Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why I'm glad to Celebrate My 50th Birthday

I had my 50th birthday yesterday and here are 5 personal reasons why I was happy about it:

  1. My friendships at 50 are fulfilling. It is important to periodically take inventory and evaluate whether some of your relationships are toxic. In our 20's and 30's, we learn about trusting people, about whether people are looking out for our best interest (as well as theirs), and we tend to be focused on building our careers, our families, and our lives as adults. Now that I am at this stage of life, I nurture the relationships that have weathered the good and the bad. I'm better able to smell who just wants to ride piggy back. I know who is only there during the good times. It is more fulfilling for me to have a circle of friends who see the "Susie" in me and like that about me. I'm blessed with friends who are the family I choose.

  2. All three of my boys live in my home and will be launching into their own independence within the next few years. I had my first child at age 33, my second at 35 and my last one at 37. If I had children in my 20's, I admit, I would not have been the best mom. Graduate school with kids was hard for my peers and I waited to have children so I could be more focused for my family. I knew that it would be important to "be there" when my kids were teenagers. Well, I'm "there" now and I'm proud of myself for positioning my boys as my number one priority. You will not hear me saying, "How did they grow up so fast?" I won't regret or waste the time I have with them. I enjoy every day and moment.

  3. I'm a lifelong learner. Working for Dr. Phil, he always said, "You don't know what you don't know" and it is true! I don't apologize for it and never will. While media use me as an expert, I'm the first to tell you that I have a lot to learn. That's a good thing. That means that our abilities and interests can shift. Our likes and dislikes can change. What gives us energy can increase. I want to always learn something new.

  4. The alternative to living to 50 is passing away in your prime. Each day is a gift and let's all work hard to be present and live each moment...and that's what I call, "Living Smart in the Smart Zone."

  5. Divorced at 50 isn't ideal but it's an opportunity, in my opinion. It's an opportunity but there is no other choice. I was married for 17 years. The first 10 were pretty good. I'll leave it at that. In our home, I display a picture, of our then family of five, that was taken moments after my youngest son, Sam, was born. It was an easy birth (as the third child usually is) and I looked pretty good for a woman who just gave birth. It was a really happy time and a really happy day. At 50 I'm excited that I get to do "love" again. That's part of living in the moment and welcoming your opportunities. I'll keep you posted.
Turning 50 is a good thing. Thanks for letting me tell you why.

If you are interested in booking me to speak at your meeting or conference please email Zan Jones or call her at 214-536-6666.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to Help Others Trust You

One of the most unbelievable examples of lack of trust occurred last week when a Texas mother was arrested for, allegedly, letting her kids play outside unsupervised. The story gained national attention and I was asked to comment on it on the local FOX 4 channel. Here's the footage:

In this case, there was lack of trust among the police, the mother and her neighbor. Obviously there is more to this story, but it's important to know that trust is attainable in any relationship at work and at home.

To stay in the Smart Zone and strengthen the platform of trust use these Smart Moves:

  • Be predictable, caring and faithful. Don't be moody because that makes you unpredictable. Being caring and faithful will help you build loyalty.
  • Address and right the wrongs. Blaming others is one of the fastest ways to burn yourself in the trust department. Do what is necessary, even when it inconveniences you. If it's your responsibility, fix it.
  • Be loyal to others when they aren't present. People will trust you when they have confidence that you can be trusted when they aren't present, and that may not happen until they experience you behind the backs of others.
  • Be clear with expectations and hold people accountable. When supervising people be deliberate about the outcomes you are expecting and, when possible, make them measurable or set timelines.
  • Build your self-regard. Self-regard is how you see yourself and how others see you. It isn't self-esteem. Your self-regard is what lets people know whether they can trust you to accept feedback, manage criticism, and be honest with them in return.
  • Demonstrate respect for those you work with. This is one of my favorites on Stephen M.R. Covey's list of the 13 Behaviors that Earn Trust. One-sided respect in relationships is temporary and delicate, yet over time it builds into respect that is reciprocal. 
  • Follow through on your commitments. People can smell insincerity when a commitment is not followed through. When you have the reputation that you can't be trusted to do as you say, you face a hard uphill climb. 
  • Be the same in public and in private. When people can count on you being the same in private as you are in public, they'll trust you to be who you say you are. They'll also trust that what you say today will be consistent with what you say tomorrow.

