The April PowerPoints newsletter is out! Take a moment to read about my upcoming events and how I can help your business and life through my coaching. A brief excerpt from my newest blog “How do you Plan?” will hopefully entice you to read more at my website. Have a great spring and remember, “It is not where you start that matters, it’s where you are going, who you become, and the positive impact you have along the way.”
About Marjorie Johnson
How do you plan?
By Marjorie R. Johnson LCSW, PCC
Most of us know that our best chance of achieving any goal is to plan for it. We need to have a clear SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time sensitive). We know the importance of planning for our business or team’s yearly goals. This process is required. However, how often do we approach our personal lives with the same strategic planning? Yet, without being intentional about how we want to spend our days, and indeed our lives, it is up to chance whether we will become our best selves.
Think about the past 24 hours. Where did your time go? How much of your time was given to social media, zoning out with television or compulsively checking e -mail? In his book, Shine, Edward Hallowell, MD (noted ADHD psychiatrist and author of the bestseller: Driven to Distraction), comments on the overloaded, over busy and overwhelmed brain of today’s workers. We are working harder and longer yet achieving less because we feel we cannot allow time for rest, recreation and personal relationships.
What to do? To achieve healthy, well rounded lives, I recommend the following process. Set aside 60- 90 minutes of uninterrupted time, when you know you won’t be disturbed. Breathe deeply, and begin quietly reflecting as follows: Consider your “Essential” or “Higher Self” in the middle of a circle with several spokes going out from the center. These spokes represent areas of your life that affect you and contribute to your life. (Adapted from “Wheel of Life”, Co-Active Coaching, 2011.) You might include family relationships, friends and social network, career, spiritual/ personal growth, recreation, finances, health & fitness and your physical environment (home or office). Consider “how content” you are in each area. Which area might you like to improve? Where is your time going? Is it in balance and contributing to the Self you want to be? Now set specific, SMART goals (refer to my SMART Goals Blog series starting here: https://ascendconsulting.net/goal-setting-intention-business-life/) for balance in some of these areas. Identify one or two specific actions that will gradually bring these goals into reality.
Now it’s time to make the goals from above happen. Our goals for balanced fulfilled lives need active care and attention to become reality. Take some quiet planning time each day to intentionally build into your routine those actions that are in alignment with your goals. Note: This might mean doing less! Without this daily time of reflection and planning it’s impossible to bring your daily actions in line with the life you want to live. During this process, be compassionate with yourself. Change often occurs by taking two steps forward and one step back. Mindfulness, intentional planning and daily reflection make all the difference in becoming the Self you want to be.
I specialize in coaching executives and professionals into achieving their goals with life balance. Contact me if you’d like to begin the conversation. Marjorie@ascendconsutling.net
The wait is over! March PowerPoints is here and chalk full of exciting information. March is Social Work Month. Read our March PowerPoints to learn a little more about this exciting and important field. Happy reading!
Who is Your Customer
By Marjorie R. Johnson LCSW, PCC
Business owners and leaders want to grow their business. To get more business more customers are needed, right? The question is: who is your customer? Some experts say one needs to identify their ideal customer and market to that consumer. Others say a business should serve a variety of customers by offering a wide range of products. Still others define customers in a more broad sense, including both internal customers (those working in the company) and external customers (those purchasing products or vendors of the company). Well, what if we were to broaden the definition of customer still further to include everyone and anyone with whom we come into contact throughout the day?
How might approaching everyone we meet, from the barista to the bus or Uber driver, as a customer affect our business? I ‘m reminded of the Ghost of Christmas Present*, when he said to Scrooge that, “Mankind should be our business.” The fact is we never know when or from where our next customer is coming. We never know how a kind word or hasty critical remark will spread and cost us potential business. If we are respectful, polite and mindfully present to all people no matter their role, whether on company time or off, it’s far more likely that we will attract and keep customers. When we treat people with this kind of dignity and warmth, they are naturally attracted to us and open to our business. When we listen with attention, more customers will pay attention to us. People are naturally drawn to work with those they like and respect. As we practice this behavior all day every day, this kind of civility and compassion becomes a habit – not something we drop at the close of business.
So, on which “customer” do you most need to practice? Is it your employee with whom you’ve become frustrated or the peer on whom your department depends but whose consistency and dependability you take for granted? Is it the faithful customer, who you know will always be your client, so you no longer strive to “wow” them? Is it your family member or best friend who is supportive, loving, and always has your back? When did you last say a heartfelt “thank you”?
Exemplary customer service is something that every person deserves by their humanity. Our commitment to treat others to the best of our ability is what makes exemplary service possible. How would your customer base grow if everyone in your company treated all “customers” that way? It’s a worthwhile experiment!
Marjorie Johnson, LCSW, PCC is President of Ascend Consulting, Inc. an executive coaching and counseling firm
*Scrooge (the 1970 Albert Finney version)
It’s All about Relationships
By Marjorie R. Johnson LCSW, PCC
Jane was a key contributor and leader in her company. She worked harder and longer than everyone else in her division. She was referred to executive coaching to improve her people skills. Colleagues and senior team members found her brusque and irritable when stressed. At another company, Bob was referred to me for similar challenges. A valuable, developing executive, he needed to learn to influence his CEO without lapsing into angry outbursts when they disagreed.
