A Positive Perspective on the Rat Race

man maze 123rf 12001021_sThe Rat Race usually conjures up images of a draining work routine, devoid of purpose and rife with pressures to deliver or be ditched.

No fun. And not good for our brain-body health either.

Here’s a different take on the Rat Race—one that could actually strengthen your brain health, as well as your work-life-leadership success.

UC Berkeley neuro-anatomy researcher Marian Diamond has studied the impact of the environment on brain development, and the likely link between positive thinking and immune health. Some of her research is described in Betty Friedan’s book Fountain of Age.

Diamond placed one group of rats in bare small cages by themselves; others were placed in larger cages holding 12 rats, with many objects and mazes to explore, climb in and out of, and manipulate. All were fed the same diet, but the “enriched environment” rats had the added element of tender loving care from the laboratory researchers. And, they had the objects in their cages changed every week.

Not surprising, the “enriched” rats showed a significant increase in the size of the brain in every dimension.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The maximum life span of a rat is 1,000 days, compared to 100 years in humans. Apparently Diamond’s rats in the bare cages rarely made it that long. But in another experiment, she took 766-day-old rats (equivalent to 75 human years) from the bare isolated environment and moved them into the enriched environment.

These geriatric rats became significantly smarter in learning how to make their way through a maze. Upon their death at around 900 days, their autopsied brains (despite the deterioration that had already taken place) showed increased thickening of the cortex compared to the isolated rats in the bare cages.

Too often, we perceive the ever-changing demands of our work environments as negatives—“it’s a Rat Race.” But what if the opposite is happening? Those demands and complexities can actually make your brain healthier (and cause you to live longer) when the perspective is that these are opportunities to:

> rise to the occasion and solve problems,
> connect and collaborate with others, and
> navigate through novelty using your strengths and creativity.

The next time you’re feeling stuck, embrace it as an opportunity for brain health and longevity!

NEXT BRAIN-BASED COACHING CLASS STARTS TUESDAY APRIL 26TH! www.TheAcademies.com/cbbsc/ or call 877.659.3769

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Be Like Einstein—Flunk Your Weaknesses

12891697_10207254038884206_6491111703156921347_oEinstein was brilliant, as we know. So brilliant that at the age of 16, two years earlier than his classmates, he sat for entrance exams to get into the prestigious Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich. But he flunked. Sort of. He excelled in the physics and mathematics segments, but he failed the non-science subjects.

Why is this relevant? We don’t need to… be well-rounded. We need to be brilliant. And brilliance comes when we do what we’re best at.

Friends, colleagues, and fellow executives:

* stop trying to be good at everything
* stop beating yourself up for not being good at everything
* stop comparing yourself to others (unless it totally inspires you)!

* start spending more time in your sweet-spot of strengths
* start using those strengths to determine how to off-load or lessen the importance of other tasks
* start acknowledging and enjoying your strengths … notice how they support you in making decisions … hand-pick one of your strengths to lead with as you take on an upcoming task.

There is a widely quoted saying about Einstein. He was once asked how many feet are in a mile. Einstein’s reply was:

“I don’t know, why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in any standard reference book?”

Now there’s someone who knew how to play to his strengths and not get distracted with the detritus of details.

Enjoy your brilliance today!

www.TheAcademies.com | 877-659-3769

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50,000 THOUGHTS A DAY?

decisions concerns 3d white man 123rf 11949811_sEver try to tame your thoughts? There are reports on the internet that we think some 50,000 thoughts a day, apparently according to the National Science Foundation, but I haven’t found the research to back that up.

It did get me thinking though (okay, there’s 1 thought…only 49,999 more to go today). Our minds are incredibly distracted. Right now I’m thinking almost simultaneously:

 

> I hear my dog snoring
> The wash needs put in the dryer
> I’ve been sitting too long
> I need to stop & eat some protein (is that 1 or 2 thoughts?)
> I should be writing curriculum
> Maybe I am writing curriculum and just don’t know it
> I’ve been sitting too long (x2)
> I wonder when my husband will get home

(only 49,991 or 49,990 to go)

When we’re too distracted, we lose sight of what’s most important. We don’t make meaningful choices. And life is about mindfully meaning-making. Ergo, too much distraction = a dead life (is that an oxymoron)?

