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MindfulnessMindfulness as a Success Strategy

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


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.
Build Trust

3 Ways Leaders Build Trust

Trust and integrity are inseparable. Both are fundamental to authentic, healthy relationships. And relationships are the bedrock of leadership. Here are three Powerful and Easy ways a leader (formal or informal) can build trust at work.

1) Coach…Don’t Coddle or Control.  You don’t have to have been around long to notice that when an employee’s performance needs improvement, coddling or making excuses doesn’t help the employee. Nor does trying to control through lecturing. Both methods leave the employee feeling inadequate. Whether coddling or controlling, both imply that the employee is incapable of figuring things out, and that, as you know, plays havoc with one’s confidence on the job.

On the other hand, coaching implies that the employee has the answer to his or her own performance issue; the employee just needs the questions that help discover what’s already inside of them. A good coach listens with understanding and discernment. A coach knows how to take someone through a line of questioning that allows the employee to discover for him or herself the path to improved performance.
Dallas Cowboy’s coach Tom Landry said it best:  Really, coaching is simplicity. It’s getting players to play better than they think that they can.
And that builds confidence themselves – and trust in their coach.
2) Contribute to the lives of others.  Invest energy in helping make life better for people.  For example, have you ever:
• received an unexpected thank you note for a bit of good advice you gave or for a helping hand you extended?
• received a card of condolence OR a surprise birthday or anniversary card from someone you least expected to send one?
• been given a congratulatory note for a well-deserved promotion or raise or some type of recognition?I’ll never forget the time I served on a board and headed up a major fund-raising campaign.  Afterwards, I received a note from another board member who wrote, “It has not gone unnoticed how hard you worked to make our fundraiser a roaring success. I so appreciate your contribution of time and energy to help raise money for deserving kids in our community.”We work hard and yet many times our efforts seem to go unnoticed. Though we may not be working for compliments, but results, a note of appreciation is still the icing on the cake. When people do take notice, don’t you tend to move them to the top of your list of people who care?  Though nothing new, Poet Maya Angelou eloquently stated: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”  And when you make people feel genuinely good about themselves, they tend to trust you more.

As the Book of Proverbs states: Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.

3. Don’t suck up; offer up specific, helpful feedback. Be the kind of person others go to for honest feedback because they know you’ll give it – not simply feedback about what they’ve done, but also about how they’ve done it. Help others see the connection between their intentions and their impact.

Avoid being the person who merely flatters. Most people know that flattery is 50% soft soap and 50% lie and that kind of feedback won’t serve them in the long haul. Instead, give feedback others can learn from, whether positive or constructive. You will get known as someone who genuinely wants to see others grow and improve. That kind of caring produces trust.

Want to know more about how leaders create authentic, trusting relationships needed to expand their influence and impact, able to leave a larger legacy? Click here.


Are you looking to transform your business relationships and alter perceptions? Do you want to lower stress and anxiety and increase the recognition and rewards? Then try my 5 Step Power Process. Here’s a bird’s eye view:

P=Produce a relationship vision. Everything that has ever been created began with vision.
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. 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. The mental pictures that you carry around with you have a strange way of materializing. First conception, then birth. It works the same for the relationships you want.

However, before producing your relationship vision, it’s important to gain insight into why people behave as they do. And, why they communicate the way they do. Armed with this information, you are better able to create the vision that will get you the outcomes you want. Visualize the relationship you want, and then act as if you already have it. This is the P in the 5 Step POWER Process.

O=Observe and Alter Your Beliefs. Your beliefs drive your actions. To transform relationships you need to know you and what you believe about yourself and others. This includes how you acquired those beliefs (that drive your thoughts and feelings and, ultimately, your actions), and how to bring those beliefs to the light of day and change any that aren’t serving you. This is the work of the leader who wants and needs transformed relationships in order to be successful. This is the O in the 5 Step Power Process.

W=Wait for the Real Message. Only when you understand what others want and need from you and how to help them get it are you able to consciously build trust. Genuine trust is a requisite to truthful, authentic relationships. Not only does your ability to wait for the real message require a skill set that most people lack (primarily because they were never taught), but the right mindset needed to remain open is mandatory. All of this begins with self-awareness and self-management, the next step in the 5 Step Power Process. Without self-awareness, you’ll never know what is getting in your way of waiting for the real message of another to be revealed.  Armed with self-knowledge, self-management, and the ability and skills essential to know another, you are well on your way to creating relationships built on trust and understanding – foundational to real influence.  This is the W in the 5 Step POWER Process.

