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.


#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


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


Your Personal Power – tips for solving problems

Have you ever been stuck on how to solve a problem? Recently I’ve been stuck on which topic to use for an ebook. I’ve got lots of titles in my mind and several actually started. Coming up with ideas is not my problem. If there were an idea store, mine would be full of inventory. I can picture all those ideas waiting on shelves to be manifested.

During my agency career, I had a wonderful opportunity to work with 3M. I learned that 3M scientists are able to spend a certain percentage of their time on research and development that is not associated with a product planned for production. So they get paid to spend time dreaming up ideas and tinkering with cool stuff.  My kind of day!

What I further learned was that there are lots of potential products on the shelves of 3M. Even though there are many great ideas, it takes a carefully planned and concerted effort to get an idea into production. The scientist must be able to come up with a practical application for the idea and sell it to the leaders who make the decisions on products that go to market. Until then it is an idea on a shelf with no possibility of creating revenue. That is often the problem – how to take a great idea and turn it into something that is practical, creates value and generates revenue.

Do you have lots of ideas in your inventory and don’t know what to do with them? Here are a couple of steps I use when I need to solve a problem:

1. Sit still. I’ve had to learn this. As a person who likes to be busy and get things done, sitting still is not always easy. It is contrary to getting those ideas manifested. Yet when I do sit still with pen and paper in hand, answers start flowing into my mind. The key is to be willing to show up for the answers without knowing ahead of time what the answer will be.

2. Create space or time free of distractions. When I get up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. I can access answers that I can’t reach during the hectic day. One of my favorite places is in a comfortable chair by a window and looking out into our backyard. When I don’t get up as early, I often head out with my iPod and sit in a public place, tune out and think and write to come up with solutions.

2. Go for a walk. This is the opposite of sitting still of course. However, you will want to try different approaches to discover what works for you. Walking outside in fresh air is the best. Bonus points for you if you can get to a park or nature trail.

For a complimentary consultation on problem-solving, 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


The Reluctant Leader

Occasionally, I will have in one of my groups a person who isn’t quite aligned with his or her role as a leader. This could be because of the need for skill building or it could be some insecurities or uncertainties about being a leader. If you are a leader of leaders and you have a person on your team who is being disruptive, you could have a reluctant leader.

Sometimes, these uncertainties and fears play out in observable behaviors. Here are a few signs that you may have a reluctant leader on your team:

1. Inappropriate use of humor. Humor is good in the workplace unless it becomes overly sarcastic or is targeted at other people on the team in an uncomfortable way. Mostly I’ve seen inappropriate humor used to deflect attention from the person using it. It makes everyone laugh, the situation is deflected and everyone moves on avoiding an issue. Other times, the person using inappropriate humor needs to be the center of attention and chooses his or her comments at times that disrupt the work flow and conversation.

Inappropriate use of humor can diminish your team’s energy and should have no place in your company culture. Other impacts of inappropriate humor are that it can alienate people and slow down production and effectiveness. There is a fine line here because as a leader, you don’t want to squelch appropriate fun in the workplace. You have to know where the boundaries are with someone who uses humor all the time.

You may want to have a conversation with this person and find out more about them. Why do they use humor? Be prepared that the person may be defensive and make light of your comments.

2. Missed deadlines. Usually people have really good rationale as to why a deadline is missed. You will want to observe and consider whether this person has a time management issue or is afraid of making a mistake, which are additional signs of a reluctant leader. Another possibility is that he or she needs to learn better collaboration and influence skills. Missed deadlines are more than a nuisance. They impact the bottom line.

3. Solving the wrong problem. This may be more relevant to your team members who are less experienced leaders. However, solving the wrong problem has broad impacts from missing your customers’ expectations to lowering revenues and profits. If you have a team or a leader that is solving the wrong problem and you know you’ve been clear about the expected outcome, you will want to explore if that person really wants to succeed or is operating from his or her own agenda. Either way, there is a reluctance to align with the corporate vision and solve the right problems for the company and your customers.

New leaders are usually eager to do a great job and may have anxiety about performance. New leaders or those with less empathic or social intelligence may not be aware of their impact on others.

One of your main jobs as a leader is to mentor, coach and work with all your leaders. Regular conversations and feedback are essential to supporting your leaders and particularly your new leaders. The impact as they experience your support and guidance will help them gain confidence and eliminate any issues you may have with a reluctant leader.

For a complimentary consultation on mentoring your employees, 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


Win More Through Collaboration

Women are natural collaborators.

To collaborate literally means to work together. A second definition refers to working with an enemy, which emerged during World War II, and collaboration got a bad name. I think this is the frame of reference a lot of people have when they are told they need to collaborate.

Our survival instincts kick in and we develop a natural protection for our teams, our ideas and our processes. However, why should we collaborate? Here are a few reasons you can benefit from collaborating with others:

–       Extend your reach

–       Hone your influence skills

–       Develop relationships

–       Build trust

–       Create better solutions

–       Build your reputation

One of the biggest wins in my career relied heavily on collaboration. I was head of business development for a creative agency. When I received the call to participate in an agency review for a large account, the whole company was excited. It was just the type of company we wanted in our portfolio.

