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Success Is Like Making A Good Omelet.

Who doesn’t love a good omelet? A fluffy creation bursting with flavor from your favorite ingredients? When you think about it now, were you ever concerned about the eggs that had to be cracked in order for you to have the omelet of your dreams?

No? My point, exactly. Let me explain.

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One of my earliest jobs was as a magazine advertising salesperson in the global yachting industry. Prior to accepting this position, I had never stepped on a boat, no less a yacht, and had never sold advertising. I was the most imperfect fit! However, my marketing degree and professional acting experience sold the publisher on the idea that I the brains and the bravery to pull it off.

I jumped feet first into the niche world of marine publishing. What I found out rather quickly was that compared to the big boy magazines, like People, Time or Vogue, small industry-focused publications were often supported by a close-knit and small group of industry influencers. As I called on prospects, mostly yacht builders and yacht suppliers, I also realized that most advertising buys were based on long-term client relationships forged at boat show cocktail parties and not on hard data.

Since I couldn’t manufacture those types of relationships overnight, I decided to take a different tact. I would use numbers.

The publisher of the magazine I was working for had researched the competing publications and discovered discrepancies in what our #1 competitor claimed their circulation was and what their audit showed. I was curious to know what the competitor’s advertisers would think about these discrepancies, even though our magazine didn’t even have any kind of audit.

So I sent a couple of emails.

The blowback was immediate and painful.

The publisher came into my office within a few hours and demanded to know what I had done. He had received calls left and right from the competitor’s publisher and their advertisers about this rogue salesperson who had dared to upset the apple cart.

I was scared. I also thought I was justified to question the integrity of the data they used as a selling point.

The publisher asked to see the email I had sent. I forwarded to him.

A few agonizing hours later, he returned to my office. He sat down and looked at me as I waited for the end to come.

When he finally spoke, these were the words he said, “To make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs.”

And then he smiled.

In the end, he liked what I did and didn’t see anything wrong with it. After all, were #3 in the industry, what did we have to lose? Perhaps my straightforwardness needed to be softened a bit. Diplomacy does have its benefits. But in general, he like the approach and soon after, it became the basis of a strategy that would move us ahead of the competition.

What I learned that day, that has always stuck with me is this:

Change requires a shift in the status quo. Most people don’t like disruption. To either be the cause of it or be on the receiving end. It means they have to get off of autopilot and start being more aware and intentional. This requires effort and alertness.

Here’s the secret: If you can look beyond the immediate discomfort, either that you are imposing on others or that is being imposed on you, to the bigger picture, you can gain the strength, conviction and tenacity needed to get you through and move into higher territory.

As for the competing magazine? They never got comfortable with what I did, but it did force them to up their game. As a result, all of the magazines in the industry decided to be audited and for a while circulation numbers were the new standard. In short, we all got more focused, more strategic and more innovative. In the end, it was the advertisers and the readers who won with better quality magazines and higher quality circulation.

Don’t let the sound of a cracking eggshell concern you too much.

Decide to succeed and make an omelet today.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Workshop Facilitator

About Jo-Aynne

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Listening: The Secret to Great Public Speaking.

Yes, I know that sounds counterintuitive. As an executive coach who helps people hone their public speaking and presence skills, public speaking should be about speaking not listening, right? Wrong.

Here’s why.

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The audience wants to be part of your presentation. They want this experience to be a conversation between you and them (even if you are the only one speaking aloud). They want to be seen, heard and valued in exchange for their attention. The quality of their attention or lack thereof is one of the ways they “speak” to you.

You listen to the audience not only with your ears. You observe with your eyes and sense through your gut. This “whole body” listening is the essence of mindfulness, the ability to be fully available to the moment without your mind chatter getting in the way. You demonstrate your listening by continually adjusting your delivery according to what you have heard.

Here are two examples from the arts that showcase the power of listening to impact a performance.

