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Did you know that it takes people on average 6 months to be able to go 21 consecutive days without complaining?

It makes going complaint-free easier said than done.

I heard about this challenge on CBC’s Tapestry 

How does it work?

For 21 days you cannot complain, blame, criticize or gossip.  You wear a wristband and you switch it to the other wrist as soon as you catch yourself doing any of the above.  These are the rules set out by Will Bowen who will even send you a purple wrist band (I hear they are on back order), along with his book.

What do I do instead?

Does it mean you are just going to be positive and not notice anything negative around you? Not at all. It means you express what you see, but you stay out of judgment and blame and you rephrase it.

Instead of saying:

“I can’t believe that team is so incredibly slow. They should have finished that part ages ago!”

Say:

“The team has not delivered the results at the promised and agree upon time. I am curious as to what happened and I am going to find out.”

It also works at home.

Instead of saying:

“Ah, all you do is watch your youtube (insert favourite social media), I can’t believe you didn’t clean the kitchen!”

Perhaps try:

“We agreed that you could clean the kitchen. I see it has not been done. What happened? What is your plan for getting it done?”

Language Matters

When you are in blame, you cannot be in kind and supportive mode at the same time. When you complain, you cannot be solution-oriented at the same time.

You may not have a choice in what triggers or annoys you, but you do have a choice in the language you choose. It takes more effort to reframe you complaint into neutral language, but it is well worth it to create a kinder, more productive work place. When we are in a positive frame of mind we see more solutions (the happiness advantage) Blaming, gossiping and complaining do not contribute to this positive frame of mind.  

Maya Angelou had some thoughts on a world without complaints:

 

Join in

You can get the official plastic band or the app, but any bracelet or elastic wrist band will do.

I am getting started today - I bet it won’t be as easy as it seems.  

Join in and share what you discover. 

 

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Unlimited Potential has teamed up with Yellow Boots Leadership to introduce the Deliberate Shift Coaching Program. The article below is from an interview with Ottawa writer Kaarina Stiff

It's About Leadership

Deliberate Shift has launched an innovative new leadership coaching program for people who want to think creatively about how they lead.

Deliberate Shift co-founder Ellen Melis says this program digs deeper than other coaching programs.

“It’s a different way of making leadership development come to life,” says Melis. “Fundamentally, it’s about bringing people to a different place.”

The program includes an intensive three-day workshop, followed by one-on-one coaching, group support calls, and a community of practice with other leaders.

“This is not just a workshop—it’s a leadership development program that is for people who say ‘I want to lead differently’,” Melis continues. “It’s about deliberate leadership that engages people, going from telling people what to do to getting the best out of them.”

Beyond Coaching Skills

Both Melis and co-founder Tammy McLennan are certified executive coaches. They created Deliberate Shift to fill a need they saw in the market for a program that goes beyond basic coaching skills. It combines traditional skills building, like how to listen effectively and ask better questions, with a heavy emphasis on self-awareness that creates space for people to think about how they want to “show up” as a leader.

“A big passion for me is reducing the tension between work and life,” says McLennan. “You can’t separate who you are outside of work from who you are at work.”

Most leaders are challenged to find time to explore these thoughts in a busy work environment that’s full of back-to-back meetings. Through the three-day workshop, the program guides people to think deeply about who they are as leaders, and to examine how they can lead more deliberately, based on what drives them to do their best work.

“We take time with people so they can reflect,” says McLennan. “We work with people to help them figure out who they are as a leader, how they show up, and how they want to show up as a leader—we create the space for all of that to happen.”

Integration with LEADS

The program has a unique link to the LEADS leadership framework, which is used extensively in the healthcare sector and promotes a holistic view of what it means to lead. Consistent with LEADS, the Deliberate Shift Coaching program includes a follow-up 360-degree feedback process, which helps participants broaden their understanding of the impact their leadership approach has on others.

The Deliberate Shift Coaching Program is best suited to individuals who are ready to think hard about the changes they can make, and want to have more deliberate conversations with the people they work with. It’s an excellent way for whole groups or organizations to bring about a culture shift because it gives people a common framework and a common language to work from, which builds trust across the entire team.

“This is really perfect for organizations that are committed to creating a more engaging culture with individuals who are prepared to do the hard work,” says Melis.

