Hi team, Mary here! We have had a pretty crazy year. Between the pandemic, civil unrest, and elections, it seems emotions are always running high. But in the month of giving thanks, I would like us all to reflect on that which we are grateful for. In times of uncertainty and stress, it can be easy to look at the past or future and wish for better, but that takes us away from the present moment. I implore you to focus on that which you do have, in the now. Showing gratitude for the positive parts of your life will help you remain positive and content overall.
What is Gratitude?
Most individuals believe that showing gratitude is the same as showing thanks. While being thankful is synonymous with showing gratitude, there are some subtle differences. Being thankful is when you acknowledge what someone or something has done or given you. For example, when your co-worker brings coffee to work for everyone, you may respond with, “Thank you!” Gratitude, on the other hand, is a feeling that is much deeper. It goes beyond the simple, verbal “thank you” and involves having a deeper appreciation and love for that person, event, or thing. It’s a deep emotional response that you feel down to your core, and the feeling lingers much longer than the “Thank you!”
If you’re someone who doesn’t have or express a lot of emotions, the differences between showing gratitude and being thankful might be difficult to grasp. You can still show gratitude and be mindful about how you conduct yourself in showing thanks while not feeling the deep emotional sense of gratefulness. Showing gratitude for the things and people in your life requires that you remain mindful of yourself and your surroundings. So, if you’re someone who has difficultly feeling or expressing emotion, meditation and mindfulness might be the solution for you showing gratitude.
Mindfulness is a school of thought that can be expressed in several ways but boiled down it’s just about remaining aware of yourself, how you’re feeling inside, and remaining cognizant of the influence you have. Some people practice mindfulness by meditating while others may practice mindfulness by reading self-help books or engaging in self-education. Mindfulness is kind of what you want it to be, as long as you can stay grounded in who you are and how you influence the world around you. Staying mindful just means that you stay aware. It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect because none of us are. It means that if you identify an opportunity for growth, you try to grow positively.
Being humble goes hand-in-hand with showing gratitude. If you are boastful, you are certainly not being mindful. You might have a little or you might have a lot, but no matter what you have, it’s important to remain humble in those feelings. There are always going to be those who are less fortunate than you. Remaining humble and showing gratitude for what you do have in life will help you remain more content. Instead of constantly chasing greener grass or looking back on better times, find peace in where you are at in life. By showing gratitude, and feeling the weight of that gratefulness, you will inherently become humbler. Gratitude itself is a humbling feeling.
Focusing on what we do have rather than what we don’t have is how we can all live more content lives and spread a positive influence. When we feel grounded with where we are, we feel better about ourselves. When we feel good, we spread that good feeling to those around us. In the month of thanks, take some time to show deep gratitude towards those who have positively influenced you. You may even show some gratitude towards those who have been a negative influence in your life; sometimes negativity can make us better as humans and that is something to be grateful for. If you’re looking for more ways to be a positive influence and help spread the love, check out our Influence page! We have tons of examples of positive influence for children, your professional life, and your personal life.
I want to express my deepest gratitude to anyone out there who has read this blog, our book, followed us on social media, watched our vlogcast, and supported our efforts to spread a positive influence by teaching people how to be better leaders. You’re the reason I get up in the morning and why the sun will shine again tomorrow. You give my life purpose and meaning, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to help anyone grow in their positive influence. So, how about you? What are you grateful for? Namaste, team.
Hi team, Mary here! With 2021 right around the corner, I’m sure some of you are looking ahead to better and brighter days. One of the things I love most about a new year is how excited people get about their new year’s goals! (Notice how I said “goals” and not “resolutions.”) Unfortunately, approximately 80% of people give up on their new year’s goals by February! Hence, why I refuse to call them resolutions.
Creating new year’s resolutions is usually about building healthier habits. One of the most popular is going to the gym regularly. Habits take discipline and dedication to take root in your life, so they become automated. It’s estimated that actions take 21-60 days of repetition to firmly become habits. Usually, these habit-forming resolutions are abandoned, for one reason or another, and forgotten about until the next new year comes along.
