Leading When Times Are Tough

leading when times are tough

Today we’d like you to spend some time thinking about how you can lead your life and lead in your life.

Our short exercise below can help you to:

  • live in alignment with your purpose
  • have some influence and control over your day-to-day life
  • have a sense of connection and camaraderie
  • have opportunities for doing good work and believing your work is meaningful
Step into your own leadership.

The power of intentionally leading in your own life gives you a sense of control and authority—which can counter burnout.

Often leadership is thought of as a role or title. Really it’s a way of being in the world that lets you effectively lead your life and lead in your life.

Our Leader in You framework has 3 key steps to help you take back a sense of authority and control in your life and work. These are extremely important in preventing and recovering from burnout.

1. Pause

2. Reflect

  • Reflect in a way that gives you powerful information on what you are afraid of in life or in a particular situation.
  • Then think about how you typically react to fear and what you’d do if you felt safe, confident, and fueled.
  • Then do that!

3. Act with POWER

  • Consider what’s Possible in the situation.
  • Own why it matters to you to reconnect with your purpose.
  • Create some We-focused goals (goals that you can share with others in your life).
  • Enable action (movement toward what matters to you is healing and fueling).
  • Review and Refine so that you learn from what worked and didn’t work.
  • Then do it again!

You can do this! It will take practice, but your life will be forever changed if you step into your leadership and your power.

To help you remember these steps, download our helpful action guide and pocket card by clicking below.

Click to download the Leader in You pocket card.

Click here to download the Leader in You pocket card.

Please select the “Actual size” option when printing the pocket card.


Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

If you find that you’d like an ally and partner to help you put all of this into action, contact us today to learn more about our coaching services. We’re here to help.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beating Burnout

light through the tunnel - beating burnout

Last week we talked about the fact that chronic overwhelm can lead to burnout. Today we want to share some thoughts with you about what to do if you notice yourself getting burned out.

It’s helpful to remember that burnout is in many ways a response to depletion.

Think about it: you wouldn’t sit in your car and expect it to work without gas, or sit in front of a wood-burning stove waiting for the warmth without putting in wood! Yet, we often ask ourselves to keep going without the fuel we need to actually keep going.

Telling yourself to “get it together” will work from time to time, but it won’t work over the long haul. You must do the things that fuel you even when everything in your being says there isn’t enough time or that there are other more important things to do.

The research is clear that you’re less likely to get burned out when you do things throughout your day that:

  • are aligned with your purpose
  • have some influence and control over your day-to-day life
  • have a sense of connection and camaraderie
  • give you opportunities to do good things and feel that those things are meaningful

This week, we’d like you to explore some Key Ways to Beat Burnout and Refuel Yourself.

Key Ways to Beat Burnout and Refuel Yourself

  1. Reconnect with your personal purpose.

    Ask yourself what matters to you in your life and what you hope your impact will be.

    If you have been charging ahead, doing, doing, doing and haven’t looked up to articulate your sense of purpose and the goals and priorities that matter in your life, take time now to write them down.

    And if you haven’t yet written to Heather for a simple, powerful exercise that will help you identify what really matters to you, do it now. It will help.

  2. Build resilience.

    If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can experience a profound loss of control, and it’s erosive to your energy. Think about resilience in the following 3 areas and then start working with one area where you can make a dent.

    • Physical: sleeping, eating, moving
    • Emotional: connection, engagement with like-minded others, meditation, mindfulness, coaching, therapy, take time to grieve losses or setbacks
    • Cognitive: read a book, participate in discussions, take a class (in person or online), attend a conference that reminds you of how smart and talented you are

  3. Build connection and camaraderie.

    Nurture relationships that matter to you. If you don’t have the relationships that you’d like in your life, considering joining a group or an effort that interests you. Whether it’s work relationships, a church community, a hiking group, or a volunteer day, when you find ways to meet people that have shared interests you’ll likely find new friendships.

    Knowing that you’re contributing positively in the world adds personal meaning to your life. The connection and camaraderie that comes from collaborating with others can make a significant difference in preventing and beating burnout.

It’s really important to only start with 1 or 2 things. Don’t try to tackle this entire list or you’ll get burned out beating your burnout! Remember, small consistent steps on your behalf will take you far.

You’ve got this,
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

If you’d benefit from an ally standing shoulder to shoulder with you to support you in beating burnout in your life, contact us about our coaching services.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chronic Overwhelm will Burn You Out

Depressed burned out woman.

