Your Big Dreams

What’s your big dream?

You know, the thing you keep thinking of.

  • You find yourself thinking of it in the middle of the night…

  • Your thoughts wander there while you’re driving your most familiar routes...

  • Have you ever even said it out loud?

Big dreams are important.

It’s one of the gifts of being human.

These big, beautiful brains of ours come with the ability to imagine all sorts of things - creations, experiences, the future - and imagination is the catalyst for progress.

Imagination is what we’re wired to do and I believe, part of our purpose.

We’re not supposed to do all the dreams.

Most of the time, allowing yourself to imagine is the exercise that’s most impactful. Flexing those creative muscles and stretching the boundaries of what you’re willing to consider, allowing yourself to dream - is usually way harder than the actual action it would take to make the dream real.

I wanna know what your imagination’s cooking up these days.

Post in the comments and tell me: What’s your big dream?

With love, joy & gratitude,
Tarah Keech | hello@therealcrew.com
Join us in our private FB community: therealcrewgroup.com

PS - If this is one of those dreams that may be a real-life-worthy adventure, we’ve got your back. Post in our private FB community with the tag #bigdream for unbridled support - feedback, launch pad, sounding board, accountability partners, and cheer squad :)

Hope is not naïve

Did you know that you’re in charge of how you feel?

And -

However you feel - whatever that emotion is - is valid.

But -

It’s a choice.

Human physiological response to an emotional stimulus remains in your body for 90-seconds. Fear, anger, grief, joy, surprise. These chemical responses surge and course through your body immediately kind of like road flares to signal your brain and body what you need to do immediately in order to stay alive and protect yourself.

If you are feeling an emotion for longer than 90-seconds, it is because you are choosing to. You re-trigger that physiological reaction by tell yourself stories. By “stories” I mean any internal monologue or conjured thought: memories, imaginations, speculations, gossip, self-talk (negative or positive).

Now -

If you CHOOSE to tell yourself stories that are negative, undercutting, focused on the worst-possible outcomes, or reliving misses - you will FEEL those feelings of anger, embarrassment, discouragement, resentment, defensiveness, hostility.

If you CHOOSE to consider what you hope for, what you appreciate, who you love, what you enjoy, what you look forward to, how you can give and share to encourage someone else - you will FEEL joy, peace, excitement, restored.

This is why gratitude is powerful. This is why intention setting and visualization are tools to practice.  

Hope is not naïve, it is an exercise of will. The will to choose… Joy. Optimism. Best. Worthiness. Amazement. Peace. Happiness. Contentment.  

Believe what you will about afterwards but this existence is finite. But here, in this space, between now and then - you have the power and the ability to choose your experience.

In the giant curiosity-shop of all possible feelings - what will you choose as your experience today? 

With love, joy & gratitude,

Tarah Keech | hello@therealcrew.com
Join us in our private FB community: therealcrewgroup.com




Creating Community in the Emotional Desert of Corporate America

Alternative title: Mentorships v. Masterminds - You can have your cake and eat it too.

We’re going to start with a PSA…

In case you are not already part of our private community, please come on over and join us. I invite you cordially, formally and with engraved invitations to join this amazing group of women where we talk about all the things related to being a professional in today's society and culture.

Here’s the link where you can request access (it’s free) >> therealcrewgroup.com.

We also love to talk about applying the art and science of psychology to help improve ourselves, our lives and our careers - everything to being seen, being heard, being appreciated, being recognized and for God's sake - getting paid.

Corporate

For years now, I've been a corporate consultant and I really do love that job. I love the strategy involved. I love helping our clients achieve exactly what they want. I love bringing clarity and structure around chaos. I love building bridges and relationships across teams and individuals who, frankly, don't always see eye-to-eye.

Split personality

I also love entrepreneurship and thinking about business strategically. My husband and I have a couple of businesses. Thinking about the marketing, the online moving pieces, and learning the tools. But, I feel like my brain has two levels that it's always operating on: corporate brain and entrepreneur brain (not to mention the family and personal stuff).

For the corporate side, I have been truly blessed to have amazing mentors. But I sought them out, cold-called, fan-girled them on social media, took their classes and inserted myself into their circles.

Mentorship, for me, has been something I've always had to go after, I've had to make a conscious effort to establish it and maintain those relationships. I've been very fortunate in that these people have usually been very receptive and continue to guide me mentally, strategically and even emotionally as I progressed through different points of my corporate career.

Let’s compare that to what’s available to entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurially, there are amazing communities online of other entrepreneurs who are helping, coaching, supporting, masterminding, master-classing, always generating content and creating groups where these types of conversations can happen.

What I aim to do with The Real CREW is something that I lack of. This community is a mastermind, sharing, community culture in the corporate world.

Can you imagine?

How great would it be if you were sitting in your day job or trying to think about your career strategically and not have to go after a mentor? Not have to consciously seek them out? Not feel like you're being a cyber-stalker like I felt? Not have to pay someone, or feel like you're inserting yourselves and someone's already extremely constrained schedule?

Can I get an amen?

THIS what The Real CREW is here for.

We are a cooperative, reciprocal mentorship network where we do all of those fun things and more.

