5 Tips to Achieving your 2014 Resolutions

Happy New Year!! Ahhh, the New Year.  Time to answer the age-old dreaded question…”What’s your New Year’s Resolution?”  The Couch Potato says, “I’d like to lose 28 pounds and run a 5K…in March.”  Uummm, hmmm, ok.  The Jaded One says, “I don’t believe in resolutions.  It’s just another day.”  Oh, well, ok.  Then there are the Greater Middle.  We want to lose weight, get fit, save money, enjoy life, etc. etc. etc.

Déjà vu?  Didn’t we all say that LAST YEAR?  Worry not!  This year CAN be different.  Here are my five tips to achieving this year’s resolution.

#5 – Accountability Buddy – We need some skin in the game!  If you just think about what you want to change and improve, there’s no risk in failing.  No one else will know, right?  C’mon, I don’t know about you, but I can rationalize just about anything that disrupts my comfort.  Find someone who will hold you accountable and see through the BS you’re dishin!

#4 – Clear Measurements – Those wishy-washy, half-assed, conveniently vague resolutions are lame.  “I just want to be healthier” or “I just want to love more” are weak UNLESS you have clear and concrete measurements.  You must answer the HOW then answer it again and again and again.  How do you want to be healthier?  Lose weight. How are you going to go about doing that?  Working out at the gym. How often will you go to the gym? 4 times a week. How are you going to measure your progress? BMI and weight loss. See where this is going?

#3 – Make it Fun – If you didn’t work out for 9 of the 12 months last year, what on earth is going to make that different this year?  It’s got to be fun.  If you hate vegetables, that’s not the route to take to lose weight.  If you love Designer purses, vowing to give them up isn’t going to save you money (because you’ll buy them anyway).  Like jumping on a trampoline?  That’s a great workout…get one.  Wanna save money? Brown bag your lunch and make your own damn coffee for eight or twelve weeks, then reward yourself with the Coach bag you would have bought anyway!

#2 – Several Small Steps – Resolutions have become a pass/fail test.  So if you committed to working out 4 days a week, then skip one, or two, you have now FAILED!  Game Over!  Maybe next year.  Where are the cheese and crackers? Stop this!  Make a list of several small steps you can take every day that contribute to your ultimate goal.  If your fuzzy, wishy-washy goal was to be healthier, make a list of actions that contribute to this.  Eat a healthy breakfast, walk for 20 minutes every day, eat a salad as one of your meals, etc.  This way, if you skip some, you’ve got others that you’ve accomplished, so you don’t feel like a total failure.

#1 – Resolve to Succeed Program – A little self-promotion here…This program that I’ve designed will do all of the above and TONS MORE!! This customized 90 day coaching program will ensure that you achieve your resolutions and goals this year and give you a framework to achieve any others going forward.  Bottom line- I am going to bust my ass making sure your goals become your accomplishments! Here’s the link to learn more:  http://authenticlifechronicles.com/services/resolve-to-succeed-program/

Ultimately, if you are in the great minority and can follow the first 4, you can make this happen for yourself.  But if you suspect that you will rationalize yourself right out of it, (raise your hand if you’ve been there!) then check out #1 and enroll in my program!  No matter what, I wish you NOTHING BUT SUCCESS in 2014!!

Share below your resolutions and the steps you’re going to take to achieve them!

When ‘It’s All About Me’ Isn’t a Bad Thing

It’s tough being you, isn’t it?  Think for a moment of all the people who rely on you:  Partners, kids, parents, siblings, bosses, co-workers, customers, clients, friends, family and neighbors.  Did I miss anyone?  Are you sure?? I didn’t miss ANYONE???  What about YOU? Do you rely on yourself?  Of course you do!  But how often do you take action on something that serves only you?

Would you run a marathon without preparing your body for it with proper nutrition and exercise? Of course not, yet, isn’t this what you do in life?  You serve all these people, subsisting on caffeine, skipped meals (or fast food if you’re lucky), and minimal sleep.

The word “Selfish” has really been dragged through the mud.  Its connotation is always negative.  Yet, what are you advised to do in an emergency landing of an airplane?  That’s right…place your oxygen mask on BEFORE assisting others.  Nobody is holding up the “Selfish” sign then; they’re too busy getting oxygen!

