Know Yourself

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"When I started, my biggest challenge was learning to hear my inner voice -- finding a way to be quiet enough to notice and pay attention to my own ideas." - Janet Echelman, Artist

Self Awareness

 

A few years ago I interviewed a young entrepreneur named Gary Whitehill, founder of New York Entrepreneur Week, which has since become the global Entrepreneur Week phenomenon. When I asked him for his #1 tip, he said “Know Yourself“.

 

Knowing yourself means spending time tuned into radio station YOU. When you do, you’re paying attention to all the signals, the spark that guides you toward a fulfilling life and work that matters. Some of us have spent so many years doing what other people want us to do, we’ve lost touch with our own internal spark. Yet happiness, joy, fulfillment, outstanding performance, and a strong sense of purpose all begin within, with the spark. Your spark is your guide.

 

Nurture your spark.  Pay attention. Is it flickering and fading? Do you spend too much of your valuable time in activities that you don’t like, or that are in conflict with your values, and who you really are? Are you happy and fulfilled in your work, or bored, frustrated, and ready to make a change?

 

Working with a Coach accelerates you on your path from the challenge or frustration of the moment, to the results you want. Along the way you’ll learn more about yourself and how to get out of your own way. You’ll experience insights and aha moments, and greater clarity so you’ll know what to focus on. And, you’ll be taking practical action. Think about coaching when:
 

  • You’re dealing with something urgent, compelling or exciting with a lot at stake (a challenge, stretch goal or an opportunity)
  • A gap exists in your knowledge, skills, confidence or resources
  • You have a desire to accelerate results
  • You need clarity as you consider choices
  • Success has started to become problematic
  • Your Work and your life feel out of balance
  • You need some help identifying Core strengths and how to leverage them
  • Your head is telling you one thing, and your heart is telling you something else.
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    BONUS – Colorful Image of a Janet Echelman sculpture.

    Artist Janet Echelman reshapes urban airspace with monumental, fluidly moving sculpture; this image is of her sculpture at the Amsterdam Light Festival, from the superb article about her in the Huffington Post.

    Brain Awareness Month

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    How to Reduce Anxiety, Get Unstuck, and Lead a Fuller, More Productive Life


    What if you could reduce anxiety, get unstuck, optimize mental and physical performance, make better decisions, and tap into your inner wisdom?


    A couple of years ago, I was laid off. I stumbled on exactly the right book at the right moment. Written by Dr. Les Fehmi and science writer Jim Robbins, “The Open Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body”, the book includes a CD with simple attention-training exercises. And they worked – my knotted back muscles relaxed, my thoughts stopped spinning unproductively, and I could move forward.


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    Hot-syncing: How to Get Through to Anyone

    by Louise Holmes and Jeffrey Cohen;  Jeff is an Executive Coach in New York City

     

    Have you noticed that some people have a knack for getting through to people, convincing them to buy into their plans, goals and desires? It may seem like magic, but it really isn’t.

     

    Mirror Neurons

    When the brain’s “mirror neurons” fire, we have the ability to be transported into another person’s mind, briefly making us feel what the other person is experiencing. These cells are nature’s way of teaching us to care about other people.

     

    Neurologist V.S. Ramachandran, director of the Center for Human Information Processing at the University of California, San Diego, calls them “empathy neurons” or “Dalai Lama neurons,” as they dissolve the barriers between self and others. So, what’s the secret to activating the “mirror neurons” when you’re talking to someone?

     

    Rewire Yourself to Listen

    Many of us don’t listen well, especially with the people we deal with each day. We think we already know what they’re going to say. We interrupt. We try to top their story with a better (or worse) one of our own. We talk around, over and up against people, with little actual listening to them.

    Beware the Amygdala Hijack

    The amygdala is a part of the brain that processes memory and emotional reactions (especially fear and anger). When it takes over, the primitive reptile brain runs the show, and surges of adrenaline keep us from thinking clearly over the next few minutes — an effect that may take hours to fade.

