Coaching Leadership Strategies Patterns

How to STOP Being a Pleaser

Hi everyone, Silvia Lafair here and I’m calling all pleasers. I’ve got some new research. I did and a half for me. So, pay attention, very interesting. I have a big question for anybody who’s a pleaser, lives with a pleaser, knows a pleaser. You can ask them or answer it yourself. Big question, do you say ‘YES’ because you care or do you say ‘YES’ because you want to be accepted. Big difference in those two yeses, and you know I have found that until you really understand the why of your ‘YES,’ you’re never gonna be able to say ‘NO’ in a strong way. It’s interesting ‘cuz for years, I’ve been teaching.

Remember, ‘NO’ is a complete sentence and people laugh. They think that’s really great and all the leaders love it and the emerging leaders get it, but it’s really not enough. So, what I say is, remember ‘NO’ is a complete sentence, and you don’t have to defend, explain or justify. You just have to say it and yet I have found so many people, really it sticks in their throat. They can’t get it out and their ‘NO’ comes out more like a question than an exclamation point. They’re going nooo.., I know I really can’t do it, but you, when you hear that most people know they can maneuver and figure a way to get the pleaser to do what they want.

So, again the question, “Do you say ‘YES’ because you care or do you say ‘YES’ because you want to be accepted, and I believe many pleasers are in the one of the accepted realm. Not good or bad. You just have to understand it, and do something about it.

So, here’s the thing. As I was working on this new program I’m putting together, called ‘Stress Busters,’ I really figured out something that I don’t know why it took me so long, but I figured it out, and that’s that, a lot of pleasers can’t say ‘NO’ because they think it’s impolite, because they think it’s harsh and it’s rude and the truth is, it can be. So, I’ve created what I’m calling that, ‘Not for Me Method.’ This is an interim method. It’s like strength training you have to practice till you can lift the heavy weights, where you have to practice till you can finally say the real ‘NO’ and mean it and people will listen.

So, here’s what you do, this is the ‘Not for Me Method’ right? Okay. So, if somebody says, ‘Will you take on a new project?’ And you want to say ‘NO,’but you think that’s impolite or I’m giving you another direct report and you want to say, ‘No, can’t handle any more’ or there’s another meeting and you’re going to say, ‘No, I have too much’ or ‘Are you making dinner tonight?’ You want to say ‘No, you have two hands to go make dinner or we have to do this for the kids,’ and you’re saying, ‘No, not right now.’ Anyway, this is the interim. Okay, take a pause. Take a breath when somebody says something ‘NO.’

Here’s the polite way. We want to be polite. So, the first thing when somebody says something is, you say, ‘Thanks or thank you.’ That’s polite right? We don’t teach people to say thank you. So, you’re going to say, ‘Thank you,’ and then you’re going to say, here’s the sentence: ‘This is just not the right time for me. Thank you, this is just not the right time for me,’ or ‘Thanks, that doesn’t work for me now and practice it.’ I promise you you’re going to be able to say it with more conviction than just saying the ‘NO,’ just saying a plain ‘NO,’ and once you do that, it frees something up. You please is because pleasers in my model, transform into truth-tellers. More about that in the ‘Stress Busters’ stuff.

So, you’re gonna let go of those horrible feelings of guilt and overwhelm and obligation. You’re just gonna say, ‘Thank you, that won’t work for me right now.’ It’s better than just that brute ‘No.’ So, that’s what I’m giving you today and if you’d like more information, DM me. If you have questions, put them down at the bottom of this.

Love to hear from you. Love to have communication, going back and forth and pleasers. I promise you, I promise you, I wrote this very powerfully here because I want you to get that. Once you do this, you will have more room, more freedom, more energy for things you love to do. So, give it a shot and have a beautiful day.

Thank you so much.

Business Leadership Leadership Strategies

Here’s How to Avoid the 5 Basic Mistakes That Create Job Stress

Do you ever just wish that you could have a moratorium on change? That maybe, just for a month you could count on things staying the same? That you could depend on your work colleagues to show up and do their jobs so you could do yours? That sales would percolate and products get shipped on time? And yet, that’s not the way it is.

We all seem to be overdosed on change.

Change is the bedfellow of stress. Each day there is something new, exciting or challenging to keep us on our toes. And many of us are sick and tired of the ambiguity and uncertainty that makes us go home tired, burned out, defeated.

High daily outside pressure can lead to high daily internal pressure and voila, stress enters uninvited.

