Archive for September, 2008

Friends

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

I am blessed to have wonderful friends. Some are actually family (yes, it’s okay to be friends with family! lol). I still have some friends from grade school that I only see or have the opportunity to get together with once every few years. When we get together it’s as though we are still kids, hanging out during the Wisconsin winter and finding so much to do to keep ourselves busy. Other friends are of more recent acquaintance, some I’ve known for 20 years and others less than a year. Yet I find that every year they are more and more precious to me.

From the life coaching point of view I’ve come to realize that it makes sense to have such a broad range of friends. Each friend or group of friends has come to be very special to me and has supported me at different times in my life, I never want to forget or stop appreciating that love and support.

The friends of my childhood and teenage years know a Sandy that has grown and changed in amazing ways. Who would have ever thought that the quick tempered rather shy girl would have become a life coach? And these friends have grown and changed as well, when we get together we reminisce and appreciate the qualities that drew us together long ago, all over again.

Some very important friends were people that I came to know when I was raising my children. Most of them were also raising kids; some of us had our boys in Scouts together, shared church activities, sports, etc. Our kids and these activities gave us a strong connection and some of these friendships have become much more back-burner since the kids have all grown. They’re still very important and the fondness I have for them hasn’t dwindled, I simply see them much less often. They kept me sane through the child-rearing years and for that I’ll always have a special place for them in my heart.

I have gardening buddies. They share my love of puttering in the dirt. We share plants, plans for our yards, frustrations with lack or excess of water, sun, etc. These amazing people all make me feel very optimistic; they are all looking forward to a better, more beautiful tomorrow.

Some of my more recent friends share my personal interests much more than the interests of my husband and children. It makes sense, my boys have grown, my husband has his own interests and I’m now making friends much like those of my childhood, are much more tuned in to my personality, hobbies and interests. It’s very exciting!

All in all I would like to thank my friends, new and old. Each one of you has loved and supported me in ways that you probably are not even aware of. In many ways, each of you has been a wonderful life coach, you have taught me, motivated me and pushed me to grow. I thank each and every one of you for being my friend.

I wish you a day filled with love and support from fabulous friends.

Warmly,
Sandy

Enthusiastic, Positive Action

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

I was pleased to run into a woman I know recently. She was so excited and looked so happy I had to ask her what was going on in her life. The life coach in me was excited to see her enthusiasm and excitement, I had to know more.

It turns out that this woman feels very strongly about which candidate she thinks should be elected president in the upcoming election. This year she decided that instead of simply going out to vote, she would do all that she could to see that her candidate would become the next president. She has volunteered to work the phone banks, is going door to door and talking to people and handing out literature. She is attending speeches and rallies. She is even opening up her home to fellow campaign workers and voters.

Wow!!! I was amazed, especially when she told me that as recently as a year ago, she would never have been able to do any of these things, and she would have felt overwhelmed and far too shy. What happened? She found something that she feels passionately about and discovered that baby steps could soon lead her down a wonderful path.

Talking to this woman was incredible. We have completely opposite views about whom
would make a better president, but that was okay. She never once criticized my candidate; instead she focused on the positive attributes of hers. Although I am firm in my beliefs and know who I will vote for, I found myself eagerly listening to what she had to say. Her enthusiasm was contagious and her positive attitude made me see her candidate in a far more positive light.

I would like to congratulate this amazing woman on taking action. One of the things coaching clients always need to understand is that it doesn’t matter how eager you are to reach your goal, if you do not take some type of action, big or small, you will not reach that goal. However, when you go to bed tonight, as you think about the day and what has happened, you will no doubt feel wonderful when you realize that you have taken steps towards achieving your goal. And when you have spread positive energy to others with your smile and enthusiasm, you will help others to feel wonderful as well.

I wish you a day filled with actions that will lead closer to your goal, no matter what that goal may be. Doesn’t it feel fabulous to be on the road to success?

Warmly,
Sandy

Choose Kindness

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Think back a moment. All the way back to when you were a small child. When we were heard to say something that was hurtful, we probably heard our Mom tell us ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’ Mom was a great life coach! And as is often the case, she was right for many reasons.

When we say something hurtful, mean or vicious we are directing it at someone but it reflects directly on us. The person we are criticizing may or not be there in person, but the impression is usually a lasting one. The impression that we are unkind and sometimes even petty. Why? Because what we say is always about us, not the person we are talking about.

Simple coaching lesson here, everything I say is about me, nothing I say is about you. What does that mean? If I compliment you on the beautiful yard you have landscaped it’s true that I’m trying to convey my appreciation of your talents. It’s really about how I feel and my point of view. Who knew? Yes, it’s true that I want you to feel good, appreciated and respected, but again, that’s about what I want, isn’t it? If you do feel good, appreciated and respected then I in turn feel good because I brought that about. My comments are about me, not you.

