I hope you all read this BEFORE you put your shoes on today…

I have been thinking about this subject for a few days now.  I went to lunch the other day and had lunch with a very good client/friend of mine and this topic came up in conversation over a delicious meal.  After some of the things I heard I wanted to puke but never-the-less it was a great discussion and gave me a great idea for a blog post. So here we go…

What do you tell your children when they say they need expensive shoes so they can be “popular or cool” at school? If their shoes cost more than yours, isn’t something wrong? Children are afraid they won’t be “loved” by their peers if they wear cheap clothes. And parents are afraid they won’t be “loved” by their children if they don’t give in to their demands. I don’t mean to imply expensive shoes are inherently bad. Not at all. If your children have a part-time job and buy their own shoes, they learn valuable lessons. As an example, they will learn that hard work is rewarded and we can set goals and reach them. Not to mention, self-reliance.  Do you want your kid to live with you well into their 30’s?  I didn’t think so.

No, there’s nothing wrong with expensive shoes, but there is something wrong with the belief that one is entitled to receive them. Your kids are entitled to shoes, but not to choosing the brand, unless all brands cost the same. Parents may give in to their children’s demands because of guilt, especially if both parents work and they don’t spend as much time with their children as they would like to.  Come on parents, money and “popular or cool” things don’t make up for that. They may comply because they are afraid their children won’t like them if they refuse. Or they may consent to buy the shoes simply to end their children’s nagging. None of these are the right reasons for acting, and they all teach our children terrible lessons.

When we give in because of guilt or convenience, we teach our children how to manipulate us. Girls who pick up this skill grow up to manipulate young men into spending money on gifts. Such women develop shaky relationships that are bound to crumble and lead to unhappiness. Boys grow up into men that try to manipulate others in the workplace, a practice that can only lead to long-term problems.

When we give in, we also reinforce our children’s belief that they are entitled to privileges. They come to believe the world owes them a good living. Once they join a company, they expect to be paid merely for showing up. They fail to realize success is earned. They need to understand that we don’t succeed by putting in time, but by putting in the big “E”, EFFORT.

Unless we teach our children self-control, we encourage them to give in to their cravings. If they can’t control their desire for new shoes, how will they resist the powerful impulses of sexual desire? Is it really surprising the number of single moms continues to rise?

Instead of giving in to peer pressure, our children have the opportunity to develop courage, responsibility, and individualism. Rather than blindly following the whims of others, why not set the trends? Of course, some conforming to social pressure is both acceptable and desirable. For one has to learn how to conform to the laws of the land and the rules of the workplace, but one’s will must never be handed over blindly. Conformity must be preceded by careful thought. We should willingly and happily conform to whatever helps us and society. However, we should resist and peacefully try to change any rules, customs, or habits that would harm ourselves or others. Give your children the support and courage to be themselves. If someone makes fun of them, let them quote Bruce Lee, who said, “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

To resist peer pressure, kids need to have sufficient self-esteem. They have to recognize and appreciate their own value. But how can they do so if they are constantly criticized at home? The little praise they did receive is quickly replaced by expectations. For example, parents urge their children to excel at school, and when they do so, they are praised at first. However, as they continue to do well in school, the parents expect this behavior and stop praising them. Yet, no opportunity for criticism is missed. If children’s needs for recognition and belonging are not fulfilled at home, is it surprising that they look for it among their peers?

When we tell our children it is okay to buy expensive shoes to be popular at school, we are teaching them to be shallow. We are teaching them to judge people by what they wear or have instead of by what they are. Shallow young men search for a pretty face and an attractive figure. Shallow young women search for men with a good car and decent job. What happened to values like faithfulness, integrity, devotion, understanding, patience, encouragement, and unconditional love? When the foundation for marriage becomes a pretty face and a nice car, why are we surprised by the number of divorces?

For their own good and the good of others, don’t let your children play with fire. Teach them responsibility. Our job is to prepare our children for life by teaching them values. When we fail to prepare them, we are clipping their wings and hampering their future growth. They need to learn that we develop our potential by contributing to society, not by getting a free ride.

