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“Love is a binding force, by which another is joined to me and cherished as myself.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

Originally posted February 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day to YOU!Valentine Kitten

While most people think this day is strictly for those in a romantic relationship (and yes, that was and is the intent), it doesn’t have to be that way.  When we take a moment to ponder on the meaning of this day, it’s really about all our relationships and what makes those relationships good, great or not so good or great.

Have you ever equated the size of the gift or the number of flowers or the grand dinner and lavish desserts you give or receive with the amount of love given and received…or expected?  If you have, you’re not alone…I’ve fallen into this trap, too.  And it can leave one feeling deflated, disappointed or, dare I say it…not loved enough.

Today, spend a few moments away from the flowers and the chocolate and the surf n’ turf dinners and think about all those in your life where you want to be an active participant in that relationship – spouses, partners, parents, siblings, grandparents, children, grandchildren, friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, co-workers, acquaintances… and make those relationships better.

Here are 3 things that will help strengthen all your relationships:

  1. Communicate – Listen openly, without judgment or defensiveness.  Ask clarifying questions so you better understand the other person.  Be willing to lovingly share your thoughts and feelings, too.
  2. Respect – Honor those in your life for who they are, not what you want or wish them to be.
  3. Trust – Courageously be open, loyal and committed.  Do what you say you’re going to do and do so consistently.

Off to work on my own relationships….

May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love, light, joy and happiness!

Until next time…

P.S. — Want a better understanding of how a coach can help you improve your personal and / or business relationships?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary coaching session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

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“Travel lightly my friends.  Give up your unconscious pain and habits; they weigh you down.  Accept your birthright to be joyous and free.” 

~ Anonymous

Everyone experiences cognitive distortions.  Not everyone knows they have them and of those that do acknowledge their existence, not many people do something to challenge their cognitive distortions.  Of those individuals that put in the effort and practice daily, the results changed their lives.  Experience a life change by using the exercises below to weaken your cognitive distortions.

Remember, these are not one-time “cures”.  It takes work to give up your pain and the habits that hold you back.  It’s not about giving something up as much as it is giving yourself something of greater value in return.

  1. Identify Your Cognitive Distortions – List your troublesome thoughts and match them with the list of cognitive distortions. This exercise allows you to see the distortions you favor and allows you to think about your problem, challenge or predicament in more natural, realistic ways.
  2. Examine the EvidenceExamining your experience thoroughly helps you identify the basis for your distorted thoughts.  Example:  If you are very self-critical, then you want to examine a number of experiences and situations where you experienced success.
  3. Double Standard Method – An alternative to harsh and demeaning self-talk is to talk to yourself in the same compassionate, understanding and caring way you would talk with another in a similar situation.
  4. Think in Shades of Gray – Rather than think about your problem or challenge in an either-or polarity, evaluate things on a scale of 0-100.  When a plan/goal isn’t fully realized, think about and evaluate the experience as a partial success, again, on a scale of 0-100.
  5. Survey Method – Seek the opinion of trusted friends or relatives regarding whether your thoughts and attitudes are realistic.
  6. Definitions –  What does it mean to define yourself as “a loser”, “inferior”, “a fool”, “stupid”, etc.?  Examining these and other global labels will likely reveal they more closely represent specific behaviors, or an identifiable behavior pattern instead of you as the total person.
  7. Re-attribution – Rather than automatically blaming yourself for problems and predicaments, identify external factors and other individuals that contributed to the problem/challenge.  Your energy is best utilized in the pursuit of resolutions or ways to cope.
  8. Cost-Benefit Analysis – List the advantages and disadvantages of your feelings, thoughts and/or behaviors.  The cost-benefit analysis will help you determine what you are gaining from feeling bad, distorted thinking, and inappropriate behavior.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Tired of being at the mercy of your distortions?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

“Our destiny changes with our thoughts; we shall become what we wish to become, do what we wish to do, when our habitual thoughts correspond with our desires.”

~ Orison Swett Marsden

Allow me to give you the definition of “elevate”.

elevate – \ˈe-lə-ˌvāt\ – verb

  1. To raise to a higher place or position; lift up.
  2. To increase the amplitude; intensity, or volume of.
  3. To promote to higher rank.
  4. To raise to a higher moral, cultural, or intellectual level.*
  5. To lift the spirits of; elate.

I believe the choice of the word “elevate” as a verb, to put into action, is in complete alignment with understanding your thought processes and what you will want to do differently in order to create new habits of mind, new habits of thought, for you to continue to have a life that is filled with unlimited opportunities and untold success.  Even in these challenging economic times – the challenge is in how you think and respond to what’s happening in the financial markets today.

