Are you saying Not Yet, No or Yes?

Posted by on Mar, Wed, 2018 in Motivation | 0 comments

Susan Aglukark, Sylvia

“Trust the fear, it will always be there. Take advantage of opportunities and don’t fear the challenge, because that’s where the lessons are learned.” ~Susan Aglukark

I recently had the privilege to hear Susan Aglukark keynote and sing at a local event. She shared her story of how she minimized her ability to sing, citing she was simply a preacher’s daughter and “singing in the choir was what we did”.

Several times, she denied her talents to people in the music industry. I’m grateful that they encouraged her until she could see her talent and the opportunity it presents. As I reflected on her story, I thought about those opportunities I’ve let slip by in my life because I didn’t have the confidence to say yes.

How many times have you stepped back from opportunity because you told yourself you weren’t ready yet? Do you hold back, waiting until you have it all together?

Thinking that you just need to learn more before you could do a new task or apply for a promotion may simply be holding you back. Many people feel that they “just need one more course” or “I need more experience” before stepping up for a new identity.

Folks, it’s that fear being present – so just name that fear and step out of your comfort zone. Take the risk – because you might just be successful! If you make mistakes, you can learn and grow from them.

What if you fear success? Saying no because you are frightened will keep your gifts from being fully expressed. Because if you allow anxiety or fear sit in the driver’s seat of your life you will even more create chaos and doubt. Your mind will be busy monkey speak or negative self-talk. Fortunately, there are great techniques in my toolbox that can help you shift your mindset to realize your full potential! I truly believe success is possible for all – and that the fear of success can easily be overcome.

Playing small does not serve the world as Marianne Williamson says. So step up, be bold and see a new vision of yourself. If it doesn’t work out, at least you have given it your best shot and will have learned new lessons and skills.

Get a coach who will celebrate your wins and encourage your growth in business and in life. Sometimes we need someone outside ourselves to reflect back our real destiny and abilities.

In contrast, at the end of the evening, I meant another business owner who decided last year to say “yes” to all opportunities last year – and is experiencing remarkable success. And if Susan had of kept saying yes, we would have not had the gift of her wonderful message and voice!

Saying No, and not yet is likely to hold back your growth and progress so step up and take that risk!

What will you say “YES!” to today?

Have You Convicted Your Co-Worker of Being Nasty?

Posted by on Feb, Wed, 2018 in Communication | 0 comments

Judge with gavel

In a court of law, for some offenses there needs to be a clear intention to be found guilty of a crime. Yet in the ‘law of peers’ at work, people are often convicted of being angry, hurtful, rude without a trial. This is especially true with communication.

How many times have you been in a vulnerable emotional space when reading an email or during a conversation and quickly leaped to the conclusion that the person did not have your best interests at heart or that they intended harm?

Perhaps you decided they meant to be insulting, so maybe were curter in your response to them? And in response to you, they are even terser. The sad part is in some workplaces, the cycle can go on and on for years without being addressed.

What if you add the dynamic of gossip to this? Well, then it simply takes on a new lifeform – one of judgement and condemnation. You see, in unhealthy team environments, gossip often keeps alive inaccurate perceptions – and actually adds fuel to them. The good old brain starts to pump dopamine through it in response and everyone who is gossiping gets a false sense of connection and it feels good. In this process, you have all stepped up as judge and jury and have convicted the other person – without the benefit of a conversation.

Next time you are involved in communication that is strained in some way, I strongly encourage you to step back and ask yourself,

  • “What’s a more generous version of what happened?”
  • “Could I be interpreting this wrong?”
  • “How am I thinking or feeling that’s impacting my experience in a negative way?”

Then go and speak directly with the individual involved. Oftentimes, they were stressed and not paying attention to how they shared their message. As a coach, I’m simply shocked at how many times I give professionals feedback about their communication style and hear, “why did no one ever tell me about this??”

We all see and hear communication through or own lens or biases. If we believe the person has our best interests at heart, we are likely to give them some slack. However, if we’ve decided that another person is miserable and nasty we run the risk of not truly connecting to the person.

