Maria Connolly, LPC

Tag: business excellence

When you unlock your potential for precise, non-verbal communication, flexibility and overall performance, you can create a more elegant and powerful appearance as you confidently and easily communicate and build rapport with colleagues clients, friends and family.

Starting Your Own Private Practice? Five Things You Should Know…

Starting your own private practice or life coaching business will be more successful and less stressful if you consider these five things before you begin.Does starting your own private practice appeal to you? This can be a big transition for therapists, counselors, social workers, life coaches etc. But maybe you’re tired of the 9-5 job or you want more freedom to spend time on what’s really important to you. If so, there are some things that you should consider first so the transition to being an entrepreneur is easier and less stressful.

While it may seem tempting, it’s not wise to hand in your resignation without first having your new business up and running. And it’s not enough to build your business around something that you’re passionate about. Your new business must fit into what supports the kind of life you want for yourself and your family. It’s important to know that you can really make a living at your new business.

Consider the following questions before starting your own private practice:

What kind of life do you really want to live? A day-to-day existence isn’t enough. Life is meant to be enjoyed to the full! Now is the time to mindfully reflect on what it is that you really want and the values you hold dear. What personal goals have you been putting off? What do you want your life to look like 5, 10, 15 years from now? How do you want to renew your purpose in life? What are you going to do when you start to feel stuck?

How will you finance the new business? Starting a business on credit card debt is very stressful for you and your family. Start saving 20-40% out of each paycheck. Within a year, you’ll be in a good financial position to start your own business. During this time, learn to live on a budget and eliminate as much debt as possible. Put yourself into a position where you can live without a paycheck for a year, plus have extra for an emergency fund.

What’s your business plan? What’s your big picture dream for starting your own private practice? This is the time to fill notebooks full of all your ideas. What services or products will you offer? How will you deliver them? What does the sales process look like? How much money do you need to make monthly? Annually? How many sales do you have to make to fulfill that goal? Will you have employees, partners, sponsors, investors, etc? Where will your office be? What will your website look like? Which social media platforms will you find your clients on? How will you keep track of everything? A good online resource for getting started is

Who will buy from you and why will they want to? A business isn’t a business unless you have clients or customers. Start telling everyone that you’re starting your own private practice. Tell your friends, family, and acquaintances. Ask them if they would be interested in becoming a client or if they know of anyone who would be interested.

One of the biggest hurdles is narrowing down to a niche or audience that will really buy from you. If you try to appeal to everyone…you’ll appeal to no one. So don’t be afraid to be very specific about who you want to work with. It’s important to create a very clear marketing message of who you serve and what value you bring to them.

What kind of learning curve are you up against? There’s a lot involved in starting your own private practice. It’s time to assess what skills you have and what you still need to learn. Do you need further training in NLP? Do you need more computer skills? How about business finance and operational skills? What about marketing skills? Learn as much as you can now, because once you start your own business, you’re going to be really busy.

I enjoy helping fellow practitioners who are eager to build their own business, integrating personal excellence, core values and originality. If you could benefit from some one-on-one coaching, contact me and we can discuss your options.

To give you a super solid foundation for starting your own private practice, I also want to invite you to attend Institute for Professional Leadership fall class, Creating Your Dream Practice. As one of the instructors, I can personally guarantee you’ll walk away with a compelling business vision, clarity on your unique business identity, and a better understanding of your relationship with money and marketing. Feel free to contact me and ask any questions you might have.

Strong Convictions – The Secret to Becoming an Influential Leader in Your Community

Learn how you can model strong convictions in your leadership and experience greater success as you avoid alienating others by being wishy washy or arrogant“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” ~ Ralph Lauren

Have you ever eaten a dish of food that was ho-hum and boring, and then someone adds a secret ingredient that really gives it a zing of excellence? In life and business, the secret ingredient that gives you a zing and makes you stand out are strong convictions.

When you’re strongly convinced that what you do and say matter and that what you offer is of great value to others, your energy shifts and you become more attractive and persuasive. The people you work with feel more at ease. It engenders a feeling of security. It helps everyone concentrate on doing their best work, because they see that everything is under control.

In contrast, uncertainty – the opposite of conviction –is perceived by the brain as a threat. It actually causes a release of the stress hormone cortisol, which disrupts your memory, and puts your physical, emotional and mental health at risk.

