Category Archives: Book

Trying Something New? Deal with the Discomfort

uncomfortable business peopleExperiencing the discomfort of trying something new is not fun. Surely you can think of numerous times you have avoided doing something because you didn’t want to feel the discomfort. For example, it is not easy to fire someone. It’s heart wrenching to discipline your child. It’s scary to go away to college. We sometimes find ways around doing what we ought to do to avoid the discomfort.

We ignore bad behavior, invite others along to accompany us, or decide we didn’t really want to do it anyway. We conclude the person’s performance wasn’t really that bad or choose to go to college closer to home. By doing this, we limit ourselves (and others) to being dependent and accomplishing less.

It takes courage to break through the discomfort. Bill Treasurer describes three primary types of courage in his book, Courageous Leadership. One of them is particularly important in this context: “try courage” (Treasurer 2011). We need courage to try new things. It may be scary, but we need to be brave to be independent.

“Courage is acting on what is right, despite being afraid or uncomfortable, when facing situations involving pain, risk, uncertainty, opportunity, or intimidation.”  —Bill Treasurer

How do you develop the courage to try new things? I know a child who is afraid to try new foods. She’s more afraid than the average person. She will avoid it if at all possible, even if it means missing out on a treat or a meal. When the consequences get so grave or the incentives so great, she might venture out to taste something new. She starts by portioning off the smallest morsel she can possibly get onto a fork without it falling through the cracks. Then she sniffs it. She slowly counts to ten, makes sure no one is looking, and trepidatiously puts it in her mouth. She then chews for what seems like an immeasurable number of times before swallowing. It is certainly a sight to see. The fear and discomfort she experiences from trying a new food are impressive. It’s easy to see why she avoids it. Yet if she doesn’t try new foods she’ll have to live in a very small and lonely world.

For some people, trying new things is invigorating. That’s probably why the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans jelly beans from the Harry Potter series have been successful. There’s always someone who is willing to try the earwax flavor. There is a point, however, where we all experience a certain level of discomfort. There is no easy way around it. Get used to it.

The first step to building independence is to get out of your comfort zone. If you are used to being taken care of by someone (parents, manager, spouse, etc.), that will mean to start taking risks and making decisions on your own. When you feel yourself staying inside your comfort zone, ask yourself what you can do to get out of it.

How I’ve Kept It REAL

Joanie speaking at book release party smaller

Someone asked me the other day how I maintain confidence and treat others so respectfully at the same time. She didn’t say it exactly like that, but the gist of the message was how come I’m not an arrogant snob? Without even thinking, I blurted out, “I work hard at staying true to my values.” Fortunately, one of my values is authenticity, so speaking without thinking didn’t trip me up.

But it’s true. To the best of my ability, I embody the values I teach others. Fortunately, being aware of my imperfections is one of those values. I in no way pretend to be perfect at any of the REAL Life values, but I strive to do the best I can. And that’s all any of us can do.

REAL Life

Someone else said to me just this week that I seem perfect. That shocked me on several levels. First is because it is so far from the truth that I didn’t even know how to respond. The second was that I was so curious how she could have that impression of me. What air was I giving off?

The only thing I could think of was that my resilience was showing through. At least to her, I was staying engaged and maintaining a positive attitude. Then again, she hasn’t seen me at 6:30 in the morning, or when I have really gotten frustrated or down. I haven’t known her that long and I don’t see her that often.

All this is to say that things aren’t always what they seem. Keeping it REAL is hard work, every day. I don’t pretend it’s easy. I have been through the test on all four components of REAL Life over the past several months (not to mention my whole life) as I published my first book. Trust me, I’ve had to overcome numerous obstacles, receive countless corrections, flex in more ways than I had ever conceived of, and work independently as a writer and promoter of my book. It is no easy task.

But that is the whole point: real life is not easy. We need to be resilient, empowered, authentic, and limber to succeed in life, no matter what we do.

Are You a Victim of Learned Helplessness?

help wantedHave you noticed that parents are doing more and more for their children these days? For example, a mother of a ten-year-old tells me she still picks out her daughter’s clothes for her every day. She doesn’t have confidence in her daughter to choose her own clothes. A seven-year-old boy tells his daddy to put his socks and shoes on for him—and Daddy does! Daddy doesn’t push back to tell his son that he could do it himself.

