The #1 Relationship Problem That Stalls Your Career

January 21st, 2015

 

nance rosen, Productivity Skills, relationships, successAll of us have experienced “relationship” problems. You might have a problem with your girlfriend or boyfriend, life partner, parent, sibling, business partner, best friend, roommate, boss, coworker or even a neighbor. Really, given the number of people in your life, especially when you add your FB fame or any other cyber group you’re in: it’s amazing you have any ability to focus on anything in your career or business.

Focus is the greatest predictor of progress. Relationship problems get in the way of your ability to focus.

The worst relationship problem you have is with yourself.

It seems odd to think of yourself being in a relationship with yourself. But, you are. You reject yourself. Criticize yourself. Feel guilty about abusing your body. Feel out-of-control about your impulsive behavior. And, occasionally you feel good about yourself, even great – often because you’ve kept a resolution or promise you made to yourself.

Did you make resolutions this year? Like:

1. I will go to bed before midnight because experts say it’s good for my liver. FYI, depression experts say that staying up all night is an immediate and wildly effective intervention if you are suffering. Keep in mind, all-nighters are not part of a long term strategy because sleep deprivation is used for torture, as we found out in the last peek into CIA documents. But being depressed might be more important than your liver on any given day. And one night does not approach the torture threshold.

2. I will drop or add 10 pounds so I can look a lot more like Bradley Cooper, or like Bradley Cooper’s girlfriend. BGF: Thank you for posting those selfie bikini photos because apparently Bradley is incapable of giving you enough attention, so why not get more from random strangers? It’s clear your being photographed by the paparazzi when you’re with Bradley really isn’t as fulfilling as being photographed by yourself, by yourself.

3. I will stop smoking, biting my nails, yelling at my kids, drinking Diet Coke, texting while driving, using my finger nails as tools to scrape stuff off my desk, eating gluten, being a glutton or doing anything that in any way reduces my anxiety in ways that work in the moment, but make me feel bad later in the day, week, year or any period of time that I feel anxious. That time period would be called my life.

In other words: you make promises to yourself and break them all the time. Then you feel remorse, guilt, misery, and out-of-control.

Given that you probably don’t give yourself a time-out and sit in the corner, you probably push the self-recrimination under the proverbial rug and keep living your life. In other words: you don’t actually figure out the root of the problem or goal. You declare tomorrow is the day when you will really make progress on this goal.

That promise is a trance you put yourself in. It’s what I call a “stalling trance.” You delay your progress by a) making the promise and breaking it, and then b) making the promise again.

Because you don’t figure out what’s wrong with the promise or how to set up your environment so you will succeed: you are actually giving yourself the “silent treatment.”

Now, most people in relationships with others use the “silent treatment” to punish the offender. If you tell your romantic partner to bring home some milk, be nice to your parents, stop telling jokes in public or never again sing Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head at karaoke: and that demand is denied: what is the number one most common response?

The silent treatment. You simply stop talking to the offender, maybe for a day. More if it’s not the first offense, or whatever you decide as prosecutor, judge, jury and probation officer.

In psychology the silent treatment is called: the Demand/Withdraw dance. Actually, they don’t call it a dance, I do. It’s an awkward dance because you’re with this person, often sharing the same space, and you have to weirdly move around them, not talking. You withdraw from engaging in the relationship, by withholding communication. At least about the gross violation of your direct order.

You do the same thing with yourself. You demand certain behaviors of yourself that are not natural – at least not at first. You demanded that you stop over-eating. Or my favorite: stop procrastinating.

When you fail to follow your demands, a bunch of feelings roll in like a thick pea soup fog. No words. Just a sickening stomach churning, cheek burning embarrassment that you failed yourself. Again.

Disappointment and a sense of powerlessness over not just this failure, but all your past failures leave you speechless at how little self-control you have. Hence, the silent treatment. After all, what could you say?

How about speaking up with the best new resolutions you could have. “I will stop ordering myself around. I will catch myself doing things right. I will make a huge deal about anything that could be considered even the tiniest triumph.”

Or more simply: “I will like myself today.”

Repeat each day until it sticks.

That’s progress.

 

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About Our Fight To Be Free of Fear

January 14th, 2015

shutterstock_241659253-300x199Be relentless. Be resilient. Be able to repair.

Be ready to play hurt. Play tired. Play even with despair.

Everything can change in one moment.

Every thing passes. Every thing that is good and every thing that is bad does not last.

