I've got some good news...and some bad news...

Willpower is a skill.

That’s it. The good news and the bad news.

Whoa! Slow down..before you start making assumptions (like this is an article about weight loss) take a moment. Bear with me here. Willpower is a skill! For those who think I’m making this up, check out Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk..there’s actually scientific proof. Ahh, now I hear the exhales from my former scientific colleagues, yes, this is backed by research.

Here’s the good news….willpower is a skill that you can practice and grow like a muscle and it is backed by science.

So why am I choosing to write about this now? Truthfully? I just gave a talk about willpower this past weekend so it is fresh in my mind. Also, I looked at the calendar and noticed that it is October! What happened to the rest of the year?

In business, this marks the home stretch, the final quarter. The time when the gas pedal may need an extra tap and there are mounting priorities…both in and outside work. That just, aren’t, getting, done. Period.

That’s where willpower comes in. Willpower provides the “pull” to keep you going when you are working on a goal. But let’s get clear first. Until you know what you want to achieve, then all the willpower in the world will not help you.

Step one is to get clear on what you want to achieve. Have a goal. Believe in it. This belief will give you purpose and help you persevere.

Step two is to expect there to be roadblocks. Any goal that is worthwhile will have difficulties. When the roadblocks hit, you fall off the wagon or you mess up. aka “fail”. Forgive yourself. Don’t take my word for it…take McGonigal’s! This is key to persevering.

Step three is to build a strategy to manage those roadblocks, so when they come (not if they come) you can adjust your sails, course correct, get some help and then take another step. Oh yeah.. and learn.

Repeat. What I love about this is that as you continually repeat the cycle, you may notice that “fail” starts to get replaced with “succeed”!

Practice. Fail (and forgive!). Learn. Repeat.

I love this. For anything from business goals to parenting to knitting and yes, even losing weight.

What else can you do? Set mini goals. Improve your willpower - meditate, exercise, breathe, get more sleep, No kidding (that’s actually backed by science).

Oh and you might be wondering why I said this was good and bad news. The good news, willpower is a skill and, a skill is something you can acquire and develop. Everyone. The bad news, there is no longer the “I just don’t have any willpower” excuse!

Need help tapping into your willpower? Contact me for a zero obligation chat.

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Are you a starter, or are you a finisher?

Why the picture of Michelangelo's David? Michelangelo was a finisher. David didn't happen overnight. Willpower, perseverance.

It is October 1st. For those of you in business, this marks the beginning of the final quarter of the year. The time when the gas pedal might need an extra tap and there are mounting priorities…both in and outside of work, that just, aren’t, getting done. Period.

So here’s the question…are you a starter or are you a finisher? Or…do you repeatedly start the same thing again and again and again…and never seem to get it done?

I’m guessing that the answer might be “it depends”. Right? I get it. Take a couple of seconds right now to quickly think about a response to the following prompts below, in your head, trusting your first response or memory that comes up.

Think of something you want to start but just haven’t quite gotten around to it.

Now think of something you have started, maybe more than one time, but just can’t seem to see it through.

Now think of something you did finish.

Notice what comes up for you as you think about each of the scenarios above. Maybe the different feelings or thoughts that each gives you.

We are all creatures of habit and that can be a good thing and a bad thing. Good when we are getting what we want and not so good when we aren’t. This is human. 

Now imagine how would it feel to be able to set and achieve a “mini” goal before 2018 is done? To actually start and complete something. Doesn’t matter if it is personal or business (because that’s personal too…). Just think of the “boost” you will get when you are able to achieve something before, the end of the year comes! You can end 2018 primed for success.

So often we think that we need a huge win in order to get our juices flowing again and really, that isn’t necessarily true. Often times, it is the little wins that provide us with the willpower to go after the big wins.

I recently gave a talk on willpower and the take home message was that having “mini-goals” was key to achieving bigger goals down the road. Small “wins” add up and help build the willpower necessary to persevere when things go sideways. Notice that I said “when” and not “if”? It is kind of a given that when we are working on something meaningful, we will hit a few roadblocks. How are you going to keep going when this happens? Willpower is part of that and so is having a plan.

Ask yourself the following questions;

  • Are you clear on what you want? In this case, something small. 

  • What is the roadblock to getting what you want?

  • What plan do you have in place to manage the roadblock?

I’m guessing that if you had this all figured out, you would already be doing it and you would be a “finisher” all the time! If this isn’t you then you are in luck! I will be running a series of workshops in November focused on getting you clear on what you want; identifying at least one roadblock and then doing some work to manage the roadblocks. Three evenings. 90 minutes each. Interested? Message me. Go to my website. Call.

