Evolutionary Adventure

I recently heard the term, evolutionary adventure, describing a documentary program about the evolution of carnivorous plants. While I didn’t jump to add that title to my Netflix favorites, the term rattled around in my brain for a few days and I grew to love the idea of applying it to our own adventures in life and business… because they certainly are an evolutionary process.

Webster defines evolution as a process of formation, growth, or gradual development in which something changes from a simple to a more complex or better form; an unfolding. Seems a perfect definition of what has transpired over time for me as a businesswoman, speaker, wife, mother, friend, and citizen.

Leading and living well is like residing in the same home for years. The rooms become more and more familiar the longer you live there but when nighttime and darkness descends, you still have to put your hands out and feel your way through… and even then, sometimes you stumble. Eventually the light always returns and you see more clearly and understand more deeply where the obstacles are and how to master the path between them. It’s an evolution of knowledge and experience; a true unfolding.

There is an Egyptian proverb which says that the archery marksman hits his target partly by pulling and creating tension and partly by releasing and letting go. That’s what personal and professional growth is… a continual process of pulling at goals and ideas, creating the tension of plans and action, steadying your aim and then releasing and letting go. Sometimes we hit the bullseye and sometimes we overshoot the target and miss completely. Either way we are learning and evolving.

The piece I’m working on remembering is that this is an eternal process with no end point. We’ve been evolving since we entered the world and will be long after we’re gone. So, if there’s no perfect place for which we’re striving but only the constant state of evolution then perhaps we could relax into the process more. How much more enjoyable might life and work be if we could remember going in to an effort or new situation that “we never lose… we only win or learn.” We only hit the bullseye or evolve. How much more fun would that game be to play

This week, play the rich game of learning and evolving versus simply winning or losing. Lean into the process with me of unfolding into a more complex and better form in this great big beautiful evolutionary adventure we’re all on together.

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Music Monday: Courageous Conversations

I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We don’t like doing it but we sometimes just don’t know or trust a better way. Am I speaking of our inability to resist that Krispy Kreme donut at the office? No, (though this paragraph would most likely apply nicely to that event) I’m speaking of the conversations in life that we avoid. 

We avoid conversations that we should have… conversations that we need to have… because we’re afraid. Afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. Afraid of negative, often unintended, outcomes. Afraid we might actually make things worse. And so, we avoid them. Stuffing down the words we want to say. Making light of something that’s actually important to us or continuing to trudge through something hard when even a small change could make it easier and better. Or even worse, feeling and acting like a victim when in reality we just aren’t willing to have those crucial conversations. 

We often base our future on the results we’ve achieved in the past. Even when we sat down with someone with the best of intentions, a lot of these conversations did not go well. And so, we learned to avoid them. And the problem with avoiding, of course, is that the situation rarely resolves itself and typically gets worse over time which strengthens our irritation, confusion, or negative feelings, erodes openness and creativity, and weakens relationships.  

I’d like to offer some hope that you actually can engage in these conversations and have a predictably better outcome than you’re imagining. I’d like to suggest that by recognizing and shifting a few limiting beliefs as well as adding a couple of tools to your toolbelt, you can encourage and engage in more of these crucial and courageous conversations. Here are a couple of beliefs that have helped me:      

  1.  I never lose. I either win or I learn. I love this quote and in this context, it’s a particularly helpful belief. When you believe you have no way of losing… no matter how the conversation goes… and the only reality will be that you either have a good outcome for both parties or you learn something powerful about what works or what doesn’t, where you need more coaching and practice, or you’ll gain some new insights about the situation, then you’ll have more confidence to engage in and be courageous about these opportunities. 
  1.  Crucial information may be missing. And so, I try to listen first and talk second. For example, “Sara, I want to talk to you about how we are handling our end-of-day closing process. I have some concerns and some ideas about it but first, I’m wondering how you think we’re doing?” It’s amazing the helpful and enlightening information you learn which, at the least, shifts your perspective and heightens your empathy and, at most, causes you to change your mind completely. 
  1.  Where we agree is a good place to start. Finding where you agree is a much stronger platform from which to launch the conversation to that place where you don’t. For example, “Would it be fair to say, Sara, that we both want to get out of here as close to 5:00 as possible to get home to our families?” Most reasonable people will agree. The rest of the conversation will be a bit easier because it now seems in service to the foundational place of agreement.  
  1.  Judgement is a relationship killer. Very few things are actually good or bad, right or wrong. Most either work or don’t work for the situation at hand. Instead of speaking about people doing things wrong or bad, switch your word choice to “This doesn’t work for maintaining our value of excellent service.” Or “This just works better for supporting the team in accomplishing our goals.” 
  1.  Nobody HAS to do anything. We really can’t make people do anything. It’s much better to speak about choice and show respect for and complete confidence in the fact that most people will make the choice that is best for them. We can speak in a much less threatening way when we highlight the person’s choice to align with our values, company vision, team objectives, or even what I call my “non-negotiables.” For example, “Sara, one of my non-negotiables is that we are all here at 7:45 ready to go for the day. I completely understand that it may not be possible for you to be the kind of mother you want to be for your children every morning and get here by that time for work. I respect that very much. Only you will know the options available to you and only you can decide if you can do both. And I’ll fully respect whatever decision you make. If you decide to continue to work here, you would need to be committed to our team agreement of a daily start time of 7:45 a.m.” In other words, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to and certainly not anything that goes against a core value for you and to work here you would need to be here at 7:45 am. I’ll always be your champion in being “at choice” and in making the decision that is best for you. (Because, I’ve already made mine.)
  1.  No two people will see the past the same. So it’s just better not to go there… but boy will the other person want to! Every time they go back, I go forward… meaning, when they say, “That’s not what I do!” (even if I don’t agree) I say, “Okay… and looking forward how can we create a way to ensure that it’s always done according to our agreement?” 
  1.  “And” is almost always a better word choice than “But.” Even in the example above, “and” is a better choice than “but.” “And” builds on the previous statement and “but” cancels it out. 
  1.  Creative solutions can surprise you. If you’re open and not married to being right, it’s amazing what two reasonable and thoughtful people can create. Go in with ideas and be open to the delightful surprise of an even better solution that you had originally. 

