Last year, my wife and I took a trip to the Canadian Rockies–magnificent!  Spray Lake near Canmore (where they filmed Dances with the Wolves) is nestled in the middle and has a truly picturesque view. Snowy Owl Tours gave my friends, my wife, and myself a howling adventure of dog sledding for the first time in our lives.

What can we learn from dog sledding?

1. You need to know your dogs, especially your lead dogs.

There are eight enthusiastic canines that pull a sled of three people. In fact, they are harnessed according to their personality and strengths. Lead dogs are the first two dogs andthe most experienced. They are not necessarily the smartest but they are the best listeners and the most focused. If they don’t lead, the team will not follow. We were told to keep praising and communicating with all the dogs but especially our lead dogs. The point dogs are the next two dogs in line and are the lead dogs’ apprentices. Swing dogs are in the middle.  They are a pair of an older dog and younger dog helping balance each others’ energy and experience. Finally, at the back, in front of the sled are the wheel dogs. They are the strong powerhouse dogs that keep the sled moving.

Is this not the perfect example of teamwork?

2. There are 3 basic commands in dog sledding.

The first command is “hike or hike up.” When you give this command with energy, the dogs go wild, howling and bursting into the wilderness. They feel your energy–they were born to run into the wild. The second command is “easy.” Believe me, there will be times the dogs are running faster than you can handle around the mountain. Easy helps the dogs steady and slow down just a little to navigate those tight turns. The third command is, “whoa.” There are two basic reasons to stop. To conclude your trip, of course, and most importantly, when a dog needs to take a poop break. We stopped several times when a dog needed to have a break and the entire team had to stop and let them do their business before we could proceed. We also discovered how important it is to match your tone of voice with your commands. If you try to say “whoa” with fear and anxiety, the dogs will keep running. If you stay calm and slowly say “whoa,” they will come to a halt.

How do you communicate with your team?

3. The driver is the CEO of the sled.

The driver has several responsibilities on this adventure other than just riding on the back of a sled. You lead from the back of the sled.  The most important rule for the driver is “never let go.” It would be like a runaway train. Also, the driver has a responsibility to build a great relationship with his dogs and get to know them. You appreciate their individual strengths, motivate them with praise, and energize them with recognition.

The driver (CEO) also helps lighten the load and pull the sled. Going up a steep hill, the dogs will look back and see if you are off the sled jogging or helping push. There is a delicate balance of not doing all the work because they will let you or not helping enough and they will become frustrated with you.

My wife and I did a tandem drive from the back of the sled. I believe it’s even harder than driving the sled by yourself. We both had to balance each other, communicate, and coordinate without turning the sled over around turns or running off the mountain, like we almost did. This CEO almost got fired, eh?

How are your leadership skills?

Coaching points:

  1. Are you appreciating, arranging, and leveraging the personality and strengths of your team?
  2. Are you communicating effectively with your team?
  3. How can you and your team evaluate your leadership skills?

Do you use your strengths in your marriage?

Marriage is like a combination lock; your job is to find the right numbers, in the right order, so you can unlock your love potential.

Famous management consultant Peter Dru38833vl2ng9la32cker once said that “most Americans don’t know their own strengths. When you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare.”  Drucker was dead on.

When it comes to understanding our strengths, most of us are in the dark. Yet the fastest way to marriage success is discovering and applying our strengths.  How then, can you focus on your strengths if you don’t know what those strengths are?

The short answer is: you can’t.

Through the Strengths Finder 2.0, I can help you and your spouse discover your top 5 strengths.

For example if your spouse is a LEARNER, then sign her up for yoga or piano lessons or a class at the local college. Take her to a book store or a movie or the opera–any place she can learn new ideas and activities. For learners, life is one long deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. Understand this much about her and you’ve just connected in a meaningful way that you both never thought possible.

If one of her strengths is HARMONY, be on the lookout for areas of agreement. Find common ground. Steer clear of debates and you’ll find your own life in perfect harmony–lickety split.

If your husband has the ACTIVATOR strength, utilize it to help you make improvements around the house. Activators can transform ideas into immediate action.

Maybe your husband has WOO (Winning Others Over). This strength can bring fun, energy, and more socialization to your relationship. People with this strength naturally use humor to ease the conflict with their teenagers, for example.

