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The Luck of the Irish…or is it?

social capital

St. Patrick’s Day got me thinking about the Irish and what makes them so lovable. Is it their fun and easy-going nature? Their lively music and inviting hospitality? Maybe it’s the way they make others feel like family? While there are many facets to the Irish culture, it’s safe to say that these characteristics don’t hurt their friendly reputation.

If you think about it, the Irish are experts at building social capital. They know how to build trust and rapport with others. As a cultural norm, the Irish make people feel special and cared for, which lays the foundation for creating strong and impactful relationships.

Think this ability is just the luck of the Irish? It’s not! You don’t need a four-leaf clover to have the same impact on your professional and personal relationships. The Irish’s reputation is not luck at all, it’s culture, and you can build this culture within yourself. Here’s how:

  1. Always Make People Feel Welcome.
    Something that comes second nature to the Irish is making others feel like family. Locals take the time to ask others how they’re doing, they help each other out without expecting anything in return and they take outsiders under their wing and make them feel like Ireland is their home, too. All of these acts are also great ways to build social capital. Start by being approachable and engaging, be honest and show up when others really need you, and be loyal – have their back even when they’re not around. Doing so demonstrates that you care and are willing to go the extra mile for others. This builds trust that is like money in the bank. Soon enough, you’ll see that behavior reciprocated, creating a strong foundation for long-term social capital.

  2. Stay in touch with others.
    The Irish community is a pretty tight-knit group of people. Because of its small-town likeness, everyone makes an effort to keep in touch and checks in on how others in the community are doing. This helps create strong relationships within the community.

    You don’t have to be local to borrow this trait. There’s nothing like getting an unexpected call from an old friend who wants to check in and see how you’re doing. It makes you feel important and cared for, which is exactly why it’s a great way to build social capital.

    Wondering where to start? Reach out to former colleagues, clients, mentors and other professionals in your industry and let them know you appreciate them and are thinking about them. This will make a positive impression and lead to more opportunities for you. Whether it’s extending a congratulations for a job promotion, forwarding a newspaper clipping or simply checking in to say hello, these small gestures have an exponential positive impact.

  3. Be persistent.
    The country of Ireland is a story of persistence. With wars, famine and poverty coloring its history, the people of Ireland have built up a strong willpower. Whatever comes their way, they keep pushing forward with an outward optimism that is both charming and admirable. There are two great ways to learn from this bit of Irish culture – first, when your chips are down; keep your chin UP! Others are inspired by an optimistic and resilient person and they will remember your confidence and good character.

    Second, investing in social capital takes a little perseverance; it doesn’t happen overnight. There’s an investment in getting to know people and building authentic trust. With some people it’s organic, with others it takes more time. Don’t give up; as time goes by, you’ll see evidence of success in your ability to build positive and powerful relationships.

  4. Have Fun!
    Even though St. Patrick’s Day technically celebrates the death of a saint who reportedly removed all the snakes from Ireland during the fifth century, these days, people of other cultures all around the globe pause for a moment, put their “Irish on”  and celebrate what is festive, fun and heartwarming in life. The Irish are known for having a great sense of humor, being open to new adventures, storytelling and bringing life to any party, wherever they are and whoever they are with.

    This is a critical aspect to building social capital. You want to be the person everyone loves to spend time with. In order to do that, take a queue from the Irish and show off your fun-loving side. Display your true personality, take others on adventures and always be the life of the party wherever you go.  

Forget about a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Building Social Capital is better than gold, its money in the bank of life that will get you much further in your career. So, the next time you want to create a good impression, have some fun and make a friend for life — channel your inner Irishman and enjoy yourself.
For more tips on how to create the career of your dreams, click here to watch my master class on The Keys to Executive Success.

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Creating Confidence in Every Conversation

confidence

Think of a recent social or business gathering you attended. Who were the people that you were drawn to? I bet that they were the ones who exuded confidence. You probably remember them well because these people radiate a warmth and enthusiasm that magnetized others toward them. People with an authentic, confident approach are comfortable in many environments and see networking situations as expansion opportunities, while less confident people often hide in the background or stick closely to people they know.

