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. 

****************** 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.  

 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.

April 15, 2018

“It’s very freeing when you realize you don’t have to fight every battle.  You don’t have to straighten people out.  You don’t have to pay somebody back.  Instead, focus on what matters: Focus on God and His Word so you can live in peace and happiness every day of your life.” – Joel Osteen

Wow! This is my 300th blog post.  When I began writing A Cup of Caroll 10 years ago, I never imagined I would end up writing three blogs a month for 10 years (and counting) with the intention of helping my clients and cherished readers live more fulfilling, successful and prosperous lives.

And, after almost 14 years as a full-time professional coach, I never imagined I would be writing today’s topic because, frankly, I thought I was “cured” by now of the self-punishing practice of judging others.  LOL.

Today, I am 100% clear that, because we are human beings, we are NEVER cured of judging.  Judging is part of our Ego’s critical survival mechanism.  It keeps us safe by trying to size up people and situations and making a split-second decision: “Is this person friend or foe?” “Is this situation good or bad for you?”

Unfortunately, your Ego often gets it wrong because it judges people and situations only externally — according to what it can quickly observe about their outer appearance and behavior.  We all know that “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” yet your Ego just can’t help but try to judge people and situations based on these very limited, superficial clues.

Today, I was blessed to receive what I hope will remain an unforgettable Life Lesson about just how much anxiety, turmoil, frustration and unhappiness we bring upon ourselves and others when we judge them.  It’s not easy to catch ourselves judging, but we can if we know the signs to look for.  From now on, the trigger thought I will notice myself having is “How DARE they?”

That self-righteous, judging rhetorical question always comes to me whenever someone cuts me off in traffic, doesn’t pick up after their dog, allows their front yard to go to seed and spoil the neighborhood’s appearance, doesn’t return my messages, promises to and then forgets to pay their invoice, etc. etc. etc.! “How DARE they not live up to MY standards of proper behavior and right values?” is what my Ego whines inside my head.

Today my Life Lesson came, as many of them do, during my morning stop at Starbucks.  It is often crowded on weekend mornings so, spotting an open table, my wonderful husband Rick and I put our sunglasses down on it to save it and then got in line.  Then I went to get some napkins and returned to “our” table, only to find someone’s big purse and other items sitting on a chair at the same table.  Our glasses were still clearly visible, but the woman who was walking away from the table, dressed in business clothes and talking on her cell phone, had just put her stuff down there anyway.  “How DARE she?!”

I called out to her, waving the glasses in my hand and asking if this was her stuff?  She looked at me and pointed to her cell phone, as if to say, “Can’t you see how busy and important I am? I can’t listen to you and talk on the phone at the same time!”  At least, that’s what my EGO told me she was saying.

I shot her a stern look of annoyance and disapproval and then picked up our glasses and moved to the next table. Rick sat down and began to eat his breakfast, and when I came back with mine, the woman was standing next to our table, saying to him, “Your wife is unhappy with me.  I could see it on her face.” 

Then she crouched down, looked us both in the eye and babbled a steady stream of explanation for her unintentional faux pas of “stealing” our table.  She said she has been a nurse for 30 years and she can read people’s demeanor instantly, which is how HER Ego drew the conclusion from my facial expression that I was “angry” with her.  (I was annoyed and perplexed, but I would not go so far as to say I was angry.)

She said my inexplicable anger had at first upset her and she was tempted to curse me under her breath, but then she noticed my Disney cap and said, “I thought you MUST be a fun person, if you were wearing Mickey Mouse!”  That made us smile and proved that she is someone who knows how to recognize and calm down her own Ego’s “How DARE she?” reactions.

Her voice choked with emotion, she rapidly spilled out more information about her state of mind this morning — that she had recently lost two loved ones, one of whom was 94 years old.  She was talking so fast and with such emotion, it was hard to catch her exact words, but the meaning was clear: She was distraught and distracted.  She apologized for taking our table and said she hadn’t even noticed our glasses on it.  She didn’t know what I was saying to her as she walked toward the counter because she was on the phone and couldn’t hear me.  But she could tell I was upset with her.