Let us hear about your challenges and talk about them together. Other people in The CREW have been where you are…

  • trying to get to a new position

  • trying to negotiate a salary

  • dealing with a really nerve-wracking presentation

  • a really creepy co-worker

  • having to step out of your comfort zone and do a stretch role

The CREW is a group of professional women who have been there and done that or want to get where you are and can learn from you.

So join us. The Collective of Real Executive Women

We are a cooperative, reciprocal mentorship community. We are that beautiful hybrid between the corporate, formerly structured and sort of rigid mentorship dynamic and this beautiful online community of people who are truly thoughtful and positively intentioned professionals, who want to help you succeed and want to learn from you so that they can succeed.

You hear the JFK quote “A rising tide lifts all boats,” all the time in the entrepreneurial world — I invite you to join us as we bring this into our corporate cultures. This has the potential to change the world for the better.

I want to hear from you if you have questions that you would like us to talk about here and in the group. Please post them in the comments below.

I am excited and honored with the hope of getting to see and talk with you soon, thank you.

With love, joy & gratitude,
Tarah Keech | hello@therealcrew.com
Join us in our private FB community: therealcrewgroup.com

Can Gratitude Change Your Life?

Everyone’s thinking about what they’re grateful for and in a few weeks, we’re all gonna be thinking about what we want in the New Year.

It’s a beautiful cycle. These are two important steps - Gratitude and vision. Gratefulness in the present and intention for the future we want.

This is typically how it goes:
Make a list of what you’re grateful for that you already have. Check. Make a list of everything you want that you don’t yet have. Check.

But… What about when gratitude doesn’t work?
What about when goals don’t work?

But that leaves us with a list focused on what we don’t have. Good intentions, for sure, but that list of resolutions or desires can feel like a bucket list of lack. Take it from me, nothing kills hope and momentum quite like that scarcity mindset.

You gotta be hella gritty to push through and achieve despite feeling that gap of insufficiency.

How goals affect your brain

Our beautiful human brains are wired to avoid risk and scarcity - it’s how we all work and it’s helped us survive as a species. Additionally, the more scarcity we perceive, the more we avoid a particular stimuli and the more reinforced those neural pathways become. For more on this awesome science and how our amygdala works - check out the work of Dr. Kay Tye (Nature, 2015).

Intention setting FAILS when you focus on what you don’t have

What this means in your life is when you think of something as a failure, a gap, a deficit, or scarce, your brain circuitry gives you the go-ahead to actively avoid it. (Hello dropped New Year’s resolutions, circa always!) And, the more you avoid that topic/ action/ task/ unopened bill/ toxic coworker/ gym/ public speaking, the more your brain reinforces that you’ve made the right decision and the easier it is to never do the thing!

Case in point: The path less traveled had a poem written about it. No poem about the common path is nearly as renowned - why? Because it’s easy to take the common, worn path. No big deal. It is MUCH harder to take the less traveled path. Enter grit: where deliberate action meets intention, “passion meets perseverance”.

But now! You strategic diva, you see it coming. Let’s short circuit that discouragement dip and start with a simple re-program of the way we do our Thanks Giving and Intention Setting.

I made an Intentional Gratitude mindfulness exercise for you >> get it here.

How gratitude affects your brain

Here’s what you need to know about gratitude...

Gratitude is NOT comparison. Gratitude is not recognizing that others are worse off than you. Just like intention setting is not about focusing on what you don’t have.

Gratitude is an appreciation for the positive aspects of what you do have.

As for how gratitude plays in your brain, it triggers dopamine - the amazing chemical responsible for feeling “reward” (think: happiness, joy, peace) and for initiating action (NIH, Zahn et al., 2009).

What this means in your life is that the more gratitude you can practice, the more rewarding emotions you feel and the more likely you are to take actions to protect, reinforce and strengthen what triggered that feeling.

SO… What you practice being grateful for, you are more likely to endorse with your actions.

TAKE HOME: Gratitude can hot-wire your brain for success. Joy-full success.

Here’s how: Intentional Gratitude >> get your guide right here.

Intentional Gratitude means you deliberately practice gratitude and you practice gratitude for what you intend for your future (like resolutions).

Now, think of all that you want and intend for the future. The next year. The rest of this season. Make a list of what you want that you don’t have and for every item on the list, add something you want that you already have - and give thanks for that too.

Intentional Gratitude

(Get the guide here)

  1. Make a list of your wishes for the future. Alternate on every other line, list a wish for your future and alternate the other lines and list something you wish for the future that you already have in your life (can be a person, routine, thing, habit, etc.).

  2. Be grateful one by one. One by one, go down the list and think: What is it about that item that you are grateful for? What do you most look forward to about having it in your life?

  3. For your future intentions: Actively imagine having it already - right now - in the present tense. Feel it. Appreciate how amazing it is. Imagine experiencing it in the present tense. What does it look like, feel like, sound like - imagine that it’s already integrated into your day and life - imagine a day with it already real. Go through every step and recognize how much you like it and are enjoying it.  Feelings create thoughts (which reinforce those neural pathways in your amygdala!).

