A fresh start in 2015 for me!
I am doing a few upgrades, changes and additions, as well as stopping doing some other things. As such, simply a bog name change from "Kathy's Ramblings" to just "Blog".
What that means for those of you that follow me here, is that you you need to slide over here and start following the blog posts there.
I won't delete the posts here. They are safe for you to come back to when ever you want.
Thanks for continuing to come back and read my posts. Let me know if there is anything in particular you'd like to hear about from me.
For those technical folks out there - I couldn't simply change the name of the page as that would remove all the back links for past blogs.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of my sister’s death. You would think that after 30 years, I’d be “over it”. Nope. I still miss her and even more now, miss what our relationship might have become.
This week I participated in our Blue Christmas service at our Church. As I read the 40+ names of the “Angel’s” that our community has lost, my voice was strong and clear, until I hit the name “Glenda Fleming” my sister. I broke down. Not just tears as “most” people do, but sobs. I was grateful for the compassion of my friend Darlene who came to my side and helped me continue to read the remainder of the names.
I would be lying to you if I told you I love the Christmas season.
I work to make Christmas as joyous as I can,
To be honest, I’d much rather it be summer and I would prefer to be fishing at the lake. Oh don't get me wrong. I love some things about Christmas. I am one of the first to start listening to Christmas carols and they play continuously in my home. I love the lights. I love getting special gifts for special people. I especially love that our family all is together during this time.
For me, I look back over many Christmas’s and see events that dimmed the joy. I remember 3 years after my sister passed away, still fresh with the grief, I felt, very lonely. My husband and I had travelled to his sisters to celebrate the holidays. There was a houseful of people, yet, despite that, it felt like no one to experience my grief with me.
Another year, I had gone through some really challenging times a work and only 3 people showed up to the staff Christmas party I planned. Depressed and not sure I ever wanted to go back to work, I took two weeks off and tried, albeit not very successfully to “enjoy the holiday”.
The season is dimmed by many experiences
I know many of you have similar memories. Job loss. Relationships falling apart. Addictions. Always having to work. No one to spend it with. The list goes on.
The truth is, we all have a multitude of things that happen to us during the holiday season. We also have numerous things happen to us at other times, but there is something about the holiday season that makes it much harder to take. The songs and social media tell us “It’s the happiest time of the year”. Um…sorry to burst that bubble, but for some of us, it is not the happiest time of the year. In fact, it is a very difficult time of year.
Yet the show must go on
There are gifts to be bought. Parties to attend and food to cook. And honestly, it's no fun being a scrooge. So how do you do it?
Here is what I have learned about getting through the holiday season.
We create our experiences
This year, allow yourself to be human. Acknowledge your pain. Feel your hurt. It is real. What is also real is the fun, the joy and the good times going on around you.
If you allow yourself to enjoy, you will enjoy. But it is you who must decide, what kind of Christmas, it's going to be.
I plan to make it a memorable one. I will tuck lots of little moments of joy away in my heart adding to all the other beautiful Christmas memories I have.
It is through review and reflection that we do our best learning
and thus set the best direction for our future.
We need time to process
Have you ever said to some one, "Let me think about that" or "Just let me talk this through out loud?" That is why reflection is so valuable. It is how we make sense of things.
I developed some questions for you to look at as a review of this year. I want you to be intentional in looking at where you have been so that you can plan for 2015 more consciously. As I started to review them with my client, I realized they needed some work.
Take a look at the questions I listed in my video...and how they evolved this morning. Then, take some time to answer (likely the second set) them yourself.
Look how reflection changed my questions for you
Start looking at how this information can inform what you want for 2015. Start to look at the areas that you want to set goals and what they might look like.
Setting goals for the future can be a bit overwhelming and daunting. If you are looking for help, there are a number of places you can look. As a friend or spouse to sit down with you and help be your sounding board. One of my favourite thought leaders Michael Hyatt is offering help with his 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever offer. If you'd like to book a session with me to organize your thoughts and set some intentions, contact me here.
I posted this earlier this week on my other blog on my Women with Grit website. I think it fits here nicely this week as well. We all have "bad" days and days when life gets the best of us. Yet I know for me, "the show must go on". How do I do it? Keep reading to find out.
Last night, I got about 3 hours less sleep than I normally do. There are some things on my mind today, which are causing me to find myself fairly distracted.
Low energy and low emotions make it hard to focus and feel productive.
Yet, the reality is, that there are lots of days like this. Our lives are not perfect. In fact they are full of things that could derail us if we let them. A few times today it did derail me. Yet I persevered. I kept at it. At the end of the day, I have done most of what I intended to do today.
See, I have this desire, and maybe you do to, to be exceptional at what I do.