I consider it Divine Intervention that she bravely chose to come over and talk to us.  She could have just sat down and pretended to ignore us.  Instead, she chose to be the bigger person and address the issue head on.  She apologized AND did me a huge favor by describing clearly how MY negative energy toward her had made her feel. In truth, my Ego’s judgment that this woman was entitled and uncaring couldn’t have been more wrong!  She is a compassionate, sensitive, and dedicated caregiver who courageously took responsibility when she unintentionally wronged someone.

I felt instant sympathy toward her and instant shame toward myself for making such a harsh (and inaccurate) judgment of her. I was reminded of the iconic story I’m sure you’ve heard about a man who was riding the New York subway and found himself suddenly surrounded by a number of loud, boisterous young children whose father sat slumped in his seat, looking distracted and dejected, and seemingly ignoring their behavior.  The man was annoyed and berated the father for not controlling his children, who were bothering the other riders.  The distracted father looked up and quietly apologized, explaining they had just come from the hospital where his wife passed away.

We never know what is really going on behind the scenes in someone’s life and what is causing them to behave the way they are.  Sometimes their behavior IS patently unacceptable or hurtful and if that is the case, we should speak up about how it impacts us, just as the nurse did when she told me in a forthright but inoffensive manner how my behavior had made her feel.

But most of the time, we should take Joel Osteen’s advice and just LET IT GO.  It’s not our job to school everyone else on how to live according to our own values and standards.  And it certainly does not benefit US to harbor negative feelings about all the ways someone has wronged us and maybe even plot how to pay them back.  Leave the judgment department to God. It’s above our pay grade.

Instead, our job is simply to be the BEST we can be, and to strive each day to live up to our own standards, beliefs and values.  If we “lead from the front” by doing and being our BEST (which includes showing kindness, support and compassion to others), we are setting a good example for our children, loved ones and business colleagues and doing more to help them be happy and successful than any tongue lashing ever could.

Here’s the happy ending of my own story: After breakfast, I was about to walk out of Starbucks, when I noticed the nurse still sitting at the table, writing intently. I went up to the counter and bought a $5 Starbucks gift card that said, “Thank You. The next one’s on me.”

I took it to her table, where she was totally absorbed in writing in her journal, and laid it gently in front of her.  She looked at it and me with surprise and delight and asked my name.  Then she stood up, thanked me by name and asked if she could hug me.  We embraced and when she sat down again, there were tears in both our eyes.  She said, “You made my day.  You have no idea how much this means to me.”

I put my hand on her shoulder, smiled at her and just said, “Ditto.”

****************** 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.   

February 18, 2018

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me.  The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” – Viktor Frankl

It has been cleverly stated that “holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”  Yet, from time to time, all of us have been hurt, annoyed or even angry with someone important in our lives.  It might be a boss, spouse, child, client, colleague or Team member.

Unpleasant and unfair circumstances and people are a part of life, no matter how hard you try to do your best and keep a positive outlook. But you can certainly mitigate the damage they do to you by controlling your own mindset and not allowing yourself to go negative in return.

It can feel temporarily satisfying to nurse your wounded feelings by harboring resentment and enumerating to others all the ways someone has treated you poorly.  But as tempting as it can be to play the martyr, your negative thoughts and words will not help heal the situation and will eventually come back to bite you.  The Law of Attraction (energy attracts like energy) will cause the wounded, angry, complaining energy that you are spreading around to attract MORE bad breaks and people to mistreat, disappoint and upset you.

One of my coaching clients recently found herself in the unhappy position of being relentlessly hounded by a parent of one of her special-needs students.

The mother felt my client hadn’t been giving her son enough attention, support and help, even though my client said the child was one of the most difficult in her classroom, a handful in every way.  No matter how hard she tried to patiently help him, the boy’s mother seemed to blame all his learning and behavior problems on her. My client had to sit through several uncomfortable meetings, feeling “attacked” by the parent, while her principal didn’t support her strongly enough.

