How to Bounce out of a Work Slump

April 25, 2012

Almost everyone has found themselves in a work slump. Typically a work slump is characterized by a loss of motivation or confidence to perform your job well.  This could be exhibited by you showing up to your workplace later and later, avoiding certain people or meetings, and acting inappropriately in an effort to disguise other feelings such as incompetence. Here are some tips on how you can bounce out of a work slump:

Address Distracting Personal Matters

The first step to bouncing out of a work slump is evaluating what is going on in your personal life that could be influencing how you are performing at work.  If you are experiencing unexplained physical symptoms like lethargy or difficulty focusing, you should go see your doctor or care providers for an evaluation.  If you are going through a difficult transition in your personal life such as a divorce, or your children are leaving for college or your spouse is out of work, you may want to consider engaging in a form of counseling to ensure that you have an appropriate space to reflect on those experiences.  Sometimes it is difficult to be objective about matters going on in our own lives, so talking to someone you are very close with about this subject is very helpful.  And then of course, making sure you are organized outside of work so that you are getting adequate sleep, exercise and nutrition so that when you do show up to work you are putting your best foot forward.

Revamp Your Daily Schedule

When I see clients who are trying to work themselves out of a work slump, they are either burned out after having endured a stressful and demanding project or role or they have lost their confidence and are so worried about possibly losing their job that they have begun to behave strangely in an effort to disguise their inadequate feelings.  Whether your particular slump falls into the loss of motivation or confidence bucket, the second step I suggest taking at work is to enact a schedule into your day so that you follow a consistent routine.  The benefit of doing this will help get you back on track and be able to understand exactly where your pain points might be occurring versus simply viewing your entire work experience as ineffective.  For example, I have been working with a gentleman who was sent to me by his boss because he had begun exhibiting very ‘desperate’ behavior when he was attempting to close sales deals with clients.  When this client, Bob and I were discussing his behavior we identified that he was feeling very out of control with his ability to meet his sales goals and resultedly was behaving in a very desperate manner.  Once Bob began to structure his week he regained what we call his own internal ‘locus of control’.

Revisit Your Industry’s Best Practices

The most successful people are those who view themselves as lifelong students or learners.  Simply because you have completed your formal education, does not mean that you should ever stop investing in our own development.  For some a slump at work can occur because folks have become so distanced from the theory or best practices of their particular industry that they feel uninspired and undirected.  This is very normal and happens to all of us.  When this does occur, I strongly suggest that you dust off some of your favorite old classics and take your own refresher course of your industry’s best practices. Perhaps you might even want to sign up for a webinar or a community college course if reading a book or a blog is not enough for you to feel adequately refreshed.  The goal of this step is to re-boot if you will in order to get grounded back into the core of your job role and to make sure that you are staying abreast of new trends and developments that are occurring within your field globally.

Strengthen Your Work Relationships

Once you have addressed personal matters, instituted structure into your work week and revisited best practices in your industry, it is time to strengthen your work relationships.  Sometimes people can fall into a work slump because they have stopped connecting with people at work.  This is not so easy to do so start with simple gestures with the folks who you want to improve your relationship with like asking them for some feedback or input on something you are working on, or supporting them in an initiative they are involved with or asking them to go out to lunch with the simple goal of connecting with them beyond your work roles.  Often times you will find that you will be able to garner needed mutual support from your work relationships that will result in you feeling more confident, less isolated and overall enjoying your time at work.

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How to Unlock Your Storytelling Genius

April 18, 2012

Last night I had the high honor of hearing Michaela Murphy speak at my favorite place to connect with like minded professional women, Cindy Tortorici’s The Link for Women’s monthly event.  Michaela is a master storyteller whose work has been featured on NPR, Off-Broadway, The Moth Mainstage, and the Clinton White House and in The New Yorker, while her talents as a digital storyteller and social media guide have produced both happy clients and measurable results.

What I found the most fascinating from all the juicy tips that I am about to share from her was her observation that we often dismiss the part of ourselves that we are most gifted. This is a lesson she learned when she first began her career. She believes that what impedes many of us from being more vocal and forthcoming about this one particular ‘gift’ is our fear of being dismissed and as a result being ‘crushed’ by this rejection (because we know it is our core strength). Michaela went on to explain that as she has matured and developed a stronger ‘ego’, she is now very comfortable sharing her gifts and not being wounded by potential rejection or dismissal, etc.  What do you think?  Do you think that you refrain from deeper and more revealing storytelling in order to protect and cover parts of yourself that you are perhaps ashamed of, don’t understand or are protective of?  Well, read on…..

Here are some of the key takeaways that I learned from her:

Every story should have a CONFLICT, CLIMAX and REUNION

Begin with a hook-and establish it and the tone of your story in the first three sentences.  After delivering the first three lines, pause, let the audience ‘come in’

SHOW rather than TELL-tell a descriptive story rather than give an example.

Keep it ACTIVE

Make every word COUNT

Communicate from within to my audience WHY I do what I do, what the work I do DOES for me on an emotional level. What’s the tipping point of my work-where people get what I do?

Every story should have a beginning, middle and an end. The beginning is the set up and hook (only share what the audience needs to know, which may mean omitting characters and condensing time). The middle is where you spend the bulk of your story-delivering the action and the climax.  The end is the climax and the denouement.

