How to Use Silence with Others


Photo by the author

Silence is something more of us should do.  The more social media that I read, the more I think that humankind has a need to be heard, to always respond.  Despite the need to respond, we don’t always want someone to give us feedback.  Feedback is sometimes the hot button that just makes a person clam up.

The opportunities around silence are immense.  

  • Silence from others, allows us to process what is affecting us.  Immediate feedback only disrupts this process.
  • Silence communicates a respect when you are listening.  It allows others to know you are present with them, not discounting what they are saying.
  • People in pain, don’t need automatic response.  They need presence.
  • Silence keeps us from sometimes saying something we should not say.  It keeps us out of hot water.

Knowing when to be silent and when to respond.

  1. Respond when the person appears ready to accept your response.  Keep your eye contact focused on the other person.  Keep a safe but engaged distance
  2. Silence means you are processing what is being said.  Respond only when you are expected to respond, ask questions, configure your language to reflect what is being said
  3. Responding is not always necessary.   Respond in ways that you would like others to respond to you.  Take time to focus on other’s immediate needs.

Asking permission to respond is a respectful transition.  The other person will let you know when they are ready to receive your response.  Then they will be ready to complete the transition.


Eliminating the Gap Between Good Intentions and Follow Through

As Thomas Jefferson said: “If you want something that you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” 
The gap between getting from point A to B is one of personal fortitude.  A key attribute between meeting your intentions by following through is related to how much ownership you possess.  

Jefferson appears to imply that getting a result is inherent on how much you desire to follow through.  

Sadly, good intentions miss the mark when our desire is based on something other than having clear ownership for the goal.

Closing the Saying and Doing Gap

What are the qualities needed to follow through? 

  1. Explore how much you want something.  Know what it means to you, and why.  Failure to answer the why…you need to question whether you have the right objective.
  2. Does your heart (beliefs, feelings) tell you that you’re on the right track?
  3. Make a ‘graded task assignment’ – break the follow through into manageable chunks. 
  4. Create an accountability structure.  Who is going to keep you accountable for getting there. Set up reporting periods.
  5. Examine what failing would be like.  What are the consequences of inaction?  What are the costs and benefits?
  6. What do successes look like?  What is the payoff to follow through?

Develop the spirit to stretch beyond what you think is your capability.  Do something you’ve never done.

Learning to Power Through Bad Habits


Counterproductive habits or behaviors come in many shapes and sizes.  They also have different impacts on a person.  The worst habits are the ones that are subtle, and gradually sap away your motivation and capacity.

Subtle habits that slow your capacity:

  1. Poor sleep habits 
  2. A focus on overspending 
  3. Negative thinking
  4. Unwholesome thoughts
  5. Conflict with others
  6. Deep animosity
  7. Holding onto anger
  8. Obsessing over details
  9. Not getting results

Little by little, these behaviors erode our best efforts.  They dull our senses, and waste valuable talents.  They are time stealers, and suck our internal resources away.  

Letting Go:

The hardest part of giving up an unproductive aspect of ourselves is the perceived comfort we get from engaging these behaviors.  

As one colleague stated: “We love what we hate, and hate what we love.”

Ways to power through:

We begin moving through at the very moment we decide we don’t want these problem behaviors to define us any longer.  

Taking the short and long views around change:

The Short View: What can I stop doing today? This the list of immediate actions we have in our grasp.

The Long View: What repeated daily habits do I need to incorporate to see better results?  The long view is where we look at the growth factors around our change:

  1. What we need to put into building new skill sets
  2. Who we need to forgive
  3. Forgiving ourselves
  4. Changing specific target habits
  5. Engaging health
  6. Changing our methods 

Whatever the long view, it is a mission of sorts, and one that requires navigation and a daily commitment.

Questions For Today—

  1. What 3 behaviors can I stop today?
  2. Can I make a long term plan to change, and begin today?

10 Ways to Move Forward When You Feel Stuck

Photo by the author

Like the flower that blooms in the Spring, it takes the right conditions to break through the ground.  Breaking through personal obstacles is really no different.

The Rut: Anything that is keeping you stuck from where you’re desiring to go.  

Other ways that describe being stuck:

  1. I’m in a job I dislike
  2. I’m not moving forward in my role 
  3. I can’t get ahead of the bills
  4. My boss doesn’t seem to recognize the contribution I make
  5. I feel blah all the time 

Recognizing you’re stuck is 50% toward the solution.  Some don’t even see they’re stuck until a crisis hits. Being stuck wasn’t something that happened once or twice, it’s something that progressed over time.

10 Ways to move beyond stuck

  1. Look at what is actually not stuck: Leverage those resources
  2. Identify your supports – or seek out support
  3. Look at self sabotage – ways your choices are making it harder to succeed
  4. Ask yourself: What does being stuck really mean…what does it require me to do?
  5. What one tipping point do you need that would make the difference?  
  6. Are your expectations holding  you back?  Are they the right ones?
  7. Are you doing more, or expecting more?
  8. What do I need to do less of, and more of?
  9. Learn, expand.
  10. Understand that struggle is making you stronger

Not moving down a desired path doesn’t mean you aren’t moving.  It means something is taking a different direction unintended.

Moving beyond a challenge requires concerted effort to understand the patterns around you, many of which need discovered.

Work through being stuck by identifying the pattern in operation, then choose a set of new patterns that may lead to different results.

