Be Ready, Trick or Treat!

Each Halloween kids or all ages enjoy knocking on doors and surprising us with their costumes and request for candy and treats. Its fun and we know that the spooky character on the other side of the door has just a smile and a shout of Trick or Treat?!!

But, what about the times when we don’t know if we will find a Trick or a Treat? Fear of the unknown is one of the most common fears we face.  It is natural to feel a bit of fear when we face a change, plan to launch a new idea, or take a leap of faith into a new endeavor.

It seems the most common little fear comes in the form of worry. I personally believe a little worry is a good thing. And yet, when worry stops progress, it is time to tame the fear. Don’t let the Monster of Worry get big and scary behind a door of Unknown.

Define the Unknown.

Play the “What if?” game.  Go ahead and bring forward your worst case scenario.  Begin to name and acknowledge the reality of the circumstances. Next, let yourself play the “What if?” game with your best case scenario. Reconnect to the energy of your vision and desire for positive change. As you look at each case identify Fact, Fiction and Open Questions to be explored.  With new information you have the choice and opportunity to create a back- up plan and/or improve on your current plan. 

Define your Strength and find your Courage.  

Reconnect with your values, your strengths and your passions. Think about the times you have successfully taken on the unknown and accomplished your goals. What personal attributes and skills did you use? Remember what it feels like to play from the essence of who you are. Find the courage to come forward with confidence as your authentic self, ready to take on the plans ahead.

When we are not using our time on worry we may engage that time and energy into new forward thinking action. Tame the Worry Monster, turn that fear back into opportunity.

Open the Door, Ask the Questions, Discover the Answers and Be Ready, Trick or Treat!

Coach Barb

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Action and ReAction

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” – Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion*

Newton’s Third Law of Motion was an important part of my early education, and for a few hours every week it was the focusing thought that kept me safe and controlled my performance. You see I was a Springboard Diver and my success depended on how effectively I utilized this Law; understanding and controlling the physical actions and reactions that created just the right amount of lift and spin. In those hours of practice I also learned a bit about how my confidence, or my fear. would impact my performance. Confident action would create a consistent and smooth return of energy. Fearful action would create hesitation and so a returning energy that was diminished and unreliable. I keep this picture of me (at age 16) on my Smartphone as a reminder of those early lessons.    

You may be wondering where I am going with this thought. Well Newton’s Third Law of Motion was the analogy that entered my head the other day as I was preparing for an association meeting/networking event. You see, although I am fairly outgoing and confident, I get a little nervous when it comes to “networking”. So, before any networking; call, coffee meeting, industry conference or association event, I remind myself of Newton’s Third Law; “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Or simply “What you give is what you get”.

I believe preparation and practice always contributes to confidence. So to create good energy for and from a networking meeting:

  • Get Current – Do some reading and research before your meeting.
  • Know who you are in the setting and practice your introduction.
  • Know what you can offer and be ready and willing to share.
  • Get curious – Think about the questions you have and who can help you find answers.
  • Bring and keep a positive and inquiring attitude to have that returned to you.  

One of my colleagues, Ali Chambers (Coach and ClearRock VP), once shared with me a simple word play to help me relax and breathe when networking in a career transition setting. She said networking is not about asking for a job, think of networking as getting A.I.R.; Advice, Information, or a Referral.  I continue to keep Ali’s advice in mind and have expanded her thinking as I look for that effective Action/Reaction when I am meeting people. My play on A.I.R.:

  • Advice / Awareness -What advice are you seeking (Action) to create awareness (Reaction)?
  • Information / Insight -What information may you obtain (Action) to gain insight (Reaction)?
  • Relationship/ Referral -How might you create and maintain a strong and long term relationship (Action) to expand the value of the relationship and grow your network (Reaction)?

Is there an image and saying you have that anchors you to success? If so, capture it and use it as a jumping off point. And remember, with preparation, practice and a little bit of A.I.R. you can soar high with grace and confidence.

*Sir Isaac Newton – English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian, who has been considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived.

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“Practice Makes Perfect” Does it?

Yes, that is Perfect!

How often have we hoped to hear those words?  

Providing that perfect solution, that perfect response, that perfect performance is something many of us strive for. We want to make someone happy, we want to be picked, we aim for the perfect performance, and we want to have it be just right.   

