6 Techniques to Boost Your Personal Power.

You walk into a conference and don’t recognize a single soul.  You quickly grab a seat in the back for an early escape and avoid making eye contact.  You sit down and focus on your only available friend…your phone.  Instead of reaching out to your neighbor sitting next to you, you shuffle your papers and check out Facebook notifications.  You are isolated and feeling small.  It’s time to regain your personal power. Personal power

I just finished giving a webinar yesterday on communication skills.  The way it was set up was that I had to talk continuously for 75 minutes without a break with my slides.   The only way to have interaction with the attendees was through a chat box.  The first time I gave one of these presentations, I swore I would never do it again.  It feels like talking to a lamp post.  So why did I do it again? I decided to power up.  My performance did a 180 and so did my reviews.  It was the exact same presentation but this time I brought my power.  So how did I do that?

Here ya go:

  1. Take on a power pose. I take on a power pose every time I have to speak or lead an important meeting. As written in the 3 Elements of Charisma, “Studies have shown that by simply standing in a Power Pose for two minutes, testosterone levels increase, while cortisol levels decrease, making you feel more confident and less stressed. When you feel more confident, you act more powerful.” So my default is to stand like Wonder Woman with my hands on my hips for two minutes.  I suggested this to my webinar participants forgetting there might be men on the line and one of them sent a message “Is Superman OK?”  I had to laugh.  “Sure!  Superman, Batman, The Hulk.  It’s all good.” Pick your superhero and power up.
  1. Walk with purpose. I recently read Adam Braun’s Pencils of Promise, in which he starts each chapter with a mantra and in that chapter describes how he used it. He found himself trying to get out of Thailand and on to Nepal to meet his dad when he was gravely ill.  He was sweating profusely and when he went through security his body temperature set off an alarm.  The authorities told him he had to go to the hospital and pointed him to a woman.  He mustered up his confidence, put his shoulders back, walked with purpose and approached the woman.  He told her that the authorities wanted her to take him to his flight.  She did.  Crisis averted.
  1. Where you are, is exactly where you need to be. One of the most frightening experiences of my life was getting disoriented when I got off a subway station on the west side of Manhattan. Instead of heading to West End Avenue on 104th street, I headed towards Amsterdam Avenue. It was a hot, humid summer evening and EVERYONE was on the street.  A crowd of young men started following me and were speaking a language I didn’t understand.  When I realized I was going the wrong direction, I decided it would be a really bad idea to turn around.  So I ended up putting my shoulders back and acting like I knew exactly where I was and ended up walking the full block (and it was one of those double wide blocks…it felt like an eternity) taking a left and walking all the way back on 105th street.  The men eventually faded back and I made it to my destination.  So when you walk in that conference and don’t know a soul; you’re exactly where you need to be.  Own it.
  1. Set your intention. At a conference with Christine Kane before going on stage, she goes off alone and centers herself. She sets her intention.  I now do the same thing.  I set my intention that it’s all about my client.  It’s all about the participants.  I want them all to take at least one thing and find it useful.  My intention is to serve.  When I do that, it takes the fear away.  My focus becomes about them and not me. Set your intention for your audience’s best outcome.
  1. Smile. I had the privilege of having Jackie Kellso instruct me at a Dale Carnegie class. They videotaped us speaking.  Jackie kept emphasizing that I needed to smile.  In the end, there were 7 video clips of me and the metamorphic change that happened after three days was amazing.  When I smiled?  The entire speech was enlivened.  My body language changed dramatically.  So when you walk into that interview?  Or that high stakes meeting?  Be sure to smile.
  1. Have a talisman. I have strange little habits. I drink coffee from a red cup when I have a big meeting planned. I have a particular necklace that my husband gave me that I wear when I need to feel powerful.  I try and wear red if I’m going into a negotiation.  I seem to recall that Ronald Reagan would call on the women in the press core that wore red.  A talisman is a ring or stone that is believed to have magical powers.  It’s like a rabbit’s foot.  It doesn’t matter if does or doesn’t have actual magical powers.  It just matters that you feel more powerful.

