It's Just Your Life

Peggy Stinson's Blog About Personal Success

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Leading Without Fear

What kind of mental training would you need to have to undertake to be able to take such hard hits as these guys and still come back with a smile! What kind of employee and team member do you need to be to move in your business life like these guys? What kind of company allows this kind of leadership and interaction? Okay, maybe not everyone is up for hard work… I think part of the key is starting as early as possible. If your life as a child didn’t allow you to work through and to the other side of fear, then you aren’t going to feel comfortable at work when you feel fear.
Two reactions to fear: 1.) run away (so the really passive types at work) or, 2.) fight (the aggressive types at work). Neither are good. You have to be able to work through the strategy, try it out, practice with lots of “bumps” and finally master the thing you are afraid of. Once you’ve mastered it, you lose your childlike approach to what life has to offer and move into the realm of possibility.

Leading With Possibility

Man! I want to eat what Benjamin Zander eats for breakfast!! If you’re under 35, you’ve got to wish for the energy, wisdom and life this guy has at 70! Someone just sent me a copy of a video from Benjamin Zander, Conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, giving a presentation at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting (I think given in 2009). If you don’t have the hour to listen to the presentation, then put it on your calendar for when you do. For now, here are some outtakes in terms of business leadership:

  1. The job of the conductor (business leader) is to awaken the possibility in other people. To know you are doing that, look in your employees eyes.If their eyes are shining, you’re doing a good job.
  2. If their eyes are not shining, ask yourself the question: Who am I being, that their eyes are not shining.
  3. What kind of a leader do I need to be, that their eyes are shining.
  4. The job of the conductor is to help people put decisions into practice.
  5. To think out of the box, you have to ask yourself: What assumptions am I making, which I don’t know I’m making, which in turn are giving me what I see. And then, what can I invent, which I’ve not yet invented, which will give me something new.
  6. Every organization has to have one person who has the responsibility and the authority to always ask these questions.
  7. The job of the conductor is to remind players what the rythm of transformation is. Allow the rythm to be light, bright and bouyant.
  8. There are three positions: resignation, anger, possibility.
  9. If you make a mistake, it brings everything down–the whole rythm starts to go down. If you make a mistake, raise your arms and say: How fascinating!! And then get on with things.
  10. You cannot play great music until your heart is broken. Allow your heart to be broken, embrace it and play great music.
  11. If people aren’t doing what you want them to do, it’s because you haven’t enrolled them. Apologize for your mistake, enroll, and get on with things.
  12. The “new” leader of today will be able to distinguish the downward spiral on the job and has the capacity to move people to radiating opportunity.
  13. You can recognize the downward spiral by focusing on the result of win or lose.
  14. You can recongize radiating possibility when you have the feeling: I am contributing.
  15. Possibility is only one sentence away–your next sentence. You choose.

The list above does NOT do justice to this GREAT speaker who is filled with life energy and charisma. He’s taking time from his busy life to present to companies all over and maybe coming to your company in the future.

His homepage:

The video from the Economic World Forum (1 hour)

Mental Training Techniques from Lewis Gordon Pugh

Lewis Gordon Pugh - Swimming the North Pole

Lewis Gordon Pugh - Swimming the North Pole

Lewis Gordon Pugh – Swimming the North Pole watch the 8 minute video here

Do you know who Lewis Gordon Pugh is? ( He’s this guy who jumps into the icy waters of the Antarctic and swims 20 minutes—yeah, without going into shock! (Most people would die within just minutes!)

We all get our inspiration from somewhere. Lewis Gordon Pugh is one of mine. Every morning while I’m on my exercise machine, I take a look at his picture and some of the tips he uses for helping him reach his personal goals. Ok, I’m not preparing to jump into the icy waters of the Antarctic anytime soon. But, what most surprised me is that his tips are actually the same tips I use with my coaching clients when I help them reach their business goals. I’ve used the same tips helping myself get back into my personal exercise routine and I feel sure these are the same tips people use for reaching many other types of goals. So without further adieu, here are some things you can start using today:

  • Block negative thoughts (Pugh uses music)
  • Envision every aspect of completing goal
  • Create and condition using a hard training regimen
  • Add more difficulty every step of the way (Pugh adds more ice every single day to the water in his practices)
  • Break large tasks down into manageable pieces (Pugh uses flags which are strategically placed and a board which shows the time which has elapsed from his swim)
  • Bring emotional connection into each manageable piece (flags represent different emotional triggers for him, like one represents his father)
  • Adapt and cope, and use your will
  • Learn to do and/or suppress that which others cannot
  • Prepare daily
  • Use mental training techniques

McDonald’s Customer Service

Had a meeting with the manager of the local McDonald’s this morning. After a year or so of being totally disappointed…well…actually disregarded as a customer, I decided to complain. I’m glad I did. It was appreciated.

Ok, McDonald’s wasn’t my favorite healthy food place. After 14 years of being in Germany and you just start missing a bit of America and look for something which reminds you of the good ol’ USA. Besides, I can walk there in 15 minutes and I figure, if I walk to and from, that’s gotta count toward killing one or two of those calories I put down. So, for the past year or so, I’ve been visiting my local McD’s on a regular basis.

