Executive Coaching & Leadership DevelopmentExecutive Coaching & Leadership Development http://www.ceoptions.com Executive Coaching & Leadership Development Thu, 28 Apr 2016 18:28:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ain’t It Good to Be Alive http://www.ceoptions.com/aint-it-good-to-be-alive/ http://www.ceoptions.com/aint-it-good-to-be-alive/#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2016 19:19:59 +0000 http://www.ceoptions.com/?p=6842 alive0446Last weekend we trekked to Manhattan for the season premiere of ALIVE: 55+ and Kicking.

And what a day it was.

Just being in the presence of the executive producer, Vy Higginsen would have been enough. However, the day brought so much that I simply want to stand up and applaud the entire cast and the brilliance of an idea so needed in our world today.

Vi took the microphone before the start of the show and in her vivacious manner said, “The first 50 years of life are for learning, and the next 50 are for living.” And off we went on a musical holiday of song and story about, well just about all of us. It was about dreams gone astray, dreams fulfilled, happy days, hurtful days, and how to get up and get going, no matter what.

I will be interviewing Vy for my book “GUTSY BREAKTHROUGH STORIES” so here is just a snap shot of this mover and shaker. She is an award winning author, playwright, radio and TV personality. She is full of firsts: first woman on New York prime-time radio, first female executive in advertising, and founder of the Mama Foundation for the Arts in Harlem.

What is so amazing is her laugh and her warm, inclusive manner. I watched how she embraced just about everyone in the theater, before, at intermission, and after. For Vy, everyone is welcome to join her in the fun of living life fully.

Now, about “Alive” which features men and women from ages 55 to 76 singing their hearts out.

Ah, music! It does things to us that logical talking in sentences simply cannot touch. It soothes us, gives us courage, makes us remember, it is away to ease the pain of life and give us hope.

After 40 years in and out of prison, Theo Harris sings into our hearts about what it means to have a second chance, or even a third chance. He was a beacon of light after the 10:00 pm curfew in jail when there was no more talking. He would sing and give the men a chance to let the music be like a lullaby.

Deborah Bingham spoke of the shock of her son being diagnosed with cancer only to die in 2010. When she sang words to “I will always love you” it was the broken heart of a mother resonating with everyone in the room and even the men were wiping tears from their eyes.

Matthew Burke never know his parents. Let in a hallway when he was two weeks old, he was a number before he ever had a name. Always wondering about his mom, he named her Georgia and sings this song with the tenderness of a loving son.

After the show I was wondering, what if…

What if we had community shows like this all over the country. What if we all, just like these amazing men and women began to raise our voices in song to tell our stories.

What would your song be?

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A Vital Missing Piece of the Workplace Puzzle http://www.ceoptions.com/a-vital-missing-piece-of-the-workplace-puzzle/ http://www.ceoptions.com/a-vital-missing-piece-of-the-workplace-puzzle/#comments Fri, 25 Mar 2016 17:25:10 +0000 http://www.ceoptions.com/?p=6804 Puzzle PiecesSince most of us prefer information to be fast and direct, here is the missing puzzle piece right up front: what happened in our original organization, the family, goes with us to work…whether we like it or not.

When I stumbled on this counter-intuitive nugget of knowledge it changed the direction of my career to work exclusively with businesses to rethink the causes of stress related issues and interpersonal conflict.

I used to believe the common philosophy that there needed to be clear boundaries between home and work.  The “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” mindset is the one to live by.

Right?

Not really. While most of the time we can maintain clear boundaries, when stress hits the hot button all hell can break loose.

Over the top stress can be a deal breaker. It impacts physical health, emotional perspectives and important relationships.

While I adhere to great stress reduction techniques, there is one area that exercise, yoga, deep breathing, massage or mindfulness could not touch.

Sadly, it held me back from promotions and workplace success. I also lost some good friends and colleagues over my behavior. Even traditional psychotherapy never gave me the answers I needed.

