Coaching: Happiness

It’s Friday again and that means it’s time for some introspection about taking charge of your own happiness. The happiness boosters shared this week – journaling, savoring happy memories, forgiveness and applying your strengths – are all areas that I personally exercise pretty regularly. I have to say I agree with the experts because doing so does increase my overall happiness. Now as you think about your own happiness, let’s close the week by moving through a mini coaching engagement. As always, I invite you to really think about and write down your answers.

Here we go…

At the very heart of the matter, what is your true belief about happiness? How much control do you think you really have? If you think your happiness is more about what happens to you than what you do, I hope you take the time to check out the research that supports the control we have – and then that you embrace it.

For those of you who know you have control and are ready to take a little more, let’s continue.

Which of the posts did you read this week and think, “Yeah, I should do some more of that?” As I wrote them I thought I could do more… so I’m guessing you can too.

What came to mind and what are you going to do about it? Start a blog (if you do, let me know!)? Create a new photo album? Spend a day forgiving the little transgressions? Taking the VIA Survey of Character Strengths to really figure out what your strengths are and then use them?

Or maybe all of the above?

Next week I’m going to reveal the happiness boosters that I need to work on and perhaps we can identify together a few more things to do to make ourselves happier.

Until then and always, I wish you every happiness.

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Use Those Strengths!

There’s no possible way to cover “applying your strengths” – another happiness booster outlined in Creating Your Best Life – in a single blog. As you may remember from the Discover Your Strengths post, strengths strengthen us and as a bonus, using them makes us happier.

One outcome of working within the area of your strengths is that you experience flow. Flow was first recognized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and is described as “the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.” (Wikipedia) You know it if you’ve been there. Maybe it happened when you were working on something and then – POW – suddenly it was dark out and you had no idea what the time was. That’s flow. And it makes you feel good.

Haven’t paid much attention to what your strengths are? Didn’t run right out and buy the books I recommended in the Discover Your Strengths post? OK, here’s another chance.

I’ve recently learned about the VIA Survey of Character Strengths survey; a simple and fairly quick assessment of strengths. Here’s how you can take it for yourself – for FREE! Navigate to www.authentichappiness.org and register for a free account. Once registered, check out the questionnaires and find the VIA Survey of Character Strengths (there’s a lot of other great stuff there, too). Answer the questions and there, you’re done.

Now that you have your top five strength areas, here’s a little exercise you can do that Caroline Adams Miller had us do as a part of our class. Think about a time when you used them all at once. For some people, this is a sort-of “mountain top” experience. For me, all of my strengths are used when I facilitate. Everyone’s assessment will, of course, be unique.

I know it’s not Friday but the coach in me just has to ask one more question! How can you get more use out of your strengths?

Think about it and let’s meet back here tomorrow…

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Daily Mercies

Isn’t it interesting that forgiveness can add to our happiness? I’ve tended to think of forgiveness primarily in the Forgiveness-with-a-capital-F sense and I don’t have to tell you that those times in our lives when we need to Forgive are not always the happiest. That said, thinking about it from the opposite side gives better perspective as it makes complete sense that withholding forgiveness would lead to unhappiness.

Aside from these life-altering forgiveness opportunities, I believe the forgiveness that brings deeper happiness is that which we choose daily – forgiveness-with-a-lower-case-f.

Think about these scenarios:

You are cut off in traffic. Do you forgive?

Your child breaks a glass while putting away the dishes. Do you forgive?

A co-worker rambles on in a meeting and the leader doesn’t rein her in. Do you forgive?

Your spouse forgets to stop for the dry cleaning on the way home from work. Do you forgive?

You miss your friend’s birthday because you are too wrapped up in your own stuff. Do you forgive yourself?

Would your life be happier if you did?

Bestowing daily mercies on those around us when they are simply showing their human selves allows us to be calm and understanding as we “walk a mile in their shoes.”

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Remember When?

With the Easter holiday came an opportunity to gather with family. These events always create memories (ours did!) and they also give us the chance to share and remember past memories as well.

Savoring happy memories is another happiness booster from Creating Your Best Life. When we were together this past Sunday, stories were told about Grandpa Joe, my son’s recent trip to Six Flags, and the details about my nephew’s wedding shower, to name a few. Next time we gather, we are sure to bring up that our puppy, Moose, grabbed a deviled egg from the serving plate as we gathered to say grace before our meal!

Remembering happy times simply makes us happy again. This is why we love photo albums and share our pictures online. This is why so much of our memory-making time with friends and family is spent reminiscing. This is why I recommended that you remember your very best times in “The Most Fun – EVER!” post last month.

