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Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
Speaking Information at (727) 467-0202 or e-mail info@fawngermer.com

Archive for the Living Large Category

Making the Hard Decision

There are occasions where our greatest growth comes from making the hard decision to cut losses and move on. Let’s say you launch a business and quickly start losing money. Time passes and you lose more money. It continues like that until you realize the hemorrhage won’t stop until you either shut down or file bankruptcy. You prove nothing by sticking with an obvious loser. The boldest option is quitting before you are completely sucked under. But, get the information you need to know that your decision is made from the power of information and insight, not fear.

Or, in another case, let’s say you have a real bully of a boss who is holding you back and making you miserable. He has made it clear he isn’t going anywhere and you are stuck with him – probably for several years — if you stay. You don’t want to be pushed out, you know you didn’t deserve the ordeal and it certainly isn’t fair. You shouldn’t have to leave. But, staying just gives him the power over your psychological well being. . Does it require more confidence to stay in a bad situation, or to pack up and leave? Quitting requires more strength in this situation. But it shows you decide your destiny, not some jerk. You may feel pushed out, but leaving in this kind of circumstance really means you are “firing” your boss.

Weak people encounter test points, stop what they are doing, let themselves feel bad, then slow down or quit altogether. Strong people see those moments for what they are: tests of stamina, creativity and willpower. They may ultimately choose to leave a losing situation, not because they are weak but rather, because they are strong.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

Don’t look for ease, look for strength

I went to a concert last night with a friend who has been having one of those year-from-hell-good-God-I-can’t-take-it-anymore moments. With good reason, too, because it really has been the year when everything that could possibly go wrong professionally has gone wrong for her. One thing after another. There was a frivolous professional grievance filed by a spiteful former client. Legal bills that escalated from outrageous to astronomical. A settlement that should have ended things but instead made the problem mushroom to other parts of her professional practice.

Last night, she showed up at the concert with more bad news: Someone had gotten hurt in the parking lot of her office building, and the building manager was able to force her out of her shared office arrangement since there was no lease.

She’s had enough. She wants to quit her practice and get a job. There wouldn’t be so many problems, one on top of another, each one getting bigger and bigger, if it weren’t some sort of sign that she should be doing something else. She’s exhausted and depressed and can’t stand the thought of anything else happening. There’s been so much bad news – way too much bad news – and she just wants it to stop.

“I just think this may be telling me it is time to leave the profession,” she said.

If she does, it is a real shame for the people she serves – and for herself — because she is gifted in her work and deserves great success. But, she’s lost faith in herself. Her reserves are depleted and she doesn’t think she has the energy to deal with another disappointment or setback. If she does abandon her work, she will do it because she is surrendering to a merciless run of horrible luck, not because she doesn’t want to do the work and not because she can’t succeed with it. It’s a decision made out of frustration and exhaustion.

Don’t look for ease, look for strength. Like all of us, you will go through difficult times, and how you emerge depends entirely on your approach adversity. You either give power to your obstacles, or build strength to deal with them. You can’t know when a run of bad luck is going to end, but have faith that it will end.

I have been taught something profound from every one of those old, unpleasant test points I have experienced in life, and my difficulties have ultimately led me to far greater personal or professional success than any of the accomplishments that came with ease.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

Enjoy the Moment

I often think of a story told to me by Kathryn Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space. Her mission was to deploy the Hubble Telescope, and it entailed complicated, intricate steps that all had to be perfectly executed.

“This was not the time to be staring out the window. We had the professional futures of other folks and a lot of federal money placed in trust in our hands.”

While she was doing her work outside the space shuttle, Commander Bob Crippen called out to the astronauts and had them take a second to look away from their tasks “…so we would know this was not a (training) repetition in the safety tank. It was the real deal. There was a planet over our shoulders. He made us pause to absorb the reality, and I’m so glad he did. We could well have gone back in the airlock and said, ‘Was that the (training) tank or was that for real?'”

When we immerse ourselves in so much intensity, it is so easy to lose perspective. The reward is not only achieving our goals, but the joy that comes from trying to attain them. Which memory means most to you – getting your college diploma, or remembering the things that happened on your way to earning it? Your wedding might have been a crown jewel moment in your life, but wasn’t it fun to go through all the giddiness of meeting and falling in love?

Remember that as you go on your way. Some of your experiences will be quite trying, but they really provide you with a defining moment to live all out and be who you are. Enjoy that. The reward is in doing something different, pushing yourself, feeling the support from your friends and family as you dare to be bold.

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Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

 

The power of affirmations

Countless studies have proven the connection between positive affirmations (either through self-talk or hypnosis) and positive results. The concept is this: If you tell yourself you are attractive and fun to be around enough times, your brain will overwrite your negative tapes that say you are ugly and unpopular. You will actually believe it if you say it enough times.