     

    The term “amygdala hijack,” first coined by psychologist Daniel Goleman, refers to what happens under acute stress. Goleman uses the term to describe emotional responses from people which are out of measure with the actual threat. An amygdala hijack exhibits three signs: strong emotional reactionsudden onset, and usually a post-episode realization that the reaction was inappropriate.

     

    If you’ve ever said or done something in the “heat of the moment” that you later regretted you were probably the victim of an amygdala hijack. Sound a little bit like yourself on a bad day? Sometimes you just want to explode when someone “pushes your buttons”?

     

    How to stop your “Fight-or-Flight” emotional reactions

    Use the 6-second rule. Pause for 6 seconds to take 6 deep breaths, think about 6 fun things you want to do over the weekend or anything that will help you focus on something else until the initial reaction to lose control subsides.

     

    Try saying something like: “Thank you for your feedback. I need to think about this. Can we schedule a time to talk about this more tomorrow?”

     

    How do you reason with someone else who’s in amygdala hijack?

    You don’t. You’d be wasting your time. You must speak to him before the hijack occurs — or talk him down from it using empathy.

     

    Master this short model for empathetic listening. It has two simple steps …

     

    Ask! Listen! –Ask! Listen! — Ask! Listen!

     

    That’s it. Note that “Talk!” is not in this formula.

     

    Here are some sample statements and questions to give you the idea. Remember, ASK, then be quiet and listen:

     

    • “It sounds like you’re really upset about this.”
    • “I sense some hesitation in your response.”
    • “You’re raising an important issue.”
    • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
    • “I understand. You feel that you’re expected to do all of the work around here.”
    • “It sounds like you’re feeling unsure about this.”
    • “You sound angry about this.”
    • “Can you tell me more about it?”

     

    On the Same Wavelength: “Connect” With the Other Person

    Put yourself in the other person’s shoes so you can change the dynamics of a relationship in a heartbeat. In that instant, you “get” each other, and this breakthrough leads to cooperation, collaboration and a genuine connection.

     

    When you mirror what another person feels, she’s hardwired to mirror you in return. When you say, “I understand what you’re feeling” — and you mean it — she will feel grateful and, in return, express her appreciation with a desire to understand you. It’s an irresistible biological urge that pulls another person toward you.

     

    Brain imaging data that shows humans are literally ‘wired to connect’ emotionally,” says Carl Marci, MD. “There is now converging evidence that, during moments of empathic connection, humans reflect or mirror each other’s emotions, and their physiologies move on the same wavelength.

     

    Most of us want to be heard and understood by others. We want others to buy in to our plans, dreams, and desires. The “mirror neurons” research shows that if we’re around a positive and optimistic person we mirror their emotions. So, why not take the lead and leave the other person feeling good, feeling valued, feeling uplifted?

     

    And then go one step beyond and ask “is there something I can do to help?” or “how can I help you make this happen?” Talk about your Mirror Neurons! You’ll be leaving them feeling good about themselves – and about you!

     

    When you make that genuine empathetic “hot-sync” connection with someone else, you’re building trust, and more likely to transform yourself from a stranger to a friend and ally.

     

    What’s your experience? What works for you (and what doesn’t) when you really want to connect with another person one on one? Do mirror neurons play a role in your ability to connect with your audience, if you’re presenting to a group? What if you could learn to easily synchronize your brain waves with someone else’s, to literally be “in-sync”, would you be interested?

     

    Trust Your Gut

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    "When I started True Colors, I was having a blast! It was so much fun. I found myself thinking about it day and night, and looking forward to each day and the ideas kept coming…and they still do! I no longer have stomach aches, or that feeling of dread from too much stress. I think your gut will tell you’re heading down the right path."

    Linda WaldonFrom High Tech to Fashion


    Former Silicon Valley Training Director Linda Waldon left a career in the corporate world behind after a layoff – with no regrets, and began a year-long odyssey to choose a new work and life direction for herself. She had no idea what to do next, but viewed the unexpected “time off” as a gift that she was grateful for, an opportunity to unwind,  to slow down, and discover what her heart and intuition were telling her.


