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As I left the post office today an older man held the door open for me.  I said thank you and smiled.  He said I’d like to ask you a question that you probably don’t know the answer to.  I thought to myself he’s probably right!  But –  I said O.K.

He asked what’s the longest word in the English language? I said Mississippi.  He said that’s a period in comparison.

He said it’s the word smiles because it starts with an S – ends with an S – and there’s a mile in-between.  He added that it’s so nice to see someone smile – something you don’t see too often.

Then our conversation went on like we were friends.  He said if I don’t see you before the Holiday have a good one.  I wished him the same and headed towards my car.  I turned back around to take another look at his face and he was gone.

It motivates team members!

It’s white, it’s typically a rectangular shape and it motivates team members!

Here’s a great tip to help you boost morale in minutes!

Good Gossip Counteracts Negative Gossip

Did you know that there’s such a thing as good gossip? And when you – as a leader – encourage good gossip you and your team will become happier and focus on the positives within one another. Here’s How.

Venting At Work

As I was eating dinner one night, I heard a loud noise – it was similar to a small explosion. I looked quickly around the house to see what happened. I saw nothing out of the ordinary so I finished eating. Then, while I was cleaning up, it dawned on me – I forgot to take the potatoes out of the oven. And worse yet – they exploded leaving an undesirable mess for me to clean up. Why did the potatoes explode? Well, I realized that the potatoes exploded because I forgot to provide them with an outlet to let the steam out that builds up inside of them as they cook. You know…you’re supposed to poke a hole in potatoes before you put them in the oven. I usually just stab mine with a fork.

Anyways, all of this leads me to talk about the human need to vent. Just as potatoes explode when they can’t vent so do people in one way or another. Yes, it’s human nature and it’s a healthy thing to vent our frustrations, concerns, disappointments, and etc.

There’s no doubt about it – people need to vent. But how we vent, especially in a work situation, is most important.

During my programs we talk extensively about constructive and destructive communication patterns. Venting can be both, destructive and constructive, depending on how and why it is done.

Let’s take a look at how venting is destructive. Venting is destructive when one employee has a conflict with another employee and instead of working things out with each other they consistently tell a third party about what’s going on and about how awful their co-worker is. Then the third party (perhaps a co-worker, supervisor, or yes, even a parent) listens repeatedly about what’s going on. Eventually the third party may inquire about the latest happenings. Now other employees and even the children may hear what’s going on. This is a very destructive way to vent because it creates a series of destructive communication patterns and keeps many people stuck in the negativity created solely by these two people who are in conflict. And let’s not forget that this type of venting is GOSSIP.

You may also witness similar destructive venting situations that arise from co-workers being disappointed by one another or frustrated from feeling like they always have to do more than their fair share of the work. Or a supervisor, who is frustrated with her employee and in turn, vents to a co-worker.

Venting in the workplace is also destructive when employees consistently bring their personal problems from home to work. An employee may need to vent about their boyfriend or problems with a family member. There are situations when it may be acceptable to talk about a personal problem at work – but for the most part it is destructive to vent about personal issues at work.

Can the need to vent be minimized? Absolutely! This is good news – right? As employees build the skills to help them work out issues directly the need to vent will decrease. Problems will be resolved. Issues will be discussed directly with the parties who need to be involved. (Skills that they may need to build include conflict resolution, self-confidence, and professionalism.)

Here’s how to vent constructively. If you need to vent, don’t deny your need. People who deny the need to vent often engage in other destructive behaviors. Some people hold everything inside until they explode – just like my potatoes. And just like my potatoes it’s not a pretty mess to clean up, especially if the explosion happens in the presence of children or parents. The most constructive way to vent is to journal about what’s going on. Journaling is simply writing down your frustrations, etc. Journaling helps take a load off your mind and transfers it on to a piece of paper. It’s a great tool. Journaling also helps you come up with solutions and move forward.

*IMPORTANT*
After you journal about a situation, you may find that you’re now emotionally ready to talk things out in a calm, professional manner. This is important. Venting sessions at work should be a rarity not a normal part of the day. However, brainstorming for solutions with co-workers is different than venting and it’s a positive and productive activity to engage in.

