5 Steps to Map Your Success Path

As we enter into a new year, we thought we’d share with you our thinking on how you can set yourself up for a successful 2020 by using our framework entitled Mapping Your Success Path.

We originally developed this when a number of leaders asked us if we could help them craft a plan for their personal lives, the way we’d helped their organizations with strategic planning.

Think about what a successful year would look like for you. Whether it’s focusing on stable finances, creating deeper relationships, finding confidence to lead at a new level in your organization, or finding a better balance between your career and your family…or perhaps a combination of these.

How different would your world be if,
by the end of the year, you’d been able to
move forward toward your vision of success?

The framework we developed asks you to first think big about the whole of your life before diving into the specific goals.

Here’s how we think about it:

  • Life Priorities – what truly matters to you in this life?
  • Meaning & Purpose – what are you passionate about that brings you meaning and purpose?
  • Goals – what’s your vision of success and what are the 1-3 goals that will move you forward?
  • Obstacles – what gets in your way?
  • Small Steps – what are the small steps you can take each day to get around the obstacles so that you can gain traction on your goals?

To ensure your success, we recommend creating a support system for yourself. Think about who might be your accountability partner. Whether it’s a friend, colleague, coach, or a support group, having accountability with others can help you to continue moving forward.

In addition, be sure to track your progress. Studies show that if you track your progress and plan little celebrations along the way, you’ll be more likely to continue moving forward toward your vision of success.

We’ve included an infographic that you can print out and use to help you think about where you land on your success path, and then the next steps to take toward success.

You can download the pdf here.

Stay tuned for next week’s post by our very own Heather Stewart! She will explain how she successfully used this framework to help her stay on track and accomplish her big focus in 2019.

To the New Year!

If you’d like support in putting this framework
into action in your life, contact Heather
about coaching services.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Your World is Rocking

As coaches and consultants, we’re often invited into people’s lives and their organizations when their worlds are rocking. There are many things that cause worlds to rock in both good and difficult ways. World rocking events can include:

  • working for someone who isn’t effective as a leader
  • being passed over for a promotion that you’d wanted for months or years
  • getting a huge contract, beyond anything your organization has ever had before
  • the death of a loved one
  • a new baby
  • the resignation of a key employee

What each of these have in common is that they rock your world because there is so much new that needs to be integrated into your ongoing life.

In November, I (Linda) lost my older, and only, brother, Joe. As I was dealing with my world rocking, I found myself sad and angry and ready to be done with all these feelings. Then I got back to daily life only to be shocked again as I realized that my brother was really dead. Then sad again and missing him. Then back in my routine again and then spotting a picture of the two of us as children and crumbling into tears. My world has been rocked.

Integrating large amounts of new information or new truths is challenging both because of the extent of the new and because it isn’t a one and done. New truths are integrated in small amounts over time.

For those of us who are capable and results oriented, this process of integration can be challenging—we want to do it and move on—and yet it’s the way our brains and psyche’s work.

Here is my simple framework for understanding this process and helping clients do the same:

We’re all tapestries of our experiences, with threads of many colors representing the people in our lives, experiences we’ve had, skills we’ve learned, pain we are dealing with, etc.

All of our threads of experiences
are woven together in ways that we’re used to
and that hold us together.

When something significant happens, like Joe’s death, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of threads that need to come out of the tapestry, and a big bundle of new threads that need to be woven in.

If, at the point of Joe’s death, all of the threads in my tapestry that were experiences of Joe alive were to come out at once, my tapestry would fall apart.

Our brains and psyche’s do this amazing thing to allow us to let go of some of the threads, without falling apart, and let us weave in the new threads without jamming them in willy nilly (yes, I really said that!).

So within hours, there are threads being pulled out; Joe is alive, what should I get Joe for Christmas, it will be great to see Joe in the spring, Joe would love this book, etc.

At the same time, new threads are filling in; Joe is dead, my big brother isn’t here anymore, everyone in my family (my parents and brother) are gone, etc.

Then I got busy, supporting his family, telling my children, looking for photos, rereading his emails and getting back to work. As I got busier, life felt pretty much normal, and then I got a text from my sister-in-law and I felt shocked—it was almost like hearing my brother had died for the first time.

More threads came out and new threads got woven in.