Coaching Jane and Bob drew on my counseling expertise, as we identified the stress and anxiety that was driving their outbursts. As each leader’s self-awareness increased, so did the ability to recognize the presence of inner tension in their body. This allowed them to pause and come to a calm place. A few moments of slow, even breathing afforded them the thinking time to choose an effective response. Coaching helped them to learn and experiment with new communication tools. Jane and Bob were now able to build bridges instead of creating barriers.
Relationships at work and home succeed or fail based on practicing self-control and the ability to be mindful of how we express our emotions. Despite how rational we as humans strive to be, science demonstrates that we are emotional beings, who need to feel a sense of belonging and connection to others. When we don’t feel that connection, when we are in a harsh or disrespectful disagreement, we don’t feel safe. Hence, the visceral fight or flight reaction in boardroom meetings, even though the “saber-tooth tiger” is nowhere to be found.
How can we improve relationships? It all boils down to being mindful (or intentional). First, we need to be aware of our own emotional state. The body is the first part of to the brain to respond. The ability to detect when our own stress chemicals (the cortisol spike felt by the knotted stomach or rapid heartbeat) start to rise is the key. We must take the time to pause. Then, we can sense the emotion(s) (limbic brain) we are feeling. Lastly, the thinking brain (neocortex) comes online and we can self-manage. Only the ability to pause and become self-aware will allows us to choose how best to communicate in the moment.
Second, we need to be more mindful of others. We need to really listen to them all: colleagues, spouses, employees and customers. Rather than thinking we know what they mean, take the time to ask for clarity, so we know for certain what they mean. This open-hearted listening makes it possible to find agreement and understanding amidst the conflict.
So yes, it’s all about relationships: first with oneself, then with others. All relationships rely on how mindfully we listen and communicate. This takes patience and compassion for us and others. Today, how and when could you take time to practice mindful awareness in your communication?
“Mindfulness is the Secret to Success”
By: Marjorie R. Johnson, LCSW, PCC, President of Ascend Consulting, Inc.
“How do you stay present in the midst of your busy day?” asked a client, who is a successful executive. Through coaching, the client began to recognize the importance of staying present during day to day interactions. Acknowledging the need to listen instead of speak and ask instead of tell was the first hurdle. Now, the client wanted strategies. Staying mindful requires discipline in order to listen with openness, instead of being in your head, thinking up a response. Recent findings in neuroscience show that when we don’t fully listen, when we focus on telling, the other person will tend to become defensive and shut down. (see, Conversational Intelligence, by Judith Glasser) This neurological response is not in our conscious mind, but occurs at a hormonal, biological level. The reaction is based on a primitive fight, flight, freeze or appease response system deep in the brain. None of those behaviors are the response we want.
How did I finally answer my client’s question? I told them, keeping a present mindset is challenging! For me, and many of my clients, mindfulness is both the path and the practice that again and again, helps guide us back to the present moment all day long. As an executive coach and therapist, I see Mindfulness as the organizing force that helps us to establish high emotional intelligence, to be resilient in the face of stress and to lead and communicate effectively. Practicing mindfulness meditation is not some panacea- ask anyone who knows me! But, it is a simple method I use to calm down, be open and become more aware of my thoughts, emotions, choices and surroundings. A great benefit; Mindfulness helps us to manage common problems like anxiety, insomnia and ADHD.
So, where to begin? Start small! Allow yourself 10 minutes a day to simply be still, in a quiet place if possible, and focus your attention on your breath. A simple pattern to use is the 4-7-8 Breathing Pattern taught by Dr. Andrew Weill. Inhale for the count of 4, through the nostrils, hold the breath for the count of 7 and exhale slowly out rounded lips for a count of 8. The counting keeps other thoughts at bay and helps us stay focused. The body’s natural relaxation response begins to settle in after 3-4 rounds. What a nice, calm respite from the day! Then, simply try to keep your attention on the breath wherever you feel it in the body. Focus on the rise and fall of the chest or the belly. Even try focusing on the sensation of air flowing in and out of the body.
Your mind might wander. That’s ok! The mind is constantly thinking. Just the fact that you become aware of your mind wandering means you are aware, or mindful. Keep returning to the breath again and again as you sit for 10 minutes. Practice makes better, not perfect. As you expand your daily mindfulness to 15 , or even 20 minutes, a change is noticeable. You will begin to become aware as your mind wanders when simply speaking with someone, in a meeting or even leading a meeting. You will start to listen better, improving your relationships. All of these steps will allow the process of becoming present in the middle of your busy day.
The next Mindfulness Meditation group begins on January 17, 2017 at 7:30pm. I welcome you to join me and we can practice being more mindful together!
Last month I introduced the first three steps for clear, actionable goal setting. Let’s review; Step One: Begin with Mindful Reflection, Step Two: Assessment, Step Three: Create a SMART Plan-Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic with steps assigned to a specific person and Time sensitive.