Whether it’s the parents or the children who drive the dependence, it creates young adults who don’t know how to take care of themselves or do their work independently. This is what managers are complaining about. Young workers need “hand holding” to get them from one step to the next in task completion.

How do we raise children to learn how to do it on their own? Two things have to happen for children to develop into independent people:

  1. Parents have to let go and
  2. kids have to let go.

It’s that simple.

But it’s not that easy! Parents feel special when they are needed. They also feel special when their “best friends” love them unconditionally. Children feel good when they are taken care of, and it is so much easier if someone else does it for them.

In addition, it is scary to let go. It’s scary for parents to let their kids try things on their own because they might fail or get hurt in the process. It is scary for kids to try things on their own for the same reasons. It’s the discomfort that keeps the codependence in place.

Experiencing the discomfort of letting go andnervous trying things out on your own is not fun. Surely you can think of numerous times you have avoided doing something because you didn’t want to feel the discomfort. For example, it may be awkward for you to tell an employee that they haven’t done a good enough job. It may be heart-wrenching to discipline your child. It may be scary to take the car for a spin on your own for the first time or ask someone out on a date or travel far away to college.

We sometimes find ways around doing what we ought to do to avoid the discomfort. We ignore bad behavior, invite others along to accompany us, or decide we didn’t really want to do it anyway. We conclude the person’s performance wasn’t really that bad or choose to go to college closer to home. By doing this, we limit ourselves (and others) to being dependent and accomplishing less.

It takes courage to break through the discomfort. It may be scary, but we need to be brave to be independent and foster independence in others.

New Year New Book!

Flying without a Helicopter Book Cover finalQuestions and Answers from Joanie Connell

When is the book coming out?

While copies of Flying without a Helicopter: How to Prepare Young People for Work and Life are currently available on Amazon, the book will be officially released on Friday, January 23rd at a Book Release Celebration in San Diego. The social media book launch will kick off the week of February 23rd. A free webinar will be held as a part of that launch. If you would like to join the book launch, please sign up.

What motivated you to write the book?

People often ask me why I wrote the book. The answer is I wrote Flying without a Helicopter because it needed to be written. Managers kept coming to me with frustrations about how to handle the new generation of workers. At the same time, many of them had 20-something kids moving back home because they couldn’t make it their own. The connection had to be made: raising children in overprotected and over-structured environments creates adults who rely on others to solve their problems and keep them happy. Ask anyone who’s been there and they will tell you it’s not a good place to be.

What is the main message and who should read it?

The main message of the book is that parents need to let kids develop independence and resilience to make it in the real world. The book is for parents, managers, educators, and youth themselves. It focuses on developing resilience, independence, creativity, and communication skills and is written from the perspective of the workplace.

What is a book release celebration?

The Book Release Celebration is a party to celebrate the completion of the book and thank everyone who helped make it happen. There will be live music and a photography exhibit, as well as food, wine, and beer. Of course, there will be books for sale, as well as signing, but the main focus of the evening is to have fun. There will be raffles for door prizes throughout the evening. The event is free, but, to reduce waste, we are asking people to bring a cup for wine or beer or support Kill the Cup by purchasing a reusable cup for only $5. Please join us at 3rd Space on Friday, January 23rd, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. for an enjoyable evening with a celebratory vibe. RSVP on Face Book or contact us at Flexible Work Solutions.

What is a social media book launch?

A social media book launch can be many things, but in this instance it is an intense week of promoting the book across social media platforms and online stores. There will be many blogs, articles, and book reviews shared throughout the week, and many promotions will be offered to encourage book sales, shares, tweets, blogs, and so on. It is definitely a week to stay tuned for chances to win prizes, get deals on books, coaching and speaking engagements, and learn useful ways to build resilience, creativity and other workplace skills.

New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Worry, Just Do It

Flying without a Helicopter Book Cover finalBy Joanie Connell.

My husband said to me one day, “Do you know what I love about you?” My heart beat a little faster as I fluffed my hair and stood up a little straighter. “You get things done.” He finished.

I tried not to let my disappointment show. “I get things done? Seriously? That’s your compliment?” The conversation in my head began. But, I reflected for a moment. “It is true, I do get things done.” I reconciled and simply said “Thanks.”

One of the things that differentiates people who get things done from people who don’t is that they actually DO it. It’s as simple as that. They don’t sit around and worry about it. They don’t think of all the things that can go wrong. They don’t rouse up all the reasons why they can’t do it. They just do it.