How do you jump over weaknesses and flow into your strengths?

You need a coach to teach you how. And now you have one!  Get Your Strength Finder 2.0 Book Now + your complimentary Discovery Coaching Session (Value $120) for $19.95.

Put the odds in your favor!

Coaching points:

  1. Do you focus more on your spouse’s strengths or weaknesses?
  2. What strengths do you appreciate in your spouse?

Brent O’Bannon creates momentum for outrageous success. He is known as America’s Momentum Coach for individuals, couples in business, and companies. For more information go to www.brentobannon.com and www.marriedtoyourboss.com.

Image: worradmu / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s one thing to be married to your job. It’s another to be married to your boss.  Over the last thirty years, there seem to be more and more couples opting to wed their home and work lives. The research shows an increase from 500,000 to over 800,000 couples in business together.

My wife has worked with me in my counseling/coaching practice for 20+ years. We have experienced both the highs of connection and the lows of conflict.  There is a beautiful connection working towards a meaningful goal together, knowing some of the same people, having flexibility with schedule and enjoying accessibility to a quick hug and conversation.  However, we have experienced conflict by having unrealistic expectations, blurring work/home boundaries, and not understanding each others strengths. There were times we did not appreciate the leadership value that we both brought to the business. There have been moments when I have said, “If we weren’t married, I would fire you.”

How did we resolve it?  More on that later!

If you are contemplating starting a business with your spouse or you are currently running a business together, you’ll benefit by checking out my website and getting a complimentary report called, “Married to Your Boss: 13 Success Strategies to Prosper in Business and Love.”

The importance of a margin of error was first introduced to me as a beginning tennis player at age 14. If you hit the ball too close to the net or the lines and you were a little off or a gust of wind blew, you could have an error. The solution was to clear the net 6-8 feet with top spin and to place the ball a foot inside the lines to decrease errors.

The concept of margins is all around us.

Driving down the highway there is typically a shoulder for emergencies. Going over an overpass, the lane is wider for safety. Margins in a book create ease of reading. Golfers place their shots with margin of error away from water, trees, or out of bounds.

A margin is the space between my current activity and my limits. It is elbow and breathing room that decreases stress, enhances relationships, and increases success.

I have to admit, creating margins in daily life is difficult for me. I want to live life to the limit. I squeeze too many activities into my day. However, I’m discovering that I’m happiest and most successful when I create margins in my day-to-day life.

How do you create margins of success?

1. Create margins in your daily schedule.

Make time and space for breaks, breakfast, lunch, returning telephone calls, email, running over, and drive time. By arriving early and building a cushion into our daily schedule, we are prepared for Murphy’s law–what can go wrong will go wrong.

2. Create margins in relationships.

Making time for weekly dates, naps, and walks are examples of creating margins in romantic relationships. Building free time so you can play and connect with your kids, going out to eat, lingering, or having a cup of coffee with friends enhances the relationship. Having a quiet time, a moment of prayer, time for meditation, or inspirational reading creates renewal.

3. Do less to accomplish more.

Trying to be all things to all people leaves us empty, frazzled and unfulfilled. Why not focus on 1-3 priorities and free up space in our brain? Creativity and success come from drilling down into one area for deep success. The old saying is “less is best.”

Coaching points:

  1. Where do you need to create more margins for success?
  2. How will you make sure to follow through with making these changes for more sucess?

What’s your coping quotient?

When you experience overwhelming changes that knock you out of your routine, a multitude of frustrations that block your goals, infuriating conflicts that test your patience, and internal pressures that make you choke, you have experienced what psychologist call STRESS.

How do you cope with stress?

When I asked this question to a friend of mine, she said, “chocolate, shopping, and wine therapy.”

As fun as they seem, these strategies can be unhealthy in excess. We call it “indulging.” In moderation they are self-soothing strategies but in excess they cause obesity, debt, and addiction.

Here are some top healthy strategies to cope with stress:

1. Have a supportive family environment.

When you genuinely feel connected, unconditionally loved, heard, encouraged, and appreciated, then you have a safe place to fall back and recharge. Remember, just because you have a family doesn’t automatically create a supportive environment. If you can’t have a supportive biological family be sure and create a family of friends, co-workers, church, and community.

