Adapt or Go Back?

dreamstimefree_40306Someone changed my default browser. I’m usually pretty adaptable, but I have to tell you – this has thrown my game off a bit this week.  This new browser doesn’t know me and, therefore, doesn’t know my passwords.  Of course, I don’t know my passwords either – because my other browser knows them for me.

And no, I haven’t changed it back.  It’s bugging me but I haven’t done anything about it.  Certainly I’m technical enough to make the switch.  The thing is, I don’t know why it was changed.  Of course, I also keep forgetting to ask because it’s only on my mind when I click on a link from an email….  I also haven’t decided to adapt to the change.

I bring this up because it got me thinking about change and adaptability.  Sometimes there are little things we have complete control over that we let get under our skin.  We spend time irritated with the disruption and maybe with the person we see as the cause of the change and yet take no action to relieve our own discomfort.

So I’m going to change the browser back to what it was (family, you’ve been warned) and I’m also going to pay attention to see if there are other things in my life that I’m treating this way.  What else is bothering me that I could do something about and haven’t?  Where am I unnecessarily seeing myself as a victim?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a computer setting to change.

Moving Beyond Setback

We know we should be resilient; pick ourselves up after a setback and move forward.  Carry on.

When it comes right down to it, what exactly does this MEAN?  If you’re like me, you may find checklists and action steps to be very helpful.  When I’m feeling lousy and wanting more to wallow in a little self-pity than to truly move ahead, being told what to do next can be beneficial.

It’s because of this that I found the 10 Ways to Deal with Setbacks article from TechRepublic to be sound advice.  Below are suggestions regarding what to do when failure has come knocking at your door.  As the article says – tips for prevailing even when things go wrong.

  • Step back and reflect
  • Find a confidante
  • Stay positive
  • Focus on the future more than the past
  • Learn from the experience
  • Be careful regarding blame
  • Find a way to benefit
  • Write about your experience
  • Teach others
  • Remember that failure isn’t final

Yes, it’s definitely easier to read the list than to actually do it all.  But then, wallowing in self-pity isn’t a compelling option, either.  Taking each one, one step at a time, will help you move forward after a setback and will assist your efforts to progress past any setback.

Find Your Creativity

This week has brought with it a bit of writer’s block.  Thankfully, with it also came this week’s theme: creativity.  You see, when we are backed into a corner, restricted, or even bored or tired, these are the times when our creativity comes out of nowhere.

It’s like the experience we’ve all had of our best ideas occurring while in the shower.  When we give up the hope of figuring out how to come up with a solution – when we stop thinking about it directly and let our creative side come at it from a different angle – then we often are blessed with a solution to what seemed to be an unsolvable problem.

When I hit the bottom of the idea barrel, I took a second look and found creativity there.  Even if you aren’t writing a blog every day, you may have a circumstance at work or at home where you also feel completely out of ideas.

Reach in and find your creativity.

Coaching: Luck

Are you ready to be a little luckier?  See more serendipity?  Take advantage of chance?  As the Roman dramatist, philosopher, and politician Seneca said: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.  Today we’ll think about how we can better prepare to be lucky.

Here we go….

How have you been “lucky” in the past?  What would the outcome have been if you hadn’t been prepared to grab your good fortune?  How did your choices make the difference?  What can you learn from that experience?

When you look at your goals, what kind of luck do you need to achieve them?  Is there a certain person you should meet?  A place you should visit?  An experience you need to have?  How can you prepare for the opportunity before it presents itself so you’re ready when it comes?  What is the possibility of moving yourself into Luck’s path sooner versus later?

How do you respond to events that happen to you?  Are they problems or opportunities?  What if you shifted negative thoughts instead to curiosity, persistence, flexibility, optimism and risk-taking?  How would that change things for you?

Are you open to being lucky?

Yes, I’m a coach ~ and I’m also a keynote speaker, retreat planner and business consultant as well.  Learn more about the services I offer by navigating to my company website, Breakthrough Strategies.

Mood Boosters

In support of this week’s suggestions that you can, and should, choose to be in a good mood, here are a few ways find your way out of the doldrums.

