What sets you off? And! What can you do about it?!

seeing-red

Are you actively aware of the environmental happenings around you that prompt you to become internally frustrated or worse, to outwardly act out?  “Triggers” is how author Marshall Goldsmith describes them in his recent book of the same name.

Whatever you call them, they are those moments that bring out the worst in you.  The more you understand what causes them, the more you can begin to self-talk your way into preparing a better reaction to help you calm down and not over react.

One of my triggers is when I encounter a “no-can-do person.”  You know them.  Those people that robotically cite a nonsensical policy or refuse to exert a tad bit more energy finding a solution to a small problem. Yes, it’s the small things that sometimes get us the most, isn’t it?

Take the true time I was at a small café in Romania, (I am not blaming the whole country for this incident, of course, merely setting the scene).  The café’s window advertised a “soup and sandwich” special.

“I’ll take the special, please,” I said.

“No, it’s not possible,” the waiter flatly replied. “We’re out of the soup.”

Hungry and eager to get anything, I suggested, “Okay, then I’ll just take a sandwich.”

“As I said, that is not possible. We’re out of soup,” was the incredible retort.

“But can’t you just make me a sandwich on its own?” I prompted (starting to feel that trigger blood pressure rise).

“No. We cannot make sandwiches until we first make more soup to go with it,” was the honest-to-trigger-happy final response I received.  I say final, because immediately after that I turned on my heels and left.

The café chose to let a potential customer leave, rather than make a sale.

Here in Nigeria, where I am spending the week touring the country leading training sessions on Leadership and Communications, I encountered a similar “no-can-do” person at the Port Harcourt airport.

Last year in Port Harcourt - looked a lot like this year - except for one thing!
Last year in Port Harcourt – looked a lot like this year – except for one thing!

We had just snapped a photo of our team upon arrival when a non-smiling young man approached us.

“You cannot take photos here. Delete that,” he said.

“Why not?” I asked, trying to engage him.  “We took them right here last year.”

“But can you please tell me the reason?” I pressed. “Is there a manager I could speak to?”

A nearby older man came over and completely agreed with the younger man.

“Delete that and I need to watch you.”

I was about to persist, when from my right came a voice of reason.

Gina, let it go. It’s not worth it. Remember our mission.”

My co-trainer, colleague, and friend  – better known as the acclaimed Nigerian executive, leadership coach and keynote speaker that he is, Richmond Dayo Johnson – reminded me of what was important.

Don’t try to reason with the unreasonable.  Get on with the important things in your life. For me, having that photo was not one.

So, now, I am happily posting our team photo from Port Harcourt from last year! And I am also thanking, RDJ, and Marshall Goldsmith and others who remind us to remember to stay focused on the important things and not get distracted by the chaos around us.

Just another day in Naija
Just another day in Naija

Life can be chaotic.  As I look outside my window on the Nigerian street scene passing by, I see Hawkers squeezing between the jammed traffic, trying to sell figs or biscuit or bottles of water. I see crowded market stalls teeming with people.  It’s a bit chaotic, but believe it or not, it is largely calm.

People are going about their day.

In the past year, our team coordinators, Omon and Ibukun, have each been robbed in their cars; Omon was robbed by gunpoint.  And yet, they go on.  They are here. Committed to helping us bring leadership and communications training to hundreds of college leaders around their country.

How dare I get deterred by an unjustly deleted photo?

But you know it happens to you too, doesn’t it? The car that cuts you off when you’ve politely signalled your intention to change lanes.  The clerk at the DMV who turns you away for whatever miniscule reason without any emotion at all.  The work associate who has still not read your email.

We all have our triggers.  But, honestly, unless you’re a Syrian refugee, battling a life-threatening illness, or grappling with a small handful of extreme life-impacting events, you’re probably doing okay.

  1. Catalog your triggers.  
  2. Take note and consider alternative ways to react. 
  3. And count your blessings it’s not worse.

Always learning and growing! Here’s to making it a great week.

Greetings from Nigeria,

At Saturday's Port Harcourt Training session - where cameras WERE allowed.
At Saturday’s Port Harcourt Training session – where cameras WERE allowed.

Kindly,

Gina

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

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How to Power UP your bio!

If you don’t have a powerful bio, it’s time you do.

Power up!
Power up!

Yesterday, one of my executive clients was a bit overwhelmed upon reading the new “powered-up” bio I had drafted for him.

“It’s the first time someone has written about me like that,” he said.  “I don’t know if I’m ready to view myself that way.”

But after serving nearly 20-years as a professional educator, my client had acquired more than simple experience.

