The 3 C’s of an Effective Work Team

It takes hard work and dedication to build a successful work team, yet the results they deliver are worth every ounce of effort. A team may be well-trained in terms of talent and skill set, but if their coordination is off or they lack the necessary “soft skills” of trust, communication, and mutual feedback, even the most highly trained work team can be reduced to dysfunction and squabbling.

For some, the idea of soft skills may seem elusive or abstract. For others, their organization has operated for so long without them, it is hard to conceive of what a high-functioning team might look like. Fortunately, there are three elements that will increase the coordination, performance, and soft skills of any work team. These are the 3 C’s of Confidence, Compassion, and Cohesion.

Compassion in the workplace means to understand a colleague’s pain. Assuming the highest goal of the work team is achieving the organization’s mission, compassion is a natural by-product. When we choose to “suffer with” rather than “compete against” our colleagues, an office culture can completely turn around.  Because workers are no longer working for themselves they can now be coordinated toward achieving optimal results. This is also a re-prioritization of “service of colleagues” over “fulfillment of self” and management must model this behavior as well in order to make it stick. CIA or “Compassion-In-Action” includes appropriate division of the workload, mutual feedback around role performance and improved coordination of tasks.

Cohesion: Team cohesion naturally arises from compassionate employees. Cohesion is built out of TLC, or Trust, Love and Commitment. Trust is the foundation of a cohesive work team. Through completion of common goals and shared experience teams forge bonds of trust with one another. Greater trust will also ensure that our teammates hold each other accountable to tasks, which further increases compassion as employees learn to “suffer with” each other. Love refers to the level of passion for the work they do and for the team. Passion is an irreplaceable fuel that drives success in any business and this potential must be harnessed for the team. Commitment refers to their level of commitment to the goal as well as to each other.

Confidence: There are two types of confidence. The first is mastery over a particular skill that that is gained through practice and experience. The second is a form of inner confidence that we know we are capable of adapting and doing whatever it takes to succeed in the moment. This sense of knowing includes an ability to face our shortcomings and see them not as failures, but as opportunities to learn, change, and grow. Inner confidence is simply our ability to fall and fall and keep getting up again until whatever task we set out to do is mastered.

Confidence also links back to cohesion. As trust is gained we grow more confident in our teammates and vice versa. Compassion is further fueled by confidence. As we begin to see the results and feel the power of a cohesive team, we become more committed to each other and this increases our confidence.

The 3 C’s allow a team to function optimally without the common maladaptive behaviors such as gossip, competitiveness, and stabbing each other in the back. Through common goals in times of crisis the bonds of teamwork are forged and the increasing soft skills bring about the missing elements of a high functioning work team. .

Research abundantly shows that teambuilding improves organizational performance by almost 20%. The 3 C’s are part of every team’s natural potential and they can be harnessed through the right leadership. Cultivating the 3 C’s is part of the work I do in my coaching program and I invite you to contact me if you want to learn more.


Dealing with Difficult People

We all have at least one difficult person in our lives. Whether it is a co-worker, neighbor, relative or our own spouse, somewhere out there is that special someone who knows how to push our buttons, sabotage our plans and drive us so crazy we sometimes feel like punching the wall. And we have tried everything to work things out but the situation feels hopeless….So now what?

This article is about all the difficult people in our lives and all the drama, conflict and hard lessons they bring to us. But this article is not about how we can stand up to them more, or some secret formula to transform or change them in anyway because…and I hate to be the one to tell you this: we can’t! And they are probably never going to change or suddenly become nicer or a better listener in any way…

I know this is a harsh lesson but the very notion that we can change somebody is false- and believe me as a professional coach I have learned this lesson more deeply than most people ever will. It is also egotistical because it presupposes that we know what is best for them- and in truth the only one that truly knows that is them, and right now that means being difficult.

People generally only change under three conditions:

  • They are ready
  • They are willing
  • They have something to gain

This may sound negative or pessimistic, but it is actually a highly effective strategy for working with others and for managing difficult people. When we begin to understand what is truly motivating them and we are relating to them through an attitude that respects their needs, beliefs and ideas, we can actually begin to build a bridge with even the most difficult people.

