Money Cannot Buy Empathy

Did you ever feel that the rich in this country lack basic empathy? This possibility sounds remote, but new research reveals that such discrepancies in empathy can be quantified and demonstrated to be true. A recent New York Times article called “The Rich Lack Empathy, Study Says” reports the findings of researchers this past October. According to one of the researchers in charge of the study, Dr. Keltner, the economically disadvantaged lack the means to hire people to help them, so in order to seek aid and support, they develop effective empathy skills. The wealthy, who have the benefit of being able to hire people to support them, do not develop these skills to the same degree. As a result, those from wealthy backgrounds often miss emotional cues and non-verbal hints.

Here are some ways that difficulties with empathy can show up in individuals:

  • Lack of identification with others.
  • Limited imagination for how other people could go about accomplishing a task.
  • Inability to tell what someone might be thinking.
  • Missed social cues and hints.

The drawbacks of having a poorly developed sense of empathy include being seen by peers, family, or employees as cold or insensitive. Stepping up your empathy skill set can alleviate these problems. A person with an empathy deficit should bank on using a visualization exercise in which one imagines they are in the others’ shoes.

So putting care and understanding into all one’s relationships, may trigger a lot more positive energy (and even greater employee engagement).

What do you think?

JS

Resolutions and What Others Think

It’s a month since New Year’s! So how are you coming with your New Year’s Resolutions? Actually, a lot of people have trouble implementing their resolutions over time. Changing behaviors is very challenging for most of us.

One way of optimizing your chances of resolution success is by letting others in on your goal or goals. Somehow this “telling” establishes accountability to others which increases the likelihood that’s you’ll follow through with them. Sharing resolutions also amplifies the potential price of failure if you don’t succeed. It’s one thing to be disappointed in yourself, it’s something else to disappoint someone else. Telling friends and family may sometimes be more annoying than helpful. A recent article in the New York Times lists a number of online applications that incorporate feedback from other users to increase probability that you’ll accomplish your goals.

Using an online resource to track and share your resolutions and goals has a number of benefits compared to the old fashioned way of sharing your resolutions. For one, there’s the both real and perceived anonymity involved. Most resources listed in the NYT article allow users to preserve their anonymity but share their resolutions with a community that will congratulate and praise them as they accomplish their goals. Even if you were to use your real name ito optimize your resolution success, there is a potent sense of safety and boundary from an online community that could make sharing personal goals easier. The online sites also make your goals and achievements easier to track.

It’s not too late to get into the resolution spirit. Here are some ways to track your process and make it more likely that you’ll follow through with your resolutions, at least your biggest one:

  1. Join a goal-listing and tracking website to make a list of all the things you’re trying to accomplish in one place. There are numerous options, my favorite is 43Things.com. Many have tools for you to share your goals with others and receive and provide feedback and encouragement.
  2. Get more targeted by utilizing a site aimed at your specific resolutions. Trying to quit smoking? Try DeterminedToQuit.com. Getting into shape? Try ShapeFit.com.
  3. If you have a little extra money, put it at stake by joining StickK.com. StickK allows you to motivate yourself by entering your credit card information and setting a wager that you’ll accomplish the goal. Fail, and you get charged and the money is sent to a charity of your choice. Succeed, and you won’t get charged.
  4. Record a video diary with your resolutions and progress and post it to a video site like YouTube.com. This is the option with the least anonymity and the highest social stakes, but some choose this mass disclosure for motivation.

Implementing what you want is always a challenge. Whether you share a resolutions with a friend or use the new, creative resources afforded by the internet, it is a use challenge to persist in seizing change over time.

What are you doing to ensure at least one big resolution is accomplished?

JS

(Feel free to respond with your thoughts below or send to friends with the share buttons)

Stand Out in a Job Interview

A recent article in the New York Times called “I Asserted Myself and Got the Job” by Marat Gasiev and Patricia R. Olsen demonstrates one of the most important truths about job hunting: you need to stand out from your peers, and the best way to do this is by bringing specific insights and innovations to the interview. Ask yourself: if you were filling positions at a company, who would you be more impressed by: a candidate that answers questions simply and generally, or someone that can demonstrate experience and forethought about your industry?

HR representatives are always on the lookout for people that can bring new innovations to their field. That’s the major draw of hiring outsiders. Before you even apply to a specific job, research the company’s background and brainstorm what new ideas you can bring. As Gasiev reports doing, tailor your résumé and cover letter to each application, rather than relying on a boilerplate to suffice. The more specific, the better.

I have found that applicants who report unique ways of handling a specific job are much more interesting than someone who speaks in vague generalities. Once you have the opportunity to separate yourself from other applicants, demonstrate your familiarity and research by bringing up the innovations you would make. Be careful: you don’t want to sound arrogant, but the more specific and realistic your suggestions, the more you will stand out.

Key approaches to the job search:
1. Research the company behind every job posting before applying.
2. Customize your résumé and cover letter to fit every application you send out.
3. Brainstorm a short list of innovations relevant to your area of expertise that you could suggest the company institute at interviews.
4. At your interview, make a few key suggestions based on your research without seeming smug or arrogant.
5. As you work your way up the interview chain, demonstrate your foreknowledge early so that your interviewees recognize your familiarity with the industry.