If you are interested in booking me to speak at your meeting or conference please contact Zan Jones.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How To Shock In a Good Way

I was shocked in a meeting with my book publisher this week when someone threw out an F-bomb. It wouldn't have been shocking if it had just been the two of us talking but there were several other people in the room. This isn't an article about it being bad to cuss in business conversations - let's face it - I hear lots of colorful language in my clinical practice and when consulting with companies. However, I believe we should all be cautious when using "dirty mouth" language. That kind of colorful expression can be shocking and leave a lasting impression in a bad way. 

People in the Smart Zone know how to shock and surprise people in a good way. I was totally stunned and pleasantly surprised this week when I toured the LIVESTRONG headquarters in Austin, Texas:

It was eye opening and enlightening to see the attention the people of LIVESTRONG have given to their message. They are true to their mission to help people affected by cancer, their commitment to healthy living and the trust they instill in their employees. Now that's how people in the Smart Zone shock people!

Here are five Smart Moves for how to shock people in a good way:

  1. Respond faster than you promised. How excited are you to hear that your car that is being repaired is ready a day early or that your internet service is up and running now vs. tomorrow? It's the classic "under promise and over deliver" mentality. Go out of your way to help people get what they need faster than they expect and they will be shocked!
  2. Tell someone, "You are absolutely right." Listening is an art but it also has financial impact. Studies show that physicians who listen to their patients for at least 3 minutes have significantly fewer malpractice lawsuits against them. When you are eager to make a sale or get your point across you are less likely to listen. When someone objects to what you think resist the urge to defend your point and trying saying this, "You are absolutely right, I should consider that."
  3. Really get to know people. Learn what excites your employees, coworkers and customers. What are their goals? What stresses them out? Don't pry too deeply - but show an appropriate interest in your colleagues and their well-being.
  4. Laugh at yourself more than others. In other words, have a sense of humor! Be willing to laugh at yourself and your short-comings. Practice humility. People will trust you more if they see you are willing to laugh at yourself.
  5. Don't step on Superman's cape. When others have high aspirations, encourage them to go for it. The only way dreams are achieved is for someone to have them. You can be the voice of reality and still encourage others to achieve success.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September is ADHD Awareness Month: Are You an Adult That Has It?

Approximately 5% of the adult population is estimated to have ADHD. It wasn't long ago that ADHD was seen as a childhood disorder where symptoms were thought to disappear with the onset of puberty. Clear scientific evidence shows that ADHD continues into adulthood. While most adults were diagnosed as children, there are many adults who are undiagnosed.