If you are lacking authentic confidence and its showing up in your business interactions; you are not alone. We all yearn to have confidence; to feel empowered by simply being ourselves. Yet the truth is everyone can use a confidence boost every once and a while. Confidence is not something you achieve and then hold perfectly in place forever. Here are a few tips to help you cultivate and project confidence and master any conversation you’re in.

Cultivating Authentic Confidence

1. Nothing to Prove.
The moment you stop trying to prove yourself to others is the moment real confidence can begin to grow.  As people, we are all on equal footing and as you embrace the concept of nothing to prove, you will feel a release of pressure – the pressure that comes from trying to meet the expectations of others. As you embrace and build your own blend of talents, and pursue the things you love to do, others will marvel and want to know your secret.  

2. Do What You Love.
If you’re looking to build confidence, there is nothing better than doing the things that make you feel confident. Understanding and playing to your strengths is the best way to do so. Your body and your brain both LOVE IT when you indulge in the things you were designed to do. In return, they will reward you with magnetic energy and a level of competence that people can’t help but admire.

3. Have a Routine of Positive Self-Talk.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, positive affirmations can really change your presence. Give yourself positive messages that remind you of your strengths, talents and successes. Here are some simple positive self-talk tips to try.

Project Authentic Confidence

Cultivating real confidence is the goal, and yet it can be just as important to fake-it-while-you-make-it.  Here are a few easy-to-implement tips that will get you showing up with charm and poise.

1. Smile.
One trait of confident people is that they aren’t afraid to smile – with their mouth and their eyes. This act creates positive energy within you, so even when you feel nervous, it doesn’t show on your face. This, in turn, exudes confidence as you talk to others.

2. Show Interest.
People with confidence care about others. Take the focus off yourself and put it on others by asking thoughtful questions and listening with interest.

3. Be Still.
It’s common to fidget with your hands, especially when you’re nervous. However, that is a clear sign to others that you aren’t confident in what you’re saying and/or doing. To refrain from doing this, consider keeping your focus on your breathing, instead. This helps relax your overall nerves and limits any fidgeting.

New situations can make anyone feel a bit anxious and uncertain. By applying these simple tips, you will be on your way to feeling less nervous, more empowered, and more confident.

Over the years I’ve worked with thousands of leaders and have helped many to discover their unique talents and use them in their everyday work to elevate performance, improve relationships and eliminate stress. If you want to be more confident and more successful, I can help. Schedule a FREE strategy call with me and we’ll discuss the steps you need to take to show up confidently in every conversation. Click here to sign up for a time slot.

Stress, Be Gone! How to Manage the Daily Stressors

stress

Do you ever get so overwhelmed in your personal or professional life that you feel like you’re just trying to stay afloat? When our minds are saturated with endless tasks, stress begins to kick in and we aren’t able to operate at our full potential. We start to work from the emotional parts of our brain instead of the logical, preventing us from making decisions that serve our best interests.

Simply put: too much stress negatively impacts your life and can prohibit success. Daily stressors will always exist, so the key is to learn how to eliminate the stress toxins that build up in the body. Below are some steps you can take to calm your nervous system whenever stress kicks into high gear.

  1. Stop Thinking.
    Even though you may be having a bad day or even a bad week, push the pause button for a second and reframe your thought patterns. Put things into perspective. Think about the many things you can be grateful for – starting with the positive people in your life. Focusing on those we love and what is good in our lives is a powerful way to control our body’s response to stress and keep things in check.

  2. Breathe Deeply.
    It might seem silly at first, yet oftentimes we forget to start with the basics and just BREATHE! This ancient practice instantly reduces stress and allows us to tap into our creative energy. And from our creative resources, we can find the solutions we need.

  3. Let Go.
    Make of list of the things that overwhelm you. Then, put a check next to the things you can control or influence. For the items that remain unchecked, take a minute to acknowledge that you cannot control them and let go of the idea of doing so.