We talked about how the mother’s combative approach to helping her son was beginning to take a toll on my client’s energy and enthusiasm for her teaching, as well as for her own family and her network marketing business.  By allowing the negative attitude of one person to affect her, she was actually punishing herself and her loved ones in many ways.

I reminded her that I had given her some powerful mindset tools she could use to take back her power and she vowed to work on maintaining a positive outlook.  One of those tools, which I have found to be very helpful in shifting one’s mindset quickly, is gratitude.

Acknowledging and expressing appreciation for the positive aspects of a person or a situation you are having problems with can calm you down, put things in perspective and help you to re-focus on what you WANT, instead of what you don’t want. Rather than complain about the mother and the principal, I encouraged my client to feel GRATEFUL for her job and her students and to focus all her energy on creating the best possible outcome for everyone involved. After all, she and the mother were actually on the same side – both wanting only what is BEST for the student.

A few days later, my client emailed me that she had spoken to a colleague about how parents had been treating her this year and the other teacher suggested making a bigger effort to reach out to them about positive and neutral things, “so that they don’t only hear from me when something is wrong.” She followed through on that good advice by emailing the parents some neutral class updates and the next day, she said her students “all did amazingly on their Science quiz (a class all but one failed first semester.) So I texted their parents the good news and I got a great response from the mom who’s been awful to me all year.” 

The mother responded that her son had voluntarily done his homework early, which was unheard of, giving her time to review it with him and help him better prepare for the test.  As a result, he got an exceptionally good grade and both mother and son were thrilled.

The next time you find yourself seething over what someone has done (or failed to do) and want to change your mindset so that YOU can be happy and successful, instead of attracting MORE strife to yourself, here’s a tried and true little exercise that is guaranteed to shift your energy toward the positive.  In my more than 13 years as a Personal Success Coach, I have never seen it fail:

Sit down with a blank sheet of lined paper and list 25 things you appreciate or are grateful for about the person who is causing you grief.  You aren’t allowed to get up until you have listed at least 25 positive things about the person, no matter how long it takes.

Many of the unhappy clients I have had do this began by saying, “I can’t think of 25 good things about him!”  Yet, soon I invariably receive a message from them stating that, “By the time I did 25, I was so in love with my husband again, I didn’t want to stop …. I wrote 50!”

Whatever we focus on and send our energy to will grow stronger.  If you focus on someone’s bad behavior or shortcomings, those negative traits are only going to get stronger.  But when you focus on what you love, appreciate and are grateful for, that energy will draw out more of their best – and more of yours, too.

So the next time you are annoyed or upset, just sit down and make a 25 Gratitudes List about the person or situation.  I promise that you will go from grumbling to grateful in no time!

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

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

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

December 3, 2017

“Letting people know that you care does more than you imagine.  You have the power to cause them to pursue their dreams.” – Joel Osteen

The theme of my last several Holiday-season blogs has been doing good for others because that is how we demonstrate our sincere gratitude to God/The Universe for the many blessings we have been given in our lives AND because the world certainly needs more love and kindness and generosity right now.

We kicked off our annual Pay It Forward Challenge, where my readers strive to become a Messenger of Happiness by doing a kind deed for another, whether it involves a little financial generosity or support with an errand or listening ear that someone needs right now.  Your wonderful stories have been pouring in and I am going to share them in my final blog of 2017 on December 17, in hopes they will inspire even MORE kind, generous and hospitable deeds to create an atmosphere of love all around us.  Please send me your PIF stories ASAP so I can include them!

I want to share with you another specific type of kindness and paying it forward that was beautifully explained in a televised sermon by my favorite positive thought minister, Joel Osteen.  His message was about how we can make a profound difference for others simply through our words.  Words don’t cost a thing, and often take only seconds to express, but their impact can change a life and last a lifetime.