  4. Continue these grounding thoughts for what you already have: Remember the first time you interacted with it or them? Remember the last time? What do you love about it? What does life with it look like? Feel like? Sound like?

  5. Go forth and do with ease and the simplified neural path. These Intentional Gratitude steps reinforce your neural pathways in ways that make it easier for you to achieve your desires and work from a place of joy and abundance. You are literally hot wiring your brain to help you succeed.
     

With love, joy & gratitude,

Tarah Keech | hello@therealcrew.com
Join us in our private FB community: therealcrewgroup.com

PS - This little exercise is inspired by The Life Coach School and Brooke Castillo. I’m a fan. Follow, listen and absorb - if you want to nerd out together about all the amazing wisdom shared, hit me up on email @ hello@therealcrew.com.

#WhatWeKnow

CREW, We’re starting a new thread. Introducing…

#whatweknow

 
 

Because I want to know what you know.

For this inaugural conversation, please, please answer this question in our private FB group:

What topic, area or industry do you know the MOST about?

(Ahem, holistic and organic hair care! Cancer research! Navigating bankruptcy! Vacation rentals! Health and wellness! Copy editing! Crowd sourcing funding! Makeup and skin care! It doesn’t have to be your job.)

As my hubs and I teach the kids life “stuff” - oh, so much random stuff - I’m kind of falling in love with the marvelousness of how we learn.

“Sharing what we know (read: what YOU know) supports us all”

“Growing Up Wild” (on Netflix) has this scene of baby macaques diving and swimming (did you know monkeys can swim?!) to find the hidden superfood, seed heads of lily pads.

This is a remarkable example of how we benefit from growing up in a society with a cumulative knowledge base - we get to learn the best of the best from those who have gone before us and figured it out. The information gets updated and refined through the group’s experiences and shared which multiplies the benefit to society.

Hellooooo, CREW! Sharing what we know (read: what YOU know) supports us all!

Please, for God’s sake, learn what I know without having to go through the toil, tribulations and student loans it took me to learn it.

 
 

Here’s my vision: #whatweknow will become our very own CREW directory of awesomeness.

You never know what you might have a question about or when you might be able to help someone else in a moment of need. What you take for granted just might help one of our CREW score some of that sweet, sweet, lily pad superfruit in their own ponds ;)

So, tell us! What do you know?

Post what you know in our group HERE >> therealcrewgroup.com

With love, joy & gratitude,
Tarah Keech
hello@therealcrew.com
Join our online community: therealcrewgroup.com

This is dangerous for me to say...

I disagree with Harvard Business Review.

“The war for leadership talent is real, and organizations with the best leaders will win.”

WRONG.

The teams with the best leaders are winners. But see, organizations can’t hire their ideal leader.

You can only hire good humans & then it’s on YOU to bring them up to be the leader you need them to be.

How exactly do you make that happen?

The Best Leaders = Winning
Good Humans + Mentoring = The Best Leaders

Your company is doing what you’re doing because you care - because you provide value to your end user. You’re invested in their success so you invest in your team to make that vision real.

In that sense, of course you want to win. You want the best leaders. You want the innovators, the creators, the collaborators, the blue ocean captains of industry, the why-fortified enterprise of earth shakers and money makers, the grittiest and the greatest.

So you compete for top talent. You recruit aggressively. You woo. And once they’re in the door you measure KPI’s and ROI’s and continue to hold up performance for visibility and accountability.

Then, people fall short for the myriad of reasons you’ve come to expect and we all just accept it.

You don’t have to accept it. You don’t have to settle. You can have the best.

What I’m about to say next is dangerous for me to say.

It’s a conversation I only have in very private situations. Closed-door meetings. One or two people at a time. But I’ve had to say these exact same words, over and over and over again with nearly every corporate consulting client I’ve ever had.

“You don’t need better people. You need the people you have to do their jobs better.”

The team you have is not well enough equipped.

And that’s on you.

How do you get Good Humans to do the best job?

Pareto Principle = “80 percent of consequences come from 20 percent of the cause”

Some people are rock stars. Some people just show up and walk in the door giving a care and getting things done - they’re good and resourceful and they’ve got grit. Then there is the other 80%.

Here’s what’s missing

Where do you learn tone, politics, context, history, matrixed layers of impact? How do you learn a customer relationship? Not to mention the tech archaeological digs through years of code fix, migrations, acquisitions, etc.

Being and having the best leaders in your team only requires that you start with Good Humans, and add the right Mentoring that supports the right learning that empowers the best performance.

The Best Mentoring

  • I am NOT talking about traditional corporate mentorship matching.

  • I am NOT talking about cold-calling or fan-girling.

  • I am NOT talking about any rando’s arbitrary advice.

The Best Mentoring includes:

Modeling

Human brains are hardwired to learn from observation. Create a culture where modeling is woven into the day-to-day.

Sharing

No ulterior motives. Transparency and inclusion is the ultimate launchpad for dynamic creativity.

Reciprocation

Cooperative and safe. Without the vulnerability of hierarchical disadvantages.

Consistency

Inspiration in action propels progress. Inspiration in consistent action perpetuates success.

