Daily Quote: “Stress is like Spice… not always bad for you

“Stress is like spice – in the right proportion it enhances the flavor of a dish. Too little produces a bland, dull meal; too much may choke you.” Dr. Donald Tubesing
Stress is a normal part of life.   Believe it or not stress can even be useful when it triggers us to danger. In every day life, living with a constant and elevated stress level can be a persistent problem that interferes with daily activities, such as work, school or sleep. This type of stress can disrupt relationships and enjoyment of life, and over time it can lead to serious health concerns (elevate blood pressure, digestive issues like IBS, depression, confused thinking and other chronic problems. Goal in life isn’t to get rid of it but to find the right balance between good stress and chronic stress which can’t be turned off. Some of the best research has been done by Robert Sapolsky in his book:  Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases and Coping 


Want to give Audience-Centered Presentation? Learn these 3 skills.

Exploring Empathy, Responsiveness and Relevance as keys to Audience-Centered Presentation
Daily Quote: ” Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”  Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence  
The R.A.T.E.R. is a useful tool to measure your ability to be Audience-Center in presenting or public speaking. Your ability to see and relate to, understand and respect the inner world of others, doesn’t mean agreeing with the other person’s perceived experience . For many, empathy is what I’ll call a touchy-feely word. “It’s all about feeling and relating to what others feel , isn’t it? – being compassionate. Does that really have any place in the hard-nosed world of business? One of the problems with empathy is that it is often confused with being ‘soft’ – overly sensitive, compassionate and even emotionally “mushy” or sentimental. It can be associated with tolerating bad performance or bad behavior, which is probably more to do with avoiding conflict than empathy.

Let’s be clear, empathy is simply the ability to comprehend and be respectful of the inner state/experience of others, it does not mean agreeing with the other person’s perceived experience or condoning the actions they take based on their interpretations. It is also not just limited to understanding another’s feelings. Empathy includes an ability to identify and articulate another’s perspective, expectations, wants and needs. Great communicators are empathic because they try to see the world through the eyes of their audience. By doing so they show respect and caring for their audience and when people feel respect they respond. There is an old saying, “I don’t care about what you know until I know that you care.”

As an empathic presenter you need to be  self-aware and sensitive to how their own behavior impacts others.  Empathy is outward and inward looking. Learn to be responsive and respectful as a presenter by identifying audience needs and being “quick on your feet” to provide relevant examples and tell engaging stories about your ideas. Show respect and and empathy your audience will respond in kind.

Self-Coaching Challenge: To get at this topic in short form, I’d ask you to take this self-evaluation to score yourself on a scale of 10, where 1 is awful and 10 is being masterful as a presenter in crafting and demonstrating empathy, relevance and responsiveness toward the audience members.  What follows are three questions about empathy. How do you stack-up?

1. Empathy is Item #1 I work-in to my message when presenting to others? _____

2. I am a full-fledged student of empathy, aiming for the same level of “professional mastery and excellence” that I’d aim for in a specialty like Human Resources, Brand Marketing, Finance or Business Strategy____________.

3. I stop at different times during my presentation to see how the audience is taking–in or understanding my message ________.





Self-coaching Challenge: Say Yes…

Quote: “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor” Aristotle

Reflection: I have found that supporting someone else’s needs and wants takes a change of attitude and courage to let go of being right. The change of attitude is to assume that the other person’s request is reasonable and that you are not giving up something, and with this shift of perspective you are supporting and giving a gift of time.

Self Coaching Challenge: Start by clearing your mind of all the things you want to do this weekend. Pick a person, your spouse, child, friend or neighbor and make a commitment to be selfless with this person. Find something right about everything he or she says or does or wants you to do. Look for for every opportunity to offer support. Consider their convenience and time preferences ahead of your own. Give them unconditional support by putting their ideas first. Shine the spotlight on them. Anticipate what they want and practice active listening skills. Notice the results. Capture what you learned in your personal change journal.

