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.

 

 

“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.

August 26, 2018

“In the end, it all comes down to a matter of choice.  Each of us can choose to be reactive and at the mercy of a world that appears threatening, or we can choose to be open to life and its remarkable possibilities.  We can be defensive and protective, or we can live with a new spring in our step and spirit, eyes that truly see, ears that really hear, and a heart that can feel the wonder and celebrate the magnificent mystery that is life.” – From the book Getting Unstuck: 10 Simple Secrets to Embracing Change and Celebrating Your Life

Like many of you, I have been watching the weather news anxiously this week as Hurricane Lane bore down on the beautiful Hawaiian Islands.  Although there has certainly been some significant damage to cars, homes and roads from high winds and buckets of rain, the force of the storm turned out to be much less than expected. Thankfully, the people living in the Islands have been spared the overwhelming chaos they could have faced.

The weather chaos reminds me of other forms of chaos that a number of my clients, friends and I have faced this week, as well.  Several had children going off to college for the first time, which I now know from experience (thanks to my stepson Matt), can be an anxious and challenging time, both physically and emotionally.  It was also back to school time for younger children, and there’s always a certain amount of chaos and jangled nerves that go with a new school year routine, especially if they are going into a new school. Others had mechanical problems with cars and home remodeling.  I personally had some truly frustrating moments with my email system, which I absolutely depend on to be able to coach my clients.

While it’s easy for your Ego to feel anxious, frustrated, upset and even despairing when faced with different forms of chaos, it’s important for you to not succumb to that negative energy.  If you give in to it, the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) dictates that focusing your energy on negative thoughts and emotions will only attract MORE chaos to you. Whatever thoughts and emotions we focus on gain strength, like a hurricane traveling across the warm waters of an ocean, sucking up more moisture and growing ever bigger and stronger.

Fortunately, you have a choice.  No circumstance or person can make you FEEL any particular way.  You don’t have to suck up negative energy and make yourself feel more negative, upset and frustrated.  You have the free will to CHOOSE exactly how you view and respond to any given situation.  You can be the “eye” of the hurricane, which is calm and peaceful in the midst of the chaos swirling around it.

How can you do that?  Your thoughts create your emotions.  By re-directing your thoughts, you can control your emotional reaction to any situation. If you are upset, frustrated, angry, despairing or panicked, it’s because you have focused your thoughts on the worst case scenario for the outcome of a situation.  You are expecting the WORST to happen.

Instead, you need to consciously direct your mind to expect THE BEST.  You can’t know for sure the ultimate outcome of any situation in advance.  The BEST outcome is just as likely as the WORST.  But your advantage is that you can influence the odds for either the BEST or the WORST outcome by the energy you direct toward one or the other.

Your subconscious mind is always listening to everything you think and say. Like an internal minion, it believes everything you tell it, hook, line and sinker.  So don’t tell it the WORST is going to happen….Tell it the BEST is going to happen!  Talk it into really EXPECTING the best and it will do everything in its power to come up with ideas for you to make the best outcome a reality.

I saw firsthand how a mindset shift influenced the outcome for one of my friends recently.  He emailed me that his car had just had yet ANOTHER mechanical issue, in the same week it had blown two tires and the transmission had gone out of whack. In his Ego’s initial “despair” reaction to this chaos, he fumed, “This is TOO MUCH!  Please pray for me!” Clearly, his Ego was envisioning the worst case scenario: “You can’t handle any more of this chaos. This is hopeless!  Your car is not going to function and you are going to be stuck without transportation!”

I replied that maybe this “bad news” was really a sign that he was supposed to get a new car – something EVEN better.  That got him thinking along a new track.  Instead of seeing himself as the victim of some sort of unfathomable divine punishment, he recognized and took responsibility for each thing that had gone wrong with it. Instead of seeing his car as something to be frustrated with, he realized he really loves his car!

As his thoughts ran in a new, positive direction, his energy began to shift.  He wrote:

“Here’s what I decided.  For now, I am completely focused on my mental health.  I want to be happy and I am….Right now I am at peace, certainly not financially but mentally.  I am liked.  I am loved.  I have the ability to give of myself and for now I need to simply maintain that.  Being here with what I have is OK for now. 

“I am outside looking at my car right now.  It’s 11 years old.  I know it like an old friend.  We’ve been through a lot together.  If someone gave me a new car, I’d have to break it in.  Good friends you hold onto.  I am not limiting myself and my future.  I am basking in the peace of the moment.”

He went from frustration and despair to “basking in the peace of the moment” in the time it took to look at his car and write an email about what it means to him.  THAT is some impressive energy shifting!

Just a little while later, I got a follow-up message:

“WOW!  Not sure if my statement earlier had anything to do with it but after sending the message about my car, I tried one more time to start it.  This time, there was a sound of actually trying to turn over. Then it did.  I discovered the positive cable wasn’t completely connected.  Like life.  We may think we are grounded but we can’t function with only negative.”

As soon as his mindset and energy shifted, his subconscious mind got him to try turning it on one more time and voila — He got a working battery without having to buy a new one!

