You Have a Lot to Offer

November 18, 2016 ·

In recent blogs we’ve been talking about fear and moving forward in your career. Here we have an example that Susan Jeffers used to illustrate just how fear might be the thing holding us back.

Allison had been a nurse in a large hospital for more than ten years. She began her profession in her mid-30s and loved the work. She liked the hands-on aspects of her work and being able to have personal interaction with her patients. She had been in her job so long that she had worked with many nurses, fresh from school, who had already been promoted to expanded responsibility. It didn’t occur to her that she might also want to be promoted. When a supervisor position opened in her department her boss took her aside and asked her to apply for the position, saying that with all her experience she would make a big difference to the department. As it was she already trained and mentored incoming nurses and other staff, so by seeking a promotion she would be getting paid for it.

Susie considered the request. It wasn’t that she had never thought about promotion, it was just that she was satisfied with her job and was good at it. Plus she really like working with patients. But as she looked deeper she found that she had a fear of not being good enough, not have the skills to supervise other staff, of just not being good enough. This discovery hit her like a thunderbolt. It had never occurred to her that her complacency towards her job, her lack of motivation towards advancement, had a basis in fear.

After much consideration, and a long talk with her boss, she applied for and got the supervisor position. While she didn’t get as much personal interaction with the patients as before, she was now responsible for overseeing how other staff interacted with patients and could help guide and train them. As her boss had said, it really had a lot to do with how she had already been conducting her job, but now with added benefits. 

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Moving Up or Moving On

November 03, 2016 ·

Each of us gets to a point in our careers when we need to move forward. It is the natural progression. As we get better and better at our jobs we take on new responsibilities. When we gain enough experience it becomes important to share what we know to help others do their jobs better. Whether we seek promotions within a company or decide to move on to another company, becoming experienced in what we do is maybe not the stated goal, but is definitely an outcome of our chosen careers.

When you don’t seek promotion or maybe are overlooked for promotion, you need to think about why that is happening. Maybe you’re happy with what you do? Or maybe you just aren’t motivated? Maybe you are scared of change, of the unknown?

Fear can stop you from moving forward. It might seem like a lack of motivation, but underlying that is a level of fear. Associated with that fear is a lack of sense of self. Believing that you don’t have anything to contribute feeds that fear of change.

Susan Jeffers said, “Fear is neither productive or unproductive...it just is. Everyone faces fear as they push out into the world in new ways. You are not alone. It's how we hold the fear that is important. Do we hold it from a position of pain and paralysis or do we hold it from a position of power and move forward despite the fear. Our task is to learn how to become more powerful in the face of our fears. The fear is part of all of our lives.”

Fear will always be a part of life and will never go away as long as you continue to grow. As Susan wrote: “The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and...do it. The only way to feel better about yourself is to go out and...do it!”

Remember though, that you aren’t alone in facing the unknown. Everyone has to face their fears before they can grow. Yet pushing past the fear is far less frightening than living with the much larger underlying fear that comes from feeling helpless. Susan suggested that we always remember that your life makes a difference. The world needs you to get out there and help the world in some way.

There is a reason Susan named her first book as she did. Fear will always be with us, but if you really want to grow in your field, get that promotion, or be in a position to help others, you need to face your fear. You need to feel the fear and do it anyway!

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Practicing the Positive

October 17, 2016 ·

We’ve been talking lately about resisting the barrage of negativity and learning to appreciate that we live in the safest time in human history. It can be incredibly hard to be positive when the world seems to be crashing around our ears. But that is why we have to work our positivity “muscle” and practice. Susan explains in this excerpt from Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway:

STOP FEEDING YOURSELF NEGATIVE THOUGHTS. Negative thoughts take away your power, and thus make you more paralyzed from your fear.

