🫣5 Ways to Combat Guilt

I just took my 14-year-old dog, Baci, to the vet for her annual checkup.  I inevitably feel guilty by the end of the visit because I failed to brush her teeth or try out the pain reliever that the vet recommended last year. I also was told to listen to Baci when she does not want to walk more than a block.  Ugh.  I feel the full rathe of guilt as I walk my sweet Baci back to the car. 

I had a client who was unable to sign into the coaching platform I use. He was frustrated and opted out of coaching because of the poor technology of the platform. Ugh. More guilt. When my children come home, I frequently forget to stock their favorite cereal or snack. Ugh.  Guilty of being a bad mom. There are countless sources of guilt in my life and how I address it is important so that I don’t lapse into shame.

Here are the 5 ways I combat guilt:

Make a list.  Prepare a list of all the things I do for my dog, my children, my clients, my family, my friends and neighbors. I collect the evidence of what I do for others.  In Baci’s case, I have constantly said that “When I come back as a dog, I want to live Baci’s life.”  She’s fed every day, gets to go on a walk (when she wants), gets full run of the house inclusive of all the snuggly couches and love seats.  I drive her 90 minutes to a boarding place in my old town when I’m on a trip because they are so sweet to her.  It’s hard for me to feel guilty when I take stock of all that I do for Baci and others.

Ask for more information.  Check in on those that I feel I’m neglecting.  Obviously, my dog is unable to answer but I can tell you that she doesn’t cower when I am near her. She is always excited to see me in the morning and to head out for a walk. Baci does not feel neglected. My adult children are pretty clear about their expectations although there was a moment over the holidays when my daughter had expected dinner and I said “I didn’t think you’d be here.” I suddenly realized that she was hurt (she had to extend her visit for several weeks) and then I said “I didn’t expect you to be here for tonight’s dinner, I thought you would be hanging with your friend.” Sometimes guilt can occur because we aren’t explicit with our own expectations.

Self Gratitude.  I keep a gratitude journal every day where I write 5 things or people I am grateful for as well as one thing I’m grateful I did for myself, like writing this blog, walking, swimming or safe travels. I do this because we are wired towards a negativity bias. If your ancestors weren’t listening for the rustle in the bushes, they would not have survived the saber tooth tiger. This constant scanning of what is wrong in the environment skews what could be fun to look at to what is wrong; like I shouldn’t have eaten that bagel or I should have walked 5 miles.  I try to be grateful every day and look for my accomplishments and successes

Role reversal.  I try to think about if the roles were reversed. Obviously, this is difficult with my dog, Baci, but let’s face it, she is living the good life. As for my children, I think about this a lot as I try not to invade their lives too much but rather to be supportive when needed. My son can think that I know more than I do about what’s going on in his life. If he’s under a lot of stress, he can assume that I realize this, even when he’s not in the same room or city. I come from a place of “If he wants to talk, he will.”  Sometimes I need to be more proactive and reach out.  I think about how I would feel if I was in his shoes and it makes me more compassionate. 

Decide on boundaries.  I know that with Baci, I’m not likely at this point to invest in extraordinary means to extend her life. Outside of regular vaccines and vet visits, she’s been the center of my life for 14 years. Keeping a decent quality of life is what’s important. With my children, I try to be clear about how much help and support I’m willing to give and be clear in communicating those boundaries. If they’ll be arriving home after 2 AM, I appreciate a text. I stay out of their relationship with their father as it’s none of my business and I don’t need the guilt associated with trying to fix anyone but myself.  I’ve made and continue to work on my boundaries. 

I don’t get as overwhelmed by guilt anymore. I certainly get pangs of guilt like not flossing enough when I head to the dentist or staying 100% plant based when I get my cholesterol results but for the most part, I’ve done pretty well combating guilt.  How about you?  How do you combat guilt?

🐒7 Steps to Delegating Monkeys

Delegating monkeys is an important part of being a leader, partner or parent.  There is a delicate balance between abdicating and delegating.  Abdicating can happen when a leader chooses to ignore a situation (usually a sticky, messy and uncomfortable monkey) which allows the issue to slide down to the next level of management.  Not good delegation.

As Ken Blanchard said in his book, The One Minute Manager meets the Monkey, “for every monkey there are two parties involved, one to work it and one to supervise it”.  The monkey is the task or project.  You may have given the monkey to your child, co-worker or assistant but that doesn’t mean that you have absolved yourself of any other responsibilities.  You’ll need to make sure that the monkey is getting fed….and not over fed.  You don’t want to have a bunch of chunky monkeys running..er swinging around.

So how do you take care of the monkeys without getting them back?  Here are some ideas:

1. Pick.  Pick the right time and place to delegate.  If you are in the middle of serving twenty people a Thanksgiving meal and your daughter has never made gravy before…maybe you should wait until there is a little more time and (in my case) more patience before you give a gravy clinic.  If you are going to give a monkey to someone, pick the right time to do it.

