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Archive for June, 2015

New Leader, Great Leader

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward. – Victor Kiam

I’m writing from Austin at the Summer Leadership Training Institute for the Texas Counseling Association. The atmosphere is amazing and the rooms are full of new and seasoned leaders in the counseling field. Being here reminds me that getting your feet wet in leadership can feel a lot like trying yoga for the first time. We all know exercise is important to a healthy body but when we think about putting on yoga pants in order to contort in a crowded hot room, it’s tempting to just forget it and wear them to the grocery store instead.

As painful as the thought may be, leadership is an important part of personal growth, career development, family guidance, and civic duty. I asked a young woman at my table from San Angelo what it was like for her to be a newly elected leader. She replied that she was excited to get started and happy that her fear of making mistakes didn’t hold her back. After I complimented her on her decision to ‘lean in’ and embrace her new role, I decided to observe other leaders in the room to discover other characteristics that make a great leader.

  1. Don’t let your fear of making mistakes hold you back. Mistakes are part of the learning process. As my friend at the table noted, once you make them, you realize they weren’t as bad as you thought.
  2. Great leaders change how people feel by being useful, entertaining, and inspiring. Each person I met at this conference changed me in some way. The combination of passion and knowledge was contagious.
  3. Your organization helps its clients/employees/members be better versions of themselves every day, so leaders should do that also. A good leader builds trust and connects members.
  4. A good leader is an extension of the organization. He/she helps people understand more about who we are and what our organization stands for.

Do something that scares you today – go lead!

 

Hold It Together Stay Together

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Disney claims to be “the happiest place on earth.” I think that’s funny because when my family visits the magic kingdom during the summer holiday, we laugh because of all the non-ride-related screaming. We hear screams of anguish from devastated kids being dragged away from princesses, and screams from tired kids on the last leg of their Bataan – like marches across four theme parks. I’m not gonna lie; we’ve had a few ‘just short of screaming’ moments at the happiest place on earth. Fortunately, my kids held it together in time to get to the food and the hotel swimming pool.

I wonder how many times parents just ‘hold it together’ in the summer time? One UK study found that of the 2,008 U.K. adults polled, nearly a fifth considered divorce or separation after their children returned to school after the summer holiday (see these and other unusual divorce statistics from the 2013 Huffington post article here). In The Woodlands, Texas where I practice, summer is more than just the time for a holiday road-trip. It is the time of migration. We see ex-pats moving in from other countries, families visiting their countries of origin for visa purposes, and mass move-ins and move-outs due to corporate restructuring.

So it’s probably true; many couples are just ‘holding it together’ hoping the summer will hold the magic to keep their relationship alive. Here are some ideas so summer isn’t the only hope:

  1. Fight fair and no below the belt name-calling or sarcasm. Any intimidating behavior (close yelling, throwing objects, slamming doors, etc.) is off limits.
  2. Don’t discuss serious or inflammatory things after drinking. Ever.
  3. Schedule a discussion so the kids aren’t around and you have plenty of time to talk. Write out your points and never let any single statement go longer than 20 seconds. Use a timer for this.

For more helpful hints, sign up for the newsletter and get “5 Rules for Couples to Fight Fair.”

Have a great summer!

To Succeed You Gotta Get Gritty

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Good morning Achievers!

You know grit is quite a hot topic these days (check out Angela Duckworth’s research here). Grit means you go through a hellacious experience and you do more than just survive, you thrive. Or perhaps you are the Energizer bunny and no matter what happens, you just keep going and going and going. My own gritty experience (I think the actual word I used to describe it at the time only rhymed with gritty) involved getting a cancer diagnosis, having three little kids, knowing my husband was in a combat zone, and deciding to start a Ph.D. program and a new counseling practice. So what are the five traits of Grit? They are courage, achievement, follow-through, resilience, and excellence (rather than perfection).

 

Courage, or your ability to manage fear of failure, can only be cultivated through hardship. That’s a tough sell to entrepreneurs. We want to succeed because we have a mortgage to pay, student loans to pay back, or food to buy. Achievement might seem like an easier virtue to swallow, but it’s important to note that this is NOT meticulous conscientious completion. It is a ‘do your best-finish it up-get on to the next task whether it looks pretty or not’ virtue. Follow-through is akin to Malcom Gladwell’s ‘10,000 hours to mastery’ theory. It tells us that practice with purpose is the driver behind accomplishing long term goals. Resilience can be descried as the belief that “everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.” Excellence-not perfection is a gritty trait because it is an attitude. Perfection, on the other hand, relies on the opinions of others and is impossible to reach.

 

To see Angela Duckworth’s TED talk about grit click here.

 

Have a Gritty Day! – Kate

3 Step, No-Hassle Summer Schedule

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

If you are like me the first day of summer throws me off kilter a bit. My kids are home from school, my work schedule gets a little bit inconsistent, there’s more daylight (which means more stuff to do!), and, well, you get the picture. Here are some things that made the transition from Spring to Summer a little bit easier for me AND my family.
1. Summer Bucket List. Ask your family to list the most important things they want to accomplish or experience this summer. This exercise is a great way to give everyone in your family a voice. The list creates accountability and the process teaches problem solving. If an item doesn’t make the family list, encourage the family member to keep it on a personal list.
2. Family calendar or white board. Remember, if it’s not on the list, it doesn’t exist! Take the items from step 1 and write them down on a master list somewhere where everyone can see it, every day. Give everything an EDC – Estimated Date of Completion. Make a big deal about accomplishing things!
3. Limit kids’ technology while you are at work. I know. You’re thinking, “what does this have to do with a schedule?” and, “I thought you said this list was no hassle?” Ok I fibbed a little bit, but your kids are only human and over-using technology is like getting in a time machine. Once your kids start Netflix or X-Box, they can lose an entire day without realizing it. You may, no strike that; you will get a ton of pushback for this. Do your best anyway to find a way to limit technology to just a few hours a day.

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