Archive for Leadership

Obama vs. Sandburg: Embracing Both Perspectives

Following a recent interview with Michelle Obama regarding her new memoir, “Becoming,” there was a news cycle firestorm regarding her comments on the ‘Lean In’ movement that began when Sheryl Sandberg authored the book with the same title.

What struck me most about the controversy was the intense backlash surrounding who is right and who is wrong – Sheryl Sandberg or Michelle Obama.

Unfortunately, this is a reflection of the all or nothing thinking that typically permeates the human condition, yet is exacerbated by our polarization around every issue these days.  As politics becomes more polarized, we see the same intense approach to taking sides in every segment of our society.

Rather than thinking in terms of Either/Or, we need to move toward embracing the concept of Both/And.  For example, a very well known quote from Alcoholics Anonymous summarizes Both/And thinking beautifully:  Take what you need and leave the rest.”

Obama is recognizing the reality of the struggle.  Sometimes, it’s just not feasible to lean in.  There may be personal or family health issues, divorce or concerns with the kids – all are possible among the myriad of life crises that we endure.  On top of the additional stress these life issues manifest, it’s critical to reduce our own personal self-shaming during these periods.  It’s okay to say to yourself, “Right now, it’s just not realistic or feasible to be all-in for a promotion at work.”

Let me be clear, this does not mean that during the other times, when your personal life is chugging along smoothly, that we embrace some of the concepts that Sandburg addresses in her book, “Lean In.”  Once again, polarity causes us to think in terms of Either/Or, such as changes need to be made at a policy level OR we need to take personal responsibility and change our own actions.

“The most common way people give up their power is by believing they don’t have any.”

–Alice Walker

One of my favorite quotes by Alice Walker is very appropriate when talking about personal responsibility.  In other words, if we don’t assess our own behavior, possibly we have abdicated control of our own life.

The Lean In movement doesn’t promote that we can always have it all.  The reality is that we can’t have it all at the same time.  The myth of being a superwoman is not just unrealistic, it’s ridiculous.  Often, we can’t have it all; however, rather than shaming yourself, learn to recognize when now is not the time and don’t use bad timing as an excuse to tell yourself “I can’t.”

In other words, let’s figure out what you can do, when you can do it and have a plan.

Please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at kay@highheeledsuccess.com, so we can empower you to achieve your goals.

 

Risk-Taking 101: Find Balance

 “You can’t be successful in business without taking risks.  It’s really that simple.” 

–Adena Friedman, President and CEO of Nasdaq

Taking risks is necessary in business; however, you don’t want to be the one who jumps into anything or the one who lags behind and misses an opportunity.  Hopefully, after thinking this through with me, you’ll be able to find your sweet spot – being both confident and completely aware as you make a risky decision.  If you have any questions, after reading this, I’m always here to coach and support you!

First of all, there are three types of risk-takers:  jumpers, ruminators and sweet spot riskers.  Jumpers don’t exercise due diligence.  Jumpers are unrealistic about the circumstances, their resources and possibly time management.  Jumpers might be unrealistic about the potential revenue, haven’t thought about how time consuming something is and generally have blinders on.

For example, I had a client who was starting a business.  She chose to spend an excessive amount of money for website, rent office space hired an expensive staff member.  She has been working overtime just to cover her expenses and has not been able to turn a profit.

Ruminators tend to go over and over information, stalling and failing to make a decision.  Ruminators are driven by fear.  The numbers make sense, yet they do more research and more research.

Sweet spot riskers – that’s where you want to land by finding balance between facilitating the necessary due diligence and moving forward because the facts present themselves.  You have what you need to make a clear, reasoned and thoughtful decision.

When you have an opportunity that requires risk and are trying to follow a process that will help you find the correct level of risk, think QCAT as the acronym to find your sweet spot.

Q for Quick – be quick but not hasty and set a timeline for decision making

C for Committed – be committed, but not rigid, and if new data presents itself that suggests a change of direction, be ready to change

A for Analytical – be analytical, but do not over analyze and use data to push through fear

T for Thoughtful – be thoughtful, but not obsessive

Personally, I tend to be more of a ruminator.  When I first started my own business; however, I was a “jumper.”  So I’ve experienced the extremes and have used these exact same techniques over the years to find my own sweet spot for risk-taking.