To calm your thoughts and emotions, here’s a mantra I use myself whenever I can’t see the solution to a chaotic situation or tough problem.  If you prefer, you can substitute The Universe, Inner Wisdom, Infinite Spirit — or whatever description best fits your personal belief system:

“I claim, accept and expect THE BEST.  God is with me, helping me, and I EXPECT great things to happen!”

Repeating this affirmation aloud in the face of chaos will allow your subconscious mind to stay calm and open to receiving the BEST solution, as it is whispered to you by the still, small voice that dwells in the eye of the hurricane.

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.

 

“Live for something.  Do good, and leave behind you a monument of virtue that the storms of time can never destroy.  Write your name in kindness, love, and mercy on the hearts of thousands you come in contact with year by year, and you will never be forgotten.  Your name and your good deeds will shine as stars in heaven.” – Thomas Chalmers

I was gratified by the positive response to my last blog (A Special Gift – Blog 309).  It seems the story of my friend Bob Perk’s relentless kindness and patience toward a difficult neighbor touched your hearts. Most importantly, many readers told me it made them more resolved to be kind to others they come in contact with daily, too. One said, “I want to be Bob!”

I hadn’t anticipated writing a post-script to that blog, but Bob sent me two.  I’d like to share them both with you, to provide a complete picture of what it takes to be truly committed to being kind.

You will recall that one of the residents of Bob’s new senior living community seemed determined to be cynical and sour toward his attempts to make life happy and cheerful for the other residents.  A typical example of his kindness and thoughtfulness was Bob’s decision to put on a picnic of hot dogs, sodas and sides for any residents who had nowhere to go to celebrate the Fourth of July. Bob generously paid for everything out of his own small income.

Most of his neighbors adore Bob for such acts, but this one woman seemed impervious to his good will, constantly belittling his efforts with cynical and sarcastic remarks. Although he was initially taken aback, Bob wisely made a conscious choice not to take it personally.  Each time they met, he continued to greet her pleasantly (even when she wouldn’t make eye contact or even return his “Hello”) and prayed for her daily.

One day he found himself in the elevator with her and he decided to speak up. He told me he asked her “why she found pleasure in mocking my efforts, yet showed up for the hot dog meal on the Fourth…Before she responded, I said, ‘Because I want you to be my friend.’” 

She was startled by his bold declaration, but Bob observed, “I believe my directness stunned her and my sincerity confused her stone cold spirit.  Even though I broke the wall she has built, she will most likely rebuild it in order to protect her narrow-minded assumptions and not appear at fault.  Still, I have removed a part of the wall with the only tool I know best.  Love.  Love is the answer.”

I made an observation in the blog that if you follow Bob’s shining example and spread kindness to others, most people will show deep gratitude.  But some may appear to resist.  We don’t know what their personal background is or what they have been through in life that has made them think and behave the way they do.

A few days later, Bob sent me this surprising update:

“I happened to look outside and saw C. sitting there by herself.  I opened the door and said hello.  She called me over and we had this incredible conversation.  Very open and friendly.

She then revealed that yesterday she found out that she has cancer…again.  Breast.  One removed years ago.  I carefully, gently placed my hand on her shoulder and told her that ‘I will see you in my prayers.’ 

I asked that if she felt comfortable doing so, I’d like updates.  She said, ‘You’re the only one who offered.’ …..Before I left, she thanked me again and told me I was very kind and caring. 

I see it this way: I just continued to include her rather than reject her.  God knew of her cancer and knows how alienating she was.  [God] asked me to break through so others will be there for her too.”

I wish that was the storybook ending we would all love — That Bob’s relentless kindness and love permanently tore down the walls she had put up between herself and others.  Unfortunately, reality is often a bit less than perfect.

After that wonderful heart-to-heart encounter with his troubled neighbor, Bob went about putting the finishing touches on a fabulous party he was preparing. It was to be held on his birthday, but Bob was not the guest of honor. He was the host and any of the 200 residents in his community were welcome to attend as honored guests.

He spent weeks preparing a lavish menu (including 80 pounds of pulled pork), and lots of yummy sides and deserts, a variety of games for them to play, raffle prizes, and music.  Bob’s music is his passion and a special gift he likes to share with others. He is a professional DJ and singer, so he put on a 45 minute show for them as well.  Arching over the party, he stretched a tent that made the guests feel like they were at the circus.

What an amazing time everyone had!

All except one.

When I emailed Bob and asked how his new friend C. had liked the party, he replied, “ Sadly, she did not attend.  In fact, she told one of my friends that day that ‘He is a liar.  He did not decorate by himself!’ 

Bob continued, “I have now come to believe and accept that the few recent kind words are a rarity….I believe this is a mental challenge she is facing….Still, I don’t feel that my efforts were lost.  A gift from God?  Indeed.  He permitted me to break through and bring out the person she should/could be.  I will continue to pray and treat her with the respect she deserves.” 