We did not decide to make the sky blue, grass green, or summers warm. But that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate them. True, your children didn’t choose their parents, their place of birth, or their circumstances. But that doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate them. Unless we learn how to be grateful for what we have, how will we appreciate what we will have in the future? We need to own less, not more. The more we own, the less we appreciate what we have. If we want our children to be happy, we need to help them understand this.

Don’t spoil your children as that will only harm them. But you can never spoil them by offering “too much” love, acceptance, appreciation, or encouragement. As long as they are loved, they can learn to live with (and value) limits. Don’t give them a wishbone, give them a backbone. Train them, but don’t break them. They need to learn self-reliance. Although it may occasionally feel that way, you are not raising a circus animal. Your role is not to be in control as much as it is to guide. How can your children grow if they don’t have the room to do so? They need space, the room to make their own decisions, the right to make mistakes (as long as they are not serious mistakes like getting pregnant or taking drugs).

Isn’t it odd how something as insignificant as the shoes we wear can have such an impact on our lives? Perhaps we need to look a little more closely at the decisions we make.

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Stop being such a little wimpy butt…

How many of you can identify a constant complainer in less than 5 seconds? Ready, Set, Go!  Did you identify somebody?  Is that person your significant other?  if so, keep that part to yourself for the sake of your day.  But seriously you know who I’m talking about, the person who complains about everything under the sun. “My boss yelled at me, my job sucks, I’m so tired I worked overtime today, the house is dirty, and did I mention my life sucks?” You get it right?

You can google 1001 different inspirational blogs that will tell you to appreciate what’s good in life and to not dwell on anything else.  They will all tell you that things get better, you will have a good day mixed in there really soon.  That is all probably true, but will it get you to stop complaining?  We are all guilty of having a day when we are grumpy, irritable, and need to vent some things off of our chest.  That is ok, it is healthy.  We all need to vent, but there is a massive difference between the occasional venter and the constant complainer.

So what am I getting at?  Here is the deal. Stop being a wimpy butt, also known as a sissy la-la.  Yup, i said it.  Fact, there are going to be days when your boss yells at you, or you just have a terrible day at work.  Maybe you don’t land that big sale, the customer goes to your competitor, who knows.  And once something goes wrong, it ALL goes wrong.  The snowball effect has hit you like a ton of bad luck.  If you did’t have bad luck you wouldn’t have any luck at all!  Poor thing.

I have been around the block, and I am sure anyone will agree with me, failure makes you better as long as you handle it in the correct way.  Here are a couple options:

#1  You can continue to mope around all that you want.  Continue to be a wimpy butt, sissy la-la and let your boss, co-worker or whomever get the best of you!  (Clue:  This is the WRONG CHOICE)  The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows!  See video below.  It is a must watch

-or-

#2 Learn from it.  Get tough!  Be stronger than you ever thought you could be.  Dry your eye, wipe those tears away, and take some initiative to ensure that you succeed the next time.  Do NOT focus on what went wrong, focus on what you are going to do to make it better.

Sit down and think about this…

Where has all of your complaining got you? Anywhere?  Put all of that time and energy into being proactive, the possibilities for you are endless.

As I tell all of my clients, “Challenge yourself to be GREAT!”  If you do not know how or need help on getting yourself focused on what you are going to do to make it better call us.  We have business and life coaches that are here to guide you down the right path.  Our goal is for you to be the best that you can be.

This video is 100% what I am talking about.  THIS IS A MUST WATCH.

Help, How can I be more assertive?

This question is brought to me time and time again.  New managers, young executives, new executives and newly married couples all struggle with being assertive.  The one fear is that they do not want to be the “A**hole”  Legit fear, right?  Here are ten ways to be more assertive without being “that person”:

1. Examine the problem.

You might have difficulty asserting yourself in all relationships, or it might be with one person in particular. Maybe you can speak your mind with women, but you can’t with men — or vice versa. Maybe it’s just with your spouse or partner.

Define the people and/or situations in which you have the most difficulty speaking up for yourself or asking for what you want or need. Think about specific situations where you’ve wanted to say something, ask for something, or disagree — but you kept your mouth shut. Write down these situations so you have a reference point.  Do this before you start kicking yourself for keeping your mouth shut, it is easier to write things down before you are frustrated.

