Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Living Your Values

I heard an interview recently on "Ontario This Morning" on CBC radio that really caught my attention. The show's host, Wei Chan, was interviewing a minor hockey league coach from Peterborough. During a game in November, the coach, Gary Walsh, pulled his team from a game after a player on the opposing team uttered a racial slur to a member of his team, who is black. When the player was not pulled from the game but instead returned to the ice after the incident, Coach Walsh's team decided not to continue the game and returned to the dressing room. As a result, Coach Walsh was given an indefinite suspension by the Ontario Minor Hockey League. The player and the coach from the opposing team also were suspended for 3 games.

During the interview, Ms. Chan asked Coach Walsh if the decision was a difficult one. After all, he knew that he would probably be suspended. Coach Walsh replied that no it wasn't. His team made their decision not to continue to play, and he supported that decision, because it was based on what they believed in. They knew that uttering racial slurs, whether delivered in the heat of hockey play or not, was wrong. When the player was not penalized for his actions, even after it was brought to the attention of his coach, Coach Walsh's team felt they could not, in good conscious, continue to play. They were there to support their team mate. They knew, in their hearts, that it was the right thing to do. For Coach Walsh, the decision was simple. He and his team were living by their values.

I was blown away by this interview for a couple of reasons. First of all, I was impressed with Coach Walsh. Here was a man who knew what was important to him - what he believe was right and just in this world - and was willing to live by those values even though he knew he would be punished for it. He was solid in his belief and felt no regret. And I was impressed that his team of young players - 16 and 17 year olds I believe - who were solid enough in their values to stand up for what they believed in. It is obvious that Coach Walsh had not just been instilling the values of good sportsmanship into his players, but also other important values as well - loyalty, integrity, strength, courage, equality and fairness. All of these values, to me, are lacking in sports today, where money, fame and "good television" seem to take precedence over good sportsmanship. And to have youth this age buck the trend to do what they did is amazing. I am encouraged to know that these youth will be tomorrow's leaders.

I try very hard to live by my values. They make the decisions I have to make every day a bit easier to make. However, I am not sure if I could have done what Coach Walsh and his team of minor hockey league players did. That showed great courage and strength. The lesson in this for me is that I still have a long way to go, but now I have a role model to look up to. Thank you, Gary Walsh, for that.

What are your values? Do you live your life by them? Coaching can help you to discover what your values are - what is really important to you - and help you to build your courage muscles to begin using them to guide your life. If you would like to grow your values muscles, give me a call. I'd love to show you how great a values-based life can be!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Remembrance Day

A friend on Facebook posted the most amazing video on Remembrance Day. It was a vignette of photos taken of one soldier's journey from Air Force Base Trenton to the chief coroner's office in Toronto along the Highway of Heroes. The soldier in question died in combat in Afghanistan. I've watched this video three times since it was posted and was moved to tears each time. And, on several occasions I sobbed. I shared this video with my other friends on Facebook because I felt it was worth sharing. Lest we forget.

One of the reasons it moved me so deeply is that it made me realize just how lucky I am to be a Canadian; to be born in a land where I am truly free. I am grateful that I live in a country where I am free to voice my opinions in public without fear of imprisonment and death. I am grateful that I can sleep at night without the sound of gunfire in the street and mortar shells falling nearby. I am grateful that I can fall in love with whomever I wish without fear of reprisal. I am grateful that I can work at a job I love without being forced into a career because it is good for the state. And I am grateful that I have access to free, world-class medical care no matter how long I have to wait. These are all things that other people in this world don't have. When I think of these things it helps to make my other problems seem small by comparison. These other problems are things I can deal with. Given the level of poverty, social injustice and civil unrest we have in this world, I'm just glad I'm lucky enough that the small things I have a tendency to worry about are problems! It means that I'm healthy, clothed, fed and housed- that my basic needs are met. It means that I'm free.