Tango Dancing

As an amateur tango dancer on my 7th year of lessons, I know that it takes about 20 years to be really skilled in this art. In a social setting, when I have the chance to dance with a professional tango dancer I inevitably fumble my steps. Immediately, I apologize, embarrassed at my lack of skill in comparison. In contrast, what does the pro say? “No apologies. It always takes me a dance or two to understand my partner’s movements so I can adjust.” Isn’t that interesting? The pro doesn’t demand that I come up to his level. Rather, he meets me at mine in order to have a connection. The result? I am more receptive because I have been seen, heard and valued as I am. I actually dance better in response! Do you see the secret of listening at work here?

Tip: Always level set the conversation with your audience by asking them what they want to know, what their experience is regarding what you are speaking about. Integrate what you learn throughout your presentation as best you can. Be willing to meet any boredom or disinterest with curiosity. Ask these questions; “What’s not working for you right now? What do I need to do to make this more relevant to you?” You will be surprised how responsive in a positive way people can be.

Acting

Years ago, as a professional actress, I learned how to create a sense of naturalness in the most unnatural settings. One of the skills of acting is to appear so natural that you fascinate and draw the audience into a private moment which is actually public. This ability requires deep listening to maintain your focus.  Imagine how distracting it is to the unseasoned actor trying to have a profound moment onstage with 1000 penetrating eyes upon you? Or with a camera positioned for a close-up as a budget conscious producer and temperamental director critically watch every muscle twitch on your face? Naturalness is created by listening intently, either to the other character in your scene or to their imagined dialogue in your head. As you focus on the words, body language and emotions of your counterpart, you filter out distractions, self-consciousness is alleviated and you do your best and most “natural” work.

Tip: Stay focused on the audience. Look at them, not past them which distances you from them. It takes you out of the receptiveness of the present moment and into your own judgment, where you become an unrelatable talking head. When you think of public speaking as a conversation, listening, connecting and even making eye contact becomes more natural.

Listening involves a willingness to adapt, be flexible and honor another as equally important in the conversation. It also involves vulnerability, which means admitting we might not know everything, so we need to pay attention for more information. This can be uncomfortable for many business professionals who have been programmed to believe that their success depends on what they DO know. However, the willingness to suspend judgment and truly listen is the beginning of authentic communication which is at the heart of great public speaking.

Great public speaking is an art. It’s not a method that you learn although there are basics about organizing your ideas in a logical flow and having a powerful PPT deck that is certainly useful. But that’s not what makes you memorable or impactful as a public speaker. Listening and responding to your audience is what makes you relatable. When you are relatable, you are remembered.

#1 rule of public speaking: Listen to be heard.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Strategist, Workshop Facilitator

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If you are interested in a public speaking workshop or coaching, please contact me to discuss. Jvonborn@readysetmore.com

Leadership is for Everyone!

Leadership is not only the ability to move others towards a vision, it is also the ability to move yourself towards a vision as well.

Leadership is not a quality you are born with, although it may seem that way. Leadership is a skill that everyone can embrace. It includes a set of learned behaviors which encourage other people to pay attention and commit to action. And why do they do this? We listen and model those whom we most admire and would most want to be like.

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Behaviors are responses to stimulus. A learned behavior is just what is sounds like. A behavior that is cultivated in an intentional way. Leadership then is intentionally cultivating these responses to the provocations of work and life:

Honest

Positive

Forward-Looking

Honest: When you are honest with yourself, it is easier and more natural to be honest with others. This type of integrity and authenticity engenders trust. Not only trust of others, but the trust of yourself. We may not always like the honest truth, but we respect it. When we know the bottom line, we know where we stand which makes it that much easier to develop meaningful and impactful solutions. The best decisions and actions are based on transparency.

Positive: When you are enthusiastic about today and inspired about what could be for tomorrow, you cultivate strong, healthy relationships with others. Being positive means you believe that there always is a way and the way is through the strengths of people. Sometimes, the solution may be different than what you expected or hoped for but you look for the maximum benefit that can be achieved. People are energized by a can-do attitude especially when there are difficulties. With positivity, you can rally the troops, not only the ones on the ground but the one in your head.