It works. Let’s just say I am in one of my disorganized spells. I might say to myself, “I’m a mess. I can’t get anything done, my desk is out of control and I can’t focus.” Well, what is the result? I can’t get anything done and I can’t focus. But, I launch into affirmation where I repeat, “I am more organized every minute. I am on task and producing better than ever.” I might say it fifty times the first day, thirty times the second day, and so on. It doesn’t take long for me to shift into high gear and start focusing hard and doing my work. If you want proof that it works, you’re reading it. I had to get this blog going, and I talked my way into it.

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Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

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What the negativity does

Don’t be so skeptical of the value of positive self-talk until you really look at the wonders of all the negative self-talk with which you’ve filled your brain. Yes, isn’t it a wonder how some of us voluntarily build ourselves up to be worthless, unattractive failures?

If you look in the mirror and see “fat,” you will be fat. If you look at your career track and think “average,” you will be average. If you look at possibility and see impossibility, you will encounter impossibility. You know it’s true that when you say you can’t, you can’t.

So this blog will, in part, teach you how to believe you can, because you can.

The beauty of it is, it is not hard at all to erase those negative tapes and overwrite them with positive ones that will drive you to a less stressful, more productive and happier life.

The power of repetition

The tapes inside your head are powerful. If you repeat a negative remark enough times, it will load itself into the permanent memory on your personal internal hard drive. I don’t believe you have the power to completely erase those tapes because it does seem like they are ready to play themselves again, as soon as you stop repeating your revised versions through affirmations. But, you have great control over the tapes and possess the ability to write over the bad ones, recording positive, constructive and productive affirmations that your psyche will absorb and use if you repeat them enough.

Like I said, I am no different from anyone else. I have had good times and bad in this life. When I am in a bad spell, I have to remind myself how easy it is to fix things by saying the right words to myself. It’s so easy, but it can be so hard to get started.

So, make up your mind. You want an easier way? You can have it.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

You Can Do Better

“You can do better than this.”

I can still hear my mother’s voice.

I was in the tenth grade and I had brought home a report card that boasted a few As, a couple of Bs, a C and the only  D I’d ever gotten – in geometry. I didn’t see anything wrong with that report card because it wasn’t much different from what my friends brought home, except for that little episode with geometry, for which I still don’t apologize.

But, Mom did see something wrong with that report card.

“You are not average,” she said, “So you can’t bring home a report card like this. If you were average, it would be all right. If I knew this was the best you could do, it would be all right. But, it isn’t the best you can do and you know it. You can do better.”

I hadn’t really thought about it before, whether I was smart or talented or anything else. I was just a kid who wanted desperately to fit in despite being hindered by a major case of nerdiness. I wanted to be average because then I would blend in with the others. Teenage life would be so much easier blending in with the crowd. No one would expect me to do anything more than the minimum. Hanging there with mediocrity seemed like a pretty safe way to get through high school.

If you think about it, I was right. And it applies to our work situations today. Mediocrity is a very safe place to hang. You don’t have to deal with the risk of being extreme – either too excellent or too poor. You aren’t a problem child that needs to be put on probation or dealt with. You aren’t a model of excellence who is a target for people who are jealous or threatened. You’re just in the crowd.

My mother’s tone of voice made it very clear that I would be making a few changes with regard to my academic approach.

It’s amazing how quickly I turned things around after that lecture. All As, and a B in geometry. I just had to make the decision.

I’ve had to make that decision again and again throughout my career. It is a conscious decision to ratchet things up another notch, to produce more, to concentrate harder, to work longer, to deliver. It is a decision to leave the pack and be excellent.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books, including an Oprah pick. She speaks to corporations and organizations on courageous and creative leadership strategies taken from her interviews with the best-known leaders of our times.

The Rules of Journalism

One of the most decidedly decadent things I have ever done for myself is put my nonfiction on hold to write a novel. Gone were the rules of journalism, and suddenly I had the freedom to twist and turn and create and invent. Mermaid Mambo was released last year and it’s been one of the more joyful risks I have ever taken.

In my acknowledgments, I note, “Novels are scary things to writers like me, who have built careers in the nonfiction world. If your nonfiction stinks, it might be the topic. If your novel sucks, it’s all your fault.” Because of that fear, I’d been too chicken to let go of my fiction. I asked Stephen King how he got the confidence to let go of his fiction and he told me, “You just have to know you are brilliant.” It’s a hard thing, putting your work out there in full view, where it can be ridiculed. That kept me from letting go of it and receiving all the wonderful mail from people who loved my characters and story. Mambo has been out there for a year now, and it is the most joyous project I’ve had.

My central character is a 78-year-old former Weeki-Wachee mermaid who needed to get back to the 60th reunion of the mermaids at the faded Florida tourist attraction. She winds up on a crazed road trip and it’s kind of a combination of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Thelma and Louise. In doing my research, I was embraced by the former and current Weeki Wacheemermaids who have filled my world with levity and perspective.

Some people tell me they are impressed by the litany of famous people I have interviewed for my nonfiction books. They want to know what Hillary is like and what I thought of Susan Sarandon. They ask about the presidents and prime ministers and CEOs. And the movie stars and Nobel laureates.