    Then, with the items you checked off as being in your control, start going through that list and strategize how to tackle those items.

  4. Move It.
    To help reduce the stress hormones in your system, it’s time to get moving! Stretch, walk, bounce; move however you need to to get the stress toxins out of your body.

  5. Drink Water.
    We all know that water fuels your body, but did you know that it can reduce your stress levels as well? Studies have shown that dehydration can lead to an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol. So just by sipping your water, you will see a decrease in your stress levels and feel the effects of reduced stress.  

Work-related issues such as inter-office politics, constant deadlines, feeling overwhelmed, being stuck in dead-end roles are all frustrating and persistent problems that can exacerbate your stress levels and make life miserable. If you are dealing with work-related stress and you want to eliminate it – I can help. To find out more, schedule a free strategy call with me. Together, we’ll create a game plan on how to address your situation, relieve your stress and move forward with more success. Click here to sign up for a time slot.

Be ANYTHING But Boring

boring speaker

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a conversation with someone and you slowly see their attention fade away? The glaze in their eyes appears and your panic starts to set in. The last thing you can afford to do is bore your audience, especially if you’re trying to create a connection, gain buy-in or simply be seen as a competent, engaging professional. There is a definite art to creating authentic conversations that lead you to the right opportunities. Whether you’re in a high-profile meeting or simply chatting with one of your co-workers, using these tips outlined below will help you be ANYTHING but boring in your next conversation.

  1. Be brief, be bright and be gone.  
    When you’re telling a story or want to share some important information, think of your points in terms of soundbites. Soundbites are created to convey a point and be remembered. If you tend toward loquaciousness (being wordy) then practice saying sentences of 10 words or less. Do not talk about yourself unless answering a direct question, and even then stick to one or two soundbites.

  2. Volley the conversation.
    What makes sports so fun is the engagement between competitors and moving the ball around. Apply this principle to your conversations and you’ll come out a winner. Getting into a habit of volleying the conversation back and forth is simple – especially when you are talking in soundbites. Once you’ve shared your information, turn the conversation over to the other person. This graceful act shows that you are interested in really listening to and connecting with your audience. People will leave their conversations with you feeling heard and valued.

  3. Change up your repertoire.
    Roger was one of the most charming, confident and engaging executives I’ve ever met, yet he had a fatal flaw…he shared the same stories and anecdotes over and over. It was so bad that his staff could re-tell his stories verbatim. I don’t have to tell you that this hurt his credibility big time. The brain loves novelty, it’s hardwired to tune in and listen. So use this kernel of information to keep your audience mesmerized with new stories, metaphors, jokes, etc.  

    This also applies to the questions you ask others. It’s helpful to have a general list of questions to ask people you are just meeting. However, for people you see more often, dig deeper and challenge yourself to ask fresh questions each time you see someone.

Practicing these three communication techniques will bring the right connections your way. Instead of running away from you, they’ll be drawn to your side, eager to have a chat, hear your insights and share their own.  

Acing social conversations can accelerate your climb up the corporate ladder. For a lot of people, effortless connecting can be a challenge, yet it doesn’t have to be. If this is something you struggle with, I can help. I’m offering a free 30-minute call where together, we can develop a connection strategy that’s right for you.  Click here to reserve time with me today.

How to Be a Risk-Taker Even When You’re Scared

Everyone admires a risk-taker, right? There’s something exciting about someone who takes a chance; the person who has the courage to start a business in a down economy, a sports team that goes for the two-point shot to win the game or the sky-diver who jumps out of an airplane and isn’t afraid to fall. What do these people have in common? They’re willing to put everything on the line to get what they want. You can’t help but be in awe of those who act fearlessly.

How about you? What was the last risk you took? What opportunity did you back away from and why? Fear is one of the biggest culprits that holds us back from achieving our wildest (or not so wild) dreams. If this resonates with you, then you might need a healthier relationship with fear.