Check your biases at the door – when you feel vulnerable, what do you tend to think others are doing to you? Own it and go and speak directly with the other person with the intention to clear up any misunderstandings and to improve your working relationship.

Give both yourself and them the benefit of the doubt and go and when you speak with them. Chances are they weren’t intending harm and didn’t realize how they delivered their message. You can step down as the judge and become a respected and valued team member.

Being Heart-Centered at Work Starts with You

Posted by on Feb, Wed, 2018 in Individual Purpose | 0 comments

Man Cupping His Hands Protectively Over A Heart

I thought because today is Valentine’s Day, that it would be a great opportunity to talk about the importance of being heart-centered in business. But, let’s start at home – with you!

How are you taking care of yourself? Make yourself your own Valentine’s today by setting up weekly self-care activities.

  1. Refill your own cup first – What makes you feel relaxed, calm and then recharges you?
    Think about your 5 senses and how you can “feed” yourself by doing activities for each sense. It may be listening to your favourite genre of movies, the smell of a wood burning fire, getting a massage, reading a good book or taking in a beautiful scene, or savoring your favourite beverage or meal. Whatever works for you and gives you energy. Take out your day planner and make an important appointment with yourself do these things right now!
  2. Boundaries – Taking lunch and breaks.
    Research has shown that not taking regular breaks decreases your ability to concentrate and be as productive. So make sure that you are getting up and moving around. Take time away from your desk (or work area) to eat your lunch. Sometimes a simple change of location can shift your perspective enough that you are able to see a solution that was evading you. You will come back to your work with increased efficiency.
  3. Speaking Up – Being honest with yourself and others.
    Make a commitment to yourself to speak up with care and candidness when something is a concern. About 25% of people avoid what they perceive as a difficult conversation for over a year. A year filled with that stress in the back of your mind, building tension between you and the other person. Simply have a conversation that’s honest and caring before it’s a problem. You’ll find that you are freed from thinking of this situation once you’ve talked it through.
  4. Acknowledging Wins – Celebrate you!
    We all work hard! We often are seeking recognition from an outside source – and the one person who really needs to pay attention is you! Do you list your ‘wins’ of the day or week or month? Taking the time to fully acknowledge your accomplishments and growth allow you to take the next steps. How do you give yourself a shout out? Do something special or yourself on a regular basis simply to celebrate you!
    Once you make the list things you have accomplished in your life, you can use it to re-energize yourself. Also, when you are having a difficult day, you can simply pull out the list and remind yourself how capable and talented you really are.
  5. Practice Gratitude – and your life will be happier!
    The active daily practice of being grateful – perhaps for the smallest things in life can help to pay attention to what’s going well. Ever had one of those days when you thought “what more can go wrong?” and you are stressed to the max? Taking the time to list the things that well in the day can often free up much needed brain space. We don’t focus or think as clearly when stressed as the cortisol flows through our bodies. However, with gratitude practice, your dopamine and serotonin levels go up (these are natural anti-depressants in the brain).

I encourage you to start with yourself and increase your level of compassion and self-care today. Will you be … your own Valentine this year?

We Need Vulnerability in the Workplace

Posted by on Jan, Wed, 2018 in Leadership | 0 comments

Brene brown quote

Many people feel that the workplace and vulnerability should be mutually exclusive. For many people, especially in leadership roles, copious hours are spent trying to cover up their weaknesses and challenges. The underlying fear is often, if they find out what I don’t know, I’ll be ruined. This is a fear based way to operate and has a tendency to decrease trust and respect.

The reality is that true vulnerability can reap huge benefits for the team. As humans, we are imperfect by definition and so are flawed. And the wonderful thing is that when we are real with others – warts and all – people will also open up to us.

So how might you bring your own vulnerability into your team environment?