If we want alive lives, we need to focus. And the focus must be on the right things.

If we could make a great deal of our “50,000 thoughts a day” ABUNDANCE, ABUNDANCE, ABUNDANCE, ABUNDANCE, ABUNDANCE, ABUNDANCE, ABUNDANCE, ABUNDANCE, we would see abundance, feel abundance, live abundance. Abundance of creativity, time, relationship, resources, solutions, provision. Now there’s a thought.

What focus would make you feel alive today!

 

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Ask: How is This Tied to My Decision Making?

brain bubble maybe_ 123rf 37575287_sStuff happens. And it’s easy to think that things are just random incidents. Maybe so. Maybe not.

I was reading an article recently on the 7 Daily Habits of Great Leaders. One of the “habits” was to “Be Vulnerable”—specifically, own your mistakes. One of the best questions the author suggests in this regard is . . .

“How is this tied to my decision-making?”

Interesting question.

If your team member doesn’t deliver in the way you expected her to, “how is this tied to my decision-making?”

Maybe you didn’t explain expectations clearly. Maybe you need to work on accountability. Maybe you need to train differently. Maybe you need to look at putting the person into a role that better suits his strengths. Maybe you need to let the person go if all of the above have already been tried. Maybe…

If your prospective customer says ‘no,’ “how is this tied to my decision-making?”

Maybe the decisions could be that the customer will say yes down the road, maybe it’s not the right customer for you, maybe your explanation of relevant benefits could be tweaked, maybe it’s an opportunity to trust that the right customer is around the corner. Maybe…

Of course, never beat yourself up over the “Maybe’s.” Be curious, be reflective, and be experimental in how you might do things differently.

Enjoy!

 

Photo Credit: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_fberti‘>fberti / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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A Free Technique for 7% More Brain Power

meditating-brain zenUp your alpha waves! A recent study from the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine found that introducing a low dose of electric current can enhance the alpha brain wave activity and boost creativity by 7.4%.

+7%

Forget the $40/bottle jelly fish supplements for a “sharper mind.” Just be mindful.

While the UNC researchers used artificial electrical stimulation to boost creativity, you don’t need to go to a laboratory to make it happen. Fortunately, there are other less-invasive methods. The researchers identified meditation and mindfulness as effective. Both are free and easy. Well, maybe not so easy.

We are easily distracted. This is actually a learned state. We have learned to allow our minds to hop, jump, skip, float, and flit from thought to thought to thought to thought. All. Day. Long.

Answer: Meditate.

If meditation is outside of your norm, start small. Spend 1 minute (now, or very soon) continually drawing your attention to the word “abundance.” Ignore that you probably can’t entirely focus on “abundance” for a full minute (just yet) … make any distracting thought a gentle cue to come back to the thought of “abundance.”

calming-mind-brain-wavesTry it. Just 1 minute. Then notice what you notice. Most likely, a greater awareness of abundance.

Research reveals that meditation adds to the cortical thickness in your brain, which enhances your ability to connect different pieces of information in new and creative ways. Voila. You just made yourself 7% smarter/more creative.

 

Photo credit: http://www.freemeditation.com/articles/2009/09/10/calming-the-mind/

 

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Life Change Lessons Learned from Daylight Savings Time

10930116_10207131958432271_8184802817037398513_nThe clocks changed one week ago today. Do you notice it still? Chances are you did for the first day or two, but by now, you’re probably in the swing of things. You barely notice that getting up at 7am (or 6am or 5am) is really getting up at 6am (or 5am or 4am) on your body clock, right?

Why is it the new norm? Three reasons:…

1. It’s a small change – It’s just 1 hour. Not 2 or 5 or 8.

2. It’s a social norm – Most of North America, Europe, and the Middle East observe it. If you don’t ‘get on board,’ you’re living in an alternate reality.

3. You’ve accepted it – You’re not fighting yourself every hour of the day or reminding yourself each morning, “it’s really 5am, even though my alarm clock says 6am.”