Symptoms of ADHD that you probably already know are:
  • Difficulty concentrating and paying attention to details.
  • Trouble sitting still for long periods of time.
  • Short fuse.
  • Putting things off.
  • Tardiness.
  • Forgetfulness in daily activities.
  • Getting criticized for interrupting people.
  • Being disorganized and having a messy car, home or office.
  • Starting projects without thinking through the steps.
  • Failing to finish tasks.
  • Click here for a longer checklist.
Adults with ADHD are more likely to:
  • Buy on impulse and have trouble saving money.
  • Receive speeding tickets.
  • Be involved in car crashes where they are at fault.
  • Smoke and/or use drugs.
  • Exhibit road rage and aggressive driving when angered.
  • Get fired or quit a job out of boredom.
  • Be disciplined on the job by a manager or supervisor.
  • Have higher marital dissatisfaction although not a higher divorce rate.
Let me clear up a few misconceptions about ADHD:
  • ADHD does exist and is not a conspiracy by scientists to medicate people. It is a real medical condition that is biologically based.
  • ADHD is not simply a lack of willpower.
  • Bad parenting does not cause ADHD. However, studies show a genetic predisposition for ADHD within families.
  • Adults with ADHD are not stupid or lazy. Recent studies reveal that people with ADHD actually tend to have above average intelligence but it does not show because of the ADHD.
  • ADHD can be treated without medication. New research indicates that you can improve brain functioning with direct, deliberate practice. This is called neuroplasticity. Relaxation, concentration and other self management exercises can improve the ability to sustain attention in some people.
  • Before starting any medication you should be properly diagnosed. Anxiety, depression or learning disabilities can be disguised as ADHD.
To stay in the Smart Zone learn more about ADHD. If you think you might have it, get tested by a qualified professional. It could help you refocus your career and personal life. Read my quotes in a article where I talk about refocusing your career.

All assessments for ADHD should be comprehensive and also assess for emotional factors and the influence of present stressors. Your quality of life, your effectiveness at work and home, and your relationships can benefit from knowing if you truly have the disorder.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to Avoid Being a Drama King or Queen

Every office usually has one: a Drama Queen or King. He or she can get everyone stirred up at the simplest of events and is successful at creating drama. In my private practice I call this "Mental Theater."
Mental theater is when we create drama in our heads so that it seems an event actually happened. Here are examples of destructive forms of mental theater:

  • A manager perceives that his boss is upset with him because he doesn't make eye contact with him while they are talking. So the manager proceeds to relate to his boss as if there really is a disagreement. 
  • An assistant believes that a co-worker who is whispering is talking about her behind her back.  The assistant then becomes hostile as if there has been a breach of trust. 
  • A husband believes that his wife is having an affair because she is too friendly with the attractive gentleman next door.  He then begins to treat her as if she's been unfaithful.

When we only have part of the story, we tend to fill in other parts.  It's like putting a puzzle together and when you get stumped you pick up the box to see the picture so you can figure out where the pieces go.  But what if you only have half the picture?  It's like having half the story. 

Ask yourself these 4 questions to work in the Smart Zone  and course correct negative drama that can get out of hand. 
  1. Is my thinking based on fact?   
  2. Does my thinking help me achieve my goal?
  3. Does my thinking help me feel the way I want to feel?
  4. How can I change my mental theater to create a win-win situation?
Keep in mind that YOU are in charge of your own mental theater. When you have only part of a story resist the urge to fill in the blanks. Or use mental theater to your advantage by visualizing your success and filling in the blanks with a positive outcome. Chapter 8 of my book,  Working in the Smart Zone, expands on this topic if you would like to learn more.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Is Spanking Harmful?

A recent study in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found a high percentage of American parents spank or slap their children. And it suggests spanking could lead to mental health issues down the road. FOX 4 covered the story and asked me to comment on it in this TV segment.

Dallas News |

Freedom Is Not Free

My Director of Client Relations, Zan Jones, just returned from a family vacation to Washington, DC. With July 4th approaching she said the history lessons were timely. She said the Korean Memorial was particularly moving because it seemed dark around it even though it was bathed in full afternoon sunshine (and 100 degree heat).  

Here's a photo of Zan's girls at the memorial:

The Korean War Veterans Memorial includes
the words "Freedom Is Not Free" 
Stay in the Smart Zone this Independence Day by honoring soldiers, past and present, and the friends and families who support them. While freedom is not free, we are all free to show gratitude, respect and appreciation for those who fought for our country.

Here's to the freedom we have in many ways: the freedom to choose, the freedom to live and the freedom to be happy in the Smart Zone.

Happy July 4th!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Teen Pregnancy Comments on FOX 4

This is an amazing story about resiliency and the challenges of teen pregnancy. I was asked to comment at the end of this segment beginning at 2:43.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What College Graduates are Missing

There are some things I know I'm good at. There are things I know I'm not so good at.

