Listening


“People acting together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope to bring about.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

It’s that day! The biggest television audience of the year is going to be watching. Yes, it’s Super Bowl Sunday in the USA.

Even those who are not rabid football fans, as I confess I’m not, can still appreciate that the two teams battling it out for the title of The Best Team in American Football had to work very hard to get there, and they deserve our respect for that. It got me thinking about what it takes to create a Winning Team in other areas of life.

Life is filled with many types of teams: workplace teams, school sports teams, couples, families, military teams, the political parties that make up our government (ideally) act as teams, and many of my coaching clients are part of a network marketing business team.  Since we all participate on some type of team, it’s worth exploring how we can be more successful when working together.

I have identified the following five characteristics of Winning Teams:

  • A shared Purpose. A successful team must work together for a common goal, a greater good.  The individuals on the team have a clear shared purpose that is bigger than their own ego’s self-interest.  As the quote from President FDR says, committed people coming together can accomplish much bigger things than they ever could alone. So it’s in a Winning Team’s nature to be collaborative and practice sharing the spotlight and rooting for each other’s success, in order to get something that everyone on the team wants.
  • Mutual respect. All members of a team must show each other respect, even when they disagree about how to reach their mutual goal.  Each individual must be willing to listen to the others’ opinions, even if she vehemently disagrees with them. We learn more from listening to those whose opinions differ from ours than from those who agree with us. Eventually, through respectful give and take, individual members will reach a consensus about what needs to be done and what each individual’s role will be in pursuing the team’s Big Goal.
  • Clear, honest communication. Each member of the team must have the courage to speak his own truth (in a respectful way) in order for this effective collaboration to take place.  It is sometimes hard to speak up for what we believe is right when we think others might disagree or be offended.  But when you speak respectfully and own your OWN feelings without blaming or shaming others, you do them a great service because it allows them to see things from a different point of view than their own, and to understand the impact their words and actions have on others, which they may not realize. Be clear, concise, authentic and drama-free, and your opinion will be respected and considered, as long as the other members believe you are committed to the team’s Big Goal.
  • A team-supported designated Leader. Every effective team needs a respected and collaborative leader to organize, summarize and build consensus. Sometimes this leader must make the hard call alone, if there is insufficient consensus among team members, yet steps must be taken quickly or their shared Big Goal will be lost.  The Winning Team Leader acts as an inspiring quarterback, rather than a demagogue. She willingly listens to ALL the members’ input, then identifies the most likely path to victory for the entire team and gets their buy-in before moving forward.
  • Good sportsmanship. What makes a sports contest exciting is that only one team can win. There inevitably will be a “loser” in any head-to-head contest. Whether the side that loses a game, an election, a family vote on where to go on vacation, or their division’s annual Team Sales Contest is a good loser or a poor loser will have a greater impact on their long-term success than just about anything else.  Life is full of failures along the way to ultimate success.  A team that says, “We didn’t win this time, but wait until the next round!” is a team that is assured of eventual victory. Because the Law of Attraction states that “energy attracts like energy,” you can bet that a team that takes their loss personally, blames each other or expresses sour grapes is destined to continue their losing streak. But a team whose members are willing to own and learn from their mistakes is going to come back stronger, more focused and more determined than ever to reach their Big Goal.  Victory is already in their sights, and they will eventually triumph.

If you have other ideas about what makes for a Winning Team, I would love for you to share them with me and I will pass them along to my readers in future blogs.  In the meantime, enjoy the Super Bowl and I hope you will keep working to develop your own leadership qualities and winning attitude, so that you AND your Winning Team will eventually reach the Big Goals you are pursuing!

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.

****************** The Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift!

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make this the BEST year yet, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call toll-free 888-503-8145.

“Letting go of limiting beliefs and harmful habits can free up more time and space for life itself.” – from the book Half Full by john Murphy

It’s that time of year.  If you haven’t already started one, you may be planning to go on a “diet” that includes changing your eating habits so you can achieve your weight and fitness goals.

I am right there with you.  I have already lost my “Holiday Five” pounds though cleansing, balanced eating, cutting out desserts and snacks, and getting more exercise. I feel great and I am optimistic that I will be “bathing suit ready” for Rick’s and my 10th wedding anniversary celebration in Hawaii in May.

But even if you are already at your ideal weight, there’s a diet you may need to go on for your mental AND physical health.  This one isn’t about food. It’s about cutting back on negative thoughts and words — a “negativity” fast.