But what is right? And, right for whom? Is there ever really a perfect match?   

Many times when we look to be “perfect” it is based on an external measure. What would happen if we began our pursuit of “perfect” with an internal measure, with an understanding our “perfect”.

One of my favorite takes on being perfect was shared at a conference by coach/consultant Sharon Hoyle Weber. She said “The most perfect version of me is innately not me, not authentic.” And “Your perfect self cannot hold a candle to your true self.”

So, what about that old saying “Practice makes Perfect”?

I think there is a huge difference between chasing after perfect and practicing for perfect performance. When we chase after perfect, we’re coming from a perspective of lack – we don’t have the thing that we want. But when we practice for a perfect performance, we’re active participants in preparing for success. So, how can we practice for authentic successful performance?

“Think of authenticity as your foundation.” Jack Welch

Know yourself; your history, your today and your desired future. Review how your accomplishments, values, strengths and weaknesses factor into the choices that are present. Create a game plan, make a play book and practice from that play book.  

Practice is a discipline that is valuable to any situation where we want to be confident and true to ourselves. For example, think about responding to an interview question. Have you ever answered a question just as you wanted to in head and then heard something completely different when you said it out loud? Practice is not about being able to perfectly recite a scripted response. Practice is how we know ourselves well enough to respond clearly, concisely and with a message that reflects our approach and the talents we bring to the task at hand.

With practice we learn our current strengths and our weaknesses. With practice we learn to manage our current skill level to our current set of circumstances; opportunity or obstacle. With practice we learn how to create value. With practice we learn to play to our strengths.

Practice connects us to our most authentic self and brings our true self to our performance. That sounds just about perfect to me.

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Perseverance – A Performance Factor

July is a great month for us sports fans, especially this year. Baseball is in full swing, the Open Championship and the Senior Open Championship in golf are played and of course the Summer Olympics are in London. I am a true fan of Championship Sport; watching a competition that in a moment brings together preparation and performance in a powerful way.  

At the beginning of the month I tuned in to watch the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. This is one of my favorite events on the Champions Tour schedule. 81 junior golfers from various First Tee programs are paired with a Champions Tour player. In addition to seeing great golf from both the juniors and Pros, I enjoyed the on course interviews. Junior golfers shared which of the First Tee Core Value stood out as really impacting their game. This year a number of the golfers spoke about the value of Perseverance. I found this interesting and as I watched other sporting events this past month I found myself giving perseverance more thought.

Perseverance noun – steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. Synonyms – doggedness, steadfastness, persistence, tenacity. Perseverance is regularly used in a favorable sense. “Endurance and perseverance combined to win in the end”.

How does perseverance play a factor in creating champions and leaders?

The Pro that won the 2012 Nature Valley First Tee Open was Kirk Triplett. This was his first win on the Champions Tour. Triplett had a good PGA Tour career but his last win on the PGA Tour was in 2006. He spent 2011 on the Nationwide, now tour, winning once and becoming the oldest winner on that tour before joining the Champions Tour this year. Is this a story of Endurance and Perseverance?!

Look at the career of the 2012 Open Championship; golfer Ernie Els. Ernie Els began playing golf at age 9, seriously at age 14 and began his professional career in 1989. He has had tremendous success and then in 2011 had no wins and 5 missed cuts. In 2012 he had 2 missed cuts before his Open win. In his post Championship interview he spoke about playing a consistent steady game and believing in himself enough to trust the changes he was making. He also referenced and thanked Nelson Mandela as his inspiration. I think Ernie Els understands the value of perseverance. 

I could probably come up with 100 more examples in golf or other sporting events to make a point. But this is not a sports blog and so let me bring this back in. At the time the junior golfers were interviewed, Triplett and Els had not yet had their 2012 wins. Curious, I looked to see what was having these emerging champions focus on the value of perseverance.  I may have found the answer on the PGA Tour website. Check out this video of Jake Olsen, a blind golfer, speaking on the value of perseverance.

Overcoming Challenges while sinking putts

We can find inspiration all around us. I find it in the stories of sport, others in music or literature. Sometimes inspiration comes watching and supporting a colleague or friend as they stay the course, persevering during a challenging time in their life.

How might perseverance support the pursuit your goals in life?