If you would like to walk through these steps with someone who has been there and are eager to make a greater impact in your career, it would be my honor to be part of that process with you.  Please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at kay@highheeledsuccess.com, so we can empower you to achieve that goal.

Emotional Intelligence is a Critical Factor for Success

Self-Awareness, Emotions, Empathy at Work

While you might not think much about the topic of emotional intelligence, it’s an issue that comes up frequently during my individual client sessions.  Putting your best foot forward as an emotionally intelligent boss and co-worker is a need in the workplace, a need for anyone who manages people.

By definition, emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of your feelings, being in control of them and able to express them.  For example, if you’re going to succeed with challenging employees, the administrator needs to set the tone.  The administrator needs to serve as the model for what you want others to emulate.

Historically, the foundation of emotional intelligence was laid when Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., wrote his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Books), which helped to explain the differences between traditional IQ (intelligence quotient) and EI.  The book was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half and is available around the world in 40 languages.

The next major resource to come along was the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, written by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, Ph.D., which provides case studies, tools and techniques to improve your emotional intelligence.  In fact, Dr. Greaves is co-founder and CEO of TalentSmart, Inc., and the website talentsmart.com is a great resource to learn more.

Now, emotional intelligence is very much part of the fabric and conversation in any workplace.  If you work in a large company, you could probably talk to the human resources department to find out if you have taken or could take a formalized EI assessment.  When assessing EI, you’ll be looking at overall social awareness, relationship management and your ability to empathize with others.

If you find an area is lacking in yourself or your employees, there are strategies for improvement and some people can benefit from identifying an EI mentor – someone who seems to get along and understand others.  A mentor can be responsible for queuing you if you talk too long or if you misread communication.

For example, if an employee has negative reactions to someone else’s behavior and there is emotional fallout due to low self-awareness, this situation needs to be managed.  Or if you find employees want to leave a department because they don’t want to work with her, or headaches and stomach problems are being caused by a difficult co-worker, these situations need to be managed too.

5 Components of Emotional Intelligence

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation or emotional control
  • Motivators
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

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When it comes to social and relationship skills, we’re not just talking about charm.  As human beings interact with each other, we need to be able to interpret voice, facial expressions and body language.

Certain careers, such as information technology, engineering and research, require a high IQ; however, without emotional intelligence, success can hit a certain ceiling.  Both qualities are needed to be successful.  From Abraham Lincoln to Temple Grandin and Bill Gates, there have been many recognizable people who have lacked relationship skills.

Whether you decide to take a self-assessment or talk to a colleague for mentorship, it’s critical to identify where you have strengths or where you might need some emotional intelligence work to do.  A perfect opportunity to dig in on this topic is during your next job review.  Is there a tool or can your boss provide some guidance in this area?  A performance review is a gift to both the employee and the employer, so be smart and take advantage to help you put your best foot forward!

If you are eager to make a greater impact in your career, it would be my honor to be part of that process with you.  Please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at kay@highheeledsuccess.com, so we can empower you to achieve that goal.

©Copyright 2018.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.

Who do you need supporting your voice?

When it comes to career development, and really so many other things in life, you can’t do it alone, and because you can’t do it alone, neither can others.  Once you realize the power of your own voice, look around you and figure out who you need supporting your voice, who will be your greatest advocate, who will you talk to first when you have a ground-breaking idea?

While discovering and embracing your own power is important, the “Power of Us” can be the game-changer.  Men support each other all the time – where do you think the phrase the “good, old boys club” comes from?  If women employ some of the same techniques used by men to work together, support each other and lift while they climb, career support can be transformational.

As with everything, it’s important to find the power balance, a balance of mentor and mentee.  When you identify a woman boss or colleague who will help amplify your voice at work, you may have also found a mentor who could become a huge advocate for you.  A good mentor will support your voice and help transform your ability to speak out and speak up.  She (or he) can:

  • Advocate for you and open doors to resources.
  • Make strategic introductions.
  • Recommend you serve on boards, committees of the organization.
  • Provide inside information and help you learn the politics of your company or industry.
  • Help push you to the next level by shining a light on what you might not know about yourself.
  • Believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself.