2. Decide.  Decide if this task or project should be delegated.  If it’s not clear who is caring for a particular monkey, then you have decided.  You have abdicated and the monkey is running loose and no one knows who is in charge.  Like that annoying employee that reports to you but that no one likes and is afraid of.  You aren’t handling the monkey, so everyone else has to.  Decide if the monkey is yours or…not.

3. Select.  Once you have decided it’s the right monkey to delegate, select the right person or group to take care of the monkey.  If the new incentive plan needs an Excel expert, then find one.  Don’t just give the project to the closest person who seems available (especially if you don’t know their Excel abilities).  The monkey needs the right talent to take care of it.  Not just another animal at the zoo.

4. Define.  Define what success looks like.  If you ask your child to mow the lawn, you better be clear with timelines, parameters for what mowing the lawn entails (leaf blowing, edging, bagging of grass, etc.), and if there will be any compensation involved.  There have been plenty of family squabbles over something as minor as what mowing the lawn entails.  Make sure you define how to take care of the monkey.

5. Ask.  Make sure that they are up to the challenge of caring for a new monkey right now.  Maybe their plate is full.  Maybe they already have 50 monkeys and 13 of them are sick and in need of intensive care.  If I ask my daughter to edit a blog post for me (and I frequently do), I better make sure she’s not in the middle of mid-terms.  It’s important to ask if she has time for one more monkey.

6. Delegate.  Once you have completed steps 1-5, then hand off the monkey.  Knowing that it is the right time, place and person will make this much easier.  Instill your confidence in their monkey care-taking abilities and then walk away.  If they think there is any chance that you will be back for the monkey, it will erode their confidence and commitment to care for the monkey.

7. Track.  Track progress after you delegate.  Make sure they’re grooming, training and not over feeding the monkey. Make sure they aren’t taking on too many other monkeys or that the monkey you delegated to them may not get as much care and attention.  Let them know their progress along the way.  Just because you delegated, doesn’t mean you have absolved yourself of all responsibility.  Check in on the care and feeding of the monkey.

People who effectively delegate their monkeys are ultimately better leaders and citizens.  The team around them is more highly skilled and feels more empowered.  Try these steps and see if you can’t be more effective with your monkey management.

How do you delegate your monkeys?

3 Actions to Flip Your Perspective

There is an accident on the way to that critical meeting. You will never make it in time. Well, that deal is lost. Your coworker called in sick. Ugh. That project is stalled yet again. Can we never make a deadline? Your son is not returning your text. He must have been in a car accident. Or abducted by aliens. Or in jail. The one constant in all these situations is your negative bias in the interpretation of events. It’s stressing you out. Believe it or not, you oversee how you view these events. But Cathy! How can I possibly view these things in a different light?

I just started reading Shawn Achor’s book Before Happiness. Shawn suggests that success is based on being a positive genius. A positive genius is someone who can change their brain patterns to view the world in a positive light; to take in  information and put a positive spin on it rather than wallowing in negativity. Seems hard, doesn’t it? So much easier to succumb to the negativity bias that our brains are seemly hardwired for. You can change it, though. You can overcome your predisposition to view information in a negative light. You can. Really. Imagine all the worry and stress you can let go of if you choose to be the architect of your reality.

Here are Shawn’s three main points in choosing the most valuable reality:

  • Recognize the existence of multiple realities by simply changing the details your brain chooses to focus on. This reminds me of Byron Katie’s The Work. The first question in The Work is “Is it the truth?” I want to look at my son not returning a text as, “He doesn’t love me.” I can ask myself, “Is it the truth?” Let’s see. He got up at 6 AM to take me to a Colonoscopy. He’s been really supportive with recent issues with my dog. He sent me flowers for Mother’s Day. Nope. It’s not true. Of course, he loves me. So I need to realize that there are many interpretations of the information I have. So what if it’s been twenty minutes since I texted him. Maybe his phone is dead. Maybe he is working out. Maybe he is sleeping in. Focus on the details in a more positive light. As Mike Dooley says, “Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.” There are multiple realities at any given time. Decide on which reality to focus on.
  • See a greater range of realities by training your brain to see vantage points and see the world from a broader perspective. Shawn quotes a study where a group of people were asked to draw a coffee cup and saucer. EVERY person drew the cup from a side perspective. EVERY LAST ONE. I have to admit, if I am asked to draw a coffee cup or a house (for that matter), I will draw it from the side perspective. But can’t you draw it from a bird’s eye perspective? Are both true?Don’t you look down at your coffee cup in the morning? Isn’t that the perspective you usually see? There are hundreds of vantage points. It’s so easy to get caught up with our status quo perspective. We don’t typically re-frame it. There is a whole range of views. If my coworker is sick and the project might be delayed, maybe there are more resources I haven’t thought about. Maybe this is my chance to step up and own the spotlight. Maybe we need more data before proceeding. Open up your perspective to see more points of view.
  • Select the most valuable reality that is both positive and true, using a simple formula called the positive ratio. This is not creating a panacea. Choose data that is true and the most positive. If you constantly seek positive data, the outcomes are better. In companies, a Losada ratio of 3 positives to one negative indicates a more profitable business. So, when you get a seemingly negative data point, look for something positive. Rethink it – the car accident on the way to work, not a big deal? If you had been five minutes earlier that could have been you in that accident. At least you are still on your way to your destination. Be grateful for not being involved in an accident and still on your way. As Achor has advised, “Go out of your way to build employee strengths instead of routinely correcting weaknesses. When you dip below the Losada line, performance quickly suffers.” Look for the good and it will appear.