Forward-Looking: A competent leader has a broad understanding of the situation which enables them to set realistic goals and lay out a path to realize them. When you are clear about what needs to get done you can focus your resources on how to do it. You enlist experts and ask them the right questions to get everyone where they need to go, including yourself. Everything you do is in the present with an eye on the better future you envision. You glance backward to learn from mistakes but once the lesson is gleaned, you let it go. You believe that the knowledge from experience coupled with positivity and authenticity will build a better future, one that will meet the challenges of tomorrow with innovation rather than replication.

We all wear many hats. And all of them require some type of leadership. From our professional roles at work to our personal roles at home and in the community, leadership has a function in every one of them. No matter what our role, how large or small, we are always influencing others. With every word and every action, we are influencing. If we are a member of a team at work, what we do or don’t do affects the other team members and the recognized leader and vice versa. If we want to create more innovative, productive and happy cultures at work and in the world, we start with cultivating leadership at every level. Where everyone takes responsibility for the influence they wield.

All coaching I do involves taking a look at leadership in some form. Whether you want to perform better, tweak your strengths or specifically develop better leadership skills, it boils down to this basic principle- all growth and development and the inevitable change it will bring requires leadership not only of others but of yourself as well.

I’ve noticed that quality leaders demand quality team members and quality teams demand quality leaders. Like attracts like. We all influence each other, and so we all lead in one way or another.

Tell me, what does your leadership look like?

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Strategist, Workshop Facilitator

Contact Jo-Aynne 

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How to Collaborate without Burnout.

If you work in an organization, it’s highly likely that you have been asked to collaborate with others on a project. If you are in a leadership position, it seems that collaboration is the new competence and is key to the efficient use of the organization’s resources.

There’s an old saying that there are two sides to every coin. Another way to put it is that everything has an upside and a downside to it. Collaboration, when managed well, pools the skills and knowledge of individuals in the workplace for more successful outcomes. It also cultivates community, makes people happier and inspires them to contribute more. When not managed well, it can lead to burnout from the over-involvement, conflict over different approaches to work and tension when too many people try to lead the collaborative effort.

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How do you get the best out of collaboration while keeping yourself and others sane? For both leaders and members of collaborative teams, here are suggestions culled from the “trial and error” discoveries made by clients I’ve worked with:

Create a structure for your time.

  1. Schedule calendar time for collaborative efforts as well as reflective time. Try to stick to this as best as possible while being flexible. Some people schedule “flex time” on their calendar for the unexpected.
  2. Know what you value professionally and personally. Use these values as a guide when deciding how much time to devote to collaboration.
  3. Participate in collaboration when it offers something you value or when you have something of value to offer (knowledge, social connections, time/energy). Be proactive and manage others’ expectations of your willingness to collaborate.

Notice and manage your triggers for over-involvement.

  1. We all have needs at varying levels of intensity for the following: The need for achievement, for control, for recognition, to influence others, to be right. These needs aren’t necessarily bad on their own. When left unchecked, they can cause you to overcommit or be obsessive.
  2. Signs that these needs are unmanaged include attempting to do everything yourself rather than delegate, creating excessive work or communication, perfectionism or overzealousness.
  3. Manage these needs by loosening your grip on them. Be willing to have them met in other ways outside of the collaboration. Spend time discovering what these needs are actually trying to fulfill in you so that you can find other ways to be satisfied.

Demonstrate efficiency.

  1. Streamline collaboration with audio, video and other virtual technologies. Refine email practice and use instant messaging when appropriate.
  2. Frequently reaffirm a clear sense of purpose for the collaboration to stay focused on desired outcomes at meetings and all interactions.
  3. Cultivate trust in yourself and others to alleviate the need for over-involvement or overzealousness on both sides.

Collaboration is the hallmark of great leadership and teamwork. You can’t make things happen on your own. But the team is only as good as the quality of its members. Learning to manage collaboration is just like managing any other skill. It’s crucial that you deliver your best while also maintaining your best.