These are just a few tips but all of them take practice. The world needs more non-judgmental, thoughtful, and courageous conversations. Our own professional and personal worlds need them too… and leaders go first. So, step up. Be courageous. Open your mind and open your heart. Step out of anger and take responsibility for not speaking about these things sooner. Go into the experience ready to learn and grow yourself. Be sincerely curious and creative about what’s possible. Be a champion for the other person, no matter the outcome. 

On this Music Monday (always the first Monday of every month), I chose Say by John Mayer off the soundtrack from the motion picture, The Bucket List. I love his lyric: 

“Even if your hands are shaking, and your faith is broken,
Even as the eyes are closing, do it with a heart wide open…
Say what you need to say.”

Be courageous. Say what you need to say.

John Mayer – Say

“Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put ’em in quotations

Say what you need to say [Repeat]

Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you’d be better off instead,
If you could only

Say what you need to say [Repeat]

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You’d better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you need to say, say what you need to say
[Repeat]”

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The Land of “Yes!”

Jealousy doesn’t even begin to describe it. I so wish I would have thought of “The Land of Yes!” as the name for a company, blog, or even my personal homestead but alas our friend’s brilliant daughter laid claim to it first for her farm-to-fork catering company.  I simply adore how it sounds rolling off my tongue and all the possibilities that the name conjures in my mind. Darn it. 

Anyway, today’s message is about the idea of living in and speaking from “The Land of Yes!” which is the parent idea for the concept of “both/and” vs. “either/or” in our leadership thinking. It showed up big time in my life lately. Let me explain… 

Some people do their best thinking and get their brightest ideas in the shower, weeding their gardens, or floating in the pool. Mine come doing cardio… Just something about getting the blood flowing and the cobwebs cleaned out for me, I guess. Last week, I was on the treadmill with my “Flow” playlist cranked way up enjoying the usual flood of creative ideas and pleasing thoughts. I could almost smell the paella on the trip to Spain that Tom and I were planning. I could feel the sand under my feet on our business trip to Hawaii next month. But a nagging little image kept creeping into my pleasant travel planning. It was the haunting picture I’d seen on the news recently of an entire village in Africa who were literally starving to death due to famine and war.

Finally, acknowledging the attention the insistent image was demanding in my consciousness, I began to feel much less enthusiastic about my trips and the amount of money I would likely be spending on them. I felt guilty for not taking that money and doing some real good with it. I had a choice. I could take the trips and spend the money selfishly on myself or I could choose to donate the money or take some of it to the source and lend a helping hand myself. One or the other. Either / Or. 

And then I remembered. I live in “The Land of Yes!” where decisions are made from the “Both / And” paradigm. What if I could do both… take the vacations and donate or volunteer? All it would take would be one or two more clients. It would mean I’d just have to work a little harder to get both accomplished. 

But wait… I live in “The Land of Yes!” What if I didn’t have to work any harder? What if I found a way to work smarter so that the extra income didn’t come from me traveling and speaking more. What if I could have both more income and less hours on the road. If I stayed on the treadmill, I’d probably get that one good idea or inspiration to make that happen (not to mention lose a couple more pounds.) 

Hang on… I live in “The Land of Yes!” and what if I didn’t have to come up with any new ideas but instead make a quick phone call to pick the brain of my business coach who has already paved that road ahead of me? I could have both passive income and an immediate way to get it done. 