What have we learned from the latest terror campaign acted out on Paris and Nigeria? What have we learned from Boko Haram and other followers of religious or political texts that preach the elimination of anyone who does not follow those “teachings?” What have we learned from Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Russia, the US and every other territory on the planet?

What have we learned that is so valuable that it should inform the way you live and work, and the way you express your personal brand?

We have learned not to be afraid. Being afraid makes you a resident of a permanent state of instability and some would say its neighbor: insanity. Afraid is not a place where you can reside if you believe that your freedom to make decisions for yourself is the best way to live. If you are among my tribe of intentional personal branders, you believe that freedom opens all doors and all possibilities. Of course that includes the best and the worst of times.

Although you may be in a heightened state of grief right now, in fact no place is absolutely safe nor has it been at any time. We have learned there is no safety if you shelter in place. If you try to remain quiet with the door shut.

We have learned if you are armed with a pencil, with the talent of a cartoonist and the intellectual capacity of a pundit, you are not safe. That if you shop in a market, you are not safe. We have even learned that a young girl may come into a town square, probably unknowingly carrying a bomb that kills and injures as many people as possible.

The actions of states or individuals can result in such tragedy. You cannot actually hold all the possibilities in your brain and stay calm. That does not mean you should look away from the truth, or act in spite of, or in any way fail to acknowledge it.

You should just take in what you can, when you can. Then do your best to live the best life you can. Remember to kiss the ones you love good-bye or tell them that you love them before you get off the phone or text. Support strangers in times of grief and in times of celebration, and do not be surprised that those occur quite close to each other.

We are mourning and celebrating. We are in despair and yet our faith in humanity has deepened.

Je vous suis. Nous sommes une.

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A Hot Tip To Advance Quickly in Your Career

January 7th, 2015

shutterstock_192030872-300x200What is it so hard to believe you should be the best you can be, and work for someone else? Why do so few people genuinely want to be employees? Why is it impossible to believe you can be a person with great self-worth who also respects the opportunity to work?

Apparently, most Millennials believe that going to the office looks like The Office, the television show that makes working for someone else look ridiculous. I thought The Office was a really good comedy, with high quality writing and amazing actors. The show used an office setting much like I Love Lucy used marriage. The relationship problems made us laugh, primarily because marriage seemed like a bunch of pranks that husbands and wives played on each other.

In New York magazine, Richard Greenwald, a labor scholar at Brooklyn College, “says he’ s struck by how many of his students chafe at the notion of traditional office jobs.”

How could that be? How could a generation of educated people come to think that working for an organization is ridiculous? How could earning a living cause “chafing?”

As an educator, I wonder what curriculum we are teaching that would make working for Unilever, Zara, Nestle, Coke, Apple, Google, and so on, look ridiculous. Have we somehow run down the reputation of organizations? Have we diminished the idea that you are lucky when you are chosen for an opportunity in a business that someone else has built?

I am most concerned that abject disrespect that has become a meme. I’m also concerned that watching a comedy show would actually convince anyone that it’s depicting real life.

My daughter has a cat. We never mistake him for Grumpy Cat on YouTube. We don’t think that Esther the Wonder Pig is the average pig.

Where is the genesis of the respect problem? As an employer and a career coach, I see exactly what Greenwald is purporting. There are a lot of people who treat working like it’s a joke. Bosses have to prod, push, demand, become vexed and bent out of shape in order for work to get done. They have to have a cruise ship mentality – making sure there are plenty of snacks, fun activities and a morale officer, formerly known as a human resources director. In between all that, some small amount of work needs to be accomplished.

I’m sorry to seem like the Grinch right now. I know you are just kicking off your year. You hopefully have grand plans for your personal brand as well as your career. I want you to have all that – and more.

So here’s a hot tip. If you want to be a real stand out, it’s pretty easy. Bring your respect for the organization, proof that you take work seriously, and have your high jinx on your own time.

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of employers everywhere.

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Personal Branding Pledge 2015

December 31st, 2014

shutterstock_185166815-300x200I agree to be me

I accept the obligations and honor of my authenticity

I agree that this year, perhaps unlike any other

I will not bother to be a shadow, a cipher or a ghost in my life

I will not hobble myself with the expectations of another

Even if I face a force previously controlling or dominating

I wrest my freedom without apology for not capitulating

Not my pride, not my ego, not my fear, not my doubt

Holds any clout, any power, any authority or might

I don’t care if they stare or if I get sideways glances

I am here to be me and that means taking my chances

Chances others don’t even see because unlike me they are not free

And I am because I am, and I am because I am me

I have a truth to tell, not to sell or be sold on

I don’t have to be told to be bold on the battlefield I win on

I will find my way faster than an ordinary human could

Because I am filled with who I am and from now on I will be

Unshackled by faux rules or a mold that doesn’t suit me

The fog has lifted and revealed a silver city and gold-filled sea

This is my place, the massive playground where I enjoy prosperity

This is the year I write the story of the hero who I am.

