4 Min ReadLifestyle 13 March 2020
How many thoughts did you have today that you also had yesterday?
Ever think about it? We're broken records, ruminating on the same events, people, hang-ups, and to-do lists over and over again. Are you ready to hear about the impact those thought loops have on our actual, well, lives?
As co-founder of Handel Group and a life coach for over 20 years, I've seen countless numbers of people stay stuck in their day-to-day lives until they make the conscious decision to change and evolve into something better.
Luckily, you don't have to wait another day or be stuck any longer. I have a quick roadmap to use when determining what is keeping you “stuck" at any time of year, and it has nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with you:
Personal Integrity: When what you say and do aligns with your highest values.
You can break integrity down into three connected components: physical, emotional, and spiritual. In any given moment, from the lens of these three categories, you can understand why you are where you are in reference to how you think and see your life. I'll elaborate:
Physical: Exercise, diet, sleep, personal space, and any actions you are taking in this arena.
Emotional: How your physical actions are making you feel and how you react to the actions of others.
Spiritual: In a macro sense, how you feel about your life, how you see your path, and how you relate to the bigger picture. How connected you feel to what's going on around you.
Here's a fact: whether you know it or not, these three factors are already at work in your own life. So often, we can't see their patterns because we invented the patterns ourselves, through our beliefs, habits, and character traits. Many of my clients come to me fully aware of their space in those three arenas, but totally oblivious to the connection between them. Like a little black box in our head, that information reveals the how and why of what's really going on in our lives.
So how do we change the message?
Breaking into that inner black box is the key to becoming unstuck, but it requires a thorough investigation of your inner dialogue (thoughts). Most people are hesitant to admit that their inner dialogue is controlled by fear and negativity, or they don't even realize it's happening. They continue to self-sabotage and then feel all the worse for dropping the ball, breaking their promises, and selling out on their dreams.
You can gain insight into your own Personal Integrity by asking yourself the following 10 questions, and being honest:
1. What have you accomplished in life that you are most proud of?
2. How were you the driver in those accomplishments?
3. What areas of your life are not working for you?
4. How are you responsible for those things that aren't working?
5. How would you rate your integrity in these areas on a scale of 1-10: physical, emotional, and spiritual?
6. What are you saying to yourself about your life in the areas that aren't working?
7. What actions are you taking (or not taking!) in the areas of life that aren't working?
8. What are your dreams in the areas you want to improve?
9. Can you spot the pattern linking your actions to the way you feel on a daily basis?
10. How do you think changes in one area would affect another area?
Truth is, in areas where you are succeeding, you have harnessed your mind. If you have a great career, a hot and healthy body, an awesome family, you have indeed figured something out in those areas. You have figured out how to smell the fresh bread at a fancy restaurant, hand the bread basket back to the waiter, and order and eat the kale. You can be powerful in a meeting, even if you're premenstrual (or your partner is). You know how to harness your mind and tell it to stop talking smack to you. Heck, you have even figured out that if you don't listen to that inner voice of yours, it shuts up.
But in every other area of your life where you are not winning (yet), you haven't dealt with this. You haven't separated yourself from your inner dialogue, your thoughts, and your theories. Who is catching them?
Answer: no one.
Except now you are going to start separating yourself from them. This exercise does more than just revisit the New Year's resolutions you've half-committed to. It's the “why" of your promises and connects you back to your dream for the big picture of your life. It lets you see how any one thing you're doing (or not doing) has a ripple effect on other areas of your life and shows you where your attention is most needed. More than anything, it addresses the voices in your head that are calling the shots and gives you the opportunity to change the message you are sending yourself.
The good news is that every single day is a chance to experiment -- with a new plan, a different practice, or a modified perspective. “How will I feel if I meditate four days in a row?" “What will happen if I alter this one thing?" Experiment, and then watch the changes as they happen before your eyes.
Whatever you do, don't wait for spring cleaning to take an inventory of your current situation and do a thorough integrity check. Just as an action plan for “bathing suit season" starts months in advance of summer, an action plan for your life starts today, and it starts with changing your mind.
Give it a try!