I’ve been trying to live by this over the last week or so. I look to interpret the current reality in a positive light. I’m not saying that my negativity bias doesn’t creep in from time to time, but I am slowly changing my default to looking at what’s right, rather than what’s wrong. Be a positive genius.

🏖️6 Surprises at Tybee Island

Tybee island is a barrier island off the coast of Georgia.  Even though it is an island, there is no need to take a ferry to escape the mainland to enjoy this funky, tranquil gem. I spent a week here in February of 2023 and I was surprised in many ways.  I love Savannah Georgia.  I stop in Savannah anytime I am on a road trip to Florida. When my son lived in Miami it was at least an annual trip.  Every time I traveled to Savannah, I knew there was a beach close by but it always seemed just too far out of the way.  Tybee Island is about a 25-minute ride from Savannah but it is so worth the extra time to get there. Having Tybee Island as the base camp for my trip was truly enjoyable as it was easy to park, walk almost anywhere and had lots of things to explore. 

The Tybee Island Lighthouse

Here is what are the 6 surprises I found at Tybee Island:

  1. Sunrise perfection.  My place was about a half mile walk to the beach.  After my initial morning of navigating a private neighborhood with my dog, Baci, in tow, I realized that pets are not allowed on the beach and that, although there are several boardwalks to the beach, the initial few walkways were private.  There was a handy bench on the boardwalk so Baci and I dutifully waited for the sunrise over the Atlantic from the boardwalk.  The sun would slowly peak over the horizon as the birds seemed to be choreographed to fly through the majestic scene.  Each subsequent morning, I went by myself so that I could walk on the beach. It was compelling how each morning was either a stark line across the horizon or a lavender haze seemed to envelope the sky. Clouds often created a cotton candy orange glow as the sun rose each morning. In the eight days I was there, I never failed to get up so that I could attend this spiritual rising.
  2. Tybee Island Lighthouse. One big surprise was that the lighthouse was about a 5-minute walk to the public beach on the north end of the island.  So, my daily sojourn to the sunrise brought terrific views of the lighted sentinel from the beach.  The lighthouse was first ordered in1732 by the Governor of the Georgia colony as boats sought to make a safe entrance into the Savannah River.  It also has a First Order Fresnel Lens. It’s part of what would later be Fort Screven which was a military post during the Spanish American war.  So, the lighthouse, the batteries of Fort Screven, the Atlantic Ocean and the Savannah River all converge on the north tip of the island amongst quaint summer cottages. 
  3. Eclectic neighborhoods.  Many of the homes I walked by each morning had a bohemian, down home charm about them.  There would be painted buoys hanging in the trees, pink flamingos standing guard next to statues of unicorns, alligators and dragons. The neighborhood’s tiny library had a red roof (like the base of the lighthouse) and was surrounded by a pile of oyster shells. Mismatched painted fences, sea turtle signs, narrow meandering gravel streets and flip flops as door handles created a funky artistic vibe. This is not a pristine manicured resort that is found at Hilton Head.  This is a one of a kind artistic mix and you never know what you will spy around the next corner.
  4. Joints and Shacks. The selection of restaurants in Tybee is definitely slanted towards seafood and dock/beach/marsh-side dining.   This proved to be somewhat difficult for a vegetarian so I ended up having some great seafood at several spots.  I never saw a McDonalds or Starbucks in my week at Tybee.  These are all mom-and-pop joints or shacks.  The Crab Shack is definitely NOT some franchise.  It’s a shack with most of its seating outdoors under precarious roofing, alligators in a pond out front and garbage cans in the middle of the table with a roll of paper towels for napkins.  Delicious fresh seafood but you will not find a white table cloth or metal silverware anywhere. Bubba Gumbo’s is a dockside joint right off the Lazaretto Creek which is more marina than tourist destination.  Just some hand painted plywood warning not to eat imported shrimp. When I parked, I almost turned around as it felt like I was invading a working marina.  The table I ate at had such a slant that I am sure an egg could have rolled off without any trouble.  No fluff or polish but great food.
  5. Cockspur Island.  Cockspur island is the home of both the Cockspur Lighthouse and Fort Pulaski.  It’s a National Monument and requires an entrance fee.  It has several trails on the island, one of which, I took to see the Cockspur Lighthouse which, at this point, sits in the middle of the south channel of the Savannah River.  It’s an easy hike and you have a view of both the Tybee Island Lighthouse and Cockspur lighthouse at trails end. Fort Pulaski was completed in 1847 and the recent West Point graduate, Robert E. Lee, was in charge to a good degree of the planning the construction.  It was never fired upon by foreign invasion but played a role in the Civil War.  The state of Georgia initially occupied the fort at the beginning of the war and the Union fired upon it in April 1862 and it was taken under Union control.  It was used as a prison for Confederate soldiers for the rest of the war.  You can still see the artillery damage on the outside of the fort and it’s completely surrounded by a moat which you don’t see often in the US. 
  6. Savannah.  The best part of staying in Tybee is that if you want to go explore Savannah, it’s less than a 30-minute drive. I love the riverfront of Savannah and its cobblestone streets and array of shops and restaurants. Even in February, there were loads of tourists on a Thursday afternoon which surprised me. On a recommendation, I took a tour of the Bonaventure Cemetery which was absolutely serene and lovely in late February with its angelic sculptures, Spanish moss and live oak trees.  There were plenty of stories about those buried in its hollowed ground. I finally got to see Forsyth Park with its enormous fountain and pedestrian thoroughfares.  Savannah is always worth a visit or two.