What are your experiences with collaboration? Feel free to post about your experiences and any suggestions to make collaboration more effective for others.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach and Strategist at READYSETMORE.

Email Jo-Aynne to schedule a free “Success With Less Stress” strategy call.

Leadership Begins From Within.

Many people are trying to be better leaders. What’s the secret? Are better leaders created or are they just natural?

Much leadership development focuses on how to lead change, foster collaboration and develop an effective leadership style, all crucial to leading a large organization, a business unit or a small entrepreneurial team. However, before jumping into learning new skills, it’s worthwhile to change the focus from how to influence others to how to influence your own self.

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When you are effective at leading your own life, leading others becomes a natural extension which requires less effort and is more sustainable. That which you already are is not hard to be on a regular basis.

As an executive coach, I often draw on my wide-ranging background of experience that includes acting, mindfulness meditation and business development to help clients understand how to lead themselves better.  Here are the three important points to remember about leading from within:

  1. Recognize we all on the same journey.

At one point in my 20’s, when I was an aspiring actress, I was frustrated with every lost audition and constantly being turned down for roles. One of my acting teachers suggested I read Joseph Campbell’s book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” to understand that every character (and person) is living some version of his/her own Hero’s Journey. This journey has 3 basic parts; we are living in our comfort zone, we face a test or trial, we return triumphantly with expanded wisdom to a larger comfort zone. Then the process occurs all over again. This journey happens for everyone on a larger scale but also on a thousand smaller scales with the everyday tribulations of life.

What I discovered was that I could connect more deeply with a foundational truth when delivering my lines by understanding where the character was on his/her Hero’s Journey. This would make me seem more like a “real person” and less of an actress or a pitch salesperson. I would exude authenticity to the casting director and eventually the hundreds of thousands of people who would watch me on the screen.

To be a leader of true influence, you have to know your own Hero’s Journey, what this journey is about and at what point you are at now in the journey. Once you know this, you will naturally communicate with a more compelling, truthful voice. Those that look to you for leadership will see their “journey” in you, even if they are not aware of it. When your truth resonates with their truth, they are inspired to give you their loyalty and be fully vested in having their work contribute to your larger vision.

  1. Grow strength by knowing yourself.

Because of the numerous rejections that are part of the audition process, I learned quickly that trying to fit myself into everyone’s idea of the perfect choice for each part was exhausting. I finally gave up and decided to bring my uniqueness to each role, no matter what the casting people said they wanted. To do this, I needed to discover and define what my unique perspective was. To undertake this introspection in a healthy way, I began practicing mindfulness and meditation to understand how I perceived things and how that influenced my attitudes. This helped me manage my mind and emotions in a way that kept me flexible and yet a bit detached so I was able to stay out of the drama and see the bigger picture when needed.

As a leader, you have to be effective in dealing with what keeps you up at night. Not necessarily the specific issue, but how you are looking at that issue. When you understand how your beliefs and assumptions impact what you see and how you see it, you allow yourself more possibilities for resolution. This self-awareness and self-discipline are the hallmarks of Emotional Intelligence.

  1. Adapt to the situation.

When I left acting and decided to utilize my marketing degree in a full-time position, I had to become enormously adaptive to this new business environment I was entering. I was making the leap out of my comfort zone and could not ask others to bend to what I needed or wanted. I had to find a way to transcend all the obstacles. I took an entry-level advertising sales position at a local boating magazine, not knowing one thing about boats. Twenty years later, I was publishing my own magazine on mindfulness for the corporate arena. This idea of adaptability has stayed with me throughout my career and has served me well whether working with others or leading others.

Leading is about being adaptive. People look to leaders for inspiration, not so much when things are going well, but when things are not going well. When conflict arises, when challenges show up you have to be hardy and resilient with the perseverance to get through tough circumstances with courage, optimism and confidence intact.  Adaptability is a choice you make. You take responsibility for the bending that needs to be done to get the ball rolling. This does not mean you sacrifice your values but find a way to move forward that aligns with what you believe is most important.

