Valentine’s Day is Looming

by Cindy Drummond

I’m not afraid to admit that I despise February 14th. It’s a day that has caused me anxiety since grade school. I remember begging my mom to take me to the drug store so I could purchase the 24 pack of Valentine cards with matching envelopes and shiny pink stickers. I painstakingly wrote out cards for all of boys and girls in my classroom, sealed the envelopes and snuck them into the brown paper bags or card board boxes we decorated as makeshift Valentine’s Day mailboxes.

We weren’t allowed to peek into our mailboxes until the end of the day on February 14th. When given the go-ahead, we scrambled to grab our boxes and dumped them on our desks to see how many cards we had collected.

Hmmm! Something didn’t add up. There were 22 kids in my class, but I only had received 13 Valentine Day cards. “What could have happened?” I wondered. “Did someone forget to do their cards?” I looked around the classroom and to my dismay, I saw that a few of my classmates had more than a dozen cards on their desks and there were a few kids who actually had less cards then me. I went home from school that day feeling terribly sad and confused.

Years later, I was in my first serious relationship and we had been dating for about seven months when Valentine’s Day rolled around. My boyfriend asked me to dinner at a prestigious steak house in town and I was over the moon. I bought a new dress and even had my hair done. I felt extremely grown up.

When we arrived to the restaurant, we were seated at a cozy table for two in the middle of the upscale dining room. The tables on either side of us were less than 12 inches away. I felt like we had been crammed our space as an afterthought.

I was glancing over the menu when our waiter appeared at our table.

“Oh,” he said with a smirk. “We won’t be offering anything from our regular menu this evening. You must choose something from our set menu.”

I had no idea that many restaurants don’t want to burdened with all of the choices that come from the full menu, so they insist that the patrons choose from a limited menu that likely includes an appetizer, two or three dinner entrees and dessert.

I felt more than a little let down.

Over the years, I have come to dread Valentine’s Day. I don’t need cards, candy, or other more elaborate gifts on this Hallmark Holiday, but I always felt like I had to justify why or why not my boyfriends or husbands bought me a gift.

I won’t be buying any gifts this year. I won’t be going out to dinner and I won’t be sending any cards.

I will use the other 364 days to express my feelings of love and adoration to everyone in my world because those are the days when no one expects it.

Just a thought!

Manners Make the Difference

By Alice Wheaton

Each day in our business and personal life, we are faced with many challenges that pre-empt us from achieving the success we desire. Some people make success look easy and some people struggle to find the elusive and missing ingredients that help pave the way up the corporate ladder. A goodly portion of the missing ingredients is about how we handle ourselves in a business setting. It has been said that familiarly breeds contempt. Just as we take our personal relationships for granted, we often take the people and situations in our professional life for granted. In the case of business situations and people, I would go on to say that contempt can be displayed as a relaxing of manners, dress, and attitudes. There are certain protocols that work to help put your best foot forward and position yourself as natural choice for the next promotion. 

 Peter Ducker said it best in his comment “…manners are the lubricating oil that makes the wheels of commerce go round.”

  1. On time for a meeting is ten minutes too late…this was one of the best pieces of advice my first sales manager at Xerox, Bill Irwin, gave me.   When you are late for a meeting, the lack of respect for the other participants is assumed, even though it may not be intended.

If there are association magazines in the lobby, you will be able to read about the industry issues and use that new knowledge to help you make a fast and meaningful connection. Moreover, those companies profiled can help build your prospect list.

