Take Me Beyond My Current Limitations

Many years ago, I found myself standing on the edge of a crane at a county fair in Iowa. Somehow, I thought it was a good idea to put on a harness, be taken up into the air a few hundred feet, and jump head first toward a giant blow up mat with the outline of a dead body staring at me on the way down.

I remember standing there ready to jump. Aside from the outline of the dead body, I saw hundreds of tiny heads looking up at me waiting for me to take the plunge. As I leaned over the edge I heard the guy in the crane say, “On the count of three let go. 1, 2, 3!” I said, “Nope!”

This guy was amazingly patient. He said, “Ok. Let’s try this again. This time, turn around and simply allow yourself to fall backwards on the count of three. 1, 2, 3!” I said, “No way!” Then petrified, I walked away from the edge to where my friend was standing.

My friend said, “Gina, you don’t have to jump if you don’t want to. It’s totally up to you.”

In that moment of choice, something magical happened. I just looked at my friend and said, “Nope.” Then I took a leap to the edge like I was on a high dive, and literally did a swan dive off the platform into the air! Scared to death one minute; the next minute I’m free falling head first.

I had never felt such freedom. Little did I know how life changing that jump would be.

Over the last 20-years I have found myself hanging over the edge of that crane hundreds of times. When I was deciding on whether to get a divorce, walk away from a secure job to start my business, have a baby, go to grad school, walk away from toxic relationships…the list goes on and on. And every time I’m faced with that “big something” that terrifies me, I remember the moment when I took a leap of faith and did a swan dive off the crane that evening in Iowa—and I remember how good it felt after I jumped.

I also remember how many times it took me to jump and why I finally jumped. That memory allows me to give myself a little grace and be patient with my own internal process as I navigate life. It also reminds me that I always have choice. That no matter how restrictive life may feel in the moment, there’s always an alternative. If one choice creates a feeling of restriction or limitation there’s always another option that will allow me to feel free.

For me, it’s not a matter of if I’ll jump; but rather, when I’ll jump. It may take me three tries before gathering enough courage to take the plunge, and that plunge may be in a completely different direction than I originally thought, but I will jump. And I’ll inevitably jump because I know how good it feels to be on the other side and free.

What are you waiting for? Jump.

Do what you love, and love what you do. Gina Soleil provides motivation and coaching for corporate executives. Through her fresh new approach to business, she teaches you how to become the happiest person you know WHILE performing better than ever and successfully mastering work and life. It’s time to live your best life now!

Turn Around And See All The People

I was asked by a client today, “Why do so many companies have problems with engagement?” 87% of US employees are disengaged to be exact.

It’s not rocket science… It’s because most leaders are faced in the wrong direction. Spending so much time appeasing “higher-ups”, Wall Street and making sure that the lastest initiative gets launched that they forget to turn around and see all the people….people who are the bread and butter to the company. Without people you have nothing.

The sure fire engagement strategy is simple. Every executive needs to model a “people first” management philosophy. Walk around and talk to people, care about them and recognize their value. If you’re thinking you don’t have time for this…then you don’t have time to be a leader and should take up a new individual contributor role. Harsh but true.

Today make your top priority taking Suzi out for a coffee to tell her how valuable she is to you and the company. Then everyday after that take a different employee out for coffee and tell them the same thing. Before you know it, I guarantee you’ll have higher engagement, greater profits and happier customers.

What Zoos Can Teach Us About Employee Performance

I walked into a client’s office yesterday optimistic and full of life. A great nights sleep, healthy breakfast and ahead of schedule. I was ready to conquer the day.

I sat down in my office disguised as a cubicle and jumped right in. Then an unexpected turn of events happened.  After my first meeting I started to feel drained. My Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah pep turned into a series of yawns and random walks around the building to revive myself. No worries, I recovered and got my groove back right before meeting #2. After meeting #2 all shit broke loose. I felt myself completely unmotivated and almost stir crazy. Yikes! I couldn’t even get myself to look at the computer screen let alone get anything accomplished. I was being overtaken by the ugh syndrome before noon! I thought, “Oh, no. What’s happening?”

I started looking around at all the gray–I noticed everything was literally covered in gray. All I could hear was the humming of the air system and florescent lights. Without realizing what was happening all my stuff was packed in my bag and I jetted out the door as fast as possible. I felt absolute relief once I got into my car and started driving away. From there I decided to work from home and the day began to turn itself around.

So what happened at the office? What in the world came over me? I’m not Sherlock Holmes but the mystery was not too difficult to solve.

