Blog Header

Priming YourselfOn what do you prime yourself? It matters…really.

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 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 I didn’t want influencing my son.

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.

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 potential negative impact those novels could have. That is truly when I switched to reading medical examiner crime novels. 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 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 prime myself to 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 believe yourself to be. This will prime you to 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. This will prime you and the one you are encouraging.

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

As Pat Riley says, “If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.”

(c) 2018  Mary Jane Mapes  All rights reserved.

Respond NegativelyDo You Respond Negatively?

A couple days ago I was on the inside lane of a four-lane street headed into town – two lanes in each direction, with lots of stops and starts. The traffic was heavy and the cars were travelling fairly close together.

Without notice, the young woman driving in the car ahead of me, switched lanes with a sharp turn into the path of a driver in the outside lane, barely missing his car.

Clearly furious, with hardly a moment to think, he laid on his horn while jerking his car into the inside lane, doing the same thing to me that she was guilty of. Only he then immediately cut sharply back in front of her car, coming inches from causing an accident.

I’d be less than honest if I didn’t tell you that my first thought was, “Jerk.” But my next thought was, “He’s so angry with her that he never even looked to see if there was another car in the left lane. He’s retaliating.” His actions based on, what appeared to be, an automatic negative response, could have ended in disaster for all of us. Fortunately, it hadn’t.

Does this sound familiar? Have you ever experienced anything like what I just described? Am guessing you have.

Most people react to a negative situation with negative thoughts, but not everyone acts on those thoughts in a negative way. They’ve trained themselves to think differently – and for good reason.

If you are one who typically responds negatively, are you truly aware of the consequences?

In the case of the driver mentioned, it could have resulted in an accident or, at worst, a fatality.

Most negative thoughts do not lead to death. But habitual negative thinking – unconscious negative thoughts – can lead to other maladies – like illness, chronic stress and depression, heart disease, poor relationships, job loss, energy loss – the list goes on.

A major key to good health, better relationships, job promotions, extra energy, greater joy, more peace, and an overall more successful life, is to get control of your thought life. Get control of your thought life and you get control of your life. As difficult as it may seem, it’s totally possible. It just takes a desire to become more aware of what you’re  thinking at the time you’re thinking it, and make the decision to reframe your thoughts. Positive thoughts lead to positive behaviors, and that leads to more positive results.

If you have a tendency to respond negatively about anything and are ready to make a change, here are some helpful suggestions. Get yourself a journal or a spiral bound notebook and capture the following:

  • Identify an area in your life where you’d like to think more positively. Is it work? A relationship? Yourself? Life in general?
    • The moment you experience something that results in upset or disappointment or a letdown or any other negative thought, push pause. Think about your thinking. Then ask yourself: What just happened to trigger that negative internal reaction? What was I thinking? How did that thought impact how I am feeling?
    • Ask yourself: Will this thought get me where I want to go? Does it give me energy? Does it lead to peace? Does it enhance my own self esteem? Does this thought build up or tear down? Will it get me the outcome I desire?  If not, then ask yourself the next question.
    • What thought will? OR, given what IS, what positive thing can I do to move forward with greater energy and joy and productivity?

For example, many years ago I served on a board with a man whose personality I found offensive.  Needing his support to accomplish my goals, a more positive relationship was required. He wasn’t about to change so the change had to come from me. I made the decision that whenever I caught myself thinking negatively about him, I’d look for something good to say about him – focusing on his strengths, not his limitations. In other words, I’d reframe my thoughts and respond in a positive manner.

For example, one time we were in a meeting, and he started bragging about something he had done. Recognizing my irritation with him, I pushed pause and reframed on the spot. My reframe led me to say to him, “That’s what I like about you, Milton. You’re good at organization and implementation, and you’re not afraid to let others know of your strengths.”

All that was true. It just took me recognizing the truth in what he was saying as opposed to being irritated with, what seemed to me at the time, his bragging. As a result, he felt good about himself, he felt good about me, and, in truth, I felt better about me, too.

