executive coaching

Three Tips For Forming a Lifestyle of Gratitude

cellars

cellars

Today being Thanksgiving, it is a natural time to think about gratitude. However, our lives would be radically different if every day we found reasons to be grateful.

Let’s start with a simple exercise that can help to develop that lifestyle.

Think of a time when you were really grateful.  Really go into details of what it was like to feel grateful.  Literally take a couple of minutes just to taste it.

As you remember a time when you were grateful, what happens to you the more you think of that time?

What are you experiencing? Feeling? Thinking?

Notice that you are becoming more grateful in the present.

Notice that no matter what you were feeling before you took those couple of minutes, you are now more content and peaceful.

Notice the humility, the awareness of what a gift you were given.

Notice the simplicity.

Now think for a moment.  What would happen to your life if you took even just 5 mins a day to think of a time when you were grateful?

How would you lead your team differently?  How would you approach your stakeholders?

How would you give feedback to a direct report?  How would you receive feedback?

Gratitude is serious business.

If you read Benefits of Gratitude, you will find 31 benefits to developing a lifestyle of gratitude, including:

  • Becoming a better manager

  • Improved networking skills

  • Achieving more goals

  • Improved decision making

  • Increased productivity

Gratitude makes a huge difference in the business world.

So now let’s talk about some different ways in which you can cultivate gratitude in your life

1. Remember moments when you were grateful - Gratitude Chronicle

This is what you did at the beginning of this blog.  If you download the Gratitude Chronicle that we’ve created, you can capture different times throughout your life when you felt grateful.

Some like to write the details about the times when they felt grateful on the Excel spreadsheet.  Others like to write just the headline and then let themselves really get into the story.

If you write not only the facts of your gratitude story but also what you feel about the facts, that will help you get into a grateful mindset.

Typically gratitude happens when we:

  • Get relief from a hard time we are going through.

  • Are given a gift.

  • Remember the things that we take for granted, which would be a terrible loss to us if they were taken away (i.e. our eyesight, family, friends, etc.).

  • Hear someone else’s stories of when they felt grateful.

Any of these could be captured in your gratitude chronicle.

2. When you give negative feedback to a direct report, also give 2 or 3 things you are grateful for with respect to who they are or the work they did.  

Your direct reports want to know you value them.  If they hear mostly criticism from you, they will tend to focus on that criticism instead of what you value about them.  So when you give negative feedback, be sure to include 2-3 things you are genuinely grateful for.  Then find more positive ways to communicate the feedback so they can see that you are looking to help them grow even further, rather than squash them down.

3. Start a ritual of beginning your day by thinking of three things you are grateful for about the previous day.

Imagine what it would be like to wake up in the morning and feel grateful.

Another simple way to develop this skill is to start your day with it.

When you wake up in the morning, take a few minutes to list three things that happened the day before that you were grateful for. Let yourself enjoy these three for a few minutes so you can taste the gratitude.

If there were bigger things that happened, take the time to record them in your gratitude chronicle.

As is implied by this blog, gratitude is a skill that can be grown and improved.  A few minutes a day will go a long way towards developing a lifestyle of gratitude.

I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with finding ways to be grateful for those who are enjoying this day with you!

Chew On This:

  • What would your team be like if everyone cultivated a lifestyle of gratitude?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

MBTI Bite: How To Pick Up Someone's Personality Type Over The Phone

mbti-bite_-how-to-pick-up-someones-personality-type-over-the-phoneJust think of what it would be like if you could figure out a new stakeholder’s personality type while you speak to them on the phone. Think of how quickly you could connect with them, tailor your dialogue to their preferred communication style, and even know how to balance their weaknesses so that they feel empowered to stay in their strike zones.

It's possible.

Myers-Briggs is the most popular and most researched assessment in the world. It breaks down personality types into four dichotomous pairs.

1. E vs I, Extrovert vs Introvert.

You know the person on the other end of the telephone is an E if they consistently talk things out with you. We E’s are notorious for thinking as we speak. We've also got a case of verbal diarrhea. That is, we are verbose.

I’s, on the other hand pause, think things out and give more concise, formed answers. They also tend to process new information internally instead of with others.

2. S vs N, Sensing vs Intuition.

S’s, or Sensors, are 75% of the population. So when in doubt, you can guess that the stakeholder you are speaking to is an S. But another way to know is if they speak in specifics. Do they give detailed descriptions as they lay out information? Do they talk in more tangibles (sights, smells, sounds) than in abstract concepts?