For many business people, this is a tough one. Executives like to think they can plan for everything. However, more often than not, a crisis will come that cannot be planned for. When you live your life in a resilient way, you accept the setbacks and choose to move forward with plan B, C or D – some of which you have to make up right on the spot.

If you want to be a better leader, start by looking within. Learn to lead yourself well and you will spontaneously understand what it takes to lead others well. In whatever capacity that you lead, before you look to the next best external “actions” you need to take, or ways of “posturing” that will get the right message across, reflect on the similar journey you share with others, the strength you gain by knowing yourself more intimately and the adaptability you are willing to offer to life.

By the way, did you hear the one about the actress, the meditator and the businesswoman who walked into a bar…..

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Work/Life Strategist at READYSETMORE.

Email Jo-Aynne to schedule a free “Success With Less Stress” strategy call.

 

How to Jumpstart Change

When you ask someone, “How’s it going?” Most people say “okay, getting by, managing alright.” It seems as though for most of us, there is so much to juggle that we hardly have time to think about developing a career and life experience that would have us shouting out an answer such as, “spectacular, outstanding, awesome!”

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we don’t want the best possible for ourselves. Most people I know do have great intentions to do inspiring work, to enjoy their lives and make a difference in the world. It’s all so admirable.

But have you noticed sometimes how much energy we put out in this regard and how little the return is in terms of moving the needle in overall work and life satisfaction?

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We can have all kinds of conversations in our heads about how we want to change, the different decisions we want to make and the new behaviors we want to inhabit. However, in the end, many times it falls on our own deaf ears.

This is where the power of another person can be really instrumental. Specifically, a professional coach who is trained to listen non-judgmentally, to reflect back discrepancies between what we say and what we do, challenge us to think broader and help us be accountable for what we say we want, especially when we feel like throwing in the towel.

A coach is different than a friend or a trusted colleague, both whom may have a vested interest in a certain outcome that benefits them or other parties involved…and there’s nothing wrong with this. Just be aware of it. A professional coach also has a vested interest, except that it’s in the outcome WE DECIDE that is best for us. The coach wins if we win. And that is good news for us.

If you are curious about what’s involved when people engage professional coaches to jumpstart a change or transformation that will put them on the path to unleashing more potential and fulfillment or elevating their performance and leadership, here are the key areas of development that happen with the clients I coach:

  1. Identify what’s Important-Find out what matters most to you, why it matters and how much emphasis you are actually giving it.
  2. Learn to be self-aware-Get a deeper understanding of your character, feelings, motives, and desires. This empowers you to proactively manage your thoughts, emotions and behaviors to be in service to what you want.
  3. Commit to 2-3 Goals-Practice focusing on a few defined essentials for a better chance of success. If you are tempted to overhaul everything, you can become overwhelmed, scatter your efforts and be likely to quit.
  4. Develop milestones as stepping stones-Create small changes that have a cumulative effect, keep your motivation high and eventually achieve the desired goals.
  5. Pay attention to your life-Feel good slowing down, taking care of and being in charge of how you are working and living.

If you are ready for change, one of the most effective ways is to work with a professional coach, a trusted thinking partner who is committed to supporting and challenging you to develop your best self within a confidential environment. Scheduled time with a coach in which you create an individual development plan uniquely tailored to you and then follow through with it-  is a statement to yourself about what you value and your commitment to living a life which honors that.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Work/Life Strategist, READYSETMORE

Email Jo-Aynne to schedule a free “Success With Less Stress” strategy call to clarify the professional and personal success you want, uncover what’s getting in the way and decide your next step.

Never Let Stress Get in the Way of Your Success.

Stress has been a part of everyday life since the dawn of humankind. Successful people know how to use stress to their advantage instead of letting stress use them. They cultivate a sense of balance by taking a big-picture view of stress. They learn to focus and take action on the internal changes needed to create more resilience to the inevitable uncertainties of life.

