NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Banner3

Banner3

Tag Archives: leadership

How to Spot a Toxic Individual and Find the Courage To Walk Away Quickly

ToxicRedFlags

One enormous benefit of working with thousands of people each year is that you learn to detect in 10 minutes or less an enormous amount about people – their energy, how they operate in the world, their sense of entitlement, generosity and consideration (or lack thereof), boundaries, degree of self-love, values, worldview and much more.

In my line of work, where hundreds of strangers reach out on the phone or online to connect, I have had to develop the capability to discern who I want to move forward with, and who I need to walk away from quickly, in order to protect myself, my time and my energy. If I fall down on that, I suffer, as do my family, colleagues and clients (and my health and well-being).

I’ve learned to see the red flag warning signs of behaviors I know I need to walk away from, and my list of warning signs might be of help to you too. I need to add that even though I walk away from these toxic individuals without guilt or shame, I endeavor to access love in my heart and deep compassion for them. I’m not cruel, harsh or dismissive (at least I try not to be), but I’m as respectful as I can be. I realize that we’re all doing the best we can every day.

But I do know where I end and they begin, and I know when it’s time to end our connection, and fast.

Below are the top 3 signs that help me know when I’m dealing with a toxic individual, and when to walk away:

1) It’s all about them
I’m astounded by people who call me at all hours of the day and night, without a thought to ask for an invitation to talk about their struggles. They launch right in, not checking in if it’s a good time to talk, and it’s all about them.

These types of people are chronically unhappy, stuck in feeling victimized, lacking in awareness of the impact of their own actions and words and that they are co-creating their problems. They’re often angry, frustrated and highly critical of others, and feel that their problems deserve immediate attention, without regard for the world around them. In other words, they believe that their urgency is your emergency.

Anyone who thinks that life is all about them and that their problems are more important or pressing than anyone else’s needs a wake-up call. But the truth is – you don’t have to be the one to deliver that call. Walk away.

2) They have no regard for your boundaries

In my work as a therapist, I’ve connected with many folks with serious psychological disorders, including severe personality disorders. One such disorder is labeled “borderline personality disorder,” and while I’m not a fan of labels, the hallmarks of this disorder are apparent: there is total lack of personal boundaries, and complete disregard for others’ boundaries. It’s virtually impossible to build a positive, mutually-supportive relationship with people who disregard or violate your boundaries, who won’t take no for an answer, and who don’t t even recognize when they’re walking all over you.

Take a look today at the people in your life – do they respect your boundaries? Do they act appropriately and honor when you assert yourself and say “Yes” or “No?” Or do they continually demand of you what you’re not comfortable to give and what you have said you would not give?

Your boundaries are the invisible barriers that separate you from the world around you. They define who you are, and keep you safe and secure, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Having well-developed boundaries ensures that you are shielded from behaviors and actions that are injurious, disrespectful and invasive. Those with healthy boundaries know their limits and are able to express themselves with quiet strength and authority.

Those with unhealthy boundaries push and pull on you in uncomfortable or aggressive ways, and don’t know when to stop. They can’t regulate their behaviors or language to honor and respect the boundaries of others.

Who is trampling on your boundaries today? (BTW, If you have a narcissistic boss who is treating you terribly, check out my Forbes post on How to Tell If Your Boss Is a Narcissist – And 5 Ways to Avoid Getting Fired By One.)

3) There’s no grace, kindness or appreciation

I’m always pleasantly surprised when I speak to a stranger or potential new client or colleague, and they connect with grace, generosity, kindness and appreciation. It’s a beautiful thing – to be greeted by a gentle voice, a kind, open heart, and sincere appreciation for what you do and who you are.

The flip side of this is when people engage with you in ways that are brusque, inconsiderate, demanding, or disrespectful. Givers – who approach life with a generous, giving mindset – are a true blessing in our lives. Insincere, self-absorbed takers, on the other hand, who are always looking for “what’s in it for me” and critically demand of you more than is fair, appropriate or realistic, need to be led out the door of your life.

