Monday, November 2, 2015

How to Become a Mindful Leader

Have you ever read Robin Sharma's book, "The Leader Who Had No Title"?  It demonstrates that everyone is a leader and can change the world they live and work in with their own leadership. I loved the book because I have always said the same thing.  We are all leaders.

I think Mindful Leadership is similar to that.  It's about leading your self first.  You cannot inspire or influence others without doing that.  "Be the change you wish to see in the world," Mahatma Gandhi said.  And once you get the hang of leading yourself, you begin to be able to relate to others better because mindfulness is the foundation for emotional intelligence.  You begin to experience the ripple effect.  Your shifts will impact others.  You will inspire... and influence.  And that is leadership.

In most mindful leadership training, you don't learn traditional leadership theories and models. The learning can be very different for each participant.  You are given tools, practices, and thoughts to reflect on so that you can be on your own personal leadership journey.  Mindful leadership training can help you become a more compassionate person - hence a more compassionate leader.  It is an excellent way to augment other leadership training and skills, but it is not the same.

In my programs, some participants spend the full program learning how to calm their chattering mind in order to find focus, while others learn how to respond to anger differently... others learn how to cultivate space to be more creative, and others learn how to be patient.  Some have learned how to relate to their colleagues in a way that nurtures respect, openness, compassion, and creative problem solving.  Some have reduced stress and simplified their lives.  Some have noticed positive changes in their work habits.  And others know they've shifted, feel more content, work with more ease, and can't quite explain what has happened.  It is not a one size fits all approach, either.  Each session facilitated, each person coached, requires a different approach and brings a different outcome.  It is very much YOUR own program.  I give you tools and coaching.  You create whatever you need or want to create.

I think I love helping people be mindful leaders because I am on my journey to be the best mindful leader I can be.  When I led a team of people in the workplace, I did not know what mindfulness was exactly, but I definitely tried my best to lead with compassion, and I know it made a difference.  My team was engaged, committed, creative, and supportive of each other and demonstrated superb customer service.  Other team leaders tried to emulate what we had because we were definitely successful.  There are a variety of reasons for that, of course, but I believe one important contributing factor was that we cultivated a team of mindful leaders.

Being the change you wish to see sounds so easy.  But we get caught up in old habitual patterns of beliefs and behaviours.  Fear gets in our way.  Resistance to change occurs.  We may have all this intellectual knowledge that being a mindful person and leader is a good thing... but we fall off the path.  Many times, that results in self-hatred or fear - whether it is conscious or not.  And we spiral back down towards self-defeating behaviours... which are not exactly inspirational to others.

That is why mindful leadership is a practice... and not necessarily a smooth one.  It really helps to have a supportive group that is also practicing.  Being able to share your successes and failures on this path without judgment can give you the grounding you need to keep it up, face the fears that arise, and help you be accountable for the shifts you wish to make.

If you would like to improve your mindful leadership abilities, organize a group of people that also want the same... it can be 2 people or 10 people - size doesn't matter.  Get educated on what mindful leadership is all about.  Practice.  Begin by meditating a few times to notice any shifts when you calm your mind.  Discuss your experiences.  Support each other.  And laugh. Be kind to yourself and others. Taking on a mindfulness practice (which is what mindful leadership is all about) uncovers truths about ourselves that sometimes we don't like.  Learning compassion is essential for our wellness - which is critical for excellence in leadership.

Start here... BE MINDFUL.

For more information about Tina's next Mindful Leadership Workshop, visit the Facebook event page or email her at  If you are interested in Mindful Leadership workshop, program, or coaching for you or your team, connect with Tina at

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How to Overcome Feeling Unsupported In Business

Recently, I have been invited to and included in several groups which have the purpose to support each other in the group.  A few years ago, when I began my business, I searched for supportive groups like these.  I joined them.  And I felt completely UNsupported.

Three years in my business and I am finally feeling supported.  But it has nothing to do with others supporting me.

Before I became an entrepreneur, I was used to being part of a team... being part of an organization.  I discussed ideas and possible solutions to challenges with my colleagues.  As a solopreneur, one has oneself.  As an entrepreneur with a team, there is still hesitation to be fully transparent with the team. As a result, many times, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs feel very a.l.o.n.e.  Yet we often want to just talk things out... exchange ideas... work with others to do something bigger and better.

So we reach out to groups and sometimes partners to help us feel included and not so alone.

