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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bringing a Growth Mindset to Your Teaching

As we mentioned in a previous post, Carol Dweck is a leading researcher behind the concept of a growth mindset. To that end, she’s recognized the power of the word yet in developing a growth mindset for ourselves and for our children.

Children and adults who are rewarded for their use of effort, strategy, and process, develop resiliency to tackle problems and to solve issues that they don’t have answers for – yet.

We’ve included a Tedx video in this email where Carol talks about the amazing growth that children across the country are experiencing since their schools have adopted a growth mindset and the power of yet.

Click the below link to watch Dweck’s Tedx talk where she explains the power of a growth mindset and the research that supports it. Enjoy!

Even as adults, it’s a really nice shift to have a growth mindset. Think about it: getting praise for running a successful workshop isn’t as valuable as getting praise for all of the passion you bring and the time and effort you put into creating the workshop. We love this idea!

How will you incorporate a growth mindset into your world this week?

Let us know how it goes!

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

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Developing a Growth Mindset

Last week we shared our definition of a Growth Mindset. A growth mindset is an attitude and a way of life – one doesn’t have a growth mindset for a day or for a week.

Your growth mindset affects how you approach challenges, obstacles, and disappointment. This is not to say that you’re naive about life, but rather you believe that you can learn from every event even if it’s unpleasant or painful.

Research suggests that a growth mindset is a critical part of brain plasticity. Scientists are learning that our brains continue to grow, expand, build new pathways, and evolve as we experience new events – both pleasant and unpleasant. How great is that?

We heard from a number of you that you want to develop your growth mindset (which, by the way, is growth mindset; so BRAVO!). We’ve created a list of some suggestions on how to do so.


  • Get curious about what’s happening in your organization or with members of your team.
  • Take feedback from others seriously and explore ways to use it to enhance your contributions.
  • Practice your leadership and communication skills so that you’re constantly growing in your skills and deepening your wisdom.
  • Ask and then truly listen.
  • Read and grab opportunities to learn and widen your perspective.
  • Consider how one lesson you’ve learned can be applied to other experiences.
  • Consider the perspective of others and how they came to that perspective.

This week see if you can practice these growth mindset activities, and notice whether you start to see a change in how you respond to the world at large.

We’d love to hear how these worked for you!

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

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You Got Promoted, Now What? Gratitude!

In our recent post Asking for a Promotion, we talked about some steps to take to prepare yourself before asking for a promotion. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about what to do if you get the promotion.

When you’re ready to move to the next level of responsibility and authority, you may become very focused on getting the job while thinking very little about how you’ll successfully make the transition into that new role. And, the transition is key!

No matter how much you believe you can do the new job, if you aren’t thoughtful about the transition into the role you may undermine your credibility and, frankly, piss people off—the very same people you need to work closely with to succeed.

We’ve all had the experience of someone we’ve known and worked with getting a promotion and coming into the role with a swagger trying to prove they deserved the promotion.

They come in talking about what I’m going to do now, when—actually—to succeed, they need to enter with

    • gratitude for the opportunity
    • curiosity about the people they will be leading
    • respect for what’s been done historically

—even if they believe that, ultimately, some changes should be made.

So today, we’re going to consider
what it looks like to express gratitude for
the opportunity to help the team create success..

You’ve gotten the promotion, which means you’ve been hired to take the role or team to the next level.

    • As you start to meet with the individuals and your team, let them know that you’re excited and grateful to be working closely with them as individuals and as a team.
    • Convey that you trust that together you can set a course that will continue their current success, add to their impact, work toward getting the resources needed to succeed, and make the department a great place to work.
    • Frame the conversation in the “we” rather than “I” to engage them in being a solution on behalf of the department and organization.

Even if this has been a relatively low-functioning team, sharing your gratitude for them and their work will invite them to work with you to create success. Some will show up with higher energy and engagement because you’re painting a picture of a future where, together, “we” can succeed.

As you enter the new role, demonstrate that you’re grateful to be in the position to support and contribute to their success, and that you will be working with them to achieve it, not positioning yourself to be a sole shining star.