What if we did the same with other changes we’d like to see in our lives? Take being happier (we all want that, right?), for example.

1. Small change – Start small. For example, pause at 9am and 9pm each day to feel/experience 90 seconds of gratitude.

2. Social norm – Surround yourself with people who are happy, who study happiness, who research/write about happiness (check out Applied Neuroscience Institute on Facebook as a start).

3. Accept it. Lovingly – Stop judging yourself for not having mastered whatever change you’re after. Start accepting where you are as “enough” and “abundant,” right now.

What do you want your “new norm” to be?!

www.TheAcademies.com

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Your Brain on Questions: Curiosity or Quiz?

1545806_10207036248919593_7460408307154491847_n

Consider these two types of questions when it comes to talking with your colleagues, employees, managers, friends, and more. Each type of question has a very different impact on how our brains respond!

Invite Curiosity Questions:

  • Open ended. Starts with “What” and sometimes “How?”
  • Releases dopamine and other “happy” neurochemicals.
  • Helps keep the brain in a flow-flourish state (Blue Zone).
  • Invites the brain to find new answers that might not have been there before or were buried and had not come to the surface.
  • When “new dots are connected,” insights come and an upward spiral begins.

Avoid Quiz Questions:

  • Close ended. Start with “Why” “Can” “Will” “Do” “Have you?”
  • Releases stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin.
  • Helps put the brain in a fight-flight state (Red Zone).
  • There is a race in the brain to find the “right” answer, and if he/she doesn’t, there is a subtle or overt sense of failure or worry about being “less than” all the other people who supposedly have figured it out already.
  • The downward spiral deepens.
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3 Things Employees Never Want to Hear from their Internal Career Coach

Do you coach employees who want to get promoted…but aren’t?

Frustration, anger, confusion, worry can begin to plague the employee. When people are experiencing these emotions, there are a few things they do NOT want to hear!

Such as,

  • “Just be patient”
  • “You just need to network more”
  • “Think about it from the hiring manager’s perspective”

Although these three comments (e.g., pieces of advice) may, indeed, be important, they may not be helpful. So what’s a coach to do?

Exercise Compassion

  • Notice your response to the situation separately from the employee’s response to the situation. When we keep ourselves out of the fight-flight zone, we don’t exacerbate the situation.
  • Think/feel “compassion” versus “crisis.” Compassion allows us to be more present, engaged, and intuitive about how to be and what to say. (Note: The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research at Stanford University and other compassion researchers note that different neural networks light up in the brain when we focus on compassion vs crisis/problem-solving; we are more strategic and big-picture oriented with the former, and more problem/threat-oriented with the latter.)
  • If you are silently making negative judgments, such as, “this guy is really over-reacting,” bring yourself back to compassion by silently saying to yourself something like, “this is really important to him; he’s doing the best he can at this moment; he’s come in to talk about it, which is a good thing.”
  • A simple acknowledgement can be helpful, e.g.,: “I hear the weight of this. You were really counting on that position coming through.”

Never Resist the Resistance

Resist the urge to cover over, tamp down, or ignore the emotions!

  • “I hear the frustration, and I’m not going to tell you to ignore it. That emotion is a signal to pay attention to, so that you can do something constructive from it.”
  • “Frustration is often a sign that we feel like we don’t have control… [and later ask] which elements of this CAN you control?”

Ask Questions

  • “What do you NOT want to hear right now?”
  • “What do you need to be your best right now?”
  • “What’s the difference between responding to this and reacting to this for you?”
  • “How do you want to move forward?”

The next time you encounter frustration, anger, or other negative emotions from a coaching client, resist the temptation to cover over, tamp down, or ignore the emotions!

Certainly, don’t leave the client wallowing in negativity, but as part of the process, recognize that these emotions can be valuable “data points” that can be clues for how to move forward!

————-

Interested in more ideas like these for coaching employees? Our next Certified Career & Talent Development Coach program starts Thursday, Feb. 25th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Do You NOT Want this Year?

The start of a new year is an opportunity to clarify what you want. You probably gave some thought to goals, and there are some who probably went so far as to commit them to paper and share them with an accountability partner.