Another reason we can not change a difficult person is because we are LIKE them. I am not saying we all are difficult people per say, but there are certain assumptions people operate under that make their lives more difficult and more likely to clash with other difficult people rather than relating to them in an effective or harmonious way.

The number one assumption we have that is holding us back is the judgment that the other person is difficult and that they need to change the way they are. If I may so gently point out: this belief is arrogant. The difficult person may be difficult, but they are often content with the way they are and simply going through life fighting strongly for what they believe in. This is how they learned to navigate life’s obstacles and it is their survival mechanism. Who are we to say that it is not the right way for them to be?

In actuality it is WE who need to change around them and fortunately this is where the greatest power and potential lies. Changing our behavior or beliefs is something we have direct control over right now. As I pointed out earlier, changing someone else is futile and the difficult person may be completely content with the way things are. If we want change to occur, then the level that can happen on most easily is within ourselves.

How does this work? There is a basic fact that we all forget as we go about our busy lives that people around us are more alike than different- and this is why we clash. We all need certain fundamentals: food, clothing, shelter, security, companionship, and so on through the hierarchy of needs. The majority of conflicts in the world occur on the levels of communication and external behavior used to secure these fundamentals. If we could simply remember that underneath we all want the same thing, and begin to apply some basic strategies, we might actually notice how harmonious our ideas and behaviors can be, even when dealing with difficult people:

Figure out what they want and what is driving them: Approach, then ask and listen. Listen some more. Figure out a way you can both get what you want through some plan or reasonable compromise. If they are being difficult you will likely have to do most of the creative thinking, but this is much easier than trying to convince them you are right or trying to change their minds.

Figure out exactly how they want to be treated: Many times difficult people are operating under a net trauma of oppression, being marginalized, criticized or having their creativity stepped on by bosses, family members etc. They too want love, compassion, respect and sincerity much like the rest of us and the deficiency they have lived with for so long is what has caused them to be difficult and overly- aggressive about their ideas and needs. Remember this is only their survival mechanism.

Become their friend: Keep your friend’s close but your enemies closer. Once you get them on your side you may find a powerful ally or in the least a functional partner. Building a language of communication with the difficult person is key to avoiding future conflicts. If they are too difficult or require too much energy, leadership or maintenance, you may require some professional assistance from a coach or mentor on how to take a stand or redefine the relationship.

See difficult people as a gift or ally: Take the opportunity to reflect on the darker parts of yourself. Negative people reveal to us where we are inflexible. Often times they share a similar unhealthy trait (with the volume knob turned way up) that we find unlikeable about ourselves, and this is the very quality we are so blatantly judging in them!!! The difficult person can be a powerful mirror into our own psyche and if we learn to accept those difficult parts of ourselves it will help neutralize the irritation we experience with the difficult person.

Always stand up for yourself: Never let a difficult person walk all over you! I know I just said to be more compassionate, but all things require balance and you are doing just as much harm to the world by letting yourself be trampled as by starting a conflict with a difficult person. The most important thing here is following an effective strategy to reach the highest potential of any friendship, marriage or organization. If you are stuck or feel overwhelmed by the difficult people in your lives, this may be your opportunity to work with a professional conflict coach, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Unshakeable Self-Confidence – Part 1

Attaining Limitless Confidence

Wouldn’t it be great to embody a feeling of unshakeable self-confidence? Wouldn’t it be absolutely wonderful to have a powerful and limitless sense of self that you are capable of anything? If that sounds good to I invite you to join me on this incredible journey of attaining limitless confidence!

At one time or another we have all faced challenging situations that shook us to the core. Some of us, depending on our lot in life, may even face these obstacles on a daily basis. But not one among us is completely immune to stress- and whether we are discussing love life, work life, public speaking engagements, playing sports, or building a small business we all could use some additional accessible self-confidence at some time or another to overcome these various life stressors.