Obstacle

Let’s take a closer look at what stress is. Stress is a natural reaction in the brain to a perceived threat. Our heartbeat goes up. Stress hormones are released in the body for a fight, flight or freeze reaction in preparation to defend ourselves. Once the threat is neutralized, our body, mind and emotions return to a state of homeostasis or balance.

This is good. This is how we have survived as a human race. Psychologists say our stress response is triggered by our “negativity bias,” a patterned response wired into our brains that constantly scans the environment for threat in order to keep us “safe.” In modern times, this stress response can alert us to get out of the way of a car with a texting driver or warn us that our lifestyle is out of tune with our optimal health. It can give us our “performance edge” in a meeting or presentation or literally keep us one step ahead of the competition while running a race.

However, when stress becomes chronic or ongoing, it becomes unhealthy for us physically. Our bodies cannot sustain the deluge of stress hormones that keep us in a hyper state of alert. It also impairs our mental and emotional health as we begin to form sustained negative patterns of thought and consequent emotions that become embedded in the neural pathways of our brain. This process is called neuroplasticity, our brain’s amazing ability to adapt and change according to repeated experiences. Neuroplasticity can also be a double-edged sword depending on whether our repeated experiences are positive or negative.

Would you like to use stress to your advantage instead of having it use you? Here are some suggestions to get you on the road to mastering stress:

  1. Create opportunities to become aware of what causes YOU stress. Different things trigger stress for different people. Mindfulness or the habit of pausing and observing what is going on within you (thoughts, feelings, body sensations) when you begin to feel tense or resistant is a great way to pinpoint your triggers.
  2. Note the unique ways that stress is helpful and the ways it is an obstacle for you. If a deadline prompts you into planning and taking action on micro steps with micro deadlines to accomplish the overarching deadline on time, then this is “good stress” for you. If, however, deadlines make you freeze with inaction, where you ruminate about the missed deadlines in the past and how awful it was for your career, then this is “bad stress” for you. This chronic pattern of dealing with deadlines holds you back from achieving what you want.
  3. Take action on the stress that is an obstacle on the path towards your success. Often, just this awareness can be a big step forward in change. If deadlines are an obstacle for you, explore ways to make them more manageable. Then actually DO the steps required to make them less overwhelming no matter how uncomfortable at first. Recognize that YOU must set the new pattern in your brain. No one or nothing else can. With neuroplasticity, you can rest assured that it’s the actual doing, not thinking or talking about, that creates the experiences needed to rewire your brain to have a positive response to deadlines.

The bottom line is this, success in your work and your life depends on being aware and intentional with how you respond to the external environment of events and people. It also depends on being aware and intentional with how you respond to your internal environment of thoughts and emotions caused by the patterns that have been wired into your brain through repeated experiences of the past.

Don’t let stress get in the way of your success. Become aware of how you create stress and change what needs to be changed so that you can engage with the world each day with the most energy and enthusiasm possible. If you need help along the way, you can always give me a call.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Work/Life Strategist

Email Jo-Aynne to schedule a free “Success With Less Stress” strategy call to clarify the professional and personal success you want, uncover what’s getting in the way and decide your next step.

 

 

Unlucky? 5 Qualities That Will Change Your Luck.

Good luck is defined as success brought about by chance rather than through one’s own actions. According to a recent Scientific American article, research suggests that our success may be influenced more by luck and opportunity than we believed in the past. Their findings suggest that where you were born, the name you were given and even the month of your birth could contribute to your ability to succeed.

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Think of the success of Bill Gates. It just so happens or as luck would have it, that his mother, Mary Gates served on the board of United Way alongside John Opel, CEO of IBM.  It is rumored that she spoke with the CEO about Microsoft, the fledgling software company that her son co-founded. Not too long after, when IBM as looking for an operating system to run its first personal computer, IBM met with Microsoft and the historic deal was struck that would put Microsoft on the map.

So if it’s true, that luck and opportunity play a big part in success, what are we to do, those who are not in the right place at the right time? How do we compete with those who seem to be born “lucky?” What can we do to tip the scale of success in our favor?