I continued to feel unsupported even though I put effort into reaching out.  People who I wanted to support me, and whom I thought wanted to support me, supported others... partnered with others... became friends with others.  I felt left out.  Excluded.  Alone.  At times, I thought there was something wrong with me.  My mindfulness practice helped me, and I can honestly say, I'm more resilient now than ever!

Then one day, during meditation I'm sure, something clicked.  I teach mindfulness and leadership, but let me tell you, I still need my own coach and practice:)  These people probably did support me.  I mean, what was I expecting from them anyway?  Oh... well... I wanted friends.  I wanted fun.  I wanted colleagues.  But, that is probably not what they were seeking.  I had expectations. And, of course, when you have expectations, you will be disappointed.

So I began shifting my mind every time I felt unsupported.  Instead of getting all wound up about why they wouldn't support me... I started focusing on what I truly wanted and I stoked my own fire. My own vision.  When a partnership did not work, it was probably because the other person was not aligned with what I truly wanted.  I had to come to terms with the fact that my business partners and supporters are not necessarily my friends.  It does not mean I'm not friends with lots of people I do business with... but in order to have true business support, I need to follow my business vision.  And I need to let go of those that do not support me.  That also does not mean not be friends with those that do not support my business.  That means, do not involve myself with the idea that they do not support me.  Carry on.  Do my business.  Mind my own business.  Just like my business tagline says... mind your business.

True, not everyone supports my business vision.  One lady told me there were too many other people doing what I want to do so why bother.  This was someone from an organization that helps business owners.  At first, I did feel deflated.  And if it was a year ago, I would have decided to not pursue what I wanted.  Within a few days of that meeting, though, I had a second person in a few months ask me if I'm going to hold a retreat.

I've been dreaming of holding retreats as part of my business for about 20 years.  I found the fire in my belly that entrepreneurs absolutely need in order to survive.... and I began planning my retreat. And it's happening November 20-22, 2015!  I have people signing up for it.  I have people interested in attending another one.

I finally feel supported.  But, I am supporting myself.  I am revisiting what fuels my inner fire both personally and in business.  It may sound woo-woo to some... but it is what success is built from.  It is how we build resilience.

In order to truly feel supported, I began doing what I love to do again.  For me, that included activities like running, hula hooping, dancing, paying attention to friendships, playing music, being in nature.  We often create busy lives and stop filling our tanks with fuel... when the fire goes out, so does our aliveness.  Of course we will feel unsupported in business if we feel unsupported in life.

And guess what?  As I live my own life... as I fuel my own fire... as I focus on what is important to me... I am gaining friendships and support in ways I was not before.  Your fuel may be different than mine.  It IS different.  And that's why I created this upcoming retreat, "Unleash Your Creative Spirit". It is a retreat to find that fire in your belly... so that you can be alive in life and work.

The answer to finding support is to stop seeking it.  Do what brings you joy.  Of course I still have to do paperwork that I don't like.  But the end result brings me joy.  My vision stays in my mind.  A dimming fire is a sign I'm going off track.  Sometimes I simply need to meditate.  Sometimes I need to revisit the big picture and make different plans.  Sometimes I need a kick in the you-know-what from my coach.  But the support is always initiated from me.

The whole world is actually supporting me.  But without me supporting me, it doesn't matter... I won't feel it.  Entrepreneurs and solopreneurs need to self-support so they can feel the support from the world.  Do what YOU need.  Mind your business...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tired of Talking: Leadership Means Action

I have been talking about Human Resources Management and Leadership for as long as I have had a career.  It all began in the late 1990s, when I was a Junior Business Consultant full of 'piss and vinegar'.

Back then, I wanted to change my workplace.  I had a great leader who believed in me and encouraged my enthusiasm.  We spoke about what Human Resources was really about (I called it Human Relations) and he gave me opportunities to be involved with organizations that were in the midst of change and better leadership (I worked with a business consulting organization).  He allowed me to design and implement new HR programs in our workplace.  I thought I knew a lot - I didn't really:)  I learned a lot.  But the one thing that has not changed since is my idea about what environment is required for successful business.

From there, I pursued a variety of HR and leadership activities and roles.  I advocated for more people centered HR programming.  I know... sounds crazy that we'd need more people centred activities for an activity that is all. about. people.  But, as you know, HR in a traditional sense is about processes and policies.  In the early 2000s, we were talking about the looming labour shortage.  By 2010, the shortage was here and growing.  Across Canada and the U.S. all the talk was about how low employee engagement was and how difficult it was to attract and retain talent.