Joel said, “We don’t know what people are going through.  They’re smiling on the outside, but on the inside, they’re hurting, they’re lonely, they’re discouraged…Just a simple word of encouragement, a simple compliment is helping to heal their wounds, lifting their spirits and causing them to believe in themselves.”

He went on to explain that “Our words have the power to lift people, to help them get through a challenge, to push them into their destinies. When you tell someone ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m proud of you,’ you’re not just being kind; those are healing words.”

He listed some great specific examples about how, in just a few minutes or even seconds out of our daily lives, we can be healers and supporters by encouraging a co-worker who is down, lifting the spirits of a friend who is sick or calling a relative just to say you miss them. The clerk in the grocery store, the attendant at the gas station, a friend at the gym – all of them need your encouragement and to know that you believe in them.

And he points out that a blessing isn’t a blessing unless it’s SPOKEN: “You can think nice things about them all day long, but until you tell them, they’ll never know… God put the idea in your head – now you need to SPEAK in order to heal with it.”

You don’t know what they are going through and how much it might mean to them and encourage them if you just take a moment to have a friendly interaction or give them a small compliment.  It’s amazing what a sincere, kind word can do for someone.

I had just such a Pay it Forward interaction in Starbucks recently.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always purchase a bunch of $5 gift cards and distribute them at random times to the baristas at the cash register to pay for the drinks of other customers, as my way of spreading around some Holiday Cheer.

Usually, I like to make a clean getaway, so the recipient of my little “Secret Santa” gift doesn’t know where it came from.  But on that particular mid-afternoon, nobody was in line behind me when I gave a $5 gift card to the barista and told her to give it to the next person who stepped up to the register. Then I went over to wait for my drink to be prepared.

At that moment, a woman walked in all by herself.  She wasn’t unkempt, not homeless, I’m sure.  But she looked somehow a little sad and definitely very quiet.  She carefully counted out her dollar bills and change for her drink, and then as I watched, the barista surprised her with, “No, you only owe $1.” She stood there frozen, puzzled as the barista pointed to me and said, “That lady paid for the rest of your order.”

She didn’t turn around to look at me, but eventually came over and stood next to me. Finally she said in a whisper of emotion, “Thank you SO much!”  I smiled at her, feeling a little awkward myself at being caught in the act.  All I could think to say was, “You are MOST welcome!  I wanted to spread a little joy around today.”  She smiled shyly at me and then we stood there quietly side by side for another couple of minutes until my drink arrived.

As I turned to leave, she touched me gently on the shoulder, looked me directly in the eye and said, “Thank you again. This means so much.”

I smiled at her, this time looking her in the eye too and replied, “YOU are so welcome! Have a great afternoon!”

It was such a small, brief interaction with a total stranger, but somehow, I could tell it meant the world to her. Maybe she was lonely or worried about something or grieving for someone….I will never know.  But that was by far the most emotional reaction I have ever gotten to this little gesture of camaraderie and kindness.  All I could think was, I know that God put me here today just for her and I am so glad I followed my inner urge to go to Starbucks and to bestow that gift card exactly when I did.

Joel also said, “When you are taking care of others, you are sowing seeds that will grow to fruition and come back to bless you.” As a post-script, I had an amazing example of that within 48 hours after blessing that shy stranger with my small gesture of human connection.

With some extra bills hitting in November, it had been a pretty tight month for us. I realized as I was preparing to pay our December rent that we were quite a bit short. I could have taken what I needed out of savings, but that would feel like a defeat, after working so hard to keep our “rainy day fund” sacrosanct, since experiencing the constant worry about having zero savings all during the Great Recession.

I didn’t know where the rest was going to come from, since all my client billings were done, but one thing I knew for sure, God/The Universe was the one who had the answer. MY job was simply to calm my fears, stay in belief, and keep my eyes wide open for the “How” to appear.

Within 48 hours of my caring interaction with the stranger at Starbucks, a new client came out of nowhere to sign up for coaching and another texted out of the blue that she wanted to pay for upcoming coaching well in advance!  Those two unexpected windfalls were exactly the balance needed for our December rent!

