3 Ways to Make Lasting Change

May 10, 2010

If you want to make a lasting change in any area of your life, apply these three steps.

1. Become more conscious
2. Create a conscious habit
3. Course Correct

Become more conscious
Consciousness is another word for awareness.  Where ever you struggle in life, whether it be in your leadership, your finances, or your relationships, you must increase your awareness if you want to eliminate the problem.  Awareness is just the first step. Knowledge alone does nothing but alert you to the problem. The next step is action.

Create a conscious habit
In orde to faciliate change you need action, in the form of a new habit. When you first create a new habit you have to think hard about changing the habit. That is because your subconscious programming is in place until you reprogram.  Reprogramming requires you to create a new habit, one which eventually will become part of your unconscious programming.  For example, when I first started using cloth bags to do my grocery shopping, about 80 percent of the time, I forgot to grab the cloth bags until I was half way through the store with groceries in the cart.  I kept making promises to myself that eventually the new habit would sink in, after all, I was aware of what I wanted to change. My change did not become pemanent until I decided to course correct every time my old programming took over.

Course correct
When you start a new habit, you may find yourself even three or four months later slipping back into old programming. This is your perfect opportunity to course correct.  Even after a full year of using cloth bags at the grocery store, occasionlly I would go to a different store, or change up my routine and sure enough, I would forget and leave the cloth bags in the car.

What changed this old programming once and for all, was to immediately course correct. That’s right. Even in the middle of shopping, once I realized I had left the bags in the car, I trudged out to the car to retrieve the bags.

Why? Because I know if I keep making excuses, eventually I will get out of the new habit that is not yet completely programmed. If I experience  a little discomfort by making myself course correct the moment I recognize the problem, then I am more likely to create a solid habit that eventually becomes second nature.


How to Change Your Life by Changing Your Brain

May 8, 2010

If you knew negativity could kill you would you still complain and focus on what is wrong? What if you knew you could change your brain by focusing on one big positive idea and in doing so all of your relationships would change for the better?

In this fascinating video produced by the TED series, Mark Robert Waldman , therapist, research scholar, and Associate Fellow at the Center for Spirituality and the Mind, University of Pennsylvania, talks about how God or any big IDEA changes your brain.

Here are some highlights in print.

  • Fear of losing money will change your brain
  • When you complain you are killing yourself
  • How negative thinking changes the brain
  • Why focusing on the word “no” releases neuro -stress chemicals
  • The most important question you can ask
  • One great brain exercise
  • Why meditation changes your brain and your life
  • How to be a change in the world
  • The key to getting along with others

My questions to you are
1. How can you use this information to change your family life?
2. How can you implement some of these findings in your workplace?

What would the workplace be like if each person was  aligned with the higher values of the services provided? I see a day where workplaces will provide a place for meditation before the day starts to focus on the mission and vision of the company. Can you see the impact, for example of a medical office focusing on healing and compassion before starting the work day?  What if a financial institution or insurance agency focused on peace of mind before advising their clients ?

Share this video with your workplace. You will want to watch it again and again.

Meetings and Feedback Improve Accountability

May 4, 2010

Question: I have a manager, who is very nice, but just does not follow through with the important stuff? I have been reading motivational books, but it has not helped. What should I do?

Answer: There are two things I recommend for this one.

1. Regular meetings with accountability built into the agenda

2. Feedback using the 1-10 scale system

You will hear me say this over and over. I recommend regular staff meetings with a solid agenda. They can be as short as 15 to 30 minutes. Very few companies do this because they have bought in to the idea that meetings waste time. The only reason meetings waste time is because of poor planning and facilitation skills and a lack of vision.

Have an agenda so it stays on track. One of the things in your agenda is an accountability section to where they MUST report back to the whole group as to their progress. (She will not like coming up short every time in front of others.)