The more I went, the more disappointed I got. I would walk in and stand at the counter with my feet sticking to the “just washed” floor and order from an employee who never once looked me in the eye during the entire transaction. I’ve handed back my tray and asked for another because I didn’t want to be the fourth person who used it in a row without it being washed. I’ve been yelled at not to sit in the McCafé area unless I bought something from the café. I’ve paid 30 cents for ketchup and taken my food home, just to find it was the wrong food. Hmmm. I thought it was just me…the American unrealistically searching for that world-renowned American style customer service which says customer is king. Well…after seeing a young 21-year old German guy grabbing his mobile phone and taking a picture of the kitchen area so he could send it on to his uncle who also owns a McDonald’s…just so the uncle could send the complaint directly to the right person…well…I guess I realized I wasn’t alone. So I decided to complain personally.

Today the manager graciously listened to all of my concerns, looking me in the eye the entire time. He assured me it was not what he wanted for his store and not what McDonald’s wants for their customers. He explained he had parted company with some employees and was doing his best to continue to train the existing and new personnel. Maybe I gave him some additional tips which he can use for supporting the good people he kept. The one thing which made me feel good was that he said, “We don’t have any way to change what we do unless customers speak up.” I’m glad I took the time to share my thoughts as a customer. It wasn’t anonymous, it was face to face and that made a lot of difference for me. I now have a renewed interest in visiting my local McDonald’s. (Still going to walk there, though and not eat an entire meal at supersize…)

Customer Service Frustration

I just got off the phone from one of the most frustrating customer service calls I’ve had in a long time. Most of my frustration doesn’t come from the fact that this was my fourth attempt at clearing up the problem. My frustration doesn’t come from the fact that this was the third time the guy told me he would take my contact information and send it along to the right person. It doesn’t come from the fact that I still can’t use the product after six weeks of trying. No, none of that frustration can add up to the frustration I feel inside myself for not being able to quickly use my own methods of communication in a simple phone call.

The angrier I got, of course the louder and faster and ruder I spoke to the customer service guy. After a couple of minutes, my autopilot finally found it’s way into my intellect and told me to remember my own stuff that I help people learn every day. I took long, deep breaths, pushing out all the air I had taken in (so not taking in and just holding it all in and jamming everything up!) I mentally pictured myself shaking off the negative thoughts about the situation. I physically shook my head to get my body to physically react to the situation. I brought my tone of voice down to a normal level. Then very important, I told the man what I was feeling (I feel talked to and not heard, I feel frustrated, I feel totally disregarded as a client of the company.)

All of a sudden there was silence on the other end of the phone. At least he was listening to me. Finally he took my info again and sent it out, AGAIN. We’ll see if I get my questions answered soon. In a way, I’m glad real life happens to me on a continual basis, even if it is unpleasant. When real life kicks in, I get the chance to realize how difficult it can be for a person to use the methods they learned in a training.
The one thing I do know is if you want your autopilot to kick in and automatically use some of those communication methods you’ve learned (like “I” Statements or Open-Ended Questions), then you have to be willing to use them over and over again in every situation imaginable so they can go on autopilot after awhile.

Well, at least my frustration has been reduced just a bit by writing this entry for others. Ah yesssss! I’m a real person after all, with real feelings and difficulties just like the rest of humanity. My tip for newlings: use the methods you’ve learned even in situations where there is no conflict so you can go on autopilot when there is conflict.

Why have another personal development blog?

Why this blog? I’m starting this blog because I believe a lot of people are looking for resources to support their personal development process. Developing “the person” seems to be the most in-thing you can do for yourself right now. Do you ever wonder why so many millions of self-help books, cds and seminars are being sold? And how about all those coaching hours being sold, who’s buying those? People like you and me are searching for ways to improve ourselves. We want to be “effective” and to be “high-performers”. We want to be “achievers” and “top notch”. We’re all looking for the “secret” and some of us are trying to “uncover the past”.

The name of this blog is It’s Just Your Life because I believe each of us has the ability to be something great in our lifetime. And, I believe that most people on this earth want and hope they can do something more than they are doing right now at this moment in life. I believe that most people die feeling they could have done more with their life. I also believe it’s just one life while you’re here, so you better get moving if you want to do something with it.

I also believe we can lead a “normal” life and still be great. I am convinced it is not necessary to overwork yourself to do something meaningful. I feel sure people can be high-performers without being sick or burned out later in life. Like I said, it’s your life: yours and only yours. You get to do whatever you want with it, however you want.

Providing people a place for some more resources for helping themselves stay balanced, healthy, positive — and still be high-achievers — is exactly what I want to accomplish here. Let’s start with one of the best books I ever read for giving people a strong inner foundation: Self Matters by Phillip McGraw Ph.D. Although it’s already a few years old, it is one of the best books I can recommend. If you want to get the full effect of the book, my tip is: do it slowly and do every single exercise. Expect to spend a few weeks with the book and expect to spend some time (20-45 minutes) on each exercise. Find yourself a quiet place, bring your coffee or tea and pen and paper and give yourself this time.

Trying to actually make a self-help book work for you is sometimes difficult. That’s why I say you have to take the time and you have to really DO the exercises (not just read through them). Reading is a passive activity and changing behavior is active. It’s hard to translate something passive into active. That’s why I became a coach, to help people put passive theory into active living.

I love my job. It adds value to others and is worth my time and energy investment. I’m looking forward to the interaction with other people on the topic of personal development, in whatever way that means to you.

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