I acknowledged Bob for the incredible effort and personal expense he kindly undertook to give his neighbors a fabulous evening. I am sure they will remember it forever.  And I was especially proud of him for his attitude toward C’s retreat back into her bitter little emotional shell.  Instead of getting angry at her, he recognized it as an opportunity for him to grow as a person and to be God’s instrument to show her what’s possible for her life, if she chooses.

So what’s the payoff for being kind and loving to everyone you come in contact with — including the few difficult ones who seem to rebuff your good intentions and even try to punish you for being kind?

I believe the payoff is that, as the Law of Attraction states, “energy attracts like energy.”  Therefore, if you keep on being positive, generous, kind and caring, you will inevitably attract more and more people and circumstances that reflect YOUR positive energy.  Being positive won’t insulate you from all negative people and situations, but it will help you grow into someone who is 100% sure of her own values and consciously embodies them everywhere, with everyone.  If our values and convictions are never tested, how can we know what we are truly committed to?

I am convinced that there are still more chapters to be written in Bob and C’s fascinating friendship saga.  She may act as though she doesn’t believe it, but deep down, she cannot deny that at least one person on this earth truly CARES about her, no matter what.

And that is why when you “write your name in kindness, love and mercy” it will forever bless you, the giver, along with the thousands of hearts who are the recipients.

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

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

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

June 17, 2018

“Sustained concentration is a learnable skill.  It’s not something you’re born with; it’s something you develop through daily practice.” – from Secrets of the World Class by Steve Siebold

In the last blog (What is Your Why Today – Blog 306), I gave you a few specific tips to help you maintain your focus and enthusiasm and willingness to take consistent daily actions toward a Big Goal that you know will take a fairly long time to reach.

Besides being crystal clear on your WHY, I believe you also need to give yourself a consistent short-term emotional reward at the end of “just another Wednesday” that was full of To-Dos, errands, and activities. At the end of the day, when you have carried through on your promised action steps toward fulfilling your long-term Big Goal, you crave a feeling of inner satisfaction and fulfillment, whether or not your efforts produced any apparent outer results.

Without a satisfying feeling of accomplishment, you won’t be so enthusiastic about getting up and pursuing your Big Goal again tomorrow, even if you have an empowering long-term WHY.  We all need regular “Atta Girl/Guy” emotional pats on the back to keep us motivated, especially if it takes a while to see a tangible payoff from our faithful efforts.

Here’s a little daily emotional reward my BFF Lisa and I cooked up spontaneously during our recent morning texting routine. We often reach out early in the day to make each other laugh, encourage each other and remind each other to “carpe diem” (which means seize the day, in case Latin isn’t your first language) and not waste precious time because, well, we don’t know in advance which day is going to turn out to be our last one on this planet, now do we?

I shared with her my vow that from now on, before my head hits the pillow each night, I am going to ask myself “What was my L.A.C.E. today?” That’s an acronym for:

L.EARN – What was one new thing I learned today? In order to learn something NEW each day, we all have to remember to LISTEN more than we TALK, and that’s a good thing. Today, I learned from my accountant how to pay our corporate Payroll Tax using Quickbooks!  It was the very first tax payment for Rick’s and my fledgling “R & C Schwartz Inc.” corporation — and that’s kind of exciting!

A.CCOMPLISH – Did I courageously tackle the important things on my To-Do list first today? Or, did I just check off the easy little “busy work” stuff that won’t move me any closer to my Big Goals? If I tackled the hard stuff, the stuff that matters, I give myself a big old “Atta Girl,” because I know those things WILL pay off, if I just keep at it.  Today, I spent several hours writing two blogs so I can have more time on the weekends to play and to prepare my Prosperity Summer Camp course lessons.

C.ONTRIBUTE – What did I do to help someone or improve something today? My life is about more than just pursuing my own personal goals — it has a bigger purpose.  I believe we were all put here by our Creator to make the world better by using our own unique skills and talents.  A day lived without helping someone else is not a completely fulfilling day. Today, I helped my clients see some possible new ways of tweaking their daily method of operation that are going to help them be more successful.

E.NJOY – (Lisa added this one. She’s all about fun and laughter.) What made me laugh, feel happiness, glad to be alive today?  For me, it was my walk on the most perfect Southern California summer morning. I let myself drink it in and thanked God out loud for another day of life in Paradise.

If you make a habit of asking yourself at bedtime, “What was my L.A.C.E. today?” and honestly answering each of these four questions, I believe it will help you to stay motivated and on track to accomplish your long-term Big Goals. (Or do what we now do and get yourself a L.A.C.E. Accountability Buddy to share your answers with.)

This daily practice can also make you feel more present, more fulfilled and more satisfied with your life.  You won’t be living in the past or the future, as too many people do. Instead, you will be living in the NOW, focused on making the most of each Today, which will inevitably lead to more successful and prosperous Tomorrows!

PLEASE NOTE: The blog is taking next weekend off to celebrate my birthday weekend with my wonderful husband Rick at Disneyland on Friday and dinner with friends on Sunday. (And since it’s a milestone one, who knows what else might be in store for me?)  A Cup of Caroll will return to your inbox on Sunday, July 1.

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

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

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

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.