I believe creating healthy habits starts with dedication to yourself. You start forming new habits because you know they will be good for you but can become discouraged if you miss a day or multiple days, giving up on the habit creation altogether. When dedicating yourself to making new and healthy habits, you need to employ some empathy for yourself too. Don’t feel discouraged for not being perfect. Instead, feel uplifted and remember why you set out to start creating a new habit in the first place. One of the best ways to start creating new habits is to evaluate the ones you currently have.
Evaluate Current Habits
When you decide it’s time to add new habits into your routine, the first thing you need to do is evaluate your current habits. Some habits are completely automated and perhaps even subconscious (like, biting your nails) while others are intentional (like going to the gym). Subconscious habits are usually harder to spot as they are typically performed while in the subconscious-mode state. Nonetheless, write down and evaluate all your current habits that come to mind. You can add to this list over time as you discover some of the smaller subconscious habits you have. After you have your list, you will want to determine which of those habits are negative influences on you. Do away with negative habits to make room for positive, healthy ones.
Build Healthy Habits
Building healthy habits starts with dedication to yourself and pursuing a better life. It might be helpful for you, when you decide to create a new habit, to write yourself a note to encourage your future self to stick with it! We often forget why we set out to create new habits but reading a letter from your past self could help keep you on the right path. Even if you make a mistake, pick yourself back up and keep trying. The only person you let down by not sticking to better habit development is yourself. Wayne Dyer once said, “You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, ‘I release the need for this in my life.’”
Sometimes building new, healthy habits is hard if you don’t know where to start! One of the programs we are part of, ProHabits, makes healthy habit development a breeze. ProHabits sends you a daily MicroAction, either in a text or email, and you focus on performing that small action that day. Each MicroAction takes only 5-10 minutes per day and it corresponds to the habit track you choose. Some examples of tracks they have include leadership, mindfulness, and empowerment. They have a basic program with their stock tracks, but we partnered with them through IA Business Advisors to bring our clients specialized tracks based on The I in Team Series. If you want some help learning where to start with healthy habit development, ProHabits is the place for you. Just ask us how you can sign up!
Make a Routine
Once you know what healthy habits to put in place, you will want to schedule them into your daily routine. If you can fit in these new habits with ones you already have or during a time when you are already doing stuff for yourself (like, getting ready in the morning), you will have an easier time remembering to perform the habit each morning. For example, when I wanted to make the habit of taking my new vitamins every morning, I put my vitamin container next to my contact lens case. Therefore, when I put my contacts in, I would see the vitamins and remember to take them. Consider writing a sticky note to yourself and sticking it somewhere, like your bathroom mirror! Or, if you’re addicted to your phone like many of us are, finding a habit tracking/creating app or using your calendar or reminder app to help you might be your best route!
Habit development isn’t an easy task. It takes time, discipline, and desire to change. With the new year right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start considering your current habits and some goals you have for your future. Keep in mind that you’re only human, and all humans make mistakes. Making a mistake is not a license to throw your entire habit development plan out the window. Instead, show yourself some kindness and keep moving forward towards your goals. Adjust these goals as needed to keep them relevant in your life. If you need help with healthy habit development, contact us about ProHabits!
Hi team, Mary here! As I write this, it’s almost the end of June 2020 and with the state our world is in right now it’s becoming increasingly harder to stay positive. I want to take a moment to remind you how important you are and how important your influence is! We have to stay strong and do our best to pursue positivity, even when faced with copious negativity. Today, I would like to share with you some of my top tips for staying positive during negative times.
Remember this: Loving yourself first is anything but selfish. If you don’t, who will? Practicing self-love is about knowing yourself down to your foundation and understanding what you need to rebuild your positivity. I know for me personally, sleep is about the only thing that really mends my positivity. Having the time to process and rest really helps reset myself for the next day. Although, there isn’t always time for sleep, or you may need to stay positive at a time when sleep is not an option.
