You Will Fail

You WILL Fail. Those were the first words out of a friend’s mouth when, in 2011, we said we were going to create and send out a nugget of our best thinking every Monday morning for a year. For a brief moment we actually wondered, what could we possibly find to say every week for a whole year? Apparently, a lot!

Thanks to your support, we’ve delivered 7 years of weekly coaching nuggets!

Today marks the 7th Anniversary of the Monday Morning Business Coach! In those 7 years that you’ve worked with us as your coaches, you’ve invited us in to support you in changing your corporate culture, you’ve had us teach our leadership model to your leaders and your teams, you’ve used us to facilitate difficult conversations to solve business problems, you’ve had us put together organizational partnerships, create powerful and effective teams, you’ve worked with us to develop strategies for a successful career, and you’ve trusted us with your hopes, fears, and questions.

Thank you for your confidence and trust in us as we support you in navigating the intersection between business and psychology . . . that messy place that can make the difference between success and failure, alignment and commitment to a vision; and success, satisfaction, and sustainability in the workplace.

This week’s nugget of coaching is based on what we’ve learned in writing 7 years of coaching nuggets.

Take small steps consistently over time in the direction of your goal.

When you take small steps consistently over time, you’re actively choosing what you will do, and you do that until you choose to do something else. This doesn’t mean that you never change your mind about a goal. With new information and changing environments, you may, in fact revise and fine-tune your decisions.

But you make the change deliberately. You see, there’s nothing more erosive than choosing to do something and then just letting it fade away. When you do that you lose confidence in yourself and those around you lose confidence in you as well.

Over the past 7 years, there were many weeks when we were tired, busy, traveling and tempted to “just skip a week”. So, each time we started to suggest that we “just skip this week,” we asked ourselves, “Are we ready to let the Monday Morning Business Coach go?”

Each time we decided that the Monday Morning Business Coach was still the best way to share our thinking and most successful strategies and tools with you, our community, to support your growth and continued success.

Thank you for allowing us to be your trusted allies.

If you should need an ally, contact us today about our coaching services.

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You Are Not Alone

We were recently facilitating a company meeting with a team of people, many of whom had worked for the company for their entire career. In the meeting, people were complaining about the challenges they faced and the hardships of the current financial environment in their industry.

They were feeling threatened, singled out, and personally beat up in this environment.

As we listened, we came to understand that this group had been together for so long and for so much of their careers that they had no idea how similar their experiences, challenges, and hardships were to the vast majority of other working people.

When we said to them, “Your experiences are the experiences of most people who are in the workforce”, they looked at us like we were out of our minds.

In the ensuing conversation, we talked about the workplaces and lives we’ve witnessed.

We talked about managers who had their entire next year’s plan ripped out from under them because of changes in their industry, professionals whose chosen career paths simply went away, needed resources that never arrived, long hours that were never recognized, and the range of experiences that are a norm of working, being part of a team, or functioning in a department within a company that has to create financial sustainability to stay afloat.

As we talked, you could see this group visibly relax. They came to understand that the kinds of challenges they were facing are the challenges most working people experience at some time or another, and they felt relief that they were not alone.

The shift in frame from “this is happening to me alone” to “this happens in many lives, perhaps even all lives” can change the experience from feeling victimized to feeling a part of the human race.

To help them see how much challenge is a norm, together we created a list of some of the things friends and colleagues were living with and through in their workplaces.

This is what they shared:

  • A really challenging boss
  • A new boss with entirely different priorities
  • A cancer diagnosis and the need to still work
  • Working two jobs to support the family
  • Too much work for any one day and too little budget to hire someone else
  • Layoffs to stabilize the budget – that then increased the workload
  • Stock market volatility
  • Regulatory updates that change the success of the whole industry
  • Exciting work that is also high stress – higher stress then they imagined
  • Sale of the company leading to everything changing
  • A culture of fear

It’s such a gift to be alive and be able to work, yet it’s regularly (and at times overwhelmingly) difficult at the same time. And, when you believe that others have it easy, it erodes your ability to see difficulties as a part of life – not just a part of your life.

This week, as you encounter your most challenging moments, try shifting from a framework of “this is happening to me alone” to “this happens in many lives,” and then find ways to connect with others to get support for what’s going on in your life and work so that you know you are not alone.