He had demonstrated real strategic success – by launching new curriculum programs which other institutions modelled, by being appointed to top leadership on school boards, by guiding national conferences which expand impact with each year.

So, among other the descriptors I deployed in his new bio, is the word “expert.”  It’s a word not to be taken lightly, but it is a powerful word that you may consider using too.

Take a quick read of your current bio.  How does it read? Is it a boring list of places you worked? Or is there a real story of your accomplishments using active and colourful verbs and descriptions.  Have a friend read your bio and get their opinions, too.

If you have a Linked In or Twitter profile you already have a micro-bio.   How do they reflect upon your professional brand?  Now, aim for two more:  one at about 100 words and then another that’s a one-pager.  Ready?

Here are my quick tips:

  1. Grab the audience right away. Think of this as the “lede” in a news story.  What is your professional point of distinction?  Make this sentence sing and your reader will be inclined to read further. Make this sentence the boring same-old-same old, and your reader will drift off mentally if not physically.
  2. Use Superlatives.  What are you great at? Then tell us. Words like “premier” “best” “recognized” or “number 1” may seem over the top to you at first, but they do get attention.  Yes, I know we’re taught not to brag, but if you’re not lying, your bio is the time to show pride!
  3. Tell a short story to illustrate an achievement. If you’re listing that you’re on the board of an organization, try to add a quick sentence or two in your longer bio that describes something innovative or extra cool that you did while in that role.
  4. Add some fun. Did you once win a national spelling bee? Place second in a science fair? Were you a blue ribbon flower arranger at the county fair?  (that one is me) Do you play a mean harmonica?  Adding something unusually interesting or fun helps bring you to life as a person and that helps people remember you.

Remember, like a good novel, a good bio should be a compelling, rich story: of you.

Creating a dynamic professional bio is an exercise in developing self confidence.  And self confidence  is a skill that can be learned.  One of the first steps, is learning to be comfortable talking (and writing) about yourself in a powerful way.

Just as it’s time for my client to become comfortable writing and thinking of himself as an “expert,” it’s time for you to consider owning your achievements too.

Be accurate. But don’t shy from tooting your own horn. If you don’t, who will?

 Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

How to be Determinedly Optimistic!

Lulu's first day back to school and yes, she needed a scarf! We're in Ireland!
Lulu’s first day back to school and yes, she needed a scarf! We’re in Ireland!

“How was your summer?” The friendly barista at my gym here in Ireland asked me.

“Good really, I certainly can’t complain,” I replied.

“No one would listen anyway,” he added chuckling.

I thought about that.  It’s true. We really don’t want to listen to people who complain.  Yet, why do so many of us continue to keep up the constant drum-beat of negativity.

You know the types.  Every business project is overwhelming. Every boss doesn’t understand them.  Their aches and pains. The traffic. The weather.

Ah, the weather.  That’s an especially good subject being the transplanted American living here in Ireland now.   Just over a week ago, I was wrapping up a wonderful month in the US – speaking and training at conferences and then spending time with family and friends in the hot and humid Midwest.   We wore sleeveless shirts and sandals.

Now, I’m back in Cork, Ireland where the clouds are almost always moving.  I wake up and there’s sun and by the time I make the bed, the wind and rain have swept in.  Then five more minutes and the sun breaks out again –complete with rainbow.  Last week, I saw three rainbows in one day. No kidding.

The Irish are what I like to describe as “determinedly optimistic” about weather.  They make up funny sayings about it like,

We have four seasons in one day.

Or

 What are an Irish person’s two favorite days? Christmas and summer.

When our plane landed, my daughter, Lulu, and I quickly put on the sweaters we had brought with us for our walk across the brisk and breezy tarmac to the customs and baggage claim terminals.

Yesterday was her first day back to school.  She wore her school’s “summer uniform” which, naturally, comes complete with matching cardigan.  Lulu also reached for a white scarf with dragonflies on it. She wrapped three times around her neck.  She was ready to go and she was happy – no matter what the weather.

After I dropped her off, I zipped over to the shopping center for a few items before getting to work. I noticed other ladies at the shops were also wearing brightly colored scarves.  And sleeveless shirts. And sandals.

It was if they were proclaiming, “The calendar still says it’s summer, no matter what the weather may feel like.”

This week Time magazine is listing 13 ways to be a better human being.  It starts from within. From our attitude to our work, our family, even the weather.

What are we proclaiming every day?  Are we being determinedly optimistic or are we constantly complaining?

Who is listening to us?  What opinions are they forming?

It’s up to you, isn’t it? I say,

Grab a proverbial scarf and keep going!

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.