Archive for the ‘workforce’ Category

What to Do When the World is Hurting

June 16, 2016

Earth-crying2

Sometimes it feels as if the world has gone mad! The tragedies of this past week have taken most of us to the brink of tears, if not pushed us over the edge! We are filled with confusion about how such things can happen, and grief for those directly affected by the horrific events. With the constant reminders of the evil that has caused these things, our anger grows and begins to manifest itself in physical and emotional exhaustion and even depression.

Tragic events create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, even for those of us who watch and hear about it on our televisions and other news sources. When we witness others experiencing unspeakable horrors, we feel it as well because we are all connected as human beings. We find ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones.

So how do we keep from being dragged into a negative whirlpool? How do we heal? How can we help to make things better? Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Even if the tragedy hasn’t directly affected you or a loved one, you may need to go through the steps of dealing with loss. The key is to realize that you can certainly feel compassion for others without staying permanently in a state of mourning.

• If you are overwhelmed, limit your media exposure relating to the disastrous event. This is difficult, because we are exposed to constant replaying of tragedies. Some people feel empowered by continually watching the coverage of the aftermath and recovery, but if it upsets you, turn it off. Choosing not to relive it over and over doesn’t mean you don’t feel compassion for the victims.

• Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes such horrible events, but we need to use it as an impetus for doing something positive. Volunteer, donate, express support for victims, or participate in any positive activity that will keep you from feeling helpless and frightened.

• Don’t forget joy. It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing such pain. But joy doesn’t mean that you are skipping around and pretending nothing happened, nor is it always about being carefree. Joy is a part of who we are as human beings; it is a starting point for healing. To find joy is to find that place in your heart which defies hopelessness!

• Become proactive in spreading kindness. Although our first reaction is often to make our point with violence and rage; standing up for what we believe is sometimes more effectively communicated with an attitude of confident kindness. Perpetuating hatred does nothing but spawn more vitriolic talk and actions.

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life mentor. www.lindahenley-smith.com 

 

Don’t Try to Put Pants on a Snake!

April 12, 2016

I was recently facilitating a workshop on building healthy relationships and several people mentioned how frustrated they were that others didn’t always listen to their advice. This seemed to apply to personal and professional relationships. It made me chuckle because of course we all want to be heard and most of us feel as if our wisdom and advice are golden. We just can’t understand why people don’t consider it as valuable as we do. I’ve learned that while I can offer an opinion, based on my experiences; people aren’t always going to think of it as a gift from heaven.

For a long time, in my relationships, I made things more complicated than they needed to be. I would try to push a square peg into a round hole and then allow the frustration to make me nuts. I finally realized that I wanted to feel important and also, I guess it was a control thing. I was always a stubborn and bossy child. I once spent two solid weeks trying to train a pet turtle to roll over at my command.

Fortunately, I began to realize that although it is a virtue to try to help people, there is also a benefit to realizing that when someone ignores your advice, it is often futile to keep trying to change his or her mind. And unless it is a life or death situation, you may have to accept that other people are as capable of making their own decisions as you are!

I have adopted the motto “Never try to put pants on a snake….it frustrates you and annoys the snake!” On the surface, it seems goofy and meaningless, but if you really think about it, it’s very wise. So many times in life, we try to make other people do what we want them to do and then get angry when they don’t live up to our expectations. I’m not suggesting that these people are snakes; I’m just using that phrase to make a point. You might have the answer or the solution or the experience that you just KNOW would benefit someone if only they would come over to your way of thinking, but if that person isn’t receptive to your ideas…well, you know the rest.

In order to live a happy and well balanced life, I think each of us needs to find our own barometer by which we can measure and monitor our frustration level. It’s all about choosing our battles and prioritizing and deciding what’s worth the effort and what’s not. If something’s not working, we should rethink the way we’re doing it because if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep getting what we’ve always gotten!

If we insist on writing the script for everyone else’s life and will not be flexible when things don’t go our way, we will always be in turmoil. There are just some things that will keep frustrating us…like trying to teach a turtle to roll over, trying to make someone else agree with everything we say, or expecting people to always do the right thing, as we see it. Is it really worth it? It’s like trying to put pants on a snake. It’s not really necessary, it never really works out and it just frustrates you and ticks off the snake!

 

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and life coach who sometimes still tries to put pants on snakes.  www.lindahenley-smith.comsnakepants

How to Find Your Porpoise

February 4, 2016

jump porp

Anyone who has ever taught in a classroom has a plethora of funny anecdotes about things that students said, did or wrote. One of mine involves an eighth grade student who chose, as his English class theme subject, the philosophical topic of finding and pursuing one’s purpose in life. The finished product came to me with the title, How I Found My Porpoise.