Has it changed?  Not really.  It is still all the talk.

I was on a mission to expand the mindset of business and HR leaders and prove that caring and authenticity... transparency and compassion... were where it was at for leadership.  I led a successful program that brought all of these ideas into helping businesses transform their businesses by changing the face of HR Management.  When I left that role, I continued to talk and advocate for business success coming from authentic leadership.

Over the years, I have met others doing the same.  And in recent years, a lot of people are talking about this stuff.  Which is excellent.  I love it.

But here's the catch.  Leadership hasn't really changed.  I have worked with some great entrepreneurs who have the mindset and take the actions necessary to lead this way.  But, I have also worked with or spoken with organizations that do not walk the talk.  They want it.  They say they want it.  But they are stuck.  Or afraid.  Or unsure.

Because of this, and probably my own sense of unsureness and fear, I have cautiously talked about the absolute need for leaders to show their human side and be completely authentic if they want to see true success... if they want to have engaged employees... if they want creativity and cohesion in their workplaces.  I have been tentative about sharing what I know to be true.

Mindful leadership is about being confident.  Knowing when you are wrong... and being open to change... but being confident about what you know to be true.

I got tired of talking and have seriously practiced my own mindful leadership skills.  I'm tired of leaders talking.  If you want an engaged, creative, solution oriented, productive, effective workforce... you. must. be. that. kind. of. leader.  And to be that kind of leader... you must be self aware first.


Until our leaders 'get' that, we will continue to have engagement, retention, and attraction problems. The 2014 Gallup Workplace Survey states that "There are low levels of highly engaged workers, and close to a quarter of employees are disengaged.  More than ever, it is essential for companies to understand the factors that drive sustainable engagement."  Previous surveys reported similar 'revelations'.

When will our leaders get tired of talking and begin walking?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why Presence and Compassion are Critical for Business Success

Your business would not exist without your customers. You need sales.  Even if you are a non-profit or a charity, you need funding and you are serving someone.

When I go to a coffee shop and receive a smile, a friendly comment, an awareness that I'm a regular, or a smilie face on my coffee cup, I tell people.  I return to that coffee shop because I enjoy the experience.  I become a repeat and cheerleader customer.

When I call a service company and the customer service representative is cheerful, listens to my issues, takes time to explain things I may not understand, and has a few light comments - even if it's about the weather - I am more willing to accept their processes and work together to find a solution.

However, when I go to a coffee shop and the barista does not smile and they are too busy to look at me or notice that I'm smiling at them, I'm inclined to not return to so often, and I'm certainly not talking about the exceptional service I received.

When I call a service company and the customer service representative is impatient, self-righteous, inattentive to my issues, unpleasant, or even rude, I'm more inclined to feel resistance building and not want to cooperate with protocol or required procedures. 

We all know this stuff.  When we are the customer, we want exceptional service and we know it makes sense for business and everyone involved.

Why then, do we receive so much poor service?  

Difficulties, challenges, and changes occur all the time in business.  Employees are affected.  When the culture of the business is to just do business, employees will just do their job.  In fact, when there is no attention given to them as human beings, some employees will do less than their job.  When the culture of the business is to give attention to concerns, be patient when learning needs to occur, have compassion for personal and professional challenges, celebrate individual successes, and be truly interested in each employee - authentically - your employees will be more present and compassionate with your customers.

And then your customers will return.  And talk about their positive experience with others - sending more customers your way.  

Additionally, when you and your employees are present and compassionate, misunderstandings and resistance can decrease, increasing efficiencies.

Give your employees your attention.  Be present with them.  Take time to sit and listen.  Ask questions.  Make it part of your regular routine.  Don't do anything else while you are talking with them.  Be compassionate to their concerns.  Find your human side and bring it.  Allow your employees to be compassionate to each other's concerns.  Watch what happens when your culture becomes more human.  

Being more human and personal at work actually can improve business.  Your employees follow your lead.  Be more present and compassionate with them, and they will be more present and compassionate with each other and your customers.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why Saying No Is Important for Your Career or Business

Business leaders - whether they are team leaders, project managers, c-suite executives, or entrepreneurs - have a lot on their plate.  They often need to bring work home.  It is expected that they work late, arrive early, and answer their phone and emails on the weekend.  It is expected that they will say yes to every request from their seniors or clients or colleagues.

