It’s Halloween! Time for us to put on our masks and parade around as someone or something else. The funny thing is, most of us do this all the time. We project an image of ourself out to the world. We feel we must – the world expects us to “be” a certain way.

But what if we all worked to be our authentic self all the time? Why do we put on masks? Because being authentic gets messy! You have to be vulnerable to be authentic. To be vulnerable is to be able to show the best part of you – your talents and strengths – along with the weakest part of you – your fears and insecurities. Not everyone likes to see the latter. It takes courage to be vulnerable.

We all have our moments of fear, worry and insecurity. They usually crop up when we are pushing ourselves into unfamiliar territory. We are pushing out of our comfort zone and into something new. These adventures allow us to learn and grow as individuals. We become stronger from these experiences. But the learning and the strength does not always come because we had a great, new adventure. The learning and strength come from facing, voicing and being able to “push” through our fear and our insecurity. The learning and strength come from “doing it anyway”.

So what about you. Do you have the courage to show your innermost self? Who do you trust enough to be “real” with?

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Shifting Our View

After giving my talk on Wednesday and posting the recording, I heard from an old college friend that I have not seen in years. She expressed her appreciation for my willingness to share the process for handling conflict. She admitted to me that her inability to handle conflict was affecting her relationships. She is working with someone on releasing fear around this.

Just hearing the word conflict brings up negative emotions. But working through differences always yields something more beautiful in the end. Most of the time, the conflict arises because of how we perceive a situation. Our perceptions are formed from our past experiences. We have all had different experiences, so we are going to have different perspectives. We all have our own unique worldview.

Discussing a situation and understanding the different perceptions that are involved bring enlightenment and learning. We should have the attitude of “help me understand”. The discussion will also bring to light the other person’s intentions, which are usually pure and in our own best interest.

My friend, Cindy Wilson, specializes in helping people shift their view. She is a wonderful teacher, a talented photographer and a very wise woman. Check out her photography:

Cindy’s Expanding Visions Portal

Maybe we all need to shift our view. Uncover our blind spots. See the world differently.

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Handling Conflict with Grace

How to deal with conflict without breaking the relationship.

Do you have trouble dealing with conflict?
Do you try to avoid it?
Or do you hold the frustration you feel inside of yourself for so long that you explode, kind of like a tea kettle letting off steam after coming to a boil?

I invite you to download Handling Conflict by Bonnie Kiefer  – my free GIFT to you on Handling Conflict.

Avoiding conflict can hurt you. You suppress how you feel and you suppress a piece of you are. Even worse, when you avoid conflict, it usually comes back in another form.

And what about the exploding tea kettle? You feel better once you have released the pressure inside of you, but the person who got the brunt of that explosion may be injured. They get burned.

You can download my 3 step process on how to deal with conflict in a way that allows trust and the relationship to continue. An assertive personality type is not required for this. You just need to have a heartfelt desire to remain true to yourself and to respect the person you are in conflict with. Go to the “Services” page for the free download.

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A Crazy Day

 Today has been a crazy, weird day. I heard a story about a woman who had a son in his mid-20’s that was run over by a tractor trailer in mid-town Manhattan.

Then I heard about a colleague that was diagnosed with cancer while at a week-long business meeting. She had gone home the evening before to see her doctor. Her son is also battling cancer.

Makes you think, doesn’t it. News like this puts your problems in perspective very quickly.

Life as we know it can change in an instant. Instead of fearing the unknown, we need to be grateful for what we have right now. Take advantage of opportunities as they appear. Take a risk. Be daring. Try something new. Live in the moment, because a moment may be all you have.

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Being Everything to Everyone

I am probably dating myself, but does anyone remember the Enjoli commercial from way back when? This beautiful, thin, professionally dressed women sang “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, . . . and never let him forget he’s a man. . . “. The message was that you could it all in the workplace, at home and still be the woman your husband desires.

I grew up in the 60’s – 70’s timeframe during the women’s movement. I LOVED that commercial and my goal was to be that woman. Does this sound familiar to anyone? To pile on top of the Enjoli commercial was the commercial for Tab, the soft drink. This one had a beautiful, thin blond woman pushing a stroller, wearing short shorts, perfect makeup, perfect hair and the biggest “I own the world smile”. I wanted to be her too.

I have wasted countless years (not hours) trying to live up to that perfection. While I want to be good at everything I do, now that I am older and wiser those ideas have faded. Years of experience trying to do it all, allow me to have a different perspective. I do believe that you can have it all but you cannot have it all at the same time. There are times when the job is demanding, there are times when the family needs you, there are times when your children need you to help them build a strong foundation they can stand on to get through life.

You can have it all, but you have to decide what “all” means to you. It all comes down to setting your priorities and understanding what you value most. If you understand what is most important to you and you prioritize your time and energy around those things, you will feel balanced. You will feel that for your life, you can have it all, because you will take care of those people or those things (like friendship) that matter the most.

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The Butterfly Effect

A butterfly flapping its wings in South America can affect the weather in Texas. A tiny influence on one part of a system can have a huge affect on the whole system.

This is why one person can make a difference in this world. This is why it is important to act when an action needs to be taken. This is why it is important to find your voice and speak the truth. What you do matters!

Have you ever seen the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life“? George Bailey decides that he has brought ruin on everyone he knows and cares about. He decides to kill himself when an angel shows him what life would have like without him. He realizes he has made a difference – he did a lot of good.

We go through life without understanding the impact we have on others. We never know when a smile, a kind word, a compliment or words of praise can make a difference in how someone views themself. We never know when we may make a difference.

My dad says that three of kinds of people:

  1. People that care only about themselves.
  2. People who care about themselves and their families (this is the majority of people) and,
  3. People who care about the world and their communities.

He goes on to say that the people who care about the world and their communities are the difference makers, the world changers. They are the butterflies flapping their wings in South America and creating weather in Texas.

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Be the Example . . . or Not!

We’ve all heard the phrase “lead by example”. But do our actions always match our words?

Let’s say you tell your employees that you believe work/life balance is important. To emphasize this, you tell them not to check email or voicemail on the weekends, so they’ll have more time to spend with their families. Yet, you frequently send out emails and voicemails on Saturday or Sunday.

If you send email and voicemail on weekends, your employees will probably feel compelled to check their email and voicemail on the weekend. Your actions do not match your words.

Here’s another example. You tell your employees you believe quality time with their families is important; it should be a priority. But then you schedule a meeting, which begins so early on Monday that your employees will have no choice but to drive to the meeting location and stay in a hotel on Sunday night, to make it to the meeting on time.

Is this likely to send the message that you truly believe in the importance of quality time with the family, and respect the need for work/life balance? Of course not.

When you’re leading, your actions should match your words. When your actions match your words, you build trust. The consistency between your words and actions creates confidence that you can be counted on to say what you mean and mean what you say. This foundation of consistent behavior and trust will help you build a team that walks through fire for you.

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