How to Own Your Ask

Have you ever asked for something and heard nothing back?  Are you getting tired of asking and hearing nothing but crickets?  It may be because you are not really asking for what you need. On balance, people like to help one another. Helping someone else actually boosts your own happiness. So, if all this helping is good for us, why do we sometimes not receive what we are asking for?

When you are asking and not receiving a response, take a look at the question you asked.  Are you calling out an action?  Are you giving a deadline?  Is your voice authentic?

If you are unsure about any of these, you are probably not asking specifically for what you need.  This is especially true when we are not feeling confident.  I catch people all the time asking in a vague voice something like, “if you have time to help me, please let me know.”  Other versions of this question look like, “could you please look at this document and give me some feedback? AND “Perhaps I can meet your co-worker one day?” AND the ubiquitous “I would love to meet you for coffee…”

It might seem obvious that these questions go unanswered as they lack either a specific ask or a specific timeframe or both. However, I know that I have asked one of these questions and perhaps you have as well – we are all guilty of not asking for what we need.  In the service of saving everyone’s precious time, I am advocating for you to ask yourself the following questions before you ask anyone for anything.

  1. What are you actually asking for?  (be as clear and concise as possible.)
  2. When do you need it completed? 
  3. Is that time realistic?

Here’s the same coffee question written with specifics and authenticity:

“I’d like to meet for coffee sometime in the next two weeks to pick your brain about this project. Please let me know when you have 30 mins”

Next you need to ensure that the context you are proposing is aligned with your ask. For instance, if you would like to network with someone, coffee would be an appropriate context. However, if you would like an introduction or referral then meeting for coffee is a waste of time.  Here is a quick reference guide to help you determine the context for your ask:

  • I need a Referral= resource=email or LinkedIn
  • I need an Introduction= access=email or LinkedIn
  • I need a Favor= time
  • Directions= information=text
  • Networking or information= exchange of information=Coffee or buy the person lunch
  • Ideas=brainstorming=meeting room
  • Support=listening=face to face
  • Editing=expertise=google docs for review

For every two parts happiness add one part meaning

If you want to find more fulfillment in your work follow this equation
 
Passion projects aside, the search for fulfilling work does not need to center around your personal happiness. It is important to feel good while in your work environment and for your work to be in alignment with your values, but happiness as a goal for work may be leaving you a bit shortchanged. Here’s why, happiness is found in the present whereas meaning transcends time to include past/present/future.

Meaningfulness is something we invest energy in without expecting a return.

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Bringing your retreat home

WHY DO WE RETREAT?  

We retreat to get away from it all and collect our energy that is otherwise spread out in multiple directions for inner growth. All the stress, noise, responsibilities and distractions of everyday life melt away and we are able to get back in touch with who we are and what is important to us. We use the fresh perspective that a new environment provides to reconnect with ourselves and find our flow. Sometimes we learn something new or understand a situation that has been troubling us. Sometimes we meet someone who inspires us. Most often we are simply reset and reinvigorated and return home hoping to keep this fresh perspective alive.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE RETURN HOME?

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Cultivating Executive Presence: What it is, Why you need it and 5 steps to get it!

I have a purposeful walk. I have heard this statement many times in my life and sometimes I reflect on how my walk is perceived as purposeful. My head is held high, my gait is quick and I am often not taking in all of my surroundings. I have somewhere to go and I am focused on getting there. People perceive that I am in alignment with my purpose to get there.

But what if my response to the statement was, “Really? I don’t have anywhere to be. I was just walking.” 

The observer who made the comment about my purposeful walk may feel uneasy.  My cavalier response may cause them to question my authenticity. Social science has taught us that when we meet someone, we almost instantaneously begin to create stories about them. We are experts at reading faces and stereotyping based on appearance. But we don’t often discuss that we are also perceiving how aligned someone is with their authentic self. If we meet someone dressed in a formal wear we assign them a certain amount of power and influence. Inside this person may be feeling insecure, tired, or otherwise off, but if they maintain eye contact and have a firm handshake, we buy into their power.

