Journaling Bully

They’re conversations we have every day. Our inner critic arrives and her mood determines the emotional course of our day. You’re either a rock star or an idiot.

to-march-blog-picAt times, your inner critic sounds like your mother – keeping you in line and questioning decisions that you may come to regret. Sometimes she arrives as your greatest champion. Then on occasion, she is a bully, leaving you in ruins.

When your inner critic is especially harsh, you may need the occasional reminder that you’re actually an intelligent, capable individual. Journaling is a very cathartic process that can help you defeat the bully. A few journal-writing prompts are below.

  1. When you are feeling especially low, write what’s happening and how it makes you feel (e.g.: I’m sad and bored at my job). Identify any stories you invented to make the situation worse (e.g.: I’ll be stuck at this horrible company forever). Recognize a more useful way to view the situation and try to attach it to a goal (e.g.: I may be unhappy right now; but I can update my resume and start searching for something new).
  2. Keep a praise journal and make note of all the awesome stuff you do.
  3. Maintain a list of your best qualities.
  4. Write a list of qualities your friends, family or co-workers like about you.
  5. Compile a list of positive quotes.
  6. Draw. Discover the joy of doodling.
  7. Write down three simple things that make you happy, like dogs, a hot cup of coffee, and warm February days.
  8. Develop a list of skills that you’d like to improve and track your progress.

Look back through this journal when your inner critic is putting you down. It will serve as proof that you’re a dynamic, compelling person and can help you refocus your energy.

What other methods have you used to tame your inner bully?

What Matters Most?

Are you calling the shots in YOUR life or are responsibilities, circumstances and other people running your life?

Or, do you wake up, jump out of bed, ready to start your day, every day with enthusiasm?

Perhaps you value your work because it gives you structure and pays the bills, but sometime during the day, you lose your motivation. Next thing you know, you’re surfing the net, texting friends and family only to look up and discover the work day is over?

What Matters Most often gets forgotten and we just continue to plow through work and life. Sometimes we’re even aware something is amiss. But, what can you do about it? And, life just goes on. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Not a very fulfilling life if that is how you might feel, right? Yet, what can you do about it?

If any of this describes you or someone you know, won’t you join me for What Matters Most Complimentary Webinar: Building a Fulfilling Life on the Foundation of Your Values. This training is enlightening and educational and you will discover:

  1. How to find and align with your true values in any situation,
  2. How to minimize drama and maximize success in your life,
  3. How knowing your values can open doors to your happiness,
  4. My #1 tool for overcoming ANY challenge, and
  5. How to develop your own personal 3-part value system.

Register here now.

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Stop Treading Water and Build Your Growth Mindset

For a moment, let’s imagine a situation:


You’ve worked at the same company, in the same role, for almost ten years. You stayed because it was familiar, comfortable, and, maybe at times, easy. But despite this, you are not content. Rather, you feel immobilized. You’ve been treading water for months or years, but you don’t remember how to swim, so you can’t move forward.

We’ve all been in a similar situation at one point or another. And while “treading water” may feel like a negative situation in which to find yourself, think of it more as an “ah-ha moment.” It’s a sign that something in your life is not going right and recognizing this feeling is the first step in leaving it behind.

What’s the second step? Change your mindset. Of course, that’s easier said than done; but a positive, growth mindset is the essential factor that will help you get moving again.

Carol Dweck, Ph.D., one of the leading researchers on motivation, states people have two types of mindsets – fixed and growth. Fixed mindset people believe their basic qualities, like intelligence or athletic ability, are innate talents. They don’t work on building and improving them, because they believe talent comes without effort.

Growth mindset people, on the other hand, foster a love of learning. They believe that all their abilities can be further developed and improved upon. People with this mindset tend to be motivated, productive, and can cultivate healthy personal and business relationships.

Here are some tools to cultivate your growth mindset, which will also help you to swim again:

  • View challenges as opportunities. Fixed mindset people will often skip a challenge for fear of failing. Growth mindset people see challenges as opportunities for personal growth and improvement.
  • Stop viewing mistakes as failures. Albert Einstein said, “A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.” We all can’t be professional athletes or mathematicians, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have special gifts of our own. When you make a mistake, you didn’t fail; you learned. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You may fall flat on your face and end up with a great story or you just might shine. Either way, it sounds like a win.
  • Value growth, not speed. Everyone learns at his or her own speed. Just because it took Johnny an hour to learn a new computer skill, doesn’t mean it will take you the same amount of time. Anything worth doing, takes time.
  • Stop seeking others’ approval. Constantly needing approval and recognition takes time away from your own learning and self-growth.
  • Use the word “yet.” Sometimes you may struggle with a task or goal. That’s okay! Not everything comes easy to everyone. Don’t get too discouraged. Remind yourself that I haven’t mastered that skill… yet!