Living in “The Land of Yes!” became so fun I almost burned up the treadmill that morning. Almost. At any rate, it made for great MMS material and a great reminder to me that this is what it truly feels like to live in possibility where our work and our dreams do not have to be hard. Where the lines blur between the fun you have at work and the fun you have period. It’s all just a creation of our intentions and a game we are making up as we go along. 

This week, have some fun playing full out in “The Land of Yes!” seeing just how far you can take the “Both / And” paradigm as you intentionally create the business, career, and life that others just dream about.

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Blind Spots

It’s the one lesson from my high school Driver’s Ed class that I didn’t really learn until I had an accident (or two) in reality with more times than I can recall that were “near misses” … My blind spot.

My blind spot while driving is the spot that even when I glance in my rearview mirror and both side mirrors, a perfectly placed car can be hiding just out of view unless I make the effort to turn quickly and regularly and intentionally check it. It’s an accident just waiting to happen. And even worse, the more I don’t check my blind spot and don’t experience an accident, the more I believe I really don’t need to look at all. Wrong.

We all have blind spots in our personal and professional lives too, especially when it comes to our leadership. And if we’re not careful, intentional, and consistent about checking for them, we miss them completely as well as their useful corrections and over time while we’re doing relatively fine, we erroneously believe we don’t really have them at all. But we do.

My friend and master trainer, Tim Thriepland, posted this list a while back and, running across it last week, it struck me as so relevant to my own quest for becoming a better leader and for all those whom I am currently coaching. Here are seven reasons leaders have blind spots. If you had to pick one, which do you most identify with? I think I can identify with a couple of these.

  1. Birds of a Feather: You hang with people who think like you and agree with you the majority of the time
  2. Credit Bias: You give yourself credit for success and blame others for failure.
  3. Illusion of Superiority: You over-value your strengths and ignore your weaknesses. (You’re just awesome!)
  4. Comparing Down: You compare yourself with those who are less skilled, successful, or talented in order to build yourself up.
  5. Intention over Behavior: You judge yourself by your intentions versus your actions. You always mean well. But others judge you by your behaviors. You often look disinterested, disconnected, or disgruntled.
  6. Competence transference: You feel that competence in one area makes you competent in many or all areas. This happens when those who can do something well falsely believe they can manage people who do the same thing.
  7. Self-Rejection: Proud people use blind spots to hide from their frailties and protect their egos.Why is it important to look for, learn from, and open up our blind spots? Primarily because your relationships and connections with others get better and deepen when blind spots are embraced. The more authentic you become the more people can truly connect with you. Connections are counterfeit when you present a counterfeit self. You can’t engage in real relationships when they don’t really see the real you. Blind spots create barriers in relationships that limit our ability to positively influence them. They also undermine our own potential because the same issues keep coming up for us over and over and without exploring the related blind spot which may be the cause, we don’t see it as our issue and we don’t take responsibility.
    So if we’re blind to the trouble spot, how do we actually see it? We don’t. That’s the kicker. We start by validating the perception of others. Even if we don’t like them or agree, they are real perceptions. And most of the time, we should believe troubling feedback. When someone says, “You seem angry most of the time” … believe it. Say, “Thanks for letting me know.” And be curious. Ask, “What am I doing that makes me seem angry?” We have to be vulnerable enough to invite feedback from those we trust. We enhance our chances of success when we see ourselves honestly the way others see us. It’s incredibly useful in order to operate at our full potential.
    Seeing and embracing our blind spots is not something many people will be brave enough to do but for those that do believe they have them, search out people who will enlighten them and then act to correct them… they will attract opportunities and richness of relationships that others will indeed envy.

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One is often unconsciously surrounded by one’s own personal reality.
― Pawan Mishra

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Growth Conferences

One of the most important and yet frequently avoided or dreaded conversations a manager has with an employee is an annual performance review, or growth conference as we refer to them here at LionSpeak. This reticence typically stems from a lack of training and sometimes a lack of supportive structure that causes these conversations to end poorly with the employee feeling confused, discouraged, and sometimes even angry. The whole purpose of these meetings is to create just the opposite for the employee: Clarity, inspiration, growth, and confidence.

Here’s a simple structure that I use that may help organize and support your desire to lift, grow, and empower your team:

Listen: Before rattling off the list of things that must improve or change, start by asking and really listening to your employees point of view about how things are going for them. Listen in two ways: First, just simply ask how they think things are going and how their performance has been over the time period you’re discussing. This will allow you to understand them better and gauge their level of self-awareness as well as tailor your feedback later in the conversation. Secondly, if they offer areas they feel they would like to improve or with which they are dissatisfied, ask how they wish they would have handled it, what piece of knowledge or experience they believe is missing, what they would do differently to get a different outcome, or how they think the situation should / could be remedied? This allows the person to self-evaluate and coach themselves… which is a skill that all managers want to develop and deepen within their employees.