AUTHENTIC CONVERSATION using the scale system
Aside from that you simply must schedule an authentic conversation with her so that she knows how you see her. Start operating with your peeps, with the “scale” method. Before any project, let your people know that besides the formal yearly review (if you do them) you will give continuous feedback that will sound like this, “Jane, on a scale of 1-10, this was an 8. The 2 suggestions or areas for improvement are…” 

In other words, your score must always equal 10. If their performance is a 7, you need to give a good example of the three things they can do to bring it up.

Then when they get it to 10, be sure to acknowledge. This helps set people up for success and gives them a good idea of what the expectations are.

Stop Relationship Drama: Get Clear

April 29, 2010

So much of the time, we use our energy trying to convince someone else, or get someone else’s agreement,  instead of getting clear on who we are and what we want.

For example, when someone crosses a boundary and you keep trying to convince them that you have a right to be angry, you are spending more energy convincing them, than you are about clarifying a boundary.

When you say “no” and it upsets someone else, do you keep trying to get them to understand and agree with your decision, or are you clear that you have a good reason and a right to say “no” with no complaints, no excuses and no regrets?

Do you spend hours in self-refection just tying to be more understanding, trying to figure someone out, and trying to be more worthy? Or are you clear that you have worth, and you expect authenticity and respect in your relationships?

Do you have temper tantrums, and use drama to tell someone off, hoping this time they will learn from their mistake and treat you better? Or are you so clear that you know how to draw a line in the sand?

All you really need is clarity.

Quit going to the island called “Getting their approval.”

You may be angry for good reason.
You do have the right to say “no.”
You may not be the one who needs to change or reflect.

If you are being manipulated, or sucked into games, it’s time to leave that drama behind. You can clean it up by getting clear about who you are and what you stand for. 

Of course the problem is, your clarity will not make everyone else happy.
You have two choices. Keep betraying yourself so you can get approval, or let go of the need to make everyone else understand.

If you can deal with that, you can stop your drama.

Is it Really a Choice?

April 28, 2010

Ever wonder why you (or someone you know) keeps falling into the same destructive patterns?  Then you hear a well-meaning motivational speaker say, “It’s a choice.” But is it really? Old programming runs most of your life, and until you have an awakening you may not even recognize the choices in front of  you.

Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you may have the power, but since you don’t know how the power works, you keep seeking answers outside of yourself.

How to Close the Integrity Gap

April 28, 2010

One definition of integrity is the state of being complete or undivided. To live in complete integrity is more of a process than an absolute because sometimes our competing desires come into conflict.  For example, you want to lose weight but you like to eat out. You want to make more money but you also want to have more free time.  Or you say that you value high productivity but you also value relationships.  Eventually these desires will compete and that the competition will either divide your loyalties or strengthen your commitments. When you are divided because of competing commitments, I call this “The Integrity Gap.”

 Aligning all of your intentions is the process of striving toward integrity.  So how do you know if you have gaps of integrity?  You look for the signs that challenge your integrity and character. 

My friend shared a story that I think will drive this point home, and it is something I hope you can use in your business and at your family dinner table.

While watching her 15-year old son play tennis, my friend watched another parent, a father of young tennis player get up and leave in the middle of the same match because his son was playing poorly. My friend listened to the man’s wife justifying her husbands behavior:  “He just demands perfection, and can’t stand to see his son losing or playing poorly.”

What makes the story a little more interesting is that this parent is a celebrity entertainer, and I’m 99 percent certain that if you asked this entertainer if he has integrity he would answer “yes” without a second thought.  Obviously a celebrity entertainer understands the work ethic and what it takes to get ahead. Too bad the celebrity entertainer does not understand the difference between perfection and excellence. Perfection can often be attained without integrity but excellence can only be attained through integrity. 

Perfection is about winning at all costs. Excellence is about winning with integrity.  In reality, there are two games going on here: the game of winning a tennis match, and the game of being a good parent. When two compelling desires compete for the championship, integrity often suffers. 

