Entries Tagged as Susan Jeffers

Dancing Your Own Dance

February 24, 2016 ·

In End the Struggle and Dance with Life, Susan Jeffers makes a strong point for being true to yourself. So much of what makes life difficult is when we try to be a person we are not. This is especially true of a working environment where individual identity is suppressed for the betterment of the company.

“Everyone has his or her own dance to dance...literally and figuratively.  Some of us want to spread our arms wide to new adventures.  Some of us want to open the curtain just a little bit for the time being.  Some of us want to light a huge bonfire.  Some of us want just a little flame to radiate our own special light into the world.  Never worry if you are doing it wrong.  There is no wrong. It's your dance.  And every day it's a new dance for all of us.  It is important to trust your own rhythm, your own movement.” 

Susan wrote this about everyday life, but when it applies to the workplace it becomes a powerful reminder that everyone is different and will approach work in a different capacity. Requiring everyone to do the same work in the same way is a good way to kill morale in a workplace. Companies need to recognize their employees as individuals with unique talents and strengths. But as employees, we also need to recognize that in our supervisors, our colleagues, and in ourselves.

Here are some examples exploring how recognizing individuals can make a work environment more productive and more welcoming.

Jim was habitually late to work in the morning. He’d drag himself in late, bleary-eyed. His supervisors spoke to him about it, but to no avail. Jim’s excuse was that he wasn’t a morning person. Jim was well on his way to unemployment until the department manager suggested that instead of working an 8 to 5 shift, Jim worked 9 to 6. The change was miraculous. Not only was Jim able to make it to work on time, his productivity soared. This led the company to offer more flexible hours to all their employees allowing them to choose the time they came in, between 7 and 10.

Carol and Sarah were assigned to work on a project together with a few other coworkers. The project was going nowhere as the two women were at loggerheads. The reason behind the holdup is that both women, dedicated to their work, had vastly different ideas on how to make the project succeed. It wasn’t until another person in their working group suggested divvying the responsibilities that things started to move forward. Carol, who is deadline oriented and who likes agendas and timelines, took on the parts of the project that were more straightforward. Sarah, who approaches her work in a less structured, more dynamic way, took on the aspects of the project that required more creativity. By coming to terms with the fact that they worked in different ways, they were then able to “dance their own dance” in a way that made the project’s outcome a success.

Tags: Confidence · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

This Is Not the Year of Fear

January 27, 2016 ·

“Considering how dangerous everything is, nothing is really very frightening!” - Gertrude Stein

At the beginning of the year, BBC News in the UK published an article called “U.S. Set For Year of Fear,” which explained how politicians in a major election year exploit and expound upon people’s fears. As 2016 is a presidential election year in the U.S., the article explains that during these big election cycles each candidate makes themselves out to be the hope and the solution, all the while stirring up fears in their constituents about “this dangerous time in history.”

Fear sells … whether it’s an election or products or services … and there are plenty of things to be scared of. Susan Jeffers wrote in her book, End the Struggle and Dance with Life, “I certainly don't need to remind you that this is a world where dangers lurk everywhere. Our newspapers and television news shows present us with a daily litany of violence, incurable diseases, natural disasters and an untold number of tragedies that could befall anyone of us, at any age, at any time of day. It makes one want to turn and run the other way. But where is there to run? Nowhere!”

She went on to write that it often feels that fear plagues our modern world. “We fear beginnings; we fear endings. We fear changing; we fear ‘staying stuck.’ We fear success; we fear failure. We fear living; we fear dying.”

Modern society is built upon fear. How can politicians save us if there isn’t a bogeyman? How can companies sell us their products if they don’t make us feel that we don’t have enough? Even the media—newspapers, magazines, TV shows, websites—are concerned with making us fear the world so that we turn to them for answers. We feel like we have to keep up with all the latest developments on scandals and murders—read and watch and consume all the terrible happenings in the world.