Giving is important.  Helping others is crucial to feeling contributory.  But you can’t run this marathon of good will if you aren’t taking care of yourself.  This means doing things that directly support you and your well-being.   There are some rules though:

  1. Schedule It – You have to make it part of your day. Every day. Some days it may only be 15 minutes, but do not skip it.
  2. Give Yourself Permission – You can’t waiver on this.  We all have those ‘bottom feeders’ in our Pond of Life, who will take and take and take.  You have to stand up for yourself despite the complaints of these scavengers.
  3. Communicate – Those around you need to know when “You Time” is.  This way they know you are not to be interrupted, barring an absolute emergency.  If that 30 minute bubble bath is your time, make sure your housemates know to keep out.
  4. Don’t Justify – Finally, don’t feel like you need to justify this time to every person in your life.  Sharing this information should be on a “need to know” basis.  A simple, “I’m sorry, I’m not available then…” will suffice.

Energy is like a muscle.  In Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz’s book, “The Power of Full Engagement”, they liken energy, and the need to recharge, to physical muscles.  Overuse of a muscle without allowing enough time for recovery results in soreness, swelling and potential injury.  The same is true with the energy you expend serving others.  Without recharging, you are risking your own health and well-being.

So whether your selfish recharging is 30 minutes of reading, a night out with friends, cooking with the family or a 3 day weekend alone in a cabin, just own it.  C’mon…all those people are relying on you to be your BEST you…they deserve your best, but more importantly, YOU deserve your best. Comment below how you like to recharge and spend your You Time.

5 EASY Steps to Achieving Your Goals

Goals.  We all have them.  Things we’d like to do or accomplish or have.  We think of them regularly.  Perhaps daydream about what it would look like if they actually happened.  We talk about them to others.  We write them down….oh, wait.  Well, we don’t “write them down” exactly, but we know what they are.

So what’s your goal.  The first one that comes to mind.  Mmmm hmmmm, I see.  And how long have you had this goal?  1 year? 3 years? 5 years? 10 years? MORE???  I understand.  It’s just life has been busy, right?  Kids, relationships, careers, parents.  Sure, I get it.  But someday.  Once life settles down a bit…

See where I’m going with this?  Thinking about it is not enough; fantasizing about it is not enough; dreaming about it is not enough.  You need to BE about it.  Make it happen.  ACT on it.

It’s not a GOAL if you aren’t acting on it.  It’s a thought.  And we have about a kazillion of those a day.  Regardless of whether your goal is to get a better job, house, body or relationship, it isn’t going to happen if you don’t start putting more energy into making it happen.

 

STEP #1 – This is both the hardest and the easiest step: Write it down.  Specifically.  With a reasonable deadline.  By reasonable I mean not overly optimistic, but still a little aggressive.

STEP #2 – Now that you wrote down the Goal, write down all the steps that have to be taken towards achieving it.  So, for example, if you’d like a nicer home, list all of the tasks you have to complete to prepare your current home for sale.  If you’re looking to get in shape and lose 20 pounds, you might list tasks such as: eliminate all tempting goodies from the cabinets, get a gym membership, etc.

STEP #3 – Create a calendar and mark check-in dates and what you should have accomplished by that point.  So again, if you’re looking to purchase a nicer home and your Goal Accomplished date is one year from now, you could do a check-in date on the 1st of every month with a list of tasks you should have completed by that point.  This will keep you on track and allow you to pat yourself on the back at each milestone.

STEP #4 – Get Going! Start taking action on your plans.  And DON’T fall into the “I’m being patient” trap.  Patience, when exercised properly, is still action.  It’s slowing or pulling back, strategizing and planning, not shutting down all cylinders.  Start accomplishing the tasks and milestones.  Skip that TV show and do some research, create a Visual Board with pictures that motivate you to achieve this Goal. (You can do this through Pinterest and Polyvore, just Google them.)

STEP #5 – Post your goal all over the place.  Make it the screen saver on your smart phone, I-Pad, Laptop, Desktop.  Put it in your car, in your frig, in your medicine cabinet, in your desk drawer and anywhere else you can think of.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!! This step will be what gets you through the process when the initial excitement wears off.  Publicize your intent with anyone that will listen.  Use the people in your life to help you achieve it.  NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF YOUR GOAL! (I’m not yelling so much as speaking with excitement!)

