Integrity


September 15, 2019

“Think of one person in your world you’ve been meaning to connect with: to get to know better or to actually make time for.  Surprise them: write them a note, find time to talk, or tell them about something that made you think of them.  Ask them about something they enjoy, and find out why they like it….” – From the book The Happiness Hack

Honest, thoughtful, clear communication creates the foundation for fulfilling, lasting personal and business relationships.  Those bonds, in turn, become the foundation for our success in life. And whether you realize it or not, people really DO notice how you behave when you communicate (or don’t) and judge you by your words AND actions.

Over my fifteen years of coaching, I have witnessed a number of less-than-optimal communication “manners” among my clients that I know can limit their success. So want to share with you, too, a few practical tips for making your own communication habits more effective, successful and enjoyable:

  • Give them your undivided attention. When I coach, I sit at my desk, listening intently and taking notes about what my clients are saying, occasionally taking a sip of water (as quietly as possible) when my throat gets dry. Most of them give me their undivided attention, too.  But over the years, I have heard some clients banging pots and pans, running water, dragging furniture, chewing gum (or food) and slurping beverages. I often wonder if they do the same things while talking to their customers, colleagues and loved ones. The message this sends to your conversation partner is that “You are not important enough to me to give you my undivided attention.”  So please don’t multi-task while you are on the phone. (And PLEASE don’t be looking at or on your phone in the presence of someone you are supposed to be paying attention to – including your kids!)
  • Don’t avoid a conversation. Many of my clients are used to texting or messaging their friends, customers and prospects. Rarely do they pick up the phone, even if the conversation is likely to have extended back and forth questions and answers. If you want to speak to someone, CALL them and leave a voice mail if they don’t pick up.  In this text-happy world, leaving a voice message conveys to your listener that they matter SO much to you that you actually wanted to have a real conversation them! One of my clients who took my advice to CALL her prospects reported that the ratio of replies she got was triple what her texts had always garnered.  REMINDER: texting is to be avoided at all costs when you have a complicated or difficult situation to work through with someone.  One of my clients had a minor issue blow up into a huge dramatic to-do because she tried to handle it via text instead of talking it out with the other party.  Your positive energy rubs off on others when you use your VOICE, not typed words on a screen.
  • Answer messages promptly. Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. If you want your teammates, customers, prospects and loved ones to return YOUR messages, ask yourself how promptly YOU respond to emails, texts and voice mails. Many of my clients complain about lack of response from others, but when I send them an urgent or critical email, I have learned to put PLEASE RESPOND in capital letters in the subject line – and some of them still never answer. Causing other people to wonder and worry about whether you got their message or something is wrong between you will not make them enjoy communicating with you.  Is your voice mailbox full?  Do you have a week’s worth of emails or 20 texts you haven’t looked at?  If you don’t respond to others in a timely manner, the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) dictates that others will not respond to YOU.
  • Keep your word. This is the #1 MUST for effective communication.  If you made an appointment to meet someone at Starbucks and then just didn’t show up, you can imagine how they will react!  Is it any less of an affront if you stand them up for a phone appointment they planned on and made time for?  As soon as you realize that you are running late or can’t make it, CALL or at least text them.  They will forgive you if you apologize and give a BRIEF explanation (not a rambling, self-serving excuse). But if they call and you are just not there, they will get the message loud and clear that they don’t matter much to you.
  • Be clear and concise. Don’t beat around the bush with a long preamble or let yourself wander off on tangents containing lots of details that are not important to your central message.  Trying to follow your meandering thoughts, waiting for you to get to the point, wears out your listener and assures they will tune you out and just pretend to be listening.  A tell-tale sign that you are inserting too many inconsequential details into your speaking is if you regularly interrupt yourself with “Well, anyway….” Or “Long story short….”  My favorite reminder to stick to the point comes from my friend and mentor Leslie Zann, a talented speaker and ace trainer for the network marketing/direct sales industry.  Leslie always teaches, “If it’s not necessary to say, it’s necessary NOT to say it.”

I hope these communication tips will help you to create relationships built on mutual trust, honesty and respect. Those are bonds that last and will bring you rich rewards!

*****************Give Yourself the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled *****************

To schedule a no-obligation, F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help you clarify your Big Goals and get into ACTION on making them a reality, please email me TODAY at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.   