The term “fear” is often described by the acronym False-Evidence-Appearing-Real. Think of it this way – in our mind, we have conjured up some evidence that we label as real. We might believe that we will fail, be embarrassed, lose everything, be rejected, or worst of all, feel judged for our actions.

Dale Carnegie once said, “inaction breeds doubt and fear.” If that’s the case, then ACTION breeds confidence and courage.

If you’re struggling to overcome fear, digest these steps and start taking action:

  • Get real about what’s at stake.
    Ask yourself, “What’s the best that can happen?”, “What’s the worst that can happen?”, and “What is likely to happen?” If you go through these three scenarios, you’ll start to feel the fear slipping away and the confidence immerging. After all, our fears usually seem bigger than their reality of coming true.

  • Move forward, even if it’s a small step.
    No substantial change happens overnight. The same can be said about subsiding your fears. Start by researching your dream. Then, gather more information and start to make a plan. Soon enough, you’ll see that your fears don’t seem so scary if you bite them off a little bit at a time.

  • Tell yourself you are successful.
    As we discussed in a previous blog, positive affirmation is EVERYTHING. If you believe you can and keep telling yourself that, those fears start to fade away and success comes in to replace it.

Fear of failure is a natural reaction that can be reinforced from an early age. Through many well and not-so-well intended messages, we are taught to stay safe and this can lead to us holding back when we should lay full out. Just the other day I was talking to my 10-year-old daughter who was debating whether she should try out for a solo in an upcoming vocal performance. She was afraid that if she didn’t get a solo people would make fun of her – a very common fear. We talked through the same steps I outlined above and she was able to agree that even if she didn’t get a solo, it would be great practice for the next audition. When she came home the next day she proudly told me that she tried out and got a duet…and 2 speaking roles which she had not anticipated. That’s what often happens when we take risks; we get some or all of what we hope for and MORE.

When I think of the regrets I have in my own life, they are never about the things I did and failed to succeed at. I regret the things I failed to try. The bets I hedged. The things I didn’t say. The people I listened to who told me I was unrealistic. Where do you need to shine the light on false evidence that appears real in your life? What opportunity is calling you to push through the vapor of fear and TRY? When you own your fear and take the steps to break down what’s at stake, you will become more realistic about potential outcomes. Not only will you get a confidence-booster, you will also be more prepared to take risks.

Fear of failure is a career and business limiter of epic proportions. If you are seeking more information and techniques to master your fears and showcase the talented professional you know you can be, consider joining my free Facebook group, Power, Persuasion & Presence. This group is designed to help talented, ambitious professionals and motivated leaders develop the Presence, Power and Persuasion they need to make a positive impact, advance their careers and be successful in executive roles. Click here to request to join.

How to Wow Your Clients & Colleagues this Holiday!

Corporate gift-giving: it can be a tricky thing, right? During the holidays, we want to give gifts that our co-workers, bosses and clients truly want; something that they will value and that will leave them with a fond memory of you. So how do you do this?

I’ve found that some of the best corporate gifts are ones that result in a positive experience for the receiver. They can be jointly shared or given away, doesn’t matter, as long as the receiver has a great time. Not only will your colleague feel pampered, your social capital with that person will also expand. To have your colleagues, clients and co-workers feeling special this holiday season, consider these ideas:

