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Authors Posts by Shari Goldsmith

Shari Goldsmith

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Columnist - After graduating from Ohio State University with a B.A. in Organizational Communications, Shari spent 10 years working in Business Operations with progressive responsibility. She was an integral part of the company’s growth from 2 to 50 store operations. After leaving this position, she worked in the fields of Education and Social Services, where she became the “go-to” person for change. Her problem-solving, leadership, and people skills enabled her to take an idea and develop it into a full-fledged program. Shari then decided to fulfill a life-long dream and received her Mental Health/Counseling Degree. In 2010, Shari created Shari Goldsmith Coaching, to support and empower professional women to define their goals, go after their dreams, and ultimately change their lives. A few years later, Shari created Workplace Resilience to give individuals and executive teams the tools to not only survive, but thrive in this fast changing marketplace. Shari is the current President of the local Ellevate Chapter, part of a global network of 34,000 professional women. Contact her at sharigoldsmith@fuse.net.

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Want to see positive change in your life? Our life coach explains how to discover what’s truly important to you first.

I eavesdropped on a conversation at the gym the other day. A woman was describing to her friend the reason that she hadn’t been to the gym in a very long time. She shared that she had been too busy and she couldn’t fit working out into her schedule. Her friend then took it upon herself to spend the next 10 minutes trying to help her overcome this problem. However, for each solution the friend threw her way, the woman had a very convincing rationalization for why that would never work. Does this sound familiar to you?  

Maybe this reminds you of someone at work. You have long in-depth conversations about needed behavior change with an employee, but nothing ever really changes. Maybe this hits a little close to home. The confusing thing is that you might have a heartfelt desire to change, but you never seem to really move forward in any way. So what is really holding you back?

“If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” – Author Unknown

Maybe it’s really not that important to you. 

Changing a habit is hard work and if you don’t make it a priority, you’ll never make that change.  There will always be something else rivaling for your valuable time. There may be a piece of you that truly wants to change, but there’s another bigger part that isn’t really sold on the idea. And, some changes are easier than others. It always goes back to the pleasure vs. pain thing. The more painful the change, the harder to change the habit. As you probably know, we tend to shy away from experiences that are painful. In fact, we will go out of our way to avoid them.

Maybe you have a competing commitmentOn a conscious level, you definitely want to change. However, you are as confused as anyone as to why it’s not happening for you. It’s possible that you have a commitment to something else that is impeding your progress to accomplish your goal. For example, let’s pretend that your boss wants to groom you for the next big position. This is exciting and thrilling to hear that she believes in you. You just have to increase your sales by 15%. You know this is a doable, reasonable goal to meet. Yet, for the next 6 months, your numbers go down, down, down. This is frustrating because your numbers haven’t decreased in three years.

So, what’s really going on here? 

Deep down on a subconscious level, you have a strong belief that you should spend more time with your children. This new position would involve more time and more travel. You have worked hard for 10 years just to receive this promotion. However, you never peeled back the layers to really look at what’s truly important to you.  Apparently, this value of spending more time with your children is more important to you than you anticipated. It is driving your behavior in ways that shock you. For some reason, it’s hard for you to accept this truth.

The bottom line to change is this: Before you work on a behavior CHANGE, be sure to take some time to reflect on what you really want in life. The answer may surprise you.  

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Our life coach columnist explains the steps to take when you need an extra dose of confidence to get through a tough spot in life.

 

There’s a chance that you might be a fairly confident individual. On the majority of occasions, you are able to manifest the needed courage and strength to speak up and say the hard stuff to a room full of strangers. Most times, you have the guts to dive in and take a risk to go for that new demanding position they just posted. 

However, at some point in your life, a situation will occur that requires an extra heaping dose of confidence. Maybe you have just come off a disappointing experience or you’ve become comfortable (a little too comfortable) in life. The point is, when you dig down deep in the well, nothing will come up. And this will scare you.

So, what can you do to boost your confidence?

