What are you waiting for?
Have you ever had someone ask you what you are waiting for? if so, you know the meaning is clear: Get into action - stop wasting time!
Waiting has become synonymous with wasting time. We all dread the Limbo feeling of the doctor’s office waiting room. The magazines are boring, time slows down, have to get out your iPhone. Waiting seems a waste, an inconvenience, or worse, a slight – after all, important people don’t have to wait.
This waiting room phenomenon has colored our ability to wait in other parts of our lives.
Impatience keeps us distracted, in perpetual motion and on the surface level of life, like skipping stones.
This intolerance for waiting is a lack of appreciation for what waiting can actually bring.
Mechanically speaking, most people operate optimally if they wait for a “nudge” from the outside that they can say YES or NO to. When they say YES, they find themselves drawn to something -- think romance, inspiration, kismet. Something inside them rises up and is called forth. A sleeping desire is awakened, followed by an influx of energy to start something.
This is the Wow Factor of Life.
But if you are too busy being busy, it is not possible to wait. When the kismet thing happens, you are already gone, having run off to the next thing that you thought of, fueled by a fear of staying still for a moment. Kismet arrives like the movie hero who finally comes to his senses and knocks on his Love’s door, only to find that she took a job in Chicago.
Waiting requires patience, no way around it. But it is the patience of the acrobat on the flying trapeze who lets go in mid-air and waits to be caught by her partner. For her it is an exciting waiting, that endless moment until she is caught (or falls into the net).
We need to get better at waiting. We need to turn waiting from something that is boring into an exciting, endless moment of allowing. Allowing the next amazing thing to happen. This way you are home when your Love rings the bell. Something deeper can guide you and you are no longer dictated to by the Hurry Gods.
Three practices in the art of waiting:
For some of us it is best to tune into the invitations that come to us. But, whether you hear that inner voice or listen for invitations, the waiting is the same. Patience is the starting point.
Contact me if you would like to learn how you operate mechanically and learn for yourself how you can wait for the very best that life has to offer.
Awareness is the parent of change. For example, when you are driving and aware that there is not a car coming up in the lane next to you (in your "blind spot"), you can choose to change lanes safely. In your personal life, if you are aware that a behavior of yours is keeping you from getting what you want, you can choose to change that behavior.
But without awareness, you simply have no choice, because you cannot see. You might pull into the next lane blindly and hit a car or continue acting in ways that are not in your best interest.
How can we learn to see what we cannot see in order to increase our personalawareness?
"Blind Spot" Remedy
Simple – Pay attention to the feedback you naturally get from others. Ask them for more information and consider what they say, instead of dismissing it or justifying your behavior.
More Difficult - Ask people you trust for specific feedback. This can be a scary thing to do. It takes courage to actually ask and sincerely desire an honest answer.
Zen Master – Be open to the feedback you get from people, but also the feedback you get from your life experiences. When something goes wrong, be bold enough to consider why this is happening to you and what there is for you to learn. Point the finger back at yourself. The attitude is that whatever is happening is for your growth and development. Learn from everything you can and keep growing.
Blind spots, once remedied, are opportunities to grow. At the very least you will have more information about yourself and how others perceive you. You alone can decide what changes to make based on the feedback you get.
The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. -- Nathaniel Branden
“Off with his head!” screamed the Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. She screamed this repeatedly during a game of Croquet involving Herself, a deck of playing cards, a white rabbit and Alice.
This was a rather extreme example of what most of us do every day. Like the Queen, we blame others when things go wrong.
To be twice as effective, stop blaming others.
Blame is an enticing and tempting response to difficulties. One can see the “blame game” everywhere. Just listen to any news station, politician or someone standing next to you in the long line at the Post Office. You will hear how whatever is happening is someone’s fault.
All too often after something terrible happens, we look for someone to blame instead of widening the lens to look for what actually caused the problem and how can we learn from it. The Middle East conflict is a case in point, as is the blaming of President Obama during this current Ebola outbreak.
You might ask, "What if there really is someone to blame?" But then the question becomes, "How much time do you want to waste blaming when you could be finding a solution?" For example, the Queen blamed her playing card guards ("Off with their heads!") without even considering the crazy way she had set up the game itself.