August 18, 2019

“You are valuable because you exist.  Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are.” — Max Lucado, author and pastor

Today’s blog topic came to me from a conversation I had this week with a client who was having a mini-meltdown on our call over her perceived shortcomings when it came to being productive. This is the end of her summer, as she is preparing to resume teaching school next week.

She was beating herself up for watching too much TV and spending too much time on social media recently, when she believed she should have used every available minute of her final free time to build her network marketing business.

For most of the summer, she has had to deal with a series of complex family issues, principally, the unexpected serous illness of her parent. Other family members also needed her support with health and financial issues.  Nevertheless, she felt guilty for not doing and being “more” for the past couple of weeks.

I imagine she expected me to agree with her harsh self-assessment and give her an accountability lecture.  Instead, I surprised her by recommending that she lighten the mental and emotional burden she has placed on herself with a big ol’ dollop of grace and self-love.

Of course, I support playing full out for a Big Goal.  If you really, really want something – especially if it has a drop-dead deadline – you need to be willing to work smart every available minute and use every mindset and Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) tool available to help you succeed.  Playing full out demonstrates your commitment to your Big Goal and causes God/The Universe and your own subconscious mind to conspire together to give you a boost with the “How.”

But there’s a hidden danger if you are always running at breakneck speed from one goal to the next.  While reaching important short-term goals can require a full-out sprint for a limited period, achieving long-term success is more like running a marathon.  You have to pace yourself or you risk physical and emotional burnout, as I believe my client was experiencing.

Most importantly, you must always remember that you are not defined by your achievements.  You are valuable and worthy simply for being the unique and special person you are.

As a Personal Success Coach, my job is to help my clients get whatever they want in life.  The Big Goal they choose to pursue is up to them – greater prosperity, a fitter body, a loving relationship or a successful business.  Nobody, including me, can tell them what their heartfelt goals should be.  Nor should they put undue pressure on themselves to reach those goals at the expense of having life balance, fun and fulfillment.  If they become so driven to succeed that pursuing their Big Goal feels like a burden, I recommend taking a step back to examine their true motivation.

Many people have a strong “Why” for pursuing a goal, especially a financial goal.  One of my clients wants to succeed at her business so her mother can retire from her job.  Several want their spouses to be able to quit their jobs to pursue their dreams or spend more time with their family.  Some are motivated to financially support a cause they care deeply about. Those are all great reasons for consistently doing the daily activities that will get them closer to their goals with a sense of joy and enthusiasm.

But I have seen some people approach their daily tasks with a joyless, teeth-gritted, “this is hard, but I MUST do it” mindset and energy. I believe they are actually driven by the idea that they must prove their value through their achievements.  Their sense of self-worth depends on outer successes and the approval of others.

One of my clients recently shared a journaling she had done to explore her Limiting Belief that “If I give it my all and fail, my life has been a waste.”  This was her Ego’s internal worst case scenario about what might happen if she didn’t reach the level of success in her business that she wanted.  In the course of her self-exploration, she had the Ah-Ha Moment that she doesn’t remember her father saying “I love you” very often when she was growing up.  But she does remember him frequently saying, “I am so proud of you.”

Thus, her father’s pride in her accomplishments became her Ego’s path to “earning” the unconditional love she truly craved. She wrote, “I think this has sort of made me think that if I can’t do something that makes a splash, it’s not worth doing and certainly not worth talking about. So I find myself striving for that over-achiever status.  I feel like anything less is pointless and even something to feel shameful about, so I just don’t talk about it.”

Being human, I am sure each of us has felt at some time that we are not good enough. For some, it’s about their appearance:  “I’m not…young enough, pretty enough, thin enough…” to be worthy of receiving unconditional love and acceptance from those I care about.

For me and others, it’s about our performance: “I didn’t go to the gym.  I didn’t get an A.  I didn’t win the competition.  I didn’t put on the perfect birthday party for my child.”  Therefore, I suck.

The truth is, your inherent value doesn’t increase or decrease with age, beauty, fitness level, accomplishments, job productivity or salary.

As minister Joel Osteen, puts it, “You are the apple of God’s eye” simply because you exist. If you are alive on planet earth, you are enough.  In fact, you are PRICELESS.  Otherwise, you are claiming that only the pretty, thin, A Students, celebrities and sports stars are worthy of God’s love, their own self-love and the approval of people whose opinion matters. What about the rest of us, then?

As the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently said, we should not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.  He didn’t say we should be judged by our achievements either!