Let go of that experience when you failed

Everyone has experienced that one epic fail that rocked their world.  You know, the one that made you want to stay in bed for a month and never go back to interacting with humanity. The one that truly devastated you and made you question your worth to society. The majority find a way to move on, make sense of the situation and find meaning in the fail. Some even use the fail as a way to find passion and energy to perform even better in the future. However, there are a few that lug this “fail” around with them wherever they go for the rest of their lives, using this experience to define who they are. If you see yourself in this, recognize that this past fail maybe influencing your present, which then simply becomes part of your future. Make a conscious decision to let go of this experience and move on.

Think back to your most powerful moment

Everyone has at least one experience in their past where they felt confident, strong and powerful. You know, that one time where you were able to say and do exactly the right thing at the right moment. Acknowledge that this experience is proof that you can be the confident person that you aspire to be.  Visualize every detail of that experience and the emotions that you felt from the beginning to end. Play it in your head like a movie that you are watching over and over again. This is your reminder that you are a capable, courageous person.

Say “yes” to challenges

I was having a conversation with a woman the other day about a new exercise she was going to try. It was her friend’s idea to attend this class and she wasn’t looking forward to it. In fact, if her friend wasn’t pushing her, she would not be attending. I reminded her that it’s important to try new things and get outside her comfort zone. You say “no” to new things because the fear of failure is overpowering. The fear of “looking stupid” or “not being the best” influences your decision. Every time you back down and say no to trying something different and new, you take a little chip out of your confidence. Maybe you don’t notice daily, but over time, saying no and giving in to “that uncomfortable feeling” zaps your power. Start saying “yes” and learn how it builds your confidence and makes you feel as if you can tackle just about anything.

View your loss of confidence as a temporary situation. Your brain is wired to easily point out where you have failed, and less good at reminding you of all the many times that you have overcome great odds and soared. Push yourself to focus on the numerous experiences that reveal how courageous you truly are.

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Our life coach columnist explains how fearing the unknown can paralyze everything from your every day to your big picture goals. Read on for tips to start living fearlessly.

 

Fear. It keeps us locked in negative behavior.  It holds us backfrom accomplishing our goals and meeting expectations. It stands in our way from feeling confident and living the life that we desire.

Let me explain.

Let’s say you’re distraught because you are not getting along with someone at work. Last week, it blew up between the two of you into an ugly confrontation. Now, you can’t stop thinking about it daily and, to be honest, it sometimes gets in the way of you being productive. You play out old experiences with this person over and over in your head.  Each time, you are checking again to ensure that you are in the right in the situation, feeling those negative emotions over and over. This has the effect of making you angrier and angrier about the whole situation. In fact, by the time you are done with this process, your hurt, anger and indignation will be way out of proportion to the original offense.

Now, instead of actually dealing with the situation, you just go along with your day like nothing happened. However, your anger simmers beneath the surface and it’s hard for you to contain it. From your vantage point, you think that you are doing a superb job at managing the situation. You are convinced that no one else has any idea that you have this whole drama unfolding behind the scenes. 

You are wrong.

Instead of dealing with the situation, the anger that both of you continue to harbor is revealed in passive-aggressive comments and behavior. Or, maybe you just stay silent and feel miserable, like you’re going to explode in the near future. Which actually might happen.

Fear is why is it so hard for you to just have that tough conversation.

Fear of not knowing what to expect from the other person. Fear of not knowing how that person is going to react. Fear of hearing some truth that could hurt you to the core. The unpredictability of the situation can paralyze you. It can motivate you to just stay silent and just live with the situation. It can prompt you to express your feelings in unproductive ways that just add fuel to the fire. It can lead you to end up creating a much bigger problem than you originally had. And the fear can play tricks on your brain and convince you that you’re handling the problem quite appropriately, when that is very far from the truth.

Facing your fear takes courage.

Gather your courage and face the situation. Stop being an ostrich and putting your head in the sand. Stop rationalizing, complaining, wasting valuable time thinking and talking about the situation (to everyone else but that person) and just deal with it. Take a leap of faith and just have the talk.

