Finding Your Voice

Finding your voice
Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay 

The past.

The past interactions.

The past emotional triggers.

These three silenced their voice.

I had the privilege of talking this out with them.

They explained the barriers. The things that prevent them from speaking up.

They explained the stress of finding not only the right words, but any words in the moment.

They explained about the constant overthinking and assigning motive.

They explained the constant reminders of the past.

“What is a way forward? What does finding your voice mean here? Where can you start?”

We talked about value, worth, and standing up and speaking up.

They agreed to try again. To set aside those events and triggers, and find their voice.

It wasn’t going to be easy, but the way forward would begin with looking for the next opportunity, pausing in the moment, and finding their voice despite the barriers. They were practicing, even in our conversation as the words poured out.

A few days later I got a message. The opportunity arrived. They found their voice and spoke up.

Despite the fear, and the anxiety, and all of the stuff that could get in the way, they took the leap and expressed their need.

They found their voice – AND – the organization responded!

The perceived barriers were not really our there in the organization, but created an internal barrier. These barriers were an historical lens that was not clearing seeing the present or the opportunities of today and future days.

How has the past, the prior interactions, and the triggers created internal barriers that silenced your voice?

How does finding your voice look moving forward?

How can you remember you worth and value to the organization and express what you need?

We are rooting for you, and look forward to hearing about how the organization, the person, the group, or the universe responds when you speak up!

Tow Truck Driver Attentive

Image by Greg Reese from Pixabay

His name was Chris.

He was the second tow truck driver that day. (We learned about turnpike authority, State Police and tow truck jurisdiction that day, but that is another story.)

We talked and asked him a few questions. Questions about the job, what he likes, what he doesn’t like.

We learned that most people are so upset when their cars break down, that they are mean and rude to the tow truck driver (the very person there to come to the rescue). We learned that the work is long (12 hour shifts) and is a little boring. We learned which cars get towed a lot, and which ones never get towed – except for accidents.

But then things shifted.

Chris began to ask us questions.

Where were we going? What did we do? What type of program were we presenting? Will we still be able to make it there in time?

Chris, and his questions continued.

How did we get into this line of work? What was it like getting started? Did it take a lot of money, effort, or time? How did we create content?

His questions showed he was listening. He would reflect on our responses, wait for each of us to speak, then follow up with additional questions. Sometimes going back to one of our original answers and asking a follow up or asking how it connected to the new idea or response.

He asked about our clients, how we find them (or how they find us) and how we market ourselves, and our competition.

He was more interested and attentive than many people in our own circles. As consultants and coaches, we are used to asking the questions, we are used to teaching people how to coach and listen and ask questions. We are not used to this type of attentive behavior.

It was amazing.

Being listened to and heard is something that feels special when it happens. There are so many ways to be distracted today, especially during a conversation. We half listen while doing other things, and often we “keep it light” and never really talk to people about the deeper things.

Ironically we were on our way to teach about Coaching and how to listen and ask questions as a coach.

Thanks to Chris, we now have a new standard as coaches on how to listen and ask questions.

We want to strive to be Tow Truck Driver Attentive.

Tow Truck Driver Attentive: to become the kind of coaches (and people) who listen well, ask questions and display genuine curiosity and interest in those around you.

For the next week, try to be Tow Truck Driver Attentive to those around you. In your various circles, listen and ask questions. Follow up and be curious. You may find or learn something new and make those around feel important and special.

Thanks for the example Chris.

You showed us a little magic on an otherwise stressful and tough day.

Sincere Appreciation

Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay 

People do things well. We want them to know.

People do things well. They want to know.

We want to express appreciation. We want it to be sincere.

They want to be appreciated. They want it to be sincere.

We have barriers to showing appreciation. Fear, Ego, weird “great, great, great, great, great” patterns.

They have barriers to receiving appreciation. Fear, Ego, and that damn Narrator.

How do we show sincere appreciation? How do we satisfy the need?

Try these three simple steps.

  1. Tell them what they did.
  2. Explain the positive impact it had.
  3. Express appreciation.

What does this sound like?

“Mary, I wanted to let you know that the report you created for that customer was very helpful. They were confused, and you brought clarity. They went from hesitant to signing with us. Thank you for your hard work, your ability to simplify issues for the customers is very helpful, I am so glad you are here on the team.”

“Bill, I noticed last night that after the long day at work you spent time with the kids helping with their homework. Your patience and ability to explain the homework in more concrete terms helped them “get it.” Thank you for the sacrifice and for giving them the gift of your time, especially when you are tired.”

