“Peace does not mean to be in a place where thee is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the kids of those things and still be calm in your heart” -author unknown
by Orit Ramler Szulik, published at MyJewisCoach.com
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” -Hellen Keller
“I’m overwhelmed” – my client, who works in a high-profile leadership position said, almost breaking down. “It feels that I’m doing everything by myself. My support staff is either new, they all have an attitude, or I simply can’t trust them to do things the way I need. The systems in place are not working. I can’t even see anymore where I’m going and when I do I feel I will never get there because I get distracted by other things that I need to take care of!”.
I’m almost sure that by now you’ve heard about U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, 64, who became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage. She swam for 53 hours without a break, more than 100 miles in the open ocean! At first I thought the news was about a crazy lady, and I didn’t pay much attention to this huge accomplishment. For some reason, when my client said “I don’t see where I’m going”, I mentioned Diana Nyad to her, and I realized that I do actually admire her, not only because of her endurance and perseverance to go after what she wanted – at 64 years old!, but also because among the many important decisions she had to make, she knew that her goal couldn’t be achieved by herself. When Diana waded ashore she said “… it looks like a solo sport, but it is a team”, her victory was a true team effort.
After each try, over the past 35 years, Diana consulted with experts on how to do better the next time so she can remain focused on her goal, and that’s how she started building her team. The support team accompanying her included coaches, physicians, technical personnel, a boat crew, accompanying kayakers, and equipment that generated a faint electrical field around her to keep sharks away. There were also divers standing by to deal with sharks in case they came close, and researchers who developed a topical anti-jellyfish cream especially formulated for the long hours she would spend in the water. A boat also dragged a line in the ocean to help keep her on course. A pulmonologist was part of her team to help her with asthma she had developed on a previous attempt. There were also observers recording everything, handlers who put food in her mouth and wrapped her ankles with tape at night, kayakers handled her water bottles, divers adjusted the hood on her protective jelly fish suit, and a navigator and operations chief among others. This team of professionals made sure she was focused on her goal and nothing interfered with her mission, they kept the waters clear of sharks, jellyfish, distractions, and currents, all for her. Thanks to her team, Diana Nyad always knew where she was going, and she remained focused on getting there.
Bottom line, you can jump into the unexpected and giant ocean alone, with the intention to get ashore safely, but the chances are you will be hurt, exhausted, lost and even might drown in the process. You heard this many times and you know it, great achievements demand more than what one person can deliver. With no exceptions!
Think of the talent you need to bring together in order to achieve success. We all face some sort of currents, storms, jelly fish and sharks. No more excuses: yes, the reality is that a team approach may take longer, but in the long run teams achieve better results than going alone. Yes, it is true that you don’t choose everyone on your team and many times you inherit them, but there is training and checklists to assure efficiency. Yes, there is attitude, but it can be addressed. Yes, not everyone is motivated, so motivate them. Yes, you don’t always have a budget for a good team or a team at all, but you can be creative and outsource some of your work or work with volunteers and if you can’t do even that, be your own advocate by planning ahead and don’t jump in the ocean if what you can do well is jumping into a pool. Yes, you think working with others is one more complication, but really? Be a good leader and make it work, or just know that it is your choice to feel like drowning, but it is an option you can change as soon as you decide.
From my experience working with my own teams in the past, I learned a few things that are important to remember:
– Move from support staff to a team mind set. Ownership and knowing that my success is yours, motivates everyone.
– Every member of a team has a different role, but what makes it a team is that everyone adds to the success of the mission. Collaboration is key, and helping each other is a must, but for everyone on a team to be focused on one specific area is what guarantees success.
– Surround yourself with people who know what you don’t know, who are subject experts. Hiring people that add to your success is a no-brainer.
– Respect your team and listen to them. Trust is key in every team, and a precondition for any team to succeed.
– There should be people on your team for different stages of the process, those who will help you get ready, those who will be with you during the journey, and those who will follow up. Make sure to have support all along the way.
Nyad came out of the ocean with her face bruised, swollen and sunburned. Even though she had the best possible team, her journey was extremely challenging. But who said it would be easy? The main thing is to be prepared and know that regardless of how difficult it will be you have a team ready to weather the circumstances with you and they know what to do to help you accomplish your mission.
