Tag Archives: Listening

Awakening Our Intuition

Did you know that humans are the only mammals that don’t follow their guts? We often ignore that feeling deep in the pit of our stomach or the words choking us, paralyzed in the back of our throat. How many times have you reread a text or email message before hitting send? *Raises hand slowly.* Don’t worry, you’re not alone my friend.

Since March (and probably before then), I’ve been on a journey. I started what I call coach school at Coaches Training Institute (CTI) to become a co-active coach. This included five three day weekends where I learned and practiced techniques in a safe space. As I type this, I finished the final course and am heading towards certification.

A coaches most powerful tool is his/her intuition, that gut feeling that guides the coaching. I’ve always felt my intuition and knew from a young age that it held great power. Yet, early on in class, I let fear of being wrong or judged hold me back. As I practiced and grew, I saw that when I trusted myself and trusted my intuition, it was powerful beyond measure and resonated with others.

So what if you’re not in coach school? Why might your intuition be useful? Well, for starters, who knows you better than you?! No one is more equipped to understand you needs, wants, hopes and dreams better than your inner voice. You might call it something different – inner goodness or Winston Churchill. You name him/her/it and talk to them often. Listen to what he/she/it is saying and sense the response. At first, you might need a quieter place to do this. After some practice, it will become natural and you’ll have a track record of success.

And what if you don’t listen to your gut because sometimes you won’t. Each day is a new beginning, you still have a powerful intuitive sense that you can further cultivate. Find others who you trust and ask them to tell you a story. Listen with all of your intention, ask follow up questions and try to name emotions that might have come up for the storyteller. That’s one way to build your intuition muscle.

The more you use intuition to guide you and eventually others, the more you’ll seen it’s power. It is your North Star that shines its light so you can see the way. Intuition doesn’t create the journey but it does allow you to flow through energies and challenges with more confidence and ease

Silence IS Golden

I’m the type of person who can talk to a wall. For most of my life, this didn’t have disadvantages. It allowed me to make friends more easily and fed my curiosity.
Then I entered the real world, full of conference calls, where there was never enough time for everyone to speak. Thanks for a courageous director, I received the very helpful feedback to pause, be more intentional with my words and embrace silence. I wish someone would have told me that sooner!
Before that conversation, silence held a negative connotation for me. If you were silent after I spoke, you disagreed with what I said or were disengaged. In actuality, that’s not always the case. Often, especially in virtual settings, silence can mean that someone is processing what you just said, so they can share a thoughtful response.
quiet.png
I had been practicing this notion of embracing the silence when I began coach training in March. There again I got the feedback to slow down a bit and give my coachee time to process (hold the space as we call it). It wasn’t always easy but the more I did it, the more it paid off.
Then, this radical idea occurred to me. If I want to slow down, be more present and intentional, then maybe I too needed more silence in my life. Since I’m the type of person who constantly has music/podcasts on, this idea intrigued me. So after my March coaching class, I tried it out – silence for the first few minutes of my morning and the last few minutes of my night. Here’s how it’s helped:

 

  • If I’m overstimulated (think post board meeting or networking event), the silence helps me center and come back down, making it easier to fall asleep.
  • I find it easier to visualize my intention for the day when it’s quiet. This exercise provides me with clarity on what my immediate and long term priorities are.
  • I am more intentional when I share on calls at work, really thinking about my reason for speaking and the words I’m selecting to articulate.
Believe me, I still play a lot of music but I’m learning silence has its benefits. Now at work, I recognize how talking too much can have its drawbacks. There’s a place and time for all voices to be heard but overuse can lead to a belief that the person who speaks that much likes the sound of his/her voice. That’s not what I want my brand to be. I’ve noticed too that staying silent in meetings allows me to absorb what people are saying and hear what’s not being said.
Don’t worry, my voice is still definitely heard…now the words are making more of an impact.
What’s your feeling about silence? Share in the comments!

Speak Your Truth…Even If Your Voice Shakes

What’s your truth? That’s a big question that could be answered in so many ways. No matter what, it’s personal, whether it includes your values, experiences or mission. And when someone speaks their real, authentic truth, it’s undeniable.

Golden Globes tweetWhile watching the Golden Globes a few weeks ago, I tweeted part of Oprah’s acceptance speech (see photo to the left). Somehow, a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer found my tweet and wanted to interview me. She asked me a few questions that got me thinking: How do you verify someone’s truth?

You listen, like put the phone down, look someone in the eye listening.