Another type of blaming is to blame yourself. But this doesn’t really solve the problem either. In fact all blame results in a loss of personal power. "They did it to me" or "I'm so bad, I did it to myself." You become a victim to the situation.
The alternative is to be responsible.
Being responsible is not about blaming yourself. Being responsible ("Response-Able") is a way to turn a bad situation into an opportunity for growth. Taking responsibility leads to taking action. What could be more effective?
Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Being responsible means changing the way you think and, by doing that, raising your level of consciousness. So responsibility allows you to choose how you respond -- rather than just reacting. Only then can new solutions be found.
How can you be responsible?
The first thing you might need to do is to cry or vent your frustration to a friend. In this way, you can clear your mind to see something beyond blame. When you've done that, here are some key questions to ask yourself:
• What if this is no one’s fault?
• Can I just accept what has happened?
• If I can accept that it just happened (it's no one's fault), what then are my options?
You can go even further if you answer the following questions:
• What was my role in this?
• What life lesson does this reveal for me?
• How can I learn those lessons in order to heal, grow and change?
Had the Queen of Hearts been more responsible, she could have, at the very least, improved her Croquet game.
When things go wrong, you have the opportunity to learn and grow. Take that opportunity. From growth, new responses arise to the challenges you are faced with. And ultimately, taking responsibility can open the way to solve the challenges we face globally.
How to get through tough times
Recently I had some tough times. Weeks went by and potential clients were not returning my calls and then a big job came up and someone else got it instead of me. I started to question my abilities, doubting myself and wondering who I was to think I could actually help anyone with my coaching. I was in a slump and not at all happy about it.
Enter Bill McRaven, former Commander of Special Forces for the United States Navy. Here’s a guy who can really talk about getting through tough times, having survived Navy SEAL training. In his 2014 Commencement speech at the University of Texas which has been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube, he tells lessons from SEAL basic training. Spending the 20 minutes to view this video altered my perspective.
One thing he said was, “Know that life is not fair and you will fail often.” This is more profound that it might seem; it is an inoculation for the tough times.
When you have tough times, remember these things:
A. It’s not personal: Life isn’t fair and so the tough times might actually not mean anything about you personally.
B. Strengthen your goal: Failure isn’t even a problem unless you are up to something you care about. Remember what that is.
C. Learn from the experience: You can learn more from failing than from succeeding.
D. Don’t give up: The antidote to failure is to keep going.
Of course, you will feel bad sometimes. I know I do. You may feel sorry for yourself, get discouraged or even think about quitting. However, the important thing is: How long will you be let those feelings keep you from doing the next thing?
I appreciated the “toughen up” message from McRaven, who I consider to be an American hero. If you want to not only get through tough times, but also make a difference in the world, you need to find a way to keep going. The sooner you get over yourself, learn what you need to learn and get back into action, the better.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall. -- Nelson Mandela
Honoring emotions is an important element in achieving Emotional Intelligence. And our moods – both “good” and “bad” -- are an important part of our emotional being.
Have you noticed that things go more smoothly when you are in the mood to do them? Traffic lights change to green and you find a great parking place when you’re in a good mood. And when you’re in a bad mood, seems like almost everything goes wrong.
Moods come and go in their own timing, so practically speaking, how can you capitalize on the good moods and mitigate the bad moods?
For example, it isn’t always possible to be in the mood to do something you must do. Sometimes you just have do it anyway. So the question becomes, how can you get yourself in the mood to enjoy what you’re going to do? Here are 3 keys that can help:
1. Design rituals
I have a goal of doing yoga every morning. Sometimes I’m not in the mood. To help me start my stretches, I have a ritual. I spread out my yoga mat and put on music that I like. The music is soothing and calming and it reminds me of how good the yoga stretches feel. Pretty soon I find myself happily stretching.
Another simple example of a ritual is one you can do as you start a new project. Clear off your desk and get yourself a cup of coffee. With a clean desk and a cup of coffee, you can imagine yourself making a good start on your new project.
