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What you need to know.

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I am a business advisor and strengths coach (with 25+ years of business experience), and I’m using this blog to inspire readers to make simple, powerful changes to boost their performance and joy. Guest writers and I will primarily focus on:

1. Harvesting value from Gallup® strengths knowledge and application

2. Breaking free from imposter syndrome and “faking it” to a more authentic reality

Living authentically AND intentionally aiming your strengths daily is emancipating and powerful! This blog can help you with both.

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Interdependence Yields Better Results

I was brought up to be fiercely independent – not needing to rely on anyone or anything. I think many people can relate to this because it is part of our culture of independence in America.
Around 2010, JP Thompson – a student of mine, showed me how wrong my thinking had been and that it is ok to ask for assistance and to be interdependent. That paradigm shift was life changing for me. Without it, I would not be celebrating the fifth anniversary of BONSAI this month.

There are so many people on this journey who have helped transform hundreds of lives, and I am grateful to all of you – my mentors, clients, friends, and most of all, Patrick. You all gave me support, encouragement, advice, opportunity, wisdom, tough feedback when I needed it, and love. Most of all, I am thankful to my heavenly Father for creating me with these gifts and talents and providing wisdom, knowledge and direction when I asked.

Here are some diagnostic questions to see if you suffer from what I did with being too self-reliant:

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Resting Your Way to Productivity

In my office, I used to have a framed picture of an empty hammock on the beach with this quote at the bottom:

The art of doing nothing is really something.

I purchased it because I love beaches and hammocks without really thinking about the words written. I recall one day thinking, “When other managers read it, will they think I am lazy?” I have since started BONSAI and gained more wisdom through experiences and learning from those I coach. I have come to realize there is great truth in that proclamation.

Not Resting is on the Top 10 List with Murder
Yes, that reality hit me this morning during my quiet time. Not setting aside a day of rest (taking the Sabbath) is one of the Ten Commandments – as is not murdering. It never occurred to me in that light – God thought they were both of similar importance to put on the top 10 list.

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Up Close and Personal with Woo

I recently interviewed Hallie Thompson, who is about to receive her PhD in Plant Sciences and currently running for U.S. House of Representatives in Missouri, about her #1 strength, Woo. Gallup defines this strength as “loving the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over, deriving satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection.” See my previous blog for more details on using and working with Woo.

Remember, Woo doesn’t define you. It is a powerful strength that can be used to connect with others and make your passion, skills and true self shine!

It may be an unfair stereotype, but we often don’t associate Woo with being a scientist. What is that like? How does it help you?

My top strength is Woo. As a scientist with this strength, projects and collaborations are really easy to get started and difficult to wrap up. Having Woo as a strength can make popping in to a professor’s office easier when inquiring about a study as well as make tracking down a long lost protocol easier. It is also helpful to use my Woo perspective to give a unique piece of insight on an outreach project. With a number of different approaches to scientific study, we are all better off. Read the Full Article

Woo – More Than a Cool Name!

I heard a persistent knock on our home door one Sunday. When I answered, I had to adjust my gaze down about 3 feet to find the visitor. Little Caleb greeted me with a “Hi! What’s going on?” and continued to banter with me for about 10 minutes, sharing tales of adventure — including breaking a nightlight on his brother’s head (I unsuccessfully tried not to laugh). He then shared with me how he had visited all the neighbors on his green scooter hoping to chat and meet people. I smiled and thought, “Now, there is woo in the making!”

It’s funny how no other Gallup strength inspires more of a curiosity by those who don’t have it, and more of a flourish by those who do, when it is called out at a conference. We typically all yell in unison “Woohoo!” Let’s dive into a deeper understanding of this strength and its special ability to influence. Read the Full Article

Investing in Me and We

Thanks to Alex Sommer, Employment Branding Specialist at Nestle Purina North America, for contributing this article. 

In 2016, I started graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis – Loriana was my very first professor for a Building High Performance Work Teams class. She knows well that you can’t possibly build high-performing teams until you have an intimate sense of your own potential as a high-performer. So, she asked us to come prepared with our strengths results in hand, followed by days of deep discussion around the super powers we can leverage within us just by understanding how the strengths piece together.