Those icons gave me such great material for success and leadership strategies. But, the people who gave me the greater insight on life were the mermaids of Weeki Wachee. I go tubing down the Weeki Wachee River with them and I am suddenly 20 again, and so are they, even though most of them are in their 50s and 60s. I’ve often told the story of mermaid Vicki Smith climbing a tree, letting out a yell and swinging through the air from a rope before making a remarkable splash into the river. At the time, she was 67. That said everything about living. Mermaid Barbara Wynns introduced me to this world and I marvel at how she redefines herself every day with more whimsy. That’s her helping me get into the tail in the above photo.

They are mermaids. They put on fabric tails and swim through the water, performing synchronized routines in a pristine Central Florida spring that has called to them since they were paid mermaids in their teens and 20s. They have their issues and their hardships — like all of us. All of that fades when they are on that river or are together sharing the bonds of friendship that have so deepened over time. I meet many people who measure their worth by the title on their business cards or the number on their paychecks. They miss the point of living.

Life really is a big adventure where we become rich with experience — if only we open ourselves to accept all the magic the world offers. We can live closed and limited lives by focusing on things or achievements that are temporary or ultimately inconsequential, or we can find great joy in the moment, daring to take in all the energy that surrounds us — if we just let go and live.

Mermaids Susie Pennoyer, Crystal Robson and Bev Sutton continue to crack me up with their river antics because they are free-spirited women who don’t care about pretense. They care about celebrating good times — even when they have their own challenges. We have a lot we can learn from them.

That’s why they inspire me.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations  and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

In a Rut

Years ago, the argument for my inertia  was strong: I had a secure job, decent pay, good health insurance, five weeks of vacation, the best friends I’d ever had. On top of all of that, I got to live in glorious Colorado. My argument for change was rather short: I was in a rut and was unhappy at work.

Someone wanted to hire me in Florida. The job looked good, the pay looked fine and I’d be near my family. But, I couldn’t seem to take the leap.

One of my mentors told me: “Don’t let security be your dangerous anchor.” And then, she said it again. “If you aren’t doing something,” she said, “you’re doing nothing.”

I took the job and never looked back as I created a new life of challenge and adventure, quickly learning that change is nothing to fear.

Ruts are comfortable and comforting. We know what to expect of our outside world, but there isn’t much cause to challenge ourselves. Our measurement of what we accomplish tomorrow is too often based on old goals that have lost their significance.

How often do you celebrate the goals you have reached, then take a moment to dream a little larger? Don’t measure yourself against the expectations of others, and don’t focus on competing against your peers. What do you want for your life? More money, more time, more freedom, more wisdom, more credentials, more perks, more love, more adventure? Know yourself, and measure yourself against your own dreams. Don’t fear change – seek it out. Don’t let security be your dangerous anchor.

The Ten Tell Tale Signs that you are in a Rut

1. You aren’t having fun

2. You aren’t challenged

3. You enjoy your job less and less

4. You don’t feel like talking about your work with your friends and family

5. You are smarter than your bosses

6. You keep reminding yourself of the good attributes of your job, and they all have to do with “golden handcuffs” – good pay, benefits and time off

7. You can predict your future and it looks exactly like your present

8. People say, “Are you still working there?”

9. You are jealous whenever someone “climbs over the wall” and quits

10. You feel stuck

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

 

Own Your Calendar

Own Your Calendar

Going crazy because you’ve got no time for yourself? Stop right now. Get into your calendar. Pick an hour — any hour — and make an appointment with yourself. Then, learn this important lesson: You own your calendar. You don’t need to complain about work-life balance, you don’t need to ask for tips on work-life balance. You just need to balance your life by owning your calendar.

Just as you find ways to make time for your hairdresser and physician, you can make time for yourself. All you have to do is decide to own your calendar. It’s your time.

Really. You get one life. Your time is spent the way you spend it. You do have many, many, many obligations, but those are your chosen callings. You can say no to a few things. You can do a few minimums on other things to create time for yourself. But, it is an amazing thing when you just write the word “off” in a slot on your calendar. Everything else fits around it.

This may sound overly simplified — especially if you are a parent who is truly juggling too much. But your time is your time. You can still, love, honor and adore the people around you, as well as be devoted to your work and community without putting yourself last every single time. You matter. You can’t be good for everyone else when you aren’t good for yourself.

There are times when you don’t have time to do anything except the insanity at hand. But those are exceptions. They must be exceptions. If they are not, then you need to make life changes that will give you enough calming moments in your day so you can function and actually live your life.

Look at your calendar. Give yourself an hour tomorrow. A day off within the next couple of weeks. Take the time, because it is your time. If you give every minute away, were you even here on this earth?

Bestselling author Fawn Germer is popular worldwide for her inspiring keynotes. She is recognized as one of the premier experts on work-life balance. To check availability for motivational speaking keynotes or workshops, or for information on life and executive coaching sessions, call (727) 467-0202 or write info@fawngermer.com.

 

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