You know you are speaking to an N, or Intuitive, when they focus on the big picture. N's often think broadly, basing their ideas more on intuition than sensory cues. N’s also love new ideas and possibilities.

3. T vs F, Thinking vs. Feeling.

T’s, or Thinkers, can be spotted because they talk about the logical implications of things.

F’s, or Feelers, may first talk about a task but will often interject with the impact the project will have on the people.

4. J vs P, Judging vs. Perceiving.

J’s or Judgers, feel more comfortable once a decision is made. Over the phone, you will sense them wanting to lock down a decision.

P’s, on the other hand, like to keep their options open. It will be harder to nail things down.

Here is a cheat sheet that gives you all of the above in one page:

rcba-mbti-cheat-sheet

rcba-myers-briggs-cheat-sheets

Once you can pick off the letters, go to 16personalities.com and get detailed descriptions that will help you get them better.

Even if you can't nail all the letters use this cheat sheet to tailor the way you communicate with them not just over the phone but in email too.

Chew On This:

 

  • How can you implement this mindset into your phone calls today?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

What Every Boss Wishes You Would Do When You Royally Mess Up

messup I was waiting in a client’s office.  She was running late from a meeting with her boss.

After walking in, closing the door behind her, and giving me one of those appropriate corporate hugs she said, “I am in big, big trouble.  I mean it is bad, Ryan.  I have really failed.”

Then she described how she screwed up.

It was bad.

Now mind you, she is at that level in a Fortune 500 company where you never have to guess about competency.  If you get to that level, you have gone through a tremendous vetting process.  So for her, there was a lot more fear involved as she struggled with how to rebuild credibility.

Moreover, her boss has a reputation for being completely insensitive, harsh, and lacking in grace.

She debated as to whether or not she could fix it before anyone knew.

But when she thought through the question of what she would want her direct reports to do if they were in her shoes, she decided she would want them to tell her.

Then she flipped back.

She wondered if her boss’s reputation did not warrant that she hide the error.

Later she realized that if he ever found out, she would probably be terminated because he would feel he could not trust her again.

How many of us have been in similar shoes?

In toxic work environments, there is a high level of manipulation, covering up, blame-shifting, office politics, positioning, and often backstabbing.  Toxic work environments are toxic because managers have not embraced their responsibility to create a culture where it is safe to risk for the greater good or to own our mistakes when they are made.

If you find yourself in a toxic environment, the plan that I present below will feel really uncomfortable.

I hate to say it, but if your work environment is toxic and there is no desire on the part of your superiors to move towards health, I really hope you can quickly find a place where your gifts are valued and the environment is healthy.

Fortunately for my client, despite her boss’s reputation, the overall work environment is fairly healthy.

Here is the plan that my client and I came up with.  It worked for her, and I hope it works for you:

1. Fully own your mess-up, with no “marketing” whatsoever.

The conversation can open with the following: “Bob, I made a real mistake.  I did X, and it cost Y. I apologize.”

Do not try to blame-shift, minimize, rationalize, or “market” what happened.  Be direct.  Be succinct.  Fully own it.  And don’t forget to apologize.

Make sure to let your boss know that you will also be owning it to whoever else is involved.

If you do not own it, know that if it is major, it will probably be discovered and your boss will be more likely to fire you because your deception has led to a breach of trust.  Toyota Chairman Katsuaki Watanabe explains it best in an interview with Harvard Business Review:

“Hidden problems are the ones that become serious threats eventually. If problems are revealed for everybody to see, I will feel reassured. Because once problems have been visualized, even if our people didn't notice them earlier, they will rack their brains to find solutions to them.”

2. Give alternatives for how you think it can be resolved.

“I have a few suggestions for how to resolve it….” This part of the sentence shows them that you are coming up with options, not just the problem.  It shows that you have fully owned it and that you own the ripple effect.

3. Ask them for input and collaborate to build a solid plan.

“...And I am looking for your insights to build a plan that will bring us to resolution.”  This second part of the sentence encourages your boss to partner with you to solve it.

Your boss may have an initial reaction that seems negative.  However, the higher up you go in a large company, the higher the emotional intelligence tends to be.  So don’t be surprised if they regulate their emotions and even move towards protecting you, and showing you grace.

4. As you and your boss work to develop the plan, pay close attention to why your boss is suggesting what they are suggesting.