I will leave you with a great quote:

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”  -Napoleon Hill 

Now tell me in the comments section…what is your goal?

Tell Me How You Earned that Victim Badge (Said No One Ever)

You got screwed again, huh?  Ripped off? Robbed? Wronged? Overlooked? What the freak? Why do these things always happen to you? You haven’t done anything to cause them.  What else could go wrong?

We all wrap this Victim Snuggie around us from time to time, with a big ol’ carton of ice cream and a Lifetime movie on.  That’s alright…occasionally!!  It’s when we choose to wear the Victim Badge that will have people sprinting as if at a Bull Run.  The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different outcome.  Coincidentally, that’s also the prerequisite for wearing the Victim Badge.

I always cringe when I hear, “What else could go wrong?”  I mean, if I were the Universe, I would see that as a challenge too!  There are true victims out there, people who are wronged through no fault or contribution of their own.  Then there are the rest of us.

In every interaction and exchange you have with others, you are contributing something.  If the “same stuff” keeps happening over and over again, you need to look at the common denominator…that’s you my friend.  Of course you can look at the world as if there are villains out there whose job it is to mess things up for you; or you can see what adjustments you can make to start changing the outcomes.

For instance, you cook, you clean, you taxi, you organize, etc. etc.  You may find yourself frequently complaining, “nobody appreciates all that I do around here”.   That may be true, but remove that badge and TELL them all that you do and HOW you want them to show appreciation.  If it’s become too overwhelming for you, divvy up the duties.  However, if you enjoy doing these things, but would appreciate some “thank you’s”, than say so.

Another example might be that you don’t feel like anyone listens to you.  Ask yourself how you could be contributing to that.  Record yourself having a conversation.  Then listen back.  What are you saying? Are you being negative or whiny? Are you using “I”, “me”, and “my” throughout?

Do you find yourself in the same types of relationships?  Do you pick partners that ultimately disappoint you?  Time to look within.  Find the similarities between these relationships (how they began, what attracted you to them, how they began to decline, how they ended) and start looking at what you could do differently.

I understand that wearing that Victim Badge likely makes a person feel highly significant.  The more struggles they’ve faced, the more times they’ve survived after being wronged is supposed to show how brave and strong they are, right?  Not so much.

The Badge Wearing Victims tend to provide an accounting of every bad thing that has happened to them.  This is often communicated through the alternate use of sarcasm and bewilderment.  They don’t typically share how they overcame issues and got out of their own way (likely because they haven’t).

So take off that Victim Badge and replace it with a Badge of Victory.  Life wasn’t meant to just be survived, it was meant to be conquered!! Then ask the Universe, “What else could go right today?”  I’m betting the universe will see that as a challenge as well!

I’d love your comments below!!

If you would like to partner up and work on living a life by design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

 

Communication – 7 Tips to Proving You’ve Evolved

So many bad things happen simply because of miscommunication or lack of communication.  You know when you’re watching a movie and the characters are clearly not sharing all the necessary information with each other and you’re sitting there like, “Tell him!” or “Don’t let her walk away!”?  There are ways to avoid these situations.  Despite the tendency of some, there is no need to revert back to the days when we all had a hairy back! Here are my Top 7 Communication Tips for the Evolved!

1 – There’s no such thing as common sense – This is evidenced by the infinite number of ways to swipe your credit/debit card in a store.  I always feel like a “winner” when I correctly swipe the card without direction from the clerk.  We all have different experiences and personalities, so our “common” differs from others’ “common”.  We also tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people, so when we are outside this group, like in a business or public setting, it can be difficult to communicate effectively.

 2 – Don’t start in the middle – Just think of some of the most classic films and what would happen if they started in the middle: Snow White would just be a creepy dwarfophile; George from “It’s a Wonderful Life” would just be a crotchety, bitter man undeserving of his wife and children; While Sandy & Danny (Grease), and Edward & Bella (Twilight) would just be your everyday conflicted teens, yawn.  So while it may seem obvious to you, don’t start communicating by assuming others know the “back story”.

 3 – Don’t make people work for it – If you have a message, be direct and to the point.  No one wants to be in a conversation that resembles the game of ‘Clue’. Dropping hints, being coy, beating around the bush, these all sabotage a good discussion.  Unless you’re handing out a secret decoder ring, just spell it out.

