exercise helps you identify the areas of life that are making you feel lost. It takes courage to give attention to these feelings, but it’s the first step to feeling whole again. Over the last few years, I’ve been coaching people to extraordinary personal success. Along the way, I’ve gleaned some life lessons that you can use to create more joy in these lost areas of your life. Here are three of them that make the biggest impact:

1. Be the boss…take responsibility…make the hard choices. I’ve found that so many people struggle with taking ownership of their own lives. Somewhere along the way, they’ve given away their power to things that don’t serve them anymore. They don’t feel like they control their own lives.

But at some point, you have to realize you chose those things…the job, the family, the life. You may not be able to change your past, but if you want your future to reflect your desires, start managing your life.

I don’t mean quitting your job, divorcing your spouse and abandoning your children. Instead of following the whims of your past, mindfully shift your thoughts and experiences to ones that bring you joy. No matter what the circumstance is, you can change your focus. Rather than fixating on an annoyance, look for the positive in each experience. As you make this your new way of being, you’ll find that the former irritations and annoyances bother you little, if at all. 

2. Distinguish healthy habits from mindless routines. Pay attention to how your daily habits may be shutting you off from new experiences. For example, when you work for yourself, you sit at home in front of a computer a lot. This creates tunnel vision. If you don’t go out to lunch with friends; if you don’t leave the house; if you don’t get outside stimuli…life begins to stagnate. Your daily routine imprisons you, without you even realizing it.

Look for ways to shake things up…eat a different breakfast, try a different exercise routine, accept more invitations to get out. Become more mindful and self-aware of what you say “yes” or “no” to. In that way, you make each decision a choice, not just a reflexive habit that may not be serving you any more.

3. Ask for and accept help…often. Independence is especially prized in Western culture. But think about this: what dreams could you pursue, if you relied more on others who want to help? Let go of that voice that says you have to do it by yourself. (If you’re curious about exploring a coaching partnership, but you still have reservations, please reach out to me with any questions.)

When you’re feeling lost, it’s important to actively choose systems for living that help you become the person you want to be. If you’d like to dig more deeply into assessing your state of wellness, I invite you to download my free 7-Point Wellness Assessment. It’s one of the tools I use in my coaching practice to start clients on the journey to finding their personal truth.

5 Principles of Thoughtful Leadership Make Good Leaders Even Better

Principles of Thoughtful Leadership“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” ~ Rosa Parks

When you look at a powerful, inspiring leader, you’re seeing the results of her years of growing into her leadership skills. Behind her polished appearance are tears, disappointments, frustrations, and hard-learned lessons. She has experienced hiccups in her plans, inadequacies in her preparation, and unseen circumstances that sidelined her attempts. But she kept striving to improve until she achieved excellence. You can do the same by applying the principles of thoughtful leadership.

How the principles of thoughtful leadership can make a good leader into an excellent leader…

Practice. Every skill is learned through practice; the same is true of leadership. Even if you don’t think you have a natural ability to lead, you can practice, practice, practice, until it becomes a part of you.

A major area to work on is your ability to make decisions quickly and wisely. You may be good at quick decisions, but are they always good ones? If not, don’t give up. Lean into decision-making. View each decision as a practice run and pay attention to the consequences. Ask yourself why it turned out well or why it didn’t. That’s how you learn, if you don’t take yourself too seriously.

There’s a lot of wisdom in the advice to “fail early and fail often,” even though I don’t think of anything as failure. Life is a journey full of lessons, because often you’re making decisions on incomplete or contradictory information. It’s what you learn that matters. Along the way, it’s also important to practice self-forgiveness, gratitude, and other somatic practices.

Lead from Different Directions. If you think a leader can only be the person out in front, like a controlling CEO or president, then it’s time to rethink your definition of leadership.

Thoughtful leaders don’t need to control everything. They recognize the talent of the team, and they encourage the most qualified person to run with a project or initiative. They step out of the way and guide from the background, when needed.

I love how the National Outdoor Leadership School describes the four approaches to leadership. As a designated leader, you take responsibility for the group and keep it on track. But you often ask your active followers to participate in group decisions, as their input gives you a clearer picture. Everyone on the team helps each other as peer leaders. And everyone carries their own weight because they exercise self-leadership and remain organized and motivated.

Be a Team Player. It’s more important to build solid relationships within your organization than “getting the job done,” if that means trampling on your team cohesion. It’s not always easy to effectively resolve conflict among a diverse group of people, but if you show you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and work alongside them, or you’re willing to fill in for them when necessary, that goes a long way to building a “collaborative, family feeling.” This approach fosters a spirit of understanding, communication, motivation, and even a sense of humor.

Stay Calm. Maintaining flexibility under adversity is another vital leadership skill. Embodied leaders don’t become leaders despite those adversities. They’ve become leaders because they used those adversities to their advantage.

There may be times you may want to throw in the towel, but a wiser course is to weigh your options. Ask yourself, “if I do that, what good will it do? …what harm will it do?”

Trying to control everything leads to burnout faster than anything. Learn to let go of things you can’t control, and become comfortable with changes. Maintain your composure and calm, as you switch on your problem-solving skills.  

Develop the presence of mind to look past the immediate disaster/challenge/distraction and focus on the most important task at hand. You can’t afford to panic or become paralyzed with fear. It’s only by embracing discomfort that you can purposefully expand your comfort zone.

Disconnect to Reconnect. Technology is sapping our ability to analyze, strategize and dream big. We must remain connected to nature. You’ll find that regularly immersing yourself in nature removes distractions so you can make decisions for the right reasons.

Are you ready to claim the leader within you? My colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within, and identify ways to live differently, love fully, and be, wholly, who we are meant to be. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. (We’ll be arriving on September 5th and leaving September 11th.) It’s going to be a wonderful, life-changing experience.

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