Signs of Being Abused in your Colleagues or Friends

Have you ever noticed the following behaviour, in yourself or your colleagues or friends?

Jangly nerves - Do you dislike being in small spaces with someone standing behind you, or anywhere you can't see them? How do you respond when startled?

Short-term thinking - Do you have difficulty making plans beyond the next week or so? Perhaps the year ahead is difficult to focus on, fuzzy or foggy, and you have little motivation to get clear. 

Short-term control - Do you feel much better working with others when there is a plan? At night, are you anxious if you don't know what's what, or who's doing what when, the next day? 
Swelling of the body - Wherever it is, do you feel swollen in your physical self? Belly, fingers (check your rings,) ankles, or even your tongue? You might find sore ridges along the sides of your tongue from time to time. 

Short-term shopping - Are you someone who tends to buy inexpensive things, versus things that last? Do you have lots of stuff you could use but you tend to buy more anyway?

Everyone responds differently to the stress of an emotionally abusive environment, but the common denominator is an increase in actions that fall in the category of self-protective. Actions that increase a feeling of safety, even for a few seconds.

If you notice your colleagues or friends, or even yourself, showing some of these signs, good for you. It takes nerve to let yourself recognize these things for what they are.

Time now to keep observing how the environment changes one's personality. Time to breathe, stay awake, listen closely, and create small safe places to be, just 15 or 30 minutes at a time. Time sitting in your car. A extra few minutes after your shower. A brief walk.

Just a few minutes of greater safety a few times a week can be the opening for something better to take root. 


Emotional abuse in Entrepreneurial and Self-Employed Circles

"Does emotional abuse really happen in the entrepreneurial world, in small businesses?" 

The face of the CEO bully is fairly familiar by now. Maybe your immediate visual is Chef Gordon Ramsey and his notorious, and irresponsibility-celebrated temper. Well, bullying and abuse happens in small and tiny businesses, too. 

Not every case of abuse is over-the-top. In fact, more often than not, an unhealthy culture grows over time. Some examples of where it can start:

1. Requiring client care team members to lie to clients. 

2. Regularly texting team members outside business hours with last-minute, urgent requests. 

3. Pressuring prospects to make a decision after they've said they aren't interested. 

4. Using shaming tactics in public to motivate clients to take action. 

5. Setting unrealistically big goals, or a large number of goals, that have a very small likelihood of being reached in a small amount of time. (Dreams and hopes are one thing. Goals that set up expectations of being achieved, only to almost certainly be disappointed, are confidence stealers and destroyers of people.) 

6. Consistent overwork and financial pressure for the business owner, which is just self-abuse, or 'self-on-self hate' a term I love that I heard from Cynthia. There are countless ways this happens within entrepreneurial circles, so much so that there is a 'joke:' "I'm self-employed and I work for a lunatic!"

Chronic inflammation from the adrenaline that the above examples cause is real, and takes a toll. Take a moment now to assess for yourself. Are you working in, contributing to, or outright creating an environment where people feel unsafe? 

3 Minute Practice: A Dropperful of Empathy

Picture with me something you don't appreciate. Something that aggravates or aggrieves you. Pick something of an intensity that challenges you to the perfect degree for right now.

It could be the face of something who has hurt you.

It could be the wild tantrum of a child you give everything to love.

The driver in front of you.

The person across the courtroom from you.

Your most intimate. Spouse, best friend, teacher. Someone who wronged you.

Now holding the image or sensation of that thing within, acknowledge. Notice your sensations and emotions. Let them bubble, not boil. Be present, but resist becoming eclipsed. Feel that.

And finally for now, seek. Cast the divining rod that is your heart out like a seagull looking for land in an ocean and find a contrasting, even ridiculous noticing.

Goodness, aren't the red red cheeks of the screaming baby beautiful like a rose?

Is the tyrannic father standing on top of the ottoman, yelling, actually the tiniest bit funny?

Your friend, who did that thing, are they wearing their hair cutely today?

The reckless driver ahead, good job with the bumper stickers. Strange about the top being down in the rain, though.

Empathy needs an opening, and little contrasting noticings, even silly-seeming ones, can be that opening. They say that couples argue well when they allow themselves to get distracted, relocating the common ground of existence between them. (Uhh, I know we're fighting like Hades right now but did you see the neighbour sunbathing naked this morning?)

Then when a small space for empathy - that crack for the light of empathy - has been made, don't try to be Mother Theresa (who was apparently notoriously cranky) or Father Gandhi, just yet. Only quest for the tiniest drop of real empathy. The assignment is to allow our natural yearning (yearning that signifies our fundamental desire to love and be loved) to locate one unit of empathy. A molecule, just. A pixel-worth. A dropperful.

Questions to help find the dropperful:

What could be going on for this person right now? 
If this situation could be explained, what could possibly explain it? 
If I could get that the world makes perfect sense to this other person, what would I understand?

What other things can you add, what helps you, when seeking for the seeds of empathy on a concrete floor? What keeps you stuck?

Only This

Have you ever noticed how, at the Dentist, every extraneous thing gets done before s/he enters the room? And once the filling or other procedure is completed, within moments, they're gone again? 

