Category Archives for Blog

Got Self-Awareness?

I recently picked up the book Insight by Dr. Tasha Eurich at the airport while on my way back from a speaking gig. I love her research on self-awareness and wanted to share it with you. (She has also done a TED talk on the topic which you can find by simply Googling her name.) Dr. Eurich defines self-awareness as, quite simply, the ability to see ourselves clearly. This includes understanding who we are, how others perceive us, and how we fit into the world.

According to the studies conducted by Dr. Eurich and her team, about 80% of us believe we are self-aware, but only about 10-15% of us are self-aware. She calls these individuals self-awareness unicorns since they are so rare. This makes complete sense to me based on what I’ve seen in my speeches and workshops on this topic. I have found that those individuals that are the most vocal about being self-aware tend to be the least self-aware in the group.

Why is it important for us to be self-aware? Because at the foundation of all of the skills that help our success in today’s world, such as emotional intelligence, empathy, influence, persuasion, communication, and collaboration – is the penultimate skill of self-awareness.

In her book, Dr. Eurich’s team goes even deeper into the topic and breaks this skill into two different types of self-awareness: internal and external. Internal self-awareness is about seeing yourself clearly. This is when you have an inward understanding of your values, passions, aspirations, ideal environment, patterns, reactions, and impact on others. These areas are referred to as the Seven Pillars of Insight in her book. I recommend getting her book and, if you go to Insight-Book.com, you can also download a workbook that will take you through a journey of self-discovery.

The second type of self-awareness is external self-awareness – this is about understanding yourself from the outside in. This means you know how other people see you. You can accurately (key word here) see yourself from the perspectives of other individuals. Interestingly, those individuals that have some level of self-awareness tend to be adept at either internal or external self-awareness. It is it the rare individual, the self-awareness unicorn, that excels in both areas.

Contrary to being self-aware is being self-delusional. For most people, it’s easier to choose this path because they don’t have to face the cold, hard truth about themselves. Being self-aware requires you to be vulnerable and have the courage to admit that yes, there are some areas that you really suck at and could improve upon. The good news is that self-awareness is a completely learnable skill.

How do I become more self-aware you ask? (Because you are a courageous superachiever.) Well, for now, until you can get Dr. Eurich’s book called Insight, you simply notice. Notice how you show up with others, notice their reactions, notice your internal dialogue – what stories are you creating to protect yourself. Simply notice and have the courage to look at your behavior from an outside perspective.

A New Scheduling Strategy for Productivity

Would you agree that as a society, we are chronically over-scheduled? I was speaking with a family member recently who has four kids and he showed me the family’s schedule for the next couple of months. Each and every day was filled with various activities the family members were involved in. I asked him when they had any down time and he didn’t have an answer for me. If you’re familiar with my ME² System for Super Productivity, you know this is not recommended. We must have down time in order to generate the energy needed to complete the important stuff in our lives. This is referred to as a “brilliant personal declutter” by Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness. This process involves identifying what is really important to you and then letting every thing else fall by the way side.

Using the ME² System for Super Productivity requires you to change your perception about what is really worth your energy – because time is not your most limiting resource, your energy is. Think about it, we have 24 hours in a day, but you can’t be productive for a full 24 hours can you? You have to sleep, eat, and take care of various biological needs. Have you ever sat working on a particular task and it took forever because you were sluggish, hangry, or tired? And when you were at a high energy level, you were able to get it done quickly with ease.

So here’s the solution – under schedule yourself! There are certain key things you need to implement in order to do this. First, get extremely clear on what your priorities are in your life. Go through everything on your proverbial plate with extreme prejudice and clear out anything that isn’t a priority. Once you do that, schedule in some buffer time and give yourself permission to take several breaks throughout the day. Allow idle time for your thoughts – that’s when all the great ideas come to fruition, right? – when you aren’t forcing them!

Adjust your day based on your energy levels. For example, in the ME² System for Super Productivity, it requires you to assess your average energy levels on any given day and then schedule out your tasks based on the expected energy levels each task will take. If a task requires level four energy, which is super production mode, then you must do it during the time of the day that you are experiencing level four energy. The system also requires you to identify your energy creators (those people, things, or situations that bring you energy) as well as your energy consumers (those people, things, or situations that consume your energy) and then maximize your energy creators and limit your energy consumers.

