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Monthly Archives: October 2009

Five Ways to Power-Up and Get What You Want

Here’s a quick rundown on five tactics for gaining more strength and power in your life and work, beginning today:


1)       Do the inner work you have to do – I’ve had more than a few folks tell me lately that they really don’t want to do the deep re-evaluation and exploration work necessary to create more success and fulfillment.  In essence, they want it done for them or given to them.  My view – that just ain’t gonna happen (and why would you want it to)?    


Tip: Do the inner and outer work necessary to 1) figure out what you really want, 2) figure out the best way to get it, 3) figure out what you need to shift and change to get it, and 4) determine what you’ll give up to have it.  Then go get it.


2)       Learn from others – In many of my seminars and talks to women, there are always one or two individuals who come up to me afterwards and share with me that they didn’t want to hear the views or experiences of others – they just wanted to focus on their own issues/problems.  But being teachable and understanding that we’re all alike in vital ways and can learn from others, is an essential ingredient to power and success.  Let connection feed you, not drain you.


Tip: Let go of your inner narcissist.  Stop focusing exclusively on yourself.  Start connecting – listening to and learning from others.  There’s a wealth of wisdom, knowledge and perspective out there for you to benefit from.


3)       Stop thinking “making great money means soul-sucking misery” If I hear one more time, “Yeah, Kathy, this career fulfillment stuff is nice, but I’ve got to pay the mortgage,” I’m going to spit.  Of course we have to pay our bills and stay afloat, but when are folks going to realize that paying your bills DOESNT inherently, inevitably mean sacrificing your soul to do it, and being miserable.  We think it does because we’ve mistakenly told ourselves that lie our entire lives – that making great money = soul-crushing work.  Making the money you truly need doesn’t mean you have to get sick, depressed, lose yourself, hate yourself, and sacrifice everything that means anything to you, just so you can pay your mortgage. 


Tip: Figure out the new path you desperately long to take, and begin step-by-step to create it, with money-making and meeting your needs as a key goal.  No more excuses.


4)       When you don’t know what you want to do, first focus on “essence,” then on “form” – When you’re really stuck as to what you want to do next, focus on figuring out the “essence” of what you want first in your life and work, and worry about the right “form” of it only as a second step.  An example: let’s say you adore singing and always have, and you hate your corporate job.  You might be thinking, “All I want to do is quit this job, and start singing for a living. I think I’d love that!”  To that, I’d say, “Wait a minute!”  Making a living as a singer (for instance) can be excruciatingly difficult.  Most performers say, “Do this only if you can’t NOT do it!”  So before you jump into what new job/career that you’ve been fantasizing about, figure out if it’s something you truly can’t live without doing and if you’re suited to a life of it. 


What are the inner qualities, traits (the essence) of the thing you long for – what do you think this thing will give your life that you don’t have now?  Ask yourself, “What does singing give to me?”  Your answers might be that singing brings you: entertainment, the joy of creating something beautiful, the reward of making music with others, creativity, harmony, fun, stimulation, physical exertion that’s also relaxing, surrounding yourself with beautiful sounds, etc.  


After you know specifically what singing (or the thing you’re fantasizing about) gives you, then see if you can bring forward any parts of that “essence” into your current life/career.  If not, then start evaluating and researching what that might mean for you in terms of changing your job/career to embrace more of the essence of what you long for.


Tip: Explore what lights you up, what gives you passion, and why.  They determine if there are any ways you can bring those endeavors forward in your life today, without a wholesale reinvention, if possible.


5)       Get Tough – Power Up Your Boundaries – To get what you want in life, you have to be strong and confident.  You have to protect yourself from all those who would suck your energy dry, use you, take advantage of you, make you feel guilty for not doing more than you should for others, and diminish you.  You can’t have a powerful life if you’re giving over all your power to others (including your children, spouse, boss, employer, friends, relatives, etc.).


Tip: Think about where you feel exhausted, angry, depressed, resentful, and start there.  To whom do you need to say “no” and why aren’t you saying it?  It’s time to say more “No!” to others, and more “Yes!” to yourself, and time to speak up.  Just do it.


Question for the day: In what ways do you struggle in terms of feeling powerful and confident?  And what have you done to successfully build your confidence in areas where it’s shaky?


Thanks for sharing, and many happy breakthroughs,



Is Your To-Do List Making Your Head Explode?