What better place and time to begin than by discussing those mental thought processes that can be constructive and destructive.  Let’s take a look at one in particular, but before we do, please consider the following questions and what your first thought, first answer is:

  • What impact is the current economy (rapidly rising gas costs, steadily increasing food prices, etc.) having on you in your personal life, your career, your job, and/or business life?
  • What’s going to happen if it stays the same or gets even worse in the next month?  The next quarter?
  • What options have you considered?
  • Are you open to possibilities?
  • Did you answer one, or any, question with a worse-case scenario?  Perhaps even thinking to yourself, it’s never going to get better?
  • Do you have difficulty reading the newspapers or magazines because of all the bad news?
  • Do you find yourself constantly being drawn in to the negativity and drama?
  • Do you grimace and moan when you listen to or watch the news reports on radio or television?
  • Are you losing sleep because of the worry and fear?
  • Have you ever wished you could just tune it all out and forget what’s going on in the world?  In your life?
  • Ever just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head instead of jumping out of bed and embracing the day?

This destructive mental process is catastrophizing, or imagined catastrophe.  Catastrophizing can be an habitual thought and occurs when we create worse-case scenarios and obsessively worry, even tormenting ourselves, over events that may or may not ever come to pass.  Mired in this destructive thought process, it can become difficult to even believe there’s another way to look at your situation or circumstance.  And the possibility of even a hint of having a possible solution may be simply laughable, sending you into a further downward spiral of fear, worry, anxiety and stress.

  • While your so caught up in worry, fear, anxiety and stress – catastrophizing – how many opportunities do you miss?
  • How many moments with your family, friends, and co-workers do you let go by because of the worry and fear?
  • How many times have you unintentionally ignored your loved ones because of stress?
  • How difficult is it for you to meet work deadlines because of anxieties?
  • When you’re barely making the deadlines, what is happening to the quality of your work?

What if you knew you could “elevate your mind” by changing the way you think about things?  Not solely through positive thought – by incorporating positive action.  Instead of wanting to run and hide and complain about the economic state, or any “state”, ask yourself what YOU can do to change the way you’re feeling about the situation, reacting to every piece of news or information you hear or read.  What opportunities can you see for YOU?  Can this time be used to get back in touch with the things that you value?  Spending more time with your family?  Turning off the television, the video games, computers, iPodsPads, mobile phones?  Plan special nights with family and friends – an old-fashioned game night or a pot-luck-themed supper?

Positive action or catastrophizing – what will YOU choose?  Are your habits of thought in alignment with your desires?

Begin to elevate your mind by choosing positive action.

Here are 3 suggestions to get you started:

  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken with in a long time.
  • Write and mail those thank-you notes.
  • Clear your office of the clutter – simply start with a desk corner.

What others can YOU think of?

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to know more on how you can practice positive action in all situations?  Schedule your complimentary coaching session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

P.P.S. —You’re welcome to share this article. When you do, include this complete blurb and the end of the article it:

“Would you like to learn more simple ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Over the course of the week, you’ve read a little bit about what the coaching profession is, what it has to offer you and/or your organization, as well as the value that coaching brings to your development, whether professionally or personally.

Hopefully, what you already know about coaching was reinforced or you became more aware of how you will benefit from engaging a coach.  And some of you still have more questions and a few of you are ready to hire a coach!

A Guide to Hiring a Professional Coach (click on title to download) will give you additional information and insight to get you started with the hiring process.

Thank you for celebrating with us this week!  The official celebration may be ending, yet it doesn’t have to end and the celebration can continue for you each time you come back and visit the Roots of Thought blog.

Take a moment to share your thoughts and comments.

Until next time…

P.S. — Still have questions?  Schedule your complimentary coaching session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

“It’s never to late to be what you might have been.”

~ George Eliot

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to achieve something extraordinary?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

As we wind down the week-long celebration of International Coaching Week, one question that comes up very often is, “How effective will coaching be and how will I know if it will be effective for me?”  This is a great question and it lets me know the person and/or organization is giving some thought and performing due diligence ensuring their energy, time and money are well invested.

The answer is not a simple one beyond, “Coaching is very effective and you’ll know because you’ll start doing things, thinking about things, and approaching circumstances in your life differently.  You’ll make better decisions for you, which in turn, can increase your earning potential, put you on the right career path, develop leadership skills, build more meaningful relationships with colleagues, co-workers, customers, friends and family.  And so much more!”

Sometimes what a person is really asking with the “effectiveness question” is, “How much more will I make?  How quickly will I get promoted?  How do I figure out what I want to be “when I grow up”?  How do I increase sales?  What do I do to get back on track with ______ ?  How do I get it all done?”  And the list of questions goes on, and on, and on.

Rather than try to convince you that coaching is very effective, here’s a presentation from the Lore International Institute given by Terry Bacon, Ph.D. and Anna Pool, MA, OD titled Can Coaching Effectiveness Be Measured? (Click on title to download)

In their presentation, effective coaching is defined as “…coaching that creates the right behavioral changes that lead to improvement in the client’s ability to impact bottom-line results.”

After you’ve read the report, take a moment and share your comments and thoughts.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to discuss how coaching can help you become more effective at what you do or what you want?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

Continuing our celebration of International Coaching Week, here are some thoughts and reflections.