Pretty simple, right? If you’d like to learn more, go to ME2Productivity.com. Why not focus on removing one task from your schedule today? Baby steps!

Got Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion is an important skill to have if you want to achieve more in life. I read an article titled “The Self-Compassion Solution” by Marina Krakovsky published in the Spring 2018 Special Edition of Scientific American Mind and I wanted to share what I learned with you. Self-compassion is defined as extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. I’ve spoken and written about self-compassion before, but in a different way than the article because I focused completely on self-talk – how us superachievers support ourselves rather than tear ourselves apart in the conversations we have in our heads (for some of us, out loud). I’ve also spoken about resilience quite a bit as it is one of the five focus areas for superachieving. Well, it turns out, further developing your self-compassion is great for building your resilience. Think about it, lovingly supporting yourself as you struggle through adversity or a particular challenge helps make you stronger.

In the article, Krakovsky shares some of Dr. Kristen Neff’s work on self-compassion. Dr. Neff did a Ted Talk on “The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion” which you can find by simply Googling her name. She’s also created a self-compassion assessment as well as many other resources located at Self-Compassion.org. I wanted to share some of the statements from the assessment with you so you can perhaps gauge where you lie on the self-compassion scale.

Some statements associated with high self-compassion are:
• I try to see my failings as part of the human condition.
• When I’m going through a very hard time, I try to keep my emotions in balance.
• I try to be understanding and patient towards those aspects of my personality that I don’t like.

Some statements associated with low self-compassion include:
• When I fail at something important to me, I become consumed by feelings of inadequacy.
• When I’m feeling down, I tend to feel like most other people are probably happier than me.
• I’m disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies.

If you related to the first three statements, that’s great! Keep up the good work. If you related more to the latter three statements, Dr. Neff has even provided some exercises you can choose that work for you in developing your self-compassion. Some of them include thinking about how you would treat a friend, keeping a journal, taking a self-compassion break, and many more.

To take the assessment, go to Self-Compassion.org/test-how-self-compassionate-you-are/ and you can also find the exercises through a link on that page. Why not check it out today?

Professional Development in an Escape Room?

I have a confession to make: I am obsessed with escape rooms. If you’re not sure what an escape room is, it is pretty much what it sounds like. You get locked in a room for 45 minutes to an hour and you have to solve a number of puzzles to escape the room. There are thousands of these locations around the world. Each room at every location has a different theme. For example, recent escapes I made were from prison, a cabin out in the woods before a serial killer got to us, and a mad scientist’s lab where not only did we escape the lab, but we also saved humanity from the zombie virus by stealing the antidote. At this time, my husband and I have completed over 100 of these rooms, escaping from most of them.

My passion for these rooms is not only because they are fun, but also because they help in my professional development and I don’t mean by providing me with great stories for my speeches (like the time my husband and I got handcuffed and locked in coffins). Interested in hearing that story? You need to attend one of my speeches. Back to the professional development piece – there are five key areas that escape rooms help you grow in. They are Flow, metacognition, collaboration, asking for help, and resilience. Let’s go into each of these individually.

Flow: I’ve spoken about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of Flow before. This is a state of mind that when you enter it, you are totally engaged in what you are doing – so much so that you look up and time has passes without your awareness. Escape rooms induce a state of Flow, which helps you be completely focused and engaged on the task at hand.

Metacognition: Escape rooms require you to think about your thinking (which is essentially metacognition). Some of the puzzles are deliberately set up to play with the way people typically think, so you often have to challenge yourself to look at the situation in a different way (sometimes literally – you have to look at something sideways, upside down, and so on.)

Collaboration: It is pretty much impossible to successfully escape a room all by yourself. You have to work well with other people by communicating and sharing the different perspectives on a given puzzle. By working together so often, my husband and I have found that we each excel in different types puzzles, so while we work on some together, we also know when it’s time to step back and let the other take over.

Asking for Help: It is amazing how many people walk into an escape room and refuse to ask for help from the Clue or Game Master. They’re competitive natures tend to best them and they don’t end up escaping the room. Escape rooms teach you that there are times when you need to ask for help to get through a particularly tough challenge.