Feeling a little down? Let your mind drift down memory lane. Pull out the albums. Click on “Photos” when you’re on Facebook. Call a friend and start the conversation with “remember when….”

I guarantee you’ll smile when you do.

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Pursuing Happiness

Is happiness something that you pursue? Or do you simply hope it happens to you?

If I look back and am honest, I think I’ve fallen more on the side of believing happiness happens. But lately I’ve been learning that happiness is something we have a lot of control over. All of us.

Caroline Adams Miller leads one of the classes I am currently enrolled in. She co-authored Creating Your Best Life with Dr. Michael B Frisch and the book is required reading for this particular class. To sum it up, it’s a book about being intentional about finding happiness which is, as I mentioned, shown through more and more research to be within our control.

As I finished reading though the section discussing proven happiness boosters – there are eight – I see about half that I’m doing; maybe not daily, but often. And there are four that I need to either pick up after a long hiatus, or simply start.

So this week I will start on the positive note of what I am doing to boost my happiness, beginning with journaling.

Augh, you say? Everyone says we should journal and it takes up so much time. Yeah, it does but yeah, it’s hugely beneficial.

Putting aside research – because you can do a quick search online and find plenty of material on that – I will tell you what journaling has done for me.

First, I note that I pick up the pen when I hit low-points in my life. I need to purge all that is going on in my head and when I do, I’m better for having done so.

Second, I find that I am more creative. Poems and ideas can be found in the margins as I brain-dump onto the pages.

And finally, I get the same benefit (maybe more) by blogging – my public journal. When I decided to blog I had no idea how much I’d enjoy it. I thought it might seem like work but really, it’s been fun and a great creative release.

So pick up a pen or start a new page in Word or OneNote and let it all out. It’s one thing to consider adding to your daily routine if you’re looking to increase the happiness in your life.

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50 Things You Need To Give Up Today

This week I shared a few valuable lessons I’ve learned from managers I’ve had – both good and bad. When this article came my way, I thought it was a perfect ending on the topic as so many good leaders practice what this list celebrates. If we can manage even half of them, we’ll all be better managers, spouses, friends, leaders, parents, people.

So the one coaching question for this week is: What are you going to give up today?

50 Things You Need To Give Up Today

Enjoy!

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Actionable Feedback

Earlier this week I linked back to an old article from Fast Company on How to Give Good Feedback. It’s a great reminder and yet, as I read through it again I felt like something was missing.

Feedback is most effective when it’s actionable.

Once when starting a job, I asked the question of my new manager what he thought would be the most difficult issue I’d have to face in my new role. His answer: that I am a woman.

I’ll give you a moment to pick up your jaw…

While that may have been true in that environment, it certainly wasn’t something that I could work on to improve or change! And I was so taken aback that I couldn’t readily come up with a more pointed question to get a better answer from him.

A less shocking example: recently I received an email that said something I was doing was “kinda weird.” Hmmmm… Pretty subjective for me to try to guess what I should do to make things less weird.

Giving feedback can be tough. I get that. But if you’re going to bother to put the facts out there, be sure it’s information that the recipient can do something about.

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Presenting Through The Fear

Like most everyone else in the world, I’m not a huge fan of speaking in front of a group of people. Sure, I’ve done it and it bothers me far less than it did earlier in my career. Working in the business I do, the chance to present comes up weekly and it’s just part of what I do now.

However, WHO is in the audience can make quite a difference, can’t it?

There was a time in my career when I built a team from scratch for a brand-new product. It was a really fun, really stressful time. I worked with a group of people who were smart and made me want to come to work every day. I was incredibly proud of the work we were doing and the team we built together.

In our small company, the work we were doing was pretty high profile and so the opportunity to present to our executives came up. I was asked to be a part of the presentation.

Agck!

I tried hard to get out of it, to delegate it anyone else. It was not something I wanted to do.

Then something shifted. The executive who I worked with most closely and who was coordinating who would be a part of the presentation said the following, “Carolyn, your team is doing such amazing work, don’t you owe it to them to represent them and their work to our leadership team? No one can do that like you because you are closest to the work and to the team.”

Wow. Yeah.

All of a sudden it didn’t seem that bad. When I focused on my team, talking about them and their great work, it became less about my fear and more about the true opportunity that it was.

I didn’t present perfectly (I never do!), but those execs left the room knowing that I lead a team of rock stars. And that was worth stepping through the fear.