At first, I thought that his purpose involved a porpoise and he intended to pursue his porpoise purpose. I was rather looking forward to learning about how he came up with that, but then I realized that he had obviously misspelled the word…probably because he had waited until the last minute and no doubt had hastily finished the paper that morning before class.

I had to give him credit for choosing such a complex topic, since most of us spend a lot of our time trying to figure out what we really want to do in life. Trying to find your purpose; why you are here on earth, and what you are meant to do, can be confusing and frustrating. Even though you may have a genetic predisposition for a specific talent, sometimes it isn’t always as easy as just writing a mission statement and carrying it out.

First of all, there is a big difference in having a purpose and living WITH purpose! Don’t get too caught up in the word “purpose.” The best any of us can do is to live life in the kindest, most compassionate, joyful way we can! Although some people claim that they have always known in their hearts what they were meant to do, most of us find meaning in many different life experiences along the way. The way I see it is if you are here on earth, you’re here for a reason and sometimes you may never really identify one particular purpose!

But if you ever get stuck and wonder what you are meant to do, here are some tips:

Use your emotional intelligence. Check your passion! Purpose and passion are related so if you are extremely passionate about something, your emotional intelligence is leading you to move toward fulfilling one of your life’s purposes. If you are meant to do it, you’ll find a way.

Review your patterns. If you look back on your life and think about the things you have always enjoyed and to which you find yourself gravitating, you will get a pretty good idea of the things you hold most important.

Your purpose doesn’t have to be your job. What if your purpose in life is to be kind…to others and to yourself? What if it is to forgive…others and yourself? What if your purpose is to encourage and to be a mentor? Don’t think that because you don’t get paid to do something, it isn’t your calling.

Listen to your gut. You are smart. You know what feels right and what you are meant to do! Don’t wait for other people or circumstances to make decisions for you. You have the power to make the rest of your life the best of your life!

Live life with an exclamation point! The worst feeling of all is to be wishy washy and never be able to lock into any goals. We all want to live with an exclamation point and not a question mark! You can’t feel jubilant about everything all of the time, but your moments of exhilaration, curiosity, and contentment should outnumber your moments of boredom, frustration, or despair. When you are living on purpose, you feel a sense of harmony, satisfaction, comfort, peace and hope. If you are living with a porpoise, you are probably in the ocean. Lucky you!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life-mapping coach. www.lindahenley-smith.com 

Tend to Your Most Important Investment

February 1, 2016

Everybody seems to be concerned about their investments; they watch the stock market activity and with white knuckles, experience the ups and downs like they are on a roller coaster. We are told that if we aren’t going to end up living in a big cardboard box, we need to invest wisely and be prudent about our finances. Good advice….but just as important, is how we invest in ourselves!

When you really think about it, the reason we feel we need money is to take care of the basic needs of ourselves and our families and also to have the ability to do the things that we enjoy. Well, no matter how much financial wealth we accrue, it won’t do us a lot of good if we aren’t around to reap the benefits! And also, we can’t take care of anyone else if we don’t take care of ourselves!

How do you go about investing in yourself? Here is a starter list:

  1. First of all, nurture yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A truly successful person doesn’t adopt the motto: “I am strong. I am invincible. I am pooped!” You can work yourself to the point of dropping and tell yourself and others that you’re doing it for all the right reasons, but when you are nothing but a puddle of goo on the floor, you won’t be very convincing. It is better to set boundaries for yourself, so you don’t push yourself too far. Make sure you get proper rest and get out every now and then and exercise. Take some time to quiet your mind and empty your brain of earthly woes. That isn’t being lazy or irresponsible; it is being wise! Believe me, those who love you will be glad that you are still able to function rather than becoming a zombie. Zombies are not fun. Zombies are scary.
  2. Don’t stress for success! Those two things don’t have to go together! There is way too much information about how to manage stress to include in this article, but one thing you should remember is the origin of the word “stress.” It goes back to the fifteenth century when people used to draw and quarter their enemies. That means they used to literally pull them apart. Yikes! But that is what our modern day stress can do to us; physically and mentally. Invest in yourself by finding ways to avoid, alter or adapt to stressful situations.
  3. Make regular deposits into your laughter account. This is one place that really deserves attention and if you want to be healthy, you need to invest in your sense of humor…big time! The world isn’t always a funny place, but there sure are pockets of humor everywhere you look! The physiological benefits of laughter are countless; there is no better medicine and there are no bad side effects! Surround yourself with things that give you joy; pictures, toys, cartoons, bubbles and anything that will break a negative mood. The world really is a laugh lab if you just start to focus on the funny things that are out there.