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Surprise! 90,000 Gifts for You!

December 27th, 2014

109742942Why would anyone want 90,000 gifts for Christmas or whatever your seasonal holiday is? Not even the greediest person would want 90,000 gifts, right? Not even the #1 person on Santa’s list, the nicest person who deserves the best of the season’s bounty wants 90,000 gifts. So where on earth is someone getting 90,000 gifts?

You are. It’s the gift you give yourself every single day.

You think just about 90,000 thoughts on your average day.

That means you have 90,000 times every 24 hours, when you have the opportunity to congratulate yourself, give yourself a pep-talk, and share encouraging words in the inner sanctum of your own mind.

You know the terrible truth?

You hardly ever use those 90,000 opportunities to say such nice things to yourself, about yourself or anyone else.

Most people use their 90,000 chances to speak badly to themselves.

In fact, many experts believe you haven’t had 90,000 positive thoughts in the last decade or more. That’s why you’ve been told to write up a gratitude journal. Take 20 minutes a day to meditate on compassion. Do a little yoga. Get more sleep.

We keep reminding you that negativity is the source of much of your physical and emotional complaints. It’s happening more than you think. It’s happening during most of the 90,000 times you muster up a thought.

That’s 90,000 times to feel stress, worry, self-doubt, anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, irritation, discontent and downright rage. That’s what is filling up most of the space in the grey, wrinkled mass between your ears. And, if negativity is anything like interest in a bank, these tiny increments are compounding exponentially.

Your mind is the single most important place on the planet, but you probably haven’t done much to save it. Your probably treat it much more like a recycling plant than a power plant.

Your mind could be the place of self-love, creativity, generosity, invention, wisdom, optimism, and resilience. It could be generating joy, mastery, success and abundance. It could be filled with directing actions toward highly desirable goals.

So give yourself the gift of good thoughts. Make your season bright.

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Take the 2-Minute Express to Heaven or Hell

December 18th, 2014

Tyga-Heaven-Or-HellInside of two minutes, you can provoke mindfulness, a meditative state, or anxiety. You do it simply focusing your thoughts. Most of us do anxiety, rage, irritation, frustration, disappointment, and fear pretty reliably. Maybe you have the land speed record on those.

The terrible truth is, what you believe is “natural,” is not. How you respond to situations or life itself is simply a manifestation of personal choices. The scientific evidence is pretty overwhelming on this now. How you feel is a choice – your choice.

How big of an “aha!” moment is that for you? When I learned this, I thought: “Wow. How I feel is a choice? How I ignite my neurochemistry in response to my thoughts or a situation is a choice? I’m feeling a little Spock-like right now.”

When I got over the sci-fi shiver of it, my next “aha!” was: what power! If I chose my feelings – even rehearse them much less spend time cleaning out my internal environment, it’s easy to control my behavior. And, my behavior forms other people’s opinions of me and how I am doing. That is the essence of the power of personal branding.

We each control our own reality, or at least our impression of reality. It’s as if you have a virtual reality helmet on all day and the controllers are well, under your control. You select what you see. And, you select how you feel about it. That is, if you make such choices consciously.

Given that individual or collective perception is largely what we call reality, this choice means you are inventing or at least collaborating with the environment all day long. And, that collaboration results in at least one of two thoughts and a whole set of feelings:

  1. Wow! It’s a great day to be me. Feeling happy and relaxed.
  2. Gee. What a terrible day to be me. Feeling angry and anxious.

It’s a bit of shock and maybe even a little embarrassing to consider the implications of the two-minute transformation.

You suffer or you are serene. Your choice.

It’s kind of like being offered coffee or tea. Your choice.

Of course, given the spectrum of human emotions and a lifetime of practicing the neurological pathways that lead to misery or mindfulness (among a host of other states you might regularly be in): this finding might cause you to doubt yourself.

Who would choose to be anxious? Angry? Irritated?