But you know what? We don’t. In Susan’s landmark book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, she wrote at the very beginning, “You may be surprised and encouraged to learn that while inability to deal with fear may look and feel like a psychological problem, in most cases it isn’t. It is primarily an educational problem, and that by reeducating the mind, you can accept fear as simply a fact of life rather than a barrier to success.”

Fear doesn’t have to be a way of life. All the things going wrong in the world are only a small part of the whole story. When you rearrange your thinking, how you look at the world, when you learn to see past the fear mongering, you’ll notice that there is a lot of good. In many ways, there is more good in the world than bad. But misery and fear don’t sell products or get people elected to office.

You get to choose how you interact with the world. You have a choice to see the world as a good place or a place of fear. 2016 doesn’t need to be a year of fear. It only will be if you let it.

Tags: Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Individual Training · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Inspirational Quotes

December 01, 2015 ·

Susan Jeffers was devoted to studying diverse ways to connect with our higher selves. In doing so, she was an avid reader and always made notes of passages and sayings that she found particularly thought provoking or meaningful. She would refer to her favorites for inspiration often. She also recommended in her teachings that this is a wonderful way to keep out the chatterbox and keep focused on our blessings.

Here are some that she used frequently that you may find useful in your own lives:

“An old woman, when asked why she was always cheerful, replied: “Well, I wear this world just as a loose garment.” – Unknown

“Ships in harbor are safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” – John Shedd

“For true peace of mind we must acknowledge whatever fault we live upon, whatever time bomb ticks in our closet, and enjoy our Shangri-la nonetheless.  It isn't the absence of the problem; it is how one lives in its presence that matters.” – Chungliang Al Huang

“The best way out is always through.” – Helen Keller

“I’m not a failure if I don’t make it . . . I’m a success because I tried.” – Unknown

“Considering how dangerous everything is, nothing is really very frightening!” – Gertrude Stein

“In daily life, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Brother David Steindl-Rast

Tags: Individual Training · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Genuinely Contributing to the Workplace

November 23, 2015 ·

“If we are constantly expecting, we will spend a great deal of our lives disappointed that the world isn’t treating us right.” - Susan Jeffers

We all go to work each day with the basic expectation that we will be compensated for our efforts. Yet how many of us go to work each day and expect praise or acknowledgement, attention, or returned favors? We get in the habit, whether we like our job or not, to expect that when we contribute to the company or business we will get a return above and beyond compensation. We aren’t giving because it is the right thing to do. We are giving from a mentality of “what’s in it for me?”

This is a fearful way to approach a work environment. Always looking at how your actions will benefit yourself is an act of fear. People who feel this way will never be able to genuinely contribute, to their jobs or their personal lives. They are filled with a sense of scarcity, as if there isn’t enough to go around and if they share what they have, they fell they will be left with nothing. The fear is that there is not enough love, not enough money, not enough praise, not enough attention—simply not enough.

As Susan Jeffers wrote, “Usually fear in one area of our lives generalizes, and we become closed down and protective in many areas of our lives. Fearful people can be visualized as crouched and hugging themselves.”

This fearfulness can manifest in the workplace as:

  • Successful business people needing their boss’s approval
  • Coworkers that seem to be competing with everyone
  • Company executives who make harmful, irresponsible decisions
  • Persons who have to control everything down to the tiny details
  • Coworkers who always expect the “favor” to be returned

These people are all operating, in some way, out of a sense of fear for their own survival. As Susan said, “They all are, in effect, crouched and withholding inside.”

She wrote, “If you recognize yourself in this description, join the rest of us. There are few in our society who have actually been taught the secrets of growing up and giving. We have been taught the illusion of giving, but not the actuality of giving. As we have been taught to be careful in terms of our physical safety, we have also been taught not to let anyone con us or take advantage of us. As a result, unless we get something back, we feel used.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you feel as if you are doing extra to contribute in order to get “paid back” in some way, then you need to step away and think about why. What need are trying to fulfill? When you address that part of you, you will be able to turn off the negative mind-set of “what’s in it for me?” and become a person who acts on “what can I do to help?”

Learning to give genuinely is a lesson easily learned but hard to put into practice. Yet it is a reachable goal. One that is very much worth reaching for. 