 Surely this father loves his son, but his ability to show support fades in the face of another competing desire: to see his son win a tennis match.  The father’s behavior shows that is greatest desire is to see his son win a tennis match, and this desire outweighs the desire to show fatherly support, or to teach a lesson about good sportsmanship. The lack of integrity (being divided) surfaces when the test of courage presents itself as an opportunity to sit though a tennis match at which his son is losing.

In his quest for perfection the tennis player’s father communicates an imperfect message to his 15 year old son:  Winning is more important than my relationship with you and my support is conditional on you performing perfectly at the tennis match. Teaching the lesson of integrity means living a life congruent with valuing integrity.

 Another father at a soccer game encouraged his kid to bad mouth the referee.  Again, the message is I value winning but I do not value due process, respect for authority or even learning how to accept and benefit from an occasional loss.  Again, I’ll bet if I asked this father if he has integrity he would say, “Yes.” What this father doesn’t realize is that he is teaching his son to disrespect authority, to think he is above the rules and to rule by intimidation.

In his book Seat of the Soul, author Gary Zukav calls the conflict of mixed desires a state of being “splintered.”

 In the business world splintered messages are responsible for the distrust, the lack of loyalty and the perceived lack of fairness.  For example, when productivity is sought and achieved without regarding the relationship outcomes, a company creates a competition of relationship versus productivity. If there is integrity within the company relationship and productivity are two symbiotic entities. When one suffers then there is a lack of integrity between the two desired outcomes. 

 An example of competing desires is the workplace bully who just happens to be the highest producer.  In my consulting work I have seen time and time again the workplace bully who just happens to be the highest producer.  Management often fails to notice because they desire the productivity levels and mistakenly believe without their star performer the company would suffer; therefore they do not address the bullying issues and thus sacrifice relationship outcomes for immediate productivity outcomes.  What the management often doesn’t recognize is that because of the “splintered” message they are giving the other co-workers by ignoring or denying the issues results in delayed relationship outcomes that eventually affect the bottom line: absenteeism, turnover, low morale and workplace drama.

In the end, clarity can change any situation. If you wan to close the integrity gap, get crystal clear about the “island” you want to row to and know what is required to get there. Then you won’t take the left hand turn to the island of competing desires, no matter how compelling.

Is Your “No” a Boundary or Resistance?

April 22, 2010

When you say “no” what do you really mean? Is your “no” a boundary or is your “no” a form of resistance?  How do you know?

 When you are in resistance,  you are in a state of non-acceptance to what is..to something that has already happened, or to something you cannot immediately change or control.  Your “no” in this instance only makes the situation worse. Until you come into acceptance, you can’t  facilitate positive change.

However, saying “no” to something over which you have choice is alltogether different.

A good clean “no” has a different “energetic” feel to it. In other words the intention behind the “no” is the distinction.  Often times “No” does not equal “no” but instead

No = Please talk me into it.
No= I will show you!
No= Pay back.
No = I will manipulate you.
No = I need to be right.

All of the above listed forms of “no” is really just resistance to what is, and an attempt to manipulate someone else in order to change the situation.

So many times, “no” is said out of anger, only to leave a residue of regret. It  helps to remember that anger is not truth… but it can be the fuel that gets you there.

If you are angry, pay attention and ask yourself if a boundary has been crossed or if you are just frustrated because someone does not agree with or support your right to say, “no.”

You have the right to say no, when you don’t agree, when you don’t want to participate in something, or when a boundary has been crossed.  It is not your job to make sure everyone  understands, or is happy with your “no.”

In the end, if you want your “no” to really mean something and to be clear, you have to give up the need for everyone to understand or agree. Otherwise your “no” will lack integrity and clarity and your “yes” will also be watered down.

So how do you know if your “no” really means “no” or if  it is just resistance?  If your “no” is a good clean “no” there will be no drama attached. You will have peace even when you are not completely happy with how others respond, your “no” will honor the highest and best for you.