How can you model strong convictions in your leadership without alienating others? If you lack conviction, you can gain it through introspection and self-awareness. If you already have strong convictions, you can learn to express them in a pleasantly persuasive and compelling manner. As you read the following section, give yourself a rating on the scale of 1 to 10 for each one, so as to determine your strengths and weaknesses.

 “The Seven B’s of Strong Convictions” that will make your leadership skills outstanding:

Be informed. Know your topic forwards and backwards. When you have an excellent grasp of a subject, you can be absolutely convinced that you’ve chosen the best course of action. You can effectively apply what you know about the subject to real life situations.

Be strong. Make a stand for what you believe to be important and you won’t be swayed by everything that comes along. Use your strength for the good of others. Have the courage to make difficult decisions, take responsibility and do what’s best for the people you’re leading. This means you don’t give up when the going gets tough. You’re willing to take the bullet for your people. You back them up, never shifting blame. Leaders with true conviction are able to encourage others to openly speak up and share their viewpoints even if what they say is hard to hear.

Be tuned-in to your intuition. Your intuition or “gut instincts” are like a sixth sense where you quickly read a situation because you recognize subtle cues. It’s not the same as jumping to conclusions. Rather it takes time and mindful effort to increase your emotional intelligence. Once you learn to identify when you’re being influenced by unfounded assumptions or unresolved emotions stemming from unrelated experiences, you can filter these out. Then you’ll be able to trust your intuition and stop second guessing yourself or playing the “what if” game.

Be positive. See the good in everyone and everything, even in difficult times. Positive thinking gives your brain a chance to focus on stress-free thoughts, quieting fears and irrational thinking. Learn to choose a positive state, and you’ll be amazed at how it boosts your energy level.

Be passionate. Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to make things happen. Of course, realistically we all have limitations. But the trick is not to accept any limitation without constantly testing their boundaries. Maybe you can’t do it today, but with training, increased knowledge and experience you can do it tomorrow. Don’t give up on your dream.

Be humble. Jump in and do the dirty work when it’s needed. Only ask your followers to do what you’re willing to do. Support, inspire and encourage those around you. Through your actions, prove that you walk the talk, never adopting the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude.

Be friends with change. Change is not your enemy. It’s natural to want to feel in control rather than being at the mercy of what life throws at you. Life happens. It’s not a personal failure when you can’t control what happens. However, how your react to it is totally within your control. Focus on that.

When you act with conviction, everyone around you unconsciously absorbs this belief and emotional state. Whether you’re leading a team at work, or you want to increase your self-confidence and grow as a person, or even if you want to be a better role model for your children, conviction is essential to your success. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Get a jumpstart on fine-tuning your conviction by attending our special talk: Choose Life Enhancing Beliefs on Thursday, August 25th. Nando Raynolds and I will be meeting with you at 600 Siskiyou, Ashland, Oregon to share how NLP can expand your abilities for happiness and excellence. Learn more about it by clicking here or contact me for more details. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

Excellence is a Habit that Prevents Self-Defeating Beliefs and Behavior

Excellence is a habit that prevents self-defeating beliefs and behaviors from getting a foothold, thereby giving you the resources to make your life vision a reality. What is the controlling force in your life? Is it conscious choice or the power of habit? If you picked “habits’, you’re right!  And that’s a good thing, because if you had to stop and make a brand new decision about every little thing in life, you’d never make it out of bed, let alone get to work. You might get stuck on something nonessential like – “Should I put my shoe on my left foot first this morning or on my right foot?” Most habits are behaviors that save you a great deal of time.

But not all the habits are helpful. Some actually get in your way of making progress toward desired goals. For example, you might want to lose weight, but if it’s your habit to watch TV while you eat, you won’t be mindful about the type and amount of food you eat. It also promotes a less active lifestyle. Bad habits like this one are cruel taskmasters. They stop you from being the best version of you possible.

Excellence is a habit that supports you in your quest for a more fulfilling life. Let’s first see how bad habits are able to get such a strong hold over you.

How is a habit formed? Any activity or thought (physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual) will become a pattern or a habit if you repeat it often enough. They actually create physical, electrical and chemical pathways that become set in your brain. Yes, there are well-worn paths in your brain, and they got there just like you’d make a trail through a grassy meadow by going over the same ground again and again until you wore down the grass into bare soil. (If you’d like to learn more, check out Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. I highly recommend it.)