  1. Success in a meeting is 90% preparation and 10% perspiration.  . Before every meeting, review each page of the web site and prepare one question from each page. Recently, I met with a CEO of an IT placement agency. When he talked about increasing his growth by 10% I was able to say, “So you want to grow from 2650 placements to 3000 in 2009?”
  1. Curb your enthusiasm…   Clients want value, not emotion and without specific interest in his or her problems, and the consequences inherent in therein, they will simply see you as a lightweight and an amateur. This is one reason I find a high number of professional of engineers adapt and become high performers with my sales training…they are willing to follow a systematic process and have no need to emote all over the prospect or clients!
  1. Use the language of leadership. Those who are unable to be accountable and responsible use the language of the ordinary; in other words they equivocate. These ordinary words include: should, maybe, I’ll think about it, we’ll see, that kind of thing, or stuff I’ll try, etc. Unequivocal language includes terms such as: I will; you can count on me; I know, etc.
  1. Dress like you don’t need the money. Business casual has become the norm in many business centers now that men and women are unclear about where the line is between too casual and too formal.  My recommendation is that you dress for two positions above the once you currently hold. Observe your surroundings and see how it is that your boss’s boss dresses. For men, absolutely no jangling coins in your pockets, and for women, if you wear low neck blouses you are leading with your beauty instead of your brains. Recently, an engineer confided in me that he wanted to be considered for every promotion and asked for just one piece of advice, aside from always do a good job…and the advice I gave him was to keep a suit jacket and freshly laundered white or beige shirt in his office so that if one of the VPs needed him to contribute in a presentation, so that in concert with him demonstrating his expertise he would also look the part.
  1. Rise for the occasion…if you are sitting down, please rise to shake hands and greet the other person.  This is a display of respect and good manners. The term to describe this is that it shows that you rise to any occasion. Never underestimate the huge impact that a smallest change can achieve. 
  1. Shake hands like you are delighted to meet each other. Some people shake the hands of women different than they would shake hands with a man. This is not appropriate in business. When you shake hands, the web between the thumb and forefinger of each person’s hand should meet. There is no need to apply a vice-like squeeze as that is just as off-putting as a limp handshake. While I was volunteering in Ethiopia, I noticed that as men shake hands they each lean forward that so their right shoulders touch!
  1. Basics of manners, say please and thank you to your professional team and the universe… learn to say thank you for whatever happens in your life as it contains a lesson that will assist you in the next leg of your journey. 
  1. Manage your energy to manage your time. Andy Sherwood, of Priority Management in Toronto, compares the top of a desk to a factory floor…it is where a knowledge worker puts their machinery, for example computer, calculator, and telephone. No manufacturer of precision equipment would have a messy environment, yet knowledge workers take pride in being surrounded by clutter. Your Microsoft Outlook contains many tools that can make your life easier.
  1. Silence is goldentoo many of us are addicted to our Blackberries and cell phones. When you leave a phone on in a meeting, you are displaying disrespect for both the audience and the leader. Instead, keep it turned off for the duration. If you do retrieve a panic message, you cannot do anything about it until the meeting is over so why subject yourself to that stress? When cell phones are set to vibrate their owners almost always look to see who called. This is a case of the tail wagging the dog!
  1. Manage emotions and feelings or they will manage you…if you feel like crying or venting anger in a business situation know that discretion is the better part of valour. 
  1. Cleanliness is golden…before a meeting check for coffee in the corners of your mouth. Smokers can dispel some of the residual odour by wearing an overcoat, which they take off later, while on a smoke break. In addition, I recommend sucking on a strong mint before the meeting. Some people are avid anti-smoking and some are more tolerant. You may never know where your client fits so let discretion be your guideline. 
  1. A stitch in time saves nine…sometimes coat hems drag or we are consumed by a fit of coughing so two items to have on hand in your briefcase are a small sewing kit (the complimentary kits from hotel rooms are perfect) and a package of Kleenex.
  1. Questions are the answer, aren’t they?… When salespeople are faced with clients’ problems, they are so intent on doing a great job and solving the problems that they do themselves, and their clients, a disservice by jumping in with an answer or a solution. You cannot sell by telling; you sell with questions where you find the obstacles between you and the deal.
  1. Listen with intent…have you ever caught yourself thinking of your next response rather listening to the points the other person is making? Instead, when you listen have the agenda that you would be able to reiterate, not only the information, but the emotions and feelings around the issues that were discussed. On the other hand, being someone who listens without contributing is also a drain on the client. The best ratio is 80/20 ratio where you speak twenty percent and the client speaks twenty percent.