Lift: Again, before you start down your list of improvements, sincerely share with the team member the things that you appreciate about them and their work. Recognize what they have been doing well and allow them to expand on their strengths and accomplishments. Avoid the word “but” if you can and replace it with “and” as you move into the next section. Remember, “but” is the big eraser of what came before it so let these comments stand on their own with a simple period at the end of each sentence.

Grow: If the employee has some blind spots about their performance, deliver these points directly, respectfully, and framed as opportunities for growth. Think of this section as “feedback for growth” vs. “criticism of the person.” Speak more to the behaviors, results, and team agreements rather than to the individual as a person. This is an excellent time to model the communication behaviors and skills that you wish to see in all your people. For example, take responsibility for any lack of clarity about expectations, goals, or standards. Don’t be apologetic for the feedback but rather acknowledge your part in any breakdown about the communication in relation to the urgency or importance of the things for which you’re asking. Model active listening, positive expectation, and separating behaviors from the person. Ask for and document the next 2-4 action steps or commitments based on your conversation.

Reverse: Use this opportunity to grow your own leadership and communication skills. Ask your employee what you could do better as a leader and as their boss to enhance their performance and results. Receive this non-defensively and create a safe space for them to share their thoughts. Whether you agree or disagree with their assessment, this is incredibly valuable feedback for you as a leader.

Encourage: Beyond asking if the employee has any more questions, make a point to end on a note of gratitude and positive expectation. Say “thank you” and express your admiration and respect for their willingness to grow and improve. Remind them of your vision and the important role that they play in it as well as the fact that you have an open-door policy for anything that might arise in the future that is hindering their ability to perform at a high level. Express your belief in their potential to grow, develop, and excel.

The cost of avoiding these rich and essential conversations is high: Stagnate growth; frustrated people; and low levels of energy, commitment, and team spirit… not to mention unmet goals and potential. We can’t read each other’s minds, and being a brave, respectful, clear, and inspiring communicator is the hallmark of a great leader and of highly-functioning team members. If you don’t have these on your schedule, do it now. With the right structure, intention, and skills, you’ll quickly realize your company can’t live or grow without them.

If you’d like to receive our complimentary Growth Conference Kit, email us at info@LionSpeak.net with Growth Conference in the subject line. We’re happy to share our system for helping teams and the people within them access their greatness and achieve amazing things!

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Superstars

KEA - 3-6-17 MMSThere are times when focusing completely and solely on yourself is the most powerful thing that you could do to achieve your goals. 

Likewise, there are times when individual focus actually sets you back from your goals, times when it’s to your great advantage to place your full attention on the larger tribe or team to which you belong. 

Case in point: I took a fantastic and long-overdue hike with a couple of girlfriends last week in the Sierra foothills around Sacramento. It was a spectacular Spring day with the California countryside looking more lush and green than it has ever been in my memory due to the rains we’ve had this year with rushing creeks and powerfully flowing waterfalls at our every turn. Mid-week, with hardly another hiker in sight, it was like we had been granted access to a corner of heaven all to ourselves for a couple of hours. 

It had a been a while since I’d seen one of the gals, Lynn, and we were using this time to catch up on all of the happenings in our lives. Lynn is a sports lover. Fit and strong and athletic. Having played basketball most of her life, she has coached the local high school girl’s basketball team for years. Professionally interested in any kind of leadership tips that I can get my hands on (and if I’m honest… always on the hunt for weekly Stretch material!), I asked Lynn if she had any young leaders on her team which she deemed remarkable in some way and, based on her years of experience, how did she think that happened in young people? Nature or nurture? Was it God-given or did they develop it along the way? 

Her story was revealing. She said that last year their team was one of the most winning teams in their division even though every player measured well under six-feet tall with only a handful of them being seniors. They were almost unbeatable even against the larger champion teams. And it was due to one player: Andrea. 

Andrea wasn’t very tall but a little dynamo. Her work ethic was a marvel. She was the first to practice and the last to leave… and 100% focused while she was there. Cell phone turned off,homework in the backpack, and troubles left at home. She spoke to every teammate when they arrived and encouraged them on the court vocally and loudly. If she didn’t hear what her teammates wanted from her, she shouted the question and quickly built a culture KEA - MMS 3-6-2017of spoken and unspoken communication signals that knitted them all together on the court like a tightly woven fabric which no one, most especially the opposing team, could penetrate. When interviewed about their success, she humbly and emphatically diverted all praise to her teammates and their total group effort. Though there had never been an official vote or title granted, the team unequivocally held her as their leader.  They trusted her. They counted on her. They were inspired by her in soft and subtle, yet consistent, ways.