A study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine indicates that job burnout is a strong predictor of coronary heart disease and high stress leads to wear and tear and eventually weakens the body.

Stress, due to constant change, is the hot word in today’s work world.

To stay healthy and meet today’s business challenges with poise and power you need to look at the following check list and make sure you have the basic areas covered.

Mistakes lead to hypertension, poor sleep patterns and lousy relationships. So, pay attention.

Escape from reality: Your body wants to use old, outdated tactics of fight, flight or freeze to battle change. Won’t work. You can duke it out, and change will still win, leaving you exhausted. You can run but there’s nowhere to hide. You can stay put and change will happen all around you anyway.

Blame someone else: Upper management asking too much of you or direct reports slacking off. Maybe so. Are you looking for protection from the heavy load or blaming those who are not paying attention to your burden? The more you “should” on others as the culprits the longer it takes to get the results you want.

Time is the enemy: You are willing to change and get the work done. That’s the spirit. Except you want to do it on your personal schedule. You think you will feel less stress when you can spread out the project so you have more time to prepare. Won’t happen. When you resist the pace, you fight the impossible. Time is the constant, it won’t change. It’s up to you to move faster and resist less.

Work harder not smarter: Shifting your mindset is the monumental task. That’s where the real work is. Once you look around you and begin to create new patterns of reacting you can reduce stress and increase efficiency. Adapting to the newest technology or even asking for help when you never did in the past is the way. If you think adapting is tough, not adapting is tougher. Just ask a dinosaur.

No tolerance for course correction: Just in the middle of the project, when all seems to be going well, change changes its mind. This is the time to pivot, to improvise, to laugh at the impossibility of it all, to bounce and create a mid-course correction. The more you balk at the inevitable the more stress will sabotage success.

Making stress work for you takes personal initiative.

Over the top stress won’t go away. You need to be the master of your fate and make sure you are the stress master of your own destiny. It’s okay to get angry, rail your fist against the situation, however, only for a minute. Then admit you need to surrender to change and find new ways of responding.

Resistance to change is the biggest enemy of success.

Start to observe and manage your own behavior more effectively. Look at what triggers your upset and stop. Stop, breathe, pivot.

Yes, stop, decide to be the master of your reactivity not the servant of your old, outdated behavior. Then you and change become colleagues rather than adversaries. That’s the foundation of successful stress management.

Leadership Leadership Strategies

3 Habits of Naive Leaders

Stupid leaders are a dime a dozen.

What they do looks the same through the centuries. Here’s what Cicero, Roman politician and lawyer who served as consul in 63 BC had to say, “Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.”

Habit #1: Repetition. You know the saying that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. Henry Ford, Mark Twain and Tony Robbins have been credited with this thought. Take your pick, they are all creative innovators, the opposite of stupid leaders.

When a leader fails to embrace a culture of change and innovation you end up with stagnation and pattern repetition.

Pattern repetition will bring down the best of ideas and people. Think of it this way. The passion of work is to be a creative problem solver. Once you solve a problem you get to a new one and the excitement and challenge is positive.

However, if you keep facing the same problem over and over, you have hit a pattern.When the tendency is to repeat foolish, ineffective, or self-destructive behavior, you are in the realm of stupid.

Habit#2: Avoidance. The tendency to look away or leave a situation that is uncomfortable is one of the major attributes of stupid leaders. They especially avoid conflict and as American philosopher Elbert Hubbard said, “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.”

Avoiders know what is going on, they simply prefer to let others tackle the dissention. In meetings, an avoider will leave when the situation begins to heat up. They will tell their second in command to handle the situation and only enter conversations when things have come to a happy conclusion.

While there is always an opportunity for growth and development, becoming self- aware is disruptive and stupid leaders let their fears keep them from engaging.

Habit#3 Denial: This group of stupid leaders are the true “Not Sees.” They pretend the world is great, business is wonderful and all is fine with the world. They do not have back-up plans and insist that the bottom- line will always be in the black.

Denying what is going on will not make it go away, it ensures that it will never be resolved.

These stupid leaders will always point fingers at others for not telling them the truth and when the truth is told they will pretend they never heard what was said and spend their time defending their position and blaming others for, well, for everything that can’t be seen through rose colored glasses.

Policies and procedures are often appropriate to the times in which they were created. However, by repeating, avoiding, or denying that times have changed and everything must be re-examined, stupid leadership gets even worse. Stupidity becomes mental blindness.