Tybee Island is a delightful, laid-back break from a hurried world.  I felt like I had hit the reset button while there and enjoyed all the surprises it had to offer.  Do you need a reset?

6 Tips on Developing Patience

Patience is the ability to reframe one’s reality into something that is more acceptable.  So, if there is suddenly a delay on the highway on the way to the airport, you can reframe it in a way that doesn’t cause you anger and frustration.  Perhaps there is another flight if you miss this one or maybe I get to spend one more day in paradise or in my cozy home. Jane Bolton wrote in article for Psychology Today that “impatience was a happiness killer.” That got my attention.  My habitual slide into impatience was killing my happiness.  Perhaps it was time to address my foot tapping anxiety, my constant clock watching or interrupting others to “get to the point” and embrace the space for just this moment.  

Here are 6 tips on developing patience:

  1. Determine what type of impatience you are suffering from.  Sarah Schnitker breaks it down into three types: Interpersonal patience (our ability to be patient with others like children and co-workers), patience in life hardships (when we deal with a significant setback like a hurricane or loss of a spouse or job), and patience for daily hassles (the irritation of daily hassles like wifi outages and traffic issues).  I tend to have an easier time with being patient interpersonally but can completely lose my cool when my Wi-Fi slows down or other daily hassles.  I can struggle with wanting to push a rope like when my returning to my house after Hurricane Matthew was dependent on one lowly cabinet that was back ordered.  Without the cabinet, can’t have a counter top, therefore, can’t have a sink, therefore can’t put in the flooring.  Ugh. It’s good to know that I’m strong in some areas so maybe I can build in other areas.
  2. Be an active listener. It’s pretty hard to fake being a good listener.  I knew an executive that was pretty good at faking listening but regardless of what story I was telling, they would respond with a completely unrelated statement.  Although they were great at maintaining eye contact and leaning in, their lack of understanding with a reframe of what I said, asking a relevant question or giving additional information made it clear they weren’t listening. Failing to be an active listener creates disconnection. I try not to check out but look for ways to create understanding by reframing and asking clarifying questions.
  3. Pay attention when the irritation starts.  I just completed a long drive from Tybee Island Georgia to Durham NC.  Every time I would see brake lights a quarter mile ahead headed north bound on 95, I could feel the stress take over.  I personally have been stuck in a 4 hour delay on 95 before and just the whisper that it could happen again can cause me angst. There was an oversize load that several semis needed to pass.  I remember thinking, “Well, let this just pass.”  I actually got in the slow lane to let all my impatient road buddies pass.  We were going 50 miles an hour after all, it’s not like I was walking home.  But knowing that I was starting to get frustrated help center me.
  4. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. As written on the Goodwill Blog, “Waiting around for something you really want or need doesn’t’t feel good. For many of us, waiting can be downright uncomfortable. And this discomfort often results in feeling impatient. How do you fix this? You can increase your tolerance for uncomfortable waiting periods by making yourself wait more often. That might sound counterintuitive, but, if you think about it, you can really become a more patient person.”  I remember reading this many years ago and the example was to get in the longest checkout line at the grocery store or (God forbid) DMV.  Another great test for me is to follow my beloved dog Baci on her smell wanderings.  I typically want to hurry up and get inside; letting her just wander with me tagging along can be a test in developing patience.
  5. Stop Multitasking. As much as I like to think that I am robustly juggling several things flawlessly, I am, in fact, just skimming from one task to another to another and spreading myself too thin.  As written by Goodwill, “Multitasking can also force us to move too quickly from one task to another. We might then expect others to move quickly with us. Forcing others around us to rush is a form of interpersonal impatience, and it can put a bad taste in others’ mouths about you.” The opposite of this is uni-tasking.  Focus on what is in front of you right now and put away everything else as a distraction. 
  6. Be here now.  When I was in that “almost stuck on 95 north” moment. I remember pulling into the right lane and thinking, these other folks like these truckers have some place they have to be.  I only have to be here alive, safe and with plenty of gas.  I’ll let everyone else be on their way and, eventually, I’ll be able to pass when it’s the right time for me. I always love Rick Hanson’s question, “Are you alright right now?’ Yes, yes I am. And now. And now.  And now. When I am Ok with the current moment, I don’t need to get impatient for the next moment.

