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Pivotal Journeys: Stories that Will Inspire You Part Two

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Communication, Confidence, Goal Setting, Leadership, Pivot Point | No Comments

At our pivot points, women I coach often are asking, “what’s next?”  I call this a pivotal journey.  While the answers are often inside ourselves, we may not have the confidence, risk appetite, or belief that we even know what we want.  In our last blog post, we shared the story of Ashli and her pivotal journey asking for what she wanted.  This post features Carrie, and this story brings tears to my eyes every time I share it.  It is another great example that illustrate that we do know what we want when we prioritize the time to reflect and give ourselves space to self-discover.  Also, it is our choice to believe in ourselves and fuel our confidence to take the risk and make the change.

Similar to Ashli’s story from last time, Carrie was also at a cross roads personally and professionally.  She took time to reflect on her true passions and purpose and renewed a love of running marathons.  Once she knew what she wanted, she prioritized her passion.  Here’s Carrie’s story…

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Pivotal Journeys: Stories that Will Inspire You Part One

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Communication, Confidence, Goal Setting, Leadership, Pivot Point | No Comments

At our pivot points, women I coach often are asking, “what’s next?”  I call this a pivotal journey.  While the answers are often inside ourselves, we may not have the confidence, risk appetite, or belief that we even know what we want.  In our next two blog posts, I wanted to share everyday stories of women doing remarkable things.  When these women shared these stories, it brought tears to my eyes.  They are great examples that illustrate that we do know what we want when we prioritize the time to reflect and give ourselves space to self-discover.  Also, it is our choice to believe in ourselves and fuel our confidence to take the risk and make the change.

In this story, Ashli took a risk and asked for what she wanted.  Through our discussions, she took time to reflect on key questions:

  • What are the tasks/goals that get you most excited? (will)
  • What are the tasks/goals that you are doing on your very best days? (will)
  • What are the tasks/goals that people continuously praise you for? (skill)
  • What are the tasks/goals that you seem to be most effective at? (skill)
  • Who are the people that are most important to you in your life? (skill/will)

Once she knew what she wanted, she was more confident in asking for it.  Here’s Ashli’s story…

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Women’s Wellness Strategies

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Confidence, Leadership, Pivot Point, Training | No Comments

At Pivot Point, we believe that wellness is defined as our ability to make conscious choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.  Based on our research with every day women leaders and women in business, we have summarized our findings for women looking for ideas for their own personal wellness plans.

After copious research, and dozens of workshops with women leaders focused on their personal wellness, we believe that there are three key areas to improving your personal wellness plan, and it all starts with your purpose.  First, start with:

1) Knowing your why (and saying no to things not aligned with your why)

2) Then, giving to others through compassion (giving to give)

3) Followed by, prioritizing sleep (yes, sleep)

Let’s start with your WHY by asking yourself these questions…

  • What are the tasks/goals that get you most excited?
  • What are the tasks/goals that you are doing on your very best days?
  • What are the tasks/goals that people continuously praise you for?
  • What are the tasks/goals that you seem to be most effective at?
  • Who are the people that are most important to you in your life?

You may be asking, what does this have to do with wellness?  I have found in my work with women, that our choices must be aligned with our personal wellness.  We cannot be happy if we are busy trying to make everyone else happy around us.

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Positive Affirmations that Work at Work

By | Coaching, Confidence, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Positive Thinking | No Comments

“I am good enough.  I am smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me!” 

Unfortunately for many leaders, the word “affirmations” conjures up memories of the Stuart Smalley segment on Saturday Night Live.  Although, Stuart proclaims these statements, you get the sense that he does not truly believe them, coming across as generic and lacking confidence.  While hilarious, positive psychology has advanced light years since this segment’s popular days in the 1990’s.  Over the last 20+ years, much improved information on our brain’s ability to internalize what we choose to tell it has yielded some impressive research and outcomes.

Positive thinking is not just a fad, it’s a must have for today’s leader.  It is one of the best tools to manage conflict, to coach employees to success, and to solve today’s complex business problems.

The leaders I coach often share these tools and techniques to improve their own positive thinking skills:

  • Power posing
  • “Will” and “am” statements
  • Visualization

Power posing

With nearly 40 million views, Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk outlines some proven ways to bolster confidence through body positioning.  By positioning our bodies to be bigger outwardly, rather than inward, our stress hormone, cortisol decreases, and our testosterone levels increase.  Although her research has been difficult to replicate, I personally believe wholeheartedly in it.  For me, when I have felt overwhelmed, or did something for the first time, or lacked confidence thinking someone else was better than me, I have power posed with positive affirmations, and felt a calmness and confidence wash over me.

