Sharon Melnick, PhD

How to Love Yourself the Right Way on Valentine’s Day

As a break from all the Valentine’s Day commercials, did you ever stop to think that how you love yourself is determining the quality of the love you have with other people?

The relationship you make with yourself is the longest relationship you’ll have in your whole life.

It’s the relationship that will carry you through the ups and the downs, the easy and the hard times.

Where does that self love relationship come from?

Even though as a child you are a pure spirit, You come to know yourself through the eyes of important people in your life – you come to see yourself how your parents, siblings, early teachers see you. You are motivated to please and perform for them – when they attend to you, love you, and praise you, its your way of getting needed “Emotional Oxygen” from them.

You are also hardwired to not disappoint or defy them, unless you want the fear of being rejected, ‘cast out from the tribe’, or harmed.

In this way, as children we develop adaptive strategies to Get Love or Prevent Loss of Love.

You will keep doing these strategies until you are able to (mostly) replace them with a foundation of self love.

For many of us, we are still using the strategies we learned to Get Love or Prevent the Loss of Love – sometimes these are the only ways we know to feel loved.

What are examples of how you might try to Get Love?

  • Be angry and accuse other people of not giving you what you need (as if they are doing it on purpose) instead of recognizing that they are truly limited
  • Not speak up with your Truth in the relationship in order to prevent the person from rejecting or abandoning you
  • Turn yourself into a pretzel to try to get people to like you (say yes when you want to say no and then resent them for it)
  • ‘Micro -track’ your partner’s (or boss’s) every behavior in order to monitor whether they are valuing your or not (and resent them if they are not meeting your demands)
  • Put way too much effort in order to not disappoint other’s expectations (that they may not even have of you in the first place)

You can see that these strategies try to control other people to get their love, or prevent the loss of their love. When two people in a relationship are each trying to ‘get love’ from each other, it’s a relationship based on mutual need and not true love. It only leads to misery.

But you are more in control of having the quality of love you want. Here’s the shift you can make today:

Instead of trying to Get Love… Be Love.

Light up each room you walk into. Catch them doing right and tell them. Linger on what you are grateful for.

Instead of trying to Get Love… Allow Love.

Receive the love that people in your life may be trying to give you, even if its not yet the specific way you hoped for. Stop trying to control them and allow in the way they can love you now.

Instead of trying to Get Love… Feel Loveable.

Because that you CAN control. You can feel loveable 24/7. Start with something simple: What’s your favorite part of your personality? or your favorite body part? Focus on it, why do you love it so much (share this with your best friend). Find joy in it.

Instead of trying to Get Love… Sense love. Hold your loved one’s hand and feel it with every tentacle in your fingers. Savor that Valentine chocolate and let it melt in your mouth.

Instead of trying to Get Love…Give love

Don’t give to get. Just give. Just be a person who gives your best, and trust you will get.

But be discerning, and see the situation for what it IS. Give to people who are capable of giving love back to you.

(Most of the time you drain your energy into a never ending pit when you HOPE that the person you are trying to ‘get love’ from will quickly become more evolved than they actually are so they can give you the love you want instead of frustrating you.)

Give to someone less fortunate than you. (it’s an anti-dote to depression)

And Give to yourself.

Want an example of how you can Love Yourself in all the above ways?

I want to inspire you with this example of self love from my dear friend and Goddess, Tara Sullivan. See her share below, I dare you to incorporate her example into your day!! 😉

Here’s to you loving yourself,
Sharon

5 Ways to Remember to Show up at your Horizon Point

Want to feel you have more control over your day? Shift out of Reactive mode and be more Intentional.

Your “Horizon Point” is a reminder of the idea that YOU can control who you show up as.

Who you show up as determines how others experience you. It determines the influence and impact you will have. It will determine your Confident presence.

Plus, it’s not ‘what you experience’ but ‘how you experience it’ that determines your quality of life.  Your Horizon Point determines the quality of your experience of your day.

You want your Horizon Point to become the Purpose of your day at work (Yes you can have a separate one for your personal life, or maybe it spans all areas of your life).

Start to filter every decision through the criteria of which choice will help you show up at your Horizon Point, or not.  Allow your Horizon Point to help you determine what work to focus on.