Treading water is an experience we’ve all been through at least once, if not more. Be positive and know this is just temporary. And if nothing else works, remember the wise words of a scatterbrained fish: “Just keep swimming.”

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you were treading water? What steps did you take to start swimming again?

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Conversational Blind Spots

conversation-1262311_960_720For some, conversation is an art, for others, a nightmare. But with a little science, anyone can become a conversational master.

Social scientists use Conversational Intelligence® (C-IQ) to measure the quality and level of trust fostered during a conversation. An individual with high CI has transformational conversations that utilize discovery questions to engage their partner’s prefrontal cortex, the portion of the brain that controls trust. Someone with low CI activates the part that enables suspicion and anxiety.

One of the keys to developing a high C-IQ is to recognize your conversational blind spots. Breakdowns in conversations happen when people talk past each other. If you want to build trust, you must engage and learn to talk and listen with someone.

Some of the most common conversational blind spots are:

  • The assumption that all people “see what we see, feel what we feel, and think what we think.”1
  • Fear, trust, and skepticism greatly influence our reality.
  • Fear prohibits us from standing in someone else’s shoes.
  • The assumption that we remember what someone else said, when in reality we remember what we think about what they said.
  • Meaning does not dwell in the speaker, but rather the listener.

Our experiences shape our reality; and blind spots occur because people’s experiences are different. There are ways to bridge the gap and minimize blind spots:

  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. Allowing others room to contribute can offer new insights and stimulate new ideas.
  • Ask open-ended discovery questions, for example: How did that decision impact you? What are your goals and how can I help you achieve them?
  • Listen without judgment. Be empathetic and open to hearing other viewpoints.

What conversational blind spots have you experienced? Did you use a specific technique to master it? I’d welcome your insights.

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Tips for Working with Millennials – Part II

The millennial workforce is a different breed than their precursors. They value a work-life balance and want to work in an environment where they feel free to express themselves. Because of the difference amongst the generations, companies often struggle retaining their millennial employees.

In Part I of this series, we explored what millennials value on a personal level. Part II offers some strategies that cater toward their professional aspirations.

millennials-ii-with-quoteRecognition and Communication

No news is good news,” is an appreciated adage of the baby boomers. Millennials, on the other hand, want constant communication and recognition. Growing up, they received trophies, awards, and certificates for everything from first place to one-hundredth place. They value positive reinforcement, but are open to constructive criticism, especially if it will lead to success.


Did you know that 75% of millennials want a mentor? That’s right… 75%. Millennials’ parents were strong, guiding forces in their lives. They value close relationships with the superiors that are similar to the ways in which they were raised. Millennials not only want to learn from their superiors and get regular feedback, but they want an opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions – feel as though they are part of the “big picture” – in a safe space.

Growth Opportunities

Millennials are notorious for moving on to greener pastures in a short period of time. They are excited to progress in their careers and waiting a few years for a promotion is not usually an option that best suits their goals. Retain your millennial workforce by showing them what growth opportunities look like at your company. Provide them with a clear path to maximize these opportunities and be sure to re-emphasize and re-evaluate at quarterly and yearly reviews.

Professional Development & Training

Professional development and training are highly valued by millennials – and as the most educated generation, it’s not hard to see why they strive to be life-long learners. According to Entrepreneur, “surveys show that millennials rate training and development as an employee benefit three times higher than they rate cash bonuses.” Offering professional development and comprehensive training will draw plenty of new hires, as well as provide your company with effective workers.

Do you work with millennials? Let us know some tools you’ve found effective!

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Tips for Working with Millennials – Part I

The workforce is changing. Somewhere between baggy pants and iPhones, the millennials grew up, went to college and found jobs. By 2025, they will make up more than 75% of the global workforce.

pablo-6While baby boomers may see millennials as lazy, entitled job-hoppers, they actually bring a lot to the table. Millennials are more educated and culturally diverse than their predecessors. They are creative, self-expressive, confident, technologically inclined, and ambitious. Their parents and teachers told them they could do anything, be anything; and, as a result millennials have very high expectations for their career and personal life.