As you know, positive thinking is not a new concept. Aside from Pollyanna, Norman Vincent Peale, Napoleon Hill, Maxwell Maltz, and others popularized the concept many years ago. Their books are still available today. So, why don’t people think more positively? My guess is that people don’t understand what being a positive thinker requires. It takes a special commitment and requires a great deal of practice. And once you get it all down perfectly, a maintenance program is a must. I know of no one who has been able to make “positive” a permanent way of thinking without practice. Such people may exist; I simply haven’t met them. In my experience, if you don’t practice, you lose the skill. This is the point most people don’t seem to understand.

I know it doesn’t seem fair that you automatically become negative when you stop practicing the positive. I liken it to exercise. Once you get your body in shape, you can’t stop working out. Within a short time your muscles start losing tone, and where you once could do fifty sit-ups, twenty is now your maximum. You must keep at it.

The intellect acts in the same way. When problem solving, stimulating discussion or reading is a part of your daily life, your mind is sharp. After a two-week vacation of lounging on the beach, your brain feels soggy. It takes quite a few days to get your brain back in shape.

Obviously, certain aspects of ourselves need constant reinforcement, and a positive mental attitude is just one of them.

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The Psychological Predisposition to Bad News

October 12, 2016 ·

Humans are predisposed to pay more attention to bad news, to things that can go or have gone wrong. The psychological term for it is Negativity Bias. We are all inclined towards life’s negativity. This is the idea that Susan spent her whole career battling against—just because we are predisposed to negativity doesn’t mean we have to give in to it!

People paying more attention to bad news has several explanations. In an evolutionary light, survival meant being more aware of the things that could kill you. Updated to the 21st century, this means that we have a predisposition to fear. From a sociological point-of-view, humans perceive bad news as more important or profound. Part of it is because we have a selective (i.e. short) attention span, but also it’s because we tend to be suspicious of “good news.”

Harvard psychologist and author Steven Pinker has argued that this is the safest time in history—fewer wars, less violence, better medicine and health, among a host of other things—yet most people believe that things are getting much worse. Our bias toward negativity is getting in the way of truly appreciating how good we have it now. 

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Conquering the Fear of Putting Yourself Out There

October 03, 2016 ·

Going up for a big promotion or maybe considering a new job? Bet you’re feeling rather nervous…maybe even a little scared. That is entirely normal. What is also normal, but not healthy, is letting that fear hold you back from pursuing your goals.

Seeking a new position is akin to putting yourself in the spotlight…naked! The people making the hiring decisions are going to scrutinize your previous work, dissect your experience, and even judge how you work with others. That can be a terrifying prospect.

Susan Jeffers wrote about this anxiety that can hold us back, “The only way to get over the fear of doing something is to do it...which is stepping out of our comfort zone. As we conquer one fear, we step out of the comfort zone again to try something else that is new. Each time we step out of the comfort zone, we become stronger and stronger. Stepping out of the comfort zone is our pathway to a feeling of power.”

How, though? How can we just put aside these sometimes mind-numbing fears and do it anyway? Susan had some advice for that too:

“First, let go of outcomes. Let go of expectations. When we need for things to turn out a certain way, it takes away our peace of mind. Our attachment to things turning out a certain way makes us feel insecure. We do our best, but then we have to let go. Non-attachment is good. If you are rejected from a job, keep repeating to yourself, over and over again...‘It's all happening perfectly. There is something out there that I am better suited to do. I will learn as much as I can and move forward.’”

It’s OK to want the promotion or new job, even to dream about it. But the difference that Susan talks about is a little different—a trap that is easy to fall into. Say your goal is to be appointed as manager to your department. When you apply, try not to think about what will happen when you get the job, don’t think about the treat you’ll give yourself with the extra money you’ll be making, don’t think about “when it happens…” This is attaching expectations to the outcome. Submit your application or resume, then tell yourself, “Either I’ll get it or I won’t and that is all right.”

Remember that the important thing is that you have tried. That you pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone and expanded your horizons.

It's all happening perfectly. I will learn as much as I can and move forward.