Let me help you finish the year off with a bang!

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The Power of Presence - Gift from Italy


I am on a train, travelling from Sorrento to Napoli. I am on a train and not the fancy kind. Rather, the kind I was warned about prior to my trip to Italy. The kind where I was told to bring wipes and sanitizer for my hands.  Where the AC is opening the windows and the “advertising” on the walls is graffiti. That kind of train.

I settle into my seat and proceed to start reading a book.

Several stops in, a couple of local musicians get on the train.  A saxophonist and an accordion player. They begin to play and I continue with my face in my book. Ironically,  a book about being present in the moment...

I see the irony of the situation and put my book down.  I close  my eyes and proceed to "experience " the moment.  I can hear the music more clearly now. I feel the breeze from the window and I am swaying in my seat as the train speeds along. I become totally immersed in what is going on. And then it happens.  I am completely overwhelmed with the absolute beauty of the experience. All my senses are fully engaged in the moment. True presence.  It brings me to tears. I let the tears stream down my face and savour that as well.

Then it is over.

Being in the moment is a learning process for me. I am intellectually aware that "now" is truly all we've got and at times, I sneak ahead of where I am or creep back to where I was. I'm not suggesting that you can't do that, just try and spend more time where you are. The power was immense and now I have a beautiful memory to tap into to remind me of the gift of presence.

So, how am I going to incorporate this practice more deeply as I am settling back into work? Being conscious about doing it first of all. Remembering that the whole experience was maybe 3 to 5 minutes tops and how often do I find myself with a couple of minutes in my day? How many of you have 3 to 5 minutes between a meeting or a phone call where you could sit and just “be”. Wherever that may be? Go back to visit an experience that brought you a gift that you could use in that moment. Maybe a gift of patience, certainty or a little escape to a trip you once took. Try it next time you have a few minutes and see what opens up for you.

Grazie Italia.

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It is New Year's Eve!

Yep! You read that correctly! I don’t know about you, but for me, September always brings a sense of renewal and fresh energy. Like a new beginning for the last part of the year. This probably stems from when it was back to school time and as summer was drawing to a close, a new chapter was beginning. Although I haven’t been “back to school” in quite some time, I still look at September as a time to reflect on what has happened so far in the year and a chance to course correct if that is what needs to occur.

September 1st has a special meaning for me as it marks my third anniversary in my own business and reflecting back on the year so far is so useful in deciding how I want to spend my energy for the next four months. It helps me account for and realize just how much I have accomplished since January and shows me the gaps that I need to consider for the rest of the year. Taking a conscious pause to check in with yourself is something most of us do not routinely do however, it can be really useful. This year, September means renewing by taking a trip to Italy and slowing down to pause and reflect and let some of the work I have been doing get integrated. So for September 2018 I will be savouring the last few weeks of summer, all while taking in some breath taking views with some good company, good food and, of course, good wine!

So what about you? If slowing down isn’t in your plans, what is in your plans? Are you satisfied with how things are shaping up for 2018 or are you ready to shift gears? If a “course correction” is required, what action are you going to take? You still have plenty of time to finish 2018 in a way that is meaningful for you.

So here is my challenge for you, will you take 15 minutes to reflect on how far you have come this year? No kidding, will you? Once you have done that, continue to write the ending that you want to have for 2018. Visualize it and make it vivid. Imagine this New Year's Eve and what you want to look proudly back on. What did you let go of this year? What new things did you discover about yourself? If you keep doing what you’re doing, is the ending likely to happen? If not, take some time to think about what you need to do to finish up how you’d like. You may need to alter your plans to get there but know that you have a choice. Take things off autopilot and step into the driver’s seat – it’s your life!

Oh and Happy New Year!

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Why Aren't You Getting What You Want?

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Unfortunately, there is no magic wand and maybe it is because you are getting something out of not getting what you want. Come again? 

It comes down to strategy.  Not only for getting what you want but, and hear me out here, for NOT getting what you want.

Nothing we do does not provide some sort of benefit.  If it didn't, we wouldn't do it.  People get all prickly when I say this and that's ok.  My job is to help people get what they want.  This often means helping them recognize that sometimes, the reason they are not getting what they want is because, deep down, there is a payoff or benefit for doing the things they do that get in their way.  Simply put, our brains do not do random.  It just isn't a thing.  Even smokers are taking deep breaths, getting a break from work, socializing or being alone.  

Thing is, until you recognize the strategy you are using to get what you don't want, it will be hard to interrupt it and look for other ways to get what you want.