Fast forward to this season. The new team has four players over six-feet. Most high school teams, according to Lynn, would kill for just one. Things are looking really good to finally seal the State Championship. But there was one problem: Andrea graduated and no one has stepped into her place. Worse yet, the girls (especially the tall ones) seem to feel that if they can shine individually on the court above and beyond their teammates, they could be picked to play on a summer travel team where they will be scouted by college agents for scholarships. And so, they play for themselves. And with all focus turned inward, Lynn said that they were the most “mute” and Un-inspirable team she had ever coached. Without the impenetrable team language, the shared values of work ethic and conduct, high levels of trust, a singular desire to only win or lose together as a team, and with no apparent leader, they had one of the worst record of losses in the school’s history. 

Thank you, Lynn, for handing me this week’s Stretch on a platter. 

There are times when the most powerful thing I can do to reach my goals is to focus on me and only me… without a care for what anyone else thinks, does, or does not do. There are also times when the most powerful thing I can do is step out of my singular focus for my own welfare, out of the spotlight and attention, and turn my focus outward to be a leader within a team of leaders where all of our ships are elevated with one rising tide. 

A business with more than one person or more than one client is a team. And a team thrives best when everyone is playing for the team, not for their own individual gain or glory. And the real lesson for me and all of us is that when we do this right, we actually stand to gain much more collectively than we could have alone. I’ve met teams who worked so well together with no clear superstar (including owner, doctor, or office manager), and their team become so highly respected and well known for such a high caliber of quality and service that anyone who listed past employment there on a resume and carried a letter of recommendation was automatically assumed to be one of the top candidates. 

This week, think about how you could show up as “Andrea” for your team. Consider how your own work ethic, professional example, encouragement and humble pride could lift and build your team. Discuss as a team how you could improve the comradery and shared communication with one another so that all your ships lift with one rising tide. 

 On this Music Monday (always the first Monday of every month) I choose Hall of Fame by The Script. The first stanza is about individual performance:

“You could be the greatest. You can be the best. You can be the King Kong
beating on his chest… dedicate yourself and you can find yourself standing
in the Hall of Fame and the world’s gonna know your name.”

But later in the song it addresses the same greatness for inside of teams and communities:

“Do it for your people, do it for your Pride, How you ever gonna know if never even try?
Do it for your country. Do it for your (team’s) name cause there’s gonna come
a day when you’re (all) standing in the Hall of Fame and
the worlds gonna know your (team’s) name.”

I hope I do things in this life so the world knows my name, but more importantly I hope I lead a legacy company that transcends me and becomes sustainable without me for the long haul… and that the world knows our name, LionSpeak, and that it’s a name which always represents finding and lifting the very best in all of us. 

The Script:  Hall of Fame

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
Have you ever glimpsed someone greater inside of you?
Every glimpsed it in someone else?
Bring Out The Leader in You!
(DVD)
 
 
DVD logoJoin renowned international speaker and trainer, Katherine Eitel, as she takes you on a journey of discovery into the wilds of your own potential, through the jungle of effective training skills and helps you master a simple principle that is key to unlocking the instinctive greatness within yourself and others.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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Strictly Business

You’ve heard it said before: “It’s nothing personal. It’s strictly business.” Maybe you’ve said it yourself. But what’s the distinction?

If we operate our whole lives, business and personal, from a set of personal values, then what we do, the decisions we make, and the way we treat others in our personal and professional lives should jive.

A total stranger helped me yesterday with a case of water bottles I was struggling to lift from the bottom of my Costco basket into my car and then walked my empty cart along with his to the cart lot. I’m guessing he would do the same if someone at his work needed his help.

If you are a strict parent at home who follows through on clear expectations in the hopes of raising responsible citizens, do you use the same tools, clear expectations, and follow-through with your employees?

13152603_sIf doing the right thing whether you receive gain for it or not is an important value for you at home, wouldn’t that also hold true in your dealings with clients and teammates at the office?

I’ve been working a lot lately with large, corporate, national sales teams on improving their speaking, short presentations, and sales skills. One thing I’ve noticed is the overall quality of these folks. They are hardworking, innovative, eager to learn, brave, and most of all… truly caring individuals. They really do want to improve the lives of their clients and it’s a true thrill for them when that happens. It seems like the thing they want more than anything is to really make a difference with their products and services, be rewarded fairly for that exchange and … get through a week where their clients and prospects view them as truly helpful and sincere rather than being pushy, forceful, or selling them through a dishonest, one-sided approach.

