personal growth

Jumping to Conclusions

Several years ago, I was consulting with Division X of a large company; the president of the division had a reputation of being against change. Corporate had decided to implement a new system, starting with 2 other divisions, then coming to Division X. During an initial meeting at Division X, the division president was “not feeling well” and called in by speakerphone. A while later, Corporate created a 1-day workshop for the leaders of Division X. On the day of the workshop, the CEO and COO came to Division X to kick off the meeting; the CEO spent most of the day in the meeting to underscore its importance. When I arrived at the workshop, the division VP Ops told me that the division president was staying home because he was ill. Given the president’s previous actions and attitudes, we both assumed that he was signaling his disapproval of the new system.

That evening, I talked with my business partner about the concrete-head division president – what to do and how to do it. One of my major tasks as a consultant was to help implement the new system at the division. I mentally created lots of scenarios for truly powerful coaching the next time I was able to have a 1-1 with the division president. My favorite scenario was 2 questions:

1. Do you think that the new system will indeed be implemented at Division X? (The only logical answer was “yes”, because corporate was rolling it out across all divisions. It was already working in 2 other divisions, and corporate would insist that our division be on the new system.)

2. How do you want to be perceived by your people, and by corporate: a) fully supportive, b) mildly supportive, c) neutral, d) mildly opposed, or e) adamantly opposed? You get to choose. (I would hope that the light would click on – that anything short of c) would damage his ability to lead his own people in the division as well as his career.)

So, self-righteously armed with that great scenario, I arrived at the division the next morning to hear that the president had been in briefly looking totally green around the gills, then had gone home to finish recovering from the stomach flu. Several others were also out with the flu.

I’m glad I had confined my disparaging comments about the president to my business partner, whom I could trust to forget them completely once I updated him on the situation. Anything else could have seriously poisoned my working relationship with the client.

To put a moral to this story: jumping to conclusions is like jumping off a diving board. Sometimes there will be water, and you’ll be ok. Sometimes, the water will also contain sharks. And sometimes there will be only a concrete pool bottom where the water should have been. Unfortunately, we don’t know what’s down below when we jump.

I welcome your feedback.

Gary Langenwalter

Stopping our Negative Self-Talk

I’ve been struggling the last couple of weeks with negative chatter in my head. I’ve always been a bit perfectionistic and have set-up quite the high bar which makes it fairly easy to not make the mark. When I receive constructive feedback, even though I desire it, it hits me very emotionally. Then I started trying to figure out where that came from.

My fear of abandonment at a very early age caused me to try to fit in at all costs. Be the funniest, the smartest, most accommodating & collaborative. At the same time I was always seeking external approval. What a setup! Trying to please all those people, all the time. Very exhausting. So, my value relied not on my own self-worth, but how others’ saw me. But now at least I’m more aware and working on myself. But it is a long-term journey.

So, what are some of the causes of this negative self-talk chatter? Four ways emotions are created:

1. Chemicals we consume directly affect our brain.

2. Hormones in the body – 30+ hormones that support the brain function.

3. Damages to the brain – due to an accident or impact.

4. Self-talk and pictures we make up in our brain – our internal dial.

Another interesting fact:

1. 65% to 75% of all emotions are created because of the self-talk and the mental images we create inside our minds.

How does this apply to businesses? Why as manager should I be concerned with my employees negative self-talk? Because you as the primary motivator and leader can directly impact some of this. Think about it. Employees, as any normal human being, desire feedback on how they’re doing? Could they do their jobs any better? And you as their manager, provide them with constructive feedback & hopefully, some effective coaching. Often because there’s not enough time in the day…and we don’t take adequate time to think about what we want to convey to our employees. But even taking 5 minutes before you have some feedback for someone will help you get a little clearer.

And most likely, you have your own issues with negative self-talk. So, what better way to address this issue by working on yourself first. So, following are some suggestions to begin the process:

1. Begin by watching and paying attention to you internal dialogue and negative and positive dial.

2. Become aware of your “negative” thinking pattern or patterns.

3. When you start thinking negative thoughts check in with yourself and try to understand why you are thinking this way – take time to be in the moment of what is happening around you that is triggering this negative self-talk or chatter.

4. Take steps to clear the chatter – talk to someone, write it down in a personal journal, stop what you are doing at that moment and start something new, fresh, positive, etc.

Good luck with staying on the positive path!

Greg Sievers

Dance Like No One’s Watching!

For much of my life I’ve been a hard worker, focused on being the bread winner for my family, attempting to align my skills & competencies with the role & the organization. But much of that time I was complying with the organizational needs of who I they wanted me to be…but not who “I” really wanted to be! Welcome to gerbil wheel….the corporate henchman stated. This will be your destiny until death do us part. Reluctantly, climbing onto the wheel I complied. Running, running, running. Getting tired. Sleeping & getting up to do it again & again. Earning the almighty paycheck. Consistently providing for my family. But at what cost? Almost sucking my SOUL dry. Of not honoring all my gifts & talent. But every once in a while….I got off that damn gerbil wheel…did what my heart desired!

I danced like no one was watching. I sat in drumming circles. I became a Corporate Shaman…that’s pretty woo-woo isn’t it? But who cares. I had deep spiritual dialogue with people….contemplating the meaning of life. I had to stop pleasing others and please MYSELF! I acted like a silly, uninhibited 3 year old child. I was goofy. I played. I laughed, I cried. I discovered others’ like me who were truly authentic. Who shared their true selves with me and I with them. I found that freedom simply delightful. I found myself. Ahhhhhhh… I can relax.