This year we’re focusing on how to help our clients move from Overwhelmed to Outstanding. Today we want to talk with you about a very serious topic: how chronic overwhelm will cause you to burn out.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a very real set of physical symptoms, cognitive challenges, and emotional reactions that can be quite debilitating—in some cases even lead to depression and suicide. And the tricky part about it is that it can come and go, making it hard to believe you need to pay attention to it, especially when you’re feeling “better” about things.

Trickier yet is that it often manifests as the experience of personal failure versus a response to chronic stressors and depletion. This makes it hard for those of us who pride ourselves on being strong, determined, and passionate to acknowledge that we’re starting to burn out.

Symptoms of Burnout

Generally, burnout has three main components:

1. Lack of Energy

People feel exhausted and drained—exhausted to the point where they find they struggle doing the normal activities of life.

2. Cynicism/Objectifying Self and Others

People find that they start treating themselves and others more as objects or tasks on a to-do list rather than people and connections.

3. Sense of Failure

People start to believe that they’re ineffective, haven’t and can’t accomplish what matters to them, and that things will never get better.

Being Burned Out

Any one of these things can be challenging, but the three together can leave people feeling trapped in circumstances that they can believe are insurmountable.

If left unmanaged, burnout can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, addiction, and in the most extreme cases, suicide.

When you’re stressed, exhausted, and numb, it makes sense that you may feel like a failure… not because you are, but because your body, mind, and spirit have hit a wall with the stressors in your life.

Preventing burnout, catching it early, or treating it when it’s full blown is really important.

Please, please, please, if you are worried about yourself as you read this, reach out to someone for support, call a therapist, or talk to a coach. If you feel suicidal, get to an emergency room, call a suicide hotline, or ask someone to stay with you until you can get support.

It’s important that you don’t ignore your pain.

Next week we’re going to focus on Beating Burnout so you can intervene in ways that bring you back to life.

Hugs to you,
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Make A Small Change in How You Talk to Yourself

change your self-talk

We want you to matter in your own life. Period.

If you can create a purpose-filled, rich, and satisfying life then everyone and everything you touch will be better for it.

Your energy, mood, creativity, and openness are enhanced when you see yourself as valuable and worthwhile. That same energy, mood, creativity, and openness matter to the people you live with, work with, or even bump into on the street.

These are challenging times in our world and our country. You need as much of yourself as you can get to lead your life with dignity, integrity, and pride.

You have a lot to offer and we want you to shine.

We’ve got a great nugget for you this week that while small, will help you move toward the things that matter to you: self talk. 

How you talk to yourself directly impacts your ability to shine.

This week we’re focusing on the realization that we all have a long list of things we must get done. And while they fall into the MUST category of things to do, you have more choice over what you get done, when you get it done, and how you get it done than you can imagine.

The next time you think to yourself I must or I have to, try instead to shift your self talk to words that remind you that you’re making a choice:

I have to get this project done tonight.
Try: I choose to get this done tonight and free up my time for later.

I have to become a better Mom.
Try: It matters to me to become a better Mom.

I have to get in shape and lose weight.
Try: I’ll feel better and prouder when I get in better shape.


You get the idea.

There are truly things we don’t have much choice in doing, but within those things we have a choice about how we talk about them and how we tackle them. Awareness of your ability to choose matters to your sense of personal authority and power.

Choose to live from the center of your life
and talk about it in ways that respect yourself.

We’re here with you,
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

If you’re interested in an exercise that will help you choose the priorities at the center of your life, drop Heather, our queen of productivity, a note and she’ll send it your way.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time Management or You Management?

image of calendar for managing your time

Linda was at a conference a couple of years ago with a speaker who was talking about time management. Unfortunately, she can’t recall his name but she was totally caught by his message.

In a room with 500 professionals, he said, “Raise your hand if you have ever read an article or a book about time management.” The entire room raised their hands.

Then he said, “Raise your hand if you have ever taken a course on time management.” About 90% of the room raised their hand.

Then he said, “Raise your hand if you believe you have mastered time management.” Five people raised their hands.

Now, this was a group of smart, capable people but only 1% of the room felt some mastery over time management even though between 90 and 100% of them had done some training or reading on time management.

His introduction clearly caught the attention of the room. He went on to say that time management is mostly a myth. You can’t really manage time (it being time and all).

In fact, time is not something you can manage or influence. But what you can manage is what you do with your time.