There is nothing in this world as important as the investment we make in our physical, emotional and spiritual health. Laugh long and prosper!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life-mapping coach. Check out http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

Rediscover the “Elf” in YoursELF!

January 20, 2016

Sometimes I think people put way too much emphasis on being a grown-up. I know it’s a strange thing to say, but the world seems to be full of lots of cranky, whiny folks who must think that being a grown-up means “groaning” all of the time.

I have to admit that like most other people, I sometimes I get my pants in a bunch…usually over something that I have made into a bigger deal than it really is! When I feel myself morphing into a troll, I try to remember that perhaps I am taking myself too seriously and not properly nurturing the elf in myself. That’s when I know that I need a recess. Remember recess? We all looked forward to it because we could break out of the classroom, put work aside and run outside to be free for a while. Then we would have a snack. It made everything better.

So when did we decide it was no longer appropriate to take a recess sometime during a busy and stressful day? When did we cross over from having the wisdom to appreciate the value of taking a play break to thinking it is necessary to drive ourselves into the ground every day?

The transition takes place when we lose our childlike sense of wonder about life. It happens when we give up living in the present moment in favor of worrying about the future and holding on to grudges from the past. It happens when we put limits on our imagination and our curiosity. And it happens when we stop taking recesses!

I know that very few businesses have playgrounds, although I have visited some who do! But we can all take the initiative to take little mini-breaks when we feel we are about ready to either explode or collapse. We can connect with the little kid we used to be by doing something fun every day…not counting going out to happy hour. I mean we should keep things around us that remind us of who we used to be before we started to carry the pressures of the world on our shoulders; things that can provide us with a little mental recess!

I’ve always loved to color and now it is all the rage! Get yourself a coloring book and see how it reduces your stress. Try keeping bubbles in your car and when you’re stuck in traffic, see how many you can blow before you start moving again. Don’t be afraid to act silly every now and then! Remember that we are really just children in stretched out bodies! In chronological years, our childhood may be over, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to play! Will it fix the world’s horrible global problems? No…but it just might get you through the daily frustrations and stresses in your own little world.

If you really want to get it right, follow a little child around and just observe. Of course, you really should know the child you are following! True, they don’t have the burdens and responsibilities that we have, but if we could recapture just a fraction of the joy they get out of simply being alive, we would probably never have our pants in a bunch again…at least they wouldn’t stay that way for long!

Linda Henley-Smith presents keynotes, workshops and coaching on how to find more joy in life. Check out www.lindahenley-smith.com

Aim for Progress…Not Perfection

December 1, 2015

In facilitating a recent workshop on personal development, I heard many in the group express frustration over not being where they thought they would be at this point in their lives.  They felt as if they hadn’t reached the perfection for which they had been striving and had fallen short of their goals. Wow, I can relate to that one! As the saying goes, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.”

Seeking perfection is a lofty ambition, but chances are, it’s not going to happen…at least in the way we picture it in our minds. Real life takes time and sometimes we get side-tracked or things don’t fall into place quite the way we planned. But consider this: we are human and our imperfections are what make us perfect.

In my own endeavors, this is what I have learned: When I focus on making progress and getting better with every step rather than achieving perfection, I am happier and less frustrated. When you see your goal as a journey rather than an end-point, you get pleasure in every incremental improvement along the way. This doesn’t mean that you don’t always try your best; it simply offers a way to reach your goal in a healthier way. Expecting and demanding perfection of yourself 100% of the time is a prescription for frustration.

Many things in the world contribute to our belief that we must achieve perfection or we will not ever be worthy or able to fulfill our dreams. Take the advertising business, for example….we are bombarded with air-brushed beauties and surgically enhanced bodies in magazines, movies and on our televisions. Every time I see a Victoria’s Secret model, I want to wear a sleeping bag to cover up my imperfections! I think Victoria’s biggest secret is that not many real women with their original body parts look like one of their “angels” in underwear! Whether it is appearance, athleticism, financial success or anything else we hold as a goal, we are healthier and more balanced when we realize that if it takes us a while or even if we never reach perfection, the journey is the most important part because that’s where we learn.

We also deal with competition in most areas of life and we tend to focus on the end point rather than the process. When we expect immediate perfection rather than steady progress, we become frustrated.  It helps to remember that our struggles of today will be our strong foundation in the future.  Also, focusing only on perfection can sometimes inhibit creativity.