In honor of Twitter’s #Friday Follow tradition, I decided to “Friday Follow” myself all around the office and the house today, to observe what the heck I do all day as an entrepreneur, career coach, writer, and mom, and to see where the time goes.


So here’s what my TO DO list today looked like:


1)      Be a caring mom – Get kids up, ready, fed and off to school. DONE!


2)      Clean – the dishes and straighten house. DONE!


3)      Think Ahead and Prepare – Make sure there’s something for dinner.  DONE!


4)      Read – everything I can get my hands on, about working women, work-life balance, and careers.  DONE!


5)      Keep up-to-date – Check my Google alerts on women, careers, women’s event, and women’s books. DONE!


6)      Blog – Write a post for three of my blogs.  DONE!


7)      Write – Prepare an article for submission on women’s work-life balance. DONE!


8)      Promote – Reach out to interested folks about my upcoming audio and video series. DONE!


9)      Connect – Have lunch with my husband and have meaningful conversation (and fun). DONE!


10)  Produce – Take one step towards finishing an author clip for my site.  DONE!


11)  Be a caring child – Call my parents to check in. DONE!


12)  Biz Develop – Connect with two neat West Coast coaches and consultants to talk about collaborating.  DONE!


13) Confirm – planning details of my seminar with executive women Monday. DONE!


14)  Edit – Work on editing an audio clip of a recent teleseminar to meet my deadline.  NOT QUITE DONE!


15)  Exercise – NOT DONE AT ALL! 


16)  Email – Answer my skillions of emails and delete the spam and mindless crap and promotions. DONE!


17)  Mentor – Help out colleague who’s a bit down today, and offer support. DONE!


18)  Coach – Conduct my career coaching sessions with clients. DONE!


19)  Be a caring parent – Be home/available for my son’s return from school, talk and share, and give a snack – DONE!


20)  Administrate – Pay bills (my favorite task – not!). DONE!


21)  Be Social – Friday Follow and RT on Twitter, and add new stuff to FB and LinkedIn. DONE!


22)  Watch – as my head exploded, then vent about it to my husband (just kidding! – not really)


23)  Transport and Shuttle – Pick up my daughter from sports at school. DONE!


24)  Cook – Make dinner for family, and “hang” – DONE!


25)  Clean – up the mess – DONE!


26)  Post again – Write this piece. DONE!


27)  Collapse – into a heap. DONE!


28)  Rest – and enjoy an online episode of “GLEE.” NOT DONE, BUT WILL BE TONIGHT – gleefully! (After I un-heap myself).


OK!  That was my day, from 7:00 am to 6:25pm.  Not so bad for 11.5 hours.  So why do I still feel like I didn’t come close to completing what I wanted to??


Ah, the joys of perfectionism and overfunctioning!


What was your TO-DO List and how well did you accomplish it?


Happy Friday, my friends!

Why You Can’t Find Balance – and Why You Won’t, Until You Take These Steps

Lately, I’ve been asked to coach and speak with hundreds of working women around the issue of work-life balance and time management. 


Women are more stressed, strained and sick than ever, as these economic times have hit families, workplaces and corporate America so very hard.  If women’s plates were full before, now they’re piled sky-high, and teeter-tottering on the edge of the table, ready to crash onto the floor, breaking into a million pieces.


I have strong viewpoints (founded by years of direct high-level corporate experience, coaching work with thousands, and national research with women) about work-life balance and why women can’t have it as their lives are today, unless they claim it.


My views aren’t easy to hear or take in, but are important for women nonetheless, so here they are:


You won’t ever have work-life balance or come even close to it, unless you power yourself up to get it.  Here’s what’s necessary:


1)       You’ve got to fight for it.

 Corporate America was built on the foundations of a “white male competitive career model” that simply doesn’t fit women.  Jack Welch’s recent comments about women and balance are old-fashioned, outmoded, and out of touch – they don’t reflect the future, and what’s going to be the new frontier for the American workplace.  In the not so distant future, there will be a new model (hopefully in our lifetimes) – one that makes room for women and for what they uniquely need and want.  But we’ve got to fight for it.


If you’re in corporate America at a mid to high level, for instance, and are being asked to do the impossible (do the work of three people, work until 3am, produce reports and analyses that are an utter waste of time but take hundreds of collective hours each month to prepare, come in for 8am meetings that are meaningless, and unproductive, etc.), then you MUST speak up.  You must fight for what’s right and sensible and good business practice.  If your team is breaking down and so are you, then you simply can’t continue this way.  You must speak up and fight.