We’re here for you!

If you’re facing work challenges and would like support in moving forward,
contact us today about our coaching services.

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Certainty in Your Truth vs. THE Truth

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about The 5 C’s of Self - Confidence and the importance of standing in your own truth. The 5 C’s include:

Conviction, Certainty, Commitment, Courage, and Connection

While many of you wrote that you loved the idea of the 5 C’s, those of you who know us know that we are often saying don’t get certain, get curious. So, many of you asked what we were thinking when we included certainty in this list. And what a great question that is!

As you will recall, we said Certainty is key because Confidence in its simplest form is trusting your truth – holding that your truth is your truth. Knowing your truth and having a sense of which truths you trust and which you’re not so sure about will help you become clear about what you have confidence in.

Here is how we think about it:

Having certainty in your truth is very different than
being certain that you know THE truth

You can have considerable certainty in your truth and still be curious and influenceable. In fact, it’s really important that you have both. Without some certainty in your own truth, you won’t likely lean in to influence others, and you may be influenced by others in a way that is not in the balance of influence and influenced by.

One of the most challenging aspects of being a leader is striking that delicate balance between influencing and being influenced by. When you grow those 5 C’s you will be more effective in that balance. It will help you to stand in your truth while exploring and considering the larger truth.

For example, it may be your truth that the mission of your organization requires passionate commitment to people’s success while still being the truth that the organization needs to lay off some people to sustain financial stability.

In this case, you might start the conversation saying that you want to remind the team that you’re committed to creating an environment where people feel valued and respected in their work. And, at the same time add that you’d prefer to not have to lay people off if at all possible.

You have a deep discussion where you’re curious about other peoples’ perspectives and the data that led to their conclusions. After the discussion, you come to agree that a limited number of layoffs (done well) really is the most effective way to create financial sustainability and ultimately care for the people you must let go and the people who will continue to work for you. Your decision-making process is in the balance of influence within a larger truth.

This week we’d encourage you to explore the difference between standing in your truth and becoming certain that you know THE truth. The ability to hold your truth in confidence while exploring other truths will empower you as a leader and the people you are leading.

If you’d like support in exploring how to stand in your truth while still being influenceable, contact us today about our Executive Coaching.

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Giving Thanks

Here in the United States, this is Thanksgiving week, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It’s a day that we here at Carpenter Smith Consulting use to remind us of all that we are and all that we have.

As coaches, we recognize the power of gratitude and giving thanks while moving through life. Life brings with it all kinds of things including: demands at work, managing change, dealing with challenges, facing losses, experiencing grief, as well as the opportunity to connect with others and yourself.

In the spirit of giving thanks, we offer you this quote from Henry David Thoreau: 

“I am grateful for what I am and have.
My thanksgiving is perpetual.
It is surprising how contented one can be with
nothing definite – only a sense of existence.”

 - Henry David Thoreau in a letter to Harrison Gray Otis Blake (Dec. 1856)

Take some time this week to reflect on what you’re grateful for by answering the following questions:

  • What are you grateful for about who you are / who you have become?
  • What are you grateful for in what you have?
  • Who are you grateful for in your life?
  • What one thing can you do to come back to gratitude day after day?
  • What can you do today to begin to create a life of contentment?

Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to take just a moment to consider all that you have and all that you are.

We are grateful for you!

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The 5 C’s of Self-Confidence

Last week, in our post, Imposter Syndrome: You’re Not Alone, we encouraged you to watch the short TED-Ed talk, What is Imposter Syndrome and How Can You Combat It?We hope it was helpful to learn more about this surprisingly common experience that can seriously undermine your confidence, and get in the way of success.

As a result of last week’s post, we had a lot of people asking if there is any way to bolster their confidence.

Many of us have been made to believe that there are confident people and people who lack confidence and that there wasn’t much you could do about it. Yet, what we’re coming to understand is that confidence is a practice, and some people have had more practice building confidence in their life experiences than others.