Whether you established goals or not for 2016, give some thought to what you DON’T want for the new year.

I’ve chosen a pretty big “let-go-of” list—one person laughed out loud when she heard it! … as if it was impossible! I don’t blame her. My list is a lofty one, and includes items that society has subtly and overtly taught us to do for decades. Here’s my “Big 3” let-go-of list: Continue reading

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Be Strengthened by a Mighty Heart

We say that people who do amazing feats (like ice-climbing) are brave and courageous. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. uses the phrase “a mighty heart.”

When you experience the sensation of an upspiral—that sense of optimism, possibility, hope, strength—you create a chemical cocktail within your brains and body that floods you with “positive” neurochemicals. You become more calm, creative, resilient, and strategic. You shift from “fight-flight” into “flow-flourish.”

You can easily change your internal chemistry by simply focusing on what you want. If you want to feel more hopeful, pause for 60 seconds to stretch slowly, take a deep belly breath, close your eyes, and—to the deepest degree you can—feel a specific positive emotion (e.g., hope, gratitude, love, peace, etc.).

Doing so will slow your heart rate, release a concoction of “happy” neurochemicals (such as dopamine or serotonin), increase blood flow to the “smart” parts of your brain, and cause you to both think and feel better (and even live longer).

May the days of your 2016 be met with a mighty heart!

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Atop my Christmas Wish List Is…

What’s on your wish list this season? Techno-tools? Trendy gadgets? Time with family?

I’m dreaming big these days, so high atop my wish list is . . .

WORLD PEACE!

And if I can’t have world peace, I’ll go for individual peace. Peace is:

  • The absence of worry, stress, and fear.
  • The absence of excess adrenalin that robs our immune system of resiliency.
  • The absence of a cluttered, unfocused, fragmented mind.

Why is peace my ultimate gift? Because . . . Continue reading

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People Bring Both Their Brain and Body to Work-Pay Attention to Both

brain measuringThe business world worships brains! It revels in the brain’s ability to quantify, analyze, sequence, strategize, execute. A big brain is brawn in the business world.

But people don’t just bring their brains to work—they bring their bodies, too … which brings us to an important piece of anatomy that every coach should be aware of.

Continue reading

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Job Search Strategy-Balancing Mindset & Mechanics

Got coaching skills? And now looking for more mechanics?!

At The Academies, I’ve stressed the importance of balancing the M&Ms—the Mindset & Mechanics—in order to accomplish goals:

     Mechanics = developing and executing great strategies.

     Mindset = thinking and feeling optimistic, buoyant, resilient.

Here’s a quick M&M tip/technique to share with job seekers that balance both Mindset and Mechanics.

TIP: Our brains don’t enjoy realizing we’ve been wrong or uncourageous, so if you tell a job seeker that they need to double or triple their networking time, they may nod their heads obediently but their brain may be saying “I can never do that” or “I don’t even want to do that!”

An M&M Technique

If your client is hesitant, that’s when the “incremental increase” technique can come in handy. Ask your job seeker client to draw a pie and divide the pie into wedges that represent where he is spending most of his time in the job search. It may look something like this first graphic, with the greatest amount of time spent on searching online postings and tweaking the resume.

Tweaking Time Spent in Job Search - Before

Next, ask the client to shift those pie slices to show just a 5-10% increase in the areas that would give him the most leverage. For example, reducing the time on online postings by 5-10% and increasing the time talking to real human beings by 5-10%!

Tweaking Time Spent in Job Search - After

Small increments create big results. We can easily solve for 5-10%. If your client increases 5-10% each week, in a month, there will be 20-40% improvement!

More tips on how to improve your client’s job search strategy here!

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Overworked & Underwater? An Unlikely Fix & Free Solution

I’m a movie fan and recently saw “90 Minutes in Heaven.” It’s about a man in a horrific car accident who was hit head-on by a tractor-trailer rig. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident occurs on a narrow bridge, which blocks up traffic for hours. One of the people in that line-up of stalled cars is an ex-Vietnam medic and pastor. He asks the EMTs if he can pray for the dead man… and does so. Miraculously, the victim (Don Piper) comes back to life, after 90 minutes of being dead.