When you tell YOUR STORY, start with what scares you. Where is the resistance? What is something you have done that you can’t understand? Share something risky for you.

Thank you Michaela, Cindy and Natalie Molina Nino for making this event happen!


Your Right to Unbridled Success: Permission Denied Lessons in Self-Sabotage

April 11, 2012

It can’t really be that simple can it? You are telling me I am the biggest barrier in my way of achieving unbridled success? Yes.  According to my expert colleague, Gay Hendricks, author of “The Big Leap” as well as my own experience witnessing my client’s journey as well as my own, I can unequivocally testify that I, you, we are the singular road block in our own way on the road to __________(insert your own dreamed end state).  It is our unconscious world that holds on to early seeded beliefs and relational patterns that can forever set the unrealized stage for the extent to which we will allow ourselves to achieve happiness, success, creative freedom…

Hendricks offers some spot on questions to ask ourselves when we are attempting to identify exactly what erroneous and deeply internalized beliefs we have about ourselves that are holding us back TODAY from leaping toward that greater pie in the sky.

Take a look at these statements/questions and let me know which trigger for you the key to why you are denying yourself permission to unbridled success:

“I cannot expand to my full creative genius because something is fundamentally wrong with me”

“I cannot expand to my full success because it would cause me to end up all alone, be disloyal to my roots, and leave behind people from my past”

Did I break up the family’s spoken or unspoken rules to get where I am?

Even though I am successful, did I fail to meet the expectations my parents had of me?

“I can’t expand to my highest potential because I’d be an even bigger burden than I am now”

“I must not expand to my full success, because if I did I would outshine _________ and make him or her look for feel bad”


Lessons For a ‘Highly Motivated’ Working Mom (that would be me)

April 4, 2012

I was really flying there for a while (and I do mean flying—I move quickly and get a lot of things done, at the same time, because, hey, I am a woman, that’s what we do).  My family life is in full throttle, a now nine month old and our very energetic toddler are thriving and loving life at the same time that my consulting business has begun to receive an enormous amount of visibility and clientele (oh and there is a fantastic husband thrown into this mix as well).

And probably no surprise to you, I recently came right up against that proverbial wall, some balls started to drop and sure enough, my little ‘ol tank was nearing empty.   Before I continued down this highly predictable road, I put a full stop on a majority of my activities, and implemented some serious CHANGES in my WAYS.  Along the way, I have also had some enormously enlightening conversations (or as they might call it, ‘interventions’) with people whom I hugely admire and adore.   And I will say, while some of these lessons below might seem highly elementary, it is amazing how different it is when you are really going through something and have lost the gift of clarity.  A woman in one of my seminars recently said a perfect quote that fits so well in this context: “I listened to you before, but I hear you now”.  Thank you to all the sacred people in my life who have and continue to support me in my journey—you know who you are.

Here is as a short list of what I have learned:

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

I have learned that just because amazing and never before seen opportunities seem to continually be falling into my lap; it doesn’t mean that this is the right time to move ahead with any or all of them.  Timing is everything, and I have to resign myself to the fact that I cannot do it all right now (duh).

Structure, structure, structure my time (for play and work)

In my heart of hearts, I am a free spirit. That’s why I left Corporate America and started my own business. However, I have learned the enormous value of structuring my weeks so that I am clear on when I am at full capacity with clients and when I need to build in time for writing, managing the kids’ ‘stuff’ and heck, writing this enormously valuable blog.

Incorporate the Ying to my Yang

I need to work on incorporating more balance in my life so that it’s not all go-go-go-collapse.  For every run I go on, I am working on throwing in a yoga class. I have been referred to a Naturopath to help me with some herbal remedies for increased internal balance. This is a bit far out for me right now, but I took the woman’s card and will consider it down the road.

View everything happening as abundant & miraculous

A dear friend and I had lunch recently and she heard me ending a lot of my statements with conditional statements, like “Well, these are my plans, but that cannot happen for three years”.  She challenged me to view everything happening in my life right now as abundant and far exceeding any earlier expectation. In addition, she encouraged me to always be open to any and all opportunities and to try to let go of any limits or conditions I am assigning to situations or timelines. This shift in thinking has been enormously liberating, try it out.

The people whom you are closest with are the best barometer of how you are REALLY doing

When I am with clients or focused on a work project, I can really get in to the zone where I am so jazzed about what I am doing that I can totally shut off my own needs.  There is an adrenaline that rushes through me when I am in my work zone that allows me to perform at my best but also is hard to shut down.  Sometimes, just because I am no longer working and am actually with my family or friends, does not always guarantee that I am not thinking about work.  This is a serious problem. The people closest to me have been able to help me see instances of when this is occurring, how it affects them (not surprisingly it doesn’t make your loved ones feel great) and how to go about being PRESENT.

BE PRESENT

This is one of the toughest ones of all.  However, it is getting easier to do since I have gotten more structured in my days and more aware of where my mind is in given situations.

Nurture your relationships and yourself—they are really all that matter anyways

It is easy to slip into bad habits of taking your loved ones for granted and not caring for yourself as you would others.  For all that I am expending out to my family and my clients, I need to figure out ways to replenish my body, mind and soul.

The END:

Would love to know if anyone else out there has found themselves in the same conundrum and what you have done to ‘right your ship’.  Thanks everyone!!