Category: Leadership

How’s your sense of direction? Do you know where you are growing to?

By , September 5, 2013 7:42 am

3D business white people. Mobile phone with GPS“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are that you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they may have planned for you? Not much.”

~ Jim Rohn

How’s your sense of direction?

Most people simply let their life happen to them. They wait, procrastinate and react. There’s no sense of urgency and certainly no strategy. They just get busy doing stuff…and time rolls on.

They stay stuck because they don’t know what to do.

We all burn through time so quickly. Before you know it most of your life is behind you. Reality sets in that you should have been more proactive and strategic, rather than waiting and putting things off.

I think it was Charles Handy who wrote that we live life backwards: the longer we live the more we learn and experience, by the time we have it all figured out we’re too old to do anything about it!

…But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can DECIDE TODAY to stop waiting and reacting!

As a career strategist, I sometimes work with people who are confused because they have no idea what to do with their life, career or business…

It’s a bit like they are lost in a foreign city without a map. They don’t have a sense of purpose or direction. Their growth is random and chaotic. They drift from one idea to another and have no clue to where they want to go. In this confusion they collapse into a coach for the answer.

Here’s how I see it…

You have to develop your own sense of direction by creating two reference points:

1. ‘You are here’ – In other words, you need to know where you are now. Unfortunately this doesn’t appear on a notice board with a big arrow on it (like in a big city or shopping mall!). You have to sit down work it out for yourself. But there are some clues…

Your direction in life begins with SELF-AWARENESS. As John C Maxwell says: “You must know yourself to grow yourself!”

You have to get to know:

  • Your strengths
  • Your weaknesses
  • Your passion
  • Your opportunities

From my experience, most people lack self-awareness, don’t know their strengths or the value they bring to their daily lives. Start by focusing your attention here, because your natural strengths and passions are where you have the most potential for growth.

Do things that you are passionate about, not just interested in. There is a difference in the energy of these two words! Pay attention to:

  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • What would you like to do?
  • What are you good at (other people will tell you this)?
  • What would you like to do more of?
  • Why would you like to do this?
  • How can you get to do more of this?
  • Who can help you?
  • What is your investment to make this happen (time, resources, money, sacrifice)?
  • What’s your first step beginning today?

Get to know yourself and accept who you are in this moment.  This can take time.

Okay… Our second reference point is…

2. Where you want to go –Your strengths hold the key for where you have the most potential for growth. So start here. If you focus on growing your strengths, you will build confidence in your abilities and these can help you to set a course for where you want to go. Look for opportunities to use your strengths along the way.

Knowing yourself and growing yourself are intertwined. The path might not be clear at first, but you’ll get momentum on your journey by learning new things and applying them as you go.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • DECIDE to be proactive and take it seriously.
  • COMMIT to action and be consistent.
  • GET SUPPORT – You can’t get to reach your destination on your own. You’ll need the help and guidance of others who can teach you.
  • TAKE DELIBERATE ACTION even when you don’t feel like it.

Life is short and we don’t get any rehearsal time so I encourage you to develop a strong sense of urgency and proactivity.

How’s your sense of direction? Do you know where you are growing to?!

 

Getting Over Rejection

By , August 14, 2013 6:25 pm

iStock_000009159104Medium“Every time I thought I was being REJECTED from something good, I was actually being RE-DIRECTED to something better.”

~ Dr Steve Maraboli

I remember PE (Physical Education) at school when the teacher would select two kids to pick their basketball team alternatively from the class. We’d all sit there waiting (and hoping) to be selected by the person doing the picking. It was an intense moment and quite soul destroying if you weren’t picked until last. The feeling of embarrassment stayed with you for the whole lesson (and probably adversely affected your ability to perform).

If you look back at your own life I’m sure you can recall times when you’ve been rejected for things:  a promotion, a job, a project, a team or even dumped by your latest boyfriend (or girlfriend) when you personally thought he (she) was THE ONE!

In the moment rejection can feel devastating.