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Digging In

It is so much better to learn something from someone’s good example (versus from the bad, shared in yesterday’s post). Luckily, I’ve had a few of those as well.

During the pause I took on my way to a college degree, I found myself working at Walmart. It was there that I began reporting to Kevin. Because it was Walmart, he’d been imported from another rectangular state to get his varied experience on his ladder climb. I think he was from Kansas but I remember a bit of a southern accent. I’m sure he wasn’t yet 30 but he seemed far more experienced and responsible than I felt at the time.

In one of our first meetings he said, “I won’t ever ask you to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.” And I thought, “Yeah, OK. We shall see…”

The store was new so we spent quite a few weeks building shelves and building out the placement for all the new merchandise. Throughout the entire process, Kevin taught us what he knew and showed us what to do in a hands-on way. Once we figured it out, he went on to do whatever management thing he needed to do, but he was always there with us when we had to get dirty or lift heavy merchandise or stay later than we would have liked.

His words have stuck with me all these years because they matched his actions. Delegating is an important part of managing. As managers, it’s incredibly important that we understand why delegation is taking place. Are duties being passed on because it will be a growing experience that will enrich the career of those who work for us? Or is it just something that we don’t want to do? When it falls into the latter bucket, the person who has been assigned the project knows. When it’s happened to you, you knew.

So what to do with those tasks that nobody wants to do that really need to get done? When possible, get in there and get your hands dirty, do the heavy lifting – and when your team has it under control, step away. Always remember to thank them and remind them of the importance of their work to your business as you do.

When you’re willing to dig in with them, I promise that they’ll remember it… perhaps for years to come.

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Give Feedback

Many leadership lessons learned come early, long before business people take the mantle of leadership on for themselves. When I was a teen I had the opportunity to work for my dad on the farm from time to time; however, when I turned 16 I found my first “real” job at the local small-town drug store.

I did the usual stuff – stocked shelves, dusted, ran the cash register. I was 16, so I talked to my friends when they came in and may have been less than industrious when it came to activities to do with my time when the to-do list was complete. I learned a few things and did my job.

Then came my first review.

Turns out my manager wasn’t thrilled with me. To this day I can’t tell you what it was that I wasn’t doing right. What I can tell you is that whatever it was, it wasn’t that big of a deal, it was something I could change immediately, and my manager had held onto the information that I wasn’t doing it right for months.

I quit within two weeks.

At 16 I knew what I’m assuming that manager likely doesn’t know to this day – there should never be a surprise when it comes to a performance review. As leaders, we’ve just got to give it people straight. They deserve that.

And if you’re not a manager, it goes the other way too. Waiting to share your gripes on a manager feedback form when you haven’t had the conversation about how that person can improve isn’t very fair, either.

While the incident was frustrating at the time, it taught me a valuable lesson early in my working life. Be open. Be honest. Be courageous. Tell people what they need to know to be successful. Holding on to constructive feedback because the conversation will be difficult hurts the other person in the long run. And if they leave, it can hurt you, your team, and your company, too.

Be brave. Give feedback.

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Post script: For more information on how to give feedback, check out this old-but-not-dated article from Fast Company, How to Give Good Feedback.

Coaching: Scheduling

Scheduling is not sexy. I knew that the posts this week would likely not be as inspiring as those on balance, relationships or stress. But scheduling is what ensures our balance. Scheduling creates time for important relationships. A well-managed schedule reduces stress. The discipline of owning our schedules instead of letting them own us is often what needs to be brought into play as a first step in gaining control in many, many areas of life. With that thought in mind, let’s close the week by moving through a mini coaching engagement. As always, I invite you to really think about and write down your answers.

Here we go…

When was the last time you considered your schedule? How often do you pay attention to time you have planned for friends, family or yourself? If you haven’t been paying attention (or if one of these areas has been neglected), pick one – friends, family or you – to focus on in the next two weeks. What will be your first step to get more time allocated to this priority? When can you make that happen?

And then there is your overall schedule. How purposeful are you in choosing what you do every day? How often do you say “yes” to whatever lands in front of you without giving it much thought? What would happen if you paused before saying “yes?” In that pause, think about what purpose it would serve to have that event/meeting/gathering on your calendar. No purpose? I challenge you to say “no.”

I wish you a weekend – and a lifetime, for that matter – filled with friends, family and a little time for yourself. Live with purpose and remember, as Stephen Covey has said, the key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

Related Posts
Scheduling with Purpose
Scheduling Friends
Making Time for Family

http://carolynbaana.com/2011/04/14/add-some-white-space/

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Add Some White Space

White space. Do you have any on your calendar?