Yes, I'm very proud to be a Canadian. What are you grateful for? What does being a Canadian mean to you? I'd love to hear about it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What was missing from "The Secret"

Like many people, I read "The Secret" by Rhonda Bryne. After all, who wouldn't want to attract more of the good things into their life? But I always thought that something in its explanation of the law of attraction was missing. A tiny voice inside of me kept saying "It couldn't be that easy".

What I have discovered in the years since I read the book is that, yes, something very important was missing from the book and yes, it can be that easy. What was missing, you ask? I found that nowhere in the book did it mention that you have to firmly believe, totally and absolutely, that what you want to bring into your life will happen for the law to work. It is more than just being able to picture yourself in that great relationship with the mate of your dreams or spending money with great abandon or to ask the universe for it. It requires knowing with your heart and soul that it WILL happen and, perhaps more importantly, that you are worthy of it. Then, and only then, will you begin to attract what you want into your life.

Let me give you a personal example of what I mean. When I first decided to leave my last position and to go out on my own, I knew that I would need to find a part-time job to help me along, at least for the first year or so. I felt that the extra money, and people contact that a part-time job would provide would help make the transition a bit easier. My search was not easy, as previous blogs will tell you. After over 40 applications, I had received only two calls, and both of those jobs didn't work out. To say I was getting discouraged is an understatement. Then, one Saturday in late July, I saw a tiny ad in the paper. It was for a "mature, friendly individual" to work in a bird and garden store. And instead of sending in a resume, I was asked to call if I wanted to apply. I liked that, and it sounded interesting, so I called and spoke to the owner of the store. She told me a lot about the job and answered any questions I had. After I got off the phone, I knew that the job sounded just right for me...most of the women who work there are around my age and had been there for years (an indication to me that it was a good place to work) and I would be working 2-3 full days a week, again something that I had been hoping for. It just felt right somehow. I dropped in a resume the next day and got to meet the owner. Again, it felt right and I remember driving away from the store thinking "this job is mine". It is hard to describe but I just knew that that job was mine. To help matters along a bit, I also made up an affirmation, just to keep that definite feeling. I said my affirmation outloud every chance I got. And I got the job! In the three months since then I still love going to work there.

Call it confidence, self-assurance or fate, who knows, but I strongly believe that it was my strong belief that the job was perfect for me and would be mine that helped to attract it into my life. And this is just one example of this happening. I can tell you about others but I don't want to bore you. But each time I have felt this way about something, that "thing" has been attracted into my life.

Think back through your own life to a time when you felt absolutely sure that something was meant for you or that something would happen. It could have been a job, a new car, a dream vacation or a relationship to name just a few things. Did it happen? Chances are, it did. Holding this strong a belief not only sends very strong messages out into the universe but also shows that you are ready to receive what is sent back to you. Plus, you are also willing to "help" the process along by doing what needs to be done to make it a reality. The Law of Attraction is more than just asking for something and waiting for it to come; it requires some effort on our part. And that effort starts with faith.

I'll write more about how you can attract abundance and prosperity into your life over the next few blogs. See you again soon!

Monday, October 4, 2010

You're Making the Biggest Mistake of Your Life

"You're making the biggest mistake of your life?" I read this line in a book recently and it got me thinking about making mistakes and failure. I'm sure you can relate when I say that we have all made mistakes at one time or another in our lives. Some of them were fairly small (do you really remember what questions you answered incorrectly on that math test in grade 3?) and some of them have been huge (why did I fall in love with that guy anyway??? What was I THINKING?) but if you are like me, you survived them all. Or at least your body survived them, but how about your spirit?

We were taught as children that making mistakes is something bad. We were all encouraged to strive for perfection and punished for every red mark on a test or assignment. On the job, many of us have found that it is often easier to maintain the status quo instead of taking a risk and doing something different, because the threat of being reprimanded, receiving a negative performance review, or losing your job just isn't worth it. And the result is a lack of creativity and innovation in our lives, and a diminishing of our spirit.