  • Music.  This post in PSYBlog shares all the ways music can lift our mood.  But you knew this one, didn’t you?
  • Physical exercise.  A search on “Exercise and Mood” will return thousands of results supporting that exercise makes for a better mood.  One of my favorites is this one from USA Today citing research that found that the good mood created by exercise actually sticks around for up to 12 hours.  12 hours!
  • Pick up (or click on) a photo album.  Caroline Adams Miller shares in Creating Your Best Life that savoring happy memories makes us happy.  This one is great because so many of our happy memories are easily retrievable now on our phones or on Facebook.  And who can stay grumpy when the faces of our loved ones are smiling at us?
  • Smile.  “According to many experts, smiling may not only be an outward manifestation of a happy feeling. It may actually be able to cause a happy feeling. It’s the exact opposite of how most people see the smile-happiness connection, but with a growing body of evidence supporting the effect, it seems there may be something to it.”  Does Smiling Make You Happy? ~TLC
  • Figure out what is within your control.  As mentioned on Monday, discovering what we are able to control and taking steps toward getting there provides a sense of direction and tosses worry out the window.

There are many, many more ways to boost your mood.  Figure out what works for you and do it next time a bad mood comes around.

You can find all books mentioned in this blog online at the Coach Carolyn Store.

Are You Stuck in a Moment?

It can be nearly impossible to perform at our best if we’re not committed to moving forward and excelling in our careers. Thinking about this again reminded me of a post from July…

Stuck In A Moment

You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it

Stuck in a Moment ~U2

As melodies from my favorite band played through my head after an incredible rain-drenched concert at the TCF Stadium on Saturday, it occurred to me that being stuck in a moment can be every bit as damaging to a career as being burned out.

Yes, I am always looking for lessons in odd places.

Perhaps you are comfortable where you are – and have been for quite a while. I’ve watched people comfortably stay where they are until their job becomes redundant or obsolete, after which they have been walked to the door, holding their career in a box.

I’ve also watched people stuck in a moment of grandeur, unable to leave a team or a company where accolades were showered on them… years ago. Hoping to capture the same feelings and success, they stay where they are while others move on to find success again somewhere else.

And then there are those who become stuck in their learning, not moving on to try new things, adapt to new circumstances, or learn a new technology. Other, often younger, co-workers blow by these individuals because they think they know enough due to title, age or degree.

Stuck in a moment?

Don’t be. Move on.

It’s just a moment
This time will pass

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Coaching: Engagement

According to the Blessing White study mentioned earlier this week, employees are engaged when they can agree with these statements: “I like my work and I do it well,” and “I help achieve the goals of my organization.”  The more strongly one feels these to be true, the more engaged he or she is apt to be.

So how engaged are you?  Let’s dig a little deeper to see if more engagement is possible.

Here we go…

Think about your engagement level at work. As you do, imagine a scale from zero to 10 where 10 represents coming into work every day loving it, doing well and achieving organizational goals. Zero is where you are walking out the door, retired in place, an empty suit. Where are you now?

Any 10s out there?  Good for you!  For the rest… As we learned earlier this week, we cannot expect our employer to provide an exact set of tasks or conditions to fit our personal definition of meaningful work.  What would it take to move your engagement one point up the scale?  How will you take action?  Can you make a change next week?  By when?

What does “upping your game” look like for you?  Where are you coasting?  Bored?  Avoiding engagement?  What difference would it make if you engaged in these areas?  If you can’t see yourself getting engaged, what makes you show up at all?  What activity would serve you better?

And finally, how sure are you that you are being productive?  How often are you guilty of doing something – anything – just to make it appear that you are working hard?  What if you actually worked hard instead?

Being fully engaged takes work.  It isn’t something that simply happens to us.  When we take control, are clear on our values and goals, and move confidently toward our success, we can find a place of engagement.  And that’s good for us as well as any organization of which we are a part.

Traveling Mercies

I’m on vacation this week – spending time in New Mexico with family.  Anytime we travel with others, and perhaps even when by ourselves, there are a few intangibles we need to pack.  Among those, patience and presence.