Now, that I’m of retirement age and practicing retirement, I am just beginning to embrace those child-like tendencies once again. I have climbed off of that gerbil wheel. Aligning with what gives me happiness & joy! I am getting to do more training & development which was always my passion. Facilitation. Coaching. All helping people be happier and more successful! That’s my purpose on this planet. I’m choosing the projects I now work on….with no more forced compliance….and corporate obligation. It’s my choice. I think I’ll say that again….it is MY choice! I am now aligning with my passion and competencies, my gifts and talents. I’m now in the FLOW…where I am attracting opportunities. They’re magically coming to me and I’m not desperately seeking them out. The more I do so…the more the opportunities come out of the woodwork. I’m really starting to like this new paradigm!

Dancing Like No One’s Watching,


Am I being authentic or am I just wearing a mask?

I ponder… what does it truly mean to be authentic? But I then immediately went to all the years I had not been authentic, true to myself. I find it funny that many of us are wired to go to the negative aspect of our values first. Just possibly that’s what happens to us as we go to school and then enter the world of business. We are criticized, corrected and contained. The 3 year old (our inner child) who’s being completely authentic and uninhibited, turns into a pleaser as we grow older attempting to get the good grades, do well in sports and music and have a lot of friends. Then off to the world of business, trying to fit into the corporate culture, please my boss and teammates and busting my ass to complete my assignments in a timely fashion. I became a role. I was actually wearing a “mask”. Hiding my true identity. I became a pleaser of others. I had lost sight of my inner child, my authentic self.

I sincerely believe that the truth will set you free. But when I was trying to fit in at all costs, I was not being truthful. I was not being honest with myself. But what was I afraid of anyway? As I began doing human potential workshops (in my 40’s) on my path to self-discovery I realized I had a major fear of abandonment. That fear was pervasive throughout most of my child & much of my adulthood. It became a part of my operating system. I had to fit in at all costs. But what were those costs? One was my inner child. That was a real cost! As I continued to work on my fear of abandonment I realized I truly needed to nurture that inner child, my spirit, my soul! It may come out as this spontaneous humorous person, participating in a drumming circle, dancing like no one’s watching or just deciding to take a nap. Kinda sounds like a 3 year old doesn’t it?! So, the work continues today. There is no finish line. I continue to uncover my deepest desires and dreams. So, that has become my lifelong quest, my journey…to become clearer on who I am and how I want to be (& will) show up on this world!

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

Abraham Maslow

Authentically Yours,

Greg Sievers

Handling Disappointment

After having become laid off from a corporate job in 2008 (during the great recession), I continued to pursue the same kind of position that I had become used to. I’d climb into that Gerbil wheel (as I now like to call it), and run & run & run, working very hard seeking that goal of being employed again. Yes, many say men place too much of their identity with having a job. So, when they lose one they lose their identity. But I have to say it was primarily financial. I knew who I was & what I was good at. I did various human potential programs and was always doing self-discovery work. I was driven by the need to make money, enough money to just pay our bills. Nothing extravagant. The mortgage, utilities, & food. But after so many interviews & getting so many “no’s”, the disappointment came in, in fact, at times depression.

So, let’s look at this disappointment. I had certain expectations of working to make money to pay the bills. The not working & not making money created a gap in my expectations. That gap became disappointment. Disappointment in myself. Disappointment in me as the husband & father, not fulfilling my bread winner role. As I saw this pattern repeat itself over & over, I began to think maybe, just maybe I needed to change my expectations. My expectations of what kind of job I really needed or desired. Or possibly our expenses were excessive.

The best remedy to deal with disappointment is to acknowledge and work through the emotion it evokes. It is normal to feel upset or angry, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, we need to recognize that this is a part of life and although this will happen time and time again, each time it does, you will only become stronger and more resilient. I now realize that life will continue to offer me lessons which I can either view positively or negatively. It’s a choice. It’s all in my perspective. I encourage you to look at your perspective.

Secondly, what has helped me the most is my network of supportive friends. People who I can truly confide in and share my true feelings. Where I’m not judged. So, I continue to nurture friendships, where I support them and they support me. Which will help me deal with the ups and downs that life continues to offer. And provide a clearer perspective on the meaning.

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.”

Henry David Thoreau

I welcome your comments. greg

Greg Sievers

Handling Disappointment_gos.docx

We’re Built to Learn

My granddaughter loves to learn – how to climb up stairs, how to pet a cat, etc. I like to learn as well (except for the more abstruse features of my smart phone). Humans are naturally curious – that makes us learning machines. So what can you learn today?

I invested in learning for 2 hours yesterday at a Fundamentals of Organization Development course, jointly created by Cascade Employers’ Association and Oregon Organization Development Network. This was the 2nd of 6 sessions. I’d invite you to join us, but the room is full. (I hope you’ll sign up next year.) Yesterday’s topic was strategic planning. Now, I’ve led strategic planning with clients and taught it at the graduate level, so one might suggest I don’t need to sit in on a 2 hour workshop on strategic planning. If I knew everything there is to know, I would agree with that statement. But I attended for 2 reasons:

1. To refresh myself on the concepts that I already know (even great sports stars use coaches to continue to improve), and

2. To learn concepts that I didn’t know.

I did learn a couple nuggets. I also reinforced a couple key concepts, including “letting go”, which will be the topic of another blog.

I have recently learned that learning is easiest for the very young, because they don’t have any preconceived ideas about what is. They are a blank slate. As we learn, we create our mental map of how society and our organizations and our families operate. This is invaluable – we could not function without it! However, once we have that map in place, learning something new requires letting go of something we have already learned, something we think is “true”. Thus, the longer we continue through life, the more difficult learning becomes, because we have more to unlearn.

So what can you learn today? And what are you willing to unlearn, so you can learn something new?

Gary Langenwalter