The Many Masks of Stress

Many faces of stressAll of us have stress – we wouldn’t be alive without some form of stress. The trouble starts because most of us don’t know how to manage our stress. According to Stress.org (yes there really is a website devoted to stress), 46% of our workplace stress is related to workload, 28% is due to people issues, 20% work/life balance and 6% job security.

Work-related stress shows up in many ways and often that stress triggers reactions that are harmful to relationships – whether working or personal. My definition of stress is the feeling (whether you are conscious of it or not) that you feel when there is a gap between where you are and where you need to be relative to your responsibilities and goals.

People react differently to stress. Some leaders I’ve worked with have managed to hide stress so well that their direct reports and co-workers don’t realize they are under so much stress. Their ability to appear calm on the outside keeps their team focused. I wonder, though, if it takes a toll personally on them. Are they pretending not to be stressed? Some may be, however, many top managers are able to have a different perspective and able to keep focused on the vision, which makes the stress easier to handle.

Other people show visible signs of stress. Scowling or concerned faces, snapping at co-workers and colleagues, a mistaken comment to a client are all outcomes of being overstressed.

When I led sales for a design firm, my co-workers knew when I was stressed and hyper-focused on solving a problem.  I zoomed through the office with a slightly bent forward posture. They had a nickname for me that I discovered after I left the company – “Kathy italic.” I can laugh about it now because I’m not under the pressure to bring in sales like I was then and appreciate that they cared about me.

That pressure and stress led me to be very task-focused and overlook times I could build on relationships. That was one of my masks of stress – covering up my fear of not meeting goals by focusing on the task at hand of business development.

You can lighten your stress load simply by observing ways that stress plays out in your life. As you notice where you are showing stress reactions, decide what you can do to look at the situation differently or take a different action. Talk to a trusted co-worker or your boss if that is a solid relationship. If your stress is extreme, please contact your Employee Assistance Program or seek help from a counselor or coach who can help you develop strategies to manage your stress.

© Copyright 2014, Kathy Garland

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential. 

Today’s leaders are managing diverse teams and projects that require impeccable communication and decision-making skills. The ability to clearly define the vision, goals and purpose of any business initiative that will motivate a team or individual is the key to achieving big results. 

Kathy specializes in coaching and mentoring these high potential, thought leaders to accurately define and communicate the vision, goals and expected results to management, teams and clients.

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Is Empathy Appropriate at Work?

Is Showing Empathy at Work a Weakness?

Empathy is a powerful skill for you to use in leading your team. Empathy is defined as the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences, feelings and emotions. (Merriam-Webster online dictionary)

There it is. The word emotion. And even more challenging – the word feeling.

Often we think there is no place at work for feelings and emotions, yet behind every interaction is some kind of feeling or emotion.

When we say there is no place for it, we mean, we are not going to talk about it. It means no one wants to address feelings and emotions at work. Most people don’t know how to acknowledge feelings and emotions in their personal lives either.

I have leaders tell me frequently that they have no time to be empathetic at work. What they really mean is they don’t want people to come into their offices and cry on their shoulders. I can understand that. However, there are easy ways to show empathy.

Often a team member or employee can feel that you care when you start your conversation with an empathetic approach.

“Thank you for working late last night. We made our deadline because you helped out. I know you missed the ball game. We’ll make it up to you so you can leave earlier next time.”

“I’m sorry you are having a tough time at home. I appreciate your focus while you are here.”

People need to know that you care and understand what is going on for them.

Bosses who ignore the emotions and feelings of their team members and only focus on the task are risking employee engagement as well as productivity.

If you are a boss who is very tasked-focused, take a little time each day to talk with one of your team members. As little as five minutes can make a huge difference.

© copyright 2014, Kathy Garland

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential. 

Today’s leaders are managing diverse teams and projects that require impeccable communication and decision making skills. The ability to clearly define the vision, goals and purpose of any business initiative that will motivate a team or individual is the key to achieving big results. 

Kathy specializes in coaching and mentoring these high potential, thought leaders to accurately define and communicate the vision, goals and expected results to management, teams and clients.

 

 

 

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Reframing Your Problems

Every so often, I get stuck. And I mean stuck. Like I don’t want to move forward. Generally something has happened that triggers some emotions in me.

This is a basic human response that happens to everyone.

I hear from a lot of clients that time management is an issue:

“I don’t have enough time…”

“I don’t take time for myself”

“I don’t have time to exercise”

Time is relative. Last week two of my clients realized that they wanted to take some time for themselves during the week, yet felt it would be unproductive.