When I became an entrepreneur and owned a business, I was finally forced to take a deeper look into that dark part of my behavior and grab the darn puzzle piece that had been eluding me for decades.

First, the back story.

Watching my father die from a sudden heart attack when I was fourteen was, no surprise, a master game-changer. My older brother was off to college and there I was, left with a gaping hole at home including a fearful and depressed mother.

Eventually, scabs formed over the trauma and to the outside world all was now fine. Different, yet fine.

Life goes on.  I put the past behind and focused on the future. I used the present as a launching pad for what was next.

Except…the past is always part of the present and helps to determine the future. I chose to ignore the past. It was too painful.

As a young manager I was empathetic, encouraging and energetic. Yet, when someone left my team for another opportunity I judged them. I loudly predicted they would want to come back. I decided never   to talk with them again. It was not pretty.

I became a real witch.

Most of us believe that we make work decisions based on conscious deliberation. One important study found that our unconscious brains are engineering our decisions milliseconds before our conscious brains can get around to them. German brain scientist John-Dylan Hayes states “Our brains make decisions based on emotional and rational assessment that we’re not aware of; only later after the decision is actually made do we explain our decisions and actions to ourselves.”

Thanks to advances in neuroscience, we now know that our unconscious emotions occupy a different region of the brain, often exerting a more powerful influence on our preferences and actions. Daniel Siegel’s book “The Developing Mind” synthesizes information to explore the idea that interpersonal experiences impact the structure and function of the brain.

Enter Lisa.

Lisa was my assistant. She was woven from angel cloth. We worked together in tandem, the flow was amazing.

One sunny May day she wanted to talk with me and my partner (who was also my husband). The look of delight on her face made me uneasy. We exchanged pleasantries and finally she blurted out “I love working here and so it is hard for me to say I will be leaving in six weeks. You have always taught everyone to grow to their fullest potential. I was hoping that I would get enough money back from income tax to return to school and, yes, it happened.”

She waited to hear congratulations.

Instead I burst into tears and said through gulps of air “Lisa, you can’t leave.”

Lisa sat, with that deer in the headlights look, while my husband took my hand and said “Sylvia, she’s going back to school. This is all good.”

Then he “got it” and asked Lisa to leave us for a bit.

“What’s up” is all he said.

“I need her.” Was best I could muster.

It took a few powerful minutes for me to compose myself and understand what had just happened. For me, even though Lisa was giving us fair notice, news of her departure was a shock. I had not expected her to leave, well, forever.

I finally saw my tendency (we did not have the language to be pattern aware back then) to get “antsy” whenever someone in my life was ready to move on. I observed and understood that the past crisis of my father’s sudden death came to work with me, over and over.

It was the first time I had a clear understanding of how powerful patterns from childhood play out at work.

The knowledge of how family and work are intertwined fills in the missing puzzle piece, especially when there is conflict at work. Many seemingly unrelated incidents link together to form patterns that often repeat and repeat and repeat. It is the key missing component to stress related issues, conflict and poor productivity. And that brings us to today.

Adding emotional and social intelligence to leadership training helps develop a more humane culture in the data driven work world of today.  Now, it is time to include techniques for becoming pattern aware and learn to observe, understand and transform the motivations, stimuli and responses, as well as past circumstances, when there are interpersonal issues at work. This is the missing puzzle piece for more effective workplace relationships and healthy work cultures.

Puzzle Pieces

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Donald Trump, Pandora and the State of Our Nation http://www.ceoptions.com/donald-trump-pandora-and-the-state-of-our-nation/ http://www.ceoptions.com/donald-trump-pandora-and-the-state-of-our-nation/#comments Mon, 14 Mar 2016 20:03:29 +0000 http://www.ceoptions.com/?p=6649 Pandora's BoxThere was a curious incident during a recent basketball game between the students of two high schools in Massachusetts.

Is it because of Donald Trump?

