Tag Archives: Self Leadership

You Must Have A Vision❣

I remember when I first relocated to the US with my baby girl. I had a clear #vision of the life I wanted for us.
So, I casted a vision of me working in a university setting or government organization that would give me flexibility, stability and a set schedule to care for my daughter, as we settled.
👉 I wanted my new  opportunity to provide an environment for me to grow and develop &add value .
👉I wanted work life balance to have time to  take my daughter to the playground in the evenings &church on the weekends.
❌I didn’t want a job that required travel, or night/ weekends.
❌I didn’t want the hustle & bustle of city life.
Sounds like a clear& perfect vision  right?

🎯Well, prior to our big move,  I  researched the area I was moving to, roles that were a fit for my educational background & professional experience & started applying for #jobs. By the time I moved, I knew where the Arlington Employment Center was, their schedule and services & hit the ground running.

😔 I would love do tell you that I found a job that fit my vision quickly and things turned out as planned.But one month became two, three , four & eventually six…
I went to the center 5 days a week, applied up to 10 jobs a day, attended workshops on everything from #interviewskills, #resumewriting#networking, #jobfairs   etc. And still no job.
There were many interviews & second interviews and applications that sunk to the bottom of sinkholes of applicant tracking systems.
I grew anxious, worried,  doubtful of my vision and  whether I had made the right decision to move to the USA. I also struggled with the opinions & suggestions of friends and family about what I should be doing, jobs I should apply to and even suggestions to move again.

🙏But I held on to my vision and pushed on.  By month 6, the job offers came trickling in,  but none that matched my vision exactly. The job I eventually accepted landed me in a limited term role working as administrative assistant at Fairfax County Government . The role was not commensurate with my background and experience but it brought me closer to my vision. I reckoned a foot in the door was all I needed.

😀Now 9+ yrs later- the vision has been realized.

🎯So what am I saying here :
*Having a clear vision doesnt mean things will go as you hoped or planned.
*Preparedness does not equal automatic success .
*Detours dont equal failure.
*Acheiving your vision  will require perseverance.
* You can accept counsel but you have to ignore the noise
* And most importantly, your vision must be clear, simple and easy to communicate  to help you get the support you will need.

Over to you- do you have a vision for this stage or chapter for your life? How are you pushing past the obstacles to stay on track?

Until next time, Remember,ItsALearningLife !


#visioncasting  #careerdevelopment #careerstrategy #careerstory #opportunity #success  #personalgrowth #selfleadership #professionaldevelopment #experience #lifelessons  #itsalearninglife4real

It’s Not Your IQ, It’s Your EQ?

Head -with-A -Heart-Image
Head-With A -Heart

EQ or IQ- Which One Matters More?

Much like the soft skills debate, there is a seemingly never-ending debate about whether cognitive intelligence (IQ) or emotional intelligence (EQ/EI) matters more for your success. For a long time, IQ or book smarts has served as a key predictor for an individual’s success in life and to determine who is afforded opportunities and who is likely to be more effective on the job. Overtime, this bias towards cognitive intelligence has resulted in a perception that intelligence (IQ) matters more than its emotional intelligence counterpart. And this misguided approach has led many people to focus more on developing their intelligence (IQ) and to neglect or minimize the value of emotional intelligence (EQ)in their efforts to improve personally and professionally. But not so anymore.

An overwhelming amount of research suggests that “more real-world problems get solved with people skills than raw intelligence. That means you can get more bang for your self-improvement buck by focusing on EQ”.  Google, also adds that “leaders with high emotional intelligence make better decisions”.  “Emotional intelligence gives you the ability to read the environment around you, to grasp what other people want and need, what their strengths and weakness are; to remain unruffled by stress and to be the kind of person others want to be around” (Stein& Book 2011).

What is Emotional Intelligence?

According to the authors of Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, intelligence, or IQ “is the measure of an individual’s intellectual, analytical, logical and rational abilities. It gauges how readily you learn new things, focus on task and retain information, engage in a reasoning process and solve problems”. Simply put, your intelligence speaks to your capacity to carry out a specific activity, perform a technical skill and certain tasks. On the other hand, emotional intelligence can be defined as “a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional informational in an effective and meaningful way”.  

Therefore, your ability to demonstrate emotional intelligence will determine your ability to influence others, communicate effectively, resolve conflict, and build and maintain healthy, positive, and productive relationships personally and professionally.  In other words, your emotional intelligence or street smarts are key to how you live and operate in the world around you. People operating with high IQ and low EQ are like wrecking balls that can potentially damage or destroy everything and everyone in their path. By not being able to identify and manage their own emotions and to recognize and respond to the emotions of others, they create conflict and toxic environments which make it difficult for people to live and work with them.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important at Work?

Over the last few years of the pandemic, we have seen a huge amount of change and disruptions in every area of our personal and professional lives. Now more than ever, many employees find themselves struggling to navigate the new emotional landscape at work and to cope with unprecedented levels of stress, burnout, uncertainty, and grief driven by the pandemic. The pressing need to constantly pivot and change the way we do business, work, or serve clients, have taken a physical and psychological toll on employees mental and emotional well-being. Today, many employees report feeling increasing levels of anxiety, unhappiness, social isolation, and fatigue.

To respond effectively to all these challenges in the environment, emotional intelligence matters individually and organizationally. For leaders in organizations, leading with emotional intelligence means communicating clearly and frequently to reduce uncertainty, having a pulse on what employees are feeling in response to change, determining what is motivating them or not and implementing strategies to support the emotional and mental well-being of their employees. Managing with emotional intelligence will require supervisors to be flexible with how they manage the performance of their direct reports who might be struggling with meeting deliverables and showing empathy to employees who are experiencing tough times.

On an individual level, having emotional intelligence will help an employee to build and maintain positive and healthy personal relationships with their co-workers, show care and empathy for each other, collaborate, work effectively in teams, solve problems effectively, cope with stress and navigate change. Employees with strong emotional intelligence, are more self-aware and better able to manage themselves and their emotions and set boundaries to protect their overall well-being. 

How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence Skills?

To build your emotional intelligence skills, it is important to understand the different dimensions of EQ. According to the Bar-On Model  of emotional intelligence and social intelligence, EQ can be broken down into five dimensions and 15 characteristics  summarized below:

  1. Self-Perception: This refers to your ability to understand your emotions (emotional self-awareness), pursue self-improvement (self-actualization) and the extent to which you have confidence and respect yourself (self-regard).
  1. Self-Expression: This speaks to your ability to be self-directed (independence), communicate your feelings and beliefs in a non-offensive way (assertiveness) and constructively express yourself (emotional expression).
  1. Interpersonal:  This focuses on your ability to form and maintain mutually satisfying relationships (interpersonal relationships), appreciate how others feel(empathy) and help others around you (social consciousness).
  1. Decision Making: This includes your ability to be objective (reality testing), find solutions when emotions are involved (problem solving) and to delay or resist an impulse to act.
  1. Stress Management:  This deals with your ability to cope with stressful situations (stress management), overcome adversity, maintain a positive outlook on life(optimism) and to be adaptable with your thoughts and behaviors (flexibility).