You may enjoy a hot beverage, taking a walk in the sunshine, meditating, doing yoga, playing a game on your phone, scrolling social media, talking on the phone, or simply unplugging from it all. To practice self-love, you must first find the activities you love the most. If you don’t know, start trying some things out. What makes you feel good? What makes you feel like you can take on the world? Make time in your day for those activities. Do not neglect yourself. To be your best for others, you must first be your best for yourself.
Empathy. It’s hard to explain and even harder to teach. If you have it, you know it. If you don’t, you need to learn. Emotional intelligence is necessary for our current times and the times of the future. Essentially, empathy boils down to this: being able to recognize another’s emotions and feel them as if you were in their same position. It’s more complicated than that, but for those of you that are still working on this I hope this definition helps.
If you feel a situation you are in becomes negative, or you find that you are surrounded by negativity, ask yourself: Why? Why are people negative? Why do people push their negativity on me? It’s because they don’t feel positive inside, and that is something we can (and should) have empathy for. Showing empathy for those who might be mean, icky, or just all around not fun to be around is one of the best ways we can keep up our positivity. Don’t sink to their level and add to the negativity. Instead, be the light that lifts them up and continue to share your positivity.
Two additional notes on empathy: 1) Don’t take things so seriously. Sometimes people just have bad days, but that’s not a reflection of you. Sometimes people have hard lives, but that’s not a reflection of you. Some people are just bad people, but that’s not a reflection of you. You need to learn to let things roll off your back and have empathy for the other’s situations. 2) If you feel the weight of empathy start to drag you down (this is for you, fellow empaths), re-read my self-love section. Being an empath means you fully take on the emotions of another, sometimes finding it difficult to separate your own emotions from theirs. When you feel this, practice self-love and remind yourself that you don’t have to take on the weight of another.
When you’re faced with a negative situation or are experiencing a lot of negativity, try to slow the moment down. Negativity can sometimes force us to act irrationally and without thought. When you feel your emotions begin to boil over from negativity, slow down and remind yourself to not take things so seriously. Employ some empathy for the moment and work to add positivity back into the situation.
The Law of Attraction
“Think positive and you shall live positive.” I love the law of attraction: the idea that what you put into life is what you get out of life. Even during negative times, keep putting positivity out there. Never cease to be the beacon of hope in others’ lives. You never know what the positivity you put out could do for another, even just one, human being. Remind yourself that life has peaks and valleys, and if you are in a valley right now there is only one place left to go: up.
Hate only breeds more hate. The best thing we can do for our world right now is to stay positive and keep fighting for what we believe in. One last note for you, do not be hard on yourself if you cannot remain positive all the time. It’s not plausible, or even fair to yourself, to expect to be positive all the time. The best you can do is, well, the best you can do! Work hard everyday to spread a positive influence. It all starts with you. Because if it’s not you, then who?
Written by: Brian Smith & Mary Smith
Like most of the world, we have been thinking more about things that are out of our control. The amount of time we have to ourselves or with our families is unprecedented in our lifetimes. We find ourselves streaming more shows and reading more news articles. There is a phrase we keep reading, “This is the new normal.”
As business advisors, we deal with exceptions all the time. We are trained to deal with the uncertainties of life and are now pondering this phrase, “This is the new normal.” As leadership development consultants and influence-understanding specialists, our view is that COVID-19 is an exception, not the new normal. However, this phrase continues to parrot around the internet and is seeping into our everyday lives.
COVID-19 is not the new normal. People describe this as the new normal to ease their anxiety of change. If they can find a foundation by deeming this a new normal, they may feel that things aren’t as chaotic. By defining something you give it meaning; meaning gives people purpose and understanding. This foundation and purpose ease the anxiety around change. Therefore, if they can feel more at ease thinking “this is the new normal” they will tell themselves that even if they don’t believe it.