Reframing is looking at a situation from a different point of view. Very often with this process, people find a different way to look at their circumstances.

Once they were clear on why it was important to set aside time for themselves, both clients found time in their schedules – not because they changed what was there, they simply changed what they were looking for.

Once they found value in taking time for themselves, the time showed up on their calendars. The time was always there, they simply reframed their thinking around taking time for themselves and then they were able to see what they couldn’t see before.

Any time you want something and you feel the struggle of not being able to have it, try reframing your mindset – what is it you really want and how could you look at your situation differently?

And if you are stuck, please call me. I have learned a lot of tools over the years to get unstuck and I help clients every day move through challenges. Contact me and we’ll set up a time to talk on the phone.

 

© copyright 2014, Kathy Garland

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential. 

Today’s leaders are managing diverse teams and projects that require impeccable communication and decision making skills. The ability to clearly define the vision, goals and purpose of any business initiative that will motivate a team or individual is the key to achieving big results. 

Kathy specializes in coaching and mentoring these high potential, thought leaders to accurately define and communicate the vision, goals and expected results to management, teams and clients.

 

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Calm the Critic

Most of us have our own inner critic that tells us when we’ve made a mistake. And sometimes our inner critic chatters at us in the background when we are going for a goal, doing something differently than we’ve done before or attempting to perform in a situation where we’ve previously failed.

Common thinking says that if you’ve failed at something, chances are you will fail again and that you shouldn’t attempt it again and you should change course.

We’ve all heard stories of athletes who have been told they are too small, not talented or fast enough to make the team. And yet they kept on and eventually succeeded.  Uncommon thinkers like these are the ones that focus on their goals and dismiss the inner critic as well as the public critics.

I failed the driver’s license test the first time. It’s embarrassing, but I’ve always had test anxiety. Of course I had to take it again if I wanted to drive. Fortunately the second time I passed.

Negative self-talk is not based on your truth. It is based on someone else’s version of the truth and you’ve bought into it as though you have to match what they say and do.

Depending on our upbringing and the people we have in our lives, that inner critic can become very loud, like an obnoxious bird singing in our ear, incessantly.

It is a form of self-torture, really.

What would your life be like without such a loud self-critic in your mind?

What would be possible for you if you didn’t buy into everything that self-critic says you should or shouldn’t do?

It’s time to calm the critic within you. So how do you go about doing that?

The first thing to do is to acknowledge that sometimes you make decisions and base feelings on the inner self-critic’s voice. This causes you emotional stress and anxiety, which leads you to make ineffective choices.

The next thing to do is calm the inner critic by choosing to replace the negative self-talk with a more positive affirmation. Each time that voice starts nagging you, think of a positive affirmation to replace it. Come up with a thought that has only positive language in it.

These two steps will go a long way to calming your inner critic.

© copyright 2014, Kathy Garland

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential. 

Today’s leaders are managing diverse teams and projects that require impeccable communication and decision making skills. The ability to clearly define the vision, goals and purpose of any business initiative that will motivate a team or individual is the key to achieving big results. 

Kathy specializes in coaching and mentoring these high potential, thought leaders to accurately define and communicate the vision, goals and expected results to management, teams and clients.

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Use This Tip Now to Improve Your Results

This week I was reading an email from a friend who was sharing some goals with me. As I read it to absorb what she was saying, it occurred to me that she could do better.

I don’t mean I disagree with her goals. They were realistic and even optimistic. However, her email set my mind in motion around what I know about goals and going for what I want.

Think of the last time you set a specific goal. Chances are you either finished right on or pretty close. When we set a goal for something specific or ask someone for something we often get what we asked for or sought, that is, if we are committed and take action.

What if you could have even better results than what you declared in your goals?  

Next time you set goals add a few words at the end:

“…or something better.”

Adding this to your goals, dreams and plans expands your consciousness around your goal. It increases your awareness of what else is possible.

Let’s look at some examples –

1. Typical goal: 2 new consulting clients per month

Revised goal: 2 new consulting clients per month or even better. What if by only declaring two you leave yourself out of the picture for a new type of business or client?

2. Typical goal: I have <x> people on my mailing list by June 30.

Revised goal: I have <x> people or more on my mailing list by June 30.

Do you see how the energy of your goal feels more expanded? Improve your results with this simple tip.