You can get more clear about:

  • what really matters to you.
  • what brings you a sense of pride and satisfaction.
  • what you can do to engage in more of the things that make you proud of your behavior—even when in the moment you are tempted to fall back into patterns that are not as good for you.

Since that lecture, we’ve stopped worrying about time management and focused instead on helping people know, articulate, and claim with respect the things that really matter in their lives. This helps as they set priorities and work to create successes that matter to them.

Managing yourself will get you closer to a life of meaning, satisfaction, and success.

If you’re interested in an exercise that will help you identify the priorities in your life so that you manage yourself based on what truly matters to you, drop Heather, our queen of productivity, a note and she’ll send it your way.

Here’s to your success in 2017!

Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

If you’d like personal coaching on ‘you management’ and prioritization, check out our Productivity Coaching services.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grieve… to Grow

lost future

Most of us understand the importance of grieving the loss of a person or a pet that we loved and were attached to.

What’s harder for many of us to understand is the importance of grieving the loss of a desired or imagined future. You see, when you’re planning a future and it doesn’t materialize, there’s grief in that too. Before you can grow from it, you must grieve it.

Let us explain.

An executive coaching client of ours had a good job and worked with us to get a promotion. She was very successful in her new role and after several years she was recruited to a firm in another part of the country.

After 8 months in her new firm, she called us to say that she wasn’t pleased with the company and was ready to look for her next opportunity, but felt stuck.

We talked about what was missing at the job she’d taken, how her skills weren’t being utilized, how the culture wasn’t as promised—and then we talked about her lost future.

Her “lost future” was that she had planned her life and saw her future with Company X, but it turned out that Company X was not all it had been promised to be. Much like a death, she was in the process of letting go of an image of how she wanted to be in the world and she needed to grieve.

Once she felt the pain of not being valued, the sorrow that came from promises broken, and the reality that what she’d thought was going to be her future wasn’t going to happen, she could move on.

Humans see their future and start to live as if it’s true.

Despite all of our creative endeavors, we actually don’t like change very much. So when we’ve based our thinking on one future, it’s difficult to switch gears—especially when we haven’t taken the time to grieve “what should have been” so that we can then grab hold of “what will be.”

Grieving isn’t wallowing.

When you grieve a lost future, you look at what you’d expected life to look like in order to recognize that it won't be your life. When you grieve, you face the truth of your situation so you can learn from it and move forward toward a new future standing in the reality of what is. 

Once you're standing in the reality, you’re able to ask yourself: Are you different as a result of this experience? Could you have done something differently? Were you too starry eyed, causing you to overlook pieces of data? 

Grieving positions you to learn from loss so that going forward you make better decisions and show up fully and confidently.

This week, we encourage you to reflect on any lost futures that you may have experienced in your life. Let yourself grieve, learn from them, and move on.

Your new future awaits as long as you don’t keep one foot in the past.

Let us know how we can help.

Take care of yourself,
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

If you’re feeling stuck and need help moving forward in your career, coaching could be a great solution for you. Click here to contact us today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Just This Week: Start Small to Go Big in 2017

2017 goals

The last couple of weeks we’ve been focused on some simple steps you can take to create a 2017 that can move you from Overwhelmed to Outstanding. If you haven’t read those posts, we’d really encourage you to do so by clicking here.

Shifting from running as fast as you can to taking thoughtful, intentional steps to create a life that matters to you is important because YOU MATTER.

This week we’re going to talk about how to get traction on some of the goals you’ve identified. The key is to only focus on the upcoming week. Don’t worry about the whole year—just think about this week.

Remember, true change occurs when you take small steps consistently over time.

If you set huge goals and try to take action on them all at once you’ll likely feel defeated and set them aside. If you set no goals and wait to see what comes your way, you’ll likely look back and be disappointed with your year.

So, this week we want you to do 3 things to get yourself started with an approach that, over time, can change your life.

  1. Take a few minutes to think about what you learned from looking back on 2016 and what you identified as important for 2017, using the wheel exercise from last week.

    Now, looking at your upcoming week, identify 2-3 small things you can do this week to move toward one or two of your 2017 goals.

    Small things that fit into your week but move you, even a bit, toward your goal.
  2. Each morning this week, take 2-3 minutes to look over your goals and to remind yourself of the 2-3 things you are going to do this week.
  3. At the end of each day, spend 2-3 minutes making notes about what you’re proud of from the day, what you’re grateful for, and the people in your life that you appreciate.