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From #TimesUp to #MeToo, women are finding the courage to speak up and create an opportunity for change. Read on as our life coach columnist offers insight.

And so it continues: The growing list of men in high positions that are being accused of Sexual Harassment. Powerful men at the top of high profile corporations, media companies and government are having the light shown on their behavior. Finally, women feel that they have the courage to come forward and share the pain and shame that they have experienced.

Still, there are people that blame this on the women. Just the other day, someone asked me why women would not call men out on this behavior before it progressed to this level of abuse. And why would they come forward with allegations after so much time has passed. Why not just let it go? Or how it’s not safe or fair for men in the workplace today because they have to monitor every word and action.

It sure is easy to judge others when you haven’t been through the experience.

What I believe is important in this whole story is the fact that women are finally coming forward and having the courage to have a voice. Finally, this is an opportunity for our culture to CHANGE.

A friend shared that a couple of women were having a conversation the other day. They were discussing the current culture and the recent sexual harassment cases. One thing led to another, and they brought up how different minority groups were being treated. One woman remembered the “good old days” when no one would become offended when different minority groups were called names and bullied. It just was sparring and fun. She thinks the problem today is everyone is too sensitive.

Is everyone just too sensitive? I believe that she has weaved a rationalization into her memory that is just not rooted in reality. These minority groups put up with these attacks because they didn’t have a choice.

Women didn’t report abuse because they knew that theywould lose their job. People put up with bullying and harassment because they knew that they had no power in the situation. They just lived with it and hoped that it would pass. Anyone that remembers it differently is just plain naive.

Anyone that experienced it first-hand knows the truth.

So how do you make organizations safe and comfortable for all employees? Well, the first step is to take a look at your culture. Do your stated values match the actual behavior demonstrated in your workplace? Does your leadership team understand that they are role models for the rest of the organization? Are people consistently held accountable for their actions?

Does the culture allow employees to have a voice?

These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed.

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Given someone a second (or fifth) chance, only to be disappointed? Our life coach columnist explains how to know if you’re giving a chance or taking your chances.

 

I was driving downtown yesterday when a memory popped in my head. I was a young leader, having a conversation with one of my employees. During that time, I was a very involved leader that worked hard to see my people succeed and meet their potential. I focused on their strengths and supported them to achieve their goals.

Maybe I worked a bit too hard.

There was one young woman in particular that stands out in my memory. I really admired her since she had worked her way up from an entry-level job to hold a management position. At the time, top leadership was unhappy with her performance and I was spending more and more time with her to ensure that she progressed in her skills. I recognized her strengths and they far outweighed her weaknesses. Believing in her completely, I constantly defended her with upper leadership and gave her second chances to improve on her performance.

Many second chances.

The problem was that her performance continued to lag and upper leadership continued to pressure me. Over and over, I would have wonderful heart to heart talks with her and she would promise that things would improve. However, things stayed exactly the same.

Finally, I was forced to let her go from her position when the pressure became too great. Something happened that was impossible to defend.

Afterwards, I discovered that I clearly didn’t have the whole story. She had let many more responsibilities go by the wayside than I had initially thought. I had failed to see the situation clearly because I so desired to see her succeed.

I gave her way too many second chances.

The reality is that I wanted her to succeed much more than she actually wanted to succeed. I liked her, believed in her and felt invested in her future. I let my emotions get in the way of me seeing the reality. And after the whole experience passed, I realized that I had failed at being a true leader.

Yes, leaders want their people to succeed and fulfill their potential. However, true leaders understand that there is a line drawn in the sand where you acknowledge that you have given this individual enough chances to succeed and they haven’t delivered. A true leader realizes that the individual isn’t learning anything positive if they are allowed to continue subpar behavior. On top of that, the rest of the team internalizes that you condone subpar workplace performance.

