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drift into lala land while listening to bossHow Present Are You?

First, let’s define what it means to be “present.” To be present simply means to be consciously in the “now,” not focused on the past or the future. It means being free from judgment, aware of and able to calmly acknowledge and accept what you hear, see, smell, taste or feel what’s right in front of you – or inside of you, including your own body sensations. It is a heightened state of awareness.

What Does “Not being Present” Look Like?

You’ve undoubtedly experienced taking a trip, arriving at your destination and barely able to recall how you got there. Or sitting through a meeting and being unable to relate to someone else what transpired in that meeting. All of us are guilty of not being present at some time or another.

But, are you present when others speak directly to you?  I know that you know when others aren’t present to you. They fidget; they try so hard to keep eye contact that they seem to be staring at you; they say, “uh, huh” or make other non- verbal responses at inappropriate times.  The list goes on. But do you ever do this to others?  Hopefully not because the consequences can be significant.

What’s the biggest consequence of not being present?

The biggest consequence of not being present can be the stress, anxiety and illness that can come with negative thoughts that stampede through your mind with no bridle to rein them in, unable to choose a more productive and healthy path.  In the case of not being present to other people, it can mean the loss of trust and credibility. Not only does our lack of presence feel disrespectful to the other, it can often leave that person feeling sapped of energy, and unlikely to seek our presence again any time soon.

Even if you’re guilty of not being present much of the time, don’t beat yourself up. The mind is a tricky thing. Staying present requires some practice. Of the 55,000 to 60,000 thoughts we think a day, most are spent focused on the past or the future. That means that they’re not focused on the present. Add to that the fact that the nature of the mind is to wander…moving from one random thought to another. No wonder it’s difficult to stay present to someone without our thoughts wandering or free associating with something the other has just said.  For example, someone mentions to you that they’re going on a cruise to the Holy Land and immediately your mind free associates the Holy Land with a trip you once took to Rome and your visit to the Vatican. You’ve left the present for the past. It happens so automatically, you don’t even notice – unless you practice being present.

How Do You Practice Being Present?

The brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised, just like any other muscle of the body we want to develop. To build the mental muscle that makes it easier for us to remain present, able to gain control over our mental, emotional, and physical well-being, some basic practice is in order.

The easiest and most basic practice is to focus on your breathing. The moment your attention moves from your breath to a random thought, simply notice and bring your attention back to your breath. Start practicing 5 minutes a day. Gradually, increase the time you spend staying present to your breath.

Personally, I have found it easier to practice focusing on my breath if I switch it up. First, I focus on breathing my breath and then I switch to my breath breathing me. The moment, a thought enters in, I’m right back to focusing on my breath.

This simple act of focusing on your breathing and remaining present to that, helps to build your mental muscle, aware the instant your thoughts begin to wonder.  This creates a heightened state of awareness. And the best part? The sheer act of focusing on your breathing lowers any stress response you might be experiencing and returns you to a state of internal relaxation and calm, and literally helps to shrink the part of your brain responsible for stress and anxiety while making it possible to choose healthier, more positive thoughts, exercise your creativity, and make better decisions.

Think of how much you miss every day simply by not being present. You can begin to change that today. Not only will you experience more opportunities to choose the best for yourself, it will put you in the best position to be present for others, able to have more authentic, more positive interactions.

Want to know more about the power of presence and your ability to influence others?  Click here for Influential Leader: Rise to Real Power in Business & Beyond.

Want to experience less stress and anxiety while increasing recognition and rewards?  Stop wasting time and money trying to do it alone. Go here now so that you don’t do a repeat of this year next year.

© 2018  Mary Jane Mapes All rights reserved.

#Leadership      #influence     #keynote speaker      #executive coach

 

 

Alternate Reality

Do You Focus on an Alternate Reality? Just exactly what is an “alternate reality?”  It’s a reality that’s quite different than what you might initially assume.  For example, have you ever gotten upset with someone who didn’t respond to your phone calls and seemed to be ignoring you, only to discover an alternate reality – that that person had been out of country or away on vacation at a location with limited or no Internet service?

Or, have you ever had an elderly customer “bark” at you rudely, and your first thought was to “bark” back in indignation with the words, “Let me get someone else to wait on you,” but caught yourself with the thought, “Why is this person so angry? Why am I so peeved with this woman?” And that’s when you realized that that person reminded you of a relative who lived in chronic pain and whose anger was an expression of her pain. Ah, a possible alternate reality. Instead of “barking back,” you instead responded kindly with the words, “How may I be of service to you?” She told you what was bothering her, and you listened to her explain her predicament and were able to devise a plan to help her solve her problem.