Using all these techniques to power up before and during a presentation is why that dreaded webinar turned around.  I now look forward to it.  I sit up in my chair with my headset on and smile.  I know the folks on the line can’t see me but I am positive they can feel my power.

Taking care of your corner of the world. One small step at a time.

You want to make a difference. You want to take on the world. You want to have the masses cheering and singing your praises. You might envision the paparazzi chasing you as you whisk past in your limousine; the velvet rope opens for you at all the greatest destinations. We all seek this total appreciation from all we touch. Turns out, that’s just a little unrealistic. Even the Pope has his detractors. Not everyone is going to drink the Kool-Aid. There will be dissenters. Turns out that the best approach is just taking care of your corner of the world; one step at a time.

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I just delivered a team building for a organization a few weeks ago. It went well; better than I had expected. There was 100% participation and tons of light bulbs were going off in folk’s heads.. Terrific. We did something from CRR Global called “Lands Work” where each department got to tell their point of view and then, take on each other’s departments’ point of view. They got it. People were FINALLY on the same page. It was terrific. Then I sent out a survey afterwards. One or two people thought I wasn’t enthusiastic enough. My heart sank. When I reflected back, I remember that I was really concerned with getting out on time because I was teaching a class with a visiting guest speaker that was a 90 minute drive away and there was no clock in the room. And now I was dwelling on the folks who were disappointed. My invaluable co-teacher, Sandy Lewis and I were Skyping today as I recounted my story of woe and she asked, “Did you make a difference in one person’s life?” I said, “Yes”. She said, “That’s enough”. End of over expectations. Perspective focused. Take care of my little corner. Move on.

So how do you do that?

1. Perfection is over rated. I have coached dozens of folks who are looking for perfection. 100% on all the survey results. A++. Size 6 jeans. Never a hair out of place. The perfect flawless soufflé EVERY time. What do you think? Unattainable? Yeah it is. Take a breath and let go. No one gets to perfect. That includes the Pope AND Taylor Swift. Accept what is. Even if it’s messy.

2. Be present regardless. I’ve facilitated team building sessions hundreds of times. I know that as a Franklin Covey Trainer told me some 10 years ago, “It’s all about them”. The minute I started worrying about getting out on time, I was not there. I was in the car on the way to the next stop. It’s like the canary in the coal mine. The crowd senses it immediately. When you want to do your best work, you have to be absolutely present.

3. Focus on the positive. As my co-instructor Sandy said, “So most people were positive and got something out of the training”. I said, “Yes. It went great. I was surprised how open everyone was to take on another department’s perspective.” Feedback from anyone can send people on a negative tailspin. Find that one nugget; that one Ah Ha. That one person who comes up to you and says, “Thanks, I needed this”. One small step up the gray staircase. Stay positive.

4. Keep it in perspective. As the great coach, Christine Kane said SWSWSWSW. This stands for, “Some will. Some won’t. So what? Someone’s waiting!” It means that some people are going to love what you do. Some won’t. So what? Someone is waiting for what you are going to do next. That is what you are here for. There is someone out there waiting for your next post. Your next pitch. Your next soufflé. Let go of those who are not fans. Be there for those who are fans.

Think about what’s in your corner of the world. What’s important there? Is it money? Fame? What your impact is. Focus on making a difference and the rest will follow. This moment. Right now. Who will you impact next? Go.

6 Ways to Stay Focused. Keeping Mind Clutter in Check.

Last week I wrote about physical clutter, this week it’s about interpersonal time suckers in your life.  The force of other people’s priorities into your life to distract you from your true passion.  Someone drops by your office just as you are hitting your stride on a project.  Your boss voluntolds you for a local board that you really aren’t interested in.  The school calls because (according to the rules) your daughter’s skirt is too short and you need to come to the rescue with a potato sack.