If you can’t speak up on your own (because you’ll be crushed down by the machine), then find another way to make your voice heard.  Build a collective forum of women who can speak together, or find empowered female and male mentors and leaders who can speak for you.  Or go outside the company to networking meetings and events (and by the way, continually interview at other companies to keep your options and your mind open), and learn from others how they are making a positive difference, and making it work.


(FYI, for those men and women who wish to be advocates for other women in their workplaces, here is a list of initiatives that employers must take to support women in the workforce today).


Things won’t change unless you fight for them to.  Fight for what’s right and necessary for your health, sanity, and for good business practice, or you’ll end up feeling so exhausted, beaten down, and demoralized that you’ll drop out of the game.  That’s fine, if you’re doing it consciously, with awareness and choice


Which path do you want to take?  Which path do you consciously choose?  I know you believe you don’t have any options right now, but you always have options and choices.  Figure out what they are.


2)       You’ve got to ask for help at home, and deal with the consequences


You simply can’t feel healthy and balanced when you’re working like a dog at your job, and then come home and work like a dog there too.  It’s not possible.


You must ask your spouse, children and others for support, to do their share, to step up to their responsibilities as fully-functioning members of the household.  And/or you need to hire help where it’s essential and where you can.  Your husband may complain and say he can’t do any more.  If that’s what he says, it’s critical to sit down together and analyze at the distribution of labor, and make it fairer.  It’s up to you to do this.  He won’t volunteer for this.


If you’re an overfunctioner (doing more than what’s necessary, healthy or appropriate – and the vast majority of women are), then your family and friends are used to you overfunctioning, and they (subconsciously) don’t want you to stop.  


You have to shift yourself first – internally – and commit to stop doing too much, and decide what you’ll scale back on, then do it.  Next, you’ll have to deal with your family’s initial anger and anxiety that suddenly, you’re not doing everything.  It destabilizes the family dynamic at first, when you shift into doing only what’s appropriate — not more — and it’s not easy.  But you’ll find a new stability, and they’ll get over it, and so will you. 


You’ll feel better, stronger, happier, less angry, and more like yourself again when you stop doing EVERYTHING.  But you must strengthen your boundaries so that you can handle the fear, insecurity, guilt and shame you’ll feel initially at not being everything to everyone.


3)       Stop being angry and start being accountable.


Finally, it’s time to stop feeling angry, disrespected, depressed, resentful, overburdened, victimized, and powerless.  If you experience these emotions regularly, your life is asking you to grow, strengthen, and be accountable for how you are living and what you’re creating.  No more excuses.


I know how hard this is to accomplish.  Just this morning, I blew it again, and got really angry for doing more than I should have for my children – I should have asked my husband to step in and help, but I didn’t ask.  That’s a common trait in me that I must be ever vigilant to detect, weed out, and revise.  I tend to get angry and yell when I’m overwhelmed and exhausted, but after I calm down, I see clearly how I simply offered (out of feeling like I HAD to) to do too much that day, and then blamed everyone else for it.  This type of behavior is very deeply rooted and dies hard, let me tell you.


So, my friends, today’s the day.  Let’s all figure out:


1)       What specifically and concretely you are angry and exhausted about

2)       What are you taking on that’s too much – more than is healthy, appropriate and necessary

3)       Why are you doing it?  What are your deepest fears around not doing everything, and being everything? What consequences are you deeply afraid of, if you say “no”?

4)       To whom do you need to speak up?  What must you let go of?

5)       If you’re in a job that chronically works you to the bone, and no one listens to your pleas and demands for moderation, I’d suggest this:

  • Figure out what you really want for your professional and family life
  • Look at the real options at hand – get yourself out of your box and look at what’s truly possible
  • Make a plan to get what you want
  • Power Up and Stand Up for yourself – strengthen yourself, your voice and your boundaries
  • Find an empowered outside helper/mentor/coach to help you create the life you really want


Today’s action step – Don’t waste another minute blaming someone else.  It’s your life – claim it.  What one person, action, or limiting, negative belief can you say NO to, today?

The Differences Between a Man and Woman’s Perspective on Happiness

“9 out of 10 women studied are experiencing at least one of the 12 crises working women face today, and over half don’t know what to do about it. On average, working women are experiencing three crises at the same time.”