I cook great pancakes. I can help people see things differently. I can diffuse a difficult situation between two people in a work environment and help them learn to work well with each other. I'm not so good at Math. I don't sing well. I'm not your girl if you need a speaker who can talk about Eating Disorders or Six Sigma.

Many people, in an effort to make a good impression, only disclose what they are good at. Maybe they're afraid that they will be judged if they talk about what they can't do. FOX 4 recently asked me to comment on Time magazine's story, "Are You Mom Enough" which addresses insecurities parents can have. Here's the TV footage - you may have seen the controversial magazine cover.

But there is a trend in the Millennial generation (18-30 year olds) for a lack of self-awareness about what they aren't good at. Have we done a disservice to people under 30 who always got a ribbon for participating, who were always told "good job" for doing just enough, or who got whatever they wanted when they threw a teenage tantrum?

Leaders hiring college graduates have revealed that new graduates entering corporate America lack awareness of what they are good at and what they are not good at. Self-regard is when you are able to talk about both. This is so different than self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the reputation you have of yourself. Some people think they are good at everything and they are not shy about telling you so. Self-regard is about being authentic, transparent, and honest. Most people would agree that it is important to represent your true abilities and your "opportunities" for improvement. Here are Smart Ways to show that you have self-regard in a way that can be respected and appreciated:

  • Practice with your biggest champions first. To get the language down and build up a comfort level, find ways to fit in a comment about yourself that is not throwing yourself under the bus.
  • Be hopeful in your remarks rather than terminal about your inabilities. Instead of saying: "Learning another language is so hard for me. I'll never be able to do it." Say, "I can't wait to learn that. I've never been able to remember the translations." 
  • Identify 3 things about yourself that you are working on. Commit to following through with getting better at one of them. You will gain the confidence and belief that "anything is possible" and prove to yourself that inabilities can turn into abilities. 
  • Watch people you admire and people who are successful. Observe another person's ability to be humble, honest and forthright when he or she is talking about himself or herself. Study how he/she does this and other peoples' reactions. See how it flows more easily when you are comfortable about it yourself.
I tried doing my own bookkeeping thinking it was a way to keep my finger on the numbers. Now I'm here to tell you that bookkeeping is not my special skill and that I have someone who does it much better - ultimately helping me to know day to day how the money flows in my business life and my personal life. I'm the first one to tell you that I stink at that...and my bookkeeper would be the second to tell you the same thing.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Time Magazine Cover on Breastfeeding

This Time magazine cover caused quite a stir. FOX 4 invited me to discuss it last week on the 9:00 news.Watch the footage and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How to Motivate Employees to Get More Done

I recently asked my Facebook friends, "What would motivate you more:
  1. A $100 gift card in private or
  2. Recognition in front of all your peers at a meeting?"
The responses:
  • 1/3 said a $100 gift card
  •  1/3 said recognition at a meeting 
  •  1/3 said both!
Everyone is motivated differently. Stay in the Smart Zone by motivating people in a way that allows each person to do his/her best work.  Use the following tips:

Use meaningful rewards and recognition. A golf outing on the weekend or an after work happy hour isn't very motivating for a busy family person or a single parent. Learn what is meaningful to your staff.

Don't save compliments and criticism for the annual performance appraisal review. Provide feedback on a consistent basis so your employees know where they stand. People lose motivation when they feel uninformed and when they get surprised during their performance appraisal.

Catch people doing something well. Many times when employees are doing something well it goes unnoticed because we assume they are just doing their job. Compliment them, buy them a cup of coffee, recognize them at a staff meeting or even jot them a handwritten note acknowledging what you caught them doing well.

Reward top performers with more challenging assignments. Even though the tendency is to keep the top performer in the job where he/she is excelling, make an effort to shift this person into a more challenging role before he/she gets bored and loses motivation.