If you’re the one in this scenario who has become the mentor, the work colleague who is ready, willing and able to lift while she climbs, make sure you’re not mentoring others to the detriment of your own career.  There’s a mentor for everyone.  Even if you need to look outside your department, company or industry, you need a mentor to help create visibility and open doors for you.

Internal and external mentors serve different roles.  An internal mentor is someone within your own organization, workplace or industry.  This person understands the culture of your workplace or industry.  A mentor who knows these intricate details can provide advice and insights that no one else can.  If you work directly with the person, she/he can also provide a unique perspective of how you are perceived in the workplace.

External mentors come from other companies, and different areas of business.  The balance of having an internal/external mentor, similar to the male/female balance, will help provide a holistic approach to the self-improvement process that takes place in a mentoring relationship.

Early in my career, I was more inclined to take a quick lunch at my desk.  I didn’t fully understand the value of having lunch with my co-workers, learning the players and gaining support for my ideas and my work.  Getting to know people and supporting each other is also more enjoyable, so don’t miss the opportunity.  It’s good for your career and good for your mental health!

If you are eager to make a greater impact in your career, it would be my honor to be part of that process with you.  Please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at kay@highheeledsuccess.com, so we can empower you to achieve that goal.

©Copyright 2018.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.

Politics is a Mirror of Our Society

It’s election season and early voting is available in most states.  As I continue my life’s work to mentor women and guide each to achieve her own personal “High Heeled Success,” I’m hearing about more and more women running for office and engaging in the political process.  This inspires me!

This year is the 97th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage – women’s right to vote in the United States of America.  Women, it has not been that long, which is why it’s no surprise that women hold roughly 20 percent of elected positions at the federal, state and local levels.  And now, women are running for public office in record numbers.

Politics and women in public office is a mirror of the workplace and the rest of society.  There is definitely a gender bias when women run for office.  Women are not asked as frequently as men if they would consider taking on the challenge.  Women tend to think they’re not qualified enough, which is a problem men rarely have.  It’s harder for women to raise the funds needed to run a campaign.  These issues are the same, whether we’re talking about politics or the workplace.

Just as you face challenges in the workplace, you will experience similar challenges as you take on the political process.  Remember, however, the risks are worth the rewards.  At any given time, reassess your risk for seeking a political appointment or running for election.  In other words, what do you have to lose?

Please don’t be afraid of rocking the boat.  Remember, the women rocking the boat nearly 100 years ago were the ones who earned us the right to vote in this country.  When you stand up for yourself in traditionally male-dominated groups, you run the risk of being perceived as overbearing or nasty.  As long as you assess your risk and think it all through, you’ll be in good shape.

I also encourage you to support each other in political endeavors.  Men certainly support each other and help each other all the time.  Just like in the workplace, we need to do also do that in the political realm.

For example, help amplify other women and lift them up.  When another woman puts an idea out there by writing an op-ed or communicating with a political group, join the conversation and share your thoughts.  Just by responding, you validate her and make sure our place at the table doesn’t get lost.

Just like in the workplace, you need to call out blatant sexism in the political arena.  Women will be judged by different standards when they are running for office or succeeding in the workplace.  Be aware of it and don’t be afraid to speak up.

Being aware of these challenges is important, yet you still need to be both collaborative and competitive at the same time.  We can’t get anything done without learning how to do both.

To all the women running for office right now, I’m inspired by you and I’m proud of you.  In some ways, you’re taking on the most difficult glass ceiling to break.  I’m with you.  Now, don’t forget to vote on November 7 and let your voice be heard!

If you are eager to make a greater impact in your career, it would be my honor to be part of that process with you.  Please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at kay@highheeledsuccess.com, so we can empower you to achieve that goal.

©Copyright 2017.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.

Think Strategy Before You Say ‘Yes’

April was National Volunteer Month – a time to honor all the volunteers that contribute of themselves to improve our communities.  The month also brings attention to volunteer recruitment, so maybe you’ve been thinking more about how you might contribute your time and talent.  Our time is our most valuable gift, so I encourage you to differentiate strategic volunteerism that provides leadership enhancement opportunities vs. other volunteerism for altruistic reasons.