I always admired my late father for what I saw as his infinite patience. A 35-year veteran of teaching 8th grade history and a doting grandfather to 4 grandchildren.  He was, as I reflect back, always just in the moment.  I imagine channeling him when I have felt impatience rear its ugly head.  “What would Daddy do? “How do you find patience? 

😳 4 Tips to Quit Judging People

I know you’ve done this. You’ve walked into Wal-Mart and have seen some atrocious outfit that is two sizes too small on an overweight woman or man. You roll your eyes and suddenly don’t feel so bad that you didn’t put on lipstick before heading out to shop on a Saturday morning. You’re at least presentable. Or, you’re reading a company email and notice someone’s name has been misspelled. You smugly fire off an email to the offending author to point out their error. You feel you have one over on everyone else. You are mentally making the case for your own superiority. It’s nice to be you. You get to be Judge and Jury to all the “lessers” gliding by. The problem is that it saps your energy and puts you into what the Arbinger Institute calls “a heart at war.” When you judge others you are ticking off the ways that they are not perfect. The gain is fleeting, the long term affects are that you start judging yourself as well. You are seeking perfection in everyone, especially that person in the mirror. I can remember asking my now ex-husband if I was as fat as another woman walking down the street. Like, as long as I’m not as fat as that woman, then I’m better than. You end up in a constant state of comparison.

I recently read The Anatomy of Peace, by the Arbinger Institute. It’s a great read as it is written as a story instead of being a text book on resolving conflict. The minute the lead character “Lou” starts justifying his feelings and thinks, “…when I betray myself, others’ faults become immediately inflated in my heart and mind. I begin to ‘horribilize’ others. That is, I begin to make them out to be worse than they really are. And I do this because the worse they are, the more justified I feel as myself.” This is me at Wal-Mart. I’m thinking, “Look at how poorly that screaming child is behaving” or “That cashier is incredibly slow” or “Can you believe that family has six kids?” I’m viewing them as objects which means I am so much better. It’s this constant exercise in comparison and justification that is exhausting and closes you off from really relating and connecting with others.

So here are the 4 surefire steps to quit judging others:

1. See others as people. This seems like it should be obvious. But when you really think about it, although you might see that they are living human beings, the minute you discount them in your head, you are turning them into objects. What I try to do instead is think “I wonder how her day is going.” This keeps me from seeing someone as an object and helps me be more empathetic and human I just tried this at Walmart. The cashier was going through the motions ringing up my stuff and I kept trying to make eye contact. I wanted to meet her gaze so I could smile at her. She wouldn’t let me in. I was an object in her eyes. It’s a two-way street and you have to keep to it.

2. They appear just as real to me as I do to myself. I think this is what John Gottman calls “Turning towards.” As Gottman defines it, “A bid is any attempt from one partner to another for attention, affirmation, affection, or any other positive connection. Bids show up in simple ways, a smile or wink, and more complex ways like a request for advice or help.” Accepting bids is a way to turn towards others in your life whether they be at work or at home or out in the world. Turning toward at work would be saying something like “yes and” instead of “no” to the idea of a new venue for an event. This is an old improv trick. Improv doesn’t work unless you accept the “bid” from the other person. Saying “no” or “but” is turning away or shutting down the bid.

3. Their cares and concerns matter to me as my own. This is true empathy. If you think about it, how can you be in conflict with a co-worker if their concerns matter to you as much as your own? It’s similar to the CRR Global tenet, “Everyone is right…partially.” Owning that everyone has some truth is critical for progress. It gets you out of digging your heels into your own righteousness. Go out and imagine slipping into your adversary’s shoes and walk around a bit.

4. I actively respond to their humanity. I’ve spoken on this topic at several corporate events. Everyone (I mean everyone) wants to be heard. I can remember the most sickening moment of my life was in a class when I was earning my Master’s Degree. The instructor had me sit in the middle of the room and told me to say something very profound. In the meantime, she secretly told everyone else to turn their backs to me and talk to each other. I felt ill. Marginalized. Small. Insignificant. There was no air in the room. No one was listening. The thing I learned from that experiment is being heard is a basic human need that is about as important as air.

I know this isn’t easy. It’s much simpler to pass judgment on someone. To discount them into an object and roll on. But as the Arbinger Institute says, this is a heart at war and a heart at war is in constant conflict. Open your heart to being a heart at peace and embrace the humanity that surrounds you.