Or is it just that somewhere on the planet Pandora, that beautiful gal from Ancient Greece, once again opened the mysterious box she was told never to open.

And all hell broke loose.

Pandora opened the box hoping to see gowns of silk and bracelets of gold. Instead out of the box poured all the evils of the world. In the shape of ugly creatures (thugs, if you will). What poured out was disease, poverty, jealousy, anger, corruption, lying, stealing, bigotry, polarization, mean-spiritedness, contamination, war, pestilence, affairs, physical and sexual abuse, gun and knife fights, partisanship and whatever else you can think of that resides in the realm of humankind that we prefer to, either avoid, deny or attack without thought of consequences.

Back to the high school basketball night. The kids at one of the schools with high intensity began shouting at the all-boys Catholic school that it was a “sausage fest.” Yes, you know what they were talking about.

Kind of like Mario Rubio talking about the size of Donald Trump’s hands with a negative inference to an image like a sausage. Mr. Trump took up the challenge and told Rubio, and the world, not to worry about his endowment.

Is all fair in love and war and presidential primaries?

Revenge is rampant when all boundaries are broken and no one really cares about what they say or do. So, the kids at the Catholic school took the offensive and chanted to their adversaries “you killed Jesus.”

Are we back in medieval times or ready for another holocaust, only this time in the United States?

The story continues.

And here is the only good thing that can come from Pandora, Trump, Rubio and all the rest of the candidates who are lobbing grenades at each other and giving permission for any degree of good taste to be thrown to the winds.

Pandora’s Box needs to be opened one more time.

There was only one thing left in Pandora’s Box and it was crying to be let out. The only thing that remained in the box was hope.

It flew from the now open box, in the shape of a beautiful dragonfly. It healed all the wounds inflicted by the thugs, those ugly, evil creatures, as only hope can do.

Perhaps good can come from the bad, the hurtful, the ugly.

There will be a meeting of reconciliation between the students at the two high schools. Hopefully, with proper adult guidance the teenagers will begin a dialogue about how rules of healthy communication can make a positive difference.

And about the candidates competing for one of the most powerful positions in the world, hopefully it is   not too late for them to see that the whole world is waiting. No longer will reality television rule our land. No more trash talk. No more public relations dictums stating that bad press is better than no press.

Words have the power to harm, hurt or heal. We are at rock bottom. Let’s hope that enough of us are ready to take a stand and say the crassness and demeaning will stop now.

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Powerful and GUTSY http://www.ceoptions.com/powerful-and-gutsy/ http://www.ceoptions.com/powerful-and-gutsy/#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2016 16:15:36 +0000 http://www.ceoptions.com/?p=6470 Sisterhood-at-sunset

I have a birth to announce.

Beautiful babies come in various packages. Some in the warm skin of an infant son or daughter. Others as works of art, music, photography, dance, the written word.

Joan Scharff just gave birth to a wonderful book of poems and pictures. I met her several years ago when she was at our GUTSY Women weekend. Then a year later she completed our flagship Total Leadership Connections program.

Now she has taken two of her passions, photography and poetry and has birthed a beautiful book “Lessons I’ve Learned from a Flower.

I am so awed by what she has done I want everyone to know about this beautiful new book.

I am including one of the poems. It was sparked by what she learned when she was requested to explore her family history, her Sankofa Map, to see how it connects with her present life at work and home. It is a deep probing of the intricacies of generational connections. Here she used incredible and sensitive language to show how women, mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts give and get from each other. I have printed the entire poem here for all to enjoy:

