Building Resilience – Tips for Getting Through Tough Times by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Every facet of life brings challenges, though it’s true that some periods of our life are more challenging than others. It’s said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so we can take comfort that we can come out of challenges stronger on the other side. resilience4

During the tough times, it’s important to have coping skills that can help you weather the storms, whether these are in your work life or your personal life. Here are some tips to help you get through the challenges you face now, and to make you more resilient for challenges that lie ahead.

  1. Focus on one day at a time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we try to tackle too much of a challenging situation at once. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is take the steps we need to get through today, or to make the next decision that impacts our current challenge. Then, work on figuring out another challenge tomorrow.
  1. Talk it out. It’s important to have a sounding board when you’re going through a tough time. Depending upon the situation, you may need a business mentor, a friend with a listening ear, or a professional counselor. The worst thing you can do is hold it all in. Even if talking provides no tangible advice, you’ll feel better by getting your feelings and fears out in the open.
  1. Use the challenge to create a learning situation. If your business is having trouble, consider taking a class or getting a business mentor to teach you some new skills. If you have financial troubles, choose a book to teach you new investment or money saving skills. Using the challenge as a learning opportunity will give you new skills and help you know that you are doing everything in your power to work through the situation.

 

  1. Work on your issues daily, but don’t obsess over them. Worry does nothing to solve problems, but does a great deal of harm to your psyche. Learning to relax and get your challenges off your mind periodically will help you keep your sanity, and help you have the clarity needed to face your challenges sensibly.

 

Use these tips to help you ensure you’re using every challenge to teach you and make you a better leader and a better person.

The Power of Persistence by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” Calvin Coolidge

Many of us are idea people. We are great with coming up with grand schemes and getting started on them with enormous enthusiasm. Yet we often persistence3fail to see these projects through, becoming bored, pessimistic or defeated because of stumbles in the road or little failures along the way.

It’s critical to learn to get past these little stumbles so that we don’t give up. When we give up, how do we know that success wasn’t just around the corner? Have you ever wondered how many pursuits you were “this close” to accomplishing when you gave up?

The key to persistence lies in two traits. The first is commitment. Too often we start a project without a real commitment to see it through. When it gets hard, we want to quit because we never were all that committed to it anyway. Take a look back at the hard things you’ve accomplished in your life. Maybe you have a long, successful marriage. I’m sure there were hard times during that marriage that made you want to give up. The reason you didn’t was that you had a true commitment to your partner and the promises you made each other. Pursue projects with true commitment, and you’ll have the strength to be persistent.

The second key to persistence is celebration. We often give up because we only look at the things that have gone wrong during the process. The mistakes and failures take a toll on. These failures take less of a toll when we spend more time thinking about the successes. In each big endeavor, we have those stumbles in the road, but we also have achievements and learning experiences. The problem is that we spend more time mourning the failures than we do celebrating the successes. Over time, the project looks like a series of failures to us, so we lose the will to keep trying.

Success is about persistence. Persistence is about mindset. Make a genuine commitment to all you do, and don’t forget to celebrate how well you’re doing it.

Listening Without Judgment by Cindy Stradling CSP,CPC

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Good listening skills are one of the most important traits of a successful leader. By listening intently to what others say, you can learn a great deal of valuable information that can help you learn, and that often can help the person talking to you, as well. images3

One way to improve both your listening skills and your credibility as a good listener is to learn to listen without judgment. When others can trust you to listen without judgment, they will be more likely to confide in you and seek your feedback.

Listening without judgment means not jumping to conclusions or forming opinions about what is being said. This form of listening allows you to absorb all of the material being presented to you, rather than making a decision about what you hear midway through the conversation.

To improve your skills in listening without judgment, try the following tips.

  1. Don’t interrupt. Don’t jump in to finish the person’s sentence, even though you may think it shows that you understand what the person is saying. Don’t ask questions, unless these are absolutely necessary to clarify what is being said.
  1. Ask appropriate clarification questions when the person is finished in order to ensure you understand what is being said.
  1. Ask “Why” a person feels the way they do if you don’t understand.
  1. Do not give feedback, unless specifically asked.
  1. Never tell a person he or she is wrong for their feelings.

Of course, you will form opinions on the things you hear. You may need to take action on what you hear and even decide if what you’ve heard is inappropriate or outside important rules in some way. However, by listening without making judgment until the end of the conversation, you will have a more complete perspective before you form an opinion. You will give yourself the opportunity to understand the person’s motives and feelings behind their words.

Learning to listen without judging will make you a better and more respected leader. It will also give you better decision making skills because you will have a much better understanding of circumstances before you decide. Take the time to hone your listening skills- it’s a practice you will be happy you did.

 

 

Can People Really Count on You? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Your index2integrity is an important part of your personal brand. Most leaders have the best of intentions when making commitments but may fail in the follow through due to unforeseen circumstances and or poor planning. In order to protect your reputation, it’s very important to be a person of your word, ensuring that others can count on you to do what you say you will. Here are three tips to help you make the right commitments and keep them.