2. Define the meaning of assertive.  (This is key if you feel that you will be the A-hole!)

According the Merriam-Webster, assertive means, “disposed to or characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior.” Compare that definition to the definition of aggression: “a forceful action or procedure (as an unprovoked attack) especially when intended to dominate or master.” As you can see, being assertive is far different from being aggressive.

I like this definition of assertiveness that I found online on the UCSD website:

Assertiveness is the ability to honestly express your opinions, feelings, attitudes, and rights, without undue anxiety, in a way that doesn’t infringe on the rights of others.”

You have opinions, feelings, attitudes, and rights, and it is perfectly normal and acceptable to express those — even if the other person reacts negatively. Remind yourself that assertiveness is not only an acceptable behavior, it’s a desirable one.

3. Acknowledge your feelings.

Even when you understand that assertiveness is acceptable, it might not feel acceptable to you. What are the emotions you have around speaking up for yourself or asking for what you want?

What do you fear? What do you doubt about yourself? What is the worst thing you think might happen if you speak up? Dig deep and try to get to the root cause of your lack of confidence and fears.  What might happen if you don’t speak up?

Understanding and acknowledging these feelings helps you see there’s nothing wrong with you. You don’t need to think of yourself as a weak person, you are simply reacting based on your life experiences and your past habits.

4. Examine the truth.

Most of the time, the powerful feelings we have around being assertive have little basis in reality. When you shine the spotlight on these feelings, you can diminish them and remove some of the mental roadblocks keeping you from speaking up. For example, you might fear speaking up because you could get rejected. But is this 100% true? How likely is it that you’d be rejected? If you are rejected, could you survive it?

Maybe you don’t speak up because you don’t like the discomfort of confrontation. But can you tolerate this discomfort for a short time? Will the discomfort kill you? Is the short-term discomfort better or worse than the long-term pain of holding back?  Rejection is hard, nobody likes it but it is part of life…Look at the long term pain of not knowing.

If low self-esteem is the reason you aren’t assertive, you must ask yourself intellectually if you know you’re deserving of what you want and need. You do know you’re as deserving as anyone else, but you don’t feel as deserving. Taking small assertive and confident actions will help you feel better about yourself and your worthiness.

5. Define what you want.

Determine a situation in which you’d like to speak up, set boundaries, or ask for what you want. Don’t be ambiguous with it. Be able to state in one clear sentence what you want to communicate. Here are some examples:

I want you to stop looking at your phone when I’m talking to you.

I want us to take turns deciding on the restaurant.

I want to apply for the position of manager.

I don’t want you to speak to me with that attitude any longer.

I disagree with your position on that. Here’s what I think.

Please don’t interrupt me while I’m speaking.

It is time to discuss a promotion for me, and here’s why.

When you create this statement, don’t use weak or cryptic language like, “I’d really appreciate it if you’d think about a time to talk about my raise if that’s OK with you.” Create a firm, strong, confident statement. Then practice making the statement in front of the mirror to make sure your expression and body language match the confidence of your statement.  Find a personal development coach to practice these situations with.  It is our job to give you the confidence that you need.  We will practice with you, give you feedback and raise your confidence level to a place it has never been before.

6. Know what to expect.

If all you had to do was make the statement, and you’d get a positive response immediately, then being assertive wouldn’t be so intimidating. But you’ve learned from past experience that it’s not so easy. People can get mad, argue with you, put you down, or reject you. It can be distressing and painful to have these encounters, that is just human nature, don’t let it eat you up.

As much as you dislike negative encounters and feelings, you must decide if it’s worth giving up your self-respect in order to avoid them. And it’s often not only your self-respect at stake. It could be a new job or a pay raise. It might be the intimacy and trust in your marriage. It could be any number of positive benefits you could enjoy if you permit temporary discomfort.

The reactions you receive will depend greatly on the other person or people involved. You may need to manage the timing of your statement or request based on the temperament of the person.  The more you can prepare the better off you will be.  Do not walk to your boss 5 minutes before a meeting that takes place at the same time everyday.  Know your situation, know the surroundings, know his/her mood. Consider in advance how they might respond, and be prepared with a follow-up statement to support your reasoning. This is especially true if you are being assertive on the job, as you need to back up your actions or statements with proof or evidence.