There is another way of looking at mistakes. That is that each mistake isn't a failure of us to do something right, but is an opportunity to learn from each one and to grow as a result. Each mistake we make is a chance for us to learn something new about life and ourselves. If a relationship doesn't work, we learn what characteristics we like and don't like to see in others, and we learn what we can do next time to make our relationships better. If we try out a new idea on the job and it doesn't work, it is OK. We take a closer look at what we did, and make the changes that are necessary to make sure we don't get the same result the next time. With each mistake comes an increase in self-confidence and the urge to innovate - to create our own futures. Isn't this better than feeling guilty because you think you failed?

Looking back on my life I can think of several times I didn't do something because I was scared that it would be "the biggest mistake of my life". There have been a couple of people in my life who have told me that I am making a big mistake by leaving my job and starting a coaching business on my own. What is inferred in this is that if I fail - if my business doesn't work out - than I will have ruined my life...that my life will never recover. But I choose to look at it another way. What would my life be like if I DIDN't take that risk? As the key character, Samantha Sweeting, discovers in the book "The Undomestic Goddess":

"If I've learned one lesson from all that's happened to me, it's that there IS no such thing as the biggest mistake of your existence. There's no such thing as ruining your life. Life's a pretty resilient thing, it turns out."

My life will not end if things don't work out. In fact, my life will probably be richer just for having tried. But I prefer to think that of course I will succeed. What is to stop me? Only my thoughts and attitude can truly keep me from achieving what I want to achieve, and I will definitely make lots of mistakes along the way!

What have you been putting off doing in your life because you were scared that it would be "the biggest mistake of my life"? Do something today that will move you towards doing it, without the fear of making a mistake. Also, to help give you the motivation to move, watch the following video. I guarantee it will help!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tjYoKCBYag

Monday, September 20, 2010

Out of your Comfort Zone

Last week I attended my first London Chamber of Commerce networking event. I know that networking is a big part of owning a small business but I usually don't like to do it. The idea of going into a large room filled with people I don't know...and then having to actually go up to someone and make conversation, sends shivers down my spine. For an introvert like myself, it is one of my worst social nightmares! Talk about being out of my comfort zone.

So to even go to the event last week, I really had to push myself. Throughout the day I came up with hundreds of excuses to go home instead. But I went. I took a deep breath and walked into the room filled with people. And yes, I did go up to a few individuals and initiated a conversation. It took a lot of courage to take the first step but once I was there, it wasn't as bad as I expected. Most of the people I encountered were friendly, and I came home with some business cards and future contacts. But most of all, I came home with a newly boosted self-esteem. It felt good to know that I overcame my fear and accomplished a goal. Yes, it would have been easier to stay at home and watch TV, but I wouldn't have felt nearly as good at the end of the night.

Have you been wanting to do something but have been putting it off because it is way out of your comfort zone? Everyone does at one time or another. Here are some questions I ask myself and some additional things I do whenever I'm faced with this kind of situation:

1) "What am I afraid of?" and "What is the worst thing that can happen?" In my case I was scared of walking into the room and having absolutely no one talk to me. Or worse yet, approaching someone and having them just walk away. Whenever you hesitate about doing something it is usually due to fear. Identifying that fear makes it something you can now deal with.

2) "What harm would it do to me if the worst were to happen?" This question allows you to assess the impact the event would have on you and your life if the worst were to happen. For me the impact would be hurt, humiliation and a loss of self-esteem. It might be different for you.

3) "What is the probability that this will actually happen? and "What evidence do I have that it will happen?" When we are feeling fear, our minds automatically think that what we fear will definitely happen. But if we look closely at the situation and the evidence that exists, we often find that the chances of what we fear happening are low and that we have no real evidence to back up our fear. Asking these questions will help you to look at your fear, and the situation, in a more objective light.

4) "What can I do to handle the situation the best way I can?" Look at your resources, both internal and external, and put together an action plan of what you can do to minimize the risk and your fear. In my situation, I set a goal of talking to three people during the reception. I also decided that I would give it an hour. If I felt really uncomfortable or if I had not spoken to anyone within that time, I gave myself permission to leave without guilt. I also practised a few things I could say to people that I could use as introductions and to explain what I do. This helped to give me confidence that at least I wouldn't stumble over my words. Having this plan helped to lower my fear and to make the situation more managable. I went from thinking "There is no way I can do this" to "I can do this".

