Living Beyond Disappointment

Can you imagine what it must be like to be responsible for your entire team losing?

That’s what happened to The Seattle Seahawks playing against the Patriots in the 2015 Super Bowl.

They had the game won and it was the coach, Pete Carroll who blew the call.  At the last minute the Seahawks lost what should have been their second Super Bowl victory in a row to the team that seems to win all of them.

But not Pete Carroll who is known as a master motivator took the hurt and heartbreak and turned it into personal growth.

Things don’t always work out, but they always provide a path to become better.

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Anxiety Excuses

Almost everyone I know is stressed (including me).

But not everyone thinks of stress the same way.

Some look at each new anxiety as the one that may break them – usually it doesn’t, but thinking like this doesn’t help.

Anxiety is best treated with two things – a little self-kindness and gratitude.

A mental hug is appropriate because we need to know that we’re doing the best we can at all times.

And gratitude not only for the good things in life but the people who love and care for us puts anxiety in perspective.

The world is a tough place that is handled best with soft touches like being kind to ourselves and grateful for the things and people in life that destress us.

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Changing the Way You See Yourself

You wouldn’t make a presentation or a speech and tell yourself “I hope I don’t blow it” before you begin – it’s the wrong message for a positive outcome.

That’s exactly how we beat ourselves up every day wondering what mistake we will make next or how we won’t measure up.

That stops today.

You’re always good enough – it’s all you can be.

You’ve succeeded a lot in life but somehow fear of failure hijacks all our successes.

Scroll back, they’re all there just not recalled often enough.

Picture a brain with a sign firmly planted in it that says “Keep Out”.

The negatives input of others is not welcomed and it’s our head, you decide what gets in and gets repeated.

If you can’t believe in you, how can you ask any individual or group to believe.

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How to Prevent a Meltdown

It’s not the amount of anxiety people face, it’s their ability to take a pause before getting caught up in it.

Not a grand plan, not retribution nor avoiding the stressful world we live in.

A pause for a moment to allow the brain to respond instead of react.

Meltdowns occur when we pile yet another stressful situation, irritation, problem or crisis on top of the things we’re already carrying with us that cause us to be anxious.

The difference between reacting and adding another stressor or responding to prevent more unneeded stress is something as simple as waiting 5-7 seconds before acting.

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Empathy from Children

“When my older daughter came into my room early one morning to wake me up on the weekend, my sweet 5-year old son stopped her outside my room and said:  ‘Let Mommy sleep.  She needs some sleep to have a happier day.’  Considering how sleep-deprived I am as a working mom with both kids remote schooling, it was a relief to receive a bit of empathy.”  — Faye D’Silva, Toronto, CA/New York Times Parenting Letter

Even more important than sleep is empathy.

Understanding and sharing feelings is a potent elixir for burnout.

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I tell my students who are concerned about the times in which they are beginning their adults lives and careers that greatness comes from great adversity.

Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, rose to greatness by emancipating the slaves, a divisive issue that eventually claimed his life.

FDR, a Democrat, was elected and reelected to four terms as president during two major wars and one ten-year depression.

When the current virus “pause” ends, life will not return to exactly the way it was because time has moved on – a year so far and counting.

But adversity helps us know and appreciate ourselves and presents a golden opportunity to be great.

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Relationship Fatigue

The big thing during these days of quarantining is “relationship fatigue”, a fancy term for getting on the nerves of people we love and care about.

Tough times will pass but one thing they are good for is practicing skills that will be useful when normal returns, for example …

  • Once a day greeting those we live with as if we haven’t seen them for several weeks.
  • Being present not just there by focusing in on what is being said and respond.
  • And if all else fails, practice the awesome power of listening because no one doesn’t like being heard and it makes being in close quarters almost bearable.

Relationship fatigue is when we’ve become tired of doing things that make others want to be in our presence.

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Isn’t it interesting that we can automatically show an animal more love than we can show ourselves?

A treat, a hug, warmth and love and it happens without thinking.

Meanwhile in the people world, we often can’t find the words to tell ourselves “nice try”, “good job”, “I’m awesome” but we have no problem being self-critical by default or worse, repeating the criticism we have heard from others.

There is a reason why our faces light up when we interact with our pets – we are showing unconditional love not “if you chased the ball better, we’d have more fun at the dog park”.

Accept yourself the way your pet accepts you without conditions.

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Effective Leadership

Think of it like this – you’re the conductor and the people who work with you are the musicians.

To make music together, a conductor alone is only as good as the talent around her.

The assembled talent without a leader is squandered brilliance.

Every meeting, then, is one in which you extract the best performance possible from those around you – that’s what real leaders do.

That’s why meetings are often a waste of time – talent listening to a leader do most of the thinking.

Why even great ideas are useless if they never get heard – kind of like a musical performance that exists on paper and never happens.

Effective leadership is teaching then directing not directing and trying to force an outcome.

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When we succeed, we want to continue so our tendency is to keep doing what made us successful.

That’s why Victoria’s Secret couldn’t keep up with how women changed, radio stayed the same by doing less to save money and Toys “R” Us went out of business because children changed their toys.

The thing is what usually got us there in the first place was change, disruption but success breeds an affinity toward playing it safe.

Cultivate a propensity for change by doing things differently, thinking differently and acquiring different skills.

Apple changes so they continue to succeed, but they really don’t take a lot of risks – new products (a watch, coming soon glasses), reinventing things (their iPhone is essentially a better camera with each iteration) and making digital life increasingly easy (as Steve Jobs said, “it just works’).

Challenge yourself long before someone else does – that’s the mental version of a workout.

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