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  1. Set your boundaries and honor them.
    Boundaries are a way to protect yourself from the actions of others and limit your exposure to stressful people or situations. It’s practicing good self-care to say no to unreasonable requests of your time at work, and to limit the length of family visits with those who cause undue irritation or spread negativity.
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  1.  Innovate, create, and anticipate.
    If you are able to do some of your work from home, phone it in! If this is not yet a practice where you work, make your case for it, but make the “business case.” Consider the benefits for the company, such as better coverage, easy accessibility during off hours, and greater productivity. Ensure you’ve got a set up at home that is conducive to getting your work done; even if it’s just at the kitchen table. Gather everything you’ll need to complete the job at hand before you start, then plunge right in.
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  1. Let others know what you expect of them.
    Your staff needs to know your expectations. This serves as a roadmap enabling them to compare where their performance is now with where it should be. The same is true for your family and loved ones. Letting them know what you expect sets clear direction and can serve as a place from which to begin negotiations.

 

  1. Establish built-in reserves in as many areas as possible.

Allow extra time for traveling during the holiday season. Temper your expectations with an eye toward the stress many of your staff may be facing. A little generosity in terms of deadlines and commitments at this time of year almost guarantees a renewed loyalty and dedication in the New Year.

 

  1. Finish one piece of “unfinished business” a day, if it’s in your power to do so.
    Your confidence grows in direct proportion to your accomplishments. Even completing the simple things--choosing a date and time for a meeting you’ve been putting off, or reaching out to make a call you’ve been dreading--will build your sense of well being and mastery.

 

  1. Make sure you get your personal needs met.
    It’s difficult to live a powerful and well-anchored life unless your personal needs are met. Whether it’s as simple as finding laughter in your day, connecting with another human being in a loving way, or scheduling a massage, make sure you take care of yourself.

 

  1. Live a life as close to your values as possible.
    When you are acting in accordance with your authentic beliefs, you’re operating from a place of power and security. Fulfillment naturally occurs when each decision you make stems from your highest beliefs and values.

 

  1. Identify and eliminate what’s “good enough” in your life, both at work and at home.
    The things you tolerate are sometimes the very things that drain your energy and slow your development, or potentially thwart your company’s success. Think about one thing in your life that is just “good enough” and what it would look like if it were great. What’s stopping you from making it great? Often we orchestrate the status quo by accepting the barely acceptable. You deserve better, so push for it!

 

  1. Create your personal definition of success.
    Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and define what success looks like in your life. Working backwards from your definition is a way to map your path. When you define success for yourself, life becomes very, very simple.
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WISHING YOU A JOYOUS HOLIDAY SEASON!

 

 

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Growth is change.
Change can be uncomfortable.
Grow anyway.

Deborah Avery
New York Executive Coaching, LLC
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Holding the Space


Holding the Space – Creating a safe place from which to encourage others to look into the mirror.
 
How do you let the emperor know he’s not wearing any clothes, or tell the skunk he smells?
 
Having a conversation with a member of your management team about his or her counterproductive style of relating to direct reports can be difficult. That this could potentially yield an "Aha" moment makes it a challenge worth the risk.
 
The process of self-discovery is often blocked by defensiveness or the inability to see one’s actions from a different perspective. Some gentle prodding can make all the difference. It takes courage on the part of the individual you are taking on this journey--and courage on your part‑‑to mentor one of your team members in understanding the consequences of his or her behavior. Be prepared for some defensive posturing that could border on aggressive denial; it is often hard for the best of us to look at our actions with a critical eye.
 
Managers who pride themselves on mentoring others are sometimes unaware of their own challenges and tendencies. This is where you want to tread carefully; creating an environment where one of your managers can explore their own responsibility in a challenging situation requires a delicate touch.
 
Holding the space can sometimes be as simple as nonjudgmental listening, which entails suspending assumptions and beliefs about what will be revealed. It is vital to guard against any body language or facial expressions that might convey disapproval, as neutrality provides a nurturing atmosphere for discovery.

Allow for the natural pauses that can occur as information is absorbed and understanding is reached. Although prolonged silences can feel awkward and you may want to keep the conversation flowing, it is often in these silent, reflective moments where self-discovery occurs and insights are processed.

Often these moments can be cathartic and lead to breakthroughs in other areas as well. When you provide a safe place for a manager to stretch and develop under your leadership without fear of criticism or negative repercussions, the potential for development of best practices is unlimited. So, go ahead, have that chat.


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Growth is change.
Change can be uncomfortable.
Grow anyway.

Deborah Avery
New York Executive Coaching, LLC
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As financial uncertainty gives rise to fear in people around the globe, leaders have a unique opportunity to infuse their organizations with a sense of security, stability, and the ability to weather the storm.
 