Think about this, for every other Bill Gates who has a mother perfectly positioned to make an introduction but doesn’t apply talent and effort, their natural born “luck” is rendered useless because they aren’t prepared with anything worthwhile to deliver. This leaves a huge opening for the rest of us to step up and take their place. How can we be ready? How can we create our own good fortune?

Here are 5 qualities you can cultivate right now to change your “luck.” The best part of all is that you will also bring down your stress levels by being proactive and increasing your mental and emotional resilience.

  1. Be attentive: Learn to pay attention on more than one level. Be more of an observer as well as a doer. Researchers distinguish between two types of attention, open and narrow. This will enable you to see opportunities that others miss, increasing your chances for success.  Stepping back and looking at the bigger picture (open attention) as well as taking the time to focus on specifics that others gloss over (narrow attention) are worthwhile. Learn to practice both. You might discover someone in your network that could get you that valuable introduction. You might also discover a way to fine-tune an area of your work that creates a game-changing turn of events. Mindfulness exercises are an excellent way to hone your observation skills, both open and narrow attention.
  2. Be persistent: When you believe that you have some control over your success, you will continue trying even when circumstances don’t look so good. Many people who experience stress when in difficult situations, simply give up too soon to make a difference.
  3. Be positive: Each time you fail or receive less than what you had expected from your efforts, find the good in it. Even if the only good is that you have learned what NOT to do next time. Attitude matters. Perception makes all the difference. A difficult situation can be interpreted as the kick in the pants you needed to get moving in the right direction.
  4. Be different: Apple’s famous “Think different” campaign slogan in the late 1990’s celebrated those who saw things differently as the hallmark of genius. Successful people are the ones who are unpredictable, who break the status quo, who find the road less traveled. Their “luck” and opportunity is increased by doing what no one else is.
  5. Be grateful: In a research study on gratitude in which participants were asked to note things that made them feel grateful over a 10-week period, the changes were dramatic. Physically they felt better, had improved sleep quality, were happier, more outgoing, compassionate and alert. When you are swimming upstream, against the tide of all the lucky ones you envision have it easier based on their fortunate circumstances, a good dose of gratitude can keep your energy and enthusiasm levels high.

Attentive. Persistent. Positive. Different. Grateful. How can you start cultivating more of these qualities right now? How would your “luck” change if you did?

Wishing you the best of “luck”!

Jo-Aynne von Born-Executive Coach, Work/Life Strategist, Workshop Facilitator

I will be starting a weekly group coaching call in April on Creating More Success with Less Stress. Limited to 6 participants. Email me at jvonborn@readysetmore.com for details.

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How to turn busy into brilliant.

Busy. Who isn’t? But is your busy getting the job done well? Or are you just checking off items on a to-do list? Done, but maybe not so well. Or at best, average.

Busy is a state of mind that can mean “I’m so overwhelmed so I’ll tackle as much as I can without much purpose or thoughtfulness.” The problem with this is that the to-do list never ends. You can easily end up creating a cycle of mediocrity.  It takes courage to step back from old habits of busyness and from a work culture that encourages you to go, go, go!

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If you don’t get a handle on your busyness, busy can turn into burnout. So here are 5 suggestions to turn busy into brilliant. By brilliant, I mean not only productive but satisfying as well.

  1. You first.

As soon as you get up each day, do something that connects you with what is most important in your life. If you’re not sure what that is, ask yourself, why am I working in the first place? To provide the best I can for my family? Then experience that caring every morning by spending time with loved ones, calling them on the phone or even looking at pictures of them. Is it to have more freedom to travel? Then create that freedom each morning by reading about inspiring destinations or planning interesting getaways for your weekends. Is it well-being? Then every morning, do some stretching, meditation or motivational reading. The key here is not to wait until someday in the future, when you have everything in order, to connect with and create what you want. Instead, create it a little bit every morning, before you begin your day, even if it is only for a few minutes. This unleashes a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and energy that you can harness for your day.