This process happens over and over again when we’re integrating new information into the tapestry of who we are. While grieving is one of the most striking times this happens, it happens in all those situations where we are integrating new truths.

New parents have to do this as they lose the threads that say, “I can go away for the weekend without thought,” and weave in, “I have a wonderful new baby and need to be home with her.”

It takes time to reweave threads—
and that’s healthy.

Businesses that get huge new contracts go through similar processes. If all the threads that say, “We’re a small business always in pursuit of work to keep our heads above water” were to be taken out at once, the business tapestry would unravel.

Learning to become a big business
means changing the look
and feel of your tapestry.

This week, use the tapestry model to think about times when your world has been rocked, and see if you find it as useful as I do.

Normalizing how challenging a rocking world can be will help you to be patient as the threads come out and new ones are added. But, in time, your tapestry will look different as the new truth of your life is woven in.

We’re here for you!

If you’d like support in moving forward
through a rocking change in your world,
contact us today about coaching.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


We are two days from a new year, auspiciously referred to as 2020.

In the USA, we refer to “2020 vision” as the clearest form of vision, and our goal is to support you in gaining clarity about:

  • your life priorities in 2020
  • what brings you a sense of meaning and purpose
  • your specific goals for starting to move you closer to life and work that is meaningful and satisfying
  • the obstacles that keep you from succeeding on your goals
  • the small steps you will take to move toward success

Before you turn toward 2020, we’d like you to spend some time reflecting on 2019 by writing a letter to yourself. If you have trouble getting started, try answering these five questions:

  1. What were your greatest accomplishments this year? These don’t have to be big, but they are the ways in which you contributed to your work and your world.
  2. What are your proudest moments this past year?
  3. What were your greatest challenges this past year?
  4. What did you learn from living with or through those challenges?
  5. What would you like to continue or carry forward into the new year?

It can be helpful to look back through your day planner, your family calendar, your checkbook, your social media posts, etc., to help you reflect on this past year.

Then, spend just a few moments on this simple yet powerful reflection:

Did I live 2019 like I mattered?

We want to support you making conscious decisions throughout 2020 so that you are happy with how you live it!

We’re listening!

If you’d like support in setting yourself up
for a successful 2020, contact us today about our
Mapping Your Success Path coaching services.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

8 Years of Posts & Miles to Go!

We’re excited to be
heading into our 9th year of
the Monday Morning Business Coach!

When we started this process, we wondered if we’d have anything to say, week after week and month after month. But, with the questions, comments, and challenges offered to us through this incredible community and our amazing clients, we are still at it! And, we’re grateful for that.

Our primary services at Carpenter Smith Consulting are listed as Business Consulting, Executive Coaching, and Career Strategy; but our ultimate goal is to support people like you to embrace your leadership strengths and empower you to keep moving forward toward the successes that matter most to you in your life.

Whether it’s a promotion at work, finding a better work/life balance, creating more collaboration with your team at work or at home, or even discovering your “why,” we’re here to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as your allies on the journey.

Over the past 8 years, we’ve shared some of our best coaching content with you, our readers. Now, we’d like to know if there is a topic that we haven’t provided coaching on that you’d like to see in a post.

This week, we’d like you
to share with us something that’s
challenging you at work or at home.

Share one question or comment that, if you had support with the answer, would help you to move forward in your life and into the new year.

Thanks in advance for being here with us through this journey and onward into 2020!

We’re listening!

If you find that you’re unable
to move forward toward your vision,
contact us today about our coaching services.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3-5 Rules: for Your Team

Today is the second in a 2-part series called 3-5 Rules. Last week, we discussed developing 3-5 Rules for Your Kids. Today we’re taking a look at how creating 3-5 rules for your team can actually help to empower them.

As we said in last week’s post, we’ve found that people are most successful when they have 3-5 key expectations or “rules” that can guide their behavior, their choices, and their thinking as they face the myriad of decisions they have to make in any day or week.

The key to developing powerful rules for your team is to keep them broad enough to allow for independent thinking but bounded enough to provide a structure within where the people using them can achieve success.

The goal is to identify those things that are critical
to success that can be kept “front and center”
as your teams are doing their work.

Think about your own experience of rules. We’ve all had bosses who seemed to have a ton of rules—sometimes rules that were contradictory or changed mid-project—which left you confused and unable to be truly successful.