Most Human Resource professionals live in a constant state of interruption.  Meetings with Human Resource are rarely scheduled.  There is normally a fire smoldering (or raging out of control) before someone decides to drop by or pick up the phone – do you have a minute?  It’s rarely a minute.   It’s the nature of the beast. index

Someone else’s failure to plan, schedule or otherwise handle an issue can easily leak into your life and weigh you down.  If you want to stay on track to your best work, you need to work on keeping people from treading on you.  Don’t be a doormat. Here’s how:

1. NoSet up some boundaries.  Let your family, friends, and colleagues know where your limit’s are. Business mentor Christine Kane calls this your “Proactive No”.  I’m not available from 9 until 10:30 AM.  I only work with charities that are aligned with my goal of helping disadvantaged children.  I’m always home on the Sunday to be with my family.  I set my schedule according to my son’s wrestling meets.  No television or phone calls during dinner.  I check email and voice mail on the hour. Draw a line in the sand.

2. Barriers.  Shut your door.  Put on some headphones.  Turn off your phone.  Mark out your space.  A colleague of mine used to put police tape across his cubicle when he had an important conference call.  In the book “18 Minutes” by Peter Bregman, the author has prescribed work hours in his home office and his children know that they may not interrupt for any reason.  If the door is shut – don’t interrupt Daddy.  Other barriers can be turning off all alerts for phone, email and text.  I have a little piece of post it note over the place on my monitor where the little envelope shows up when I have email.  Out of sight, out of mind.

3. Cue.  When someone comes in asking if you have a minute – give them a cue.  Mark out a time limit.  I’ve got fifteen minutes.  I have a conference call at 2.  I’m in the middle of a project but I can give you ten minutes.  Give them the parameters before they get started.  This will help them hit the highlights before heading down a long meandering tale of whoa.  If you find out this is bigger than you thought it would be, you might need to stop and quickly reschedule impending appointments.  Being up front will help soften transition back to your own priorities.

4. Delegate. Can someone else do this?  Don’t be the hero.  You do not need to be responsible for everything that comes across your desk or desk top.  I know.  It so much easier to just take care of it yourself.  Especially if you are impatient like me.  You’ve been doing that report for the last 3 years and it only takes you 30 minutes to complete. Training someone else will take at least an hour and they will probably make mistakes the first few times around.  Ugh.  Invest the time and, in the long run, it will pay off in additional hours to spend on what brings you joy in your life.

5. Gossip.  Hanging out at the water cooler isn’t the greatest use of your precious time.  Discussing the latest episode of “Modern Family” or who got kicked off of “Top Chef” is usually a procrastination technique.  Gossiping about Suzy’s new haircut or Joe’s constant lateness can damage your relationships in the long run.  Gee, if Cathy will talk about Joe that way…what is she saying about me behind my back.  More mind clutter.  Your prefontal cortex doesn’t need to be fed that stuff.  Keep the stage clean.

6. Select.  Being more selective about who you hang out with can improve your use of time.  Hanging out with Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy can suck the time and energy out of you.  Being around optimistic folks helps you stay of away from your lizard brain and fueling the flame of fear.  Surround yourself with some carefully selected Pollyanna’s and let them lift you up to your best.  This is advice that I have given my daughter frequently.  When she complains about a “friend” being consistently critical of her actions or associations, I ask – why are you hanging out with this person?  What value are they bringing?

Frequently it’s best to back away and seek out those who will help you stay clutter free.

What would you do?

6 Steps to Slaying the Clutter Monster

One of the biggest attention suckers is clutter – Physical clutter.  I’m sorry, all you pack rats out there; it’s time to purge.  A post in the unclutterer states that “scientists find physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus & process information.Basically, visual clutter grabs your attention so that you can’t focus on the process, decision or project at hand.  Might be time to clean up all those nick-knacks or piles of newspapers, huh?

I’m a chronic pillow straightener.  I can’t leave the house unless the pillows are in their place.  In fact, this causes both my dog and husband to deliberately knock pillows off the couch.  Because they know it will get under my skin.  I can hear my husband chuckling in the other room as I walk in and sigh from exasperation when I see the chaos.  Now I know why – they are messing with my visual cortex!  Lay off my visual cortex, will ya?  I want to get something done today.

