A Tale That Could Be Your Truth

Over the years I have studied procrastination and its roots. For many of my clients, procrastination is an affliction that rivals the fear of public speaking. Getting started and following through on difficult, overwhelming and intimidating tasks no matter how much you may want to accomplish them can be tough. You need a powerful thought, a mind hack that immediately gets you in gear.

Thanks goes out to Tim Ferris who recommended the book Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman. Of all the weird afterlife possibilities Eagleman suggests, there is one tale from the book that scares the livin’ daylights out of me. It makes me want to spring out of bed at an hour earlier, add another 20 pushups, learn to like wheat grass, and relentlessly tackle every task on my agenda. It’s this:  If you procrastinate and ignore your potential greatness, imagine that “after you die you are forced to live out your afterlife with annoying versions of who you could have been.” Yikes!

I think there is a strong likelihood of this. I believe that we are born with a wide array of potential talents for the purpose of making the world a better place. It would make a lot of sense, on judgment day, to be compared to what you could have been minus laziness, lacking a plan, or harping on irrational fears. I submit that entrepreneurs like you, people who build something from just an idea, have been awarded a unique opportunity (and a responsibility perhaps!) to make a difference in the world. If we put off doing things that a higher power has given us the chance to do, it’s like casting aside a precious gift.

Whether this prediction is true or not, why not make it YOUR truth? Before bedtime and when you wake up every day, imagine your ideal self in all aspects of your life.  How would you compare today’s performance with your potential performance? Without blame or shame, how can you get closer tomorrow? Therefore, if having to watch annoying versions of who you could have been is your fate, your best defense on Judgment Day will be: I Tried!

Having trouble creating that vision of your ideal self and making it happen? Let’s strengthen the likely culprits – your core skills and routines! Contact me at  [email protected] 

If Your Creativity Needs a Kick, Seek Unusual Sources

You may have your new product or service up and running, or you’re in the process of getting your new business off the ground. It’s frustrating to lack new ways to be competitive and for solving day-to-day problems.  We typically rely on our experience, knowledge, self-help books and the wisdom of industry leaders for solutions, but sometimes we have to get out of our closed circle of reference and seek “a refresh” from unexpected sources.

As a coach, it’s up to me to offer fresh eyes and new perspectives for my clients to explore. When I feel even close to getting bored with my usual strategies and tactics, I’m curiously drawn to books like The Men Who Changed the Course of American History, Tripping Over the Truth, Stories From Shakespeare, The Alchemist, or collections of mystery stories. Movies like Midnight in Paris or The Darkest Hour remind me, in contrasting ways, that it’s okay to listen to my gut, change my mind and inspire others to do the same. Any books or movies that have to do with discovery or attempts to solve difficult problems of all sorts should be on your list. Perhaps these books and movies won’t give you any direct answers or solutions, but they will add enlightening bits and pieces to what you already know and re-kindle your creative spark.

Need some fresh eyes to help solve a problem in your company? Get COREageous and contact me at [email protected]        

Pick Up the Pace on Sunday

This morning, as I rode my bike towards the last of three “nasty” hills (in COREageous-speak that translates into “wonderfully steep”), it reminded me of how important it is to build some momentum ahead of a challenge. If I wait to pick up the pace at the base of the hill, the climb is less forgiving. (Actually, “miserable” and “energy-sucking” are better descriptors.) It’s much smarter to get some speed going a quarter mile before the incline.

I use this experience to incite a mental shift from the weekend to the workweek. On Sundays, while most people hang around and dread Monday, with a Sunday ritual you can get ahead of the pack and cruise full speed ahead into the workweek. If you let the Sunday-Monday doldrums attack you, it will take Herculean effort to pump up your mood and meet your milestones for the week. I also share this Sunday ritual lecture with my college clients, the future entrepreneurs.