We live in a world where anyone can jump on any bandwagon. Agree with a tweet from a celebrity? Just retweet it. Anyone can hide behind a hashtag. We also move a million miles an hour, multitasking whenever possible as to cram an extra six things into our day. We sacrifice relationships, eating, sleeping – the basic human necessities, but what happens when you stop and listen?

You learn fact from fiction. When you stop and have a conversation with someone, you build trust. Over time, that trust allows the other person to share the most imitate details of their life. Their truth. Of course, this type of relationship building takes time. But, I promise, it will happen.

Look at the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic team, as an example. If you watched their testimonies, you could see the vulnerability and the rawness of their emotions. Over 140 women banded together and as one shared, more shared. That’s the power in telling your story, in sharing your truth, even when your voice shakes.

Stop. Listen. Take every conversation and interaction in. And share your truth – your unapologetic, emotional truth. Have an opinion, think for yourself and if you would defend it in court, by all means, retweet it.

When we slow down and really hear people’s stories, we help to create a culture where people feel comfortable sharing. A culture of inclusiveness, where all stories are valued, where little girls see how powerful they can become when they step into their truth. Create THAT culture and I’m confident we’ll have less women waiting 20 years to report their harassment or abuse.

As women, sometimes, our voices aren’t always heard. I challenge you to make your presence known: Share an opposing perspective (respectfully), challenge the normal way of doing things, ask for what you need and want. Also, remember, there are men out there who support us. Just because some men harass and abuse does not mean all men harass and abuse.

Speak your truth, even if you voice shakes. Over time, you’ll become steady.

Speak your truth

 

The Lost Art of Storytelling

Think back to when you were a child. What was your favorite bedtime story, one you could hear over and over again? Now looking back, what was it about that story that intrigued you? The characters, a particular moral, a happy ending? Either way, it’s clear that stories, whether real or fictional, have the power to influence.

storytellingA few weeks ago, I listened to a presentation by Lani Peterson, an award-winning storyteller, author and public speaker. In her 60 minute talk, she spoke about how powerful personal stories can be if constructed correctly. Her main points are summarized below:

  • Stories need to be personal, emotional and connected to your values. If a story isn’t authentic, it loses its power. Having a powerful story positively contributes to your presence and identity.
  • As you’re telling your story to others, take time to step back and evaluate. Check in with yourself and others within your organization to ensure the story you’re telling is aligned to what others know or hear about you.
  • There is also immense power in listening, especially when you are new to a company and need to better understand their story and the motivations behind it. By listening, you can find common values between you and your colleagues or your company at large.

After listening to Lani, I reflected on what she said and really thought about my own story. I’d venture to say your personal and professional narratives are one in the same. You might need to tailor it to your audience. I asked myself the following questions to strengthen my story:

  • What do I want to be known for?
  • How did I get here/what did the journey look like?
  • If I wasn’t in the room and someone asked about Alex, what would I want that response to look like?

Your story is essentially your personal brand. It’s a tool you should use to build your credibility andbranding establish strong relationships with others. What I find challenging when developing your story is aligning it to your company’s values while also stay true to its meaning. Like Lani said, a story must be authentic to be powerful. But, it’s also important to message it correctly so it resonates with others within your organization.

As I move forward in my career journey, I plan to take Lani’s tips with me. I’ll also continue to evolve my story as I experience new things or challenges. How have you created a career narrative? Has it changed over time?

Upside Down

I started January 2015 with a brand new planner, a series of written-out resolutions and a game plan to make this year the best one yet. Full of good intentions, I resurrected my workout routine and meal prepping, determined to be healthier and happier in 2015.

Then, two weeks into this glorious new year, my world was turned upside down. A loved one passed away. Unfortunately, I know I’m not the first one to experience this and certainly won’t be the last. No matter how much you prepare, even the most type-A person doesn’t know what to do. Plans go out the window. You forgot what the word routine even means. You’re frozen, paralyzed  with a variety of emotions, unsure of how to get yourself unstuck. It’s a very weird place to be.