Not my actual living room.
Not my actual living room.

I bet you know someone in your office that is a clutter monster.   You know, someone whose desk looks similar to Andy Rooney when he was on 60 minutes.  No wonder his pieces were only 5 minutes each week, his visual cortex was holding him hostage.  I’ve walked into a colleague’s office and, often wondered, “How do they get anything done in here?”  They don’t.  They are being held hostage by their clutter monster.

So how do you slay the clutter monster? Here are a few suggestions:

1.  Commit.  I know we’ve all watched at least one episode of “Hoarders”.  These poor people basically bury themselves in objects.  Even with therapy, most of them can’t commit to keeping clutter at bay.  You’re going to need to commit or there is no point in entering the ring to fight the monster.  Your best work, project or masterpiece is under that load of visual clutter and you are going to need to make up your mind that it needs to surface and the clutter has got to go.

2. Plan.  It can be overwhelming to decide to declutter your entire office or home in one day.  Make a plan and break it up into parts that can be accomplished in 15 or 30 minute chunks.  Such as: top two book shelves, bottom two book shelves, right bathroom cabinet, left bathroom cabinet, etc.  Then schedule it on your calendar.  Maybe every Saturday morning you work for 30 minutes or Mondays and Wednesdays at 5 PM for 15 minutes.  Plan it out.  It will help eliminate the overwhelming need to run out of the house screaming as well as procrastination.

3. Prepare.  You might want to agree to some rules  such as, if I haven’t worn it in the last year, two years, decade (scratch that…if you haven’t worn it in a decade, it’s out of style) then out it goes.  If your last paramour gave it to you, probably bad mojo;  let it go.  That’s a whole other kind of mind clutter.  Is it worth donating?  Is it trash? Is it worth saving?  I went through cookbooks not that long ago and those that were of sentimental value are in a box in the attic, otherwise, I’m either using them or they were donated.

4. Dig in.  Grab two garbage bags and get started.  How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  It’s either a donation or trash.  If that blouse has a stain on it that you couldn’t get out – neither can Goodwill.  It’s trash.  If you wore those pants thirty pounds ago – someone at Goodwill can wear it now.  It’s a donation.  If you aren’t sure if you want to keep it, put it somewhere that would take some effort to get to.  A box under the bed, the basement, the attic, or your Mom’s house and give it three months.  If you haven’t thought about it, time to purge.

5. Containers.  You’re going to feel tempted to run out and go crazy at the Container Store before Step #1.  Don’t.  You’ve got to start untangling first before you can start organizing.  You won’t know what you need until you’ve started digging in.  Purchasing 50 – 20 gallon fluorescent pink tubs might seem like the right fix but once you’ve unpacked all your kitchenware, you figure out that the cupboard will work just fine.  Do you really need a coffee mug from your old bank in California?  Sometimes an old basket will find a new purpose.  And sometimes, one 20 gallon fluorescent pink tub will work just fine.

6. Rinse and Repeat.  Clutter monsters seem to grow back like kudzu along southern freeways.  Set up a reminder to go back through your office in six months.  On the second pass, you might finally get rid of that conference binder from 6 years ago on employment law. Might be time to refresh the pictures on the credenza (your son gave up soccer 5 years ago).  You still haven’t found a pair of shoes to wear with that dress – time for it to go.  As Christine Kane says “If it’s not an Absolute Yes, it’s a No.  You’ll need to say No as you move forward to continue to keep the monster under control.

If you buy a new dress, pair of shoes, coffee mug or stapler, swap it in kind with an old dress, pair of shoes, coffee mug or stapler.  Starve your monster, your visual cortex will appreciate it.

What would you do?

Burn your doormat.

Last week I wrote about physical clutter, this week it’s about interpersonal time suckers in your life.  The force of other people’s priorities into your life to distract you from your true passion.  Someone drops by your office just as you are hitting your stride on a project.  Your boss voluntolds you for a local board that you really aren’t interested in.  The school calls because (according to the rules) your daughter’s skirt is too short and you need to come to the rescue with a potato sack.

