October 7, 2018

“Attitudes truly are contagious.  So decide today to make yours worthy catching.” – Mac Anderson

Last week, we examined ways to protect yourself from others’ “toxic energy” that can do real harm to you mentally and emotionally and may even keep you from realizing your full potential in life.  If you missed it, I hope you will go to the blog archives on my website and read it first (Inoculate Yourself – Blog 316).

In the last blog, I related my own experience of having to abruptly disengage from someone whose toxic energy was masquerading as something positive (at least at first).  I believe now that he was emotionally manipulating me (and probably many others) to sympathize with him — undoubtedly for the positive attention it garnered and perhaps the money people like me gave him to support his “good works” and dire personal financial problems.

Based on my own experience, I came up with the first two “Rules” for protecting yourself from people who come to you with their toxic energy – which, in addition to emotional manipulation, can include behaviors such as spreading damaging gossip, chronic complaining, and trying to sabotage your dreams, undermine your self-confidence or erode your self-worth.

Self-protection Rule Number One I gave you last time was Maya Angelou’s wonderfully wise quote: “People will show you who they are and you’d best believe them.”  Once I fully recognized what the manipulator was doing, I disengaged immediately, which so caught him off guard that he instantly revealed himself as a predator in sheep’s clothing. We all have a God-given intuition that tells us when something or someone just doesn’t add up or feel right.  We must listen to that insistent inner whisper and act on it ASAP.

Rule Number Two came from minister Joel Osteen, who reminded us that we all have “seeds” of greatness that need to be nurtured in “good soil.”  If the friends you associate with do not provide you with a nurturing environment for your personal growth through their lack of values, poor lifestyle choices or negative mindset, Joel recommends gradually disengaging by spending less and less time with them.  If they notice, you can say you are too busy pursuing your positive goals to spend as much time hanging out with them as before.

So far, so good, right?  But what if the person who exudes toxic energy in your life is someone you cannot disengage from – like your boss, a key Team member, a close relative or even a spouse or ex-spouse who shares custody of your kids?  What can you do then?

If you cannot avoid someone else’s toxic energy, I believe you must do two things to protect yourself and turn things to your advantage:

  • Be 100% relentlessly POSITIVE yourself. I have all my clients consciously prepare their own energy (defined as your thoughts PLUS your emotions) at the beginning of each day with a centering practice that includes positive affirmations, listing things you are grateful for that day in a Gratitude Journal, doing some positive visualization and a few minutes of reading in a good personal development book. My mother used to call the morning prayers and affirmations she taught me “putting on your armor” for the day.  Protecting ourselves against being affected by someone else’s negative energy starts with cultivating our own strong positive energy.
  • Adopt your own “Best” mindset and actions and expect good results. We are not here to change anyone else. But you can have a positive influence on others by consciously directing your own positive energy and entering all your interactions with a focused expectation of creating the BEST possible outcome for yourself and everyone involved.   As a wise Mentor Coach once explained to me, when two people have opposing energy, whoever has the STRONGER energy will pull the other into their energy.  You can expect the BEST outcome in a given situation because your own focused, intentional, relentlessly positive energy is always stronger than another’s negative energy.

One of my coaching clients recently faced that very conundrum. She dreaded having to deal with someone on her network marketing Team whose toxic energy she knew would likely oppose her own, because it had many times in the past.  This person had been gossiping with members of the Team about each other and stirring up emotional drama where there should be mutual support.

As my client gave me the details, I felt that what must really be driving this person is a deep insecurity about herself as a Leader. If her Team doesn’t invite her to every event or training, she imagines they don’t want or need her help.  I asked my client to imagine for a moment what it would be like to be that Leader — Wouldn’t it be scary and depressing to be so needy and have such low self-esteem? Wouldn’t it be exhausting to try to monitor all of your Team members’ every action, searching for any sign that they consider you irrelevant? She agreed it would suck to live like that.

Letting herself imagine what it would be like to hold such toxic energy allowed my client to turn her resentment for the drama this Leader stirred up on the Team into compassion for how needlessly self-punishing she was.  Then she felt that she could authentically assure her that they both have the SAME goal – for their Team to thrive.

The next step was for her to create a positive intention for the outcome of the phone call that she had first wanted to avoid but now was eager to make on HER terms: “I am creating that she will feel my good intentions and trust them. We will listen to each other with an open mind and have a healthy dialogue. We will treat each other with respect.”

The focused, positive mindset and energy she decided to embody during their upcoming call was being “fair, understanding, committed and a good listener.”

I got this excited follow-up text from my client after their conversation: “I want to thank you for giving me the words and mindset to speak with [Toxic Energy Leader]. We spoke last week and honestly that conversation has freed me from feeling responsible for so many things that aren’t mine to carry.  Things I’ve carried for way too long. I was able to not let my emotions take over and to say [my truth] and listen to what was being shared.  And the best part is I left that conversation not feeling bad about myself!”