One additional indicator of this emotional social intelligence model is – happiness. This measures the degree to which you feel content with your life, your ability to enjoy yourself and others and experience joy in a range of activities. Altogether, these elements represent what it means to be emotional intelligent and the skills you will need to demonstrate it. It is important to note that your performance in any one or combination of these dimensions can be stronger or higher than the others. The key here is to identify areas where you have gaps and work towards strengthening them.

So, how do you rate your emotional intelligence skills?

Which area (s) might you need to improve?

Where do you intend to start?

The good news is- emotional intelligence is a skill that you can develop and strengthen overtime. Your journey toward becoming emotional intelligent will need to start with an honest self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, a recognition of your limitations and intentional efforts on your part to address them. Enlist the support of trusted friends, coworkers, and family members to provide you with feedback that will help you to identify the blind spots that might be affecting how you show up and impact others. When all is said and done, your emotional intelligence will determine the quality of your relationships at work and in your personal life, ability to bounce back and overcome adversity, manage stress, make decisions, and find meaning and satisfaction in your life. 

So, when it comes to intelligence – Your EQ, not Your IQ Matters More! Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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Why Be Yourself (Be Authentic) is Terrible Advice!

Be Yourself-Graphic Art
Be Yourself- Graphic Art

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying is to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you have ever spoken with anyone about feelings of self-doubt, fear or uncertainty about doing something new, it is quite possible that you might have been encouraged or advised to just “Be yourself”. I’ll even admit that this is a prescription I have given to my 11-year-old daughter, friends, and colleagues when they have expressed concerns about joining a new team, exploring a relationship or navigating a tough situation. As a matter of fact, I recently received the same advice during a conversation where I was being vulnerable about an issue that was bothering me.  As I listened to this “be yourself’ advice, I couldn’t help but question whether those two words of assurance would be helpful to me as I worked through my issues. Yet, the givers of this advice (myself included) always appear convinced and confident that this simple advice is the best solution to the problem or issue. But, it isn’t.

On a surface level, telling someone to just be yourself or be authentic might seem like solid and great advice. But this advice can be confusing on many levels, and it raises a ton of questions. Afterall, which self are you advising them to be? Is it their past self, their today self, or their aspirational self (the better version of ourselves) that each of us hope to one day meet?  What if they haven’t yet figured out who they are or want to be? And to make it more complex- in which one of their roles?  As individuals, we have different layers and roles which are likely to affect or influence how we show up in different situations. I for one have several roles, that of mother, daughter, sister, manager to name a few. And how I show up or my abilty to be myself can depend on the context and the situation I am dealing with. So be yourself, can be very complex and problematic advice.

Why Be Yourself is Terrible Advice?

Definition of authentic-Image
Definition of Authentic

In her Harvard Business Review article, Herminia Ibarra offers up three ways for us to look at and understand the concept of authenticity:

  1. Being true to yourself and acting in ways that are true to your nature or personality
  2. Being sincere by saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
  3. Staying true to your values and the fundamental core beliefs that guide you.

Therefore, being authentic requires us to be fully self-aware and to practice acceptance of ourselves – values, beliefs, flaws, quirks, strengths and all. Being authentic encourages individuals to be at peace with themselves  despite the perceptions of others and other worldly influences. This is important because trying to be someone else drains energy and is the surest route to an unhappy and unfulfilling life.

However, depending on the definition we choose, being authentic or staying true to one’s personality can be used by an individual to mask stubbornness or an unwillingness to change. And if we are not careful, being authentic or staying true to our personality can stunt our personal growth, maturity and have major implications for our personal and professional development and advancement. For example, how many times have you heard or seen someone miss an opportunity because they were asked to do something that was outside of their comfort zone or require them to stretch a little to learn a new skill? I have seen people self-sabotage or pass up opportunities to advance in their career because of their own self-limiting beliefs that they didn’t have the personality to do one thing or another.

Likewise, I have also seen people fail because they didn’t acknowledge that the skills that got to them to one level would not take them to their next level. And in these trade off moments, we will need to balance doing what we need to be effective with being ourselves. Navigating these crucial moments can be tricky because most of us define ourselves in terms of the skills and competencies that got us to one point. Getting to the next level or moving up in the organization might require us to show up differently than we are accustomed to. This can be unsettling for some people who fear that they might have to sacrifice their values and integrity or be seen as a “sell out” because they changed paths. This uncertainty about what it means to be themselves then produces a version of them that is at best cautious, conservative but not truly authentic or reflective of who they want to be.

What Authenticity Really Means?

So, should we be authentic or not?

And what does it mean in real life?  

Truth is, none of us are the same today as we were five years ago, and we also won’t be the same five years from today. As we journey through life, from one stage to the next, we make decisions and experience life events (marriage, parenting, loss, career advancement) that shape us and challenge our perspectives and our deeply help beliefs. Therefore, subscribing to the idea of being yourself is unrealistic, risky and fails to acknowledge that we are never any one thing or person. It also locks us into people perceptions of who they think we are and their expectations of how they think we should be or act. But as individuals, we are constantly evolving, learning, unlearning and with that comes permission to change our minds, perspectives, and responses to the people around and the world around us.

So, in a world where so many of us feel so much pressure to live up to the standards and expectations of others, how can we be authentic? I suggest that you reflect on what that means to you and consider embracing a broader perspective that says that being yourself or being authentic is:

  • Choosing to lead your own self by digging deep to figure out what you truly want, your passions, your talents, your strengths, and your weaknesses.
  • Freedom to let go of your fears and other people’s perception and expectations of you as you forge your own path.
  • Knowing that your best self isn’t a destination since you are still becoming.
  • Embracing a mindset that recognizes that you have many layers. You can be this and still be that.
  • Deciding not to hide your feelings, thoughts, your voice and standing by your convictions.
  • Meeting people right where they are at and not twisting yourself in/out of shape to become who they need you to be.  

In closing, navigating life journey will require us to balance doing  what we need to do and being ourselves. This can cause us to feel fake or inauthentic, but it isn’t. You can be authentic and change and grow. Being authentic considers who you are and the situation, not one at the expense of another. The key is to be intentional about shaping yourself rather than being shaped by your circumstances.