This behaviour has known to help a leader build their career.  It demonstrates their commitment and work ethic.  It tells current and future bosses they are willing to put in the hours and they are dedicated to the organization.  It is necessary to move forward in one's career.


We know that you hit a wall after so many hours of work and then your productivity declines. We know that work-life 'balance' is important.  We know that overworking on a continuous basis is unhealthy and can lead to all kinds of health problems.  We know that workaholic tendencies lead to higher levels of stress and being on autopilot, which leads to errors in judgement, mistakes, and reacting (sometimes in anger or frustration) rather than responding with thought.

We also know that breaks are important for clearing our mind and being innovative and creative.  We know that in order to effectively problem solve, we need a calm mind.  We know that time away from work, no matter how much we love our work, is good for our health, our souls, and our organizations.  We are more productive when we take time off and take regular breaks from work.

So why do so many people work so many hours?

When I have this discussion with business leaders, they mostly tell me that they have too much work to do.  They enjoy the work they do.  They like working with their colleagues. They often like the organization they work with and the industry they work in.  But there is just so much work to be done and they have a responsibility.  It is part of their job.  They desire a positive performance 'review' (more on that later).  If they do not get the work done, they will be held responsible... could lose out on a work opportunity... could taint their reputation... could be fired.

Phew!  That's a lot of fear going on. It's exhausting.

Add to all that - they do desire to take more breaks, to have weekends free to do the things they enjoy with the people they love, to not have so much work to do, to have the mind space to problem solve creatively, and to be more productive.  But they do not see how they can do that and also have the career path they desire.

So they choose the career or business.

Sometimes they tell themselves, "This is temporary."  "I will have all that I desire once I reach a certain goal."  "I feel fine.  I love the work.  I am not unbalanced.  When I feel unbalanced, I will stop working so much."  But that time often doesn't come.  The work piles on more and more and the leader's 'free time' becomes less and less.

So what can a business leader do?

Awareness is the first step.  Taking stock of how you are working and living and realizing that you work too much (if that is the case) is the first step.  Realizing the real reason for saying yes to so much will help to say no in the future - because we often say yes in order to try to control what other people think of us.  Trying to control what others think of us will never make us happy or content or successful.  It is a waste of your time and energy.

Once you are aware that you are working too much to have the life you want, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I want to change? 
  2. Why do I want to change?
  3. What do I not want and what do I want?

Once you have all of that done (coaching helps move through this process:), it is time to start saying no.  Say no to your bosses.  Say no to your colleagues.  Say no to potential partnerships.  Say no to employees (yes, they put the work on you too when you do not use a leadership approach to inspire, influence, and teach).  Say no to committees.  Say no to boards.  Say no to that extra piece of work.

BUT.... only if it makes sense for you.  Realizing what you do not want as well as what you do want is important in order to know if saying no makes sense for you.  What you want and do not want includes the entire 'wheel of life'... so it includes things like finances, social/leisure activities, family, career/vocation, physical health, mental wellness, emotional well-being, spirituality, and physical environment.

There are times to say yes.  Those times include when the request is aligned with the team/organizational vision and goals; aligned with your vision and goals; will impact something important; will use your strengths and provide an opportunity to demonstrate them; and will build relationships that align with the work and life you want.

Do not say yes to please others or because you are afraid of what they will think of you if you say no. That results in being overworked, stressed, and not only unproductive, but it could lead to errors and deteriorating relationships.  It can lead to dissatisfaction and discontentment.  It could lead to disengagement.  If you are a leader, this will NOT result in progressing your career or business.

It is OK to work hard and even work extra hours.  But if is not aligned with what you want holistically in your life and career or business, it will drain you and could lead to wellness issues or a decline in passion.

Know when to say no.  Then, when you say no, you will do so with mindfulness and intention. It will not be a knee jerk reaction that may cause the person making the request to see you in a negative light.  Rather, that person making the request will probably admire your integrity and leadership - and may be inspired to do the same.

Now, that's a way to progress your business and career.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why Entrepreneurs Need a Coach

Let's face it, entrepreneurs can be wild about their dreams.