If you create expectations that are time bound and specific, you’ll need to revisit them over and over again. But, by answering a few simple questions, you can develop 3-5 rules that are timeless and emphasize higher-level behaviors.

  1. Answer the following questions to get clear about the 3-5 rules that will set the standard for how your team can demonstrate success:

      • What really matters to you as a leader and to the company?
      • What does success look like to your clients/customers?
      • What does success look like for the team members?
      • What will your department look like if you’re highly successful with …….?
      • What could sink your efforts?

Here are some examples of rules that our clients have come up with.

My team needs to:

      • Be clear about the rationale for decisions.
      • Come to me with the problem defined and an initial idea for solving it.
      • Own success, and when it’s not happening, demonstrate a sense of urgency and clarity about getting it right.
      • Bring me in if there’s a risk to the department or the organization.
      • Care as much about relationships within the organization as they do about results, and aim for excellence in both.
    2. Sit down with your team and let them know the 3-5 rules that will guide your assessment of how things are going. Make sure to explain to them your rationale behind the rules and invite questions and conversation.

      Remember, we define leadership as a willingness to influence your world and be influenced by your world.

      This process can help your team feel like they have the ability to influence you and to learn how they can be influenced by you. People are more likely to get behind things that they’ve helped create!

      Tell them that they can count on you to let them navigate independently within the boundaries of these rules.

    3. Document what you’ve said in a summary to your team, and use the rules over and over and over again to drive home the importance of working within the 3-5 rules.

    What you see in some of these examples is that they can support an organization over time. They don’t need to be rewritten with each reorg or new initiative, and they guide leaders and staff to work in ways that matter to you—as their leader—and to the organization as a whole.

    Knowing what truly matters to you as a manager will increase your effectiveness. Sharing your 3-5 rules with others empowers them. They’ll know what you’ll hold them accountable to and then they can ask that you give them room to navigate within the boundaries of those 3-5 rules.

    This week, try to notice what really matters to you—what you actually look for to measure success, and what you need from others to feel confidence in them. Your clarity will help you and others to shine.

    We’re here for you!

    If you’d like support in creating 3-5 rules
    for your team, contact us today
    about Executive Coaching.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3-5 Rules: for Your Kids

We’re often in the role of providing guidance to those who provide direction to others: executives, managers, community leaders, parents, and coaches. We regularly find that they have many varied expectations and “rules” for performance.

We also find that the people they’re directing/parenting/coaching are guessing about whether they know the rules of the day.

In over twenty years of coaching and consulting, we’ve found that people are most successful when they have 3–5 key expectations or “rules” that can guide their behavior, their choices, and their thinking as they face the myriad of decisions they have to make in any day or week.

This week, we’re going to talk about how you can use this concept of 3–5 rules with your kids. The following week we’ll explore how to use this concept with your work team.

First, here’s a bit of background: Linda started using this concept years ago when she was in graduate school. She was influenced by the work of a family therapist, Cloé Madanes, who wrote an article on parenting that Linda found life changing.

The article explored the fact that children deal with many rules from their parents and that those rules often change, making it extremely difficult for kids to know what’s really important.

It is confusing, and sometimes frustrating, for kids to take on new and growing ownership of their lives—add to this unclear rules and they can get overwhelmed.

Think about it—at 3 a child is figuring out whether it’s ok to eat sweets all the time, and at 7 they’re figuring out if they can stay up late, and at 13 they’re figuring out how they want to dress and present themselves to the world.

Every day for a kid is a growth point,
and the more they know
what to expect from their parents,
the more successfully they can find their way.

Madanes suggested that parents need to land on 3–5 rules so that kids know what is expected of them, parents know what to look for to determine success, and kids learn to negotiate with their parents within their rules.

So, when Linda became a parent, she came up with 3 rules for her children: you can’t hurt yourself, you can’t hurt others, and you can’t hurt property.

The “you can’t hurt yourself” rule of Linda’s meant something quite different when her kids were little compared to when they had their driver’s licenses. Yet, the rule itself was the same.

This clarity empowered her kids, and as they got older they learned to negotiate with her for permission to do an activity on the basis that their choice “didn’t hurt them, others, or property.”

Some families have rules about participating in family events, expectations about grades, or any of range of other priorities; but the goal with these rules is to limit them to 3–5 and have them last throughout childhood and young adulthood.