It’s important to remember that there’s almost always more to the story than meets the eye. To make the most of every interaction and change the trajectory of the communication, whether at work, in the community, or at home, consider an alternate reality. With that in mind, exercise General Marshall’s formula for listening that he summed up in three little sentences:

  • Listen to the other person’s story.
  • Listen to the other person’s full story.
  • Listen to the other person’s full story first.

To discover more about how to discover the alternate reality, check it out here. If you remember the late American stand-up comedian, actor, and social critic, George Carlin, you will appreciate his take on an alternate reality when he said this:

“Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty.

I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.”

Go here now to gain a deeper understanding of how putting the above into practice can help you transform your less than wonderful relationships, and, at the same time, lower stress and anxiety and increase recognition and rewards – greater influence, able to make a larger contribution.

© 2018  Mary Jane Mapes All rights reserved.

#Leadership      #influence     #keynote speaker      #executive coach

 

Aligned Leader 1Traits of an Aligned Leader

When you’re an authentic aligned leader (someone who lives and makes decisions based on your values and what you believe to be morally and ethically right and wrong), some amazing things happen.

Aligned leaders create a culture of trust within the organization, which is fundamental to being the kind of leader others desire to follow.

You are an aligned leader (and therefore a trustworthy leader) if you consistently choose to be guided by the invisible realm of the spirit, living life in accordance with universal laws and principles.

When acting in alignment with universal truths and with who and what you profess to be, you do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

You may not feel respectful of others at all times, but you are.

You might be tempted to act unethically, but you don’t.

You may not feel like forgiving, but you do.

Why? Because your operating system is powered by something greater than ego, habitm and impulse – it is powered by an authentic spiritual realm.

Aligned leaders will then witness some remarkable changes in your direct reports:

  • They respect your choice to make a difference in the world and your commitment to fulfilling your purpose for being.
  • They see your wisdom in choosing to remain faithful to something greater than you.
  • They sense your commitment to them and their well-being.
  • They recognize you as a leader whose word is your bond, who is fair in your dealings, respectful of others, and who gives credit where due, living a life of purpose and reverence.
  • They sense they are safe with you and can trust you.
  • They recognize you as a person of noble character.

As a result, they choose to follow you and to do willingly that which they would not ordinarily do.

Because you are consistently aligned, you are not only trustworthy, but you are a powerful person who possesses the ability to transform yourself, your relationships, and your organization.

Of course, there’s so much more that goes into this.

Click here to learn more about my Influential Leader Program, which will give you proven ways to positively impact employee commitment, decrease absenteeism, reduce costly turnover, and increase productivity.

There are so many benefits to being a part of this program:

  • You can sell your ideas so people can actually HEAR what you’re saying.
  • You can start leading people to your desired objectives with less pushback.
  • You can get to the root of negative behaviors before they inflict damage.

And that’s just the beginning.

Head over there now to see what it’s all about!

MindfulnessMindfulness as a Success Strategy

Let’s talk about mindfulness, which seems to be the new buzzword these days.

Why?

Because mindfulness could hold the secret to your success.

So, what exactly is it?

Mindfulness is, essentially, being aware. Some call it a type of meditation. It is the deliberate focus of one’s energy on the present moment and nothing else.

It can be useful as a time of reflection, slowing pace, redirecting our efforts, or simply taking a mental pause from the busy distractions of life.

Science is revealing benefits ranging from physical healing to a potential cure for depression. It is also said to increase our brain function in immeasurable ways.

So this begs the question: how can mindfulness help me as a leader?

Well to begin with, if you have a tendency to be constantly busy, this inability or unwillingness to step away, even for a few minutes, could be sabotaging your clarity and long-term focus, and ultimately your potential to achieve at the highest level.

How often do you stop the spin cycle of life, evaluate where you are, give your mind a rest, and re-set your compass?

One of the critical and sorely understated benefits of the practice of mindfulness is mastery over our own emotions. It should go without saying that leaders must have the ability to manage their mind.

We cannot forget that our outer world is simply a reflection of our inner world.

A leader must be stable and consistent, but stability and consistency are not inborn personality traits. They are learned disciplined habits that require intentional practice and refinement.

How do we acquire these skills and traits associated with mindfulness?

By reflection, accountability, clarity, focus, practice, and discipline. Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis will help tremendously.

Action step:

Ask yourself the following questions:

1) How often do I give myself a mental break to refocus?

2) What benefits could I gain from mindfulness, or a similar type of intentional mental relaxation and focus?

3) What is my current struggle with regards to mastering my emotions?

4) If I could enhance my awareness of my emotions and exercise more control of how I express them, what impact could that have on my ability to influence?