I work with people to identify the strategies they are using that are standing in the way of getting what they want.  Those very same people also have great strategies for getting what they want however, they are not always able to recognize the pattern of behaviour associated with getting it.  Either way, once the strategy is revealed, it becomes much easier to see where change can happen.  And the good news?  Often it is a small tweak that changes the whole strategy. That's correct, it doesn't have to be a huge change. In fact, smaller, more sustainable tweaks will build upon each other and ultimately result in bigger changes.  The key here is small steps, sustainability and consistency because change is a process.

Getting what you want is recognizing what the benefit of that behaviour is that is getting in your way and finding another more productive way of getting the same result.  There are a few steps involved in getting you there that involve trying things out to see if they work and then trying something else until you figure it out. Its a process.  It is possible. Wanting is the first step. If you are clear that you do not want to stay where you are and you don't know what your next step to take may be, then contact me for a ZERO obligation chat.  Let's stop you from running away from what you don't want and instead, running towards something you do want.

Beginnings Aren't Just for January

"It's always just beginning. Everything is always just beginning." - Jakuso Kwong.  What a great sentiment, even if we are more than half way through 2018.  It is important to remember that every day you can clean the slate and start again. Truth.  Somewhere along the line someone made up that you can only decide to create something new in January and then after that, well, not so much.  If you blew your diet, well it is now blown so may as well give up.  If you missed a few days of the gym, may as well skip the rest of the week.  If you haven't meditated today you may as well give up....and the list goes on.

This year in particular, I am kicking that idea to the curb.  I am taking Jakuso Kwong's quote and applying it to every single day.  It doesn't mean that I erase everything I have done, it means I approach each and every day with fresh energy, excitement and commitment for continuing towards my goals. It means letting go of the not so productive ideas and not attaching special meaning to them and opening up space to create different ideas.  Its a process.

Anyone in business knows that constantly adjusting the sails is how you get to your destination.  If you don't assess and check in with yourself and your goals and adjust accordingly you may be a bit rigid and rigid sounds well, rigid.  When you look at each day as an opportunity to notice what is working and what is not and act accordingly, you stand a much better chance of achieving your goals and, it feels good.  You're in charge of you.

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How are you going to be when it gets messy?

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You have no idea how much I wish I knew the answer to this question in my 20+ years in the corporate world.  In particular when I was managing a team and had to have some difficult conversations. Yikes, I kind of shake my head when I look back.  Although, overall, I think I did alright, whoa, with the skills I have now, I could have shown up so much better.  When I had to have a tough conversation, all focus was on the other person (obviously) however, no consideration was ever given to "how" I could show up and be my best as well.  

When you walk into a difficult situation unprepared, then the way you are feeling and being is going to spread like a bad virus, before you even open your mouth. This was my experience for sure, my state when I walked into the room was immediately picked up by the person across the table from me.

Why am I writing about this now?  Well, yesterday was a little ironic for me.  There was a rainy, windy storm in the afternoon that left power out, trees down and chairs all over the backyard and I was running an evening event about how to show up as your best self when you need to solve a difficult problem, achieve a complicated task, head into a difficult meeting or maybe even have a difficult conversation with someone you love. You know, things that can get a little messy and it just tweaked something in my brain to say, this would be so useful for others, from the boardroom to the kitchen table.

The point being, that when things get messy, how you show up is integral to achieving what you want. Because, lets face it, what you want matters and, you do not do things in isolation, other people are often involved.  To get what you want, you need to be clear on exactly what it is that you want and to connect with those around you, all while ensuring that you are in the best possible headspace to do this. 

What do I mean about "showing up"?  I practice, teach and coach a state based model for performance.  So, what does that mean?  Think of it this way, how you are in your thoughts, feelings and physiology at any given time.  The combination of these three things will determine your behaviour and in turn, determine the results you are getting in a particular situation.  It doesn't have to be something earth shattering either, a conversation with a parent, spouse, child or perhaps with a boss, colleague or subordinate.  Anytime you are headed for a situation where you want to be your best, managing how you show up makes a difference in your outcomes.

Practice it long enough and when a storm blows in like it did last night, you will be able to be relaxed and ready to handle it automatically as you have practiced how you want to be.

Sound like something you could use?  I run a 90 minute workshop for small groups (12 people max) who are ready to be in charge of how they show up, in a "relaxed and ready" state to handle what life throws at them. Contact me for more information.  www.steppingstonecoaching.ca

What if today was "someday"?