Help stupid leaders become smart ones. Speak up, speak out, stay centered and strong. Turn on the lights to look at our fast- paced digital world. Read books like Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe. Better yet. Read it and give it to a stupid boss.

The cure for stupid is communication and compassion.

Disrupt the traditional rules that no longer work. Help everyone begin to see with new eyes, see what they are afraid to see. You, right now, become the type of leader the world needs now. It’s about you, it’s about me and it’s about time.



Leadership Leadership Strategies

These are the Best and Worst Things About Success

Let’s start with a short quiz:

What’s the best thing about workplace success?

A. You get more money.

B. You get more recognition.

C. You get more work.

If you answered “A,” you are on the right track. Workplace success usually translates to earning more money. If you’re like most people, you want a financial reward for hard work. However, recognition and power are right up there, too. Money, coupled with power, makes people salivate. You could probably think of any number of celebrities who live their lives basking in these two categories.

Are they really the lucky ones? In a sense, yes; however, dark clouds are often on the horizon.

The answer that causes the most angst is, “C.” The more you succeed, the more that is expected of you. The more you climb that ladder of success, the happier you are…that is, until you hit the “Peter Principle.”

This idea has been around for a long time. It’s when you keep receiving promotions because your skills are exemplary and then one day you are at the top of your career. The cycle continues and you get promoted again and suddenly, you are at a loss about what to do.

Enter success stress.

Once you go too far past your skills base and you’re in uncharted territory, all the money and all the recognition in the world becomes null and void.

Look, good engineers know how to engineer; accountants know how to count; pharmacists know their pills; physicians know the body; marketers know the market…you get the idea.

What causes most success stress? It’s the people, sweetheart. Managing people is a whole different world than knowing how to code, count, or create an emoji.

No matter how accomplished you are, how much your technical skills are valued, it’s the people part that causes workplace conflict that will often bring even the smartest people to their knees.

Office politics, human resource hassles, and legal issues, can lead to emotional burnout and turn success into unimaginable stress.

As you have climbed high perfecting your entrepreneurial symphony, think of all the people you bring with you. No longer possible to play it solo, now you have a whole orchestra behind you. And I bet, you wish all those now working next to or near you, would leave their anger, sob stories, excuses, petty jealousies, procrastination, and bravado at the door and just get their work done.

It’s not so easy being successful.

And guess what, their upsets and burdens lend themselves to having your own insecurities and frustrations rear their annoying little heads.

All is not lost, however – success stress can be stopped right in its tracks. It depends on how willing you are to learn the very basic rules of people management. There are 13 very common behavior patterns that show up at work and make people nuts.

Your job, is to point out the patterns that get in the way of collaboration and help those who look to you for guidance, transform the outdated habits to ones that make the day fun and positive.

Take for example, the drama king or queen, one of the key patterns in the book, “Don’t Bring It to Work.” Do you have one (or a few) in your employ? They’re the folks who have hissy fits over nonsense and waste important time. You can ignore them or pretend them away; however, they make the workplace an emotional wasteland…talk about success stress!

They can damage your reputation, the reputation of the company, and even worse, can be the source of ugly lawsuits.

Take the time to learn about pattern transformation and help steer these divas away from dumping on your emotions to using their emotions for the good of the group.

Once you tackle the source of success stress, you can once again focus on shaking the money tree and exuding positive power from a productive team.

Now, take a moment to sit in the sun, chill for a bit, and make the most of your success!

Leadership Leadership Strategies

How to Use Your Survival Brain to Shift Yourself to Greatness

You, entrepreneur, were blazing new trails, creativity oozing from every pore, with tons of energy and excitement.

And then one day, in the blink of an eye, you changed from a positive, magnetic visionary to a micromanaging, distrustful, controlling, angry, perfectionist monster.

And if this isn’t you, I bet you know someone who did the Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde turnaround. Could be your employer, your business partner, or your love partner.

You shake your head and ask, “What the heck happened?”

Big question is: How does someone shift from great to gruesome and how can the curse be reversed?

Look, there are multiple negative characteristics in all of us. And much of the time we can keep them under control. That’s when we behave in mature, responsible, and positive ways. Then something happens and our old survival brain takes over.

Instead of calm, you become frenzied. Instead of curious, you become indifferent. Instead of courageous, you become cowardly.