  1. Sporting Events
    It doesn’t matter if it’s football, basketball, baseball or any other sport; offering tickets to a sporting event you know they enjoy is a classic gift experience that people love to receive. You can either attend the game with them or let them bring a spouse or a friend and enjoy the game. Either way, this gift experience is a surefire way to demonstrate thoughtfulness and extra effort.
  2. Music Concerts
    This is a great gift experience for colleagues and clients who love music. Because nobody wants to sit through an hour or two of music that they hate, it’s important that you get the genre just right.
  3. Theater, Symphony or Ballet
    For your sophisticates or thespian friends, tickets to a show, symphony or ballet is ideal, especially if it’s an in-demand show. Not sure what’s running on the local theatre scene? Seasonal favorites like the touring Rockettes or The Nutcracker are classy choices.
  4. Box Seating
    To treat multiple people, or ensure that you get to enjoy the experience together, box seats and any of the above type events sends a message of confidence, class and inclusion. If you haven’t done this before, consider renting out a box at a game, concert or play, and sharing it with your clients or corporate friends. This is a great way to mingle with multiple clients/colleagues at once while enjoying a fun gift experience at the same time.
  5. Dinner Invite
    Who doesn’t love a nice, delicious dinner? You can’t go wrong with a restaurant that has tasty food and beautiful ambiance during the holidays. If you’re short on time this holiday season, a gift card to your client’s favorite restaurant is always a great idea as well.
  6. Wine Tasting
    Spread some holiday cheer with a high-end wine tasting! Many wineries, restaurants and wine shops have holiday events that allow you to book a room so all your corporate friends can enjoy the experience together. It’s also a good idea to rent a bus or car service so that everyone gets home safely.
  7. Rent Out a Movie Theater
    Whether it’s Mary Poppins, Aquaman or a classic holiday movie, impress your clients and/or colleagues by renting out a movie theater this holiday season. These days you can serve appetizers outside your theatre and have popcorn and beverages served to your movie-going clients.
  8. Small-Group Cooking Class
    If you have clients or colleagues who love to cook, hosting up a small-group cooking class is a great idea. In the small group setting, you have the opportunity to talk, catch up with each other and learn a new recipe or two. This is a multi-sensory experience that will create wonderful memories and give you something to talk about for years.
  9. Golfing
    Some people can never have enough golf and for those individuals, consider booking a local trip to a golf resort or maybe buying tickets to a professional golf tournament. You’ll make a great impression…and maybe even get some business done.
  10. Paint & Wine Night
    Hosting an event at a paint/wine location is another great way to show thoughtfulness and creativity. With this gift-experience, an instructor guides participants through a painting while everyone sips on their favorite wine and enjoys one another’s company and artistry. Hosting tip…skip the painting and spend your time mingling with all of your guests. Take group and individual photos to commemorate the event.
  11. Weekend Getaway
    Splurge on your top clients and give them the gift of relaxation with a nice weekend getaway. You’ll want to choose a place that’s not too far away, just in case something comes up at home, but also far enough away, to make sure that it feels like a mini-vacation.

 

Whatever you decide to gift your colleagues and clients this holiday season, the most important aspect of your gift is to make sure it feels personal and specialized to that individual. And also – HAVE FUN! This time of year is about authentic giving and it’s also a great opportunity to build social capital with the people you work with. Be bold, extend some invitations and creatively enjoy the season with those you care about in ways that allow you to express yourself.

 

Happy Holidays!

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life: The Power of Positive Affirmations

positive affirmations

Do you remember Casey Junior, from Disney’s Dumbo? In the movie, the steam train takes Dumbo and the rest of the circus around the country, and during their travels, Casey has to hike up a steep hill. As he does it, he tells himself, “I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!” By telling himself what he thought was possible… he successfully completes his journey. While the “raw material” was always present, there was doubt about whether he could or couldn’t get the job done. Casey’s positive thoughts were the driving force behind him making it up the hill.

The same can be said about you and me.

What you say to yourself has a huge impact on your life. If you’re feeding your mind negative thoughts, those negative thoughts will turn into negative actions. And just like Casey Junior, the same can be said about positive thoughts turning into positive results.

Positive Affirmations vs. Negative Affirmations
An affirmation is whatever we tell ourselves and believe to be true. Affirm has a naturally positive connotation, however, affirmations can be quite negative and we have to be careful about what we allow ourselves to believe. Positive affirmations include phrases such as, “I am powerful,” “I have courage,” and “I attract positivity.” Negative affirmations sound like, “I don’t think I can,” “I’m not ________,” “I’ll probably blow it,” “Its soooo hard,” etc. Sadly, it’s much more common for people to drown themselves in negative affirmations such as, “I am not strong enough” or “I don’t deserve this,” than positive ones like, “I TOTALLY deserve this!” or “It’s going to happen.”

