Taking Constructive Criticism Like a Champ

Some people can graciously accept constructive criticism while others may struggle and feel overly sensitive.

Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, we might over-react with defensiveness or anger and attack the person giving feedback. But the truth is, we need to get over it. We live and work in collaboration with others and intellectually we know there’s value in constructive criticism—how else would we identify areas of improvement? It helps us maintain relationships and be more successful in everything we do.

So how do you learn to take constructive criticism? The next time you receive useful feedback from your manager or a peer, use this three-step process to handle the encounter with tact and grace.

1. Don’t Express Your First Reaction

When someone is giving you feedback before you do anything—stop. Try not to react at all! You’ll have at least three seconds to stop your reaction. While three seconds seems insignificant, it’s ample time for your brain to process the situation. At that moment, you can halt a dismissive facial expression and remind yourself to stay calm.

2. Remember the Benefit of Receiving Feedback

Now, you have a few seconds to quickly remind yourself of the benefits of receiving constructive criticism. To improve your skills, leadership capabilities, and to help you meet the expectations that your stakeholders, manager, colleagues, and direct reports have of you. If you find this step challenging in the moment, get in the habit of reminding yourself of this before you step into a meeting or 1:1. Practice poker face with the person who is delivering the feedback. It can be challenging to receive a different opinion from a co-worker, peer, or someone that you don’t fully respect, but remember: Useful information can come from flawed sources.

3. Say Thank You

Next, look the person in the eye and thank them for sharing feedback with you. Don’t gloss over this—be intentional and say, “I really appreciate you taking the time to talk about this with me.”

Expressing appreciation does not have to mean you’re agreeing with the assessment, but it does show that you’re acknowledging the effort your colleague took to evaluate you and share his or her thoughts.

Constructive criticism is often the only way we learn about our weaknesses—without it we can’t improve. When we’re defensive, instead of accepting and gracious, we run the risk of missing out on this important insight. Remember, feedback is not easy to give and it’s certainly not always easy to receive, but being able to be receptive will help you now and in the long run.

Need more tips on how to take criticism like a champ? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Turn Your Bad Day Around

“So you had a bad day. Don’t let it spiral you into a mindset of doom and gloom. Get back in your power. Remember you are who you choose to be.”-Karen Salmansohn

Bad days happen. However, if you start to label too many days disagreeable this can cause a lack of productivity. At Ignite Your Potential we often recite the phrase “don’t let a bad 10 minutes ruin your entire day.” Letting a negative moment define a whole day is not only unfair, it can lead to missed opportunities, and distract from your day’s purpose. Continue reading to discover strategies that can improve your rough days. 

Accept Reality

Accepting the reality of your situation doesn’t mean you’re stuck or a failure. The sooner you acknowledge the problem the faster you can find a solution. Denying or pushing away the negative feelings you are experiencing will only delay the process. 

Consider Repeating Out Loud:

  • I acknowledge this is my situation
  • Even though I have a problem, I am okay
  • I have the power to change my situation 

Change Your Point of View

After you’ve accepted your current situation, attempt to transform your viewpoint into one that benefits you. For example, if you’ve been taking punch after punch all day. You may begin with a negative outlook at think something like, “This is happening to me because I’m not good enough.” Change your perspective by reframing your internal dialogue, “This can make me stronger, more resilient, and prepared to turn challenges into future success.” Small changes, like a reframe, will make a substantial difference in your ability to conquer bad days.

Consider:

  • Asking yourself: is this productive thinking? Does it serve me?
  • Visualize other perspectives
  • Focus on what is in your power
  • Use productive and positive language when you’re talking to yourself

Take a Break 

Attempting to work while your mind is overflowing with negative thoughts is ineffective and will reduce productivity. A study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign concluded that brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods. Time off is necessary to regroup to get your mind back on track.

Consider:

  • Talking to a friend or family member
  • Meditating 
  • Moving your body, go for a walk, stretch, exercise

Socialize

There are many studies that show the emotional support you give and get during connections with friends and family enhances psychological well-being. When you are feeling down, reach out to the people who love and want to support you. 

Consider:

  • Visiting your neighborhood coffee shop
  • Making plans with friends or family
  • Volunteering

Are bad days seem to be occurring more often? Ignite Your Potential Center coaches will provide you with emotional support and skills that will help you achieve your goals. We are the #1 coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise. All of the award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session, see if we are the right fit for you.