If you cannot avoid interacting with someone in your life who often embodies toxic energy, here are some helpful guidelines to remember:

  • YOU have the power to protect yourself by putting on your mindset “armor” each day. Adopt a focused, relentlessly positive mindset and confidently expect the BEST in your interactions with them.
  • Try to imagine where their negative mindset and behaviors could stem from. Working up some compassion and understanding for what it must be like for them to live with their self-inflicted pain can allow you to control your own emotions and find ways to help them feel heard, understood and acknowledged, which is what most insecure, controlling people are really after.
  • Rather than trying to avoid whatever issues you know you eventually must confront with them, take the reins! If you embody focused, relentlessly positive energy around them, you have every reason to believe it will have a positive influence on them, rather than allowing them to have a negative influence on you.

Most importantly, you must always remember that nobody and nothing can make you FEEL any particular way. Others can say and do things you might not like, and you should absolutely stand up for yourself if someone crosses your personal boundaries. But nobody controls YOUR energy but YOU.  So recognize and make the most of your personal power!

IMPORTANT NOTE: The blog will be taking the next Sunday off.  A Cup of Caroll will return on Sunday, October 21. 

If you would like your own F.R.E.E. 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 to enter your name and email.  Your information will never be shared with anyone.

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

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

 

 

September 30, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like receiving a gift and not opening it.” – William Arthur Ward

Welcome back!  I have missed you.  I missed writing the blog, but it was good to have a bit of time to myself, after a very busy summer. Over the past two weeks, while my coaching load was considerably lighter, with many of my networking marketing clients away at their annual convention in New Orleans, I got a chance to enjoy some good food, fun times and friendship with my dear friends Lisa and Peggy and of course, with my wonderful husband Rick.

The blog re-post before my hiatus (Back to School—Blog 314) was a fan favorite about showing appreciation for the people in our lives who serve as our teachers, mentors, role models and encouragers.  If you missed it, I hope you will look it up in the blog archives on my website.

I wanted to pass along to you some of the wonderful stories my readers shared with me about what happened when they took action and put their gratitude for the supporters in their lives into words of thanks and appreciation:

  • One client told me that when she returned from the convention, she sent a message to each of her Team members who had attended, acknowledging them for some specific special gift they have that blesses the whole Team. One is tech savvy and teaches others how to rock social media, one builds up and encourages others, one shares her knowledge and know-how with everyone, etc. It meant a lot to each of them, I’m sure, to be seen, acknowledged and appreciated for their contributions.
  • Another said she makes a point of telling her kids each day how proud she is of them for what they accomplished and who they were being. She also makes one short phone call each day to a member of her Team and acknowledges them for their special qualities and/or accomplishments.
  • One of the participants in my Prosperity Summer Camp 2018 webinar sent me a follow up note telling me that when she and her family were on vacation, she made it a point to thank her husband for making dinner and telling him sincerely, “I am so grateful for you.” It surprised him, and his first embarrassed reaction was “What’s up with that?” And her puzzled children chimed in, “Yeah, what’s up with that?” When she told them that she was learning about the power of expressing gratitude from the course, they thought it was a great idea.  “Before you knew it, the kids were saying, ‘Dad, thank you for dinner and I’m so grateful.’ It became part of our vacation and it felt so good!”
  • One of my clients told me how she got a real surprise when she asked her ex-husband if he would be willing to forego attending his wife’s family reunion to stay with their special needs son so my client could attend her company’s convention in New Orleans. In the past, he has not always stepped up to do his share with helping their children, so she was amazed and delighted when he readily agreed. Then I asked her if she had FULLY expressed her gratitude to him for making that sacrifice.

She took it to heart and texted him a heart-felt thank you note:  “Hi, B, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you and I’m so grateful to you that you are willing to forego your trip so you could help out with our son when I am in New Orleans.”

Her Ex’s response to her text surprised and delighted her: “You’re welcome. My wife and I both thought it was the right thing to do without hesitation….I am coming over this morning to watch the game with him.  Bringing donuts.  Do you want some?”

  • That same client is a grade school teacher and she says that noticing and complimenting her students always makes them visibly happy to be seen and appreciated. Because of that, she went out of her way to acknowledge a fellow participant at Weight Watchers. She knew the woman had been struggling for awhile to reach her goal weight. When she finally did, my client asked the whole group to applaud her achievement. Later, the woman posted on Facebook, “You have no idea how much I needed to hear that today.”

In the last post, I quoted my favorite positive-thought preacher, Joel Osteen, who frequently reminds us how our words can build others up and make all the difference in helping them succeed in life.  Here is another great passage from his daily inspirational note:

Be a People Builder by Joel Osteen

“God designed us to live in relationship with others.  He wants us to help each other grow.  None of us will reach our highest potential by ourselves.  We need people in our lives to encourage us, and we need to encourage the people in our lives and help them reach their potential.  The word ‘encourage’ means to ‘urge forward.’  Many times, you can see things in other people that they don’t see in themselves.  You can see their strengths and talents.  You can see that God has a special plan for them, even though they may be going through a difficult time.  Don’t assume that people see what you see in them.