Yes, indeed, we will go to great lengths to not only dream, but make them come true.  Add to that the fact that we have idea after idea after idea, which makes our daily 'routine' almost impossible to stick to.  The result can be, at a minimum, lack of focus and spinning our wheels.  Or it could lead to burnout or throwing in the towel before the towel needs to be thrown.

Our passion drives our success.  But it can also drive our failure.  Our failures drive our success.  But they can also wear us down.

It's a vicious cycle.  Entrepreneurs can get very excited about a new project, and that can catapult it to growth and success.  However, without poise, focus, and consistent effort, that same project can fail.

I have been there.  I am a Coach and I have been there.  I'm a natural entrepreneur, and my ideas whirl. all. the. time.  It takes a lot of work to be focused.  It takes a lot of mental coaching to be consistent and stick with something.

Not only do we need to be focused and consistent, but we get beaten down a lot, and we need a way to rise to the top anyway.  This is one of the most important things my coaches have done for me.

I have had several coaches in my business, all of which have helped me out.  But the best coach I've had was my Executive Coach who held the space for me, allowed me to say what I had to say, and then helped me rise to the top (the 'top' is whatever the top is for you at that time).  She and I have had some time apart from our coaching, and that is why I can say this with confidence.  I have not had her coaching in some time, and I need her back.  My business needs her back.  And, so, she is coming back:)

My point is, though, that entrepreneurs need a coach as much as they need financial or marketing guidance.

We have days when we feel unsupported.  A coach gives support.  We have days when we have crazy (aka not feasible) ideas.  A coach pushes us to massage the idea to make it feasible - or release it and stay focused.  We have days when we are afraid - afraid to speak our truth, afraid to take the next step, afraid of success.  A coach listens with non-judgement and helps identify and face those fears.  We have days when things feel like they will fall apart.  A coach will allow you to sit in the chaos for a bit and then help you move through it so you can put the pieces back together and move forward.  We have days when we feel alone.  A coach gives you someone to talk to - she is on your team.

Yes, a coach will reel you in when you are scattered and hold you accountable when you are out of integrity and be a sounding board for your ideas.  But most importantly, a coach helps you rise to the top.  And let's face it, entrepreneurs can sometimes to be too wild about their dreams to do that alone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Thriving on Change

We are in times of change.  We are always in times of change.  Everything changes.  Nothing is constant but change.

But we don't like change.

Not really true.  We don't like being told to change.  And we don't like things to change when we like or feel comfortable in the current situation.  So when an organization needs to make a change (which happens a LOT), employees may be uncomfortable with the change, fear it for a variety of reasons, and, therefore, resist it.  That resistance looks like disengagement, conflict, negativity, or sabotage.  And it results in low productivity, performance issues, and stress.  It may even lead to decreased sales, dissatisfied customers, or relationship issues with suppliers.

It is possible to be OK with change, though.  In fact, you can even thrive on change.  It takes some skill.  And mindfulness helps.

First of all, mindful leadership means the top down directives, decisions, and program roll-outs are compassionate towards what the employees may feel during changing times.  Organizational leaders communicate well and are considerate of the impact the changes have on employees.  They do not walk away from the difficult discussions or decisions and are transparent about what is really going to change... or what is unknown.

Secondly, a mindful culture will allow employees to be calm in the midst of chaos and be accepting of changes.  Additionally, because they are calm, they are more rational minded and can approach decisions and problems with a solution based attitude rather than a fear based one. 

Mindfulness is not all about going to a meditation room and zoning out to get some Zen... in fact, that isn't it at all.  It is about being able to be in the present moment without ignoring it, fighting it, or clinging to it.  It is about being open to change, because change is all we can count on.

If your organization is going through changes, you can begin to alleviate the problems that go along with change by helping your employees express how they feel without judgement and begin meditation groups or other stress relieving activities.  Training employees in mindfulness can help them cope with the changes and have a problem solving attitude.  

You can also help your organization by giving your leaders mindful leadership skills and attitudes and having open, transparent conversations about what THEY are fearing too.  Leaders do not purposefully try to hurt employees and make their lives difficult by changing things. Mindful leadership is about leading with heart.  And when that happens, even if a huge downsizing is the change occurring, employees will respect the leaders and continue to be cheerleaders for the organization.

Difficult changes are inevitable in business.  Resistance resulting from the changes is not.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How Leadership Creates Workplace Bullies

Today is anti-bullying day.  Often we think of kids bullying each other in school and in social media when we consider the impact of bullying.  On this day, kids wear pink shirts to school to support the end of bullying.  It is a wonderful method for building awareness, compassion, and respect amongst children.