Resilience: Resilience is the ability to bounce back, be flexible, and overcome your own insecurities. Escape rooms help you build this because you will often fail when working on a particular puzzle and you simply have to move on or ask for help. They also teach you that you have to work together as a team, setting aside any insecurities you have, because there will be times when you won’t be able to get a puzzle and someone else on your team will.

I could go on and on about the benefits of escape rooms in your personal and professional growth. I think the biggest benefit of all is that they are fun – who wouldn’t want to have fun while in the process of becoming a better human being?

So folks – how about going to an escape room near you to try this out in the next week or so?

The Real Reason You Should Have Goals

I recently had a conversation with someone who shall remain nameless (you know who you are) and was flabbergasted to find out that they don’t have ANY current goals that they are working toward. Since this is a foreign concept to me, I asked him why he did not have any goals. He replied that he was happy in his current position at work. Of course I responded by asking him if he was completely satisfied in all areas of his life – health, finances, relationships, his knowledge and skills in his current job, spirituality, or simply who he was – there’s nothing he wants to change or grow? Surprisingly he didn’t have a response. I hope I planted a seed or two for him to think about.

So let’s focus this on you dear reader. Do you have anything you’re working toward? If so, great! Let’s get to you first – are the goals you have ones that will make you a better human being? Are they ones you’ve chosen for yourself and not because someone (or even you) said that you “should” be pursuing them. Understandably sometimes we need to achieve the goals someone else has set for us – like at work, but for your own goals – are they truly yours?

For those of you reading this that don’t have goals at all – why is that? Consider your life at this moment – are you who you imagined yourself to be? Are you pleased with your current skill level in your line of work, your current relationships, your health, and any other aspect of your life? If not, it’s time to set some goals. Like the individual with whom I spoke, some people think goals need to be related to some external event – like he had it in his head that he likes his current position, doesn’t want to get promoted, so therefore he doesn’t need to have any goals. To me, goals (and really achievement) is not about gaining external things like promotions, trophies, awards, diplomas, etc. Rather, it is about the person you become to achieve those goals. The challenge and perseverance that each goal provides us helps grow us into a wiser human being. Which then leads to us being more able to tackle what life will inevitably throw at us with more confidence and resilience.

Hopefully, I’ve provided a different perspective on why each of us should have goals. If you already have goals, why not review them today to see if they are what you truly want and if accomplishing them with grow you as a human being. If you don’t already have goals – for goodness’ sake, please write out at least three today!

Reasons We Procrastinate

Hey superachievers! I’ve spoken about procrastination before because even us superachievers fall victim to it. I recently came across the work of Michelle Tullier, in her book Overcoming Procrastination, and wanted to share what she said are the thoughts and feelings going on when procrastinating. She identified 10 main categories. They are (see if you see yourself in any of these):

Fear: Fear of failing, success, or how you’ll be judged.

Perfectionism: Making tasks more difficult and the anticipated outcomes more critical than they need to be.

Being overwhelmed: Finding a task so difficult or cumbersome that you don’t know where or how to begin or end it.

Feeling frustrated: Having a low tolerance for the ambiguity or delayed gratification that comes with some projects.

Adrenaline rush addiction: Relying on the thrill that comes from getting something done at the last minute.

Negativity toward the task: Disliking or being uninterested in the task itself.

Rebellion: Having negative feelings toward the person who assigned a task or who will benefit from it and resenting that you have to do it.

Unrealistic view of time: Having a faulty sense of time and how much you can get done within it.

Psychological issues: Disorders such as clinical depression or attention deficit disorder, among others, make it difficult to get things done.

Physical problem: Having a physical ailment that drains your energy and makes you less likely to get things done.

Knowing why you are procrastinating on a particular task will help you figure out the best way to overcome procrastinating. I am a big fan of what Mark Twain once said – that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. In summary, figure out why you are procrastinating and then just eat that darn frog first thing in the day to get it over with.

Making a Good Impression to Achieve More

We are all aware of how important others are to our success. Quite simply, we need others to get to where we want to go. If you’ve read, watched, or listened to any of my other material, you know how strongly I feel about this. We need to be consciously aware of how we interact with others – whether it is a meeting, networking, or simply running into someone in the hallway.