Other tools that people have used include writing a letter to that person and never mailing it. A comedian I once interviewed, Sandra Baker, said she writes her frustrations down on a piece of toilet paper and then flushes it. Some people exercise it out while others utilize a punching bag.

Another tool is to utilize a support group outside of work so you can vent to someone who does not know the person you are venting about. This type of venting does not damage your team and provides an outlet for your steam. Remember venting alone does not solve the problem, conflict, or frustration you’re facing but when done constructively, venting can help you to get beyond the emotional stuff and focus on facts, benefits, and most important solutions. The main thing is to vent in a constructive way so you don’t let a lot of negative thoughts get in your way of having a positive and productive day.

Difficult People – How to Cure What Ails Them

Difficult people have been described in my seminars as mean, rude, inconsiderate, selfish, controlling, unresponsive, unapproachable, and insincere. Books written about difficult people describe and analyze them in at least a dozen categories. It gets so confusing to know how to interact with difficult people in the most positive and constructive manner.

My objective is to help you understand difficult people and provide you with some very simple techniques that you can implement when dealing with them so that your life can become more productive and less stressful.

Why are people difficult? There are many reasons, but the one most dominating characteristic that I’ve found within difficult people is fear. They feel fear and therefore react by trying to control others.

Have you ever felt fear and reacted in a difficult way? Recently my computer crashed. I did not have any data backed up. I was upset with myself, with the manufacturer of my computer (it was less than one year old!), and with everyone who asked the question – did you back up your data? Additionally, it seemed that every technician I spoke with told me something different about the possibilities of restoring my data. I was fearful that I would not retrieve my data, so I became less than pleasant to deal with. The good news is I was able to retrieve most of my data. But in the interim, I was a difficult person.

What about people who are always difficult? There are people who seem to be difficult constantly. There’s one question we need to ask ourselves – Is this difficult person someone whom I have to deal with? For example, last year I did business with a person who was very gruff. I was her client. When I first visited her office, even her dog looked stressed. This should have been a sign! Recently I decided to give it one more try, and things were even worse. This time she actually swore at me. That was all I needed to end the relationship. I decided that I did not have to deal with this person. It’s crazy to think that I would actually pay someone to abuse me! Are there any difficult people in your life whom you don’t have to deal with?

So what about those difficult people who we have to deal with? Think about the relationships that are worth transforming from difficult to pleasant. Perhaps a co-worker or relative fits the description. Some of my clients tell me that they can fill two sides of a sheet of paper with names of people who are difficult. So where do we go from here?

The good news is that there are many strategies you can implement to transform these relationships.

Strategy #1 – React to difficult people unemotionally. Do not take difficult encounters personally! When someone is projecting his/her anger, frustration, or controlling ways onto you, remember that although it may seem like a personal attack, it has nothing to do with you. It does have everything to do with the difficult person. React unemotionally, let the person vent frustrations, and truly listen. This will help you keep a clear mind and a positive attitude.

Strategy #2 – Focus on facts, benefits, and most importantly, solutions. Understand what the person is saying and view things from his/her perspective. Don’t feel pressured to say you’re right, or I agree. Simply say I understand why you feel this way – and propose a solution; or ask, what can we do to solve this problem – whichever is most appropriate for your specific situation. This will increase your confidence in dealing with difficult people and begin the process of transforming the relationship from difficult to pleasant. Difficult people need to feel you’re on their side. This doesn’t mean you agree with them or that you play into their negativity. This means that you would like to work together to develop a solution. There’s a big difference.

Strategy #3 – Confront difficult people and fears directly. One of the toughest things about dealing with difficult people is dealing with your own fears about the difficult encounters. Your own negative thoughts can be an excruciating way of torturing yourself. Negative thoughts will cause you to procrastinate for hours and feel a ton of stress. Fill your mind with positive affirmations (It’s worth it, etc.) Listen to upbeat, mood-lifting music prior to your encounter. Be prepared to communicate openly with difficult people, address their fears, and propose ways to resolve them. Don’t play into negative gossip about the difficult person – instead simply walk away. Please keep in mind that venting and brainstorming for solutions is different from gossiping. Gossiping is complaining without taking action. Gossiping is destructive and leaves you with no solutions. Once you establish open communication with difficult people and address their fears, they will begin to trust you and feel that you are on their side. This is a tremendous turning point.