So if you long to take a little break from your pursuit of success to just float in the pool from time to time, do what your heart calls you to do.  When you are working, give it your 100% BEST…. And when you occasionally need to relax and recharge, allow yourself to REALLY enjoy and be fully present to it, without guilt or shame.  Schedule adequate time for both work and play and you CAN have it all.

I urge you to make this your daily mantra: I am not my job title or accomplishments.  I am whole, complete and perfect, just as I am. I am the apple of God’s eye and I am ENOUGH.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: The blog will be on vacation for the next two weekends while Rick and I relax and recharge ourselves with a little stay-cation.  A Cup of Caroll will return after Labor Day with a brand new post on Sunday, September 8.   I hope YOU enjoy the last sweet moments of summer with your loved ones too!

If you would like your own F.R.E.E. subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to http://practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top to enter your name and email.

****************** Give Yourself the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

To schedule a no-obligation F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help you clarify your Big Goals and get into ACTION on making them a reality, email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

June 16, 2019

 Happy Father’s Day in the USA!  I gratefully acknowledge everyone who is a father or who acts as a role model/mentor for someone else. The influence of a strong, positive role model on a young child is one of life’s most precious gifts, and those heroes don’t always get the credit they deserve for fulfilling this challenging role.

 I was originally planning to take this week off from writing the blog, to give me time to celebrate my upcoming birthday and prepare for this week’s training in the third annual Prosperity Summer Camp webinar series. But since today is Father’s Day, I decided to re-post a tribute to fathers everywhere that I last published in 2016 and share with my many new readers the invaluable life lessons that my own wonderful father taught me.

(I dedicate this blog to my own Big Bro, who is the father of six wonderful men and women and grandfather to five amazing grandchildren – Much love from your Lil Sis!)

 June 19, 2016

 “Love life, engage in it, give it all you’ve got.  Love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.” – Maya Angelou

This quote from the late, great Maya Angelou perfectly describes the way my Dad lived his life.  Although his years on earth were far too short, he lived each of them with maximum gusto and I am quite sure he had no regrets when he died suddenly at age 57, right at the beginning of my senior year of high school.

My mother was my source of unconditional love, whatever minor discipline I needed, and the usual “always wear clean underwear for the ambulance” practical advice.

My father was my playmate, teacher, walking thesaurus/dictionary/encyclopedia, and my #1 Role Model.  I don’t remember him talking to me directly about rules to live by. Instead, he just lived his life on his own terms and I learned how I wanted to live mine by observing how he did it.

Here are the key Rules for Abundant Living that I got from observing the happiness and fulfillment my Dad derived from living by them himself:

  • Be happy – Other than the day President Kennedy was assassinated, when I saw him cry for the first time, my Dad was invariably optimistic, cheerful and humorous. He loved to laugh at and tell jokes (especially bad puns), watched all the 60s comedy TV shows with me, and could find the hidden humor or irony in any problem. From him, I decided that hanging out with happy, positive people is the only way to go!  While I got my inclination to worry from my mother, I got my sense of humor from my father.  Guess which trait has helped me more in life?
  • Be curious – My Dad was the most insatiable life-long learner I’ve ever known. He never passed by a used bookstore without buying something.  He left behind boxes of notebooks and reading materials on everything from Elizabethan poetry to paranormal science.  It’s too bad he didn’t live into the Internet Age because he would have spent hours Googling everything.  He taught me how great it could be to know a little bit about a lot of things (which led a high school English teacher to dub me a “Renaissance Woman”). Dad never pontificated about his own views, but sought to learn from others’ opinions. His attitude set me up for career success because coaching requires more listening than talking, being curious instead of judgmental, and having a wide variety of resources at my fingertips to support my clients’ needs.
  • Be creative – My Dad was one of the most creative problem-solvers I’ve ever known. He was an amateur inventor who came up with what he believed was a breakthrough system for teaching reading that was better than phonics. Unfortunately, he died before he got to finish it. My Dad taught me to stretch my imagination and ingenuity with his homemade inventions, like a teeter-totter I could play on all by myself, consisting of a long board balanced on an old oil drum and weighted on the other side with bricks that were equal to my weight. (This was in the days before “helicopter parenting” and Cal OSHA, you understand.)
  • Be of service – By Dad’s example, I learned that while life can be enjoyable when we meet our own needs, it can be truly fulfilling only when we help others meet their needs. He voluntarily gave up a lucrative professorship at the University of California to teach at a community college where he felt he could make a bigger difference teaching remedial English to working adults striving to improve their lives.