Most people who achieve perfect scores in any life event, have traveled a long journey to reach that end because there aren’t many shortcuts. When we are working toward something, we need to feel like we are on the road to somewhere and that we’re growing while we’re going. Those growth spurts take place through mistakes, failures and setbacks. They are a part of reaching goals, and perfection really doesn’t need to be the only prize! And actually….not achieving the goal of perfection could mean there is a greater destiny waiting to be discovered!

And finally….remember that imperfections are what separate the true art from the manufactured products!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and coach who is full of imperfections! Her latest book is titled “Slightly Irregular Underwear…Sometimes Imperfections are Perfect!” http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

A Few Words About Forgiveness

November 19, 2015

I often write about forgiveness, so I’ll make this brief. Here is the thing: forgiveness is not for the person who offended, it is for the person who was hurt.

Today, I facilitated a workshop on recovering from betrayal and hurt. One of the main comments I heard was that people equate forgiveness with letting the other person get away with hurting them. This belief is a sure way to stay miserable!

Here is what forgiveness is NOT….

Forgiveness is not an emotion…it is a choice of will. And it is a wise choice for us to make because it frees us from reliving the past over and over again. Refusing to forgive gives power to our pain and eventually, it will weigh us down. We will become victims rather than victors.

Forgiveness is not about saying the words but still acting as if they were not said. When we allow our egos to get in the way, we subtly (or not so subtly)constantly remind everyone of how we were damaged. We are essentially giving  lip service to forgiveness, but we aren’t releasing the toxins of anger that will eventually eat us alive.

Forgiveness is not based on another person’s behavior. No matter what anyone else does, you must own your reaction.

Forgiveness is not allowing yourself to be abused or hurt again. It does not mean we continue being a victim.

Forgiveness is not excusing what someone did….it is refusing to allow their actions to destroy your heart and steal your joy.

Here is what forgiveness IS:

Forgiveness is giving yourself permission to let go of the bitterness while remembering very clearly your rights to healthy boundaries. In one sense, it is impossible to truly forget hurtful acts that have been committed against us. The phrase “Forgive and Forget” is really unrealistic. We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. But although we can’t forget what someone has done to us, we can try to live as if we don’t remember it.

Forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free and finding that the prisoner was you.

Forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness is a clog remover. It allows the healing process to begin.

Holding onto anger and holding out for revenge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die! It has been said that forgiveness of self and forgiveness of others are just two currents in the same river, both hindered and cut off completely by the dam of resentment. Once the dam is lifted, both currents can flow.

 

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach. Check out her website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

Laugh Or Go Insane!

August 27, 2015

The above title is from a quote by Robert Frost; the entire quote is “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” I’ve always been a huge believer in the healing power of humor, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot more about its importance in a world that seems to be full of anger.

You may think that in times of conflict and crisis, there is no place for levity. If that’s what you think, you may want to think again! Laughter is one of the greatest tools we have in battling disappointment, discouragement and fear. Mark Twain said, “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”

Let’s take a look at the nature of laughter…what it really is and how it affects our bodies and minds. Gelotology is actually the science of the effects of laughter on the body. The word comes from the Greek gelos, meaning ….you guessed it….laughter. When you laugh, you are setting off a chain of healthy reactions inside of you. Endorphins are released, oxygen intake increases, blood pressure goes down, and you just feel better!  It’s no wonder, because MRI scans show that when we laugh, multiple areas of our brains light up. Medical science recognizes that laughter is good for the body and the spirit.

There is a fine line between laughter and pain and sometimes it seems that we laugh at seemingly inappropriate times. Laughter is the ultimate coping mechanism. It allows us to break through the tension and look at things with a different perspective. Many of the most famous comedy teams came together during the WWII and the Great Depression. People need a break from stress and crisis, and laughter provides that much needed respite. When the tension mounts, there has to be a release valve or we’ll blow up! You’ve probably heard the expression, “I laughed until I cried.” Or perhaps you’ve heard it the other way around. The emotional cycle can be like a snake eating its own tail. You laugh until you cry and you cry until you laugh…they are both essential for emotional survival and stability.

Laughter can be a valuable tool in recovering from an emotional shock or trauma. We sometimes have difficulty breaking out of the cycle of negativity and we become emotionally paralyzed. If we keep some humor in our lives, it can help us facilitate our healing and regain the joy of living.