Beyond doing - It's about showing up differently

A key quality that sets this program apart from other leadership offerings is the follow-up work that continues after the workshop is over. Melis and McLennan call it “a leadership shift that sticks”, because they designed the program to be practical and long lasting.

“We give a lot of time in the workshop and in the coaching to look at where you are now and where you want to be, and then identifying the path that’s going to take you there and help you stay there,” says Melis.

The impact of a program like this is profound for people who embrace it, McLennan adds, because it introduces the value of slowing down and preparing for deliberate conversations in a way that they didn’t think of before.

“People have described that shift as ‘life-changing’ once they gain these new insights” says McLennan. “It’s so powerful to be able to have real conversations about things that matter and see how quickly you feel connected to other people when you do that.”

Melis and McLennan are also excited to be doing this together.

“When we work together, we play off each other’s creativity and we do our best work,” Melis says. “That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about this — this really is our best work. It’s fresh, it’s different, it’s fun — and it really makes a difference.”

More info and to Sign up

For more information about Deliberate Shift and upcoming workshops, visit the Deliberate Shift website.

 

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I often hear leaders in organizations ask about how they can “make” people take more accountability for their personal and leadership development. You can’t really “make” people do anything, but these 4 simple questions will provide you with lots of insight on how to make personal and leadership development matter to your team.

Four simple questions:

Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey (2009) suggest that you know that an organization had people taking ownership of their ongoing development when you could walk into an organization and any person could tell you:

  • What is the one thing they are working on that will require that they grow to accomplish it
  • How they are working on it
  • Who else knows and cares about it
  • Why this matters to them


Reference: Immunity to change. How to overcome it and unlock the potential in yourself and your organization. Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, 2009.

 

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As part of my leadership reading list on Lead Self, the book: The power of Coincidence: How life shows us what we need to know by David Richo is probably one of the more spiritual books I have read on self-awareness… While some the content of this book is beyond my grasp (or maybe my interest) I do take away three self-awareness insights. 

Much of this book is centered around letting go of the things that lead to needing to “be right”, “be in control”, “stay in fear” or “wanting to retaliate.” In letting go of those you make room for generosity, openness and letting life and love in. It also allows you to be a better leader in making more room for others.

Pause at the Pauses in Life

Life comes with its share of unexpected changes and events. Many of us have the tendency to fill the “in between spaces” with action and activity to avoid the quiet. Maybe the pauses are similar to the quiet in between plot developments in a book. The pause we take in these “in between” stages are an important part of growth. The hard part is to be quiet and observe rather than fill the space with “busyness.” A quote: “impatience is a refusal to honour the built-in timing of events.”

Take away: Have the courage to be quiet and to let go of controlling and willing events in the “in between” stages. Great thing show up when we are least looking for them.

Spot Fear, Attachment, Control and Entitlement

There is quite a bit in this book about the Ego and the Self – lots of it is based on Jung’s theories. The bottom line is that the Ego can get in the way of who we want to be and can show up as fear, attachment, control and entitlement. Time is spent in the book on converting this to the opposites:

  • Fear becomes love
  • Attachment becomes letting go
  • Control becomes allowing and honoring others’ freedom
  • Entitlement becomes standing up for our rights without retaliation if they are not respected

Takeaway: Fear thrives on isolation and powerlessness. When we admit our fears and share, it decreases the power it hold over us.

Mindfulness Exercise – letting go of 5 layers


Many of us have the tendency to distance ourselves from emotional reactions or to give in to drama. Mindfulness is simply “noticing our feelings and paying attention to them.” The book speaks of mindfulness as a way to visit the mind rather than be a prisoner to it.

Here one exercise to try.
Form an image of your current problem, concern or crisis. Sit comfortable and imagine that your problem is cupped in your hands in the image of a ball - a ball that is covered in 5 layers. Feel the weight of the ball and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is scary about this problem and how are you holding on to fear, or being stopped or pushed by it?
    • Once you are aware if it, imagine yourself peeling it away and dropping it as you let go of the need to fear this.
  • How invested are you in controlling the outcome of this problem and how are you trying to maintain control of others around you?
    • Imagine yourself peeling away this layer and letting go of the need to control this.
  • How are you blaming this problem on someone else?
    • Let go of this layer and affirm that you let go of the need to blame anyone for this.
  • How are you feeling shame or guilt about having this problem?
    • Peel it away too to let go of the need to feel ashamed of this
  • How are you letting your serenity become dependent upon whether you can bring everything back to normal?
    • Peel this final layer away and let go of the need to fix this.

