The Only 3 Things You Ever Truly Have Control Over

From time to time, we can all get caught up trying to control things in our sphere of care and concern (what others think and do, our partners, our children, our work, etc.), versus focusing on the things we actually do have control over.

This year, focus on the things you actually can control, which are:

  1. Our Aspirations - The desires, goals, and visions you have for yourself as a leader and your team. Communicate a compelling vision of what you believe is possible to inspire, influence, and motivate others. Create a shared vision of the future that is aligned with organizational goals. Create an action plan to accomplish goals and then work it.

  2. Our Attitude - Have a gritty attitude: We are going to do our best! Allow your team to help determine what that looks like. Define excellence together and then strive for that. “We can do this! We’ll figure out a way together!”

  3. Our Actions - Actions are everything you say and don’t say, and everything you do and don’t do. Make sure your actions and words are congruent so you are trusted. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Make sure your words and actions are reflective of what you can provide and who you want to be as a leader and the impact you want to make. You are in control of your actions always! Make sure you are not reactive and do and say things you regret later. Make sure you co-create the future with others as a collective WE to avoid resistance. Make sure you are leading by example and you focus on the things you want to see expand, not on the problems and obstacles before you, then figure out ways to overcome them. Be solution oriented and bring others with you.

The above takeaways come from 6 months of listening to podcasts by Dr. Lee Baucom, a specialist in building strong relationships and thriving in life. I have been sharing his wisdom with my clients, family, and friends to help them focus on the things they have control over.

Working with me as your coach can help you gain more clarity on your goals this year, and focus on the things you can truly control as a leader and in life. If you’re interested in working together, I invite you to schedule a complimentary consultation below.

Compassionate Coaching for Leaders Accused of Being Abrasive

Have you been accused of bullying employees and fear that your reputation and career are on the line? Has your abrasive communication style tainted people’s ability to see you as a trusted leader?

Are you going through a formal investigation for bullying? Has the HR department received more than one formal complaint about your behaviour or communication style? This can be a very painful experience for leaders, especially when they care so very deeply about the people they lead and business results.

When I work with clients who have been accused of bullying or displaying abrasive or aggressive behaviours, my first goal is to help them manage their anxiety and other strong emotions stemming from the shock and threat of being perceived in a poor light. We take an inventory together, look at the expectations before us, and devise a plan to manage perceptions and take a more empowered approach to demonstrating appropriate and effective leadership behaviours and practices.

Often clients feel deep shame, believing they have failed as leaders, and come to me in hope that I can fix them. Other clients sometimes feel unjustly criticized and misunderstood and might resist the request to change their ways. In either case, fixing is not part of my job description as a coach and not what I do. On the contrary, I greet all of my clients in the spirit of Namaste (the highest in me greets the highest in you) and view them as whole, creative and capable of turning these situations around gracefully and quickly without having to give up who they are.

One of the first areas we work on is restoring what matters most to the client as a leader. We uncover the triggers that led them to show up incongruent with their core values, then help re-anchor them to those values. We examine the circumstances, stresses and anxieties that may have contributed to losing site of effective leadership skills and guiding values. We explore the inner and outer world of the leader and design strategies to deal with structures, perceptions of others, and how to cope with anxiety and stress without becoming reactive. I engage my clients in a process of gaining awareness, unlearning ineffective coping skills, and relearning more empowering ways of relating to emotions and staying connected to their core guiding values during times of stress.

Clients quickly learn that it doesn’t matter whether the allegations are true or not. They learn that they don’t have control over the perceptions of others and how they are perceived, but that they do have control over how they respond to stress and perceived threats that trigger them. We go to work where the client has control, which is over themselves and by strategically changing the way they are perceived by others by getting them to notice the more empowered and effective ways the client begins to show up after coaching.

For more information about coaching and how leaders can quickly transform from being viewed as abrasive, abrupt or aggressive to being valued as thoughtful, empowering leaders, who are fully aligned with corporate values and culture, please give us a call or send us an email.

Getting Unstuck in the Face of Change

Whether I’m just starting a new coaching relationship with a client, or we’re engaged in one of our regular meetings, we often focus on an area where my client feels stuck, or wants to create change but can’t get going, or has lost momentum.

