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Are You Riding the Brakes?

You may have heard of Car Talk, a popular radio talk show about automobiles and their repairs hosted by brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi, broadcast weekly on NPR. I happened to find a question from a fan about riding the brakes that Tom and Ray answered which provides some wonderful metaphors for life. Let’s take a look. I’ve edited a bit for brevity and highlighted the parts we’re going to focus on later.

Dear Tom and Ray:

My husband…drives with one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas. At a red light, the poor car is trying desperately to move forward, as told by the right foot, but is being held prisoner by the left foot. It’s a terrible thing to experience and takes every ounce of my being to stay silent. … I am just asking/begging you guys to declare that two-footed driving is bad. … Thanks for your time, guys. I do hope you have a lovely, one-footed day. — Nikki

[edited]

TOM: If he’s “riding the brake” — that is, resting his left foot on the brake while he’s accelerating — he can easily overheat the brakes. And when brakes overheat, they stop working. That’s bad, right?

RAY: Even if he doesn’t overheat the brakes, he’ll surely wear them out faster. He’ll also be activating his brake lights when he’s not intending to stop. That tends to confuse and infuriate the drivers behind him.

TOM: It also “outs” him as a full-blown geezer.

RAY: On the other hand, if he uses two feet — one for the gas pedal and one for the brake — but only uses one pedal at a time, there’s nothing wrong with that.

TOM: It is, however, very difficult to avoid resting your left foot on the brake. Try it yourself. Your leg will be aching after about five minutes.

RAY: So make a deal with him, Nikki. If he’s willing to go to the gym and strengthen his gastrocnemius, soleus, plantaris, tibialis posterior, peroneus longus and peroneus brevis muscles so he can keep his nonactive foot flexed and off the unused pedal, you’ll stop complaining about his driving.

TOM: But if he can’t — or won’t — stick to only one foot at a time, tell him…you’re buying him a car with a clutch. That’ll give his left foot something productive to do.

Credit: My SA: San Antonio’s Home Page

What’s your left foot doing?

You and I don’t have a gas pedal and a brake pedal. But we often set goals only to hold ourselves or our “passengers” back, so the car metaphor works really well to shed light on why we often find it far more difficult to achieve those goals than it could be. Perhaps we’re spending more personal energy than we need to — overheating our brakes and getting worn out too soon. Perhaps we’re using more external resources. Maybe we’re putting strain on our personal or professional relationships. Let’s take a look at the highlighted areas from the exchange above and see how they apply to real life.

  1. Trying desperately to move forward, as told by the right foot, but is being held prisoner by the left foot. This is the definition of riding the brake: pushing on the gas while simultaneously pushing down on the brake. We are saying we want to move, but also saying we don’t want to move. It’s time to make up our minds. Commit to the action you really want to take and remove one of your feet! Take your foot off the brake if you truly want to move ahead with your goals and dreams. But if you have an excellent reason not to move forward, then make a commitment now to say “no” and remove your foot from the gas.
  2. Activating his brake lights when he’s not intending to stop. That tends to confuse and infuriate the drivers behind him. There are people around you who are ready to support you and may already have given you their support. If you’re noticing some conflict in your personal or professional relationships, no wonder! When you stop sending mixed signals, the people around you will no longer be confused and exasperated. Get clear with yourself, and then broadcast a clear message with your actions.
  3. Very difficult to avoid resting your left foot on the brake. Your leg will be aching after about five minutes. Some of us are rationalizing our “riding the brake” approach by saying that we aren’t actually touching the brake with the left foot. We are holding the left foot above the brake pedal in READINESS for stopping. This Car Talk response shows that, even if that is true, it is a waste of physical effort and energy. It is exausting to actually keep one’s foot hovering in the air for very long. It is time to get honest with yourself. Keeping one foot on both pedals may not actually help you be any more ready to stop than another, simpler approach. It may be you’re a victim of habit — a behavior you’ve simply become very accustomed to. Time to break that mindless attachment and mindfully choose a behavior that supports your growth.
  4. If he’s willing to go to the gym and strengthen his gastrocnemius, soleus, plantaris, tibialis posterior, peroneus longus and peroneus brevis muscles so he can keep his nonactive foot flexed and off the unused pedal… As a follow up to number 3, if you really do want to keep your habitual behavior, here is what is required to do it well (in this case, keep your foot hovering in the air above the pedal). Are you that committed to your approach? Often, when we discover what is required to continue with our current methods effectively, we realize it is just not worth it and we are more wiling to abandon them for something that will more easily produce the results we really want. Why not evaluate your current technique and see whether you’d like to make it work better, or give it up for something that will help you move forward more easily?
  5. Give his left foot something productive to do. Instead of working hard to hold on to your current method, you may be surprised to find that putting your energy into a new approach actually does produce better results. This means being willing to learn and then actually DO something new. Often we go as far as learning the new method, but we keep it in the theoretical realm, never applying what we’ve learned. The key here is to put your new learning into practical action as soon as you possibly can. Identify the new behavior you’d like to adopt, and then take action! There will never be a better time than now.