E=Exercise Self-Awareness and Control. Captain Sully Sullenberger, the pilot of US Airways flight 1549 who landed his plane in the Hudson River after flying into a flock of geese, became an overnight hero. It wasn’t so much that he saved the lives of the 155 passengers on board who walked away with barely a scratch. Rather it was his ability to remain calm in the midst of a crisis and make the right decision that gained him hero status. This ability doesn’t just happen; it is learned. And it begins with self-awareness and the ability to self-manage, able to control the mind and emotions in any situation. Learning how to do that makes it possible to choose positive responses that lead to less stress, more harmonious relationships, better decisions, and greater influence. This is the E in the 5 Step Power Process.

R=Root Out Your Anger. Anger can be used for both positive and negative ends. Therefore, its vital to understand the root causes of anger and what’s required to gain control and channel your anger for productive results. Armed with this ability, you can avoid the negative mental, emotional, and physical consequences associated with anger and, instead, use it productively to strengthen relationships. Without this knowledge, you become a slave to your emotions–and that rarely, if ever, leads to stronger, trusting ties with others.  This is the R in the 5 Step Power Process.

This is a Leaders’ 5 Step POWER Process to Real POWER in Business and Beyond: Authentic, honest trusting relationships.

Do you want to transform your relationships and alter perceptions (even with those who could make or break your career)?  Do you want to decrease stress and anxiety and increase recognition and rewards?

If you answered yes to either or both questions above and want to dive deeper into the process, click here to discover how.

(c) 2018  Mary Jane Mapes  All rights reserved.

#Influence   #Leadership   #Power   #Relationships   #Transformed Relationships

YOung woman contemplating
Have you ever struggled to communicate or influence a direct report, boss, more senior leader, peer, vendor, or client? Is there someone in your organization with whom you grapple to even connect? Have you ever wished you had a magic wand that could make connections, communication, and relationship building easier? Well wish no longer. Adopt the habit of seeing from The P.I.G. Perspective.™  By seeing from The P.I.G. Perspective, I’ve been able to turn my greatest adversary into my greatest advocate, and, in all likelihood, you can, too. In fact, The P.I.G. Perspective makes it possible for you to connect, communicate, and influence almost anyone.

Just exactly, what is The P.I.G. Perspective? Simply stated, it’s your ability to see through the eyes of someone else – namely, your P.I.G., an acronym I used in my 2011 bestseller, You CAN Teach a Pig to Sing, to describe that person with whom you struggle to connect, communicate and cultivate a trusting relationship, necessary to becoming a truly influential leader.

A P.I.G. could be a Particularly Irritating Guy or Gal.  But it could just as easily be a Pompous Inane Gasbag, a Pesky Incessant Griper, a Purely Impossible Gossip….or it could be a Positively Intelligent Guy or Gal, a Pretty Influential Guy or Gal with whom you strain to connect, and yet desire a trusting relationship in order to build alliances and gain the support and advocacy you want and need to be successful.

The P.I.G. Perspective, as you might guess, is your ability as a human being to take a different perspective. For example, let’s say you are a supervisor in an organization that is undergoing massive change. With that change has come added stress for you because, as people are being taken off their regular assignments to work on projects that support the larger change, you are left with fewer people to do more work. As a result, those left in your department are resisting the additional workload and you’re experiencing greater moments of conflict.

This is where I’d suggest you close your eyes and try to imagine yourself in the shoes of one of your P.I.G.s, an employee from whom you are experiencing great resistance to the current workload. Try to see the current situation as that employee might see it. Then ask yourself, as the P.I.G., three questions:  “What do I want that I’m not getting in the workplace?” “What am I currently thinking and feeling?” and “What is my greatest fear?” Once you’re tried on your employee’s perspective, consider how your P.I.G.’s perspective differs from your own.

By taking on The P.I.G. Perspective, you gain a deeper understanding of the current situation from your employee’s point of view. You also find it easier to recognize the resistance as another point of view, rather than something the other guy is doing to make your life miserable.

Once you are able to see things from another’s point of view, it’s easier for you to give up the need to control how the other guy thinks and open yourself to being authentically interested in your P.I.G.’s perspective. By genuinely listening to understand, you lower the tension between the two of you and you increase trust. With increased trust comes greater power to influence in a positive direction – allowing you to lead rather than shove. It also puts you in a better position to make wiser decisions.

And the best part? By taking The P.I.G. Perspective, you become more magnanimous in your responses to those who differ with you, and able to value and learn from all people.

Are you willing to try on The P.I.G. Perspective?

Want to Transform Relationships and Alter Perceptions? Find out how by clicking here.

(c) 2018  Mary Jane Mapes  All rights reserved.

#leadership #relationships #communication #influence