To support you, we’ve identified the 5 areas that you can focus on to grow your confidence, and express it effectively. Here are the 5 C’s of Self-Confidence:

  • Conviction:
    • Conviction is the practice of reflecting on and coming to know your truth.
    • Many of us never name what we believe in because we’ve been taught to “go with the flow” or follow direction…but you can do both!
    • You can go with the flow and follow direction if you choose, and still know what you believe.
    • When you know what you believe vs. what you’re expected to believe by others in your life, you have more choices about what you do with your beliefs.
  • Certainty:
    • Confidence in its simplest form is trusting your truth – holding that your truth is your truth.
    • Knowing your truth and having a sense of which truths you trust and which you’re not so sure about will help you become clear about what you have confidence in.
  • Commitment:
    • Once you begin to have some truths, some beliefs, and you trust yourself you can then take the next step in practicing self-confidence — and that’s considering how your truth can actually guide your actions.
  • Courage: 
    • For those of us who have not known our truths or have hidden them from others, taking action on your truth requires courage because it’s a new way of moving in the world that is less “other” based and more from your own internal guidance system.
  • Connection:
    • Being confident in yourself isn’t about being arrogant or uninfluenceable. It’s about staying clear that this is your truth, while respecting their truth.

Remember, confidence is something you work on over time. You may start to feel more confident and then get hit with a surprise that deflates you which is to be expected, so don’t give up!

When you’re learning a new way of being in the world the ups and downs go hand in hand. It’s a lot like when you learned to walk -  falling down actually helped you figure out how to walk more steadily.

This week we hope you’ll choose one of the 5 C’s to focus on, and then choose another one next week. The goal is for you to start to build your confidence in a simple way so that you can start having the successes you desire.

We’re here for you!

If you’d like support in growing your self-confidence, contact us today about our Executive Coaching.

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Imposter Syndrome: You’re Not Alone

This week we want to talk about what we’ve all come to know as Imposter Syndrome – which is known as Imposterism in the research community.

Imposter Syndrome is a powerful and derailing experience. People with Imposter Syndrome believe that they have successfully hidden that they are not competent or capable and they believe that their actual accomplishments are not earned. They feel fraudulent and live in fear of being “found out”. Imposter Syndrome leaves people feeling alone and ashamed.

To help you learn more about this syndrome, we invite you to view this short TED-Ed video entitled, What is Imposter Syndrome and How Can You Combat It?. It reminds us that talking about our syndrome with others we trust can ease the feelings and help us to understand that many–if not most–people have felt exactly the same way at one time or another. It’s concerning to hear that an increasing number of people suffer from imposterism across occupations, gender, age, and race.

This week, if you find yourself feeling like an imposter, consider who you can talk with about your feelings and the negative self-talk that accompanies those feelings. It’s hard to grow in your impact, in your life, and in your work if you chronically feel like an imposter.

~ Linda, Stephanie, and Heather

If you’d like support in combatting your Imposter Syndrome, contact us today about our Executive Coaching.

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The Power of Your Contributions

We coach people who want to be powerful and effective, to come to a discussion about concerns with not only the concern, but also with a proposed solution.

For some people, the idea is quite natural, but for others, it’s a challenging concept. They don’t know how to organize their thinking, particularly when the concern is emotionally heated.

Today we wanted to offer you a simple structure that was initially developed by the US Navy and is now being used in hospitals around the country. It’s called the SBAR Communication Technique.

SBAR stands for Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation. Using these categories, you can organize your thoughts and bring concerns and possible solutions to the table, which will always make you more successful and valuable.

Let’s take a situation that Ahmed, one of our clients, recently described. Ahmed is a successful analyst at a large company. Like most of us, he’s confident and effective – until he bumps into a mistake that is potentially costly for the organization.

Ahmed had helped with an analysis of a potential product. The analysis indicated that it was a good product to add to what the company offered. After some of the development work was done on the product, Ahmed found some new data and realized that going forward with the product was likely a mistake – a huge mistake.

Seeking support, he came to us for help.

We worked through SBAR to help him organize an approach to take to his boss. In the list below, you’ll see how SBAR works through the actual script we worked on with Ahmed.