I’d love to know how this works for you.

© copyright 2014, Kathy Garland

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential. 

Today’s leaders are managing diverse teams and projects that require impeccable communication and decision making skills. The ability to clearly define the vision, goals and purpose of any business initiative that will motivate a team or individual is the key to achieving big results. 

Kathy specializes in coaching and mentoring these high potential, thought leaders to accurately define and communicate the vision, goals and expected results to management, teams and clients.

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Five Ways to Speak Like a CEO

Billionaire Investor Warren Buffett captures the attention of his audiences, whether at an annual meeting, in a public speech or interview or through writing, with his personable and straightforward approach.

In studying his writing and watching videos of him speak, I’ve noticed a couple of communication traits that I feel are essential for a CEO or whatever level you are as a leader.

1. Be humble. Buffett speaks of his love for learning investing and says he was lucky to find what he wanted to do early in life.

2. Be genuine. He openly shares his success principles. He is straightforward in his answers to his shareholders at the annual meeting.

3. Be grateful. Buffett publicly acknowledges his mentors as well as his team who helps him generate the remarkable financial results of Berkshire Hathaway.

4. Be focused. He knows what he wants and has principles and rules he follows with absolute discipline. He communicates these to his team, his shareholders and in public speeches and interviews.

5. Be honest about your mistakes. He openly will share – and often have good humor – about investing mistakes. He talks about the reasons why and what he learned.

I got curious about his style when I received the 2013 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report this year. Usually I am bored reading annual reports but this one is much more engaging, in part, due to Warren Buffett’s open communication style.

A PDF of the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report is available online and I encourage you to read the Chairman’s letter on Page 3 to see for yourself how he writes in his personable style.

For a complimentary consultation on your personal communication style, contact me  to schedule a phone appointment.

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential.

© 2014 Kathy Garland

 

 

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#3 Change Your Commitments, Change Your Life

 

Kathy GarlandWe create our lives based on our commitments. If you’ve never thought of it this way, let’s take a look.

We have choice every day where to spend our time. People make commitments when they get a new job, are assigned new projects,  move to a new city, start an educational program, become a community volunteer as well as thousands of other daily choices. Making a  commitment comes from our choice to be in relationship or accomplish a task or a goal.

Where the pressure of commitments often gets us is when we take on a commitment without serious intent. We say yes because it feels  like the right thing to do, because of fear or guilt, because of our desire to help, because we want to be involved.

I realize I have made a lot of commitments based on wanting to help people, which I don’t regret at all. In my own introspection on this topic, I see I can be of service to more people and in a more committed way if I am more careful about the commitments I choose. In other words, I need to make commitments from serious intent, rather than it feeling like “I should” or “I want” to or “I better.”

What I want is a balance. It’s time for me to make more commitments to my own dreams and with serious intent. When you make a commitment to a go for a dream, you are opening up to your higher potential.

Notice dreams that keep floating into your awareness. Pick one that matters to you and aligns with your talents and abilities. For me, writing is calling me to make more serious commitments.

When you start to align your commitments with a dream and take action with serious intent, your life’s possibilities will expand and you will transform the struggle and pressure of commitments into a journey that will challenge you, activate your curiosity and reduce the struggle. You can find your hidden pearls of wisdom and genius by making a commitment to follow at least one dream.

For more on managing the pressure of commitments see the first and second blog in this series.

For a complimentary consultation on managing your commitments, contact me and I will connect with you to schedule a phone appointment.

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential.

© 2014 Kathy Garland

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#2 Struggling with the Pressure of Commitments

Some days my head hurts with the pressure of commitments I’ve made. Weekly I learn of great opportunities to expand my business, improve my life and make more money. I am getting better at ignoring all the wonderful opportunities except from a few people that I really trust. And then, I need to be very focused on what is best for my business and me. I don’t always do a good job of it and end up being overcommitted and not having enough downtime.

So what happens is I take care of the commitments I make to other people (I do want to get paid and keep my  relationships) and not those I make to myself. Therefore my book is not written and my 7-day online course is only  in concept stage.

I’m putting it out there before all my readers and God that I am going to narrow my focus and re-commit to writing  the book I want to publish.

You may need to do narrow your focus too. A few weeks ago a close friend of ours died and this experience is a reminder to focus on what is most important to me and create the work and the change I am here to make happen.

Did you create a list of your commitments? If not, there are tips in this post.