These 12 emotionally-devastating crises stand in the way of happiness, are not the same for women as for men. If “happiness” is an experience of living well, liking yourself and what you’re doing, feeling excitement, joy and fulfillment during many of the days of your life, and feeling “in the flow,” the truth is this: the 12 hidden crises are preventing women from achieving happiness, and it won’t get better unless women take strong and focused action.


 As one who works with women all day every day, and as a woman, mother, and high-level professional myself, I have very solid views on what women think and experience in terms of happiness.


Women’s definition of happiness and their challenges in achieving happiness, are very different from men’s.


Here are some key differences between men and women’s experience of happiness:

1) Work-Life Balance – The Number One Crisis for Women, not for Men


Women need to experience a sense of balance between their professional and personal identities to feel happy. Because so many women work both inside the home and outside of it, these two colliding roles (and yes, they crash together powerfully in women more so then men) – and doing them well with a feeling of empowerment — are vitally important to women’s sense of success and happiness.


In Marcus Buckingham’s stimulating column on the Huffington Post about Women’s Happiness, he talks about women believing that there’s no such thing as balance anymore. He writes that, according to the women he interviewed, “They didn’t talk about balance much at all. They seemed to realize that not only was a perfect equilibrium nigh on impossible to achieve, but also that even if they did manage to achieve it, it wouldn’t necessarily fulfill them anyway–when you are balanced, you are stationary, holding your breath, trying not to let any sudden twitch or jerk pull you too far one way or the other. You are at a standstill. Balance is the wrong life goal.


I, and the women I speak with, see it very differently. Women are struggling and deeply longing for balance, in ways men can’t relate to. Why? Because women are still shouldering the majority of domestic responsibility, including child and elder care, while holding down jobs. They are handling much more of the work inside the home, and they are connected viscerally and emotionally to their success (and perfectionism) as caregiver in different ways than men are.


Women feel more angst and guilt about what they are doing or not doing. Women are chronic “overfunctioners” – and men are not. They beat themselves up for what they are not doing well enough, and for focusing on themselves and their careers rather than their family life. Why is this? I believe it’s about cultural training, expectations, role modeling, and a bit about hardwiring when it comes to women’s emotions, brain functioning, values, needs, and instincts around caring for their children.


Balance for women doesn’t mean inertia – it means knowing what you love, doing it, and not eating yourself alive with guilt about what you are aren’t accomplishing when you’re focus on one thing (work), not the other (family) and vice versa.


Lack of balance is the most severe crisis of the 12 hidden crises women are facing. The balance women striving for is not “a pie in the sky” dream – it’s an essential component of a happy life – a sense of empowered equilibrium in which women are standing strong and stable on equal footing, giving priority to what they care about and love, without falling apart in the process. If women have given up on that, then they’ll fail at being happy.


2) “White Male Competitive Career” Model Is Breaking Women


Further, at the risk of alienating some of my male readers, as a women’s advocate I must state this well-researched phenomenon – women’s inability to achieve balance is made more challenging by the existing “white male competitive career model” in place today in corporate America.


Basically, the model has been constructed with underlying assumptions that successful professionals must adhere to the following rules: 1) follow a linear career path (no off-ramping and on-ramping), 2) focus on “full time” and “face time”, 3) commit most intensively to their career development in their 30s and 40s (when many women are having babies), and 4) feel motivated best and most by power and money.


These are generalizations, yes, but overall, there is strong evidence that the male competitive career model in American today is a complete misfit and damaging for women, and it needs to be shifted to embrace and honor women’s needs and values (click here for suggested employer initiatives that will address this ill-fitted model for women).


What can women do to address these crises, and experience more happiness?


This is not a quick fix – it’s a breakthrough process that takes time, energy, and commitment, but it works. When women take the following actions, they experience more happiness and fulfillment in their lives and work:


1) Grow stronger in identifying what really matters to you, uniquely and specifically


2) Tune out what others tell you (men and women) about how to live your life – be your own expert on your happiness. Trust yourself.


3) Honor your values and needs from an empowered stance at work and at home – step up and take charge of yourself. Stop making excuses.


4) Evaluate your family situation realistically. Ask for (demand, if necessary) a more fair distribution of the domestic responsibility.


5) Stop overfunctioning and let go of perfectionism – focus hard on want you care about deeply, and let go of perfectionism in what you don’t care as much about.