5) Arrange with a friend, coach or mentor to talk with them both before and after the event/situation. I find this step really helpful. It is helpful to be able to talk over your plans with someone and to make a commitment with that person to follow through. This person will also give you encouragement and support that will give you a boost and make it easier to work your plan. Then, after the situation is over, checking in with the person will give you the opportunity to review what happened, what worked and what didn't work, and to see what you can do in the future to make the next time easier.

6) Celebrate! Don't forget this step! You have just accomplished something that was very difficult for you to do. This is an achievement that is worth celebrating! So make plans to do something that is fun and makes you feel good. Get a massage or a manicure. Treat yourself to a meal out at your favourite restaurant. Personally, I went out and bought a book that I had been wanting to read. The possibilities are endless. Make this step part of your action plan and make sure that you do it. In this world where it is so easy to concentrate on our failures, it is important to acknowledge our successes.

If we live our entire lives just doing things that make us feel comfortable and safe, we miss out on so many experiences that could give us joy and happiness. Growth is never easy. It is often painful, but the results make it worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Truth in Relationships

A few weeks ago I was listening in on an interview with Mike Robbins, a writer, motivational speaker and coach from San Fransisco, CA. In the interview, Mike was talking about authenticity and how it affects people's lives and relationships. It was a great interview and there was one thing he said that really got me thinking. He made the comment that if you are in a relationship with someone and you are encountering difficulties, then one of you is lying. My first reaction was one of disbelief. Yes, sometimes people lie to one another but I could think of lots of other things that could adversely affect a relationship that didn't involve lying such as growing apart. However, when I thought more about it, I realized that I was only thinking of times when we lie to another person. What about those times when we lie to ourselves?

I can think of several times during my life when I have been in a relationship that has fallen apart. I remember one romantic relationship in particular that ended with a lot of heartache. We didn't lie to each other but I know that I did a lot of lying to myself. I lied about how I felt about him and him for me. I lied about the state of the relationship (everything was honky-dory, wasn't it?). And I lied most of all about what would happen to me if it ended. I was sure that my world would end. Now I can look back and thank the man I was involved with for ending it. It was an unhealthy relationship for both of us and I was lucky he could see that. I know that I couldn't. In my case, the lying took the form of denial - my inability to see how things really were. It was much easier to live in a rosy dreamworld that I had created. Anything to keep me from seeing the truth, and feeling the pain.

Can you think of a relationship you are in now that is encountering some problems? If you can, step back and see if you can take a closer look at your thoughts and actions. Are you lying in some way, shape or form, either to yourself or to the other person? In what way could your thoughts and actions be affecting the relationship? Being aware of how you could be lying in the relationship is the first step towards doing something about it. And the benefits of stronger and more honest relationships and greater happiness in life are definitely worth the effort.

Monday, August 30, 2010

What Makes a Good Leader?

A week ago, while watching a video on leadership, the presenter said something that I've been thinking about ever since. He said, "In order to be a good leader, you have to learn how to handle yourself before you can handle others." To me, this is profound. To me, the number one trait of a good leader is that he or she acts in a way that earns the trust and respect of the people they lead. The respect of your subordinates is not something that automatically comes with the job title of manager, director, vice president or CEO. It is something that must be earned and then maintained. Without respect, a leader cannot accomplish anything.

How does one gain the respect of others? I look back on my experiences with various managers I have worked for and with over the years and the one thing that pops out for me is that the people I respected the most were the people who treated me with respect. These managers hired me to do a job and trusted their judgment and my skills enough to let me do it. They didn't micromanage me, and second-guess my every move. Instead, they stood back and let me go, monitoring my successes, and my mistakes, along the way. They viewed mistakes as a way to advance learning so instead of reprimanding me for the goofs I made, they used each opportunity as a chance to coach me to greater success. And they acknowledged the achievements that I made.

