Live An Extraordinary Life

You Are About To Read A stunning Fact: 

The Gallup organization have asked 1.7 million employees in 101 companies from 63 countries the question:

“At work do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?” 

Take a guess how many people strongly agreed with this statement.

The answer: 20%. That means that most people and organizations are operating at only 20 percent of their capacity. 

Herein lies The Secret Weapon that can blow the doors off your potential…. YOUR STRENGTHS.

In the book, “NOW, Discover Your Strengths”, Buckingham and Clifton tell us this number is low because organizations are primarily focused on overcoming weaknesses instead of maximizing strengths.

Their other groundbreaking assertion?

 We attain excellence only by maximizing our strengths, never by fixing our weaknesses.

So What Is A Strength?
 A strength is any activity that you perform with consistent perfection. It is composed of 3 parts:

  1. Talents: Your naturally recurring and successful patterns of thought, feelings or actions  (ability to help people achieve their potential through coaching)
  2. Knowledge: Facts and lessons learned (study in psychology, coaching, business)
  3. Skills: Competencies applied to an activity (listening, pattern recognition, emotional intelligence)

Do You Know Your Strengths? 

You can learn your top 5 strengths by taking the STRENGTHFINDER online. The only catch is, you have to buy the book to get an access code. In my opinion, it’s worth the investment. It takes about 20 minutes to take and you get a report instantly. It is fast and remarkably accurate. I have taken it and used it with many clients….always a home-run.

How does it help you unlock your potential?

  1. You learn what you are naturally good at so that you can apply those things to work and life successfully and consistently.
  2. You attain the language to describe what you are good at to employers, friends, partners etc…so that you find the best match-ups and opportunities to contribute and collaborate.
  3. You have the information you need to make informed decisions about how to succeed in any work or life situation e.g. what job will be best for you, will that promotion be career enhancing or a potential disaster, how can you best contribute to the success of your team, family, community?
  4. Your work and life become more effortless because you are in the flow.
  5. Flow = FUN

Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life and new college graduates who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character.

2012 Copyright Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

What Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

Do You Feel Powerful or Powerless?

The extent to which we feel either powerful or powerless has a direct correlation with our state of mind. When we don’t feel powerful we are usually reacting rather than responding to life. That causes our state of mind to get confused or agitated which leaves us feeling less in control and not as resilient as we would like.

Sometimes things can get so hectic that we lose track of two very important facts:

1. We alone control our state of mind.

2. When we become the master of our state of mind we have found the secret to finding and keeping our power.

The Triple Crown of Our State Of Mind

There are three components that make up our state of mind:

  1. Emotions: How we feel
  2. Thoughts: What we think
  3. Beliefs: What we believe

Every experience we have is based upon the inter-relationship of these three things. When they are working in harmony, we experience our full personal power. When they are in discord, we feel controlled by something other than ourselves and less powerful.

Reclaiming our power doesn’t have to be a huge deal. It can be as simple as being in a bad mood and wanting to get out of it or feeling frustrated with a spouse and wanting to see him or her from a more positive perspective.  When we can make these types of adjustments in the moment, we have successfully learned to manage our state of mind and are living life on our own terms.

Are You In Control Of Your Life?

How you feel right now will tell you instantly if you are in control of your life. A simple rule of thumb: If you feel good, you’re on track, so keep doing what you’re doing. If you don’t feel good, it is the indication that you are not fully connected to your true self and your full power and that something needs to change.

Where most of us get stuck is when we may recognize that we don’t feel positive but we don’t understand the emotions, thoughts or beliefs that got us there. This makes it impossible to make a productive change.

Here’s What To Do: Understand The Situation From All Three Areas (Emotions, Thoughts and Beliefs)

Let’s say that your colleague received a promotion at work. When you hear the news, you congratulate her and feel genuinely happy for her. A short time later, you find yourself being impatient with people in the office and feeling agitated. You don’t know what has come over you but without question, you are feeling bad emotionally.

Break It Down and Get To The Source of What Is Happening

First, define as clearly as you can the emotions that you are feeling. In this situation perhaps it starts with agitation. You go deeper and discover you are also feeling frustrated, fearful maybe even angry, jealous or betrayed.

Next, examine the thoughts that you have been thinking since you got the news of the promotion. Maybe things like, “I work just as hard as Sally and for what?” or, “I’m never going to be able to afford to send my kids to college if I don’t make more money” or, “That was the perfect job for me and now it’s gone.”

Now, be brutally honest and uncover the beliefs you are holding that are behind your thoughts and ask yourself if they are actually true for you. In this case some beliefs could be:

  • There are a limited number of opportunities.
  • I’m getting older and am going to start being overlooked for promotions.
  • I am always treated unfairly and don’t get what I deserve.