6) Speak up and take action to bring about shifts at home and at your place of work and in the existing career model, so that they embrace and honor your needs and values


7) Identify what your “ideal” life looks and feels like. Get empowered outside help to create a success action plan, with concrete goals and outcomes, to achieve your life visions.


Say Yes! to your happiness. You can do it!


There are 11 more crises women face today that men do not experience in the same way as women. Crises for women are characterized by “I can’t do this” thinking – a negative mantra that keeps them sad, sick and stuck. While men experience some of these same crises, women internalize and process them differently, and each of these crises prevents women’s happiness.


Here is a sampling of the 12 hidden crises of women today:


– Suffering from chronic health problems

Failing health—a chronic illness or ailment—that won’t respond to treatment

The mantra: “I can’t resolve my health problems.”


– Losing your “voice”

Contending with a crippling inability to speak up—unable to be an advocate for yourself or others, for fear of criticism, rejection, or punishment

The mantra: “I can’t speak up without being punished.”


– Facing abuse or mistreatment

Being treated badly, even intolerably, at work—and choosing to stay

The mantra: “I can’t stop this cycle of mistreatment.”


– Feeling trapped by financial fears

Remaining in a negative situation solely because of money

The mantra: “I can’t get out of this financial trap.”


– Wasting your real talents

Realizing your work no longer fits and desperately wanting to use your natural talents and abilities

The mantra: “I can’t use my real talents.”


– Doing work you hate

Longing to reconnect with the “real you”—and do work you love

The mantra: “I can’t do work that I love.”


Be Your Own Happiness Expert – Take My Breakthrough Challenge!


Please take my challenge this month – Ask yourself, then 10 women and 10 men you know the following questions:

1) How do you define “happiness?”

2) Are you experiencing happiness, by and large?

3) If not, what gets in the way?

4) If you are experiencing happiness on a regular basis, how do you achieve it?


Compare the answers between men and women, and let me know what you learn.


Key questions for the week – What do YOU think are the differences between men’s and women’s views and experiences of happiness? How are men and women different in achieving happiness as they define it, and what does that difference mean to you? Finally, how can women achieve more happiness in their lives?


Please share your views!! A diverse, open, and supportive dialogue is the first step to breakthrough.

Blog Action Day – What Can One Individual Do To Address Climate Change? Take Action!

As with any major shift occurring in the world, one person can’t turn it around all by him/herself. But each of us can have a direct and significant impact, and that impact reverberates and spreads. Blog Action Day ’09 asks us to take responsibility today, speak up, and spark a global discussion on climate change. Join the discussion – add your voice!


Clearly, we are accountable for how we live our lives, for what we model for others and our children. We are responsible for the core messages we send to our family, our community, and the world about what we value, support, and wish to protect and nurture.


How each of us addresses this climate crisis is very similar to the ways in which we handle our own personal crises.


What’s the best way to deal with any crisis?


1. Get out of denial – Admit we have a serious crisis on our hands, and take concrete action to address it.


2. Get accountable – Take responsibility for your own actions and do what you can.


3. Treasure the good – Know what makes life worth living, and value and protect it.


4. Plan for the future – Understand yourself, your goals, and the far-reaching implications of your actions. Think about the future and what you want to build and leave behind, not just of the present.


5. Commit to being the change you want to see – Step up, and realize that even one new promise or decisive action can create a shift and make all the difference.


In my family of four (with two school-aged children), we focus on doing what we can to contribute to slowing climate change. We use less energy, and cut down on waste. We turn off lights, appliances, and computers that aren’t in use. We’ve reduced our driving, and commit to carpooling wherever possible. We recycle, use energy efficient appliances, support locally grown food, keep the temperature in our house a few degrees lower, properly insulate our home and heater, and take shorter showers and fewer baths.


Another way we contribute to facilitating positive change is by supporting political candidates who care deeply about this issue, and who are 100% committed to enacting policies, laws, and endeavors that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most importantly, we discuss the issue openly with our children and explore what new things they and their generation can do to help.


I hope people will continue to find their own ways to create breakthrough in how they address this serious crisis. In dealing with climate change, as in handling our personal crises, failing to understand that we’ve co-created the problem and need to shift our behavior, is simply playing the victim. That type of thinking, as we’ve learned, will never get us where we need and want to go.


For me, participating in this action day has spurred me to step up my commitment (for one, I will stop using plastic bags for grocery shopping, starting today).


What one step can you take today to step up your commitment?


Thank you for sharing your voice and participating.  Wishing our world many powerful breakthroughs.

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