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.
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!
Communication, true communication, is almost impossible in the best of circumstances. It takes a ‘perfect storm’ to bring together these three necessary things:
• Your clear, concise message
• The other person’s receptivity & ability to listen
The obstacles are many. They include faulty listening filters, cultural differences, stress & hurry, moods, and – a big one -- not being sure yourself exactly what you want to communicate. How, then, is true communication possible?
Start with the main Ingredient: RESPECT.
Definition of respect: Esteem & admiration, an act of giving particular attention, willingness to show consideration or appreciation
Respect leads to the possibility of actually getting your message across by opening up the other person’s receptivity and ability to listen. In fact, if you respect the other person, you will have a natural connection with her. Your message will automatically become clearer, she will be more open to what you have to say and you will sense when the right time to talk to her is.
If you truly want to communicate with someone and do not have much respect for him, you can look deeper for what you CAN genuinely respect about him. To find respect, you first have to let go of assumptions, judgments, negativity and drama. These things kill respect and letting go of them is worth practicing.
Maybe he’s a lousy boss, but a good father, skilled businessman or powerful negotiator. Once you find the respect, you can connect with him. This is not manipulation, but truly the art of connecting with another person. Warning: If you are not genuine, your communication will fall short. Guaranteed.
You can influence the ‘perfect storm’ necessary for true communication with respect. It is ‘sweeter than honey,’ sings Aretha Franklin in the Otis Redding song, “Respect.” And it is worth finding. The other person becomes better and so do you.
When someone talks to you, what are you listening for? I’m not asking why you are listening to the person, but instead, when you listen, what are you paying attention to about what that person is saying?
Have you ever talked to someone about doing a job for you, and then listened for how much it was going to cost you? Now usually that’s the last thing they’ll tell you, so sometimes, as you are waiting to hear the fee, you can miss details about their services.
Or maybe you got called into your boss’s office around the time layoffs were happening. Probably you were listening for if you still have a job or not. Whatever the boss said before that, was ‘Blah, blah, blah.’ What did you miss?
When we listen, whether we know it or not, we are listening for something. If we have low self-esteem, we might be listening for criticism. If we think the person we are talking to is intelligent, we might be listening for what she says that is brilliant. If we have a strong opinion about something, we might be listening for agreement or non-agreement.
This is a very simple concept. ‘Listening for’ occurs unconsciously, based on the unexamined judgments that we have about others, the world and ourselves. What we are ‘listening for’ is a reflection of our judgments and worldview. Until we get more aware of what that is, we are at the mercy of our own limitations.
Since what you hear depends on what you’re listening for, how can you expand your listening? Experiment with these two ideas and see what happens:
1. When you have conversations, become aware of what you are listening for. This takes honesty and some insight. You might need to slow down a little bit to notice.
2. See what happens when you change what you’re listening for. For example:
For over 20 years Susan has been a coach, consultant and corporate trainer. She is the co-founder of the Coach Group of Switzerland.