My take away thoughts on perseverance are these;

  • As you work towards your goals take both a short and long term view of your accomplishments. It may be “one shot at a time” and yet it is many rounds that let you know if you are on par.
  • When given an obstacle use it as an opportunity to be creative, use a new skill and enhance your current capabilities.
  • Be persistent and at the same time willing to make adjustment along the way.
  • When discouraged find inspiration in the stories and support of others.
  • Keep Playing!!! Bring your passion and your talent forward and play your own best game.
Posted in Core Values, Performance, Perseverance, Play, self-care, Time Management, Uncategorized, Work Life Balance | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Common Ground

“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field. I will meet you there.” Sufi Poe

Today I saw a blog post that caused a bit of a sting and I realized I still have some ego energy. That’s OK. I also have my integrity and I have the relationship. Let me tell you my story. I bet you have had a similar situation.

I had raised an observation to a business colleague several months ago and their response was not what I expected. Fearing that I might “ruffle feathers” and thinking “oh, it is no big deal” I let it go. Then the unresolved situation came up again and all my same feelings of frustration and doubt came rushing back. I knew I needed to face my fear of a longer conversation.

What do you do when you are faced with a difference of opinion? How do you handle the challenge that comes when what you know to be “true” is different from what someone else knows to be” true”? We face this challenge everyday in some form or another. When difference exist between two friends, in our family, or between close professional colleagues it can be scary. Some of us will be silent. Some of us will argue. Some of us will look to find compromise.

In my case I knew my energy had shifted; silence was no longer an option and arguing is not my style. So it seemed my approach was going to be one of compromise. But, I found myself asking; compromise on what?

I asked for some coaching and then I played with new ideas on how to approach the conversation. It was my training in energy leadership that encouraged and allowed me to find another approach. We do not need to let victim energy keep us silent. We do not need to bring conflict to the conversation. We may even move beyond accepting that we must compromise. How? I decided it was about finding our common interest.

Consider these definitions as you think about a challenging conversation you face.

Compromise – a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., The conflicting parties agreed to compromise.

Common – belonging equally to, or shared alike by, two or more or all in question: common property; common interest, common knowledge.  

 Interest – concern; importance: a matter of primary interest.  Or the like in which a person has a share, concern, responsibility, etc.

 It is not to say that silence, a good argument and compromise are bad strategies. In fact I believe there are times when these may be well spent energy. But, when I considered the desired outcome of staying in relationship, finding common interest or common ground seemed liked an approach worth trying.

Understanding our common interest or our common ground is not easy. It starts with giving time to understand fully all the points of view. In addition to being willing and able to articulate our point of view clearly and fully, we will be asked to be ready to fully listen to other points view. Then beyond understanding what is “true” for each party, it is allowing for more than one “true” to exist. It is looking for the common “Truth”. This is where together in relationship we take the next steps forward.

I had the conversation. My colleague and I found understanding, a place of common interest and we were able to discuss how we would move forward. Is it perfect? No. My ego would still like a “Win”. However, I believe the way we bring completions does impact our energy, our relationships and how we will open the next opportunity. Finding common ground allows for a good foundation.

If a challenging conversation, a strained relationship or an active ego is keeping you from playing your best game I am ready to listen. Together let’s get you back to joyfully playing as your most authentic self.

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Milestone 50 – Fear? Freedom? Find Fabulous

Milestone: a significant event or stage in life, progress, or development.

When you were 20 something did a time came when a passion was found or a vision was formed? Or was it that the reality of responsibility loomed and you began to make it happen. In your 30’s you may have been described as “driven”, in your 40’s you were “confident”. As you enter your 50’s, will the descriptor playfully become “fabulous”?   

When it comes to moving from one decade to another it is common to actively consider change. In the last few months friends, clients and colleagues have shared with me their thoughts on the “milestone” birthday that is 50. What made these conversations so interesting was observing how each person felt and approached this time of transition. For many the milestone created a surge of energy that sparked new interest and actively engaged an authentic, goal driven approach to what is next. For others, the energy struck them like a bolt, taking their breath away or it pulled like a magnet holding them in place.  It seems 50 can bring freedom and fear.

Where do you see yourself on this energy spectrum?

Are you buying into the story that at a certain age you are past our prime? Are you looking forward to the period on the end of a sentence and then realizing you are not sure how the next sentence will begin? Or are you actively planning what you will bring to your 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond?   