😎7 Secrets to Dealing with a Narcissistic Boss

You made a big mistake. You criticized your boss for the way they delegated the project. Now you are in her sites. You’ve pulled the pin on the grenade and now you are holding it. No one critiques the narcissistic boss because the collateral damage is huge. Your next performance review will be toast and your next assignment will be unattainable and sure to fail with heroic deadlines not met. Hell hath no fury as a narcissistic boss who is criticized.

I haven’t had a narcissistic boss in decades but I sure see them around me. In fact, since I first wrote about narcissism, I’ve suddenly started to see them everywhere. Speaking engagements, workshops and parties, they are ubiquitous. How can you tell them? They do all the talking and very little listening. They are always right as well.

So here are the secrets to dealing with your narcissistic boss:

1. Do not complain to others. I know misery loves company but a narcissist is paranoid. Really paranoid. She is on the hunt for any detractors. And detractors will not be tolerated. Whether it’s texting or email or hushed voices by the water cooler, assume that the narcissist boss is omniscient. If there is a way to find out gossip about their carefully crafted image, they will find a way and there will be consequences.

2. Do not be friends. As Susan Price wrote for IvyExec, “Narcissists lack empathy, so they are not capable of true friendships. You might feel betrayed if you think you are becoming friends with one only to find they act without your interests in mind. If they are friendly to you, it is because they want something, whether your attention, your ideas, or anything else.” I have been personally burned by this several times in my career. I’ve had narcissists promise me the moon in my career only to find them to be completely empty. There is only one person they care about and that is themselves.

3. Keep your guard up. I know this can be exhausting. Constantly being vigilant for any sign of backstabbing or manipulation can take a lot of energy. Set boundaries and do not cross them. As Jacquelyn Smith wrote for Business Insider, “Understand that winds change quickly, and you may get undercut at any time. You can record and document every conversation and keep every email trail, but the narcissist has the ability to think quickly and act differently. And you will never see it coming.” Don’t get blindsided. Stay vigilant.

4. Give them praise. I know this seems like brown nosing, and it is, but the narcissist’s image of themselves is paramount in their mind. As Price writes, “Always remember that everything is about her/him. So if your words and actions make her/him feel good, she/he will be far more tolerable than if she/he feels that you are doing something that attacks her/him such as undermining her/him authority or criticizing her/him. Narcissists want praise and acknowledgement, so be prepared to give it to them.” A little sugar goes a long way.

5. Protect their image by taking the blame. Another bitter pill which is why you probably need to look at #7. Falling on the sword or keeping facts under wraps so that the narcissist’s image is maintained can be soul crushing. As Price posits, “Narcissists don’t take responsibility for anything negative, whether it is a bad culture in the office or declining revenues. It has to be someone else’s fault.” Scan the office for any detrimental indicators and proactively put them to bed.

6. Don’t compete with them. Narcissists are winners. They never lose. So don’t try and grab the limelight even if you worked 80 hours last week to get the project out the door. As Price writes, “Your boss will assume that you are doing good work because of what he taught you. Your award should be his; after all, you work for him, don’t you? You can’t win. Ever. So don’t play.” You are not opponents in a game, you are the support that helps them win.

7. Have an exit plan. I have a dear friend who was under the thumb of a narcissistic boss for upwards of three years. After empty promises and grueling months of 80 plus hour thankless work weeks, he started searching for his next job. So have a financial plan, keep your life in balance (don’t take this out on your family) and update your resume. There may be other opportunities in the organization. If you are not up to #1 through #6? Exiting gracefully is the best option. And don’t hesitate to use a professional coach or a friend help you with the plan and the process. You need someone on your side.

I think it’s like marriage. I was married to a narcissist and thought I could change him. It’s not possible. You can’t expect to change a narcissist boss. You can have all the staff development days in an organization but narcissists just point the fingers at everyone else. All they see in the mirror is their own carefully crafted image.

😁 5 Steps to Quit Awfulizing

Do you want to procrastinate? Do you like to procrastinate? Do want to come to a complete stop? Start worrying? Worry about the what ifs? Dwell on all the things that could happen? Might happen? Could happen? Should happen? It sucks the life out of you. Quit awfulizing.

I had a client gnashing her teeth because her child was going overseas for a month. Her biggest issue was the not knowing. How would they communicate? What is Skype? Where would he be living? So my question to her was: “How is all this worrying working for you?” Well, it’s not. It’s paralyzing, sleep depriving…a waste. Worrying or not worrying will not change the outcome.

I’m not saying I don’t understand. I have two young adult children who have been more than an hours drive away for the last four years. They are making their own decisions, their own plans and their own mistakes. My worrying or lack of worrying won’t change the outcome. But at least I sleep. This has not always been my M.O. (modus operandi). It’s taken me years to back off the Ledge of Worry.

How to get to worry-free in 5 not-so-easy steps:

1. Decide.  You need to simply get on board or not. Unless you really enjoy thinking of the endless amount of ways your child, parent or spouse could be in a car accident. If this is your fuel, then join the fretters club. But if you’re ready to do the mental dump and start living in the moment, then you need to make the commitment. This can’t work unless you do.