We would go as far as to say there is no normal, but that wouldn’t sit well with most individuals. The reason we are inclined to say this is because we feel that there is no way to define true normal. It’s subjective to each individual and philosophical at best. People need to feel like they have a normal to feel secure. In reality, change is the only normal. There has never been and never will be a normal, just change. We define things as “normal” so we don’t have to face the vastly open possibilities of change or keep an open mind.
So, what exactly is this “new normal” that everyone is talking about? Being shut inside? Not being able to socialize? Mass businesses being closed or shut down? Having to stand six feet apart when shopping at the grocery store, or not being able to use reusable bags? The very idea that this life is our new normal is, honestly, quite sad. If people really believe that we are going to be stuck like this forever, they have lost touch of reality. We won’t be quarantined forever, we will be able to socialize again, businesses will come back or reopen, and we will be able to use our reusable bags again.
We predict that, in the future, most things will return to how it was with very minor adjustments. Yes, there will be tragedy and struggle. There will be lives, properties, and businesses lost. We will face challenges, but they won’t be anymore challenging than what humans have faced in the past. Rather than tackling this challenge and the change that comes with it, people would rather define this as our “new normal.”
Lives are going to change, but that doesn’t mean that life itself will change. Some will experience a “new normal” if they become shut ins or germaphobes. However, there have always been these kinds of people, and for those that do become shut ins or germaphobes due to COVID-19 this will be their “new normal” rather than societies new normal. Time will progress. We will adapt, learn, and evolve, as humans have always done. We will persevere and we will return to “normal.”
Humans have an amazing capacity to overcome tragedy and take on seemingly insurmountable challenges. Humans move past tragedy, with short attention spans, and ignore (to a fault) the lessons of history. History shows us that we will make it through this. If you can accept that change is the only normal, things won’t seem as chaotic. This acceptance opens doors to new possibilities for the future, one where we are all better prepared for change. There is so much we can learn from the experience of COVID-19, and one of them is that change is the only normal.
© Individual Advantages, LLC. 2020
Written by: Brian Smith & Mary Smith
One thing that stands out more than prior to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order is the amount of negativity. This great pause has left people with a lot more time on their hands, as well as uncertainty. Our individual influence has the chance to save the day. Our influence can infect the nation with positivity instead of negativity, and it’s just as contagious as COVID-19.
This great pause has allowed us to come up with unique ways to collaborate, meet our needs, and achieve our goals. For example, our grocery stores have altered their schedules and created opportunities for those that are at greater risk to come and shop without there being too many people. These businesses are providing a positive opportunity to those who need it most.
Spending more time collaborating and being creative is also positive. Before COVID-19, most of us were lost in the noise and chaos of our own lives. We all fall prey to the comfortable focus of our daily life, often missing what is going on around us. COVID-19 has forced us to become innovative in the way we work and think. It’s made us slow down and helps us realize several things we may have been missing. Never before have we been given this massive opportunity for pause.
This pause has affected how we think and perceive. Before COVID-19, people accepted the opinion media. Media is almost always focused on pushing their beliefs and disparaging those who don’t agree with them. This is because they know that negativity sells. We didn’t question this negative noise before COVID-19, mainly because we didn’t have time. However, now that people have the time to dissect and absorb the negativity, they are pushing back with positivity.
Recently, John Krasinski started SGN (SomeGoodNews) on YouTube. When my wife showed me his first video, I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to have someone with public influence use it for positivity. He’s one of the most visible people that I can make an example of, but he certainly isn’t the only one. Around the world people are pushing to spread positivity to keep humanity from being bogged down in the negativity. We need more people like this.
If more publicly influential people, like politicians, used their influence for positivity, how would that affect us? COVID-19 handed government officials an opportunity to come together in a positive way to benefit our country, and some of them are taking it seriously while others are using it to further their own political and personal agendas. It would be nice if our politicians would unite, listen to their constituents, and work together for America as their positions were intended to.