Keep a calendar. People who consistently keep a calendar are much better at juggling their commitments, which helps ensure they don’t over commit. If your calendar is part of your everyday life, you will always know what you can commit to, and what you can’t.

Prioritize where you will donate your time. As a leader, you are likely asked frequently to give of your time. In order to avoid being spread too thin, it is important to know which organizations have highest priority on your list. This will make it easier for you to weed out the things you simply don’t have time for when life gets busy. If you have identified volunteering at your child’s school as a top priority, for example, you will know that during busy times of the school year, you are unable to take on additional volunteer activities. When things slow down, perhaps during summer vacation, you can take on volunteer work with another group.

Learn to say “no”. Many of us hate saying no, particularly to a good cause. But, it is better to say no upfront when you know your schedule doesn’t really allow the time to do what you’re asked than to back out at the last moment or do a poor job because you were out of time.

Communicate proactively. Let people know when you’ve run into an obstacle. For example, if you promised a customer an answer to his question today, but you still don’t have the answer, it’s critical to call him today anyway. Giving him the update that you are still waiting for an answer and giving him a new commitment for getting back to him will assure him that you are someone he can count on to do what you say.

Being a person others can count on is an important character trait. Your reputation and your personal brand depend upon your ability to keep your word consistently.

Keeping Your Cool When Things Go Wrong by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Leadership is stressful. It becomes even more so when work disasters happen or things don’t go as planned. However, it is particularly important to be careful how you behave during the worst of times. It is during these times that you create a lasting reputation for your leadership style.index

Some people are naturally calm in the face of trouble. Most people, however, are known to overreact from time to time. For some people, it is certain circumstances that cause upset, while for others, the negative reaction is based more on their current mood at the time or how well other things are going.

Regardless of what sets you off, it’s important to know when you are getting angry, and to take action before you lose your cool. It is ok to show that you are human, but it undermines you as a leader when you lose control. Walk through these four steps when you feel a meltdown coming on.

Take a deep breath and think about the situation for a minute. Don’t speak immediately, particularly if you will be speaking in anger.

Determine if you must take action immediately. In many cases, it’s ok to wait until you’ve cooled off to decide how to handle the situation.

Formulate a plan. When you’re able to do so objectively, create a plan to fix the problem, as best you can.

Take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. One of the best ways to avoid losing your cool is to take any measures possible to prevent being in the negative situation in the first place. As part of this step, it’s important to make certain that people involved know that the situation is unacceptable to you. This allows them to help prevent it in the future as well.

When you can handle yourself calmly in any situation, you demonstrate exceptional leadership skill. This trait will help you to make the best decisions in the worst of situations. It will also help ensure that employees and others that deal with you feel comfortable with telling you the truth and respect you for your ability to handle whatever business throws at you.

Leveraging Your Strengths by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Ambitious people often spend a great deal of time working on improving their areas of weakness. This is a noble endeavor, and will help you to imagesimprove your skills and become a better leader. But, don’t make the mistake of spending so much time trying to improve in areas where you struggle that you forget to make the most of the areas where you shine. Leveraging the strengths you already possess is just as important as improving areas where you are not as adept. Here are some unique ways that leveraging your strengths can help you and your business.

  1. You can take the most active role in your business where it makes the most sense. Rather than spending a lot of time trying to hone your accounting skills so that you can manage your own books, spend that time using your already powerful sales skills to bring in more business. Then, you’ll have more money to pay an accountant to manage the books.
  2. You can become a leader and mentor. One of the best ways to develop your employees and others in the community is by sharing your skills as a leader and mentor. When you focus on those things you are good at, you are more able to impact and teach others.
  3. You can increase the awareness of your business in your community. Leverage your skills for good, as well as in your business. Volunteer in a community organization or work in your church in an area where you excel. As you meet new people through your volunteer work, not only will you be making a difference in your community, but you will also shining a light on your particular business skills.

As a leader, it is critical to continue to grow and learn new skills. Just remember that you got where you are today because you already possess some pretty impressive abilities. Be proud of these, and use them where they can bring the most benefit to you and to others around you.

Taking Appropriate Action by Cindy Stradling CSP ,CPC

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One primary sign of a good business leader is the willingness to take action when needed. Too often, problems languish due to a hesitation to make a definitive move forward. However, in addition to being willing to make a decision and take action, it is just as important for a leader to take the appropriate action at the time. Here are some tips to ensuring the action you’re about to take is the appropriate one.images

  1. Is it necessary? There are times when a problem doesn’t really require action. We may be tempted to take unnecessary action because we are upset or have a strong opinion on the situation at hand. But, before you make a move, consider how the scenario might play out if you do nothing. Sometimes, letting a situation resolve itself without your intervention is the best course of action.
  2. Is it well thought out? Once you’ve decided that it is important to take action, it is equally important that you take the right action. Look at all your options, and choose carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask for input from those who will be affected by the actions you’re about to take.
  3. Is it timely? Taking action at the wrong time can be costly. Be certain to evaluate the timing of your action. The right move at the wrong time can be just as costly as the wrong move. This is especially true of situations that involve people who may be hurt or angry. Sometimes, a cooling off period will change perspective on the situation.

