Making Self-Compassion One of Your Goals for the New Year

Happy New Year! By now there are plenty of articles circulating around creating your goals for the new year. Maybe you’ve already taken the time to work on your goals or you’ve decided this is the year you’re finally going to stick to those resolutions!  Unfortunately, the statistics are grim. Research shows that only 9% of actually stick to and achieve our goals. As a result, many of us instinctively beat ourselves up for failing to meet our goals, so maybe it’s time for a different approach: self-compassion. This refers to treating oneself with kindness when things go wrong—and that’s what I aim to practice as I work on my own goals this year.

I was inspired by this concept from an article I read in the Greater Good Magazine: Science-based Insights for a Meaningful Life.  Here’s the article and maybe it will inspire you as well.

Why Self-Compassion Works

In fact, research shows that when people treat themselves kindly, rather than critically, they are more likely to believe they can improve, correct mistakes, and re-engage with goals after veering off course. In contrast, self-criticism is linked to procrastination, stress, and rumination—none of which motivates people to continue pursuing a goal.

Researchers think self-compassion facilitates goal pursuit by helping us regulate our emotions and maintain our belief in our ability to change. When we practice self-compassion in the face of failure—such as drinking or eating more than we planned—we recognize the common humanity in our actions, treat ourselves with kind words and gestures, and are mindfully aware of our thoughts and emotions, rather than avoiding or exaggerating them. Self-soothing may transform negative emotions and self-related thoughts into the positive emotions that facilitate goal pursuit. In other words, when we cope with difficulty self-compassionately, we don’t need to cope by engaging in unhealthy behaviors, like drinking even more alcohol or eating even more junk food to manage our feelings of guilt.

Self-compassion may also facilitate the self-awareness needed to change our behaviors in line with our long-term goals, because we’re not trying to avoid the negative emotions that sometimes accompany seeing ourselves realistically. Fuschia Sirois and colleagues found that self-compassionate people experienced more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions in general, which was associated with healthy eating, sleeping, and exercising. Self-compassion may promote healthy behavior by reducing negative emotions in the face of small setbacks and by “encouraging the positive emotions necessary to maintain motivation during the pursuit of health goals,” write the authors. This is echoed by another study by Claire Adams and Mark Leary, which found that self-compassion helped lift shame at eating “forbidden foods,” like a donut, which for certain people leads to more unhealthy eating to cope with their negative emotions.

Self-compassion may also facilitate our goal pursuit by promoting a growth-oriented attitude and belief in our ability to change. For example, self-compassion is linked to perceived competence and self-efficacy, or belief that we can achieve our goals. In a study by Juliana Breines and Serena Chen, undergraduates took a difficult GRE vocabulary test, were given their scores and the correct answers, and were allowed as much time as they wanted to study. Those who were primed to feel self-compassion by being told “everyone has difficulty” and to not be too hard on themselves spent significantly more time studying than those primed to maintain a high sense of self-esteem. Importantly, time spent studying was related to performance on the second test, implying that self-compassion may help us develop a skill by motivating us to spend more time practicing it.

These studies suggest increasing our self-compassion levels may help us achieve our goals by helping us regulate our emotions and by promoting a belief in our ability to change our behaviors. By providing a consistent feeling of self-worth, self-compassion creates a foundation on which to see ourselves clearly, cope with negative emotions in healthy ways, and reduce self-criticism.

How to Apply Self-Compassion

To increase confidence in my ability to drink less, I plan to make a specific, measureable goal that clearly defines what I need to do: “I will only consume a total of four drinks each week on the weekend.” I also need to pay attention to the positive emotions I experience while pursuing this goal, because we’re more likely to pursue a goal that makes us feel good. Self-compassion is handy for keeping those positive emotions going when I have five, not four, drinks on the weekend.

Luckily, you can raise self-compassion levels through daily practice.

I plan to spend some time each day cultivating the elements of self-compassion, including mindfulness, self-kindness, and common humanity. Greater Good in Action has a variety of practices, such as letter-writing activities, which can help cultivate a feeling of warmth towards the self. Specifically, cultivating mindfulness may also help us delay gratification in service of our long-term goals.