Ask yourself if these beliefs help you feel good or bad.

The Secret: Change The Belief And Your Experience Will Change

We experience a diffusion of our power when our emotions, thoughts and beliefs are out of alignment. If you’ve discovered that your beliefs aren’t working productively for you, start by defining new ones.

If you find yourself having a hard time letting go of outdated beliefs and creating new ones, appeal to your own logic. Ask yourself why you would have a belief that generates negative thoughts and makes you feel less powerful than you could be? Then play with the question, “What belief would lead to positive thoughts and feeling good?”

Here are some examples:

  • “There is an abundance of opportunities that are right for me and that will pay me handsomely.”
  • “If this were meant to be, it would have happened”. 
  • “I have a multitude of talents and strengths that are, and will continue to be, matched perfectly with my career goals.”

And Now For Your Thoughts

Shifting to positive beliefs will lead to a different set of thoughts such as:

  • “Sally’s promotion is great news. I think I’ll meet with my manager to let her know my goals and to get her feedback on what my opportunities are for getting promoted.” 
  • “Sally’s promotion has really helped me get clear  on what I want professionally. I think I’ll talk with the boss to see if  what I’d like to do is possible here in this organization. I hope it is, but, if it isn’t, I’ll begin to plan my next move. This is exciting.”

Powerful Emotions

These thoughts lead to emotions such as:

  • Confidence
  • Enthusiasm
  • Optimism
  • Excitement

These emotions help us think positively and that leads to well-directed, powerful action that helps us achieve our goals.

Our state of mind is where our power is. Continued focus on actively managing it will result in the ability to unleash your extraordinary power to live your extraordinary life.

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to  Live An Extraordinary Life and new college graduates who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character.

2012 Copyright Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

 People who have faith in themselves are powerful people. Not just because they accomplish a lot, which they do, but also because they have navigated through the “dark nights of the soul” that so often are the necessary catalyst for the achievment of extraordinary things. 

 Faith is, after all, believing in something that hasn’t yet appeared or may never appear to us in physical form. It is holding firm to our dreams in spite of their conspicuous absence in our current life experience. Having faith takes guts, will and character.

 Imagination Lights The Way 

An extraordinary life is one in which faith is the foundation and imagination the material from which we build. When we cultivate faith in ourselves it frees our imagination to play and dream. Once we can imagine what we want to accomplish during our lives, we are well on our way to making it happen.

 At times, following our dreams faithfully may feel exhilarating; at other times, perhaps hopeless. Sometimes the people we love will tell us we’re crazy to want to do the things we do. We might hear things like, “What are you thinking?” or “Who do you think you are?” And do you want to know the true secret of every person who lives life in faith? He or she often lays in the dark at night wondering if the detractors are right.  But in the light of day, he/she pursues and perseveres and always keeps moving forward. 

Without Doubt There Is No Faith

Achieving what we set out to accomplish in life rarely happens in instantaneous bold moves. For most of us, achievement is characterized by steady focused action at which we persist, even in the face of obstacles and doubts.

 It is a huge myth that having faith means one has no doubts. It is quite the opposite. In fact, it is impossible to have one without the other because faith is born when we look doubt straight in the eye and deny it any power to stop us.

 The poet David Whyte talks about this duality in the most real and human way in his poem, “Faith”:

 I want to write about faith, about the way the moon rises over cold snow, night after night, faithful, even as it fades from fullness,

slowly becoming that last curving and impossible sliver of light before the final darkness. 

But I have no faith myself. I refuse it the smallest entry. 

Let this then, my small poem, like a new moon, slender and barely open,

be the first prayer that opens me to faith.  

Success Comes To The Faithful  

Everyone reading this  has experienced times in life that are full and times when, like the moon, there is a fading from fullness. Much like the moon, our lives move in cycles. At times we may succeed wildly and at other times we may miss our target at every turn.

 Have you ever watched a sports event when the “star” is having an off game? These are the times when they prove why they are “stars” because they never stop shooting, swinging, running, or whatever it is that they do. In spite of failure, they keep trying. That is faith in action.

 To expect life to be a steady unchallenged continuum of bliss is unrealistic and, in truth, an act of betrayal to the human experience. It guarantees that we will be more troubled than happy; that we will have more stress than joy. Most important, however, is that a life lived with no obstacles challenged and overcome is a life devoid of courage, compassion, empathy and humor. 

The journey of life is truly a mystery. The more I learn the less I feel that I know. But one thing that I do know for certain is that I want to live life to the fullest and help others do the same. Faith and imagination are the cornerstones to making this happen.

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to  Live An Extraordinary Life and new college graduates who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character.

2012 Copyright Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

 

Shout From Your Soul Something Worth Remembering!