Want to know the quality and strength of your relationship with your Partner? Don’t miss this quiz!!

Dr. Gottman is a highly respected authority on predicting whether your relationship with your partner is healthy or in need of a tune-up. This quiz highlights elements of what Dr. Gottman refers to as your “love map.” In his workshops, Dr. Gottman discusses the step-by-step process of making sure that you nurture your friendship with your partner. In a survey of 200 couples attending a weekend workshop, Dr. Gottman found that the best predictor of passion and romance in a relationship was…you guessed it…the quality of the friendship!

Check the quality of the friendship by clicking this free quiz. http://www.gottman.com/how-well-do-you-know-your-partner/

Enjoy this check-up quiz and remember if things aren’t going well you have the power to change them.  Coach Mark

Daily Quote: What is the most important insight to being Rich and Happy?

Daily Quote: “Happiness is about Respect not Riches”

Reflection: The in-sight into what makes people happy is very clear —It is not riches but Respect,that makes us happy. Seeking financial riches detracts from your ability to stay on your path to a happiness and living a meaningful life . This insight is all about being aware of your surroundings , connecting with other people and being tolerant and showing empathy and compassion for those less fortune than us. Compassion and Respect drive happiness.

Recent research suggests not that the rich are inherently more unethical or insensitive but that experiencing high status makes people more focused on themselves and feel less connected to others—an important lesson in this age excesses and material stock piling by the rich.

“The rich aren’t bad people, they just live in a selfish, less compassionate and  insular worlds,” study co-author Paul Piff told Greater Good earlier this year. “But if you’re able to reduce the extremes that exist between the haves and the have-nots, you’re going to go a long way toward closing the compassion and empathy gap.”

Happiness is about Respect, Not Riches. Research has long suggested that money and riches do not by happiness in life; a study published in Psychological Science in July confirms that finding and goes a step further, changing the stakes of what we think of as high status: It turns out that if we’re looking to money, we’re looking in the wrong place.

More information at: http://www.dailygood.org/2013/03/13/insights-from-the-science-of-meaningful-life/

How we can connect more as presenters and public speakers:Learn more about empathy

Empathy—mirror neurons show that being connected to someone is not just in the mind. There are these fundamental physiological and  behavioral moments that are occurring continuously with other people who we’re not aware of. There is a solid grounding of neurological research which is completely consistent with this hypothesis.

Power of Empathy:  Presenters who demonstrate empathy and caring are rated higher on presentation evaluations because they can reach out beyond themselves and their subject matter and connect to other people’s experiences and needs. At the core people discover unseen opportunities and problems when they have a personal and empathic experience and connection with the world around them.

For most of us that means we need to have an experience to walk in other people’s shoes. It also means not judging differences physical or idea wise as bad ugly or stupid. When we are being empathic we must see and understand without judgment. Having the ability to reach out and touch, understand and connect with other people and the world around us is what empathy is all about. It provides us with the courage to take risks long before the rest of the world is tuned in. Simply put people who have the ability to use their brain to care and connect are happier and more successful in the world. We develop an intuitive or gut reaction to see the world from many points of view and listen to people who matter the most. When we practice empathy we are open to new ideas and ethical concerns. This in turn provides the impetus to build and support a culture of clarity and concern focused on people rather than on fame, wealth and material things.

More from Dr. Berne Brown on Vulnerability, Shame and Connecting

Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage”. Dr. Berne Brown

The most  viewed blog post on The Wick is a TED speech by Dr. Berne Brown. She talks about the power of being connected and vulnerable through the lens of dealing with our shame. Her conclusion is that what makes people vulnerable and feel inadequate is what makes people beautiful and happy. To find meaning we need the ability to empathize, belong, love.  This is a very personal and humorous talk by a truly authentic person.  She shares a deep insight from her research, one that caused a breakdown and sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand why shame is always whispered and hidden even from our conscious self. Her insight about  shame is groundbreaking and priceless.