 4 – Be clear on the purpose of your communication – If you’re trying to help someone, say so.  If you’re upset and want to voice your feelings, say so.  If you’re ticked off, say so.  Don’t leave the person wondering what the point to the conversation is.  Confusion is not a recommended tactic if you’re trying to be understood.

 5 – Make sure your body language and tone support your words – If you’re trying to convey patience, open-mindedness, forgiveness or any other image, watch your non-verbal behavior.  Saying you’re open to hearing their viewpoint, then rolling your eyes as they share, shows them you’re full of crapola!

 6 – Listen – Stephen R. Covey said it best, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  This means you are not going to plan a defensive comeback each time your partner (not opponent) raises a point.  Listen for the sake of understanding, not strategizing.

 7 – Sometimes writing is the best method – If you want to choose your words carefully, are worried that heated statements could come into play, or that the recipient (or you) could get defensive, then write a letter.  Make sure each thought and feeling you’re trying to convey is expressed exactly how you’d like it to be.  Write, edit, re-edit, send.  This also allows the recipient to absorb and digest what you’re saying and respond in kind.

Communication is the key to peaceful relationships, friendships, and world relations.  Leave the monkey brain where it belongs…with the monkeys!

Share your comments below, I LOVE to hear your feedback (anonymous or otherwise) and I ALWAYS respond!

 

 

Why Networking is Crucial to Achieving Your Goals

Networking.  We’ve all heard the word, and some may even get a ‘sketched out’ feeling when hearing it.  For some, it translates to: “self-promotion to the point of nausea.” But I think those 10 letters just got a bad rap! It’s simply putting yourself on the playground of like-minded people.  That’s it.  Not very complicated, right?

I recently attended an “All Class Reunion”.  There I met a BFF, a former BFF and another who I was scared would stuff me in a locker in high school if I held eye contact too long.  I had an AWESOME time with all of them!! I learned who they are today, without the fog of self-absorption that most high schooler’s are afflicted with.  What a gift!  I “met” 2 adult women who are different from who they were last time I saw them.  They approach some aspects of life very differently than I do, but I loved learning new perspectives and I gained a whole new respect for the way they are navigating their lives.

Now while this example isn’t exactly “networking” in the traditional sense, it felt like it, in that we all shared a similar interest: (memories of graduating from a particular high school) and, I’m going to go out on a limb here and presume, we were ALL a little uncomfortable initially.

Whether you would benefit from connecting with others professionally, personally or spiritually, all I can say is, GO!  Put yourself out there with others.  You’re awesome!! REALLY!!  Think about some awesome things you’ve done and some questions you have.  If this is professionally based, jot down some accomplishments you’ve made and some goals you have.  If this is personal networking, note some cool “conversation starters” you may have.  Cool things you’ve done, cool stories you could share and the types of people or activities you’re looking to engage in.  If it’s spiritual connections you’re looking to make, put some thoughts and ideas into concrete words so you can more easily communicate your beliefs.  Don’t overthink these though.  You will learn the most and connect the best if you listen more than you speak, and ask more than you tell.

Why is networking so important? Because who you hang with is a HUGE factor in whether you achieve your goals or not.  Think about it…if you want to be a sought after guru in the Marketing arena, drinks with your same old buds on Friday night likely isn’t going to assist in that goal.  Looking to get your name out there? Your partner and kids already know your name, so hangin at home isn’t helping either.  Have you always had a desire to rock climb, yet no one in your immediate circle has that same desire? You need to get out there and meet other people pursuing and living their dream.  You’ll learn something, they’ll learn something and you each will have added a new connection to your “network”.

Utilize your resources, whether this is your address book or social media. Facebook (personal & professional networking), LinkedIn (professional networking) and if you’re looking for more, check out www.meetups.com (personal & professional networking). This is a great place to find like-minded individuals near you.  Would I steer you wrong?  Of course not.  Check it out!!

Already belong to these sites?  When’s the last time you reviewed your contacts (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and personally reached out to those people you know could offer you a highly beneficial perspective?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Stop procrastinating and go meet some new people.  Then tell me all about it in the comments section!!

