Do you think “Not good enough”? and “I need to fix my flaws”?

Does your barbell have “not good enough’ on one end, and ‘fix my flaws’ on the other?

There’s body building. Then there’s this…

Sometimes we get caught up with forcing ourselves to get stronger in weak areas. Noble and worthwhile ambitions. But you will never be passionate here, and it won’t hold your focus. By investing in your strengths, this can be a powerful source for success.

It must be the educator and designer in me, but I love creating learning tools. Here is an easy three step process to concentrate on your most powerful areas. You can use this knowledge to elevate your success.

 

A little homework:

 

  1. Grab yourself an iced tea, relax in your lawn chair in the back yard and make a list. Take stock of your strengths. Answer these questions:
  • “In what areas of life do I feel naturally strong?”
  • “What am I already good at?”
  • “Given that this is a strength, what’s the next level of development with that?”

 

  1. Next, make a list of two to three goals, and the resources that are available to you right now.

 

  1. Then, weave these two lists together, do this in narrative form. This is positively reinforcing what you already have, instead of focusing on what you don’t have, or are striving to get.

 

Sarah’s Example:

Strengths:

  • I make rapid, easy connections with people
  • I have a large network
  • I have infectious positivity
  • I have great communication skills

 

Goals                                                                        

  1. Develop a part time marketing biz;

     With an eye toward taking it full time

  1. Develop a wider network, outside local area
  2. Health goals – start a regular work out routine

Resources

  1. Connections within Professional Business Community
  2. Use national platform I’m already a part of
  3. Connect within network with a health goal partner or workout buddy

 

Her Narrative

I view my strengths as being my soft skills – because I genuinely like people and am an extrovert, I make rapid, easy connections. Because of this, I have a large network. I have been blessed with infectious positivity, and tend to view the world as a friendly place.

 

Because my goal is to develop a part time marketing business, I will need to use my large network of people to begin getting the word out and start creating clients. I know I’ll have to throw the net wider if I’m going to make it a full time business. I realize now I could take on a leadership role with the state chapter of the professional business community that I am now a member of locally. My connections there will be great resources.

 

I realize now that my strengths as a people person might help with my health goals too. I will commit to connect with people who can support me with diet and regular exercise. A personal trainer or workout buddy?

 

P.S.  If you are curious about what your strengths might be, the University of Pennsylvania has a survey you can take. You’ll need to register. ( Look for QUESTIONNAIRES. They offer many surveys, the strengths survey is called VIA Survey of Character Strengths. There is also a shorter version available, Brief Strengths test.) https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/

Onward and Upward!

 

 

 

 

RE-INVENTORS ON THE RISE

 I’m drawn to stories of re-invention. Imaginative people who have either turned a bad situation that was thrust upon them into a win, or have intentionally redrawn their life maps. People with audacity and nerve.

I love meeting and talking to courageous people, with adventurous spirits. This weeks article is part two in an ongoing series of interviews seeking to capture these inspiring stories …….. I have known Heather Suffron for over ten years. In 2016 she became a client of mine, as she began to seek answers to, “What is my next adventure?” Here is a little bit of her story. She is a fabulous writer, so our interview took a written shape. I sent her my questions, and she sat with them, reflecting and then sending her response back to me.

DC: What prompted the re-invention?

Heather: “Well, according to the lovely Debbie Campbell, I’ve had two re-inventions (that she knows about) – one when I quit my job and packed myself off to volunteer overseas and one right now, as I begin a new chapter by getting certified to teach English as a foreign language and see where that takes me.

I guess I would not characterize them as re-inventions as much as new dimensions (or directions) just waiting to be explored and allowing those passions to shine for a while.

1 – Identifying what prompted the first adventure is a long story (and can found in my yet-to-be- published book!), but it was a combination of factors: both of my grandparents passed away, my parents retired and moved to their “cabin in the woods,” and I had a decent job, but not one that I was passionate about or considered a career. I was gifted a small inheritance from my grandparents’ estate, and I didn’t want to just stay put and watch life float past. I wanted to see the world, but I didn’t want to simply be a tourist. I also wanted to make a positive impact on the places I visited. I came up with the concept of combining my desire to travel the world while volunteering along the way long before I got on the plane and did so, but the idea sang in my heart, and it didn’t stop, so when the closest people in my life were called away, it was time for me to follow this dream.

2 – The current prompt is both practical and idealistic (an unlikely possibility, I’ll admit) in nature. I’ve been running my own pet care business for the past 13-14 years, and it has been my sole source of income since returning from my overseas adventure 3.5 years ago. I appreciate so many things about it: the flexibility and autonomy; the variations in locations, situations, responsibilities, and pets; my wonderful clients; and of course, the awesome pets. However, it was never my intention for that to serve as my career, and while I’ve been blessed with a wonderful word-of-mouth referral system, my schedule – and therefore, my income – has been inconsistent (some months I’m booked stem to stern, while other months are slim-pickings, so to speak), and I have to cover all expenses (health care, social security, taxes, supplies, gas, etc.). Furthermore, although I adore the pets I care for, it isn’t the most intellectually stimulating job in the world, so I find that it is time for a new challenge and a new adventure. What is so great about this one is that I’m really excited about pursuing it! I don’t think the importance of education can be emphasized enough, and in today’s world, it is especially beneficial to know English. Top that off with my love of adventure and experiencing new places, and the fit resonated loudly in the rare quiet moments. The increasing urgency to find something more self- sufficient that would also allow me to save money and the possibility of fulfilling career-oriented desires for this non-conventional gal propelled me in this direction.

* I think the overriding drive in both cases was the sense of necessity, for lack of a better word – like if I didn’t pursue this dream, I would regret it and always wish that I had. There is a great quote (often attributed to Anaïs Nin, but research indicates it was most likely from Elizabeth Appell) that hits this at its core: “And then the day came when the risk to remain tight, in a bud, became more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Yes, there are challenges, and growing pains and scary moments, but that is part of learning and growing and becoming more of who you are capable of being, and it is so worth it!

DC: How did you go about it?

HS: 1 – “There was a ton of research, logistics, decisions, and preparations for my one woman’s journey to save the world (again, see forthcoming memoir) : ). I had to decide where and when I wanted to go, what kind of volunteer work I wanted to do, and which organizations fit my criteria (socially- responsible, locally-driven, environmentally-oriented, etc.). I had to raise some money to subsidize my expenses, obtain the proper visas and research clearances, get the required vaccinations, shop for the proper clothing and gear, purchase my transportation tickets, formulate my itinerary, sort out my finances and credit cards while traveling, fill an EpiPen prescription… You get the picture. There was a lot involved in making this happen, but although there were so many plates spinning, it hostly never really felt like work, because I knew it was serving the bigger picture of fulfilling my dream.

2 – I’ve entertained the idea of teaching English as a foreign language for quite a while, and it kept resurfacing over the years. When it became clear that sticking sole to pet care was not going to be sustainable for much longer, I returned once again to this possibility. I did not want to settle for any job just to have a job (like a place-holder), and some of my work with Debbie highlighted this frustration and certainty. I wanted to be truly excited about the path I chose to take, and ESL, by virtue of its focus on education and helping others, as well as the possibility of travel and adventure resonated with me. I wanted to get certified to teach ESL so that I would have that important credential and feel prepared with knowledge and tools at my disposal to be an excellent teacher for my students, and I wanted to go through a school with a reputation for graduating promising teachers who found good jobs quickly. There are plenty of fly-by-night certification programs, but I did not want to take a certification course and be let loose on the job market only to find out that my program lacked certain credentials or respect in the community, so I did a lot of research and found a third- party source for reviews of former students, as well. The application and interview process was a titch more difficult than and thorough than I expected, but I wasn’t deterred, and I like to think that that’s a good sign that I’m on the right path!

DC: Challenges/hardest part

HS: 1 – “There were lots of hard parts. See above, because all of the work that went into taking my overseas adventure was challenging, but the great thing about finding that path and heeding that call is that the work (even when it isn’t glamorous or easy) doesn’t really feel like work. It’s all part of the process of realizing your goal or dream. There were plenty of obstacles, but if you know in your heart that you’re doing the right thing, those road blocks won’t matter.

The biggest challenge for me with this trip was easily my fear of flying. It’s not simply that I don’t like to fly. It’s that I get seriously anxious and have a full-on panic attack from time to time. Sometimes even just thinking about getting on a plane and flying is enough for my body to start responding physiologically with a racing heartbeat and sense of claustrophobia. So for me to undertake a trip that involved multiple plane rides was downright terrifying to me, but I would never have forgiven myself if I let my fear stop me from doing what I really knew I needed to do. So I got a few referrals, and I went to see a couple therapists for the first time in my life. Apparently, there is a therapy called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) that is extremely successful for people with similar phobias. Unfortunately, there was not enough time for me to receive the proper protocol of treatments, so that left us with other strategies in the cognitive behavioral discipline, and they left me with enough knowledge, insight, and tools that I was able to manage my symptoms enough to get from here to there and back again.

2 – I’m not quite sure what the hardest part will be with this new adventure, though I will say that the Pre-Course Task was challenging in and of itself! I was a decent student, but I’ve been out of academia for a while, so I assume returning to that kind of discipline will present its own challenges, and I’m introverted by nature and prefer to get know people naturally over time and without having the spotlight on me, so the thought of standing in front of a classroom of students while being evaluated by fellow trainees and instructors is WAY outside of my comfort zone. But again, I cannot let that fear stop me from pursuing something so important to me.

DC: What did you learn from the experience?

HS: 1 – Gosh… That’s a broad question, because of course, I learned a ton – everything from specifics, like the operation of a hydrophone and the kinds of vegetation that grow in the tundra and techniques for de-escalating anxiety and where the train stations are located in Birmingham, England to intangibles, like if I put my mind to something, I can accomplish it and what I would do similarly and differently when I go on my next overseas volunteer adventure.

2 – It’s a little early to say at this point, and I’m sure many lessons are chomping at the bit to reveal themselves. So far, though, I’ve learned how much I’ve forgotten about the English grammar rules I learned in 7th grade! I’ve also learned that this definitely feels like the right path for me at this time.

DC: What are you most proud of?

HS 1 – “I’m most proud of actually doing it. It wasn’t easy. A lot of effort and time and resources went into it, and anytime you travel – especially internationally and alone – there is uncertainty and risk involved. But I did it. I researched my options. I created my own criteria. I contacted the organizations. I planned the itinerary. I scheduled my appointments and shopped for the things I’d need and set up my blog and raised the additional funds and submitted the applications and got on that plane and found my way from destination to destination and had an amazing time along the way!

2 – Early stages yet, so I’m most proud of getting accepted to the program and completing the 50-task workbook ahead of time. Lots more ahead of me, so stay tuned! : )”

DC: Any advice for others contemplating re-invention

HS: “Again, I really don’t look at it as a reinvention, but simply different aspects of who I am. I see it as learning more about myself by listening to my inner voice and pursuing those dreams that might otherwise be silenced.

I would say: Go for it! There are things I’d do differently in the future, but I’m so glad I took that leap, and it has made me more confident about taking further leaps and embracing new adventures. Be true to yourself by honoring your dreams and goals. You will make mistakes, and it may not turn out the way you expect, but that is also part of the joy of the journey. I don’t think enough people try something new because they are afraid, and they come up with a million excuses not to follow their own dream, and that is what is heartbreaking to me – not that someone doesn’t accomplish what they hope to do, but that they might not even try. They end up being their own worst obstacle. Get out of the way, and embrace your own adventure! And speak to Debbie. She will help you find your path!”

What Happens in the Space Between Yes and No

Stories: True or False?

Every single person on this planet, interprets the world from their own learned perspective. Actual circumstances are far less important than how you interpret them. Some researchers believe that external events are responsible for as little as 10 percent of our feelings and well being. It is our internal, emotional codebook that informs our thinking and actions. This is why ‘Re-framing’ is so important in coaching. The stories we tell ourselves are what influence our mood and behavior.

So, what does this mean for you. Maybe a reference point?

Actual circumstances are fall less important than what you believe about them.

Janet was a middle aged woman. She had a very interesting life. In addition to being a wife and Mom, she was an amazing gardener. She was having fun. For awhile now she had been experimenting with making delicious chutneys, jams and homemade ketchup with her garden produce, with several more recipes she was still tinkering with. Last summer she began selling her jars at the Farmer’s Market. They were a hit! So much so, that Janet had been approached by Mark, a local entrepreneur who wanted to help Janet sell her products in regional specialty markets. Janet’s next move? She withdrew from the Farmer’s Market and quit selling. But after making this decision she got depressed. She blamed Mark.

As you can guess, Janet changed course because of the invitation to grow her business. Janet had not thought of herself as a business, until Mark identified her as such. In her mind, having your own business meant being overwhelmed, neglecting your family and constant financial headaches. The opposite of fun. This was the anecdotal evidence she had gathered and kept as truth. And she did not want that!

And why did she get depressed? She really loved developing recipes, sharing her products, growing customer relationships and making money. Her sadness was mourning the loss of this. And to her way of thinking, Mark had brought that about.

If Janet decided to try again, and tested her assumptions, she could reframe the story she told herself. The dialogue might go something like this.

Is it really true that I HAVE to be overwhelmed? Or could I do business differently?
Is it necessary for me to neglect my family? Or are there ways to integrate my family life into my business life?
Do I have to accept as gospel that turning my hobby into a business will be constant financial headaches? Or could I have a balanced strategic plan.

If you feel yourself stalling, circling or avoiding, check in with these questions:

  • What is the story I am telling myself about this?
  • Is this story true?
  • What is the ‘Re-frame’?

Are You Holding Back?

You’re successful. You’ve worked hard, been rewarded for your hard work, met challenges and sought out greater opportunities. And then, some new ‘thing’ just rises up and stumps you.

Sunshine was spilling through the window, but Sarah ‘s mood was perplexed. She was an ambitious professional. Hardworking. With many successes to testify to this hard work. But today, her normally positive attitude was hard to sustain.  She had set some new goals for herself, but just couldn’t get excited about them.

As we talked about her new plans, it became clear that she was holding something back. A part of her wasn’t ‘all in’ and she didn’t know why.

After some deeper conversations, where I probed and asked lots of questions, Sarah began to realize that there was some icky unfinished business related to what she was trying to do. As we talked, she began to understand that emotions around events in the past (which she thought were in the past) were interfering with her passion to fully embrace what she was trying to do in the present. 

Together, we developed some homework assignments, aimed at examining fully what was going on. Greater understanding leads to empowered action. Released from the entangled morass of undealt with emotions, she felt renewed energy. And in our next coaching session, Sarah saw a way to make something positive from it, to clear away the unfinished business. Funny how this happens, but she felt excited about what she wanted to do right now.

If you feel like you’re holding back, ask yourself, “What is interfering with my enthusiasm for what I want?” It’s a great question to get you started.


 

He actually thought worry was productive

As I sat across the cafe table from Mark, I could see anxiety lines on his forehead. I noticed he had his coffee cup in a death grip, when he began catching me up on the last two weeks of progress toward his goal of starting a business. From my side of the table, it sounded like he was right on track. We had made a checklist, and he was right on target with that. He had plenty of financial reserves to provide a nice cushion. What could be wrong?

From Mark’s perspective, his worry was productive. He kept painting ‘what if’ scenarios. I quickly saw that he had shifted his focus from ‘enthusiastic anticipation’ to ‘what might go wrong’. Watching the circling drain, he was sure things were going to go wrong, and then, his plans would be down the toilet. He was absorbed in trying to prevent trouble, when there was no evidence of trouble. It was all about his focus.

Been here? Energetically moving toward what you want ( a new goal, a loving relationship, a new venture, a healthy lifestyle program) You’re diligently carrying on, when, it all begins to look like a nightmare. Where did all the good feelings go? The excitement? Like Mark, worry, doom and gloom move in to threaten your world? And you stop. How do you move through sluggish pea soup to get back to your original intention?

What happened to Mark is called “Failure Impact Predictions”, and when that happens, stress skyrockets. Mark’s mind shifted from happy to wary, as a method of protecting himself from disappointment. (He was unaware of this pattern).  But at what cost!

What I did with Mark, and what you can do when this happens to you, is to shift your focus. To do that, ask yourself these questions (and write down the answers) :

  1. Remind yourself about what progress you HAVE made.
  2. What kind of energy do you have for this goal? What would increase the energy?
  3. What resources can you tap into to move ahead?
  4. Who could help you with this goal
  5. Accomplishing the new goal will bring change. How can you support this change?

Awareness, and reconnecting to his goal made a difference in Mark’s outlook. His fingers relaxed around that coffee cup. The sparkle came back into his eyes. Relief!

What Can a Fresh Box of Crayons Tell You?

Remember how the sight of a fresh box of crayons in September signaled the excitement of a new school year?  The glimmer cool of a newly minted notebook? A new backpack stocked with school supplies? Did they represent renewed purpose after a hot summer? Knowing wonder — new classes, new friends, and the thrill of diving into a new school year?


Seeing the yellow bus on the road and the first glimpse of gold colored leaves reminded me of the school year thrill. The promise of widening horizons, learning
new concepts and tackling absorbing projects  (yes I was a nerdy kid) — all part of the autumn experience.
Yet, it didn’t end with graduation. We’ve been learning all along. What’s the next thing you want to explore?

 


That yellow bus inspired me to design a “Back to School”program. Why should kids have all the fun?!! I love offering freebies — so I came up with a 14 day program that is the equivalent of your own backpack full of new school supplies.

This program will help you:

  • Start a new project or determine a new direction.

When you sign up you’ll get:

  1. Fun and insightful exercises

  2. Weekly inspirational e-mails

  3. Two telephone coaching sessions

  4. With the bonus of my “Speed Bumps: What’s Slowing You Down” assessment

All this only if you sign up by October 1. There are only 10 spots available, so don’t wait to get started! Sign up here

 


Burnell was our school bus driver. I loved school, but it was so hard to get out to the bus on time. We lived in the country on a farm. With seven of us getting ready in the morning, from senior on down to a first grader, mornings were a race. Mom helped us find shoes, pestered us to sit down to eat a hot breakfast (she insisted that we had to eat something hot for breakfast), signed permission slips and yelled up the stairs that it was time. to. GO. Still, we didn’t all make it out there on time. So we had this agreement. Who ever was ready first would begin walking out as the bus approached. Then the next would walk out there. Then the next. So it was a long parade of McNeilly kids. Burnell would stretch the bus door open, wait patiently, laugh at us and always make some wisecrack.
I loved school.

Two Faced

Masses of Lego pieces were piled high. My little Florida sweetheart was intent on choosing just the right part to match the fantastic machine he would engineer. Lego’s are the perfect toy, they connect the maker with zillions of possibilities. This led me to thinking about connections……….

Screenshot 2016-01-06 17.45.56

 

January. Named for the Roman god Janus — the god of the doorway. Janus has two faces, one facing backwards and one facing forwards. This month is a time of transitions. As we flow into a new year, new possibilities, we pass over a threshold between past, present and future. Whether you commit to New Year’s resolutions, embrace evolutions or plant your flag in a personal revolution, now is the time to step through the door way and imagine what could be possible. How? Connect.Screenshot 2016-01-06 17.51.04

Connect
To yourself — Carve out one hour, and re-focus. If you’re like me, November/December was full of distracting activities. Take 60 minutes, and spend that in reflection. What were your accomplishments last year? What was left undone? Then…

Connect to your intentions for 2016 — how do you want to EVOLVE this year?

Next, how does that connect to your life — how can you plug-in your intentions? Integrate them into your everyday activities?

Clear intentions are good, but you must connect them to action — What small steps make sense to begin with?

Importantly, connect to others — gather your board of support. Evolution has greater success when shared with trusted people.

And then, stay connected – by frequently revisiting your big picture intentions.

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The Secret Behind Every Decision

“I think I’m depressed” Tom (not his real name) said quietly over his coffee cup. Indeed, he looked sad. I urged him to tell me what was going on. As the story unfolded, Tom said that he was having trouble feeling good about his decisions. He blamed poor decision-making on his lack of a big bank account and a more prestigious career. His father, mother and sister were all very accomplished people. He was sure there was something wrong with him, that he couldn’t do the same.

The Secret Behind Every Decision

Tom’s story included the fact that he was a good Dad to two daughters. His marriage had broken up when the girls were young. From the tenor of his story, I had a feeling that Tom had not made poor decisions. But that his values shaped his behavior and choices, values he wasn’t aware of. I knew that if I could help Tom discover what values drove his past decisions, he would feel a lot better about himself, and that would inform all future decisions.

Values are the principles that you live your life by. Too often, we are unable to identify what is really important for us. We don’t live our lives in alignment with our values, and then wonder why we feel unbalanced or things aren’t working. To honor your values means to create and live your life in such a way that there is nothing in the way of living them. This leads to a life lived with integrity.

The compass that sets your course are your core values. Those core values direct all of your life choices and every aspect of your behavior. Core values are defined by you. They are:

  • Something that is regarded as important.
  • Standards of behavior.
  • Beliefs, ideals.
  • Guidelines of worth.
  • Principles that guide conduct.
  • Seen as intrinsically desirable, valuable.

Values are easily squashed by needs, shoulds and problems.

Needs. ..Shoulds. ..Tolerations. ..Unresolved matters. ..Addictions… Irresponsibility. Stress… Fantasies. ..Roles. ..Money. …Obligation/Duty……..

Until this list is handled, values orientation is difficult to do, because most people have values and needs confused. Their needs are so great that they overshadow their values. This circumstance makes living a values based life and setting values based goals unsustainable. A Values based life brings fulfillment.

Some examples of values: Accomplishment, Discipline, Social Recognition, Spirituality, Taking risks, Tradition, Wealth, Creativity.

Tom did a values assessment with me, and discovered that family and responsibility were much stronger values for him than affluence. Tom had been comparing himself to others and in his mind he hadn’t measured up. A man with a prestigious career and a big bank account was the role he imagined he was supposed to play. For Tom, the discovery that he had made the choice to work at jobs that would be best for his family, jobs that allowed him to be the kind of Dad he wanted to be, brought him great relief. That knowledge paved the way to making peace with the past, feeling satisfaction for the present, and empowered about the future.

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Multi Tasking Between Summer and Fall

Smell it in the air? The aroma of autumn. And with it, transition. We switch from summer activities to fall chores. From vacation mode to work mode. In the morning do you reach for your wool sweater, but by afternoon are you stripping to your tee shirt?  I’ve been hearing conversations that remark on the difficulties of bringing focus back. To changes begun in June and then stalled by July — before August vacations, summer pleasures, and houseguests being shown around town. Is this where you are too?

Honeycomb (2)

This reminded me of research being done on multi tasking and the brain. Turns out multi tasking is largely a myth. We are incapable of doing 2 things at once that require executive functions (the same part of the brain). But we are good at switching back and forth. When switching to a new task, we have to pause, then commit.

The pause is what the first weeks of September are about. This is your chance to use the breathing space between summer mode and the autumn seasonal shift to re-focus. To make the transition easier, follow these suggestions:

1. Take a moment and review your goals from spring. Are these still important to you? Are there any you want to let go of?

2. Where are your interests being drawn now?

3. What ‘energy drainers’ are you noticing? Have there been changes these last 8 months that need attending to?

4. What would you determine are your major challenges? Are you ready to tackle them?

September ushers in days of higher energy that can galvanize development. The distinct shift in the season can give you renewed purpose and focus. Opportunity awaits.

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You Are Leaving a Mark

We were in a tight embrace, the three of us hugging, holding on tight. We were together to celebrate the upcoming birth of a new baby, and each of us were delighted to be together and share a beautiful moment.Screenshot 2015-06-10 11.11.03

We became friends on the job some years back. We were doing good work together, mentoring and supporting people with barriers to employment. The impact of that experience shaped us. We have gone on to different jobs, in greater capacities, but have continued with the aim of empowering others.

As I reflected on this, the image of a footprint came into my mind. We were each making an impact. With our support for one another, and with the love poured forth into our work and relationships, we were leaving an imprint on our communities of encouragement. You too are leaving a mark. What kind of mark is it?

Financial planners talk about building monetary legacies. This is a different kind of currency, a legacy of impact. What does creating a legacy of impact mean to you? With your own unique definition of what that might look like. Go ahead, start building on it. What’s the first step?

“Yesterday is a cancelled check. Today is cash on the line. Tomorrow is a promissory note.” — Hank Stram

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