Once you have your list, review it carefully and make these choices:

1. Put a heart next to the commitments that matter most to you.

2. Put a star next to the ones you have promised and matter to you.

3. Cross off the list those that aren’t viable based on what you chose in #1 and #2. Let go of the projects and ideas that you feel you ‘should’ do that don’t support your brand or your personal goals. Unless you are getting paid for the project or it’s part of your job, you can move these off your hot list and free up time and emotional space.

Re-evaluate your commitments to lower your stress and maximize your opportunities.

Re-evaluate your commitments to lower your stress and maximize your opportunities.

For a complimentary consultation on managing your commitments, contact me and I will connect with you to schedule a phone appointment.

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential.

© 2014 Kathy Garland

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Struggling with the pressure of commitments?

Do you feel like you have more commitments than you can handle? It seems to be a condition of our lives right now. The last six weeks have been a period of transition for my family and some close friends so I’ve temporarily moved some projects to the back burner. So now I’m putting pressure on myself to get the things done I put aside during the last six weeks.

Hourglass photoI wouldn’t trade the time I spent with family and friends for anything, yet at times like these I see the sands of time slipping through the hourglass and feel out of control. It’s a struggle when I make commitments and life events pose a challenge to keep moving forward. To prioritize my time, I focus on the commitments I make to others and put commitments to myself aside. That’s a topic for another time.

If you are experiencing pressure and stress around the commitments you’ve made, you can do something about it. To reduce the pressure you feel around your commitments, it’s important to get a clearer picture of what obligations you personally accept. Synonyms to the verb commit (www.dictionary.com) include accomplish, achieve, act, carry out, complete.

That’s where the struggle is. When I make a commitment, I have full intention to complete it. Because I can’t predict the future, I experience stress over my inability to complete all of the commitments I’ve made when something unexpected happens, which of course it always does.

So I’ve taken a look at things I have done to help and things I want to do to get better at to manage the pressure of commitments. Here is a good place to start if you want to get better at managing your commitments. Identify your:

1. Regular commitments – examples: work, clients, exercise, and family commitments

2. Short-term commitments – examples: participating in mentoring certification, planning a family vacation, contributing to a joint venture project

3. Long-term commitments – examples: raising your children, your business/career goals, and your fitness goals, writing and publishing your book

In following posts, I will take a deeper look at the challenges of keeping commitments and more tips on what to do differently.

For a complimentary consultation on managing your commitments, contact me and I will connect with you to schedule a phone appointment.

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential.

© 2014 Kathy Garland

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Intention directs your attention

Recently while coaching a group of managers and executives, I asked them what they wanted to make sure they left with at the end of the day.

One woman said she wanted to discover two ideas or insights that she could use in managing her team and being a more effective leader. At the end of the day, she had discovered at least three key insights she could apply immediately and said that probably more would surface as she returned to work.

Her intention to discover key insights to help her be a more effective leader directed her attention during the day. She didn’t consciously evaluate every activity or conversation to look for insights. They emerged throughout the day during our table discussions and over lunch with her colleagues. And to make sure she understood the value of intention, I asked her in the afternoon debrief and wrap-up what she learned to direct her attention back to her intention.

Setting an intention is a great way to start each day. Recently I was on a business trip to Boston with a friend and we decided to stay in Boston over the weekend. As we set out on Saturday morning, we stated our intention of the experience we wanted to have that day. We wanted to have an easy, fun day, meet interesting people and be joyful everywhere we went. We did have a great day and accomplished what we set out to do plus discovered more along the way.

You can use intention in any area of your life. The most important thing is to make it simple. Create one intention and then let the day emerge.

You can set an intention for what you want to learn from a book or a conversation.

You can set an intention of the experience you want to create for a client meeting.

You can set an intention for how you want to be in your relationships.

Intention indicates present and future focus. Intention directions your attention.

Here are some examples:

Today, my intention is to stay present and focused in all my conversations.

Today, my intention is for my meetings to be efficient and create the best solution for everyone involved.

Today I want to create clarity so I can move forward on <you name the project here.>

Today, I bring energy and enthusiasm to everyone I meet.

When you make statements of intent like this, your conscious and subconscious mind will direct your attention and your focus. To get the full benefit of this exercise, give yourself a few minutes at the end of the day to reflect on your intentions and what you noticed.

For a complimentary consultation on the power of setting intentions, contact me and I will connect with you to schedule a phone appointment.

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential.

© 2014 Kathy Garland

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