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Find a Hobby You Love (Becuase It’s Good for Your Life and Career)

Having a hobby that you enjoy—whether that’s crocheting mittens for your sister’s new baby, curling up with a book to get lost in an unknown world, or moving your hips in a Zumba class—has all sorts of benefits, from lower levels of stress to an increased sense of belonging.

Hobbies make a serious impact on your quality of life. But they also improve your work performance. How? When you’re engaged and fulfilled in your life outside of work (when you’re pursuing meaningful hobbies) that happiness spills over. That happiness has the ability to make you more focused and enthusiastic when you’re on the job.

Having a hobby that you love can do good things for your life and your job. But what if you don’t have a hobby you enjoy? That doesn’t mean you can’t find one. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 80 years old—it’s not too late to find something you love and let it spur you on. Our Ignite Your Potential career coaches have curated a few strategies to find a hobby you love.

1. Make What You Already Love into a Hobby

Take a look at how you enjoy spending your time and figure out how this can become a hobby. Have you watched Kevin Hart’s stand-up special on Netflix…four times? Try taking an improv class. Is your favorite part of the day playing with your dog? Try volunteering with a rescue organization. 

2. Reclaim Your Childhood Interests 

When you were a kid, what did you like to do? Did you spend hours finger-painting masterpieces to hang on the fridge? If so, you might want to try taking an art class. Or maybe you spent the entire year looking forward to Field Day at school—in which case, you could join an adult softball team or flag football league. When you were a kid, you had hobbies—revisiting them as an adult is an effortless way to rekindle that love.

3. Try New Things

The truth is finding a hobby can be hit or miss. And that is OK! If you want to find something you love, you need to put yourself out there—and be willing to accept not everything you try is going to be a win. Think of anything you might find interesting—whether that’s skateboarding, painting, or weight lifting—and take a class. If you like it, great! If not, cross it off the list, and move on to the next one.

It might take a few attempts to find a hobby that you love, but the key is to not give up. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you find a hobby that will change your life and your career. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

5 Ways to Build a New Habit

Have you ever felt excited to try something new but then quickly lost all motivation a week into it? Don’t worry you’re not alone. Below are 5 ways you can build a new habit and actually stick with it.

1. Start Small

When starting any new habit, you will be more likely to ingrain that unfamiliar routine if you begin small. For example, if the change you’re trying to make is working out, start by going to your gym 2 or 3 days in one week. Once you get accustomed to that and it’s well rooted, then if you want to, increase the amount of days to challenge yourself.

2. Be Consistent

You may often hear that it takes 21 days to build a habit, unfortunately that is not entirely true. It takes about three months for the brain to change and to actually form a habit. Consistency is key, as you begin, do it regularly. That’s why it’s useful to start small because with a smaller commitment then you can work hard to make sure that no matter what, you will stick to it. Eventually the change you want to make will become a part of your daily routine; making it something you don’t even need to think about.

3. Tell Others About Your New Habit

Telling people or simply publishing it on your social media will increase your discipline and determination. Knowing that you have people watching you and rooting for you will give you that extra accountability you need.

4. Do It With A Partner

By having a partner to build a new habit with, you can both keep each other accountable and motivated. Keep in mind that your partner’s new habit and yours don’t have to be the same but it’s always great to check in on each other.

5. Reward Yourself

Don’t forget to reward yourself. Studies have shown that building in a reward system will tie a positive feeling to this change you are working to root. By giving yourself rewards you’ll feel like your new habit is less of a chore and more as an enjoyable hobby, a way to take care of yourself, or the route to meeting even bigger goals.

Ignite Your Potential coaches all offer complimentary 25-minute phone sessions. Read our bios and easily schedule these here and see how we can help you create new habits and have the life, health, and career you deserve. (inserting this link on “read our bios…” https://ignitepotential.com/our-coaches/

7 Steps to Go Beyond the New Year’s Resolution

 

People will often ask what we at Ignite Your Potential think about a New Year’s resolution. While there are times when a firm determination about a goal can set the course for great change, we know that 92% of people will fail their resolutions.

new year's resolution
Don’t let your fiery spirit be put out!

In fact, January 12th is the day by which most people give up what they swore they would change. So how do we make sure we go beyond the New Year’s resolution?

There are three reasons people backslide. It may seem counter-intuitive but it’s not because of a lack of willpower or gritty determination.

  1. Most people don’t put a sufficient plan in place. (This strategy doesn’t have to be elaborate. The simpler the better. Break the goal down into small doable steps; include plans for obstacles and frustrations that will show up.)
  2. While folks don’t realize it, they may not be fully committed to making the change (which is to say they’re not clear about: why they want to make the change and if they’re willing to pay the cost of the change.)
  3. The key focus for most people is on changing behavior. The mistake we make is not considering the need to change who we are being. In other words, it’s equally important to envision ourselves embodying the change.

