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Chicken Soup for Success

Consider enrolling in programs taught by instructors skilled in guided imagery, progressive relaxation, and visualization

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My friend, Mark Victor Hanson, had written several books since the mid 1980s, but no best sellers. In 1994, he and his pal, Jack Canfield, pondered an idea that eventually became Chicken Soup for the Soul.

A Million Dollar Title

Even before they settled on a book title, these co-authors used visualization to derive what Mark called a “million dollar title.” After many weeks, the phrase “Chicken Soup for the Soul” emerged.

When Chicken Soup for the Soul was first published, there was little fanfare. So, Mark employed visualization again.

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He took a copy of the New York Times bestseller list, and using the same font and point size, he pasted Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hanson in the #1 position for non-fiction books. To draw energy, he put the list on his wall, where he could see it everyday, and would contribute to the book’s rise to national and then world prominence.

After the book’s success, I wrote to Mark and told him, “You are the best example of someone who clearly envisioned himself to spectacular success.”

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery is much like visualization. Instead you rely upon another person, who takes you through a series of steps designed to bring you to a more relaxed state. The instructor or group leader might first ask you to close your eyes, sit erectly but comfortably, and perhaps concentrate on some part of your body or your breathing.

A guided imagery session might start with your forehead and work down to your feet, or vice versa. Depending on the purpose of the session, it could help you to achieve progressive relaxation, a stress reduction technique.

Progressive relaxation involves tensing each muscle of the body – for example, your shoulders – and then letting go. Then tensing them again, and then letting go. If you’ll try this right now, you’ll see that after the third time that you ease up, your shoulders feel more relaxed, perhaps unusually warm.

Guided imagery works well because you simply respond to vocal instructions. This helps you to diminish any internal mental chatter that could otherwise impede your quest to achieve relaxation.

Coming to Your Town

In nearly every city, you can enroll in adult education programs taught by instructors skilled in guided imagery, progressive relaxation, and visualization to reduce stress, become more focused, and gain more energy. And a variety of online instructional resources are readily available.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Business

Get Coached, Get Better

If you feel as if your career progression is not sufficent, you likely need a career coach

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No boss, coworker, peer, spouse, parent, relative, friend, or anyone else, will accompany you through each job. You alone will be with yourself every step of your career journey; you’re it! You’re the only one who can increase the your career prospects, the quality of your relationships, your self-confidence, and your peace of mind.

Work With a Coach

I was fortunate early in my career to recognize the need to retain a career coach. In a nutshell, a career coach can help:

* diagnose and sort out your situation and opportunities

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* offer new strategies for coping with office politics and competition from other firms

* show you vital stress management skills

* discover or capitalize on new opportunities

A good coach provides new tools to chart your goals and career path, and improve communication. Your career coach can be your positive personal, behind-the-scenes confidant, consultant, and resource.

The Benefit From a Career Coach

If you lack self-confidence, or feel as if your career progression is not on the right track, or are faced with any of the following, then it’s likely you need a career coach:

1. Organizational changes within your organization especially if they have a direct impact on you.

2. Acquisitions or mergers.

3. Expansion into new markets.

4. Diversification into new products or services.

5. Increased competition to your firm from other firms trying to take over your market share.

6. Increased management or supervisory responsibility.

7. Increased leadership opportunities.

8. A recent or soon-to-be available promotion.

9. A new boss, or leadership shake-up above you.

10. Changes in your role or assignments within your company.

11. In-company competition and power plays, corporate intrigue, jockeying for position, or turf protection.

12. Blockades of your progress by internal feuds or informal political processes.

13. Increased media exposure or public speaking requirements.

14. Increased production or sales quotas.

15. A new project you must lead or participate in developing.

For several years I worked with a career coach – we met only once quarterly for two hours but I would depart supercharged.

An Employment Contract

You coach might be able to guide you on the topic of employment contracts. The notion of generating an employment contract has been around for decades, yet most career professionals to this day know what an employment contract is, how to draw one up, or how to ensure that they only work with a contract in force.

Among other things, my coach advised me on the importance of establishing a contract. When I first heard this, I was amazed. “You mean that I am to march into my boss’s office and suggest that we develop a contract that defines both the company’s and my responsibilities over the next twelve months?” Yes. Exactly!

In all industries, the most valuable people work with a contract. This is true in the NBA, Fortune 500 companies; philanthropic groups; the highest levels of government; and civic, social, and charitable organizations. The top talent works under an employment contract.

A Huge Boost

Among other things, having an employment contract is a great confidence booster. Essentially, it defines your working conditions for the length of a specified term. It establishes your compensation rate. It practically secures your employment.

What’s more, the contract enhances your confidence while you’re writing it, and it gives you practice in assertiveness. This occurs when you first introduce the subject with your prospective or current employer and when you actually conduct the session to consummate the contract negotiation.

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Business

Hear Me Roar

Top achievers are not dramatically different from you or me; they have useful skills and outlooks …that we can acquire

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Deborah Benton, author of Lions Don’t Need to Roar, is a leadership expert. She has observed hundreds of CEOs, COOs, and company presidents, seeking to find what enables them to accomplish so much.

In her book, she notes that while it’s essential to exhibit competence in one’s position, inspire confidence in others, act accordingly at business functions, and become adept at maneuvering within the firm, it takes something more to make it to the top as a strong leader.

Benton says, “Top people are not magical, blessed, or dramatically different from you or me. They simply have skills and outlooks that the rest of us don’t have, but can get.” Here are some important tips for those who seek to stand out as strong leaders within their organizations:

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Continually Explore New Options

With al of the advances in every profession and the new forms of competition springing from everywhere, to “coast” today is to “roast.” Top achievers in every profession understand that staying put can be risky, so they take decisive action.

In their book, Surfing the Edge of Chaos: The Laws of Nature and the New Laws of Business, authors Richard Pascale, Mark Millemann, and Linda Gioja argue that “equilibrium is a precursor to death.”

The individuals who get things done have the guts to speak in front of others and take calculated risks (recognizing that the experience will be invaluable).

Could this mean that on the path to high achievement, now and then you’re going to fail? The notion of taking calculated risks runs deep among the career achievers.

Be a People Person

A popular stereotype holds that high-achievers tend to be stodgy types. However, Benton finds the situation to be the opposite. Such career professionals laugh and smile often, are fond of telling stories (as long as they convey a point), and know how and when to physically touch others.

They’re also well-skilled in the ability to ask for favors, and they realize how important that makes others feel.

Regardless of how much society advances technologically, those individuals who stand out as strong leaders will take risks, learn from errors, and advance because of their strong ability to interact with others.

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