I heard an interview last week with Kip Tindell, the CEO of The Container Store company, and I believe he just might have an answer. Tindell has developed seven “Foundation Principles” on which they invest more than 260 hours of training in the first year alone with new employees (the retail average is 8!) Those same employees are also paid double the industry average. Turns out that running a company based on strong values that people can align with, investing in strong relationships and clear expectations, and creating a work environment that is hard to duplicate in the marketplace has resulted in less than 10% turnover in a retail industry where the average is 50-75%. It’s also built a strong company which now has over 70 stores and growing.

One of those principles is called “The Man in the Desert Selling” which is based on a fable authored by Tindell himself: There’s a man lost in the desert, and he stumbles upon an inhabited oasis. He asks for a glass of water which he is graciously given with nothing asked of him in return… but what else does he need? He probably needs to call home, to eat some food, and maybe to protect himself from the sun with a hat. Tindell said,

“I like the philosophy and how it puts the imperative on helping first. And you don’t ultimately help the customer by passively wimping out. Say one of our customers has a tie rack in one hand and a shoe rack in the other. It’s not a big leap to guess that she has a closet that’s driving her crazy. So if you wimp out and let her get out of there with only those two items, she’s still going to have a mess of a closet when she gets home. I ask my people to find out and care about what our customers are experiencing. I ask them to be brave and compassionate enough to introduce her to simple, complete systems that radically change the way people get themselves organized and save time and money as well as stress. Show her how to turn a messy closet where she can’t find a thing and help her get the whole closet organized. We’ve received a mountain of fan mail and reviews about how our sales associates have improved the quality of people’s lives by introducing them to ideas and products they wouldn’t have ever known about or understood. In the long run, this client will be ecstatic knowing the problem is actually solved.

We are a company that feels that we should live by the same code of conduct in life as we do in business. We believe that life is vastly better when you are well organized. Everybody’s so time-starved today; we feel we are improving the quality of life by giving the gift of organization and saving time and space.”

Listen first, truly care about the client’s outcome, be brave and compassionate – values that drive a company as well as people.

This week, think about the alignment of values that drive your company, practice and personal life. Listen to and care for your clients in a real and genuine way and consider that what you are selling is actually a great service to them. Take a stand for your clients in helping them see that your service is the best and right thing for them.

And remember, it’s not just business… it’s your whole life.

This week, we recycled one of our most popular MMS’s
from several years ago. Our new subscribers will enjoy
Katherine’s story and the lessons she took from the experience.
And to all of our MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers 
from the beginning… you’ll remember why we love seeing the
world of business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.

dividerfeb-27-ad-for-wordpress-bottom-half“Life comes from physical survival; but the good life comes from what we care about.”                                                                                                          ~~Rollo May

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Being Present

MMS 02202017A woman once said to me, “Aren’t you so lonely when you travel alone? I would desperately miss my family. I would absolutely hate sleeping, eating, and traveling by myself. I don’t know how you do it.” Thank goodness, most of the time, there is a filter between what I think and what actually comes out of my mouth. At the time, I had two rowdy, highly challenging teenage boys at home, and I distinctly remember thinking, “Oh yeah. It’s awful. Horrible beyond words, really… all those long, hot baths that no one interrupts because they need something. All that room service where I order only what I like along with a glass of wine or two, accompanied by a chick flick that no one else will watch without complaining or reading a great book in the comfort of a King-size bed where I can arrange the pillows in any configuration I please. It’s really dreadful.” 

What I actually said was, “Well, one does what one has to do,” or something to that effect. Like I said, thank goodness for the filter. The truth is it does get lonely on the road sometimes, especially on nights like tonight. It’s Valentine’s evening and I’m on the road, sitting in a quiet hotel bar, writing my Monday Morning Stretch because, well, there’s nothing else to do. This is the sometimes sad life of a speaker/trainer. Not all wine and roses but like most things in life, it’s not all bad either. These days I can pretty much stay connected in ways I couldn’t have done just a few years ago. 

But whether I’m traveling or at home, I have a love/hate relationship with my cell phone, laptop, and all that comes with them… social media, Internet, email. Even though I may only see them occasionally, I love that I’m more connected than I’ve ever been with colleagues and friends that live all over the world. I love that I can get my pre-measured, ready-to-cook meals each week delivered to my door along with most of my clothes, shoes, gifts, office supplies, and prescriptions – all next-day delivery via our amazing Amazon Prime. I love that I can Skype with my sons in Texas and virtually attend a client meeting in Canada… in my slippers. I love that I can text love notes to my husband when I’m on the road to let him know that he’s on my mind if not in my sight. And of course, my business could not run without email, websites, digital marketing, and online learning. 

However… as I write this (on my laptop, just to be transparent), I’m looking at no less than 10 people sitting in this bar, all staring at and scrolling through their cell phones. There is one gal engrossed in a honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned paperback book but otherwise… all digital and all disconnected to the real live humans around them. Eerily quiet, not one person is speaking to another or even to the bartender who is also in the corner on his cell phone. No one spoke to me on the plane ride here, hardly anyone looked at me in the airport, and tomorrow when I take a break at my client retreat, my experience tells me that everyone will run for their cell phones … including me. 