From time to time I’ve mentioned that my posts are written for me as well.  As I spend time on the road I’ve reminded myself to practice patience.  I’m quite sure others are offering their patience to me; I need to do the same for them.

Being authentically present is also incredibly important.  Not only in conversation but in finding peace in each moment I find myself in… some of my own choosing and some which are not.

I’m having a marvelous time on a trip I will always remember.  Hope you are making memories this week as well.

Until Monday…

Willpower – Why Bother?

No doubt that a few of you looked at the title of yesterday’s post and thought, “Willpower?  She’s going to post about willpower?  Think I’ll skip to next week…”

Like you, I was once someone who thought that I didn’t have much willpower and so I sometimes felt like I didn’t have control over certain aspects of my life.  Now I know differently.  Willpower is a muscle that can be flexed, trained and developed.  Sure, some individuals might be born with more willpower than others.  However, that doesn’t give the rest of us an excuse to ignore ours altogether.

But why not?  What difference does it make whether we consciously pay attention to willpower or not?  Turns out there are all sorts of reasons that we should.  Drawing from Creating Your Best Life, here are a few examples of what happens when self-control is ignored:

  • A Pennsylvania State University study of preschoolers in a Head Start program found that a child’s inability to control impulsive responses or pay attention led to later difficulties in educational settings, and particularly in math.
  • Teens and adults with poor self-control are more prone to problem drinking, eating disorders, criminal behavior, out-of-wedlock births, and substance abuse problems.
  • A lack of self-regulation among adults often results in poor work performance and fewer promotions.
  • Low self-control is linked to poor interpersonal relationships, lack of popularity, and aggressive behavior throughout life.
  • Anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and other psychological disorders are more prevalent among people with low self-control.

Conversely, when we tap into our willpower, we can see amazing benefits.

  • More resilience and ease coping with set-backs
  • Better performance in school and at work
  • Enhanced popularity and peer trust
  • More empathy for others
  • Less likelihood of feeling shame and more likelihood of experiencing appropriate guilt when necessary and taking steps to right wrongs instead of blaming others for shortcomings
  • Fewer eating disorders, substance-abuse problems, and other addictive behaviors
  • Greater ability to save more money and spend less impulsively
  • More success in accomplishing goals that involve willpower, such as weight loss, smoking cessation, and fitness improvements

So more willpower is good, right?  How do we go about increasing what we’ve got?  More on that tomorrow…

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Accepting Generosity

For you...

How well do you accept generosity when it’s offered to you?

In his book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi outlines rejections of offers he’s given: “Sorry, but I can’t accept the favor because I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to repay you,” and “I’d rather not be obligated to anyone, so I’ll have to pass.”  Really?  From this vantage point, the idea of people rejecting an offer from a networking guru seems like a bad career move.  Obviously, it can be difficult for some people to accept the generosity of others.

In networking, when helping others, when being offered assistance, we all need to quit keeping score.

I remember a time when I was young and felt I was doing a lot of giving in my relationships and not getting much in return.  Being young and rash, my reaction was to pull back and quit giving so much. (Or what I perceived to be as “so much!”)  What resulted was that relationships began to fizzle and so I returned to giving… whether the offer was accepted or the favor returned.  I learned that being generous in my relationships felt better to me than being stingy.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, being generous has the power to make us happy.  I’d add that this power diminishes when we begin to keep score.  After all, generosity is “giving freely without expecting anything in return.”  Keeping score makes it something other than generosity, by definition.

Confidently accepting the generosity of others and anticipating that they expect nothing in return frees us to return to them the gift they are most likely looking to receive: appreciation.

Accept generosity.  With gratitude.

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Worried? Happiness and Success Are Up to You

I had a bit of writer’s block today and so I returned to my list of topics that I brainstormed into existence when I first started blogging.  The very first word on the top of the list is “worry,” and I find that incredibly interesting given what’s going on in the world today.