Volunteerism for altruistic reasons is personal and leads you to a cause that provides pure personal satisfaction, such as serving in a soup kitchen.  While this is very important too, I’ll focus on strategic volunteerism to help you choose volunteer positions with visibility in mind.

The most obvious and accessible path is to choose opportunities within your industry or field of expertise, such as a professional association.  An example would be women in commercial real estate getting involved with Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW).  Stepping up to serve in professional organizations is especially important if you’re working in a male dominated field, such as engineering.

Once you’re settled in a volunteer position, don’t be shy about it.  Broadcast your volunteer leadership roles in emails to the boss, at annual review time and even in social media.  Unfortunately, women are less willing to toot their own horns, yet we absolutely must to be recognized and advance.

Look around your community, read the news about accomplished business leaders and the organizations they serve.  If you are more thoughtful about determining who in a volunteer position is a powerful leader, then you can go after opportunities to lead with them.  Think about the leaders you want to know, and find a volunteer situation that meets your other parameters.

Some volunteer positions can help you advance professionally and gain certifications.  Toastmasters is the volunteer experience that provided this opportunity for me.  I was already a seasoned presenter when I joined Toastmasters 20 years ago; however, I was joining to further develop my leadership skills.

I believe I have held every office in our club, serving several terms as president.  Additionally, I served as an area director for our district.  My volunteer job was a perfect match for the skills I wanted to hone – to develop leadership in others.  In a volunteer organization, there are no bonuses or raises, so you must find ways to inspire your colleagues.

In my business, I wanted to become a leader of leaders, a developer of talent.  The goal to be able to recognize the spark, then fuel that spark into greater leadership.  Gradually, I developed step-by-step ways to hone in on the spark and groom the right person for leadership succession.

As I moved up to take more responsibility within Toastmasters, I became a more skilled delegator.  Eventually, I was an area director, overseeing several clubs, coaching and developing other leaders.  I had successfully leveraged my volunteer role with Toastmasters into one that provided exactly what I needed professionally.  I developed better delegation skills, better meeting planning and execution skills, effective talent search and development in creating a succession plan both as a president and as an area director.

While I was taking my own skills to a higher level, I was also helping others, which is the pure essence of volunteerism.  The opportunities with Toastmasters provided both the feel-good opportunity to volunteer and serve others at the same time I was growing my own skills and taking my leadership abilities to the next level.

If you are eager to make a greater impact in your career, it would be my honor to be part of that process with you.  Please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at kay@highheeledsuccess.com, so we can empower you to achieve that goal.

©Copyright 2017.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Underestimate The Power of One

We’ve been talking and posting on social media about #WomensHistoryMonth throughout March to celebrate the women who have blazed new trails throughout history and to increase awareness for the work that still needs to be done for each of us to reach our full potential.  This includes leveraging the experience of those who have gone before us through mentorship and support for other women.  When one of us wins, we all win!

Everyone is familiar with the “old boys network”.  If women are going to be successful, we need each other – we need to create the “new women’s network”.  While some women achieve success, and then want other women to have to “work as hard as they did”, it’s the true leaders that will encourage other women and help pull their chairs to the table.

We still have a lot of ground to make-up to reach C-Suite positions, upper level management and pay equity, so we must learn from each other along the way.  Take the time to seek advice from the one woman who has a seat at the boardroom table – she knows the players and the culture.  Men network and help each other, so women should do the same.

Most importantly, a woman boss or colleague who steps into that important mentor role for you could be the person that changes everything.  A good mentor can have many roles.  She (or he) can:

  • Advocate for you and open doors for you internally.
  • Introduce you to key people.
  • Provide inside information and help you learn the politics of your company or industry.
  • Help push you to the next level by shining a light on what you might not know about yourself.
  • Believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself.

When you’ve found that person, listen to her, appreciate her, because you might remember her for the rest of your life.  Personally, I met the mentor who would change the course of my life when there was a gap between my career in the mental health field and starting my own business.

During this period, I managed to land a position with the Flint River Girl Scout Council as a field director, and a woman named Gail Kirocofe was my direct supervisor.  I believed myself to be completely out of my element, with no experience hiring staff and managing the many details associated with being a camp director.

