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3 Simple Steps To Bust Through Procrastination

Can you stop procrastination and get into action in 3 simple steps?

Absolutely! But first, I have a confession …

procrastination clock

How to stop procrastinating and get into action!

Because I encourage my executive coaching clients to practice the values of  transparency and humility, I will “walk my talk.”

Just last week I delivered a presentation to business owners about how to be more efficient with your mental energy, avoid overwhelm, manage multiple priorities and get things done.

My confession: I have been struggling with how to stop my procrastination pattern this week.

Thanks. I feel better already.

In order to interrupt the pattern of procrastination and take action, I used it as motivation for me to write.

I’ve heard from very smart, successful clients of mine doing (in fact, I did #6 AND #1 just today so maybe I should re-title this: “Top 10 Signs I Am Procrastinating.”  Then I can add Personal Integrity to my values list, too).

Because awareness is the first step to stopping procrastination, or any bad habit, I made a Top 10 List of what my procrastination pattern looked like (and I borrowed a few from my coaching clients, too).

Are any familiar to you?

Top 10 Signs You Might Be Procrastinating:

10. Eating something non-nutritious so you can stay awake while you watch the online training (hopefully not mine!)

9. Checking your email every 3 minutes

8. Looking for inspiration from articles on the internet so you can write your own article (this is me today)

7. Reading just one more article about “how to do …” so you can start doing whatever it is you should be doing

6. Checking LinkedIn for who’s viewed your profile

5. Replying TY for RT’s to all of the Twitter Followers in the past 3 days

4. Looking on Facebook to find people you went to high school with you never really cared about anyway

3. Repairing and painting the wall where the puppy chewed a hole last week

2. Watching the news to find out the horrible things that are happening today

1. Editing the promotional page for your upcoming leadership program for the 7th time today so that it’s perfect before you send it out

I could take this a step farther and feel guilty or ashamed about being so imperfect – and we could take it one step beyond that and say I’m a hypocrite.

Yet I choose not to … I choose instead to offer my human-ness up to you as an opportunity to learn and grow, for myself and most importantly for you if you so choose to take on The “BS” Challenge!

What Do You Mean By BS?

It no longer surprises me when one of my executive coaching clients who is highly respected and extraordinarily successful by anyone’s standards discloses their deep, dark BS: “If people only knew what a fraud I am (or feel like at times), then the secret would be out … and I would finally be discovered for who I really am.”

After years of hearing this fear coming from powerful, influential business people, I now recognize where this shame and fear comes from – it comes from “BS.” BS is far easier to recognize when it comes from someone else’s mouth rather than from inside your own head.

Brain science can now tell us a lot about what motivates human beings (no matter what your title), and more importantly, what we will work very hard to avoid. Proven strategies based in neuroscience can help us to very quickly to re-wire our brain to get unstuck, solve the challenge de jour and keep the problem from rearing its head again – ever.

But first, we need to change at the level of thinking – and explore BS. Let’s use mine as an example.

BS: The SHOULDS and the SUPPOSED Tos

What do I mean by “BS?” (This is where you say “b*llsh*t”).

bs button

Don’t let BS keep you stuck in procrastination patterns!

Okay … let’s go with that one.

BS also can refer to our “Belief System” which for the most part is full of BS.

Now I’ll put the shoe back on my own foot: If I believe I SHOULD NEVER PROCRASTINATE or I SHOULD NEVER WASTE MY TIME DOING SOMETHING UNPRODUCTIVE especially because what I assist others to do is to be productive, and if I procrastinate, then I must also be hypocrite.

Now who’s the one with the big dark hairy BS? That would be me. And I feel incongruent because “I don’t practice what I preach.”

Are these rules similar to what you believe, too?

If I choose to keep this BS, I will not feel creative, inspired or motivated. Just stuck and embarrassed if anyone finds out what I believe … and those feeling states will not get me very far today. The good news is now that I’m aware of the BS, or belief, I can challenge it, keep it or replace it if it’s holding me back. And if I can do it, so can you.