How do you walk away from a toxic potential client or partner you’ve just met? Here are a few key tips:

1) Be kind and courteous, but make it clear that an engagement or partnership with this individual or his/her business isn’t a good fit for you at this time

2) Be honest – explain what an ideal partnership looks like and why this isn’t it

3) Be BOLD – Thank them for their time, but explain that you have a set of non-negotiables and standards of integrity that you live by. With love in your heart, share that these non-negotiables are just that – immutable rules that help you thrive. Explain your feeling that your non-negotiables would most likely not be honored in this arrangement, and for that reason, you’d like to leave things as they are and part ways.

Who’s toxic in your life right now? What bold, candid conversation do you need to have today to protect yourself from narcissistic, demanding takers and self-absorbed individuals who can’t or won’t respect or appreciate you?

(To learn more about building a happy, successful career, join my free career breakthrough teleclass on April 9th — Make the Right Career Move Now! And to learn how to develop healthier boundaries, read my book Breakdown Breakthrough and check out my one-on-one coaching services.)

Is Work-Life Balance a Pipe Dream?

Episode 2 of Work You Love

Hello! Welcome to Episode 2 of “Work You Love” – my weekly video blog dedicated to helping you build a successful career you love.

Today’s episode looks at the question of work-life balance, and debunks the myth that seeking balance between your work and your other pursuits is futile.  Understand what gets in the way of balance, and learn concrete strategies for claiming more balance in your life.

Enjoy!

 

 

I hope that’s useful! Please share your candid feedback below – I’d love to hear from you!

If YOU have a burning question pertaining to your career, job or professional life, please share it with me. No question is too big or too small. Ask away, because your query represents that of thousands of other professionals around the world. Your candid exploration and sharing helps others.

CLICK HERE to submit your question, and I’ll do my best to address it in the weeks to come.

Here’s to your breakthrough to amazing career success, happiness and reward.

Kathy

So You Want to Start Something Stupid? Why You Must

richienorton

Richie Norton

In my coaching and training work helping women lead more fulfilling lives, I’m asked every day questions like this: “Kathy, do you think this is too stupid an idea?”  or “This may be really crazy, but I’m thinking of…” or my favorite, “My family says this is nuts and will never work, but I’m thinking of…” Thousands of people are wracked with fear, paralysis, and embarrassment (or even shame) when considering if they should pursue something “stupid” that their heart desires most.

But after 10 years of helping people turn “stupid” into amazing, I trust wholeheartedly in the power of starting your own version of something stupid, and have seen how this process turns a mediocre and unsatisfying life into a thrilling one.

I was intrigued, then, to discover Richie Norton’s new book The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen & Live Without Regret, and couldn’t wait to speak to Richie about his ideas and his journey from “stupid” to stupendous.

As I read the book, I was deeply moved by Richie’s personal story of losing his beautiful and perfect infant boy of only 10 weeks, and having to make the unbearable decision not to resuscitate him as the process would only prolong his suffering and in the end, not save his life.  As is often the case when tragedy rips a gash in our reality, we feel forever changed by the loss.  In Richie’s case, his life took on a very real sense of urgency, and he faced the shocking realization that circumstance is completely outside our realm of control.  Not just certain circumstances, but ALL circumstance.  This realization opened the door for Richie to learn the biggest lesson of his life to date, what he calls “Gavin’s Law” (named after his beloved brother-in-law Gavin, who died at 21, just two years before the death of his baby boy Gavin).

Gavin’s Law is this:

“Live to start. Start to live.”

There is so much to learn in Richie’s book, but I want to share here Richie’s 6 steps to making our dreams happen.  From my perspective, this model covers all the key bases, and if you use this as a roadmap to pursuing your crazy, stupid idea, you’ll be on the right track.

The 6 steps to Making Dreams Happen and Living without Regret:

1.  Crush Fear
It’s not the actual circumstances that we should feel threatened by, it’s the fear of the circumstances that poses the real threat. The bottom line is that people with high aspirations are going to experience a proportionately high level of fear. If high aspirations are equal to high fear, then the flip side to that truth is that overcoming high fear is equal to achieving high aspirations. To crush fear doesn’t mean you eliminate it; crushing fear means you literally crush it down into smaller, more manageable parts and tackle one piece at a time.

