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Just a few days ago I had one of those mornings! I felt the seconds flying past me, and the clock mocking me. I couldn’t seem to advance no matter how speedy I was! It also felt like everyone was pushing my buttons! There’s no other way to say it other than, I was in a sh!$ty mood! Been there?

I know that it’s impossible not to have days like these every now and then, but having one recently reminded me just how important it is to prepare for a great morning! I’d like to believe that I am extremely conscious of my thoughts and reactions, and so I did quite a bit of reflecting during that day to pin point what went wrong and how I could make sure to avoid it happening again (or anytime soon!).

See, as leaders, we can’t just go to work and ignore the world (or scream at it!). We are always affecting something or someone. As leaders we always have our vision in sight, and every moment we set a course toward that vision. More importantly, we hopefully are inspiring others to join us on this moment-to-moment trek to accomplish great things. See, as leaders, we can’t afford to have bad mornings.

In reflecting, here’s what set me off:

•   I didn’t sleep well and I woke up too early.
•   Figuring out breakfast for the family was challenging.
•   I couldn’t decide what to wear.
•   My family’s humor just didn’t jive with me that morning!

Now, would you agree with me that these things are little things? Yes! But what happens when a lot of little things add up? In my case it was just enough to throw me off into an emotional storm that lasted more than I wanted. I think about those individuals who experience the onslaught of many little things each day and don’t reflect; don’t understand why they are feeling as they are; don’t see how easy it can be to shift it, and never take action for change. For busy leaders, it’s crucial to plan for success and have systems and habits that support our wellbeing. On this morning, my being was not well, LOL!

As Oprah would say, here’s what I know for sure! These are the systems/habits that can help me (and I suspect you too, if your mornings can be a little crazy) ensure that I start out my days happy and effective:

1.   Go to bed at a reasonable time to ensure you get at least 7 hours of sleep.

2.   Prepare for bedtime with a ritual, like a warm bath and cup of tea, or relaxing music, or reading or yoga.

3.   Make sure your fridge and pantry are stocked for the week so you don’t have to figure out how to feed yourself and your army!

4.   If you’ve got kiddos, like I do, make those school lunches the night before and set out their clothes.

5.   Set out your own clothes! Look at what your day will be like, know how you want to look and feel, pick your outfit, and steam/iron it.

6.   Set your Mind! Mindset is EVERYTHING. Have one or a few mantras on hand that allow you to set your mood. A good one I could have used that morning—“I laugh at myself & it feels good!”

7.   Turn off the TV and play music instead! The power of music to shift our mood is real! TV chatter and the increasing amount of bad news being broadcasted can overwhelm us. It becomes noise we don’t need.

8.   Forgive yourself. Sometimes, no matter how much we plan, things just don’t go as planned. Shake it off and don’t make it personal. Peace over Perfection! (Isn’t this a great mantra??!!)

9.   Shift to love and gratitude. When we sweat the small stuff, as I did that morning, I picture myself stopping for a few seconds, looking at my family, my home, everything in front of me, and saying “Thank you! I love these people and these things! I’m so blessed!” Focusing on what’s real melts away the self-pity, anger and stress.

10.   Breathe. Find just a few moments before heading out your door to take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, smiling. It’s a re-calibration and a moment to just BE before we launch for the day!

I know these work for me, when I work them!

What helps you start off your day successfully and positively? Please share your ideas below.

Here’s to great mornings!

It’s your life. Lead it well.




A wonderful conversation I had this week with a fellow coach inspired today’s post. I think we can all relate to these situations, whether we are the offenders or the victims.

Let’s start here …

Ever have a vision of that perfect workday — when you have your list of things to accomplish and it all goes off without a hitch? Hopefully, you have many of those days when you are in the flow and getting things done. But, one fine day you are thrown that “monkey” – that emergency or problem that belongs to someone else and is thrown on you to “fix now” (or the world will end)!

Been there, yes?

This can happen due to a lack of planning, strategy, understanding, or commitment of the other person. You may have someone in your organization who does often, causing you to tackle other people’s emergencies, which subtracts that precious time you need to actually do your own work and feel a sense of accomplishment.

If you are leading others, it may be wise for you to evaluate how you operate and identify if this is something that you tend to do. This habit is often unconscious and can be habitual. However, I’d suspect that if you don’t appreciate others throwing monkeys on your back, you probably don’t want to be doing it to others you are leading or working with. This behavior, if done consistently, can create a hostile or resentful work environment.

If you are on the receiving end, you may be having difficulty preventing this from happening. It’s important to be a team player, and sometimes we all have to take one for the team, even if it’s not our job. But, if you’re feeling like a zookeeper lately, it’s time to do something about those monkeys and speak up!

Here are 5 steps you can take to send those monkeys where they belong!

  1. Keep a daily list of your priorities – especially those that make or break the business. You were hired for a reason. Make sure you know how important your work is so that others know as well.
  2. Don’t add fuel to the fire! Usually, when the monkeys are thrown to you they come with anxiety and a sense of desperation. When working with individuals (especially those who lead us!), it’s easy to take on their anxiety and not see the forest among the trees. Breathe. Remain calm. Don’t mirror back the emotions you see and feel. Instead, create a space of serenity around the issue. You can help be the water that puts out the fire by bringing clarity and reality to the situation. Ask: Is this truly an emergency? Is it really needed NOW? Am I the right person to fix this? Why did this happen and how can we prevent it from happening again?
  3. Place that monkey in its cage! Create a holding space for the issue until that safe space has been created to understand what the real story is. In the heat of the moment, our tendency can be to drop everything and “handle this now!” But, what happens when this is a pattern? Instead of producing quality work and moving forward, we are simply handling “stuff” and moving nowhere.
  4. Have that difficult conversation. Now that you (a) know your priorities, (b) stayed calm, and (c) took time to understand the situation fully and its importance (or not), now it’s time to (d) muster up the courage to address the situation or pattern. Helping your supervisor, colleague or subordinate understand the value of your position and work. Additionally, if the behavior is a pattern, it’s uber important to help the other person (won’t happen overnight) understand that. They may not be receiving any feedback at all and feel it’s okay to throw their work onto others. Prepare a script to help you practice. A simple start to the conversation could go like this:

    “Sally, I would love to help you solve this problem. I have these three priorities I’m tending to, and as you are aware, X is due today. I’m happy to dedicate some time to this at the end of the week, or speak to you further to help you figure out how best to solve it. Sound good?”

  5. Build a fence! It’s time to be proactive. Part of being a great team player and self-leader is being aware of issues or situations that can potentially become someone’s monkey, or your monkey! Understand what your team members and your supervisor(s) are/is working on that may boomerang toward you. If you’re not caught off guard you’ll be better prepared to manage through it.  You also may be able to help others be proactive.

Have a monkey you’d like to share? I’d love to help you think it through.

Comment below.

It’s your life. Lead it well.