  1. Schedule the toughest activity at the beginning of the day.

This is the best way to avoid procrastination. Commit to tackling the hardest activity first every day. Notice if you have a habit of working on low-priority items first as a type of “warm up.” Is this the best use of your morning freshness, especially if you unleashed the energy and enthusiasm in #1? Create a habit of hard things first and then wind your day down with the lower priority tasks. This includes scheduling difficult meetings or conversations as early in the day as possible.

  1. One-hour time blocks for highest productivity.

There have been studies that suggest that the quality of our focus declines after one hour. In my early career as an actress, I learned from one of my acting instructors that the union requirements for a break every hour while rehearsing were based on similar research. Try breaking down longer tasks into smaller steps that can be accomplished in under one hour. Meetings can be shortened or broken up with a brief break each hour. Committing to one-hour time blocks of focused work with a 10-minute break in between will refresh your focus and give you a higher quality of work.

  1. Have strategies for distraction

Boundaries are the best way to defeat distraction. Boundaries for others and yourself. Set times during the day for when you answer calls and emails and let your colleagues know beforehand. (You can always be flexible for emergencies). If you work in an open office environment, have something on your desk that alerts others when you are doing deep focused work and are not to be disturbed. Whatever boundaries you set up for yourself, be mindful to respect the boundaries of others too.

If you follow the one-hour time block suggestion, you will have 5-10 minutes each hour to “enjoy” the distraction of your choice, whether it be social media, calling/texting a friend, short meditation or looking out the window or at relaxing photos to let your mind unwind. Distraction can be a good thing when it is actively chosen by you and not a reflex based on external events.

  1.  Be grateful and accept

I know this is going to sound trite…but it really works. Every day, write down 3 things you are grateful and appreciative for. (I have a small moleskin notebook on my desk for this.) They can be significant or insignificant items. The key here is to create a mindset that is focused on what IS working and how others ARE contributing to your success rather than what isn’t working and who’s sabotaging you. This impacts your perspective and creates a more positive outlook.

Additionally, write down 3 things that you need to accept for today. This is not being defeatist, it is being realistic, for this moment. This brings the hidden frustrations of the day out into the open and allows us to be more proactive. Many things are not in our control, yet we try so hard to force. By being truthful, we can release tension and spend that energy on things that we do have control over, strengthening our internal locus of control.

Most people would agree that our lives are determined by the choices we make, every moment and every day. Today, why not choose one of these suggestions and commit to it for one week. Let me know what happens. See if you can transform your busy into just a little bit more brilliant.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Work/Life Strategist, Workshop Facilitator

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Joyful Confidence for 2018

How do you want your life to be different in 2018? Would you like to ignite the enthusiasm and drive needed to make this year YOUR year to experience work and life on a whole new level?

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As I reflect back on 2017, I am amazed at the desire and determination of the clients I coached to make life better for themselves in some way. While many people tolerate the discord in their lives as “just the way it is,” others are willing to address it. They are willing to look at what needs to be looked at with dignity and grace. They know that what they don’t know can really hinder them. They realize their best course of action is to look at the gap between where they are and where they want to be and use it as a positive motivator rather than another situation to be stressed about.

Although each client I coached this year had a different vision and set of goals, they all ended up in relatively the same place. I can best describe it as a state of joyful confidence. No matter if their struggle was with an important career or business decision they had put off, clarity on a meaningful direction, enhancing leadership abilities or communicating better, the net result was an increased self-reliance that made them happy.

Joyful confidence offers much more than just achieving the goal you set out to achieve. It is the magnificent knowledge that you have what it takes to navigate any issue, to look within and without, to be discerning, to take actions and to refine your learning so that your path forward is clearer each day.

What do you want for 2018? What are you ready to address?  If you want to transform the stress of an unresolved issue into the positive energy and focus that will move you forward joyfully and confidently, let’s talk.

Until then, wishing you a healthy, wealthy and wonderful new year!

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach and Work/Life Strategist

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