2.  End Pride

The line between fear and pride is nearly imperceptible. At the heart of pride, is the fear of looking stupid. Pride convinces people to feel justified in quitting because, for prideful people, approval is sought at all costs—even at the cost of success. Prideful people won’t ask for help, they won’t ask questions, and they don’t want to do anything to challenge the status quo. To overcome pride, you must embrace “The Humble Power Alternative” –  lean into your “stupid” ideas, do more than you think you should do, take ownership of your life, don’t blame others for lack of success, and encourage others in their success. There is true power born of humility.

3.  Overcome Procrastination

When we procrastinate, we fill our lives with the tasks that are right in front of us rather than make the concerted effort to leave enough room in our schedules to pursue dreams. Procrastination doesn’t always come in the form of frivolous activities. Often we’re filling our time with good or even essential tasks, but even so, anytime you postpone doing the things that are most important in your life, you are falling victim to procrastination. “Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried” (the slogan of Procrastinators Anonymous). Procrastination must be overcome or it will rob you of the things that could be most significant in your life.


>>TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON FORBES, CLICK HERE<<

There are so many helpful ideas in Richie’s book, including how to evaluate a “stupid” idea to see if it’s stupid smart, or viewing the starting of something stupid as a “project” rather than a do-or-die endeavor, or my favorite tip: making a pact to surround yourself every day only with people who embody the “serve, thank, ask, receive, trust” philosophy.

But what you’ll find most in this book is a powerful reminder that within you is a kernel, the seed of something enormous that others (or your inner critic) will say is stupid, but when honored and nurtured, will show you why you’re on this planet at this time, and why no one else can contribute and make the difference that you can, if you only start.

Are you deeply longing to start something stupid?  What will it take for you to crush your fear and start it today?

(For more about Richie, check out www.richienorton.com and The Power of Starting Something Stupid.  And to gain clarity on the stupid ideas you long to pursue in your career, take my free Career Path Self-Assessment.)

Thinking of Self-Publishing Your Book? Take Guy Kawasaki’s Advice

Image via CrunchBase

Last month, I had the terrific pleasure of chatting with Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Alltop.com, founder partner of Garage Technology Ventures, and former Chief Evangelist for Apple.  Guy is the author of ten books, including Enchantment, Reality Check, and Rules for Revolutionaries.  If you haven’t followed Guy’s writing and blog, you’re truly missing out.  He’s utterly brilliant, wise, iconoclastic, brutally frank, and downright hilarious.

And if you’re considering self-publishing a book, make the first resource you read Guy’s new book APE: Author- Publisher – Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book co-written by Shawn Welch.

I don’t recommend resources lightly, but as one who worked in traditional publishing for years and had my own book Breakdown, Breakthrough published traditionally, I believe Guy’s new book is a true winner, full of practical, realistic solutions, strategies and tips for self-publishers.

In 2011 the publisher of Guy’s New York Times bestseller, Enchantment, could not fill an order for 500 ebook copies of the book. Because of this experience, Guy self-published his next book, What the Plus!: Google+ For the Rest of Usand learned first-hand that self-publishing is a complex, confusing, and idiosyncratic process.  He decided to learn as much as he could about successful self-publishing, and share his knowledge with all those who want to venture into the self-publishing arena.

I asked Guy about the process of self-publishing, what he’s learned from it, and also what makes it worthwhile to write a book in the first place.

Here’s Guy’s take:

1)  Why write a book in the first place?

If you’re writing a book simply as a means to an end – to get rich, or to get the word out about your expertise, or to attract more consulting or coaching business – forget it.  Stop what you’re doing right now.  If you’re thinking just about what you can get out of it, you’re probably writing a “crappy” book (Guy’s word), and your “crap” will be forever immortalized in black and white.  Something you definitely don’t want.

Guy advises, “Write a book because you have something important to say. If you have a life story that inspires, or information that you believe everyone in a particular niche NEEDS to know, then do it.”  But don’t just rush to get something out because you think it will enhance your career, profile, business, or bank account.  You just won’t succeed with those inner motives.

(On that note, I’ve been floored by the advice I’ve heard some small business and entrepreneurial success coaches offer my colleagues and clients – to just slap together a book quickly and get it out there, to make money and build their credibility. I’m with Guy – your credibility is shot if you do that, and trust me, your discerning readers can tell what you’re trying to do. Also, don’t forget that the vast majority of authors don’t make any money on their books.)