One of the marks of a great leader is the ability to make good decisions and move forward, even in times of uncertainty, and even when these decisions must be made quickly. However, even in the most urgent of times, it pays to take a minute and ask yourself the three questions mentioned above before you make a move.

What it Means to be an Authentic Leader in the 21st Century by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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In today’s businessindex world, there are many buzzwords surrounding the idea of effective leadership and executive management. One of the most recent catchphrases is “authentic” leadership. The phrase has been coined, in part, out of a realization that many business people act more as “bosses” rather than “leaders” and may struggle with the concept of leading in a way that is true to themselves. Here are some traits that help set apart “authentic” leaders from those who are in leadership positions, yet continue to act as bosses.

  1. Authentic leaders create change. Anyone can become unsatisfied with the status quo when he sees it isn’t working. A true leader, however, creates change when the status quo isn’t working. Leaders are people who have tangible results.
  2. Authentic leaders operate with integrity. The most effective leaders have a moral compass that guides their behavior. They are true to their word and have a genuine desire to make a positive difference. They treat other people the way they want to be treated in business and in their personal lives.
  3. Authentic leaders act. They don’t ask others to do what they are not willing to do themselves. They work hard, without waiting for others to step up. One of their greatest qualities is their ability to inspire others to work hard because of their initiative.
  4. Authentic leaders are involved. The best leaders usually have many other activities outside of work. They often raise families and are deeply involved in their communities. This variety of priorities and commitments gives them the motivation they need to keep making a difference. The best leaders are busy doing things they want to be doing.

The actions of a leader are what separate them from those who operate as bosses. Leaders motivate others to be their best selves because of the example that they set. If you strive to be a leader in your own business, find the activities and outcomes that speak to you and then set up your own life to have the authentic tone that will not only make you your very best, but will inspire others to be their best, as well.

The Importance of “Me Time” by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Many of us do an excellent job of taking care of everyone else, yet neglecting our own needs. In fact, many people actually feel guiltyindex2 about doing things for themselves, especially if it means they might have to say “no” to the need of another, even temporarily, to do so. However, what many people don’t realize is that those people who must take care of others, whether their family, or their business, can be more effective at being the caretaker if they care for themselves first. After all, as the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”.

Here are three reasons why you need to make time for yourself and make your own needs a priority.

1. You can avoid burnout. None of us can go on indefinitely without taking a little time away. Eventually, your lack of attention to yourself will result in poor decisions, frustration or giving up on your goals. By taking a little bit of time for yourself regularly, you can stay recharged.

2. You can look at problems with a fresh eye. When you take a little time away, you can often find perspective on your biggest problems when you come back to them. Very often, the things that seem impossible to solve or catastrophic seem much less problematic once you’ve stepped away for a little while.

3. You can help others more genuinely. When you are constantly meeting only the needs of others, you can begin to resent those who depend on you. Once you’ve given yourself a chance to have a little personal down time, you’ll find you are able to take care of others happily again.

Giving yourself down time doesn’t always mean doing something radical. Sometimes taking a moment to enjoy a glass of wine before moving on to your next task can be the break you need. Rediscovering an old hobby you’ve neglected can help to refresh your mind. Having a date night with your significant other or reading a book just for fun are also ways you can recharge and take care of yourself. Do whatever works for you….but make it a point to make your own needs as much of a priority as the needs of others in your life.

How To Know If It’s Time to Give Up on a Goal

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targetOne of the hallmarks of a successful person is perseverance. The most successful people have proven themselves to be able to meet their goals simply because they do not give up easily on those goals. They show the discipline and commitment to continue to move forward toward a goal even after making several failed attempts and even when the odds may seem impossible.
However, there are times when it doesn’t make sense to continue to pursue a goal. Making the decision to stop working toward a goal is often very difficult for people who are accustomed to always reaching the goals they set. Here are some tips to help you know when it’s time to take a new direction:

• You’re pursuing it only because you said you would. If you’ve lost your passion for a project, it’s time to reevaluate whether you should continue to pursue the goal. For a goal to be worth continuing to pursue it is important to know that you will still find fulfillment in achieving it.

• It is no longer financially feasible. If you’ve begun a business or project and determined that it doesn’t make financial sense to continue. You should pursue another path or begin to recognize it as a hobby.

• It infringes on things that are more important. If you have found that reaching your goal requires that you put in so much time that you neglect things that, in the long run are even more important, it’s time to reevaluate. It may not require completely giving up on your goal, but rather reorganizing your life and changing your timeline, so that you can move forward at a pace that allows you to keep up with the other important things in your life.

Giving up on a goal is never easy for those who are accustomed to always reaching their goals. However, sometimes it takes more character to know when to change direction than to continue to pursue a goal that is no longer appropriate for your life.