Here are 5 ways to remember to show up at your Horizon Point during busy days: 
  1. Put a picture on your phone that reminds you who you want to be (when I lead team trainings on the Success under Stress skillset, I have team members create a collage/visual that you can then post in your office area as a reminder and as a conversation starter)
  2. Put a Post it on your computer with your Horizon Point moniker (or on your Notebook or Laptop)  (I’ve had people in my trainings make a screenshot of their Horizon Point as well)
  3. Have an Accountability partner who you check in with.  You may tell your team members or a close colleague on your team so they can help you stay accountable to showing up at your Horizon Point
  4. Do a 1 minute visualization of who you want to be before you start your day – this will set a clear intention for your day.  You can do a mini in real time ‘upload’ of your Horizon Point – i.e., take 5-10 seconds to ‘become her’ before you walk into important meetings, before you pick up the phone for a sales call, etc.  You can also upload your personal life Horizon Point in your transition on the way home.
  5. Use your phrase to create your reputation.  Your Horizon Point is likely relevant to the perception you want to create in the minds of decision makers and clients.  You can use your phrase when talking with others about the impact you want to make or to describe your value to the organization (e.g., if you are interviewing for a next role you can say “the strengths I want to bring to this role are as a “strategic influencer”…)

By showing up at your Horizon Point, you can take more control over your day, over your reputation, and over your results.  It will reduce your stress and give you Confidence.  It’s a perfect way to Be Impeccable for your 50%!

Do you and your team face too much to do and it feels you are just trying to survive the day?  Would it help to have a toolkit that will give you focus when you need it but calm when you want it,  give you 1 more hour/day of uninterrupted time to think, and enable you to stay calm and not react to daily challenges?  Find out more about our Success under Stress, Resilience during Change, and Friction Free Relationships programs or email me at sharon@sharonmelnick.com

If the tools I shared helped you to recognize a challenge you are facing or sparked an intention to pursue your next level, feel free to reach out to me directly for a complimentary consultation at sharon@sharonmelnick.com.   

How to Remove Last Year’s problems and Make a Fresh Start in 2019

One moment the water is calm and the next moment I am swept away faster practically faster than I could react. 

That’s what it was like for hours when I was surfing in Panama over the holiday.

The wave comes with a force that is beyond one’s control.  It surrounds you and sweeps you into its current.  You must deal with it.

It’s the same when you are in a situation that is acutely stressful (like my new client who’s business partner started to push her out of the business).

Or a situation which is chronically frustrating (like a boss who won’t support your promotion or a relationship mate who is always ‘all about them’ and makes you feel bad about yourself).

In these situations, you feel like your life is being affected by the force of someone else’s ‘stuff’. You feel thwarted, you spin and obsess about it… but you are still subject to their forces.

On a surfboard, as in life, when a wave surrounds you,  you have choices.

You can be overcome and hold on in fear. That will keep your head looking down at the board and hands gripping the sides in hope.  What happens next?  That’s right, you’ll nose dive into the wave!

You’ll get tossed around, and lose your sense of who you are and where you’re going. You’ll end up with an outcome you didn’t want AND suffer in the process.

Or you can maximize what you can control: lift your chest up, redistribute your weight, and ride the wave with a thrill.

That’s what it means to be ‘in your power’.

Most of the situations that created stress and drained your energy in 2018 were perpetuated because you were not ‘in your power’.

A lot of people are going to have a 2019 . . . that’s 2018 all over again.

So the most important question to ask yourself starting now is:

“What am I going to do differently in 2019 to make THIS year the year I live up to my potential and break through to my exciting next level?”

Because the truth is, the only path that’s going to get you to that highly paid position where you have significant impact is YOU knowing how to be IN YOUR POWER.

You want to make it a practice to find your power.  You can do a simple Power Analysis: “Where’s my power in this situation?”

You are in your power when you can take actions that get you the outcome you want. If you have been passed over for a promotion or aren’t getting the support you need to advance you are not in your power.

For example, a new client felt burned by a boss who wasn’t advocating for her and conflicted between loving her job but not getting what she feels she deserves.    She hired me to help her get her desired promotion and raise.

Within our first session, we identified where she could be ‘in her power’ and this seemingly stuck situation suddenly had many solutions.   One solution came from creating a stakeholder map and looking beyond relationships with her frustrating bosses. We realized there is a very senior woman in her group who could serve as advocate and Sponsor for her. We put in place an initiative to connect and involve this senior woman.  Within 2 weeks, they are in ongoing conversation and my client has new visibility over her situation (and a Sponsor on the way). If I were a betting gal, I’d give it 3 months until she has her promotion and raise!