In moments of difficulty, I plan to take a self-compassion break. If I’m tempted to drink during the week, I might cultivate self-kindness by placing a hand on my heart and saying, “May I be healthy” or “May I act wisely”; mindfulness by saying, “I’m having an urge to drink” or “I’m feeling stressed”; and common humanity by saying, “This is what it’s like to struggle with a goal” or “Other people have felt this way, too.”

Habits can be difficult to change, but research suggests that when we backtrack on our goals, we’re more likely to bounce back if we’re kind rather than critical of ourselves. That is certainly a much healthier response than to reach for a glass of wine or eat too much chocolate!

Is Your View of Success Flawed?

The traditional formula for success has been this: “if you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, then you’ll be happy”. It seems this way of thinking has been ingrained in us from teachers, parents, work places, etc. and that happiness is a result of being successful. In other words, we play the if and then game; if I get a promotion, then I’ll be happy. If I lose 10 pounds, then I’ll be happy. If I reach my goals, then I’ll be happy.  I must admit, I have been taught to think this way and it has been ingrained in me since I was young. Even today, I still find myself thinking this way. The problem however, is that this theory is flawed!

I’m currently reading a book called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Archor.  In the book, Archor challenges this perspective and years of study and ground-breaking research in the fields of positive psychology and neuroscience, has proven that the relationship between success and happiness is the opposite of what we have been taught. Archor shows us that “happiness is the precursor to success, not merely the result. And that happiness and optimism actually fuel performance and achievement – giving us the competitive edge which he calls the Happiness Advantage.”

The basis of positive psychology revolves around how we think. “Are brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive. It makes sense if you think about it. As a result, “happiness causes success and achievement, not the opposite.”

Archor goes on to explain and highlight the 7 Principles that predict success and achievement. I’ll let you read the book to understand what they are but I particularly enjoyed how these seven principles apply to both individuals and companies. To supplement his findings, he speaks about the work of Yale psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski. She found that “employees have one of three work orientations, or mindsets about our work. We view our work as either a Job, a Career, or a Calling. People with a “job” see work as a chore and their paycheck as the reward. They work because they have to and constantly look forward to the time they can spend away from their job. By contrast, people who view their work as a career work not only out of necessity, but also to advance and succeed. They are invested in their work and want to do well. Finally, people with a calling view work as an end in itself; their work is fulfilling not because of external rewards but because they feel it contributes to the greater good, draws on their personal strengths, and gives them meaning and purpose.”

It’s no surprise that those who view their work as a calling work longer and harder and as a result, are more likely to get ahead.  Interestingly, what Wrzesniewski also found is that the type of job you have doesn’t determine what type of work orientation you have. In other words, we might think that those more prestigious and high-paying jobs (i.e. doctors, lawyers, etc.) might tend to see their work as a calling as opposed to those “lesser-type” jobs (i.e. janitor, admin assistant, etc). In fact, in her research it was equal. Regardless of the job, each orientation was represented almost equally in thirds.

What she discovered was that a calling orientation can have just as much to do with mindset as it does with the actual work being done. In other words, “unhappy employees can find ways to improve their work life that doesn’t involve quitting, changing jobs or careers, or going off to find themselves. This is called “job crafting” which essentially means adjusting your mindset “…new possibilities open for the meaning of work simply by the way it is constructed by the individual.”

So, the question to ask yourself is: which work orientation are you?  If you find yourself viewing your work as a job or even career, here’s an exercise you may wish to try. Rewrite your job description into a “calling description.” Think about how the same tasks might be written in a way that would entice others to apply for the job. The goal is not to misrepresent the work you do, but to highlight the meaning that can be derived from it. Then, think of your own personal goals in life. How can your current job tasks be connected to the larger purpose? “The more we can align our daily tasks with our personal vision, the more likely we are to see work as a calling.”

The book goes on to highlight more exercises and ideas in which to help you view your work as a calling rather than just a job or career. And, it doesn’t have to be large tasks. Researchers have found that even the smallest tasks can be instilled with greater meaning when they are connected to personal goals and values.

 

The Power of Connection

Why We Need Others to Help Us Succeed?

We all need the face-to-face interaction with people to help us in life.  More and more, I’m reading about the affects of isolation that affect our health and well-being. In today’s world of technology, we can find ourselves doing everything from home. Even our social interactions can occur via the internet. But is that truly what helps us form quality relationships?  The answer is emphatically, no!