Whether it's the hygienist, dental assistant, receptionist or cleaner who does the other things -set up the chair, turn on the ceiling-mount TV, take the x-ray, isolate my tooth with the rubber square - the point is, this focus is created.

I imagine God saying, 'Thou shalt make it so the ONLY thing the Dentist sees is one tooth. One tooth, and one tooth alone. Not the tongue, the tonsils, the colour of the patient's eyes nor anything else shall be visible. So shall it be.' 

Most of us are not Dentists, but we can still imagine a scenario where only the thing that's most important to us is in our line of sight. Maybe the people around you know their job is to create that. Heck, why stop there? How about a scenario where not only the people, but the spaces,  the tools, and even your schedule all conspire to isolate the work that's most important to you.

If you've been having difficulty making progress on a project, this visualization exercise may shed some light. Once again, saying 'no' is the hero of the story. 

How can you make everything else disappear so you can focus on 'only this?'

Fuel for Saying No More Often

This time of year, ah, the air is ripe with dreams. It is a precious time of choosing. What will we say yes to next in our lives? What nos?

Over the years, I've had occasion to teach 'how to say a no that sticks' a lot of ways, but my current favourite is 'No is the bodyguard of Yes.'

To create a powerful yes, try to find 3 nos to go along with. That means your yes will have 3 bodyguards to protect it. If that isn't enough, add a few more bodyguards. Because 'No is the bodyguard of Yes.' 'No is the faithful guard dog of yes.' 'No is the fierce and loving, devoted mamma bear of Yes.'

The power of no has come up multiple times recently, and I'm happy this recording of Indrani Goradia and I teaching about more about 'no' is still available. For anyone looking for fuel for the above, here you are.

What's Working, What's Not Working, What's Next in Online Business?

If you're in the online business or online training space - this includes you speakers, authors, and coaches - what is your next competitive advantage? 

Hands on transformation. experience-based training. apprenticeships/practicum-style offerings, rehearsal time, making things together, problem solving in groups, going places to do things together...

You get the drift. 

Help me do the thing you teach, with you. Give me the experience of thinking the thoughts with you. Knock something off my to do list in community. Even better if it's involves all five of my senses, and leaves me with lasting memories. 

There's still room for inspiration and information, but find a way to bake in implementation and integration? You win 2018.  

Anger + Love = Action (We Need More of This)

Love on its own, is a beautiful thing. Worthy of being relished, and sometimes even lost in. 

Anger on its own, is a fiery, scary thing. Worth noticing, respecting, and sometimes distancing ourselves from. 

But anger plus love? This is a combination of emotions we don't curate intentionally. Mostly, this mashup happens to us. When it does, it engenders things like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, the Feminist movement, a righteous parent speaking out for the first time against bullying in the Principal's office.

Anger + Love It gives rise to a very special kind of action. Nurtured, it is what fuels movements.

Action then, is the child of anger and love together.

Notice the person who in the name of being passionate, angrily screams for peace, or equality, or is against racism. 

Then notice the person who stays on the sidelines in times of difficulty, claiming they are holding 'love and light.' 

None of us can be angry and loving at the same time, all the time. But if more of us can, just a little more often? The places we'll go...

Coaches: Speed is no longer the point

What's next for coaching? What should we be thinking about as we get close to our second decade of existence as a profession? What will keep us relevant? What is our next advancement? 


Or precision. In other words, helping clients achieve their vision with better aim. Not just in the outcome, but each step along the journey. 

Said another way, in-demand coaches these days are helping clients find their way with a higher degree of faithfulness to themselves. (Less loss of self aka selling out.) 

Speed used to be the poster child deliverable of coaching. It could be said that an entire profession was birthed on the premise that good coaching help could get you where you wanted to go - faster! But faster is now the new pollution. We have too much faster. Maybe we did too good of a job touting the merits of faster? 

In an environment where speed is pollution, helping clients avoid the regrets of going too fast, racing to the bottom, and selling our souls along the way? Those are the new deliverables. 

What a market values isn't static. What we offer, and how we talk about it, can't be either. For a profession that is supposed to be ahead of its clients, we need to stop selling speed as the best feature of coaching. 

"Coach, just help me be the best me possible, I don't care if it takes a while."

Holding a Team to 'Term'

Being willing to build a team. 

Big or small, are you? Willing, that is, to build a team for your business. If you're unsure now, that's alright. But finding your answer is important.

In the business of building a business, I have seen my share of things over 17 years of coaching. If I had to name only one factor that determines success for a business of a certain size, it's whether the leader is capable of building a team. 

If the answer is yes, there is a lot that becomes possible. 

If no, there might be a smaller business destiny at play, or, there is a crossroads. Will the leader of the business become a person who can attract, hold, inspire, and continue to do those things, over time? 

It's a little weird, but, I've seen many leaders fail the test of bringing on new team members at or before 9 months. Human babies take that long to be viable, withstand the test of life outside the womb, and grow to become unique masterpieces. 

Perhaps it's the same for teams.