After years of making this change, our relationship evolved into friendship and advocacy for one another.

(If you’d like to go deeper into ways to transform your relationships, click here.)

  • Create a two-column chart. Consider those things you tend to think negatively about: yourself, another person, work, etc.
    • In the first column, write out what you tend to say when you talk to yourself.
    • In the 2nd column, write out a more positive response for each.
      For example:

Negative Thought                                  Reframed Thought.

She talks too much. She speaks with joy and adds positive energy to any discussion.
We just don’t have the resources to do the job. If we’re resourceful, we just might find a solution we’ve never considered before.
No one ever tells me. I’ll ask for what I want and provide the best way to notify me.

Whenever you find yourself exaggerating the negative, filtering out the positive, blaming, complaining, anticipating the worst, or engaged in any other negative thought pattern, pause. Reframe with something that allows you to move forward with positive energy.  You’ll accomplish more, be happier, find yourself smiling more often, experience more positive relationships, and like yourself better, too. And the best part?  Do this consistently and you’ll actually change your habits of thought.

As Norman Vincent Peale stated: “There is a basic law that like attracts like. Negative thinking definitely attracts negative results. Conversely, if a person habitually thinks optimistically and hopefully, his positive thinking sets in motion creative forces, and success, instead of eluding him, flows toward him.”

Discover the power to be found in your habits of thought and what you can do if you think negatively – you can get it by going here now.




Leader Primed for InfluenceAre you primed for influence?

How you are primed makes a difference.

What do John Kennedy, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and Ronald Reagan all have in common besides the fact that all are remembered as powerful leaders?

Answer: All were leaders whose words rocked the world, inspired millions, and helped change the course of history for generations to come. All were “primed for influence.”

Below is a quote from each that has had lasting influence:

“Our problems are manmade—therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” – John Kennedy

“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives: Be kind anyway. If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies: Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank people will try to cheat you: Be honest anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight: Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous of you: Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten by tomorrow: Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough: Give your best anyway.” – Mother Teresa:

“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.” – Martin Luther King

“These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war.” – Ronald Reagan’s words spoken to honor the Army Rangers who helped liberate Europe from Nazism

What is so special about the words of leaders primed for influence?

Words of leaders primed for influence express hope, right living, encouragement, and honor for self and others.

What about your words – words spoken by everyday leaders? You don’t need to be a world leader for your words to influence beyond anything you could think or imagine. Your words have the explosive power to imprint a life (your own and others) and change the course of one’s destiny, for better or for worse.

I remember years ago sitting in a program presented by Ron Willingham, author of the excellent book, Selling for the 21st Century. Ron shared with his audience a painful time from his childhood when making model wooden airplanes was all the rage. Ron, excited to try his hand at making one of his own. He painstakingly created a model airplane by gluing together dozens of pieces ever-so-carefully, piece by piece by piece, and then took it to show his parents. As he held out his “work of art” for his father to appreciate, his dad looked at the airplane and then looked at Ron’s mother and said, “Do you think he’ll ever learn to do anything right?”

Cut to the quick by his father’s words, Ron took his model wooden airplane to the burn barrel at the back of their home, tore it apart piece by piece, dropped it into the inferno, and watched it go up in flames. Ron never again attempted to make a model wooden airplane. Based on Ron’s story, his father was primed, but not for positive influence.

Words are reflective of the track we run on. One leads to hope, another to despair. One leads to encouragement, and one leads to discouragement. One leads to life and the other to death. What track are you running on? Do your words honor and respect you?  Do they honor and promote others or do they disrespect and harm? Do your words encourage and uplift you? Do they elevate and transform others’ lives or do they bring down and destroy? Do your words create harmony and build unity or do they separate and divide?

Because only you have the power to prime yourself for influence, only you can change the thoughts you think (what you say when you talk to yourself) and the words you speak.

Click here to learn more about my Influential Leader Program, which will give you what you need to prime yourself for influence and success.