Until next time, Remember, It’sALearningLife!

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What Vulnerability Really Means!

                                                                                

What Vulnerability Really Means
Frayed Rope

Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.     

Brene Brown, Rising Strong

Have you ever felt vulnerable?

Vulnerability is one of those touchy feely words that women fear, and men rarely admit to. However, being vulnerable is a crucial ingredient of forming true connections with others, communicating effectively, and building healthy relationships. Being vulnerable involves being honest and open about our emotions, feelings, fears, insecurities. And sometimes, being vulnerable is about asking people for help.

Like it or not, we have all been vulnerable to something or someone. But what exactly does vulnerability look like? In her book Dare to Lead, Brene Brown describes vulnerability as “the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” Being vulnerable can make us feel raw, exposed, and uncomfortable, because it puts us in position for us to be seen by others at moments where we might not feel confident or be at our best. At the same time, being vulnerable can help us to practice self-acceptance, gain confidence in our own abilities to overcome hardships, and show empathy and compassion to others. However, there is no mistaking the fact that that being vulnerable is tough. Vulnerability requires us to trust that the person we are being vulnerable with, will not take advantage of us or use our vulnerability against us.

Myths vs Facts Call Out
Myths vs Facts Call Out

Six Myths of Vulnerability

Due to the real and perceived risks that come with being vulnerable, many of us struggle with it and avoid it at all costs. Being vulnerable is necessary part of connecting with ourselves and others. Being vulnerable helps us to get in touch with our own feelings and emotions and to seek and receive support. But, if being vulnerable is so important and beneficial, why do so many of us struggle with it? Answers to this question can probably be found in the hurt that people carry from past experiences and the common misperceptions that some people have about vulnerability. To better understand what being vulnerable means, let us look at what it does not, using the six common myths about vulnerability identified by Brene Brown.

  1. Vulnerability is weakness:  Have you ever choked up in a conversation or felt tears streaming down your face in while talking about something personal? I have. In fact, I used to feel embarrassed and annoyed that the more I wanted the stop the tears, the more freely they seemed to flow. In those moments, I have felt vulnerable, self-conscious, weak, and frustrated and that somehow it meant I didn’t have it all together. I was wrong. Feeling our emotions and expressing ourselves are healthy responses to dealing with difficult experiences. Being vulnerable takes courage and strength to share our thoughts and feelings with another person despite the fear of what they might say or that we will be judged. You can be vulnerable and strong.
  1. I don’t do vulnerability: Does the idea of being vulnerable scare you or make you uncomfortable? You’re not alone. When you’ve always had to be tough or to operate in “keep it together and push through mode”, it can be hard to embrace your vulnerable side. When we repress our emotions, we turn inwards and in some instances, we build walls that keep us isolated from others and hurting. From time to time, we all need to set our egos aside, take off the strong and tough person mask and open ourselves up to others for help and support- no matter how difficult it might feel. Afterall, we have all failed, made mistakes or done things that we aren’t proud of. In those moments, we need to surround ourselves with people who will listen, give us feedback, and offer comfort and support.  
  1. I can go it alone:  I know that we sometimes face situations that might lead us to the conclusion that it is better to go it alone. And there are times when this might feel like the best course of action. However, like the says goes “No man is an island, and no man stands alone.” Though this might seem cliche, we all need each other to get through the challenges and curve balls that life throws at us. So, from time to time, we need to reach out to our village for help and support and to lend a listening ear or helping hands as well. We build stronger and more intimate relationships with others when we can freely admit that we are not ok, when we are not o.k. For as the quote says – “What do we live for if not to make things a bit less difficult for each other?”
  1. You can be vulnerable without being uncomfortable:  There is no avoiding the discomfort that being vulnerable will make you feel. In our most vulnerable moments, we are likely to experience the fear of rejection, shame, guilt, abandonment, or judgment.  While the risks are real, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we also open ourselves to the possibilities of love, compassion, acceptance, and support. So, think of being vulnerable as that weak muscle that you rarely ever exercise. Whenever you exercise it, it might feel sore for the first couple of days, but if you keep working it, the muscle becomes stronger and so do you. Embrace the discomfort of being vulnerable, it is a necessary part of the process.
  1. Trust comes before vulnerability: Most of us grew up hearing the stern warning to be careful of who we trust because the more we let people in or share, the greater the chance that they might hurt you. It’s no wonder then that some of us struggle with trust and intimacy in our relationships or find it hard to let our guards down. So, which comes first- is it trust or vulnerability? According to the research, the answer is not either or. It’s both. We need trust others to be vulnerable and we need to be vulnerable to build trust with others. Simply put, it you want people to trust you, you must be vulnerable and to be vulnerable you need to trust others. Tag you are it!
  1. Vulnerability means sharing all the private details of your life with everyone: While vulnerability requires honest and openness in communication, it isn’t about spilling your guts to everyone or oversharing information that might be inappropriate. It always important to respect and maintain personal and professional boundaries. You should only share what you feel safe to share and never put out information that might compromise you or put others at risk. So be smart and use common sense as you engage and connect with others.  

When all is said and done, deciding when we to be vulnerable and who we can be vulnerable are dilemmas that we will all face from time to time. However, don’t let the risks and perceived myths about what vulnerability means discourage you from doing so. The next time you find yourself in a challenging situation or have an opportunity to build a healthy and positive relationship (personal or professional) take a chance and exercise your vulnerability muscle. Because when you do, you and your relationships will thrive and become richer, stronger and more meaningful that ever before.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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The Four Agreements to Live By!

The Four Agreements to Live By
Cartoon- of-People -Seated -at- a – Meeting-Table-Image

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz has been sitting on my bookshelf for some time having been gifted to me a few years ago. However, I was nudged to read it after hearing it recommended in a recent discussion. Curious about the what the four agreements were, I spent a few hours reading it on the weekend and was pleasantly surprised by the simple yet powerful code of conduct it shared about how we are to live our lives. I know you must be thinking- what is this code of conduct and how is this relevant to me? But stick with me, I am going somewhere.

Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or identify as Agnostic or Atheist, you all have some core beliefs that you live by or that guides your actions. These core beliefs or code of conduct provide the fundamental principles and standards by which you live your life. And while the code of conduct offered up in The Four Agreements is not fundamentally new and you probably practice one or all of them in some way, when applied together, they have the potential to transform your life and lead to new experiences of increased freedom, happiness, and love.

What Are Agreements?

According to Ruiz, every aspect of our lives, culture, religion, language, values, and belief systems are based on a series of agreements that already existed before you were born. As children, you didn’t have the opportunity to choose what you believe or did not believe in, you didn’t even choose our own name. Instead, you learned to agree with the information passed on to you from other humans such as your parents, teachers, and other authority figures in your society.