How do I stop the pattern of procrastinating?  Simple.  I asked myself a question to uncover and challenge my own BS, “What do I have to believe to feel embarrassed that I am procrastinating right now?”

One possible answer/belief is “I ‘should’ never procrastinate because I coach other people on how to stop procrastinating.  I should have ALL the ANSWERS!”

The follow up response and question isFair enough … and what elsecould be true?”

Yet, what else is true is that I am human. So I used the strategy ofAcknowledgement … simply acknowledge the feeling … “right now I feel embarrassed that I am unmotivated and procrastinating.”  Here is a surprising fact based in brain science:  Simply labeling a feeling releases negative energy attached to that belief.  And reduces it’s power by almost 50%.

Then I ask the third question, “Okay, so I feel embarrased. What’s one small thing I can do right now to get into action to feel more productive?” The easy answer comes quickly … and my answer was to start writing … just write for 5 minutes. And in 30 minutes, I am finishing this article.

What are some other things you do that keep you from spending time doing the things you could be doing to move you forward?

Do you have a deep, dark fear or belief that holds you back from resolving challenges or avoiding  situations where you lack confidence?

If so, then I have good news for you: ACE!  Take these 3 Step ACE Approach to Get Out of Procrastination and Into Action:

ace

Break the procrastination pattern in 3 Simple Steps!

#1. Awareness of and then check out the BS –“What do I have to believe to feel frustrated, stuck, etc.?  That could be true … and what else could be true?”

#2. Choice:  You now have at least two choices.  Go with the BS as if it’s the only
truth (which it isn’t), or consider other beliefs that could be true

#3. Execution: Find one small step you can take to get unstuck and into ACTION – “What is one small thing I can do right now?”

When was the last time you confronted (or at least checked out) the BS in your head that’s holding you back from being a productive and proactive leader?

If you are ready to check out your incongruent, competing or limiting beliefs and replace them with supporting beliefs so you can take action you need now to propel you forward in your leadership effectiveness, I would be honored to offer you any resources I have to assist you!  Click here now to get more information or to arrange your confidential and complimentary Leadership Strategy Session.

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What is a Sustainable Leader?

Sustainability: the capacity to endure; to conserve resources; built to last.

What is a Sustainable Leader™?

teamwork_lift_earth_pc_800_clr_2960A Sustainable Leader is one who is built from the inside out, and the outside in, connected to the team by being an authentic, leader who genuinely cares about others.

A Sustainable Leader is resilient and an agile learner, built to last through uncertain and rapidly changing economic conditions.

A Sustainable Leader intentionally develops the potential in others, so they too can develop into exceptional leaders who can carry through the company’s mission and vision.

“In today’s fast-paced, high-demand and global business environment, being a Sustainable Leader™ who can stay focused, think creatively, easily manage stress and emotions, communicate effectively and set the standard in their organization will make the difference between a healthy, thriving and resilient company and an ineffective or worse, a non-existent one.” – Christina Haxton, CEO & Founder, Sustainable Leadership, Inc.

What steps does your company take to ensure it’s leaders and managers are Sustainable Leaders?

 

Leading Through Crisis: Are You Hanging On By Your Fingernails Or Leading With Courage?

Leading or Managing during times of crisis requires the ability to make tough unraveling ropedecisions quickly.

The question is how do you know you are making the best decisions for you and your business, company, team and customers?

It’s a falsity to think that making quick decisions under pressure is the sign of a great leader.

On the contrary, the decisions we make while in crisis mode are often triggered by fear instead of sound strategy. A REACTION instead of a … response.

Stepping back and pausing under pressure a great way to ensure your decisions are sound.  So how do you pause when pressure is pushing you to make decisions now?

Here is a real case study to put it all into perspective and 5 “Pause Practices” To Help Ensure Decisions & Values Align:

Tom, a retired-CEO-now-reinvented-entrepreneur involved in a potentially highly lucrative business deal with two other partners, begins his coaching session this way: Click here to read the rest over at ManagingAmericans.com 

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Who is more likely to be in denial when it comes to feeling stress, a man or a woman?