The world is small only when we agree to think and be small

How many times in a day do you engage your mind in calculating what is possible given what you know?

But what of what you don’t’ know?

What of hidden potential?

What would happen if you indulged your imagination and asked, “what if…?” and allowed the wilds of your intuition to relentlessly beckon you forward, to somewhere unknown

Abandon all thought of restriction

Go for it, whatever “it” is,  utterly and completely

Watch what happens in your mind your heart and your soul

Watch the effect on you and on those around you

What is there to lose?

Do you want to live your life and die your death knowing that you left something, anything, on the table?

That is the definition of hell

What will you do today and shout from your soul that is worth remembering?

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to  Live An Extraordinary Life and new college graduates who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character.

2012 Copyright Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

 
Bette Davis was right, aging is not for sissies but it is also NOT anywhere near as horrifying as people make it sound. I mean seriously, think about it. It beats the heck out of the alternative, doesn’t it?
 
Perhaps because I am now fifty-something I find myself reading, writing and talking more frequently with other people about this topic of aging. I have identified a notable pattern: For both men and women, the damn thing seems to have caught us all by surprise.
 
I can remember my mother telling me when she was in her fifties that she still felt like a young woman on the inside.  At the time I thought that this, shall we say “slight misperception” was the result of the Valium that her doctor prescribed for her menopausal symptoms. But she was right. And I too, still feel like a young woman and I plan to continue feeling that way.
 
It is the pesky exterior that seems to insist on keeping us fully grounded in reality by refusing to defy the laws of gravity. But here again, there is always an upside. In my case, if I had my hip replaced in my 30’s, instead of in my late 40’s, I would have a 3 inch scar instead of what my graciously sagging bottom has given me, which is 1.5 inch scar.  That is a 50% improvement. There is always a silver lining, even if it now requires glasses to see. 
 
So you may think the title of this blog is in jest. It is not. I did an experiment.  
 
I have been blessed with my mom’s great skin, except for a very deep wrinkle in between my brows which begins to resemble the grand canyon when I am intensely listening to people. This is a bit of a problem for me since my JOB is to intensely listen to people.  A couple of years ago I went to see the plastic surgeon who had done a wonderful reconstruction of my left cheek after I had a tumor removed. I asked him what options there were for getting rid of this line. He described several, the least intrusive of which to me was Botox. So, I gave it a go and very quickly I began to see the line start to disappear. But along with the line disappearing, so did my ability to frown or to have any full natural facial expression.  I have to admit that this actually wasn’t all bad. It proved very helpful when my boss at the time said or did something not so smart and my face no longer screamed “What the %#@! are you thinking?” which, I’m sure you can appreciate, was somewhat of a career limiting situation.
 
However after several months I noticed something that decided the issue for me.  I realized that my face, in addition to not being a run-away freight train of blunt communication, also no longer expressed wonder or surprise or, most disturbing, the depth of the empathy or love that I was feeling.  That is when I took a long look at myself in the mirror, the 7x magnifying mirror.  I noticed that in addition to the most obvious line I was worried about on my face, there were actually many others around my eyes, on my cheeks, at my jaw line and on my neck. 
 
That day I realized and accepted the fact that I do not have the face of a young woman any longer. But I do have the face of a woman who has been immensely blessed and who lives life from a deep well of passion and emotion. I have laughed until I cried, to which the abundance of lines around my eyes testify, and I have also anguished over the disappointments and griefs that life brings to all of our doors. Those experiences, too, are etched in my face. My face reflects my life and I decided that day that it will continue to do so.  
 
So basically a change of strategy was all I needed and I found it. I’ve got one word for you: BANGS. When cut well, they cover a multitude of sins.  
 
I know what you’re thinking but hey, there is a difference between acceptance and apathy. I can accept aging without having my forehead look like the concentric circles inside tree trunks which broadcast my age to the world.  I’m aging, I am not dead!  When I stop doing everything I can to look my best (and OK, yes, I admit it, have people maybe think I’m younger than I actually am)  that will be the beginning of the end. Until then, I’ll continue to do my part to contribute to the economy through the purchase of products and services that keep me and aging on friendly terms.
 
NOTE TO SELF: DUMP THE 7x MAGNIFYING MIRROR!
 
Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life, and new college graduates who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character. She also reserves the right to change her mind on this topic at a moments notice.
 
Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved, Madden Coaching & Consulting.
Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

The ultimate journey in life is to remember who we truly are and live our lives to their fullest potential.

It sounds simple enough and yet, an extraordinary life takes equal measures of courage, faith and love. I have found in my own life, and as a coach, that accessing the full power of these three elements is a life-long pursuit. It demands a mindfulness and attitude of sanctity that grows in direct proportion to the discipline and devotion with which we live.   