There is much research around that suggests just the opposite. While technology is great for a lot of things, it simply cannot replace or be a substitute for the bond that forms through in person connection.

I have been criticized in the past for not running some of my programs online and while it would be easy to do (once I learn how to do that😊) I stand firm in my ground in that I believe a lot more can be achieved by working side-by-side a group of people.

In my opinion, you simply cannot replace the benefits of face-to-face conversation. There is so much depth and richness that comes with working alongside others who are facing similar challenges as you. Whether you are in business for yourself, the leader of a large organization or a leader in your own home life, there is simply no substitute for meeting in person with a trusted group of like-minded individuals.

This is why I’ve developed the Leadership Development Master Circle. This is a small group of individuals who all want to focus on growing themselves while growing their business and leadership skills.  This in person, monthly Mastermind group offers a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support to help you sharpen your leadership, business and personal skills. Participants challenge each other to set powerful goals, and more importantly, to accomplish them. Simply by belonging to and actively participating in a mastermind group can help you and your other mastermind group members achieve success.

The group requires commitment, confidentiality, willingness to both give and receive advice and ideas, and support each other with total honesty, respect and compassion. Mastermind group members act as catalysts for growth, devil’s advocates and supportive colleagues. This is the essence and value of mastermind groups.

If you’re looking for a group that will support you, provide you with valuable feedback and advice, I encourage you to take part in the Leadership Development Master Circle. I can guarantee you will leave the group with a different perspective, new ideas, a strong support network and greater success.

Ready to take part?  Click here for more details.

Jump Start to January

Jump Start to January

 

Being a senior leader in an organization or running your own business or department in a large company often feels like you’re on a deserted island. Working alone or in isolation goes against who we are as human beings. No one to talk to or bounce ideas off of. And, no one to help with those challenges we all encounter.

Exceptional leaders today realize they can’t do this on their own. Rather, they surround themselves with other successful peers who help them become better leaders and accelerate their business results while enhancing their personal and professional well-being.

With the holidays at the end of the year, you only have 2 or 3 months to work NOW on getting yourself organized.

Mastermind groups are a great way to leverage your time and scale your personal and business growth.

Mastermind groups are everywhere! The popularity of masterminding is growing as people just like you are finding the success they want through brainstorming with others, creating goals, holding each other accountable, and encouraging a positive mental attitude.

Masterminding keeps you on target and moving forward with the important things in your personal and professional life.

I’ve been running Mastermind Groups for years and here are the top reasons why people take part.

10 Benefits of a Mastermind Group:

  • Increase your own experience and confidence
  • Sharpen your business and personal skills
  • Create real progress in your business and your life
  • Add an instant and valuable support network
  • Get honest feedback, advice and brainstorming
  • Borrow on the experience and skills of the other members
  • Create action plans and have the group hold you accountable for fulfilling your plans and goals
  • Receive critical insights into yourself
  • Optimistic peer support in maintaining a positive mental attitude
  • A sense of shared endeavor – there are others out there!

I’ve teamed up with Executive Coach Global, an executive coaching and Leadership Development coaching and training company, to offer this exciting new opportunity for senior leaders.

If you’re ready to take control of your life, your career and your personal success, participating in a mastermind group can help you create the strategy and actions for moving forward.

Check out the events page for more information on the next Mastermind Group.

The Power of Others

There is a constant struggle between being independent and doing things ourselves and having the support of others to help us, whether that be in our job, career, business or personal life.  All too often, asking for help is considered a sign of weakness. Our society has positioned us to do things alone, independently of one another. But is that really the best way? Does doing things alone really generate greater positive results and success?

As a Leadership Coach, I struggled with this very concept as most leadership coaching focuses on helping leaders build their own skills and knowledge and close performance gaps. While these are necessary, it’s not necessarily sufficient.

Using evidence from neurosciences and his work with leaders, Dr. Henry Cloud, author of The Power of The Other, shows that the best performers draw on another vital resource: personal and professional relationships that fuel growth and help them surpass current limits.