WHAT’S THE SECRET TO GETTING THINGS DONE?

The first steps and the last steps are the hardest. What stops many people is taking action in the first place. Another stumbling block is lack of follow through. We talk about these in business language as being “results oriented” and having “execution skills.” You can talk all day about getting results and you can brainstorm ideas on how to get good results, but if you don’t execute, it won’t happen. Likewise, if you don’t follow through till the very last step, you won’t get the results either.

I just finished a book and people often say to me, “I’ve always wanted to write a book. I’m impressed that you actually did it.” And that’s the secret. I just did it. I wanted to write a book, I took the first steps, and continued on, followed through till the very end and now it’s out there. I won’t say it was easy, because it wasn’t. Getting things done rarely is. I ran into many stumbling blocks along the way, but I didn’t let them stop me because I wanted to get it done. I’ll also admit that following through till the end has been excruciating at times, but work always is. In fact, I write about that in my book.

DON’T WORRY!

Engineers are great at figuring out what might go wrong. But the good ones don’t worry about it; they prepare for it, work around it, or fix it or sometimes just live with the fact that nothing’s ever perfect. In other words, it’s okay to recognize potential obstacles, but worrying about them does no good. “Problem solving” is another skill we talk about in the workplace as being critical to success—in any job. As the complexity of the task grows, so does the number of problems. Expecting problems and working through them, not only require creativity, but also resilience. But what they don’t need is worrying and fretting and gloom and doom.

GETTING NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS DONE

Making a commitment to getting something done is a good first step, but then you need to take action. For example, making a resolution to get fit requires you to exercise. Sometimes the hardest step is to make it out the door to the gym, the jogging path, or wherever. But if you commit to getting out the door, no matter how tired or unmotivated you are, you will find that you’ve actually gotten something done. You made it there. The next step is easy because you’re already on a roll.

Keeping up with your resolutions can be tricky. You may get busy or frustrated with your fitness plan after a couple of months, but don’t give up. Remember, the difference between people who get things done and those who don’t is that they just DO it.

Joanie Connell Interview

This blog is actually a vlog about my new book.  Spend 2 1/2 minutes watching this short video interview and help me come up with a new title for the book.

I’ll have more information on the book available soon.  If you have suggestions for a catchy title, I’d love your ideas.  The current working title is “Lessons from the Workplace: What Parents and Schools Are Missing.”

Empowering Millennials

 “Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.” ― Adrienne Rich

helping handStructured mentoring is the rage right now. Millennials love it! Not only do they love it, but they expect it and they need it—at least they think they need it. They’ve been programmed to think they need it from years of coaching and personal tutoring. They’ve been taught to believe they don’t have the power within themselves to get the answers. I don’t believe that’s true.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the workplace it’s that effective people take responsibility for their own development. They don’t wait around for the company to hand them a mentor and a plan. Effective people take action to get things done. They don’t wait around for someone to help them. That’s not to say that effective people don’t ask for help; they do. They seek help when they need it and find a way to keep moving forward when it’s not available. That’s because effective people have personal power.

powerHaving personal power means feeling confident in your abilities and knowing you can access the resources you need to accomplish what you want to. It means having a level of control over yourself and the world around you. It is about knowing what you can and cannot control. It is about thinking for yourself and being true to yourself. Personal power enables you to get things done.

Managers regularly complain to me that the new generation of workers needs too much “hand holding.” “They aren’t independent enough.” “They need directions and feedback at every step of the way.” How do we empower the Millennials to be able to fend for themselves? Mentoring is a good thing. I don’t knock that. But we need to ask ourselves if we are truly empowering Millennials by setting up so many structured mentoring programs for them. Could we, in fact, be disempowering them in the process? Could we be “enabling” them to remain helpless and dependent on others? By cowing to their mentoring demands, aren’t we continuing to send them the message that they can’t do it on their own?

As a consultant, one of the first things that we are taught is what the client needs is often not what the client asks for. For example, a client might call up asking for a training program for their team. Upon further examination, we might find out that it’s really the leader who needs training on how to lead the team.

Millennials ask for mentoring. They also ask to have their parents come on their job interviews. Companies are meeting these demands by providing what is asked for. But these respobird flyingnses don’t address the root of the issue: Millennials need to become more independent and self-empowered (and their parents need to back off). If we’re going to mentor young people to be effective in the workplace, that’s the message we need to send.