Because of this process which Ruiz called “domestication”, children grow into adults who learn to adhere to the agreements which form their belief systems. When you obey the agreements, you are rewarded and when you go against them, you are punished. The agreements teach you everything- what a “woman” is and who a “man” is. And you also learn how to judge yourself, judge other people and judge your neighbors. You also learn to pretend to please those around you because of the fear of rejection.  You create an image of how you should be to be accepted by everybody.

In so doing, you become someone you are not, punishing yourself when you don’t follow the rules according to your belief system and rewarding yourself when you are a “good girl or a good boy.” The result is that you abuse yourself by not practicing self-love and by practicing self-rejection when you try to measure up to an ideal of perfection. And no one abuses you as much as you abuse yourself.

Ruiz further explained that while there are thousands a of agreements that you and I have made with ourselves, other people, with God, with society, with your partner and your children, the most important agreements you will make are the ones you make with yourself. In these agreements, you tell yourself who you are, what you feel, what you believe and how to behave. And the result of this is your personality. In those agreements, you say- this is what I am. This is what I believe. I can do certain things and some things I cannot do. And these are the many agreements that make us suffer, that makes us fail in life.

So, what can you do about these agreements? According to Ruiz, if you want to experience true fulfillment and happiness, you must find the courage and will to break the agreements you made that are based on fear and claim the personal power that each of us was born with. Each time you break an agreement, the power you used to create it returns to you – allowing you to change the entire system of your old agreements. And this is the personal power that you will need to adopt the four new agreements which will help you transform your life.

Wooden Hands Clasping Each Other
Wooden- Hands- Clasping- Each- Other- In- Agreement-Image

What Are The Four Agreements?

  1. The First Agreement – Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. This agreement urges you to remember that your words are powerful. And like a double-edged sword, they have the potential to speak life or death into your life and that of others. Ruiz explained that the human mind is fertile where seeds are continuously being planted. The seeds are opinions, ideas, and concepts. So, what words do you use to speak to yourself? Are they kind? What words do you sow to your children- are they seeds of love, confidence, fear or doubt?
  1.  The Second Agreement -Don’t Take Anything Personally: This agreement states that nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. So do not to place your trust in what others do or say. You only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. When you truly understand this and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless actions or comments of others.
  1. The Third Agreement-Don’t Make Assumptions: According to Ruiz we all tend to make assumptions. The problem with assumptions is that we believe them to be truth and act accordingly.  We make assumptions about what others are doing and thinking, we take it personally and then we blame them and react by sending them emotional poison with our words. Rather than doing that, this agreement encourages you to find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.
  1. The Fourth Agreement- Always Do Your Best: This agreement is about the action of the first three. It encourages you to commit to doing your best regardless of circumstances. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Nonetheless, simply do your best, and this will help you to avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret. When you do your best, you don’t have to worry about the results. Embrace the mistakes, learn the lessons, and accept yourself.
My Life- My Rules Picture
My- Life -My -Rules -Image

My Takeaways

I’ve read many books this summer, but this book resonated with me differently than the others. Not only was it deep and full of ideas that challenged my own thinking, but it made me think about the agreements I have made with myself, in my different relationships and roles (personal and professional). And while all four agreements were powerful, the one that gave me pause is the Third Agreement – Don’t make assumptions.  

I know that making assumptions is wrong and that when and where I do it, I am projecting my fears, insecurities, doubts, and expectations on others. I also recognize that I also treat many of my assumptions as truth and act accordingly. Afterall, most of us create stories and narratives in our heads that justify our positions on a issue to help us make sense of situations we are facing. These assumptions are potentially damaging to relationships as we defend our positions and try to make the other person wrong. In so doing, I sometimes take what people say and do personally- making it about me. And sometimes, this might cause me to react emotionally, negatively, and unwisely as I fail to truly consider other people and their perspectives.

I am not particularly proud of this pattern of behavior, and I resolve to do better. This book reminded me yet again that it is always better to ask questions (however uncomfortable) than to make assumptions, because assumptions sets us up for suffering. I also know that it can be hard for us to ask for what we want, and to communicate our needs. But, we can’t assume that the people around us know what our needs are and then judge them when they fail to meet our expectations. Everyone has the right to tell you no or yes, but you always have the right to ask and vice versa.

Final Thoughts

So, today I commit to breaking with my old agreement of making assumptions and to create a new agreement to communicate openly and clearly and free of emotional poison. I also hope that (by reading this article), you take an opportunity to consider how these four agreements apply to how you operate in your relationships and interactions with others and make the changes that will transform your life for better.

So over to you, which of the four agreements resonate most with you? What agreements have you made with yourself and others? What old agreements do you need to break. What new agreements will you make? Comment and let me know .

Until next Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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Want to Take Decisive Action? Try The 5 Second Rule!

Compass- Pointing- to -Take- Action
Compass- Pointing- to -Take- Action

Typically, when you hear about the 5 Second Rule, it is talking about the amount of time you have to quickly pick up a piece of food that has fallen to ground. This article is not about that 5 second rule but my latest summer book pick – The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. In her book the 5 Second Rule, Mel Robbins offers up a new tool that we can use to take decisive action, overcome procrastination, hesitancy, and self-doubt to improve our lives, relationships, happiness, and work. Robbins points out that the 5 Second rule can be particularly helpful in situations where people are struggling with changing behaviors, finding the courage to do things that are new and scary and with controlling emotions and negative thoughts.

What is the 5 Second Rule?

The 5 Second Rule  is based on the idea that “there is a window that exists between the moment you have an instinct to change and your mind killing it. This is the 5 second window and it exists for everyone. She explained that “the moment you have an instinct to act on a goal (See post on SMART Goals) you must count down 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move to act on it or your brain will stop you. This is because when you need to act or have important decisions to make, your brain will kill the idea or impulse to act as you become overwhelmed by fear, doubt or become paralyzed by overthinking.   

To overcome this, Robbins recommended that you count backwards (5-4-3-2-1) as this mentally shift the gears in your mind. This mental shift then interrupts your default thinking and do what psychologists call “assert control.” By counting, you distract yourself from your worries, excuses and you can focus your mind on a new direction. And when you physically move instead of stopping to think, your physiology changes and your mind falls in line.

So, think of that one thing you truly want to do, that goal that you know you should be pursuing or that decision that you have been hesitating on and use the 5 second rule to count down 5-4-3-2-1 and then act. You can apply the 5 second rule to something as simple as making the decision to get up off the couch and exercise, to applying for a job, speaking up in a meeting, having that difficult conversation or deciding to move forward in your life.