Even though you cannot control everything about the outcome of every meeting, do what you can, when you can to positively manage the opinions that others will have of you. Don’t be surprised when you outsell your competition and earn one promotion after another!

 

Alice Wheaton is a best selling author with books translated into ten languages. She is a consultant, and speaker, working tirelessly to help bring out the best in others.
www.alicewheaton.com

Forgiving the Hurts You did not Deserve

By Alice Wheaton  

When we constantly ruminate about the wrongdoer, we are obsessed and possessed and our lives take on more of grayish brown hues than the brilliance of a rainbow. That is why this tendency to negative thinking, criticisms of others, and fatalistic catastrophic thinking about the future is called the dark side. 

Coming to the point of forgiveness is easier if we are willing to take a leap of faith. Blind Faith is to believe we already have the power to change and we begin to modify behaviors and attitudes, even though we have no evidence. Blind faith has its seed in hope. Hope, like fear, is always about the future. Without hope all is lost but hope alone will get us nowhere. We need hope with action in order to bring out the best in ourselves and bring out the best in others. 

The power in forgiveness is unsurpassed. A person who forgives and accepts others will eventually learn to forgive and accept his or her self. It is important to see everyone, including ourselves, as works in progress. I will not know me until I look into your eyes and see me there – knowing and accepting you as separate, distinct, yet part of the imperfect brotherhood/sisterhood of humanity that includes me, means I can observe your behavior without removing myself from you. This is my understanding of the term loving detachment. It means I can stand back and observe ‘what is so’ in a lovingly detached manner rather than becoming hooked by any drama you create. I can ask myself:

  • What is the problem/drama?
  • Whose problem/drama is it?
  • How does it serve me to become part of this drama?

Without forgiveness, we are destined to live and die in the outfields of life.

Reasons Not to Forgive

Whatever feelings we harbor over a long period, be they feelings of resentment and anger or feelings of love and compassion begin to feel normal. If we are going to be stuck on autopilot with our feelings, they may as well be productive. Despite all of the positive side effects to forgive, people feel justified in not forgiving for several reasons. 

  1. Some believe that ‘to forgive is to condone’. That is not the case at all. We can be outraged by the act and detached from the personality who caused the wrong.
  1. Feelings harbored over a long period, feelings of resentment and hatred or love and compassion, begins to feel normal. 
  1. Energy gained from the prolonged anger can feel powerful and to release this anger can cause us to feel powerless.
  1. Forgiveness may not seem like an option because feelings of loss hurt, confusion, grief, and vulnerability are more difficult to hold on to and experience than anger and rage. This is because anger and rage are projected outward onto the perpetrator whereas sadness, loss, and remorse are felt deeply within. That is normal and when it happens we admit our wrongdoing, make amends and move on. What is abnormal is to be mired in that pain, without the ability to resolve it, without choice. 
  1. The belief that if you are a forgiving person, you will allow bad things to happen to your loved ones and to yourself. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being full of grace and equanimity actually means you will have the power to create boundaries and to intervene when someone is harming another. Being a forgiving person actually helps create strength of character.
  1. An inability to accept the past as it was. Instead, there is a yearning for the past to be how we would like it to have been. It is almost as if resentful people have a form of magical thinking, and so are constantly searching to make sense of those events. Those hurts cause them to feel disenfranchised, or feel very small, in some way, and their self-esteem becomes lodged in that moment from the past. That was then; this is now, and neither then nor now, is forever.

The Cost of Not Forgiving

The following are just a few of the many and varied consequences of being a person who holds resentment. Take a moment to ponder each question and notice whether pr not you practise any of them.

  1. Are you a hyper-vigilant person who becomes angry with others who even slightly offended you? 

2. Are you hypercritical of yourself and others? 

4. Are you unable to confront issues in a way that allows you to still have a strong, loving relationship? Do you ruminate on little infractions and allow the little things to escalate into big issues? 