When you have a goal in mind…. be thoughtful, create a strategy that includes a deeper dive at why you want what you want. Understand what might get in your way and how to plan around obstacles. Set yourself up for success by working with one of our coaches or read the book Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success.

But how does one address the BEING side of change?

One way is to ask yourself: Who Do You Want to Be? 

new year's resolution
Take time to discover who you want to be- meditation helps!

Some people will experience a tragedy or near-death experience that wakes them up…and they go on to live lives that are true and meaningful to them. Why wait for an existential epiphany? Here are 7 Steps to get you started:

1. Listen to your inner voice. We all have an ongoing internal dialogue. Begin to observe this interior conversation and you’ll find it comes from many parts of you (or many parts of your brain)… sometimes from a deeper, wiser place, other times from a place of fear, and then everything in between. By observing your inner dialogue you have a chance to cull this inner chatter and identify the inner guidance grounded in wisdom. Listen to this inner voice. Learn to identify the messages that are useful and truthful about who you want to be and what is important to you.

2. Now ask yourself: Who are you really moved to become? Who are you called to be? Are you called to be a leader? An admired executive? A healer? A teacher? A champion of a cause? A change maker? A homemaker? A rockstar mother? Someone healed and healthy who models impeccable boundaries? A defender of the masses? A person of presence who models embodiment? A person who treats her body with care? A turned-on person who follows his bliss? A funny light-hearted person who brings joy to others? Who are you really moved to become? 

3. The next step involves being candid with yourself: Who are you currently being? How are you showing up in the world? If your life ended, how would you be remembered? Take a brief inventory of your day to day interactions and behaviors…what does that say about who you are actually being in your life?

4. As you go through these questions, are you in alignment between who you want to be and who you really are? If not, how will you become more congruent? How will you become who you are meant to be? You can change your behaviors… that’s definitely how we create change. But you also need to begin seeing yourself differently.

new year's resolution
Set your intention and imagine your already that person.

5. The next step has two variations depending on your preference or you could choose to do both. Create a short list of intentions for who you want to be, that resonate, meaning they don’t feel like shoulds, and then turn this list into affirmations (positive, present-tense statements, declarations that affirm this goal already having happened.) If it works better for you, you could jot down cues that prompt a visualization of you being changed. In other words, a few prompts to help you imagine, in your mind’s eye, you, already having accomplished this goal. Already being who you will be once you get there. Obviously, we’re using our imagination here, but keep in mind that Olympians have used this very technique to improve their performance. Because… it helps our brain make the change.

6. Each morning for the rest of January, take out this list. Get into a mindful space by using your mediation of choice. Then read each affirmation out loud, trying your best to get into the felt-sense that this affirmation is already achieved. Likewise, if you prefer, use mental imagery, see the change having already occurred.

7. After doing this exercise, ask yourself what simple goal you can do that day to nourish this vision. Write down what you come up with. Put it in your daily calendar as a way to track progress.

If you already had a list of goals for the New Year when you came across this post, consider adopting one or a few of these ideas to support you. Most important, trust your wisdom and be compassionate towards yourself. You’ll be surprised and thrilled with what you achieve.

How to Know What You Really Want: The Heart of Goal Setting

We can’t begin goal setting or plotting our course until we know what it is we really want. It seems simple enough. Sometimes though, it’s easy to feel confused about our own desires versus what’s important to our community, family, workspace, and friends. How do we decide what we really want? How do we distinctly see the best path forward when there are competing messages all around us, and sometimes, even in our own minds? The mission of this post is to help you figure out How to Know What You Really Want, which is truly The Heart of Goal Setting.

Let’s focus first on the task of getting into the right state of mind. How do you get most clear? When in your journey, does your thinking become most pure? We’re talking about the times when your thoughts are uninfected by the tangle of modern life. Is it when you:

    • Travel abroad or enjoy a road trip
    • Detox, cleanse, or fast
    • Have time alone to journal
    • Take a walk on the beach or hiking a trail
    • Have time to work on your garden, or your art, or a hobby
    • Arrive at a particular time of day or night, a time when you are most calm or grounded, before sunrise or before you fall asleep

Look back and ask yourself what behaviors, experiences, or times have brought you this clarity. When have you felt most centered and in line with your highest self? Let’s try to reverse engineer that state of mind. Don’t get caught up in the details… especially if that could have you delay. For example, if it’s been a while since traveling or vacationing…and plans to do this aren’t on the horizon… take an afternoon trip to a nearby, unexplored by you, town. Commit to this exercise, even a mini version of it…something you can do in a single afternoon.