    Then, on the days you had planned to take a small step toward your goal, note if you did so and if you did, give yourself some credit. If you didn’t, look at when you can do what you had planned to do.

That’s it. Small steps. Just for this week.

Then, do it again next week. One week at a time. If you do what we’ve suggested in this list, you’ll likely need a place to note your efforts. You can do this digitally, in a notebook, or on a scrap of paper you leave someplace where you’ll notice it.

Don’t make it hard! When you’re identifying the 2-3 small things you can do each week, you’ll likely need to spend 10 minutes on that activity—but no more. Then spend 2-3 minutes each morning and 2-3 minutes each night reviewing your efforts.

It’s simple but it’s not always easy. Trust us.

We try to work with our own recommendations and sometimes we forget, feel too tired, or believe it’s too much—and likely you will too. That’s okay; just come back to this list and start again.

We’re committed to helping you have your best year yet by helping you move from living a life that is Overwhelmed to living a life that is Outstanding! Let’s get this year started…

Hugs, Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

Join us in the Monday Morning Business Coach community and get inspired every week of 2017 and beyond. Click here to sign up and we’ll come right to your inbox.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From Overwhelmed to Outstanding

overwhelmed to outstanding

One of the things we know (and we do mean KNOW) is that moving from Overwhelmed to Outstanding is critical if you’re going to feel happy, productive, and effective—and it’s pivotal to leading people in your organizations who need to be passionate, committed, and innovative to create success.

People who are overwhelmed get focused on the next thing on their to-do list rather than thinking broadly about what they’re doing and how it contributes to a larger vision. They isolate themselves when success requires their leadership, connection with others, and creating a shared sense of purpose. And they start to feel eroded in their lives—often talked about as burnout—and feel exhausted, get numb in relationships, and have the experience that nothing they do really matters… a far cry from feeling that who they are, and their contributions in their lives and work, truly matters.

In order to move from Overwhelmed to Outstanding, it’s important that you know what your personal goals are and what your organizational goals are, and that you can help the teams you lead do the same. So today we’re going to go through a simple exercise to help you create focus in your personal life, so that as a leader (in your life and world) you know what’s truly important and what’s mostly demanding noise.

Start by downloading The Leader in You Personal Assessment by clicking below.


Then answer the question: What’s your theme for 2017? (e.g. Our theme for 2017 is Helping You Move From Overwhelmed to Outstanding.)

Take a moment to think about your answer to this question and write it down on the top of your worksheet.

Next, work your way through the Personal Assessment. The Personal Assessment looks at 5 key areas that are central to creating a great life and stepping into your leadership personally and professionally. It also gives you a section where you can add areas that matter to you personally.

The worksheet guides you through defining what a ‘10’—your life at its best—looks like in each of the areas of your life and then has you assess how your current life stacks up to life at a 10. Once you have a sense of the areas in your current life you’d like to be better, you can identify 2-3 goals to focus on in 2017.

If you’re comfortable using this post and the Personal Assessment to set goals for the next year, we’re delighted. But if you’d like a little support, watch our free coaching video below. In it, Linda gives a bit more context to this exercise to help you think about how you can go from Overwhelmed to Outstanding in 2017.


If you’d like to work with a coach to help you get traction on your goals, CLICK HERE and send us a note. We’d be happy to help you make next year your most successful yet!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Value of Hindsight

looking back on 2016

We’re at the time of year when people start to think about their futures and what they want the next year to bring.

It’s often a feeling of a fresh start, a blank page, an open door. Yet, for many of us, we make that start with a list of resolutions or goals that barely make it to week two. And, that makes sense when you think of what it takes to create the life you want to live.

To shape your life successfully and come back to what matters to you when you get derailed, it’s important to:

  • Get clear about what you want. Specifically name what you want rather than what you want to avoid. And, remember, it needs to be what you want vs. what others want for you.
  • Focus on the most important things you want. If the list gets too long, you’re done before you even start.
  • Identify the people who can support you in your efforts. It doesn’t have to be dozens of people, but one or two key people who you trust are on your team and care about you can make the difference between success and distress.

And, to help in this process, start by reviewing the previous year (or few months or week, depending on what you are trying to achieve). What you learn can provide incredible guidance.

So this week, we’d like you to take a look in the rearview mirror and consider:

  1. What did you spend the bulk of your time on over the past year?
  2. When you think about using your time that way, are you pleased with yourself?
  3. How do you want the next year to be different?