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How to Choose Words that Create Positive Impact

By | Coaching, Communication, Confidence, Pivot Point, Positive Thinking | One Comment

Our brain is listening to what we say

That’s why it is critical that we choose the words that impact our brains positively.  Our dialogue – both internal and external – has a profound impact on what our brain subconsciously decides to take seriously.  When we say to ourselves – “I can do it” or “I will try” – our brain sees through our lack of commitment.  The brain interprets this information as not genuine.  Our brain then chooses to focus on other areas where there is an authentic belief.  The brain is constantly preserving its energy, and chooses to save that energy for things that instinctively matter to our survival.  By choosing to use limiting, or even worse, negative words, we keep our brain parked in survival mode.  When we choose to use positive, forward-focused, genuine words, our brain slowly moves into neutral, then hits high gear when we reinforce it over time.

Trust me, before coaching, I did not take the brain seriously.  I had painful flashbacks to psychology 101 brain anatomy and physiology, memorizing useless facts.  It just did not interest me.  Now, having achieved my Master Coach certification, ravaged books on the brain, and having been a part of numerous coaching successes where self-talk mattered, I am a believer.  By simply tweaking the words we use, we achieve far more.

Our brain is primitive

We’re only a few hundred years from our more primitive days (in most parts of the world), and our brain just has not caught up with the more complex, yet easier to survive world we live in today.  Considering the time humans have been existence, the time of survival mode has dominated our existence.  For that reason, our brain still sees two choices – fight or flight – both emotional reactions vs. a more rational response.  Our brains have not evolved at the same pace as our evolution.  We still imagine new scenarios as opportunities to meet a predator, when that is unlikely in today’s world.  In a meeting with a customer, peer, or manager, we fear the worst.  And, we limit our own abilities with negative self-talk that limits the outcomes possible from the discussion.  Our brains are wired to fear the worst possible scenario, and actively prepare to escape or fight at the first sign of danger.  Yet, running out of a meeting is not likely helpful.

So, how do we re-wire our brains?

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How to Ask for What You Want

By | Career Game Plan, Communication, Confidence, Leadership, Positive Thinking | One Comment

My college English composition teacher, Dr. Denny, was one of my favorite teachers of all time.  He was in his late 30’s, wore bow-ties and acetic sports coats, and said exactly what he thought.  Our class was 7:30am Monday mornings.  Instead of dreading the early morning hike across campus, I looked forward to it.  As a strong writer, I could have believed that I would breeze through his class just as I did virtually all my high school English classes.  Instead, I chose to let myself be challenged by him.  He made a profound difference in my life and my ability to communicate with intention.

One of the most impactful tools he taught us was how to write a good argument.  The recipe went something like this – claim, evidence, resolution:

  • The claim was essentially our point of view – more than just a mere fact – it was an insight into what we thought a set of facts or data points meant
  • The evidence was the fact, data, or quote that illustrated the claim – it logically conveyed that the claim was indeed true – the proof
  • The resolution tied it all together in a nice package – telling the audience that I told you so – reiterating the claim had been proven

I remember learning so much that quarter about how to write persuasively.  And, an even bigger life lesson – have a clear purpose every time you communicate.  As humans, we do things for a reason.  We have a purpose, and being clear about that purpose when we communicate separates us from others.  The application of Dr. Denny’s communication framework – claim, evidence, resolution – transcends far beyond a college essay – I have used this structure throughout my career.

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How to Bolster Your Authentic Confidence

By | Coaching, Communication, Confidence, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Pivot Point, Positive Thinking | No Comments

Confidence Begins Within

Your brain is trained to recognize the absence or presence of confidence as you size up the people you meet.  It is intuitive and primal, and so important to success.  Time and time again in my research for Pivot Point, I found that women struggled to build, maintain, and express confidence consistently in their personal and professional lives.

The struggle is real

I too have struggled with having adequate confidence in my life.  I remember being the timid girl in gym class growing up, and then the reserved student in undergrad.  Professionally, I have been told I was “too confident” in job interviews and in sharing my opinions, and “lacking confidence” in presentations and networking settings.  In reflecting, I found that so much of my own confidence has been dependent on the external factors around me.  My confidence hinged on the people I was with, and how I compared myself to them.  When I was with those stronger than me, I recoiled, yet when I was with those I perceived to be weaker than me, I puffed up my confidence.  Often, I find with women leaders I coach, that confidence is a fluid barometer, it ebbs and flows based on the situations and the people around us.  Just when you think you have locked it down in cruise control, here comes a curve ball that takes it down a notch.

As Katty Kay and Claire Shipman articulate in the book, Confidence Code, women’s brains are wired a little differently, which does impact your confidence.  In their research, they found that women have neurons dispersed throughout the rational and emotional centers of your brain, while men have more of their neurons concentrated in the pre-frontal cortex where rational thought prevails.  Furthermore, they note a significant difference in women focusing externally vs. men focusing internally.  Women tend to focus on others around them more, leading them to base their confidence more on the external environment.

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