Wishing you success!

If you’ve landed the promotion and would
like support with this important transition,
contact us today about Executive Coaching.

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What Does Work Mean to You?

Today is the 125th anniversary of Labor Day being celebrated in the US. Always the first Monday in September, Labor Day is dedicated to recognizing and honoring the contributions of American workers.

So, in recognition of Labor Day, we asked friends, colleagues, and clients to share what work means in their lives. We know that there is a lot of pressure in the culture today to do “work you love” and yet for many people, in their efforts to create a life they love, work is only a part of that; and in many cases, it is a small part.

Take a look at the various ways people describe
what work means in their lives. Then spend some time
considering what you want work to mean in your life.

  • I work to eat and to take care of my family. I Work, with a capital ‘W’ on my art!

  • I love working with people and for the first time in my life, I have a job that lets me do that. It’s exciting to be paid for work that doesn’t feel like work!

  • My work is at the center of my life; it’s how I know who I am. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have it.

  • Work is a means to an end. The end is sometimes about work results, but more often it’s about what I can do when I’m not working.

  • As long as I can do work that’s fun with a great group of people, and make enough money to travel, that’s all I need. Traveling is where my passion lies.

Steve Jobs said, Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

We agree, and yet for some people work is a way to support them doing what they truly love. It’s important to keep looking for ways to create a life where you get to do what you love; but don’t insist it all come from paid work.

Some of the most passionate and successful people we know worked in jobs where they contributed their talents and were paid well, but the work that mattered to them most was their art, music, helping the underserved, etc.

You may find your truest work outside of your paid job. Don’t stop looking for ways to do the things you truly, truly love. The world needs your unique combination of skills and strengths! ~ Carpenter Smith Consulting

If you’re struggling to identify what role
you want work to fulfill in your life,
contact us today about our Career Coaching.

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Asking for a Promotion

Many people come into their work lives believing that their managers will advocate on their behalf so all that they need to do to get increasing responsibility is demonstrate their skill and then they’ll be promoted. While this happens sometimes, it’s just not the typical reality; so we encourage our clients to advocate on their own behalf.

In our experience, managers are doing more than ever with fewer resources, and even if they do see that a member of their team is very successful, they may not have the time to advocate for them.

All of that makes sense (no blame intended); but it does suggest that if you feel ready to take on greater responsibility, the ball is in your court to move your agenda forward.

Where do you start if you’re getting
ready to ask for a promotion?

The following three steps can help:

  1. Review your previous formal and informal performance reviews and ensure that you’re seen as contributing to success and that you’ve demonstrated a thoughtful and effective response to any and all performance concerns.
  2. Assess the needs of your team, department, and the organization to identify how you can best contribute to success. You’ll always be more effective in asking for a promotion when you can tie the organization’s success to your increasing influence and impact. For example: Review the strategic plan for your department and for the company as a whole. Then be prepared to talk about how elevating you to the role will increase the success of the department and the company.
  3. Before having the specific promotion conversation with your boss, seed the idea with them and other key stakeholders. For example: You could say something like, “I love what we’re trying to do with [project / initiative / strategy], and I’m excited to contribute to its success. As I assess how to create success going forward, I believe I’d have a greater impact if I moved into a larger role and I’m eager to know your thoughts.”Their responses can give you a great deal of information about how to approach the actual promotion discussion.

Once you’ve completed Step 3, you’ve started the conversation about what it will take for you to move into a role of greater impact and responsibility.

Take action based on what you learned and then return to the conversation from time to time until you believe there is clear evidence that your advancement will contribute to departmental or organizational success.

After having conversations where you’ve reviewed your history and assessed how you can be a solution to the company’s needs, you’re ready to have a discussion about a promotion! You could say something like, “I’d like to ask for a promotion to this new role where, I think we agree, I can be a solution to the team, department, or company.”

Let us know how it goes!

Feeling ready for a promotion but need some
1:1 support to work through the process?
Contact us today about our coaching services.

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