First, I’m not alone. In fact, there’s a good chance most of you reading this blog have experienced this phenomenon multiple times in your work life. A phenomenon caused by one simple fact–you’re a living human being. Yep, being alive caused me to jump out of the cubical and run for the door. Here’s why…

When you’re at work, you’re no different from an animal in a zoo. Follow me here, it’ll make sense. Have you ever seen a wild animal running and playing freely in its native habitat? They’re happy and performing at their best. Compare that to an open zoo where animals roam in beautiful habitats similar to their natural environment? Not always ideal, but for the most part the animals are relatively satisfied. Now go a step further… Compare the last two examples to a zoo that puts animals in covered cages with concrete floors and glass walls where they stare at the same damn thing everyday. In the last example animals become depressed, slow, sleepy and unmotivated to interact and play with each other. For a human, working in gray cubical land can create the same feeling as being an animal held captive in a concrete cage.

Morale to the story… environment plays a significant role in how productive a person is at work. Air quality, lighting, plants, music, natural light and color all ramp performance up or drive it down into the ground. Even the direction you face in your cubical can play a significant role in how you feel and you’re ability to focus. Feng Shui at the office works. That said, if you don’t have the luxury of designing your office space try these tips to revive your mojo the next time you’re feeling squirrely at work:

  1. Drink water: Believe it or not water is scientifically proven to have the same “wake-up your soul” effect as coffee–but better! Water will keep you hydrated and alert without the crash. By no means am I telling you to stop drinking coffee. I love the stuff! Just keep it balanced and make sure you’re drinking more H2O especially on those days you need to focus.
  2. Just add color: I know, can it get more basic?! Yes, the human mind needs color. Again proven, lack of color is one of the most significant reasons you’re falling asleep at your deck. For you business owners out there, if your office is covered in gray you’re simply asking for employees to fall asleep. An easy fix for those who feel they have no choice, start splashing your work area with colors that energize and keep you moving.
  3. Plants, plants and more plants: Fill your space with greenery! And no, plastic does not count. If you’re scared of killing your new green friend buy a Chinese Evergreen, they’re durable, hearty and can go longer than most plants without water or sunlight. Here’s the deal, plants aren’t just pretty they’ll purify your air and keep you alert. If your office has a no plant policy break the rules and sneak one in any way! Your boss will thank you when they see your performance improve.
  4. Headphones: If you want to keep your groove moving at work start listening to your favorite tunes while cranking away on that spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation. From classical to death metal…makes no difference just so long as it makes your heart sing and keeps you focused.
  5. Go into the wild: Like animals you do better in your natural habitat. If you have the ability to work from home do it. If not, leave the building at least every couple of hours to breathe some fresh air. Even five minutes of fresh air and walking can turn your day around. And for those freeze babies who live in the arctic tundra with me, throw on a hat, coat and gloves and start walking! You’ll be glad you did guaranteed.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Email Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter. 

Time to Quit: Have you stayed in a toxic situation too long?

Quit_Have you stayed too long in a situation that no longer serves you?

If there’s one thing for sure, life IS change. Nothing stays the same. Even when you’re standing still you’re evolving and moving forward. As you evolve, certain people and situations that once served as positive influences in your life can turn unhealthy or even toxic. When this happens it’s time to say, “I quit.”

Our culture is a breeding ground for the proverbial, when the going get’s tough the tough gets going attitude. Most people stay in toxic situations way too long; tolerating behaviors and environments that literally have the power to suck the life out of New York City. Why? At the core, most people don’t want to be perceived as a failure, the fool, non-dependable or uncaring. So rather than quitting and moving toward healthier new beginnings, they stick it out in hopes that the clouds will clear and the toxic situation will get better. Rather than sunshine and clear skies, the situation only gets more toxic. 

Here’s the deal: quitting is okay. Not only is it okay, it’s absolutely necessary if you want a healthier happier life. That said, I get it. Leaving a toxic situation is hard and damn scary–especially when it’s tied to your dream. A dream of a specific career path, that certain relationship, or becoming that image you’ve been striving toward for years. For those of you who like the straight and narrow path, the thought of changing course before realizing your dream makes you feel like someone is twisting your heart and stomach into a pretzel–making you want to throw-up at the very thought of walking away. Ironically, the toxic situation or relationship that has you hanging on with an iron fist gives you the same sick feeling. The difference: the sick feeling turns to relief and freedom when you walk away. When you stay, you get to carry that sick feeling with you everywhere you go–forever.

One of the scariest parts of quitting an unhealthy situation and relationship is often the thought of losing your identify. We think things like, if I change course now, who will I be? Who will I become? Will I make the wrong turn and lose out on what may have been? I’ve invested so much of my time, if I change course now will I have wasted all that energy and effort?  Oh God! Anything but that! The reality: if you quit, you get to live a new dream that’s better than anything you’ve ever imagined.

The hardest part of quitting a dream and opening yourself up to a new beginning (no matter how beautiful that new beginning may be) is mourning your vision of what could have been. It’s no different from mourning the death of a good friend. Your vision, idea or dream has been with you a great deal of time. Acknowledge your feeling of loss. Honor yourself, your strength and your courage. Then let it go in gratitude. Once you’ve given yourself time to feel at peace, start walking forward–and know that you did the right thing.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.