Similarly if you are in a business partnership or a personal relationship where you lack the confidence to feel good about yourself inside, you are not in your power.

For example,  my (high achieving) client had a boyfriend who was ‘all about him’ and put her down. When she came to me, she didn’t have a voice and she couldn’t seem to get out of it.

Where was her power? Yes, she could set boundaries,  Boundaries are being in your power because they are not meant to change others’ behavior, they are meant to protect you.

But he was so relentless it was hard to enforce them.

So where was her ULTIMATE POWER?  She was staying in the relationship because she believed SHE needed HIS validation in order to feel beautiful.  She gave away her power, thinking that it was what he said to her that determined her beauty.

Once we did my Magic Bullet Exercise she got unblocked and connected to a newfound love for herself.  With this deep knowing of her own worth, she no longer looked to him in order to feel loveable.  Then she didn’t need to stay in the hurtful dynamic in the hopes she could get him to love her.  She was free of suffering and is playing bigger in the world.

Do you want to find where your power is in a situation where you are stuck, and spinning, and playing small?

If so, I’m opening my schedule for 5 people to have a ‘Power Analysis’ Strategy Session.  We will help you get unstuck and find your power so you can influence others and have the confidence to increase income and impact.  Simply click here to make an appointment for our consultation.

Make 2019 the year you stop spinning, you stop playing small, and you finally step into your power.  Then, and only then, will you make 2019 the year you reach your exciting next level.

Happy New Year!

Sharon

P.S.  Thanks for asking, yes surfing was a blast until I got stung by a stingray

Do You Want to Shift from Spread Thin to Strategic?

Do you feel crazy busy…and everything seems important…and you want to give to everybody…and you feel guilty if you don’t…and it seems like nothing can give???  Take a breath..

Do you crave to shift from spread thin to more strategic?

What do I mean by strategic?

Being strategic is about choosing “what” projects to pursue, (and which to drop), not just keeping busy.  It’s about having ‘time to think’, and thinking at a deeper level with more meaningful learning and more valuable output.  Being strategic is one of the top traits in people seen as ready to promote and step into more visible opportunities.

Here’s a great example (thanks to my cousin,  head of PR at an entertainment company): “I’d rather my team members spend 8 hours tapping their pen on the desk in order to come up with one idea that will land our celebrity on the culture pages of the NY Times, than spend the whole day frantically sending emails to reporters for a small mention or no placement at all.”

As you reflect on 2018,  did you initiate the most meaningful work, the work that will move your career, your company, your life forward?

Or did you put off that next level or next chapter because you were ‘busy’ and thought you didn’t have the time or bandwidth?

I gave a webinar for 1000 people at a global company yesterday titled: Spread Thin to Strategic: Practical Strategies for Success under Stress.  I discussed what gets in the way and how you can shift to be more strategic starting today.  

Read on for a list.  Check off any that apply to you then follow the guidelines to lift yourself up and do the things that will take you to your next level in 2019:    [Read more…] about Do You Want to Shift from Spread Thin to Strategic?

Women Used These 5 Power Strategies to Win 2018 Elections – Try Them at Work

The just-released McKinsey & Company/LeanIn.Org Women in the Workplace 2018 report indicates that progress on advancing women in the workplace remains stalled. Despite continued talk about diversity and gender balance, the researchers discovered that less than 5% progress has occurred in improving women’s leadership representation in corporate America since the study began in 2015. Contrast that poor track record to the sizeable gains made by women in this week’s U.S. elections, where a record number of female candidates made history by winning Congressional seats.

Why were so many women able to be elected in politics at a time when advancement of women into corporate leadership has stagnated? The answer is that politics offers a different playing field from the professional workplace. While political candidates appeal directly to voters, corporate power is placed in the hands of a few designated decision-makers—often men. This makes the corporate promotion process more black box than ballot booth. In an election, the “job description” responsibility of each office is clear. Candidates are coached, championed, and encouraged to persist even when the chips are down. Polls give candidates insight into the minds of their decision makers (the voters) and what’s important to them.

In contrast, it’s often unclear exactly what women need to do to advance in the workplace. Unless a high-potential woman identifies and enrolls a Sponsor to support her promotion, she is likely to be the sole advocate for her own advancement.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though.  If you borrow a page from the playbook of successful female political candidates—you have more control than you think, you just have to know how to use it.