One of my podcast guests, Lee Caraher created a great product for her employees, called Everything Speaks, which you can learn more about at leecaraher.com. Some tips she recommends are:

  • Introduce yourself with your first and last names – clearly pronouncing them.
  • Shake hands when introduced with someone new, or when seeing people you don’t see often. Be sure your grip is confident and not a limp “dead fish.”
  • Make a positive impression by smiling. Smile when you’re meeting someone new, smile when someone is giving a presentation, even smile when walking down the hallway. You might even brighten someone’s day.
  • Rising to greet someone who just entered a room shows respect. Stand to shake hands when saying goodbye (yes, both men and women).
  • Stand up straight – if you’re nervous, it will help you hide your nerves.
  • Show that you are present in conversations, meetings and lunches by holding eye contact with people, and let them know you are paying attention.
  • Professional attire doesn’t have to be stuffy, but make it work in your favor (even in casual professional environments.) Before leaving the house, ask, “What does this outfit and accessories say about me?” If the answer does not contain confident, sharp, professional, then you may want to consider changing.
  • Just say “no” to gum – when you are with a client or in a meeting. If you do choose to chew gum outside of these circumstances, never chew with your mouth open or snap it.
  • Enjoy your favorite beverages and food but remember to freshen your breath afterwards.
  • Perfume or cologne can be overpowering when too much is applied. More and more companies have no-scent policies, so make sure you check before you go to someone else’s office.
  • Personal hygiene is VERY important. From grooming (nose hairs included) to knowing what time our deodorant fails, make sure to put your best, fresh, foot forward.

There you have it folks – some tips for making a good first impression. Once you’ve done that, you’ve opened the door to building a successful relationship with others, upping your achievement efforts.

Moving Forward When Goals Fail

Even us superachievers don’t always accomplish our goals. I recently came across Heidi Grant Halvorson’s work in her book, Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals and wanted to share the valuable information she has for moving forward when we fail to reach our goals.

Unfortunately, even the best planned and written goals sometimes fail. How do we move forward? Here’s how to keep going:

Get grit! Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals and to persist in the face of difficulty. You can increase your grittiness by choosing the right goals – ones that you want for yourself (not what you “should” be going after): self-chosen goals create a mindset that makes hanging in there for the long haul much easier.

Blame your effort, not your ability: If you believe that you are having a hard time reaching your goal because you lack the necessary ability, and that you can’t do much to change that…well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. Effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

You can’t have it all: While it’s almost never a good idea to abandon a goal because you think you lack the ability to achieve it, that doesn’t mean that it’s never in your best interest to give up on a goal. It’s important to recognize that you only have so much time and energy at your disposal to achieve your goals, and sometimes that means something’s got to give. Don’t be afraid to abandon a goal when achieving it becomes practically impossible.

Sometimes the price isn’t worth paying: It’s also perfectly okay to walk away from a goal, even when it’s something you’ve really wanted and could in fact reach, when the costs of achieving it are too great. Some sacrifices aren’t worth making – they are too painful, or they require you to give up too much.

Out with the old, in with the new: Knowing when to give up a goal that is just too difficult, or too costly, to attain is an essential part of being a healthy, satisfied person. To make the process not only easier, but even more rewarding, be sure to replace your old goal with a new one. This will enable you to maintain your sense of engagement and purpose, and to keep moving forward with your life.

There you have it superachievers! Hang in there and move on when it’s required.

Setting Goals the Right Way

How are you doing in the your goal setting process? First of all, are you setting goals? That’s the first part to achieving what you desire. Next is to make sure that you are setting your goals in the most effective manner possible. I recently came across some of Randi Bussin’s work and wanted to share her insights on goal setting for success with you. (You can learn more about her at aspireforsuccess.com.)

Here are 10 tips for goal setting:

1. Create a big picture of what you want to accomplish in your life. Take a piece of paper and write down everything you want to accomplish in the next 10 years (or use whatever method that works best for you). Be sure to include goals for all major areas of your life and as you make a list of your goals, ensure they are what you want to achieve and not something others desired for you.

2. Prioritize the goals by time frame. Return to the list you created and break the long list of goals into three smaller time frames. Three categories are short term (next 12 months), medium term (two to five years), and long term (six to ten years).