(Give yourself 10 points if you have a supportive family.)

2. Commit to bursts of physical activity for 30 minutes.

Exercise and physical activity are still one of the best ways to decrease stress. You increase cardio, deep breathing, and release tension in your muscles.

(Give yourself 5 points for each 30 minute burst of physical activity you get in an average week. Be honest!)


3. Stay at your ideal weight.

If you are more than five pounds over your ideal weight for your height and frame you are adding stress physically, mentally, and emotionally.

(Give yourself 15 points if you are within 5 pounds of your ideal weight.)

4. Relax deeply and consistently.

Being still and doing yoga, meditation, prayer and deep breathing have been shown to lower stress.

(Give yourself 15 points if you engage in some form of deep relaxation at least 3 times per week.)

5. Eat nutritionally balanced meals each day.

Starting with a healthy breakfast, eating low fat, and sampling from a variety of food groups strengthens the immune system, raises energy, and decreases stress.

(Give yourself 5 points for each nutritionally balanced meal you eat throughout the week.)

6. Drink alcohol in moderation.

Too much alcohol increases depression, slows metabolism, inhibits sound sleep, and is expensive.

(Subtract 5 points for each day that you drink more than two alcoholic beverages.)

7. Watch television wisely.

This also applies to surfing the Internet and playing on technology. Too much TV wastes time, increases sedentary behavior, and creates isolation, leading to more stress.

(Subtract 5 points if you watch more than 10 hours of TV per week.)

8. Give yourself something you enjoy.

This sounds contradictory yet there is great value in nurturing yourself weekly with something you truly enjoy.

(Give yourself 5 points if you do something weekly that is just for you.)

9. Relax in your favorite room or place at home.

Having a special room or safe haven in your home reduces stress.

(Give yourself 10 points if you have a special place at home where you can relax.)


10. Practice time management daily.

Planning your days and weeks, having a scheduling system, staying focused on your priorities and continuing to improve time management adds to productivity and decreases stress.

(Give yourself 10 points if you practice time management techniques in your daily life.)

11. Eliminate smoking cigarettes (or weed).

Smoking has a short term positive effect of giving stimulation or euphoria but long term, it creates health problems that only add to your stress level.

(Subtract 10 points if you smoke less than one pack per day. Subtract 10 more points for each additional pack you smoke a day.)

12. Eliminate caffeinated drinks.

Caffeine like nicotine has short term benefits and long term consequences. Drinking more water helps your body and mind cope with stress.

(Subtract 5 points for each day you drink 2 cups or more of a caffeinated beverage.)

13. Separate work and home time.

Bringing work home and taking home to work both increase stress.

(Subtract 5 points for each evening that you bring work home or 5 points for taking your personal problems to work.)

14. Eliminate and decrease the medications or chemicals you’re taking.

Taking sleep medication, chemicals, or any medication at all increases side effects and potential stress.

(Subtract 10 points for each evening that you take any form of medication or chemical substance to help you sleep or calm yourself down.(

Now tally your score!

Scoring interpretations:

20 and below: Ball of stress!
21-40: Stressing sometimes
41-60: Holding it together
61 and above: You’re phenomenal!

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Coaching points:

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses about your coping style?
  2. What is your plan to raise your coping quotient? (Why not hire Brent as your life coach?)

Brent O’Bannon creates momentum for outrageous success. He is known as America’s Momentum Coach for individuals, couples in business, and companies. For more information go to www.brentobannon.com and www.marriedtoyourboss.com.

Image: pakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do you like what you do?

According to a recent Gallup Poll, 80% of people cannot give a hearty “yes” to this question.

Most people are are waiting for the bell to ring to get off on Friday and dreading going back to work on Monday. The stress hormone Cortisol is released more frequently in those people who dislike their work. This raises blood pressure and damages our bodies. Maybe that’s the reason more heart attacks happen on Mondays.

Not surprisingly, people who dislike their work are twice as likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression over the next year. And people who enjoy their work have significantly lower cholesterol, triglycerides and higher levels of happiness and well being.