If you, your team or a team you know is looking to develop, launch or revamp their mentor program, helping you be and have the BEST leaders through the right mentorship is exactly what I do. Email and we’ll chat: hello@therealcrew.com.

With love, joy & gratitude,
Tarah Keech
hello@therealcrew.com

About Tarah Keech, Host and Founder of The Real CREW

This is homework. And me, practicing what I teach.

So, let me ask you this - How do you prep for an interview? Your rituals? Advice? Tell me in the comments below.

For me, I’ve gotten coaching, asked mentors, begged for feedback and studied all the articles and blogs.

Let me save you that hassle and expense. The experts, the impressive people and the best in the industry all say the same thing:

The key for killing it in an interview is knowing how to spin information about yourself while making it ALL about the person and company who are interviewing you.

Here we are. Up until now, The Real CREW hasn’t had an about page.

The assignment is to tell the origin story, the meet-cute for what’s brought us together here and now. I’m going to figure out how to write the about page and try to apply this nugget of wisdom.

So...

You know when you think you want one thing and then… you realize you don’t? You can call it growing or maturing or simply learning. It is all of those things (and I hereby give you permission to change your mind too).

Who am I?

I am in love with my husband. I am in love with my daughters. I am in love with my life. I am the host and founder of The Collective of Real Executive Women and I am so stinking proud!

Backstory

My Dad is now retired Air Force and as a kid, we moved around state-side. The summer before I started high school, we moved to our “home base” of Grand Bay, Alabama. This is where my mom grew up, where my parents met and the setting for my childhood summers. We came back to take care of my mom’s mom and then my other grandma moved in too. I had the best days and made the sweetest memories getting to know them and be with them during the last years of their lives. It was hard, and fun, and hysterical and tragic.

Spurred on by the heartache of grief and the determination to live while the living is good, I set sights on serving Alzheimer’s caregivers. My freshly married husband and self quit our jobs, picked up our puppy and moved to Denver for my master’s program.

About 2 weeks into the program, it hit me that I did not, in fact, want to be a therapist. Hm.

Yikes

I stuck with it. Largely because of my new amazing cohort of friends and the truly, profoundly inspiring researchers I connected with. They needed project management help - I plugged in. This work was life-affirming, heart-lighting soul-fuel. End-of-life decision making. Hospice and palliative care caregiver support. Data-based tools, treatments and support that I am honored to have worked on.

Then, I hit this point where I was in love with the work but not in love with the real-life salary constraints that they failed to match up to my #housegoals and new, shiny student loans.

Pivot Point

So where do you want to be? I’m asking you.

This is an exercise we go through in my mentoring workshops: Imagine all the possible Big Dreams - all the options that might be fun. No wrong answers. You’re not going to be graded on it. No one is going to read it or judge you for it. Now, pick the ideas that are interesting and reverse engineer how that career path looks. In one of my options, I kept seeing PMP and project management. I took the classes, passed the test, put the initials on my Linked In profile and went to Vegas for the weekend. The next Monday, I had four recruiter calls and ultimately became a project manager consultant.

Looking back at that transition, I created financial freedom and the freedom to change my story.

Next came chapters of learning, stretching, growing and this weird theme of really excelling (I’m talking unsolicited promotions and raises, emails, cards and flowers as thank you’s, three-step-above-me leaders asking for my advice) just by using what I learned in my psych program within these corporate situations: Appreciative Inquiry, Clinical and Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This is magic sauce.

Real definition.png

Why wasn’t everyone able to do this?

They are!

Lightbulb moment. Rather, hundreds of lightbulbs. These psychology skills and tools can be used by everyone in every single job to grow better relationships, create more engagement, get better results from happier teams and stakeholders and all around win more - with way, way less stress. Less pain. Less spin. Less drama. Less frustration. Less angst. Less worry.

Here we are

Since 2012, this idea has been marinating and iterating, growing and refining itself into what we have today:

This most amazing community:  

Join us, won’t you? therealcrewgroup.com

This WHY:

The Collective of Real Executive Women is here to support, encourage, enable and uplift each other in realizing our joy and purpose in all aspects of our lives - especially our careers. We believe in purpose and we believe in being real: real connectedness, real success, real joy. We are challenging the corporate status quo as a community of professional women encouraging, enabling and empowering each other to live the fullness of our joy and purpose in all aspects of our lives and careers.

YES

Saying “Yes,” to more joy and being connected with intention to these lives we’re leading. That’s what we’re all about.

I foster this new opportunity for my clients in workshops and coaching on the application of the art and science of psychology in today's workplace:

  • Balance! Real balance and whole-self-care (without the guilt and burnout)

  • How to find and build authentic, lasting mentor and sponsor relationships inside and outside your company

  • Working with and for challenging personalities

  • Overcoming insecurity and imposter syndrome

  • Your interpersonal branding strategy (yes, that is a thing and it’s hugely important in your career)

If you know anyone who would benefit from this type of support, let me know and I’ll send them our “Hello” kit full of goodies and more information. Email me at hello@therealcrew.com.

If you haven’t already, we want and welcome you to join our (free) private Facebook community! This link will take you there: therealcrewgroup.com. Invite your friends - we’re all better together.