Once patterns of behaviors are set, they run unconsciously in the background, like your computer’s operating system. You don’t see them or think about them, but these unconscious patterns control your life.

Many of the patterns are laid down as a result of fears from early childhood events, and they will draw you off the path to success. Here are some of the worst habits that even leaders may fall prey to…

  1. Failure to hold on to your purpose.To know what adds meaning to your life, you must make time to be quiet and thoughtful. You need to be willing to be vulnerable and dig deeply into what really matters to you. Once you identify your purpose, success requires that you hold on to it and not let go. Being specific and intentional about what you want drives the creation of excellence as a habit and keeps you from reverting to the past.
  1. Unclear goals. A vision without a plan is just a wish. You have to define your goals and then chunk them down into baby steps so you can successful accomplish them.
  1. Inaction. Once you have a well-defined plan and you’ve defined your mini goals, you still need to take action. Procrastination and perfectionism are enemies to action. Effective leaders don’t wait for the perfect moment or try to plan for every contingency. Taking the first step may be the hardest, but have faith that everything will fall into place as you go.
  1. Loss of focus.Distractions and overstimulation interfere with planning and achieving goals. When your mind leaps from one thought to another, practice calming breathing exercises. Regularly spend time in mindful meditation. Learn to focus on one thing at a time.
  1. Acceptance of the status quo. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you’re content with where you are, that’s fine. But if you want to excel, it requires that you take risks and get out of your comfort zone. You can’t change what’s going on around you until you change what’s going on within you. Rekindle the fire within yourself. Your determination and commitment will enable you to attain the success you seek. Each success fuels your self-confidence and spurs you on to greater efforts.

Do you agree that excellence is a habit you want in your life? Then, I’m happy to invite you to a special talk: Choose Life Enhancing Beliefs on Thursday, August 25th. Nando Raynolds and I will be meeting with you in Ashland, Oregon to share how NLP can expand your abilities for happiness and excellence. This is a great first step in reassessing your goals and analyzing your life to see if you’re incorporating excellence into your habits. Learn more about it by clicking here or contact me for more details. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

Embodied Learning – A Lifelong Practice that Leads to Excellence and Mastery

Embodied learning means there’s a harmony between your intellectual thoughts, emotional state and body organization as you learn to model the life you want.“By my actions teach my mind.” ~ William Shakespeare

Learning doesn’t stop when you finish your schooling. As the world has become more connected we are required to continually learn new skills and adapt to change. This takes great flexibility in our thinking. Yet this raises an important question: Is thinking enough to achieve mastery and excellence? No, and here’s why…

Do you really know ‘how to learn’?

Perhaps your style of learning has been to memorize facts intellectually until you take a test or do a task, and then you quickly forget it. Or perhaps you “know” a topic but never put it into practice, let alone master it.

Honestly, would you book Carnegie Hall for your daughter’s piano recital if she had only looked at a music book? No, a master pianist has years of practice to train the mind (to gain the skill), the body (to gain the dexterity) and the spirit (to gain the confidence) to cooperate together harmoniously. Mastery, through embodied learning, requires all three – the mind, the body, and the spirit.

Learning with the Mind. The educational system traditionally teaches the mind. As a result, many people stay stuck because they theoretically know what they should do, but they feel overwhelmed or are distracted by the next “bright, shiny object” that comes along. There’s too much information for any of us to process. We’re moving at a speed that demands immediate action.

In order to master a skill, it’s vital to stay connected as you embody your higher purpose and remain focused on what’s important. This requires…

Learning with the Spirit. Over time we establish a characteristic mood. People can see us as cheery or brooding, positive or negative, and helpful or closed-minded to give a few examples. People will either be repelled or attracted by our mood.

Emotions, on the other hand, come and go as situations change. However, if you’re not skilled in resolving your emotions they take on a life of their own and become a mood. For example, if you don’t effectively deal with your sadness and loss, it may become a mood of depression.

Your emotions and moods shape the way you learn. If you’re negative, and self-defeating, your learning and productivity will suffer, regardless of how skilled you are. On the other hand, if you’re open and curious you’ll be receptive to learning and increase your creative and innovative skills.

Learning with the Body. To manage your own emotions (not repressing them or becoming victims of them) you must approach them from a somatic perspective. How you organize your body produces certain moods and emotions, both positive and negative.