As I write this, the stock market has recovered a little bit from its 350-point plunge on news of S&P lowering the U.S. credit rating – and now Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, too.  Gold is around $1700 an ounce.  The value of oil is dropping.  Who knows where this day may end up financially.

And then I found this gem…

“If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.”  ~E. Joseph Cossman

Well.  I, for one, have no idea what I was worrying about a year ago.  But I know it was important.  It must have been, right?

I don’t mean to downplay the very real losses that will occur for people today (or the very real gains, for those who’ve invested in gold).  However, as has been posted here before, this too shall pass.

I’m reminded of a grocery store in St. Paul, Minnesota, that has the year it opened on its sign – smack in the middle of the Great Depression.  I love the optimism and hope that the original owners must have shown in the midst of a time when conventional wisdom would have likely said they should wait.

Perhaps today’s events have you re-thinking your plans.  If so, remember that in every economic downturn…

Businesses are started.

Houses are sold.

Homes are built.

People get married.

Babies are born.

Education is earned.

People are hired.

Whatever it is you are dreaming about – it can happen.  Nothing’s changed: it’s still up to you.

Stuck in a Moment

You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it

Stuck in a Moment ~U2

As melodies from my favorite band played through my head after an incredible rain-drenched concert at the TCF Stadium on Saturday, it occurred to me that being stuck in a moment can be every bit as damaging to a career as being burned out.

Yes, I am always looking for lessons in odd places.

Perhaps you are comfortable where you are – and have been for quite a while. I’ve watched people comfortably stay where they are until their job becomes redundant or obsolete, after which they have been walked to the door, holding their career in a box.

I’ve also watched people stuck in a moment of grandeur, unable to leave a team or a company where accolades were showered on them… years ago. Hoping to capture the same feelings and success, they stay where they are while others move on to find success again somewhere else.

And then there are those who become stuck in their learning, not moving on to try new things, adapt to new circumstances, or learn a new technology. Other, often younger, co-workers blow by these individuals because they think they know enough due to title, age or degree.

Stuck in a moment?

Don’t be. Move on.

It’s just a moment
This time will pass

Ebb and Flow

I’m thinking about change and how it is, as they say, the only constant. How even as things stay sort of the same, they also aren’t quite as they were. And how the human self is conditioned to roll with so many ebbs and flows over time.

The reason change is on my mind is because I’m contemplating a few – and a few are happening to me as well. I downloaded an app to keep track of what I eat and how much I exercise in hopes that my physique will change. My oldest son is moving out of the house in a few days which will definitely change how it feels in our home. I’ve figured out my coaching niche and I need to change how I “market” myself – including new updates to my website. I have a hair appointment next week and I’m wondering if I should keep a short style or grow my hair out. I think the living room might be ready for a furniture update…

If your brain works a little like mine, you understand when I say that this list of changes could go on and on. And on.

“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.” ~Bruce Barton

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Coaching: Ambiguity

How does your discomfort with uncertainty hold you back?

Is it the little things mentioned in the Are You Game? and Gefährlicher Steig begehen auf eigene Gefahr! posts? Perhaps your rigid adherence to a schedule doesn’t allow for you to recognize opportunities to have fun, play and connect with others. As you think back through the last few days, how often did you allow your time to be interrupted for an unscheduled conversation with a friend, a board game with your favorite12-year-old, or a last-minute coffee date with your spouse? How acceptable does that feel to you? What can you do to recognize those chances to enrich your life when you can, every time you can?

Or perhaps you do find ways to go-with-the-flow in the every day stuff; it’s the big things that leave you paralyzed. How long has it been since you considered a new career? When was the last time you learned something new? When you look at your future, what feels a little scary? And when thinking about that sort-of scary thing, how can you work toward the end goal with innovation, experimentation and play?

Think about how many times the unexpected has resulted in a great memory or a great opportunity. As you dwell on those memories, I’m just thinking one thing…

If ambiguity and uncertainty brought good things in the past, what’s keeping you from embracing them now?

Bring on the ambiguity, uncertainty, and change! They are where the adventure lies!

Gefährlicher Steig begehen auf eigene Gefahr!