“Popular wisdom suggests that we should not allow others to have power over us, but the reality is that they do, for better or for worse. Consider the boss who diminishes you through cutting remarks versus one who challenges you to get better. Or the colleague who always seeks the limelight versus the one who gives you the confidence to finish a difficult project. Or the spouse who is honest and supportive versus the one who resents your success. No matter how talented, intelligent, or experienced, the greatest leaders share one commonality: the power of the others in their lives.”

While I’m a firm believer in developing ourselves to become more effective leaders, I’m also very supportive of relying on others to help me achieve greater results.  I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, that especially in business, you cannot do things solely on your own. We all need the help and support of others to help us along the way.

The problem becomes in knowing what specifically you need help with and in identifying the best person(s) to help you. For example, when I first started my business, I thought I needed to do EVERYTHING myself. From designing and developing my own website, to the ongoing marketing and the ever-important financial accounting; not one of my strongest suits😊  While I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person, I got into coaching so I could help people reach their full potential. Ironically, doing these things was not helping me reach mine. So, I quickly learned that for me to succeed, I needed help.

Think about your own life, career, or business. What are you doing (alone) that you really need help with?  Could you achieve greater success if you had others to assist you?

And sometimes, it’s not help with specific tasks such as accounting, but rather assistance with personal development and leadership.

Mastermind Groups are a great way to work alongside others to help you out of these stuck points. Leaders today realize that they can’t do things totally on their own. Regardless of what position you hold in your job or your business, leadership can be lonely. We all need to surround ourselves with other successful peers who can help us become better leaders and accelerate our business results while enhancing our personal and professional well-being.

If you’ve been working by yourself for a while now isn’t it time you reached out and asked for help. I know once you do, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

How Well Do You Know Yourself?

Self-awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self-awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.

We might quickly assume that we are self-aware, but it is helpful to have a relative scale for awareness. If you have ever been in an auto accident you may have experienced everything happening in slow motion and noticed details of your thought process and the event. This is a state of heightened awareness. With practice, we can learn to engage these types of heightened states and see new opportunities for interpretations in our thoughts, emotions, and conversations. Having awareness creates the opportunity to make changes in behavior and beliefs.

The problem for most of us is, we assume that how we see ourselves is how others see us, which isn’t usually correct. Furthermore, we don’t really know what to do to become more self- aware.

Value in Self Awareness

The best thing leaders can to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making. A Harvard Business Review article had this to say about self-awareness:

“Without self-awareness, you cannot understand your strengths and weakness, your “super powers” versus your “kryptonite.” It is self-awareness that allows the best business-builders to walk the tightrope of leadership: projecting conviction while simultaneously remaining humble enough to be open to new ideas and opposing opinions. The conviction (and yes, often ego) that founders and CEOs need for their vision makes them less than optimally wired for embracing vulnerabilities or leading with humility. All this makes self-awareness that much more essential.”

Here are 3 Ways to Build Self-Awareness:

  1. Test and Know Yourself Better – Having a framework for self-awareness helps to understand your strengths and weaknesses. There are many assessments to evaluate self-awareness and while none are perfect, they do facilitate self-reflection, which leads to better self-awareness. I personally like, and work with, the Leadership Circle Profile but regardless of which one you choose, it will help you to understand which core traits drive your decisions and attitudes and what is most important for increasing the probability for success.
  2. Watch Yourself and Learn – Peter Drucker wrote, “Whenever you make a decision or take a key decision, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the results with what you expected.” Drucker called this self-reflection process feedback analysis and credited it to a 14th-century German theologian. He said it was the “only way to discover your strengths.” The key to the effectiveness of feedback analysis is to (a) codify rationale and motivations and (b) reflect and assess outcomes. Such a practice forces one to focus not just on the what, but also equally on the why. When people don’t take the time for reflection, they rely on history and memory. In other words, when things don’t turn out as expected, we tend to rationalize and justify rather than reflect. As it turns out, this is the primary reason why many people don’t progress in their self-awareness and personal development.
  3. Be Aware of Others, Too – Self-awareness is crucial when building a team. Knowing your natural strengths and weaknesses helps you to identify others’ strengths and weaknesses as well. Effective teams are made up of people who both understand and compliment each other. The best teams are rarely made up of similar types. Rather, they are comprised of a diversity of excellence and fill in the gaps where you (as the leader) may be lacking. Having the right compliment of people and a supportive learning environment allows you to see more clearly what you do well and what others do well.