Whether you need to commit to full forward momentum or a complete stop, finding clarity and making the commitment frees up energy and communicates intention. Your level of satisfaction will naturally increase with your ability to make greater use of your resources, increased mental clarity, and less conflict in your relationships. Take your foot off one of the pedals, and stop riding the brake!

If you would like assistance on which course of action to take, contact us. Coaching can help you gain clarity.

Next newsletter, I’ll follow up with this article. I wonder what action you will have taken by then? Write to me and let me know about your results. I love hearing from you.

 

 

Think Big Manifesto

What I’m reading now

The Think Big Manifesto: Think You Can’t Change Your Life (and the World)? Think Again. (Michael Port): Michael Port has written several successful business books, but this one took him out of his comfort zone. He talks straight about his own fears and excuses and then openly moves beyond them to show you how to do the same thing. Ready to think big? Bigger? It’s not a big book, but don’t judge it’s impact by it’s size.

 

 

Michelle Kunz: Life Coach, Career Coach, Executive Coach

About Michelle Kunz

Michelle earned her Certified Professional Coach (CPC) certification from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), an International Coach Federation (ICF) – accredited coach training program. She has also earned the ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential and is qualified to administer, interpret and debrief the Myers-Briggs, FIRO-B, and Energy Leadership assessments. She is currently accepting a limited number of new clients interested in life coaching, career coaching, executive coaching, or leadership training and development.

 

 

Power

Follow Up

What new technique did you try? Last month we talked about how to listen better to others so they would be more open to listening to your ideas. Specifically, I encouraged you to try active listening and changing your physical position while remaining silent to expand your listening skills. How did you do? Miss the last issue? Click here to read it.

 

 

Energy

Living Fearlessly Coaching Program!

Begins June 13: Register now for this fun, interacitve coaching program! Learn how to move past the fear that stops you dead in your tracks or keeps you repeating undesirable patterns of behavior. Includes live webinars, personal assessment and debrief, and more. To register now click here. Seats are limited and early registration discounts apply.

 

 

Leadership

From the PEL Blog

Intensity: Your personal accelerator: “It really doesn’t matter if you are driving a Lamborghini and have a long stretch of empty road ahead of you if you are barely touch the accelerator pedal. If you don’t crank up the engine and take advantage of everything that car was built to do, you may as well be driving a Hyundai.” To read more about this topic, check out the blog!

 

 

Copyright © 2012 PEL Coaching, LLC All rights reserved.

Your Leadership Power Charge for May 2012

PEL Coaching, LLC

For May only, receive 50% off any coaching package.

Call (703) 272-7542 or email us at info@pelcoaching.com for details.

(Not valid for individual sessions.)

 I’m Talking, But You Aren’t Listening!Have you ever been in this situation? You’re in a meeting where a decision is on the table. Unfortunately, there is a conflict standing between certain members of the team (perhaps you are one of them) and a truly solid decision. The issue has been discussed for some time, but no resolution seems forthcoming. The talking seems to be going nowhere. Or perhaps this variation: You and your intimate partner — or perhaps your child — are embroiled in a conflict. You’re doing your best to explain how you feel about it — and it’s very important to you that they understand your point of view. But no matter how carefully you choose your words, the other person seems to get more and more committed to their point of view and less and less interested in yours.