As this year begins, meet it with a robust vigor and commitment to happiness and peace.  Discover or remember, whichever the case may be, your unique gifts and share them with the world in ways that only you can.

The great American poet, Mary Oliver, wrote of the transformative experience of boldy entering and living an extraordinary life in this poem:

The Journey

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice

Though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles.

“Mend my life!” each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible.

It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,

And there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,

Determined to do the only thing you could do-

Determined to save the only life that you could save.

Fulfillment does not come soliciting us. We must pursue it relentlessly and fearlessly. It always starts with a first step, however small or big. Once we have taken it, we have set into motion the artistry of life unfolding. We have entered the unknown, time to fasten our safety belts. There will be voices around us and inside of us that will shout their bad advice and the wind will indeed pry with its stiff fingers at our very foundations.

We will come face to face with our failures and our doubts.

It was already late enough and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones”.

Refuse to concede to anxiety and worries of failure. Instead, be all in. Live your life extraordinarily and with no regrets. Live it true and live it with a passionate reverence and appreciation for every moment, for all too quickly, and often by surprise, the blessed gift is over.

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

Hi everyone and welcome back!

Today unemployment is higher than it has ever been in my life-time. This has made having a job a pretty darn important component for living an extraordinary life. But not just any job, the job you want.

Competition is fierce, no question. Whether you are a new college graduate or an experienced professional, it is all about DIFFERENTIATING YOURSELF IN THE INTERVIEW. That means being the person who stands out because you are confident, articulate, engaging and compelling. You want to leave the interviewer knowing that you are the obvious choice for the position. This will help you get the job, AND it will put you in the best possible position for negotiating your compensation.

How To Rock The Interview And Get The Job

Look, I’m not going to be coy. I believe that a good interview coach is essential to ensure that you do your best, particularly in this job market. I also happen to believe that I am one of the best out there having been “on the inside”. I have managed global recruiting organizations, worked as a Senior Vice President of Talent Management, I’ve hired thousands of people, I have developed and trained leaders on interview skills AND I am an experienced coach. Suffice it to say that I’ve got a very good grasp of what it takes to be that candidate who blows the socks off a hiring manager. Plus, nothing makes me happier than coaching people to achieve their potential! 

4 key Strategies That I Use With Clients So That They Get The Jobs They Want:

  1. Understand and then articulate with confidence and ease, how your skills and experience match the organization’s needs. This is your #1 job in the interview and believe me, if you don’t do it, it won’t happen. The good news is, a lot of people don’t do this so by being the one who does…that’s right, you differentiate yourself. This requires some homework. First I ask you to help me understand your education, work experience, unique strengths, successes, failures etc… Then we spend time with my helping you REALLY GET how unique you are and why you are perfect for the job.  This seems obvious but I can’t tell you how many of my clients under-sell and under-estimate the impact of their achievements. Once we understand you, then you do a ton of research on the organization so that you understand their vision, mission, values, business model; Know what the market opportunities are for them as well as competitive or financial/funding threats that they may face. Next integrate these two things…you and your skills/experience with them and their needs. MATCH POINT!
  2. Develop techniques for engaging with the interviewer in a conversation versus feeling that it is a one way interview. This is important because it will help you relax, be present and not only share, but obtain the information you need to decide if YOU want the job. The best way to do this is with thoughtful and meaty questions. Having done your homework in #1, I will then ask you to write a list of questions and together, we will perfect them. By the way, important to ask different questions of different interviewers. Ask questions not only about the organization and the role but about the interviewer!  People like talking about themselves so, create that opportunity. For Example, “What has been your greatest  career highlight since working here at the XYZ organization?”
  3. Perfect your ability to ask and answer questions in a way that allows you to engage in a compelling and meaningful way with the interviewer. There is no question that practicing out loud is the best way to do this. Remember, you have taken the time to know yourself, the organization and you have written your questions. Now you need to HEAR yourself integrate all of this together intelligently. This will take the interview to a whole new level I promise.
  4. Do mock interviews so that you go in confident, curious, authentic and fully present. There is no substitute here, you need a good coach to fully prepare you.  Family and friends  can be helpful but they will likely throw you softball questions and they will not risk the relationship with the brutally honest feedback you need to really ace the interview and get the job.  This is tough love time with a trained professional! :)

So that is a good start. Helpful? Got Questions?  Let me know.  Future topics will include: how to handle receiving an offer before you have heard from your #1 choice, negotiating compensation…things like that. 

I would really appreciate you passing this along to friends and ask them to “follow” (button bottom right) to receive more tips.

Also, if you like what you are reading, please check out my other blog  http://maddencoaching.com/  as well as my Madden Coaching & Consulting Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Madden-Coaching-Consulting/187760837936973

Happy Hunting!

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