GreifSo you go through the motions, you say goodbye, then you’re left at home with more food and flowers than Whole Foods. Now what? Yeah, I can’t answer that question for you. I barely can answer it for myself. The few things I do know include:

  • You have to grieve. That’s going to look different for each person. But cry if you need to, yell if you must. Go through pictures and talk about your loved one. Do whatever you need to so you can accept this loss.
  • Listen to your body. True, there is some level of forcing yourself out of the rut you’re in, but your body will tell you what it needs. After a week of Italian cold cuts, my body told me to find a salad!
  • It’s going to look different for each person. When a loved ones dies, those who remain will react in a variety of ways. No two reactions are going to be the same. Just like you have to grieve, so does everyone else.
  • It’s ok to be upside down. Literally, that’s how I’ve felt the last couple of weeks. My mind would wander, I’d experience a wave of emotions all at once. For me, this is not how I operate. I have a schedule, a plan, for each day. Going rouge is not my thing. But, this is a traumatic experience, so I gave myself the permission to go off the grid. This is not an everyday occurrence, so your everyday gameplay won’t work.

I think I’m back to normal. I feel better than I did a week ago and assume I’ll feel even better in a month. This is the new normal and accepting that is the only way to move forward. Having concrete routines in place before all of this did help get me back on track. More about the importance of routines and how to develop them in my next post!

ROC Race Sprints Past Shutdown

A couple of months ago, my friend and I decided we were going to run the ROC race in Brooklyn. The ROC (Ridiculous Obstacle Course) is a 5K race held all over the nation that has different obstacles. From wrecking balls to water slides, this race has it all! We were super excited to run the race this upcoming weekend until the government decided to shut down.

The ROC race was being held at the Aviator Sports & Events Center, which is part of a national park. Since the government shutdown, all national parks have been temporarily closed, thus postponing this race. Obviously, race participants were not happy, myself included. Not only was I training for the race, but I also paid a decent amount of money to run. The ROC race understood all of this and responded in the best ways possible. Here are the couple of actions the race took to ensure all NYC race participants were happy:

roc-race1) Constant communication: The race has sent me at least six emails since the shutdown began. They provide detailed updates about the race, our registration and any other developments. Just this morning I received a reminder to not pick up our race packets since the race is postponed. Some may think it’s overkill, but I like being informed and updated.

2) Updates on all outlets: Not only have we gotten email communications, but the ROC race has done a great job of updating their website FAQs and posting on Facebook to keep everyone informed. Their Facebook updates are particularly helpful as it’s easier to read that on my iPHONE.

3) Contingency plans: The ROC race has been very intentional with their planning. They could not have possibly known the government was going to shut down and postpone their race. They have set deadlines and already secured the space for next weekend, in the hopes that the shutdown will be over by this coming Monday. They are also taking race set-up and participant notification into consideration: If the shutdown isn’t over by Monday (October 14), they will not run the race that upcoming weekend. They are not trying to rush and just get the race done. They care enough about their participants to make sure the experience and execution are flawless.

4) Listening skills: When the race was first postponed, runners had two options: Run the race on the new date or transfer registration to another ROC race in a different location or on a different date. Once that news got out, people reacted strongly and were upset that they couldn’t choose a refund instead of a registration transfer. Race leadership responded quickly and created two additional options: a complete refund or a registration transfer to a friend. This absolutely showed how the race is primarily concerned with their runners’ experience and are willing to change plans in order to accommodate more participants.

Overall, I think the ROC race handled a difficult situation really well. Of course, there are still unhappy participants and everyone still wishes the race would run this weekend. But, given the circumstances, race leadership dealt with this mini crisis in a positive and professional way.

Why Is This SO Hard?

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I thought about writing a post all about love but that would be one giant cliché. Instead, let’s keep moving on this Truth Challenge. Today’s prompts were especially hard for me.

Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.

I started the search for these answers by asking my 8 and 9-year-old siblings. Samantha’s response was she likes how I watch her dance. Antonio said I make the best pancakes. Clearly, these kids are the best and always make me feel like a rockstar. They did start the wheels in my head turning.

I’d venture to say the one trait people compliment me most on is my loyalty. I am beyond loyal; I will do anything for the people I love. I will work extra hard on a project I’m passionate about. The one I thing I know I’m good at is being there and showing up for the people I care about. I think my friends and family will agree when I say, if I love you, I will give you everything I have.

Something I never get compliments on is probably my ability to listen. Well, that’s not entirely true. If you need to vent, I will absolutely listen to you and give you my honest feedback. But, I am much more a talker than a listener. Once I start talking, it is usually very hard to get me to stop. One of my personal and professional goals is to be a better active listener and to curve my talking enthusiasm.

Do you agree with my compliment assessment? Share your thoughts with me!

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and loving thy self, have a listen to Jennifer Hudson’s jam from Sex and the City.

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