The remainder of the story chronicles Piper’s excruciating recovery. In the hospital, he is given a push button that allows him to self-dose himself with pain killers, presumably morphine.

hospital button pain relief morphine dopamine drip 123rf 27365148_sSo here’s the connection for our own lives as executives and leaders. We were designed with our own “morphine button.” For alliterative purposes, I call it the “dopamine drip.” Our body’s natural neurochemicals—such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins—can flood our systems and enable us to feel better.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how to push that button! Instead, our attention is drawn to

  • our lengthy to-do lists,
  • the misunderstanding with a team member that just happened,
  • the worry about whether we’ll meet next quarter’s budget numbers, and more.

If we were to pause throughout the day—even in the midst of the crisis du jour—and hit our own personal “dopamine drip,” we’d find that:

  • the to-do list is shorter than we thought (or doesn’t all need tackled today),
  • the misunderstanding can be resolved (and might even be a blessing in disguise), and
  • the budget numbers can be tackled (often with more energy and creativity).

Hit the dopamine drip yourself, and see what you notice.

One quick way to dose yourself with dopamine is to take 60-120 seconds and read a short article or watch a video on a topic that fascinates you.

How do you hit the “dopamine drip”?

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Coaching Insights What the Pope’s Visit Taught Me about Change

pope-francis-coming-to-america-2015If you watched the news lately, you know that the Pope visited America last week. I have a different faith tradition, yet truly appreciated seeing him conduct mass at Madison Square Garden, talk to Congress, feed the poor.

But something less-publicized is what really impressed me. Apparently the Vatican recently decided to honor Martin Luther. You remember that little spat back in the 1500’s that led to Luther being excommunicated? Five hundred years later, Luther’s name will be given to a prominent hilltop square in Rome. Talk about unity. I imagine God is smiling about that!

The Coaching Application

This made me wonder… what are the things that we believe today that we might not believe tomorrow? What are today’s stories, myths, frames that we have created, hold dearly, and cling to tightly when, come tomorrow, we will think differently about?

What does it take to be open? Here are my personal musings on the subject:

  • A sense of gratitude – a sense that we are wired from birth to be curious and continually learn, evolve, and shape our reasoning
  • A sense of peace – a sense that we will be okay if we explore and adopt new beliefs, even if others around us see things differently
  • A sense of love – a sense that we are being cared for by God, with a daily invitation to see more clearly the love that is surrounding and leading us

What are the new beliefs taking shape in your brain? Happy pondering!

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Anatomy of an Insight From Rattled to Receiving

Ever struggle with needing an answer to a perplexing situation?

As coaches, we love those moments when we (or our clients) have those “ah ha” moments. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to have “ah ha” moments in the presence of stress.

In brain-friendly coaching, there is a sequence that our brains go through when we move from “needing an insight” to “getting the ah-ha” to “being able to act on it”:

Anatomy of an Insight

Here’s how each of the rows plays out:

  • Really Want: The need for insight often starts with the lack of it, meaning we need something—a question solved, an idea sparked, a material need fulfilled. This is the “really want” in the first row of the diagram—there is an unrealized goal, a predicament, a challenge.
  • Rattled: With the lack of an answer, we often find ourselves racking our brains, stressed, and slipping into scarcity mentality. This, of course, shoots cortisol through the system, causing us to think even less clearly and creatively.
  • Relax: To invite insight, it’s important to relax. To breathe. To shift into flow-flourish instead of fight-flight. Studies have shown that people solved problems better when they were in a higher positive mood. From here, we can use a metacognition technique, a process that puts us into an Alpha Wave state, where we block out external stimuli and reach inside for answers.
  • Receive: Often, the insight will come as a result of being in the Relax phase. With the insight, new neuro-connections are made. Relief and hope ensue, with their accompanying rush of positive neurochemicals, and we feel energized.
  • Respond: To solidify the new neural pathway, we must respond to the insight. We can write it down, talk about it, draw a picture of it, sense it with our various senses, visualize it, and describe it in greater detail. And voila, new options are created.

What’s your favorite way to calm your brain and get into that relaxed state? How do you help your clients do so?

