Strengthen Your Core

Strong-CourageousOver 40% of our behaviors are habits. Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. Some practices are good, like tooth brushing for healthy oral hygiene and some are even fundamental to our ability to function. But there are those things we do that are far from mindful as we react to the initial cue to engage, knowing the end result will make us feel better in some way, if only for the short term. Habits, good or bad, make us who we are. The key is controlling them. If you know how to modify your habits, then even a small effort can create significant changes. Eating what’s convenient vs. what you know is healthier or watching TV because you are too tired to take a walk are the default behaviors that can be changed when you have a plan to short-circuit the familiar cause/effect patterns.

We all learned early on that the “Three Little Pigs” had some construction challenges and that the house built on the strongest foundation was most resilient. If you attempt to drive a golf ball far down the fairway with your feet together, you will get mixed outcomes ranging from losing your balance to not connecting with the ball at all. Taking a wider stance puts you in a far better position to maintain your stability which will likely result in better shots.

So how is this image transferable to behaviors that we have placed on auto-pilot like gym workouts? In my case, I feel better after my 60-minute program is over, but I know it is one that could use some updating by scheduling a session with a trainer to plan and review my current goals. I love doing sit-ups, hundreds of them, and not even break a sweat in the process. However, as soon as I moved from the bench to an exercise ball; not so easy, and in fact, not only was it harder, but my attention was now completely focused on each sit-up. I could not zone out and just go through the motions and when light weights were added, I quickly went from being stable to shaky as new muscles were engaged.

It takes practice to make a change and with the specific goal in mind of getting stronger by building my core, I am looking forward to hitting better golf shots and recording those favorite TV shows for post-gym workouts. An added benefit is that with a sturdier mid-section, my posture is improving and I feel more confident and energetic. Yes, a simple change in process can indeed yield broader results than expected.

How will you strengthen your core?

• Identify 1 activity that focuses on your core
• Plan it
• Do it!

© 2016 Maureen Weisner

Always Apologizing?

Nervous Business Woman Cringing As She Bites Her NailsIs your tendency to apologize or over-apologize? The bad news is that women do so far more than men according to a study from the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. The good news is that it is a habit that can be broken and yes, it does take practice. Constantly apologizing can certainly lower self-esteem and contribute to feelings of frustration and anger. When you say things like, “I’m sorry I interrupted you”, or “I’m sorry but I just had a question,” “Excuse me,” and more. Is it an automatic response to some people in your personal or professional life? How can you prepare for a more positive interaction?

Self-awareness is key. Take a moment to reflect the next time you begin to start a sentence with, “I’m sorry.” Apologies are appropriate if you made a mistake or were wrong, however, they can be self-esteem eroders if they are commonplace in your interactions.

Likewise, new studies indicate that if you want a favor done, ask a woman. In one study, 47-business school students were asked to recall to agreeing to a favor on the job at a time when they preferred to say no. According to authors of Breaking the Glass Ceiling with “No”, the female participants did the favor even though they were five times more likely than males to have reported feeling worn out. They were also twice as likely to have been worried about the consequences of saying no.

In a second study, female undergrads were 50% more likely to comply with an implicit request for a favor than were male students. “The willingness of women to do favors in the workplace may lead them to become overburdened with low-skill tasks,” said the researchers.It is important for all of us to consider who is making the request, and what the consequences of not complying are both in and outside the workplace.

Habits can be changed but it takes awareness and practice. Begin today by listening and not automatically responding. You can agree to check your schedule/workload, for previous commitments, decide if this is something you will do and inform them accordingly. By changing your way of managing requests, you may decrease the number or type of favor you are asked to do. You can also deflect or even defer to another colleague and spread the wealth around.


Stuck in First Gear

task4-300x225Watching is different than doing. Assuming you can execute from the perspective of observer is merely conjecture. Jumping out of an airplane without a parachute as you mimic the movements of a bird is foolhardy. What about driving a standard shift car because you’ve been a passenger in one, and by the way, it’s not a rental?

My boyfriend, later to become my husband, drove a Volkswagen bug everywhere. He and “Betsy” had a long relationship and I was relatively new to the scene. The car did have many miles on it and I had certainly been along for many rides, so I was somewhat familiar with its operation. However, I had only driven automatics until the day I had to borrow “Betsy” and needed to get some road time in quickly prior to going solo. He was more than patient as we bucked around a large parking lot and then onto a busy street, stalled out several times and continued for a few more blocks. He assured me I would get the hang of it and his confidence was contagious. He must have inspired me because I was not nervous as I set out the following morning in rush hour traffic enroute to an important job interview. Forgetting about fear or comfort zones, I was launched.

I would love to report that things went smoothly and that I never broke a sweat, but it would not be an accurate account at all. In fact, the car stalled more than once and I was indeed stuck in first gear too…more than once. Luckily there were no hills to manage and I quickly blocked out the various horns and yells from other drivers. In fact, I drove downtown and back without stripping the gears or damaging the car in any noticeable way.

For me, most important was the success of learning something quickly; prompted by necessity, as well as having the unquestionable support of my instructor in the process. Yes, he had been a passenger in my car many times and knew that I could be trusted to use good judgment. But it was also a leap of faith to allow me to practice on his beloved “Betsy”. He assumed I could do it and this gave me the additional confidence to get behind the wheel and go. What an accomplishment and what a terrific feeling afterward! Rather than being shaken by the early morning scenario, I was more self-assured at that job interview than I ever expected I would be. The energetic spill-over from managing my transportation successfully was palpable, empowering enough to decline the job offer and continue to look for a better fit.

• When have you done the thing you never thought you could do?
• Who supported your actions?
• What were the short and/or long term effects?
• How did you change as a result?

©2014 Maureen Weisner

Giving a Work Presentation

public-speakingDoes the thought of public speaking throw you into a state of panic or is it another terrific opportunity to demonstrate your ease in front of an audience? Most of us are called upon at some point to speak to a group and/or present materials to share information. No matter your skill level, with focused persistence, proper preparation and timing during a workday, you can increase the odds of a positive result. In fact, it’s not only what you say in that meeting with your boss, but when you say it. The best way to avoid having your ideas met with blank stares and stifled yawns is to schedule your presentations on Tuesdays, around 10:30 AM. According to Andrew Bradbury, author of Successful Presentation Skills, “In the midmorning, early birds are still going strong and the night owls are getting into the stride of their day, meaning everyone in the audience should be energized and receptive.” Furthermore, in a 2008 survey commissioned by the staffing agency Accountemps, Tuesday was found to be the most effective day to show off Powerpoint skills. People are in the full swing of their work week and not yet distracted by the upcoming weekend. And, with a Tuesday presentation, if follow-up is necessary, there is still a cushion of three more workdays. Given that you managed all else, to ensure the most receptive audience, timing really is everything after all. And remember to smile. Your audience wants you to be successful.

Consider both personal and professional circumstances where timing strategically made a difference.
• Did you notice the receptiveness of your audience?
• How will you factor time and day into future presentations?
• Schedule something ASAP based on these suggestions
• Compare a Tuesday AM meeting to another day and time

© 2014 Maureen Weisner