This is multi-part blog series on the nature of confidence. We are going to examine the different types of confidence, their core components, and how they arise and ebb and flow throughout our lives. We are also going to discuss how to attain limitless confidence, how to access confidence when you need it most and how to transform ourselves into highly confident individuals. With this series, I aim in inspire you to become a more confident and authentic person. I also plan to deliver some valuable tools for to continue your journey into confidence and offer any further guidance I can along the way.

Part 1:

Internal vs. External Confidence

First off, confidence is both a natural and learned state of being. There are two basic types: external and internal, and though related, both are uniquely useful and cultivated in a different manner.

Our external confidence is a feeling of confidence based on merit and the results of our actions; external results “prove” we are capable of doing something. Seeing is believing and accomplishing what we set out to do reinforces our internal sense of confidence; that we are capable of doing a specific as well as similar tasks.

Internal confidence is a sort of “inner faith” and sense of knowing that one is powerful, capable and has unique abilities that will help us “figure things out” when faced with uncertainty. This type of confidence exists when one truly knows oneself and is aware of our own authentic needs, values and abilities.

Internal confidence is also our birthright. If you think about it, a baby knows when it is hungry, tired or upset and is not afraid to express itself. This natural alignment with inherent wants and needs is a sort of confidence in itself. Knowing what you want and need is a powerful first step because it brings a sense of clarity and all that comes next is striving to achieve it. If the baby is hungry or tired it demands that need to be met through crying. In this way we are born confident in our ability to know what we need and to ask for it.

Confidence that relies on external proof contains one minor flaw as it requires external validation to exist. If we are constantly relying on external proof to show us we are capable, then we are almost literally putting the cart before the horse and we will never have the power to take action in the face of uncertainty.

On the other end, internal confidence is powerful, adaptable and only limited to the extent that one “self-predicts.” If one has this deep sense of inner faith, one will be much more likely to accomplish tasks in the face of uncertainty. Its weakness if anything is that it is an abstract and undirected form of confidence, and if left unbridled could potentially become reckless and allow us to strive for unrealistic goals.

The merit-based external confidence is also highly useful. Once we have accomplished something or overcome a particular challenge, the result is hard evidence and one feels confident the task can be repeated. This type of confidence can be further applied to similar tasks and obstacles. The manner in which this confidence builds is therefore quite logical. It is almost the equivalent of a job resume where one skill set translates to another and you are interviewing yourself for the job.

The internal confidence has a certain audacity. It is quite bold and despite the uncertainty it supplies you with enough patience and perseverance to complete the job. It is also the confidence of a daredevil or risk-taker. It is quite fierce and powerful and can make us effective in situations involving thinking on your feet, public speaking to strangers, learning new tasks and entering new situations unprepared.

This type of confidence can access a certain spiritual level where one feels faith that the answers will be discovered and the right tools or teachers will just somehow arrive to help us figure it out as we go.

A little of this inner power goes along way and when enslaved by the ego one can become over-confident. The truth of this confidence is greater than ourselves and extends beyond us through faith. Where one believes that one is powerful and that they are the one doing it all by themselves, that is where we get into trouble. This confidence usually arrives as an invitation from the universe rather than a forceful or aggressive confidence that is muscled through by the ego.

This type of confidence arises from the higher self or the core being. It is an authentic birthright that lies inside each of us. Therefore, when confidence is not present it is simply obscured and awaiting rediscovery. The way we “unlearned” confidence was through the trauma we experienced in life and our “upbringing” where we are taught to think and be logical and that we can or cannot and should or should not do certain things. For example, the negative belief that women can’t be scientists and men can’t be nurturing and emotional.

In later entries we are going to talk about how to unwind all this type of trauma and negativity that obscures self-confidence and help you attain powerful, unshakeable and limitless self-confidence which is your birthright. Fortunately, the process is quite simple as it is the same as every other path of self growth where giant leaps forward are made simultaneously in each area of your life!

Reflection Points:

Internal and External Confidence are symbiotic and can reinforce each other. Use the power you feel in one area to enhance the feeling of confidence in areas you feel less confident.