STRONG STOCK

I come from strong stock

And a long line of strong women too

Sometimes, strong women are silenced

Beaten down

Criticized

Enslaved by housework and thankless tasks

Held back and hidden

Surprisingly even by

And sometimes especially by

Their own mothers

And eventually by their own doing

It is not always safe to be a strong woman

Look at history

DNA remembers

The days when strong women were exiled

Used and abused

Burned in flames

Ostracized and bloodied

With threats and lifetimes of conditioning

On how to stay alive

Even after the need to condition and control have long

Since disappeared

Still tongues are tempered and tamed

Behavior patterns en-grained

Stay small

Stay hidden

For intended survival

Fear lives long after threat is gone

Or motives are remembered

Leaves one believing I must be wrong to want more

Emphasis is put on attributes that serve

Put another’s pleasure first, wait for someone else to move

Even when the cost is steep

Keep your mouth shut

Some attributes matter little in the end

Can be stolen or replaced when tired and old

External beauty weathers

She was so nice, such a good girl

Sweet one

What happened, why is she so bitter and cold?

Bury alive our powers, connection and gifts

All the while fire in the belly smolders

Secret wishes to be more, call and whisper in her ears,

Perhaps by all the others, those before her

Generation upon generation of mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters

A call to come alive again

Buried strength and talents awakened

DNA remembers these too

Wild spirit

Hidden sparks

Passion ignited

By the bands and tribe

By the burning need leaves one thinking, I am so honored

To be alive

Yes

To be strong

To be part of strong stock

 

You can email Joan at joan.m.scharff@lmco.com Connect with her to thank her for her dedication to this wonderful project and the book is a marvelous gift for birthdays and Valentine’s Day to arrive soon.

Sisterhood-at-sunset

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Leadership Lessons: How to Raise Healthy Kids to Be Excellent Leaders http://www.ceoptions.com/leadership-lessons-how-to-raise-healthy-kids-to-be-excellent-leaders/ http://www.ceoptions.com/leadership-lessons-how-to-raise-healthy-kids-to-be-excellent-leaders/#comments Fri, 22 Jan 2016 19:10:09 +0000 http://www.ceoptions.com/?p=6465 kids-playdough

We know all the basics: lots of fresh air, sleep, fruits and vegetables, friendships, and loving parents.

There is one extra area that works like a charm. It is kids teaching kids.

You see, too much adult supervision and youngsters stop listening. All they hear is blah, blah, blah. And more than that, there is a deep pattern starting when the little ones are around two years old to say “NO.”

Enter the peer group.

No, I’m not talking about in the teen years when there is the fear of rebelling and going to the dark side with friends. I’m talking about when friendships are forming and behavior patterns can be developed amongst the youngsters for good habits.

Now, I’m not bragging. I’m just sharing a video that shows a ten year old who loves to be in the kitchen and wants to help her friends eat, drink and be happy.

This little girl started to experiment in the kitchen with cookie dough when she was very small and now, with some great encouragement she is showing other kids how to make simple, appealing, and good for you foods.

Hey, I learned the easy way to get the kale leaves ready for a salad from her. And she even taught me to make a killer fennel salad.

The main thing here is that children will listen to other children faster than to an adult when it comes to learning new things. There is less of a feeling of intimidation and more of a feeling of camaraderie. We know this and yet we still want to monitor and teach in old-fashioned ways.

There are a few schools that have developed recently where the adult teachers are only consultants and the children run the classrooms. The consultants are asked to help when the children get stuck. And surprisingly, the kids are more prone to stick with what they are doing and figure it out themselves and only ask for help late in the game.

We know that we must keep our young ones out of harm’s way, and yet it does seem that we have been helicopter parenting way too much.

Think of mother tigers who have a little baby tiger that falls into a ravine. The mother tiger sits patiently at the crest of the hill while the baby figures out how to climb out. Maybe more of that and more room for peer group teaching would make the next generations more confident, healthy and ready to tackle the complex issues that this hurting planet is facing right now.