This month we turn to the next two steps in creating a failsafe Strategic Plan:
Step Four: Refine Goals and Develop Strategy–
This is the step where a complete and detailed inventory of every area of your business is done. You will want to assess your product or service, marketing, advertising, finances, your employees, your market and your ideal client. Are the messages aligned to who you are attracting? To those who you want to serve?
Right now is an excellent time revisit your dream. Why do you want to succeed in this business? What will the business do, be or have for you? For your customer? During our January 20, Goal Setting Boot Camp, we’ll take the time to really drill down to the core passions and dreams that drive us to succeed. Do you really want to sell what you say you are delivering or are you delivering it because you think it will sell? Passion paired with excellence and knowledge is what brings sustainable sales! The most sensational marketing will not reach your customers or sell products, unless your devotion to the business is evident. There can be no doubt that you really care about the product or service you are delivering and know the customer who is benefiting from the purchase.
Assure your entire strategy is consistent and supported by processes. If not, take the time to create new ones that better address your keenest challenges. Define what success means to you and the benchmarks by which you choose to measure reaching your goals!
Step Five: Create your Weekly/Monthly Action Plan– The rubber meets the road during this step. What will you do when and what will be first? Who owns each task, how will they be monitored, held accountable and supported? Assess the work flow and the timing for each phase of your operation. Review the action plan with your team. Take the time to sit down with your team. Create an open dialogue for them to share their input and discuss what is realistic. (SEE STEP TWO)
Are you excited for creating your Strategic Plan? Are you a bit overwhelmed? Maybe both? You do not have to go at it alone!!!
As a Certified Professional Coach with 16 years experience, I’ll help you achieve clarity about what is possible and tap into the passion that drives your dream. Together, we’ll brainstorm about the obstacles and challenges that may arise. Come up with a proactive plan to move around, over or under the challenges for you to SUCCEED at your BIG GOAL!!!
Make GOAL SETTING BOOT CAMP on January 20, 2017, the beginning of your goal ACHIEVEMENT!!! Join 14 like minded business and non profit leaders, who just like you, are serious about working together to make 2017 the YEAR OF UNSTOPPABLE SUCCESS!!!!!!
Register and pay by January 6, 2017 to take advantage of $100 off your registration fee. With this amazing discount, that’s only $749 for five hours of group work and two hours of one on one coaching! AN OUTSTANDING VALUE!!
We look forward to helping you reach for the sky!
Coaching Gift Certificates for the Holidays!!!
New Year Goals and Resolutions are easy, but What does it take to ACHIEVE those goals?
As a client said to me recently: “I always set clear goals with a plan. The problem is that I get distracted and lack follow through.” Ah, that’s the rub isn’t it? When we set a goal its often with enthusiasm and true motivation, but life can get in the way if we are not careful to revisit our goals through the day. So, what is your intention for 2017? How will you create an airtight plan complete with strategies to overcome obstacles and distractions?
Step One: Begin with Mindful Reflection-
Before you start actual goal setting it’s important to take time to sit still, be mindful, and allow your body and thoughts to settle. This opens the way for reflection about your business. It is in this quiet reflection that clarity about our new year’s vision emerges. So, don’t just do something; First, be someone who is present and receptive to what is really calling you forward in the new year. Listen to what is both possible and realistic. Then, get a pen and paper or whiteboard, and get ready to start the planning process!
Step Two: Assessment – Where are you starting from? What goals are left over from last year? Are they still relevant? Do they need to be tweaked? What new skills and knowledge have you added to your tool box? A SWOT analysis will help you start with a clear picture of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Step Three: Create a SMART plan – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic with steps assigned to a specific person, and lastly Time sensitive. As you hold yourself to creating SMART goals, you may realize that your wish list is not realistic. Establish priorities! The next two steps of strategic planning are to refine your goals and create a detailed action plan.
Now you have refined your vision from a dream to a clear and specific, achievable goal. Tune in next month to POWER POINTS and learn how to develop practical and comprehensive strategies, that are consistent throughout every aspect of YOUR organization and life!
Do you want to achieve some big goals?
Not sure where to start?
Afraid you’ll get stuck or fall off track?
Register for this half-day boot camp, designed to provide clear, achievable action steps and follow-through to success!
If you are committed to achieve OUTSTANDING success in 2017, this program is for YOU!
• Tie your specific goals to action steps
• Anticipate and plan for obstacles
• Create milestones to track your achievement
• Get and stay unstuck!
Your investment includes:
• Initial individual coaching session and pre-work
• Half-day of formal presentations, group work, and on-the-spot coaching
• A solid plan with detailed actions steps and benchmarks
• Follow-up individual coaching to ensure success!
When: January 20, 2017, 8 am- 1 pm (lunch is included)
Where: Ascend Consulting, Inc.
101 Lindenwood Dr., Suite 225
Malvern, Pennsylvania 19355
Cost: $849 for 5 hours of group work, PLUS 2 hours of individual coaching!
Register by January 2, 2017 and get $100 off!
Don’t delay—boot camp is limited to 15 participants!
To register: email Marjorie@ascendconsulting.net or call (610) 696-4443.