  1. Stop Comparing yourself to others. You need to step out of judgement as the process of making snap judgements about others (and yourself) prevents the confidence to share opening and ask for help. So when you hear that little voice in your head, simply take a deep breath and reframe your thoughts to more kind and helpful.
  2. Take Risks. What could you share with your team that would invite them to support you? Perhaps it’s a current challenge that you are struggling to resolve – and you simply could ask for help. Or, you might take a bigger risk to share an area where you know that others on the team have strengths in the area. Imagine how powerful it would be to fully acknowledge your team member and celebrate their success. You will be able to see them fully.
  3. Be willing to share your mistakes. And the learning that came from them. We often say that mistakes are only mistakes when we fail to learn from them. Then we hide our “mistakes” and learning – the underlying message is that is really isn’t okay to make mistakes – that they equate failure. Share those valuable nuggets of insight that you have gleaned from your personal experience.
  4. Ask for Help. What if asking for help was a strength? Well, I’m telling you it is! When we ask for help we stop struggling – and our stress level can decrease. A side effect is that, as we invite others to support us, we enable them to shine in their brilliance.
  5. Invite others to show up authentically. Once you role model that being human, a.k.a. vulnerable, others will be given permission to follow. Once individuals share their work challenges – you allow others to step into their genius and then they get to shine in their area of expertise. Imagine the incredible improvement in team projects.

Vulnerability is the place where we fully acknowledge ourselves, let ourselves be okay as we are, and enable ourselves to be supportive. Some vulnerability is required to have your team dynamics functional. When team members hold themselves apart from others, not sharing their truth and challenges, it simply prevents trust from forming.

Take the first step, open yourself up and invite your direct reports to do the same. Once this level of trust is established, your team results will soar.

Overcome the Fear of Being Put on the Spot in Meetings

Posted by on Jan, Wed, 2018 in Communication | 0 comments


Have you ever been in a meeting and not spoken up because you were concerned what reaction you might receive? Do you fear that you’ll be standing up unable to find the right words (or any words) to address the situation? Well, you are not alone.

One of the clients I’ve been working with recently avoids bringing up topics in meetings that are difficult for fear that they will be challenged in the meeting.  The fear of being put on the spot and not being able to quickly respond prevents this person from being as successful as they could be. As a result, their direct reports are able to continue in less than ideal behaviours. Not what’s best for the organization or for this manager – because it creates ongoing stress and anxiety.

So what can you do before you have complete brain freeze?

  1. Breathe. Learn to take deep breaths – in through you nose and out through your mouth. By slowing down your breathing, you will naturally relax your body more. A relaxed mind tends to think more clearly.
  2. Visualize successfully speaking up and getting a positive response. The power of visualization has been used by professional athletes for years. Notice how your body feels; use this technique to prepare for any and all “speaking up” conversations. If any stress or anxiety arises during this, use your breathing technique.
  3. Get clear on what you really want to say. Sometimes we speak before we think and that can create challenges, especially when coupled with anxiety. Taking the time to get your “sound bite” clear in your mind will assist you to be more concise and confident sounding to others.
  4. Practice the behavior. Get in the habit of taking risks and sharing your thoughts in meetings. Start with smaller things and set your goals a bit higher each time. Then ask for something (that’s important to you) to be put on the agenda and lead the discussion or if you facilitate the meeting, put a topic on the agenda that you have been avoiding.
  5. Reflect on your successes. The first part is speaking up, the second is about how well did I say what I wanted to say? Now as they say, rinse and repeat. Next time, set the bar a bit higher and keep challenging yourself to work on this goal of speaking up and fully acknowledge your wins.
  6. It is okay to not have all the answers. Remember that you don’t have to have all the answers in the moment. One of the gifts of working with people is that you can get back to them with an answer once you have reflected on it.
  7. Consider hiring a coach to assist you with your communication and presentation skills. By doing this you will build skills and have accountability to ensure that you don’t let anxiety win. You will gain confidence and competence in speaking effectively.
  8. Take an Improv Training Course. Improv is a team sport (it is not stand-up comedy)! Improv helps you to become more self-trusting as you realize that you can respond in the moment. And sometimes you get a really good belly laugh in the process – and that in itself is worth the price of lessons!

By making this a focus and changing your energy, thoughts and behaviours, you will shift into a new comfort zone. Speaking confidently is an important business and leadership skill. You deserve to be able to speak up and be heard no matter what meeting you are in!

Experience the Empowerment of Expanding Your Comfort Zone

Posted by on Jan, Wed, 2018 in Individual Purpose, Motivation | 0 comments


You can teach an old dog new tricks but that old dog must leave its comfort zone to do so!