No matter what the situation, it’s extremely frustrating when we don’t feel heard. Particularly when we take great care to choose our words carefully, manage the conflict skillfully, and manage our emotions with maturity and sensitivity. What more can we possibly do to turn the situation around? Why in the world is the other person or parties involved not responding to our efforts?!

Words are Often Overrated

We live in a primarily verbal society. We rely on words to communicate almost entirely — whether those words be spoken or written (which includes texting). You’re reading this newsletter. You likely email dozens of times in the course of a day. You speak and speak. And it is very important that we learn to communicate effectively when it comes to words. Without the ability to communicate our ideas clearly and passionately — so that others get excited about them — we lose the ability to connect with others and gain support for our plans.

However, there are times when we need to stop talking and choose something else. And there are two something elses I would like you to try this month:

  1. Active listening.
  2. Physically changing your position while remaining silent.

Active Listening

If you’ve taken any management, coaching, counseling, or parenting courses, you’ve likely been exposed to the skill of active listening. The question is, do you choose to utilize your knowledge when it counts? It’s easy to engage in active listening when we like what we’re hearing, or when we’re in a “coaching mindset.” It’s not so easy to do this when we’re smack in the middle of our very own personal or professional conflict. But that is just the time when this skill will be the most valuable. To review, active listening is the ability to step into the other person’s shoes and not just hear the words, but also really understand what they are saying from their perspective. Then, using that understanding, we reflect back what we’re hearing and ask for clarification to make sure we’ve received the message accurately. To take this skill to the next level, we can add comments that reflect our understanding of their emotional experience, such as “that must be very frustrating” or “anyone in that situation would feel angry — no wonder you’ve taken no action on this (if that is the case).” If they correct us, there is no need to take it personally; we are gaining greater clarity as to what their experience really is. Simply thank them for clarifying and continue to reflect back. You can prompt with questions such as “what else is happening?” or “is there more?”. You may be surprised to discover that there is, in fact, more that has built up over time.

The value of active listening is that once the other person feels truly heard, you will likely have some new information about the situation to consider for yourself. Perhaps you didn’t have the whole picture before. You may even choose to alter your original plan due to the additional information you now have. In addition, it is much easier to motivate and inspire others when they feel heard. It is almost impossible to do so by talking alone because until we have heard them, we don’t really know what their concerns and issues are, so how can we motivate and inspire them anyway?

If you would like to increase your skills in active listening, contact us. Coaching can help you build your listening skills for any situation.

Physically changing your position can change everything

When we are stuck emotionally and mentally, we are almost always stuck physically in some way as well. We hold our breath. We stop moving. This is part of the fight or flight response that is built into our physiology. No matter how much we try to get unstuck in our thinking or our feelings, there are times when what we really need to do is get unstuck in our bodies first. So, stop talking and start moving! Get up and take a short walk. Stretch. Take several deep breaths. If you’re in a meeting, just get up and walk around the room. Change your seat at the table if you can. Invite everyone to get up and move around the room and then come back to the table. If you’re at home, go outside for a few minutes. Ask your partner or child to table the conversation for a few minutes (set a time limit) and take a “body break” — meaning that you both go do something physical. Run up and down the stairs a few times. Do a downward facing dog or a few jumping jacks.

You will be very surprised by how shifting your body can shift your thinking and feeling. It can sometimes feel to me as if I literally was stuck in a certain way of thinking or feeling because my body was stuck in a certain posture or position. Once I change that, my brain releases itself to try on something new. Remember, we are not our brains. We are whole body beings. So, make use of that whole body intelligence and see what new things start to happen for you.

Next newsletter, I’ll follow up with this article. I wonder what new things you will have tried by then? I wonder what you will discover if you try BOTH techniques in one situation? Write to me and let me know about your results. I love hearing from you.