And once you start down the lane of negative emotions, self-sabotage is the rule of the day. You start to say things you will regret later. You point fingers and blame others. Your survival brain seems to loop around itself and negativity breeds negativity.

In fact, when you become unhappy and see the rain without any rainbows, here’s what happens: cortisol becomes king. Elevated levels of this stress hormone interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function, heightened blood pressure and lots of other bad things for your health.

Way back in 1936, Austrian biochemist Hans Selye, began to dissect stress and what it does to our bodies and minds. He defined two types of stress: eustress, which is the good kind that keeps us focused and ready for challenges, and distress, which is the bad kind that makes us turn gruesome.

Both types of stress release cortisol and you become ready for action. On one hand, you can “carpe diem” and seize the day. That’s the true entrepreneur in you. Take charge and find the solution and calm your thumping heart. Cortisol levels will return to normal.

Then there is the distress, that’s when the negativity and free floating anxiety point you to self- sabotage.

The way out is available, so pay attention.

You need to be mindful and take charge of your thoughts. Positive Intelligence (PQ) and Pattern Awareness (PA) create the magic combination.

Here’s a simple brain exercise to get you back into the groove from good to great and away from gruesome.

First, it’s up to you to take charge. You command your brain to shift attention. Write the word shift on your computer. Put the word on your bathroom mirror and on your refrigerator.


That’s your power word. When you command your mind to stop its negative chatter and direct your attention elsewhere, you are on your way to a healthier body, and better emotions.

Think about how you have planted your feet on the ground, or think about the delicious orange you were getting ready to eat. No matter what, simply shift your attention for the count of 10. You see, research shows that every time you make the shift and do a mental repetition, you are really strengthening the muscles of your positive intelligence brain.

And every time you observe the pattern you want to change it has less of a stronghold on you.

Make this part of your daily regime and you will be able to tackle even the most annoying situations in a more agreeable manner.

Leadership Leadership Strategies

Being Pushy is Good For You, Here’s Why…

What if you’ve gone too far in your comments about someone? What if you’ve been called out for being excessive in challenging others in a meeting? What if you have been shunned after you mocked a colleague?

Our world of extremes is starting to backfire. Don’t get caught in the tidal wave of seeing how confrontational and crass you can be. It may work for a short time if your organization is obscure. However, after that…well, just ask Toyota and Volkswagen about backlash.

The idea that bad press is better than no press is getting old. You’d be better off learning new ways of getting your name out there.

Take it from Isaac Newton. He knew.

Physics 101 gives us Newton’s third law that states: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Forces always occur in pairs, when one body pushes against another, the second body pushes back just as hard.

When you need to push back rather, think push forward. In pushing back, you just do the old “eye for an eye” thing as perfectly stated in the famous Gandhi quote, “an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

Instead, do the 5 things below.

These excellent strategies will help you express your point of view without causing more ugly conflict.

  1. Separate the person from the point of view: Challenge what is said, not who the person is. Be clear about disagreeing with what is said and push forward by asking questions, rather than making blanket statements to prove the person wrong.
  2. No flooding: Resist the tendency to put all things the other has said into the present discussion. Bite your tongue when you are ready to say, “and furthermore…” or, “you always…” or, “everyone else thinks…”
  3. Offer solutions: Be prepared with at least three perspectives that could help solve the problem at hand. Go beyond disagreeing by offering some ideas on what can be done that will open a new path of possibilities.
  4. Stay with positives: Condition yourself to use the “yes, and” way of discussing, rather than the “yes, but” more combative way of taking a stand. Practice using “and,” a word that connects, rather than inhibits. It guarantees more openness when you are in a push back/push forward situation.
  5. Know when to stop: You can’t win them all, at least not at the exact moment you are in debate. Some battles are better lost while you keep the larger view in mind. Concede with grace and respect and wait until the timing is more appropriate.

Speaking up to express your opinion often takes courage and vulnerability. Leadership development training is a lifelong process, and knowing when to speak out and when to shut up, is an important art and craft for today’s business world.

Pushing forward, as opposed to pushing back, means rocking the boat, ruffling feathers, and getting out of the comfort zone. It especially means considering your impact on those around you, and the long-range impact of your actions.

Remember Newton’s law, and be prepared for others to disagree. That’s expected. However, if you stay clear and open to hear others, it’s disarming. You can’t push your opinions down someone’s throat, that’s the old way.

The most important aspect of being pushy is to build trust by being candid and sharing original thoughts. You can do better when you push forward by including others, rather than being determined to get your point of view on top.