You have an inner house, the center of your being if you will, where you are you…without outside interference. That’s the place we would ideally like to do this exercise from. If you can’t seem to get there, don’t let that deter you, move forward nonetheless.

Once you’ve had a chance to get into the right headspace or the best frame of mind, for now, get out some paper, and ask yourself the following:

You love something when you put attention on it. What do you love? What do you actually put your attention on the most and why? What is it providing you? What does that say about why you love this? Who do you love and why? Make a list and move on.

Look back over your life and consider the activities and experiences that gave you the most energy. When did you feel like you were thriving? What elements were in place? Were there people around you? Were you solving particular kinds of problems? Were you using your strategic mind? Were you getting things done? Were you acknowledged? Take down notes and move on.

Now to change gears a bit, when things have gone wrong in your life, in your saddest or most disappointing moments, what went wrong? When did shame ease it’s way in? What do you regret? In what ways do you see yourself having failed? Take a brief inventory and write out themes, then move on.

With these next questions, try your best to answer quickly without overthinking: Who do you want to be? What do you want to feel? What do you want the people closest to you to know about you? Who do you want to have around you? What do you want to be remembered for?

When you are complete with this inventory take a little break. Go for a walk, water your plants, air yourself out. Then when you are ready, come back to this exercise and ask yourself how these answers help you understand what you want. Treat it as if there is no wrong answer. Pay attention the answers that pop out at you or resonate. No need to cover or include everything from your inventory. Bring a lightness, as you ask yourself, what do these answers reveal about what you might want for yourself, for your family, for your community, for your career? Say yes to whatever comes up for you.

This is the beginning. It might be time now to begin a culling process where you sort and prioritize and map out your plan for 2019. It could also be the beginning of your work with a San Francisco or Los Angeles coach, if you feel inspired, read through our coaches bios and easily sign up for a complimentary 25-minute session with one of our career coaches and life coaches. We are here, to support you, in defining what you desire, and to help you achieve what you want for yourself in the New Year 2019.

Broken Resolution? Try Something New for 30 Days

When Matt Cutts, the head of the web spam team at Google, realized he was in a rut, he decided to try an experiment to mix his life up a bit. He began trying something new for 30 days at a time. Then he began doing this every 30 days. He’s written about these fun challenges on his blog. And inspires with this TED talk:

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Send Your Future Self an Email

Did you know that there’s a website where you can send your future self an email?

There are two things that make this site interesting. One, you can write yourself an email that will be sent back to you at a future date of your choosing. You can send along whatever: encouragement, love, a kick in the pants, insights that you’re afraid you may forget, or a series of check-ins around goals you are working toward.

The second cool thing is that this site allows readers to view the letters that people are sending to themselves (anonymously of course.) So you can get your voyeurism on.

I, myself, just wrote an email telling my (future) self, the good, the bad, and the ugly of what’s going on in my life with the thought that it might be amusing later. What are you going to tell your future self? Now if only my future self would email me back…

Ready to Make Change Easier? To Be More Adaptable? Get Ready to Play!

Remember when you were a kid, you could make up a game and play it for hours? Remember how flexible you were? If another kid came up to you and launched a new game, you jumped right in, figuring it out…improvising.

Today I was watching two young boys play on the sidewalk. Suddenly one said, “I’m shutting myself off,” and as a robot, his expression went blank, his limbs froze, he powered down, just like that. The other boy transitioned smoothly into this new game. He began trying to figure out how to turn his friend back on – looking for the power button. He alternated between this and trying to distract his “robot” friend with jabs and faces. Why do we stop doing this? How much more fun and satisfying would your day be if you had this attitude? Are you ready for an experiment….Are you ready to play?

Walking through your day with an attitude of play is more than just fun, it helps us cope with change. It makes change easier. Aspects of our lives are moving and shifting around us each and every day. And while we are built to adapt to just about anything, we are also wired to be a bit resistant to change.

If we lived a few thousand years ago and knew we could survive, get food, sustain ourselves, right where we were currently living, and I said to you, “Hey, let’s move. Let’s go about 200 miles north. There might be more food there. It might be beautiful and even better than this life,” the natural reaction would be cynical resistance. You know you can survive here, but there in a new place, you might actually die. You might not find food. There could be predators. The thing is, we don’t live in that kind of world today. Most of us do not face life or death in our daily lives. We don’t need to live in survival mode (although for some of us, survival mode continues to be a tired, useless pattern), our environments have changed, but the brains we carry around are still the same. We have brains wired for caution.