2)   Your karmic scoreboard

Guy believes in the concept of a “karmic scoreboard” – that what you put out in the world will come back around to you.  Self-publishing solely to advance yourself reduces your “karmic score.”  On the other hand, being kind, generous, and helpful – being of service to others as your first goal – increases your karmic score.  If your motivation is to help others with no expectations of what you’ll get in return, you’ll find that the process is also self-supportive, because when you set out to support the enrichment of others, it comes back to you tenfold.

3)  Artisanal publishing  (vs. self-publishing) – the new trend in publishing

In his book APE, Guy talks about “artisanal publishing” as a process that features writers who love their craft, and who control every aspect of the process from beginning to end. In this new approach, writers are no longer at the mercy of large, traditional publishers, and readers will have more books to read.

The self-publishing world has eradicated the filters and barriers that the traditional publishing world represented (where editors – typically male — made the judgments about content and worthiness).  In the old days, the imprint of the publisher was a proxy for quality – if you were accepted by the publisher, you passed the test.  Now the proxy for quality is how your book fares in terms of reviews and ratings on Amazon, and sales.  Customers vote on the book’s quality or on their need to expose themselves to your material by clicking to purchase, or not clicking.

Guy explained that when readers contemplate buying your book today, they often don’t even notice the publisher.  They look instead at the ratings and reviews received by the audience. What’s key in artisanal publishing is that you start with a good book, and then market the book with everything you’ve got.   Marketing a book for many would-be authors is a daunting task, and thousands of self-published authors are ignorant of what’s required to get the word out (or they detest the marketing process altogether).  In the end, if you want to be a successful artisanal publisher, you have to be willing to market.

To further the artisanal analogy, think of an artisanal baker.  Do we think s/he is an entrepreneur? Absolutely! She is making the bread, selling it, distributing it, etc.  Would you ever go up to an artisanal baker and ask, “Is the reason why you have your own bakery that you didn’t get accepted by a large national baked goods manufacturer?”  No. We don’t even think of that question. Guy is hoping that artisanal publishers will soon earn the same respect and merit as other artisans.

4)   How to know if your book is worthwhile?

I asked Guy his thoughts on the question, “How can you evaluate if your book is worth publishing and will be a work of quality?”

First, Guy believes you absolutely need professional copyediting.   All writers, even great ones, need copyediting.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do this on your own. You can’t.  If you skip this step, the quality of your product will be sorely compromised.

Secondly, you must put yourself through a rigorous process of evaluating your book through the eyes of potential readers/buyers.  Pretend you go to Amazon.com or visit a Barnes & Noble bookstore.  You see amazing books written by Anne Lamott, Isabel Allende, Patricia Cornwell, Condoleezza Rice, John Grisham, Lee Child, David Baldacci.

Then you see your book – The Schmoe Story, by Joe Schmoe.  Guy asks you to evaluate: “Why would anyone give a hoot about your book?”  You need a true reason, an engaging shtick or an angle – not a fabricated one, but authentic and gripping — that makes it an important story to tell.  Your material has to be compelling and contributive, adding in a positive way to what already exists on the topic.

He gives an example of the gripping story of a single mom who endures a grueling four-year process to adopt a child from Guatemala, and is asked over and over, “Why are you adopting?” by her friends at home.  Then, when bringing the child home, she is asked if she is the child’s nanny.  Guy shares, “This woman’s story is just as important (arguably more important) than George W. Bush’s memoir.  There’s a reason people will care about this unknown, single adoptive mom’s story – there’s a reason this book matters.  You don’t have to be rich and powerful to have a riveting story to tell.

How do you really determine if your story is worth telling? Pretend that you didn’t write the book – would you really care about this author and this story?

To help make the book better, Guy is a fan of obtaining as much feedback as possible from his potential audience, a process he calls crowd feedback. Guy admits “Strangers aren’t kind.” You’ll get a host of brutally frank comments, feedback and input that you can use (with discernment) to understand if this book has a true purpose for existing, and how to improve it.

5)  Are you ready to engage in artisanal publishing?