Jessica, thank you for taking out the trash as well as the recycling. Since your sister has been away at school, you have had to take on a few more responsibilities around the house. Your taking initiative to pick up these chores has helped us all with the new workload around the house. Thank you for pitching in and helping, it makes a real difference. Want to go get some ice cream?

Sincere appreciation helps them know they are seen.

Sincere appreciation helps them know their work makes a difference.

Three simple steps. Now we just need to act.

Try it out and let us all know how it goes.

And to help lead the way, I am going first.

Dear Readers of this work. You read, view, comment, share, and like this blog and have been doing so for years. Your participation has made me feel like I not only have a voice in this space, but can make a difference in the lives of others. Thank you so much for reading this, especially with all the choices you have out there. Your words of encouragement or even a “like” helps me break through my own narration that I shouldn’t keep doing this. Thank you for being here.

Want to go get some ice cream?

Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Not Great

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

They pulled me aside during the break. We were just talking about giving feedback and showing appreciation to others. They stayed at their table while everyone else got up for the break and snacks.

“Can I share something with you?”

I came in a little closer, my mind racing to replay the last few minutes to see if I said anything weird.

“You talked about providing sincere feedback and appreciation. Making sure that it is not a superficial ‘drive-by’. I just realized that I was taught to do this in college, and have been providing this my whole career.”

They studied physical education. They were taught a method of feedback. It was intended to help young children with basic early skills.

In order to pass this class, they were timed and had to provide 5 quick positive feedbacks, before they could provide 1 redirecting ones. They were filmed and each positive had to be different but quick.

Great job.

Nice job.

Awesome job.

Way to go.

Yay.

You could do this better.

They didn’t realize it but had been following this method for more than 20 years.

They saw that their feedback was systematic not sincere.

They realized that this scattering of seemingly shallow praise was not hitting the target.

They were well intentioned, but needed to change.

They didn’t even realize the pattern they formed.

What feedback patterns are you caught in?

How has systematic replaced sincerity?

Over the next few posts we will tackle a few ways to provide feedback and appreciation.

Until then, start to notice your own pattern.

Throw the Wrench

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

It was the opening line of the email that caught my attention.

I don’t want to throw a wrench in this, but…

The accepted definition of this phrase or idiom “Throwing a Wrench into the Works” means to damage or change (something) in a way that ruins it or prevents it from working properly.

But that is not what was happening here.

They were not trying to damage or ruin the project.

Their wrench was an idea to improve the situation.

But sometimes the project is already moving forward, and we are afraid of Wrenches causing delay or disruption.

Sometimes we have invested in a strategy or direction, and we are afraid of Wrenches causing us to move or admit we may have to accept a sunk cost.

Sometimes the world has changed from when we started the initiative, and we are afraid of Wrenches causing us to start over and change course.

How about a new definition of what it means to Throw the Wrench.

To Throw the Wrench is to speak up and offer an alternative.

To Throw the Wrench is to express your reservation or concerns.

To Throw the Wrench is to help an organization from making a mistake (or further mistakes).

Maybe more than ever, we need you to Throw the Wrench.

As organizations, we need to listen to, learn from, foster, and encourage the Wrench Throwers.

We need the Wrench Throwers to speak up, offer ideas and alternatives, and let us know before we make large mistakes.

One idea to foster the kind of organization that encourages people to Throw that Wrench is to create a contest for the best Wrench Throw. How about prizes and a celebration of speaking up and offering alternatives.

My closing advice to all of you: Throw the Wrench.

Growing or Evolving

Image by Shepherd Chabata from Pixabay

Sometimes growing is the result of a solid strategy in the marketplace.

Sometimes growing is the result of timing and circumstances.

Sometimes growing is a little bit of luck, and a lot of hard work.

But one day the growing slows.

The growing stops.

We keep trying the strategies, the timing, the luck, and the hard work to keep growing, but we begin to shrink instead.

The world and the marketplace has changed.

The timing and circumstances are no longer the same.

The luck is no longer there.

The hard work seems to work against us.

Growing fooled us.

Being bigger with more clients, or more marketshare, didn’t make us better.

What worked before won’t work today (or tomorrow).

Instead of measuring the growing, we need to measure the evolving.

Are we evolving with our customers’ needs?

Are we evolving with the marketplace?

Are we evolving our services, our offerings, our strategy, toward the future? Are we relying on the past?

Growing works for a while, but evolving will keep you in the game in the long run.

Has growing mislead you? How can you and your company start evolving? Contact me and together we can discover the path to evolving.