In the Harvard Business Review, the article summarizes self-awareness as this:

“…know thyself, improve thyself, and complement thyself. These are common sense principles but are not necessarily commonly followed. Why? Because people don’t always commit to stand in the face of truth. Intellectual honesty, rigorous commitment, and active truth-seeking are sine qua non to any self-awareness process.

Self-reflection and its reward of self-awareness cannot be thought of as passive exercises, new era meditation, or soft science. They’re absolutely essential. There is a reason why in rehabilitation programs the starting point is being aware enough to admit you have a problem. So, too, is the case in business leadership and personal development.”

 

 

The Ongoing Struggle Between Work and Life

The concept of “work-life balance” has been debated for decades. The problem is, everyone has a different concept of what this should look like. In today’s world, it’s more challenging than ever to juggle the demands of your job, your business, and the rest of your life. We are all being asked to do more and work harder even when we’re not physically at work.  As a result, the line between home and work is blurred and the feelings we are left with are stress and overwhelm.

The problem, as I see it then, is that when we use the word “balance” we actually feel as if everything in our life should be equal. When we feel as if one side of our life is using up too much of our energy, we can become stressed, our productivity can fall, and our personal relationships can become strained. So, maybe “balance” is the wrong word. This article will look at providing a different insight about how we can achieve the balance we all desire.

What Is Work-Life Balance?

Before we can attempt to achieve balance we first have to define it. What does work-life balance really mean? First, let’s look at what it doesn’t mean.

  1. Work-life balance does not mean an equal balance – trying to schedule an equal number of hours for work and personal related activities is usually unrewarding and unrealistic.
  2. Your best individual work-life balance will vary over time – often on a daily basis. The right balance for your today will probably be different for you tomorrow. The right balance for you when you are single will be different when you marry, or if you have children; when you start a new career versus when you are nearing retirement.
  3. There is no perfect, one-size fits all, balance you should be striving for – The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different values, priorities and lives.

So, What Are The Solutions?

  1. First step: Recognizing what your biggest work-life challenges are?
  2. Defining what work-life balance means to you?
  3. Quality vs quantity – sometimes it’s not how much time we have but how we choose to use the time we do have. If spending time with your family is important, it’s equally important to ensure you are fully present when you do have time together.
  4. Sometimes just having too much on the go and “thinking” you have no choice leads to problems. Re-evaluate your priorities and realize you do have choices.  Allow yourself permission to say no, let go of doing things just because, and ensure you are doing the things you want to do, not “should” do.
  5. Ensure the things you want to do, whether in work or life, are aligned with your values.
  6. Understand and familiarize yourself with benefits offered by your employer i.e. flexible schedules, working from home, etc.

Redefining Work-Life Balance: A New Perspective

Finally, I would challenge you to think out of the box in your work-life balance definition. At the core of an effective work-life balance definition are two key everyday concepts that are relevant to each of us. They are daily Achievement and Enjoyment.  Achievement and Enjoyment answer the big question “Why?” Why do you want a better income…a new house…to put the kids through college…to do a good job today…to come to work at all?

Most of us already have a good grasp on the meaning of Achievement but what about Enjoyment. Enjoyment does not just mean “Ha-Ha” happiness. It means Pride, Satisfaction, Happiness, Celebration, Love, A Sense of Well Being …all the Joys of Living.

It’s important to understand that you cannot get the full value from life without BOTH Achievement and Enjoyment. Focusing on Achievement and Enjoyment every day in life helps you avoid the “As Soon As Trap”, the life dulling habit of planning on getting around to the joys of life and accomplishment “as soon as….”

If we strive to achieve and enjoy something every single day in all the important areas of our lives, life will deliver balance and the value we desire.

Finding Balance in Your Life

Ah summer! Just saying the word brings vivid images of sunshine, relaxation and enjoying time with friends and family. But life and work don’t come to a halt just because the weather is nicer. In fact, in some cases it gets even busier.

When life is busy, or all your energy is focused on a special project, it’s all too easy to find yourself off balance, not paying enough attention to important areas of your life. While you need to have drive, and focus if you’re going to get things done, taking this too far can lead to frustration and intense stress.