It may seem irreverent and disrespectful to think about laughing when the world is in such a state of chaos. But just the opposite is true! Negativity breeds negativity and positivity is contagious. We can’t help a bad situation by dwelling on its hopelessness, but we can do a lot of good for ourselves and other people, if we refuse to honor the bad stuff! We can switch mental channels and look for ways to turn negatives into positives.

But how do we find joy in times of intense stress? Don’t let finding ways to add levity to your life stress you out even more! Just try to take yourself less seriously. Go back to your childhood and find the elf in yoursELF. Buy yourself a coloring book and crayons, blow some bubbles, get some Play-dough, decorate your work environment with things that remind you of happy times and make you laugh. Rent a comedy movie. I have a fun file in which I keep cartoons, funny pictures and other things that can break my negative mood. It really doesn’t take much, if you really want to do it! Don’t be afraid of appearing childish and frivolous; clearing your mind of negative thoughts allows more room in there for possibilities! Oh…and if you really can’t find anything about which you can laugh, contact me and I’ll send you a picture of myself in a swimsuit. That will do it!

Laughter doesn’t make everything better for us, but it sure makes us better for everything. It has been said that laughter is the sound of the soul dancing. Don’t let the woes of the world keep your soul off of the dance floor!

DON’T PUT US OUT TO PASTURE YET…WHAT MILLENNIALS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OLDER WORKERS

July 27, 2015

I recently wrote about what Gen Xers and Boomers need to know about Millennials in the workplace. In that article, I promised to present the other side and here it is! There is a huge age span out there in the workforce now and sometimes there is a difference in communication and work styles. Part of the problem may be that the Millennials look at Boomers and see their parents and the Boomers see their kids in the Millennials.

It is projected that in a very short time, Millennials or Gen Yers will be the largest age group in the workforce. But now, they are sharing it with Gen Xers, Boomers and even some Traditionals. People are continuing in their careers longer than past generations and the new crop of workers, those born between the mid nineties and 2000, will soon be in there with us!

We all are coming from different experiences and backgrounds, and I know that some older people can be too quick to judge the younger ones, so here are some tips for Millennials who are sharing office space with Boomers:

  • As a Millennial, keep in mind that those in older generations still have a lot to offer. They may have a few years on you, but they also are rich in experience and can be valuable resources. Boomers and Gen Xers don’t want to feel as if you are just waiting for them to leave. Ask them about their experiences, they probably have some good advice and some pretty good stories!
  • Remember that Traditionals, Baby Boomers and even some Gen Xers were once the youngest people in the workforce. We didn’t always understand the “old folks” who were set in their ways and probably wondered why they didn’t move on and let us run the show. Now we know how those “old folks” felt! Try to understand how we feel. Today’s Boomers are not our parents….we aren’t content to sit on the porch and rock. And remember that there will be a new generation coming in after you and one day you will be where we are. There are already Gen Zers out there on your heels!
  • Don’t get frustrated with those of us who weren’t born into technology. Remember that most of us grew up using dictionaries and looking things up in encyclopedias. We used pay phones that we had to dial and our first cell phones were giant bricks which could double as weapons. Sure, we may take a little longer to catch on to the constantly changing gadgets, but we eventually get there. Most of us have even thrown out our boom boxes! If you don’t know what a boom box is, you are younger than most of my shoes.
  • Just as the older generations shouldn’t assume anything or be judgmental about the younger ones, neither should the Millennials lump all of the older people together. We don’t all raise our eyebrows at your piercings and tattoos. Actually, I have a tat…but it is a lot lower than it used to be! What started out as a little hummingbird is now a flamingo.
  • The older generation comes from a culture of face-to-face communication. Some still hold on to that habit and are more likely to want to talk to someone in person, rather than via text. That doesn’t mean that they don’t understand electronic conversations, it’s just more comfortable for some of them to look at a person’s face when they are talking to them.
  • For your consideration: Most of the Boomer generation was brought up in a work culture in which a person stayed with a company and worked their way up. There was no such thing as tele-commuting or flexible hours. Required office attire involved suits for the men and dresses and hose for the women. This is a whole new ballgame for some people and it may take them a while to get used to a more casual workplace.

The truth is that no one, no matter their age, wants to be labeled or pigeon-holed as behaving or believing a certain way. I even question naming each group; Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, etc. The generational mix can be exciting and productive. The world is changing rapidly and the next group of young workers entering the workplace in a few years will be the first totally global generation. We all bring something to the table and all of us should treat each other with R.E.S.P.E.C.T. That’s what Aretha told us to do. And she is a Baby Boomer.

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, coach and speaker who presents keynotes and workshops on Managing the Generational Mix and Zapping the Gap! Visit her website at lindahenley-smith.com