It’s normal to feel a bit apprehensive when faced with the variations of life. To cope with this, to move forward, to flow, we have to learn how to “become comfortable with being uncomfortable” (as a friend shared recently.) We have to notice resistance and move forward anyway. And what better way to loosen up when faced with the stress of our day to day lives than to have an attitude of play?

Walking through life like you are ready to play requires you to be really present and on the lookout for fun. You could even say it’s all in how you look at it. Looking through the lens of play. When you’re a kid, invitations come in all forms and you dive at the opportunities when you see them. When you’re a kid this is how you have fun and this is how you learn. What changed?

What would it take for you to embody a more playful attitude? When was the last time you put on some music and sang and danced with yourself? How about watching funny clips on Youtube? Try to do a cartwheel. Take off your shoes and socks and walk in the grass/mud/sand. Make funny faces in the mirror. Leave a sweet and kind note in a public place for a stranger to find. Drive/walk to work a new way and look around for discoveries. As you walk through your day, consider strange but fun things such as, ‘If you had a can of spray paint in your favorite color, and you had permission, what would you spray for all to see?’

I encourage you to use your imagination. Can you think of a little game you can entice someone into? Or some other way to play? Like when you were young and invitations to play came in many packages. Look around and notice who’s asking you to play. Are you ready to say yes to the next invitation you receive?

The Voices In Your Head: How to be an Effective Coach to Yourself

We all talk to our selves in our heads. But have you ever taken the time to notice how you talk to yourself? In the field of psychology, they know that healthy, optimistic, happy people have internal self-talk that is supportive and encouraging. Whatever the state of your innermost conversation, more often than not this inner discourse was developed at a young age and has a lot to do with your childhood experiences.

So how’s the chatter in your head? Are you as kind to yourself as you are to other people? As you observe your internal voice, are you surprised by what you find? What tone or flavor does the voice take? Is it nurturing, kind, mellow, snarky, silly, or intense? Does it motivate you through goal setting and cheerleading or through threats? Do you notice that the voice changes based on your environment or whom you’re around? Does it come across different when you’re stressed? Do you tell yourself jokes and make yourself laugh? Or does your inner voice bring you down?

Many years ago, I heard about the concept of internal dialogue. As I began to pay attention, I must admit I was shocked by what I found. There were times when I was being downright beastly to myself. I worked to change this and over the years I have used my internal voice as a kind of barometer. If I begin to get negative with myself (or judgmental about other people for that matter), I see it as sign to stop what I am doing and notice what’s going on. Am I stressed or in fear? Do I need to make an adjustment to my self-care? What needs to change?

If you find that you don’t like aspects of how you talk to yourself, not to worry. The coolest thing about how our brains work and how we think, is that if we choose to, we can change it.

The first step is becoming aware of this inner voice. The next step is to replace the unsatisfying self-talk with something more productive. You cannot just stop thinking…you have to insert an alternative. One idea is to create a simple affirmation that you say every time you notice your inner voice going off course or being less than encouraging. Something like: “I love and accept myself for who I am,” or “Even though I have a problem, I am okay.” This affirmation can be anything that you find comforting or encouraging. For some it may have a spiritual angle. You know you’ve chosen the right affirmation when you notice it helps you breathe more deeply.

Some people think of this voice as the part of them that is coaching them along. When you are tired, that voice should be saying, “Time to rest. Why don’t you take a hot bath? You got a lot done today.“ What it shouldn’t be doing is running you ragged, urging you to do more and more. If you are someone who has procrastinated and let things pile up around you, the ideal internal voice will encourage you with goals and rewards: “Tell you what, you get that one pile done and then it’s time for a break.” What it shouldn’t be doing is beating you up or berating you. One reason top athletes, CEOs, and many others, pay coaches to help them reach their goals, is because having someone on your side works. Are you on your side?

If you are skeptical about how this could affect your life, or even if you’re not, I encourage you to do an experiment. For the next month, choose a positive affirmation, and say it in the morning, whenever negative self-talk arises or whenever you could use some encouragement, and as you go to sleep at night. Make a commitment to do this everyday for one month. Then see what happens; notice what changes.

Some of you may already have mastered the art of internal self-coaching, if you have any thoughts or suggestions, please share with us. I invite anyone to leave questions or comments as well.