Here is my personal challenge for you: For the next week take note of the words you speak. Take a piece of paper and draw a T with a horizontal line across the top and a  vertical line down the center of the page, creating two columns. Label the heading over the right column BUILDING UP. Label the heading over the left column TEARING DOWN. Then each time your words add something positive to your life or the life of another, make note of it. Each time your words make a negative impact on you or another, make note of it. At the end of the week, total each column. This will give you some idea as to how positive an influence you are on you and

in the lives of others.

In the meantime, check out my program, Influential Leader, as it contains powerful advice on how to prime yourself for influence and success.

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

© 2018  Mary Jane Mapes  All rights reserved.

What People WantDo You Know What People Want?

Do you know what people want? It pays to know. It’s so simple, it more often than not gets completely overlooked. My son could see what Michelle, a little girl in his third-grade class, wanted on her birthday. He understood at an early age what people want. Regardless of the age, it’s what all people want.

Her birthday was a special day because it was the day she was allowed to bring a treat to school to share with her classmates. She was excited about handing out candy to each child.

My son came home from school that day visibly upset. When I asked what happened to cause such a long face, he blurted out, “I don’t like my teacher anymore.” Inquiring further as to why, he said, “Today was Michelle’s birthday and she brought candy to school to give to all the kids. The teacher had a pinata hung in the middle of the room and she said to Michelle, ‘Michelle, let’s put your candy in the pinata.’ But Michelle didn’t want to. But the teacher insisted, ‘Oh, come on, Michelle. Let’s put your candy in the pinata; it’ll be fun.’ And she took Michelle’s bag of candy and put it in the pinata. I looked at Michelle, and I could tell from her face that she wanted to cry. She didn’t want to put her candy in that stupid pinata. I don’t like my teacher anymore.”

I don’t care who you are. Hardened criminal or newborn baby. CEO or custodian. Family patriarch or youngest grandchild. All people have the same basic need. All want to be heard and appreciated. According to William James, Father of American Psychology, the deepest human craving is to be found acceptable.

How do we demonstrate acceptance?

We take the time to listen. It seems plain and simple, doesn’t it? Yet, not so simple. And why is that?  Because most of us have never been taught to listen. We confuse hearing with listening. There are lots of things we hear, but do we truly understand the meaning of what is said?  I think not.  If we did, we’d find more productive and empathic ways of responding.

A friend says, “I’m not sure about my promotion. It’s a job I’m not familiar with and requires skills I’m not sure I have.”  And how do we often respond?  We say something like, “Oh, you won’t have any trouble. If I know you, you’ll have that job mastered in no time.”

Was that truly listening?  No. Quite the opposite. It simply dismissed our friend’s concern in an attempt to encourage. Instead of allowing our friend the chance to be heard, able to express the full extent of their fear, we, in essence, cut off any conversation that might lead to our friend gaining a new perspective that could the allay fear.

If we had simply responded with, “You sound concerned to be moving to a job you haven’t mastered yet,” they could have confirmed our understanding or clarified. We could then follow up with a question to get them thinking clearly about expectations for their job. For instance, if they responded, “Yes, I am concerned,” we could then ask an open-ended question like, “What leads you to think they expect you to know everything right from the get-go?”

A conversation that keeps focused on understanding your friend’s concern, followed by questions that get them thinking about the validity of their concern, would help them to a get a more objective view of the situation. With greater objectivity, they might even begin thinking of possible steps to take to get up to speed faster.

What is the greatest benefit to you?

Listening for understanding opens the door to true transformation.  Listening not only transforms the conversation, taking it to deeper levels of understanding, but transforms the relationship, taking it to high levels of trust between the two people.

Do you want to be that person who can transform even the most difficult  relationships, then click here to learn how the Influential Leader: Rise to Real Power in Business & Beyond can take you there.

Think you can learn what you need on your own? Perhaps you can, but why waste time and money and have no one to serve as a mentor or coach along the way. Don’t wait another minute or waste another dollar. Check it out here.  Guaranteed, it will pay off for you in spades.

#Leadership      #influence     #keynote speaker      #executive coach

© 2018  Mary Jane Mapes  All rights reserved.


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!