Who would choose to be serene? Laid back? So “om” that the covers are too heavy to lift and hence I can’t get myself out of bed and to work?

Of course, you are probably not the Dalai Lama or another master of spiritual practice. Events occur that “naturally” ignite a raft of negative feeling states included the dreadful anxiety most of us have from time to time.

It’s the meditation and mindfulness exercise that we have to do with intention. The question is will you make the choice? Will you take two minutes at various points in your day – or at any point in your day – to change your reality?

Are you willing to be in control of how you feel, and how you act? The best personal brands do.

As a side note: I wonder if they have Starbucks Italian Roast in Keurig cups in heaven? Maybe that is heaven, because I just bought the machine and had a hellish time trying to find that roast. Oops! Time to focus on my breathing.

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Why You Must Act Like A Jerk

December 9th, 2014

173854947You know all those people you think are jerks for being louder and pushier than you? Here’s a shocker. They get what they want, way more often than you do.

Compared to those who are less straightforward: people, who emphatically say what they want, get what they want more often. Not because other people are intimidated by these so-called jerks. But because other people understand in no uncertain terms exactly what these jerks want.

So, these folks aren’t jerks. They are just really clear about what they want, and certain they need other people to know it. That’s how they get attention and action in their favor.

Say What You Mean = Get What You Want.

What happens when you FAIL to say what you mean, and fail to speak up in terms that are explicit, clear and emphatic? You actually diminish the chance you’ll get what you want. When you are vague, oblique or otherwise understated about your goals? The statistical likelihood of our agreeing to it goes way, way down.

If you pussyfoot around an issue: that’s like giving your audience – a boss, recruiter or colleague – instructions to do more of what you don’t want.

Here are some examples:

If you want recruiters to hire someone else: don’t ask for the job during the interview.

If you want to receive no raise or bonus this year: don’t ask your boss for a specific amount.

If you want to do a massive amount of work alone until way past midnight: don’t ask your co-worker to stay and help you with a specific task.

That’s the key. You must be specific.

You must also speak or write in an authoritative tone.

And you must give unambiguous instructions.

That’s how what you say becomes what you get.

For example, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant report on persuasion guru Robert Cialdini’s experiment on saving a forest.

When signs were posted with warnings that people were stealing petrified wood and irreparably damaging the forest, stealing wood increased dramatically. Then new signs were posted that said: Don’t Steal Petrified Wood. Stealing dropped dramatically.

Whatever your issue – it pays to be a jerk. That is, if you define being a jerk as saying what you want and getting it.

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Have You Graduated…From Childhood?

December 4th, 2014

group-of-business-people-laughingIf there were one question I wish I could ask prospective employees, it would be: Have you graduated from childhood yet? Then, I would hire the people who said yes and could prove they graduated from childhood.

It’s not that I don’t love children. I have one and love her more than life itself.

It’s just that the demands of my workplace involve employees using the kind of grown up thinking and behaviors that only childhood graduates can muster.

By graduating, I mean you have resolved the big issues of the surreal experience that was your childhood. Everyone’s childhood is surreal. Think about it. During the first several years of your life, giants surrounded you while talking in indistinguishable sounds.

Without notice, people picked you up off your back or feet. For no apparent reason, they smiled at you. Or smacked you. All decisions were made for you. You were constantly being coddled, trained, regarded, disciplined or painfully ignored.

Put in a couple of years like that or 18 of them, and you have a lot to get over.

And yet, the workplace that you enter after those years – or the stay of execution that is college and graduate school – only rewards people who have the skills of an adult.

Work demands you make decisions about your loss of freedom. It’s almost always a trade-off between doing exactly what you’d like to do versus doing what needs to be done. Rarely do those things match up perfectly. Adults have to see potential choices, use self-determination, make commitments, manage anger or disappointment, and exhibit a surfeit of self-control.

When you feel lost, under-utilized, left out, over-burdened, angry or clueless about what your boss or colleagues are doing – and what you should be doing given their actions, it’s simply a sign that you haven’t yet graduated from childhood.

Most employers are looking for grown-ups. And most employees haven’t had the guidance to truly graduate from their childhood.

This graduation isn’t the walk across a stage or a piece of paper with fancy writing. You probably have a good bit of reading and writing to do, to sort out who you are and what your purpose is. You probably need to ask and answer some big questions to get you started on self-determination, self-reliance and resilience.

Let me know if you’d like a list to get you started. Email Nance@NanceRosen.com, subject line: Graduate.

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