Remember this: Someone today is thirsty for your healing words, and a sign that they matter.  You can use your kind, empathetic words to encourage them and make them feel loved and valuable in life-changing ways you may never know. One type of Paying it Forward that we often overlook is PRAISE and ACKNOWLEDGMENT, especially with our own loved ones.

Joel Osteen says, “Don’t let a stranger, a coach, a teacher or a friend compliment your loved ones more than you do.  Verbalize your feelings and speak positive, healing, encouraging words to them.  And when you compliment someone in front of others, it carries extra weight.  Acknowledge them in public whenever you have the chance.”

Are you speaking words of praise, encouragement and confidence to your kids, your friends, your spouse and your business associates?  You can change the atmosphere and bring healing to a relationship or provide the confidence boost someone needs to pursue their dreams — simply through your words!  So Pay it Forward in kind words and deeds and reap the good that you sow!

PLEASE NOTE: A Cup of Caroll will take next weekend off for Disneyland and other Holiday fun! Join me on Sunday December 17 to share all your Pay it Forward Challenge results stories for our final blog of 2017.  Please email me yours ASAP so I can include them!

If you or your friends would like your own free 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.

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

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

November 19, 2017

“Messenger of Happiness” by Kate Osier

“Oh!  Let me shed a little light

on someone’s path I pray.

I’d like to be a messenger

of happiness today.

It may be just a phone call,

a smile, or a prayer,

or a long-neglected letter

that smooths the edge of care.

I want to spread some happiness

in what I say or do.

I want to make life sweeter

for someone else. Don’t you?”

As we head into Thanksgiving week here in the USA, most of us are preparing to either play host or be a grateful guest at a gathering filled with family, food, warmth and joy. That is the ideal, anyway, although, as we all know, the realities of family dynamics and human interactions are sometimes far from ideal.

Still, gatherings like Thanksgiving and the rest of the Holiday Season give us the opportunity to practice a wonderful concept that I learned just this week from a story featured on my favorite positive TV news magazine, CBS Sunday Morning.

The billboard of a church in a poor part of Philadelphia that operates a daily free meal service for anyone who chooses to come in says simply, “All are welcome.  We practice Radical Hospitality here.”

 I looked up the word “hospitality” and it is defined as “A friendly welcome and kind or generous treatment offered to guests or strangers.” That’s a wonderful thing, no doubt.

 But RADICAL Hospitality goes beyond just being kind or generous to guests or strangers.  I believe it means putting your actions where your mouth is and doing something to PROVE to someone that you believe they are valuable. In fact, they are PRICELESS.  You may not know them personally, but you are willing to set aside your own Ego’s self-focus, personal judgments and typical conditions for reciprocating kindness in order to do something tangible to show them that you care about them and make them feel a sense of self-worth and value.

The featured church’s food program is supported by two restaurant partners, one of whom used to be a drug addict.  The two men own four successful restaurants and donate 100% of the profits from one of the four to the church. This support allows the church to feed a hot meal every day to the homeless, the elderly or anyone who just wants to come into a warm place for some camaraderie, amazing food and even more amazing service.

The restaurant supplies the same fabulous food to the church program that it serves to its own paying customers – far above the usual standards of a “soup kitchen.”  And the restaurant’s efficient young wait staff all volunteer unpaid on their own time to serve the “guests” (as they are always referred to), who are seated beneath beautiful stained glass windows in the sanctuary at big round tables covered with lovely linens, plates and silverware.

Some guests arrive trailing shopping carts filled with their belongings, while others look clean and presentable and may have been just living alone and in need of company. “They don’t care what you smell like,” as one older black lady said. The staff and volunteers don’t ask questions or judge them in any way; they simply practice Radical Hospitality by making them feel welcome and valued.

One homeless gentleman started crying on camera, saying that he didn’t think he’d be alive today if it weren’t for this program.  Not because he couldn’t get a meal somewhere else, but because he couldn’t be made to feel like a worthwhile human being anywhere else.

