Tag Archives: life lessons

Leadership - Mindset

Positive Outcomes

About 18 years ago, I attended a networking event (with my four-month-old daughter strapped into a snuggly), and I was lamenting to some colleagues that the lion’s share of my consulting business came from one client – a great client with whom I thoroughly enjoyed working,  but one client nonetheless. I feared that I was not creating the stability I needed to build a successful business.  If that one client pulled out, I’d be sunk, I griped.

This reaction from a colleague made a huge impact on my business acumen.  “Let me get this straight,” said Corrin. “You have a client you love, you have three children who are healthy, and you’re worried?  You should be grateful.”

I left that event thinking:  She is right.  My cup is way beyond half full.  I need to focus on what I have, instead of what I don’t have.


Positivity is a powerful business tool.  And while the field of positive psychology offers up an abundance of evidence for the connection behind optimism and positive outcomes, my belief in the concept came from a personal experience.

I was reminded of that networking event a few months ago when a coaching client told me, “I am just going to pour positive energy into what’s in front of me!  Not because it’s something I should do, but because when I pour positivity into anything, it seems to get better.”

All of us can learn from this.  In organizations, we tend to focus on what is going wrong instead of what is going right.  And when we fail to pay attention to what’s going right, it can evaporate pretty quickly.

Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to reframe your mindset.  Let’s say that your team landed three new clients, but missed their revenue goal.  The negative message is that the team failed.  The positive message is that any of those three clients have the potential to become million-dollar clients.

Or maybe your logo redesign required lots of back and forth with the design team.  Negative message: This costs more than we planned.  Positive message:  We ended up with a logo that everyone is happy with and that will endure.

So how can you inject your workplace with positivity?  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What have I done well this week?
  2. Whose work in the last month should I affirm with praise or a note of recognition?
  3. How will I reward team members who have contributed to the success of our organization this quarter?

The bottom line is that what we think about and emphasize is what grows.  So plant the seeds of positivity at your workplace and see what sprouts!

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Pay No Attention to the Pink Elephant

Pay No Attention to the Pink Elephant. karen-pink-elephant
At a recent retreat of senior-level managers, we started the day with a yoga session.  What a positive way to open a meeting, don’t you think?

The instructor arrived early, set up the room, and greeted the participants as we entered.  We were doing the initial breathing exercises when she said, “Forget about all the emails piling up in your inbox.  If you’re worried about what might happen later in the retreat, let that go.”
Her intention was exactly the opposite of the outcome!  When we tell our minds what not to think about, that’s pretty much all we can think about.  The experience reminded me of a coach that I had who was keen on neuro-linguistic programming.  This coach often says wittily, “Forget about the big pink elephant with white spots.”  Well, of course, what do you imagine we think about whenever she says this?  Did you picture a pink elephant with white spots, just from reading this?  It’s impossible not to think about what’s being described, even if only for a split second.
This is a valuable lesson for coaching employees and for improving performance.  Rather than telling employees what not to do, tell them what to do.  For example, instead of saying, “Don’t turn in the report late again,” ask, “How will you meet the March 15 deadline?”  Instead of saying, “Don’t be cranky with the customers,” say, “Think what this customer means to our business and greet her with a smile.”
It’s a small adjustment, yet it will reap elephant-sized results.
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Feedback and Recognition - Mindset

Do You Know the Trick?

I just came back from the National Speakers Association annual convention in Phoenix, Arizona. Bringing one of my kids to NSA’s fantastic concurrent youth conference adds a whole new dimension to my experience.For instance, one of the highlights of my trip was attending an Arizona Diamondbacks game with my son. I’m not a Diamondbacks fan, but I enjoyed watching several outstanding players. When Luis Gonzalez came up to bat, my son said, “Watch his stance, Mom. It’s unusual, but it works for him!” Four seconds later, Gonzalez hit a homerun.

“How many little league coaches do you think told Luis to change his stance?” I asked.

“That’s the trick, Mom,” he answered. “Knowing when to listen to your coaches, and when to do what feels right for you.”

Another high point was the NSA awards program. I sat enthralled as the coveted annual CPAE awards were presented to five outstanding NSA members for their material, style, experience, delivery, image, professionalism, and communication. For a speaker, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime recognition of excellence.

One winner is an accomplished photographer. He uses his amazing images to transform audiences. I wonder how many times he was told he could never make a living taking pictures. I also wonder how many people would have been able to envision a business that combined photography and speaking.

Another recipient was one of my mentors, who reaches out to others by telling stories about her life. Her real life. One time she made a presentation wearing a bathrobe and slippers because she wanted to begin on a humorous note. In her acceptance speech, she talked about balancing her profession with her family. I wonder how many times she heard people say she wouldn’t be viewed as a professional if she revealed so much of her self.

No matter what their fields, outstanding professionals often seem to follow similar recipes for success: They learn from others, they graciously accept training and feedback, and they hold tightly to their uniqueness.

How does your uniqueness fit with your profession and expertise? Whether it’s your stance, your bedroom slippers, or your photographs, what do you offer that is yours and yours alone? What’s your recipe?

Have you learned the “trick”?

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