Here’s to the ah-ha’s your brain is waiting to reveal!

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Career Coaching Motives and Motivations for Management

Job_promotion-red-blue-menIf your work includes career coaching inside organizations, you’ve likely had coaching conversations with individual contributors who are looking at getting promoted to management.

Oftentimes, employees equate longevity or seniority with moving into management, but that is not necessarily the case.

Consider some of these coaching topics when having the “I-want-to-get-promoted-to-management conversation!”

Motivation:

What is the employee’s motivation for being in management?

  • Is it primarily the financial rewards?
  • Desire to develop others?
  • Greater influence?

When coaching, we need to get to the root of why this new position is meaningful.

Strengths:

  • Which of the employee’s strengths prepare and equip them for a management role?
  • How have they already been using these strengths to manage, if even informally or organically?

Expectations:

  • What are the employee’s expectations of the manager’s role?
  • How will that differ from their existing role?
  • Will there be longer hours?
  • Greater responsibility?
  • Greater risk?
  • More politics?

What do all of those changes mean to the employee?

Challenges/Concerns:

  • What are the gaps between where the employee is and where the employee wants to be?
  • How do the influencers within the organization perceive the employee?
  • Is he/she too inexperienced? Too soft? Too brash? Too naïve?
  • What are the organization’s unspoken concerns that may be difficult to unearth?

Game Plan:

If management does makes sense for the employee, what does the game plan going forward look like?

  • Who are the advocates that need to be engaged?
  • What is the timeline?
  • How does the personal brand need to change or shift?
  • What are the skill sets that need emphasized?
  • What are the wins that need to be had and communicated?

Moving into management can be a fantastic developmental opportunity for employees. Bottom line: When you find the meaning in the midst of it, you’ll find the “lever and fulcrum” to change the employee’s world!

“Give me a lever long enough
and a fulcrum on which to place it,
and I shall move the world.” ~Archimedes

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MBA Career Coaching – The Fall Calendar Crunch

It’s crunch time. I hear from MBA coaching colleagues that their Fall calendars are filled with back-to-back student appointments, employers on-campus for info sessions, student prep for the national MBA conferences, and more.

My first summer job during high school was as a secretary for a cantaloupe processing facility. When the temps heated up to 100+ degrees, the melons had to be picked, processed, and refrigerated immediately or they’d rot in the fields. We put in 14+ hour days to keep up with the workload.

When the days are long, with no end in sight, how do you not just survive, but thrive? Here are a few coaching thoughts from our MBA coach certification program:

Lighten your share of the load:

How balanced are your conversations with students? If it feels like you’re “pulling teeth” to get students to contribute to the conversation, reset expectations. If it feels like you’re the “vending machine” dispensing direction, suggestions, and to-do lists, pull back a bit and ask a few more questions.

For example,

  • “I’ve been doing all the talking, and yet this is about you and what you want. What thoughts are coming up?”
  • “How are you uniquely equipped to make this happen?”

Listen for Energy:

Like a Geiger counter, listen for energy—whether a lack of energy or lots of energy.

  • Noticing areas where the student is blasé or nonplussed tells you there isn’t much motivation there.
  • Hearing where the student has passion for an industry or enthusiasm about a past success tells us there is potential motivation there.

Here’s a fascinating quick video on why energy and emotion is important for decision making.

Leverage your own Strengths:

We emphasize that students use their strengths in their career choice and job-search strategies. We can also be intentional about our strengths during this stretch season. For example, consider a “strength du jour” strategy for each day the week, such as

  • “Individualization” today—”my individualization skills allow me to see what makes each student tick”; or,
  • “Maximizer” tomorrow—”my ability to find shortcuts will help students with their job-search strategy.”

Deloitte noted that among worldwide top-performing teams, the ability to use one’s strengths each day was the #1 success factor (data shared in keynote presentation at the MBA Career Services and Employer Advisory Council conference in Dallas, June 2015).

Wishing you time to “eat your Wheaties,” as well as enjoy the journey, as you run the Fall marathon!