Dad took a personal interest in Mrs. Edwards, an elderly widow in his night school class who wanted to improve her English. One day he hitched a trailer to our station wagon and filled it with boxes of hand-me-down clothes and a used refrigerator. Then my parents, Mrs. Edwards and I drove from Orange County to Tecate, Mexico to give her extended family these precious gifts.  I was just eight, but I still remember what the dirt-floored, one-room adobe shack smelled like, with all the flies buzzing about. I am certain those strangers never forgot my Dad’s generosity.

Looking back, our relationship reminds me a lot of the bond between Atticus Finch and his young daughter, Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Like Atticus, my Dad was older when I was born, so we didn’t do much physical play together; our father-daughter bond was more spiritual and mental. And luckily for me, like Atticus, my father demonstrated by his daily life exactly how to be self-confident and stand up for one’s principles, while remaining respectful of the different abilities, lifestyles and opinions of others.

In short, Prof. Harbison Parker was my #1 Role Model for how to “love life, engage in it and give it all you’ve got.” And I feel blessed to be his daughter.

PLEASE NOTE: The blog is taking next Sunday off.  It’s my birthday!  A Cup of Caroll will return with a new blog on Sunday June 30.

If you or your friends would like your own F*R*E*E* subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to http://practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top to enter your name and email.

 *************** Give Yourself the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled******************

To schedule a no-obligation, F*R*E*E* hour of phone coaching that will help you clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make them a reality, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com TODAY!

 

 

May 19, 2019

Hard to believe, but Memorial Day is just one week away and Summer is almost here! I am very busy preparing for the third annual Prosperity Summer Camp webinar, so I am re-publishing a lightly-edited fan favorite post from two years ago that is as relevant today as it was then. I hope it inspires you to get moving on your Action Plans so that you can have the success you deserve!

April 9, 2017

 “If you only did the things you don’t want to do, you’d have everything you want.” – Mel Robbins

What critical tasks are you dragging your feet about doing right now because you just don’t “feel” like it?

I have to be honest, for me today, it’s writing this blog.  I love to write, but I have a lot of things I’d rather doing on a beautiful Spring day besides sitting in front of my computer, trying to come up with words that might inspire my readers to be more efficient, successful and fulfilled in their lives.

No matter how much you value keeping your word to yourself and others, I am sure you, too, know exactly what it’s like to want to avoid doing something that you know will benefit you or someone else.

The human Ego much prefers that you sit on the couch, safe and comfy, not doing anything that will challenge the status quo in your life.  Pursuing your Big Goals usually requires sustained effort, self-discipline, risk and emotional or physical discomfort.

Of course, Life Coach Mel Robbins is 100% right. Instead of keeping “busy” sharpening pencils, cleaning out the junk drawer, procrastisnacking, re-arranging your lists, perusing (and envying) others’ Facebook posts and binge-watching just ONE more episode of your favorite show –  consider where you could be if you had just plunged in and finished the very tasks you DON’T want to do: Make the calls, go to the gym, update your resume and go for the job you really want, apply for a business loan, join an online dating service, call your friend and apologize for the fight you had? What would your life would look like right now?

One of my clients recently made me laugh when she blurted out, “I didn’t read your blog this week.  I HATE reading blogs.”

Really?  You hate getting tips that can help you succeed?  You hate being challenged and inspired?  You hate developing yourself as a person?  You hate learning how others have overcome the same challenges you are facing? You hate stretching your belief about what is possible for you?

I was tempted to shoot back, “Well, sometimes I hate WRITING the blog!”  But that’s not true.  I actually love writing – or I would not have put in the thousands of hours of effort over my lifetime to develop that skill.

But do I love being 100% accountable for producing a blog that consumes half of my Saturday three times a month?  Heck NO! I would much prefer to be in my backyard right now, stretched out on the chaise lounge with an iced tea and a good book.  That would be nice for ME, but what about my readers, who read it and write comments such as, “This is exactly what I needed to hear today.”  Or “I felt so relieved to read that – Now I know I’m not alone.” THAT is what keeps me accountable.

Not everything we do is for someone else, of course.  Most of the tasks we avoid doing are uncomfortable things we don’t want to do that will bring us what we say WE want.