By the same token, if I criticize you, tell you that you yard is untidy and makes the neighborhood look shoddy, what and who do you think this is really about? It would appear that it’s about you and that’s certainly what you will feel like, but if you step back and think about it, in reality I am telling you that your yard bothers me, and that I feel like I am being damaged. But by being harsh and possibly even cruel I have hurt you and made the distinct impression that I am a very unpleasant person. Is anything positive accomplished in this manner? I think not.

So, let’s take a moment and think about it. If it turns out that everything I say is in reality about me and is indeed a reflection of me, I need to make some choices here. What did Mom tell me? How can I put it into action? Kindness. It’s just that easy isn’t it? It’s easy to be kind when we want to convey something positive, such as complimenting the neighbor on their lovely landscaping. But, is there a kind way to deal with the neighbor that let’s their yard be somewhat shoddy? I think so.

It begins with a smile. I absolutely guarantee you that anything you have to say to me I will hear more easily if you smile when you say it. Find something to compliment. So you think the neighbors’ yard is a disaster and it makes you a bit crazy because you can see the weeds oozing into your yard. There’s a good chance that going over and yelling is only going to result in a shouting match or possibly a black eye. Try going over with a smile and a friendly comment or two. You break the ice and offer kindness. As you chat with this neighbor you may find that you have more in common that you know. Who knows what is going on in this person’s life? It’s possible that there are reasons for the oozing weeds, maybe they are overwhelmed with work, someone may be ill in their house, and they simply may not know or care about the weeds. We had a neighbor who grew their own bumper crop of dandelions…ugh. I made myself crazy about it because I was so proud of my weed-free yard. It turned out that they really didn’t know what to do about the weeds weren’t very bothered by them and were just too busy to deal with them in any case. As we chatted over a few friendly visits I invited her to my yard, she would comment on the flowers or play area for the kids. These were my opportunities to say how grateful I was that we didn’t have a lot of prickly weeds in the areas the kids played, that mulch controlled weeds in the flowers easily, etc. In short, instead of criticizing her yard I shared my thoughts and efforts about my yard. Eventually, she got the message, I think because it was friendly. Their yard never became weed-free. But she tried to keep them manageable and I always made a point of telling her how nice her yard looked. She felt good, I was happier.

Our kids, partners, even our pets all respond to kindness much easier then harshness. Screaming and yelling at a 6 year old little boy to stop bouncing on the couch will probably on result in him crying and starting to bounce again in a few minutes. Giving him a pillow on the floor and asking him to bounce on it instead and applauding his efforts is more likely to keep his sanity and mine. Shouting at my dog for barking at the leaves in the yard will only result in him running away from me and barking at me. Diverting his attention with a happy voice and giving him something else to do is much more likely to result in us both being happier and a bit less frustrated. I’m sure you get the idea. Take a deep breath, smile and remember that everything you say is truly a reflection of you. Try kindness.

Kindness feels good. It’s really that simple. When I am kind to you, I feel good and there’s a good chance you do too. So listen to the coach here, be nice to someone today. It works.

Wishing you a day of practicing kindness, I know it will make you feel fabulous and I’m sure those around you will notice and appreciate your efforts.

With warmth,
Sandy

Discover Your Strengths

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

From the time we are very small we begin realizing that we are really good at some things, and not so good at others. Thats normal and perfectly okay!

As we get a bit older we start learning that the skills that come naturally and easily to us are usually the things that we are good at and they are called our strengths. We may struggle with other tasks or skills and generally classify them as our weaknesses. It seems that from that time on we are told that we need to work on these weaknesses; however, it seems that very little emphasis is put on building our strengths in comparison.

Fast forward to adulthood and the lives we lead. Often the emphasis is still on our weaknesses, seldom on our strengths. I would encourage you to not spend quite so much time working on the things that you struggle with, unless of course they are some of the basic skills necessary for a comfortable life.

From the life coaching point of view, it makes sense to me to spend more energy on natural strengths, skills and talents. For instance, perhaps you love writing, but hate working with numbers. Since you love to write a fascinating story it makes sense to build on this, research education and career options, from journalism to child book author, check it all out and see what appeals to you. Then run with it! It’s no coincidence that your greatest strengths and talents are often the activities that bring you the greatest happiness and joy.