Now she is back with more insights and over 5 million views of her Houston TED speech. Again she opens and models her vulnerability with a funny story about what success has taught her about vulnerability. Don’t miss this thoughtful and reflective speech.

Connecting and Shame

What does it take to be perceived as an Exceptional or Remarkable Presenter? Try this “thought starter” exercise.

A simple fill in the blank “thought starter” for creating a remarkable and relevant presentation experience:

“I was pleased that the presenter was entertaining and informative, that the program didn’t video taped my speech,  he honored the commitment to not try and sell us something,, that  he didn’t just read slides to us, that we were ask to interact and provide our take on his ideas and he was not not a “know it all”.  But what really got my attention and I will take away was _________________________________”

By definition, whatever goes in the blank is experienced as a value added gift, more than you expected. The question is what must you do or say to be considered a relevant exceptional or remarkable. and engaging speaker that others will talk about or remark after the speech at coffee break.

Daily quote and Reflection: Empathy and Openness Key to Meaningful Living

Quote: My experience and observations confirm that the key to Meaningful Living philosophy is the practice of empathy and open communications. 

Reflection: I do not deny, however, that it is not always easy to stay on this route. I want to do everything I can to raise the understanding of what our problems are and taking constructive action to solve them.  I mean chiefly the kind of relations that exist between the “have and have-nots”, between the powerful and the weak, the healthy and the sick, the young and the elderly, adults and children, businesspeople and customers, men and women, teachers and students, policeman and citizens, and so on… The idea that the world might be actually changed by the force of respect and truth, the power of the word, the strength of free and open discussion, and responsibility to act for the benefit of all citizens– my longing for fairness, caring and justice for all. I will call this servant leadership or “the just life”. Trying to make life more pleasant, more interesting, more varied, and more bearable for all is my purpose in life.”

Daily Quote and Reflection: Being open to Others Stories true message of Empathy

Quote: “ Every story we hear can teach us something about our lives. The connection is not in the details but in the overall meaning. You will seean event in one way, I in an altogrther different way. What we learn from that experience will be just as different and enriching.” Tom Chappell, Past Ceo of Tom’s of Maine. From the book, The Soul of a Business–Managing for Profit and the Common Good.

Reflection:  In this masterful book Tom Chappel shares his experiences on how to grow a business through a strong mission statement and alignment of values. When Tom talks about stor telling he is providing us with a lesson for listening, sharing and caring about other people’s point of view.  What is relly exciting about Tom’s growing a successful business is his emphasis on people first and then profits will follow. This quote on story telling encourageous us all to be more open to other people’s experience. This is the true essence of empathy.

Daily Quote and Reflection: High Cost of Arrogance, Poor communication and Zero Empathy Skills

Daily quote and reflection: Most people don’t associate the word “empathy” with effective leadership. 

Reflection: what do you associate the word “empathy” with?  I associate the word with the ability to put yourself in someone’s shoes without  judgment. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend that called for empathy. They were describing their frustrating position at work. They had ideas for improving training with doctors and their ability to be more sensitive in communicating with patients. She presents ideas for improved and open communication to fellow doctors  with little support reaction to the suggestions. Later, she received  feedback from her supervisor that she was over-steeping her role and authority in making patient-doctor communication advice. Her boss liked her initiative  but others indicated that she must being to aggressive with her advice. The boss said her approach might be threatening doctors autonomy and control of patient care.  After this she took a more subservient role for the next few weeks..Eight weeks later the “Transplant physician was sued by a patient for malpractice.The key point in the law suit that the doctor did not listen and answer questions when the patient shared side effects of the medication plan. According to the lawsuit he and the Transplant Team were unresponsive to patient requests and questions about side effects of the medicine   But as with so many things in life something small changes might have made a difference but no one was listening to the patient and her family. The doctor proceed to blame other people for not providing him with the right information and did not know the problems with the patient.  Consequently, the patient had a sever stroke and fell into a coma. She was rushed to the Emergency room of a nearby hospital  The patient never came out of the coma and was later declared brain-dead by the  emergency room physician.   During the depositions it was uncovered that this doctor was insensitive and a displayed a very callous and  no-nonsense approach  to this transplant operation. He saw the operation as routine and spent little with the Transplant Team and patient. after the initial operation.  The patient’s family felt neglected and had a hard time communicating their concerns with the doctor and his team.  Whether the stroke had anything to do with his insensitive manner and poor communications with the patient will now be settled in a very expensive trial. In other words, the doctor and his team were having communication problems and little time was spent in building  a more empathic and effective relationship with the patient and the family..