Taking Your Success to the Next Level

As many of you know, I design and teach leadership development classes and programs.  In these, I stress the importance of reaching beyond the walls of your physical location or company and reaching out to others you could learn from.  This is especially true if you’re involved in the strategic planning of your organization.  Looking to take your success to the next level?  Whether you’re the CEO of a large corporation, run your own business, have your own Etsy site, or are on the board of a non-profit, you should absolutely be part of a “Mastermind Group”. So get your “Einstein” on and let’s plot and plan!

I recently attended a conference where this topic was discussed.  These professional groups conference regularly, (phone, skype, in-person) to discuss ideas, challenges and successes.  In speaking to others, it amazes me how many executives, business owners and directors of non-profits are not taking advantage of this type of strategic exchange of information.

There should be a minimum of 3 members and a maximum of 6.  Unlike traditional networking groups, a Mastermind Group needs full trust from all members. In other words, you probably don’t want to be in a group with any direct competitors.  These groups are tight-knit, bonded teams who are fully committed to their own AND the other members’ success.

Don’t limit members to one industry, geographic location or stage of career.  When discussing strategy, there is much to be learned from others. Someone in Finance could offer insights to an Art Shop owner and vice versa.  Similarly, someone in Melbourne, Australia could have much to offer someone in Boston, Massachusetts. I would encourage a mix of members in varying stages of their careers.  This could offer some very rich discussion and perspectives.

Each member must be fully committed to meeting regularly and participating equally in the discussions. Meetings should include each member sharing a success and a challenge.  Every effort should be made to address each member’s presented challenge and to brainstorm solutions and ideas.  Egos should be left out of these and no single member should dominate.  Ideally, meetings should last between 1-2 hours and be held weekly or monthly.

My leadership development classes have proven time and time again the power of perspective.  Stepping outside the “box” of your company or industry will demonstrate the power of creative solutions. There are universal truths in any business, so share what you know and allow the recipient to translate your knowledge into a language that is applicable to their circumstances.

Now what? Think of others you’d like to collaborate with.  In fact, I challenge you to make a list of professionals you highly respect and trust.  Reach out to them (or even share this post) and tell them you’d like to include them in a Mastermind Group.  Also, don’t wuss out and think “I don’t have anything to offer.”  That’s capital BS!! If that thought even enters your mind, make a list of topics you have some insight on.  Then, comment on your progress.  Are you part of a group already? Share your insights in the comments section below.

Fencing with a Secret Keeper

Last week we talked about that voice in your head not speaking very nicely to you!  This week we are going to talk about the Secret Keepers and how they show their Confidence Deficiency.  While the Self-Saboteurs are usually quite lovable, the Secret Keepers are a little more prickly.  Nothing we can’t handle together, so let’s get to it!

Self-Saboteurs use their sword against themselves, Secret Keepers fence against others.  They are hell-bent on keeping their secrets, and will undermine any potential exposers.  They don’t want you to know that they have flaws.  They will lash out if you do anything to expose them.  These Secret Keepers will verbally attack you and are often blame-avoidant, defensive and tend to deflect negative attention onto others.

Life is viewed skeptically with an eye on the ulterior motive.  It’s difficult to want to help a Secret Keeper as they can cause a lot of stress in our lives, but these people have been hurt, so the idea of being vulnerable is more painful than any guilt they may feel when they hurt someone.  They can justify any action that hurts another by simply believing that person was going to eventually hurt them anyway.

As a coach, I can provide a safe place to feel vulnerable.   If you are a Secret Keeper, it’s important that you connect with someone you trust has no ulterior motives.  This could be a mentor, friend or coach.  I would recommend that you start by acknowledging to yourself, your “secrets”, ie: not smart enough, too sensitive, out of control, etc.  Then, list everything you can think of that “disproves” the claim. For instance, if one “secret” is that you don’t know as much about a topic as you’d like, list all the examples of times you did just fine, like the last project you pulled off, or helping a co-worker who knew even less, etc.

If your chain mail is being yanked by a Secret Keeper, I have a technique you can try.  Keep in mind that the more threatened this person is by you, the more time you’ll need before you’ll see a shift.  If you have felt their wrath, a good approach to try (after settling your own emotions) is to personally approach them and privately tell them how their action affected you.

Heather: “Hi SK, I’m hoping you can help me with something, do you have a minute?” 