    Head, Heart and Hands
    We are each influenced by a combination of preferences for thinking (head), doing (hands) and feeling (heart), and imbalance between them results in stress, unhappiness, and even health problems. After years of intense focus on thinking, intellectual work in the high tech industry, Linda’s stress level from the imbalance in her life was off the charts. In her interview (audio links below), Linda describes the steps she took to move from from this point and make the transformation to work she is passionate about.


    She found herself drawn toward art and color and fashion, and ultimately started her own business, True Colors by Linda. She writes a fashion blog called “Find Your Chic” to help women – and men – understand how to dress to stand out, be noticed, to attract the right kind of attention, and to enhance their personal brand.


    Interview: How to Make a Work / Life Change – Linda’s Story

    Listen below as Linda talks about how she made the transition from high tech corporate career to founder of a fashion consulting business. She describes her self-discovery process, and tells how she feels about her work today (beautifully illustrating the concept of “flow”), then finally offers you her “Top 5 Tips for making a Work/Life Change.”

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    How Seth Godin Kicked My Butt

    A few days ago a friend sent me this excellent interview,  in which Seth Godin talks about his recent book, Linchpin (this is an affiliate link). It was so good, I raced out and bought the book yesterday afternoon.  I woke up at 4:30 am today and read more. Then I started writing and I can’t stop. And now I’m writing my first blog post in months. Why? Because Seth Godin kicked my butt.


    Here’s Seth Godin being interviewed by David Garland:



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    Power of Attention

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    "HOW you pay attention matters"

    Les Fehmi, Open Focus Brain, Part 2


    Last year I wrote about Dr. Les and Susan Fehmi, and their work. The post included a short video to introduce them, and in it they talk about the benefits of Open Focus attention for reducing anxiety, optimizing your performance and your health and well-being. I’m interested in their work, because when I’m in midst of change – whether I’m making it happen, or it’s happening to me – I deal with anxiety, and at the same time I want to be at the top of my game. And there’s plenty of tug-of-war between the two.


    Last Fall, I did something I never imagined myself trying …I attended the Fehmi’s workshop in Princeton, New Jersey, and spent a couple of days with my head wired up to a Neurofeedback machine. And now I’m a believer – it felt wonderful and freeing and to be in that place where I was producing a steady stream of alpha brain waves. I spent two days in the company of massage therapists, psychiatrists, nurses, internet marketers, computer scientist, creativity experts, and psychotherapists who hailed from across the US and Europe, and couples who were connected to the same machine, learning “couples synchrony” (BTW, they mentioned the resulting “honeymoon effect”.)


    A few people seemed to be old hands, back for a refresher session with Dr. Fehmi. One of them, my partner, kept talking about “getting a hit of alpha”. He also patiently explained a lot to me…that Les Fehmi is one of the premier “Alpha Trainers” in the country, if not the world. That learning how to produce more Alpha brain waves fills you with a sense of well-being, a sense of letting go of anxiety, of inspired imagination and creativity, and of opening up and connecting with others. That as we age, we produce fewer alpha waves, so to “brighten” our minds we need more alpha.


    Here’s Dr. Fehmi with one of my fellow participants:


    I can produce more Alpha brain waves (and so can you) by listening to Open Focus guided exercises and noticing how I’m paying attention in any moment. You don’t need the neurofeedback machines to train your brain. Though I recommend it. It gave me a rapid and accurate way to recognize what it feels like to “be in alpha”, and what I was thinking or not thinking about to get there.


    There are still places available in the Fehmi’s upcoming May 2011Open Focus Workshop in Princeton, but as a result of the release of his second book “Dissolving Pain” in September, seats are going more quickly than usual. It’s an opportunity to work directly with the Fehmi’s, and to begin the process of gaining CERTIFICATION as an Open Focus Trainer. If you work with clients or patients, you’ll be able to offer them another service – and potentially another source of income for yourself. To learn more, watch the video below, and go to http://www.openfocus.com/WORKSHOP.html.




    Children and Open Focus Attention: Susan Shor Fehmi



    If you have experience with Open Focus brain exercises, or with other ways to overcome anxiety and get unstuck, tell us about them. What works? What doesn’t? Thanks!