Now, I’m not saying that you should ignore all your trouble-spots, or weaknesses. You may not enjoy math and it may be a struggle, but you still need to be proficient enough in basic math to double check your receipts, balance your checkbook, etc. The basics need to be in place to keep your life manageable. But after those basics are covered, I say work on your strengths.

When we embrace our natural talents, work becomes in many ways, like play. We come to love what we do and when we truly enjoy our work we usually get to be very good at it, when we excel at our work we are most likely to make excellent money. Making good money gives us more options in the rest of our life. And it goes on and on and on.

So, I suggest that we all work on our strengths, enjoy them, bask in the feeling of doing what we love and enjoy the sweet rewards that come along.

Wishing you a day spent discovering that your fabulous strengths and talents can also bring you great pleasure, great abundance and prosperity.

Warmly,
Sandy

Subtle or Direct, What Works For You?

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

My eldest son recently married a wonderful young woman. While we were chatting one day she mentioned something about my son not always picking up subtle hints. I suggested giving up on the hints and taking a more direct approach, state exactly what she would like him to do. They are discovering so much about each other and realizing they each have slightly different ways of communicating. They’re working at figuring it out; I think they’ll be fine. That’s both the mom in me and the life coach speaking. 🙂

Since that little chat, I have given this a lot of thought. It’s occurred to me that a lot of aggravation and disappointment is caused by this simple type of misunderstanding. If she keeps dropping hints and he never acts on them, her feelings may be hurt and then she could very likely become angry because she thinks that he is simply being inconsiderate. From his point of view, he thinks all is well. After all, no one has informed him of anything different. Oh maybe she’s feeling a bit grumpy, but he asked if anything was bothering her and she said no, so it must be that she needs a nap. Ug

Time for a bit of life coaching here. It’s really pretty basic and so simple that you already know what I’m going to say, I’m sure.

They need to have a little talk about communication styles. It needs to be out loud, in actual words, face to face and preferably with smiles on their faces. She probably needs to bite the bullet and simply be more direct with him. For example, instead of piling all of his dirty socks on top of his favorite baseball cap, thinking this will convince him to put them in the clothes hamper, she probably needs to ask him to put them in the hamper. For his part, he needs to make an actual effort to communicate clearly as well and also when he is really not clear about what are probably hints ask! Again with a smile. Think of how much aggravation will be avoided.

I found that when my boys grew up and moved away from home I missed them. Who knew? While I had told them I would appreciate hearing from them often the truth is that their idea of often and mine were incredibly different. I found myself missing them and wanting to hear from them more frequently. How did I fix this? My solution was to phone and leave a message, telling me that I need to hear them tell me how much they loved, adored and missed me and that when they had done this I wouldn’t call them for another week or so. Within a day or two I would get a call from a smiling boy (you can always hear the smile over the phone) and he would tell me just what I needed to hear. I do the same thing with my husband. If I am feeling a bit neglected, I simply ask him to tell me that he loves me, how fabulous he thinks I am and how lucky we are to be together. He will smile and repeat everything that I have asked him to say, what a great guy! I’m happy because I know he means it, he’s happy because he knows that he’s given me exactly what I needed at the moment. We’re both feeling happy and no one is feeling neglected or misunderstood.

My point here is that as nice as it would be for us to communicate through hints and clues, for many of us it simply is not all that effective. In this day of very busy lives, we often don’t  have the luxury of face to face communication. In the past we did have that luxury and so much of our communication was body language, hints and subtleties were much more easily understood. Since we now rely on phone calls, emails and quick little chats with one another, we need to be sure that we are easily understood. When we speak calmly, clearly and directly we are much more likely to have our needs and desires understood and that makes it much more likely they will be met.

Please clearly understand, I wish you a fabulous day,
Sandy

Strengths and Weaknesses

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

From the time we are little we are finding that we are really good at some things, and not so good at others. That’s normal and perfectly okay!

As we get a little older we start learning that the skills that come naturally and easily to us are usually the things that we are good at and they are called our strengths. We may struggle with other tasks or skills and these are generally called our weaknesses. It seems that from that time on we are told that we need to work on these weaknesses.

Fast forward to adulthood and the lives we lead. It seems that the emphasis is still on our weaknesses, seldom on our strengths. I would encourage you to not spend quite so much time working on the things that you struggle with, unless of course they are basic skills necessary for life.

Building on natural strengths, skills and talents. That’s where I would suggest that the energy be spent. For instance, perhaps you love writing, but hate working with numbers. Since you love to write a fascinating story it makes sense to build on this, research education and career options, from journalism to child book author, check it all out and see what appeals to you. Then run with it!

Now, I’m not saying that you should ignore all weaknesses. You may hate to work with numbers, but you still need to be proficient enough in basic math to double check you receipts, balance your checkbook, etc. The basics need to be in place to keep your life manageable. But after those basics are covered, I say work on your strengths.