 5 Second Countdown
5 -Second -Countdown

How to Use the 5 Second Rule

According to Robbins, you can use the countdown of 5-4-3-2-1 to push yourself to take simple actions towards your goals which will create a chain reaction since each actions improves your productivity and builds your confidence. This in turn increases your belief in your ability to control your life and make meaningful progress with your goals. So, whenever you feel an instinct fire up to act on a goal or a commitment, or the moment you feel that yourself hesitating to do something you know you should do, use the 5 second rule.

How to Apply the 5 Second Rule?

According to Robbins, here is how you can apply the rule to change your life:

  • First: “The moment you have an instinct…”

The first thing to note is that “An instinct is not a rash, irreversible decision. It’s not destructive, illegal, or harmful behavior.” Mel Robbins defined an instinct as any urge, impulse, pull, or knowing that you should or should not do something because you can feel it in your heart and gut. These are instincts of the heart. They are moments when your heart speaks to you. We all have our own unique brand of wisdom, made up of our experiences, intuition, and DNA. In those small, 5 second moments, when this wisdom bubbles up inside of you, the urges are your instincts. They are the “knowing” that you should do something even if you don’t “feel” like doing it. 

  • Second: “To act on a goal…”

The second element of the Rule that is critical for you to understand is that it’s not just about acting on any instinct, it’s an instinct that’s tied to a goal. For example, you might have an instinct at get from the couch and go for a run. In this case, if you act on this instinct, you bring yourself one step closer to your dream of transforming your health. Research has shown that our gut is our “second brain.” Do you ever get a feeling in your gut telling you what to do? We get these “gut feelings” when our hearts and minds are trying to tell us something. And usually, these gut impulses are tied to greater goals.

  • Third: “You must push yourself…”

The third element of the 5 Second Rule is that you must push yourself. The Rule is about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone even when you don’t want to. It’s about taking control of your own life, one push at a time. When the moment comes where you feel the instinct to do something related to that important goal, this becomes your window of opportunity. But if your brain senses fear or doubt, it will shut this instinct down in an effort to protect you. Nevertheless, you can take control to do what you need to do to change your life and move towards your goals.

  • Fourth:  Move within 5 seconds…”

Physical movement is key. All you need to do is move in the direction of your instinct. If you do not take physical action within 5 secondsyour brain will kill the instinct. So just start your countdown at 5 and then go take action. Robbins also stressed that while the rule is simple, it isn’t easy and will only work if you do it.

  • Fifth: “Or your brain will kill it.”

If you don’t physically move within 5 seconds, your mind will kill your dreams. According to Robbins, your brain is like an overprotective, irrational, “helicopter” parent. It thinks it’s keeping you safe when in fact it is keeping you from growing as a person, stretching yourself in your business, and fully experiencing life. One of your brains most basic job is to protect you. It does this by keeping us away from anything that feels scary, hard, or uncertain.

Final Thoughts on the 5 Second Rule

If you are struggling with procrastination or are prone to overthinking like me, the 5 Second Rule offers a valuable tool for us use our courage to take decisive action. And while it might seem like a simple or a rash way to make decisions that can have a life changing impact, the rule does not advocate that you do this “blindly” or that you use it to make quick decisions that might harm you. Instead, the rule urges us to consider those long-standing goals that we sometimes get stuck with because of overthinking and doubt and to be intentional about doing the things that we know will make our lives better off. So, the 5 second rule should be applied to those small and incremental steps you need to take to get to that all important goal.

In the words of Mel Robbins, “Life is already hard, yet we make it so much harder when we listen to our fears and convince ourselves to not take action.” So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by fear or doubt about something you know you need to do – give the 5 second rule a try.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

The Fred Factor: 4 Ways to Be the Best At What You Do!

Make the Difference Word Collage
Make- the- Difference- Word -Collage

At some point or another, we’ve all met a ‘Fred’, needed a ‘Fred’, been helped by a ‘Fred’ or better yet have been a ‘Fred’ to someone else. So, what is a ‘Fred’? A ‘Fred’ is someone who goes above and beyond to deliver excellent service or stands out in his or her work regardless the role or circumstances. Reflect on your most memorable customer service experience or a time when met someone who provided the high-quality service that blew you away or left a lasting and positive impression on you- that was a Fred. Or think about that co-worker that always takes full accountability for getting his /her job and can still be counted on to help pick up the slack when necessary- he /she is also a “Fred”. Freds exist in every profession and provide great examples of engaged employees whose consistently outstanding performance and attitude serve as inspiration and motivation for us all.

However, in today’s environment where employee engagement is at an all-time low and many employees are struggling to stay motivated, it can be hard to be a ‘Fred’ or find a ‘Fred’.  According to Gallup, only 15% of employees worldwide and 35% in the U.S.  fall into the engaged category. Gallup identifies three types of employees in the workplace: engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged. Employees who are engaged (Freds) show up as highly enthusiastic and involved about their work and workplace. Whereas employees’ people who are not engaged put in their time but are psychologically unattached to their work and company. Actively disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work — they are resentful that their needs aren’t being met and are acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers potentially undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

Colored Pencils With Different Emotions
Colored- Pencils -Expressing -Different- Emotions -Image

Are You A Fred?

In his book The Fred Factor, “Mark Sanborn tells the true story of Fred, the mail carrier who passionately loves his job and genuinely cares about the people he serves. Because of that, he is constantly going the extra mile handling the mail and sometimes watching over the houses of the people on his route, treating everyone he meets as a friend. Where other might see delivering mail as monotonous drudgery, Fred sees an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those he serves.

When I think of Fred, I think of those awesome frontline workers especially in health care workers who bore the brunt of the pandemic and still showed up to work every day at great risk to their own lives and that of their families showing compassion and empathy to those they cared for. I also think of those garbage collectors, teachers, public safety officers who go the extra mile despite trying circumstances and all the other everyday people who we rely on for the provision of goods and services. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always show up as a Fred. There have been times in my work life where the toxic working environments and difficult relationships with coworkers have left me feeling disengaged and resigned to doing enough to get by.  But because I pride myself on doing my best, when and where I find myself struggling, I have found other ways to engage myself and relied on the support and encouragement of my inner circle to help me remember my why and get back on track.

Different Elements of Excellence-Infographic
Different- Elements- of -Excellence-Infographic

Four Principles of the Fred Factor

So if you are feeling disengaged, actively disengaged or discouraged by your current work/life situation, consider using the following four principles of the “Fred Factor’ to refresh your energy and find your mojo to unleash creativity and enthusiasm in your personal and professional lives.

