Real Mom vs. Super Mom

I love it when a client wants to share her insight from a coaching session.  One of my clients recently identified the pitfalls of trying to be a Super Mom and decided to be a Real Mom instead.

She defined a Real Mom this way:

  • Acknowledges she needs help
  • Asks for what she needs
  • Is resourceful
  • Focuses on what is important to her kids
  • Makes them part of the solution
  • Lets go of being needed

It was great to see my client redefine her priorities by getting out of her own way and getting clear about her ultimate goal:  teaching her children how to be whole and healthy.

This works for dads too!

Are You Too Comfortable?

It is pretty common for me to realize that something I say to a client is also something I need to hear.  Recently that has been, “If you aren’t uncomfortable, then you aren’t growing.”  As a result of some major changes in an organization to which I belong, I have been catapulted from a lazy river to the whitewater rapids.

Instead of going with the flow, I am asking myself questions that don’t have simple answers.  I’m challenging beliefs and letting go of relationships that have been comfortable for a long time.  At first, it was scary – I don’t know how deep the water is at the end of those rapids.  Now it’s pretty exciting to consider going in a new direction, even if it means a bumpy ride.

If you aren’t feeling a little uncomfortable in some aspect of your life, I challenge you to think about where you aren’t growing.  As Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

Don’t Burn Your Fingers!

Last month I described the results of a session on creating a “Secret Sauce for Successful Leaders”:  vision, communication, confidence, positive role modeling, reliability, trustworthiness and transparency with generous dashes of encouragement, motivation, appreciation, fun, coaching, caring and steadiness.

In our “How to Avoid Burning Your Fingers” exercise, the group identified the following potential distractions to implementing that Secret Sauce recipe:

  • External market factors
  • Loss of business
  • Morale / Negativity
  • Resistance
  • Communication
  • Safety or other incidents
  • Talent
  • Resource management
  • Personal distractions

Could you choose the perfect dessert for each member of your team without asking them what they want?  Our last item on the menu for this session, “Why We Shouldn’t Skip Dessert,” explored the importance of celebrating successes in ways that motivate each individual.  Here are some of the techniques that were mentioned:

  • Listening
  • Trust
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Support
  • Involvement in decision-making
  • Meaningful work
  • Autonomy
  • Training & development
  • Career advancement
  • Money

I invite you to create your own secret sauce recipe, develop a plan to put the lid on potentially painful distractions, and serve each of your team members a dessert that will motivate them to succeed even in a challenging market.

Can’t Lose

I binge-watched Friday Night Lights this summer and wrapped up with the final episode last night.  If you haven’t seen the show, the football coach’s motto is “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”.  He starts the chant and the team finishes it before they head into every game, committed to doing their best.

As you might expect in a show set in high school, there are a lot of transitions over five seasons and 65 episodes – students graduating and leaving home, parents losing jobs and relationships ending.  The motto was a good reminder of how to handle some of the transitions I have been observing with my clients and some I am experiencing myself.

When we can get past the negatives to clearly see the positive lessons in these transitions and respond to them with hearts full of courage, then we can’t lose.

How Will You Be Remembered?

My sweet 87 year old mother-in-law passed away recently and my husband wrote and delivered her eulogy. It was a wonderful tribute to a very loving, caring person with a great sense of humor and an amazing amount of tenacity. I couldn’t help but think about my own life and how I might be remembered. The idea of writing my own eulogy seems like a good way to assess my priorities and commitments to myself and to others.

If you decide to explore this yourself, here are some questions to consider:

  • What words did you live by? One of my favorites from Gandhi is “You must become the change you wish to see in the world.”
  •  Which accomplishments made you the most proud? These might be personal, professional or both.
  •  What will people miss most about you? This would be a good question to ask someone close to you.

Once you are clear about the kind of person you want to be, I invite you to identify anything you need to change, how you will do that and who will hold you accountable. You never know how much time you have left so don’t delay!

Suspending Judgment

In a recent presentation, Avoiding Potholes on the Road to Career Success, I mentioned one of the 20 habits in Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There — Passing Judgment. Goldsmith defines that as rating people according to our standards, which is different from stating an opinion.

This is a hard habit to break in a world focused on celebrities and reality TV. I admit to the guilty pleasure of watching the “pre-game show” on Academy Awards night, which is all about rating what the stars are wearing and judging how they look. When we pass judgment on someone’s appearance, actions or ideas, we assume we know better. No one wants to be judged.

If you need to break this habit, here is a celebrity challenge for you: try to avoid judging any ideas for one week. Stay neutral and just say, “Thanks.” That doesn’t mean you agree or disagree with the idea, only that you heard it. Notice how people react. If you find that suspending judgment leads to more open discussion, keep it up!