As discussed in my last blog, recent Harvard medical research proves that people who are optimists – defined as expecting eventual good outcomes, even if their present circumstances are challenging – are less likely to die of a number of ailments and more likely to live longer than their pessimistic peers.

Being an optimist requires a steady diet of positive thinking. This is important to remember, because “what we think about, we bring about.”  Whatever you expend your mental and emotional energy focusing on will inevitably grow stronger and more significant in your life.

This week, several of my clients confessed to feeling in a “funk” — mildly depressed, agitated, lethargic, not having the energy to take action on their own Big Goals. The root cause invariably had something to do with words – mostly other people’s words. Habitually spending your precious time around people who constantly complain, blame, gossip, express worry and fear, enumerate their ailments or are just generally crabby can definitely deplete your own positivity reserves.

Nowadays, such Debbie Downers don’t even have to be in your physical presence or on the phone with you. They can bombard you with negativity with the click of a mouse or the swipe of a smart phone.  But here’s the saving grace: They can only steal your sense of peace, joy and optimism if YOU allow it by focusing on them via social media, gossip sites, emails or texts.  YOU  alone decide what you let into your own consciousness — and also what YOU send out to others.

One client said he felt depressed after reading social media posts by people who are rabidly political, with views he feels are ugly and misguided.  But I pointed out that he doesn’t have to expose himself to their rants and he certainly doesn’t have to waste precious time that would be better spent pursuing his own success on trying to persuade them to change their thinking (which is almost always futile, by the way).  If you let yourself get upset and frustrated because you can’t change someone else’s mind, the only one punished is YOU. Your negative emotional reaction to what others say or do is only going to attract more negative people and circumstances to YOU because, as the Law of Attraction states, “energy attracts like energy.”

We should stand up for what we believe is right, of course. But you have to pick your battles in life.  You can’t let every annoying issue or person get you upset or steal precious time you could be spending on your own goals and loved ones. Today, there are seemingly limitless political issues being loudly, angrily “debated” on social media or incessantly spotlighted by the media.

I absolutely believe we need to stay aware and informed about important issues.  I rarely miss a national evening news broadcast and I read a daily newspaper.  But the national news reporting tends to focus on big issues that matter to most of us, not on “gotcha” gossip or minor scandals, at least not to the degree that social media, radio talk shows and local news seem to.  Whenever there is an important issue at stake, I pay attention to the facts; when it’s simply “gotcha” gossip, I don’t waste my time. That’s my “other diet” for the New Year.

I try to heed this quote from my favorite TV minister and positive thinker, Joel Osteen: “Your words are like seeds.  They have creative power.  In the future, we will all eat the fruit of our words.  Our words are going to produce exactly what we’re saying….That’s why we should say things like ‘I am blessed.  I am prosperous.  I am healthy.  I am talented.  I am creative.  I am wise.’ When we do, we are ….sowing good seed.  We are preparing our future for when we arrive.”

Because our words DO have great power, arguing, blaming, complaining, gossiping, mocking others’ opinions and comparing yourself negatively to others are among the common ways we unknowingly sabotage our own happiness and success.  If you allow yourself to be regularly exposed to the negative thoughts and words of others, you are letting weeds take root in your mental garden, and if you react negatively in return, you are watering those weeds. Not the kind of fruit you want to harvest, is it?

But if you take care to think and speak only words that are kind, measured, accurate, non-judgmental, encouraging and helpful, you are planting the seeds for a future crop of joy, fulfillment and success for yourself and lifting the level of discourse for the whole world.

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.

****************** The Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift!

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make this the BEST year yet, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call toll-free 888-503-8145.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo F. Buscaglia

[Continuing our “Best of A Cup of Caroll” summer series, this slightly-edited blog first ran in 2013. I hope you enjoy it and the short inspirational video at the end.]

One of my favorite free daily quote services is WalkTheTalk.com. I highly recommend subscribing to this daily dose of good news and inspiration. Today’s post contains a link to a beautiful, inspiring short video about the power of acknowledgment, which I hope you will watch at the end of the blog.

A startling statistic in the video is that 25% of good employees who voluntarily leave their jobs cite lack of appreciation as the reason they quit.  Can you imagine? What were their bosses thinking?