This piece was originally published January 14, 2018.
4 Min Read
When I first heard #OKBoomer, I cringed and thought — here we go again.
Yet another round of generation bashing, this time Millennials against Baby Boomers. This new social media conflict will not help workplace dynamics.
Throughout my career, I've heard countless rants about long-established workplace norms that younger generations perceive as overly repressive rules that subvert identity, familial obligations, civility, and respect for the environment.
I get it. I remember how I felt early in my career being told that I couldn't wear pants, had to wear pantyhose (even in 90-degree weather) and that I wasn't allowed to speak to executives. Seriously?
Gen X here to the rescue.
Sandwiched between the much larger Baby Boomer and Millennial generations, Gen Xers are often overlooked. Please allow me to build a bridge to the opportunity ahead.
For me, the generation challenge is a communications opportunity. And the stakes are high, because we spend about 70% of our day communicating. Within that timeframe, we spend about 45% listening, 30% speaking, 16% reading, and 9% writing.
By 2030, most Baby Boomers will have retired, and approximately 75% of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials. That gives us about a decade to continue working together to create a work environment that is better for women, people of color, and the younger generations.
As a multigenerational workplace scholar, I'm often asked, what is a generation, and why do they matter?
Karl Mannheim, the founder of sociology, concluded that key historical events significantly impact people during their youth. Essentially, when you were born and what was happening where you lived during your formative childhood years, help define what is important to you and help set your value system.
Think of it this way, if the games you played growing up allowed you to advance to the next level regardless of if it took one attempt or fifty, you might have a different perspective on what mastering a task looks like than someone who didn't.
If technology has almost always allowed you to be more efficient, you may seek to perform a job as quickly as possible, so that you are being productive, not because you are looking for a short cut.
If the answer to any question was always a Google search away, you might get frustrated when your questions go unanswered and are told to figure it out.
These examples begin to explain why Baby Boomers and Millennials value different things. However, there are always going to be outliers. I study generational-related values, because they frame how we show up and what we expect when we come to work.
In my recent study of 1,400 Baby Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z women, I examined strategies for communicating. I was particularly interested in interpersonal communications — the process by which people exchange information, feelings, and meaning through verbal and non-verbal messages. It turns about that the most essential characteristics by generation were active listening (paying attention to others), collaboration (teamwork), and empathy (showing understanding for others).
Baby Boomers believe they are best at "paying attention to others."
Given our hectic schedules at work, you may be tempted to multitask while speaking or try to get by gleaning the gist of a conversation in a conference call while working on a report at the same time. But this isn't deeply effective. Active listening is crucial because being highly engaged in a conversation helps everyone involved have clarity and alignment on exchange. It also helps build rapport and trust between participants.
Some practical ways to demonstrate active listening include:
- Asking specific questions or paraphrasing what you've heard
- Using non-verbal cues such as making eye contact and not looking at your device
- Maintain body language that shows you are interested and the speaker has your full attention
Gen X believes they are best at "working with others."
Lots of us have heard the expression, "There's no 'I' in a team." Teams that collaborate well have a better chance for sustained and repeatable success.
Effective ways to demonstrate collaboration are:
- Establishing clear goals and expectations for the team
- Being accountable for the team and yourself
- Providing and being open to feedback
Both Millennials and Gen Z believe they are most effective at "showing understanding for others."
The workplace is more diverse than ever before. Some organizations may have a Baby Boomer, a Gen Xer, Millennial, and a Gen Zer, all working alongside each other. By showing empathy, we can demonstrate that we appreciate and respect each other's perspectives and are open to understanding how they feel about a situation, idea, or concept.
Effective ways to demonstrate empathy are:
- Listening without judging or forming an opinion
- Being slow to criticize
- Acknowledging the other person's feelings as valid for them
So, instead of dismissing a generation with a hashtag, let try to open a dialogue. For example, next time you are working a Baby Boomers demonstrate that you are actively listening to what they are saying. Try sending a summary email about your deliverables on an assignment Gen Xers to highlight your collaborative skills. And take time to let Millennials and Gen Z know that you appreciate and understand their point of view.