SK: (defensive, but less so since you’re looking for help) “What’s up?” 

Heather: “Yesterday you made that comment about how I ‘always seem to have time to chat everybody up’, so maybe I could use some more to do.  Initially that really hurt me because I try to do my best and felt like you were calling me out in front of others, but then I thought maybe you were trying to help me.  Do you really believe that I don’t work as hard as everyone else?”

The key here is to cool their jets (by asking for their help), show your vulnerability (by showing how you perceived their comment, while being cautious of how much you share for your own protection.)  Following this up with the idea that perhaps they were trying to help you gives them an “out” for their behavior.  Calmly and sincerely asking if they really feel that way is where the rubber meets the road.  You have acted unexpectedly, likely confusing them.  Being confronted like this may cause them to back down and rephrase what they “meant” by their remark.  Regardless of their response, don’t get defensive.  Say you’ll have to give it some thought, and thank them for their feedback.  This approach doesn’t attack them.  The key is to get them to drop their guard bit by bit.

The problem with Confidence Deficiencies is that the sufferers (and they really do suffer) rely so heavily on external validation.  Because both types allow that negative chatter to continually play in their head, they don’t have the confidence within, so they seek it from others.  Unfortunately, these comments just go into the Ego Jar, which has no bottom, resulting in an insatiable need.

Whether a Self-Saboteur or Secret Keeper, these people just need a helping hand from us.  Being kind to the nice ones is easy.  Being kind to the not-so-nice ones is much harder.  Show some love and patience with others and remember we all have demons we are battling.  Use your sword to help someone fight their demon.  Be nice to yourself, talk nice to yourself and most of all love yourself!  I’d love your comments, but if you’re too busy lovin on you, that’s cool too!!

Is Career Suicide a Result of a Common Parental Mistake?

As parents, we all do the best we can.  Could we have done better? Probably, but that’s just the snotty little voice of retrospect talking. I was raised, and raised my children, to be leaders not followers.  This has proven very effective thus far against the evils of youth: drugs, drinking, sex, peer pressure, bullying, etc.   I have repeatedly heard and said, “Be a LEADER, not a follower!”   So, you ask, what is this HUGE mistake you speak of?   Being the Leader is only half the lesson.  The other half of the lesson is to be a good Follower.  What you talkin’ ‘bout Willis?

Allow me to explain.  It’s great that we teach our children to be leaders and take charge and be assertive and not concede to popular belief simply because it’s popular belief.  However, it’s a bit short-sighted.  Let’s break this down.   Fast forward to your child’s first job or new job. While leadership skills may be admired by employers, followership skills are equally as important.   There are times we need to take charge and times we need to assist and support.

We all have a boss.  This includes CEO’s, business owners and entrepreneurs.  Leadership ability is important to grow and develop, and Followership ability is important for exactly the same reasons.  We need to teach our children, youth and next generation workers, how to follow.  I don’t mean of the “sheep” or “suck up” variety, I mean actively, knowledgeably, passionately, PROUDLY, follow.

One of the most common struggles I see in today’s up-and-comers’ is their drive for big things. Big titles, big money, big life.  Those goals are great, however, in order to achieve them (and sustain them eventually) they need to learn how to be great at small titles, work efficiently with small monies and lead a satisfying life of simplicity, at least temporarily.  Living and learning all there is at these ‘follower’ levels will make these up-and-comer’s better leaders.

Ever work in a company where there were too many Chiefs and not enough Indians?  It ain’t pretty!  It’s like professional “Lord of the Flies”.  Following is allowing someone else to “drive” while you assist in any way that makes their job as “driver” easier and succeeds in getting to the desired destination in an efficient manner.  Take the Daytona 500, the race car driver is the Leader and the pit crew are the Followers.  And before you use this term interchangeably with “Team Player” let me explain the difference.  In a team-player scenario, the entire team would be in the vehicle as they cross the finish line.

As parents, we obviously want our children to be successful in all of their jobs and professional pursuits.  Our kids, like ourselves, have worked for or will likely work for an incompetent leader, but that need not be an excuse for being an incompetent follower.  The lessons that come from that experience will only serve to provide another accomplishment.  While a Leader should be judged on how they develop their Followers, a Follower should be judged on how well they develop their Leader.  Both roles serve the other.