Millennials can offer their employers a fresh perspective; but with a disconnect between generations, how can the forerunners keep millennials engaged, build relationships and maximize their potential? The predecessor must recognize the generational difference. What attracted baby boomers and Gen X won’t necessarily appeal to the millennial workforce. Thus, organizations need to appeal to the millennials’ desire to succeed in their career, as well as their personal life.

This two-part series offers several ways to work better with your millennial counterparts. Below are tips that appeal to millennials sense of self and social responsibility.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is paramount to millennials. Growing up, they crammed their weeks full of sporting events, volunteer opportunities and part time jobs. They watched their parents come home late, skip vacations, and miss “the big game” due to their strenuous work hours. They work just as hard as their parents, but a sixty-hour work week is not their cup of tea. Spending time with friends and family, hobbies and personal time are very high on their list of priorities. Companies who forget or don’t understand that, do so at their own risk.


The lines between work life and home life have blurred over the years, much to millennials’ satisfaction. They want to work in a place that values self-expression, where they feel free and comfortable enough to be themselves. According to The Chicago Tribune, a majority of millennials will leave their position if there is a culture clash.

Social Responsibility and Volunteerism

Millennials are attracted to and believe in socially responsible organizations. According to 2010 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, millennials place a higher priority on local and global causes than having a high-paying career. In order to have a successful business, companies need to have similar values to their employees. Providing employees time to work on projects of this nature will not only increase their value of self, but will produce more energetic and effective workers.

Check back for Part II, which will examine ways to retain and attract millennials on a professional level.

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Design Your Life

The first twenty or so years of life are so easy. Our path is set. You go to pre-school, elementary school, middle school, and then high school. After high school you either get a job or go to college. It’s here that people often get stuck. Big dreams fade into the minutia of every day life. Sailing around the world, writing a science fiction novel or starting your own company are put on the back burner as you’re forced to pay for rent, health insurance, groceries, or for lack of a better word, be an adult.


to-dream-imageBut what about those people you know who seem to have it all? They’re happy. Their cards didn’t just magically fall into place. Those people recognize that life is to live, not to exist; and to get the life they wanted, they chose not to make a living, but to design their life. It sounds so easy–design my life.

It is. And it isn’t. Everyone has the ability to write his or her own story. The people who do so successfully know a few secrets:

First, take some time to reflect upon your life. Ask yourself some of the following questions to help you pinpoint what’s most important to you:
  • What’s good in your life?
  • What in your life could be improved?
  • About what are you most passionate?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Where do you want to achieve it?
  • Who can help you?
  • What kind of impact do you wish to make?

Once you’ve established what is most important to you, define your goals. Remember, goals are not what you’ve already accomplished or what you have. They are what you want.

When you are defining your goals, be sure they are realistic and attainable. That doesn’t mean you can’t dream big; but if you’re goal is to complete a triathlon and you are afraid to swim, you may need to rethink a few things. Also, be very specific when you set your goals. There is no place for ambiguity in this arena. When you are thoughtful and precise, you are more likely to succeed.

Don’t just define your goals; write them down. That’s so important, I’m going to say it twice. Write your goals and your strategy for achieving each one in your journal, a notebook or on your computer. Writing them down takes them from the abstract and makes them concrete.

As part of your strategy to achieve your goals, set a timeline. The best thing about a goal is that there is a deadline for when it should be accomplished.

In some instances, you may need to break down the goal into smaller increments in order to finish. Just keep working, no matter how small, so you don’t get behind schedule.

Re-evaluate your goals regularly and make course corrections. Life happens. Perhaps the company you’ve dreamed about working for goes bankrupt or you break an arm. As you encounter obstacles, look for ways around them.
If the obstacles you face are signs that you’re on the wrong path, reexamine your goals and establish a different strategy to take you where you want to be. Everyone who has achieved a goal has a strong support system for two key reasons.
  1. First, no man is an island. You may need help along the way. Who better to ask then a person who supports you?
  2. Second, it makes you accountable. Tell your friends and family about your plans. If no one knows about your goal, will it actually come to fruition? Most likely not. A goal is only as powerful as your accountability.

Finally, don’t give up. One of the most important aspects of designing your own life is belief. The belief that you are capable of writing your own story; the belief that you deserve to achieve your dreams; and the belief that you will put in the work to do so. Whatever your situation, there is a way to make it better. You just have to work toward it.