  • Situation: What’s happening?
    The addition of new data has changed our assessment of the potential for the new product.
  • Background: What led to this?
    The data that we had available to us at the time, was not as current as we had thought. When we used that data, it indicated this product line would be very successful, but the addition of this new data suggests otherwise.
  • Assessment: What’s going on?
    There are two problems we need to address:
    We need to assess if we now have all the data we need to make a decision about this product launch and if not, figure out how to get it. AND – we need to create a process for catching this kind of error in the future as we vet other product offerings.
  • Recommendation: What do you propose?
    I’d like to bring in our consulting resource who has expertise in this area. She’ll be able to help us ensure we have the data we need to make a decision, as well as create some new processes to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Ahmed brought this information and structured response to his boss shortly after meeting with us. Needless to say, his boss was very unhappy with the news, BUT she was very pleased that Ahmed had spotted it, communicated it immediately, AND brought an action plan for moving forward.

Instead of Ahmed dropping the problem on his boss’s desk, he had already started to consider how to solve it. His boss commended Ahmed publicly for his work on this! Ahmed went from worrying he’d be fired to being seen as a key to the solution.

This week consider how you can use the SBAR communication technique to guide your approach to addressing concerns and exploring new possibilities.

~ Linda, Stephanie, and Heather

When challenges arise, it can be difficult to see a way forward. If you’d like to build your possibility-thinking skills, contact us today about our Executive Coaching.

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Why Diversity Is Good for You

In our work, we are having many discussions about the value of diversity. There is clearly a belief that diversity is a good thing, but many people don’t know exactly why. So, we wanted to provide you with some new research.

We’re at a time in our nation where there’s much division, anger, and fear. One of the areas of significant debate is the value of racial and ethnic diversity. So, it’s exciting to see this new research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (114(4):497-515, April 2018) titled, “People in more racially diverse neighborhoods are more prosocial”. See the abstract below. (If you would like to purchase the entire article, please click here).

People in more racially diverse neighborhoods are more prosocial.

Nai, Jared,Narayanan, Jayanth,Hernandez, Ivan,Savani, Krishna

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 114(4), Apr 2018, 497-515

Five studies tested the hypothesis that people living in more diverse neighborhoods would have more inclusive identities, and would thus be more prosocial. Study 1 found that people residing in more racially diverse metropolitan areas were more likely to tweet prosocial concepts in their everyday lives. Study 2 found that following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, people in more racially diverse neighborhoods were more likely to spontaneously offer help to individuals stranded by the bombings. Study 3 found that people living in more ethnically diverse countries were more likely to report having helped a stranger in the past month. Providing evidence of the underlying mechanism, Study 4 found that people living in more racially diverse neighborhoods were more likely to identify with all of humanity, which explained their greater likelihood of having helped a stranger in the past month. Finally, providing causal evidence for the relationship between neighborhood diversity and prosociality, Study 5 found that people asked to imagine that they were living in a more racially diverse neighborhood were more willing to help others in need, and this effect was mediated by a broader identity. The studies identify a novel mechanism through which exposure to diversity can influence people, and document a novel consequence of this mechanism.

(PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

This research found that when people live in more racially diverse neighborhoods, areas, and countries, they’re more likely to reach out to friends and help them AND to reach out to neighbors and strangers to help them.

People who live in more diverse worlds tend to identify more with all of humanity vs. only with others who are like them.

At a time when teams, departments, and organizations are doing more with less; when it’s increasingly important that people work together effectively and efficiently; and when the stressors of the world are wearing people down, the data suggests that building diversity rather than fearing it is the way to go.

This week try to find a way to make your world just a little more diverse, and see if you can stretch just a little to connect with people who aren’t just like you.

We’re all in this together,

~ Linda, Stephanie, and Heather

If you would like help supporting the diversity within your workplace, contact us today about our Executive Coaching.


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What Do Others Really Know About You?

David came into the room and seemed almost depressed. He said that he’d met with a colleague and the colleague had told him that it was hard for him that David has it “so easy in life.”

David is a smart, articulate, handsome man who can wear just about anything and look like he walked out of the men’s magazine, GQ. He has a warmth about him that endears him to others, and he brings great insight to his company meetings.

On the surface, it all looks easy, but it’s not been easy. Not at all.

David was abandoned by his mother when he was two years old and raised in the foster system. He held 2 – 3 jobs all through college and went to the school he could afford, not the one that would have nurtured his unique intelligence. Shortly after college, he was diagnosed with cancer and had a challenging recovery. His life felt hard on so many levels and he couldn’t comprehend how he could be thought of as having “an easy life”.