I think we are ALL capable of practicing Radical Hospitality.  It means going above and beyond – maybe in a small but a significant way – to make someone feel valued, appreciated and special.  That’s what my readers and I have been trying to do with our annual Pay It Forward Challenge.

 Your stories have been pouring in about the many wonderful big and little things you are doing to make others feel a measure of the joy that you feel as you count your blessings this Holiday Season. I find them SO inspiring!

Here are just two examples that illustrate beautifully the concept of giving Radical Hospitality:

  • One of my readers noticed an unkempt, clearly-homeless man sitting by himself in the café where she was having lunch. She went to the counter and told the owner she wanted to buy the man lunch AND a $25 gift card to use later.  The owner began to cry and told her that she had been trying to resist the urgings of other patrons who wanted the homeless man banned from the restaurant because his presence made them “uncomfortable.”  My reader’s support gave courage to the owner to continue to stand up for what she felt was right – offering kindness and hospitality to a fellow human being who needed it.
  • Another reader’s friend recently found the courage to end a toxic relationship and move herself and her teenage daughter into their own small apartment, leaving the emotionally abusive man she had been living with for years. Several of her friends pitched in to help her move, and as they were ordering pizza for dinner in her new place, my reader opened the refrigerator and saw that it was empty.  So she went to the store and bought everything her friend and her daughter would need to stock it.  Her generous gesture was a comparatively small sacrifice for her, but I am sure it gave a huge measure of comfort and hope to her friend, who was making the biggest change of her life.

Wherever you find yourself this Thanksgiving and the rest of the Holiday Season – with friends, family or just a beloved pet and the television — I hope you will be counting your own blessings and looking for ways to bless others with some Radical Hospitality, too.  That might mean preparing and sharing your favorite delicious dish or just listening patiently to an older relative who tells the same stories every year or a child who craves your attention and approval.

And even beyond that, how many ways can you find to express Radical Hospitality in your career, business or personal relationships?  What would it do to your sales results if you constantly looked for ways to make your customers feel valued and special?  How would it affect your business Team, prospective Team or work colleagues  if you made them feel they are the cream of the crop and you appreciate them every day?  And what about your own significant other, spouse or children? What ways can you find to surprise and delight those closest to you by treating them like treasured guests instead of taking them for granted?

Making those around us feel valued, special and appreciated is the essence of putting our own feelings of gratitude for our many blessings into Pay It Forward ACTION.  And, as the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) teaches us, showing Radical Hospitality to others will always attract more of the same to us.

I look forward to sharing more inspiring stories with you soon!  In the meantime, I wish you and yours a very filling and FUL-filling Thanksgiving.  The blog will be taking the next weekend off so that I can share mine with those I love.  Your next Cup of Caroll will arrive on Sunday December 3!

 If you or your friends would like your own free 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.

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

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

“No act of kindness is too small.  The gift of kindness may start as a small ripple that over time can turn into a tidal wave affecting the lives of many.” – Kevin Heath

My wonderful husband Rick and I just returned from nine magical days in Hawaii, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.  As you may know, in the Hawaiian language, “Aloha” means “Hello,” “Goodbye” or “I love you.”  But we learned from the people we met on the lovely islands of Oahu and Kaua’i that “Aloha Spirit” means so much more.

Virtually everyone we met who lives and works in the Islands seemed to naturally exude Aloha Spirit.  In the Hawaiian culture, it is a point of pride to treat visitors like Ohana (family) by being friendly, welcoming, generous, helpful and kind. As a result, we found ourselves saying “Mahalo” (Thank you) innumerable times to strangers who went above and beyond for us during our visit.

Here are some of the key Aloha Lessons I learned from them:

Make an effort to connect emotionally — Smile and look the other person in the eye. Ask how they are doing, how their day is going. And then really listen to their answer! If things aren’t so great, the simple act of being heard tells them that they matter and lightens their burdens.