Another positive born from COVID-19 is learning that the issues we face are not democratic or republican, they are American. We have had our blinders on for long enough. Now that life has slowed down, we recognize the influence others have on us that we never would have acknowledged before. Things like our grocery store, toilet paper manufacturers, restaurants, and let’s not forget our healthcare professionals on the front lines. We now recognize the weight of these needs and the influence they have on us.
As we all lean on those closest to us, we realize that positivity is all around us. We do not need the government, influencers, and other famous individuals to fulfill our efforts to find happiness (minus John, we still need SGN). We are realizing that we need much less than we thought and the positivity that does surround us means more as we can begin to fully appreciate it.
Now is a time where we can all lead with positivity. We shouldn’t use negative influence to sway people or events. We can turn lemons into lemonade. Find the positivity in your day and show gratitude. We are all grappling over the loss of something, so when you see negativity choose to inject positivity. Do it for yourself. The simple law of attraction is if you think positive, you will live positive. If you need a boost, watch SGN.
One simple, positive comment or action can change the present moment. We all have influence. We are byproducts of our environments, which means that we can change our environments too. It just takes one person to spread positivity and affect change. Like COVID-19, positivity is contagious. Go out and spread the positivity (while keeping a social distance, of course).
To learn more about your individual influence, check out our book series: The I in Team Series.
For positive posts on your feed, follow our series on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
© Individual Advantages, LLC 2020
Written by: Mary Smith
We are still at the beginning of the new year, and hopefully you were able to set some great goals for yourself based on our last blog post. We know goals can be hard to keep sometimes, especially the goals we set in the new year. We are here to keep you motivated and on your path to complete your goals.
Did you know that 80% of people give up on their new year goals by February?
Top Reasons People Give Up on Their Goals
Starting the new year doesn’t mean you have to start your goals right on the first. Time is always moving forward, and luckily for everyone that means you can start goals at any time. Alas, not everyone has this opinion and it is one of the reasons that people fail to honor their set goals. There are many reason people give up on their goals, but we compiled the most common reasons below.
- Unrealistic expectations
- Not telling anyone about their goals (no accountability)
- Giving up too easily or losing interest
- No thoughtful plan or time management
- Lack of honestly with yourself
Do any of these sound like you? You owe it to yourself to see your goals through; you set those goals for a reason. If you need to reevaluate your goals to tailor them to where you are in life and the parameters you can handle at the moment, then do it. Set goals that you can plan out, follow through, and complete.
In our first book, we outline in great detail how to utilize the S.M.A.R.T. process. When you set your goals, you need to make them specific. By understanding exactly what you want to do, and narrowing down your goals to make them specific, you will be able to achieve your goals more efficiently. When you set a specific goal, and understand its parameters, you will be able to measure your goal. Whether you measure it based on a time frame, steps towards achievements, or anything else, if you can measure it, you can achieve it.
Ensure your goals are attainable, that means make sure you are in a place where you can reach your goals. Do you have the position, the time, the financial means, or the resources to obtain this new set goal? This leads to the next letter; make sure it is realistic. Again, you need to have the proper resources to obtain your goal. If your goal is to lose fifteen pounds in one week, that is not typically realistic (or healthy). If your goal is to lose fifteen pounds over the course of a few months, that is realistic. It is also timely! Ensure you set goals that you can measure over the course of a timely period. Give yourself enough time to complete your goals.
Benefits of Completing Goals
There are so many benefits to completing your goals and seeing your past wishes through to the end. For one, it provides you with a great base for motivation to complete other goals in your life; if you know you can complete one goal, you know you can complete any goals that you set in your life. Not only will you be motivated for future goals, you will feel an immense sense of personal satisfaction.
When you know you can complete your goals, you will feel fulfilled and a sense of purpose in life. Having a sense of purpose in life is one of the main things that makes us happy as individuals. Knowing you can complete your goals is something you need to succeed in life. Whether your goals are personal, professional, familial, or other, goals are what move us forward in life. Don’t give up on your goals this year, you owe it to yourself to see them through.
© Individual Advantages, LLC. 2019