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Fall is the Time to Take Charge

With summer behind us, fall is a good time to renew our commitment to our best selves at work and at home.

Because most of our childhoods were conditioned around the school year, this last quarter can feel like a time for getting serious again. If summer is for fun and daydreaming, then fall is a chance to resume focus on transforming challenges and achieving goals.

With this in mind, post Labor Day is a good time to ask ourselves the following questions: Am I excited about my work? Do I sprint out of bed in the morning curious to see what the day holds for me? Am I energized by what I can contribute to others? If the answer isn’t a resounding yes, at least more often than not, it may be time to take better charge of your life.

Taking charge isn’t taking control. It’s taking responsibility. Taking control is about forcing an outcome. Most of us know how that can turn out. However, taking responsibility is about assessing our situation, setting the best conditions based on what is important to us and then trusting the process.

Want to take better charge of your life? Here are 5 guidelines I use with my coaching clients to get them on the path to their best selves in every aspect of their lives:

  1. Know and be guided by your values.

When was the last time you checked your values? Do you know what is important to you in the larger scheme of things and how that filters down into different aspects of your work and life? Once you have a good handle on this, use it for inspiration. Goals that are not attached to what’s truly meaningful are just pursuits that once achieved feel empty and hollow. Decide to be guided in all you do by a profound sense of meaning. Meaning is subjective, so don’t look to others to help you decide. Look within.

  1. Initiate Change.

Once you know your values, it will be clear how you are not currently incorporating them into your choices and actions. This clarity is the basis for creating a new vision of success that is meaningful and inspiring for you. This can be the catalyst for the decision to change. Change requires a lot of emotional and mental effort to instill new habits of thinking and doing. To sustain the effort, you need to find relevant and impactful reasons to maintain your motivation.

  1. Be aware of your mindset and how it blocks your success.

At first, most people believe that the obstacles which get in the way of what they want are external to them. However, after some introspection, it becomes clear that it is our internal beliefs and attitudes that are the real obstacles. Test this for yourself. How many times have you initiated a new plan or pledged a new direction, only to fall back into old patterns within days or weeks? The toughest blocks to overcome are not from the outside but from within. What is familiar to us mentally and emotionally has a very strong pull backward.

  1. Realign your mindset for success.

Changing your beliefs isn’t easy if you think that you have to overhaul everything. Here’s what I’ve found. Our attitudes and beliefs are intertwined with each other. Once you start to chip away at a few that no longer make sense in the light of self-awareness, they all start to fall. Don’t be overwhelmed. Instead be steadfast and persistent in questioning your assumptions about what you believe leads to success and why.

  1. Take consistent action.

Once you have identified the new beliefs and attitudes that are in better alignment with your values and meaningful pursuits, the right actions and goals will fall into place spontaneously. You will know what to do and how to do it because you have clarity. This clarity unleashes incredible energy that allows you to continuously take the right action, to objectively review your results and re-calculate your strategy as needed.

Whether you choose to self-coach or work with a professional coach to streamline your efforts to reach your optimal best, keep this in mind:

Coaching is not a remedial process relegated to those who are unsuccessful. Rather, coaching is a proactive strategy that is a courageous act of self-determination. Only those who are willing to assume a leadership role in their lives will take the leap into accountability that coaching requires.

How will you use the invigorating energy of fall? What is your commitment to yourself as we buckle up for the 4th quarter? Will you daydream about the lazy days of summer gone by or will you commit to being your best self, right now, by doing what it takes to create the conditions for your highest success?

The choice is yours.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Strategist, Corporate Trainer

www.readysetmore.com

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How to Influence Like a Leader

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you shared your perspective but it wasn’t received well? Or maybe you wanted to voice your ideas but were hesitant about the possible repercussions? Or maybe you just couldn’t find the right words to express the solution you could “see” inside your head? If any of these match your experiences, read on and discover how you can influence others as great leaders do.

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Why is influence important?

