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.

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.

The Non-Discounted List

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

It was a simple call. Connecting with a former colleague and young talented professional. Catching up on life, and moves, and kids, and the next. It was good to hear their voice.

As we discussed the next (the next chapter, the next adventure, the next role, the next possible career choice) the tone changed. What was normally enthusiasm and optimism took a sharp turn toward self doubt.

“I’m not really an expert or very good at any one thing. I am to sure what I have to offer.”

We talked a little more and came up with a plan, with homework of course.

The homework was to make a list of all the things they can do, or have done.

But not just any list. The non-discounted list. Brainstorming and writing down without limits or assuming that those experiences have no value.

The non-discounted list is NOT letting our mind, or our narrator discredit or take away from the things we have and can do.

The non-discounted list reminds us of all the experiences, training, and skills we have picked up along life’s journey.

The non-discounted list gives us hope for the future and the next.

We will connect again to review the non-discounted list. But in the interim, I’ve decided to make my list as well. A reminder of all the things that may add value, help others, and make a difference.

Sometimes we forget about all the skills we pick up along the way.

So today, maybe you should make a list. But not any old list. The non-discounted list of all that you can bring into the world. When you do make your list, I would love to read it.

Why I Don’t Like Working With Me (and how it explains why others don’t either)

I notice patterns.

Good patterns, and bad ones.

Recently I noticed a pattern of how often I can frustrate others when we work together.

I noticed a pattern of people around me defaulting to doing things my way, or pausing before taking action to see how I want it done.

I also noticed a pattern of how often I interject how I want things done a certain way when they start to take action.

And there is another pattern.

I noticed a pattern in my solitary projects.

I noticed a pattern of demanding perfection in my own work.

I noticed a pattern of self-criticism for any mistakes.

The other day while running with a close friend we talked about these patterns.

“I’m not trying to create such a high standard for those around me. I want them to be able to do things their way.”

The run continued. The next question exposed the underlying pattern.

“What is it like for You to work with You?”

A brutal pattern.

A pattern of unrealistic demand for perfection with no grace.

I had never considered what it was like for Me to work with Me.

My mind scanned the various projects over the years.

I still see the flaws, the imperfections, and the issues.

I also saw the list of unfinished projects, and those projects never started.

Working with me was so daunting that I stopped various projects and there were others that I could not bring myself to start.

“Maybe you need to learn to be kind to yourself first.”

The last pattern.

The pattern of fooling myself.

The pattern of fooling myself into believing that I could hold myself to a standard of perfections, but I could show kindness, grace, and flexibility to others.

But they saw the pattern.

They saw how I treated myself.

They knew they would be treated the same way.

It was time to be honest.

I don’t like working with me.

I’m too harsh, too demanding, too intolerant of mistakes.

I’m the reason why others are frustrated, defaulting to my way, or not taking action.

Where do I go from here?

I need a new pattern.

A new pattern of being kind to myself.

A new pattern of allowing reasonable standards, grace for mistakes, and progress over perfection.

Isn’t it funny how often we assume the pattern is outside of us?

What is it like for You to work with You?

How could a little self-kindness change your patterns?

P.S. Thanks for your patience in this long blog post drought. I’m working on a new website, but working with me as been rough and getting in the way of making progress. More details soon, but thank you again for reading and sharing these posts.

 

 

The Distorted Lens

It was almost the same day.

Three separate conversations.

Three inspiring people.

One common theme: the distorted lens.

The distorted lens is similar to the Hubble’s Mirror Problem that resulted in distorted and out of focus images, but in this case the distorted and out of focus images were how each of these people viewed themselves.

The distorted lens is subtle, because you can still see yourself. Like Hubble’s problem, the flaw is so slight and happens so early that it may go unnoticed. Unnoticed until someone else looks through the distorted lens. Images that were supposed to be accurate and clear are blurry and fuzzy. That is when we find the problem.

The distorted lens convinced one of these people that they were incompetent, instead of realizing that their prior job was just the wrong behavioral fit.

The distorted lens continually interferes with another’s ability to see themselves as inspiring to others despite their accomplishments and people gravitating towards them to be coached/trained.

The distorted lens downplays the impact that the third person is having on others in their workplace, and caused real surprise that they were voted MVP amongst their peers for the positive influence they have on others, both personally and professionally.

All three of these conversations illustrate how the distorted lens interferes with our ability to view the impact we have on others, and how others view us.

The distorted lens is flawed for a host of reasons, one of which is our own fears, insecurities, Our Narrator, and baggage. The distorted lens tries for force us to view today through our past failures, struggles, and pain as if those events disqualified us, instead of making us who we are today.

The bad news: the more I work with amazing and talented people, the more I realize the distorted lens is pretty universal.

The good news: like an optometrist who can measure your eye’s distortion and prescribe corrective lenses, we have a few tools to measure the distorted lens of your own self-view.

Measuring your “Sense of Self” is the first step. We can see if the distorted lens is slightly off, or requires more assistance. Since you have been viewing your life through the distorted lens for so long, you may not even notice how blurry and out of focus life has become.

If you need help with the distorted lens, reach out and contact us. We are happy to help fit you for some “corrective lenses” or at least help you understand the level of distortion.

If nothing else, remember that the distorted lens is out there, and the next time you are tempted to view yourself in a negative light, or discount your achievements, pause for a moment and ask yourself,

“What if my view is through the distorted lens?”