Know where you are going
Always have your goals and vision in mind. When you know what you are working towards and heading for, it’s easier to keep a bit of energy and excitement towards it, even when the reserves are low.
I completed my renewal application today for my ICF Credentials as Certified Coach. I am very proud of my coach training and the coaching I do. I also am clear that I am working towards becoming a Master Certified Coach. Seeing how far I’ve come and how firmly I am on the right path was motivation to keep moving through my day.
You continue on. When your mind wanders, you bring it back. When you get lost on something for a few minutes, you catch yourself and you bring it back. Be persistent with yourself. Life is up to us. We have to decide what we want and go after it. That requires hard work some times. If you are riding a bike up a hill, you have to just keep going. There are no real “tricks” to getting there. There are strategies around gears and body position yes. But ultimately, the biker needs to put in the hard work.
I always go back to my plan. My Omnifocus has clearly laid out what I am to be working on each day. In the way I set it up, it guides me and tells me I need to post a blog today. I didn’t have to think about what to do. I just have to do the work. Build strategies to help you persevere through challenging days.
An athlete doesn’t give up working out simply because of an injury, he just works his body in a different way. There were some things on my schedule today that I didn’t do. I didn’t have the energy or focus for them. So I adjusted and will do them tomorrow or the next day.
This morning I re-evaluated my day. I prioritized what was an absolute that needed to be done, and what was an “I hope to get done”. I made sure the absolute things got done. I saved my energy for the on-line training I did because my clients matter most to me. They need me at my best. Some of the others things, got draft quality…and will get upgraded, on a good day.
Stay focused. Be persistent. Adjust when need be, but keep moving forward. You will reach your goal!
Listen here for more info about getting through the rough days
Giving ourselves time to think is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Most of us rarely spend much time in self-reflection. While we know it might be beneficial, we don’t believe we have time. In fact, what we tend to do is we often blame others for not giving us time to think.
Playing victim does not win you time to self-reflect. It just makes you crazy.
Do Self-reflection intentionally
The random reflection is important. To take reflection to the next notch though, you may want to intentionally set aside time for focused self-reflection. This might be time to think about a specific event, a conversation or a challenging situation you are currently trying to sort out. In being more intentional during self-reflection, you can give your mind time to work its way around whatever you need to sort out.
How to do Self-reflection
Here’s an example of how I used self-reflection to sort out my dilemma
I was at a meeting the other day and someone said something offensive to another member of the team. The comment was meant as a joke, however, it was grossly inappropriate. As one of the leaders in this group, I felt it was my responsibility to address it.
I want to have something to say that will not only stop the negative behavior but also inspire the individual making the inappropriate comment to consider their impact and become more conscious in how they say things. It is through my self-reflection that I can get my desired outcome.
Let self-reflection grow your leadership
Self-reflection allows us to be aligned with our purpose and values. It can have us become more intentional in getting the impact we desire and going in the direction we want to go. We have to, however, make the time to do it. Add self-reflection to the top of your To Do list today!
Let me help you out with some regular reminders about slowing down.
Join me for Coffee Break with Kathy
What is the point in you being in a Leadership role?
You might be shaking your head right now, saying, “I have no idea”.
Are you lost?
Leaders of all kinds get lost. They loose track of where they are, what they are supposed to be doing and for what reason. If you are one of these lost leaders, you might notice you spend more time running around putting out fires, rather than on what you "should" be doing. Leaders who are lost seem to miss the priorities. Because of this they often burn themselves out. If you are lost, you might feel, well actually, you might feel lost!
My clients say things to me like:
When a leader looses their way, they become bitter, agitated and not very much fun to work for.
The whole point of leadership is that we are going somewhere
The reason we have leaders in leadership is for some specific reason and because of that reason, people will follow us.
So what is your purpose?
What is your point or your purpose in leading this organization?
That question may be harder to answer. Yet when you find the answer(s) and identify your core purpose, it’s easier to lead and people will follow you more willingly.
Your purpose may seem to change over time
I found that my purpose seemed to changed many times in my duration as leader. At times my purpose was to get my team through accreditation, contract negotiations or proposal writing. I had the purpose many time of getting new programs up and running. At other times, the purpose in my role was to build a strong team after some challenges. Now though, looking back, my overall purpose I see was to grow the staff that reported to me. It was to leave a legacy of leadership.
Now looking back, I consider the staff that used to report to me. I see where I gave them skills, tools and confidence to step into their leadership. I wish I’d seen that more clearly back then. I believe it would have allowed me to get clearer with them, provide them with more opportunities and training.
What about you? Are you running around like a chicken with your head cut off, not knowing where you are going? It might be time to find some direction.
#leadwithpurpose means you have a clear sense of what you are doing and where you are going as the leader of your team and of the organization.