Don’t strive for the middle of the pack. Sometimes hundreds of job-seekers apply for one opening; you need to distinguish yourself. The best way to do this is by demonstrating your competency, humility, and creativity.

Do you have any other suggestions? Please send your thoughts.

JS

Get It Going

Today I feel like talking about MOMENTUM.

In the blog series introduction I described momentum as:

MOMENTUM: What allows us to get unstuck? How can you become a person who sees what’s next and JUMPS into the opportunity with full force? We will discuss the Full Life Achilles® Plan which gives you a method to advance your goals in an organized, energized, and incremental fashion.

It is a pleasure for me to see a new coaching client who comes in determined to start planning and implementing the next phase of their career or life.

I think people turn to coaching when they have had it with feeling “stuck” in some aspect of career or life. “Hitting bottom” is when they are finally determined to move forward in their life. Bottom, however, is different for each person. One person’s bottom is not enough for another person to engage. Another common situation I see is when a client knows exactly what they want to do and they can’t seem to implement their next step goals (which I call their Achilles Plan). So we try to figure out what is blocking their pursuit of their vision. Together, we investigate what is holding them back. Is it fear of the unfamiliar or the new? Or just unexplainable inertia…? Sometimes they find it difficult to implement their vision of the career they deeply want; dating with the intention of a great relationship; or making a relationship a vibrant one instead of a mediocre one. One of my clients told me to add that sometimes there is resistance because one is not sure getting their goal is really going to make a big difference anyway. Pessimism she says needs to be managed as well, if it is a bad habit.

Once we make a hypothesis regarding why a client is blocked from reaching his or her next step, we use the Achilles plan to invigorate their goal implementation by:

1. Changing some environmental factor which gets them to go for new goals. For example, sometimes a 3-day vacation can inspire someone to move forward;

2. We break all goals down to smaller doable goals;

3. We simply wait for the client to go for the next step and encourage him or her to reach out for the goal they seek.

When I need more momentum in some area of work or life, I think about what is holding me back, and then make a plan to stimulate my pressing onward. It could be talking to a friend, a mentor, taking a course, reading a book, going for a bike ride, watching a great movie, working out, or putting something in place that encourages me to move forward. For example, an accountability step, like telling someone I know what I seek to do and asking them to follow-up with me and see if I did it. Another client mentioned that they find brief goal list left on the breakfast table and in the car are really helpful ways of staying focused on what you want.

OK…so take action right now in charging up your momentum with one of the tips discussed here.

How about you? In what ways do you create or maintain momentum that you can share below with others?

JS

You Can’t Prevent Disappointment

Nobody likes being disappointed. It sucks. Whether at work or in life.

During the past few days, Tony Robbins, the virtual god of coaching, was suddenly dropped by NBC, canceling his new television show after only 2 episodes. The news was unexpected for a man who takes pride in his effectiveness in helping others be successful. Suddenly, many American people were not interested in viewing the show. Yet he models resilience by still taking pride in the show: “I am grateful for the reach and experience that the specials created.”NYTimes

If you bravely open your eyes, disappointment strikes multiple times every day. It can be when you are let down by a colleague, a customer, a vendor, or yourself. It can be a sale that doesn’t close; a business plan that does not pan; a talk you give that fails to inspire.

I get disappointed all the time as an entrepreneur. For example, when my book was published this past year, with the launch parties and press, I thought that EVERYONE would get interested in coaching. Instead I found that the smaller but steady flow of clients still allowed Full Life to thrive. Also, when I opened the center 8 years ago, I thought thousands would come for coaching. Many did, but it is common for a business person to think huge things may happen right away. My experience is that usually incremental steps do occur. I never like disappointments, but I have learned to see and feel them, and then go on with a great attitude.

Many clients wonder how to develop a thicker skin. You might consider the following steps of how to modify your thinking in order to build resilience:

1. Expect disappointments and failures so you are not surprised when they occur;

2. Pursue life balance so your confidence is not based only at work;

3. Live for your passion and do the things at work you love;

4. Let the warrior in you come out so no one can bring you down; and

5. Persist, persist, persist.

So remember to take pride in all you do and weather the disappointments with courage and conviction. Don’t try to control everything. Keep going and dare to be disappointed and sometimes fail multiple times, tomorrow, and every day.

Let me know your thoughts about disappointment and share this with friends and colleagues who would be interested in this dialogue.

JS

Announcing the beginning of a fresh new version of Full Life’s Amplifier™ Blog!

From now on, you will see frequent interactive blogs focusing on 6 Key Themes:

1) Business
2) Balance
3) Momentum
4) Possibility
5) Habits
6) Love

The new edition of the Amplifier Blog will broadcast ideas about our lives, our careers, and the world around us. Together, we will reflect on how we can bring our own unique vision to life and then actually implement and achieve our goals.