2. Optimism. You will need to be optimistic. This will be difficult for the glass-half-empty people out there. What if everything is going to be better than expected? Maybe the plane is getting in early. Maybe your team will go to the NCAA finals. Maybe the boss’s office door is shut because they are working on your raise. Everything is possible, including the windfall, the referral and the next project. Expect the best.

3. Turn it off.  The news that is. I was just in Atlanta and my friend had the evening news on. OMG. Shootings. Drownings. Murder. Car accidents. My blood pressure went up. My mind started wandering down horrible trails. What if that was my kid, friend, or coworker? Nothing good can come from the news. 98% is sensationalized and depressing. I’ve taken a clue from my daughter. She gets caught in rain storms without an umbrella or in freezing temperatures with flip flops on. She doesn’t watch the news or the weather. She takes is as it comes. Why ruin the surprise?

4. Moment.  As in, Ya Gotta Live in the Moment. This is the most difficult. There is always a certain  amount of reflection and planning in life. We just need to stop dwelling on embarrassments, back stabbing and finger pointing. We need to quit anticipating the worst outcome. So your friend has cancer. Worrying for them is not going to help them. Praying for them can. Assuming they will be cured is a much more positive approach. Being with them in the moment is a gift.

5. Alert.  Pay attention to your thoughts. No one else will. You need to be vigilant. Pessimism has a way of seeping into our heads. When you get caught in your fourth red light in a row, chill out. It’s going to be fine. Sometimes I fantasize that if I didn’t get caught at the red light, I would have been some place three minutes earlier and caused a car accident. This was meant to be. Just make sure you’re staying in charge of those fretting thoughts. You are your own sheriff. Clean out the riff raff.

So the next time your spouse/partner is late, imagine that they’re picking up your favorite coffee or scoring a new project. It will send out positive energy and you will sleep so much better.

What would you do?

👍Be a Better Person, Make Your Bed

Full disclosure, I am a reformed bed maker. I never made my bed as a kid, teenager, college student, newlywed or mother. Ok. I made my bed after washing my sheets, but beyond that or having company over, never. I would think, I’m so busy, there isn’t enough time, no one will know the difference. Then I dated a guy for several years who was probably best described as OCD. I learned a lot from this guy including, how to do perfect laundry (hint: hang everything immediately), how to make the perfect margarita (hint: fresh lime juice) and how to make your bed every day. Actually it wasn’t literally how to make your bed but more so the habit of making your bed. I began to appreciate the Zen of making your bed and, eventually, it became my habit as well.

Many years ago when I was married, at least once a week, I would leave the house before my husband is out of bed. When I arrive home, if the bed is not made, I feel let down. So no wonder that meeting didn’t go well. I immediately repair the situation and make the bed. Whew. Relief. The shui is back, as in feng shui. Feng shui is an eastern philosophy of positive energy flow. Regardless of what some Taoist said 3,000 years ago, a made bed feels better.

So here they are. The rationale behind making your bed everyday:

1. ProductivityCharles Duhigg’s, The Power of Habit says “Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.” This has been true for me. I am more productive when my bed is made. There is a sense of satisfaction that if I can make my bed, I can get all sorts of things accomplished. It’s the added advantage that it’s normally accomplished first thing in the morning and sets the rest of your day up for success.

2. Head. Karen Miller in an article called Your Bed is Your Head, says “Transform your reality. Face what appears in front of you. Do what needs to be done. Make peace with the world you inhabit. Take one minute—this minute right now—to enfold your day in dignity. Tuck in the sheets, straighten the covers and fluff the pillows.” I get this. Here is one of the largest objects in your life and it is at peace. There is space. Make your bed to clear out your head. It allows you to address those things that need to be tended to.

3. Chain reaction. Small habits start a chain reaction of big transformation. Duhigg says, “Small wins are exactly what they sound like, and are part of how keystone habits create widespread changes.” Keystone habits beget other habits so if you eat a nutritious smoothie in the morning, you skip going to Starbucks, you read a book instead of watching TV and on and on. It’s like lighting a fuse to momentum. I write better when my bed is made. I feel like exercising, eating better, working harder, being better. So a two minute task can do all that? Let’s do a temperature check. Is your bed made right now? What is the chain reaction either way?

4. Impact. In Gretchen Rubin‘s blog Make Your Bed, she says,” Especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed, picking one little task to improve your situation, and doing it regularly, can help you regain a sense of self-mastery. Making your bed is a good place to start, and tackling one easy daily step is a good way to energize yourself for tougher situations.” It seems so small. So mundane. It’s almost like it builds resilience. Hmmm. Instead of having a V-8, make your bed.