Every day, Gail reassured me that she knew I had the ability, strength and smarts to do the job.  She let me know that she wasn’t going to do it for me, but that she had the belief in me that I was fully capable of doing it myself.

In my effort to not disappoint her, I was able to dig deep and find what she saw in me.  I literally credit her with having a thumbprint on my success, which changed the course of my life.  Even though I was only with the Girl Scouts for two years, this story illustrates my conviction of the power of one mentor.  Gail believed in me, which gave me the confidence to raise my expectations for myself.  While I have had many mentors over the years, Gail was the one that touched my career at that pivotal moment.  When I left the Girl Scouts, I moved on to start my own business.

In 2015, the awareness of the impact Gail had on my life was particularly striking.  I was featured on an electronic billboard as a conference speaker in Pennsylvania.  Realizing how far I had come, I found Gail to let her know I would not have been on that billboard without her.  In her 80s, Gail became a children’s book author and was enjoying her next chapter of success.

When we talk about Women’s History Month and mentorship, don’t ever underestimate the power of one – that one mentor can have an astonishing impact on your life, your success and who you ultimately become.

If you are eager to make a greater impact in your career and be a game-changer, it would be my honor to be part of that process with you.  Please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at kay@highheeledsuccess.com, so we can empower you to achieve that goal.

Read Kay’s Corner in the March newsletter to find practical tips for mentoring.

©Copyright 2017.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.

Be Smart When Taking Risks

We all know that taking risks – the kind that will pull you into the C-suite or grow your business or simply change your outlook on risk-taking as a woman – is a defining characteristic for those who are successful.  When deciding whether this risk or that risk is the right thing to do, you should be aware of some basic concepts to help you examine your options and ask yourself the most important question, “Is this a Smart Risk?”

The risk can potentially be the kind that will give you the courage to jump to new levels, to go beyond what you thought was possible.  Many women tend to be cautious by taking baby steps, yet jumping levels is exciting.  Picture grasping the brass ring, the position you’ve always dreamed of having.  At this stage, ask yourself:

  1. “Do I have the skill set behind me to do the job?”
  2. “Can I gain the skills to do the job?”

If either answer is yes, it’s time to take the big step.

Men have no trouble thinking and believing that they are qualified for the next level.  In fact, a man will often believe he’s competent enough to advance having acquired one or some of the skills necessary for the next level.  While a woman will believe she’s qualified or ready to advance, if she has mastered ALL the skills in the job description.

For example, a woman often needs to be invited, and sometimes more than once, to take on a new and unfamiliar role, whether it’s being committee chair, advancing to the chief level at work or running for public office.  Have you ever heard a man say, “Oh, I couldn’t do that?”  Well, women, you shouldn’t either!

As a woman, whatever risk you’re considering will likely be a challenge to the way things have always been done.  Women have had to buck history for centuries, so don’t let the way things have been done in the past be your albatross for taking a risk.  Women also suffer from wanting to be liked, so please put that need on a shelf and look at your situation with new perspective.  When you do, you’ll realize you’re probably ready to take the risk.

Unfortunately, risk-taking has been suppressed in women since they were girls.  Think about it this way.  Parents, family members and school teachers more commonly discourage girls from taking risks, both academic and physical.

Personally, I was an only child and my parents were terrified something bad would happen to me.  My mom was always telling me to “be careful, be careful!”  Thus, I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was 12 years old, taught by my best friend in secret.  This issue requires consideration from two angles, how it affects our own decision-making and risk-taking as an adult professional, as well as how we may be doing our own daughters a disservice if we’re telling them to be careful all the time.

You will take smart risks when you have made sure your self-esteem is not wanting.  If you believe you’re struggling with low self-esteem, I have a must-read for you: Women and Self-Esteem: Understanding and Improving the Way We Think and Feel About Ourselves, by Linda Tschirhart Sanford and Mary Ellen Donovan.  Many women worry that they don’t deserve success; harbor fears that they are not bright enough, not talented enough, just not good enough.  This book examines how women’s harmful attitudes about themselves are shaped and offers concrete help to help build higher self-esteem.

