Always-On GPS

Always-On GPS

I am born, raised, and have never lived anywhere other than Southern California. You can say I know how to get to places in SoCal without using GPS. I mean, I can go 75, 100 miles to another major city, and I never have to use GPS. However, when I want to leave my home where I live now, where I’ve lived for over 20 years, to go visit my parents where I lived my first 20 years of life, and the distance is less than 20 miles, I need to use GPS.

Seems strange. Well, I’m not using GPS for the actual directions, I need to use GPS to understand which route is the optimal one to take, and how long is it going to take me. I need to be able to let my parents know what time I’m arriving. So when I’m using GPS in and about the area I have spent nearly five decades of my life, I am not using it for the actual turn-by-turn directions; I am using it as an assessment tool, to understand the optimal details to get me to my final destination.

You should be using GPS in your everyday communication – especially as a leader.

You may know exactly what your objectives are in your next email. You may know what outcome you want in the next conversation you’re having. You may know exactly how you want your presentation to end. All of those places that you communicate, you may have a really crystal clear goal, objectives, or outcome at the end. But are you checking the GPS for the details on the optimal route to get there? And what do I mean by that?

I mean, are you checking in with yourself? Are you aware of your current state of mind, of your current emotions, of the situation you’re about to be in, of the people you’re about to interact with? Are you aware of the details of the other party, whoever’s on the receiving end of that email, of that conversation, sitting in the audience for your presentation?

It’s really important that you don’t just know, “What’s my destination,” but you do a little GPS check-in with yourself to understand what are the details and how aware am I of all of the little intricacies, so that you can choose the optimal way to reach that final destination. Flip on that GPS today before you jump into your next communication!

Check Those Emotions

Check Those Emotions

I was new in my sales role, so my manager was going with me to a client meeting, but I was the one who was going to deliver the presentation. I prepared, I rehearsed. So when we left that meeting, I felt like, “Yeah, you did it! This was great!” We’re in the car heading back to the office, and my manager starts to share some feedback with me – and it wasn’t the “Great job, Colleen,” or, “kudos to you,” that I had expected. Instead, she was giving me several key areas for improvement for the future. I am gripping that steering wheel so tight, my face is turning feet red, and I am fuming inside. I start to share with her all the reasons why I didn’t do what she was suggesting.

She stops me and says, “Colleen, this all just sounds like excuses. Listen to what I’m sharing with you for the future.” And she was absolutely right.

I mean, we all end up in these situations where you’re receiving constructive criticism, some sort of feedback. Maybe you’ve made an error. You need to get that information told back to you, and you are simply a human being who is hardwired for these emotional reactions. But, we have to be able to keep these emotions in check in the moment, so that they don’t come outward and jeopardize that relationship. Whether that relationship is with an external client, an internal senior leader, or just another person in your professional or personal life where you need to have a solid relationship with them.

So how do we keep these emotions in check? When you’re in the moment, again, because you are a human being, I want you to give yourself permission to feel the emotions, to just openly accept that you’re going to feel this way – but to keep this inside and not have it come out in the moment of this conversation. So instead, stay focused on the facts that are being presented to you. Listen intently to the actual data, the actual information and facts that are being conveyed, and just store them. Laser focus in on that.

Get rid of the, “Why are they telling me this?” Or, “I know I didn’t do it this way because of this.” Just hold all of that and focus in on the data, the facts being delivered to you. Once you are away from that conversation, take those emotions, go behind closed doors, and live ’em out. You can cry, you can yell, you can get angry. Allow those emotions to come out behind closed doors.

But here’s the additional caveat. You’ve got 24 hours, 24 hours, get all of that crap out, and then revisit that data that you focused on and make some smart decisions about how you’re going to implement those and move forward. Keep those emotions in check so that you can stay professional and maintain the integrity and strength of that relationship.