You wake up and roll over.  You pick up your phone to check out what time it is and roll over again.  Wait a minute!  You grab your phone again and look, this time you rub your eyes...this can't be right!  Holy s**t!!  How did that happen?  You realize that today is "someday".  You know,  the day you find out the rich uncle died and you are inheriting millions; the kids have finished school; the house is paid off; you have lost the weight; you've stayed "just one more year" at the job you hate; you're retired etc. etc. 

Now what?  What happens now? What do you mean you don't know!  You have been waiting for someday to come for so long and now it is here you don't have a clue what to do. Fact is, someday is any day and it is up to you to decide that now is the time, now is the place.  Everything will never be perfectly lined up, there is no magic time.  I've heard it said that the days are long but the years are short.  Anyone with young children can attest to this one.  Scary thing is, it is true. You wake up and all of a sudden - boom - there you are, same place you were 10 years ago and still miserable.  Still waiting for the perfect conditions to do that thing you want to do or stop doing that thing you don't want to do.

So what if you imagine for a moment that someday actually is today. Close your eyes and see the picture clearly and notice who is in it, where you are and what is around you.  What would be different about this day?  What would you do first?  Do that.

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What's your word for 2018?

Yep, one word.

This is not my original idea.  Apparently it is a "thing".  Picking a word that you will use all year to focus on every day, a word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live etc.   Rather than having a "New Year's resolution", which I have heard, by the way, has usually gone by the wayside by this time in January....yikes!  Because I am not a fan of New Year's resolutions,  I thought it was a great idea but I didn't have a single word in particular that resonated for me.  Not until today.  Things have a way of popping when we put them in the back of our mind to simmer and percolate and I know exactly why this word ended up popping for me.

So what was the word that popped for me?  Intention. And then that morphed into "intentional".

"Intentional"  - there are several definitions if you look through various dictionaries and for the purpose of this I am choosing - behaviour that is thoughtful and deliberate - because I like what that says to me.  It means slowing down, contemplating and deciding how I want to be.

I like the idea of putting more intention behind everything I do rather than just going through the motions.  Whether it is a workout, a meal, a business meeting, a workshop or a conversation.  I have decided that I am going to be intentional about everything I do.  I can already feel a change.  Even as I type this.  I am picking what I want to say differently.

My question for you is this, where could being more intentional be useful for you?  Perhaps pausing for a couple of minutes before you head into a meeting?   Deciding on how you want a  phone call to be before making the call or that pause before saying something that perhaps might not be what you really meant to say.  There are so many ways to apply it.

But that's my word. You get to choose yours. I'm going to own "intentional"  for 2018.  What's one word you would like to own for 2018?  I would love to hear it!

 

 

 

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What do you want and what's getting in the way?

As we approach the end of 2017 and are on the cusp of another year, I find that I am asking myself this question.

What do you want?

One thing I know for sure is that if you do as you always have, you will get what you have always had and, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, unless you think there is.

How many times do we express frustration in our lives about “something” (you fill in the blank here) that will not change?  It could be something physical that we are not satisfied with, a relationship that is not working, a job we hate or a parenting challenge etc. etc.  We complain up and down to anyone who will listen and continue to get more and more frustrated. Doesn’t sound like fun to me.  Nor does it sound productive.  When you truly want to have different, guess what?  You are going to have to “do” different.  This is work, which is why most of us would rather complain then get our butts in gear and do something about it.

What if I told you that you may be doing things on "autopilot" and your results are reflecting this? Ouch.  What habit(s) do you have that are getting in the way of changing what you have, to what you want?  Keep in mind that not all habits are necessarily “bad” and even if they are deemed “bad” – think smoking, there is still something you are getting out of it – think deep breathing.

Habits, by nature, seem to lock us into a behaviour.  It is so much easier to keep doing what our brain has “programmed” then to try and shift it.  Our brains think in patterns based on previous experience:  “if A happens then I do B” – when something similar happens, our brain looks for something similar in our past and attaches a pattern that has worked before to it.  In other words, our brain can be a little lazy or you could say, it likes to be efficient, why exert extra energy when something has worked in the past?  Habits tend to get results without getting the brain involved.

Useful in lots of situations however, habits can totally keep you trapped in a behaviour that does not get you what you want.

What’s my point?

Habits are powerful. Identifying what’s getting in your way is a start and, hard truth here, nothing is going to change unless you change something.

So – want 2018 to be different?  I am running a FREE workshop in January to help you identify the habits that may be getting in your way and to explore some fun ways to shift your behaviour to start getting what you want.  Until you identify the rate limiting habit, it is almost impossible to get that goal you want.  Check out my website for more information.

 

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