Most of us would feel uncomfortable sharing our past rejections and failures – we keep them to ourselves because we’re frightened that we’ll be judged by them or people will think less of us. Instead, we keep those memories locked inside and only replay them in our head when we have self-doubt or uncertainty in the present.

Here’s the thing, though… We seem to forget that this happens to EVERYONE!

People get rejected and turned down all the time.

There are countless stories of courage and persistence in the public world to reinforce this. I read that Kathryn Stickett, the author of the The Help, was rejected 60 times by publishers. She went on to become a best selling author and got a film deal that ultimately won four academy awards!

Getting over rejection is a painful but a normal part of growth on our journey to success. As one door appears to slam in your face, another will open up before you. You have to dig in to find the courage to continue forward motion through your vulnerability and any letdowns.

Most people give up at this point and succumb to their limiting beliefs because they get stuck in discomfort and self doubt.

Here are a few ways to keep momentum and stay true to your goal:

1. Re-connect to your WHY. Take a little time to rest and regroup. Remind yourself of your WHY and in the face of self-doubt, get clear again. Refocus your attention on WHY you want to succeed. What will your life (or your business) look like, sound like or feel like? Allow courage to overcome any fear. Don’t let fear rule your decisions, just because somebody has challenged you. People WILL push up against you – especially when you’re doing something different. Learn to rescue yourself and step back in alignment with your vision every day.

2. Be prepared to do it scared! Live life on the EDGE… of your comfort zone! When you are growing and putting yourself out there, you are constantly challenging yourself:  stretching out of your comfort zone to create a NEW NORMAL. Stretching takes courage and tenacity because things can feel uncomfortable and it can be a little scary.  Get comfortable with uncomfortable. Choose to be courageous. Don’t be distracted by external noise – stay on course. Focus on your truth and what is important for you. Have faith in your intuition and believe in YOU.

3. Protect your confidence. This will keep you grounded and centred. Stop listening to those voices in your head because they aren’t the truth. Develop a deeper understanding of your emotions, strengths and limitations. Recognize how negative patterns can feel overwhelming and cause you distress. Let go of any emotions that are holding you back. I find journaling very useful for this. Start to recognize your own emotions and their impact. Take personal responsibility for your thinking.

See obstacles as opportunities as you navigate your journey. Rejection is just a container for growth. Inside it holds a powerful lesson that if released will make you stronger, determined and more successful.

Be honest with your feelings in the context of your work and be open to your doubts and fears. This vulnerability is a powerful learning tool if you can be open to it.

Remember… there is no destination!

Keep growing!

 

Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done!

By , July 31, 2013 10:42 pm

Git 'er Done!“Self-discipline is the magic power that makes you virtually unstoppable.”

~ Dan Kennedy, Business Success Guru and Author

The truth is that most of us are easily distracted.

Many of us are almost willing to be de-railed from our busy schedules by the lure of the excitement of a bright shiny object; especially if what you are working on feels like hard work or it’s something you don’t want to do.

This then leads to procrastination and avoidance.

Most of us know what we should be focusing on but lack the self-discipline and determination to make it happen. Instead we use excuses to justify our avoidance such as I’m too busy or I didn’t have time rather than getting clear and refocused on what needs to be done.

…And just getting it done!

There’s a form of inner laziness that prevents us from getting things done. I regularly see examples of this in the business world.

Here are a few examples:

  • People who can’t seem to make it to meetings on time.
  • Arriving late/unprepared for a planned coaching session.
  • A business owner who avoids marketing because there’s always something else that needs to be done first.

People who arrive late for meetings are usually unprepared. Their lack of focus and attention wastes time, because he/she has to take time to catch up before they can give any value.

A common theme for many people with time management challenges is the lack of self-discipline.

I admit that some days I feel secretly lazy and it’s tempting just to blow the day off and do nothing instead. Especially when you are your own boss!

Instead of allowing this to take control, I’ve learned how to refocus and become self-disciplined…

Self-discipline is a powerful antidote to procrastination and avoidance.