We will “amplify” ideas so you can optimize your approach to living and then experience the joy of a fulfilled life. This is so you can gain a crystal clear picture of what you WANT which will then in turn “drive” your life design.

The 6 Full Life Blog Themes:

BUSINESS: We will focus on what success means to YOU and how you can further enhance your career or business performance. In this competitive time of economic challenges and downsizing, as an executive, entrepreneur, or student, you will learn tips to avoid burnout, become more resilient, and achieve HIGH-ENERGY goals. You will also get practical tips and strategies for igniting and planning the “next phase” of your business or career.

BALANCE: Living a full life is about balance, which means that you have to pay attention to all or most of the key areas of your life. Using Full Life’s Spheres of Life® Coaching, we apply a matrix of 11 key spheres and make sure you are making desired progress in each area, without letting one area become dominant at the expense of others.

MOMENTUM: What allows us to get unstuck? How can you become a person who sees what’s next and JUMPS into the opportunity with full force? We will discuss the Full Life Achilles® Plan which gives you a method to advance your goals in an organized, energized, and incremental fashion.

POSSIBILITY: You will examine your vision of what lies ahead so you can build your ideal future. Also, how can communities and nations harness innovation in relationships and in technology to build a safer and healthier world?

HABITS: How addictions and bad habits, such as excessive use of alcohol or drugs, procrastinating, hoarding, spending, disorganization, and anything that takes away our time and functioning – actually inhibits progress in one’s life and career. We will not only look at how to overcome bad habits, but we will also explore how we can create positive habits that support us and the people in our lives.

LOVE: Whether single, dating, or in a relationship, we will examine love and how intimacy can be heightened in our lives. What are ways we can magnify our satisfaction in whatever state of love we find ourselves?

***

With the new Amplifier Blog experience, we hope that you will bring your perspectives into the conversation.

Your responses will be a crucial part of helping yourself and others learn and be more satisfied with life! Enjoy and as always we appreciate your interest and contributions.

JS

HBO In Treatment This Week: April

Session 7:

April lets Paul know it is her last session. Before letting him know she believes he saved her life, she loses her temper at one point and calls him an a******. He takes it with his head down and she asks him why he allows her to mistreat him. She wonders how can he teach her about the real world if he takes her abuse. She is right to point out his unnecessary masochism; he could be setting limits on her abusive behavior, but then he would be a coach.

What he does demonstrate as well- a quality of the best therapists and coaches- is a tremendous caring and empathy toward April. It is almost a love that creates a healing cocoon for April to help her move through chemo and hopefully back to wellness. Paul does have a coach inside him, but he comes from the school of the “talking cure” of therapy. April corrects him and carries out the “walking cure”; she is actually leaving therapy. It appears that Paul’s wounded self made her feel safe, but also got her to take responsibility for healing and getting on with life.

JS

Launching the FYT Book

Fire Your Therapist (FYT) will be launching in bookstores July 6! It is difficult to believe after so many years of it being a work in progress. It is available for pre-sale on amazon.com at the present time. The publisher says that anyone buying the book now helps out a lot because larger numbers of books will be ordered if they see people are buying it now. I deeply appreciate anyone doing this.

Some good news came in this week: FYT will be available as a book on CD and in downloadable form. The only challenge here is I now have to spend four or five full days reading the book in a studio. I did the first day today…

Lastly, the Chicago launch party for FYT will be on a summer’s night in July. More on this later…

JS

George Valliant and Beautiful Diversity

Online or on news stands you can now read “What Makes Us Happy?” by Joshua Shenk in The Atlantic . Today, both David Brooks in the New York Times and Shenk of The Atlantic talk about this amazing longitudinal study of 268 Harvard men begun in 1937, that I and many others have been aware of for many years. George Valliant is still at work on this vital project. The study is a great example of the futility of theory as applied to all people. The miracle of this study as far as I am concerned is that there is no easy predictor of happiness. Individual male participants have years of happiness and years of great depression. Intimacy is claimed to be vital and yet the same men divorce repeatedly. Some men die while drunk and others die surrounded by loved ones after suffering from mental illness for years. Valliant’s own father committed suicide. As far as I am concerned all this fantastic research returns to the core competencies of great men as unique, humble and disciplined. I am reminded that I see coaching as a tool for each of us to strive toward humility and competence, while managing our individual demons, and celebrating our gifts and accomplishments.

Definitely read this study that spans over 70 years! What does it make you think about in your life?

JS

Launching Fire Your Therapist (FYT)

Just received the final edits for the book. It came by email today, out of the blue. We were not even supposed to get any more versions to edit but I am pleased because it gives one more chance to make sure it’s ready. I will do one more read-through over the weekend.

We are trying to secure a venue for the book launch party in Chicago on July 9, a Thursday night. The day it is to go on sale in bookstores is July 6. I will let you know the details of the launch party when they are decided. The good news is that FYT is up on amazon. com (under Siegler, or Fire Your Therapist). You can order it now if you like. The word is that Amazon orders more books if people start to pre-order. I appreciate all the help you can give.

It’s cool to see the book listed on amazon.com. I am starting to believe this is happening.

JS

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