Look for little ways to be of service – You don’t have to solve the world’s problems. However, if you are in a position to lend a helping hand beyond what is required or expected, the other person will be surprised and delighted by your kindness and will never forget your genuine caring. They will become raving fans of yours, and the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) will work in your favor the next time YOU need help.

Danielle, the desk clerk at our Kaua’i condo, was ready to log off her computer for the day when we approached and asked if there was a printer we could use to print the boarding passes for our flight home the next morning.  She immediately dropped her back pack and stayed to enter the information herself and print our boarding passes. And she did it with relaxed ease and good humor, like it was the most interesting and enjoyable thing she had done all day.

It turns out that one small kindness was absolutely key to our having a smooth trip home because the ticket agent at our inter-island flight from Kaua’i to Honolulu offered to have our bags checked through from his tiny airline to our mainland plane so we wouldn’t have to do anything except board our flight to Los Angeles once we got to Honolulu. We didn’t realize that was possible and wouldn’t have thought to ask!  Once on the ground, a gate agent led us through the maze of back halls in Honolulu’s huge terminals so we wouldn’t have to stand in line for a second security screening.

Because of these three people’s above-and-beyond Aloha Spirit, Rick and I were able to enjoy a relaxed lunch in the Honolulu airport and get to our gate with time to spare, setting us up for a smooth and enjoyable flight home.

Do the right thing, even if it’s not convenient — Just so you know that Aloha Spirit is also alive and well here on the Mainland, I have to give a shout out to the Hilton LAX shuttle driver who noticed us standing at the curb at midnight, having waited in vain for over 40 minutes for a Marriott shuttle to take us back to our car.  On his third trip circling the airport, he stopped, opened his doors, helped us with our bags and took us and another group of stranded foreign visitors to the Marriott, even though he was technically not supposed to do that. (We became instant raving fans and tipped him big, of course.  Next time, we will stay at the Hilton!)

Debbie Powers, Professor Emerita of Wellness at Ball State University, explained in a recent Body Wise International eNewsletter that being kind benefits both the giver and receiver in important ways:

“It seems like we’re in a bit of a kindness crisis these days.  If you have spent time on social media, behind the wheel, in a line at a store, or at any crowded event, it seems like kindness and civility have eroded tremendously.  With violence, bullying, politics and natural disasters broadcasted into our everyday consciousness, it is hard to find positivity. 

 Research shows that our brain’s reward center is wired to get a lift when we’re helpful and compassionate.  It feels good.  People with physical ailments have less pain and anxiety when presented with kindness. Everyone feels less exhausted when there is an atmosphere of kindness.  It’s time for a groundswell of kindness in 2017.  It starts with one person, one act.  One kind act trips what social scientists call ‘social contagion.’ There is a tendency to ‘kind it forward.’

 Kindness is a value that transcends borders, race, faith, and age.  It contributes to healthier schools, communities and businesses.  It doesn’t cost money or much time to show empathy, respect, and compassion for another person.  We can all start today with a simple act of kindness to someone.  Our mental and physical health is at risk without it.”

It’s an old truism that people will eventually forget what you said and did but they will never forget how you made them feel.  Rick and I will never forget how so many kind and friendly people made us feel during our special celebration trip.

We can all spread some Aloha Spirit right now, in our own backyards — with family, neighbors, business associates and customers, among people you know and strangers you don’t know. If you go out of your way to do just one small kindness for someone each day, I guarantee it will return to bless you many times over. And it just may make you will feel like you are on a tropical vacation every day.

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  or toll free 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.   

“When you see yourself as calm, positive, truthful and possessed of high character, you behave with greater strength.  Other people respect you more.  You feel in control of yourself and the situation.” – Brian Tracy

This week’s coaching brought a blog theme to the forefront of my mind, as several of my coaching clients struggled to deal with negative people without letting it destroy their own positive mindset.

One client was unsure how to respond to a Leader in her network marketing organization who was spewing negative texts to her and other members of her Team about someone who had reached a milestone reward in the company.  She felt it was unfair that someone who had been in the business for a shorter time was receiving this recognition and reward ahead of her. The Leader tried to make someone else’s triumph mean that SHE was never going to get there herself.