3. Rewrite your short-term goals in S.M.A.R.T. goal format and be sure the goal is written as a positive statement. Not sure what a SMART goal is? SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. To learn more, simply Google “SMART Goal.”

4. Type up your goals, put them in several places where you can see them, review them daily and revise them as needed. This action of putting your goals in a visible place becomes a daily reminder of what it is you are trying to accomplish. Spend a minute each day in front of your list of goals and read them to yourself.

5. Identify the obstacles that you will have to overcome to achieve your goals. What is going to get in the way of you achieving your goals? What is a limiting factor for you? What within yourself is holding you back?

6. Identify the knowledge, skills, and competencies you need to achieve your goals. Which skills do you need to be at the top of your game? What one skill, if you developed it, would have the greatest impact on your life or career? What one skill, if you developed it and did it consistently, would help you achieve your most important goal? Identify it and begin to work on it every single day.

7. Identify the support team you need in place to achieve your goals. To achieve big goals, you will need the help and support of many people. Identify the list of family members, work colleagues, and mentors you need in your life. As you think about your support team, think about ways in which you can be a giver and not necessarily a taker.

8. Celebrate successes. When you achieve a goal, take time to enjoy the satisfaction of having reached the milestone. Treat yourself to something to mark the accomplishment. Take the time to relish in your success, which will help boost your confidence.

9. Organize your 12-month goals into smaller more manageable steps, from the beginning to the completion of the goal. Planning is very important to reaching your goals. The 80/20 rule (the Pareto principle) states that 80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your efforts. So how will you spend your time?

10. Act every day. Lots of baby steps add up to big goals. If you’re having a very busy day at work, don’t beat yourself up. Just do one thing, one little thing, each day that will keep the momentum going and you moving forward.

Think about how you will implement these today!

Embrace Your Nervousness!

Us superachievers are often stretching outside our comfort zone and there are times when we find ourselves in situations that can be a bit nerve-wracking. It could be that you are about to speak up in a meeting about an idea that you have to people who have the power to make the idea happen or to squash it. Perhaps you are about to take that leap into entrepreneurship from the safety of a secure job. Or, it could be that you are about to take a different kind of leap – perhaps out of a plane. Whatever it is, because you are a superachiever, you are choosing to do something that scares you every day and that is often accompanied by nerves.

So here are some ways that you can manage your nervousness when you’re out there doing great things for our world. This advice has been gathered from various sources over the years.

Know Your Triggers: When you are aware of your triggers – what leads to your nervousness – you can plan and prepare for your reaction before it happens. Perhaps it is speaking in public that riles you up, or sharing an idea that you have come up with yourself and feel very strongly about. Whatever triggers your nerves is unique to you and self-awareness is the first step in pretty much everything, right? Knowing what triggers you will allow you to be prepared for when the nerves start hindering you.

Breathe: Engage in deep breathing exercises to calm your nervous system. This is a very important process is in working through your nerves. When we get nervous, we tend to take quick, shallow breaths. The deeper and slower your breathe, the more your nerves will dissipate.

Accept it: Admit your nervousness and quit beating yourself up over it. Guess what? You’re human and there is no Perfect 10! Remind yourself that there is no such thing as perfect and do your best.

Reframe it: Instead of thinking “I’m so nervous!”, think “I’m excited!” Changing your interpretation of what your body is doing will help you motivate you to rise to the challenge. A great resource for this is Kelly McGonagall’s TED Talk on stress. Google it.

Prepare, prepare, prepare! Mentally and physically prepare for what you want to say or do. The more you prepare and rehearse, the easier the action you take will be. Why do you think law enforcement and military constantly prepare and rehearse responding to various events? It is so that their subconscious programming and muscle memory can take over and get the job done and nerves have less of an impact. This applies to anything in life – even rehearsing going through airport security with your kids so they’ll be less likely to be nervous and have an emotional meltdown.

Focus on your mission. Remember the “Why” behind what you’ve chosen to do. Keeping focused on the Why will help you move past the nerves.

Put it in perspective. Whatever you are about to do or say is a fraction of your life (even a fraction of your day!) Change your internal dialogue by reminding yourself that this is but a few moments of your time, so you can step up to meet the challenge.

There you have it superachievers – a few tips for moving past the nervousness that naturally occurs when you’re out in the world doing great things. Pick a couple to practice today.

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