Most Human Resource professionals live in a constant state of interruption.  Meetings with Human Resource are rarely scheduled.  There is normally a fire smoldering (or raging out of control) before someone decides to drop by or pick up the phone – do you have a minute?  It’s rarely a minute.   It’s the nature of the beast.

Someone else’s failure to plan, schedule or otherwise handle an issue can easily leak into your life and weigh you down.  If you want to stay on track to your best work, you need to work on keeping people from treading on youDon’t be a doormat, in fact, I recommend burning it.  Here’s how:

1. NoSet up some boundaries.  Let your family, friends, and colleagues know where your limit’s are. Business mentor Christine Kane calls this your “Proactive No”.  I’m not available from 9 until 10:30 AM.  I only work with charities that are aligned with my goal of helping disadvantaged children.  I’m always home on the Sunday to be with my family.  I set my schedule according to my son’s wrestling meets.  No television or phone calls during dinner.  I check email and voice mail on the hour. Draw a line in the sand.

2. Barriers.  Shut your door.  Put on some headphones.  Turn off your phone.  Mark out your space.  A colleague of mine used to put police tape across his cubicle when he had an important conference call.  In the book “18 Minutes” by Peter Bregman, the author has prescribed work hours in his home office and his children know that they may not interrupt for any reason.  If the door is shut – don’t interrupt Daddy.  Other barriers can be turning off all alerts for phone, email and text.  I have a little piece of post it note over the place on my monitor where the little envelope shows up when I have email.  Out of sight, out of mind.

3. Cue.  When someone comes in asking if you have a minute – give them a cue.  Mark out a time limit.  I’ve got fifteen minutes.  I have a conference call at 2.  I’m in the middle of a project but I can give you ten minutes.  Give them the parameters before they get started.  This will help them hit the highlights before heading down a long meandering tale of whoa.  If you find out this is bigger than you thought it would be, you might need to stop and quickly reschedule impending appointments.  Being up front will help soften transition back to your own priorities.

4. Delegate. Can someone else do this?  Don’t be the hero.  You do not need to be responsible for everything that comes across your desk or desk top.  I know.  It so much easier to just take care of it yourself.  Especially if you are impatient like me.  You’ve been doing that report for the last 3 years and it only takes you 30 minutes to complete. Training someone else will take at least an hour and they will probably make mistakes the first few times around.  Ugh.  Invest the time and, in the long run, it will pay off in additional hours to spend on what brings you joy in your life.

5. Gossip.  Hanging out at the water cooler isn’t the greatest use of your precious time.  Discussing the latest episode of “Mad Men” or who got kicked off of “Big Brother” is usually a procrastination technique.  Gossiping about Suzy’s new haircut or Joe’s constant lateness can damage your relationships in the long run.  Gee, if Cathy will talk about Joe that way…what is she saying about me behind my back.  More mind clutter.  Your prefontal cortex doesn’t need to be fed that stuff.  Keep the stage clean.

6. Select.  Being more selective about who you hang out with can improve your use of time.  Hanging out with Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy can suck the time and energy out of you.  Being around optimistic folks helps you stay of away from your lizard brain and fueling the flame of fear.  Surround yourself with some carefully selected Pollyanna’s and let them lift you up to your best.  This is advice that I have given my daughter frequently.  When she complains about a “friend” being consistently critical of her actions or associations, I ask – why are you hanging out with this person?  What value are they bringing?

Frequently it’s best to back away and seek out those who will help you burn the doormat.

What would you do?

Slay the Clutter Monster

One of the biggest attention suckers is clutter – Physical clutter.  I’m sorry, all you pack rats out there; it’s time to purge.  A post in the unclutterer states that “scientists find physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus & process information.Basically, visual clutter grabs your attention so that you can’t focus on the process, decision or project at hand.  Might be time to clean up all those nick-knacks or piles of newspapers, huh?