So what big hairy audacious goals (BHAG) have you set for 2018? I challenge you to set at least one!!

Recently I took a major risk when I came ‘out of the closet’ as an Intuitive Business Coach specializing in Energy Techniques during a keynote to a business audience. When I first pitched the idea to talk about Energy techniques, I was nervously excited about the possibility. As the keynote grew closer, I had to use those energy techniques to deal with significant nervousness and anxiety about taking this risk. Well, I’m pleased to say that it was extremely well received! And I the personal satisfaction of expanding into a new comfort zone is absolutely exhilarating.

Now on the other side of the risk, I’m elated! Feeling incredibly empowered and centered to be able to offer all my clients the benefits of my complete expertise. It went even better than I could imagine!

So, how can you do it?

  1. Set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal This is a goal that is really outside of your realm of comfort. Something that you may have dreamt about, but felt too scared or nervous to seriously contemplate doing it in the past. Write it down on paper – it’s said that you are 80% more likely to reach the goal if it is written where you see it daily.
  2. Share it With Others By sharing the goal (in my case, having it written in a published schedule) you make a deeper level of commitment to fulfilling the goal. In this way, when fear gets in the way, you’ll be more likely to move through it because you’ll break your word, not only to yourself but to others as well.
  3. Managed the Emotional DiscomfortYes, we all experience emotional or mental discomfort when we step outside that comfort zone – and we deserve to learn how to manage it. Positive self-talk is important – you need to encourage yourself and realize that you are capable of moving through the fear/anxiety as you realize the goal. Be willing to ask for help.
  4. Get A Lot of Support!Reach out to numerous people and request support when you doubt yourself. If you need some help to work through this goal you might like to hire a coach who can assist you from fear to confidence.
  5. Celebrate!As you take each step towards the goal, really appreciate yourself for the risks you are taking. Once you have achieved that “BHAG” share your success with others as you champion yourself for a job well done. Enjoy the exhilaration – you’ve done the work so you deserve the high!
  6. Review the Process and RepeatTake time to reflect on what made it easier to reach this goal. Notice areas of greater challenge and how you overcome these obstacles. Make notes so that you’ll have this as a guide for the next big goal you set. Then simply repeat as you set the next big goal!

Wishing you many new breakthroughs and many Big Hairy Audacious Goals being achieved in 2018!

If you are seeking a keynote speaker on Energy Techniques for Business Success – please contact Sylvia.

How to Do a “Year in Review”

Posted by on Dec, Wed, 2017 in Individual Purpose | 0 comments

Reflections December 27

It’s common to let the past year’s successes, opportunities, and failures to be in the past – perhaps you’ve been saying something like, “I can’t wait for 2018, as it will be a fresh start”. Well, doing a ‘year in review’ is an invaluable resource for the future.

Take the time to review key events that you experienced in 2017. There are three categories to consider:

  1. What were my successes and breakthroughs?
  2. What opportunities did I accept and what ones did I let slip by?
  3. What were my failures or the situations where I did not get the results that I hoped for?

Now that you have your list, here’s what to do with it:

  1. Celebrate the successes. Look at each individual breakthrough and feel the satisfaction of each victory you achieved. What helped you accomplish these victories?
  2. Ask yourself, as a result of these successes, what did you learn about yourself?
  3. Look at the opportunities. What caused you to take on an opportunity? Conversely, what elements were present when you let opportunities to slip by? (For example, was it fear, questioning your abilities, and so on)
  4. How might you address these elements in a different manner in the upcoming year? How might you work through the fears, etc., so that you might take on even more opportunities for success in the future?
  5. Now look at the failures, as you remember these are learning opportunities. What created the results that you experienced? Look at both the positive and negatives of each situation.
  6. Now write down a list of goals for the upcoming year based on these “year in review” insights.
  7. What resources and types of support do you need to help you reach these goals? It may be reading material, self-help books, taking seminars, or executive coaching.
  8. Take one step now to reaching these goals by putting the supports you need in place.