My best managers were people who truly valued my opinions and ideas. They listened carefully to what I had to say and took my comments into consideration when making decisions. I didn't get my way all the time - far from it - but with the leaders that I admire, I always felt as though my thoughts and expertise were taken into account. I felt as though I was a valued part of the organization instead of just a cog in the wheel. I mattered.

Being respected isn't the same as being friends with those you lead. I think that there always has to be a fine line that shouldn't be crossed. You can be friendly with those you manage but you should, at the same time, maintain a certain distance so that you can view each situation, and each person, objectively. This doesn't mean that a leader can't care for the people they lead, but they must still remain objective.

Finally, I always knew that the great managers I worked with would stand up for me when the need arose. I remember one time, at the beginning of my working career, when I managed to make the VP of the organization I worked for very angry because I wouldn't let him use the copier I was using (I had 1000 copies of a 5 page newsletter to make and 4 hours of overtime on a finiky copier...need I say more?!) Although my manager at the time - a wonderful man named Walter Winborn - could have thrown me to the wolves, he didn't. Because I left him a note before I left, letting him know about the situation, he stood up for me. He was like that. And, in return for his support, I would have given him the shirt off my back if I could. He had earned my loyalty, not through demands but through treating me like a valued human being.

This week, reflect on what kind of leader you are. Would your employees stand up for you if the going got tough? What can you do this week to improve your relationship with the people you lead? The answer starts with you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy National Smile Week!

Yes, it is National Smile Week! In honour of this occasion, I looked up "smile" on Google and found this poem. I hope you enjoy it!

Smile Is A Sign Of......

A smile is a sign of love
A smile is a sign of care
A smile tells how much to others
They are important and also dear

A smile is a sign of cheer
A smile is a sign of trust
A smile shows how you can
Be happy even in hard crust

A smile is a sign of joy
A smile is a sign of hope
A smile teaches you how you can
Remove the clouds of mope

For nothing but only a smile
Takes away your pain and trial
And pick your trouble's pile
And let you smile, smile and smile.

Seema Chowdhury

I hope this week inspires lots of smiles for you. If not, smile anyway! Smiling is a great way to change your mood from negative to positive. After all, who can think depressing thoughts while smiling? And I hope you will make the effort to share your smile with others. I know that when people smile at me I can't help but feel good. Who knows, you may make a profound difference in someone's day - and life!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Owning Your Life

I was reading "The Inner Game of Stress" by Timothy Gallwey, last week and came across a statement that really blew my socks off. It was:

"You have the rights and responsibilities of ownership of something very incredible - a unique human body and a unique human life."

Not that profound on first reading, right? But give it some thought. If you are anything like me, you often take your life for granted. Sometimes it just feels like life is something that happens to you - something over which you have no control. Other people seem to make all the decisions and our lot in life is just to react and roll with the punches. But reading this statement caused a shift in my perspective. All of a sudden I realized that yes, I do own my life. No one else can live it but me. I have CHOICES in life - what I do, where I go, where I live, who I spend time with. And the choices I make are what impact my life.

Sometimes I do wish there was someone else who could make my decisions for me. It can get tiresome after awhile. Even just to have someone else who can tell me what to make for dinner! But, when I think about it some more, I realize that every time I let someone else make a decision for me, I am giving them control of my life. And then it is no longer my life, but theirs. I lose a little of my independence, and a little of myself too. It is like driving a car. If you hand over the keys and let someone else take the wheel, you have made the choice to go where they want to take you. I have discovered that I like being in the driver's seat. As the statement says, I have responsibility for my unique human life. My choices may not always be right, but at least they are my choices!