Finding your core purpose
So how do you find your purpose? It’s not a simple, two-minute exercise. It is a mindful process that takes some time. If you want to get clear on your purpose, intentionally set aside some time to go through the process of review, reflection and identification.
Have some conversations. Talk to you staff, peers, colleagues, family and perhaps a Coach.
It’s also great to do this kind of work in a group. Work together with some peers to mine for the gold!
Start somewhere with identifying what your core purpose it. You may alter it and tweak it as time goes on to get the words right.
If you are looking for some help to find your core purpose, you might want to consider my Growing Great Women Leaders training. Together with a group of women, you will reflect and learn to become the leader you want to be. Yes, you will come out with identifying your purpose.
Sitting at my desk, I was livid! Now, looking back I couldn’t tell you what had made me so angry, but I remember that I probably could have spit nails at the time. A particular staff had once again done something that pushed me so hard that:
a) I wanted to throttle her and
b) I had the urge to run and never come back.
Yet, I had to start the weekly staff meeting in 5 minutes.
I tried to mask what I was feeling
What did I do? I pushed down the anger as far as I could. I went upstairs with a pasted smile on my face and sat at the head of the table with my group of staff. I then pretended to be polite while I was seething inside as worked my way through the items on the agenda. It was a pretty tense meeting if my memory serves me correctly!
I was focused on making her look bad
Passion and compassion in that moment never came to my mind. Well, violent angry passion perhaps, but not passion for my work. In that moment, I had very little desire to connect to the core values of what we were doing or, to the clients we were serving. In fact, my mind was racing with ideas of ways to get back at the staff that had hurt me so much. I was trying to figure out how to make her look bad, instead of me
I wish I could go back in time and try this instead
If I had chose in that moment to instead follow my #leadwithyourheart mantra that I now regularly use to guide me, I suspect things would have been different.
I might have authentically started the meeting with “Something happened this morning that has thrown me off my game. I’d like to do something that reconnects not only me, but all of us to why we do this work.”
Here's another way
Or ... I may have sat for two minutes in silent reflection before heading up to the meeting and accessed compassion. But I would have not only found compassion for the person who had made me so angry but also for myself and the situation that I found myself in. That doesn’t mean I would have said “oh poor me” or “oh poor her”. Compassion is about sympathy for another’s misfortunes, but it is also quickly followed by a desire to alleviate their suffering (or my own).
Finding alignment works better
By accessing compassion for a moment, I perhaps would have found where the other person and I aligned. We may both be fighting for the same side; our client. We both may have been concerned for our own work-life balance. We may have had seemingly opposing views yet strikingly similar ones when I stood back and looked at them. A colleague of mine often said we are “violently agreeing”. That may have been the case here too.
Connecting to core purpose and values feels better
By doing this, being compassionate and having the desire to alleviate both of our suffering, I perhaps would have found a different way of approaching things. Rather, I spend my energy trying to figure out how to get back at her.
#leadwithyourheart means that you connect to what is important to you. It is about realigning with your core purpose and values. #leadwithyourheart allows you to slow down and access your intuition and inner guidance. It also pulls out others passions and purpose so that together you align and move forward.
#leadwithyourheart is connected to my other mantra #leadyourway. I am a compassionate person. By trying to stifle that, I didn't come across as authentic!
I challenge Eleanor Roosevelt...
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” I might challenge Eleanor and say I think we need to lead both ourselves and others by accessing our heart more often.
Join me for daily inspiration and support at Coffee Break with Kathy
This month I am sharing with you the four main ideas, concepts or ways that I work with individuals and teams. First up, #leadyourway.
Leading is not managing
Leadership is about having a dream and getting people to follow your dream. Management is getting people to do things. That is a whole different topic. But having said that, you won’t need to manage as much if you learn to lead more powerfully.
Who do you follow?
Think of someone you follow. It could be a celebrity on tv, a motivational speaker or writer on Facebook or an insightful leader or even perhaps a politician that you believe in.
Why do you follow them?
You follow them because they are unique. They don’t do, act, and say the same boring things as everyone else. They have a unique way of getting their point across. If you are into inspiration maybe the booming voice of Tony Robbins is your thing. Perhaps instead you prefer the quiet often humorous style of Eckhart Tolle. Maybe you are an Oprah fan and then again, maybe not.
The point is your follow people because they have style, personality and a way of being that fits for what you are looking for.
What does #leadyourway mean?
The same is true in leadership. People follow someone because as Simon Sinek says, they believe in what you believe. How though will someone know what you believe if you don’t say it and/or demonstrate it. How will someone know they want to follow your cause, if you don't stand up for what you believe in?
Who are you any way?
#Leadyourway begins with the concept of figuring out who you are.