Leadership Leadership Strategies

How to Ease Conflict by Knowing the Difference Between Facts and Emotions

Facts are married to emotion. As a leader, it’s your job to ask the right questions that lead to what the key issues are. The natural tendency for most people is to deflect the real reasons for hurt and feeling discounted. It’s the emotions that will resolve the conflict, not just the facts.

Here’s what happens in just about every office on the planet when conflict rears its ugly head:

  • Gossip increases
  • Paranoia surges
  • People feel overused
  • People feel undervalued
  • Cliques develop
  • Physical ailments intensify
  • Humor is biting and nasty

If tasked with the responsibility to get past the tensions and anxiety, you will, naturally, want to get a quick solution. It’s what most of us do much of the time.

Stop. That’s a mistake. This is when it takes courage to discuss the elephant in the room. It’s not easy, yet, the effect is longer lasting.

First, you lead by taking a deep breath and slowing down the talk. Literally, slow down…pause, reflect, and then speak. And when you do talk, your best approach, is to guide everyone by asking open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

You use the investigative method of excellent journalism by making people accountable for their part in the situation. Ask “how, why, when,” and especially ask the king of questions, “What do you want as an outcome of this meeting?”

Think of a basketball game for a moment. Both teams are shooting wildly, sometimes shooting the ball right into the hoop, other times just getting it to the rim. Then you, yes you, get the ball and slow it down, on purpose. Slow it down just enough to regroup and get a clearer view of what is going on, so the frenzy can stop.

You see, when conflict is escalated, the natural tendency is to get it over with as fast as possible, get as many points across as possible, and win the argument, much like the desire to land as many baskets as possible, as fast as possible, to win.

After you slow down the responses, the next and most important way to handle conflict, is to listen for tonality.

You need to trust your intuition here. You will be right, more than not. For example, when someone says, “That never bothers me,” and what you are really hearing is, “I feel embarrassed and angry,” ask that person to say more. Don’t just glide over it.

Don’t let people simply react and point at others merely using facts. If you simply rely on facts, you will never get to the deeper feelings lying just beneath the facts – feelings of being discounted, undervalued, made to feel foolish.

Once someone begins to tell the emotional truth, not merely the fact truth, real progress can be made.

Once someone says, “Maybe I was too harsh,” or “maybe it was inconsiderate,” the frozen quality in the room begins to thaw.

In my experience as an executive coach and team facilitator, I have seen remarkable changes occur once the first person (how about you) connects the emotions to the facts.

For example, when John says something never bothers him, and you say, “If that had happened to me, I would have felt really discounted,” just that, may be enough to slow things down and get to the heart of the matter.

Facts and emotions are a package deal. You, as a leader, will be in the strongest position when you help everyone begin to acknowledge the real feelings that go with the data. Then, “he said, she said,” has deeper meaning and honest exchanges will lead to long-term success.

Leadership Leadership Strategies

4 Ways You Can Check Your Competency

Did you know that at least 80% of business leaders think they have above-average abilities? Most score themselves higher than their peers or direct reports do on feedback questionnaires.

That leads to one of the biggest issues in today’s business climate. The tendency is to focus on strength-based perspectives and put weaknesses on the back burner. Not a good idea, in my opinion.

The next issue that causes leaders to get stuck is the lack of honest feedback. This is mostly because of fear of recrimination or revenge.

Casey Stengel, the famous and astute former manager of the New York Yankees, said what many of today’s leaders still espouse, “The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided.”

A well-known leader I recently began to coach, follows that Stengel motto. He’s pure charisma and charm. When he called me from a small office in his company headquarters, he was whispering. It took a few minutes to decipher what the real issue was.

Finally, he admitted that he was scared to come out and meet with his leadership team. Apparently, the undecided ones were siding with those who were angry and disappointed in his performance.

There was to be an “intervention” and my guy (who was just at the edges of becoming self-aware) didn’t want to hear what had to be said.

He was looking for an escape hatch and hoped I would figure a way he could avoid the off-the-cuff meeting that was about to happen.

Charisma was his strong suit and conflict was his Achilles heel.

Hey, do you know the story of Achilles?

“To prevent the death of her son, his mother, Thetis, took Achilles to the River Styx, which was supposed to offer powers of invulnerability, and dipped his body into the water. However, as mom held her son by the heel, it was the only part of his body not washed over by the magical river.”