And by the way, for full disclosure, that ten year old in the video is my granddaughter.

kids-playdough

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The Power of Film and Film Stars: Thank You Jim Carrey and Leonardo di Caprio http://www.ceoptions.com/the-power-of-film-and-film-stars-thank-you-jim-carry-and-leonardo-di-caprio/ http://www.ceoptions.com/the-power-of-film-and-film-stars-thank-you-jim-carry-and-leonardo-di-caprio/#comments Mon, 11 Jan 2016 17:31:48 +0000 http://ceoptions.com/?p=6221 Jim Carey 2016 Golden Globes

I sat through the Golden Globe Awards hoping to see and hear something that would stay with me emotionally. With all the sixth grade humor about butt holes, alcohol and sexual innuendos I was able to multitask and get some work done on my new book, “Every Word Counts.”

I kept thinking “When did we lose the elegance of wanting to elevate and help people grow?”

Toward the end of this fluffy and superficial evening I was just about to give up and turn off the tube. And then Jim Carrey came on looking majestic with a super cool beard. It was clear he has done some good personal work when he talked about “being Jim Carrey who has won two Golden Globes and falling asleep thinking about becoming the Jim Carrey who will win three Golden Globes hoping will complete him.”

It was done so simply, so subtly that I wondered who got the message behind the message. It is also what we discuss with business leaders. No matter how many awards you win, no matter how well recognized you are, no matter how much money you have, you cannot fill the deeper place inside you with outer trappings.

I said a silent “thank you” to Mr. Carrey.

And then came the most powerful moment of all. When Leonardo di Caprio won the award for best actor in the film “The Revenant.”

The whole night was worth the time.

How many of you knew the meaning, or even heard the word “revenant” before this film came out? I love words and love a rich vocabulary and I had no idea what revenant meant, and even more, that anyone would name a film with such an unusual title.

Revenant: a person who has returned, supposedly from the dead.

I thought to myself that this film must be a deal breaker, away from traditional Hollywood films that just want a lot of noise and no substance. Why not just call it “return from the dead” I wondered.

Di Caprio was gracious as befits a star of his caliber. And then, while the music was gently bidding him to end his thank you list he kept going. I have copied his words here:

“Even more important, I want to share this award with all the First Nations people represented in the film and all the indigenous communities around the world. It is time that we recognize your history and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them. It is time that we heard your voice and protect the planet for future generations.”

Now that is what star power can do!

Jim Carey 2016 Golden Globes

 

 

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Happy Holidays, Happy YOU http://www.ceoptions.com/happy-holidays-happy-you/ http://www.ceoptions.com/happy-holidays-happy-you/#comments Mon, 21 Dec 2015 15:42:18 +0000 http://ceoptions.com/?p=6166 Wind Surfing Santa

I just came home from shopping for the last minute gifts for my family. Was it fun? Well, some of it was and some of it was rather annoying.

I took time to observe my reactions to the good moments and the sour ones. Then I found some research that aligned with my feelings and I decided to share this now, while we are still in the throes of holiday fever. At least till after the New Year’s bells ring out at midnight on December 31.

Listen to what I learned and then pay attention to how you respond in the next week.

The research from The British Medical Journal indicates that people who celebrate at this time of year have increased oxygen flow to five parts of the brain. Celebrating whatever you call your special holiday is the good part. Just sharing with family and friends with no more of an agenda than being together is powerful.

In the research they had individuals look at yuletide images, could be Frosty the snowman, Rudolf the red nosed reindeer, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, jolly old Saint Nick, photos of candles and evergreen trees. You name it, it works to evoke feelings of joy and nostalgia.

It brought up a memory for me that always makes me laugh.

We were working with a company in the U.K. that fulfills tons of orders between Christmas and New Year. They make upscale appetizers that go to boutique hotels for parties. I bet you can guess what is next.

They even have to work overtime during the week when everyone else is partying. We were working with the leadership who had to get the line staff to be there for the long haul. In past years there were lots of employees who called in sick and the stress and anger was high.

We were asked to help the leadership find a solution.

The employees were the ones who came up with the answer, and I might add it was brilliant.

There was a contest to find the perfect graphic to put up everywhere in the company to help them stay focused and not give into the stress and frustration because they had to work during holiday time.