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Career Coaching – A Subtle but Subversive Yes-But To Be Aware Of

When coaching clients through career change, we can encounter a lot of different yes-but’s from clients, such as, “I don’t have enough time, confidence, money, support, etc. to make a career change.”

Here’s another “yes but” that may be more subtle: identity.

The topic of identity can range from feeling insecure to not wanting to upset the status quo to struggling with pride. One of these statements may capture how your clients are feeling:

  • I just don’t have the confidence to move ahead. I can’t imagine myself doing something new–I’ve been a _____ [fill in the blank] my whole life.
  • I’m just not sure I can be really good at this!
  • I have feelings of unworthiness–I just don’t deserve to pursue this new direction. People will likely think I’m being presumptuous and wonder, “Who is she to think she can do that!”
  • I am being pressured by parents, family, or colleagues to pursue a career course that just doesn’t fit with who I am.
  • I am being pressured by parents, family, or colleagues to NOT change . . . it’s as if I’ll upset their status quo if I change!
  • I’ll inconvenience my _____________ (spouse, children, family, friends, colleagues) if I pursue that course of action.

Ideas that you might explore in career coaching:

Perpetual Progress: As members of the human race, we are meant to grow throughout our lives, not just during school and college years! (Fun neuro-nugget: Our brain size stops growing once into our twenties, but the development of new neural connections can happen into our eighties, nineties, one-hundreds.)

  • Ask: So you’re in your 40’s now. What did you not think was possible in your 30’s that has become possible today? How about in your 20’s? Teens? What opens up for you from that trajectory viewpoint?

Themes, Not Titles: When our identity is rooted in the significance of being a purposeful human being and not based solely on what we do for a living (the lie of “I’m valuable because I’m an attorney/manager/engineer”), we can make greater progress.

  • Ask: “Absent the typical titles, who are you at your core, essence, being? How does that ‘you’ show up in some of the career directions you’re considering? How does that bring value to the people who would benefit from that part of you?”

Enjoy!

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A Neuro Nugget to Increase Open-Mindedness

open minded brain zipper yes 123rf 16948941_s

As coaches, how do we support clients to be more open-minded?

In a word: curiosity.

First, a neuro-nugget on curiosity. The right hemisphere of our brain is responsible for taking in new information, connecting it to other things we know, and more. The left hemisphere organizes the information, distributes it into memory, and routinizes it (aka habit).

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Career Coaching: What’s Beneath the Change?

Two businessmen on walls outdoors with gap and rope

Clients come to us with a variety of career goals—a promotional opportunity to win, a major career change to navigate, and so on.

Underneath any of those goals is a common theme:

Transition

Some transitions are welcome; others arrive uninvited.

Some are obvious:

  • Graduation from college and time for a first “real” job,
  • A divorce that requires returning to the job market,
  • The need to get away from “the boss from hell”

Others are more subtle: Continue reading

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Models and Frameworks

timber_frame_two_story_additionI’ll admit it. I’m addicted to ideation. Chewing on ideas, building frameworks, creating models, crafting mnemonics, finding ways to connect-the-dots… It’s one of my God-given strengths. And it comes in handy, since I’m often writing curriculum, books, and blog posts.

Model-making can also become one of my weaknesses when I inadvertently (or not so inadvertently) fall in love with my model and hyper-focus on it, to the detriment of my clients.

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Indecision on an Important Decision? Some Wisdom from Ikea

I helped my daughter get settled in her first apartment recently. As an out-of-state student who lived in the dorms the prior two years, she didn’t have a stick of furniture to start with. Translation: time to visit Ikea!

girls-mom-couchWe met up with her new roommates and the roommates’ parents to tackle the enormous showroom floors at Ikea. Here’s a picture of all three roommates (and all three moms) testing out a couch that we settled on.

After navigating the IKEA warehouse area and checkout, we crammed all the heavy boxes into the car in the midst of Texas humidity, timidly drove the tollway in an unfamiliar rental car with now-limited rear-view mirror visibility, and eventually dragged our 80-pound boxes up several flights of stairs. Ugh!

Then the fun began: figuring out how to put it all together. I have to admit, my daughter was a champ—much better than I was. She and her roommates and one of the dads did the lion’s share. At one point during desk assembly, everyone was stumped on how it was supposed to go together.