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Creating Systems for Success

phpcoitBAAMMost of us run our lives on a handful of systems. Between our cellphones, our planners and our e-mail inboxes, we have organized ourselves and our time. And if you ever doubt the importance of these systems, recall your panic the last time you lost your planner or cellphone.

Yet as important as these systems are, most of us dont take advantage of what systems can do to improve our businesses and even our lives.

Systems are simply ways of automating or structuring processes so that they can occur systematically without so much thought or attentionand by more than just one person, so that the business can continue to run if the owner takes a vacation.

Figuring Out What to Systematize

For most of us, there are dozens of similar repetitive tasks, large and small, in our businesses, jobs and personal lives that could be systematized. To identify where you can apply systems, imagine yourself riding in a glass elevator to the 75th floor and looking down into your life and take an objective look at your business, job and/or life from that view-point. Ask yourself questions such as below:

Where are your frustrations? This is an important test for two reasons. First, you are more likely to be frustrated if you are redoing tasks that bring no particular satisfaction. Second, you are going to be frustrated if you have to relearn a task or recreate the wheel” every time a specific need comes up.

What is holding back your business? What are the choke points? Do you need to generate more prospects? Do you have prospects but a low rate of conversion? Do you convert customers but lose them through poor follow-through? Strategically focusing on your business this way is more likely to spot high-value opportunities for systematization.

What causes you stress? Is it preparing for the quarterly performance reviews? Finalizing your printed catalog? Preparing for your annual make-or-break trade show? Even if you know the steps by heart, systematizing at least part of these stress-inducing activities could yield big benefits to your businessand your well-being.

Start by Writing It Down

The first step in systematizing a process is to write it down. What exactly is the process you go through to handle a sales lead? Place a want ad for your shipping clerk? Train a new receptionist? Include the various steps for personal changes too. If you are struggling to get all the steps down, try the backwards” approach. Start with the end result and then determine what you did right before that, and so on, for each step.

Another valuable exercise is to document what everyone in your organization does. Forget job descriptions: You want to know what they actually do. This may highlight high-value opportunities to build systems that can be leveraged throughout the organization.

Often, the documentation you create in this process is all the system you require. The next time the task comes up, you can pull out the file and save the relearning. It also becomes the core of the training manual for new employees, which is often one of the most valuable systems you can build.

Do the Cost-Benefit Math

Here are some guidelines for figuring out which of the myriad choices are worth the effort of creating a system:

What are the odds you will be doing this again? How often?

How hard is it to automate? Creating paper checklists is easy; programming your contacts, calendars and technology in general to sync with your phone and other technology. Of course there can be a huge learning curve with technology too. However, dont give up if the software approach is too expensive or complicated. There are many productivity experts and the main goal for organizing tasks is to create a set of clearly labeled file folders and tags for the electronics for simple ways to search. Again, a well-documented, step-by-step manual is the core of many highly successful systems.

How painful is the task? And how painful is failing to execute it well? High-value tasks, such as annual trade-shows and the like, are good candidates for setting up systems in order to reduce risks and the associated stress.

Can you hire it out? In some cases, the best system is to hand the documentation for the process to a junior employee, assistant or virtual assistance depending on the task at hand. In particular, those stress-inducing tasks noted above can be partially off-loaded. But you will need to do the work up front of carefully recording the steps involved, and how to achieve and measure the necessary outcomes. 

Get Out of the Box

As you go through this analysis, dont be afraid to start with the question: Why do we do this process in the first place? For every process you find that could be automated with a new system, you may find another that can be eliminated altogether. Systematically reviewing your business this way may be the most valuable system of all.

If you want to discuss your issues with a coach, dont forget I offer a free coaching call and if you havent had one with me already, this may be the opportunity youve been looking for.

Yellow Brick Road Coaching, LLC, © 2008 Claire Communications

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“Yo.” Do you remember this movie? Rocky was just a regular person living a regular life. AND, he had a dream. No one thought he could do it. No one was on his side, except Adriene. What dream are you waiting to have come true? Do you dare to still have a dream? Often, we’re in one perspective…I can’t. There’s no way. Who do I think I am? Dreaming is no longer an option. Dreaming is not so easy for all of us as we get older. We forget that we once may have had dreams. And the good news is…it really is never too late. So, I ask you again…What’s Your Dream?

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Sleeping and daydreaming not included.


What’s your dream?

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