They were told that the winner of the graphic contest would get an extra bonus and the whole team would have extra time off in January.

Santa on a surfboard won.

That fun picture of Santa, beard flying in the wind, multi-colored bathing trunks and handling the huge wave he was riding like it was his sleigh was everywhere in this company. Just the sight of this happy Santa kept the troops at work smiling and cooperating. It kept people motivated to work together and keep a positive attitude.

When the year was over absences were at the lowest in 10 years and sales were the highest.

Just a suggestion: find some feelings of joy and even if they are in short supply, find some happy nostalgic memories. Wish everyone you meet a happy holiday. You will feel better and be healthier.

And, when you have a down moment please remember how Santa on a surf board helped a whole company kick butt with huge bonuses for all.

Wind Surfing Santa

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Is Holiday Stress Following You to Work? http://www.ceoptions.com/is-holiday-stress-following-you-to-work/ http://www.ceoptions.com/is-holiday-stress-following-you-to-work/#comments Tue, 08 Dec 2015 15:27:13 +0000 http://ceoptions.com/?p=6089 Stressed Out With Fire Ears700X400

How do you get year-end work done, prepare for family gatherings and stay in a happy mood when all you want to do in the morning is pull the covers over your head?

That’s a question I get asked starting the day after Halloween non-stop till New Year’s Eve becomes a dull memory in early January.

Why is there so much stress and frustration during this time of tinsel and mistletoe? Is it that way for everyone? So many say it seems impossible for the end of the year to be fun and easy. And yes, that’s just about for everyone.

Here’s a core reason. Most of us either want to remember the holiday season from childhood with rose colored glasses, or if it was a really tough time, we are determined to put those glasses on now to make better memories.

The problem is, reality has a way of coming in and throwing some curve balls. You know like:

  • The electricity goes out right before Christmas dinner and the turkey is only half cooked.
  • You favorite sibling brings some friends to camp out at your place for “just a few days” and it’s now over a week.
  • The forecast for a few inches of snow turns into the blizzard of the century.

Keep reading.

  • You are told that the project you were working on needs more attention and you have to stay at work just when your kid is the cute elf in the school play.
  • Your mean-spirited, bully boss decides to lay off ten employees and guess who has to tell them the bad news?
  • You get to the airport for the amazing family trip to Italy and your passport is nowhere in sight.

Keep reading:

  • You can’t get the funds together for the special bike you promised your son.
  • You see your spouse spending way too much money on gifts that s/he thinks will be a surprise, except all the receipts are on the kitchen table and you are fuming.
  • You remember all the times as a kid you were promised great presents and ended up with underwear because it was the necessary gift.

Okay, you can all add more stories to the list. These are just the ones I heard yesterday at an off-site that was meant to help employees learn to “practice safe stress.”

I gave the group some mindfulness exercises and showed them how to breathe slowly and deeply to limit anxiety and quench anger. I taught them how to re-frame the disappointments into opportunities using cognitive psychology.

Here are some books and other ways to help you have less stress.

And especially take some time to ask your family members about themselves. Keep it short and simple. You will be surprised how much better you feel when you extend yourself with a caring and generous nature. Oh, and happy holidays…no stress here.

Stressed Out With Fire Ears700X400

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How To Help a Toxic Boss Become a Positive Leader http://www.ceoptions.com/how-to-help-a-toxic-boss-become-a-positive-leader/ http://www.ceoptions.com/how-to-help-a-toxic-boss-become-a-positive-leader/#comments Tue, 08 Dec 2015 15:14:39 +0000 http://ceoptions.com/?p=6085 angry_boss 888fulcrum

It is a basic fact that water rolls downhill. “So what” you say.

Well, that is an obvious truth. So is the fact that toxic leaders can cause their employees to act badly. However, there is another part to this equation. While people are blaming their bosses for blaming and shaming the same is true of employees who return the blame and point to the boss.