Guy shared: “If you gave me two choices – one where there’s a small group of powerful people who pick the winners and losers versus complete and utter anarchy where anyone can publish a book, I would pick anarchy, fully realizing that most books that emerge in this arena will be poor quality.  The situation of anarchy and the lower barrier means that there will be some gems that would never have been published in the old world –  true gems — and that makes it worthwhile.

“Imagine a world where you couldn’t start a company unless you had an MBA.  That would rule out Google, Apple, YouTube, Cisco.” Supporting artisanal publishing is similar to saying “NO!” to the idea that only people with MBA’s can start a successful company.  Guy shares, “A world where only a few hold that type of control and power is not a world I would recommend.”

As my fellow Forbes contributor Roger Dooley writes – “Perhaps the greatest contribution of APE will be that some individuals who have great ideas but haven’t felt they could write a book or get it published will now be empowered to start their journey.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Are you interested in self-publishing? First, read Guy’s book APE – Author – publisher – Entrepreneur: How to Publish A Book.  Then, make sure you have an important story to tell, get the editorial help you need to ensure high quality, prepare yourself to fully engage in the marketing process, and go for it! (And for beginning marketers, check out my Prosperity Marketing Mindset program to get you started.)

 

6 Core Steps to Figuring Out What You Want To Be

Image Courtesy of Pakorn on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In response to my Forbes, Huffington Post and AARP Work Reimagined posts, I hear one type of comment over and over again, more than any other, and it goes something like this: “I just don’t know what I want.  Despite all my efforts, I can’t figure it out what I want to do.”

I find this an amazing phenomenon – that so many Americans have lost touch with who and what they want to be professionally.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not judging anyone here, because this was me 12 years ago.  I built an 18-year corporate career in publishing, marketing and membership services, and for most of it, I was outwardly successful.  But throughout it all, I was inwardly very unhappy and kept asking “Is this all there is?   I loved my family life, but my career was deeply unsatisfying.  Despite my efforts to get help to figure out what else I should professionally (I saw a therapist and career counselor, took costly quantitative assessment tests [which I’m not a fan of, by the way], etc.), I couldn’t figure out what else to do.  I finally did figure it out and forged a very fulfilling path, but it took years and some very costly missteps.

After 10 years of serving as career coach and trainer to help professionals build more satisfying careers, I’ve uncovered why people are so resistant to career change.  And I’ve created a successful model with a step-by-step program to help professionals  build a career that delivers both the “essence” of what makes them happy, along with the right “form” of it to suit their financial needs, values, life intentions, standards of integrity and more.

So how do we do it?  What are the six keys to figuring out what you really want?

1)  Pull yourself out of the tiny box you’re trapped in

All people who are stuck feel this way because they’ve made some costly or rigid assumptions about what they need to be happy or what they’re capable of creating. These assumptions (often unconscious) keep them trapped in a tight little box with a lid that won’t budge.

Some of these limiting assumptions are:

-  I need to earn $XXXXXX to live the life I want

-  My marriage or family won’t survive my making this change

-  I’ll be too old by the time I make this change

-  I don’t have what it takes to reinvent myself or even repurpose what I do

-  I’m a loser and a failure – I can’t compete

-  I’m too unskilled or out of touch with current trends

-  I have nothing important to offer

-  I’m not special

-  I’m too beat up and burnt out

-  Nothing else will be better

How can you get out of the box? 

Certainly not by yourself.  You simply can’t identify your special talents, capabilities and potential alone and in a vacuum.  And you can’t solve your problems on the level of awareness that they were created.  You’ve got to involve someone else in the discussion about your life, and make it someone you respect, who’s knowledgeable, successful and fulfilled in what they do, and who doesn’t have an agenda about where you net out. Find someone today who can mentor, advise or coach you about what’s possible, and help you see what’s holding you back from identifying the power you have to make a difference, and the vast number of options that are truly available to you.

If you’re trying to do this all by yourself, you just won’t make headway.

2)  Don’t throw the baby out – look at what IS working along with what IS NOT

Many people wake up in midlife to the fact that their careers are dissatisfying and unsuccessful, and they’re so upset about it, they want to chuck the whole thing out.  Don’t make that mistake.  Conduct a thorough assessment of what you would like to preserve and maintain in your current career, and get rid of only the parts that make you feel angry, sad, frustrated, and thwarted. After all, you’ve been in this career for some time now – it’s not all bad.  You were attracted to it once, and you are utilizing some talents and skills that you want to continue to draw on.