The body never lies. You may say you’re ready for a presentation to a room full of clients, because you know your material inside and out. But when you stand in front of them and you stammer and stutter and forget key points, your body is telling the truth – that you aren’t ready emotionally.

Embodied learning means there’s a congruency between your intellectual thoughts, emotional state and your body organization. And you only achieve this harmony through practice. For example, when you learn to model confidence behavior, you’ll feel confident. And as you repeatedly practice it, you will become confident. You will have learned this new skill so well you embody it in all you do. It will come to you easily. As you perform these actions in a graceful manner, people will see you as a master of your craft.

Are you seeing areas in your own life that can benefit from embodied learning? I would be pleased to partner with you as you discover how to become more mindful and aware in your approach to life. Please contact me and we can schedule a time to work together in person or via Skype.

How to Use Emotional Intelligence Training to Be an Influential Leader

Emotional Intelligence Training helps you support, motivate and assist your clients or employees as they improve their emotional competencies themselves.  I love this quote from William Arthur Ward, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

I think it applies to leading as well as to teaching. Whether you’re trying to inspire your clients, your employees or your children, understanding emotional intelligence training is vital for your success. Emotional intelligence training might sound intimidating but it isn’t difficult once you understand the fundamentals for behavioral change.

What does emotional intelligence training include? Here are the three stages, which include fifteen steps that you can use to motivate your clients, employees, children or others to become more emotionally in tune with themselves, others, and the world around them.

Stage One: Preparation and Motivation

  1. Assess the job. Without knowing what the job involves, you won’t know what competencies are needed.
  1. Assess the individual. Before you know what needs to be improved, you must know the person’s strengths and limitations.
  1. Deliver assessments with care. Before giving your assessment, think about the impact your words will have on the hearer.
  1. Gauge readiness. Not everyone is at the same level or stage in life, so determine if the person is ready to hear and work with you.
  1. Motivate. Change comes when people want it and to achieve this you must motivate them at a higher level to overcome their reluctance to participate.
  1. Make change self-directed. People learn at their own rate and only when they see the need. So tailor training according to what they want to work on at this moment, helping them link their goals with their personal values.

Stage Two: Education and Support

  1. Focus on clear, manageable goals. Show them clearly what’s required to accomplish a goal.
  1. Give performance feedback. Self-awareness and insight are keys to creating lasting change, yet these are often the pieces that are missing. By giving sincere, well-deserved commendation and points to work on, you’re helping the person create this self-awareness. And when they learn to recognize what pushes their buttons – gaining insight into what irritates and annoys them – they’re able to learn how to control their emotions.
  1. Rely on experiential methods. “Repetition is the mother of retention” so the more they can actively practice the desired pattern of thought, feeling and action the faster and easier the new habits will become engrained in the brain.
  1. Arrange support. Continual mentoring accelerates motivation and accomplishment, so establishing a buddy system is vital.
  1. Provide models. We learn best by watching others, so show them how it’s done by providing good role models, including yourself. An embodied leader wants to model the desired behavior. In order to impact the lives of others, you work on exhibiting congruence in all aspects of your life. This gives you credibility, which is so critical for gaining the trust of your clients or employees. Fairness, respect, and humility, will bring out their best.
  1. Prevent relapse. Everyone has bad day, so have reasonable expectations and be prepared to handle the downs as well as the ups, and give ample opportunities to practice the new skills.

Stage Three: Transformation and Evaluation

  1. Encourage use of the new skill. Create a new environment with visual and verbal cues that reminds your clients to use what they’ve learned.
  1. Reinforce change. Strengthen and support each person as they achieve new skills and levels of emotional competency.
  1. Evaluate. To see progress you must have a measuring stick to assess it against. To keep them motivated, let them clearly see how far they’ve progressed.

Never think it’s too late to incorporate emotional intelligence training in your private practice, workplace or home. While it doesn’t happen overnight, you can alter deeply engrained habits and social behavior through retraining the brain and body.

If you’re a coach wanting to hone your emotional intelligence training skills or a CEO wanting to improve EI in the workplace, or an individual who want to excel personally, feel free to contact me for help in setting up your emotional intelligence training program.

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I invite you to learn more about me and my coaching and counseling services. Please contact me to schedule an “It starts with you!” 30-minute complimentary consultation with me, in-person, by phone or via video consultation, so we can explore our partnership.




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