To do so, contemplate and journal on the following ideas:

  1. What have you accomplished in your life that makes you feel proud or confident?
  2. Where are the places you currently struggle with confidence in your life?
  3. In what ways are the current struggles similar to the tasks you had accomplished in the past?
  4. What can you begin doing now to build confidence in those current struggle areas?


The Power of Choice

The ultimate power we hold in this world lies within our power of choice. No other power exists that can shape our destiny, create our reality and influence the people in our lives like the choices we make. In fact, we hold no other apparatus of control in our lives other than our choice-making in all worldly matters.

Our power of choice is shaped and implemented through our thoughts, feelings and actions. No one can control what you think. Even if on the surface you comply and behave according to what someone else wants, the true freedom to think for yourself always exists within the realm of the mind. Thinking can be influenced by the outside world if we let it, but in the end we always have the choice whether to belief in something or not.

Often forgotten or unrealized, the same choice is true for human emotions. Though we might convince ourselves or even convey in our language that some has “made us angry” or “insulted us” it is always our personal choice to respond that way- though often an unconscious one. Our past experiences, successes and failures; the ways we’ve chosen to adapt, react and respond to challenges in life and the result we’ve achieved have all shaped our emotional response to the present.

Emotional responses are thus subjective and in many ways predetermined by the learned reactions of the individual. For example, some people react to stress with excitement, others with fear. For some, an insult makes us angry. Others are deeply hurt and others shrug it off. How you respond today all stems from how you adapted to challenges in the past, and that is your unique personal history.

Two important conclusions arise here. First, no one is “making us angry.” This is our “chosen” or programmed response pattern to a certain stimulus. Second, feelings are based on our perceptions of the moment and are therefore changeable. No one can control how you feel or react to any given situation except you and how long you choose to keep following your adapted response. When we make statements like “you make me angry ,” we give our power of choice away. It also unfairly places responsibility for our emotional reactions on others.

Actions and how we respond are the most powerful choices one can make and also lie in the control of the individual more than we think. Actions that are in step with your character and aligned and consistent with your values are the most powerful. These speak integrity and are felt by others both in personal relationships and in business. The power of “walking your talk” is incredible and useful. It’s consistency builds rapport and trust in others. Also, how powerful would it be to next time someone insults you to react with sympathy and compassion rather than biting their head off?  How you respond can influence the behavior of others and thus control what arises in any situation.

Our present state of wealth and/or happiness are also a result of the commitments and course of action we have chosen in our lives. Had you made different choices, you would have gone down a completely different road, found a different career, connected with different people and become an entirely different person inside and out. Common sense says that if you don’t like your lot in life, then make some new choices. You are not a victim of your circumstances nor are you stuck where you think you are…

We might think we are stuck or limited in our choices at various times in our lives, but the truth is there are a myriad of choices not yet considered and one might be the solution to our dilemma. Our mind frozen in fear perceives limitation and inhibits taking any action, while any opportunity remains hidden. Next time you are in a rut, I challenge you to stop, breath and look for the openings. The choices may be small, even difficult or undesirable at first, but they are in there. Any dilemma no matter how insurmountable it seems has set of choices that can lead you back to prosperity.

Certainly choosing to change must be done practically and in a timely manner, but plenty of people with kids and all sorts of problems that are bigger than yours have slowly begun to make new choices and shift their reality into something they can live with. The key difference is they began to see their power of choice and then chose to use it.

When you have realized you do have a choice you have taken your power back and brought your awareness to the next level. Previously challenging circumstances will seem easier in this new light and more choices will be readily available in difficult times. You will also be the master of your emotional reactions and with clarity you will be able to choose your response instead of feeling hurt, insulted, degraded or enraged. You will think more clearly, brilliantly, quickly and able to take powerful actions that lead to consistent levels of success that were previously unreachable.

In the end, our thoughts feelings and actions are all our choice, which comprise our reality and our perception of reality. Choice is also the mechanism of change. If you don’t like your reality think about changing your beliefs and behavior first. In the least, you will see it in a new light and find choices that were previously unavailable. Next think about what series of choices might lead you down a path to the life you want to create. These choices are out there. If you can’t figure it out on your own, there’s no shame in that. Give me a call and I will help you.