In today’s competitive environment, influence is the new currency. If you want to work your way into a better career opportunity, be an influencer of good ideas. If you want to get your employees, your community members or your family on board in a certain direction, influence is more powerful and more sustainable than exerting direct pressure. If you are in a cross-functional environment where you work on various projects with other departments, your success lies in your ability to influence those not under your direct supervision as well as those with whom you do not directly report to.

What does it mean to influence like a leader?

Great leaders get others to embrace ideas and act on them without using their direct power. They don’t need to force compliance. Instead, they get into the minds and hearts of others by showing the VALUE to them individually as well as the value for the organization or other people involved.

What are the challenges to influencing others in a positive way?

People are reluctant to promote their ideas because:

  • Fear of negative outcome.
  • Resistance to change.
  • Poor communication skills.

How can you overcome these challenges?

  1. Have balanced expectations about the consequences of speaking out. Take a moment to acknowledge the worst as well as the best that could result from sharing your ideas. Accept that the actual outcome will likely fall somewhere in between. This allays fear and puts it into proper perspective.
  2. Recognize that no one likes change because of the extra effort it takes especially change that offers no significant difference. For the listener, even changing their perspective has emotional and mental costs. Be clear on why the extra effort is worth it. To be realistic, be upfront about the benefits as well as the costs of change and then focus on how much the benefits outweigh the costs.
  3. Practice being clear and precise in your communication both written and orally. Have simple evidence or data to back up your claims. Most importantly, put the listener first when you communicate by considering how they want to receive information. Be interested in what they need in order to feel secure with your words.

How can you be an influencer in all your conversations?

Recognize that influence is cultivated before any conversation takes place. Influence is earned when you consistently behave in a trustworthy manner. When people feel they can trust you, they will give you their time, attention and consideration. Here are the 5 behaviors of an influential person:

  1. Follow through-You do what you say you are going to do. From the smallest promise to the largest commitment, you honor your word. You demonstrate your reliability and dependability.
  2. Hold yourself accountable-When you make a mistake or realize an oversight, you own up to it as soon as possible. You demonstrate the magnitude of your strength by admitting your vulnerabilities. You demonstrate fairness by holding yourself to the same standard that you expect of others.
  3. Engage in healthy conflict-You encourage a healthy exchange of differences without being judgmental. You demonstrate the belief that the best solutions emerge when all sides are heard and considered.
  4. Communicate honestly-You share information openly and honestly to the best of your ability. You are an active listener, hearing between the words to gather the full meaning of what is being said. You demonstrate a positive intent by being strategic in your communication so that it always contributes to the highest and best outcome. You demonstrate credibility by checking the facts and weighing the impact on others before you speak.
  5. Build others up-You acknowledge the best in others and consistently reinforce them. You demonstrate your own self-confidence by freely giving others the spotlight.

What is different with a formal presentation?

As mentioned earlier, influence is always occurring in and outside of every conversation, verbally and with your behaviors. However, sometimes we are called to present our ideas in a formal setting. Successful influence in this realm requires all the above plus additional planning.

  1. Before you present, know who you will be presenting to. Learn what is important to them. Also, figure out who their influencers are.  Try to have conversations with those influencers beforehand and learn what you can about potential obstacles to your idea.
  2. Open your presentation with a clear and attention-getting declaration about your idea and the positive benefit it will deliver in a realistic time frame.
  3. Create a conversation around your idea by asking probing, exploratory and open-ended questions that will get others involved in a group discussion that could create buy-in spontaneously. This will avoid you getting caught in the trap of having to defend an idea that others feel were forced upon them.
  4. Be ready with next steps to get your idea off the ground if the answer is yes or a positive nod in the right direction. Don’t let expectations of getting a “no” set you up for failure by not having a plan A, B or C to keep the conversation going.

Being able to influence others is key to creating success in every aspect of your life from work, to raising children, to developing strong relationships and social networks. Learn to influence like a great leader by overcoming your own challenges in speaking out and demonstrating trustworthy behaviors in all you do. Then go forth boldly and assert your influence. The world is always in need of one more good idea.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Trainer

www.readysetmore.com

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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

READYSETMORE.com

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.

Upset baby with two hands hold head

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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