What examples do YOU have that show how balancing Leadership skills and Followership skills have assisted in job or career success?

Five Languages in Five Weeks – Lay It On Me

We are now in our 5th and Final Week of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks. Let’s review:
These are the Five Languages:

• Words of Affirmation
• Quality Time
• Acts of Service
• Gifts
• Touch

Week one talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers. These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why. Week two covered Quality Time which is based on focused attention on, or with, the other person. Week three we discussed Acts of Service which is all about action and doing something the recipient would greatly appreciate. Last week we went over Gifts, which are those tangible “things” that let a person know they are loved and appreciated. This week we will close out the series with Touch. If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit Week One’s post – “Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words”. Again, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal and business life, so view all the languages from those two perspectives. If you’re the huggin’, kissin’, high-fivin’ and fist bumpin’ kind, then this is all about you!

These language speakers are all about touch. Nothing communicates like person to person connection. Touch rewards, soothes and, of course, loves.

Personally, this language speaker likes the obvious like hugging and holding hands. But more subtle signs include when they are listening to a heartfelt story, they may touch the hand of the speaker to soothe or to soften a difficult, yet honest discussion. These lovers are often eye-gazers as well. Touching with their eyes, so to speak. They also tend to be very comfortable being up close and personal with others they know and like, as in ‘intruding-on-their-personal-space’ comfortable. So identifying these language speakers is relatively easy. Some find this a difficult and uncomfortable method of communicating. To the recipient however, this is as necessary as oxygen. Find your most bearable level of comfort and lay it on ‘em. Like the other languages though, remember not just any touch will do. You have to determine their preferences. As they are often so sensitive to touch, doing it “wrong” can have a negative effect. When in doubt, ask.

Professionally, there is not a lot of room for these language speakers, as most touch acceptable in the personal arena, is unacceptable in the workplace. Likewise, even those who prefer the language of touch in their personal lives to feel loved, likely do not prefer it in the workplace to feel appreciated. Although you’ll see snippets of them as they tend to be the high-fiving, fist-bumping, pat on the back, handshaking folk. Those are pretty much the only acceptable forms of touch in the workplace and even the pat on the back can be annoying to some, so use with caution, always considering how the other person may perceive it, regardless of how you intend it.

These touchy-feely types love affection and being affectionate. If you identify with this language, remember it can also be off-putting to others at times, so pay attention to the signs others are giving to you. If you’re approaching someone and they take a step back, you likely just barged into their personal space, so be respectful of other’s needs. If you’ve got something to share about Touch, please do so in the comments section below.

Hopefully, you’ve identified your own primary “language” and those that play a significant part in your life, both personally and professionally. Understanding your own languages in those environments can help you communicate your needs better and be aware of how this differs from others. Understanding the language of others will help you show love and appreciation to them in a way that’s meaningful for them. As always, I hope this, and all preceding posts, gave you a new perspective to consider. Perhaps that person who frequently doles out compliments at work would like to receive some Words of Affirmation themselves. Maybe Mom’s complaints about how you never visit, is a sign that she needs Quality Time with you. Seeing your spouse’s face light up because you surprised them with a five-course homemade meal will indicate their need for Acts of Service. The employee who tears up after you present them with a small engraved plaque thanking them for being the Official Morale Booster of 2013 appreciates Gifts like nothing else. And of course, the ever-ready-with-a-hug, lover of Touch, who gets as much as she gives, in every embrace.

All of us need love and appreciation. We may need varying levels of it, but we all need it. Understanding how you need to receive it and how others need you to give it, and acting on that knowledge, will guarantee improved relationships. If you’re still unsure of your language or would like to invite someone else to learn theirs, here are the sites and info to take the online assessments: For the free personal assessment, go to www.5lovelanguages.com/profile . For the professional version, there is a $15 charge, but can be found at www.mbainventory.com .

You are now empowered to make a difference and communicate more effectively with someone. So go Love on that person you love and get Appreciating those people you work with. Watch how it will ripple through every aspect of your life. Please know, with as much sincerity as I can convey in a blog, how much I truly Love and Appreciate my readers. Your support has spoken to me in every ‘language’ and hopefully I’ve spoken my thanks in yours! Comment on any experiences you have had based on use of any of the languages, ‘cause sharing is caring! Until next week…

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))