Most people have a something that they wish others understood, recognized, or knew about them.

For some, it’s specific to an effort they’re involved with and they want others to respect and value their contributions.

For others, it’s a sense that the people they see regularly don’t understand the challenges they’ve overcome.

And still for others it’s a wish that others knew and valued how passionate they are about the environment, children, animals, etc.

We’ve found that it’s important to know what you want others to know about you, and to explore if there are ways you can teach people more about who you are within the proper context.

Move through these three steps to see if there is anything you’d like to do differently:

  1. Who are the people in my life I’d like to know more about me?
  2. What are the 2 – 3 things I’d like them to know about me? (This may be different for the different people in different areas of your life and world.)
  3. How can I share more about myself in a way that feels natural to the situation? Can I tell a story, share something I’ve written, ask for a moment to let them know what I’d like them to know?

Remember, you always have the option of doing nothing, but sometimes risking a little by sharing more about yourself can help build relationships and a shared sense of the world.

If you’d like support learning how to share more about yourself while remaining professional, contact us today about our Executive Coaching.

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Examples of Great Questions


The last two weeks, we’ve been talking about the power of questions: The Right Questions Can Change Your Life and The Bones of a Great Question.

Our articles have sparked requests from some of you asking if we could give examples of questions to ask. So, today, we’re doing just that.

We’re sharing some great examples of questions that you can use to create engaging and connecting conversations.

We’ve put them under a range of headings but don’t get stuck believing that they can only work in that section. We encourage you to explore how you can use these questions in various places in your life.

  • Early in relationships:
    • What brought you to this organization/department/class/play/etc?
    • What’s your vision for this project?
    • What makes you want to stay in this job/community/etc?
    • What are the highlights of your life?
    • Where are you in your life? What crossroads do you feel you’re at in this stage of your life?
  • Ongoing teams:
    • What’s the thing you most need to address today? What’s going well? What’s off track? What do you need from us/me?
    • How do we make decisions about this so that we’re both/all efficient and effective?
    • What are the key red flags we need to watch for?
    • How do you best hear challenges to your ideas?
    • On a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being low and 5 being high:
      • How valuable do you plan for this time to be?
      • How participative do you plan to be?
      • How much risk do you plan to take?
      • To what extent are you invested in the well-being of the group/relationship/etc?
    • Do we understand why we’re doing it this way?
  • Getting people into the room:
    • What values will guide your work today?
    • Can you share one thing about this project that really inspires you?
    • What’s something the people in this room don’t know about you?
    • What’s the skill you’re most proud to bring to the table?
    • What are the gifts you bring to the table?
    • What are the gifts others bring to the table?
  • Creating a shared understanding:
    • I’m curious about what each of you know about this effort.
    • What’s been your path to this role?
    • Would each person share a bit about their history with this project and why they’re pleased to be a part of this effort?
    • What are the current issues that need to be addressed?
    • What have you been told and what have you heard about this effort?
    • Of the things we have on our plate, what doesn’t fit?
  • Responding to urgent issues:
    • What are the most critical hits we’ll take if we don’t get on this soon?
    • What are our opportunities and risks at this point in the project?
    • Take a minute to write down the three most important things you believe we can do to respond to this. (Be sure to listen to every single idea before starting to plan.)
    • Who needs to be involved for our time to be successful?
    • If we brought in an expert from outside the organization, what would they do/say?
    • What are the possible long-term consequences?
  • Evaluating an idea, proposal, or initiative:
    • What are the benefits of this idea? What concerns do you have? What suggestions would you make before we move forward?
    • Does anyone see anything we’ve missed?
    • What are the obstacles that will get in our way?
    • What are the thoughts about this that you haven’t shared yet? What feels undiscussable in here?
    • If you had a magic wand, what would you do to address this problem?

This week consider compiling a file of questions that help you invite others to partner with you by offering their wisdom, expertise, and perspective.

Send us the questions that you’ve found most helpful in your life.

If you’d like support in creating an environment of engagement and collaboration,contact us today about our Executive Coaching.

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  • 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
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