The fact is, most of us are not good at creating a work-life balance state of being. Many of us struggle with over committing either in our work or in our life, which can impact our personal relationships, our commitments, and lead to feelings of burnout, stress and overwhelm.

So how do we bring things back into balance?  We need to step away from being in our life to taking a “helicopter view” of our life so we can see things more clearly.  The Wheel of Life, a tool commonly used by coaches, helps you consider each area of your life in turn and assess what’s off balance. As such, it helps you identify areas that need more attention.

The Wheel of Life is powerful because it gives you a vivid visual representation of the way your life is currently, compared with the way you’d ideally like it to be. It is called the “Wheel of Life” because each area of your life is mapped on a circle, like the spoke of a wheel. The concept was originally created by Paul J. Meyer, founder of Success Motivation® Institute, Inc. Click below to download your personal copy of the Wheel of Life.

Wheel of Life

Using the Tool

  • Review the 8 areas on the Wheel of Life. The Wheel must, when put together, create a view of a balanced life for you. If necessary, you can split categories to add in something that is missing for you. You can also re-label an area so that it is more meaningful for you. The usual suspects are:
  1. Family/Friends
  2. Partner/Significant Other/Romance
  3. Career
  4. Finances
  5. Health (emotional/physical/fitness/nutrition/well-being)
  6. Physical Environment/Home
  7. Fun/Recreation/Leisure
  8. Personal Growth/Learning/Self-development
  9. Spiritual well-being (not necessarily religion – can be sense of self)
  10. Others could include security, service, leadership, integrity, achievement or community.
  • Think about what success feels like for each area.
  • Now, rank your level of satisfaction with each area of your life by drawing a line across each segment. Place a value between 1 (very dissatisfied) and 10 (fully satisfied) against each area to show how satisfied you are currently with these elements in your life.
  • The new perimeter of the circle represents your ‘Wheel of Life’. Ask yourself, “Is it a bumpy ride?”
  • Now, looking at the wheel, here are some questions to ask yourself and take the exercise deeper:
    • Are there any surprises for you?
    • How do you feel about your life as you look at your Wheel?
    • How do you currently spend time in these areas?
    • How would you like to spend time in these areas?
    • Which of these elements would you most like to improve?
    • How could you make space for these changes?
    • Can you effect the necessary changes on your own?
    • What help and cooperation from others might you need?
    • What would make that a score of 10?
    • What would a score of 10 look like?

Taking Action

Now you have a visual representation of your current life balance. You can repeat the exercise thinking about what you’d like your ideal life balance to be. What are the gaps? These are the areas of your life that need attention.

And remember that gaps can go both ways. There are almost certain areas that are not getting as much attention as you’d like. However, there may also be areas where you’re putting in more effort than you’d ideally like. These areas are sapping energy and enthusiasm that may better be directed elsewhere.

Once you have identified the areas that need attention, it’s time to plan the actions needed to work on regaining balance. Starting with the neglected areas, what things do you need to start doing to regain balance? In the areas that currently sap your energy and time, what can you stop doing or reprioritize or delegate to someone else? Make a commitment to these actions by writing them down using the following as a guide.

Things I will START doing to regain balance in my life Things I will STOP doing, reprioritize or delegate
 

 

 

 

5 Life and Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Dogs

I never had any pets growing up but for the last 28 years, we’ve had three dogs. We adopted our first dog soon after we were married from the human society. He was a golden lab named Hooch who was extremely playful and loyal. Our second dog Mackenzie, was a golden retriever and we adopted him at five years of age from a family who could no longer care for him. He was incredibly faithful but somehow missed out on the “retriever” part of his heritage. He was extremely lazy but loved you to no end.  Our current dog is also a golden retriever named Rally. We also adopted, or should I say rescued, her at five years of age from a breeder and has been with us ever since. Rally turns 12 next month and sadly is transitioning into the last stage of her life.

It’s hard to imagine our life without her as she has given us so much love and joy.  But aside from being such a wonderful family member, I have learned a lot from her both from a life and leadership perspective.

Here are 5 leadership lessons I have learned from my dogs.