STRESS:  The un-discussable in the room (for men, anyway)professional intimacy sketchnotes heather martinez

I recently had the pleasure to be invited to be the keynote speaker for the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) Women in Business Leadership Conference (“Women Redefining Business”) where the keynote message was about communication, connection and courage as a pathway to Professional Intimacy:  The Key to Sustainable Leadership.  

The breakout session piggybacked on how business owners can leverage stress by learning how to have authentic conversations with their employees in order to avoid entrepreneurial burn out.

When I give this talk, I usually ask the audience for a raise of hands if they consider stress a problem for them at work (i.e., negative effect on productivity, experience physical stress-related symptoms and relationship problems like irritability).

When the audience is predominantly male, only about 30% of the men in the audience raise their hands.

This audience was 98% female, and about 80% of the audience raised said “Yes!” to is stress a problem for you at work.

Why such a large difference between men and women?

According to research published by the the American Psychological Association on gender and stress:

” … Men and women report different reactions to stress, both physically and mentally. They attempt to manage stress in very different ways and also perceive their ability to do so — and the things that stand in their way — in markedly different ways. Findings suggest that while women are more likely to report physical symptoms associated with stress, they are doing a better job connecting with others in their lives and, at times, these connections are important to their stress management strategies.”

The bottom line is whether you are a man or a woman, an entrepreneur, a senior manager or CEO, your unrecognized and untreated stress could quickly be the end of your career, your relationships and quite possibly your life as long as you ignore the symptoms or refuse to change your behavior.

While work/life balance is a good solution, I’m not convinced it’s the only solution.  There is another most surprising solution, that can be executed at work just about any time of the day and there’s zero financial cost.

A process I have developed over many years of working with highly successful business people whose steps are backed by scientific research and will reduce stress and prevent burn out.  Simply stated, you can execute the steps in quick and simple conversations and relationships at work.  I call it “Professional Intimacy: The key to becoming a Sustainable Leader (one who is built to last for the long haul).

There are three simple steps to Professional Intimacy … (a special thank you to Heather Martinez, who crafted the Story Map of my Keynote )

1. Connection – Know the answer to these four questions asked by Kevin Cashman, Author of Leadership from the Inside Out:

Who Am I?    Where Am I Going?  Why Am I Going There? and I’ll add Who is Going With Me?

2. Curiosity – When it comes to brain science, the truth is the same chemicals that are involved in a fearful are also involved when we feel curious or excited.  What’s the difference?  The story I tell myself to explain the situation, why it’s happening and what’ll be the result.  Asking better questions when it comes to making meaning of my environment will result in my responding rather than automatically reacting because I’ve assumed the worst case scenario (which is likely not the case, anyhow).

3. Communicate – Have the courage to communicate you care when it comes to your team.  Be a real human being, not some ivory-tower-untouchable-walk-on-water-CXO.  Vulnerability, letting people see you sweat, showing your emotions (I didn’t say wear your heart on your sleeve), asking someone “How are you doing?  What do you need right now?” when they appear to be having a rough day.  Oh yes, then shut up and listen … the most important part.  Doing this will build trust and respect, which will go both ways.  Try it, I dare you.

If you would like more information on how you can reduce, manage or leverage stress and avoid burning up or burning out in your career by using the 3 Key Principals of Professional Intimacy, join me for a free webinar replay available for two more days:    You can get more information or register here to get immediate access:  Free Webinar “What Your Brain Wishes You Knew About Leadership Stress:  Myths & Solutions”  – This full video is packed with practical strategies to reduce stress and feel happier and more satisfied at work  AND a special announcement at the end!

 

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Professional Intimacy: The Secret of Sustainable Leaders

3 Keys to Becoming a Leader Who Will Last for the Long Haul

cbl christinas quote

My first opportunity to consciously stand up for my professional and philosophical beliefs about Professional Intimacy occurred in 1994. In the last year of my Master’s program, my thesis involved research on the process of creating a successful business partnership.