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Communication in the Workplace

September 01, 2016 ·

The past few months in this blog we’ve been building on the idea of compassion in the workplace. One of the most important ways to achieve a workplace that is both professional and compassionate is to open wide the lines of communication. In Susan Jeffers’ book, Dare to Connect, she offered seven points to achieve workplace communication. We’ve included the whole passage from the book, so you can read for yourself her powerful words—

We are talking about communication...and communication is essential in succeeding in the workplace (or anywhere else). Some of the ways to enhance communication in the workplace are:

1. Be open to having your belief systems changed. Each of our beliefs expresses only one point of view. Many others are just as valid. When you are constantly defending something, you can be sure a belief system is controlling the situation. Remember, a belief system is a wall that separates.

2. See other points of view as important contributions to the whole picture. Remember the old tale about the blind men describing the elephant? We are all blind men, with the option of expanding our experience and understanding if we listen carefully to others. In this way we incorporate their “truth” into our storehouse of wisdom.

3. Agree to disagree. All differences do not require a resolution. Make your motto, “I can live in my truth and allow you to live in your truth, respecting each of our rights to do so.” This facilitates arriving at solutions without anger and self-righteousness. The question then becomes, “You have your belief and I have mine. How can we incorporate both to create a positive solution?”

4. Focus on discovery. For us perfectionists, the concept of discovery rather than achievement is a powerful one indeed. When we focus on discovery, we don't always need to be right; in fact, it sometimes serves the purpose to be wrong: we may learn a new way of doing something!

5. Stop being defensive. If someone appears to “attack” us, whatever the arena, try to move out of the way of the attack by saying something “disarming”, such as,

  • I hear what you're saying. Let's see how we can mesh our ideas.
  • I'm interested in how came to that conclusion.
  • Interesting; I hadn't thought of it that way before.

...or something to indicate acknowledgement and an effort to understand the other person. Acknowledgment doesn't mean acquiescence. It means giving value to the other person's ideas, even if they differ from yours. Validation of this sort is a very loving act indeed.

6. Stop criticizing. When we use conflict as discovery, we no longer have to pretend we know it all. We allow others to do things their way without passing judgment, understanding that there can be many pathways to the same results.

7. Pretend you don't know anything at all. If we can let go of preconceived ideas just for a moment and pretend we're ignorant, we're much more receptive to the ideas of others.

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Communication and Compassion

August 15, 2016 ·

In last month’s blog, we talked about how being “professional” at work doesn’t mean that we can’t also show compassion. Often times, at our place of employment, we try to strip all emotion from our work. But humans are full of emotion all the time, so disciplining ourselves to be less compassionate and loving serves to keep us isolated in a place we spend so much of our lives.

Yes, it can be difficult to be understanding and show compassion to our colleagues. We spend at least 25% of our time during any given week with a large group of people that we didn’t choose and with whom we have to work closely. There are people that we like more than others—sometimes making true friends—but there are also people that are tough to get along with, making it hard to meet deadlines and achieve goals.

This is where professional compassion can be most useful—it opens up channels of communication with our colleagues and helps us to understand where they are coming from. Susan Jeffers wrote in Dare to Connect, “What creates conflict are the differing needs, expectations, perceptions and experiences of everyone involved.” By being in contact with our emotions, by not being afraid to try to empathize with all of our colleagues, we can be a better co-worker and a more productive employee.

The first step towards achieving understanding is to know that we don’t know, and can’t know in many cases, what other people are feeling or thinking.

“In our effort to convert conflict into discovery, expansion, and cooperation, it really helps to see ourselves as beings with very limited vision. By definition, we can see the world through our own eyes...and no one else's. That's pretty limited! Conflict simply signifies that those with whom we have disagreements see with different eyes.”

Trying to at least acknowledge that your colleagues have individual lives, individual fears and goals, will go a long way in helping to understand where they are coming from. The next step is to really listen.

“Understand we don't have to end up agreeing with each other.  But in the process, we learn what the world looks like, from different points of view. So LISTEN AND LEARN is the key to using conflict as discovery. The more we hear and the more we see, the more we allow into our internal computer, and the more creative we become—and the more empathy we have for other positions, thus allowing connection to occur.”