Even if you’re not a fitness nut, work with me here: Get up early Sunday while the house is quiet, hydrate and do some stretches. Read the news, check your phone, have a strong cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy a healthy breakfast with your family or a friend. Gather your gear, think about your route and air up the tires. Think about what you want to accomplish today. You’re warming up easy on the flats. Look over your plan. See the hill way in the distance? It’s comin’ fast. Listen to a motivational podcast or read an article from your industry. Gradually pick up the pace, 100 yards to go before the incline. With your intellectual energy piqued, your focus strong and your phone turned off – get to work. You’ve got this! Charge up that hill!

Pick up the pace on Sunday. It’ll be easy to keep that positive energy and determination going all week, without even breaking a sweat!

I’m eager to hear how the Sunday ritual is working for you! Please write me at [email protected]

Capture Ideas and Connect Better with Information on Paper

If you want to get your ideas out quickly, put them on paper. Research shows that you’ll process your thoughts and remember more when you draw or write them down. I’m not a fan of GAGs (Gadgets, Apps, Gimmicks) because by the time you find and launch a note-taking app you could have instantly secured your thought on paper. Besides, if you use a phone or computer to take notes, it’s easy to get distracted by other GAGs on your desktop.

The same goes for using a paper calendar vs. an electronic calendar. Many of my hi-tech clients swear by the week-at-a-glance paper calendar book as a way to block off hunks of time and create a vista view of the week.  (See www.ata glance.com)

When reading something you care to remember, you’ll deep-process more of what you read if you annotate in pencil or write a note on a stickie. After you finish the book, skim through your annotations or collect your stickies to review those highlights. It’s so satisfying to remember what you read so you can have an intelligent conversation on the topic well after you put the book down. Keep your stickies together and put them in an envelope with the title on the front. It’s interesting, several months later, to open that envelope and refresh that information.

Be like Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson and Indra Nooyi and have paper and pen ready to jot down thoughts and brainstorm ideas anywhere you’d find yourself hanging out —by your bed, poolside, TV room etc. Keep a moleskin in your pocket or purse to write down ideas when you’re standing in line or getting a haircut. And, if by any chance that little piece of paper is swept off by a gust of wind, you’ll have a better chance of remembering what you wrote if you wrote it!

Leadership Is a Posture, Not Just a Position.

Leadership is a posture not just a postion by beckky shafirThat suggestion from Dr. John Izzo’s book Stepping Up should strike a chord in the minds of those who want to be more effective leaders. “Posturing” yourself as a leader is a way to inspire others by your actions. It includes how you choose your words, the sound of your voice, how deeply you listen, how you problem solve and respond to setbacks. The title of CEO means little if the person holding the position lacks the presence of a CEO. Currently, I’m working with a small business that is training managers to be leaders. I asked them to write down the traits that they aspire to and want to communicate to their direct reports. Interestingly, many of the traits listed are the traits these budding managers admired in the CEOs who came before them: direct talk, caring, efficient, organized, energetic, etc.

The Number One rule in Dr. Jordan Peterson’s book The 12 Rules of Life: An Antidote to Chaos is to “Stand up straight with your shoulders back.” Presenting yourself physically as confident and strong sends powerful messages to your team. More than an influential pose, good posture can change your mood and your physiology. Research shows that a strong physical posture releases a flurry of neurotransmitters, serotonin, for example. Standing up straight sends a message to your brain to release serotonin which mimics the effects of anti-depressant medication. You feel happier and get better sleep when your serotonin levels are high.

Start your day standing up straight with the intention to consistently demonstrate the leadership qualities you aspire to. Write them down and post them in a few different places as reminders. Watch how your behaviors shape the actions of your employees and, consequently, how your combined actions boost the bottom line.

Managing the Racing Mind

Managing the racing mind by Beckky ShafirEmotional regulation is the most important core skill. Regular meditation and a good sleep regimen, among other methods, foster the emotional competency needed for successful decision-making and execution. A common complaint among my entrepreneur clients is their struggle with “a racing mind.” A racing mind jumps from one thought to another at random, making it seemingly impossible to let go of fears and worries. Meditation, or attempts to fall asleep at a normal hour can be maddening. Perhaps this is why many folks keep the noise and distractions alive because “quiet” for them is a breeding ground for worry.

