Newsletter by Barbara Mintzer

Barbara Mintzer's Newsletter
The Power of a Vision... a Leader's Journey

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April/May/June, 2009
Living Life on Your Own Terms

It has been quite some time since we "chatted" and a lot has happened since then. To the nursing professionals reading this e-mail, I hope you had a wonderful Nurses Week celebration in May. I was privileged to travel across this country addressing nurses on the issue of "making change work" and I enjoyed myself immensely and met some terrific people. I am now off the road for a bit, and I wanted to take this time to touch base with you.

We are all living in a time of unprecedented change, and this change is making many of us feel unsettled. If we have not experienced a substantial change in our finances, health or security, we probably know someone who has. Many people are telling me that they are not feeling in control of their lives...they are just "going with the flow" wherever that leads them. Better be careful with that attitude, as the flow may lead you to someplace you would never want to be. The question to ask ourselves is "How can I stay motivated, self-directed and focused even when there is change and uncertainty all around me"? I have done some research on this issue, and the following are some excellent strategies to use to help you stay in control personally and professionally, even when it is difficult to do so.

1.    Take responsibility for your feelings. If you are feeling depressed and/or unmotivated, acknowledge it and take responsibility for it. Acknowledging how you feel and "owning" these feelings are the first steps to moving out of them. Make a list of the reasons you are feeling depressed or unmotivated and, wherever possible, see if you can change the situation to your benefit. If there is something you can do to remedy the situation, have a plan in place to do it. If it is something you have no control over, be willing to let it go and get back to the work at hand. What happened in the past happened; what will be in the future is yet to be determined; NOW is the moment to live your life to the fullest.

I am very aware of this as I have now become a senior citizen, and I suddenly realize I don't have all the time in the world to do the things I want to do. Friends around me have gotten ill, and some have died. This has touched me deeply. For the last 26 years I have focused solely on my work, and put other things I have wanted to do on the back burner for another time. I am realizing that another time is now, and I am trying to incorporate more balance in my life to accommodate a personal life as well as a professional one. How will you put meaning and purpose back into your life, if life itself has taken that out of you? 

2.    Allow yourself a time-out.  Do you have a place you can go to where it is quiet and private where you can do some reflective thinking? Is there a place at work you can hide in for five minutes where you can have a "time-out" from everything around you just to think, meditate, pray or do whatever it takes to get you back on track? Do you have a trusted friend or confidant you can talk to? One who would be willing to listen without judgment, just to let you vent and get it off your chest. Sometimes just verbalizing how you feel, givng those feelings an airing, helps you sort things out. Perhaps you have friends who want to help, but don't know what to do for you. If you really want someone to just listen, without trying to fix you, tell them that. "Don't fix it, and don't fix me, please just listen and be there for me."

Are there certain things you like to do that give you pleasure that you can turn to when you are letting the world get to you? When I have the time, I record books for the blind and dyslexic and it gives me a lot of satisfaction. I feel I am using my speaking skills to help people enjoy the pleasure of a good book. When I am feeling down, I have to tell myself I cannot change the world, but I can make MY WORLD a little better in any way I can. Ghandi said "The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others."

3.    Know your weaknesses.    When you are feeling down or depressed, you are particularly vulnerable. Stay away from the "negaholics" and critical people in your life. You may say "too late...I already married one, gave birth to one, or one gave birth to me!" That may be the case, and it is particularly difficult to stay away from family and good friends, but when you are vulnerable, you must protect yourself. I know when I am feeling down, I am much more sensitive to what my husband will say to me. A "cute" comment or "friendly word of advice" that would not otherwise bother me, can bring me to tears. I have learned to tell him that I am really not in a great place, and those cute remarks are not going over well and it would be terrific if he could save them for another time. I have learned to let it be okay to keep my voice machine on and screen my calls, as there are some people I really need to stay away from when I am not in a good place. Know who pushes your buttons and know when you just don't have it in you to deal with these people. Far better to stay away now, than get into something with them that you will regret later.

In business, I do not make cold calls or actively market by phone when I am down. I have found that my mood reflects in my tone of voice and lack of animation, and my ability to field tough questions and handle rejection. I used to push myself to make these calls even when I was not at my best, and in almost every instance, it was a mistake. The old adage "You only get one chance to make a good first impression" is especially true in professions where you have to use persuasive communication skills. 

4.    See yourself as a hopeful person.  We all have those times when we are not at our best, but if you basically see yourself as a hopeful person, life can have purpose and meaning. Hopeful people have a sense of calm about them; a way of seeing everything that happens as a chance to grow and learn and experience. Their lives are not any easier than anyone else's; it is their attitude that sets them apart. They look at their lives and the world around them with a sense of the possible. They have their fears and doubts, but they don't allow those fears and doubts to define them. A hopeful person realistically acknowledges what is and is optimistic at what could be. He/she then proceeds to make something happen. Hopeful people are inner-directed and self-motivated. They know there are bumps in the road, however, they make the best of situations wherever possible. Most of all, hopeful people do not get into victim or, if they do, they do not stay there for long. They focus on the opportunities of tomorrow, not the failures and disappointments of today. We can learn to become hopeful people. It takes the courage to look beyond what is seen to what could be, and a willingness to do our part to make that happen.

We've had a lot to think about in this Newsletter. If you have a strategy for staying in control of your life, particularly when the going gets tough, I would love to hear from you. With your permission, I would love to share the strategy with our readers. We need to be there for one another and help each other succeed. If you wish to pass this Newsletter on to a colleague or friend who may find it of value, please feel free to do so. If that person would like to receive the Newsletter, e-mail me with the address, and I will put it on my database.

About the Author

Barbara Mintzer is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant with over 30 years in business and healthcare. She speaks from experience! Her how-to programs provide participants with immediately applicable skills and strategies for getting buy-in and commitment from staff and staying on top of their professions in today's competitive and constantly changing workplace. Barbara presents keynote talks and breakout sessions for international, national, regional and state Conferences. She also conducts management retreats and in-house seminars. She facilitates panel discussions and roundtables and can be a master of ceremonies for your event...a good investment for your meeting budget. To explore the possibility of having Barbara speak at your next event, or work with your staff/leadership team, please contact her office.

Phone: (805) 964-7546
FAX: (805) 964-9636

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