That experience changed the way that I look at Real Leadership. Yes, it was my job as a leader to support and empower my employees to grow and fulfill their potential. However, it was also my responsibility to recognize when I have given an employee what they need to succeed and still do not witness the needed behavior change.

A second chance is just that: a second chance. What’s important to focus on is the numeral 2 – which refers to the fact that someone has made one mistake and is given another chance to make it right. If it’s the 3rd, 4th or 5th time that you are giving someone a second chance, you need to rethink your own behavior.

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They say consistency is key. Our life coach columnist explains why and practical ways to achieve it in your life.

When I wake up in the morning, I know that someone is waiting for me.  I hear a rustling in the corner of the room, and I remember that Myles, the Pug has an expectation. He knows that within the next three minutes, I will work my way downstairs and I will immediately open the backdoor to let him out.  Within 45 seconds I will see him at the door, waiting impatiently to come back in the house. He will run over to his bowl, expecting to eat.

Myles will run downstairs as soon as he hears me coming in from work. He will follow me around until I change into comfortable clothing. He will stare at me and patiently wait while I put on my shoes.  As I take the stairs one by one, he is jumping three at a time. He wants to get to his bowl before I get there.  He rushes through his dinner, and runs over to me to get his evening walk.

Myles knows that we have three different routes we take in our walk.  He expects to see the dog on the corner and gets excited to say hello.  He knows exactly how far we will walk and when we will turn around.  When we get back to the house, he pulls me up the driveway and waits for me to throw out the garbage.  He runs to the door because he knows that I will give him a treat when we get in the kitchen.

Myles likes his routine and knows what to expect day after day.  He takes comfort in knowing that the same thing will happen every single time.  Because he knows what to expect from me, things go a lot smoother and easier.

I don’t think it’s any different for humans. We definitely like our habits and routines. The people around us prefer to know what to expect from us.  For example, if you know anything about kids, you see how they crave a routine- they like to know what’s going to happen next.  Life goes a lot smoother if they know that the same things will be expected of them day by day. And if they don’t deliver on the expectation, it certainly helps when they understand what will transpire next.

It’s really no different in the workplace.  Have you ever struggled to work under someone’s inconsistent leadership?  I have. The reason I struggled was because it was unclear to me what this leader wanted from me.  The rules kept changing and I felt anxious by not understanding how to succeed in my job.  On top of that, the expectations of each employee differed and were inconsistent.  All of this added up to a culture of instability filled with negative emotions.

Great leaders show consistency and in their actions.

They have clear expectations and they treat each and every person with the same level of expectation. They don’t have different rules for different people. The people around them are crystal clear on how to succeed at their jobs. Leaders that are consistent have healthy work environments where people feel safe, trust in their leadership and aren’t waiting for the “other shoe to drop”.

Now think about your own behavior. Do you send a consistent message to others?  Are you consistent in your actions with others? Do others know what to expect from you day in and day out?

Congratulations if you have answered yes to these questions. You are one step closer to becoming a great leader.

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Our life coach columnist shares a personal story about how she almost missed out on an opportunity by judging too quickly. Read on for more.

I was attending a wedding out of town and my husband decided he needed to pick up a few things at the mall. I had nothing pressing to shop for so I was just along for the ride. After he picked up a couple pairs of pants, we made our way to the second floor to use the restroom.

While walking to the second floor, he suggested I go in the store near where I was waiting for him. Well, why not, I thought. I peered into the women’s store to check out what they had to offer. My first thought was, the clothes definitely don’t look like me. I took a quick look at the salespeople and saw that they definitely didn’t look like my type. This wasn’t a store that would have anything that I want and I wasn’t sure that I would feel comfortable in there.

Now, all those thoughts that I just mentioned happened in seconds. I wasn’t really conscious of any of this thinking. However, I looked again into the store and on the far wall, I saw a dress. Regardless of my earlier thoughts, I walked through the store and over to the far wall. There, I stared at the dress and admired the details. It looked well made and would be perfect for a wedding. I had seen similar dresses at all the top stores. I reached for the price tag and stared a while, trying to comprehend what it said.