Life Strategies

What I’m reading now

Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters (Phillip C. Mcgraw, Ph.D.): You probably know him as Dr. Phil, and many people I speak with aren’t fond of his TV persona. While I would have to agree with that opinion, I have to confess that his no-nonsense approach to addressing common excuses for NOT taking action is very effective. Even coaches have excuses, and, just like you, we don’t like looking at them. If you’re ready to get down and dirty with yourself, this might be the book for you!

 

Michelle Kunz: Life Coach, Career Coach, Executive Coach

About Michelle Kunz

Michelle earned her Certified Professional Coach (CPC) certification from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), an International Coach Federation (ICF) – accredited coach training program. She has also earned the ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential and is qualified to administer, interpret and debrief the Myers-Briggs, FIRO-B, and Energy Leadership assessments. She is currently accepting a limited number of new clients interested in life coaching, career coaching, executive coaching, or leadership training and development.

Power

Follow Up

What Juicy Vision Did You Create? Last month we talked about creating juicy new visions so you could take new actions and produce new results. Something you could commit to taking action on, that you could already get excited about, and where you could create an enticing vision of success that inspires and delights you. How did you do?

Energy

Living Fearlessly!

Free Webinar May 30 at 8 pm EDT: Register now for this fun, interactive webinar! Learn how to move past the fear that stops you dead in your tracks or keeps you repeating undesirable patterns of behavior. Live the life you REALLY want and deserve. To register now click here. Seats are limited!

 

Leadership

From the PEL Blog

Both cooperation and competition are vital to success: “The ability to be simultaneously cooperative and competitive is an art form that requires practice and engages distinctive parts of your brain.” To read more about this interesting article from Psychology Today, check out the blog!

Copyright ©2012 PEL Coaching, LLC, All rights reserved.

Your Personal Leadership Power Charge (April 2012)

PEL Coaching, LLC

7 Things You Can Do Now to Increase Your Satisfaction

Earlier this week I read a blog post by the Purpose Fairy entitled 15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy. This a fairly exhaustive collection of stuff that gets in our way, with some ideas on how to start letting go of it and make a positive shift.

However, I’ve noticed with my own experience and with my clients that you can’t just let something go or give something up. No matter how hard we try, the vacuum that is left in the gaping hole of what we left behind will try to drag us back, and this is usually pretty irresistible to most of us. It’s true in nature as well. Air and water will both flow with great ease (in the absence of anything to stop it) toward a hole where there isn’t any of it and try to fill up that space. In order to REALLY make a lasting difference it is not enough to simply give something up. We MUST replace it with something else. We have to plug up that hole. AND, even more importantly for greater success, that something else has to be really ATTRACTIVE. The something else must have at least as much appeal as the something you gave up. It has to be as seductive. And if it has even MORE appeal, you will be energetically entranced by your idea of it and be more willing to easily move toward it.

Let’s Create Something Juicy!

I was recently a participant in a workshop led by Katie Hendricks on Conscious Loving and Living. Katie is a big fan of “juiciness” because that aptly describes the quality of attractiveness that gets us excited or “juiced up” about something. When we create a vision with sufficient detail and emotional connection to what we truly desire, that creates a kind of “juicy” anticipation which can energize us through the times when we will feel challenged or tempted to give up.

So let’s get going! I’ve created a list of seven things you can do now to get juicier. Give one or more of these a try and let me know which worked best for you.