Having a coach is a sure way to stay focused not only on what needs to get done, but also stay aware of obstacles. We all have habitual patterns of dealing with life, but sometimes life can get too full, overwhelming or even scary when we are faced with change that takes us out of our comfort zones. Having a sense of awareness of what is weighing us down, causing us to drag our feet, or making a task feel scary or onerous is half the battle.

It happens to all of us. Sometimes we have the best intentions to create change (starting that morning meditation and exercise routine, scheduling regular planning time before the day starts, engaging your team in team building exercises, spending more one-on- one time with direct reports, having those difficult conversations, sticking to the strategic plan, etc.) but old habits and patterns, workloads and unforeseen distractions can get in the way.

Life can feel overwhelming at times, making us feel anxious and stressed, and we can lose sight of the things we know will help us be more successful, peaceful, effective, and fulfilled as we spend more time managing our stress than focusing on the things we want to bring into being.

Sometimes we’re afraid so deep down that we’re not even aware of those fears. Change is a constant in life, and we have to keep finding ways to adapt and remain agile and resilient. Then we have egos to manage, which come with their own sets of fears related to rejection, success, failure, helplessness, disapproval, loss of image…and the list goes on and on.

It’s helpful to sort through any thoughts that hold us back so we can switch to more positive beliefs that are aligned with our goals. Our fears, when unconscious, can paralyze us or hold us back.

Together in a coaching relationship we can uncover the things getting in your way by engaging in inquiry about any challenging feelings, beliefs, and attitudes. With renewed awareness of the busy chatter your mind has conjured up about a certain situation, we can then identify which thoughts are helpful, and which can be reframed to create a more powerful mindset. Once we work through the unconscious and limiting beliefs, a new, clearer path for action emerges.

Other times, we get stuck in problems that are relationship-based. We may find ourselves stuck in a role that has us focused on unproductive problem solving, where we stay in a reactive state and keep responding to someone in triggered ways based on our own anxiety. Again, through inquiry we can become aware of our frame of mind, emotions, beliefs and how we got there, and can then make the switch from what we don’t want to experience, to what we do want.

We are complex creatures with habitual and default drives that sometimes carry us through our harried and busy days, leaving us in unproductive mindsets, and drained of our power and ability to be present and productive with others. A quick session with your coach can be the game changer to get you back in action, empowered, fully energized, and aligned with your goals and inner power.

A High Performance Reality Check

Here’s a high performance reality check I use when I work with teams. It’s a quick start to team engagement and getting a sense of how highly the team is performing.

I recommend taking this pulse check when you're a new leader inheriting an existing team, in order to get to know them quickly. It’s great for teams committed to high achievement and a way to monitor steady improvement. It’s also effective for teams engaging in dysfunctional behaviours, which will show up clearly in contrast to the characteristics of high-performance.

Benefits of conducting such a check:

  • It paints a picture of how well the team believes it's doing.
  • It reveals blind spots that need to be addressed or differences in personal standards that need to be clarified to establish team norms and standards.
  • It reveals areas for team improvement.
  • It’s an opportunity to find out commitment levels to high-performance.
  • It grounds the team in strengths and what they do well. 
  • It offers ample opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate wins and what's working well.

Here’s how it’s done:

Post the characteristics of high performing teams on a whiteboard or screen. Ask each person to place a total of eight dots next to the traits they believe their team already excels at. It doesn't matter if the dots are evenly distributed or placed next to just one characteristic. The characteristics with the most dots represent the strengths of the team.

This kind of appreciative engagement approach (where are we doing really well?) energizes teams and creates a pathway to gratitude and appreciation for what works on the team while simultaneously highlighting areas that ranked lower and may need work. It’s an opportunity to engage the entire team in dialogue around what's working well and what needs to change, which emerges as a collective reality while also highlighting individual realities.

I recommend initiating a dialogue around the results and acknowledging specific observable behaviours that contribute to positive results so they can be replicated by everyone on the team.

What is it specifically we do well?

Why do we do this?

Who are we being when we do this?