The tag said $9.99. It wasn’t marked down but was the original price. I am not joking.

I grabbed the dress quickly and ran into the dressing room. It fit perfectly and I loved it. I went back and picked up the same dress in another color — when are you ever going to get two dresses for $20?

So why am I sharing this story about the dress? Well, let’s go back to my thoughts at the beginning of the story. I wasn’t going to walk in the store originally because I had decided that the store was not for me. I had an unconscious bias against the place since the “feel” and the employees didn’t look like me. My brain quickly processed, categorized, and assessed that I didn’t fit into this environment.

However, the important nugget in this story is the fact that I was able to override this assumption and walk in the store anyway. As you have already learned, I reaped the benefit from listening to this internal chatter and making a conscious decision that my thinking had no merit.

Each one of us is guilty of implicit bias in our day-to-day interactions. Our brains are wired to process information quickly and make rapid speed decisions. Our ancestors were blessed with this ability so they could survive and adapt to dangerous situations. However, this ability often holds us back from living our best life and treating others fairly. Consciously, we might not agree with these stereotypes, but our primitive brain is ruling our actions.

So think about your actions in your personal and professional life. Are there situations where you have let your primitive brain make the decision for you?

You might lose out on more than just a $10 dress.

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Our life coach columnist explains how the difference between a good and bad day often hidden within our self talk. Keep reading to learn more.

 

I was dropping off my training materials to be printed at the store. The man working behind the counter recognized me since I’m probably one of their best customers. As he began to work on my project, we made small talk.

All of a sudden, the humming of the copier stopped. We both turned to stare at the machine. He quickly assessed the issue and with a scowl on his face, he stated, “I knew my day was going to be bad like this.” Concerned, I watched him start to work on the problem. His emotional response was so dramatic that I assumed that this was a very serious situation and the copier was out of commission. I asked him if I should come back later, since it sounded like this was not going to be a fast fix. But no— after a quick cartridge replacement, the copier was up and running.

The reaction from the worker didn’t jive with the minor problem that he faced.

I couldn’t help but notice the irony in the situation. There I was, having my training material on Resilience printed, while he so clearly demonstrated a lack of any ability to weather the teeny tiniest of storms. In his world, this was a big catastrophe. In a Resilient person’s world, this would not even measure a blip on the radar screen.

I suppose that if you wake up in the morning believing that the worst is going to happen and your day is really going to suck, the universe will give you that bad day that really sucks.

However, is the universe really responsible for your day? Things happen and you are in charge of your reactions to what the universe throws at you. You decide whether you want to receive it in a positive manner or not. You decide how you want to react and respond to what has transpired.

Last year, I was walking downtown in my favorite dress on a hot summer day. It was lunchtime and the streets were packed. I was feeling really good about myself when I suddenly had this thought— did I zip up my dress? It did feel a bit breezy in the back. I quickly ran my hand up the back of my dress and my worst fears were confirmed. Not only was the long zipper open but it was impossible for me to zip it up without help. So, I turned around and asked the girl behind me if she would help me.

My first reaction to this predicament was shock, which quickly changed into extreme embarrassment, and then morphed into me seeing the humor in the situation. I started laughing and the women behind me also began to laugh. I was no longer embarrassed but found the situation really, really funny.

I guess that if I had started the day thinking that it was going to be a horrible day, I would have had that experience for confirmation of my prediction. But since I assumed everything was going to go well for me, I got over this trauma quickly with a good laugh.

Things will happen. Whether it’s a good or bad day is often dependent upon what you tell yourself before the day even begins. Whether it’s a good day or bad day is also dependent upon your reaction when those things happen. You make the CHOICE to live a Resilient life.

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Our life coach columnist explains how even just a few minutes of daily negativity - even in the media we consume - can affect our mood, performance and well-being.