2. Say affirmations
An affirmation is an encouraging phrase that you repeat to yourself. As humans we always have affirmations running -- often the affirmations are not very affirming. So why not try some affirmations that are actually encouraging to you and can help get you in the right mood? You can even combine rituals with affirmations. Here are a few examples of affirmations:
• “This will be fun. I love to [something about the task that you really do like to do].”
• “I am learning a lot!”
• “It is good to enjoy life and take chances.”
3. See the bigger picture
When you need to do something that you are not in the mood to do, take a moment to think about why you might to do it. Ask yourself what you will get ultimately if you do it. Sometimes seeing the big-picture value can make the task itself more appealing to do.
Enjoy your life and your moods. Allow your emotions to enrich your experience of life, but don’t let them stop you from doing things you need to do.
You have decided that it is finally time to deal with that particular person about that particular “thing” that you’ve been putting off. You’ve been dreading it and have decided you will finally address it face to face. This is your Moment of Truth.
First, let me say congratulations! Most people never come to the point of actually addressing directly a difficult situation. It seems easier to sweep it under the carpet and tell yourself it will work itself out without you having to do anything. In the meantime you suffer and your relationship with the person suffers. Getting back into relationship with the person requires action, but the pay off is worth it.
So you feel that you are ready now. Question is, how do you proceed? This Moment of Truth conversation deserves focused preparation. It will help to take time to answer these questions:
1. What happened?
Answer like a scientist who is observing and not ‘getting inside anyone’s head.’
On New Year’s Eve, you and three younger people used chalk to write words and draw on my car. You said it was meant as a joke. You did not offer to clean my car afterwards. I went to the car wash, but the writing/pictures damaged the paint job. The specialist said my car would have to be buffed which costs $150.
2. Remember how you felt when this happened.
Were you angry? Embarrassed? Disappointed? Write down your feelings. You will want to tell the person how you felt -- not as an emotional weapon, but as information. The person needs to know the emotional cost of his actions.
I was angry that you would mess with my car and also disappointed that you didn't offer to pay for the cleaning when it became obvious that the chalk had damaged the paint.
3. What specifically do you want?
I’d like for you to pay to have my car buffed. And I’d like you to apologize.
4. Write down notes for the conversation.
Make notes for the conversation. Keep the ending in mind and get yourself ready to listen to his side of the story. Your notes will help you stay on track and stick to your guns when it comes to asking for what you want.
5. Consider when to have the conversation and then schedule it.
When is the best time to talk to him? You may need to set an appointment so there is adequate time to talk (yes, even if he is a family member). If possible, meet with him face to face in a private place. If you can't meet face to face, then talk with him on the phone. In a situation like this, email and texting are not good options.
Remember that the goal is to get back into relationship with the person. It will probably be a relief not to have to step over this anymore and be on the way to regaining the trust that was lost.
Diane was new to the job and was having a problem with a co-worker named Matt. The team that Diane was leading needed Matt’s expertise for their health-care project, but he didn't show up for team meetings. He would miss one team meeting after another, always for seemingly good reasons. Diane heard from others on the team that Matt was arrogant, anti-social and notoriously difficult to work with. Diane and her boss met with Matt and talked to him directly about the advantages of his participating on the team, but nothing changed.
During a coaching session, I asked Diane to answer these questions about Matt:
• What is he committed to? What motivates him?
• What do you have in common with him?
• In what ways do you respect him?
From her answers to these questions, she realized that Matt was very committed to making things right for the patients, above all else. She remembered meeting him when she worked at another facility and admiring how dedicated he was. She felt that the two of them shared that dedication and simply had different ways of showing it. Lastly, she realized that maybe not everyone has to be a team player. She decided to meet with Matt and find out more about him and what was important to him. She also thought of ways to include Matt independently without having to insist that he attend team meetings.
As a result of changing her "story" about Matt, her experience of him changed drastically. She has been able to establish a strong partnership with him. He calls her with his input and they are now able to work productively together.
