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Creating Successful Leaders

the power of hope

If you’ve been troubled by how people have been treating each other (with so much political divisiveness and name-calling lately), don’t give up hope. Your hope is powerful, and it CAN make an enormous difference.

Even in the darkest times, we can find sparks of hope. A single candle can illuminate a dark room in the same way that a grateful thought or an inspiration can illuminate a mind. Although the science is still fresh, research is starting to find that hope is a powerful factor in lifting people out of poverty, motivating people to find work, and encouraging investment (financially, educationally, or otherwise) in the future.

In a study on poverty, the researchers found that, “families that are stressed and impoverished — trapped in cycles of poverty — can feel a hopelessness that becomes self-fulfilling. Give people reason to hope that they can achieve a better life, and that, too, can be self-fulfilling.

Hope is self-fulfilling.

If we all decide to be hopeful about a better, brighter future, we CAN make that happen. We’ll be propelled into action and motivated to keep going, to keep trying. On the other hand, if we choose to have a defeatist attitude and believe there’s nothing good in our collective future…well, that, too, can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When you have hope, you ask yourself constructive questions such as “What if..?” and “How will I…?” If you hold the belief that you can do something, you start seeing the paths of possibilities.

I challenge you today to think about what you’d like in your life, and what you’d like for others. Focusing on a smaller scale, ask yourself: What are my personal goals? How do I envision my future?

Then, zoom out your lens and focus on your community, or even your nation. What are your wishes for others? What are your hopes for the next generation, and the one after that? What does an ideal community or nation look like?

Start thinking about your goals and dreams as REAL possibilities, instead of wishes. By changing your mindset to a “How can I…” instead of a “I couldn’t possibly…” you’ll start finding ways to make your goals happen.

Our minds can do amazing things. If you find yours blocked by pessimistic thoughts, try focusing on the possibilities buried within the doubt. Find hope in your life and see where it can take you.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.


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Fall coffee and book

A version of this blog post was first published in 2016, but the core message resonates today more than ever. Many of my friends and acquaintances are on-edge lately, wondering how the upcoming U.S. presidential election will turn out, and what will happen in its aftermath. All that tension and fretting can definitely lead to negative health effects.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.” It can lead to muscle tension, digestion issues, and headaches.

Stress can also affect those around us.

When we’re stressed, we tend to lash out at others more. Or, we disengage and have trouble being present. We tend to get wrapped up in our own tension when we’re stressed and therefore do not give others the full attention and consideration they deserve.

The other thing about stress…it helps nothing and no one. Your stress will not solve problems or inspire positive change. Instead of fixating on your worry or angst, try funneling it into action. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on that very subject, if you’d like to check it out.

How can you keep your stress at bay and become more centered, healthy, and positive? Here are a few ideas:

Breathe.

Take time to step away from stressful situations and focus on your breath. It only take a few seconds and it WORKS. If you’d like, download a meditation app on your phone (such as HeadSpace), and let it be your guide.

Exercise.

Go for a long walk, hit the gym, or ask a friend to go to yoga class. Movement gets your blood flowing and reduces stress. It also releases endorphins, which will give you a little boost of happiness.

Step Away.

Unplug from social media, put your phone on airplane mod, and turn off the TV. If bad news and social media spats are stressing you out, it’s a good idea to remove that negative stimuli for a while. Do your best to tune in in small doses–your mental health will thank you!

Treat yourself!

Pamper yourself a little. Plan to take a long bubble bath, ask your partner for a back rub, or schedule a relaxation night filled with movies, a facial mask, and tasty treats. You might also order food from your favorite restaurant and serve it on your nice dishware. Be sure to put your plans on your calendar so they actually happen.

Eat well.

Good nutrition can increase our energy, improve digestion, and reduce headaches. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reminds us to avoid high-fat foods (like pizza and mac ‘n’ cheese) when we’re feeling stressed because “they can make us feel lethargic and less able to deal with stress.”

Practice quiet time.

Read a book, knit, bake a pie. Do something that you love and DO NOT feel guilty about taking “you time.”

Invest in yourself.

If your stress reaches serious levels, you may want to consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor to get yourself back on track. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. If this is more than “a little stress,” reach out and seek help immediately.

Your mental and physical health is directly tied to your stress levels. Don’t let the impending election drag you down! Take time to respect yourself and your wellbeing. Doing so will help set you up for success in the months to come.

Here’s to you and your health!


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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We live in a world where kindness is often lacking. We tend to dwell on differences–the things that divide us–instead of finding commonalities or learning to listen to others’ points of view. The tendency to see people as “others” has led to many a fighting match on social media, and that tension is now reaching a fever pitch with the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

In this contentious and often heated atmosphere, it’s easy for people to lose their tempers, become defensive, and begin name-calling and initiating personal attacks. This kind of response will lead nowhere, of course, but it is a natural, knee-jerk reaction.

How do you step back from the fray and choose kindness over maliciousness?

1. See Humanity

Instead of making snap judgments and generalizations, I encourage you to pause, truly consider the other person’s point of view, and begin to develop understanding and empathy. It helps to view that person behind the screen as a HUMAN BEING–someone with a family, pets, a mortgage, grocery bills, and health concerns. Someone with hopes and fears.

When we start to see Twitter usernames and Facebook profiles as people (bots excluded!), we can begin to treat them with dignity. Surely, if you were having a face-to-face conversation with someone at a restaurant, you wouldn’t begin calling them nasty names (hopefully not, anyway!). You would do your best to keep the conversation civil or steer it in another direction.

2. Know When to Fold ’em

Sometimes, stating (or reiterating) your point of view is futile. If someone has demonstrated that they are wholly unreceptive to your perspective, gracefully exit the conversation. End on a high note; something like: “Thank you for your thoughts. I don’t agree, but I’m happy you shared them with me.” Then, leave.

Exiting toxic conversations isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s simply recognizing that you’re talking past one another and going nowhere. Better to excuse yourself and move on.

3. Take the High Road

When others resort to name-calling and shouting, don’t go there. Vow to take the high road and be the adult in the room. Hopefully, your behavior will inspire others to do the same but, if not, there’s no shame in ditching the conversation (see point #2). Better to spend your time and energy elsewhere.

4. Pay Attention to Tone

When you post something on social media, is your tone contentious and one-sided? Or is it respectful/factual? If you’re belittling or putting down a group of people, that will only invite arguments and cause contention.

Rather, stick to the facts and avoid personal attacks. No one likes to hear that their beliefs make them “evil” or “stupid.”

5. Engage Others One on One

The best way to truly understand another’s perspective is to engage them one on one, in private. Start a private chat, or take it a step further and invite them to talk over a video chat or in person (if they are a friend, and if you feel comfortable doing so). Let the person know that you’re aiming to understand, and you hope that they, too, will be open to hearing your point of view.

6. Make Kind Gestures

There is a big, wide world beyond social media. Let your kindness emanate beyond the screen, and practice little acts of kindness. Rake an elderly neighbor’s lawn, pay for groceries for the young mother at the grocery store, donate your time or money to a nonprofit, etc., etc.

If you’d like to show kindness to your colleagues or friends, send them personalized notes, telling them why you are grateful for their presence in your life.

In the world of social media, share uplifting, kindness-focused pieces of news and pictures. You don’t have to sugar coat things, but it IS an act of kindness to give people joy and hope every once in a while!

These actions (whether in person or virtual) have a way of spreading. Make an extra effort to be kind this month, and notice how it tends to comes back to you.

The world needs your kindness. Let’s all make an effort to find common ground. Take the high road. Reach out. Be a kind, decent human being.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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