I learned the secret a long time ago, which this video reinforces, that every human being craves appreciation. We all want to be seen, known and validated for who we are.  If you want to experience the great feeling of rapport, affinity and harmony with another human being – a boss, spouse, co-worker, sibling, store clerk, etc. — simply give them a sincere acknowledgment, expressing appreciation for what they have done or simply who they are being.  You will make an instant friend.

Today, I got a lovely acknowledgment from someone who told me exactly how my coaching had made a difference for her and it touched me deeply.  I had done a complimentary coaching session with her over a year ago.  Now, even the greatest coach can’t turn someone’s life around in just one hour, but I CAN listen closely to someone, validate them and leave them loving themselves and believing in themselves just a little bit more.

During our long-ago hour together, I listened to her and recreated what she shared about her difficult circumstances, so she knew I truly “got” what she was going through.  I acknowledged her for her will to triumph in the face of the adversity she had been through – for never giving up. I also suggested she read The Power by Rhonda Byrne and check out professional therapy to help her begin the long journey to turning around a bad situation and creating the life she deserved.  Lastly, I told her the door was always open to call me again anytime.

I didn’t hear from her for another year and a half.  Today, we had a follow-up session and to my absolute delight, I discovered that her life has completely transformed since we last spoke.  She is now ready to take her life to another level, and we are going to partner in coaching to do just that.

While I am thrilled to have her as a client, that wasn’t the best part of the call for me.  The best part was at the end, when she said, “I want to acknowledge YOU, Caroll.  My life has come so far since our session over a year ago.  What you recommended worked great for me.  My new career, my health, strength and my happy family all have come out of that!  Things are really falling into place for me and I know I’m on my way.  You are a blessing in my life!”

Do you think that made my day?  Heck it made my MONTH!  It was amazing to think that I had made such a big difference for another human being, simply by listening to her, acknowledging her, and telling her I believed in her. That’s what we coaches live for!

 And that’s why at the start of every coaching call, I always ask my clients to tell me what they want to be acknowledged for at that moment.  At first, it can be embarrassing, even painful, for some people to claim their worth out loud.  Invariably, after a few more sessions, if we get too far into the call before I ask, even those who squirm the most will interrupt me with, “Hey, aren’t you going to ask me what I want to be acknowledged for?” I get to recreate their self-acknowledgment aloud, and even amplify it a bit, as they listen and really GET that they are great…They are worthy…They matter.  And that is the foundation for all personal transformation.

By the way, acknowledging and complimenting aren’t the same thing.  A compliment is when you draw attention to something observable about the other person, such as their hair or their clothes or their smile. While “You’ve lost weight!” or “You look good in that color” is always nice to hear, true acknowledgment is much more powerful because it’s about who the person IS or what they DID that makes a difference for the world, such as, “You did great work on that project.  I appreciate that you really went above and beyond!”  or “Thank you for sending the get-well card when I was sick.  It really made my day!”

I urge you to make at least one other human being’s day EVERY day by acknowledging and appreciating them. It will make them – and you — feel wonderful! (For extra credit, try it on someone who is usually pessimistic or grumpy and see what happens!)

P.S. Watch this four-minute video on the importance of acknowledging and appreciating others. http://www.flickspire.com/m/WalkTheTalk/WhileYouCan and I hope it makes YOUR day!

NOTE: If you would like your own F*R*E*E* subscription to receive A Cup of Caroll three Sundays a month, just go to my website at www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.  Your name and email will be kept 100% confidential and will not be used by anyone else for any other purpose.

****************** 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 email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com to schedule their session.

 

 

“Each day when I awake I know I have one more day to make a difference in someone’s life.” – James Mann

Last week’s blog (“Light Their Fire” #235) garnered more response than almost any other.   Many of my readers told me they forwarded it to other individuals and groups. It contained a powerful message about the difference that teachers – and really ALL of us – can make in the life of someone else, just by seeing through their current lackluster or upsetting behavior and seeing the greatness that lies within each of us – the special gift, as one teacher put it, that we each open at different times in our lives.

I’m sure you, too, can name at least one person who was instrumental in helping you to discover your special passion and talent through their belief in you. Often, that person was a teacher.  This is the perfect time of year to thank a teacher for their service.  Older children spend more waking hours at school than they do with their parents, and their teachers have a tremendous influence on them.

In addition to teaching their subjects, teachers are called upon to help their students learn to reason, form intelligent opinions, respect others’ opinions that differ from theirs, and learn that their words and actions have an impact on others — for good and for bad. And teachers are expected to do it all with infinite patience, grace and energy!  They absolutely deserve all the appreciation, support and acknowledgment we can shower upon them.