Want to Cultivate unique Connections? Eliminate the Empathy Deficit

“… I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit — the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry, the steelworker who’s been laid-off, the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. When you think like this — when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers — it becomes harder not to act; harder not to help.”  President Obama 

Cultivate a Unique Presence with Others through Empathy. Much has been written about what executive presence is but one thing is certain: those who possess it have “social attunement” We invariably walk away from them feeling energized and better about ourselves. This ability of making others feel important builds trust and shows sensitivity. People who are able to show this ability  are high on the scale of empathy, the quality that makes them sense our need to feel important. They see us not as we are, but as whom we could become. Simply put, they care about how we feel. What a wonderful gift it is, to be able to bestow this on those we encounter. One could argue that it is indeed impossible to have presence without empathy because a major requirement for a unique connection is the ability to be present with others without judging them.

Now new research by Dr Simon Baron-Cohen defines empathy in two parts—as the drive to identify another person’s thoughts and feelings, and the drive to respond appropriately to those thoughts and feelings. It is also, he says, one of the most valuable resources in our world—one which is currently woefully underused. “We all have degrees of empathy…but perhaps we are not using it to its full potential,” he said in a recent lecture. The lack of empathy is an important trait that affects the health of our relationships. The question is on a 1 to 10 how high are you on the empathy scale?

Power of Courage and Connections –Secret to Love,Worth and Meaning in Life

“In order for connections to happen we must be vulnerable and show our true selfs to others. ” Dr. Beren Brown

I recently came across an outstanding talk by Dr. Berne Brown at TED.  She talks about the power of being connected, vulnerable, courageous and whole heartiness. What make people vulnerable is what makes people beautiful and happy. To find meaning we need the  ability to empathize, belong, love.  This is humorous talk by a truly authentic person.  She shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. Her insight about  shame and vulnerability answer many questions on the meaning in life and joy of life. I think here concept of how we try to avoid pain through denial and by numbing  our emotions can be a real break through. My take away is that we are all worthy of love and worth. Tweet or respond to this video by telling me your definition of vulnerability and how you handle it. Enjoy. https://ted.com/talks/view/id/1042

Meaningful Life Strategies–Prescriptions for Personal Change through Coaching

In developing my philosophy of Meaningful Life Strategies I have been revisiting , reviewing and exploring the principles and practices  of many different counseling theories and processes. One that I find very helpful is Dr. William Glasser’s  Reality Therapy. This theory of counseling  focuses on an individual taking responsibility for their choices in life.  This theory is very aligned with Meaningful Living concept of the “here and now” rather than delving into past traumas  or unresolved  conflicts in life.  A major tenant of RT is that a person can control only the present things going on in their lives.   When identifying problems with an individual, Glasser often found that the issue stemmed from a current unsatisfying relationship or the lack of any sustaining relationship.  These problems develop from the client’s inability to connect, to develop intimacy, or to develop depth with at least one significant person who respected them.   The Reality therapist has the goal to help the consumer to develop better ways of relating to others in order to experience happiness and greater fulfillment in life.  This is one of the challenges of Reality therapy: helping clients to identify that their presentation to the world and their behavior is limiting their ability to be happy and find meaning in life.

Glasser identified six critical needs that guide individuals through life and motivate people to develop caring  and lasting relationships.  These needs are survival, love,  belonging, worth or achievement, independence, and fun.  While each individual has varying degrees of each need, they are present and need an opportunity to be experienced and lived in life.  Reality therapy sees individuals as being social creatures both needing to receive and provide two primary drivers of behavior: love and worth.