Take some time to look back and then in our post next week, we’ll focus on helping you look forward.

You may be comfortable taking this post and digging in, which is great, but if you’re someone who does better with support, watch the free coaching video below. In it, Linda walks you through this exercise of looking back, which is a great first step in getting you from Overwhelmed to Outstanding.


If you’d like to work with a coach to help you get traction on your goals, CLICK HERE and send us a note. We’d be happy to help you make next year your most successful yet!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why You Matter…

you matter

Take a moment to think about your life and how you treat yourself as you go through your moments, days, weeks, and months.

One of the things we want you to remember is that

the way you live your moments is the way you live your life.

Your moments matter and if you’re going to matter in your own life, it’s important that you pay attention to your moments.

What we know, from our five years doing the Monday Morning Business Coach, is that you matter in this world. You matter because you are:

  • Executives committed to building businesses that are good for customers, employees, and communities.
  • Servers helping people enjoy a meal.
  • Students committed to learning and contributing to the world.
  • Managers trying to create a great environment for success.
  • Moms trying to balance caring for your family and succeeding in your job.
  • Sons passionate about making a difference in the world.
  • Firefighters putting yourself at risk every day.
  • Consultants passionate about helping clients grow.
  • Dads committed to being a presence in your children’s lives.
  • Daughters leading research on cancer.
  • Therapists supporting people as they heal from pain and trauma.
  • CEOs leading people into their future.
  • Individuals trying to stay healthy and energized in the face of overwhelming demands.
  • Nurses, business owners, union organizers, community leaders, staff, leaders with the title, and leaders as a way of life. You are clergy, designers, entrepreneurs, and bus drivers.

You matter because when you
lean in to make a difference in the world,
we are all better for it.

The world needs you.

So, we need you to matter to yourself. To respect who you are and where you are right now—even if your goal is to be somewhere else in your life. To honor the contribution you make while committing to doing things to get you to new opportunities to do more. To respect your need for rest, silence, connection, and love.

Your family & friends need you.

So, this week pay attention to treating yourself like you matter in this world, because we know you do.

  1. When you’re successful, acknowledge it to yourself.

    And when you feel afraid, lonely, unsettled, or stupid—acknowledge that too. And acknowledge it with the gentleness you would offer someone you love deeply.

    Hold yourself in high regard and say to yourself, “I can see that you’re afraid or feel stupid and I’m sorry. It’s hard. And, you matter. You will move through this.”
  2. Take care of your basic needs.

    Pay attention to your hunger and thirst. Go to the bathroom when you need to go to the bathroom (seriously). Slow your pace and breathe as you walk down the hall.

    It’s truly stunning the number of people who ignore their basic needs throughout the day. If you matter, your needs matter.
  3. Get a notebook, use your phone, tear off a few scraps of paper, and on and off throughout the day write down the things you’re doing well.

    The things you are proud of. The things you didn’t think you’d do but did. They don’t have to be big or in anyway meaningful to anyone else.

    For us, they are sometimes getting out of bed after a crazy, personally challenging week, not snapping at a colleague who pushes our buttons, or staying present in a meeting that was tedious and boring. Notice yourself and what you do well.
  4. Look for small ways to give yourself a treat—just because.

    Not a reward but a treat for being in this life and mattering in this life.

    A few minutes on a deck overlooking a river near your office, 5 minutes to taste that latte you just bought, listening to the birds, noticing the clouds, laughing with a coworker, hugging your partner or kids just a bit longer.
  5. Find ways to laugh.

    With others would be best, but if that’s not possible, watch a Saturday Night Live routine that always makes you laugh (we love this one), watch a show that’s funny and charming, join a group that plays well together, create a game night with friends.

    When you laugh, you remember yourself and can gain perspective. You matter enough in that moment to soften.

You need you.

This week, we want to help remind you to matter to yourself so that next week you can start to think about your year and how it’s gone and then, how you—mattering to yourself—are going to create a year next year that you are proud of.

Let us know how it goes.

Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

If you’re ready to get started on making the new year your year, click to learn more about how we can support you with our services.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
  • About the Authors

    Carpenter Smith Consulting

    Linda Carpenter and Stephanie Smith started Carpenter Smith Consulting in Portland to support individuals and teams who dream about having the power, impact and influence to create success and meaning in ... Read full profile
  • Categories

  • Archives