Here are five Power Strategies from politics that you can apply in your workplace:

  • Raise your hand. Research shows that women have traditionally had to be asked multiple times to run for office before deciding to do it, but this year, thousands decided on their own to run. In this mid-term election, around 20,000 women signed up to be trained as candidates, 256 won their primaries, and 118 won seats in Congress. In the past, many of these successful women may have questioned the value they could bring if they lacked prior experience, but these candidates didn’t hesitate to jump in. They pursued a next-level contribution and stepped beyond their comfort zone because they had a strong sense of purpose. The lesson for women in business? Proactively raise your hand for opportunities. Figure out who you want to help, and why. The stronger your “why” the more motivated you will be to take action to find the ‘how’.
  • Focus on a clear outcome. Women candidates benefitted from having a single-minded focus: winning their campaign race. Corporate women may know they want something “more”, but the desired outcomes can seem murky. Women don’t receive as much constructive feedback as men do, putting women at a disadvantage to know exactly what they can do to be considered for a promotion. So the first step to create a pathway for advancement is to specify what your next level looks like. Then, just like a political candidate who envisions victory on election day, set an intention to reverse-engineer the outcome you want. Make an action plan that details what key decision makers need to know about your abilities and how you will create visibility to them.
  • Act on behalf of others. Zig Ziglar has said: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” This tenet is at the heart of all effective political campaigns, and it can help guide you in the corporate world as well. A known bias in many organizations is that there’s a proven social cost for women who ask or negotiate for more: Women who ask can be perceived as “aggressive” or out for personal gain, which can make asking for yourself fraught with risk. This is why it may be easier for female political candidates than corporate ones, since acting on behalf of others is built into the role of elected officials. Women in workplaces can model this effective strategy by framing their “Ask” in terms of how their request will help their managers, teams, colleagues, department, and/or company. Instead of asking for a next-level opportunity because you want to grow your career, focus on explaining “what’s in it for them.” It eliminates bias and strengthens your request.
  • Leverage support from women. Female donors were a game-changer in this election—they set new records for giving funds as well as involvement at the grassroots level. Women’s support of their female peers has also grown in the wake of the #MeToo Movement. You can leverage these recent trends of women supporting other women to get ahead in the workplace. Join a women’s leadership network to meet senior leaders, step into a business resource group leadership opportunity, and/or support other women by amplifying what they say in meetings. Be a woman who other women want to work for and work with. Create “karma” in your network so other women will support you back.
  • Display an authentically powerful personal brand. Women face a tightrope bias that boxes them into figuring out how to strike a balance between being “not too aggressive” and “not too nice.” The recently elected women broke out of these limiting constrictions on the ways that women have been expected to show up. They were able to authentically tell their “story” in a way that allowed them to set the terms. This new brand of feminine power integrated women’s true abilities to “take charge” and “take care”. In contrast to the Maternal Wall in the workplace (which pressures women to play down parenthood out of fear of being seen as “not as committed” to face time in the office), some female candidates played up their “Mom” role as a key component of their personal brand, even introducing their children as part of their ads.  Others found authentic ways to display their toughness to fight for their constituents (e.g., Kansas Congresswoman Sharice David’s ad of her history as a martial artist). With this in mind, display your strengths and incorporate the most authentically powerful aspects of your personality to help you reach your professional goals.

Get inspired by the successes of the record-breaking number of newly elected women, and leverage their winning strategies in your own career. By chipping away at the fallback image of leaders as white males, these political powerhouses are clearing obstacles on your path to corporate leadership. When you tether yourself to your boldest sense of purpose—clarifying to yourself and others who you want to help and why, understanding the contribution you truly want to make, and communicating that through a personal brand they can’t ignore—you can make a truly next-level impact on your organization and the world.

How to Counteract the Likability Penalty Leadership Bias

Most professional women I talk with want to be at a next level of leadership. They want to make an even bigger impact and they seek more say and more influence over the business. Our cultural meme is if you are a woman, “Now is your time girlfriend!”

Yet women face the Likability Penalty when they act like a leader.

This common gender bias goes as follows: To be a leader you must act “Agentic”. That means you take charge. You are solution oriented and direct people what to do.

Because the inherited collective image of a ‘leader’ has a masculine association, when women act like a leader they can be perceived as ‘incongruent’ with their gender.