  1. Be Loyal

Dogs are fiercely loyal. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, how successful you are or what position you hold, dogs just love you and want to be with you. Dogs are always with us and by our side no matter what happens. A dog’s loyalty never wavers. This is a great leadership quality because success isn’t easy. There will be rough patches in both work and life. Learning to fail and rise again is largely in part due to the support network we have around us. You want to surround yourself with the people you can count on and trust.

  1. Always Look for the Best in People

Whenever you come home, dogs are always there to greet you and have a smile from ear to ear. And this isn’t just for the owners! No matter who you are, dogs think you are the greatest person in the world. This is a great leadership quality because people perform their best when they are set up to succeed, treated fairly and with respect.  Great leaders always look for the best in people, help them identify their strengths and watch them thrive.

  1. Enjoy the Simple Things

Rally has always enjoyed her toys and especially her food and treats. Even her medication is a treat for her. Just mentioning that it’s time for a walk or dinner gets her all excited, as if it’s been forever since her last walk or meal!  Life and leadership is about the journey. The journey is the reward, and it’s important to recognize the little things along the way that made that journey so special. Often, we get so caught up in the daily grind or zero in on what went wrong and we don’t take the time to acknowledge all the wonderful things that happened along the way. Great leaders know that you need to take the time to celebrate the small wins which help to keep the bigger goals in focus.

  1. Be Happy

Dogs are always happy and you can tell because their tails are wagging all the time. But what makes dogs happy the most is knowing that we are happy. In any work environment, it’s a well-known fact that it’s all about the people. When people are happy and engaged, they will do great things. They will go above and beyond what is expected and happy to do so because they know they are appreciated and valued.

  1. Know What You Want and Need

Dogs do not send mixed messages. When they need to go outside, they bark or paw at the door. When they want to play, they carry their toys around and when they are hungry, they circle around the cupboard where their food is.  The advantage of a dog’s directness is that it leaves no room for confusion. Leaders should operate in the same way – making an effort to clearly communicate expectations and equally clear when expectations are not met.

 

Finding Happiness During Times of Transition

Many of us fear change or transition but what is it about transition that makes us feel that way? In many of the books I’ve read, it seems that fear – regardless of the type of fear we experience, stems from one of two things.  The first, is the unknown and not having a clear picture of what’s coming next. The second, is a lack of control or feeling like things are not how they should be.

The fact is, there are times in all our lives when we are at a crossroads and we do experience change or transition. But change is a constant which we cannot escape or always control. So how do we remain happy during these turbulent times?

The fact is, we cannot, nor should we expect to be, happy all the time. Yet, many expect that we should. I believe the problem results when we look to the outside world and start to compare what we have against what others have. In other words, things on the outside appear as if we “have everything” and yet, we still experience unhappiness. This leads us to feeling ungrateful (for what we do have), unsatisfied, and unfulfilled. It may even lead to deeper feelings of failure, not good enough, sadness, or depression.

It’s no wonder then, that most of us tend to resist change. I work with many clients experiencing transition, whether that be in their personal or professional lives and the most common comment I hear is that they feel they don’t have any control over what’s happening. And while this may be true to a certain extent, the fact is, there is always a way to have some control. The one thing that is absolutely true is that clarity leads to greater self-control.

To help you in embracing change, especially during times of transition, here are some tips to help.

Five Steps to Finding Happiness During Transition:

  1. Describe What You Want
    You cannot get what you want until you can describe what it is. What do you see yourself doing if there were no perceived obstacles in your way? Give yourself the freedom to brainstorm and the answers you are seeking will come.
  2. Explore Your Options
    What did you learn from Step 1? Take your realizations and turn them into real choices. If you are transitioning to a new career, begin researching and using contacts you know today, or people you haven’t met yet, to help you.
  3. Create Your Game Plan
    Take what you gathered from the exploratory process and then put these steps into your calendar.
    a) What I want.
    b) When I will get what I want.
    c) The actions I will take to get there.
  4. Implement Your Plan
    Keep the momentum going. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Persistence and forward movement is what will help you reach your goal.
  5. Reach Your Goal
    You made it! Applaud yourself for your hard work and effort. Congratulations on discovering you can handle anything that comes your way.

As you can see, each step relates to the one before and it all begins with gaining clarity. Taking this first step will guarantee that you do have the ability to control some things which will leave you feeling powerful and confident.