What are the characteristics of exemplary leadership in times of crisis? Here are ten tips :
 
1.      Trust your own ability. The experience you have gained from handling difficult situations in the past has provided you with an extensive set of skills with which to approach any task. Sometimes it’s as simple as reminding yourself of ways you have previously surmounted obstacles--thereby erasing any doubts as to your readiness for the challenge.
 
2.      Remain Calm. Take a deep breath. Don’t allow the anxiety and confusion that is overtaking others to impact your outlook. Don’t react with anger or impatience to the fears of others. By asking questions, careful listening, and focusing only on solutions, you can instill calmness in those around you.
 
3.      Get all the information you can. Things are rarely what they seem to be at first blush. Discover all the facts so that you can reach an informed decision. Get information from a few different sources; each person’s perspective will give you another piece of data with which to solve the puzzle.
 
4.      Assume ownership of the situation. In order to effectively deal with a crisis you must refuse to make excuses for anyone. Don’t blame others for the realities you are now facing. Focusing on the past and what was done wrong won’t propel you toward solution. Look to the present and develop a laser focus for what can be done from this moment forward. Changing difficulty into opportunity begins right now.
 
5.      Dare to take action. Bad news on many fronts, setbacks and challenges can cause a “deer in the headlights” response. You need to guard against temporary paralysis. Don’t give in to feelings of indecision and confusion. Think of the first specific steps you can take to develop a plan of action and implement them; each step leads to the next and the forward momentum will generate more energy for you.
 
6.      Dissect the challenge. Learn as much as you can about the challenge you are facing. This is the time when knowledge is the key to power. Step back from the scene and look at what’s happening in the context of the larger picture. What is restricting your progress? How can you overcome, sidestep, or eliminate the problem? As you discover the first constraint, neutralize it. Do this in a methodical way for each element of the difficulty. Each successful encounter will engender others; each accomplishment exponentially builds on itself.
 
 
7.      Know when to “fold ‘em.” Any good card player knows when to get rid of a bad hand and conserve resources for the next ante. Ask yourself how you would handle the situation if you hadn't already invested time and energy in it. Be prepared to abandon that which no longer serves you or your organization.
 
8.      Remember that many eyes are upon you. Others are watching how you handle yourself in these difficult times. You are the barometer for how others in your organization will manage their own challenges. These are opportunities to model your beliefs in your behaviors. Your influence is always greater during hard times.  
 
9.      Practice constant communication. This is not the time for unpleasant surprises. Everyone who is impacted by the crisis deserves to know as much as you can reveal to them. Their own mastery of the situation will grow as they have more information and know the part they play. Keep others apprised of changes as they occur and ask for their continued assistance and input.
 
10.    Think beyond the probable: invite the possibilities. Now is not the time to accept mediocre performance. There are solutions for every problem, and you can stimulate creative problem-solving by conducting brainstorming sessions with others. Get each idea, no matter how fanciful, on paper and define the problem by as many standards you can. Once clearly defined, a problem invites its own solution--you just have to take notes and capture the energy as you unleash the creativity of others. Once your problem has generated as many solutions as possible, you are on your way to achieving greater success than before.
 
© Deborah Avery, New York Executive Coaching 2008
 
 
 


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Growth is change.
Change can be uncomfortable.
Grow anyway.

Deborah Avery
New York Executive Coaching, LLC
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This Week's DEBate-able: Follow the Leader


What makes a leader? What are those ethereal qualities one person possesses that can cause others to form a cohesive, smoothly functioning group? Here are some of the skills most great leaders possess:
 
1. The ability to communicate your vision clearly and in a manner easily understood by each member of your team. Everyone needs to understand the mission in order to get onboard and further your plans. There are few things more frustrating than well-meaning direct reports who can't identify the purpose of the function to which they're assigned. Ensure they understand the big picture and their part in it; if they don’t “get it,” they can't “give it their all.”
 
2. A genuine concern for the well-being of those on your team. Get to know who they are, what's going on with their lives, and any challenges they may be facing. Nothing engenders loyalty and dedication more effectively than the team’s knowledge that their work is appreciated and they are understood.
 
3. In line with showing appreciation, catch them doing something well and praise them for it. Timeliness is the key; do it as soon as you can after you witness or discover the deed. The value is in the immediacy and authenticity of the remark. This creates a ripple effect of goodwill that can carry the entire team forward. (Can't catch them in the act of doing something praiseworthy? Maybe you should get out more, which brings us to the next step.)
 