5. What is. I have been in relationships with various men who were not bed makers. They would frequently slept later than I and my expectation was that last one out of the bed makes it. Well, this was not a priority for them. I held a lot of resentment if they didn’t make the bed. I’ve let that go. As Byron Katie posits “Love what is“. I can spend all day wishing and praying or nagging and cajoling or I can let go and love what is. Find the joy in tasks like making the bed. There are plenty of other tasks that they do so ‘what is’ might be me making the bed. ‘What is’ are the two minutes in my life to embrace the simple elegance of making the bed. Set yourself free and love what is.

My kids, as young adults, still don’t make their beds. And I’m not about to twist their arms. The minute they head back to their homes from vacation, I head up to their rooms to make their beds. I don’t know if there can be better energy or chi by proxy through my efforts but I sleep so much better knowing that in the bedrooms above me, there is order and space. Do you make your bed on a regular basis?

🦋The Butterfly Effect

In case you are not familiar, the Butterfly Effect was coined by Edward Lorenz when he found that while trying to predict a hurricane’s path; he inadvertently rounded the decimal on a weather model and the outcome was vastly different than it would have been otherwise. This became termed chaos theory and equates with outcomes being influenced by minor fluctuations such as the flapping of wings of a distant butterfly at an earlier time, affecting current occurrences. This eventually turned into “if a butterfly flaps it’s wings in Brazil it could set off a tornado in Texas.” I prefer to think that the flip side of this is that if a small change is made by one person, the impact could potentially change a community and be like a wave gathering strength.

I have a client who is training for an ultra-marathon (any distance over 26.2 miles). For the last year he has been running and biking in his neighborhood, sometimes by himself and at other times with his young daughter. In the last month or so he’s begun to notice that there are a lot more folks who are either running, walking or riding bikes. In addition, people he doesn’t even know have been coming up to him and saying, “Oh you are that guy that runs”. Small change. Big impact. There’s no way to know if he’s the cause of the increase in exercise in his neighborhood but it seems like it might be and it sure didn’t hurt.

So how can you have an resounding impact? What butterfly are you? Here are some ideas:

  • More. Always, always, always phrase whatever change you want to make as doing “more” of something.   It’s just easier to measure doing more of something rather than less of something. So if you want to lose weight, say to yourself that you want to be more physically fit. If you want to be less shy, say to yourself that you want to be more self-assured. It’s the same thing when you are reprimanding an employee or writing a performance evaluation, phrase it in a way where it’s more. Like, “Suzy could be more accurate (instead of less sloppy)”. Suzy can then measure her effectiveness by being 99% accurate (instead of less than 5 errors). Always phrase it in terms of being/doing more.
  • The 20 Second Rule. Have whatever change you want to make be just 20 seconds away (or less). Shawn Achor wrote about this in “The Happiness Advantage”. All my running garb is in the same location and is twenty seconds away from my sink where I brush my teeth. I know I’m going to brush my teeth when I wake up, so it’s easy for me to put on my running stuff first thing in the morning and start running; no excuses. Make a path of least resistance. If you need to get that expense report done, put it on your chair so it’s the first thing you see when you come into work. Leave the document you are working on open on your desk top so that it is visually the first thing before you start any other project. Follow the 20 second rule.
  • Small. Start small. I recently started doing Yoga again. I knew if I did more than ten minutes the first time out, I would be way to sore and dejected to want to go back and do it a second time. This is true with anything. When I first started writing this blog, I would write for maybe 10 or 15 minutes at a time. I would never finish it in that time but if I spread it over several days, it was wasn’t a drag and, more importantly, it didn’t seem to be as overwhelming as “I want to write a blog post once a week for ten years”. When I start a new training, I just put an outline together for 15 minutes and then move on to something else. Easy peasy.   Take a very, very small step; incremental steps will get you to the same place.
  • Confederate. Find yourself a confederate. In the book “Change Anything”, they talk about having a source of social motivation. If you want to run a 5k find someone else who wants to run one as well. If you want to save more money, find an accountability partner who wants to save as well.   If you want to start your business, join a group of like-minded folks who will support you (especially when things get tough). This is the point of having an accomplice, they lift you up when there are bumps in the road and there will be bumps (if not potholes) in the road. A confederate will keep you on track.
  • Plan. Make a plan. When I ran my half marathon a few years ago, I had my runs planned out for the entire 4 months leading up to the race. I know I need to have my blog post written before Saturday so that I can get it to my “Brain Trust” for feedback and edits. It’s a habit. It didn’t start off as one. This can be phrased anyway you like. “The day starts at 4:30 AM”. “Exercise 3 times a week (at least once in the morning)”. “Study for 30 minutes a night”. “Spend 15 minutes cleaning the top shelf”. These are all actual action items from different clients.   They all phrased it in a way that meant something to them. But they all had a plan.

I spend maybe an hour a week on this blog and most of the time it’s completely out of my mind. But then I run into someone at a party and they say, “I love your blog”.   I may not see the end result but it’s having an impact somewhere for someone. In fact, I know someone who signed up for a half marathon and ran it, after my post on crossing the finish line. There is an impact.   You may not see it. So just like that butterfly in Brazil, you just need to start flapping your wings.