Using Appreciative Inquiry, our process resulted in a model of a synergistic triangle consisting of three equally key ingredients, where 1 + 1 = 3 (I was never good at math, but this makes sense … read on):

  • An Understanding and appreciation of self, as in intra-personal or emotional intelligence;
  • An Understanding and appreciation of other, as in interpersonal or social intelligence;
  • The resulting relationship system then gets created and continually loops around, offering each person the opportunity to develop as individuals and therefore re-contribute, thus co-create, a dynamic, complex system that becomes the unique, dynamic business partnership.

Leave your feelings at the door

In the early 1990′s the unspoken, unwritten rule in the business world was “Don’t Talk About Relationships, feelings or any of the soft, fluffy stuff humans were made of when delivering leadership or management training or when speaking to  businesses, managers or executive leaders about improving productivity or performance. I was directed to leave that stuff at the door and talk about “real” skills.  Don’t feel … just get to work!

I followed this advice for a while and felt my hands (and credibility) were tied behind my back.

Then I ignoring that advice.  After 12 years in business, our design resulted in not only building our own successful business and partnership, but also served as a model for our clients to build sustainable partnerships.

Through the process of developing Professional Intimacy as defined in my thesis in 1994 and even to  this day, I continued to learn and grow both intra-personally and inter-personally as a result.

The truth is this:  We learn and grow in relationship, not in isolation. Following the old rule and disregarding the complex and dynamic relationship systems we create through all of our relationships, however brief, is ridiculous.

Here’s the point: My thesis was nominated for publication in the college journal … an honor, for sure.  However, the committee stated it would only be considered for publication only if I changed the title.

Professional Intimacy was born

They objected to the phrase I used to symbolize our design for a successful business partnership: Professional Intimacy.

Because sexual harassment in the workplace was such a touchy (pun intended) topic in the early 90′s, the committee frowned upon my use of the phrase in the title. I stood my ground on principle because even though the rule was “Don’t talk about RELATIONSHIPS and WORK in the same sentence.”  I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) in good conscience back down. Besides, I have a strong oppositional reflex.

I ran across the dusty, bound thesis years later and wondered …

“Did I do the right thing in standing up for my values?”

“Would my career path have changed had I decided to belly up?”

“Would I have been able to help more people sooner?”

I suppose I’ll never know… What would you have done?

PS.  Check out  Chapter 19: “Professional Intimacy:  The key to being a Sustainable Leader” in the book “The Character Based Leader: Instigating a leadership revolution one person at a time” on Amazon or your favorite bookseller.

 

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5 Brain Based Learning Strategies for Leadership Effectiveness

Brain Based Learning Strategies for Leadership EffectivenessAngry Boss

As the boss, have you ever “lost it” in a meeting?  Even if your answer is “Of course not!” would your team agree with you?

The way we communicate determines our ability to engage, motivate and inspire creativity in our team.

Unfortunately, the skills needed to communicate effectively are sometimes lost because what we see and hear in ourselves as a leader is not always the same as what our employees experience during conversations and meetings.

By using Brain Based Learning Strategies we can develop a new understanding of our approach and the impact it has on results.

Coming to terms with how we lead is the first step to improving our effectiveness and ability to develop into a Sustainable Leader, one that can face challenges and drive his or her team to success over the long haul.

I wrote a post describing an executive coaching session with “Jeff” (not his real name) where you can see Brain Based Learning, self evaluation and creating a new mindset for improved leadership effectiveness in action:

It was “Jeff’s” (not his real name) third team meeting this week, and after this particularly long meeting he was beyond frustrated. “Why can’t they just get it right? How many times do I have to tell them what I want? Why don’t they get it? Are they that stupid? Or do they just not give a damn?”  Click here to read the entire blog post at ManagingAmericans

Christina blogs as an Expert Panelist at ManagingAmericans.com

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Leaders: Your emotions are contagious!

Great Bosses & Horrible Bosses

For just a moment, remember your favorite boss.  You know, the one you said

you would follow anywhere if he or she ever left the company.  The boss for whom you came in early and stayed late for to meet a promised project deadline.  How would you describe his or her overall mood?  How did you feel when you were working for him or her?