Stories Shape Our Lives
Stories like the one Diane had are the fabric of life. We weave stories together together to explain things that happen in our lives and in the lives of others. Then we believe our own stories. In fact, our belief in the stories we make up are so ingrained, that we generally think of the stories as facts and might even say, “That’s not a story, that’s my life!” or, as Diane had done, “That’s no story, that’s what he’s like!”
Our stories shape reality. They can empower or discourage us, set our feet forward or stop us cold in our tracks.
What stories do you tell?
Start to listen to your own stories about yourself, your co-workers, spouse, friends and family. Listen to what you say and start to observe the effect your stories have on you and others.
Are your stories serving you? If not, then get some help from a coach or from a good friend who won’t simply agree with you. Ask the questions that will help you find a different story so you can see things differently. When you can see things differently, you will be able to find new, more empowering possibilities for action. Just by changing your story, you can change everything.
If you are going to tell a story, make it an empowering one.
What to do instead of complaining -- 5 steps to giving feedback that can change things
When it is time to give difficult feedback to someone, most of us would rather run in the other direction. Even in the best of situations, it is a challenge to give feedback in a way that makes a difference and does not ruin your day -- and theirs.
Here are 5 simple steps to take when it is time to give someone difficult feedback:
1. Prepare ahead of time.
2. State your observation. Describe the incident and be specific about the behavior that you are addressing.
3. Tell what happened as a result of his behavior, including how it affected you personally.
4. Ask for the person’s views about your observation, outcome and/or assumptions. Then LISTEN.
5. Ask for what you want different in the future.
As hard as it might be to confront a problem by giving feedback, remember that until you address the situation and ask for something different, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Good luck!
6 Step Networking recipe
by Susan Begeman Steiner
Networking is about meeting people you can do business with. The most common question asked at networking events is What Do You Do?
How you answer that question determines if you make a contact or simply get dismissed as another network bore. This may be your one chance with the person, so you want to make it count.
Here is a recipe for an enticing, sparkling response to this question that leaves them wanting more. You can "cook it up" differently each time, depending on what you think the person might want to hear.
One of the complaints I often hear in companies sounds like this: “So-and-so does not respond to my emails.” My question back is, “What is your agreement with So-and-so about responding to emails?” Invariably I’m told that there is no actual agreement in place.
As much as one might assume that people should respond to emails in a timely manner, that doesn’t mean that they will…unless there is an agreement in place. If not, then your options are to complain, hope the person gets the hint, nag him or try to work around the unworkable situation.
The simple fact is, agreements up front can solve problems before they arise and make interacting with others a lot easier.
Why don’t we make agreements?
Because it seems like too much trouble
Because it’s easier to just complain and feel like a victim
Because we don’t know what to do when an agreement is broken, so why bother making one
As an alternative to complaining or feeling victimized, try this experiment:
Think about something that’s keeping you from your goals. Ask the person(s) involved if he will make an agreement with you that will help you reach your goals.
3 Steps to Making Agreements
Note: These steps work with both teams and individuals.
1. Figure out what agreements you want.
• Propose an agreement such as, “Let’s agree to respond to emails from each other within 24 hours.”
• If your partner says okay, write the agreement down.
• If he says no, then negotiate. For example, “Okay then, let’s say that within 24 hours we will respond even if it’s to say, ‘I’m really busy now, but will answer you soon.’”
• Keep making agreements with him until the two of you can’t think of any more.
2. When the list is done, send it to him so you both have a copy.
• You want the agreements in writing so you can refer to them and change them as necessary as time goes on. Agreements are not written in stone.
3. If one of you breaks an agreement, the other one needs to “call it” as soon as possible.
“You haven’t answered my email from 2 days ago. We agreed to answer within 24 hours. Do we need to change our agreement?”
It is well worth the effort to set up agreements. So much time is wasted in the drama of being upset about someone else’s behavior. Imagine your life being focused on how well you keep your agreements and hold others to theirs, rather than on wondering why people won’t stop doing things that drive you crazy.
Make agreements and you will notice that your life just works better.
Life works to the degree that you keep your agreements.
-- Werner Erhard
For over 20 years Susan has been a coach, consultant and corporate trainer. She is the co-founder of the Coach Group of Switzerland.