When deciding whether to take a risk, assess the reality of the situation.  Remember, there continues to be a double standard for men and women in the workplace.  Failure is perceived differently for a man vs. a woman.  When a man fails, the failure is viewed as something that will be fixed and he is given another chance.  Unfortunately, when a woman fails, that failure hangs with her and she might be judged by it for much longer.  Like so many things, failure is viewed through a different lens for a man, than it is for a woman.

Risk-taking doesn’t always have to be in the workplace to empower you.  It’s possible to take a risk that helps you overcome a fear in your personal life.  With a lifelong fear of swimming, snorkeling in Jamaica made me feel incredibly empowered to take risks to advance my business.  Every time I look at the t-shirt, “I snorkeled the Cali wreck,” it empowers me to take additional risks!  Taking a step forward in terms of risk doesn’t always mean a workplace risk.  Anything that helps you flex your muscles will move you in the right risk-taking direction.

Read Kay’s Corner to find practical tips for SMART risk-taking.

©Copyright 2017.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.

Time Wasters – What’s Behind the Problem?

How long is your ‘To Do’ list?  More importantly, how long do the items on your ‘To Do’ list remain incomplete?  That’s a pretty tough question to answer honestly.  Our lists are only as useful as our ability to use them as an effective tool.  When we continue to add items to our list, rewrite them, categorize and recategorize them, but never accomplish our goals, it’s a problem.  As our list grows, stress and pressure tend to show up and take over; often unannounced and uninvited.  And that’s never a good thing.  As the tension mounts, we can become master procrastinators who have a very large chest of creative time wasters to avoid facing the stress.

If we dissect the actual word procrastinate, ‘pro’ means forward, and ‘crastinate’ means tomorrow.  It literally means favoring tomorrow as a better time for doing something.  When procrastinating getting to important responsibilities and tasks, we often fill our time with doing busy work.  An endless array of seemingly ‘urgent’ things need to ‘get done’ before we get to the work at hand.  Have you ever justified that something must be urgently done before beginning your ‘real’ work?  Things like cleaning a filing cabinet, desk drawers, running an important errand, going through email, or if you work from home, the endless call of housework can all produce the illusion of productivity.  We are deluded into thinking we are getting so much done because we are busy.  We try to convince ourselves that mindless activities and being busy equate to being industrious.  But, who are we kidding?  We can be very busy checking social media, but it is by no means productive.  So what keeps us ‘busy’ and procrastinating, instead of being truly productive?  There are some very strong underlying issues behind putting things off, and it’s important to identify and understand them in order to move beyond them.  In working with women who face procrastination issues, I’ve identified four recurring themes:  fear, indecision, boundary issues and feeling overwhelmed.  Let’s explore.

Fear is the most aggressive promoter of procrastination.  When a sizeable or high-profile project, presentation or campaign lies ahead, it can be daunting.  Fear creeps in our heads in the form of ‘what if’s’.  What if I don’t know how to do a certain part of the project and get stuck?  Some women fear that asking for help may be a sign of weakness, and poorly reflect on her leadership skills.  Fear also rears its ugly head when we can’t completely envision the finished product.  When the end game is out of focus, sometimes we fear we will miss something important, or make a lot of mistakes getting to the finish line.  The ultimate ‘what if’ fear is, ‘what if the job I do isn’t good enough?’  This is a fear of being ‘found out’ that we are really a fraud, or not quite the talented individual others believed us to be.

Together, these fears grip our psyche and can crush our spirit.  If we allow fear to overtake our thinking, the daunting feeling can paralyze us into oppressive procrastination.  The only thing that seems to shake people into action is a looming deadline or a worse fear of being perceived as incompetent.  However, these are negative motivators, and while they may force action, they also cause enormous stress.  Over time, that type of repetitive cycle can be harmful to our health, careers, and mental well-being.

Indecision often goes hand in hand with fear as an underlying reason for procrastination.  Every facet of our lives requires so many decisions, often on a daily basis, like ‘what am I going to make for dinner?’   Financial choices; spouse, family and children issues; health care; how we will spend our free time; and of course work and career decisions continually present themselves.  If the decision has potential life-changing implications, it can be a complex process to think through.  For example, if deciding between a career change, going back to school, or starting your own business; the decision factors and possible outcomes are almost innumerable. You could almost ‘what if’ yourself to death under the weight of the decision.  The ultimate ‘what if’ many people fear is ‘what if I make the wrong choice, and the outcome is less than perfect.  Then what?’  Some people think the wrong choice is almost worse than not making any change at all.  When the pain of our current only slightly uncomfortable, we can become complacent and rather than taking a risk, we remain indecisive.  The problem with indecision is that it can be a perpetual or very long term form of procrastination, and typically results in a fairly mediocre existence.  When you are inactive or stuck in an indecisive mode, you remain stagnant due to a lack of opportunities to grow.