Now, remember the boss you would never work for again in a million years.  The boss you worked really hard to avoid being in the same room with for longer than necessary.   The boss you had when hiding under your desk or in your closet was not beneath you.  How would you describe his or her overall mood?  How did you feel when you were around him or her?

Surprised?  Probably not.  Now, here’s the tough question:

If I walked in the front door of your office or showed up at your next team meeting, how would I describe the mood of the people who work for you?

Neural Wi-Fi:  Peas & the Interpersonal Neurobiology of Leadership

Pretend for a moment you are spoon feeding peas to a baby sitting in a high chair.  What do you do?  As you are putting the spoon to her lips, what do you subconsciously do with your mouth (whether you like smooshed peas or not) … You got it, you  OPEN your mouth and make an aaahhhh sound, in a sometimes desperate attempt to get her to do the same.  Why?  It works most of the time.  Instinct. Mirror neurons.

The truth is, recent research in brain science proves that for humans (and I’ll add chimps and horses), emotions are actually contagious because of mirror neurons.  The short explanation is mirror neurons in our brains are responsible for our “catching” the mood of other people without realizing it. Add to that fascinating fact that our brains are prediction machines and constantly are making connections to predict the future based on our past experiences.  Your grumpy boss could be in a good mood on Friday, however your brain won’t realize it and will automatically predict (or believe), he’s his usually grumpy self.

E-motion = Energy in Motion

Why does this matter for leaders, bosses or other people of influence?  If you can believe that your mood is reflected in the mood of your team, you may or may not like what you see in the “mirror.”

What? … So What?… NOW WHAT?

While you may read this and understand or you are reading it for the first time and think Wow!  that makes sense, what’s the “So What?”  Understanding is overrated.  It does not automatically lead to action or doing anything differently tomorrow.  Unless you make a commitment to take action and the more accountable you are publicly the greater the odds you harness the action potential of your Aha! moment and transfer it into action.  Feel free to consider using the ACE approach to change:

1.  Awareness:  Notice your mood.  Notice the mood of others.  Label the feeling (without judgement is the key).

2.  Choice:  How do you like what you see in the mirror?  If it’s what you want, keep going.  If it’s not what you want, what choices do you have in the moment?

3. Execution:  What is one small action you are willing to take in that moment?  You don’t have to effect change on anything, just take action to make it different.

4.  Repeat #1 What information did you gather?  What choice do you want to make now?  What action will you take next?  Just like directions on shampoo, rinse, lather and repeat.

Accountability: What are you willing to do in the next 24 hours to recognize and change the effect you have on the people in your company?  If you have the courage, feel free to post your commitment in the Comment box below.  (If you are not quite that brave, feel free to email me directly.  All responses are strictly confidential!).

“The Human Moment at Work” – Harvard Business Review article

“The Key Ingredients to Build Rapport” – Daniel Goleman, YouTube

 

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(Original post written for LeadChangeGroup Blog by Christina Haxton, MA LMFT)

What Do Frogs Have To Do with Brain-Based Leaders and Learning?

Riddle:  “Once upon a time, two frogs were sitting on a log in the middle of a lake, and one frog decided to jump off, how many frogs were left sitting on the log?

Answer: Two frogs.

Why? The same reason only 3% of the population set and actually achieve their goals or maintain positive, well-intentioned change in the first place. The frog missed three critical steps of Achieving his Goal: Ask, Announce, Act (and Ask again).

The frog understood WHY it was a good idea to jump off, because he was an intelligent, high achieving, upwardly mobile frog.  He understood there were more opportunities and freedom if he left the comfort of the log.  While the frog understood why, and although he did decide … he didn’t take action.

What about accountability and following up? Perhaps if the first frog told the second frog he was going to jump off, he would have followed through on his promise and lived happily ever after. Does this story sound familiar? Whoops, wrong story. That’s enough about frogs …Now let’s make the story relevant.

Leaders and Learning:  Which skills are more critical to your success strategic skills or soft skills?

“Almost 50% of newly hired or newly promoted leaders quit or get fired before their 18 month anniversary …”  (Hint: The majority of failure is not a result of lack of business savvy or technical skills, but a lack of interpersonal or communication skills.)