1.Everyone Makes A Difference: It doesn’t matter how large or even how screwed up an organization is. An individual can still make a difference within that organization. An employer can hinder exceptional performance, choose to ignore it, and not adequately recognize or encourage it. Or an employer can train employees to achieve exceptional performance and then reward it. But ultimately, only the employee can choose to do his or her job in an extraordinary way, either because of, or despite, circumstances.

 2. Everything Is Built on Relationships:  Here Sanborn explained that the service performed by the U.S. Postal Service of delivering his mail gave him what he paid for-nothing more, nothing less. However, the service he received from Fred was amazing because of the relationship he had with Fred. It differed from the relationships he had with any other postal carrier, before or since. Indifferent people deliver impersonal service. Service becomes personalized when a relationship exists between the provider and the customer. Fred took time to get to know and understand his customers needs and preferences. And then he used that information to provide better service and excellence.

3. You Must Continually Create Value for Others, and It Doesn’t Have to Cost a Penny: Don’t have enough money? The necessary training? The right opportunities? In other words, do you ever complain that you lack resources? Have you started believing that “more with less” is an impossibility? Then consider Fred. What resources did he have at his disposal? All Fred had was a drab blue uniform and a bag. But, he walked up and down streets with that bag full of mail, and his heart and head full of imagination. That imagination enabled him to create value for his customers, and he didn’t spend an extra dollar to do it. He just thought a little bit harder and more creatively than most other postal carriers.

4. You Can Reinvent Yourself Regularly:  According to Sandborn, if Fred could bring such originality to putting mail in a box, how much more could you and I reinvent our work? He recommended that on the days when you wake up tired, and your professional commitment is wavering and just getting the job done and going home at the end of the day becomes your primary objective- think about Fred. Because if Fred the Postman could bring that kind of creativity and commitment to putting mail in a box, you and I can do as much or more to reinvent our work and rejuvenate my efforts.

At the end of the day, while we cannot control the things that happen to us, the circumstances we face, we can choose how we respond, to have a positive ‘can do” attitude and to stay engaged.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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How to Be Fearless: 5 Principles to Overcome Fear!

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Meaning- of- Fear- Image

I am not afraid; I was born to do this.”

Joan of Arc

What do you fear?

All the stories of people who have overcame extraordinary circumstances to beat the odds, those who rose to the top of their game to achieve great success or blazed new trails are filled with examples of men and women who pushed past crippling fear, failure, rejection, and disappointment to chase after their dreams. Their stories show how they stepped out of their comfort zone and embraced risks to achieve breakthroughs and their life’s purpose. But whether you are successful or not, every one of us wrestle with fear in one area of our lives or another.

Fear becomes particularly evident when we are faced with making decisions about important life events such as marriage, divorce, starting a new business or career path. Fear can also impact decisions about having children, managing finances and making investments – fear can affect everything. In fact, research tells us that “fear is one of the seven universal emotions experienced by everyone around the world. Fear arises with the threat of harm, either physical, emotional, or psychological, real, or imagined. While traditionally considered a “negative” emotion, fear actually serves an important role in keeping us safe as it mobilizes us to cope with potential danger.”

Having said that, when individuals are driven by fear, they can show up as anxious and unable to take decisive actions. Fear can prevent people from stepping outside of their comfort zone, taking risks, seizing bold opportunities to pursue their dreams and doing things they have never done before. How we deal with fear can make or break our efforts to live meaningful and successful lives. So, what are you afraid of? What would you do if you were not afraid?

Courage- vs- Fear- Directional Signs-Image
Courage- vs -Fear- Directional- Signs-Image

Be Fearless: 5 Principles for Overcoming Fear

In her book Be Fearless, Jean Case shared five principles for a life of breakthrough and purpose, gleaned from change makers all across the world. She tackled the question about why some people achieve transformational breakthrough while others do not? In answering the question, Case pointed out that the people who have gone on to change the world did not have extraordinary abilities, they were just passionate about making the world better. They seized opportunities despite the obstacles, loud objections and they succeeded. Therefore, if you are seeking to overcome fear and the fear of failure to achieve transformational breakthrough in your life, here are the five principles of “Be Fearless” that you should consider and apply:

  1. Make Big Bets and Make History: There is no perfect time to make a big bet. Case recommended that you start right where you are with the resources, experience, talents, and connections you currently have and just take it one step at a time. Though people will not know about your big bet until it is proven and successful, work diligently at it anyway. All it takes is a passion to make a big bet on that great idea that might change your life, solve a problem, or positively impact the world around you. Big bets change the world. So, while it natural to be cautious, strive for big ideas, not incremental change. Look at what has worked in the past and try to do more of it because history making transformation happens when people strive for revolutionary change. So, do you have a big bet or big idea that’s been burning inside you? What would it look life for you to start where you are and take your own big bet forward?
  1. Be Bold, Take Risks:  According to the Case, it is easy to get caught up in protecting the status quo or what seems comfortable rather than pursuing a different path.  Risks bring failure but we should not fear failure or making a mistake. Instead, we should try new things and keep experimenting. Because according to Josh Linker- playing it safe can become recklessly dangerous. Case also argued that even in parenting, allowing children to take risk teaches resilience and independence and promotes fun. Companies that play it safe and fail to keep abreast of trends are sure to go extinct- think of the fall of Blockbuster and the rise of Netflix. When you consider getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new to advance your big bet, make a point of also writing down the downside of not taking the risk. Then find your “courage zone’ because this is where exciting things happen. You cannot achieve great things if you do not pursue what matters to you.
Fear of Failure on Type Writing
Fear-of- Failure- Image
  1. Make Failure Matter:  We all have suffered failure in one area or another of our personal and professional lives. But for some people, failures can trigger feelings of “imposter syndrome” which causes individuals to doubt their abilities or feel like a fraud. Rather than getting stuck in a rut of self-limiting thoughts, try to apply the lessons learned from your setbacks to help you push forward. This way of thinking about your failures is best captured by the quote from Thomas Edison, who famously said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 things that won’t work.” Making failure matter means staring down both the failure and the fears that accompany it and applying the lessons as you move forward.
  1. Reach Beyond Your Bubble: Study after study confirms that we all have biases of one kind or the other which can narrow our perspectives of people that live and think differently than we do.  To minimize or eliminate our blind spots, we must intentionally seek to open ourselves to diverse people, new ideas and different ways of thinking. This means stepping outside of our “comfort zone” and stepping into our “courage zone.” Rather than see people’s differences as obstacles or barriers, see them as opportunities to collaborate and forge unlikely partnerships and new opportunities. We are better together. Surround yourself with people that can help you reduce or minimize your blind spots. So, the next time you are at a table, ask yourself – who is not at the table, what perspectives could help us avoid blind spots?
  1. Let Urgency Conquer Fear: For some of us, overthinking and overanalyzing are a way of life. But if we spend too much time over thinking things, we will miss the boat, get trapped in analysis paralysis or just get stuck in your own way. But according to Case, we can choose to act with urgency or have urgency thrust upon us.  When our backs are against the wall, when options are few, when time is no one on your side, a certain clarity can set in bring with it a boldness you might not have had in you. So, if you find yourself in this situation, let the urgency of the moment move you to act. Adapt the Nike slogan to “Just Do It”, fail fast and early and use the lessons to move on. So, what would you do if you were not afraid? Each of us are responsible for the kind of impact we have on the world. Go blaze your own trail, follow you own path. Go be the one!