Inspiration is Motivation

Sometimes words like discipline and duty make me sleepy….Trying to force myself to do something I don’t want to do is like trying to push an enormous boulder up an endlessly steep hill….So how can I get myself to do something that I just don’t want to do?  Truthfully, it’s almost impossible and I know many of you feel the same way, and that is why I invented this simple formula that can work for people like us, how we structure our day and that could benefit every level of society.

Lawrence Kohlberg  talked about the difference between Pre-Conventional and Post Conventional morality is his writings.  Though I don’t claim to be an expert on Kohlberg and my comparison is a bit of a stretch, this model is an excellent jumping off point for my discussion around finding motivation.

Pre-Conventional Morality is based on motivations around rewards and punishment .  It is the “carrot on the stick” mentality.  Essentially, we follow certain actions based on the rewards they bring (like making money) or the punishments we avoid (like going to jail).

For those of us “working for the weekend” and staying in that job we hate “just for the money,” it is harder to feel motivated.  Post Conventional Morality on the other hand is another stage of development where the individual makes decisions and actions based on his/her own intuition and high-level reasoning.  In terms of finding motivation, it is as if the actions are driven by a sense of higher good or purpose, and to bring in yet another psychological term, this PCM person resembles a “self-actualized individual.”

The Self-Actualized person is living their life purpose.  They are inspired and fulfilled by the work that they do and they are highly motivated and productive individuals who seem to accomplish great tasks with ease.  They are not concerned with rewards and punishments as their actions are motivated by compassion and the joy of the act itself.  They are natural leaders and easily inspire loyalty and motivation in other people.

We can all live like this and feel like this!….So just what is the secret?

“Inspiration is Motivation.”

And that’s it!  When you are inspired, there is no more inner critic standing over you with a whip, or carrot on the stick keeping you in line.  Inspiration is natural.  It is a power and a sense of connectedness welling up from within, and that is why it is so easy to move boulders when you are living your purpose and feeling inspired.  Work no longer feels like work when you are passionately inspired, and motivation comes quite easily when inspired.  Gone is that eagerness for the weekend because you are in love what you are doing and motivated by the act itself.

This is also why many people take a pay cut to do what they love such as serving a social cause or pursuing their art.  Not that you can’t make money doing such things- that is a limiting belief that I coach people out of every day!  The main point here is that finding your purpose in life and connecting with your personal inspiration in whatever it is you are doing is the utmost important task to feeling motivated consistently.

Sometimes you can even run your entire daily schedule based on inspiration by asking yourself “What task feels most important or inspiring to do right now?”  Prioritization of tasks is an important skill for the entrepreneur and if you can tune into your intuition, you will know what you need to do next today…This is advanced level though, and I can coach you here when you are ready, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Imagine how our world would be run on inspiration!  How at peace everyone would be, and how productive!  This is the world I want to create so I started by creating it for myself and now I seek to help others do the same…

Again, if you want this and you are ready for change, let me know.  And until then remember: find the inspiration and that will get you moving.  I guarantee it!

Powerful Decision Making

Throughout many periods of my life I have felt anxious around making decisions and I want to share with you some of the techniques that have helped me through….

Think about a time in your life you were faced with making a crucial decision.  What was that experience like for you?  How easy and natural did it come?  What factors went into your decision?  How did you eventually decide?

Many of us feel overwhelmed when making crucial decisions.  For some, even simple decisions can seem daunting and stressful.  Sometimes the weight feels so heavy that the effect is debilitating.  It’s as if the fate of the company, our family even our whole life centers around this one decisive moment and it makes us want to tear our hair out!

What if there was an alternative to feeling this way?  What would mean for decision-making to feel easy, effortless and leave you filled with such confidence that each decision feels wonderful?  If that sounds nice, read on!