Each of these steps you can undertake on your own to improve both your work experience and that of your colleagues. Many times, those colleagues you already find recalcitrant will not be affected by your effort to understand and listen. If you are reaching out with love and compassion and they can’t see it, it is a poor reflection on them, not on you. By reaching out to everyone with the same level of empathy, you are creating a workspace that is supportive and productive for those around you and, more importantly, yourself. 

Tags: Corporate Training · Personal Development

Become the Observer of Your Thoughts

August 10, 2016 ·

Following up on the previous blog, another “Love Lesson” that we can adapt to help us perfect Susan’s Mirror technique is the third one from Chapter 4 of The Feel the Fear Guide to Lasting Love—“Become the Observer of Your Thoughts.”

Susan wrote: “With the help of your mirror you’ll begin to notice your thoughts. It will be as though you’re watching yourself from the outside. In so doing, you are moving one step away from the emotions that may be affecting you.”

By looking at yourself in your metaphorical mirror and examining your judgmental thoughts you’ll likely find that you are operating from a place of fear. But not to worry! As Susan says, “It’s simply time to gather and use the tools that help you to push through the fear to get in touch with your Higher Self. Remember not to judge yourself. Just become the observer of your thoughts and soon you will be able to move them into a more positive realm.”

When you turn the mirror towards yourself, make sure you don’t judge or blame yourself! That just perpetuates the cycle. Learning not to be overly critical of others means that you can’t treat yourself that way either. 

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Awareness Is the First Step

August 05, 2016 ·

In this month’s newsletter, we talked about applying Susan’s Mirror technique to our day-to-day interactions with others. When we are critical and judgmental about other people, we are operating from our lower self. This is looking at people through a magnifying glass. When we look in the mirror and try to understand why we are so negative and judgmental, we often find that being critical towards others is about our own fears.

Much of this lesson comes from Susan’s book The Feel the Fear Guide to Lasting Love. One chapter is devoted to discussing the Mirror technique as regards to personal relationships. The end of the chapter includes “Love Lessons” to help us apply the Mirror technique to our own situations. Here we’ll take a look at one of those “Love Lessons” and see how it can apply to all the people we see or interact with.

The first lesson is “Notice your resistance. Awareness is an important first step.” Do you even notice when you have a critical or disparaging reaction to another person? Do you notice a sense of satisfaction, superiority, or righteousness when you do? Or is it so ingrained in your behavior that it isn’t even noticeable?

The first step is to pay attention to your random thoughts. Try to notice any judgmental reactions you have when encountering other people. If you find yourself trying to justify why you are being critical, then you might want to step back and ask yourself why. 

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Do Something, Even If It’s Just Your Routine

July 21, 2016 · 1 Comment

In this month’s newsletter article we talked about getting perspective on our worries by doing something, anything really, to step out of our anxieties. We wanted to share Brianna’s story with you.

Brianna was a working mother of three small children—all under age 7—when her husband sprang the news on her that he wanted a divorce. As you can imagine, she was devastated. There hadn’t been any animosity or bad feelings, they had just grown apart living busy lives. But she was not prepared for that bombshell he dropped one morning.

She was feeling betrayed and alone, and for several days she couldn’t stop herself from thinking of all the ways she could have done things differently, of all the things she would say to her husband if he would stay. She fell into victim mode, feeling like all bad things happened only to her.

Then on Saturday, Brianna got up, fed her kids, then began doing the loads of laundry and cleaning the house as she did every weekend. Suddenly things felt a lot better. Things felt as if they would be, if not good, then alright. She realized how important it was to keep her kids in their normal routine, to preserve their peace as much as she could, and keep her own life on track.

Was it hard? Absolutely. Was Brianna able to pull it off? Definitely. After some marriage counseling, Brianna found that her husband’s heart wasn’t in it and they divorced. While it was not easy, things weren’t as hard for her as she thought it would be. She had her kids to take care of and her job to do, so in some respects nothing changed much. She was able to keep her own peace of mind and let her kids continue to be kids by sticking to her routine, just by doing something. 

1 CommentTags: Personal Development