With love, joy & gratitude,

Tarah Keech
Web: therealcrew.com ||
Community: therealcrewgroup.com ||
Email: hello@therealcrewgroup.com ||

Doing. Despite. (Intuition, the illusive siren of all procrastination)

I am here today, completely sweaty. I took the initiative and got to work a little early so that I can work out before logging in, and am feeling really good. After a very long time of having not been consistent with workouts, today feels amazing to be moving my body again.

It is not easy and it's not always feasible (don't let anyone tell you differently). But today in this moment, I chose to do despite routines and habits and schedules.

Doing, despite all the things.

I like to think of myself as an intuition farmer, working to refine and strengthen my intuition because I believe that we get all sorts of signals, literal signals.

Blink

Have you read the book by Malcolm Gladwell called “Blink”? (Not sponsored.) By tuning into what we are able to perceive on an instantaneous, subconscious level is truly powerful.

But… Womp, womp.

With that comes this really convenient excuse that when I feel less engaged or excited about doing something, I just don't do it and instead, I say, “Oh, it's my intuition telling me that I shouldn't be doing that today.”

Doing, despite not feeling like it - it's not easy. It's really a challenge.

There's another book I want to recommend to you: Mel Robbins’ “The Five-Second Rule.” In a nutshell, give yourself a countdown if there's something you know you need to do and you don't feel like doing it. Give yourself a five-second countdown and step into action. It trips your brain before you're able to talk yourself out of doing the thing. Before I'm able to tell myself that my intuition is telling me that I shouldn't be working out today, I said “Yes,” gave myself a five-second countdown, “5- 4- 3- 2- 1,” and I stepped into motion! #winning

If that at all lights a bulb in your mind and piques your interest, please check out Mel Robbins - she does a great Ted talk on it, and then get the book (not sponsored): The Five-Second Rule. It's a super quick read, and I would love to hear what you think about it. Post in the comments or pop on into The Real CREW’s Facebook Group.

What’s your real goal?

Do, despite. If at any point when you’re planning or intention setting, you’ve decided that what you really want requires a set of actions:

  • You want to get healthier

  • You want to get stronger

  • You want to get more efficient

  • You have major goals, or

  • Several small goals

  • Budget and saving plans

It requires action to make that happen.

Don't let yourself buy into the excuse of not doing it, “Because [whatever],” choose to do the action despite how you're feeling in that moment. I guarantee you will feel better after you've done the action. You will be proud of yourself for making that choice and the way our brains are wired, the more you reinforce that positive behavior, the easier it gets.

Challenge

I encourage you today to do what will get you closer to your goal, despite … whatever you may be feeling.

What are you going to choose to DO today? Despite what? Tell me in the comments below - Rooting for you!

With so much love, joy and gratitude,
Tarah Keech

How to Negotiate :: The Anatomy of an Empowered Yes

Episode 002_ Empower the Yes_Blog Title.png

I hate being the bad guy, I've never liked saying “NO” to anyone, I don't think many people do.

(If you do, reply in the comments right here because I want to hear your story.)

When your gut reaction is “NO WAY!” Here’s a breakdown of exactly how to negotiate and say “NO” in a way that:

  • Boosts our reputation

  • Boosts the engagement that we get back from others, and

  • Boosts our productivity

Here is a handy guide for exactly how to do this, it's a step-by-step printable that you’ll want to use as a reference point as we go through these steps and it can be reused, time and time again. It walks you through every step and gives you an exact breakdown of the formula to use when you're translating your “NO” into a positive.

<<— Grab it and let's get started.

In my project manager days and especially as a mother this is something that I was having to do every.single.day: Say “NO.”

I don’t mind drawing the hard line at work when I need to protect my team or defend scope and resources but I want to be a true collaborator. I also dread the possibility that I’ll be the voice of “NO” “NO” “NO” “NO” “NO” in my daughters’ memories or get called the “Axe” at work. (I mean, it sounds kinda badass but it can wear a body down.)

As you know, being the “NO” person impacts the way we're seen (and remembered) by others. It contributes as much to your personal brand as anything else.

We're programmed societally to believe that if we're not part of the solution that we are part of the problem.

Let's reframe

We can control how people perceive us. Think of this as an interpersonal PR launch. So, if you're feeling like you have to say “NO” all the time… if you feel like you're constantly giving people the bad news… being on the defensive… pushing back… being the bad guy… being the messenger that everyone seems to want to kill… this is for you.

Are you ready for the earth shatteringly simple answer?

Do more good and less bad.

 
 

It's hardly that easy. But, if you want to be seen more positively as someone who is solution oriented, someone who's a team builder or a true collaborator, a solution finder, then you've got to do positive things in a positive way.

Two reasons –

  1. Fundamentally we grow what we sow. In reputations, relationships, karma, as a farmer. It’s a universal truth.

  2. Interpersonal PR. People believe what you tell them and you become associated with the way you deliver the messages you put out into the world.  

Let’s level set.

What does “POSITIVE” mean?