Have you let other people "drive" your life or are you at the wheel? Do the choices you make reflect who you are and what you want? If not, maybe it is time to consider taking control of your own unique life. It can be a thrilling joy ride!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thoughts

It has been an interesting couple of months since I have been out on my own. In that time I have gotten to know some great people, learned to take direction from myself (my boss is so tough!), and overcome some long-standing fears. I have also encountered some challenges with my house that were not entirely planned for. For those of you who don't know, or who have never been to my home, it is a small bungalow that was built in 1950...which makes it 60 years old. And, unfortunately, it has chosen now to show its age. The latest is that I may have to get my kitchen drain pipes replaced. My water purifier started to leak onto my counter...but hey, I turned it off and that solved the problem. I just drink bottled water for now. However, now my dishwasher, which uses the same drain, is leaking and I have a feeling that my house is exerting its authority and saying "repair me". I'm almost scared to think of the cost, but plumber's bills are a subject for another blog!

So you are probably asking yourself, "Is she just ranting or is there a point to all this?" Well, there is a point. I've related my tales of woe to several of my friends and some of them have asked me an interesting question - What are you thinking that is bringing this to you? At first I took great exception to this question...how dare they say that I was wishing bad things to happen! But, the more I thought about it, the more it began to make sense. I truly believe that what you are thinking today will be your future. In other words, the thoughts that you send out into the universe will come back to you. So, if I am thinking about plumbing problems, that is what will happen. It is like telling the universe, "this is what I want" and it does its best to deliver! It also works is you think about things that you don't want. If you are thinking them, they will come back to you. I remember my grandmother telling me, "Be careful for what you ask for. You just may get it!" Hate to admit it but she was right!

So my challenge for you this week is to take a close look at what you are asking for, both verbally and in your head. Are you asking for what you want or what you want to happen, or are you focusing on what you DON'T want? If it is what you don't want, become clear on what you want and ask for it. Then sit back and see what happens.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Walk Around the Block

Since it was a bit cooler this morning I decided to take my daily walk around the block a bit earlier than usual. I also made a conscious decision to leave my MP3 player behind. Since there were things I wanted to think about, my walk seemed the best time to do it. However, I honestly didn't get much time to think! Who knew that a morning walk could be so busy! During it I:

* Met dogs and their walkers I have never met before. What a nice bunch of people!
* Discovered that walking under trees after a rain can be risky business...unless you need a shower!
* Also discovered that the sunlight looks really beautiful when it shines through the showers coming off the trees
* Saw a robin chase a squirrel across the road and up a tree. Who knew robins could be so aggressive? It was my laugh for the morning!
* Luxuriated on the feeling of the sun warming my arms. I have missed this the last few days as I cocooned inside

My morning walk made me realize all the things that I've been missing the last few weeks as I've been hurrying from one thing to another. It also made me grateful just to be alive on such a beautiful day.

My challenge for you is to get out and enjoy today. Leave your MP3 player at home and go walk around your neighbourhood. Discover, like I did, what makes it unique and special.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Laughter IS the Best Medicine

I've been having fun the last couple of weeks watching the M*A*S*H TV series on DVD. I had forgotten how funny the episodes could be and the acting is first rate. I've really been enjoying it. One episode in particular, though, stuck with me. In this episode, the army psychiatrist, Sydney Friedman, was visiting the 4077th for a "vacation". The entire piece centred around a letter he was writing to his friend, Sigmund Freud, about the people at the medical unit. One comment he made really struck a cord with me. He commented that the staff at the 4077th dealt with the traumas of what was everyday life for them - wounded soldiers, blood, death, and boredom - by laughing. Through it all, they never lost their sense of humour or their sense of fun. Gurney races, practical jokes, funny comments...it was their way of laughing in the face of crisis.

I don't know about you but I find that when I am stressed, one of the first things to go is my sense of humour (I only wish it was my appetite!) It is hard to laugh when you are worried. I also spent nine years working in a cancer centre, and it was always interesting to see the different reactions of the patients when there was laughter echoing through the building. Some people thought it was a sign of disrespect that people could laugh or joke when people were so ill. Others joined right in. Studies have shown that laughter is a wonderful way to alleviate stress. It gives your internal organs a massage and encourages positive emotions and thoughts...and hope. It is hard to worry when you are laughing!