And that’s what we live with today. No matter how capable you are. No matter how sure you feel, there’s always something that is weak and needs attention and strengthening.

Whether you are a coach, in Human Resources, or you are courageous enough to look at yourself in the mirror, warts and all, here is what you need to consider:

  1. Check for patterns: If something repeats and repeats no matter what you do, it’s not a problem, it’s a pattern. Consider if you are an avoider of conflict, like my client, or a victim who is always taking it on the chin, or a drama queen or king who eats up all the air time. These patterns will get in the way of long-term success. I’ve seen it over and over. However, when you take a good look and transform the pattern to its positive opposite, you are on the way to next-level success. An avoider becomes an initiator of discussions, a victim becomes an explorer of options, and a drama person becomes a valuable storyteller.
  2. Check your intention: Did you become the best and the brightest because you love what you do and you’re really smart? Or, are you still pleasing mom or dad by showing how amazing you are? You’d be surprised how many people are still looking for praise in all the wrong places. That kind of success will eventually backfire and leave you feeling like a jerk. You can’t get strong unless you know the underlying reasons you are doing what you are doing.
  3. Check your retention: This is about data and logic. Look at the numbers. Do you have lots of staff turnover? How is the bottom-line holding up? When people leave a company, they are prone to hold back the truth. The numbers, however, tell a tale of their own. Here you need to take a deep breath and not get caught in making them wrong and you right.
  4. Check for feedback: Here’s what to do. Find someone you are uncomfortable with. Invite them for coffee. Start slow and build up to asking for some feedback. This is called a pattern interrupt. Whoever you invite for coffee will be surprised (you can take that information to the bank) and maybe, just maybe, tell you some truths you need to hear. No fake feedback here. Just some honest conversation. Go ahead, you can do it.

You have insecurities. I don’t know exactly what they are and I bet you don’t either. I just know you have them. Like Achilles, that heel didn’t get dipped in the magic water of the River Styx. Admit them, be real, be vulnerable.

Now, that’s real strength.


Leadership Leadership Strategies

Leadership Lessons from Top Leaders

As children, we look at our parents and teachers to understand life. Sometimes the advice we get is really good. Other times, we must do a full turn around and get on another, more positive path.

Learning from the best and following in their footsteps, is another vastly productive way of moving from good to great. That’s what gurus like Tony Robbins teach. He had to leave behind the negative methods of his family and find others to emulate.

Many of us came from families where we learned what NOT to do. Now, learn what you CAN do to make your life more vibrant and fulfilling.

Here are two of the most forward-thinking individuals that can show you behavior patterns that will keep you at the forefront of your work life.

I picked Jobs and Musk because they stand apart from the multitude of good and competent leaders, they are exemplary models of courage and because of that, they have brought new ways of thinking into all our lives.

If you see yourself in this category, I suggest you take just one of the following behaviors and spend time literally practicing to mastery. Once you get the hang of one of these, move onto the next. Soon, you will find a strength inside that will surprise you.

Here are the patterns that are vital for creators and pioneers.

Don’t want to do it alone? Get a coach or read everything you can get your hands on about the topic you pick.

  1. Learn a lot about a lot: Curiosity is at the core of creativity. Jobs took what he learned from the fine art of calligraphy into designing the amazing beauty of Apple products. Who would have guessed? Musk was a science-fiction devotee and that helped him see new worlds, even leading him to the possible reality of riding rockets to Mars. Ready to fly with him?
  2. Be decisive: Don’t let others rain on your parade. Stay true to your dreams. You may need to keep the most impossible ones to yourself or surround yourself with other pioneers that will not judge your yearning to be free. Good, if you have a garage like Jobs did, or a brother like Musk has, so you can keep focused on growth and possibilities.
  3. Take risks: Drop out of school or quit a meaningless job if you are called to the open road. Do what you need to do even if your more traditional family members or friends are shaking their heads. Jobs left Reed College and somehow, he found his way. Musk went to Canada with little money and few contacts to find his new way. The foundation of taking risks is believing in yourself. Tell yourself you can do it. Make it a practice to stand firm in what you need to do, no matter what.
  4. Accept failure: Failure is feedback from the universe. You need to pay attention. If you fail once, it may just be a mistake that needs correction. However, if you keep making the same mistake over and over, my friend, you have a pattern. That means, you need to look more deeply at what must be redesigned. Fear of failure is often an ego thing. So, when you fail, ask yourself the questions, “Who am I disappointing, or who do I hope to impress?” Once you can face failure, you can make the changes needed in lightning speed and move on. Jobs had to look at how his adoption played a role in his relationships and what happened if he was criticized. Musk, who was bullied as a kid in South Africa, tends to fight back as if his life depends on it. For both, acknowledging failure and learning from it is mandatory.
  5. Avoid being mediocre: It takes determination to stand out from the masses.That means, developing a strong outer core, so that those afraid of change who want to see you trip and fall, and fall hard, cannot stop you. Find people who are unique and hang out with them. Go to networking events and find the people who are outspoken and talk with them. Take adventure trips for vacation instead of going to a comfortable beach and chilling. Both Jobs and Musk have taken the road less traveled. Find your own special road and get going.