Tags: Confidence · Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Leadership Development · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Living in the Now

November 04, 2015 ·

“If you see your tasks in life as drudgery, then they are drudgery. On the other hand, if you see them as an opportunity, then your tasks in life will take on brighter meaning.” - Susan Jeffers

A few months ago on this blog, we talked about the “When…Then” type of life. As Susan Jeffers described it in End the Struggle and Dance With Life, “we get in the habit, from a very early age, of looking forward to the big events in our lives…We expect to find happiness only in these brief, but exciting, events. We tell ourselves that when we go on vacation then we’ll be happy. Or when we retire then we’ll pursue those hobbies we’ve always wanted to do.”

The way to counteract the “When…Then” lifestyle is to be mindful of what is going on around you every second of the day. Rather than watching the clock tick away until “quitting time,” think about how you can make each moment count by giving it your full attention.

To follow-up, we wanted to give you a practical example of how this approach worked for one person. Tracy was working at a job in marketing for a non-profit company. It was not a job that she wanted, she had aspirations in a different industry, but she had taken it because she needed a job and an acquaintance, one of the managers, desperately needed staff. After nearly a year at the job, she was miserable. Her misery isolated her, keeping her from making friends with her colleagues or even noticing that there might be a friend among them. For their part, her colleagues kept their distance, everybody too busy to try and befriend someone with a miserable personality.

Then, getting tired of being unhappy, Tracy signed up for a self-improvement course. She shortly discovered that it wasn’t her job that was making her miserable, it was her own attitude towards it. Tricia vowed to make changes in her life and over the next few months really worked to change her attitude.

The job she had wasn’t the one she wanted, but it was a good job nonetheless. Tracy found that the part of her job that she liked—event planning—was similar to the career she really wanted. She put her best effort into learning all she could about that part of her job, while making an effort to participate more in meetings and in casual conversation with her colleagues.

Her transformation was amazing. She became an integral part of the company’s team and she began to really enjoy the work she was doing to support the company. Work was no longer eight hours of drudgery, but an experience of growth. When an opportunity came along in the field she had originally wanted, she had more than enough experience to go for it, and when she left the company, she did so knowing she had contributed positively.

Tags: Confidence · Corporate Training · Leadership Development · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Knocking on the Door of Opportunity

October 26, 2015 ·

There are so many aphorisms about opportunity—how easy it is to miss it, how hard it can be to recognize…and there is a lot of truth in those sayings. “Opportunity is where you find it” is one of the most basic and important ones. Opportunities arise every day, but how often do you notice? How many of us forget to look out for it? How many of us are waiting for it to come knocking on our door?

Opportunities are a set of circumstances that make new things, new breakthroughs possible. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to advance our careers or move forward in life. If we put in the hours and effort, we are sure to one day get that big opportunity for advancement. But what if while we are working so hard we can’t see the opportunity for what it is? As Mark Twain said, “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”

We all do this—get comfortable in our expectations. Yet when we do, we can miss valuable chances to expand and grow. Susan Jeffers expressed it this way in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway: “If you are focused on ‘the way it’s supposed to be,’ you might miss the opportunity to enjoy the way it is or to have it be wonderful in a totally different way from what you imagined.”

Take a look at your own goals and routine to evaluate if you have gotten “too comfortable.” Maybe it’s time to shake things up, such as taking a class, volunteering outside the workplace, or volunteering for a project that you would normally shy away from. Anything you can do to open up your worldview will help you to be open to new opportunities and to have an attitude that is welcoming to change. As Susan wrote:

The world is a place for opportunity, and I look forward to the opportunities for learning and growing that it gives me.

Tags: Confidence · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Leadership Development · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Change Is Scary, But You Don’t Have to Be Afraid

October 12, 2015 ·

Change can be scary for everyone, but it is often even more frightening when it happens in the workplace. So many of us get used to our “daily grind” that when something happens to change it we find our fear levels amped up and rising, even if we are not under direct threat of losing our position. Whether it’s a company buyout, new management, or just a minor change in staffing, the uncertainty that comes with change can make us feel threatened. Yet fear will not help us do our jobs better. We are more likely to undermine our good intentions and efforts when working under the burden of fear, leading us to feel powerless.

In Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers offers a number of exercises that can help us feel noticeably more powerful when confronted with changes to our work environment. Adapted from those exercises are five that can help us deal positively, rather than fearfully, with workplace change.

  1. When facing a change at work we are often holding on to a “picture” of what we think it should be. What image are you holding onto? Be as honest with yourself as you possibly can. When you are aware that you are seeing things as you wish them, you can stop yourself to take another look to how things really are.
  2. Be mindful of all the options you have during the course of a given day. When uncertainty begins to overwhelm you, think instead of all the possible ways you can act and feel about the situation. Be conscious of the alternatives available to you. Make it a game. In no way should you put yourself down for being upset. Those worries are a great clue as to where you need to begin changing your thinking.
  3. Take a pen and paper, or open a new document on your computer, and make a list of all the choices available to you. In every situation there are at least thirty ways to change your point of view. Writing them down helps you to clearly see all angles, giving you the opportunity to choose the most auspicious mindset.
  4. Notice how you talk with coworkers. If your conversation includes a lot of complaining and blaming, think about ways you can communicate your opinions without being negative. If you find that some colleagues are continually negative and unsupportive, try to avoid them, if possible.
  5. Look for any gifts you are receiving from the change you’re experiencing. It may not seem like there are any, but if you look at things differently you may be surprised. Think about it: you may be garnering further career experience, maybe you could come up for promotion earlier than expected, or maybe you’re just being given the opportunity to really evaluate what you want out of your career. Any happening can be a gift if you look for it.

Change is scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Recognize your fears and then turn your mind to more constructive thinking. It may be hard to put your worries to the side, but far more constructive to find the optimistic aspects of any situation.

The important thing to remember is that change is not the end of the world—it never has been. Change is really about new beginnings. New starts may be a little scary, but they are also exciting, giving us the chance to stretch outside our old limits. 

Tags: Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Winning at the Indecision Game

September 30, 2015 ·

You’ve got a decision to make. It might be as insignificant as choosing which pens to keep in the company supply closet. Or it could be very important, like choosing a software to help your company stay competitive in its field. We all face decisions every day—thousands of small and large choices to make. With all the responsibility and stress involved, it is no wonder that we can sometimes become indecisive. One of the biggest things that can keep us from moving ahead with our lives is the fear involved in making decisions.

It can take a lot out of us when we are indecisive. The worrying and fretting, the negative chatter going on in our heads. This is incredibly detrimental to our well-being and can negatively affect our work. Susan Jeffers, in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, called it the No-Win model of thinking. In this line of thinking, when you stand at the “Choice Point” of making a decision, “You feel somewhat paralyzed as you think about the consequences in life-and-death terms. You look at the unknown and try to predict the future; you try to take control of outside forces. Both are impossible. At this point you might notice that you are driving yourself crazy.” If you choose Path A or Path B both are going to be the wrong choice because you will constantly be reassessing the situation hoping that you didn’t make a mistake.

Susan recommends approaching decision making using the No-Lose Model of decision making. The No-Lose model reminds us that whatever we decide, it will be OK. Even if the decision we make doesn’t work out exactly as we wanted, it is still the RIGHT decision. It works this way, when you find yourself at the “Choice Point” and you have two or more options to choose from, look at the unique opportunities that are available in both choices. Know that there is no such thing as a “wrong” choice. Every opportunity offers its own set of benefits and learning experiences. It comes down to how you look at it.

That is not to say that you should blindfold yourself and choose one path at random. When you are faced with a decision there are five steps you should take before deciding anything:

  1. Focus on the opportunities
  2. Do your homework and research
  3. Establish your priorities
  4. Trust your impulses
  5. Lighten up!

Then, once you have made your decision, make sure you:

  1. Throw away your picture of what you think the outcome should look like
  2. Accept total responsibility for your decisions
  3. Don’t protect the decision, make corrections to it as needed.