Self-discipline neutralizes the laziness and gives you the ability to get things done and to get it right the first time. Excuses and old habits fall away as you begin to move forward, take control and get things done.

Here’s how to encourage self-discipline:

1. Make a weekly plan in advance. What do you want to achieve? This will help you stay focused and feel in control of what needs to be done. Stick to the plan – hold firm! Remind yourself what’s important.

2. Show up at the scheduled time and be prepared and ready to work. Yes… It’s that simple… Common sense right?! But it’s NOT always common practice. This includes showing up for ALL appointments that you make with yourself.

3. Meet your deadlines and commitments. This alone will make you more successful. More opportunities will start to present themselves and others will be attracted to you because you are making things happen. Success breeds success.

4. Do it even when you don’t feel like it. Self-discipline requires a 100% commitment. It’s not just when you feel like it. It takes self-discipline to productivity – invest energy and time to your intentions. This investment pays off every time. Be aware of those lazy voices in your head and challenge them EVERY time!

5. Take deliberate action. Take action and make things happen. Every day consciously do one thing towards your Intention – small steps. Get deliberate in your thoughts and behaviors. This will inspire you to make different choices and create new habits. Take action

All successful people are self-disciplined. It’s a necessity that requires continual work every single day.

Self-discipline is all about choice. You can choose to chart your own path and create value by getting things done.

There’s a huge difference between someone who talks about it and someone who actually gets things done!

Which one are you?

As my American friends in the South say, whatever you’re putting off just now:  Go “Git ‘er done!”

 

How to Become Known As An EXPERT

By , July 25, 2013 11:23 am

iStock_000011959900XSmall“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience.”

Denis Waitley

Experts make things look easy!

The journey to acquiring expertise often takes time, hard work, discipline, and persistence. It doesn’t just happen overnight.

Reading all the books in the world on a particular topic doesn’t make you an expert, though it will make you more knowledgeable about something. Expertise is not only the acquisition of knowledge, it’s also the ability to implement and use the information wisely.

For example, I know several ‘coaches’ who understand the principles and theory of coaching, but they have no coaching clients! They are so busy trying to gain their expertise from books, another qualification or attending one more workshop, instead of going out into the world and actually coaching people!

So it’s also the practical application of knowledge and understanding.

Expertise is developed over time and one of the essential ingredients is experience.

People become experts for many reasons. Here are a few of them:

  • To establish credibility
  • To become the Go To Person…Others will seek you out for your knowledge and experience
  • To leverage your marketability and increase your perceived value
  • To expand your horizons and see things from a different perspective
  • To increase your success
  • To gain the trust and buy-in of others
  • To become a leader and shine the light for others to follow

Here are seven ways to become known as an expert by getting good at what you do:

1. Be passionate – Expertise starts with knowing what you are passionate about. You have to be genuinely interested and naturally curious about your topic to become an expert in it. Have you ever tried to learn something that you’re not interested in?! You stop learning! Believe in your own ability to become an expert – You CAN do it!

2. Experience it – You get better at things by experiencing them. Get some real-life experience, keep up to date, read around the subject, and apply your learning to your every day life or work. For example, one of the best ways to learn how to be a coach is by being coached! Turn the theory into practice! Actively look for opportunities to practice what you are learning. Do things imperfectly and be open to making a few mistakes along the way.

3. Surround yourself with like-minded people – Become a member of an association or join a professional body in your field. Attend conferences and workshops to learn from those more experienced than you. Listen and learn from credible experts. Connect with online groups who talk about your subject and support each other (not groups where people just promote their shit all the time!). Network with others who are passionate about the topic. It’s okay if they know more about it than you as you can learn from them.

4. Leaders are readers – Read books and listen to audios. Watch videos and read articles. Sign up for eZines and weekly articles from credible sources and make time to read what they have to say. Be curious and look for knowledge about your subject. Remember to APPLY it into your life. Become a student of you and try things out. Get into the habit of regular reading each week and you’ll soon know more than most people around you. Continue your education around your subject.

5. Share what you learn – Share what you learn with others as you learn it. Be willing to share what you know. This will help to position your self as an expert over time. You will start to notice that you know more about the subject than those around you and you can offer help and support to them as you are working at a higher level than others. Most people haven’t taken time to read or explore the topic like you have. You may even create a presentation or workshop to help others.

6. Get writing! Write articles or blog posts about your stories and experiences and how you’ve applied your learning. Share your successes too. This way other people will get a feel for you and you will build your expertise. They see themselves in you. Writing a short ebook or a chapter in a book about something you are passionate about can really enhance your credibility. It can also be a catalyst for other opportunities such as consultancy opportunities, radio interviews and speaking engagements.

7. Give it timeBecoming an expert doesn’t happen over night. It takes time. Make a long-term commitment and build a foundation for success through commitment and persistence. You become an expert by taking your learning and growth seriously. Set goals and take consistent action. You’ll start to notice when others come to you for advice or give you feedback about your depth of understanding. Keep going and keep growing. There is ALWAYS more to learn. You are never done!

You become an expert by doing the groundwork by practicing what you are learning and through demonstrating your passion and expertise…

 

Are You Too Busy To Look After Yourself?

By , July 10, 2013 8:44 pm

iStock_000011570636Large“A healthy and happy YOU is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone else. Yet most of us don’t look after ourselves. We are too busy getting things done to get around to looking after own emotional, psychological and physical needs as a human being. We only take it seriously when something goes wrong!”

- Elaine Bailey, Author, Speaker, Coach

Many of us spend most of our time doing things for everyone else:  the boss, clients, family or friends. Sometimes our own needs are neglected. We relegate ourselves to the bottom of our To Do List hoping that we’ll get around to taking a break, eating healthily or going to the gym soon!

I was working with a coaching client recently who was exhausted with her busy life and the demands others placed upon her. She felt obliged to be the constant support for everyone else. The more she gave, the more they seemed to want. She was locked in this holding pattern because she didn’t want to let anyone down.

Taking personal timeout wasn’t an option and the thought of it made her feel guilty. How could she be so selfish and do something for herself?

My client had assumed the role of a rescuer in many of her current relationships. She’d become the go to person for everyone. She felt exhausted and unhappy.

She was:

  • Doing more than she really wanted to
  • Discounting her own needs
  • Doing more for others than they were willing to do for themselves

Our lives constantly inter-connect and we all have needs and wants. It’s sometimes hard for us to weigh our own needs against the needs of others and own needs get neglected as we try to help.

The truth is that we care and we want to help those that we love, but we also need to look out for ourselves.

We consciously hang onto our old conditioned patterns of behavior. My client had no-energy for herself, because she was unconsciously giving it all away to everyone else.

Taking care of YOU is NOT selfishness.

So what does ‘selfishness’ actually mean?

Selfishness – Many people confuse taking care of themselves with selfishness.  There is a significant difference between the two.  Selfishness is about getting what you want without any consideration for the other person’s needs. It’s usually at the expense of the other person. Selfishness is an intentional release of negative energy. For example, it’s purposely not sharing information with someone that might save them time, because it might make them look better than you.

Self-care  Is a totally different energy. You are look after your own well being in a healthy way. It’s a commitment that you make to yourself. A healthy and happy you is hugely important because your energy affects and interacts with everything and everybody that you come into contact with (See Radiators and Drains).

Invest in yourself.

If you’ve never done this before consciously, those closest to you may notice a difference and feel uncomfortable to begin with because you are doing things differently and they are not used to it. They prefer the ‘old you’ because they were easier to manipulate! Teach them how to treat you.

Here’s how to get started…

1. Take responsibility  We are each responsible for our own life and the choices we make. Therefore, we have the right to take care of our own needs. The balance between commitment to yourself and the desire to help someone else requires us to define some lines of responsibility. As a coach, I’m responsible to my client, but not for my client’s results. They have to take action in order to get a result. It’s more difficult to draw lines with those we love.