The therapist’s responsibility is to help the individual prioritize needs, deciding what is most important and how to make the required changes necessary to enable greater meaning  and responsibility for choices and results.  People develop a concept of what they want for their life and store this information in a scheme he termed their potential world of quality.  It is this concept that counselors must tap into using both the sense of ownership and responsibility for themselves as well as incorporating the idea of decision-making and choice  to develop a more fulfilling and satisfying life.

When understanding behavior in the perspective of reality theory, four identifiable components work together towards understanding one’s experience of happiness, acting, thinking, feeling, and physiology.  Glasser looks at how an individual feels or behaves as being active rather than simply constant states of being.  Rather than saying an individual is depressed, Glasser would identify the individual as depressing, or rather than being angry, the individual would be seen as angering.  These active verb forms place the individual in a position to choose change.  Rather than experiencing  life as something happening to them, they are instead experiencing life as a state that they have the control and responsibility to change.

This is all translated into what I call the  guidelines for Smart Step Change Process. The steps for the Plan are:

1. As a coach connect and understand the person. Focus on understanding, respecting and caring for the person–Be their friend.

2. Try to help them prioritize their needs and wants. Review present choices and see if they are working? Start by clarifying what are they doing now. Don’t dwell on their past experiences.

3. Looks to understand what it means to the person to be fully engaged in life and find meaning through making better choices in the Here and Now. Questions to explore–Does the person think what they are doing is helping or hindering them from being happy and developing a life worth living? Ar they making good choices? If not do they want to change? Are they open to suggestions?

4.  Let’s make a Plan to do something different.

5. To live a meaningful Life –Are you will to make a commitment to the Plan? If so, let’s mobilize the resources and support for change.

6. To get different results you need to change your thinking and behavior. It’s your life so critical question is Do You want to change?

When do you want to start? How will we know you are succeeding?

7. If Plan doesn’t work I will not punish myself  or put myself down.  I will just work on developing a better plan and accept the natural consequences of my choices.

8. Continue to review and evaluate Plan. Adjust the Plan according to new circumstances or if it isn’t working. The matra here is Action-Feedback-fail or succeed-Keep fighting.

Remember the Meaningful of Life strategy emphasizes your freedom of choice when determining the purpose of your life.

Critical Factor for “sticky presentations” Connect through Emotional Attunement and Empathy

“Simplicity means the achievement of maximum effect with minimum means.”
— Dr. Koichi Kawana

People’s emotions are rarely put into words, far more often they are expressed through other non-verbal cues. The key to understanding feelings is in the ability to read nonverbal channels: tone of voice, gestures, facial expressions, eyes, and the like. Sensing what others feel, without their saying so, captures the interpersonal sensitivity needed to demonstrate empathy. The essence of high level empathy is listening to the heart of others and correctly understanding their feelings and circumstances (Covey, 1996).   Meta-communication and non-verbal communication are documented by Merhiban and his associates as the most powerful element in making a positive impact on audiences.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to use an understanding of emotions, in one’s self and others. This understanding enables one to deal effectively with people and problems in a way which reduces anxiety, nervousness, anger, and hostility. Dealing effectively with people and problems results in confidence, collaborative effort, enhances life-balance, and produces creative energy and enthusiasm.

Academic success is only a small factor in gauging our overall success in the workplace. Emotional Intelligence is far more significant.  The capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships with others is all part of one’s Emotional Intelligence. The primary goal of all people is to seek emotional connectivity with one another leading to optimal physical, emotional, and spiritual well being. The capacity to manage our emotions and use them intelligently accounts for more than 80% of work success. Hope, optimism, empathy, and resilience are personal characteristics that separate star performers from those who get derailed. The good news is that unlike IQ, which remains stable for life, Emotional Intelligence can be increased at any time by motivation and purposeful activities.

Studies have shown that emotional attunement, or empathy, has little to do with rational intelligence and that students with high levels of empathy are among the most popular, well adjusted, and high performing students, yet their IQ’s are no higher than those of students who are less skilled at reading nonverbal cues.

“The rules for work are changing. We are now being judged not just by how smart we are or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other” states Daniel Goleman the author of “Working with Emotional Intelligence”. The ability to pick up on emotional cues is particularly important in the business world where people often conceal their true feelings. The head of a private bank described his job as something like that of a priest or doctor. He said that he has to sense what his client hopes or fears even when the client can’t express it in words. Likewise, the field of medicine has awakened to the benefits of empathy as we now know that doctors who don’t listen get sued more than those who take the time to talk to their patients, joke and ask patient’s opinions. And the time needed for a doctor to be successfully empathic? Just three minutes!

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand someone from their point of view, by sensing and experiencing their feelings and perspective. Empathy is derived from the Greek word pathos meaning feeling. The ability to recognize and respond appropriately to the feelings of others is a rare skill. It is connected to optimism because it is through a sense of our connection to others that we see our own efficacy and value. Together they govern a significant portion of our behavior; they are the gatekeepers of our emotional selves. It is the converse of the word apathy, which implies lack of involvement.

Apathy is the creation of emotional distance and shows a lack of concern for others. In the workplace, apathy is often a symptom of stress and burnout. People can create distance when they don’t have sufficient energy for emotional involvement. Apathetic managers are perceived as uncaring, unhelpful, distant, and untrustworthy.

Sympathy is another word about feelings for others. It describes feelings for rather than feelings with and is much less helpful in presentations than empathy. Sympathy can be perceived as patronizing because when we feel sorry for someone, we often do not view that person as an equal. There is also the risk that if you become overly sympathetic you may lose objectivity and become too involved.

Empathy at Work

Empathy has a number of applications in presentations.  It is very important in persuasion and influencing, because it allows us to understand the underlying needs of the audience and that provides us the opportunity to be more targeted in our message; this type of flexibility is more likely to lead to an appreciation of shared interests. Conflict often occurs because of misunderstandings and miscommunication. The more attuned we are to the feelings of others, the less conflict we will experience. Listening with empathy is a powerful way of understanding and appreciating differences. It helps us to recognize and appreciate different individual contributions and to harness the potential of their combined talents. Empathy is important for leaders because it enables them to respond to fears and anxieties, which can prevent audiences from accepting or embracing a message for change. Why do most audiences feel uninspired or frustrated? Because they believe that the speaker did not address their concerns and needs.

High levels of audience trust are created through empathy. By responding with empathy, we are able to meet our audience members’ needs or understand their motivations. The emotional connection is often more important than the words we use. Empathy is a key skill to developing influence, because networking relationships are based on trust and mutual understanding.

For your next presentation try to up your empathy scale.

Leadership Journey–How does Obama measure-up to these Six Laws of Leadership

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”  Theodore M. Hesburgh

How has President Obama  done in developing a compelling narrative? Has his governing vision and priorities for policy actions aligned with his campaign promises? What has been his style of leadership?  In what ways has he and his team succeed in creating Change we can believe-In? Were the problems to big and expectations to great for his team to produce meaningful results that make a difference in your life? He can refuse to let himself and his team off the hook for not delivering on the promises of hope and change. This would help focus his team on helping people and producing results that matter or he  can continue to reflect on the way Bush and his team have left the country in shambles. Either way this is not a winning strategy for growing and developing a more robust and growing economy that creates meaningful jobs. In reading the recent, New York Times article on the Obama’s reflections on his first two years entitled The Education of President Obama –http://nyti.ms/cmmWTB. I was struck by the many insights about his leadership style that seemed so different from the campaigner we thought we were electing.  So I went back and re-read the article to see how Obama and his team measures up to what I consider Six important Laws of Leadership.

Continue reading “Leadership Journey–How does Obama measure-up to these Six Laws of Leadership”