At the end of the day, “fearlessness is not a lack of fear. It is the ability to look fear in the eye and look past it.” 

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

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The Law of Attraction: 11 Steps to Attract the Life You Want!

The Law of Attraction-Image
The- Law- of- Attraction-Image

One of my all-time favorite things to do is to curl up in a comfy space and read a good book. The kind of book that keeps you flipping the pages, forget that you were hungry and or fail to notice time passing by. And though I read all throughout the year, there is something about summertime that makes me want to read more and spend time reflecting on the gems and insights I gain from all the books I find while combing through the library shelves. So, when I came across The Law of Attraction Plain and Simple by Sonica Ricotti, I became curious about what the law of attraction is, how it works and/or even if it does work. So, I read it and thought I would share some of the main ideas and takeaways from what I learned about the law of attraction.

The Law of Attraction

The law of attraction states that you attract into your life what you project into the universe. This simply means that the people and events you attract into your life are based on what you focus on and direct your attention to. The law of attraction is based on the view that what we focus on expands. So, if you and I have negative thoughts, we will send out negative energy which will attract negative people and things into our lives. But if we think positive thoughts and feelings, we will generate positive energy which will attract positive events, people, and things to our lives. So, if you are feeling negative or positive in this moment- that is the energy you are sending out to your environment and the people around you.

As a person of faith, let me start by saying that I do not necessarily believe that all our life experiences (good or bad) are a result of the energy we put out in the universe. Like me, you might have had good and bad life experiences that you did nothing to deserve or could not control. However, what I liked about the concept of the law of attraction is the perspective that we can shift our thoughts, language, and emotions to stop negative energy flow and learn to project positive energy and attitudes. And when we intentionally project positive energy and attitudes, we will experience greater levels of contentment, inner peace, happiness, and success.

11 Steps to Attract the Life You Want!

While the book is not prescriptive, it outlines 11 valuable steps or suggestions for you to consider as you seek to attract and manifest the life you truly want to live and follow your dreams:

The Law of Attraction
Positive- Attracts- Positive-Image
  1. Decide What You Want: The first step of the law of attraction requires you to think about what you want- what you really want if you want to attract and manifest it. It also points out that some people struggle to figure out what they do want or are fixated on the things they do not want. And when you fixate on what you do not want, you experience negative thoughts that releases negative energy which then attracts negative people, situations, and experiences into your life. The solution to this is to become clear about what would want for yourself if anything was possible. Once you have decided on what you want- write or type your list and post it somewhere where it will be a constant reminder of what you want to focus on and where you are going.
  1. Choose Your Thoughts and Feelings: The second step in the law of attraction is to become aware of what you are thinking and feeling. So, on a scale of 1-10 (1 is feeling bad; 10 is feeling great) how are you feeling right now? The more positive you feel, the more positive the energy you will send out. Similarly, negative thoughts lead to negative feelings which will cause you to send out negative energy. One way to increase your awareness of how you feel is to draw a big wheel with eight spokes representing the areas of your life: finances, health, family/friends, romance /significant other, career, fun and recreation, personal growth, and service to others. Then give yourself a rating for each area. This awareness will help you to shift your thoughts and energy to help you focus on where you want to be.
  1. Keep in End in Mind: The next step of the law of attraction is to think about what you want to be remembered for. What would you want to be said at your memorial service? This will help you to determine what your most important values (The things that are most important to you) are and help you to make the choices that align with your purpose or the life you want to live. Once you have figured this out, write out a list of your core values and reflect on them to determine if you are living in alignment with your values. This will also help you to generate the positive energy required to attract all that you desire for your life.
  1. Remove meaning: This step is based on the perspective that you create and attach meaning to everything you experience in life. You get to decide whether an experience is positive, negative, or neutral. You have the power to choose what feelings you attach to each situation, event, and experience by how you interpret the things happening to you. The best way to do this is to separate the facts of the situation from your interpretation of the situation. If you can recognize the difference between the facts of what happened and your interpretation of what happened, you are free to choose an interpretation that is more positive in nature.
  1. Let Go: This step of the law of attraction advocates that you let everything that is currently happening in your life be and the accept your life exactly the way it is and exactly the way it is not. Acceptance does not mean you are giving up or resigning yourself to any condition, it simply means that you stop resisting. Resisting does not change the situation and only generates negative energy, which then attracts more of the same negative situations in your life. Additionally, whenever you use the word should to describe how things should be in your life, you are resisting what is. And this generates more negative energy.
Positive Mind-Positive Vibes-Positive Life-Image
Positive- Mind-Positive-Vibes-Positive- Life-Image
  1. Forgive: Forgiveness is one of the ultimate keys to emitting and creating positive energy but is arguably one of the most difficult things to do. However, nothing produces more negative energy than unforgiveness. Holding on to grudges and resentment can feel like an anchor is dragging you down. The key is to free yourself from those negative thoughts and emotions. Because according to Ann Lamott “not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”
  1. Unleash the Past: While your past plays a big role in who you are today, holding on to the regrets and mistakes of the past can create negative feelings which some people take into their present and future. This step of the law of attraction recommends that rather than feeling like a victim of your past, you should release past experiences and the negative energy they produce. By freeing yourself from the past, you create a clear space to generate positive energy. And by being aware that you are holding on the past and recognizing that your choices are influenced by that, you develop the consciousness to make other choices.
  1. Be Grateful: The step of the law of attraction recommends being grateful for what you already have in your life by simply taking the time to recognize your many blessings. When you focus on what you already have, you feel good and release positive energy. One way that you can practice being grateful is to start and end your day thinking about 3 things that you are grateful for.
  1. Choose Your Friends Carefully: This step draws on the old adage that says “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” Reflect on how you feel after you have spent time connecting with your friends. Do you feel energized, encouraged, and inspired? Or do you find yourself always giving advice or feeling drained after you have been around them. Surround yourself with people who are living the life you want to live or those that will push you towards the direction of your dreams.
     