Now is the time to change that. Here’s why: the law of attraction says that we draw to us what we give out. In his book, “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill says, “I realize that the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward, physical action and gradually transform themselves into physical reality.” This means that positive thoughts attract positive experiences and negative thoughts attract negative experiences. So if you’re looking to attract the right opportunities, you have to start pumping yourself with the mantra that you are worthy of those opportunities and that you believe in yourself and your personal leadership brand.

Positive affirmations have also been proven to reduce stress and increase your creativity and problem-solving abilities. They make you happier! Personally, I use them all the time and have been amazed at the results. When I was unsure if I could complete a marathon, I practiced watching myself cross the finish line and on the day of my first one; even with a knee injury, I finished with no problem.  When I wanted to become a public speaker, I began visualizing myself on stage and letting others know that’s what I wanted to do and sure enough, a short period of time later, I began receiving invitations to speak. The point is that positive affirmations not only make you feel better, they also bring more positive things into your life.

Changing Negative Thoughts into Positive Ones
You might be thinking, “Changing my thoughts into positive ones isn’t so easy!” That can be true depending on how you go about it. If you tell yourself not to think a certain thought, chance are it’s going to show up constantly – negative affirmation. Instead, think of and even write down the thoughts you DO want running through your brain.

When the negative pattern starts (and it will) don’t try to avoid it. Simply change the direction of your thought and hit ‘play’ on the tape you INTEND to listen to. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Here’s an example: if I tell you to NOT think about a yellow balloon, the first thing you’ll picture is a yellow balloon. If I tell you to think about a pink elephant, your mind just as easily goes to the pink elephant – shifting away from the yellow balloon you’re trying to – and now successfully – avoiding.

The same logic can be applied to thoughts about yourself. If you’re about to go in for a job review, tell yourself, “I am capable and make great decisions.” Instead of, “I wonder if I’m fully qualified for this job.”

You’re human so you’re going to have negative self-thoughts, guaranteed. That’s okay, healthy even! Observe yourself having the thought, acknowledge it then shift to a positive affirmation and keep repeating and visualizing that positive thought. Here’s a little bonus – we can only think of one thing at a time, so when you think of something positive, keep repeating that and soon enough, the negative thoughts lose their power.

If you find yourself struggling; be your own best friend. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend when you were trying to help them feel confident. Would you put down your best friend on a regular basis and tell them they’re not good enough? Probably not. So stop beating yourself up and start pumping yourself up.

Positive Affirmation Examples
To help get you started, below I’ve included positive affirmations you can apply to various areas of your life:

Building Confidence:

  1. I trust myself.
  2. I am valuable.
  3. I love my talents.
  4. I make great decisions.
  5. Solutions come easily to me.
  6. I am successful.
  7. I am a quick learner.

 

Eliminating Stress:

  1. I have nothing to prove.
  2. I am centered.
  3. Everything is as it should be.
  4. I have all the time I need to do what I need to do.
  5. I finish my projects with ease.
  6. I am focused and at peace.
  7. I feel the pressure leaving me.

 

Improving Your Health:

  1. I prioritize my health.
  2. I make good food and fitness choices
  3. I am healthy and strong.  
  4. I love my life.
  5. I love my body.
  6. I am grateful for my genetics.
  7. I am a role model of balance.

 

Ways to Integrate Positive Affirmation into Your Life

There are a variety of ways you can put positive affirmations to work. Depending on how you learn best, here are a few great practices:

  1. Visual Learners: Post your affirmations in places where you can see them. Post-it notes, dry erase boards, vision boards, mantra bands…there’s a million places to post your affirmations to keep them top of mind.
  2. Auditory Learners: Record your affirmations and listen to them when you’re driving, exercising, getting up and/or going to bed. This is a FABULOUS fast-track way to help yourself bring out the best in YOU!
  3. Kinesthetic Learners: Write your affirmations over and over again.
  4. Combination Learners: Practice two, or all three of these methods.