In her wonderful, tell-it-like-it-is book, Get Over Your Damn Self, direct sales superstar Romi Neustadt admits that even SHE doesn’t want to be accountable for doing the daily activities that have made her a multi-millionaire in a few short years.

According to Romi, “You’ve got to figure out what it is you really want that you don’t already have.  Whatever it is, it’s got to be important enough to get you to do something with commitment and consistency.  It’s got to be important enough to get you up, to make one more phone call, to reach out to one more person….even when you are bone-ass weary.  Because if we want something bad enough in this life, we make it happen.  It’s just that simple.”

Here’s Romi’s great method for overcoming the Ego’s preference for avoiding all uncomfortable tasks: At the beginning of her business, she wrote down her WHY for pursuing it in vivid detail, including both the carrot and the stick. She listed all the great things a successful business could produce for her and her family AND all the tragic disappointments that would occur if she DIDN’T succeed.

She kept that piece of paper by her bed and read it first thing every single morning before her feet ever hit the floor. She used it as leverage to make herself get up and do the tasks she didn’t want to do, but knew she MUST do, in order to fulfill her WHY.

Mel Robbins has her own simple, powerful method to counteract the Ego’s preference for safe inertia. She calls it “The 5 Second Rule.”  Most of my coaching clients have watched Mel’s short presentation about this.

I share the link to her TEDx talk with you below and urge you to spend 20 important minutes being entertained and confronted with the reality that you have just five seconds to do what you promised yourself to do when the time comes to do it.  If you stall longer than five seconds, like a skilled legal litigator, your wily Ego will make a compelling argument for why it would be better to “wait until tomorrow” to carry out your task.  Guess what the outcome will be if you listen to that compelling little voice inside your head instead of getting into action right NOW?

That’s right, you will never get your WHY. Instead, you will earn a comfortable seat on the sidelines, watching as others get their WHYs.

So what’s it going to be for YOU?  You have five seconds to decide.

Here’s Mel Robbins TEDx talk “Stop Screwing Yourself Over” about the Five Second Rule: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp7E973zozc

PLEASE NOTE: Next Sunday the blog will be taking the day off for Memorial Day Weekend.  A Cup of Caroll will return on Sunday, June 2.

If you would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to my website at http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them contact me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com  to schedule their session.   

April 14, 2019

“Change is unavoidable.  Change sometimes feels uncomfortable, at least at first.  Change is often messy.  Change takes time, patience and commitment.  Change requires planning, perspective and an investment of time and energy.  Change opens the door to valuable new possibilities, discoveries and adventures.” – From the book Getting Unstuck: 10 Simple Secrets to Embracing Change and Celebrating Your Life.

From time to time, I like to share the advice and wisdom of other coaches and Master Manifesters with my readers.  One is my former personal trainer, Rose Zahn, who owns the Healthy Habits workout studio in Sacramento, California, where I lived in the 1990’s. Rose helped me get into great shape, both physically, mentally and spiritually. In a recent blog, she shared the unvarnished truth about the mindset you must adopt in order to reach ANY Big Goal:

“We are living in a have-it-all, have-it-now world. Access to anything you desire is literally a key stroke away.

There’s one-click ordering. There’s food delivery in 30 minutes or less. There’s credit available with the swipe of a card.

More so than any time in history, we have forgotten the art of sacrifice.

Can you blame us? Mainstream marketing tells us hundreds of times each day that we should have it all, and that we should have it right now.

The problem with this have-it-all-right-now mindset is that real accomplishments require sacrifice and delayed gratification. And these real accomplishments are where true satisfaction is found.

Think about it for a moment. When was the last time that you felt proud of something that you’ve done? I doubt that it was for the shoe purchase that you just one-click ordered online 🙂 More likely it was for a big project that you tackled at work, or a meal that you cooked for your family, or an 5K (or marathon!) that you worked hard for and finished.

Those proud moments have one thing in common: they all required sacrifice and delayed gratification. You gave up your time, you invested your attention and efforts, you put in the miles and the effort for a considerable period of time…

And then you achieved your goal and experienced that sweet satisfaction.

Learning how to sacrifice and delay gratification, rather than getting something right now, is a skill set. This skill set can grow as you use it more often. Just like a muscle that becomes stronger under resistance, your ability to sacrifice your immediate needs in favor of a larger accomplishment will improve the more you use it.