In addition to coming up with 3-5 rules, it’s helpful to communicate them to your kids openly, clearly, and often.

  1. First, identify your 3-5 rules and be clear with yourself on what they will and won’t look like so that you can give a good description to your kids.
  2. If your kids are little, you’ll make the decisions. If they’re older, sit down with them and let them know what the rules are and WHY you’re naming them. You may also ask them if they would add anything. If you know us, you know that we define leadership as a willingness to influence your world and be influenced by your world.
    This process can teach your kids to influence you and to see how they are influenced by you. Kids (like adults) are more likely to get behind what they’ve helped create!
  3. Give feedback often! Whether they’ve followed the rules and you’re giving them kudos (this is an important one—don’t just give them feedback when they’ve done something wrong), or when they’ve broken the rules and you need to review them again. It’s important to continue regular discussions about your rules.

Sharing your 3-5 rules with your kids will empower them. They will know what you value and what you’ll hold them accountable to. They can then ask that you give them room to navigate within the boundaries of those 3-5 rules.

If you’re a parent, this week think about the 3–5 rules you value so that your kids know what’s expected of them, you know what to look for to determine success, and your kids learn to negotiate with you within those rules.

Let us know what you come up with!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Power of Gratitude

We’ve been hosting a daily Gratitude Challenge in our private Facebook group for women this month. The effects of this challenge have been uplifting for so many participants (including us!).

These effects are ones that we’ve known for a while—that the simple act of gratitude has the power to help people improve their health, deal with tough situations, and build stronger relationships (among many other things!). In addition, the research is also telling us that the most powerful gratitudes are those that are shared.

Sharing your gratitude for others
can be a game changer.

Whether you write someone a letter, call them, see them in person, or even just text them, expressing your gratitude is a way to bring greater joy, delight, and peace into your life; while also deepening your relationships.

This Thanksgiving, take a moment to consider those in your life whom you’re grateful for, and share that with them.

We are grateful for you!

~ Linda, Stephanie, and Heather

P.S. If you’d like to know more about our private Facebook group for women, contact us today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interdependence at Work

While working with an organization recently, we discovered that the departments responsible for driving the business were told not to work collaboratively with the other departments.

The leader of the organization, who we’ll call Anton, believed that there should be competition between departments so his managers would be “scrappy” and work hard for results.

When we met with Anton, we asked him about his expectations of the management team. He said he expected them to meet their goals – regardless of departmental interactions.

As we discussed his ideas, it became clear that he had not thought through the consequences of the “everyone for themselves” culture he had created over the years. And, he didn’t understand why this culture wasn’t bringing more success to the company.

In all business, there is a certain amount of
collaboration necessary between departments
in order to foster organizational results.

Sales can’t succeed if production isn’t making product, finance can’t succeed if sales isn’t shipping orders, etc. Instead of fighting with others to make those things happen, people need to work collaboratively, and with an awareness of others in the organization in order to elevate one another’s success and to create the results they all want – together.

Each department should be striving to hit their goals, but not at the expense of the other departments.

When we shared this with Anton, he was wary at first; but when he met with his HR leader, he was surprised to hear that the main reason managers communicated for leaving the company was that they didn’t feel supported to succeed.

It’s erosive to be on a team
where teamwork isn’t valued!

This week, think about how your role is interdependent with the work of your colleagues and see if you can find ways to support one another in reaching your goals and their goals.

Sometimes goals between departments may be at odds, so we’d recommend looking at the challenges from a higher level and reviewing the bigger company goals to ensure that there is the right amount of tension and collaboration to create success – as a whole.

We’re rooting for you!

If you want help assessing the strength
of your managers and building strong
management teams, we can help.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Tendency Equal Destiny?

As executive coaches, we often use the DiSC™ assessment to help people better understand their interpersonal tendencies. By looking at key behaviors, the assessment is a powerful tool in understanding both self and others.

Although it’s been around a while, the DiSC has recently been revalidated, so it’s more relevant and effective in helping individuals and teams to collaborate effectively to create success.

Recently, while working with a team that completed the assessment, we were met with the question that’s behind today’s post. The leader of the team read her DiSC results and became concerned that perhaps she didn’t have the skills necessary to effectively lead her team. She said,

“I’m never going to succeed
based on these results; should I step aside?”