Psychological First Aid is the Band-Aid

Psychological First Aid is the Band-Aid

Employees are suffering. They are suffering across a spectrum of mental health challenges – increased stress, heightened anxiety, burnout. Yet, when these employees go to their managers for support, their managers aren’t equipped to administer any type of psychological first aid. I mean, unless they’re a licensed and practicing therapist, they just don’t have the skills. Which is why organizations have been putting into place mental health programs and hiring Chief Well-Being Officers. And in many cases, these initiatives are successful at administering that psychological first aid. But that’s actually the problem. Organizations are throwing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars toward putting a band-aid on the symptoms rather than addressing the disease. The disease of poorly-skilled managers. And you know who sees it? Your employees. 40% of employees said, “I wish my manager had more self-awareness, was better able to manage their emotions, and actually helped reduce the stress in the work environment.” The employees see the need for their managers to be more highly skilled. And in many cases, these aren’t bad managers; they’re just managers that lack the skills. And we see this time and time again, in fact we know that most cases managers don’t receive any type of training until approximately nine years until after they’ve been promoted. So no wonder they don’t have the skills. Organizations, you must start investing some, if not all, of that initiative, of that investment from just to addressing the symptoms into actually addressing the disease. We see the success time and time again when we go in and we work with organizations and we train leaders on emotional intelligence. When we train leaders on how to have effective communication in order to put out the message, reduce the stress, be able to coach and pay attention to their employee’s needs, we see it impact the bottom line. Not only does it help retain the top talent, so you’re not throwing money away to hire new employees, but you’re also increasing the effectiveness, the productivity, to increase your overall profits. If you’re interested in learning more, message me below, I would love to talk to you about this. This is your call to action: stop wasting money on just looking at the symptoms, and instead address the disease. Start training your managers early and more consistently.

First Step to Mitigate Burnout

First Step to Mitigate Burnout

In last week’s video, I gave you the very specific signs, the signals to be aware of that indicate you are on the verge of burnout – what to be watching for physically and mentally before you actually hit burnout. Especially if you’re seeing some of those signs happen at a greater frequency, that should be your signal. So today, if you are experiencing those, you’re aware, acknowledging them, you need to immediately change course to mitigate that burnout. Your number one action is to communicate with your manager.

Burnout is a workplace syndrome.

It’s when your work is not under control and you don’t have ways to manage the stress directly, again, tied to work. So, the first step that you should be taking is communicating with your manager. Do not assume that your manager has any idea of what you’re going through. Not even to know exactly what type of tasks, responsibilities, or what’s on your plate. Even though they have a general sense, they don’t know what you’re day in and day out looks like.

They’re most likely not aware of how many hours you’re working, and much less are they aware of how you’re feeling. So when you go to approach your manager, I want you to think about these three C’s. It’s communicate with collaboration, not complaining. Communicate with collaboration, not complaining. Be prepared to come in and say, “Look, I’m really excited about these opportunities. Here’s what I have on my plate. I’d like to talk with you about these so we can collaborate, maybe find out the priorities, and where some things could maybe shift in order for me to avoid getting really burned out. I’m starting to work extra hours, I’m noticing that I have more anxiety or I’m getting more frustrated, and I want to make sure that we’re not getting to the place of burnout.”

Sitting down to collaborate, stating the facts, how many hours are you working? What are the projects on your plate? And then collaborate on how things could be prioritized or delegated or shifted to another time, delayed in order for you to avoid getting to that absolute burnout. So make sure that in your communication it’s with collaboration, not complaining. You never want to approach your manager by saying, “Oh my goodness, I’m so burned out. I need to do this, I can’t handle this.” We never want you to exhibit, first of all, signs that might indicate you just can’t handle it. Right? And certainly, if you’re on this verge, it’s not to say that you are not a strong person.

But when you approach it via complaining, it can come across that you’re not capable. Also when you’re complaining, depending on your manager’s personality and how they respond or react to things, they may take your complaining as a sign that you’re blaming them for your situation, or the situation. So make sure that you approach the conversation with facts, state how much you love working there, you love working on their team, but this is, these are the facts of what’s in front of you. And how can you collaborate together to find a solution that’s going to work for you, your manager, and your organization overall.

Communicate with collaboration, not complaining.

When You’re on the Verge of Burnout

When You’re on the Verge of Burnout

When I experienced complete and total burnout over seven years ago – and I’m talking the kind of burnout where I swore I was quitting my job if I was ever going to survive – that year leading up to my burnout, I blamed everyone. I blamed my boss for giving me the promotion that I swore was the ultimate cause of my burnout. Then I went on to blame my co-workers who appeared to not have as much work as I did, or I even blamed stay-at-home moms for posting fun trips at Disneyland while I was stuck in an airport.

And of course, I blamed my husband. He had a business from home where he didn’t have to get ready and commute like I did. I blamed everyone for my burnout. Well, almost everyone! I forgot to blame one really important person – me! I never once blamed myself, like it wasn’t even a consideration that I was responsible for my burnout.

But of course I was; I was the one who was saying yes to what was being put in front of me.