However, bullying happens everywhere.  At work.  At home.  In social settings.  Everywhere.

The work bully may antagonize, yell, scream, criticize, and insult others - and I've worked with people like this.  There is another kind of work bully that I've also had experience with, though; and they are much worse.

A bully that is more detrimental to an organization seems cooperative and works hard.  People may admire them because they succeed in their work.  They are good influencers and negotiators.  Most times, they come across as good leaders because people listen to them.  Introduce a situation that they do not like, though, and their bullying nature emerges.

Because this kind of bully is liked and admired, it is difficult to identify that they are bullying.  It may seem they are simply being assertive, maybe a bit aggressive, but not quite bullying - at first.  Those that are bullied by this person may feel they are to blame for any conflict.  It may be difficult to even understand what is happening because the bully seems like a nice person, others like him, but the person bullied knows something is awry.

The person bullied may begin to shrink from working with the bully, may leave his/her job, or may refuse to be bullied and stand up to the bully.  When that happens, the bully comes out in full force.  He/she may lie and try to sabotage others' work, undermine authority, and do whatever he/she believes needs to be done to maintain his/her reputation - and that might mean tainting the reputation of others if necessary.

This kind of bully gets to a point where they CAN do these things without repercussions because of poor leadership.  This kind of bully often IS in a leadership role.  How does that happen?

In the case I witnessed, the bully was placed in a leadership position because she got results.  She was technically good at her job.  She brought in money.  Her projects were successful.  She was rewarded with compensation and responsibility... until she was in a leadership position.

The problem was that no one called her on 'how' she got results.  Because she got results, nobody cared what happened in order for her to get them.  The fact that complaints were made about her and others refused to work with her flew under the radar.  Because she could be aggressive and had the inclination to destroy someone's career with her lies and innocent nature, most people did not speak out against her.  Those that did, did not 'win' because her 'leader' saw results and wanted those results to stay.

In the end, this kind of bully gets rewarded for being a bully.  And this is detrimental to an organization. This bully may bring in results; however, those she works with either leave or lay low and do not perform at their maximum potential.  Productivity suffers.  Attitude suffers.  Culture suffers.  Customer service suffers.  Sales suffer.  Retention suffers.

A mindful leader will not tolerate bullying in order to get results.  A mindful leader would address the bullying head on and either help the person bullying deal with what is going on in his/her life (because that is what bullying is really about) or help them leave the company with dignity.

Bullying can be stopped in the workplace with compassion and courage.  Mindful leaders will face the fear of being attacked by the bully and do it with compassion and respect for the bully - because he/she is human.  And THAT is how bullying needs to be addressed for a win-win outcome.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Love At Work: Connect to be more satisfied at work

In honor of Valentine's Day and what I have always called Love Month, I am holding a contest!  Research has shown that the more mindful a supervisor, the lower his or her employees' emotional exhaustion and higher their job satisfaction.  This is great!  However, there was one caveat.  When basic psychological needs, such as autonomy and connection with others, are not met, the employee can lose the benefits of having a mindful supervisor. 

So, I am giving you an opportunity to practice your mindfulness skills with your team and colleagues, but also to practice connecting with others.  This is what love at work is about.  It is not a romantic love or fluffy, hairy fairy stuff.  It is being human, being compassionate, and connecting with people.  And the outcome can be higher engagement, more creativity, improved productivity, higher retention, and generally happier employees.  If nothing else, you have an opportunity to get to know the people you work with on a deeper level.

The Contest:

Post on my Facebook Page that you have done something to connect with another person in your workplace each day of the contest, which begins today (Feb. 13th) and ends on Feb. 28th.  Your name will be put into a draw as many times as you post.  The prize is a 1-year subscription to Mindful Magazine and a free coaching session with me:) 

Suggestions for connecting:
  • Smile at someone at work whom you do not usually smile at.
  • Write a thank-you note to someone who has helped you at work.
  • Give your manager/boss/supervisor/mentor a compliment about his/her leadership.
  • Give an employee a compliment about his/her work.
  • Listen to someone who needs to be listened to.  Give your 100% attention.  Set everything aside for at least 5 minutes to just listen.
  • Identify three things you love about your work and share them with someone you work with.  Ask them to share what they love about work with you.
  • Sit with someone for lunch whom you do not typically sit with.  Ask them about their life.
  • Ask someone at work to walk with you at lunch.
  • Strike a committee to identify how you can shift your culture to be more compassionate.
  • Allow someone at work to be right - even if you think you are right and they are wrong.  Tell them they are right.
What else can you think of?  Share your ideas and the impact this has in your workplace on my Facebook page... and Share the love with others by sharing this blog or Facebook post.