If you can answer these questions honestly and with some vulnerability, it can go a long way to improving your success path and inspiring those around you.

We’re just scratching the surface with these and other powerful concepts that can increase your development as an influential leader!

I invite you to click here to check out my Influential Leader Program that will show you step by step how to dramatically increase your leadership capacity, resulting in higher morale, employee retention and productivity.

 

Woman on beach reading

How often do you think about how you prime yourself?  When my son was in high school, I found I needed to pay close attention to his choice of music. He loved anything hip hop, and seemed to “pig out” on it.  While much hip hop music is benign, I noticed that when it spilled over into rap, it seemed to have a harder edge and contained more hardcore lyrics. That was certainly not the kind of thing I wanted priming my son mentally or emotionally.

Psychologists report that what you watch, listen to, and read (and even the conversations you engage in, I might add), have a direct impact on your mood, temper, and behavior, even how kind or cruel you might be.

Like certain foods, your mental diet can significantly affect you mentally, emotionally, and physically for better or for worse. And that kind of impact spills over into your relationships as well – at home and at work.

For example, when I was a young woman with two small children at home, both my kids would nap at the same time every afternoon. During that time, I’d take advantage of the quiet and read. A good friend of mine gave me my very first romance novel – I think it was called The Flower and the Flame. After that came a host of others of the same genre.

One day my husband came home unexpectedly while the children were napping, and I was reading one of those romance novels. I recall looking at my husband and thinking, “Well, he certainly doesn’t look like Fabio. And he doesn’t speak to me like Fabio speaks to his woman.”

In case you’re not familiar with Fabio, he is the Italian-born, American-naturalized fashion model of masculine virility who appeared on the cover of dozens of romance novels at the time. His face and physique became the image of the book’s male lead character – at least for me it did.

Looking at my husband that day, I remember feeling a mild disappointment that he didn’t look more like Fabio. That was the moment I knew the books had to go! Who could compete with that tanned, air-brushed body exuding unparalleled strength and sensuality?  Certainly, no one I knew. But with that awareness came the realization of the negative priming those novels could have. That’s when I switched to reading novels by Pat Conroy and Anne Tyler. Don’t laugh.

A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology discovered that a boost in moods and happiness could be experienced in just two weeks by listening to upbeat music. And the best part? The happier people are, the better their health, their relationships, and their overall level of success.

Studies done by NY University professor and psychologist, John Bargh, also pointed to the impact that words on the printed page have on a person’s behavior. He found that when his research subjects were exposed to positive words, they seemed more patient and less likely to interrupt others, while those exposed to negative words seemed less patient and more willing to interrupt rather quickly.

We prime ourselves every day by what we subject ourselves to – what we read, listen to, or watch. We aren’t just priming ourselves emotionally, but relationally. Therefore, if you want better relationships, doesn’t it stand to reason you should be priming yourself daily, renewing your mind daily, with the positive.

How can you prime yourself? How can you “pig out” on the good stuff? Here are just a few things you may wish to practice:

  • Every morning when you get out of bed, find a positive affirmation that works for you. The one thing I say to myself every morning out loud and with energy is Psalm 118:24:  This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it. That helps me start the day off on a positive note, while reminding me that I get to choose the mood I will carry throughout the day.
  • Instead of flipping on the negative news commentary first thing in the morning, find something inspirational to read that will remind you to be the person you think you are. This will kick off your day with a heighten awareness of putting your best self forward in all situations.
  • Instead of engaging in office gossip or bad-mouthing of any kind, become someone who looks for the best in every person you meet and encourage that person in the most genuine way possible.

WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR WORK RELATIONSHIPS?  Check out this awesome FREE training now! Click here.

It starts with youHow Vision Puts You in the Driver’s Seat

Have you noticed that you tend to find what you focus on?

Shortly after my book, You CAN Teach a Pig to Sing – Create Great Relationships with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere, was published, I was interviewed by Shelley Irwin of WGVU radio – a promo for a program I was going to be doing at Amway World headquarters. Shelley asked the inevitable question, “What is one thing people can do if they want to transform  difficult relationships?  My response is always the same:  Create a vision of the relationship you want, and then act as if you already have it.”

The power to visualize and then act to bring about the outcomes you desire is not restricted to transforming relationships. It’s true for anything you want to achieve.

Human beings have a tremendous power to visualize. In fact, your eyes are taking in approximately 4 million bytes of information per second, processing, and forming pictures in your mind’s eye. For example, if I were to write the words, “charging boar,” you wouldn’t simply see the words. Your mind would instantly draw up a picture of a charging boar based on a memory bank of experiences, whether from an actual wild hog hunting trip you’d taken, a Netflix Meat Eaters program you had watched, or perhaps from having seen a charging boar in a National Geographic Special on TV. You have the ability to picture almost anything in your mind’s eye, and that same aptitude plays a key role in what you are able to achieve. First conception, then birth. The mental pictures that you carry around with you have an uncanny way of materializing.