So take time to have a good laugh today. Watch a funny movie. Get together with friends. Read the comics in the newspaper. Or do like I have been doing and go out to rent M*A*S*H on DVD...only don't rent season 10...I haven't seen that one yet!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thinking of Solutions Instead of Problems

Every week I receive an email newsletter from Cheryl Richardson. For those of you who have watched the Oprah show, Cheryl is a coach who has appeared on the show many times over the past few years. This week's newsletter talked about focusing on solutions instead of problems and it really rang a bell for me.

This past weekend I decided it was time to clean out my storeroom in the basement. Most of my friends who have been in my home will say that my entire basement is a storeroom and, right now, they would be right...but that is the topic for another blog! Anyway, I took everything out of the room and lifted the foam tiles that covered the floor and what did I find but mould. This is not a new phenomenon in my house but a recurring problem and I shouldn't have been surprised. But I'm an eternal optimist and was hoping that all I would find would be nice, clean concrete! After washing the floor with bleach and water and setting a fan in the room to promote drying, I then spent the next few hours thinking "More mould". After dinner, I got tired of being in a bad mood and decided to hit the internet to see if there was anything I can do short of blowing my house up (not the best solution!) I found several ideas and the names of several companies that can help me get rid of any more mould that I find. I immediately felt my mood lifting and I started to have hope that the future will look better, mould-wise.

As Cheryl points out in her newsletter, "focusing on the problem, over and over again, just contributes to the energy going in that direction - toward the problem." However, if you focus on solutions to the problem, you are replacing negative thought with positive thought which leads to:

*Having more energy to do well in the world
*Thinking better thoughts
*Increasing our level of personal power
*Generating smart ideas
*Beginning to see good everywhere
*Feeling hopeful and empowered

Do you have a problem that you have been spending too much time focusing on? Try focusing on finding solutions to the problem and see what happens. It will lead to your having a much happier day!

*Cheryl Richardson't newsletter can be viewed by going to:
http://campaign.constantcontact.com/render?v=0010iyGwPSeYAF_oGBd55dh5naEn5gD9T2YiczmGqQsiu9TxizmfF4kQBt6InUxScM8wxJK_XSfkVx9v6B6i5uSoyPG5aixVGMquk9TaOtWaBgtKHv7DWIlVg%3D%3D

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Follow Your Heart

A short time ago I was faced with a very big decision - whether to stay in the job I had been in for nine years or whether to leave it and start my own business. I'm normally very conservative as far as risk-taking goes, especially when it comes to financial matters. But I was in a situation where I was under a lot of stress and I was yearning for a new challenge. It was almost like having World War II going on in my mind...what to do?? One evening, after a long and very trying day at work, I called on of my friends to discuss the whole situation yet again (I have some very understanding friends!) After telling her my woes, she said something to me that really got me thinking. What she said was, "Cath, you have already made your decision. You just need time for your head to catch up."

Of course she was right. In my heart of hearts I had already made my decision to leave. My mind, which is always thinking rationally and is often plagued with the "what ifs", was still trying to figure out ways to make my work situation work. I just needed time for my rational brain to come to the same conclusion as my heart. After 2 days of just being still, they finally came to an agreement and I handed in my resignation...and haven't looked back.

If you are facing a tough decision in your life, take some time to just be still and listen to what your heart and your body is trying to tell you. Has your decision already been made for you? If it has, then give your mind as much time as it needs to "catch up" and come to the same conclusion. Then act on it. It may turn out to be one of the most difficult things you have ever done, but, in my experience anyway, I've never regretted it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Favourite Things

A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a joke about the differences between dogs and cats. In the joke, everything the dog did during the day was his "favourite thing" whether it was eating, sleeping on the bed or taking a car ride. On the other hand, the cat was convinced that everything that came his way was part of a plot by his "captors" to drive him insane. Now, if you have had a cat or a dog, this joke is funny because it is very true. Cats and dogs are very different. But the joke also got me thinking. How many times is my way of thinking like a dog, where everything I do and everything that happens is my "favourite thing", and how many times is it more like a cat, where everything is a plot to drive me insane? I wish I could say that I'm totally like the dog, but, like most people, I can't. My way I think depends on a lot of things - my mood, the weather (I always am more positive when it is sunny out!) and how well I slept among them. But the joke really made me become more aware of how I'm thinking and I'm trying to be more like a dog than a cat. So what are you, a dog or a cat?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Are You Asking Yourself the Right Questions?

