Newsletter by Barbara Mintzer

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

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August 2006
Staying in Control of Our Lives

As I sit glued to the TV set watching the violence in the Middle East, my heart sinks. I find myself getting depressed at what I see, wondering if this world will ever know peace. I have spoken to many people who feel this way, and the question then becomes, what can we do, in our own world, to keep ourselves motivated and self-directed towards our goals, even when there is chaos all around us? I am especially aware of the need to do this, since I have chosen a career in which my work is to empower and uplift others. I cannot do this with integrity, if I have lost my own focus and am walking around depressed and unmotivated.

I have done some research on this issue, and the following are four excellent strategies you can use to make sure you stay in control of your life, 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" those feelings is the first step 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.

A number of months ago I was feeling particularly unmotivated and resentful at all the work I had to do. I saw friends enjoying their lives, traveling, etc., and all I was doing was working. Never mind that I sought out this work and wanted to do it; quite unexpectedly this resentment came over me. I wanted to be "free" without any responsibilities...I had enough! So I booked a trip for my husband and me to go back to New York to visit friends and relatives last month. We did just that, and the time away from the office and the presssures of business really worked wonders. I had very few decisions to make; I let other people be in control; and it did the trick.

The trip taught me that when I am in "victim" it is of my own making. Nobody is persecuting me but myself, with my rigid should's and have to's that keep me from fully enjoying life. I do not have to be in control all the time; I can make a mistake and live to tell the story; and good enough is good does not have to be perfect. If I can keep this in perspective and acknowledge and own up to it when I am causing my pain, I can move on with my life.

2.    Develop a plan of action. When you are feeling down and dis-engaged with your work and your life in general, what can you do? Do you have a place you can go to where it is quiet and private where you can do some reflective thinking? Sometimes a walk around the block a couple of times can clear your head. 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, cry, 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 verablizing how you feel, giving those feelings an airing, helps you sort things out. Pets are absolutely wonderful for this purpose. When you just need "someone" to listen, they will do that beautifully for you.
For those of you who own dogs, you know that whatever you say or do, you are absolutely perfect and always right in the eyes of your dog. Cats are a little more "iffy" but they are still terrific to talk to.

Are there certain things you like to do that give you satisfaction that you can turn to when you are feeling depressed or 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. 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 once 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,
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 a "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 it 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. 

4.    See yourself as a hopeful person. 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's 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. 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 wish to pass it along to a colleague or a friend who may find it of value, 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. I am now booking speaking engagements for the coming year. If your company, organization or association would benefit from my message, please let me know. If you would like me to keynote an upcoming Conference, or would like me to work in-house with your staff, I would be happy to discuss this with you.

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 next 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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