The review process was demanding and required our best thinking and talent. Our competition was world-class and we were the ones that had to step up. Had I tried to hold onto the process and direct the teams on what to do, there may not have been a story to tell.

Because we were a small company, everyone from the owners to the bookkeeper had a role in this business development opportunity. The designers and researchers played a central role in developing the strategy that ultimately helped us win the largest account in the history of the company.

My role during that whole process was, as I like to describe it, more like an orchestra conductor. I worked to bring out everyone’s best and brightest ideas to create the multiple presentations we gave during the agency review process. I relied on my strategic thinking to ask questions of the team to help them solve the client’s problem and to position our company as the best one for the job.

However, during the process, I constantly stayed in communication with all the team members, interacting with each one of them to make sure our pitch was rock solid. The result was a solution that ultimately changed the way our client’s industry marketed to consumers.

Our ability to collaborate and bring all the ideas together created miraculous results for us. A few years later, I left that company and found myself in a company culture that was extremely competitive and judgmental where people focused on promoting their own ideas and playing what appeared to me to be an adult version of “King of the Hill.” I didn’t stay long at that company as I didn’t like being in such a highly competitive environment.

Bottom line, if you can learn to collaborate effectively, you will be more successful as a leader. To improve your collaboration skills try these tips:

–       Ask great questions

–       Be open to new ideas

–       Set your ego aside

–       Study leaders like orchestra conductors or team coaches to understand how to foster group collaboration

You can also learn some tips from Software Advice‘s article on these five women executives who have risen to executive ranks by using collaborative and questioning skills.

For a complimentary consultation on your leadership challenges and opportunities, 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


Win More in 2014

Whether you want to win more business, win in relationships, health, prosperity, there are certain habits and practices that will contribute to your success. While I was writing an article this morning, I looked for some decision models to support leaders during times of change and transition. Stephen Covey’s Quadrant Model from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People came to mind. During my search for more details and perspective on the topic, I found an article in Forbes by Eric Jackson on what to focus on from The Habits.

His best advice is to use the 4 quadrant model at the beginning of each week to plan your time. Most people focus on the Urgent and Important things, not enough time on Important/Not Urgent projects and too much time on Not Important/Not Urgent such as mindless browsing on Facebook and other sites. Note I said mindless. If you are using these sites to build your business that fits into one of the important categories, however, make sure you know what return you get for your time investment.

I offer coaching sessions on how to prioritize your work, bring out your best strengths and help you focus you on the path to success and prosperity. Please contact me for more information.

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

Below is a graphic you can use each week to keep focused on what is most important.

Use this matrix, adapted from Stephen Covey's original Time Management Quadrant, to plan your weekly priorities

Use this matrix to plan your weekly priorities




YOU can only go UP! from here

This morning on the way home from my workout, the song “Up!” by Shania Twain came up on my playlist. It’s a funny, upbeat song about a day that started out bad and her positive attitude that life can only go up from here.

That’s a theme that you can adopt in your business and life. Simple, yet powerful. You can use this approach to change your thoughts and attitudes about what is happening to you.

Next time you have a frustrating or discouraging moment or result, tell yourself “I can only go up from here!” Notice your reactions and your feelings. Over time, you’ll retrain your thought patterns to be more optimistic and open about your challenges.

If you are going through change, figuring out what’s next or in some sort of transition, you can especially use “I can only go up from here!” as a mantra to lighten up your stress.

I’ve used this phrase (and I admit – even sing along enthusiastically in the car) plus a few others including “What else is possible?” to get me unstuck and moving forward.

Kathy Garland's weekend seminar

Write down your 2014 plan

This is the time of year to plan a starting point for 2014 focus and goals as well as finishing 2013 strongly.

What will you do to move confidently into 2014? If you’d like to get started now, I’m offering a weekend seminar that will help you finish 2013 strong and have an early starting point for 2014.

This weekend seminar is focused on you and drawing out what you want to accomplish and where you want to spend your energy and time in 2014.

It starts November 15, 2013.

Here are more details on your starting point for 2014. Visit my website for other programs on navigating transition.


Bad news does not get better over time

This is one of my favorite quotes from a designer I worked with in Minneapolis. Occasionally we would need to tell a client that a project would cost more than the original estimate due to their changes or that we needed more time, or something they wanted was not available. There is a fine art to telling people no or communicating bad news.

Everyone has to deliver bad news from time to time or say no. I always respect people who will notify me without delay when there is something I need to know.

If you need to tell someone no or deliver bad news, remember these keys:

– Tell the person as soon as possible. If you are reluctant to tell her or him, it will get worse over time.

– Be respectful. State your reasons why and be truthful.

– Keep emotions out of it as much as possible. Use facts to support your decision.

– Talk directly to the person who is your primary contact.

– Carefully choose your communication method. In person or phone is preferable. To me, email is not a respectful way to decline if the person who is being notified has a lot at stake or has invested time with you, such as a big proposal or a job interviews. To resign from a volunteer commitment for example, should be communicated by phone or in person. Saying no to a lunch invitation is certainly fine to communicate through email.

The most important thing about saying no is that once you make a decision, you communicate that as soon as possible to the person who needs to know.