  1. Eagerly seek out and embrace the mystery of not knowing. We like to think we know a lot about a lot of things, and there are certainly things we do know. However, our conviction that we know (and that we are right about what we know) often gets in our way of discovering the new way of looking at or doing or experiencing something that might just be what we’ve been waiting for to break through an old pattern.
  2. Delight in the flexibility and ease hidden in acceptance. When we learn to accept what is with love and empathy, we experience ease and flexibility that is not available to us when we are constantly justifying why things should be this way or arguing with someone because we can’t get a satisfying answer to why they aren’t that way. Trying to exert control over things we have no real control over makes us rigid and, let’s face it, creates a lot of busy work that just doesn’t pay off in the long run.
  3. Celebrate the freedom of taking 100% responsibility for your life and allowing others to do the same. When we own our lives — all the efforts and all the results — and we allow others to own theirs, we release ourselves from the burden of trying to make everything work out for everyone else AND we release everyone else from the burden of having to make our lives work out for us. With all that freedom, we can focus on what we truly want and our energy can be directed to efforts that will yield positive results.
  4. Love yourself with abandon. When we fall in love with someone else, we are willing to overlook their flaws. We can’t wait to spend time with them. We go out of our way to do little things that we know will delight them. Even as the relationship matures, we show our love in a variety of ways: words of praise or affection, quality time, gifts, acts of service, physical touch, and others. When was the last time you treated yourself as sweetly and thoughtfully as you would a lover or a child? Our relationship with self is a perfect place to practice love with abandon. After all, we spend more time with our selves than with anyone else.
  5. Infuse your mind with the excitement of thinking BIG! Possibilities are what shape reality. Our minds are limitless, and they create positive possibilities or negative. When we get excited about thinking BIG we expand our capacity to create bountiful positive possibilities. We break past our current state of being, in our thoughts, and we see a vision of a future that inspires us. And perhaps scares us just a little. Excitement and fear sometimes have similar feelings in our bodies. So we can focus on the fluttery feeling and let it stop us or make us smaller because it feels scary, or we can use the energy that our bodies are producing to ignite us to excited, energized BIG action.
  6. Radiate your gloriously beautiful authentic self. Be willing to shed the layers accumulated through years of careful adherence to rules that no longer serve you. Not only will you feel lighter and have more energy, but your energy will be clearer, more attractive, and easier for others to connect to. You’ll find you can communicate your ideas with greater ease. Your experience of being will be more joyful. You may even find that you really like who you discover underneath all that stuff you’ve been carrying around.
  7. Lovingly gift yourself the luxury of experiencing all the stages of change with understanding and patience. Change can be good, it is true. And it is also true that there is a natural cycle that we all experience as we process the change itself, even if we caused the change to take place. Rather than hurry through that process to get to the other side, rushing to the positive planned result, embrace the experience of each stage with empathy and kindness. The stages are part of the change, and they each deserve to be honored. The experience of pain and loss is no better nor worse in terms of intrinsic value than the experience of joy and celebration. When we learn to embrace each experience with love, we learn to appreciate more of what we already have. We can enjoy where we are now AND where we are going.

Ready to replace something that’s holding you back with something a lot juicier? Remember: when you hear yourself thinking or saying: “I want to stop _____” or “I’d like to let go of ________”, that’s the time to begin creating your super attractive, active positive statement that has real meaning for you. Something you can commit to taking action on, that you can already get excited about, and where you can create an enticing vision of success that inspires and delights you. If you’d like additonal support in creating your super juicy vision, contact me!

 

Have You Seen This Yet?

Brene Brown: Listening to ShameShame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word. Click here to watch this inspiring Ted Talk.

About PEL Coaching

PEL Coaching, LLC, is a coaching and consulting company headquartered in the Washington, DC area based on the ideology of Power, Energy, and Leadership. Our philosophy is grounded on the idea that when these three powerful forces are directed, individuals, couples, families, managers, executives, teams, groups, and organizations of all sizes can achieve new levels of satisfaction and success and better manage communication, conflict, and challenge.

 

New Easy Scheduling

We have an easy-to-use scheduling tool now available on our website. Simply click on the link and schedule your coaching session. Complimentary sessions are available for anyone interested in exploring how coaching can make a difference in your life, relationships, career, or organization. Visit our website for more details.

Your coach, Michelle Kunz

About Michelle Kunz

Michelle earned her Certified Professional Coach (CPC) certification from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), an International Coach Federation (ICF) – accredited coach training program. She has also earned the ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential and is qualified to administer, interpret and debrief the Myers-Briggs, FIRO-B, and Energy Leadership assessments. She is currently accepting a limited number of new clients interested in life coaching, career coaching, executive coaching, or leadership training and development.

Copyright © 2012 PEL Coaching, LLC, All rights reserved.