This is the foundation of executive presence.

When we are aligned with the image we project, we have presence that is experienced by another human being. I’m not sure how many of you watched Mad Men in it’s heyday..if you did, you know that Don Draper sets the gold standard for executive presence. He embodies power and influence even if he was not feeling it inside.

Now that we know what executive presence is, how do we cultivate it? 

5 tips to cultivate Executive Presence:

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Accessing Passion is Tricky Business

Passion has been a buzzword in the field of coaching for a long time, yet very rarely does a client show up at my door brimming with passion, ready to put it into action. A direct question about passion is often met with a blank stare from my clients who struggle to find something, anything that lights them up.

Most of us feel overwhelmed when asked about our passion. We may also feel stuck, trapped or anxious. Our creative brain can literally freeze and shut down due to the complexity of the passion question. It just feels too big to answer. Moreover, most people think there is something wrong with them if they do not know what they are passionate about or what their purpose is.

So how do we turn our creative brain back on and find some possibilities for a passion-filled life? Here are four ways to start:

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Are you a Multipotentialite?

This morning I was having a conversation with my daughter about college classes as some of her older cousins are going off to college in the Fall. She was wondering how many different classes you could take each semester and suggested that you could take classes in your major and your minor. I suggested the idea of taking a class just because you may be interested in the subject and she informed me that this was not allowed…she is eleven.

How does my daughter at age eleven already feel that you have to choose a course of study in college and follow that course into the world of work?

Cultural norms support the idea that we have one purpose; that we are meant to do one important thing here on this earth over and over again until we achieve mastery. This general cultural bias towards specialization leaves out the opportunity for one to experience a broad range of possibilities.

In some of us, it creates anxiety over the consequences of choosing the wrong major, or taking the wrong job, or wanting to switch career paths in midlife. What if you want to study many subjects or have many careers or would like to pursue many interests? 

What if you’re an e-Ticket kind of person who just wants to do it all!! 

Well, you may be a Multipotentialite: A person with many interests and creative pursuits. And for you, there are likely many paths.

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Unstuck

I know I’m stuck when I have no answer for the simple question, what’s going on?  My honest answer would be, not much and everything at the same time…I am exhausted and not getting anything done!  But to be more PC, I give a standard answer about the usual life stuff: work, kid, travel, house, etc.

Does this sound familiar?

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Have You Met the New You? Updating Your Operating System for the New Year

A new operating system comes out and we rush to update our devices, but what about ourselves?  Are we integrating the newest version of us? This holiday season with all of the rushing around, try to take some time out to update yourself before jumping into a New Year.

Now, you may be one who waits to install the update until you see how it works for others or until the bugs are all worked out. Or maybe you feel you have always been doing something the same way and it is working out for you, like that old chocolate chip cookie recipe that makes everyone happy.  If this is sincerely the case, then keep on doing it the same way! But if you want to do something different or want a different result, you have to update your data to the new you. You have new life experience, new information, new preferences and even new values.  You may wish to work with new people or in a new environment.

Don’t bring the old you to a new situation. Update your operating system before the New Year!

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Reframing Can Set You Free

Are you facing a seemingly unsolvable problem?  Are you stuck, spinning, not knowing what action to take?

You may need a Reframe. 

Do you have a problem? If you have been losing sleep over the same problem for a long time, you may be trying to solve the wrong problem. Try this simple exercise to reframe your problem into something you can solve.

A good way to know if you are working on the wrong problem is to ask yourself, “what would your life look like if you solved the problem?”

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Transitions are Supposed to be Uncomfortable

Transitions are challenging for most of us and the truth is that they should be. A transition is like a chemistry experiment where you are moving from one state to another and along the way there is turbulence. A transition creates an internal state of chaos so that you can reorganize the patterns in your life and get rid of what is no longer working.

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