So how does one go about reaching powerful decisions? First, let’s examine the nature of a decision and how we relate to them to see if that can help us become more decisive:

A decision is simply taking an opportunity to move forward or putting a plan into action.  All of life is actually a series of decisions and a myriad of potential outcomes exists in every waking moment.  Whether it is getting out of bed in the morning and having breakfast, or choosing what direction to take your Fortune 500 company each of these actions are a choice with varying degrees of weight.  Simply showing up and facing the myriad of choices is also a decision we have to make daily and often a highly courageous one that needs be applauded!

One metaphorical moment of decision is the general on a battlefield who raises his sword shouting “CHARGE!”  This is the perfect mirror for reframing our decision-making process.  The general and the charging army demonstrate how the reality of our circumstances in a decision is often the complete opposite of our experience.  In moments of crucial decision we typically feel high anxiety and enormous pressure as if our whole life hinges upon this one outcome.

However, the exact opposite is actually the truth.  In decision-making, everything we are intending and everything we’ve ever learned or experienced is actually directly behind us supporting the decision- and all of these factors coming together in this moment are what are making the decision, not just your brain.  The general never charges alone- his/her momentum is supported by the massive power of the army behind you that is your life.  Realizing this creates more space for patient and purposeful decisions to arise.  It also means you are doing your best to make the right choice and therefore whatever decision you choose will be right in some way.

Still the “fear of failure” is often the greatest culprit holding us back from many decisions.  Underneath every fear of failure is disguised the greater feeling of “I am not good enough,” and that no matter which choice we make there still exists some chance that the outcome won’t be desirable.

So if no choice is going to be perfect, how can overcome our fears and take action through making powerful decisions? Acknowledging the truth that nothing is sure nor perfect is the first step.  Then, there are several key points and effective strategies for making decisions:

  • Do your due dilligence.  Interrogating reality is key to knowing the full spectrum of opportunities you are presented with.  Empower yourself as a fully informed choice-maker and you will feel much more confident about moving forward. Remember that there is no sure victory nor perfect answer, so just do your best.
  • All decisions are made at the appropriate time.  Patience and wise procrastination are virtues when the pressure is high, and chances are you are not thinking clearly so you need to detach.  If there is no immediate deadline, give yourself a break and table the decision appropriately.  Additional mental clarity will arise given the space and it’s better to move forward with a powerful, clear sense of choice.
  • If the deadline is immediate still find a means to detach.  Even a five minute break or a few moments of detachment and centering can bring out the clarity you need to make a fully-informed powerful decision that feels right.
  • There is no failure, only opportunity.  Opportunity exists in the outcome of both the right and the wrong choice.  There is tremendous value in the hard learned lessons of life and when you can find this you turn failure into victory.  In the least, you will be more informed in similar future dilemmas and if you never had the lesson you wouldn’t have known in the first place.  Remember, it can always be worse! If you can find the positive, the learning experience and the opportunities from the fall out of any non-ideal outcome, then you have removed failure from the realm of possibility in your life.
  • When the moment comes, do what feels right.  Reason is good, but value your emotional intelligence and instincts equally. If you think about it, every decision has an emotional component even if the decision process was rationally based because doing what you believe is logical feels right.  Logic has it’s limitations too because reason is based on what you know and have experience with in your own life.  Anything outside of your frame of reference won’t be available for your rational mind to calculate and this is still going to stress you out.
  •  Become a ‘Quantum Decision-Maker.’  The final and ultimate answer to making powerful decisions is to be the person that weighs all of the factors in the decision, has done the due diligence around learning choices and most importantly makes the decision based on logical, emotional and intuitive levels of consciousness. Many of us fail to realize the value of these other aspects in our thinking, and society is quick to judge the emotional and intuitive as being illogical and unscientific.  In the least, using all 3 levels of awareness is guaranteed to make the decision-making process feel good.  Remembering full well that no outcome is completely knowable you can relax and let go by tuning into your self more and knowing you are doing your best.

In future issues I want to talk more about the intuition and how accessing it can benefit you in many aspects of your life such as decision-making.  I hope sharing what I’ve learned in my experience has helped you and I am eager to hear what you think!