Sacrifice and delayed gratification are the name of the game when it comes to getting into great shape. Get comfortable with sacrifice and you’ll achieve any goal.

I know that’s not what any of us want to hear. We’d prefer the one-click-to-dream-body button over months of a controlled diet plan and challenging workouts. But by embracing and enhancing your ability to sacrifice you’ll gain traction on all of your big life goals, including getting that dream body.

I’m here to help you achieve your fitness goals. Yes, it’s going to require that you put in hard work and sacrifice, and I’ll be there with you every step of the way. Call or email me today to get started.”

Rose Zahn www.healthyhabitsstudio.com

I am working on my own personal fitness goal right now, and I can admit that delaying the gratification of yummy foods and adult beverages is the hardest part for me.  But I know that it will be SO worth it when I am looking good in my swimsuit this summer!  And more importantly, I will feel great about myself because I know that I worked for it and proved to myself that I had the willpower to stick to it until I reached my Big Goal.

I hope you are working on your own Big Goal right now, and that you will “embrace and enhance your ability to sacrifice” so you can have the unparalleled satisfaction of achieving it, however long it takes.

PLEASE NOTE: The blog is taking next weekend off for Easter Sunday.  Look for your next Cup of Caroll on Sunday, April 28

If you would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to my website http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to give yourself, a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can gift this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (Feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com

  

September 30, 2018

“What you hear repeatedly, you will eventually believe.” – Mike Murdock

This week’s topic is not one I relish dealing with at all.  But it is necessary sometimes to address the dark side of life and how to deal with it,  to enable yourself to reap the rewards of living with integrity, optimism and expectation of good things coming to you.

I often take my cues for blog topics from a pattern I notice throughout the week in my own experiences and the experiences of my clients. This week, the theme was pretty hard to miss.  Not only did several of my clients have to deal with it, I had a jarring personal experience of it, and the whole nation got a ringside seat to it via the televised Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Thursday.  The yelling and finger pointing, vitriol and personal attacks on display among the elected “leaders” who are supposed to represent us were jaw-dropping to behold. But I am not here to talk about politicians.  I want to talk about toxic energy and what we can do to protect ourselves from it in our OWN everyday lives.

What is “toxic energy”?  Your “energy” (or some people call it your “vibration”) is made up of your thoughts PLUS your emotions“Toxic,” according to the dictionary, means something that is “poisonous” and perhaps “infectious” — to the point of “causing serious harm or death.”

At some point, we all cross paths with someone who exudes “toxic energy.”  A specific promise I ask all my clients to state aloud every day is: “I avoid toxic people and surround myself with Winners who inspire me and help me to reach my Dreams.” That is a worthy goal, but as I learned for myself this week, it’s easier said than done.  So I want to share with you some insights and tips I used to help my clients and me to shield ourselves from the toxic energy we encountered from others.

First, my own story: For the past couple of years, I have been a long-distance “friend” to someone I have never met face to face.  We corresponded via email, text and Facebook and at  first, I enjoyed our interactions. He seemed like a truly good person, who talked a lot about the people around him who were lonely and needed something to cheer them up.  He found ways to do that, some of which required money (like throwing modest parties for them). In his own life, he faced serious financial challenges, being older and living on a fixed income, which he supplemented a little bit with a sporadic sideline gig.

I was inspired by the way he seemed to maintain a positive attitude in the face of all the challenges in his own life.  He was (all too) eager to share personal information with me, including that his wife had divorced him several years ago and moved to the other side of the country, and neither of his grown children had seen or spoken to him in years.  In short, he garnered my sympathy with his vulnerable candor and seemingly selfless caring for others.

I began to send him small sums of money from time to time, to help with his parties and his own dire needs (such as car problems and having his internet and cell phone shut off, and at one time, the imminent shut off of his utilities).  Each time, he protested that he had not told me about his problems to solicit money from me, but then he always accepted it with lavish thanks.

Mind you, I am not an easy mark.  I really do have a pretty good sense of when someone is lying to me, and I don’t think he was lying about the facts.  I believe he IS broke. But looking back, I can see that he never seemed to try to change his financial circumstances, other than lament them.  Being a coach, I’m hard-wired to give suggestions to help my clients solve daily problems, but every time I offered him a suggestion, he would deflect it, explaining why that wasn’t feasible. I thought maybe there just weren’t any part-time jobs available for someone his age in his area. I felt growing frustration, but ignored what my gut was telling me for a long time.