Strategy #4 – Use the power of graciousness. Graciousness is simply a kindness of spirit. In order to transform difficult relationships, we need to project kindness. I understand this can be tough. At this point, it will help you to keep your priorities in mind. Additionally, think of the benefits you’ll gain as a result of your efforts. Don’t pick difficult people apart and complain. Simply take corrective action, and focus on the positives. Thank difficult people verbally or through a hand written note for anything you possibly can, including advice, a response you’ve been waiting for, their interest, etc. This is a powerful strategy. It reinforces the desired behavior. If you’re offered advice, don’t debate why it won’t work simply say, Thank You I’ll keep that in mind. This reduces the stress that you’ll feel. Additionally, it takes away the tension and negative energy that usually accompanies these encounters. Remember, it’s not about being right – it is about transforming a relationship.

Relationships with difficult people can be transformed from difficult to pleasant. The strategies I’ve introduced are simple, but the follow through can be tough. It’s up to you to answer the question –Is it worth it? I’ve had much success when I’ve implemented the above strategies, and I know that they will work for you. Simply open your mind to the possibility that difficult relationships can be transformed, follow through on the above strategies, and always remain optimistic. Get ready to experience the joy that new positive and productive relationships will bring you!

Kiss Your Own Booboo

Do you know how kids fall down and need someone to kiss their booboos? It seems like the tears won’t stop and the pouts on their faces remain until they receive that magical kiss.

Well, a few months ago I was visiting my niece, Ashley. Let me tell you she’s a personality rich 3-year old. I was sitting on the back deck with a few family members while the kids were playing in front of us, around us, and sometimes on top of us. You know what I mean, right?

As they were playing, Ashley fell down and hurt her knee. I observed her from across the deck and noticed the corners of her mouth were beginning to veer down toward her chin. I thought for sure tears were coming with a frantic call for mom to kiss her knee and make it feel better.

But to my surprise she quickly looked around, noticed mom was not close by, and then bent over to kiss her own booboo. She looked up with a smile on her face and then took off running to play with the other kids. It was as if she thought: Hmmm, do I wait for someone to kiss it and make it better or do I kiss it myself so I can get on with playing and having fun? Yes, I’ll kiss it myself! Why wait?

I’ve reflected on this situation many times. Thinking about this little girl deciding to kiss her own booboo. Also thinking about how many times adults wait and wait and wait for someone to kiss their booboos. Yes, mostly their internal ones.

Perhaps it’s the feeling of not be appreciated or valued. You think your efforts are worth gold but it seems nobody notices. Or perhaps it’s the staff member who you bend over backward for but your efforts are hardly recognized. Or maybe it’s the team member who spreads rumors about you.

There’s one success strategy that I’ll share with you. It comes straight from a 3-year old child. Kiss your own booboo!

When you’re in a place where you think nobody appreciates you, appreciate yourself. On your way to work buy yourself your favorite flowers and proudly display them. Write yourself a thank you note for all the wonderful things you’ve done. Indulge in your favorite treat. Buy yourself something to celebrate. Bake yourself a cake. See one of your favorite movies in honor of yourself.

Sometimes you have to decide that it’s not worth the wait for someone else to recognize you or for a co-worker to stop her hurtful behaviors. Sometimes you have to kiss it and get on with it!

Pass It On You Make A Difference!

The other day I made a quick stop at the grocery store; and as most of you know, there’s really no such thing as a quick stop. Lines are long, there are too many people walking slowly in front of you, or there aren’t not enough check-out lines open. As I rushed around the store quickly trying to gather what I needed, I noticed a man in front of me. He was different from everyone else in the store. He had a smile on his face, a spring in his step, and he was singing. My attitude was changed instantly just from walking next to him. I couldn’t help but smile and feel good. He noticed me as I was checking out the Hostess shelf (I was stressed and I needed chocolate!). He said with a big smile on his face, “You don’t want to eat that stuff.” I tried to justify it with the fact that I was only going to purchase the low-fat products. I noticed that his cart was filled with fresh veggies and other unprocessed food. Enthusiastically, he told me that he’s preparing for an annual event that he calls “Fried Friday.” His family gets together on this annual event, and he spends the entire day cooking for them. “Everything from scratch,” he said. He asked me when the last time was that I ate homemade french fries. I told him that it’s been a while. He smiled and told me that I couldn’t come. I laughed and wished him the best.