I’m a chronic pillow straightener.  I can’t leave the house unless the pillows are in their place.  In fact, this causes both my dog and husband to deliberately knock pillows off the couch.  Because they know it will get under my skin.  I can hear my husband chuckling in the other room as I walk in and sigh from exasperation when I see the chaos.  Now I know why – they are messing with my visual cortex!  Lay off my visual cortex, will ya?  I want to get something done today.

I bet you know someone in your office that is a clutter monster.   You know, someone whose desk looks similar to Andy Rooney when he was on 60 minutes.  No wonder his pieces were only 5 minutes each week, his visual cortex was holding him hostage.  I’ve walked into a colleague’s office and, often wondered, “How do they get anything done in here?”  They don’t.  They are being held hostage by their clutter monster.

So how do you slay the clutter monster? Here are a few suggestions:

1.  Commit.  I know we’ve all watched at least one episode of “Hoarders”.  These poor people basically bury themselves in objects.  Even with therapy, most of them can’t commit to keeping clutter at bay.  You’re going to need to commit or there is no point in entering the ring to fight the monster.  Your best work, project or masterpiece is under that load of visual clutter and you are going to need to make up your mind that it needs to surface and the clutter has got to go.

2. Plan.  It can be overwhelming to decide to declutter your entire office or home in one day.  Make a plan and break it up into parts that can be accomplished in 15 or 30 minute chunks.  Such as: top two book shelves, bottom two book shelves, right bathroom cabinet, left bathroom cabinet, etc.  Then schedule it on your calendar.  Maybe every Saturday morning you work for 30 minutes or Mondays and Wednesdays at 5 PM for 15 minutes.  Plan it out.  It will help eliminate the overwhelming need to run out of the house screaming as well as procrastination.

3. Prepare.  You might want to agree to some rules  such as, if I haven’t worn it in the last year, two years, decade (scratch that…if you haven’t worn it in a decade, it’s out of style) then out it goes.  If your last paramour gave it to you, probably bad mojo;  let it go.  That’s a whole other kind of mind clutter.  Is it worth donating?  Is it trash? Is it worth saving?  I went through cookbooks not that long ago and those that were of sentimental value are in a box in the attic, otherwise, I’m either using them or they were donated.

4. Dig in.  Grab two garbage bags and get started.  How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  It’s either a donation or trash.  If that blouse has a stain on it that you couldn’t get out – neither can Goodwill.  It’s trash.  If you wore those pants thirty pounds ago – someone at Goodwill can wear it now.  It’s a donation.  If you aren’t sure if you want to keep it, put it somewhere that would take some effort to get to.  A box under the bed, the basement, the attic, or your Mom’s house and give it three months.  If you haven’t thought about it, time to purge.

5. Containers.  You’re going to feel tempted to run out and go crazy at the Container Store before Step #1.  Don’t.  You’ve got to start untangling first before you can start organizing.  You won’t know what you need until you’ve started digging in.  Purchasing 50 – 20 gallon fluorescent pink tubs might seem like the right fix but once you’ve unpacked all your kitchenware, you figure out that the cupboard will work just fine.  Do you really need a coffee mug from your old bank in California?  Sometimes an old basket will find a new purpose.  And sometimes, one 20 gallon fluorescent pink tub will work just fine.

6. Rinse and Repeat.  Clutter monsters seem to grow back like kudzu along southern freeways.  Set up a reminder to go back through your office in six months.  On the second pass, you might finally get rid of that conference binder from 6 years ago on employment law. Might be time to refresh the pictures on the credenza (your son gave up soccer 5 years ago).  You still haven’t found a pair of shoes to wear with that dress – time for it to go.  As Christine Kane says “If it’s not an Absolute Yes, it’s a No.  You’ll need to say No as you move forward to continue to keep the monster under control.

If you buy a new dress, pair of shoes, coffee mug or stapler, swap it in kind with an old dress, pair of shoes, coffee mug or stapler.  Starve your monster, your visual cortex will appreciate it.

What would you do?