It’s sometimes quite challenging to see the greatness in one who is misbehaving, acting out, pouting, crying, blaming others, or refusing to do what they know they should do.  These behaviors aren’t limited to the young, of course. At times, we ALL say and do things we wish we hadn’t.

This week, I witnessed an adult behaving very badly. As I entered the grocery store, a disheveled-looking woman riding an adult scooter was exiting the checkout line empty-handed. I could tell by her unkempt appearance that she was probably living in less than ideal conditions. The woman was extremely angry, shouting at the clerk that she was going to call the head of the grocery chain and report him.  There were children present and she yelled a number of profanities you would not have wanted your children to hear, believe me.

As I passed by her, I was tempted to frown at her and judge her for being rude to someone who was undoubtedly just doing their job, plus being so crude and uncaring about the impact she was having on everyone around her.  But with the last blog clear in my mind, I reminded myself that I needed to focus on seeing her “greatness” instead of her behavior. I honestly couldn’t see it at that moment, but I did at least do my best not to judge her. Instead, I sent up a silent prayer on her behalf, asking God to richly bless her with love, health and prosperity.

As I left the store moments later, I passed a clerk talking to a woman who was wearing some type of name badge.  She was calmly explaining to the clerk that the angry woman was “self-medicating” because she couldn’t afford her meds. Suddenly, I saw the truth and felt such compassion for her and relief that I didn’t let myself judge her.  The signs were all there that she had some sort of mental or emotional issue and was doing the best she could with what she had in her life at the moment.  Whatever frustrated her,  she lacked the tools to cope with and so acted out.  It was a dramatic reminder that we can’t know what is REALLY going on in someone else’s life and that we must not judge them if we want to help them.

Later that day, my spirits were lifted during a coaching session with a client who is an elementary school teacher.  She said the last blog made a big impression on her about teachers having a life-changing influence on their students by recognizing and nurturing their gifts. That awareness caused her to handle a tough classroom situation differently than she otherwise might have.

In a class designed for students learning English as a second language, one boy had been acting out all year, refusing to do his assignments and disrupting the class so the other students had trouble concentrating.  On this day, when he complained that he didn’t understand the assignment, she decided to try a new approach.

While the other students were absorbed with their assignments, she sat down next to him.  “I wanted to be at his level, not towering over him like an authority figure,” she explained. “I spoke to him quietly and calmly and he began to calm down, too. I told him we would work on the question sheet together.  I didn’t give him the answers, but I guided him and he began to understand it.”

Soon, he had finished almost the entire assignment in one period, which was not the norm.  With just one question left, he began to get ready to leave.  But she encouraged him with, “We still have four minutes. Why don’t you see if you can finish it?  I know you can do it!” 

And he did. “He was beaming,” she told me. “He practically danced up to my desk to put it in the in-basket for one of the first times this year.  He proved to himself that he IS smart, and he was so proud.”

My prediction is that years from now, that boy will still remember how his teacher saw his greatness and believed in him.  That seemingly ordinary day may well mark the moment when he began to open his own special gift.

****************** 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 email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session. 

“You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” – Bob Nelson

I had an extraordinary experience this past week, attending the annual “Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony” at my alma mater, Newport Harbor High School. (Go, Sailors!)

The purpose of this annual ceremony is to honor past graduates and faculty members of the renowned secondary school (founded in 1930) who have found outstanding success in their own lives and made a big difference in the lives of others.  A few of the honorees were deceased or incapacitated, and were represented by family members who spoke for and about them.

All of them are amazing citizens, leaders and teachers who have made a profound and lasting impact in a variety of fields.  The graduate honorees included two respected actors (Stuart Cooper and Ted McGinley), Greg Laurie, pastor and founder of one of the largest Christian churches in the USA, David Thompson, a respected California Court of Appeals Judge, Dr. Sandi Smith, a lauded Communications Professor at Michigan State, Marshall Duffield, inventor of the beloved little “Duffy” electric boats that now number 14,000 and counting, and Dr. Mahlon DeLong, a noted scientist whose work has bettered the lives of thousands of people suffering from neurological diseases. The latter couldn’t be with us that night because he was giving a lecture at the Harvard Medical School!

