Self-Awareness Workshops

Team Building and the Importance of Everyone Being on the Same Page

A frequently overlooked detail of team building is that it is most effective when everyone is on the same page.  If you’ve ever tried to build a team and had it go off course due to one or two individuals you can be quite certain it’s because not everyone is on the same page and practicing the same behaviors.  For example: You’ve worked diligently to create a great team and then someone else joins the group who throws everything off-balance.  Perhaps the person has a strong personality or different vision, he or she can make the whole team unravel.

The effect on teams of having even one person who isn’t fully on board with the process is that your team is only as strong as that person.  This happens a lot in organizations where much of the decision making is done by one leader and not by a team.  In workplaces like that you get teams that function based on the perspective of one person rather than the input of many.

The challenge in team building is to create an environment where everyone has an important voice and is an equal part of the group instead of having one or two people making decisions for everyone else.  A positive way to help your team members get on the same page is to set some basic guidelines for participation.  Train everyone so that they understand that everyone’s voice is equal and that no one person is more valuable than the next.  Make sure you have a  in your meetings who understands how to get rid of power differentials and the interactions that sidetrack successful team meetings.  If a new person joins the group, bring them into the process and train them on the guidelines as well as encouraging team members to model positive behaviors.  If someone insists on derailing the process keep reiterating the group guidelines and practicing the positive behaviors.  Team building isn’t a one-shot process, it takes time and deliberate effort to make it work.

The idea with team building is to create an atmosphere where everyone feels included, valued, important and comfortable participating.  This allows leaders to build teams that aren’t derailed by a strong personality or power differentials and, instead, move toward groups where everyone is highly motivated to participate.  When everyone on the team is invited and encouraged to provide input you and your organization can achieve greater success because everyone will feel like contributing.  What will you do to create stronger teams?

Take care,


The Secret to Developing Self-Awareness

Developing self-awareness means moving from living unconsciously to thinking, feeling and behaving intentionally. Countless people live their lives stuck in their comfort zones, repeating behaviors that don’t make them happy and not realizing they have other options. Here are five ideas to help you develop your self-awareness and improve the quality of your life:

  1. Be willing to look at yourself. You can’t live deliberately if you don’t take a look at and understand who you are as a person. Make it a habit to continuously assess what you do well and what areas need some strengthening.
  1. Examine your thoughts. Which of your thoughts help you succeed or make you happy? Which ones hold you back or keep you from living authentically? Evaluate how your thinking affects your life, keep what works and get rid of what doesn’t.
  1. Examine your emotions. Learn how to acknowledge and feel all of your emotions, not just the ones you’re comfortable with. Heal and bring closure to challenging issues or past hurts in your life. The more you learn how to feel and appropriately manage your emotions, the healthier and more balanced you’ll be.
  1. Examine your behaviors. There are things you currently do that yield excellent results and some that keep you from working on your dreams. Keep the behaviors that help you live meaningfully and let go of the ones that lead you off course.
  1. Be willing to make changes. It’s very difficult to grow in any way if you don’t believe change is possible or vital to your personal development. There is always something you can fine tune so you can become stronger and better able to live a fulfilling life.

Self-awareness matters because, when you understand yourself deeply, you’re able to live consciously instead of haphazardly. It’s the difference between stumbling through life repeating the same patterns and creating your own destiny. What will you do to keep developing your self-awareness?

Take care,


How to Fix Workplace Problems

During my training seminars the theme of how to fix workplace problems arises frequently.  We tend to be fixers in our culture and, from an early age, we are taught to confront any problem with an immediate fix.  This greatly affects how we deal with challenges in our workplaces.  If a colleague asks us for help or just wants us to listen to him or her we often jump to an unsolicited fix.  When employees talk with us about our behavior we frequently react by looking for a fix rather than learning more about ourselves.

We do a whole lot of fixing and not as much thinking and reflecting.  This leads to an approach to workplace interactions where everyone reacts to everything rather than pausing a bit and doing some thoughtful planning beforehand.

While I like resolving issues as much as the next person it’s also important to devote some attention and importance to just working on things without fixing them immediately.  The next time someone comes to you with a problem in your workplace, consider the following possibilities:

1.  Listen without interrupting or offering advice.

2.  Give yourself permission not to fix anything.

3.  Let the person talk to you freely and give them the time to do so.

4.  Even if you disagree, don’t rebut or become defensive.

5.  Learn to recognize the things that trigger your defensiveness or anger.

6.  Offer to listen to the person again in the future.

7. Always remain calm and kind.

The act of listening changes the whole dynamic in workplace interactions.  Suddenly you can learn what other people really think and simply bond with them.  This strategy is different because it requires that, instead of talking or jumping in, you just let someone else tell you about the things they find meaningful.  This approach greatly reduces hurt feelings and anger because it encourages you to react calmly to anything another person says and helps the other person feel important.  What will you do to fix problems in the workplace more effectively?

Take care,


Leadership, Empathy and Workplace Relationships

It’s easy to become so focused on your own perspective that you forget that other people exist and you become a benevolent Tyrannosaurus walking around telling people what they should think and do.  This approach works really well if you have a workplace where only you work there but is less effective if anyone else is involved.  A lot of the interpersonal issues that arise in the workplace are due to leadership that doesn’t understand that people perform better when they’re listened to, valued and understood; treated with empathy.

In workplace relationships, walking in someone else’s shoes can help you practice empathy towards others and understand them better.  Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s experience and point of view and it’s useful in the workplace because it allows for deeper interactions and connecting with people on a meaningful level.

In various leadership workshops, participants ask me why their employees or c0-workers behave a certain ways and what they can do about it.  This is a great opportunity to introduce the idea that they can put themselves in that person’s shoes and learn about them without projecting their own needs and ideas on them.  Try a few of the following things to increase your empathic ability:

  1. Listen actively without talking.
  2. Put yourself in that person’s situation and imagine you’re going through the same thing.
  3. Ask questions that allow the person to tell you more about himself or herself instead of yes and no questions.
  4. Keep in mind that what you’re hearing isn’t about you; it’s about them.
  5. Try to accept anything the person says as simply their reality rather than something you have to react to.

Try these ideas over a period of time.  Empathy is about really understanding that there are other valid points of view in the world.  Those perspectives may not be yours but they mean as much to the other person as your worldview does to you.

Once you’re able to connect with someone else’s reality, you’re on your way to genuinely understanding other people and showing them that you respect their point of view and experience.  The result will be that you’ll connect with people more easily and work with them more effectively.  Imagine a workplace where you actually understand why people do the things they do.  What will you do to practice empathy in your workplace?

Take care,


What is Your Dream Life?

Our dreams are a reflection of who we really are. I’m not talking about the dreams where you are riding a horse through the shopping mall, these are the dreams about what you really want to do with your life. These dreams come from a genuine place inside you and reflect your true self. Perhaps they link you to when you were a child and wished you would be an actor or when you graduated from high school and anticipated being a great mathematician.

Then life gets in the way but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can literally tap into your dreams at any time and give them the prominent place in your life that they deserve. Ask yourself the following questions as you connect with what you really want to do with your life.

1. If money or subsistence were of no concern, what would I do with my life above all else?

2. What am I really good at that brings me joy and I could do forever?

3. What career path would bring me true joy in life?

4. What can I do for hours without thinking about time?

The answers to these questions will help you start steering your life toward what you really want to do. You call the shots and get to decide in what direction you move. You choose whether you follow the path toward your dreams or follow an alternate course. I wish you great success in your journey.

Take care,