2. Determine your own needs and wants – To live authentically it’s important to consider your own needs, wants and to identify what’s important to you. This clarity helps you to live your core values and create your best life. You also get to decide when another’s needs supersede your own. Take conscious action do one thing every day for yourself.

3. Set some boundaries – As human beings we all have equal value, worth and dignity. You have the right to say no when you want to, to take care of yourself and to ask for what you want. It’s important to set boundaries with other people, so they know what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior. Boundaries help you to protect your authenticity, integrity and demonstrate how you value yourself and others.

You only get one life (and one body) so look after yourself. After all, your To Do List is pretty useless if you’re not around To Do it! Right?!

If you are not taking care of yourself – Who is?

 

The Power of Pausing – How Reflection Helps You Grow

By , July 3, 2013 6:28 pm

iStock_000025377786LargeFollow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

~ Peter Drucker, Management Consultant and Author

Stop – pause and take it in.

In our busy world there seems to be little time for commas let alone full stops and new paragraphs in our day! We are so busy in the do-do of doing, that there is often haste in our learning experiences and we allow little time for reflection – we just move onto the next experience, grabbing as much in as we go!

As a Leader of Learning, I know that if you want learning to turn into growth, then you have to STOP – PAUSE and TAKE IT IN. Sometimes you have to allow the specific learning from an experience to catch up with you. You have to breathe and let it percolate through.

How often do you take the time to pause and let the lesson you’ve learned soak in and create a paradigm shift for you?

Most learning experiences are One and Done!

A person might read a book or attend a one-day workshop. They may set a quick Action Plan at the end of the workshop, but then return to work the next day and fall back into the old habits of doing what they’ve always done. Any thoughts or potential changes in thinking drain away to be replaced by the existing neural highway of old patterns and unconscious habits.

I was training a Personal Effectiveness workshop this week where at least four people were disappointed with themselves for relegating their personal development to the bottom of their To-Do Lists. I encouraged them to return to work after the workshop and start work by reflecting on what they had just learned and how to implement it into their lives – one step at a time.

Here’s what I know about reflection and how it’s so important for your learning and growth:

Learning from experience – Is one of our most powerful ways of growing if you apply reflection to it. When I was learning to be a coach my coach would FORCE me to follow the principles of each step of the Learning Cycle (David Kolb and Honey & Mumford) through. It really paid off as my learning became rounded and whole. Here are the four elements:

  • Have an experience
  • Review the experience
  • Conclude for the experience
  • Plan the next step

I realized that you don’t grow from the experience unless you pause to take time to reflect afterwards and apply what you have learned.

Many learning opportunities are lost each day because we have the experience and then do nothing with it except move onto another experience.

You need reflection to take an experience and understand it. Learning and growth in the moment will only happen if you allow a pause for reflection.  Experience alone won’t change your mindset or your approach to how you do things. It’s your understanding of that experience that creates a paradigm shift. If you stop to reflect, you give yourself some space to allow your understanding to catch up! This is so important for learning.

The power of pausing gives you time to think. I cannot emphasize enough the value of stepping out of the do-do of doing and creating some reflective space to think alone. Reflecting equals growing! I use Honey and Mumford’s four steps to create some good questions to generate some deeper thinking around any learning experience. Here’s what happens when you allow reflective practice into your life:

  1. It allows you to revaluate where you are now and re-connect to where you want to be. It gives you further insight into how to (or how not to!) get there.
  2. You have to slow down to speed up. Accelerated momentum towards your goal will happen if you schedule some time to reflect before moving on. Rushing from A to B to get things done might mean that you miss something significant because you are too focused on the finishing line and not on the growing to get there. Learning is left discarded along the way.
  3. Reflection allows your experience to percolate and true learning and growth catches up. You can understand the significance and tweak your approach or take corrective action for next time. In other words, you get to plan and apply it in readiness for your next experience.
  4. You get good at describing what happened and how to apply the new wisdom. This makes you a better mentor to others.
  5. Successful people build reflective practice into their daily lives. They schedule time to THINK as well as DO. Their doing is purposeful and effective because they have given themselves space to walk through their experiences, look at it from a different perspective and plan their next step.