5. Is truce is more important than truth?  Are you a people pleaser? 

6. Are you unable to create and maintain boundaries?

  1. Are you a perfectionist who is sabotaged by procrastination? 
  2. Do you have a tendency to maintain physical isolation?
  3. Does resentment show on your face and you look older than your years?
  4. Do you experience consistent emotional isolation? 
  5. Are you spiritually isolated? 

There are many more good reasons to move beyond the issues of the past and into the future than there are to staying stuck, without choice. Begin now to believe it is possible to claim your birthright, that of happiness, joy, love, and prosperity.

To be stuck in the magical thinking of trying to undo the past, or somehow right it with resentment and hatred, is to be like a Knight of the Round Table chasing after, but never finding, the Holy Grail. That magic cup, the being of who we would be without the hurt, does not exist. A happy now (and an even happier future) is ours with the ability to forgive, forget, and move on.

 

Alice Wheaton is a best selling author with books translated into ten languages. She is a consultant, and speaker, working tirelessly to help bring out the best in others.
www.alicewheaton.com

Who is Spiritual and Who Isn’t?

By Alice Wheaton

When someone says, “I am spiritual.” or “The work I do is spiritual” what does that mean? Does it mean that God has a clipboard and notices, and then checks off, who is spiritual and who is not? Does God have a sliding scale? Is the homeless person who begs for money less spiritual in God’s eyes (as you understand God)? Does being spiritual mean someone who is a seeker for answers and if so answers to what…the alleviation of the pain and suffering of others or erasing the discontent with one’s own life? Or does it mean someone who gives, even though they don’t have enough for themselves? Is there a possibility that one person can ever be more spiritual than another? For instance, in God’s eyes (again God, as you understand God to be or not to be) does The Dali Lama receive five stars and ordinary schleps receive only ½ a star? Who decides? If we attend a Spiritual Retreat are the leaders more spiritual than the participants? Or is exaltation the real exchange…the audience adores and the Spiritual Leader gets to be adored? What if, neither the desire to be adored nor the desire to exalt, is spiritual? Can our weaknesses be as spiritual as our strengths?

What if a workshop leader, who considers him or herself to be a Spiritual Teacher, is hired to present a two hour training session twice a month for three months, to a window manufacturer… the participants are the hourly workers and  paid much less than those in the front office. And yes they are a cynical difficult bunch.  They smoke, swear, tell sexist jokes, and will call a spade a spade…some abuse one or several substances. Sitting still is difficult for them as they do their job by moving around and their restlessness shows before an hour passes. They are the labourers in the plant and proud of it…but wait, what if this workshop leader believes, “I only work with spiritual people?”  With this attitude, would this workshop leader be able to ‘teach’ this group anything or would he or is he or she in judgement and therefore separate from the students?  

Can we be of service if we see ourselves as more special than our students? Can the real teachers in any situation (think prisoner and Chaplin) be the students instead of the teacher? Can the belief, I am spiritual lend itself to, and breed, spiritual arrogance and spiritual competitiveness? Doesn’t either of those states indicate a perceived lack in one’s spirit? Is that what the spiritual quest is all about…filling the gaps in our spirits, even is no gaps exist? 

There is a whole market developing about teaching us spiritual principles and how to live a spiritual life. Are the “spiritual teachers” promoting to their own advantage? Are these teachers really ordinary humans with no more of a direct link to ‘the Source” as anyone else but they happen to be able to (and enjoy) presenting in front of a crowd so to do that they position themselves as a Spiritual Subject Matter Expert?  Is it their job/professionquestal responsibility/ to lead their supplicants to the spiritual waters and sit back and absolve themselves if these supplicants choose not to drink of the knowledge?