This helps the team ground themselves in positive team norms, which is what makes them successful. Because acknowledgement is the greatest shaper in leadership, ask them how they'd like to celebrate their accomplishments. Be sure to capture what's working on a regular basis and reward positive behaviour when you observe it.

Looking at Areas for Improvement

To avoid a “yes, but” approach that would cancel out the things the team does well, I recommend looking at areas for improvement during a separate session. In this follow-up session I recommend initiating a dialogue with the team and interpreting the findings together. 

Here are some helpful questions to get the dialogue started:

  1. Why do you think our scores are low in this area? How low would you rank them on a scale from 1 – 10?
  2. How can we raise our score realistically?
  3. What do you believe needs to change in order to get there?
  4. What are some action steps we need to take?
  5. What would be our first step?

If the team scored low in many areas, identify the top three and focus on taking action in one area to start. Allow your team to experience a fast win and confidence in their ability to turn things around.

I hope you find this exercise helpful, and I’d love to hear about the results you’ve achieved, either in the comments below, or via email. 

8 Characteristics of High Performance Teams

  1. Sense of Purpose: Team members have a common and shared vision, goals, objectives and values. There's a strong focus on results and solutions, a sense of priorities, and clarity about directions, decisions and how we act.
  2. Open Communication: Team members express their thoughts and feelings openly, and conflict is surfaced and resolved routinely. People listen attentively and engage in dialogue.
  3. Trust and Mutual Respect: Team members value and support others. They tell each other the truth and provide honest and caring feedback.
  4. Shared Leadership: Team members assume leadership roles depending on the task at hand and the needs of the group. The formal leader serves as coach and mentor to the team.
  5. Effective Working Procedures: The team knows how to gather, organize and evaluate information. They encourage creativity, innovation, risk-taking, and they plan appropriately.
  6. Building on Differences: The team optimizes the skills, knowledge and personal strengths of its members. Individuals seek out different points of view and make use of outsiders.
  7. Flexibility and Adaptability: People see changes as opportunities, they share responsibility, and they look for continuous improvement.
  8. Continuous Learning: Team members encourage difficult and penetrating questions, learn from their experiences and mistakes, and encourage growth and development of other team members.



No: How This Tiny Word can Change Your Life

I just finished reading James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher’s book The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness and wanted to share some of the nuggets I’ve extracted, starting with a list of things they recommend saying no to. In contrast, I’ve added the things that become available and we can say yes to once we’ve said no.

Say no to these things

Things that will hurt you.





People who drain your energy.


Anything that gets in the way of your creative force and keeps it from bringing you a life of abundance.


People's stories and beliefs that do not serve your own evolution.


Having to make rushed decisions when you are uncertain.


Having to wear a mask in order for others to like you   


Any fear-driven complexes and emotions (scarcity, inferiority, superiority etc).



Noise, bad news, pressures, responsibilities



Limiting beliefs, negative self-talk self-imposed rules that no longer serve you.


Anxieties about the future or the past.

Gain access to these instead

Honour what's in your own best interest. Don’t say yes to things you don’t want. You'll hate what you’re doing and resent the person who asked you. Be honest and authentic about your own desires.


Surround yourself with inspiring people who appreciate you and bring out the best in you.


You have a unique gift and deserve abundance, wealth and appreciation for your work.


Live the life you want and not the life others believe you should be living. 


Take your time, weigh the pros and cons, don't lose sight of your own desires and needs and stay true to your dreams. 


Honesty is a beacon and shines the path toward health, love and money. Be authentic, shine!


Notice any negative thoughts and emotions briefly and contrast them to how you do want to feel and focus on that instead. 


Sit in silence and be reflective and still. Take breaks and vacations. Spend time in your own council and know that you are enough.


Be the master of your own mind and direct your positive thoughts to the desires you have.


Say no to what isn’t happening right now. Stay in the present moment and do what you can now

If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.
— Dalai Lama XIV

Saying no can take courage, yet the reward is often far greater than the risk of saying yes to things we don’t want, even when fear would want us to believe the opposite. When we say no to one thing, we say yes to something else or make room for something better -- to something we really desire.

Being clear on what we don’t want is a helpful first step to looking at what we do want. Knowing what we do want helps us pursue our desires with greater persistence and confidence.