    Related websites for more information:
    Les and Susan Fehmi’s Open Focus and consulting practice websites
    Dissolving Pain – Using Your Attention and Open Focus

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    The 2010 Self Employment Telesummit


    I started this blog after I was laid off for the 4th time in six years. I figured this was enough of a message from the universe that the time had come to try something new and different, and start my own online business.


    Become a Learning Machine!

    I’ve had fun becoming a learning machine and slowly but surely turning my vision into reality. I’ve also spent many hours feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.


    Many of the people I know who lost their jobs and income have been hard at work starting businesses. Most of those businesses have a significant online component – and that’s the challenge for many of us. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. If you’re doing start-up on a shoestring, chances are you’re doing everything online yourself.

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    Getting Others to Support Your Dream

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    “These days we’re experts at ‘hot-syncing’ — getting different pieces of technology, like BlackBerrys and PCs, to talk to each other. Few of us, however, are experts when it comes to hot-syncing with other people.” —Mark Goulston, MD, author of Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone

    Hot-syncing: How to Get Through to Anyone

    by guest blogger Jeffrey Cohen;  Jeff is an Executive Coach in New York City


    Have you noticed that some people have a knack for getting through to people, convincing them to buy into their plans, goals and desires? It may seem like magic, but it really isn’t.


    Mirror Neurons

    When the brain’s “mirror neurons” fire, we have the ability to be transported into another person’s mind, briefly making us feel what the other person is experiencing. These cells are nature’s way of teaching us to care about other people.


    Neurologist V.S. Ramachandran, director of the Center for Human Information Processing at the University of California, San Diego, calls them “empathy neurons” or “Dalai Lama neurons,” as they dissolve the barriers between self and others. So, what’s the secret to activating the “mirror neurons” when you’re talking to someone?


    Rewire Yourself to Listen

    Many of us don’t listen well, especially with the people we deal with each day. We think we already know what they’re going to say. We interrupt. We try to top their story with a better (or worse) one of our own. We talk around, over and up against people, with little actual listening to them.

    Read More »

    The Power of More than One

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    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
    —Margaret Mead

    What do Jack Canfield and Dorothy Parker have in Common?


    What do Jack Canfield, Will.i.am (Black-eyed Peas), Dorothy Parker, and Kellie Frazier have in common? All of them participate (or did, in the case of Dorothy) in Mastermind groups. You’ve probably read Napoleon Hill”s definition of a mastermind alliance in his classic, “The Law of Success”, as “two or more minds working actively together in perfect harmony toward a common definite object.” Just like these very successful people, each and every one of us needs other people to achieve our dreams, no matter how inspiring, directed, persistent, talented, and motivated we are.


    One of the key pieces of Structure that you’re missing when you’re the COE (Chief Of Everything) of your own home-based operation, is the social piece. When you have a job, you have other people around you who are expecting things from you. Working from home, alone, in start-up mode, who do you talk to who believes in you …who helps you overcome challenges…who brainstorms and discusses pros and cons of Choice A versus Choice B with you?

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    Getting from Today… to the Life You Want


    STRUCTURE and routine provide the framework for creating the life you want. The trick is in the balance, because, just like anything else, you can have too much of a good thing. Too much routine may mean you’re “stuck in a rut”. Not enough means you may be sleeping a lot and doing whatever you feel like doing whenever you feel like it….but you’re not getting anywhere. It’s hard to get the balance right without a regular connection with a trusted team of supporters.


    From Being Laid Off to Empty Void

    When you’re laid off, you’ve been tossed out of your routine. All structure is gone. There was an order and predictability to your life that suddenly disappeared, replaced by a sudden vast emptiness, one day after another. Sound familiar? Sure, when I was laid off I was in a state of euphoria at first, loving the freedom from the tyranny of alarm clocks and commuting, and the chance to sleep in and unwind. That got old quickly. I realized that even though I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing next, I needed some structure and goals. So I hired a coach and who guided me through the self-discovery and exploration process. We worked together for a year. Now I have a Vision and a Plan and a Purpose. I work from a home office, and I can set my own hours. I love it!

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