Another client was very hurt by a dear friend who texted her after a social event they attended together that she wished my client would “dial it back” about discussing her business with others in a social setting.

And a third client was exhausted from caring for a sick relative who seemed unwilling to take personal responsibility for her own decisions and actions that were contributing to her problems.

At some time, we all must deal with people whose energy is negative, selfish, uncaring or even purposely hurtful.  If we allow it, their negative thoughts and actions can throw us off course in pursuing our dreams by making us doubt our own positive expectations, values and beliefs.

It’s not in their power to steal your success and joy, but it is in YOUR power if you surrender to their negativity.  That’s because the Law of Attraction says that energy attracts like energy.”  Toxic people and negative circumstances will come into your life, but it isn’t these outside forces that can harm you.  It is solely your reaction to them that either empowers or disempowers you and determines who and what is attracted into your life next.

In the first client’s case, she handled the toxic texting beautifully with a positive response of her own that said essentially, “I know you are going to reach [that same prize] soon!  Keep up the great work.”  Responding with cheerful positivity is great way to respond to someone else’s negativity.  If you respond with positivity and don’t take the bait, they will eventually stop sending gossip and negative messages your way because it’s no “fun” when others won’t join in the trash talk.  Similarly, when someone comes at you with anger, if you respond calmly and don’t fight back, their angry energy will deflate because it truly does take two to quarrel.

This is not to say that you should be a doormat or allow someone to mistreat you.  I absolutely believe in standing up for yourself and for what you believe is right.  It’s the energy behind your response that will have a positive or negative impact on YOU.  If you take it personally and allow yourself to go negative, “the terrorists win” because you have given away your power to think and behave the way YOU choose to.

In the case of the friend’s “dial it back” text that hurt my client, I tried to help her see the situation from her friend’s point of view. It takes maturity and self-confidence to consider another’s point of view, especially when it is diametrically opposed to our own.  Judging or being self-righteous toward others’ opinions, beliefs or lifestyle is a form of negative energy.

I invited my client to consider that her friend probably felt awkward in a social setting, standing on the periphery of a two-party conversation for 10 or 15 minutes, as my client politely fielded a barrage of questions from a stranger who wanted details about a product she was interested in. The friend didn’t express herself as well as she could have, for sure.  But I don’t believe she was really being unsupportive of my client’s business; she likely just felt left out and overlooked and it hurt her feelings.

I had a lot of sympathy for the client with the difficult relative.  Anyone who has ever had to care for a sick adult knows how emotionally and physically stressful it can be.  And when that person is a needy, stubborn, chronic complainer who creates problems that others have to clean up, it can be extra frustrating.

In truth, though, more than the actual caregiving, it was my client’s attitude toward her recuperating relative’s lifestyle that was wearing her out.  For example, she allowed herself to feel helpless and upset that the woman struggled out to the porch multiple times a day to smoke, even though she knew it was bad for her.  I suggested that my client allow the relative to be herself, make her own decisions, and live with the consequences.  She is not required to solve all her problems for her.  She must be compassionate and give her relative whatever support she feels she can, without feeling guilty about whatever she can’t control.  Her relative is an adult, after all.  It’s HER life and her own life lessons that she must learn.

The irony is that the recuperating relative seemed to be getting along just fine, while my client was feeling exhausted and unfocused, which was taking a toll on her OWN health, productivity and family relationships.  You cannot control anyone else, and in trying to, you can lose control of who YOU are, thinking and behaving like someone you don’t want to be. The solution is to stop trying to save others from themselves, judging them or controlling them.  Just relax, be neutral and don’t volunteer to be sucked into their life drama.

I love Brian Tracy’s powerful quote.  Let it be your guiding star in determining your own life course. You can ask yourself daily: Am I feeling calm, positive, truthful and possessed of high character”?  Am I acting “strong and in control”? If not, adjust your thoughts and actions until you can answer “Yes!”

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 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.