 

That’s when my daughter said something that was simple but profound:

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Cortisol Creep–The Subtle Signs of Fight-Flight

brain temperature cortisol creep 123rf 20043998_sUgh.      #sigh      “Seriously?!”

We’ve all had these thoughts float through our heads at one time or another. We might not pay much attention to them or consider how they affect us. And yet, science tells us that they do affect us.

Mark Waldman (author of one of Oprah’s “Must Read” books, How God Changes Your Brain) explains in a TEDx talk that if you were to be put you into an fMRI machine and shown the word “NO” for less than one second, it would “release more stress neurochemicals than can possibly be good for your body or your brain.”

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Every Thought is an Affirmation

Affirmations not working?!?! Consider this: Every silent thought or spoken word is an affirmation! Yes, every time we think a thought or open our mouths to speak, we signal our mind and body with positives or negatives.

If our thoughts are negative, we have affirmed to ourselves that those thoughts and feelings are true. For example, have you ever heard these negative thoughts from an out-of-work job seeker? Continue reading

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Pretending at Positivity? 3 Brain-Based Coaching Exercises to Test

blog 1A colleague recently brought up an interesting question. She wrote: “I am finding [my new brain-based client] to be very optimistic…perhaps unrealistically positive. What’s a coach to do when she senses the client may not be telling herself the truth?”

Here are three suggestions for coaching exercises:

What’s New?

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Coaching Leaders Out of Fight-Flight and into Flourish-Flow

shutterstock_271898492Do you coach leaders and executives?

If so, you probably already know that they face a great deal of stress. Part of our job as coaches is to help calm the leader’s frazzled and fragmented brain so they can refocus on a vision and tap into strengths-based strategies to move forward.
Continue reading

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Brain Coach: Mind Your Freedoms

brain handcuffsIt’s the 4th of July weekend as I write. I’ve often imagined that the veterans who fought overseas for our FREEDOMS might look at people like me who got to stay home, safe and sound, and think, “you have no idea.” And they’d be right.

As I journey deeper into understanding brain-based coaching, I also often find myself saying, “I had no idea!” I am only beginning to unlock the FREEDOM OF MIND that is available in an ever-increasing upward spiral! For example: Continue reading

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The Coach’s Secret Weapon—Powerful, Priceless, Free.

shutterstock_177988121How do you feel today? If you’re “up,” you have a good chance of being creative, on-task, and resilient. If you’re “down,” you are more likely to be unfocused, enervated, and unsettled by doubts, worries, and frustrations. Continue reading

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Brain Coach: Does Optimism Mean You Have to Be Happy All the Time?

3Does optimism mean you have to be happy all the time? As humans we experience a wide range of emotions. On the negative (“minus”) end of the spectrum, those emotions can include worry, fear, anxiety, hate, worry, frustration, bitterness, jealousy. On the positive (“plus”) end of the spectrum, we have love, joy, peace, gratitude, hope, and happiness. Continue reading

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Brain Coach: Optimism Squared–Span & Subtleties

logo-cbbs-coach-150x150For many years, I wasn’t aware of how “routinized” my ability to worry, catastrophize, and feel guilty had become! It was a habit that I hadn’t realized was part of my daily life. And with every worrisome thought, I caused a chemical release in my system that took me even further into a subtle but impactful state of unsettledness, second-guessing, and insecurity. Continue reading

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Brain Coach: Optimism Squared–Speed & Sustainability

brain coach 4I’ve been on a journey of becoming more Optimistic over the past few years. I’ll admit that, for many years, I lived with a tendency toward feeling “guilty” and even a bit “fearful” about getting everything done or having the business I needed to make ends meet—I was often the first to: Continue reading

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Relegated to 2nd Class Success when You’re Carrying a 1st Class Ticket?

plane-and-ticket2I’m writing this from 30,000 feet, aboard an American Airlines flight as I head to Dallas to see my daughter. I fly First Class whenever I can (the benefits outweigh the cost) but when I went to book the ticket a few months ago, I saw a $169 deal on a seat in the main cabin that was just too good to pass up. Continue reading

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