Think about your achievements and the challenges you have faced. When have you been at your best? Is it when a specific opportunity exists? When your path is full of obstacles? When you are supporting others?  You have worked hard, come prepared, met your goals, achieved success, stepped in and stepped up. You have learned that success does not come just in pretty packages, perfect relationships and performance driven projects. Your success has been found on both sides of win and lose, in sickness and in health, in lessons learned, and in the bonds that are forged when the good friends do not go away with the good times. You have experienced a life full of joys and sorrows. 

So, why can the energy and emotions at the age of 50 feel different? What are you really excited about? And what are you afraid of?

Your leadership has brought success. Your support and assistance is acknowledged and appreciated. The ones you care for have found their wings to fly, or the peace to pass. Is the challenge that returning to “your life” is not always easy? You may just want to take a deep breath, rest and yes celebrate. Do It! However, the question will come; Now What? When the house is quiet or the career horizon is just a few years ahead, are you ready to deal with the change.

The answer can be Yes!

And yet it is a Yes that will be found among a few No’s. And that is the beauty of it. You know how to move forward be it yes, or no. Be willing to examine your current life.  What have you achieved? What remains unexplored? Where have you found a deep sense of accomplishment? What has brought you Joy? What challenges will arise and how have you prepared for them? How do you want to share all that you have learned? What new events will create the milestones in your life?

There is no right or wrong to be found in these questions.  There is an opportunity for reflection, acknowledgement and through awareness an opportunity for action.  Just has it did in your 20’s time will keep moving forward. Rather than let responsibility loom, how about reconnecting to or finding your passion, creating a vision and making a plan?  This is the time to raise the bar. This is the time to choose the things and the people you love. It is in these moments of choice that you will find your flow, welcome the pressure and find you glide.  You have always been ready to Play the Game! Now is no different.  Playfully engage you’re most authentic self for Joyful Living and you will be Fabulous.

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Interesting Study from Next Generation Advisory Services LLC


Next Generation Advisory Services LLC was formed by Tammy Erickson Associates and Discussion Partner Collaborative to assist corporations and executives approaching retirement achieve the most rewarding results during this challenging period.

Next Generation Advisory Services provides Transition Advisory Coaching to key executives and valued individual contributors approaching retirement. This service creates a pre and post retirement strategy to ease executive anxiety and maximize their performance. The benefits to the corporation are a realistic succession plan that avoids surprises, an engaged high performing executive and the opportunity to capture institutional memory and experience.

The creation of Next Generation Advisory Services was driven by Tammy Erickson Associates ground breaking research on the multi-generational workforce. This research clearly highlighted the looming crisis of the mass exit of the Boomer generation from the workforce. To deepen the understanding of this crisis Discussion Partner Collaborative, the parent company of Next Generation Advisory Services, conducted research with over 2,000 executives on the topic of retirement preparation and unearthed compelling findings:

  •  Over 90% of executives want to phase down to retirement
  • Over 80% are keeping their retirement plans to themselves as their companies do not have a phase down process in place
  • Over 70% of executives have no retirement plan beyond financial!
  • Over 85% of executives without a retirement strategy predict  that they will become distracted and disengaged the closer they get to retirement

These findings clearly reveal a wide gap between the executive’s readiness to retire and the corporation’s mandate to accommodate that retirement in an orderly and positive manner.

 As we emerge from the global recession, Boomer executives will resume their focus on retirement planning. Without a vehicle to explore executive retirement options the integrity of succession plans and development strategies, and the reputation of progressive employers are called into question. It is mandatory for the HR to assist executives to explore their retirement options in a thoughtful and open manner and align them with the needs of the corporation.

 The Transition Advisory model is a 4 month intervention focused on creating a pre and post retirement strategy for executives and valued individual contributors which would be updated on an annual basis before retirement. An added value of this service is the lessons learned during deliberations will enable the HR to both modify its portfolio of service offerings and create enhanced accuracy around the succession plan.

Next Generation Advisory Services ( is headquartered in Boston, but will have executive coaches and representatives across the United States. For further information please contact Tobey Choate or Tom Casey at NGAS 17 Arlington Street, Boston MA 02116 617-395-1642 x 701

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