Emotional Challenges for Executives, Managers and Business Owners

Partnering with Executives to Break Through Fear, Anger and other Emotional Barriers to Success

Archive for the category “Executive Coaching”

All Work and No Play Makes Jack Really Stressed


People do not do their best work when stressed. I am a small business owner and I have my share of stress, anxiety and frustration. The economy, planning, budgets, employee training — you know the drill. Stress leads me too often to the refrigerator, too much TV and other not so productive time-wasting habits. But when I am managing stress better, I head for a picture window looking out my back yard woodland where I watch wild birds.

Feeder from Antique Barn Wood

Cardinals, Nuthatches, Finches, White Throated Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Birds, Titmice and more are a source of endless pleasure and relaxation. All species have their own personalities. They flit and fly and peck and eat and scratch and perch. It is true joy and peace to me. A few mornings each week I take Katie, our golden retriever, to help fill the feeders. Then I pull up a rocking chair, grab some binoculars and a few minutes before sunrise they come.

Female Pileated Woodpecker

This distraction exceeds pleasure. It is sacred time. I refuse the intrusive P&L statements, budgets and reports. I gain life perspective. This is proof that business serves life not the other way around.

As endless backyard beauty works its way into my heart, it changes me. My life has less problems and more opportunities. I am much less likely to blow up like a wheelbarrow full of explosives. Everything good seems more possible after some time with such beauty. I am grateful.  Watching birds reminds me God takes care of me. What I see at my window gives me a sense of rest and peace.

Yesterday was a real treat. I had seen the Pileated Woodpecker in the neighborhood for years but never with camera  in hand. The Pileated is a very large bird, nearly as big as its now extinct cousin the Ivory Bill Woodpecker. This morning he came to the back yard and posed for the camera as my heart leaped with excitement.

The Pileated do not come to feeders. Their food is grubs hibernating deep within dead and rotting stumps and tree limbs. Their beaks are over an inch long and are like a chisel to break apart wood to pluck grubs from within. Their pecking is like hammer shots and their “drumming” is heard from long distances.

Yesterday, stress relief was never so wonderful and complete. It was a rare and beautiful observation of this magnificent, elusive bird  even for a few minutes. I watched her tear apart the stump before spreading her 27 inch wingspan to scale the large tree. After that transforming experience the week  seems less formidable. My tasks are more attainable and the creativity needed to succeed more accessible. Thank you God for Ms. Pileated and friends. You have given me another stress relieving, perspective changing, encounter from which I will live and do my best work.

What is your “bird watching” activity?  Have you taken time in your stress reliever?Kindly share it with us.

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Emotionally Charged Decision Making


It is no secret that we make most decisions on an emotional level. That is what marketing is built upon. We emotionally choose sports teams, candy at the checkout lane, a person to marry, how we motivate an employee or a child to do their homework. Many decisions are emotionally charged and the results appear potentially catastrophic. Pressured decisions often don’t turn out so well. Our daughter is not going to be homeless if she doesn’t do her homework. Harnessing our emotions and making good decisions in a pressure situation is a key to getting things done and at the same time preserving relationships.

I recently helped my son and his fiancée find and purchase a used car. They live on the east coast and totaled their vehicle while they were visiting here in the Midwest with us for the holiday. The plan was to replace the vehicle and drive the new (used) vehicle cross country the in a day or two.

Of course limited cash and time pressurized the situation. We found a car that appeared to be in great shape and made the purchase. We were out of order and didn’t check the CARFAX until after we got the car home. That was the seminal impulsive mistake. The report revealed that there were 130K more miles on the vehicle than registered on the odometer. Everyone was frantic, hurt, blaming, feeling ripped off and not a little desiring revenge and spoiling for a fight (my son is a U.S. Marine — I need not say more). Cooler heads prevailed and we did not visit the dealer at midnight and pretend it was Halloween with TP and spray paint in tow — or worse.

We attempted to negotiate a return of the vehicle. I was “lead” negotiator and was somewhat proud of myself to be able to remain calm. I was not punishing or vengeful in my tone or language.

Here are a few things I learned from this emotion packed situation that I think will help me in my pressurized business situations. Tell me how would add to the list of emotionally smart lessons. It would be great to hear your stories of success and learning about Emotionally Charged Decisions.