… and another statistic:

“The divorce rate in the US is around 50% …” As a marriage counselor for 14 years, I will also bet the reason is the same … lack of effective communication skills by one or both people.

Question: Which is easier for you to achieve: your company’s strategic goals or your soft skills or interpersonal goals? “What are ‘personal development goals’ and why would I, Mr. or Ms. Super Successful CEO need them?” you ask?

Because you don’t want to be a statistic.

By lack of interpersonal or soft skills I mean the inability to manage your emotions. You, who growl and snap when your assistant forgets an important detail about a meeting. You, the exhausted Senior VP who feels like you start your day in at a jog and feel like you’ve run a marathon by the time 8 pm rolls around. You, the up and coming leader who promised your son you’d get home in time to see him play baseball and you missed it again. Yes, you, the human part of the executive equation.

What difference will it make when you have mastered the higher level communication and relationship skills that prevent these conflicts? You understand why personal skill development is important, may have decided to make a change, but are you ready to take action and jump off of the log?

What if you had a simple, 3 step brain-based learning strategy to make lasting, positive changes in your actions, your communication style or your interpersonal skills as easily as you develop and achieve your strategic company objectives for 2012? I said it was simple, I didn’t say it would be easy …

AAA: The Triple Threat Solution … 3 Simple Steps: Ask, Announce & Act (Repeat)

Step #1: Ask. Ask others what they see you can improve upon. After all, perception is reality and their perception of how you communicate rather than your perception of how you communicate matters most.

Step #2: Announce. Tell people what you are working on. This not only holds you more accountable for change, it also subconsciously invites people to look for and more likely notice the positive change you will be making.

Step #3: Act. Just do it. Look for opportunities to interrupt an old pattern. Try taking a few deep breaths next time you feel tense going into a meeting (holding our breath triggers Lizard Brain). Instead of saying “No” immediately to an idea proposed in a project meeting, take a moment and respond “Interesting, let’s consider that idea.”

Then, repeat #1: Ask. Remind others of what you are working on and then check in and ask “How am I doing?” Where are you inviting them to focus? Right. On what you are changing, because otherwise, people may not notice, allowing the negative things you say or do to stand out more automatically.

So, what are your waiting for? Jump!

 

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Leaders: How to Manage Work Stress So You Can Leave Work at Work & Become a Sustainable Leader

Leaders:  You cannot lead with excellence if stress is an underlying problem!  To become a sustainable leader, you must first resolve or eliminate unnecessary stress:

For your free video:  7 Simple Strategies to Eliminate Stress for Busy Managers & Leaders – Get access now by signing up for access to the video to your right:

Here’s a terrific article on how to manage work stress for everyday or extraordinary leaders:

5 Daily Rituals to Manage Work Stress 

How ordinary (and extraordinary) leaders can use the practice of mindfulness to feel happier, satisfied and more productive at work.  Oh, and leave WORK at work so you can truly enjoy your family time … read Judy Martin’s blog post on Forbes.com here: 5 Daily Rituals to Manage Work Stress

Post below and share your favorite daily rituals to manage work stress:

 

 

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What’s your BHAG?

What’s your BHAG?

Sustainable Leaders create keystone habits that leverage small wins to achieve BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)

While “SMART goals” have their purpose and place, creating and maintaining new habits is a more effective strategy.

There are many reasons people are reluctant to set goals, and even more reasons why they fail to achieve goals.  If this is you, consider these key ingredients:

1. Public accountability – Tell someone, better yet put it in writing AND share it with others!

2. A shorter feedback loop or time-frame (30 days is perfect) with which to adjust course as necessary.

3.  1 Action Step you can take in the next 48 hours is essential to motivate you to continue with the next Action Step (and public accountability for that action is essential, too).

4. Clear Impact:  Can you answer the question, “What difference will it make for me, my family, community, organization, customers, etc.) when I achieve the goal?”

5. You have a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious) goal, that involves your team and their public buy in, too!

Start now:  Post  your BHAG for 2013?  If you have one for yourself and one for your organization, post it too!

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