Do you want to make others feel they belong?

I was already a foot shorter and I shrunk further in their presence.

Yup, that’s how I felt in my college years.  The culture seemed to be dominated by tall men who went to prep school. They played basketball or rowed crew.

Their discussions seemed to take place literally above my head.

I felt I didn’t belong.  At social gatherings and parties, I felt like I didn’t have anything to add. I felt those parties were not for me. Sometimes I would just slink home from the party, by myself

We all have a story (more likely MANY stories) of times we felt we didn’t belong.

As my colleague Denice Torres (former C-suite leader and President of multiple divisions at Johnson and Johnson) says:

Flex time, free lunches, and modest raises won’t fix the problem of a tight labor market and 20% of millenials changing jobs each year. We’ve “been there, done that.” The revolution required by leaders and their organization begins in the heart. Through genuine caring about our people and working to ensure every individual feels like they are heard, appreciated, rewarded for their work, and celebrated for their differences we can dramatically improve our financial performance and employee engagement.

Does this sound good but maybe naïve or pie in the sky?

Actually, we’ve got numbers on our side on this one.

According to Gallup, companies who created this sense of Belonging posted sizable gains through the last recession, compared with a significant decline at those who didn’t.

Recent research even found that a sense of Belonging is as good a retention strategy as good pay and benefits  

When we are happy and feel connected we are more productive.

Are you creating a sense of belonging on your team?  In your organization?  In your family and community?

Here are five things you can start doing today to create a sense of Belonging around you:

1. Check in – A recent study by EY found that people feel the greatest sense of belonging when their colleagues check in with them, both personally and professionally.  Yes it can be that simple, Just Ask.  And Listen!

2. Give Personal Recognition –  Recognize people for their contributions. This is the #1 thing that makes them feel they belong.For example, in my virtual coaching program that gets women next level roles, I start each coaching call asking for ‘wins/accomplishments.’ When a participant shares,  I reflect back to her the qualities that enabled her to create that win. Then I require her to “own it.”  From this watering of her soil, you can feel each woman blossom and take chances she wouldn’t before.

3. Pay personal attention Everyone around you is going to have some differences on dimensions of diversity, whether that is gender, race, age, cognitive styles.   Elicit their input and opinions, value their ideas (especially from those that don’t speak up as much). Care about their concerns.

4. Inspire – Create a vision that is so inspiring it raises everyone’s sense of possibility.  Make it a burning platform. Striving toward a stretch goal with a compelling purpose bonds your team members to one another and to the organization.

5. Create a No B.S. Zone around you.  Be real, talk like a human! Move out from behind the shield of corporate speak.  Be appropriately vulnerable.

Do you want to create a sense of belonging in order to increase loyalty, retention, engagement, and productivity?

Denice and I are training leaders in companies how to create a sense of belonging.  Email me to learn more about what we’re doing to help companies create this in their culture.

Thank you for making your world a better place,


P.S.   When I was asked to speak at two of my ‘big number’ College reunions,  some of those ‘tall guys’ I never spoke to came up and talked with me. We immediately connected and talked ‘real’ with one another.   That greatly increased my sense of belonging and now I/we all crave to be together.

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!


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

How to Have a Strong Personality without Coming on Too Strong

Do you have a strong personality and been told you come on too strong? If so, I bet you are someone who gets results and goes the extra mile. The Problem? You get to the answer much quicker than other people. Other people frustrate you. And then you have a frustrated tone. You get controlling.

You’ve probably been given feedback about it. (And if you are a woman, you feel in a struggle around how to come across as “confident”, but NOT “arrogant” or “strident”.)

Do you ever wish you knew: “how do I make other people accountable and WANT to do better work? And how do I stay calm instead of reacting to them?”

Here are two strategies to get you started…

1. Shift from “doing tasks” to “doing people”

In every communication there are two levels: the level of the “Content” (the information, your request) and the level of the “Process” (how the person feels in the relationship with you).

Which level do you pay the most attention to? Probably the “Content”, the point you want to make.

Which level do most people pay attention to first? How they feel in the relationship with you.

People ONLY listen to your information and requests once they feel comfortable and respected in the relationship with you. Feeling dismissed causes stress and constricts listening. Say things with an intent to preserve other’s self-esteem and people will be motivated to do what you ask.

Whenever possible, try to ‘make people right’ instead of making them wrong. Build on their ideas instead of tear them down.

(I know you: I’m not asking you to do this to be “nice”! Do it because it increases their follow through. Just like our stomachs absorb aspirin better when it has enteric coating around it.)

2. Shift from controlling to collaborative and get better results

Your judgment about people who don’t have your standard of excellence sets up your tone. See if you relate to my client’s situation: “The compliance people in my company said they couldn’t give me the waiver I needed to grow the business. I got frustrated and told them they needed to find a solution.” (Then my manager told me I needed to deal with the situation better!)

Here are a few excerpts from our coaching session about it…

Me: When the lawyers said they couldn’t give you the waiver you needed to grow the business, what was your explanation of why they did that?

Client: They are lazy….

Me: And what does that mean about you?

Client: About me?? Well…they were setting me up to do a bad job.

Bingo! That’s why you get frustrated. A confidence concern gets activated. Your dedication to doing things right feels threatened. You think failure will be YOUR fault. So you try to regain some control.

Here’s how she worked it out by the end of our session. Notice she changed her “story”:

Client: “I now see that maybe it’s not that they are stupid, it’s just that they didn’t know how to do the ‘out of the box’ waiver I asked for.”

“Instead of controlling, I want to show up like a “pilot” who is in calm and in control of herself – then guide people through the stormy part of the skies…”

Next time she gets frustrated because she sees people as ‘lazy’, she will instead ask structuring questions that help them tap their problem solving and bring others along to catch up to her thinking.

What are your best ways of having a strong personality without coming on too strong?