Boundary issues can also really compound procrastination.  When we allow others to impose tasks upon us, or we feel obligated to help (when it’s not our job, or because we are a people pleaser), or we have trouble saying ‘no’; our to-do list can grow much bigger than our capacity.  Taking on others’ work is different from pushing ourselves to accomplish our own goals in that an outside force is now creating additional pressure.  Our own pressure, we can control to some degree.  However; when we take on the responsibility of others because of our own doormat-like behavior, the stress of it decreases both our capacity and our self-dignity.  Instead of holding our own, and owning our outcomes, not maintaining boundaries makes us beholding to others.  Being beholding is different than reporting to or answering to your manager, which is a relationship of give and take.  No, in a boundary-less situation where we are beholding to another, we give and give, but receive no benefit in return.  On the contrary, we receive only negatives; no affirmation, no formalized recognition, a decreased sense of self-worth, and less time for the things we need to accomplish.  This cycle lends itself perfectly to procrastinating doing the things on our own to do list or desk.

Lastly, the problem of feeling overwhelmed triggers one of two responses.  People either leap into action when their plate is full or feel paralyzed because they don’t know where to begin.  You’ve probably sat on each side of this table at one point or another.  People with organization or motivation issues frequently struggle with feelings of being overwhelmed.  The messages in their mind say “I don’t know where to begin,” or “I’m so far behind, I’ll never catch up. Why bother?”  This type of procrastination is one of the most difficult to overcome because it breeds anxiety.  The cycle can then become vicious; feeling overwhelmed – anxiety – depression – inaction and procrastination.

And to bring it full circle, when we procrastinate, we engage in time wasting activities that make us feel productive or busy, but which ultimately do not help us achieve our goals.  Granted many procrastination activities are not bad in and of themselves; it’s just that when they consistently take over as a top priority, it becomes a time waster and a problem.

In this issue of the newsletter, Kay’s Corner offers some actionable steps to assist in combating procrastination.  I have worked with many women on this issue.  If you feel you need to dig deeper on this issue, I’d be happy to work through it with you as well.  Please give me a call at 513-561-4288  or connect with me via email at Kay@highheeledsuccess.com so we can make a plan to move from procrastination to productivity together!

©Copyright 2016.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.

Self-Limiting Behaviors

Have you reached your full potential in your current situation? While my focus is typically on women’s career success, a personal life review (particularly at this time of year) also merits some healthy introspection. We were born with an unlimited capacity to think, create, achieve and love.  Through the innumerable situations we experience, we either ‘grow and go’ or ‘slip and slide’.  The difference in our reaction is locked within our thinking patterns and self-belief, which combine to form limiting behaviors that either propel us forward or keep us grounded firmly in fear.  A limiting behavior or belief can be like a broken record or set of tapes that play a continuous loop in our minds, typically in our subconscious.  They are riddled with negativity.  Sometimes we are vaguely aware of them, often they’ve been there for so long we just accept them as the norm.  Let’s explore.

What are the top limiting behaviors?  In my over 25 years experience in working with women in all levels of management, three limiting beliefs rise to the top again and again.  They play out in the professional world, to be sure, but can also play a significant role in our personal lives.

1.  Not enough self-love – This is the number one issue so many women face.  It’s also the best-kept secret many women hide.  You would be amazed at the number of powerful women I have coached over the years whose outward presence, confidence and communication style exude success.  Yet, when we dig a little deeper, sometimes just beneath that seemingly solid shell, what lies beneath is a lack of self-love.  The reasons are manifold; a childhood issue, an unresolved relationship, a past (perceived) unforgivable error, and the biggest culprit – the comparison game.