Take a step back and think about this: being positive means being trusting. It takes a huge (sometimes painful) leap of faith to assume the best about people, I admit that. It’s one of the hardest things to do. Positivity means being open, not just forcing yourself to assume the best about people but peeling away the layers of assumptions that you automatically make of people.

Answer: Being positive means Trusting, being open, willing to learn, willing to generate new ideas, being curious and the corresponding absence of negative behavior.

*I want to say a big caveat here, that being positive does not mean being a pushover, it does not mean being pliable or being slimy or salesy or distorting the truth in any way. It means being able to frame things based in fact, honestly, and then focus on the solution. If you’re here for how to be a gross, mean, manipulative, human being, you’re in the wrong place and you’re excused from the table.*

The way this works psychologically is based in the science of perception. What I’m going to teach you is how you're going to train other people to associate you with solutions, to associate you with positive change, proactivity, productivity, progress. We are psychologically going to prime others to perceive us in a positive way.

You’re in the right place if want to be seen more positively and you dislike always saying and being associated with “NO.”

Get your guide and let’s look at each step:

1.    Find the No

First step in your guide: Any time you encounter something and you hear your own mind or mouth saying “No way,” “That's impossible,” “That's crazy,” “What are you talking about?” “This is ridiculous,” …

That's your “NO.” 

A “NO” come from anyone in your life, but think specifically about your co-workers, your boss, your teammates, your clients. Anytime you hear yourself say, “NO,” let that be a little flag for you that this is an opportunity to use this reframing.

Okay, huge disclaimer and miniature soapbox: Positivity does not in any way minimize legitimate risk, it is not trying to make things all sunshine and lollipops, it is not delusional thinking or rose-colored grasses. Risks are important. Some are even critical – read: vital – to our survival as humans and how we've come to exist on the planet. We’re programmed to tune into risk b/c if we tune out from legitimate risks, then we put ourselves in a vulnerable position.
It’s the same for our career. If we are tuning out legitimate risks, then we miss things that can catastrophically harm our initiatives, our projects, our programs, our teams.
This is not telling you to ignore risks. This is a tactic for reframing the risks into solutions. Soapbox step-down. Let's move on.

2.    Internal Audit

You've identified the “NO.” The next step is to audit your thoughts in order to stop ruminating on the negative.

This is so important. Ruminating or indulging in anxiety that we sometimes feel when we say “NO” (like we might be letting someone down or seen as less than ideal – anyone?) can be negativity quicksand.

Now let's take a look at what the problem or “ASK” is that needs to be solved, while giving yourself that moment of willingness to be open without overlaying any of the “NO” reasons – practical and likely though they may be.

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In this internal audit, listen to what you're saying out loud and what you're thinking. If you keep running over and over and over the same soundtrack of reasons why this idea’s a “NO” or why this “ASK” is impossible, then pause right there.

As another flag, consider - Have you sensed yourself feeling anxious about this?

Anxiety and rumination feed each other; they’re cyclical. The more you think about something negative the more anxious you get about it, the more likely you are to see real or imagined evidence to support the negative thought, so the more anxious you get about it, and the more you ruminate… stop! You can even acknowledge it out loud. This really helps me shake off the freight train of thoughts that tend to run off the tracks when I’m feeling anxious. Something about verbalizing the need to stop makes it feel less abstract. 

I want to make a special call out a tremendous resource for those of us with anxious tendencies: Dr. Alice Boyes created a book called “The Anxiety Toolkit.” If you are someone who feels like you're dealing with anxiety constantly, you can learn more about this resource here: http://theanxietytoolkit.com/ (not sponsored).

Dr. Boyes says it so well, “Rumination and worry tend to be associated with being closed to new ideas,” which will put you in a negative light to those you work with. It’ll also prevent you from being a collaborator because if you're closed off to new ideas, there's no way you can move forward and there's no way that you can help your team get where they need to be, and there’s no way that you can progress yourself.

Check out her site for the book and other resources if you want more details on how to break out of that negative rumination-anxiety cycle.

 3.    Just the Facts, Ma’am

Alright, next step. You've identified the “NO”, you've stopped ruminating on the negative and all the reasons why it doesn't make sense; the next step is really my favorite. This is where you get the facts. Here, you dig into the research, do some observation, do some critical thinking. What you want to understand from the all the people involved is what value the “ASK” will ultimately give.

When I say “value,” I mean emotionally, I mean physically, I mean with status politically… What value will this “ASK” ultimately deliver to them or to those that they esteem?

So what?

Here’s a shortcut to understanding the real, root of the “ASK”… Answer: Why is this is important to the asker? And then try to answer for yourself, “So what?” Answer and then repeat, “So what?” five times. Along about round three, you’re gonna start to hit the real reasons why this ask matters to the people making the request.

EXAMPLE: The head of IT wants to reallocate some work to your cost center.

  • So what?

  • So that her team doesn’t own the responsibility for delivery.

    • So what?

    • So that they don’t have to prioritize this work over competing priorities.

      • So what?

      • So they don’t have to take team members off peak-readiness efforts.

        • So what?

        • Because they’re resource constrained and at current allocation, cannot do it all.

          • So what?

          • If they take it on, they will likely fail to deliver this in front of the high-demand client.

