Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Decisions, Decisions!

I was on the phone with a coaching client today (we'll call her Dee) who was struggling with an embarrassment of riches: she has so many opportunities available to her - both personally and professionally - that she feels overwhelmed by the decisions she needs to make. Love her or envy her (no, "hate her" is not an option -- I am VERY protective of my clients!), but chances are you know her - or you've been her. How do we decide what to take on and what to pass on?

I asked Dee to think about a decision she had made recently that felt like a "no-brainer". Her example was taking her daughter on a college interview with the Dean of the school. Despite the fact that she had made the decision without an awareness of a decision-making process, I asked her to think about the factors that made this decision an easy yes. Here's what she came up with:

  • Unique opportunity
  • Important/Makes an impact
  • Fun
  • Timely
  • Aligns with her values
  • Manageable cost(s)
  • Potentially large payoff(s)
Look at that! Even without knowing that she had a set of decision-making criteria, she was using it. Then, we took this list and tested it against several other decisions she had made -- and some that were pending. The criteria worked, and we realized that we had one to add to it:

  • Gut
That's right. Dee often relied on an inner sense that yelled "yay" or "nay" to her when she had a choice to make. And interestingly, as soon as we named "gut" as a key decision-making factor for her, she reported that her stomach had been hurting her enough as of late that she had called the doctor. And while I am certainly an advocate for modern medicine, I do believe that our bodies give us powerfully useful information about what's going on in our heads.

How about you? Think about a decision you have made recently that felt easy-breezy to you and see if you can back it up into a set of criteria you can use for future decisions that don't feel as cut and dried.

And post your criteria here -- I'd love to see how your head works!

To your Success without the Tsuris,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reading this Blog (and Oprah, Business Week, and People Magazine) Can Dramatically Change Your Relationships!

I've got a file 3 inches thick called "IDEAS" that sits on my desk as a receptacle for every article I rip out of newspapers and magazines. Whether it's Psychology Today, Entrepreneur, or yes, even Oprah Magazine, if I read it, and think someone else could relate to it, I rip it out.

  • Read it
  • Relate it 
  • Rip it

Many of these articles are food for thought for my newsletters, articles and blogs. Some of them are for home use, and I'm very, very careful with the articles I read, relate and rip for my husband Michael.  Trust me: he has no patience for the thinly-veiled ruse called, "I saw this article and thought you'd be interested in it" when in fact, I really mean "Here's an article I read that highlights something about your personality, behavior or habits I'd really like you to change, and I am hoping the article can do the dirty work rather than me speaking with you about it directly or realizing that this just isn't going to change. That doesn't fly around here. Other articles are for you (yes, YOU) and if you haven't gotten one from me yet, I look forward to sending one your way soon!

Here are some of the articles I have hanging around:
  • Time-Saving Tools and Technologies for Professional Speakers
  • It's Showdown Time: How to Take the Fight Out of Confrontations
  • Leadership in Turbulent Times
  • Transforming Professional Relationships
  • 10 Blogs to Write Today (I'm actually using this one RIGHT NOW)
I consider my bank of articles (and yes, sometimes they are online and I email a link to them) one of my best relationship-building tools. I love reading something and thinking, "Aha! Amy would love this one!" and then sending it along. It's a win-win - you get something of value and I get the opportunity to give you something useful that demonstrates that I genuinely know what's important to you and that I care. And when someone sends ME an article? Well, I am tickled pink. Even if it's not quite on target, the very act of you thinking of ME makes me happy.

I do notice that the articles my mom sends me tend to focus on a particular theme: They are typically about people who do what I do - coaches, speakers and trainers -- and are much more famous than I am. Because I know her and love her (and I know that she loves me), I recognize that her goal is not to make me feel like an underachiever. In fact, her consistent message through her articles is: "You should be every bit as famous as these people are - if not more!"  Mom, if it's bashert it's bashert. I know that you're relying on me to get you into the Oscars one day. Right now, I'm happy to have a job that I love. And thanks for always wanting the best for me!

So, as a personal and professional relationship-building tool, keep reading. And relating. And ripping. (Sending is, of course, the final step). Want me to send you an article? Email me your address and I'll pop one in the mail that you'll LOVE! Besides, I'm always looking for a reason to quit work early and cuddle up with the new Real Simple!

To your Succcess without the Tsuris,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Blessing of Your Blind Spot

Why always focusing on the big picture is short-sighted.

During a recent surgery (thank you, I'm fine), as I sat in the pre-op waiting room in a backside-baring gown, I realized that the fellow in the next cubicle kept looking at me. I admit that, on a typical day, my ego might have gotten a boost. But on this day, with no make-up, no sleep and no food, I was frustrated rather than flattered. I couldn't reach my curtain to close it. I couldn't find a nurse within earshot. There was only one thing I could do - I took off my glasses. As soon as I couldn't see my nosy neighbor, I didn't care who or what he was looking at.

Less sight, less tsuris.

U.S. Olympic bobsled pilot Steven Holcomb had been piloting his four-man sled virtually blind due to an eye disease when he decided to have surgery to restore his vision. While the operation was successful, Holcomb found that his newly sharpened vision interfered with the instinctive driving style he had developed to compensate for his lost eyesight. So he scratched and dirtied his visor, deliberately obscuring his vision so that he could go back to driving by feel.

His result? The Gold medal touch.

The best yoga class I ever took was when one contact lens fell out on the way to the gym. Instead of my regular Zen-free practice of comparing everyone else's upright Roman columns to my Leaning Tower of Pisa, I focused exclusively on enjoying my own experience.  


We all know that having a clear, concise and crisp vision is critical in our personal lives and for our organizations. In fact, I facilitate countless meetings that help teams and organizations clarify and articulate a shared vision. I begin my work with coaching clients by asking "what do you want?" to help them discover and crystallize their personal vision.

But in order to focus on what we want, and what we need to do to get it done, we sometimes need to deliberately blur our vision from peripheral distractions. By actively choosing to ignore (for a moment or for a while) what the other guy is doing, who's judging us, or how something looks rather than how it feels, we can better focus our time, energy, attention and actions.

Click here to download 10 Questions to Help You Focus on What's Most Important.

To your Success without the Tsuris,