This is a pattern of victimization and bullying that lies deeper than just the way one or two individuals behave. This is a pattern of lack of accountability and everyone then plays “The Gotcha Game.”

Where does it stop? How about with YOU.

You can say out loud to anyone in earshot “I am no longer willing to play gotcha. I am no longer willing to judge, blame and attack just because that is the way of this workplace.

Here is how change can really happen. If one or two people stand tall and say “No more!” it has a medicinal effect on those who are listening. You can set a positive standard for how to respond to each other and when someone comes to put down a co-worker or your boss, simply say “Not playing” and walk away. Don’t defend, explain or justify, just say NO.

This will help everyone see a new way. In any system if one part of the system changes, it impacts the whole system.

If the boss complains you can ask a very important question which is “What do you want me to do with this information about John, or Jean or Jerry?”

Then the key is to be silent and wait for an answer. This is how you can help your toxic boss become a positive leader.

Go ahead, take a chance and stand for what is right. This approach will serve everyone on your team, everyone in your company and make a difference for all.

angry_boss 888fulcrum

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Honoring Our Veterans: Each In Our Own Way http://www.ceoptions.com/honoring-our-veterans-each-in-our-own-way/ http://www.ceoptions.com/honoring-our-veterans-each-in-our-own-way/#comments Tue, 10 Nov 2015 17:48:18 +0000 http://ceoptions.com/?p=6023 UnitedStates_VeteransDay2013_freecomputerdesktopwallpaper_2560

I sat in silence listening to the stories of battered trucks driving down dirt roads and blowing up just a hairs breath from soldiers on duty. I heard about the pain, angst and often guilt that is part of physically fighting someone into submission or fear being killed.

The vets all said, in their own way, “war is hell.”

While I know our soldiers have risked life and limb to keep us safe, I was sitting in a room and listening to the war stories that brought the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Gulf War, and Viet Nam, more deeply into my own safe and simple world.

Here is how it happened: Our retreat center in Northeast Pennsylvania is set way back in the woods and no one just shows up to walk around. Except, one sunny day a tall, muscular man was there, checking out the grounds. He heard a rumor the retreat center may be for sale and he was looking for a home for the veterans who needed to heal from the wounds of war.

The man, Mark Baylis has become a dear friend and rather than talk about selling we ended up talking about helping.

Mark, a retired sergeant major in the U.S. Army is a man with a dream, a BIG dream. He is also a forceful leader and while it is not on his resume, a brilliant salesman.

By the time my husband Herb, Mark and I had finished pizza and conversation we were knee deep in plans to start a program for vets, especially those (just about all) who have PTSD.

And Veterans Unstoppable was birthed.

The program, based on our Total Leadership Connections Program™, helps vets reclaim their lives and make a difference at home as they did abroad.

What happened in combat is put into a larger view of total life situations. They are shown how to connect the dots of the three areas that make each of us who we are; family, culture and crises. The vets are given tools to re-frame their war situations and use what happened in positive ways for the future.

Like Chet, who came into the program in a wheelchair, young (and handsome) yet he was able to face his injury and the fact that he would never play basketball again, never walk again, but continue to look for his next place of health and happiness.

Until now he had spent his time reliving the trauma of war and feeling sorry for himself. Now, as he looked at his life, his childhood, his family challenges, his dreams and wishes, he was able to see that his talent as a young high school basketball star could be repackaged as a coach.

He was able to look at the way his parents and grandparents and even great grandparents had overcome adversity and that was what gave Chet to courage to change and heal.

A quote from Winston Churchill puts the core of the program best “The further back you can look, the further forward you are likely to see”

Learning how to connect the dots of what happens in life helps individuals move forward. Traumas can be healed and we are so appreciative to be able to contribute with our program.

At this time to honor our veterans I would like to give a special shout out to Mark Baylis whose vision and determination have helped and will continue to help so many.

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