The only time I watch the news on T.V. is when I am at the gym. However, the last time I was there, I noticed something interesting.  Although, exercising usually is a stress reducer and energizes me, I was feeling stressed, anxious and down by the time that I was finished and ready to leave the gym. What was going on? I thought back to the last hour and remembered the discussions around me coupled with the constant stream of incredibly bad news on the T.V. And then I checked into what I was thinking about and I understood the problem. I was swirling with all the negativity that I had just witnessed on the T.V.

There’s a lot of negative news out there to consume lately. If you’re keeping up on just the daily political news, you can become quite overwhelmed, stressed and frankly, a bit depressed. There’s just so much and the rate at which it is changing, is dizzying.  So the question is, is this negative news affecting you in your personal and professional life? Well, the truth may surprise you.

In 2012, a preliminary study with Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania found that just a few minutes of negative news daily has a significant effect on your mood. An additional study examined the longer-term impact of negative news on your well-being and performance. The results stunned the research team when they found that individuals that watched just three minutes of negative news in the morning were profoundly impacted. This group had a 27% greater chance of reporting 6-8 hours later that they had been unhappy during their day. Did you hear that? Over 25% of the group was severely affected by the negative news.

So what does it matter if employees are unhappy at work? Does that really affect the bottom line? Theresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, authors of the Progress Principle, collected 12,000 entries, from 238 employees, where their daily emotions were tracked. Surprisingly, 1/3 of the entries revealed employees that were unhappy, unmotivated or both.  Research shows that how you are feeling has a huge impact on your creativity, productivity, commitment and social interaction in the workplace.

I had already figured this out. Days when I’m not feeling my energized confident self, I have difficulty focusing, being productive and creative.

I know it’s impossible to be happy all the time. Things happen that derail you from your usual productive self, no matter how hard you try and how much resilience you possess. Couple this with our 24 access to news information daily, and you can better understand the problem. However, having awareness of how negative news can impact your emotions and moods and in turn, your work performance, can help you make better decisions about your “negative news consumption”.

In today’s fast paced, over stimulated world, it’s definitely something to think about.

 

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Our life coach columnist talks stress and the biggest thing you can do to manage it (and your long to-do list).

Yesterday, I was busy giving a full day presentation on resilience to a group of IT workers. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I was exhausted by the time that I got home. I sat behind my desk and tried my best to focus and accomplish some work. However, no matter how hard I tried, my work output was nonexistent. Have you ever been so drained that you can’t even push yourself? Finally, I made a decision to just stop for today, get a good night’s sleep and start fresh in the morning.

After working out, I sat down at my desk to make out my to-do list. I had thought about some of the things that I wanted to accomplish for the last couple hours, and the list just kept getting longer and longer. As I filled out my list, I began to feel that anxious feeling when there are just too many things to do at once.

I was feeling stressed and I didn’t know where to start.

Now, here’s the thing about making out a to-do list. I did exactly what I tell everyone NOT to do. I made a list of everything that has to be accomplished in my personal AND professional life. I made a list of everything, and I mean everything, that is weighing on my mind and that I have been neglecting.

It was overwhelming because it was a crazy long list, and it was virtually impossible to accomplish everything in one day.

In other words, I was setting myself up for failure. There was no way that I could make a dent in that list. And even if I accomplished some of the many items on the list, way too many would still be left unchecked.

The problem was what was going on inside my head. I was evaluating my success based on my ability to accomplish my COMPLETE list. My expectations were unrealistic, to say the least. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was making one long list instead breaking down the list into separate days with each task prioritized. That would have eliminated the “overwhelmed feelings” that I was experiencing.

The truth about stress is that it’s all about perspective. It’s not about avoiding or reducing the things that cause you stress in your life. Often, that’s just impossible! It’s more about changing your perspective and expectations as you go through your day. If I could have practiced what I preach and changed the chatter that was going on inside my head, I could have eliminated some stress I was feeling in the last couple days.

Having the tools to be resilient is the first step. Actually utilizing those tools is the second and most important step. We all fall back into familiar negative patterns now and then. It’s what you do about it that really matters.

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