As an example, I spent years as a copywriter and marketing professional in publishing. I didn’t enjoy writing copy for scientific books and journals, but I was good at it.  Now, I use all of those copywriting skills daily (and enjoy them), for my own business, and as a marketing consultant helping career women, entrepreneurs and small businesses promote their brands and services.

3)  Address your problems now, before making a change

I make this a mandate in all the career coaching work I do – that the client begin today to address and resolve what’s making them miserable in the current job or career before they leap.  Until you feel more empowered and  become more controlled, authoritative, and masterful in your current situation, you can’t expect to attract a better situation in the next chapter.  You’ve got to do the inner and outer work to earn a “fantastic” career – it’s not just going to fall in your lap.

I’ve found that once my clients do the work to address their problems in the current situation, their challenges tend to evaporate and often they don’t need to leap to something completely different.

(To learn more about how build your self-confidence, risk-tolerance, self-mastery and capabilities, visit The Amazing Career Project and download my free homework tool “Assessing and Closing Your Power Gaps”).

4)  Develop a supportive network and community that loves you

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but the reality is you cannot get where you want to in life and work if you don’t have help.  No matter where you are in your career, you need people to help you launch to the next level.  Start building a more powerful network of loyal colleagues who admire and appreciate you and would be more than happy to help you do what you want.  There are many ways to develop a community that will support you, including utilizing LinkedIn fully, offering endorsements and testimonials to people you respect, attending association and networking meetings of professionals in your field, reaching out to former colleagues who you admire, taking a class with other exciting, like-minded professionals, and the list goes on. (Here are a few helpful resources —  my free LinkedIn Primer  and Resume Guide — to get you started.)

5)   Build your personal brand and tell your story well

Before you can figure out what you really want and get it, you have to know who you are and tell a compelling story about yourself.  Of the thousands of professionals I meet and work with each year, only a tiny fraction can answer these questions in a compelling and engaging way:

What are you fabulous at and known for?

What do you offer and do that is significantly different from what the best in your field do?

What were you noticed for back when you were a teen and young adult?

What skills, talents, abilities make you stand out?

What life experiences have shaped you in special ways?

What are your Life Intentions?

What are your core values – the non-negotiables you need in life to be happy and fulfilled?

Whom do you love to serve and support, and why?

When you’re 90 years old looking back, what do you want to have given, contributed, stood for and achieved?

If you can’t answer these questions, you won’t figure out what you really want because you just don’t know yourself well enough and others won’t know how to help you.  To learn who you really are, take my free Career Path Self-Assessment.

6)  Now…connect the dots

After you’ve done all this work, it’s time to connect the dots (listen to the amazing Steve Jobs talk about how to live before you die and “connect  the dots”).  Figure out what paths will truly make sense for who you are and what you want to achieve in life.

Gain clarity about the best path for you by conducting online, offline, passive and active (in-person) research, to answer these critical questions:

What are my passions, and which of these make sense as a livelihood and which are better as hobbies?

Based on the passions, talents and skills I have, what are the careers best suited to me?

What are all the factors I need to address in planning my next direction (money, timing, energy, geography, family needs, support, enjoyment, health, etc.)

In this process, am I making any erroneous assumptions about myself and my life that I need to rethink?

Do I know what it takes to be successful in this new direction, and am I committed to it 100%?

Do I really want to start my own business, or am I just running away from something?

How will I fund my career change or transition?

Where will I find the ongoing support I need?

Don’t make the same huge blunders that so many career changers make.  Do the inner and outer work required to 1) discover who you are and what really matters to you, 2) overcome the obstacles in the way of your success, and 3) identify and “try on” the paths that make the most sense for you and your life.

And get the help you need to reach your highest potential.

It’s takes a great deal of effort to LOVE who you are, and to relish your life and career.  But what an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding path when you do.

 

Career Path Self-Assessment

FREE GIFT!

Kathy's CAREER PATH SELF-ASSESSMENT SURVEY!

 

Finally, gain the self-knowledge, insights and answers you need to improve your career today!

quote

quote