For a person suffering from anxiety or depression, worry finds an opening in a vacuum of quiet. Real concerns and irrational imaginings can flood your mind filling every nook and cranny with fear. If not managed, a mind out of control can lead to panic attacks, chronic insomnia and/ or depression. To naturally slow down your mind and steer it in a more positive direction, try these methods:

1) Before bedtime or prior to an attempt to meditate, write down all that’s bothering you. List the things you can control, and accept the ones you can’t control. Include any solutions to these problems. Putting them in writing helps you address them and move on, hopefully to less worrisome thoughts.

2) Have ready some “detours” for your mind when worry intrudes. In advance, create a gratitude list, an outline for your next blog, or prepare some mantra-like affirmations using your name, for example: Carole, everything is OK, or Tom, you’re doing the best you can; it’s all you can do.        

3) Repeat a favorite prayer over and over.

4) Shift to a breath pattern that takes up a lot of mental space. Choose a breathing pattern that requires enough focus to overwhelm negative thoughts: Lie on your back with one hand on your chest and another on your midsection. Inhale and exhale audibly through your nose for 3 slow counts in, hold your breath for 2 counts and breathe out for 4 slow counts. Feel your heart beat slow down as your midsection rises and falls.

What other ways have you found to calm your racing mind? Share them with me, anonymously if you wish, at [email protected] and I’ll post them for other founders to see. Let’s help each other weather the highs and low of entrepreneurship.     

 

 

My Favorite Ways to Shift from Vacation to Work Mode

If you took any significant time off for vacation, and if you are having or anticipating a sluggish transition back to work, consider these tips:

  1. Once you’re back, stow away all vacation paraphernalia as soon as possible: suitcases, event t-shirts or souvenirs. Lingering over pictures and vacay stuff is distractible and fortifies your post-vacay malaise.
  2. If your post vacation to-do list gives you a sinking feeling, take several minutes to refresh your intention, the passion and purpose for your work.
  3. Restore your (normalized, I hope!) pre-vacation sleep and exercise routines. Challenge yourself on Monday to add on another five pushups or sit ups to your daily workout.
  4. Round up your team members and refine your goals for the next quarter. Encourage folks to share any ideas for the company that popped up in their minds while on vacation. Plan a couple affordable office events for the fall – apple picking, a picnic lunch, a Sunday brunch staff meeting at your house, etc.
  5. Detox yourself. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of greens. Alcohol, junk food and lavish desserts drag down your energy; the effects of additives, bad fats and sugar can linger in your body for many days.
  6. Think of one situation you encountered during your vacation that inspired you to greater heights in your life. Here are some examples of such moments:

• The golfing partner with the great attitude whose ball landed in every water hole or sand trap along the way, until he scored a hole-in-one at 18

• The waiter who gave you the greatest idea for enhancing customer service

• The fellow at the bar who shared a book that gave answers to a problem you’ve been dealing with for months

• The one-armed surfer and the veteran with the artificial leg who handily conquered 20 foot waves beating the normal-limbed competition “hands down.”

• The 95 year old man who stood in the hot sun at the finish line to cheer on his 85 year old college sweetheart.

Not enough solutions for you? How about a back-to-work-pick-me-up coaching session?

Contact me at [email protected]

Coaches and Consultants: Give Social Media a Back Seat

Coaches and Consultants: Give Social Media a Back SeatAre you exhausted and overwhelmed by the time and energy strategies for amassing social media followers? Have you been taken to the cleaners by social media gurus who promise   to skyrocket your exposure? I refuse to spend valuable time luring people to my mailing list with phony contests, insincere dialog, vacation pictures or funnel systems that drain me. It feels disingenuous. I don’t want to spend my time connecting with people in those ways. Do you?