My attitude was changed instantly because I caught what this gentleman was projecting! It’s powerful to instantly help change someone’s state of mind. I know that this gentleman is not aware of the difference he made in my life. He helped me to change my perspective and enjoy my day. Now when I get stressed, I think about him, and it puts a smile on my face.

Often we drift through life not knowing how many lives we’ve touched and made a positive life-long impact on. Think about the thousands of people you’ve come in contact with over your lifetime. How many of them have you offered a smile, a kind word, or a kind gesture to? It’s amazing how some of the smallest things that we do in our everyday life mean a great deal to others – sometimes helping them to change their lives.

Teachers are a great example of how kind words, a sympathetic ear, a caring glance, or a smile can help change a person’s life. I recently interviewed a group of eighth grade students and asked them who has inspired them to achieve more or feel good about themselves. Many of them stated that it was one teacher in their school. I asked them specifically what this one teacher has done for them. Their response – she says nice things and smiles. It makes us feel that she likes her job, likes being with us, and that she really believes in us. Some of the students recalled quotes such as seize the day that their teachers told them. The students stated that they’ll remember the quotes throughout their entire lives.

Robert Orr raised thousands of dollars to help find a cure for AIDS. Who did he pay tribute to for helping him help thousands of other people? A person whose words stills ring strongly in his years – a teacher who believed in him and gave him the opportunity to work on a school project when everyone else laughed at him. Robert said that teacher gave him the strength to turn his life away from drugs and build a successful business and life for himself.

Les Brown, author of Live Your Dreams, motivates millions of people around the world today, helping them to make positive changes and reach for their dreams in spite of their obstacles. Les speaks profoundly about the one person who made a difference in his life – Mr. Leroy Washington, his teacher. What did Mr. Washington do? In school Les was labeled educable mentally retarded. One day Mr. Washington asked Les to write something on the board. Les said: I can’t do that. I’m educable mentally retarded! Mr. Washington said: Never say that again! Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality!

It’s amazing to look at the chain reaction that happens when one person’s life is changed forever. Robert Orr’s life was changed by something very simple someone did for him, now many other lives have been changed because of Robert. Les Brown’s life was changed by a few words, now he helps millions of people to make positive changes in their lives. Where does the chain reaction of lives being changed stop? It doesn’t – the chain reaction carries on for generations!

I recently received a call from a school guidance counselor. He called to let me know how much he enjoyed my radio show and particularly a quote that I read on air. It was a quote by W. Mitchell – “It not what happens to us in life that matters, it’s what we do about what happens to us.” He said the day after my program he was speaking with a student who was going through some tough times. He shared the quote with the student, and it helped to change the student’s perspective.

One day while I was vacationing in Florida with a friend of mine, we were walking to a restaurant. There was a lady sitting alone in a booth. My friend smiled and waved at her through the restaurant window. She turned around to see if he was waving to someone else, and then smiled and waved back when she realized that she was the target of his kind gestures. I asked him why he waved at her. He said because she’s alone and now I probably made her day. He made a difference – and so do you.

There are many ways in our lives that we make a difference, whether it’s through the work we do or the love we give to our family, friends, or a stranger in need of a smile. I encourage you to think about the difference you make. Think about the older person you’ve held the door open for or the person you smiled at who was dining alone or the encouraging words you spoke to a child, parent or co-worker. Think about the chain reaction that carries on for generations when you offer a word of encouragement to a young child or a person who feels like a failure.

Realize that you make a difference, and let it fuel you to keep reaching for your dreams and soaring to new heights in your life!

10 Top Reasons To Eliminate Workplace Gossip

Reason #10

Motivate The Motivator

During a recent seminar, I asked participants what their motivation was for getting out of bed in the morning. I was expecting some profound statements such as: “I love my job,” “I’m looking forward to meeting a friend today for lunch,” or “I have an exciting project I’m looking forward to accomplishing.” The actual responses I received amazed me! One participant who was sitting towards the back of the room clearly stated that his sole motivation for getting out of bed is to go to the bathroom!

