About Marjorie Johnson

Marjorie Johnson

It’s All About Relationships!

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?

Marjorie R. Johnson is President of Ascend Consulting, Inc. an executive coaching and counseling firm. www.ascendconsulting.net  www.ascendcounselingpa.com

Mindfulness is the Secret to Success!

“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!

Intention, Now Action! Goal Setting Boot Camp – January 20, 2017

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!!

Register by visiting https://ascendconsulting.net/contact-us/ and complete the contact form. Or visit our other website http://ascendcounselingpa.com/contact-us/ .

We look forward to helping you reach for the sky!

 

Give SUCCESS This Holiday Season!

Coaching Gift Certificates for the Holidays!!!

gift-certificate-1-test

Goal Setting with Intention for Your Business and Your Life!

business coaching philadelphia

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!

Goal Setting Boot Camp – January 20, 2017!

goal setting with an executive coachDo 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!

You will:
•  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.

Marjorie Johnson,
Executive Coach

Mindfulness Meditation Group – Beginning Tuesdays on January 17, 2017

 Winter Meditation Group:

“Are you dealing with anxiety or depression or simply stressed by daily life? Learn Mindfulness and experience a quieter mind and calm approach to life’s challenges!”

You are invited to be: Still, Relaxed and be Present!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

8 weeks ($240) includes CD “Come to the Quiet”.

937 Prichard Ave. West Chester, PA 19382

7:30-8:45pm

To register:  Marjorie@ascendconsulting.net (or) (610)696-4443

“Mindfulness Mediation has been proven to improve focus, sleep and overall wellness. You will learn and practice simple to used skills to manage: Stress, Anxiety and Depression.” This Psycho-educational support group is facilitated by Marjorie R. Johnson, Clinical Social Worker and Coach. This group may be submitted to insurance.

Upcoming Events

Speaking Engagements:

Women’s Business Connection-(Chester County)Panel Moderator: “Caring for your Elderly Parents and You”.  October 11, 2016, Downingtown Country Club, Downingtown, PA.  Click here for more information.

PA Conference for women- October 6, 2016, Philadelphia Convention Center. Marjorie will be providing Pro Bono Coaching. Click here for more information.

Wellness: Good for Business, Good for Life!

As a therapist and Executive Coach, I work with people dealing with a variety of issues: Family problems, difficult work relationships, leadership challenges depression, and stress. No matter the specific client’s situation, everyone wants a happier calmer, more satisfying life: Wellbeing.

Here are 5 simple things you can do at work and (or) in your personal life to enhance your wellbeing:

  • Be Mindful: Mindfulness is defined as being fully aware and present in the moment. Staying in the present, stops us from worrying about the future, or being self-critical about the past. When we are “here in this moment”, we can observe our thoughts and emotions, and take a breath when we are starting to feel overwhelmed. Taking a breath allows us to pause. Then, we can effectively respond to what is really happening-rather than reacting to the “Story in our head”.

Here’s the best way to train the mind: Practice this 1-20 minutes everyday:

Sit quietly and follow the breath with your attention as it flows in and out. When your mind wanders, simply notice it (without self-criticism) and come back to the breath.

Research shows that 8 weeks of regular mindfulness mediation reduces anxiety, focuses attention and expands creative thinking in challenging situations. It’s good for both work and home!

  • Tweak your communication skills to improve your relationships. What makes work and family life difficult is often communication problems! There are a few simple things we can do to improve communication and build trust. A good place to start is reflective listening. When you are caught off guard or aren’t sure of what someone’s means, simply say: ” I think I heard you say”…and then, “Did I hear you correctly?” When we reflect back what we heard, it signals to the other person that we are listening for both meaning and content. This simple step can help to avoid conflicts and lead to a better understanding. Secondly, try approaching a difference of opinion with mutual problem solving rather than defending your position. When we collaborate together we turn off stress chemicals in the body that signals our brain to release oxytocin (a hormone that makes us feel connected to others) and endorphins (a feel good chemical in the brain). That’s a pretty big payoff for open hearted listening!
  • Prioritize You! Your are the resource or “machine”. Take care of your machine! Just like you do with your automobile, give yourself regular tune ups, put gas(nutrition) in your tank. Take time off for relaxation, exercise most days and enjoy nature! Twenty minutes of sunlight exposure turns off the physical stress response and lifts the mood.
  • Look for Joy! In every day, there is some small (or big) moment of pleasure. Often we miss pleasure because we are thinking about the past or the future. Look and really see the faces, sky and trees around you. Really listen to the music that’s playing in the car on your drive to work. Beyond simple daily pleasures, joy is an inside job.
    Consider what makes you feel content and satisfied, rather than the big lottery win.
  • Be “Planful”. Be intentional about your big and little goals and create reasonable, specific, action steps to bring your goals to reality. Write them down, consider obstacles and devise strategies to work around them and you will achieve your dreams.

Goal Setting Boot Camp—October 14, 2016

goal setting with an executive coachDo 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!

The small group setting provides the bonus of others’ creativity and experience! Boot camp will empower you to:
•  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
•  Follow-up individual coaching to ensure success!

When: October 14, 2016, 8 am- 1 pm (lunch is included)
Where: American Executive Center
101 Lindenwood Dr., Suite 225
Malvern, Pennsylvania 19355
Cost: $849 for 5 hours of group work, plus 2 hours of individual coaching!

Register by September 1st and get $100 off!
Don’t delay—boot camp is limited to 15 participants!
Call 610-696-4443 to register.
(Next boot camp will be offered in January.)

Marjorie Johnson,
Executive Coach