You started this in high school when you picked out your clothes to fit in with a particular group, styled your hair in a certain way and listened to a particular genre of music. You were trying to figure out where you fit and you were trying to find out your own identity.
Somewhere in college and into adulthood your blending in got less overt. Instead of dying your hair pink, you just started to nod more. You spoke out less. You found the politically right things to say. You learned what leaders wear and you bought those outfits. You listened to the news and found out what the arguments were for your organization and you used the right language. You took training on how to manage, how to lead, and your followed your mentors lead. That is if you had a mentor. You conformed. Now, you fit in. But are you comfortable? Are you your authentic self?
What do you believe?
In my work, I help people reconnect with what they believe and identify what they stand for. I help leaders come back to who they are, at the core of their being. There is no point in pretending to be something we are not. The rest of the world can sniff a faker out in a heartbeat.
If I try to pretend that my heart doesn’t live on my sleeve, the only way to do that is to become unfeeling. Cold. That is certainly not me! I cry at every commercial and X-Factor video. That’s who I am. When my client, on the other end of the phone, tells me a story about her pain, I often have to swallow and take a moment to ask the next coaching question, because I am so moved by their pain. That is who I am. That will come through in my leadership as well.
. My passion also shines through with my energy and enthusiasm. This is something I tried to tone down for many years. This left me appearing flat and boring rather than alive and passionate. Wouldn’t you much rather have someone lead you that is passionate and alive?
1. Look back on peak moments in your life and in your career.
Those times when you felt amazing, on top of your game and were achieving the results you wanted.
Look for themes. Identify when you were most authentically you.
2. Review the assessments you’ve done in your career
Look again for the themes that come out in them.
3) Consider when you feel most authentic and in integrity in your leadership.
4) Make a list of who you are when you are at your best.
Then be you more often!
When I left my position in an organization a few years back to start my own company, it came as a surprise to some. Others expected it and seen it coming. While I loved my work and was good at what I was doing, there was a part of me that just didn't fit there anymore.
The perspective I was in
I remember one conversation with my boss after a performance review. We were talking about future goals and directions for me. He said to me something to the effect of "I can see you in a corner doing techy kind of things". I was livid! I felt diminished, undervalued and unseen. How dare he not see me as someone with value. I came home that night and yelled and ranted to my husband about his comment. Interestingly, this is also the same boss who encouraged me to get my MBA. I didn't, but he was serious about it.
I see it different now
The funny thing is, now, I am in my "corner"; my home office sending out newsletters, making YouTube videos and editing them, building my own website and being quite techy. At the same time, those other things that made my boss suggest I consider getting my MBA were also the things that seen in my that prompted him to support me in getting my management degree, hire me a Coach and grow my skills are the things I use each and every day now,
My boss's perspective
The thing was, during the conversation we had about goals, I had one perspective. I could only see things from the vantage point I chose to be at that moment. My boss knew I wasn't going to stay doing what I was doing forever. He seen some things in me and for that I am now grateful. At the time, maybe not so much.
Seeing things differently helped me see options
It wasn't until I started working with my Coach at the time, and until I started having conversations with friends about what else could I do, as well as when I really started to take some time to reflect on my future that I started to see possibilities.
I had choices
I chose to quite my job and start my own business. I could have also chose to create a different position in the existing company. Now, looking back, I know that had I the same passion I had about building my company I could have done just about anything. I had to see it though.
What perspective are you in now?
I think there comes a point in each one of our careers where we have to evaluate where we are at. If we aren't "happy" or feeling that we are right on track, we need to step back and see things differently. Again, that doesn't necessarily mean we need to quit, yet it might. I have seen too many leaders in positions in companies that should have left 3 or 4 or 5 years ago because they are stagnating things. If they were to move on, it would free the company up to try new things. I've also seen many front line staff and supervisors who are mad. Mad at the world, and mad at where they are at. Their mood infects the whole team quite negatively. You know the saying about one bad apple.
What if you seen it differently?
I'm just asking you today, to consider if perhaps, you, are one of those leaders or apples. Is it time for you to move on?
Wow! I am exhausted!
I had two coaching calls, an hour long Free Webinar that I hosted and a 1.5 hour long "we are preparing to write a book together" call with my two colleagues. That is combined with the rest of the work that I crammed into my four day work week with Monday being Thanksgiving.
What about you? What have you tried to fit into this short work week? Now, Friday afternoon are you feeling exhausted? Tired? Out of steam? Me too!
Shifting our perspective allows us to see what happened and what will happen through a new light.
I had a full, busy week. I can see it as draining and exhausting. Or I can see it as fulfilling and useful.
P.S. I am grateful for all my new newsletter signups and my newest members to my Coffee Break with Kathy club!
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
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