After this workshop, I started to think about self-motivation and who motivates the motivator. The motivator is someone who motivates and inspires others. Does this describe you?

On my radio program I had the opportunity to interview “The Motivator” himself, Les Brown. Les is a celebrity speaker and author of Live Your Dreams (a dynamic motivational book). He’s been my mentor and inspiration for years. I asked Les “Who motivates the motivator?” He stated that a daily plan of action is required to stay motivated. Les includes reading, meditation and prayer in his daily plan of action.

What can you do to generate daily self-motivation? There are many great tools for generating self-motivation. The following paragraphs suggest some ideas you can incorporate into your own motivational plan of action.

Find a reason to wake up in the morning besides the bathroom! Take inventory of all your blessings. In the book Real Moments, the author, Barbara DeAngelis, asks you to think about everything you have right now. Think about your personal possessions, relationships and memories. If you were to lose everything, how much would you pay to get it all back? Would you pay one thousand dollars, one million dollars, or is everything you have priceless? What a great way to determine your wealth!

Be grateful for all the things you have, and cherish them like they’ll be gone tomorrow. What relationships can you work on? What people mean the most to you? Have you expressed your love towards them lately? It may be time to take action!

Keep a journal, and fill it daily with all the things you’re thankful for. Additionally, write down what you’re looking forward to doing the following day. Include these items in your daily prayers. Affirm yourself that you’re going to have a great day. This is important stuff to keep in the front of your mind. It’s easy to get lost in the drudgery of our daily routines and let stress overcome us. Keep focused on what really matters to you, and you’ll generate a wealth of self-motivation to help you deal with trying circumstances.

In Man’s Search for Meaning, the author, Viktor E. Frankl shares the unspeakable horror he experienced in the Nazi death camps. Suicide was common. People committed suicide by running into barb wire fences because they didn’t want to face another minute of life in the camps. What could have possibly motivated Viktor to endure the pain and make it to freedom? He stated that those prisoners with a vision beyond the torture had a mission to survive. Additionally, being thankful for the everyday things (the small portion of bread or soup that they were to receive that day) kept them motivated to make it through another day. Remember that the present is a priceless gift!

What are you looking forward to doing today?

Read an inspirational passage from one of your favorite books daily. Since our society overwhelms us with negative information, it’s essential to fill your mind with positive and motivating thoughts to generate daily self-motivation. I recommend reading The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. You’ll learn valuable techniques for staying positive.

If you’re feeling depressed or hopeless, read The God Memorandum or The Twelfth Angel, written by Og Mandino. They are two of my favorite inspirational books that will change the way you look at life.

Listen to motivational tapes daily. This is an invaluable tool for generating motivation, confidence and clarity.

Set challenging goals for yourself. Challenge yourself to grow in one new way each month. Success Motivation Institute has a wonderful program for setting goals and living a balanced life. It’s designed to help you generate self-motivation and become successful on an ongoing and consistent basis. It consists of tapes, reading materials, a personal plan of action and your very own success coach. It’s a true treasure!

Fill your life with people with whom you can communicate your goals and trust for positive support. Give them a call, or visit them when you feel down. One positive word from a friend can help you make it through another day.

Music is a powerful tool that can lift your spirits immediately. There are three songs that lift my spirits immediately, including Beautiful Life by Ace of Base. Find the music that will lift your spirits and keep a copy with you at all times. Play it in your car, at home or at work (especially if you work long and crazy hours).

Most of all – whatever strategy you decide to use – keep your focus on what you want out of your life. As Stephen Covey says: “Begin with the end in mind.” Keep your focus on your major goals. Write them down and look at them several times each day. This will help you to stay motivated, grow stronger and not give up because of the challenges you face.

I challenge you today to take one idea from this article and implement it into your daily plan of action. And to answer the question: “Who motivates the motivator?” You do!

Change Your World

Do you realize that you currently posses the power to change your world? This may not be new news to some of you, but to others it may come as a total shock.

I didn’t realize that I possessed this power until several years ago when I picked up a classic book – The Power of Positive Thinking, written by Norman Vincent Peale. I was amazed when I read “Change your thoughts and you can change your world.” I thought to myself – can it be that simple?