So, good or bad? I don’t know. I don’t want to be that old curmudgeon who, generation after generation, claims the world is upside down and going to hell in a handbag when in fact it’s just evolving. But I do think we did things differently when we weren’t so constantly connected to the world at large and disconnected from the smaller world in front of us. Our kids did learn to entertain themselves, enjoy the beauty of nature, strengthen their imagination muscle, manage boredom, experience stillness, presence, and mindfulness… and, maybe the most important, learn true conversation, consideration, and thoughtful debate skills with others. Into our adulthood, we continue refining the same skills when we weren’t constantly digitally connected. I think we’ve grossly underestimated the value of being still and quiet. Sometimes, I wonder if we’ve become so unaccustomed to it that we are, in some way, a little frightened by what we might actually hear in the silence… when in fact, that is the truest of true messages. 

So, I’ve made a commitment to some small ways I can balance it all a little better. Tom and I are getting up 30 minutes earlier each morning to read together, meditate and pray, and start our day a little more connected to each other’s goals and desires. We’ve also created a true quitting time for our home-grown businesses so that we can turn off the electronics and professional demands and turn on some music and make our ready-to-cook, mail-order Hello Fresh dinners together while we talk about our day, our accomplishments, and whatever lessons the day has handed us. I’ll take my exercise alone so I can listen to my own heart and practice the ever-useful skill of mindfulness. And one night a week, we’ve committed to having dinner somewhere completely disconnected… no cell phones, no laptops, no TV- just good old conversations with each other and, maybe more importantly with friends, family, and the interesting, sometimes lonely, strangers all around us. And lastly, I promise to at least say hello and make eye contact with the people in my personal orbit when I go about my daily business… instead of never looking up and acknowledging they’re there. 

In the time in the middle, Tom and I will be stuck to our laptops and on our phones as much as anyone, I’m sure. But it’s good to find balance where we can and not to believe that anything we could write on Facebook or in a text could ever replace a personal conversation, hand-written note, book read with a child, meal shared with a friend, or just the quietness of staring at the stars with your lover. The video below, posted recently by my colleague, Jane Atkinson, perfectly demonstrates in the most beautiful way the power that we all have to put down our technology and connect with intention to the present moment and the real, live humanity right in front of us.

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“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think
that’s what 
we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an
experience of being alive.” 
~~ Joseph Campbell

 

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Mental Toughness

I recently watched a documentary on the history of the Navy Seals.  It was a fascinating study on leadership, teamwork, and personal development.  Navy Seals are a phenomenon of human capability in terms of physical, intellectual, and emotional leadership skills.  They are trained to be the sharpest, quickest, strongest, and bravest men on the planet.  Highly skilled at scanning their environment, quickly assessing risks and opportunities, flawlessly communicating with fellow teammates, and managing mindfulness, internal calm, and fear, these men have developed an almost superhuman ability to succeed in their missions. 

When asked what the single most important skill that a Navy Seal must learn was, a tenured naval trainer replied, “I know I can always get a Seal trained to be physically strong and capable but I cannot make him emotionally strong and mentally tough.  That he must do on his own and he must do it if he is to succeed as a Seal.  It is by far the most important skill.” 

Emotional strength and mental toughness for a leader are a must.  If you own a business or lead a team, you will eventually be faced with, at the least, a challenge and, at the most, a crisis.  Others on your team will look to you for guidance and direction, and the way you react and navigate these situations will speak volumes to them as well as inform their own subsequent reactions. 

My husband, Tom, is starting his own business since retiring from teaching.  His first venture into entrepreneurism has had all the normal highs and lows, ups and downs.  Recently, he commented that one day he feels on top of his game and the very next day, he wonders if he’s even got what it takes to make it.  My reply?  Welcome to being an entrepreneur.  Welcome to becoming a great leader.  This is where you dig in and learn to just stay in the fight.  This is where we build that emotional and mental muscle as much as physical ones.

Developing this kind of mental toughness is the single most important skill if anyone is going to make it in business, and in life for that matter.  The toughness to find a way around the seemingly insurmountable obstacle.  The toughness to hold yourself and others accountable.  The toughness to do what other’s will not do.  The toughness to remain calm in the storm, thoughtful in the argument, and steadfast in your own discipline and growth.  This really is what develops true leaders and true success.  

This week, consider how and where you can develop and exercise more emotional strength and mental toughness.  Where can you be more patient, more focused, more disciplined, and stay in the challenge of your own growth just a little longer than normal.  If building their emotional and mental muscle is even more important than their physical muscles to a Navy Seal… shouldn’t it also be for us?