“Take a moment and encourage them, either with a kind word or simple note.  There might be a special gift you can give them that will remind them of their goal or dream.  In whatever way you can, urge the people in your life to keep moving forward.  If you’ll be a people builder and help others fulfill their dreams, God will fulfill your dreams, and you’ll live in blessing all the days of your life.” 

He’s absolutely right.  None of us got where we are alone.  We all had one or more special parents, friends, teachers, coaches, mentors or role models who took the time to encourage us and build up our belief in ourselves and our ability to reach our dreams.  If you pay it forward by doing the same for someone else, you will have the incomparable satisfaction of knowing that you made the same kind of impact on another life.

And who knows?  You just might get a surprise “Thank you” note one of these days, like I did recently.  One of my past clients sent me a greeting card out of the blue.  The printed part said, “I am so thankful for your mentorship.”  Then she added by hand, “You were the first to come to my mind….Thank you for what you taught me.  You are truly amazing.  You are an Everyday Mentor, and that’s something to be grateful for.”

I can tell you that, even though I have I have been a Personal Success Coach for 14 years this month and had the privilege of helping over 700 individuals reach their Big Goals, their acknowledgment never gets old!

And I have to admit that it gave me goose bumps because it arrived the very next day after my last blog was published, so it had to have already been on its way to me before I ever mentioned the idea of sending a message of gratitude to someone who has been a teacher, mentor or role model for you!  If that isn’t an example of listening to Divine Direction, I don’t know what is!

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

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

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

September 2, 2018

 “In the end, a person is only known by the impact he or she has on others.” – Jim Stovall

Like many of my readers in the USA, I am spending the long Labor Day weekend getting some personal projects done, relaxing a bit with my family, and lamenting the unofficial end of summer.  That’s why I am playing hooky from writing a new blog this week.  Instead, I am sharing a lightly-edited post from three years ago that remains quite relevant for this time of year.

August 9, 2015

“One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement.  When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own.”  — John O’Donohue

It’s that time — Back to School Time!  Many of my clients are parents as well as business professionals and entrepreneurs, and they are still adjusting to their kids’ new school schedules and new teachers.

One of the most important things a good teacher does is to encourage students to strive for excellence and to believe in themselves.  Even if you don’t have school-age children, Back to School is a great time to remember that teachers play a vitally important role in all our lives and we are actually ALL teachers. If you are a parent, you teach and encourage your own children their values, manners and sense of self-esteem – among other critical life skills – every day.

Recently, my favorite televised minister, Joel Osteen, talked about the special role fathers play in bringing out the BEST in their children by giving them approval, encouragement and validation.  I loved his message, and I believe it applies to every adult, not just fathers. If you are a parent, teacher, boss, mentor, sponsor, aunt, uncle, older sibling, trusted friend, life or athletic coach, you are an encourager.

Sharing your approval, validation and encouragement with your employees, children, spouse, partner, friends and teammates gives them the courage to step out of their comfort zone to risk and achieve more than they ever thought possible. Even when they fail – especially when they fail – telling them you are proud of them for giving it their all and that you believe in them will give them the courage and belief to try again.

In his sermon, Joel Osteen said, “The people in your lives can’t read your thoughts – you have to speak them.  They need your love, guidance, support and mentorship.  They need you to teach them what you have learned, and to model excellence and integrity….All they need to excel is your blessing, your encouragement.  Give them an extra boost to excel, to rise higher, to go further, to accomplish things they never knew they were capable of.” 

And they, in turn, will duplicate all that with the important people in their lives – their families, friends, colleagues and teammates.  Encouragement, approval and validation are some of the most impactful things you could possibly pass along to the lives you touch on a regular basis.  That’s what professional teachers do for a living and that’s what each of us can do as well.

So here’s a simple but profound encouragement you can give your fellow teachers: Thank them!  If your child has one or more good teachers this year, go out of your way to write those professional encouragers a personal note stating how much your child loves their class and how grateful you are to have them in your child’s life.  You don’t have to wait for Back to School Night!  You can do this the second week of school.

And even if they are not perfect, if you make the effort to acknowledge and validate a teacher for his or her hard work and dedication, guess what?  It will make them want to be an EVEN better teacher and role model for your child.  We all thrive on encouragement and acknowledgement.

If you don’t have a child with a teacher, I urge you write a similar heartfelt “Thank You” note this week to someone who has been a mentor, role model, teacher or encourager in YOUR life.  Tell them how grateful you are for their belief in you and their encouragement.  Tell them the difference they have made in your life and I promise you they will keep that note for the rest of their lives.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The blog will be taking the next two Sundays off to let me spend some precious time with my family, friends and my BFF Lisa, who will be visiting from out of town.  A brand new Cup of Caroll will come to you on Sunday, September 23.  In the meantime, enjoy your Labor Day! 

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

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

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

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.