At this point in my life, I faced many personal and professional challenges which mentally and physically drained me. Have you ever felt totally drained – mentally and physically? The thoughts that ran through my mind were less than positive. In fact, you can say that they were often mean. I beat myself up emotionally for all of the things that I didn’t accomplish as opposed to appreciating and rewarding myself for my successes.

Throughout the remainder of the book were testimonies of people who had changed their thoughts and changed their world. I was even more amazed and thought that it would be dynamic if I could incorporate their techniques into my life.

Have you ever been presented with a solution to your problems – but you don’t take action and make changes? That’s what I did (or rather didn’t do). I didn’t take action even though there was a little voice deep inside of me crying let’s do something different.

Before I took action, I wanted to know more about the power of our thoughts. I learned that most leading psychologists believe that we have approximately 60,000 thoughts each day. Even more dynamic… 95% of the thoughts that we have today, are the same thoughts that we had yesterday.

What will your life be like in ten years if you keep thinking the same thoughts? I distinctly knew what my life would be like! I saw a clear picture and knew that I needed to change it quickly.

I began studying how others changed their thoughts and then changed their world. In Man’s Search For Meaning, written by Viktor Frankl, it states how important one’s thoughts are in determining one’s survival and ability to find peace and happiness in spite of one’s trying circumstances. There are many other stories that back up the same findings. I learned how Les Brown, motivational speaker and author, changed his world in spite of the fact that he was born on the cold floor of an abandoned building and labeled educable mentally retarded. W. Mitchell educates and inspires audiences all around the world that it’s not what happens to us in life that determines our circumstances, but what we do with what happens to us. Years ago, he was unrecognizably burned and then a few years later, paralyzed.

All of this reading and studying convinced me that I possess the power to change my world just as you have the power to change yours. Just as Christopher Reeve changed his world. In spite of the trying circumstances he faced after his horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed – he established the Christopher Reeve Foundation and continued to educate and inspire others through his books and movies. making public speaking appearances. Additionally, he’s written a book. He’s done so much!! Several months ago, I watched one of his television specials. I was amazed when he said: “I will be walking by the time I am 50 years old.” He didn’t say I hope to be walking or if no one gets in my way I’ll be walking – he said: “I will be walking.” There’s a powerful difference in the two types of thoughts. Christopher has taken control of his life with the thoughts that he has and the words that he uses to convey those thoughts to others.

Now you know, you possess the amazing power to change your world through changing your thoughts. Let’s define how we can transform our negative thoughts into positive thoughts and what we need to do to remain positive. Transforming our negative thoughts into positive thoughts is one part of the equation. The next and most important part is to take action. Back your positive thoughts with positive action, and get positive results in your life – the results you deserve.

Þ Fill your mind with as much positive information as possible. The more your mind is flooded with positive information, the more your mind will reject negative information. Read autobiographies of people who have triumphed over tragedy. Read the comics or self-help books on change and mind control. Listen to motivational tapes. Listen to uplifting music.

Þ Anytime you have a negative thought write it down. Next to your negative thought, write a positive thought that you’ll use to replace your negative thought. For example, my negative thought is: “Dummy, you should have known better.” My positive replacement thought is: “You always do your best.”

Þ Keep a list of positive affirmations with you wherever you go. Positive affirmations are positive messages that you say to yourself to reinforce your goals, plans, and dreams. When you have a negative thought, override it by saying a positive affirmation out loud (or say it to yourself if you’re not alone). For example: “I deserve success!” or “I’m worth it!”

Þ Seek positive, constructive support. Seek out someone who will help you find positive, constructive solutions to your obstacles, someone who will lift your spirits and help you to move forward with you life.

Once you truly open your mind to the positive possibilities that your life contains and start practicing the above techniques you will get results immediately. The key is to take positive and immediate action. Negative thoughts will still flow into your mind, but realize that you have the choice to dwell on those negative thoughts and let them overcome you or transform them into positive thoughts, inspiring you to take positive action.

You have the power to make it a great day. You have the power to accomplish your goals and achieve your dreams. You have the power to build positive, productive relationships. The choice is yours – change your thoughts, take positive action and change your world!