At church yesterday the minister asked all of us to participate in a short exercise. First we all closed our eyes and then she asked us to think about the question, "What is wrong with me?" How did this make us feel? Then, after getting up and shaking to dispel that experience, she asked us to close our eyes again and posed another question for us to think about, "What is right with me?" How did this make us feel? During the first part of the exercise, I know I felt very let down and sad - all the things that I would like to improve about myself ran through my mind in quick succession. Then, during the second part of the exercise, I experienced a mind shift. I began to think about the things that I do well and my spirits lifted. I found myself smiling! What a difference!

What are the "wrong questions" we often ask ourselves? These are questions like "How come ________ happened?", "who is to blame for this?", "can I do this?" and "why am I only _______ (you fill in the blank)?" All of these questions focus on our past and assign blame. They drain our energy and make us feel bad about ourselves and the situation. Asking the "right questions", though, has the opposite effect. They uplift us and make us feel good about ourselves and others. These are questions like "How can we solve this problem/fix this situation?", "how can I do this?" and "wow, I'm _______! How can I improve to become even better?" All of these questions are future oriented and are focused on finding solutions, not assigning blame.

What type of questions are you asking yourself? Over the next week, if you hear that pesky voice inside your head ask a "wrong question", pay attention to how it makes you feel. Then change it to a more positive one; one that helps you to look to the future. Bask in how good it makes you feel. It can become addictive!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Smiles

I've found myself visiting a number of different stores and other businesses over the past few days. I've always been fascinated with how businesses operate and I found myself checking out each store - how it is set up, what the staff are like, and things like that. The big thing that I noticed is what a difference a smile makes. Whenever I was greeted with a smile by a staff member, I automatically felt better about the store. It became a friendlier place. I felt as though my business was important to them - that I was important to them. And, as a result, I was more apt to stay in the store and browse. After I left each store, I also started paying more attention to how many people I saw smiling. I am sorry to say, I didn't see many. I remember someone telling me once that a smile is a visual hug. It makes us feel good about others and about ourselves. It tells people that they are important to you and that you are glad to be in their company. And have you ever found that when you smile, it is really difficult to think negative thoughts! It is a great cure for the blues. So the next time you walk down the street, think about smiling at the people that you pass. You never know, you may make someone's day!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Believing in Yourself

Once a week I "meet" with a coach friend on the phone. We share business tips, chat about our successes and our challenges, and practice our coaching skills by helping eachother. The last time we talked I found myself telling her about my week. It had been a challenging one...you know, one of those weeks that you really wish you could just forget. I had received some disappointing news and I knew I was feeling hurt by it. But I was feeling something else too, and I just couldn't put my finger on it. After carefully listening to me talk for a number of minutes, our conversation went something like this:

Friend: "Cathy, can you personalize what you just said?"
Cathy, rather mystified: "What do you mean by 'personalize' it?"
Friend: "Over the last few minutes I've heard you say a number of times, 'when my business succeeds'. How about when YOU succeed?"

Receiving the disappointing news that week had made me feel a bit blue, and, as a result, I began to doubt my abilities to succeed. We all go through this from time to time. For me, it was a momentary lapse. I have found through experience that if I wait awhile, my mood will change and my thoughts will become more positive. It did get me thinking more about success though and what it means to me - and how we verbalize it to others. Often by listening to what we say, or by having a friend truly listen, we can learn things about ourselves that we aren't aware of. Over the next few days try paying attention to what you say. Listen to what pronouns you use. Like me, you may learn something about yourself that may prove to be valuable.