Author, and fellow coach colleague, Michael Losier, designed a helpful tool called the clarity through contrast list in his book The Law of Attraction. Here’s a short YouTube video where he explains how to use it.  

Next time you feel stuck and unsure of what you want, try starting with a list of what you don't want -- all the things you want to say no to -- and use that as a tool to discover your yeses! 

The Secret to Heart-Centred, Intentional Leadership

What 13 Years of Executive and Leadership Coaching Have Taught me About Setting Intentions and Achieving Satisfying Results

I used to think a leader who was intentional was simply someone with a clear vision of what they wanted (a concrete and measurable goal), and that if they took the appropriate action steps, and overcame any obstacles, they would likely achieve that goal.

It seemed like a solid success formula of thinking and doing. It’s also the model I was taught to use with my executive clients in university. When applied with rigour, this formula did work most of the time.

I learned quickly that my high functioning executive clients already knew how to do this without my help; after all, it's what led to their success in the first place. Most of the support they were seeking, however, came from the being and feeling side. They were seeking more alignment with their heart and their head.

I’ve come to learn that intention has more to do with being than with doing, and that most of us have this twisted.

When looking at the ROI of coaching, I had to ask myself:

  • Were my clients fulfilled once they reached their goals?
  • Did they feel successful and inspired?
  • Did they make a difference in their organizations in a meaningful way?
  • Were they excited and lit up about the work they did?
  • Did the people they lead feel that way?

The answers were sometimes yes, but other times, not so much.

I've learned that every person will define success differently. I have also learned that when we consult our heart as well as our head in the early stages of goal setting — when we ask ourselves how we want to feel — then we'll strive for higher qualitative outcomes as well as quantitative results. 

To be truly fulfilled, we need to take what's in our hearts (how we want to feel) into the creation equation as well.

Over the years, my coaching approach has evolved to include mind, body, and soul when it comes to helping my clients design new futures. I like to look into their hearts and align myself with what matters most to them. It’s important that they put their hearts at the centre of their focus too because that's where their lives have deeper meaning, where they care for their health and from where, when their cups are overflowing with all they need, they can offer limitless overflow to their work. It’s like the oxygen mask on airlines: secure your mask first so you can attend to others.

The strong leader takes care of the heart and body first, and then attends to the demands of the organization and the people they lead.

Leadership has everything to do with who we are being from a head, heart, and spirit place. Who we are being depends on how we feel. How we feel depends on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual awareness and wellbeing. The more aware we are of who we are on all these levels, the stronger we are, and the more authentic and courageous we can show up in our leadership roles to create positive impact. This awareness gives us the ability to have the influence necessary to achieve meaningful goals that lead to a lasting imprint on people, organizations, economies and society.

So what is the intention I bring to my clients as a leadership and executive coach?

My intention is to be unconditionally accepting and supportive of your individual leadership journey. This includes your level of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, as well as personal, spiritual, and professional growth. It also includes your upbringing, values, beliefs, education, and the life and work experiences that have brought you to the place you lead from today. This is our authentic starting point.

Who you are today is how you lead now. Who you will become depends on who you are willing to be next.

Like Gandhi so famously said, if there are changes you want to see, you must learn to be the change first, then the rest will follow. 

Leadership coaching is a commitment to lifelong learning, growth, and being the change you wish to see. 

I believe if you are willing to consult your heart and spirit on what matters to you most, both on a personal and professional level, you have a good chance at becoming the authentic leader you were destined to be. If you set out to first create a new future from a place of being, and then add your knowledge, expertise and experience, and a solid action plan for achieving results, you will also engage the hearts, talents and strengths of those you lead.

Where your journey takes you will depend on your organizational goals and aspirations, as well as your personal leadership development goals. You are in the driver’s seat at all times. I align myself with your goals and become your strategic thinking partner, champion, and cheerleader.

I will encourage, confirm, acknowledge and celebrate your progress. I will challenge your actions and beliefs if/when necessary to fulfill my role as your accountability partner. I will be generous in sharing my knowledge, expertise, observations and experience with you. I will be a teacher, mentor, and consultant and provide you with forthright and caring feedback. 