Over time, his messages focused more and more on complaints about how others treated him unfairly and “woe is me” tales of all the things that were going wrong for him, one after another.  I was the only person he had to confide in, who could understand, he said. His energy became more toxic so gradually, I didn’t consciously recognize it for a long time.  I just knew that it was beginning to wear on me emotionally, like trying to put out a forest fire with a garden hose.

I think what finally opened my eyes is that last Sunday I watched on YouTube a sermon by my favorite positive-thought minister, Joel Osteen, in which he talked about planting our “seeds” in good soil.  He cited a familiar parable from the Bible about how three different farmers sowed their seeds in rocky soil, weedy soil and good soil.  Those seeds planted in the rocky and weedy soil died out, while those planted in the good soil flourished and became a rich harvest.

Joel said the parable means we have to carefully CHOOSE the people we hang out with because they are the “soil” in our lives.  If we plant our own “seeds” – our special gifts and dreams that can blossom with the right nurturing – in a toxic environment filled with poor role models and those who do not support us, we are bound to have a meager harvest.

Later that day, I saw a Facebook post by Mr. Woe is Me with a big photo of his sad-eyed four-footed friend who, he said, clearly needed to go to the vet.  He said he was calculating how to get the money and whether cutting himself back to one meal a day would help. Soon, he began to get comments from several of his many Facebook friends offering to send a donation.  He replied, “Thank you, but I’ll be all right.”

I commented, “What if these kind offers are God’s HOW to help you get your dog taken care of?”  He replied “What if they aren’t?”  Then he immediately switched to private messaging, saying “I love you” and anxiously asking if I was mad at him or something was wrong.

I wrote back that he seemed to be acting like a “professional victim” by telling everyone about his dog’s plight and then refusing offers of help. I suspected some of his friends were planning to send him money anyway, despite his protestations, as I would have done in the past. He said that he hadn’t intended for his post to come across as a plea for money and immediately took it down. Then he messaged me again, saying, “Why are you doing this to me – making me feel like crap?”

In that instant, I knew it was time to permanently disengage from his toxic energy that was now on full display, so I wrote back, “I am done. Please don’t write me anymore.  I truly wish you and your dog the best.  I won’t read your posts or comment ever again. Goodbye.”

Afterward, I felt somewhat shaken at the unexpected abruptness of my recognition of and disengagement from his specific form of toxic energy (emotional manipulation masquerading as selflessness suffering). At the same time, I recognized that I instantly felt happier and lighter to be free of it.

Just before I blocked him, he sent me a long, vitriolic diatribe about everything he felt was wrong with me, including that I was trying to “control” him with my money.  The nicest thing he said was “You are NOT a godly woman.”  (I don’t remember every claiming to be one.)  His final salvo was this: “You will now answer to god for this.  I’m sure. I’m wealthy hear me roar.  I’m praying to god I never become you.  I’d really kill myself…If you don’t cause it tonight.”

Well, I am glad I climbed off that crazy train.  I am grateful that my God-given inner wisdom was right and that I instinctively followed it. Because I had blinded myself to the truth over a long period, I now realize how easy it is to do with the people in our own lives. And I see that someone’s toxic energy involves more than just chronic complaining, negativity, damaging gossip or constantly undermining your self-worth. Toxic energy comes in many forms and some of them are well-disguised as something positive.

OK, so Rule Number One in protecting yourself from toxic energy is to always remember Maya Angelou’s wonderful quote, “People will show you who they are and you’d best believe them.” Give everyone a chance to prove themselves to you, but as soon as your intuition starts to notice red flags about someone, don’t ignore those warning signs!

Rule Number Two: Don’t hang out with people whose energy provides “poor soil” for your gifts, character, habits and dreams.  If you hang out with them long enough, your own Seeds of Greatness will die and you will become like them.  Instead, seek out friends and mentors who will support you, nurture you and inspire you – people you want to emulate. Joel Osteen recommends disengaging from the poor soil gradually by just spending less and less time with them over a period of time.  If they notice, you can just say that you are busy with lots of good stuff and you don’t have as much time to hang out as you used to.

NEXT WEEK: Unfortunately, with some people who exude toxic energy, you do not have the option to just walk away. They are your boss, Team member, close relative — maybe even your spouse (or the co-parent of your children). Next time, we will discuss how to deal with others’ toxic energy when you can’t leave. Stay tuned!