Diana shared with the media that she was determined with each stroke forward to “push Cuba back, and push Florida towards” her. Think about the following questions:
– Which one is your Cuba and which one is your Florida? Be clear from where to where you are going.
– Who do you need on your team to keep the sharks and jelly fish away? Who do you need to fight currents and storms? To make sure you don’t get lost? To keep you doing what you need to do without distractions?
– What will it take for you to make it happen?
Just as Diana Nyad, the speaker for the USA Oracle Team, who recently had the greatest comeback in the history of sailing and won against the Emirates Team New Zealand tweeted: “On your own you’re nothing, but when you’ve got a team like this around you, they make you great”.
A few years ago, I made sure I let my family know that I wanted to really, truly celebrate the upcoming Mother’s Day. In my mind, I was expecting breakfast, served in bed, as a perfect start. The day arrived, and, like any other day, breakfast was sitting on the kitchen table. No delivery. No bed tray. Nothing special. Everyone was too busy with sports or homework, and I was disappointed that my special request wasn’t met – until I realized that I had never actually articulated my desires. I had “breakfast in bed” in my head – but the request never made it out of my mouth.
How many times do you make requests that end up in disappointments? Or even worse, you expect something that you never even asked for in the first place? It can be breakfast in bed, asking a co-worker for a copy of a document (over and over again), asking for a report and getting half of the information you needed, expecting others to know what to do without any specific guidance, or getting advice from your boss but not really the advice you needed to get the job done.
As the song tells us, “you can’t always get what you want” – but here are five good tips that can tip the odds in your favor:
1- An effective request requires a committed speaker and a committed listener. Always ask for what you want and how you want it, rather than assuming that it is obvious to others. Make your request clear, and make sure you get the full attention you need. Stop making casual requests in the hallway, while distracted looking at your screen, or “by the way” requests. How you ask for things will determine how you will receive it in return!
2- An effective request must include a clear and shared understanding of your standards for satisfaction. Share your conditions of satisfaction in order to have your request fulfilled exactly as you expect it to be. Provide all the details you are thinking of, unless it is a situation in which you are flexible and open to surprises. When I asked my son to clean his room, without going into details, he did just that. Later I learned that “clean” meant one thing to me and something totally different to him (hiding things in the closet or under the desk). Yes, after a while, people learn routines and they know how you like your coffee or what you need in a daily report, but until then it is important to be as clear as you can.
3- An effective request must include a clear deadline and a realistic agreement with those being asked. Let others know the time frame to meet your request. Things such as “at your earliest convenience”, “as soon as possible” or “promptly” are not precise enough. What seems obvious to you might not be to the other person. It is always good to pre-establish checkpoints for long-term requests to make sure things are on track.
4- An effective request must include the right context and mood shared by all parties involved. Make sure the right mood is set for your request. It is a fact that the right conversation in the wrong mood is the wrong conversation. It is preferable to wait to make a request than to just make it when the context or the emotions are not the adequate ones. In this case is better to take a break – this could be a request in itself – and come back for a fresh new start later on.
5- An effective request needs that those you are involving are capable of delivering. Verify that those you are making the request from have the capacity to fulfill it the way you expect. Don’t just assume; check and verify with them. This is good practice. If you are asking someone with a broken leg, on crutches, to go to get you a coffee with lots of milk from the busy cafeteria down the block, and bring it to you in the next 5 minutes before your next meeting, you might end up getting a late and cold latte!
The following Mother’s Day, I knew better. Sitting around the table, paying full attention to each member of my family, and in the right mood, I said, “I have a request to make for Mother’s Day. I want to have breakfast served in bed on a tray with a red rose, with fresh squeezed orange juice, 2 scrambled eggs, 1 wheat toast with fat free butter. I want it at 9:00 am”. Then I checked that everyone’s schedule would allow for it, that they understood what I wanted and why it was important to me, and that they were ok with it. Every year now I get my tray in bed, and unless I want something different, I don’t need to request it anymore. The rest of the day is filled with surprises, which is always good too.
I didn’t want to leave my requests for my special day to chance – and now, using these five tips, you don’t have to leave any day to chance.