  2. Connect Mind, Body and Spirit: This step makes the point that most people make excuses that they are too busy juggling all their responsibilities to take care of themselves. However, self-care is an important part of taking care of your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. So, ask yourself- what are the obstacles in your life that have prevented you from taking time for yourself and recharging your batteries? Then set aside some time to do activities to improve your mind (reading) your body(exercise) and your spirit (meditation).
  1. Allow It: The final step is the law of attraction is to allow that which you desire to manifest in your life. For you to receive it, you must be prepared to receive it and have no doubt. So, dream big and believe anything is possible if you believe.

Until next time, Remember It’sALearningLife!

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Peaks and Valleys: 8 Ways to Make Them Work for You!

Life is a Journey- Color Sign
Life- is- A- Journey-Image

Are you at a peak or in a valley? If you are reading this article, chances are you might be dealing with a difficult season, have just come out of a one or are heading into a challenging period in either your personal or professional life. But in this age of social media, where we are bombarded with images of people living their “best lives” through their highlight reels, it is easy to believe that some people have all the luck, while you are struggling or feeling stuck. Truth is, nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems. Life is a every changing journey, filled with peaks and valleys or highs and lows that each of us go through. Since no one gets to go through life without experiencing peaks and valleys, how can we make the most of these peaks and valleys to make them work for us?

The Peaks and Valleys of Life

My latest read Peaks and Valleys  by Spencer Johnson,  answers this question by explaining that- when people know how to make good times and bad times work for them, they worry less and do better. And ultimately, they become easier to live and work with. According to Johnson, peaks and valleys refer to those high and low moments we experience throughout our lives. The peaks typically represent our successes and the moments we celebrate, feel good and content. On the other hand, valleys are seen as times of struggle, anger, disappointments, unhappiness, and failures. But that is not the sum of it. There is still good in the valleys. Valleys also provide opportunities for development and growth and can serve as preparation for climbing the next peak of our lives.

As I read the book, I found the simple yet deep insights of the peaks and valley approach helpful to rethinking my own approach to dealing with personal high and low moments.  So here are my top 8 top takeaways from the book that I hope might be useful to you as you make your personal peaks and valleys work for you:

Photo Showing Peaks and Valleys
Peaks- and -Valleys-_Photo by Temo Berishvili on Pexels.com

How to Deal with Peaks and Valleys

  1. It is natural for everyone everywhere to have peaks and valleys at work and in life: Personal peaks and valleys are as natural as the physical peaks and valleys you see in the landscape all around you. Peaks and valleys are scattered all around us and are connected in similar ways. You can feel “up” in one area of your life (career) and down in another (relationships). We all have ups and downs, and no two people experience similar situation the same way- we are all different.
  1. Peaks and valleys are not just the good and bad times that happen to you. They are also how you feel inside and respond to outside events. How you feel depends on how you view the situations you are faced with. The important thing is to separate what happens to you from how you feel about yourself as a person. Losing your job does not make you a lousy employee, nor does getting a divorce make you a failure. Separate your emotions from the act/event itself. You are still good, worthy, and valuable even if a bad thing happened to you. You can still feel good about yourself even when bad things are happening to you.
  1. Peaks and valleys are connected. The errors you make in today’s good times create tomorrow’s bad times. And the wise things you do in today’s bad times create tomorrow’s good times. There is no sharp difference between where the highest part of the valley ends, or the lowest part of the peak begins. Similarly, our physical and personal peaks and valleys are connected. A lot of what you and I will experience in the future will be determined by the choices we make in the present. This includes choices about how we spend our time and money, whether we invest in ourselves and the right relationships. When we waste our resources, make poor choices, and lose sight of what matters most, we are creating your own future bad times.
  1. Peaks are moments when you appreciate what you have. Valleys are moments when you long for what is missing. How you experience a valley has a lot to do with how you spend your time in it. We are all sometimes guilty of turning our peaks into valleys by what we choose to focus on. When we do not celebrate our small wins and the progress we have made and just focus on what is missing or lacking, we can change our personal peaks into valleys. Negative thinking (See previous post) can create valleys in our own minds even when good things are happening to us, and our goals are being achieved. One way we do this is by comparing ourselves to others and using their situations to determine how well we are doing. If you want to have fewer valleys, avoid comparison. Plus, we do not get to stay in our peaks and valleys forever.  The secret is to truly appreciate and enjoy the time for what is while you are living it.
Love Live EKG -Image
Love- Life- EKG-Image
  1.  You cannot always control external events.  But you can control your personal peaks and valleys by what you believe and what you do.  For you to change a valley into a peak, you must change one of two things: what is happening or how you feel about what is happening. If you can change the situation- great. If you cannot change the situation, change how you feel about it to make it work to your advantage. This is especially important in times when you are faced with hardship and adversity. Always look for the silver lining in the dark clouds and choose hope. Choosing to have a positive mindset usually leads to a better result.
  1. Between peaks there are always valleys. How you manage your valleys determine how soon you reach your next peak. It is easy to feel unhappy and demotivated when you are going through a valley moment. Therefore, it is crucial that you find and use the good that is hidden in a bad moment. Manage your attitude and invest in improving yourself and your skills to help you reach your next peak moment. Afterall, if you do not learn in the valley, you can become bitter. If you truly learn something valuable, you can become better.
  1. A plateau can be a time for you to rest, reflect and renew. Just as peaks bring us high moments and valleys bring us low moments, plateaus provide an opportunity for you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Personal plateaus are just as natural as personal peaks and valleys and can help you pause or press the reset button on your life.  Because plateaus are a neutral zone, they can help you to assess what is happening in your lives and gain clarity about your next move and steps. The trick is not to stay at the plateau too long since nothing happens there.
  1. A great way to get to your next peak is to follow your sensible vision. Imagine yourself enjoying your better future in such specific believable detail that you soon enjoy doing what takes you there.  Here is where you create the image of your future peak (think about your big dream or SMART goal) in your mind. Imagine what your future peak will look, sound, feel and taste like. When you make your future peak clear, meaningful, and sensible to you, it will serve as the pull that gets you through your valley when you encounter challenges in making it a reality. By imagining yourself enjoying the future peak or in that better place, you will start enjoying doing whatever takes you there.

At the end of the day, it is not about trying to avoid the ups and downs of life but learning how to make the best of them. The valley prepares us for the mountain top experiences.  Challenges give us opportunities to grow. Valleys are our reminders to keep showing up. If you do not appreciate your valleys, you will not be able to fully celebrate your peaks. There is a lesson to be learned from all our personal peaks, valleys, and plateaus.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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