I encourage you to spend time on your affirmations for a few minutes every morning and evening. Just 5-10 minutes a day in a relaxed and positive state will bring about powerful shifts and a harvest of good results in your life. When you change the way you speak to yourself, you can change your entire world. And there’s no better time than the present to begin replacing negative affirmations with positive ones. The holidays are officially here and everyone will benefit from your good cheer.

If you want help focusing your affirmations or building up a strong habit, I’m here for you. Just click here to schedule a complimentary strategy session with me and we will work out a personal affirmation plan to help you achieve your goals for 2019 and beyond.

Isn’t it Time for a Stretch?

comfort zone

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone to Get Ahead

We all have our comfort zone: a world where we are at ease in our routine surroundings, job, community, and relationships. We know these routines like the back of our hand and feel comfortable in knowing that things will rarely change. But here’s the problem with that: the world is always changing. Nothing ever stays the same. If you always stay inside your comfort zone – especially when it comes to your career – you will find yourself stuck, or worse, left behind.

Not sure what I mean? Take a look at the way we consume music, as an example. Depending on your age, you might have listened to music on records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs and now on your phone. If musicians who once distributed their music only on 8-tracks tried doing that today because they were “comfortable” with that format, their sales would seriously flop.

The point is this: our world is always changing and, as professionals, we have to be ready and anticipate those changes. More than that, we should invite those changes into our lives. The most successful people are the ones who know that change is inevitable and adapt to those changes faster than others. So staying in your comfort zone simply won’t cut it.

To help you be as successful as possible, consider engaging in some simple habits that can prepare you to think and live outside your comfort zone – even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

For starters, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What would you do if you could do anything?
  2. What would you like to learn about?
  3. What small changes would you like to make to your life?

We oftentimes get stuck in our comfort zones because of the routines we adapt to, often without intention. While routines and schedules can be helpful, they can also keep us stuck. Be open to trying new things every once in a while. Consider changing up your routine by doing one of the following:

  1. At Home:
    1. Think of a way to reward yourself for the new habit you WANT to build.
    2. Try a new restaurant or eat radically different food items.
    3. Eliminate TV after dinner and find new activities.
  2. At Work:
    1. Make a point to notice positive efforts daily and compliment people.
    2. Invite a colleague to lunch who you don’t know well.
    3. Do a favor for a coworker.
  3. Explore your community:
    1. Visit a museum, art store, antique mall, etc.
    2. See a play.
    3. Go to a friend’s kid’s soccer, baseball, or hockey game (even if you have your own kids’ games).
    4. Walk, run or ride on a new trail.

These simple and fun adventures allow you to see opportunities you are missing and help you to stretch out of your comfort zone. As you exchange stale routines for fresh and healthy new ones; you’ll likely find you have increased energy, better attitudes, more friends and optimism for the future. It doesn’t take much to shake things up and elevate your opportunities for career advancement and life enjoyment.

Another way you can get break out of your comfort zone without leaving the comfort of your chair is by joining online community groups of like-minded professionals. If you’re looking to shake things up professionally, consider joining my free Facebook group, Power, Persuasion & Presence. This group is designed to help talented, ambitious professionals and motivated leaders develop the Presence, Power and Persuasion they need to make a positive impact, advance their careers and be successful in executive roles. Click here to request to join.

What I’m REALLY grateful for this year.

I had a different post planned for today, one about looking forward to move ahead. But then I was reminded that sometimes the best way to move forward is to look back. This week, I lost one of my first and favorite bosses and mentors, John Pollis – “JP” as we all called him. I was extremely sad to hear the news of his illness and passing and it led me to recall him in great detail.

He was charismatic with an executive presence that commanded the attention of every room he entered. His mind was brilliant, mathematically gifted and a fast thinker – his ability to shoot from the hip was legendary. Along with this, he was incredibly varied in his interests and great at whatever he tried…he was a scratch golfer, owned a toy store, was an NFL referee and a GE sales rep before he was a Fortune 100 executive. I think his most impressive talent was his ability to build social capital wherever he went and with anyone he met.