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Are you Entering the Burn-out Zone? Seven Ways an Entrepreneur can Deal with Stress and/or Burn-out

Stress.  It's a common word we use for many situations.  "I'm so stressed out!" We are stressed about money.  Stressed about work.  Stressed about the kids.  Stressed about relationships.  Stressed about the weather.  Stressed about the situation in the Middle East.  Stressed about supper.  Stressed about our schedule.....

Burnout is not as common.  However, it is much more severe.

The difference between stress and burnout is seen in the following chart (

Stress vs. Burnout
Characterized by over-engagement
Characterized by disengagement
Emotions are overreactive
Emotions are blunted
Produces urgency and hyperactivity
Produces helplessness and hopelessness
Loss of energy
Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope
Leads to anxiety disorders
Leads to detachment and depression
Primary damage is physical
Primary damage is emotional
May kill you prematurely
May make life seem not worth living
Source: Stress and Burnout in Ministry

A few years ago, I was stressed... really stressed.  I was working all hours in the night and up early to work again.  My life revolved around my daughter (which, thankfully, I never lost sight of), my job, which I was extremely passionate about, and my sideline business, which was failing.

I had many of the symptoms of stress.  Interestingly, I was calm on the outside most of the time, but I experienced heart palpitations, neck pain, and frequent headaches... and eventually, fatigue.  Over-engagement was an understatement.  I lost sight of what was truly important in my work.

I was a team leader.  I was a good leader.  But I began to lose sight of serving my customers and my team.  My days began to be about managing my own stress.  I had an amazing team who I could delegate to, but I lost my inspirational leadership abilities.

I was also a business owner.  I am not sure I was very good at that at the time.  However, I learned a lot.  As I became more and more stressed, I became less and less interested in leading my staff and business.  Eventually, the doors closed.  The team members were laid off.  And I was $100,000 in debt.

The following few years were an emotional roller coaster.  I'd met the man of my dreams, sold my house to pay of debt, travelled to South East Asia for the experience of a lifetime, had a baby, and got married.  I also had family illness, family conflict, difficulties re-entering the workforce, and increasing neck/back pain.  Then I started a business doing what I love to do - helping people be holistically well and lead with inspiration.  So life was overall good.  But a bunch of negative emotions bubbled into some of my days until I eventually couldn't get off the couch.

I was not able to bring myself to be excited about my business.  I often just lay down in the middle of the day and, really, had no emotions.  I had a lot of knowledge about what was happening and why, but I couldn't seem to bring myself to move.  I wasn't sad.  I wasn't happy.  I was nothing.

I hit the wall.

And my business suffered.  I am over two years in business now, and sometimes it feels like I just started.  But, like in my past business, I learned a lot.  Following are some of the lessons I learned. Some of these have nothing to do with business... and they have everything to do with business.