          • BINGO.

 4.    Focus on the Possible

This brings us to Step 4: Consider the “BUT.”  

“No, but…”

Focus on what is possible and different ways to get there. This is where you've got to keep going. You've got to keep learning, keep researching and be open. 

Now, think about all of the different additional ways can this root “ASK” can be met. Create here. Be imaginative. No one is auditing your mental whiteboard here. Don’t sweat the details. Don’t reign it in.

TIP: One of my coaches taught me that when you come up with a solution, don’t shoot it down or dwell on why it won’t work. Instead, give yourself permission to think it by saying, “This is just an idea. It’s one of 30 different ways this could go.”

Be open to the possibility that this need can be met in way different from how it was asked. There you go. Consider the “BUT” ;) You've got the facts, you've been really creative with considering the “BUT,” and now we're on to step 5.

5.    Empower the “YES”

In the guide, I've got the formula laid out for you but here’s the take home message: Frame what you can do and your proposal in a positive light.  

Now that you know the real “ASK”, you know who your audience is, you know what value they're ultimately after, you want to frame it positively while candidly stating what you can and cannot do, but wrap it up with a solution.  

When you wrap it up with a proposal, you don't just go in there with a flat “NO.” You become the solution finder, you become the team member who lifts others up and you become the person who constantly gets difficult asks done despite the worst odds.

The Formula

Here we go, this is my personal formula for how I frame my “NO’s.”

  1. Restate what they asked for. This demonstrates that you understand fully what they're dealing with

  2. Summarize why it's important to them. You align yourself to their values and they feel like you're on their team when you can communicate back to them why that “ASK” was relevant, valuable and important. This is my #1 alliance and trust building tool.

  3. Next, clearly outline what you can and cannot do from what they originally asked.

  4. Highlight why and keep it brief. For example, if it's a cost constraint, if it's a resource constraint, if it's a timeline constraint, if it's just something that's not quite feasible - that's fine. Tell them in simple, straightforward terms, no huge explanation needed. Hit it at the summary level.

  5. Here comes your magical “BUT!” Your magical “BUT” is reframing what is possible and what can be done. Tell them what you're willing and able to do, what value that will yield, and wrap it up with “if-then.”

    If you're saying “NO” it means you don't have all the resources (or interest) to meet the original ask, and you will need other things to support accomplishing the revised proposal. That’s the “if-then” statement. Example: “If we can get that extra funding, if you can reprioritize existing constraints… then that's something that we'll be able to deliver.” #FTW

THIS Empowered Yes approach will get you recognized. This will get you appreciated. This will get you empowered with more responsibility and advancement opportunities and this is absolutely the right way to do it.

Using this five-step approach is powerful, dynamic-shifting stuff.

Rewind

Let’s review, top to bottom.

  • Step 1: You were asked something that you said “NO” to as immediate reaction.

  • Step 2: You heard yourself say “NO” to it, so you immediately stopped ruminating and emphasizing the negative about why the original ask was unpalatable, dare I say impossible.

  • Step 3: You dug in to get the facts about the actual “ASK” and understand where they were coming from, why it’s important to them.

  • Step 4: You are creative, and you imagined what is possible.

  • Step 5: In the truest possible sense of cooperation and collaboration, you've run through this with them in a positive light based on what is doable.

  • BONUS POINTS: (I love this!) If you can go back to them with the “NO”, with your proposal, and you give them actionable things that they can do for their next step.
    You’re building your value and your credibility here when you can tell them that you've already engaged the right people, if you've already assessed the level of effort, if you've already gotten budgets in place, if you've already aligned the team so that they're ready to move when somebody makes a decision. This proves you’re not only proactive in getting it done but you've thought about their needs and you've taken it to the next level.

If you want something from other people, give it.

If you want to be perceived more positively, give more positivity.

It's the same simple principle as what you plant will grow; so, plant positivity, grow positivity.

If you want more positivity in your life, you are invited to join our private Facebook community of professional women, supporting, uplifting and encouraging each other to live in the fullness of our joy in all aspects of our lives and careers. You can request access right here: therealcrewgroup.com.

 

With love, joy and gratitude,
Tarah Keech

hello@therealcrew.com || therealcrewgroup.com

How to Handle an Over-Sharer

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One component of my personal whole-self-care approach includes curating my intake of information, including news feeds, movies, what I read, who I follow and who I build relationships with.

We all know we don’t get to control who we work with but we can control who we build relationships with. For the most part in our work roles, we tend to stay in our existing relationship / role lanes. We keep to our tried-and-true, well-worn, familiar routine conversational exchanges.

 
 

So of course, when someone overshares, TMI shatters that routine and can throw a wrench in your day.

Do you tend to attract those kinds of conversations or worse, chronic over-sharers? Sometimes, when people find out that I have a master’s degree in clinical psychology, otherwise professional relationships explode into “share” sessions but looking back, I’ve always felt like a magnet for those types of unsolicited personal life, downloads.

“That’s 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.”

Here’s what I’ve learned along the way and a few steps I’ve finessed about how to handle an over-sharer when you don’t want to wreck your professional relationship but you do want to curb the volume of sharing: optimize, respond and redirect.