If the other person reacts defensively or with anger, don’t engage in a battle. Simply state, “I’m sorry you don’t like my request, but this is the way it must be. Let’s discuss it further when you are calm.” Then walk away. You will be surprised at how many times that person will come back to you very quickly to discuss your situation.  By holding your ground you put them in a vulnerable position, you now have a step up on the situation.  If it’s a situation that needs immediate action, like deciding on a restaurant, stand your ground and let the other person determine if they will or won’t respect your request.  Keep in mind, you need to be ready for the response.

7. Initiate dialog.

You have some relationships in which the other person deserves being informed about your new, more assertive frame of mind. If you’ve spent years holding back on your ideas or opinions, then your sudden new behaviors or statements can be disconcerting.

Initiate a conversation with your spouse, partner, friend, or even your boss, in which you kindly but firmly acknowledge your past mindset and share your decision to be more assertive in the future. Mention how this not only makes you a happier, more confident person, but also how it will positively impact them.

You could say something like, “I know in the past I’ve allowed you to make most of the decisions (or I haven’t been very proactive at work or I’ve kept my opinion to myself), but I’m learning a new way to be a better, more confident person. You’ll begin noticing more assertiveness from me, and I hope you’ll support and encourage my efforts to speak up for myself and share my opinions.”

You may be surprised to find how much support and respect this conversation fosters. When you let others know how you want to be treated, they will generally rise to the occasion. Proactive communication and dialog is essential in any relationship.  Knowing how to be assertive is a key component to leading an organization or leading a team of employees.

8. Pick your battles.

Even as you work toward becoming more assertive, use good judgement and discretion. If your friend is feeling sad, don’t demand to see the movie where the dog gets shot and dies. If your spouse is in the midst of a big project, now is not the time to ask for an intimate conversation. There may be times when you choose not to assert yourself because the situation isn’t right, or maybe it simply isn’t all that important to you this particular time.

You don’t have to be assertive 100% of the time. As you practice saying what you mean and asking for what you want, you’ll gain more clarity around your core values and personal boundaries. All relationships involve a certain amount of give and take, as well as the ability to be discerning about timing, mood and setting.

9. Practice in manageable situations.

You can practice assertiveness in daily scenarios that aren’t overly uncomfortable. If someone in your office makes a political statement you disagree with, rather than keeping quiet, say something like, “That’s an interesting position, but here’s why I disagree with it.” If you have an idea in a meeting, speak up and share it. When a friend asks what restaurant you want to go to, rather than saying, “I don’t care, you pick,” instead say, “Let’s try that sushi place.”

The more you practice assertiveness, the easier it will become. When the time comes to use it in more difficult or confrontational situations, you’ll have some experience in speaking up.

If you need to practice and you don’t know who to practice with, call us.  We will meet with you and run through situations and give you feedback.  That is why we are here.

10. Keep a journal.  No not one with a cartoon character on it, it can be a notebook.

It’s hard to know whether or not you’re progressing with a new behavior unless you measure and document your efforts. As you begin the practice of being more assertive, keep a journal in which you document your efforts, your emotions around your efforts, and the responses of other people.

Give yourself a score from one to ten after every assertiveness encounter, with ten being completely uncomfortable and one being totally confident. As time goes on, you’ll notice your score getting lower and lower as you grow more confident in your abilities.

You don’t have to be an extravert to be assertive. You just need enough confidence in who you are and what you want in order to speak up in spite of fear or discomfort.

Healthy-minded, emotionally mature people respect those who are willing to step out of their comfort zone and calmly ask to be heard. When you find your own assertive voice, you’ll find the world opens up for you in ways you’d never anticipated.

How have you found your voice and practiced healthy assertiveness in your personal or professional life? Please share your experiences in the comments below.  The more you can share your experiences the more other people can learn from it.

If you are stuck, call us.  We are here to guide you down the right path and give you the tools you need to succeed.  Our coaches will meet with you one on one and coach you and assist you in reaching your goal(s).  We want you to succeed, we know you can, and we know you will.

Call us today at (714) 872-2393 or click here to EMAIL US