In the example training opportunity at the window manufacturer, do you think that the workshop leader ever came to see that it is spiritual to work with anyone? And what a privilege it is to have been involved with a team that works to manufacture a product to bring light to homes, buildings, and lives? Without these rough and ready people working in the back of any manufacturing plant, wouldn’t our work load be greater? Without these manual labourers, where would we have the time to develop our knowledge and skills to offer to our audiences? 

Who amongst us then, is less or more, spiritual than the other? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all saw ourselves not as leaders but as trusted servants operating with a servant’s heart, desiring to be in the service to others no matter who they are and how they show up in our lives? 

Isn’t it wonderful to live in a country where we have the democratic freedom to question without fear of political or religious retaliation? 

 

Alice Wheaton is a best selling author with books translated into ten languages. She is a consultant, and speaker, working tirelessly to help bring out the best in others.
www.alicewheaton.com

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress: CBD Can Help

This article first appeared on MadebyHemp.

In our modern, fast-paced world, stress is becoming a very common component in our everyday lives. It has become so common, in fact, that we no longer seem to notice stress until it has compounded into something bigger and has started affecting our health. Stress, or rather, stress hormones (a primary stress hormone like cortisol), are released into the body to trigger our “fight or flight” response. In dire situations, these hormones help elevate our energy supplies, increase the concentration of glucose in our blood, and even help our brain use glucose optimally for quicker decision making. However, long-term activation of the body’s stress system could cause a host of health problems — anxiety, depression, heart disease – to name a few.

Therefore, it is important we learn of ways to relieve ourselves of stress. Below are five simple ways to relieve stress:

1. CBD Oil

You’ve probably heard of CBD quite often this whole year. There is good reason for that. Aside from its uses in alleviating the symptoms of epilepsy, it is also being used as a natural means of reducing anxiety and a great way to relieve stress. This is because all mammals have an endocannabinoid system. This is a network of CBD receptors along our central nervous system. These receptors react to CBD by fixing imbalances, strengthening our immune system, and relieving symptoms of stress and anxiety. So a couple of drops of CBD oil every day might just be a great way to help relieve stress.

2. Meditation

If you are looking for a very cheap way of reducing stress without taking anything, meditation is the way to go. Meditation has been known to help ease stress and anxiety by focusing our attention to emptying our mind and breathing deeply. Not only will this help you relax, but it could also re-energize you to help you face the rest of your day with a bit more calm. If you find yourself stressed by too many meetings or an impending deadline, take a few minutes to center yourself, empty your mind of any thoughts, and breathe.

3. Exercise

Physical activity causes our body to release happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin. To people who have experienced what is called the “runner’s high”, this is actually the rush of endorphins released by your body as a response to running. Endorphins help our body reduce stress by helping our body overcome pain, and regulate our sleep. The stress hormone cortisol actually reduces the production of happy hormones in our body which will lead to more stress for us. Exercising would help build these hormones back up in our system.

4. Reduce Caffeine

We all have a caffeine threshold. Caffeine is known to help keep us awake and give us that boost of much-needed energy, especially in the mornings when all we want is to go back to sleep. However, too much caffeine can contribute to anxiety which in turn causes stress. It could also cause heart palpitations, cold sweat, and some digestive upset when you take too much caffeine. So if you find yourself getting anxious after your second or third cup of coffee, it might be a good idea to skip that cup of joe and maybe have something with lower caffeine levels. Perhaps a nice low caffeine tea, or, dare we say, some decaf coffee?

5. Socialize

Spending time with friends and family is a great stress reliever. No matter how introverted and socially averse you are, there is always someone you prefer spending your time with. And for those of us who are extroverted, being with people is an energizing experience. Laughing and having an enjoyable time with the people you love will help you relax more, and forget about your woes. In women, spending time with family and children helps in releasing oxytocin, a natural stress reliever.

No matter your station in life, stress is unavoidable. Keeping these five tips in mind will help you in managing or maybe even relieving stress. And in turn will help you enjoy life more, avoid health issues, and even develop a healthier relationship with yourself and with your social circle.

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