Yet, when women don’t act like a leader they are accused of not having potential to lead.  They are seen as erring on the side of ‘taking care’ rather than ‘taking charge’.  They may even be given feedback they are ‘not confident enough’ or ‘too nice’.

This is the “double bind” women experience.

Men are expected to be confident and assertive in order to get things done, but women are deemed ‘less likable’ when they carry out these same behaviors. Sometimes the feedback to women is direct (e.g., ‘she’s too bossy’, or called the other ‘b-word’) other times the feedback is more coded (e.g., she’s ‘not a good fit).

Women are ‘damned if we do, damned if we don’t.’ It may create a constant stress of self-scrutiny as you try to strike that ‘goldilocks’ chord of just right in their leadership.

Until we can get enough women into leadership that we successfully create a mental association of “leader” with a wide variety of schemas, there are ways to get out of the double bind so you can be authentic to you AND have more control over the perception you create. 

Research shows that leaders are evaluated based on two dimensions: warmth and competence.  For men the combination of these traits has little effect. Yet women have to be seen as warm in order for their competence to be taken seriously.

What works for women is to balance these dimensions of ‘warmth’ and ‘competence’:

Here are three strategies to to balance ‘warmth’ and ‘competence’ so you can counteract the Likability bias and step up as a leader:

1.Act to Match the Context:  Research shows that women who “self-monitor” (who are versatile to show more or less of these dimensions according to the situation) can reduce the effect of the likability bias.  In fact, when women who are strong leaders  can show this flexibility across situations they receive even more promotions and are seen as more confident and influential than women who display competence alone. Women’s native emotional intelligence abilities can serve thus as a strength.

This idea of balance has practical application in daily duties of a leader, such as behavior in meetings.  If a meeting has a distinct goal and needs a linear process to get there, using more ‘competence’ based language will be a good match to the task.  Use language that is clear, concise, and directive.  Be comfortable using your voice to help the participants get over the finish line of a decision.

On the other hand if the intent of the meeting is brainstorming or building consensus, then a more empathic and inclusive approach is called for.   Your language here would be more about coming up with a process and leading a group based discussion.

Self monitoring enables you to be attuned to the context – even as it might fluidly change within a meeting – so you can show up according to the ‘tone’ of the meeting.

2. Sequence warmth and competence:  Think of building the relationship first before you start to engage in leadership behaviors that are more direct. This might play out in a meeting by inviting others to share or weigh in. Then be the decisive leader who forms the information into a decision and provides a clear way forward.   Many women are natural relationship builders and this approach can seem common sense networking etiquette – to build a connection with the person before you make an Ask about a business need.

3. Negotiate on behalf of others. For decades women’s leadership advocates have encouraged more women to “Ask” but gender based conditioning discouraged women from asking or feeling worthy of asking. Now many more women are Asking (for next level roles, for equal salary) yet when women make these Asks they face a social cost. They may be labeled as (too) ‘aggressive’.

Because I encourage (insist!) that you keep asking, an easy way to counteract this bias is to negotiate on behalf of others.  The part of the Asking that was perceived as incongruent for women was the aspect of ‘acting on her own behalf’, i.e., being selfish.  It comes naturally for women to negotiate on behalf of others because of the way women are oriented to protect or provide for their families/tribes/teams. This approach to negotiating is associated with women as “Mama Bear” and  can eliminate the likability penalty of Asking.

It also helps give you courage to make your Ask, women are often willing to make an even bigger Ask on behalf of others than you might ask on your own behalf.  (Just like we might get out of bed to meet a morning workout buddy to not disappoint them or go the extra mile to do for our children where we might not do so for ourselves).

Picture this: when you walk into a room to ask for a salary raise or propose a big idea, bring with you (in your mind) all the people you are acting on behalf of.  Is it your team (to get needed resources)?  Your family members (to earn more salary for their schooling or summer vacation?).  Is it your ancestors (to speak up and call out something that was unjust?)

Use these approaches to be bold as a leader, ask for what you need, and lead like a boss.  Until we as a society can chip away at collective unconscious bias, these strategies will help you increase your leadership impact and bypasss the possible counterforces of bias.

One of the best ways to change an unconscious bias is for the biased person to see new images and have them become the norm and congruent with their perception of a leader.  Each of you as women can use these strategies to counteract gender bias that may thwart your own advancement, and in so doing you is also contributing to a change in our collective unconscious for you own generation and those behind you.

Everyday women are stepping up to become leaders, be one of them!