  1. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions you are feeling.  Pushing them away simply prolongs the suffering... and may make it worse.  I pushed away anger, hurt, sadness, loss... because I knew I had to be happy and positive to attract happy and positive to my life.  Well, folks, we are human, and we are not wired to be happy and positive all the time.  We need to experience the whole range of emotions if we are to be alive and well. 
  2. That all said, become aware of the negative emotions and begin to shift them.  This takes time.  If you feel sad... feel sad.  Allow it to move through you.  Then allow it to leave.  Begin to find happier than sad.  That may not be 'happy'... that might be 'not sad'... and that is OK. Identify what makes you feel happy and do it.  Think it.  Experience it.  This begins a true shift in your brain and you will begin to feel happy again.  I began to keep my toddler home from daycare some days and have Mommy and daughter time.  Seeing the world through a child's eyes is one of the greatest forms of joy.  I also began to walk.  Outside.  Every day I could.  It brought lightness to me.  Over time, I added more things to my happy list, and over time, I climbed out of the emotionless pit I'd fallen into.
  3. Breathe.  Just sit and pay attention to your breath.  This calms your mind and helps you see more clearly.  We are often bombarded by our own thoughts.  We create chaos and stress in our lives because it is in our minds.  Calm your mind and calm your stress.  Meditation and yoga provided true healing for me.  And then I started my training to be a meditation instructor AND a yoga teacher.  Everything happens for a reason:) 
  4. Be with people who are truly kind and compassionate.  There are many positive people and groups out there. These may not be the best groups for you to be with when you feel burnt out - although they may.  I needed REAL.  Going to a group in which everyone was happy and positive made me feel awful - because I wanted to feel that but I couldn't.  I also did not feel good going to a group that was like a support group, where everyone shared their problems and cried with each other (you may need that, though).  I needed real people who were indeed happy, but they were non-judgmental.  They listened.  They did not try to fix me.  They did not have a need to flaunt their own happy or their own emotional distress.  They were truly kind. You will know them when you meet them because they make you feel good - not bad.  Now that I've left the burn-out zone, I can be with all the other people and groups without the emotions affecting me.  I needed attention and I needed kindness.  I needed a reprieve.  I needed real.  I needed to be able to say what was truly on my mind without fear of it affecting my business... because, afterall, I was in the business of mindfulness, leadership, and wellness, yet I was not being much of a leader and I was unwell.  
  5. Be kind to you.  So this piece of advice was given to me by a friend.  She just said these words and they resonated with me.  I was pushing my emotions down.  I was trying so hard to be what people expected of me - a great wife, a great mom, a smart business owner, a compassionate coach, a loving daughter/sister/friend.  But I struggled with all those roles because I wasn't listening to myself.  If I didn't feel happy and positive, I beat myself up because I knew better.  I needed some time to heal.  I was burnt out and it had been going on for years!  I finally needed to just rest.  Now, don't get me wrong, I still fed my children:)  But if I couldn't cook the healthiest meal, I didn't beat myself up about it.  If I didn't complete my tasks for the day, I didn't beat myself up about it.  If I felt bad... I didn't feel bad about feeling bad.  This was where I needed to begin.
  6. Investigate what is really going on.  You can do this through contemplation during meditation, journaling, or simply thinking about it while walking or resting.  For me, I experienced loss and hadn't dealt with it.  I left my job, closed my business, and then couldn't find a job for a long time when I lived in Singapore.  Upon my return to Newfoundland, I also did not have a job because I had a baby, but I searched for one even though I really wanted to be home with my baby.  Part of my loss was a loss in identity, which resulted in a loss of self-esteem.  I had been defining myself as a promising organizational leader.  But I was no longer that.  Once I recognized this, I could begin to shift it.  I began to let go of this identity.  I realized it was not WHO I was.  I intellectually knew all of this... but experiencing it brings a deeper level of understanding.  Once I got that, I could create my new vision and goals.  I could get excited about this new chapter in my life and I could say good-bye to the old one.
  7. Talk to another Entrepreneur or Business Leader or someone in your field or a Coach... who is non-judgmental.  I sought out fellow business owners ever since I first started my business.  I joined groups.  I met one-on-one.  I networked.  And I shared my challenges and successes.  But I did not always feel supported or encouraged.  In fact, I sometimes felt completely torn down.  Of course, I know this is not my problem but theirs.  However, as I entered the burn-out zone, this was detrimental to my confidence and courage as a business owner.  Slowly, I began to remove myself from all business groups.  In fact, I withdrew completely for a while.  It may not sound smart from a business point of view, but would you speak with a group of investors without preparing your speech?  I needed to prepare me.  So I did.  I took care of my mental state and was very selective about who I met with, who I took on as a client, what events I participated in.  I continue to find my tribe - my group of fellow colleagues who are open, caring, non-competitive, and real.
As an Entrepreneur or Business Leader, we often feel alone.  Stress is something we can handle with coping mechanisms if we are aware of and kind to ourselves.   The symptoms of stress can often be managed with lifestyle changes such as exercise, sleep, relaxation, nutrition, nature, art, healthy rituals, and setting boundaries.  Burn-out is much more difficult and business can suffer greatly when it comes along.  It is emotional and mental exhaustion.  It sometimes requires a complete change in career or job in order to deal with it.  But, you CAN pull yourself out of it.  Reach out for some help. Meditate.  Train your brain.  Find something good.  Celebrate feeling better than yesterday - even if that is angry because yesterday, you may have felt nothing.