1. Do the homework. Get the CARFAX before closing the deal, duh! We had not adequately acknowledge the time pressure and should have planned how we would needed to know before we closed the deal. We needed to make time to make a better decision.

2. My opening negotiating position was too strong, namely to “get their money back immediately.” Better to plan time to ask more questions and allow the dealer to consider my young couple’s situation. He indicated later that he may have been more willing to work something out.

3. Write it down. I could have engaged in a sales and negotiation preparation process to gain the helicopter view. I could have written down our options on a piece of paper or spreadsheet or mind map — anything that would have slowed down the decision making process and give us more tangible feeling facts.

4. Meet the opponent face to face. I could have met with the dealer instead of  negotiating on the phone. I did resist when the dealer attempted to engage in text messaging.

5. Get good advice. I would have sought the advice of at least 2 more friends / advisors who were not lawyers itching for a fight.

6. Remain in the present. The situation was moving at lightning speed. For the most part I stayed in the present with asking more “where do we go from here” rather than dwelling on the past and how much we got ripped off.

We did find another car and they safely returned to the coast. I didn’t lose my cool. I remained respectful and open during the negotiations. I had taken a pressure tactic to get them to negotiate and would have done as well or better to simply put our dilemma in front of the dealer and hope that he would have compassion on us. In the end he has graciously offered to take the car back and will give us a full refund when the car sells.

What would you have done?

How would you attempt to negotiate?

How do you quell the emotional impulse to take revenge or use a personal attack during a negotiation.

What is your process for getting a helicopter perspective in a pressured decision making process?

Please take a moment and share an anecdote with me. I look forward to learning from your wisdom in making emotionally charged decisions.

Sinking My Chops Into My Life Resolutions


I used to hate New Year Resolutions. They were little more than a repository for guilt and shame. I would take a few of the regrets from the year before and half heartedly “hope” to do better next year. 2012 is a new year and I am a new businessman.I hereby make some resolutions I can commit to. I will get past the vague, guilty resolution stage and will get something done.

My model for these resolutions is from my most inspiring new read, Linchpin by Seth Godin. Even before the new year I have been executing with a new sense of destiny. Some of his suggestions are the basis of my new year (and new life) strategy. This is a “planning” model rather than a “hopeful resolution” failure waiting to happen model.

1. I will be creative. To find one idea that works you have to have a “slough of laughable ideas” (Godin). I now keep track of my ideas no matter how laughable they are. I put them in Mindjet’s MindManager software. It is a great visual strategic planning tool. My business coach, Maxie Carpenter, (http://www.maxiecarpenter.com/) put me on to MindManager a few years ago. Now, all my ideas on the Idea Map for processing. They will either find their way to a successful action or be reduced to the Laughable Idea Archive.

2. I will get something done. I am vague here not because I don’t wish to share all my Map of Laughable Ideas (I’m not afraid of your ridicule — well maybe a little) but because this resolution is about execution. Doing anything is better than hiding my ideas in fear. I am going to execute. This particular blog is one of my laughable ideas. I wrote down on my Map that I wanted to share my wisdom to help others in an Executive Coaching format.The first step toward making a difference is a blog. I put Executive Emotional Support Blog in my schedule and here it is. You may still think it is laughable. Since I don’t think it laughable any more I moved it from the Slough of Laughable Ideas Map to the Execute the Idea Map. It is OK if you chuckle. 

3. I will not see myself as a failure.  According to Godin, “People don’t fail, projects do.” Therefore I will not allow thoughts of personal failure to linger. If something goes wrong or gets hard, I will believe that I did not fail, the project failed. I will do a postmortem, learn from the endeavor, evaluate, try again or deep six that idea and pick another from my slough of laughable ideas.

4. I will repeat Resolutions 1, 2 and 3 continually.

So there it is. I fully commit to these 4 resolutions: I will maintain and continually add to my slough of ideas. I will execute the least laughable of my ideas. I will see failure in terms of projects, not my personal identity. Most of all, I will not give up. I will keep having ideas, planning and executing. I am excited to sink my chops into these resolutions.

2012 Here We Come


One of the best small business blogs I’ve seen. Barbara Taylor shares some business “resolutions” for the 2012. http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/31/my-resolutions-for-2012/

If Pro Athletes Need a Coach Why Wouldn’t You?


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William Oldham


Photo by Marc F. Henning

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