Or are you constantly running from one meeting to another; one event to another?

More importantly, when white space shows up on your calendar, how does it make you feel? Do you welcome and embrace the downtime? Or do you see it as space that needs to be filled?

We must quiet our minds and give ourselves time to think. More often than not, to really make it happen, this time must be scheduled. It must also be – and I don’t think this word is too strong – sacred. Uninterrupted. Yours alone.

In Creating a Charmed Life, Victoria Moran advocates “taking ten” each day, stating that “the surest way to access [your] energy… is through silence, through taking a specified amount of time each day for mediation, prayer, journal writing, or inspirational reading.” Later she continues, “Even if your busyness tells you that you can’t afford to take quiet time, know that you can’t afford not to.”

Elaine St. James devotes the chapter “Do Nothing” to a similar concept in Simplify Your Life as well. She shares that learning to do nothing is actually a skill that must be learned; that it isn’t as easy as one might think. Different from Moran, she suggests this time be without books or writing and that “the idea is just to be with whatever is going on in your head without having to do anything about it.”

On a bigger scale, Bill Gates has famously taken time away from work, family and friends for his twice yearly Think Week. Michael Karnjanaprakorn’s blog on his own Bill Gate’s inspired personal retreat outlines how the practice of time away, alone, can change perspective and even career direction.

I’ve been good at taking my vacation time but I’m not always very good at sitting still with myself – even for just the ten minutes that Moran suggests, let alone a whole week away.

But I’m thinking it might be time to make time for some precious white space on my calendar.

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Making Time for Family

Yesterday I sort of made it sound like family can get in the way of scheduling time with friends. Well, it’s true. The irony is that family can also get in the way of making time for… family. I’ll write today from the perspective of a mom; however, the same holds true when it comes to a spouse, our parents or our siblings.

Anyone with kids in the house knows the havoc they can raise with calendaring. Track Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Choir Tuesday. Bowling Thursday. Drums Monday. Camp in the summer. Then pepper in additional meets, tournaments, concerts, birthday parties, conferences, and more. Sometimes with all that going on, it can be hard to make time for your family when you’re spending all that time with your family.

While it might seem counterintuitive, it does make sense to schedule time with family. I know – it feels like you’re with them all the time! But are you really? Or are the kids looking at the back of your head from the back seat of the car more than they are looking at you from across the dinner table?

Weekly schedules are crazy, no doubt, so I happen to favor the family vacation to grab that “quality” time that eludes us otherwise. If money is tight, we camp or visit family. But we always make time for a vacation of some sort at least once a year. It doesn’t have to be extravagant and it can be close to home, we just need to make it happen or we lose touch with one another, it seems.

As I write this I’m reminded of last summer when our older son worked out of sync with our weekend summer plans. About half-way through the summer I realized that we weren’t going to get that time together at all if I didn’t take action! I asked him to request a long weekend off so we could simply hang out at the lake. Something we’d taken for granted all those years before. Now we had to make time.

I wish I could tell you that we were good about family dinners. Most of the time we manage a 75% success rate with me occasionally begging for 100% participation – or it happening unexpectedly to my surprise! When it does happen, all electronics are required to be off, other distractions set aside, and everyone has to sit at the table.

Even if it’s just 10 minutes, I’ll take what I can get.

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Scheduling Friends

Back before my career was in full swing, before we had two kids and three dogs, when we rented and only had one car, finding time with our friends came easily.

But then those things did come in; they were welcomed in, really. Unfortunately the first things that get squeezed out as more and more “adult” stuff enters in, are friends. Can you relate?

As mentioned earlier in My Balanced Life when I pretty strongly stated “I will not forgo girlfriend time, ever,” prioritizing time with friends is a priority. Several years ago I began meeting with a group of friends on a standing day each month. I think over the course of the almost 15 years we’ve met, we’ve only canceled once. Of course, I haven’t been there every time – but the show goes on because the time together is scheduled.

Friendship nourishes our souls, enriches our beings and brings in much needed laughter. If it’s been a long time since you’ve just hung out with a few buddies, it’s time to get them in the calendar! Here are a few tips of how I personally make it happen:

    Join a group that has a regularly scheduled time to meet – important, this group should be to meet up with friends… not just where you show up in the back of the room and sneak out when it’s over. C’mon, sign up for that dance class!
    If you don’t have some time set up to meet someone for coffee, lunch or a round of golf showing up on your calendar in the next two weeks, fire off some emails to a few of your favorite people. I have never had someone turn me down. In some instances it has taken months to sync our schedules, but we eventually figure it out.
    If you are part of a couple, set up a double-date with friends. You used to do this all the time! Get a sitter and get out there.