Studies show that the #1 person people do not want to be around is their boss or manager. If your manager ignores you, there is a 40% chance that you’re disengaged from the workplace. If your manager focuses on your weaknesses, you’re 22% unhappy with the workplace, and if your manager primarily focuses on your strengths you’re 99% likely to be happy with your work.

In my informal study on Facebook, I asked people “Do you like what you do?” It was very delightful to hear from a radiologist, “Yes, I love my job!”, from a financial advisor, “Yes, I look forward going to work each day”, from an office manager, “Yep, I love my job, stress and all”, from a photographer, “Yes, I get to capture people’s memories”, and from two massage therapist who said, “Love, Love, Love my job, I get to relieve people’s stress and make them feel better.”

When my wife and I were sitting on the deck enjoying a glass of wine we discussed on a scale of 1-10 how much we loved our work. My first thought was–it’s a 9 for me. I absolutely love counseling, coaching, and inspiring people through speaking. I pray you are in the top 20% who say, “Yes, I like what I do.”

Quick ideas to boost your work happiness:

  1. Build towards a career doing what you love, whether it’s on a week day or the weekend.
  2. Build a good relationship with your boss or manager. Along with this build at least one close friend in your work setting.
  3. Build a career around flowing in your strengths. Of course that means you need to discover and have a language for your strengths.

Coaching Points:

  1. On a scale from 1-10 (10 being the best) how much do you like your work? What needs to happen to make it better?
  2. How could you increase trust and compassion with your boss or manager?

After a wonderful time in Mexico it’s time to board your jet and go back home.

However you become desperate when you can’t find your passport. You search your pockets, your brief case and your wife’s purse. You run up to the flight agent and she says “You must have your passport to get back home.”

Have you ever felt stuck, stranded, and wondered how in the world you will get back to your slice of paradise?

You need a passport. Your passport to success.

I was the person who recently lost my passport in Cancun.  That’s when I discovered how important having a passport really is.

Coaching can be your passport to take you to the next level of success or back to your slice of paradise.

Coaching will help you to:

  1. Clarify your identity and strengths.
  2. Create a success script for your life dreams.
  3. Construct happy/healthy relationships.
  4. Catapult your career and wealth potential.
  5. Create the balanced lifestyle you want.

I went back to the bathroom in Cancun and asked the custodian if he happened to find a passport. If your wondering how I lost my passport in the restroom, just think of the video, “Pants on the ground, pants on the ground.”

Finally, he muttered, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I turned that passport into security.” After security searched for 30 minutes with my jet about to take off, they found my passport and rushed it to the gate. My wife and I were able to board and get back to our slice of paradise.

Coaching Points:

  1. What keeps you from finding your passport to success?
  2. How could coaching benefit you, your company, or a loved one?

 

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Who would tell you if they had spinach in your teeth?  The rude reality is that all of us will get something stuck between our teeth. Maybe a flake of pepper or possibly some green spinach.  Most people do not want to embarrass you so they let you keep talking with spinach plastered to your front tooth.

Who can you trust to tell you the truth?

Usually your spouse, kids, or best friend delight in the opportunity, right?

This article isn’t about real spinach but emotional or behavioral irritants in our life that everyone else sees but us. These emotional or behavioral challenges may slowly destroy relationships and opportunities for success.

It could be how you are constantly running late or don’t respond to emails. Or how you interrupt people when they talk, how ridiculously out of style your hair or clothing are, the list goes on…

Maybe you fidget, don’t give eye contact, or mumble when you get up to speak.  Or when someone asks what time it is, you tell them three times how to make a watch.  I could continue to infinity but the point is all of us will have spinach in our teeth at some time in our lives.

As your life coach, I have your back and will give you honest feedback.

I coached one CEO who wanted objective honest feedback because she realized most people in her organization were intimidated to be direct with her. She hired me for the purpose of giving it to her straight.

Invest in a coaching session for a friend or family member who has spinach in their teeth.

Coaching Points:

  1. What emotional or behavioral irritant is hindering your success and life?
  2. Can you give objective, honest feedback to your peers or circle of influence when they have spinach in their teeth?

Brent O’Bannon creates momentum for outrageous success. He is known as America’s Momentum Coach for individuals, couples in business, and companies. For more information go to www.brentobannon.com and www.marriedtoyourboss.com.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net