Susan said, “Remember that underlying our indecision is a lack of trust in ourselves.” So trust yourself and the decisions you make and know that there are opportunities available to you no matter what you decide. 

Tags: Confidence · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Individual Training · Leadership Development · Overcome Fear · Susan Jeffers

Expanding the Bottom Line

August 31, 2015 ·

The “bottom line” is a very important concept in business—it signifies the particular end that justifies all the means. If you ask most people to identify what is presently the bottom line in their work world, they would most likely answer, “Getting Ahead.”

This is really a shortened version of “Getting Ahead—usually of someone else in terms of profit, status, and/or power.” This does not make for great work connections or good relations with coworkers. But, what if we expanded our bottom line to be, “Getting Ahead and caring about coworkers”?

As we add a level of connectedness to our bottom line, our purpose is greatly expanded. As Susan Jeffers said in Dare to Connect, “We can begin to bridge the gap with our coworkers as we start to see them as people just like us, people who would welcome our caring and consideration.”

It may seem that “Getting Ahead” and “Caring About Coworkers” are conflicting concepts, but they don’t have to be. The actions and attitudes that come from the narrow bottom line of “Getting Ahead” are very different from those that come from the expanded bottom line of “Getting Ahead and Caring About Coworkers.” It changes our thinking from You OR Me to You AND Me.

Thinking along the lines of the expanded bottom line, ask yourself:

  • Am I a positive force in at work?
  • Do I help people feel good about themselves by building them up or do I pull them down by being judgmental and critical?
  • Do I offer my help to those who could use it or do I withhold, out of fear they may get ahead of me?
  • Am I a taker, or do I also give a lot to those around me?
  • Do I show genuine interest in the lives of my co-workers, or do I act as if I couldn’t care less?

When we answer these questions truthfully, we can begin to adjust our thinking towards working with others instead of just trying to get ahead. Expanding the bottom line can not only make work more productive, but more interesting and pleasurable too. 

Tags: Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Leadership Development · Susan Jeffers

The “When…Then” of Working Life

August 17, 2015 ·

How much of your day do you spend working? A third? More? How much of your job do you like? Do you find yourself fantasizing about three-day weekends and your next vacation? Or do you put your nose to the grindstone in anticipation of the next bonus, raise, or maybe even promotion?

If you do, then you may be suffering from “When. . .Then” syndrome. You go through the motions now so that one day, later on, you will be happy. You put all your happiness on hold until those times when you have achieved some long, sought-after goal. When you go on vacation, then you will be happy. When you get that raise, then you’ll be happy.

But what about today? Why aren’t you happy today? The thing about our work, jobs, and careers is that not every moment is going to be fulfilling. Sometimes you have to sit through boring meetings and sometimes you have to do the filing. Just like at home you have to wash the dishes or mow the lawn.

Even though we all are saddled with duties that we feel are not fulfilling, there is no reason to look at them that way. Filing? A necessity, certainly, but also an opportunity to be organized and ready should you need any of that information. Another long meeting? Surely it’s not a waste of time when you are working towards keeping colleagues informed and working together to make the company work better.

Susan Jeffers promoted this policy after living many years with the “When…Then” syndrome. When she realized that living that way wasn’t making her happy she formulated this idea: “If you see your tasks in life as drudgery, then they are drudgery. On the other hand, if you see them as an opportunity, then your tasks in life will take on brighter meaning.”

Every task you do at work, everything you think of a chore, helps fulfill the needs of your job and the company. If you think about how much good each task means for your position, for your colleagues and bosses, and for yourself, it will help you feel more connected to each moment of the day. So rather than putting all your hopes into the “Then”, put your energy into appreciating what is going on in each moment of your day. Be mindful of what you are doing. By taking this more simple approach, you don’t have to wait for the “When”. For that time is now.

Susan said it best when she wrote:

We don't have to wait until we are old to gather the riches;
we can gather them every day of our lives.

Tags: Corporate Training · Individual Training · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers