Life to the Full!

Posts made in July, 2014

Two Schools of Thought : Which Did You Attend?

By on Jul 30, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

When I was a kid I spent my winters in St. Louis, MO.  And in St. Louis, when you met someone for the first time, one of the questions people almost always asked was “where’d you go to school?”  And they weren’t referring to college – they were talking about high school. Weird, huh? Well, not really.  See, the answer to that question could tell you a lot about a person.  Especially if you followed it up with this question: “did you grow up there?” That’s because knowing where someone grew up and went to high school gave you the idea that you already knew a little about the person.  What their values and experiences might be.  How they looked at life. Schools of thought are like that, too.  If you know what school of thought someone grew up in, you can make some educated guesses about core beliefs and their general take on life. As I thought about this and the people I counsel, coach, and consult with, I see two main schools of thought, or belief systems, about life.  These belief systems can be summed up with two ideas: “Things will work out!” Or… “Things probably won’t work out!” Knowing which school someone comes from doesn’t predict they’ll keep living out of that belief system.  However, changing your story won’t happen without challenging your core beliefs. So what school of thought did you grow up in?  Deep down, what do you believe about life in general?  What’s your starting point? If you’re in that select group of folks making positive changes in your life or business – or you want to be – this is a key question.  If you’re stuck, answering that question offers both insight and direction so you can move from where you are right now to where you want to be. Is your mindset “things probably won’t work out?”  If so you’ll be more likely to self-sabotage, make mountains out of molehills, and create obstacles where there may be only normal challenges.   It will make the life you want more difficult than it has to be.   And it may keep you stuck. On the other hand, if “things will work out” is your...

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‘Time Outs’: Not Just for Kids Anymore!

By on Jul 21, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

Is there ever a time when putting things off can be more productive than doing it now? When it comes to arguing there are lots of times like that. Think about it like this: changing your oil is really important. But you wouldn’t change the oil in a car with the engine running at 12,000 rpm, would you? In case you aren’t sure if that’s a trick question, no, you wouldn’t. You’d literally have a hot mess on your hands, and there’s a good chance of breaking something expensive in the process. So while changing your oil is important – especially if it’s long overdue – there’s still a right time and a wrong time. And, the same goes for dealing with important issues in relationships. Sometimes the worst possible time to deal with an issue – especially if it’s long overdue – may be the time when you want to address it the most. Like, when a discussion turns into an argument. You know what I mean, right? Passions are running high, tempers are flaring like a pair of bell-bottoms, and you just have to get this resolved right, freaking, NOW! Hey, I get it. Putting off something really important rubs a lot of us the wrong way. In fact, “do it now” and “the 10 minute rule” are great tools for managing stress.  So “not putting off till later what you can do now” is usually great advice. However… Judging by how things go in a lot of marriages, about half of us want to run away and the other half want to fight to the death (God really does have a sense of humor, doesn’t He?).  But this is where a third strategy comes in handy. It has some good research behind it, and it’s recommended by the folks at PREP who wrote the book Fighting for Your Marriage. So, what magic middle ground lies between fight and flight? Taking a time out. You know, like you give the kids. Except, you give it to yourself.  And you plan for it in advance. Taking a time out allows people to cool off and settle down.  Once you figure out what you were trying to say, and can...

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Transforming What “I” Want into What “We” Want : Two Simple Tools

By on Jul 14, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

A while back I saw some research on what makes for a successful marriage, and it basically boils down to this: if you learn how to negotiate, compromise, and problem solve, you’ve pretty much got it made. After spending years in sectors as diverse as business, the public sector, and the non-profit world – alongside almost 30 years of marriage – I’d have to say this is pretty much true whether we’re talking about relationships at home or at work. Really?  That’s it?  Negotiate, compromise, problem solve?  “Sounds too easy,” you may be saying. Well, sort of.  You need to say what you want (and that means you first know what you want).  And you need to actively listen to other people. But the ability to negotiate, compromise, and problem solve is critical to bringing other skills together – like saying what you want and really listening to others – and making something good happen. Let’s assume for a moment you know how to say what you want and how to listen actively to others.  How do we get from what I want to what we want? There are a lot of possible ways to get there, but here are two simple strategies you can implement right now. The “How” Question The first strategy uses an open-ended question I learned from a mentor back in grad school.  He said, “Never ask an attorney ‘can I?’  You always ask an attorney ‘how can I?’” What’s the difference?  One sets up a simple yes or no answer.  “Can I?”  What if the answer is no?  Now the only way to get that door open again is with a challenge, argument, or conflict of some sort. On the other hand, inserting ‘how’ is more likely to open up a dialogue.  And, lead to problem solving.  Here are examples of a sales closing question asked both ways: 1. “Would you like me to ship that to you?”  Maybe yes, maybe no. 2. “How would you like me to ship that to you?”  Maybe standard, maybe express. Feel the difference?  Simply using the “how” question changes the tone entirely.  More importantly: which is more likely to solve the customer’s problem and result in product...

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Transform Communication Now with This One Simple Switch

By on Jul 4, 2014 in Blog |

Saying what you want can be one of the hardest things to do. It seems so much easier to say what you don’t want. But, like I learned in Family Wellness Associates Strongest Link training, to get what you want, you have to say what you want.  And making this one simple switch can transform communication. Why can’t I just say what I don’t want? Take 23 year-old Tom who was arguing with his dad about getting his life going. Tom kept saying what he didn’t want – and then he’d argue with dad about why he was right not to want it. He was stuck. So, I suggested we role-play – I’d be dad so Tom could practice telling dad what he wanted. “Okay, Tom,” I said in my best dad-voice, “you’re saying you want to start living your own life without me interfering all the time. Fine, I can respect that. So, what do you want to do with your life and how can I help?” Tom’s brow furrowed. His lips sort of puckered. He looked like he was doing calculus in his head. Finally, slowly, he began. “I… um… I’d like you to help me figure out a budget. And, uh… and stop saying things like, ‘life’s passing you by!’” That’s a start. And…? “And,” he went on with a little more oomph, “it might help if you asked me questions so I can figure this thing out for myself instead of telling me what to do!” Ding-ding-ding! Now we’re communicating! Dad kept telling Tom what he thought Tom should do because, at least in part, he didn’t know what Tom wanted. And, dad couldn’t help Tom because Tom never told him what he wanted help with. Even Tom couldn’t help Tom get things moving. He was stuck. Can you relate? A lot of people say what they don’t want (or say nothing at all) instead of risking saying what they want. But there are at least three problems with that approach. Most people can’t read minds.  Including everyone you know. If you ever thought something like, “I shouldn’t have to say what I want – they should just know,” then let me say this: get over...

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