As an already very self-aware individual, the results of my strengths test did not come as much of a surprise, but the meaning behind it did.

I came to many revelations after more deeply understanding the power of my number one strength (empathy) and the subsequent ones that weave the fabric of my life story.

What I didn’t know is what I can do with what I now know.

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Resolve to Check Baggage in 2018

I was reading Kevin Palau’s book Unlikely at the airport last week and thought a comment that the former mayor of Portland, Sam Adams, made in the foreword was insightful. Before meeting with Kevin Palau (minister and president of the Luis Palau Association), the mayor said he felt weary, had negative assumptions about the other party, but was hopeful and

“Circumstances pushed me to listen with very open ears … [and] their attitude was not at all what I expected.”

Subsequently, the two forged an unlikely partnership and friendship that has powerfully impacted Portland’s public schools in a positive way.  Read the Full Article

The Good, the Bad and the Grey Area

In the last year, I have noticed an increased polarization in thinking. Employees are often judging others as either all good or all bad vs. an ability to see shades of grey. This is concerning because it suggests that people are viewed as either extremely flawed or flawless, neither of which is usually anywhere near accurate. This type of decision-making erodes:

  • Teamwork
  • The inclusion of a diversity of perspectives
  • A healthy and enjoyable work atmosphere.

All of these outcomes undermine the effectiveness of an organization. Coaching suggestions to shift this thinking are at the end of this blog. Read the Full Article

Sharing Our Gratitude

As Thanksgiving approaches, a flood of people come to mind whose actions or words have positively affected me.

While Thanksgiving is often focused on the important 3F’s of the holiday, food, family and football (to quote a family member), it is also a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what we are thankful for. While I am certainly grateful for having a warm home and food and good health, my mind quickly shifts to people who have positively impacted my life and those I care about. The question, I realized is, “Do they know how I feel?”

A grateful heart changes us. Grateful words can change others.

Your challenge: Tell three people who may not realize their impact on you of your gratitude for them (and be specific).

Take this action immediately or you might forget (at least identify the individuals)! While I typically issue a challenge in my blogs, this is one I also am doing today. I plan to either call or write a personal note sharing my appreciation. Your action will certainly bless them, and it might be just the encouraging words they need to hear.

I am personally grateful to the many who have encouraged, supported, guided and assisted me in my journey. Above all, my husband Patrick has truly been a treasure and our marriage a gift from heaven that I never imagined was possible. I am most grateful for God giving His Son for us so that we might have eternal life with Him. I look with anticipation to the coming Christmas season as we celebrate this most precious and sacrificial gift.

I wish you and your family a most wonderful Thanksgiving!

Speed of Confession

How quickly do you confess when you mess up? During lunch today with a leader I highly respect, I realized that speed is an important component to admitting mistakes.

The conversation centered around, “How do you share a mistake in a way that will save face?” My suggestion was to reframe that question into, “How do you share the mistake in a way that is a teachable moment and builds credibility?”

Whether we realize it or not, people usually see our mistakes. It is how we react to our mistakes that builds credibility and character. Most people are more than willing to extend grace, especially if we own up to the mistake quickly. If the correction is made sooner rather than later, speed also reduces the likelihood of additional ramifications because the error wasn’t corrected in time. Read the Full Article

Change Your Energy, Change Your Influence

Energy, or lack thereof, is something we all bring to any situation. I am not sure, however, we are always in tune with its powerful impact. It’s like a ceiling fan. The speed can be so low that the fan isn’t noticed. Or, it may be cranked up, scattering anything that isn’t nailed down.

Where in this spectrum is your energy level? Do people notice your presence? Does it overwhelm them? Or, do you bring a level of energy that lifts people’s spirits, gets them excited about what’s ahead, and enables you to be of influence?

This is the second in my blog series on speed. My inner geek decided to find my old physics formula, and yes, energy is dependent on speed. Just like we can change our decision-making speed, we can also intentionally moderate our energy level. Read the Full Article