Now ask yourself what is left of the original problem. What does the ball feel like now and what is left of it? Let go of that.

Takeaway: Letting go of fear, control, blame, shame and the need to fix things creates space for new insights.

If you are interested in exploring these aspects of self-awareness as part of your leadership journey – this book is a good introduction with plenty of practical exercises and reflections.

 

 

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I often coach people who come to me because they feel stuck in a soul-sucking job, who feel they are stuck on a treadmill and who know their passion lies somewhere else. They want to write for a living, work for an environmental not for profit agency or work less and go back to school. They carry their “shoulds” as well as those of other people on their shoulders. They know what their dreams are yet their own voices in their heads and the voices of those around them tell them it’s not possible. And yet it stares them in the face and simply won’t leave their thoughts. Stop doing what you think you should be doing and start doing what you love. Because when you do what you are meant to do - you do your best work.

If this sounds like you – grab yourself a journal ask yourself these 10 questions:

1. If money was no obstacle and you knew you couldn’t fail – what is possible?

Take your time with this question. Once people let go of restrictions that lack of money, time or fear of failure brings they are often crystal clear about what they want and a picture begins to take shape. You can’t create your impossible future unless you create it and stand in the middle of it. Notice that the question is “what is possible?” We often go to “action” or “doing” – this question is so open you could go anywhere (including action).

2. What is it costing you to stay where you are?

Be honest and tell yourself what it is costing you. It can be your health, happiness, but also how you are with yourself and others. Be specific in what it is costing you physically, mentally, socially, spiritually and fiscally.

3. What can you pull from?

Take some time to reflect on:
a. When in your life did you go after what you really wanted to do?
b. What strengths did you use then?
c. Which ones can serve you now?

Answer these questions one at a time. Sometimes I ask this question differently: “What got you here?” The answers I have heard include: “ I am smart, I work hard, I knew it was the right thing to do, when I want something I don’t give up…” What is possible if you applied these strengths to your passion?

4. What is holding you back?

This question brings up any real or ‘imagined’ obstacles. I use the word ‘imagined’ because many obstacles exist only in your head. Sometimes the obstacles are very practical “I need money to live”, others are about fear of failure, still others are about judgment of others or not having enough skills or knowledge. Write them down. When you write the obstacles down you can tackle them and assess how you can tackle them. You can assess what’s underneath those fears and obstacles. If money is a fear – be clear about how much money you do need to live. Every obstacle can be overcome.

5. What are the parts that need to come together for you to move forward on this?

For some people this question is answered with a straightforward action plan. For others the answer is a thinking framework or data points for reflection. For some it is clarity of focus. The more clear you can be about this – the easier it is to figure out where to start or where the blockage points are that require further thinking.

6. Who can help / support you in this?

Who can help you? Whose support will make a difference? It could be those who are successful at what they do. It could be joining a group of like-minded people. It could be the support of your boss, peer , friend or spouse. We often think we have to go it alone You don’t. People love to support others in their dreams. Ask for what is helpful to you and share your dream.

7. What IS possible?

We focus so much on what is not possible. This question is about what IS possible. Seeing new possibilities often requires a mental model shift. How can you see what is possible right now? Describe what is possible AND take note of what mental shifts need to happen.

8. What steps will you take to make this happen?

Anchor your thinking in action. What steps can you take in the next 2 weeks? Break your plan down in small, actionable steps. Then work on something every day. Where your focus goes, your results will flow. Imagine doing one small thing every day for 100 days. Watch where you will be.

9. Ignore the nay-sayers

There will be people who will say it is hard, that it is impossible. That you can’t make money as a writer or a musician, that the VP job will kill you or is out of your reach. And one of those voices will be in your head. Ignore it or work to prove it wrong.

10. Be courageous and say it out loud

This is your life and you get to be the driver. Is it going to be hard? Probably. Is it going to be scary? Perhaps. It is also life-changing, worth it and possible. Put it out there and ask the Universe.

And if you needed a little more encouragement, watch this moving commencement speech by Jim Carey about how his father inspired him to follow his dreams.

 

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