The theme that was consistently repeated by all of these accomplished, humble and witty honorees was this: Most were lucky to be called “mediocre” during their high school years.   None of them imagined they were destined for greatness.  The spark that took hold inside of them and enabled them to excel was lit when one of their teachers focused attention on them and expressed belief in them, even when they didn’t yet believe in themselves.

This stayed with me as I finished my coaching week, listening to a number of my clients complain about their family members, team members and friends not behaving the way they wanted them to – in other words, “under-performing” according to their standards.

What if, I wondered, instead of focusing on their shortcomings, my clients focused on their potential for greatness, just as the wise faculty members had focused on these honorees’ potential, even when the honorees themselves were behaving in less than stellar ways and had no clue as to the spark of greatness that lay within them?

One of my clients lamented in a text that “[My teammate] will take zero coaching/help/suggestions from me.” Meaning, I guess, that her teammate wouldn’t do what SHE wanted her to do in the way SHE wanted it done.  My client said she felt exhausted and overwhelmed with the responsibility for her growing team, and just wanted them to step up and “be Leaders.”  But her message suggested that she wasn’t really viewing them as “Leaders” who could be trusted to lead, but more like “staff” who needed to be supervised and told what to do.

Contrast her approach of trying to push someone to be their BEST with the way the late Robert Wentz, a noted actor and Newport Harbor High’s revered longtime drama teacher, chose to gently inspire someone in whom he recognized potential greatness.  Popular TV and movie actor Ted McGinley (Class of ‘76), shared how Mr. Wentz craftily lured him into taking his first taste of acting.

Mr. Wentz had asked him to try out many times, but being a “jock,” Ted thought that acting in school plays would make him a laughingstock with his teammates, and adamantly refused.  So one day, just before English class, Mr. Wentz pulled Ted aside and told him, “Here’s what we’re going to do.  I am going to pretend to bate you and disrespect you. You are going to pretend to get angry. We’re going to have a heated argument in front of the class. Then you are going to storm out of the room.  Make it real. Ok, let’s go.”

Not having a clue what it was all about, but wanting to please the teacher he loved and respected, Ted did as instructed.  A convincing mock fight ensued and Ted gave it his all to make it “real.” Finally, he stormed out of the room and waited outside. Through the door, he heard Mr. Wentz tell the stunned class to write an essay about what they had just witnessed.  “And I didn’t have to write one! I was hooked on acting from that moment,” Ted laughed.

That small incident changed the course of Ted’s life and gave millions of viewers (including me) of hit TV shows like Happy Days, Married with Children, The West Wing, and Mad Men, as well as many movies, the pleasure of watching him do what he loves for a living.

Who do YOU know who is not performing up to their capability?  Who has untapped potential for greatness that YOU can see?

What are you doing about it? Are you nagging them, criticizing them and letting them know they are falling short of YOUR expectations? Or are you encouraging them with, “I see greatness in you.  I believe in you!”

Psychological studies have proven time and again that people usually live up to or down to our expectations of them.  We have to EXPECT THE BEST if we want them to be able to bring out the best in themselves.

One graduate honoree shared a memorable quote from a favorite teacher: “Everyone on earth has a gift. They just open their gifts at different times.” 

Be patient. Hang in there with them as they struggle to find their footing. Help them pick themselves up and dust themselves off when they have a defeat. Cheer them on when they have a small victory.  Allow them to build a fire from within and share their special gift with the world whenever they are ready. Then stand back and prepare to be amazed!

****************** 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 email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.   

Happy Mother’s Day!  I salute everyone who is a mother (I’m not) or acts as a mother-figure for someone who needs one. (I have done that.)  Whether you were lucky enough to grow up with an unconditionally-loving “June Cleaver” mother like I did or struggled to cope with someone who fell far short of the ideal, we have all been deeply affected by a mother or mother-figure in our lives.

Many of my readers have joined me since today’s blog was first published two years ago, so I want to share again my Mom’s “best practices” for living a life of joy, integrity and fulfillment.

May 11, 2014

“Love never ends.” – 1 Corinthians 13:8, The Bible.

My mother passed away in 2006, just shy of her 92nd birthday, on the very night that my wonderful husband Rick and I were supposed to have our first date. I’m sorry they never got to meet because with a similar playful, gentle sense of humor, they would have thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

Mom was always very spiritual, if not religious, and as soon as I married and left home at 19, she began sending me a subscription to the little booklet of daily inspirational thoughts put out by Unity, the Christian denomination that she grew up in.  She would be delighted to know that it still makes me feel connected to her every morning when I read the daily message.