JP wasn’t just your average people-person either; he turned collegial friendships into an art form. He magnetized people into his life and cultivated relationships over long periods of time. It’s been 19 years since I worked for JP, yet not one year has gone by that we haven’t been in touch. And it’s not because I’m particularly special – he was just that good at relationships. As I am writing this post, I am confident that there are thousands of people he impacted who are also mourning his loss.

During my ruminations about JP, I found a gift I did not expect: he reminded me that I am special. Thinking back on my younger self and what it was like to be a bright and eager professional, I remember JP would often throw me into the deep end of the pool with big projects and important assignments. They rarely came with instructions yet always included a clear vision and what success looked like. Underlying it all was his optimistic belief that I could do whatever it was he was asking of me, and because he believed I could, so did I.

Life moves quickly and we rarely see its beauty as it’s happening. The moments, the opportunities, the experiences and the people who change us; we see them in the rearview mirror and sometimes not at all. There’s no doubt that JP helped me accelerate my career – but that’s not the gift he left behind. The gift is looking back at myself through his eyes, and through my older and wiser ones. When I was a young high-potential, I succeeded in doing big and often scary things like going on national TV, getting accounting lessons from the CFO and trying to convince people twice my age who had vastly more experience that I had a good idea. This gift is being able to look back and re-experience monumental success – and know that when I believe in myself I can accomplish anything. I am very sad about JP’s passing, and yet I am also lighthearted and energized because of what he gave me to remember.

This Thanksgiving week, I hope you have a great turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I also wish you some quiet time to delight in memories of people who believed in you, savor your past successes all over again and allow them to enrich your spirit and mobilize your energy to move into the coming year with confidence and optimism. I know that’s what I’ll be doing.

The Top 6 Qualities All Great Leaders Have

What makes a great leader, great?

Countless adjectives can be used to describe a great leader, and while our definitions of leadership may differ, we all know a great leader when we see one. Think of a great leader that you respect… what makes you admire them? What skills do you think they possess?

You don’t have to be the CEO of a company, or start a movement, to be a leader. Leadership is demonstrated by how we live our lives day-to-day.

Below are seven qualities of great leaders that, with practice, you can master:

Confidence – It gives great leaders the ability to get things done. By remaining calm and self-assured, you as a leader, will assist in keeping the team feeling the same. Remember: your team will be observing you, so if you radiate a level of confidence, your team will pick up on that vibe. This way, when they hit a bump in the road, they have the confidence to know they will figure it out or attain the right resources to do so. The goal is to keep the entire team working and moving ahead.

Inspirational – Great leaders inspire action into their team. They do what it takes to set their team up for success. However, a great leader also acknowledges the work that has been given and applauds the team on each their contributions. It is the job of a leader to keep spirits up, and that begins with an appreciation for the hard work.

High-Integrity – All of the greatest leaders have led by example. They have resilient values and can be counted on to be dependable, truthful and fair-minded. A great leader makes ethical choices, they practice what they preach, and support their team in doing the same.

Communication – As a leader, being able to clearly explain your vision and what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t properly communicate this, the team won’t all be working toward the same goal. Great leaders listen to their team, and establish systems and routines to ensure ease of communications throughout their organization.

Positive Outlook – One of the most important qualities a great leader can possess is being able to use positive thinking to motivate others. Leaders see opportunity in every challenge. They keep the entire team focused on a successful future while helping them overcome obstacles.

Tenacity – Persistence is everything. Great leaders refuse to let temporary setbacks derail them. When working toward a goal, a tenacious leader demonstrates drive, while having remarkable determination until the goal is achieved. People admire a tenacious leader because it lets them know their effort won’t go to waste if reaching their target is more difficult – or takes longer than predicted.

A quick way to up your game is to select a couple areas where you would like to improve, and practice the actions indicated above. Pay attention to the changes you witness. Developing and consistently using your leadership skills is a commitment that will greatly benefit you through the course of your life. Leadership is about guiding ourselves just as much as it is about guiding others, too.