The leader’s assessment summary indicated that she had a higher tendency toward keeping the peace and being collaborative than driving people for results. She believed that to be a good leader she probably needed to be at the more “dominant” end of the scale.

We reviewed her unique combination of tendencies and talked about the different ways of successful leading. The best leaders pull from a toolbox of skills that they use to handle the varied issues coming their way, including utilizing others on the team who have skills and strengths in areas where she doesn’t.

Having a tendency is not a destiny.

Yes, her tendency was to be collaborative and find agreement, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t capable of driving for results, setting expectations, and holding others accountable. In fact, she’d been quite successful in doing so throughout her career.

The difference is that since she knew her first tendency might be to go toward a more collaborative stance, she could then look for additional data to form a fitting response to the situation.

Using her and her team’s DiSC assessment results helped her use her tendencies more effectively and made her more aware of times she needed to pause to ensure that what she was about to do or say was in alignment with her goals. As a result of this process, she had some new tools she could use to approach issues with her staff and to engage them more fully with those issues.

We believe deeply in a growth mindset (see our last 4 posts), and we are passionate about supporting individuals and teams in honoring who they are and exploring where they and their team want to grow.

Having an awareness of your tendencies (and the tendencies of those you work with) is an effective way to lead through challenges, create stronger teams, and build accountability into interactions.

We believe in you!

If you’re interested in getting a
DiSC assessment for yourself or your team,
contact us today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bringing a Growth Mindset into Your Organization

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about a growth mindset, starting with the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.

As a reminder, here’s the difference:

  • Growth Mindset: believing that with time and experience we can all learn, grow, and become smarter
  • Fixed Mindset: believing that we are who we are

The exciting and sometimes difficult shift to living a growth mindset involves working toward seeing challenges as opportunities to learn rather than as threats.

People who see challenges as learning opportunities are more resilient, agile, and innovative – qualities that are important to us personally and to our organizations.

There are three steps
to getting started on weaving a growth mindset
into an organizational culture:

  1. Define the ways you can name and claim a growth mindset day-to-day in your work, teams, and organization. While there are a number of ways to talk about this mindset, the most successful organizations talk about it regularly and in a consistent language:
    • Some organizations talk about becoming a learning organization or creating continuous improvement.
    • We teach leaders about creating a culture of leadership and engagement where every single member of the organization owns their leadership, regardless of their role or title.
    • In business, people may be respected for holding a growth mindset, but they also need to be able to take action from a growth mindset in a way that furthers the mission and vision.
  1. Define the core behaviors that you’d expect to see if people are living a growth mindset. While behaviors are specific to an organization there are some that all organizations committed to a growth mindset share:
    • There is an expectation that all members of the organization seek feedback and gratefully accept it – from the CEO, to the middle managers, and to the line staff.
    • There is recognition and respect for exploration and reasonable risk/failures are celebrated when done in an effort to learn.
    • “Yet” has become a part of the approach to solving problems, as in, “We aren’t there yet, but we’re getting closer.”
    • People evaluate their successes and challenges and explore ways to become more effective rather than only discussing these things at an annual review.
  1. Track quantitative and qualitative indicators of increases in growth mindset. Provide recognition when people are showing a growth mindset and provide coaching support when they’re falling into a fixed mindset. Here are some examples of what organizations are doing:
    • Use employee satisfaction and/or engagement surveys to assess growth mindset.
    • Track the willingness of employees to share their unique perspectives and to take risks as they learn and grow.
    • Build growth mindset stories into newsletters, emails from leaders, and presentations at organizational meetings. Success stories that come from having a growth mindset help people start to understand how to translate it into successful implementation.
    • Track how much collaboration (genuine, struggle-through-different-perspectives-together collaboration) is happening at various levels throughout the organization.

Remember, people will discard this as a flavor of the month exercise; especially if leaders themselves don’t really have a growth mindset. Leaders need to be willing to embrace a growth mindset and some of the more challenging aspects of it – like seeking feedback gratefully. Remember, what we say is not nearly as important as what we do!

Spend some time this week considering how you can bring a growth mindset to your own life and to your work.

We would love to hear how you’re weaving a growth mindset into your organizational culture!

If you’d like 1:1 support in
putting a growth mindset into practice,
contact us today about our Executive Coaching.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
  • Categories

  • Archives