However you do it, prioritize some friend time. I promise you, it will be worth it.

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Related Post
Planned Fun

Scheduling with Purpose

Doesn’t it seem like there’s a ton of focus on finding our purpose as of late? A quick “purpose” search on Amazon.com will bring back over 33,000 results. Discover your purpose. Awaken your purpose. Find your purpose. Pursue your purpose.

All this sounds great, but the most significant wisdom I found about purpose is this: if we find purpose in what we do, we live with purpose.

Think about it.

I did. And then I discussed it with my coach. What would a day look like if I found purpose in every single thing I did?

From that discussion I set out with a plan to find purpose in each thing I did in one day. I made a list with the day’s meetings in one column and then listed my purpose in them in the other.

If you do this, something different might happen for you. Two cool things happened for me. First, as I went into each meeting knowing my purpose and why I was there, I was FAR more present than had the day simply happened to me. I was engaged. I had a reason to be there and I knew what it was.

The second thing that happened is that I found a few things where I couldn’t find my purpose in being there. Just like that a recurring 90 minute meeting dropped off my calendar and I was in pursuit of finding the right person to take my place. I simply wasn’t the one to add value in that environment. Knowing that I didn’t really have a reason to take part helped relieve any guilt I might have had if I would have simply dropped the meeting in another context. It also made it pretty easy to explain my decline.

Unfortunately I’ve done this pretty infrequently; however, I can see where there would be benefit in this level of examination every day – or at least at the start of the work week (hey, that’s today!).

I need to go find a pen and some paper…

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Coaching: Creating Stress

So often the focus of articles and discussions is around how to relieve stress. To mix it up a bit, this week’s posts were dedicated to taking a look at how we might actually create stress – for ourselves and even worse, for others. Now that these posts have gotten you to think about how stress could be prevented, let’s close the week by moving through a mini coaching engagement. As always, I invite you to really think about and write down your answers.

Here we go…

First, when thinking about how you spin up your own stress: how quickly do you jump to being irritated? How do you feel justified in your anger, venting or frustration? How often does that work for you?

More importantly, how often do you regret your reaction? If your reflection here causes you to think that maybe you are too quick to move into that stressful spot, what can you do to change that?

Or perhaps you’re dwelling on some past stress and bringing it into each day. What is the benefit? How can you find a positive to focus on instead of the negative memories that still bring stress to you? One “trick” I often use for this is asking myself “What did I learn from this?” We can learn from any event and usually the learning is positive. If you phase the lesson negatively (example: I learned that I should trust no one) how can you turn that around to something more positive or at least neutral (I learned that in my relationships trust needs to be earned, not given).

Now the harder part; let’s focus on how you might be creating stress for others.

Posts this week mentioned un-filtered flame-mail and relieving stress by dumping ours on someone who can’t do anything with it… but there are a LOT of ways we create stress for others beyond this. Perhaps one of these posts spoke to you and if not, I would still bet you’ve got something you’re doing to get someone else’s blood pressure to climb. Take a moment to think through the last few days to identify when you created undue stress for someone else.

As you examine the situation, what could you have done different? What can you implement as a reminder to react or act differently next time? If it’s something you do pretty regularly, how will you know when you’ve really changed your behavior? What will people say about it? Who can you ask to watch you and hold you accountable, if necessary?

So yes, relieving stress is important. If in addition to this we choose to avoid stress in the first place, the dividends show up beyond lower stress levels and can include improved relationships and recognition of life lessons we can use going forward.

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Related Posts
That Passenger
Take My Stress, Please
Don’t Look Back
An Old Sticky Note

An Old Sticky Note

This little sticky-note has been within sight of my laptop for about a decade. At first it was actually sticky and it rode along with my laptop wherever it went. When the sticky gave out, the little hole on the left side was made when it was attached to my bulletin board. Lately it’s just been lying on my desk. Through all that it’s accompanied me on several moves from office to cube to office and from Fargo to Munich and back.

You see, there was a time when I, as one colleague of mine put it, wrote “a passionate email.” Often. I’m not sure if I sent full-on flame-mail; however, I would definitely not shy away from telling someone via email what I thought and particularly if I thought they were screwing up somehow. It’s probably fair to say that my messages stressed a few people out.