If you would like your own F.R.E.E. subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top to enter your name and email.  Your information will never be shared with anyone.

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April 29, 2018

Today’s lightly-edited post was originally published two years ago.  Many of my current coaching clients have never read it and it is SO critical, I wanted to be able to share it with them.  I hope my faithful longtime readers will use it as a reminder to keep your communication manners impeccable, because they really DO have an impact on the quality of your relationships and therefore, your success.

May 22, 2016

“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what people say. I just watch what they do.” – Andrew Carnegie

Honest, thoughtful, effective communication creates the foundation for fulfilling, lasting personal and business relationships.  Those relationships, in turn, become the foundation for our success in life. And whether you realize it or not, people really DO notice how you behave when you communicate (or don’t) and judge you by your actions.

Over my nearly 14 years of coaching, I have witnessed a number of less-than-optimal communication practices among my clients that I know can limit their success. So want to share with you, too, a few practical tips for making your own communication habits more effective, successful and enjoyable:

  • Give them your undivided attention. When I coach, I sit at my desk, listening intently and taking notes about what my clients are saying, occasionally taking a sip of water (as quietly as possible) when my throat gets dry. Most of them give me their undivided attention, too.  But over the years, I have heard some banging pots and pans, running water, dragging furniture, chewing gum (or food) and slurping beverages. I often wonder if they do the same things while talking to their customers, colleagues and loved ones. The message this sends to your conversation partner is that “You are not important enough to me to give you my undivided attention.”  So please don’t multi-task while you are on the phone. (And please don’t be looking at or on your phone in the presence of someone you are supposed to be paying attention to – including your kids!)
  • Don’t avoid a conversation. Many of my clients are used to texting or messaging their friends, customers and prospects. Rarely do they pick up the phone, even if the conversation is likely to have extended back and forth question and answers. If you want to speak to someone, CALL them and leave a voice message if they don’t pick up.  In this text-happy world, leaving a voice message conveys to your listener that they matter SO much to you that you actually wanted to have a real conversation them! One of my clients who took my advice to call her prospects reported that the ratio of replies she got was triple what her texts had garnered.
  • Respond to your messages promptly. Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. If you want your teammates, customers, prospects and loved ones to return YOUR messages, ask yourself how promptly YOU respond to emails, texts and voice mails. Many of my clients complain about lack of response from others, but when I send them a critical email, I have learned to put PLEASE RESPOND in capital letters in the subject line – and some of them still never answer. Often, I have to resort to texting to make sure they got my email!  Causing other people to wonder and worry about whether you got their message or whether something is wrong between you will not make them enjoy communicating with you. Is your voice mailbox full?  Do you have a week’s worth of emails or 20 texts you haven’t looked at?  If you don’t respond to others in a timely manner, the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) says YOU will attract plenty of people who will frustrate you by not responding.
  • Keep your word. This is the #1 MUST for effective communication.  If you made an appointment to meet someone at Starbucks and then just didn’t show up, you can imagine how they will react!  Why is it any less of an affront if you stand them up for a phone appointment they planned on and made time for? As soon as you realize that you are running late or can’t make it, text or leave a voice mail.  They will forgive you if you apologize and give a BRIEF explanation (not a rambling, self-serving excuse). But if they call and you are just not there, they will get the message loud and clear that they don’t matter much to you.
  • When you mess up, fess up. One of my past clients used to complain that some team members in her organization purposely cut her out of the loop on communications. I was stumped why they would do this to such a nice person — until I discovered that she is rather infamous for standing them up on set appointment calls, often when they have a business prospect on the line with them. Hey, we are all human.  If you mess up, you will be forgiven, as long as you explain briefly, take full responsibility and sincerely apologize for the impact your slip up had on the other person. A perfect example happened this week, when one of my longtime clients called over an hour late for our appointment to apologize with this brief message: “I am so sorry. I got engrossed in writing a report for work and completely lost track of the time.  I value your time and I take full responsibility for missing our session.”  That was all we needed to get our relationship back on good terms.

I hope these tips will help you create fulfilling relationships built on mutual trust, honesty and respect. Those are the kind that last and will bring you rich rewards!

PLEASE NOTE: The blog is taking next Sunday off.  Look for your next Cup of Caroll to arrive on Sunday, May 13.  

If you or your friends would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top. 

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 To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

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