Fear is only a short-term motivator. People who are intimidated by a boss or co-worker or fearful of losing their job will lose motivation over time and become unproductive.

Give staff members the resources they need to do their jobs. Roadblocks to accomplishing job tasks will increase frustration and decrease motivation. Broken office equipment, lack of technical or personal support or even lack of office supplies can lower motivation.

Don't let a bad apple spoil the bunch. Set a positive tone. You've heard the saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." A moody manager or irritable co-worker can set the tone for the entire office. To motivate staff maintain a steady mood that is upbeat and positive - even if you have to just "act" positive sometimes.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ohio Mom Facebook Debate

I was asked to comment on another Facebook parenting debate on FOX 4 last night. This time it was an Ohio mom who was frustrated and posted comments on her daughter's Facebook page as a form of punishment.  Here's the footage.  What do you think about it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Do You Suffer From Compassion Fatigue

I recently spoke to group at the Texas Tech School of Nursing on the topic of Compassion Fatigue. The local FOX channel reported on the story, also. Click here to see the story.

If you think you may be suffering from Compassion Fatigue - here are 5 strategies for how to cope with Compassion Fatigue.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Does True Happiness Come At Age 33?

A recent study reports that people are happiest at the age of 33.  I was asked to comment on this story on the CW 33 last week. Click here for the story "Does True Happiness Come At Age 33?"

Monday, April 2, 2012

Top 10 Productivity Killers at Work

During my Spring Break Staycation I was able to take one of my 3 boys to IHOP for breakfast. It was such a treat for us because it is hard to spend time with each son separately. During breakfast we got into a great conversation about his college applications, planning our next college visit, and then SLAM!

A man in a booth right near us, sitting alone, slammed his fist on his table and screamed into his cellphone at the mechanic on the other end who did work on his car without permission. The man was loud, offensive, obnoxious, and brash. It was like pollution to our brains. We stopped cold, losing our train of thought. What a distraction.

Our productive college planning conversation suddenly became less productive. Outside influences can cause us to leave the Smart Zone and be less productive. Stay in the Smart Zone by recognizing the distractions in your environment that can cause you to be less productive.

  1. Uncomfortable work environment. Too hot, too cold, dirty or cluttered works spaces, bad smells such as popcorn being popped in the microwave or fresh paint are subtle distractions that decrease productivity.
  2. Meetings that go on too long without an agenda or purpose, don't start or end on time, or have a leader who gets off track. Watch a short video about how to keep your your meetings on track or read my blog post, "6 Ways to Keep Meetings from Getting Off Track." 
  3. Obsessively checking emails and text messages. When you receive an email or text message do you feel a sense of urgency to respond? Does it bug you for others around you to be constantly checking emails and texting? For some of us, it's necessary. Discipline yourself to check emails at only certain times of the day. 
  4. Lack of self-awareness in a cubicle environment with how behavior affects others. Loud phone conversations, friends congregating around an adjacent cubicle when you are trying to concentrate, loud expressions of frustration such as banging or typing loudly, gum smacking or frequent audio text message notifications all contribute to a less productive environment.
  5. A bad apple. If a member of your work team is a "bad apple" (always negative, doesn't pull his/her weight, complains, is depressed) they can derail the group and "spoil the bunch" as the saying goes. If you think a coworker may be depressed, they may be interested in my Special Report on Adult Depression from iTunes.
  6. Poor lighting. This causes you to strain and causes "tired eyes." It's a subtle distraction because most people don't notice the energy drain coming from eye strain.
  7. Lack of trust among coworkers and management. This creates a work environment of suspicion and paranoia. People will withhold information that can help others and avoid taking productive actions because they don't trust others to support them.
  8. Intimidation and fear. Fear of being laid off or reprimanded, intimidation by a supervisor or coworker and hostility among coworkers all distract people from doing their best on the job.
  9. Weak or poor leadership. If employees don't have confidence in the organization's leadership they are less likely to perform up to their potential.
  10. Overworked, burned out and unappreciated employees. Correcting this distraction can be as easy as encouraging employees to take a lunch break instead of working through lunch or acknowledging people's accomplishments. Be mindful that burned out people tend to eliminate the very things that can help them be more productive. Healthcare workers are particularly susceptible to burn out and feelings of compassion fatigue.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Adult Depression Series on iTunes

I just posted my Special Report: Adult Depression audio series on iTunes. Some of the things it covers are major depression, dysthymia, symptoms, causes and risk factors, bipolar disorder, chemical imbalance, economic impacts, depression in the elderly, depression in women, suicide and treatments. 

Check it out!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Phoenix is in the Smart Zone!

I loved visiting the set of Sonoran Living Live on ABC 15 in Phoenix this morning. The show hosts had a great sense of humor and one even mentioned how she was out of the Smart Zone at the very end of the segment.  (It's happened to me, too).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Orlando is Working in the Smart Zone

I'm so glad to be in my home state of Florida today! Thank you, FOX Good Day Show in Orlando, for inviting me to be on your show today!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Difference Between Discipline & Punishment- What the Angry Dad Shooting the Laptop Has Confused

I had no idea the controversy that would get stirred up when I was asked to comment on a FOX 4 evening news story last week. You may have seen this coverage on TV or on my blog about an angry dad who shot holes (with a gun) in his daughter's laptop because of her Facebook comments. Watch the story and hear what I said about it (warning, it is disturbing to some people but no one gets hurt).

The angry dad in North Carolina actually saw the story and emailed direct responses to the station for each of my comments.

FOX 4 had so much response to the story that they invited me back the very next day to address the dad's comments.  In this interview, I discussed the difference between discipline and punishment.  This dad was more concerned with punishment than discipline.

Discipline comes from the word "disciple" which means "student/teacher." We can all agree that it's a parent's job to teach and view their child's misbehavior as an opportunity. Punishment, on the other hand, imposes power from the outside to make a child "pay" for his wrongdoing.

Punishment is about power. Discipline is about creating an environment for a child to learn how to make it right. This is a topic I discuss in detail in my first book, Parenting in the Smart Zone.

Here's a quick reference.

• Is adult-oriented
• Requires judgment
• Imposes power from the outside
• Invites more conflict
• Concentrates on the child "paying" for the mistake
• Focuses on restricting the child
• Focuses on external control
• Parents work harder than the child

• Shows child what they have done wrong
• Gives child ownership of the problem
• Leaves child's dignity intact
• Uses logical and realistic consequences
• Teaches the benefit of making good decisions
• Focuses on developing internal control
• Redirects child toward success
• Role-models good parenting skills
• Teaches a life lesson
• Child works harder than the parent

It's important that consequences fit the crime. In the case of the angry dad, I would have preferred that he make his daughter give the laptop away to a child who could use it instead of him destroying it. What we also know from the coverage is that he warned his daughter before, that if she misused Facebook again, "he would put a bullet through her laptop." Yes, if you threaten/promise that you are going to do something as a consequence, then you better do it or else your kids will think you are just blowing wind and the problems continue. But, I'm thinking there are other consequences he could have threatened/promised initially. Do you agree?

And yes, I bet his daughter NEVER questions him in the future because he followed through and put bullets through her computer. She knows he means business. But the bullet was too easy and a bit over the top and "tough love" can be accomplished by using discipline rather than shooting something with a 45mm. (By the way, I do shoot and the gun didn't scare me. It is his angry tone and how he used it at the end that made me question it.)

That said, I believe his daughter got the point and I was glad to hear that he and his daughter have discussed the issue as a family. As long as they are okay as a family and have moved on, then that is what matters. As you can see from his response to me, this dad is a likeable guy who wants his daughter to make better choices. They are closer as a family because of this and have enjoyed seeing all the comments. Yet they are admittedly a bit overwhelmed by it. Wouldn't you be?

What do you think about this? Feel free to comment on this blog or on my Facebook page. This is a good discussion as long as we are all respectful, even if we don't agree. That will keep us in the Smart Zone.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Response to Angry Dad Shooting Daughter's Laptop

If you saw my appearance on FOX 4 last week you know that the story about the angry dad shooting holes in his daughter's laptop because of comments she made on Facebook created some controversy.

The angry dad in North Carolina actually saw the story and emailed direct responses to the station for each of my comments. FOX 4 was so excited and invited me back the very next day to address the dad’s comments. Here’s what I said (even though the microphone inconveniently unclipped and slipped down inside my clothes for the camera man to later recover while I was off camera):

Monday, February 13, 2012

The need to float at The Float Spot

This past week has been an unusual week.  With the chatter related to the FOX 4 story (see my previous post) and the passing of Whitney Houston, I can't help but put things in perspective.  I know I believe in parents needing to follow through with what they threaten for discipline.  I know that I'm excited to get my concealed handgun license in the next month (there have been rumors than I am anti-gun).  I know that the microphone was attached when we started the live interview Friday night on FOX 4 (It quickly feel down my shirt and had to be reattached by 3 people when I was off camera).  Crazy week.

So how would I end the week to follow my own advice to empty my bucket before it gets full?  I went to a place called The Float Spot,  I got in a tank and had an hour to float.  It was perfect to clear my head.  It felt like I got a good night's rest.  I'm going to do it again.

With a week like last week, I needed to float....if only to get an hour without chatter.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Angry Dad Shoots Daughter's Laptop - He's Definitely Not in the Smart Zone!

"A video of a North Carolina father destroying his daughter’s laptop has gone viral. The angry parent said he wanted to set an example of tough love after discovering his daughter’s disrespectful Facebook post," according to Tracy DeLatte of FOX 4 News. FOX 4 asked me to comment on it during tonight's 9:00 news. Here's a link to the full story. How do you feel about this?

Please feel free to post a comment on my Facebook page.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Would Warren Buffet Hire You?

I really love being consulted by the media on topics within my field. Several years ago when I first started appearing on TV I was intimidated and a little scared. But now I enjoy the challenge of discussing breaking stories and sometimes controversial issues. Barry Carpenter from The CW33 is particularly great to work with because he and his camera crew are professional and fun. And, more importantly, he shows integrity in his work. Watch his recent TV segment where he talks to me about gossip.

Recently I was asked to appear in a national TV series on a cable network. The catch was - I would have to compromise my principles as a person and a psychologist. The opportunity was spectacular but my integrity wouldn't let me do it. I respectfully declined. Living with integrity helps me Live in the Smart Zone.  

Here's a great point by Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway: 

"I look for 3 things in hiring people. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is a high energy level. But if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you." 

I believe that integrity is sticking to your own code of conduct. It's being honest and ethical. Just for fun, check out his recent Gallup poll that ranks the amount of honesty  in different professions. Hint: nurses, pharmacists, doctors and teachers at the most trusted professions.
Consider the following rationalizations for not using integrity:  

  • No one will know.  Who is going to know you stuck an extra ream of office paper in your briefcase? 
  • It's not hurting anyone. I bet professional baseball players who take steroids feel it isn't hurting anyone.
  • Everyone does it.  I remember my mom saying, "If Lisa jumped off a bridge would you?" One of my clients recently told me of her first professional experience in her career when her coworkers explained how to "pad" her expense report to make up for low entry level salary.

Use these Smart Moves to increase your integrity:   

  • Be loyal to others when they're not present. People will trust you when they have confidence that you can be trusted when they're not present, and that may not happen until they experience you behind the backs of others.  Don't gossip or speak for other people. Instead, encourage communication between two people instead of triangulating yourself into the communication of others. 
  • Demonstrate respect for those you work with. One-sided respect in relationships is temporary and delicate, yet over time it builds into respect that is reciprocal. 
  • Follow through on your commitments. Walk your talk. People can smell insincerity when a commitment is not followed through. 
  • Be Congruent.  Make sure your behavior and intent are the same.  If you are a manager, then don't say, "My company values family time" and then demand long working hours and weekends for you and your employees to get the job done.
  • Be the same in public and in private. Some people are better at acting than others. It's better to be transparent than to be fake. When people can count on you being the same in private as you are in public, they'll trust you to be who you say you are. They'll also trust that what you say today will be consistent with what you say tomorrow.    

By living with integrity you will have fewer regrets, enjoy respect from others and people will want to know and work with you. You are also less likely to be sued, fired or dumped!  And you are more likely to Live in the Smart Zone

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Fear Factor Puts You in the Smart Zone

I recently posted on my Facebook page that I was watching Fear Factor with my three boys. I commented: "Talk about will power and talking yourself into doing something you don't want to do." One of my Facebook followers questioned me by posting:

"Talk to us about 'how come' YOU are watching this. And, then, please address why the heck you are allowing your kiddos to view this. Please and thank you."

Well, if you say "please and thank you" then I'm on it. Thanks for the invitation because when I'm watching something like Fear Factor with my kids, I'm deliberate about what I want them to learn. I can see almost anything as an opportunity to keep you in the Smart Zone.

The Smart Zone is where you work to the best of your ability emotionally, behaviorally, and intellectually. It is where we produce our best and feel the most satisfaction in what we do.   

While the stunts on Fear Factor are gross and sensational, it's the contestants that teach us the most. As you watch the process they go through to talk themselves into doing what they set out to do, you see the same strategies CEOs go through when they do the hard stuff. You also see what people go through when they make difficult decisions in their relationships, their careers, and other life events. 
To be in the Smart Zone in a Fear Factor sort of way, be deliberate about doing the following:

  • Keep walking through the fear: In my clinical practice, I find myself pointing out how often someone says they are afraid. Fear can paralyze you and keep you from moving forward. The goal isn't to eliminate fear but to feel it and keep going.
  • Pay attention to your internal dialogue: We can talk ourselves into things and out of things. Sometimes people say what they are thinking out loud and they don't even realize it. It is important to have an awareness of what you are thinking so you can be deliberate to change it if it is holding you back. I love it when someone says, "I can't do that" and then decides "Yes I can". Sometimes all it takes is deciding that you "can" do something to make it happen. 
  • Do what makes you uncomfortable: We grow in discomfort. When I was 24 I participated in a 14 day Outward Bound experience. I thought it was going to be a physical test but learned very quickly that it was more of a cognitive challenge. This experience is a frame of reference that I use frequently to remind myself that I can do more than I think. If I can fast for 3 days and 2 nights in the wilderness during a solo camp then I can have the difficult conversations required in my job as a psychologist, consultant, expert witness, and media expert.
  • Seek your own satisfaction, even if it is unattractive to others: I knew a guy when I first moved to Texas who worked in a mortuary. On the surface, it seemed so weird to me that he chose that career. I thought it was kind of sad and creepy. Once he talked about the reasons he chose the profession and how he viewed his role, I gained a great respect for him and for the profession. He paid attention to his own occupational desires despite the discouragement of his friends and family. He was loyal to himself, despite the discomfort of others.
  • Sometimes it's not about winning - it's about being proud of yourself: It's about effort and working towards your own personal best. To me, that is winning in the Smart Zone.
So why do I watch at TV show like Fear Factor with my kids? Because it is a great way to talk about the power we all have to dig deep and do the hard stuff. The beauty of watching with my kids is that I can slip in the lessons I think are important for them to learn. I want them to know that they don't have to eat bugs or dive into a vat of raw meat to prove anything to themselves. But they can learn from watching others do what it takes. After all, successful people do what others are unwilling to do...even when it's on Fear Factor.