Then (thankfully!) this little nugget was presented to me. We tend to do the opposite, don’t we? On the negative side, when we’re upset it’s easier to send a nasty-gram instead of picking up the phone or engaging with the person directly. Easier, but never more productive. It nearly goes without saying that when we discuss something in real time, we’re simply nicer.

On the positive side, the tendency is to give a verbal thank you. You’ll find no argument here that verbal thanks are nice; however, written thanks can be held, cherished, and read over again when the spirit needs lifting. How much more powerful that is!

So take on the challenge and be brave enough to talk to people you have disagreements with. Take the time to write a thank you when someone does something fabulous. Yeah, both are a little “old school.” But some ideas are timeless.

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Don’t Look Back

It might come as a surprise, but there are times when I’m at a loss as to what I’m going to write about in the week ahead. I’ve brainstormed a list a mile long but I have to feel it, too. So most of my topics haven’t come from that list at all….

It was during this weekend ritual of deciding where I will go for the week that I decided to go back to my “morning pages” from when I went through The Artist’s Way a few years ago. It’s sort of a journal; sort of a brain dump. I thought something from my past would inspire me.

Wow. No.

I should have known. That time in my life was more of a time of recovery than a time of inspiration. But I had forgotten because I’d already rewritten history.

As Sara L. Orem, Jacqueline Binkert and Ann L. Clancy discuss in Appreciative Coaching: A Positive Process for Change:

Time is a shared perception of reality that can differ depending on culture, society, and family. Individuals experience time differently depending on circumstances. Because it is subject to reinterpretation, the past is as dynamic as the present and future. [emphasis mine]

You see, the past can be rewritten. And when it should be and has successfully been revised, don’t unnecessarily journey there again. In this instance, there’s no benefit to me if I relive the stress and unhappiness of that time in my life. The rewritten version draws on the parts where I was content and happy – even if those moments were fewer than I now remember.

Dredging up stressful memories creates stress. Remembering the good stuff helps us to move forward.

Don’t look back.

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Take My Stress, Please

Earlier in my career I had the opportunity to lead a team as the company I worked for and the product we focused on went through tremendous changes. As is often the case in situations like this, I occasionally knew more about what was “going on” than they did. My desire to be transparent was strong – I certainly didn’t want my team thinking I was holding information back from them during such a critical time.

It was during this time that I learned a new piece of vital information. So vital that now I can’t recall what it was – but it was probably pretty important stuff at the time. The information came from an executive who was not my boss but should have been given the level of accountability that I had to him and his organization. The source was sound and the information was true.

I’m sure that as I listened the impact to my team played in my head and I likely began to stress a bit about it. We had a close working relationship so I’m also pretty sure I would have expressed that to him as well. Regardless, at some point in the conversation I asked if I could share the information with my team…

Then came his words of wisdom.

He said that I could. After granting permission, he added this: Carolyn, you can share the information but understand why you are doing so. Does your team need to know or is this a way to relieve your own stress?

Sometimes when we “share information” during times of stress we are doing so selfishly. Turns out that transparency is not always a gift and one should weigh the benefits of a team or individual holding that new information. Will it change anything for them? Could it potentially make things worse if they knew – either personally or professionally? Do they really need to know? Or will it simply make you feel better to have it released from your mind to theirs?

Of course, many times the answer is that the information should be shared. But if you’ve asked these questions, you’ll know that at least the probable stress is being created for a reason beyond simply relieving your own anxiety.

The bottom line is this: if you’re going to create stress for someone else, it’s always good to be mindful of exactly what you are doing and why.

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That Passenger

Sitting in the airport at MSP waiting for my last flight to DFW, an announcement was made that the flight would be delayed. No specific time was stated – just that the plane we needed to get on hadn’t arrived from its destination yet.

In the waiting area was That Passenger. He began to huff and talk loudly toward his wife but really more to all of us in the waiting area. He complained about the airline. He moaned about the ineffective customer service staff. In the meantime, the couple he was with quietly approached the service counter, arranged something with the representative, and then they all went off – That Passenger crabbing loudly still as they walked away.

Soon the plane arrived and the group came back again. They stood at the front of the line before their loading zone was called so that everyone else had to work their way around them as they boarded. Grumbling the entire time…

As I watched I was reminded of how much of our own stress we sometimes create. The facts of the situation didn’t change in spite of anyone’s response. All that That Passenger’s antics did was up his own blood pressure and create a stressful environment for all of us around him.

So yeah, we did get off to a late start with many apologies from the airline staff along the way.

And we landed in Dallas on time.

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