Working with me:

If fulfillment is part of your definition of success, and if leading with heart, purpose and vision and creating an inspired workforce with fully engaged employees sounds appealing to you, then I’m the right leadership coach for you.

Call me [1 (250) 658-9224] for a free 30 minute interview where we can discuss your goals and aspirations. During our session, you can ask me anything you’d like to know about coaching and working with me.

I look forward to connecting with you!


Are You Aware of Your Success Saboteurs? This Quiz Can Help.

As a coach, leader and student of the human spirit who is committed to life-long learning, I’m always in search of new professional development opportunities that will help me grow personally, professionally and spiritually so I can share this learning and become a better coach to my clients.

I consider my life to be my learning lab wherein I get to learn new ways of looking at and solving challenges with my clients and helping them reduce stress in their lives while increasing joy and wellbeing, as well as effectiveness and performance as leaders.

Rarely do I come across a topic that covers all three areas (personal, professional spiritual) at once, but in week two of the World Business and Executive Summit (WBECS), I felt like I hit the jackpot and struck gold when I tuned into the Positive Intelligence (PQ) webinar led by Shirzad Chamine.

His message is about the internal voices in our heads that either steer us in the right direction or down the wrong path kind of like a devil and angel sitting on each shoulder whispering in our ears.

Shirzad's message isn't new, yet it has an interesting twist and is highly relatable. It’s applicable to everyone and makes the practice of improving emotional intelligence (EQ)  an advanced leadership skill we must all develop if we want to excel in higher leadership roles — super easy.

Instead of having to wade and sift through about 2,000 emotional intelligence competencies to find out which ones we need to work on specifically, Shirzad studied the science of positive intelligence (PQ). He developed two assessment tools to help us recognize the 10 saboteurs that come to haunt us and screw us over in every unconscious moment we think and interact with others. We only have to become conscious and aware of 10 stumbling blocks versus developing 2,000 competencies in order to become more emotionally aware and intelligent.

This may just be the fast track to emotional competency.

In his book Positive Intelligence, Shirzad explains the origins of the saboteurs, which once upon a time, usually during our early childhood, served us in their role to keep us safe. We invented them for that purpose in our minds. The problem with the saboteurs is that we outgrow them eventually and that their usefulness turns into the internal voice that becomes our enemy and wreaks havoc in our lives.

As adults, we need to learn to be guided by our more mature inner sage, which always knows what’s best for us. The saboteur voice left undetected or unconfronted has a way of undermining our influence on others, ruining our relationships, and keeping us small and preventing us from excelling in different parts of our lives.

Knowing our real enemies (the saboteurs), makes it easier to understand our internal dialogues and discern which voice to trust and follow.

Shirzad has developed two free online assessments, the Sabateur Assessment and the PQ Assessment. Both are free, fast and easy to complete and return some very in depth reports.

Have you taken the Sabateur or PQ assessment? Were you surprised at the results? I'd love to hear from you in your comments, or via Twitter (@neumanncoaching). 

Want to Learn How to Meditate? Here are 5 Great Resources

Are you ready to learn how to meditate? Here are five resources and tools to explore the wonderful world of meditation.

  1. Jenai Lane is a fabulous spiritual coach and mentor to me. I highly recommend her book, Spirit Led Instead.
  2. The Best Guide to Meditation Book by Victor N. Davich. This is a book Jenai recommended when I asked her for first-time exposure to mediation.
  3. Expanding Your Happiness, Free 21-day Meditation Experience with Deepak and Oprah. This three-week program starts August 11, 2014. Oprah and Deepak offer regular 21-day Meditation Challenges for free and have a number of fee products as well. I have participated in several of their online meditations and have enjoyed the peaceful sense of connection with myself and with so many others during the process.
  4. Self-Realization Fellowship, Self-Study Series by Paramahansa Yogananda. As a student of Self-Realization, one receives a number of lessons that are received every two weeks over a period of 3.5 years. This was my entry into spiritual growth back in the early 90s. 
  5. ZenHabit's Tips for Meditation Beginners: 20 Practical Tips for Quieting the Mind.

Have any more tips for people new to meditation? I'd love to learn about them, and encourage you to share them in the comments below, or via Twitter (@neumanncoaching).