SECOND-HAND OVERSHARE

#truestory

I work with this guy. He’s kind and helpful and for like 95% of the time, our conversations are relevant and appropriate. Then… he overshares on his personal life and his unedited editorial opinions. He’s scared of losing his job... He should have studied a different major in college... He doesn’t like this person because he had a weird meeting with them on a project 3 years back... This lady didn’t say hello... He doesn’t like excel but really likes JIRA... He’s speculating on leadership decisions and politics... His wife makes fun of him in public... His kids are unappreciative...

It’s that special kind of awkward

…It’s borderline friendship but zero of my business and I don’t feel inclined to build the relationship beyond what it has to be. BUT - I like him and know that he’s being vulnerable with me. I want to honor that AND honor my own boundaries.

OPTIMIZE

This is my headspace: I want to be a safe place. Relationships matter and knowledge is currency - interpersonal (and sometimes even intra-personal!) dynamics can give you rare and powerful insight to otherwise perplexing situations and foresight into potentially blind-siding risk scenarios.

Think of it as a dynamic advantage. The better you know those you work with and for, the more accurately you can predict their responses and tailor your messaging to them in the future. Listen while they share because they’re drawing you a map to their trigger points for motivation and inspiration, for their fears and needs, who matters to them and why - plus, likely a barrage of other intel you may be able to apply going forward. You couldn’t pay someone for that kind of insight!

RESPOND / DON’T RESPOND

Only engage to the degree that you want to maintain the relationship and your reputation.

“That to which you give your energy is an endorsement.” -- Tarah Keech

Pointer #1: Oversharing does not require reciprocation.

For me, listening is way easier than sharing so this has always been intuitive. A good rule of thumb is to share only as much as you want your boss to know. Because they just might hear (be told) what you say. Channel your Miranda rights: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say CAN be used against you.”

No matter what crazy dirt you may have on this other person, you are fully accountable for what you tell them. Once those words are out there, you can be over-heard, quoted or referenced. Only bring your cookies to the picnic if you want to share with everyone in the park.

If you want to curtail their sharing, don’t reciprocate. By not reciprocating, you’re giving them subliminal cues that this line of conversation isn’t really your jam.

Pointer #2: Fact based reflections.

Because you’re a thoughtful, caring human, it’s hard to stop a conversation mid-flow especially if they’re sharing personal details and thoughts.

 
 

But how do you toe the line of tactfully not being a dick? Give succinct reflections only. Keeping it short signals that you’re done talking about it.

  • “I hear you.”

  • “That sounds tough.”

  • “How uncomfortable.”

  • “What a difficult situation.”

  • “That’s quite a story.”

Pointer #3: Stop engaging.

Don’t ask questions about what they just dumped on you. ZERO. Questions show interest and literally invite them to share more. Asking questions proves that you’re paying attention and that you care what they’re saying. So, if you want them to stop talking, stop encouraging it.

 
 

Pointer #4: Pinky promise.

(With the assumption that what’s shared is legal and not harmful…) Honor their trust and keep their confidence. Don’t repeat what you hear to anyone. Don’t say names. Ever. All that does is damage your reputation with the people who hear you. Keep a lid on it.  

REDIRECT

When you need to stop the oversharing flood and get back to business…

Rule: Only respond to the degree that you want to encourage more sharing (remember “energy is endorsement”). For example, I have grown to appreciate my coworker and consider him a work-friend. His sharing is authentic and not a distraction from my work. It’s not detracting from our productivity. But - our relationship is as familiar as it ever needs to be - I certainly don’t want to know more than what he’s already sharing. So, when he initiates a conversation I keep my comments surface-level, I only passively affirm his experience and I don’t ask follow up questions. Then, as soon as there’s a lull, I transition to a work topic.

Go for that awkward segue. If none of the “subtle” signals has landed, pop in to disrupt their stream of consciousness with an awkward transition to a work topic (almost any work topic will suffice): “How about that report?” “When is that project going live?”

It works in almost all overshare situations.

  • Them: I think my marriage is falling apart.

  • You: Wow. That sounds tough. When is that code dropping?

 
 
  • Them: Did you hear about so-and-so and whos-it-whats-it?

  • You: That’s quite a story. Did the client accept that meeting invite for later today?

What I love about this approach is it’s all 100% above board, honest and compassionate while self-respecting. Remember, you get to draw your boundaries and with these practices you help others learn how to respect them.

Got any juicy examples of overshares?

Would you like a sounding board for how to handle your real-life awkward coworkers?

If so, join us in our private Facebook community: therealcrewgroup.com! We’re a group of positive, professional women uplifting and encouraging each other as we live our best lives and careers. We’d love to have you join us!

When’s the last time you received an over-share?

Tell me in the comments below.

With love, joy & gratitude,
Tarah

PS: A refresh of some boundaries basics:

  • You are not responsible for anyone else’s feelings.

  • It’s not your responsibility to fix others.

  • You can say no.

  • You get to choose your friends.

  • You get to choose your thoughts. And because thoughts determine emotions, emotions drive actions, and actions determine results - you get to choose your emotions, actions and results.