Hopefully, you will begin to brainstorm together as to how to handle the situation.  Your boss will want to hear your options first, which will help him/her to see your heart better.

Then your boss will probably refine the option they think is best.

Seek to understand the reasons for the suggestions they are giving you.  The “why” will give you insights that you will be able to use throughout your career.

You will learn how they view an issue, how to protect corporate culture, and, hopefully, how to extend grace when those under you fail.

Be sure to share how you plan to prevent yourself from making such a mistake again.  Never just say, “It won’t happen again.”

Ask for their input. You can say, “In the future I will pay attention to the triggers that led me to lose my cool” (preventative), but then ask if they see things you could do that would encourage growth, like signing up for a course on how to build better work-relationships, for example.

5. Afterward, continue to prove that you’ve grown from your mess-up.

Fully commit to implementing the plan you discussed.

Execute with all you have.

Use the insights that you learned in the brainstorming session in multiple contexts.

People who have grown from mistakes don’t live in self-condemnation.  Instead, they forgive themselves and enjoy the restoration they have been given.  Be grateful for it.  Share your gratitude with your boss and even others on the team, if it is appropriate to do so.

You are still competent and valuable.  You just screwed up and proved you are human.  Don’t be surprised if your boss and others pull closer to you as they see you display the humility and gratitude that come from growing through a mess-up.

You will rebuild credibility faster by having multiple small wins than one big win.  So don’t look for the home run; focus instead on consistent base hits.

As an FYI, the next time I met with my client, she said her boss had done the unexpected.  He really jumped in to protect her.  He was completely gracious and even shared one of his own big failures.

Chew On This:

  • What are you hiding that needs to be owned?  What would be the consequence if it were discovered?

 

 

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

Identifying Your Core Beliefs

IDENTIFYING YOUR CORE BELIEFS Have you ever seen a co-worker implode?  That is, really blow up their life?

How about the opposite?  Have you ever seen a co-worker push through difficulties and succeed in unexpected ways?

If you knew what led either to happen, you would know what drives them, and ultimately, you would discover what is at their very core.

How about yourself?  Do you know what led to your biggest failures and your biggest successes in the workplace and in life?

Although beliefs can be found at different levels, deep ones are called core beliefs.  There are very few of those--maybe just one or two--but they are responsible for most of the decisions you make.  You are just not aware of them because they are buried deep in the heart. Discovering our core beliefs can help us understand why we feel and behave the way that we do. It can also help us see our staff in a different light, recognizing that their behaviors are rooted in a deeper core belief that impacts the way they feel and behave, too.

How do you discover your core belief?  

You have to dive into a couple of areas:

  • Family-of-origin

If we got together the people you were raised with and asked a few questions, you will discover that there are belief themes that run through the family - even if each family member is very different.

How do you discover these?  Ask yourself what your family is about.  What matters most to them?  If they are threatened, do they jump into a state of alarm?  Let’s say a family seems to care a lot about what people think of them.  And let’s say we see some inordinately strong behaviors when their image is threatened. The next thing you want to ask yourself is, “What does their image represent to them?”  That’s where the belief is.  So it could be that they believe that if they look good to others then they will have:

  •     Security
  •     Love
  •     Acceptance
  •     Value
  •     Enjoyment
  •     Significance
  • Traumas/Milestones

The more emotionally intense a situation is, the more it impacts our beliefs.  When we go through an emotional trauma, we are so overwhelmed by the emotions running through our bodies that our brain can’t process it quickly enough.  While our brain may numb us out, or even in some cases knock us out, or form memory blocks, our heart seems to scream, “I will never face that pain again!”

The heart then sets up new “protective” beliefs to prevent us from getting into a scenario where we can face that kind of hurt again.  You can spot these protective beliefs because they often seem like an over-reaction.

For example, say a staff member is struggling with taking initiative on a project. If he has had experiences in the past where he has been rejected, shot down, or criticized for his assertiveness, his defense mechanism may be to passively accept others' suggestions. His “protective” belief looks like, “If I agree with others’ opinions, I will be accepted” and “If I take initiative, my team members will reject me.”

Belief changes are not always negative. I have seen others develop new beliefs when they push hard to accomplish a goal, and succeed. The “confidence” that results can be traced to a new belief that came through the experience of pushing themselves.