The common thread among each reason is also the most important yet challenging thing to accept; the past cannot be changed.  A perfect upbringing is virtually nonexistent. Relationships and errors of the past are ancient history; most often only thought of in the prisons of our own mind.  Granting forgiveness to someone that hurt you, or to yourself for a past error is one of the biggest gifts and favors you can give yourself.  Doing so enables negative feelings to flow out and positive thoughts and the beginning to self-love to take root.

You are a masterpiece of your past; from the genes you received at birth and the formative years of learning to life experiences and choices, you are who you are.  Small changes are possible, but for the most part what you see is what you get; both in the mirror and in your mind.  My point?  Stop the comparison game!  Embrace who and what you are (the good and bad) and use it all to the best of your ability.  You will never be the best ________________ or the worst ____________.  Fill in the blanks for yourself.  With almost 7.5 billion people on the planet and over 330 million in the US, this is an undeniable truth.  Accepting yourself as who you are and were created to be is the beginning of self-love and one step away from self-limiting behaviors.

2.  Not enough ‘other-love’ of other women – If we suffer from the comparison game (and I think it’s safe to say we’ve all afflicted at some point) it festers on the inside, but worse, it creates significant damage in its outward manifestation.  Negative thoughts and energy don’t just sit in a vacuum.  They flow outward and reach others whether in body language, written or verbal communication, or in the way we treat people.  And no one is immune.  Just as we have our own strengths and talents to use, the same is true for other women.  However, if you play the comparison game, it is one of the biggest barriers to collaboration, creativity, achieving a mission and bonding.

When we busy ourselves not liking ‘her’ because she speaks up for what she wants, maybe a better approach is to appreciate the assertiveness skills that can be helpful in bringing a negotiation to a close.  If you don’t like that ‘she’ is too bossy, try to appreciate that someone can lead others to get the job done.  Ultimately, remember that those same women (and men) all have their own insecurities and self-doubt.  This applies to women in all areas of our lives; business colleagues, relatives, neighbors, in volunteer situations, etc.

Instead, make a commitment to stop comparing, and replace those thoughts and feelings with acts and words of empowerment.  You will be amazed at the difference in your own thinking and feeling, in the relationships you have with other women, and in their behavior.  For example, when you publicly recognize someone for a job well done the positivity has a domino effect.  Your positivity reflects well on yourself and feels good, the recognition is both motivating and affirming to the person receiving it, and others are motivated to both do well and emulate your behavior.  Such positive outcomes won’t happen immediately or spontaneously, but over time the payout will create an environment where everyone feels more loved, accepted and able to reach their fullest potential.  Ultimately, working harmoniously and practicing ‘other-love’ for women will dispel and help eliminate limiting beliefs and thinking.

3.  Now, claim your power! – After clearing the way for positive thoughts for yourself and toward others by emptying out negativity and eliminating the comparison game, it’s time to claim your power!  That’s right!  Your power; it lies deep within you and was there from the moment your conception.  Think about it – what a process to become a human being.  That’s a lot of power. Learning to eat, talk, walk, run, think and other life skills; that all takes a lot of power.  When we are young and full of imagination, we believe we can do and become anything.  Yet, somewhere along the way, we begin to collect untruths, limiting beliefs and restrictive behaviors, which all combine to hold us back and restrain our power.

The good news is that the same power we were born with, tapped into as a young child and now call upon occasionally still resides within us.  But, oh do we have our reasons for letting it lie dormant.  Although we want to be successful in our career and other important areas of our lives, so many women hold back due to fear of success.  At first glance, it’s a paradox.  If we possess the power to achieve, what are we waiting for? Why hold back?

No one answer is the same or true for each woman, but I have discovered a common list:

  • If I succeed at first, how will I continue, and will I have the strength to keep it up?
  • What will others think of my success, and how will they treat me, especially if it means a promotion?
  • What if I claim my power and fail at what I try?
  • What if I make the wrong decision either in the short or long term?
  • It won’t feel safe or secure, and I will be out of my comfort zone.

Fear of failure or use of personal power often leads people to ask for more information before they will decide to move forward.  It makes people stuck.  If you feel stuck, I would love to help you work out a plan of success to move forward. Please give me a call at (513) 561-4288  or connect with me via email at Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or so we can tap into your power together!

©Copyright 2016.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.