I suggest a better starting point that has greater short and long term payoff  – get good, darn good, at what you do. If you’re focused on getting more exposure, a simple and targeted social media strategy can help, but I suggest you spend the majority of your resources on improving your knowledge base, reading, taking classes and applying that knowledge to your sessions with clients. Ignore the recommendations that defy your authenticity and intuition. If it feels goofy and sleazy, you’ll hate doing it and the universe will pick up on that! Instead, let stellar “word-of-mouth” reports be your goal. Show that you care more about your audience and their needs versus the number of “likes” you rack up. Collect and post feedback from those you have helped. Ask them to spread the word to their friends and colleagues. If you’ve done a good job, few will forget to tell others. Connect with your targets by being a frequent podcast guest or doing public talks. I’m not telling you to ignore having an online presence; but it’s intelligent content that will make you stand out and draw the folks you can help. Simple, meaningful and authentic engagement social media is a more sane and ethical way to build your business.

Become exceptional in your field! Let me help you create a plan for building your expertise to be one of the best in your industry. [email protected]

 

A Vacation Alternative for Entrepreneurs

As entrepreneurship becomes more widespread, I suspect that the nature of “vacations” will change. For example, for the last few years my business and my husband’s business have not allowed for regular 1-2 week vacation slots. Like many other entrepreneurs, long breaks are not feasible for us right now. To make a vacation worthwhile, you’re supposed to come back well rested and full of energy. Airport hassles, crowds, tight schedules, and money you’d rather invest in smarter ways make those expectations unlikely. Perhaps you have elderly parents or family members that may need some urgent attention, and you’ll have to be available for them. You/we are not alone. Here’s something that has been working well for us I’d like you to try.

Carve out one hour a day for a vacation break. Prepare the walking shoes, the sunhat and somewhere to go in your mind — whatever you’ll need to escape for just one hour each day. In that hour you’ll escape from the office and think about a great vacation you took or one that you hope to take one day.  Subscribe to a hard copy adventure magazine you can lose yourself in (not on your phone!)  Plan a fabulous dinner you’d like to prepare. Get on a bike and allow yourself to focus on the environment around you.  Find some simple activities, ideally with a health component, that will sweep your mind and body away for 60 minutes. Just as with meditation, when thoughts of work or projects come into mind, let them fly by like passing birds. If planned well, this kind of vacation can enhance creativity and open up pockets of energy you can instantly apply to your work. These kinds of no-hassle vacations can be tremendously satisfying.  Plus, don’t be surprised if a terrific solution you’ve been seeking pops into your head during your “time off.” You’ll be close enough to your desk to put it in motion.

Make downtime an investment in your business.  CoreFour coaching can help make this valuable time beneficial to your business. [email protected]       

Mindful Communication Newsletter July 2018

Beware of “Yes” and the Soft No’s

Listening to yourself is one of the hallmarks of a mindful listener, and the most difficult aspect to master. If you are like me, you probably say “Yes” or give a Soft No a bit too often. There are many reasons to control for the reflexive “Yes” and the Soft No’s. They steal our time away from the things we want to do and should do. We end up resenting the people we reluctantly said “Yes” to − they become the bad guys. You may have a kind heart and extend your goodness a bit too often. But if you can’t follow through, your kindness backfires and you disappoint those you intended to help. If you’re a parent, replying “Yes” or giving a Soft No when you can’t follow through makes you look weak and untrustworthy. When you say “Yes” to a work project that is well over your head and you don’t produce, you’re perceived as unreliable. We all know what “Yes” sounds like, but Soft No’s are less obvious. Soft No’s are sticky. The indecisive response can make the person who wants your “Yes” pursue you relentlessly. Here are some of the most common Soft No’s we utter:

  • I’ll think about it
  • Not right now
  • Call me in a few weeks
  • I’m too busy right now
  • I’m on vacation

My suggestion to you this month is to catch yourself before you agree directly or indirectly to requests that you’re not 100% sure about. If it’s uncomfortable for you to say “No, thank you,” practice saying it aloud several times until it is as easy as saying “Yes.”  Notice how “No, thank you,” lifts the weight of undesirable obligations, reduces resentment towards others, frees up your time, and lets you focus on what you truly want to say “Yes” to.

Did you know that the audio version of the Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction is now available at Audible.com? Start listening in a more mindful way today!

 

 

 

 

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