Once you have listed all the beliefs that you sense derive from your family, and the traumas/milestones in your experience,  then see if there is a belief that binds them all (cue the Lord of the Rings).  That could be the core belief.

Ultimately, recognizing our own core beliefs helps us better understand the way we operate in our workplace. As we explore the root of our core beliefs, we can identify areas where we primarily operate out of maladaptive beliefs. Is our need for approval rooted in a belief that we are never good enough? Is our superior attitude towards coworkers rooted in a belief that without power, we are worthless?

Not only does processing our beliefs help us better understand ourselves, it helps us better understand our staff, too. Recognizing that the behaviors we see are rooted in core beliefs that we cannot see helps us approach staff with grace and understanding. In the next blog, we will talk about how to deal with these core beliefs.

Chew On This:

  • If you wrote out your story and included your family of origin and traumas/milestones that you experienced, what would be the belief themes that come up for you?
  • How does becoming aware of your beliefs affect the way you view yourself and others in the workplace?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams. *This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

Five Small Steps to Get Your Passion Back

ryancbailey.com404-421-8120 Life has become a matter of existing.  It has become a matter of fulfilling obligations.  Joy is fleeting.  Passion is waning.

Here are 5 small steps to get your passion back:

  • Start a Gratitude Chronicle

One of the reasons why our drive diminishes is that we are so focused on the bad that we don’t take the time to see all the good that is happening around us.  We need a tool to remind ourselves to be grateful.

On a Google Doc or some other web-based word processing document, take a little bit of time every day to describe, in detail, one time when you were really grateful for something.  Perhaps you were incredibly grateful when a dark time ended, when you received a gift that really hit home, or when a deal landed “from out of nowhere."  Whatever the reason, write one story every day of a time when you felt grateful.

In order for this to work, you need to describe not only the facts of the story, but what you felt about those facts.

When you run out of stories, just start making lists of what you are grateful for.  Don’t take anything for granted (i.e. Did you sleep on a bed? Have you eaten?  Do you have decent clothes?). As you remember that you are not entitled to any of the things you have been given, your heart will start to melt.

Now, whenever you are starting to go negative, turn to your smartphone, bring up the document, and read some of the accounts of times when you were grateful.  Afterwards, take the occasion to add to your list the things you can be grateful for at that moment.

  • Simplify the business

Many business leaders have spent so much time putting out fires that they have “forgotten” why they got in the business in the first place.

What was your vision for your role when you first started?  Has your vision evolved?  Take small steps towards nailing your vision and you will see drive come back.

After nailing the vision, look at how you spent your time over the last week or two.  How much of that time was spent on the core part of that vision?

Have you been trading what is essential for what is urgent, but not essential?

It is time to get back to basics.  If you knew there would be no negative consequences to your spending the vast majority of time doing what you do best to drive the greatest results, how would you spend that time?

Now develop a transition plan to get there.  You will need to delegate, delete, diminish or delay certain tasks.  Get on it as fast as possible.

Know that something is going to have to drop.  Don’t let it be what is essential in favor of what is urgent.  Choosing the urgent is probably what zaps your energy the most.

Proceed with the transition in small steps.  See if you can free up just five minutes from the urgent to give back to the essential.  Once you start, it will be addicting.  You will become proactive, and most of your day will be spent building the business instead of putting out fires.

  • Really connect to others.

Here is a novel concept....  When was the last time you really connected at a heart level to someone else?  That is, you just let yourself be, and they let themselves be--no marketing.... no positioning.... no façades.... no hiding....  You just let yourself be.

For most of us, we have given up on having those types of relationships.  We are too busy.  We have too much anxiety.  We are scared of being judged.

If you are married, I bet deep down, your spouse longs for this with you.

If you are not married, who can you go deep with?

Once again, start small.  Don’t verbally vomit everything that you’ve been hiding.  Start with being real for a little bit with someone you want to get closer to.  See how they respond.  Once you get going you will find it refreshing.

  • Make time for once-loved hobbies.

What did you used to love to do that you have not done in awhile?  For me, it is tennis.  I used to play all weekend in my teens and 20’s.

What is a small step you can take to get that back in your life?  I have not touched a racquet in 10 years.  I can start by spending 5-10 mins per week hitting against a wall and building on that until I get my game back.  What’s your version?

Taking small steps is the key to getting your drive back.  Just five minutes will generate momentum to help you come back to life.

Chew On This:

  • Which of the five steps will you start with today?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.