Remember, pick one of the above and focus on it for at least three months, then go on to the next. Soon, you’ll be on firm ground to follow your dream from idea to completion.

Leadership Leadership Strategies

How Successful Leaders can Build Better Self-Awareness

In today’s hectic world, taking the time to ask yourself, “Who am I?” and even more so, “Who am I in relationship to those around me?” often gets put on the “do it tomorrow” short list.

Remember, everything you say and do, can affect those around you. Being self-aware, allows you to manage your actions and reactions and not be at the mercy of repeating nasty behavior patterns that get in the way of success.

Not a good idea to wait.

Those who win the long-term game of life, spend time in reflection. No, not days on a mountain (although that can be good, too). It would be more about spending a few minutes each day to practice the habit of self-awareness.

First, the quiz – next, we’ll discuss 5 ways to help build your self-awareness habit.

Grab a piece of paper and answer the following 10 questions, scoring each with “0“, “1“, or “2” per the following key:

0 – Nope, not me

1 – Well, sorta

2 – Yup, that’s me

  1. I see praising others as kissing-up.
  2. I don’t hold back when I am upset.
  3. I prefer to ignore people I find annoying.
  4. I love to get people to agree with me.
  5. I use the voting technique to prove “they all” agree with me.
  6. I hold onto anger for days after the problem is discussed.
  7. I like to point out mistakes that others make, so they can learn from me.
  8. I listen to others without interrupting.
  9. I avoid conflict by changing the subject, or leaving the room.
  10. I love to get feedback without becoming defensive.

Start counting:

0-6: You have a good sense of self-awareness and are sensitive to the needs and wants of those around you. You have high emotional intelligence and good pattern awareness.

7-13: You are on the road and yet, need to stop and listen to yourself more often. Your edit button must be turned on all the time, especially when someone pushes you to emotional upset.

14+: Get a coach as fast as you can. You are going to shoot yourself in the foot and never realize it was you who pulled the trigger. You will miss the best that relationships offer by staying in the blame game, which is such a waste of time.

Now, here are 5 ways to help build your self-awareness muscles:

  • One thought each day: Start your morning with a commitment to do one, and only one thing, to shift to a new way of relating. For example, decide today you will give praise to those you talk with. Something small is fine. However, find something to say to whoever, on the train, plane, on the phone, through email or text. Even if you feel stupid or weird, do it anyway.
  • Speak from your “I”: Practice talking about how YOU feel. No, this isn’t’ narcissistic (well, maybe just a bit). You’re not talking about yourself to brag and prove how good you are (now, that’s narcissistic), you are simply owning your own behavior. An example is, “I think I may have reacted too quickly and didn’t listen clearly enough.” Got it?
  • See opportunities, not obstacles: Practice talking about what you think can make things work better. No, not being a happiness addict, I mean, focus on what can be done, rather than what is constantly not working. Find ways to put words like ‘hope’ and ‘possibility’ in your sentences and especially, “How can I help?”
  • Decide what giving 100% means: Don’t make yourself into a pretzel. You can’t be self-aware if you’re tied in “KNOTS” and “NOTS.” Practice saying, “Yes, I can” and “no, I can’t” and remember only you can decide what makes real sense to you.
  • Stay curious: Create rapport by asking people about their lives. I don’t mean pry into their incomes or their sex lives, I mean find out what makes them want to get up in the morning, or as Simon Sinek so smartly asks, “What is your why?” Then give praise and start all over again.

All the great philosophers agree, being self-aware and how you affect those around you, is key to real growth and development. In ancient Egypt, above the entrance of each temple is inscribed, “Know Thyself.” That thought has lasted thousands of years, so pay attention.