When we embrace our natural talents, work becomes play. We come to love what we do and when we truly enjoy our work and are good at it, that’s when we are the most likely to make good money. Making good money gives us more options in the rest of our life. It goes on and on and on.

So, I suggest that we all work on our strengths, enjoy them, bask in the feeling of doing what we love and enjoy the sweet rewards that come along.

Wishing you a day spent discovering that your strengths and talents can also bring you great pleasure.

With warmth,
Sandy

Loyalty Leader

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Yesterday I attended a Chamber of Commerce meeting. The speaker was Ms. Debra Schmidt, owner of Loyalty Leader, Inc. Her talk was directed to businesses, owners and managers but everything she spoke about applies to us equally on a personal level.

Ms. Schmidt spoke about treating clients as valued people. Looking them in the eye when they speak and giving them your undivided attention while you are having your conversation. She talked about keeping your promises, something that most take very seriously in business. Unfortunately, sometimes when we are dealing with friends or family we don’t take our promises as seriously, thinking they will give us a pass. As a life coach I would suggest that you make your relationship with family and friends just as important.

Ms. Schmidt gave many good tips and suggestions in her hour talk. Recognize and appreciate your clients, be sure not to stereotype clients, remember to treat them as individuals. Be willing to admit mistakes and take steps to remedy those mistakes. Give sincere compliments to co-workers in front of others. Thank co-workers and clients alike, again, always with sincerity.

As you can see, while Ms. Schmidt was talking about good customer service and good workplace behavior, every one of these examples also applies to our personal lives. We know that pre-judging and stereotyping people gets us in big trouble, after all we’ve heard since we were small that it’s a huge mistake to judge a book by it’s cover and no two people are ever just alike so stereotyping is bound to be wrong. When we admit that we’ve made a mistake and take steps to correct it, not only do we feel better about ourselves, but those that are involved in the situation usually appreciate the honesty as well. Sincere compliments are wonderful! After all, who doesn’t like to hear that they are wonderful? I know I sure do appreciate hearing that I’ve done a great job on the gardens, or that my new red sneakers are fabulous. And here’s one of the best things about compliments, not only does the receiver feel fabulous but so does the person offering the compliment. And of course we all know that our mom’s told us to thank others for what they have done for us or given to us. Once again, mom was right. The person being thanked knows that you appreciate them, they feel good and are much more likely to do something else that’s nice for someone else or even for you again. And as a bonus, you feel terrific for putting that extra sparkle in their eye.

I’d like to suggest that anyone who would like to learn more about building customer loyalty visit Ms. Schmidt’s website www.TheLoyaltyLeader.com. And remember, what’s good for the customer is almost always good for our family and friends as well. Thank you Ms. Schmidt, for sharing with all of us.

For today, remember to treat your family and friends at least as good as your clients, I assure you that you will feel fabulous tonight as you brush your teeth and think about your day.

With warmth,
Sandy

Politics

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Well, we have jumped off of the deep end here in the United States. The election for our next president is in two (2) months. How exciting! I love politics and this year is historic on so many levels.

For the very first time we have an African-American man running for the office of president. We also have a woman running for the office of vice-president.

Now I know that there are many people who dislike this season for many reasons. The advertisements sometimes become incredibly negative, hinting at truths but not sharing all pertinent facts. But here is the exciting part. We have the opportunity to vote for and elect the pair that we feel will best lead our country for the next four (4) years. The speeches and debates are often televised and we have the opportunity to get to know our future leaders much more than was possible just a generation ago. I really like that!

This is our opportunity to coach ourselves. We can empower ourselves in so many ways. ourselves. Learn about the people running for office. Listen to speeches of both parties whenever possible, watch the debates and pay attention to not just the answers but also the body language of the participants. Many of us have already selected the pair we hope will win the election, but many others still have not made up their mind. I encourage you to discuss the issues with friends, especially those who have viewpoints that are generally different from yours. Keep an open mind and a fair and civil tongue; there will be many opportunities to share and learn from each other.

Election time is the perfect time to practice some of the skills you may have been learning. Empower yourself by educating yourself on the issues and where the candidates stand. Assert yourself by sharing and discussing your thoughts and opinions with others without being negative. Remember to listen carefully to what others are saying to you about their feelings and thoughts. You have the ability to keep these discussions positive. This is a time that is filled with important life lessons, we just have to pay attention and participate.

Enjoy this historic event, remember that you have the fabulous opportunity to voice your opinion this November, and it does matter.

Warmly,
Sandy