Most people miss out on so much learning from their experiences because they don’t pause to reflect. They make the excuse that I haven’t got time to sit and ponder! I’m too busy! What they are really saying is that they haven’t got time to learn and grow.

To be successful in life it’s important to think and reflect as well as do. If you want to keep growing, you need to create reflective space into your life, where you can ask yourself some questions that generate understanding from the experiences that you are having!

Create some reflection time for yourself today!

 

When are you going to get started?

By , June 26, 2013 6:31 pm

someday word in wood type“Everything huge that I’ve ever achieved I started before I thought I was ready. I just did it scared and grew into it along the way!”

~ Elaine Bailey, Coach-Mentor, Author, International Speaker

In my role as a career strategist, I meet a lot of people who are settling and surviving in their current career while they are waiting and hoping for THAT DAY when they will get to do what they REALLY want to do.

I call this: “The Someday Syndrome!”

It looks like this:

“Someday…

…I’ll get my act together and start my own business.”

…I’ll do that course and get my qualification.”

…I’ll sign up for that Mastermind program because I know it will make all the difference to my success.”

…I’ll write that book.”

…I’ll change job and become a ……. I’ve always wanted to.”

SOMEDAY… Doesn’t exist.

It’s not real – It’s just an excuse you use to give yourself permission to stay stuck and settle where you are.

Someday is like an untethered kite blowing out of control in the wind. It holds your dream in suspended animation.

Someday has no deadline – it is infinite. Before you know it your life is over and that someday never came.

Here’s my question to you:

Instead of someday…Why not NOW?

Maybe you’re thinking that you’re not ready, perhaps this feels true? I know that if I’d waited to be ready, I’d still be working 9 to 5 in a Bank in  East Yorkshire, UK. It was safe and secure!

Are you waiting to be ready?

…You might be waiting your entire lifetime for the right time and you’ll never do it.

Most people aren’t prepared to invest in their someday.  So what they really want stays a dream. Someday comes at a price.

How much does someday cost?

This was a great question that one of my coaching clients asked me recently. I helped him break it down.

Doing what you want to do and living your dream involves personal investment.

It’s not just about gathering information, the hardest part is often implementation: taking the steps necessary to bring it to life. This will cost you time, commitment , attitude, and energy (even when you don’t feel like it). It can be hard work and yes, there may be a few sacrifices along the way.

One of the biggest obstacles of success is that we get in our own way. We lose the mental fight with our own laziness and ignorance when things feel too hard or difficult. We slip back to our comfort zone because it’s easier settle for what we already have.

For most people the price of success is too high. They prefer to settle for an easier life. They aren’t prepared to reach through their fears to find the courage to keep going and keep growing through change or take a few risks.

Here’s how I see it…

  • I only get one life. I owe it to myself to make the most of my days here and make each one count.
  • I dare to dream BIG and go deeper than I’ve ever gone.
  • I don’t always know how to do it, but I’ll do it anyway.
  • There will be days where I’ll challenge myself because I want to quit.
  • There will be days where I never knew that my life could be so beautiful.
  • I’m here to make a difference and I’m following my heart.
  • I’m committed to keep learning and growing and leading.
  • I’m honored to do what I do and blessed to notice that the work I’m doing affects the lives of those I serve in such a positive way.

Doing what you want to do has its ups and downs like everything in life. It may take more time and effort than you anticipated.

But the pay off is huge…

It changes your life from deep within. You feel more alive and the returns on you, your family and the people you serve are even bigger than you would even begin to imagine.

“Nobody ever got ready by waiting. You only get ready by starting.”
~
John Maxwell.

 

How are you getting ready?

 

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