I’m going to mix it up a bit today as this post is a bit of a picture story. Monday’s topic, Tuesday’s picture and the mentioning in yesterday’s post of our time in Germany all worked together to surface this story.

We were on our way to Garmisch-Partenkirchen to spend a day in the German Alps. We’d been there before but managed to take a wrong turn and, adapting to the situation we found ourselves in, stopped in the lovely little village of Ettal.

Ettal is home to the Ettal Abbey, where monks have been residing and making amazing German beer for centuries. We had lunch, toured the abbey and then, since our original intent had been to do a little mountain climbing, we eyed the mountains surrounding Ettal.

I can’t remember, but we must have had a map to know to wander off through a field to get to the path up the mountain. Once we arrived at the base of the mountain we observed this sign.

Not knowing German we thought, “Hmmmm… wonder what that means,” and ventured on.

During our climb we found we needed to use metal ropes embedded in the rocks (I look a little worried here, don’t I?)…

And even a ladder that someone had brought up the mountain to navigate the trail!

About halfway up the assent, we met fellow hikers coming down from the summit. They informed us that we wouldn’t make it up and back down before sunset and that we should probably pack it in.

Disappointed,

we enjoyed the view we had at that point (wow!),

took some pictures…

and then headed back down.

Curious as we again passed the above-mentioned sign, we took a picture so we could look up the meaning when we got home. Turns out it means: Commit dangerous climb at your own risk! Being that we all survived the risk, we laughed about our ignorance. And still do.

We had an amazing day that we’ll all remember for a lifetime. We adapted to our own mix-up. We took advice from experts to ensure our safety. We used the tools given to us to navigate the trail. That said, I’m not sure what lesson can be learned from ignoring the sign along the way.

But I’m sure glad we did.

Welcoming Ambiguity

How comfortable are you with ambiguity? Where resilience is how we respond to that which has already happened, ambiguity is more about not really knowing what’s going to happen… and then figuring out a way to be OK with that uncertainty.

Personally, I enjoy a bit of ambiguity. I see it as an opportunity to be creative and to operate without rules. When an ambiguous path is in front of me, I love to simply forage on through the weeds to figure out where this newly broken trail will lead.

So what’s the advantage, if any, of being OK with ambiguity? In preparing for this topic I found research done by David Wilkinson presented in his book The Ambiguity Advantage: What Great Leaders Are Great At. And while I haven’t had the chance to read the book, I did find some interesting pieces on his blog. The first being this quote:

“Ambiguity, risk and uncertainty scream out for their bedfellows; innovation, experimentation and play.” David Wilkinson

This succinctly describes the benefit of being comfortable with ambiguity. It is an uncertain environment that allows for innovation, experimentation and play. All good things, of course, found riding beside things as uncomfortable as ambiguity, risk and uncertainty. Interesting juxtaposition.

Don’t know what’s going to happen next? Perhaps it’s time for a reminder: this place of uncertainty is where your creative self is allowed to move, to be brilliant, and to have a little fun. In accepting the creative potential of an ambiguous moment we can welcome the growth in the situation instead of embracing the fear of the unknown.

Are You Game?

How do you respond to life’s changes? I’m not talking about big stuff like selling your house, your young adult leaving home, or placing a parent in assisted living. I’m referring to daily changes like a last-minute invitation to play on a day when you planned to clean the house. Or considering an opportunity to go hot air ballooning when the thought of it scares you down to your toes. Or finding a way to enjoy a day of solitude when plans to join family or friends fall apart…

Do you adapt?

A friend once said of me that he admired how I was “game” for anything. Funny thing is, I’m not. I was, however, impacted by that impression and remind myself that I should be ready for anything – especially the positive things – at any time.

It’s OK if my grand plan for a particular day is changed (I must tell myself!). It’s fine if I am not in control of every detail. And it is definitely more exciting to say “yes” to unexpected fun than to stay with whatever mundane plan was set for the day.

As my grandma tells us: have fun when you can, every time you can.

Sounds good, Grandma. I’m game!