Now you have gained so much from the past year, take some time to set intentions that you can act on in the upcoming year. Imagine how you’ll be even more successful next year!

5 Strategies to Manage Your Overwhelm

Posted by on Dec, Wed, 2017 in Motivation | 0 comments

Crazy inventor helmet for brain research

We’re in the final stretch of 2017! Rushing to get those deliverables completed so that you can relax over the holiday season. It’s the last month to ensure you’ve met your goals for the year.

We’re also into the crazy season of shopping, overeating, and celebrating. While it’s lots of fun, we are not only jugging our regularly busy schedules, we are adding a lot of extra social and family activities resulting in decreased energy, overwhelm and over-tiredness.

So, being able to operate at optimum energy is a challenge. Here are 5 tips to help you maintain a healthy vibe this Festive Season:

  1. Focus on your budget: Time and Money

Make a plan and decide this year about your priorities for the season. What events will you attend? Who will you provide gifts for? What is your financial and emotional budget?

Make an active choice about what events you really want to attend, you can be fully present rather than thinking about the next event you have to dash to. We cannot do everything so by making a choice and attending only meaningful celebrations, you create a more meaningful festive season.

  1. Stay Grounded

We all need to take care of our energy. Keeping grounded is important to remain calm, and balanced. Ensure that you do this every day.

Go to the quiet spot inside of you. If you can’t find it amongst the busy-ness, try the following visualization:

Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Now imagine roots growing from the balls of your feet and growing deep into the center of the earth. See a large boulder or rock in the middle of the earth and watch the roots grow around this.

  1. Take a Time Out

Spend quiet time with yourself every day. This may be meditating, walking the dog, listening to favourite music or reading a good book. By taking some time to simply relax each day, you lessen the risk of overwhelm.

Whether you budget 5 minutes or 30 minutes a day, making yourself a priority helps to calm your body and mind so that you are better equipped to deal with holiday stressors.

  1. A Treat or not a Treat?

Be thoughtful about the foods you are eating. Many of us have the tendency to overdo it during the party season. Having a special “treat” or drink may feel wonderful in the moment, but what’s it doing to your body? Have healthy meals or snacks before going to parties so you aren’t overly tempted with all those rich foods and desserts. You will be more likely to use moderation and really savour each bite.

  1. Sleep

Ensure you get enough sleep. Make sure you are getting to bed at a reasonable hour. When you are feeling stressed and having difficulty dropping off to sleep, use deep breathing techniques. For example, as you exhale see the dark, stressed energy leaving your body and breathe in the pure clear energy into your lungs.

Using essential oils, such as, lavender can be helpful to simply relax and get those much needed zzz’s. Simply drop a little on your pillow each night.

These techniques will help you to maintain your energy and keep vibrant through stress in work and in life.


Wishing you all a safe and festive season – be it Christmas or Yom Kippur or another holiday in your personal tradition.

7 Things that Erode Trust from a Leader

Posted by on Dec, Sun, 2017 in Leadership | 0 comments

Cracked cement symbolizing broken trust between people or partie

Trust and integrity are often used terms in business.

Do you ever take the time to reflect on how honest your personal behaviour is? When we become stressed, our behaviour tends to revert to less than optimal behaviour. A manager that I was working with some time ago prided himself on being honest, yet often failed to be clear and direct with his thoughts and goals to his staff. When he engaged this in this behaviour, his staff became stressed and became much less effective in their work.

Sometimes we can experience “creeping” of our ethics and this impacts those all around us – our direct reports, our relationships and our clients.

Ask yourself if you have engaged in any of the following behaviours:

  1. Embellishing things. This can be either exaggerating how wonderful something was (when it was only okay or good), or how bad things were (often done to illustrate your point and get others to side with you on an issue).
  2. Talking about other people.  Have you found yourself complaining about someone’s behaviour behind their back? If you are gossiping like this with your direct reports, rest assured, they’ll be wondering what you say behind their back and trust in you becomes eroded.
  3. Rescue people. Do you have a tendency to become uncomfortable when others are receiving feedback that is uncomfortable? I’ve witnessed senior managers who then start to defend the individual despite having very similar concerns themselves. This creates confusion for all. No one is clear on what you really think and your credibility becomes eroded.
  4. Ignore bad behaviour and reward positive behaviour. As a manager, you need to ensure that you are giving equal weight to both successes and areas of growth. When you fail to hold others accountable, you fail to allow their growth.
  5. Sugarcoat your message vs. giving clarity on where you really stand on a topic or issue. Perhaps you are looking for the perfectly politically-correct phrase to announce in a meeting rather than speaking in a direct and respectful way. What is driving you to find the phrase that pays? Are you attempting to get “buy in” or manipulating vs. allowing employees to understand what is really happening?
  6. Ask your workers to complete tasks or reports and then redo the work without sharing your rationale so they can grow. This micromanagement technique will certainly give you rationale to continue to micromanage. When you don’t coach your employees to complete strong reports and redo them yourself, they become offended and insulted and then will lose the incentive to do great work. After all, why ensure it’s a great report if it’s only going to get redone by someone else?
  7. Make decisions that could easily and effectively be made by your managers or employees. When you take over control, your managers and leaders will start to rely on you to make decisions and when those decisions are not the best, you can expect blame to come shortly thereafter. Encouraging responsibility and ownership at all levels of the organization is a key facet to successful business.

Take the time to review these 7 areas – have you gotten feedback (whether verbal, written or even non-verbal) from others that would suggest you’ve been engaging in these 7 self-defeating behaviours? If so, genuinely want to change, look for an Executive Coach to assist you in greater self-awareness and change.

Gossip: The Cancer for Trust and Team Dynamics

Posted by on Nov, Wed, 2017 in Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Colleagues gossiping with sad young businessman in foreground at

You see your staff gathered around the proverbial water cooler and connecting with co-workers. Perhaps they are catching up on what’s happened over the weekend. So, how does this inane behaviour become like a cancer? It happens when the conversation wanders off course and people start conversations with, “Did you hear that Sally in accounting…” Sometimes you may be inadvertently passing on dishonest and inaccurate information. I’ve worked with organizations where gossip was abundant and it appeared to be a symptom, as well as, cause of a dysfunctional team.

What began to happen, probably some years ago, was that people started to complain about each other making statements to one another that ‘she doesn’t even do her job’, ‘did you hear that …?’ The problem was twofold – the person was spreading gossip and it was based on a lie that someone had told. No one went directly to the person being gossiped about to see if it was an accurate statement and in actuality, it could be slanderous statement if it challenged the individual’s character. Gossip undermines people being direct with one another and resolving differences and challenges effectively.

Gossip is not helpful as it enables individuals to continually talk about other people with no accountability – often times team members will become pseudo-connected through this negativity. In other words, they become fused “as friends” through the common interest of criticizing another person. This is caused by the release of dopamine in the brain. So, when these individuals get together, they’ll fall back to their common interest which is gossip. It’s very rare to gossip about another’s strengths. Gossip tends to create cliques of individuals while it excludes others. This cancerous behaviour will undermine trust in one another. After all, if he says that about Sally, what would he say about me behind my back? These team dynamics create suspicion, mistrust and a negative workplace.

When there is a performance issue, the gossip can play the role of sweeping it under the proverbial rug. This happens as people complain together and avoid the direct conversations that might result in awareness and personal growth for another person. In this way, everyone is supporting the inappropriate behaviour. Gossip avoids the personal risk of having a difficult conversation.

If people are gossiping in your organization, challenge it by developing a zero tolerance policy and hold people accountable (including yourself). Let them know that gossip will not be tolerated and what the consequences will be should they continue.  If you know specific individuals who are frequent gossipers, then speak with each person directly and be clear on your expectations going forward. Ask your staff what they wish to achieve through their behaviour – is their goal to undermine people’s trust in them? Inquire how they would feel if others were treating them the same way. Gossip tends to break down trust in both individuals and teams, as it undermines direct communication, personal accountability and problem solving.

Instead, be a role model of direct communication. Take the time to have those difficult conversations. Encourage your direct reports to speak with the person they are impacted by and have them make a request for a change in behaviour. And you might just help an individual change their behaviour and be even more effective in their role.