Interestingly, the Daily Word topic for today is exactly what I had already decided to write about. I quote here as background for what I want to share with you on Mother’s Day:

“A mother’s love is strong.  It protects and comforts, nurtures and forgives. It is uplifting, supportive and unconditional.  A mother’s love begins before birth and continues without end. It is an expression of the Divine.

 Today I honor and appreciate my mother or anyone who may have filled the role of mother in my life.  I bring to mind the wisdom she has shared, the stories she has told, and the mannerisms and characteristics that are uniquely hers.

 I am grateful for all she has given to our family. The greatest thank-you I can offer is to share with others the best of what my mother taught me.

 With gratitude, I bless and celebrate all mothers and the love they share.”

 Today, as a heartfelt thank-you to her, I want to share with you the best of what Charlene Turner Parker taught me by her words and actions. Here are the Top Five Life Lessons I learned from my Mom:

  • Make everyone feel included. When I was in elementary and middle school, my mother invited a distantly-connected family of immigrants to Sunday dinner at our house about once a month.  The working-class parents spoke broken English and I felt it was a pain to have to entertain their son who was several years younger than I.  But my mother was adamant that we must make them feel welcome and give them a good meal. “Little Carlos” grew up to be a handsome, intelligent young man who graduated from college and became a successful professional. After his parents had both passed, he continued to bring his little sister to visit my Mom on her birthday and holidays. At her funeral, he cried harder than everyone and told me he considered Charlene a second mother and would never forget her kindness as long as he lived.
  • Speak only kind words. When I was a teenager, I went through a “smart mouth” (OK, and a “foul mouth”) stage. Copying my peers and the media, I thought sarcasm, irony and scathing criticism were the height of sophisticated communication. My mother set me straight very quickly: There would be no trash talk or gossip in HER house.  I rolled my eyes and thought she was hopelessly square. When I got a little older, I realized how badly I had behaved and was deeply appreciative of her frequent reminder: “People will eventually forget what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them FEEL.”
  •  Listen deeply, without judging. My mother listened to EVERYONE – whether a three-year-old grandchild, a school Principal or a supermarket clerk — as if what they had to say were the most fascinating and important thing in the world. When she worked as an elementary school secretary, a dozen kids would hang out in her office at lunch time just to bask in the attention she paid them.  Yes, people always remember how we make them FEEL.  And feeling “heard” is one of the best feelings in the world.
  • Always send a hand-written note. My mother always nagged me mercilessly until I had mailed a thank you note to anyone who gave me the smallest gift, had me over to their house for dinner or came to my birthday party, graduation, wedding etc. Now, it seems archaic, but Mom sent me real paper birthday and thank you cards until the end, and I still strive to do the same. I wouldn’t have shoeboxes full of her loving memories if she had texted me. I advise my job-seeking clients to immediately mail a hand-written thank you note to EVERYONE who interviewers them. Nothing is as sincere and classy as acknowledging someone with a hand-written note. You would be surprised how many successful careers have started that way!
  • Help everyone you can in every way you can. Sometimes it annoyed me how much my mother gave away from her little pension — sending $10 a month to dozens of charities, paying family members’ college tuitions so they could become successful, hiring down-and-out folks to do odd jobs and errands that she really could have managed herself.  But even more than financially, she helped others with a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and unconditional love.  Nobody who came in contact with Charlene Turner Parker ever forgot her patience, kindness and generosity.  That is a legacy we can all aspire to.

PLEASE NOTE: My wonderful husband Rick and I will be in Yosemite National Park this week, celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary.  The blog will return on Sunday May 22. 

****************** 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 email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.   

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.” – Marian Wright Edelman

I sincerely hope you got a chance to read last week’s blog, which touched a chord in many of my readers. My guest columnist and fellow coach, Bob Perks, movingly shared his personal experiences with depression – his own and others’ — and offered us sound advice on how to listen to someone suffering with depression, sadness or disappointment in a way that will make a real difference for them.

I am very grateful to those who took the time to send Bob a message of thanks, forward the blog to others, purchase his wonderful book “I Wish You Enough” on Amazon.com or visit his website (www.BobPerks.com) and follow him on Facebook. To those “Earth Angels” who sent him a monetary gift of appreciation at www.PayPal.me/GiftBobPerks, know that Bob is incredibly grateful for your support and validation, as am I. (And if you didn’t take any of these steps to show your gratitude, it’s never too late!)