Written by Orit for www.MyJewishCoach.com blog, March 2013
The year 2013 is almost here, and by asking yourself some profound yet simple questions, perhaps you will not just waste whatever you accomplished, or failed to achieve, during 2012. At the same time your answers can help you visualize your ideal path and set realistic goals for the year (and years) to come.
My invitation is to literally recycle 2012! “Recycling is processing used materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production.” –Wikipedia
To me, and to put it in very simple terms, it sounds just like a learning process from our own life, to gain from our gains and strengths, to avoid the same mistakes, to get new perspectives to reduce stress and become more efficient. Let’s try it together!
Let me help you start the Recycling Process, with a few questions. You can choose to just have a reﬂective Q&A session with yourself, or you can even go a whole extra mile and share the questions and answers around your family table, with a friend, or a significant other.
Sharing your answers becomes an act of accountability, and accountability is what we miss most years after setting ambitious goals.
- What did you learn about yourself in 2012? And, what are you going to do about it in 2013? (Hint: don’t just invite your “Negativity Committee” to answer this! Let’s be honest, you also learned good things about yourself!)
- Is there anything you gave up in 2012? Would you want to take it back? What do you need to do in order to get it in 2013? (Hint: think about different areas of your life)
- What didn’t go the way you would have liked during 2012? Is it something you can control? If so, how can you avoid it in the future? If it’s not under your control, what can you do to move on in 2013? (Hint: In life things happen, and at a certain point “it is what it is.” The only thing you have control over is how you react and what you do about it)
- What are some things you really enjoyed during 2012? How can you have more of that in 2013? (Hint: Moments of fulfillment and joy can be recreated in different and creative ways)
- What is one thing you can do NOW to move forward to Make your Life a Good One in 2013? (Hint: why wait? no more excuses!)
And keep practicing recycling, by asking yourself questions that will not allow you to waste any single moment (small or big, good or bad) in your life. If it is something that went well in 2012, ﬁnd out how you can recycle it into more during 2013. If it didn’t go as planned in 2012, ﬁgure out a way you can recycle it into something different during 2013. If it was just a dream last year, ﬁnd a way to recycle it into reality next year!
Wishing you the ability to recycle the year that you are leaving behind, into one of learning and personal growth. Wishing you the motivation to make the New Year ahead one ﬁlled with profound questions, many moments of joy, lots of good choices and the strength to have plenty of decisions (hard and easy) to make.
Above all, wishing you to always keep recycling, it is a healthy habit for you and your environment!
Orit Ramler Szulik
Life & Organizational Coach
“Sometimes on the way to the dream you get lost and find a better one”
Our first Not-Quick Tip is simple and deep: Notice! “Noticing” is the gift I treasured most during my coaching training withNewfield. I’ve started noticing what I was missing and by that I gained a richer world, more meaningful conversations, deeper experiences, more opportunities and possibilities, the ability to be in the moment and have clarity for the future, the capacity to feel grateful and the power to create what is missing.
When we decide to actively notice, we discover how blind we are! Notice your breathing and attitude, your tone of voice, posture and body language, your reactions and interactions, your environment, your choices, your words…and your silence… notice! Notice what others are doing, saying and asking, and how they are sitting or standing or sounding as they say or do it.
But how is this done? By being present in every moment, by telling yourself to notice, and by reflecting on what you noticed. With practice I’ve learned to set myself in a “mute” mode for a few minutes and just listen, eyes open and fully aware of my surroundings and my emotions. To turn this idea into a habit, try keeping a “Noticing Journal.” At the end of each day write down what you noticed. You might like it, and journaling might become your healthy habit as well. Two for the price of one!
What blocks our ability to notice? When we are invested in a certain outcome, we will only see or hear what we want to perceive. When we are tired or stressed and feeling that we have no time, we pass through our days as if our life were a constant race without a finish line. We may even think we notice, but we don’t. We operate on “automatic pilot” without authentic awareness – without really noticing the precious moments, things, people, comments and events in our lives. So here I pose a question: It is your life, do you notice it?
I invite you to practice this art of noticing, of awareness, by paying attention, connecting, reflecting and discovering. Notice what it does to you! Notice how it makes you feel! You will even notice the noticing and you will see that even that is a gift!