4. Management By Wandering Around. MBWA is a practice that was developed by managers at Hewlitt-Packard in the 1970s and later popularized by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman in the early 1980s. This technique is conducive to informal communication between managers and members of a team. It lessens the systemic barriers between the concept of how work should be done and the reality of how it is being done. It can alert you to what's happening with a project in real time and decrease the need for others to jump through the hoops of accessing bureaucratic lines of communication. So, go ahead, take a walk through different areas and see what is actually happening. Say hello to everyone along the way, stay relaxed and natural; you’ll be amazed at what you discover. It may seem awkward at first, but if you continue this technique regularly, at least twice a week, others in the workplace will get accustomed to having you pass through, and that’s when you’ll start getting great information. Do this at different times of the day to see all stages of your operation.
 
5. Manage the people and the work, not the paperwork. Remember that your job is to lead and manage specific functions and the people who perform them within your company. Sure, there is a lot of paperwork that goes along with the job, and you’ll get it done; but don't let that distract you from your real responsibility as a leader. Motivate others, learn new techniques and strategies. Part of your obligation is to develop and grow as a leader. Read up on the latest developments in your field, be on the lookout for new information, and master the art of change and metamorphosis. Great leaders don’t stagnate, they are on the cutting edge. Get out there, take appropriate risks, and enjoy the rewards! Think about it.


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Growth is change.
Change can be uncomfortable.
Grow anyway.

Deborah Avery
New York Executive Coaching, LLC
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 Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of becoming. -- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Celebrate what you want to see more of. -- Thomas J. Peters 

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. -- John Quincy Adams

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. -- Kenneth Blanchard 

~~~~~~

Attitudes and emotions are as contagious as germs, and one of your primary functions is to manage their transmission. The people who work for you pick up on your moods and often reflect that in their performance. Have you ever had the experience of a boss or manager briskly walking into the office, no greeting to others except for maybe a grunt, and then head straight for his office, slamming the door behind him? What does that do to the mood of others in the workplace? What message does that send?

The people who work for you and report to you take their cues from you. Your emotions and how you choose to project them influence everyone on your team. Studies show that when business leaders are in a good mood, those who work with them have more positive experiences and report more satisfaction with their jobs. More satisfaction equates to more productivity and increased performance.

So, smile, say "Good morning," notice when members of your team are excelling, and comment favorably. Catch them doing something right and let them know you value their input. Your attitude sets the tone for the day. Think about it.

© New York Executive Coaching 2008

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Growth is change.
Change can be uncomfortable.
Grow anyway.
Deborah Avery
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Six Great Coaching Questions

 
Looking for answers? It helps to ask the right questions, the ones that bring you to the core of any issue and help propel you toward a solution. 
 
In coaching I've discovered that the right question at the right time uncovers a world of possibility for the client.  I'd like to share some with you.
 
You can use some of these questions on any challenge you are currently facing. Here are six powerful questions to get you started:
 
1. What could we work on that would make the biggest difference in your life?
 
2. What would you consider your three greatest strengths?
 
3. What are you doing well currently?   
 
4.  What could you be doing better?
 
5. What one thing could you begin to do right now that would make a difference?
 
6.  How can you leverage each of your strengths to help you achieve your goal? 
 
Try these on an issue facing you and generate some new possibilities for yourself. Let me know if you found these helpful.
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Growth is change.
Change can be uncomfortable.
Grow anyway.


Deborah Avery
 New York Executive Coaching, LLC

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Weathering the Storm

 
Let us follow our destiny, ebb and flow.  Whatever may happen, we master fortune by accepting it.  --  Virgil
 
What ought one to say then as each hardship comes?  I was practicing for this, I was training for this.  --   Epictetus 
 
You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.  --  Jim Rohn

~~~~~
 
There are times in each of our lives when we face crisis.  Whether personal health, family issues or work-related, these challenges can be daunting.  In the midst of the confusion and lack of clarity that such struggle brings it can be difficult to see a workable solution. 
 
When you're faced with a hardship that threatens to overwhelm you, it's important to assess your situation and take necessary action. 
 
Here are a few ways to navigate through troubling times.
  • What's working?  Find the things that are working well for you and do more of them.  It helps to see that there are still areas in which you can excel.
  • Focus on the actions that will get you through.  The simple act of placing one foot in front of the other and dealing with each task as it arises can help you move through a crisis; sometimes the only way out is through.
  • Let others know what you are facing and accept the help you need.  The first step toward getting what you need is to let those who care about you help. Create a support system and allow yourself to lean on it as needed.
  • Keep in mind that you have what it takes to get through this.  Reminding yourself of other times in your life when you successfully overcame obstacles will help you remember how strong you really are.
Think about it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Growth is change.
Change can be uncomfortable.
Grow anyway.


Deborah Avery
 New York Executive Coaching, LLC

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 © New York Executive Coaching 2008



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Who Are You?

 

Who Are You?

Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself. -- James Allen
~~~~~~

Who are you? Without the identities others have projected upon you, the answer might surprise you.

Since we were children, we've been defined by others in the context of our surroundings, or our familial group. As a child perhaps you were the smart one, or the pretty one. Maybe you were considered the funny one or the peacemaker, or even the troublemaker.

Although we've all had labels placed upon us at an early age in the very small universe of our families and schoolmates, we are much more than the identity we had at the age of eight, or eighteen. We are not what others think of us nor are we limited to the meager range of possibility that such a restrictive label provides.

As we move through our lives we get to define ourselves; each choice we make is a chance to honor our authenticity and discover the depth of our untapped resources. When we act in accordance with our deepest beliefs and desires we enable our unique abilities to develop and thrive.

Discovering who you really are will add to the fullness of your life and your work. Think about it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Growth is change.
Change can be uncomfortable.
Grow anyway.
Deborah Avery
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 © New York Executive Coaching 2008



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You Can't Teach A Pig To Sing

We've all heard the expression "You can't teach a pig to sing."  Perhaps you never gave it much thought before, but let's look at one possible interpretation.  Pigs are intelligent animals but they lack the fundamental physical attributes that would enable them to sing.  They can grunt, squeal, and they excel at sniffing out truffles, but you can't teach 'em to sing, no matter how hard you try.
 
There's a corollary here for the rest of us.  Even if we don't waste time trying to teach pigs to sing, we've all been guilty of expending time and energy in trying to convince someone of the folly of a course of action or
the shortcomings of a plan being implemented.  Often, we find ourselves working with others (either our bosses or direct reports) who are unable to grasp the inevitable consequences that will result because of their actions. 
 
At times like these we have a choice.   In the case of a direct report we can generally circumvent their actions and minimize disruption.  When we incorporate some retraining and appropriate follow-up it can be a wonderful opportunity for growth and learning. 
 
When it's the CEO, or the Grand High Exalted Pooh bah  who can't see the flaw in his plan, our options are limited, but we can still do damage control with our direct reports and others who are negatively impacted.  Even though our "marching orders" may drive us into a raging sea, some careful planning on our part can have lifeboats at the ready, and a course pre-plotted to navigate us out of the storm.  Think about it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Growth is change.
Change can be uncomfortable.
Grow anyway.

Deborah Avery
New York Executive Coaching, LLC

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© New York Executive Coaching 2008




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DON’T BE AFRAID TO FOLLOW YOUR FEAR

We commonly look at fear as an obstacle that prevents us from actualizing the life of our dreams. We’ve been told that fear is the opposite of love, and living fearlessly is an ideal that we are encouraged to embrace. In over twenty-five years in law enforcement, however, I have learned the value of fear.  More often than not, I've witnessed instances when a person's instinctual sense of fear prevented a more serious outcome.

By discovering our fear’s origin and purpose, we can evaluate whether it’s serving or hindering us. Armed with that basic information, we will be able to identify the positive role fear can play in our lives.

Fear is an important, instinctual survival mechanism that can lead us in the direction of our higher selves; only by honoring our fears and respectfully analyzing their value can we achieve new understanding and advance the practice of loving self-care.

It is important to “check in” with ourselves occasionally and learn to separate baseless fears from our inner intuitive guidance system. In this way we can examine the message our fear is conveying and learn ways to ascertain its validity. By learning to trust our “gut feelings,” intuitive signals, and internal data processing, we will recognize when fear is realistic as opposed to a limiting belief or a groundless message we’ve internalized from our early years.

When we practice various relaxation techniques, we can lovingly approach our fear and gain new understanding. From this safe place we can ask, “What am I afraid of?” Only when we understand the fear can we ascertain its true purpose (and be able to express healthy gratitude for the fear when appropriate).

We can demystify fear’s message by deciphering and listening to it; we eliminate fear’s negative power by taking concrete steps to understand the genesis and purpose of the fear. Gut feelings, intuitive signals, and processing existing data contain a more powerful message than phobias and the mixed messages they bring with them. The first step in harnessing fear’s power lies in our being able to tell the difference.

Journaling is a viable technique. As we write about the various ways in which fear guides us, we learn about a third alternative to the “fight or flight” mechanism. When we heed the intuitive discernment carried within our fear, we can separate our emotions from our instincts. Our valid concerns can then be honored and separated from our baseless anxieties. And only when we understand the strength inherent in fear can we be fully empowered as our own best advocate.

In my work with clients--understanding personal experiences and examining the results of guided meditation--we develop individual techniques for challenging or honoring fears, as warranted.

Fear can be power. Through practice we can learn to trust and rely on our ability to discern real threats from faulty perceptions or the paralysis induced by not challenging our sometimes limiting beliefs. Enormous breakthroughs are possible when we recognize and realize the potential and practical applications of fear. Understanding the personal message of our own “fear factor” provides us with an additional avenue of breakthrough in our lives. Fear is a formidable tool in our creative arsenal.  

© New York Executive Coaching 2008



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