A Vision of the Relationship Kind

This summer I witnessed a perfect example of the power of vision.  A friend of mine had had a vision since she was a young woman of being married, having children, and living on a lake.  Years passed, turned into decades, and no marriage or children materialized for her.

Then, about 4 years ago, she said, “I’ve always pictured myself being married with children and living on a lake.  Well, there has been no marriage, no children, and no lake. I may not be able to do much about the first two, but I can live on, or at least near, a lake.”  She quit her job and found another one in a city located along the shores of Lake Michigan and moved.

Within the first year in her new location by the lakeshore, she was introduced to a widower and the two of them hit it off.  They had a remarkable number of common interests, and within the next three years those shared interests grew into love, and they eventually were engaged. On a beautiful day in July they exchanged marriage vows near the lakeshore, surrounded by his brood of young grandchildren who simply adore my friend, a loving woman, whom they have accepted with open arms as their grandmother. And his home? Did you guess? He has a lovely home on a beautiful lake that feeds right into Lake Michigan; his home has now become their home.

I believe that God gives us the desires of our heart.  We might not receive them when with think we will or hope we will, but somehow the timing ends up being just about perfect. But first we have to create the vision and commit to keeping faithful to the vision, for almost surely the day will come when we see that vision materialize.

It’s not just true of the marrying kind of relationships, but business relationships as well. And, of course, it’s not only important to know how to create the vision, but we need to do our part by making sure we have the mindset, behavior, and skills required to see it through.

If you want to transform your business relationships and alter the perception of those who can make or break your career, I can help you. If you want to become more influential and make a larger impact, click here for some amazing free training.

© copyright 2018  Mary Jane Mapes  All rights reserved.

Everything Starts with Your Intention
Are you aware of how your intentions drive your behavior? Are you aware of the impact your behavior is having on others? The following example shows you how intentions play out in behavior and the impact that that behavior can have on others’ perceptions of you.
John sat across the table from me. I was interviewing him to gather information to customize the interpersonal communication program for company directors in which he was to participate. He looked perplexed. Rubbing his forehead, he sighed, “Maybe you can tell me why I’m often told by others at staff meetings that I look disinterested in what’s going on.” Then he added, “And why people accuse me of being negative when I’m only trying to point out the potential hazards involved in moving forward on a project without proper investigation of the problems under discussion.”
“Are you acting disinterested? Do you sound negative?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “It’s just that some people at those meetings are long-winded. They blow a lot of hot air without substantial evidence to support their opinions. It takes them forever to say nothing. I’m so agitated by the time I finally get a word in edgewise, I probably sound negative. But I’m not. They just don’t realize that my intentions are positive. I’m only trying to make sure that the job is done right. Why can’t they see that my intentions are for the good of the company? You’d think I was the enemy.”
John was both hurt and baffled by others’ reactions to him. His intentions were positive, and yet no one else seemed to recognize it. This gave rise to feelings of frustration and a desire to withdraw from active participation at meetings. John was soon to discover something that would change his life and his power to influence: positive intentions, acknowledged and validated, put you in a position to influence.
If we could put human behavior under a magnifying glass, we’d see the intentions that direct people to act as they do.  Every behavior has a purpose, or a positive intent, that the behavior is trying to achieve, and those goals can change, depending upon the circumstances.
Intentions drive behaviors. Being aware of your own positive intentions and those of others can eliminate unnecessary frustration that often leads to conflict and hurt feelings, but only if you recognize and express those intentions.
John’s intentions may have been in the best interest of his company, but he didn’t take the time to recognize and express the validity of other people’s goals. Had he done so, not only would his behavior have been more productive (active participation versus withdrawal), but he’d have been in a more powerful position to influence.
If John has simply said, “I understand that your intent is to get product out the door; we cannot keep our customers waiting if we want to keep our customers. I can appreciate that. My intent is to make sure that we get to the bottom of what is causing our product issues so that our customers are not unhappy once they receive the product.” He could then have presented his evidence of the number of customer complaints, lost customers, or the amount of returned product. A valid discussion of the bigger picture would have been possible once all understood that everyone was communicating from positive intentions. Problem solving instead of conflict would have been possible.
Ian Percy wrote: “We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” Understanding and expressing our own intentions and those of others, puts us in a more positive light, better able to influence.
Want a clearer understanding of the 4 major intentions that drive behavior and the behaviors (both positive and negative) that indicate each intent? Click here.