One of the most memorable lines in Bob’s powerful column was “Don’t be a good listener.  Be a great one.” During our coaching sessions this week, several of my clients who read Bob’s column related their own stories that validate just how powerfully GREAT listening can change a life. Here are two of my favorites:

One client told me about her elderly mother, who several months ago began sharing her home with her adult grandchildren and their two kids, plus their dogs. At first, “Nana” was very happy to have all that youthful energy swirling around her and loved helping with the after-school babysitting, which gave her a renewed sense of purpose.

But recently, my client noticed that her mother seemed uncharacteristically sad and upset. One day, Nana blurted out, “I am so unhappy.  I want to sell the house and move back to Chicago.”  My client was taken aback, but with Bob Perk’s “great listening” advice fresh in her mind, she was able to respond differently than she ordinarily might have.

Resisting the urge to point out that Nana’s idea was unworkable for many reasons, my client chose instead to be a curious, non-judgmental Active Listener. She calmly and gently questioned her mother in order to find out what was really bothering her. Nana admitted that the unaccustomed noise and activity were wearing on her.  My client acknowledged that she would feel the same way, and volunteered to talk to her adult children and remind them of the “house rules” their family had been breaking lately.  Nana seemed to brighten at that, but my client could sense there was something still deeper beneath the surface.

When my client asked what else might be on her mind, Nana confessed that she was afraid she wouldn’t have enough money to continue to live on. My client had recently helped her mother apply for a refinance of her mortgage, which should give her a nice nest egg on which she could live comfortably for many years.  But being 83, Nana didn’t quite understand the ins and outs of today’s long and complicated mortgage process, and thought something must be wrong. My client was able to reassure her that the process was going smoothly and would soon be completed and said she was confident that Nana’s finances would be in good shape for the rest of her life.

Then Nana’s energy completely shifted and my client realized that the stress and worry that she had kept under wraps must have been taking a real toll on her mother. If she had not given Nana the chance to express her fears with active, non-judgmental listening, Nana’s long-term mental and physical health might well have been affected. Today, their multi-generational household is back to normal and Nana eagerly looks forward to her great-grandkids’ return from school each day.

My second client’s story proves that simply giving a little attention and kindness to others can have a lasting impact, even if we don’t realize their true circumstances.

A high school drama teacher, she recently attended an after-party for a successful school production. Unexpectedly, two seniors got up to speak. Both these young men are among the most popular students in the school and both appear quite well-adjusted, successful and confident.

To her shock, in front of their peers, parents and faculty members, each student thanked her for turning their lives around. Both revealed that, as freshmen, they had been badly bullied and felt like outcasts. One confessed to being so despondent, he had even contemplated suicide.

These two well-liked and respected young men told my client that her class had changed their lives by making them feel understood, worthwhile and appreciated.  My client had simply done with them what she strives to do with all her students — she listened, validated and encouraged them to believe in themselves.

She told me in amazement, “Never in a million years would I have guessed what they were going through back then.  It taught me that being kind and positive really makes a difference for others.” Indeed it does!

I’d like to close by adding to Bob Perk’s words of wisdom a few of my own “best practices” for listening in a way that can make a profound difference for others:

  • Stay open: Listen without prejudgment or attachment to how YOU want the conversation to go or the outcome YOU want to see. You might be surprised to discover an EVEN better possible outcome than you imagined — if you can truly listen for it with an open mind.
  • Be an Active Listener – Pay attention. Don’t just wait for the other person to stop talking so YOU can speak. Your Inner Wisdom will give you the perfect words to say in response if you listen carefully to what they are saying all the way through to the end.
  • Ask permission before offering advice – Even a professional coach needs to distinguish whether advice is really what they want from you – or do they just need you to listen with a compassionate heart and help them to feel worthwhile, understood and validated? If you believe you have some helpful advice to impart, first ask, “Are you open to hearing my thoughts?” And then abide by their wishes.
  • Be a Connector – When I actively listen to my clients and friends, I find that I instantly recall the needs and desires they shared with me whenever a resource pops up that I recognize might help them. If you listen actively, you could become the answer to someone’s heartfelt dream by connecting them to the people and resources that can help them achieve it.

And as the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) and The Bible both remind us, the Good you do for others inevitably will be done unto YOU, too!

****************** 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 email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.   

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