 

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February 2017 workshops in San Diego
Last Chance to Register!
Level I
The Lioness Principle™
Transformational Trainer’s Workshop
M
onday, Feb. 27, 2017 ~ Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017
lions roar
The Lioness Principle™
Inspirational Speaker’s Workshop
Wed., Mar. 1, 2017 ~ Thurs., Mar. 2, 2017
Click on the following links to Register TODAY!
Transformational Trainer’s Workshop Level 1
Important Note: If you sign up for both workshops,
you will need to register separately for each
as they are processed individually.

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“The biggest wall you have to climb is the one you build in your mind.”
~Vince Lombardi

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Music Monday: Dancing with Life

I believe in facing “what is” head on and learning to dance with the reality I’m handed… with one exception. Even though I know that loving someone or something is likely to end in, I chose to ignore the inevitable consequence and do it anyway.

About a year ago, when we were on our way to pick up our new yellow lab puppy, a friend commented that he couldn’t
understand why anyone our age would get a puppy, fall in love, and get so attached when they knew how the story would likely end. He wondered why we would invite such heartbreak when we could avoid it all together. He commented that he had experienced such pain in the past, was positive he couldn’t bear it again and so would intentionally avoid it. I totally understand his position. Totally. And, I couldn’t disagree with it more.

Life is risky. Love is riskier. Period. If we love anyone or anything, we can and probably will get hurt, experience grief, and feel pain. Sometimes we will see it coming and even though it is hard, it will make sense to us. Sometimes we will not see it coming, and it will blindside us with a sucker-punch to the gut that will take our breath away and temporarily make us question the benevolence of The Universe.

Choosing not to love because of the potential for loss is like refusing to drive because we fear being involved in an accident. If we miss the risk, we miss the freedom. If we miss the pain, we miss the love. If we miss the rejection, we miss the opportunity. If we miss the loss, we miss the life. We have to love like we won’t be hurt… even though we might… whether it’s a job, a child, a friend, or a puppy.

Last month, my friend’s prediction came true. Our sweet Shiloh wandered out to the highway on our Ranch and was hit by a car. We were dumbfounded and heartbroken and couldn’t catch our breath for days. Thinking about doing it all over again and loving another sweet puppy seemed utterly impossible, but we knew enough to simply give our shock and grief some space and time to flow through. And it did. We really are so much stronger and more resilient than we think.

A few weeks later, when Tom told me that our breeder had posted a new litter of puppies from Shiloh’s sire and her mom’s sister on Facebook… I knew he was healing and beginning to move from the past to the future once again. What choice does he (or any of us) really have but to eventually move forward with living? Everything’s in motion. Life is fluid. And love is worth the risk.

So … please say hello to Sierra… our newest little “risky business” of love. She’s already her own little personality, and yet we recognize the likeness of our sweet Shiloh in her face. What a gift.

Here’s what we don’t know:

  • We don’t know why Shiloh was taken from us so soon.
  • We don’t know how long we’ll have this little soul in our lives.
  • We don’t know which piece of furniture we’ll lose next in the process of puppyhood.

Here’s what we do know:

  • It takes courage to love and be loved fully.
  • We’re grateful for the beautiful time we had with Shiloh and for the confidence she gave us about how to raise a well-adjusted, well-behaved, and good-natured dog.
  • We’re crazy about Little Miss Sierra already.
  • New love of any kind breathes life back into a home and that includes new furniture, new lovers, new babies, and new puppies.
  • Our hearts are resilient and wide open, and apparently with unending room to love again and again and again. 

On this Music Monday (always the first Monday of every month), I’m resurrecting one of my favorite tunes, The Dance by Garth Brooks, which speaks to the tradeoff of living a full life and enjoying the profound gifts of an intimate relationship… even if the inevitable end of that time is painful.

Missing the pain means missing the dance. It’s one of life’s great tradeoffs. I hope you choose to dance.

Garth Brooks – The Dance

“Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared ‘neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn’t I a king
But if I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

Yes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance”

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Leadership principles spring to life at the height of the largest
animal migration on the planet and LionSpeak will bring you up close and
personal to all the action and the staggering beauty!
Mindware Seminars has created a 5-Star experience of some of
the world’s most awe-inspiring landscapes coupled with exquisite
resorts and safari camps, historical/wildlife/educational tours, gourmet
meals, and 8 hours of CE with leadership communication expert,
Katherine Eitel Belt.
People who’ve gone before say you’ll never be the same after an
African Safari… join LionSpeak and find out for yourself!
kea-headshot-from-flyerSafari Dates:  August 16-26, 2018
Zanzibar Extension:  August 26-29, 2018
Click here for further Safari Details
Click here to Register

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