It’s a bit of a snowy Wednesday here and I find myself thinking about some CHOICES that I’ll make a bit later today.  Like most of you, I’m going to do things based on what I feel is best in the moment I’m making those choices.  And if I’m not careful, I may even get “hung up” deciding what to do because certain thoughts might be flying in my brain space that would make it difficult to stay focused on what’s important.  Or, I may be supported by certain thoughts.  Rather than ramble on, here’s something that will help.

I’m reminded of an often told story, the Cherokee “Legend of Two Wolves”

One evening an old Cherokee looked into his grandson’s eyes and asked,  “My son, I see fear in your eyes what is troubling you.”

The boy responded, “Often I feel as if two wolves are living inside me, one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. But…the other wolf… ah! The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all of the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his pain and fear are so great.

“Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit and are always struggling against each other.”

With tears streaming down his face the boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one will win Grandfather?”

Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one you choose to feed.”

When life’s daily occurrences and events disrupt your schedule or get you out of balance, which wolf will you feed?

When there is conflict during your meeting and everyone is out of agreement, which wolf will you feed?

The next time someone interrupts you, which wolf will show up?

What will you reaction be when a customer is unhappy about a product or service you or your company provides?

When presented with a challenge, how will you respond?

Is your wolf one of exhaustion overwhelm, or chaos?  Perhaps your wolf is self-doubt, disbelief, and negativity?

Or, is the wolf of happiness, balance, order and structure showing up?  Is it the wolf of optimism, confidence, generosity and enthusiasm?

Which wolf will you feed today?

It’s a choice…YOUR choice.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to find some great-tasting wolf feed?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

As we celebrate International Coaching Week, it’s a great opportunity to re-acquaint with our foundation…our strengths…our VALUES.  Some might relate to this in terms of characteristics or attributes.  Whatever you call your “internal drivers”, today’s a great day to identify the basis for living your life.  And remember, your “life” encompasses all components and roles, such as your job, career, business, and areas of your personal life (not an all-inclusive listing), and the values you use in each and how you incorporate your values into all areas of your life.

Perhaps you’ve never taken a moment or five to actually go through a values-identifying exercise.  Now’s a great time to do just that.

Haven’t dusted off your list in a long time?  Today is a great day to do that.

Want to work on strengthening some of those values to become a better you?  There’s no better moment than right now!

Here’s something to get you started;  to help you re-evaluate; to give you some ideas about what you believe are your VALUES.  Click on this link, JTSample Values List, for your complimentary download and discover what matters to you.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want some assistance identifying and strengthening your values?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

The first full week in February is designated as International Coaching Week (ICW) and it’s a week-long global celebration designed for coaches and clients to educate others about the value of working with a professional coach (business, career, life, personal, development…and the list goes on) and to acknowledge the progress and results achieved through the coaching process.

I will be commemorating the event by participating in some pro bono activities throughout the week, of which you are the beneficiary!

Check back with the Roots of Thought blog often over the course of the week to take advantage of the great opportunities that will be presented.

To kick off the week, here are a few often asked questions about coaching:

  • What are the benefits of coaching?

Individuals who engage in a coaching partnership can expect to experience fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced thinking and decision making skills, enhanced interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence in carrying out their chosen work and life roles.

Consistent with a commitment to enhancing their personal effectiveness, they can also expect to see appreciable results in the areas of productivity, personal satisfaction with life and work, and the achievement of personally relevant goals.

  • What is the a coach’s responsibility in the coach-client relationship?

A coach should:

  • Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve;
  • Encourage client self-discovery;
  • Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies; and
  • Hold the client responsible and accountable.

Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives.  Ultimately, coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives.

Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs.  They seek to solicit solutions and strategies from the client; believing the client is naturally creative and resourceful.  The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.

Coaching honors the client as the expert in his/her life and work and believes that every client is creative, resourceful, and whole.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want some assistance going from reflection to resolution?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

As the year speeds to its end, we begin to mentally prepare for next year.  But don’t forget to take time to assess your personal and professional challenges and accomplishments THIS year.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What have I accomplished this year?  Be specific. Write it all down. Schedule some time to celebrate this!
  2. What have I learned this year?  What skills did you pick up? What emotional lessons?
  3. What got in my way?  This is where your work will be next year.  Be honest if it was your own self that got in the way.
  4. What are my immediate next steps to achieve these goals?
  5. What did I learn from those things that didn’t go as I expected this year?  When you take the time to absorb the lessons that the events in our lives come to teach us, you will not repeat the same mistakes repeatedly.
  6. What am I grateful for this year?  Make a list of at least 100 things that you are grateful for and watch more good things start coming into your life.
  7. On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied am I with how I spent the year?  Why?
  8. What do I want to accomplish next year, such that it’s my best year ever?
  9. What does it take to make me feel a 10/10 satisfaction level at the end of next year?
  10. What new habits do I want to cultivate that will help me achieve my goals in 2012?

When you take the time to answer these questions thoughtfully, you are taking the time to invest in yourself and your success.  Remember that ‘why’ that motivates you and use it to push you beyond the obstacles that will always pop up in your path.  True success is found only when you are willing to keep getting up after every setback.

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” ~ Hal Borland

Until next time…

P.S. — Want some assistance going from reflection to resolution?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

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