Going for the ‘root cause’


Don’t be afraid to look at what you really think about a problem

Change is misdirected when the causes of the problem are vague in the first place.

How many times have you reacted to something, but haven’t thought through the bottom line drivers of the problem?  Making changes as a way to respond are better formed when the deeper root causes are known.

Years ago in management training, I was introduced to the quality management concept of Root Cause Analysis.  The idea is that you get to the actual driving forces of quality problems and defects in your work.  The idea is pragmatic, but not always practical at the same time.  It takes time to really find out why and with what you are doing wrong.

Sometimes, you have to detach yourself from the environment you’re in to get to the deeper causes of a problem.  

Ways to go for the root causes:

  1. Back away from the problem for a while.  Backing away does not mean avoidance.
  2. Think deeply about what you think the bottom line is…what is your intuition and heart saying to you?
  3. An educated conscience will tell you what needs to be different. Those that are more in tune with themselves, can reach clearer definitions of the root causes.
  4. Write down what you really think.  Sometimes it might be a hard pill to swollow, but a reality that needs to be faced.
  5. Consider different options and conclusions.  Test them out and seek further validation through trusted colleagues.

Reaching the root, means you have to ‘dig in the dirt’.  There is often a lot of debris that needs to be cleared.

The Process of Regaining Confidence

Photo by the Author

Regaining confidence is not an external event.  Those that are waiting for something to happen to feel better, may end up disappointed…

If you feel a lack of confidence, it’s best to start out with yourself first.  That’s where the problem really resides.  Things happen, you make mistakes, and you may lack the right skills.  

Finding the Path to Confidence

  1. Be Real: Face your weakness – it’s what you need to do differently, not what needs to change.
  2. Work through people: Find those that believe in you.  
  3. Deliver value, build confidence in others, receive credibility.

It’s not what happens, but what you decide to make happen.  Acknowledge your weaknesses, and build a plan to mitigate them.  If you take the ‘minimal’ path, you will remain at an unsatisfying level.  The motivation you generate will repay you in ‘confidence’.  Others will gradually engage and reinforce what you have become.

The Importance of Rediscovering Your Roots

Photo by the author 

A friend once said to me: “As things change, sometimes people move toward you, and sometimes they move away from you.”

As we develop, we form new interests.  As we form new relationships, new and different patterns of life take hold.  Some good, and some create a distraction. Over time some relationships shift, and we find find ourselves moved away from the aspects that brought us confidence in ourselves.

Making an exercise in the rediscovery of our roots, can be a powerful direction that brings us back to more effectiveness, renews our sense of well being, and helps us cope better with life challenges.

Here are some of the ways, connecting with our roots can make a difference in our lives:

  1. We connect with important past relationships that were positive and played a part in our development. Often times the busyness of life takes us away from people that contributed a lot to who we are today.
  2. It helps us reconnect with things that worked for us in the past.
  3. We find new energy from things that brought richness in our past.
  4. We can solve current difficulties using “tried and true” approaches, that we have abandoned at some point.

Ways to connect with our roots:

  • Call up a friend or associate you haven’t seen or talked to for some time.  You might be surprised how good it makes you feel.
  • Engage a rewarding hobby that enriched your life in the past.
  • Remember how you solved problems before.  Use those techniques again.
  • Write and reflect on your problems.  Remember what really helped you get through.

The Rewards are there…Rediscover something that you “moved away from.” Locate what meant a lot to you in the past and reengage it.  Reexperience some of the joys it brought you, and learn to cope with existing problems, using things that worked in the past.

The Strategic Advantage of Tenacity and Resiliency

Photo by the author 

Sometimes going through the same path can seem unappealing.  Repetition is mind-numbing at times.  Reframing your path as tenacity and resilience is a fresh way to look at your efforts.

Your efforts have a meaning if they are important to you.

When repetition is unproductive:

  1. When the efforts don’t contribute to something higher than yourself 
  2. When they don’t align with what you see as important 
  3. Mis-directed meetings 
  4. When your heart is not in it
  5. No results…

Resilience is combining thoughtful repetition with a mission despite the hardships encountered.

Ways to make your behaviors and actions mean more – and create an advantage:

  1. Do more that matters.  Define what that is.
  2. Examine whether the hardship is tied to important values or a mission.
  3. Is your activities wearing you down, or are they creating “tired but rewarding energy.”

Too many activities are a result of distraction, survival, and reaction.  If any of these exist, it’s probably time to find a new path. Embrace repetition, when it is getting you closer where you want to go.

How to Prevent ‘Going through the motions’

  Photo by the author

There’s good and bad about repetition.  The good- is considered intentional and leads to something better or a higher skill.  The bad- means that you’re stuck in a rut, and you feel like action is actually reaction to events outside your direct control.  

In common language, you’re going through the motions.  The results don’t feel that good or gratifying.

Ways to make your actions intentional

1. Clarify your purpose, not someone else’s.  Make your actions mean something to you.

2. Let go of unnecessary emotional baggage.  Often we imprison ourselves with other people’s vision.  Create your own definition for yourself.

3. Address the bad personal habits one by one.  The friction we encounter where we feel we are stuck, may have its origin in how we care for ourselves.

4. Say no. Saying no, means you’re respecting your capacity to be.  Over-extending is compromising your true capabilities.

Finally, learning to ask questions and speak up, can alter the landscape and potentially make your experience better.  There is no rule where you should suffer in silence. Advocate for yourself.