I was the one who was making choices to put myself in the center of these circumstances that were causing burnout. If you are experiencing symptoms of burnout or you’re getting closer to it, I’ve got to tell you: it’s your fault. You are the person who’s causing the burnout, the burnout is to be blamed on you. Look, I’m not here just to point fingers at you today, I’m going to actually offer some tips about what you can do about this.

The first tip is to acknowledge that you are the person responsible for the burnout – but here’s the good news. If you’re the person who made the choices to get you to the burnout, you’re the same person who can make choices to get you out. You have the power to get out of this situation. Now we’ll talk about some tips on how to do that.

If you’re looking to get out of burnout, first of all, you’ve got to start saying no. All of these opportunities, all of these requests that are coming your way, are you saying no to any of them, or to at least the ones that are really pulling at you? And I get it; in a professional environment you can’t act like a little kid, stomping your feet and saying, “No, I won’t do that!” Of course not.

But are you having a professional conversation, an open dialogue where you could potentially say, “No, thank you,” and evaluate what’s on your plate, or see if these requests align with the company’s priorities or your professional development? If not, you need to go have those conversations. The second piece is, if you can’t say no, if you do need to commit, then are you asking for help? Look at what’s in front of you. Are there resources that you should be tapping into, to get some assistance so you don’t burn out?

A little side tip on this: don’t assume people know you need help; you have to ask.

Don’t assume that your boss has any clue what’s really on your plate. Don’t assume your spouse is going to help you with a household chore. You have to ask; again, the power is yours. Go out and ask for help. The third thing I’d like to call to your attention is, are you focused on perfection? Do you have things that you’re working on, things that you’re doing, responsibilities that you have, where you’re trying to make it perfect?

Is that perfection, whether it’s draining your resources for time or energy, one of the things that is leading to burnout? If so, I’m going to invite you to go back to one of my videos about four or five weeks ago that addresses perfection. That’s the video for you, to help you get ahold of this burnout! If you have any other tips on how to either avoid or get yourself out of burnout, please post those in the comments below.

Check the Negativity

Check the Negativity

You may have that one person in your life that is constantly delivering negativity at you, almost like it’s daggers. Or you’re anticipating an upcoming event, where the feeling is going to be really dark and heavy. Or maybe just even yesterday, you had something happen where it killed your positive vibes. Whatever the circumstances are, I want to help you check that negativity so that you can move forward!

In my process, the first stage is all about awareness – and the very beginning of it is awareness on your part. So regardless of the event, the negativity that’s coming at you, you get to choose how you feel next. I know it’s way easier to blame the person, the situation, but take hold of the power that you have to determine how you are going to feel. Don’t let that other person or event control you; take that empowerment of choice and decide how you feel next.

Once you’ve got that awareness, the next awareness is knowing that the situation probably has nothing to do with you.

I know you’ve heard that before, but are you living that? Are you recognizing that the other person may just be having a bad day, that you happen to be in their path, their line of fire, on the receiving end of the negativity? The final stage of awareness – and this one is going to challenge you, and I want you to take on the challenge – is to have empathy for that other person. We have no idea how they learned to deal with negativity. They may be doing the best that they possibly can with the resources they have.

So let’s just have some empathy for them and recognize they’re doing their best. Once you’ve got that awareness, the next phase is to get into action. And immediately, I want you to build a surround sound of positivity. There are lots of different ways to do this, and it looks different for everyone, but I’m going to give you a few of my favorites. Go outside; biologically, being outside in the fresh air and the sunshine kicks in those endorphins and immediately allows you to feel that optimism, that moving forward feeling.

If you can’t get outside, listen or read something that’s positive, whether that’s an affirmation, a podcast, but just building in those positive words, it will physiologically change how you’re feeling. And finally, do you have a positive person you can reach out to? Someone you can go talk to. But my warning label is, it’s not to go talk to them to complain or bitch about the situation. It’s your Yoda; that person that as soon as you hear or see them, you’re automatically feeling that better energy.

Now, if you have someone that is in your life causing this negativity around you, if you can, eliminate them immediately. But for those people that you can’t, maybe it’s a family member or a co-worker you have to be with, start limiting the amount of time that you spend with them. Try to isolate yourself and only be with them on an as-needed basis.

And I want to leave you with, if these steps, these strategies, this process doesn’t work for you, please do not stop here. There are so many resources out there. I had an ongoing situation with a boss of mine where every single day, I had the daggers of negativity coming at me. And these steps helped me on most days, but there were days that were really rough. And instead of me getting sucked into that negativity, I chose to reach out to another resource, get new ideas.

I’m encouraging you to do the same; check the negativity and keep moving forward.